“These two remarkable, highly resilient women may not be remembered as great Australians, but they will be remembered for making Australia great.” - Lynette Ramsay Silver
Angels of Mercy: Far West and Far East, tells the gripping stories of two Australian nursing sisters, who overcame the challenging adversities of two very different circumstances.
In the 1930s, Marjorie Silver was employed by The Far West Children’s Health Scheme and became their first permanent flying sister, based in Bourke. She fought a single-handed war against heat, dust and isolation of the outback to bring vital medical assistance to the far west of New South Wales, before moving on to central Queensland where she established a clinic at Mt Margaret station, in close co- operation with the flying doctor, based at Charleville. In 1964, she moved to Brunette Downs, Northern Territory, where she continued to make use of her nursing skills at the aboriginal Camp and in the station’s hospital. This previously untold story also involves the topical Nancy Bird, who was employed as the sister's pilot for the first nine months.
Whilst Sister Silver was fighting a battle against the harsh elements of the bush, another dedicated woman of about the same age had graduated as a nursing sister with a view to overseas travel. Little did she know that she would shortly embark on a sea voyage to the exotic Far East, where she would engage in a battle for survival as an unwilling guest of the Emperor of Japan. Sister Pat Gunther joined the AIF and served in the Far East on the battlefield of Malaya and Singapore. She was captured and taken prisoner at Bangka Island, Sumatra. The story of the nurses imprisoned in various camps in Sumatra is not unknown, but this book delves far deeper than any other story to date and reveals the 'secret' that the nurses kept throughout their lifetimes. Author and military historian Lynette Ramsay Silver has an entire 'forensic' chapter devoted to the unraveling of this secret.
This book has been compiled from their edited memoirs, supplemented by various conversations and interviews. Interspersed throughout the book and printed in italics, are Lynette Ramsay Silver’s historical details providing additional narrative to compliment first-hand accounts.
The book also lists, for the first time, the name of every nurse who served in WW2. It also includes the fate of other internees that Sister Pat had met in Malaya and during her three years of captivity and the fate of the nurses evacuated from Singapore. It also includes the 29 women that served as doctors in the Australian Army Medical Corps during World War 2, as well as the names of the women who served as nursing sisters in the Royal Australian Navy, Royal Australian Air force, Australian Army Nursing Service and the Army Hospital.
Angels of Mercy: Far West and Far East is a tribute to the huge contributions made by our nurses in the Australian Outback, and to those who served during wartime.
About the Author
Lynette Ramsay Silver is an author and military historian. Often referred to as a “history detective”, she is a recognised expert in identifying graves of servicemen killed in action or who died as prisoners of war and to date has identified the graves of 41 military personnel who were buried as ‘unknown’. Each Anzac Day she organises a tour for POW relatives to Sabah and also accompanies trekking groups along the Sandakan-Ranau death march track, ‘lost’ for 60 years and which she located and re-established with trekking expert Mr. Tham Yau Kong.
Lynette has received a Defence Forces Commendation and Medal from Special Operations Command Australia, for her work during the 60th Anniversary of a wartime mission known as Operation Jaywick, the first civilian ever to receive this prestigious award. In January 2004 she was also awarded an OAM in the Australia Day Honours for her services to veterans and their families for her work on Sandakan. This was followed in 2009 by a Ministerial Special Award from the Sabah Government for her research in tracing the fate of more than 2,500 POWs who died in Borneo.
In 2019, Lynette was made a Member of the Order of Australia; with her husband Neil Silver for initiating several philanthropic and educational projects in Sabah to better the life of the local people.
She lives in Sydney and has two children and is the grandmother of three. When not researching and writing Lynette’s time is fully occupied in consultative work with various organisations, raising money for her projects, public speaking, and accompanying tour groups to Singapore and Sabah. When she is ‘retired’, she hopes to take up painting again.
Other books include A Fool’s Gold?, The Battle of Vinegar Hill, Fabulous Furphies, The Heroes of Rimau, Krait the Fishing Boat that went to War, Sandakan: A Conspiracy of Silence, The Bridge at Parit Sulong, Marcel Caux: A Life Unraveled, Blood Brothers, Deadly Secrets: The Singapore raids 1942-45, and In the Mouth of the Tiger co-authored with Derek Emerson-Elliot and Billy: My Life as a Teenage POW co-authored with Billy Young.