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Back to Bangka : Searching for the truth about a wartime massacre - Georgina Banks

Back to Bangka

Searching for the truth about a wartime massacre

By: Georgina Banks

Paperback | 20 June 2023 | Edition Number 1

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Georgina Banks searches for the truth of what happened to her Great Aunt 'Bud', killed in the Second World War.

Bangka Strait, Indonesia, 1942. Allied ships are evacuating thousands in flight from Singapore, the island having fallen to Japanese Imperial forces. Facing terrifying assaults by fighter planes, one ship, the Vyner Brooke, is badly bombed and sinks. Its survivors swim or paddle for hours to the nearest land, a beach on Bangka Island, parched, many dreadfully injured.

One of the survivors is Australian Army nurse Dorothy 'Bud' Elmes, the great-aunt of Georgina Banks. Bud makes it to the island, where she, colleagues and a matron tend to the wounded as a plan is formulated. But it is soon discovered the place is occupied by Japanese forces, and two days later they arrive on the beach.

Seventy-five years on, Georgina receives an invitation to a memorial service for her great-aunt. She knows little of the national history buried in her family but as she retraces Bud's steps in Indonesia, and then deep in archives back in Australia, she is left making sense of half-truths and confronting the likelihood that she may never know exactly what unfolded on the beach on that devastating day.

Back to Bangka is a deeply moving intergenerational family story; a gripping retelling and investigation of events that throw a spotlight on women in wartime - in their vulnerability and profound strength.

About the Author

First time writer, long time storyteller. Born in Sydney, Georgina left at nineteen to study acting in New York at the Neighbourhood Playhouse and then worked as a performer throughout her twenties. Following her interest in what makes people tick, she changed direction and went back to university to study Applied Psychology. In her consulting business, Changeable, Georgina combines her psychology background and facilitation skills to enable meaningful change for individuals, teams and organisations. As a performer, Georgina worked mainly in theatre for companies such as Sydney Theatre Company, Playbox and Theatre South, and in television for shows like A Country Practice and Outback. Now Melbourne based, she has two daughters in their early twenties. When she has time she likes to escape with her husband to their block of land near Kyneton.

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