Yesterday was my late brother’s birthday and it got me thinking about being the last sibling left in the family. Both Doug and I are the ‘last man standing’ (or woman as the case may be). It reminds me of a story I heard recently which was shared in our Anzac service at Church.
Vivian Bullwinkel was the last woman standing. Like me you may never have heard of this World War 2 heroine. Nurse Bullwinkel was captured when the Japanese sank the hospital ship SS Vyner Brooke after the fall of Singapore. She, along with other nurses spent 24 hours clinging to a life boat before they struggled ashore with other survivors. Although it was apparent that these nurses were non-combatants, the Japanese marched all 22 of them into the sea on Banka Island. The head nurse instructed them to hold their heads high and shoulders back. They were machine-gunned and fell one by one.
Vivian, who was badly injured, feigned death and eventually got back to the now empty beach. Some days later she would have to give herself up and endure the atrocities of a POW camp. Vivian told no one of the massacre and was determined to survive. She planned to return to Australia and tell the story of these brave nurses to their families. Victory in the Pacific finally gave her this opportunity. When she returned she did as she had promised. Vivian continued to serve her country both in Military and civilian nursing for the rest of her life.
The account is told of the great prophet Elijah who at one stage said. “I even I only am left.” He had a moment of doubt thinking he was the last man standing. God reminded him that there were still seven thousand people in Israel who had not bowed down to the idol Baal. (1 Kings 19)
There are many circumstances in life where we can indeed feel like we are the last man/woman standing. But we do well to remember that there is no need to be alone unless we choose to be. Jesus said, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matt: 28.20
Vivian Bullwinkel AO,MBE,ARRC,ED,FNM 1915-2000