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Sisters in Captivity

Sister Betty Jeffrey OAM and the courageous story of Australian Army nurses in Sumatra, 1942–1945

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About The Book

The incredible account of Sister Betty Jeffrey OAM and the Australian war nurses who survived the bombing of evacuation ship SS Vyner Brooke in February 1942, and subsequently spent three years in Japanese prison camps in Sumatra.

During those perilous years surviving in squalid conditions, Sister Jeffrey kept a secret diary of day-to-day events which, after the war, was turned into a hugely successful book and radio serial: White Coolies. She would often write of the powerful sisterhood that evolved as the prisoners of war took strength from each other, even forming a vocal orchestra. White Coolies was a major inspiration for the 1997 film Paradise Road.

Sisters in Captivity builds on those diaries to not only re-live the years the nurses spent as POWs but also recounts the early life and influences that encouraged Betty Jeffrey into the field of nursing as a lifelong endeavour. A tireless advocate for returned nurses, she co-founded the Australian Nurses Memorial Centre with sole survivor of the Banka Island Massacre, fellow POW, and her longtime friend Vivian Bullwinkel.

Featuring 32 pages of photos including personal mementos of Betty Jeffrey, courtesy of her family, and her drawings from the prison camps, this is a powerful account of women’s resilience amidst the devastating brutality of war.

About The Author

Photograph © Colin Burgess

Author Biography
Colin Burgess was born in suburban Sydney in 1947. To date, he has written or co-authored nearly forty books, covering the Australian prisoner-of-war experience, aviation, and human space exploration. Colin still lives near Sydney with his wife Pat. They have two adult sons and three grandchildren.  

About The Reader

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia (July 4, 2023)
  • Runtime: 11 hours and 6 minutes
  • ISBN13: 9781761109102

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