The Highland nurse who vanished 6,500 miles from home during WWII

The UK’s First Sea Lord has paid tribute to a Sutherland nurse who died 6,500 miles away from home during the Second World War.

Lily Murray was thought to be aboard a ship in the Far East when it was torpedoed and sunk by the Japanese in February 1942.

Admiral Tony Radakin, the professional head of the Royal Navy, gave thanks to the sacrifice of the 44-year-old in a special online Remembrance Service video produced by Very Rev Dr Susan Brown, minister of Dornoch Cathedral.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Miss Murray is the only woman named on the town’s war memorial which also bears the name of her brother, Angus, who died during the Battle of Arras in France on the 21st of March, 1918.

Nurse Lily Murray, from Dornoch, who is thought to have been on board the SS Tanjong Penang near Malaysia when it was torpedoed in 1942. PIC: Historylinks Dornoch.
Nurse Lily Murray, from Dornoch, who is thought to have been on board the SS Tanjong Penang near Malaysia when it was torpedoed in 1942. PIC: Historylinks Dornoch.

She was part of The Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service and aboard the SS Tanjong Penang – an evacuation boat - as it was making its escape from PomPong Island in East Malaysia with upwards of 200 passengers and crew.

Admiral Radakin, chief of the Naval staff said: “This is a very special occasion for all of us and particularly special as we remember someone on the Dornoch war memorial, the only woman who lost her life during the Second World War.

Read More

Read More
Incredible photos show Scotland’s World War II veterans – then and now

“Her name was Lily Murray

“These days, naval personnel face the same worries and challenges serving the nation operationally on a worldwide basis.

“We give thanks to God for those who paid the ultimate price whilst serving their country just like Lily Murray.

“And we give thanks also to those who are serving in the Royal Navy and wider Armed Forces, all of whom are supported wonderfully by their families and wider communities such as Dornoch.”

The SS Tanjong Penang, a 97 foot converted ‘tug’, was torpedoed at close range at about 9pm on 17th February 1942 and sank within five minutes.

Some of the passengers had already experienced the horror of shipwreck after being bombed by the Japanese days earlier.

According to Historylinks Museum in Dornoch, survivor accounts describe how it was ‘blown out of the water’.

The last telegraph received from Lily by her parents, Peter and Margaret Murray, was sent on the 27th January of 1942 in which she wrote ‘fit and well, love Lily’.

Admiral Radakin said the Royal Navy has a close affinity to the north of Scotland and the Type 23 frigate, HMS Sutherland, is named after the region.

“On behalf of the Royal Navy, please accept my warmest greetings to all of you in beautiful Sutherland with whom we have some of the strongest connections,” he added.

“May God bless you all in this Remembrance time, during these challenging times for our nation and thank you for your continued support for your Royal Navy.”

Dr Brown spent a week visiting Royal Navy units across Scotland in February 2019 during her year as Moderator of the General Assembly.

Speaking ahead of Armistice Day, Dr Brown said: “When the stories behind the names on our War Memorials are told, they make the Remembering all the more poignant.

“The names suddenly belong to real people, with families and friends and lives beyond the inscription on the monument."

Message from The Editor

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.