Claire van der Boom as Murwillumbah’s Berenice Twohill and Sarah Snook as Lorna Whyte in Sisters of War.
Claire van der Boom as Murwillumbah’s Berenice Twohill and Sarah Snook as Lorna Whyte in Sisters of War.

Film reveals woman's years as POW

DYMPNA Twohill’s many nieces and nephews have been aware of her amazing story for years, but they will still approach a screening of a movie based on her experience as a prisoner of war with interest.

The Murwillumbah-born 93-year-old survived almost four years in Japanese custody during World War II after being captured while serving as a missionary at Rabaul on the island of New Britain, off Papua New Guinea.

Born in 1917, she grew up in Tumbulgum as one of 11 children to Alexander and Eliza and did much of her schooling at Uki. She joined the order of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart after finishing high school and took up the name Sister Berenice.

No one knew that when she shipped off to PNG the war was about to start and she would not be heard from for four years.

One day a young Murwillumbah priest turned up at the Twohill family’s farm at Tumbulgum and told Alex and Eliza he would enlist in the army, find out what happened to Sr Berenice and return with her.

He lived up to his promise and returned to Murwillumbah with a very sick woman who had an amazing story. She recovered and has gone on to many other great things, especially her work with the disadvantaged at Kings Cross.

However, when the family got together the children were always under strict instruction never to ask their aunt about the war.

That is why a group of 50 Twohills will head to the Brisbane International Film Festival tomorrow, Remembrance Day, with a keen interest in what they will see on the screen. Now in a Sydney nursing home, Sister Berenice cannot attend.

The movie, Sisters of War will screen on the ABC at 8.35pm DST on Sunday and Mrs Morrin said people on the Tweed should tune in.

“Hers is a tremendous story and one the Tweed Valley should be very proud of, because it is about one of their own,” Sister Berenice’s niece Marie Morrin said. “I feel very humbled and privileged to have her as my auntie.”



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