ED: Our local primary school here at Banora Point is called Centaur Primary School in remembrance of those who lost their lives when the Hospital Ship was sunk.

80 years ago today, the Australian Hospital Ship (AHS) Centaur was sunk by a Japanese submarine off the coast of Queensland.

When Centaur departed Sydney on 12 May 1943, there were more than 300 people on board – sadly only 64 survived the sinking.

This attack resulted in the nation’s worst loss of life from an enemy submarine attack during the Second World War.

“The sinking of AHS Centaur was an unspeakable attack on an unarmed ship working to assist those injured during the war, and today we pause and pay tribute to all those who were on board at the time of the attack,” Minister Keogh said.

The explosion was so large and unexpected, it took just three minutes for her to sink and the crew had no time to send an SOS message.

The survivors used anything they could find to make rafts out of the debris. They then waited for up to 35 agonising hours before being rescued.

Sister Ellen Savage was the only one of twelve nurses to survive the sinking. Even though she suffered major injuries herself, she concealed them to focus on treating the wounded and keeping their spirits up until they were finally rescued.

Sister Savage showed great heroism in the hours after the sinking of Centaur. Her bravery in the face of such adversity resulted in her being awarded the George Medal.

The Australian War Memorial will today host members of the 2/3 AHS Centaur Association at the Last Post Ceremony, where the story of Field Ambulance medic Private Clement Edward Lynne will be told. The Memorial’s Centaur collection features personal watches, flares, life jacket lights and medical equipment salvaged by the survivors.


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