our mission iconOUR MISSION

To promote the values and work of nurses in general and ADF nurses in particular.
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news iconAWARDS

The CMFN awards undergraduate nurse medals and postgraduate grants.
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Congratulations to Ms Jill Campbell, Centaur Scholarship winner 2015.
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news iconPAST WINNERS

These are our success stories. People that have defined Australian nursing.
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Hear the personal stories of the CMFN people that have helped to shape us.
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anchor iconTHE CENTAUR STORY

Australian Hospital Ship Centaur was sunk by a Japanese submarine in 1943.
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movie tape icon1943 MOVIE NEWS

The actual movie news footage of Centaur’s survivors shown in Australian cinemas in 1943.
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AHS Centaur 1943

Protected by the Geneva Convention

AHS Centaur was registered with the Red Cross in Switzerland. Her allies and enemies were notified of her existence and she was under the protection of the Geneva Convention. She was steaming north east of Stradbroke Island, Queensland, to give aid to injured service personnel in New Guinea and on her second mission.

Sunk by a Japanese submarine in three minutes

AHS Centaur was torpedoed amidships at 4am on 14th May 1943. She sank in three minutes with no time to transmit a distress signal. 268 died including 11 of the 12 nurses on board. 36 hours later the 64 survivors were found and rescued by the US destroyer USS Mugford. 

Wreck found in 2009

Her wreck was found by shipwreck hunter David Mearns and his team on the 20th December, 2009. She was less than one nautical mile from where her navigator, Gordon Rippon, judged her coordinates at the time of the sinking.

 

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    AHS Centaur in 1943
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    A wreath floats in the water after the wreck was found in 2008
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    Sister Ellen Savage, interviewed for the MovieTone news after she was rescued by USS Mugford

AHS Centaur Survivors Tell Their Stories

Movie Newsreels in WWII

In 1943 visual news stories were  presented as movie newsreels. This was the only way to visually update the population about what was happening during WWII. News stories were otherwise disseminated by radio. A MovieTone newsreel was made after news of the Centaur tragedy was known, when survivors were brought into Brisbane General Hospital.

Survivors of the Centaur tragedy

These are clips from the MovieTone newsreel from 1943. See the full version of the newsreel here.

Excerpt length: 27 secs

Excerpt length: 24 secs

Excerpt length: 61 secs

Excerpt length: 20 secs