Honouring the Memory and Advancing Professional Nursing.

Honouring the Memory and Advancing Professional Nursing. Image courtesy of the State Library of Queensland.

Our Mission and Objectives

A living war memorial to honour and remember ADF nurses

The Centaur Memorial Fund for Nurses (CMFN) was established in 1948 as a non-government organisation dedicated to the memory of the nurses who served in the Australian armed forces.

The Memorial in the name of Centaur has come to symbolise nursing and medical personnel serving in all theatres of war. The mission of the CMFN is to preserve and maintain a living War Memorial in honour and remembrance of Nurses in the Defence Services of Australia (ADF) at home and abroad.

Our Aims

To promote and maintain:

The history and legacy of the sinking of the Australian Hospital Ship (AHS) Centaur.
Links with organisations that hold similar missions and objectives.
The values and work of nursing generally, and the ADF in particular.
Raise funds that enable nursing research and education development
Convene an annual service of commemoration that honours those who serviced AHS Centaur.

Know more: AHS CENTAURKnow more: DONATE

MovieTone News 1943:

Centaur survivors line up.

Excerpt from “CENTAUR” SURVIVORS TELL STORY.” Excerpt length 27 secs.

For the full footage see  “MovieTone News 1943”

History of the CMFN

Created as a tribute to the nurses who died while serving on the AHS Centaur

On May 14th 1943 AHS Centaur was travelling toward New Guinea fully illuminated and identifiable as a hospital ship according to international standards. At 0410 hours on the 14th May 1943 she was torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine. On board were 332 personnel comprising the crew and a team of Army nurses. Tragically there were only 64 survivors, one of whom was Sister Ellen Savage, the only surviving nurse.  Sister Savage was awarded the George Medal for her courage, care and endurance during the 36 hours that survivors drifted at sea until finally rescued by the USS Mugford.

The Brisbane Telegraph appeal 1948

The editor of the Brisbane Telegraph wanted to help found a fund that would stand as a perpetual reminder of the AHS Centaur and honour all nurses who served in wartime. The appeal raised £48,000, a great deal of money for the time.  These funds purchased Centaur House at 337 Queen Street (where Central Plaza One stands today). This served for many years as a meeting centre and hostel for visiting and local nurses.

In the 1970s Centaur House was sold and the dedication of the management committees over the years and their wise investments have enabled us to maintain our mission for advancing professional nursing in Queensland.

Today we promote nursing scholarship through academic awards and research grants specifically for Queensland nurses from all regions.


Centaur House 1948:

Bought and refurbished as a home for the use of all Queensland nurses after the Brisbane Telegraph appeal. Image courtesy of the State Library of Queensland.

centaur house 1948


Centaur House 1948 to 1971

  • centaur house brochure 1940s front and back cover
    Centaur House brochure 1948
  • centaur house brochure 1940s inside pages
    Centaur House brochure 1948
  • centaur house sitting room
    The Centaur House sitting room 1948
  • centaur house dining room
    The Centaur House dining room 1948
  • centaur house bedroom
    A Centaur House bedroom 1948

All images courtesy of the State Library of Queensland.

John Oxley Library Fellowship Awarded

Dr Madonna Grehan – was awarded a John Oxley Library Fellowship through the State Library Queensland awards in 2015 for $20,000, to research the history of the Centaur Memorial Fund for Nurses – ‘a long-lasting & serviceable memorial’. The Fellowship includes the library resources and office for 12 months.

 Fund Administration

Patron: His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC, Governor of Queensland
President: Ms Julie Finucane OAM
Vice-President: Dr Marion Mitchell
Hon. Secretary: Mrs Sue DeVries
Hon. Treasurer: Ms Joy Wilson

Management Committee:

Ms Pixie Annat MBE OAM, Mrs Rosalie Lewis AM, Dr Linda Shields, Dr Leanne Jack, Mrs Claire Lees, Dr Jan Pratt AM, Ms Snezana Stolic, Dr Judith Dean, Dr Grace Croft.