Honouring the Memory and Advancing Professional Nursing. Image courtesy of the State Library of Queensland.
Our Mission and Objectives
To honour the memory of those who died in the sinking of the 2/3 AHS Centaur on 14 May 1943 by advancing the professions of nursing and midwifery in Queensland.
The objectives of the Fund are to:
- Recognise excellence in undergraduate nursing education in Queensland
- Fostering research by postgraduate nurses and midwives in Queensland
- Communicate the history of the Fund and its origins
- Hold such events and services that align with the Fund’s mission
The Centaur Memorial Fund for Nurses (the Fund) was established in 1948 as a tribute to the nurses of Queensland who served the state during and between two World Wars, on the home and military fronts.
The Fund’s name memorialised the 268 personnel who died in the sinking of the 2/3 Australian Hospital Ship (AHS) Centaur in May 1943. Eleven of the deceased were members of the Australian Army Nursing Service.
The Fund initially fulfilled its tribute to the profession by providing a centre for nurses, with educational, recreational and accommodation facilities. Since the 1980s, the Fund has focused on providing financial support to nurses and midwives undertaking postgraduate studies and recognizing excellence in undergraduate nursing studies.
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 to 1971
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.
Her Excellency the Honourable Dr Jeannette Young AC PSM,
Governor of Queensland
Committee of Management 2022-2023
President: Ms Julie Finucane OAM
Vice-President: Dr Judith Dean
Hon. Secretary: Mrs Rosalie Lewis AM
Hon. Treasurer: Mrs Sue de Vries
Ms Pixie Annat MBE OAM (RIP 24 September 2022), Professor Mary Courtney (Rtd), Mrs Georgina Blomfield, Dr Catriona Booker, Dr Carol Reid.