Commemoration

View a larger version of the Commemoration Ceremony (AWM 052204) Few disasters during the second world war touched Australians as deeply as the loss of the Centaur. At Caloundra, Queensland, a memorial on a cliff points out towards the Centaur's final resting place. Another memorial was unveiled at Point Danger, Coolangatta, Queensland, in 1993 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the sinking. The tragedy is also remembered in practical ways. In the late 1940s The Centaur Memorial Fund For Nurses in Queensland raised the enormous sum, for the period, of fifty thousand pounds. This money was invested to fund activities in memory of the nurses who went down with the ship.

In 1943 the Centaur quickly became a symbol of Australian determination to win the war. This attack on a clearly marked and illuminated hospital ship was taken as further evidence that Australia faced a brutal and uncompromising enemy. Posters appeared to raise money for war loans showing the sinking ship and carrying the words 'Avenge The Nurses'. And when a mosaic was put in place commemorating the women's services in the Hall of Memory at the Australian War Memorial, it was the image of the Centaur which was used to illustrate the sacrifice involved in such service. It is the only reference in the Hall to an actual event in any of the wars in which Australians have fought and died. 'Remember the Centaur' the mosaic seems to say - this ship symbolises the courage of Australian women in war and reminds us of all Australians who served in war and have no graves but the sea.