Sister Ellen Savage GM AANS

View a larger image of Sister Ellen Savage (AWM 044428) Sister Ellen Savage was asleep in her bunk when the Centaur collapsed around her:

Merle Morton and myself were awakened by two terrific explosions and practically thrown out of bed ...I registered mentally that it was a torpedo explosion ... In that instant the ship was in flames ... we ran into Colonel Manson, our commanding officer, in full dress even to his cap and 'Mae West' life-jacket, who kindly said 'That's right girlies, jump for it now.' The first words I spoke was to say 'Will I have time to go back for my great-coat?' as we were only in our pyjamas. He said 'No' and with that climbed the deck and jumped and I followed ... the ship was commencing to go down. It all happened in three minutes.

The suction of the sinking Centaur dragged Sister Savage down into a whirlpool of moving metal and wood. Here her ribs, nose and palate were broken, her ear drums perforated and she sustained multiple bruises. Then she was propelled to the surface in the middle of an oil slick.

Sister Savage found her way to a raft that was part of the Centaur's wheel-house. During the 36 hours on this makeshift raft, Sister Savage gave whatever medical care she could to survivors despite being badly injured herself.

Sister Savage was the only nurse to survive. For her courage and inspiring behaviour during this period Sister Savage was awarded the George Medal.