2/3 AHS Centaur (Final Resting Place) Memorial
30 nautical miles (56km) east of Moreton Island, at depth 2,059 metres (6,760 ft)
Moreton Island QLD 4025
A bronze dedication plaque located on the site of the final resting place of the AHS Centaur, which was attacked and sunk by a Japanese submarine off the coast of Queensland, Australia, on 14 May 1943. Of the 332 medical personnel and civilian crew aboard, 268 were killed. The plaque is dedicated to their sacrifice and was initiated by the 2/3 AHS Centaur Association on the 12 January 2010. The memorial plaque was laid on the foredeck of Centaur and under a special dispensationtothe Historic Shipwrecks Act.
The plaque is unique in that it incorporates a digital 'Roll of Honour', listing the names of the casualties of the disaster and contributions made by the relatives and associated parties. The site is considered a 'war grave' and thus should remain in perpetuity.
2/3 AHS CENTAUR
ROLL OF HONOUR
2/12 FIELD AMBULANCE
SHIP'S MEDICAL STAFF
MERCHANT NAVY PERSONNEL
[MERCHANT NAVY CREST] CD [ARMY CREST]
IN MEMORY OF SHIPMATES,
RELATIVES, COLLEAGUES AND FRIENDS
WHO PAID THE SUPREME SACRIFICE ON A
MISSION OF MERCY, 14 MAY 1943
2/3 AHS CENTAUR ASSOCIATION
LEST WE FORGET
- Conflicts commemorated
- Second World War, 1939–1945
- Unit memorials
- Memorial type
- Commemorative services held
- A dediction to the Centaur was held above the location site on the 12 January 2010, with a commemorative wreath laid and weighted to sink to the deck of the vessel.The plaque was blessed on 22 December 2009 at the Memorial Chapel at Concord Repatriation General Hospital, Sydney, by Chaplains Rev. Paul Weaver and Fr. Artur Wojtowicz. The general handover ceremony of the plaque took place between the Centaur Association Secretary Jan Thomas and President Richard Jones and Major Dugdale of the Australian Army.
- Additional information
The Centaur served in both civilian and military capabilities during her career, and she was also involved in recovering German survivors of the engagement between Kormoran and HMAS Sydney. Following her early-1943 conversion to a hospital ship, Centaur served as a medical transport between New Guinea and Australia. Before dawn on 14 May 1943, while on her second voyage, Centaur was torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine off Moreton Island, Queensland.
At approximately 4.10am on 14 May 1943,the torpedo struck the portside oil fuel tank approximately two metres below the waterline, creating a hole 8 to 10 metres across. The initial explosion ignited the fuel on board, and set the ship on fire from the bridge aft. Many of those onboard were immediately killed by concussion or burned to death, and the Centaur quickly took on water through the impact site, rolled to port, then began to sink bow-first in 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) of water. The vessel submerged completely in less than three minutes. The rapid sinking prevented the deployment of lifeboats, although two broke off from Centaur as she sank, along with several damaged liferafts. At the time of the attack, most of the crew and passengers were asleep and had little chance of escape.
The majority of the 332 aboard died in the attack; the 64 survivors had to wait for 36 hours before they were rescued. The attack resulted in public outrage as it was considered to be a war crime.
In 2008, the Australian Federal and Queensland State governments formed a joint committee and contributed AU$2 million each towards a search. The search was conducted from the Defence Maritime Services vessel Seahorse Spirit and overseen by shipwreck hunter David Mearns. The search team announced on 20 December 2009that they had found Centaur that morning.
The wreck was found at 27°16.98'S 153°59.22'E, 30 nautical miles (56km) east of Moreton Island, in a steep-walled gully, 150 metres (490 ft) wide and 90 metres (300 ft) deep. The Centaur wrecksite has been marked as a war grave and protected with a navigational exclusion zone under the Historic Shipwrecks Act.
2/3 AHS Centaur Association website
Other AHS Centaur related memorials in Queensland
Caloundra Walk of Remembrance (pending)
- Recorded by
- 2/3 AHS Centaur Association/Queensland Government
- Date recorded
- 13 January 2010