THE END OF HOSPITAL SHIP 'CENTAUR'
On 13 May 1943, No. 23 Radar Station RAAF had plotted a surface vessel which was located about 40 miles off the coast of Moreton Island. The blip was characteristic of a surfaced submarine. W.A.A.A.F. Operators P. Woodward, K. Rae and M. Hess reported the plots to the 8 Fighter Sector Headquarters in Brisbane. The plots were verified by the Commanding Officer of No. 23 Radar Station, Pilot Officer W. Fielder-Gill.
At approximately 4.15K hours on Friday 14 May 1943, the hospital ship A.H.S. Centaur, ablaze with lights, with a compliment of 332 persons on board, was torpedoed by Japanese submarine I-177 south east of Cape Moreton. The Centaur was struck in an oil fuel tank on the port side abaft No. 2 Hatch. Centaur caught fire immediately, and sank within two or three minutes. All its lights were on except two floodlights right forward, used for floodlighting the bows. These had been switched off because they affected sight from the bridge.
"Centaur" made no signals and there was no time to launch any boats although two boats broke adrift from the ship as she sunk.
268 persons died and only 64 survived this tragic event. Of the 12 Army Nurses on board, Sister Ellen Savage was the only survivor.