School remembers sinking of Centaur

THE Centaur Public School (CPS) held its annual memorial service for the sinking of its namesake ship, the Australian Hospital Ship Centaur, yesterday morning at Point Danger.

The AHS Centaur was sunk by a Japanese submarine during WWII 65 years ago, despite being clearly marked as a hospital ship.

The exact location of the wreckage has never been found. CPS Principal Maryann Goggins said the school had become a special place for those whose relatives were killed in the tragedy.

"This school became a living memorial for all the people who lost relatives on the Centaur," Mrs Goggins said.

Almost all of the school's 600 students attended the service, along with a number of visitors including war veterans and relatives of those who died.

Mrs Goggins said the anniversary was a very important day in the school's calendar.

"It is the school celebration day, (the students) proudly wear their uniforms," she said.

The school was founded in 1994, the year after the 50th anniversary of the ship's sinking.

Kingscliff woman Denise Gibson lost her uncle, Neville Clarke, on the Centaur and was at Monday's service.

The 62-year-old from Kingscliff never met Neville, who she said was one of the medical staff on board.

"He left a wife, she was expecting at the time ... Douglas (Neville's son) never knew his father," Ms Gibson said.

After only finding out about the service recently, it was the first time she had attended, which added to the emotion.

"It sort of brings it home to you, doesn't it?" Ms Gibson said.

"I think it is lovely the school is named after the Centaur."

But Ms Gibson paused when asked whether the Federal Government should allocate funds to find the exact resting place of the ship following the discovery of HMAS Sydney this year.

"I don't know," she said at first. "I guess so, it would be closure for a lot of people."



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