Tweed Heads Historical Society honorary photographer Ray Duke says the plaque placed on the Centaur yesterday morning should bring closure.
Tweed Heads Historical Society honorary photographer Ray Duke says the plaque placed on the Centaur yesterday morning should bring closure. Crystal Spencer

Closure at last for AHS Centaur

A MEMORIAL plaque placed on the scuttled hospital ship Centaur yesterday morning will provide closure for all living family relatives, the Tweed Heads Historical Society says.

Honorary society photographer Ray Duke yesterday said the placement of a plaque on the foredeck of the wreck was a touching gesture to those who lost family when the ship was sunk.

“It’s good they’ve placed it on there,” Mr Duke said.

“Hopefully now the ship can remain undisturbed as it once was.”

The plaque honours the lives of the 268 Australians who died aboard the ship, which was sunk by a torpedo fired by a Japanese submarine off the Queensland coast during World War II.

A crew aboard the Seahorse Spirit sent submarine robot Remora 3 down to the wreckage on Sunday for the first confirmation footage.

Historian and former Centaur Commemoration Committee chairman Warren Keats said the plaque was part of the closure.

“As long as they aren’t disturbing anything in the wreckage then it’s a positive to me,” he said.

Under the control of two pilots, Remora 3 made its fourth and what could possibly be the last-ever visit to the wreck at 6am AEST yesterday, carefully laying the memorial plaque on the ship’s foredeck.

The plaque read, “In memory of shipmates, relatives, colleagues and friends who paid the supreme sacrifice on a mission of mercy, May 14, 1943. 2/3 AHS Centaur Association 2010, Lest We Forget.”

About seven hours later a memorial service was held directly above the watery tomb of the wreck, at 12.45pm AEST.

Marine historian Captain John Foley said while the nation was at war at the time, the Centaur should have had no reason to fear being attacked.

“Centaur was brightly lit, with white hull emblazoned with a broad green banner and several red crosses that proclaimed her as a vessel of mercy,” Capt Foley said.

After a prayer and a moment’s silence a memorial wreath was laid in the ocean by Army Major Arthur Dugdale.

Weights on the wreath allowed it to sink to the depths of the wreck.

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