Highlighting Queensland’s links to the Centaur Memorial Fund for Nurses

In her presentation ‘Something tangible to show our gratitude' – a history of Queensland’s Centaur Memorial Fund for Nurses, Dr Madonna Grehan (John Oxley Library Fellow, 2015) presented highlights of her research to staff at the State Library. The Centaur Memorial Fund for Nurses was established in Brisbane in 1948, as a tribute to the State’s nurses for their service in war and peace.

Prospective candidates enter the Centaur Memorial Fund’s inaugural Queen of the Nurses Quest, March 1948. Image by Anne Scheu, State Library of Queensland.

Within weeks of the sinking of 2/3 AHS Centaur on 14 May, 1943, two posters authorised by Prime Minister Curtin and commissioned by the War Publicity Office were distributed to every Australian workplace. Artist Bob (Arthur) Whitmore. Image of slide presentation.

Candidates in Queen of the Nurses Quest meet for morning tea at the Nurses Quarters, Repatriation General Hospital Greenslopes with Centaur Memorial Fund members, December 1948. Arrows point to Nurse Gympie - Marjorie Spiller and Nurse Maryborough - Beryl Crow. Image of slide presentation.

An image in the slide presentation point to Nurse Gympie - Marjorie Spiller and Nurse Maryborough - Beryl Crow. 

In 1949 Gladys Moncrieff was engaged for a Queensland concert tour, marketed as “Centaur Presents”. A core group of artists traveled with Miss Moncrieff and local musicians provided support acts. Image of slide presentation.

Followers of the John Oxley Library blog can read more about Madonna's research on the Centaur Memorial Fund.

...Sadie joined the Centaur Memorial Fund’s quest to establish a recreational and educational centre for the nursing profession. Sponsored by the Army in the “Queen of the Nurses’ Quest,” Sadie and her committee raised £4000 in ten months. This money went towards the purchase of Centaur House in Queen Street

Read the full story - The diggers' friend: Sadie Charlotte Macdonald (1875-1970).

Dr. Madonna Grehan, State Library of Queensland, 2015.

Collections Engagement Coordinator Myles Sinnamon posted an article on the sinking of the Australian Hospital Ship (AHS) Centaur in 2013.


The Centaur Memorial Fund for Nurses administrative records are held at the State Library of Queensland.

The images and collections used in Dr Grehan’s presentation can be accessed from the John Oxley Library.

Anne Scheu - Coordinator, Queensland Memory


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As told by Jim BondIn the early hours of Friday 14 May 1943 the hospital ship AHS Centaur, ablaze with lights, was torpedoed by Japanese submarine 1-177 off Moreton Island. The Centaur was struck in an oil fuel tank on the port side, caught fire, and sank within minutes. Of the 322 persons on board, only 64 survived.My father, Sergeant Chris Bond (later WOII with BCOF and in Korea) was a hygeine inspector with the Australian Army Hygeine Service and was based on Moreton Island. His major role was in malaria prevention by finding breeding grounds of the Anopheles mosquito.A capable horseman with experience pre-war in the 5th Light Horse, he was issued with a horse and from his base at Cowan Cowan covered Moreton Island on a week long patrol.The story as I recall my father telling me was that some days after the "Centaur" was sunk part of the name-board of the "Centaur" was washed up on the shore of Moreton Island. He recovered it and handed it in to the unit office at Cowan.Some weeks later he went to the carpenters shop to get timber to repair a sullage pit and the name-board was on the woodheap. He was told that he could use it.My father wrapped the name-board in hessian and on his next leave pass to the mainland, brought the name-board to our home in Brisbane. Here it was hidden away.After the war the Australian Red Cross held a "Centaur" Fair at the Kelvin Grove army barracks and here my father handed over the name-board for proper recognition. the conscience of the whole civilised worldWhere it is now I do not know but with May 14 on our doorstep it would be fitting that the name-board could feature in remembrance services on that day.OZATWAR.COM

Hello KarenGreat to hear from you. And thank you for sending this information. In the Centaur Memorial Fund collection held at State Library of QLD, there is a photograph of Chris Bond with the name plate. It's the same photo that Jim had sent to the Ozatwar site. I'd been in touch with Peter Dunn of OzatWar to see if he was still in touch with Jim Bond as I wanted to learn more about it. I have been planning to do a blog about it. It's in the queue, but I did reference it this morning in a presentation I did at SLQ. I explained the circumstances and how it came to be associated with the Centaur Fund. From my research, it's likely that the board was given to Matron Sadie Macdonald (you can read about Sadie on a blog, see below for the links). Sadie was an entrant in the 1948 Queen of the Nurses Quest and she had a big fete in October 48 at the Kelvin Grove Barracks. She was a decorated WWI nurse and at one point was in charge of the Red Cross Home Ardoyne for a while. I do think that Chris Bond probably gave it to Sadie as there was no "Red Cross" fete around that date in 1948, but Sadie's was. If you know any more, I'd love to know more.Thanks so much for responding.Madonna