Remembering a tragedy that claimed Sister Alice
SEVENTY-five years ago, almost to the day, Australia was dealt one of its most devastating blows.
In May 1943 an Australian Hospital Ship ‘Centaur’ carrying Myrtleford’s own, Sister Alice Margaret O’Donnell, was torpedoed 65 kilometres off Brisbane.
Sister O’Donnell, who is commemorated on a leadlight window (pictured) at Myrtleford’s St Paul’s Anglican Church and also in the local Historical Society Museum, was one of 268 killed on the vessel that night.
The ship carrying no patients was bound unescorted for New Guinea and sank in flames within just three minutes and left only 64 survivors.
The O’Donnells were well- known personalities in Myrtleford, Alice and her five brothers were brought up in Elgin Street near the corner now occupied by the police station.
Janette Williams, a Myrtleford resident and the author of an The Australian Naval History book ‘Two Photos and a Medal’ said all but one of Sister O’Donnell’s 10 fellow nurses on-board the ship drowned in the tragedy.
“A large number of locals knew the family but may not know the full story behind the window,” she said.
“The ship was fully illuminated and visibility was excellent that night so there was no chance the vessel was not recognised
“To Australians such an act on a defenceless ship was brutal and dastardly.
“It was unforgivable and it is said to have stimulated Australians to win the war.”
Sister O’Donnell was further honoured by the naming of the O’Donnell Home in the Myrtleford and District War Memorial
IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Local emergency workers were all given the chance to learn more about the buses that will operate in the area this winter.