Re­mem­ber­ing a tragedy that claimed Sis­ter Alice

Alpine Observer - - News -

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.

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