May 14, 2015

AHS CENTAUR - 14 May 1943

72 years ago today (14th May 1943)  the AHS Centaur was torpedoed and subsequently sunk off the east coast of Australia.

In the early afternoon of 12 May 1943 Centaur steamed from Sydney for Cairns carrying members of the 2/12th Field Ambulance. Shortly after 4.00 am on 14 May, while most people were asleep, a torpedo struck Centaur‘s port side, hitting the oil fuel tank which ignited in a massive explosion.

The survivors were at sea for a day and half before they were rescued. The ship’s crew and medical staff suffered heavily, as did the 2/12th Field Ambulance -178 men, from a total of 193, died. It was the nurses though, who suffered the worst. Of the 12 nurses on board only one, Sister Nell Savage, survived.

The bridge superstructure collapsed and the funnel crashed onto the deck. Everything was covered with burning oil and a fire quickly began to roar across the ship. Water, meanwhile, rushed in through the gaping hole in her side. Many of those on board not killed in the explosion or fire, were trapped as the ship started to go down bow first, and then broke in two. In just three minutes Centaur was gone.
The Japanese sinking of this Australian hospital ship in 1943 was a violation of the most basic humanitarian convention.

An informative post on the history of the torpedoing of the A.H.S. Centaur  including all the names is on the Tweed Heads Historical Society website HERE.

According to the Wikipedia site, the reason for the attack is unknown, and the events surrounding the sinking of Centaur are controversial because it has been attested that she may have been in breach of the international conventions that should have protected her.

The ship had been appropriately lit and marked to indicate that it was a hospital ship and its sinking was regarded as an atrocity. The Australian Government delivered an official protest to Japan over the incident. The Japanese did not acknowledge responsibility for the incident for many years and the War Crimes Tribunal could not identify the responsible submarine.

However, the Japanese official war history makes clear that it was submarine 1-177, under the command of Lt Commander Nakagawa who had sunk the Centaur. Lt Commander Nakagawa was convicted as a war criminal for firing on survivors of the British Chivalry which his ship had sunk in the Indian Ocean.

Claims of discovery were made in 1995, but the wreck was later proven to be another ship. The wreck of
Centaur was found on 20 December 2009.

and now, new images of the wreck have emerged.

With thanks to the World War 11 Zone forum:

THREE  explore in 3D (takes awhile to load, but worth it)

Charles Richard Le Brun was one of the 268 people that died on board the HMAS Centaur and at the time was aged 43.
Charles was born at Darlimurla in Victoria, Australia on 10th Oct 1899 to Murdoch Le BRUN and his wife, Rebecca Ann MOORE.

At the age of 23, Charles married Dorothy KEMPTON on 15th Feb 1923 at Malvern and they had 6 children.

On 9th July 1940, Charles joined the AIF, his army number being: VX40778 and he was assigned to the 2/12th Field Ambulance unit.

The 2/12th Field Ambulance was an Australian military unit of the Second Australian Imperial Force, serving during World War II. During their six years of service, over 200 soldiers were killed, the highest figure for a non-combatant unit in Australian history.

The 2/12th was founded at Sydney Showground on 22 November 1940. The unit was attached to the 23rd Infantry Brigade, 8th Division until February, 1943, when it was moved to II Corps. Most of the recruits were from rural New South Wales. During their training in the Northern Territory, the members of the 2/12th provided medical support for the 23rd Brigade, participated in the construction of five small medical hospitals, and assisted sappers and pioneer assault units, earning the unit the nickname "2/12th Pioneers".

Following the beginning of the Pacific War, 45 members of the 2/12th were each attached to Gull Force and Sparrow Force, and sent to defend the islands of Ambon and Timor respectively. All of the members of the 2/12th serving with Gull Force were captured or killed by the Japanese on 1 February 1942, with many dying as prisoners of war on Ambon or Hainan. Many of those serving with Sparrow Force were also captured.

The half-strength unit was reinforced, and on 10 May 1943, the 192 members of the 2/12th boarded hospital ship Centaur to be transported to New Guinea.

On 14 May 1943, at 4:00 a.m., Centaur was torpedoed by Japanese submarine I-177, and sank in less than three minutes. Of the 332 aboard, there were only 64 survivors, including 14 members of the 2/12th. It was 36 hours before they were resuced by USS Mugford.

The 14 survivors were reinforced by men from the 4th Light Field Ambulance, and served in Borneo, Morotai, Tarakan, Lutong, and Kuching. The unit stood down in 1946, having served past the war's end, working with the retrieval and care of Allied prisoners of war.

below: copy of the will of Charles Richard Le Brun:


please note:  none of the above images are mine, all have been located on the internet over many years or passed on to me by family members.

a National Service of 

Thanksgiving & Remembrance
AHS Centaur

is usually held at St Johns Cathedral, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Click HERE for a PDF Document, including name of everyone on board.

Lest We Forget


Apr 15, 2015

George William Manning [1890 - 1915]

"The Ribble increased speed and headed for an anchorage further inshore and to the north of the battleships. On board was Lieutenant Ivor Margetts, 12th Battalion, a Hobart schoolteacher......... "

Man the boats....

The landing of the 12th Battalion, 25 April 1915 we neared the peninsular of Gallipoli, the Captain of the Destroyers gave the order for silence and for the men to stop smoking and thus, in darkness and in silence, we were carried towards the land which was to either make or mar the name of Australia.  On either side of us we could dimly see other destroyers bearing the rest of the Third Brigade. I am quite sure that very few of us realized that at last we were actually bound for our first baptism of fire, for it seemed as though we were just out on one of our night maneuvers, but very soon realized that it was neither a surprise party nor a moonlight picnic. ........

above image:

This timber lifeboat from the HMT DEVANHA (troopship A3) is at the Australian War Memorial and was used for the FIRST LANDING at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli.

On board was the 12th Battalion, 3rd Infantry Brigade, they landed at 4.10am on 25th April 1915 and George William MANNING - who was part of the 12th Bn 3rd Brigade - was killed soon after landing.

First flag of AIF at Gallipoli restored by
Imperial War Museum

Painstakingly restored ... Specialist textile curator Liz Rose at the Imperial War Museum workshop seen here working on the flag of the AIF's 12th Battalion 3rd Brigade who stormed Gallipoli in 1915.

The above picture: Ella Pellegrini.

Specialist textile curator Liz Rose is painstakingly fixing the flag for display, placing see-through conservation net over tears in the fabric that threaten to pull the flag apart. The process takes several days.

But she says she is careful not to restore it to its former glory. Even the dodgy stitching of an unknown repairer from some time in the past century to patch a hole is being left alone.

“We just want to repair it in parts to preserve and display but its condition is evidence of its history and that is important to maintain,” she said.

The 12th Battalion was among the first infantry units raised for the AIF during the First World War. Half of the battalion was recruited in Tasmania, a quarter was recruited in South Australia, and a quarter from Western Australia. With the 9th, 10th and 11th Battalions it formed the 3rd Brigade.

The 12th Battalion was raised within three weeks of the declaration of war in August 1914. They were the covering force for the Anzac landings and so were the first onshore at 4.30am on April 25, 1915. Their commander Lt Col L.F Clarke was killed by a sniper in the first few hours of battle but the battalion fought on and would later contribute two companies to the attack on Lone Pine; the only battalion in the brigade to do so. The battalion heroes were also the last to leave Anzac Cove only to go on to take part in the first major action in France in the Somme valley at Pozieres, then Ypres in Flanders all the way through to the battle of Amiens in August 1918.

Of their Gallipoli campaign, a British officer there at the time wrote: “The Australians were fine. ... They pulled in singing a song, ‘Australia will be there!’ and I could see them scaling the cliffs”. 

Within five days of the campaign, over half the men of the 12th battalion would be killed or wounded. 

 They fought with the motto Ducit Amor Patriae (Love of My Country Leads Me).

above image

The 3rd Brigade was the covering force for the ANZAC landing on 25 April 1915 and so was the first ashore at around 4:30 am. Lieutenant Colonel L. F. Clarke, commander of the 12th Battalion, was killed by a sniper within hours of the landing. The battalion was heavily involved in establishing and defending the front line of the ANZAC position.

Charles Bean - the first report

The landing ~ HMS RIBBLE towards the top of the above image.

George William MANNING was born to John MANNING and Harriet Ann COBERN in Evandale, Tasmania, Australia on 3rd September 1890.

Little is known of George in his early years in Tasmania, but we can assume he attended school and probably in the district of Launceston.

On 2nd June 1914 at the age of 23 years, he married Annie Josephine THOMPSON. From information received, Annie was born in Launceston in September 1895 and married George when she was 18 years old. 

Four months later - on 24th October 1914 - George enlisted in the AIF at Claremont in Tasmania. He stated on his papers that he was married and his Next of Kin was Mrs G. W. Manning of 66 Margaret St, Launceston, Tasmania.

He was given the Service number of 1226 in the 12th Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 1st Reinforcements.

66 Margaret St, Launceston, Tasmania
From Google - 66 Margaret St, Launceston, Tasmania

The 1st Reinforcements - which included George William Manning - departed Melbourne on board the  Themistocles A32  on 22 December 1914. 

above image:

1st Division reinforcements playing cricket aboard the transport HMAT Themistocles (A32), part of the 2nd Australian convoy that left (Perth) Australia on 31 December 1914.

[would be nice to know that one of those men was George!]

On 1st February 1915 - the 12th Battalion commenced training at Mena in Egypt, ten miles from Cairo and on the 10th February the 1st Reinforcements had arrived, which included George.

above image:

Part of Mena Camp, seen from the road running up the centre of the camp, known as Artillery Road.  At the far end of the road can be seen one of the reservoirs built at the camp; in this one the water burst through the walls.

On the left are the lines of the 1st Australian Divisional Artillery, and on the right the lines of the 3rd Infantry Brigade (in the  foreground), and the Divisional Engineers (in the background). On the horizon is one of the pyramids at neaby Gizeh.

A period of training in the desert followed to prepare the Australian forces for their eventual transfer to Europe, but a short time later, on 1st March 1915 they received orders for embarkation at Alexandria. 4th March they had arrived at Lemnos and anchored off Port Mudros.

On 6th April 1915 - 10.00pm - Orders for embarkation & distribution of Brigade on transports received.  At 8:00am on the following morning they commenced embarking horses & transport details.

By 21st April they were committed to the Gallipoli Campaign when orders came through for their landing at Gallipoli.

The 3rd Brigade was the covering force for the Anzac landing on 25 April 1915, and went ashore at around 4.30 am. During the early fighting on the first, the battalion's commanding officer was killed by a sniper.

George William MANNING was killed soon after arriving at Gallipoli. It is not known where or when. He was reported as 'missing' in the Dardanelles region, but that was soon changed and reported as being Killed in Action.

According to his service records, there was a board of inquiry on 5th June 1916 that confirmed this finding.

He is remembered with honour at the Lone Pine Memorial.

In the meantime - his wife Annie - had given birth to a daughter in Tasmania in 1915 that she named Sheila Patricia Manning. She is listed on the War Pension claim as a daughter of George in 1916. Annie received 13 pounds per annum for Sheila from 9th April 1916 till 17 March 1931 and for herself, received 52 pounds per annum.

No further information has been found on Sheila.

In 1921 there is record of Annie residing in Brunswick, a suburb of Melbourne. According to various census records of that period, she is found in Carlton and or Brunswick up to and including 1930.

But on page one of the service records of George Manning there is a note to the effect that she may have moved to England. Under the 'change of address' it has: Eng 30/3/30

Have not located any information on Annie or Sheila after this time.

In July 1924 - Ellen Charlotte Florence McNiece - sister to George Manning, wrote to the Army requesting information regarding Private G. W. Manning. The question was if this George Manning had returned to Australia in the Air Force.

As per the following letter:

A reply came back stating that there was only one G. W. Manning and that it was evident that the person making the claim regarding the relationship with the deceased was mistaken.

above:  signature of Annie in 1922

above: Dead Man's Penny

The Dead Man’s Penny is a commemorative medallion which was presented to the next-of-kin of the men and women who died during World War One. The bronze medallion features an image of Lady Britannia surrounded by two dolphins (representing Britain’s sea power) and a lion (representing Britain) standing over a defeated eagle (symbolising Germany).

Around the outer edge of the medallion are the words ‘He died for freedom and honour’. Next to Lady Britannia is the deceased soldier’s name, with no rank provided to show equality in their sacrifice.

The Dead Man’s Penny was accompanied by a letter from King George V, stating ‘I join with my grateful people in sending you this memorial of a brave life given for others in the Great War’.


George William Manning's name will be projected onto the exterior of the Hall of Memory on:
  • Mon 6 April, 2015 at 7:01 pm
  • Fri 22 May, 2015 at 10:58 pm
  • Fri 3 July, 2015 at 10:04 pm
  • Sun 16 August, 2015 at 8:58 pm
  • Tue 6 October, 2015 at 2:24 am
  • Sun 6 December, 2015 at 3:50 am
  • Wed 3 February, 2016 at 9:37 pm
  • Thu 31 March, 2016 at 2:29 am
  • Tue 17 May, 2016 at 12:53 am
  • Tue 28 June, 2016 at 3:18 am
These dates and times are estimates. Please note that previous advised times on this site have recently been changed to ensure that early evening projections are clearly visible and not affected by twilight.

The actual time of projection could also change as a result of weather and other factors, so it is advisable to check closer to the date. In the rare event of a temporary loss of electrical power, the names scheduled for display in that period will not appear until the next time listed.

There is also a Facebook page for the 12th Battalion.


25 April 1915:
The full extent of casualties on that first day are not known.

Birdwood, who did not come ashore until late in the day, estimated between three and four hundred dead on the beaches.

The New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage claims one in five of the three thousand New Zealanders involved became a casualty.

The Australian War Memorial has 860 Australian dead between 25–30 April, and the Australian Government estimates 2,000 wounded left Anzac Cove on 25 April, but more wounded were still waiting on the battlefields to be evacuated.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission documents that 754 Australian and 147 New Zealand soldiers died on 25 April 1915.

A higher than normal proportion of the ANZAC casualties were from the officer ranks. One theory was that they kept exposing themselves to fire, trying to find out where they were or to locate their troops. Four men were taken prisoner by the Turks.

may they all rest in peace


Many thanks to the following for their helpful websites and access to same:

the Australian War Memorial

the National Archives

Gallipoli and the Anzacs


the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

12th Battalion Facebook page

Biography - Charles Edwin Woodrow Bean (1879 - 1968)

First to Fall - introduction
AWM - a difficult landing


Feb 5, 2015

John Mathieson William EDMONDS [1894 - 1919]

John Mathieson William Edmonds was born at home at 25 Bendigo Street in Prahran in September 1894.  His parents were John Henry Edmonds and Isabella Craig.

By the time he was 20 years of age he had enlisted in the AIF at Cottesloe in West Australia.  This was 21st June 1915.  He joined the 12th Battalion - 4th Motor Transport Section. His parents wrote a letter giving him permission to enlist.

In September of that same year he embarked Fremantle per the H.M.A.T. Anchises A68 bound for Egypt.

His Battalion disembarked on 6th January 1916 and by the 1st marsh John was transferred to the 52nd Battalion.

As a "driver' he was transferred many time to various Battalions and it is difficult to keep up with where he was at various stages in his Military Career. By August 1916 he was in Marseille, France where he seemed to be for quite a few months.

In February 1919 he is at Wimereux in Northern France being admitted to 7th G.H. with acute bronchitis and influenza. He died on 12th February 1919 at Terlincthun, Pas-de-Calais, France where he is buried

Roll of Honour name projection

John Edmonds' name will be projected onto the exterior
of the Hall of Memory on:

  • Wed 4 February, 2015 at 4:50 am
  • Wed 1 April, 2015 at 10:05 pm
  • Mon 18 May, 2015 at 7:12 pm
  • Mon 29 June, 2015 at 7:18 pm
  • Wed 12 August, 2015 at 12:57 am
  • Wed 30 September, 2015 at 11:03 pm
  • Thu 28 January, 2016 at 2:07 am

These dates and times are estimates. Please note that previous advised times on this site have recently been changed to ensure that early evening projections are clearly visible and not affected by twilight. The actual time of projection could also change as a result of weather and other factors, so it is advisable to check closer to the date. In the rare event of a temporary loss of electrical power, the names scheduled for display in that period will not appear until the next time listed.

once again,
I would like to extend my grateful thanks to the
AWM, CWGC and the NAA
and other sites

for allowing us access to their amazing collections!

Feb 4, 2015

a very busy project!

Over the past year or so I have been researching and gathering photos and information on the members of my family (including extended family) that served in both World Wars.

My 'goal' has been to document what I can in memory of these men that fought in such horrendous conditions so that we may experience some form of peace today.

The ones I have completed are listed below:

died 1916

died 1917


died 1918

died 1919

if anyone has any extra data on any of the above, do please let me know.
Leone Fabre