Sister Ellen Savage

Place Oceania: Australia, New South Wales, Sydney
Accession Number ART22196
Collection type Art
Measurement Framed: 96 cm x 80.5 cm x 9 cm; Unframed: 76.8 cm x 61.1 cm
Object type Painting
Physical description oil on canvas
Location Main Bld: World War 2 Gallery: Gallery 3: Aust 43-44
Maker Hanke, Henry
Place made Australia: New South Wales, Sydney
Date made 1943
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


Australian Army Nursing Service; NFX76584 Sister Ellen Savage, GM, AANS. Sister Ellen Savage was the only nurse to survive the sinking of the hospital ship Centaur when it was torpedoed by the Japanese off Stradbroke Island. Although badly hurt, Savage concealed her injuries and helped the other survivors. When morale flagged as sharks circled, and ships and planes passed by without seeing the survivors' raft, Savage organised a sing-a-long.

Seaman Martin Pash recalled that Centaur "just went straight down. There was no noise or anything - a lot of people calling out, the nurses and all & The deck boy brought Sister Savage on. She had a fractured jaw. You wouldn't think there was anything wrong with her but she suffered very badly. She had broken ribs and [was] bruised and one of the fellas gave her his overcoat to put over her."

Sister Savage was awarded the George Medal for her courage during this ordeal.