Australian Hospital Ship Centaur torpedoed
14th May 1943: A notorious war crime that kills 268 nurses, ambulance staff and crew on a defenceless and clearly marked ship
In the early hours of 14th May the Australian Hospital Ship 'Centaur' was en route to New Guninea from Sydney to collect war casualties. As a marked Hospital Ship, she was entitled to be respected as a non-combatant under the Geneva Convention. Japan had not signed the Geneva Convention but had declared that she would abide by it in 1942. Japan also had obligations under 1907 Hague Convention, to which she had been a signatory.
But the Japanese had often demonstrated that the international Conventions meant little to them - an attitude manifested itself amongst its military. On this occasion the most likely culprit was submarine I-177, under the command of Hajime Nakagawa, one of three submarines on patrol in the area and the only one to record a sinking on the 14th May.
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