Family honours Pratten soldier
IT has been 67 years since he died aboard the Australian hospital ship Centaur, but Viola Hope can still hear her uncle wishing her goodbye.
Viola’s uncle Percy Clegg was in the Lighthorse Brigade and aboard the AHS Centaur when it went to a watery grave during its second voyage to Papua New Guinea to collect injured soldiers.
The Centaur was located last year at the ocean’s bottom after the ship was struck by a torpedo from a Japanese submarine.
About 268 people died and 64 survived the night of May 14, 1943. They last month marked a remembrance service for those aboard the fated ship.
Viola and her husband John were among those who participated in the memorial service aboard the HMAS Manoora directly above the wreck of the Centaur.
Growing up on the family farm at Pratten, Viola can remember her mother Doris talking about Percy every day.
Viola said the memorial was moving, especially for her cousin Keith who was just seven years old when his father died.
“Keith was at school when the teacher called him out and told him he had to go home because there was a problem. He dawdled because he thought it would be gone when he got there.”
Keith has met Barry McCosker; the son of the man who bunked next to his dad on the Centaur, but lived to tell the tale and Viola also met him last month.