The producers for the film, Centaur — Death of a Hospital Ship, are Dr Tony Matthews and his wife, Lensie Matthews of Hervey Bay. Tony wrote and directed the film while Lensie was the executive producer.
‘One of the principal reasons for making this film was a very personal one, Lensie later told the press. ‘My uncle, Private Percy Clegg, was on board the ship when it was torpedoed and he did not survive. It has always been a great tragedy within the family that my father lost his brother and Percy’s wife and son lost a much loved husband and father.’
Percy Clegg with his beautiful bride, Marjorie. Percy was the uncle of film producer Lensie Matthews (nee Clegg). He was killed when the Centaur was torpedoed in 1943.
‘It was also important to us, from a historical perspective to do what we could to record the memories of those survivors before they were lost to us forever,’ director Tony Matthews said. Tony, who is a qualified historian and the author of twenty-seven published books, realised the need to record well-constructed and carefully researched interviews with the survivors as they would reveal, for the first time, a plethora of detail hitherto unrecorded.
‘We recorded these interviews with the survivors in 1993 during the 50th commemoration of the sinking,’ Tony said. ‘They are, without doubt, the most personal, powerful and heartfelt accounts of the tragedy ever recorded. This was one of the greatest tragedies in Australia’s maritime history. The ship was a non-combatant vessel and therefore protected by the Geneva Convention. It was well
illuminated and clearly marked as a hospital ship and should never have
‘I never knew my uncle as he was killed before I was born,’ Lensie said. ‘But I often thought about the sinking of the ship and the tragic death of Uncle Percy. We are proud of making the documentary to honour those who lost their lives in such terrible circumstances and I felt privileged to be able to talk to the survivors. It had quite an affect on me. We made the film because it was a story which needed to be told by the survivors themselves. There have been countless reports in the press about the sinking but now, for the first time, the whole story is available through the eyes, the words and the memories of the survivors — the only people who can do proper justice to this incredibly sad story.’