Wednesday 22 May 2019

Sister Haultain

Recently I became aware of the name Helen Frances Jane Cynthia Haultain. Ingleburn RSL has a memorial park and plaque dedicated to her, and I was asked by them to see if I could find out some further details of her life. I was able to find out the following information.
Helen Frances Jane Cynthia Haultain, was born to parents Henry Graham Haultain (a New Zealander) and Helen Caroline Hill. Henry and Helen were married in Bengal, India where Henry was an Inspector of Police.
Eldest child Charles was born in 1896, Helen in 1904, and sister Sybil in 1905. They were all born in Calcutta. Helen was mostly known as Cynthia, so I’ll refer to her as Cynthia for the rest of this article.
Helen and the three children arrived in Australia on June 14th 1920, from Calcutta, aboard the ship “James”.  I could find no record of father Henry Graham Haultain coming to Australia, and he died in India in 1937.
The Haultains settled at Ingleburn, with the earliest record of them living there I could find was 1926. Cynthia’s brother Charles, who became a mariner before joining the Navy, married Ruby Olive Cust, an Ingleburn girl. Mother Helen lived with second daughter Sybil at “Oranmore” on Cumberland Road.
Cynthia passed her nursing exams in 1929 and her application was accepted by the Nurses Registration Board the same year. In 1930 she became engaged to Leslie Palmer but they did not end up marrying.
Cynthia trained at the Coast Hospital which later became Prince Henry Hospital, during which time she lived at Maroubra. She went on to nurse in the Blue Mountains and was living at Wentworth Falls, in 1932, and then in 1933 was living at Auburn whilst working at Newington State Hospital where she remained until joining up. She was experienced in respiratory nursing and operating theatre techniques.
Sister Haultain
(Photo: 2/3 A.H.S. Centaur Association, May 2013 Newsletter)
Cynthia served at Hay Camp Hospital as well as on board the hospital ship Oranje. She then served on board Australian Hospital Ship Centaur which was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine on May 14th 1943 and Sister Haultain was reported 'missing', which was then changed to 'drowned due to enemy action'.  Of 332 persons on board the Centaur only 64 survived. In a strange twist of fate, the HMAS Lithgow, called on to search for survivors, was captained by Sister Haultain’s brother, Captain Charles Graham Theodore Haultain.
In addition to the park and plaque honoring Sister Haultain, there is also a stained glass window in her memory in St Barnabas’ Church, Ingleburn, her family’s place of worship.
In 2009, a search led by David Mearns, discovered Centaur’s wreck. Centaur was located about 30 nautical miles off the southern tip of Moreton Island, off Queensland’s south-east coast. The site is now a memorial to the lives that were lost.

Written by Claire Lynch
2/3 A.H.S. Centaur Association (Inc.)

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