Monday, September 5, 2011



1. Leslie GARIADI (new Guinea national)

Leslie Gariadi, Papuan Evangelist (from Boianai), assisting the Revd. Henry Matthews at Port Moresby. He trained at St. Aidan's College

2. The Revd. Henry MATTHEWS from Moyston, Victoria Age 66

Henry Matthews was born in Moyston, also famous as the birthplace of Australian Rules Football. Henry Matthews was the eldest son, and third child of Cornishman, William Henry Matthews, originally of Sancreed, Penzance, Cornwall, and the wife he married in 1873 on the Goldfields of Victoria, Australia, Sarah Warren, born in Hertfordshire, England. Henry was one of a big family. He had four sisters and four brother born in Moyston or the Ararat goldfields of Victoria, Australia.

By 1908 Henry Matthews was the Superintendant of the Trubanaman Mission Station at Topsy Creek, on the Mitchell River, Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, Australia.

The Revd. Henry Matthews, Priest at Moresby. Although over 60 years of age, he refused to leave Papua when war came. When his military Chaplaincy was terminated because of his age he received the Bishop's permission to move to Dogura, but first wished to visit Darn and give ministrations to isolated Christians there, and was killed en route. He was born at Ararat, Victoria.

Born: 26 March 1876 in Moyston, nr Ararat, Victoria, Australia

Father: William Henry MATTHEWS (1845 – 1903) born Penzance, Cornwall; Died: Ararat
Mother: Sarah WARREN (1853 – 1937) born: Hertfordshore, Eng. Died: Ararat, Victoria
Cultural Influence: Cornish, Home Counties English, Goldfields Victoria
Christianity: Anglican
Early Occupation: Miner

First Mission: Trubanaman Mission Station

Last Mission Mission: Port Moresby to Daru, New Guinea

On the 14th September 1910 Henry Matthews was married to Mission Teacher, Martha Ann Pick, at the Trubanaman Mission Station, Topsy Creek, Mitchell River, Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, Australia - by the Rev. E.J. NASH, sub-dean of Quetta Memorial Cathedral, Thursday Island, Queensland. Martha Ann Matthews was sixteen years his senior, and unfortunately, did not provide companionship for him for very long, as she died in Sydney, NSW in 1913.

Marriage: 14 September 1910
Wife: Martha Ann PICK (1861 Sydney NSW – 1913 Sydney, NSW)

He served at Trubanaman Mission Station, on Cape York Peninsula until at least 1920.

In 1925 he was the Clergyman at the Rectory, in Cooktown, Queensland, Australia.

A.B.M. Review, September 1st, 1942.

It is with great sorrow that we have received the news that the Rev. H. Matthews has been reported "Missing, believed killed or drowned."

In all the Rev. H. Matthews gave 33 years of his life to active missionary service, 18 years at the Mitchell River Mission as Superintendent, and subsequently as Chaplain, and 15 years at Port Moresby as Vicar and, since 1939, as Garrison Chaplain.

A.B.M. Review, October 1st, 1942.

As the Japanese penetrate further into Papua our anxieties about our missionaries in the North of the Diocese of New Guinea increase. Towards the end of August rumours were reaching us that the Rev. Henry Matthews had lost his life, and this was confirmed later by the Bishop, who reported that he was missing and presumed killed or drowned. We are still not sure of the facts, but it looks as if Mr. Matthews [49/50] was on a boat on which half-castes were being removed to another locality, and that in an attack from a Japanese submarine his life was lost. From : - SOUTH SEA EPIC - by Ruth HENRICH

Death: 7 August 1942 between Port Moresby and Daru, Papua, New Guinea
Burial: At Sea, Papua, New Guinea



Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Martyrs of the 'Montevideo Maru'

THE Missionary Martyrs of the MONTEVIDEO MARU


The Martyr's NAMES (arranged alphabetical)

1. Sydney Colin BEAZLEY Carpenter Missionary (1909-1942)- from Western Australia - Age 33

Sydney Colin BEAZLEY, Carpenter Missionary, was born in 1909 at Northam, Western Australia,(son of Alfred Beazley & Mary Wright) brother of Kim Edward BEAZEY(1917 -2007) MHR, M.O., Minister of Education in the Whitlam Government; also uncle of Prof Kim BEAZLEY - ex-opposition and ALP leader.
Methodist Missionary Trainer at Rabaul, New Guinea. Taken prisoner January 1942 by the Japanese. He died in the early hours of the 1st July 1942 sinking of the Japanese prisoner-of war transport ship "MONTEVIDEO MARU" after it was torpedoed by an American submarine, off Luzon, in the northern Philippines, South China Sea

Father: Alfred BEAZLEY (1872 -1943) a Grocer of Northam, Western Australia
Mother: Mary Margaret WRIGHT (1883-1924) Western Australia

Born: 1909 in Northam, 97 ks northeast of Perth, Western Australia
Cultural Influence: Beazleys of Reading, Berkshire, England
Christianity: Methodist
Education: Northam & Fremantle, Western Australia

Occupation: 1931 Carpenter, South Fremantle, WA
Location: 1936 Goomalling, Toodyay, Western Australia
Qualities: Faithfulness
Mission: Missionary Carpenter and Trainer
Marriage: abt 1938
Wife: Beryl ?
Family: daughter Pauline BEAZLEY
Position: Missionary Trainer - 'Malakuna, Rabaul, New Britain, New Guinea
"Technical Training: 'Syd Beazley arrived in 1937, and four young men were selected as his first trainees. They were to be a 'travelling school' moving from job to job, and based at the Malakuna workshop.' Threlfell, Neville - 100 Years in the Islands" - The Methodist /United Church in the New Guinea Islands Region 1875-1975"

Prisoner of the Japanese Invaders: Rabaul, East New Britain, Papua New Guinea - 'McArthur, Linggood, Pearson, Oakes, Simpson, Trevitt, Shelton, Poole, Pearce and Beasley were taken from their work and imprisoned with the soldiers and civilians in Rabaul" Neville Threlfell

Death: before dawn 1 July 1942 off Luzon, in the northern Philippines, in the South China Sea, upon the sinking of the 'Montevideo Maru' torpedoed by an american submarine



2. Rev. William Lawrence Irving LINGGOOD,from Melbourne, Victoria, Age 40.

Reverend William Lawrence Irving LINGGOOD\
Missionary (MM), Raluana, New Britain
William Lawrence Irving LINGGOOD
Born: Apr-May-Jun Quarter 1902 in Rochford, Essex, England, Great Britain
Parents: son of Watch and Clock Maker, William Lawrence & Georgina Martha LINGGOOD
Cultural Influence: English
Education: Essex, England, & Victoria, Australia
Seminary: ?
Married: 1930 Victoria, Australia
Wife: Essie Mildred ANDERSON
Family: son: William Linggood, daughter: Loloma Linggood
Mission: Methodist Overseas Missionary Society of Australasia

Prisoner of the Japanese Invaders: Rabaul, East New Britain, Papua New Guinea - " McArthur, Linggood, Pearson, Oakes, Simpson, Trevitt, Shelton, Poole, Pearce and Beasley were taken from their work and imprisoned with the soldiers and civilians in Rabaul;" Neville Threlfell

Death: 1 July 1942 in off Luzon, in the northern Philippines, in the South China Sea, upon the sinking of the 'Montevideo Maru' torpedoed by American submarine


3. 'Reverend Laurie' Lawrance Archibald McARTHUR (1904-1942) - from Orroroo, South Australia, Age 38

'Reverend Laurie' Lawrance Archibald McARTHUR

Reverend 'Laurie' Lawrance Archibald McARTHUR

Birth: 9 July 1904 in Yednalie, nr Orroroo, Frome district, South Australia

Father: Archibald McARTHUR (1859 NZ - 1940 SA)
Mother: Florence Serena SYMONS (1872 SA 1967 SA)
Cultural Influence: Cornish, Scottish, Colonial New Zealand & South Australia
Christianity: Wesleyan, Methodist
Education: South Australia

Marriage: 14 February 1931 South Australia
Wife: Daisy Catherine Sabina HUGHES (1904-1977)
Family: two children
Early Ministry: Methodist Circuit, Maylands, Perth, Western Australia
Mission Ministry: Rabaul, New Britain, New Guinea
Occupation: Clergyman, Missionary [Methodist Missionary Society of Australasia]
Position: Member of Legislative Council for Territory of New Guinea

Prisoner of the Japanese Invaders: Rabaul, East New Britain, Papua New Guinea - " McArthur, Linggood, Pearson, Oakes, Simpson, Trevitt, Shelton, Poole, Pearce and Beasley were taken from their work and imprisoned with the soldiers and civilians in Rabaul;" Neville Threlfell

Death: 1 July 1942 off Luzon, northern Philippines, in the South China Sea, upon the sinking of the 'Montevideo Maru'
Postion: McARTHUR, Rev. Laurence Archie, 38, Missionary (MM), Rabaul, New Britain

4. Rev. William Daniel OAKES from Braidwood, NSW Age 36.

Rev. William Daniel OAKES
Born: 24 August 1905 Garston, Liverpool, England.
Parents: Daniel & Lucy Jane OAKES
Cultural Influence: English
Marriage: 1933 Burwood, Sydney, New South Wales
Wife: Marion Lilian JOHNSON (1909-2000) Daughter of Rev. George E Johnston
Family: father of George Daniel and Parker Oakes
Position: Methodist missionary on New Ireland & New Britain from 1933 to 1942.
Occupation: Missionary (MM), Pinikidu, New Ireland

Prisoner of the Japanese Invaders: Rabaul, East New Britain, Papua New Guinea - " McArthur, Linggood, Pearson, Oakes, Simpson, Trevitt, Shelton, Poole, Pearce and Beasley were taken from their work and imprisoned with the soldiers and civilians in Rabaul;" Neville Threlfell

Death: before dawn 1 July 1942 off Luzon, in the northern Philippines, in the South China Sea, upon the sinking of the 'Montevideo Maru' torpedoed by an american submarine



William Daniel OAKES
Methodist Misionary
Ulu, Duke of York Islands, 1933-1934
Pinikidu, New Ireland, 1934-1942

by George Daniel Oakes

Rev Dan Oakes with wife and young son George


My father was the Rev. William Daniel Oakes. I last saw him when I was 7 years old in July, 1941, when my mother, younger brother and I were evacuated from New Ireland to Sydney on the Macdhui. I cannot remember too much of our life in New Ireland, however, we do have some papers and photos from this time. Also, a friend of Dan's from school days, Frank Mason, in the 1960s, wrote a short biography of Dan. I am using these documents to help me prepare this memoir. Dan was born in Garston, Liverpool, England on 24th August 1905. His father was a Marine Engineer and therefore away a lot. He had a younger sister and brother. (During the Second World War his brother, a bomber pilot, was shot down over Holland and when his sister heard of his death she took a stroke and died. Dan's parents, therefore in a short period of time in the War lost their 3 children.)
When Dan was a student at the Banks Road Council School, he did not distinguish himself as very clever but he certainly was a persistent lad with a definite will of his own. Dan joined the Boy Scouts at the Banks Road Methodist Church and in no time became a patrol leader, later, troop leader and in a few years, Scoutmaster. Frank Mason says that Dan was an impetuous young man; not in a woolly or careless way but, with the clarity of youth, he saw things as either black or white, no greys; as Yes! or No!, no Maybes? If the answer was 'yes', he did it; if 'no', wild horses would not bend him. Dan also took up Local Preaching and for this he studied diligently and began to acquire a library of his own, chiefly of second-hand books. He loved singing hymns and revelled in a rousing tune, especially if there were tit-bits for his tenor voice. He early heard the call to Overseas Mission work, and to prepare himself for the practical side of the work, resigned his position in an office and went into an engineering shop and qualified as a blacksmith.

In 1927, the Rev. D.C. Hughes visited England hoping to find young men who would be interested in becoming ministers in the NSW Methodist Church. Dan joined 11 other young men on the Hudson Bay, and sailed to Australia in 1928. This group was referred to as 'The Twelve Apostles'. Dan wrote to his mother every day on his journey out. Frank Mason read these letters and said that Dan had a very tidy mind and he set down every detail that was of interest - the mileage steamed each day, the weather, activities and the travel scene.


On arrival at Melbourne, Dan was sent as a Home Missionary to the small town of Braidwood near Canberra. On his arrival at Braidwood, his predecessor introduced him to a new, for Dan, form of transport - the pony and trap. Dan was to be his own driver and his parishioners would depend for his visits largely on the whim of the pony and the skill of Dan. While at Braidwood, Dan established a new Scout Troop, 1st Braidwood Troop. Whilst at Braidwood, Dan was accepted as a candidate for the ministry by the Methodist Conference. In his meticulous way Dan records the travelling and work of his first nine months at Braidwood. Frank Mason quotes: 'Travelled 1270 miles by pony; 1420 by car; held 89 services; paid 472 visits and baptized six children.'

In 1929, Dan became a student at Leigh College, the NSW Methodist Training Centre for Ministers. At the completion of his training after three years, he gained the essay prizes for Homiletics (the art of preaching), Peace and Missionary.
In 1932, he was appointed to the Milton Circuit on the south coast of NSW as a probation minister. This was a large country circuit with 9 Methodist Churches. Here he preached 50 services quarterly, including twice on week nights 'when the moon was full'. At the Methodist Synod in 1932, he offered for overseas mission work and was appointed to the Ulu Circuit in New Britain. Normally, ministers had to do three years as a probationer before they could be ordained and have the opportunity to marry. As in so many other situations Dan 'took time by the forelock' and became ordained on the 3rd March, 1933, after only one year; this because he had volunteered to become a missionary in New Guinea. There was a reason for this - on 19th April, 1933, he married Marion Lilian Johnson, the daughter of Rev. George E. Johnson who was at the time the Methodist minister at Burwood, Sydney - which is not far from Leigh College!

5. Mr Ernest Wilfred PEARCE from Sydney, Age 42

Mr Ernest Wilfred PEARCE
Methodist Missionary Society of Australasia

Born: 1900 Ashfield, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Father: John Harcourt PEARCE (1869 NSW – 1935 NSW) Carpenter and Builder of Ashfields & Merryfields, Sydney
Mother: Mary Hannah PETTIT (1870 Bathurst – 1935 Sydney, NSW)
Cultural Influence: English
Education: Sydney, New South Wales

Christianity: Methodist

Occupation: Accountant,
Business manager of the Methodist Mission District, at Rabaul,
Preacher, Catechist & Hymnologist
Missionary: New Britain: 1926.
"Wilf Pearce (with W. R Playford) as Chairman's Assistants at (Neville Threlfell, One Hundred Years in the Islands. pp.120)

Appointment: Mission Accountant & Chairman's assistant "
Handling the (Mission) District's money, and showing clearly how it was used, was a growing and important work. The District was fortunate to have the services of Wilf Pearce, a qualified accountant, as Chairman's Assistant from 1926 to 1933. K.C.Allsop served briefly in this position. Pearce then returned to the District in 1934, but was known as the Business Manager and then as the Accountant. As well as handling the finances efficiently, he was an active preacher in the Rabaul congregations, and carried out many personal and business errands for the missionaries on the out-stations." Neville Threlfell, One Hundred Years in the Islands. (pp.133-134)

Special Charism: Hymnologist and Catechist, Editor & Publisher -
"Wilf Pearce the Accountant, collected and edited a little book of Pidgin hymns and a catechism for their use." Neville Threlfell, One Hundred Years in the Islands. (pp.140_

Marriage: Saturday 1 February 1941 New Town Methodist Church, Rabaul, New Britian, Papua-New Guinea by the Rev. A. E. Chancellor
Wife: Eileen Elsa BRABIN (1912 – ?) born Sandy Bay, Hobart, Tasmania, daughter of Hobart, Tasmania-born Claude Albert BRABIN (1883 – ?) and Colac, Victoria-born Elsa Eva HILLHOUSE (1883 – ?)
Family: Rosemary Elsa Jean PEARCE (1942 Sydney – 2007) married Elwyn Robert LARKINS (1938 – 1999)

Prisoner of the Japanese Invaders: Rabaul, East New Britain, Papua New Guinea - " McArthur, Linggood, Pearson, Oakes, Simpson, Trevitt, Shelton, Poole, Pearce and Beasley were taken from their work and imprisoned with the soldiers and civilians in Rabaul;" Neville Threlfell

Death: 1 July 1942 off Luzon, in the northern Philippines, in the South China Sea, upon the sinking of the 'Montevideo Maru' torpedoed by American submarine

6. Rev. Howard James PEARSON ,from Kadina, South Australia, age 29.

Rev. Howard James PEARSON

Born: 15 July 1913 in Kadina, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia
Father: Thomas William PEARSON (1879 – 1916) of Moonta, Yorke Peninsula, SA
Mother: Julia Adams ROWE (1884 – ) of Yorke Peninsula, South Australia

Cultural Influence: Cornwall; Kent & Devon, Southern England
Education: South Australia, Kings College, University of Adelaide,[Bachelor of Arts, Diploma of Education]

Seminary: In 1936 he was a student at Leigh College, NSW Methodist Training Centre for Ministers, and living at Haberfield, Sydney, New South Wales
Ordination: 1938 Rabaul, New Britain
Occupation 1: Clergyman

Occupation 2. Principal of New Britain Methodist College

Occupation 3. Missionary (MM) at Vunairima, New Britain

Marriage: ?
Wife: widow
Family: one son

Prisoner of the Japanese Invaders: early 1942 Rabaul, East New Britain, Papua New Guinea - " McArthur, Linggood, Pearson, Oakes, Simpson, Trevitt, Shelton, Poole, Pearce and Beasley were taken from their work and imprisoned with the soldiers and civilians in Rabaul;" from Neville Threlfell

Death: 1 July 1942 off Luzon, in the northern Philippines, in the South China Sea, upon the sinking of the 'Montevideo Maru' torpedoed by American submarine

7. Reverend John William POOLE from N.S.W. Age 28

Reverend John William POOLE

Born: abt 1913 ? New South Wales, Australia

Father: Edgar Alan POOLE (1887-1967)Saddler of Dubbo, NSW
Mother: Ann Smith LYLE (1889-1971) of NSW

Cultural Influence: English-Australian, (his wife Cornish-German Australia)
Christianity: Wesleyan, Methodist
Education: New South Wales

Seminary: Leigh College, Liverpool Road, Strathfield, NSW
Ordination: NSW
Marriage: 1940 Rockdale, Sydney, New South Wales
Wife: Alice Jean COLDITZ (b. abt 1915 ? NSW
Family: ?
Mission: Methodist Overseas Mission of Australasia
Position: 1942 age 28, Missionary (MM), Kalas, New Britain

Prisoner of the Japanese Invaders: Rabaul, East New Britain, Papua New Guinea - " McArthur, Linggood, Pearson, Oakes, Simpson, Trevitt, Shelton, Poole, Pearce and Beasley were taken from their work and imprisoned with the soldiers and civilians in Rabaul;" Neville Threlfell

Death: 1 July 1942 off Luzon, in the northern Philippines, in the South China Sea, upon the sinking of the 'Montevideo Maru' torpedoed by American submarine

8. Reverend Herbert Bolus SHELTON born Tamworth NSW Aged 43

Reverend Herbert Bolus SHELTON

Born: 21st April 1898 in Tamworth, New England, New South Wales

Father: Robert SHELTON (? - 1933 NSW) of 'Swanwick' Camp Hill, Forbes, NSW
Mother: Mary Ann BOLUS (1861 SA - 1915 NSW) Adelaide-born, died 'Swanwick' Forbes, NSW
Cultural Influence: English, Early Colonial South Australia & NSW
Education: New South Wales
Military Service: W.W.1: Enlisted as Private No. R3135 at Bathurst then at Liverpool, NSW, on 21 November 1916 in the A.I.F. Description: age: 18, height: 5 ft 7 1/2 inches; weight: 154 lbs; complexion: dark; eyes: brown; hair: dark; religion: Methodist. Served with 'Z' Company, and 'X' Company. He served some time with the 33rd Battalion, 7th Brigade. Shelton transfererd from the 19th Battalion to the 56th Battalion, 14th Brigade. He was wounded in action at Paschendale, northern France, on 10 October 1917, and with a shell wound to the left elbow, and also suffering from Trench feet, invalided to England. He was given six months recuperation and then, the wound being healed, returned to active duty. Finally returned to Australia 10 January 1918. Demobilized 19 November 1918.
Occupation: In 1916 he was working as a Bank Clerk; in 1930 he was a Secretary in Strathfield, NSW
Seminary: Sydney, New South Wales
Ordination: New South Wales
Marriage: 1931 Chatswood, Sydney, NSW
Wife: Jean Frances SHOEBRIDGE 1903 – 1995 [later Mrs Harry STUART)
Family: ?
Appointment: Methodist Missionary Society of Australasia
Mission Theatre: New Britain

Prisoner of the Japanese Invaders: Rabaul, East New Britain, Papua New Guinea - " McArthur, Linggood, Pearson, Oakes, Simpson, Trevitt, Shelton, Poole, Pearce and Beasley were taken from their work and imprisoned with the soldiers and civilians in Rabaul;" Neville Threlfell

Death: 1 July 1942 in off Luzon, in the northern Philippines, in the South China Sea, upon the sinking of the 'Montevideo Maru' torpedoed by American submarine


9.Rev. Thomas Nevison SIMPSON The Mallee, Sth Australia, age 33.

Rev. Thomas Nevison SIMPSON

Born: 18 March 1909, London, England, Great Britain

Father: William Simpson, ex-soldier of the Highland Light Infantry, later a 'journeyman pastry cook'
Mother: Maria Theresa Nevison
Education: 'Royal Caledonian Asylum' (boarding school)
Orphaned: 1918 stayed in 'Royal Caledonian Asylum'
Institutional Link: 'Barwell Boys Scheme' sent British boys to South Australia to be 'farm apprentices'
Emigrated: May 1924 on the Benalla for South Australia
Location: Jabuk & Lameroo, South Australia

Seminary: Wesley College in Adelaide
Missionary Training: George Brown College, Sydney, NSW
Mission service: 1936, Missionary (MM), New Hanover & New Ireland PNG
Tom became the first missionary on the New Hanover District circuit. Over the next six years, he established the mission, supervising the building of the church, houses, jetty and roads.

Marriage: 7 September 1937, Rabaul, New Britain
Wife: Nellie SUDLOW
Family: 1. Margaret SImpson born May 1941 Kavieng (later Henderson)
2. John Simpson b. abt 1943 in Australia

His daughter, Margaret Henderson's Story

From "YOURS SINCERLEY, TOM - A Lost Child of the Empire "
Margaret Henderson

Thomas Nevison SIMPSON
Methodist Missionary
New Hanover 1936 - 1942

Margaret Henderson

My life as the Daughter of the Rev. Thomas Nevison Simpson:
A Missionary on New Hanover in Pre-War PNG
Margaret Henderson

Prisoner of the Japanese Invaders: early 1942, Rabaul, East New Britain, Papua New Guinea - " McArthur, Linggood, Pearson, Oakes, Simpson, Trevitt, Shelton, Poole, Pearce and Beasley were taken from their work and imprisoned with the soldiers and civilians in Rabaul;" Neville Threlfell

Death: 1 July 1942 in off Luzon, in the northern Philippines, in the South China Sea, upon the sinking of the 'Montevideo Maru' torpedoed by American submarine

10. Reverend Jack William TREVITT from N.S.W. Age 28

Reverend Jack William TREVITT

Father: Ernest Alfred TREVITT (1878-1960) Dentist of Ryde & Eastwood, Sydney NSW
Mother: Ethel Amelia WARDROP (1882-1968) from Murwillumbah, NSW

Birth: abt 1913 Ryde, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Cultural Influence:
Christianity: Methodist
Seminary: 1936 Student living at No.32 Rutledge st, Eastwood, Ryde West
Marriage: about 1938 ?
Wife: Melville
Family: son Bruce Trevitt
Appointment: Australasian Methodist Mission
Position: 1942 Rev. Jack William, 28, Missionary (MM), Vunairima, New Britain

Death: 1 July 1942 - off Luzon, in the northern Philippines, in the South China Sea, upon the sinking of the 'Montevideo Maru'


1. Rev. Brother Clifford Ambrose BRENNAN, Age 26, Rabaul, New Britain

Rev. Brother Clifford Ambrose BRENNAN

Appointment: Missionary,
Station: Catholic Mission of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Rabaul, New Britain,

Residence: - 1943?

Death: 1 July 1942 in off Luzon, in the northern Philippines, in the South China Sea, upon the sinking of the 'Montevideo Maru' torpedoed by American submarine

2. Rev Father J. HENNESSY - Marist Mission Society

Rev Father J. HENNESSY

Station: Marist Mission Society

Prisoner of the Japanese Invaders: early 1942, Rabaul, East New Britain, Papua New Guinea

Death: 1 July 1942 in off Luzon, in the northern Philippines, in the South China Sea, upon the sinking of the 'Montevideo Maru' torpedoed by American submarine

3. Rev. Father David Bertram McCULLAGH, age 31,

Missionary, Rabaul, New Britain

Rev. Father David Bertram McCULLAGH,

Born: abt 1911 in Marrickville, Sydney, New South Wales,

Father: John McCULLAGH (? – 1940) Labourer of Marrickille [m.1906 Perth WA]
Mother: Amelia Murray BROWN (? – 1961)

Education: 1936 Sacred Heart Monastry, Randwick, (Kensington), New South Wales [Seminary Sudent]

Appointment: Missionary,
Station: Catholic Mission of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Rabaul, New Britain,

Prisoner of the Japanese Invaders: early 1942, Rabaul, East New Britain, Papua New Guinea

Death: 1 July 1942 in off Luzon, in the northern Philippines, in the South China Sea, upon the sinking of the 'Montevideo Maru' torpedoed by American submarine


1. Pastor Edwin Malcolm ABBOTT, From Sydney, Age 33,

Pastor Edwin Malcolm ABBOT

Born: 1909 in Waverley, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Father: Edwin Victor ABBOTT (1877-1954) born Blackburn, Lancashire, England, died Chatswood, NSW
Mother: Florence Isabel H D MOORE (1976-1964)
born Dubbo, New South Wales, died Katoomba, NSW
Education: New South Wales, Australia

Occupation: 1933 Clerk - at No.1215 Pacific Highway, Turramurra, NSW


Marriage: QLD or PNG
Wife: Una Frances SPRENGEL (1906 QLD - 1989 NSW)

Mission Superintendent, Rabaul, New Britain


On the ship "MV NEPTUNA"

14. ABBOTT, Una Frances; Aged 35; Home Duties; (Wife of Pastor ABBOTT, Edwin Malcolm; Civilain; Lost on Montevideo Maru)

Occupation: early 1942 Accountant - at No.107A Fox Valley ROad, Wahroonga, Turramurra

Prisoner of the Japanese Invaders: early 1942, Rabaul, East New Britain, Papua New Guinea

Death: 1 July 1942 in off Luzon, in the northern Philippines, in the South China Sea, upon the sinking of the 'Montevideo Maru' torpedoed by American submarine

Abbott's widow, Una Frances Abbott, nee Sprengel

2. Mr Trevor David COLLETT age 29,

Mr Trevor David COLLETT

Mission Sawmiller, Mussau, New Ireland

Marriage: 1934 Hamilton, Newcastle, New South Wales
Wife: Olga Muriel WILES
she died at age 85, on the 23 February 1990 at Kenthurst, Sydney, New South Wales

Family: daughter Anthea COLLETT, born: abt 1938


On the ship 'MV MACDHUI' -

21. COLLETT, Olga Muriel (nee DILES); Aged 37; Home Duties; with -

21a. COLLETT, Anthea; Aged 4; Child; (Wife and child of COLLETT, Trevor David; Civilian, Lost on Montevideo Maru).

Prisoner of the Japanese Invaders: early 1942, Rabaul, East New Britain, Papua New Guinea

Death: 1 July 1942 in off Luzon, in the northern Philippines, in the South China Sea, upon the sinking of the 'Montevideo Maru' torpedoed by American submarine


Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Buna Beach New Guinea Martyrs of Aug-Sept 1942


by Rev'd Canon Denis Moss ed. by Simon Harding

" The Japanese declared war on 7th December 1941. Their advance was rapid as they captured Malaya and Singapore.

Rabaul fell in January 1942. Now the threat to Australia and New Guinea was realized. The civilian population was hurriedly withdrawn.

Anglican missions though were urged by the Bishop, the Right Reverend Philip Strong, to stay with their people, and indeed this was the decision of the missionaries themselves.

Only one woman left for the safety of Australia. She had a young child and believed that her prime responsibility was for its protection.

One of these Anglican priests (Vivian Redlich) wrote to his father just days before his death: 'If I don't come out of it, just rest content that I tried to do my job faithfully.'

The invading forces landed near Gona on the north-east coast of Papua in July 1942 with the intention of taking Lae and Salamaua. Gona was the site of an Anglican Mission Station and Hospital.

The staff consisted of the Rev'd. James Benson, Sister May Hayman and Miss Mavis Parkinson. As the Japanese forces approached they sought shelter in the inland forest. However, the two women were later captured and executed on September 1st.

Their bodies were exhumed and given Christian burial in February 1943.

Father Benson (presumed dead also) was captured and imprisoned and found alive three years later.

At Sangara, some thirty miles inland from Gona there was another Mission Station staffed by the Rev'd. Vivian Redlich, a nurse, Sister Margery Brenchley along with a teacher, Miss Lilla Lashmar.

A few miles distant was Isivita where the Rev'd. Henry Holland and Mr. John Duffill were working. Among the indigenous workers was a young teacher and evangelist, Lucian Tapiedi. He had been educated at mission schools where he had been influenced by the Rev'd. Edwin Nuagoro, a Papuan priest. In 1939 he had entered St. Aidan's Teacher Training College.

A group including Tapiedi, which numbered ten altogether moved away in an attempt to evade the Japanese. They were captured by a group of unfriendly natives led by a criminal named Hivijapa who believed that the day of the European was ended. He killed Lucian Tapiedi with an axe.

The remainder perished soon afterwards, six of them being beheaded on Buna Beach by the Japanese.

In all 330 church workers of various denominations were executed by the Japanese in new Guinea.

A statue of Lucian Tapiedi is installed over the west door of Westminster Abbey among those of many other Christian martyrs of the 20th century."

Read more:
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution No Derivatives


The Revd. John Frederick BARGE.

Rightly, the Rev. John Frederick BARNES belongs elsewhere, for he was martured on New Britain.

The Revd. John Frederick Barge, Priest at Apugi Mission, New Britain. An Englishman, he came to Australia in 1926, and became an orchardist in the Stanthorpe area of South Queensland. He was ordained in Brisbane in 1932, and was appointed as assistant in the Parish of St. James, Toowoomba. He went to New Britain in 1935.

Rev. John Frederick BARGE (Melanesian Martyr).
St. James' 1869 - 2009 - St. James' Toowoomba Celebrated 140 years. Edited by Lyn HODGSON.

The Revd James BENSON

Father Benson (presumed dead also) was captured and imprisoned and found alive three years later.

Mission: 1937 Arrived at Gona, Papua
Post War in an Australian Monastery

Died: 1956 in London, England -' after an adventurous and arduous career" Rt Rev. J W C Ward

BENSON, Fr James " Prisoner's Base and Home Again" - The Story of a Missionary P.O.W (Prisoner of War) Published: 1957 Robert Hale Ltd, London, England

Returned to the Mission at Gona, Papua, in 1948 after years of Imprisonment, he wrote of the legacy of the Japanese War: "My house and the nearby Mission buildings stand on one of the widest... beach strips, where it is possible to dodge the larger bomb craters and fill in the smaller ones and the ubiquitous shell holes. We are still doing this, though the fighting was over years ago... All around us lie dumps of small arms, which splutter and explode wheneve we burn the grass. There are overturned trucks in the bush, and the skeletons of landing barges on the shore; not three hundred yards from the Mission lies the burnt-out wreck of a Fling Fortress, and a mile out to sea, on the jagged teeth of the Basabuga Reef, lies the wreck of the 'Ayatosan Maru,' a 10,000 ton transport whose bleached ribs I can see from my window. Such was the home I returned to: a war-devastated strip of beach on the north-eastern shore of Papua. It had taken more than three years to get back to it: three years as a prisoner in the hands of the Japanese."

Sister Margery BRENCHLEY.

Sister Margery BRENCHLEY

Born: Queensland, Australia


Brother: Charles John BRENCHLEY (married 11 Dec 1913 QLD) to Ethel May HOLDSWORTH

Sister Margery Brenchley, Mission Sister at Sangara. An Australian nurse, from Holy Trinity, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.

Margery was born in England but migrated to Australia with her brother when she was
a teenager. Recognising that nursing was her vocation, she entered Brisbane Hospital
for training. While in training she attended the parish of Holy Trinity, Fortitude Valley. They supported her as their missionary from the time she went to New Guinea in 1927 until her death.

Those who knew her as a mission nurse described her as slightly built, usually dressed in brown, with dark hair and eyes, totally devoted to the care of the native people. 1 When Henry Holland moved to the new station of Isivita, she shared the responsibility of running the Sangara station with Lilla Lashmar. From this lonely spot she sometimes travelled to Gona alone with a sick patient. The mission house and all its furniture was made mostly from local bush materials but they also used the packing boxes in which equipment was carried up from the coast. Their isolation was
slightly mitigated by the presence, at a short distance, of the manager of the rubber plantation. Louis Austen and his wife. In July 1942 both Lilla Lashmar and Margery
Brenchley declined an offer from Australian servicemen to travel to Port Moresby with them, but as their post lay in the direct line of the advancing Japanese, they moved to Isivita, accompanied by Lucian Tapiedi. Early on 22nd July the mission staff began to build a secret camp in the bush for the Europeans. After a week Henry Holland consulted Andrew Aware and it was agreed that they were not safe in their hide-out, with patrols passing so close all the time and Lucian and Andrew making daily
visits. It was then that the decision to travel to the coast was made. A decision which led to their capture and death on Buna beach

Mr. John Stanley DUFFILL. from Queensland, martyred at Age 34

Mr. John Duffill, Mission Builder at Isivita. An Australian, from Holy Trinity, Woollongaba, Brisbane, who should have been on furlough, but elected to remain in Papua.

Mr. John Stanley DUFFILL

Born: 16 August 1907 Stanley-street, East Brisbane, (Woolangabba) Queensland, Australia

Father: Henry Holland George DUFFILL (1876 – 1936) Painter & Decorator, born London, ENG; died Brisbane, QLD
Mother: Alice Theresa GILMORE (1878 – 1915) born Stanthorpe, QLD; died Brisbane, QLD - of Irish Parentage

Cultural Influence: Irish and English
Occupation: Painter and Decorator, Missionary Handyman and Builder

Christianity: Anglican, Woolangabba Parish, Queensland

Mission Activity: 1938 - Mission Handyman & Support

The death shortly afterwards of those from Sangara and Isivita whom Lucian was accompanying--the Revd. Henry Holland and Mr. John Duffill, of Isivita; the Revd. Vivian Redlich; Sister Margery Brenchley and Miss Lilla Lashmar, from Sangara, who were beheaded on the Buna beach. Their bodies were not recovered, as it is believed they were thrown into the sea.

Death: 12 August 1942 at Buna Beach, below Sangara Mission Station, Northern shores of Papua- beheaded by the Japanese

Sister Frances May HAYMAN from Adelaide & Canberra. Age 36.

Sister Frances May HAYMAN

Sister May Hayman, Mission Sister at Gona. An Australian nurse, trained in Canberra, engaged to the Revd. Vivian Redlich. Joined New Guinea staff in September, 1936, was stationed first at Dogura, then at Boianai, before being sent to Gona.

Born: 30 January 1906 in Mile End, Adelaide, South Australia
Father: Francis Edward HAYMAN (1863 SA – 1920 SA) of Adelaide
Mother: Marian TURNER (1865 SA – 1928 SA)

Hayman Family: May Hayman is by her father's knee.

May Frances Hayman at 14.

Engaged to : Rev. Vivian Frederick Barnes REDLICH (1905 – 1942) see below

May Hayman at 25 years

Died: 12 August 1942 at Gona, Popondetta, Northern shore, Papua New Guinea

Contributed by Ms Vanessa Johnston (Australian War Memorial)

Miss May Hayman was an Anglican missionary based at Gona in New Guinea. She elected to stay in New Guinea, even after most civilians had evacuated the area in fear of Japanese landing. With Father Benson and Miss Mavis Parkinson she continued their missionary work.

The three missionaries remained in Gona until a large Japanese ship approached the coast and the shelling and bombing started. It had been arranged with the Bishop that in the event of an invasion they would head for Isivita mission station 38 miles inland. However, Father Benson wanted to approach the Japanese and ask their permission to carry on his work. So the three hid in the bush to see how things would unfold, but they eventually ended up fleeing without approaching the Japanese and ended up lost and scared in the bush.

By the time the missionaries crossed the Kokoda Track they were terrified. The two women, in particular, had never before been off the beaten track. They found the experience of the bush, with its strange creature sounds and the realization that they had been walking in circles, incredibly unnerving. The three missionaries, however, clung to their faith and believed that God would guide and care for them.

New Guineans discovered the lost missionaries but were highly reluctant to welcome or receive them, fearing what would happen if the Japanese found that they had befriended white people. Despite the natives reluctance to help them the missionaries made their way to Siai where, with the help of Father John they made a hideout half a mile away. They hid there for numerous months.

In their hideout the missionaries were completely isolated from communication with the civilized world, and were without any knowledge of what was going on around them. During this time May developed, on the basis of native stories, the impression that the Japanese were half way to Port but were being killed by the thousands and that they were kindly disposed to the natives and had hurt none.

What happened to May and her fellow missionaries between the time of her last letter, written while in hiding from the Japanese, and her death is not entirely clear. However the official reports assert that the two women, who had reached the Dobodura region with the help of a small group of Allied soldiers, were eventually betrayed to the Japanese by the local natives. The women are believed to have been beheaded by the Japanese. Father Benson somehow ended up alone in the bush in the same area. He was found by the Japanese, after much suffering, and was reportedly treated fairly well. It seems the missionaries left their flight from Gona too late.

May Hayman Memorial, Queensland

May Hayman Memorial window, Hamilton, Queensland

The Reverend Henry HOLLAND from Grenfell, NSW Age 62.

The Revd. Henry HOLLAND from Grenfell, NSW, Age 62

The Revd. Henry Holland, Priest at Isivita Mission, with 42 years of missionary service. He had gone to New Guinea as a lay missionary in 1910 and worked amongst coastal Papuans. In 1921 he was asked by Bishop Henry Newton to explore the Mt. Lamington area with a view to beginning work there. He chose the Sangara plateau as his centre and, after a year, had a Church and school built. Both were well used. He came from New South Wales.

Born: 1879 Grenfell NSW

Father: Edward HOLLAND (1839-1906) born Longfleet, on Poole Harbour, by Bournemouth, Dorsetshire, England. Emigrated by 1860. Died: Grenfell, NSW
Mother: Ann McGRATH (1847 – 1935) of Sydney & Grenfell, Monteagle district, NSW

Cultural Influence: English and Irish
Christianity: Anglican

A Missionary of 42 years of Service : from about 1889

The Revd. Henry Holland, Priest at Isivita Mission, with 42 years of missionary service. He had gone to New Guinea as a lay missionary in 1910 and worked amongst coastal Papuans. In 1921 he was asked by Bishop Henry Newton to explore the Mt. Lamington area with a view to beginning work there. He chose the Sangara plateau as his centre and, after a year, had a Church and school built. Both were well used. He came from New South Wales.

Died: 12 August 1942 Buna Beach, below Sangara Mission Station - beheaded by the Japanese

Miss Lilla LASHMAR from Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Lilla LASHMAR of New Guinea Missionary Martyr

Miss Lilla Lashmar, Mission Teacher at Sangara, who was from Adelaide.

Lilla LASHMAR of New Guinea, Missionary Martyr - ABM Anglican

Name: Lilla Filmer LASHMAR
Born: 10 August 1895 Antechamber Bay, Kangaroo Island, Yankalilla District, South Australia
Father: 'Harry' Harold LASHMAR
Mother: Frances Ann Ladd BUICK
Cultural Influence:
Christianity: Anglican
Death: 28 August 1942 Buna Beach PNG [OR 2 September 1942 Sangara, New Guinea]

FROM: SA MEMORY The State Library of South Australia


"Lilla Lashmar of Sangara, who in her last letter to her mother a short time before the invasion, writing of the uncertainties of life then, said, 'I only want to be a good soldier of Jesus Christ'.' The Story of the New Guinea Martyrs by Revd. E. C. Rowland

Lilla Lashmar, from Kangaroo Island, volunteered for work with the Australian Board of Missions and, after training in Sydney, travelled to New Guinea in December 1929. For 12 years Lilla taught and worked at various mission stations. Adelaide girl, Sister May Hayman, joined the mission in 1936 and became engaged to a missionary priest. In 1941 war was declared in the Pacific, and the Japanese invaded New Guinea. Bishop Philip Strong and his staff made the decision not to evacuate, but to remain with the local people. Tragically, this resulted in the execution of Lashmar and Hayman, along with priests and other mission workers including a small boy, by the Japanese on the beach at Buna in August 1942. More killings of clergymen and workers followed. To this day, the Australian Anglican Church commemorates the New Guinea Martyrs every year on 2 September.

Miss Mavis Doreen PARKINSON. from Ipswich, Queensland

Miss Mavis Doreen PARKINSON

Born: 1916 in Ipswich, Queensland, Australia

Father: William Bretherton PARKINSON (born 1885 Liverpool, England – 1951 Qld)
Mother: Eileen Massey nee ROBINSON (born 1895 Qld – 1962 Qld)

Education: Ipswich & Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Occupation: 1937 Clerk

Missionary Service:

Death (by beheading): 28 August 1942 in Buna Beach, Gona, Papua, PNG

Memorial: Bamboo Crosses of Japanese Penitence

Memorial Window

Legacy: The Mavis Parkinson Prize

The Revd. Vivian Frederick Barnes REDLICH

The Revd. Vivian Frederick Barnes REDLICH

Born: 9 January 1905 in Pietermaritzberg, Natal, Northern Provinz, Suid Afrika

Father: Reverend Canon Edwin Basil REDLICH (1878 – 1960) born: Ceylon, British India; died: Market Harborough, Leicestershire, England
Mother: Matilda LeMAITRE (1875 – 1927) born: St. Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands Died: Leicestershire, England

Cultural Influence: British India (Ceylon), Channel Island, Leicestershire English, Colonial South Africa & Queensland, Australia

Emigration to Australia:

Death: 12 August 1942 in Buna beach, Gona, from Sangara Anglican Mission, Sangara, Papua- New Guinea


Redlich's Legacy:


Lucian Tapiedi, Papuan Teacher-Evangelist at Sangara (from Taupota). He trained at St. Aidan's College, Dogura.










Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown, Bishop of Malaita, Church of Melanesia, 2006



This "meditation" by Padre Bell will perhaps be read with greater interest and understanding if introduced by a brief sketch of the background of the events described.

The Japanese decision for war on December 7th, 1941, meant that New Guinea and Australia would soon be in the line of attack. The civilian population of the island territories was evacuated promptly, but contrary to general belief, and some public statements, no order was issued for the evacuation of missionaries. The missionaries were convinced that their voluntary departure would be inconsistent with their duty, and decided to stay. One of them wrote to his father: "If I don't come out of it, just rest content that I tried to do my job faithfully."

The Japanese captured Rabaul on January 23rd, 1942. The danger to Australia increased and speculation arose as to enemy designs on Port Moresby. On July 22nd the Japanese landed at Gona on the N.E. coast of Papua, where an Anglican Mission Station and Hospital were established. The Mission personnel consisted of the Rev. James Benson, Sister May Hayman and Miss Mavis Parkinson, and when the invaders approached they sought safety inland. The two women were captured and killed by the Japanese about September 1st; the bodies were exhumed and given Christian burial in February, 1943. The Rev. James Benson was taken prisoner and after three years has been found alive.

[4] At Sangara, thirty miles inland from Gona, the Rev. Vivian Redlich was stationed; with him were a mission nurse, Sister Margery Brenchley, and a teacher, Miss Lilla Lashmar. About eight miles further on at Isivita were the Rev. Henry Holland and Mr. John Duffill. Late in July, heathen and unfriendly natives, led by a notorious criminal, who believed the white man's day was over, made known to the Japanese the whereabouts of the missionaries. All five were captured, taken to Buna, and were beheaded on the beach. The facts were gathered first from entries in Japanese diaries found on dead soldiers and verified later by an official investigation. The natives responsible for the betrayal were apprehended and five were sentenced to death. They confessed to the Rev. R. L. Newman, who attended them at their execution, that the sentence was a just one and that they deserved to die.

There will always be a body of opinion which contends that the military authorities or the Bishop of New Guinea should have removed the women earlier to a place of safety. But whatever the point of view there can be little doubt that the Church is the richer for their example and their sacrifice.


[5] Among the Ruins.

Upon his return from a brief visit to Australia, the Bishop of New Guinea expressed the desire that he might be accompanied by a Priest at present serving as a Chaplain, on a visit to the scarred and torn Mission areas at Gona, Buna, Sanananda, Sangara, Isivita, and other places in Northern Papua. As this was the first opportunity that the Bishop had had to enter upon this pilgrimage, it was with some trepidation that the offer was accepted. Subsequent events showed that a refusal would have been a sin against the Holy Ghost. Without a doubt God required an eye-witness, that the things seen should be made known to those not granted a like privilege, and that one being himself inspired, might inspire others.

Many years ago the writer learned a great truth. He had visited an art gallery and was entranced with the beauty of a great picture. Later, when an attempt was made to describe the beauty, it was apparent that his hearers were not moved by the description. After the first disappointment had passed, it was realised that the picture was still beautiful and what was really wrong was that the description of it was wholly inadequate. In writing this account of the Bishop's pilgrimage the writer is conscious of the same possibility. He writes, however, with a prayer on his lips, that the written word may not fail, and that this may be read more as a meditation than as a missionary article, or propaganda, or as something to tickle the ears of the sentimental who have accepted the angelic description of the Fuzzy-Wuzzy inhabitants of this region, and may not realise that they, too, are human and that their humanity is as ours with [5/6] mixed elements that make for glory and for shame. To err is human and to forgive divine; so, too, is there divinity in seeking to be forgiven, applying as it does to white and to brown.

Glory and Shame.

Our journey by air, sea and land transport and on foot took us first to Eroro, where we saw the Church of St. Chad, one of the few remaining mission churches left standing on the island. For nine years the Rev. R. L. Newman had worked in this area uninterruptedly, until the invader compelled a temporary retirement. This enforced absence was a time of testing to those befriended by the Mission staff. As is to be expected, some willingly received gifts from the invader of the household effects, and it is to be admitted that some even took to themselves things not theirs, but the mixture of human elements showed up many good qualities. One man took Mr. Newman and his wife and hid them in the hills, feeding them by night and watching for the approach of the enemy by day. Villagers took it in turns to watch and to serve. Another rescued money and a case of much-coveted trade tobacco and faithfully returned them at an opportune time. It was thus that Jeremiah by name showed his devotion in a remarkable way. We found Austin in his village busily engaged in the building of a new house. When asked why he built another house, having a perfectly good one near by, we were amazed to find that he did this to house the few remaining material possessions that he was keeping in trust for Mr. Newman when he would return to be able to set up his centre once again. In the next village, Pongani, we met a man, who shall be nameless, who took the brass off the Church Altar and gave it with his own hands to the invaders that he might ingratiate himself with them. This man's sin was not to [6/7] be found in his son, for the son came day by day to the cave where the missionary and his wife had taken up their quarters, and acted as cook-boy, guide, friend and scout even when the enemy were near at hand. In another village we met Terence and his wife Zoe, faithful teachers, and we noted the outward signs of character which told of the vision of Christ that had been vouchsafed them.

In the evenings we held services for the men in native labour camps, and it was amazing how they responded and sang without books and without prompting, it being evident that their training had been well done and well received. In the mornings we gave the Sacrament wherever we were, and many times this was the first opportunity the natives had had of partaking thereof since the invasion. Standing one morning on a hilltop with the Altar framed with trees and the hills beyond forming a natural reredos, one was struck by the solemnity of the service and the devotion of the server, Adelbert by name. Never had the modern Luke witnessed such devotional precision, though he had formerly taken great pride in training servers in his former parishes.

Here we met Vincent and his wife, Clarissa (Ambasi teachers), who had faithfully lived in the heart of the enemy country during the invasion, coming for fresh instructions from their Bishop and going forth with his blessing. There were 250 present at the service and 140 knelt with bowed heads and crossed hands to cradle again the Body of their Lord in order that, receiving comfort and strength, they might go and labour with those same hands in constructional works, not only for their king but also for their God in the great cause they had entered upon in their campaign against the evil one.

[8] Genuine joy.

When evening was come we entered into a boat and passed on to a place where a touching scene was enacted. Anchoring some 400 yards from the shore, we experienced difficulty in getting to the land, due to the heavy seas that interfered with our plans. A native canoe was seen passing some 150 or so yards out to sea. The Bishop stood on the rails of the boat and called to the natives to come closer. They asked and stated at one and the same time: "What you want?" "We go!" His Lordship called to them in their own language, and all that the eye-witness could catch was, "The Bishop is here!" Such a transformation as took place was beyond the understanding of all aboard. At once the canoe seemed to stop in its path and the natives stood as one man, and then came what seemed like a plaintive cry of mingled joy and holy amazement, which was taken up by the waves of the sea, making as it were a mystic song having as its theme, "Bishop! Bishop!" Quickly the tiny canoe came nearer and the former fear was turned into rapid action so that before the proverbial Jack Robinson could be uttered these people were holding the hands of the Bishop and giving their salutation as they kissed the tips of his fingers. We did not need shore help to complete our landing, for had it been permitted to them we would have been carried ashore. Their words and their actions seemed to bring life to a crowd of other natives on the shore, and we were greeted with such a joyful shout that all the soldiers within half-a-mile came to see who it was that could strike such a note of joy, and who it was that deserved such a welcome.

Setting out to walk to a nearby village where a native priest, John Livingstone, had held the fort, we were impeded by marshy lands, and once again a native canoe came to our assistance. We waited till the canoe went [8/9] to the village and came again with the sick man lying on a mat laid upon the miniature deck. He had his wife by his side and she held an old sunshade to shield him from the sun. This was the native priest who had carried on the work of the Church when no white man could have possibly stayed to direct his labours. He laboriously climbed down into the water and immediately knelt at the feet of the Bishop, and after the usual salutation, gave an account of his labours while his wife, Veronica, lovingly gazed upon the Bishop and drank to the full the joy of his return. At the water's edge we engaged in prayer, and all departed with the blessing of the Bishop whose hands laid upon individual heads including all, amongst whom was Harry, an old South Sea Islander, who, though his body had carried him for many years, had also been the constant support of the frail priest in his ministrations.

The Station Cross.

We walked along the beach to Gona, where the station Cross pointed up to the heavens as a witness to the sacrifice not only of the missionaries, but also of the Australians and the Americans who gave their lives near and around that spot that the invaders might be thrust out into the sea. Amongst the charred remains of the Church of God and the attendant mission building this Cross could be seen a mile away, and had inspired our men to go on and drink as our Lord had done the cup of suffering, and of sacrifice, being faithful even unto death. What seemed like bullet wounds in the Cross now seemed to effuse a blood-like substance, a corrosion of metal no doubt, but yet so realistic and so full of symbolism. Nearby was growing a beautiful orange hibiscus bush, and upon it the large flowers which told of life in place of death, and this graveyard gave way to a vision of the Resurrected Christ, and ears attuned formerly to earthly things seemed now to hear [9/10] an old song given a new meaning. It was as though the stones and the wood and the twisted iron re-echoed the Easter hymns that had so often been sung in the church which had stood nearby. Here the Rev. James Benson had laboured with Sister May Hayman and Miss Mavis Parkinson. Surely God was in this place and these three, along with many others, had reflected His love into the hearts of these responsive people.

A Holy Place.

Evidence of this being a holy place was found very soon. At four o'clock that afternoon we met two boys one going to villages to the south and the other to villages to the north. From a distance of some fifty yards they recognised their spiritual father after an absence of twelve months. The haste with which they drew near showed the reality of their welcome and something of the result of the labours of those who had willingly laid down their lives. To those two boys a commission was given: "Go and tell the people your Bishop is here, and he will celebrate the Sacrament at 6.30 to-morrow morning near the Station Cross." When they had gone, the eye-witness asked, "Is that enough?" The satisfied smile that came from the Bishop spoke of hidden powers of attraction. Next morning 250 natives were gathered round the Cross, and over 200 knelt on the spot where once the Communion rails had stood; but first a party of them cleared away the grass that had encroached. Such a service would have been impossible in Australia, and was only possible here because of the vast amount of preparatory work that had been done in, and around this holy place.

Once again the stones and the wood and the twisted iron cried out in unison with native voices, and the result was a triumphant cry to Heaven, and once again a vision of things to come obscured the ruins that lay [10/11] around. Horace and Godfrey (teachers) with Hannah and Josephine, their respective wives, were taking the part of leaders serving at the Altar and showing above all things the link which joined the Native Church to the Church Universal While such men and women are permitted to labour, the hiatus will be bridged and the missionaries who follow on in this place will be able to start their re-building, truly with difficulty, but with difficulties made less by the teachings of the past and the faithfulness of native workers.

We heard here of the Station Log that had been mutilated in the battle, parts of which were said to be in the possession of soldiers nearby. Through the kindness of an Australian captain, two of these parts were recovered, and though sadly depleted, we were able to take possession of a document that alone remained of the records of the work of God in this area. We again took ship to another centre. Our ship was a barge with an outboard motor, which broke down away out to sea, and we had perforce to apply two small oars to propel a fairly large craft. It is enough to say that we arrived safely.

At the Martyrs' Graves.

Reaching land, we set out again for Sangara. This took almost a whole day. The first thing we saw here was the new graveyard in which were buried the last remains of two faithful and much-loved missionaries, Sister May Hayman and Miss Mavis Parkinson. It belongs to another to recite an account of their work in the name of the Lord--it is for me to attempt only to portray the immediate happenings. No sooner had the Bishop set his feet upon the ground than, with hat removed and the sorrow of his heart fully revealed in his face and posture, he made his way to the graves and there prostrated as before an Altar, his inmost soul [11/12] laid bare before his God. Such a moment is not to be told in words of earthly origin, but all present found themselves soon upon their knees, even the driver of the American vehicle whose background in spiritual matters is not known. The silence was barely broken till Even-song was said, joined in by natives who had gathered at the approach of their Bishop. Three Australian signallers and a native, named Christian, who were present at the burial, took part in these and following services. Once more the Prophet was in evidence, for the Cross, standing within the graveyard, taken as it was from living trees, had also budded and betokened the certainty of the Rising again. Christian had played an important part in the recovery of the missionaries' bodies, and his faithfulness cannot be over-emphasized.

Next morning, many villages had sent their whole remaining populations to attend the Requiem. Here again was evident the thoroughness of the training of these people. From the improvised church the procession of the Bishop and the people wended its way to the graveside, and the graves were blessed and the Anglican Burial Service read. There were no tears in the eyes of the natives but many lips were quivering.


The service was over and the Bishop had disrobed. A small boy had attached himself to the eye-witness, and in conversation that was somewhat limited, one word kept repeating itself, and that word was "Lucian." The little chappie was trying to convey something which to his mind was important, and then the name "Lucian" came again. As in a sudden burst of inspiration it all came out. Lucian was buried here also. Now Lucian was the teacher who had given his life in the defence of two of the sisters; he had actually used his frail body as an instrument of defence, and, unbeknown to the [12/13] pilgrims, was buried here also. One week before, his body had been found, and the faithful man whose name was Christian had seen to it that he should find a resting place in the mission grounds. Upon investigation, it was discovered that his body lay just outside the other graveyard, separated by a small railing and only a few feet away. Such an one could not he outside the fence. And what of his ground as yet unblessed? Another service was held, and soon the railings were taken down, and now that area which is fenced comprises the resting place of three martyrs where before it only contained two. Such is the Church in these lands. It produces its own martyrs, and these he side by side with martyrs from other shores. White and brown are gathered into God's Kingdom, for in each was sown the seeds of love and willing service. Therefore white and brown will be together in Paradise. No doubt from that moment there were fresh strains of rejoicing amongst the Angels of God, and Lucian himself must be comforted by the simple gesture of the enlargement of the enclosure.

A Modern Via Dolorosa.

On the morrow we walked for three hours along a road that had never seen any other means of transport. If any other means are there used it will be to the destruction of one of God's quiet places, one of the places that have become holy, and which it would be desecration to alter. As we walked along fern gullies and crossed over streams, gently pushing aside the leaves that kissed our shoulders, and listened to the birds in the trees, there was a certain indefinable something that held one spellbound. Slowly but surely the truth made itself evident.

This was a martyr's way. In some real sense a Via Dolorosa. It was the way between two mission stations. Many times in the night Sister Brenchley, of Sangara, [13/14] had travelled this way on an errand of mercy. She had answered the call of the sick. Now, even from her last resting-place, a resting-place not yet located, it would appear that her spirit pervaded the place and her works of mercy had sanctified it into a way of peace. Asked if there had been much sickness there during the time of loss, this man had answered: "Many had died of dysentery," and then added without embarrassment "If Miss Brenchley had been there they would not have died." That is why the road had become a place of beauty. This is not all, for it was later learned that the two who lay beside Lucian had walked that road in the time of their forced march. What we have learned of their high morale, their philosophical acceptance of the dangers in their way, their readiness to remain with those whom they loved, their devotion and sacrifice, their sacrificial obedience to their Christ-formed ideals even unto death, soon convinced us that there was no need to look elsewhere for the reason of the song that was in the way and the joy of the journey. There could be no weariness with such companions walking along the modern Via Dolorosa, for it was in perfect harmony with the walk in Jerusalem entered upon by the writer only a few short months before.

An Account of a Stewardship.

Now such a road must lead somewhere and to something worthwhile. It was to the village of Isivita, where the Rev. Henry Holland had laboured so lovingly for 42 years. That in itself was a goal, but it led also to the knowledge of his sacrifice, for he, too, had been called upon to lay down his life, and on the morrow we were to have evidence of it. The first was the account of the stewardship of one whom Mr. Holland had left in charge when he had gone away, not for his own safety, but so that his capture might not involve his children in [14/15] Christ. Amongst his last injunctions to Andrew, a teacher, Mr. Holland had said: "The mission storeroom is fairly full; I place it in your charge I make no reservations, do what you think best with it. If need be, give it away; but, above all, it must not fall into the hands of the evil one." After he had died, Andrew found it necessary to give some of those stores to assist hungry people. This he did. But many things were sold to the villagers. On this the day of the Bishop's return, we witnessed a very solemn rendering of an account. No time was so fitting for the handing over as in the Eucharist itself. It was indeed a grand sight to see Andrew standing before the improvised Altar of God, backed up by the whole village, with a notebook of his accounts in one hand and a not-too-clean white calico bag in the other hand, in which was found the money from his sale of mission goods which but for his faithfulness would have gone the way of all other things, in loot. His handing-over speech was to the effect that here was a little at least to start again the work of God in that area. As it was accepted and blessed before the Altar, it was surely a reminder of the barley loaves and few small fishes which, being blessed, fed so many. Then this road of the martyrs leads to something more. Here we pause in our meditation to realise once again that humanity is of glory and of shame. Alongside this faithfulness we learned of some who had forgotten the things they had been taught. It is not for us to blame them or to cast the first stone, for many things that had happened had led them to believe that the white man would not come again into their midst. Then, like the children they are, some had taken that which was not their own, others had destroyed what were to them valueless things, but to the Mission things of tremendous value. It was a case of sheer wilfulness.

[16] A Solemn Moment.

And here another side of the work of missionaries became evident. These people were to be told of their wrong-doings, and some indication of their future intentions was to be sought. To this end a Council was held near the ruined mission house. For fifteen minutes the Bishop patiently told them of the labours of Mr. Holland, of Sister Brenchley and Miss Lashmar, and of others, how they had given their all for them. They were asked if their conduct was in keeping with the love and service rendered. Did they realise that they had destroyed manuscripts of the Bible and Prayer Book in their native tongue which Mr. Holland had worked upon for so many years, and which now, when almost completed, were lost for ever? There was silence in the camp and the sober faces of the nine Village Councillors, representing as they did the various villages, showed that this was a solemn moment, needing much thought and not to be lightly disposed of. After at least ten minutes of silence one man rose and, in a way only to be described as a ceremonial act, stepped forward and said, "I speak." Certainly the silence was broken, and though his tongue was foreign there was no mistaking his intention and the meaning of his words. Soon a pile of coconuts had been thrown to the winds of heaven, and by some mysterious agency, later found to be his hands, had returned again to their original pile. The repetition of this gave a graphic description of the destruction that had taken place. "Very good talk," said the Bishop, "but not enough." After another silence a second speaker arose, and his speech was short but to the point. His very attitude showed what he was about to say, and even if he had not spoken his meaning would have been clear. His whole form seemed to have shrunk, his head hung low, and his face was a picture of dejection. The words came out slowly but full of meaning, for it was indeed a confession. [16/17] "We are ashamed," he said. Then, his talk being finished, he sat down. Here was a baring of the soul not often seen elsewhere where man is inclined to hide his true feeling. The Council was over, for the Bishop had gained his point. There was no need to press the lesson home and tell these people it was not enough to be sorry, for they were more than sorry, they were repentant, and, without asking for it, there had come the assurance that they would do better. Those mistakes would not be repeated.

And what of us White Christians?

But we cannot stop at this point. Although it was not necessary to press that point home to the natives, can we say the same for ourselves? That morning we made a search of that war-stricken area. As we entered the mission house the sun shone through the bullet-holes in the roof, and one had to walk into piles of torn-up papers and step over ruins on the floor. One can never forget the picture of the Bishop sitting down on the floor amongst all this torn-up treasure, looking hungrily for some bits of papers that would be worth saving, so that the whole of Mr. Holland's work might not be lost Some few things were retrieved, including one paper that draws us all into this confession made by a simple native that day. This paper was a letter dated April 14th, 1934, and signed by Bishop Newton who was then Bishop of New Guinea. The letter must be read in full.

Samarai, Papua.

My dear Holland,

A.B.M. has not increased our grant. It remains at £8,400 for the year. I asked for £9,100. So we have to cut our expenses by the difference. I am hoping the money from England will be more than I allowed for, namely, £300. The hope rests on the work Mr. Rodger is doing in the way of deputations. We have to remember that we have spent more [17/18] than our income for the last two years, and the only things we have to square that are our Launch Reserve Fund and the value of the "Maclaren-King." By reducing station expenses by the amount I have to suggest we shall save about £430 of the £700 increase which the A.B.M. did not give us. Our economies and perhaps more money from England may make it possible to balance our budget this year. I am sorry to have to ask you to be specially economical, but we must do that or find some more drastic way--give up the "Maclaren-King" or close stations. Either would be too dreadful to contemplate. Allowance for Isivita I have put down at £216 for 1943.


The reading of this letter caused shudders to run round and up and down one's spine. It was a most uncomfortable feeling. Like a flash its true meaning was evident. A former conversation with the Bishop elicited this information. For years the Mission had desired to expand. The area of intended expansion was one through which we had passed a few days before. This was the area where unfriendly natives had betrayed our brothers and sisters-the Rev. Henry Holland, the Rev. Vivian Redlich, Mr. John Duffill, Sister Brenchley, and Miss Lashmar. This had been the cause of their being handed over to the Japs. It was then realised that had this area been opened up these servants of God might not have died. The reading of this letter drove it further towards home. The only reason that the A.B.M. had not given the full amount of grant asked for was that they themselves had not received it from us, who in the homeland had not fulfilled our obligations to those working in the field. By the lack of financial support we had thrust a cheese-paring policy upon the Mission and they had not been able to expand. Now, had the financial support been given the areas mentioned would have been opened and perhaps those missionaries would not have died. Then let us also gather together in a Council. What have we to say for ourselves? Are we prepared to speak in three words [18/19] words that are soul-revealing, words that speak of contrition, words that set forth the desire to amend, words spoken by that simple native man, "We are ashamed"? Here is the challenge. What is our answer? "Deeds alone," said the Bishop to these people when they were gathered together, "deeds alone will tell in the future just what your shame means." No other words can be spoken to us. It is in the future that we will answer this question, and the future alone will show how to wipe out our shame.

Only one other incident is to be here recorded. A few days later we stopped at a Native Labour Camp and the Bishop celebrated the Sacred Mysteries, this being the first opportunity these people had had of partaking thereof for nearly twelve months. It so happened that amongst those standing nearby, not Christians, were some boys from the villages that have been described as the areas of intended missionary expansion.

These boys were very curious, but were somewhat shy in their approach. The Bishop told them their village would be hard put to in wiping out this blot upon their family tree. As is to be expected, they were inclined to be sullen. Just then, as the Bishop raised his arm to emphasize a point, a snake dropped from the tree above and coiled itself around the arm of the Bishop. The native boys ran quickly away from what must have appeared to them as the wrath of God, for as the snake tightened its coils the arm of the Bishop flexed and his hand came round almost to the head of the snake. The snake, however, must have got a fright, for it loosened its coils and sprang away from the Bishop and into the midst of the group of villagers mentioned. As in the days of St. Paul, they looked for him to fall down dead, but they themselves had to flee.

[20] Let us, in closing our meditation, remember that humanity is indeed made up of elements that make for glory and for shame, and though much glory has been added to our God in the work already done, it behoves us all to do what we can to continue to blot out things that make for shame.

[22] A Second Chance
The Bishop, during the visit in May, 1943, recorded by Padre Bell, had entrusted to Vernon the task of trying to restart the work of the mission at Sangara until he was able to send a white missionary to take up residence there. Vernon is a Papuan teacher who has grown old in His Master's service. He is an albino and a picturesque and impressive figure. Before the war together with Andrew he had been working at Isivita under the Rev. Henry Holland, and, although some 250 miles from his home at Boianai and virtually in a "foreign" land, he had remained in the district throughout the war, faithfully witnessing to his Christian faith among people who might at any time have turned against him under the influence of the Japanese.

From Among the Ruins.
In December, 1943, the Bishop again paid a surprise visit to Sangara. On arrival at the station he was greatly surprised to find a new Church of native materials standing on the site of the former Church of St. James, which had been completely destroyed by incendiary bombs. In the brief interval of six months Vernon had rallied the people together and had started school with some two hundred or more children. Although all material had been destroyed during the war, the people had managed to improvise blackboards and slates. It was a great achievement also to have rebuilt the Church when so many of the [22/23] young men were still away from their villages on military work. Vernon was standing at the door of the building when the Bishop unexpectedly arrived, and there were people with him who been attending Evensong. The Bishop was delighted to find the Church again in action at Sangara, and Vernon proudly took him into the building to show him their work. The Church was not yet complete, and it entirely lacked furniture except for the font of beaten copper made by the Rev. Vivian Redlich shortly before the invasion, which had survived the destruction of the old church and remained as a memorial to this martyr priest of Sangara who stayed with his people to the last. The new Church had been built just like the old with one difference which the Bishop was quick to note. That was the addition of two lattice windows placed at the east end, one each side of the place where the altar would eventually stand. The Bishop inquired from Vernon the reason for this innovation, and he was told that the people had desired to have something which would remind them of their two mission sisters, Margery Brenchley and Lilla Lashmar, and so they had placed here the two windows from the bombed and derelict mission house through which each of them had seen the sun shining into her room every morning, a symbol of the light of the Gospel, which they had brought to the Sangara people.

The Bishop felt it was of great importance to have a white missionary at Sangara at the earliest possible moment to guide and encourage the native teachers and to rally the people together again, not only there, but also in the Isivita and Gona districts. In the middle of 1944 the Rev. Dennis Taylor responded to his call and left Wanigela where he had been in charge for some years. It was not small sacrifice for him to leave a station where he had been so happy, and which, until the war, had been also a home for his wife [23/24] and child, and to take up residence at Sangara where there was no mission house and where he would have to build a shelter for himself of native materials. He threw himself into the work, and had soon established a series of out-stations throughout the war-scarred area. His going to Sangara brought new hope and inspiration both to the teachers and the people, and to-day there are in that northern area, over which the Papuan campaign was fought, more out-stations and native teachers than in any other of the mission districts, while there are over 2,000 children attending mission schools.

Back to Gona.
In the early months of 1945 the Bishop was able again to visit these scenes of battle and martyrdom where the work of the Church is making such rapid strides. The Rev. D. J. Taylor thus describes his visit to Gona.

"The people of Gona had been keeping a lookout for the Bishop, and by the time the barge beached they were there in their hundreds to greet him. They have built a new station so that now there are two within five miles, one on each side of the devastated Gona Station, the one at Gona village and the other at Garata. A great feature of the work at Gona and Garata is that the women have taken a lead and have a very strong branch of St. Mary's Guild (the Papuan Mothers' Union) and have been holding regular meetings during the war years. It was to the new Gona Station that the Bishop had come, chiefly with the intention of dedicating the church, built by natives without any European assistance. Very great care had been taken, and it was obviously a labour of love. Some soldiers had given them a cross and six candlesticks made from used shell cases, and the teachers had made a very nice altar, a replica of the one that the Rev. James Benson had made for the old Gona Church. Soon after [24/25] our arrival we went into the church for Evensong and preparation for the morrow's sacrament, and the building was packed to capacity. Later when the moon rose over the sea there was a general meeting of the people held on the beach under the palms. At this meeting the Bishop took the opportunity of delivering to the people of Gona a message from the King in reply to one that they had sent to him during the 1941 Blitz on London. All rose and sang the National Anthem. The Bishop then asked if it was their desire to rebuild the old Mission Station, and the meeting was unanimous in asserting that the old station must be rebuilt. Several men made speeches in which they stressed the importance of the Mission and their desire to build up the work among their people. Before the close of the meeting, representatives from the various villages of this part of the coast presented bags of money to the Bishop to be used in the rebuilding of their old station. Over £50 was donated. The dedication service took place in the early morning sunshine. The Bishop and people processed round the church and to the teachers' houses and the school which in turn were blessed. After the full dedication the Bishop celebrated and there were over a hundred communicants."

A Memorable Conference.
A few days later the Bishop reached Sangara where a conference of teachers, village Christians and others was held.

"At the beginning the Bishop paid a tribute to the faithful missionaries and others who had remained at their posts and had given their lives in the service of Christ, and also to the native clergy and teachers who [25/26] remained faithful during the time of crisis and after. An outstanding speech was made by Barnabas, a Sangara man, who said that the people of Sangara had got a bad name as a result of the fate that had befallen their missionaries. He said that they were not altogether to blame as most of the men of Sangara were in hospital at the time of the invasion, and as soon as they heard of the coming of the Japs they were very frightened and went into the bush. He said that they had done no actual harm to their missionaries, but at the same time they had done nothing to assist them, and therefore they must share their part of the blame and bear their guilt. It was now for the people to do all in their power to build up the work of the Church in that district. There were several other speeches of this nature, until finally Vernon came forward weighed down with a bag of money, which he gave to the Bishop in the name of the Sangara people and said that it was their wish that two stained glass windows should be obtained for their church in memory of their sisters who had died for them. There was £72 in the bag. Andrew then came forward with a similar request on behalf of his Isivita people and asked for a window for their church in memory of the Rev. Henry Holland. They gave £40 for this purpose. The meeting was then closed with prayer. No sooner had it closed than a number of village councillors who had been waiting nearby came and presented several sums of money and asked the Bishop to open schools in their villages. They represented three groups of villages. One of the groups had been concerned in the betrayal of the sisters from Gona, May Hayman and Mavis Parkinson. These men said that when the Japanese had come they had done wrong because they had not learned the Christian way of life, but they were anxious now to learn. In all cases the Bishop promised that if they cleared ground and built a house for the teacher, and a school, and undertook to feed the teacher [26/27] he would send one as soon as he possibly could. (This has now been done and men have come forward and offered their services as teachers and evangelists for this work.) In all, over £150 was taken up at this meeting. The atmosphere was most moving and it was a most encouraging and reassuring witness of the love of these people for their Mission and Church. It has removed any doubts we may have had of their faith in this time of persecution."

That the people in the area of betrayal should come again and ask for the Gospel as they had asked for it years before is a humbling example of how God is giving His Church in Australia a second chance, as well as being a witness that the sacrifice of our missionaries has not been in vain, but that once again, "the blood of the martyrs is becoming the seed of the Church."


The New Guinea Martyrs of 1942

FROM - Project Canterbury

The Good Shepherd

Bishop Strong and the New Guinea Martyrs

Being a Sermon Preached in Commemoration of the Martyrs of New Guinea

By the Most Reverend Sir Philip Strong KBE CMG CStJ DD MA ThD - formerly Primate of Australia and Bishop of New Guinea 1936-1962

At the Parish of Saint Peter, Melbourne

On the Festival of the New Guinea Martyrs 2 September 1981.

Published at Melbourne by St Peter's Bookroom, 1983.

Reproduced with Permission of the Rector of Saint Peter's Church, Eastern Hill, Melbourne, Australia.


On New Guinea Martyr's Day, 1981, Archbishop Sir Philip Strong, former Primate of Australia and Bishop of New Guinea from 1936 to 1962, preached at St Peter's Eastern Hill. The basis of his sermon was the story detailed in the magnificent stained-glass window in the north transept of St Peter's, a window commemorating the New Guinea Mission and the martyrs of 1942. A much younger Bishop Strong had been present thirrty-five years earlier when the window was unveiled, its dedication being the focus of the celebrations of the centenary of the parish in 1946. It seemed appropriate that the parish should mark its centenary by highlighting its links with the missionary Church in New Guinea. Similarly, it seems appropriate that the Archbishop's moving and evocative sermon on the story of the window should be printed here as a tribute to Philip Strong, Bishop and Confessor, obiit 6 July 1983. It is presented as a memorial to the devoted life and leadership of this great Churchman.

John Bayton

An Introductory Note

On St Laurence's Day, 10 August 1891, Albert Maclaren and Copland King landed on the beach below Dogura and set up the first Christian Church on the former battle ground of the tribes of that district. Eight years later Annie Kerr of St Peter's Eastern Hill went to join the New Guinea Mission, and the parish has been actively associated with the Church in New Guinea ever since.

In January 1937, on the way to his new diocese, Bishop Philip Strong met Father Farnham Maynard at St Peter's Vicarage. On board the ship that brought him to Australia his daily mass had been served by members of the Dean family, parishioners at St Peter's. Father Maynard journeyed to Dogura two years late; in 1939, for the consecration of the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul and to conduct a retreat for the diocesan clergy. Then war came, and in 1%I the Japanese invaded New Guinea. There are few incidents in our times more thrilling, or more humbling, than the decision of the bishop and his staff to remain at their posts; they had every opportunity to leave, but those to stay in order to minister to the people they had been called to serve.

In 1945 St Peter's Eastern Hill decided to mark the centenary of the parish the following year by erecting a window in the north transept in honour of the New Guinea Mission and in commemoration of the priests, lay missionaries and Papuans martyred in 1942. Canon Maynard commissioned Napier Wailer to execute this window, which was subsequently matched by a War Memorial window in the south transept, carried out at the same time that Wailer was working on the War Memorial in Canberra. Napier Waller [vii/viii] had established himself as one of the finest artists in stained glass in Australia, and the windows at St Peter's rank amongst his best work.

Canon Maynard and Wailer worked closely together in developing the concepts that Wailer brought to life so brilliantly. The result of their collaboration is seen not only in the overall conception of each window, but also in the careful attention to detail. Nor is this surprising, for the centenary memorial window represented places and events with which the parish had dose associations, and people whom Canon Maynard knew well and loved dearly. There was Archbishop William Wand of Brisbane, later Bishop of London, to whom Canon Maynard wrote in 1946 to admit that 'I have been responsible for putting you into a stained glass window'. There was Archdeacon Romney Gill, with whom Maynard corresponded over many years about the preparation of local Papuan liturgies. There was Bishop Strong. There, too, in the window Wailer included the unmistakable figure of Canon Maynard himself, taking his place in the procession at the consecration of the Cathedral.

The window was dedicated by the Archbishop of Melbourne on Sunday, 27 October 1946. Some years late; in 1963, the window was damaged by fire but, fortunately, it was able to be repaired by the artist from the original cartoons, shortly before his death.

Bishop Strong himself attended the dedication of the window and took part in the parish's centenary celebrations. Beforehand he had written to Canon Maynard:

I feel it will be such a privilege to be with you at St Peter's on such an historic occasion and one so intimately concerned with New Guinea and linking us together so closely . . I appreciate very much your kindness and the honour you have done me in asking me to share in. St Peter's Centenary celebrations, and the way in which you are linking it up with the work of the Church in New Guinea and with our Martyrs. I greatly look forward to seeing the window. It will be lovely having the permanent witness.

[ix] The other permanent witness about which Bishop Strong and Canon Maynard corresponded at the end of the war was the establishment of an appropriate annual commemoration of the martyrs. Strong wrote in 1946:

About our Martyrs. I am sorry I have not been able to satisfy your request in time for a commemoration this year, but I wanted this commemoration to come about in the right way, as a request or demand by the Church in the Diocese rather than as an action on my part. I was, therefore, waiting for the first meeting of our Sacred Synod since the War ended. This took place in our Anniversary Week in the Cathedral and, as I anticipated, a request was made to me unanimously by the Clergy in Synod to appoint a day for the annual commemoration of our martyrs and a proper for the same. This I agreed to do, and the decision that our martyrs should have a place in our Calendar was solemnly made. There was a little variation of opinion as to the most suitable date, some thinking the octave of St Laurence the most suitable, but others feeling a liter date better. I have not yet determined the date, but I lean now to a later date than August 17th and I feel with you that September 1st is a suitable time. The notional dates of martyrdom are difficult to determine in - all cases but such evidence as we have seems to indicate that all had passed through their passion before September 1st. I am hoping that it will be a commemoration that will be taken up by the wider Church, and it is good to know that you intend to do so. . . Our official commemoration of the day as an Holy Day will begin next year.

P. N. W. Strong to F. E. Maynard, Papua, 11 September 1946

The Bishop subsequently prepared the propers for the commemoration, and New Guinea Martyrs' Day has been observed at St Peter's since 1948. The commemoration on 2 September is now recognised in the new Calendar for the Anglican Church of Australia as well as in that of the American Church. The Lord is glorious in his martyrs, and in the victory of these twentieth century martyrs the wider Church has been given an example of godly courage and faithfulness.

T. A. Cutler

The Sermon


(St John 10, verse xi)

This is the text which is inscribed at the foot of your centenary window, dedicated in 1946 in memory of the New Guinea Martyrs of 1942. It is appropriate indeed that we should be offering this Holy Eucharist in thanksgiving for them, her; this evening of New Guinea Martyrs' Day. For St Peter's Church was, I think, perhaps the first church in Australia to commemorate the New Guinea Martyrs in this way and to do so in such a permanent manner that it might be a reminder of them for all time.

It was the then Vicar of St Peter's, the much beloved and revered Canon Farnham Maynard, who conceived the idea of erecting in your northern transept this large window of three lights--both to commemorate the centenary of St Peter's Church and the New Guinea Martyrs. Father Maynard, as one of my Australian Commissaries, had a few years before this represented St Peter's Church, and indeed the Church in Victoria and Australia, at the Consecration of the Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul, Dogura, on 29 October 1939. This visit made a deep and indelible impression on him, and he was ever after fired by the fact that though the Church in New Guinea had been largely started and built up by the Church in Australia, yet it was now giving, by its [1/2] witness to the love and power of God, more to the Church in Australia than the Church in Australia had ever given or could ever give to it: and he was all the mote fired with this idea when, less than three years after his visit, that witness had become steeped in the blood of Martyrs. He most graciously invited me to be present when the then Arch bishop of Melbourne, the late Dr Booth, dedicated this window and preached.

Incidentally, my diary records that on my way here to be present I met at Mascot Aerodrome, Sydney, for the first time, a young priest who was just arriving from England. David Hand had been inspired to offer himself for New Guinea on hearing the story of the martyrdom of another young priest, Vivian Redlich. My diary records of that meeting: 'He reminded me of my old Cambridge friend Alec Vidler. His full face also seemed to bear resemblance to the Archbishop of Sydney' (who at that time was Arch bishop Howard Mowll). I went on, 'I was very impressed with him and felt he had been sent to us by God, perhaps maybe the ultimate answer to our needs for the future when I need Episcopal help in my own great responsibilities if this Diocese is enlarged'.

So wonderfully does God work in making the blood of the Martyrs the seed for future life in his Church, that some four years after I first met him, he was consecrated as an Assistant Bishop to me on St Peter's Day in 1950, at Dogura, and as you well know, after some thirteen years, he succeeded me as Bishop of New Guinea in 1963 and was fourteen years later to become the first Archbishop and Primate of a [2/3] Province of Papua New Guinea which, instead of having one Diocese only, has five Dioceses, and he still remains as such.

Now let me speak further about your New Guinea Martyrs memorial window. Forgive me if I speak of much that you may already know, but I rather guess that after thirty-five years from its erection, many in this present generation may have often admired it but not realised and grasped all that is contained in it, and the fullness of the witness that it gives. This big three light window is indeed a great work of art and thought to be one of the most perfect works carried out in Australian coloured glass. The theme of it is an inspiration. It was entirely the conception of Canon Maynard with Napier Wailer as its artist.

The theme represents BEAUTY, TRUTH and GOODNESS--three of the attributes of God himself--and shows these being represented and revealed in the Church in Papua New Guinea. Taking first the left-hand light: the top panel is of a woman missionary among primitive children, holding up a flower revealing God through the beauty of nature. Above the first panel is represented the Holy Spirit coming down as a dove. The next panel immediately below it shows a woman missionary in a primitive mission school--as many of them were in those days--teaching the truth as it is in God. Two of the four martyred women missionaries were teachers.

Mavis Parkinson of the coastal station of Gona was one, and I remember how when I suggested to her some months before her martyrdom that she should be moved to an [3/4] inland station which I thought might perhaps be safer, though it proved later that it would not have been so--how she implored me with tears in her eyes not to do so, saying, 'What will the children do if I go?' And then there was Lilla Lashmar of Sangara, who in her last letter to her mother a short time before the invasion, writing of the uncertainties of life then, said, 'I only want to be a good soldier of Jesus Christ'.

Then the third panel below that is of a missionary nurse in a missionary dispensary building, binding up the sick and revealing God through the works of goodness. Two of our four martyred women missionaries were nurses. Margery Brenchley of Sangara, of whom a young Papuan youth said to me after her death, when he told me of many who had died through an epidemic, 'If Sister Brenchley had been here they would not have died'. And the other was May Hayman of Gona, who a few months before her death had become engaged to Father Vivian Redlich. She, like Mavis Parkinson, had said to me, 'What will the sick do if I move from here?' and on a visit to Gona three months later, and only a month before the Japanese invasion, in addition to her caring for the Papuan sick, I found she was nursing also an American wounded airman who had fallen from the skies and been found in the jungle by Papuans and brought by them to Sister Hayman at Gona Mission Station. He would otherwise have died; she undoubtedly saved his life, so that it could have been said of her, as of her Divine Master to whom she was to be faithful unto death, 'She saved other herself she could not save'.

[5] The bottom panels of each of the three lights portray martyrdom, and the bottom one of that first light shows two women missionary martyrs and the two Papuan martyrs fleeing before the Japanese. We may think of those two women missionaries as representing Mavis and May, often called 'The two Gona Sisters'. I have already given you a glimpse of the confidence I was privileged to share with them which enabled me to see dearly the purity of heart that was in them and the measure to which they counted the cost, and their willingness and readiness to give up all for Christ's sake. When speaking to them of what the Japanese might do to them if they came they simply said 'We are in God's hands, and are ready to suffer for them if he so wills'. I felt humbled indeed after their deaths to realise that I had seen in them the true martyrs' spirit of selfless devotion; and I felt indeed that immediately they had passed through their transient sufferings, terrible though they may have been, by being taunted by their captors and then bayonetted to death over an open grave, their Glory must have been unspeakable. The Church in New Guinea from its earliest days owed so much to its women missionaries--but of that I have not time to speak tonight.

Then we can see depicted in that bottom panel the two Papuan martyrs, Leslie Gariadi and Lucian Tapiedi. Leslie, the faithful helper of Father Henry Matthews who died with him; and Lucian, the loyal and faithful attendant of the Sangara missionaries, who was killed by axes by the heathen people who took the missionaries captive to hand [5/6] them over to the Japanese, when he stood up for them and tried to defend them. Of all our martyrs in Papua, his body and that of the two Gona Sisters alone were recovered, and it is appropriate that white and brown should have been eventually laid side by side in graves at the Sangara Mission Station, even though that was to be eventually devastated in the Mt Lamington eruption of 1951.

Turning now to the middle light of our New Guinea Martyrs memorial window--the top panel shows the glorious Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul, Dogura, and the pro cession led by me, as Bishop, on its way to the Consecration at which your one-time Vicar Father Maynard was present. This symbolises BEAUTY, first revealed through nature, now expressed in the worship of the Catholic Church in that beautiful House of God which gave such inspiration to all of our martyred missionaries when they were assembled there for our Conference in 1941, less than a year before they were to lay down their lives for Christ.

The second middle panel is of the Procession formed outside the Cathedral, and the then Archbishop of Brisbane, the late Dr William Wand (later Bishop of Bath and Wells, then Bishop of London, and then Canon of St Paul's Cathedral, London) seated and hearing the Petition for its Consecration being read out. This symbolises TRUTH expressed now in writings. And the third panel is of the interior of the Cathedral before the High Altar at the time of Communion--a Priest giving communion the GOODNE of God in the Sacraments, clothed in purple vestments because it is through suffering that we enter into [6/7] glory and triumph. Beauty, truth and goodness. And below is the martyrdom of three priests. Actually there are four priests commemorated today, for besides the three working in Papua, Vivian Redlich, Henry Holland and Henry Matthews, there was also John Barge, beheaded by the Japanese in New Britain. He was the only one I did not know personally, for at that time New Britain came under the Diocese of Melanesia, only to be taken over into the Diocese of New Guinea in 1949.

Of the three I knew so intimately, I have already spoken of Vivian Redlich; that happy, youthful, gifted, gallant soul--and yet subject as kindred spirits like him so often are, to depressions. A former Bush Brother in the Rockhampton Diocese who, when his term of service in the Brotherhood was over, decided not to go back home to England whence he had come, but to offer himself for missionary service in New Guinea, and who had joined us only a year or two before he laid down his life for Christ. We rejoice to think that the story of his martyrdom which, as I have already said, inspired David Hand to offer to take his place in New Guinea, is enshrined for all time in the Chapel of Modern Martyrs in St Paul's Cathedral, London.

Then there was dear Henry Holland, one who was aging in the Master's service; simple, sincere and wholly surrendered; living, loving and working only for his Master Jesus Christ; first, and for many years as a lay Apostle of Christ to the peoples of Sangara and Isivita, and then to the great joy of himself and his people, endowed only a few years before he was called to make the supreme sacrifice [7/8] with the gifts of the priesthood, that he might minister sacramentally to those whom he had led to the knowledge of Christ. He had resolved to put a white flag up on his station; thinking in his simplicity that the Japanese would respect that, and he had resolved to stay on his station, and only at the last moment he realised that if he did so the Japanese would not only kill him--he was ready for that--but all his Papuan fellow-workers and their families, and so for their sakes only he left it for the jungle, only later to be beheaded with the other missionaries.

Then there was that faithful servant of God, Henry Matthews, who had been for many years Rector of Port Moresby, and who at the general evacuation at the beginning of the war decided to remain to act as chaplain to the then very young and inexperienced Australian soldiers being rushed up to Port Moresby to defend it and Papua. In the months that followed, though his own home and church were shamefully looted by those very soldiers whom he had stayed to serve, he did most noble and self-sacrificing service and became beloved and admired by all as he went about doing his Master's service. I spent some weeks with him in April 1942 over Holy Week and Easter and witnessed, and was humbled in doing so, his courage, fearlessness and complete disregard of his own personal safety. Great was his grief when the military authorities decreed that as he was well advanced in his sixties, his chaplaincy must cease on 8 August and it was on the previous day, August, the Feast of the Name of Jesus, when he was still a chaplain, that he was killed by machine gun fire when [8/9] travelling by sea to minister to some mixed race peoples in the west of Papua.

Finally I turn to the third light of our window. At the bottom is represented the martyrdom of two other women missionaries and a layman. We can think of these as being the two Sangara Sisters, Lilla Lashmar and Margery Brenchley, and the lay missionary carpenter, John Duflill; all three of whom with Vivian Redlich and Henry Holland were beheaded on the Buna beach and their bodies thrown into the sea and never recovered. Of Margery and Lila I have already spoken--they had for years devoted themselves to the work of the Mission at Sangara, and their refusal and scornful rejection of all suggestions that they might go to safety was typical of their dogged determination and whole hearted acceptance of their vocation as missionaries; and their refusal continued even on the day after the Japanese landing had driven them out of Sangara Mission Station, when an Australian soldier at some risk to himself sought them out in the jungle and offered to take them across the mountains to Port Moresby. The young layman, John Duffill, had only been with us three years, but in that short time had shown a keen desire to ser and devote himself to the work of Christ and his Church, and a conscientious application to each task that had been allotted to him. He had refused to go on furlough when his furlough was due because of the pressure of his work. Had he done so he would not have been with us in those critical days and would not today be numbered among the Martyrs. He was with me in March 1942 when the first enemy attack on the [9/10] north-east coast fell on us, and he manifested at that time a courage to be admired.

With the other three panels in the third light, the theme of Beauty, Truth and Goodness works upwards rather than downwards as with the other two lights. With the third from the top is depicted the destruction of native villages and the sufferings of the native people. It symbolises beauty being destroyed by war and wickedness, as is still happening all over the world today in many spheres and ways; the attempts of the powers of evil to undermine and mar God's handiwork in the life of the Church and of the world.

Then above it there is the panel of reconstruction--a missionary who is meant to represent the late Archdeacon Romney Gill, sitting surrounded by his people with plans drawn for rebuilding. This symbolises Truth being re deemed: that is the constant w of the Church; rebuilding, reconciliation, restoration.

Finally, in the top panel, is a priest offering the Holy Sacrifice clothed in a green chasuble--green, the colour of growth and perserverence--and above him a vision of the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, corning down out of Heaven. This symbolises the vindication of goodness. This vindication with the great and historic truth that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church I saw and felt vividly on my recent visit to Papua New Guinea, just over a month ago for the Consecration of a national, only the third so far, as an Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Aipo Rongo. Bishop Blake Kerina was a schoolboy at Dogura when I first arrived as Bishop of New Guinea in January 1937, over [10/11] 45 years ago: Later I licenced him as a teacher and evangelist, in which he did wonderful work, and at a later date still he was the first Papuan to offer himself to me to go as a missionary with Bishop David Hand to open our missionary work in the north of New Guinea in the Highlands, where he has remained ever since.

As I preached and took part in that Consecration on St Laurence's Day 10 August 1980 in St Laurence's Church, Simbai before a huge crowd of Highland Christians on the nineteenth anniversary of the landing of the first missionaries on the coast of Papua, hundreds of miles away beneath Dogura, I felt indeed the triumph of goodness over all losses, adversities and sufferings. I had felt it too on a visit I paid during the weekend before to Popondetta, that very area where most of our missionaries suffered martyrdom, which at that time when they did so had few if any Christians and was but a smallish native village and is now one of the largest towns in Papua New Guinea. And when I preached to a large congregation in the fine Cathedral of the Resurrection in Popondetta and visited other centres of vital spiritual life in that area, the Christian Training Centre, the newly transferred Theological Seminary, Newton College for the training of future clergy, the Friary of the Society of St Francis at Ururu, the Community House at Hetune of the Papuan Sisterhood of the Visitation, and the large and splendid Martyrs Memorial School for boys at Agenehambo with over 400 boys--all these have undoubtedly sprung out of the death of the Martyrs.

[12] The Good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. Martyrs, like the Good Shepherd, laid down their lives for the sheep because, like him, they cared and loved and were imbued with the spirit of sacrifice which springs out of an unconquerable love, a love which witnesses to God's great attributes of beauty, truth and goodness, even if they have to be attained through much tribulation. As is also inscribed in the window: They knowing full well the risks elected to stay with their flock.

Let me end with the Book of Common Prayer Collect for the seventh Sunday after Trinity, which I learnt by heart as a small boy, having been taught it by my parents, which I think is a prayer for the triumph of beauty, truth and goodness:

who art the author and giver of all good things:
Graft in our hearts the love of thy name,
[beauty again]
increase in us true religion,
nourish us with all goodness,
and of thy great mercy
keep us in the same;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Martyrs of 1942

Margery Brenchley

John Duffill

Leslie Gariadi

May Hayman

Henry Holland--priest

Lilla Lashmar

Henry Matthews--priest

Mavis Parkinson

Vivian Redlich--priest

Lucian Tapiedi

The Proper Collect for the New Guinea Martyrs

O Almighty God, who didst enable thy missionary and Papuan martyrs, in New Guinea, in a day of sore trial and danger, to be faithful to their calling and to glorify thee by their deaths: Grant we humbly beseech thee that, by the witness of these thy martyrs, thy whole Church may be enriched and strengthened for the gathering into thy fold of thy children in all lands; and that we thy servants, following the example of their steadfastness and courage, may labour the more fervently for the coming of thy kingdom, and may so faithfully serve thee here on earth that we may be joined with them hereafter in heaven. Through thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, every one God, world without end. Amen.

(Bishop Philip Strong)


Last words from God's soldiers

By Alan Ramsey

August 13, 2005

Here is an anniversary story to test your compassion. It is not what you might think. Three years ago I wrote, in passing, of the capture by Japanese troops of a group of eight civilians during the invasion of Papua, in late July 1942, that began the iconic Kokoda campaign by desperate Australian defenders. The group included five missionaries, two of them women, and a six-year-old boy. I quoted ABC war correspondent Raymond Paull's celebrated Retreat from Kokoda, published in 1958, to recount what happened to them.

Wrote Paull: "The rapid [Japanese] advance inland [to Kokoda] trapped many Europeans at the hospitals, missions and plantations on the Buna coast [of east Papua]. Few succeeded in eluding the enemy and crossing the [Owen Stanley] mountains to [Port Moresby on] the south coast. Lieut. Louis Austin and an Anglican mission party were betrayed to the Japanese by the natives of Perembata village.

"At Buna, on 12th August, 1942, outside the headquarters of the Sasebo No.5 Special Naval Landing Party, the entire group was beheaded one by one with the sword, the boy last of all.

"The self-appointed executioner was Sub-Lieut. Komai, a company commander. Komai was identified also as the 'Bushido' executioner of Flight-Lieutenant William Ellis Newton, VC, at Salamaua [in Papua] on 29th March, 1943. An Australian War Crimes team traced Komai [after the war] to the point where his death was established beyond doubt. The natives responsible for the betrayal of the mission party were hanged."

Yesterday was the anniversary of the group's murder.

Yet that is incidental to repeating the detail here. The point is what followed my article three years ago. I got a letter. In that letter were copies of three other letters. All referred to a second incident related briefly in Paull's book in the weeks leading to the Japanese invasion.

He had written: "The shadow of enemy activity, looming towards the few miles of swampy [Papuan] coastline, fell upon a handful of civilians still engaged in normal peacetime occupations. Some, like the Reverend James Benson, Miss May Hayman and Miss Mavis Parkinson at the Anglican Gona Mission, stayed from a strong sense of Christian duty, with some foreboding perhaps but without fear…"

Later, after the invasion and the beheading of the Buna group, Paull recounted: "A traitorous guide betrayed Miss Hayman and Miss Parkinson from the Gona Mission [along the coast from Buna]. After a night under guard at Popondetta, the Japanese took the two women to a spot where graves had been dug and repeatedly bayoneted them. Their bodies, recovered some months later, received Christian burial at Sangara Mission. Father Benson alone survived captivity."

One of the copied letters sent to me three years ago was dated March 11, 1943, and signed by the Anglican Church's Bishop G.H. Cranswick. It was addressed to a Canberra relative of one of the two murdered women and enclosed an uncompleted letter she'd been writing shortly before her death. Cranswick wrote: "I feel I should convey it to you personally in order you may convey it to other members of Miss Hayman's family, for I can imagine how you will all prize it. A similar uncompleted letter from Miss Mavis Parkinson is being forwarded to her relatives."

Cranswick said the two letters had been forwarded to him by Major-General Basil Morris, Australian commandant of the Port Moresby garrison, who had written, in part: "The letters were found by a native sergeant. I think the spirit displayed in their writings is very wonderful and should serve as an example to many of us frailer mortals. Let me quote the words of a senior staff officer - 'I desire to express my appreciation at being allowed to peruse these letters which I consider are the most courageous I have ever seen."'

Mavis Parkinson's letter went into church archives in Brisbane. The letter by May Hayman was reproduced in a church newsletter of the period. Headlined, "In our Bush Hideout", and dated August 4, 1942, it said, in part: "Dear [Aunt] Vi, With plenty of time and tons to tell it, our trouble now is we are entirely cut off from any communication with the civilised world. I'll start a letter and hope there'll be a way of getting it through to you. We have no idea what is happening.

"When next I see Nathaniel [in charge near where their hideout was] I'll give him what I have written and he can keep it by him and forward to you when the war is over if anything should happen to us, for it would be a shame if our recent adventures were never told. Of course, there must be many others more thrilling and certainly more gory, for we have not as much as seen a dead bird, but it has been very terrifying and nerve-racking nevertheless. I shall try to describe it starting just one day before our flight …

"This particular evening (20/7/42) both Sister and I had on our pretty long dresses, dinner was a gay meal and our lovely polished table with its pretty mats and beautiful flowers did not fail to call forth the usual compliments. When the houseboys had finished the dishes they brought us the hanging billy from the kitchen and, with deck chairs and cushions, gramophone and chocolates, we went down to the front lawn. How safe we all felt! Alas, what a change came upon before 24 hours had passed …

"[Next day] Up from the beach a mission boy ran crying, 'Come Sister, look. A big boat is close up.' I had started the pudding, so I did not tear off with the others, but when I heard bombing and shelling I ran down to the beach and joined Sister, Father and two soldiers, Godfrey, our head teacher, and three brave but frightened mission boys (everyone else had fled). A naval battle, what a thrill! Were those two big transports just outside the reef American or Japanese? And why the shelling and gunfire between the four or five destroyers darting about as I've never seen anything move on water before? The soldiers thought they'd better depart for Buna to be in the fun …

"We had promised the Bishop in the event of a Japanese invasion we'd go in to Isivita Mission 38 miles inland, so we packed accordingly. The mission boys took our cases and bed bag and dumped them along the bush track a bit. Father collected his little walkabout bag. We ate the pudding, no time or appetite for the meat dish, and we set off to await events …

"[Next day] Grasping our bundles in true refugee style and leaving our cases of clothes and tins of stores, we stole along the path and nicked off so quickly, across the Kokoda track and into the pathless high grass which we hoped would hide us. It was hard work pushing through it, in places above our head. At last, about a mile in, we came to the usual tropical jungle, only never before had we been off the beaten track … Not long after dawn, over came planes, bombing and shooting. Nineteen raids we counted that day. Nothing could possibly be left of our lovely station…

"At dawn the planes came again … Surely we must be able to skirt these swamps. How often we thought we had found a path … At last, a native footmark. Yes, there's a dog's paw mark, also. Our hearts were much lighter. We came to big stream, sent Father further along, took off our clothes and had a bonzer swim and washed our clothes, then said Matins. Yesterday they'd been said while crouching behind a big tree after an overheard dogfight. Surely God was guiding and caring for us…"

Saturday August 9th:

"It is just a fortnight since we came to Siai and found friends, food and peace. No, not quite, for the noises of the bush have been almost as nerve-racking as those of the battle zone. Yet we feel sure we are doing the right thing by waiting in this retreat because everything is so wonderfully provided. Yet being shut in and not knowing anything of what is happening between our forces and the Japs has made this fortnight almost unbearable …"

August 11th:

"Three weeks since we left Gona and still no authentic news. However, all rumours put together, it seems we might conclude the Japs are halfway to Port [Moresby] but are being killed by the thousand … Two more ships have brought more men which daily move along the better Kokoda road. One big boat is still burning off Siai … Still we hide, knowing nothing of outside affairs, feeling all the world like Laurel and Hardy as we pile up our empty pork and bean tins day by day. Did you ever see that picture?…"

The Reverend Vivian Redlich was one of the Buna nine beheaded next day (August 12). His fiancee, Sister May Hayman, the writer of this letter and the nurse in charge of Gona Mission hospital, would go to her death, with Mavis Parkinson, in Popondetta within days of her final, August 11 written thoughts, knowing nothing of his death.

An official letter, dated April 19, 1943, to May Hayman's family in Canberra would conclude, of the discovery of the two women's bayoneted remains that February: "A place of interment was selected in the Sangara Mission grounds. There, on 26 February, 1943, they [were laid to rest]. Three Europeans were present and many flowers, brought by women and children, were placed on the graves."

Always, somewhere, an anniversary.