The Buna Beach New Guinea Martyrs of Aug-Sept 1942
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.
” 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 The civilian population was hurriedly withdrawn.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.[ read on – very long article]