New Guinea the world's 2nd largest island, has a difficult terrain that discourages travel between districts, Consequently, it is home to many isolated tribes, with many different cultures and at least 500 languages. Christian missionaries began work there in the 1860's, but proceeded slowly. Anglican missionaries arrived in New Guinea in 1891 with the backing of the Anglican Church in Australia. This followed Australian involvement in the administration of the south-east region of New Guinea.
WWII brought the Japanese to Papua New Guinea in January 1942. Most foreigners were evacuated to Australia, but both the Roman Catholic bishop, Alain de Boismeau, and the Anglican bishop, Philip Strong, encouraged their staffs to remain. Bishop Strong, expressing the general feeling amongst the staff:
They stayed, In all, 333 Christians died during World War II in Papua New Guinea: 189 Roman Catholics, 20 Lutherans, 26 Methodists, 2 Seventh Day Adventists, 23 members of The Salvation Army, along with the Anglicans. Today we honour the memory of them all. The representatives of which are the 12 Anglican martyrs below:
- The Revd. Henry Matthews, Priest at Moresby was born at Ararat, Victoria. 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 either shot or drowned, when a boat in which he was taking a group of half-castes to safety at Daru was attacked and shot up by a Japanese submarine, on August 7th, 1942.
- 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. Captured by heathen tribe and handed over to Japanese, beheaded at Buna Beach on 6 Aug 1942.
- The Revd. Vivian Frederick Barnes Redlich, Priest at Sangara Mission. Ordained in the Wakefield Diocese in England in 1932, he came to Australia to join the Bush Brotherhood of St. Andrew and was stationed at Winton, Queensland. He then offered for service in New Guinea and was accepted. Captured by heathen tribe and handed over to Japanese, beheaded at Buna Beach on 6 Aug 1942.
- 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. Killed probably earlier than August 1942, his grave is marked on a Mission Station in New Britain near the Mission Station of Apugi and the Government Station of Kandrian.
- Sister Margery Brenchley, Mission Sister at Sangara. An Australian nurse, from Holy Trinity, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane. Captured by heathen tribe and handed over to Japanese, beheaded at Buna Beach on 6 Aug 1942.
- 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. Betrayed by pagan natives to the Japanese, bayonetted and buried at a coffee plantaion, late in August 1942.
- Miss Lilla Lashmar, Mission Teacher at Sangara, who was from Adelaide. Captured by heathen tribe and handed over to Japanese, beheaded at Buna Beach on 6 Aug 1942.
- Miss Mavis Parkinson, Mission Teacher at Gona. An Australian, from the Parish of St. Paul's, Ipswich, Queensland. A member of the Comrades of St. George. Betrayed by pagan natives to the Japanese, bayonetted and buried at a coffee plantation late in August 1942..
- 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. Captured by heathen tribe and handed over to Japanese, beheaded at Buna Beach on 6 Aug 1942.
- Lucian Tapiedi, Papuan Teacher-Evangelist at Sangara (from Taupota). He trained at St. Aidan's College, Dogura. Captured by heathen tribe while leading group of Missionaries away from the Japenese to safety, he spoke up for them to the heathen and was stuck down by an axe and killed.
- Leslie Gariadi, Papuan Evangelist (from Boianai), assisting the Revd. Henry Matthews at Port Moresby. He trained at St. Aidan's College. He was with Revd. Henry Matthews in boat and suffered the same fate, either shot or drowned, when attacked and shot up by a Japanese submarine, on August 7th, 1942
Faithful unto death, they chose to remain with their flocks rather than desert them in their hour of danger. They were Martyrs for the Christian Faith. Their deaths were not in vain. Their sacrifice inspired the Papuan Church, and it remained firm. Recovery after the war was rapid because of it. Had they deserted much of the work would have had to begin all over again. But they were faithful unto death, and we honour them. Once again the blood of the Martyrs became the seed of the Church.