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Immediately, the Japanese established a base area at Gona to support of their advance and landed additional supplies and reinforcements at this location. Following the defeat of the Japanese offensive over the Kokoda Trail, Allied forces advanced toward the Japanese beachhead area including Buna, Gona and Sanananda.
The Japanese constructed a system of strong defenses in the area including coconut log bunkers, machine gun nest, rifle pits and snipers positions along a 20km beachhead spanning from Gona to Sanananda and Buna. General Yokomata took command of Japanese forces and 800 reinforcements landed at Gona and Sanananda.
Japanese and Allied missions against Gona
Battle of Gona
Mission Station "All Saints Mission"
On January 25, 1942 there was a radio order for all to evacuate the area and both woman departed for Sangara. Benson decided to stay behind. When the message recieved was deemed not to be an official order, the two woman returned to Gona five days later. On February 7, Miss Parkinson was advised to leave, but three days later she heard a radio message from her parents allowing her to stay if she wished and returned to Gona again.
On March 7, Bishop Strong was debating weather to relocate both woman to Isivita, but "they all wished to remain at Gona where they flet their work to be and were content to take the risk and to trust God and had quite settled down to it now".
On May 23, natives brought Lt. Dickinson pilot of B-25C Mitchell 41-12491 to Gona Mission. He waited with the three missionaries until a boat arrived and took him down the coast and back to base.
On July 6, the P-400 Airacobra AP377 crashed near Gona Mission and the remains of pilot Howard C. Welker were buried at Gona Mission by Father Benson.
After the Japanese landing during the night of July 21-22, the missionaries fled inland and linked up with a group of Papuan Infantry Battalion (PIB) soldiers and downed American airman. Later, the group was ambushed by the Japanese and killed. The three missionaries were capture alive. Reverend Benson was taken prisoner and alter sent to Rabaul where he survived the war. He kept a secret diary and after the war wrote Prisoner's Base and Home Again that includes an extensive account about the Gona mission, their escape and his capture.
Today, the cross from the old church, with bullet holes present is displayed in front of the overgrown site of the former All Saints Mission church. Only the top part of the original cross remains, and has been attached to a new base portion. Several contemporary graves, including the graves of the Anglican martyrs are located at the base of the cross.
P-400 Airacobra AP377
Gona Memorial Medical Center
Unknown Aircraft Wreck
Maru (The Gona Wreck)
A-20G Havoc 43-9410
A-20G "A Touch of Texas" 43-9623
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