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    Isivita Mission Oro Province Papua New Guinea (PNG)

Location
Isivita Mission Station is located near the base of Mount Lamington to the west of Popondetta and to the east of Kokoda, south of the main road (Kokoda Highway). To the northeast is Kiorota. To the north is Sangara.

Prewar
During 1928, Henry Holland established an Anglican mission at this location known as "Isivita" or "Isivita Mission" or "Isivita Mission Station". In 1938, Holland was ordained as a priest worked at both Isivita and Sangara until Vivian Redlich was appointed as the priest at Sangara and then lived and worked exclusively at Isivita. Holland was described as "a quite, slow-spoken man, quite unimpressive to meet, but a giant in his capacity for work and for thoroughness in everything he undertook".

Wartime History
During 1942, Reverend Henry Holland was stationed at this location. After the Japanese landings on the north coast at Gona, Holland voluntarily decided to remain at his post, but established a secret camp nearby.

On July 26, 1942 Captain Frank P. Bender and TSgt Arnold M. Thompson that bailed out of B-25C "Aurora" 41-12792 before it crashed. Both landed in different areas and were led by locals to Isivita. The two briefly met Holland who treated Bender’s leg wound. Soon afterwards, the Americans departed and began walking back to Port Moresby with members of ANGAU and assistance from native carriers.

Soon afterwards, another badly wounded American was brought to Isivita by local people. Holland attempted to treat his wounds and watched over him all night until he died of his wounds. The American was buried on July 29, 1942 near the mission.

On July 27, 1942 five were at the secret camp near Isivita: Reverend Henry Holland, John Duffill, Lucian Tapiedia, Margery Benchley and Lilla Lashmore and planned to escape from the area by walking across the Owen Stanley Range via the Managalas area which was deemed to be an easier route than the Kokoda Trail. The group departed for Sehaparete village where they were fed and sheltered for the night.

Departing the next day, none of the locals helped them to carry their cargo. A man in the village told them "the days of the Europeans were over and the spirits of dead friends and relatives dressed as soldiers would soon be coming bearing great amounts of valuable cargo". Holland told them this view was foolish, but was struck by the speaker fell to the ground. Then, the group departed for Sewa.

At Sewa, the group met five others led by Captain Austin, the manager of the coffee plantation at Higaturu who were attempting to reach Oro Bay and find a boat to evacuate along the coast. Crossing Jewain Creek, the locals offered to carry Captain Austin's rifle. First, Lucian Tapiedia went back to get a box left at the crossing and was murdered with an ax and buried.

On August 10, the rest of the group reached Perombata but the local people, convinced by a villager named Pauembo from Embi village decided to turn the group over to the Japanese. Crossing Kurumbo Creek, led by a native Esega tied up the men and took them to Embi village where they were detained then turned over to the Japanese who took them by truck to Buna.

On October 12, 1942 (5th AF) Two A-20s from the 3rd BG, 89th BS hit Isivita village, dropping fragmentation bombs from 2,000'. They drop 8 x 20 lb frags and fire 400 x .50 caliber and 500 x .30 caliber rounds.

References
My Brother Vivian pages 51-52

ABM Anglican Board of Mission Martyrs Book "I Wait For The Lord, My Soul Waits For Him: And In His Word is My Hope" by Margaret Bride pages 5-6
The Road from Gona by Dorothea Tomkins and Brian Hughes
X-File Unk. N. G. X-225 (Finschaffen #2)
Thanks to Edward Rogers and Daniel Leahy for additional information

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Last Updated
September 9, 2018

 

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