Friday, July 07, 2006

I will stay with the Fathers and the Sisters (Lucien Tapeidi and Companions)

During the Japanese invasion of Papua New Guinea, the missionaries who lived in the country watched events anxiously, and feared the worst. In January 1942 the Anglican bishop, Philip Strong, had broadcast an appeal to them to stay at their work, come what may. Many of the missionaries themselves wished this, and had already resisted calls to turn to safety.
In Northern Papua, a group of Anglican Missionaries landed on Gona for safety from capture. With them was Lucian Tapiedi, a faithful layman who assisted the missionaries. He said, “I will stay with the Fathers and the Sisters.”
While the missionaries were fleeing, they remembered that they have left a box containing records and money for the missionaries. Lucian volunteered to go back and get the box. Nearing the Jewala Creek, Lucian was met by a small group of Orakaiva men. Perhaps the box was left by design to give Lucian, the Papuan, a choice, plainly telling him their intentions regarding the Europeans. Lucian was killed with an axe there on the track and his body was buried nearby.
The party of whites and their escorts moved on to Kurumbo and on to Hanakiro. At Worisata Plantation one of the women became ill and was carried to Embi. At Embi the Porombeta man returned to their village and Boro men took charge of the “captives.” On 6th August the party set off, not in the direction of Eroro but towards Dobodura. At Joropa the party were handed over to the Japanese soldiers. The captives were put in a truck and driven off to Buna. There, the missionaries were killed with other white men.


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