Once more my Report must be incomplete for Melanesia is still very much 'in the wars.' However, I hope that from now onwards the situation in the three Archdeaconries will get clearer and this Report will be supplemented by occasional articles in the Log in the near future.
The Archdeaconry of Southern Melanesia.
I very much regret that the situation in the Solomons and transport difficulties made it impossible for me to visit the South for the fourth successive year. When in the later months of the year I was making arrangements to go to New Zealand to attend General Synod, I had hoped to 'stop off' for a few days at Santo and so visit at least the Headquarters at Lolowai. This was not possible. But within a few days of my completing this Report I hope I shall have arrived there. Even so, from all that I hear from Archdeacon Teall, it is very doubtful if I shall be able to do more than visit Aoba, Raga and Maewo, with perhaps a call at Vila. Yet in spite of the saying 'Ubi episcopus, ibi Ecclesia' (forgive me for bursting into a foreign tongue!)--although the Bishop has not visited the South, the work of the Church has certainly gone on. Mails are now rather better than they were in '42--not that that means a great deal!--but I have heard from time to time from the Archdeacon and other members of the Staff in the South and I am profoundly thankful for all that has been done during the past year.
It is true that this Archdeaconry was not directly 'mixed up' with Japanese movements in the S. Pacific but that does not mean that the area has not been 'occupied'. Indeed, it has, I gather, been the privilege of members of the Staff in the South to have had many very pleasant contacts with members of the American Forces, and I have heard, too, from U.S. Chaplains and others how appreciative they have been of what they have seen and heard of our people and our work in the northern islands of the New Hebrides. And it is also true that, in a measure, native life has been affected by this occupation. It could not have been otherwise. Even so, the main work of the Church has gone on.
 Archdeacon Teall has carried on at Lolowai and has done his best, with the very inadequate means at his disposal, to keep touch with the Melanesian clergy in the Banks and Torres. After the return of Mrs. Teall from furlough, he assembled trainee-teachers from near-by islands and the College has been at work for some months. Difficulties of supplies had to be overcome by more garden work, but our people are adepts at 'rising to the occasion,' and as the Archdeacon had something in the way of a store of calico and such-like needs, I gather things were not too bad!
Close by, the Godden Memorial Hospital has continued its valuable work. I am most grateful to Sisters Cunnold and Samuels for all that they have done at the Hospital during these past few years. It is a heavy responsibility when 'anything may happen at any time' to be in charge of such a Station. Yet one or other of the Sisters has always been ready to run the Hospital single-handed. Details of the working of the Hospital during the year have already been published as a separate report and the figures show the important place which it is filling in the district. In August, when we received permits for three nurses to return to Fauabu Hospital, knowing that Miss Samuels had formerly been anxious to return to the Solomons, I tried to get a message through to her to join Miss Talbot and Miss Stead at Vila whence passages on had been arranged. Unfortunately the message reached Miss Samuels after a considerable delay and on her arrival at Vila, she found that 'the opportunity' had already sailed and she had a long wearisome wait while efforts were made to secure other transport. Meanwhile Miss Cunnold carried on at the Hospital and Sister Gwen very kindly moved over from New Torgil School to give what help she could. I have since heard from the South that it is almost imperative that there should now be two nurses permanently stationed at the Hospital and this arrangement has been already made. Actually I think the need for and the work at Lolowai Hospital will soon be much increased, for I heard at Christmas, with very great pleasure, that Basil Leodoro, who has been in training at the Central Medical School, Fiji, for the past five years, has been awarded his diploma as an N.M.P. (Native Medical Practitioner). It is our intention to use him as a peripatetic doctor throughout the Torres, the Banks and on Aoba, Maewo and Raga. Lolowai will be his base; and when the launch is again serviceable, I have no doubt that he will be able to bring back from the further islands cases for attention at the Hospital from which hitherto these folk have been cut off.
I would like to say of Basil that we are really thrilled with him. Six years ago, the powers that be 'challenged' me on the standard of our School training. On our mettle, although we knew that our standard of English was as yet not high--and the general background of our lads not so 'wide' as that of many other lads from Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and so on--we sent to the Medical School at Suva two lads, one from the Solomons and one from the New Hebrides, Basil being the latter. Half way through the course the very patient M.O. in charge of the School very regretfully reported [2/3] that he felt these two lads could not 'stay the course.' I wrote urging that they were our first candidates, that they had started with a big handicap, that the M.O. had reported most highly on the characters of both of them and begged that they might be allowed to continue--especially as it was Mission money (and not a Government grant--except 50% in Basil's case) that was being 'wasted'! I wrote to Basil (and William) and encouraged him to 'stick it'--for he, too, wrote and said he was finding it 'too hard.' And they both did; and they both now have their diplomas. And I think I was more thrilled when I got the news than if I had passed Matriculation myself!
The beginning of the year found all the Sisters (both white and Melanesian--except Taina Line Esu, who was still on Ysabel) at New Torgil. Mother Margaret had been in charge of the School for the past year while the others had been 'in the bush' on Malaita. Now all were together again. Sister Madeleine shortly went on furlough and on her return later in the year joined Miss Fagan at Lamalaga and has since done much useful medical work on N. Raga. The School--for a fuller report of which see elsewhere--has not fully occupied the Community, and in addition to some work in the villages on Aoba (indeed, on one occasion, Mother Margaret went as far afield as Merelava on a small cutter) Sister Gwen and Sister Veronica have compiled several series of lesson-books which will be invaluable for use in our District Schools when we get them printed and distributed. We had hoped that the end of the year would have seen at least some of the Community back in the Solomons again--we must get all our Central Schools fully re-established at the earliest possible moment. Now as perhaps never before we shall need more and more 'trained' Melanesians to guide the re-adjustment of native life which the war compels.
I cannot, of course, write with any personal knowledge of the work of the Melanesian clergy in the Districts in the South. Of some--for example, of Mama Ben Bani amongst 'the Dispersion' at Vila--I have heard from time to time. Some of the American chaplains have been tremendously impressed by some of our men. It is no exaggeration to say that some of them have been amazed at the standard of village worship, led by our clergy--I don't mean impressed by the standard 'in externals' (although that has surprised and pleased many of them)--but by the 'atmosphere.'
How great it will be when one can get round and meet them all again! I know that some folk have thought that I have moved rather too quickly in the matter of Melanesian Ordinations during the past ten years--having increased our numbers from twenty-seven (I think) to sixty-six. But I don't think anyone now, in the New Hebrides or the Solomons, would say anything but that our Melanesian clergy have thoroughly justified themselves. I am not over-concerned whether or not they have justified me! What we should have done during the past two years without them, well, I think we need not go into that.
 The Archdeaconry of the Solomons.
Of the work in the Solomons during the past year also I can make only a part report for alas, there are still islands completely cut off from us. Indeed, I do not at present see how I am going to visit some of them until the return of the 'Southern Cross.' A mere chance might get me to Tikopia, for example. I hope shortly to get a lift out to Sikaiana and Ontong Java. I'd give anything to get down to the Reefs during the next few months, but we have nothing capable of making the journey even if the authorities allowed us to wander about so far afield. However, chances may 'turn up.'
The beginning of the year found H. Q. re-established at Taroaniara. Here we soon got things ship-shape and, as one journalist put it, our former rice store (re-walled, for the Japs 'pinched' the corrugated iron sides) became the 'least pretentious Bishopscourt in Christendom' and a home from home for hundreds--indeed, by the end of the year, for thousands of our American friends. It has been great to have had this contact. I was a little worried at first when I found myself--and in a measure Mr. Reynolds also--becoming almost a full-time unofficial chaplain to the American Forces. But apart from the joy of it all, it has been abundantly worth while. I believe that the contacts we have had in this way--in addition to their experiences with our Solomon Island men and lads--have profoundly changed the attitude of a very large number of men to so-called Missionary work. And I know how tremendously this open-house attitude to all comers has been appreciated. They have often laughed about the house 'with no doors'--and it is true that many of them come in through the back! I much regret that we had nothing we could use as a Visitors' Book. We should then have been able to show a list of names of Admirals, Generals and others 'highly placed' who have come out of their way to express appreciation. Eventually it became quite clear that we could not 'do everything'; and the High Commissioner kindly arranged for Mr. Edwards to rejoin us. Within a very short time, he had acquired the name and functions of the 'Destroying Chaplain' and did some much valued work. Towards the close of the year, with 'things' steadily moving westwards, he was able to give more attention to preparations for the re-opening of the College, and the New Year found quite a number of possible candidates for Holy Orders gathered at S. Peter's College--the chapel of which remained intact although the College houses have had to be rebuilt and 'the Warden's Lodge' (on which the Japanese seem to have vented an especial wrath!) is but the shadow of its former glory, when it was (almost) universally known as 'the Birdcage.' The High Commissioner also arranged the release from the N.Z. Forces of Mr. J. Surr, and he arrived back at the end of October to take over the ordering and distribution of 'nebulous' stores for all districts in the Solomons, the general oversight of the gardens at Taroaniara, the collecting of silver and its re-distribution as Teachers' Pay and the thousand and one jobs that [4/5] fall to a Secretary at Hqrs. Mr. Bullen, who was formerly in charge at Taroaniara, is now (I think) permanently in Government service. When the Japs first came to the Solomons, he was 'taken over' by the B.S.I. Defence Force and for months did most invaluable work--in ways of which we still do not publicly talk. I understand that he will now be permanently employed by the Government and I would like here and now to pay tribute to his fine, devoted and loyal service to the Mission since he joined the Staff when 'Southern Cross 7' came out from England at the end of '33.
Mr. Reynolds has been a tower of strength. Not only in the chaplaincy work but in his never-tiring wanderings from island to island and in the islands he just goes on--never thinking of himself or his own convenience. He is happy anywhere, but I think he was very glad when Mr. Edwards arrived to take over some of the ship work. I think he is happiest when he is out among our Melanesian peoples although he got great pleasure from the arrival of the New Zealanders! But in dealing with the Navy, he is not, I think, at home even as much as I in clambering up rope-ladders up the sides of cruisers and/or destroyers! And I have been 'stuck' on more than one occasion! I think there is no Pastoral District in the Solomons--that is, within the main group--which he had not visited by the end of the year.
And while I am speaking of H.Q. I am in duty bound to say how wonderfully loyal and helpful our lads have been--the boats' crews, the garden lads and our personal servants. There have been all sorts of other ways of making money--and lots of it--open to these lads. Many of them, in their spare time have made extra for themselves by various extra bits of work. But I know of one case only during this past year where one of our 'regulars' has left us 'to make more money.' And that, although night after night Jap bombers were over and often bombs were dropped.
I wish I could tell you more about Taroaniara but I ought not to!
The Hospital at Fauabu has had varied experiences but it has been 'open to all comers' throughout the year. Dr. Thomson continued to have his quarters there although, in his capacity (acquired at the New Year) as Senior Medical Officer to the Government, his work took him about the Group. But he still gave a good deal of direction to Fauabu. While Mr. Buffett supervised the outside work and generally kept things going, the Dr. had to delegate much work both inside the Hospital and up at the Leprosarium to his orderlies, some of whom have really proved their worth. I haven't figures with me, but the numbers of out-patients was not far below pre-war figures in the early months of the year and when, later, Sister Talbot arrived back to take over, they immediately jumped again and surpassed 'normal'. There is a very urgent need in the Solomons for the re-establishment, without delay, of the fullest possible measure of Medical Service, The powers-that-be owe it to the Solomon people. Some little while ago, after I had been [5/6] preaching in one of our Cathedral Churches, an eminent and experienced Administrator (who kindly entertained me to lunch) charged me with being 'bitter' because I had spoken very frankly of the needs of our people. He eventually withdrew the word 'bitter' when I denied having any bitterness in me towards anyone or anything and told him that I had spent the first ten years of my life as a cleric in Yorkshire where men are not bitter or rude but where they say what they mean and emphatically so when it ought to be said! And he admitted afterwards that what I had said he knew to be true. And thousands of other men, too, now know certain things to be true and I hope that in post-war years they will not forget but will insist that, as now in our home countries there are vastly increased Social Security Services, so those services must be infinitely increased in those Colonies or Protectorates of the Empire where live the so-called 'infant races.' They have not failed us in the time of our troubles; in post-war days there must be restitution amply given in atonement for past neglect as well as in return for services rendered. In the Solomons, in the New Hebrides we need vastly increased Health, Medical, Educational, Agricultural services. We just haven't the money, the resources, locally; we need substantial subsidies from the Home Government. A block grant in atonement for past neglect would set these services on their feet; a reasonable reward for services rendered would soon make a tremendous difference to the fullness and happiness of Melanesian village life; a regular annual financial recognition of our trusteeship of these peoples would soon bring about the complete rehabilitation of islands, which have become depopulated, by the building up of strong healthy communities which in time could and would make their own contribution to the common weal.
I am most thankful that the war did not bring the destruction of Fauabu. I shall be glad when it can again be fully staffed; when further accommodation can be put up at the Leprosarium (towards which we have received recently a very generous grant from the N.Z. (Makogai) Leper Trust Board); when Kerepei is again at work; when District Dispensaries, looked after by trained dressers, supervised by itinerant N.M.P.'s, are to be found in good numbers throughout our islands and when our Mothercraft Centre (under Sister Stead, who is now carrying on this work again in a limited way at Fauabu--Siota having been `blitzed' to nothingness) is turning out each year a number of trained maternity nurses and our Schools are producing a regular supply of lads and girls for further training in some branch of the Medical Service.
Pawa School, indeed, is fully functioning, and has been right through. We have often laughed over what will be the right reply in years to come if the last-war phrase 'What did you do in the Great War, Daddy?' is ever asked. I have given Mr. Hill his answer. It is 'I just went on and on and on--and Pawa went on with me.' And during '43 Pawa did go on in spite of little in the way of school material, in spite of shortages of supplies and in spite [6/7] of difficulties of a local nature due to our 'occupation.' No further lads have yet been asked for to go to Fiji for training--the 15 who went down early in '42 have now all (but two) been absorbed into the Medical School or some other training establishment and all are doing well. Of the two ex-Pawa lads at Te Aute, I heard excellent reports when I had the pleasure of visiting the College in November; and as soon as formalities are completed, I hope to send two others for a two years' course there. Pawa is a good school. It had a good start; it has had a varied history; it is now building up a tradition. We badly need at least one (two, if possible) trained lay teacher for ordinary school subjects and another layman to relieve Mr. Hill of the 'outside work'--the gardens, the plantation, the cattle and so on. Meanwhile, Mr. Hill pays very warm tribute to the loyal co-operation of his Melanesian assistants, Alan Tinoni (whom we owe to Mr. Warren's training formerly at Marovovo), George Basile of Pawa and Te Aute, and Caspar Kakasae, an ex-Marovovo and Pawa lad from Ontong Java.
During the year Marovovo School has been re-established, more or less on the old site. The beginning of the year saw most of the Marovovo lads in a temporary school at Fiu--some of the older lads were sent on to Pawa. The Japanese finally withdrew from Guadalcanar early in February and soon afterwards I asked Mr. Thomson to come up from New Vureas (Mr. Teall kindly undertaking the oversight of the School there in addition to his other work at Lolowai) and later the Government released Mr. Rowley from the duties he had been doing (military duties) since his 'strategic withdrawal' from Guadalcanar in the previous September. Together they got to work with some 35 Marovovo lads and soon order began to be evolved out of the chaos the heavy fighting and bombings (and shellings) had brought to Marovovo. I don't think I shall ever forget the scene of desolation when I first climbed the hill to the site of this former beautifully kept Station. By the end of the year, two sleeping houses were available for the lads; a Chapel cum Schoolroom cum Dining Hall building, had been put up; gardens were again 'coming on,' and the old Marovovo spirit was again embodied in a happy group of men and boys. It may be years before all the former buildings can be replaced--and when we build, I hope we shall be able to build with more permanent material than leaf--but Marovovo is again 'on the march.' I am very sorry that family reasons make it impossible for Mr. and Mrs. Stibbard to contemplate returning to Marovovo. Both have rendered splendid service to the Church in Melanesia during the past twelve (and ten) years. Mr. Stibbard has a temporary 'cure' in the Bathurst Diocese until such time as the family can return to England and meanwhile he will act as my Commissary in Australia. To both of them, I know, Melanesia will be a life-long interest; nor will Melanesia forget them.
Bunana School is still non-existent. Alangaula has carried on under very serious difficulties. Some of the District Schools [7/8] have been getting going again--I always like the answer one of the Supervisors (John Hoka) gave to an American Chaplain who visited the school at Hagiama (Gela) and was delighted with it. The Chaplain asked John what he did when the Japs came. "Oh," said John, "we went into recess."
School materials are, of course, a real problem now. It is very difficult to get--and almost impossible at present to get up!--exercise books and equipment. It will be difficult to sustain interest in the smaller schools at all events unless 'something happens' very soon. But we've got to keep them going, for the future depends so much on the schools and we have shown the world--or at least the Japanese and the Americans--what these lads are capable of. Given the opportunities, I see no reason at all why within twenty years from now many of the District Services in the Solomons should not be in the hands of Solomon Islanders--and excellently administered.
As there is now no Press to report upon (Hautabu is a ghastly sight, or was, it's grown over a good deal now), the only other 'central' activity in the Solomons is the Brotherhood. Throughout the year, the bulk of the Brothers have been with Tasiu Charles at work among the artificial islands in the Tai Lagoon on the other side of N. Mala. Efforts were made to start a District School at the Brothers' Headquarters, for there are masses of children round there; but the School was not a success--there are so many counter-attractions to school! In pairs, the Brothers have been at work on some of the islands--living under pretty appalling conditions at times--and there has been a good response here and there. But they are very difficult, very sophisticated folk, and money is their god in Tai. At the end of the year, "Tasiu Charles" asked to be released from the Brothers and I had very much hoped that "Dr. Fox" would have been able to get South to New Zealand for a good holiday there during the summer months. But there seems to have been difficulty about getting an assurance of a return passage and rather than be cut off from islands in which he had served for more than forty-two years, Dr. Fox decided to do without his 'break' and he has temporarily returned to Gwounatolo. For the future, he hopes to be able to settle down to language work. He--and now almost he alone--has a wonderful capacity, as everyone knows, for this particular work, and I for one shall be much relieved if he will now allow himself to be billetted in some spot where he may have some measure of comfort, and put down in black and white much of that unique knowledge he has of the peoples of the Solomons and still further increase the number of grammars, etc., of Solomon languages available for those that come after.
It is not easy under present circumstances to write in any detail of the Pastoral Districts. It was not until early October that Ysabel, for example, was cleared of the Japanese; and other areas have been difficult of access and transport not too reliable. But [8/9] some short paragraphs on at least some of the Districts will, I am sure, be of interest to many.
Gela--always a problem, is now an even greater problem. Many of its villages have been through revolutionary changes and turned to other uses. The 'dispossessed' folk are temporarily in other places or have built temporary groups of houses in the bush. Village life has also been considerably disorganised by the demand for 'labour'--for laundry work and all sorts of other jobs. The folk are reputed to be difficult and so, in a measure, they are. But I often think that with Gela it is rather a case of 'give a dog a bad name . . . .' I was delighted when the Marines first landed at Tulagi, Gavutu and on Gela early in August, '42, to get a note shortly afterwards from one who had already in pre-war days had a fair experience of the Solomons. He wrote: "I have been round about among your Gela folk quite a lot during these past few weeks and I have been absolutely amazed at their loyalty and helpfulness. Every village has proved most generous with gifts of food (which does not appear to be too plentiful) and when I say 'gifts', I mean 'gifts'--in almost every case they would accept nothing from me in return." This may have been reaction after the Jap occupation, although I have always found the Gela folk 'corporately' very generous. Indeed, during this past year, when good prices were being given for bundles of leaf for U.S. store-buildings, we asked for leaf for the repair of Siota Cathedral, for new hutments at Taroaniara and other purposes. In some cases there was a bit of a delay in the bundles being delivered, but I think I am right in saying that eventually all promised quantities were forthcoming. I think one of the chief troubles with Gela--although this statement is 'generally' true of the Islands--is the shortage of young men likely to come on as 'leaders.' Frankly, I do not see where our future clergy are coming from--as yet. There are a few promising young men--apart from two already in Orders--but the situation is becoming difficult. We lost Reuben Sulu last year. Now old Clement Kelo has gone. John Pengone is an old man--but a fine man, and at times 'crashes about' like a man one third of his age. Daniel Parapolo is certainly getting on and that does not leave us with enough in view to man the five Districts.
I sometimes wonder why it is that when, for so many years, Gela has been in the centre of Mission activities--with always at least one large Station for the past, what fifty? Years--there is not a greater sense of obligation among the people or more 'vocations'. Perhaps Gela has had too much done FOR it, instead of THROUGH it. I don't know. I do know and I comfort myself sometimes with the knowledge--that the standard of Church life and worship in the Gela villages as well as the beauty and neatness of some of their Churches (old James Toganiande's church at Vunuha has been a place of pilgrimage!) has just staggered the Americans.
And now as they have been kind about us, let me be kind (honest--same thing!) about them. We of the Church in Melanesia [9/10] will not cease to be thankful for the kindliness of the Americans to our folk. Not only do I not know of a single case of misbehaviour of anything approaching a serious nature (I exclude pilfering of Prayer Books from Church vestries as 'souvenirs' of the local lingo) but I do know that the witness that many of our U.S. friends have made to their--and our--religion by joining whole-heartedly in our village church worship has made a really great impression on our people. And many of the U.S. chaplains have given very practical encouragement by taking services. But I do wish they would call the island Gela--and not Florida!
Guadalcanar (but usually with the final '1') is now a name known to thousands. Here the Japs landed in June, '42--and a further big convoy in July--to establish an air-field. Here the Marines landed early in August. Here in late August, September and October there was much bitter fighting--the Japs determined to hold the air-field, the Americans determined to withhold it from them and themselves to use it as a base for their further advance. It was off the coasts of Guadalcanar (and Savo) that the great naval engagement of 13-14 November was fought, which finally turned the tide in the Solomons and eventually brought the evacuation of the island by the Japanese. From Aola round the coast to Marovovo--and in all the hinterland behind--the fighting raged. It is true that the coastline is one long succession of plantation after plantation--except for the Tasimboko section and an occasional village here and there. Daniel Sade was the priest in charge of this Tasimboko district with Esuva Din as his assistant. Together--and with the co-operation of some local police-boys--they supervised the withdrawal of the folk from our six villages to a spot some ten to twelve miles back from the coast. And here they 'carried on.' When eventually I was able to visit this new and large settlement, I was very pleased with the way they had built their Church, 'scattered' their house in case of bombings, laid out extensive gardens.
Down in the Longu and Marau districts village life had not been so disrupted, although most of the folk had for a time 'gone bush.' The 'weather coast' had not been much affected, but the establishment of a Jap post near Cape Hunter--and patrols--caused a good deal of upset for a time in the Veuru and Suhu districts. Stephen Veve with his Deacon (David, poor lad, in temporary exile from his home in the New Hebrides--lost his excellent wife Agnes during these months--in childbirth) and Lionel Longarata both stuck to their districts, but I fear that Ini--after all his years of faithful service in the Brothers--has 'gone into a far country.' I hope that after 'the husks' fail to satisfy he will come again 'home.' Round at Verahue old Hugo (in close touch with Willie Parapolo) still smiles a welcome. It's hard, very hard, on such a one to see everything--everything 'material' at any rate--that he has over-seen the building of during these many years completely destroyed. For some time past he has not been able to do much--Verahue has been his home and his parish. It is too much to expect of him that he [10/11] should begin all over again. So Willie P.--his son-in-law--has now taken over this District, and Hugo is happy.
Savo and Cape Marsh (sometimes called 'the Russells') were also very much in 'things.' I find it very hard to imagine what must have been the state of mind of the good folk of these islands as large squadrons of Japanese ships came past with troops and supplies and then, some time later, when the U.S. Forces arrived, the great battles almost 'just off shore'; when squadron after squadron of American planes fought overhead and many came crashing down in flames. Savo was certainly in the 'orchestra' if it wasn't exactly 'the stage.' Months after the big fights in the neighbourhood, when I was able to get over to Savo for the first time, I found the people still 'dazed.' John Pita was on Savo when things had first happened so he had to remain--with Frank Bollen; but he has long since been back in his Aola district.
Of Ysabel I cannot write with personal knowledge. The clearing of the large enemy garrison had only just taken place when I had to leave for New Zealand. We had had a good deal of news for, on several occasions, large canoes had made the crossing from the S.E. end of the Island to Gela and had come on to Taroaniara. Mr. Reynolds visited all the districts at the end of October--except Kia; but he had news of all their difficulties and adventures from Ambrose (the Deacon in charge there) who chanced to be down at Meringe. I hope later an article in the Log will supplement what Mrs. Sprott has already written of what the Ysabel folk were--and did--in '42. 1943 was a difficult year for them but many of them did wonderfully well.
Of the districts on Malaita it would take too much space to write. I have written of the Brothers and of Fauabu. I think a legitimate summing up of the situation on Mala would be 'things going on pretty well. Village life a good deal affected by the large recruitments for war labour. In the definitely Church sphere, a good deal of progress being made. On S. Mala Willie Masuraa's work considerably strengthening the hands of James Uqe and John Maesiola. In other districts much to be thankful for.'
Nor will I write now of the Eastern Solomons--Ulawa, Ugi and San Cristoval. Mr. Reynolds and I have both visited in those parts and the clergy there always have Mr. Hill to turn to for any help they may need--and they do visit him regularly, for news, for talks over problems and--well, Melanesians like to do a bit of gadding about occasionally!
Now I look forward to the New Year in the Solomons. We are no longer actually an 'operational area,' although I imagine we shall be very much 'occupied' for a long time to come. But I have great hopes that we shall really be able to get down to things again during the coming year and think out, too, our plans for the future.
The one problem that will be the most difficult to solve is the matter of transport. 'Spare parts' seem not to have been available [11/12] for years! The 'Mavis' engine--which for years ran without missing a beat--won't go on much longer and spare parts are just NOT available. The 'Patteson' engine was 'despaired of' about three years ago. Our American friends put her into dock and saw both to the hull and the engine and we took the water again in high hopes. But I hear there is a very much threatened relapse likely at any moment--I hope it won't happen when I am on board half way between Guadalcanar and San Cristoval. That can be a very nasty bit of sea!
The Archdeaconry of Northern Melanesia.
Alas! how little I can write of the North--that is, of New Britain. Certainly in the past three months things have been happening there and the S.W. end of the island is now completely cleared of the Japanese. Of our native Christians at Au (Gasmatta), Arawe, Kumbun, SagSag and elsewhere--I wonder! The young men taken off for labour here or there; terror stalking the land. And there were some of our Solomon Island lads in training at the Agricultural Establishment near Rabaul--good lads, too. I hope they will come back--and very soon now. AND--our two white clergy up there, John Barge and Bernard Moore. For months we have prayed for them and hoped (of late) daily for news of them. I did, some months ago, hear some very appreciative news of Bernard Moore. As soon as the landing of the U.S. Marines began (in December) I asked Bp. Cranswick, of A.B.M., to get into touch with Canberra to ask what news might be sought of them. Actually today--while I was in the midst of this Report--the first news has come. The reports conflict, but it seems that there is little hope of either of them still being alive. Several sources of information indicate that Mr. Moore died of sickness (the dates given vary) at Kumbun and is buried there. Several reports are definite that Mr. Barge was killed by the Japanese not far from his headquarters near Passage Man o' War, although one boy states that he believed he had been taken away as a prisoner. I am profoundly sorry for all their sufferings. I gather that Bernard's was a short sickness. But I imagine that he was there at Kumbun alone, except for a few lads. Yet not alone! For, "Lo, I am with you always." And of John; well, we commend him to God's keeping wherever he may be. I knew them both well enough to say of each of them that "he would have scorned a religion for which he was not prepared to suffer and which was not able to sustain him in the time of his suffering."
I will close now. I am due to leave at any time. I don't think I will add my usual 'thanks' to the many who keep things going--they will take it as said. I send to you all "Good luck in the name of the Lord."
+ WALTER MELANESIA.
W. T. BAKER & Co. PTY. LTD. SYDNEY