The first day cover commemorating the departure of the Montevideo Maru from Rabaul in 1942, produced
to mark the 30th anniversary of the sailing and referred to in PNG Attitude recently, brought back
memories of the work involved in its production and of the accompanying memorial
service held on the shores of
Four people played a part in this: Bishop Saimon Gaius of
The process began early in 1972 when Bishop Gaius urged that a commemorative service be arranged for the twelve Methodist missionaries on the prison ship.
He had known them all before the war, as a student and then
a young pastor, and greatly admired and respected them. Now he felt that the
The task was handed to me, as regional secretary for the
Synod of the
Contact was made with the Lark Force Association in
I gathered material and photographs of the twelve missionaries and contacted their widows, all of whom were still living in 1972.
This reached the ears of Rev Harry Voyce, a dedicated philatelist and collector of postal history. He suggested that a commemorative envelope should be issued for the occasion with a special postmark.
Negotiations with Posts and Telegraphs followed, which had strict rules to be complied with. Permission was granted for us to prepare the design of a postmark dated 22-6-72, to be used on that date only and applied to our envelopes by Rabaul postal staff.
Keith Sanders produced excellent designs for the envelopes and postmark. The envelopes were printed at Trinity Press, along with leaflets included within them. In the leaflets, amongst other information, I related the story of the Montevideo Maru, and provided photos and notes about the twelve missionaries.
The service on 22 June 1972 drew a large gathering. It was
not held at the old
In addition to Bert Smith, Australian visitors included the Hon Kim Beazley MHR, whose brother Sydney Beazley, a builder and technical instructor, was one of the missionary prisoners on the ship. It was a very impressive occasion, and Bishop Gaius was delighted, feeling that his initial suggestion had produced something even beyond his hopes.
(By the way, first day covers and leaflets are still available
from me, for $2.75 including postage within