Places - New Britain

A crescent shaped island, with a series of mountain ranges in the interior which in 1938 remained unexplored. There were many small rivers and protected harbours suitable for coastal plantations. Rabaul on the Gazelle Peninsula in the north east was the seat of government. Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tidal waves had been experienced for many years before the war. There were four administrative sub districts: Rabaul, Kokopo, Gasmata and Talasea. There were connecting roads and police posts.

  • A.I.F. New Guinea Volunteer Rifles, Australian Infantry (1939 - 1943) - On 4 September 1939, the Administrator of the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, Sir Walter McNicoll, was given authorisation from the Australian Government to form a volunteer defence force to be known as the New Guinea Volunteer Rifles. NGVR members were public servants, merchants, bankers, business men, members of the Christian missions, miners, prospectors, traders and plantation owners, managers or associated employees.

  • Bita Paka Cemetery - This peaceful and beautiful cemetery contains the graves of over 1000 Allied war dead and The Rabaul Memorial commemorating those who have no known grave. The cemetery is maintained by the Office of Australian War Graves, Department of Veterans' Affairs, on behalf of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

  • Coast Watching Organisation, Royal Australian Navy - The Coast Watching Organisation was developed by the Naval Intelligence Division of the Royal Australian Navy to provide information of any enemy activity in or near Australia.

  • Lark Force - In 1941 a small Australian Army garrison of approximately 1,400 personnel was sent to Rabaul, New Britain to garrison the outpost, protect its airfields and seaplane anchorages and act as a link in a chain of observation posts across the northern frontiers.

  • Montevideo Maru - Over 1,000 soldiers and civilians from New Britain, New Ireland and surrounding islands died in the sinking of the Montevideo Maru off Luzon on 1st July 1942.

  • New Guinea Police Force (European Constabulary) (1921 - 1942) - A list of warrant officers in New Britain and New Ireland at the time of the Japanese invasion in 1942 compiled by Maxwell R. Hayes, Inspector (First Class), Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary 1959 to 1974.

  • Parkinson, Phebe Clothilde (1864 - 1944) - Daughter of the American Consul at Apia and grand-daughter of a Samoan chief, Phebe was married to the German scientist Richard Parkinson at age 16. In the 1880s, Richard and Phebe came to New Britain and settled on the Gazelle Peninsula to help her sister, 'Queen' Emma, establish coconut plantations.

  • Rabaul 1942-45 Memorial (1993 - ) - On 16 September 1993, the Rabaul 1942-45 Memorial was unveiled on the shores of Simpson Harbour. Peter Stone writes in Hostages to Freedom: 'The bronze plaque measuring 4-ft by 3-ft, commemorates all Australian forces who served in East New Britain, in particular those members of Lark Force. ... The memorial was paid for by donations and unit funds and a $1000 contribution from the Australian Government.'

  • Rabaul 600 - Six hundred sick men of the Royal Artillery were taken from Changi, Singapore in October 1942 and transported to Rabaul. On 7th September 1945 eighteen survivors were liberated from Watom Island by the Australian Navy (HMAS Vendetta). Colin Docketty's father was one of them and here Colin describes his visit to Rabaul in 2002.

  • ToRot, Peter (1912 - 1945) - Peter ToRot was a Catholic catechist killed by the Japanese in 1945. In 1995, he became the first indigenous person of Oceania to be beatified.


Edited Books

  • Official Handbook of the Territory of New Guinea, Commonwealth Government Printer, Canberra, 1938, 551 pp.

See also

  • Douglas Fetherling, 'Living on the Edge: Death by Degree as a Town Awaits its Next Big Volcano', The Ottawa Citizen, 29 March 1998, p. D16.


  • Horrors in Wrecked Rabaul [Newspaper Article]
    Date: October 1945  Source: Pacific Islands Monthly, Pacific Publications, Sydney, 1931-2000.

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Created by Joanne and Jenny Evans, July 2002. Updated 29 May 2011