Salvos honour close links to mural depicting WWII tragedy
The Salvation Army played a significant role in the recent launch of a mural in the small northern Victoria town of Stanhope.
The mural depicts the Japanese ship, the Montevideo Maru, which was sunk by an Allied submarine in World War Two. All on board drowned, including 1054 Australian prisoners of war and all the Japanese crew. The ship was not marked as a POW carrier.
Among the victims were 16 Salvation Army bandsmen, including bandmaster Arthur Gullidge, who were serving with the 2-22 Battalion Military Band.
The mural, painted by local artist Tim Bowtell, was the concept of the Stanhope RSL Sub-branch.
At the weekend, following a two-week search in the South China Sea, the wreck of the Montevideo Maru was discovered by an international research team at a depth of 4000 metres. Full story at the end of this article.
Stanhope RSL Sub-branch president Phil Chapman led the mural launch ceremony on Saturday 15 April.
Many members of The Salvation Army took part. Captain Jacky Targett, Corps Officer at nearby Kyabram, shared a prayer, her husband Lynton Targett played ‘The Last Post’, and the Preston Salvation Army band played music written by Arthur Gullidge and other hymns.
Lindsay Cox, The Salvation Army Museum manager, was the guest speaker, giving a historical account of the 2-22 Battalion Military Band and events surrounding the tragedy on 1 July 1942.
Stanhope RSL Sub-branch Secretary George Gemmill also gave a summary of the sinking of the ship and named some of the region’s families who were connected with those on board the ship who lost their lives.
More than 200 people were present, with many families and RSL branch members laying floral tributes in memory.
This is an edited version of an article that appeared in the Shepparton News
Wreck of Montevideo Maru discovered
By BARRY GITTINS
Eighty-one years after the Montevideo Maru was sunk during World War Two (1 July 1942) an international research team has discovered its remains 4000 metres below the waves following a two-week search in the South China Sea.
The vessel was enroute to Hainen, in Japanese-occupied China, when the US submarine Sturgeon fired four torpedoes, sinking the craft in less than 11 minutes. Unmarked for its purpose, the ship was carrying 1054 prisoners of war. They included 980 Australian troops and 74 civilians of a variety of nationalities. This loss remains Australia’s largest maritime tragedy. Those 11-minutes of terror, heartbreak and struggle represent twice the loss of life sustained by our countrymen during the entirety of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War. The fate of those lost on the Montevideo Maru was unknown to their loved ones until well after the end of the war. The search team has stated that the wreckage will be left unmolested, as befitting the gravesite of more than 1000 people. No human remains or artefacts will be removed from this final resting place.
The ship is the final resting place of 16 Salvation Army Bandsmen (plus 2 non-Salvo Bandsmen) enlisted into the 2/22nd Band.
The Salvation Army bandsmen were: Ray Cairns (cornet) - Moreland Corps. Ken Drew (tenor horn) - Northcote Corps. Albert Fry ( drummer) - Petersham Corps. Arthur Gullidge (bandmaster) - Brunswick Corps. Harry Harvey (cornet) - Brunswick Corps. Tom Henderson (Bb bass) - Brunswick Corps. Mervyn McPherson (euphonium) - Hobart Corps. Frank Meddings (flugel horn) - Geelong Corps. Herb Morgan (tenor horn) - Fairfield Corps. Harold Pannell (tenor horn) -Camberwell Corps. Stan Parker (Bb bass) - Moreland Corps. Stan Robertson (cornet) - Thornbury Corps. Neil Smith (cornet) - Mordialloc Corps. Morrie Thomas (Bb bass) - Preston Corps. Wilfred Trigg (cornet) - Geelong Corps. Reg Watkins (trombone) - Brunswick Corps.
Two non-Salvationist bandsmen who also perished: Bill Edwards (drummer) - Church of England. Jim Thurst (cornet) - Methodist.