Sister May HaymanPrint Page Print this page


The window commemorates Sister May Hayman who was on the staff of the Canberra Hospital and was a regular parishioner of St John’s before joining the New Guinea Mission in 1936. She was martyred in New Guinea during World War Two.

Sister Hayman was based at Gona, which had its own mission, school and hospital. She had been in charge of the hospital since 1939. Originally from Adelaide, she went to Papua in 1937 after nursing service that included Canberra. Teaching at the Gona mission school was Miss Mavis Parkinson, from Ipswich. She was to meet the same terrible fate with May Hayman.

As soon as Japan entered the war it was realised the missionaries on Papua’s north-east coast would be in extreme danger. That risk intensified when Japanese forces made their initial landing at Buna, not far from Gona, on July 21 1942 . They were heading for the Kokoda Track, with Port Moresby their aim. By July 22 they were in Gona.  Sister Hayman and Mavis Parkinson had promised their bishop that if there was a Japanese landing they would head for an inland mission.

The women managed to get away and were in hiding near a place called Siai. One report, however, said a local sorcerer threatened to kill all Europeans, saying they were a threat to the villagers. May Hayman and Mavis Parkinson were found and betrayed to the Japanese. They were taken to a coffee plantation near Popondetta where graves had been dug - and they were repeatedly bayoneted.

The exact date of their deaths hasn’t been recorded, but it was believed to have been late August 1942. After the Japanese withdrawal the bodies were exhumed, in January, 1943, and reinterred at Sangara.

At St. John's Church tonight Bishop Burgmann will dedicate a stained glass window in memory of Sister May Hayman, who was killed by the Japanese at Gona whilst engaged on mission work during the war. The service will coincide with the 108th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone of the Church. Sister Hayman was for many years a member of the staff of Canberra Hospital prior to volunteering for mission service.

The stained glass window, which is a gift from the congregation, and is contained in the nave wall, pictures Sister Hayman in her uniform, and the head of a Papuan, among whom she was working at the time of the Japanese invasion.
The Canberra Times, 11th May 1949, Port Lincoln Times (SA), 9th June 1949.


Address:45 Constitution Avenue, St John the Baptist Anglican Church, Reid, 2612
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -35.287619
Long: 149.140224
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Window
Monument Theme:People
Designer:William Bustard (Brisbane, QLD)


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Wednesday 11th May, 1949
Front Inscription

In loving memory of May Hayman

Nurse   Missionary  Martyr

Papua  1942

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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