Vale Rev Peter Holloway - Warrior-Priest

Rev Peter Holloway, who died in the early hours of this morning, aged 92, was one of the heroes of the Kokoda campaign in WWII and a minister for 64 years.

Peter was raised on a dairy farm in Bairnsdale Victoria, schooled at Ivanhoe Anglican Grammar School and initially became a bank officer in 1937. He began studying for holy orders shortly afterward. When World War II broke out, he sought and received permission from his Bishop to enlist. He volunteered for the famous militia unit, the 39th Australian Infantry Battalion, not as a padre but as a Digger.

Peter and his comrades arrived in Moresby on 4 January 1942 on the SS Aquitania and spent five months building defences for 7 Mile Airport (modern-day Jackson’s Airport). In July he was transferred to 30 Brigade HQ where he celebrated his 21st birthday helping to prepare the ‘biscuit bombing’ (supplying food and ammunition to the troops) by Dakotas over Myola on the Kokoda Track.

In November 1942, Peter fought in the Beachheads Campaign around Buna, Gona, and Sanananda. There he contracted malaria and scrub typhus and his health was badly affected. In April 1944 he was eventually medically discharged from the Army.

Peter returned to his studies and retrained at Ridley Theological College. He was ordained a priest in 1948 and held multiple posts including Rector of the Parish of Boort (1957),Vicar of Parish of Chelsea (1963), Vicar of Parish of Strathmore (1969), full-time chaplain at Melbourne Airport (1973), and Vice President of the International Association Civil Aviation Chaplains (1976).

Peter returned twice to Papua New Guinea after the war, most recently in July 2009, when he visited Port Moresby, Owers Corner, Milne Bay, Kokoda, Gona, Sanananda, Buna, Awala, Doboduru, Rabaul, and Atherton Tablelands in North Queensland.

Peter was a Life Member of the 39th Battalion Association, one of its board members and the editor of the Association newsletter, The Good Guts.

In October 2011, aged 90, Peter delivered an unforgettable address at our annual Ralph Honner Leadership Oration, the first by a Kokoda veteran. He reflected on the motto of the 39th Battalion ‘Factis non verbis’ – ‘actions, not words’.

The Foundation’s Kokoda College will preserve the memory of Peter and his comrades in its motto, translated into tok pisin, ‘Wokim ino Tok Tok’.