Tuesday, 18 June 2013

RIP Rev Peter Holloway

Family, friends and comrades of the 39th battalion said goodbye to Rev Peter Holloway today at St Paul's Church in Westmeadows.  He was then laid to rest in Bulla.  RIP Peter.  

Peter was a fellow member of the 39th Battalion.  He officiated at Jim Cowey's funeral in 1968.

The KTF website wrote: 
"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."

This is a photo of Peter with my kids at the 70th Kokoda Day commemorations at The Shrine last year. Inset is Peter during WW2, a young man full of life and love.  Peter quietly celebrated his 21st birthday while preparing biscuit bombers to support Australia's fight against the Japanese on the Kokoda Track.  He was one of the older young blokes (some were 18 and 19), but they were all young when you compared them to Jim Cowey who was 52 at the time.  Peter fought with the 39th Battalion in the bitter beachhead battles of Buna, Gona and Sanananda, in the final stages of the campaign.  By that stage Jim was back home in Australia, debilitated from his efforts spent on the Kokoda Track.

After the war Peter ministered religion as an Anglican priest for 64 years.  It was in his capacity as Vicar of the Chelsea parish in Melbourne, the parish where Jim's son David Cowey worshipped, that Peter was asked to give Jim Cowey his "send off" at the Springvale Crematorium.

Peter returned to Kokoda twice in the latter years of his life. During his last time at Ower's Corner in 2009, he was approached by a trekker who had just completed the arduous pilgrimage over the Owen Stanley Range. She recognised him as a Digger of the Papuan campaign, hugged him, thanked him, and emotionally proclaimed "I did this for you!".
Peter replied, 

We did it for you.

Peter's generation, and the one before, were something else!   That story took my breath away, the way Peter so elegantly surmised the enormous sacrifice our countrymen made for us in one of the most significant battles for Australia.  It brought tears to my eyes.
It was lovely to have known Rev Peter Holloway and I will miss his editorials in the 39th Battalion Association publication "The Good Guts".  I will miss his loving, thoughtful remarks at Kokoda Day and the way he led the prayers and the spirituality of the Association.  Rev Peter Holloway was demonstratively passionate as he actively commemorated his comrades and fought to ensure their sacrifice would not be forgotten, especially those who never came home.  Lest we forget.

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