Research Document #12
|The Bones Chronology|
|This document is provided on this web site as a matter of general interest and to aid in research by individuals. No permission to reproduce it or transmit it is implied or granted.|
The following is a chronology of known events and correspondence from April 1940 to October 1941 based upon documents of the Western Pacific High Commission (W.P.H.C.), the Gilbert & Ellice Islands Colony (G. & E. I. C.) and Phoenix Islands Settlement Scheme (P.I.S.S.). Included are:
Each date when something happened is underlined and numbered.
A brief description of the British administrative organization in the region will make the correspondence more clear. The central governing authority for all islands of the western Pacific, with the exception of those territories governed by Australia, New Zealand and the Colony of Fiji “and not being within the jurisdiction of any other civilized power” was the Western Pacific High Commission headquartered in Suva, Fiji. The principal administrative units overseen by the W.P.H.C. were:
The senior official in the W.P.H.C. was the High Commissioner who answered directly to the Secretary of State in London and exercised sweeping powers within his jurisdiction. His immediate lieutenant was the Secretary, and each colony had its own Resident Commissioner. The Resident Commissioner for the Gilbert & Ellice Islands Colony was headquartered on Ocean Island. The colony was subdivided into several districts, each administered by an Administrative Officer, also known as a District Officer.
Transportation between Suva and the colonies, and within the colonies, was sporadic at best. During the time in question, most of the travel needs of the Gilbert & Ellice Islands Colony were met by a refurbished, motorized sailing vessel known as the Royal Colony Ship (RCS) Nimanoa.
Inter-island communication was generally carried out by radio in Morse code and delivered in the form of telegrams. There was no voice radio. It is important to remember that not all parties were privy to all of the correspondence. Authorities in Suva did not see intra-colony communications that passed between Ocean Island and Tarawa or the Phoenix Islands. Similarly, the Resident Commissioner did not see correspondence which passed directly between the Phoenix Islands and Suva. We do not, at this point, have the messages that passed between Ocean Island and district headquarters within the colony (such as Tarawa and Beru). These may be in the archives in Tarawa.
The physical files in Suva, and presumably elsewhere, were comprised of a heavy paper folder containing copies of all pertinent correspondence along with chronologically entered “minutes” typed or handwritten on sheets of paper at the front of the file. Much of the most useful information in the W.P.H.C. files is contained in these minutes; however, we do not have the minutes from the file found in Tarawa. Each piece of correspondence is assigned a number (written with a circle around it) chronologically as it comes in and is thus referred to in the minutes. Each entry in the minutes is assigned a number chronologically (written in parenthesis) and is thus referred to in subsequent minutes.
Barley, Jack Charles — Resident Commissioner of G.& E.I.C. from Oct. 18, 1933 through his retirement on Dec. 19, 1941. Born 1887. 54 in 1941.
Gallagher, Gerald Bernard “Irish” — Officer-in-Charge, P.I.S.S., Gardner Island Born 1912. 29 in 1941.
Holland, Francis George Leopold — Acting Resident Commissioner, Ocean Island from Sept. 24, 1940 to January 4, 1941. Born 1884. 57 in 1941.
Hoodless, Dr. D. W. — Principal of the Central Medical School, Suva, Fiji.
Isaac, Dr. Lindsay — Acting Senior Medical Officer, Central Hospital, Tarawa Born 1907. 34 in 1941. 91 if still alive.
Koata— Native Magistrate, Gardner Island.
Luke, Sir Harry Charles — High Commissioner of the Western Pacific, Suva, Fiji Born 1884. 57 in 1941.
Macdonald, Patrick Donald “Paddy” — Assistant Secretary, W.P.H.C. Born 1909. 32 in 1941. 89 if still alive.
Macpherson, Dr. Duncan Campbell McEwan “Jock” — Central Medical Authority, W.P.H.C. Born in 1900. 41 in 1941. Died in 1943.
Nasmyth, Commander G. B. — F. R. Met. Soc. (Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society).
Steenson, Dr. Kingsley Rupert— Senior Medical Officer, Gilbert & Ellice Islands Colony, July ’41. Born 1895. 46 in 1941. 103 if still alive.
Vaskess, Henry Harrison — Secretary of Western Pacific High Commission, Suva, Fiji Born 1891. 49 in 1941. 108 if still alive.
Wernham, David — Acting Administrative Officer, Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony, Tarawa, September 1940. Same generation as Gallagher; now deceased.
(entries 1 through 10)
1. ca. April 1940
2. August 4, 1940
3. “Early” September, 1940
4. September 23, 1940
The Acting Administrative Officer in Tarawa at this time is Wernham.
4a. Sept. 23, 1940
The timing of this telegram is interesting. Barley, the R.C., goes on leave the very next day (24th Sept.) and the colony’s Director of Education, Francis Holland, takes over as Acting Resident Commissioner and remains in that post until 4th January 1941 when Barley returns. It is Holland who later notifies Suva of Gallagher’s discovery.
September 30, 1940
6. October 1, 1940
This telegram is logged in WPHC 4/II/33, WPHC, correspondence register 1940, under the G&E I C tab, number 4439. Received October 2, 1940.
6a. October 1, 1940
October 2, 1940
October 3, 1940
October 6, 1940
October 9, 1940
October 10, 1940