Hubert Barham was an engineer who gave thirteen years of service to the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Solomon Islands in the first half of the twentieth century.
Hubert Ernest Barham was born in Williamstown, suburban Melbourne, Victoria, on January 7, 1897, to Mary Gertrude (Burch) and Thomas Robert Barham.1 He had four siblings, Tessie, Roy, Allan, and Eric. Mary became a Seventh-day Adventist while living in Wangaratta, Victoria, and raised her children in the faith.2
In 1917 Hubert attempted selling Heralds of the Morning but did not get many orders.3 He waited until September 1919 and entered the three-year nurses’ training course at the Sydney Sanitarium,4 graduating in 1922.5 While doing his training he met Olive May Cawse, who had started her training course in 1920 but was unsuccessful,6 and instead found employment in the Sydney Vegetarian Café. After his graduation Hubert continued to work at the sanitarium, waiting for an appointment to mission service in the Pacific Islands. He received his appointment when the Australasian Division Council met in September 1925, nominating him to proceed to the Solomon Islands.7 Prior to embarkation Hubert and Olive married in the Wahroonga church on Sunday, September 6, 1925.8
Service in the Solomon Islands
Two weeks after his wedding Hubert sailed from Sydney and disembarked in the Solomon Islands.9 Olive followed five months later.10 From the outset it was clear that Hubert was appointed for his engineering skills,11 something he had apparently acquired prior to his training as a nurse. He and Olive therefore happily settled at Batuna, the headquarters station on the Marovo Lagoon, where there was situated a printing press, a training school, a marine workshop, and slipways for the mission boats and a small fully staffed hospital. Hubert was given charge of the Melanesia, ferrying supplies and personnel from station to station and, at times, conducting communion services during his travels.12
Hubert and Olive returned to Australia in 1928 for their first furlough, arriving just weeks too late to see his mother, who died in August 1928.13 When they returned to Batuna, Hubert resumed his work with the mission boats and any other engineering work required on the station. He undoubtedly had a hand in building the 35-foot (10.7-meter) mission boat Vinaritokae (meaning Everybody Helped) at Batuna in 1931.14 In 1934 Hubert, Olive, and little daughter Vella, together with a crew, set out in the Vinaritokae to pick up mail and supplies. A fierce storm overtook them near Ughele, Rendova Island, casting the boat onto a reef. Everyone on board became badly lacerated while scrambling over the reef and swimming to shore. Some days later the boat was floated off the reef and taken back to the Batuna slipway for Hubert to make repairs.15
Unlike his fellow missionaries, Hubert rarely published his activities in the church periodicals. He was preoccupied with the boats and his engineering work. However, he did write one article to be used as a Sabbath School human interest mission story about a little-known Solomon Island worker named Zarosopi, who was always whistling hymns.16 Another was an article about his beloved mission boats, urging church members to donate generously for the purchase of new boats to replace the underpowered vessels.17
Hubert and family returned to Australia late in 1937 for furlough, and he was replaced by another engineer. His 13 years of service at that time was the longest period given in Pacific Island mission work by an engineer.18 His valued contribution was all the more remarkable because he was not a robust man, diminutive in stature, yet one who applied most of his energies to practical work so that the headquarters station at Batuna ran smoothly. His was a pivotal role. Without him the Solomon Islands mission activities would have been brought to a standstill.19
Permanent Return to Australia
With no prospects offered for a return to the Solomon Islands, Hubert found employment in Brisbane and later settled in Burringbar, New South Wales. He died in Sydney on February 13, 1958, and was buried in Rookwood Necropolis.20 Olive lived to be 104 years of age, dying on July 31, 2002, at the Adventist hostel, Victoria Point, Queensland. Vella predeceased her.21
“A Mission Boat on the Rocks.” Australasian Record, October 1, 1934.
Barham, H[ubert] E. “From a Letter.” Australasian Record, November 29, 1926.
———. “Letter From the Solomons.” Missionary Leader, October 1934.
———. “Whistling Zarosopi.” Missionary Leader, September 1928.
Bartlett, Selwyn, and Gordon Oaklands. “Olive May Barham.” Record, September 14, 2002.
“Brother H.B.P. Wicks . . .” Australasian Record, September 28, 1925.
“By the ‘Melusia,’ which leaves Sydney . . .” Australasian Record, February 1, 1926.
Craddock, Tho[ma]s H. “Mary Gertrude Barham.” Australasian Record, September 3, 1928.
District of Melbourne. Birth Certificates. Victorian Government Department of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, Melbourne, Victoria.
“Monthly Summary of Australasian Colportage (sic) Work.” Australasian Record, December 3, 1917.
Olive Cawse Biographical Record. Sydney Adventist Hospital Archives, Wahroonga, NSW. Electronic Records. Document File: “Olive Cawse.”
Photograph, Australasian Record, December 11, 1922.
Radley, Rose-Marie, Captain Jack Radley and the Heyday of the Fleet. Warburton, VIC: Signs Publishing Company, 2018.
[Smart, A(lbert)]. “Barham-Cawse.” Australasian Record, September 21, 1925.
Stewart, A[ndrew] G. “Hubert Ernest Barham.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, March 17, 1958.
“The management of the Sydney Sanitarium . . .” Australasian Record, October 27, 1919.
Turner, W. G[ordon]. “Council Proceedings.” Australasian Record, September 14, 1925.
“We regret to learn of the death . . .” Australasian Record, September 3, 1928.
Wicks, H[arold] B.P. “To the Solomon Islands Again After Furlough.” Australasian Record, January 4, 1926.
Wrigley, C[harles] A. “Mary Gertrude Barham.” Australasian Record, September 3, 1928.
District of Melbourne, Certificate of Birth no. 7429 (1897), Victorian Government Department of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, Melbourne, Victoria.↩
Tho[ma]s H. Craddock, “Mary Gertrude Barham,” Australasian Record, September 3, 1928, 7.↩
“Monthly Summary of Australasian Colportage (sic) Work,” Australasian Record, December 3, 1917, 5.↩
“The management of the Sydney Sanitarium . . .” Australasian Record, October 27, 1919, 8.↩
Photograph, Australasian Record, December 11, 1922, 5, 6.↩
Olive Cawse Biographical Record, Sydney Adventist Hospital Archives, Wahroonga, NSW (Electronic Records: Document File: “Olive Cawse”).↩
W. G[ordon] Turner, “Council Proceedings,” Australasian Record, September 14, 1925, 3, 4.↩
[A(lbert) Smart], “Barham-Cawse,” Australasian Record, September 21, 1925, 7.↩
“Brother H.B.P. Wicks . . .” Australasian Record, September 28, 1925, 8.↩
“By the ‘Melusia,’ which leaves Sydney . . .” Australasian Record, February 1, 1926, 8.↩
H[arold] B.P. Wicks, “To the Solomon Islands Again After Furlough,” Australasian Record, January 4, 1926, 3.↩
H[ubert] E. Barham, “From a Letter,” Australasian Record, November 29, 1926, 3.↩
“We regret to learn of the death . . .” Australasian Record, September 3, 1928, 8; C[harles] A. Wrigley, “Mary Gertrude Barham,” Australasian Record, September 3, 1928, 7.↩
Rose-Marie Radley, Captain Jack Radley and the Heyday of the Fleet (Warburton, VIC: Signs Publishing Company, 2018), 145–147.↩
“A Mission Boat on the Rocks,” Australasian Record, October 1, 1934, 8.↩
H[ubert] E. Barham, “Whistling Zarosopi,” Missionary Leader, September 1928, 6, 7.↩
H[ubert] E. Barham, “Letter From the Solomons,” Missionary Leader, October 1934, 7.↩
A[ndrew] G. Stewart, Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, March 17, 1958, 7.↩
Selwyn Bartlett and Gordon Oaklands, “Olive May Barham,” Record, September 14, 2002, 13.↩