New Zealand in German Samoa

On 29 August 1914, New Zealand troops arrived in Samoa and seized it from German control. This turned out to be a reasonably simple expedition but at the time it was regarded as potentially risky, with unknown consequences.

Samoa had been under German rule since 1900, but the presence of Germany in Samoa predates this. In 1855 Germany expanded its trading into the Pacific, initiating large-scale production of coconut, cacao and hevea rubber in Samoa (then known as the Navigator Islands). America and the United Kingdom also had business interests in the Pacific and opposed the German activity, which lead to the Second Samoan Civil War in 1899. Following this war, the Samoan islands were divided between the three opposing powers, with Germany being awarded what is today known as Western Samoa. It became regarded as the ‘jewel’ of German colonialism.

At the outbreak of war in 1914, Samoa was of moderate strategic importance to Germany. Using the radio transmitter located in the hills above Apia, German troops were able to send Morse code signals to Berlin, as well as communicate with the 90 warships in Germany’s naval fleet. Britain wanted this threat neutralised and New Zealand agreed to seize Samoa from Germany.

officers
Officers attached to the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, Samoa. Tattersall, Alfred James, 1866-1951 :Photographs of Samoa. Ref: PAColl-3062-3-18. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23195986

New Zealand troops departed from Wellington on the morning of Saturday 15 August in two ships, Monowai and Moeraki. These two ships had been requisitioned from the Union Steam Ship Company as transports, and were therefore slow and unarmed. These two unlikely war ships left the New Zealand convoy extremely vulnerable as they travelled to Samoa, especially as the location of the German East Asia Squadron was unknown to the Allies throughout their two week journey.

moeraki
S S Moeraki leaving Wellington. Dickie, John, 1869-1942 :Collection of postcards, prints and negatives. Ref: 1/1-002258-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22460165

When the New Zealand convoy reached French New Caledonia, they were joined by the Royal Australian Navy’s battlecruiser HMAS Australia, the light cruiser HMAS Melbourne and the French armoured cruiser Montcalm. While the landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 is acknowledged as the birth of the Anzac legend, the first Australian–New Zealand military operation of the First World War was actually the capture of German Samoa in August 1914.

landing
Tattersall, Alfred James, 1866-1951. New Zealand troops landing in Samoa during World War I. Making New Zealand :Negatives and prints from the Making New Zealand Centennial collection. Ref: MNZ-0366-1/4-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22716395

Upon reaching Samoa, it became known to the New Zealand convoy that the German defences there were in fact quite weak; they had only 20 troops and special constables armed with 50 aging rifles. The Samoa Advance Party of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force landed at Apia on 29 August with no opposition. It was later discovered that the German administration had received orders from Berlin not to oppose an Allied invasion.

camp
Part of camp, Malifa, Western Samoa. Hackworth, Philip Vernon, d 1960 :Photograph album. Ref: PA1-q-107-36-2. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22806414

A fortnight later, on 14 September, the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau arrived off Apia and the New Zealand garrison braced itself for large-calibre gunfire. Luckily, the cruisers left once their skippers realised that Samoa was no longer in German hands. Samoa was then declared to be under a New Zealand-run British military occupation. The British flag was raised outside the government building in Apia and Samoa became the second German territory, after Togoland in Africa, to fall to the Allies in the First World War.

troops
Star Boating Club :Photograph of members of the club who went to Samoa with Expeditionary Force, 1914.. Ref: PAColl-5216. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22348195

If you would like to learn more about New Zealand in German Samoa, we have some materials available:

Syndetics book coverFighting for empire: New Zealand and the Great War of 1914-1918 / Christopher Pugsley.
“One hundred thousand New Zealanders sailed to war between 1914 and 1918, and at the end of four years of conflict the country had suffered 60,000 casualties, including 18,000 dead. Dr Chris Pugsley’s account of the First World War (first published as a section in Scars on the Heart: 200 Years of NZ at War, Bateman, 1996), is a tale of learning about war the hard way, by bitter and costly experience, drawing on photographs, letters and diaries to examine the impact of war through the eyes of those involved. This lively mix of text, photographs and soldiers’ own accounts covers all aspects of the war: from NZ’s seizing German Samoa five days after war was declared, ANZAC Cove and Gallipoli, patriotism at home, Mounted Rifles in Sinai and Palestine, the role of our nurses, the Western Front, and ‘Sea Dogs and Flying Aces – how our sailors and airmen fought the war’.” (Syndetics summary)

THE SAMOA (N.Z.) EXPEDITIONARY FORCE
We have this book in our New Zealand Rare books collection. Published in 1924, it is in a fragile condition but may be viewed by request at the 2nd floor enquiries desk.

photoa 2photoa 1.jpga

Information sourced from NZ History and Wikipedia
Images sourced from Timeframes

World War I online resources for children Part 2

Over the next year many schools will have a World War One focus, requiring children to research some aspect of the war, or the war time era. The list of potential topics is long and the sheer amount of information available out there can be overwhelming. It can be difficult to know where to find reliable information that is age-appropriate for your children. Here we have created a guide to reputable online resources that are suitable for children. This is the second of three parts to be published. They will then be available as resources on one page, which we will provide a link to once it has gone live.

ANZAC Day


Landing at Anzac, April 25, 1915 by Charles Dixon’, URL: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/photo/the-landing-at-anzac-cove, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 30-Jul-2014
— New Zealand History provide information about the history of the day, the ceremony, and modern ANZAC day: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/war/anzac-day/introduction

— The government’s site for Gallipoli2015 (100 year anniversary) has information on the 2015 commemoration: http://www.gallipoli2015.govt.nz

— The government also runs an official site for ANZAC day with lots of good information: http://anzac.govt.nz

— The returned Services Association (RSA) has some brief information on ANZAC Day, and is good for finding out about what happens at an ANZAC Day service and where they are happening: http://www.rsa.org.nz/anzac-day-%E2%80%93-25-april

— For the Australian perspective, the Australian Army has a page with information: http://www.army.gov.au/Our-history/Traditions/ANZAC-Day and the Australian War Memorial has a site that includes speeches, photographs and historical facts: http://www.awm.gov.au/commemoration/anzac-day/

— Information about the red poppy can be found on the New Zealand History site: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/war/anzac-day/poppies, the RSA site: http://www.rsa.org.nz/poppy and the British RSL site: http://www.britishlegion.org.uk/remembrance/how-the-nation-remembers/the-story-of-the-poppy

New Zealand’s Involvement


Payne, Henry Joseph, 1858-1927. Payne, Henry Joseph, 1858-1927 :”Kia ora”. Hancock’s “Imperial” ale, stout. Calendar 1917.. Ref: Eph-D-WAR-WI-1917-02. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23095500
— Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand has a comprehensive section on the war from the New Zealand perspective: http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/first-world-war

— Similarly, New Zealand History has lots of information about our involvement in the war, including media such has campaign maps: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/war/nz-goes-to-war

— The National Army Museum website has stories about individual New Zealand Soldiers: http://www.armymuseum.co.nz/kiwis-at-war/voices-from-the-past/

ANZAC Poetry


McDuff, Laura, fl 2004. 1917 Souvenir de France. [Embroidered postcard to Olive McDuff from Lance/Sgt Walter Henry Saunders]. [Ephemera relating to World War I. 1917. Folder 1].. Ref: Eph-A-WAR-WI-1917-05. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23082261
— Australia’s ANZAC day site has a list of poetry with an ANZAC theme: http://www.anzacday.org.au/anzacservices/poetry/poetry01.htm

— The Australian War memorial site has 2 poems about the ANZACs: http://www.awm.gov.au/commemoration/customs/poems/

— New Zealand’s ANZAC Day site has an order of ceremony for ANZAC day: http://www.anzac.govt.nz/today/orderofceremony.html

— Wellington City Libraries’ review of poetry, memoirs and letters written during and about World War One: http://www.wcl.govt.nz/blog/index.php/2014/07/16/the-pen-and-the-sword-first-world-war-poetry-letters-and-memoirs/

Children are also welcome to chat live with an online librarian, who will help them with their research and finding online resources. AnyQuestions is a government-funded homework help service for New Zealand School Students. It’s open 1pm – 6pm Monday to Friday: http://www.anyquestions.co.nz

Anzac reflections – books from our closed stack

Anzac Day falls on Wednesday – a special day in the New Zealand calendar and one which is attracting increasing attention. Thousands of New Zealanders young and old visit Gallopoli, and many travel to the battlefields and war cemeteries of France, Belgium, Greece and Italy. Here at home the ranks of those attending Anzac Day services are swelling every year (even as the numbers of war veterans dwindle) – with many children taking part.

PoppyTo mark this day in a literary way, we’ve scoured our stackroom shelves for a few gems you might be interested in — have a browse!

(Please note – although these books are from our closed stack, they are able to be borrowed. Ask at any reference desk at the Central Library and a librarian will retrieve them for you!)

The desert war, by Alan Moorehead. (1965)
“Alan Moorehead was sent to cover the North Africa campaign in 1940 by the Daily Express, and he followed its dramatic course all the way to 1943. The three books he subsequently wrote about his experiences – collected here as The Desert War – were swiftly acclaimed as classic accounts of the tussle between Montgomery’s Eighth Army and Rommel’s Afrika Corps, amidst the endless harsh wastes of the Western Desert. It was Moorehead who was responsible for the celebrated insight that tank battles in the desert are like battles at sea, the lumbering tanks like ships lost in a vast ocean of sand. The New Statesman could not have put it better when it described his achievement in this riveting book: ‘There is something of genius in the breadth and penetration of his vision which encompasses the whole panorama of war and then narrows it down to the particular: the soldier stubbing out his cigarette before going into action, the expression on a tank commander’s face as he is hit . . . The story of the African campaigns will go down in history as one of the great epics of mankind, largely thanks to Mr Moorehead’s account.” (Summary from globalbooksinprint.com)

The painted years / by Peter McIntyre ; illustrated by the author. (1962)
“In 1941,when the English-speaking world was still stunned by the fall of Crete, a series of paintings was reproduced in the New Zealand press and in “The Illustrated London News” that portrayed the battle in dramatic reality. The paintings were the work of the New Zealand Official War Artist, Captain Peter McIntyre, lately appointed to that position by General Freyberg. Ahead were the momentous desert battles of the New Zealand Division, a remarkable journey with the Long Range Desert Group, and the weary slog through Italy, from which campaigns came a flow of compelling war paintings” (Adapted from summary on book jacket)

Bernard Freyberg, VC : soldier of two nations / Paul Freyberg. (1991)
One of Peter Mcintyre’s portraits of General Freyberg features on the cover of this book. The charismatic soldier fought in both wars and for both Britain and New Zealand, becoming the Commander of the New Zealand Division when the Second World War began. A hero in the classical mould, he was athletic, oustandingly brave, (he won four DSOs and the VC), intelligent and humane, and always concerned for the safety and welfare of his troops. His son Paul has written a worthy biography of this great man.

The trumpet in the hall, 1930-1958, by Bernard Fergusson. (1970)
Bernard Fergusson was a soldier, an intellectual and a romantic. He arrived at Sandhurst in 1930 and was subsequently commissioned into The Black watch, by which time he realised he had found his true vocation. He was General Wavell’s ADC, served in Palestine ,Syria and Turkey before joining Orde Wingate in his arduous campaigns in Burma.The book is an affirmation of his faith in and love for an ancient institution with all its values and traditions, but by no means an uncritical one. Bernard Fergusson ended his army career in 1958 and subsequently became Governor-General of New Zealand. a distinction he shared with Bernard Freyberg.

HISTORIC TRENTHAM, 1914-1917 (1917)
This delightfully nostalgic book is a stack gem. Produced in 1917 to “give some inkling to the civilian mind of what a sodier’s life in a New Zealand training camp is like and at the same time an opportunity has been taken of writing briefly the story of Trentham camp. Very many of the heroes of Gallipoli, France, Mesopoamia and Egypt were trained at Trentham.” It contains black and white line drawings and chapter ornamentations. Bracing jingoistic verses head each chapter and are scattered throughout the book. There are many many photographs of the men and daily activities at the camp, but looking at the serried ranks of serious, steadfast soldiers in the regimental photographs it is impossible not to think of the fate that awaited so many of them.

Continue reading “Anzac reflections – books from our closed stack”

ANZAC Day – Your Ancestors’ Military Past

GenealogyInterested in researching your family history?
From time to time we’ll be posting genealogy facts and advice here on the News Blog.
For other blog entries on genealogy, click on the tag “genealogy” at the bottom of this post.

Australians and New Zealanders know ANZAC day – 25th April – as a national day of remembrance to honour members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I.

Did you have a relative who took part in WW1? Would you like to read their Military Personnel Record?

Military records can provide amazing details for genealogists, especially ages and places of birth, while they can also expand family histories with information about campaigns, conduct and even physical descriptions of ancestors.

Continue reading “ANZAC Day – Your Ancestors’ Military Past”