The Samoa (N.Z.) Expeditionary Force 1914–1915
Chapter XXII. — Relief at Last
Relief at Last.
But relief came at last, and on 8th March the long-looked-for radiogram arrived ordering the embarkation of 500 men for New Zealand. Apia immediately became a hive of cheerful activity. A Medical Board sorted out the unfits, who were to be the first to leave, and a selection was made from the remainder to fill the quota. Three nursing sisters were also recalled, and later became the three senior matrons of the Nursing Service which left New Zealand with the first nurses for Egypt. All heavy baggage was carted to the waterfront and lightered to the ship, and on the 12th the barges were once more filled with the troops. They embarked without mishap and by nightfall had disappeared around Faleula Point homeward bound, leaving many a comrade disconsolate.
On 3rd April the relief arrived, 360 strong. Troops and horses disembarked with much willing assistance and proceeded page 131at once to their several quarters and took over from the remnants of the Force.
Last good-byes were said and packs were packed with many gifts of native curios from European and Native friends, and for the last time the Regimental Band headed the Samoan Expeditionary Force as it marched away.
As the troopship slipped from her moorings and headed across the calm, moonlit waters of the bay and through the reef entrance, carrying its burden of homebound troops, there was many a pang of regret at leaving those beautiful shores and the good friendships made. And all around the bay bonfires were observed, lit by the natives as a parting tribute to the New Zealanders whom they had learned to love and respect in the six months that they had spent together, while across the tropic night came sweetly the refrain of that haunting and ever-to-be-remembered native song of farewell, "Tofa ma Feleni."page break