The Samoa (N.Z.) Expeditionary Force 1914–1915
Chapter XI. — Settling Down in Occupation
Settling Down in Occupation.
The Native officials were reinstated in their former positions, and the German Government officials, having given their parole, were allowed for the time being to remain in office. Transports Nos. 1 and 2 sailed for New Zealand and Suva respectively, the former taking back a detachment of 78 men, many of whom were really never fit for service, as well as ex-Governor Schultz and two ex-members of the wireless staff. The majority of the Fiji Contingent were also embarked. The "Monowai" had been hurriedly returned to Fiji for rice, it having been ascertained that rations for coolies on the plantations, owing to the break in the usual bi-monthly steamer service from Auckland and Sydney, were perilously low. Through an oversight the right section of the N.Z.F.A., who had been left aboard to assist in discharging the ship, were not disembarked and were taken back to Suva to be returned some days later.
All warships left the port excepting "Philomel."
A bungalow on the waterfront, owned by the German firm, was occupied as a temporary hospital by the Field Ambuiance, and temporary stations for sick parades were established.
On the Sunday the wireless station had been so far repaired that it was able to receive, though not to send, messages, but by 2nd September, with valuable assistance from Sapper Maynardm, of the Engineers, and Gunner Beck, of the Battery, it had been partially repaired and a message giving particulars of the occupation was got through to Wellington via Pago Pago.
A narrow gauge railway had been constructed from the jetty at Apia to the wireless station, and a small petrol locomotive, capable of hauling ten tons, together with a supply of trucks, was found at Apia. Essential parts of the engine that page 72 had been removed by the Germans were soon recovered, and "N.Z.R." was painted upon the engine. With an expert crew of railwaymen the line became of considerable use from the day after the occupation. The bed was raised, ballasted, and the curves properly canted by trained platelayers and gangers, and a regular time-table put into use.
A second engine later became a necessity in view of the fact that new tracks were to be laid to connect the main camps. A motor, which had been taken out of a sea-going launch, was purchased from a local merchant. It was 25 h.p. but had developed impediments, and had refused to turn over for many months. But amongst the railwaymen was an expert mechanical engineer (Sapper C. E. S. Walker) who had served his time with Vickers, Sons and Maxim, and under his guidance the apparently page 73derelict motor became a locomotive capable of hauling as big a load as its Telefunken brother—a distinct feat of engineering.
A trip to the wireless station by the Apia Express soon became a recognised Sunday outing for the troops on leave.
The morning after arrival, and for many mornings following, the troops were roused at 4.30 a.m., and moved off quietly before daybreak to their stations. Wellingtons posted one company to protect Matautu Beach, with the remainder of the Regiment in reserve on the malae behind the native church on the water front. Aucklanders posted two platoons to guard the landing places from Vaea to Mulinu'u Point, with the remainder on Vaea Road, the Artillery stood to arms at the road junction near the Central Hotel, while the signallers joined Colonel Fulton's command. In these positions they remained until the patrols reported all dear. Outlying German planters were permitted to retain their arms for self-protection, it being considered the Force should run some risks in this direction rather than that European families should be placed at the mercy of the Chinese labourers who were showing signs of unrest.
Early on Sunday morning a German planter from an outlying plantation rode in post haste and reported mat the Chinese labourers on his plantation were rising. As there were some 3000 coolies in the Territory, it was thought advisable to nip any trouble of this description in the bud by a show of force, and a mounted patrol of the N.Z. Engineers, with a platoon of Wellingtons, were despatched hot-foot for the place and dispersed the gangs. A demonstration of how the Native Police handled the coolies had been given the previous day, when, on the firing of the first gun of the salute to the flag, sme hundreds of Chinese, who had gathered in the vicinity, commenced a wild rush through the town. Some six Native Police, finely-built, huge men, charged the rabble, and with boots and fists, dispersed them to the four winds.
At 10 a.m. on the day following the occupation the "Philomel" left port under full steam for Tonga in the belief, from Telefunken calls received, that the German ships were approaching. This left the troops unattended in occupation.page 74
By 2nd September enough had been learned to enable sites to be chosen for the various units, and two main camps were established, one at the Racecourse some half-mile inland from Matautu Beach, and the other at Vaea, a mile distant inland from the Western end of the Bay.
Colonel Turner was appointed to command the Racecourse Camp, which contained, besides the Wellingtons, the Engineers, and a detachment of the A.S.C. and Medical Corps.
Vaea was placed in command of Colonel Fulton, and detachments of the Railway Engineers, A.S.C. and a section of Wellington's machine-gunners were camped there in addition to the Aucklanders.
"D" Battery pitched its tents and constructed its gunpits on the waterfront in the centre of the Bay, nearly opposite the page 76Hotel Central. The Medical Corps were housed in hospital buildings and the nurses took up their quarters in a bungalow adjacent thereto.
Headquarters moved to Vailima, immortal as the home of Robert Louis Stevenson, and at that time Government House, and established Headquarters No. 2 in quarters adjacent to the Customs House.
A patrol was also sent out daily from the wireless station to the top of the mountain range overlooking the coast in all directions. A detachment proceeded across the Island to the South Coast, and reported all quiet and that the natives encountered all showed a most friendly attitude.
A patrol of Engineers proceeded to Falealili, also on the South Coast, and reported similarly, bringing in a German "obermann" who had been stationed there by the late Government.
All transport was now brought into requisition, and the moving into camp brought scenes of activity such as the quiet little town of Apia had never before seen. Tents were pitched, stores and supplies carted, trenches were dug and fortifications erected, and the weather, though gloriously fine, became unbearably hot for the hard-worked troops, clothed as they were in heavy woollens. Local stores did a big trade in light singlets and shirts, while every possible article of apparel was discarded, and shorts became shorter and shorter until orders came out regulating their length.