The Samoa (N.Z.) Expeditionary Force 1914–1915
The part New Zealand played in the Great War is notable in the annals of British history—brilliantly illumined by records of steadfast devotion to duty, self-sacrifice and courageous deeds of gallant men.
New Zealanders, as a patriotic people of the British Empire, knew their obligations when the call sounded and their ready response to arms was equalled only by their daring achievements as soldiers fighting in defence of the homes, lives and liberties of fellow-countrymen and of their kinsmen overseas.
Within twenty-five days after the declaration of war New Zealand troops had without bloodshed hoisted the Empire's flag in Western Samoa—German territory. The importance of the event and the secrecy and celerity with which it was accomplished kindled the Empire's patriotism, and brought the highest praise to the New Zealanders in their achievement. The men entered on the undertaking with grave dangers facing them, but these they did not heed. For it was known when the force set sail that a powerful German Squadron was moving in readiness in the Pacific and as the troopships were convoyed by the small cruisers "Physche," "Philomel" and "Pyramus," disaster could easily have overtaken them.
There was the added danger of the possibility of the Germans having garrisoned Samoa with reservists from their merchant ships and South American ports and with men, guns and armaments from the German warships then in the Pacific. Had these eventualities occurred there would have been tough fighting and loss of life.
These dangers our New Zealand boys faced with that equanimity and bravery which typified their conduct throughout page 9the war. Though they were able to achieve the task set them without firing a shot they well deserved the same credit received for the high courage displayed by the heroes whose blood was so freely spilled at the Anzac landing, in France and on other battlefields of the Great War.
The fortitude of the men of the force during the period of their occupancy of Samoa should not be forgotten. For seven months under trying conditions, of which they had had no previous experience; through the worst part of the tropical year— the rainy season—the men did their duty to the Empire without the loss of a single life. That surely is a tribute to the men themselves and to the medical and nursing staffs.
All honour is due to the Samoan Force for its work, and that honour has been whole-heartedly given.
24th July, 1924.