World War I in the Pacific

Discussions on all aspects of the First World War not covered in the other sections. Hosted by Terry Duncan.
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us11thairborne
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World War I in the Pacific

Postby us11thairborne » 18 May 2005 03:02

Where did the major areas of conflict take place in the Pacific area? Which nations were involved, when did it begin, and how many troops were involved? I understand that it must of taken place mostly around the German colonies of Tsingtao, and the Bismarck Archipelago.
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Postby crapouillot » 18 May 2005 13:14

From french side, the only event in this ocean is the attack of Papeete by Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, the 22nd september 1914. The two cruisers open fire on the harbour, and destroy a old coastal military ship.
It was just before Coronel battle. Von Spee want to take coal stock of the town, but Capitaine Destremeau destroy it and close the entry of the harbour, destroying the sail mark. Von Spee opens fire on the town (which was an "open town" "ville ouverte"....), killing two inhabitants, and sunk the old "cannonière" Zélée.

On Japanese side, we have the battle for the german colony in China, at the same time : Tsing Tao.

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us11thairborne
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Postby us11thairborne » 18 May 2005 22:32

In addition to the information I requested above, I'm wondering if there are any books on the Pacific region during World War I?
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Postby Duckman » 19 May 2005 06:01

The Japanese took Tsingtao and numerous German possessions in the Northern Pacific (Caroline Islands etc). Australia and New Zealand combined to take their possessions south of the Equator - New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, Samoa etc.

There is information on the Australian actions in Vol X of the Australian Official History (although that is mostly about their subsequent colonial administration), which can be found here. I presume the New Zealand equivalent also treats it in some detail.

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Chris Dale
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Postby Chris Dale » 21 May 2005 03:57

There's quite a lot on the different actions in the Pacific at my website- http://www.germancolonialuniforms.co.uk
Hope you enjoy it,
Cheers
Chris
Last edited by Chris Dale on 02 Aug 2006 00:27, edited 1 time in total.

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Peter H
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Postby Peter H » 21 May 2005 05:48

The New Zealanders seized German Samoa in 1914:

http://www.michaelfield.org/mau2.htm

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Chris Dale
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Postby Chris Dale » 21 May 2005 14:49

Thanks Peter for a great link, loads of inforation there....
Cheers
Chris

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Peter H
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Postby Peter H » 21 May 2005 15:30

Chris,
That link does not mention that after the Navy steamed away,Von Spee arrived off Apia with the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau on the 14th September 1914---the New Zealanders prepared for action,but not wishing to waste ammunition,Spee sailed off after 4 hours.

German rule in the Pacific was probably as benign as the other European powers.The only German colonial police action in the region was the Sokehs Rebellion of 1910-11:

http://www.micsem.org/photos/sokehs/

Best regards,
Peter

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Chris Dale
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Postby Chris Dale » 21 May 2005 16:27

Hi Peter,
Thanks for the info. I didn't know that about von Spee returning- I bet that gave the allies a fright! Do you mind if I use that on the "Intersting facts" page on my website?
The Micronesia website is great isn't it? I emailed them some time ago and they said they had more photos of the German period that they were hoping to get scanned and on the website one day, so it's worth checking back there every now and then...
Cheers
Chris
Last edited by Chris Dale on 02 Aug 2006 00:28, edited 1 time in total.

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Peter H
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Postby Peter H » 22 May 2005 03:42

Chris,
No problems with using any information on your great website.

Another German Pacific colony link:

http://marshall.csu.edu.au/historyGermany.html

Carolinean Police Soldiers

Image
http://marshall.csu.edu.au/html/GermanP ... arolit.jpg

Image
http://marshall.csu.edu.au/html/GermanP ... olicet.jpg


Chamorro Police Soldier

Image
http://marshall.csu.edu.au/html/GermanP ... hamort.jpg


And the first German raider in the Pacific,SMS Cormoran:

http://www.mdaguam.com/smscormoran.htm


The communication hubs provided by the Germans in the Pacific,wireless in New Guinea and Samoa,undersea cable Yap made them strategic assets in time of war.The importance of the German-Netherlands Telegraph Co in 1905 linking Shanghai,China with the USA, via Yap and Guam must also be mentioned.Morever,unlike the British and French,the Germans established a fast direct shipping service to Europe from the Pacific,later expanded to Hong Kong and Australia.

Without doubt, Germany left its marks on Micronesia: in the Marshalls the copra industry; in the Marianas a reaffirmation of the Chamorro identity; in Palau and Nauru a phosphate economy; in Yap a continuation of traditional powers; in Chuuk a cessation to incessant internecine warfare; and in Pohnpei deep political change. Unbeknown to most, many of the changes set in train one hundred years ago still prevail.


http://marshall.csu.edu.au/html/german/Annex.html

Regards,
Peter

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Peter H
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Postby Peter H » 22 May 2005 04:02

Casualties resulting from the fighting in German New Guinea were:

German
Europeans--1 killed,1 wounded
Natives--30 killed,10 wounded

Australians
6 killed,4 wounded

The Australian submarine AE1 also went missing,with 35 dead:

http://www.awm.gov.au/units/unit_10759.asp

http://www.gwpda.org/naval/subsunk.htm


A controversial episode also occurred in Rabaul in November 1914,with the caning of 3 Germans involved in an assault on a British missionary on New Ireland.The ringleader.a German doctor,considered the missionary a 'British spy'.The corporal punishment involved led to a formal protest from Germany.

From the AWM website:

RABAUL, NEW BRITAIN. PROTECTORATE OF GERMAN NEW GUINEA, 1914-11-30. ONE OF THE PERPETRATORS OF THE ATTACK BY MASKED GERMANS ON THE BRITISH MISSIONARY REVEREND W. A. COX RECEIVES HIS PUNISHMENT OF A PUBLIC CANING IN PROCLAMATION SQUARE. THE ONLY WITNESSES WERE THE GERMAN RESIDENTS AND MEMBERS OF THE AUSTRALIAN NAVAL AND MILITARY EXPEDITIONARY FORCE (AN&MEF). NOTE THE PRISONER IS PLACED OVER A HUMPED BACKED TRAVELLING TRUNK "BELLY DOWN, HIS HANDCUFFED HAND LASHED TO ONE PEG AND HIS FEET TO THE OTHER PEG THUS HOLDING HIS BODY, BUTTOCKS UPWARDS SECURELY ACROSS THE BULGE IN THE TOP OF THE TRUNK".
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Peter H
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Postby Peter H » 22 May 2005 04:52

The cruise of SMS Emden should also be mentioned.

The story of the steam whistle of SMS Emden might also be on interest.

As a war souvenir presented to General Sir John Monash,first chairman of the SEC, it began its second life as a siren at the Yallourn PowerStation, and became part of the huge engineering scheme to electrify and modernise Victoria in the 1920s.Retired in 1968 the siren is still housed at a Cultural Centre in Yallourn.

One of the German landing party on Direction Island 1914.
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Chris Dale
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Postby Chris Dale » 23 May 2005 00:34

Thanks again, Peter you've excelled yourself here- you really are a gold mine of information!
Here's a couple of photos from just prior to the conflict in New Guinea. In one we see the German reservists, in the other New Guinea police in training. Both photos are from the Australian War Memorial website http://www.awm.gov.au/
Cheers
Chris
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Postby ohrdruf » 19 Jun 2005 17:10

Crapouillot et al

The account of KKpt Pochhammer, Gneisenau first officer, and senior surviving officer of the East Asia Cruiser Squadron, states that there was no intention to attack Papeete, they went there looking for Allied warships. The shore defences opened fire on the German cruisers. Returning fire aimed at the coastal battery, the salvo missed and hit a copra store. The Governor then hoisted a garbled flag signal stating that he had "hostages", at which von Spee desisted. The squadron was always short of food: another French possession visited was the Marquesas, where it was confirmed that the French authorities had deported several Germans to Tahiti for the duration.

The cruisers returned to Apia for information only, they were not intending to retake the territory. Two German planters put out from shore in a launch and were taken aboard "Scharnhorst". After supplying Spee with full information, they offered to show how German marines could attack Apia town, but Spee was not interested since he had decided to operate against commerce off the west coast of South America.

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Postby Wm. Harris » 19 Jun 2005 19:08

Canada's brief involvement in the Pacific war (from the official history):

The Department of the Naval Service in keeping closely in touch with the Admiralty followed the British lead by placing the Canadian permanent naval forces and the Naval Volunteer Force on active service on 4 August. On the same day H.M.C.S. Niobe and Rainbow were put at His Majesty's disposal "for general service with the Royal Navy", a disposition that was to continue throughout the war, with all charges being borne by Canada. At the Admiralty's request the 3600-ton Rainbow had steamed bravely out of Esquimalt early on the 3rd "to guard trade routes north of the Equator", and specifically to escort to safety two British sloops without wireless (Algerine and Shearwater) which were working north from San Diego. After her long period of neglect the Rainbow was in no condition to engage in hostilities. She had barely half her proper complement (many of whom were untrained), and no high explosive shells. The main enemy threat came from the modern light cruiser Leipzig, which was reported in Mexican waters. The Rainbow reached San Francisco on 7 August but was compelled to return to Esquimalt to refuel, luckily without having encountered the German warship. The Shearwater was found on the 13th and the Algerine on the following day and both were brought safely to Esquimalt. Their crews went by train to Halifax to join H.M.C.S. Niobe, which by 1 September had completed a hasty refit and was ready for duty with other units of the Royal Navy on the Atlantic Patrol.

Speedy action to augment Canadian naval strength at the outbreak of war took place on the west coast, where between 29 July and 5 August negotiations to purchase two submarines were initiated and completed, and delivery of the vessels effected - all within a week. The acquisition of the submarines, which had been privately built at Seattle for the Chilean Government, owed much to the initiative of the Premier of British Columbia, Sir Richard McBride, who, while Ottawa was urgently seeking the Admiralty's advice on whether or not to buy, on his own responsibility provided the purchase price of $1,150,000 from provincial funds, which the Federal Government repaid three days later. The two craft, redesignated C.C.1 and C.C.2, were based at Esquimalt for nearly three years, carrying out patrol work and training duties. In 1917 they moved by way of the Panama Canal to Halifax, where they remained until the war ended.


Bill H.


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