Item 10: General William Holmes diary, 23 August 1914-22 February 1915 - Page 178

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[Page 178]


The following report from the Officer Commanding the Expedition to Kawieang is published:
Government House,
Rabaul, 25th October, 1914.
The Administrator,

I have the honor to report that I took command of the armed ship "Nasa" on Friday, 16th instant, and placed on board her a detail of 15 soldiers, and one Machine Gun, Captain Strasburg, Master Mariner was Navigating Officer.

In accordance with your instructions, I proceeded to Kawieang with the object of hoisting the Union Flag proclaiming British Military occupation over New Ireland, to release the British Consul, Mr Jolley, who had been detained there as a prisoner, and to deport the German Commissioner. In addition, my instructions were to search for and capture the steamer "Siar," which had been engaged in smuggling cargo into New Britain, etc.

The Expedition reached Kawieang on the afternoon of Saturday, 17th instant; the flag was hoisted and saluted, the Proclamation published and steps taken to release Mr. Jolley, and get the German Commissioner in.

I could obtain but little information regarding the "Siar," but had the impression confirmed that she was in hiding at Garden Island, some 70 miles south-east of Kawieang. Accordingly I put to sea, at 9 o'clock the same night, leaving Lieutenant Basil Holmes with 10 men for a Garrison at Kawieang, and steamed for Garden Island. This place was reached in a thick haze about 11 o'clock Sunday morning, 18th instant. From a knowledge of Island customs I anticipated that if in harbour, the officers of vessel would be breakfasting at the Trading Station. This surmise proved to be correct, as on coming abreast of the Station, white men were noticed hurrying from the verandah. Proceeding at full speed, the "Nusa" was headed for the little harbour of Tekeriki, where the steamer "Siar," the large motor schooner "Senta" were found anchored. Before the officers could reach their ships, prize crews were placed on board and all the arms seized and ships papers taken into custody. P.O. Clark was  put in charge of the "Siar," together with A.B. Courtman as Engineer; the engines of this vessel were found to have been temporarily dismantled. As daylight on Monday, 19th Instant, the "Nusa," towing the "Siar," and motor schooners under their own power weighed anchor for Kawieang, reaching that place the following morning at 8  o'clock, where the "Siar's" engines were placed in working order, and fuel taken on board. Mr Jolley had in the meantime been released, and the German Commissioner came in at noon and surrendered himself, at the same time formally handing over New Ireland to the British Government.

I arranged for Lieutenant Basil Holmes to remain at Kawieang in temporary charge of the Administration, with a detail of six soldiers, it being understood that a permanent garrison would be dispatched within a week from Rabaul.

On Wednesday, 21st instant, the Fotilla put to sea, "Siar" being under her own steam, the German Commissioner, also the German Treasurer and one reservist as prisoners of war on board, and Mr Jolley as a passenger. It was found necessary for the "Nusa" to tow the motor schooner "Matupi"; "Senta" under her own power.

The expedition came to anchorage at Rabaul early Friday morning, 23rd inst.

The services rendered by Captain Strasburg were very valuable, and it was his local knowledge which enabled the captured ships to be found so quickly, I would further desire to bring under your excellency's notice the good work done by P.O. Clark, placed in charge of the "Siar," and A.B. Courtman, in charge of the engine room of that ship.

It is submitted that the captured ships are legal prizes.

I have the honor to be Sir,
Your obedient Servant,

Ratavul Pass
The tunnel through the hill at Ratavul on the road from Rabaul to Tallili Bay, which was blocked owing to large quantities of material having fallen from the roof after the fire which destroyed the timber lining, has been cleared, debris removed, and traffic restored. It is not proposed at present to replace the lining either with timber or concrete, but steps will be taken to remove all material as it falls and thus keep the road available for wheeled traffic. The question of dealing with this spot in a permanent way will be considered later.

Cinematograph Theatre.
An enterprising New Zealander, Mr. W. R. Lauri, opened a cinematograph theatre in Rabaul about two months ago. Owing to the War operations is was, however, closed. On Sunday 25th the theatre re-opened and henceforth two performanances per week will be given, one on Wednesday evening for the troops, and one on Sunday afternoon for the general public. The admittance for military persons is 1s. For the general public it is decided by color:- whites pay 2s., yellow (including Japs, Chinese and Malays) 1s., and brown (that is natives) 6d.

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