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As Told by Miss Geni La France, an Eyewitness
AN FRANCISCO, Cal., Oct. 7, 1914. -Graphic stories of the plight of Papeéte, capital of Tahiti, in the Society Islands, were told here today by passengers arriving on the Union Steamship Company's liner Moana. Several of those on board the steamer were in Papeéte when the town was bombarded by the German cruisers Gneisenau and Scharnhorst. They said the place was in ruins and that the natives were still hiding in the hills, whence they fled when the bombardment began.
The stories of those arriving on the Moana vary only in unimportant details. Perhaps the most graphic story was that told by Miss Geni La France, a French actress. She told of the Governor's heroism and his self-sacrificing devotion to duty, which caused him to face death rather than surrender. All of the passengers were loud in their praise of this Frenchman, who thought first of his country, next of his guests-for so he considered all travelers-and next of the city's residents.
"While the shells screamed and exploded with a deafening roar, tearing buildings and leaving wreck and ruin in their wake, this old Governor was calm throughout," said Miss La France.
"It was his bravery that enabled us to bear up under the terrible strain, although it was impossible to flee the city, as shells were exploding all about.
"I was sitting on the veranda of the hotel, having a lovely holiday. Every one was happy and contented. The sunshine was lovely and warm and the natives were busy at their work. I noticed two dark ships steaming up the little river, but was too lazy and 'comfy' to take any interest in them.
"Suddenly, without any warning, shots began exploding around us. Two of the houses near the hotel fell with a crash, and the natives began screaming and
running in every direction. For a minut、 I didn't realize what was happening. But when another volley of shell burst dangerously near and some of the pieces just missed my head, I was flying, too.
"Every one was shouting, 'To the hills, to the hills!' My manager could not obtain a wagon or any means of conveyance to take me there. I felt as if I had on a pair of magic boots that would carry me to the hills in three steps. But I didn't. It was a good six miles, over bad roads, and we had to run.
"The shells from the German battleships kept breaking, and the explosions were terrible. I am sure that I made a record in sprinting that six miles. The cries of the people were terrible. I was simply terror-stricken and could not cry for fear. I seemed to realize that I must keep my strength in order to reach the hills.
"We hid in the hills and the natives gave up their homes to the white people, and were especially kind to the women."
"The native population probably hasn't come back from the hills yet, and when we left, two days after the bombardment, the European population was still dazed," said E. P. Titchener, a Wellington, New Zealand, merchant, who went through the bombardment.
"From 8 o'clock until 10 the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau circled in the harbor, firing broadsides of eight-inch guns at the little gunboat Zelie and the warehouses beyond.
"Only the American flag, which the American Consul hoisted, and an American sailing vessel also ran up, the two being in line before the main European residence section, saved that part of the town, for the German cruisers were careful not to fire in that direction."
According to all accounts, the cruisers directed their fire solely toward the Zelie, but their marksmanship was said to be poor. Many shots fell short and
many went wide, so that the whole business district, the general market, and the warehouses along the water front were peppered and riddled.
The French replied from some old guns on the hills as well as three shots from the Zelie, but ineffectively.
"It was plucky of the French to fire at all," said Mr. Titchener. "At 7 o'clock we could see two war vessels approaching, and soon made out they were cruisers. They came on without a flag, and the Zelie, lying in the harbor, fired a blank shot.
“Then the Germans hoisted their flag and the Zelie fired two shots. The Germans swung around and fired their broadsides, and all the crew of the Zelie scuttled ashore. No one was hurt.
"The Germans continued to swing and fire. Their shells flew all over the town above the berth of the Zelie and the German prize ship Walkure, which the Zelie had captured. Perhaps not knowing they were firing into a German vessel, the Gneisenau and the Scharnhorst continued their wild cannonades.
"During the two hours of bombardment a hundred shells from the big 8-inch guns of the cruisers fell and exploded in the town. The sound was ter
rific, and nobody blamed the natives for running away.
"With all the destruction, only three men were killed-one Chinaman and two natives. The Germans evidently made an effort to confine their fire, but many shots went wide, and thesc did the main mischief.
"Finally, about 10 o'clock, without attempting to land, and not knowing that the German crew of the Walkure were prisoners in the town, the Gneisenau and the Scharnhorst steamed away and disappeared over the horizon. They sailed off to the westward, but of course we could not tell how they set their course when they got beyond our vision."
The damage to Papeéte was estimated at $2,000,000. Two vessels were sunk and two blocks of business houses and residences were destroyed. The French set fire to a 40,000-ton coal pile to prevent the Germans replenishing their bunkers.
The voyage of the Moana was fraught with adventure. From Papeéte the vessel, which flies the British flag, sailed with lights out and dodged four German cruisers after being warned by the wireless operator, who had picked up a German code message sent out by the cruisers which had razed the island city.
gether, and the remaining few minutes of daylight were used for getting into bed, while the difficult task was set us of trying to sleep the round of the clock. Thus, night after night, with lights out, we steamed along our northward track, the days being spent in drill and ball firing with rifles and the Maxim guns.
On the morning of Aug. 2 we proceeded along the shores of New Caledonia and saw the big French cruiser Montcalm entering the harbor. Next day we were joined by the battle cruiser Australia and the light cruiser Melbourne. The contingent received an enthusiastic reception in New Caledonia. passed the Montcalm our band played the "Marseillaise," and the band on the French cruiser responded with our national anthem. Cheers from the thousands of men afloat and the singing of patriotic songs added to the general enthusiasm, the French residents being greatly excited with the sudden and unexpected appearance of their allies from New Zealand.
A delay of twenty-four hours was caused by one of the troopships grounding on a sand bank in the harbor, but on Sunday, Aug. 23, the expedition got safely away.
We steamed through the Havannah Pass, at the southeastern end of the island, where we awaited Rear Admiral Sir George Patey, in command of the allied fleets. In due course the Australia and the Melbourne came up with us. Then in turn waited for the Montcalm. All the ships, eight in number, were now assembled, and they moved off in the evening light to take up position in the line ahead.
Fiji was reached in due course, and at anchor in the harbor of Suva we found the Japanese collier Fukku Maru, and learned that she had en coaling the German cruisers at the Carolina Islands just before the declaration of war. After the coaling had been completed the Japanese Captain went on to Samoa, calling at Apia. The Germans, however, would not allow him to land. The Japanese Captain had been paid for his coal by drafts on Germany, which, on reaching
Suva, he found to be useless. He was therefore left without means to coal and reprovision. As he was not allowed to land at Samoa, he went on to Pago-Pago, in complete ignorance that war had been declared, and, not being able to get supplies there, left for Suva. At the latter port, the harbor lights being extinguished, he ran his vessel on to the reef in the night time. Rockets were sent up, but no assistance could be given from the shore. Fortunately, however, he got off as the tide made; but it was a narrow call.
In the early dawn of Aug. 30 we got our first glimpse of German Samoa. The American island of Tutuila was out of sight, away to the right, but presently we rounded the southeastern corner of the island of Upolu, with its beautiful wooded hills wreathing their summits in the morning mists, and saw the white line of surf breaking along its coral reefhistoric Upolu, the home of Robert Louis Stevenson, the scene of wars and rebellions and international schemings, and the scene also of that devastating hurricane which wrecked six ships of war and ten other vessels and sent 142 officers and men of the German and American Navies to their last sleep. The rusting ribs and plates of the Adler, the German flagship, pitched high inside the reef, still stare at us as a reminder of that memorable event.
The Psyche went boldly on ahead, and after the harbor had been swept for mines she steamed in, under a flag of truce, and delivered a message from Admiral Patey, demanding the surrender of Apia. The Germans, who had been expecting their own fleet in, were surprised with the suddenness with which an overwhelming force had descended upon them, and decided to offer no resistance to a landing. Capt. Marshall promptly made a signal to the troopships to steam to their anchorages; motor launches, motor surfboats, and ships' boats were launched, and the men began to pour over the ships' sides and down the rope ladders into the boats.
In a remarkably brief space of time the covering party was on shore, officers
and men dashing out of the boats, up to the knees, and sometimes the waist, in water. The main street, the crossroads, and the bridges were quickly in possession of our men, with their Maxims and rifles, and then, one after another, the motor boats and launches began to tow strings of boats, crammed with the men of the main body, toward the shore. The bluejackets of the beach party, who had already landed, urged them forward by word and deed in cheery fashion, and soon Apia was swarming with our troops.
Guards were placed all about the Government buildings, and Col. Logan, with his staff, was quickly installed in the Government offices.
Lieut. Col. Fulton dashed off to the telephone exchange and pulled out all the plugs, so that the residents could hold no intercommunication by that means. The Custom House and the offices of the Governor were also seized without a moment's loss of time. An armed party was dispatched along a bush road to seize the wireless station. Late that evening the man in charge rang up in some alarm to state that there was dynamite lying about and that the engine had been tampered with to such an extent that the apparatus could not be used until we got our own machinery in position.
Meantime the German flag, that had flown over the island for fourteen years, was hauled down, the Germans present doffing their hats and standing bareheaded and silent on the veranda of the Supreme Court as they watched the soldier in khaki from New Zealand unceremoniously pulling it down, detaching it from the rope, and carrying it inside the building.
Next morning the British flag was hoisted with all due ceremony. In the harbor the emblem of Britain's might
fluttered from the masts of our cruiser escort, the Stars and Stripes waved in the tropic breeze above the palms sur-、 rounding the American Consulate, and out in the open sea the white ensign and tricolor flew on the powerful warships of the allied fleets of England and France.
A large crowd of British and other residents and Samoans had gathered. In the background were groups of Chinese coolies, gazing wonderingly upon the scene. The balconies of the adjoining buildings were crowded with British and Samoans. Only the Germans were conspicuous by their absence. With undisguised feelings of sadness they had seen their own flag hauled down the day before. Naturally they had no desire to witness the flag of the rival nation going up in its place.
A few minutes before 8 o'clock all was ready. Two bluejackets and a naval Lieutenant stood with the flag, awaiting the signal. The first gun of the royal salute from the Psyche boomed out across the bay. Then slowly, to the booming of twenty-one guns, the flag was hoisted to the summit of the staff, the officers, with drawn swords, silently watching it go up. With the sound of the last gun it reached the top of the flagstaff and fluttered out in the southeast trade wind above the tall palms of Upolo.
There was a sharp order from the officer commanding the expedition, and the troops came to the royal salute. The national anthem-never more fervently sung-and three rousing cheers for King George followed.
Then came the reading of the proclamation by Col. Logan, the troops formed up again, and, to the music of the band of the Fifth Regiment, marched back to quarters.
How the Cressy Sank
By Edgar Rowan
UIDEN, Holland, Sept. 23, 1914.—
(Dispatch to The London Daily Chronicle.)-When the history of this war comes to be written we shall put no black borders, as men without pride or hope, around the story of the loss of the cruisers Aboukir, Cressy, and Hogue. We shall write it in letters of gold, for the plain, unvarnished tale of those last moments, when the cruisers went down, helpless before a hidden foe, ranks among the countless deeds of quiet, unseen, unconscious heroism that make up the navy's splendid pages.
It is easy to learn all that happened, for the officers want chiefly to tell how splendidly brave the men were, and the men pay a like tribute to the officers. The following appears to be a main outline of the disaster:
The three cruisers had for some time been patrolling the North Sea. Soon after 6 o'clock Tuesday morning-there is disagreement as to the exact timethe Aboukir suddenly felt a shock on the port side. A dull explosion was heard and a column of water was thrown up mast high. The explosion wrecked the stokehole just forward of amidship and, judging by the speed with which the cruiser sank, tore the bottom open.
Almost immediately the doomed cruiser began to settle. Except for the watch on deck, most of her crew were asleep, wearied by constant vigil in bad weather, but in perfect order officers and men rushed to quarters. Quickfirers were manned in the hope of a dying shot at a submarine, but there was not a glimpse of one. Of the few boats carried when cleared for action, two were smashed in recent gales and another was wrecked by the explosion.
The Aboukir's sister cruisers, each more than a mile away, saw and heard the explosion. They thought the Aboukir
had been struck by a mine. They closed in and lowered boats. This sealed their own fate, for while they were standing by to rescue survivors, first the Hogue and then the Cressy was torpedoed.
The Cressy appears to have seen the submarines in time to attempt to retaliate. She fired a few shots before she keeled over, broken in two, and sank. Whether she sank any submarines is not known.
The men of the Aboukir afloat in the water hoped for everything from the arrival of her sister cruisers, and all survivors agree than when these also sank many gave up the struggle for life and went down. An officer told me that when swimming, after having lost his jacket in the grip of a drowning man, his chief thought was that the Germans had succeeded in sinking only three comparatively obsolete cruisers which shortly would have been scrapped anyway.
Twenty-four men were saved on a target which floated off the Hogue's deck. The men were gathered on it for four hours waist deep in water.
The rescued officers unite in praising the skill and daring of the German naval officers, and, far from bearing any grudge, they have nothing but professional praise for the submarines' feat.
"Our only grievance," one said, "is that we did not have a shot at the Germans. Our only share in the war has been a few uncomfortable weeks of bad weather, mines, and submarines."
When I entered the billiard room of the hotel here sheltering survivors and asked if any British officers were there, several unshaven men in the khaki-working kit of the Dutch Army or in fishermen's jerseys got up from their chairs. Most of them had been saved in their pajamas, and they had to accept the first things in the way of clothing offered by the kindly Dutch. One Lieutenant apologized for closing the window, as he had