1/481 Pte. A. G. Hansen Samoan Advance Force


This is the story about Alfred George "Wellington" Hansen, a second generation Dane (Danish father) who took part in the invasion of Samoa, as a part of the Samoan Advance Force. He also served in the Australian Army during WWII.


Alfred George "Wellington" Hansen was born in Wellington New Zealand 

on August 15th 1893.

His father was Hans Christian Holm Hansen, born in Copenhagen, Denmark October 15th 1851. Hans Christian left Denmark prior to 1878 for Australia, where he married Elizabeth Foxworthy.

They had a girl, Ethel May Holm Hansen 1878. I believe Elizabeth died as Hans Christian re-married Harriet Bryant at Bowden, Adelaide, Australia August 30th 1884.
They had five children (Olive Adelaide Holm hansen 1885-86, Harold Arthur Roy Hansen 1887-1962, Sydney Bertram Alexandra Hansen 1889-1970, Victor Hobart Charles Holm-Hansen 1891-1971 and finally after travelling to New Zealand in 1893, Alfred George Wellington Hansen.) (Alfreds father,


Hans Christian was naturalized February 1898, aged 47 having lived in New Zealand for 5 years. He was residing at 67 Adelaide Road, Wellington. He died April 11th 1925 in Wellington New Zealand.)


Alfred attested for the 5th Wellington Regiment, New Zealand Expeditionary Force
August 10th 1914.

His occupation was listed as clerk, he last resided at Parade Island Bay, his last employer was Geo. Doughty & Co., and he stated that he had served in the Territorial Army at Wellington.


He was 21 years old at the time, 5 feet 5 inches high, weighing 8-5 lb., chest measured at minimum 31 inches and 33 1/2 inches at maximum, complexion was fair, blue eyes, and fair hair. It was remarked that he had a "narrow chest".


Two days later on August 12th 1914, 1/481 Private Alfred G. Hansen, A Company, 5th (Wellington) Regiment, embarked on H.M.T. Monowai, as a part of the Samoan Advance Force.

The force cosisting of 1.413 men and 6 nursing sisters, left Wellington on August 15th 1914. Alfred and the Samoan Advance Force landed at Apia, Samoa on August 29th 1914.


From chakoten.dk:

The Samoan Advance Force

The landing force was commanded by Colonel (temporary) Robert Logan of the New Zealand Army. The infantry element consisted of c. 1.000 men from the 3rd (Auckland) Regiment (Countess of Ranfurly's Own) and the 5th (Wellington Rifles) Regiment. The force included 4 light guns, probably from the 'D' Mountain Battery.

The engineer element consisted of a a field company, a railway engineer company and a signals detachment Further, detachments the New Zealand Medical Corps and New Zealand Army Service Corps were included in the Samoan Advance Force.


The naval contribution

The expeditionary force was transported in two ships from the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand - the S/S MOERAKI (4,392 gross tons; built in 1903) and S/S MONOWAI (3,433 gross tons; built in 1890). The naval contingent, commanded by Rear-Admiral Sir George Patey, consisted of three obsolescent "P" class cruisers - HMS PHILOMEL , HMS PSYCHE and HMS PYRAMUS; joined by HMAS AUSTRALIA, HMAS MELBOURNE and the French cruiser MONTCALM at New Caledonia. HMS Philomel was a Peal class Third Class Cruiser (1890). HMS Psyche and HMS Pyramus were of the Pelorous class (1900).HMS PHILOMEL was transferred to the New Zealand Government in 1914 and commissioned at Wellington on 15 July 1914. With its complement augmented by 60-70 New Zealand reservists, the PHILOMEL escorted first the Samoan force and then the main New Zealand Expeditionary Force to Egypt.


The German colony of Samoa

Samoa became officially a German colony as of 1 March 1900, based on a treaty between Britain, the United States of America and Germany. Unlike most other German colonies, Samoa had no military units, but only a small police force. In 1914 the force consisted of some 30 Fita-Fita (Samoan for paramilitary police constables) and 20-25 local police constables (Landespolizisten), all headed by a German Chief of Police (Polizeimeister). The Fita-Fitas were recruited from sons of native chiefs and influential families; they served mostly as orderlies for Government establishments and as guards. The local police constables served in various native villages and at two police posts, known as Cana and Saluaf·ta. Apparently, the Fita-Fita could not to be trusted under all circumstances, since the bolts of their rifles were withdrawn during an internal unrest in 1909. Paramilitary police from the German colony New Guinea (Kaiser-Wilhelms-Land) as well as a naval landing party were brought in to quell the unrest.


On the eve of the invasion

The German wireless station on Samoa, which more or less was the reason for the New Zealand operations, opened just weeks before the invasion, on 2 August 1914. Until then, telegrams had to be shipped from New Zealand, including the telegram with the information on the Murder at Sarajevo, 28 June 1914. The threat of this wireless station must be seen in the context of the German East Asia Squadron based at Tsingtao. The Squadron included the modern cruisers SMS SCHARNHORST, SMS GNEISENAU and SMS NURNBERG. When the war broke out, a small number of Germans formed a citizens' force (B¸rgerwehr), consisting c. 50 men, organised in 3 detachments - one guarded the wireless station and the other two took turns serving as coastal guards.

The governor held a council of war with owners of some large plantations, business men and government officials; the conclusion was that any form of military resistance would be meaningless and just lead to unnecessary bloodshed.


The German surrender

In the early hours of 29 August 1914, the Samoan Advance Force steamed closed in on the harbour of Apia; two small steam boats searched the harbour for mines and a small boat, carrying a white flag transported two naval officers to the Bismarck Jetty.

The first British Commonwealth officer to land on enemy territory in World War I was Lieutenant Edward Church, paymaster of HMS Psyche, who was instructed to carry the Admiral's demand for unconditional surrender to the German representatives.

The German Governor, Erich Schultz-Ewerth, had left town to "attend a conference of orators and chiefs", thus leaving an acting governor to receive the request for surrender. Negotiations commenced, but in the end the Germans had to accept the New Zealand occupation, and did so under protest. The radio station in Apia was dismantled by the Germans to keep it out of British hands, and the members of the citizens force dismissed themselves. The Union Jack was hoisted approximately 08:30 on 30 August 1914; the ships' guns saluted from the harbour. 


From firstworldwar.com:

The New Zealand occupation

Although, the Governor had been promished to be deported to Fiji, he was taken to Auckland, New Zealand as a prisoner of war on 2 September 1914, together with his secretary, Mars, and the director of the wireless station, Hirsch.

The sources to the New Zealand occupation is very anti-New Zealand, but it stands out that the Germans on Samoa was not in any way impressed by the New Zealand troops in their heavy woollen uniforms, more useful for warfare in Europe than in the Southern Pacific. Further, the solders seemed very young and lacking in military training. At first, the relationship was tolerable but during the next few month, and culminating around Christmas 1914, things turned out rather bad.

In the middle of September 1914 however, the situation changed when the German cruisers SMS SCHARNHORST and SMS GNEISENAU appeared at the mouth of the bay leading to the harbour in Apia. All Germans hoped that the occupation would soon be over, but in the end it turned out that the cruisers had more important things to do, and a message with this statement was delivered to Colonel Robert Logan from the German naval commander, Vice-Admiral Graf Maximilian von Spee. The German morale sunk accordingly!

Several hundred New Zealand soldiers, bored by having nothing to do on this remote island, broke into some warehouses at the harbour on 26 December 1914 and "liberated" large quantities of alcohol, from which they have been barred since the occupation began. The situation went quite out of hand, and Colonel Robert Logan had to invent a threat from the German battlecruiser SMS VON DER TANN was observed in the Pacific Ocean heading for Samoa - a situation similar to the appearance of SMS SCHARNHORST and SMS GNEISENAU - in order to regain control of his force. This threat sobered -up the soldiers and they were ordered into the hills surrounding Apia to dig trenches and other fortifications. In March 1915 the Samoan Relief Force relieved the Samoan Advance Force. This new force consisted of more mature men, many being veterans from the Boer War, and this eased the tension between the Germans and the occupational force. [b]Going back to Wellington[/b] Alfred embarked at Apia, Samoa on H.M.N.Z.T. Jalume March 10th 1915, and arrived at Wellington March 22nd 1915. Alfred was discharged being medically unfit for active service, although fit for employment in civil life, on September 17th 1915. The reason was Chronic cough and anaemia. For his service in Samoa, Alfred was awarded a 15-Star trio. (If anyone know where his 15-Star is - please let me know)


Leaving New Zealand for Australia

Probably in the early 1930's, he moved to New South Wales in Australia. He appeared on the New Zealand Electoral Rolls for the last time in 1928 and he first appeared on the Australian Electoral Rolls in 1936. I don't know if he met and married his wife Clara Ethel Magdalene Emily Murphy (Born Fulham, London 1887), before or after leaving New Zealand. Clara was a nurse, serving in both world wars.


The Australian Army

Alfred attested on June 26th 1940 for the Australian Army. He stated that he was married to Clare Ethel Magdalene Hansen, occupation Land Estate Agent and living at 45 Park Street (Flat 3), South Yarra, Victoria. Alfred's service began On August 31st 1940, when he was taken on strength with 2 R. R. D. Shortly after transferred to 3rd District A/C Office.


He was promoted to Corporal on August 28th 1940, Acting Sergeant on October 8th 1941 and Acting Staff Sergeant on August 25th 1942, now serving with "Vic L of C".

In February 1943 Alfred and Clara moved to 65 Westbury Street, St. Kilda North, Fawkner, Victoria. On February 17th 1943 Alfred was appointed Staff Sergeant. On December 4th 1944 he was admitted to a hospital (115 (H) M. H.). He was discharged to his unit in the beginning of January 1945.

On May 3rd 1945, Alfred was transferred to RR + GDD Vic L of C for discharge. V85495 Staff Sergeant Alfred G. Hansen was discharged from the Australian Army on May 4th 1945.


His recommendation for discharge mentions that he was 51 years, height: 5'6 1/8, eyes: Blue, marks: Scar Right Knee, hair: Grey, complexion: Fair. His military experience: D.F.O. (Whole period of service) 5 1/5 years service and 1914-1918 war, medical classification: B2, medical defects: Age and Vide AAB.83, psychological assesment, I.Q.: 101, Mental age: 14 3/4, Good Intelligence.


The Allocation Officer remarked:

The abovenamed N.C.O. was interviewed by the Allocation Officer on April 20th 1945. He impressed as a decent, conscientious tpe of soldier, and appeared worried over being unable to discharge his duties with former efficiency. Unit report reads: "Past record is very favourable, but has deteriorated considerably". In view of subject soldier's age, med. class, and unit report, it is considered that he is incapable of being further usefully and economically employed in the army, and is unlikely to become an effiecient soldier. His discharge is accordingly recommended.


Alfred was probably entitled to a British War Medal 1939-45 and the Australian Service Medal, for his service.

In 1949 Alfred and Clara lived at 9 O'Shaughnessy Street, Kew North, Kooyong, Victoria, Australia. In 1954 Alfred (Clerk) and Clara lived at Peppin Street, Camberwell, Chisholm, Victoria, Australia. Clara died at Steiglitz, Victoria, Australia in 1974, 87 years old.

Alfred died two years later at Prahran, Victoria, Australia, 83 years old. They had no children.



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