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THE OIL SHIP PHYSA, Issue 15628, 20 October 1914
THE OIL SHIP PHYSA
AIDING AUSTRALIAN FLEET. INTERESTING EXPERIENCE'S. A ' Star' reporter found Captain Miles, of the British Imperial Oil Company's ship Physa, busy with a kodak on the wharf this movning, but the genial skipper abandoned hie hobbv for the time being to return on board and tell a very interesting story of the- experiences of himself and his crew' during the voyage oat from Singapore with a wg cargo of oil for various New Zealand ports. "We had over 120,000 cases of benzine on board," said he, "40.000 of which were stowed above */iie water-line, and it was not altogether a comfortable, position to be in when German war vessels were known to be in Hie vicinitv ; one shot through our hull would have sent us all sky-high. There was also, of course, the possibility of capture.' Near Port Moresby the Physa was constantly pid.ing up "wireless messages from German ships, and these were promptly communicated to those ashore, wnere preparations were being made against attack. There was no aarrison at all at Port Moresby, but a citiz3n force of 160 strong —the total population is only some 300 scule—was formed, and parties patrolled the coast day and night, while lookout stations were formed on the hills. A num "ber of O-ermans -were svmoxigst vntaalnt&nts, and these were interned in one of the hotels, together with eome others who ha<i come over the border from German New Guinea, and who were suspected of being spies. The Australian fleet were manoeuvring not very far from the island, and the little settlement wa* in a constant state of excitemen. At every alarm, and there were many, the woman and children were packed off to the missionary station, while the men took to the trenches. The Governor was living for days in the wireless station. On her arrival at port the 'Physa wa6 mistaken for a German cruiser/owing to her being painted a navy grey. True,- she flew the British Flag, but the* populace were suspicious of a | German ruse. The manner in which the sailors of the Australian fleet helped to «.al the ships strongly impressed Captain Miles. Officers and men. l>egrimed but happy, turned to with a will, doing hard work themselves and " bossing " the natives. Large numbers of these Papuans had been sent to help to carry the coal, but being mostly in experienced in this kind of work, were often more of a hindrance than a help. Some were so devoid of sense, indeed, that thev had to be guided along the deck and stopped at the spot where they had to discharge their basket-load into 'he bunkers; " otherwise," said the skipper, " they would have wandered arouind and around with their baskets all day." Captain Miles showed the reporter his "release," issued by the commander of the fleet. This is a very unimposing document indeed, being written in pencil on a ragged and none-too-ciean piece of paper tonn from a communication from Lieutenant-Governor Murray, as the back showed. Note paper is evidently not issued to commanders in the navy on active service. The- release read : " Warrego, September 1. Captain of Physa,-—You ara hereby released, and, after coaling and oiling, you may proceed to Sydney. What time will you get away? —(Signed) Claude Cumberleye, commd." Underneath was a p.s. : " I have arranged for about 250 natives to board you by 1 p.m. to-morrow, Wednesday, for coaling." The Physa left Singapore on July 20 with the cargo of benzine for New Zealand ; she also carried some 900 tons of crude oil in her ballast tanks. Calling at Thursday Island on August 6, those en board learned for the first time of the out break of war. It was here that the ship fell in_ with the Australian fleet, and received~orders to follow the warships. This she did, and supplied them with oil as they required it. The destroyers Yarra. Parramatta, and Warrego, and the cruisers Molboumo mid Sydney took most of the oil, though the battle-cruiser Australia also .btorbed some, the total quantity amountin l: to about 1,000 tins. The Physa subsequently proceeded to Svdney and Newcastle and thence, to New Zealand ports, arriving at Dunedin last Saturday morning
THE OIL SHIP PHYSA, Issue 15628, 20 October 1914
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