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The Evening Star TUESDAY, DECEMBER 8, 1914., Issue 15670, 8 December 1914
The Evening Star TUESDAY, DECEMBER 8, 1914.
The latest, and surely the most ridiculous, charg* aeainat the Xew Zealand Government is that they are virtually responsible for the escape of the German cruisers Scharnhorsb and Gneisenan from the Western Pacific. And if any reliance is to be placed on the charge one must prasa logic to the full limit and cast upon the Prime Minister the responsibility for the loss of certain British cruisers in their encounter with Admiral Von Spee's squadron off the Chilian const. If the Government deserve censure for the escape of the Scharnhorst and Gneiscnau from the Western Pacific they are equally censurable for the loss of the Monmouth and Gcod Hope near Chile. The allegation originates in Australia, and is given vrorld-wido publicity by the Sydney 'Sun,' -whose Melbourne correspondent states, apparently on inspired authority, that
A Flotilla of Fightere.
It has been established that when the Dreadnought Australia was called away from the chase to convoy the New Zealand contingent to Samoa she was within a few hours of getting upon Admiral Von Spee's track. The New Zealand Government, in their impetuous desire to get the men to Samoa, sent them to sea under the care of the Psyche and Philomel, and then suddenly recalled the expedition or cabled to the Admiralty and secured tho Australia's assistance. . . . One result
of the escape of Admiral Spec's fleet is the determination of both Federal parties to change the naval agreement, owing to a feeling that the dual control embarrassed the. operation of the Australian ships.
The story is built upon a fragile foundation, and is discounted by one glaringerror : The advance guard of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force was neither detained nor recalled from its Imperial mission to Samoa. All preparations were promptly and effectively made for departure, and within two hours after the receipt of a cabled instruction from the Homo Secretary His Excellency the Governor, in the presence of a great crowd of Wellington citizens who had assembled at the Basin Reserve to farewell the advance guard, announced that the soldiers paraded before him were to be sent away almost immediately on a mission of great and nrgent Imperial enterprise. A few hours later, under the protective grey of the hour before dawn, the Monowai and Moeraki left Wellington for Samoa. Thousands of people were apprehensive of the safety of our soldiers, and pressed to know if the naval escort were adequate Our parliamentary reporter personally interviewed the Prime Minister on tho question of on escort for the two troopships, and Mr Massey stated that the expedition
wm entirely under Imperial control, and that he felt convinced that the Imperial Government would provide adequate naval protection at sea. He added that if ho had thought such protection unavailable ha would not have, consented to the departure of the troops, and would have taken steps to enter an emphatic protest. And there the position was left in the " fcg of war." There cannot possibly be any danger now to the main New Zealand Expeditionary Force in Egypt from recounting the actual position in regard to securing a splendid naval escort for their flotilla of troopships, and to place on public record the statesmanlike action of the I'rime 'Minister in enforcing tho provision of adequate naval protection. His action in this respect compensates many minor administrative blunders, and proves him to be a man of unflinching spirit and •with a strength of character that wins. To reveal the real strength of the Prime Minister's action in the matter of safeguarding the main Expeditionary Force at sea during their hazardous voyago to Egypt it is necessary to summarise the position prior to the final departuro of the troops on a certain quiet Friday morning in October. After all the preparations had been made for departure a serious hitch occurred in the arrangements, and the troops were confronted with tho prospect of a long detention in Wellington. Horses and men wero brought ashore, special camps were established in the capital city, and the Auckland troopships were recalled from sea when 150 miles out of Auckland. Then followed the public mutterings as to the demoralising influences of tho unfortunate deferment of departure, and many people j began to talk openly of blundering and Reform weaknesses. The Prime Minister " bowed his head to the storm," and remained loyal to the Imperial edict as to complete silence as regards the movements of troops and warships. What was the cause of tho real delay? It is only fair, and it can do no harm to the Imperial cause, to say that tho delay was due to tho lack of an adequate escort. In the midst of all the bitter complaints and the exaggerated talk of demoralisation of the troops in Wellington, the Prime Minister held to his demand for an efficient escort. The Imperial authorities apparently considered that warships of the P. class could provide adequate, protection to the 10 troopships during the voyage to Australia. Mr Massey firmly and, as we think, rightly protested. His protest became a point-blank refusal to sanction tho departuro of tho Expeditionary Forco with only the protection of the P. class of warships, one of which had been battered at Zanzibar by the Konigsberg. The impasse became a sort of tug-of-war of administrative stubbornness ; and finally the Prime Minister informed the Imperial authorities that ho would nob accept the administrati vo responsibility of sending some 8,000 men to sea under the protection of the Psyche, Pyramus, and Philomel, and that if these were to be the escort the Government would resign on the instant. Several days elapsed before any definite action was announced by the Imperial authorities, but a week later Parliament unexpectedly adjourned for an afternoon to enable members to do down to the crowded harbor and see the memorable arrival of a formidable escort —the flagship of the British China squadron, and another grey monster flying the Flag of Japan, the Rising Sun. It was entirely due to Mr Massey's strength of character that the citizens of Wellington were enabled to secure a broader and, lot it be hoped, a permanent understanding of the true Japanese spirit, the Japanese pride in their allegiance with the British, and their great faith in the value of a "scrap of paper." Few of those who were privileged to see BCO British man-of-warsmen and 800 Japanese, only different from British in color of face and in build of body (their navy is a model of ours) receive in turn tho splendid hospitality of the citizens of Wellington and to hear Maori members of Parliament give a haka to the Japanese, who loved it exceedingly; to hear one Maori speak a greeting in the language of his fathers, and another interpret it in English; to hear an English officer render the same into Japanese; and to hear further a remarkably tall Japanese officer express in graceful words familiar to New Zealanders tho gratitude of his men for New Zealand hospitality. But most memorable of all was the Japanese greeting to New Zealanders —"Banzai," three times, and given with a will—and then the brave sadness of the Japanese Anthem. Thanks to Mr Massey"s splendid determination, the troops sailed out under the protection of a magnificent flotilla of fighters, and tho people of Wellington were left with memories of a rare combination of strength and greetings— Kia Orn, Hip, hip, hooray, and Banzai.
The Evening Star TUESDAY, DECEMBER 8, 1914., Issue 15670, 8 December 1914
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