NEW ZEALAND AND WORLD WAR ONE
PRISONERS OF WAR
OTAGO WITNESS, ISSUE 3212, 6 OCTOBER 1915
PRISONER IN AFRICA RELEASED.
Mrs J. Hislop, of Napier, has recently received a cable from Windhoek, German South-West Africa, notifying her of the safety of her brother, Mr Charles John SMITH, formerly captain of the old Ranfurly Rifles (says the Hawkes Bay Herald). Mr Smith has been in German South-West Africa for some years, and this is the first communication that has been received from him since war broke out. News was received towards the end of last year that he was on a diamond field near Conception Bay at the end of August, and later that he was in the hands of the German authorities and in good health. Two days after the arrival of Mr Smith's cable a letter was received from him stating that at the time of writing he was a prisoner of war in the interior of the country for the good reason that he had made attempts to escape when interned nearer the British lines. He was evidently among those who were released on the surrender of the Germans to General Botha at Windhoek.
NZ units in South Africa 1899-1902
Reg No: 0
Given Names: Charles John
Unit: South Island Regiment - G Squadron
County/City: Hawkes Bay
Occupation: Stock Department
Ship: Cornwall 8 February 1902
Address: Marine Parade Napier
Next of Kin: SMITH Mr Robert Kernon
Relationship to Soldier: Father
Next of Kin Address: Same
NEW ZEALAND TIMES, VOLUME XLI, ISSUE 9318, 7 APRIL 1916
Captain Charles J. Smith, formerly of the old Napier Ranfurly Rifles, and who was through the South African War, is now fighting Germans in German East Africa, under General Smuts. Captain Smith was a prisoner of war until General Botha conquered German South West Africa, where the old Napier volunteer had resided for some time. Two other New Zealanders hold commissions in the same regiment as Captain Smith.
SOUTHLAND TIMES, ISSUE 18749, 24 FEBRUARY 1920
Captain Charles J. Smith, of the Imperial Forces, but formerly in the employ of Messrs Williams and Kettle, at Napier, died in London recently. Formerly he was a well-known identity in Napier. Captain Smith, served with the New Zealand Forces through the Boer War, and later returned to Africa, where he was engaged in the diamond business in German South-West Africa. On the outbreak of the great war he was interned as a prisoner of war by the German authorities. On the taking of the colony by General Botha, Captain Smith was released, and proceeded to Capetown to join up with the British Forces.
POVERTY BAY HERALD, VOLUME XLII, ISSUE 13611, 17 FEBRUARY 1915
PRISONER OF WAR. A NEW ZEALANDERS EXPERIENCE - Mr Edmond Winterscale GABITES, a son of Mr Robert Gabites, of Dunedin, and formerly of Christchurch, has come in for much attention at the hands of the Germans. For 17 months Mr Gabites had been inspecting the West African trading districts (rubber and ivory) of the hinterland of Kamerun and the French Congo for his firm, Messrs John Holt. On July 29 he and three other English people in that district were suddenly placed under military supervision, this precaution being taken, though it was still six days to the time when West Africa was made officially aware of the declaration of hostilities. It was averred that a native rising was feared. Guns, provisions, cameras, and general munitions of war and supply were seized, a receipt (which afterwards turned out to be invalid) being tendered for these. The four English were ordered to report themselves daily, and were put under parole in charge of their own subordinates, who were Germans. Armed guards were placed at the gates of John Holt and Co's compound, and the inmates were denied the right to venture out between 5.30p.m. and 6.30a.m. — a real hardship in the tropics, where all exercise must be taken in the cool. On August 5 the prisoners were summoned to take the oath of allegiance to the Kaiser, which, naturally enough, the New Zealander refused to do, and it was modified to an agreement of neutrality and silence during the whole of the war. The English were deprived of their native personnel and house servants, and the German subordinates who replaced them became masters of the factory and bungalows. Mr Gabites' diary of his business doing for the previous months was seized and scrupulously examined, the writer meanwhile being menacingly informed that if it contained any reference to the forts (which luckily it did not despite his visits thereto), he would be instantly shot as a spy. After four weeks' detention, the four prisoners were, at 6 a.m. on August 26, given half an hour to pack personal belongings only, their cash being confiscated, with the exception of a hundred marks (£4 18a). They were taken to Kribi, thence in small surf boats three miles to a 200-ton branch bar steamer, on which they sailed for Fernando Po, Spanish territory, and, of course, neutral. On September 17 the Spanish mail steamer Manuel Villa Verde called at Santa Isabel, and all took passage by her. The voyage was full of excitement. The ship was held up by the French gunboat Surprise, and the oaths of eleven German subjects on the Manuel Villa Verde were demanded and given; at Rio de Oro they saw the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse, sunk early in the war, lying in a natural harbor behind an island of sand; and off Las Palmas they were met by a British cruiser, but being within the three-mile limit from the shore, and hugging this all the way, they were able to elude her and the Victorian,- an armed merchantman, which they passed later. Teneriffe was scoured for newspapers, and the German retreat from Paris was learned with intense satisfaction — the first authentic news the English had had for a week prior to the outbreak of war. Before reaching Las Palmas the famous Highflyer drew up within 70 yards of the Spanish steamer, sent a boat aboard, and took off four Germans as prisoners of war. In the harbor of Las Palmas were Woerman liners destined for Kamerun with troops. After all these vicissitudes, Mr Gabites and his party had the good fortune to sight in Las Palmas harbor one of Messrs John Holt's own vessels, and as expeditiously as possible they transferred themselves and boxes per motor boat thereto, and made a very pleasant eight days voyage direct to Liverpool.
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