Tucker Cove, Campbell Island takes a rest from the westerlies. The landing served the Tucker Camp until the site was changed to Beeman. Captain Tucker's shepherds' homestead and wool shed was to the immediate left outside of the photograph near the beach. (photo: John Caskey)
CAMPBELL-RAOUL ISLANDS' ASSOCIATION (INC.)
NEWSLETTER Vol 2 Number 7 JUNE 1973
Association Officers 1972 - 73
Air Vice-Marshall A. H. Marsh C.B.E.
|Dave Leslie||John Caskey|
|Bernie McGuire||M. Butterton|
|Peter Shone||H. Carter|
|Robin Foubister||Capt. J. F. Holm|
|Ron Craig||I. Kerr|
|Peter Ingram||C. Taylor|
|Terry Smith||H. W. Hill|
Peter (Pierre) Ingram
"The Islander" is the official quarterly bulletin of the Campbell-Raoul Islands' Association (Inc.) and is registered at the Post Office Head quarters, WELLINGTON, for transmission through the Postal Services as a magazine. All enquiries should be addressed to: The Secretary, CRIA (Inc.), G.P.O. Box 3557, WELLINGTON. Contributions to the bulletin should be forwarded to the Editor, CRIA (inc), G.P.O. Box 3557, WELLINGTON, and subscriptions to the Treasurer. Current membership rates are $3 per annum.
To relieve the Editor’s fast disappearing space, BACK NUMBERS of the bulletin are being offered for sale. Of the original cyclo-styled NEWSLETTER: Nos: 2, 3, 4 and 5 are available at 10 cents each. The BULLETIN in its earlier format: Nos: 6, 7, 8, 10 and 11, and the new look 'ISLANDER' as we know it now: Nos: 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 cost only 20 cents each. Those yearning for Newsletter NO:l, Bulletins 9 and 12 and The Islander NO:l to complete their records, may request file copies for photo-copying - but please let us have them back as soon as possible
Campbell Raoul Is Association
C.P.O. Box 3557,
Editoral: 'FORTY SHADES OF GREEN'
Unless the Campbell Island returnee chases to remain silent about his adventures for the rest of his life, he will forever be confronted by a frustrating public comment generally aimed at the islandic climate of his temporary home. "What a cold and bleak place that must be" is a statement that forces the expedition member to truthfully defend his southern love. Sometimes the inquirer adds a third adjective, "grey", as if to turn the island into a battleship.
The statements are partially correct perhaps. Certainly it is cold when an occasional passing southerly brings snow - so is a North Island frost. Forced into a confession by a Dunedin reporter, I would not bow to his demands and was subsequently reported in the press as stating "it was a mighty cool place" - not cold. 'Dreary, bare, windswept, chilly' quotes the dictionary when defining the term 'bleak', and so it may be when the Westerly is at its worst. But 'grey' comes from the unlikely person who could only observe a leaden sky through his bedroom window while forever horizontal on his bunk.
Munching a lunch and staring through the car windows at a Wellington southerly raise and break the Lyall Bay waves, I was startled to notice the magnificent spectrum of greens deeply reminded me of Campbell Island. That night, the colour slides came out and I closely examined them to fit the jigsaw of colours into place. Even the most overcast day did not have the power to draw forth a single shade of grey from the hilly slopes. Rather a colourful mosaic of yellows and deep and pale greens radiated outwards to the camera.
There were photographs of golden salt laden dawns awakening the harbour and the pure pinks of a late summer twilight. A summer's day on Mount Honey surrounded by brown and orange wind scarps framed with short yellow tussock. The delicate ranunculus hiding under lichen covered rocks, the lower altitude blush of chrysabactron rossii and the proud and healthy bloom of pleurophyllum speciosum. Even the hardy dracophyllum was forced into a springtime display that resembled a thawing snowfall on its spikey foliage. What of the millions of white celmisia flowers with their pale yellow or purple centres and the crouching clusters of gentiana antarctica that forced one to sidestep? Surely the island could produce more colour than its forest clad northern cousins. It had only one failing. On occasions it could be " a mighty cool place."
THE NEW LOOK FOR '73:
It is with some interest that I note Les Collin's (SCR&C, Aurora House) efforts to put a little colour into this year's recruiting season for the islands. Not only did the distinctive press advertisement manage to get itself as far afield as the NZ Truth (Tuesday, May 15), but a neat and informative 20 page booklet on both islands is now available for public distribution.
|Salaries & Wages||Campbell||Raoul|
|Officers in Charge||$5254||$5254|
|Board & Lodging||Free||Free|
3 days for each month or 42 days for tour.
|2 says ditto or 1 month.|
Communication with NZ, six free 3 minute calls per month
MAN IN ISOLATION ……..
Although the following extracts deal with personnel who have gone South to the Ice, it is not difficult to draw a parallel to these notes to see our own chaps who disappear over the sea to serve a year's tour on Campbell or Raoul Island. With thoughts soon turning to annual servicing, I have included an open letter from John Squibb, ex Campbellian, who weathered a tour at Australia's Davis. To fully quote A.J.W. Taylor's 'Ability, Stability and Social Adjustment among Scott Base Personnel, Antarctica' (Occupational Psychology, Vol:43, No:2, 1969, Victoria University) I would need the space normally required for several of our bulletins. To abridge such a work would be criminal. So I have selected only two sections which give us a familiar picture without upsetting the science of psychology.
1) Man being Retrospective:
Although positioned in the minds of those people who have heard of it, somewhere nebulously near the South Pole, Davis (69S.78E), to those who have wintered there, has far more precise memories, often intense and usually pleasant. Not the least of ones thoughts would be the relatively good climate considering the latitude; some days when the sky was cloudless and the wind calm were a positive joy, even balmy in fact. After May the stark whiteness contrasting with the deep blueness of the sky often gave the atmosphere of veritable fairy land. Conversely, on the few days we experienced blizzards, one vividly recalls the sheer frightening intensity of nature unleashing the full force of the elements on the station.
In the early part of the year, the sorting and unpacking of stores was a major chore. The erection of three store buildings was a feature too and then in September and October, the completion of the building programme with the assembly of the Biological Hut to the east of the Weddell Arm. A shortage of an ample supply of water has always been a problem on Antarctic Stations and we recollect the primitive efforts to harness melt streams for our water supply in the early part of the year. With the successful installation of the Desalination Plant in late February, future parties will no longer have the same problem in the summer months. The runs for snow after April, although not always popular, brought a welcome break in routine and the added opportunity to get some exercise.
Film nights generally offered only second or third class films, but were made more enjoyable by audience participation, often hiliarious and of better quality than the script. Barbecues were a were a highlight of the summer evenings, usually experienced in sub zero temperatures. Some memorable social evenings were experienced with good food, high spirits and often spiced with swinging impromptu entertainment. These evenings often contrasted with the atmosphere at breakfast, usually the low point of most peoples day in the dark winter months, particularly at this time of the year when peoples problems are self manufactured and highly magnified.
One recalls the return of the sun in early July even more vividly perhaps the return of the wild life in October when one had the unique opportunity to witness at first hand the nesting and mating habits of the Adelies and the Petrels and most of all, the pupping of the Weddell Seals.
All of us before arrival on the continent were fairly conversant with the history of the Antarctic; no doubt we were even then aware that no longer is there the same challenge to survive that confronted the early explorers. But we found a challenge nearly as big, namely the challenge to live with ones fellow men. Antarctic is doubtlessly an escape, probably the ultimate escape, and it is a facet of human nature to be an escapist, at least latently, from his everyday existence on the treadmill in the wastelands of suburbia. Undoubtedly critics, of the privileged few who have had the opportunity to have made the break from their normal environment, would hastily point out that a life that does not encompass the normal social evils of money, intensely stimulated competitor and the presence of women is an unrealistic one. So this poses the question "Is our present man-made civilisation, the cities particularly, a realistic way of life?"
Notwithstanding, most of us will in future years recall with a certain amount of nostalgia our little oasis of 1972 that is called Davis, far away from it all, amidst the wonders of the wild life, set amongst the harsh white grandeur that is the Antarctic and a final memory of it sharply focused in mid-summer beneath the mid-night sun. (John Squibb prior departure from Davis, 1972, in an open letter to the Editor.)
2) Man in Isolation:
The twelve men in the first party gave various reasons for volunteering for Antarctic service. Two men gave as few as two reasons, and two gave five, but the mean number was 3.5. Among the reasons for volunteering most frequently given were the desire to save money and so obtain financial security for their return home (seven mentions ), the challenge of difficult assignments (seven mentions), and the desire to visit interesting places (seven mentions). Five men were attracted by the communal life of Scott Base, and five by the desire for adventure and their need for camaraderie. Two men wanted to prove themselves capable of withstanding isolation, and to learn more about themselves and other people. One man mentioned his desire "to escape into an easy life with no worries".
However, on looking back at the end of their remote service, some of the men found that they had suffered certain disadvantages. Two of the four married men in the party missed the company of their wives and children, all three engaged men missed their fiancées, and two of the five single men regretted that they had lost a chance of meeting potential wives. Many men took advantage of the cheap telephone service between Scott Base and New Zealand to keep in regular contact with their families and friends, and also to plan ahead for the next stage in their lives. A few kept up the telephone conversations from a sense of duty, and the remainder lost interest in their relationships as time went by. A few men were uncertain of the future for vocational as well as social and emotional reasons because they had no permanent jobs to which to return. One man was uncertain of his future in establishing good relationships in any situation, because he had developed such a critical awareness of the faults in others that he had difficulty in accepting people, and he felt that others would have difficulty in accepting him. Many of the men yearned for such familiar stimuli as the smell of mown grass, the sight of vegetation, the song of birds, the noise of rain, the different colours, textures and styles of clothes. Two men felt that their complete environment was so organically sterile that they tried to change it by growing grass and plants from seed that others had left behind. Another felt cramped by the physical environment of his 8’ x 8’ bunkroom with its tiny windows looking out on the unchanging scene of white ice.
Some men found it more difficult than others to settle into life in Antartica when the glamour of selection and the novelty of the place had worn off.. The active out door sportsmen found it irksome to be confined indoors during the four winter months of darkness, and many of them took the husky dogs out for exercise when the moon was up. Some men watched their health closely, and they became preoccupied with slight changes in their weight. Eight men suffered occasional disturbances of sleep and three spent days at a time without sleep. Five men thought they had slowed up mentally and physically, and certainly they gave an observer the impression of having regulated themselves to a slow pattern of activity that might have been adaptive for Antarctica but maladaptive elsewhere. A few men found that their jobs made such constant and unchanging demands upon them that they used their leisure time deliberately in varied stimulating activities. Others whose workload was spasmodic incurred the resentment of those on fixed daily work schedules for appearing to have not enough work to do.
The men said that they expressed their resentment in different ways. They never fought with each other, but they argued directly on different issues and indirectly through politics and religion. Two men were somewhat aggressive, resistant and paranoid towards both the interviewer and the rest of their group, and they were anxious to get home to New Zealand. Sometimes the men avoided conflict by withdrawing to their own bunk rooms, but one man withdrew while still in the company of others by developing a blank gaze which he described as 'the Antarctic 50-mile stare'. Most of the men found that they were unable to generate fresh conversation after about three months, and they were glad of the new material for discussion that came from film evenings, parties and celebration dinners that marked the different solar and social stages of the Antarctic year.
Most of the men had firm opinions about the kind of people who should be selected for Antarctic parties. They said that they would select only those who were technically qualified, well educated, physically fit, adaptable, tolerant and self-sufficient with spare-time interests. They said that they would reject those who were introverts, selfish, heavy drinkers, bad-tempered 'know alls', perpetually discontented, and 'personally troubled'. A few men said that they would not accept those below 20 or over 40, nor those who were married, nor those single men 'who liked women too much'.
(pages 85 to 87, Vol 43, No 2, Occupational Psychology, 1969, 'Ability, Stability and Social Adjustment among Scott Base Personnel, Antarctica', a preliminary study by A.J.W. Taylor, Victoria University)
3) Man as an Artist:
"With just another 180 days to go, most people are going to do a surprising number of things. 'Chomper' will fill 1,600 man-days of food boxes. George will send 908,300 dits and 804,150 dahs, Dave's ionosonde will send up 46,780,000 individual pulses of 10 kw each, not counting World Days, John will photograph the sky 24,000 times in colour, and 30,000 times in black and white, Bill will say another 79,400 words, R.B.T. on his weekly sked, Warwick will examine 58,320,000 millimetres of lines on the seismograms, Blue will bake another 1,384 buns, Russell (D.V.) will provide 239,000,000 watt hours of power, Alan's generator motor will make another 389,000,000 revs, Ian will record 30,200 more feet of tape of whistles, and (somebody) will wash his socks once more". (notice pinned up on the noticeboard at Scott Base … A.J.W. Taylor)
4) Man Answers:
What were the attractions of remote service to you?
Did you set yourself any goals or tasks?
Did you finish them?
What were the disadvantages of remote service, and what did you miss?
What was the most difficult time during wintering-over for you?
How did you mark the passing of time?
Were you looking ahead to the future at any time?
Do you feel that you have slowed up in any way?
Was your sleep affected?
Whom did you know best at Scott Base?
What activities and attitudes (a) united the group? (b) strained the group?
If you were selecting a team for places like Scott Base, what sort of people would you (a) include? (b) exclude?
How would improve the selection methods?
Any other comments you care to make?
(Scott Base Personnel Notes … Appendix l … A.J.W. Taylor.)
5) Man is Encouraged:
Saving: There is nothing to spend money on, on the island.
Adventure: Doing something different which few other people have done.
Companionship: There is normally close comradeship amongst the expedition members.
Variety: There is a large number of tasks to be carried out on the islands. Consequently members have an opportunity to try their hand at a large number of tasks they may not normally come into contact with, e g , building, plumbing, etc.
Sense of Pride in One's Own Achievement: As each member is the local expert on the equipment he maintains he is very important in the overall running of the station. He has to make his own decisions and is largely responsible for organising his own work schedule. Expedition members often find that the year spent on the islands broadens their outlook as they are mixing with a group of people with varied backgrounds, and relying on their own imitative and ability.
6) And Man is Warned:
Loss of Contact With People in New Zealand: This can be particularly difficult if there are problems at home.
Sproadic Mail: Arrangements for bringing mail to the islands sometimes fall through at the last minute.
Having to Work Under Pressure Occasionally: Every member can expect two or three emergencies in his department each year.
Relying on One's Own Resources: Sometimes it is not possible to replace faulty fittings, Etc., immediately, and expedition members must improvise. This can be frustrating at times as jobs can take two or three times as long as they would in New Zealand.
Finding Another Job After the Cessation of the Expedition Year: When it's over, you'll have to get a new job back home. Many members are able to use the year on the island to their advantage, in study and experience.
Friction: can sometimes occur between any group of people in a confined area with little out s ide contact.
(page 18, 'A Year of Your Life', 1973 Official M.O.T. publication.)
SHORTEST DAY CELEBRATIONS
The lads are off to the Western Park Hotel, Tinakori Road, WELLINGTON, at 1700 hours on Thursday, 21st June to tell tales tall or true. Get your leave pass in now.
What's Going on Down There …
Report from National Museum,
Evening Post, June 2nd, 1973.
Early last month a special steel-framed trawl net was carefully lowered over the side of the research vessel 'Acheron' into the Pacific waters some 600 miles northeast of New Zealand. The site was the Kermadec Islands, on the 10,000 metre-deep Kermadec Trench.
Three hours and one and a half miles of trawl wire later a bulging net was hauled aboard with straining block and tackle, and its contents released onto the deck. Two National Museum biologists immediately began sorting through this sample from the dark ocean depths and were soon exclaiming at the beauty and strangeness of the catch. First to catch the eye were a number of 'glass' sponges - animals with vase-like bodies formed of silica spicules arranged in delicate radiating patterns, with anchoring attachments of long silica threads twisted into sparkling glassy ropes. These sponges live anchored to the mud and ooze in deep water, and their hollow bodies often provide homes and shelter for tiny grotesque fishes, and shrimps.
Also prominent in the catch were remarkably plant-like animals called gorgonians, which consist of hundreds of delicate polyps scattered over an erect, branched skeleton. Gorgonians are luminescent, and in the darkness shine with a pale lilac light. Among their branches live small rose coloured shrimps with enormously elongated arms, tiny spotted barnacles, and exquisitely sculptured brittle-stars. The 'Acheron's' trawl also scraped from the mud at 1200 metres some of the more mobile animals like tall turretted shells with enclosed hermit crabs, orange sea cucumbers with flabby sail like appendages, and a variety of spiny sea urchins. One urchin, which has an inflatable body shaped like a Tam-O-Shanter, was recognised as having reputedly toxic spines, and therefore demanded extra careful handling.
The spectacular specimens having been safely removed from the net, the scientists then set about sorting through a large pile of pumice rubble which had also been scooped up. The pumice, evidence of past eruptions from the still active volcano on Raoul Island, provided an ideally pitted surface for small creatures to shelter in, and myriad crabs, brittlestars, lantern shells, and corals resulted from careful searching. Every specimen so collected was placed in preservative, labeled, and packed away for later detailed study in laboratories at the National Museum. (By a special Act, National replaces Dominion in the title for the museum in Buckle Street, Wellington, from this year. Ed.)
The object of this deep-water trawl was twofold. Firstly, the work was a part of museum's long-term research into the natural history of the New Zealand region, which includes the study of marine organisms. The museum had sampled the ocean floor in the Kermadec area before, but not at such a great depth, it had, however, worked the deep trench systems of Cook Strait for some years, and its scientists were interested in comparing the deep-water fauna of Cook Strait with that of the Kermadecs, some 1000 miles to the North (from Wellington- Ed).
Secondly, the museum biologists wanted to repeat a 1100 metre trawl station worked near Raoul Island by the British ship, H.M.S. 'Challenger' in 1874. The 'Challenger' had visited New Zealand in the course of a world cruise aimed at providing the first detailed information on the biology, physics and chemistry of the oceans. The great variety of marine animals taken by the ship near New Zealand and the Kermadec Islands created tremendous interest at the time, and many of the species described from 'Challenger' samples had not been collected since. The museum therefore welcomed an opportunity to take a sample in virtually the same area as the early survey ship had.
The 72 foot Dunedin-based research vessel 'Acheron', owned by Mr A.J. Black, is specially fitted for deep trawling, and was able to work several deep stations for the museum while on a service run to the meteorological station at Raoul Island. The trawls not only provided the museum with its deepest samples to date, but also brought to light a number of entirely new species, and many which had not been seen since the HMS 'Challenger' visited the Kermadec Islands almost 100 years ago.
An Explosive Affair.
Soon after settling in at Campbell Island the Party Leader discovered that I possessed an 'Explosives Ticket’. It being one of his duties to inspect the stock of explosives, to my delight, he took me along.
At that time there was an unusually large stock of various types of explosive, together with plenty of detonators. Amongst it was some potent looking War Dept. material. The Oi/c asked what it was like - "Only one way to find out" I replied, and fitted a small dollop with a detonator and a short fuse, and flung it into the scrub. Unfortunately it landed near the hen house, and the resulting bang sent the half dozen scraggy hens on their way airborne into the bush. The echoes also put the native birds up for some distance around. "Eeh, me bluddy birds," said the Oi/c, who originated from the wild moors of Yorkshire. It was quite a potent drop of stuff, indeed.
Later, when we discovered we were getting quite a friendly and co-operative US Picket Ship that particular season, discussion in the lounge centred on how to welcome them and certain vital supplies we hoped they were bringing for us. The suggestion was made that we should fire a salute as their anchor went down and the NZ flag was broken out at the signal mast. This, the Oi/c assured us, was correct protocol. How to fire a salute? Suddenly I thought of all those 'plugs' and detonators.
After a little persuasion, consent was forthcoming, and some plugs, wired with electric detonators, were suspended on a wire below a cliff near the ionosphere building, the leads going to a good observation point some way above. (There was a remarkable lack of volunteers to
assist with this work). The Picket Ship skipper was very tickled with his reception and in return gave a display with his 2 inch gun, which was appreciated by all but the 'Bluddy Birds.' Dad W.
Ian Kerr has forwarded us the following information to accompany the Hocken Library (Otago University) photoprint map of Campbell Island which is reproduced in our centre pages this issue. He says:
(This is a) photo-copy of the original in the Hocken Library, from a sheet containing the imprint: "London, Published as the Act directs, July lst 1828, by J.W. Norrie & Co. at the Navigation Warehouse and Naval Academy, No. 157, Leadenhall Street." The sheet in untitled and loosely accompanies the Library's copy of "The Complete East India Pilot" 5th Edition (London 1827). But it is not listed in the contents of the latter and is not, therefore, part of that publication.
Campbell Island members should retain their copy of the 'Islander' Vol 2, No 7 in their hip pocket for early settlement of the Monument Harbour Argument, when it next arises.
Kermadec Postage Stamp:
On the 31st October, 1969, a postal auction sale (No 43 British Commonwealth and Foreign Postage Stamps) was conducted by New Zealand Stamp Auctions, Auckland. I quote from the relevant section of the Catalogue:
Lot 300 :
KERMADEC ISLANDS Envelopes ( 2 ) the first Mss inscription "SUNDAY ISLAND MAIL / no stamps available / per Aux. Ketch 'Yvonne’ in top right corner and addressed to Sydney. 2nd unaddressed with circular rubber stamp reading "Kermadec Group / 10th May 1937 / Sunday Island Mail" all in sans serif capitals and impressed in purple. Also damaged M copy of Local stamp plus quantity of letter, articles, papers, photos, etc., all relating to these islands and the local stamp. (See Vol 5, p784-794) an interesting lot:- $40.
This was something I would loved to have perused, but unfortunately was in Australia at the time. I have seen one of these stamps (mint) and hope to reproduce a scale drawing I did of it in 1962, together with its history when I uncover it. Any member have any facts on this? It was a 3d, l 1/2" x l 1/2", 21 x 17 perforations with sketchy lettering (Kermadecs, Sunday Island, Letter Postage) and portraying a top sailed schooner in navy blue on off-white background.
BOOK REVIEW: SUWARR0W GOLD
Johnthan Cape Ltd., 1936.
Suwarrow Gold had a popular run with the public before and into the war years and I was amongst its readers. Possibly its success came from the sudden decline in the books published over the period and perhaps the light of romance was more necessary in those dark years. Surely a more romantic title would be difficult to conjure up, but strangely it is a collection of tales of the more brutal aspects of European intrusion into the Pacific during the second half of the nineteenth century. Most of the book's heroes and rogues are rewarded with a hatchet in the head or a spear in the spine as the peoples of this vast ocean adjust to their new masters.
The exposure by Cowan of the two major industries of evil - 'black-birding' by the Peruvian Government and ‘recruiting' by the Colonial authorities in Fiji, must have been new knowledge to most readers and perhaps would still have been a source of slight embarassment to the governing powers of these countries at the time of writing.
Suwarrow is an atoll that has frequently been in the news over the last few years - as a hideaway for eccentric hermits or a place to make a lonely stand when trying to draw attention to one's self. But the fact that the very sands which only just elevated these souls above the surrounding seas, once harboured Spanish pieces of eight is true enough, although the material reward has long been excavated. To this oceanic speck came Handley Bathurst Sterndale, the captain (wrongly quoted by me as a politician in 9/6) responsible for reporting to the New Zealand Government at length on the trade possibilities of the Pacific area. Sterndale set up a trading post (for his own safety it became a fort) at Suwarrow, operating through Henderson and Macfarlane of the Circular Saw sailing fleet, who dispatched the 'Ryno' to jointly collect Sterndale's copra and service the needs of Thomas Bell at Sunday (Raoul) Island.
Needless to say then, that Bell earned a chapter within Cowan's writings in a tale called 'The Isle of Lost Endeavour' (pages 169 to 184), which is adequate in detail and also includes the first and final settlement efforts on Raoul. Coupled with this is an interesting coverage of colonial events in Apia ('The Story of Apia Beach', pages 197 to 214) when Thomas Bell had his pub there. The real reason for the family exodus in 1878 may well lie within this chapter, rather than the paternal restlessness promoted by Elsie K. Morton in 'The Crusoes of Sunday Island.'
Suwarrow Gold has long since disappeared into the stack rooms of the larger public libraries, which ironically makes its availability a lot more ready. One gets the feeling when reading it, that Cowan is clearing his desk. He was a busy historian, somewhat in the romantic vein, so that his tales are filled with imagined speech and illustrated with rather shallow and colourless poetical extracts. But he loved the sea and was frequent tripper through the Pacific when steam was king and a wise missionary never turned his back on his flock. That his work can perhaps no longer grip the contemporary reader is a sign of worldly progress - his literary license was very much valid to another generation.
The German Imperial Navy at Raoul
In our last issue we read of the U.S.S.Co's 'Wairuna' coming to blows with the German raider 'Wolf' off Meyer Island in late April of 1917. The tale came directly from Roy Alexander's excellent book 'The Cruise of the Raider 'Wolf',' which in turn was reviewed in Vol 2, No 3 of 'The Islander'. A concluding section will appear in the September issue supplying technical notes on these ships.
Part 2: The Happenings at Sunday Island.
It was strange awakening the morning after the 'Wairuna' was captured. I was thumped into consciousness soon after dawn, to see, as a first waking sight and while still blear-eyed, our captain asleep nearby in a hammock. He was sparsely clad; a plump leg dangled over the side of the hammock, his arms were folded across his chest and he was snoring a little. At first I thought that I was drunk and dreaming; that all this some weird kind of hang-over. Until this startling moment, I had only seen our captain on such occasions as when he sat at the head of his dining table, made ship inspections, or received reports on his bridge or in his cabin always in well-cut uniform. The grinning second officer had wakened me to look at this strange sight. But even Rees, who was not exactly bashful, had not dared kick the rounded part of the captain's hammock, as he had mine. There were other queer sights all round the hold. In one corner the blackest man I had ever seen was rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, near him were sleeping Captain Meadows and his men. A venerable old party with a white beard was snoring away surrounded by a tribe of half-caste boys. Sleeping nearby was a gorilla-like gentleman with a pitted yellow face and wearing a knotted nightcap; he also appeared to be of this happy family. We found later that it was the complement of the full-rigged ship 'Dee', sunk in the Indian Ocean while on her way from Mauritius (her home port) to Bunbury, Western Australia.
Going up the ladder to the space under the poop, we found the two openings to the deck guarded by armed sentries. Away out past them the 'Wairuna' was swinging at anchor with the thick vegetation of Sunday Island in the background. The prisoners in the hold were beginning to move about by this time. After a light, a very light, breakfast of coffee and black bread the guards gave the signal that we might go on deck. Our deck space was the raised poop deck - the small deck right at the stern of the ship. From this point there was so much of interest to see that we did not even mind the scanty breakfast. First carne the 5.9 gun at the stern of the raider. This gun was the masterpiece of disguise. Looking at the thing even from the deck it appeared to be a cargo derrick supported by a pair of Samson posts. Flung across the centre of the sham derrick was a tarpaulin, underneath which sat a sentry wearing a telephone headpiece. He sat there during the whole time the prisoners were on deck, and was in constant communication with the bridge. A dummy pulley block and tackle on the muzzle of the gun completed the job. To clear the gun for action all that was necessary was to pull the dummy block from the gun muzzle and to rip off the tarpaulin. All ventilators on this deck were collapsible allowing a free swing for the gun. A small hatchway led to an ammunition magazine.
The only fault to be found with the disguise of the raider's poop was that the side rails were not the teak topped or steel rails of a merchant ship, but the collapsible side-chains of a cruiser. This detail, however, would not be noticed at sea unless by a nautical Sherlock Holmes. Looking down to the after deck where we had come aboard the previous evening, we saw two torpedo tubes on the forward deck, and two guns hidden by hinged sides under the raised monsoon deck at the bow, making seven 5.9 guns in all. On each side of the after deck were also large black tanks, wither gas or smoke tanks. The dozens of German sailors moving about the decks appeared to picked men. Most were of the stocky, well-built North German type. They appeared to range in age from twenty-odd to forty, the majority being from twenty-five to thirty. All were pleasant enough fellows, and did not bother the prisoners at all. In addition to the guards, machine guns covered the prisoner's deck from the boat deck. Even without them there were too many sharks swimming around the ship to make desirable an attempted escape to the island. This second day on the 'Wolf' happened to be a Sunday. Later in the morning the crew changed from their working rig, dressed in tropical kit, and full church muster was held on the forward deck. All wore cap-bands, and these represented almost every ship in the German Navy, excepting the S.M.S. 'Wolf'. After dinner we found that Sunday afternoon was looked forward to by the prisoners, a cup of cocoa being then issued to each man. In addition, it was the custom for the ship's band to give a concert on deck for a couple of hours. Oddly enough, this band on the 'Wolf' was one of the worst ever heard.
A landing party from the 'Wolf' found the orange trees at the abandoned Bell homestead in full bearing. This was the first fruit to come aboard the raider since leaving Germany. The crew of the 'Wolf' were busy on the Monday, when the 'Wairuna' was brought alongside the raider and the work of transhipping her bunkers and stores began. This work was interrupted frequently. A heavy swell caused the two ships to be cast off from each other for days at a time. The coal was just flung on to the 'Wolf's' deck. The main thing was to get it there, the coal-trimming being done whenever bad weather compelled the 'Wairuna' to be cast off. It was a fortnight before all bunkers were transhipped. 'Wairuna' was a rich prize for the 'Wolf'. The raider was short of coal, provisions - everything: and along wandered the ‘Wairuna' with 1200 tons of coal in her bunkers and a full list of stores. Most welcome were some forty live sheep. The ship was carrying these for fresh meat during the long trans-Pacfic voyage. No fresh meat had been seen on the 'Wolf' for months, and although the scurvy which was to sweep the ship later had not then appeared the meat was very valuable on board. The prisoners were given a meal or two of the fresh mutton.
In between coaling, everybody fished. Each time the ship changed her anchorage there would be a rush to get lines overboard, and for a time the catches would be remarkable. There were none of the smaller fish that swarm around the coral reefs a little farther on from these islands, but out of the deep-green water here were hooked all kinds of coloured beauties; fish of varieties few of us had seen before. There were fish resembling snapper, but ruby red and at least twice as large as the biggest snapper seen around Sydney; fish like enormous bream - some striped yellow and black, others even green. The rarity was a fish resembling in colour and from not any fish usually known. The fishing lasted until the sharks came. Then shark lines would go over. The Germans, particularly, found great sport in getting sharks aboard. Many of them had not seen a shark until they steamed into tropical waters aboard the 'Wolf'. These seemed to retain interest in the sharks throughout the cruise.
While at Sunday Island, one man thought of making a walking stick from a shark 's backbone. He had no sooner hit upon this idea that every man aboard seemed to want one of these curios. The sharks were split open and the backbones pulled out. The polished and complete walking stick may not have met with the approval of a Bond Street mercer, but it must be granted that they were unique. Captain Nerger was interested in the sharks. He had heard an old sea superstition that a shark's tail brings luck, so he had a tail cut off and fastened to the bow of the 'Wolf' for luck. That particular shark's tail certainly did its duty. (It was still there when they got to Keil some nine months later. Ed.)
Sunday, June 17th, 1917. The 'Wairuna' had been stripped of her bunkers and stores and was ready to be sunk. She was to have been sunk yesterday, but the appearance of a sailing ship off the island postponed the business. After Sunday muster the two vessels steamed to sea, heaving-to a couple of miles off the island. Time bombs were set aboard the 'Wairuna' by the last to leave her, but the explosion of these had no effect on the vessel. The 'Wolf' then opened fire with her 5.9 guns. The first shell tore into the engine room, a sheet of flame and smoke rising to the masthead. Shell followed shell along the waterline. It is a sickening sight to watch shells eating into the side of a ship; gaps and gashes appearing in the steel sides like holes in burnt paper. She turned slowly over to port and went down an hour or two after the first shot, her funnel snapping off and her burning cargo bursting from the hatches as she disappeared. Cargo to the value of hundreds of thousands of pounds went down with 'Wairuna.' She was loaded down to the mark with hides, flax, wool, Kauri gum and other New Zealand products.
Yesterday, a sail appeared on the skyline just as all was ready to sink the 'Wairuna', the stranger being the third ship off Sunday Island in a month. The 'Wolf' made after her, and a rare sight the stranger made as she was beating along under full sail. She was the American schooner 'Winslow' (Captain Trudgett), Sydney to Apia, Samoa, with 350 tons of coal, benzine and firebricks. Captain Nerger knew the cargo in the 'Winslow' immediately he made out her name. Details of her loading had been wirelessed to Apia a month ago , before she left Sydney. All these intercepted messages were, naturally, filed aboard the raider. 'Winslow' was another lucky capture for the 'Wolf'. Every bit of her cargo was of use; bunker coal, petrol for the seaplane, badly needed firebrick for the furnaces. That shark's tail lashed to the raider's bow for luck was beginning to work. Instead of making for the Tasman Sea, Nerger put back to the anchorage off Sunday Island, where the 'Winslow’ was stripped. That took another five days.
It was about this time that the incident occurred concerning Steers and Clelland. Chief Officer Steers and Second Engineer Clelland were both from the oil tanker 'Turritella.' The two men were mates; Steers was a big Englishman, Clelland a rangy New Zealander, both powerful men and both good swimmers. They were standing at the rail on the poop deck of the 'Wolf' one evening just before the prisoners were ordered below. Prisoners were allowed on deck until sunset while the raider was at Sunday Island. There did not appear to be much ahead of them aboard the 'Wolf' - nothing beyond the practical certainty of a quick and messy death. Less than a mile away was Sunday Island and freedom. A landing party could not hope to find two men in that thick scrub. Of course there were the sharks to be risked, a number were still being hooked from the raider's decks.
The two looked at each other, grinned and nodded. On the next evening they had a few squares of cork from a lifebelt pushed down their shirts and some matches wrapped in oiled silk. Just before going below a group of prisoners gathered at the stern as a screen. Others distracted the attention of the sentry - and the two men swarmed down a shark line to hang to the rudder until dark before attempting the swim to the island. Somebody else answered to their names at roll-call. They were not missed until the 'Wolf' was at sea. Steers and Clelland did not reach the island. It was a desperate chance - sharks were all around the ship.
Friday, June 22nd, 1917. The 'Wolf's' last day at Sunday Island. Stripped of her cargo, the 'Winslow’ was towed out from the Island and two bombs placed on board; one at the bows, one aft. The 'Winslow's' stern was blown off at the first explosion, flame and smoke rising far above the schooner's masts. Still she did not sink. It was necessary that no recognizable wreckage be in the vicinity when searching vessels came, as they inevitably would, looking for the missing 'Wairuna'. The 'Winslow' had to be completely destroyed, so the 'Wolf's' guns opened fire. All that afternoon the schooner was pounded and smashed. For hours the guns were firing. Going below for something, I noticed that dust and rivets were dropping into the prisoners' hold as the guns kept firing. It was like being inside a steel tank that was being beaten with crowbars. The 'Winslow' fell apart plank by plank as we watched. When shelling ceased at dusk, forty or fifty shells had been rained into her - and she still floated. Pounded and smashed - burning from stem to stern - the 'Winslow' was still afloat and drifting inshore when the 'Wolf' steamed out from Sunday Island for the last time.
The raider was off to the Tasman Sea to lay her mines. (To be concluded.)
*I erronously mentioned in the Book Review Vol 2 No 3, that the 'Wairuna' was sunk just before the schooner 'Winslow' came over the horizon. This was however, not the case, the sinking of the 'Wairuna' was delayed by the arrival of the 'Winslow'.
The Islands Report In:
During the last months of 1972, the convectors failed and new ones were sent down on the USCGC 'Burton Island.' These are now in operation, however, this meant that the whole camp led a heatless existence from the end of December until April. To install the heater in the technical building, it was necessary to raise the whole roof by 8 inches and while this was being done it was decided to incorporate a new verandah.
The twin corner reflector on the riometer aerial erected at the foot of Beeman are now in operation. The DSIR party of P. Johnstone, and T. O'Neill assisted by the whole camp at times completed the tasks before the departure of the USCGC 'North Wind' on l March. It was the last occasion on which the Oliver tractor was used. After 20 years hard labour, the Oliver is to be replaced by a four-wheel unit.
Relocation of the navigation beacon to a more visible spot on Beeman Point has taken place. A total re-piping of the hot water system in the hostel was also carried out.
Fresh vegetables supplied in the airdrop by Bristol Freighter, re-kindled much flavour on the palates. This was short lived, however, as we are now back into dried potatoe and tinned food. Also welcome was the re-supply of films and mail. Despite the apparent negative weather conditions in the morning with winds gusting to 60 knots the Freighter arrived during the 'ridge' when the winds were only reaching 10 knots. Almost no movement was noticed as it circled down across St Col and the homestead spur before disgorging its load and heading down the harbour. For the rest of the evening it was a race against the failing weather due to the increasing wind and rain. Only the perishables could be recovered before a halt was called. The rest were collected on the following morning.
Routine maintenance on the crane is complete. The boat has been removed from the water for its annual overhaul. Moves are now afoot to rebuild the boat trolley and relay the slipway on the new concrete slab. Construction of a new turntable using rollers from two of the cargo rollers and two sheets of plate with present rails welded to the top is taking place.
At the hydrogen shed a new and taller header tank has been fitted replacing the previous tank. Work on the painting of the interior of the hut at North West Bay began in April, the exterior received a coat of green where it is corrugated iron and exposed timber.
To date five Whales have been sighted in North West Bay. Rather early in the season. In a sample of the local cattle taken it was found the hooves have suffered badly with very long nails developing. As an estimate there are approximately 20 beasts in the herd which has divided into two sections, one occupying the position behind Mt Menhir and the other on Dumas Saddle.
Our expedition to North East Harbour began with the task of marking a track with orange wooden pegs and slashing away through the coprosma and dracophyllum.
The site of the old whaling station was inspected, all three tripots are sound, but otherwise it is a picture of sea elephants and sea lions distraction as is so typical of the shores where access for these beasts is possible. Crushed grass and interspersed with humpy hollows, some filled with rank, festering water.
The trip coincided with a period of unusual calm in the weather. During the last month there have been five falls of snow around the camp pushing the temperature down to the chilly minus 2 on occasions.
Beautification of the interior of the hostel continues with all but two of the bedrooms being programmed to be repainted. At the same time, melting roof panels resulting from years of dripping water are being replaced completing the efforts of last year's party to this end.
Mid-winter is racing up and many old members may reflect with amusement the situation which arose during this period in their tenure on the island.
RAOUL ISLAND …. or …. THE ADVENTURES AND STIRRING MOMENTS OF THE MAD MOB OF RAOUL … Part 2.
Since our last report we have certainly placed ourselves forever and a day deeply etched into the history of the Island.
It all began one sunny afternoon in mid-January, when somebody went for a quiet shoot along Boat Cove Road. Upon returning to the village a few hundred yards past the quarry he came upon a large barbecue which was blazing merrily on both sides of the road past Runsy's to the top of the 'fox phone, but fortunately the smoke had been seen by those at the village, so the fire brigade was on its way.
It took a total of four days to completely contain the fire, in all over 2000 gallons was used in the fight. No easy task this, as all the water had to be brought from the hostel in 46 gallon drums. The fire extended from up a bank for 15 feet, then along a flat area to below the road for an acre, then, because of a falling piece of burning timber, 400 feet below the road. This was the problem area. However, with such a fine effort by everyone, we eventually won, though three acres were destroyed. Each of us were very tired after all this. I have noticed since, matches have been hidden from me.
About a month later the next episode came about when our own Stirling Moss broke the track record from the hostel to the farm and in the process broke the Fordson Major and near enough himself. In fact, if about one mile an hour is fast - what are we going to experience when we return to New Zealand. The main thing however, the unnamed was not seriously hurt for which we are all thankful and I believe he is very much of the same mind.
February, also brought about 23 days of rain. Who was the clown that told us this was a sub-tropical paradise. He left out the piece that we also have our own built-in monsoon season. All this whilst the land of the long white shroud suffered its worst drought in years. We suffered little damage fortunately other than, of course - another 4 feet of Bell's Ravine vanishing. Won't be long before the farm has its own 'foxway.
Had two unexpected blackball drops from the 'Auckland' Air Force supported from Gavin, being a Whenuapai lad; while Andy from the 'Bull's' Air Force keeps telling us his Skyhawks will drop in one day.
Places are unchanged in the fishing and shooting: Colin 'Englander' and 'Bwana' Bob respectively. Andy is definitely trying the hardest to overhaul Colin, Bruce lying a good second for the goats. Rats are popular to shoot. Wooly by now has over 100 rats in respect of the garden. They are far from popular as they have given all the crops hell this year. I believe Uncle Les has brought in a Specialist, a Raterminatoxoligratacatdeadimist.
The extension to the Met. Building is now complete even to the laying of carpet. Ex-islanders look back to your day for things must be improving. Gone are the days of firstly: grass, then mud, wood, concrete and of late: lino.
Here is food for thought for ex-islanders and more so future types. How about each year something constructive be done in helping the Island and Mother Nature keep its balance, namely the piecemeal removal of the dozens of empty 46 gallon diesel drums that either by accident or past policy have been lobbed over the many cliff edges from the hostel to the top of the 'fox. Suggested by our resident conservationist - Colin.
John, our bird man, who has not quite gone to seed, would like to see communal bird baths erected. This was possibly brought about by the sight of a lonely Heron sitting on the edge of the Hume tank waiting patiently for a fish to swim past.
During the week the general health of the team is good; its in the weekends when cooking rosters come about appetites suddenly dwindle, yet at least our chef Gavin, does not have to lurk about the kitchen so much to keep an eye on what goes into the pot. A new idea in the garden, whereby, instead of Andy the farmer and myself sharing it - Colin, Andy and myself have our own plots which is bringing about a lot of good natured competition and raspberries. Quite successfully, Bwana managed to grow a fine crop of weeds, which was the first thought, but they turned out to be Wong Bok cabbage, suitable for consumption by sheep or other livestock.
No doubt readers will have heard about the Raoul Island Swingers Club. We are all anxiously awaiting the forthcoming mail to see if all the New Zealand swingers (female) reply.
Slimming has proved popular, why I don't know. There are no chicks here, only the Raoul fowl type. But slimming is necessary in some instances, especially after our technician fell through the Met building extension. Our only visitor since the traditional
'black balls', was a fly-over by 40,000 rivets, a Bristol Freighter. But in all, this has not worried us unduly, as we have all experienced a first class six months. May the following continue in this vein, especially with loads of lovely letters from the lovelys.
Bob 'Bwana' Ferguson.
(And our thanks also to Les Colins R&CSC, who puts up with all that QRM and QRN to get the news through to members. Editor. )
A Change of Programme:
DATE FOR FILM EVENING IS TRANSFERRED
This information comes too late to be included at the business end of 'The Islander', but is sufficently important to be posted in the June issue.
Due to the declining numbers attending the Annual Reunion, it has been decided by Committee to cancel this function for 1973. It had been intended to hold this evening on Saturday 9th October.
To fill the space and to increase interest in the 1973 AGM, the Annual Film Evening will be transfered near to this date, possibly Saturday 22nd of September.
A notice of films to be screened will be advertised in the September issue, as well as notice of AGM, which will be conducted at the normal venue.
P Ingram for: The President.
That 'Foot in the Door':
"LINER WILL TAKE TOURISTS ON ISLAND CRUISE STARTING AT CHATHAMS …. "
The 'Post' (Wellington) 9-6-73
The Chatham Islands, Auckland Islands, Macquarie Island, Campbell Island and a host of other out-of-the-way places will be visited by American tourists in November on the liner 'Linblad Explorer' which will be making a New Zealand cruise with a difference.
The 2300 ton Finnish-built ship has been especially designed as the result of experience gained during the past by her owners, Linblad Travel Expeditions. She is one of the first vessels built to meet the safety requirements to the United States Coast Guard for new ships constructed after 1968, and has a 6000 mile cruising radius. The 250 foot long ship, powered by a 3800 hp diesel engine which gives a speed of 15 knots, also has a number of special features. These include a rudder ice-knife, pilot-house de-icer variable- pitch propeller, bow thruster, an ahead shoal and ice-detecting echo sounder, and two radars of different wavelengths to aid navigation and safety when cruising in high latitudes.
There are 50 outside rooms, each with a private shower and toilet, and accommodation for 92 passengers. The ship is air conditioned and has piped music.
The New Zealand cruise, third in a current season of six cruises lasting from May 1973 to May 1974, ranges from $US 2115 to $US 2635. In addition there is an airfare from Los Angeles ranging from $US 578 (group travel) to $US 1526 (first class). It is mainly for Americans, and passengers arrive at Auckland via Nandi and join the ship in early November. The 'Linblad Explorer’ then leaves for the Chatham Islands to anchor at Port Hutt, where a full day visit will be made to Waitangi, the main settlement on the island. Next day the ship leaves for Pitt Island where a seaward inspection is made. Bounty Islands are the next locality visited.
"It is extremely difficult to land at these islands but attempts will be made," it is stated. "Here are millions of erect created penguins and Bounty Island albatross as well as fur seals in great numbers." The 'Linblad Explorer' arrives off the islands at 8 am and leaves again at 6 pm.
On the following day a shore excursion will be made to Antipodes Islands. The ship arrives at 6 am and leaves at 12 noon to arrive next day at 6 am at Campbell Island. The evening will be spent with the staff of the New Zealand weather station and next morning there will be a visit over the island to view birdlife, elephant seals and fur seals.
Another full day will be spent at Macquarie Island to see what is described as "the most extraordinary wildlife in the world." The evening is spent with the staff of the Australian weather station. Next morning the tourists will be taken on an investigation tour of the penguin colonies and to view the huge elephant seal of the island.
On the next and 17th day of the cruise the ship anchors off the Auckland Islands. She will cruise around the main island and anchor at Enderby Island for the night. The next day there will be a visit ashore to view the sea-lions.
The Snares are the last islands to be visited and it is not certain whether landing will be made. The cruise ends with a call at Milford Sound where a whole day will be spent - and then to Bluff. Tourists will then fly to Auckland and return to the United States by air via Nandi.
Prior to taking this sub-antarctic cruise, the 'Linblad Explorer' cruises out of Indonesia to visit Java, New Guinea and other places.
The second cruise, which starts in October, includes Indonesia, the Great Barrier Reef, Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island, the Three Kings and Auckland.
After the sub-antarctic cruise, the ship leaves Bluff to make an Antarctic cruise, then a west coast of South America cruise, and a South and Central America cruise.
The New Zealand representative for Linblad Travel (Mr R.G. Stevenson) said that the voyages were actually not tourist cruises but 'study tours.' There would be well-known lecturers on board. Negotiations were still being made for permits to land on the various islands. These had not been finalised as yet and were subject to approval from the New Zealand and Australian authorities.
Duly Signed and Sealed:
The following historical message for CW transmission from Raoul to Aeradio, Wellington in 1937, will be of interest to students of Kermadec history, as it marks the termination of over 100 years of private enterprise on Raoul Island. It recently came to light in an ageing message log:
Aeradio Wellington Raoul 24 Nov 1937.
An agreement by Mr Bacon has been signed and witnessed as follows and will be mailed you in due course stop Agreement I do hereby consent to the taking under the provisions of the Public Works Act, 1928, all that area in the Auckland Land District containing by admeasurement 275 acres more or less being Section 9 of Raoul (Sunday) Island and being all the land comprised in Certificate of Title Volume 475 Folio H8 (Auckland Registry) as the same is more particularly delineated on the plan marked FWD 96749 deposited in the Oftice of the Minister of Public Works at Wellington and thereon edged green and I do hereby agree to accept the sum of nine hundred and eighty pounds (£980) in full and final settlement of all claims and demands for compensation, costs, damages and expenses in respect of the taking of the land together with one fourteen foot double-ended clinker built boat.
As witness my hand this twenty forth day of November, nineteen hundred and thirty-seven.
Signature Alfred Bacon
Witness Leo Joseph Stanaway
Johnny is Put to Work :
A rare bit of income and all done by nautical means, must have pleased Johnny Wray at the time, and serves as a footnote to his photograph in the last issue:
Aeradio Wellington Raoul 22 Nov 1937
…. Further my message of 2 October reemployment of ketch 'Ngataki' with owner John W. Wray of 94 Lucerne Road, Remuera, Auckland stop details of agreement satisfactorily fulfilled as follows stop 30 Sept to assistance in freighting heavy stores by whaler from Low Flat to Boat Cove as agreed £3-12-0 and 1 Oct to circuit of Raoul by Ketch 'Ngataki' assisting topo survey as agreed £5 stop total £8-12-0 …. Anderson.