They Served at Sea
Beyond the men of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the First World War there were those who served in the Navy, on the sea, below the surface, in the air and on land. A naval war is a global campaign and a hundred years later, it is a mostly forgotten fact that the war was brought to the very shores of New Zealand.
In August 1914 New Zealand had just commissioned a small cruiser as a training ship. It was quickly prepared for war and after participation in the occupation of German Samoa HMSPhilomel was part of the escort for the ships carrying the Expeditionary Force overseas.Philomel spent the next three years in the Middle East.
War regulations prevented men of military age from going overseas without a special passport. An exception was granted to the Royal Navy to recruit men for service in anti-submarine motor launches in 1916. Around 100 officers and 100 qualified motor mechanics were entered. They did not serve as a group, being scattered around the British Isles and the Mediterranean. Many took part in the raids on Zeebrugge and Ostend in April and May 1918, a large percentage winning gallantry awards.