A Sergeant in Samoa

Walter Hall enlisted 5 days after war was declared and was part of the Samoan Expeditionary Force.

The hat badge of the New Zealand Samoa Expeditionary Force featured three palm trees, a crown and a garland of silver tree fern. The palm trees were borrowed from an earlier proposed German flag and coat of arms for Samoa. After the War, when the Western Samoa Trust Territory (now Western Samoa) was established, the new flag incorporated the three palm trees and added the Union Jack.

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Trained as a chemist, Walter was assigned to No 4 Field Ambulance of the New Zealand Medical Corps. Discharged with the last of the Samoan force in April 1915, he re-enlisted a month later, serving on the hospital ships Maheno and Marama as a medicine dispenser.

Walter settled in the North Island after the War, first in Feilding, then in Palmerston North. He struggled with addiction and tragically ended his life on 20 June 1923 by drug overdose.

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The Pull-Thro'

The Pull-Thro’ newspaper, also titled The Noumea Nightmare, The Suva Sendoff and The Samoa Sun, was produced by New Zealand soldiers in Samoa.

Using an 1860s printing press in Apia, they printed seven issues between October 1914 and May 1915. Articles focused on the soldiers’ perspectives and often included humorous stories, advertisements and cartoons.

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Souveniring in Samoa

New Zealanders took the opportunity to collect war trophies and local souvenirs while in Samoa. Recognising the importance of these objects, many were collected and gifted to museums.

On 1 May 1915, only a fortnight after returning to New Zealand, Walter visited Canterbury Museum and donated a piece of the British Consular ensign flag he had collected.

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Letter from Walter in Apia to his family in Christchurch, 14 January 1915

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The First Christmas

Many people thought the War would be over in days and certainly by Christmas, but New Zealand would spend four Christmases at war.

Walter spent the first Christmas in Apia. In a letter to his family, he thanked them for the presents they sent and told them about the other soldiers’ excitement when the Christmas mail arrived. On Christmas Day, Walter visited the house of a Samoan family and feasted on duck, piglet, pineapple and trifle.