More Letters from WW1


Letters Home from Samoans serving in WW1. Extracts from the Samoa Times Newspapers, Nelson Memorial Public Library, Apia.

8 Sept, 1917 Edition.

Pvt William Stowers, writing to his brother Louis Stowers. Dear Louis, Just a few lines to let you know at home that I am out of danger and as well as can be expected, my wound consisting of a bullet through the back of my neck and coming out by my right ear; the result is that my jaw is affected. Probably I’ll be in England for 3 or 4 months before they send me to France again. I am well looked after where I am, the nurses are very nice. Brothers James and Bob are both in Englad and getting along very well. Well dear brother, I must now conclude with my best alofa to all at home, Bella and children and not forgetting your dear self. Good bye. Pray for us. Your loving brother William.

15 June, 1918 edition.

A taumafataga feast fa’a-Samoa, given by the relatives of Pvt. William Stowers took place at Leauva’a last Saturday in celebration of his return to Samoa. Pvt Stowers left for the Front with the 18th Reinforcements and having been wounded in the Somme Battle, was returned to New Zealand and is now home to be with his family. At the conclusion of the repast, Judge Roberts gave a short address with a complimentary reference to the Stower family, mentioning the fact that no fewer than three sons of Mr J. Stowers have seen service at the front.

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5 comments

  1. Wow Lani, I am so stoked right now, today being ANZAC day and all, I was trying to do some research on my Great-Grandfather William Fredrick Stowers and googled his name and what should pop up, but your sleepless in samoa blog: Samoan Soldiers WW1. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read my great-grandfathers letter to his brother Louis back in Samoa while he was re-couperating in England from a gunshot wound to the neck. We always knew our Great-Grandfather was wounded in the war, but because details were sketchy for years we believed he had been wounded in the chest and at Gallipoli, Turkey, thanks to his own letter extract on your blog, we can finally set the record straight regarding some of our families history. I am so interested in accessing the archives at the Nelson Public Library in Apia, I plan to make a trip to Samoa to further my research. I know that my Great-Grandfather served with his two brothers Robert *(Bob) and James Stowers as they are on the Roll of Honor on the Apia Clock Memorial, however I am hungry to find out more details about his mother and father etc. I also found 10 photo’s of my Great-Grandfather in military uniform via the Auckland Library Historical Archives which I am really excited about. Well I’ll stop raving on, but thank you so much for posting up this blog, as a proud great-grand-daughter tries to piece her historical past together. Fa’afetai Caroline Stowers (Melbourne – Australia) xxxxx

    1. Talofa Caroline – lovely to get your message. I have spent many hours in the Pacific Archives Room at the Nelson Library. If you get the chance, I strongly urge you to go there. They have original newspapers from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s which are a fascinating insight into our ancestors. I love the ‘ordinary’ real details about peoples lives. There are letters sent home from more servicemen and also notices about deaths and births and descriptions of marriages. You can read about your ancestors wedding dresses, cakes, who was at their wedding and more. There is also articles about social events and outings – balls, picnics, sports, and parties. The death notices are very sad, esp during the 1918 epidemic time. One day there would be one about the parents dying, then the next day, notices about the children, the nextday, their grandparents and cousins. My worry is these newspapers are not being stored in any special conditions. They wont last forever. Defn go check them out on your next trip to Samoa.

      1. Talofa Lava Lana – thanks a million for the extra info above, which I will definitely use on my next visit to the homeland of Samoa. My great-grandfather William Fredrick Stowers has a rather sad ending to his war story. While he was away fighting in Europe, he had left behind in Samoa, his sweetheart Losa (Rose) Ryan and their infant son William Tolai Stowers *(my grandfather). A telegram was sent to Samoa to my great-grandmother Losa Ryan that her sweetheart William Fredrick Stowers had been killed in action. After a considerable length of time, the war finally ended and my great-grandfather William Fredrick Stowers after recouperating from wounds sustained in the war, in hospitals in England and then New Zealand, returned home to Samoa, only to be shocked to find that his sweetheart Losa Ryan after grieving for her lost love in the war had now in fact, re-married and was with child to her new husband Papalii Ulumalautia. Imagine the shock for both my great-grandfather and also my great-grandmother, but what could they do, eventually my great-grandfather migrated to Tokoroa, New Zealand and remarried several times, and fathered several more children. My great-grandmother went on to have several children as well to her second husband. Imagine how different our families stories would be if the war correspondence office had gotten the details of that fated telegram right! Who knows why things turn out the way they do sometimes? Fate and Destiny – call it what you will can play some cruel tricks on us sometimes…………………………………..All I can say is my family history is very interesting in deed, so excited to learn so much more. Fa’afetai once again Lana and God bless you and the aiga. xoxox

  2. Talofa there, I see from the above letter that your great – grand father migrated to Tokoroa, ( New Zealand). My Family moved there circa 1950 when there was 140 +- people there..
    I can remember the first Polynesian folk arriving.. all looking for work ofcourse at Forest Products, Kinleith..they were always dressed colourfully and kept to themselves ( apart from the good looking Samoan boys !! )..but they were always good swimmers , and enjoyed the local sports..hard working and the Church singing could be heard across town on Sundays..
    I can remember the Stowers name ..but not many specifics..
    As life as turned out for me ..I have visited many Islands in the South pacific and have taken a particular liking to Samoa.. and intend to spend more time there now that I am retired..
    I will make a point of visiting the Nelson Public Library ( this the first I’ve heard of it) ..as I enjoy fossiking through the old pictures, stories, newspapers etc..
    I was never aware that Samoans fought in WW1 .. until the above letter..so you learn something every day ..
    Apia is changing.. fast.. but its still a joy to see some of the old buildings managing to hang in there..
    Samoans are spread far and wide across the World..but I’m sure Samoa will always be home for you guys..
    ” Fa” and best wish’s, Chris Gayford.. N.Z

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