Siege of Toma
The Siege of Toma was a bloodless action during the First World War on the island of New Britain
New Britain
New Britain, or Niu Briten, is the largest island in the Bismarck Archipelago of Papua New Guinea. It is separated from the island of New Guinea by the Dampier and Vitiaz Straits and from New Ireland by St. George's Channel...

 between 14–17 September 1914 as part of the occupation of German New Guinea
German New Guinea
German New Guinea was the first part of the German colonial empire. It was a protectorate from 1884 until 1914 when it fell to Australia following the outbreak of the First World War. It consisted of the northeastern part of New Guinea and several nearby island groups...

 by the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force
Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force
The Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force was a small volunteer force of approximately 2,000 men, raised in Australia shortly after the outbreak of the First World War to seize and destroy German wireless stations in German New Guinea in the south-west Pacific...

 (AN&MEF). Australian forces had been dispatched to seize and destroy German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

Wireless telegraphy
Wireless telegraphy is a historical term used today to apply to early radio telegraph communications techniques and practices, particularly those used during the first three decades of radio before the term radio came into use....

 stations in the south-west Pacific
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 because they were used by the German East Asian Cruiser Squadron of Vice-Admiral Maximilian von Spee
Maximilian von Spee
Vice Admiral Maximilian Reichsgraf von Spee was a German admiral. Although he was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, the counts von Spee belonged to the prominent families of the Rhenish nobility. He joined the Kaiserliche Marine in 1878. In 1887–88 he commanded the Kamerun ports, in German West...

 which threatened merchant shipping in the region. New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 provided a similar force for the occupation of German Samoa
Occupation of German Samoa
The Occupation of Samoa was the takeover and subsequent administration of the Pacific colony of German Samoa in August 1914 by an expeditionary force from New Zealand called the Samoa Expeditionary Force and New Zealand's first action in World War I...

. Ultimately the German colonial government was forced to surrender after being surrounded, ending the last significant resistance in the territory.


The AN&MEF reached Rabaul
Rabaul is a township in East New Britain province, Papua New Guinea. The town was the provincial capital and most important settlement in the province until it was destroyed in 1994 by falling ash of a volcanic eruption. During the eruption, ash was sent thousands of metres into the air and the...

 on 11 September, finding the port free of German forces. Small parties of naval reservists landed at Kabakaul and Herbertshöhe on Neu-Pommern, south-east of Rabaul. These parties were reinforced firstly by sailors and later by infantry and proceeded inland to capture the radio station believed to be in operation at Bita Paka, 4.3 miles (6.9 km) to the south. The Australians were resisted by a mixed force of German reservists and Melanesian native police, who forced them to fight their way to the objective. By nightfall the radio station was reached, and it was found to have been abandoned, the mast dropped but its instruments and machinery intact. During the fighting at Bita Paka
Battle of Bita Paka
The Battle of Bita Paka was fought south of Kabakaul, on the island of New Britain, and was a part of the invasion and subsequent occupation of German New Guinea by the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force shortly after the outbreak of the First World War...

 seven Australians were killed and five wounded, while the defenders lost one German NCO and about 30 Melanesians killed, and one German and ten Melanesians wounded.

At nightfall on 12 September, the AN&MEF infantry battalion was landed at Rabaul. The following afternoon, despite the fact that the German governor had not surrendered the territory, a ceremony was carried out to signal the British occupation of New Britain.


After their defeat at Bita Paka on 11 September the remaining German forces retreated 19 miles (30.6 km) to Toma
-Places:In Burkina Faso*Toma, Burkina Faso, town in Nayala province*Toma Department, department in Nayala province, Burkina Faso*Toma, Banwa, town in Burkina Faso*Toma Koura, village in Tansila Department of Banwa Province, Burkina FasoIn Japan...

, believing they would have time to recuperate before the Australians arrived. Unbeknown to the Germans however, an advanced party of 200 Australians had followed them from Bita Paka and surrounded the town, preceding to bombard it with a 12 pound field piece. The protected cruiser
Protected cruiser
The protected cruiser is a type of naval cruiser of the late 19th century, so known because its armoured deck offered protection for vital machine spaces from shrapnel caused by exploding shells above...

  also arrived on the scene, and fired several shells at a ridge nearby. The German governor, Eduard Haber, knew his small force would eventually have to surrender but continued to hold out for several days hoping that the German East Asia Squadron
German East Asia Squadron
The German East Asia Squadron was a German Navy cruiser squadron which operated mainly in the Pacific Ocean between the 1870s and 1914...

 would arrive to relieve them. Nevertheless, the show of Australian firepower was sufficient to start negotiations, forcing Haber to realise that his hopes were futile. The Germans subsequently made favourable terms with the Australians, surrendering the colony and ending the siege. Terms were signed on 17 September and all military resistance ceased, with the remaining 40 German soldiers and 110 natives surrendering on 21 September. Haber was allowed to return to Germany while German civilians could remain as long as they swore an oath
An oath is either a statement of fact or a promise calling upon something or someone that the oath maker considers sacred, usually God, as a witness to the binding nature of the promise or the truth of the statement of fact. To swear is to take an oath, to make a solemn vow...

 of neutrality. Those who refused were transported to Australia from where they could freely travel back to Germany.


With the government's surrender, nearly all of German New Guinea came under Australian control. The majority of the Germans living there were interned and later deported. After the fall of Toma, the only remaining German resistance in the colony besides the occasional merchant raider was Leutnant Hermann Detzner
Hermann Detzner
Hermann Philipp Detzner was an officer in the German colonial security force in Kamerun and German New Guinea, as well as a surveyor, an engineer, an adventurer, and a writer....

and his band of 20 native police who evaded capture in the interior of New Guinea for the entire war.

Following the capture of German possessions in the region, the AN&MEF provided occupation forces for the duration of the war.

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