Deaths of Prisoners Interned on Somes Island
There are no internee graves in the Somes Island cemetery. A key reason for this so far as WWI is concerned anyway, is that only one prisoner actually died on the island - and he had to be taken to Wellington for an autopsy. The rest died in hospital on the mainland. They are buried in unmarked graves scattered around Karori Cemetery.
World War One: 1914-1918
Landgraf, Friedrich Wilhelm
Landgraf died on 20 February 1915 on Somes Island from heart disease immediately after carrying water up from the wharf. This was an arduous task and the strain presumably was too much for him. He was the only prisoner to actually die on the island.
He was buried Karori Cemetery, No. 57 Path P, Public 2.
Ref: National Archives (NA) file: J 46 225/1915, Inquest, Landgraf, William.
Aleason died on 14 June 1915 from a heart and lung disease. He was a Turkish seaman from a visiting ship, and was interned from that ship. He died in Wellington Hospital, to which he had been admitted while en route from Auckland to Somes. He was never actually on Somes, though this was only due to the state of his health.
He was officially ‘released’ from custody on 11 June 1915, as he lay dying in the hospital. Evidence suggests that the authorities preferred not to have his death as a POW on their records.
Burial details are not on his file, however, doubtless he is in a pauper’s section of Karori Cemetery.
file: AAAB 482/33I, Aleason, Carl. Also see AAAB
482/44f, Kellerman, F., Capt. P.W. Skelley to POWIB, London, 5/9/1916, which
gives his date of death. His death was registered at Wellington in the second
quarter of 1915, as Carlo Alexois, Folio 1259)
Schulte died on 9 March 1917. He was buried Karori Cemetery, No. 281, Path H, Public 2.
file: AAAB 482/10c, Schulte, Gustav (Note: I have not sighted this file).
Rohde died on 7 May 1917 of Morbus Cordis Mitral and Syncope, and is buried Karori Cemetery, No. 30 Path U, Roman.
file: AAAB 482/36I, Rohde, August.
Volkmin (Volkmann), George
Volkmann died in Wellington Hospital on 31 July 1917. A fellow internee/patient at the time, Wilhelm Knab, said that he was in the bed alongside Volkmann, in Ward 4, Wellington Hospital in July 1917. He said the nurses were very inconsiderate and antagonistic toward them and neglected them and even delayed bringing drinks of water. The doctor also said the things they complained of were good enough for them.
On the morning of Volkmann’s death he commented to the doctor that he was very short of breath, but the doctor laughed and ordered him to get up. He said he could not, but the doctor left orders to make him get up. Another internee in the ward subsequently helped him dress and go to the fireplace. In the afternoon the doctor returned and called him “the biggest loafer on earth” and that nothing was the matter with him.
Volkmann died that evening. An hour before he died, he asked the nurse for a drink of water with a little brandy, but was refused. POWs Lassau and Meshoullam (Michelon) were also present.
He is buried Karori Cemetery, in No. 290, Path P, Public 2.
file: AAAB 482/10j, Volkmin, George Otto. (Note: I have not sighted this file)
Dietz died of stomach cancer at Wellington Hospital, on 3 November 1917. He was buried on 5 November 1917 at Karori Cemetery, No. 74 Path U. Roman.
file: AAAB 482/6f, Dietz (Titz), Joseph, also under an erroneous spelling, AAAB
Kosel, Karl August
Kosel, who was known as ‘Hugo’, died of exhaustion early in the morning of 31 July 1918, on the Petone foreshore during a four-man escape attempt.
He was buried at Karori Cemetery on 2 August 1918, and is in Plot 301, Path H, Public No. 2.
files: AAAB 482/ 51f, Kosel, K.A.H., J
46 780/1918, Inquest, Kosel, Carl A.
Heyer died the night of 25 September 1918 of general paralysis and pneumonia (and had suffered from Delusional Insanity for some time), at Porirua Mental Hospital.
He was buried on 28 September 1918 at Karori Cemetery, No. 139 Path H, Public 2.
file: AAAB 482/61h, Heyer, Albert.
Manthei was a long-time Somes prisoner, but had been transferred to Motuihi by the time of his death. He died at Avondale Mental Hospital, Auckland, on 30 March 1919 after 3-4 days of unconsciousness. He was buried on 2 April 1919 at Waikumete Cemetery, Public Division, Plot A 3 - 60.
Manthei had been admitted to Avondale Hospital suffering from delusional insanity and was previously at Porirua Mental Hospital. The resulting inquest put his death down to pulmonary congestion accelerated by shock sustained by his having attempted to commit suicide by hanging on 27 March 1919, at the hospital.
His admission to Avondale Hospital on 19 March 1919, followed his attempt to escape from Narrow Neck Internment Camp the previous day.
Manthei was on Somes Island from August 1914 to 2 July 1918, the transfer being the possibility that there might be an improvement to his condition that might result from experiencing Motuihi’s warmer climate. He suffered Phthisis (pulmonary tuberculosis) and had spent time in Porirua Mental Hospital over the period, where he had threatened suicide in 1917.
NA file: AAAB 482/49k, Manthei, William.
More detail on these men to follow...
There are no markers at present on any of the graves and those the prisoners would have liked to install in 1918 are unlikely to have existed. This was because the prisoners were transferred to Featherston soon afterwards and most were then shipped out to their homelands aboard the troopship 'Willochra'.
World War Two: 1939-1945
Several deaths - To be completed
Guttenbeil, Hermann Edward
Guttenbeil died from heart failure on 15 June 1943 at the Pahiatua Internment Camp, aged 57 years. The Paihatua Cemetery's records describe him as the "Forces Chaplin". He was buried on 17 June 1943, in Area 6 of the cemetery, in Block 6, Plot 2.
WTU = Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington
NA = Archives NZ (formerly National Archives)