Lieutenant Samuel Hanna DSC an Aucklander, went to England in early 1915 and joined the Armoured Car section of the Royal Naval Air Service. After serving in France and Belgium he was part of a unit that was sent to Russia and fought the Turks and Germans in the Caucasus, Armenia and Northern Persia (now Iran). Following the Russian Revolution in October 1917 the members of the unit made their way out of Russia and were transferred to the Army.
The son of Andrew and Helen, Samuel Jackson Hanna was born in Auckland in 1892. After completing school he attended university and joined his father’s law firm and was part way through his final examinations when war broke out. Samuel held a commission in the 16th Waikato Territorial regiment from July 1911 until May 1913 and in the Motor Reserve of Officers from January 1915. With his friend, Jack Macky and his parents, Samuel left New Zealand in RMS Niagara in March 1915. He and Jack left the ship in Vancouver making direct for England, while Mr and Mrs Macky waited to make the transatlantic crossing in the Lusitania. Both were lost when that ship was torpedoed off Ireland. There was some concern about the two young men until a telegram was received by the Hanna’s with the single word “Well”. In England Samuel joined the Royal Naval Air Service armoured car section on 21 June, while Jack joined the Royal Naval Division.
Both were lost when that ship was torpedoed off Ireland. There was some concern about the two young men until a telegram was received by the Hanna’s with the single word “Well”.
In command of C Section, Number 15 Squadron, which comprised four armoured cars and eight armoured motorcycles, Sub Lieutenant Hanna went to France on 5 July. In the ensuing months the vehicles were transferred to the Army and Samuel served with the Belgian Army motor guns. At this time there was a ‘demarcation’ dispute between the Army and Navy as to who should do what on the battle field, the Army believing that armoured cars should be part of the Army. In the main the Army view prevailed, with the exception of 15 Squadron. This had been raised privately by an Ulster Member of Parliament, Oliver Locker Lampson and in late 1915 he had a chance meeting with a senior Russian Officer from the Military Attaché’s office in Paris. The details are unclear, but on 1 December 15 Squadron departed Liverpool en-route to Archangel on attachment to the Russian Government.