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SMS Emden was a Dresden class light cruiser who became the best known German commerce raider of the First World War. At the start of the war she was present in Tsingtau, Germany’s colony in China.
Emden left Tsingtau on 31 July under the command of Captain von Müller. Once at sea she received news of the outbreak of war between Germany and Russia, and steamed toward the Korean Strait, where on 4 August she captured the Russian steamer Riasan. As she sailed back to Tsingtau with her prize she learnt of the outbreak of war with Britain. Riasan was armed and turned into the commerce raider Cormoran, and Emden set off again, this time to join Admiral von Spee at Pagan Island in the Mariana Islands, part of Germany’s Pacific Island empire.
The Emden reached von Spee at Pagan Island before 13 August. While von Spee pondered his options, and moved west to the Marshall Islands, on 13 August Emden was detached into the Indian Ocean, supported by his supply tender, the Markomannia.
From the Mariana Islands, the Emden sailed south, before turning west along the southern coast of Java and then Sumatra, just missing a an encounter with British warships in the Java Strait, and then at Simalur Island, off the west coast of Sumatra. From there she sailed directly into the Bay of Bengal. By 10 September she was on the shipping lane between Colombo and Calcutta, just north of Sri Lanka, and her successful career was about to begin.
Her first capture was the Greek steamship Pontoporos, carrying 6,000 tons of coal. Although a neutral ship, she was carrying contraband cargo, and so was commandeered, to serve as a second collier, with the Markomannia.
For the moment the Emden was just about the only warship in the Bay of Bengal. The British fleet that should have been there was accompanying the Indian Army expedition in the Arabian Sea. Meanwhile, trade had picked up after a brief pause at the start of the war.
Over the next few days the Emden captured and sank the Indus, Lovat, Killin, Diplomat, Trabboch and Clan Matheson (the last of these was captured at just before midnight on 14 September). The Kabinga, carrying a neutral cargo was also compelled to accompany the Emden, and then on 14 September released with all the prisoners captured from the other ships. Finally, a neutral Italian ship, the Loredano was encountered but let go. The captain of the Loredano spread the news, although his ship lacked a radio, and at 2 pm on 14 September the message finally reached Calcutta.
From the vicinity of Calcutta, the Emden sailed east towards Burma, but news of her presence had prevented any ships from sailing. At the same time the British response was developing. HMS Hampshire, HMS Yarmouth and the Japanese cruiser Chikuma were dispatched from Singapore into the Bay of Bengal to begin the hunt. Their search would be largely futile, with news of the Emden reaching them too late to be of use.
Captain von Müller then turned west. Aware that the British would be patrolling the entrance to the Bay of Bengal he decided to attack Madras, then escape south out of the bay. She arrived at Madras at 9.20 pm on 22 September, just over twelve hours after the Bay of Bengal had been declared safe for shipping. In a short bombardment of the town the Emden hit oil storage tanks, and destroyed 425,000 gallons of oil. She then turned south and sailed around the east coast of Sri Lanka.
Her next target was shipping off the western coast of Sri Lanka, approaching Colombo. In his first raid (25-27 September) he captured and sank the King Lud, Tymeric, Ribera and Foyle, captured the Buresk and retained her as a collier and captured then released the Gryfevale, using her as a prison ship. News of this raid only reached Columbo with the Gryfevale on 29 September. The Buresk had been a particularly valuable prize, carrying 6,000 tons of high quality coal.
From Sri Lanki, the Emden sailed south to the Chagos Islands, taking on fresh supplies at Diego Garcia, a British possession that had not yet learnt of the outbreak of war! Here von Müller had a stroke of luck, sailing back north along the western side of the Maldives, while the British were sailing south along the eastern side. However, on 12 October his two colliers, Markomannia and Pontoporos, had been captured while on detached duty. The Emden now only had the Buresk to provide coal.
On 16 October Emden began a second attack on the Colombo traffic. On that day she captured and sank the liner Clan Grant, the steam dredger Ponrabbel and the liner Benmohr. On 18 October she captured the Troilus and the St. Egbert, keeping the second ship as a prison ship. On 19 October Exford and Chilkana were added to the haul, and then von Müller made his escape, this time to the east.
Von Müller’s next plan was for an attack on Allied warships at Penang, at the northern end of the Malaysian peninsula. Arriving there on 28 October, he sank the Russian Zhemchug, recently returned to port, and perhaps not at the peak of military efficiency, and the French destroyer Mousquet, on her way back into port from a patrol. The line Glenturret, carrying a load of munitions, narrowly escaped capture.
The voyage of the Emden was drawing to a close. Increasingly powerful Allied forces were closing in on the Bay of Bengal. Von Müller sailed south, intending to attack Cocos Island, an important link in the telegraph cable to Australia and the site of a wireless station. As the Emden approached the island from the west, an Australian convoy, guarded by HMS Minotaur, HMAS Melbourne, HMAS Sydney and the Japanese cruiser Ibuki were approaching from the north east.
On 9 November the Emden attacked the island. Before the Germans took over, a telegraph was sent to Singapore, and a wireless message reached the Minotaur. HMAS Sydney was dispatched to catch the Emden.
The Sydney was a Chatham class light cruiser, capable of 25.5kts and armed with eight 6in guns. By now the Emden was somewhat below peak condition, and her own top speed was probably somewhat below its 24.1kt best. When the Sydneyappeared at 9.15 am on 9 November, the Emden stood and fought.
After a poor start, the Sydney took advantage of her superior speed and the long (14,000 yards) range of her guns. In a fight lasting 1 hour 20 minutes the Sydney hit Emden over 100 times and at 11.20 a.m. the Emden was beached on North Keeling Island.
The crew still on the Emden were captured, but the landing party on Cocos Island captured the schooner Ayesha. They were then picked up by the German steamer Choising and escaped to Arabia, making their way through the Ottoman Empire back to Constantinople.
The Emden captured 24 steam ships during her short career. Of these, sixteen British ships, totalling 70.360 tons, were sunk, at an estimated cost of £2,200,000. She also played havoc with the trade of the Bay of Bengal, closing Colombo, Calcutta, Madras and Rangoon at various times. Her cruise had been followed with great interest in Britain and Germany, and Captain Müller’s conduct of the raid was greatly admired
Armour – deck
- conning tower
Ten 4.1in guns
9 November 1914
Captain von Müller (1914)
Books on the First World War |Subject Index: First World War
Bold but Doomed: Meet the German World War I Killer Cruiser SMS Emden
Key point: The Emden served as an impressive and deadly naval raider during the start of the war. However, the cruiser's luck would soon run out.
World War I was only a few days old when the German light cruiser SMS Emden, patrolling off the Korean Peninsula, spotted its first target. Shortly after 4 am on August 4, 1914, lookouts spotted what they believed to be the Russian cruiser Askold. The Emden’s crew readied for action. The Russian vessel fled before it, prompting Emden’s crew to fire a series of warning shots. The vessel slowed after the tenth round and stopped after two more.
A boarding party from the Emdendiscovered that it had not overtaken the cruiser Askold , but instead the 3,500-ton Russian merchant vessel Ryazan. The vessel, which had 80 passengers, had no cargo aboard that would make it a valuable prize. But Captain Karl von Muller, the commander of the Emden , decided to bring the large, fast ship to the German naval base at Tsingtao, China, for conversion into an armed merchant cruiser.
The boarders took control of the vessel and ran up the German flag. The two ships arrived in China on August 6. By the end of the month Ryazan would leave port, renamed the Cormoranand under German control. It was the German Navy’s first prize of the war, and it marked the beginning of an amazing record for the Emden.
Although the U-boat is often seen as the star of the German Navy during the Great War, Kaiser Wilhelm II’s small force of ships scattered around the globe also gave good service. Some were warships built for specific purposes, and others were converted merchantmen. They had one thing in common, though. They all raided enemy shipping and tied up large numbers of Allied ships dedicated to hunting them. Of all Germany’s raiders, none had a career as bold as the Emden .
In the early 20th century Germany controlled a small overseas empire and found itself in growing competition with other European powers, chief among them the United Kingdom. The German East Asiatic Squadron was based at Tsingtao and represented the bulk of German naval strength in the Pacific. The force was commanded by Konteradmiral Maximillian von Spee and included a number of cruisers and smaller vessels along with auxiliary vessels to carry coal, which was the lifeblood of warships during this period. Coal gave ships a great advantage in speed and maneuverability, but their endurance was limited by what they could carry in their bunkers.
Among von Spee’s force was the Emden. The SMS that preceded the light cruiser’s name was the German acronym for “His Majesty’s Ship.” She was built in 1908 in Danzig on the Baltic Sea. Weighing in at 3,593 tons, Emdenwas 387 feet long with a beam of 43 feet. The cruiser was armed with 10 10.5cm cannons along with nine 5-pounders, four machine guns, and two torpedo tubes. Her steam engines provided 13,500 horsepower for a top speed of 24 knots. The 790 tons of coal she could carry gave her a range of 1,850 miles at 20 knots or 3,790 miles at 12 knots. Maximum armor thickness was four inches.
Korvettenkapitan Karl von Muller initially commanded the Emden. Born in 1873, he was the son of a Prussian Army officer. When the war began he had 23 years of service in the German Navy and was known as a quiet, competent officer who had the respect of his crew. His second in command was Kapitanleutnant Helmuth von Mucke, who was born in 1881 and also was the son of an Army officer. Mucke had served 14 years and was an extroverted officer who had the crew’s undying admiration. His skills complemented those of von Muller.
Emden had two other notable officers. The first was Leutnant zur See Franz Joseph, a nephew of Kaiser Wilhelm. He served as the ship’s torpedo officer. The other was Kapitanleutnant Julius Lauterbach, a reservist who had only recently joined the crew. Lauterbach had long plied the Indian and Western Pacific Oceans as an officer of the Hamburg-Amerika Line and had extensive knowledge of the region, the ships that serviced it, and the type of men who served as crew on those ships. Both von Mucke and Lauterbach would prove invaluable during Emden’s service as a commerce raider.
On the war’s eve Emdenwas in port at Tsingtao. In June the British cruiser Minotaurpaid a visit. The Emden’s crew helped host the event, which included balls, banquets, and an athletic event. The Germans won at gymnastics and the high jump while the British crew triumphed in the soccer match. Sailors from both countries got along so well that upon the Minotaur’s departure there were numerous protestations that the two nations would surely never fight one another. In the months preceding the war, many of the crew rotated home with the arrival of new replacements. Having new crew to train kept the officers busy.
By the end of July 1914, war was imminent. Admiral von Spee was concerned about his ships becoming trapped at Tsingtao when war broke out. Japan was expected to join the Anglo-French alliance, and it had a substantial fleet nearby. To prevent the loss of his maneuver force von Spee took his fleet to sea on July 31 and soon after dispersed it. It was during this time Emden’s crew captured the Ryazan. After delivering that ship to Tsingtao for conversion to an armed merchant cruiser, Emdenrejoined the fleet at Pagan in the Marianas Island chain on August 12.
The admiral commanded two armored cruisers, four light cruisers (one of which was the Emden), and a number of supply ships. The challenge became the pressing need for coal to keep the ships sailing. The admiral did not believe there would be a steady supply for his force in the Western Pacific Ocean, so he decided to sail for the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Admiral von Spee expected his ships could readily replenish their coal supplies in the ports of South America. What is more, his ships would find plenty of British merchant vessels in the Eastern Pacific to prey on.
Rather than leave the Western Pacific completely in Allied hands, von Spee decided to leave a single light cruiser, the Emden , behind to attack local shipping and other targets of opportunity. One supply ship, the Markomannia , would accompany the Emden. The Markomanniacarried 6,000 tons of coal and would keep the cruiser going for some time. Eventually the ship would have to find new sources of fuel through captured ships or raids.
Emden and Markomanniasailed southwest from Pagan Island on August 14. Captain von Muller had the crew rig a fake funnel amidships. Emdenhad three stacks but adding a fourth would make her physically resemble a British County-class cruiser to any distant inspection. Camouflaging her appearance was not only a survival tactic for a commerce raider but also would help lull target vessels into a false sense of security when she approached. The crew had to maintain constant watchfulness and be prepared to act swiftly, whether to attack a merchantman or flee a superior warship.
Eight days after leaving Pagan, the two German ships slipped quietly through the Molucca Passage near Indonesia. They stopped where possible to take on water and provisions. On August 29 they moved into the Indian Ocean and entered the Bay of Bengal with its busy shipping lanes. Coal was running low and Emdenneeded to secure more before she was rendered adrift. Von Muller began hunting for ships as they approached Ceylon, and on the night of September 9 the crew spotted a light in the darkness. They quickly overtook a ship that turned out to be the Greek steamer Pontoporos.
Although Greece was a neutral nation, Lieutenant Lauterbach boarded the ship to check its credentials and manifest and found the ship was under contract to deliver coal to the British naval base at Bombay. This marked the cargo as legitimate contraband. The Germans even offered the Greek captain the chance to sail with them under contract and the captain agreed. Von Muller integrated Pontoporosand its cargo of 6,500 tons of coal into his task force.
The Emden arrival in the Indian Ocean was unexpected by the Allies and this gave the ship free rein for a time. Von Muller did not waste this advantage and quickly began striking at the merchantmen in the region. On the morning of September 10 smoke was spotted and the cruiser gave chase. Lookouts spotted what appeared to be a merchantman but had strange white structures on its deck that were feared to be gun emplacements. Von Muller took a chance and they moved in, signaling the ship to stop and not use its radio. The boarding party discovered they had taken the British ship Indus, under contract to transport troops of the Indian Army. The white structures were merely newly constructed horse stalls. The ship also carried luxury goods that were quickly confiscated.
The ship’s streak of success continued into the next several months. In all Emdencaptured 23 vessels totaling 101,182 tons, which constituted an impressive record. Coal and other supplies were taken as necessary to keep the German ships going. Pontoporoswas eventually sent off on other duties but Markomanniaremained. Captain von Muller went to great lengths to treat captured crews with such civility as wartime allowed. Two of the ships he captured were used to take prisoners to neutral ports to be interned or exchanged. Even British newspapers heard of von Muller’s chivalry and wrote kind words about him, grudgingly admiring his success as well.
Despite the respect accorded von Muller and his ship, the Allies spared no effort to find the Emden. At its height, a total of 78 British, French, Russian, and Japanese warships were scouring the seas for the German cruiser. Telegraph and radio stations were advised to watch for the vessel and signal immediately if she appeared. Many of these stations were remote and could not hope for timely rescue, but at least it would give the hunters a last location to renew their search. It was imperative to stop the Emden. Shipping in the Indian Ocean was brought to a stop within a short time, insurance rates skyrocketed, and much needed troop convoys from Australia and New Zealand were delayed for lack of suitable escorts.
Along with its record of seizing enemy merchantmen, the Emdenalso conducted daring raids and attacks that only intensified the Allies efforts to end her cruise. On the evening of September 22, Emdencautiously approached the Indian city of Madras. No Indian coastal city had come under attack in centuries. The city was well lit with few precautions taken against attack from the sea. It was a calculated risk. Madras had powerful shore batteries that were sure to reply. The main target was the Burma Oil Company’s storage facility with its oil tanks.
Just before 10 pm Emdensat a mere 3,000 meters offshore, her course designed so that errant shells would not strike civilian homes. Again, von Muller was showing his chivalry, though no doubt he also wished to avoid accusations of German barbarity. Minutes later the ship stopped engines, drifting into position at the port. The captain ordered the searchlights turned on and they lit the target ashore. Accompanying the order to illuminate the oil tanks was the command to fire. Emden starboard battery flashed to life, flames spilling from the muzzles of her cannon as explosive shells soared toward land. The first salvo went high, sailing over the oil tanks, though a few rounds found a shore battery. The second salvo landed short, near the water’s edge. The crew had bracketed their target, a good sign. The third salvo struck a tank, sending a cascade of black oil gushing forth as it ignited. Flames leapt into the sky, eliciting a hearty cheer from the German sailors.
The gunnery officer adjusted his aim. Another salvo crashed into the next tank, yet nothing happened because the tank was empty. The third tank was full, though, and it exploded, sending flames skyward. The shore batteries returned fire but scored no hits. Their mission accomplished, von Muller ordered a cease fire and Emdenquickly withdrew. He kept his ship’s lights on as it headed north. Once out of sight, the lights were extinguished, and she changed course to the south. Approximately 5,000 tons of oil was destroyed, and the citizens of Madras were sent into a panic. Many of the panicked citizens fled the city. It was a daring raid that caused the British great consternation and increased the Emden’s reputation.
Just over a month later Emdenstruck again, this time against an enemy naval force. The Russian cruiser Zhemchugand four French torpedo boats were in port near Penang, Malaya. They were part of the force detailed to hunt for the German raider. The Zhemchug’s crew was cleaning her boilers. Three of the four French torpedo boats were unable to respond quickly because their boilers were cold however, the fourth torpedo boat, Mousquet , was actively patrolling the area.
The Emden , which was disguised as a British light cruiser, sailed into the area without being challenged at 5:15 am on October 22. When it closed to within 500 meters of the Zhemchug , the Emden’s crew raised the German flag. The German cruiser fired a torpedo from 200 meters that struck the Russian cruiser’s engine room. The German sailors simultaneously raked the enemy ship’s crew quarters with their guns.
The Russian sailors fired a few rounds in response, but scored no hits. The Emdenswung around for another pass. This time it put a second torpedo into the enemy cruiser, which detonated its magazines. The resulting explosion blanketed the area in smoke. In the one-sided surface engagement, the Zhemchughad suffered 91 killed and 106 wounded.
Emdenstalked the harbor for other targets but soon Mousquetappeared on the horizon. Von Muller ordered an attack and cannon fire lashed out at the small French ship. At 4,000 meters one round struck one of Mousquet’s boilers, covering the ship in a fog of steam. In return, the French ship launched a torpedo and replied with a single gun. Within 10 minutes the battle was over, and the torpedo boat sank. Emdenwas chased briefly by two of the other torpedo boats but quickly made her escape. This successful raid further increased Emden reputation, especially after the Germans rescued 36 survivors.
The ship’s next target was the Cocos Islands, where the British maintained a cable station. Radio intercepts led the crew to believe no enemy ships were close enough to interfere. Unknown to them, one of the troop convoys was nearby, strongly escorted and under radio silence. By this time Emden consort was the coal ship Buresk , captured earlier near Ceylon. Bureskwas sent away to await developments and Emdenmoved on Direction Island, home to the cable and radio station.
Arriving just after dawn on November 9, von Mucke led a 50-man landing party in three boats. Emden’s crew did not think they had been spotted, but a Chinese worker saw the ship and warned the British. The British challenged the ship and then sent out a message: “SOS EmdenHere.” Von Muller had the transmission jammed, but it was too late. Both radio and telegraph distress calls were already out. In the mistaken belief that no help was nearby, the Germans proceeded with their plan.
The Allied troop convoy was 55 miles away. It received the SOS signal, and the commander sent the Australian cruiser HMAS Sydneyto investigate. The ship was armed with eight 6-inch guns and was well armored. Moreover, she was faster than the Emden. At 9 am Sydneyarrived near Direction Island, but the Germans initially mistook her for the Buresk . They realized their error 15 minutes later and quickly got underway, leaving the shore party behind. Unfortunately for von Muller, all 10 of his gunlayers, that is, the men who aimed the ship’s guns, were ashore. There was no time to retrieve them. At 9:40 am she opened fire on Sydneyand despite the absence of the gunlayers her first salvo bracketed the Australian ship. Emdenhad to close the distance to make her guns more effective and use her torpedoes.
Sydney’s Captain John Glossop knew this and turned his ship to keep the distance open. Still, Emden’s third salvo struck, knocking out both of Sydney’s fire control stations. This slowed down the Australian’s fire and hindered accuracy, but her armor was shrugging off the German shells. Sydney’s first hit came 20 minutes later, destroying Emden’s radio room. Glossop kept turning his ship to increase the range, giving his 6-inch cannons the edge. An ad-hoc fire control station was set up and soon shells were pounding the Emden. First, the electrical system was knocked out. Then, the steering gear suffered extensive damage, thus reducing the vessel’s maneuverability. The fire from the Australian ship became more accurate as a result. Even worse, a shell landed among the aft guns and detonated their ammunition, killing the crew and causing a large fire.
Shell after shell landed on the Emden , crumpling the upper decks and bringing down the foremast. The killing blow was a salvo that hit all three funnels, collapsing them. This denied air to the boilers, reducing the ship’s speed. Emdenwas defeated. Von Muller knew he had to quit the fight. Rather than abandon ship, he directed it to nearby North Keeling Island. He beached the Emdenon the island’s reef. Sydneyfired two more salvos before realizing the Emdenwas finished. At that point, the Australian ship went in pursuit of the Buresk , which appeared nearby. The crew of that ship scuttled and abandoned her.
Von Muller and his surviving crew became prisoners. German casualties numbered 134 sailors. The prisoners were generally treated well and many Allied officers personally visited the German officers to congratulate them on their valor and accomplishment, despite their status as enemies. Von Mucke and the landing party managed to sneak off in a schooner. They sailed across the Indian Ocean to Arabia. From there, they continued overland to Turkey, where they arrived in May 1915.
As for the Emden , she lay stuck on the reef where she had been ditched until the 1950s, when a Japanese salvage company removed what was left of the hull. The Emden’s career, which ended in what became known as the Battle of Cocos, was brief but brilliant. It was marked not only by its impressive prizes, but also by the humanity and chivalry of its crew.
The Emden Guns
When the small German cruiser SMS Emden was destroyed by HMAS Sydney at the Cocos-Keeling Islands on 9 November 1914 the British Admiralty was presented with a unique opportunity to gather valuable information. Fregattenkapitän Karl von Müller’s decision to run his battered ship ashore to save what remained of his crew allowed the Royal Navy to recover weapons, fire control instruments and documents for analysis and evaluation. It also allowed the Commonwealth Government to secure souvenirs to celebrate the Royal Australian Navy’s first victory at sea.
When Sydney recovered Emden’s survivors on 10 November specialists went onboard the wreck to assess the damage and to remove anything of value. They recovered a book of range tables and two torpedo director sights, and a damage report was compiled by Carpenter Edward Behenna.
Weckage of SMS Emden – John Boyd
HMS Cadmus was subsequently sent to Cocos to dispose of Emden’s dead and to inspect the wreck more thoroughly. The sloop was able to recover electric telegraphs and a binnacle and compass for the Australian Government, and upon return to Singapore reported the discovery of a confidential chest and a safe on the wreck. Commander Hugh Marryat also reported that Emden’s 10.5-cm guns remained onboard, but were missing their breech blocks and recoil pistons (these had been removed by the Germans and thrown overboard). Cadmuswas sent back to Cocos in January 1915 to recover the contents of the chest and safe, one or more guns, and a torpedo. This was accomplished, and Cadmus came away with two guns, a torpedo, a searchlight, and a large quantity of coins.
Emden had been armed with ten 10.5-cm guns. Six were fitted with splinter shields and roofs two were mounted on the forecastle deck (No.1 gun, port and starboard) two were placed amidships (No.3 gun, port and starboard) and two were mounted on the poop deck aft (No.5 gun, port and starboard). The four guns not fitted with shields and roofs were placed in sponsons below the after end of the forecastle deck (No.2 gun, port and starboard), and below the forward end of the poop deck (No.4 gun, port and starboard). The two guns recovered by Cadmus were Emden’s No.2 guns, port and starboard.
The torpedo, searchlight and one of the guns were subsequently sent to Britain. The Admiralty was keen to study a German 10.5-cm gun because Sydney’s commanding officer, Captain John Glossop, had reported that Emden had opened fast and accurate fire from 10,500 yards – well in excess of what a German light cruiser was thought capable of. It was established that Emdenwas equipped with 10.5-cm C/88 (Model 1888) Schnellfeuer-Kanonen (quick-firing guns). The Royal Navy’s gunnery experts discovered that these C/88 L/40 guns (L/40 indicated the length of the gun in calibres) were fitted to C/04 central pivot mounts this enabled them to be elevated to 30 degrees, giving them a maximum effective range of 13,300 yards (12,200 metres).
The gun sent to Britain was subsequently put on temporary display in London. Its ultimate fate is unknown, but it was probably cut up for scrap during or after the war. The second gun came to Australia as a trophy, and in December 1917 was placed on permanent display in Hyde Park, Sydney. Two more complete guns and two 10.5-cm barrels arrived in Australia in September 1918. The story of their recovery is equally interesting.
In May 1915 the Commonwealth Government called for tenders for the salvage of Emden. A Defence Department advertisement stated that all tenderers must undertake to forward to Navy Office in Melbourne, and hand over free of charge, all guns and gun mountings, torpedoes and torpedo tubes, fire-control instruments and apparatus, money in whatever form it might be found, and all confidential books and documents that may be salved. Furthermore, should the ship be salved and brought into port, the government was to have the option of purchasing her at a price to be determined by arbitration. Edward Darnley, a Sydney-based commercial diver and salvage contractor was awarded the contract, but a dispute arose and in October the contract was cancelled. It was announced that the Navy would now undertake the work. Emden, stuck fast on a reef off North Keeling Island and pounded by heavy seas, had already started to break up, and when HMAS Protectorinspected the wreck in November it was found that the stern had completely disappeared. On 11 January 1916 the Minister for the Navy announced that ‘nothing more can be done towards either salving the remains of the Emden or any trophies from her’.
The Cocos Islands proprietor and governor, John Clunies-Ross, thought otherwise, and began helping himself to the wreck. Much of the metal he salvaged in 1916 and early 1917, and taken ashore by flying fox, was sold for scrap, but two complete guns with shields (No.1 port and starboard), and two barrels from the amidships guns (No.3 port and starboard), were kept and offered to the Commonwealth. These, and a quantity of other Emden artefacts, were purchased in 1918 for £660. One of the complete guns is now preserved at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, the other is on display at the RAN’s Heritage Centre, Garden Island, Sydney. The two 10.5-cm barrels are also at the Heritage Centre.
Four 10.5-cm guns are still on Emden’s wreck, the remains of which lie under several metres of water. The No.4 sponson guns, port and starboard, are still attached to their mounts and mount support columns, and rest on the seabed outboard of the ship’s engines. The No.5 guns have been moved from their original resting places, suggesting that an attempt was made to salvage them by dragging them towards shore – possibly by Clunies-Ross. The No.5 starboard gun and the remains of its splinter shield sit on the seabed well forward on the starboard side of the wreck. The No.5 port gun and mount (minus shield) lies on the port side, forward of the No.4 gun. These guns will remain on the wreck, which is protected under the Australian Historic Shipwrecks Act of 1976.
Another gun with an Emden connection is held by the Australian War Memorial. This is an Elswick Ordnance Company MkXI* 6-inch barrel, Serial No.2289. HMAS Sydney’s Ship’s Book records this as the cruiser’s No.2 starboard gun (S-2), making it a historically significant artefact.
Early in the action on 9 November 1914 two of Emden’s shells exploded near Sydney’s then disengaged S-2 gun. The first, a high-explosive shell, exploded on the deck behind the gun. Shell splinters struck some of the gun crew, ignited ready-use cordite charges, and started a fire in a lifebelt stowage bin. Moments later a shrapnel shell detonated upon contact with a funnel guy wire, lashing the gun position with hundreds of small steel balls. These two hits killed or injured seven of the nine men who formed the gun crew. Petty Officer Thomas Lynch (gun-layer) and Ordinary Seaman Robert Bell died of wounds, whilst Able Seaman Arthur Hooper (gun-trainer), AB Richard Horne (sight-setter), AB Bertie Green, AB Joseph Kinniburgh, and Ordinary Seaman Tom Williamson were wounded and/or burned.
It is also noteworthy that of the six Distinguished Service Medals awarded for the Emden action, four went to members of the S-2 gun crew these being Able Seamen Green, Kinniburgh, Harold Collins and William Taylor.
Identifying where individual preserved Emden guns were located on the German cruiser is harder to prove, as the original armament list for the ship does not appear to have survived. Comparing visible damage to the guns with accounts of battle damage and photographs of the wreck after the action can be used as a guide, but is not 100% reliable. Clunies-Ross had to completely dismantle the No.1 guns and their shields to get them ashore, and it cannot be assumed that gun and shield components were correctly mated when the guns were later re-assembled. If by chance they were, then the splinter damage to barrel and shield of the gun at the AWM suggests that it was Emden’s No.1 starboard gun. This would mean that the gun at the RAN Heritage Centre is Emden’s No.1 port gun. The crews of these guns did not survive the action.
The No.2 guns were also dismantled prior to their recovery by HMS Cadmus. As one of these guns was to be sent to England for expert examination, there is a good chance that the component parts of both were carefully marked so that the guns could later be correctly re-assembled. If so, then the damage to the training wheel of the gun on display in Hyde Park suggests that it is the No.2 port gun.
The training and laying gear of the 10.5-cm C/88 gun was located on the left hand side of the weapon, and one man – the gun-layer – worked both. According to German accounts, the only gun-layer to survive the action remained at his post to the end – even after his left forearm was smashed by a shell splinter. This man was Bootsmannsmaat Joseph Ruscinski, and he served the No.2 port gun. In addition to the wound to his left arm, which was later amputated, Ruscinski sustained a large flesh wound to his left thigh. It is logical to assume that the unshielded gun was also damaged when Ruscinski was hit, and the battle damage to the training wheel of the Hyde Park gun is consistent with such a scenario.
The Hyde Park gun surmounts a monument erected in 1917 to commemorate the destruction of SMS Emden, and is a memorial to the four members of HMAS Sydney’s ship’s company who made the supreme sacrifice. The gun is also a silent reminder of the 318 members of Emden’s ship’s company, of which 136 lost their lives in the battle and aftermath. If it is Emden’s No.2 port gun, it also serves as a lasting tribute to one man’s courage and devotion to duty.
Wes Olson is a NHSA member, and the author of The Last Cruise of a German Raider – The Destruction of SMS Emden(Seaforth Publishing, 2018). Previous works include Bitter Victory – The Death of HMAS Sydney(2000 & 2001), and HMAS Sydney (II) – In Peace and War(2016).
4 of the ways the ‘Sons of Anarchy’ are like your infantry squad
Posted On April 29, 2020 15:41:56
The brotherhood of an infantry squad is hard to match. No matter where you go after you leave, you’ll struggle to find that same type of camaraderie. Sure, there are civilian jobs out there that offer something similar, but let’s face it — nothing will ever rival getting sh*tfaced in the barracks on the weekend with your best buds after a long week of putting up with your command’s bullsh*t.
That’s why we love watching shows like Sons of Anarchy.
The fictional motorcycle club happens to embody a lot of the things we loved about “being with the homies” in our squads. The way they interact with each other and their overall lifestyle runs eerily parallel to the way grunts conduct themselves.
If you’ve watched the show, this won’t come as a surprise but, in case you haven’t, these are the ways Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Redwood Original are a lot like your infantry squad:
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. A. J. Van Fredenberg)
SAMCRO is all about the brotherhood. They’re always looking out for each other and going to extreme lengths to help one another. It’s not just about your duty, it’s about the love you have for the people with whom you serve. Being in an infantry squad helps you develop this mentality.
And sh*t like this will suck less.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. William Chockey)
Oftentimes, you won’t have to be asked to do things because you’ll want to do them without being asked. You know that your actions are for the betterment of the squad. The guys to your left and right depend on you and you them. This loyalty will be a driving desire in everything you do.
Even working out is something that benefits your squad mates.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. A. J. Van Fredenberg)
You go beyond “for the club”
After you get used to your squad and you’ve established your loyalty and brotherhood, you’ll begin to go beyond what’s required of you to help out the squad. You might even start taking MarineNet courses you’re interested in to help boost your squad’s effectiveness.
At the end of the day, SAMCRO members make choices and do things because of their love and loyalty to the club.
You’ll do anything for your squad.
Dedication to one another
When one of your brothers is going through a rough time, you’ll feel a drive to do whatever you can to help them out. If someone hurts your squad mate in one way or another, no matter what it is, you’ll be out for blood. This is honestly one of the things that makes the Sons of Anarchy such an interesting group of people to watch.
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The Stranded Emden Landing Party&rsquos Odyssey
Out of the 376 man crew of the Emden, 133 were killed in the battle with HMAS Sydney, and most of the remainder were captured. The exception was the landing party in Direction Island, commanded by Hellmuth von Mucke, stranded when the Emden sailed away when she was surprised by the Sydney. Ashore, the German crewman watched the battle between their ship and the enemy, and realized that the Emden was outmatched and bound to lose.
Their situation seemed hopeless, with eventual capture and a POW camp all but inevitable. However, the intrepidity and determination of the marooned von Mucke and his men spared them that fate, and they set off on an epic and hazardous odyssey that finally took them back home to Germany. It began when they looked around in Direction Island&rsquos harbor, and spotted the 95 ton schooner Ayesha &ndash a dilapidated old freight hauler, sitting at anchor. They seized it, and hastily prepared it for sailing before the Sydney returned from wrecking the Emden to round them up.
Just before sunset, von Mucke and his men sailed the requisitioned and rechristened SMS Ayesha out of Direction Island and towards freedom, setting course for Padang, a port in the neutral Dutch East Indies. They braved storms, skirted dangerous shoals and reefs, and had a close call with an enemy destroyer that passed within yards of the Ayesha without realizing she was an enemy vessel. Finally, they reached Padang on November 27th.
However, they were unable to linger for long: the Ayesha was now a Germany navy ship, and under international law, it could not stay in a neutral port such as Padang for more than 24 hours. However, while in port, von Mucke got in touch with the German consul, and passed him a note with coordinates for a meeting with a German ship. On December 16th, after a 1709 mile journey, the rickety Ayesha finally met a German merchant steamer, the Choising. The Germans transferred to the Choising, whose command von Mucke assumed, and the Ayesha was abandoned and scuttled. Disguising the Choising as the British steamer Shenir, the Germans then embarked on another hair raising journey, this time to Yemen, controlled by the Ottoman Turks who by then had joined the war on Germany&rsquos side.
The schooner Ayesha, which got the stranded Emden landing party to safety. Wikimedia
Avoiding well travelled sea lanes, the Germans took a circuitous route around the Indian Ocean that finally brought them to Hodeida, Yemen, in January of 1915. Spotting a French warship in the vicinity, however, von Mucke and his men left the Choising in longboats, and rowed ashore. From Hodeida, they took a pair of dhows &ndash small Arab sailing vessels &ndash which took them part way to Jeddah, avoiding British patrols along the way. They finished trip to Jeddah by land, riding donkeys and camels, and survived a running fight with hostile tribesmen en route. They resumed the journey from Jeddah in dhows, again evading British naval patrols, before continuing their journey overland until they finally reached a Turkish railhead. From there, they made it to Istanbul, and finally, to a hero&rsquos welcome in Germany.
Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources & Further Reading
The Emden in action
After the commissioning of the first ship of the Köln class, the Emden was reclassified as a cadet training ship. Under the command of Karl Doenitz, she participated in several international peacetime tours. With the outbreak of war she actively participated in operations in Norway (Weserübung), without notable action, and the rest of her career was spent in the Baltic, training Sea Cadets. In 1945 she participated in the evacuation of civilians and troops from East Prussia trapped by Soviet Forces, and later brought troops from Norway. She also carried the remains of Marshal Hindenburg. Badly damaged in April 1945 by the RAF, she was scuttled at Heikendorfer Bucht and dismantled after the war.
Emden in China, 1931
Emden’s replacement MAN diesel engines, never fitted as preserved.
The Tirpitz of World War I -SMS Emden
It was midnight in the port of Penang, and a Russian destroyer Zhemchug rested in the harbor. Little did she knew that a German cruiser lurked in the waters close to the port.
Torpedoes blasted off from the German warship and destroyed the Russian cruiser. The German ship will haunt shipping lines in the Indian Ocean for the next few months until it was gunned down by HMAS Syndey. The notorious German destroyer which haunted the minds of Britain was SMS Emden.
Role in China:
SMS Emden was a Dresden class light cruiser built in Danzig in 1909. The Imperial German Navy commissioned it. The Emden was assigned to guard German interests in China form 1910.
The Emden took a trip via South America to China and docked in Tsingtao. She made trips between Japan and China. When World War I broke out, Vice Admiral Maximilian von Spee ordered the German fleet in China to South America.
Spee ordered Emden to stay back in the Indian ocean to disrupt Britain’s shipping lane. The Emden was commanded by Karl Von Müller, who gained a reputation for his courage and generosity. To disguise Emden to look like a British cruiser, her crew made a fourth dummy funnel.
The Emden started its raid in the Indian ocean and intercepted merchant ships that carried cargo between Calcutta and Ceylon. Emden would approach the merchant ships in the disguise of British cruisers and, once close enough raised the German flag and ordered the ship’s surrender.
Emden was able to survive on the loots and didn’t harass neutral country ships. Müller converted British merchant vessels into coal carriers for Emden. Müller would take the sailors from wrecked ships to safety and provide them with the necessary materials to reach the shore.
The British Indian government came to fear the Emden and stopped shipping activities in the Indian Ocean. British India and Japan deployed their navies with orders to destroy Emden.
Madras Attack:Burmah Oil company tanks on fire.Source-Wikipedia
In September 1914, Emden came near the coast of Madras, a prominent city in British India. The Emden fired 130 rounds, which damaged oil tanks that belonged to the Burmah Oil company.
Shells from the Emden damaged several buildings and caused panic among the public. Massive law and order problem issues appeared in Madras as scores of people left the city.
The city was on its heels and expected another attack from Emden, which didn’t materialize. The fear of Emden was so much so that the word Emden (meaning: someone who can cause terror) found its way into colloquial language in Madras.
Due to the attacks on Madras, the British Indian government further reduced the shipping activities, which caused a 50 percent loss in profit for the British Indian government in the shipping industry.
Attack on Penang:
The Emden continued its rampage after a brief stop in the Maldives and Diego Garcia for repairs. Though being a British colony, Diego Garcia was not aware of the ongoing Great War (Later World War I) due to communication delay.
After the repairs, she continued her hunt for British ships. Emden now reached Penang in Malaya (modern Malaysia), which was under British control. The harbor had Russian cruiser Zhemchug docked for repairs.THe Emden reached 300 yards of Zhemchug and fired its torpedo.
The Emden and Zhemchug exchanged fire, but a second torpedo from Emden tore the Zhemchug into two pieces. 80 Russian sailors died in action. When Emden was about to leave the harbor, it encountered and destroyed a French destroyer the Mousquet. The Emden took the survivors and dropped them off a British steamer.
Last fight:First Lieutenant Hellmuth von Mucke landing party in Direction islands.Source-Wikipedia
The Emden headed towards the Direction island to continue his journey towards Cocos Islands, a British coaling station. As the Emden came near Direction island, First Lieutenant Hellmuth von Mucke and some officers headed towards the island.
A distress signal from the island had already reached HMAS Sydney, and she was on her way for the rescue. In the battle,the HMAS Sydney’s attacks caused severe damages to the Emden. Captain Müller ran Emden into a beach, and the crew destroyed sensitive documents.The Emden raised a white flag and called for a ceasefire.
Beached SMS Emden. Source-Wikipedia
Captain Müller and his team were sent to Malta later to Britain and repatriated to Germany. Captain Müller received the Pour le Merite medal.
The landing party in Direction island under Lt Mucke made a daring journey via Padang, Yemen, Jeddah, Medina, Constantinople to Germany. Germany awarded SMS Emden an Iron cross and manufactured another ship in the same name. Emden caused terror in the minds of people who traveled in the Indian Ocean, but its Captain Müller was appreciated for his humanitarian efforts even by the British
Emden spent the majority of her career overseas in the German East Asia Squadron, based in Tsingtao, in the Kiautschou Bay concession in China. In 1913, Karl von Müller took command of the ship. At the outbreak of World War I, Emden captured a Russian steamer and converted her into the commerce raider Cormoran. Emden rejoined the East Asia Squadron, then was detached for independent raiding in the Indian Ocean. The cruiser spent nearly two months operating in the region, and captured nearly two dozen ships. On 28 October 1914, Emden launched a surprise attack on Penang in the resulting Battle of Penang, she sank the Russian cruiser Zhemchug and the French destroyer Mousquet.
Müller then took Emden to raid the Cocos Islands, where he landed a contingent of sailors to destroy British facilities. There, Emden was attacked by the Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney on 9 November 1914. The more powerful Australian ship quickly inflicted serious damage and forced Müller to run his ship aground to avoid sinking. Out of a crew of 376, 133 were killed in the battle. Most of the survivors were taken prisoner the landing party, led by Hellmuth von Mücke, commandeered an old schooner and eventually returned to Germany. Emden ' s wreck was quickly destroyed by wave action, and was broken up for scrap in the 1950s.
Ship's crest : SMS Emden
Coat of arms from the bow of SMS Emden. The shield-shaped coat of arms of the City of Emden is manufactured in three sections, two vertical joins being visible. 24 holes approximately 4 cm in diameter are distributed around the surface, allowing the plaque to be securely fastened to the ship. Known as 'the angel on the wall', the coat of arms features the gilded heraldic figure of the Harpy of Ostfriesland (a bird of prey with the head of a woman, also known as the 'Jungfrauadler') on a black background above a red castellated wall, below which are the waves, which represent the city's location on the river Ems. Each side of the bow carried an identical board.
Coat of arms removed from the bow of SMS Emden after her destruction at North Keeling Island by HMAS Sydney (I) on 9 November 1914.
SMS Emden was a German cruiser which was launched in 1908. At the start of the First World War, she was a member of the German East Asiatic Squadron. Emden was detached to stalk the shipping routes across the Indian Ocean and quickly became the scourge of the Allied navies. Between August and October 1914, Emden captured or sank 21 vessels. In November 1914, nine Allied vessels were involved in the hunt for Emden the threat she posed led to a particularly heavy escort of four warships being allocated to the first Australian and New Zealand troop convoy travelling between Western Australia and Egypt. Surprised by one of these escorts, HMAS Sydney, while in the process of destroying the British radio station on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Emden was destroyed in the fight between the two ships on 9 November 1914.
Emden's coat of arms was one of the many relics removed from the beached wreck by the Royal Australian Navy and was retained as a war trophy. A photograph of the upper deck of the training ship HMAS Tingira shows this item fixed in place to the aft side of the ship's main mast.
SMS Emden by RGL - FINISHED - Revell - 1/350 - Complete
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