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World War I : The Legendary SMS Emden of Imperial German Navy

Discussion in 'Military History' started by Manmohan Yadav, Jun 3, 2013.

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  1. Manmohan Yadav

    Manmohan Yadav Brigadier STAR MEMBER

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    The Emden was launched at Danzig on 26 May 1908, she was commissioned into the Kaiserliche Marine on 10 July 1909. She was named after the German city of Emden, which sponsored the warship. Armed with ten 10.5 cm (4.1 in) guns, she was the last German cruiser to use reciprocating engines. Emden's sister ship SMS Dresden and all subsequent cruisers were equipped with steam turbines. As with most ships of the time, Emden's twelve boilers were heated by burning coal.

    On 1 April 1910, the Emden officially entered the fleet and was assigned to the East Asian Station at Tsingtao in Germany's Chinese Kiautschou colony. Emden left Kiel on 12 April 1910, transited the Kiel Canal, and entered the open sea. She was never to see German home waters again. At Tsingtao she acquired the nickname "Swan of the East" because of her graceful lines.

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    Emden saw her first action suppressing the Sokehs Rebellion in the German Caroline Islands in January 1911. Together with the light cruiser SMS Nürnberg, she shelled rebel fortifications with her main battery, then sent an armed landing party ashore to capture the stronghold.

    In May 1913, Emden received her last commanding officer, Korvettenkapitän Karl von Müller. The chivalry of Captain von Müller during his command would earn him the respect of both friend and foe. An enigmatic and quiet man, Müller suffered from recurring attacks of malaria, which killed him less than five years after the war.

    During the Second Chinese Revolution, Müller was ordered to take the Emden to put down a revolt by the Chinese along the Yangtze River. In August 1913, she joined several British and Japanese warships on the Yangtze River and shelled a rebel fort into submission on 13 August.
     
  2. Manmohan Yadav

    Manmohan Yadav Brigadier STAR MEMBER

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    World War I :

    Captain von Müller was well aware of how the Japanese fleet had trapped and destroyed the Russian fleet in Port Arthur during the Russo-Japanese War. When news came from Europe that war was imminent, he was determined not to let history repeat itself. The only major naval unit not on a routine mission at Pacific Ocean colonies, Emden left Tsingtao on 31 July 1914 and was at sea when news of the beginning of World War I was received on 2 August.

    Two days later, Emden captured her first prize, the Russian steamer Rjasan (Ryaezan), which was boarded and escorted back to Tsingtao.

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    The German colony was soon surrounded by belligerents – British, French, Japanese and Russians; all had East Asian bases and warships near Kiautschou. The deep-water port at Tsingtao with its advanced shipyard facilities and neighbouring modern infrastructure was coveted by the Allies. Realizing the colony could not hold out for long, Müller left to join the German East Asia Squadron commanded by Vice Admiral Maximilian von Spee. Müller allowed the sailors to line the deck in shifts, "singing to the [ship's] band and staring at the German town spread out behind them in the low sun of evening" one last time.

    On 8 August 1914, Emden rendezvoused with Spee's squadron at Pagan Island in the northern Marianas, then a German colony. Admiral von Spee wanted the squadron to stay united and attempt to reach Germany, but agreed to Captain von Müller's suggestion of deploying a single light cruiser to raid British merchant shipping in the Indian Ocean. Taking along the collier Markomannia "with a full load of first-class coal," the Emden detached from the fleet on 14 August 1914.

    Heading for the German Palau Islands, Emden met the gunboat Geier and informed her captain of the latest war news. Müller then began coaling his ship off Timor in the Dutch East Indies. Emden was intercepted by the neutral 5,300 ton Dutch coastal defense ship Tromp and "an elaborate exchange of courtesies ensued." Commander Müller, of lower rank and in Dutch colonial waters, called on the Dutch captain aboard Tromp. Her Captain politely explained the proclamation of neutrality of his nation and offered refreshments to his German guests. After the completion of coaling, Emden left, but deciphered a Dutch radio transmission reporting the passage of a four-funnel British warship in violation of Dutch neutrality. Taking advantage of the report, Müller built a dummy fourth smokestack on the ship’s superstructure to resemble the British cruiser HMS Yarmouth. On 28 August 1914, Emden then slipped through the narrow strait between Bali and Lombok into the Indian Ocean, her collier several miles astern in her wake.
     
  3. Manmohan Yadav

    Manmohan Yadav Brigadier STAR MEMBER

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    Independent raider in the Indian Ocean

    In 1914, the Indian Ocean was frequently referred to as a "British lake" because of British domination of the surrounding ports and the heavy traffic of British and Dominion merchant vessels in that ocean’s shipping lanes. On 10 September, the Emden began to prey upon the hundreds of unescorted British and Allied merchant ships. In September 1914, the Emden captured seventeen ships, all British except for two, which were neutral Italian and Norwegian vessels, and duly released. Most of the captured British ships were quickly sunk, either by fire from Emden's 10.5 cm (4.1 in) guns or by placing explosive charges deep in their hulls. Captain Müller was always gentlemanly to the captains and passengers of the ships he captured, and he made certain that every captured British sailor was treated well and kept safe.

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    The British Admiralty did not learn of the Emden's presence until 14 September, at which time it stopped all British shipping on the Colombo-Singapore route. This caused panic among the British and Allied shipping offices in the Indian Ocean. Insurance rates for merchant ships skyrocketed, shipping companies could not afford to leave harbour. It was a source of much embarrassment to the British and other Allies that a single German cruiser could effectively shut down the entire Indian Ocean.

    Several warships from the British Australian and Far East squadrons, as well as a few French, Japanese and Russian cruisers, were dispatched to hunt down the Emden, but von Müller eluded them all. Some captains of British merchant ships, seeing the Emden approach, would salute her, mistaking her for the Yarmouth. Instead, the Emden would fire a shot over the bow, hoist the German naval ensign, and signal "stop at once – do not wireless."
     
  4. Manmohan Yadav

    Manmohan Yadav Brigadier STAR MEMBER

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    Bombardment of Madras by SMS Emden

    The Bombardment of Madras was an engagement of World War I, at Madras (Chennai), British India. The bombardment was initiated by the German light cruiser Emden at the start of the war in 1914.

    With Captain Karl von Müller in command, on the night of 22 September 1914, SMS Emden quietly approached the city of Madras on the southeastern coast of the Indian peninsula. After entering the Madras harbor area and observing for a moment, Müller gave the order to engage at 9:30 pm, Emden opened fire at 3000 yards on the several large oil tanks within the harbor which belonged to the Burmah Oil Company.

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    Within the first 30 rounds, the oil tanks were in flames. After bombing the fuel tanks Emden moved onto a small merchant ship in harbor. The craft was quickly sunk by Emden's deck guns. The worst casualties experienced that night were from the merchant vessel, 26 of whose crew were injured. At least 5 of the sailors were killed on scene or died later of injuries.
    The city of Madras in 1909.

    The action lasted half an hour, until 10:00 pm, by which time the British shore batteries had begun to respond. However, Emden slipped away unscathed. In all, 125 shells were fired by the Germans. Although the raid did little damage, it was a severe blow to British morale and thousands of people fled the city.

    Madras was the only Indian city to come under attack by forces of the Central Powers during World War I.
     
  5. Manmohan Yadav

    Manmohan Yadav Brigadier STAR MEMBER

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    Madras to Penang

    Emden then sailed southwards down the east coast of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). She closed in upon Colombo, but refrained from making an attack on account of the searchlights constantly sweeping the harbour and coastal artillery placements. Legend has it that most of the artillery pieces were dummies made out of tree trunks. Nevertheless, she caused panic among the British. H.H. Engelbrecht, a Boer wildlife officer of German descent, was falsely accused of supplying meat to the cruiser and jailed. Sri Lankan mothers frightened their children with the Emden 'bogeyman'. The word 'emden', meaning 'streetsmart', entered the Tamil language following her successful attack on Madras, to this day a particularly cunning person is referred to as an Emdena.

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    Müller then steered towards Minicoy in the Laccadive Islands, where, between 25 and 29 September 1914, he sank six more Allied ships. In the meantime, HMS Hampshire and the Chikuma, of the Imperial Japanese Navy were given the task of searching for Emden in the Laccadive Sea. They were, however, unsuccessful, as their elusive prey had, by the time they arrived, slipped away to the Maldives.

    Misled by an old chart, Müller decided to target the Chagos Archipelago next, expecting rich dividends. However, when he anchored at Diego Garcia on 5 October, far from finding even a single smoking funnel, he learned that the inhabitants had still not heard of the declaration of war. He repaired a motor-boat that belonged to one of the island's officials, and spent the next ten days having the ship's keel cleaned and her machinery overhauled. There was even time to touch up the Emden's paintwork.

    Müller learned from intercepted radio signals that shipping had returned to its usual levels east of Ceylon and that the two Allied cruisers hunting for him had been reinforced only by the armed merchant-cruiser RMS Empress of Asia. He again raided the Laccadive Sea area around Minicoy, bagging ten Allied ships. Although the search for him was intensified, with shipping again suspended, he eluded the Hampshire and the Empress of Asia in rain squalls in the Maldives on the morning of 21 October and set course for the Nicobar Islands, where he coaled before his last great exploit at Penang.

    The Allies had decided by this time to institute serious measures. HMS Yarmouth and the Russian cruiser Askold were transferred from convoy duty to the hunt for the Emden. The Imperial Japanese Navy sent the cruisers Tokiwa and Yakumo to the eastern coast of the Bay of Bengal to reinforce the Chikuma and the Russian cruiser Zhemchug already patrolling there.

    From the Nicobars, working his way south-east, Captain Müller set his sights upon the British port of Penang in British Malaya. On the morning of 28 October, Emden entered the harbour at top speed, still disguised as a British cruiser with the fake fourth smokestack. During what became known as the Battle of Penang, she raised the German flag once inside the harbour and launched a torpedo at the Zhemchug, a veteran of the Battle of Tsushima, followed by a salvo of shells which riddled the Russian ship. A second torpedo, fired as the Emden turned to leave, penetrated the forward magazine, causing an explosion that sank the ship. The captain of the Zhemchug had been ashore seeing his mistress during the attack; he was subsequently demoted and imprisoned. A party of sixty Chinese prostitutes were aboard at the time of the action; their fate is unknown.

    As quickly as Emden had arrived, she turned around and made good her escape. The French destroyer Mousquet followed Emden, under the impression that she was a British cruiser chasing the enemy raider. Once out to sea, the Emden turned on the lone French destroyer and opened fire, catching the Mousquet by surprise and quickly sinking her. Her sister ships, Pistolet and Fronde, also tried to shadow Emden, but soon lost contact. Thirty-six French survivors from Mousquet were rescued by Emden, and when three died of their injuries, they were buried at sea with full honours. Two days later, the remaining Frenchmen were transferred to a British steamer, Newburn, which had been stopped by the German ship, but not attacked, so as to enable them to be transported to Sabang, Sumatra, in the neutral Dutch East Indies. The French sailors were safely ashore the following day; the British captain even mailed a letter for Captain Müller.

    In this period, Emden was arguably the most hunted ship in the world, and yet Müller managed to elude the combined efforts of the Japanese cruisers Yahaghi and Chikuma, the Russian Askold and the British Hampshire and Yarmouth, HMS Gloucester, HMS Weymouth, RMS Empress of Russia and SS Empress of Australia.
     
  6. Manmohan Yadav

    Manmohan Yadav Brigadier STAR MEMBER

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    The battle with the Sydney

    Captain von Müller took the ship through the Sunda Strait towards the Cocos Islands, where he planned to destroy the Eastern Telegraph Company wireless station at Direction Island, thereby crippling Allied communication in the Indian Ocean. He aimed to make for Socotra afterwards and plague Allied merchant shipping on the Bombay-Aden route. However, this was not to be.

    By now, no fewer than sixty Allied warships were combing the Indian Ocean in the search for the Emden. She reached Direction Island on 9 November 1914. Müller decided to send a landing party ashore under First Lieutenant Helmuth von Mücke to destroy the station's radio tower and equipment. Fifty seamen with rifles and machine guns were sent ashore. The British civilians, aware of the gallant conduct of the Emden's captain and crew, did not resist. The Emden's landing party even agreed not to knock the radio tower down over the island's tennis court.

    Unfortunately for Emden, Superintendent Dover Farrant of the Eastern Telegraph Company had seen Emden's lack of a fourth funnel and had sent out a general call of a strange warship in the area. The Australian light cruiser HMAS Sydney, armed with eight 6 inches (150 mm) guns, was dispatched at 0630 hours from an Australian troop convoy en route to Colombo. Being a mere 55 miles (89 km) north of Direction Island, she arrived there in about three hours.

    When lookouts on Emden spotted the Sydney approaching, Captain von Müller had no choice but to raise anchor, leaving his landing party on Direction Island, and engage the Australian cruiser. Sydney was larger and faster than Emden and outranged her, but still the fight went on for nearly an hour and a half. Early on, Emden managed to knock out a gun on Sydney and destroy the Australian ship's rangefinder. However, Emden herself suffered serious damage, being struck over 100 times by shells from Sydney. Her firing dwindled and Captain von Müller beached Emden on North Keeling Island at 1115 hrs to avoid sinking.

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    At this point, Sydney left the scene to pursue a collier that had been supporting Emden. Returning at 1630 hours to the beached cruiser, Sydney's commander, Captain John Glossop, saw that Emden was still flying her battle flag, denoting her intention to continue resistance. A signal requesting surrender was sent, but was not answered. Sydney re-opened fire, causing further casualties before Emden finally struck her colours. Glossop later said that he "felt like a murderer" for ordering the last salvoes, but had no choice under the circumstances. German losses were 131 dead and 65 wounded. Captain von Müller and the rest of his crew were made prisoners of war. The officers were, however, allowed to retain their swords as a mark of honour. Sydney then steamed to Direction Island to verify the state of the wireless station and the cable. However, since it was already too dark to make a landing by then, Captain Glossop had to lie off until the next morning.

    In the meantime, Lieutenant von Mücke had hoisted the Imperial German flag, declaring the island a German possession, putting all Englishmen under martial law and making arrangements for the defence of the beach, installing machine guns and having trenches dug. Having observed the battle between his ship and the Sydney, he commandeered a sailing vessel, the 123-ton, three-masted schooner Ayesha, and gave the order to sail. Although she was old and rotten, von Mücke had her repaired so well that, before sunset, all of the German landing party with their weapons boarded her and departed, navigating shallow and reef filled waters to reach his destination (Padang, Sumatra) without a single chart.
     
  7. Manmohan Yadav

    Manmohan Yadav Brigadier STAR MEMBER

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    Epilogue

    Müller had the Iron Cross First Class bestowed upon him by Kaiser Wilhelm II. In fact, every officer serving on the Emden was awarded the Iron Cross First Class and 50 crewmen were given the Iron Cross Second Class. He was later moved to England while his men remained in captivity on Malta, until November 1919. In October 1918, Müller was released early as part of a prisoner exchange. Returning home to Germany, he was presented with the Pour le Merite, promoted to Kapitän zur See and later retired from the navy due to ill-health. He died suddenly on 11 March 1923.

    As a signal mark of honour, the Government of Germany allowed all the surviving officers and men to suffix the word 'Emden' to their names (an inheritable honour); the honour is remembered to this day in the form of the numerous 'X-Emdens' among German citizens still extant. This does not, however, represent an ennobling, as it was, in practice, done after the war, when the 'Emdenfahrer' ('Emden voyagers') were repatriated and Nobility had lost its official status in Germany (whether Wilhelm II issued such an order while still on the throne is not conclusively known). According to the Almanach de Gotha, Volume I (2000), one of them was Franz Joseph, Prince of Hohenzollern-Emden (1891–1964).

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    The 10.5 cm (4.1 in) A gun taken from Emden, in Hyde Park, Sydney in 2007

    Lieutenant von Mücke and his landing party made for Padang on Sumatra, in the neutral Dutch East Indies, where they rendezvoused with a German merchant vessel on 13 December 1914. The party reached Hodeida in the Ottoman Empire province of North Yemen, from where they undertook an epic overland journey under constant harassment before arriving at Constantinople on 5 May 1915. From there, they travelled overland to Germany.

    The captured German sailors were transferred to Singapore, which at that stage was only garrisoned by the 5th Indian Light Infantry Regiment and some Malay States Guides. On 15 February 1915, nearly eight hundred and fifty men of the 5th Light Infantry mutinied, along with nearly a hundred men of the Malay States Guides. This revolt lasted almost seven days, and resulted in the deaths of 47 British soldiers and local civilians. The mutineers also released the interned crew of the SMS Emden, who were asked by the mutineers to join them but they refused and actually took up arms to defend the barracks after the mutineers had left (sheltering some British refuges as well), until the prison camp was relieved. The mutineers went on the rampage in Keppel Harbour. The mutiny was quickly suppressed by loyal police (mainly Sikhs) and sailors from ships in port. The press reported that at least one Emden officer, Lieutenant Lauterbach, used the confusion of the mutiny to make good an escape. However, in an account given to an American journalist Lauterbach denied inciting the native troops against the British and argued the escape occurred via tunnelling after the "revolution" had been "settled".

    The mascot of the Emden, a 12 cm (4.7 in) bronze figure of a woman, was presented to Sir John Hope Simpson, then acting commander of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. A shell from the ship can be seen in the Madras city museum.

    Three of Emden's main guns and their mountings were recovered from the wreck, two with shields and one without. In 1917 a 10.5 cm (4.1 in) gun from the Emden was installed as a monument in Sydney's Hyde Park. Another is on display in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, alongside a projected video map of the engagement. The third gun had been on outdoor display at HMAS Penguin since the 1950s, until a restoration was undertaken in 2010 by the Royal Australian Navy's Fleet Support Unit - Sydney which refurbished and repainted the gun in the original 1914 German paint scheme. The gun was then put on display at the Royal Australian Navy Heritage Centre on Garden Island.

    The ship's whistle was salvaged and given to General Sir John Monash who, as chairman of the State Electricity Commission of Victoria (SECV) in 1928, had it installed as the siren at the new Yallourn Power Station. Audible across the area, it signalled shift changes, breaks and emergencies until Yallourn was shut down and the whistle was donated by the SECV to a local museum in 1980.

    Since the destruction of the Emden in 1914, four other warships of the German navy have received the same name.

    The second Emden was a light cruiser built in 1916. She was beached at Scapa Flow in 1919, when much of the High Seas Fleet was scuttled, and was given over to the French Navy who eventually scrapped her in 1926.

    The third Emden was a light cruiser built in 1925. She was the first new warship built in Germany after World War I, and mostly served as a training ship until scuttled in May 1945.

    The fourth Emden was a Köln class frigate of 1959, which was sold to the Turkish Navy in 1983. An engine room fire in 1989 took her out of service and she was scrapped in 1994.

    The latest Emden is a Bremen class frigate that was commissioned in 1983 and is still in service with the German Navy.

    As Kaiser Wilhelm II also awarded the Iron Cross to the ship herself (the only other instance being SM U-9), the four later Emdens have all carried large symbols of this medal on their bows or forecastles.

    SMS Emden has been a part of the Malayalam vocabulary as "emenden", roughly translated means 'great'. Fear of the ship's prowess had amazed the people of the Malabar Coast during the First World War, even though SMS Emden never attacked the Malabar Coast.

    Two German films Our Emden (1926) and Cruiser Emden (1932) were made about the warship, both directed by Louis Ralph.
     
  8. Manmohan Yadav

    Manmohan Yadav Brigadier STAR MEMBER

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    [​IMG]
     
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  9. Manmohan Yadav

    Manmohan Yadav Brigadier STAR MEMBER

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    Thanks For Reading

    Courtesy : Wikipedia
     
  10. grond

    grond Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    In chennai if someone behaves arrogantly we ask them do you think you are emden or what? (Nee enna periya emden aa?)
     
  11. apple2

    apple2 FULL MEMBER

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    Really :) That was all a long time ago...

    Not sure I'd describe SMS Emden as legendary. Sank some unarmed merchant ships. Bombarded a port, which it stopped doing as soon as the shore batteries opened up. First warship it comes across, it promptly gets sunk.

    Isn't this meant to be a military site? Merchant shipping raiders are only vaguely military.
     
  12. grond

    grond Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    No not legendary, but after the attack the British media ran tracking reports on the ship the viceroy came personally to assuage concerns of the locals... The locals who thought afire had broken loose were actually more scared after the announcement...
     
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