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Germanys East Asia Squadron

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Beta Tester
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Hi Guys,


With the introduction of the German cruiser tech imminent, I thought I might dig out some history concerning the amazing achievements of  Vice Admiral Von Spee in command of the East Asia Squadron featuring some of the ships to be introduced into World Of Warships, notably SMS Dresden which being the only SMS ship to survive the Battle of the Falklands and her sister Ship SMS Emden commanded by Captain Von Muller who was detached to conduct independent operations in the area.



The actual after action report from Captain Glossop of the HMAS Sydney reads:



 To the Secretary of the Admiralty.


Despatch from Captain Glossop.

H. M. A. S. "Sydney" at Colombo, 15th November. 1914.



I have the honour to report that whilst on escort duty with the Convoy under the charge of Captain Silver, H. M. A. S. "Melbourne," at 6. 30 a. m., on Monday, 9th November, a wireless message from Cocos was heard reporting that a foreign warship was off the entrance. I was ordered to raise steam for full speed at 7. 0 a. m. and proceeded thither. I worked up to 20 knots, and at 9. 15 a. m. sighted land ahead and almost immediately the smoke of a ship, which proved to be H. I. G. M. S. "Emden" coming out towards me at a great rate. At 9. 40 a. m., fire was opened, she firing the first shot. I kept my distance as much as possible to obtain the advantage of my guns. Her fire was very accurate and rapid to begin with, but seemed to slacken very quickly, all casualties occurring in this ship almost immediately. First the foremost funnel of her went, secondly the foremast, and she was badly on fire aft, then the second funnel went, and lastly the third funnel, and I saw she was making for the beach on North Keeling Island, where she grounded at 11. 20 a. m. I gave her two more broadsides and left her to pursue a merchant ship which had come up during the action.


2. Although I had guns on this merchant ship at odd times during the action I had not fired, and as she was making off fast I pursued and overtook her at 12. 10, firing a gun across her bows, and hoisting International Code Signal to stop, which she did. I sent an armed boat and found her to be the S. S. "Buresk," a captured British collier, with 18 Chinese crew, 1 English Steward, 1 Norwegian Cook, and a German Prize Crew of 3 Officers, 1 Warrant Officer and 12 men. The ship unfortunately was sinking, the Kingston knocked out and damaged to prevent repairing, so I took all on board, fired 4 shells into her and returned to "Emden," passing men swimming in the water, for whom I left 2 boats I was towing from "Buresk."


3. On arriving again off "Emden" she still had her colours up at mainmast head. I enquired by signal, International Code, "Will you surrender ?"and received a reply in Morse "What signal? No signal books. " I then made in Morse "Do you surrender?" and subsequently "Have you received my signal?" to neither of which did I get an answer. The German Officers on board gave me to understand that the Captain would never surrender, and therefore, though very reluctantly, I again fired at her at 4. 30 p. m., ceasing at 4. 35, as she showed white flags and hauled down her ensign by sending a man aloft.


4. I then left "Emden" and returned and picked up the "Buresk's" two boats, rescuing 2 sailors (5. 0 p. m.), who had been in the water all day. I returned and sent in one boat to "Emden," manned by her own prize crew from "Buresk," and 1 Officer, and stating I would return to their assistance next morning. This I had to do, as I was desirous to find out the condition of cables and Wireless Station at Direction Island. On the passage over I was again delayed by rescuing another sailor (6. 30 p. m.), and by the time I was again ready and approaching Direction Island it was too late for the night.


5. I lay on and off all night and communicated with Direction Island at 8. 0 a. m., 10th November, to find that the "Emden's" party consisting of 3 officers and 40 men, 1 launch and 2 cutters had seized and provisioned a 70 tons schooner (the "Ayesha"), having 4 Maxims, with 2 belts to each. They left the previous night at six o'clock. The Wireless Station was entirely destroyed, 1 cable cut, 1 damaged, and 1 intact. I borrowed a Doctor and 2 Assistants, and proceeded as fast as possible to "Emden's" assistance.


6. I sent an Officer on board to see the Captain, and in view of the large number of prisoners and wounded and lack of accommodation, &c., in this ship, and the absolute impossibility of leaving them where they were, he agreed that if I received his Officers and men and all wounded, "then as for such time as they remained in "Sydney'" they would cause no interference with ship or fittings, and would be amenable to the ship's discipline." I therefore set to work at once to tranship them a most difficult operation, the ship being on weather side of Island and the send alongside very heavy. The conditions in the "Emden" were indescribable. I received the last from her at 5. 0 p. m., then had to go round to the lee side to pick up 20 more men who had managed to get ashore from the ship.


7. Darkness came on before this could be accomplished, and the ship again stood off and on all night, resuming operations at 5. 0 a. m. on 11th November, a cutter's crew having to land with stretchers to bring wounded round to embarking point. A German Officer, a Doctor, died ashore the previous day. The ship in the meantime ran over to Direction Island to return their Doctor and Assistants, send cables, and was back again at 10. 0 a. m., embarked the remainder of wounded, and proceeded for Colombo by 10. 35 a. m. Wednesday, 11th November.


8. Total casualties in "Sydney": Killed 3, severely wounded (since dead) 1, severely wounded 4, wounded 4, slightly wounded 4. In the "Emden" I can only approximately state the killed at 7 Officers and 108 men from Captain's statement. I had on board 11 Officers, 9 Warrant Officers, and 191 men, of whom 3 Officers and 53 men were wounded, and of this number 1 Officer and 3 men have since died of wounds.


9. The damage to "Sydney's" hull and fittings was surprisingly small; in all about 10 hits seem to have been made. The engine and boiler rooms and funnels escaped entirely.


10. I have great pleasure in stating that the behaviour of the ship's company was excellent in every way, and with such a large proportion of young hands and people under training it is all the more gratifying. The engines worked magnificently, and higher results than trials were obtained, and I cannot speak too highly of the Medical Staff and arrangements on subsequent trip, the ship being nothing but a hospital of a most painful description.


I have the honour to be, Sir, Your obedient Servant,

JOHN C. T. GLOSSOP, Captain.






Further Reading to be found here:




Ands credits to 'The Great War' BBC home video part 6 - I'll re-upload the video after I correct the sound problem bout 10 minutes :(






Edited by Yaffle1234
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Beta Tester
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More info + reading material:


(btw, Dresden didn't lower it's battle-flag when she was already badly wrecked and burning because the cables were severed and the mast was too hot from the fires, the crewman that finally took down the flag was badly burned in the process)


Germany may not be a country noted for seafaring swashbucklers a la Francis Drake or Henry Morgan, but it can lay claim to Karl von Müller, the commander of the light cruiser SMS Emden.


During the opening weeks of the First World War, von Müller and his crew of 360 waged an astonishing piratical campaign through the South Pacific and Indian Ocean.


The short-lived expedition left more than 30 Allied ships ablaze, ground British trade in the Far East to a standstill and terrorized the ports and sea lanes of more than a quarter of the Earth’s surface.


For three months, a massive multinational fleet scoured the seas in search of the Emden, a ship that often seemed to strike from out of nowhere and then disappear just as suddenly.


And even more remarkable was von Müller’s own personal brand of gallantry.


While earning himself a reputation as a daring sea captain, his generosity and fair treatment of prisoners won him the respect and admiration of many, including his own enemies.




SMS Emden's last fight:


The "Emden's" antagonist was the Anglo-Australian cruiser "Sidney." She was half again as large as the "Emden," built five years later, was her superior in speed, protected by side armor, which the "Emden" was not, was equipped with guns that, although in number no more to the broadside than the "Emden" carried, were of a caliber that was one and a half times as great, — conditions under which there could be but one outcome of the battle. For the "Emden" the hour of destiny had struck.


Soon the two ships were engaged in a running fight, all the while keeping at a distance of from four to five thousand meters from each other. From ship to ship sped the iron missiles in full broadsides. At the outset it appeared that the enemy was suffering considerably. The "Emden's" first salvos found their mark forward in the hostile cruiser. The marksmanship of the English was not much to boast of. For a time, not a telling shot had struck the "Emden," although our gunners had given a good account of themselves. But after a while, a well-placed salvo struck aft on the "Emden." The havoc that the "Sidney's" shells of great caliber wrought on our unarmored cruiser was tremendous. A great blaze started up under the poop. For a quarter of an hour the flames leaped upward to a height of from twenty to twenty-five meters. The cloud of dense grey smoke that rose 

from the ship was mingled with white steam, an indication that the steam pipes on the starboard side of the ship had been damaged. Undaunted by the severe injury that she had suffered, the "Emden" now squarely faced her assailant. Putting her helm hard about, she turned upon her enemy and took up the battle.


Unintermittently the forward guns of our ship poured forth their shells. A few minutes after the "Emden" had turned upon her foe, the hostile cruiser also turned to starboard, and ran away from our ship. As in the meantime we on shore had observed that several of the "Emden's" shots had hit their mark, there arose within us a faint hope that the enemy might in some way have received a fatal blow. Evidently this was not the case, however. Although the "Sidney" ran off at high speed, she soon turned about. Undoubtedly the purpose of this manoeuvre was simply to increase her fighting distance from the "Emden," in order to take advantage of the greater caliber of her guns, and at the same time to put herself beyond the reach of the "Emden's" less powerful guns.


Meanwhile the "Emden" had suffered still further serious damage. While turning about to make a dash at her foe, a shell tore away her forward funnel. Like a huge block it lay across the forward part of the ship. Almost at the same instant another telling shot carried off the foremast, and swept it overboard. When my eyes beheld this, I knew that at least one of my comrades had lost his life, — the officer doing observation duty up in the top of the foremast.


And still the fire continued to rage on board the " Emden," although it began to show signs of abating. It became more of a smouldering fire, and the flames gave way to a thick cloud of smoke and fumes, apparently the result of efforts to quench the fire. In a running fight, keeping side by side, and firing incessantly with full salvos upon each other, the two contending ships

disappeared beyond the horizon.


The fight had begun at half-past eight in the morning. The landing squad from the "Emden," was now getting the "Ayesha," an old schooner that they had found lying at anchor in the harbor, ready to put to sea. In case the "Emden" did not return, the men intended to leave the island on this little schooner. During the the course of the day the "Emden," still fighting, came into view a number of times, but always so far distant that she could not be recognized. At intervals the "Sidney's" great cloud of black smoke, due to the Australian coal that she was burning, came in sight. From this, the men of the landing squad knew that the fight was still in progress.


Toward evening, just before darkness set in, the ships came in sight again. They were both- still firing. The last that the landing squad saw of the fight was the "Emden" slowly steering an easterly course just before sunset. The ship was almost entirely below the horizon. Only the one funnel still left her, and the top of the highest mast were visible; this was just enough to indicate to us the speed at which she was moving, and the direction in which she was going. The visible distance from Keeling to the horizon is about eight or ten nautical miles. It is clear, therefore, that shortly before sunset the "Emden" was still afloat, and not more than eight or ten nautical miles distant from South  Keeling.


The "Sidney" was somewhat nearer to the island. Her masts, funnels, superstructure, and upper deck could all be seen. Both ships were still firing, although the "Emden's" fire was intermittent and not strong. Either her ammunition, upon which the bombardment of Madras and the fight at Penang had made heavy demands, was giving out, or else the majority of her guns had been silenced.

At sunset the "Sidney" ceased firing, and was seen coming back on a northwesterly course. The "Emden" was steering toward the east.

Gradually the distance between the ships grew greater and greater, until at last they were beyond the reach of each other's guns. The fight was over.

The sun set. Darkness fell. Like a black shroud the night settled down upon both ships.


The tale is told. The "Emden" is no more. On the rocky reefs of North Keeling she found a grave. But as long as the Monsoon sighs among the tops of the tall pines on the lonely little island in the distant Indian Ocean, and, mingling its voice with the murmur of the shining white surf that breaks on the shore, chants a dirge for the " Emden," so long shall live, in song and story, the Flying Dutchman, the brave little German ship that for months was the terror of her enemies, in 1914, during the great war of the nations, in the mighty struggle for the freedom of the seas.








photos & pictures:









The Emden by Hellmuth von Mücke


The 'Ayesha' - the adventures of the landing squad of the 'Emden' by Mücke




The chief of our Mediterranean Division, who was also chief of the Turkish fleet, Admiral Souchon, had honored us by coming with his staff to meet us at Haider Pasha. My men quickly fell in line. Our flag, which we had followed for ten months, was flying at our right wing. A few brief commands, the execution of which proved that the brigand existence we had led for months had not destroyed our military trim, and my sword was lowered before my superior officer:


I report the landing squad from the Emden, five officers, seven petty officers, and thirty men strong.”


S.M.S. Emden - Des Kaisers Piraten ;)


Painting: "The Emden firing at Madras"


source: Als Flüchtling um den halben Erdball - die abenteuerlichen Erlebnisse des Prisenoffiziers S.M.S. "Emden" Kapitänleutnant d. R. Julius Lauterbach ( 271 Seiten 




SMS Dresden, the sistership of the SMS Emden will be playable soon ;)








1909 - Dresden in the harbour of New York:






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Beta Tester
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Btw, I've uploaded the full documentary if anyone is interested, quite alot of naval stuff therein, Jutland etc


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Beta Tester
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Very interesting, although what has been written is more about two ships of the squadron, the most remarkable ones though.


Looking at the whole squadron, one could wonder why it took so much for the Royal Navy, whose mission was to have numerical superiority over all the enemies she could face on all theaters, to deal it a mortal blow. Of course, it's easy to analyze the situation seeing how it worked out, and how a different posture might have yielded optimal results; still, the behavior of the naval forces that might have intercepted it were rather passive, concentrating on escort and protection duties instead of activelu hunting for the enemy.

It's also telling that the British admiral commanding the opposing forces at the battle of Coronel, Sir Cristopher Cradock, decided to engage the enemy despite being reportedly sure that he wasn't going to survive because of what had happened in the Mediterranean a few months earlier, where Admiral Troubridge had undergone a court martial for failing to engage with superior forces (and ending up cleared of any wrongdoing but never being appointed to another active command again). 

In this case, punishing an admiral allegedly guilty of "not having done its utmost" made another courageous; however, in this case the courage led to the first British squadron-sized defeat in a century. It could be argued, though, that this defeat spurred the Admiralty to send overwhelming forces (in the form of two battlecruisers) to deal with the perpetrator, which they did.

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