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Stauffenberg44

THE GLORIOUS SMS EMDEN

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5acff7761cc5c_Emden1.jpg.5a53e381a945d17876bc7b9b6e3b340c.jpg

 

Quote

“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.”

 

This unprepossessing light cruiser is a must-have for other collectors here I am sure. Stop sneering at Tier II--the pre-dreadnoughts are coming. The history of this ship any captain would marvel at and envy. The SMS Emden.

History:

Spoiler

"Germany may not be 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.

It’s War

Karl von Müller was already a seasoned naval officer when he was given command of the Emden in 1913. The 40-year-old son of a Prussian army colonel had spent much of his career up to that point patrolling the waters around Germany’s various far-flung colonies.

His new command, which was harboured in the Far East port city of Tsingtao, was commissioned in 1908 and was nicknamed the “Swan of the East.”

When war between the great powers threatened in July 1914, von Müller wisely took the Emden out of port and onto the high seas, escaping the joint Anglo Japanese assault on the German colony. On Aug. 4, with the war less than a week old, he overhauled the Russian mail ship Ryazan. It was the first vessel Germany captured in the war.

The Emden then made for the Marianas in the South Pacific where it caught up with German Imperial Navy’s East Asia Squadron. After learning of Admiral von Spee's plan to return the whole of the fleet to home waters via the Pacific and Cape Horn, von Müller pressed his superior to let the Emden remain in the region to prey on Allied shipping. The admiral approved the plan and the Emden set off with its own coal vessel in tow and plotted a course for the Indian Ocean.

Alone in hostile waters, von Müller disguised his vessel as the roughly equal-sized British cruise HMS Yarmouth by having his crew rig a dummy fourth smokestack. His preferred tactic was to approach targets with no colours flying hoping his quarry would mistake him for a British warship. When in close, he’d fire a warning shot, hoist the German ensign and signal his prey: “Stop at once! Do not use wireless!”

The World’s Most Dangerous Ship

By early September, the Emden was cruising the Indian Ocean plundering British trade ships – 15 in just a few days. By the middle of the month, panic had gripped the merchant fleet and all voyages between India and Singapore were halted. With few ships venturing from harbour, von Müller widened his campaign to include shore targets.

On the night of Sept. 22, he steamed into the port of Madras, India and turned the Emden’s 10 four-inch guns on the port’s fuel depot. Within 30 minutes, the German ship had unleashed a 125-round barrage that set the massive oil tanks ablaze. The explosions even damaged a vessel in the harbour. Emden slipped out of Madras before the shore batteries could get a fix on her. Fears that von Müller was en route to Sri Lanka next caused widespread panic there.

In the coming days, the Emden would send six more enemy ships to the bottom.

Von Müller set his sights next on the British port at Diego Garcia. However, upon arrival, he was amazed to learn that the authorities there had no idea that war had even been declared. Rather than turn his guns on the unsuspecting enemy, von Müller took advantage of the calm to re-provision, repair and even repaint his ship. He returned the generosity of his unwitting hosts by putting his own crewmen to work fixing a local resident’s boat. In a few days, the Emden was back at sea.

The Gallant Foe

In the meantime, newspaper headlines worldwide were heralding the audacious exploits of the Emden. Tales of von Müller’s chivalry captured the world’s imagination. His practice of ensuring the safety of the passengers and crew of enemy vessels became legendary. According to eyewitnesses, von Müller’s men were under strict orders to take off all prisoners before blasting or scuttling a ship. All those detained were either put ashore at neutral ports or transferred to non-belligerent ships and were treated as guests while in German custody.

In one instance the Emden, posing as a British cruiser, got in close enough to the French warship Mousquet to unleash a withering cannonade at almost point blank range. Von Müller ordered 35 survivors of the stricken vessel plucked from the sea and put ashore; five crewmen who died during the rescue were buried by the Emden’s crew with full military honours.

In another encounter, the captain of a captured British vessel was so taken by von Müller’s hospitality, he offered to mail the commander’s personal correspondence upon reaching shore.

Despite this, British Admiralty was less than enthralled by the captain of the Emden. By October, the Royal Navy had gathered a fleet of British cruisers, along with Australian, Russian, French and Japanese warships  — 60 in all — to fan out across the South Seas in search of the elusive German raider.

Emden’s Luck Runs Out

Following a widely successful attack on Penang, Malaya in which the Emden loosed torpedoes at an anchored Russian cruiser and a French destroyer, von Müller ordered his ship to steam for the Cocos Islands in the eastern Indian Ocean. His objective — the strategically vital British telegraph station on the remote Direction Island.

At daybreak on Nov. 9, von Müller anchored off shore and put a heavily armed landing party on the island with orders to bring down the radio mast. The local population refused to interfere with the sailors after they learned that it was the dashing Muller who had ordered the mission. In return for this unexpected goodwill, the Germans promised to spare a popular tennis court situated near the tower. A quick-witted employee of the Eastern Telegraph Company was unmoved however and managed to get a distress signal off before the post was captured.

Unfortunately for von Müller, the Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney happened to be just over the horizon when the alarm was sounded. It would arrive on the scene within three hours.

Caught off guard by the sudden appearance of an enemy cruiser bearing down on his ship, von Müller abandoned the shore party and ordered the Emden into action against the larger and more heavily armed Sydney. Within 90 minutes, the German vessel had been hit more than 100 times. It seemed the Swan of the East’s luck had finally run out.

Before noon, von Müller ordered the holed Emden onto a sandbar to avoid her sinking. Noting that the vessel had yet to strike her colours, the captain of the Sydney continued to pour fire into the hapless ship. More than 130 of Emden’s crew were killed in the battle. By sunset, von Müller ordered the survivors to haul down their flag. He and the remaining crew were taken prisoner and the Emden was finished.

Watching the battle from the shore, the 50 men of the German landing party busily prepared to fight off the inevitable ground assault. It never came. The group eluded detection after commandeering an old worn out schooner on the island. Once aboad, they made sail for Sumatra.

Not Quite the End

While the battle of Direction Island was the end of the SMS Emden; the story was far from over. In fact, it got much more interesting!

Von Müller was held as a POW on Malta until late in the war, at which point he was exchanged and returned to Germany. Upon his arrival, he was hailed as a hero and promoted to full captain. All of the ship’s officers, including the famous commander, were awarded the Iron Cross 1st class; the rest of the crew received Iron Crosses 2nd class. Amazingly, even the ship itself was given the same honour. Additionally, all of the crewmen were permitted to add “Emden” to their surnames — a singular distinction that could be passed down to their descendants.

Most of Emden’s captured crewmen were transferred to a British-run POW compound in Singapore, that is until a mutinyh of the 5th Indian Light Infantry in 1915  afforded the sailors a chance to escape. While many fled during the chaos, some remained, gathered weapons and protected a group of terrorized British residents who sought shelter in the prison barracks.

As for the abandoned Direction Island shore party, they sailed for a month aboard their purloined schooner before being picked up by a German merchant vessel. They were eventually put ashore in Yemen. Rather than wait for the next ship, the group chose to make an arduous overland trek across the entire Arabian Peninsula to reach Constantinople. From there they obtained ground transport to Germany.

Von Müller died in 1923 of complications from malaria that he contracted in Africa prior to the war. However the legacy of his exploits lived on. Germany would commission no fewer than three other ships named Emden, one of which still serves in the German navy to this day. Each was painted with a giant Iron Cross on its hull in honour of von Müller’s achievements.

The story of the Emden would be featured in three different German films: Our Emden (1926), The Cruiser Emden (1932) and most recently The Men of the Emden (2012) – the latter movie tells the story of the incredible overland journey of the 50 crewmen from the wayward shore party.

The very word “Emden” (or at least variations of it) has become part of two different languages. In Tamil, emdena is used to describe someone who is sneaky, clever or sly, while the Malayalam word for great is emenden.

The beached wreckage of the Emden was plundered for war trophies before being broken up for scrap.

image.png.57e5dc8d6544384ee2ae751156b7bc36.png

 

Three of the ship’s guns are on display in Australia – one still sits in Hyde Park in Sydney. The ship’s mascot, a statue of a woman, was exhibited in Nicobar for decades and one of the vessel’s artillery shells is a museum piece in Madras, India."

from "The Kaiser's Pirate Ship - The Astounding Voyage of SMS Emden" https://militaryhistorynow.com/2013/05/08/the-kaisers-pirate-ship-the-unbelievable-voyage-of-the-sms-emden/

[emphasis added]

 

What is the moral of the story for our ships battling at sea here? Easy: it does not matter what your ship's specs are, whether it is "OP" or not, Tier II or X... all that matters is the captain at the helm. You.

Fair seas.

5acffe0ddd975_EmdenAAA.thumb.jpg.e94156fd139dcb7737657f2ca5de85c3.jpg

Edited by Stauffenberg44
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It is a pretty amazing story. The Great War has a nice episode on the Emden as well.

 

 

 

Edited by RipNuN2
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Just now, RipNuN2 said:

It is a pretty amazing story. The Great War has a nice episode on the Emden as well.

 

 

 

Nice pic thanks.

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I love my Emden! Don’t play it much but it’ll never leave my port ... as in be “scrapped”. The history behind it makes it all the more interesting and an amazing story!

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4 minutes ago, Bravo4zero said:

I love my Emden! Don’t play it much but it’ll never leave my port ... as in be “scrapped”. The history behind it makes it all the more interesting and an amazing story!

Well done Sir. Another history buff.. it's in the blood heh?

Edit: I don't have navy ancestors but my grand dad was wounded on Vimy Ridge 1917. History, keep it alive!

Edited by Stauffenberg44
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Great ship I wish I played it more but these days because of the event and missions at such high tiers I don't get time

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6 minutes ago, tm63au said:

Great ship I wish I played it more but these days because of the event and missions at such high tiers I don't get time

I am pushing elsewhere for them to rethink Tier II and bring on some amazing ships like the Borodino. Right now there is just the Mikasa. Here's my thread, do vote if you haven't to prod WG into pursuing this (or not):

Edit: And yes I recognize your Scharnhorst crest--fair dinkum!

Edited by Stauffenberg44
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31 minutes ago, Stauffenberg44 said:

Well done Sir. Another history buff.. it's in the blood heh?

Edit: I don't have navy ancestors but my grand dad was wounded on Vimy Ridge 1917. History, keep it alive!

Vimy Ridge.  Hell of a fight. My Sunday school teacher in the 1950's was a Quaker (Friends Church) but he went as it was deemed  "a necessary war" by the minister. Odd but that's the way it was. Captain of artillery. Half deaf when he was my Sunday school teacher from 5 months or so of firing French 75's in 1918.  He got there in the Spring of 1918 and fought until Nov. Gassed!!! Lung damage.  Coughed a lot but lived into his 80's.  Cool guy. O wow he did NOT romanticize war at all.....he went thru hell. Tried to convey that to use way back when I was a kid. My 2 cents. Fought in the Arrgon offensive, fall of 1918. Had met Sgt York. Yup.

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45 minutes ago, Stauffenberg44 said:

Well done Sir. Another history buff.. it's in the blood heh?

Edit: I don't have navy ancestors but my grand dad was wounded on Vimy Ridge 1917. History, keep it alive!

I certainly agree that we must keep history alive! I have a distinct love of the history surrounding WWI and WWII although I do love the Napolionic wars also.

BTW the Vimy Ridge battle “celebrated” its 101st anniversary just a few days ago. Seems so long ago now but all our history should never be forgotten!

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1 minute ago, dmckay said:

Vimy Ridge.  Hell of a fight. My Sunday school teacher in the 1950's was a Quaker (Friends Church) but he went as it was deemed  "a necessary war" by the minister. Odd but that's the way it was. Captain of artillery. Half deaf when he was my Sunday school teacher from 5 months or so of firing French 75's in 1918.  He got there in the Spring of 1918 and fought until Nov. Gassed!!! Lung damage.  Coughed a lot but lived into his 80's.  Cool guy. O wow he did NOT romanticize war at all.....he went thru hell. Tried to convey that to use way back when I was a kid. My 2 cents. Fought in the Arrgon offensive, fall of 1918. Had met Sgt York. Yup.

My Grand dad was in engineers, digging approach trenches and mini rail lines to move stuff forward at Vimy, He was wounded after the battle when a mine or artillery shell blew up a captain and two subalterns with him just 20 feet in front of him (I have ascertained the exact instance in the unit's war diaries even though they were adverse to ever mentioning individual names). He was sent back to England, married his sweetie he had met on the way in, moved to Vancouver Island and had two children, one of whom was my mother June. His unit was dissolved and merged into a larger unit due to combat losses.

67th Western Scots Btn, all of them over 6'4" tall. That is my height as well--6'4". What those men went through in the trenches is simply unimaginable.

He died 15 years after the war of "Brights Disease" as it was called then--kidney failure brought on my long-term exposure to cold wet ground under the body. He never had an unkind word to say about the Germans he fought. He knew they were shoved into the fight just as he was.

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13 minutes ago, Bravo4zero said:

I certainly agree that we must keep history alive! I have a distinct love of the history surrounding WWI and WWII although I do love the Napolionic wars also.

BTW the Vimy Ridge battle “celebrated” its 101st anniversary just a few days ago. Seems so long ago now but all our history should never be forgotten!

Well said!

And Napoleonics, oh oh oh... vive la France!

 

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5 hours ago, Bravo4zero said:

I love my Emden! Don’t play it much but it’ll never leave my port ... as in be “scrapped”. The history behind it makes it all the more interesting and an amazing story!

I like my Emden too though I aint taken her out for a spin in a while. She's the second oldest ship in my port. (St. Louis is the oldest)

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6 hours ago, Stauffenberg44 said:

I am pushing elsewhere for them to rethink Tier II and bring on some amazing ships like the Borodino. Right now there is just the Mikasa. Here's my thread, do vote if you haven't to prod WG into pursuing this (or not):

Edit: And yes I recognize your Scharnhorst crest--fair dinkum!

yes we need more PRE DREADNOUGHTS in game, i did read that post I am pretty certain i posted there too.

Your post on viribus unitis was great wish we could get her in game too.

cheers

 

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Emden is something I'll never get rid of, even though I don't play her anymore since the MM change so it doesn't see tier 1 anymore.  I mean, she's just a good looking ship and add in all the history that it has?  Still think Kapitän zur See Karl von Müller should be a special German captain, much along the lines of Seagal (Now John Doe) and Jack Dunkirk

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