A new book about the SYDNEY - EMDEN battle will be published in October 2013. It will be launched during a ceremony at the HMAS SYDNEY mast, the memorial on Sydney harbour, during the International Fleet Review of the Royal Austalian Navy in Sydney
The author, Mike Carlton, is grateful for the help in his research given by the Emdenfamily
The Story of the Emden Steam Whistle:
From March 1st to May 8th of 2003 there was an exhibition in Morwell, Victoria, Australia:
'Three Lives of the Emden Steam Whistle'.
(Written by Dr. Meredith Fletcher, Monash University, Gippsland, Victoria, Australia)
The first part of the exhibition tells the steam whistle's naval history. We will have the steam whistle on display, as well as the Emden's binnacle and other artefacts and photographs. We are hoping to do a profile of Otto Monkedieck, the navigator, and of couse we'll be telling the story of the Ayesha.
What happened to the steam whistle after the war? It was salvaged from North Keeling Island and became a power station siren in the early 1920s. The Victorian Government developed a vast scheme to provide electricity for Victoria, based on generating electricity from brown coal deposits in the Latrobe Valley. So the Emden steam whistle became the Yallourn power station siren, sounding the shifts of the working day. It was part of a large enterprise that included an open cut mine and briquette factory which drew extensively on German technology. A special town was also built at Yallourn to house the workers. People at Yallourn lived their lives to the sound of the former Emden steam whistle. Our exhibition will focus on Yallourn: company town and garden city.
In the 1970s, the Victorian Government began to demolish the beautiful model town of Yallourn to mine the coal that lay underneath. The Emden steam whistle/Yallourn power station siren was silenced and it began its third life: that of a museum object whose sound revives memories of a lost town. In the third part of the exhibition, we'll be displaying objects and artefacts that former Yallourn residents keep from their town, now that it no longer exists.
We have the Emden steam whistle's sound captured on record, and that will be sounding at times throughout the exhibition.
The exhibition is only a modest one, but I thought it may be of interest to descendants of the Emden sailors.
An impressive message
frigate HMAS "Sydney" to frigate FGS "Emden" March 2002:
R 190733Z MAR 02
FM HMAS SYDNEY
TO FGS EMDEN
SUBJ: MEMORIAL SERVICE NORTH KEELING ISLAND
1. ON MONDAY 11 MARCH, HMAS SYDNEY PASSED CLOSE BY THE NORTH KEELING ISLAND TO
CONDUCT A SHORT SERVICE OF REMEMBRANCE FOR THE 138 SAILORS WHO DIED AS A RESULT OF
THE COMBAT BETWEEN HMAS SYDNEY I AND SMS EMDEN. SHORTLY AFTER THE TIME IN THE
MORNING WHEN THE OPENING SALVOES COMMENCED OVER 87 YEARS AGO, SYDNEY IV SAILED
QUIETLY PAST THE GRAVE OF EMDEN AT A LITTLE MORE THAN A MILE DISTANT, AND WITH THE
CREW MUSTERED AFT LAID TWO WREATHS ON BEHALF OF SYDNEY IV AND FGS EMDEN.
2. THREATENING SKIES CLEARED FOR THE DURATION OF THE SERVICE, AND AFTER AN
INTRODUCTORY SPEECH BY MYSELF, A SERIES OF PRAYERS AND READINGS WERE OFFERED TO
THE MEMORY OF OUR ANCESTORS. AS THE SHIPS COMPANY LOOKED TO EMDENS LAST RESTING
PLACE, AND GULLS WHEELED OVERHEAD, BOTH WREATHS WERE LAID TOGETHER IN THE DEEP
BLUE SWELL, AND WITH THE PREVAILING WIND AND CURRENT WOULD HAVE LANDED ON THE REEF
OF NORTH KEELING ISLAND. THE SHIP SAILED AWAY FROM THE SHORE SLOWLY TO THE
STRAINS OF A TRUMPET PLAYING THE LAST POST, AND AS THE REVEILLE SOUNDED, MANY IN
OUR CREW CAUGHT THEIR LAST GLIMPSE OF THE REEF THAT NOW PROTECTS THE REMAINS OF A
3. MY ADDRESS TO THE ASSEMBLED SHIPS COMPANY CONCLUDED WITH THE FOLLOWING WORDS:
THE BATTLE BETWEEN THESE TWO SHIPS IS SO SIGNIFICANT FOR WE WHO ARE DESCENDED FROM
THESE OUR ANCESTORS. THE BATTLE DEMONSTRATES THAT SKILLFUL SHIP HANDLING,
EFFICIENT WAR FIGHTING SKILLS AND PLAIN SIMPLE COURAGE ARE VITAL COMPONENT IN
MODERN NAVAL WARFARE. BOTH SHIPS WERE NEW, BOTH CREWS COMPRISED HIGHLY TRAINED
PROFESSIONALS, AND EACH WAS JUSTLY PROUD OF THEIR ABILITIES. OUR TWO SHIPS MOTTOS
ARE BASED ON THE CONTINUED PROUD ASSOCIATION WE IN THE MODERN DAY SYDNEY AND EMDEN
HAVE WITH OUR ANCESTORS, AND WE ARE PRIVILEGED TO BE A PART OF THE ON-GOING
HISTORY OF THESE TWO SHIPS, MOST RECENTLY IN THE FORM OF OUR JOINT SERVICE IN THE
WAR AGAINST TERRORISM IN THE MIDDLE EAST. SYDNEY REMAINS THOROUGH AND READY. EMDEN
4. I INTEND TO SEND FULL COPY OF THE ORDER OF SERVICE TO YOU VIA E-MAIL, AND
WILL BE DELIGHTED TO SEND COPIES OF THIS, ALONG WITH PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE SERVICE,
TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE KREUZER EMDEN ASSOCIATION, MR DIEDERICH ZIMMERMANN.
5. I TRULY REGRET THAT OUT TWO SHIPS DID NOT HAVE THE CHANCE TO MEET, BUT OUR
COMBINED HERITAGE WILL ENSURE YOU A WARM WELCOME IN OUR HOME OF SYDNEY SHOULD YOU
EVER FIND YOURSELF IN OUR WATERS.
6. COMMANDER DARYL BATES AM RAN SENDS
Message of Greeting for the HMAS Watson Mess Dinner in 2004
sent by the Head of the Emden Family
Distinguished audience at the SYDNEY-EMDEN Mess Dinner at HMAS WATSON,
as head of the so-called “Emdenfamily” it is a great honour for me to send you a message to be read out tonight whilst you are remembering the victims of one of the most well known sea battles in history.
The “Emdenfamily” is an informal association of the descendants of the SMS EMDEN crew, most of which carry the name suffix “-Emden” (e.g. Meyer-Emden). This name was given to the crewmembers who took part in the final battle and subsequently the name has continued as a matter of heredity. A unique act in German history!
Being true descendants we feel honoured and obliged that we can keep the memory and the traditions alive. Naturally, we keep close contact to today’s FGS EMDEN.
A week ago, on November 9, during a wreath-laying ceremony at Karl von Müller’s grave I tried to express what made the SYDNEY-EMDEN battle so remarkable:
In short, it was the characters of the two commanding officers, Captain Glossop and Commander von Müller, who were both outstanding experts of naval warfare. The successful accomplishment of their missions was achieved through confidence, a little luck and the ruse of war.
The captain of EMDEN meticulously respected the rights of neutrals and non-combatants, he rescued the crews and arranged for them to be delivered in dignity and honour to secure ports. When realizing that the heroic final battle was lost he ran his ship aground and surrendered to keep the losses of his crew as low as possible.
The captain of SYDNEY rescued the surviving crewmembers of the EMDEN, took care of the wounded and brought them safely to Colombo. Although being prisoners of war they were treated with honour, the officers were allowed to carry their swords, a pure symbol of trust and respect.
it is the above conduct of these captains and their crews which should act as guidance to us in our actions for the future. By remembering them we are praying that the losses of the past have not been in vain. Despite today’s difficulties of asymmetric warfare and apparent loss of values they remind us of good and honour and give us hope for peaceful cooperation in humanity and dignity all over the world.
Fair winds and following seas,
Henning Bess, Captain GEN
4.1 inch Gun of SMS EMDEN restored
ONE of the 10 4.1-inch guns from the German raider SMS Emden has been restored and now occupies pride of place at the RAN Heritage Centre on Garden Island, Sydney, where it will raise public awareness of the Navy’s first victory at sea in World War I.
For picture and details see RAN homepage link
and he immediately joined the RAN as leading
After several years Service, Mr Russell
was posted to the Australian Artillery.
He won a Military Medal on October 3rd
1918 at Le Cateau in France for tending wounded
He dressed the wounds of two injured
allied soldiers on the open battlefield among falling
shells before dragging them to his own lines.
Three weeks later and three weeks before
Armistice was signed, a German Gas Bomb
exploded in Mr Russell’s trench.
Another artillery man in the trench with
him died instantly. Mr Russell is still affected by
November 9th 1915 opened a beautiful day
balmy day.We were busy scrubbing decks at 6.45am.
when a Signals Rating (Nat Clifford, who passed
away Nov 8th 1967, one day before the 53rd
anniversary of Emden Action. I asked “What’s the
hurry? He said “ A signal for the Captain.
Within minutes the smoke started belching
from the funnels and all hands were sent to
breakfast. Afterwards Capt. Glossop (after the
Commander Finlayson had cleared the ship for
action) addressed the ships company stressing the
point of remaining calm, and for the older ratings to
help the youngsters as much as possible, as we had
recently acquired about 30 boys from the training
ship Tingara. About 8.30am the lookout reported
from the masthead: Three funnel Cruiser right
ahead.. at which time we were about 12,5000 yards
away; but there was a lot of haze. We heard
Captain Glossop had decided to close to 10,000
yards before opening fire; but before we go to that
range the Emden had opened up, and got a salvo
It was very close to target – “us”.
Our return fire was very ragged and the
Gunnery officer. Lieut. Rahilly, said what he
thought about our shooting. I was captain of
Quarterdeck gun and leading hand. We had 6 inch
guns with range effective at about 10,000 yards.
The Emden had 4.7’s with higher calibrations and
hit us at 10,500 yards and carried away our forward
rangefinder, then within 20 minutes of action they
did the same to the after control.
Marvellous shooting on their part, with a
bit of luck!!!
With both our controls gone, Rahilly had to
give the order “individual Gun Fire” and then
things started to move. My gun on the quarter deck
was used for a start as the range finder. The
Captain would steam right into about 10,000 yds.
put the helm hard over and as the Sydney turned
the quarter deck gun would fire and relay the range.
After that we started getting some good
hits on the Emden. All this time the ships were zig
sagging and hopping in for a quick “smack” when
the opportunity offered. The Sydney and the Emden
fired torpedoes; but both broke water too soon and
did no damage.
After we had knocked down a couple of
Emden funnels she ran ashore and beached herself
on North Keeling Island. As she still had her
colours flying Capt. Glossop signalled “Do you
surrender?” after repeating the signal twice there
was no reply.
Capt. Glossop reluctantly decided on another salvo,
and then a rating went to the masthead, hauled
down the colours and put up a white sheet.
Immediately after the action was finished, the
steamboat was ordered away to investigate a ship
that had appeared on the horizon, and did not
answer signals. I was coxswain of the steamboat
and when we got close enough to see her mane
with the telescope we found it was an English
collier, S.S. Buresk which the Emden had captured
just previously with 600 tons of Welsh coal.
Evidently a rendezvous with the Emden. When we
got on board we found they had smashed all Seacocks
and she was filling quickly. We took the
prize crew (Germans) and some coolies and loaded
them into the Buresk’s boats and towed them back
to the Sydney.
During this time the Sydney was steaming
towards us, and she fired a salvo over our heads
and right into the Buresk which immediately started
to settle with 600 tons of good Welsh coal!
When we got back to the Sydney an officer
asked for volunteers to go ashore on Keeling Island
to round up prisoners that had got ashore from the
Emden. About 8 of us went and stopped close to
the beach an lit a big bonfire as a meeting point. I
got a couple that wanted a drink so badly they kept
heading for the sea water. I managed to scale a
coconut tree and throw a few nuts down and they
had a drink, I took them back to the meeting point.
Next day I went aboard the Emden as all our boats
were taking off the prisoners and wounded, at this
time the Sydney was only about half a mile off
shore. I made fast all the boats as they came
alongside and helped them up and cast off.
At one time having a bit of time on my
hands, I walked aft to where there was a big hole
amidships in the Emden, where there must have
been 40 or 50 bodies. As I was looking at this
gruesome sight I saw one of the bodies moving. I
went and told Captain von Mueller who sent a
couple of seamen with me. After signalling to the
Sydney for morphia and giving him an injection we
got him onto a stretcher and aboard the Sydney.