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World War 1 at Sea


NAVAL OPERATIONS, Volume 1, to the Battle of the Falklands, December 1914 (Part 2 of 2)

by Sir Julian S Corbett

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German U.9 which sank "Aboukir"."Cressy" and "Hogue" (Photo Ships, click to enlarge)

on to Naval Operations, Vol 2

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XVI. Operations on the Belgian Coast – Second Phase: The First Battle of Ypres

XVII. Dispatch of Submarines to the Baltic and the Loss of the Audacious

XVIII. The Gorleston Raid and Conclusion of the Belgian Coast Operations

XIX. Reactions of Admiral Von Spee's Movements on the Atlantic Cruiser System

XX. Opening of the Cameroons Expedition – August 15 To October 15

XXI. Operations of the German and Allied Squadrons in the East from the Japanese Declaration of War to the Middle of September

XXII. The Eastern Fleet – First Exploits of The Emden

XXIII. Admiral Von Spee Crosses The Pacific

XXIV. Reappearance of the Karlsruhe, Emden and Koenigsberg  

XXV. The Battle of Coronel, November 1

XXVI. Cruiser Redistribution after Coronel and the Turkish Intervention – Fate of the Koenigsberg, Emden and Karlsruhe – Fall of Tsingtau

XXVII. Securing the Command in Egypt and the East – The Persian Gulf Operations and Progress of The Cameroons Expedition

XXVIII. Operations Leading Up To The Battle of The Falklands

XXIX. The Battle of The Falklands, December 8


Appendix A – German High Seas Fleet

Appendix B – The Grand Fleet

Appendix C – The Mediterranean Fleet

Appendix D – (1) Loss of The " Cressys ", (2) Coronel


Index (not included – you can use Search)






Duala and the Cameroons Estuary - 276

German New Guinea, with Inset of Rabaul - 286

Cocos Islands; Action Between Sydney and Emden, November 9 - 384

Operations near Basra - 388

Operations near Kurnah - 392

Lower Mesopotamia to the Head of the Persian Gulf - 394

The Battle of The Falklands –

Position at 12.51 P.M. - 419

Position at 1.30 P.M. - 420

Positions in Main Action 4.17 P.M. To 4.24 P.M. - 423

Positions in Main Action 4.44 P.M. To 5.01 P.M. - 424
Action between Kent and Nuernberg, 5.35 P.M. to 6.36 P.M. - 430






(See Map 8 in case)


So striking was the success on the sea flank that it led at once to a new development which seemed to give promise of breaking down the western deadlock before it could solidify, and securing something like a decisive result.


In the evening of October 22 Admiral Hood went to Dunkirk to meet our military liaison officer with the Belgians, and also Admiral Favereau, who had just been appointed to command the French forces in the Channel. He found that the French XLIInd Division had arrived on the scene. The Belgians, who had now lost the Schoorbakke bridge-head, as well as the Tervaete bridge, and were clinging precariously to the neck of the river salient, seemed to expect the reinforcement there. But General Joffre had a larger plan which he hoped to carry out with the help of Admiral Hood, and the new troops went into Nieuport instead. The British squadron was now considerably strengthened; the old cruisers and sloops were coming in, and after the conference he reported to the Admiralty that he had ships enough. Winter was approaching, and he had to point out that a sudden northerly gale would probably make an end of the monitors and the gunboats. This risk, however, he considered as less than that to which the ships must be exposed from submarines, and that, therefore it should be taken if they were doing valuable work.


The plan now in hand certainly justified a high risk. The French division was intended, with the support of the squadron, to attempt a counter offensive up the coast in order, if possible, to recover Ostend and to deprive the Germans of the support of the sea on the right flank. The movement would be complementary to that of the main Allied Army. Since the 19th our First and Fourth Corps, in concert with the IIIrd Cavalry Division under General Byng, had been endeavouring to advance through Ypres and Thourout, with Bruges as their ultimate objective. Large German reinforcements checked the movement on the 21st,

Oct. 21-23, 1914



but as General Joffre expressed his intention of bringing up his Ninth Corps to Ypres, with further, troops to follow, it was hoped that the offensive could be resumed. (Sir John French's Despatch, November 20.) His intention was,"in conjunction with the Belgian troops, to drive the Germans east," and the effort was to begin on the 24th.


To this movement the proposed Franco-Belgian advance was apparently preparatory. It was to be arranged in the greatest secrecy, and at 6.30 a.m. on the 23rd Admiral Hood was informed that the French would be moving out northeast from Nieuport till 9 a.m., and after that time he would be required to support them to the northward. Before anything could be done, however, the Germans anticipated the movement by renewing their offensive against Lombartzyde, and the squadron had to devote its attention to checking them. All reports showed the fire which was quickly developed against the enemy's batteries and troop concentrations was very effective. With this assistance not only was the attack stopped, but in the afternoon the French were able to advance through Lombartzyde towards Westende. For a time it looked as if the push along the coast might well succeed, but at this juncture the fire of the ships was required elsewhere. The weight of the German attack was now falling on the Belgian lines between St, Georges and the Tervaete salient, and in this section the trenches were being enfiladed by heavy batteries which at last had been accurately located about Roodepoort Farm and Blockhuis. Unless they could be silenced this part of the front would soon become untenable, and the ships had to come to the rescue. Still, for all they could do it was not enough. Before long the position grew so serious that the Belgians had to inform the French Staff that nothing but the largest possible reinforcement from the XLIInd Division could save it. So urgent was the call that the new plan had to be suspended. Till the centre was made secure an advance up the coast was obviously impossible, and though the French had pushed right up to the outskirts of Westende they had to stand fast, and during the night a whole brigade was detached to strengthen the neck of the Tervaete salient.


Yet the idea of the coastal push was not given up, in spite of the difficulties. Amongst them was a serious dilemma which once more brought naval and military exigencies into conflict. The advance admittedly depended upon how much the squadron could do to assist, and the squadron could never do its utmost if it was in ever-present danger of submarine attack. So long as Ostend was open as a submarine base it would not


Oct. 23-24, 1914

be safe for an hour. On the other hand, if the advance was to achieve its ultimate object, Ostend must be left intact as a port of re-entry. It was a dilemma extremely difficult to solve, and for several days opinion fluctuated. The Admiralty, of course, were for destroying the port; but it was not till noon on October 23, before the French advance had begun, that Admiral Hood received authority from the Belgian Headquarters to bombard it. It was clearly high time. Both the sloop Wildfire and the destroyer Myrmidon had just been attacked by submarines. Both attacks failed, but the enemy escaped, and without more ado Admiral Hood proceeded to bombard the harbour.

At home the anxiety for the squadron increased, and steps were being taken to mitigate, as far as possible, the risk it was running. The Admiral was ordered to send all ships not actually required into Dunkirk; three trawlers with anti-submarine sweeps were sent across; Commodore Tyrwhitt was ordered to lend a division of destroyers; the Venerable and Irresistible, which were now in Dover at Admiral Hood's disposal, prepared towing charges for them so that they could deal with submarines diving in shoal water; and barges with nets were equipped for the protection of the larger ships when in action. But all this would be of little avail so long as Ostend was open, and at midnight the Admiral received orders from home to destroy the basins and railway station, and, indeed, not to spare any part of the town where the enemy was located. Blockships for closing the port had also been prepared at Sheerness, and he was to report on the prospects of running them in under the fire of the squadron and sinking them in the entrance.

But by this time the French forward movement had reached Westende; the advance looked quite hopeful, and half an hour later the Admiral had orders to hold his hand till they could hear from Sir John French what the actual prospects were. Already, however, he had been informed from Dunkirk that the offensive was to be resumed in the morning, and that the French had begun a supplementary line of advance, on the Plasschendaele Canal, with Bamburg Farm as its objective. During the morning of the 24th he devoted his attention to supporting the movement with the increased force at his command. He had lost the Severn - sent home to shift her 6" - guns but besides the other two monitors and the Bustard he now had, as gun-vessels, the old cruisers Brilliant and Sirius, the sloops Rinaldo and Wildfire, besides eight British and five French destroyers. All the morning he was searching the targets indicated, and the

Oct. 24-25


work went on till about 3 p.m., when word came to cease fire as the French, having won Bamburg Farm, were about to push on into Westende.

Meanwhile, a further conference between the Naval and Military Authorities had decided, in view of the success of the advance, to wait a day or two before wrecking the quays and docks at Ostend. The Admiral, however, was directed to bombard the railway station and its approaches at once, and also to deal with any activity he might detect in the harbour. But by the time the order reached him the weather had turned so thick that nothing effective could be done, and as an air reconnaissance from Kingsnorth had reported all quiet in the harbour, he was told to take no action unless local circumstances required it, but to confine himself to supporting the Allied left.

Such support was again essential, for during the day the general situation changed for the worse. The Allied attempt to advance had been met with violent counter-attacks in ever-increasing force. Nowhere could any progress be made, and in the centre the situation had become desperate. The German attacks on the Tervaete salient increased in force and fury till the neck was won, and in spite of a brilliant counter-attack by the French Brigade, the Belgians had to fall back to the line of the Beverdyk. This movement reacted on the St. George's sector, and there, too, they had to retire over the Noord Vaart (Canal du Nord) and abandon the line of the canal. In these circumstances the Belgians found it necessary to insist once more on the need of reinforcing their centre, and the French Staff saw nothing for it but to give them nearly the whole of the XLIInd Division. All present hope of the intended offensive had how to be given up, and while enough French troops were left to hold the posts they had occupied near Westende, the exhausted Belgians fell back to Nieuport.

On the 25th little could be done. The weather was still too thick for effective air reconnaissance; the heavy batteries that were annoying the new Belgian position were far inland, and the only one that could be located brought the French outposts at Westende and Bamburg Farm into the line of fire from the sea. Every effort the Admiral made to close in to a better position was met by guns newly posted amongst the dunes, and finally he drew off. To make matters worse, it came on to blow so hard in the night that the monitors, which had gone to Dunkirk to replenish ammunition, had to stay there, and all small craft were forced to take shelter.

Oct. 26-27, 1914

Fortunately, it mattered less than was to be expected; for the Germans seemed too much exhausted to make a serious attack on the new Beverdyk position. On the coast all was quiet. The French, however, thought well to withdraw their advanced posts, and by the morning of the 26th the whole of the Allied troops in the coastal section were behind the Yser, except for the bridge-head, a mile north of Nieuport, which was still held.


Of an offensive movement along the. coast there was now less hope than ever. The inaction of the Germans meant only strenuous preparation. At an early hour they developed an attack so violent and in such force all along the line that by 10.0 the Belgian situation was pronounced to be critical. The Admiralty at once decided to take further risk, and ordered the Venerable to join Admiral Hood. Hour after hour, as in all haste she obeyed the order, the attack continued with undiminished energy, and it was only too plain that at any moment the defence might break. As for the squadron, it was now developing its utmost energy. By two o'clock all the ships were in hot action, and still, the coast section held firm. But the enemy had not yet attained his maximum effort. Two hours, later it became evident he was, preparing a culminating blow from Lombartzyde, and an. urgent signal came from Headquarters for the squadron to concentrate the heaviest possible fire on the village. It was done, and with the aid of the storm of heavy shell the stubborn defence of the sea flank was undefeated. But in the centre, where the Germans' main effort was made, their artillery fire could not be adequately checked, and, unable to endure more, the reduced Belgian ranks were forced to fall back to the embankment of the Nieuport-Dixmude Railway.


Here was the last possible stand, but if it could only be held long enough it would be made impregnable. It required but the stopping of the railway culverts to flood the whole country in its front and so develop the ancient Low Country defence which had so often baffled the invader. The work was already in hand, but it would require some time to complete; the water would take two days to rise; and it was more than doubtful whether it was physically possible for the exhausted Belgians to hold out long enough. Much would depend on what the squadron could do - so much indee, that it seemed only too likely it would be attacked in force. With the two battleships at Sheerness, and with Commodore Tyrwhitt's force, every preparation was made to meet the expected interruption, and Admiral Hood's Squadron held its ground. Early next morning (the 27th), with his flag in the Venerable,

Oct. 27, 1914



he had anchored in position, and on his asking for targets, all available units of the inshore flotilla were directed to engage Westende, Slype and Lombartzyde. But by this time the enemy had so many guns concealed amongst the dunes that the ships could not approach within 4,000 yards of the shore, and their field of fire was greatly limited. Finally, indeed, in the afternoon the Germans got a heavy gun to

bear, and they had to retire altogether.


The Venerable, of course, was unaffected by this fire, but she, too, had had to break off. From 7 a.m. till past 8, lying at anchor with the net barges round her, she was firing, and, as prisoners afterwards reported, with terrible effect. But at 8.15 a.m. one of her destroyer guard reported a submarine, and Admiral Hood decided to weigh and send the Venerable into Dunkirk. In doing so he reported he could do all that was wanted with his less valuable units. The German attack had, in fact, broken down; everywhere it was displaying less energy than on the previous days, and by noon the Admiral received a message from Headquarters to say that his fire had been splendid, and suggesting that he should economise ammunition. (A letter from a German N.C.O, prisoner to his wife at this time stated that German troops had been obliged "to lead the life of cave-dwellers owing to the terrible artillery fire from the fleet." Their losses were very heavy.) So with a few parting shots at the more distant batteries, the Venerable went in to Dunkirk, and the Admiral informed the Admiralty he did not want her any longer. He felt that, given a steady flow of ammunition, he could go on doing what he had done, definitely with the smaller ships, and as yet his casualties were no more than a score of wounded. But the Venerable was not recalled, and remained on the spot in case of need.

It was now clear that the military operations which Admiral Hood would have to support must continue to be of a purely defensive nature. It was no longer a question of recovering Ostend and pushing the enemy away from the sea, The incessant massing of German troops on the Yser front was evidence that it was no mere counter attack on which they were bent to stop the intended advance of the Allies. The growing concentration left no room to doubt that here they were developing their main offensive, and that what we had to face was a determined attempt to break through to Calais. From the sea to the French frontier the first battle of Ypres was raging; the Allies were definitely on the defensive, and the maintenance of the left flank was the vital concern of the fleet.


Oct. 27-28, 1914


The main anxiety was the shortness of ammunition. Already the miscalculation common to all the belligerents, which was destined to prove the dominant note of the first part of the war in all theatres, was making itself felt. In the evening of October 27 Admiral Hood was urged from home to husband his supply and confine himself to deliberate fire. But with this suggestion he felt unable to comply. During the day the work of closing the railway culverts had been completed, and at flood tide the Nieuport sluices had been opened. But till the water rose to its full height the situation would still be critical. It was a matter of holding on for the next forty-eight hours, and he pointed out that if he was kept to deliberate fire he could not give the indispensable assistance that the Belgians required. The answer was convincing, and he was promptly given full discretion "to obtain the best results." So by the time the German attacks began on the 28th he had moved out of Dunkirk, and, with the Venerable, the three monitors and the Bustard, was in action again - not only against the old targets between Westende and Lombartzyde, but presently as far inland as St. Pierre Chapelle, where the morning air reconnaissance had located a heavy battery and a group of four artillery positions.

So effective had been the support all through that the Germans now seemed to regard the squadron as the determining factor in this part of the great battle. From now onward it became the chief target of their heavy batteries, and it began to suffer more than it had done since the beginning of the operations.

The most serious injury was to the Falcon (right - Photo Ships). With another destroyer, the Syren, she was engaged on the patrol line in the N.E. Channel off Westende on the look out for submarines, when about 12.80 p.m. she came under a. heavy and well-directed fire from the shore. She at once increased speed and opened fire with lyddite. For an hour and a half she gallantly held her position, till at 2 p.m. a shell hit her on the muzzle of the port foremost 6-pdr and burst. The gun's crew was closed up at the time, and extra hands were assisting with the ammunition. The result was that her Commander, Lieutenant H. O. Wauton, was instantly killed, together with seven men, and the gunner and fifteen men were wounded, ten of them seriously. She was completely out of action and in a very dangerous position, but Acting Sub-Lieutenant C. J. H. du Boulay succeeded in bringing her into Dunkirk, a service for which he, together with Mr. Ernest Smith, the gunner, was highly commended.

With the slower ships of the main body of the squadron, serious injury was only avoided by continual alterations of course; but, as it was, the Brilliant had one man killed and

Oct. 29-30


several wounded, the Rinaldo had eight wounded, and the Wildfire was so badly hit on the water line that she had to be sent home for repairs.

Under these conditions of enforced movement and constant turns, indirect fire was extremely difficult. Moreover, during the afternoon the work was again interrupted by the appearance of a submarine. All destroyers were sent in chase, and the Venerable (right - Photo Ships) took the ground on an ill-charted sandbank. Fortunately she was out of range, and as the tide rose she was got off with the assistance of the Brilliant without injury. Still, the enemy could make no progress ashore, and the Belgian bulletin for the day announced that the German fire had slackened, being subdued by the fleet guns. The truth was that it was to the subduing of the enemy's fire upon the Belgian position that Admiral Hood had been devoting nearly all his attention, with little regard to defending his squadron. The battle of Ypres was still undecided; the Germans were persisting with the utmost determination in their attempt to win through to Calais, and the Admiral's one idea was to do all in his power to prevent them, and to maintain the volume of fire inland which the Belgian Headquarters asked for. All this he explained to the Admiralty, and for reward he had authority "to go ahead " and an assurance that he had shown the enemy there was one flank they could not turn.

Events went to prove that this was probably a not too sanguine estimate of the effect that had been produced. Although the squadron remained on the coast for some time longer there was no serious call upon it. The spread of the inundations quickly rendered the Belgian position secure upon the coast, and the German effort on the Belgian front was mainly directed against Ramscappelle, the key of the railway position. Here, by means of a violent bomb attack, they succeeded in making a lodgment on the embankment, whence they began to push forward to the village. But at this point the ships could give some assistance by firing on the enemy's batteries on the line St. Georges-Schoorbakke, and on October 30 a brilliant Franco-Belgian counter-attack drove the enemy back from the railway and re-established the position.


Besides this long-range work, the usual bombardment of Westende Bains was kept up, and here, about 11 a.m., the Vestal (right - Photo Ships) was hit in the forecastle by the same battery that had disabled the Falcon, although the spot had been three times thoroughly shelled. On this day Admiral Hood, in honour

 Oct. 29-Nov. 3, 1914


of the late addition to his command, flew his flag in the French destroyer Intrepide, but it was not for long. In the early afternoon it was known that the German attack had failed, and as all signs of activity died away the ships were rested.


During this period the position of the squadron had been getting every day more precarious, particularly from submarines, while, owing to the guns the Germans had now placed all along the coast, it was increasingly difficult for the vessels to get any result from then fire. Only by constantly keeping on the move at high speed could heavy casualties be avoided. Incessant vigilance had hitherto availed to foil the enemy's submarine attacks. Early, in the morning of the 29th one had been reported off La Panne, where the Venerable was then anchored, but no attack was made. Similar reports continued, and, on the last day of the month some anxiety was felt for the seaplane-carrier Hermes, which, in the evening of October 30, had arrived at Dunkirk from Portsmouth with seaplanes. Early next morning she sailed for Dover, and at 9.30 a signal was made for her to turn back, but ten minutes afterwards the destroyer Liberty reported she had, been torpedoed and sunk eight miles westnorth-west of Calais. Nearly all her crew were saved, but the incident raised the question whether the risk the ships were running was worth any further good they could do. The German batteries were now so well concealed that it was difficult to obtain any result from ship fire. The Venerable was therefore ordered to return, and the Revenge, an old battleship on the Sale List, which had been hastily prepared at Portsmouth for the service was told to stand fast.


With this order the operations practically came to an end. For the next two days the struggle for Ramscappelle continued, but the railway embankment was firmly, held, and on November 2 the Germans, as the water increased upon them, abandoned the left bank, of the Yser, and as they fell back, leaving behind them guns, ammunition and wounded, the Allies began, to advance on the roads through the flooded district. With this forward movement all pressure by the enemy on the sea flank ceased and as it was not likely to recur for the present, Admiral Hood was directed to rest his force, still keeping touch with the military headquarters, and ready to act at the shortest notice. But for him the rest was very short. Next day (November 3) came news that a serious attempt seemed intended by the enemy in the direction of the Straits, and leaving his gun-vessels under the Vestal, he hastened across with all his destroyers to resume his functions as Admiral of the Dover Patrol.









Since October 17 when the Undaunted and her consorts had wiped out the four German destroyers there had been no attempt in force to interrupt the operations on the Belgian coast. The omission is the more remarkable, since the Grand Fleet for the time was not in a position to deal promptly with a sortie of the High Seas Fleet to the southward. During the whole continuance of the operations Admiral Jellicoe had his battle fleet upon the west coast of Scotland, with one or two squadrons supporting his new cruiser lines, while the others rested. The German submarines were still active. On October 18 two of them were reported in the Minch, and were said to have fuelled from a tanker at Stornoway. An active destroyer search failed to find them, but they, on the other hand, appear not to have succeeded in locating the Fleet.


Still, as there were signs that information was leaking out, further steps were deemed necessary to ensure secrecy, and the Admiralty now took over the censorship of all the north and west coast of Scotland and the north coast of Ireland. To make it effective they even proposed to declare the whole of Scotland north of the Caledonian Canal, including Inverness and the Islands, a prohibited area, but this extreme measure was as yet deemed unnecessary, and it was not adopted till much later in the war. As an alternative the Commander-in-Chief proposed a maritime prohibited area to extend from Buchan Ness in Aberdeenshire, round the Shetlands and Hebrides to Islay. This, he pointed out, would close the Minch, the Pentland Firth and Fair Island Passage, and greatly assist the operations not only against submarine tenders but also against contraband trade. At the same time the proposals he had made for establishing trawler patrols at various focal points on the north coasts were sanctioned, and the new patrol areas were filled up as fast as the vessels came forward.


But this system would not entirely cover the ground. The most northerly routes would still be open, and our


Oct. 11-20, 1914



Minister at Copenhagen was reporting that a good deal of contraband was reaching Scandinavia for Germany round the north of the Faeroes, and then down Norwegian waters. It was to stop this route that Admiral de Chair's Northern Patrol had been established, but it had continually to be drawn upon for other work owing to Admiral Jellicoe never having had the 6th Cruiser Squadron. Of this squadron he still had only the Drake, and she, with the merchant cruiser Mantua, was away on a special mission to Archangel. He therefore asked for more armed merchant cruisers, a type of ship whose coal endurance rendered them specially fit for the purpose. They were promised him, and till they could arrive a division of Admiral de Chair's 10th Squadron was sent up to fill the gap, south of the Faeroes, while the merchant cruiser Alsatian cruised to the north of them. They found, however, but little traffic. During the whole month of October the Northern Patrol in its various positions examined less than fifty ships, nearly all Scandinavian, and only two, both Norwegians, were detained. To the westward the most notable capture was the S.S. Oscar II, which was sent in by the battleship Hibernia. She proved to have on board the Austrian Ambassador to Japan and his Staff on their way to Rome from Tokio. He, of course, warmly protested against the detention, and the ship was speedily released.


For the battle cruisers there was little rest. On October 20 the Admiralty had information, believed to be trustworthy, that certain German cruisers, with destroyers and submarines, which had been at Danzig had left for the North Sea, and Admiral Beatty had to cut short his harbour time. With the 1st Battle Cruisers and 1st Light Cruisers he was sent away at high speed to make a sweep from Fair Island to the Skagerrak in concert with the 4th Destroyer Flotilla from Cromarty. It was, however, quite probable that the object of the enemy's movement did not lie in the North Sea at all. Amongst other matters discussed during the recent conference at Loch Ewe was the possibility of sending submarines into the Baltic to attack the High Seas Fleet. It was heard of constantly exercising between the island of Bornholm and the southern entrance of the Sound, and the opportunity was too tempting to be resisted. The Commander-in-Chief was specially anxious for the attempt to be made, and at his instigation inquiries were set on foot to ascertain whether the Sound was mined. The upshot of them was that it was probably free, and on October 11 Commodore Keyes received instructions to carry out the operation. Three units were to be sent, and those selected were E 1 (Lieut.-Commander N. F.


Oct. 17-22, 1914



Laurence), E 9 (Lieut.-Commander M. K. Horton), and E 11 (Lieut.-Commander Martin E. Nasmith). Their instructions were to pass through the Sound at night so as to avoid the cruiser and flotilla patrol which the Germans were known to maintain between Rugen and the Swedish coast. They would then endeavour to attack the High Seas Fleet, and when their fuel was expended they were to go to Libau and work from there till further orders. That Libau had been dismantled and abandoned as a naval port, and that it was blockaded by a large German minefield, appears to have been unknown to our Staff.


Submarine E1 passed in safely during the night of October 17, and next morning Lieut.-Commander Laurence found himself within 500 yards of one of the patrol cruisers, which he judged to be the Furst Bismarck. Diving at once to attack, he fired two torpedoes at an interval of a minute. The first ran under the ship without exploding, and the second just missed her ahead as she put her helm hard over to avoid it. Within the next two hours two other cruisers were sighted, but he could not approach either near enough to attack. Nothing could be seen of the Fleet, and next day he went to lie in wait off Bornholm. Meanwhile Lieut.-Commander Horton had also passed in, but arriving too late to get through as E 1 had done before daybreak, and knowing that he must be observed by the stream of traffic that was passing in both directions, he had lain on the bottom all the 18th. At dark he carried on, and after several close encounters with destroyers got clear past the patrol line on the 20th.


Lieut.-Commander Laurence was then making a cast into Danzig Bay, where, having dived right up to the entrance of Neufahrwasser, he found three cruisers in the basin, and as it was impossible to get at them he went on to Libau. Outside he was met by a Russian officer who piloted him in, and then for the first time he learnt that the port and dockyard had been destroyed, and that he had gone right through the German minefield. Next day (October 22) E 9 also arrived in equal ignorance of the risk she had run, but also unscathed, and there they awaited their missing consort. But E 11 had been less fortunate. Being delayed by defects, it was not till the 20th she was able to attempt the passage of the Sound, and quickly she found she was being followed. Two attempts were made to ram her, and as it was impossible to dive in the shoal water ahead she was forced to return. Outside the Sound she sighted a submarine, which she took to be U 3, and tried to torpedo it. It eventually proved to be a Danish boat. As her shots missed no harm was done,

Oct. 19-30, 1914



but the incident went still further to reveal her whereabouts, and sure enough next afternoon she was located by a seaplane as she was re-charging her batteries for another attempt to pass, and was hunted all night by destroyers. Next day she tried again, but only with the same result, and on the 22nd she decided to return to her base and wait for the hue and cry to die down.


The same day the other two boats were advised by Admiral von Essen, the Russian Commander-in-Chief, to seek safety at Lapvik, an anchorage he was using near Hango, just within the Gulf of Finland. Still, they decided to wait a little longer for their consort, till two days later an order came from our Ambassador for them to go north. Even so they were not content to proceed direct without another try in the Gulf of Danzig. Three days were spent there and nothing seen but a destroyer, at which E 1 fired a torpedo at 500 yards and again missed. This was on the 28th, and being unable to stay out longer they next day moved north. As a last chance they went by the German cruiser track west of Gothland, but luck was still against them. Nothing was seen, and on the 30th they put into Lapvik, where they were definitely placed under Admiral von Essen's orders. As an assistance to the Russians in disputing the command of the Baltic, their presence was little more than a token of good-will. But it was a beginning which the enemy could not permit to develop, and it is quite possible, therefore, that the German movements which had been reported to Admiral Jellicoe were designed to close the Sound and were not intended for offensive action outside. In any case the sweep of the Grand Fleet cruisers, as usual, drew blank, and by October 25 Admiral Beatty's battle cruisers were back at Cromarty and the light cruisers at Scapa, where some further anti-submarine defences had been improvised from local resources.


The 2nd Battle Cruiser Squadron had also been busy. An air raid on the Cuxhaven Zeppelin sheds was on foot under Commodore Tyrwhitt, and on October 18 the Invincible and Inflexible, with a division of destroyers, were ordered down to the Bight to support the operation. The attempt was made on the 25th, but the weather turned against it. A deluge of rain prevented the seaplanes rising from the water, and the enterprise had to be abandoned.


Meantime, the enemy's submarine activity seemed to have died away. Possibly it had been foiled by the restless work of our patrols, but in any case the submarines had disappeared, and, so far as was known, without having succeeded


Oct. 26-27, 1914



in locating any of the new anchorages or the new cruiser areas. So the Grand Fleet was left in peace. It was not till October 26 that its comparative quiet was disturbed, and then it, was from another cause. On that day, it will be recalled, certain dispositions were made in the Southern Area to meet an attack which it was believed the Germans were intending to make on Admiral Hood in order to stop his galling interference on the Yser. But these dispositions were only part of the action taken. During the afternoon news that the German fleet was at Brunsbuttel reached Admiral Jellicoe, who, with the bulk of the Grand Fleet, was resting in Lough Swilly, and he at once took steps to concentrate his Fleet in its previous position. All the battle cruisers were to assemble at Cromarty, and the pre-Dreadnought battleships, which were engaged in supporting the cruisers, were to coal at Scapa. The 2nd Battle Squadron had just put out from the Mull anchorage for firing practice and was making for a rendezvous about thirty miles north-by-west of Tory Island (Lat. 55 degrees 45'. N., Long. 8 degrees 30' W) where the Liverpool was to meet them with the targets. Since this movement would not prejudice a rapid concentration should it be necessary, it was not cancelled. But the practice was destined never to be carried out; for just when the Grand Fleet seemed most secure, it suffered its first heavy loss. (See Maps 9 and 10 in case)


The time for reaching the rendezvous.was 5 a.m. on the 27th. Four hours later the squadron was about twenty miles N. 1/4 E. from Tory Island, steaming in line ahead, when the Audacious (Captain Dampier), being third in the line and just turning, struck something as she swung, and a violent explosion under her port side aft brought her to a standstill. Whether it was a mine or a torpedo no one could tell. A minefield in those waters was hardly to be expected. True, it was on the track between the Clyde and the West, and also on that from Quebec to Liverpool, which the Canadian Convoy had been originally expected to take, but the convoy had arrived nearly a fortnight before. Though there had been no recent reports of submarines in the vicinity, a submarine seemed the most likely conjecture, and in obedience to the recent general order the rest of the squadron cleared away and called up assistance for the damaged ship.


At first it was thought she was sinking and unable to steam. The Liverpool, therefore, stood by, moving round her at high speed, and the tugs that had brought the targets closed in. For a while there was great anxiety, for a fairly heavy sea was running, which added seriously to the danger as the ship


Oct. 27, 1914



began to settle by the stern. But presently the settling ceased, and it was found she could proceed slowly under her own steam. Meanwhile all the fleet destroyers, and every other available vessel were hurrying out from Lough Swilly, but nothing could be done to help her till, some four hours after she had been struck, the White Star liner Olympic appeared in answer to the S.O.S. call and offered to take her in tow. It was dangerous work. As no second attack had been, made it seemed probable it was a case of a minefield, and this was now confirmed by a signal that the S.S. Manchester Commerce had been blown up by a mine in the same waters the previous afternoon. (The information came from the Bunecrana Naval Centre in Lough Swilly. It originated from the coastguard station at Mulroy. The explanation of the delay was that on mobilisation all coastguard stations in this vicinity had been closed except for one chief officer at Mulroy, who was not in telegraphic communication with Buncrana.)


Still, the Olympic would not hold back, and to see her clear the Liverpool boldly steamed ahead of her as she closed the Audacious. But by this time the stricken battleship was so badly down by the stern that in the sea that was running she was almost unmanageable. Even when the tow-line was passed it parted. Then the Fleet collier Thornhill, who had just come up, tried her hand, but only with the same result, and all further efforts were seen to be useless. She was still making headway, and up till 4.0 p.m., seven hours after she was struck, there was so much hope of saving her that the Commander-in-Chief telegraphed to the Admiralty asking that an officer of the Construction Department might be sent in order to report on patching her up. At the same time he submitted that every effort should be made to prevent the incident being published.


Being now sure the damage was due to a mine, he also ordered the Exmouth to proceed to the struggling ship and make another attempt to take her in tow. But by the time she arrived on the scene all hope was gone. The stern of the Audacious was awash, and all her crew had been taken off to the Olympic. By extraordinary exertions and a fine display of seamanship she had been brought through the heavy sea fifteen miles from where she was struck. But there it ended. At 9.0 p.m., half-way to safety and after a twelve hours struggle, she suddenly blew up with great violence and went down.


Thus Admiral Jellicoe, having preserved his capital ships intact for the three most critical months of the war, cruising boldly in the most dangerous waters, and in spite of every German attempt to cripple him, now lost one of his finest


Oct 27, 1914



ships by a stroke of sheer ill luck. Whatever the enemy's object in laying the minefield off Tory Island, it is scarcely credible that he could have had information of the presence of the Grand Fleet in those waters in time to do it; it is even less credible that, had he intended it for the Grand Fleet, he would have laid it to the westward of Lough Swilly. The Germans deserved the success even less than Admiral Jellicoe the calamity, but calamity it was, and the question of suppressing it had to be faced.


In announcing the loss the Commander-in-Chief had again urged that its publication should be withheld. Considering what the juncture was, the request was natural enough. The operations on the Belgian coast were at their crisis. It was on this day the Nieuport sluices were opened; the Germans' attempt to reach Calais was reaching its highest intensity; the next forty-eight hours would decide the issue, and now if ever was the time for the German Fleet to strike a blow at Admiral Hood. At the Admiralty it was recognised at once that, owing to the Olympic having been on the scene, the loss could not be concealed for more than a week or ten days, but that would overtide the crisis. For concealment there was the highly successful precedent of the Yashima in the Russo-Japanese War. Still, concealment of loss was so contrary to all British tradition and sentiment that the Admiralty would not decide without reference to the Cabinet. It was a question, after all, of high policy for the Government to decide.


When, indeed, it came to the point of a Cabinet decision it was not only or even mainly a question of the naval considerations on which Admiral Jellicoe had based his request. The Foreign Office, at the moment, was faced with what was to prove, and was even then recognised to be, one of the momentous crises of the war, and the announcement of the startling German success against the British Fleet might well turn the swaying scales in their favour. At Constantinople, the struggle between the representatives of the Allies and those of the Central Powers had reached its height. The Germans were clearly doing everything in their power to force Turkey into the war; the Goeben and their Military Mission were gradually dominating the situation and our Ambassador was reporting that the Turks could not be got to believe in any successes except those of the Germans. The tension could not last much longer, and any additional weight might snap the slender hold which the Entente Powers still maintained. Sir Louis Mallet informed the Foreign Office a day or two later that it was events in the main theatre

Oct. 28, 1914



that would in all probability decide the Turks one way or the other. The situation, he said, was in the last degree critical, as German and Austrian influence was clearly at its maximum. In these circumstances there was obviously every reason to conceal the loss as long as possible, and on October 28 Admiral Jellicoe was informed that, in view of the military and Turkish situation, the loss of the Audacious was not to be made public for the present, and that he was to use every endeavour to keep it secret locally.


So the departure from the time-honoured British practice, which proved so distasteful to public opinion, was sanctioned for high reasons of State. That the Turkish crisis, at least, was sharp enough to justify exceptional measures was soon made only too clear; for two days later, although till the last moment the Grand Vizier, and, indeed, the majority of the Turkish Ministers, were determined to maintain neutrality, their hand was forced, as must be related in its place, by the old Prussian device of a false telegram.


As for the minefield that had done the damage, why, when, and how it had been laid remained a mystery for some time. It was not till early in the New Year that it was ascertained the mischief had been done by the Berlin, a large Nord-deutscher liner of 17,000 tons, that had been armed as a cruiser and equipped with mine-laying gear during August. She had originally started on her mission from Wilhelmshaven at the end of September, but on nearing the Naze she encountered some British warships which were cruising there on the look-out for two of our submarines returning from a reconnaissance in the Skagerrak. (This reconnaissance was preliminary to passing our " E " boats into the Baltic The Drake, Nottingham and Falmouth, with two destroyers met E 5 on the 27th. The Nottingham was ordered to escort her in while the other cruisers continued to look for E 1.)


Not venturing to proceed, she ran back to port, and did not start again till October 14. This time she was said to be mothering two submarines. If this was so she could not have done an average of more than nine knots, and, so hampered, it was scarcely to be believed that she could escape the net which at this time Admiral Jellicoe had spread in her path. Nothing, indeed, is more impressive of the difficulties of his task than the incredible luck that attended her desperate adventure. (Our information as to the Berlin's cruise comes from a source not entirely trustworthy. The following account of her movements, therefore, can only be taken for what it is worth.) His cruisers had just completed the sweep in force down to the Dogger Bank, which had been part of his operations for covering the approach of the Canadian Convoy, and most of the


Oct. 15-16



squadrons were still in the regular patrol areas between Scotland and Norway, while north of them squadrons of battleships were patrolling in place of the 10th Cruiser Squadron, which to complete the disposition had been called down from the Northern Patrol. Its area was the southernmost - midway between Peterhead and the Naze. Above them was the 2nd Cruiser Squadron patrolling up and down the coast of Norway, with the 1st Light Cruiser Squadron on a parallel line of patrol to the westward. Further north still was the 1st Battle Cruiser Squadron (Lion, Queen Mary, New Zealand) in support.


The day after the Berlin started, it will be recalled, the disposition had been disturbed by the loss of the Hawke, and the remainder of the 10th Squadron had been ordered to move north, but the 2nd Squadron continued their patrol. Their time, however, was nearly up, and next morning (the 16th) at 5.30 they started westward to return to Scapa, straight across the path of the Berlin, but she passed twenty miles ahead of them and carried on northwards. Her course was now converging with that of the light cruisers, which at 6 a.m. had turned northwards, and ahead of her were the battle cruisers steering diagonally towards her path to pass round the north of the Shetlands. How she failed to run into them is not clear. At 8 a.m. she must have been very close, but they crossed without sight of each other. Still, the light cruisers were coming up on their converging course, but their time, too, was up, and at 1.0 p.m, when they had got within thirty miles of her, they, too, turned away for Scapa.


Though she was now clear of the first cordon, she was running into the second. About ten miles north of her was the 3rd Battle Squadron coming in from the Utvoer Patrol Line (off the Sogne Fjord), and about to cross her course on its way to Scapa. Had she been going a knot or two faster they must have met. As it was, the battleships seem to have passed barely ten miles ahead of her, and the 3rd Cruiser Squadron, which was on its way to relieve them, was still some fifty miles away to the south-westward.


Still, in spite of her luck, danger thickened. At 6 p.m., when she was far enough north to clear the Shetlands and Faeroes, she altered to the north-westwards direct for the Hafnarnaes Light in Iceland, clearly unaware that this course would take her through another patrol area which at the moment was occupied in great strength. It extended north and north-east of Muckle Flugga, the northern point of the Shetlands. Here were spread four "Duncans" of the 3rd Battle Squadron; to seaward of them were the Audacious


Oct. 17-21, 1914



and her consorts of the 2nd Battle Squadron, with four of the armed merchant cruisers, which had been ordered to join them for duty as boarding ships. As the Berlin was altering course for Iceland, the squadron was coming down south-eastward on an opposite but converging course. It was a splendid chance for the Berlin's submarines if any were with her as well as for our ships, but apparently the squadron about seven o'clock passed close ahead of the raider, and so without seeing or being seen she ran clean through the thronged area.


She now had a clear run for Iceland, and it would seem she made the Hafnarnaes Light in the evening of October 18, and then, turning south-west along the Iceland, coast till she made the Ingolf shofdi Light, set her course in the morning of the 19th for a rendezvous south of the Stanton Banks, which lie just south of the Hebrides. Then the strange game of hide-and-seek began again. We have seen how in consequence of the loss of the Hawke the whole patrol system had been shifted to the westward, and the waters on that side were as thronged as the others had been. Where her track passed north-east of Rockall Bank the 1st Battle Squadron was patrolling, and between it and the Hebrides was the Iron Duke with the 4th Battle Squadron. As the Berlin approached the new patrol areas, the 1st Squadron was steering in two divisions from the eastward towards her track. At 6 p.m. on October 20 they were close to it, and as darkness fell they turned to the northward and steamed alongside it for two hours. During this period the Berlin must have passed the 2nd Division, which was to the northward, quite close on the opposite course, and must have been within ten miles of the 1st when, according to programme, the squadron turned back to the eastward and let her by.


After this hairbreadth escape she carried on for her rendezvous south of the Stanton Banks, where she, arrived about nightfall on the 2lst, and is said to have left her two submarines. She then held away for the North Channel, where it would seem she intended to lay her first minefield. Once more the course was not clear. The 2nd Cruiser Squadron, haying come down to coal at Lough Swilly, was steaming north again on a converging course to take up a patrol station off the Flannan Islands. But for the second time the luck was against them, and about 8 p.m. she passed ahead of the squadron, at a distance that cannot have exceeded fourteen miles. It can scarcely be that wireless indications had not revealed to her the hornet's nest in which she was moving, and it would seem she


Oct. 21-23, 1914



was getting very nervous; for on reaching the Mull of Cantyre some lights ashore, which she took for alarm signals, scared her off, and without having laid a single mine - at least none were found - she hurried away along the north coast of Ireland. It would look as though her intention was to proceed at once off Tory Island, a course which would have taken her a second time straight across the track of the Iron Duke and the 1st and 4th Battle Squadrons. They were just then approaching Lough Swilly from the northward, disposed abeam and covering a wide stretch of sea. Whether she heard them or was nervous about passing Lough Swilly, she turned northward out of their path, when just past Inishtrahull, and ran back for her rendezvous. Even so she only escaped by the skin of her teeth. At 6.0 a.m. she must have passed within eight miles or so of the Iron Duke, and then, was running almost into the arms of the 4th Squadron cruiser, the Blonde, which was coming down for Lough Swilly independently, but neither saw the other, though about daybreak they appear to have passed within five miles of each other.


She thus miraculously reached the rendezvous at 10 a.m., while the Albemarle and Exmouth, who were patrolling northeast and south-west below the Hebrides, were making straight for it. But at 11.0, when within about a dozen miles of her, they turned back north-east. During the afternoon they were back again, actually passing the rendezvous close to the Westward, but without sighting the Berlin. At nightfall, when their backs were turned again, she made a fresh start. This time there was nothing near her, and in the midnight hours she laid the fatal minefield off Tory Island undisturbed. Then, after running down to Boylagh Bay - for what purpose is unknown – she, next morning (the 23rd) made a wide sweep to the westward, and went back once more to the rendezvous.


There about 6 p.m., it is said, she picked up her submarines and took them on to a point south of the Flannan Islands, where she was to leave stores for them. The movement brought her again into danger. By this time the 2nd Cruiser Squadron had taken up its patrol between Sulisker and St. Kilda, and as about nightfall the Berlin reached her destination, they were passing down sixteen miles to the westward. Still, she was not free. At 9.30, having reached St. Kilda, they turned back, and two hours later it is said the Berlin, having deposited the stores, parted company with the submarines (quite apart from the doubt whether she had submarines with her, no trace was ever found of her alleged attempt to establish a base for them at the Flannan Islands) and steamed away for Iceland directly across their course.


Oct. 27-31, 1914


So for tbe fourth time they were right upon her, but by a last stroke of luck she passed about thirty miles ahead of them and got clear away. By the evening of October 27 she made the coast of Iceland, and there, somewhere about Wester Horn, while the wholly unexpected victim of her minefield was sinking, she is alleged to have deposited more submarine stores. Thence she ran back for home, but in order to escape our cruisers was forced to seek safety in Trondhjem. She put into the port secretly in the morning of November 16, pleading damaged engines. The pretext was transparently false, and in spite of all protest both she and her crew were promptly interned by the Norwegian Government.


Of what she had done and the fairy tale chances by which she had achieved the impossible nothing was, of course, known at the time, but precautions were at once taken to warn merchant ships, to ascertain the extent of the minefield and to sweep channels through it. No further loss occurred, nor did the Commander-in-Chief shift his ground. He did not, however, remain with the Fleet, for on October 30, as our ultimatum to Turkey was being dispatched, he was invited to London to confer witb the Admiralty, and on the last day of October he said good-bye to the Fleet for the first time since he had hoisted his flag, Vice-Admiral Sir George Warrender was left in command and as the Commander-in-Chief departed tbe telegram for war with Turkey came in.


It was a new Board he met. In view of the rising agitation in the Press against every one German or of German descent, Prince Louis of Battenberg thought it right to offer his resignation as First Sea Lord. On October 29 he had signalled his farewell to the Fleet, and Lord Fisher resumed the office which he had vacated four years before. The immediate result was one of those drastic measures which the country had come to connect with his personality. The loss of the Audacious in one of the great highways of the Atlantic trade naturally forced to the front tbe necessity of dealing firmly with the increasing disregard with which Germany was treating the accepted limitations of naval warfare. Regardless alike of civilian and neutral life, she was sowing mines broadcast and surreptitiously in the highways of the world - and sowing them, as was then believed, under neutral flags. Even without this last aggravation, so ruthless a stretch of legitimate belligerent action could not be met within the old canons of war; that was clear. Admiral Jellicoe, as we have seen, in his proposal for a prohibited area had already indicated the lines on which a new departure


Nov 2-5, 1914



should proceed, and under the stress of the recent outrage the new Board received sanction for something even stronger than he had suggested. But the measure that was to be adopted was at least not carried out surreptitiously or without due notice. On November 2 the decision was announced to the world in the following declaration: -

"During the last week the Germans have scattered mines indiscriminately in the open sea on the main trade route from America to Liverpool via the north of Ireland. Peaceful merchant ships have already been blown up with loss of life by this agency. The White Star liner Olympic escaped disaster by pure good luck. But for the warnings given by British cruisers, other British and neutral merchant and passenger vessels would have been destroyed. These mines cannot have been laid by any German ship of war. They have been laid by some merchant vessel flying a neutral flag which has come along the trade route as if for the purpose of peaceful commerce and, while profiting to the full by the immunity enjoyed by neutral merchant ships, has wantonly and recklessly endangered the lives of all who travel on the sea, regardless of whether they are friend or foe, civilian or military in character.


"Minelaying under a neutral flag and reconnaissance conducted by trawlers, hospital ships and neutral vessels are the ordinary features of German naval warfare. In these circumstances, having regard to the great interests entrusted to the British Navy, to the safety of peaceful commerce on tbe high seas, and to the maintenance within the limits of International Law of trade between neutral countries, the Admiralty feel it necessary to adopt exceptional measures appropriate to the novel conditions under which this war is being waged.


"They therefore give notice that the whole of the North Sea must be considered a military area. Within this area merchant shipping of all kinds, traders of all countries, fishing craft, and all other vessels will be exposed to the gravest dangers from mines which it has been necessary to lay, and from warships searching vigilantly by night and day for suspicious craft. All merchant and fishing vessels of every description are hereby warned of the dangers they encounter by entering this area except in strict accordance with Admiralty directions. Every effort will be made to convey this warning to neutral countries and to vessels on the sea, but from November 5 onwards the Admiralty announce that all ships passing a line drawn from the northern point

Nov. 2-5, 1914

of the Hebrides through the Faeroe Islands to Iceland do so at their own peril.


"Ships of all countries wishing to trade to and from Norway, the Baltic, Denmark and Holland are advised to come, if inward, bound, by the English Channel and the Strait of Dover. There they will be given sailing directions which will pass them safely, so far as Great Britain is concerned, up the east coast of England to Farn Island, whence a safe route will, if possible, be given to Lindesnaes Lighthouse. From this point they should turn north or south according, to their destination, keeping as near the coast as possible. The converse applies to vessels outward bound. By strict adherence to these routes the commerce of all countries will be able to reach its destination in safety, so far as Great Britain is concerned, but any straying, even for a few miles from the course thus indicated, may be followed by fatal consequences."

This, then, was the answer to the German provocation; but no sooner was it given than the enemy took another step in his rake's progress. The theatre of his offence was this time in the Southern area. It was the news of it that had brought Admiral Hood so suddenly back to Dover, and as suddenly it caused Admiral Jellicoe to hasten back to the Fleet.









The reports that had been coming in that the enemy seemed to be contemplating some activity in the North Sea had not ceased. They were still quite vague, and the concentration of the Grand Fleet, for which the Commander-in-Chief had been preparing when the Audacious was lost, had gone no further. The probabilities pointed to action, in the Southern Area, and on November 2, while Admiral Jellicoe was still absent from the Fleet, a new disposition was made. About noon on that day the 3rd Battle Squadron (that is, the "King Edwards" and the "Duncans") were ordered to come south and join Admiral Burney's flag at Portland. The squadron, though originally intended - at least in part - for the Channel, had been supplying the Grand Fleet's shortness in cruisers, and had usually been employed in acting with them for exercising command of the North Sea approaches. They were being so employed at the moment and were widely spread; but Admiral Bradford, who commanded the squadron, proceeded to concentrate, and then steamed south.


In the Southern Area Commodore Tyrwhitt had sent out the Undaunted and Aurora, with the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla, to the Broad Fourteens to act as an advanced screen for the squadron on the Belgian Coast; the Fearless, of the 1st Flotilla, had come in to coal; and he himself was standing by at Harwich in the Arethusa. Towards evening he recalled |the Aurora. (The Aurora was a new light cruiser nominally belonging to the 4th Flotilla, but had not yet joined it. She was commanded by Captain Hotham in September, and having completed her trials was specially attached to Commodore Tyrwhitt, whom she joined on October 20. Map No. 11 in case.)


In pursuance of the declaration for closing the North Sea that was issued this day, it was intended to strengthen the barrier minefield which closed the northern |approach to the Channel, and the Aurora was required, with six destroyers, to protect the minelayers. As for the other


Nov. 3, 1914



ships in the Southern Area, there were four battleships at the Nore, Queen, Majestic, Jupiter and the Venerable, which had just come in from Dunkirk; the Queen being on guard at two hours' notice. At Dover was the Irresistible, also at short notice. To the northward the battle and light cruisers were at Cromarty, where the Commander-in-Chief had ordered them to concentrate. This was the position when, shortly after 7 a.m. on November 3, Commodore Tyrwhitt was surprised by a wholly unexpected signal. It came from the Halcyon (Commander Ballard) a mine-sweeping gunboat stationed at Lowestoft, which was then working near Smith's Knoll, and it was to say she was engaged with a superior enemy. At the same time big shells began to fall close to the beach at Yarmouth. In the mists of the autumn dawn no ships could be clearly made out. According to a German report, a squadron consisting of three battle cruisers, Seydlitz, Moltke and Von der Tann, the cruiser Blucher, and three light cruisers, Kolberg, Graudenz and Strassburg, had left the Bight the previous evening with orders to make a demonstration against the English coast. Making the Cross Sands light-vessel about daybreak, they surprised the Halcyon some four miles south of it, steering north-easterly. Two miles south-west of her was the destroyer Lively (Lieutenant Baillie-Grohman), patrolling to the eastward, and astern, near the Scroby Buoy, was another destroyer, the Leopard (Lieutenant V. S. Butler).


On seeing the leading ships of the enemy coming out of the morning mist the Halcyon turned towards them and made the challenge. It was greeted with salvoes of 11" and other guns, and she at once turned away to the south-west. Seeing her acute danger, Lieutenant Baillie-Grohman, who also had altered course towards the enemy, dashed across her stern and boldly turned down on a parallel course with her and set up a smoke screen between her and the enemy. For about a quarter of an hour the two ships were under heavy fire, but thanks to continual changes of course and the smoke screen neither was seriously hit when, at 7.40, the enemy, in fear that further pursuit of the action might lead them into a minefield, ceased fire and made off to the eastward. The Leopard, who all through had been under heavy -fire, now turned to search down the coast while the Lively held after the enemy till she lost them in the mist. The other destroyers of the Yarmouth Patrol, though they had put to sea the moment they heard the guns were unable to arrive on the scene before the enemy had made off. Still, it was owing to the bold action of the patrol that the Halcyon was able to escape with only trifling damage, and no more than three men wounded.


Nov 3, 1914



At 7.45 she reported that the enemy, whose force was still undetermined, was making off to the south-eastward. Upon this, Commodore Tyrwhitt, who on the first alarm had ordered the Aurora and Undaunted to make for Smith's Knoll with all dispatch, and was himself hastily preparing to get to sea, decided to hasten off to Terschelling with the Arethusa and another division of destroyers to try to cut off the enemy's retreat, and ordered the Aurora and the Undaunted, with her destroyers, to do the same.


By 8.30 the Halcyon reached Yarmouth and was able to present a fuller report. She made out the enemy to be four Dreadnought battleships and four four-funnelled cruisers and had lost sight of them steaming east-south-east about twelve miles off Lowestoft (Lat. 52 degrees 33 1/2' N., Long. 2 degrees 04' E.). Owing to the inevitable delay in transmission and decoding it was some time before the Admiralty had the information. An earlier message from Gorleston stated that the enemy's force consisted of at least one battle cruiser and three or four others and was steaming south. In this form the intelligence was sent at 9.0 a.m. to Admiral Hood at Dunkirk, and also to Admiral Beatty at Cromarty, and at the same time the nearest East Coast Defence Patrols were ordered to the spot; all available submarines at Harwich were sent out to attack, and those at Dover were to get to sea ready for action. Admiral Burney was also warned, and the Queen and Irresistible were directed to take up a position to support the Patrols. By noon Yarmouth reported for certain that two battle cruisers and four light cruisers had been sighted, and this information was sent to the Commodore with a warning to beware of being cut off.


So far all the information pointed to a raid to the southward, but to ensure against the enemy doubling back Admiral Beatty was given discretion to proceed with all dispatch to an intercepting position north of Heligoland, where the Scapa light cruisers were to join him. This was repeated to the Grand Fleet; and the 3rd Battle Squadron, which, on its way to the Channel, was then off the N.W. coast of Ireland, was ordered to turn back and join the Commander-in-Chief at Scapa. There the concentration which he had prepared was now taking place, since the most likely explanation of what then appeared to be an unintelligible attempt of the enemy to bombard an open coast town was that it might be a diversion to distract attention from something more serious in the north. The Grand Fleet battleships would in any case


Nov 3, 1914



be too late for action in the Channel, and there other precautions were taken. Admiral Burney was to move up to Spithead; the Venerable and five of the Nore submarines were to join the Queen and Irresistible at the Tongue, and the Majestic and Jupiter were to get ready to do the same. At Gorleston were three "Oversea" submarines, E 10 under orders for the Cattegat, and D 3 and D 5 for Terschelling. At the first sound of the guns they put to sea, but unhappily as they were hurrying to the scene of action D 5 struck a floating mine. In less than a minute she went down, and though two fishing drifters, Homeland and Faithful, regardless of the danger, rushed to the rescue, nearly all hands were lost. Though coastal bombardment appeared at first to be the object of the raid, it is more probable that mining was the main intention, but not where D 5 was lost. It would seem that in retiring from Gorleston the Germans had laid a line of mines some five miles long in the Smith's Knoll Passage, and this was known as early as 11.0 a.m., when a fisherman coming in to Lowestoft reported having seen the Germans laying mines as they retired. Before noon a general warning had gone out from the Admiralty.


In the meantime the Commodore, having provided as he thought for Terschelling, had decided to take the Smith's Knoll position himself with the Arethusa and six destroyers, sweeping along the Suffolk coast on his way. The Aurora, however, not having received his last order, apparently had held on for the same position, and was waiting there for instructions. The Undaunted, with her destroyers, was thus making for Terschelling alone, and when she had reached a position near the mid-sea rendezvous in Latitude 58 degrees she sighted to the southward four cruisers "looking like two 'Roons,' and two, others." They at once gave chase, and she ran off to the northward; but not content merely to escape, she soon began to turn to the westward to try to lead them south. But the enemy clearly winded a trap, and almost at the same moment they gave up the chase of the Undaunted and made off east-north-east towards Terschelling Light. The Undaunted, true to her name, then resumed her course and followed them, doing her best to keep touch; while the Commodore, who at 11.30 had reached the Corton light-vessel off Lowestoft on his way to Smith's Knoll, started off to her assistance. By this time, however, the Admiralty, having ascertained the overwhelming force of the enemy, had recommended him to concentrate. The Undaunted was accordingly recalled. By 3.0 p.m. the Commodore had his three light cruisers and thirteen destroyers


Nov. 3-7, 1914



assembled at the mid-sea rendezvous, and with this force he proceeded to sweep past Terschelling to the Bight. But of the enemy no more was seen, and Admiral Beatty and the Scapa light cruisers were recalled. Towards midnight Commodore Tyrwhitt swept back again, and by noon on the 4th was off the Maas light-vessel, with his whole force barring the way down the Broad Fourteens. Still, there was no further trace of the raiders; and as it was now evident that the German movement was nothing but a runaway knock, the normal routine was resumed, and the 3rd Battle Squadron, which had been ordered to turn south again the previous afternoon, carried on to join the Channel Fleet at Portland.


Whether or not anything more effective had been contemplated, the force employed was certainly large enough to justify all the precautions that were taken by the Admiralty. According to German reports all their ships got back safely, but they admitted that the morning after the raid (November 4) the armoured cruiser Yorck forded the minefield which defended Jade Bay and was lost with half her crew. The form in which her loss was announced implied she was not with the raiding squadron. Our final reports went to show that she was. She and the Roon formed a class by themselves, and our nearest observers agreed that besides four battle cruisers the squadron contained four cruisers, and amongst them both the "Roons."


To us, in view of the excellent opporttmity they had had of a really telling interference with our operations on the Belgian Coast, the whole affair seemed peculiarly inept. The actual result was to leave the position on the Yser in so favourable a condition that the Belgian Headquarters determined to attempt a forward movement to recover their original line. This was made known the same night (November 3-4), and Admiral Hood, hoisting his flag again in the Crusader, went over with three other destroyers to assist. The advance was so far successful that the line of the Yser was reached and Lombartzyde re-occupied. Admiral Hood's force was now strengthened by the Excellent, and the Revenge was ready for him at Dover; but before he could act a night counter-attack drove the Belgians out of Lombartzyde, and they fell back to the Nieuport bridge-head. There they were soon firmly established, and, content with what they had regained, they decided not to press their offensive further. On November 7, therefore, Admiral Hood was recalled to resume his normal duty at Dover, leaving the Vestal as senior ship with the Humber, Rinaldo, Bustard and Excellent to carry on in accordance with military requirements.


Nov. 7-9, 1914



His last day's work was directed against concentrations of troops between Westende and Lombartzyde. It was reported to have been very effective, but next day (November 8), when the operation was repeated in his absence, the ships found themselves received with so heavy a fire that they were forced to withdraw out of range. Nor was this all the attention the last day's work had provoked; for as the gunboats retired they were twice attacked by submarines, both times without effect. With that the operations terminated. So secure was now the sea flank that no immediate assistance from the fleet seemed necessary, and next day (November 9) the whole force was recalled to Sheerness to remain organised as a flotilla, full up with stores and ammunition, ready for further orders.


So ended the three weeks' operations, with the main object which they were designed to further fully attained. For although all hope of quickly recovering the lost ground in Belgium was given, up, it was certain the enemy would not be able to reach Calais through Nieuport and Dunkirk. The operations had been carried out under every kind of difficulty. The movements of the ships had been greatly hampered by the shoals and banks on the coast and by the constant menace of submarines. Dunes, rising in places to fifty feet high, obstructed the view, and "the only way to find the enemy," so Admiral Hood wrote, "was to locate a prominent high object such as a tower or tree in the neighbourhood of which we were informed the enemy's troops or guns were congregated, and then to search the area round that object by gun-fire." The difficulties were much increased by the weather, which for the most part was unfavourable for air reconnaissance and observing, and fire control was always difficult owing to the slowness of communication with the shore. Yet severe loss both in guns and men was undoubtedly caused to the enemy, while our own loss was insignificant. All told, the casualties were two officers and ten men killed, and three officers and forty-six men wounded, and two-fifths of these had been caused in the destroyer Falcon by a single shot. Apart from the incidental loss of the Hermes the ships suffered very little. Several had to be sent home to shift worn guns, and besides the injuries to the destroyer Amazon, already recorded, no ship was put out of action.


In contrast with the risks that had been run to achieve combination between the Navy and the Army, the conduct of the Germans is noteworthy. In spite of the importance and difficulty of the task which their army had been set, and



in spite of the fact that its object was ultimately naval, the Navy had made no real effort to assist it. It is possible, of course - assuming that they had early enough information of Admiral Hood's instructions - that their destroyer reconnaissance of October 17 was intended as a preliminary to more extensive action. The Admiralty, at any rate, prepared to meet it. It may be that the swift and drastic punishment, with which that reconnaissance met, discouraged further effort; but certain it is that, except for weak submarine attacks, the German Navy sat idly by and left the Army to break itself to pieces without holding out a hand to ease its task. Such activity as it displayed was spent on the Gorleston Raid, an operation of no military significance whatever.









(See Maps 2 and 12 in case)


With the conclusion of the operations on the Belgian coast and the knowledge that the sea flank of the Allies was secure and Calais beyond the reach of the enemy, the interest of the Naval War shifts to the High Seas. There the Odyssey of Admiral von Spee had come more and more to dominate the situation. The existence of his squadron had set up conditions of which the Navy had no experience. Again and again in the old French Wars we had had to hunt down wandering squadrons in the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean, but never, had we had to deal with one at large in the vast wastes of the Pacific, with all our most distant possessions in three continents and the furthest limits of our trade routes exposed to its ravages. It was impossible to tell within thousands of desolate miles where it would strike, and so powerful was it that at all the possible points it must be confronted with concentrations of force which would strain our resources to breaking point.


Never perhaps had the Admiralty had a more difficult problem to solve. Yet, thorny as it was, its solution would have been comparatively easy but for the unrelated complications which entangled it. The first of these was the incessant calls of the military for convoy all over the world, and the second a happy inspiration of the Germans. For instead of concentrating the whole of their outlying cruisers under Admiral von Spee's flag, they had left two or three to operate singly as long as they could against our trade. The cruising grounds assigned to them, moreover, were chosen so as to cause us the utmost embarrassment. The chief of the detached ships were the Emden and the Karlsruhe, and the fields of. their activity were respectively the. Indian Ocean and the north-east of Pernambuco. Not only did these waters constitute two of the richest and most important focal areas on the great trade routes, but in relation to the Pacific they were also the most distant in which it was


Aug. 12-16



possible for an enemy's cruiser to operate without the likelihood of immediate capture. As a combination of the concentration and dispersal of cruising force, the disposition had much to commend it. Whether it was not rather accidental than deliberately thought out by the Germans is more than doubtful, but certain it is that no other device could have caused us greater annoyance. No rise to which they put their scanty force of cruisers, with the exception of the even happier inspiration which sent the Goeben and. Breslau to Constantinople, was better designed for our discomfort. Every fleet and squadron from the Grand Fleet downwards became affected by the disturbance with more or less severity, and in tracing its reactions it will be well to begin with the North American Station. For not only was it one of the most distant from the German Pacific base, but it was the officer in command of it - Admiral Cradock - who was so unhappily destined to be the central figure when the problem reached its culmination.


It will be recalled how, on August 12 it became known to him that the Dresden, which at that time appeared to have the function of an isolated cruiser, had been molesting British merchant ships off the Amazon, and that the Karlsruhe had appeared at Curacao. Admiral Cradock had then, at his own suggestion, been authorised to move down with his flag in the newly joined Good Hope and take personal charge of his Southern or West Indies area. The force he left in the north under the senior officer, Captain Yelverton, comprised the Suffolk, Essex, and Lancaster, shortly to be reinforced with the Canadian cruiser Niobe. The great subsidised Cunard liner Mauretania was also in Halifax waiting for conversion, but on August 16 it was decided she was not to be used, owing to the cost of fuelling her, but next day, in pursuance of the policy of stiffening the cruiser squadrons with battleships, the Glory reached Halifax.


In the West Indian Area were the Berwick and Bristol and the two French cruisers Conde and Descartes, all engaged in patrol or local convoy duty on their assigned stations. Their special preoccupation was with the Dresden and Karlsruhe, both of whom seemed to be still hovering on the most southerly verge of the station and might at any time break back. That they had some such intention was the more likely, since this part of the station had just acquired a new importance; for on August 16, the day Admiral Cradock started south, the long-anticipated change in, the strategical aspects of the Atlantic was consummated by the formal opening of the Panama Canal.


Aug. 13-20, 1914



There was no more news of the Dresden having molested ships, and the last word of the Karlsruhe was that on August 13 she had been seen off La Guayra in Venezuela, steaming east. Upon this information Admiral Cradock, on his way down, called the Berwick and Bristol to meet him at St. Lucia. His intention was to seek the two German cruisers in the southern extremity of his station, and he asked for coal to be sent to Trinidad. In the evening of August 20, however, the Admiralty received news which involved a radical change in the whole plan. It came from our Minister at Rio, who reported that the crew of the Houston liner Hyades, from Rosario to Rotterdam, had been brought in by a German auxiliary, and that their ship had been sunk by the Dresden on the 16th about 180 miles east of Pernambuco.


Of the Karlsruhe there was no further information, but it was clear that with the ruthless turn the German operations had suddenly taken the Pernambuco area must have instant attention. It was actually in Admiral Stoddart's command - that is, the Canary and Cape Verde Station - but for all its importance he had not at first been able to deal with it. The original intention in our commerce defence scheme was that it should be occupied from the North American and West Indies Station. But the presence of so many large German ships in United States ports and the immediate need of safeguarding, the North Atlantic routes had forced a change of plan, by which the area was committed to Admiral Stoddart. Accordingly, he was given instructions to detach there as soon as possible his fastest cruiser, and we have seen how on August 13, when the Monmouth joined him at Las Palmas from home, he ordered her away.


Still, she could not be definitely assigned to the focal area, for she was to be under the orders of Captain Luce, who with the Glasgow had to watch the whole south-east coast of America single-handed, and his station stopped short of the area. It is true that the Cruiser Squadron War Orders of July 1914 provided that no station limits were to be regarded as rigid and impassable, but these Captain Luce had not yet received. His task was, of course, impossible to discharge adequately. Much had to be left unwatched, and regarding the northern part of his station as the more important at the moment, especially as a number of large German ships had by orders from Berlin taken refuge in Brazilian ports, he had decided to leave the River Plate open, and was working from a secret coaling base at Abrolhos Rocks off the Brazilian coast, where the Monmouth joined him. At the River Plate, therefore, German shipping was free to come and go, but off


Aug. 1-21, 1914



the Brazilian ports his activity proved so strong a deterrent that the only prize he had taken was the Hamburg-Sud-Amerika liner Santa Catharina, which had left New York before war broke out and had no wireless.


Clearly, then, something more must be done. To all appearance the Dresden was operating in the Pernambuco area from a secret base. The conclusion that she had orders to do so was natural enough, but, in fact, her presence was fortuitous and her orders quite different. It will be remembered that she had been actually under orders for home when war broke out, having been relieved by the Karlsruhe, and it would seem that one of the first effects of the closing of the North Sea by the Home Fleets was an order that she was to join Admiral von Spee in the Pacific. On German authority we now know that as early as August 1 she was told that war had broken out, and that she was to carry on cruiser warfare, presumably against France and Russia. (Admiral Dick: Das Kreuzergesahwader.)


On these orders, apparently, she proceeded south and hovered about the Pernambuco area for some time. On the 9th and 10th she was coaling at Jericoacoara (Lat. 2 degrees 50' S., Long. 40 degrees 35' W.), an obscure inlet between Para and Pernambuco. Thence she struck across the trade route towards the island of Fernando Noronha, and then doubled back to Rocas Reef, where she coaled again on the 13th from the Hamburg-Amerika S.S. Baden. Here, possibly, she received orders which led to her ruthless treatment of the Hyades. (This, however, is not certain. The first three ships she stopped (on August 6) were released. This may have been because she had then no tender to which she could transfer the crews. Admiral Dick's explanation is: "Several vessels met en route to Rio and River Plate, but all ignorant of war, except Hyades, which is sunk." This ground for release, however, does not appear in the article of the German Prize Code relating to Vessels Exempted from Capture (Part I. € 6).)


It would also seem she was told to carry on for the Pacific, avoiding normal trade routes, for the Hyades was keeping off the usual track when she was taken, and the Dresden with the Baden in company continued south, giving the main trade routes as wide a berth as she could.


All this, however, was not known till long afterwards, and the Admiralty could only act on the belief that she was definitely engaged in commerce destruction. On August 21 this appreciation was confirmed by intelligence from our Vice-Consul at Pernambuco that she seemed to be using Rocas Reef as a base, and next day the Admiralty ordered Admiral Cradock to go down and search for her. Thus


Aug. 19-Sept. 4



early did war experience bring out the importance of the Pernambuco area and the inadequacy of the original defence system in the Atlantic. It was quickly seen that the shift would have to be permanent, and a fortnight later (September 4) Admiral Phipps Hornby, who had been commanding the 11th Squadron on the Irish Station, was ordered out to take over Admiral Cradock's original command. Both stations at the same time were reinforced with merchant cruisers. Admiral Hornby went out in the Caronia, and the Macedonia was sent to join Admiral Cradock, while a third, the Otranto, was well on her way to Captain Luce, who by this time also had the Monmouth, Captain Brandt.


It was on August 22, the day Admiral Cradock's new orders were issued, that she joined. Next day Captain Luce, who had asked whether he was to act against the Dresden to the northward of his station, was told that if he had certain news of her she was to be his objective, and that his station limits were only to be taken as a general guide. Accordingly, having heard of her sinking the Hyades, he at once went off to search the infested waters with the Glasgow and Monmouth. The news was a week old, but there was nothing to indicate what the real orders of the Dresden were. The effect of the movement was to leave her, free to get well away on her southward course.


On August 19 or 20, in company with her tender, the Baden, she made Trinidada, a lonely island lying out in the South Atlantic some 500 miles from the Brazilian coast. There she found the gunboat Eber, from German South-West Africa, waiting for the liner Cap Trafalgar, whom her captain was to arm and take over as an auxiliary. There, too, was a supply ship, the Santa Isabel, which had come to meet the Dresden .(The Santa Isabel came from Buenos Aires. On August 5 our Intelligence Officer there reported her to he taking in large quantities of coal, apparently for a German cruiser. She also took in coal-bags, shovels, oil and forty bullocks. On August 9 she sailed with a clearance for Togoland. Later it was ascertained that a German ship, the Sevilla, met her at sea about August 16 and transferred to her her wireless installation and an operator.)


Having filled his bunkers, Captain von LŸdecke sailed again on the 21st, intending, according to German accounts, to lie in wait off the River Plate for British steamers, whose arrival was known to be impending. (Admiral Dick: Das Kreuzergeschwader. His account of the Dresden's movements does not always accord with her captured log. Here he says she sailed on the 24th, while the log gives the 21st.) Whether it was really his intention to cruise in that area is made doubtful by his actual movements. He certainly laid a course direct for the Plate, but on coming abreast of


Aug. 20-28



the southern province of Brazil, where the German colony was very numerous, he altered course towards the land, possibly for the purpose of communication. This alteration brought him for the first time upon the regular trade, route, and on August 26, when nearly abreast of Rio Grande, he captured the British S.S. Holmwood, outward bound for Bahia Blanca with coal, and shortly afterwards the Katherine Park from Buenos Aires to Rio and New York. The Holmwood he sank, and as the other ship's cargo was American-owned, he let her go after transferring to her the crew of the Holmwood, a pretty sure indication that he did not intend to remain where he was. He did, in fact, carry on down the coast, keeping well shorewards of the trade route till he reached Gill Bay in the Gulf of St. George, 500 miles short of Magellan Strait. (Admiral Dick says he remained off the Plate several days, detaining enemy vesssels in harbour. But the log records no such story. The fact was the Plate trade had not yet recovered from the financial paralysis, and sailings were very few.)


All this time Captain Luce was searching for her as high as Cape San Roque. On the 28th he tried the supposed German base at Rocas Reef. Not even a collier was found, but there the Otranto joined and the three ships went off together to his secret coaling base at Abrolhos Rocks; for having found, nothing in the north, he had little doubt what the Dresden was doing, and was bent on getting off the River Plate as soon as possible.


Complete as was the failure, the reasons that had dictated his movements were sound enough. If he had missed the Dresden, he had come within an ace of getting the Karlsruhe; for on September 1, three days after he left Rocas Reef, this ship appeared there, and she it was and not the Dresden that had been told off to the Pernambuco focal area.


But meanwhile Admiral Cradock was at hand. On August 27 he had begun a sweep along the north coast of Brazil, with the Good Hope, Berwick and Bristol, leaving the two French cruisers to take care of the West Indies in his absence. He was thus engaged when on August 29 a report reached him that the Cap Trafalgar was making for St. Paul Rocks, which lie about midway between the African and Brazilian coasts. This ship had come out of the River Plate on August 22 while Captain Luce was to the Northward, and it was not till September 1 she received her armament. On that day, somewhere off Bahia, she met the Eber, who had come on from Trinidada, and received from


Sept. 1-3



her her two guns, and apparently her officers and most of her crew. The Cap Trafalgar was thus well to the southward and had not actually started her career when Admiral Cradock heard of her. But the report he received pointed to the possibility of the Dresden being also at St. Paul Rocks, as she had not been heard of for ten days, and the Admiral, although it meant a run of 1500 miles, decided to proceed there in his flagship, leaving the Bristol and the Berwick to continue the search of the Brazilian coast.


The same report reached Admiral Stoddart at the Canaries, and as St. Paul Rocks were actually in his station he, too, decided to make a cast. Since the merchant cruisers which had been sent him after the Kaiser Wilhelm's raid had arrived, he felt he could do something for his south-western area, and on September 1 he ordered away the Cornwall, not knowing what his colleague was doing. Next day Admiral Cradock reached St. Paul Rocks. Nothing was there; and he at once made back for Fernando Noronha. Here, though it was Brazilian territory, there was a French Cable Company's station, connected with Brest and with Dakar in Senegal. Originally British, the station still had a British manager, who was ready to accept code messages. The Admiral thus got into communication with the Admiralty and the Glasgow, and being now made aware of the general situation was able to realise the extraordinary complication of the problem that the Germans had set.


From Captain Luce he heard that a number of German vessels seemed to be gathering in the Strait of Magellan, and that he was proposing to take his squadron there to investigate. On this the Admiral submitted to the Admiralty the possibility of a concentration there of all the German cruisers in the Pacific and Atlantic.


It would seem that he felt that in the circumstances he ought not to return to the West Indies. If so he only anticipated the conclusion the Admiralty had come to. Their latest news from China and Australia raised a strong impression that Admiral von Spee was making for South American waters, and they had already sent him through Pernambuco an order that he was now to remain permanently in command of the South American Station, and, like the other stations, it was to have a battleship which he could use as a guardship for his secret base. For this purpose Admiral Stoddart was to send him the Canopus, which had been acting as guardship at St. Vincent, Cape Verde. The Albion was to replace her from Admiral de Robeck's squadron, and Admiral Tottenham, who was still in the Albion, was to strike his flag and take


Sept. 3-5, 1914



over the Irish Station in place of Admiral Phipps Hornby, who, as we have seen, was now appointed to Admiral Cradock's original command. At the same time, however, there was great anxiety about the West Indies. One at least of the enemy's, Atlantic cruisers did not seem to be destined for the expected concentration, for it was now known that the crew of the Bowes Castle, a ship taking nitrates to the United States, had just been brought into Maranham, on the north coast of Brazil, with news of the Karlsruhe. What they had to report was that the German cruiser had sunk their ship on August 18 about 200 miles east of Barbados. At the same time our intelligence officers reported renewed German activity at the island of St. Thomas, where colliers and supply ships were being sent out apparently to the Karlsruhe, and possibly, also, to the Dresden. In the face of this information the West Indies could not be neglected. For their safety the Admiralty hastened to provide. A cruiser was to be called down from the North American area with special orders to look into St. Thomas, and the Essex (Captain Watson), being nearest, was selected. The Berwick (Captain Clinton Baker) was also to return there, and in her place Admiral Cradock was to keep the Cornwall (Captain Ellerton), who, as he was returning from his examination of St. Paul Rocks, had been ordered to turn back to Pernambtico.


The new instructions were entirely in accord with Admiral Cradock's own appreciation of what was likely to happen, and as it was now certain that the German vessels in the vicinity of Magellan Strait were colliers the probability of his having to deal with the Pacific Squadron was increased. As soon, therefore, as he received his new orders he proceeded to Pernambuco to reconcentrate his squadron. Here, as some compensation for his disappointment at St. Paul Rocks, he found ample evidence of the paralysis of the enemy's trade. In the harbour were not less than fifteen large German ships, belonging mainly to the Hamburg-Sud-Amerika and Norddeutscher Lloyd Companies. Many of them had taken refuge there on the general orders from home in the early days, of the war, and none had ventured to stir. On the other hand, it was clear that the exploits of the Dresden had shaken the confidence of traders all down the coast, and our consuls were crying out for a stronger display of force. But this was already provided for, and it was Admiral Cradock who was to see to it, instead of returning to his old station. Before moving he asked for the latest formation as to Admiral von Spee's movements. The reply was that there had been nothing certain for nearly


Sept. 6-16, 1914



a month, but it was quite probable the enemy might make for the vicinity of the Strait, or even the Falkland Islands. On this he determined to move down to the River Plate, where confidence had been most severely shaken and the call for protection was most insistent, and to distribute his squadron to examine all likely places on the way. At the same time he ordered Captain Luce to carry on with his division to the southward, searching all unfrequented anchorages south of the Plate as far as the Strait, and as the Dresden was now known by her last capture to be to the Southward, he was to take up a position there so as to prevent her getting away into the Pacific. This plan the Admiral proceeded to carry out, till, in the middle of the month, it was overridden by new orders from the Admiralty, which once more changed his sphere of action.


The developments which had been drawing Admiral Cradock to the southward had also had their reaction upon his colleagues on the other side of the Atlantic, and here the problem was complicated in a high degree by military requirements. We have seen already how the first effect was that Admiral Stoddart was called on to reinforce Admiral Cradock with the Canopus and Cornwall. The loss of these ships came at an inopportune moment and heavily taxed his power of meeting the exigencies'of the army. His squadron now consisted of the Carnarvon (flag), the Albion on her way down from Cape St. Vincent to replace the Canopus, the Highflyer refitting at Gibraltar after her action with the Kaiser Wilhelm, and three armed merchant cruisers, Victorian, Empress of Britain, and Marmora. The Cumberland, was engaged in the operations against the Cameroons, and with her were the Challenger and the French cruiser Bruix, which was escorting the Senegalese contingent.


His immediate concern was the transports bringing home the Cape garrison, which, in charge of the Hyacinth of the Cape Station and the Leviathan, specially detached from the 6th Cruiser Squadron, were just entering his area, and there was one enemy ship which might interfere with them. This was the Kronprinz Wilhelm, which had been in company with the Karlsruhe when, on August 6, Admiral Cradock lost her off the Bahamas. Since then she had disappeared, but it was now known that on August 27 she had boarded a Russian ship about 500 miles north-north-west of the Cape Verde Islands. Out of his diminished squadron Admiral Stoddart had now to take over the convoy from the Hyacinth with one of his own ships. In view of the proximity of the Kronprinz Wilhelm he had nothing to spare, but was fortunately


Aug. 27-Sept. 20, 1914



able to use the Europa, which had brought out a transport with General Dobell and the Cameroons Staff, and the Challenger had taken it on. Thus all would have gone well, but on reaching the northern limit of his station the Leviathan broke down and he had to take the convoy on himself in his flagship. An order for Admiral de Robeck to relieve him came too late, and he had to carry on to Lisbon. Here he was authorised to leave the transports to the Europa, for the rest of the route was now patrolled by the French, and another large convoy, powerfully escorted, was coming down. This was the East Lancashire Territorial Division bound for Egypt, and ultimately India, together with two Territorial Battalions for Gibraltar and Malta, all in charge of the Minerva, and the Ocean on her way to replace the Albion at Cape St. Vincent, But so much reduced was Admiral de Robeck's Squadron, owing to continual trouble with the old cruisers, that he had to leave the Cape St. Vincent focal area to the French Morocco Division and send away the Ocean, first to Madeira and then to the Azores. (The French Morocco Division at this time comprised, besides the Bruix at Duala, the cruisers Friant and Amiral Charner and the light cruisers Cassard and Cosmao.)


But further military exigencies compelled the Admiralty to cancel this arrangement, and to send both Ocean and Minerva to the East Indies, where the menace of the German Pacific Squadron, as will be seen directly, was causing special anxiety for the safety of the all-important Indian convoys. Nor did this kind of interference with Admiral de Robeck's commerce protection duties cease till, after the loss of the three "Cressys," the remainder of the 7th Cruiser Squadron were told off as regular escort between home and Gibraltar.


Meanwhile, before Admiral de Robeck could act on the orders which deprived, him of the Ocean and Minerva, Admiral Stoddart, having heard that the Kronprinz Wilhelm was in his station, had gone back to Madeira. She was said to be at Rio de Oro on the Morocco coast, where the Kaiser Wilhelm had been caught, and, with the Highflyer fresh from refitting, he made a sweep for her. Unfortunately, he started just soon enough to miss an urgent call from the French. Among all the fine things they did in the war, few surpass the way in which General Lyautey, the Governor of Morocco, clung to his still raw province without drawing on the resources of the Mother Country. His force was slender in the extreme, and German agents were diligently making trouble by their well-known methods. Amongst other devices, with their reckless or ignorant disregard of


Sept. 26-30, 1914



the consequences of deceiving Orientals, they had been spreading a report that Great Britain had declared war on France. The result was considerable unrest amongst the turbulent tribesmen, and, as a direct means of contradicting, the German falsehood, the French Government asked for a British ship to make a joint demonstration with the Cassard along the disturbed coast. The sweep Admiral Stoddart was making may well have given colour to the German story, and it was nearly a week before the instructions' reached him. He then immediately ordered away the Victorian. On September 26 she met the Cassard off Cape Juby, and together they moved up the coast as high as Agadir, bringing home the object lesson with occasional bombardments of the villages they passed. The effect seems to have been all that was desired, and the tribal unrest died down.


It may appear that it would have been a better reply to the French if we had sent a regular cruiser to join the Cassard instead of the Victorian, but what was done was in accordance with a new cruiser policy which the Admiralty had just enjoined. In spite of all its complexities, the problem of exercising a general command of the sea was growing clearer. It was now established that the danger from the enemy's armed merchant cruisers was going to be much less than had been anticipated, and it was to deal with this class of ship that our own merchant cruisers had been commissioned. The altered circumstances were pointed out by the Admiralty in a general order on September 13, and a new function assigned to the auxiliary units. Henceforth they were, as far as possible, to work in conjunction with a regular cruiser in order to assist her in getting hold of enemy cruisers, and never to engage a ship they met unless she was distinctly of inferior force. By this system of coupling, the reach of the regular cruisers would be considerably extended, and the work of dealing with the elusive tactics of the enemy simplified.


But for Admiral Stoddart the work was heavy enough. For, besides his trade defence duties, he had still the Cameroons Expedition to cover, and it had developed in such a way as to make it clear that the cruisers attached to it could not be released for some time to come.








(See Map, p, 276 and Map 16 in case.)


It had, of course, been recognised from the first that the Cameroons would be a very different undertaking from Togoland. The colony, since its extension by the Franco-German agreement of 1912, had an area of nearly 300,000 square miles, and from the borders of Nigeria to those of the Gaboon, which Was now included in the French Congo, its sea-front stretched for some 200 miles. By our latest information the Germans had in the colony 170 white troops, and, including police, 2000 natives. It was therefore a question of a considerable expedition which was to be organised from our West African Frontier Force under General Dobell, the Inspector-General. Whether or not the French would be able to assist directly was at first more than doubtful. Owing to the recent cession of territory which they had been constrained to make to Germany, the position of their Congo Colony was very weak. Not only had the Germans obtained a perfect interior position, but their frontier had been brought up so close to the main French line of communication with the Lake Chad region as to menace it along its whole extent. The idea of the French, consequently, was to act purely on the defensive, and by seizing certain strategical points to pin the Germans down to areas where they could do least harm. Such operations would, of course, be valuable as a diversion, and the French were also ready to provide naval co-operation on the coast.


We, on our part, in accordance with the defence scheme drawn up some years before the war, had mobilised three columns from the Nigerian Force: one based on Maifoni on the Maidugari River near Lake Chad, another on Nafada to the westward, and a third, which was the strongest of them, at Yola, midway down the frontier. In the coastal area were two others, the Cross River or Ikom column, and the Calabar column. Though they were intended primarily as observation


Aug. 5-31, 1914

forces, their commandant was anxious to take the offensive. This was forbidden as premature, and they were to be confined to their assigned functions of reconnaissance, though the Yola or principal column was authorised, at the commanding officer's discretion, to seize Garua, the German station just across the frontier. Nothing, however, was intended at present beyond movements, analogous to those of the French, to draw the enemy from the coast and to prepare for combined action with the main expeditionary force later on.


On further consideration, however, the French were not content with naval co-operation in the main zone. At Dakar they had ready, with transports, a force of nearly 2000 Senegalese, with six guns. It was intended for Morocco, where General Lyautey urgently needed reinforcement, and it was only awaiting escort. This force they decided to use at Duala, and on August 15, at a joint conference held in the Admiralty, the plan of operation was settled. Nigeria could provide 1700 men and 10 guns, and Sierra Leone 600 men. A flotilla for inshore and river work was to be formed from the Nigerian Marine. Before, however, any move could be made it was necessary to ascertain whether the reports of German cruisers being based at Duala and of a German occupation of the Spanish island of Fernando Po were true. Not an hour was lost, and on the same day these decisions were come to Admiral Stoddart got the order under which Captain Fuller, was detached in the Cumberland to clear up the situation.


On the 23rd he left Sierra Leone with the gunboat Dwarf in tow, and a transport with reinforcements for Togoland. Lome was reached two days after the colony capitulated, and there he took possession of a Woermann liner, whose native crew had mutinied and forced their German officers to take the ship into a British port. Then, after looking in at Lagos to arrange for the organisation of the Nigerian flotilla, he went alone to examine Fernando Po. He was there on the last day of August. No trace of German occupation was found, and he immediately proceeded to Duala, where he found nothing but what appeared to be an armed ship patrolling the entrance. It was now necessary to report the condition of affairs to Nigeria, and as Duala was jamming his wireless he had to go back to Calabar before establishing a blockade. There, on September 1, he found that all outstanding questions had been settled. At first there had been some doubt as to how the command should be shared. The French proposal was that they should have command of the troops, and the British officers the command at sea, but on


Sept. 1-4, 1914



our urging the special qualifications and ripe local experience of General Dobell, they handsomely agreed that both commands should remain in British hands. At the same time, as their gun-vessel, the Surprise, had broken down and would require some time for repairs, they consented to let the armoured cruiser Bruix come on with the Dakar troops and co-operate with Captain Fuller.


The plan of operations had also been settled. The original idea was to establish a base in Ambas Bay some twenty-five miles to the westward of the Cameroon River. Here lay Victoria, a port connected by a light railway with Buea, the former capital, ten miles to the northward on the slopes of the Cameroon Mountain. The objectives of the first phase of the operations were laid down as Victoria, Buea, Duala, and particularly the wireless station. It had, however, just been reported that the route between Victoria and Duala was impassable during two months of the rainy season, which would soon be at its height. If this proved true Duala would have to be attacked directly, and a cruiser light enough to enter the river would have to be attached to the expedition. For this reason the Challenger (Captain Beaty-Pownall) was ordered to Sierra Leone, where the allied troops were to concentrate on September 10. (Challenger, 5880 tons, 11-6"; 8-12-pdrs.)


On September 3 Captain Fuller was back at Fernando Po with orders to gather intelligence and carry out a thorough reconnaissance in preparation for the expedition. He was still anxious that Victoria should be occupied as a first step, for whether or not it was suitable for an army base he regarded it, now that the tornado season was coming on, as essential for a base for the flotilla. Next day, therefore, when the Dwarf rejoined him he went there to make a close investigation. Intelligence that he was able to gather from friendly Kroomen quickly convinced him that it was useless as a military base, but, on the other hand, it was reported to contain a large store of provisions. As the colony was said to be short of them it was desirable to seize it, and he accordingly sent in a flag of truce expressing his intention to land, and threatening a bombardment if any opposition was offered. The demand was accepted, and as it, was clear no troops were in the vicinity, a party of seamen and marines was landed to inspect the town. It was soon found that the bulk of the stores had been removed since Captain Fuller first appeared on the coast. A few stocks, however, were discovered, and a guard of marines was left on shore to prevent their removal in the night. Similar precautions were taken at Bota, a little port in the

Sept. 5-7, 1914

west of the bay, through which passed the light railway from Victoria to Buea. Here a large store of supplies was discovered, and Captain Fuller decided to land a force and remove them in the morning. But no sooner had the work commenced than the bush was found to be full of troops, and presently a flag of truce came in to demand instant evacuation. As nothing was to be gained by resistance, the landing parties were promptly withdrawn, and, after warning the inhabitants, the Cumberland (right - Photo Ships) destroyed the store by gunfire.


It was now clear that the only adequate base was Duala itself. It was the actual seat of government, and not only had it an excellent harbour with good quays and a floating dock, but it was the starting point of the two main railways. From the town ran the Midland Line, of which 100 miles were completed to Edea on the Sanaga River and on to Eseka on the Nyong. At Bonaberi, on the opposite or northern bank of the Cameroon River, began the Northern Line, destined ultimately to reach Lake Chad, of which the first section of 100 miles was completed to the Manenguba Mountains. To Duala Captain Fuller could now turn his attention, for on September 5 he was joined by eight vessels of the Niger Flotilla:



Nigerian Government yacht.


Steam lifeboat.



Dispatch vessels.






Motor launches.

They were mostly commanded by retired R.N.R. officers in the Nigerian service. Two more armed tugs, Remus and Porpoise, joined about ten days later.


Before leaving Victoria, however, he decided to try their mettle in seizing some lighters that were moored off the pier. The work was done in brilliant style by the Vampire and Walrus, and a cutting-out party from the Cumberland, and Dwarf. The lighters were all captured intact, and with this very useful addition to the flotilla he proceeded off the. Cameroon River.


The first essential need on that surf-beaten coast was to secure a safe anchorage at some convenient point for his small craft. The only place was inside Cape Cameroon and Suellaba Point, that is the entrance to the lagoon-like estuary by which the river reaches the sea, and before this could be accomplished it was necessary, in view of the Kroomen's reports of extensive mining, to sweep the estuary and approaches thoroughly. But, in fact, Duala was so wholly unprepared for defence, that the Germans had not a single


Sept. 8-11, 1914




mine and were only just beginning to extemporise substitutes. Nothing, therefore, was found, and so rapidly did the sweeping proceed that on September 9, after the two points had been searched by gunfire, the Dwarf was able to pass into the estuary. (Dwarf , Commander F. E. K. Strong, 710 tons, 2-4", 4-12-pdrs). It was known that a barrage of sunken vessels had been formed to block the river, and she at once discovered it at Rugged Point, some seven miles below the town. The patrol ship had fled at the first sight of her, but, seeing the Governor's yacht, Herzogm Elisabeth, coming out, the Dwarf promptly engaged her, and she quickly retired, apparently on fire, revealing as she re-passed the barrage that there was a practicable channel round the south end of it. Next day (the 10th) the Cumberland moved into the estuary and established a temporary base for the river craft inside Suellaba Point. The patrol ship was also seized. She proved to be the Hamburg-Amerika liner Kamerun (3660 tons), and was found beached and abandoned off Manoka Point.


(She had been loading timber in the Gaboon on August 1 when, war being imminent, she was summoned to Duala. She was given a guard of native troops and stationed in the estuary to give wireless warning of an enemy's approach. Her orders were to sink herself in the fairway if a large cruiser appeared, but to try to ram a small one. At the first appearance of the Dwarf, however, on the 8th, she ran full speed up the Manoka Creek till she grounded, and her people made off in the boats to Edea. (Diary of W Schmacher, chief engineer.))


The laborious work of preparing for the troops began at once. This same day two of, the Cumberland's steamboats penetrated the Lungasi River as high as Pitti, just below where the Midland Railway crosses it. On their way they chased and sank a large steam launch, and at Pitti they, in their turn, came under fire from entrenchments. Nevertheless, they landed, destroyed the telephone installation and made a valuable capture of papers which disclosed the enemy's scheme for defence for the Midland Railway. The sweeping, meanwhile, had been carried on up to and beyond the barrage. The Dwarf then passed it by the channel the Governor's yacht had shown her, and took up a position to prevent the obstruction being completed. Her boldness soon got her into trouble; for next day, as she was firing on a launch with a lighter in tow, she got caught by two field guns in a well-masked battery which had been established at Yoss Point to protect the barrage. She replied vigorously, but wisely retired at once, and though she had one bad hit on the bridge she succeeded in setting the battery on fire, and it never spoke again.


Sept. 11-19, 1914

By this time it was known to Captain Fuller that he was to have the valuable addition to his force which it had been decided would be necessary if Duala had to be attacked from the sea. The Challenger (right - Photo ships) was coming with the troops, and if a way could only be made for her through the barrage the fate of the town would quickly be settled. The work began at once, and while it proceeded the flotilla was assiduously nosing into every hole and corner of the multitudinous creeks that open out from the estuary along the coast on either hand. It was arduous and exciting work, for the creeks were tortuous and narrow, and at any moment the boats could be sniped out of the dense mangrove swamps that fringed them, and sometimes they were surprised by an armed vessel. Nevertheless, every inch was surveyed, with trifling casualties, and a number of launches were destroyed, while the Ivy and Dwarf took turns as guardship to cover the destruction of the barrage.

Needless to say, the Germans, in spite of their unpreparedness, exhausted all their ingenuity to stop the work. The Dwarf (right - Photo Ships) engaged their special attention. For her benefit they constructed a kind of infernal machine made of steel gas cylinders with percussion fuses and attached them under the bows of a launch. One of these engines was sent against her on the night of the 15th, when she was barrage guardship. The attack was duly made and a loud explosion heard. In Duala they counted it a sure success, but in the morning there was the Dwarf as usual. She had, in fact, detected the attempt in time, and under her fire the man in charge lost his head, lashed the helm wrongly before he leapt overboard, and the torpedo exploded against the bank. Next day she was sent to look after an armed vessel called the Nachtigal, after one of the founders of. the colony. She had attacked two of our boats the previous day and had been chased by the Ivy into the Bimbia River, the western outlet of the maze of creeks. There while the Dwarf was anchored for the night she suddenly appeared, and in spite of the point-blank fire that greeted her she was able to ram. The blow went fairly home, and the Germans might well hope the Dwarf was done for, but it was the Nachtigal that perished. When the two vessels separated the Dwarf quickly had her enemy in flames, and though badly holed was able to get back to Suellaba, where she speedily repaired her damages and was ready for her turn of barrage guard again. On the night of the 19th a second attempt on her was made with another infernal machine. Again aloud explosion was heard. But the launch had been detected and, sunk by a steam


Sept. 20-24, 1914




pinnace, and again the morning revealed the irrepressible little ship off the barrage quietly guarding the boats that were mining a way for the Challenger.


The work was carried out by the divers and torpedo staff of the Cumberland under the most dangerous and difficult conditions. The first attempt, indeed, failed, but by the 22nd part of the obstruction had been sufficiently demolished to allow of a ship of 19 feet draught to pass. But even so the way was not clear, for the Germans had just succeeded laying a field of their extemporised mines a little above abreast of the Yoss battery.


Still, all the preparatory work that was needed had been done when next day (September 23) the Challenger appeared with six transports carrying General Dobell and his staff and the British contingent of the expeditionary force.

(British, contingent, under Colonel Gorges, was composed as under:



 4 guns, Sierra Leone Company, R.G.A.

1st battery, Nigeria Regiment (4 guns).

Section Gold Coast Artillery (2 guns)



6 companies West African Regiment.

4 companies 1st Battalion Nigeria Regiment.

4 companies 2nd Battalion, Nigeria Regiment.

2 companies Sierra Leone Battalion, W.A.F.F.

2 companies Gold Coast Regiment, W.A.F.F.

1 Pioneer Company, Gold Coast Regiment, W.A.F.F.


Total with army troops (engineers, railway, telegraph, etc.), 154 British officers, 81 British N.C.O.s, 2460 native rank and file, 10 guns, and 3563 carriers.)

The Bruix, with the French contingent, was following, but had not yet appeared. Nor had the Surprise, but she was known to be well employed elsewhere. No sooner were her repairs completed than there was an urgent call for her from Libreville, the capital of the Gaboon. There in Corisco Bay, where the territory ceded to Germany in 1912 reached the sea between the Spanish enclave and the new Gaboon frontier, two armed ships had been giving trouble. The Surprise (1895, 617 tons, 2-3.9", 4-2.5") was quickly on the spot, and by September 24 had destroyed both vessels, and driven the Germans from their entrenched, position on the Okoko beach, and so eliminated one possible raiding base.


At Duala, as there was already force enough, Captain Fuller and General Dobell lost no time in settling a plan of attack. A possible landing place had been found near Mbenga on the Duala side of the Lungasi River, from which point it was hoped to seize the Midland Railway and cut off


Sept. 25-26, 1914


the escape of the garrison that way, while the Challenger, who meanwhile had been lightened to 19 1/2 feet, was to endeavour to pass the barrage and with her fire prevent anything crossing to the Northern Railway. Early on the 25th, at slack tide, she was cleverly scraped through the gap that had been blown away, and though the Bruix and her transports were close at hand it was decided to lose no more time. Captain Puller, with the General, therefore went on board the Challenger and sent in a summons to surrender. Nothing was received but prevaricating replies, and the negotiation was prolonged till it was too late to do anything that day. The Challenger, however, was ordered to bombard next morning, and the commanding officers returned to Suellaba to greet the French who had just anchored there.

(The French contingent, under Colonel Mayer, was:

1 six-gun battery.

1 section engineers.

1 company European Colonial Infantry.

1st and 2nd Senegalese Battalions (4 companies each.).

In all, with transport, etc., 54 European officers, 364 other Europeans, 1859 native rank and file, 1000 carriers, and 200 animals - making the total force under General Dobell, 643 Europeans, 4319 natives, 4563 carriers and 16 guns, besides the naval field guns.)


As it was too late for them to take part in the attack, the operations went forward as arranged. Early on the 26th part of the flotilla, with advanced companies of troops, went up the Lungasi to try the Mbenga landing, while two transports, with the main body, waited at the mouth of the river till they heard the result. Two companies were landed by 6.30 and sent forward to occupy Yansoki, a village opposite Pitti, while the two powerful armed tugs, Remus and Porpoise, which had recently joined the flotilla from Nigeria, went on with another company to deal with the enemy's entrenched position at Pitti, and, if possible, to push on to the Yapoma Bridge and cut the railway. They were received with a heavy fire which it took them the best part of an hour to silence, but it was done at last, and, landing a party, they again destroyed the telephone. Further progress, however, proved impossible. A little further on a boom of felled trees was discoyered; all attempt to examine it was prevented by heavy maxim fire, and as nothing further could be done they retired. At Mbenga things had gone no better. The advance party had found the swamps too bad even to reach Mbenga Village, and, the troops were withdrawn.


The first attempt, therefore, seemed to be a complete failure, but, in fact, it was not. The governor and commandant had already left the town, and the threat of the


Sept. 27, 1914



reconnaissance on the main line of retreat was too much for the nerves of those who had been left in charge. Next morning (the 27th), as the allied commanding officers were reconnoitring Yoss Point with a view to forcing a landing there, loud explosions were heard and the wireless mast collapsed. Simultaneously a white flag was seen over Government House. Troops were promptly ordered up, but as they could not arrive for some time Captain Fuller offered to land his marines, and before evening Duala, with Bonaberi and the immediate environs, was surrendered unconditionally.


The capture had proved a much easier affair than had been expected, and the booty was large. All the railway rolling stock had been got away, but besides a whole company of 100 Europeans taken prisoners, there were still in the harbour all the Woermann and other ships that had been called in when the warning telegram was issued, though, as the captains explained, they might easily have got away to Brazil. Of these there were eight of the Woermann line and one Hamburg-Amerika ship, amounting in all to over 80,000 tons. Except for parts of their engines all were intact, and most of them had valuable cargoes and plenty of coal. (The reason why these ships remained at Duala appears to have been that in Germany, during the period of strained relations, insurance, against war risks could not be effected except on condition that ships should make the nearest safe port when war broke out and remain there.)

Two others were subsequently raised from the barrage, and the floating dock and dredger, both of which had been scuttled, were also salved, as well as a number of other vessels and launches, including the governor's yacht and a gunboat. Except, indeed, for the wireless installation and the rolling stock, there fell into our hands almost everything that was required to establish a base for further operations.


So far as the naval purpose of the expedition was concerned the object was already attained by the occupation of the port and the destruction of the wireless station, and immediately the Admiralty heard of it they inquired of Captain Fuller how soon he could return to the trade routes. He could only reply that the enemy was in force on all sides of the surrendered territory, which extended only 3 1/2 kilometres on the Duala side of the river, and 1 1/2 on the other, and that he could therefore give no probable date when the Cumberland could safely be spared. There could certainly be no question of her leaving for some time, for, as had happened in all the other enterprises of the same nature elsewhere, the naval object of destroying a hostile base and intelligence centre had insensibly merged into one of territorial conquest,


Aug. 22-Sept. 20, 1914


and on the following day it was decided to inform General Dobell that the ultimate end of the military operations was the complete reduction of the German colony. He was therefore to give his views and proposals, having regard to his own and the enemy's strength, of how the next phase of the operations could proceed.


Such an expression of views was certainly necessary. It was now obvious that the resistance of the enemy in the interior would be a very different thing from that they had set up on the coast. It would seem, in fact, that their policy was to abandon the coast, confident as they were or had been till recently, that the war would be brought to a victorious conclusion long before we could operate successfully in the interior. In the Hinterland, where reconnaissances had been allowed to develop into operations against strategical points within the German frontier, two of our columns had met with reverses, The Yola Column had failed in its attempt to seize Garua and had been forced to retire right back with serious loss. The Cross River Column had succeeded in occupying Nssanakang near the head of the Northern Railway on August 25, but on September 6 it had been surprised by a superior force brought up from Duala and driven out with the loss of two guns, five machine-guns and a heavy list of killed, wounded and prisoners. So serious was the resulting position that, so far from further offence being possible, preparation had to be set on foot for meeting the possibility of an attack on Calabar.


In the north the French main column operating from Fort Lamy had had no better success. It had failed to dislodge the Germans from Kusseri, and our own Northern Column, which had seized a post across the frontier in order to join hands with it, had to be withdrawn to reinforce the shattered Yola Column. It was clear, then, that a steady push inwards from the sea on the natural lines of communication would be our main chance, and there was little prospect - at least till the operation had passed beyond their coastal character - of the Cumberland being released. It seemed a waste of such a ship, but the old exigencies as usual were reasserting themselves. In. combined operations of this nature ships of force had always been found necessary, not for their own intrinsic fighting power, but because the support of the officers, crews, guns, boats and stores was indispensable to give effective weight and movement to the land forces.


Such assistance in this case, where it was a question of organising a sea base, was specially necessary - no less than for the operations which General Dobell had immediately in



Plan - Duala and the Cameroons Estuary



Oct. 1-6, 1914



prospect. The Germans, reinforced by the crews of the captured ships, had retired on three lines, up the Northern Railway from Bonaberi, up the Duala or Wuri River to Ybassi, and on the Midland Line towards Edea. His intention was to press them without delay on all three lines, and the French were at once to drive the enemy beyond the Lungasi River and seize the Yapoma Bridge. In a couple of days they had forced the Germans to retire across the bridge, but they then found they could not get on without the field guns of the Cumberland and Challenger and the assistance of their marines and boats in the river. The assistance was promptly sent, and on October 6 the Senegalese were able in a brilliant rush to carry the bridge and establish themselves on the other bank. To the westward the flotilla had cleared the enemy out of Tiko and other posts to which they were still clinging on the routes to Victoria and Buea.


The whole delta and estuary between the Bimbia and Lungasi Rivers was now in our hands, and the position at Duala sufficiently secure for further action. The same day that the Yapoma Bridge was taken, a reconnaissance in force, headed by the captured gunboat, re-named Sokoto, started up the river for Ybassi. There, however, so hot a reception was encountered that a retirement was necessary in order to reorganise. Meanwhile, the French ships and the Ivy had been detailed for patrolling the coast and dealing with the minor German ports. In these circumstances the Cumberland could not be returned to Admiral Stoddart, and Captain Fuller could only report that neither she nor the Challenger could be spared, at least until Edea had been taken, and that could not be expected before the end of the month.


For the present, then, there was no possibility of Admiral Stoddart providing for the distant section of his station off Pernambuco. For the African side he had enough - or rather would have had enough had it not been that he, too, came under the influence of the disturbance Admiral von Spee's movements were causing all over the world. As we have seen, on the other side of the Atlantic they had already drawn Admiral Cradock down to the southward, with the result that the Pernambuco area was again left without protection, and Admiral Stoddart, who had just heard the Karlsruhe had appeared there, had to recast the disposition of his reduced squadron in order to deal with her as best he could without the assistance of any of the British or French cruisers that were tied to the Cameroons.









(See Map p, 286 and Maps 7 and 14 in case)


Widely as the existence of the German Pacific Squadron affected the dispositions of our Atlantic squadrons, it was naturally those of the Eastern Fleet that were most seriously disturbed. The entrance of Japan into the war, of course, did much to simplify the general problem, but, nevertheless, the disturbing effect was destined to continue for some time. The reasons for this were not so much naval as military and political. Neither the Admiralty nor the Admirals on the spot had much doubt that, with the Fleet of Japan thrown into the scale, the main German Squadron must sooner or later be driven across the Pacific. Their concern was rather how to deal with the detached cruisers which were an abiding menace to trade and still more to the troop convoys. Of these cruisers there were two at large in the area, Koenigsberg and Emden, besides the Prinz Eitel Friedrich and the Geier. The Nurnberg was also a possible raider, and in the Dutch ports and the Philippines were a number of enemy steam vessels which might be converted into commerce destroyers or used as colliers and supply ships. The patrol of the trade routes had therefore to be maintained and supplemented by a strict watch on the ports where these ships lay. Still, if the Navy had only had a clean sheet to work on, the task would, have been well within the capacity of the Eastern Fleet; but owing to the fact that the general military situation did not permit of the Imperial Concentration being postponed till there had been time to round up the enemy's prowling cruisers, the problem was difficult and complicated in the extreme. Indeed, it is not easy to see how the thing could have been done effectively but for the assistance which Japan so opportunely provided.


Her fleet, whose constitution differed considerably from our own, was admirably adapted for the work in hand. It was


Aug. 23, 1914



the outcome, in fact, of rich and well-assimilated war experience only ten years old. Its backbone was a squadron of six modern battleships, two being Dreadnoughts, two similar to our "Lord Nelsons" and two of "King Edward VII" type. There were also five others dating from the late war, of which two were reconstructed Russian prizes; but it was its strength in cruisers that marked its special value to the common cause. Of these there were completed, or nearly ready, six battle cruisers, two being large ones of the British type and four smaller ones of a special Japanese design, and earlier in date than our "Invincibles," averaging about 14,000 tons and carrying four 12" guns, besides a heavy secondary armament. Then came eleven armoured cruisers dating from before the Russian War, two of which were prizes, and then twelve good light cruisers, four of which had been added quite recently. Besides this sea-going fleet, Japan maintained as the result of her recent experience, a large number of other vessels intended for coastal work and narrow seas. Most of them, but not all, consisted of obsolete types retained on the active list for this essential service. There were in all twenty-six of them (including three Russian prizes), classed as first and second class coast defence ships and first and second class gunboats; but if we may judge from the use to which they were put it was coastal attack rather than coastal defence for which they were intended.


The primary object of the Japanese Government was the reduction of Tsingtau. It was at once her own special interest in the war and the best service she could render to the Alliance. For this operation two fleets were constituted. The first fleet, or rather the main part of it, comprising three battleships (one "Dreadnought" and two "Lord Nelsons"), four light cruisers and a flotilla of destroyers with its leader, was told off primarily for escort duty, but until the troops were ready to move, it took up a position in the south of the Yellow Sea to guard Japanese waters against offensive action by Admiral von Spee. It had also a division of battle cruisers, but these were used to form special squadrons for seeking out the enemy in the Pacific. The second fleet included three old battleships and two coast defence ships of the first class, all five of them being Russian prizes, three armoured cruisers and a destroyer flotilla with a light cruiser leader. This was the attacking fleet, and to it the Triumph and her destroyer, the Usk, were attached. Practically all the rest of the active cruiser force was devoted in co-operation with our Eastern Fleet to keeping control of the trade and transport routes, hunting down the enemy's scattered cruisers and depriving


Aug. 24-25, 1914


him of his minor bases. As a first step the second-class battle cruiser Ibuki was sent with the new light cruiser Chikuma to join Admiral Jerram's flag at Singapore. The Japanese also took over the guard of the Formosa Strait and its adjacent waters down to the approaches to Hongkong with a force designated "The Third Squadron," which con sisted of the light cruiser Tsushima, two new first class gun boats and four of the second class. Admiral Jerram could thus devote his attention to the section of his station which extended from Hongkong to the Malacca Strait, and particularly to the Singapore area, to prevent Admiral von Spee from breaking into the Indian Ocean and attacking the Indian convoys.


The movement of these convoys constituted one of the most important factors in the situation. Their ports of departure were Karachi and Bombay, and the usual programme was that the convoys were composed of two groups of transports, one from each port, that from Karachi leaving the day after that from Bombay. They and their respective escorts then met at sea and made for a rendezvous at the British islands of Khorya Morya on the south Arabian coast. This formed the first stage of the voyage. The next was to Aden, and the third up the Red Sea to Suez. As the Koenigsberg was still unlocated, and believed to be cruising in or near the Indian Ocean, escort was a grave difficulty, since each group must be guarded by at least one ship capable of dealing with the German cruiser, and the Indian Marine ships did not come up to this standard. There was also the possibility that Admiral von Spee might appear on the scene. Not only, therefore, was the whole of Admiral Peirse's squadron absorbed in the work, but he had to be reinforced from the Mediterranean. It was for this reason that the light cruiser Chatham, had been sent to him, as well as the Duke of Edinburgh and Black Prince from, the 1st Cruiser Squadron, the two latter for the special purpose of dealing with the Red Sea. Moreover, in order to carry the rearrangement to its logical conclusion and bring the station limits into conformity with the strategical situation, the whole Red Sea, from Aden to Suez, was at Admiral Peirse's suggestion, transferred to his command.


The first echelon of the main Indian Expeditionary Force consisted of the Lahore Division with part of the Secunderabad Cavalry Brigade. Being urgently needed for the security of Egypt, its first two groups were timed to sail on August 24 and 25, and the second two groups in the first days of September. The second echelon, consisting mainly of the


Aug. 25-31, 1914



Meerut Division and the rest of the Secunderabad Cavalry, was to follow about the middle of the month. There was also a single transport sailing for Mombasa with an Indian battalion, the advance guard of the reinforcements intended for British East Africa, and to her the Fox had to be devoted till she met the Pegasus of the Cape Squadron, a ship which, in spite of her inferiority in guns and speed, was held to be capable of giving "a good account of the Koenigsberg. Further, by the middle of September it was hoped to send, an expedition against German East Africa and three more battalions to Mombasa for British East Africa. Even with the increased force at Admiral Peirse's disposal it was found impossible to keep strictly to the time-table. Still less was it possible for him, with so much convoy work on his hands, to deal adequately with the trade routes, or to attempt to form a covering force to the eastward against the German squadron. Such cover, according to British ideas, was essential for regularising the position, and it was here the convention with the Japanese had an immediate effect. For as soon as it was known that they had declared war, Admiral Jerram was able to supply the necessary covering force from his own squadron. With this intention he had been concentrating his main strength at Singapore instead of making a sweep to the Mariana, Caroline and Marshall Islands, feeling sure that if the Germans were coaling there they would be gone before he could arrive. He therefore contented himself with arranging for the Askold, when she joined, to search the Mariana group, and then, if possible, to destroy the German wireless station at Anguar in the Pelew group.


Such intelligence of the enemy as was reaching him indicated that if the Singapore position was to be made good there was no time to lose. He had learnt that German auxiliaries were using the Dutch islands in the Java Sea, and there were other indications that pointed to at least a possibility that Admiral von Spee might be intending to concentrate to the southward of Sumatra for a raid into the Indian Ocean. Seeing how entirely Admiral Patey was occupied with the Rabaul Expedition, such a plan was quite, Possible, and Admiral Jerram alone could fill the wide gap between him and Admiral Peirse. He had decided, therefore, with the bulk of his squadron and the two Japanese cruisers, as soon as they arrived, to make a thorough search of the Dutch islands. His auxiliary cruisers were to be employed on the trade routes between Hongkong and Singapore and watching enemy ships in the Philippines. The two sloops Cadmus and Clio with five destroyers were formed into a


Sept. 1-14, 1914


squadron corresponding to the Japanese 3rd Squadron at Formosa, and were based at Sandakan in British North Borneo to watch the channels south of the Philippines between the Celebes and South China seas. A similar squadron, composed of the French gun-vessel D'Iberville and three French destroyers, was based at Penang as a patrol for the western entrance to the Malacca Strait. This patrol the Admiral subsequently strengthened with the Dupleix, since her engines were so defective that she could not act with the main squadron, and her commander, Captain Daveluy, was placed in command of the whole patrol. As for the two Russian cruisers, the orders of the Askold had to be cancelled, for by the time she and the Zhemchug reached Hongkong both had to be diverted to escort duty in order to take charge of three transports which were to bring British regiments from Singapore, Hongkong and Tientsin to Calcutta, and amongst them was the company of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry that had been doing so well in the Triumph. During the first fortnight of September, while group after group of the Indian Convoys were streaming away to Aden, the elaborately planned search of the Dutch islands was carried out by the Minotaur, Yarmouth, Hampshire and the two Japanese cruisers which joined on September 5, No hostile warships were seen, or heard of, but no less than thirty-seven German steamships were found held up in the Dutch ports, besides twenty-two in the Philippines. Nearly every steamer met was British, trade was brisk, and there appeared to be no difficulty in getting cargoes. The safety of British trade seemed, indeed, as complete as in time of peace. Yet the truth was it was on the eve of receiving its first shock in Eastern waters, and the most interesting feature in Admiral Jerram's movement is how near it came to preventing that shock from ever being given.


On August 30 a rumour had come in that the Koenigsberg had appeared about Sabang at the north end of Sumatra. Since her capture of the City of Winchester in the Gulf of Aden on the second day of the war nothing had been heard of her, and as her base at Dar-es-Salaam had been destroyed by the Astraea it was quite possible she was seeking new ground. Admiral Jerram had therefore sent the Hampshire (Captain H. W. Grant) to Acheh Head at the extreme north-westerly end of Sumatra to clear up the situation. Between this point and the Nicobar Islands, about 100 miles north-west of it, all the trade of the Indian Ocean in and out of the Malacca Strait has to pass, and from now onward it became a regular patrol station. But for the moment it was unoccupied, for on


Sept. 2-9, 1914



September 2, when the rumour of the Koenigsberg being in the vicinity proved to have no foundation, the Admiral ordered the Hampshire - in pursuance of his plan - to move down to search the west coast of Sumatra and the unfrequented chain of islands that lie along it. Nothing could have been better timed. For as the Hampshire started south to carry out her new instructions the Emden was coming up the same coast on the opposite course. After being detached with her collier, the Markomannia, from Admiral von Spee's squadron in the Marshall Islands, she had coaled at the German station of Angaur in the Pelew group. Thence she had gone through the little used Molucca Pass, and so by the Flores Sea to the Bali Strait, where she passed out into the Indian Ocean. Keeping well out of sight to seaward, she then made her way along the south of Java and past the Sunda Strait till September 4, when,in order to coal again from her tender, she came into the Sumatra coast somewhere behind Simalur or Hog Island, the most northerly of the Sumatra chain. Here it was she had the first of her narrow escapes. For it so happened that the Hampshire had been searching this same island only the day before on a rumour that the Koenigsberg was there, but finding nothing she passed on down the islands, and so must have been within an ace of running into the Emden next day. As it was she missed her, and the Emden was left a free run into Indian waters, while on the opposite course the Hampshire, still searching the islands, carried on to Padang, and the Admiral was searching round Java.


In this operation of the China Squadron Admiral Patey could take no share. Admiral Jerram's suggestion that his colleague should supplement it by a search in the Marshall, Islands was natural enough, for there Admiral von Spee was fairly certain to be if he was not coming to the Indian Ocean. He was, in fact, in the eastern part of the group when Admiral Jerram made the proposal. Thence it was that on August 29 he had detached the Prinz Eitel Friedrich and Cormoran to raid Australian waters with the object, so the crews were told, of misleading the British Admirals and facilitating his own escape to South American waters. After taking this precaution he himself put to sea and passed on eastwards into the solitudes of the Central Pacific. His movements and intentions were, of course, quite unknown, and in operating against Rabaul Admiral Patey had to use practically his whole force. The rendezvous which had been given for the concentration of the Australian squadron was Rossel Lagoon, in the islands off the eastern extremity of New Guinea, and here, on Sepember 9 Admiral Patey met the Sydney and Encounter, which


Sept, 10-11, 1914


had brought from Port Moresby three destroyers, two submarines, five colliers and the Australian armed transport Berrima with 1500 troops, under Colonel William Holmes, partly Australian infantry and partly Naval Reserve. The Melbourne was to join later, but for the moment, she was detached on a special mission to destroy the German wireless station at Nauru or Pleasant Island which lay 1000 miles away in the direction of the Marshall Islands. On September 10 the expedition proceeded for its objective, the Sydney being sent ahead with the two destroyers to reconnoitre Simpson Harbour and the adjacent anchorages, primarily to see if there was a defence patrol. But there was also the possibility that Admiral von Spee might be there. By 3.0 a.m. on the 11th, however, the Sydney was able to report. all clear, and three hours later the Admiral arrived with the Berrima, having captured a German collier, as he came in. The Sydney had on board two small landing parties of Naval Reserve men, and these she was now ordered to disembark at Herbertshohe and Kabakaul. The surprise was complete; no resistance was made, and the two parties began to advance inland to where the wireless station was now known to be. The party from Herbertshohe met with little opposition, but had no luck. They failed to reach the station and were recalled in the evening.


With the Kabakaul party it was different. The Germans had fled inland, but natives were about who pointed out a road leading to the wireless station. It was a narrow trail flanked by dense-bush, and before the men had advanced up it a mile they were fired on. The Admiral at once ordered the Berrima to the spot, and by 10 a.m. two more companies of Naval Reserve and two machine-gun sections were ashore. The advance was then resumed, but a force of about 150 black police under German officers and non-commissioned officers continued to resist. The Australian troops, however, new as they were, were equal to the occasion. While Admiral Patey was engaged in the Samoa Expedition they had had a long wait at Palm Island in Halifax Bay, Queensland, and it had been employed training them in landing and bush fighting. They were therefore quite at home, and by fighting their way through the bush, and avoiding the road which had been mined and entrenched, they gradually pushed the enemy back without much loss. At noon four companies of infantry were landed and moved up in support. Still progress was slow, and as there seemed no prospect of reaching the station that day an order was given for the troops to retire to the coast before dark. But just then a formidable entrenchment


Sept. 11-14, 1914



which defended the station surrendered, and by a smart piece of work the whole wireless installation was seized. As the Germans had destroyed the tower before retiring it was useless for our people to hold it, and taking away all the gear that the enemy had had no time to remove, the party returned to the coast, with the loss of two officers and four men killed and an officer and three men wounded. For the Germans further resistance was now hopeless, but the Governor, as on Admiral Patey's previous visit, had retired to Toma, ten miles inland, bent on making negotiations as dilatory as possible. This was the more annoying as the Admiral had just heard that the Australia as well as the Sydney and Melbourne would be required to escort the main Australian convoy to Aden, and that it was to start on the 27th. Early on the 12th, therefore, a summons was sent up to Toma by motor cycle, but by night there was no answer except that one would be sent next day. Meanwhile the Melbourne had come in to report she had destroyed the wireless station at Nauru, and the Berrima moved to Rabaul and occupied it with four companies of infantry and one of Naval Reserve.


Next morning there was a report that the missing Geier was at Kawieng on the north coast of New Guinea with a large merchant cruiser, and as the Melbourne was about to start for Sydney she was ordered to examine the place with the destroyer Warrego. Nothing was found except the Government yacht Nusa, which was captured and sent back with the Warrego. From the Governor no answer came till 5.0 p.m., and, it was then of so dilatory a nature that the Admiral and Brigadier agreed that next morning an advance should be made on Toma to arrest him. Between Toma and Herbertshohe was a ridge, and a plan had been captured showing that it was fortified. It was arranged, therefore, that the Encounter should shell it, next morning to clear the way for the troops. The plan was entirely successful, and when they drew near the place in the afternoon they were met by a flag of truce, saying that the Governor was ready to capitulate and would come in next day.


So far all was well, but the success of the day was marred by an unhappy accident. The Admiral had sent out the destroyer Parramatta and the submarine AE 1 (Lieut.-Commander T. F. Besant) to patrol east of Cape Gazelle. In the evening, according to orders, the Parramatta returned, but she returned alone, and nothing more was ever heard of the submarine. A prolonged search failed to find any trace of her, and so the first exploit of the Australian Navy was clouded


Sept. 14-15, 1914


by the loss of their first submarine, with her commander, two lieutenants and thirty-two men.


For some time there was doubt about the Governor's good faith. Information was obtained that there was a road which led from Toma westward to the coast at Pondo, and that he was probably intending to escape that way in the Geier or the Komet. As a precaution the Sydney was sent round to clear the matter up. The Governor, however, held to his word. He kept his appointment on the 15th, and after four hours' discussion the preliminaries were agreed. The capitulation covered not only Neu Pommern but the whole of German New Guinea - that is, all the German possessions in the Pacific which were administered from Rabaul, and these included all the Bismarck Archipelago, together with the populous island of Bougainville in the Solomons and Kaiser Wilhelm's Land in New Guinea, in all between 80,000 and 90,000 square miles. Thus all the eastern half of New Guinea and all the Solomon group were now in British hands, and Neu Pommern and Neu Mecklenberg were once more New Britain and New Ireland.


A base for further operations could now be established at Simpson Harbour. It will be recalled that under the original plan it was intended to use it for the occupation of certain German stations within reach - particularly Angaur and Nauru. But, as the Admiral had already pointed out, there was a serious objection to this course. The islands in question were not self-supporting, and to put a garrison in them would entail a regular system of supply ships. As to Nauru, this was confirmed by the Melbourne, and it was decided to defer both enterprises. The paramount call on Admiral Patey's squadron was for the escort of the Australian and New Zealand Expeditionary Forces for Europe, and their departure could no longer be delayed. The plan had just been settled. To avoid any possibility of an attack from Admiral von Spee the convoy was to proceed by the south of Australia, instead of by the usual route north-about through the Torres Strait. Fremantle in Western Australia was to be its concentration point. There it would be met by Admiral Patey in the Australia, and he would escort it across the Indian Ocean with the Sydney and Melbourne, as well as with the Hampshire from the China Squadron, which was to be detached for the purpose. This Admiral Jerram could well afford to do. He had just returned to Singapore from his fortnight's search of the Dutch islands and had found nothing stirring in his waters. He even suggested detaching, three of his best ships, Minotaur, Ibuki and Chikuma to



Plan - German New Guinea, with Inset of Rabaul

(click plan for near original-sized image)



Sept. 15-18, 1914



Simpson Harbour so as to cover the route of the Australasian convoy against a raid from Admiral von Spee. It was to carry out this urgent escort duty that on September 15, as soon as the capitulation was signed, Admiral Patey sailed with the Australia and Sydney, leaving the guard of the new base to the Montcalm, which had just arrived from Noumea. He had not gone far, however, before he had cause to feel seriously anxious for the safety of what he was leaving behind him. In the evening of the day after he sailed he received from New Zealand news of the German squadron having appeared at Samoa, and also heard from Admiral Jerram that the Minotaur and her Japanese consorts could not leave Singapore to take up their covering position till the 18th. It was not with any surprise, therefore, that in the night of the 17th he received from the Admiralty an order to return to Rabaul. Indeed, there was other news which had suddenly and profoundly disturbed the whole system in the East. The convoy arrangements were thrown into confusion and a far-reaching redistribution of force became inevitable.








(See Maps 7, 13 and 14 in case)


In the afternoon, of September 14 - that is, the day after the British flag was hoisted at Rabaul - a startling wireless message was received at Calcutta to say that a German cruiser was operating off the Hoogly. It came from the S.S. City of Rangoon, which had just left the river and was hurrying back. When only a few hours out she had met the Italian S.S. Loredano, which on the previous day had been stopped by the Emden about 300 miles down the trade route to Colombo, and the Italian captain had observed that the raider had four prizes in company.


The surprise was complete. Although the Japanese had ascertained that the Emden was not at Tsingtau, nothing had been heard of her since the war began, and it was taken as fairly certain she was with Admiral von Spee. That she should have slipped through the net which Admiral Jerram had spread and suddenly appeared far up in the Bay of Bengal was beyond all calculation. No part of the Eastern seas, was regarded as more secure. Although, owing to preoccupation with the Indian convoys, we had not a single cruiser in the Bay, trade had quite recovered the shock of the outbreak of war, and so far as the shortage of shipping allowed was fast recovering its normal volume. So complete, indeed, was the sense of security expressed by the Indian Authorities that masters, in spite of Admiralty instructions, were in this section keeping to the usual track and steaming with undimmed lights. Had the most ordinary precautions been taken there must have been a much milder story to tell, but as it was the Emden had an easy task.


On September 5, when after so narrowly escaping, the Hampshire she left her secret coaling place in Sumatra, in company with the Markomannia she had steamed straight for Ceylon, and on reaching a point about 200 miles from the coast she turned northward, striking the Colombo-Calcutta track about 150 miles south of the latitude of Madras. Here.


Sept. 10-14, 1914



early on September 10, she captured a Greek collier, the Pontoporos, with 6000 tons of Bengal coal, and kept her for her own use. She then continued up the track, and about 250 miles south-east of Madras met the Indus of 8,413 tons, which was under charter as a transport for the next convoy from Bombay, and was on her way there empty from Calcutta. She was sunk by gun fire and her crew transferred to the Markomannia. The following afternoon, about 150 miles further up the trade route and due east of Madras, she met another, the Lovat, of 6,102 tons, similarly employed, and her she dealt with in the same way. Still proceeding up the track, she found nothing for some 250 miles, except about midnight on the 12th the Kabinga, a ship of 4,657 tons two days out from Calcutta to New York. As her cargo was American owned, she was spared, but ordered to follow her captor.


Next morning, the 13th, the Emden had better luck, for on this day she made two good captures. The first was the Killin, with 5000 tons of Bengal coal for Colombo. This ship, too, she sank by gun fire after transferring her crew to the Kabinga. The same afternoon she stopped the Diplomat, with 7000 tons of general cargo for London, including 30,000 chests of tea. None of these ships made any attempt to get away. All were on the direct track and all steamed quietly to meet the Emden, assuming she was a British cruiser. But now the luck turned. The next ship she met was the Italian S.S. Loredano. She, too, was stopped, and on her nationality being ascertained, she was asked to take over the prisoners. This her master, Captain Giacopolo, refused to do on the ground that he had insufficient provisions, and on being dismissed he promptly made back for the Hoogly. Thus it was he met and saved the City of Rangoon, a fine new ship with a cargo valued at well over half a million. And not only her; for, being equipped with wireless, the City of Rangoon was able to spread the alarm instantly, and so all ships about to sail were held up, including three more chartered transports which might well have shared the fate of the other two. She, too, returned to Calcutta, and it was not till she arrived that the details of the raid were ascertained.


But already the whole field was astir and the hunt was up. Admiral Peirse, in the act of preparing to get the second echelon of the Indian troops away, could do little. But Admiral Jerram on the 14th, when the first news came in, had just returned from his search round the Dutch islands, and had with flag at Singapore the Minotaur, Hampshire, Chikuma and Empress of Japan. The Yarmouth was also


Sept. 15-17, 1914


there in dock, the Ibuki was coming in from the Java Sea, and the Dupleix repairing at Penang. It was not till the night of September 15-16 that word of what had happened reached him. He at once ordered away the Hampshire and Chikuma in chase; the Yarmouth followed next day (the 17th). A few days later he took measures to watch the possible points in his own vicinity to which the Emden might return to coal. For this purpose the Minotaur and Ibuki were available for the moment. Minotaur was therefore sent to the west coast of Sumatra and Ibuki to the Cocos Islands, with orders to remain there until they were required for other duties which, as will be seen directly, the Admiralty had assigned to them.


The chasing ships were placed under Captain H. W. Grant of the Hampshire, and he was given a free hand. His plan was to make across to a point fifty miles east of Dondra Head in the south of Ceylon with the Hampshire and Chikuma, and then up the trade route to Madras and False Point; while the Yarmouth (Captain H. L. Cochrane) made for Rangoon, searching the Nicobar and Andaman Islands on the way; but as she developed machinery defects and had to put into Penang, he took her line himself and sent the Chikuma alone to Ceylon. The Dupleix, as soon as she was ready, was to take charge of the D'Iberville and the Malacca Strait patrol.


Such was the news that came hard on the heels of Admiral von Spee's appearance at Samoa. Up till this time his whereabouts had been quite uncertain. On September 7 the Nurnberg - last heard of at Honolulu - had appeared off the British cable station at Fanning Island in the Central Pacific, and after wrecking the apparatus and cutting the cable had disappeared again. Whether she was with the squadron or detached, as the Emden appeared to be, could not be known. The general belief was that Admiral von Spee was still lurking in the Caroline or Marshall Islands, and so strong was this impression that when it was found that neither Admiral Jerram nor Admiral Patey could get there, the Japanese had formed a special squadron to make the search themselves and incidentally to destroy the German base at Jaluit in the Marshall group. This force, which came to be known as the "First South Sea Squadron," was under Vice-Admiral Yamaya, and comprised two of the minor battle cruisers (Kurama, Tsukuba), one armoured cruiser (Asama) and a division of destroyers. It sailed from Yokosuka on September 14, the day the Emden was first heard of in the Bay of Bengal; but too late to have a chance of finding what it sought.


Sept. 7-15, 1914



Admiral von Spee was far away in the Central Pacific. On September 7 he had anchored to coal at Christmas Island. On the previous day the Nurnberg had rejoined him, and next morning had been detached to Fanning Island. By this time he knew that Samoa was in British hands. He had heard it at sea as early as September 3, and had been able to detect the presence of the Australia, with three other British ships and one Japanese. To retake the island, he knew, was out of the question. He could not provide a strong enough landing party, nor did he wish to waste ammunition and destroy German property by a bombardment, but he thought there was a possibility of surprising the ships which would probably have been left there on guard. He now determined to make the attempt, and on the 8th, leaving the Nurnberg with his supply ships, he started south with the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. On September 14 they approached Samoa from two directions to effect the surprise, unaware that the disposition which he was expecting to find had been deliberately avoided. It was just to frustrate such a venture that the defence of the place had been left entirely in the hands of the military. Not a ship of Admiral Patey's squadron was there, and without firing a shot the German cruisers disappeared to the north-westward.


With this episode the Admiralty had at last something on which it could take definite action, but the natural deductions were misleading. In the first place, since Admiral von Spee had come and gone without doing anything, it seemed fairly clear that, thanks to the rapid destruction of the German wireless stations, his information was defective, and that he had expected to find Samoa still a German possession. In the second place, his presence in the vicinity of Australasian waters tended to shake the conviction that the pressure of the Allied Fleets was forcing upon him a concentration in South American waters. The movement of the Dresden down the east coast and the disappearance of the Leipzig from Californian waters had tended to confirm the inference. Admiral Cradock, as we have seen, was moving down to the Magellan Strait in anticipation of Admiral von Spee's arrival, and on September 10 the Defence had been ordered out from the Dardanelles to enable him to deal with the on-coming enemy decisively. But the sudden discovery that the German Admiral was still in the Western Pacific, coupled with the appearance of the Emden in the Bay of Bengal, naturally modified the appreciation.


The Defence, which had reached Malta, had her orders cancelled; for now the immediate care was not South America,



Sept. 14-21, 1914


but the main Australian Convoy and the New Guinea Expedition, whose work was still unfinished, and on September 16 were issued the new instructions for the China and Australian Squadrons which had brought Admiral Patey back to Rabaul. The Australia, with the Montcalm, was now to cover the operation which the reserve of the Rabaul Expeditionary Force was about to carry out for the occupation of Friedrich-Wilhelm Harbour in German New Guinea, and when it was complete they were to go in search of Admiral von Spee's two cruisers. The instructions for the China Squadron were also reversed. To relieve the pressure on the Eastern Fleet the Japanese Government at this time had consented to place at Admiral Jerram's disposal another armoured cruiser, the Nisshin, one of the two they had purchased from the Argentine Government on the eve of the Russian War. With three Japanese cruisers now at their disposal, the idea of the Admiralty was that one of them with the Minotaur should take charge of the Australian Convoy in place of Admiral Patey, and, together with the Sydney, escort it from Fremantle to Aden.


As there was still plenty of time, Admiral Jerram, as we have seen, detached the Minotaur and Ibuki to watch the west coast of Sumatra and the Cocos Islands on the look-out for the Emden. As for the chase itself, the Admiralty instructions were that it was to be carried on with the Hampshire and Yarmouth, while the Melbourne would remain at Admiral Patey's disposal. It was also hoped that the two remaining Japanese cruisers, would be sent to Rabaul to assist him in bringing the Gneisenau and Scharnhorst to action. As the arrangement involved the China flagship leaving the station, Admiral Jerram was directed to shift the flag to the merchant cruiser Empress of Japan. But this seemed to him the waste of a good ship, and he had special use for her. On September 14 and 15 the Sandakan Patrol had captured two colliers, one the Tannenfels, a German ship from Batavia with 6000 tons of coal apparently intended for cruisers working in the Malay Archipelago, the other the Rio Passig, an American from Manila with 4000 tons, which had been to Yap, Angaur and Ceram in search of Admiral von Spee, It was a fine and timely haul by which the Sandakan Patrol well justified its existence, and Admiral Jerram was anxious to get the two prizes to Singapore. It was for this service he wanted the Empress of Japan, and in order to release her he received, permission to fly his flag ashore.


So everything was satisfactorily arranged to meet the new situation as the Admiralty saw it. But now it was that the political deflections already referred to began to


Sept. 21, 1914



distort it. Under the existing arrangement the New Zealand Convoy, which had grown to ten ships and was assembling at Wellington, was to leave that port on September 25 to join the Australian Convoy at St. George's Sound, Albany, and was to be escorted there by the three "P" class cruisers of the local squadron. It meant a voyage of over 3000 miles, and, in view of the last news of German movements, the New Zealand Government began to feel uneasy for the safety of their troops. Though the "P" class cruisers were incapable of dealing with anything more formidable than armed merchant cruisers, this in the opinion of the Admiralty was all the protection that was required. An attack from Admiral von Spee seemed out of the question. So bad, apparently, was his information that he could not know of the New Zealand Convoy, and if he did it was inconceivable that he would venture to steam 2000 miles southward into waters where he could get no coal, and where, for all he could tell, he would meet the, Australia. To increase the escort would mean that the further operations which lay before the New Guinea Expedition, would have to be abandoned, and so successful had been the policy of destroying the German centres of intelligence that the Admiralty were very anxious to complete the work. This view the New Zealand Government accepted, though still with reluctance, and it was settled on September 21 that the convoy would sail on the 25th.


But in loyally deferring to the Admiralty view they had not reckoned with public opinion. It was, of course, impossible for the people generally to understand the situation. Even less familiar than the public at home with real naval history, they had no basis of appreciation, except a vague impression that the old naval wars were a succession of rapid and brilliant victories, which rendered a cowed and impotent enemy incapable of interfering with our control of the seas. The patient and arduous preparation which made these victories possible and the no less toilsome work of reaping their fruits were almost a sealed book. It was not to be expected that they could appreciate the prolonged and methodical operations by which the Admiralty were making the Pacific untenable to the Germans and, by which alone it could be, made untenable. All they could see were the failures, important cables cut, raiders breaking through our lines and the main force of the enemy moving apparently at its pleasure.


Nor was the feeling confined to New Zealand. It spread to Australia. At first the confidence had been complete - so much so indeed that, as in the case of Canada, the readiness of both Governments to send off their transports unescorted


Sept. 13-18, 1914


had had to be restrained by the Admiralty. The reaction was all the stronger. Open complaints were heard of the management of the Australian Fleet and regrets that the two Dominions had not kept the control in their own hands. Then, at least, they would have had their splendid contributions to the Navy - the Australia and New Zealand - to guard their own men.


Fresh news of the Emden's exploits added fuel to the fire. After dismissing the Italian ship on September 13 she had left the main trade route for False Bay to coal, in company with her tender and her two prizes, the Greek collier and the Kabinga. The move took her to the coastwise track, and in the evening of the 14th, about thirty miles south-east of False Point, she ran into the Trabboch from Negapatam to Calcutta. This ship Captain von Mueller sank the same night, and then, as his wireless was telling him the Loredano had spread the alarm, he dismissed the Kabinga with his prisoners for Calcutta. He had first disabled her wireless, but he soon found it had been repaired and that she was talking to Calcutta.


Clearly he could not keep his cruising ground much longer, but his luck was not yet done. As he made for False Bay to coal, the Clan Matheson came up with her lights unobscured as usual, and she, too, was captured and sunk. But this was the end of it. All the 15th and 16th he cruised off the Sandheads, like Surcouf in the old days, but not a ship was seen. Wireless had closed the book on the game of the famous French privateers, and all sailings had been stopped. There was now no time to lose, and after coaling from the Greek collier off False Point he made across the Bay for Rangoon, in ignorance, of course, that that was the precise point for which Captain Grant was making in search of him.


In the evening of September 18, when the Emden, twenty-four miles south-east of the Rangoon River, was making over the crew of her last prize to the Dovre, a Norwegian ship with which she had fallen in, the Hampshire was coming north up the east side of the Nicobar Islands, Next day the Dovre put into Rangoon with her news, and about noon Captain Grant had it. He had unfortunately been compelled to proceed to Port Blair in the Andamans, for to his despair the Indian authorities kept sending him messages en clair, and he had to get to a cable in order to dispatch an urgent request that they should desist from thus revealing his presence. His chance of getting hold of the chase was already seriously compromised, but he held away again on a different course - keeping on to the northward instead of


Sept. 19-20, 1914



going to Rangoon, in hopes of cutting the Emden off. At the same time the Chikuma was passing westward across the mouth of the Bay, and the Yarmouth was just completing her repairs at Penang. Unfortunately, Captain von Mueller had taken in the unlucky signals, and they assured him that several British cruisers were working to the south of him. Knowing, therefore, that the mouth of the Bay was dangerous ground, he coaled under way from the Markomannia in the Gulf of Martaban, and then held away to the westward just in time to cross ahead of the Hampshire, and thus he escaped her for the second time. Meanwhile Captain Grant, not finding the Emden where, with very accurate judgment, he had expected to intercept her, had decided to make a sweep round the head of the Bay to her previous cruising ground, while the Yarmouth, which was able to sail on the 20th, made a cast up to Rangoon inside the islands, and the Chikuma held on for the Colombo focal point.


The depressing effect of the Emden's escape was all the deeper since it did not come alone. Immediately on the heels of the news there was something even worse. For now the Koenigsberg, after her long disappearance, had come to light again with a startling suddenness. At Zanzibar was lying the Pegasus (Commander Ingles), She had been searching the coast about Dar-es-Salaam for intelligence of the missing German cruiser, and in the course of her cruise had developed defects which called for an adjustment of her machinery. For such work a protected anchorage such as Mombasa was desirable, but as Commander Ingles's general orders were to protect Zanzibar, and the place was inclined to panic whenever he left, he decided to do the work there - especially as a supply vessel with stores and men for his ship was due at the port. For some time there had been no wireless signs to indicate that the Koenigsberg was in the vicinity, but as a precaution the armed tug Helmuth was kept out in the South Channel as guard. The men slept at the guns during the night and steam was ordered at two hours' notice, Still, the position was highly unsatisfactory. For so weak and old a ship as the Pegasus to be left without support was in any case full of danger, but the urgent call of the Indian Convoy still stood in the way of a sounder disposition, and the Koenigsberg cleverly seized her opportitnity.


At 5.25 a.m. on September 20 the Helmuth observed a vessel coming slowly up the South Channel. As this entrance was forbidden to merchant vessels, the tug steamed out to warn her off. The stranger at once broke the German ensign, fired two rounds of blank and increased speed. She


Sept. 20-21, 1914



was clearly the Koenigsberg, but the Helmuth failed to get a warning to the Pegasus, which was lying off the town., At about 9000 yards the German opened fire, and before the Pegasus could reply she was straddled. In any case the British ship was outranged. She tried to return the fire, but all her shots fell short, and after about eight minutes, during which she fired some fifty rounds, all her engaged broadside guns were disabled. Notwithstanding her helpless condition, the Koenigsberg, after a pause of five minutes, continued firing on her, and then about half an hour after opening fire turned and steamed away without doing further damage.


The town was not touched. All the raider did ashore was to destroy a dummy wireless station. A large collier, the Banffshire, with several thousand tons of coal on board, was left alone, and with her boats did excellent rescue work; nor was the lighthouse or the cable interfered with. The Pegasus was still afloat, though she was badly holed on the water line and had lost twenty-four killed and fifty-five wounded, besides seven, including two officers, who died of their wounds. Her engines being found to be uninjured, an attempt was made to beach her, but it failed, and she turned over and sank. Hurried and nervous as had been the Koenigsberg's action, she had won a striking success. It is true such regrettable incidents were fully anticipated by the Admiralty when they found themselves involved in moving troops before they had had time to clear the seas. In this case the trouble was mainly due to the importunate demands of an outlying station for naval protection which there was no adequate means of providing. None the less, in public opinion a mistake had been made, and in Eastern waters the Navy had suffered an appreciable loss of prestige.


The best that can be said of the unfortunate incident is that it was not permitted to alter the policy on which we were launched. To the Indian Convoys the presence of the Koenigsberg was allowed to make no difference. The Bombay group of the second echelon had sailed that day, under escort of the Swiftsure, Fox and Dufferin, to the number of twenty-nine transports, including three with the balance of the force destined for Mombasa. The Karachi group of eleven sail started as usual next day (September 21) with the Dartmouth and Hardinge. Even the three Mombasa transports were not detained. In due course they parted company and proceeded independently with the Dartmouth and Fox for escort. Provision for hunting down the Koenigsberg was immediately made by ordering the Chatham, which had taken the last convoy up the Red Sea, to seek her out, and


Sept. 22, 1914



with her the Dartmouth was to work as soon as her convoy reached Mombasa. In addition, the Weymouth was ordered down from the Mediterranean for the same service, and thus to each of the German cruisers three of our own were devoted. It meant, of course, a further difficulty in providing for the Indian Convoys, but as the battleships Ocean and Goliath were already on their way to relieve the light cruisers of escort work, the difficulty would be overcome before the next big convoy was due to sail.


In face of the measures taken it was not likely that either the Emden or Koenigsberg could long keep going as they were, but this was a strictly naval view which could do little to quiet the prevailing uneasiness. All public opinion had to go upon was that, instead of the two raiding cruisers being brought to book, one of our own cruisers had been destroyed and half a dozen merchant ships sunk. To the Admiralty such events were but set-backs, incidental to their measured advance to a complete command of the sea, and. Inevitable if the lines of that advance were confused, as they necessarily were, by extraneous calls. But to the Australasian Governments, unversed in the inscrutable lore of the sea, they were only evidence that the Admiralty had failed; and with the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, as it seemed, within striking distance of their convoys, they could no longer rest assured that the Navy knew its business. The prevailing, anxiety was completed by a rumour that Admiral von Spee, after leaving Samoa, had gone to Fiji - that is, direct for the convoy route - and the result was that the New Zealand government felt that it could not allow its troops to sail as arranged, and the concentration of the transports at Wellington stopped. Disconcerting as this resolution was to the nicely-adjusted plans of the Admiralty, it was immediately recognised that there was but one thing to do. The appreciation of the effort the Dominions were making for the Empire was so keen that, in spite of the dislocations that were involved, there could be no hesitation in meeting their views.


There was, furthermore, an additional reason for taking this attitude. The same evening that the New Zealand Government announced its decision, news spread that the Emden had struck another blow of even higher daring than before. Since she had been located off Rangoon all trace of her was lost. Indeed, so entirely did she seem to have disappeared that on September 22 the Colombo-Calcutta trade route was declared open again. Yet that same evening, about 9.30, she appeared off Madras and began bombarding the


Sept. 21-24, 1914


Burmah Company's oil tanks which stood near the sea front. Two of them, containing nearly half a million gallons of kerosene, were set on fire and entirely consumed. A few shots also fell in the town, and some hit the British India S.S. Chupra which was lying there. In all five people were killed and a dozen or so wounded, but before more harm could be done the batteries opened fire and the Emden made off to the southward.


Once more her position was not a little precarious. Captain Grant, having searched False Bay that day, was coming down the coast; while the Chikuma, having coaled at Colombo on the 21st, was coming up the east side of Ceylon with two colliers for Madras in her charge. Thus when the Emden was off Madras the Hampshire was about 300 miles to the northward and the Chikuma little more to the southward, and she would have been much nearer but for the fact that by some misunderstanding she waited for instructions at Colombo after coaling instead of proceeding on her original orders to Madras,


Nevertheless the Emden was still in danger. At 6 a.m. on the 23rd she was reported off Cuddalore, 100 miles south of Madras, at which time the Chikuma, still steaming to the northward, was off Trincomalee, not much more than 200 miles away. Whether or not the Emden heard her, she must soon have turned to the northward, for at 2 p.m. she was reported from Pondicherry steaming away north-east. This course would take her almost direct to the Hampshire, who on her way down the coast was then not 150 miles north-east of Madras. But the course Captain von Mueller was taking was a false one, apparently intended to deceive; for as soon as he dropped the land he turned back to the southward, intending to make a dash at the Colombo focal point. So for the third time the Hampshire missed him, and probably on this occasion, as the two ships had been steaming to meet one another, by not much more than three hours. Still the Emden was far from safe, for the Hampshire held on down the coast, and as she approached, the Chikuma, having reached the north of Ceylon, turned back by Captain Grant's orders, to protect Trincomalee, which might very well be the Emden's next objective.


Her attack on trade in any case had not been a great success materially. During her week's cruise in the Bay, while she took seven ships, no less than sixteen got in or out of Calcutta unmolested, and twice she had been very near to being captured. Still, little as was the real impression she had made on the bulk of the trade, and nearly as our cruisers had come to success, the Madras episode was only another


Sept. 24, 1914



reason for deferring to New Zealand opinion. For again the trade routes concerned had to be closed, and once more he whole system of protecting the Australasian Convoys was thrown into the melting-pot. In order to meet the situation the Admiralty, while reiterating their conviction that the route from Wellington to Albany was safe, issued orders that the Minotaur and Ibuki, instead of acting as a covering squadron in New Guinea waters, were to proceed to Wellington to fetch the New Zealand Convoy, and then, after picking up the Australian transports at Fremantle, to escort the whole to Aden. Consequently the two cruisers had to be called away immediately from Sumatra and the Cocos Islands, where they were filling in time by watching the Emden. By their original orders they were to pick the convoy at Fremantle on October 4. Now they left their watching-stations in time to be there on September 29, and then carry on to New Zealand. Even so the sailing of the joint convoy would be delayed for at least three weeks, but there was no help for it, and the delay had to be faced.


As for the Nisshin, since she had no place in the plan, she was now at Admiral Jerram s disposal, and he ordered her away to reinforce the Sandakan Patrol, which seemed to be in danger. The Geier, Prinz Eitel Friedrich, and the Cormoran were still unlocated, and there were signs that the German colliers in the Philippines were getting suspiciously restless. One actually came out, but was at once headed back by the merchant cruiser Himalaya, and in these circumstances the possibility of a surprise attack on Sandakan could not be neglected.


Meanwhile the expedition to Friedrich-Wilhelm Harbour could proceed with the Australia and Montcalm. In pursuance of the previous arrangement Admiral Patey, just promoted Vice-Admiral, had returned to Rabaul with the Sydney in company on September 19, and on the 22nd, after detaching her to destroy the German wireless station at Angaur, started for his objective with the Australia, Montcalm, Encounter and the transport Berrima. On the 24th he was off Friedrich-Wilhelm Harbour. As the place had been included in the general capitulation signed by the Governor at Rabaul, he sent in a flag of truce to demand its surrender. No resistance was offered. In the afternoon troops and stores were landed, and after formally hoisting the British flag and proclaiming the occupation, the Admiral returned to Rabaul, leaving the troops in garrison.


The general situation in Far Eastern waters was now coming well in hand. The Sydney completed her work at


Sept. 21-23, 1914


Angaur on the 26th. Admiral Yamaya, moreover, was due at Jaluit with, the Japanese First South Sea Squadron on the 29th, and Tsingtau was invested both by land and sea. So by the end of the month the Western Pacific had been made untenable for any serious hostile force, and there could be little doubt - though, as we have seen, no undue risks were taken - that Admiral von Spee would be forced away to American waters. If any doubt remained in the minds of the naval authorities, it was now removed. On the last day of the month came news that on September 22 - the day, as it happened, that the New Zealand transports had been stopped - the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau had bombarded the French port of Papiete in Tahiti, the principal island of the Society Group, and had sunk the gunboat Zelee.


On leaving Samoa Admiral von Spee had steamed for Suvarov Island, a lonely British possession about, 500 miles on the way to the French group of the Marquesas, where the Nurnberg was now bringing on the supply ships. Two of them, however, were to meet him at Suvarov. As the swell proved too great for coaling there, he took them on to Bora Bora, in the Society Islands. This group was also French, but the native authorities, mistaking the German nationality, allowed them to coal and buy provisions (September 21). Thence on September 22 he went on to Papiete, the capital of the group. His intention, it is said, was merely to demand supplies, but as the little batteries opened on him as soon as he appeared, he replied, with the result that he quickly sank the unarmed gunboat, whose guns were all ashore, damaged a German ship in the port, and set the town on fire. In this he defeated his purpose; for the conflagration spread so fast that he dared not enter the harbour, and so had to sail away for the Marquesas without getting what he came to seek.


News of the incident could only confirm the view which Admiral Patey had always held that the German squadron would take the route by Samoa and Tahiti in moving away to theAmerican coast, and so sure now were the Admiralty that this was the intention that they proposed that the New Zealand transports should move off without further delay and meet the Minotaur and Ibuki at sea. Possibly the proposal might have been accepted but for a new record of failure that had to be scored to the Admiralty account; for in the meanwhile the Emden had struck her blow at the Colombo focal area. Continuing on the southerly course which she had finally


Sept. 24-29, 1914



adopted after leaving the Madras area, she ran down the coast of Ceylon, ahead of Captain Grant, and was not observed by the Chikuma at Trincomalee. The Markomannia was still with her, but the Pontoporos had been sent with a prize crew to a rendezvous on the west coast of Sumatra. It was not till they rounded the south of Ceylon that they found anything, but in the forenoon of September 25, some twenty-five miles south of Galle, they captured the King Lud. Being outward bound in ballast she was sunk at once by explosives, and in search of better luck Captain von Mueller held boldly on for Colombo. Arriving off the port at nightfall, he saw a large ship coming out with all lights burning, dogged her till she was fifty miles out, and about midnight overhauled her. She was the Tymeric, with £60,000 worth of sugar on board. She was sunk, like the King Lud, and the Emden carried on for the south of Cape Comorin, where the tracks from Bombay and Aden to Colombo converge.


Here, the following afternoon, she captured the Gryfevale, whose master was doing his best to keep off the converging tracks, and this ship Captain von Mueller kept. With his prize and the Markomannia in company, he then made towards Minikoi, the island which is midway between the Laccadive and Maldive Groups, and on either side of which, through the Eight Degree and Nine Degree Channels, run the usual tracks from the Red Sea. Between that point and Cape Comorin he next day (September 27) captured three more ships, Buresk, Ribera and Foyle, all on or near the usual track. The last two, like the King Lud, were outward bound in ballast, and they were both sunk. But the Buresk, which was captured in the dead of night, was a real godsend. She was a ship of 4,300 tons, with a full cargo of Welsh coal for Hongkong on Admiralty charter, and yet she, too, gave herself away by steaming on the direct track with all lights brightly burning. She was naturally added to the little squadron, and by sheer neglect of ordinary precautions Captain von Mueller's potentiality for prolonging his depredations was appreciably increased. After capturing the Foyle at 7 p.m. about 150 miles east of Minikoi, he did not tempt Providence further, but held away to the southward towards the Maldives to coal and clean his ship. The prisoners he dismissed in the Gryfevale, and it was early on the 29th when she put into Colombo that the whole story was known.


Regrettable as it was, the wonder is that the tale of loss was not much worse. In the three days the Emden was operating seven ships had been stopped by her, two into Colombo and five out, and in these usually thronged waters


Sept. 26-30, 1914


she had taken only half a dozen prizes, averaging less than 4000 tons, and half of them in ballast. Her cruise might well have been prolonged a day or two, for this time she was in little danger. The Chikuma reached Colombo to coal the same day as the Gryfevale, but Captain Grant, in the Hampshire, was half way across the Bay of Bengal steaming eastward. On the 26th, while the Emden was off Cape Comorin, he had put into Colombo to coal, and at 1.0 a.m. next morning, after calling the Chikuma from Trincomalee, he had left to proceed along the trade route to Singapore.


The reason for this was that the Dupleix, which, it will be remembered, had been the supporting ship of the Penang Patrol, was coming westward with a vessel laden with French artillery, and the Askold and Empress of Asia were just starting with the three transports in which were our Far Eastern garrisons now all bound for Europe. It was to give further protection to this convoy that he was making eastward for Acheh Head when the news reached him at midnight of September 29-30. He immediately turned back, ordered the Chikuma to Minikoi and the Yarmouth, which was coaling at Penang, to Acheh Head. But all was too late. Even the Chikuma did not get away till 8 a.m. on the 30th, and by that time the Emden was lost in the trackless wastes in the middle of the Indian Ocean.


Such, then, was the news which reached the New Zealand Government simultaneously with the Admiralty suggestion that their transports should not wait for the Minotaur and Ibuki. The exploits of the Emden had, of course, no real relation to the safety of the convoy, but the moral effect was none the less strong, and the result was a warm protest, against any change in the arrangements. In the face of it the Admiralty at once acquiesced, and, as it was impossible to provide a separate escort for the Australian convoy, both of them had to be delayed the full three weeks.









(See Maps 2 and 14 in case.)


The first week in October when the Australian Convoy should have sailed was marked with important developments in the general situation, both in the Atlantic and Pacific, where it still mainly turned on the movements of Admiral von Spee and the three detached cruisers, Emden, Dresden and Karlsruhe.


On the first of the month Admiral Patey, having secured our position in German New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago, had just put to sea with his squadron, Australia, Montcalm, Encounter and Sydney, with a view to intercepting Admiral von Spee if he should double back and try to enter the Indian Ocean. The two cruiser squadrons which the Japanese had formed for hunting down the enemy in the Pacific were now at sea, and the Admiral's idea was to cruise to the Carolines to try to get touch and concert operations with Admiral Yamaya, who, with the First South Sea Squadron, had left Yokosuka on September 14, the day Admiral von Spee was located off Samoa, and having occupied Jaluit on September 29, was now working in that area. In moving away from Rabaul Admiral Patey left behind him two German auxiliary cruisers, the Prinz Eitel Friedrich and her consort, the Russian Volunteer prize Cormoran. Intercepted calls had led him to suspect something was cruising north of New Guinea, and the Sydney had twice searched the suspicious area without success. The two German ships had, in fact, met at Angaur a week or so before the Sydney destroyed its wireless station. They had then separated in search of coal, and not knowing New Guinea was in our possession, had fixed their rendezvous at Alexis Bay, just north of Friedrich-Wilhelm Harbour. The Cormoran was actually hiding there when Admiral Patey was taking possession of the administrative capital, but was not discovered. When his back was turned both ships, finding Australasian waters too hot to hold them, had made off; Prinz Eitel Friedrich for the west coast of America, and Cormoran for the Western Carolines,


Oct. 1-2, 1914



after narrowly escaping the Satsuma of the Second Japanese South Sea Squadron at Yap.


The Geier was also suspected of being somewhere about. She had not been heard of for over a month, but news of her had just come in. It was that on September 4 she had captured at Kusaie, in the Eastern Carolines, the British S.S. Southport, which was lying there ignorant that war had broken out. Having disabled her prize's engines so that she should not get away, the Geier left her in the harbour and went off on a fortnight's cruise. No sooner was she gone than the master of the Southport, Captain Clopet, made up his mind to escape. Desperate as was the chance and short the time, the crew agreed, and under the clever engineer, Mr. H. Cox, they set to work to repair the engines, in spite of the almost hopeless condition to which they had been reduced. The eccentric gear of the mean and high-pressure engines and the intermediate stop valve had been removed as well as a good many of the tools, but after eleven days' work, by fitting the astern eccentric of the low-pressure engine to the high-pressure cylinder, and cutting out the middle cylinder, they got a semblance of a compound engine. True, it would not go astern, and if it was stopped might get on a dead centre and refuse to start again.


Nor was this the only trouble. They had over 2000 miles to go to reach a British port, and no provisions except what the island - which, like the rest, was not self-supporting - could provide. However, from the native king, whom the Germans had told to help him with food, Captain Clopet obtained 350 cocoanuts and 400 lb. of a root, which the natives only eat in time of famine. With this equipment, after infinite difficulty in getting their unhandy craft to sea, they started on September 18 with only a day or so in hand. Still, they escaped, and on the 30th put into Brisbane with their news, and another brilliant page added to the record of resource and daring with which the mercantile marine was to glorify itself in the course of the war. The exploit was recognised by an Admiralty letter expressing high appreciation of the captain's and the engineer's seamanlike and skilful conduct, and to each of them the Board of Trade presented a piece of plate.


On the day of her arrival at Brisbane came the news that Admiral von Spee had bombarded Tahiti. It reached Admiral Patey on October 2, and as there was now no immediate prospect of danger to the Indian Ocean he turned back to Simpson Harbour to get into touch with the Admiralty. Though the general expectation was that the German Admiral was making for America, there was still a possibility that he


Sept 1-4, 1914



might be intending to carry out similar attacks at Samoa or even New Zealand, and the instructions Admiral Patey received were to proceed to Suva in Fiji and make that his base for operating in search of the elusive enemy.


This he could safely do, for on October 1 the Second Japanese South Sea Squadron left Sasebo for Rabaul, which was then intended to be their base for further operations. This squadron was under Rear-Admiral Tsuchiyama, and consisted of the Satsuma, a battleship with four 12" and twelve 10" guns, and two light cruisers, Yahagi and Hirado. But Admiral Jerram, whom the news from Tahiti convinced that Admiral von Spee was making for America, had a different arrangement to propose. His appreciation was that the Germans were bound for American waters to harass either the coast of British Columbia or our trade on the coasts off Chile and Peru, or possibly to pass into the Atlantic by the Panama Canal or the Strait of Magellan.


With provision for the latter alternatives he had no concern, but for the first two he suggested that the First Japanese South Sea Squadron should move on from the Marshall Islands and cross the ocean as soon as it was certain the Germans had done so, and that Admiral Patey, with the Australia and Montcalm should remain east of Australia. Meanwhile, during the absence of the Minotaur and Ihuki with the Australasian Convoy, he proposed that Admiral Tsuchiyama should co-operate with him west of longitude 140 degrees , which passes approximately through Tokyo, Yap and the centre of New Guinea, and that the First Squadron should work with Admiral Patey to the eastward of that meridian. In both areas there would thus be a squadron capable of dealing with Admiral von Spee should he turn back, and at the same time the escape of colliers from the Philippines could be effectually prevented. But before any definite arrangement could be made the doubt as to the German intention was finally cleared up.


In the evening of October 4 (local time) the Suva wireless ptation intercepted a message from the Scharnhorst in the German secret mercantile code, a copy of which we had captured. It read: "Scharnhorst on the way between the Marquesas and Easter Island." As Easter Island lies half way between Tahiti and the American coast there was little doubt as to what was in the wind, especially, as our station at Thursday Island, in the Torres Strait, had just taken in another warning. This message was enclair, and, translated, it ran: "Look out! Australia and all the large English ships have left Rabaul going east. The Japanese

Aug.-Sept. 1914


squadron is all over the place. To-day the English established wireless communication with Rabaul. Look out! "


If this intelligence was to be trusted - and, as will be seen directly, there was much on the American side to confirm it - the Eastern Seas were no longer threatened. The chief concern of the Admiralty was with the other side of the Pacific. Here, in North American waters, Captain Powlett was still operating with the Newcastle, Rainbow and Idzumo, trying to find the Leipzig, and protecting British and Japanese trade and the Canadian ports. But for this area there was little anxiety, for the Japanese had agreed to reinforce the squadron with the Hizen (formerly the Russian Retvizan), a small but fast battleship of 12,700 tons and 16,000 horsepower, built in America and captured at Port Arthur. Nothing had been seen of the Leipzig. Traces of her movements had been found by the Newcastle, but nothing definite was ascertained till early on October 1 a ship that had been attending her put into Callao with the crew of the British steamer Bankfields, which she had captured on August 25. On the same day there arrived at Guayaquil the master and part of the crew of the Elsinore, which she captured off Cape Corrientes in Columbia on September 11. They had to report that they had escaped from the Galapagos Islands, where they had been put ashore a week after being taken. These two pieces of intelligence could only raise a presumption that the Leipzig was operating to the southward, in expectation of Admiral von Spee's arrival.

All the probabilities, in fact, pointed to the waters in which Admiral Cradock was operating as the area most in danger, and his position was still far from secure. We have seen how, on taking over the South American station early in September, he had moved down to Montevideo with the intention of concentrating his squadron to the southward. His sweep down the coast - so far as the regular cruisers were concerned - was unproductive, but his armed merchant cruiser, the Carmania (Captain N. Grant), had met with better fortune. It fell to her duty in the southerly sweep to examine Trinidada Island, which was suspected to be a German coaling place, and where, in fact, the Dresden had coaled a month before on her way to the Pacific. Arriving there on September 14 - the day the Emden's activities were first known - the Carmania found off the western end of the island a large liner coaling from two colliers. The liner was the Cap Trafalgar (right - Cyber Heritage/Terry Phillips), a new ship of the Hamburg-Sud-Amerika Line, which on August 22, it will be remembered, when Captain Luce had moved north in search of the Dresden, had

Sept. 14, 1914



been able to escape from the River Plate. About a week later at a sea rendezvous she had met the gunboat Eber from South Africa, and had taken over her officers and her armament of two 4" guns and six pom-poms. Since September 1 she had been cruising for our trade, disguised as a Castle liner, but as the air was full of British wireless signals her attention was more absorbed in keeping out of harm's way than in hunting prizes, and she had done nothing. (Letter from her surgeon in Weser Zeitung, November 27, 1914. It is possible the intention was that she should cruise in South American waters in consort with the Kronprinz Wilhelm and Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse, using Trinidada as a base. Three German colliers had been sent there, and the Kronprinz Wilhelm was in the vicinity when she sank the Indian Prince. If there was such a plan the fate of the Cap Trafalgar and the Kaiser Willielm Grosse prevented it from maturing.)


It seems as if evasion was still her object, for before the Carmania (right - Photo Ships), which was coming up at 16 knots from the north-east, had raised her hull she began making off to the southward, while her consorts dispersed. But very soon, as though she had ascertained the Carmania's class, she began to turn to the westward to close at 18 knots. By 12.10 the converging courses brought the range down to 8,500 yards, the Carmania challenged the enemy with a shot across her bows and the German replied with her after gun. At 7,500 yards the Carmania began independent control fire from all her port guns, and the Cap Trafalgar answered with rapid fire. As the range continued to fall the action grew very hot. At 4,500 yards the Carmania changed to salvoes, the second and third of which were seen to hit all along the water line. Most of the enemy's shot went high, so that the Carmania only suffered in her masts, funnels and ventilators. But now, since the Cap Trafalgar continued to steer as though to cross the Carmania''s bows, the range decreased so much we the German pom-poms began to tell. When, therefore, the range was down to 3,500 yards, Captain Grant began to turn away to starboard through about 16 points till his starboard guns bore. Till this time the Cap Trafalgar had kept her course, but she now began to sheer away to port, and Captain Grant, completing his circle, began chasing on her port quarter. It could be seen that her deck steam pipes had been cut: she was on fire forward and had a slight list to starboard. But the Carmania was also in trouble. A shell had passed through three thicknesses of plating without rsting, but had set fire to bedding under the fore bridge. As the fire main had been cut the flames could not be controlled, the fore bridge became untenable, and the fire dangerous. Still, as the wind was aft, the Carmania, by keeping


Sept. 14, 1914



on the enemy's port quarter, was able to continue the action.


It had now resolved itself into a stern chase in which the Cap Trafalgar soon began to develop the better speed. So fast did she gain that by 1.30 she was out of range, and to all appearance she had escaped. But it soon became evident that her list was rapidly increasing, and the fire on board her had taken such a hold that she was burning fore and aft. In this condition in a quarter of an hour she was suddenly seen to turn 16 points to port, and then capsize and disappear bows foremost. The fact was that she was already doomed, when the action ceased. She had four or five holes on the water line, the fire made her decks untenable, and her captain was killed. Orders were therefore given to abandon ship and blow her up; so, at least, the Germans report.


So ended the, first action that had been fought between two of the new class of armed merchant.cruisers - the only one, in fact, in which one of ours had been able to perform the original service for which they were designed, that is, dealing with the enemy's armed merchantmen - and it so happened that the action was fought the very day after the new order came out which changed their function.(See ante, p. 266.) The first test of their powers had ended in a victory for the British ship, but the German had undoubtedly made a good fight of it. So far as is known she had nothing but the Ebers armament, and that consisted of two 4.1" guns, six pom-poms and two machine-guns. (There were, however, reports that she fitted up one or more guns on or before leaving the Plate.)


The Carmania had eight 4.7" guns, and had suffered a good deal; she had five holes on the water line, her fore bridge with all its steering, communication and fire-control gear was destroyed, and she had lost nine men killed and twenty-six wounded. So precarious, indeed, was her condition at the end of the action that it was impossible to save the crew of the sunken enemy. The fire had still so strong a hold of her that Captain Grant had to keep on before the wind to subdue it. This course was the more necessary as smoke appeared on the horizon, and he believed it might well be coming from a German cruiser to which the Cap Trafalgar had been continually calling during the action. It was probably the Eleonore Woermann, one of the Cap Trafalgar's colliers, who picked up the survivors a couple of hours later and took them to Buenos Aires, where they were interned. But of her the Carmania saw nothing. Captain Grant had enough to do to save his ship, and as soon as the


Sept. 14, 1914



fire was got under he made for Abrolhos Rocks, calling for assistance. It was not till the next afternoon that the Bristol picked him up and stood by till the Cornwall appeared, by whom he was escorted to the coaling base.


These two cruisers were taking part in the general movement southward which Admiral Cradock had ordered in anticipation of its being Admiral von Spee's intention to come through the Magellan Strait and make an attack on our trade in that quarter. On the day the Carmania fought her action new instructions from the Admiralty confirmed his appreciation. He was informed that the Canopus was on her way to Abrolhos and that the Defence was coming from the Mediterranean to reinforce him, but until she arrived he was to keep at least the Canopus and one County class cruiser with his flagship. After leaving in the north sufficient force to deal with the Dresden and Karlsruhe, which were still unlocated, he was to concentrate to the southward a squadron strong enough to meet the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, making the Falkland Islands his base. As soon as he had a force superior to the Germans he was to search the Magellan Strait, but was to be ready to break back and cover the River Plate if intelligence pointed that way.

(The text of the telegram was as follows -


"From Admiralty to R.-A. Good Hope, via British Minister, Rio. - (Sent September 14, 1914, 5.50 p.m.)


"There is a strong probability of the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau arriving in the Magellan Straits or on the West Coast of South America.

"The Germans have begun, to carry on trade on the West Coast of South America.

"Leave sufficient force to deal with Dresden and Karlsruhe. Concentrate a squadron strong enough to meet Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, making Falkland Islands your coaling base.

"Canopus is now en route to Abrolhos. Defence is joining you from Mediterranean. Until Defence joins, keep at least Canopus and one County class with your flagship

"As soon as you have superior force, search the Magellan Straits with sqadron, being ready to return and cover the River Plate, or, according to information, search north as far as Valparaiso, break up the German trade and destroy the German cruisers.

"Anchorage in the vicinity of Golfo Nuevo and Egg Harbour should be searched.

"Colliers are being ordered to, the Falkland Islands. Consider whether colliers from Abrolhos should be ordered south.")

The Canopus was officially credited with a sea-going full speed of seventeen knots; that of the Good Hope and the "County" class was over twenty-two.


The instructions reached him at Santa Catharina, some 250 miles south of Rio, where he had just found Captain Luce's detachment, Glasgow, Monmouth and Otranto. For on his


Sept. 15-25, 1914


way down to the Magellan Strait, in accordance with his last orders to intercept the Dresden, Captain Luce had received a report that, the Dresden had coaled near Santa Catharina. Being out of touch with the Admiral, he could only use his discretion, and he had turned back in search. The report was false. For the Dresden, after coaling at Gill Bay on August 31, had pushed on again, and without venturing to approach the Strait had run to the Horn. There, on September 5, she put into Orange Bay, a spacious natural harbour which lies hidden and completely land-locked amidst the snows and glaciers of Hoste Island.


This, of course, was quite unknown at the time, and the Admiral decided to go down to the Strait with the Good Hope and Captain Luce's detachment, leaving the Bristol to patrol between Santa Catharina and the Plate, and the Cornwall between Rio and Cape San Roque. The Carmania and Macedonia were to assist them, but as the Carmania was unfit for action and the Macedonia had to escort her to Gibraltar for a refit, the two cruisers had to watch the whole Atlantic coast between them as best they could. It was a vast field they had to cover, and the Pernambuco area was left with no protection except what the Cornwall could provide when she was in the region of Cape San Roque; nor although, on fresh news of Admiral von Spee's movements, the immediate anxiety for the Magellan Strait was removed and Admiral Cradock's instructions to concentrate there were promptly modified, was any change made in the dispositions to the northward. The reason his last orders had to be altered so soon was this: it was on the very day they were issued that Admiral von Spee had appeared at Samoa and gone off on a false course north-west. From this it was assumed he intended returning to his original station, and that there was no present fear for Admiral Cradock's Squadron. He was accordingly told there was now no need to concentrate his cruisers, and was ordered at once to attack "German trade on the west coast of America and Magellan," for which two cruisers and an armed liner were suggested as sufficient force. The orders found him off the River Plate, where he intended to coal, but a succession of heavy gales so much delayed operations that it was September 22 before he could carry on to the southward, As he went down he obtained intelligence which emphasised the need of operating on the west coast, for it left no doubt the Dresden was there. It came from Captain Douglas Kinnier.of the Pacific Steam Navigation liner Ortega, with which Admiral Cradock fell in on September 25. Captain Kinnier's report was that he had


Sept. 18-26, 1914



been fired upon by a three-funnelled cruiser on the other side of the Straits, and that the cruiser had a merchant vessel in company. It was clearly the Dresden, and her tender the Baden. Not only was this valuable piece of intelligence obtained, but Captain Kinnier had a story to tell which reflected the highest credit on his courage and resource.


He had sailed from Valparaiso with 300 French reservists on board, and had reached as far as Cambridge Island, about 100 miles short of the entrance of the Straits, when he was challenged by the cruiser. As he had only 14 knots and the German 21, escape seemed almost impossible. Still he resolved to try, and calling for volunteers for the stokehold he made away. The cruiser followed and opened fire. Such a chase could not last long, but behind Cambridge Islands, opens the unsurveyed Nelson Strait, into which he knew the cruiser would not dare to follow him, and for this perilous passage he made at his utmost speed. "In order to realize the hardihood of this action," wrote our Consul at Rio in his official report, "it must be remembered that Nelson Strait is entirely uncharted, and that the narrow, tortuous passage constitutes a veritable nightmare for navigators, bristling as it does with reefs and pinnacle rocks, swept by fierce currents and tide rips, with the cliffs on either side sheer-to without any anchorage." Yet all these dangers he faced with his 8000 ton ship, and by heroic exertion in the engine-room was able to make the entrance of the Strait and drop his pursuer before he had been hit once. And not only this, but by feeling his way with his boats he brought his ship out into Smyth Channel without a dent in her plates.

(Admiralty Press communique, Nov. 20. An Admiralty letter was sent to the Company expressing "their Lordships' desire to place on record their appreciation of the courageous conduct of Captain Kinnier in throwing off his pursuer by successfully navigating the uncharted and dangerous passage of Nelson Strait." He was given a temporary lieutenant's commission in the R.N.R., and awarded a D.S.C. (January 1). The Chilean Government, who on hearing of the chase sent a destroyer to prevent a violation of neutral waters, found on her report that only blank was fired, and that the chase was abandoned when the Ortega entered Chilean waters. Captain Kinnier's report goes to confirm this. He says the Dresden fired twice at his ship, " both shots being ineffectual.")

Upon this information it would seem that the Admiral decided to proceed with the squadron to the West Coast, and by this time the Admiralty had further information which, made it fairly certain the Dresden was there. It was sent to him on September 26, the day after he met the Ortega, though it is uncertain when the telegram reached him. It was to the effect that on the previous day a three-funnelled cruiser, probably the Dresden, had passed Punta Galera near


Sept. 26-30, 1914


Valdivia some 800 miles up the Chilean coast, going northwards. In corroboration of this report a private message, stated that the Seydlitz, which for a month past had been lying at Valparaiso, was hurriedly coaling. Two days later the British ship Galicia reported having seen on the 26th a steamer without lights off Coronel exchanging signals with the German steamer Santa Isabel, which had reached the port on the previous day. All this indicated clearly that the enemy was becoming active on the west coast.


Whether or not Admiral Cradock knew all this, he now assembled his squadron off Cape Virgins and entered the Strait, intending to call for further intelligence at Punta Arenas. On the way there he was continually intercepting call-signs between German men-of-war and merchantmen. They could not be deciphered, but on arriving at Punta Arenas on September 28 he learnt from our Consul that the enemy were probably using Orange Bay as a base. It further appeared that one of the merchant ships in the harbour recently sailed with a large amount of live stock and fresh provisions, and had returned a few days later empty. There was every possibility, therefore, that at last he had run the chase to earth, and he immediately decided to attack. The movement was made in the utmost secrecy.


Informing the Chilean Admiral who was there that he was bound for Valparaiso, he stole away without lights after midnight and made for the difficult Cockburn Channel. It was known at all times to be dangerous, and it had not been surveyed since 1820, but time was everything to the Admiral and he decided to take the risk. It was no light task. "The navigational abilities of Commander Scott," the Admiral wrote in his report, "in piloting the squadron in thick weather, with intermittent snow-storms, through this little charted channel, and again, to ensure arriving at daybreak off Orange Bay, round Cape Horn, inside Barneveldt Rocks in snow storms and darkness, call for the most favourable comment."


Still the thing was done, and the Admiral had all fair to carry out the surprise he confidently expected. The idea was that possibly, besides the Dresden, the Leipzig and Nurnberg were also there with store ships and colliers. The bay had several good exits, and it was necessary so far as possible to dispose the force so as to guard them all. The ships were therefore made to close the place gradually from different directions, and then at the given signal each rushed in by a separate entrance. But not a thing was there. The bay was empty, nor could the picket boat that was sent ashore find a trace of the enemy having been there.


Oct. 1-7, 1914



The disappointment was severe, but a new scent was quickly picked, up. Wireless messages passing between the Peruvian and Chilean Authorities were intercepted, stating that two German cruisers had been off the south coast of Peru the previous day.


Before any action could be taken, however, it was necessary to go to the Falkland Islands to coal. It was not till October 3 that the Glasgow and Monmouth could start again to join the Otranto, which had been left in the Strait at Punta Arenas. Here she intercepted various messages which seemed to idicate that some enemy's ships were at Hermite Islands, just west of the Horn. The Admiral therefore proceeded there at once, at high speed, and ordered the Glasgow division to meet him at the island west-about. All ships had been much delayed by violent weather. It was now at its worst, and only by suffering all that the seas of that region can inflict could the movement be carried out. Again nothing was found, and the Admiral ordered Captain Luce to resume his sweep northward with his division as high as Valparaiso, and try to obtain stores and warm dothing. He himself, in the Good Hope, remained to take another look into Orange Bay, but all he found was an inscribed tablet showing that the Dresden had been there on September 8, 9 and 10.


The situation, however, was now more clearly defined, for it was on the day before Admiral Cradock started to search Hermite Islands that the Fiji wireless station was intercepting the message from the Schamhorst, which as we have seen, left very little doubt that Admiral von Spee was making for Easter Island. At the same time New Zealand reported that he was calling up the Dresden. The Admiralty at once passed the information to Admiral Cradock, telling him to be prepared to have to meet the Schamhorst and Gneisenau, and possibly a "Dresden" scouting for them, and that the Canopus, which had reached Abrolhos, was to accompany Glasgow, Monmouth and Otranto, the ships to search and protect trade in combination." If, however, he meant to go himself in the Good Hope, the Monmouth was to remain on the east coast. This was important, for the east coast trade had now fully revived. It was of the utmost consequence to the vitality of the home country that it should not be again checked, and an Italian ship had recently reported having sighted the long-lost Karlsruhe in the Pernambuco area near St. Paul Rocks. The message which was sent off on October 5 missed him at the Falklands, nor did he receive it till the 7th, just as he was leaving Orange Bay to return for coal to his base.


Oct. 8, 1914


It was only one of many such delays, and they must be appreciated if what followed is to be rightly judged. The fact was that communications with the south-eastern part of the Atlantic Ocean were specially slow and uncertain. We had a wireless station at Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands, to which the Uruguayan Government permitted the transmission of messages in cipher from their station at Cerrito near Montevideo, but from Punta Arenas the Chilean Government would only permit official messages en clair. (British Consul (Punta Arenas) to Foreign Office, October 2,)


In addition to this difficulty the whole district is subject to frequent and continuous atmospherics, with the result that messages had generally to wait two or three days before they could be made, and in bad cases as much as a week would elapse. A previous warning of what was threatening had been sent by the Admiralty on September 30, but this never reached the Admiral at all. It was to inform him that the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau had bombarded Papiete and sunk the French ship Zelee on the 22nd, and had left steering north-east.


Admiral Cradock's own discovery that the Dresden had been in Orange Bay placed him in no little difficulty. On the information which the Admiralty had, their appreciation of what he had to deal with differed necessarily from his own, and he had no doubt they under-estimated Admiral von Spee's force. He therefore lost no time in telegraphing an account of his visit to Orange Bay and the deductions he made from it. Instead of only one light cruiser the Germans would almost certainly have three, Dresden, Leipzig and Nurnberg. Accordingly he informed them that he intended to concentrate at the Falklands to avoid a division of his force; also that he had ordered Captain Luce not to go beyond Valparaiso till the German cruisers were again located. At the same time, in view of his appreciation of the enemy's strength, he suggested that the Essex should be detached from the North American Squadron to relieve the Cornwall on the Rio-Cape San Roque patrol, so that the Cornwall could come south, and also asked whether the Defence was to join him. (See Appendix D.) She had, in fact, been stopped at Malta on September 16, two days after he was told to expect her, when the news was received that Admiral von Spee had appeared at Samoa. On the 18th she was ordered back to the Dardanelles, but no intimation to this effect had been sent him.


Still more disturbing was the strategical problem with which he was saddled. He could not see how it was to be solved with a single squadron acting on the west coast.


Oct. 8, 1914



In a further telegram he submitted, therefore, that in the event of the enemy's heavy cruisers and others concentrating there it was necessary to have a British force on each coast strong enough to bring them to action. For if a single concentrated force were sent to the west the enemy might well evade it and destroy all our coaling bases on the Atlantic side, in which event the squadron would be unable to follow them, and they might possibly reach the West Indies.


Both messages he sent off on October 8, but for the best part of a week there was no answer. Persistent atmospherics baffled all the attempts of the Admiralty to get into communication with him. The second message was received on the 11th, the first not till the evening of the 12th. At Whitehall it was a moment of extreme pressure. The Naval Division was just completing its retreat from Antwerp, the question of evacuating Ostend, and possibly of having to re-embark the IIIth Division and VIIrd Cavalry Division was urgent, the new phase of the enemy's submarine activity was at its height, and the Canadian Convoy was on the point of making its perilous entry into the Channel. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Admiralty took a day or two to settle a plan for meeting the danger in the Pacific.


The menace to the West Indies and our South American trade was not the only one they had to face. Two other points had to be regarded as within Admiral von Spee's reach. The first was our expedition to the Cameroons. Here the base at Duala was still in process of organisation, and operations to drive the Germans from their points of retreat had commenced. They began on the river line at Ybassi with a combined naval and military column of some strength under Colonel Gorges. Besides six armed river craft, the flotilla had the Mole, a Nigerian dredger which had recently joined, and a lighter, each armed with a naval 6" gun, and with them was a detachment of 100 bluejackets and a field gun, all under the command of Commander The Hon. Bertram Freeman Mitford of the Challenger. The military force, which was under Lieutenant-Colonel E. Vaughan of the West African Regiment, comprised eight companies of native infantry, half a company of pioneers and 600 carriers. Leaving Duala early on October 7, they easily overcame the opposition they encountered, and next morning the troops were disembarked three miles below the town for the attack. By 11.30 a.m. it was launched, but was suddenly met by so heavy a rifle and machine-gun fire from the dense bush that no progress could be made. Fortunately it was ill-directed, and eventually was silenced by the naval


Oct. 8-10, 1914



6" guns. A strenuous effort was then made to get a footing in the town. But by this time the troops were too much exhausted by the heat for a final rush, and as they were fast losing cohesion Colonel Gorges decided to call them off for the night. It was done without much loss, except that the Balbus, which was towing the armed lighter, took the ground so hard that she had to be abandoned. On further consideration it seemed wiser to withdraw, right back to Duala and reorganise the column in accordance with the knowledge they had obtained. This was now being done, and at the same time reconnaissances of the Sanaga and Nyong Rivers were being carried out with a view to assisting the coming French advance against Edea. The first reports were unfavourable, and with the failure of the first attempt on Ybassi it was clear that unless the base was made secure from an attack by sea there could be no prospect of reducing the colony within any calculable time.


Far more serious, however, was the case of German South-West Africa. Here a considerable extension and modification of the original plan had been found necessary, and further naval responsibilities were entailed. The idea of landing a column in the north at Walfisch Bay had been abandoned, owing to the difficulty of dealing with both that base and Luderitz Bay with the naval forces available. After some delay incidental to getting home the Cape Garrison, the Luderitz Bay column was in place, and the last of the Cape Garrison had passed on homewards under convoy of the Astraea; but the column under Brigadier-General Lukin, which was based at Port Nolloth and was operating against the enemy's southern frontier, had received a check. Whether, in face of the opposition he was encountering, he would be able to carry out the offensive operations which the plan assigned to him was now more than doubtful. It was certainly highly inexpedient that he should try, for it was only too evident that the loyalty of the commandos on his right under Colonel Maritz was not to be trusted. A new plan was therefore submitted by the Union Government on October 8. It was based on concentrating practically the whole of their available striking force on a single effort from Luderitz, Bay. The troops already assigned to that line of operation were to be reinforced by fresh units from the Cape and by the bulk of the Port Nolloth force. The plan further provided for forming as soon as possible a new column, which was to strike from Walfisch Bay along a railway which was to be built from the base to Swakopmund. The escort work and base protection involved would absorb the whole


Oct. 10-12, 1914



capacity of the Cape Squadron, but the Admiralty cordially approved the plan and agreed to do what was wanted.


Here, then, was another point which might well be Admiral von Spee's objective. As things stood this was probable enough, but the danger was rapidly intensified. It was on October 10, two days before Admiral Cradock's anxious representation of the dilemma in which he found himself came to hand, that the new plan was approved, and next day the whole situation in South Africa was upset by news that Maritz had deserted to the enemy with his commando and was threatening to invade the Union territory with German help in order to raise a revolt. With the last of the regular garrison well on its way home, and with the Union forces already far involved in German territory, the situation was very serious, and the appearance of Admiral von Spee on the coast might well turn the scale. It was a possibility which could not be ignored, and it added the last complication to the problem which the Admiralty had to solve.


As a first step they sent the Albion, which was now with Admiral Stoddart to Ascension, there to await orders from the Cape, and Admiral King Hall at once ordered her as guardship to Walfisch Bay to relieve the Kinfauns Castle. All further movement of troops was stopped, martial law was proclaimed, and the Union Government asked for the services of the Hyacinth and the two merchant cruisers Kinfauns Castle and Armadale Castle. In this request Admiral Jackson, who was still advising on the oversea operations, concurred, but at the same time he pointed out that special naval protection must be provided against the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. It was of the first importance that they should not pass South America without being reported, and in his view the best initial disposition was a force strong enough to fight them concentrated at the Falklands, and numerically sufficient to watch for them at all salient points. To provide for this the old "County" class cruiser Kent, who had just completed her steam trials after commissioning for the North American Station, was already under orders to join Admiral Cradock instead by way of Cape Verde.


It was not entirely on the principle of a single concentration, nor on that suggested by Admiral Cradock for two adequate squadrons, that the Admiralty formed their plan. Something of a compromise between the two was adopted. When on October 12 the Admiral's messages of the 8th had come to hand, in which he pointed out the increasing difficulties of his position, and the doubt whether they could be met by a single concentration, the whole problem was again


Oct. 14-15, 1914


taken into consideration. One point at least was clear. All idea of cruising against the enemy's trade on the west coast must be postponed. For the moment Admiral von Spee's Squadron, and that alone, must be the objective, and this being so, the cardinal need was to make such a disposition of the force available as to ensure as far as possible that the enemy should not get through into the Atlantic unfought. (See Appendix D.) As Admiral Cradock had himself submitted, there was an obvious danger of the Germans escaping in this way if the squadron went up the Chilian Coast, and of having our coaling stations and trade in the Atlantic at their mercy for an indefinite time. The outcome of the deliberations was that on October 14 a telegram went out to Admiral Cradock informing him that his plan of concentrating the Good Hope, Canopus, Monmouth, Glasgow and Otranto was approved "for combined operation." He was further told that a second squadron was to be formed for the River Plate Area, under Admiral Stoddart, who was to come down in the Carnarvon to Montevideo, where he was to have under his flag the Cornwall and Bristol, and the two merchant cruisers Macedonia and Orama, and where his squadron would be completed by the Defence, called once more from the Mediterranean, but the Essex was to remain in the West Indies.


Admiral Cradock's own proposal had been to concentrate at the Falklands, but as a new squadron was being formed for the east coast and combined operations were spoken of, he appears to have assumed that his original orders of October 5 stood, and that he was to concentrate all his squadron on the west coast "to search and protect trade" in co-operation with his colleague. For two reasons no concentration on either side could take place for some time. Captain Luce was already involved in the sweep up the Chilean coast which he had been previously ordered to carry out. After the barren search of Hermite Islands he had carried on northward, leaving the Otranto to guard a secret coaling base which he had established near the western end of the Straits, and in the evening of October 14 a message from him reached the Admiralty saying that the Glasgow was off Coronel with the Monmouth, and was going on to Valparaiso for supplies. Next day he was there, reporting the harbour full of German ships, some of which had been out supplying cruisers, but having ascertained the Government would not allow them to sail again, he went off, without disclosing his destination, to his secret coaling base, to await there the Admiral and the Canopus, according to his last instructions.


Oct. 15-22, 1914



The other difficulty was the Canopus. The Admiralty had calculated she would reach the Falklands on October 15, but, in fact, owing to bad weather, she did not appear till a week later, and even then she required two or three days for an overhaul before she was fit for sea again. Her poor steaming powers were the Admiral's special anxiety, for it seemed to him to render it impossible to perform what he believed the Admiralty expected of him. As to the position he was to take up, it is clear he did not mistake the purport of the orders he received; for when the Admiralty knew that the Glasgow was at Valparaiso, they did not order Captain Luce to the Falklands, but merely repeated the order that he was not to go further north. Admiral Jackson's idea of a full concentration at the Falklands had, in fact, been dropped, and Admiral Cradock prepared to move to the west coast as soon as the Canopus should arrive, but not without misgiving.


On October 18, when he knew how the old battleship had been delayed, he warned the Admiralty that so long as she was with him the strategical speed of his squadron could not exceed 12 knots, but he would trust that circumstances would enable him to force the enemy to action. These last words show that his order to "search and protect trade" led him to believe he was expected to seek out the enemy and bring them to action as best he could. Accordingly, on October 22, as soon as the Canopus appeared, he sailed to join the rest of the squadron at the western coaling base. He could not wait for her to be overhauled. The time for Admiral von Spee's appearance was already past. He decided, therefore, to go round the Horn to see the enemy did not escape that way unobserved, and told the Canopus to meet him on the other side by way of the Straits.


The calculation as to Admiral von Spee's movements was fairly accurate. He had reached Easter Island. There he was joined by the Leipzig and Dresden, and after a stay of six days sailed again on the 18th, with his two heavy cruisers and three light cruisers, as Admiral Cradock was sending off his last Message to the Admiralty. The destination of the German squadron was Mas-a-fuera, a lonely island some 500 miles west of Valparaiso, where they were to meet the colliers and supply ships that had been awaiting them in Chilean ports.








(See Map 2 in case.)


On the day Admiral Cradock left the Falklands the situation was further complicated by the reappearance of the Karlsruhe, which up to this time he believed had joined Admiral von Spee in the Pacific. Since September 2, when news of the capture of the Bowes Castle off the Spanish Main had been received, nothing definite had been heard of her, but as several ships engaged in the South American trade were reported overdue, the Admiralty had left no stone unturned to locate her. Every rumour was carefully investigated by our Intelligence, Officers, but in spite of all efforts she had hitherto succeeded in completely covering her tracks.


Now, however, it became known that before sinking the Bowes Castle on August 18 she fell in with the Patagonia of the Hamburg-Amerika Line - a collier that Captain Koehler had found at Puerto Rico and ordered to bring him coal to a rendezvous off Barbados from St. Thomas. He then proceeded along the Brazilian coast and coaled from her near the mouth of the Amazon. Thence the Karlsruhe carried on across the line to another rendezvous at Sao Joao Island, where a small collier she had found at Curacao met her by appointment. This was the Stadt Schleswig, which was emptied and sent away to Maranham with the crew of the Bowes Castle.


Captain Koehler's intention now was to take up a cruising-ground north of Fernando Noronha on the main trade route between Europe and the South American ports. (See Map 12 in case.) Having coaled again on August 30 at another secluded anchorage somewhere between Ceara and Cape San Roque, he made for his chosen station, and on the 31st got in touch with two Hamburg-Sud-Amerika liners, Asuncion and Rio Negro and the Norddeutscher Lloyd Crefeld, which had been dispatched from Brazilian ports to find him. All of them were ordered to a rendezvous off Rocas Reef, which he apparently intended to make his base, and to that point he proceeded himself, accompanied by his original tender the Patagonia.


Aug. 6-Sept. 4, 1914