Take the needle

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Considering the current pandemic I thought I would throw in a comment or two about a visit to Fremantle to load cargo for the Middle East, but before we could leave port a number of us had to have our vaccinations updated. This happened periodically to protect us from ‘catching’ something dangerous from yellow fever to smallpox.

Vacs

For the record I’ve been jabbed in Liverpool, HMS Conway (North Wales), London, when I was a cadet in M.V Dunera, Singapore, New Zealand, Dubai & Australia.
I always had a glass of beer afterwards to make sure I was still waterproof. (The older we become the worse the jokes).

This time is was TAB (not the Australian betting system), but protection against typhoid and paratyphoid A and B infection, and another smallpox inoculation. I realised that it was all for our own good, but I often wondered if the needle was also used for sewing buttons on a shirt . . .afterwards my arm ached and for some reason it put me in to a ‘bad’ mood, and on returning to the ship I realised that I was not the only bad tempered crew member ! The mood change lasted until the following day, after which all was back to normal.

During my off-duty time I’d catch a train to Perth, which took about 40 minutes.

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Fremantle was ‘quiet’, except for a few pubs.

The above is from  https://westonlangford.com/license/ a website that is a full of old Australian train pictures.

Trolly

Upon reaching Perth I was surprised to see trolley buses, because they had passed into history in many UK towns – and in 2020 being reconsidered as a ‘cleaner’ form of public transport. History repeating itself I suppose.
The above picture shows the trolley buses parked outside Perth Railway Station.

The visit to Perth and Fremantle as a ‘tourist’ in the late 1960’s was entertaining and interesting, and an easy run ashore at least I could understand the language – well most of the time.

We still stood ‘watches’ so because I usually had the ‘graveyard’ watch Midnight to 4.00 am, I was on ‘nights’, which was from midnight to 8.00 am, because we worked cargo during the night.

I was not the only crew member awake, we also had the duty engineer and his crew in the engine room, because our engine produced power for the cargo lights, the deck equipment and of course the ship’s accommodation.

In addition, the helmsman who was usually on the bridge with me when at sea, was now in charge of the gangway during the night.

We sailed in late May for Colombo Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). I can remember that as we sailed from Fremantle, we kept turning the TV aerial to maintain a good reception and we managed to just finish ‘Till Death Us do part’ before the signal became too weak. I doubt that this program would see the light of day in today’s PC world.

I took over the bridge watch at midnight 31st May and read the Captain’s night orders, stay 15 miles off the coast of the Cocos Islands, which are close to halfway between Fremantle and Colombo.

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Ceylon is the small island that can be seen at the southern tip of India, and Cocos Island is the red circle indicated.
The Cocos Islands are in the southern hemisphere and is only five metres (16 feet) above sea level.

Being so low, and mainly coral, they did not give a good signal return when using the radar, which is why I was to stay far away from the islands.

The islands were discovered by Captain William Keeling in 1609, who was British and in the employ of the East India Company. He came from Southampton

The islands have been called the Cocos Islands, the Keeling Islands, the Cocos–Keeling Islands and the Keeling–Cocos Islands, but now just the Cocos Islands.

The islands were annexed by the British in 1857 and later became the responsibility of the Straits Settlement Governor.
The Straits Settlement consisted of Penang, Singapore, Malacca, Dinding (which is in Malaysia now), and Christmas Island, Indian Ocean, which is about 845 km (525 miles) from Cocos Is.

Later Cocos Island became important because in 1901 it was a cable station for the underwater cable that started in London and connected Australia to the UK.

In WW1 a landing party from the German ship SMS Emden landed on Cocos Is. to cut the cable. The locals managed to send out a distress call and the Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney was sent to investigate.

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SMS Emden in 1914 (SMS = HMS, in the Royal Navy)

A battle took place and SMS Emden was damaged so much that she was beached, after which HMS Sydney chased the Emden’s collier.

After the collier scuttled herself, the Sydney returned to the Cocos Is. and saw that SMS Emden was still flying her battle ensign, which implied that she was still willing to fight. The Captain of the Sydney signaled Emden to surrender and to lower her flag. The signal was sent in plain language so there would not be misunderstanding.

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The SMS Emden failed to reply so HMAS Sydney fired two salvos, at which point the German flag came down and a white sheet indicated their surrender.
The crew of the Emden burned their battle flag rather than allowing it to fall in to the hands of the Australians.

If you would like to know more of SMS Emden click on this link which I posted in April 2017.  https://silverfox175.com/2017/04/

In WW2 it was thought that the Japanese would occupy the islands, but they didn’t, but the Cocos Is. did receive shell fire from a Japanese submarine.

After the fall of Singapore, the island came under the control of Ceylon.

Later in the war the islands were used by the Royal Air Force so as to bomb enemy locations in South East Asia.

After the war the islands once again came under the control of Singapore and in 1955 the islands were transferred from British control to Australian control.

In 1984 a UN monitored referendum was held for the people of the islands to choose their future – they chose to become part of Australia.

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The above is the current flag of the island, and the population estimate in 2019 was 555.

It was a calm night, with clear skies, so I was able to get a faint signal on the radar, which gave me the distance, so I duly wrote this information in the ship’s log.

 

 

 

 

 

Golden Princess

Golden Princess, a sixteen-year-old ship, which has managed to maintain her grace.

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 The Golden Princess is registered in London.

The above photo clearly illustrates the historical link between Australia and the UK. The flag on the left is the Princess company flag.

We did notice a few things different from the more modern vessels.

DSC09645rThe balcony was smaller than those that we have experienced on other Princess ships, but as the weather was not ‘sitting out’ weather this was not a problem.
Our shower cubical was smaller than on previous ships – just don’t drop the soap because I had to step out of the shower to pick it up . . . perhaps this is why the liquid soap bottle is bolted to the bulkhead in the shower – due to a skin reaction to perfumed soap I use basic unperfumed soap, which is why I make an effort not to drop the soap!

DSC09630rThe view from our cabin before we sailed.

DSC09632rAlso Circular Quay ferry terminal from our cabin.

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The cruise has started – ‘sail away’, with the traditional dance music and passengers trying to secure the best photographic position as we sail Sydney Harbour towards the open sea.

DSC09635rA blast form the past, perhaps the last arrival from the 1st Fleet in 1787.

EducationalTours_TheFirstFleetWhat is now Circular Quay, in 1788.

DSC09639rA piece of history, the Sydney ferry passes the top mast of ‘HMAS Sydney’, the Australian light cruiser that fought and beat the German light cruiser ‘Emden‘ off the Cocos Islands in November, 1914, during WW1.

HMAS_Sydney_I_Memorial_Mast-23080-94736 - CopyIf you wish to know more of ‘HMAS Sydney’ and the ‘Emdencheck this link.

DSC09646rThe view from our balcony, after leaving Sydney harbour. I could spend hours just watching the sky change shape – who needs TV?

 

 

Swan of the East

While researching Prince of Wales Island (now called Penang) for the sequel to Ice King (aka Triangle Trade) I came across details of the German cruiser SMS Emden, which had links to Penang.

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Triangle Trade

Maureen often says that I am more interested in the research than the act of writing, which to an extent is correct. Little things started to come together so I thought – how about a blog.

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Karl Friedrich Max von Müller was the son of a German colonel in the Prussian army.

In 1913, at the age of forty, he became a captain in the Imperial German Navy and took command of the light cruiser SMS Emden.

images-1He was posted to the China station and using his initiative he shelled Nanking, because it was in rebellion. For this action he was awarded the Order of the Royal Crown. (Third class).

200px-Prussian_Order_of_Crown_3rd_Class_with_Cross_of_GenevaOn the brink of WW1 the Emden was anchored at Tsingtao, which was a German naval base in China. I sailed in to Tsingtao in 1963, and it was still a naval base then, but this time for the Chinese.

Von Muller took the Emden to sea on the evening of the 31st July, 1914.

On the 4th August Emden captured the Russian mail ship Rjasan, which was the first vessel to be captured by the German Imperial Navy in WW1.

The Emden met up with the German East Asia Squadron commanded by Maximilian Reichsgraf von Spee who had decided to take his squadron across the Pacific and around Cape Horn in to the Atlantic.

Von Muller persuaded the Admiral to allow a loan raider to attack merchant ships in the Indian Ocean – the Admiral agreed.

As an aside Maximilian Reichsgraf von Spee defeated the British 4th cruiser squadron at the Battle of Coronel in November 1914. A month later he decided to attack the Royal Navy at the Falkland Islands, but the British surprised him and his squadron was destroyed. He was killed as were his two sons (serving in other ships of the squadron.)

In Germany he was considered a hero and several ships were named after him, including the ‘pocket battleship’ Admiral Graf Spee, which was scuttled after the Battle of the River Plate in December 1939.

300px-Bundesarchiv_DVM_10_Bild-23-63-06,_Panzerschiff_-Admiral_Graf_Spee-Admiral Graf Spee 

Back to SMS Emden – in the next three month Von Muller captured fourteen merchant ships, and became known as an honorable enemy of the allies. He was daring and did his best not to cause injury to civilians. His attacks required the British to stop merchant ships sailing between Singapore and India.

The British tactics reduced the targets for the Emden, so in September 1914 Von Muller sailed in to Madras harbor at night (now called Chennai) and attacked the oil tanks.

Bombardment_of_Madras_by_S.S._Emden_1914Within thirty minutes the oil tanks were ablaze and causing explosion that damaged vessels in the harbor. SMS Emden sailed before the harbour defense guns could train on  the raider.

The following days she added six more vessel to her score.

On the 16th September 1914 the Royal Navy in Singapore advised the Admiralty, London, that they were sending HMS Yarmouth and HMS Hampshire to hunt down the Emden.

HMS_Yarmouth_(1911)   HMS Yarmouth – note the number of funnels.

   In the mean time SMS Emden added a false funnel to disguise herself as HMS Yarmouth.

Bundesarchiv_Bild_137-001329,_Tsingtau,_SMS_-Emden-_I_im_HafenSMS Emden photo taken in 1911 in Tsingtao.

SMS Emden approached Penang harbour at 4.30 am on the night of the 28th October 1914.

Its silhouette, with the fourth false funnel, gave the impression that HMS Yarmouth, was coming in to port, but once in the harbor, and before he opened fire, Von Muller ran up the Imperial German Navy battle flag.

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He spotted the Russian cruiser Zhemchug at anchor. She was in Penang for repairs to her boilers.
SMS Emden opened fire at three hundred yards (270 mtrs) by firing a torpedo, and followed this with gun fire. The torpedo and the gun fire struck the Russian, and she was soon on fire. Von Muller ordered a second torpedo, which hit the Russian’s ammunition causing a huge explosion as she sank.

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Russian cruiser Zhemchug.

German_postcard_of_the_Battle_of_Penang_1914A German postcard  of the battle.

A French cruiser and destroyer opened fire on the Emden, but they were inaccurate. The firing was enough for Von Muller to order the Emden to retreat.

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A newspaper reporter from the New York Times wrote that she watched the battle of Penang from near the hotel, which would have been the Eastern & Oriental Hotel, where Maureen & I have stayed. I took the above photograph when at the hotel, which shows the entrance to Penang harbour. The anchorage is to the right of the picture, where the battle would have taken place.
The map below is from the report of the New York Times correspondent who witnessed the battle.
At this time, 1914, the USA was still neutral, they didn’t become involved until 7 th December, 1917, which is ironic considering the 7th December in 1941.

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On leaving the harbor the Emden spotted the French destroyer Mousquet, which was coming off patrol and unaware of the Emden’s attack on Penang.

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Postcard of the French destroyer Mousquet.

Von Muller opened fire and sank the Frenchman, after which he rescued thirty five sailors and one officer from the water. He later stopped a British cargo vessel SS Newburn and instead of sinking her he handed over the French survivors on the understanding that the Newburn would take them to a neutral port in Dutch Indonesia and that they would no longer be involved in the war.

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I took the above picture from the Eastern & Oriental Hotel. I think the area to the left of ship in the photograph would have been close to where the Mousquet and the Emden  fought their battle.

SMS Emden sailed south to re-coal from her captured British ship Buresk after which she  headed for the Cocos Islands. Von Muller wanted to destroy the radio station, in the hope that this would cause the British and Australian navies to leave the Indian Ocean to protect their line of communications.

On the night of the 8/9 th November Von Muller arrived at the Cocos Islands and sent a shore party to disable the wireless and the undersea cables. Fortunately the station staff had seen the Emden and managed to get off a message that they had seen a strange ship, before the Emden jammed their transmissions.

A convoy of Australian troops ships was not too far away, and the allied commander ordered HMAS Sydney to investigate.

StateLibQld_1_120860_Sydney_(ship)HMAS Sydney

As the Sydney approached the Cocos Island the Emden opened fire and scored hits on the Sydney with her fourth salvo.

 The Australian ship replied with her heavier guns and soon the SMS Emden was so damaged that Von Muller decided to beach her on North Keeling Island to save the lives of his men.

SMS Emden Image 3The Imperial ensign still flew over the beached ship, she had not formally surrendered. Captain Glossop  of the Sydney signaled a number different ways, including plain language because he knew that the Emden’s code books had been thrown overboard, to try and see if the Emden was ready to surrender. The Sydney fired again and hit the stricken ship before the ensign was pulled down and white sheets hung over the side. The Germans burnt their ensign rather than allowing it to fall in to the hands of the enemy.

Captain Von Muller had captured twenty seven ships for the loss of one civilian life.

Karl Friedrich Max von Müller was captured and ended up in a PoW camp in England. Earlier in his career he had been attached to the East Africa Squadron where he suffered from malaria. The climate in England didn’t agree with the malaria, so he was sent to Holland, under compassionate grounds, as an exchange prisoner, for treatment. In October 1918 he was repatriated to Germany – the war ended in November.

Von Muller was awarded Pour le Mérite (For Merit) (also known as The Blue Max)

200px-Blue_MaxThis was awarded to particular people for excellent service in the military. The military version of the award was stopped in 1918, but the civilian award is still in use – similar to the British OBE

Karl Friedrich Max von Muller died suddenly in 1923 at the age of fifty – weakened by malaria.

Swan of the East was a nick name given to the ship in Tsingtao, because of her sleek lines.

220px-Emden-gun-3One of the Emden’s guns can be seen in Hyde Park in Sydney

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HMAS Sydney’s mast can be seen when taking the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly – it is on the north shore of Sydney harbour.

All of the photographs, except for the two that I took, have been taken from the internet to illustrate a paragraph etc.