S.M.S. Emden

S.M.S. Emden

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[Original German titles, translated] "Emden" Five English Ships in the Bay of Bengal. Upon the Return of First Lieutenant v. Muecke with the Emden crew in Germany [end]

The story of His Majesty's Ship the Emden is one of the most captivating of World War I. For a few weeks at the start of the war in the fall of 1914, this German destroyer wreaked havoc on British India's west coast, taking British Indian ships and harbours by surprise with daring attacks. As this postcard celebrates, the Emden become a vivid example of force projection to its German supporters. In September it surprised ships in the Bay of Bengal, sinking and capturing numerous vessels ill-prepared for attack, and at the end of the month, decided to bombard Chennai with its guns, setting of fires and scaring the population across British India (even though anti-colonial freedom fighters were delighted by this turn of events). Scuttling about the Indian Ocean between India, Indonesia and Malaysia to sink ships and capture coal and supplies, as well as launch an attack in Penang Harbour at the end of October that added to its notoriety, it was not until November that an Australian warship, the Sydney finally sank it near off the Cocos Islands. During a three-month tenure shuttling across 56,000 kilometers, the Emden had sunk two warships and sank or captured 16 other British ships, plus those of other nations.

First Lieutenant v. Muecke and part of the crew had been stranded before the final Cocos battle, then taken over a captured ship and made it back to Germany via the allied Ottoman Empire. They returned as heroes. A new Emden was commissioned (the Japanese even tried to re-float the sunken original), movies made of its exploits, and its captured guns decorate Australian parks. Needless to say, this was only one of many German postcards glorifying the Emden's exploits.

[Original German titles] Emden versenkt im Hafen v. Bengalen 5 englische Schiffe. Zur Ankunft des Kap.-Leut. v. Muecke mit der Emdem-Mannscahft in Deutschland [end]