- Werner, Arthur
- WWII operations
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- September 1980 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
We opened fire at a range of 4,800 yards. The first broadside fell short, but the next one straddled the enemy. Our fire was at once returned but we received no damage at all. Our continuous fire literally blew the ship to pieces; masts and funnels collapsed, white steam escaped from all sides and she rapidly went to the bottom, bows first. Our Captain at once gave orders for boats to be lowered to save the survivors and we succeeded in picking up thirty-six, amongst which there were several wounded. From the ribbons on their caps we ascertained that it was the French torpedo-boat Mousquet we had just sunk.
But the danger was by no means over. Hardly were the prisoners aboard than another enemy ship was sighted, the French torpedo-boat Fronde which was sending out repeated messages for other ships to join her in pursuing us. Our intention to persuade her to follow us into open sea so that we then turn and destroy her was frustrated when we lost sight of her in a heavy rain squall.
It was a very lucky escape for us and without a scratch we now steered south. The French crew of the Mousquet had fought in an extremely courageous manner and they told us that their Captain had lost both legs in the fighting but had ordered his crew to lash him to the mast, he was determined to go down fighting rather than surrender. Thirty of the survivors were unharmed, but the other six were badly wounded. They showed no sign of fear, indeed they seemed pleased to have been picked up at all, and were extremely grateful for the treatment they received on board. The wounded were nursed to the best of their ability by our surgeons, but nevertheless three of them died and were given a sea burial in the full Naval tradition. Before their bodies were confined to the sea our Captain gave an address in French and German and three salvoes were fired by rifle. It was a moving scene, which left all of us very much impressed both by the dangers and gallantry of war at sea.
Now it was our task to get rid of the prisoners whom we obviously did not wish to have aboard in the event of another attack taking place. Two days later we stopped the British steamer Newburn which was fully laden with stores and provisions. The Captain of the ship was ordered to take over the prisoners and take them to the hospital at Sabang, the nearest port. Medicine, bandages and sufficient provisions were given for the trip and as they left us the prisoners thanked us most heartily for the good treatment they had received. Two days later we heard that the Frenchmen had spoken very well of the Emden, particularly praising our Captain, whom they described as a man who was trying to fight a war as a gentleman.
At our rendezvous, near the coast of Sumatra we again met up with our supply ship Buresk, from whom we immediately started to refuel.
A cruise in the Sunda Straits was without success, we waited for some time in the hope of sighting some enemy ships but none appeared. It had to be supposed that all ships in this area must have been warned by the British Government to stay in port, or to avoid any route that may have been taken by the Emden until such time as she had been hunted down and destroyed.
Our next task was the destruction of the cable and wireless station of the Keeling- Cocos Islands, lying about 400 miles south of the Isle of Sumatra.
A few days later we met our supply ship Exford at the predetermined rendezvous and then sent her to the Isle of Sokotra, near Aden, where we intended to take up our hunting grounds at a later date; but we never saw her again as she was captured by a British cruiser.
During the night of November 8th, we cruised carefully around the Cocos Isles. The experienced eyes of all lookouts swept the area with night-glasses, for we knew from intercepted wireless messages that a ship was guarding the islands.