Battle of Cocos - History of World War I - WW1 - The Great War

Battle of Cocos - Picture

More about World War 1

World War 1 Picture - A map of the Cocos (Keeling Islands.

Battle of Cocos Information

Battle of Cocos

9 November 1914
Cocos Islands, north east Indian Ocean
Australian victory
Date: 9 November 1914
Location: Cocos Islands, north east Indian Ocean
Result: Australian victory
: Australia
Commanders and leaders:
: John Glossop
: 1 light cruiser
Casualties and losses:
: 1 light cruiser damaged
4 killed
12 wounded

Oceans, 1914-1917

The Battle of Cocos took place on 9 November 1914 during the First World War off the Cocos Islands, in the north east Indian Ocean. The German light cruiser SMS Emden attacked the British cable station on Direction Island and was engaged several hours later by the Australian light cruiser HMAS Sydney. The battle was the first single ship action fought by the Royal Australian Navy.


Emden was launched in 1908; it became the representative of the Kaiserliche Marine at the German colony of Tsingtao, in China and was part of the German East Asia Squadron. After war broke out on 4 August 1914, the squadron was ordered to avoid the superior Allied naval forces in the Pacific, and it headed for Germany, by way of Cape Horn. The sole exception was Emden, under Korvettenkapitx¤n (Lt Commander) Karl von Mx¼ller, which headed towards the Indian Ocean with the objective of raiding Allied shipping. Mx¼ller frequently made use of a fake fourth smokestack, which-when the ship flew the Royal Navy ensign-made the ship resemble the British cruiser HMS Yarmouth and certain other vessels.

Within three months, Emden had sunk 28 Allied merchant vessels and two warships. She had also shelled and damaged British oil tanks at Madras, in British India. The collier Buresk was captured with her cargo intact, and was re-crewed with German seamen to accompany Emden as a supply vessel. Naval victims of Emden were an obsolescent Russian heavy cruiser and a French destroyer off Malaya, at the Battle of Penang on 28 October. By the end of that month, no fewer than 60 Allied warships were hunting Emden.

Coincidentally, on 1 November , a convoy carrying the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) to Egypt, left Albany, Western Australia. Four cruisers escorted the convoy: the Australian HMAS Sydney and Melbourne; the British HMS Minotaur; and the Imperial Japanese Navy's Ibuki.


World War 1 Picture - A map of the Cocos (Keeling Islands.

Picture - A map of the Cocos (Keeling Islands.

The cable and radio station at Direction Island was a critical component of Allied communication in and across the Indian Ocean. Mx¼ller decided to destroy the station's radio tower and equipment.

When Emden reached the island at 06:00 on 9 November, the Eastern Telegraph Company staff quickly realised they were under attack and sent a message saying "Strange ship in entrance" and "SOS, Emden here". A German shore party of 50 seamen with small arms-under Kapitx¤nleutnant Hellmuth von Mx¼cke-was quickly landed with three boats (one big and two smaller ones). The civilian staff on the island offered no resistance, and Mx¼cke even agreed to take care that the 176 ft (54 m) tall radio tower did not fall into the island's tennis court when its base was blown up. Emden signalled Buresk to join her.

The ANZAC convoy happened to be only 50 mi (43 nmi; 80 km) away and it was decided to detach a vessel in response to the SOS signals. Despite intense lobbying from the commander of Ibuki, HMAS Sydney was dispatched at 07:00. The RAN ship was a state-of-the-art "Town"-class light cruiser, commissioned in 1913 and commanded by Captain John Glossop, an Royal Navy officer.

World War 1 Picture - German landing party on Direction Island. [1]

Picture - German landing party on Direction Island. [1]

When lookouts on Emden spotted Sydney approaching, Mx¼ller had no choice but to raise anchor and engage the Australian cruiser, leaving Mx¼cke and his landing party on Direction Island.

Sydney was larger, faster and better armed-eight 6 in (150 mm) guns- than Emden, which had ten 4.1 in (100 mm) guns. However, the German gunners fired first at 09:40 from 6 mi (5.2 nmi; 9.7 km) away and scored hits soon afterwards, knocking out Sydney's rangefinder and one gun. After that, Glossop used his speed and the superior range of his guns to stay out of reach of the German guns and avoided further damage and casualties. Meanwhile, his own gunners gradually found their marks, inflicting sustained and increasingly accurate fire on Emden.

By 10:20, the Germans had lost their steering, electrics and radio. Nevertheless, the battle went on for almost another hour. After taking extremely heavy damage from almost 100 hits, and suffering dozens of casualties, Mx¼ller decided to beach Emden on North Keeling Island to avoid sinking at 11:15. Sydney then pursued Buresk, which was scuttled to avoid re-capture. Mx¼ller had neglected to strike his colours after beaching and when Sydney returned, Glossop signalled Emden to surrender. As no reply was received, he ordered his gunners to resume firing, after which a white flag was run up.


The survivors from Emden were captured and Emden was destroyed. Emden's crew suffered 131 killed and 65 wounded, from a total complement of 360. Sydney had four killed and four wounded. Glossop later said that he "felt like a murderer" for ordering the last salvoes at the helpless ship, but had no choice under the circumstances. Some 230 of Emden's survivors were transferred from Sydney to the SS Empress of Russia for transport to Colombo.

In the meantime, von Mx¼cke and his men had seized the 123 long tons (125 t) three-masted schooner Ayesha-which was moored in the lagoon-and some supplies. Afterward, they made for Padang on Sumatra, in the neutral territory of the Dutch East Indies. There they rendezvoused with a German merchant vessel on 13 December. Mx¼cke's party made their way to Turkey by way of the Red Sea, arriving on 5 May 1915. They then traveled overland, eventually reaching Germany.

Coulthard-Clark, Chris (2010). The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles (Third ed.). Crows Nest: Allen and Unwin. ISBN 9781742373355.

More aircraft.

Source: WikiPedia

eXTReMe Tracker