Home' Navy News : November 26th 2009 Contents "THEY RE KEEPING THEIR PROMISE TO MY DAD."
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November 26, 2009
"SURRENDER IN THE NAME OF HUMANITY"
By Michael Brooke
THE courage and sacrifice of the
ships companies of Sydney I and
Sydney II against two German raid-
ers in WWI and WWII was saluted
by the Navy and war veterans
Navy paused during the high
operational tempo to commemorate
Sydney I's triumph over the German
raider Emden on November 9, 1914
and Sydney II's fatal duel with SKS
Kormoran on November 19, 1941.
The sacrifice of Sydney II was
commemorated with the unveil-
ing of a commemoration plaque
at Bradley's Head by some 50
Navy personnel including the
COMAUSFLT RADM Steve Gilmore
and members of the HMAS Sydney
RADM Gilmore said the 645
sailors who perished in Sydney II
were a courageous band of broth-
ers who embodied the Navy's val-
ues and ethos of "honour, honesty,
courage, loyalty and integrity".
"When Sydney II was lost with
all hands, 645 Australian sons,
husbands, fathers, brothers and
friends, made the ultimate sacri-
fice. In doing so, they became the
unwitting symbols of the values we
cherish and the freedom we enjoy,"
"This plaque will provide tan-
gible recognition for years to come
of those wonderful men and their
Sydney I's victory over Emden
in WWI was marked with a dining
in night at the Kuttabul wardroom,
where the Governor of NSW Marie
Bashir was the special guest.
The dining in night saluted the
defining moment for the fledging
RAN, when Sydney I's destruction of
Emden did as much for Australia's
emerging nationalism as it did for
our country's international reputa-
tion.The NSW Governor said
Sydney's battle with SMS Emden
was a feat of arms that never
slipped from the nation's conscious-
ness -- even now after the first
flush with pride in the creation of
Australia's new Navy, and the patri-
otic elation at its first naval victory.
By LCDR Fenn Kemp
THE RAN has commemorated
the anniversary of its first sea bat-
tle between HMAS Sydney and the
German light cruiser SMS Emden in
a confrontation that changed the way
Australians thought of themselves as
Tributes to Australia's first victory at sea 95 years on
a maritime nation.
On November 9, 1914 an urgent sig-
nal was sent by the wireless operator on
the Cocos Islands reporting the arrival
of a mysterious warship. HMAS Sydney
I, escorting the first Australian and New
Zealand troop convoy to the European
theatre of war, was sent to investigate.
The mysterious visitor turned out
to be SMS Emden, which in just two
months of war had already captured or
sunk 25 merchant vessels, a Russian
cruiser and a French destroyer.
The German ship opened fire first,
accurately targeting her Australian
enemy with a salvo every six seconds.
A dozen hits were recorded in the first
10 minutes of the engagement, but
fortunately for Sydney only five burst.
Four Australian sailors were killed and
several were wounded.
Sydney hit back hard. Her 6-inch
shells wrecked the enemy's steering
gear, shot away equipment and smashed
Emden's internal communications.
Shortly afterwards her forward funnel
toppled overboard, followed soon after-
ward by the foremast.
Despite the damage and the inevi-
table end, Emden fought on. Half her
crew were disabled and her second fun-
nel had gone before her captain ran her
aground in a bid to prevent further loss
Sydney's Commanding Officer
CAPT John Glossop later signaled his
"I have the honour to request that
in the name of humanity you now sur-
render your ship to me...In the event
of your surrendering in which I venture
to remind you is no disgrace but rather
your misfortune, I will endeavour to do
all I can for your sick and wounded and
take them to a hospital."
Emden lost 134 men killed in action
or died of wounds, but the care lav-
ished on the wounded by the Australian
sailors did much to earn the respect of
the defeated Germans.
Royal Australian Navy Historian
Dr David Stevens said the RAN was
blooded for the first time that day.
Although highly signifi-
cant, the battle is some-
very familiar with the
Anzac legend forged at
Gallipoli," Dr Stevens
"But Australia's bap-
tism of fire came several
months earlier, and a lot
closer to home. By remov-
ing the German threat
at sea the RAN ensured
that future convoys could
cross the oceans in safety.
No Australian soldier was
ever lost to enemy action
on his way to the Middle
The men who fought
and died for their respec-
tive countries left behind a legacy of
honour, honesty, courage, integrity
and loyalty -- these are the values that
Navy lives by to this day.
FIRST BLOOD: HMAS
Sydney I brought an end to
one of Germany's most suc-
cessful raiders of WWI.
Photo: Navy Historical Society
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