Sunday, 17 August 2014

The fate of the German "Australian Station"

At the start of the First World War the German Navy (Kaiserliche-marine) was divided into two main fleets with a Home port each and several smaller stations with responsibility over their areas which usually lay with the senior Captain taking charge of the vessels in time of emergency if no Flag officer was present.

Outside of the Grand Fleet there was the East Asia Squadron under Admiral von Spee with the cruisers Scharnhorst, and Gneisnau forming the core and the light cruisers Leipzig and Nürnberg. The light cruiser Emden was based in the home port, the Chinese concession of Tsingtao for defence. Smaller groups included the Schutztruppe in East Africa based at Dar Es Salaam (which consisted of the light cruiser Konigsberg) and the Australian station, based at Apia, tasked with patrols of the German islands of Samoa, Solomon Islands, Marianas, Marshal Is., Naura, Palau and Papau New Guinea. The vessels attached to the station were the survey vessel Planet and the Bussard class cruiser Cormoran.

Cormoran (Cormorant) was laid down in 1890 at Danzig with final completion on 25th July 1893.
SMS Cormoran
Armed with two deck mounted torpedo tubes, eight quick firing 10.5cm Sk l/35 guns on single pedestal mounts with 100 rounds each (range of up to 10,800 metres) scattered with two at the front, two on each side and two at the back. There was also five revolver cannon. The Bussard class were the last class of cruiser to be fitted with sailing rig as well as coal fired engines. As an "Unprotected" cruiser the Bussard class lacked side armour and all important deck armour protecting the vital equipment within the vessel. Eventually the Naval race between England and Germany meant designs leapt and bounded past them leaving them obsolete for fleet engagements but useful to carry out patrol ship duties, especially in the colonies and the islands of Australasia. She was never going to be the power in any particular water but against the isolated islands and for policing she was more than formidable. After a long career in Pacific waters carrying out various tasks including supressing two rebellions (once with the aid of the Kreuzerwaffe of the East Asian squadron), Cormoran was downgraded as a cruiser to a gunboat on 24th February 1913 by order of Admiral Tirpitz. Cormoran moved to Tsingtao for a refit on 30th May 1914. As war approached the senior Naval officer in Tsingtao, Kapitan Karl von Müller of the Emden ordered the repairs to Cormoran accelerated so that she could be sea worthy should war start. Emden left Tsingtao to go hunting just as war seemed imminent hoping to catch Russian warships at sea unaware. When she returned with the Russian freighter Ryazan in tow on the 4th August the situation had accelerated with Great Britain declaring war and Müller made the decision to abandon repair work on Cormoran and move her crew and guns over to Ryazan along with crewmen from the gunships Iltis, Luchs and Tiger as well as some war volunteers. The vessel was renamed SMH Cormoran II. The Cormoran was eventually scuttled by the Imperial Dockyard staff on the 28th-9th September to stop her from being captured.

Meanwhile her sister ship Geier (Vulture) was dispatched to replace her on the Australian station. The Geier had previously replaced another Bussard class cruiser, See-Adler, in East Africa and sailed from Taganyika for Tsingtao and stopped at Singapore to recoal and resupply. Hearing rumours of war about to break in Europe and aware of being in a British port the cruiser and her collier Bochum fled the Royal Navy and headed out to sea on the 29th July. Royal Navy intelligence passed to Admiral Jerream of the Chinese station stated that the Gneisnau instead of Geier had fled Singapore which shows how unreliable the observations and intelligence could be.

The Geier and Bochum managed to avoid the Royal Navy virtually disappearing and becoming a virtual threat that could have been a threat to merchant vessels and troop transports making the journey without escorts. She, like Emden and Spee's squadron were ghosts that were everywhere and nowhere. However Geier received orders from the admiralty to find the other vessel from the Australian squadron, the SMS Planet which was heading to Yap island to defend the important German Radio and supply base in the Caroline Islands. Once found she was to transfer her guns and torpedo tubes to the already lightly armed (3 revolver cannons) Planet and defend the island from any attack as best they could, failing that release the Planet for commerce raiding.

Geier was supposed to meet with the supply ship Tannenfels (which had also fled Singapore on the 2nd August) loaded with 8500 tonnes of coal aboard that had been bought in Batavia but the collier never appeared at the rendezvous. Luckily for the Geier they did come across the Emshorn which transferred 1300 tonnes to the German cruiser and 1700 tonnes to Bochum before departing to try and make contact with von Spee’s ships but with the British capturing and destroying German radio stations and Spee operating under W/T silence the chances of finding them was very low, especially as Spee was heading due East at a faster speed than the old Geier could muster. The only other major German warship in Asian waters did make contact and after a missed meeting at Anguar on the 20th August, Geier met with Emden and her collier Markommania at sea where the Geier’s Korvettenkapitän Grasshoff was ferried over to speak to Kapitan von Müller. No doubt they discussed the situation at length. It was decided that Geier would proceed to Anguar and not accompany Emden, possibly because she would slow down the bigger cruiser and be a liability if they were engaged by any Naval units. Geier taking on the mantle of a loan raider made things harder for the Royal Navy. With two separate units attacking targets in different areas it would cause confusion and chaos. If one were captured or sunk then the other would still be at sea. It was probably at this juncture that the decision to not get to the Planet was formalised and the junction at Yap Island written off, Geier would not make it before the Allies arrived and if they did they would surely be outnumbered, outclassed and out gunned by any Allied invasion force. Staying at sea was the only viable option.

As Emden made for the Molucca strait Geier turned for Anguar with Bochum. On arrival the empty supply ship was replaced with the supply ship Locksun (carrying 2000 tonnes of coal) and the Tsingtao (carrying 2300 tonnes of coal.) Locksun was ordered ahead to the Majuro atoll in the Marshall Islands whilst Tsingtao accompanied Grasshoff to New Hannover but Tsingtao was far from perfect as a supply ship, the coal it carried was Japanese and of a poor quality, it also had limited supplies and even lacked a water distillery for fresh water so had to use the Geier’s water distillery which meant regular stops to transfer water.

On the 4th September at the island of Kusaie Geier surprised and captured the British freighter SS
SMS Geier
and boarded her. Captain Clopet told the Germans he had been at sea and had no idea that Engalnd and Germany were at war. Taking them at their word the German boarding party decided not to scuttle the vessel and instead disabled the engines and disposed of tools that would aid in its repair before promptly disappearing again. The situation on Southport was bleak, it would take a miracle to get the engines working again but with pure determination from Clopet and his engineer Mr H Cox they managed to jury rig the engines to work in a very flimsy manner – it wouldn’t go backwards and they were was a strong concern that should they ever stop they may not get it to go again. This was coupled with the 2000 miles to the nearest British port and a severe lack of supplies. The Germans had told the local tribal king to supply the British ship with as much supplies as they could whilst it remained at the island and Clopet was able to barter for 350lb of coconuts and 400lb of a local root that the natives would eat for sustenance when all other food ran out, then he gave the order to set sail. On the 30th September Southport pulled into Brisbane harbour and it became one of the great tales of British seamanship, doing the impossible and news of the Geier’s last known position was reported to the Admiralty but it was almost a month out of date. 

Now with the Locksun supporting her Geier continued its cruise around the Pacific but as coal supplies dried up the collier had to tow Geier when a recoaling at sea had to be abandoned due to rough weather and seas. Grasshoff had to change his plans again. He had hoped to get to San Francisco and surrender to the neutral Americans before he was caught by the Allies in open water, sadly his shortages of supplies meant that he would have to find a closer port to put into. On 15th October the two vessels put into Honolulu harbour. According to international law neutral ports were only meant to allow warships of belligerent nations up to twenty-four hours to resupply and do minor repairs but as there was a lot of anti-British feeling amongst the Americans and the islanders the Geier was given an extension of three weeks! 
 On 23rd October at 23:30 the USCRS Thetis spotted two steam powered launches acting strangely out in the harbour and signalled them to no avail, it lowered a boat and attempted to board one of them and fired a blank round from its’ 3lb deck gun causing the two ships to disappear into the night. The next morning the sun rose to reveal the battleship IJS Hizen and armoured cruiser Asama, with them was the German schooner Aeolus which the Japanese had caught just outside Honolulu harbour with its cargo of Copra. The Japanese were transferring the German captives to the Loksun in the harbour as well as taking the Copra aboard their vessels. Hizen’s launches continued to violate American territorial waters with their launches being chased by Thetis on several occasions including ordering the Japanese crews off the Hermes, another German trader overtaken and boarded within the three mile exclusion zone and ripping down the German flag. Captain Schmidt protested with the Japanese sailors claiming asylum and hoisted it back up as Thetis came closer threatening the Japanese with her guns. Hermes was greeted with cheers from the two German vessels already in port after the Japanese were forced to abandon their attempted capture. Hizen’s Captain claimed in an interview that he intended on waiting for Geier to come out and would stick to the rules of neutrality rigidly but every night his vessels would harry shipping within the boundary limits and the US navy sent out a further two launches from Pearl Harbour to aid Thetis, the actions of the Japanese did nothing to ingratiate them or the Allied cause to the Americans on the island.

With the amount of neutral shipping, including Japanese and German, operating in Hawaiian waters it would have been exceptionally disruptive should Geier take to sea and Grasshoff must have known that his vessel would have been doomed against the two heavier Japanese units and so it was decided to plead for asylum and internment at Honolulu, an action that satisfied all three parties and on 8th November it became official and the two Japanese vessels left for San Clemente.

Three years later Geier was seized by American forces when the US joined the Allied cause against Germany. Her crew was taken into POW camps and the vessel renamed USS Schurz and refitted for escort duties. After various duties she was eventually sunk in a collision with a merchant vessel (SS Florida) which cut a sizable chunk out of her bow killing one crewman and injuring twelve. The order to abandon ship was given and on 21st June 1918 she sank beneath the waves.

SMS Planet

The other vessel in the station, the aforementioned survey vessel SMS Planet was scuttled on 7th October 1914 at Yap island to stop her capture by the approaching Japanese expeditionary force and her crew were transferred to the SMH Cormoran
II, her wreck was later salvaged by Japan in 1916. With nothing more than three 3.7 cm revolver cannons she stood little chance of defending herself or the colony nor much chance of escape. Grasshoff's decision to not go to Yap was a wise one as his vessel would not have made any difference and both vessels would have been lost that day. He, like Spee took the gamble that should (when) Germany win the war, their colonies would be returned to them.

The German Australian squadron was not a war winning squadron, thousands of miles from the High seas fleet with obsolete vessels unsuited to war with the other Imperial powers and with only a limited ability against merchant shipping as their supply bases were quickly over run. The only hope for them would be to join up with Spee's East Asian squadron but they would be a hinderance to his larger vessels as traversed the ocean for Germany and would have been destroyed quickly in any major engagement. Their fate was sealed the day Britain and Japan entered the war and it was only a matter of time before they were forced to scuttle or be interned.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Escape of SMS Goeben and Breslau

SMS Goeben
It was 2.45am on 6th August 1914, and conditions on Rear Admiral Troubridge's flagship Defence were tense as in a little over three hours the first Cruiser squadron of the Mediterranean fleet consisting of the light cruisers Black Prince, Duke of Edinburgh, Warrior and Defence, with a screen of destroyers would be engaging the German battle-cruiser Goeben and her escort Breslau.

Throughout the night the squadron's men were preparing themselves mentally for the roar of the guns, explosions and the very real possibility that they could be killed and this was something that was preying on the mind of Captain Fawcett Wray when he stepped into the Admiral's chart room.

"Are you going to fight sir? Because if so the Squadron ought to know." He asked.

"Yes, I know it is wrong but I cannot have the name of the whole Mediterranean squadron stink" came the reply.

Obviously concerned by the answer Captain Wray, normally over confident and sure of his abilities voiced his concerns about the one sided nature of the upcoming battle. Goeben had almost twice the displacement of each of his cruisers, a slightly less weighty broadside but she was faster with bigger guns with longer range. Wray had been looking at these sums and that in daylight Goeben could rain down her 11" shells well out of range of the British squadron and use her superior speed to stay out of the British range. Wray finished his evaluation with the icy observation;

"It seems to me it is likely to be the suicide of your squadron."

       ***             ***          ***           ***         ***        ***        ***         ***       ***           ***        

Goeben and Breslau had been in the Mediterranean since 1912 patrolling the Balkans during the recent conflicts and flying the flag for Germany in the region. Goeben was a relatively new design having been completed in 1911 and dispatched before her sea trials had been completed and she had some on going boiler issues. Breslau, a light Magdeburg class cruiser was also constructed in 1911 and was similarly dispatched with the duty of escorting Goeben.

HMS Indefatigable one of three cruisers that could have sunk Goeben
As tensions grew in Europe grew Admiral Souchon the C-in-C of the Mediterranean squadron put into Pola, the Austro-Hungerian main Naval base and had his vessels overhauled and formed strategy with his counterpart Admiral Haus. It was decided on the outbreak of hostilities that the German and Austro Hungarian fleet would sail to the West of the Mediterranean and intercept the French XIX army corps that would be undoubtedly be transported by individual ships and covered by the French fleet spread out across the 3-400 miles route.

The German fleet had put into Messina on 2nd August to re-coal for a patrol and found facilities severely lacking. Souchon confiscated the German liner General and moved her crew over the Goeben  as well as a sizable chunk of coal whilst removing any unnecessary equipment from his vessels and stowed them. They pulled out of the harbour on the 3rd August at 1 am, slipped around the north coast at 16-17 knots heading for the ports of Phillipeville and Bône. At 6pm they received confirmation that Germany was at war with France. They accordingly divided then and headed for their targets.

The French fleet had also left port at Toulon on the 3rd August to escort the XIX army corps, however Admiral Lapeyrère had deployed his fleet into three sections to escort the transports in convoy rather than forming a broad front.

The Royal Navy under Admiral Archibald Berkeley Milne had also divided its forces with Rear Admiral Troubridge being dispatched with the first cruiser squadron to watch the Adriatic in case the Austro-Hungarian fleet should leave Pola. Milne was directed to remain with his other ships (Chatham, Weymouth) in case Admiral Souchon turned west or headed for the Atlantic. None of those were Milne's decisions, they came directly from London in a telegram on the 2nd August.

The lengthy message outline what Milne should do completely. His primary duty was to protect the French convoys, bring to action any individual fast ships but not to engage a superior force without French support.
Troubridge made clear to Milne that he believed that Goeben was a superior force to his cruisers, Milne was not worried.
"That question won't arise as you will have Indoubtable and Indefatigable with you."
Indeed the two I class cruisers with their 12" guns gave Troubridge an edge should battle with Goeben occur, they could engage her in a gun duel whilst the smaller cruisers and destroyers got closer for their guns and torpedoes. Their presence would also make the Austro-Hungarian fleet think twice. So with those two vessels, the cruisers Duke of Edingburgh, Black Prince, Defence, Warrior, the light cruiser Gloucester, and eight destroyers at 8pm on 2nd August.

The Germans made the first move. Despite receiving a telegram from his superiors in Berlin maked "Urgent" Souchon decided to press ahead with his original orders, which the new orders did not countermand. Goeben bombarded Phillipeville with fifteen shells before withdrawing. These were no transports laden with troops, no docked warships, no stocks of ammunition. Breslau found the same at Bône so Souchon ordered the withdrawal to save ammunition. He feinted westward before changing course north before looking at his new orders. Admiral Tirpitz was ordering his force to head east for the Bospherous with all due haste and then on to Constantinople. The idea behind it was to present the new ships to the Ottoman Empire replacing the two British build dreadnaughts that were confiscated by the admiralty before hostilities began.

At 10:30am, three and a half hour's before Great Britain's ultimatum was delieverd to Germany, Goeben and Breslau encountered Indomitable and Indefatigable, who had been ordered by the Admiralty (via Milne) to reverse course and head for Gibraltar in case the German squadron was heading west. As the two squadrons passed their main turrets turned to face each other and with each side eying each other suspiciously none of the customary courtesy signals were sent. As Goeben passed the two Royal Navy cruisers turned to pursue at a distance but keeping enough speed in reserve. Admiral Souchon must have intercepted the message from the Admiralty to Captain Kennedy about the British Ultimatum to Germany because he ordered more speed. In the Goeben's boiler room on a hot summer day the German stokers toiled so hard that they began to suffer from heat exhaustion, many passing out over their shovels and being carried out to lay on the relative cool air of the deck then at a critical moment there was a mechanical failure that released a cloud of red hot steam that scalded four men to death, but the orders held and the officers continued to press their men on. Slowly but surely she made headway over her pursuers who although of a comparable speed were in need of engine maintenance and their bellies scraping and they were unable to keep pace, even the light cruiser Dublin who managed another hour was forced to give up the chase sending the following signal to Milne at 7.37pm.

"Goeben out of sight now, can only see smoke, still daylight."

Later that night Admiral Milne was informed that both German ships had entered Messina harbour which threw up some new problems for the Royal Navy.

The good news was that they knew where Goeben was. The bad news was that he didn't know where they would go. The rumour of a German collier in Majorca weighed on his (and the Admiralty's) mind and the belief that the German ships would ignore the heavily defended French convoys and head out to terrorise the unprotected merchant ships in the Atlantic.

His hands were then tied by the Admiralty with a signal at 18:00 with the announcement of Italy's declaration of neutrality and banning any of His Majesty's ships from going within six miles of the Italian coastline, this would stop him from sailing down the straits of Messina or face violating international law. The best he could do was to deploy his ships at each end of the straits. Admiral Fisher (later First Sea lord) Commented afterwards that;

(Milne) "had no excuses whatever for not surrounding Messina with all his entire force right round the harbour mouth - close up! As if international law mattered a Damn! and the Italians would have loved him forever!"

Indeed when it came to international law the Royal Navy did not hesitate when it came to the Battle of Más a Tierra when HMS Kent and Glasgow violated Chilean neutrality to sink SMS Dresden which only led to the German consulate complaining. Although Italy was not Chile and the British government did not wish to provoke Italy despite their stance against Austria. However Milne lacked the flare to act independently, as was his right as the C-in-C on the spot.
Admiral Souchon in Turkish uniform
They pay me to be an Admiral, they don't pay me to think.

So Milne stuck rigidly to the orders he was given by the Admiralty in London. Troubridge was left at the mouth of the Adriatic watching for the Austrian fleet which he was capable of holding or slowing and waiting for Milne's squadron for reinforcements as long as the Austrian dreadnaughts did not sail.

Milne spread his I-class cruisers between Sicily and Tunisia in case the German Division did make aGloucester waited at the other end of the strait of Messina ready to tail the Germans.
move towards the French transports whilst he patrolled the North coast of Sicily with his other ships. The superior French fleet which could have decided the outcome could not be contacted and remained and unquantifiable. HMS

Souchon was having to make some hard choices as well. The Italians had given him a strict twenty four hour deadline and the coal stokes were severely lacking, there would not be enough to make it to Turkey. He confiscated as much coal as he could from any and all of the German vessels present ripping up their deck plates to speed up the process but it was still not enough. He also knew that the Royal Navy would be surrounding Sicily the situation was getting tough. He also received a signal saying that the Turkey order was not definite and that his reception was not guaranteed. Logically only the Austro-Hungarian fleet was safe, but how long before the Allies came for them and they were trapped in the Adriatic?

He decided to roll the dice and Goeben and Breslau slipped out of port at nightfall on the 6th August heading south through the straits and arranging to meet a collier in the Aegean islands. Milne heard that they had left and immediately redeployed his vessels heading west and then south to catch the Germans as they sailed around Sicily and slipped west which the Admiralty was certain they would do.

Souchon didn't know where the Royal Navy was and was concerned that with the amount of time needed to coal up he could find his small fleet being caught in the islands where they couldn't manoeuvre and taken apart. Goeben's engines were also playing up as they had been pressed hard in the last pursuit and he could not guarantee they could reach that speed again. There was another more pressing problem. He was being pursued by HMS Gloucester.

The light cruiser was dogged in her pursuit holding at 26 knots she refused to budge and even steered between Goeben and the shore to force the Germans to make a wider turn and slow down further. Breslau quickly dropped back fearing a torpedo attack on the lead German vessel and started making threatening passes and looking like she might fire at any time. Realising that the Germans could easily disable his vessel Captain Kelly ordered his ship to pull back and using the moonlight keep watch and signal Admiral Milne of their position. Admiral Troubridge was ordered to bring his fleet of cruisers, the light cruiser Dublin and his destroyers to intercept the Germans. At first confused by the heading and Goeben's feint Troubridge delayed his departure thinking he was going to turn north towards him but when it became clear from Captain Kelly's updates that the German's were still heading south east he ordered the fleet to make all due haste to meet them. According to estimates he should arrive in the vicinity of Goeben and Breslau at 6.30am. He signalled Dublin and Gloucester which arrived at 2.54am;

"First Cruiser squadron position 2.30 am 38 ̊ 25'N, 20 ̊ O'E Course south 20 knots. Am endeavouring to cross Goeben's bows at 6am."

Now Admiral Troubridge was waiting for his Navigator and said to Wray;

"I cannot turn away now, think of my pride!"

"Has your pride got anything to do with it sir? It is your country's welfare which is at stake" came the measured response.

After listening to the navigator with Captain Wray as they discussed the chances of his fleet getting through the up coming combat. It didn't look good. It was as they feared, the chances of them being able to get close enough to the German battle cruiser which had proved so amazingly fast against the two I-class battle cruisers just a few days before was very small. It seemed Wray's evaluation was correct. With tears in his eyes Troubridge ordered the end to the pursuit at 4am on the 7th August. Wray commented that;

"That was the bravest thing you have ever done in your life."

It is debated by historians and by the Admiralty in the enquiry and Troubridge's court martial as to whether he had done the right thing. Arguably with luck and a good amount of skill Troubridge could have damaged Goeben enough to slow her down or in best case scenario sunk her. The problem was how many of the Royal Navy ships would have gone down with her? Wray's theory might very well have come true and with Breslau running interference it could have become very dicey. There was also the confirmation that without the I-class cruisers that Goeben constituted a "superior force" as outlined by the Admiralty's prior orders, if anything Troubridge was following orders which is why he was eventually acquitted. At the battle of Jutland in 1916 HMS Defence did come into combat with German warships and was sunk after receiving seven strikes. Also at Jutland was Seydlitz, a similar vessel to Goeben took twenty-two 12" shells and thirteen to fifteen 15" shells which was a lot more powerful than the 9.2" guns Defence and the rest of Troubridge's squadron were sporting. In the enquiry Milne was asked what he considered were the most important factors to naval combat and he argued it was: "Gun power, weather and speed" so didn't consider armour worthy of note but it would have been the deciding factor for Troubridge's squadron.

At 4.49 am Troubridge signalled Milne to request orders and to report his decision.

"Why did you not continue to cut off Goeben? She only going 17 knots, and so important to bring her to action." was the reply.

For the first time Troubridge explained his actions in a very lengthy message at 8.30am:

"With visibility at the time I could have been sighted from twenty to twenty-five miles away and could never have got nearer unless Goeben wished to bring me to action which she could not have done under circumstances most advantageous to her. I could never have brought her to action. I had hoped to have engaged her at three thirty in the morning in dim light but had gone north first with the objective of engaging her at the entrance of the Adriatic.
I was too late to intercept her when she altered course to the south. In view of the intense importance of victory or defeat at such early stages of a war I would consider it a great imprudence to place Squadron in such a position as to be picked off at leisure and sunk while unable to effectively reply. The decision is not the easiest of the two to make. I am well aware."

Elsewhere that morning as Souchon's men had been unable to jam Kelly's transmissions the Breslau took positive steps to shake off their pursuer and with a need to shake them before coaling. She began weaving across the path of Gloucester as if laying mines. Captain Kelly ordered his 6" guns to fire on the German ship hitting with one shell beneath the waterline. Breslau began to rain down accurate fire upon the smaller British ship but unperturbed Captain Kelly urged his vessel to close the range so he could use his full broadside and torpedoes on the light German vessel. Pin pricks of light on the silhouette of Goeben meant only one thing and as two white columns of water confirmed Captain Kelly's fear, Souchon had ordered his vessel to slow and turn and bring his long range guns to bear on him. Kelly knew the odds and ordered his vessel to drop back signalling Milne at 2.45pm that:

"Have engaged at long range with Breslau and retreated when Goeben turned. I am now following again."

Souchon must have been very worried as with a light cruiser pushing at his fleet it could only mean that the Royal Navy were closing in on him. He must have been relieved to see Gloucester drop away at 4pm low on coal and following orders from Milne not to go further than Mataban and sent a final signal registering the German's course for the Aegean.

It wasn't until the early morning on the 8th August, some twenty four hours later that Admiral Milne would set off from Malta, 460 miles to the west with his three I-class cruisers and Weymouth to find Goeben. He would later site that HMS Indomitable which had been ready to sail on the 7th could not have gone alone as she was suffering from boiler issues and waited for his force to go en-masse. Still thinking Souchon was feinting took his time sailing at 10 knots awaiting the Admiralty to tell him good news.

Admiral Souchon met up with a collier in the Greek islands and began the lengthy process of fully coaling up for the last leg to the Bospherous, all the time listening to the Royal Navy's W/T transmissions getting closer and closer. Luckily for him the indecision of Admiral Milne and Troubridge's returning to the Adriatic meant he had enough time to carry out the operation without harassment on the 9th August. They made off at full speed and reached the Dardenelles on the 10th August at 5pm and received an escort through the minefield up to Constantinople, transferring his vessels to the Turkish navy on the 16th. It was a close run thing as Milne's vessels smoke could be seen coming over the horizon as they entered the Turkish mine fields. When Milne did arrive he was refused permission to give chase and was forced to stop.

The pursuit was viewed as a victory in the British press and celebrated as an example of the Royal Navy sweeping up the Mediterranean and the cowardly Germans running for safety rather than standing and fighting Milne's vessels. The Admiralty were not of the same opinion. The investigation into Troubridge's actions warranted a court martial for failing to engage but he was eventually acquitted due to the Admiralty's foggy order not to engage a superior force and what a superior force consisted of. Although considered blameless Troubridge and Milne's careers never recovered and they soon lost their posts being promoted sideways. Souchon however was promoted to Commander in Chief of the Turkish fleet on 23rd September 1914 and by November Turkey had joined the Central powers in their war against the Allies which led to the Gallipoli campaign as well as Britain's war in Mesopotamia and Palestine causing more deaths and casualties.

Condensed from the (hopefully) upcoming Kindle book "Evaders; Spee and Souchon against the Royal Navy" by C. Sams