9.11.14

8. The "Battle of Cocos"

Well, to tell you all about it as I remember it, was that at about 7.30 in the morning, we altered course, and left the convoy, and we began to gather speed until we were doing about 20 odd knots, we were ordered to breakfast and clean into our white working clothes, soon after breakfast all the ship’s company were ordered aft and the skipper told us we were after an enemy ship, we thought it may be the “K√∂nigsberg”. Well, after the 1st Lieutenant had told us about clearing the ship the bugler sounded “clear ship for action”, well I have seen “clear ship” a few times, it being an evolution for exercise, but I have never seen anything like the way the lads worked that morning, we were steaming so fast, 28 or 29 knots, that we came in sight of the “Emden” before we had cleared everything, we sighted her first off our starboard bow and as I was at a starboard gun, I thought we would come into action first, as soon as we had swung in our starboard sea boat and my work, didn’t that boat come in ! Well as I was sight setter at my gun I took my position ready to receive the ranges bearings etc. from the control position forrard. I might tell you that the sight setter has a seating position at the left side of the gun, just near to the gunlayer, we received the order to train on the foremost bearing and the gun’s crew were all ready and closed up, when the “Emden” opened fire at a long range, our ship swung round, and started with the port guns, well the “Emden” was firing mad, and were getting our range, and I saw our after control position smashed up and then we began to get them falling all around us although just at the time we were disengaged and in a dangerous spot, our gun’s crew stuck right to the gun, and the “biff”, one or two struck an exhaust pipe or something running up either the third or after funnel and exploded and the contents just shattered down on our gun’s crew, three escaped out of nine, we had 4 or 5 charges of cordite near the gun, and that ignited and sent up a great flame and giving two or three of us very bad burns, my gunlayer, a petty officer was hit and burned very badly and died very soon after, another, a young loading number, was killed instantly by a piece striking him in the head, just at the time the only thing I felt was the sensation of my clothes being on fire, and of being very wide awake, well in the rear of the gun we have a tub of water used for sponging out the breach of the gun so as quick as thought I took off my headpiece and sprang off my seat and splashed myself all over.
Image 1: The Emden via Wikipedia
Image 2: The Königsberg painted by Teschinsky via Traditionsverband
Image 3: Ships in battle painted by Malchin via Traditionsverband
Another good image of the Emden can be seen here.

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