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Hand written journal of a sailor on board HMAS SYDNEY

Date: 1913 - 1917
Overall: 40 x 320 x 202 mm, 11.4 kg
Display Dimensions: 324 x 210 x 40 mm
Medium: Ink on paper, cloth
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from K Daskalopoulos
Classification:Books and journals
Object Name: Diary
Object No: 00006362
Related Place:Mexico, Gulf of, Rossel Island, Malta, Townsville, Port Moresby, Colombo, Singapore, Cedar Rapids, Cabo Verde, Kingston, Glenelg, Cóbh, Thursday Island, Saint Lucia, Portsmouth, Gibraltar, Bur Said, Corvo, Cape Town, ‘Adan, Aransas, Papua New Guinea, Port Fairy, Flores Island, Albany, Brasil, Bermuda, As-Suways, Açores, Ilhas dos, Plymouth, Veracruz, Sydney, Halifax, Chesapeake Bay, Janeiro, Rio de, Jervis Bay, Gladstone, Darwin, Mauritius, Port Lincoln, Port Arthur, Mobile, Bantry Bay, Santa Marta, Brisbane, Suva, Barbados, Hobart, Colón, Melbourne, Nassau, Galveston, Belize, Cocos Island, La Habana, Trinidad and Tobago, Storm Bay, Jakarta Raya, Sandy Cape, Yucatán, Canal de, Palm Islands, Cairns, Kingston, Martinique, San Juan, Haïti,

User Terms

    Ship's log containing details of places visited by HMAS SYDNEY during its service in WWI including postcards, photographs and ephemera from places visited and dates and distances recorded.

    It written in the hand writing of at least two people. On the cover is a faint name that appears to be I or J Breen.

    HMAS Sydney crew list in 1914 has a John Francis Bree, Able Seaman.

    The diary covers the extensive patrolling of HMAS Sydney during WWI in the Pacific, Indian Ocean, Atlantic Ocean and North Sea. It includes a description of the battle with the German raider SMS EMDEN, and a chart of the course of the EMDEN with the HMAS SYDNEY in pursuit. It also contains photographs of the extensive damage inflicted upon the EMDEN.

    Trainee RAN officers were required to keep their own unoffical ship's logs and this log may be one of these. There is a similar log, handwritten, in the AWM collection. It has different images however. Research continues into the provenance and author of the log.
    SignificanceThe attack on SMS EMDEN was a decisive victory for Australia and the Allies in World War I. By the end of October 1914 no fewer than 60 allied warships were pre-occupied with the hunt for the EMDEN in the Indian Ocean, so effective had von Muller's command of her been and the exploits of EMDEN's crew were the most successful of the entire Imperial German navy.
    HistorySMS EMDEN (1908-1914) was a 'Dresden class' light cruiser of the Imperial German navy, named for the city of Emden on the Ems River. Her raiding cruise in the last months of 1914 and the battle of Cocos and Emden's destruction by HMAS SYDNEY has become one of the most legendary stories from the annals of the naval history of World War I.

    The EMDEN's crew raided Allied shipping in the Indian Ocean, causing chaos in commerce and sinking or capturing twenty three merchant vessels and two Allied warships. In terms of sheer daring and tonnage of Allied shipping sunk or captured, the exploits of EMDEN's crew were the most successful of the entire Imperial German navy. The conduct of her officers and men and the various fates they experienced are the stuff of adventure stories.

    From August to early November 1914 the EMDEN - disguised as a British 'Town class' cruiser (actually as HMS YARMOUTH) by the addition of a fourth (false) funnel - under Captain von Müller achieved a reputation for seamanship, daring and gallantry unparallelled by any other German crew or navy captain. The EMDEN's successes were of extreme concern to the Admiralty in London - where Winston Churchill presided as First Sea Lord - and also to the Australian and New Zealand governments; to such an extent that troop transports from Australia were suspended as well as merchant shipping on various 'runs' - e.g. Bombay to Aden and Colombo to Singapore. By the end of October 1914 no fewer than 60 allied warships were pre-occupied with the hunt for the EMDEN in the Indian Ocean.

    On 9th November 1914 the EMDEN was off the Cocos-Keeling Islands, intent on attacking the radio and telegraph facilities there and to rendezvous with a collier and supply vessel to take on board stores and coal to fuel her own requirements; while waiting for the supply vessel, a well-armed shore party of nearly 50 men under 1st Lt. von Mücke -EMDEN's first officer and 2-ic- landed on Direction Island to destroy the radio-station and cut the submarine cables between Australia and Colombo and Mauritius and Batavia.

    Faced by the large numbers of armed men in the shore party, the station's civilian operators offered no resistance, however before the shore party could wreck the radio- and telegraph system, one of the operators managed to get an emergency radio message out, reporting the presence of the EMDEN. This signal was picked up by the RAN's cruiser HMAS SYDNEY, which detached itself from escorting the first AIF convoy that had just left Albany in Western Australia.

    The EMDEN was caught unaware and in the ensuing engagement the German cruiser was relentlessly shelled by the SYDNEY's superior firepower. After receiving more than 100 hits, Von Muller beached his stricken vessel on North Keeling Island. HMAS SYDNEY then immediately left the scene in pursuit of the EMDEN's supply ship, and when it returned the next day, von Müller, with the rest of his surviving crew, many of them wounded, were captured and eventually taken to Malta via Colombo.

    EMDEN's crew had suffered 131 killed and 65 wounded, from a total complement of 360. The SYDNEY's casualties were much lighter, with only 4 dead and less than 15 wounded.

    During the SYDNEY's absence in pursuit of the supply ship, von Mücke and his shore party seized the Cocos Islands' 120-ton, three-masted copra-carrying schooner AYESHA and made for neutral Padang on Sumatra, where they were able to rendezvous with a German merchant vessel. Von Mücke's party made their way to Turkey by way of the Red Sea and the Arabian peninsula. They eventually reached Germany and received a heroic welcome in May 1915.

    The wreck of the EMDEN on North Keeling Island is a protected site under Australia's 'Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976'

    A personal narrative of the 'Battle of Cocos' by one HMAS SYDNEY's sailors can be read at:

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