At the start of World War One the Imperial German Navy had a large number of surface warships deployed around the world. These posed a considerable threat to British mercantile interests, particularly the import of food and fuel supplies. Their elimination was a matter of urgency.
This book covers the major actions and includes the escape of the Goeben and Breslau to Turkey, where they became units of the Turkish Navy serving in the Black and Aegean Seas. The cruiser Emden, detached from the German East Asia Squadron, sank a Russian cruiser, a French destroyer and twenty-one merchant ships, destroying a cargo valued at £3 million. She was later cornered and sunk by the Australian cruiser Sydney while raiding the Cocos Islands. Also mentioned in this book is the mystery of the Karlsruhe, which was destroyed by an internal explosion.
The German East Asiatic Squadron, consisting of the armoured cruisers Schanhorst and Gneisienau and several light cruisers made passage across the Pacific to the west coast of South America where they encountered and sank two British cruisers, the Monmouth and Good Hope, before themselves being sunk off the Falkland Islands.
The Konigsberg operated from Germany’s colony of Tanga. After sinking a British cruisershe hid in the upper reaches of the Rufiji River. After a lengthy naval and air campaign by British forces she was finally destroyed by the indirect fire from two RN Monitors.
By the middle of 1915 the high seas had been mostly cleared of German surface warships, but three armed German ships dominated Lake Tanganyika. Two British armed motor boats were shipped to the West African coast from England where they made their way by river and an overland haulage to the lake, a 400 mile journey. The result was the destruction of the German gun boats and the invasion of Tanganyika by British forces. This operation became the inspiration for CS Forester’s novel The African Queen and the film that followed.
HUNTERS AND THE HUNTED The Elimination of German Surface Warships Around the World 1914-15
This well-written and profusely illustrated book tells the story of the elimination of Germany’s surface raiders by the Royal Navy at the outset of nthe Great War. Among the actions narrated are the hunting of the Emden, the Goeben and the sinking of Von Spee’s Scharnhorst and Gneisenau off the Falklands after they had destroyed a British squadron at Coronel. The last ship to go was the Konigsberg, hunted down in East Africa and the basis for CS Forester’s story The African Queen.