Part of the Acorn Archive
Hearts of Oak
The MOEWE ( “Seagull “) was the most successful German auxiliary armed raider. Probably one of her most controversial kills was that of the GEORGIC ( built 1895); despite the capture of the crew, in 1916, the GEORGIC was sunk with 1,200 horses on board. The CLAN MACTAVISH tried heroically to fight back, but lost with 17 crew dead.
The MOEWE took 38 ships in two raids.
Built 1914 J C Tecklenborg, Geestemunde,
as the PUNGO; For F Laeisz & Co.
1915 Relieved of her banana cargo work, by the German Government;
Converted into a Raider; 12 knots; Armament, Nine guns 4.7 and 6 inch; concealed behind screens that could be dropped when desired.
Renamed as the MOEWE; Disguised as VINETA, a Norwegian merchantman, she escaped through the British blockading force in the North Sea, and raided shipping in the Baltic. First news of her being at sea came to hand as a consequence of her sinking a number of merchant vessels, and there was much confusion as to what ship she was. She went on a mission of mine laying, New Year’s Day 1916, along the British Coast.
On 16th January 1916 she captured the British APPAM, North of Madiera, released some German prisoners of war that were aboard her, put a German crew on board, and they took the steamer to Hampton Roads, USA.
4th March 1916, the Germans reported that the MOEWE had returned safely to her home port, bringing with her the masters and some of the crew of 22 Allied vessels which she had captured/destroyed. She made another raiding voyage in 1917, and 12 more vessels fell to her.
At one point, Renamed OSTEE; Used as a minelayer, again.
1920 After the Armistice the MOEWE was amongst the merchant craft surrendered to the British Government, she was handed over under the name PUNGO; fitted out as a fruit carrier and handed over to Turner Brightman & Co, London; sold on to Elders and Fyffes; Renamed GREENBRIAR.
1933 Sold to Deutsche Seeverkehrs and re-named OLDENBURG
1945 Sunk by a British plane, at Vadheim, Sognefjord, Norway,
She had namesakes before her ….
The North German Lloyd Steamship MOEWE
The Times 20th January 1896
Disaster at Sea
The cotton laden steamer DRUMELZIER, from New Orleans, has arrived at Bremerhaven, whence her master telegraphs to his owners in Liverpool that he has on board the crew of the German iron ship MOEWE, from South America, with nitrate, which had sunk after collision. From the information to hand it is believed that the vessels came into collision while the DRUMHELZIER was about to respond to a signal of distress displayed by the MOEWE. All the crew of the latter were saved before she sank.
The Times 14th August 1914
Raid on German East Africa
Wireless Station Destroyed
Nairobi 13 August 5pm
Further details have been received here concerning the British raid on Dar-es-Salaam. Landing parties from two British cruisers effected an entrance to the harbour, and the new German wireless station was completely destroyed. Steps were taken also to render the wireless installations in German ships useless. The ships in harbour were dismantled and their engines rendered useless. The floating dock and the German survey ship MOEWE were sunk in the harbour. Zanzibar is quiet. the Government is exercising control over their foodstuffs and the natives are pursuing their customary vocations.
- Central News.
The effects on life,
from the actions of the MOEWE
were very wide reaching
and over a considerable number of years
Commander of the MOEWE, published in June 1916,
the story of the ship's voyages.
The Times 7th July 1916
The Moewe's Adventures
Laying Mines on British Coast
Berne July 1st - Count Dohna-Schlodien, commander of the MOEWE, has just published a short history of the ship's adventurous voyage. The MOEWE's orders were first to lay mines along certain portions of the British Coast, and then to carry on a cruiser war.
From an advanced summary of the first chapter in the German Press the mine laying began on New Year's day, which the count describes as being splendidly fine for the work. The MOEWE steamed towards the English coast, fearing every moment to see the smoke of an enemy warship, but nothing was seen. The Count remarks that the English never thought that New Year's day was a great festival for us on which we intended to lay "eggs" along the English coast at this season of the year, instead of march and April.
The mines were laid close under the coast. Black and egg shaped in form, each mine is nearly as high as a man, and weighs half a ton. At the word of command the mine is given a vigorous shove and goes plump into the sea, but is automatically released, and sinks to the desired depth below the surface of the water. Every man must know exactly what to do also that he must do his very best so that nothing should fail in this attack against the "tyrant of the seas, against pirate England".
At 4 o'clock in the afternoon the captain saw a bright light which told him exactly where the ship was, and rendered his task on the rocky and dangerous coast as good as done. Then the barometer fell, and the beacon disappeared, and the weather became bad. The first mine was laid at 6 o'clock and before midnight the chain was complete.
But the storm had placed the MOEWE in a perilous position. Before her was the English coast with the lights of several vessels showing clearly, and behind her the minefield. There was nothing for it but to face the storm, and to avoid shipping too much water the ship went only at half speed, and for an hour hardly moved from her position.
That the first part of the MOEWE's task was so successfully accomplished the Commander attributes to the seagoing qualities of the ship and the admirable work of the crew. - Reuter.
The Times 21st February 1916
Survivors of the Moewe's Victims.
The White Star liner Baltic arrived from New York at Liverpool on Saturday with passengers from seven vessels which were victims of the German commerce raider MOEWE in the neighbourhood of the Canary islands by the weekend of January 17. The survivors landed numbered 280 and were from the following vessels :- APPAM, ARIADNE, AUTHOR, FARRINGFORD, CORBRIDGE, TRADER and DROMONBY. Members of the crew of the CORBRIDGE complained bitterly that the foreign element in the crew entered the service of the enemy, who promised to pay them from £10 to £20 per month. These foreigners included four Greeks, one Spaniard, and three Scandinavians, one of the Greeks, who was a donkeyman, being promoted to chief engineer.
The Times 18th February 1916
Life in the APPAM
Stories of Captured Passengers
The Drifting Lifeboat
(from our Special Correspondent)
Falmouth 17th February
Among the passengers landed at Falmouth this afternoon from the Holland Amerika liner NOORDAM were Sir Edward Merewether, a former Governor of Jamaica, and about 90 other people who were on board the APPAM at the time of her capture by the German raider MOEWE. They gave a graphic account of their adventures at sea, and were able to add to the curious and interesting account of the occurrence which has already been told.
The German success was obtained in the middle of a pleasant afternoon, when most of the passengers were on deck. No one appears to have suspected the danger from the innocent tramp steamer, which came creeping up astern, until a shot passed over the APPAM's bows. There was no chance of escape. Hidden guns were suddenly revealed, and the stranger showed herself as an armed cruiser. Within a short time the APPAM was in the hands of a prize crew, and the passengers had settled down to make the best they could of the situation. they were all treated well by Lieutenant Berg and the German sailors, and the social life of the ship was interfered with only to the extent that rations were severely cut down.
I got some account from one passenger of a scheme for the capture of the vessel, but it was rather too desperate a venture to be put into operation. The Englishmen of the APPAM were unarmed, and the plot involved the "downing" of an armed guard in the engine room, the imprisonment of the German sailors while they were at dinner in the second saloon, and the sudden surprise of Lieutenant Berg by the stewards who waited upon him. The fact that it was abandoned is not remarkable.
Miss Coupe, a nursing sister from the hospital at Lokoja, Northern Nigeria, explained how one of the APPAM's lifeboats was to be picked up. There was a good deal of coming and going between the German cruiser and the APPAM, and the ship's boats were used for this purpose. One of these boats when it was launched began to fill with water, and the Germans regarded it as un-seaworthy and left it to sink. The boat kept afloat, however, and many miles away from the scene of the capture, was found and gave rise to the general belief that the APPAM had been lost.
Prisoners in the Hold
A most exciting account of the capture was given to me by Dr Norman F Deane of the West African Medical Service. Dr Deane went through the campaign in Cameroon and while the APPAM was in charge of a party of convalescents and also a number of German civilian prisoners who had been deported from the Gold Coast.
We had noticed the boat keeping up to us ( he said ) but regarded her as a tramp. When the shot frightened our passengers out of their afternoon doze, the MOEWE unfurled the German naval ensign. There was a great deal of speculation as to what would happen, and, though we all put on our lifebelts, no one showed any outward sign of alarm. As the MOEWE came along side, we saw her guns in the bow threatening us. There were two guns near the forward hatch, and one on the stern. I counted nine guns altogether. they appeared to be of 4.7 ins and 6 ins calibre. We could, of course, do nothing, and presently a boat came across to us from the MOEWE. A rather decent officer came on board, and at least told the passengers they would not want their lifebelts. he then went on the bridge and saw the skipper. A little later a message went around that all naval and military officers on board were to go to the German boat. As a doctor, I held the temporary rank of second lieutenant. I accordingly had to go with the group.
When we reached the other boat we were put down in the hold, where we found the crews of about seven boats that had been captured. the place was packed and there was hardly room to breathe. We got word after a time there would be some food, but that we should have to scramble for it. The food proved to be large tins of tea and ship biscuits, and we had to use cigarette tins in order to drink the tea. Most of the prisoners were white men. In case of an attack on the boat they would have had no chance of escape. there was only one narrow gangway leading up from the hold, and when the raider was attempting a capture, there was a guard set over this approach. the men had to sleep on the floor, and there was practically no water for washing purposes. I was very much relieved when at midnight I was told I could go back to the APPAM.
A "Black Hole" Experience
Mr Rutherford Styles, a bank clerk returning home from British West Africa, also had an experience of the hold of the raider. A request was made by the German commander that all males on the APPAM should sign a paper promising not to take up arms against Germany or her Allies during the period of the war. Mr Styles refused to do this, and accordingly was sent to the MOEWE. He found there to be 120 men who had been taken from captured ships, all of whom were suffering from the lack of ventilation. the place, according to his description, was a sort of "Black Hole" of Calcutta, and the men took turns for about ten minutes at the porthole through which air could enter. With the other prisoners he was eventually transferred to the APPAM.
The mystery of the identity of the raider is not cleared up by the passengers. Little credence is attached to the statement that she was the MOEWE, and several express the view that she was really the PONGA. The Germans themselves said quite freely that they came from the Kiel Canal. Mr S A Caroe, who speaks German, had several talks with the sailors, and they told him they had spent Christmas at Kiel. They also said that in the North Sea they had passed four British cruisers and dipped their colours to the British warships. They were greatly amused at the way in which they had slipped through, but most of them were sick of the war, and were looking forward to being interned in America. One sailor said that he had taken part in the bombardment of Hartlepool and the battle of Heligoland. Mr Caroe showed me a card which had been placed on the luncheon table of the APPAM only two hours before her capture. the card, which indicated his place on the lifeboat, bore in the corner the words "Voyage 13th". I might have known something would happen, he said with a laugh. Other passengers told me that they had heard that the raider when she came out of the Kiel canal was showing the Norwegian colours.
Not Enough Food.
Sister Elsie Dukes, who was a teacher in the Wesleyan Girls High Schools at Sierra Leone, gave me an idea how low the food stores on the APPAM had fallen when at last the vessel reached Norfolk. Immediately after the capture the rations were cut down, and the principal meals came to consist of bread and cheese, boiled rice, curried vegetables and tea or coffee. Shortly before they reached the American harbour she was taken down by one of the stewards into the store room. There was not a single thing left there. many of the passengers at the end were suffering from insufficient nourishment, and their plight would have been worse had the ship not had on board about 40 big cheeses, which had been taken to Africa for trading purposes and had not been disposed of. Sister Dukes also described how the Germans, when they found German prisoners on the APPAM, released them, served out armlets, which turned them into Landsturm men, and made them guards.
The sinking of the CLAN MACTAVISH caused a good deal of excitement in the APPAM. The passengers were allowed to remain on deck when the unequal fight was in progress, but owing to mist and the falling of disk they saw very little. They were able to note the flashes of the guns, and it is generally agreed that while the raider fired seven or eight times the CLAN MACTAVISH replied with three or four shots. Ten men are believed to have been killed on the Clan boat, and four on the so-called MOEWE. Several wounded Lascars from the CLAN MACTAVISH were brought on board the APPAM.
Among those who landed today were many ladies and one tiny baby, the daughter of Mrs Riley, who is proceeding to Liverpool. Not all the passengers have returned home. A number of them, taking advantage of the events which have carried them to America, are remaining for the present in new York. One of them is Mr F C Fuller CMG, the Chief Commissioner of Ashanti.
The Times 4th April 1916
Mr William Rowlands Chadwick, of the firm of Oliphant and Co, Manchester shippers, who was a passenger on board the APPAM, died yesterday at Bolton of heart failure, the result of shock caused by his experiences when the APPAM was captured by the German raider MOEWE.
The Times 4th April 1916
CAPTURED BY THE MOEWE
Prisoners of War in Germany
The Secretary of the Admiralty announces the following officers and men are reported to have been taken on board by the enemy raider MOEWE and are believed to be prisoners of war in Germany :-
Lamble, Actg. Lieut. Arnold EB, RNR
Cambridge, Mr Henry G, Artificer Engr
Backhouse H Ldg Sto 312323 (Ch)
Baker A Sto 2nd Cl K20325(Ch)
Bishop G F Pte RMLI Ch 17685
Chandler J D Deckhand RNR 1761 SD
Cocking N P AB J30189 (Dev)
Folland S AB (RFR B4605), 198195 (Dev)
Fryer E Boy 1st Cl J33391
Hiscocks C Ord Smn SS6044 (Dev)
Holland F J Ord Smn J16904 (Ch)
Jones H Ord Smn RNVR Mersey Z/417
Jones P S Pte RMLI Ply 14275
McAngus D Smn RNR 3054 A
Millington E Sto 1st Cl K8910 (Dev)
Paris A W AB SS4987 (Ch)
Recs W J Smn RNR 2724C
Richardson C J Stok Pett Off 311944 (Ch)
Rogers W T AB 21094 (Dev)
Shilston E S Sto 1st Cl K6101 (Dev)
Skinner T Pett Off 190847 (Ch)
Smith W E Pett Off 217726 (Ch)
Stone H C Officers' Steward 2nd Cl L2878 (Dev)
Sullivan D Pett Off 196818 (Dev)
Tamplin H F Sto 2nd Cl K20327 (Ch)
Treble A J AB 204077 (Dev)
Trout G H AB 218552 (Dev)
Wells B G AB J18265 (Ch)
Wyatt A H AB 207706 (Dev)
The Times 26th July 1916
The Moewe's Captured Gold
Amsterdam July 25
A telegram from Berlin explains that the gold increase shown in the statement of the Reichsbank - namely 1,230,000 Marks ( £61,500 ) includes gold of the value of 739,000 Marks ( £36,950 ) captured by the German auxiliary cruiser MOEWE, which the Reichsbank purchased after the Prize Court had declared the capture and confiscation of the APPAM and its cargo valid. - Reuter
The Times 17th January 1917
Messrs C W Kellock and Co at the close of the sale of the German liner PRINZ ADALBERT at the Baltic Sale Rooms today will offer at auction, for the benefit of the red Cross fund, a framed photograph of the CLAN MACTAVISH, the vessel which engaged the MOEWE, and it is hoped it will fetch a good price.
The Times 24th October 1918
Man who fought the Moewe
A Party of 631 repatriated British prisoners of war reached Boston from Holland last night. The party also included 22 civilians and nine men of the mercantile marine. One of the passengers was Captain Oliver, of the Clan Line steamer, CLAN MACTAVISH, which put up such a good fight against the German auxiliary cruiser MOEWE. His ship was sunk, and captain Oliver and other members of the crew were taken prisoner.
The Times 25th October 1918
Jutland Commander Repatriated
Three hundred and twenty two repatriated German military prisoners and 100 women and children were embarked at Boston for Holland yesterday.
In addition to Captain Oliver of the CLAN MACTAVISH, who fought the German raider MOEWE, the British prisoners who returned on Wednesday night included Commander Bingham, RN who led the destroyer flotilla in the Jutland battle, the captain, first and second officers, and second engineer of the Wilson liner ESKIMO, of Hull, and Captain Rayner, of the Great Central Railway Company's steamer BRADFORD of Grimsby.
The Times 11th December 1918
Prisoners in Denmark
(from our correspondent)
Copenhagen December 10
The British prisoners encamped here, whose departure for England had been postponed owing to the delay of the steamer FREDERIK VIII in reaching Denmark, will embark on board the PORTO, which arrived here today. The PORTO has accommodation for 2,000 passengers.
Among the released British prisoners of war now at Hald camp are 250 merchant sailors captured by the MOEWE, some of whom are from 60 to 70 years of age. Of the Indian and Arab sailors who arrived yesterday, the majority are crews from ships captured by the German cruiser WOLFF in 1917. - Reuter.
The Times 25th January 1919
Moewe's Prisoners as Stowaways.
At Liverpool yesterday, three young American seamen, Edward Martin, James Thomas Sawyer and Paul Hoyle, pleaded Guilty to stowing away on board the Celtic. They admitted also charges of embarking on the steamer without permissions of the Aliens Officer, and without passports. It was stated that they had been prisoners of war since March 1917. They were members of the crew of an American steamer, which was captured and sunk by the German raider MOEWE, and were taken into captivity. After spending some time on board the German ship they were landed at Kiel, and interned in Brandenburg Camp, where they remained until repatriated in December 1918. They got uneasy at not being able to get back quickly to the United States, and so committed the offence complained of. In view of the hardships the prisoners had undergone the authorities withdrew the charges, and the men were set free.
The Times 29th March 1919
British Ship as German Raider
It is now possible to give details of the British steamship YARROWDALE, which was sunk by HM ships ACHILLES and DUNDEE on March 15 1917. On December 11 1916, when outward bound, the German raider MOEWE captured the YARROWDALE, and sent her to Germany under a prize crew, where she arrived about December 30 1915. She was promptly condemned by the Prize Court, and was at once fitted out for an independent raiding cruise, being commissioned as the auxiliary cruiser LEOPARD. In spite of her disguise as the Norwegian steamship RENA her career was short lived. The German Admiralty has admitted that she was sunk "in the North sea, probably by British naval forces".
By the irony of fate, the MOEWE arrived home on March 20, four days after the ex-British YARROWDALE had been sunk. Captor and prize were thus unwittingly in close company.
The Times 9th June 1919
The King's Investiture
At the investiture held by the King on Saturday morning, Mrs Smith, widow of the late Lieutenant Archibald Smith RNR, had the honour of being received by the King at Buckingham Palace and presented with the Victoria Cross, posthumously awarded to her husband for having successfully fought and severely damaged the German raider MOEWE. In the action, however, he lost his life. The King expressed his sympathy with the widow, and his sorrow at the loss of such a gallant man, whose brave action he said would go down in history.
Lt Archibald Bisset Smith died 10th March 1917, aged 38. He was Master of the OTAKI. When challenged to stop, Lt Smith refused, and instead exchanged gun fire at a distance of just over a mile. The OTAKI made many hits on the MOEWE, setting her on fire. In turn the OTAKI was also hit and on fire. There were casualties, and the boats were lowered with the crew, but Lt Smith remained, colours flying and died as his ship went down. German accounts relate a story of "a duel as gallant as naval history can relate."
The Times 14th May 1920
The Moewe Handed Over
German Commerce Raider for the fruit Trade
Among the latest of the German vessels handed over to the British authorities is the MOEWE, which earned a great deal of notoriety as a raider. She reached Leith Roads, and now, under the name of the PUNGO, she is to be handed over to Messres Turner, Brightman & Co of London, to be specially fitted out for the fruit trade. The MOEWE, which was built during the war, performed some daring exploits during the early part of 1916. She captured the APPAM, and on the following day sank the CLAN MACTAVISH, with all hands. In a two months' raiding cruise, adopting a variety of disguises, the MOEWE claimed to have captured 15 vessels.
In a speech by The Prime Minister, as guest of honour of the Chamber of Shipping of the United Kingdom at their Jubilee Year Dinner, at the Hotel Victoria, Northumberland Avenue, 16th February 1927, he paid a tribute to British seamanship and to the gallantry shown by the Mercantile Marine and Fishermen during The Great War ( 1914-1919 ). It was broadcast from London and daventry in order that it could be heard by those at sea.
The Times 17th February 1927
Encounter with the Moewe
Mr Baldwin aroused a burst of cheering by referring to the SS CLAN MACTAVISH. It was about half way between Madiera and the Canaries when Captain Oliver sighted two vessels on his port bow on a southerly course. He thought that they were most probably bound for South America, and allowed them to come up to him. When the larger of the two ships was barely two cable lengths away she signalled that she was a German cruiser and called upon Captain Oliver to surrender. She was in fact, the auxiliary cruiser MOEWE, armed with a formidable battery of 6 inch guns. I spite of hopeless odds, Captain Oliver turned his ship and gave orders to fight, and he did actually fight with his one small gun to such effect that he severely damaged the MOEWE's forepart before he was finally compelled to haul down his flag.
Captain Oliver's bitter resistance made a deep impression upon his captors. The German captain of the MOEWE afterwards wrote:- "When the master reports to me, I take him severely to task for his criminal behaviour. The master states that he disclaims all personal responsibility - he had received orders from his Government to get his ship through to England. Furthermore he had been provided with a gun, and he regarded it as his obvious duty to use it". Then the German captain added this:-"I must own that I appreciate the loyalty with which this old Scottish seadog stuck to his principles, and I shook him by the hand".
The Times 28th August 1929
A Memorial to the Moewe
(from our correspondent)
Berlin August 27
A memorial, in the shape of a flaming sword, to the exploits of the German cruiser MOEWE, which ran the British blockade in 1916 and sank or captured some 60,000 tons of merchant shipping in the Atlantic, was unveiled at Sprottau, on Sunday. Her commander, Count Nikolaus zu Dohna-Schlodien, was present, and the dedicatory speech was made by the recently retired Admiral Zenker, until lately the Chief of Naval direction. Detachments from the battleship SCHLESIEN, the torpedo boat destroyer MOEWE ( named after the raider ), and from naval and ex-service associations were also present.
35 VESSELS, VICTIMS OF THE MOEWE
DUCHESS OF CORNWALL
17th December 2006
Census Records | Vital Records | Family Trees & Communities | Immigration Records | Military Records Directories & Member Lists | Family & Local Histories | Newspapers & Periodicals | Court, Land & Probate | Finding Aids