<– Part 8 – September 20, 1914  | Part 9 – September 27, 1914 |  Part 10 – October 4, 1914 –>

 

The Allied retreat to the Marne seems to be coming to a close as forward units begin their entrenchment.

The German freighter Walkure, captured at the beginning of the war by the French, sunk at Papeete.

Damage at Papeete after the bombardment.

September 22 was a big day for the German Navy, the Kaiserliche Marine, as they saw three victories in three oceans that day. In French Polynesia, the SMS Scharnhorst and SMS Gneisenau entered the port of Tahiti and sunk the French gunboat Zélée and freighter Walkure (herself a German ship captured by the Zélée at the start of the war) and then bombarded the town of Papeete. The coastal defenses returned fire ineffectively. While the German raid was an attempt to secure the coal reserves stored there, and in this they failed, yet the prestige of the German East Asia Squadron under Admiral Spee has been increased – though at the cost of alerting the Allies to her location.

Madras burning after Emden’s bombardment.

Main battery of the Scharnhorst.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To the West, in the Indian Ocean, the light cruiser Emden closed to within 3,000 meters of Madras later that night and opened fire, destroying the oil tanks and a merchant ship. Again, return fire was ineffective. While the loss of the oil is a minor concern, the prestige of the British has also been decreased, as they though the Emden would be with Spee at Tahiti.

In the North Atlantic, the German sub U-9, under command of Lt. Otto Weddingen, who turned 32 last week, spotted a ship on the horizon and immediately submerged for intercept. She discovered that it was in fact three outdated British armored cruisers – the Aboukir, the Cressy, and the Hogue. All three were staffed by reservists, and in fact an order to withdraw them was in discussions at the Admiralty, though too late to save the ships from their fate. After torpedoing the Aboukir, the other two ships came to her aid, thinking she had struck a mine. U-9 sent two torpedoes into Hogue, and then two more into Cressy as she fled. All sunk, with 1,460 British sailors lost. Amazingly, a newspaper report has shared the story of one 15-year-old British midshipman, Wenman Wykeham-Musgrave, who was aboard all three ships when they were torpedoed. As his daughter shared in the interview,

He went overboard when the Aboukir was going down and he swam like mad to get away from the suction. He was then just getting on board the Hogue and she was torpedoed. He then went and swam to the Cressy and she was also torpedoed. He eventually found a bit of driftwood, became unconscious and was eventually picked up by a Dutch trawler.

 

Postcard commemorating the U-9’s sinking of the three British armored cruisers. Lt. Weddigen in the top corner.

On land, fighting has erupted in Picardy as the French Second Army, attempting to flank the German lines but were stopped by the German Sixth Army. The race to the sea continues as each army attempts to turn the other’s flank. Three days later, on September 25, fighting erupted at Albert as those same two armies encountered encountered one another farther north, each advancing into territory thought to be clear.

September 26 saw a further British defeat at Sandfontein, South Africa, were forces of the Union of South Africa entered German territory but were surrounded and attacked from multiple directions by an overwhelmingly superior force. The 120 British troops (with 2 cavalry squadrons) lost 67 men, compared to 60 German casualties from their force of 1,700. The remaining British forces surrendered after their artillery and machine guns were destroyed, the Germans tightening the noose and beginning to rain explosive shells upon them.

In German Kamerun, however, the tide of war is much different. September 21 saw an allied landing at Ukoko, At the German fort of Kusseri, the 37 Germans in the fort have surrendered to a force of 250 French troops on September 25, having been under siege since late August (though, after destroying the sole French artillery piece, the French withdrew and returned only on the 20th of September). The French lost 23 troops, to the German 12. Two days later, with the harbor of Douala, the largest city in the German Kamerun colony, cleared of mines by French troops, surrendered, the entire coastline now belonging to the Allies.

Finally, earlier today, the Italian battleship Benedetto Brin, exploded violently at her mooring in the port of Brindisi. Rumors and research point to an Austro-Hungarian saboteur.

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