Tag Archives: Malayan Emergency


1 Jan

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(DOWNLOAD eBOOK FOR FREE by visiting the website with the link above)

ISBN: 9781310573545
Description: Eurasians at the Grassroots – Vol.1 is a collection of short stories regarding Eurasians and the memories of Eurasians. Its purpose is to collect and publish stories as a collective work about Eurasians, by Eurasians and for Eurasians. There are stories about Eurasians contributed from Malaysia, Singapore, as well as from Australia, The Netherlands and USA.
Word Count: 15,150 (approx.)

By Nutmeg Publishing
Co. No. SA0057587-D

**In Support of the Malaysian Dutch Descendents Project (MDDP) ‘The Eurasians at the Grassroots Projects’ under the leadership of Dennis De Witt.**



14 Sep



Simon S. Sundaraj-Keun


 Penang of the 21st century is home to multitude of cultures, religions, and ethnicity, which go about their daily lives in a tech savvy and industrial manufacturing power house of the Malaysian Federation. The common military history knowledge of local Penangites was focus on World War II and the Cold War. World War II incidents that stood out were the bombing of Georgetown by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service prior to the Fall of Penang (19 December 1941). The other was United States Army Air Corps bombing campaign which destroyed Saint Xavier Institution in the process. Even few knew the extent of Penang’s role in Britain’s naval history in region or even the significant events that took place in Georgetown harbor in 1914. I reckon aside from the veterans who served in our nation’s defense; the common person knew close to nothing about the War Memorial known as the Cenotaph of Georgetown, Penang located at Esplanade near Fort Cornwallis.


 What is the Cenotaph and who is it for? A Cenotaph is a sepulchral monument erected in memory of a deceased person whose body is buried elsewhere. The Cenotaph of Georgetown was erected for those who fell in World War I and as wars come and go, so did the list of wars added to the plate place by the Penang Veterans Association on the Cenotaph. The words inscribe “To Our Glorious Dead” and along with “WWI (1914-1918), WWII (1939-1945), Siam-Burma Death Railway (1942-1945), Malayan Emergency (1948-1960), Indonesian Confrontation (1963-1966), and Re-Insurgency Period (1968-1990). Finally, a memorable phrase at the bottom of the plate that reads “Lest We Forget—Penang Veterans Association”.

So why was WWI significant for it to be remembered by the erecting of a Cenotaph?  The reason was Penang in 1914 was raided by the Kaiserliche Marine vessel known as the Seiner Majestat Schiff (SMS) Emden which destroyed two naval vessels within the vicinity of Georgetown’s harbor. Penang was part of the British Strait Settlements which was under the administration of Great Britain and war between Britain and Germany broke out in Europe. Great Britain used Penang after its acquisition in 1786 and later Singapore in 1819 to expand into the Orient and Pacific markets and the colonization of Borneo, Australia, and New Zealand. Penang growth was thanks in part to Francis Light quick thinking in declaring Penang as a free port which attracted immigrants and commerce away from the Dutch ports.

It was during the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815); Penang became a strategic naval base in preventing the French in gaining ground in the region and monitored the Dutch colonies since the occupation of Netherlands by France in 1795. In 1810, the Anglo-Dutch Java War broke out which resulted in a British Expeditionary force left Penang and dealt a final blow to the pro-French faction within the Dutch administration in Java. Britain occupied the Dutch colonies from 1811 till 1816.

  Penang in the 1870s became an important transit point for travelers coming from the West journeying to the Far East, Australia, and Pacific islands. Tin ore, rubber, timber, and even opium make its way from Penang ports to fuel the Industrial Revolution back in the British Isles. The British Straits Settlements played a vital role in maintaining the Right of Passage and anti-piracy activities through the Strait of Malacca for vessels heading to the Suez Canal, India, South Africa, Pacific, China, Japan and the Russian Far East. Penang northern locality in the Strait of Malacca make it an important strategic prize for any power and with the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 brought East and West closer than ever.

Prelude to a Naval Showdown

 As East and West grew in trade by the late 19th century but peace was far from ideal as the German Empire unified in 1871 begun a campaign of aggressive commercial, industrial, and colonial expansion across the globe. The French beaten by the German in 1871 was in no shape in countering the Germans and the Spaniards were defeated by the United States of American in the Spanish-American War of 1898 was out of the empire business. The United States during this time period were more engage in expanding their trade and commercial rights in China.

 The Russian Empire was preoccupied with rise of Meiji’s Japan in the Far East region and being drawn into a stalemate in the Great Game played with Great Britain in Central Asia. The Ottoman Empire was weakening by years of corruption and constant lost of territories to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Kingdom of Italy. The Kingdom of Italy was a late up start in the colonizing game and the Austro-Hungarian Empire was struggling internally due to its ethnic diversity and political strife. Plus the Austrian crown wanted a strong German Empire in due to its linguistic and cultural links which would balance an over ambitious Russia eyeing for territorial expansion into its empire.

 There was exception to the underlining hostility between nation-states during the turn of the 20th century. Yet corporation existed in form of a brief military alliance of commercial and territorial mutual necessity emerges. The infamous incident that brought foes and allies together the Boxer Rebellion in 1899 till 1901 which forge an alliance known as the Eight-Nation Alliance (consisted of United Kingdom, Japan, United States, German Empire, Kingdom of Italy, France, Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Russia). Aside from the good business gesture, the problem child in the form of Kaiser Wilhem II’s German Empire plagues the status quote of global trade and affairs.

 One empire had to take up the German challenge which falls to the hands of Great Britain. Britain was the only power who could stand up to the German scramble for territories, dominance over commercial routes, and its recent aid to the Afrikaners during the Boer Wars of 1880-1881 and 1899-1902. The reason for Britain’s intervention was simply define in following phrase ‘Britain territories, commerce, and resources will be lost if the German Empire triumph.’ Britain’s Royal Navy was the largest and along with its manpower from the colonies could show up its Royal Army for a land conflict. Germany on the hand relied of the ingenuity of its commanders within the German colonies to tie down any enemy advance till reinforcements arrive via Kaiserliche Marine.

 Britain took the upper hand by forming an alliance with Russia and France with the signing of the Anglo-Russian Entente in 1907. It was a response to the German-Austro-Hungarian alliances in 1879 known as the Central Powers which was joined by the Ottoman Turks in 1914. There was problem due to the fact Britain was the main contributor in naval assets in the Far East. The Russians reeling from their defeat and a diminish Far East naval fleet during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905). Instead of modernizing the Russian Far East Fleet to ease the burden on the British Royal Navy, the Russian began to engage in the complexities of Balkan politics and let them to be at odds with the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The Germans on the other hand had set up Tsingtao, China in the 1870s as German East Asia Squadron (Ostasiengeschwader) naval base to harass and target enemy merchant shipping and ports in the Indian and Pacific Ocean region. The commander that was in charge of the German East Asia Squadron since 1912 was Vice Admiral Maximilian Graf von Spee. The German admiralty gave Graf von Spree liberty to conduct operations but never occurred to them to resupply Tsingtao with materials and manpower. However Vice Admiral Graf von Spree gave standing orders to his Captains that in the event of war, all vessels are to disperse to German Pacific Island colonies and conduct raider activities.

 The British and Germans were prepared for a possible conflict but none can prepare them for unforeseen events and the rash actions of their allies. As it was the murder of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Shopie the Duchess of Hohenburg by Serbian nationalist, Gavrilo Princip on 28 June 1914 in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Kingdom of Serbia miss judgement which spiral out of control resulted in war between the Entente Alliance and Central Powers. The official start of War World I was 28 July, 1914 and to most folks around the globe including fellow Penangites who thought war was strictly confined within the European, Middle-East, and African region.

Then why does the dates, 1914-1918 carved into the Cenotaph and most intriguingly, why was it placed in Georgetown, Penang? The answer, the tide of war came here too.

 Empires at War on the High Seas

 War in Europe and the Middle East begun with a series of mobilizations by all, but full-blown battles in Africa and Asia begun at the earnest as British and German forces started slugging it out on the high seas. Even the colonies in the Asia-Pacific region were not immune to the ravages of war which would consume Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. In terms of manpower, most colonial powers enlisted their subjects into service for wars fought oceans and continents away. Britain who had the largest population under its realm had the upper hand in fielding the largest armies and infuse naval assets under her own terms.

The German Empire decided to take the war to her rivals’ colonies in order to harass trade, supplies, and pin down vital manpower in reaching Europe. As early as August, 1914, the Germans conducted raider operations in the region, as the German High Command had already deployed the German East Asia Squadron which was base at Tsingtao, China under the command of Vice Admiral Maximilian Graf von Spree. As war broke out, the Admiral von Spree ordered the spreading of his naval assets across German Pacific island colonies. It was a deductive reasoning by logical thinking as easily said as ‘Divide and Conquer’, meaning by giving the enemy more targets to search for and time for German reinforcements to arrive. One has to admit the potential and potency of the German East Asia Squadron role in WWI, regardless, of the German’s High Command failure to put pressure on the British and her allies plus providing reinforcements for Admiral von Spree in the Asia-Pacific region.

Then for the Germans there was the problem of the Royal Navy command of the oceans and her vital naval installations spread around the globe. Britain’s naval installations spread from South Africa to British India-Burma and onwards through the British Strait Settlements branching downwards to Australia-New Zealand and eastwards to Hong Kong. Aside from British navy; the Australian, New Zealander, Russian, French, and Japanese fleets were deployed against the German Empire and Austro-Hungarian Empire combined arms at Tsingtao, China. Admiral von Spree option relied on hit and run tactics with the hope of Tsingtao naval base could hold out till reinforcements could arrived in time. Meanwhile, Admiral von Spree can tie down the Allied fleets by conducting surprise attacks on their forces in the region.

In the beginning, raids were conducted by German vessels individually or with auxiliary vessels as escorts. The increase present of enemy vessels by autumn 1914, witness Admiral von Spree decision to gather his fleet at one of the relay points in the German Pacific island territories, in order to make their journey home to Germany. As the German East Asia Squadron gathered and headed home, one vessel by the name of SMS Emden decided to head the other way into the Indian Ocean to conduct independent raider operations. The illustrious military exploits of the SMS Emden would intertwine with the history of Penang. The outcome would leave us a memorial, which continues to stand tall till this very day.

Swan of the East

The SMS Emden, a light cruiser was commissioned (10 July, 1909) into the Kaiserliche Marine (Germany’s Imperial navy) and was assigned to the German East Asia Squadron (1 April, 1910) station in Tsingtao, China. Once in Tsingtao, the SMS Emden would never return to Germany. The vessel would be known as the Swan of the East by the German East Asia Squadron, for its elegant lines. SMS Emden first engaged in a naval operation together with the SMS Numberg against the Sokehs Rebellion (1911) on the Ponape, German Caroline Pacific islands territories. It was in 1913, Korvettenkapitan (Lieutenant Commander) Karl von Muller a profound student of naval history became the last skipper of the SMS Emden.

Karl von Muller was born in 1891 to a Prussian military family and grew up following his family footsteps. He would serve with German Navy and travel to German East Africa, whereby he be fallen to the illness of malaria. Muller would be assigned to the admiralty under the leadership of Admiral Prince Henirich of Prussia which enable him to impress his superiors and rise through the ranks. Karl von Muller would attain the rank of Korvettenkapitan and transferred to the Reichs-Marine-Amt (1908), where Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz was impressed by his abilities and intelligence. At last Karl von Muller was given a command on board the SMS Emden in the Far East. Karl von Muller first naval combat was his campaign alongside the British and Japanese Navy operation in 1913 by ending the Chinese revolt along the Yangtze River.

As WWI broke out, Muller who was aware of the Russo-Japanese War (1905) and the destruction of Russian Fleet at Port Arthur opted to leave port on July 31st, 1914 as precaution not to let his vessel face the same fate. Tsingtao Naval Base may have been a German stronghold but it was surrounded by French, Russian, British, and Japanese forces. Muller took the SMS Emden on the offensive by capturing merchant vessels and sent them back to Tsingtao in order to be refitted as an auxiliary ship. The problem arose when Allied forces begun to move on the German naval base and the SMS Emden set out from Tsingtao for the last time. Muller met up with the German East Asia Squadron (August 8, 1914) in order to head home to Germany via Cape of Horn, but Muller proposed to Admiral von Spree remain behind conduct raider activities. Admiral von Spree wanted the squadron to remain intact but allowed the SMS Emden to conduct raider operations in the Indian Ocean.

 On 14 August 1914, Muller’s SMS Emden departed from the German Pacific island territories for the last time and headed first to Timor and disguised his vessel to resemble the HMS Yarmouth. Then the vessel slip pass between the islands of Bali and Lombok on the 28 August 1914, into the Indian Ocean by deceiving the Dutch cruiser Tromp. The freedom of the Indian Ocean with its vast booty awaits Muller and the crew of SMS Emden.

Bogeymans Raider of the Indian Ocean

All commercial shipping had to journey through the Indian Ocean whether the route takes vessels from Suez Canal, Cape of Good Hope, and Straits of Malacca. SMS Emden began raider operations on 10 September 1914 in which Karl von Muller seized 2 neutral and sunk 15 Allied merchant vessels. The British had to stop merchant shipping along the Colombo-Singapore maritime route until the situation could be ratified. Insurance prices for travel across the Indian Ocean skyrocketed and fear grip the populace imagination. The word bogeyman was given to children in Colombo in order for them to behave and listen to their elders.

 The hunt for SMS Emden was conducted by Russian, Japanese, British, and Australian vessels but all attempts failed to sink the German raider. Karl von Muller success was imparted to his disguise of the SMS Emden to look like HMS Yarmouth which gave him the upper hand in capturing British vessels. On 22 September 1914, SMS Emden steam silently into Madras at night and shelled an oil depot and proceeded in sinking a merchant vessel dock in the vicinity of the harbor. As British coastal batteries returned fire, the SMS Emden had slip away intact and unseen by British observers.

British casualties were light but the attack itself was a demoralizing to British morale and along with Madras being the only port to be shelled by Central Powers in the entire war. Karl von Muller sail his vessel down to Colombo but refrained from attacking as the searchlights filled the night sky. The presence of the German vessel has cause panic among the city populace.  As SMS Emden sail into the vast Indian Ocean, the British Admiralty began to ponder to where and when the German raider would strike next.

  Interlude into the Annals of Maritime Warfare

 SMS Emden sailed towards the Laccadive Islands while sank 6 ships from the 25th– 29th September 1914 and then headed to Diego Garcia (10 October 1914) to revamp the ship’s machinery and landing craft. It was on the island of Diego Garcia, Karl von Muller learned through intercepted radio signals that shipping had returned to normalcy along the Colombo-Singapore maritime lane. The Allied ships, HMS Hampshire and Chikuma (Imperial Japanese navy) which Muller evaded at the Maldives weeks prior was only reinforced by an armed Russian merchant-cruiser known as the RMS Empress of Asia.

Karl von Muller eluded his chasers and sunk 10 Allied merchant vessels before heading to the Nicobar Islands. Once in the Nicobar Islands, he coaled and gathered more intelligence on Allied shipping activities. On the Allied side, a plan was drawn up to eliminate the SMS Emden which entailed reinforcing vessels already station patrol in the region. HMS Yarmouth and Russian cruiser Askold were directed away from convoy duty in order to hunt the SMS Emden. The Imperial Japanese Navy added the Tokiwa and Yokumo to join the Chikuma and Russian cruiser Zemchug already patrolling the eastern part of the Bay of Bengal.

For Karl von Muller needed to send a reminded to the Allies, who lurks on the ocean waves and he needed an attack which the British Admiralty would least expect. The SMS Emden headed south-east from the Bay of Bengal towards a strategic British port at the tip of the Straits of Malacca known as Penang. A date with destiny awaits the SMS Emden and the citizenry of Penang on October 28th, 1914.

 Pearl of the Orients Dawn Surprise

 It was in the early hours on October 28th, 1914 the SMS Emden sailed into Georgetown harbor under the disguise of a British vessel which fooled observers with the added fake fourth flue. As the German vessel sailed into the harbor, Karl von Muller ordered his crew to raise the German naval colors and have the main guns to open fire on the harbor and ships anchored within its vicinity. On lookers from Georgetown roads and town who thought it was the HMS Yarmouth were shock at what they witness as shells fell on the defenseless harbor and merchant vessels.

 The Zemchug (Russian cruiser) a veteran of the Battle of Tsushima (Russo-Japanese War 1905-06) which was not combat ready was torpedoed and shelled into pieces. As elegantly the SMS Emden arrived, it made a turn and left the scene of carnage but it was pursuit by the French destroyer, Mousquet which was returning to port. The French was in pursuit of the German vessel responsible for the attack. The brave crew of Mousquet was out gunned by the German raider which turned and sank its pursuer.

 Karl von Muller picked up survivors of the Mousquet and treated their injuries of which 3 French sailors died. The three was buried with full military honours and later the SMS Emden stopped a British steamer, Newburn and transferred the remaining Mousquet survivors. On board the Newburn, the survivors were transferred to Sabang, Sumatra which was a Dutch East Indies territory and was neutral in WWI. The Captain of the Newburn even mailed a letter to Karl von Muller notifying him that all of the French sailors arrived safely in Sumatra.

 However the SMS Emden luck was running out as it became the most hunted vessel in the region if not of the world during that era. The British, French, Russia, Australian, and Japanese navies were adamant to end the SMS Emden reign over the high seas for good. Karl von Muller took the vessel through Sunda Straits and headed to the Cocos Islands in order to destroy a wireless station. He also made plans to head towards the Bombay-Aden shipping route and harass the Allied shipping transiting from and to the Suez Canal into the Indian Ocean and Far East. Even the most daring, talented, and meticulous captaining by Karl von Muller had to come to an end.

 The Last Swan Song

 It was November 9th, 1914 the SMS Emden had sunken 30 Allied vessels andwas hunted by more than 60 Allied ships when it entered the Cocos Island to destroy the radio station located on Direction Island. Hellmunth von Mucke second-in-command along with a landing party was a shore and tried to destroy the radio tower but failed.  While the SMS Emden signal the support vessel SMS Buresk to approach. At the very instant a SOS message was managed to send out to for help which was intercepted by an Australia-New Zealand and Japanese warships ferrying the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps convoy heading for Egypt. One Australian light cruiser by the name of HMAS Sydney was assigned to survey the situation on Direction Island.

 Karl von Muller spotted the incoming Australian vessel and had no choice but to raise anchor in order to engage. The SMS Emden fired first and damaged the HMAS Sydney which caused the Australian vessel to withdraw. The HMAS Sydney was able to damage the SMS Emden as time progress was due to the heavier armament and range it could fire. Karl von Muller fought on for almost an hour even the cards stack against him and decided to prevent the SMS Emden sinking by beaching the vessel on the North Keeling Island. The HMAS Sydney turned its focus on the SMS Buresk which scuttled itself in order to avoid capture.

After the pursuit, HMAS Sydney returned to finish off the beached SMS Emden which was displaying its colors which meant it would continue resisting. Karl von Muller failure to strike its German flags and Captain John Glossop of the HMAS Sydney failed to obtain a response from a signal sent prior. These errors by both sides cause the HMAS Sydney to fire and cause further casualties by which the crew of the SMS Emden manage to strike its colors. Captain Glossop order a final salvo into the SMS Emden which had a white flag up and the result was 131 sailors killed and 65 wounded. One can never blame for the actions of Glossop who was remorseful for his action but adamant it was the circumstances of the situation resulted in this tragedy.

Karl von Muller was taken in as prisoner of war along with the remaining 230 survivors of the SMS Emden. The German prisoners were transfer on board the SS Empress of Russia for transport to Colombo. Hellmunth von Mucke and his men saw what had happen and prepared for a beach assault by the HMAS Sydney but the Australian vessel had to withdraw as it was already dark. The Germans found a schooner named Ayesha which they repaired it and set sail immediately thereafter towards Padang, Sumatra. On the 10 November, 1914 HMAS Sydney returned and reclaimed the island but von Mucke and his men was not there. By December 13, 1914 a German vessel pick up the SMS Emden landing party from neutral Dutch East Indies and transported them to Yemen. Mucke’s landing party was now in Turkey’s territory but after months of waiting, they journey across the Arabian Desert and return home to Germany on May 15th, 1915.

 The rest of the SMS Emden POWs who was interned in Singapore faced the 1915 Singapore Mutiny. It was February 15th, 1915 as the mutineers’ rampage in Keppel Harbour, Pasir Panjang, and some when to Tanglin Barracks to obtain ammunition and enlist the help of 309 SMS Emden POWs. The Germans refuse to join the mutineers because it was dishonorable act and took up arms to protect the barracks. There were about 35 German POWs who escape the camp during the mayhem but the rest stayed and provided protection for British refugees. The British along with assistance from the Japanese manage to put down the rebellion

 As for the SMS Emden prisoners of war, they were interned in Singapore and then Malta but Karl von Muller was taken from Malta to England after Germany continued unrestricted submarine warfare on October 8th, 1916. He was place in a prisoners of war camp for officers located at Midlands Agricultural and Dairy College (now the Sutton Bonington Campus of the University of Nottingham). Von Muller led an escape of 21 prisoners through an underground tunnel in 1917 but they were recaptured by the British. In October 1918, Karl von Muller returned to Germany via Netherlands as part of a humanitarian exchange due to the English climate which made his malaria worse.

 Karl von Muller and SMS Emden demonstrated chivalry by treating his enemies with honor and respect. He has always clear merchant vessels and landed outpost of crew before destroying it. Von Muller was the last gentlemen to fight on the high seas and will always be remembered for his cunning-ness, daring-ness, and brilliant-ness in the annals of maritime warfare.  The end of SMS Emden would mark the end of the German presence in the Orient.

 The Final Voyage of the German East Asia Squadron

Shortly after the attack on Penang, the allied powers elected to put an end to the German Naval base at Tsingtao, China. The first salvo was fired on October 31, 1914 but the German East Asia Squadron had vacated the premises and was conducting raider activities across the Pacific region. The German defenders withheld the Allied assault for two months before surrendering on November 7th, 1914 which was two days before the sinking of the SMS Emden. The Allies took formal possession of Tsingtao and interned the German POWs to Japan for the remainder of the war. Unlike in WWII, Japan treated its WWI prisoners with respect and humane.

The German East Asia Squadron under the command of Admiral von Spree decided to head back to Germany via Cape of Horn. Von Spree’s naval squadron headed out from the Pagan Island from the Marianas German Territory for the last time and journey to South America. As German Pacific territories fell to Allied forces, a plan was needed to retake some territories but decided not as it was the Allies who dominated the oceans. Arriving on the Chilean coast on November 1st, 1914 the German East Asia Squadron was met by the British Naval Squadron under the command of Sir Christopher Cradock. The Germans destroyed the British Naval force and including its command officer at the Battle of Coronel.

On December 8th, 1914 the German East Asia Squadron crossed into the Atlantic and headed to the Falkland Islands. The battle of Falkland started well for the Germans as they had the advantage but failed to take the initiative when met by a grounded pre-dreadnaught model. The British naval forced station there had a superior force which when out to meet the Germans. The British annihilated the Germans which killed Admiral Maximilian von Spree and his two sons Otto von Spree and Heinrich von Spree. The surviving German vessels were the SMS Dresden and few auxiliary vessels make it back to the pacific to conduct raider operations.

Finally, on March 14, 1915 the SMS Dresden (last remnant of the German East Asia Squadron) was sunk by the British Royal Navy at the Battle of Mas a Tierra, an island belonging to Chile. It was from 1916 to 1917, the last independent commercial raider was the SMS Seeadler under the command of Felix Graf von Luckner which was the last of a half sail-steamer fighting vessel. SMS Seeadler sunk 15 vessels across the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans. The vessel met its demise on August 2nd, 1917 when it struck by a tsunami and was wrecked on reef near the Mopelia about 450km from Tahiti. It surviving crew manage to capture a French vessel and was able to reach Chile on October 4th, 1917. Von Luckner was a legend in his own right and was admired by all sides for his chivalry. This was the last of the German venture into the Indian and Pacific region for the rest of WWI.


The German High Command had a great idea but a hopeless execution. It was a waste of resources and materials but worse of all were human death which toll was costly. For the Allies, they underestimated the Germans station in Tsingtao and never countered on a single vessel to cost them so much trouble. If an opportunity presents itself one should always grab it and seizing the moment was the creed of the German servicemen who fought in lands away from their own. Allied powers of Britain, Australian, New Zealand, France, Russia, and France should also be given the credit for the tenacity in ending the German presence in the region and focus on the war in Europe. The Germans never say never virtues are admirable and should be honored by all. The German East Asia Squadron, German Pacific Colonial Army, SMS Emden, and SMS Seeadler were villains to the Allies but to the common men who envision chivalry, they will always be heroes. War brings out glory and honor in mankind but for WWI it was disaster for all who fought it, especially from a human toll.


SMS Emden: Karl von Muller would return to Germany received the Iron Cross First Class and Pour le Merite. Von Muller was discharge from the navy and continued be active in politics under the German National Party banner. He was elected into the provisional parliament under anti-class platform but died suddenly on March 11, 1923 due to his ongoing battle with malaria. Hellmunth von Mucke became a pacifist and was discharge from the German Imperial Navy. Von Mucke under the Nazi regime became an open critic of Hitler and was imprisoned in the concentration camp on two separate occasions in 1936 and 1939. After WWI, Hellmunth von Mucke continued his peace activism by opposing the rearmament of West Germany in the 1950s. Von Mucke passed away on July 30, 1957.

SMS Seeadler: Felix Graf von Luckner became a member of the Free Mason in 1921 and wrote books to raise money to buy a sail boat for which he part took in goodwill missions around the globe. In 1926, due to Luckner goodwill missions, he became San Francisco honorary citizen. Von Luckner returned to Germany in 1928 and became part of inter-war Reichmarine. From 1937 to 1938, he and his wife took a world voyage in his yacht, the Seeteufel. In WWII, Hitler tried to use von Luckner for propaganda but Luckner refuses and held to all of the honours he received from the USA. To add matter worse, Luckner save Rose Janson in 1943, a Jew, by giving a passport he found at a bombsite which she use it to get to the USA. The mayor of Halle (Luckner’s hometown) requested him to surrender the town to the Americans which he did but he chose not to return as the Nazis wanted him dead. After the war, he left for Malmo, Sweden and live with his second wife Ingesborg Engestrom until his passing in 1966 at the age of 84. Felix Graf von Luckner resting place was in the Main Cemetery Ohlsdorf: Hamburg, Germany.

Authors Note

The story behind a simple Cenotaph of Georgetown, Penang does not sound as clear-cut and dry which from the lens of history tells a tapestry of insurmountable odds and the yearning to survive. As we come to remember the fallen veterans and civilians who fought in Malaysia lest not we forget those who went a far to fight wars in the name of honor and glory for his or her armed services. Let us respect the surviving men and women who are constantly neglected by today’s society which are head strung in materialistic endeavors. Karl von Muller and his SMS Emden fought against all odds in order to survive and yet demonstrated a kind of chivalry which anyone of us who would not have shown under pressure.

In war we can learn from our enemies: yet we can never be like them.

Do remember this; in peace we are all equal!


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 Massie, Robert Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany and the winning of the Great War. London, Jonathan Cape. 2004.

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 Pardoe, Blaine The Cruise of the Sea Eagle: The Amazing True Story of Imperial Germany’s Gentleman Pirate The Lyons Press, 2005

 Van der Vat, Dan. Gentlemen of War, The Amazing Story of Captain Karl von Müller and the SMS Emden. New York, William Morrow and Company, Inc. 1984

Web Sources

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Warship WednesdaySMSEmden http://newlinks.blogspot.com/2006/10/warship-wednesday-sms-emden.html

 Zemchug, Emden, and Sydney. http://www.argo.net.au/andre/emdenforwebENFIN.htm



The tale of a Captain never abandon his ship was a mere myth for the fate that has be fallen the Imperial Russian Navy vessel Zemchug. Zemchug, Captain was Baron Cherkassov who went ashore and spent a night on shore with a lady friend at the E&O Hotel. As the sound of cannon fire erupted on that faithful day of October 28, 1914, the Baron witnessed the Zemchug destruction. Zemchug lost 89 sailors and 143 wounded. 87 Russians were buried at Western Road Cemetery and the other two was buried in Pulau Jerejak, Penang. Pulau Jerejak was also known as the Alcatraz of Malaysia which was close in 1993. Alongside the Russians were the French sailors of the Mousquet who were laid to rest at Western Road Cemetery. The end Zemchug brought a significant blow onto the Russian Pacific Squadron who was reeling from its defeat by the Japanese in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. Baron Cherkassov was court-martial and sentenced to 3 and the half years imprisonment. Justice for Zemchug!



German Empire Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Africa, and Asia Campaigns/Battles

 Campaign/Battles & Time

Victory or Defeat

German Samoa 1914


Bita Paka, German New Guinea 1914


Toma, outside Rabaul 1914


Tsingtao, China 1914


*Battle of Papeete, Tahiti 1914


*Bombardment of Madras, India 1914


*Bombardment of Fanning, Kiribati 1914


*Battle of Penang, British Strait Settlement/Malaysia 1914


*Battle of Coronel, Chile 1914


*Battle of Cocos 1914


*Battle of Rufiji Delta, Tanzania October 1914-July 1915


*Battle of Falklands Islands, South Atlantic 1914


*Battle of Mas a Tierra, Chile 1915


*Battle of Lake Tanganyika, Africa, Dec 1915-Feb 1916


North Africa Campaign 1915-1917


South-West Africa Campaign Sept 1914-July 1915


West Africa Campaign, August 1914-Febuary 1916


East Africa Campaign, August 1914-November 1918


Middle East Campaign, 1914 -1918


Gallipoli Campaign, Turkey, 1915-1916


*Naval engagement

Note:South-West Africa (South Africa and Namibia), West Africa (Togoland and Cameroon) & East Africa (Modern Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo)

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