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The New Zealanders at Gallipoli

The Triumph of Australia

The Triumph of Australia.

The flagship's place ahead was now held by the “Melbourne,” with the “Ibuki” to starboard and the “Sydney” to port.

With the news of the Valparaiso battle and the departure of the “Minotaur” came word that the Cocos Islands would be passed during the night, and special precautions were ordered to be taken in regard to lights. The usual sharp look-out was kept, but the hours of darkness slipped by without incident. But at 6.30 a.m. the “Melbourne” turned to port and spoke for a few minutes to her sister ship. By this time all the transports were aware of the wireless messages from the Cocos Islands signalling “S.O.S.,” “Strange warship approaching.” The Australian transport “Karoo” and the New Zealand transport “Arawa” picked up the following: “PNX DE WSP DE PNX NE DE NGI PFB DEO,” also, “S.O.S.—Strange warship at entrance. Ignores our remarks—S.O.S., S.O.S.,” then a long message, apparently in Dutch. These mixed-up messages, obviously mutilated and jammed by the hostile Telefunken, provided knotty problems for those whose duty it was to fathom the mysteries of code and cypher.

The captain of the “Melbourne,” being in charge of the convoy, could not go to the Cocos Islands, sixty miles away, page 21
Black and white illustrated map of ship positions.

The Last of the “Emden.”
While the “Sydney” dealt with the “Emden,” the “Ibuki” and “Melbourne” lay on the threatened quarter of the convoy. The action took place out of the sight and sound of the troops on the transports, which were over seventy miles away from the Cocos Group.

page 22 so ordered the “Sydney” on this service. By 7 p.m. the cruiser had worked up to her speed and was rapidly lost to sight. The “Melbourne” came down to the “Sydney's” place on the threatened flank, and then the attention of the whole convoy was rivetted on the Japanese cruiser coming across from starboard around the head of the convoy. As she forged ahead through the heavy swell a great white wave streamed over her bows, being made more conspicuous by her pitch black hull and the three black funnels belching enormous columns of dense black smoke. Tearing through the indigo Indian Ocean, with her great battle flags streaming blood-red in the breeze, she became the very personification of energy and power.

With the two cruisers lying handy on the threatened flank, the troops waited anxiously for news. All realized that just across the horizon a life and death struggle was taking place. No sound of battle could be heard but the spluttering of the wireless, from which it was learned at 9.30 that the enemy had been brought to action.

The men could hardly contain themselves for excitement This was intensified when, about 11 o'clock, the Japanese cruiser appeared to steam away in the direction of the fight. But at twenty minutes past eleven the wireless announced. “Enemy beached herself to prevent sinking.” Restraint was thrown aside. The men cheered again and again. Messages then chased one another in quick succession: “Emden beached and done for. Am chasing merchant collier.” The cheering burst out afresh, for this was the first mention of the “Emden.” How the New Zealanders envied the Australians this momentous achievement of their young navy.

About half an hour later came the story of the price paid for admiralty—two killed and thirteen wounded. The troops shouted themselves hoarse when they learned that the “Emden” was ashore on North Cocos Isle, and had surrendered with her foremast and three funnels down. The following message was sent from the “Maunganui”: “Many congratulations from the N.Z.E.F. on result of first action of the Australian Navy.” Back came a typical naval answer: “Reply to your signal of yesterday. Many thanks to New page 23 Zealand Squadron for their congratulations. It is very satisfactory that in its baptism of fire the superiority of town class cruiser over German town class light cruiser was so completely established.”

Four days after this most memorable day a signal announced that H.M.S. “Hampshire” was steaming fifty miles ahead of us, and to facilitate coaling and watering at Colombo, the New Zealand squadron was ordered to steam ahead of the Australians, who were left in charge of the “Ibuki.”

The line was crossed on the same day (November 13), and His Deep Sea Majesty King Neptune, attended by his consort and a numerous suite of barbers, bears, and orderlies, came aboard each of the transports. All deference and homage was paid, and the hoary old salt never had a busier day—eight thousand four hundred New Zealanders paying their tribute according to their respective popularity with His Majesty's attendants.