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The Last Cruise of a German Raider (Hardback)

The Destruction of SMS Emden

Seaforth: General Seaforth Naval

By Wes Olson
Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 274
ISBN: 9781526737298
Published: 30th July 2018

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The story of the German light cruiser SMS Emden has been the subject of over a dozen books since her destruction at the hands of the Australian light cruiser HMAS Sydney on 9 November 1914. Accounts of Emden’s raiding activities, her loss on the Cocos Islands, and the escape of her landing party have also appeared in official histories and books on the First World War at sea. No English-language book, however, has pieced together a comprehensive account of the action and the events before and after.

In this detailed and riveting new book, Wes Olson has made extensive use of a wealth of first-hand accounts from letters, diaries, memoirs and German survivor statements to produce a detailed reconstruction of the battle at Cocos. By breaking the one-and-a-half-hour action down into ten-minute blocks an accurate, chronological and credible picture has been created, and the extensive use of quotations gives the story a unique vividness.

But the book is much more than the account of one naval battle. The Emden’s activities as a raider at the beginning of the war are outlined; the significance of the departure of the first ANZAC troop convoy, and Sydney’s involvement explained. The Cocos raid and the landing of von Mücke’s party and the dispatch of Sydney to investigate are covered, and Captain Glossop’s controversial decision to open fire on the wreck of the Emden is analysed. And drawing on the reports produced by Sydney’s surgeons, the book presents a facet of naval action often overlooked – namely the effect of high explosive shells on the human body.

Employing the wealth of archival and photographic material, as well as the numerous first-hand accounts of the German, British and Australian participants, the author has written a work that takes the reader right to the centre of the action and brings alive the immediacy and horror of naval warfare for those who took part.

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About Wes Olson

WES OLSON has had a lifetime’s interest in naval history and was involved in the successful 2008 search for WWII cruiser HMAS Sydney and the 2015 expedition which revisited her wreck and that of HSK Kormoran. He is an Honorary Associate of the Western Australian Museum, and a member of the Naval Historical Society of Australia while his first book, Bitter Victory – The death of HMAS Sydney, was published by University of Western Australia Press in 2000. Other works since then include Gallipoli – The Western Australian Story (2006), Battalion into Battle – The History of the 2/11th Australian Infantry Battalion 1939-45 (2011), and HMAS Sydney (II) – In Peace and War (2016). Married with three children, he is employed as a locomotive driver with Pacific National.

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