in OUTLINE, with SHIP'S
LOST and DAMAGED
Tuesday 4 August 1914
Warships at Sea, including
African Waters - light cruiser Königsberg 3,814t,
10-4.1in, sank one merchant ship of 6,601grt and old
protected cruiser Pegasus
Sunday 20 September
3rd class or light cruiser, Pelorus-class, 2,135t, 1897,
8‑4in/8-3pdr QF/2-18in tt, 20kts, c224 crew, Cape of
Good Hope Station in August 1914, sent to East Africa,
Capt John Alexander Ingles, during searches for
Königsberg (10-4.1in), Pegasus had developed machinery
defects and put into Zanzibar to repair them, also
partly to protect the port. Although there was no
indication Königsberg was in the vicinity, armed tug
Helmuth patrolled the South Channel, Pegasus's men slept
at their guns at night and steam was kept at two hours
notice as she lay off the town. Helmuth saw a vessel
approaching at 0525, steamed out to warn her off and
received two blank rounds, Königsberg opened fire from
9,000yds and straddled the outranged Pegasus, within
8min all engaged guns were disabled but after a five
minute pause the shelling continued. Königsberg ceased
fire at 0555 and withdrew having done little damage to
the town itself. Although badly holed on the water line,
Pegasus was still afloat with engines untouched,
attempts were made to beach her, but she turned over and
sank in Zanzibar harbour around 1415; 1 officer and 31
ratings killed, 1 officer and 1 rating DOW the same day,
followed by one rating each on 26th, 27th, 6/10, 8/10, a
total of 38 (Rn - 2 officers DOW, 24 crew killed, five
more DOW, 55 wounded; ke - 31 lost), survivors rescued
by boats from collier Banffshire. Königsberg returned
River delta and was not discovered there until the end
Saturday 31 October
Light cruiser Königsberg located in Rufuji River delta
by HMS Chatham.
Tuesday 10 November
(1), Admiralty blockship, ex-collier, 3,737/1906, 342ft,
Temperley SS Co, London-reg, purchased 1914, originally
for use at Dover, sent to East Africa, filled with
crushed rock and dynamite charges, 14 volunteer crew,
Cdr Raymond Fitzmaurice. This was the first operation
against the trapped German cruiser Königsberg. In the
early morning, under fire but under cover of 6in cruiser
gunfire, reached scuttling position 8 miles down the
Ssuninga channel of the Rufuji river delta where it met
the Ssimba-Uranga arm, swung across the river and
anchored bow and stern, charges fired at 0550 and
settled to the bottom. This still left two navigable
channels - the northern Kikunja and the southern
Kiomboni - by which Königsberg could reach the sea 10
miles away (L/Lr/Rn/D/dx/kp)
patrol vessel, ex-German tug, 231/1905, captured 10
October 1914 in East Africa by light cruiser Dartmouth,
armed with 1-3pdr, took part in capture of Mafia Island
12 January, now with force blockading light cruiser
Königsberg in Rufiji delta,
Sub‑Lt Wilfred Price in
carrying out reconnaissance of one of the entrances.
Heavily shelled from the shore by German forces
protecting approaches to Königsberg, steam-pipe cut,
drifted ashore and recaptured; 1 ratings lost, rest of
crew taken prisoner. Salvaged by the Germans, got
through British naval blockade, steamed to Dar-es-Salaam,
taken to pieces by railway engineers and carried by
train to Kigoma, reassembled for operations on
Lake Tanganyika. Hepper, possibly in error, reports that
Pyramus later closed and destroyed her where she lay”
Wednesday 14 April
German supply ship Kronburg, ex-British SS Rubens detained at Hamburg 8/14, now carrying supplies for light cruiser Königsberg still lying in the Rufuji River delta, sunk by old light cruiser Hyacinth in the Indian Ocean.
ACTIONS IN OUTLINE
Tuesday 6 July
Mersey (Cdr R Wilson) and Severn, river monitors, Humber-class, 1,520t, 2-6in/2-4.7in/4-3pdr, 140 crew, after operations off Belgian coast, both ships
were due for service in the Dardanelles in March 1915. Sailed 28 April from
Malta with fleet messenger Trent, four tugs and a collier, reached Aden 15
May and Mafia Island 3 June, made good defects, fitted with extra protection and exercised with spotting aircraft.
German light cruiser Königsberg moored down the Kikunja channel, northernmost tributary of Rufuji delta and 10 miles from the sea. Mersey and Severn entered the channel at 0520 on 6th, immediately came under 3pdr, pom-pom and machine gun fire from
shore defences, both hit, but undamaged, whalers Echo, Fly, Childers swept and sounded ahead, light cruisers Weymouth and Pyramus followed in support. By 0630, 6 miles or 11,000yds from Königsberg, anchored, waited for spotting aircraft and opened fire, Königsberg also had spotting station nearby and replied with salvoes. Neither monitor hit for an hour until at 0740, shell struck Mersey's foremost 6in gun shield and put gun out of action, shortly holed near the waterline and pulled back 1,000yds. Severn continued for half an hour, then both ships waited until a second spotting aircraft arrived at 1330, returned to original position and fired until 1530, Königsberg hit around 6 times. Withdrew to prepare for next attempt five days later; Mersey’s casualties were 4 ratings killed, 2 DOW
and 2 wounded (Rn/Cn/dk)
Sunday 11 July
Mersey and Severn, river monitors, Humber-class, some damage and badly worn by shoot on the 6th, only now ready to resume attempt to destroy the
Königsberg assisted by aircraft spotting. (dx - 15th) - Again fired on when entering the Rufuji River, both hit but little damage, starting at 1230 they took turns to fire although Königsberg fired back, at 1252 there was a large explosion, Königsberg was then apparently blown up and scuttled at 1346, firing continued until 1420 to complete her destruction, monitors recalled at 1430; two men slightly wounded on Mersey. Other ships taking part included light cruisers Chatham, Dartmouth, Challenger, Hyacinth, Pioneer (RAN), Pyramus,
Weymouth, and armed merchant cruiser Laconia (Cn/Rn/dx)
Royal Navy Single Ship Action
- Mersey and Severn v KŐNIGSBERG 1915
(click for source abbreviations)
With thanks to
the London Gazette
29395 - 7 DECEMBER 1915
DESTRUCTION OF GERMAN CRUISER “KÖNIGSBERG”
NAVAL DESPATCH dated 15 July 1915
Admiralty, 8th December, 1915.
The following Despatch has been received from the
Commander-in-Chief, Cape of Good Hope Station:
"Challenger,"15th July, 1915.
Sir: Be pleased to lay before their Lordships the following
report of the operations against, the "Konigsberg" on the 6th and 11th instant:
In accordance with orders issued by me, the various vessels
concerned took up their appointed stations on the 5th July, in readiness for the
operations on the following day.
At 4.15 a.m. on the 6th July, H.M.S. "Severn," Captain Eric
J. A. Fullerton, R.N., and H.M.S. "Mersey," Commander Robert A. Wilson, weighed
and proceeded across the bar into the Kikunja branch of the Rufiji river, which
they entered about 5.20 a.m.
The "Severn" was anchored head and stern and fire was opened
on the "Konigsberg" by 6.30 a.m. The "Mersey" was similarly moored and opened
fire shortly after.
Both Monitors were fired on with 3-pounders, pom-poms and
machine-guns when entering the river and on their way up, and they replied to
At 5.25 a.m. an aeroplane, with Flight-Commander Harold E. M.
Watkins as pilot, and carrying six bombs, left the aerodrome on Mafia Island.
The bombs were dropped at the "Konigsberg" with the intention of hampering any
interference she might attempt with the Monitors while they were getting into
At 5.40 a.m. another aeroplane, with Flight-Commander John T.
Cull as pilot, and Flight Sub-Lieutenant Harwood J. Arnold as observer, left the
aerodrome for the purpose of spotting for the Monitors.
At 5.45 a.m. I transferred my Flag to the "Weymouth," Captain
Denis B. Crampton, M.V.O., and at 6.30 a.m. proceeded across the bar, with the
Whalers "Echo" and " Fly " sweeping, and the "Childers" sounding ahead; the "Pyramus,"
Commander Viscount Kelburn, being in company.
The "Weymouth" grounded on the bar for a few minutes on the
way across, but soon came off with the rising tide, and advanced as far as the
entrance to the river, where she anchored.
Fire from small guns was opened on her, and on the Whalers,
from the shore, but beyond one shell, which struck the "Fly," no damage was
sustained. A few rounds from the 6-inch guns put a stop to the firing, although
it was impossible to locate the position of the guns owing to their being
concealed amongst the trees and dense undergrowth.
After anchoring, the "Weymouth" did what was possible to
assist the Monitors by bombarding at long range a position at Pemba, where a
spotting and observation station was supposed to be, and by keeping down the
enemy's fire at the aeroplanes. This was done very effectively.
At the same time the "Pioneer," Commander (Acting) Thomas W.
Biddlecombe, R.A.N., under the orders of "Hyacinth," Captain David M. Anderson,
M.V.O., engaged the defences at the Ssimba Uranga Mouth, her fire being returned
until the defences were silenced.
Returning to the operations of the Monitors; fire was opened,
as before stated, at 6.30 a.m., but as the "Konigsberg" was out of sight it was
very difficult to obtain satisfactory results, and the difficulties of the
observers in the aeroplanes in marking the fall of the shots which fell amongst
the trees were very great, and made systematic shooting most difficult.
There being only two aeroplanes available, considerable
intervals elapsed between the departure of one and the arrival of its relief
from the aerodrome 30 miles distant, and this resulted in a loss of shooting
At 12.35 one of the aeroplanes broke down, and at 3.50 the
second one also. I signalled to Captain Fullerton to move further up the river,
which he did, until about 12.50 the tops of the "Konigsberg's" masts were
The "Konigsberg" kept up a heavy fire on the Monitors until
about 12.30, when her fire slackened. At 2.40 p.m. she ceased firing, having for
some time limited her fire to one gun. At 3.30 p.m. the Monitors ceased fire,
and retired out of the river, rejoining my Flag off Koma Island at 6 p.m. On
their way out they were again attacked by the small guns from the banks.
I had returned over the bar in "Weymouth" at 12.30 p.m., and
transferred to "Hyacinth" at 3.0 p.m.
The "Mersey" had four men killed and four wounded, two of
whom have since died, and her foremost 6-in. gun, at which most of the
casualties occurred, was put out of action. The "Severn" fortunately suffered no
losses or damage.
The various ships, whalers, tugs, &c., anchored for the night
off the Delta, and proceeded to their various stations for coaling, &c., the
In view of the many difficulties in the way, and the heavy
and accurate fire to which the monitors were subjected, I consider that the
operations on 6th July, though not a complete and final success, are creditable
to Captain Fullerton and Commander Wilson.
As it was necessary to make a fresh attack on the
"Konigsberg" to complete her destruction, further operations were carried out on
the 11th July, by which date the aeroplanes were again ready for service, and
the monitors had made good certain defects and completed with coal.
I reinforced the crew of the "Severn" by Acting
Sub-Lieutenant Arthur G. Mack, with six Petty Officers and men; and the crew of
the "Mersey" by Lieutenant Richard Ussher and Lieutenant Rundle B. Watson, with
six Petty Officers and men. All the above were drawn from "Hyacinth."
The attack was carried out on the same lines as on the
previous occasion, and the same mouth of the river was used.
The monitors crossed the bar at 11.45 a.m., followed up to
the entrance by ''Weymouth'' and "Pyramus," the latter proceeding three miles
inside, and both searching the banks. "Hyacinth" and "Pioneer" bombarded the
Ssimba Uranga entrance.
On this occasion the monitors did not fire simultaneously;
the "Mersey" remained under way, and fired while "Severn" moored, and ceased
fire when "Severn" commenced.
The "Severn" was moored in a position 1,000 yards closer to
the enemy than on the 6th July, which made her fire much more effective.
The observers in the aeroplanes, by their excellent spotting,
soon got the guns on the target, and hit after hit was rapidly signalled. At
12.50 it was reported that the "Konigsberg" was on fire.
As previously arranged with Captain Fullerton, as soon as
they had got the situation well in hand, the monitors moved up the. River, and
completed the destruction of the ''Konigsberg" by 2.30 p.m., when I ordered them
The "Konigsberg" is now a complete wreck, having suffered
from shells, fire and explosions, several of which latter were observed.
The only casualties sustained were three men slightly wounded
in the "Mersey." There were no casualties in "Severn."
By 8.0 p.m. all ships, except those detached on patrol, had
I have much pleasure in bringing to the notice of their
Lordships the names of the following Officers and men:
Captain Eric J. A. Fullerton, H.M.S. "Severn."
Commander Robert A. Wilson, H.M.S. "Mersey."
Captain Denis B. Crampton, M.V.O., H.M.S. "Weymouth."
Commander The Hon. Robert O. B. Bridgeman.
Squadron Commander Robert Gordon, in command of the Air
Flight Commander John T. Cull.
Flight Lieutenant Vivian G. Blackburn.
Flight Sub-Lieutenant Harwood J. Arnold.
Flight Lieutenant Harold E. M. Watkins.
Assistant Paymaster Harold G. Badger, H.M.S. "Hyacinth." This
Officer volunteered to observe during the first attack on the "Konigsberg,"
though he had had no previous experience of flying.
Acting Lieutenant Alan G. Bishop, Royal Marine Light
Infantry, of H.M.S. "Hyacinth." This Officer volunteered to observe during the
second attack on the " Konigsberg," though he had had no previous experience of
Air Mechanic Ebenezer Henry Alexander Boggis, Chatham 14849,
who went up on the 25th April with Flight Commander Cull, and photographed the
"Konigsberg" at a height of 700 feet. They were heavily fired on, and the engine
of the machine was badly damaged.
Most serious risks have been run by the officers and men who
have flown in this climate, where the effect of the atmosphere and the extreme
heat of the sun are quite unknown to those whose flying experience is limited to
moderate climates. "Bumps" of 250 feet have been experienced several times, and
the temperature varies from extreme cold when flying at a height to a great
heat, with burning, tropical sun, when on land.
In the operations against the "Konigsberg" on the 6th July
both the personnel and materiel of the Royal Naval Air Service were worked to
the extreme limit of endurance. The total distance covered by the two available
aeroplanes on that date was no less than 950 miles, and the time in the air,
working watch and watch, was 13 hours.
I will sum up by saying that the Flying Officers, one and
all, have earned my highest commendations.
Chief Carpenter William J. Leverett, H.M.S. "Hyacinth." This
Officer was in charge of the fitting out of the two Monitors.
I also desire to bring to their Lordships' notice the Master
of the tug "Revenger," John Osment Richards, and the following members of her
crew, who most readily volunteered to serve in their tug and to proceed into the
river to the assistance of the Monitors and tow them out if necessary:
Frank Walker, Navigating Master.
George Edward Milton, Mate.
Frederick James Kennedy, Chief Engineer.
Lewis John Hills, Second Engineer.
Sidney Robert Rayner, Third Engineer.
The four tugs "Blackcock," "Revenger," "Sarah Joliffe," and "
T. A. Joliffe" were manned by Naval Officers and men, with the exception of the
above named, and although their services were not called for I consider the
example they set was most praiseworthy.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
HALL, Vice-Admiral, Commander in Chief.
See also "The Navy Everywhere" by Conrad Gato (believed out of copyright).
Click the title for the story - Chapter 2
MAPS and IMAGES
German East Africa and Rufigi Delta - from "The Navy Everywhere" by Conrad Gato (believed out of copyright), click map to enlarge
the wrecked, abandoned and also disarmed SMS
Königsberg. Her guns, especially the 4.1in went on to play an important part in
the German land campaign in East Africa (Cyber Heritage/Terry Phillips)
With thanks to
old light cruiser, sunk by German light cruiser Konigsberg off Zanzibar, four
men died of wounds on 26, 27 September, 6, 8 October
Private, RMLI, 8638 (Ply)
Leading Stoker, K 13867 (Dev)
A, Ordinary Seaman, J 15443 (Dev)
Gilbert F, Able Seaman, 219216 (Dev)
Harry J, Leading Stoker, 308768 (Dev)
COLE, Edgar T,
Stoker Petty Officer, 303260 (Dev)
Richard, Able Seaman, J 4765 (Dev)
DRAKE, John H,
J, Private, RMLI, 10266 (Ply)
P, Stoker 1c, K 5600 (Dev)
Alfred G, Armourer's Crew, M 6421 (Dev)
Able Seaman, 234368 (Dev),
died of wounds
H, Chief Engine Room Artificer 1c, 269246 (Dev)
Stoker 1c, K 13530 (Dev)
Benjamin C, Stoker 1c, K 13531 (Dev)
Lancelot L, Ordinary Seaman, J 15515 (Dev)
E, Petty Officer, 162971 (Dev)
W, Able Seaman, J 521 (Dev)
J, Petty Officer, 163249 (Dev)
Leading Stoker, 311808 (Dev)
MACEY, James W,
Painter 2c, M 899 (Dev)
William, Stoker 1c, 301157 (Dev)
Thomas W, Corporal, RMLI, 14645 (Ply)
Maurice C, Chief Stoker, 172311 (Dev)
James, Stoker 1c, K 14411 (Dev)
Blacksmith, 340351 (Dev)
F, Ship's Cook, 344527 (Dev)
Herbert, Stoker 1c, K 13538 (Dev)
George E, Leading Seaman, 22187 (Dev)
Able Seaman, 180994 (Dev)
Signalman, J 9090 (Dev)
C, Lieutenant Commander,
died of wounds
G, Able Seaman, 220217 (Dev)
H, Ordinary Seaman, J 15969 (Dev)
light cruiser, lost 20th
James B, Armourer's Mate, 345905 (Dev),
cruiser, lost 20th
David Private RMLI 12483 (Ply)
old light cruiser, sunk 20 September
GOODWIN, William J, Petty Officer 1c, 184201 (Dev),
light cruiser, sunk 20 September
Daniel, Leading Carpenter's Crew, 346759 (Dev),
Adjutant, patrol vessel, ex-German tug, damaged by shore fire and
recaptured by Germans
Edward R, Able Seaman, J 592 (Ch)
armed merchant cruiser (took part in operations against
RITCHIE, William, Seaman,
3416 C, died in
river monitor, damaged by return gunfire from German light
cruiser Konigsberg, 2 men died of wounds on 10 and 17 July
HAINES, Henry G, Able Seaman (RFR B 6513), 215246 (Po)
MACDONALD, Colin, Able Seaman (RFR B 4604), 228314 (Po)
OSMOND, John, Able Seaman (RFR B 4227), 198849 (Po)
RANSOM, Jack G, Chief Petty Officer, 155141 (Po)
river monitor, damaged on 6th
ROLLS, Reginald J, Sick Berth Steward, 350785 (Po),
HENDERSON, Alexander W, Able Seaman (RFR B 746), 164842 (Po),
With thanks to
the London Gazette
29395 - 7 DECEMBER 1915
Admiralty, 8th December, 1915.
His Majesty The KING (is) pleased to give orders for the
appointment of the following Officers to the Distinguished Service Order,
in recognition of their services, as mentioned, on the occasion of the
operations against the "Konigsberg":
Captain Eric John Arthur Fullerton, R.N. Was in charge
of the two Monitors, and conducted the operations in the river with complete
Commander Robert Amcotts Wilson, R.N. These two
Officers had to deal with a very difficult task, entering a river of which very
imperfect information was obtainable, against an unknown and invisible defence,
which might well have been very serious, and there is no doubt that the Monitors
were most fortunate in not being more severely handled by the enemy.
Squadron Commander Robert Gordon, R.N.A.S. (Captain,
temporary Major, R.M.). Was in command of the Air Squadron. Was indefatigable in
his work, and ran great risks in spotting and reconnoitring.
Flight Commander John Tulloch Cull, R.N.A.S.
Flight Sub-Lieutenant Harwood James Arnold, R.N.A.S.
Flight Commander Cull and Flight Sub-Lieutenant Arnold were
spotting on the 11th July, under fire, in a Biplane, when the enemy's fire
damaged it so that it descended in a quarter of an hour from 3,200 feet to 2,000
feet. During this time no attempt was made to return to Headquarters at Mafia,
although it was obvious that this could not be done unless a start was made at
once. Flight Sub-Lieutenant Arnold continued to send his spotting signals the
whole time, and when a quarter of an hour later the machine was again hit and
forced to descend, Flight Commander Cull controlled the machine and Flight
Sub-Lieutenant Arnold continued to send spotting corrections to the last, after
warning the Monitors that they were coming down, and would endeavour to land
near them. The aeroplane finally came down in the river, turning over and over.
Flight Commander Cull was nearly drowned, but was assisted by Flight
Sub-Lieutenant Arnold, and both were rescued by a boat from the "Mersey."
The following Petty Officers and men have been awarded the
Distinguished Service Medal for their services on the same occasion:
Petty Officer William J. Sercombe, O.N. 163215.
Able Seaman George A. Hogg, O.N. 202097 (R.F.R.).
Leading Telegraphist Percival Jacobs, O.N. J34831.
Shipwright (2nd Class) William Sheppherd, O.N. 346098.
Private Edward Redhead, R.M.L.I. (R.F.R., Plym. 9481.
Chief Yeoman of Signals E. W. Pettingale, O.N. 148718.
Able Seaman H. J. Carter, O.N. 217542.
Able Seaman William Corry, O.N. 190507 (R.F.R. Ch.B.
Stoker (2nd Class) Richard Thompson, O.N. 105721.
Royal Naval Air Service.
Air Mechanic Ebenezer Henry Alexander Boggis, O.N.
the honours and gallantry awards listed in the London Gazette, do not identify
ships or battles/campaigns. Therefore the above listings are probably incomplete