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FANNING ISLAND, Issue 15639, 2 November 1914
SMASHING THF CABLE STATION.
.An interesting story of th® raid on Fanning Island cable station by the German cruiser Numberg has reached Sydney from •an operator who was present. The officials had received several messages from Honolulu prior to the cruisers arrival, stating that the Numbers and Leipsic had coaled there. They were therefore aware that a visit from one of the warships was probable, and a native «as placed on watch at night for about a fortnight before. At 4.30 on the morning of September 7 this native tailed Mr Smith, the superintendent, and another official, and reported that a large steamer was approaching. Three of the officials walked down to the wharf at 5 a.m., bub the native on watch said that the vessel had disappeared round South Point. The officials concluded that the vessel sighted was a tramp steamer and returned to their quarters. On© of the officials returned to the wharf at 6 a.m., and arrived just in time to see a big three-funnel cruiser in the distance. As the vessel approached, the party on tho wharf noticed a French flag flying at the peak. They accordingly hoisted a Union Jack on the flagstaff, and one of the party wan despatched to lot the others on shore know that tho cruiser was French. Tho
cruiser pulled up at the buoy and lowered a boat, which had a machine gun in the bowa, and which was full of armed sailors. The party on shore saw that they had been tricked, but before they were able to do anything the German sailors sprang into the surf, and in a twinkling the six men on the wharf were staring down the barrels of automatic revolvers. An officer shouted: “Hands up; you’re my prisoners.” Then they set about the work of destroying the station.. In a few seconds the engine have been mede useless, and a cordon of men surrounded the buildings. The employees, who were still asleep, had been awakened by the crashing of the accumulators. When they arose and went to see what had caused the noise, they were confronted with the rifles. The men who were on duty just had time to send word through to Suva. They despatched the following message;—“lt’s the Number"; they are tiring.’’ An officer and some men then rushed in, and the operators were made prisoners; All this occurred in about six minutes, and by this time all the officials ere prisoners. The Germans then got axes, and in a few seconds the office and the batteries were ruined. Another boat landed a party, and the prisoners were allowed to move about. The engine had been stopped earlier by the Germans firing shots in it, and preparations were then made to blow it up. The officials were warned to move some distance away, and shortly after-
wards two terrific explosions were heard. The roof of the engine room was shattered and the walls cracked. The engines were damaged beyond repair, and the oil from the motor caught fire, but soon fizzled out. It is thought that guncotton was the explosive used. The shore ends of the cable received similar treatment to the engine room. The flagstaff was also cut down and sawn into small pieces. Shortly afterwards smoko was seen round tire North Point, and a fair-sizod tramp steamer appeared. She proved to he a coljier which was accompanying the Nurr.barg. The Germans then returned to their ship, carrying with them all private papers and plans frem the office. At 3 p.m. another boat came off and demanded all the buried instruments, rifles, and ammunition. These consisted of nine or ten eases of instruments, over twenty rifles, and n-rlv twenty thousand rounds of ammunition. The collier grappled for the cables some distance out. and eventually eut them. Both steamers then hauled lip anchois and left in a westerly direction. The Germans were described as being very enurtmi.s. " Wen!;! you be so kind as to got me a saw?" asked one. On his request being complied with he proceeded to saw the fins staff through. ’• J am sorry, gentlemen, hut this is war." said an officer as he drove an axe through the magnifiers, doing damage to the extent of about £2.CCO.
FANNING ISLAND, Issue 15639, 2 November 1914
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