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SINKING OF THE KAIPARA

We have been permitted to make the following extracts from a letter forwarded by ono of tho crew of the s.s. Kaipara to his relatives in this City: On August 16 (Sunday), just 200 miles before reaching Teneriffe, the Kaipara was sunk by a German cruiser. The captain, officers, and crow —69 of w—got off V 1 the lifeboats, and all were taken aboard the cruiser and made prisoners of war. , Thus a very exciting little excursion commenced. For 11 days we remained aboard the cruiser Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosee, chasing and sinking British merchant ships and dodging British men-of-war. On the eleventh day the Kaiser Wilhelm was lying anchored in Rio de Oro Bay, on the west coast of Africa, taking bunkers and ammunition from three ships lying alongside—the Magdeburg, the Bethania, and the Arucae. The first was a two-funnel steamer of the German-Aus-tralian Line; the Bethania a four-masted Liner, same size as the late Kaipara; the Arucas a little collier. At 1 p.m. they were suddenly surprised by _ the appearance of a British cruiser, which had been searching for the Kaiser Wilhelm. Well, the result was the naval battle of Rio do Oro, which ended in the sinking of the big German Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse, the Magdeburg being very -badly damaged, and afterwards taken prisoner, while tho 117 British prisoners of war and 85 of the German cruiser’s crew got away undamaged and fled to Las Palmas, getting in safely and defying tho vigilance of tho British cruisers which were patrolling. Wo got away on the little collier Arucas, and arrived in Las Palmas on last Friday, 28th August, at 4 a.m. ; and on Friday night we got away from Las Palmas fay this ship, bound for London, now being released prisoners of war on parole, bio new there is no more s.s. Kaipara. Fifty-three shots from the Kaiser Wilhelm and she sank like a stone. The Kaiser Wilhelm der Groeee waa one of the magnificent mail and passenger boats running from Germany to New York—a huge four-funnel boat, with a speed of 24 knots per hour. She was one of their boats which was armed with big guns, so lhat in time of war she could he converted into a cruiser in 24 hours. She had a crew of 600 navy men, all ranks. When she was sunk by the British cruiser Highflyer 400 of the crew escaped ■on the Bethania and 85 on the Arucas with us. The remainder of the crew and all tho officers went down with their ship. You read of British pluck, but the bravery of those German officers equalled anything lye hoard of in the British Navy. While the officers on the British cruiser were firing on the Gorman cruiser with 117 British officers and men aboard, while we were escaping from the side of the Kaiser 'Vilhelm in the Arucas, five shells came perilously close to us, and any one of them a few yards nearer would have blown up and sunk the little Arucas ; but thanks to their indifferent gunnery wc are still alive to tell the tale. They knew we were all aboard, for the Kaiser signalled that she had over 100 British prisoners. After T got aboard the Arucas I suddenly remembered my pocket book, which among other things contained 17 sovereigns, and it was hidden under my pillow. An engineer lieutenant from the Kaiser went along to my room and got it, and threw it aboard to me.

Wo were three days on the. Arucas, 207 men aboard, and she was about twice the size of the Bluff tug. My bed the.iv was on the floor of tho smoke room. There were 10 of us there—nine English and one German petty officer. He was a Gorman Navy Reserve man, but in lime of peace, a solicitor and barrister. Ho had a number of painful duties to perform if ho ever got back to Germany. The captain of the Kaiser gave him his sword to take home to his wife and tell her how be died. One of the artillery lieutenants started to write a note to his wife (married three weeks before the war broke out). He gave this unfinished note to the lawyer, also his sword, to take home to his widow. Cheerful duties, weren't they?— but such is war. Ono of the navigating lieutenants told me one day that he had been married for two months to a Russian girl. Most of them were married, for they were all Reserve men. But now at least nil the Kaipara’s crowd are safe, although while prisoners on the cruiser v.-r>. never expected to sec our homes again.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD19141107.2.25

Bibliographic details

SINKING OF THE KAIPARA, Evening Star, Issue 15644, 7 November 1914

Word Count
786

SINKING OF THE KAIPARA Evening Star, Issue 15644, 7 November 1914

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