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CAPTURED BY GERMANS

AN EXCITING TIME. . A DUNEDIN PARTY'S EXPERIENCES.

Mr J. Clegg and the Misses M'Nicoll, of Dunedin,, returned homo last evening after having had some rather exciting ex* periences as the result of the war. To be taken prisoner by the Germans is not ‘such a terrifying experience as most pepple imagine, according to Mr Clegg, although’ two months*; of this year have been the most adventurous in the whole tenure of his life, , . _ The capture occurred in latitude 7deg, longitude Sides W. Mr Clegg was on board the ship Indian Prince, hound from Barcelona to New York via Rio de Janeiro. The boat left Rio on August 25, and all went well until two days out from Bahia, when at 9 in the evening, in the light of a strong moon, a huge shape loomed up, and the German converted cruiser, Kronprinz, called on the captain of the Indian Prince to stop. The boat was then put under arrest, and for several days her captain was ordered by the Norddcutscher Lloyd boat to steer south-south-east. Day and night tho big German vessel followed in The wake of the tramp steamer until tho fourth day, when two German officers came aboard the Indian Prince and delivered the following terse ultimatum in English: 1. Your ship is hostile, 2. Your cargo is hostile. 5. Your ship will bo sunk in 15 minutes. 4. You must all como on board the Kronprinz. . , 5. Refusal will only result m compulsion. Along with tho captain and crew, Mr Clegg and his two wards went aboard the big converted cruiser, and _ from tho taffrail witnessed the demolition of the Indian Prince. The Germans went aboard, took out the provisions and coal, chronometers and other instruments, and then opened the sea-cocks and placed explosives aboard. A few minutes afterwards the party watched tho British boat settle and sink to the green bottom of the Atlantic, with her cargo, valued at about £30,000. , , In telling the story of the days spent aboard the Kronprinz Mr Clegg said: “ They treated us with every courtesy, from the captain to tho humblest deckhand. but they made very sure of us all the same. In all the corridors where we were allowed to walk, men with drawn cutlasses marched up and down, on the stairs and between decks. At night our electric light bulbs were taken from the cabins, and we were left in total darkness. I must, say, however, the Germans acted like thorough gentlemen. We remained on tho Kronprinz eight days, and actually heard tho sound of the guns in the engagement in which the Carmania sank tho Cap Trafalgar. On tho ninth day three steamers came along laden with coal for the Kronprinz. Wo were placed aboard one of them, the Ebenburg, and •after seven days of rough weather got back to Rio, just five weeks after our departure 'from that port. The Germans took great care to conceal from us all the time tho location of the vessel. At the sama time wo were entering Rio Harbor H.M.S. Cornwall was leaving in a dense fog. On the way to Now York on another vessel we were within 20 miles of the German cruiser Karlsruhe, and an Austrian operator we had aboard was just prevented in lime from giving us away.” The adventures of Mr Clegg and his party did not start with the capture of tho Indian Prince by tho German vessel. Before that time he had passed _ through Europe just as the great mobilisations were taking place, and actually travelled on a troop train filled with French soldiers from Paris to Marseilles. 'I he jour-' ney took the Whole of one day and well into tho next, and that time he was unable to get a bite of food for himself and his two wards except a few plums at Dijon. The members of the party were so ravenous that they_ were compelled to beg a few crusts from a poor man at one of the roadside stations. Another cheerless experience was at Genoa, in Italy, where thejf arrived just as Germany declared war on. Great Britain. Naturally tho travellers expected Italy to join with Germany in the Triple Alliance, and they made haste to get out, securing only steerage passage in a boat to Barcelona.

The Misses M'Nicoll, in relating their lexpciienioes aboard the German ship, stated: —

“ On September 18 all on board the Indian Prince were transferred to tho German' ship, and as we went on board the captain of the latter—an exceedingly polite young man, with hair prematurely white (ae he told us) from the anxiety he was undergoing—said to ue: —■* I am sorry to give you this trouble, but war is war, you know. It is your turn to be. made prisoners now, it may bo ours next if nothing else befalls us.’ We received every consideration, and were given first-class accommodation, but were only permitted to use part of the ship, being continually watched by two men with drawn cutlasses. “ After they took us and our belongings off tho Indian Prince they ransacked her, and then opened her seacocks. At the end of four hours the tramp was still rolling about, so they put some bombs into her and blow her'up. She went down with all her valuable cargo. “\Ve had the best of food to eat and good attendance. We were in total darkness every night, and everyone on board wad ‘nervy,’ though tho greatest courtesy was always shown os. We played cards and chess with the officers, and every afternoon the ship’s band used to play. They often got wireless messages about tho war, and used to translate them for us. One, I remember, stated that Paris was in flames, another that Loudon was being attacked, and another that peace was being sued for. These were not very cheering for us. They practised shooting every day. "We were eight days on the Kron Prinz Wilhelm, and on the fourth day we received a great fright. The wireless operator reported that tho German armed merchantman Cap Trafalgar and the British armed merchantman Carmania were fighting less than 40 miles away. Our ship was at once put at full speed to help the Cap Trafalgar, and we were locked up down below. However, the Camiania sunk the German, and our ship decided not to fight. She thought that tho Camiania might repeat tho performance, I suppose. Some of the wireless messages aroused hopes and fears with us. A British cruiser would bo reported 150 miles off, then 100 miles, and once wo were within SO miles of one. A big collier joined tho merchantman in mid-Atlantic, and coal was taken in by the stewards and stacked in the saloon, tho cabins, and even in the beautiful music room.. Tile ship, you know, was a 19,000-tonner, and it was sad to see all the fine fittings despoiled. “We were eventually transferred to one of these colliers and taken back to Rio, the officers of the Kron Prinz Wilhelm shaking hands with us. and hoping that we would get homo safely. The wish was mutual. Wo waved farewells until we were out of sight. We were well treated on the collier, and the captain, who enteri tained us at afternoon tea, said that England must have been preparing for the war for a long time, as she had everything so well arranged. We arrived at Rio Harbor on a foggy morning, and as we were entering a British cruiser - left, just missing us in the fog. Wo left again for New York by the Tennyson, and had another narrow escape. Wo passed within 20 miles of tho Karlsruhe, but our wireless operator (an Austrian) did not tell the captain. We put him ashore at Barbadoes. Eventually we got to New York, crossed to San Francisco, and came over to Australia in the Ventura.”

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD19141224.2.50

Bibliographic details

CAPTURED BY GERMANS, Evening Star, Issue 15684, 24 December 1914

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1,322

CAPTURED BY GERMANS Evening Star, Issue 15684, 24 December 1914

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