Saturday, 18 February 2012

SMS Emden vs. HMS Sydney ... 09:30 hrs, 9 November 1914

Reports indicate that HMS Sydney has limped back into Australian territorial waters several days after intercepting the Kaiser's light cruiser SMS Emden, which had recently attacked the Eastern Telegraph Company's station at Direction Island, in the eastern Indian Ocean.

Artists impression of the engagement between the SMS Emden and HMS Sydney

HMS Sydney, a Town Class (Chatham sub-class) light cruiser, engaged the Emden, commanded by  Captain von Müller, at 09:30 hours on 9 November. Von Müller's lookouts spotted the Sydney as she approached from the east and the Australian light cruiser closed for action. The first few salvos from the Sydney knocked out one of the Emden's main guns and inflicted moderate damage.

Alas, von Müller consistently out-maneuvered the Sydney allowing the Emden's gunners to rake the Sydney's stern on two occasions with very accurate fire disabling two of Sydney's 13" guns and causing significant structural damage crippling the light cruiser. Great advantage was gained form the very fast rate of fire maintained by the Emden's main armaments.

Retaining the initiative, von Müller's gunners scored a critical hit on the Sydney causing her to list badly affecting gunnery and speed at which point her Captain ordered a withdrawal from the engagement with the intention of steaming to His Majesty's naval base at Rabul to undertake repairs.

Indications are that the Emden returned to Direction Island to recover a shore party which has destroyed the telegraph station. The Emden is believed to be now heading towards the north-west Indian ocean. No reports are available yet on the loss of life and property on Direction Island.
HMS Sydney (left) limps away from her engagement with the
SMS Emden at around 11:00 hours on 9 November 1914

HMS Sydney, a 5,400 ton Town Class light cruiser
(1:2400 scale by Panzerschiffe)

SMS Emden, a 3,364 ton light cruiser of the Imperial German Navy
(1:2400 scale by Panzerschiffe)
Final score cards after the encounter show HMS Sydney having taken six hits of structural damage, lost two of her main guns and received a critical hit causing her to list badly. The SMS Emden took two hits of structural damage early in the encounter losing two of her main guns on her starboard side.
Engagement fought using Grand Fleet, Second Edition
by Majestic Twelve Games  (
This was my first attempt at using the Grand Fleet rules and I have to say I found it to be quite an easy system to pick up. The successive die rolling to hit, then to penetrate armour, and finally to assess damage could get a little repetitive in big engagements. But, for my first foray into naval wargaming, I certainly enjoyed it.  The strategy I used in this game was to keep the Emden at medium range from the Sydney (usually 3 nautical miles) avoiding any die roll benefits to both sets of gunners from short range fire. At this range the Emden's gunners out-shot those of the Sydney due to the benefits they had of having a rate of fire modifier (+3 to hit) three-times greater than the gunners of the Sydney (+1 to hit) and presented a difficult target by staying astern of the Sydney and by virtue of being a very small vessel (HMS Sydney is classified only as small) providing a -1 to hit for the British gunners..

I'll certainly re-fight this encounter in the near future (on a larger board this time). For my next project (in between Russian 1812 army for DBN and Dutch/VOC and Prtuguese armies - phew!) I have on the painting table all the ships required for the Battle of the Falkland Islands (9 December 1914) that took place a month after the Emden was sunk by the Sydney. Also, I'm searching for a playing mat to suit naval battles - I may end up making my own.

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