First Victory: The Hunt for the German Raider Emden cover image

First Victory: The Hunt for the German Raider Emden

By Mike Carlton
Penguin Random House Australia


When the ships of the new Royal Australian Navy made their grand entry into Sydney Harbour in October 1913, a young nation was at peace. Under a year later Australia had gone to war in what was seen as a noble fight for king, country, and Empire. Thousands of young men joined up for the adventure of having "a crack at the Kaiser." And indeed the German threat to Australia was real, and very near—in the Pacific islands to the north, and in the Indian Ocean. In the opening months of the war, a German raider,<i>Emden</i>, wreaked havoc on the maritime trade of the British Empire. Its battle against the Australian cruiser HMAS<i>Sydney</i>, when it finally came, was short and bloody—an emphatic first victory at sea for the fledgling Royal Australian Navy. This is the stirring story of the perilous opening months of World War I and the bloody sea battle that destroyed the<i>Emden</i>in a triumph for Australia that resounded around the world. In the century since, many writers have been there before Mike Carlton. Most were German, some of them survivors of the battle, others later historians, and they have generally told the story well. British accounts vary in quality, from good to nonsense, and there have been some patchwork American attempts as well. Curiously, there has been very little written from an Australian point of view. This book is—in part—an attempt to remedy that, with new facts and perspectives brought into the light of day.

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