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SMS Cormoran

Discussions on all aspects of the German Colonies and Overseas Expeditions.
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SMS Cormoran

Postby Peter H on 20 Feb 2006 10:17

The original Cormoran was an unprotected cruiser 335 feet long, 1,600 tons, with a speed of 16 knots and an armament of eight 105-mm guns. Her guns and crew were transferred to the captured Russian merchant steamship Riasan. The original Cormoran was anchored in the harbor of the German colony at Tsingtao, China until she was scuttled on November 4, 1914.
Riasan was a German built, Russian owned steamer, 290 feet long, 3,522 tons, with a speed of 14 knots. She was captured by the German cruiser Emden near island of Tsushima, Japan, 100 miles north of Nagasaki, on the morning of August 3, 1914. Renamed Cormoran she sailed as an armed merchant cruiser under command of Korvettenkapitan Adalbert Zuckschwerdt. Due to a lack of coal, she sailed to the neutral port of Guam and interned there on December 14, 1914. Captain and crew remained aboard until April 7, 1917 when they learned the United States had entered the war. Then the new Cormoran was scuttled with the loss of seven souls. The survivors were interned on Guam, later transferred to San Francisco and then to the War Prison Barracks at Fort Douglas, Utah arriving June 10, 1917.

http://www.smsmoewe.com/ships/smsms80.htm


Adalbert Zuckschwerdt(1874-1945) was the later Konteradmiral commanding the Loire/French South Coast command in 1943.

Zuckschweredt also served on SMS Roon as an Artillerieoffizier when it visited Australia in 1913.

SMS Roon:

http://www.deutsche-schutzgebiete.de/sms_roon.htm
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Postby cj on 31 Jul 2006 20:11

I've actually seen a program on the SMS Cormoran. A Jap sub rests on it's wreakage now. There was a short machine gun battle before it was sunk, it was the first Americn shots of WWI fired. The ships doctor married an American on the island before war was declared, what happened to them I forget, i don't think the program said.

http://store.aetv.com/html/product/inde ... &subcatid=
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Postby Scarlett on 01 Aug 2006 15:02

In Germany this press report was published 1917.
According to this Reuters news-item 2 NCOs and seven sailors were killed, when the Americans tried to seize the ship,
and 20 officers, 12 NCOs and 321 sailors taken prisoner.

Der "Cormoran" von seiner Besatzung zerstört

Washington, 7. April. (Reuter-Meldung.)
Die Besatzung des deutschen Kanonenbootes "Cormoran", das im Hafen von Guam interniert war, hat sich geweigert, es den amerikanischen Behörden zu übergeben, und hat es zerstört. 2 Unteroffiziere und 5 Matrosen wurden getötet, 20 Offiziere, 12 Unteroffiziere und 321 Matrosen gefangengenommen.
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Postby cj on 01 Aug 2006 17:49

I'm somewhat confused on why the Cormoran was interned in Guam. If the US was a neutral power, couldn't the Germans just buy coal and sail out to continue the hunt?
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Postby cpa95 on 03 Aug 2006 09:57

Hi cj,

Cormoran was interned in Guam 13.12.1914-7.4.1917.
The commandant of Cormoran received a letter from Commander Owen Bartlett, adjudant of the Governor of Guam. The letter informed him, that now there was a war between Germany and USA.
The Governor asked to capitulate and hand over the ship.
The capitain (Zuckschwerdt) rejected this requirement and ordered to destroy the ship. The men went into the water. The ship sunk within 4 minutes. The US troops saved a lot of them, 7 men died in the water:
Obersteuermann Beuershaufen (heart attack)
Obermatrose Reschke (heart attack)
Obermaschinist Blum (drown in the water)
Obervermessungsgast Burkhardt (drown in the water)
Obermatrose Blaker (drown in the water)
Matrose Penning (drown in the water)
Heizer Roos (drown in the water)

Greetings
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Postby Peter H on 03 Aug 2006 10:58

The Hague Convention 1907 defined the duties of neutrals in a conflict

http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/lawofwar/hague05.htm

Article 11:

"A neutral Power which receives on its territory troops belonging to the belligerent armies shall intern them, as far as possible, at a distance from the theatre of war.

It may keep them in camps and even confine them in fortresses or in places set apart for this purpose.

It shall decide whether officers can be left at liberty on giving their parole not to leave the neutral territory without permission."
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Postby cj on 04 Aug 2006 06:13

I guess it was illegal then when the Dutch hosted the Emden
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Postby Peter H on 04 Aug 2006 06:41

Normally a grace period is given for war vessels--leave or face internment.SMS Geier arrived in Honolulu on the 15th October 1914,interned 8th November 1914.

Emden did not dock in Batavia,only the collier Markomannia.The later was not classified as a war vessel anyway.Merchant ships cannot be interned by a neutral.
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Postby cj on 04 Aug 2006 07:43

ok thanks for clarifying
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SMS Cormoran

Postby Dorit on 05 Sep 2006 20:26

Hello-- I am interested in discussing the SMS Cormoran. In particular, I would like to know if cpa95, who listed the men drowned by name, has a complete list of the crew. I have tried to get a complete list from the Ft. Douglas Museum and a Mr. Cunningham, who wrote a thesis about the POW's interned at Ft. Douglas, to no avail.

I am compiling information to pass along to my sons regarding their grandfather's adventures. I was born when my dad was 48 and he died at the age of 97 with full mental capacities.

My father had many interesting stories to tell about his POW years, particularly in the United States, and I would be happy to answer questions that anyone might have regarding the information I have gathered.

An earlier inquiry re coal and the Cormoran's internment in Guam brought to mind that the Hague Convention did apply to the US and they were not allowed to aid Germany, therefore the ship was allowed to stay, not having enough coal to escape. It was just as well, because they would have lost their lives with the Japanese waiting for them just outside the safe habor.

I am looking forward to further dialogue on the SMS Cormoran and her crew.
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Postby cpa95 on 07 Sep 2006 20:41

Hi,

my list is from Marine-Archiv (Der Krieg zur See 1914-1918), Der Kreuzerkrieg, Vol. II.

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Postby ohrdruf on 14 Oct 2006 20:35

Dorit

Since the crew of the auxiliary cruiser "Cormoran" came from the Imperial Navy gunboat "Cormoran", your search for the crew list might pay results if you investigate the German naval archives.
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Postby Dorit on 14 Oct 2006 21:00

Thanks for the advice. I had an Uncle, in Germany, do just that, unfortunately, in WWII many of these documents were destroyed, and he was not able to obtain this listing from any archives in Germany. I have asked both Fort Douglas and Fort McPhearson historians for this info as well, but Fort Douglas has the only list through a Master's thesis written by a Mr. Corcoran and his list is only partial, though my father's name does appear on it.

Thank you for your continued interest. Dorit
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Postby cgrallert on 18 Nov 2006 02:01

Hi All,

My grandfather was also on the SMS Cormoran (Wilhelm Hermann GRALLERT. He was working for his brother in Tsing Tao (Johann GRALLERT) when the war broke out and he joined the navy there. I too would be very interested in hearing from anyone who had relatives/ancestors on the Cormoran.

Also, does anyone's list include my grandfathers name?

The book called "The Frustrated Raider: The Story of the German Cruiser Cormoran in World War I" by Charles Burdick is actually an excellent read and very acurate I suppose. It answers many of the questions posed here (i.e., although not intially interned the US Gov opted not to provide coal to the Cormoran and they were the olny source on Guam at the time).

Regards, Chris
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Re: Cormoran II

Postby rcajazz1 on 10 Aug 2012 05:05

cj wrote:I'm somewhat confused on why the Cormoran was interned in Guam. If the US was a neutral power, couldn't the Germans just buy coal and sail out to continue the hunt?


At its 1914 arrival The Cormoran was nearly out of coal and the local Guam supply was dangerously low, as well. The Governor offered a mere token amount, as the island's coal was needed and committed elsewhere. The ship was stuck. Putting out to sea risked running out of fuel with limited range with no way to resupply, and worse, being found and sunk like a sitting duck by the Japanese ships trailing her.

Staying put in a neutral situation was the captain's only option, and the laws at that moment favored that decision.
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