Great escape relic returns home for Anzac Centenary

This article has photo gallery Published on Mr Bob Crawshaw (author), Unknown (photographer)

Location(s): Cocos (Keeling) Islands

A lifebuoy from the Schooner Ayesha that was seized by Lieutenant Hellmuth Von Mucke in 1914 after being stranded on Direction Island.              (photo: Unknown)
A lifebuoy from the Schooner Ayesha that was seized by Lieutenant Hellmuth Von Mucke in 1914 after being stranded on Direction Island.

A relic from a sailing ship seized by German sailors in one of wartime’s great escapes returns to the Cocos Islands this weekend.
 
On 9 November, relatives of the German raider SMS Emden will present a lifebuoy from the schooner Ayesha to the Cocos Islands community. The hand-over is part of the Anzac Centenary events on the Islands.
 
A relative of the Emden officer who commanded the escape from the Cocos, Bjorn Von Mucke, has kindly donated the lifebuoy.
 
On 9 November 1914 the German raider SMS Emden landed a 50-strong raiding party to destroy the cable and wireless station on Direction Island.  
 
The Cocos station helped link Australia to the rest of the world. Although station equipment was smashed, the raiding party was stranded when the HMAS Sydney destroyed their ship.

The stranded Germans, led by Lieutenant Hellmuth Von Mucke seized a local vessel Ayesha and sailed undetected to Indonesia. A freighter then carried them to Yemen from where they travelled by foot, camel and train across the Arabian Peninsula to Constantinople (now Istanbul). They returned home in 1915.

The schooner Ayesha.

The schooner Ayesha.


“The escape from the Cocos lasted five months, covered 12,000 km and is one of history’s most dramatic escapes. This weekend the spirit of Ayesha finally comes home.”
 
The Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove and Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, will travel to Cocos this weekend to commemorate 100 years since the battle - unveiling a 'friendship mast' representing the respect between the two Navies ever since.