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Wednesday, 11 November 1914

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister of Defence) . - I ask leave tq -read a statement to the Senate.

Leave granted.

Senator PEARCE - I desire to acquaint the Senate with the following information regarding the destruction of the Emden by H.M.A.S. Sydney: -

About noon oil Monday, 9th November, a telegram was received at Navy Office from Cooos Island, stating that a three funnelled warship had arrived off the island, and was landing a party of men in boats. Communication with Cocoa immediately ceased. It was realised at Navy Office that this must be the Emden, and efforts were at once made to get into touch with Sydney, then believed to be in the vicinity of Cocos Islands. An urgent telegram was despatched to the Perth Radio Station, forwarding a code telegram to be made on the highest power, of which this station in capable, with the " en clair " preamble, " Very urgent. Do not reply," followed by the. Sydney's call sign, and the telegram informing her of the Emden' s presence at Cocos Island.

No further information was received nntil i p.m. on Tuesday, 10th inst., when the Eastern Extension Company brought to Navy Office a telegram received from Cocos that the Sydney was engaging Emden, and that Emden was a wreck on the north of Keeling Island.

This news was confirmed half-an-hour later by a telegram received by the Naval Board from the Naval Commander-in-Chief on the China station, stating that the cable from Perth to Cocos was out of order, but that the - one between Cocos and Batavia was still working. He reported that on the night before Cocos Station had managed to send a short message on extemporized " instruments that Emden had been engaged by a British cruiser, but that the result was not yet known, and that the German landing party had seized the schooner and left the island. The CommanderinChief stated that later information had been received from Cocos that Sydney had arrived there, and that Emden was wrecked on the north coast of the Island. He added that he was informing Admiralty. A more complete account was received on the morning of Wednesday, 11th. It was then ascertained from Cocos by a telegram forwarded by the courtesy of Mr. Webster, Adelaide representative of the Eastern Extension- Telegraph Company, that Cocos had temporarily restored communication, and was able to supply further particulars. It appears that Emden arrived at 6 a.m., and sent three boats witE a landing party, consisting of three officers and forty men, with four maxims. The Island immediately sent out an urgent wireless call for help, which was received by Sydney just before the installation was smashed by the Germans. The landing party had apparently just completed their work of destruction, and actually put off to the ship when the Sydney hove in sight. The Emden at once put' to sea, leaving her boats behind. On clearing the Island the Emden apparently opened the action on the Sydney, and it is stated that her shooting was at first excellent, but after she had been under fire from the Sydney her shooting fell off considerably. It is gathered that Sydney must have poured an accurate and deadly fire into Emden, as the latter very soon lost two funnels and a mast, whilst the whole of the after part of the ship was on fire. The action lasted an hour, the Emden being then apparently in a sinking condition and completely on fire.

The captain evidently decided to beach the ship, as she is reported to be wrecked on the north of the island. The Sydney reoeived very slight damage; the casualties consisting of three killed and fifteen wounded. The names have not yet been reported. After Emden was beached Sydney picked up tho doctor of Cocoa Island and his assistants, and proceeded to the help of the Emden. The result of this visit is not yet known. The German landing party seized two months' provisions, and made off in the schooner Ayesha. The manager of Cocos Island station reported that they had been well treated by the Germans, and were all well. The following are the particulars of Sydney and Emden: -

Sydney- Light cruiser, 0,400 tons; speed, 25 knots; armament, S six inch guns, 4 3-pdrs.

Emden- Light cruiser, 3,600 tons; speed, 24 knots; armament, 10 4.1 inch guns.

The Sydney has recently come out of dock, and has, therefore, an advantage in the matter of speed.

The Government have received this cablegram from the Secretary of State for the Colonies: -

Please convey to your Government my hearty congratulations complete success achieved by H.M.A.S. Sydney, in putting an end to the career of the Emden.

The following message was received by the Governor-General from the merchants of Kingston, in Jamaica: -

Hearty congratulations Sydney's naval victory. Hurrah for Australia.

Mr. HenryMarks, of Suva, has sent this cablegram : -

Australians in Fiji congratulate Commonwealth first naval victory.

I have received from the Minister of Defence for the Dominion of New Zealand a message congratulating the Commonwealth and the Sydney on her brilliant achievement, and also messages from the Governors of South Australia and Tasmania.

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