The Last Farewell
.--Table of Contents--
R.M.S. Lusitania Torpedoed
Scapa Flow Germany Surrenders It's Naval Fleet
The Battle of the River Plate
Sink The Bismarck
The Imperial Japanese Navy Battleship Yamato
The Tomb of the Unknown Solder
WWI--May 1, 1915--the Lusitania docked at Chelsea Piers, NY, was loading passengers for England.
The German Embassy had posted bulletins at Pier 54.
TRAVEL AT YOUR RISK
The bulletin warned passengers that a State of War exists between Germany and Great Britain.
The ship was rumored to be loading ammunitions to aid England in the War Effort.
Captain William (Tom) Turner was given the order from the Cunard office to set sail with 1967 passengers and crew on board.
Disaster Struck on the 7th of May, 1410 hours (2:10pm).
The ship was traveling 11 miles out, along the southern coast off Old Head, Kinsale, Ireland.
Without warning, the ship was torpedoed by German U-Boat, U-20.
The Lusitania took a direct hit below the water line.
The ship exploded and began to sink immediately.
The abandon ship order was given.
The ship sank in 20 minutes killing 1198 that included 128 Americans.
761 survivors took to the lifeboats and were later rescued.
The decision by Germany to sink and unarmed passenger vessel with woman and children aboard sparked international outrage.
In the aftermath of the sinking of the Luisitania, AMERICA ENTERS World War I.
On the 6th of April 1917, America joined Britain, France, Russian and their Allied Forces
in the War Effort on all fronts.
Story by Ian O. Robertson
On November the 11th, 1918,
Germany signed the Armistice agreement ending WWI.
The agreement stated--
that the remaining 74 ships of the German Imperial Fleet under the command of Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter proceed and assemble off Scapa Flow Scotland,
with all gun's firing mechanisms dismantled and ammunitions removed.
If they failed to do so, the German Imperial Fleet would be sunk in place.
On the early morning of the 21st of November,
behind the lead escort cruiser H.M.S. Cardiff and flanked on both sides
by the Royal Navy Fleet that was at battle station ready, and commanded by Sir David Beatty on board the H.M.S. Queen Elizabeth.
The German Fleet, in single line formation, with guns facing fore and aft,
proceeded toward Scapa Flow.
At sunset, they reached Firth of Forth.
All ships were inspected by boarding parties and ordered to lower their battle flags never to be raised again.
By December the 13th,
all ships were anchored at Scapa Flow, manned only with skeleton crews.
20,000 Officers and Crew had been repatriated back to Germany.
During the months that followed, conditions and morale had reached a critical low point.
With no decision on the future of the interned German fleet, Admiral Reuter decided the only honorable thing to do was to scuttle (sink) the fleet in place.
Keeping his plan a total secret, shared only with a few trusted officers and crewmen, they were ordered to weld all water tight doors OPEN, grease and loosen all seacock valves, place sledge hammers at all drain locations and open all portholes and deadlights in preparation to scuttle.
At 10:00am, on the morning of the 21st of June,
Admiral Reuter stood in full military dress on the bridge of the battle cruiser EMDEN.
He ordered the secret signal flag be raised, giving the order to scuttle the fleet.
Following Reuter's command, the sinking of the 74 ships began.
Below decks, crews opened all intake valves.
Admiral von Reuter final act was to order the Imperial Naval flag be hoisted on all ships' masts.
At 12:16 hours, the first ship to sink was the Battleship Friedrich Der Grosse.
Germany suffered the greatest loss in Naval Shipping in History.
Story by Ian O Robertson
In 1913, The Hamburg Amerika Line H.A.P.A.G under Chairman Albert Ballin
had three luxurious superliners:
During World War I, all three ships were seized by the Allies and renamed:
VATERLAND renamed the USS LEVIATHAN--United States Line, BISMARCK renamed the R.M.S. MAJESTIC--Cunard White Star Line,
IMPERATOR renamed the R.M.S. BERENGARIA--Cunard White Star Line.
The Berengaria was equipped with a Stock Brokerage Room in First Class.
The Room contained a Ticker Tape Machine linked by Wireless
to the New York Stock Exchange.
This was very popular among the wealthy passengers.
Stocks could be traded while at sea.
--THE GREAT CRASH--
The Berengaria was traveling mid-Atlantic en route to New York
when the stock market crashed,
sending investors scrambling.
Many of them landed in New York--Broke.
The Stock Market Crash triggered The Great Depression.
The First Naval Battle of WWII took place between the German Heavy Cruiser Admiral Graf Spee and The Royal Navy's H.M.S. Exeter, H.M.S. Ajax and H.M.N.Z.S. Achilles in the South Atlantic off the coast of Montevideo Uruguay.
The Royal Navy force was commanded by Commodore Henry Harwood.
The Heavy Cruiser Admiral Graf Spee was commanded by Captain Hans Langsdorff.
The Admiral Graf Spee was dispatched by the German High Command to intercept and sink Allied shipping in the South Atlantic.
On the 13th of December 1939, the fierce battle raged on for hours.
Both the Graf Spee and the Royal Navy ships suffered heavy damage.
The Graf Spee was in desperate need of repairs.
The fuel system was critically disabled.
Captain Langsdorff was seeking a 14 day stay for repairs.
So he headed for Montevideo Harbor, a Neutral Territory.
He was only granted a 72 hour stay which was not enough time for the urgently needed repairs.
Knowing that the Royal Navy lay in wait with reInforcements
and that certain destruction awaited his ship and crew,
Captain Langsdorff ordered the Graf Spee
TO BE DESTROYED.
On the 17th of December, with skeleton crew,
the Graf Spee sailed out of Montevideo
as hundreds of people lined the harbor,
to watch the ship as it positioned itself 3 miles out.
The skeleton crew abandoned the Graf Spee
moments before the massive explosion.
Spectators and crew looked on as the ship suddenly caught fire and sank.
On the 20th of December,
just three days after the sinking of the Graf Spee, Captain Langsdorff, in his hotel room in Buenos Aires, laid on the Graf Spee's Battle Ensign, in full military dress,
and committed suicide by gunshot.
Captain Langsdorff's funeral procession was held in Buenos Aires.
His casket was accompanied by Crew Members.
A TRUNK was made by the crew of the Graf Spee for his uniforms, medals and personal belongings to be shipped back to his wife and family in Germany.
THE IRONY OF THIS STORY
Captain Hans Wilhelm Langsdorff defied the Kriegsmarine High Command Order to take the ship out and fight. He knew he was facing impossible odds against the Royal Navy Force gathering strength on the horizon. His actions saved his crew of over 1,000 men from certain death and destruction and also spared the Royal Navy countless casualties.
Three days after the scuttle of the GRAF SPEE, in his hotel room in Buenos Aires, laying on the GRAF SPEE Battle Ensign, in full Military Dress, he committed suicide by gunshot.
*It's time to Honor his Moral Courage.*
Story by Ian O. Robertson
The H.M.S. Exeter
24th of May 1941
WORLD WAR II
The British Battleships H.M.S. Prince of Wales and the H.M.S. Hood engaged in battle with the German Battleship Bismarck and the Heavy Cruiser Prinz Eugen.
The two German Battleships were en route to the North Atlantic to attack Allied Merchant Supply Convoys as they traveled from America to Great Britain in support of the War Effort.
At the height of the battle, the Hood took a direct hit from the Bismarck near the aft ammunition magazines.
The Hood suffered a massive explosion,
the ship sank in three minutes,
with a loss of 1,418 crew members,
only 3 of the crew survived.
The Bismarck had also suffered significant damage and needed immediate repairs.
The British were devastated by the loss of the H.M.S. Hood.
Admiralty House London ordered the Royal Navy top priority to Seek and Destroy the Bismarck.
On the 27th of May 1941, three days after the sinking of the Hood,
the Royal Navy retaliated and cornered the Bismarck off the coast of France.
A fierce battled ensued with heavy shell fire and aerial torpedo bombardment.
By mid-morning, the Bismarck was a floating wreck.
Numerous fires had broken out on the ship.
The Bismarck was unable to steer and most guns were incapacitated.
And within several hours, the Bismarck sank.
Of the 2221 crew, only 115 survived.
This ended one of the most intensive Naval manhunts in history.
THIS BATTLE WAS A MAJOR VICTORY FOR THE BRITISH.
The Cruiser H.M.S. Dorsetshire was credited for the final torpedo that sank the Bismarck.
Story by Ian Robertson
H.M.S. Hood Photograph of the Full Compliment of the ship's officers and crew.
Photograph taken at Portsmouth
The Yamato was the heaviest and most powerfully armed Battleship ever built--at 72,800 tons, armed with nine 18inch main guns, on three turrets, each gun fired a 3,200 pound shell on target to a range of 25 miles--the largest Naval artillery ever mounted on a Warship.
In April 1945, on a one-way suicide mission, with orders to engage in battle and fight to the death,
the Yamato was dispatched to Okinawa to protect the island from invading American Forces
On the 7th of April 1945, the Yamato was spotted off the coast of Kyushu
by U.S. Reconnaissance Aircraft.
Before the ship could reach Okinawa, an immediate battle ensued with U.S. Aerial Bombers.
After several hours of continuous assault by air to surface torpedoes, the YAMATO was totally ablaze--
a floating wreck.
After several hours, the ship's main ammunition magazines exploded and the ship sank.
Of her 3,332 crew, 3,000 perished and went down with the ship.
On the 2nd of September 1945, Japan formally surrendered on board the Battleship U.S.S. Missouri, anchored in Tokyo Bay.
Emperor Hirohito announces on radio broadcast Japan's Surrender
VICTORY IN THE PACIFIC
General Douglas MacArthur and Admiral Chester W. Nimitz
along with British and Allied Commanders
witnessed Japan's Formal Surrender.
September 2, 1945
World War II was ended.
Story by Ian O. Robertson
The Honor Guard takes 21 steps on his walk across the tomb. The number of steps alludes to the 21 gun salute, the highest honor given to any armed service or foreign dignitary. There are heavy metal heel plates on the heels of the guard's shoes. One can hear the loud click when he comes to a halt. Next, he executes an about face and moves his rifle to the other shoulder, always carried on his shoulder away from the tomb. His gloves are moistened for a firm grip on his rifle, he waits 21 seconds after his about face to begin his return walk. The Honor Guard is given the wreath pin, and is on duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Near the tomb stands the USS Maine Mast Memorial, which honors the 266 valiant seamen who perished on that very ship to a fate, unaware and a death unafraid. The battleship exploded and sank in Havana Harbor in 1898. The mast was salvaged from the wreckage.
May their souls rest in peace.
U.S.S. Maine Mast Memorial
Photo Credit: "USS Maine Mast Memorial" by Cliff - originally posted to Flickr as USS Maine Mast Memorial. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:USS_Maine_Mast_Memorial.jpg#mediaviewer/File:USS_Maine_Mast_Memorial.jpeg
Battleship U.S.S. Maine Havana Harbor 1898
During wartime, the troops were never told
where they were headed until the day of departure.
"We don't know where we're going 'til we're there.
There's lots of blinkin' rumours in the air.
No one seem's to know,
We're singing as we go,
Because we don't know where we're going
'til we're there."
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