//Ed. Note: The German warship Emden single-handedly ravaged
mostly British shipping in the Indian Ocean at the beginning of
World War I. Ultimately, the Australian ship Sydney sank the
Emden near the Cocos-Keeling Islands in the remote southeastern
portion of the Indian Ocean.
Location of Cocos-Keeling Islands in the Indian Ocean.
The Emden's Captain and most of the crew were taken prisoner
by the Australians and the British but an Emden landing party,
headed by Helmut Von Mücke, managed to elude the captors
and this group eventually made their way to the Red Sea coast
of Yemen, which was then a part of the Ottoman Empire,
Coincidentally, an Ottoman official named Sami Çölgeçen,
featured in two recent TNT History Archives posts:
How I Crossed the Great Sahara Desert
Ottoman Officers Aboard America's Great White Fleet
happened to be in El Kunfuza, Yemen, when the Emden
stragglers arrived there on 17 March 1915. Sami Bey,
an experienced desert traveller, shepherded the Emden crew
up the Red Sea coast and to a station of the Hicaz Railway,
arriving there on 22 April 1915. By train, Emden crew
reached Istanbul and from there, back to Germany for a
The trip up the Red Sea coast was difficult and clashes
with anti-Ottoman Bedouins cost some German and
Turkish lives. Nevertheless, Sami Bey eventually delivered
the Emden crew safely but Von Mücke, in his memoirs,
characterized Sami Bey as a "translator we took along."
In fact, Sami Bey was the crew's savior and he made his
case in this regard in a rebuttal to Von Mücke that is the
subject of the War History Online story below.
Emden Crew's Ottoman Savior click here to read the story
as it was published on War History Online.