Ship's crest : SMS Emden

Place Oceans: Indian Ocean, Cocos Keeling Islands
Accession Number RELAWM05093
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Painted and gilded timber
Location Main Bld: First World War Gallery: Australia Goes To War: Emden
Maker Unknown
Place made Germany
Date made c 1908
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Coat of arms from the bow of SMS Emden. The shield-shaped coat of arms of the City of Emden is manufactured in three sections, two vertical joins being visible. 24 holes approximately 4 cm in diameter are distributed around the surface, allowing the plaque to be securely fastened to the ship. Known as 'the angel on the wall', the coat of arms features the gilded heraldic figure of the Harpy of Ostfriesland (a bird of prey with the head of a woman, also known as the 'Jungfrauadler') on a black background above a red castellated wall, below which are the waves, which represent the city's location on the river Ems. Each side of the bow carried an identical board.

History / Summary

Coat of arms removed from the bow of SMS Emden after her destruction at North Keeling Island by HMAS Sydney (I) on 9 November 1914.

SMS Emden was a German cruiser which was launched in 1908. At the start of the First World War, she was a member of the German East Asiatic Squadron. Emden was detached to stalk the shipping routes across the Indian Ocean and quickly became the scourge of the Allied navies. Between August and October 1914, Emden captured or sank 21 vessels. In November 1914, nine Allied vessels were involved in the hunt for Emden; the threat she posed led to a particularly heavy escort of four warships being allocated to the first Australian and New Zealand troop convoy travelling between Western Australia and Egypt. Surprised by one of these escorts, HMAS Sydney, while in the process of destroying the British radio station on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Emden was destroyed in the fight between the two ships on 9 November 1914.

Emden's coat of arms was one of the many relics removed from the beached wreck by the Royal Australian Navy and was retained as a war trophy. A photograph of the upper deck of the training ship HMAS Tingira shows this item fixed in place to the aft side of the ship's main mast.