- Letter Writer
- History - WW1, Letter to the Editor
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- March 2016 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
I enjoyed the story The Witu Islands – Were they the Wolf’s Lair in the September 2015 edition of the ‘Review’. This led me to look up an old copy of The Dog Watch No 30 from 1973 containing another article The Tale of Komet by Harrow Morgan.
Morgan’s research confirms Komet was at the smaller of the Witu caldera of Peterhafen in late August 1914 where the crew was gainfully employed painting the ship grey subsequent to her commissioning into the Imperial German Navy. In her new colours Kometproceeded to the Pelew Islands helping coal the armed merchant cruiser Prinz Eitel Friedrich. Following discussions with AMC senior officers, and lacking any future purpose, Captain Möller apparently considered surrendering his ship believing Germany would win a quick war and this would overall help preserve German property in New Guinea.
In another twist to this tale Captain Genten of Norddeutscher-Lloyd shipping company had recently joined Komet. It was locally rumoured he was taking over from Möller, a naval reserve officer, who was being found another position in Prinz Eitel Friedrich. Genten was possibly also keeping watch on Möller, whose loyalty was considered questionable, as his English wife was the daughter of a high ranking military officer.
After coaling the AMC Komet returned briefly to Peterhafen before seeking her favourite hiding spot at Komethafen where she was later surprised by Australian forces early on the morning of 11 October 1914. As Captain Möller put up no resistance to his arrest this may add further fuel to the above suspicions.
In the Review of December 2015 there is an article entitled Commander J.M. Jackson RN – Sixteen Years on the Australian Station in which the author seeks a photograph of Jackson. The Dog Watch article contains a poor quality illustration of the capture of Captain Möller by LCDR Jackson. A footnote reminds the reader that the arrest was actually carried out by LT COL Paton and not LCDR Jackson.