Bombardment of Madras

The bombardment of Madras was an engagement of the First World War, at Madras (now Chennai), British India. The bombardment was initiated by the German light cruiser Emden at the outset of the war in 1914.

Bombardment of Madras
Part of the First World War

Oil tanks on fire in the harbour following the bombardment of Madras by SMS Emden
Date22 September 1914
Result German victory, German raid on oil tanks completed.
 India Germany
Commanders and leaders
unknown Karl von Müller
unknown 1 light cruiser
Casualties and losses
1 steamer sunk
5 killed
26 wounded

With Captain Karl von Müller in command, on the night of 22 September 1914, SMS Emden quietly approached the city of Madras on the southeastern coast of the Indian peninsula. As he later wrote, "I had this shelling in view simply as a demonstration to arouse interest among the Indian population, to disturb English commerce, to diminish English prestige." After entering the Madras harbour area, Müller illuminated six large oil tanks belonging to the Burmah Oil Company with his searchlights, then fired at a range of 3,000 yards. After ten minutes of firing, Emden had hit five of the tanks and destroyed 346,000 gallons of fuel, and the cruiser then successfully retreated.[1]

Soon the word Emden entered the Tamil dictionary and was used to describe someone powerful, frightening and with an wicked intent.[2]

Emden Plaque Madras


Further reading

  • Frame, Tom. (2004). No Pleasure Cruise: The Story of the Royal Australian Navy. Sydney: Allen & Unwin ISBN 978-1-74114-233-4 (paper)
  • Hoehling, A. A. Lonely Command a Documentary Thomas Yoseloff, Inc., 1957.
  • Hoyt, Edwin P. The Last Cruise of the Emden: The Amazing True World War I Story of a German-Light Cruiser and Her Courageous Crew. The Lyons Press, 2001. ISBN 1-58574-382-8.
  • Hohenzollern, Franz Joseph, Prince of Emden: My Experiences in S.M.S. Emden. New York: G. Howard Watt, 1928.
  • Lochner, R. K. Last Gentleman-Of-War: Raider Exploits of the Cruiser Emden Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1988. ISBN 0-87021-015-7.
  • McClement, Fred. Guns in paradise. Paper Jacks, 1979. ISBN 0-7701-0116-X.
  • Mücke, Hellmuth von. The Emden-Ayesha Adventure: German Raiders in the South Seas and Beyond, 1914. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2000. ISBN 1-55750-873-9.
  • Schmalenbach, Paul German Raiders: A History of Auxiliary Cruisers of the German Navy, 1895-1945. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1979. ISBN 0-87021-824-7.
  • Van der Vat, Dan. Gentlemen of War: The Amazing Story of Captain Karl von Müller and the SMS Emden. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc. 1984. ISBN 0-688-03115-3
  • Walter, John The Kaiser's Pirates: German Surface Raiders in World War One. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1994. ISBN 1-55750-456-3.

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