Mildura Weekly : Friday November 7 2014 Vol 9 No 1
NEWS 23 FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2014 MILDURAWEEKLY.COM.AU of them from country New South Wales, who burned themselves throwing overboard some burn- ing cordite which could have ex- ploded the ship if it had hit the magazines.” The young crewman eye-wit- ness later reported in his diary; “Luckily for us this shell did not explode, as the upper bridge was our foremost control position and in all probability, had it exploded, it would have killed Captain Glos- sop, our gunnery lieutenant and others, including myself.” The battle went on. Continued accurate fire from HMAS Sydney set the German ship on fire, de- stroying her funnels and masts, and one by one putting her guns out of action. Emden losses were heavy - from a crew of 361, a total of 136 died in action or drowned, and 21 were wounded. Von Muller decided to beach the Emden on North Keeling Island. It was later reported that the Emden fired as many as 1500 shells, with 16 hitting HMAS Syd- ney. The Australian ship fired only 670, at reported as many as 100 ‘hits’ that left the Emden disabled. HMAS Sydney left the fight to chase one of the Emden’s coal supply ships, scuttled her and picking up her crew before return- ing to ‘sit off’ the Emden, picking up Captain von Muller and his surviving crewmen the following day. Glossop then switched his at- tention to the German landing party on Direction Island, but this group had escaped to begin their extraordinary trip back home. Joe Kinniburgh was treated for his wounds, then given two weeks recovery leave with his fam- ily back in Mildura. He returned to a hero’s welcome, as details of HMAS Sydney’s heroics had pre- ceded him, was escorted from the railway station to the shire hall, complete with a band and militia escort, and given a civic welcome. He wore his Distinguished Service Medal with pride. Denise said her grandfather’s heroism didn’t stop there. When World War Two broke out, Joe Kinniburgh put his birth date back five years to wrongly state he was only 39, and signed up to once again fight for Australia. “He survived the war, but was a changed man,” Denise said. “My dad told us that Les never spoke of his war efforts, and I never got to talk to him about it. I was only 10 when my grandfather died. Les’ son, my father Keith, was 91 when he died two years ago, and it was about this time that I decided to research some family history.” FOOTNOTE: HMAS Sydney went on to serve with distinction in other theatres of the Great War. She was present at the surrender of the German fleet in 1918, and was de-commissioned in 1928. * Historical photos courtesy Australian War Memorial, and Denise Mitchell. recognised in a Cocos Islands ceremony this weekend. The unveiling of two 1914 Indian Ocean battle. That was the day... Emden met its match! THE journey back to their homeland by the German shore party from the Emden has been described as one of the most daring suc- cessful war-time escapes of all time. After witnessing the destruction of their ship, the German shore party led by First Of- ficer Lieutenant Hellmuth von Mucke com- mandeered the 97-ton schooner Ayesha, owned by the Clunies-Ross family, loaded her with provisions from Direction Island, and set sail for the Dutch East Indies. They arrived at Padang six weeks later, escorted into port by a Dutch destroyer and allowed to stay only under strict conditions, as the Netherlands strived to maintain war- time neutrality. Fearing the Ayesha would be seized by Dutch authorities, von Mücke took the schooner back out to sea, setting course for a rendezvous point he had worked out with German merchant vessels that had been shel- tering at Padang. After the rendezvous with a German freighter, the Emden’s crew were delivered to Hodeida, arriving on January 8, and after discovering they were unable to travel over- land, acquired two dhows, sailing up the Red Sea to Jiddah, avoiding Royal Naval patrols to make it safely to shore, but having to fight local Bedouin tribesmen as they walked or rode camels across the Arabian Peninsula to Mecca. From here, von Mücke and his sailors used the Hejaz Railway to travel to Constan- tinople in Turkey, reported to German troops stationed there, then continued on to Berlin. The six-month, 12,000 kilometre adven- ture is said to be without parallel in modern naval history. During Sunday’s memorial service and unveiling ceremony on the Cocus (Freeling) Islands, relatives of a crew member from the Em- den will donate a lifebuoy from the Ayesha. JOE Kinniburgh had only been back in Australia a short time after World War One when he bought a soldier settlement block at Bird- woodton, near Merbein. He mar- ried, cleared his block and helped his neighbours do the same, in- cluding planting them up. It took a year or so before fruit would bear, so Joe spent that time at Red Cliffs, working with the famed Big Lizzie to clear thou- sands of acres of virgin scrub, and also cutting firewood for the steam pumps at Red Cliffs pumping sta- tion. Due to his Navy service, Joe was a skilled wire splicer, and worked on Lock 11, Mildura, along with his younger brother Stan. Joe’s job as a rigger was to erect flying foxes, with high wires being used to low- er heavy gear into place. Joe loved this work, decided to make it his future, and sold his fruit block to Tom Cupper. After his war wounds flared up, Joe was transferred to Caulfield Military hospital, where it was ini- tially feared he would lose a leg. He was treated for the next two years, with his family moving from Mil- dura to be with him. Doctors managed to save his leg, but by the time Joe was re- leased from hospital to live with his family at Black Rock, it was dur- ing the great depression, and jobs were scarce. Joe’s wife Lilla had to open a dressmaking business to survive the hard times. Joe helped out at the annual Sandringham carnival, getting to know the legendary Jimmy Shar- man and other ‘showies,’ including the owner of the merry-go-round, who had fishing boats at Queen- scliff, and he called on Joe to splice all his ropes. Joe was also a keen follower of Australian Rules football, and played for Sandringham seconds until the age of 36. At the start of the Second World War, Joe went to sign up with the Navy reserve, but was told he was too old. So he knocked a few years off his birth date and joined the Army, fighting with the 6th Divi- sion in Greece, Crete and Egypt be- fore being captured and spending the latter part of the war as a POW. For the rest of his life he was in and out of Heidelberg Repa- triation Hospital with what is now recognised as Post Traumatic Stress and Trauma, a legacy of the severe burns and other injuries he received in the HMAS Sydney-Em- den battle. Joe Kinniburgh died in hospi- tal in 1964, at the age of 69. 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