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The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are an Australian territory (since 19550 situated in the Indian Ocean 2768 km north-west of Perth, and only 400 km south of Indionesia. West Island, or Pulo Panjang, is the main island of twenty-seven small coral islands, with a total area of only fourteen square kilometres. Only two islands in the group are inhabited, with a total population of eight hundred. The islands are the quintessential tropical paradise, with palm fringed beaches and uninhabited cays. The islands were discovered in 1609 by Captain William Keeling of the East India Company, but they remained uninhabited until John Clunies Ross took his family there in 1827. The islands remained under the rule of the Clunies-Ross family until 1975 when the Australian Government "reclaimed" them and appointed a new administrator. The islands played an important role in the capture of the famous German cruiser Emden in 1914, during World War 1. A landing party from the Emden attempted to destroy the wireless station on Direction Island; the Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney heard a message of distress from the island, sped to the scene, and attacked the German raider. The rest is history. Other than the two vessels listed below, there appears to be no record of any other vessels being lost in the islands.

Although the Sydney-Emden encounter has been recorded in the official war history, and other popular accounts, the only reference listed here is that from Loney [LAH].
[3 records]


Aeon. Steamship, 4221 tons. Built 1898. Howard Smith & Co. Wrecked on Christmas Island, Pacific Ocean, July 1908. [DG]
There is a Christmas Island in both the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Buresk. Steel steamship, collier, 4337 tons. She was loaded with coal for the British fleet stationed at Hong Kong when captured by the German cruiser Emden, off Cocos-Keeling Islands, 27 September 1914. A prize crew was placed on board. She was then chased by HMAS Sydney after the latter had disposed of the Emden, the crew of the Buresk scuttling her. The crew were taken on board HMAS Sydney. [LAH]

Emden. German cruiser, 3650 tons. Built 1908. Length of 395 feet and beam of 43.3 feet.  Main armament ten 4.1 inch guns.  Speed 24.5 knots.  Crew 321. Operated as a raider in the Indoan Ocean early in the First World War, and captured or destroyed thenty-three ships. On 9 November 1914, she was located off the Cocos-Keeling Islands by HMAS Sydney. The first two salvos were damaging hits on the Sydney, however she quickly found her range and pounded the Emden, purting her on a reef, blazing and helpless; the torrid gun battle put the German cruiser aground on North Keeling. In the engagement, the Emden lost eight officers and 126 men, whilst the Sydney lost four. Her loss  put quite a damper on German intentions in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.  The Emden had been the scourge of the Indian Ocean during World War 1, sinking many thousands of tons of allied shipping. Her sinking was a significant victory for Australia and the allies. Over the past few years there have been expeditions to visit the Emden site. [LAH],[LH]
@ The wreck is well scattered in shallow water and despite its historic value, is not a particularly good dive. It is rarely visited as it is in the Northern Keeling Island,  24 km from the inhabited southern islands.

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