Seeking Sydney and Emden descendants


May 30, 2013

Lionel lall7702@bigpond.net.au

Dear Mac.

I have over the years looked at your web site based on my long term interest in the history of the Cocos Keeling Islands.

More recently involvement in proposed commemorative services on the Cocos Keeling Islands related to the 9th Nov 1914 demise of the German SMS Emden by HMAS Sydney.

In Feb 2010 I approached the Hon Brian Lacy as then the Administrator of both the Cocos and Christmas Islands to have proposed these services placed on an official footing.

(Part then was to chase up the list of crew members of the Sydney stemming from an inquiry in the UK from a lady seeking information of her uncle who was a crew member.  Briefly over half the officers on the Sydney, as was Captain Glossop plus some 150 English crew members were on loan to the Australian Navy and so I now have a complete list which I have subsequently distributed including naval archives in Canberra).

However an odd situation has arisen and in this respect you may be able to offer help or guidance.

Briefly I thought it would be difficult to contact dependants of the Emden and this would not be the case with those of the Sydney. The reverse has been the situation.

This is because there is a strong group in Germany known as the Emden Family and the nominated head is one Henning Bess a retired Rear Admiral. (He has subsequently been a guest in our home in Perth and on Cocos based on a UK film Group Fact Not Fiction Films were travelling to Cocos towards the compiling of 2 films. One on Remote Airfields and the other related to the 1914 episode of the Sydney/Emden affair).

I could add that as a result of contacting Brian Lacy funds were raised for a part time (1 day a week) co-coordinator of the project.

That has not really brought the results I had hoped for not helped as “we” are now into the 3rd person in that position. This will have a glitch too as this person is the wife of an Air Force Officer on Cocos and so she will leave about February next year so all the continuity is lost.

Even so she is proving to be very industrious.

I have subsequently placed a submission towards the 2015 Gallipoli services with such things as contacting a cruise company pointing out a trip they will make to the middle east and then Gallipoli in April 2015 did not mention Cocos and that has led to them asking if they could enter the small port on Cocos but as that is ruled out they will have lectures on board and possibly circumnavigate the twin atolls on the outward trip. 

In summary it has been very easy to contact descendants of the Emden but not that of the Sydney.

Time is flying by and main reason for getting things onto an official footing 3 years ago. In my early submission I sought to seek a visit to Cocos by the present Emden and the Sydney.

This is most unlikely. The present Emden is about to be decommissioned and various things such as cost, availability etc etc makes only a remote chance a RAN vessel will attend. I had hoped funds could be raised to have some of the  Sydney and Emden descendants attend... but ....!

I would seek to have this matter brought to a many of the Sydney descendants as possible but having more recently tried to do this has not been in the least successful.

Any suggestions/help greatly appreciated.


See this URL :  Victorian Division of the HMAS Sydnrey Association 


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