Gravestone of the “Sea Devil” Count Felix Luckner
Here is some more about Count Felix von Luckner, it came to me in German, and Amelia
The gravestone on the grave of the “sea devil” Count Felix Luckner is found only a few paces away from the bust on the grave of the actor Harry Gorki.
His ship, the “S.M. Hilfskreuzer Seeadler” (or “S.M. secondary/assistant cruiser Sea Eagle”) is depicted in the upper part of the gravestone. Unfortunately, due to the moss that has grown on the stone tablet, the ship is very difficult to see and the gravestone is rather unnoticeable (March 2003).
Much has been written about the well-known sea hero of the first world war.
At the outbreak of the first world war, the officer of the Hamburg-America line became (senior) lieutenant on the line ship “Crown Prince”. He took part in the Skagerrak sea battle on this ship.
After that, Luckner became Captain of the captured “Sea Eagle”. Before capture, this ship was a steel three master, but it was modified to a secondary (i.e. assistant) cruiser. In this ship, Luckner carried on the “privateer war”.
On the 3rd of December 1916, the “Sea Eagle” was employed in service as an assistant cruiser.
He captured 23 ships (of those, he sank 14) with around 40 000 BRT (“BRT” = “Brutto-Register-Tonnen” = “gross register tons”).
(According to sources, different statements about this figure are always made.)
Then Luckner’s ship ran ashore in August 1917 on a coral reef of the island Mopelia in the South Sea. He and his crew became prisoners of war in New Zealand.
The astounding thing is: only a single enemy sea man lost his life during Luckner’s war campaign.
On the 3rd of March 1917 at 1500 hours, the “Sea Eagle” sighted the cargo steamer (freighter) “Horngarth” from Cardiff in the South Atlantic. The “Horngarth” only stopped after some bombardment by the “Sea Eagle”. The fourth grenade shattered a steampipe and scalded four men of the engine personnel. One of these men died the next day from the scalding.
At the end of the first world war, Luckner went to the German Empire’s naval school in Flensburg-Mürwig. He commanded the sail training ship “Niobe”.
In 1922 or 1923 he left the navy and he held lectures and spoke about his adventures at sea.
His book “Sea Devil, adventure of my life” (1921) made him particularly famous.
However, it is said that the book contains some “Seemansgarn” (= “sea man’s yarns”) and he may not have been the only author of the book (only a sixth of the book is supposed to have been written by him…).
From 1940 to 1945, he lived with his wife in his mother’s house in Halle.
He must have been a courageous man, for he negotiated with the Americans in mid April 1945 and supported by Dr. Weins, suggested to Major Huhold that the city of Halle should surrender without fighting, therefore escaping the destruction of Halle through air attacks.
Because of this, Luckner was condemned to death by the German (Reichregierung) Government. However, upon hearing this the American 104th Infantry Division “Timberwolves” appointed him to the rank of “Ehrenoberst”, meaning “Honorary Colonel”…
Luckner was born in Dresden on the 9th of June 1881 and died on the 13th of April 1966 in Malmö.
In my old stone house from 1923, the 9th of June 1884 is given as his birthdate; however, this seems to be wrong.
Just as exciting is the previous story/history of the 1600t large American ship, the “Pass of Balmaha”.
The “Pass of Balmaha”, commissioned in 1878, was intercepted by a British cruiser on the journey to Murmansk in July 1915.
It was boarded by a prize crew, comprising one officer and six soldiers, from the British cruiser. The captured “Pass of Balmaha” was to be brought to Great Britain to undergo an inspection.
However, they were stopped on the 24th of July 1915 by a German U-Boat U36.
The USA was admittedly at this point in time still neutral. However, the ship’s papers showed that at the war’s beginning, she was British property.
For safety reasons, half of the British Prize Crew hid themselves in the Pass of Balmaha’s loading room.
The German Prize Crew was considerably smaller – it consisted of only one (coxswain) mate. He sailed the ship to Cuxhaven for an inspection of the cargo.
Only there did they discover, to their huge surprise, the 7 unharmed British soldiers hidden in the loading room!
The Pass of Balmaha was built as an assistant (secondary) cruiser. Apart from that, she was also fitted with a very strong 1000 horsepower diesel motor and was fitted out like a Norwegian ship, including photos on the wall and the private mail of the crew. Also, most of the 64 members of the (war) crew spoke the Norwegian language.
The first officer of the Sea Eagle was Sea Lieutenant Kling. He had the idea to turn the Sea Eagle into a secondary cruiser, and implemented and oversaw the modification works.
Source: “Deutsche Seestreitkräfte in Erfahrungsberichten, Seeteufel und Skagerrak”, published by Verlagsunion Pabel Moewig KG, Rastatt, no publishing date or year.