13/12/1917 Motuihe jailbreak: a German pirate busts loose #1917Live

In August German raider the Seeadler was accidentally wrecked in the Pacific. Shortly afterwards its captain and crew found themselves prisoners of war on the New Zealand island of Motuihe.

Luckner, the Seeadler‘s former captain, is not content to spend the rest of the war behind barbed wire. Using an amateur dramatic production as cover he leads an escape by his fellow sailors. Seizing a small boat and a machine gun from their guards, the Seeadler‘s crew head off towards the Kermadec Islands, where they hope to steal a larger vessel. Then Luckner will be able to resume his predation on Allied shipping.

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Felix von Luckner (left), prior to his escape (Motuihe Island Restoration Trust: Count Von Luckner)

21/9/1917 The Seeadler’s captain captured #1917Live

The Seeadler, a German raiding ship, has preyed on Allied shipping in the Atlantic and Pacific before being accidentally wrecked on the island of Mopelia in the Society Islands. Felix von Luckner, the Seeadler‘s captain is however determined to continue his war. He leaves Mopelia with five of his men in an open boat, hoping to capture a ship that he can use to continue his raiding.

Pretending to be Norwegians crossing the Pacific for a bet, Luckner is able to obtain supplies from the New Zealand authorities on the island of Atiu. He travels on to the Fijian island of Wakaya (a journey of some 3,700 kilometres in an open boat) but here his luck runs out as the local police see through his Norwegian-sailor ruse. Luckner and his men are arrested and sent off to New Zealand as prisoners-of-war.

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1919 image of Felix von Luckner (Ahoy – Mac’s Web Log: Marauders of the Sea, German Armed Merchant Raiders During World War I)

Mopelia (Maupiha’a), Fiji and New Zealand (Badass of the Week: Felix von Luckner)

2/8/1917 Disaster strikes the “Seeadler” #1917Live

The Seeadler is a German raider that has been preying on Allied shipping since it set sail in December disguised a Danish trader. Initially this three-masted sailing ship operated in the Atlantic but since April it has been prowling in the Pacific. The Allies are frustrated by the Seeadler‘s depredations and have sent warships to hunt it down, but to no avail. The Pacific is a big ocean and Luckner, the Seeadler‘s captain is adept at hiding in it.

But the sea has other dangers than enemy warships. After its long time at sea, Luckner brings the Seeadler to the lagoon of Mopelia, an isolated coral atoll, so that essential repairs can be carried out. Then unexpected disaster strikes. The ship is somehow wrecked against the island’s reef, perhaps (as Luckner will report) by a tsunami. The crew and their prisoners are able to escape to the island, carrying provisions and some equipment with them, but now Luckner and his men are marooned.

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The Seeadler‘s journey and locations of ships engaged (Wikipedia)

The wreck of the Seeadler (Naval History Homepage)

14/6/1917 The Seeadler claims its first American victim

German raiding ship the Seeadler has sailed from the Atlantic into the Pacific. In the heart of the sea the windjammer is somewhat cut off from events in the wider world, so its captain, Felix von Luckner, has only just learned that the United States has entered the war against Germany. The news does not dismay him for it greatly increases the number of enemy merchant ships he can attack. Today he sinks his first American ship, the A. B. Johnson. He hopes it will not be the last.

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The Seeadler, by Christopher Rave (Wikipedia)

18/4/1917 The Seeadler makes its way into the Pacific

German raider the Seeadler has been prowling in the Atlantic, attacking Allied merchant ships. The British have had enough of this impertinent ship and have despatched their own warships to hunt it down. But the Seeadler is caught by a storm which blows it far to the south. From here its captain, Felix von Luckner, decides to make his way round Cape Horn and into the Pacific. Thus he leaves behind his pursuers and prepares to prey upon the bountiful shipping of the world’s largest ocean.

image source: The Seeadler (Ahoy – Mac’s Web Log)

20/3/1917 The Seeadler disposes of its prisoners

Felix von Luckner commands the Seeadler, a German raiding ship disguised as Norwegian merchantman. The sailing ship is now operating in the South Atlantic and has had great success in its operations against Allied shipping. In fact she has had so much success that she is now burdened with several hundred prisoners.

Keeping these prisoners under control is becoming a bit troublesome, so Luckner decides to get rid of them. Fortunately for them, Luckner is fighting the war as a gentleman, so there is no question of the prisoners being murdered or left to die. Instead he strips some of the sails and any radio equipment from a captured French barque, the Cambronne. His 300 prisoners are put abroad this vessel and left to navigate their own way to safety. With their reduced sails, Luckner knows that the Seeadler will be well out of harm’s way by the time they make contact with the Allies.

But there are danger clouds on the horizon for Luckner. The British are irked at this ship that is challenging their dominance of the seas. Now they set a trap for him, sending armed merchant steamers to offer themselves for his attentions, hoping that their guns will be able to sink the Seeadler before Luckner realises his danger.

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The Seeadler (Linger and Look)

19/2/1917 The Seeadler’s captain renews an old acquaintance

Germany hopes to win the war by strangling British trade with its U-boats, forcing the island nation to sue for peace. But submarines are not the only vessels with which the German navy is attacking enemy commerce. Surface raiders continue to operate against the enemy, albeit with great difficulty given the British naval dominance of the high seas.

One German raider is the Seeadler (the Sea Eagle). Like something from a bygone era, this is a three-masted windjammer (also equipped with an engine) that is preying on Allied shipping in the Atlantic after slipping past the British blockade disguised as a Norwegian trader.

Today the Seeadler captures a British merchantman in the South Atlantic, the Pinmore. For the Seeadler‘s captain, Felix von Luckner, this makes for an ironic coincidence. In his civilian dayshe had worked on the Pinmore, when he was just a lad of 17. Now this old ship’s crew are his prisoners.

image sources:

Felix von Luckner (Wikipedia; this may be from before he sailed with the Seeadler)

The Pinmore (Shipping Wonders of the World)