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The exploits of the Emden

The German battle cruiser Emden opened fire on the Australian cruiser Sydney off the Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean on November 9, 1914. The Sydney was then escorting the first convoy of Australian and New Zealand troops to the front. With her more powerful guns, the Sydney damaged the German vessel and drove ashore. This naval battle was recorded in a 1928 film, The Exploits of the Emden, based on an earlier German production. These extracts show New Zealand and Australian troops preparing to join the troop convoy in their own countries.

Year:1914 (film production 1928)

Location:Sydney (Australia)

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The exploits of the Emden

The German battle cruiser Emden opened fire on the Australian cruiser Sydney off the Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean on November 9, 1914. The Sydney was then escorting the first convoy of Australian and New Zealand troops to the front. With her more powerful guns, the Sydney damaged the German vessel and drove ashore. This naval battle was recorded in a 1928 film, The Exploits of the Emden, based on an earlier German production. These extracts show New Zealand and Australian troops preparing to join the troop convoy in their own countries.


Year: 1914 (film production 1928)

Length: 04:56

Production Company: First National Pictures

Credits: Directed by Ken G Hall

Source: National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

Catalogue Reference: NFSA title: 6979


Location: Sydney (Australia)

Tags: Australia, Ken G Hall, documentary, Emden, parades, Australia, New Zealand

Subject: documentary, Sydney-Emden naval battle


The film is a combination of documentary and dramatised incidents describing the Sydney-Emden naval battle. It is dedicated to "the heroes - both German and British - who fought that memorable engagement off Cocos Island on the morning of Monday November 9th 1914".

A German film describing the naval battle, 'Unsere Emden' (1926), was purchased for Australian release by First National Pictures. Feeling that the German portrayal of battle scenes and Australia’s part in the Sydney-Emden conflict would be unacceptable to Australian audiences, First National assigned its publicity director, Ken G. Hall, to shoot additional footage, produce, script and edit replacement sequences. With the assistance of two newsreel cameramen, Hall filmed the crew of the Sydney undergoing naval exercises at Jervis Bay, New South Wales. Hall was then able to utilise his skills as a publicist to successfully launch the completed film. It did well from its release on 21 September 1928, also impressing critics as a glowing tribute to Australian naval strength. Some nitrate damage is visible.

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The exploits of the Emden

  • Sydney (Australia), Auckland (New Zealand)

  • 0:00

    Intertitle: The roll of the drums of war echoed through the great British Empire. Canada, Africa, India….and away in the south, Australia and New Zealand, too, heard the Motherland’s call

  • 0:17

    Intertitle: WAR 1914 – 1917

  • 0:22

    Intertitle: To arms sons of the Southland! To arms lovers of peace – but not of peace at any price

  • 0:34

    Intertitle: And the call was answered by the flower of the young nation’s manhood

  • 0:44

    Men in civilian clothes marching. Brass band marching. Crowds watching

  • 1:21

    Intertitle: The First Australian Conmtingent leaves for the “grand picnic” that wore into the greatest tragedy the world has ever known

  • 1:36

    Large columns of New Zealand soldiers marching in city street with crowds watching

  • 1:45

    Australian soldiers marching with crowds watching

  • 1:54

    Large columns of New Zealand soldiers marching in city street with crowds watching

  • 2:04

    Crowds following the marching soldiers

  • 2:10

    Soldiers wearing pith helmets on troop ship farewelling people on dock

  • 2:31

    Intertitle: New Zealanders passing through the streets of Auckland

  • 2:37

    New Zealand soldiers marching in city street in the rain

  • 3:02

    Intertitle: The boys in blue – life’s blood of the Silent Service – the Navy!

  • 3:09

    Navy troops with brass band march in city street. Crowds watch

  • 3:13

    Intertitle: It was the young Australian Navy that kept those far shores free from the attentions of the enemy raiders during the early period of the war