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The Search for von Luckner

On the evening of 13 December 1917, eleven German prisoners of war under the leadership of Commander von Luckner, lately in command of the raider SEEADLER, made their escape from MOTUIHE ISLAND in a motor launch named PEARL attached to the island. From the launch they transferred to the sailing scow MOA which they seized in the BAY OF PLENTY, and in which they left the New Zealand coast, with the New Zealand crew as their prisoners.

Nordenfelt 6-pr

One of the QF 6-pr Nordenfelt guns originally mounted at Summit Battery, dismounted in 1917, and mounted on HMCS Iris for the pursuit of von Luckner, the work being done by RNZA. The Gunner at the breech is Gunner G. Strude RNZA. Unfortunately the identity of the other Gunner is not known. Both Nordenfelt and Hotchkiss 6-prs performed equally well and were both adopted c. 1881. QF 6-prs were sited on the flanks of heavy batteries to combat motor torpedo boats.

What follows is a copy of a diary of events kept by the late Mr HL Dixon of Browns Bay, then a young Territorial Gunner in the NZ Garrison Artillery. It covers the period from 15 December 1917 to 25 December 1917, and describes the preparation for action of the cable ship HMCS IRIS, the pursuit and capture of Count von Luckner and his fellow escapees.

The detachment ordered aboard the IRIS was a mixed one, comprising members of the NZ Garrison Artillery (Territorial) and the Royal NZ Artillery (Regular). The latter manned the two Nordenfelt 6-pounder guns taken aboard at the EL (Electric Light) Yard, North Head.

The keeping of diaries by troops during hostilities having been forbidden, Mr Dixon, in typical Digger fashion, concealed his work in the butt-trap of his rifle in the space normally reserved for the oil bottle. The latter he kept in his pocket.

There is also a brief account by Carl Singer of the MOA of life aboard that ship after the Germans captured it.

The Search for Count von Luckner by HL Dixon
Life as von Luckner's Prisoner by C Singer

Names of Germans involved:
Cdr Felix von Luckner, Captain of SEEADLER
Albrecht von Egidy, plantation owner SAMOA
Hermann Erdmann, AB SEEADLER
and Naval Cadets ELSASS:
Albert P?, Ernest Kloh, Walter Schmidt, Fritz Mellert, Walter von Zatoroki

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