Capt Stanley H Owen

RNR

Encounter with SMS Konigsberg - 1914

In April 1914, Konisberg was sent on what was to have been a two-year deployment to German East Africa (now Tanzania), but this was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I in August of that year.

Königsberg initially attempted to raid British and French commercial traffic in the region, but only destroyed one merchant ship in the course of her career. Coal shortages hampered her ability to attack shipping.

On 20 September 1914, she surprised and sank the British protected cruiser HMS Pegasus in the Battle of Zanzibar. She then retreated into the Rufiji River to repair her engines. Before the repairs could be completed, British cruisers located Königsberg, and, unable to steam into the river to destroy her, set up a blockade. After several attempts to sink the ship, the British sent two monitors, Mersey and Severn, to destroy the German cruiser. On 11 July 1915, the two monitors got close enough to severely damage Königsberg, forcing her crew to scuttle the ship. The surviving crew salvaged all ten of her main guns and joined Lieutenant Colonel Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck's guerrilla campaign. The rusting remains of the wreck disappeared into the river bed in 1966.

The wreck lay in the river for fifty years and finally disappeared into the mud in 1965. Her story prompted C.S. Forrester to write the novel ‘The African Queen’ which was later rewritten into the film script we all know so well. The story was also turned into another novel ’Shout at the Devil’ that also became a film.

It is during that period that she would have encountered Dunvegan Castle. Contrary to what would have happened in WW2 the German Navy at that time were far more humane and did not sink passenger ships provided that were not carrying armaments or troops.

In August 1914 a very similar incident occurred when the Union-Castle liner Galician encountered the German raider Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse.  

The full story of that incident can be found here: Galician

Galician strongly suspect that Königsberg stopped and searched Dunvegan Castle and having found neither troops nor armaments allowed her to continue her passage.

“ We, the undersigned, representing the passengers of the DUNVEGAN CASTLE, wish to place on record our high appreciation of the careful navigation of the ship made by her Commander and officers throughout a passage made under conditions of exceptional difficulty and strain, and to congratulate them on its safe completion.”

To Commander S.H. Owen"

SMS Konigsberg on station in East Africa

On his retiredment in 1929 Commander Owen was presented with a framed and inscribed photograph of him in command of Arundel Castle

The inscription read:


PRESENTED TO COMMANDER STANLEY H OWEN

RMS ARUNDEL CASTLE

9TH DECEMBER 1929

FROM

THE STEWARDS SOCIAL & ATHLETIC CLUB

Service Record

From

To

Kinfauns Castle

2nd Officer

1900

9/1901

Walmer Castle

Chief Officer

10/1903

3/1904

Sabine

Master

9/1908

5/1910

Berwick Castle

Master

5/1910

12/1910

Braemar Castle

Master

4/1911

6/1911

Goth

Master

6/1911

9/1911

Guelph

Master

11/1911

1/1912

Dunvegan Castle

Master

1/1912

4/1912

Goth

Master

5/1912

9/1913

Gloucester Castle

Master

9/1913

10/1913

Garth Castle

Master

12/1913

7/1914

Carisbrook Castle

Master

8/1914

9/1914

Dunvegan Castle

Master

9/1914

9/1915

Carisbrook Castle

Master

10/1915

7/1916

Dunvegan Castle

Master

8/1916

10/1918

Goorkha

Master

3/1919

4/1919

Glengorm Castle

Master

4/1919

5/1920

Gloucester Castle

Master

10/1920

3/1921

Goorkha

Master

6/1921

11/1922

Dunluce Castle

Master

1/1923

7/1924

Llanstephan Castle

Master

9/1924

12/1924

Saxon

Master

1/1925

9/1925

Llandovery Castle

Master

10/1925

4/1926

Kenilworth Castle

Master

5/1926

7/1926

Saxon

Master

8/1926

10/1926

Armadale Castle

Master

10/1926

2/1927

Walmer Castle

Master

3/1927

7/1927

Edinburgh Castle

Master

7/1927

6/1928

Balmoral Castle

Master

6/1928

8/1928

Arundel Castle

Master

10/1928

12/1929

Retired

12/1929


Died

1935

Aged 70

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