Remembrance Day Posters 2014

Remembrance Day Poster 2014

The 2014 Remembrance Day poster features an artwork titled First convoy at sea, depicting the convoy of ships that sailed from Albany in Western Australia on 1 November 1914 carrying 30,000 men and 8000 horses overseas for service in the First World War. En route, HMAS Sydney destroyed the German raider SMS Emden, ensuring the convoy’s safe passage through the Indian Ocean. AWM ART00190

Series: Remembrance Day posters
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Wartime snapshot

The convoy was escorted by HMAS Melbourne, HMAS Sydney, HMS Minotaur and the Japanese battle cruiser HIJMS Ibuki, and included some thirty-eight transport vessels. The ships assembled in King George Sound in late October, loaded with men and horses of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF). Among the ships was the Orient liner Orvieto, which carried AIF commander, Major General William Bridges, and the newly-appointed official war correspondent, Charles Bean.

The convoy took on coal and water in preparation for the journey, then sailed from Albany on the morning of 1 November bound for the Suez Canal. By the time the convoy had formed up outside the harbour, it reached seven and a half miles (12 kilometres) in length.

'In no other port of the Commonwealth were the ships seen together … in the full magnificence of their numerical strength.'

The Advertiser. (1914, November 21). Albany Advertiser (WA : 1897 – 1950), p. 2. Retrieved September 10, 2014, from

It was expected that the convoy would take fourteen days to cross the Indian Ocean, but many were worried about the threat posed by the German raider SMS Emden. In a space of just six weeks the Emden, under the command of Captain Karl von Müller, had destroyed oil tanks at Madras and captured and sunk some twenty vessels, including the Russian light cruiser Zerntchung and the French torpedo-boat destroyer Mosquet. On the morning of 9 November, the convoy was near the Cocos (Keeling) Islands when it intercepted distress signals indicating that an enemy warship was approaching. HMAS Sydney, under the command of Captain John Glossop, went to investigate and sighted the Emden close to the islands.

The Sydney was faster than the Emden, and better armed, but Müller began with rapid and accurate long-range fire in the hope of inflicting damage quickly. The Emden scored hits on Sydney's control platform and range finder, causing casualties among the crew, but Sydney immediately retaliated and within forty minutes the Emden was riddled with holes and burning fiercely, with some 130 casualties.

Müller realised his ship was at Sydney's mercy, and he ran the Emden aground on the reef at North Keeling Island to save the remainder of his crew. The Sydney chased the Emden's collier, SS Buresk, which had appeared during the action, but the crew scuttled the ship before it could be seized. The Sydney then returned to the Emden and signalled to Müller to lower the ship's ensign, to concede defeat. A confused exchange followed and the Sydney again fired its guns at the wreck. Finally the ensign was struck, bringing an end to Australia's first decisive naval engagement.

The destruction of the Emden ensured safe passage through the Indian Ocean for the convoy, which reached Egypt safely on 3 December, 1914.


  1. Richard Pelvin, Australians in World War I – Royal Australian Navy, Department of Veterans' Affairs publication, 2010.
  2. Roger Cunnington, Albany's A.N.Z.A.C. Convoys, Digger Press, Western Australia, 2014.
  3. Campbell, W. H. and Sands, A. G. The Australian and New Zealand expeditionary forces: assemblage at and departure from Albany/photographs by W.H. Campbell and A.G. Sands W.F. Forster & Co Albany, Western Australia, 1915
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