Purpose of this blog

Dmitry Yudo aka Overlord, jack of all trades
David Lister aka Listy, Freelancer and Volunteer

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Fido Tweet Meow

Part one

On the 22nd of December HMS Mimi and Toutou were launched, and on the 26th they saw their first action with the third German vessel the Kingani which was a 45 ton steamship armed with a six pounder gun. Like the two Royal Navy ships she could only fire forwards. She had been ordered to conduct a reconnaissance on the Belgian side of the lake, to see what the Belgian's were up too. HMS Mimi and HMS Toutou were launched to intercept her. By lucky chance the Kingani sailed past the Royal Navy boats, so they had cut her off from her base. At first Kingani mistook the two motorboats heading towards her as not Belgian, and thus not a threat. Then she spotted the White Ensigns. Turning as tightly as she could to bring her forward gun to bear, the British launches easily evaded the first German shots, and closed to firing distance opening fire about midday. A swirling dogfight on the surface of the lake then ensued, the British quickly realised that Kingani had no rear facing guns and tried to attack from that direction. Eventually a three pounder round hit the gun shield on Kingani and killed three crew including the captain. Several more shell strikes followed, and the German crew struck their colours. In their haste to capture the Kingani HMS Mimi accidentally rammed Kingani at full speed. The damage nearly sunk Mimi, but she managed to ground herself.  Kingani was then escorted to port.
Kingani was repaired and renamed HMS Fifi (Tweet-Tweet in French...), and her six pounder was mounted in the stern while the shore battery loaned the navy a twelve pounder to go on the front of the boat. HMS Mimi was also salvaged and repaired.

On 9th of February 1916 the Hedwig von Wissmann was spotted making a reconnaissance run. HMS Fifi and Mimi were launched to intercept her. Spotting the oncoming boats the Hedwig von Wissmann turned to fight, then seemed to think better of it, and turned away, maybe to lure them towards the Goetzen. HMS Fifi and the Hedwig von Wissmann were evenly matched for speed (the Hedwig von Wissmann had a 1 knot advantage), however HMS Mimi was faster than both, she roared ahead and began to harry the Hedwig von Wissmann.

Whenever the German tried to turn to bring its main gun to bear HMS Mimi used her speed to keep in the Hedwig von Wissmann's rear arc and thus safety. But every time the German boat tried to turn to attack its harasser HMS Fifi gained some ground, until finally after three hours, the German was within range. The recoil from the first shot of the Fifi's gun brought her to  a standstill. The shell flew wide, the sunlight  reflecting on the lake caused an odd shimmer effect, which meant aiming was difficult. Every time the Fifi fired its shell went wide. Then the 12 pounder gun jammed. A frantic 20 minutes followed as the Hedwig von Wissmann began to pull away, the the gun was cleared. In the shell locker only two rounds remained.
HMS Fifi
The twelve pounder belched flame and the Hedwig von Wissmann shuddered as the round smashed the Germans hull and started her flooding. Then the final shell arrived, smashing the boiler and setting fire to the Hedwig von Wissmann. The German captain immediately ordered the setting of scuttling charges and ordered the ship to be abandoned. The survivors were picked up by the British boats.
Short 827, three of which were used by the Belgians
Although the Graf von Goetzen still remained at large, the situation had changed. Unbeknownst to the allies the Goetzen had most of its guns removed and replaced by wooden fakes, as the guns were needed by German land forces. For that reason the Goetzen didn't try any offensive actions, and the allies wary of the immense fire-power they thought the German carried were somewhat hesitant to be aggressive. The Belgian forces tried an air raid against the Goetzen, although results were inconclusive. However the land situation began to grow steadily worse for the Germans. Eventually the Goetzen's home port was abandoned, and the Goetzen was ordered to be scuttled. However the three shipwrights given the job had been the three men who had overseen her reconstruction in 1915, and they decided amongst themselves to try and enable her to be recovered. So with great care they prepared the ship, covering the engines in grease, before scuttling her. She was recovered in 1918, and has since then served as a passenger ship, often transporting refugees in that war torn part of the world. Today she still sails as the MV Liemba.

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