I've read your letter about count Dohna Schlodien on internet. To my side I try to write an article about the Möwe and specially her captain. I haven't find documentation about Dohna Schlodien after mars 1917. I have his book and a picture of him visiting Mont Notre Dame in France in june 1918 with Kaiser.
Let me start by saying that I have greatly enjoyed the "Mac's Web Log" site.
To introduce myself, I am 60 years of age and retired. In November 2003, I started research on Moewe and am planning a book on the ship. My website has a great deal of information, particularly on the ships encountered by Moewe.
As far as references covering the life of Count Dohna the news is bad as there is none. I have been researching the Count and Moewe for three years and collected everything that I have run across. There is nothing of any substance concerning the life of the Count. I have visited with the Count's two daughters, Margaret in Arizona and Marie in Bavaria. While they discussed the family is detail, they were both born after WWI and recounted little of events before the 1930s.
Also the German military archive in Freiburg provided some insights concerning Moewe but nothing about the Count. I plan to visit the German military archive in Berlin but do not hold any hope of an abundance of information concerning the Count.
Late in his life Count Dohna wrote memoirs. I have not had access to these writings. This spring I talked with Malcolm Cromarty, you have had email correspondence with him earlier this year. At that time he was trying to formulate plans to publish the memoirs. I have had no update on these plans since April.
That's all I have to report.
I would appreciate any comment you might have on my website: smsMoewe.com.
PS: I have noted two typos on the "Mac's Web Log" site:
On the page describing the voyage of the Seeadler there is a reference to Captain Bannister of the Lundy Island. The Captain of Lundy Island was David Barton; he also was captain of the Corbridge, sunk by Moewe.
On the page describing the Moewe is a reference to the old battleship King George VII which struck a mine set by Moewe. The battleship was HMS King Edward VII. (Correction made - TK)
Thank you very much for the ship number information.
The transcript of the oral diary of Donald Stewart is attached. He served on the Brecknockshire. The article was published in "The Loch a Tuath News" April 2005.
This is a local interest monthly magazine.
The Loch a Tuath News
The late Donald Stewart, 29 Coll (Domhnall a'Charagain)
Service during the First World War
The following is a slightly abridged account by the late Donald Stewart, 29 Coll (Domhnall a'Charagain) of his service during the First World War. It is taken from a tape, in Gaelic, recorded in 1979.
In the summer of 1914 I was 22 years old, and like a lot of other Lewismen, I was at the East Coast herring fishing. I was one of the crew of a sailing boat called the Uganda and we were fishing out of Fraserburgh. There were another three men from Coll and one from Vatisker in the crew.
On Sunday I went for a walk before dinner and was taken by surprise to see notices in shop windows and at the gutting yards asking all Royal Naval Reservists to report, at once, at the Custom House. After dinner I went to the Custom House, as I was in the Royal Naval Reservists, and was told to report at Portsmouth as soon as possible. Some left on the Sunday train but it was too full to take all of us. I left on Monday morning and, again, the train was full, a lot of the passengers being Lewis fishermen. In the compartment with me were five of my near neighbors. There were Alexander Munro, 25 Coll (Adaidh), John Macdonald, 27 Coll (lain Domhnaill 'An Mhoir- athar Bhunuit), Norman Stewart, 28 Coll (Tormoid Chaluim Ruaidh - Gionn), Murdo Maciver, 33 Coll (Bochan), Norman Maciver, 34 Coll (Tormoid Mhurchaidh Bhig - seanair Neill Sheumais), and I was from 26 Coll at the time. (Alexander, John and Norman (34) were all lost at sea. They were married men with young families). Things were very chaotic when we arried in Portsmouth. The call-up had, obviously, caught them unawares and they were having difficulties in coping with such a large influx of personnel. There was no adequate accommodation, not even enough hammocks for us all.
In a day or two they lined us all up and told one section they could go home and await further notice. I was not in that squad, but there was a further line up two days later, on August 13th, and one section was told to report to the sick bay for a check up as they were to be drafted somewhere. I was among that lot but we did not go very far as we were sent to a light cruiser that was acting as a guard ship off Southampton. There were 45 Lewismen aboard at that time. I was there from August 1914 until April 1915. In April I was sent to a Gunnery School on Whale Island. When we finished our training in June 1915, four of us were drafted to join a liner in Liverpool. There was an Englishman, a Shetlander, a man from Portskerra and myself. We arrived in Liverpool and saw the ship that we were going to join. It was a White Star Liner called the Olympic. I was told that it was a ship of 50,000 tons, had a crew of 1,000 and was able to take 10,000 passengers. The Portskerra man and I were put on a 4.7 inch gun af on the quarterdeck and the other two on a 12-pounder for'ard, this was an anti-submarine armament. We were in the Gladstone Dock for a few days with nothing much happening. After that soldiers started coming aboard but we had no idea what our destination was going to be. After leaving Liverpool we heard that it was the Dardanelles we were taking the troops. We landed them at an island called Lemnos and then called at Spezia in Italy to take on coal as we did not have enough to complete the return journey - we were using 1,000 tons of coal a day. We did four trips to the Dardanelles with troops, taking 10,000 on each trip.
When we got back to Liverpool after the fourth trip we were told that we were going on a different route the next time. It was across the Atlantic we went this time to take Canadian soldiers over from Halifax, Nova Scotia. I cannot remember the date we set off for Halifax but we made twelve trips across the Atlantic, taking about 10,000 soldiers every time. After the twelfth trip, towards the end of December 1916, the Olympic needed to go for a refit, so we left her in Belfast and went back to Liverpool. The guns that we were manning came across with us in the ship that took us from Belfast (I was asking about the Olympic after the war and was told that she continued trooping throughout the war and came safely through it all).
The Portskerra man and I were sent to another ship, along with our guns. Our new ship was a cargo ship of over 8000 tons called the Brecknockshire. She was on her maiden voyage carrying a cargo of coal to supply naval ships in the South Atlantic. We did not have any trouble till we were about 500 miles south of Fastnet Rock, off Southern Ireland, when we ran into a terrible storm. The Captain decided that the only thing to do was to put her head into the wind and were hove to for three days being buffeted to and fro. The crew were kept busy securing anything that was in danger of being blown away and we were called to help them secure a jumbo that was attached to the mast and had broken loose. After that we were ordered to go and give a hand to engineers who were carrying out repairs to the steering gear down aft. We were just to hand them tools as they asked for them and help in any way we could. The storm was still raging without any abatement, but we managed to get down aft. While we were there a lump of water surged through the door and I was thrown down the stairway headfirst, but somehow managed to put my arm out and I got wedged between the bulkhead and the handrail. I remained there until they managed to release me with crowbars. The other man had disappeared and found later jammed underneath a boat. We were fortunate that we were not swept overboard. After the storm abated, somewhat, we set off again. On the 15th February 1917, when we were near the tropics we noticed some smoke in the distance. As there was always the fear of German raiders the Captain gave the order to get up as much steam as possible. It turned out to be the German raider Moewe which was much faster than we were and heavily armed. She soon caught up with us and started firing when she got within range. The first volley passed our bows but the next one hit us. In the end the Brecknockshire was so badly damaged that she could not carry on. Before she sank I went down to our cabin and picked up a Gaelic Testament that was lying on the bed and put it in my pocket. That was the only bit of my belongings that saved. Several of our crew were killed and before the ship sank the Germans sent a boat over to take the survivors aboard the Moewe.
When we got aboard we saw that there were 7 or 8 other survivors there. They were the crew of a schooner that was coming from South Georgia with a cargo of whale oil and had been sunk by the raider. If my memory serves me correctly we were at 25 degrees south at the time. During the time that I was in the raider it sank 12 British ships. I don't remember the names of all of them now but one called the Otaki had 6 inch guns on her and she put up quite a fight. A shell from her came through to where we were and several of the Germans were killed. I don't need to go into details about these encounters but you can imagine our emotions. On the one hand we wanted the Germans defeated yet we knew that if the ship was to go down we would go with her, as there was no way we could escape from where we had been imprisoned. We were kept in the after hold and battened before every encounter. She now continued North our conditions on board were getting worse all the time. There were over 300 prisoners aboard and with there own crew meant that there were between 500 and 600 altogether. They knew that the Royal Navy was on the lookout for them and they did not want to leave any clues, which would give a hint of their whereabouts. As we continued up North conditions on board were getting worse all the time. In the end we were nearly starving as the food consisted, mainly, of watery soup. I cannot blame the Germans too much as I think they were running out of provisions. She continued up North, between Greenland and Iceland over to the North Cape in Norway and down territorial waters until she arrived at Kiel, on the 22nd of March 1917. We were in a bad way when we got there. The lack of food, fresh air and hygiene had all taken their toll. The Portskerra man collapsed before we got ashore. He was a big strapping man of about 13 or 14 stones but had gone to less than 10 stones. However, he made a good recovery once he got better food and fresh air.
After spending a week in Kiel we were sent to a camp in a small town called Dolan in South Germany. We were there for another week. It was a transit camp where we were cleaned and bathed and given better food before deciding where to send us next. After the week was up we were on the move again. This time to a camp near Brandenburg. There was some work going on at the River Havel and we were sent to work there. While there I came across the only Lewismen I was to meet all the time that I was in Germany. He was a lad from Point that I knew at the fishing. I only spoke to him briefly as he was on his way elsewhere. We were in Brandenburg for a while and then we were sent to Lubeck up on the Baltic Sea. We were doing similar work there to what we had been doing in Brandenburg only this time we were working at a quay. All this time we were not getting any news of the war. The letters from home were censored and the Germans never gave us any information. We noticed towards the end of the war (although we did not know that at the time) that the guards were getting friendlier towards us.
We were then sent to another camp near Gustrow and when we got there we heard rumors that the Germans had been defeated and that the war was coming to an end. In a day or two after arriving in Gustrow we heard officially that the war was over and that we were being sent home. We were then taken to Warrenmunde and boarded a ship that took us to Aarhus in Denmark. As there was no ship available there we were sent to a camp in Viborg, which is quite a distance inland. When a ship did arrive we were taken back to Aarhus where we boarded and sailed to Leith. After a few days delay in Leith I was allowed home. Two weeks after arriving at home I got word to report to Stornoway where I was medically examined and given my demob papers.
I am now 87 years of age and God has been good to me all these years. I should be thankful to Him for taking me safely through many dangers along the way.
That, then, is a short account of my life between 1914 and 1918.