Wrecks and Relics
relics of the Königsberg incident are still scattered around East
Africa and elsewhere in the world. Some are in private homes, some are in
museums, and yet others rest out in various land and ocean wilderness areas,
open for inspection to those who care to venture there. Below is a list of
known items and sites, which will be expanded as more discoveries are made.
Wrecks and Sites
SMS Königsberg: The wreck of
Königsberg remained at the site of her sinking in the Rufiji River
Delta. It was in a remote location and after the war was only visited by the
most determined travellers. By 1950 the ship had slid onto her side in the deep
mud of the delta, and the last photo of any above-water portion was taken in
1965, when only a portion of the freeboard remained poking above the water
level. The wreck is now completely buried in the mud of the river bottom,
although the hull itself, including funnels and anchor chains is, as far as is
known, still intact.
|Königsberg salvage crew 1915
SS Somali: The only remaining vessel
which can be viewed without diving remains Königsberg's loyal
supply ship Somali. Her wreck lies near Salale, although it is in very
poor condition. After her sinking, silt from the river began piling up around
the ship, and eventually engulfed her in a shallow sandbar. Trees then grew on
the sandbar and within a few decades Somali was actually inside the
encroaching forest. Between 1995 and 2000, someone cleared away part of the
heavy growth and more of the hull is visible again. The image at upper right
show what can still be seen of Somali's ample wreckage. Her bow is at
left and her sternpost is off the right side of the page. Much of the freeboard
is visible, and sections of the deck and superstructure remain scattered along
the wooded area which has engulfed the hull. The second view is an aerial
photograph taken during the war, showing the sandbar already forming
immediately upstream from the Somali's riverside resting place.
|Somali in 2001
|Aerial view of Somali
HMS Pegasus: The wreck of
Königsberg's primary wartime victim remains at the bottom of
Zanzibar Harbor, and is a popular diving site. The ship was torn open during
the wartime salvage of her boilers and engines, and the resulting weakening of
the ship's integrity has caused it to mostly fall apart. The main frames which
would have normally composed the inside of the vessel are now laying exposed on
the harbor bottom, and of course her guns and vital hardware were removed for
use in the East Africa campaign.
SS City of
Winchester: Interestingly, the wreck of City of Winchester is
occasionally visited at its remote location off the coast of Oman. The most
recent dive showed the hull to have collapsed, revealing her triple expansion
engine and boiler. Unpredictable weather and the remote location result in very
few visitors to the wreck site.
The Rufiji River Delta: At the time of the Great
War, the Rufiji River delta was considered a remote and barely understood area.
It is still remote by most considerations, and visitors to the area should be
thoroughly prepared and experienced travellers. When you are at site of the
Königsberg and Somali wrecks, you are really on your own and
should proceed accordingly.
|Rufiji River today
Artifacts: Sites and Owners
Königsberg Guns: The most visible
current artifacts from Königsberg remain her main guns, which were
removed from the ship in 1915, modified at the Dar es Salaam machine shops for
use on land and incorporated into Lettow-Vorbeck's land army which fought the
Commonwealth forces until 1918. After the war, the guns were taken as trophies
to various locations around Africa: One each to Leopoldville and Stanleyville
in the Belgian Congo, one to Pretoria, South Africa, one to Mombasa, Kenya, one
to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and one to Kampala, Uganda. Of those guns, only two
are still known to be intact: the "Bagamoyo" gun at Fort Jesus in Mombasa,
Kenya; and one at Johannesburg, South Africa. The Johannesburg gun may be the
same gun which was for a while mounted on the lake steamer Graf von Goetzen,
which fought on Lake Taganyika during the war and which still operates on the
lake as a ferry and general purpose freighter.
|Königsberg Gun at Mombasa
|Königsberg Gun at Johannesburg
Pegasus Guns: After her sinking,
the guns for HMS Pegasus were also removed and used by Commonwealth
forces in Africa. One of the converted guns is at Fort Jesus in Mombasa, Kenya,
next to one of the surviving Königsberg guns. Two other "Peggy"
guns were displayed on the ocean front at Dar es Salaam at least through the
1950s, but they have since disappeared.
Countless other small artifacts from this incident are now scattered around the
world. Below is a list of known items and their status and/or locations:
- Wardroom Dining Set: National Railway Museum, Nairobi,
- Torpedo Director, Shell Casings: Imperial War Museum,
- Shell Casings: Various private homes in the
- Naval Ensign: Family of Captain Looff.
- Porthole: Dar es Salaam Museum, Tanzania.
- Zinc Cordite Cases: Zanzibar Museum,
- Frame Plates, Silverware, Teak Decking: Various
private homes in the UK and US.
- Naval Ensign: Family members of Pegasus crew.