Camden Haven Historical Society Museum: Mine found in Camden Haven dropped by SS WOLF

Albert Eggins & Harry Seaman with the mine in the Camden Haven.
Albert Eggins & Harry Seaman with the mine in the Camden Haven.

Germany unleashed numerous ships to raid and sink British and Allied shipping once World War 1 was declared. Many of the “raiders” were merchant ships fitted with armaments. Little or no attempt was made to disguise their armament. All the undisguised ships were sunk or captured within the first few months of the war. 

However, some “raiders” were well-armed ships completely disguised as ordinary merchant ships. They used this disguise to sail the seas and then attack enemy shipping. One of these was the SS WOLF which, in addition to numerous guns and torpedo tubes, was fitted with minelaying equipment and over four hundred mines. It also had a dismantled seaplane which could be assembled when behind enemy lines. The ship left Germany in November 1916 and returned in February 1918 having steamed 64,000 miles (in excess of 100,000 kilometres). The ship laid minefields off South Africa, India, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia. SS WOLF is believed to have sunk 135,000 tonnes of allied shipping in three oceans.

In 1917 the SS WOLF sailed up the Australian coast dropping mines. The only one to wash up onshore in this country was discovered in 1920 by Mr Harry Seaman near Point Perpendicular, Camden Head. Explosive experts from Sydney were called to detonate it. The casing was repaired and hung from the ceiling of the Laurieton School of Arts until it was declared to be too dangerous in that position. Eventually it was taken to the Garden Island War Museum. 

Courtesy of the Camden Haven Historical Society Museum.