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The Last Battlecruiser

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The Last Battlecruiser: SMS Goeben Operations in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, 1914-1918
  • by Owen P. Hall, Jr.
    • Merriam Press Historical Fiction 4
      • Third Edition 2012
      • 202 6×9-inch pages
      • 30 illustrations
      • 15 tables
      • 2 charts
      • 7 maps
This is the story of the last battlecruiser, the SMS Goeben and its operations in the Mediterranean. The Goeben is considered to be the longest commissioned dreadnought of all time, finally being paid off in the early 1960s. The impact of the Goeben odyssey during the early months of World War I reverberates throughout the world today.

  • Cast of Characters
  • Prologue
  • The Ship 
    • Germany launches the SMS Goeben. She undertakes her shake down cruise. The Kaiser assigns Goeben and Breslau to the Mediterranean in the spring of 1913. After an extensive tour of the Mediterranean the German squadron docks at Pola in the fall of 1913 for repairs. Admiral Souchon and his flag Lieutenant Brodicker arrive at Pola where Souchon assumes command of the squadron.
  • The Prize 
    • Pollen designs, builds and tests the world’s most advanced fire control system. Pollen’s Argo Clock can significantly improve the accuracy of long range naval gunnery especially under poor visibility conditions. Pollen has ongoing woes with the British Admiralty. Pollen obtains an order from the Russian government. The first units arrive at the Nikolaev shipyard in the Black Sea area.
  • Newcastle upon Tyne 
    • Construction is nearing completion on the world’s mightiest and strangest dreadnought for the Turkish government. The British government directs the Armstrong yard to go slow on finalizing the Sultan Osman I. The Turkish naval team arrives to take command. The British government announces the seizure of the Sultan and another Turkish battleship as war clouds draw near. These developments caused the Turkish government to look elsewhere for dreadnoughts.
  • In the Shadows
    • German Naval Intelligence (GNI) discovers the construction of three dreadnoughts at the Nikolaev shipyard for the Russian Black Seas fleet. However, details are sketchy. GNI seizes on an opportunity to expand intelligence operations in the Crimea area. The event is a total eclipse of the sun where German astronomers plan to confirm Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. The total eclipse track passes on or near a number of Russian naval installations including Nikolaev. Berlin helps sponsor the expedition which includes a number of GNI agents.
  • Mediterranean Maneuvers 
    • The Goeben is again under repair at Pola. War message received. Souchon sets sail for Messina. Goeben rendezvous with Breslau at Messina for coaling. Souchon’s assesses his options. The German Mittelmeerdivision sets sail for French North Africa. Goeben and Breslau bombard French ports as war breaks out. Goeben is chased by two British battlecruisers but escapes back to Messina. Austria declines to support the German squadron. Souchon reassesses his options and heads east. The German squadron is tracked by the British light cruiser Gloucester.
  • Action Stations – August 7, 1914 
    • Admiral Troubridge reviews his options. Troubridge’s prime directive from his boss Admiral Milne is not to engage a superior force. Troubridge’s command consists of the 1st Armor Cruiser Squadron plus several light cruisers and destroyers. The Gloucester continues to provide tracking data on the German squadron’s location throughout the night. Troubridge decides to fight and heads south. Troubridge, on board the HMS Defence, brings his squadron to action stations.
  • Battle
    • Lookouts on the Defence spot the Goeben shortly after sunrise some 20 nautical miles west of Zante Island. Troubridge moves to cut the Goeben off and close the range. Ackermann spots the British squadron and targets the Defence. The Breslau is assigned to guard against the British light cruisers to the west. Goeben opens fire at 18,000 yards. The Defence is soon put out of action. The Goeben then targets and sinks the Black Prince. The remaining British armored cruisers turn away. The Goeben receives minor damage and continues eastward along with the Breslau.
  • Escape to the East
    • The Gloucester continues tracking the Goeben. Souchon sets a trap. The Gloucester battles the Breslau. The Gloucester is recalled. The Goeben and Breslau undertake coaling in the Aegean Sea. Turkish government debates receiving Souchon’s squadron. Souchon receives authorization to proceed to Turkey. The German squadron arrives at Chanak in southwest Turkey.
  • Unfinished Business
    • The Goeben undergoes repairs as Souchon sails to Constantinople. Souchon receives word that a British battlecruiser squadron has arrived off the Dardanelles. Turkey authorizes Souchon to bring his squadron to the capital. Souchon postpones the request and plans an attack on the British squadron at Imbros Island. Souchon strikes at first light and sinks the Indomitable and damages the Indefatigable. Both the Goeben and Breslau are damaged. The German squadron drops anchor at Constantinople.
  • The Plan 
    • Souchon makes the diplomatic rounds and provides cover story for Imbros attack. Souchon receives instructions from Berlin to manufacture an incident to get Turkey into war against Russia. Souchon is briefed on the construction status of the three Russian Black Sea dreadnoughts including the arrival of the Argo Clocks. Souchon decides on a broad naval assault on Russian facilities throughout the Black Sea. Souchon also authorizes a commando raid on Nikolaev using the brand new LZ 28 airship. The bombardment and raid are scheduled for October 29th.
  • Zeppelin LZ 28 
    • The LZ 28 is the latest in airship technology with a top cruising speed of nearly 50 knots. The LZ 28 arrives at Jamboil, Bulgaria after a 900 nautical mile trip from southern Germany. A secret base has been constructed at Jamboli to support Zeppelin operations. Brodicker joins the commando unit at Jamboli after a train and motor ride from Constantinople. Brodicker and the commando team undertake extensive training including a practice Zeppelin flight at night into the Black Sea.
  • Sevastopol – Dawn, October, 29, 1914
    • Goeben arrives off Sevastopol and begins early morning bombardment. Forts respond and the entire action is over in less than 30 minutes. Turkish and German bombardment groups attack other targets. Russian Black Seas Fleet (BSF) receives word of attack while steaming off eastern Crimea. Russian Admiral Ebergard sets course to intercept Goeben. Souchon is caught unaware and is mauled in a brief engagement with BSF at ranges less than 8,000 yards. Goeben along with torpedo boat escort escapes to the southwest at high speed.
  • The Raid
    • The LZ 28 leaves Bulgarian airspace before midnight. Captain Hirsch plots a course directly for Nikolaev some 375 nautical miles away. Zeppelin arrives late due to engine and weather difficulties. Raiders successfully gain access to the Russud shipyard and attack dreadnought Marija still under construction. Raiders also acquire an Argo Clock and successfully escape down the Bug River. LZ 28 comes under anti-aircraft fire from Russian field batteries. The raiders along wth the clock are picked up by the LZ 28.
  • Homeward Bound 
    • A major Black Sea storm thwarts the LZ 28’s rendezvous with the Goeben. Souchon directs Breslau to retrieve the Argo Clock. Souchon’s battle group arrives at Constantinople to the cheers of the local inhabitants. Goeben undergoes extensive repairs including the installation of the Argo fire control system. England, France and Russia declare war on Turkey. Souchon develops plans for future missions.
  • Appendices
    • Appendix A – Primary Combatants (Tale of the Tape) 
    • Appendix B – Support Forces (Tale of the Tape)  
    • Appendix C – LZ 28 Specifications  
    • Appendix D – Gunnery Glossary (1914) 
    • Appendix E – Equivalent Naval Ranks (1914)
    • Appendix F – SMS Goeben Résumé
  • Maps
    • Ukraine (Eclipse Track)
    • Mediterranean Sea (Goeben Track) 
    • Battle of Zante Island (Action Track)   
    • Battle of Imbros Island (Action Track) 
    • Black Sea Environs (Action Plan)  
    • Battle of Cape Sarych (Action Track)
    • Russud Shipyard, Nikolaev (Action Track)

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