CWGC Shotley (St. Mary) Churchyard - Shotley Gate, Wednesday 1st August 2018
SS Königin Luise was a German steam ferry. She operated between Hamburg and the Netherlands, before being taken over by the Kaiserliche Marine on the outbreak of the First World War to serve as an auxiliary minelayer.
On the night of the 4th August 1914,. her captain Commander Biermann had orders to lay mines off the Thames Estuary.
Königin Luise was able to lay a number of mines off the coast during the night, but was sighted by a number of fishing vessels. The light cruiser Amphion of the Harwich Force and a number of destroyers of the 3rd Flotilla sailed early in the morning of 5th August and headed towards Heligoland Bight. On the way they encountered a fishing boat, whose occupants informed the British force that they had seen an unknown ship "throwing things over the side" about 20 miles north of the Outer Gabbard. Amphion and the destroyers set off to investigate.
The taskforce spotted Königin Luise at 10:25, and the destroyers Lance and Landrail moved to investigate. Königin Luise fled at her top speed, moving into a rain squall, where she proceeded to lay more mines. Lance and Landrail gave chase, signalling to the rest of the force that they were engaging. Lance opened fire, the first British shot of the war. Amphion soon closed and also began to fire on the fleeing Königin Luise. The German ship attempted to escape to neutral waters to the south-east, while leading the pursuing British through her minefield, but under heavy and accurate fire, Commander Biermann ordered the scuttling of the ship. The surviving crew members abandoned ship, and the Königin Luise rolled over to port and sank at 12:22. 46 of the 100 crew were rescued by the British ships. Those who later succumbed to their injuries are buried together.
She was the first German naval loss of the war.