Friday, 1 January 2016

The Imperial German Navy vs. Haiti, 1897 and 1902

The Imperial German Navy that went to war in 1914 was essentially a creation of previous four decades. One tends to think of it in terms of its squadrons of superbly engineered battleships and battle-cruisers, designed primarily for the anticipated show-down with the Royal Navy in the North Sea.  It was however with smaller vessels on remote locations that the most action had been seen by German naval personnel and such service was a vital element in developing the leadership and expertise of officers and ratings alike. Operations to protect trading interests in China, or in support of colonial ventures in Africa and in the Pacific, or in projecting German influence in the Caribbean, all involved light cruisers and smaller ships, some of which saw very active service indeed.
SMS Jaguar - sister of the SMS Panther
One such vessel was the gunboat SMS Panther, which in this blog has been seen in action in Venezuelan coastal waters in 1903 (Click here to read the article aboutthis). Her presence at the Moroccan port of Agadir in 1911 was to be interpreted as a hostile act by the French Government – which regarded Morocco in its sphere of influence – and the resulting crisis all but plunged Europe into World War I three years early. Before either of these events however the newly-built Panther had already played a violent international role, though against an adversary so weak that the rest of the world took little notice.
SMS Charlotte (1883): 3700-ton corvette 
The history of the Caribbean nation of Haiti had been a sad one ever since achieving independence in 1804.  Poverty, the threat of foreign intervention, negative racist attitudes by many nations towards the world’s only “Black Republic” established by ex-slaves and a succession of coups and countercoups held back development and left its people in abject poverty. In 1897 the Imperial German Government – flexing its new naval muscles – sent two warships, SMS Charlotte and SMS Stein, to intimidate Haitian president into apologising for the attest of a certain Emile Lüders, born in Haiti but whose father was German, who had been involved in a brawl. The affair was a trivial one – Lüders, though sentenced to a year’s imprisonment, had already been pardoned by the president and had left the country six weeks before the German warships arrived. Despite this, Haiti was forced to accept a humiliating climb-down –compensation of $20,000 for Lüders, a promise that he could return to Haiti, a letter of apology to the German government and a 21-gun salute to the German flag. Four hours were allowed for acceptance, which was to be accepted by raising of a white flag over the presidential palace. Out-gunned, Haiti had no option but to comply.
Humiliation, 1897: the German ultimatum is delivered to Haiti. There are four hours to comply.
Haiti’s navy consisted of a single modern vessel, the gunboat Crête-à-Pierrot which had entered service in 1896. Built in Britain, at Earle’s shipyard in Hull, this 950 ton single-screw vessel was armed with one 6-inch gun, one 4.7-inch, four 4-inch and several machine guns. Command of the Haitian navy fell to Admiral Hammerton Killick (1856 – 1902), of mixed Haitian and British descent. His job must have been an almost impossible one for shortage of funds meant that payment of crews was irregular, food insufficient and cannibalisation of parts essential to ensure operability. It was not a good foundation from which to confront the Imperial German Navy when it would next come calling.

Hammerton Killick
In 1902 Haiti was plunged yet again into one of the interminable civil conflicts that had bedevilled it since independence. This had resulted from disagreements between two political leaders, Anténor Firmin and Pierre Nord Alexis, as to who should succeed a president who had just resigned. Admiral Hammerton Killick threw his support behind Firmin and proceeded to use the ships available to him to blockade the ports held by Alexis’s forces. This affair would have remained a local one had Alexis not ordered ammunition from overseas and it was carried on a German ship, the Markomannia, of the Hamburg-Amerika Line. This ship was intercepted by Killick’s Crête-à-Pierrot, searched and it cargo confiscated, the munitions on board being transferred to the Haitian gunboat. The Markomannia was then allowed to proceed unhindered.

German prestige was judged to have been damaged by the Crête-à-Pierrot’s action, a stance that was strengthened when Alexis – the Haitian leader who had been deprived of his ammunition – appealed for help to eliminate “a pirate ship.” The task was allocated to a recently commissioned German gunboat, SMS Panther, a 1200-ton, 210-foot vessel armed with two 4-inch and six 1.5-inch guns, plus lesser weapons.   Given the differences in resources, training and professionalism, the contest was going to be an unequal one.
Crête-à-Pierrot’s after-magazine blowing up
The Crête-à-Pierrot was in the harbour of Gonaïves, on Haiti’s north-west coast, when the Panther arrived on 6th September 6. Hammerton Killick and most of the crew were on shore but he rushed back to his ship. Realising that resistance would be futile, he ordered the crew still on board to leave and then, in an insane act of defiance, wrapped himself in a Haitian flag and blew up the aft magazine. As the shattered Crête-à-Pierrot settled she took with her not only Killick but four crew members who had remained with him. His action had been eerily similar to that of the Dutch Lieutenant Jan van Speijk at Antwerp in 1831 (Click here to read an earlier article about this).

The Panther was not finished however – she poured some thirty shells into the wreck before  departing, leaving Haitian forces to salvage whatever weapons and munitions they could. It was hardly a victory to boast of. It is interesting to note that the United States did not object to the German action as a violation of the Monroe Doctrine. The State Department apparently endorsed the action and the New York Times stated that “Germany was quite within her rights in doing a little housecleaning on her own account". One cannot but have an uneasy feeling that a degree of racial prejudice was involved in this stance since the next time the SMS Panther went into action, against Venezuelan defences in 1903, it led to the so-called “Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine.” This asserted a right of the United States to intervene to "stabilise" the economic affairs of small states in the Caribbean and Central America if they were unable to pay their international debts, in order to preclude European intervention to do so.

And Hammeton Killick? Though his sacrifice may look in retrospect to be a futile one, he came to be regarded as a national hero. A stamp bearing his likeness, and with a picture of the Crête-à-Pierrot exploding, was issued by Haiti in 1943. It seems like a poor compensation for five lives, his four crew members’ as well as his own.

Just published: Britannia’s Spartan

  
In April 1882 Captain Nicholas Dawlish RN has just taken command of the Royal Navy’s newest cruiser, HMS Leonidas. Her voyage to the Far East is to be a peaceful venture, a test of this innovative vessel’s engines and boilers. Dawlish has no forewarning of the nightmare of riot, treachery, massacre and battle he and his crew will encounter.

A new balance of power is emerging in the Far East. Imperial China, weak and corrupt, is challenged by a rapidly modernising Japan, while Russia threatens from the north. All need to control Korea, a kingdom frozen in time and reluctant to emerge from centuries of isolation.

Dawlish finds himself a critical player in a complex political powder keg. He must take account of a weak Korean king and his shrewd queen, of murderous palace intrigue, of a power-broker who seems more American than Chinese and a Japanese naval captain whom he will come to despise and admire in equal measure. And he will have no one to turn to for guidance…

Click below for more details:


For UK:Click here                      For US:Click here     

12 comments:

  1. An interesting footnote in History.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Paul - It's sad to realise that these were just more incidents in the endless sequence of misery that has constituted Haiti's history. One has the impression that until relatively recently much of the rest of the world all but wished the country to fail.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Annapurna Base Camp Trek assortment may be a known steady trekking route of seven days in Annapurna range region of Asian nation. Annapurna Base Camp trekking that additionally called Annapurna Sanctuary trekking is that the greatest distinguished trekking in Asian nation. the foremost peaks of western portion of large Annapurna Himal includes Hiunchuli, Annapurna south, Fang, Annapurna, Gangapurna, Annapurna three and Machhapuchchhre that ar organized in such a fashion that they exactly type a bend that have a diameter of virtually ten miles. Annapurna base camp trek of seven days from Kathmandu to Pokhara provides the nice influence of existence of a giant area within the core Modi Khola mark its resolution within the south of this ice mass vale in slender gorge of twelve,000ft deep. when you pass what is more to the south this gorge end up to be even wider and provides rise to the productive vale wherever Gurung folks live. Trekking in Asian nation Annapurna Base Camp higher and middle half Moody Khola offers trekkers some short cut trekking ways. Annapurna base camp trekking of seven days package begin its morning flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara and therefore the terribly day it goes on to Nayapul with personal vehicles and trek extend to Natural hot reserving in Jhinu danda, from wherever begins the Annapurna base camp or Annapurna Sanctuary Trek of the Asian nation Himalaya.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Everest Base Camp Trek is one of those journeys that create your vacation dreams return true. Hiking on the legendary foothills just under the mighty Mount Everest 8848m with exciting views of the master peaks will solely be found within the Everest Region. This celebrated trek is thought worldwide for its trailblazing routes & the landscapes speak to your senses. On this trip you furthermore Mera peak out at the celebrated Kala Patthar (5,600m/18,373ft) read purpose for a few grand direct views of the very best mountain in the world. Everest Base CampTrek additionally includes different celebrated eight thousand peaks like Mt mountain peak (8,516m /27,940ft), Makalu (8,485m /27,838 ft) Cho-Oyu (8,201m /26,906ft). The culture of this specific space is of nice notebook stuff & interacting with the native of us puts a lot of zest into your venturesome journey as you walk through the Khumbu region of the Asian country. This legendary path could be a psychological thriller for top & wild hikers World Health Organization want the tread the methods wherever legends walked before on their thanks to conquering mountain peak, some did some didn’t however the Everest Base Camp Trek path keeps those legends alive for many trekkers World Health Organization head to the present region. The trip begins with a stirring mountain flight to Lukla, one among the world’s highest mountains; & as shortly as you set down at that altitude, the remainder is history. Your hike takes you to the favored village city of Namche, referred to as the ‘gateway to the Khumbu’’ & from there on you rehearse quiet monasteries with the acknowledge Sherpa of us World Health Organization inhabit this region & their culture is price noting. On the way, we have a tendency to visit the Sagarmatha parkland, home to some rare fauna & flora, this additionally wherever we have a tendency to adapt for a few time. We head deep into the Khumbu hiking into the forest of shrub, birch trees & pine, with colorful villages wherever we have a tendency to square measure sincerely welcome by the Sherpa community. we have a tendency to square measure pleasantly stunned to return across a hospital-based mostly in Khunde and health post at Pheriche that shows this region not solely cares for the locals however also are able to look out of trekkers World Health Organization have altitude issues. Doctors square measure invariably at the post for aid treatment. The Everest Base Camp Trek is arduous however varied teahouses square measure found on the paths providing smart grubbed to shelter from the generally harsh climate. Our trek culminates at base camp so we have a tendency to create a path for Namche as we have a tendency to hike back to Lukla to rendezvous for our flight to Katmandu. we have a tendency to add an additional contingency day for inclement weather which will delay flights. It’s recommended to be pretty acceptable to undertake this journey; you only want some smart hiking exercise before doing this trip. And Nepal Base Camp Treks can do the remainder to allow you AN action-packed odyssey of a period.

    ReplyDelete