The First World War has entered its fourth horrendous year, and ships are mysteriously disappearing off the coasts of Australia and New Zealand. A young Australian woman named Mary Cameron is sailing with her husband and daughter from San Francisco to Sydney when, less than a thousand miles from their destination, a black-hulled freighter appears out of the vast blue emptiness. It is the first ship they have seen in nearly two months, and Mary and her daughter rush to the deck to greet her. Suddenly, two hinged iron sections of the freighter’s bulwarks drop down to reveal she is bristling with guns. She is in fact the German warship the Wolf, and the Camerons are about to find themselves captive on one of the century’s most extraordinary wartime sea voyages.
Sent by Germany on a suicide mission to the far side of the world, the Wolf was a formidable and ingenious commerce-raider. Her task was to inflict maximum destruction on Allied shipping using all the latest technology of warfare – torpedoes, mines, cannons, smokescreens, wireless receivers, even a seaplane. It was an assignment so secret that she could never pull in to port or transmit any radio signal.
In one continual 64,000-mile voyage lasting fifteen months, the ship caused havoc across three oceans, launched Germany’s only direct attacks on Australia and New Zealand in the Great War and captured over 400 men, women and children. Surviving on fuel and food plundered from other ships, the Wolf became a world in miniature as her 350-strong crew and their prisoners crowded together in an improbable survival story.
Drawn from eyewitness accounts, declassified government files and unpublished diaries and correspondence discovered during five years of research, this is the story of the Wolf’s voyage, one of the most remarkable but little-known episodes of the First World War.
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