This is one of our most exciting projects yet – to film the discovery of the first shot fired in World War 1
(We plan to launch the fund-raising campaign on April 10, but here is what the campaign looks like)
Few people are aware that the first shot of the Great War was fired from Point Nepean, south of Melbourne.
On August 5th 1914, Australian forces attempted to stop the German cargo ship, the SS Pfalz, from leaving Melbourne.
War had just been declared and all German activity in the Commonwealth was now considered hostile.
Despite numerous warnings to cut her engines, Pfalz Captain Kuhiken ordered full steam ahead and a dangerous game of chicken ensued.
From Point Nepean Coastal Fort, the Australians signalled the Pfalz to stop.
When they received an order to either ‘stop her of sink her’ they fired the first shot of the Great War across the Pfalz’ bow, missing the ship by metres.
The Pfalz eventually surrendered to Australian forces who boarded her at 1.00pm. The German crew was interned in Melbourne for the duration of the war.
The ship itself was soon refitted as a troop carrier for the war effort and was used in the Gallipoli landings under the name HMT Boorara.
She had a busy time in the Dardanelles: transporting Australian soldiers onto the battle arena, being twice torpedoed, and housing Turkish prisoners of war. She was eventually shipwrecked off the Vancouver coast in 1926 when she was operating as a Greek trade vessel.
We hope to find the shell
Southern Ocean Exploration, Australia’s most successful shipwreck discovery team, will volunteer all of its resources to find the shell: divers, boats, fuel and insurances – but we need this equipment if we are to have any chance of finding the shell.
Whitewater Documentaries will provide a film crew to document the event, with a view to telling the fascinating story of the Pfalz in a one-hour television documentary.
The catch: the magnetometer we need will cost $130,000.
Whitewater and SOE have set up an Indiegogo fundraising campaign to enable SOE to buy the necessary equipment. SOE will be able to use this equipment to find the shell, as well as other elusive shipwrecks. Whitewater gets to film it all. So it’s all very exciting.
We will be launching the campaign in April and expect a lot of interest.
As you can imagine, this is a ‘Long Shot’, but just think how exciting it would be to participate in the making of Australian and international history.
Most of the credit for making this project a reality goes to author Keith Quinton whose recent book, Stop the Pfalz,painstakingly and accurately recreates the Pfalz’ last moments. His information and assistance has helped SOE narrow the search grid to a practical area.
Herald Sun, March 8, 2014. “Hunt for first shell fired in World War 1 steps up”