Item Id: GG01052

S.M.H Möwe Rare document and Medal Group to Vizefeldwebel der Reserve Richard Helmker


SMS Möwe (German: Seagull) was an merchant raider of the Imperial German Navy which operated against Allied shipping during World War I. Disguised as a neutral cargo ship to enable it to get close to targets, the Möwe was effective at commerce raiding, sinking several ships in the course of the war.


First raiding voyage:


Möwe slipped out of Wilhelmshaven on 29 December 1915 for her first task, to set a minefield in the Pentland Firth, near the main base of the British Home Fleet at Scapa Flow. This was completed in severe weather conditions. A few days later the pre-dreadnought battleship HMS King Edward VII struck one of the mines despite attempts to tow her to safety she sank. Möwe then moved down the west coast of Ireland to France. There she laid another mine field off the Gironde estuary, which sank a further two ships.


This part of her mission complete, Möwe then moved into the Atlantic, operating first between Spain and the Canary islands, and later off the coast of Brazil. On January 16, 1916, the Möwe encountered a lightly armed British merchant ship and after a small battle, the British ship was scuttled. In three months she caught 15 ships, two of which were sent, with cargo and prisoners, to port as prizes the rest were sunk. She returned to Germany, and a heroes welcome, on 4 April 1916. Felix von Luckner served aboard Seagull before his journey with SMS Seeadler in late 1916 to late 1917.


Interlude as Vineta:


In an effort to maintain security, Möwe was re-named Vineta, after another Auxilary Cruiser which had been withdrawn from service. In this guise she set out on a series of short cruises during the summer of 1916 to attack Allied shipping off the coast of Norway. This only brought one success, however, before she was ordered in for a re-fit prior to another sortie into the Atlantic.


Second raiding voyage:


Departing on 23 November 1916, Möwe had even more success on her second cruise into the Atlantic.


On 6 December 1916, she captured and sunk the Canadian Pacific Steamship freighter SS Mount Temple outbound from Halifax to Liverpool. The Mount Temple’s cargo included war matériel of 700 horses bound for the Canadian Expeditionary Force in France, and many crates of dinosaur fossils collected from Alberta’s Red Deer River badlands by Charles H. Sternberg destined for the British Museum of Natural History. On 12 December, it was the turn of the SS Georgic with 1,200 horses that would have been used on the Western Front.
In four months she had accounted for another 25 ships totalling 123,265 GRT. One of these, SS Yarrowdale, was sent as prize to Germany as Dohna Schlodien hoped, was outfitted as a commerce raider herself. Möwe also retained SS Saint Theodore as a collier, before arming and commissioning her as the auxiliary Geier. Geier operated in this role for six weeks, accounting for two ships sunk, before being disarmed and scuttled by Möwe prior to returning home.
On 10 March, she was badly damaged in action against an armed New Zealand merchant ship. Five of her crewmen were killed and another ten men were wounded. The damage forced the raider to return course for Germany. In March 1917 Möwe again successfully ran the British blockade, ironically at the same time as her prize, now the auxiliary cruiser SMS Leopard, was cornered and sunk by the same blockading force. Möwe arrived home safely on 22 March 1917.


Later history:


On her return SMS Möwe was taken out of service as a raider, being reckoned too valuable as a propaganda tool to be risked again. She served in the Baltic as a submarine tender, before becoming the auxiliary minelayer Ostsee in 1918. After the Treaty of Versailles, she went to Britain, to be operated by Elders and Fyffes as the freighter Greenbrier. In 1933 she was sold to a German shipping company. As the freighter Oldenburg, served between Germany and occupied Norway in World War II.


On 7 April 1945 she was attacked by Bristol Beaufighters of Coastal Command on anti-shipping missions while sheltering off the coast of Norway—near the village of Vadheim in Sogn og Fjordane county. Holed by their rockets and strafed by cannon fire she burned and sunk


Raiding career:


In three raiding voyages Moewe captured and sank 40 ships, grossing in excess of 180,000 GRT. She also laid mines which accounted for two more ships and a capital warship. This made her the most successful German raider in either the First or the Second World War.
In 1917 the imperial Bild- und Filmamt in Berlin produced Graf Dohna und seine Möwe, one of the most known propaganda films in World War I. The distributor was Paul Davidson part of the production the Projektions-AG »Union« (PAGU), Berlin. The film was first released on 2 may 1917 in Berlin.


The group consist of the following items from Richard Helmkers Estate

– Iron Cross 1´st class, Iron center, Silver frame. Straight needle. Cross have some slight surface rust at the core but nothing serious. Nice patina to the silver parts.

– Preliminary Document for the Iron Cross 1´st class. Given aboard S.M.H. Möwe the 13 of April 1917. Document is signed the 20 of June 1917. Original Signed by Kapitänleutnant und Kommendant Wolf. Folded once and rust mark after paperclip.

– Medal bar with four awards, Iron Cross 2´nd class, Hamburg Hanseatiche Cross, 12 year service medal, Turkish Life Saving Medal. All medals in good worn condition. No damage.

– Ribbon bar with four awards, Iron Cross 2´nd class, Hamburg Hanseatiche Cross, 12 year service medal, Turkish Life Saving Medal. Ribbon bar good well worn condition
with no damage.

– Preliminary Document for the Iron Cross 2´nd class. Given aboard S.M.H. Möve the 17 of February 1916. Document is signed the 25 of March 1916. Original signed by Korvetten-Kapitän und Kommendant zu Dohna-Schlodien. Folded once.

– Award document for the Hamburg Hanseatiche Cross, Original Signed and dated the 25 of November 1916. Folded several times.

– Award dokument for the Service medal III Class (9 Years), Original Signed and dated the 18´th of June 1909 as well as the one for the II Class (12 year) Original Signed and dated 18´th of June 1915.

– Second Class Landwehr Servicemedal with ribbon, Medal in very good unused condition.

– Award document for the Second Class Landwehr Servicemedal, Original Signed and dated the 15´th of April 1913.

– Dog-Tags for both the S.M.H. Möve with roll number 11 and for the S.M.H. Vineta with roll number 27, both made in aluminium. Both show wear.

– Helmkers Cap Talley from his Donald Duck Cap. Black rayon Talley with the text S.M.S Moewe, more or less full length cap talley with diagonally cut ends. Tally show wear and dirt to it and the flatwire text have darkened and the flatwire faded. This was for sure aboard the ship!

– Neptun document for passing equatorial line, original signed and dated 8´th of February 1908 aboard the ship S.M.S Fürst Bismark.

– Militär pass, fully filled in from 1911 to 20´th of November 1918. All ships he served on, all training, All awards etc etc. Fully filled in with all wartime service. All requred stampings and signatures.

– Ehrenkreutz für Frontkämpfer Document and Medal.Both in very good condition.

This is a very Rare and Interesting group from a well decorated soldier who made both large tours with the S.M.S Möwe. The most successful German raider in either the First or the Second World War. Furthermore the group is in a very complete state. The grouping was sold by Military Antiques many years ago. Thats why we could make the full description of each item in detail. The grouping was then profesionally framed.


Would be hard finding a nicer group connected to a S.M.S. Möwe sailor!!!