Victoria, Australia August 5 in 1914
Less than four hours after the British Empire was plunged into war on August 5, 1914, the FIRST shot rang out – not in England, Belgium or France, but 17,000 kilometres away at Point Nepean, as the German cargo ship, SS Pfalz, desperately tried to leave Australian waters.
The German captain of the Pfalz must have been aware that any time very soon War would be declared and as the Pfalz was very close to sailing out Portsea heads he would have been extremely excited freedom was there, almost within his grasp
But just 10 minutes before SS Pfalz was to reach open seas, the artillery headquarters at Queenscliff received the order to stop the ship or sink it.
As the exit through the heads between Portsea and Point Lonsdale is so treacherous for shipping, an experienced Australian pilot is always employed to sail any foreign ship out safely. This day Australian Captain Montgomery Robinson was on the German ship sailing it out towards the heads.
The gunners at the Fort Nepean gun emplacement fired a warning shot across its bow, much to the surprise of this Australian pilot guiding the Pfalz out.
After a physical tussle between the German captain and the Australian pilot, the Captain of the Pfalz surrendered after being told they must stop because the next shot was going to be INTO the ship.
No-one was killed, no-one was hurt. A blessed relief for the Aussie pilot Captain Robinson we can imagine.
The German seamen spent the rest of the war in an internment camp.