Small cruiser SMS Breslau

The small cruiser SMS Breslau belonged to the Magdeburg class, operated at the beginning of the First World War in the Mediterranean and was sold to the Ottoman Empire in 1914, which accelerated the entry of the country on the side of the German Empire.


Launching and design:

The Breslau belonged to the consisting of a total of 4 ships Magdeburg class. This was redesigned in 1908 under the demand for a much better armor against torpedoes and the larger caliber of the new warships of the other navies.

For the first time, a cruiser class received a side armor, the armor itself served as an outer wall and was not screwed as in previous classes of the actual outer skin.

The launching of the Breslau took place on May 16, 1911, the commissioning on May 10, 1912.


SMS Breslau


SMS Breslau




History of the SMS Breslau:

Already at the beginning of the commissioning and the actual test drives the Breslau was assigned to the imperial yacht Hohenzollern as escort ship and accompanied the ship during the Kieler Woche, the Nordland travel and the autumn maneuver.

On November 3, 1912, the Breslau was assigned together with the cruiser SMS Goeben the newly created Mediterranean Division, where she started together with the small cruiser Geier and the school cruiser Hertha several ports. Following the assassination of the Greek King George I, Breslau, on March 25, 1913 in Brindisi, invited Prince Ernst Augustus of Cumberland, future son-in-law of the Emperor, and in Corfu, Prince Henry of Prussia, brother of the Emperor to pick up the funeral.

Furthermore, the ship was involved in the international blockade of the Montenegrin coast, as well as with its on-board crew to oversee the transfer of Skutaris to Albania.


Landing Corps of SMS Breslau


Before the outbreak of war, the Breslau took over mainly monitoring tasks.


SMS Breslau




Use in the war:

With the outbreak of the First World War, the Breslau was moored together with the SMS Goeben in Messina. The order of the German Mediterranean division was at this time only in the obstruction of French troop movements from Algeria to the motherland. On 3 August 1914, both ships were leaving Algeria. On the way, they shot at the cities of Philippeville and Bône.

Although the French fleet was already on its way to Algeria at that time, however, split on the way and sat on the fact that the German ships would go west. These, however, turned around and returned to Messina to increase their coal reserves. The presence of the German ships, however, stopped at short notice the expiry of French troop carriers, as they had to wait first for their escort.

The British Mediterranean fleet had also become aware of the German ships and tried to pursue them to protect the eastern trade routes of the Mediterranean. For the entire day of August 4, 1914, the Germans waged a cat and mouse game with the British, but did not open the fire, as at that time there was no state of war between the countries. On 5 August, the two German ships Breslau and Goeben re-entered Messina to load coal. At this time, war was raging between the German Empire and Great Britain.




Chase in the Mediterranean and settling in the Ottoman Empire:

By 5 August 1914, war was raging between the German  Empire and Great Britain. The two German ships were in Messina, were informed by the Italian authorities on the neutrality regulations and were accordingly obliged to leave the port after the inclusion of coal.

On the evening of August 6, the two German ships ran out of port and the British ship HMS Gloucester began to pursue them. Due to the disruption of radio communications, the British captain could not pass the position and route completely to the other British ships, which they were looking for in a wrong position for them. The Gloucester had to limit itself to the pursuit, as they would not match the two German ships of the firepower ago.

Vice Admiral Souchon also did not attack his ships, as he was already planning to break into the territory of the Ottoman Empire. On 9th August he had the ships picked up again from the charcoal steamer Bogadyr coal before he entered the Dardanelles on August 10th and settled in Constantinople.




Transfer and service in the Ottoman Empire:

The two German ships Breslau and Goeben were officially sold to the Ottoman Empire after arriving in Constantinople and should serve as a substitute for the ships illegally seized by the British Reshadije and Sultan Osman I. These were built in Britain, completed and occupied by British troops before being handed over.

The Breslau was taken on 16 August 1914 as Midilli in the service of the Ottoman Navy. The German crew stayed on the ship. The sale of the ships was crucial for the war entry of the Ottoman Empire on the side of the Central Powers.


Cruiser Breslau under Ottoman flag as Midilli



The first use under the Ottoman flag took place on October 29, 1914 where the Russian ports of Novorossiysk, Odessa and Sevastopol were shot at together with other Ottoman ships. Russia's declaration of war on the Ottoman Empire took place on 2 November 1914.

In November and December 1914, the Midilli carried out mostly escorting of troop carriers and merchant ships, with some smaller battles with Russian ships.

In early April 1915, the Midilli ran out together with the renamed in Yavuz Sultan Selim Goeben to cover the return of the cruiser Hamidiye and Mecidiye, who were ordered to bombard the Russian city Nikolayev. However, since the Mecidiye ran on the way to a mine and sank, the attack had to be stopped. While the Hamidiye took the survivors of the Mecidiye, the formerly German ships fired at Sevastopol. Due to the expiring Russian fleet, the two ships withdrew slowly to give the Hamidiye sufficient time to return. As night fell and the message that the Hamidiye was out of range of the Russian fleet, the ships accelerated again. Although two Russian destroyers were able to catch up to the Yavuz Sultan Selim, but were recognized and shot at by the Midilli, so they had to deduct heavily damaged.

While escorting a coal transport, the Midilli ran on 18 July 1915 on a mine and suffered severe damage. The repair lasted until February 27, 1916, whereby already 2 of the 10.5-cm guns were exchanged for the larger 15-cm guns.

From March 1916, the Midilli was used mainly in the escort of troop carriers and merchant ships. In the meantime, the remaining 10.5-cm guns were replaced by 15-cm guns and installed an additional oil firing.


SMS Breslau and SMS Goeben in the Bosphorus in 1915





On January 20, 1918 was planned with the Midilli and Yavuz Sultan Selim an outbreak of the Dardanelles. At the exit, the two ships encountered the British fleet, with the battle, the monitors M28 and Raglan were sunk.

On the way, however, the ships drove into a minefield and the Midilli began to sink after 5 hits. 133 crew members were rescued, 330 lost their lives.




Ship data:


SMS Breslau


German Empire
from 1914 Ottoman Empire

Ship Type:  

Small cruiser




AG Vulcan, Stettin


7.961.000 Mark


May 16th, 1911


May 10th, 1912


On January 20, 1918 run on mine and sunk


138,7 meters


13,5 meters


Max. 5,73 meters


Max. 5.281 Tons


354 to 374 Men


16 Marine Boiler
2 sets of steam turbines


33.482 PS (24.626 kW)

Maximum speed:  

27,5 kn (51 km/h)


12 × Rapid Fire Gun 10,5 cm L / 45 (1,800 rounds)

2 × torpedo tube ⌀ 50.0 cm (5 shots)

120 mines

from 1917:

8 × Rapid Fire Gun 15.0 cm L / 45 (741 rounds)

2 × torpedo tube ⌀ 50.0 cm (5 shots)

120 Seeminen



Belt: 18-60 mm
Deck: 20-60 mm
Collision bulkhead: 40 mm
Sole: 20 mm
Command tower: 20-100 mm
Shields: 50 mm






You can find the right literature here:


German Battleships 1914–18 (1): Deutschland, Nassau and Helgoland classes (New Vanguard)

German Battleships 1914–18 (1): Deutschland, Nassau and Helgoland classes (New Vanguard) Paperback – February 23, 2010

Supported by official documents, personal accounts, official drawings and specially commissioned artwork, this volume is an enlightening history of the Deutschland to Osfriesland classes. Detailing the last of the pre-dreadnaught battleship classes, this book goes on to explain the revolutionary developments that took place within the German Imperial Navy as they readied themselves for war. This included creating vessels with vast increases in size and armament. This account of design and technology is supplemented by individual ship histories detailing combat experience complete with first-hand accounts. The specially commissioned artwork also brings this history to life with recreations of the battleship Pommern fighting at Jutland and ships of the Osfriesland class destroying HMS Black Prince in a dramatic night-time engagement.

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The Imperial German Navy of World War I, Vol. 1 Warships: A Comprehensive Photographic Study of the Kaiser’s Naval Forces

The Imperial German Navy of World War I, Vol. 1 Warships: A Comprehensive Photographic Study of the Kaiser’s Naval Forces Hardcover – December 28, 2016

The Imperial German Navy of WWI is a series of books (Warships, Campaigns, & Uniforms) that provide a broad view of the Kaiser's naval forces through the extensive use of photographs. Every effort has been made to cover all significant areas during the war period. In addition to the primary use of photographs, technical information is provided for each warship along with its corresponding service history; with a special emphasis being placed on those warships that participated in the Battle of Skagerrak (Jutland). Countless sources have been used to establish individual case studies for each warship; multiple photos of each warship are provided. The entire series itself is unprecedented in its coverage of the Kaiser's navy.

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German Battlecruisers of World War One: Their Design, Construction and Operations

German Battlecruisers of World War One: Their Design, Construction and Operations Hardcover – November 4, 2014

This is the most comprehensive, English-language study of the German Imperial Navy's battlecruisers that served in the First World War. Known as Panzerkreuzer, literally "armored cruiser," the eight ships of the class were to be involved in several early North Sea skirmishes before the great pitched battle of Jutland where they inflicted devastating damage on the Royal Navy's battlecruiser fleet. This book details their design and construction, and traces the full service history of each ship, recounting their actions, drawing largely from first-hand German sources and official documents, many previously unpublished in English.

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The Kaiser's Battlefleet: German Capital Ships 1871-1918

The Kaiser's Battlefleet: German Capital Ships 1871-1918 Hardcover – March 15, 2016

The battleships of the Third Reich have been written about exhaustively, but there is little in English devoted to their Second Reich predecessors. This new book fills an important gap in the literature of the period by covering these German capital ships in detail and studying the full span of battleship development during this period. The book is arranged as a chronological narrative, with technical details, construction schedules, and ultimate fates tabulated throughout, thus avoiding the sometimes disjointed structure that can result from a class-by-class approach. Heavily illustrated with line drawings and photographs, many from German sources, the book offers readers a fresh visual look at these ships. A key objective of the book is to make available a full synthesis of the published fruits of archival research by German writers found in the pre-World War II books of Koop & Schmolke, Großmer's on the construction program of the dreadnaught era, Forstmeier & Breyer on World War I projects, and Schenk & Nottelmann's papers in Warship International. As well as providing data not available in English-language books, these sources correct significant errors in standard English sources.

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