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Views from the Iltis in China, 1919

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Views from the Iltis in China

Historical Note

The SMS Iltis (Polecat) was one of several Iltis-class small and lightly armed gunboats that the Germans operated in Chinese waters in the early years of the twentieth century as part of Germany's East Asia Squadron. The Iltis was launched on August 4, 1898 at the Schichau shipyards in Danzig (Gdańsk) and put into service on December 1 of that year. She left Kiel on February 6, 1899 and never returned to Germany. Her first stop was Falmouth and thence to the Bay of Biscay where she towed the English steamer Port Darwin, to La Coruña, Portugal. She then sailed through the Mediterranean via Gibraltar to Port Said, through the Suez Canal, and on via Aden to Colombo (Ceylon), stopping at Penang, and the island of Pulau Langkawi in Malaysia and in Singapore, before reaching Tsingtau on May 18, 1899.

Along with the Iltis, several other gunboats of its class - the Tiger, Jaguar, and Luchs, were all stationed in Tsingtao (Quingdao). During the 1914 siege of Tsingtao (27 August-7 November) in which the German-occupied port was attacked by unified Japanese and British forces, the Iltis, along with the cruiser, Cormoran, and the Luchs, another gunboat, became trapped in the harbor. On September 28 all three vessels were burned and scuttled, as were the Tiger, Jaguar, and Luchs.

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