22, September 1914 was the day when SMS Emden, the German bomber ship sneaked near Madras Harbour’s calm sea. Karl von Müller the commander of the ship ordered to bombard everything in front of its line. As a result of a series of bombings, it destroyed some oil containers belonging to Burmah Oil Company. It didn’t stop there and started involving in the relentless shooting ( fancy shooting ) shelling out 125 bullets approximately which killed 3 and injured around 13 according to reports. The surprising thing is, the ship was anchored for solid ten minutes in-spite of the strong presence of Royal Navy ships. Once it had completed its so called mission, Emden rushed out of harbour. It had escaped the Royal Navy and started its journey to south unscathed. But the damage was done and everyone in Madras started panicking, leaving the place in the coming days.
Later in November 1914, Emden was sinked by HMAS Sydney by a series of fighting near Cocos Islands.
In the thirties and forties the word ‘Emden’ was a metaphor (in Madras) for someone thought to be super-clever and go-getter. “Avan periya Emden-da”(is he the Big Emden ? ) was the expression heard in Madras lot of times.