Wes Olson Author Talk

Author Talk: Wes Olson

The Last Cruise of a German Raider The Destruction of SMS Emden

10.30am to 11.30am 

Wednesday 24 April 2019

Barracks Main Gallery, Princess Royal Fortress Military Museum

Cost: Free (Limited numbers - bookings essential. Call 6820 3500 to book)

Book signing afterwards in The Forts Store



Well-known West Australian military author Wes Olson will be discussing his recent book The Last Cruise of a German Raider, The Destruction of SMS Emden at the Princess Royal Fortress Military Museum on the eve of Anzac Day 2019.

This is Wes’s fifth book that delves into the SMS Emden, a German Raider that wreaked havoc in the Indian Ocean in 1914 and quickly became the scourge of the Allied navies.

“She wanted to disturb the British supply lines like a wolf breaking into the sheepfold; doing as much damage as she could while avoiding superior enemy naval forces.”

Official German archives on the SMS Emden Between August and October 1914, Emden intercepted 29 vessels of which 15 were sunk. In November 1914, many Allied vessels were involved in the hunt for Emden; the threat she posed led to a particularly heavy escort of four warships being allocated to the first Australian and New Zealand troop convoy that left Albany on the 1st November. In the process of destroying the British radio station on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the Emden was destroyed after the fight between the HMAS Sydney on 9 November 1914.

About the author: Wesley (Wes) Olson was born in Perth in 1960. He and Dale were married in 1988, and have three adult children, a ginger cat, and a black & tan Kelpie cross.


As a boy Wes was fascinated with guns and all things naval and military. At the age of 16 he took up big bore shooting, followed by muzzle-loading, and is still a keen target shooter. In 1977 he started work with the Western Australian Government Railways as a Junior Station Assistant. When he turned 18 he transferred to the locomotive branch and commenced training to become a Locomotive Driver. Wes was appointed Driver in 1988, and is currently employed in that capacity by Pacific National.  Wes joined the Australian Army Reserve in 1978 and served a total of eight years as an infantryman. In 1997 he became a volunteer at the Army Museum of Western Australia. Initially given the role of Researcher, he was subsequently appointed Firearms Keeper within the Curatorial Section. He then joined the Gallery Development Committee and was involved in the development, construction and display of mannequins and weapons in the WWI, WWII and Post-1945 galleries.

Wes left the Army Museum in 2013 and began assisting the Western Australian Museum with various projects, including HMAS Sydney (II) and the National Anzac Centre at Albany. He is now an Honorary Associate of the WA Museum.

Wes’ first book, Bitter Victory – The death of HMAS Sydney, was published by the University of Western Australia Press in 2000. The following year he chaired the Archival Committee for the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Sydney Wreck Location Seminar. Wes then became research assistant and historical advisor to David Mearns of Blue Water Recoveries prior to the 2008 search and discovery of HMAS Sydney and HSK Kormoran.

In 2015 Wes was historical advisor on the WA Museum/Curtin University expedition to revisit the wrecks of HMAS Sydney and HSK Kormoran. The following year he published HMAS Sydney (II) – In Peace and War, the first full history of the ship.
Between Bitter Victory and Peace and War Wes produced two other books, Gallipoli – The Western Australian Story, and Battalion into Battle – The History of the 2/11th Australian Infantry Battalion 1939-45. His latest work, The Last Cruise of a German Raider – The Destruction of SMS Emden, was published by Seaforth Publishing in 2018.

Wes is currently working on the history of the 11th Australian Infantry Battalion 1914-19.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are advised that this exhibition may include names, images, and references to people who have since passed away.