Tirpitz’ head depicted below came as a loan to the #wunderkammer from the Imperial War Museum were it is usually on display since 1920.
Unnamed yet, the giant pig’s seafaring days began in December 1913 in Kiel when she was drafted on board of the light cruiser “Dresden”, as a living food supply, the poor thing, a custom not unheard of since the Phoenicians put out to sea 3.000 years ago. The outbreak of the Great War saw SMS “Dresden” and her pig in Mexico, she joined von Spee’s East Asia Squadron, took part in the Battle of Coronel and the Battle of the Falklands, made her escape from the latter only to be brought to bay by HMS “Glasgow” and “Kent” off the coast of Robinson Crusoe’s island, St Juan Bautista, in March 1915. The “Dresden’s” captain decided to scuttle his ship, her crew found refuge on the island but the poor porker was forgotten on the sinking cruiser – and the disappointed sea pig jumped over board and struck out towards “Glasgow” – an hour later, she was rescued by one of the British cruiser’s petty officers at the peril of his life, the pig was christened Tirpitz by her new shipmates, after the Kaiser’s Secretary of State of the Imperial Naval Office.
Actually, Tirpitz was supposed to become the “Glasgow’s” mascot, she was awarded by the crew with an Iron Cross for having survived the sinking of the “Dresden” and was the last one to come off the ship, she was petted and generally had a real fine time – but wily Tirpitz was obviously a double agent for the Kaiser, since she behaved pig-headed and hoggish to such an extent that she had to be removed from the cruiser a year later. In 1917, she ended up in the care of “Glasgow’s” former commander John Luce again, now stationed in Lincolnshire, who promptly put her up for a charity auction. Tirpitz was said to have raised 400 guineas, about £ 20.000 in today’s money – and, very probably, made the final sacrifice and was eaten in 1919 in connection with a Red Cross charity event. Her head was preserved by William Cavendish-Bentinck, 6th Duke of Portland and donated to the newly found Imperial War Museum and put on display there – and now at the #wunderkammer where the visitors can contemplate her weird and wonderful story and marvel at a true sea pig’s tale.
And more on:
and don’t miss Henry Nicholls’ wonderful feature from August 2013:
The picture of Tirpitz’ head was found on: