Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Battle of Coronel -- November 1, 2014

New York Tribune, 11-November-1914

100 years ago on 01-November-1914, a British squadron led by Rear Admiral Christopher Cradock encountered the German East Asia Squadron led by Vice Admiral Count Maximillian von Spee off the Chilean coast near Coronel.  Spee had abandoned the German base at Tisingtao, China when the war started because he knew the Japanese would soon attack and overwhelm it.  Spee spread confusion across the Pacific.  Cradock had been sent to find him, but received many contradictory orders from the Admiralty. Winston Churchill, who had issued some of the contradictory orders, later called it "the saddest naval action of the war. Of the officers and men in both the squadrons that faced each other in these stormy seas far from home, nine of ten were doomed to perish.  The British were to die that night; the Germans a month later."  The light cruiser Glasgow and the auxiliary cruiser Otranto were the only British ships to escape.  The sacrifice made by Cradock and his men cost Spee much of his fuel and ammunition. 

One of Spee's ships, the Leipzig, had visited San Francisco in August:


Armored Cruiser Monmouth Sunk Outright and Good Hope Set on Fire

Glasgow Takes Refuge in Harbor.
English War Craft Under Sir Christopher Cradock Sought to Stop Them from Destroying Merchant Steamers in Southern Waters.

Valparaiso, Nov. 3. -- The German warships Gneisenau, Scharnthorst, Nurnberg, Leipsic and Dresden attacked the British fleet off Coronel, Chili, to-day. The British armored cruiser Monmouth was sunk.

The Good Hope was badly damaged, and as she was on fire is supposed to have been lost. The British cruiser Glasgow, badly damaged, took refuge in the harbor of Coronel and is now bottled up.

Sir Christopher Cradock, who commanded the squadron, was in charge of the British fleet in Mexican waters at the time the American marines occupied Vera Cruz.

The British cruisers Good Hope, Monmouth and Glasgow had been searching the coasts of South America for several weeks with the object of engaging the German cruisers, which had been destroying British merchant vessels.

Admiral Graf von Spee, commander of the German fleet in Pacific waters, who arrived here this morning, made the following report:

Admiral Graf von Spee, commander of the German fleet in Pacific waters, who arrived here this morning, made the following report:

"On Sunday, November 1, between 6 and 7 o'clock in the evening, during a heavy rain and rough weather off Coronel, we sighted the British men-of-war Good Hope, Monmouth and Glasgow and the armored cruiser Otranto. 

"An engagement ensued immediately.  All the ships opened a brisk cannonade with all their artillery. 

"The Monmouth was sunk, and the Good Hope, after a great explosion on board, took fire.  Her subsequent fate is unknown, owing to darkness having set in. 

"The Glasgow and the Otranto also were damaged, but the darkness prevented our obtaining knowledge of the extent of it.

"Our ships, the Scharnhorst and Nurnberg, were not damaged.  The Gneisenau had six men wounded.  The rest of our ships also were undamaged." 

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