Battle of Coronel

Battle of Coronel

Overview
The First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 naval Battle of Coronel took place on 1 November 1914 off the coast of central Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

 near the city of Coronel. German Kaiserliche Marine
Kaiserliche Marine
The Imperial German Navy was the German Navy created at the time of the formation of the German Empire. It existed between 1871 and 1919, growing out of the small Prussian Navy and Norddeutsche Bundesmarine, which primarily had the mission of coastal defense. Kaiser Wilhelm II greatly expanded...

forces led by Vice-Admiral Graf Maximilian von Spee
Maximilian von Spee
Vice Admiral Maximilian Reichsgraf von Spee was a German admiral. Although he was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, the counts von Spee belonged to the prominent families of the Rhenish nobility. He joined the Kaiserliche Marine in 1878. In 1887–88 he commanded the Kamerun ports, in German West...

 met and defeated a Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 squadron commanded by Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock
Christopher Cradock
Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher "Kit" George Francis Maurice Cradock KCVO CB was a British officer of the Royal Navy. He was born at Hartforth, Richmond, North Yorkshire...

.

The engagement probably took place as a result of a series of misunderstandings. Neither admiral expected to meet the other in full force. Once the two met, Cradock understood his orders were to fight to the end, despite the odds heavily against him.
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Encyclopedia
The First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 naval Battle of Coronel took place on 1 November 1914 off the coast of central Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

 near the city of Coronel. German Kaiserliche Marine
Kaiserliche Marine
The Imperial German Navy was the German Navy created at the time of the formation of the German Empire. It existed between 1871 and 1919, growing out of the small Prussian Navy and Norddeutsche Bundesmarine, which primarily had the mission of coastal defense. Kaiser Wilhelm II greatly expanded...

forces led by Vice-Admiral Graf Maximilian von Spee
Maximilian von Spee
Vice Admiral Maximilian Reichsgraf von Spee was a German admiral. Although he was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, the counts von Spee belonged to the prominent families of the Rhenish nobility. He joined the Kaiserliche Marine in 1878. In 1887–88 he commanded the Kamerun ports, in German West...

 met and defeated a Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 squadron commanded by Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock
Christopher Cradock
Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher "Kit" George Francis Maurice Cradock KCVO CB was a British officer of the Royal Navy. He was born at Hartforth, Richmond, North Yorkshire...

.

The engagement probably took place as a result of a series of misunderstandings. Neither admiral expected to meet the other in full force. Once the two met, Cradock understood his orders were to fight to the end, despite the odds heavily against him. Although Spee had an easy victory, destroying two enemy armoured cruisers for just three men injured, the engagement also cost him half his supply of ammunition, which was impossible to replace. Shock at the British losses led to an immediate reaction and the sending of more ships which in turn destroyed Spee and the majority of his squadron at the Battle of the Falkland Islands
Battle of the Falkland Islands
The Battle of the Falkland Islands was a British naval victory over the Imperial German Navy on 8 December 1914 during the First World War in the South Atlantic...

.

Prelude



The Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

—with assistance from other Allied navies in the far east—had captured the German colonies of Kaiser-Wilhelmsland
Kaiser-Wilhelmsland
Kaiser-Wilhelmsland was part of the German New Guinea, the South Pacific protectorate of the German Empire. Named in honor of Wilhelm II, who was the German Emperor and King of Prussia, it included the north-eastern part of the present day Papua New Guinea. From 1884 until 1918, the territory...

, Yap
Yap
Yap, also known as Wa'ab by locals, is an island in the Caroline Islands of the western Pacific Ocean. It is a state of the Federated States of Micronesia. Yap's indigenous cultures and traditions are still strong compared to other neighboring islands. The island of Yap actually consists of four...

, Nauru
Nauru
Nauru , officially the Republic of Nauru and formerly known as Pleasant Island, is an island country in Micronesia in the South Pacific. Its nearest neighbour is Banaba Island in Kiribati, to the east. Nauru is the world's smallest republic, covering just...

 and Samoa
Samoa
Samoa , officially the Independent State of Samoa, formerly known as Western Samoa is a country encompassing the western part of the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. It became independent from New Zealand in 1962. The two main islands of Samoa are Upolu and one of the biggest islands in...

 early in the war, instead of searching for Vice-Admiral Maximilian von Spee
Maximilian von Spee
Vice Admiral Maximilian Reichsgraf von Spee was a German admiral. Although he was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, the counts von Spee belonged to the prominent families of the Rhenish nobility. He joined the Kaiserliche Marine in 1878. In 1887–88 he commanded the Kamerun ports, in German West...

's German East Asia Squadron
German East Asia Squadron
The German East Asia Squadron was a German Navy cruiser squadron which operated mainly in the Pacific Ocean between the 1870s and 1914...

 which had abandoned its base at the German concession
Concessions in China
Concessions in China were a group of concession territories within China that were governed and occupied by foreign powers. They are frequently associated with colonialism. Most had extraterritoriality and were enclaves inside key cities that were treaty ports. Other than other minor...

 at Tsingtao
Qingdao
' also known in the West by its postal map spelling Tsingtao, is a major city with a population of over 8.715 million in eastern Shandong province, Eastern China. Its built up area, made of 7 urban districts plus Jimo city, is home to about 4,346,000 inhabitants in 2010.It borders Yantai to the...

 in China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 once Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 entered the war on Britain's side. Eventually, recognising the German squadron's potential for commerce raiding in the Pacific the British Admiralty
Admiralty
The Admiralty was formerly the authority in the Kingdom of England, and later in the United Kingdom, responsible for the command of the Royal Navy...

 belatedly made its elimination a high priority but concentrated the search in the western Pacific
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 after Spee's squadron bombarded Papeete
Bombardment of Papeete
The Bombardment of Papeete occurred in French Polynesia when German warships attacked on 22 September 1914, during World War I. The German armoured cruisers and entered the port of Papeete on the island of Tahiti and sank the French gunboat and freighter Walkure before bombarding the town's...

.

On 5 October, the British learned from an intercepted radio communication of Spee's plan to prey upon shipping in the crucial trading routes along the west coast of South America. Patrolling in the area at that time was Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock
Christopher Cradock
Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher "Kit" George Francis Maurice Cradock KCVO CB was a British officer of the Royal Navy. He was born at Hartforth, Richmond, North Yorkshire...

's South Atlantic Squadron, consisting of the armoured cruisers (Cradock's flagship), and , the modern light cruiser , three other light cruisers, a converted liner——and two other armed merchantmen. Cradock's force was also to have been reinforced from Mediterranean waters by the newer and more powerful armoured cruiser , but ultimately this ship was diverted, the old pre-dreadnought
Pre-dreadnought
Pre-dreadnought battleship is the general term for all of the types of sea-going battleships built between the mid-1890s and 1905. Pre-dreadnoughts replaced the ironclad warships of the 1870s and 1880s...

 battleship
Battleship
A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns. Battleships were larger, better armed and armored than cruisers and destroyers. As the largest armed ships in a fleet, battleships were used to attain command of the sea and represented the apex of a...

  being ordered to join him instead.

The last-minute change in plans meant that the British squadron was composed almost entirely of either obsolete or under-armed vessels, all crewed by inexperienced naval reservists. Both the Monmouth and the Good Hope possessed a large number of 6-inch guns between them, but only the Good Hope was equipped with heavier artillery in the shape of two 9.2-inch guns mounted in single turrets. In contrast, Von Spee had a formidable force of five modern vessels (the armoured cruisers and and the light cruisers , and ), all led by officers handpicked by Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz
Alfred von Tirpitz
Alfred von Tirpitz was a German Admiral, Secretary of State of the German Imperial Naval Office, the powerful administrative branch of the German Imperial Navy from 1897 until 1916. Prussia never had a major navy, nor did the other German states before the German Empire was formed in 1871...

 himself. Both the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau were armed with eight 8-inch guns each, which gave them an overwhelming advantage in range and firepower. The latter advantage was further compounded by the fact that the crews of both ships had earned accolades for their gunnery skill prior to the war.

Nevertheless, Cradock was ordered simply to "be prepared to meet them in company" with no effort made to clarify what action Cradock was expected to take, should he find von Spee. On receiving his orders, Cradock asked the Admiralty for permission to split his fleet into two forces, each able to face von Spee independently. The fleets would operate on the east and west coasts of South America to counter the possibility of von Spee slipping past Cradock and raiding into the Atlantic
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

. The Admiralty agreed and the east coast squadron, consisting of three cruisers and two armed merchantmen, was formed under Rear-Admiral A. P. Stoddart.

The remaining vessels formed Cradock’s west coast squadron which was reinforced by HMS Canopus which finally arrived on 18 October. Reprieved from its scheduled scrapping by the outbreak of war and badly in need of an overhaul, her top speed was only 12 kn (14.6 mph; 23.5 km/h), or about two thirds her design speed and just over half that of the remainder of the squadron. The Admiralty recognised that her slow speed meant the fleet would not be fast enough to force an engagement and also that without the Canopus the fleet stood no chance against von Spee. Cradock was told to use Canopus as "a citadel around which all our cruisers in those waters could find absolute security" or in other words, keep contact with von Spee while avoiding any risky engagements.

The Chief of the Admiralty War Staff—Vice-Admiral Sir Doveton Sturdee
Doveton Sturdee
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Frederick Charles Doveton Sturdee, 1st Baronet, GCB, KCMG, CVO was a British admiral.-Naval career:...

—requested additional ships be sent to reinforce Cradock, but this was vetoed by First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 and First Sea Lord of the Admiralty
First Sea Lord
The First Sea Lord is the professional head of the Royal Navy and the whole Naval Service; it was formerly known as First Naval Lord. He also holds the title of Chief of Naval Staff, and is known by the abbreviations 1SL/CNS...

, Prince Louis of Battenberg. Cradock's later request for HMS Defence to rejoin him was denied on the grounds that Canopus was "sufficient reinforcement".

Opening gambit


On 22 October, Cradock cabled the Admiralty that he was going to round Cape Horn
Cape Horn
Cape Horn is the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago of southern Chile, and is located on the small Hornos Island...

 and was leaving Canopus behind to escort his collier
Collier (ship type)
Collier is a historical term used to describe a bulk cargo ship designed to carry coal, especially for naval use by coal-fired warships. In the late 18th century a number of wooden-hulled sailing colliers gained fame after being adapted for use in voyages of exploration in the South Pacific, for...

s. Admiral John Fisher replaced Battenberg as First Sea Lord on 27 October, and the following day Fisher ordered Cradock not to engage von Spee without Canopus. He then ordered HMS Defence to reinforce Cradock.

The previous week Cradock had sent Glasgow to Montevideo
Montevideo
Montevideo is the largest city, the capital, and the chief port of Uruguay. The settlement was established in 1726 by Bruno Mauricio de Zabala, as a strategic move amidst a Spanish-Portuguese dispute over the platine region, and as a counter to the Portuguese colony at Colonia del Sacramento...

 to pick up any messages the Admiralty may have sent. Von Spee, having learned of the presence of Glasgow off Coronel, sailed south from Valparaíso
Valparaíso
Valparaíso is a city and commune of Chile, center of its third largest conurbation and one of the country's most important seaports and an increasing cultural center in the Southwest Pacific hemisphere. The city is the capital of the Valparaíso Province and the Valparaíso Region...

 with all five warships with the intention of destroying her. Glasgow, however, intercepted radio traffic from one of the German cruisers and informed Cradock who turned his fleet north to intercept the cruiser.

Given von Spee’s superiority in speed, firepower, efficiency and numbers, why Cradock chose to engage puzzles historians. It is known that a friend of Cradock was at that time awaiting Court-martial
Court-martial
A court-martial is a military court. A court-martial is empowered to determine the guilt of members of the armed forces subject to military law, and, if the defendant is found guilty, to decide upon punishment.Most militaries maintain a court-martial system to try cases in which a breach of...

 for failing to engage a superior enemy and he had been told by the Admiralty that his force was "sufficient". The accepted view among Cradock's colleagues was that he was "constitutionally incapable of refusing action". The more common explanation is that Cradock, knowing his mission was impossible, wanted to damage von Spee and force him to use ammunition he could not replace. On 31 October, he ordered his squadron to adopt an attacking formation. Both sides likely expected a single ship until they sighted each other at 16:40 on 1 November.

Battle


On 31 October, Glasgow entered Coronel harbour to collect messages and news from the British consul. Also in harbour was a supply ship—Göttingen—working for Spee, which immediately radioed with the news of the British ship entering harbour. Glasgow meanwhile was listening to radio traffic, which suggested that German warships were close. Matters were confused, because the German ships had been instructed to all use the same call sign, that of Leipzig. Spee decided to move his ships to Coronel, to trap Glasgow, while Admiral Cradock hurried north to catch Leipzig. Neither side realised the other's main force was nearby.

At 09:15 on 1 November, Glasgow left port to meet Cradock at noon, 40 mi (34.8 nmi; 64.4 km) west of Coronel. Seas were stormy so that it was impossible to send a boat between the ships to deliver the messages, which had to be transferred on a line floated in the sea. At 13:50, the ships formed into a line of battle
Line of battle
In naval warfare, the line of battle is a tactic in which the ships of the fleet form a line end to end. A primitive form had been used by the Portuguese under Vasco Da Gama in 1502 near Malabar against a Muslim fleet.,Maarten Tromp used it in the Action of 18 September 1639 while its first use in...

 15 mi (13 nmi; 24.1 km) apart and started to steam north at 10 kn (12.2 mph; 19.6 km/h) searching for Leipzig. At 16:17, Leipzig, accompanied by the other German ships, spotted smoke from the British line. Von Spee ordered full speed so that Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Leipzig were approaching the British at 20 kn (24.4 mph; 39.2 km/h), with the slower light cruisers Dresden and Nürnberg some way behind.

At 16:20, Glasgow and Otranto saw smoke to the north, and then three ships at a range of 12 mi (10.4 nmi; 19.3 km). The British reversed direction, so that both fleets were moving south, and a chase began which lasted 90 minutes. Cradock was faced with a choice; he could either take his three cruisers capable of 20 kn (24.4 mph; 39.2 km/h), abandon Otranto and run from the Germans, or stay and fight with Otranto, which could only manage 16 kn (19.5 mph; 31.4 km/h). The German ships slowed at a range of 15000 yd (13,716 m) to reorganise themselves for best positions, and to await best visibility, when the British to their west would be outlined against the setting sun.

At 17:10, Cradock decided he must fight, and drew his ships closer together. He changed course to south-east and attempted to close upon the German ships while the sun remained high. Von Spee declined to engage and turned his faster ships away, maintaining the distance between the forces which sailed roughly parallel at a distance of 14000 yd (12,801.6 m). At 18:18, Cradock again attempted to close, steering directly towards the enemy, which once again turned away to a greater range of 18000 yd (16,459.2 m). At 18:50, the sun set; Spee closed to 12000 yd (10,972.8 m) and commenced firing.
The German ships had sixteen 8.2 in (208.3 mm) guns of comparable range to the two 9.2 in (233.7 mm) guns on Good Hope. One of these was hit within five minutes of the engagement starting. Of the remaining 6 in (152.4 mm) guns on the British ships, most were in casemates along the sides of the ships, which continually flooded if the gun doors were opened to fire in heavy seas. The merchant cruiser Otranto—having only 4 in (101.6 mm) guns and being a much larger target than the other ships—retired west at full speed.

With the British 6-inch guns having insufficient range to match the German 8-inch guns, Cradock attempted to close on the German ships. By 19:30, he had reached 6000 yd (5,486.4 m), but as he closed the German fire became correspondingly more accurate. Both Good Hope and Monmouth were on fire, presenting easy targets to the German gunners now that darkness had fallen, whereas the German ships had disappeared into the dark. Monmouth was first to be silenced. Good Hope continued firing, continuing to close on the German ships and receiving more and more fire. By 19:50, she had also ceased firing; subsequently her forward section exploded, then she broke apart and sank, with no one actually witnessing the sinking.
Scharnhorst switched firing towards Monmouth, while Gneisenau joined Leipzig and Dresden which had been engaging Glasgow. The German light cruisers had only 4.1 in (104.1 mm) guns, which had left Glasgow relatively unscathed, but these were now joined by the 8.2-inch guns of Gneisenau. John Luce
John Luce (Royal Navy officer)
Rear Admiral John Luce CB was a senior officer in the Royal Navy during and after World War I.-Early and family life:...

 — captain of Glasgow — determined that nothing was to be gained by staying and attempting to fight. It was noticed that each time he fired, the flash of his guns was used by the Germans to aim a new salvo, so he also ceased firing. One compartment of the ship was flooded, but she could still manage 24 kn (29.2 mph; 47 km/h). He returned first to Monmouth, which was now dark but still afloat. Nothing was to be done for the ship, which was sinking slowly but would attempt to beach on the Chilean coast. Glasgow turned south and departed.

There was some confusion amongst the German ships as to the fate of the two armoured cruisers, which had disappeared into the dark once they ceased firing, and a hunt began. Leipzig saw something burning, but on approaching found only wreckage. Nürnberg—slower than the other German ships—arrived late at the battle and sighted Monmouth, listing and badly damaged but still moving. After pointedly directing his searchlights at the ship's ensign
White Ensign
The White Ensign or St George's Ensign is an ensign flown on British Royal Navy ships and shore establishments. It consists of a red St George's Cross on a white field with the Union Flag in the upper canton....

, an invitation to surrender—which was declined—he opened fire, finally sinking the ship. Without firm information, von Spee decided that Good Hope had escaped and called off the search at 22:15. Mindful of the reports that a British battleship was around somewhere, he turned north.

With no survivors from either Good Hope or Monmouth, 1,600 British officers and men were dead with Cradock among them. Glasgow and Otranto both escaped (the former suffering five hits and five wounded men). Just two shells had struck Scharnhorst, neither of which exploded: one 6-inch shell hit above the armour belt and penetrated to a storeroom where, in von Spee's words, "the creature just lay there as a kind of greeting." Another struck a funnel. In return, Scharnhorst had managed at least 35 hits on Good Hope, but at the expense of 422 8.2-inch shells, leaving her with 350. Four shells had struck Gneisenau, one of which nearly flooded the officers' wardroom. A shell from Glasgow struck her after turret and temporarily knocked it out. Three of Gneisenaus men were wounded; she expended 244 of her shells and had 528 left.

Aftermath


Von Spee commented afterward on the British tactics. He had been misinformed that the battleship Canopus sighted in the area was a relatively modern Queen-class ship, whereas it was a similar appearing, old and barely seaworthy Canopus-class battleship
Canopus class battleship
The Canopus class was a group of six pre-dreadnought battleships of the Royal Navy which were designed by Sir William White for use in the Far East and entered service between 1899 and 1902. The lead ship was which was followed by , , , and...

, but nonetheless had four 12 in (304.8 mm) guns and ten 6-inch guns. Von Spee believed he would have lost the engagement had all the British ships been together. Despite his victory he was pessimistic of the real harm done to the British navy, and also of his own chances of survival. Cradock had been less convinced of the value of Canopus, being too slow at 12 knots to allow his other ships freedom of movement and manned only by inexperienced reservists.

The official explanation of the defeat as presented to the House of Commons by Winston Churchill stated: "feeling he could not bring the enemy immediately to action as long as he kept with Canopus, he decided to attack them with his fast ships alone, in the belief that even if he himself were destroyed... he would inflict damage on them which ...would lead to their certain subsequent destruction."

On 3 November, Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Nürnberg entered Valparaiso harbour and were welcomed as heroes by the German population. Von Spee refused to join in the celebrations: presented with a bunch of flowers he commented, "these will do nicely for my grave". He was to die with most of the men on his ships approximately one month later at the Battle of the Falkland Islands
Battle of the Falkland Islands
The Battle of the Falkland Islands was a British naval victory over the Imperial German Navy on 8 December 1914 during the First World War in the South Atlantic...

, on 8 December 1914.

Lines of communication


On 30 October, before the battle but due to communications delays too late to have any effect, Admiral Jacky Fisher was re-appointed First Sea Lord
First Sea Lord
The First Sea Lord is the professional head of the Royal Navy and the whole Naval Service; it was formerly known as First Naval Lord. He also holds the title of Chief of Naval Staff, and is known by the abbreviations 1SL/CNS...

, replacing Battenberg. Battenberg and Churchill had been considerably preoccupied with fighting to retain Battenberg, a German prince, as first sea lord against widespread concerns that the senior British Admiral was running a war against the land of his birth. Battenberg was a proven and reliable admiral, but eventually had to be replaced in the face of public opinion. However, the whole crisis drew the attention of the most senior officers of the admiralty away from events in South America. Churchill later claimed that if he had not been distracted, he would have questioned more deeply the intentions of his admiral at sea.

A signal from Cradock was received by Churchill on 27 October, advising his intention to leave Canopus behind, because of her slow speed, and as previously instructed to take his remaining ships in search of Spee. He re-stated that he was still expecting reinforcements in the form of , which he had previously been told was coming, and that he had given orders for her to follow him as soon as possible. Although Defence had once been sent to reinforce Cradock, it had then been recalled part way, returned to the Mediterranean and then been sent again to form part of a new squadron patrolling the eastern coast of South America. A misunderstanding had arisen between Cradock and the admiralty over how ships were to be assigned and used. Cradock believed he was expected to advance against von Spee with those forces he had, whereas the Admiralty expected him to exercise caution, centering upon Canopus for defence, and merely to scout the enemy or take advantage of any situation where he might come across part of the enemy force. Churchill replied to the signal telling Cradock that Defence was to remain on the east coast and that Cradock was considered to have sufficient forces for his task, making no comment about his plan to abandon Canopus. Churchill had passed on the message to the admiralty staff saying he did not properly understand what Cradock intended.
Cradock probably received Churchill's reply on 1 November with the messages collected by Glasgow at Coronel, giving him time to read it before the battle. Thus Cradock would have taken the message as final confirmation that he was doing what was expected. Departing from Stanley
Stanley, Falkland Islands
Stanley is the capital and only true cityin the Falkland Islands. It is located on the isle of East Falkland, on a north-facing slope in one of the wettest parts of the islands. At the 2006 census, the city had a population of 2,115...

 he had left behind a letter to be forwarded to Admiral of the Fleet Sir Hedworth Meux
Hedworth Meux
Admiral of the Fleet The Hon Sir Hedworth Meux GCB KCVO , formerly The Hon Hedworth Lambton was an English naval officer famous for bringing help to the British forces in the Siege of Ladysmith....

 in the event of his death. In this, he commented that he did not intend to suffer the fate of Rear-Admiral Troubridge, who in August had been court-martialled for failing to engage the enemy despite the odds being against him, during the pursuit of Goeben and Breslau
Pursuit of Goeben and Breslau
The pursuit of Goeben and Breslau was a naval action that occurred in the Mediterranean Sea at the outbreak of the First World War when elements of the British Mediterranean Fleet attempted to intercept the German Mittelmeerdivision comprising the battlecruiser and the light cruiser...

. In Troubridge's case, the German ships had slipped past him and escaped, and it was possible that von Spee might do the same, rounding the Horn and heading for Germany if he did not intervene. The governor of the Falklands reported that Cradock had not expected to survive, as did the governor's aide. Luce reported that "Cradock was constitutionally incapable of refusing or even postponing action if there was the smallest chance of success".

On 3 November, Fisher in London received news from Valparaiso that Spee had been sighted. He urgently gave orders for Defence to join Cradock, and stressing the need to keep Canopus together with the other ships. On 4 November, German reports of the battle started to reach London.

British response


This was Britain's first naval defeat since the Battle of Lake Champlain
Battle of Plattsburgh
The Battle of Plattsburgh, also known as the Battle of Lake Champlain, ended the final invasion of the northern states during the War of 1812...

 in the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

 and the first of a British naval squadron since the Battle of Grand Port
Battle of Grand Port
The Battle of Grand Port was a naval battle between squadrons of frigates from the French Navy and the British Royal Navy. The battle was fought during 20–27 August 1810 over possession of the harbour of Grand Port on Île de France during the Napoleonic Wars...

 in 1810. Six weeks earlier, a German submarine had sunk three British cruisers
Action of 22 September 1914
The Action of 22 September 1914 was a naval engagement that took place during the First World War, in which three Royal Navy cruisers were sunk by one German submarine while on patrol. Approximately 1450 sailors were killed, and there was a public outcry at the losses...

 patrolling the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

.

Once news of the scale of the British defeat, and its consequent humiliation, reached the British Admiralty in London, a new naval force was assembled under Vice-Admiral Sturdee. This found and destroyed Spee's force at the Battle of the Falkland Islands
Battle of the Falkland Islands
The Battle of the Falkland Islands was a British naval victory over the Imperial German Navy on 8 December 1914 during the First World War in the South Atlantic...

.

Glasgow escaping the battle steamed south for three days at 20 knots passing through the Straits of Magellan. Canopus—warned by Glasgows messages—turned about and headed back at the best speed she could manage, 9 kn (11 mph; 17.6 km/h). On 6 November, the two ships met and proceeded slowly towards the Falkland isles. Twice during the voyage Canopus had to report that the ship was not under control. After coaling, both ships were ordered north, but again Canopus broke down. She was finally ordered to be beached in the inner part of Stanley Harbour
Stanley Harbour
Stanley Harbour is a large inlet on the east coast of East Falkland island. A strait called "the Narrows" leads into Port William.It serves the town of the same name - Stanley - as a harbour. Stanley has sprawled along the south shore of the harbour, to gain shelter from the low hill of Stanley...

, where she could serve as a defensive battery.

Otranto steamed 200 miles out into the Pacific ocean, before turning south and passing around Cape Horn. On 4 November the admiralty issued orders for the surviving ships to move to the Abrolhos Rocks
Abrolhos Marine National Park
The Abrolhos Marine National Park is a Marine Park located in the Abrolhos Archipelago since 1983.The Abrolhos are an archipelago of 5 islands with coral reefs off the southern coast of Bahia state in the northeast of Brazil, between 17º25’—18º09’ S and 38º33’—39º05’ W.-External links:***...

, where a new force was being assembled. Rear-Admiral Archibald Stoddart—with the armoured cruisers and —was to meet them there and await the arrival of Defence. Sturdee was ordered to travel with the battlecruisers and —then attached to the Grand Fleet in the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

—to command a new squadron with clear superiority over von Spee.

Legacy


The Coronel Memorial Library at Royal Roads Military College
Royal Roads Military College
Royal Roads Military College was a Canadian military college located in Hatley Park, Colwood, British Columbia near Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The facility is currently being used as the campus for Royal Roads University, a public university that offers applied and professional academic...

, now Royal Roads University
Royal Roads University
Royal Roads University is a public university located in Colwood, Greater Victoria, British Columbia, that describes itself as "Canada's University for Working Professionals".-Overview:...

 in Victoria, British Columbia
Victoria, British Columbia
Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia, Canada and is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island off Canada's Pacific coast. The city has a population of about 78,000 within the metropolitan area of Greater Victoria, which has a population of 360,063, the 15th most populous Canadian...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 was named in honour of the Battle of Coronel
Battle of Coronel
The First World War naval Battle of Coronel took place on 1 November 1914 off the coast of central Chile near the city of Coronel. German Kaiserliche Marine forces led by Vice-Admiral Graf Maximilian von Spee met and defeated a Royal Navy squadron commanded by Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher...


Reference list

  • Gerhard Wiechmann (2004). Vom Auslandsdienst in Mexiko zur Seeschlacht von Coronel. Kapitän Karl von Schönberg. Reisetagebuch 1913-1914 (From foreign service in Mexiko to the sea battle of Coronel. Captain Karl von Schönberg. Voyage diary 1913-1914). Bochum: Dr. Winkler Verlag. ISBN 3899110366. ISBN 978-3899110364.

External links