The History Book Club discussion


Comments Showing 1-13 of 13 (13 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Apr 01, 2010 07:28AM) (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
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. The British, embarrassed by a defeat at the Battle of Coronel on 1 November, sent a large force to track down and destroy the German cruiser squadron responsible.

Admiral Graf Maximilian von Spee commanding the German squadron of two armoured cruisers, SMS Scharnhorst and SMS Gneisenau, three light cruisers, Nürnberg, Dresden and Leipzig, and three auxiliaries attempted to raid the British supply base at Stanley on the Falkland Isles. A larger British squadron of two battlecruisers, HMS Invincible and HMS Inflexible, three armoured cruisers, HMS Carnarvon, HMS Cornwall and HMS Kent, and two light cruisers, HMS Bristol and HMS Glasgow, had arrived in the port only the day before.

Visibility was at its maximum: the sea was placid with a gentle breeze from the north west, the sun bright, the sky clear. The advance cruisers of the German squadron had been detected early on, and by nine o'clock that morning the British battlecruisers and cruisers were in hot pursuit of the five German vessels, these having taken flight in line abreast to the south-east. All except Dresden and the auxiliary Seydlitz were hunted down and sunk.

Coronel was the first British defeat at sea for a hundred years. The outrage was enormous and the British decided to go after the culprit (Spee).

Admiral Sir John Fisher, who had become First Sea Lord on 31 October, at once set in motion a panoceanic redeployment of forces designed to intercept Spee wherever he moved. Spee's undoing was his decision to act aggressively and attack the British Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic. The British finished off Spee after the humiliation of the Coronel and this victory of the Falklands terminated the high seas activity of the German navy. It wasn't until October 1915 that the German U-boats surfaced

Source: Wikipedia

Battle of the Coronel: (November 1, 1914)

The World War I 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 Cradock.

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 it 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.

The First World War by John Keegan John Keegan John Keegan

Source: Keegan - 214 - 215

message 2: by 'Aussie Rick' (last edited Apr 01, 2010 05:27PM) (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) One good book covering these early naval battles is;

Graf Spee's Raiders Challenge to the Royal Navy, 1914-1915 by Keith Yates Graf Spee's Raiders: Challenge to the Royal Navy, 1914-1915
by Keith Yates

message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Thank you for the add Aussie Rick.

message 4: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4355 comments Mod
The Long Pursuit

The Long Pursuit by Richard Hough by Richard Hough (no photo)


This naval history tells the dramatic story of the destruction of Germany's East Asiatic Squadron in the opening weeks of the World War I. This crack force of armoured cruisers, led by Vice-Admiral von Spee, had the potential to be a menace to Allied shipping in the Pacific. On Winston Churchill's orders, a flotilla was dispatched to find and destroy the German warships. However, at the Bay of Coronel, it was the ships of the Royal Navy that were destroyed by von Spee's cruisers. Britain was stunned by the news. The Admiralty sent two powerful battle cruisers to deal with the German squadron once and for all. While refuelling at the Falkland Islands, the British were surprised to see von Spee appear over the horizon. He believed the islands to be unprotected. This was a fatal mistake. In the pursuit that followed, all but one of the German ships was sunk and there were few survivors. This was the last naval action fought without fear of mines, torpedoes or aircraft.

message 5: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4355 comments Mod
Coronel and the Falklands

Coronel and the Falklands by Geoffrey Martin Bennett by Geoffrey Martin Bennett (no photo)


The outbreak of World War I saw some deadly battles on the high seas in isolated areas, where the crews of sinking ships had little hope of rescue. Germany's China Squadron, including the Scharnhorst and Gneisnau, made an epic voyage across the Pacific to attack British forces in South America. Admiral Cradock found himself outgunned by the Germans at Coronel and went down with most of his ships and crews. The Germans then advanced on the British communications and refueling station in the Falkland Islands but were sunk by a new British fleet; only a few German sailors were rescued. This tense tale also examines the issue of Britain's preparedness for naval warfare in 1914.

message 6: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4355 comments Mod
Coronel and Falkland: Two Great Naval Battles of the First World War

Coronel and Falkland Two Great Naval Battles of the First World War by Barrie Pitt by Barrie Pitt


Two great battles at sea--and the ultimate triumph of British revenge. In 1914, Great Britain's naval supremacy was challenged as the Imperial German Navy shattered their fleet at Coronel, in Chile. Under orders from First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill and Lord Fisher, First Sea Lord, a powerful force set sail to the southern seas. And, when the Germans went to attack the Falklands, the British were ready and waiting.

message 7: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4355 comments Mod
The Battle of the Falkland Islands 1914: The Royal Navy at War in the South Atlantic in the Early Days of the First World War

The Battle of the Falkland Islands 1914 The Royal Navy at War in the South Atlantic in the Early Days of the First World War by Henry Edmund Harvey Spencer-Cooper by Henry Edmund Harvey Spencer-Cooper (no photo)


In the final months of the first year of the First World War a squadron of the Imperial German Navy under von Spee decisively destroyed a weaker British force under Cradock off the coast of South America. This action in the Southern Pacific, known as the Battle of Coronel (after the nearest coastal town in Chile) delivered a decisive blow to the prestige and perception of British sea power and prompted a determined and powerfully resourced retaliatory response from the British Admiralty which would lead to the events described in this book, the Battle of the Falkland Islands.

The German cruiser squadron comprised two armoured cruisers, Scharnorst, Gneisenau, three light cruisers, Nurnberg, Dresden and Leipzig plus three auxiliary support vessels. After his Coronel victory, von Spee had sailed his squadron south with the intention of raiding the supply base at Port Stanley in the Falklands in the South Atlantic, when on December 8th, 1914 it was brought to engagement by the avenging stronger British force under Doveton Sturdee comprising the battle cruisers Invincible and Inflexible, the armoured cruisers Carnarvon, Cornwall and Kent and two light cruisers Bristol and Glasgow. The outcome was perhaps as inevitable as it was intended to be. Only two German vessels escaped being sunk. Students of naval history will know that for a century the Royal Navy's dominance of the seaways had meant that it had fought few major engagements since Trafalgar. The First World War was dominated by the Battle of Jutland. So this account of modern warships in action is of vital interest. Available in softcover and hardback for collectors.

message 8: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Sir John "Jackie" Fisher, First Sea Lord as a result of the battle of the Falklands, totally revised the approach to British naval superiority. This book tells the story of this feisty little Admiral's naval revolution.

Sir John Fisher's Naval Revolution

Sir John Fisher's Naval Revolution by Nicholas A. Lambert by Nicholas A. Lambert(no photo)


For most of the 20th century, historians have thought that British naval policy was driven by the Anglo-German arms race. After examining a quantity of primary sources, Lambert concludes that Admiralty decision-making was in fact driven by factors unrelated to the German building programme. This volume explores the intrigue and negotiations between the Admiralty and leading domestic politicians and social reformer of the day, such as Herbert H. Asquith, David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill. Lambert also explains how Britain's naval leaders responded to these non-military, cultural chanllenges under the direction of Adimiral Sir John Fisher, the service head of the Admiralty from 1904 to 1910, who believed in a radically new approach to naval defence. For mainly political reasons, however, Fisher concealed his military technological revolution and worked surreptitiously to create a new model fleet capable of protecting all of Britain's imperial interests across the globe.

message 9: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4355 comments Mod
Fisher is an interesting character. I remember a quote of his to King Edward VII from one of Margaret MacMillan's books: "Why should I waste my time looking at all sides when I know my side is the right side?"

The War That Ended Peace The Road To 1914 by Margaret MacMillan by Margaret MacMillan (no photo)

message 10: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) I got a good recommendation from a HBC member for a book on Fisher by a great historian but haven't found it yet.

Fisher's Face by Jan Morris by Jan Morris Jan Morris

message 11: by Jerome, Assisting Moderator - Upcoming Books and Releases (new)

Jerome | 4355 comments Mod
The Battles of Coronel and the Falklands: British Naval Campaigns in the Southern Hemisphere 1914-1915

The Battles of Coronel and the Falklands British Naval Campaigns in the Southern Hemisphere 1914-1915 by Phil Carradice by Phil Carradice (no photo)


The Battles of Coronel and the Falklands: British Naval Campaigns in the Southern Hemisphere 1914-1915 tells the story of British cruiser warfare and naval strategy in the Southern Atlantic in 1914 and 1915. This was the last naval campaign that was fought by surface warships without the intrusion of modern technology such as aircraft, submarines, mines, etc. German commerce raiders had been at large in the southern oceans since the declaration of war on 4 August 1914 and it was imperative that British forces should hunt and destroy them before they caused untold damage to British trade.The campaign to bring a German squadron to battle met with disaster (the Battle of Coronel) before final victory at the Falklands Islands. Individual raiders like the Emden, Dresden and Konigsburg were also hunted and destroyed in a fascinating series of actions where bravery and courage were displayed by both sides.

message 12: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) The memoirs of a young RN surgeon who was in the Falklands during the Great War.

The Enemy Fought Splendidly

The Enemy Fought Splendidly Being the 1914-1915 Diary of the Battle of the Falklands & Its Aftermath by T.B. Dixon by T.B. Dixon (no photo)


With the start of World War I in 1914 Thomas Benjamin Dixon found himself, at the age of twenty-eight, as a recently commissioned junior surgeon on H.M.S. Kent, bound for the waters of South America. Behind him he left his friends, his medical practice and his young wife who was expecting their second child. Dogged by seasickness and the strangeness of his new surroundings, Dixon nevertheless threw himself wholeheartedly into life aboard ship and in his spare time chronicled both the tedium of chasing tramp steamers and coaling at sea and the excitement of coming face to face with the enemy. The diary that he produced tells simply and movingly the story of his own struggles, and of the struggles of the world outside where dying empires were locked in conflict.

message 13: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) The story of the German Commander von Spee and how his squadron ended up at the Battle of the Falklands.

Death at Sea: Graf Spee and the Flight of the German East Asiatic Naval Squadron

Death at Sea Graf Spee and the Flight of the German East Asiatic Naval Squadron in 1914 by Eric Dorn Brose by Eric Dorn Brose (no photo)


Death at Sea is the story of Graf Maximilian von Spee, commander of the German squadron in China at the outbreak of World War One. His was a powerful flotilla, but not powerful enough to remain in Asia, where the ships of Britain, France, Russia, and Japan could destroy him. If Graf Spee fled the Far East, however, attractive options beckoned. By sailing into the heart of the British Empire surrounding the Indian Ocean he could disrupt commerce and troop movements and perhaps spark rebellion in India. But if he sailed east across the Pacific and into the Atlantic, all the way around the world to Germany to reinforce the home fleet, together they represented a significant threat to the British navy. It all depended on what he decided to do. To a significant extent the outcome of World War One also depended on what he decided to do. Death at Sea is the novelistic history of what happened to Graf Spee's squadron and the ships that Britain deployed in an anxiety-charged effort to eliminate the menacing German threat. Opposing naval tactics and gunnery skills combined with the "fog of war," questionable leadership, and fatalistic personalities on both sides to determine the outcome.

back to top