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War Memorials

THE BATTLE OF THE FALKLAND ISLANDS - 1914

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The War of 1982 was not the first time the Royal Navy had fought in the Falkland Islands. This is the Memorial in Stanley dedicated to those who died in the sea battle which took place at the end of 1914. 


Falklands 1914 War memorial
The First World War Memorial in Stanley
©Martin Dunkin 

From the Crediton Chronicle

23 June 1915;

 

Chief Petty Officer Grant, serving on HMS Cornwall, writes an interesting account of the Battle of the Falkland Islands, in a letter to his uncle, Mr. J. G. Randall, of Fore street, Tiverton. He writes:

"The Invincible, Implacable, Caernarvon, Cornwall, Kent, Bristol, Glasgow and the Macedonia (armoured merchant ship) arrived at Port Stanley on the afternoon of December 12th (1914). The Canopus was already here as guard ship. The following morning, whilst some of the ships were coaling and others had fires drawn and machinery in pieces, the Canopus signalled that two hostile cruisers were approaching from the north-west. These proved to be the Scharnhorst and the Nürnberg, two scouts of the German fleet. When they came within about 14,000 yards, the Canopus opened the ball with her four 12-inch guns. The enemy replied but their shots fell short.

Meanwhile steam was being raised with all possible speed, and soon all our ships were steaming out of the harbour. By this time, the remainder of the enemy's fleet had put in an appearance. So great was their surprise, however, when they discovered the number of our ships that they at once turned tail and fled. But it was of no avail, for the Inflexible and Invincible soon forged ahead and gained upon them rapidly, opening fire at about 15,000 yards.

The Scharnhorst and Gneisenau kept together, but the Dresden, Leipzig and Nürnberg made off to starboard about 8 points. The Caernarvon, Cornwall, Kent and Glasgow gave chase to these three. The Glasgow forged ahead, and about three o'clock she was engaging with the Leipzig. The flagship (Caernarvon) with Rear-Admiral Stoddard on board, seemed to develop engine trouble, for she gave up the chase. The Glasgow appeared to be in trouble for she steered off to Starboard to a longer range. When we came within range we opened fire on the Leipzig. This was at 4.10 pm and we kept it up till 7.10, by which time she was burning fiercely, and all her funnels and mainmast gone.As her colours were still flying and she still continued to shew fight, we opened fire again at 8 pm, but soon desisted as we saw she was doomed.

At 9.20 they fired two lights for assistance. We lowered the only two sound boats we had and sent them, but at 9.30 she went down suddenly by the bow. It was dark and a difficult task to effect a rescue. The Glasgow came up and we played searchlights around, but we only picked up three, one officer and two men. A boat from the Glasgow also saved three. They told us that it was like hell, our lyddite doing fearful destruction. There were only 18 left alive, and they all jumped overboard. Soon afterwards, we heard of the sinking of the other enemy ships. Too much praise cannot be given to the officers and crew of the Leipzig for they fought well to the last. This was our ship though we shared honours with the Glasgow.

We were fortunate in coming through without a casualty, though we were smashed about a bit inboard, and shall probably have to dock. We had been hit below our armour and soon developed a list to port. During the night it was found necessary to fill coal bunkers with water on the starboard side to counteract it. The only regret is that the Dresden escaped, but we hope to get to her before long."

 

HMSCaernarvon c.1910

HMS Caernarvon c. 1910

Courtesy Steve Johnson

 

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