Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Falkland Islands, Battle of

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FALKLAND ISLANDS, BATTLE OF, a naval engagement fought Dec. 8, 1914, between a British squadron led by Rear-Admiral Sir Frederick Sturdee and the German Far East squadron under Admiral Von Spee. On Nov. 1 of the same year the German squadron had met the British squadron under Admiral Cradock off the coast of Chile and had sunk the “Good Hope” and the “Monmouth,” the “Glasgow” and the transport “Otranto” averting destruction by flight. It was as a consequence of this disaster that a powerful squadron was sent out by the British to search for Admiral Von Spee's fleet. On Dec. 9 the two squadrons came in sight of each other. On the German side were the cruisers “Gneisenau” and “Scharnhorst,” and the light cruisers “Nürnberg,” “Leipzig” and “Dresden.” These vessels mounted 16 8.2-inch, 12 5.9-inch, 32 4.1-inch, 40 3.4-inch, and 12 2.1-inch guns. The contest was a brief one. Following it the British Admiralty announced that the “Scharnhorst,” flying the flag of Admiral Count Von Spee, the “Gneisenau” and the “Leipzig” had been sunk. The “Dresden” and the “Nürnberg” made off during the action and were pursued. Two colliers were captured. The British casualties were few in number, and there were few German survivors from the foundered vessels. “Nürnberg” was speedily overtaken and sunk, but the “Dresden” roamed the seas for months and was finally sunk off Juan Fernandez on March 14, 1915. In the squadron of Rear-Admiral Sturdee were two battle cruisers, the “Invincible” and the “Inflexible,” armed with 12-inch guns and capable of a speed of 28 knots, and three armored cruisers, the “Carnarvon,” “Kent” and “Cornwall.” These were supplemented by the “Glasgow,” which had been in the previous engagement. The Germans had been brought to battle by a ruse. They had come expecting to find a single British warship, and were suddenly confronted by Sturdee's powerful squadron steaming out of a land-locked harbor. The ice-cold water is given among the causes that prevented the rescue of survivors, just as the victors in the battle off the coast of Chile had been prevented by the heavy seas to save the defeated crews. It is stated also that many while in the water were attacked by the albatrosses which picked at their eyes. As a result of the struggle with the vultures the weakened members of the crew slipped off the debris and were lost.

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