One of the panel designs from the new Centenary Memorial Wall to be unveiled in the Falklands capital, Stanley (Photo: courtesy of Richard Cockwell)

100 years on: remembering the sailors lost at Coronel and the Falkland Islands

Date of Event: 08 December 2014
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British and German representatives will take part in joint commemorations being held on the centenary of the Battle of the Falkland Islands today, December 8th 2014.

The events, in the UK and the Falklands, also remember those killed at the Battle of Coronel, the precursor to the clash in the South Atlantic.

In all, several thousand British and German sailors perished in the two actions. 

The Battle of the Falkland Islands marked one of the earliest and most decisive British naval victories of the First World War, and the end of the hunt for the Imperial German Navy's East Asia Squadron.

After Britain's defeat at Coronel off Chile on November 1st 1914, the Royal Navy sent a larger fleet to intercept Vice Admiral Maximilian Graf von Spee's ships as they sailed home from the Pacific. 

Almost 1,900 German lives were lost in the engagement which took place off the Falkland Islands on December 8th. Von Spee and two of his sons were among those killed.

The British, led by Admiral Sir Frederick Doveton Sturdee, lost ten dead.

At Coronel, more than 1,600 Royal Navy sailors had been killed in action, including the commander, Rear Admiral Sir Christopher 'Kit' Cradock.

Reconciliation will be the theme for events on December 8th remembering both the Falklands and Coronel. Descendants of British and German crewmen will be taking part, together with government and military representatives.

The commemorations 

In the Falklands capital, Stanley, the day starts with the German and British flags being raised together by the waterfront.

A commemorative service will be held at Christ Church Cathedral, and wreaths will be laid at the Battle Day memorial and also at the new Centenary Memorial Wall, which has been constructed using local stone. A Commonwealth War Graves Commission plaque will be unveiled at the cemetery.

Phyl Rendell, member of the Legislative Assembly and Chair of the 1914 Committee, told Centenary News: "With substantial losses at both the Battle of Coronel and the Battle of the Falklands, the 100th anniversary events provide an opportunity to reflect on the lives lost from the British and German navies. 

"The community agreed early on in the planning that this commemorative approach, highlighting the tragic loss of life during both battles, should be echoed throughout events on this Centenary year."

"The 1914 Committee are honoured to have amongst our distinguished guests, descendants of Admiral Sir Frederick Sturdee and Rear Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock of the British Navy and of the German Navy’s Vice-Admiral, Maximilian Graf von Spee."


In London, a commemorative service organised by the Falkland Islands Association takes place at the church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square. Admission is by ticket only and applications have closed.   

The service will be attended by representatives of the British and German navies, service organisations and ship associations, as well as descendants of the sailors who took part in the battles.

There will be an Act of Remembrance, with the Last Post and Reveille sounded by a bugler of the Royal Marines band in Portsmouth.

Sources: Falkland Islands Government; Falkland Islands Association

Images courtesy of Richard Cockwell OBE

Posted by CN Deputy Editor

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