Vice-Admiral Graf Spee's Cruiser Squadron

Discussion in 'World War 1' started by liverpool annie, Jan 13, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    In the start of August 1914 Germany had only one squadron overseas, the East Asia Squadron based at Tsingtao under the command of Vice-Admiral Graf Maximilian von Spee. The squadron consisted of the armoured cruisers SMS Scharnhorst (flag) and Gneisenau and the light cruisers Emden, Leipzig and Nürnberg. The only other German cruisers outside Europe at that time were the Königsberg in East Africa and the Dresden and Karlsruhe in the Caribbean. All these ships were modern with officers hand picked by Tirpitz himself and hand picked crews, it was the best cruiser squadron in the German navy and possibly the world.

    Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Nürnberg sailed for the German base at Pagan, arriving on August 11 to find several German merchant ships there. Emden arrived a day later. The German captains held a conference to decide tactics. Karl von Muller of the Emden asked that his ship be sent to the Indian Ocean as a lone raider, the other cruisers remaining together.

    On August 13 they left Pagan and the following morning Emden and her collier Markomannia left for the Indian Ocean.
    August 19 they coaled at Eniwetok, several of the supply ships being detached to buy more supplies. Nürnberg was sent to Hawaii to send messages and arrange supplies.

    On September 6 the squadron arrived at Christmas Island to find that Nürnberg had already arrived. The following day Nürnberg destroyed the wireless station at Fanning Island.

    Scharnhorst and Gneisenau raided the harbour at Western Samoa a week later but found no targets. They then raided Papeete on Tahiti, the French Fort there opened fire but was quickly silenced as well as sinking the gunboat Zelee and the merchant ship Walkure. The French set fire to the islands coal supplies to prevent their capture.

    They rejoined with the Nürnberg on September 26 and after supplying from the Marquesas Isles set sail for Easter Island, arriving on October 12. It had been decided to head east as there were too many Allied warships looking for them in the Western Pacific, including British, French and Russian cruisers, the Australian Navy including the battlecruiser HMAS Australia and the powerful Japanese Navy when they entered the war on August 23
  2. cally

    cally New Member

    Here is a small photo-gallery showing the East Asia Squadron led by Vice-Admiral Graf-Spee, who was a fine leader accorded great respect by both the Germans and British alike.

    The cruisers Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Emden, Leipzig and Nurnberg.

    Attached Files:

  3. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Maximilian Graf (Count) von Spee was a German admiral, born in Copenhagen, Denmark, who joined the Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial German Navy) in 1878.

    In 1887–88 he commanded the Kamerun ports, in German West Africa. Before World War I he held a number of senior positions relating to weapons development, before being appointed Chief of Staff of the North Sea Command in 1908, rising to Rear Admiral on 27 January 1910.

    He was given command of the German East Asia Squadron in 1912 with the rank of Vice-Admiral, based at Tsingtao within the German concession in China. His officers had been handpicked by Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, while his armored cruisers were among the newest in the fleet. However, his ships would soon be made obsolete by the creation of the battlecruiser.
    First World War

    From the outbreak of the First World War his command concentrated on destroying Allied commercial and troop shipping, with considerable success. However, Spee was wary of the Allies' strength, especially the Imperial Japanese Navy and the Royal Australian Navy — in fact he described the latter's flagship, the battlecruiser HMAS Australia, as being superior to his entire force by itself. Consequently to avoid it being trapped within Tsingtao, Spee's squadron moved towards South America.

    At the Battle of Coronel, off the coast of Chile, on 1 November 1914, Spee's force engaged and sank two British armored cruisers commanded by Sir Christopher Cradock; HMS Good Hope and HMS Monmouth. Both of the British ships were outclassed in both gunnery and seamanship. Admiral Spee's report of action off Coronel, Chile on November 2, 1914, can be found in the World War I document archive maintained by Richard Hacken at Brigham Young University.

    On 8 December 1914, Spee's force attempted a raid on the coaling station at Stanley in the Falkland Islands, unaware that the previous month the British had sent two modern fast battlecruisers HMS Inflexible and HMS Invincible to protect the islands and avenge the defeat at Coronel, and there were also five cruisers, HMS Carnarvon, HMS Cornwall, HMS Kent, HMS Bristol and HMS Glasgow, at the Stanley naval base. In the ensuing Battle of the Falkland Islands, Spee's flagship, SMS Scharnhorst, together with SMS Gneisenau, SMS Nürnberg and SMS Leipzig were all lost, together with some 2,200 German sailors, including Spee's two sons. The admiral went down with his flagship. Only SMS Dresden managed to escape, though she was eventually hunted down and destroyed.
  4. rlaughton


    There is a Canadian connection to this story, as it relates to the first Canadian Naval deaths during the Great War. The HMS Good Hope docked at Halifax, Nova Scotia in August 1914 to refuel. As there were vacancies on the ship, the vessel granted passage to four of the newly appointed Canadian midshipmen (Malcolm Cann, John Hatheway, William Palmer and Arthur Silver).

    On November 1, 1914 the Good Hope had the unfortunate opportunity to clash with the Gneisenau and Scharnhorst at Coronel, at which point the Good Hope was incinerated in short time.

    These 4 Canadians were the first of 225 Canadian sailors to perish with other British ships in the Great War.
  5. Alexander

    Alexander Member

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