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The Battle of Coronel - All hands Lost

Updated: Nov 2, 2023

1st November 1914

The Battle of Coronel was fought off the Chilean coast with the loss of HMS Good Hope and HMS Monmouth with all hands.

HMS Good Hope was one of four Drake-class armoured cruisers built for the Royal Navy around 1900; she was originally named Africa, but was renamed before she was launched

HMS GOOD HOPE, the flagship, was rushed from the UK in August 1914 with 90% of her crew being Reservist and not worked up. This would account for her not having a Band on Board.

HMS Monmouth was the name ship of her class of 10 armoured cruisers built for the Royal Navy in the first decade of the 20th century. The ships were also known as the County Cruisers (each being named after a British county).

The RMB in HMS MONMOUTH had not been transferred after HMS GOOD HOPE joined the Squadron in the West Indies. HMS MONMOUTH had only been re-commissioned on 31 July 1914 and sent to the West Indies. It seems the ships were just filled with who was available.

This deficiency did not detract from their valour in battle.

Cradock’s squadron before the battle of Coronel showing HMS Good Hope, Glasgow and Monmouth off Coronel

The British squadron under Admiral Cradock had been sent to intercept the German squadron under Von Spee, which had been commerce raiding in the Pacific. Unfortunately at the time the two forces met Cradock was by far the weakest force sailing with the setting sun behind him into a dark eastern night against a stronger squadron that outnumbered, out gunned and was faster.

Cradock sent his 2 weakest ships, the armed merchantman Otranto and the light cruiser HMS Glasgow away and took on the Germans with just Monmouth and Good Hope.

The German armoured cruisers Gneisenau and Scharnhorst led the main attack, HMS Monmouth was hit by Gneisenau and was on fire. Nurnberg found her burning and after refusing to surrender, Nurnberg finished her off with 75 shells.

Battle of Coronel. Painting by Hans Bohrdt

All hands on both cruisers HMS Good Hope (900) and HMS Monmouth (678) were lost. The Germans failed to pick up any of the survivors in the water.

Shock at the British losses led the Admiralty to send more ships, including two modern battlecruisers, which in turn destroyed Spee and the majority of his squadron on 8 December at the Battle of the Falkland Islands.

194 Royal Marines were killed in this action:

HMS Good Hope; 100

HMS Monmouth; 94

Find their names here; Royal Marines Roll of Honour

Related Royal Marines 'Dits'

The Battle of the Falklands 1914 - Sergeant Mayes, RMA Conspicuous Gallantry Medal []

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