Over the week end I watched an old movie that was filmed around 1956. The title was Battle of the River Plate, it was the first major sea battle of the second world war. The hunt for the German Pocket battleship took place in the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean, culminating near the estuary to the River Plate. The Royal Navy cruiser squadron consisted of three ships, the Exeter,Ajax and Achilles. All three cruisers were armed with six inch guns, the pocket battle ship with eleven inch guns. It was an uneven and a more unlikely balance for the three cruisers to take on this huge battleship. However they came at the German from three directions splitting its guns. The Exeter took the major damage in the conflict, but much damage was inflicted on the Graf Spee forcing her to run for the Uruguay coast to shelter in the harbour. Uruguay was a neutral country,this meant the ship could only remain in harbour for 48 hrs and was allowed only repairs to make the ship seaworthy. In the meantime the Royal Navy carried out the biggest bluff of the war. Rumours were spread that a large squadron of British ships had arrived off Uruguay and were awaiting Graf Spee’s departure. The bluff worked and the Graf Spee scuttled herself just outside the harbour. You might be wondering why I’m relating this story today. Well its because I first saw the movie on Christmas eve 1956 in Auckland New Zealand. I was a very young 17 year old sailor on my first ship (HMS Cockade). We were sailing in the same waters as the pocket battleship and this worked to give me great pride to be a sailor of the Royal Naval. I know what you are thinking!!! I was a hopeless romantic, all true, and yes I pictured myself on one of the cruisers doing battle. Nevertheless, there was no harm in being proud of the previous achievements of British sailors, or of being proud to be following in their footsteps. I’m still proud today to call myself a Ganges Boy of the Royal Navy, and a member of the amazing club of world wide seafarers. And that is my Monday morning rant as I await yet another 25 centimeter winter snow storm due early on Wednesday. Will this winter ever end??????
God Bless and keep reading
Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.
Your article is very well done, a good read.