"Yorkshire Rear Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock was blamed for the Royal Navy’s worst disaster in 100 years. But a new book attempts to restore his reputation. Chris Bond reports.
BY the middle of autumn in 1914, the fighting on the western front was already heading towards stalemate after the first Battle of Marne finally halted the German advance.
But if British soldiers were paying a high price on the fields of northern Europe, its Navy was buoyed by an early success at the Battle of Heligoland Bight. On August 28, the British fleet, consisting of submarines and destroyers, mounted attacks on German patrols off the coast of their North Sea base at Wilhemshaven.
The battle was fought in a confusion of fog and haze but ended with three German cruisers and a destroyer being sunk. No British ships were lost and back home the battle was seen as a great victory – the returning ships were met by cheering crowds and its admirals treated as heroes.
It was a welcome boost, but for a nation brought up on tales of triumph at Trafalgar and that liked to think of itself as rulers of the waves there was a burning desire to show the Germans what it was made of. On November 1, the Royal Navy had the chance to do just that when a British squadron under the command of Rear Admiral Sir Christopher ‘Kit’ Cradcock, encountered a German fleet off the coast of central Chile. However, by the time the Battle of Coronel had finished, 1,660 British sailors, including Cradock, were dead, in Britain’s worst naval disaster for a 100 years."
Naval disaster that sparked a war of words - Yorkshire Post