The Graf Spee's final Battle : Almost 70 years on

May 2019
214
Northern and Western hemispheres
Roughly 70 years ago the Kriegsmarine's battle cruiser Graf Spee was engaged by Royal Navy and Commonwealth Navy warships during the Battle of River Plate and was nearly sunk and if I have this right had to be scuttled later. Respect to the Kriegsmarine sailors(despite their cause) and to all Allied sailors who fought in the Battle of the Atlantic.
 
Apr 2017
1,679
U.S.A.
It is an interesting story/event. Technically, it was a Panzerschiffe (armored ship) or more commonly a"pocket battleship," later reclassified as a heavy cruiser.
 
Mar 2015
1,461
Yorkshire
Roughly 70 years ago the Kriegsmarine's battle cruiser Graf Spee was engaged by Royal Navy and Commonwealth Navy warships during the Battle of River Plate and was nearly sunk and if I have this right had to be scuttled later. Respect to the Kriegsmarine sailors(despite their cause) and to all Allied sailors who fought in the Battle of the Atlantic.

The Graf Spee was not heavily damaged and did not "have to be sunk". She was much more powerful than the three waiting British Cruisers, Exeter, Ajax and Achilles, themselves also damaged.

Captain Langsdorf was fooled by British deception (just the first of many such brilliant actions throughout WW2). British diplomats, naval attaches, secret agents worked to delay the repairs to his ship while the BBC , radio traffic and general intelligence persuaded the Germans that the carrier, Arc Royal and a massive British fleet was waiting for him when he left Montevideo harbour. In fact Arc Royal was 5 days sailing away. He could have escaped but the British plan worked perfectly.

To save the lives of his crew, Langsdorf scuttled his ship and committed suicide.
 
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johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,872
Cornwall
The Graf Spee was not heavily damaged and did not "have to be sunk". She was much more powerful than the three waiting British Cruisers, Exeter, Ajax and Achilles, themselves also damaged.

Captain Langsdorf was fooled by British deception (just the first of many such brilliant actions throughout WW2). British diplomats, naval attaches, secret agents worked to delay the repairs to his ship while the BBC , radio traffic and general intelligence persuaded the Germans that the carrier, Arc Royal and a massive British fleet was waiting for him when he left Montevideo harbour. In fact Arc Royal was 5 days sailing away. He could have escaped but the British plan worked perfectly.

To save the lives of his crew, Langsdorf scuttled his ship and committed suicide.
All true and very well-represented in the film. Pocket battleship it was.

One point - Exeter had gone off for repairs in the Falklands and Cumberland was on station at the time of the scuttling. Interesting use of media in Montevideo by the British staff to create panic.
 

MG1962a

Ad Honorem
Mar 2019
2,211
Kansas
Captain Langsdorf was fooled by British deception (just the first of many such brilliant actions throughout WW2). British diplomats, naval attaches, secret agents worked to delay the repairs to his ship
They didn't work to delay the repairs, they worked to delay its departure, warships could only spend a maximum of 72 hours in a neutral port. At the time, a certain amount of time. Either 12 or 24 hours head start had to be given to any potential prize leaving port before a belligerent warship could leave the same port

The British pulled a few strings arranged for qualified merchantmen to leave at the right time to force the clock to be restarted constantly. This way they attempted to hold Graf Spee as long as possible to allow heavy units such as the mentioned Ark Roya and HMS India to assemble.

Langsforf carries a lot of the blame for the ship being in the situation it was in. Poor fire control led to none of the British ships being neutralized in the early phase of the battle.

For those interested this film is a very detailed retelling of events. Notable is the battle scene is actually filmed in real time.

 
May 2019
214
Northern and Western hemispheres
The Graf Spee was not heavily damaged and did not "have to be sunk". She was much more powerful than the three waiting British Cruisers, Exeter, Ajax and Achilles, themselves also damaged.

Captain Langsdorf was fooled by British deception (just the first of many such brilliant actions throughout WW2). British diplomats, naval attaches, secret agents worked to delay the repairs to his ship while the BBC , radio traffic and general intelligence persuaded the Germans that the carrier, Arc Royal and a massive British fleet was waiting for him when he left Montevideo harbour. In fact Arc Royal was 5 days sailing away. He could have escaped but the British plan worked perfectly.

To save the lives of his crew, Langsdorf scuttled his ship and committed suicide.
Now I know why the Graf Spee was scuttled.
 
Nov 2011
1,120
The Bluff
It is an interesting story/event. Technically, it was a Panzerschiffe (armored ship) or more commonly a"pocket battleship," later reclassified as a heavy cruiser.
Yes, "pocket battleship" is the term. It was an ingenious design by German naval architects to essentially get around the tight limitations imposed on German ships in the Treaty of Versailles. That limited Germany to 10,000 tons and no more that 11" guns. The Deutschland class ships (the eponymous, the Admiral Scheer and Graf Spee) were far more heavily armoured than British cruisers and their nine 11" and eight 6" guns gave them a formidable armament. They were faster than British battleships of the time as well. Never seen before; never matched at the time and never seen after. Unique.
 

redcoat

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,901
Stockport Cheshire UK
Sad part is if he had decided to join battle, the British were really not in any shape to stop it
The Graff Spee was low on ammo and her oil purification plant, which was required to prepare the diesel fuel for the engines, was destroyed, there was no way she would have made it back to Germany.
 

MG1962a

Ad Honorem
Mar 2019
2,211
Kansas
The Graff Spee was low on ammo and her oil purification plant, which was required to prepare the diesel fuel for the engines, was destroyed, there was no way she would have made it back to Germany.
It was my understanding the purification plant and the galley were the only repairs considered essential and within the bounds of a neutral port to repair.