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Montevideo, September 22nd 2018 - 11:18 UTC

Memorial unveiling to commemorate the Battle of the River Plate

Tuesday, April 8th 2014 - 22:20 UTC
Full article 36 comments
HMS Ajax one of the three Royal Navy vessels involved in the battle HMS Ajax one of the three Royal Navy vessels involved in the battle
The pocket battleship Graf Spee while in Montevideo  The pocket battleship Graf Spee while in Montevideo

Survivors of the first major naval battle of the Second World War will gather at Britain's National Memorial Arboretum to unveil a memorial commemorating the event. The Battle of the River Plate took place 75 years ago (December 1939), and less than a dozen veterans are still alive from this, the only episode of the war to take place in South America.

 The remaining River Plate veterans will come together on Saturday, April 12 to unveil the Battle of the River Plate Memorial – the 300th at the Arboretum.

Located in the Royal Naval Review Area of the National Memorial Arboretum, this new memorial will be a lasting tribute to those who lost their lives in the battle and to the ships which fought it – His Majesty’s Ships Ajax, Achilles (Royal New Zealand Navy) and Exeter as well the German Pocket Battleship Admiral Graf Spee.

Peter Danks, chairman of the HMS Ajax and River Plate Veterans Association, said how proud he was of the memorial.

“We are very proud to be unveiling our memorial which will ensure that all who took part in the Battle of the River Plate will be remembered always, and the fact that it’s the 300th memorial to be dedicated at this wonderful place gives our ceremony even greater significance”, said Peter Danks.

The Battle of the River Plate took place on December 13, 1939, when ships from the Royal Navy’s South American Division took on the might of Germany’s Graf Spee which had been attacking British merchant ships in the South Atlantic.

Commodore Henry Harwood, commanding Hunting Group G, ordered the cruisers HMS Ajax, Achilles and Exeter to an area east of the River Plate – an estuary between Argentina and Uruguay. On the morning of December 13 Exeter investigated smoke and signaled, “I think it is a Pocket Battleship”.

The Graf Spee initially fired on Exeter while Ajax and Achilles closed in causing significant damage to the German vessel. Graf Spee first took refuge in the port of Montevideo, but forced by Uruguayan authorities and British diplomacy had to abandon port. Fearing a mightier British fleet was on its way, Captain Langsdorff decided to scuttle the vessel in the River Plate. (Defense News).-

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  • ilsen

    A great day in history. These brave men deserve all our eternal thanks for their bravery and sacrifice fighting against fascism and totalitarian regimes.

    Apr 08th, 2014 - 11:03 pm 0
  • malen

    Never heard of this battle...but youve got lot of fantasy to invent them. we did have 3 british invasions here....and the only “river plate” Ive heard is of a football club in Arg.

    Apr 08th, 2014 - 11:14 pm 0
  • paulcedron

    3 british vessels against 1 pocket battleship...
    ”Captain Langsdorff decided to scuttle the vessel in the River Plate. (Defense News).”
    and committed suicide.

    btw, river plate?
    río de la plata, you assholes.

    Apr 09th, 2014 - 12:21 am 0
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