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Memorial unveiling to commemorate the Battle of the River Plate

Tuesday, April 8th 2014 - 22:20 UTC
Full article 36 comments

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. Read full article

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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 - Link - Report abuse 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 - Link - Report abuse 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 - Link - Report abuse 0
  • knarfw

    It's an English language website hence the use of English as opposed to Spanish but if it makes you happy to desecrate the dead then carry on.

    Apr 09th, 2014 - 01:33 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • ynsere

    There is a memorial with the names of the dead from HMS Exeter, HMNZS Achilles and HMS Ajax in the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, on calle Reconquista, Montevideo. Their names are read out every year on the Sunday nearest 11th November. There is also an avenue called Almirante Harwood in the Montevideo neighbourhood of Carrasco.

    Apr 09th, 2014 - 01:34 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Frank

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

    And its the FALKANDS , wog boy....

    moving right along.... 'the only episode of the war to take place in South America.'...... apart from a U-boat sinking a swag of Brazilian ships along the Brazilian coast ... which was a major reason Brazil entered the war ...

    Apr 09th, 2014 - 01:38 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Troy Tempest

    3 Pablo niño

    ”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.“

    Why did you feel it necessary to insult us and the brave crews of those ships that fought against fascism, cruelty and genocide?

    The crew of the Graf Spee was doing its duty to its country, but it was a dangerous menace to South Atlantic merchant vessels. Many many civilians were killed from the Graff Spee's guns or drowned when their unarmed ships went down. It had to be stopped.

    The Allied merchant fleet was taking food and vital supplies across the Atlantic to keep Britain fighting the Nazi's and feeding her beseiged people.

    You are a callous fool.

    Perhaps it will give you some added glee to realise that the food and supplies those ships that were sunk had picked up from ”neutral ” Argentina, were just added to the bill to be payed, whether they made it across the Atlantic or not.

    A great hunting ground for the Graf Spee, just sitting offshore from your ports, waiting for their prey.

    I wonder if Peron, your President, even gave a sh!t ??

    Obviously, you don 't. A££hole!!

    Apr 09th, 2014 - 01:54 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • La Patria

    There's also a memorial in St Heliers, Auckland for the crew of the NZ ship, Achilles. It's called Achilles Point (great view of the Hauraki Gulf).

    @7 Peron was only interested in the $$$$$. He sent cargo out to the allies whilst accepting German subs with trunks of cash and stolen Jewish gold in Mar del Plata.

    Apr 09th, 2014 - 02:16 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Gordo1

    @2 Malen

    Kindly explain when Argentina was invaded THREE times by the British. As far as history is concerned the Spanish colonial city of Buenos Aires was invaded twice and in the 1840s France and Britain had a trade problem with Paraguay and the River Plate was blocked. That's all, anything else is in your tiny mind!

    Apr 09th, 2014 - 06:32 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • FI_Frost

    @9 Gordo1

    I never heard of these skirmishes until spending time on here - minor side shows of the Napoleonic wars. But apparently the locals around BsAs beat the Brits. Fair play.

    What's really, really funny and interesting about this, is the fact many, many RGs now see this as a disaster and turning point for the worst. If the Brits had won, most RGs believe they'd be first world like Australia, Canada the US etc and not a Banana Republic. Oh they do cry about this.

    Malen etc knows this well enough. Lol.

    Apr 09th, 2014 - 08:23 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • ilsen

    J@10
    I agree. Truly a great missed opportunity for Argentina.

    Apr 09th, 2014 - 09:47 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • GeoffWard2

    #6 Careful, Frankie, phrases like that don't go down well with me.

    Apr 09th, 2014 - 10:33 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • lsolde

    malen & paulcedron,
    Typical product of an Argentine education system.
    lt seems the Uruguayan standards are much higher than their noisy neighbours.

    Apr 09th, 2014 - 10:44 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • A_Voice

    It was the British ships that were lucky to survive in that encounter....the pocket battleship was formidable....
    A more actual battle hardened captain would have taken all three easily, unfortunately he was used to sinking ships that couldn't fight back....
    ...his first and last battle.....

    Apr 09th, 2014 - 11:01 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • LEPRecon

    @14 A_Voice

    Actually the Captain of the Graf Spee was very experienced and, in his own words, couldn't understand why the 3 obviously outmatched ships took him on. He believed that they were trying to force him in a particular direction and into a trap where a larger and better equipped force where waiting for him.

    Despite being out matched, the 3 RN vessels managed to inflict some serious damage upon him, with almost suicidal attack runs, which led him to disengage and head to Montevideo for repairs and to bury his dead.

    We know about his reasoning in this battle because on board were captured sailors from the merchant vessels that had been sunk. The Captain of the Graf Spee spoke at length to one of the captured Merchant Navy Captains about the encounter, and gave him the cap tally's of 2 of his crew who had died in the battle.

    There was nothing cowardly about Captain Langsdorff. He was a good Captain who cared about his men.

    He took his own life to protect the officers and men from the Nazi's who were always quick to find people guilty by association.

    Apr 09th, 2014 - 11:27 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • A_Voice

    15
    I disagree Langsdorff was only experienced in sinking merchant ships....
    He was instructed specifically not to engage warships and some believe that he thought he was capable and wished to prove it....
    In retrospect it appears he never had the heart for it....

    For me, he missed the opportunity to go down in history as legend....to come out with guns blazing with the epitaph of hero....
    The Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae....
    Custer's last stand....
    General Gordon at Khartoum....The government ordered him to return, but Gordon refused, saying he was honour-bound to defend the city....
    Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson...Battle of Copenhagen....“I see no ships”.....

    ....he should have asked for volunteers and gone down fighting......

    Apr 09th, 2014 - 03:00 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Conqueror

    Comment removed by the editor.

    Apr 09th, 2014 - 03:57 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • LEPRecon

    @16 - A_Voice

    Captain Langsdorff won Iron Cross (class 1 & 2) in World War 1. He was hardly inexperienced at fighting in war. He was hardly inexperienced about naval tactics.

    He was a naval officer doing his duty for his country, even though Britain was at war with that country, he was respected by his adversaries.

    The problem with going out in a blaze of glory is that it doesn't always work the way you want it to. Sometimes you just die and look stupid, not heroic. Sometimes you don't die and have to live with the consequences of your actions.

    Of course, going down in a blaze of glory was just what his Nazi masters wanted, but Langsdorff understood tactics and naval warfare far better than those in power back in Germany. And he also knew his men, and wasn't willing to sacrifice them for a meaningless gesture.

    And killing your men over a matter of pride for those in power, would be of little comfort for the families of those men.

    Although scuttling the ship was seen as a victory for the British, it can also be seen as a triumph for Langsdorff as the fact that the British didn't sink it so couldn't get the kudos for doing so, and they didn't capture it and have it as a war trophy and indeed rename it and use it against Germany, which is always a possibility in any naval battle.

    So like any good commander he ensured that the enemy were denied ultimate victory. That is, in it's own way, a victory for Captain Langsdorff.

    It's easy to look back on these events and say such and such should've done this or that, but the benefit of hindsight is that you have all of the information at hand, know what mistakes were made, how strong the opposing forces are, and so on and so forth.

    Apr 09th, 2014 - 04:06 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • A_Voice

    17
    Educate yourself old timer....Langsdorff was only a lieutenant at Jutland and was in command of nothing, but a brief stint in 1927 of a torpedo boat flotilla then nothing until the Admiral Graf Spee in October 1938....
    So shut it ....before I give you a good slap......

    Apr 09th, 2014 - 06:37 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • toooldtodieyoung

    14 A_Voice

    Oh think-me-not, give the sock puppet a rest would you? It's beginning to think that it's a real person, stop it now, you are not fooling anyone.

    “A more actual battle hardened captain would have taken all three easily, unfortunately he was used to sinking ships that couldn't fight back....”

    Always with the excuses huh Think? I can see the desperation just dripping from your post....

    Can't stand a British victory can you?

    Worst of all A British victory commemorated by one of your neighbours!!!!

    Then again, you can always count on the Royal Navy to get the job done can't you??

    Where as your ships aren't even getting out of port these days.

    Apr 09th, 2014 - 08:46 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • A_Voice

    20
    Way of mark....if I remember correctly...which is always the case, Mr Think has a completely different view to me concerning Langsdorff....
    He has a great deal of respect for him....
    Each to his own...I gave my opinion LEPRecon gave his...that's fine..Conqueror just throws insults....perhaps he would like a kiss instead.....a Glasgow kiss....

    One small note...perhaps I could draw your attention to the two Brits in my other post....as a definition of heroes.....Doh!

    Apr 09th, 2014 - 10:13 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • ilsen

    oh look, A_Voice trying to go off topic again.... distraction city..
    Yawn!
    Britain won a battle.
    You just hate that don't you?

    Boring old git.

    Apr 09th, 2014 - 10:52 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • A_Voice

    22
    ...oh dear old...haha PMSL...that would be right.....I'm a wain compared to most of the geriatrics on here.....
    Which one are you again.....there are so many characterless same oles I can hardly tell the difference.....
    Refresh my memory again...you are not the one trick pony that goes on and on and on and on about Venezuela are you...?
    Haha and you call me boring......

    It is you isn't it...?...Man ...the ways you sit there in front of the screen trying to think of how you can introduce Venezuela into the debate....
    I bet everyone you know says...“for god-sake don't mention Venezuela in front of him”
    It could be worse it could be ...don't mention the war.....Basil Fawlty sketch...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfl6Lu3xQW0

    Apr 10th, 2014 - 01:21 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Troy Tempest

    And “A_voice ” looks for ways to talk about himself ... yawn

    Apr 10th, 2014 - 05:34 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • LEPRecon

    @19 A_Voice

    How does one become an experienced ships Captain? Do they just spring up from nowhere fully formed with all their knowledge and experience?

    Or do they work their way up through the ranks, learning from the situations they find themselves in, and off other more experienced officers?

    You don't win a bravery award for ducking and covering (unless you are Argentine of course, who give bravery medals to people who just say that they would've fought for them - pathetic), you win them by performing acts of courage.

    You, yourself, obviously need to educate yourself upon how people learn, grow and develop themselves.

    It's extremely obvious that you have no idea of tactics, strategy, naval warfare, naval tactics or even human nature.

    “In October 1925, Langsdorff was posted to the Defence Ministry in Berlin to coordinate relations between the navy and the army. In 1927, he was posted to the command of a torpedo boat flotilla, and in April 1930 he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander. In 1931, he was recalled to Berlin, as his administrative abilities had become well-known and appreciated. Following the rise to power of the Nazis, Langsdorff requested duty at sea in 1934, but was instead appointed to the Interior Ministry.

    In 1936 and 1937, while on board the new pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee as part of the staff of Admiral Bohen, Langsdorff participated in the German support of the Nationalist side in the Spanish Civil War. On 1 January 1937, Langsdorff was promoted to Captain. He received command of the Admiral Graf Spee in October 1938.”

    Langsdorffs opponents had a great deal of respect for him. I know that concept is alien to Argentines, but it is possible to oppose someone and respect them at the same time.

    Langsdorffs men were devastated by his suicide, a sure sign that he was a good Captain whom they liked and respected.

    Of course, people like you don't care how many people die, as long as you believe that you can claim some hollow victory.

    Apr 10th, 2014 - 06:39 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • ilsen

    23
    A_whole? A_Who? A_Manuel?

    Shouldn't you be waiting tables or washing dishes old man?
    So, Britain won a battle many, many years ago. Mercopress records the commemoration. You get your adult diaper mixed up with your hat.
    We laugh at you.

    We laugh. All the way up the Rio Orinocco and back.

    See what I did there?

    Do you still remember where Latin America is old expat refugee?
    And no, it's not in the 1970s. Wrong answer.
    You may now get off the commode and go back to bed.

    Apr 10th, 2014 - 06:45 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • A_Voice

    25
    Are you some kind of fuckwit ...?
    I suppose you also learn to drive a car by being a passenger...?
    ...experience of watching other people do things is not experience...
    The guy never had to make decisions ...and when he did he made bad ones.....
    ......anyone can sail a boat the crew do it for you....his first time in charge of a battle and he lost...
    You can't change that or excuse it.......
    He was a coward and took the cowards way out....

    26
    Venezuela blah de blah...ermm .....Venezuela.......opps I thought I was Ilsen for a second.....my bad..

    Apr 10th, 2014 - 07:39 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • LEPRecon

    @27 A_Voice

    Oh look, you've lost your temper, you've become very rude, and you know you've lost the argument.

    I never said he only 'watched' others, I said he learned from others. Can you understand the difference? Obviously not.

    When you are learning to drive, do you just get in the car by yourself and drive? No. Your driving instructor is with and TELLS you what to do and when to do it. That is how you build up confidence and experience, so when you take your test, you can prove just how well you can drive. At least that's how it works in civilized countries.

    We ALL learn from others, we learn by copying them (as children), then in classrooms (as children and adults), and by DOING.

    So in your 'lofty' experience just how do people learn how to be ship's Captains? Are they born fully formed with all their knowledge and tactics?

    Or do they learn how to be a ships Captain by learning as they move up through the ranks?

    They learn by being taught ships systems, battle tactics and then by working along side more experienced officers. They watch them too, and therefore learn about how they deal with certain situations, whether they be diplomatic situations, or actual battle situations.

    Oh, and just what medal for bravery have you ever won to sneer at Captain Langsdorff?

    Why do you call him a coward when he was fighting in a war? Yes he attacked Merchant vessels, but it was war, and they were bringing supplies to his enemies, so were legitimate targets - try reading the laws of armed conflict.

    The crews of the ships he sank, which he subsequently rescued (I know another thing Argentines can't understand - you even leave your own behind to drown), said he was a gentleman and a good ships Captain. They respected him, and even liked him.

    And he took his own life to save his fellow officers from Nazi retribution. That takes honour and courage.

    A small tip for you A_Voice. When you're digging yourself into a hole, it's best to stop before you are in over your head.

    Apr 10th, 2014 - 08:03 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • ilsen

    A disappointingly weak reposte Voicey. Are you tired from your manual duties Manuel?

    Meanwhile, on topic. Let's talk about Argentine Naval legends.

    umm....

    nah. You go first Voicey. ..
    I just wanted to talk about the possibility of Russian naval bases in Venezuela.
    Talks are underway I hear.....
    Good job Argentina can get Nato support. .from the Falklands!!!

    Apr 10th, 2014 - 08:10 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • A_Voice

    28
    ....you have lapsed into the realm of your personal view of what he may and may not have done....you don't know..
    I go on the facts....
    His first battle in command he did virtually nothing right....and lost his first and ONLY battle.

    My “opinion” is he never had any intention of coming back out of port to fight...it's a cul de sac .....there was only ever going to be two options.

    The only good Nazis is....

    Apr 10th, 2014 - 11:06 am - Link - Report abuse 0
  • LEPRecon

    @30A_Voice

    You've been trying to pass your own personal view off as fact since your 1st post.

    Let's compare the commanders shall we?

    Commodore Hardwood:

    “Harwood entered the Royal Navy in 1904 and specialized in torpedoes. He served in World War I. In 1919 he served on the battleship HMS Royal Sovereign, 1st Battle Squadron. By 1929 he had been promoted to captain and become the Commanding Officer of the destroyer HMS Warwick and Senior Officer of the 9th Destroyer Division.

    In 1931 and 1932, Harwood attended the Imperial Defence College. Upon completion of the course in March 1932 he became Flag Captain of the heavy cruiser HMS London whilst at the same time serving as Chief Staff Officer to the Rear-Admiral Commanding the 1st Cruiser Squadron. From July 1934 until 1936 Harwood served on the staff of the Royal Naval War College at Greenwich.

    In September 1936 Harwood was appointed Commodore and given command of the South American Division of the America and West Indies Station, whilst at the same time serving as Commanding Officer of the cruiser HMS Exeter.”

    Now this brief overview of his career, compared with Langsdorffs doesn't show him having been Commanding Officer in any battle prior to the Battle of the River Plate.

    Hmm? So according to 'your' view, then he shouldn't have had command either?

    You also assume that at the Battle of Jutland Langsdorff wasn't in command at any point during the battle. You don't know what exactly went on in that battle. Communications between areas of the ship would've been difficult, and he may have had to act on his own initiative, hence why he was promoted and probably why he earned his medal.

    Yes I don't know for a fact that he did, but you don't know for a fact that he didn't.

    Also did you miss the fact that Langsdorff was convinced that the 3 RN ships were trying to force him into a trap? A logical conclusion given the suicidal nature of their attacks.

    Stop digging A_Voice. You're just getting deeper and deeper.

    Apr 10th, 2014 - 02:18 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • Troy Tempest

    LEPRecon

    A_Voice is never wrong - will never back down after a stupid or jealous comment. He'll just try to bluster his way through - sometimes heaping derision to try and intimidate.

    Still, only his “opinion ” and we do know that he deliberately creates fictions just to drag people into arguments.

    Those usually end with him angrily declaring that he is smarter than everyone else... bla bla bla

    Apr 10th, 2014 - 05:31 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • LEPRecon

    @32 Troy

    Indeed, but it is nice to wind him up, see him bluster and fail.

    And we all know that if you have to tell everyone that your are smarter than them, it means that you aren't.

    Apr 10th, 2014 - 06:44 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • *~TROLLING_CEASE_FIRE~*

    River Plate is a river between Britain and Germany. It always “loses water”, every year. You can never “catch” anything on this river.

    It's very different from the Rio de la Plata, which is very spacious and allows drainage to a great portion of South America.

    The Piedra Buena passage between Antarctica and South America is one of the most dangerous bodies of water in the world, as well. It is south of the Falkland islands.

    Apr 11th, 2014 - 04:16 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • lsolde

    Do you mean, the Drake Passage, my little troll?

    Apr 11th, 2014 - 08:50 pm - Link - Report abuse 0
  • ilsen

    Those who win the Wars write the History. That is the luxury of Victory.

    Thus once said a true British Global Statesman.

    So, I guess it is going to be called the River Plate until you can prove otherwise you wannabe EUian. Bhaaahahaha! !!!

    Apr 12th, 2014 - 02:01 am - Link - Report abuse 0

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