British and German Embassies in Santiago organized a commemoration event to mark the 100 years of the Battle of Coronel, off the coast of Chile. A hundred years ago November first 1914, one of the first Naval battles of the First World War between the Royal Navy and the German Navy took place 50 miles off the coast of Coronel.
On the evening of November first, in failing light and a strengthening southerly wind, the German ships “Scharnhorst” “Gneisenau, Leipzig”, “Nürnberg” and “Dresden” under command of Admiral Maximilian von Spee confronted the technologically inferior British ships “Good Hope”, “Monmouth”, “Glasgow” and “Otranto”, under the command of Admiral Sir Christopher Craddock.
Within hours both “Good Hope” and “Monmouth” had been sunk with all hands. There was not a single survivor. More than 1500 British sailors perished in this resounding defeat for the Royal Navy.
To mark the centenary of this event, the Chilean Navy, the Municipality of Coronel and the British Embassy organized a service of commemoration in the plaza 21 de Mayo in Coronel which was attended by more than 300 people.
Chilean authorities were represented by the Superintendent of the Bio-Bio region, Rodrigo Díaz Wörner; the Commander in Chief of Chile's Second Naval Zone Rear Admiral, Osvaldo Schwarzenberg, and Senator Alejandro Navarro. The United Kingdom, Canada and Germany were represented by Ambassadors Fiona Clouder, Patricia Fuller and Jens Lutkenherm. Local British and German communities were also present.
Four direct descendents of crew members who died aboard “Good Hope” also made the long journey from the UK to be present. This emotional occasion was made even more poignant by the Chilean Navy who kindly provided a launch to take the relatives to the estimated site of the sinking of the Good Hope for a private ceremony.
The simple but moving ceremony in the plaza 21 de mayo consisted of a short historical briefing on the Battle of Coronel followed by brief addresses from the German and British Defense Attachés a short ecumenical religious interlude, followed by the laying of wreaths and a gunfire salute to the fallen and concluded with a parade by the 120 strong honor guard provided by Chilean Navy.