HMS Good Hope & Monmouth Sunk
Vice-Admiral Sturdee's Glorious Revenge
German Pacific Fleet Destroyed
The Secretary of the Admiralty issued the following statement on November 5, 1914:-
Rumours and reports have been received at the Admiralty from various sources of a naval action having taken place off the Chilean coast.
The Admiralty have no official confirmation of this, and such accounts as they have received rest admittedly on German evidence. It is reported that the Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Leipzig, Dresden and Nurnberg concentrated near Valparaiso, and that an engagement was fought with a portion of Admiral Cradock's Squadron on Sunday, November 1.
The German report asserts that the Monmouth was sunk and the Good Hope very severely damaged. The Glasgow and the armed auxiliary Cruiser Otranto broke off the action and escaped.
The Admiralty cannot accept these facts as accurate at the present time, for the Battleship Canopus, which had been specially sent to strengthen Admiral Cradock's Squadron, and would have give him a decided superiority, is not mentioned in them, and, further, although five German ships concentrated in Chilean waters, only three have come into Valparaiso harbour. It is possible, therefore, that, when full accounts of the action are received, they may considerably modify the German version.
Effective measures have been taken to deal with the situation in any event.
The Secretary of the Admiralty made the following announcement on November 6, 1914 :-
The Admiralty have now received trustworthy information about the action on the Chilean coast.
During Sunday, November 1, the Good Hope, Monmouth, and Glasgow came up with the Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Leipzig, and Dresden. Both Squadrons were steaming south in a strong wind and considerable sea. The German Squadron declined action
until sunset, when the light gave it an important advantage.
The action lasted an hour. Early in the action both the Good Hope and the Monmouth took fire, but fought on till nearly dark, when a serious explosion occurred on the Good Hope, and she foundered.
The Monmouth hauled off at dark making water badly, and appeared unable to steam away. She was accompanied by the Glasgow, which had meanwhile during the whole action fought the Leipzig and Dresden. On the enemy again approaching the
wounded Monmouth, the Glasgow, which was also under fire from one of the armoured Cruisers, drew off. The enemy then attacked the Monmouth again, with what result is not definitely known.
Glasgow is not extensively damaged and has very few casualties. Neither Otranto nor Canopus was engaged.
Reports received by the Foreign Office from Valparaiso state that a belligerent warship is ashore on the Chilean coast, and it is possible that this may prove to be the Monmouth. Energetic measures are being taken on this assumption to rescue any survivors.
The action appears to the Admiralty to have been most gallantly contested, but in the absence of the Canopus the enemy's preponderance of force was considerable.
Log Of The Glasgow
The Secretary of the Admiralty announced on November 17, 1914, that the following report had been received from H.M.S. Glasgow (Captain John Luce, R.N.) concerning the recent action of the Chilean coast :-
Glasgow left Coronel 9 a.m. on November 1, to rejoin Good Hope (flagship), Monmouth, and Otranto at rendezvous. At 2 p.m. flagship signalled that apparently from wireless calls there was an enemy ship to the northward. Orders were given for
Squadron to spread N.E. by E. in the following order :- Good Hope, Monmouth, Otranto, and Glasgow, speed to be worked up to 15 knots. 4.20 pm., saw smoke; proved to be enemy ships, one small Cruiser and two armoured Cruisers.
Glasgow reported to Admiral, ships in sight were warned, and all concentrated on Good Hope. At 5 p.m., Good Hope was sighted.
5.47 p.m., Squadron formed in line-ahead in the following order :- Good Hope, Monmouth, Glasgow, Otranto. Enemy, who had turned south, were now in single
line-ahead 12 miles off, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau leading. 6.18 p.m., speed ordered
to 17 knots, and flagship signalled Canopus, "I am going to attack enemy now." Enemy were not 15,000 yards away and maintained this range, at the same time jamming wireless signals.
By this time sun was setting immediately behind us from enemy position, and while it remained above horizon we had advantage in light, bur range too great. 6.55 p.m., sun set, and visibility conditions altered, our ships are silhouetted against afterglow, and failing light made enemy difficult to see.
7.30 pm., enemy opened fire 12,000 yards, followed in quick succession by Good Hope, Monmouth, Glasgow. Two Squadrons were now converging, and each ship engaged opposite number in the line. Growing darkness and heavy spray of head sea
made firing difficult, particularly for main deck guns of good Hope and Monmouth. Enemy firing salvos got range quickly, and their third salvo caused fire to break out on fore part of both ships, which were constantly on fire till 7.45 p.m.
7.50 p.m., immense explosion occurred on Good Hope amidships, flames reaching 200 feet high. Total destruction must have followed. It was now quite dark.
Both side continued firing at flashes of opposing guns. Monmouth was badly down by the bow and turned away to get stern to sea, signalling to Glasgow to that effect. 8.30 p.m, Glasgow signalled to Monmouth "Enemy following us", but received no
reply. Under rising moon enemy's ships were now seen approaching, and as Glasgow could render Monmouth no assistance, she proceeded at full speed to avoid destruction.
8.50 p.m., lost sight of enemy. 9.20 p.m., observed 75 flashes of fire, which was no doubt final attack on Monmouth.
Nothing could have been more admirable than conduct of officers and men throughout. Though it was most trying to receive great volume of fire without chance of returning it adequately, all kept perfectly cool, there was no wild firing, and discipline was the same as at battle practice. When target ceased to be visible, gunlayers spontaneously ceased fire. The serious reverse sustained has entirely failed to impair the spirit of officers and ship's company, and it is our unanimous wish to meet the enemy again as soon as possible.
[A vivid account of the action in which the Good Hope and the Monmouth were lost was written by an officer who was on the Glasgow, the ship which, when the action had been decided by the sinking of the two British cruisers, succeeded in getting off
and in warning the Canopus. It appears from his account that the Good Hope, Glasgow, Monmouth, and the armed liner Otranto were searching the South American Pacific coast as far south as the Straits of Megellan in the hope of finding the Leipzig,
Dresden, and Nurnberg, when they heard that the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were coming across from the Pacific Islands to join the smaller German cruisers.
The Glasgow was the first to sight the combined German squadron, some seven hours after leaving Coronel, in Chile. "We put on speed and approached them until we made out four cruisers in line ahead, the two big armoured cruisers leading and two three-funnelled cruisers following in open order."
The Glasgow ran back to inform her own ships, and first picked up the Monmouth and the Otranto, and then the Good Hope, advised by wireless, came up "an hour or
two later" – as the sun was getting low. The "enemy were to the east of us, all
proceeding south, as they having the advantage both in guns and light, we being silhouetted against the horizon". It was impossible to improve the positions, and, says the writer "I did not think he (Admiral Cradock) would engage till next day". However, the ships gradually closed, the foremost German cruiser opening fire at 6.40 p.m, and the British ships replying twenty minutes later. "The enemy made good and deadly shooting, mostly directed against the flagship (Good Hope) and the Monmouth, our next ahead. There was not much doubt about the result."
The Monmouth was the first to suffer, and sheered off out of the line. Shortly after the Good Hope was seen to be on fire. She fell more and more out of line, when suddenly (about 7.30 p.m.) "an explosion occurred about her after-funnel, blowing up
debris and flames 200 feet high." "Soon after I could see nothing of her, and she never fired again." The German cruisers in the gathering darkness directed their fire at the Glasgow, and she had a miraculous escape, for she was struck at the water-line by
five shells, but no fire resulted. The last she saw of the Monmouth after that ship steamed to the north-west was "flashes of gun fire and the play of a searchlight". The Glasgow turned eventually to the south "to warn our old battleship the Canopus," which could hardly hope to successfully fight five ships.]