With thanks to the London Gazette
Gazette No. 29087 - 2 MARCH 1915
3rd March, 1915.
The following despatch
has been received from Vice-Admiral Sir F.
C. Doveton Sturdee, K.C.B., C.V.O., C.M.G.,
reporting the action off the Falkland
Islands on Tuesday, the 8th of December,
Sea, December 12th, 1914.
I have the honour to
forward a report on the action which took
place on 8th December, 1914, against a
German Squadron off the Falkland Islands.
the honour to be, Sir, Your obedient
F. C. D.
STURDEE, Vice-Admiral, Commander-in-Chief.
The Secretary, Admiralty.
(B.) Action with the
(C.) Action with the
(D.) Action with the
(A.) PRELIMINARY MOVEMENTS.
The squadron, consisting
of H.M. ships "Invincible," flying my flag,
Flag Captain Percy T. H. Beamish;
"Inflexible," Captain Richard F. Phillimore;
"Carnarvon," flying the flag of Rear-Admiral
Archibald P. Stoddart, Flag Captain Harry L.
d'E. Skipwith; "Cornwall," Captain Walter M.
Ellerton; "Kent," Captain John D. Allen;
"Glasgow," Captain John Luce; "Bristol,"
Captain Basil H. Fanshawe; and "Macedonia,"
Captain Bertram S. Evans; arrived at Port
Stanley, Falkland Islands, at 10.30 a.m. on
Monday, the 7th December, 1914. Coaling was
commenced at once, in order that the ships
should be ready to resume the search for the
enemy's squadron the next evening, the 8th
At 8 a.m. on Tuesday, the
8th December, a signal was received from the
signal station on shore:
four-funnel and two-funnel man-of-war in
sight from Sapper Hill, steering
At this time, the
positions of the various ships of the
squadron were as follows:
At anchor as look-out ship.
(guard ship): At anchor in Port William.
and "Inflexible": In Port William.
In Port William.
In Port William.
In Port Stanley.
In Port Stanley.
The "Kent" was at once
ordered to weigh, and a general signal was
made to raise steam for full speed.
At 8.20 a.m. the signal
station reported another column of smoke in
sight to the southward, and at 8.45 a.m. the
"Kent" passed down the harbour and took up a
station at the entrance.
The "Canopus," Captain
Heathcoat S. Grant, reported at 8.47 a.m.
that the first two ships were 8 miles off,
and that the smoke reported at 8.20 a.m.,
appeared to be the smoke of two ships about
20 miles off.
At 8.50 a.m. the signal
station reported a further column of smoke
in sight to the southward.
The ''Macedonia'' was
ordered to weigh anchor on the inner side of
the other ships, and await orders.
9.20 a.m. the two leading ships of the enemy
("Gneisenau" and "Nürnberg"), with guns
trained on the wireless station, came within
range of the "Canopus," who opened fire at
them across the low land at a range of
11,000 yards. The enemy at once hoisted
their colours and turned away. At this time
the masts and smoke of the enemy were
visible from the upper bridge of the
"Invincible" at a range of approximately
17,000 yards across the low land to the
south of Port William.
few minutes later the two cruisers altered
course to port, as though to close the
"Kent" at the entrance to the harbour, but
about this time it seems that the
''Invincible'' and '' Inflexible" were seen
over the land, as the enemy at once altered
course and increased speed to join their
The "Glasgow" weighed and
proceeded at 9.40 a.m. with orders to join
the "Kent" and observe the enemy's
At 9.45 a.m. the
squadron-less the "Bristol" - weighed, and
proceeded out of harbour in the following
order: ''Carnarvon," "Inflexible,"
"Invincible," and "Cornwall." On passing
Cape Pembroke Light, the five ships of the
enemy appeared clearly in sight to the
south-east, hull down. The visibility was at
its maximum, the sea was calm, with a bright
sun, a clear sky, and a light breeze from
At 10.20 a.m. the signal
for a general chase was made. The battle
cruisers quickly passed ahead of the
"Carnarvon" and overtook the "Kent." The
"Glasgow" was ordered to keep two miles from
the "Invincible," and the "Inflexible" was
stationed on the starboard quarter of the
flagship. Speed was eased to 20 knots at
11.15 a.m. to enable the other cruisers to
get into station.
At this time the enemy's
funnels and bridges showed just above the
Information was received
from the "Bristol " at 11.27 a.m. that three
enemy ships had appeared off Port Pleasant,
probably colliers or transports. The
"Bristol" was therefore directed to take the
"Macedonia" under his orders and destroy
The enemy were still
maintaining their distance, and I decided,
at 12.20 p.m., to attack with the two battle
cruisers and the "Glasgow."
At 12.47 p.m. the signal
to "Open fire and engage the enemy" was
The "Inflexible" opened
fire at 12.55 p.m. from her fore turret at
the right-hand ship of the enemy, a light
cruiser; a few minutes later the
"Invincible" opened fire at the same ship.
The deliberate fire from
a range of 16,500 to 15,000 yards at the
right-hand light cruiser, who was dropping
astern, became too threatening, and when a
shell fell close alongside her at 1.20 p.m.
she (the "Leipzig") turned away, with the
"Nürnberg " and "Dresden" to the south-west.
These light cruisers were at once followed
by the "Kent," "Glasgow," and "Cornwall," in
accordance with my instructions.
The action finally
developed into three separate encounters,
besides the subsidiary one dealing with the
ACTION WITH THE ARMOURED CRUISERS.
The fire of the battle
cruisers was directed on the "Scharnhorst"
and "Gneisenau." The effect of this was
quickly seen, when at 1.25 p.m., with the
"Scharnhorst" leading, they turned about 7
points to port in succession into line ahead
and opened fire at 1.30 p.m. Shortly
afterwards speed was eased to 24 knots, and
the battle cruisers were ordered to turn
together, bringing them into line ahead,
with the "Invincible" leading.
The range was about
13,500 yards at the final turn, and
increased, until, at 2 p.m., it had reached
The enemy then (2.10
p.m.) turned away about 10 points to
starboard and a second chase ensued, until,
at 2.45 p.m., the battle cruisers again
opened fire; this caused the enemy, at 2.53
p.m., to turn into line ahead to port and
open fire at 2.55 p.m.
The "Scharnhorst" caught
fire forward, but not seriously, and her
fire slackened perceptibly; the "Gneisenau"
was badly hit by the "Inflexible."
At 3.30 p.m. the
"Scharnhorst" led round about 10 points to
starboard; just previously her fire had
slackened perceptibly, and one shell had
shot away her third funnel; some guns were
not firing, and it would appear that the
turn was dictated by a desire to bring her
starboard guns into action. The effect of
the fire on the "Scharnhorst " became more
and more apparent in consequence of smoke
from fires, and also escaping steam; at
times a shell would cause a large hole to
appear in her side, through which could be
seen a dull red glow of flame. At 4.4 p.m.
the "Scharnhorst," whose flag remained
flying to the last, suddenly listed heavily
to port, and within a minute it became clear
that she was a doomed ship; for the list
increased very rapidly until she lay on her
beam ends, and at 4.17 p.m. she disappeared.
The "Gneisenau " passed
on the far side of her late flagship, and
continued a determined but ineffectual
effort to fight the two battle cruisers.
At 5.8 p.m. the forward
funnel was knocked over and remained resting
against the second funnel. She was evidently
in serious straits, and her fire slackened
At 5.15 p.m. one of the
"Gneisenau's" shells struck the
"Invincible"; this was her last effective
At 5.30 p.m. she turned
towards the flagship with a heavy list to
starboard, and appeared stopped, with steam
pouring from her escape-pipes, and smoke
from shell and fires rising everywhere.
About this time I ordered the signal "Cease
fire," but before it was hoisted the
"Gneisenau" opened fire again, and continued
to fire from time to time with a single gun.
At 5.40 p.m. the three
ships closed in on the "Gneisenau," and, at
this time, the flag flying at her fore truck
was apparently hauled down, but the flag at
the peak continued flying.
At 5.50 p.m. "Cease fire"
At 6 p.m. the "Gneisenau"
heeled over very suddenly, showing the men
gathered on her decks and then walking on
her side as she lay for a minute on her beam
ends before sinking.
The prisoners of war from
the "Gneisenau" report that, by the time the
ammunition was expended, some 600 men had
been killed and wounded. The surviving
officers and men were all ordered on deck
and told to provide themselves with hammocks
and any articles that could support them in
When the ship capsized
and sank there were probably some 200
unwounded survivors in the water, but, owing
to the shock of the cold water, many were
drowned within sight of the boats and ship.
Every effort was made to
save life as quickly as possible, both by
boats and from the ships; life-buoys were
thrown and ropes lowered, but only a
proportion could be rescued. The
"Invincible" alone rescued 108 men, fourteen
of whom were found to be dead after being
brought on board; these men were buried at
sea the following day with full military
ACTION WITH THE LIGHT CRUISERS.
At about 1 p.m., when the
"Scharnhorst" and "Gneisenau" turned to port
to engage the "Invincible" and "Inflexible”
the enemy's light cruisers turned to
starboard to escape; the "Dresden" was
leading and the "Nürnberg" and "Leipzig "
followed on each quarter.
In accordance with my
instructions, the "Glasgow," "Kent," and
"Cornwall" at once went in chase of these
ships; the "Carnarvon," whose speed was
insufficient to overtake them, closed the
The "Glasgow" drew well
ahead of the "Cornwall" and "Kent," and, at
3 p.m., shots were exchanged with the
"Leipzig" at 12,000 yards. The "Glasgow's"
object was to endeavour to outrange the
"Leipzig " with her 6-inch guns and thus
cause her to alter course and give the
"Cornwall" and "Kent" a chance of coming
At 4.17 p.m. the
"Cornwall" opened fire, also on the
At 7.17 p.m. the "Leipzig
" was on fire fore and aft, and the
"Cornwall " and " Glasgow " ceased fire.
The '' Leipzig'' turned
over on her port side and disappeared at 9
p.m. Seven officers and eleven men were
At 3.36 p.m. the
"Cornwall" ordered the "Kent" to engage the
"Nürnberg," the nearest cruiser to her.
Owing to the excellent
and strenuous efforts of the engine room
department, the "Kent" was able to get
within range of the "Nürnberg" at 5 p.m. At
6.35 p.m. the "Nürnberg" was on fire forward
and ceased firing. The "Kent" also ceased
firing and closed to 3,300 yards; as the
colours were still observed to be flying in
the "Nürnberg," the "Kent" opened fire
again. Fire was finally stopped five minutes
later on the colours being hauled down, and
every preparation was made to save life. The
"Nürnberg" sank at 7.27 p.m., and, as she
sank, a group of men were waving a German
ensign attached to a staff. Twelve men were
rescued, but only seven survived.
The "Kent" had four
killed and twelve wounded, mostly caused by
During the time the three
cruisers were engaged with the "Nürnberg"
and "Leipzig," the "Dresden," who was beyond
her consorts, effected her escape owing to
her superior speed. The "Glasgow" was the
only cruiser with sufficient speed to have
had any chance of success. However, she was
fully employed in engaging the "Leipzig" for
over an hour before either the "Cornwall" or
"Kent" could come up and get within range.
During this time the "Dresden" was able to
increase her distance and get out of sight.
The weather changed after
4 p.m., and the visibility was much reduced;
further, the sky was overcast and cloudy,
thus assisting the "Dresden" to get away
ACTION WITH THE ENEMY'S TRANSPORTS.
A report was received at
11.27 a.m. from H.M.S. "Bristol" that three
ships of the enemy, probably transports or
colliers, had appeared off Port Pleasant.
The "Bristol" was ordered to take the
"Macedonia" under his orders and destroy the
reports that only two ships, steamships
"Baden" and "Santa Isabel," were present;
both ships were sunk after the removal of
I have pleasure in
reporting that the officers and men under my
orders carried out their duties with
admirable efficiency and coolness, and great
credit is due to the Engineer Officers of
all the ships, several of which exceeded
their normal full speed.
The names of the
following are specially mentioned:
Herbert Denny Townsend, H.M.S.
Commander Arthur Edward
Frederick Bedford, H.M.S. "Kent."
Wilfred Arthur Thompson, H.M.S. "Glasgow."
Hubert Edward Danreuther, First and
Gunnery Lieutenant, H.M.S. "Invincible."
George Edward Andrew, H.M.S. "Kent."
Edward John Weeks, H.M.S. "Invincible."
Paymaster Cyril Sheldon
Johnson, H.M.S. "Invincible."
Carpenter Thomas Andrew
Walls, H.M.S. "Invincible."
Carpenter William Henry
Yenning, H.M.S. "Kent."
Carpenter George Henry
Egford, H.M.S. "Cornwall."
Officers and Men.
Chief Petty Officer
David Leighton, O.N. 124238; H.M.S.
Petty Officer, 2nd
Class, Matthew J. Walton (R.F.R., A.
1756), O.N. 118358, H.M.S. "Kent."
Frederick Sidney Martin, O.N. 233301,
H.M.S. "Invincible," Gunner's Mate,
Gunlayer, 1st Class.
Signalman Frank Glover,
O.N. 225731, H.M.S. "Cornwall."
Artificer, 2nd Class, John George Hill,
O.N. 269646, H.M.S. "Cornwall."
Engine-Room Artificer, 2nd Class, Robert
Snowdon, O.N. 270654, H.M.S. "Inflexible."
1st Class, George Henry Francis McCarten,
O.N. 270023, H.M.S. "Invincible."
Stoker Petty Officer
George S. Brewer, O.N. 150950, H.M.S.
Stoker Petty Officer
William Alfred Townsend, O.N. 301650,
Stoker, 1st Class, John
Smith, O.N. SS 111915, H.M.S. "Cornwall."
Shipwright, 1st Class,
Albert N. E. England, O.N. 341971, H.M.S.
Shipwright. 2nd Class,
Albert C. H. Dymott, O.N. M 8047, H.M.S.
/3807 Sergeant Charles Mayes, H.M.S.
F. C. D. STURDEE.