Vice Admiral Graf von Spee's Report


Wind and swell were head on and the vessels had heavy going, especially the small cruisers on both sides. Observation and distance estimation were under a severe handicap because of the seas which washed over the bridges. The swell was so great that it obscured the aim of the gunners at the six inch guns on the middle deck, who could not see the sterns of the enemy ships at all and the bow but seldom. At 6.20 p.m., at a distance of 13,400 yards, I turned one point toward the enemy, and at 6.34 opened fire at a distance of 11,260 yards. The guns of both our armoured cruisers were effective, and by 6.39 already we could note the first hit on the Good Hope. I at once resumed a parallel course instead of bearing slightly toward the enemy.

The English opened their fire at this time. I assume that the heavy sea made more trouble for them than it did for us. Their two armoured cruisers remained covered by our fire, while they, so far as could be determined, hit the Scharnhorst but twice and the Gneisenau only four times.

At 6.53, when 6,500 yards apart, I ordered a course one point away from the enemy. They were firing more slowly at this time, while we were able to count numerous hits. We could see, among other things, that the top of the Monmouth's forward turret had been shot away and that a violent fire was burning in the turret. The Scharnhorst, it is thought, hit the Good Hope about thirty-five times.

In spite of our altered course the English changed theirs sufficiently so that the distance between us shrunk to 5,300 yards. There was reason to suspect that the enemy despaired of using his artillery effectively and was manoeuvring for a torpedo attack. The position of the moon, which had risen at 6 o'clock, was favourable to this move. Accordingly, I gradually opened up further distance between the squadrons by another deflection of the leading ship at 7.45. In the meantime it had grown dark. The range-finder on the Scharnhorst used the fire on the Monmouth as a guide for a time, though eventually all range-finding, aiming, and observation became so inexact that firing was stopped at 7.26.

At 7.23 a column of fire from an explosion was noticed between the stacks of the Good Hope. The Monmouth apparently stopped firing at 7.20. The small cruisers, including the Nürnberg, received by wireless at 7.30 the order to follow the enemy and to attack his ships with torpedoes. Vision was somewhat obscured at this time by a rain squall. The light cruisers were not able to find the Good Hope, but the Nürnberg encountered the Monmouth, and at 8.58 was able by shots at closest range to capsize her without a single shot being fired in return. Rescue work in the heavy sea was not to be thought of; especially as the Nürnberg immediately afterward believed she had sighted the smoke of another ship and had to prepare for a new attack.

The small cruisers had neither losses nor damage in the battle. On the Gneisenau there were two men slightly wounded. The crews of the ships went into the fight with enthusiasm; every one did his duty and played his part in the victory.