Admiral Cradock's Sacrifice

Newspaper article - Admiral Cradocks Sacrifice (1)

Newspaper article - Admiral Cradocks Sacrifice (2)



Mr Blafour, First Lord of the Admiralty, delivered an address yesterday in York Mister, on the occasion of the un-veiling of a mural monument to the late Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock, KNVO, CR, who gallantly went down with his ship, the Good Hope, in the battle of Coronel on November 1, 1914.

The stately fane was thronged with a congregation from all parts of Yorkshire, of which county the late naval officer was a native.

The memorial is in marble and alabaster, the inscription being as follows:

To the glory of God
In memory of
Who gallantly upholding
the high tradition of the British Navy
led his squadron
Against an overwhelming force of the Enemy
Off Coronel, on the coast of Chile
And fell gloriously in action
On All Saints’ Day, 1914
“God forbid that I should do this thing, To flee away from them:
If our time be come, let us die manfully for our brethren
And let us not stain our honour.”
I. Maccabeas ix 10
This monument is erected by his
grateful countrymen.

The memorial has been placed in the north transept, near the entrance to the north choir aisle. Prior to yesterday’s solemn ceremony it was hidden by a hugh Union Jack, and was surmounted by two flags from the Princess Royal battleship, theses two emblems remaining in position after the unveiling. The Princess Royal was represented by Commander Cavendish, a fact recalling the loss of the Delhi, on which occasion Admiral Cradock rendered service to the shipwrecked passengers, amongst whom were the then Duke and Duchess of Fife.

Dignity and solemnity marked the service, which lasted about an hour and a half.


After the bugles had sounded the Last Post, Mr Balfour said: I venture to address you not as a personal friend of Admiral Cradock, but as one who for the time being represents that great naval service which never stood higher, either in the trust or in the affection of the people, or in the confidence which it inspires among our Allies, that it does at the present moment.

It may seem, perhaps, something of a paradox that at the very moment when sounds of victory are in our ears we should be here to commemorate a naval occasion on which victory did not crown our arms, and in which failure, though a glorious failure, was the lot of those who represented us, and yet I think it is a true instinct that makes the people not merely of Yorkshire, but of Britain, recognise in Admiral Cradock they are dealing with more than the gallant commander of an unsuccessful action.

They recognise that his name deserves to be enrolled among those who in this tremendous struggle heave held high the honour of their country.


I do not know whether it has occurred to many of you to consider the circumstances of that naval action which ended in the heroic death of Admiral Cradock. I have seen a statement in a German letter, written in no critical or hostile spirit, in which it was assumed the Admiral Cradock was intercepted by a superior German force, was brought to action against his will, and fell crushed by the sheer weight of superior force.

That is not the fact. We know from a wireless message sent by Admiral Cradock to the distant Canopus that he intended to attack the enemy.

Why did he attack a force which he could not have reasonably hoped either to destroy or put to flight ? I think a satisfactory explanation can be given. The German Admiral was far from any port where he could have refitted, and no friendly bases were open to him. I, therefore, he suffered damage, even though in suffering damage he apparently inflicted greater damage than he received, yet his power for evil while he remained untouched might suddenly, as by a stroke of the enchanter’s wand, be utterly destroyed.

He would be a great peril as long as his squadron remained efficient, and Admiral Cradock had no reason to foresee the battle of the Falkland Islands, which, within a few weeks, put an utter and complete end to the force with which he had been unsuccessfully engaged. He could only judge by the circumstances that were before him, and if judged that his squadron, that be himself and those under him were well sacrificed, if they destroyed the power of this hostile fleet, then I say that there is no man, be he sailor or be he civilian, but would say that such a judgement showed not only the highest courage, but the greatest courage, and unselfishness, and that Admiral Cradock by absolute neglect of personal interests and personal ambitions had shown a wise judgement in the interests of his country, and proved himself to have been what all his friends know his to have been – a man who never would allow questions of personal pride or personal ambition to stand for one instant in the way of that which he conceived to be his duty to his country.

If I am right in the account, which I have given, of the motives which animated him, there never was a nobler act, unsuccessful though it was, than that which he performed off the coast of South America.

Reproduced from The Daily Chronical, dated November 9th, 1915/6.
Supplied by J.D.Atkinson


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