January 23, 2019|

The Battle of Coronel – The Wickham Connection

The Battle of Coronel took place on 1st November 1914 off the coast of Central Chile.

Britain knew from radio messages that Germany’s East Asiatic squadron, under Admiral Graf Maximilian von Spee, was trying to elude the British and Japanese ships as it sailed eastwards from the Caroline Islands across the Pacific.

A British Squadron commanded by Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock on his flagship HMS Good Hope was sent to rendezvous with reinforcements off the Brazilian coast before seeking the Germans.

The British squadron was vastly inferior, consisting of a few lightly armed and mainly obsolete cruisers, whereas von Spee’s squadron had five modern cruisers including the Scharnhorst and Geisnau. Cradock understood that he was to confront the German force and to expect further reinforcements but after several days of confusing radio communications with the Admiralty, his Squadron was split in two with half being diverted into the Atlantic – and reinforcements were refused (by Winston Churchill).

In the late afternoon of 1 November 1914, the British squadron met and engaged the German squadron at Coronel, off the Chilean coast. After repeated hits from the German gun crews, Good Hope suffered a magazine explosion and was sunk with all hands, a total of 919 officers and enlisted men.

The Monmouth followed two hours later, after attempting to withdraw and being sunk by the Nurberg, a German light cruiser. Again there were no survivors.

Nearly 1,600 men, including Cradock himself, perished along with the two ships; it was the Royal Navy’s worst defeat in more than a century.

The following men lost their lives in the sinking of HMS Good Hope:

DREDGE William John Private, Marine Light Infantry.
Died 01/11/1914 Age 24.

HARDING George Chief Stoker, Royal Navy.
Died 01/11/1914 Age 36.

WINWOOD William Able Seaman, Royal Navy.
Died 01/11/1914 Age 25.

These men are all remembered on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Portsmouth, Hampshire.

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