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The Sinking of the Admiral Graf Spee, 17 December 1939

Posted by Marcus Faulkner, on March 13th, 2016


This article covers the strategic position at sea at the beginning of WWII, the deployment of the Kriegsmarine commerce raiders Admiral Graf Spee and Gneisenau, the Battle of the River Plate and the subsequent scuttling of the Admiral Graf Spee.  The damaged Admiral Graf Spee entered Montevideo harbour with her support ship Tacoma.  A diplomatic game took place in Montevideo with the object of convincing Captain Langsdorff, whose crew had mutinied, that he faced a superior force. The damaged Admiral Graf Spee left Montevideo Harbour and was scuttled. The letter is from an unidentified author to a family friend. The author may be Captain Henry Daniel, a Master Mariner who in 1939 was employed by Houlder Brothers as Marine Superintendent in Montevideo. It records with charm and exuberance the excitement of neutral Uruguayans and the ex-pat community at their temporary involvement in the world war, the deployment of British pensioners as spies, and the dramatic picture of the scuttling. Later the author’s very young daughters met Admiral Sir Henry Harwood of HMS Ajax and were apparently smitten.

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