Falkland Islands, Battle of 1914

Falkland Islands, Battle of (1914)

 

a sea battle during World War I, fought between the German cruiser squadron commanded by Vice Admiral M. von Spee and the British squadron commanded by Admiral F. D. Sturdee. The battle took place on December 8 near the Falkland Islands.

The German squadron, comprising two armored and three light cruisers, two transport ships, and a hospital ship, having completed its mission of diverting sizable British naval forces, was ordered to break through to Germany. Unaware of the disposition of the British ships, Spee decided to attack the British naval base at Stanley in the Falkland Islands, where a British squadron was located. The British squadron comprised one battleship, two battle cruisers, three armored cruisers, and two light cruisers. Encountering unexpectedly stiff resistance, Spee attempted to withdraw, but his squadron was overtaken by the British. Spee ordered his light cruisers and transport ships to retreat in different directions, whereupon the British armored and light cruisers gave chase. At the same time, the British battle cruisers engaged the German armored cruisers and sank them. Two German light cruisers and the transport ships were destroyed. Only the cruiser Dresden and the hospital ship managed to escape.

As a result of the British victory at the Falkland Islands, the British command was no longer under pressure to allocate substantial forces to secondary theaters of operations, and the German command suffered the loss of a strong cruiser squadron.

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