Graf Spee's Raiders: Challenge to the Royal Navy, 1914-1915
by Keith Yates
Although many have heard of the German battleship Graf Spee that sank off Montevideo in 1939, few know anything about the naval hero it was named ... Show synopsis Although many have heard of the German battleship Graf Spee that sank off Montevideo in 1939, few know anything about the naval hero it was named after and the crucial role Admiral Spee played in the annals of history. In this fascinating story, the author relates how early in World War I Spee and his gallant men gave the Imperial German Navy the confidence to challenge the Royal Navy's long-held supremacy at sea. He offers a lively narrative of the short but dramatic careers of Spee's eight ships, a story that's filled with cat-and-mouse chases, hit-and-run attacks, and two major sea battles. In November 1914 Graf Spee and his cruisers inflicted the only defeat the Royal Navy had suffered in more than a hundred years. In the first pitched sea battle of the war, the Germans sent two British warships to the bottom of the South Pacific and forced two others to flee. Their brilliant exploits were out of all proportion to the numbers and strength of the admiral's ships, and the brave and often chivalrous behavior of his men earned them acclaim from enemies and countrymen alike. The British ultimately prevailed, however, and destroyed all eight German raiders, including the daunting Emden. The final blow came with the devastation of the Konigsberg in the first air-sea operation in history. As the author points out, this loss helped to convince the Germans to concentrate on their more deadly U-boats. That Spee's ships survived for as long as they did is a reflection of the primitive state of communications and methods of detection available in 1914. Their demise was as much by chance and coincidence at it was by good planning and concerted action by the British. The book includes material onseveral German and British ship and squadron commanders and provides a detailed overview of the opening months of the war in the Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans. The fact that many distinctive conflicts and legendary ships are featured in this lively and educational book adds to its appeal to the general reader as well as to naval historians.