Battle of Coronel remembered at a service in Monmouth
The Monmouth branch of the Royal Naval Association commemorated the loss of HMS Monmouth at the Battle of Coronel on 1 November 1914 at a memorial service held at St Mary's Priory church in Monmouth on Saturday, 1 November 2014. The FIA was represented by Alan Huckle, Chairman, and Colin Wright, Hon. Secretary.
The service was well attended and dignified by the presence of the Mayor. Commodore Toby Elliott RN outlined the detail of the battle and its historical significance and Lt.Cdr. Andrew Ainsley RN, Executive Officer of the current HMS Monmouth, read the second lesson. In a moving ceremony, descendants of crew members serving on the ship in 1914 laid wreaths at the HMS Monmouth memorial. After the service, the Mayor hosted a buffet reception at the Shire Hall and most then attended a showing of the 1927 film of the Battles of Coronel and the Falkland Islands, recently restored by the British Film Institute.
The naval battle of Coronel was the first major engagement between the German and British navies in WW1 and resulted in the first defeat of a British naval squadron for over 100 years. Ships of the German East Asiatic cruiser squadron, under the command of Vice-Admiral Graf von Spee, sank HMS Monmouth and Rear-Admiral Cradock's flag ship, HMS Good Hope, with the loss of all on board. On HMS Monmouth, 734 personnel died (42 officers and 692 ratings) including 24 Royal Marine band members and 46 boy sailors (whose only service will have been to have sailed with the ship from the UK to their death at Coronel). There was no possibility of rescue because of heavy seas and night-time conditions.