On 1 November 1914 the Royal Navy suffered its first defeat of the First World War, with Graf Maximilian von Spee’s forces securing victory over a squadron led by Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock at the Battle of Coronel. The British were outnumbered and outgunned, but Cradock was convinced that his orders were to fight to the end. By the end of the battle the British had lost HMS Good Hope and HMS Monmouth, with the German fleet emerging almost entirely unscathed.
The photograph below shows the victorious German squadron leaving Valparaiso on 3 November 1914.
What they did not realise was that their victory at the Battle of Coronel had caused the British to send a large force to track down and destroy the German cruiser squadron. The majority of the ships in this photograph would be sunk at the Battle of the Falkland Islands a little over a month later.
To read more about the battle of Coronel and the events that followed take a look at Campaign 248: Coronel and Falklands 1914. We also have a range of New Vanguard titles looking at World War One vessels, such as New Vanguard 200: British Battleships 1914–18 (1), Duel 31: British Dreadnought vs German Dreadnought and New Vanguard 227: Ottoman Navy Warships 1914–18.