World War One Naval Battles in South American Waters

At the start of World War One, the coasts of Chile and Argentina witnessed three Naval Battles: the Battle of Coronel and the Battle of the Falkland Islands, both in 1914, and the Battle of Mas a Tierra soon after. Close to the first centenary, they are the topic of this book. It includes maps, photos, comments from the Chilean (British) author and valuable unknown vintage photos. More

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Words: 10,340
Language: English
ISBN: 9781311719270
About Joan Veronica Robertson

I am a Chilean citizen by birth and a British national due to my dual nationality status. I have lived most of my life in Chile, where I hold a teaching certificate and a Master’s degree in Education. I am now retired from active work and spend most of my time writing. I do love to write!

My second love is teaching. I'm a Math and Physics teacher but at the moment I'm teaching English as a second language to Spanish speaking adults and young adults. I love that too!

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Review by: William Edmundson on May 25, 2014 : (no rating)
Writing in 'The World Crisis', Winston Churchill described the Battle of Coronel which took place on 1 November 1914 as “the saddest naval action in the war,” in part because nine out of ten of the men facing each other off the coast of Chile were doomed to die in this battle and the following Battle of the Falklands. In part too, because the battle in Chilean seas was the first naval defeat for Britain and ‘Rule Britannia’ in over one hundred years. Joan Robertson provides an introduction to these two battles and the ensuing chase after the German light cruiser Dresden, which will interest any reader who is not familiar with these sea battles and their strategic importance in the Great War. As an Anglo-Chilean, the author provides a refreshing perspective from the vantage point of Chile, that brings little known details of the actions to light, such as the German fleet stopping at Easter Island prior to the first battle; the search for the Dresden in the fjords of the Patagonian archipelago; and the internment of German officers and seamen from the Dresden on the island of Quiriquina in the Bay of Concepción, including the ship’s intelligence officer who, as Admiral Canaris, became responsible for German military intelligence in the Second World War. There is also information, with photos, on the memorials to the Battle of Coronel which can be found in Chile. For those not familiar with the geography of the region, Joan Robertson has provided maps. I found it especially striking that the author tells the intriguing story of British seamen’s bodies being washed up on the Chilean shore after the Battle of Coronel – a detail which is not mentioned in other works. I too have researched this possibility, and, while I very much hope this can be verified, the reports still need corroboration from other sources, which, I am happy to say, the author seems determined to follow up. I also enjoyed the story of the Dresden hiding in Tierra del Fuego; an account which merits enlargement and a full comprehensive account of what happened in a future book. All in all, Joan Robertson is to be congratulated for providing an account of these key battles from the perspective of a country – Chile – which bore witness to now largely forgotten events that unfolded in the early stages of the Great War many thousands of miles from the European theatre of war.
William Edmundson: Author of A history of the British presence in Chile (Palgrave); The Nitrate King: a biography of John Thomas North (Palgrave); and co-author of A history of whaling in Brazil (editora DISAL, forthcoming).
(reviewed the day of purchase)

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