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The Battle Of The River Plate Puzzle Logo
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During the first few months of the war British merchant ships were attacked and Sunk by the Nazis. An attempt by the Nazis to isolate Britain within its island was showing some results. Being an island Britain depended much on its merchant navy and imports for its survival, which made her merchant ships important targets to the Nazi's if they were to put a stranglehold on Britain. The Nazis had a powerful presence in the Atlantic in the shape of its pocket battleship the 'Admiral Graf Spee'. It would be an encounter with the Graf Spee that would lead to Britain's first success of the war.

On 13th December, 1939, the Graf Spee was intercepted by the British South Atlantic squadron. The squadron consisted of the cruiser Exeter, the light cruiser Ajax and the Royal New Zealand Navy cruiser Achilles.

The British Commander, Commodore Harwood, split his force so denying the Graf Spee a single target for her powerful guns and so effecting its performance and ability to destroy. A running battle lasted for two hours as the Graf Spee dodged in and out of range of the pursuing British force.

Captain Langsdorff, Graf Spee, set course for the neutral safe port of Montevideo, Uruguay. The British force waited outside for the Graf Spee to re-emerge so it could engage the battleship. Believing that the British force had been strengthened Langsdorff asked if he could remain in the port, but his request was denied and he was ordered to leave Montevideo within 72 hours.

The fate of the Graf Spee was determined by the actions of its Captain. Langsdorff, who after burying his dead, gave the order for the Graf Spee to leave the port of Montevideo. Instead of engaging the British force he scuttled the battleship in the River Plate.

Two days after the Graf Spee had been scuttled Captain Langsdorff committed suicide. On the other hand Winston Churchill (First Lord of the Admiralty) made the most out of this victory, and the news of the destruction of the Graf Spee was warmly greeted in Britain, its propaganda value being priceless.

Winston Churchill (The First Admiral): "The news that has come from Montevideo has been received with thankfulness in our Island, and with unconcealed satisfaction throughout the greater part of the world. The pocket battleship The Graf Spee, which has been for many weeks in the South Atlantic, has met her doom."

On 20th January 1940, the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill made a radio broadcast from London. The broadcast informed the nation of the 'War Situation' after the first five months of the conflict. He endnd the broadcast with : "The day will come when the joybells will ring again throughout Europe, and when victorious nations, masters not only of their foes but of themselves, will plan and build in justice, in tradition, and in freedom a house of many mansions where there will be room for all." (The complete speech).

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For those visitors that have entered to this site, directly to this page, we would like to inform you that this page is part of a series of pages, within a section that acts as a backdrop to 'The Puzzle' project. 'The Puzzle' is a musical project that looks at different events from the 20th-21st Century.

This section is part of the 'World War II' zone. 'A Promise Of Peace' tells the story, in chronological order, of World War II.

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