History tells us that on November 1, 1914, a British naval force under Admiral Cradock was crushingly defeated by a similar German force under Admiral von Spee off Coronel, Chile. We also learn that that same force under von Spee was annihilated by a British force Under Admiral Sturdee less than a month later in the battle of Falkland Islands.
These are the facts. With them, and with no undue display of imagination we can picture the gloom in London on the night the news of Coronel was flashed to the world. Men and women walking along the streets with heads bowed in reverent thought of the brave men who were then lying at the bottom of the Pacific; men and women unable to believe, and yet having to, that the Navy had been defeated, that Britain was no longer “Mistress of the Seas”; men and women accustomed to defeat in France and the ever- lengthening casualty lists being asked to accustom themselves to a new kind of defeat and to the thought of even more men who would never return. That was a dark night for England.