Although the Royal Navy had a large number of ships at the outbreak of the First World War, many of them were old designs and were not really fit to face many of the more modern ships in the German navy. In the first two months of the First World War, the Royal Navy lost a surprising number of ships, either due to of German mine-laying or their effective use of submarines. Large Royal Navy ships such as HMSs Amphion, Pathfinder, Aboukir, Hogue and Cressy were all lost with considerable loss of life.
Away from the waters closer to home, ships of the Royal Navy were still flying the flag and protecting our interests in southern hemisphere. There are plenty of detailed descriptions of both the battle of Coronel on 1 November 1914, where the ships HMS Monmouth and HMS Good Hope were both sunk, and for the Battle of the Falklands on 8 December 1914, online and in published sources. The majority of the published works are based on records held here at The National Archives.
Catalogue improvements made over the last 2 years now enable researchers to find documents relating both battles far more easily than five years ago. Find some of our most important records relating to the battle of Coronel and the battle of the Falklands. You can read more about them in our interactive map the First World War: A global view.
Unlike many of the online resources relating to British participants in the two battles, the complete range of Admiralty records from medal records, service records, casualty list and reports, ship’s logs for example, are only available here at Kew.
My own interest in naval operations off the Falkland Islands started in 1982 but that as they say is another blog post!