Steel Fleet   Battle of Coronel Miscellaneous notes
bulletvon Spee's speed
bulletHMS Monmouth


  Speed of the East Asia Squadron
The SMS Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were apparently clocked at nearly twenty-two knots at Falkland Islands so we can assume this for Coronel also; there is no mention of significant maintenance between the two engagements. And we can also assume the remaining light cruisers are even quicker; though they varied with Dresden unanimously considered the fastest. Thus von Spee's battle line at Coronel seems capable of at least this speed in normal sea conditions. On the afternoon of Coronel, however, sea conditions were far from normal so maximum speed of the divisions sailing directly into a strong southerly must be reduced.

Pitt quotes sixteen knots for Nurnberg with boilers needing overhaul and a damaged propeller but she was late to the battle and was not involved in the initial gunnery exchange.

The condition of Monmouth's boilers and machinery is raised in several histories, due to her apparently abbreviated or skipped refit or some other deficiency of her equipment and these suggest a number of issues. Steam boilers of Monmouth's vintage required periodic, almost constant, maintenance of varying degree depending on wear, time and opportunity. The phrase 'taken off the dockyard wall' suggests that Monmouth was perhaps recommissioned prematurely and to the degree that she may have skipped overhaul she surely would have been unlikely to make her design speed of twenty-three knots.

Royal Navy crews of 'reservists'
Most of the histories which cover the battle of Coronel mention the inexperience of the crews of both HMS Good Hope and particularly HMS Monmouth, as noted by an enterprising amateur researcher here:

Bennett (p17): ...Good Hope [had] a crew including more than 90 per cent reservists...

Bennett (p18): ‘[Monmouth] was practically condemned as unfit for further service’ wrote one of the Carnarvon's midshipmen, ‘but was hauled off the dockyard wall and commissioned with a scratch crew.’

Bennett (p75): ...[Monmouth sailed] a little later because she happened to be refitting after a commission on the China Station...

Pitt (p5): Monmouth with her crew of Scottish fishermen and coastguards, her twelve young naval cadets fresh from Dartmouth, and her outdated engines kept going only by superhuman efforts on the part of Engineer-Commander Wilshin and his staff...

Pitt (p8): The vast majority [of the crews of Good Hope and Monmouth] had been happily pursuing civilian vocations less than six months before...

Hough (p91): ...the Good Hope, only recently commissioned and with a raw crew that included a number of reservists, cadets, midshipmen and boys as young as fifteen...Monmouth also with a raw crew...

Hirst (p15): [Monmouth] had been practically condemned as unfit for further service but was hauled off the dockyard wall, commissioned with a scratch crew of coastguardsmen and boys.
It seems however that this is contradicted by analysis of service records, to some degree, and the record of Hansard, as follows, with emphasis added in this citation:
LOSS OF H.M.S. "GOOD HOPE" AND "MONMOUTH." HC Deb 23 December 1915 vol 77 c622W §

Commander BELLAIRS asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, in view of his predecessor having asked for publicity in the matter, whether he will state, in reference to His Majesty's ship "Good Hope" and His Majesty's ship "Monmouth," whether these vessels were commissioned on the outbreak of war with men from the reserves who are not so efficient as active service ratings; and whether, since the vessels were lost at the battle of Coronel, he can, without detriment to the public interest, give the dates for retubing the inner A-tubes of the guns of both ships so that the House may be in a position to judge as to their fitness for action?

Mr. BALFOUR These vessels were not commissioned entirely with reserve ratings. Each of them had on board not less than the authorised proportion of active service ratings; and, in fact, His Majesty's ship "Monmouth" had a crew composed almost entirely of active service men. No guns in these ships had been retubed: they were all serviceable.
Thanks to anonymous poster Bart150 and others at the Great War Forum for this information and links to Hansard.

Shaun Appleby 02 August 2014
Please note that links on designer's notes pages often redirect to existing topics on other relevant designer's notes pages.

Home Up

All rights reserved by Isis Systems P/L and licensor where applicable © 2001-2014

Hit Counter