Monday, 24 February 2014

Sturdee's Squadron

This idea for an early WW1 naval campaign based on the exploits of the German East Asia Squadron commanded by von Spee, using Navwar 1/3000 scale ships and the free and versatile Berthier Campaign Manager software, keeps going round in my head (inspired by Geoffrey Bennett's excellent Naval Battles of the First World War).  I've already painted up the first two forces required and have now finished off von Spee's nemesis at the Battle of the Falklands, Sturdee's Squadron.

After having destroyed Craddock's forces at the Battle of Coronel on the west coast of South America (bar the Otranto and HMS Glasgow), the British despatched a much stronger force under Sturdee to the South Atlantic to deal with von Spee once and for all.
HMS Defence
This included the armoured cruiser HMS Defence (1908), which Craddock had been expecting before he set off to fairly certain death against von Spee at Coronel.  However, HMS Defence had been diverted away from Craddock on orders from the Admiralty, though they didn't bother to tell him that.  If HMS Defence had been there it might have made a significant difference at Coronel, with its four 9.2" main guns and ten 7.5" secondary armament.

Sturdee's force also included HMS Cornwall (1904) and HMS Kent (1903), the sister ships of HMS Monmouth (1903) that had been lost at Coronel.  When refighting the Battle of the Falklands the ill-fated HMS Monmouth can stand in for HMS Kent.
HMS Cornwall / HMS Kent
Other ships in the squadron included the fast but unarmoured light cruiser HMS Glasgow (1911) and her sister ship HMS Bristol (1911), as well as HMS Carnarvon (1904), which appears a sturdy looking vessel, if you pardon the pun.
HMS Carnarvon
However, the main feature of Sturdee's squadron were the two fast, modern and heavily armed Dreadnought battlecruisers, HMS Inflexible (1908) and HMS Invincible (1909), each equipped with eight massive 16" guns.
HMS Inflexible and HMS Invincible
These had been released from the Grand Fleet and their unexpected presence in the South Atlantic resulted in the destruction of the East Asia Squadron, partly because von Spee could not believe the reports that two tripod masted warships were anchored in Port William until it was too late.

Anyway, all in all, I've now got plenty of ships for covering all of the actions in the Pacific and South Atlantic and I intend to use the random 'army plans' feature of Berthier to allow some different scenarios to be played out, for example allowing Craddock to actually have HMS Defence at Coronel (or even HMS Canopus, which missed out on the destruction because of engine trouble).

Other scenarios could involve von Spee taking his captains' advice and deciding not to try to attack the Falkland Islands, but rather to continue up the eastern South American coast picking off allied merhantmen, or perhaps cross to the eastern Atlantic to try to elude the Allies and eventually get back to Germany.  Hopefully more on that in subsequent posts.


Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Nice work, excellent sea bases

I too have an avid interest in this period

Theer is also the potential of bottling the RN squadron up in Port Stanley rather than trying to escape

The Wishful Wargamer said...


Exactly - what if von Spee had decided to attack Sturdee when he was still anchored and coaling, with only an AMC on patrol outside, or if Canopus hadn't been there (perhaps lost or damaged at Coronel if it had not had engine/engineer trouble itself?). Could be an interesting little scenario...