Did German raiders use Chile's Juan Fernandez Is. in WWII?

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ohrdruf
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Re: Did German raiders use Chile's Juan Fernandez Is. in WWII?

Post by ohrdruf » 08 Jan 2009 13:58

I believe that the German complaint was that "Admiral Graf Spee" was within the three mile limit. She had deliberately moved towards the coast to obtain the protection of neutral waters and had ceased firing in compliance with international law, but one of the British light cruisers continued to fire at her. I have been to the Goethe Institut this morning to check this in the reference library but unfortunately I find them enjoying a New Year break until 23 February and so I shall have to discontinue my participation in this thread until then.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Did German raiders use Chile's Juan Fernandez Is. in WWII?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 08 Jan 2009 16:59

Hi Ohdruf,

Wow! I wish I worked at the Goethe Institut - a seven week New Year break is very appealing!

I guess they are stock taking.

Cheers,

Sid.

ohrdruf
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Re: Did German raiders use Chile's Juan Fernandez Is. in WWII?

Post by ohrdruf » 12 Jan 2009 13:35

I have found my notes on an old disk which read as follows:

"At 1800 on Wednesday 13 December 1939 off Punta del Este, the headland separating the River Plate from the Atlantic, the cruiser "Uruguay" observed the approach of the "Admiral Graf Spee".

At 1844 it was seen that the German ship was being pursued by a light cruiser on her port quarter. This was HMNZS "Ajax". The German ship was holding her at bay with desultory rounds of fire, to which "Ajax" responded by making smoke. The German ship was making 18 knots and heading towards Montevideo.

"Admiral Graf Spee" entered Uruguayan waters two miles off Isla de Lobos. At 1930 hrs when close to Punta Ballena and within Uruguayan neutral waters the pursuing cruiser hoisted her battle ensign which was taken as a signal that she proposed to open fire contrary to international law.

While "Admiral Graf Spee" and "Ajax" were both inside Uruguayan neutral waters off Punta Negra, "Ajax" opened fire at 1950, initiating an exchange which lasted for the next fifty minutes.

Upon registering his complaint at Montevideo, Langsdorff's allegation that the British warship had fired first was supported by Captain Fuentes of "Uruguay" in his report to the Inspector General, Uruguayan Navy(1).

"At 1950 hrs the British warship on a westerly heading opened fire off Punta Negra at about eight miles from the mainland coast and within waters of Uruguayan jurisdiction. The German battleship, which was between the British warship and Buoy E of the English Bank, returned fire." (Informe Reservado No 56, 1685 (40700) 14 December 1939.)

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Did German raiders use Chile's Juan Fernandez Is. in WWII?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 12 Jan 2009 15:01

Hi Ohdruf,

Surely, eight miles is outside the then internationally-recognized three-mile limit?

Uruguay and Argentina were trying to claim more extensive waters in the Plate Estuary, as I mentioned earlier, but these were not internationally recognized. Both the Germans and British rejected Uruguayan diplomatic protests.

Cheers,

Sid.

ohrdruf
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Re: Did German raiders use Chile's Juan Fernandez Is. in WWII?

Post by ohrdruf » 12 Jan 2009 17:00

The report states "eight miles from the mainland". However you should remember that as with the Juan Fernandez archipelago off Chile, all islands, skerries, exposed banks and so forth count as territory of the nation to which they are part and the three-mile limit obviously extends around them.

The Germans made no claim based on the imaginative local extension of the waters of the River Plate. The only incident involving this claim occurred when an Argentine gunboat fired on a sea plane scouting from one of the British light cruisers on 17 December 1939.

I now have the summary of the German complaints of bias and lack of neutrality levelled against the Uruguayan Government in connection with the "Admiral Graf Spee" incident.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Did German raiders use Chile's Juan Fernandez Is. in WWII?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 13 Jan 2009 12:50

Hi Ohdruf,

One would have thought that if Uruguayan waters were in question, then the report would have referred to to the relevant spot from which they were measured.

Do you have details of the claimed firing by an Argentine vessel on a British seaplane on 17 December? What is the source?

Cheers,

Sid.

ohrdruf
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Re: Did German raiders use Chile's Juan Fernandez Is. in WWII?

Post by ohrdruf » 13 Jan 2009 14:13

Dear Sid

I thought you were the stickler for protocol and detail. You have to get a chart to gain your personal impression of the course followed, before that it is pointless arguing.

As I said, I have the notes I used to put the article together, but I cannot get at the references or charts or even the title of the book I was using until 23 February. This is my synopsis of the incident in international waters to which you refer (16 December, and not 17th):

"...FKpt Jürgen Wattenberg hired a private aircraft to overfly the River Plate beyond Uruguayan territorial waters in order to determine what British naval forces were in the area. The Uruguayan and Argentine Governments had prohibited all flights over the zone and the Uruguayan pilot did not leave the coast in the 15 minutes the flight lasted. A Seafox naval aircraft catapulted from "Ajax" to reconnoitre Montevideo harbour was fired on near the Whistle Buoy: since it was the only vessel in the area this must have been the Argentine gunboat stationed there."

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Did German raiders use Chile's Juan Fernandez Is. in WWII?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 15 Jan 2009 12:12

Hi Ohdruf,

I have such a chart showing the courses of Graf Spee, two British cruisers and the Uruguay.

Regarding the claimed firing by an Argentine warship on a British Seafox: I have checked on an Argentine military history forum to which I belong and been told that they have no knowledge of such an incident. Nor does the excellent Histarmar Argentine naval site mention it. (I would also add that I did not note any reference to it in a multi-volume history of the Argentine Navy I looked at in the BL last year).

I would suggest that your memory may be at fault.

You originally reported it firmly as, "....an Argentine gunboat fired on a sea plane scouting from one of the British light cruisers on 17 December 1939".

Your last formulation was "A Seafox naval aircraft catapulted from "Ajax" to reconnoitre Montevideo harbour was fired on near the Whistle Buoy: since it was the only vessel in the area this must have been the Argentine gunboat stationed there.". This is an usupported piece of deductive reasoning of indeterminate value.

As there seem to be no Argentine report of such an event, I would suggest that it must be treated as a false lead unless you can provide something substantive from the British side.

Cheers,

Sid.

ohrdruf
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Re: Did German raiders use Chile's Juan Fernandez Is. in WWII?

Post by ohrdruf » 15 Jan 2009 14:12

I object to it being suggested that my memory is at fault when I am working from notes copied from a Uruguayan account. As I explained previously I cannot review my source until 23 February. The deductive reasoning is not mine but that of the author of the Uruguayan report. I do not consider there is anything to be gained from pursuing this thread and I do not propose to persevere with it any further. There are lots of other people you can argue with on the forum and I suggest you seek them out.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Did German raiders use Chile's Juan Fernandez Is. in WWII?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 16 Jan 2009 11:57

Hi Ohdruf,

As you know from previous experience, I like to double check things.

On this occasion I can find no confirmation from either the supposed firers (Argentina), nor the supposed target (UK).

As it stands, you cannot currently provide a source, and the one you refer to is Uruguayan, which was neither the firer nor the target.

In the circumstances, don't you think outside observers are entitled to be a little sceptical?

I am happy to hold this thread in abeyance until 23 February.

Cheers,

Sid.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Did German raiders use Chile's Juan Fernandez Is. in WWII?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 17 Jan 2009 11:56

Hi Ohdruf,

I think your source for the firing-in-territorial-waters alegation is a report by Captain F. J. Fuentes of the Uruguay on 14 December 1939 to his own Inspector-General of the Navy.

In it he states "At 7.50 the English ship on a W. course opens fire when off Punta Negra, about eight miles from the coast and within territorial waters".

At that time Uruguay's internationally recognised waters were 3 miles from the coast.

Fuentes is referring to a claim by Argentina and Uruguay to the entire Plate Estuary between Punta del Este in Uruguay and Cabo Antonio - a distance of some 120 sea miles. This claim was recognized by neither Germany, nor the UK, nor the wider international community.

Cheers,

Sid.

BernardO
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Re: Did German raiders use Chile's Juan Fernandez Is. in WWII?

Post by BernardO » 31 Oct 2021 10:15

Might there be any accounts of the escapes of the estimated 250 officers and crew?

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