8 December

The Battle of the Falkland Islands was a British naval victory over the Imperial German Navy on this day in 1914 during the First World War in the South Atlantic. The British, after a defeat at the Battle of Coronel on 1 November, sent a large force to track down and destroy the victorious German cruiser squadron.

Admiral Graf Maximilian von Spee—commanding the German squadron of two armoured cruisers, SMS Scharnhorst and SMS Gneisenau, the light cruisers SMS Nürnberg (1906), SMS Dresden and SMS Leipzig, and three auxiliaries—attempted to raid the British supply base at Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands. A larger British squadron—consisting of the battlecruisers HMS Invincible and HMS Inflexible, the armoured cruisers HMS Carnarvon, HMS Cornwall and HMS Kent, the armed merchant cruiser HMS Macedonia and the light cruisers HMS Bristol and HMS Glasgow — had arrived in the port only the day before.

Visibility was at its maximum, the sea was placid with a gentle breeze from the northwest, and the day was bright and sunny. The advance cruisers of the German squadron had been detected early on. By nine o’clock that morning the British battlecruisers and cruisers were in hot pursuit of the five German vessels, these having taken flight in line abreast to the southeast. All except Dresden and the auxiliary Seydlitz were hunted down and sunk.