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A thorough and thrilling account of a very famous encounter.
on 30 May 2008
The Battle of the River Plate was immortalised in a film in which Peter Finch played the dashing and very courteous Captain Langsdorf. In this account, however, we learn the true nature of events which led to loss of one of the most beautiful battleships ever constructed - the Admiral Graf Spee.
In a work which oozes careful and meticulous research, author Richard Woodman has provided both the historian and the casual reader with an excellent account of the end of a once great ship. It just so happened that the Graf Spee was already at sea when war was declared in 1939. Acting with all the courtesy of an officer of the old "Imperial" German Navy, Langsdorf executed an amazing string of heavy blows against the British Empire by attacking her shipping. Each vessel mentioned is also portrayed by sketch. Yes, it is true that he never sank a warship, but it is also true he never killed a single sailor on any of the merchant ships he encountered.
At the beginning of this colossal adventure, time was on Langsdorf's side. At the end, however, that time ran out and, acting on instructions from Hitler himself, Langsdorf scuttled his ship outside Montevideo harbour and then returned to his hotel room where he committed suicide - having never given a Nazi Salute in his life. The time was December 1939 and, although gutted by explosion and fire, it was not until 1950 that the mighty Graf Spee finally disappeared below the waves - having continued to slowly sink into the muddy seabed which became her grave.
For those who think they already know this story, there is much new information and, therefore, much to be learned from reading this full account. Furthermore, this author has made it all so very riveting, it really is a book which is hard to put down until finished.