13th December 2020
The anniversary of this battle is today, which was fought on Wednesday 13th December, 1939.
My number 13. Well, Baldmichael has two ‘L’s and Sirplanter has one and Theresoluteprotector’sson has one more. Four ‘L’s, and 13 is meant to be lucky (although as I have said before I don’t believe in luck, really you make your own).
Anyway, it, the battle, was a welcome naval victory for us Brits early on in the war. However, not strictly complete until the German Graf Spee was scuttled on Sunday 17th .
I thought I should do my own take to commemorate the brave men of the Royal Navy from the UK and New Zealand. A bit different of course, but it may amuse. And make you think and remember. Here goes.
There was a great sea battle fought on the River Plate where plates were cleaned in South America. The river lies between two countries; You’re a guy and Ah! Gent tea na.
You’re a guy is an obvious statement, but little else is known about this guy, except that he is male of course.
Ah! Gent tea? Na refers to the fact that he was a gent or gentleman who didn’t like tea. He had silvery hair from Argent, the alternative spelling of Ah! Gent.
There are some who say that Ah! Gent should be agent, as in the German agents who hung out with him.
He had a good air about him, despite the German agents, which explains its capital city.
You’re a guy is much smaller than Ah! Gent tea na, so odd this is not mentioned in the name. Such as You’re a guy minute, which is very small (not a time interval). Perhaps it is just rather a long name to have to say.
Anyway, the battle took place near these countries. To be honest, I don’t think the location is quite accurate, as it was not in the river. Still, nearest biggest feature of the land mass of South America, so makes reasonable sense.
The combatants were Germany or Doucheland as they like to be called. They were a right shower, I can tell you (boo, hiss!).
The other side was the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland or sometimes Great Britain. No disrespect to Northern Ireland, but it is shorter and easier to say, Great Britain that is. And anyway used in sport (GB abbreviation) like boxing which this sort of was. They were the bright ones (hooray, hooray!).
Great Britain had heard that Doucheland was making a nuisance of itself as has often been the case, and that the River Plate had a rather nasty (or nazi), yellow stain on it. Consequently, it sent out a team to sort out the mess, and clean the Plate properly if they could.
Now, Doucheland had a big fighter called the Admirable Graphs Pee (which explains the yellow stain). He had 11 inchers, which is big I can tell you.
Great Britain had three smaller fighters. Now I know three against one sounds unfair, but when you consider the size of the 11 inchers and the load they packed. I mean the weight, over twice the biggest team GB could muster! I ask you!
I would point out here that the Graphs Pee was considered a ‘Pocket’ battleship by the Royal Navy. You would need a bloody great pocket to put it into of course.
Always good to have a joke to hand to boost morale I find, and us Brits are particularly good at finding these in difficult situations.
Anyway, there was the Ex-eater, a rather elderly, but game, gentleman, with only 8 inchers. Not bad by any standards, but you just couldn’t compare to 11 inchers. Under half the load of the 11 inchers.
Then there were the twin brothers, A kill his and A Jacks. Strictly they were from a set of quintuplets, but as they looked more or less identical and the others weren’t around, it is easier to think of them this way.
They only had 6 inchers which is about average for most men. A very useful size, but just over half the size of the 11 inchers.
And a quarter of the weight of the load the 11 inchers could pack. Honestly!
All in all it seems that Doucheland could pack nearly one and a half the weight of its ‘guns’ compared to team GB with three men. Phew!
Team GB did however have 22 ‘guns’ to 14 ‘guns’, so an advantage in numbers I suppose.
If you look at the boxing weights this equates to the following (see link at bottom for chart)
A kill his and A Jacks – Flyweight
Ex-eater – Heavyweight
Graphs Pee – Not on the list, but by my estimation this should be Bloody Heavyweight.
Team GB thought it would be good to have a nickname for the event. As they were going to be aggressive and go forward (attack the best means of defence), observant (always be watchful) and were ‘old hands’ as it were, they came up with The Forward Observant Old Hands Fighters.
Shortened to FOOH Fighters, of course (H is silent).
They decided to split into two groups, the Ex-eater on one side, a group of one (!), and the twins on the other.
The following is split into the main rounds of the fight, based on the time and from Team GB’s perspective.
Wednesday 13th December 1939
Round 1 0530-0623.
A lot of manoeuvring took place around the ring and some ‘shots’ were fired. Graphs Pee seemed uncertain who to concentrate on, before eventually deciding on the Ex-eater.
Round 2 0623-0630
Ex-eater received a rather nasty ‘cut’ and lost a ‘turret’, and some lacerations to the ‘bridge’ of his nose.
The twins reported as making ‘good shooting’.
Round 3 0630-0638.
Graphs Pee seemed to change his mind about who to attack and split his ‘shots’. Never a good idea to split your fire when it should be reasonably obvious who the big hitters are who will do you most damage.
Ex-eater tried some blows under the belt as it were with some ‘tor pee does’, but sadly missed as Graphs Pee managed to dodge them.
All Team GB’s fighters seemed to be making effective ‘shots’.
Round 4 0638-0650.
Ex-eater tried some more blows under the belt, but again sadly missed.
Graphs Pee landed a fierce blow which took out another ’turret’, and another which stunned the Ex-eaters sense of direction for a bit.
A kill his took a slight ‘blow’ which caused some lacerations.
Round 5 0650-0708.
The Graphs Pee was smoking at this time (as a distraction no doubt) but also made Team GB’s ‘shots’ difficult to land, as they couldn’t be sure they were hitting.
The Ex-eater now had a 7 degree list, possibly a shopping list with 7 items, I’m not sure. Or perhaps a list of various degrees of burns.
Still, the Graphs Pee seemed to be making rather heavy weather of things and throwing his punches over Ex-eaters head.
Round 6 0708-0728.
Team GB decided to get it close where the twins could have better impact.
Graphs Pee starting to show signs of wear and tear, with things getting hot around his stomach (or ‘amidships’).
A Jacks unfortunately suffered a severe blow which put two ‘turrets’ out of action, X and Y. If you want to know why, let alone X, look up the link.
Graphs Pee seemed to be now ignoring Ex-eater, and A Jacks tried some blows under the belt, but sadly missed as Graphs Pee saw them coming.
Final Round 7 0728-0740.
The Ex-eater was suffering rather, and slowing down, so went out of the ring for a mop up and to see if the ‘coach’ could effect some ‘repairs’ as it were.
The Graphs Pee tried some blows under the belt to the twins which they successfully dodged.
The twins seemed to be landing blows, and Graphs Pee still smoking to try and hide from their blows.
A Jacks lost some Aerials which was annoying. A Jacks was well known for cleaning power, like Ajax the washing powder, as is Ariel apparently. So this was clearly a pain when you are trying to remove nazi (sic) yellow stains.
The Graphs Pee was in full retreat by now, westwards towards South America. He tried a few more blows when the twins were getting too close, but these did not land.
Graphs Pee eventually ended up in Monty Video, the capital of You’re a guy.
Thursday 14th December 1939
New teams being sent out by Great Britain to take over from the FOOH Fighters.
Included Arch Royal, R.E.Noun, Neap Tune, Doorset Shyer and Shop Shyer (the two Shyers were brothers who didn’t like to boast, but were rather stronger than the Ex-eater).
They would not arrive for at least five days, which was a bit of a bummer as they say.
However, Cucumber Land, a fresh fighter with 8 inchers, was also coming separately from The Folk Lands down south and would arrive sooner. Arrived late that day.
People of You’re a guy stunned by size of 11 inchers, particularly the ladies who had never seen anything so large. Monty took advantage by videoing the fighter as other people who hadn’t seen for themselves might not believe they were real. You can find photos on line.
Friday 15th December 1939
Reports come in that the Graphs Pee suffered 60-70 blows, so suffered more damage than first thought.
People of You’re a guy heard rumours of the new teams coming from Great Britain. Ladies now fainting at thought of R.E.Noun’s reputed 15 inchers, and even the men thought this was just too farfetched to be true.
However, British diplomats in You’re a guy nodded their heads and said it was true (at least about the 15 inchers, being careful not to disclose when he might turn up).
Saturday 16th December 1939
Reported that the Graphs Pee was making good progress on ‘repairs’.
The twins and Cucumber Land keeping a watchful eye in case he tried to get out of town as it were.
Sunday 17th December 1939
Reported that lots of ‘men’ abandoning the Graphs Pee, and that Graphs Pee was weighing. Weighing what is not stated. Presumably checking his weight after all the ‘men’ abandoned him.
Likely that Bloody Heavyweight now nearer Blooming Heavyweight as somewhat lighter without the men (whether the ‘men’ were removed by lighter I’m not sure).
It was later reported that the Graphs Pee was in a position in shallow water some six miles south-west of Montevideo. At 2054 it was further reported that ‘Graphs Pee has blown herself up’.
Not sure why herself, rather than himself. Perhaps this explains the rather timid and haphazard approach to the battle. A drag queen in reverse as it were.
I assumed blown up meant someone inflated him/her by blowing down the funnel or something. Apparently not.
It seems in fact he/she was put in a scuttle. As scuttles are normally for coal and Graphs Pee said to run on diesel, this doesn’t make sense. Perhaps the Germans/nasties said ‘Diesel do’ instead.
Anyway, Team GB did a great job of cleaning the River Plate, even if they didn’t take it out of the water, dry up properly afterwards and put the remains in a cupboard.
Aftermath or afterbath
German proper gander apparently reported that the Admirable Graphs Pee had sunk a heavy bruiser and damaged two light bruisers. Typical. Always exaggerating.
And still doing so.
Well, now he/she rests on his/her bottom although some attempts at ‘salvage’ have been made, including raising a nasty (sic) eagle and swas sticker, originally stuck on his/her bottom.
So perhaps after all somebody is tidying up. Even if it is the Germans and You’re a guy-ans, apparently.
I wonder what’s in the remains? Just a thought.
As regards the fight, it goes to show that bigger is not necessarily better, and that fighting spirit is what counts. A decisive course of action, and sticking to it, subject, of course, to reviewing what the enemy does as the battle progresses.
As regards the enemy’s actions, it seems his heart was never in it. There is talk of a Captain who didn’t give a nasty (sic) salute, which would explain the lack of enthusiasm for the German/nazi cause.
I am now told it should have been Graf Spee, not Graphs Pee. Silly me. However, I see that Graf may mean grave and spee may be related to speed. In fact I would say certainly, as the River Spey in Scotland is unusual in that ‘…its speed increases as it flows closer to the sea…’. From Wikipedia.
So ‘Grave Speed’. It rushed into battle rashly and sped to its grave, an early grave, early in the war. Makes sense.
You can read more elsewhere, and again there are some links below in the appendix.
Finally I think the last word goes to Winston Churchill whose reputation is said to have been enhanced. Well, I say last word, really picture.
The following is my calculation of the relative weights of shot. If I have got anything wrong let me know.
11” – 660 lbs x 6 = 3,960 lbs Total 6 + 8 = 14 guns
6” – 99/100 lbs x 8 = 792-800 lbs
Bloody Heavy weight
8” – 256 lbs x 6 = 1,536 lbs
Total 1,536 lbs
HMS Achilles & Ajax
6” – 112 lbs x 8 x 2 ships = 1,792 lbs Total 6 + 16 = 22 guns
Grand total 3,328 lbs
Weight of broadsides (approx)
Graf Spee 3.1 times Exeter
Graf Spee 2.65 times the Achilles and Ajax combined
Graf Spee 1.42 times Team GB