Postcard commemorates naval triumph

Published on by John


The postcard commemorating the Battle of the River Plate sent to Southsea from the Falkland Islands and, inset, the back showing the recipient as Mrs L Fox

The postcard commemorating the Battle of the River Plate sent to Southsea from the Falkland Islands and, inset, the back showing the recipient as Mrs L Fox

 

Regular contributor Dave Aldous recently acquired this postcard commemorating one of the Royal Navy’s greatest Second World War triumphs.

 

And he wonders if anyone can shed light on the descendants of the card’s recipient.

As you can see, it was sent to a Mrs L Fox, of Ashburton Road, Southsea. It is signed, simply, Toni. The ink is a distinctive green.

The postmark reads Port Stanley, Falklands Islands, but the date is indecipherable.

However, the stamps bear the head of George VI so it must have been sent before his death in 1952.

Perhaps Toni was a Royal Navy sailor in the immediate post-war years, whose ship called at the Falklands?

The Battle of the River Plate, in December 1939, was the first naval battle in the Second World War and the only episode of the war to take place in South America.

The German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee had been commerce raiding since the start of the war in September 1939.

One of the hunting groups sent by the Admiralty to search for Graf Spee, comprising three cruisers, HMS Exeter, Ajax and Achilles, found and engaged their quarry off the estuary of the River Plate off the coast of Argentina and Uruguay.

In the ensuing battle, Exeter was severely damaged and forced to retire, while all other ships sustained moderate damage.

Graf Spee’s fuel system was crippled. The Ajax and Achilles shadowed the German ship until it entered the port of Montevideo, the capital of neutral Uruguay, for urgent repairs.

After the Graf Spee’s captain Hans Langsdorff was told that his stay could not be extended beyond 72 hours, he scuttled his damaged ship rather than face the overwhelmingly superior force that the British had led him to believe was waiting for him.

 

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