Movement of Achilles prior to Battle of the River Plate

Bob Harvey, Able Seaman on HMS Achilles, describes the movements of the ship in the days before the Battle of the River Plate. The interview is from 1997 and the interviewer is Jim Sullivan. See full image and reference.


Jim Sullivan: Where was the ship, say, in the days leading up to the great battle, what are your recollections of the few days beforehand, Bob?

Bob Harvey: Early in December, I think it was about early in December, we were actually at Rio de Janeiro. And we had a run ashore there. Then we had word to come south very quickly, once we left there – we didn't stay very long in any harbour, 36 hours is about the maximum normally ... – we had orders to come south quickly to Montevideo, to oil. It had all been arranged, obviously unbeknown to us, that we were going to rendezvous with a couple more ships around about the 10th, 11th or 12th, and proceed from there.

These were plans that were unknown to the ship's company of course, but we did go down to Montevideo, went ashore there for 24 hours ashore there, 36 hours I think we had in harbour, and then we left. When we left there we rendezvoused on the 10th or 11th with the Ajax, on the 12th, early on the 12th, with the Exeter and of course the following day on the 13th was the day we met the Graf Spee.

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