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‘A Victory and a Defeat as Glorious as a Victory’: The Battles of the Coronel and Falkland Islands (Walter Summers, 1927)

  • Amy Sargeant

Abstract

At Christies Maritime Sale two years ago, lots 19 to 50 were devoted to Nelson. Setting the pace for the bidding for the Bicentenary of Trafalgar in 2005, a lock of Horatio’s hair was pitched at £2000–3000, a lock of Emma Hamilton’s hair at £300–500.1 Other souvenirs of the hero included enamels, mourning rings, china and glass. This represents the merest tip of an iceberg of memorabilia produced in the wake of his death and for the centenary in 1905 (including a film made by Cecil Hepworth). The lives of heroes were then the stuff of children’s education, both east of Mansion House (as attested by Thomas Burke) and, further up the riverbank, in Kenneth Grahame’s Dream Days (where Selina rhapsodizes over Trafalgar Day — she ‘had taken spiritual part in every notable engagement of the British Navy’).2

Keywords

Steam Turbine Falkland Island Flag Signal World Crisis British Ship 
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Notes

  1. 2.
    See Thomas Burke, Son of London (London: Herbert Jenkins, 1946); Kenneth Grahame, ‘Dream Days’ [1898] in The Penguin Kenneth Grahame (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1983), pp. 94 and 96; also Arthur Conan Doyle’s costume novel Rodney Stone [1896] (London: John Murray, 1948), pp. 231–42.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    See Admiral Viscount Jellicoe, The Grand Fleet 1914–16 [1919] (London: Cassell, 1922), pp. 334 and 413; for further discussion of Nelson see Amy Sargeant, ‘Do We Need Another Hero?’ in Claire Monk and Amy Sargeant (eds), British Historical Cinema (London: Routledge, 2002), pp. 15–30.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Stuart Legg, Jutland: An Eye Witness (London: Hart-Davis, 1966), p. 31.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Michael Paris, The First World War and Popular Cinema (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1999), p. 53; Alex King, Memorials of the Great War in Britain (Oxford: Berg, 1998), p. 194.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Caroline Lejeune, ‘Cinema’, Manchester Guardian, 8 October 1927, 11; by 1931 Lejeune had revised her opinion, naming Hitchcock and Anthony Asquith (assistant to Bruce Woolfe and to Walter Summers on the script of Coronel and Falklands) as the two leading British directors.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    Paris, The First World War, p. 57 and Andrew Kelly (indirectly), Cinema and the Great War (London: Routledge, 1997), pp. 61–2, neither saying anything about the film itself; see also Samuel Hynes, A War Imagined (London: Pimlico, 1990), p. 446.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Winifred Ellerman (Bryher), ‘The War from Three Angles’ and ‘The War from More Angles’, Close Up, July 1927, 16–22, and October 1927, 44–8. Nevertheless, she praised the film (rare in the journal’s coverage of British cinema) for holding her attention. 9. Cradock’s opposition was reported as far afield as France: see Cinémagazine, 19 November 1926; for Winston Churchill’s account, see The World Crisis 1911–14 (London: Thornton Butterworth, 1923), pp. 407–38. Churchill was initially invited to appear in the 1927 film but declined.Google Scholar
  8. 10.
    See Kinematograph Weekly, 8 September 1927, 64 (also for indications of the scoring accompanying the film) and Parliamentary Debates: Commons, 211, 6 December 1927, 1174–5, 7 December, 1361–3, 14 December, 2290–92 and 2324; see also Kenton Bamford, Distorted Images (London: I.B. Tauris, 1999), pp. 128–9 for critical reactions to The Luck of the Navy (Fred Paul, 1927), one of the dozen films already made with Navy cooperation. For critical commentary in Germany, see Ernst Jäger, ‘Seeschlachten bei Coronel und den Falkland-Inseln’, Berlin Film Kurier, 3 August 1928.Google Scholar
  9. 11.
    Caroline Lejeune, ‘War Films’, Cinema (London: Alexander Maclehose, 1931), pp. 216–24; for an appreciation of ‘documentaries’ and reconstructions produced by Summers (a war veteran himself) in the 1920s and 1930s, see Rachael Low, A History of the British Film IV [1971] (London: Routledge, 1997), p. 181 and Documentary and Educational Films of the 1930s (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1979), pp. 20–24.Google Scholar
  10. 12.
    M. Foss, Der See und Kolonialkrieg I (Halle: Saale-Mühlmam, 1919), p. 157.Google Scholar
  11. 13.
    For differences between HMS Invincible (broken by an explosion in the Battle of Jutland, with most of her crew lost) and HMS Inflexible (both powered by steam turbines, fired by coal and oil), represented in 1927 by (respectively) HMS Barham and HMS Malaya (both powered by steam turbines, fired by oil alone), see David K. Brown, The Grand Fleet: Warship Development 1905–23 (London: Chatham, 1999). Lord Fisher, with the help of Henri Detterding, succeeded in converting 45 per cent of British navy ships to oil: see Ludwell Denny, America Conquers Britain (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1930), pp. 229–30.Google Scholar
  12. 14.
    Geoffrey Bennett, The Battles of the Coronel and Falkland Islands (London: Batsford, 1962), p. 119; see also Paul G. Halpern, A Naval History of World War I (London: UCL Press, 1994), pp. 88–100 and John Keegan, The First World War (London: Hutchinson, 1998), pp. 231–4.Google Scholar
  13. 18.
    Vera Brittain, Testament of Youth [1933] (London: Virago, 1978), p. 271.Google Scholar
  14. 19.
    Arthur Mee, The Children’s Encyclopaedia III (London: The Educational Book Company, 1925), p. 1709.Google Scholar
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    See Romney article in the New Age, 20 June 1912, 174; also Adrian Conan Doyle, The True Conan Doyle (London: John Murray, 1945), pp. 19–20 for Arthur Conan Doyle’s accurate predictions of U-boat warfare.Google Scholar
  16. 21.
    Quoted in Joanna Bourke, An Intimate History of Killing (London: Granta, 2000), p. 59; see also Peter Beresford Ellis and Piers Williams, By Jove, Biggles! (London: W.H. Allen, 1981), p. 71.Google Scholar
  17. 22.
    See Lev Tolstoy, ‘Letter to an Uncommissioned Officer’ in Peter Mayer (ed.), The Pacifist Conscience (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1966); also Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace [1795] (London: Allen and Unwin, 1903), p. 110.Google Scholar
  18. 23.
    Norman Angell, The Great Illusion (London: Heinemann, 1911), pp. vi, 27, 322–3; see also The Great Illusion Now (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1938).Google Scholar
  19. 25.
    Michael Howard, Clausewitz (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983), pp. 33 and 43.Google Scholar
  20. 26.
    See Iris Barry, ‘Austen Chamberlain Seeking to Ban Dawn’, Daily Mail, 1 March 1928, 11; Rex Ingram’s 1921 The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and Thomas Hardy’s The Dynasts [1903–8] — a point of reference in 1914 and 1918 — similarly cast other worldly protagonists (see Hynes, A War Imagined, p. 39 and, for H.G. Wells and Maynard Keynes references, Amy Sargeant, ‘Utopia, Dystopia and Eutopia between the Wars’ in Laraine Porter and Alan Burton (eds), Scene-Stealing (Trowbridge: Flicks Books, 2003), pp. 94–101. For a French review of Dawn, see Cinémiroir, 16 November 1928.Google Scholar
  21. 27.
    James Joll, The Origins of the First World War (London: Longman, 1992), p. 75; see also J. S. Bratton, ‘Of England, Home and Duty’, John M. Mackenzie (ed.), Imperialism and Popular Culture (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1986), pp. 83–4.Google Scholar
  22. 29.
    Jacques Ellul, Propaganda (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1965), p. 10.Google Scholar
  23. 30.
    King, Memorials, p. 246; for ‘Old Lies’ see Wilfred Owen, ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’, The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1981), pp. 182–3.Google Scholar
  24. 31.
    Francis Spufford, I May Be Some Time: Ice and the English Imagination (London: Faber, 1997), p. 8.Google Scholar
  25. 33.
    A. S. L. Faquharson (tr.), The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989), Book II, p. 17.Google Scholar
  26. 34.
    Thomas Carlyle, ‘Lectures on Heroes: on Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History’, in Thomas Carlyle’s Works (London: Chapman and Hall, 1888), pp. 183–375; see also Friedrich Nietzsche, ‘Superman’, A Nietzsche Reader (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1977), pp. 232–48.Google Scholar
  27. 35.
    For Captain Scott’s last diary entry [29 March 1912] see John Carey (ed.), The Faber Book of Reportage (London: Faber, 1987), pp. 431–4; see also Frend’s 1952 adaptation of Nicholas Monserrat’s The Cruel Sea, in which ‘the only villain is the sea’.Google Scholar

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© Amy Sargeant 2011

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  • Amy Sargeant

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