A TITANIC BATTLE TO RAISE THE GRAF SPEE; Bid to recover WWII legend.
WORK to raise German warship the Admiral Graf Spee could begin next week, 64 years after it sank to the bottom of a Uruguay an river estuary.
A symbol of German naval might, it destroyed nine Allied merchant vessels in the South Atlantic before being crippled by the Royal Navy in December 1939.
The ''pocket battleship'' was then scuttled by its captain and still lies off Montevideo in just 24 feet of water.
So far, gusty winds and strong currents have delayed a private recovery operation.
Work will begin again on Monday. The operation, which could take three years, is being filmed by Titanic director James Cameron The last time the Graf Spee sailed, my grandfather was giving himself just a 30 per cent chance of survival against her mighty guns.
Just hours earlier, Commodore Henry Harwood had become only the second seaman since Nelson to be knighted in the field.
His three ships won a huge victory by inflicting enough damage on the Graf Spee to force her into harbour.
The Battle of the River Plate took place on December 13, 1939, and for the next four days the British ships played a tense waiting game 30 miles away.
Uruguay was neutral and German pleas for time to make repairs were turned down.
With the British ships waiting at the mouth of the river, the Graf Spee began transferring her crew to another ship.
Minutes later, she exploded in flames, burning for hours before slowly sinking.
Captain Hans Langsdorff was determined the ship with the latest radar gear aboard should not fall into enemy hands.
He shot himself two days later.
Sources can now reveal the ship was running out of fuel.
Prime Minister Winston Churchill said of the Graf Spee's demise: ''In a cold, dark winter, it warms the cockles of the British heart.''
Now theship will be stripped down and brought up in pieces before attempts will be made to lighten the hull, already in two. It will then go to a museum.
But not everyone agrees the plan is agood idea.
The last survivor of the Graf Spee, Friedrich Adolph, 84, who still lives in Montevideo, said: ''It was the decision of the captain to sink the boat and that is where she should stay.''
SCUTTLED: A computer image of the Graf Spee lying at the bottom of the River Plate and, inset, the captain, Hans Langsdorff, who committed suicide; HISTORIC SINKING: The Graf Spee slips below the water
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Publication:||Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Feb 7, 2004|
|Previous Article:||Fiscal probe on 7 deaths.|
|Next Article:||BRIDE AND GLOOM; Will the latest happy couples say I do to a soap wedding disaster?|