Battle Day in Falkland Islands

Battle Day is a holiday that falls on December 8th every year and commemorates the WWI naval action that occurred between the British Royal Navy and the Imperial German Navy in the South Atlantic Ocean.

This battle took place on December 8, 1914, and saw the smaller British force destroying the German South Atlantic Cruiser Squadron. This battle has been described by historians as one of the most decisive naval battles of the First World War—giving the Allies the morale boost they needed, as they weren’t doing as well on the Western Front.

This battle is also the last instance of historic naval warfare that didn’t involve submarines, planes, or minefields. It was only the sailors, their ships, and their guns. Nothing else.

The History of Battle Day

In November 1914, German Admiral Maximilian von Spee handed the Royal Navy its first defeat in over a hundred years when his Cruiser Squadron sank two British cruisers off the southern coast of Chile. A month later, Spee attempted to raid the Falkland Islands.

He brought his fleet close to the British squadrons that were anchored in Cape Pembroke in the Falkland Islands. He was overconfident and believed that his cruiser squadron could outdistance the British Dreadnoughts (battleships) that were in the port.

However, the tide turned for him when two British battlecruisers—the Inflexible and the Invincible—gave his squadron chase. The German light cruisers were already depleted from the long voyage and heavy use, so they were no match for the faster, more maneuverable British battlecruisers.

The Inflexible began firing on the German ships first, being sure to stay out of range of the Germans’ guns. The German flagship Scharnhorst was sunk first, and not only was Admiral Spee killed, but also his two sons. Throughout the battle, the Germans lost four warships and more than 2,000 sailors in the Falkland Islands. By contrast, the British only lost 10 sailors.

Observing Battle Day

Battle Day in the Falkland Islands is celebrated with an official ceremony and a parade. People also use the hashtag #BattleDay to spread the word about this holiday far and wide.

Where is it celebrated?
Falkland Islands (Public holiday)
When is it?
This year (2024)
December 8 Sunday
Next year (2025)
December 8 Monday
Last year (2023)
December 8 Friday