• Christina Drummond

Captain Frank Brandt, The Royal Navy


Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1914, Captain Frank Brandt of the Royal Navy was killed at the Battle of Coronel whilst in command of the armoured cruiser HMS Monmouth. He had graduated from the Royal Naval College with five first class certificates, and was a specialist in Gunnery & Torpedo as well as a qualified submarine officer. His first command appointment was in 1892, on the first-class torpedo boat T.B. 55 for the annual summer manoeuvres. During the next few years he served aboard HMS Vernon, Apollo, Victory, Defiance, Bonaventure, Eclipse, Diadem, Ramillies, Duke of Wellington, Fire Queen, Mercury, and Thames. In 1903, during his appointment to HMS Duke of Wellington, he made helpful suggestions for a Graduated Sight Bar to better help torpedo ranges be judged, and was promoted to the rank of Commander at the end of that year. In 1907 he was appointed to command a submarine flotilla. An officer who served under him recalled that he “was excitable, had a stentorian foretop voice and a famous flow of language, his enthusiasm was unbounded,” and ranked him first among "the most human of the Navy's leaders of the period and among the best loved." His promotion to Captain came at the end of 1909, and he shortly thereafter attempted to retire but his application was refused due to his extensive experience in submarines. Commodore Second Class Roger J. B. Keyes, wrote of him in 1913: “A most zealous officer, who has devoted the last 7 years to the Submarine Service. Always ready to share the risks & discomforts of the Submarine Service which owes much to him, particularly in regard to its development as an offensive arm…he has given me most loyal service, I have a very high opinion of his grit & determination.” In July of 1914, he was appointed to command the armoured cruiser HMS Monmouth. In August, the ship as recommissioned and assigned to the 5th Cruiser Squadron in the Central Atlantic to search for German commerce raiders and also to protect Allied shipping, and later to the South Atlantic to join Rear Admiral Cradock’s squadron in their search for the German East Asia Squadron, which they found on the 1st of November off the coast of Chile. In the ensuing Battle of Coronel, HMS Monmouth sank in flames with all hands lost, Captain Brandt going down with his ship. A memorial service was held for him in January of 1915, in St. Dunstan's Chapel, St. Paul's Cathedral. From Cheltenham, he was 43 years old and married with four children.

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