The German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee had left port with her supply ship Altmark before war broke out. She sank nine merchant ships before steaming back to Germany for repairs. On the way her captain, Hans Langsdorff, headed for the River Plate to intercept a convoy, but was met by Commodore Henry Harwood's Force G with the light cruisers Ajax and Achillesand the larger Exeter. Although the British warships were damaged, Langsdorff was forced to put into Montevideo in neutral Uruguay. Compelled to leave, he scuttled his ship and later committed suicide.
Above, the Admiral Graf Spee scuttled on the orders of her captain, in flames in the River Plate off Montevideo on December 17, 1939.