Barnt Green historian seeks to restore a 100-year-old reputation

AS the world prepares to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War, a Barnt Green businessman has published a book which he hopes will redeem one of its most maligned figures.

Steve Dunn, who works as a business advisor has undertaken extensive research into Rear Admiral Sir Christopher 'Kit' Cradock, a man held responsible for the worst naval disaster of the war.

After 20 years of research, Mr Dunn believes Kit Cradock was made a scapegoat for the Batttle of Coronel, in which he and 1,660 other men died on November 1, 1914. and he's hoping his book 'The Scapegoat' will convince other Dunn believes Winston Churchill, the then First Lord of the British Admirality attacked the dead man's reputation in order to defend his own.

He said: "It’s important that people know my intention is to honour Cradock, as opposed to condemning Churchill, who became one of our country’s greatest war leaders. However, in 1914 he was at the beginning of his naval and political career and wanted to shift the blame for the catastrophe.

“As a complete beginner, it was daunting to think about actually pulling everything together and I kept finding reasons to put it off. But I felt I owed it to Kit to have a go and make sure that all the men who died at Coronel are remembered during the anniversary celebrations.”

Mr Dunn believes that Cradock was badly advised and equipped and that his orders left him in no doubt that he was expected to engage with the enemy, even though he’d outlined his concerns. He believed it was his duty to follow orders, leaving him no choice but to seek out the opposing German ships, knowing he and his men were almost certainly doomed.

“He faced up to the impossible task with courage, which I think makes him a hero," said Mr Dunn. "I hope that my book goes some way towards honouring these brave sailors and restores Kit’s reputation on the 100th anniversary of his death. It’s certainly a story I think needs to be told.”

The book is available to buy from Amazon in hardback and e-book editions or from all good booksellers (ISBN 978 1 84624 971 6).

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