Admiral Spee commands Germany’s cruiser squadron in the Pacific. For now his force outclasses anything the Allies have in that ocean, though he knows that his long term situation is bleak. In the meantime he is determined to cause as much trouble as possible. Today he attacks the port of Papeete, in the French colony of Tahiti. He hopes to destroy enemy shipping at the port and also to seize coal stocks there.
Maxime Destremau commands the French defences in Papeete. He acts quickly, ordering the coal set on fire to deny it to the Germans. Spee is unable to refuel his ships. The Germans sink some ships in the harbour and devastate the town, but without the coal the whole business was a bit of a waste of time. And now the Allies know where in the Pacific Spee’s squadron is located.