Memorial window, Corpus Christi, Portsmouth - 2

Detail: tracery at top.

The battle of Coronel was fought on the evening of Sunday, 1 November 1914, All Saints Day. The Admiralty first heard of the disaster on the morning of Wednesday, 4 November. The news became public in the evening newspapers of Thursday, 5 November. The families of the dead men must have come to hear of their loss - as yet probable, not certain - on the Thursday or Friday or Saturday.

We can picture all four families attending mass at Corpus Christi on Sunday, 8 November: the women in ankle-length dresses and bonnets, the men with wing-collars and waistcoats; the mother and younger siblings of Denis O’Brien, the wives and children of the other men. Probably it was on this morning outside the church that most parishioners grasped the full extent of what had happened on the other side of the world.

Maughan and Mayo (and perhaps Evans) were very likely family men who had attended mass at Corpus Christi whenever they were in port. Probably Denis O’Brien scarcely knew anybody in the parish. He only went to this church when visiting his mother on leave.