WE REMEMBER THOSE WHO WERE
KILLED IN ACTION ONE HUNDRED
YEARS AGO TODAY
WE REMEMBER THOSE WHO WERE
KILLED IN ACTION ONE HUNDRED
YEARS AGO TODAY
18th August 1915
18th August 1915
Under the command of Lieutenant-Commander Geoffrey Layton. HMS.E13 was one of 57 E Class submarines and was assigned to the Eighth Submarine Flotilla. Ordered with E.8 to join E.1 and E.9 to the Baltic to intercept German shipping, particularly vessels carrying iron ore shipments from Sweden in order to maintain the British naval blockade of Germany. On the 18 August, the submarine ran aground in neutral waters near Saltholm Island between Malmö and Copenhagen. On the 19 the Danish torpedo boat Narhvalen arrived to inform the captain that there was a 24 hour limit for getting off, no assistance could be given and a guard ship would anchor nearby. When the German destroyer G.132 came up but left when two more Danish TB's arrived, by this time it was accepted that E.13 could not be refloated and the crew were waiting to be taken off. About 0900 (or 0930) two German destroyers approached from the south flying the signal "abandon ship immediately", the leading destroyer G.132 fired one or two torpedoes which hit the bottom but failed to damage E.13, then both opened fire with machine guns, the crew jumped into the water and swam for the shore or the Danish vessels but the Germans opened fire on them until the torpedo boat Soulven positioned herself between the German vessels and survivors in the water. The German destroyers left and the surviving men picked up by the Danes. 15 members of E13's company were killed in the attack. 15 survivors including the submarines captain Lt-Cdr Layton landed in Copenhagen that evening and were interned.
GOULDEN, Herbert, Signalman, J 26176 (Po)
GREENWOOD, Thomas C, Stoker 1c, K 5440 (Po)
HOLT, Ernest S C, Ordinary Telegraphist, J 26522 (Po)
JOYNER, Harold, Able Seaman, 214616 (Po)
LONG, Arthur, Stoker 1c, 312113 (Po)
PAYNE, Alfred J, Able Seaman, J 4317 (Ch)
PEDDER, Henry T, Able Seaman, 227585 (Po)
PINK, Benjamin, Chief Stoker, 218214 (Po)
SMART, Robert T, Able Seaman, 235782 (Ch)
STAPLES, Herbert, Engine Room Artificer 3c, M 1464 (Po)
THOMAS, William H, Leading Stoker, 307910 (Ch)
WARREN, William G, Petty Officer, 238632 (Dev)
WILCOX, Walter T, Stoker 1c, K 7191 (Ch)
WILSON, Fred, Stoker 1c, K 1405 (Po)
YEARSLEY, Walter A, Stoker 1c, K 3223 (Po)
SURVIVORS, all interned
Abrams, Albert T H, Engine Room Artificer 3c, 271339 (Po)
Bowden, Charles, Petty Officer, 205844 (Dev)
Brewer, Walter Edwin, Able Seaman, 202903 (Po)
Eddis, Paul L, Lieutenant
French, Alfred F, Leading Seaman, 214229 (Po)
Garriock, William, Act/Lieutenant, RNR
Hunt, Charles F R, Able Seaman, 234445 (Po)
Layton, Geoffrey, Lieutenant Commander
Lincoln, Herbert, Petty Officer, 223571 (Po), wounded
Lukey, Edgar T, Engine Room Artificer 4c, M 4442 (Po)
Smith, Frederick William, Stoker 1c, C/K 14110
Stubbington, Francis G, Leading Stoker, 304560 (Po)
Varcoe, Walter A, Act/Engine Room Artificer 4c, M 1581 (Po)
Watson, Benjamin N, Able Seaman, 225969 (Po), wounded
Whatley, William, Act/Leading Stoker, 311495 (Po)
The latest accounts of the E13 crew's last moments, as told by eye-witnesses, reveal one of the most stirring deeds of heroism in British naval history. The story, as told in the simple language of an old fisherman of Dragoer, is doubly impressive.
“We passed the E13," he said” on Thursday morning in our boats, and could easily have taken all the crew on board and brought them ashore, but they Politely declined our proffered assistance. A little later in the fore-noon we saw the German torpedo-boats approach, and we began to think matters Iooked serious, The British had launched their boats, but suddenly we heard sharp words of command and the sound of whistles, and the five men who had got into the boats immediately scrambled bark on the E.13
"The vessel was listing slightly. I saw the crew quietly resuming their places on the deck, and some of them coolly began playing cards and other games. I particularly noticed two young sailors playing chess, and a third standing by smoking, while at short intervals he bent down over the chessboard indicting how the last move ought to have been made, amid good-natured chaff.
"Meantime the German torpedo-boats were drawing closer, but no one took the slightest notice. Suddenly see saw a torpedo rush through the water, miss, and explode in the sand bottom. Again we heard that short, sharp word of command, and immediately all the men got up and formed into line on deck with crossed arms, facing the enemy s guns, immovable as statues, and looking death in the face without moving a muscle. They were brave men, these English."-Reuter Special Service.
Report by Lt.Cdr. Layton to Vice Admiral W. F. Oliver, Chief of the War Staff, Admiralty.
6.0 p.m. left Harwich with E 8.
Times for traffic - lost E 8 during a long dive 2.0 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.
Entered the Kattegat at about 9.30.
Went to the bottom off Gilleleje Light Buoy at 7.0 a.m.
4.15 p.m. commenced diving toward the Sound - passed Helsingborg about 7.0 p.m. 8.0 p.m. surface and proceeded. 9.15 dived for a destroyer.
Arrived off Malmoe at 11.0 p.m. and fixed position by cross bearings. Proceed course 232o.
After running 2' stopped and fixed again to make sure course was taking us clear. Proceeded.
Almost 10 minutes later I had reason to doubt the compass and sent below to compare the
Gyro compass with themagnetic - reduced speed to 250 revs on one engine. Finding Sperry was 20o wrong I rang down stop and put the helm hard a starboard but the boat grounded before either order was carried out. Position of grounding S.E. edge of Saltholm Flat.
The cause of the compass failing I found was due to the Azimuth Motor sticking and must have commenced when we proceeded after the last stop.
Conditions of boat when grounding: Tanks No. 1, 2, 7, 8 full. Tanks No. 3, 4, 5, 6 over half
full. Speed about 7 knots.
Shoal grounded on - Shelving, smooth rocky bottom - boat was resting most of the way along the keel.
Every effort was then made to refloat the boat- but she would not move in any direction.
At about 5.0 a.m. Danish Torpedo Boat arrived and informed me that we should be left to try and get off in our 24 hours but no assistance could be given, A guard would be anchored nearby. T.B. then left with Lieutenant Eddis to visit the Guard Ship.
A German T.B.D. arrived at the same time and remained close to us until 2 Danish Torpedo
Boats came on the scene. She then withdrew.
At about 9.0 a.m. there were 3 Danish Torpedo Boats all anchored close to us, when 2
German Torpedo Boats Destroyers approached from the South. The 1st when about ½ a mile away hoisted a commercial flag, but before I had time to read it she was abeam about
300 yards and fired a torpedo which hit the bottom close to her and exploded.
At the same time she opened fire with all her guns. I gave the order to abandon ship, as we
at once took fire fore and aft and the list on the boat made it useless to fire the beam tube.
I directed the men to either swim for the shore or towards the Danish Torpedo Boats but
to scatter as much as possible on account of the German firing at us in the water with Shrapnel and machine guns. Those who could not swim I told to hold on to the submarine on the off side keeping as much in the water as possible.
The Danish Torpedo Boats at once got out boats and one steamed in towards the space between the German and us- which action eventually stopped her firing. The German Torpedo Boat Destroyers then withdrew to the Southward. I very much regret to say that 15 petty officers and men were lost. Some sank before help arrived and some were hit by shrapnel. I append a list. The boat was damaged considerably. Can be of no further fighting value. At least 14 shells about 4" had burst inside, besides many smaller. She was full of water and had burnt furiously before listing and filling.
I have requested the British Minister to get her completely demolished - the Danish Naval
Authorities would All confidential books and documents had already been burnt by me and I have requested the British Minister to inform the British Admiralty to that effect.
The passage through did not present any great difficulty with all the information we had provided with and had my compass not failed at the most critical moment of the whole journey, this disaster would never have occurred.
The Danish Naval Officers and men have shown us every kindness possible especially on board this ship where we still remain.
SUBMARINE E 13.
MURDERED SAILORS, BODIES LEAVE FOR ENGLAND.
FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.
The bodies of fourteen of the British submarine E.13 left here to-day for Hull, on the new liner Vidar provided by the Danish Government. The greatest sympathy was shown in all parts of Denmark, and many hundreds of wreaths were sent, from the Danish Government, the naval authorities, the citizen of Copenhagen, and many others. Before the departure of the vessel a most impressive funeral service was held. It was attended by a large concourse, including the Minister of Main, 150 Danish naval officers, the staff of the British legation, members of the British colony, representatives from the French, Russia. and Italian Legations, the commander of the E 13, Lieut.-Commander Layton and the fourteen other survivors, all wearing Danish naval uniforms, as their own uniforms were spoiled when their vessel was attacked. The Rev, Mortimer Kennedy conducted the service, in which the choir of the British church took part, The Danish naval band also attended. After the service the funeral procession set out, headed by the band, and followed by Danish marines carrying the coffins, the survivors, and the staff of the British Legation. On the way to the liner the cortege passed through a crowd of many thousands of people, who bared their heads as it passed. The coffins ware brought on board the Vidar by a special gangway, covered with black cloth, while the band played, "Nearer, my God, to Thee.' The coffins were placed in a chapel in the ‘tween decks, hung with black. Many flowers were placed in the chapel, which was illuminated with hundreds of electric lamps. On behalf of the Danish Admiralty, Commodore Hammer is accompanying the vessel The Vidar, flying the British and Danish colours, is due to arrive at Hull on Friday. As the Vidar left Copenhagen the band played “God save the King" The vessel was escorted through Danish waters by two Danish torpedo-boats, and a salute was fired from the forts and the Kronborg Castle as the Vidar passed. Two Danish squadrons, meeting the Vidar, also fired a salute and played the British National Anthem, while the crew's assembled bareheaded on the decks. Amongst the wreaths sent is an enormous one, in the British colours, with the inscription, “From a Danish branch of the Hindenburg family."
Postscript re Lt. Cmdr. Layton
On the very last day of October, 1915, Lt. Cmdr. Geoffrey Layton and Lt Paul Leathley Eddis managed to escape internment, with the help of Danish friends, they disguised themselves as Danish seamen, leaving dummies in their beds as decoys, they made their way pass the guards. Exiting the building out of a window using hammock lashings, they made their way to the harbour, where they took to the water. Swimming along the shore to avoid dockyard sentries, the two men found a quiet spot; there they wrung out their clothes and spent a very cold night. Next day mixing in with the crowd, they were able to make the ferry crossing to Malmo in Sweden. There passing themselves of as a Finnish seamen, they got passage on to a Norwegian steam ship to Christiania, now known as Oslo in Norway, before making his way to Bergen.
From Bergen Lt. Cmdr. Layton adopted the guise of "George Perkins", an American marine overseer. He caught the ferry to Newcastle. A journey, which was not without incident, at Newcastle being unable to establish his real identity; he was arrested! He was released after several hours, when a representative from the British Admiralty arrived and could confirm his real identity.
The following year, 1916, Layton was back on active duty and was given the command of the British submarine S.1. At the end of the war, in 1918, he was awarded the DSO for his services with the subs.