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WWI unrestricted submarine warfare

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Goral View Drop Down

Joined: 22 Jun 2013
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    Posted: 20 Jan 2014 at 15:04

Allied submarines operating at Sea of Marmara in 1915 lunched unrestricted warfare against Turkish merchant marine before Germany Navy declared Unrestricted operation in 1917


The wreck of the Royal Navy submarine E15 being inspected by Turkish soldiers, sailors and a German officer on the Asian shore of the Dardanelles. On 17 April 1915, the E15, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Theodore Brodie, became the first British submarine to attempt a passage of the Dardanelles. E15 got caught in a current and ran aground near Kephez point on the Asian shore under the guns of a Turkish shore battery. Brodie was killed in the coning tower and six others died of chlorine poisoning inside the submarine. The rest of the crew became prisoners of war.
The E15 was one of the latest British submarines and the Royal Navy went to great lengths to stop it remaining in tact in enemy hands. Numerous attempts were made to sink it until finally it was hit and wrecked in a torpedo attack launched from two 'picket boats' launched from the British battleships Triumph and Majestic. Journalist Granville Fortescue, in a visit to the area in mid-1915, described the wreck of the E15:
Past Dardanos the land falls back into a small bay where the ill-fated E15 lies stranded. The grey line of her bow and her coning-tower with a cruel hole through it are all that now show above the water. By the whim of fate this submarine lies in the harbour where the British anchored in 1853 [during the Crimean War]. Time and again I turn to gaze back at the little grey hulk forsaken on the waters. It stands for a monument to modern bravery, for it was brave indeed to defy the many forts in so frail a craft. [Granville Fortescue, Russia, the Balkans and the Dardanelles, London, 1915, pp.236]
Lieutenant Commander Theodore Brodie, commander of the E15, age 31, lies buried in the Chanak Consular Cemetery, Çanakkale, Turkey. [Photograph from Granville Fortescue, Russia, the Balkans and the Dardanelles, London, 1915]
A photograph of the Royal Australian Navy's submarine AE2 c.1914, possibly in Sydney, donated to the Australian War Memorial by the weekly illustrated newspaper the Sydney Mail. By he end of May 1914 the submarine had just completed a long voyage from England to Australia after having been handed over to the RAN by the warship's builders, Vickers. By the end of 1914 the AE2 was heading back again towards Europe as part of Australia's contribution to the war against Germany. However, in mid-January 1915, with the Ottoman Empire now in the war on the side of Germany, when the submarine arrived in Egypt it was assigned to the British naval forces gathering at the Dardanelles to force a passage through those straits to Istanbul. By February, the AE2 had joined other Royal Navy submarines at Lemnos Island and was carrying out operational patrols to blockade the mouth of the Dardanelles. [AWM H11559]

On 25 April 1915, the day of the landings at Gallipoli, the Australian submarine AE2 successfully negotiated a submerged passage of the Dardanelles and on 26 April broke through into the Sea of Marmara. For three days the submarine cruised around looking for targets. On the morning of 30 April, the AE2 was spotted by a Turkish torpedo boat, the Sultan Hisar, and was attacked. Lieutenant Henry Stoker, AE2's captain, found it impossible to keep his vessel submerged so he opened all the ballast tanks and scuttled the submarine while it was being fired upon and hit by the Turkish warship. [Photograph of Sultan Hisar and Captain Riza from Fred and Elizabeth Brenchley, Stoker's Submarine, Pymble, 2003]
The crew of the Royal Australian Navy's submarine AE2 photographed after being captured by the Turks on 30 April 1915. In the Australian War Memorial's caption to this image none of the crew members is identified and the origin of the photograph is unknown. Given that this appears to be the whole crew, officer and men together, it was most likely taken shortly after their capture, possibility in Istanbul where they had been taken by early May. Of his crew Lieutenant Henry Stoker wrote:
Men living together in closely confined quarters, sharing in absolute equality the hazards of every danger, each one holding the lives of all in their hand ... comradeship comes firmly and with depth to such men. [Stoker, quoted in Fred and Elizabeth Brenchley, Stoker's Submarine, Pymble, 2003, p.238]
[AWM P00371.001]
Australian and British prisoners of war outside their quarters at Belemedik, Taurus Mountains, Turkey, in 1918. Among them are members of the crew of the Royal Australian Navy's submarine AE2, captured after their warship was scuttled in an action with the Turkish torpedo boat Sultan Hisar in the Sea of Marmara on 30 April 1915. All of the crew were rescued by the Turkish ship and all but four survived captivity and were repatriated at the end of the war. [AWM H19414]
The Royal Navy's submarine E14, possibly leaving Mudros Harbour, Lemnos Island, Greece, sometime in 1915. The image is an official British Admiralty photograph taken by official photographer Ernest Brooks. Visible on the bridge, in an overcoat, is E14's captain, Lieutenant Commander Edward Boyle. E14 made three voyages through the defences of the Dardanelles during 1915 but perhaps the most famous was the one commenced on 27 April 1915, just two days after the departure on that same mission of the Royal Australian Navy's submarine AE2, captained by Lieutenant Henry Stoker.
On 29 April 1915, E14 and AE2 met in the Sea Of Marmora and agreed to rendezvous again the next day. The AE2, however, was sunk on 30 April and Boyle took E14 on an extensive patrol during which he sank a Turkish minelayer, a Turkish gunboat, a transport ship and damaged one other transport. On 18 May, the twenty-first day of E14's patrol, Boyle brought the submarine back safely through the Dardanelles. His was the first British submarine to actually make the double passage of the straits and as they arrived back in harbour one of the ship's company wrote of how 'we had to go round the whole fleet and they certainly gave us a cheer'. [AWM G00358]
Lieutenant Commander Edward Boyle photographed by official British Admiralty photographer Ernest Brooks on the deck of his Royal Navy submarine E14, somewhere at sea near Gallipoli in May 1915. For his successful patrol of the Dardanelles and the Sea of Marmora in April-May 1915, Boyle was awarded the Victoria Cross. His official VC citation read:
For most conspicuous bravery, in command of Submarine E14, when he dived his vessel under enemy minefields and entered the Sea of Marmara on the 27th April, 1915. In spite of great navigational difficulties from strong currents, of the continual neighbourhood of hostile patrols, and of the hourly danger of attack from the enemy, he continued to operate in the narrow waters of the Straits and succeeded in sinking two Turkish gunboats and one large military transport. [The London Gazette, 21 May 1915]
The second and third officers in the E14 were both awarded the DSC (Distinguished Cross) and each of the crew received the DSM (Distinguished Service Medal). Edward Boyle had a distinguished career in the Royal Navy and died in England in December 1967.
The crew of the Royal Navy submarine E11 photographed on their submarine, possibly in Mudros Harbour, Lemnos Island, Greece, in 1915. Lieutenant Commander Martin Nasmith (in the centre of the group on the bridge), E11's captain, was given the instruction by Commodore Roger Keyes, Naval Chief of Staff of Royal Navy forces at the Dardanelles in 1915, 'Well then, go and run amok in the Marmora'. During a patrol which lasted from 19 May to 7 June 1915 Nasmith did just that sinking or disabling eleven Turkish ships including one at Istanbul. For this patrol, like that of the E14, the captain was awarded a Victoria Cross, the second and third officers the DSC (Distinguished Cross) and each of the crew received the DSM (Distinguished Service Medal). Nasmith's VC citation read:
For most conspicuous bravery, in command of one of His Majesty's submarines, while operating in the Sea of Marmora. In the face of great danger, he succeeded in destroying one large Turkish gunboat, two transports, one ammunition ship, and three store-ships, in addition to driving one store-ship ashore. When he had safely passed the most difficult part of his homeward journey he returned again to torpedo a Turkish transport. [Quoted in Stephen Snelling, VCs of the First World War: Gallipoli, Stroud, 1995, p.110]
Nasmith made two more successful patrols in the Sea of Marmora during the Gallipoli campaign in 1915. He had a most distinguished career in the Royal Navy and died in Scotland in June 1965, almost exactly sixty years after the award of his Victoria Cross. [AWM H10288] [Visit Wikipedia.org for more detail on E11 in the Sea of Marmora in 1915]
The damaged periscope of the Royal Navy's submarine E11 photographed after its return from a lengthy patrol in the Sea of Marmora between 19 May and 7 June 1915 under the command of Lieutenant Commander Martin Nasmith. Nasmith described what happened to his periscope during his attack on a Turkish store-ship in Tekirdağ harbour on the northern shore of the Sea of Marmora:
Owing to the shallowness of the water it was necessary to expose a considerable amount of periscope to rifle fire, although the boat was bumping along the bottom. One bullet struck the lower tube and made a big indentation but fortuneatley did not penetrate. [Nasmith, quoted in Stephen Snelling, VCs of the First World War: Gallipoli, Stroud, 1995, p.106] [AWM H10289]
The Royal Navy submarine E2 with its captain Lieutenant Commander David de Beauvoir Stocks on deck, possibly photographed at Mudros Harbour, Lemnos Island, Greece, prior to departing or returning from patrol in the Dardanelles and the sea of Marmora, August 1915. Rudyard Kilpling described a problem E2 had with its externally mounted gun on one patrol:
Commander D. Stocks carried an externally mounted gun which, while she was diving up the Dardanelles on business, got hung up in the wires and stays of a net. She saw them through the conning-tower scuttles at a depth of 80 ft--one wire hawser round the gun, another round the conning-tower, and so on. There was a continuous crackling of small explosions overhead which she thought were charges aimed at her by the guard-boats who watch the nets. She considered her position for a while, backed, got up steam, barged ahead, and shore through the whole affair in one wild surge. Imagine the roof of a navigable cottage after it has snapped telegraph lines with its chimney, and you will get a small idea of what happens to the hull of a submarine when she uses her gun to break wire hawsers with. [
Stocks died in 1918 in a submarine collision and his name is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Portsmouth, England.

Edited by Goral - 20 Jan 2014 at 15:05
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Joined: 22 Jun 2013
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Goral Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jan 2014 at 13:52

This communication from Germany, forbidding all merchant shipping traffic in British waters, opened the first wave of: German "unrestricted" submarine warfare. At the same time Allied submarines operating at Sea of Marmara endeavoured to sink Turkish shipping without restriction.

Dated 4 February 1915

"All the waters surrounding Great Britain and Ireland, including the whole of the English Channel, are hereby declared to be a war zone. From February 18 onwards every enemy merchant vessel found within this war zone will be destroyed without it always being possible to avoid danger to the crews and passengers.

Neutral ships will also be exposed to danger in the war zone, as, in view of the misue of neutral flags ordered on January 31 by the British Government, and owing to unforeseen incidents to which naval warfare is liable, it is impossible to avoid attacks being made on neutral ships in mistake for those of the enemy.

Navigation to the north of the Shetlands, in the eastern parts of the North Sea and through a zone at least thirty nautical miles wide along the Dutch coast is not exposed to danger."

Edited by Goral - 23 Jan 2014 at 13:53
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