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Remembered Today:

Sinking of E13 ?


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Can any one tell me any more ?

I have recently bought a postcard dated 1915 which shows the funeral of the officers and crew of the submarine E13.

The only thing I have been able to discover about this incident is that it was shelled by 3 German destroyers and was grounded off the Danish coast.

15 officers and men were lost , their bodies recovered by the Danes and landed at Hull.

Where they Hull men and are any names known.

Any information appreciated.


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I read similar articles some time ago. Some of these men were buried in Hull but a number were also buried at Gosport. I think burial at Hull may have had something to do with Hull being the first port of call following collection of the bodies.

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The E 13 (Lieutenant-Commander Layton) ran aground on the southern end of the Danish Island of Saltholm in the early hours of 19 Aug 1915. Despite being in neutral waters and with Danish torpedo-boat destroyers nearby, the stranded submarine was attacked by a German destroyer and set on fire. The Times reported that fifteen men died and fifteen officers and men were saved.

The Times, Monday, Aug 23, 1915




The Secretary of the Admiralty made the

following announcement on Saturday:-

A report has now been received from

Lieutenant-Commander Layton, Command-

ing E.13, whose grounding on the Danish

Island of Saltholm was made public yester-


Lieutenant-Commander Layton reports

that the submarine under his command

grounded in the early morning of the

19th August, and all efforts failed to refloat

her. At 5 a.m. a Danish torpedo-boat

appeared on the scene and communicated

to E.13 that she would be allowed 24 hours

to try to get off. At the same time a German

torpedo-boat destroyer arrived, and remained

close to the submarine until two more Danish

torpedo-boats came up, when she withdrew.

At 9 a.m., while three Danish torpedo-

boats were anchored close to the submarine,

two German torpedo-boat destroyers ap-

proached from the south. When about half

a mile away, one of these destroyers hoisted

a commercial flag signal, but before the

Commanding Officer of E.13 had time to

read it, the German destroyer fired a torpedo

at her from a distance of about 300 yards,

which exploded on hitting the bottom close

to her.

At the same moment the German destroyer

fired with all her guns, and Lieutenant-

Commander Layton, seeing that his sub-

marine was on fire fore and aft, and unable

to defend himself owing to being aground,

gave orders for the crew to abandon her.

While the men were in the water they were

fired on by machine guns and with shrapnel.

One of the Danish torpedo-boats imme-

diately lowered her boats and steamed

between the submarine and the German

destroyers, who therefore had to cease fire

and withdraw.


The bodies of 14 of the sailors killed were sent by the steamship Vidar, arriving at Hull in the evening of 27 Aug 1915. Following protests, the German Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs later apologized to the Danish Legation in Berlin over the incident.



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Hi All,

one thing that doesn't get mentioned too often, the German that ordered the destruction of E13, K. Adm. Mischke is quite often mentioned as being court-martialed for this action in ordering Leutnant zur See, Graf von Montgelas of the G132 to open fire. This does not seem to be the case from what I have read and their only real concern seemed to be offending Denmark. Has anyone any other information on this side of the incident, as he was certainly in his position for some time after this. It must be remembered that only around two months earlier the minelayer S.M.S. Albatross was shelled and run aground in Swedish water by the Russians in the Baltic, and they continued to fire on her even when aground which caused around 4 times the loss of E13. The Russians issued an apology to the Swedish as they was also their primary concern, not to upset this neutral nation, they said they had lost their way in fog and did not know they were in Swedish waters. At the end of the day the Germans would have just been relieved to stop another submarine that was causing them such grave concerns in the Baltic.

I have also read the original German documents around when E19 grounded in similar circumstances about 3 weeks later, and this time the orders by the German Admiral was to wait for her to get off neutral Denmark and then destroy so as not to upset the Danes.

Cheers DB.

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The sinking of the E13 was about a week after the Battle of the Gulf of Riga, in which Germany attempted to force the entrance into the Gulf but was denied by the Russian navy supported by British submarines. I think Germany lost several smaller ships and the battle-cruiser, Moltke, was torpedoed and damaged by a single torpedo from the British submarine E1. The E13 was heading to the Baltic when she grounded.



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Hi Martin,

yep totally correct, and after the torpedong of the Moltke the reasons for destroying E13 would have been stronger, even though they would have known of the diplomatic response. The German's were always confused about the amount of submarines actually breaking through due to the numerous sightings, and thought there were more and that they were being sent in as a response to their atack on the Gulf of Riga. It is often claimed that they withdrew from the Gulf due to E1's torpedoing of the Molke and the battlecruisers fled, but this is not true. The other German battlecruisers escorted Moltke to Danzig, and then went back to the scene to continue their covering operation. Horton in E9 tired in vain for days to nail the battlecruisers, but their successful anti submarine courses tharted his attempts.

The Russians should be paid a high degree of praise for the defence of the Gulf at this time, the pre dreadnought battleship Slava and the minelayers and destroyers putting up a heroic defence. Once Slava was in the Gulf she could not get back out and was thought to be a sacrificial ship, something her crew did not know. The stakes were very high at this stage, as the German intention was if they took the Gulf of Riga they would control the Baltic and box in the Russian Navy into the Gulf of Finland in which they believed they could make the Russian sue for peace. So the E13 was certainly invloved in a very big picture.

Cheers DB.

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The postcard although saying 'Funeral Procession' was the first leg of the journey home for 14 of the E13 dead, they are on thier way to Paragon Railway Station for the journey home 27th Aug 1915. One man came from Grimsby ERA3 Herbert Staples he was taken home by tug.

Signalman, GOULDEN, Herbert, J 26176

Stoker 1st class, GREENWOOD, Thomas C, K 5440

Ordinary Telegraphist, HOLT, Ernest S C, J 26522

Able Seaman, JOYNER, Harold, 214616

Stoker 1st class, LONG, Arthur, 312113

Able Seaman, PAYNE, Alfred J, J 4317

Able Seaman, PEDDER, Henry T, 227585

Chief Stoker, PINK, Benjamin, 218214

Able Seaman, SMART, Robert T, 235782

Engine Room Artificer 3c, STAPLES, Herbert, M 1464

Leading Stoker, THOMAS, William H, 307910

Petty Officer, WARREN, William G, 238632

Stoker 1st class, WILCOX, Walter T, K 7191

Stoker 1st class, WILSON, Fred, K 1405

Stoker 1st class, YEARSLEY, Walter A, K 3223

Regards Charles

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Before leaving Denmark, there was a funeral service held for the victims of the E13 attended by many, incl. government and military representatives, officers of the Danish squadron and a number of interned British seamen. There was reportedly a guard of honour of 200 sailors.

A list of the survivors announced by the Secretary of the Admiralty (published in The Times, 21 Aug 1915):


Lieutenant-Commander Geoffrey Layton, R.N.

Lieutenant Paul Eddie, R.N.

Acting Lieutenant William Garriock, R.N.R.


Abrams, A. T. H., E.R.A., 3rd Cl., 271339 (Po.).

Bowden, C., P.O., 205844 (Dev.).

Brewer, - , A.B.

French, A. F., Ldg. Smn., 214229 (Po.).

Hunt, C. F. R., A.B., 234445 (Po.).

Lincoln, H., P.O., 223571 (Ch.).

Lukey, E. T., E.R.A., 4th Cl., M.4442 (Po.).

Smith, Ldg. Sto.

Stubbington, F. G., Ldg. Sto., 304560 (Po.).

Varcoe, W. A., Actg. E.R.A., 4th Cl., M.1581 (Dev.).

* Watson, B. N., A.B., 225969 (Po.).

Whatley, -, Ldg. Sto.

* Wounded



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I believe the CWGC are in error with one of the sailors listed by Joseph. The man listed as Yearsley, Walter A is not listed by the CWGC, however, his details can be found under John Yearsley. I believe his headstone and the Haslar register name him correctly as Walter Albert Yearsley, but the on-line database seems to be in error.

Every reference I've ever seen shows him as WA Yearsley, except the on-line database. I seem to recall that a death certificate is required as a start for the CWGC to ammend.



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You're right, Spud. Well spotted. If you search CWGC for YEARSLEY in the Navy and WW1, it returns just two:

John Yearsley, Stoker 1st Class, K/3223, d.19/08/1915, H.M. Submarine E13, age 24.

John Yearsley, Ordinary Seaman, J/78245, d.16/07/1918, H.M.S. Anchusa, age 19.

And yet if you search the RN index on the National Archives for YEARSLEY, it returns fifteen hits including Walter Albert Yearsley, K3223 (b. Deptford), and John Yearsley, J78245 (b. Manchester):

Click here

However, could Walter have been known as John or is it just a plain transcription error by the CWGC?

Many people were known by names different to their birth names, in some cases they served under an alias. Recently I was looking through the H.M.S. Hood casualty list and at first thought that the association had the total number wrong. I then realised about a dozen or so people were listed twice, their original names and their aliases.

I would guess that, if it is just a mistake, then the CWGC may fix it just on the strength of the service record information on the National Archives but I might be wrong. A question for Terry Denham perhaps.



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GILLY, MARTIN, ALL, details on YEARSLEY W A from RNSM & my file ;


19.08.15 Z 25 200990 B C F HASLAR RNC NEW GD D


Son of Walter Henry and Alice Yearsley, of 23 Shamrock Rd., Itchen, Southampton.

Killed in action. Awarded Cross St. George 4th Class - Russia.

Lost when E.13 Grounded.

HMS MAIDSTONE. ADM 188 / 873. N.P 4270 / 15.

P.o.B ; Deptford, London. Occ ; General Labourer.

ADM 53 / 47899 Log of HMS MAIDSTONE reads ; No mention.

Regards Sadsac

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The original register does say 'Walter Albert'.

I will check it out and get back to you. The replacement of the forename by 'John' looks like a deliberate act as it could not be a scanning error.

If it is an error, it can be corrected without a DC as the problem will have arisen internally at CWGC.

As a piece of advice....When searching the CWGC database, use as few parameters as possible. In fact, use only the Surname if you can. This will mean that errors are less likely to get in the way of your search. Also, there is a glitch in the software that means that certain records do not get displayed - only a few but they are there.

It may mean a longer search through the returned results but it can often pay in the end. The returned records can always be sorted by clicking the top of each column to help. Less is better in this instance.

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I have checked this with CWGC and their original records gave 'Walter Albert'. However, they were later asked to amend this to 'John' and to amend his age downwards by one year. This was after printing of their register in 1929.

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No. The record no longer exists as to whom requested it but, as it included an age amendment, it is assumed to have been a relative. Only the relatives supplied this info - not the military.

There is a suggestion (only a suggestion) that he may have enlisted under an older relative's name and this was later amended. No idea if this suggestion has any legs but it did happen on occasions.

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One man came from Grimsby ERA3 Herbert Staples he was taken home by tug.Regards Charles

Here is a photo of Herbert's headstone:

Cheers, Terry.


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Out of interest. What are the criteria for the CWGC to record service under an alias - which you sometimes see. Could there be a case for the CWGC noting that Yearsley, WA was an alias see Yearsley, J - or does the chap have to have served under a different surname - if that makes sense.



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There are not many alias records for forename only. In fact, I can't recall one just now but I'll see if I can find one.

An alias name is one which is used by the person temporarily for their military service. In cases where they change their name permanently from that of the family, it is no longer an alias.

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Thank you for the explanation. Its interesting, the age adjustment seems to be correct. The service records for Walter Albert and his birth registration appear to agree. He was born on September 20th 1890 indeed making him 24 (as currently recorded by the CWGC) when killed in August 1915.

I see his Dad was also called Walter, (and although he had a few brothers none were called John) so I wonder if his family called him John to avoid confusion at home and then preferred to have him remembered as they'd known him - as a suggestion.

In such a case would the CWGC respect the families wishes or would they insist on recording him by his lawful name ?

Thanks for your help,


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The NoK were given the opportunity to correct names and a variation in surname often lead to an Alias record being created. In the absence of any such intervention, the name provided by the military is used.

It certainly looks like a NoK amendment for some reason. As far as I am aware, there is no such thing as a 'lawful' name in the UK. You can use any name you wish.

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