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HMS E15


smiths565

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I wonder if anybody can help me. I am researching men who died during WW1 in the area that I live, Stannington, Sheffield, in the parish of Bradfield.

One of the men - Arthur Housman Able Seaman J/6914 was killed on the 18-Apr 1915 when the submarine E15 ran a ground Near Kepez point, Dardanelles.

The Lieutenant Commander Brodie was killed in the conning tower and six of the crew were killed by chlorine gas from the submarines batteries.

The British then had several attempts to destroy the stricken submarine until finally, it was hit by Trumph.

I have a number of questions on this and I hope somebody can help.

1. Were just 6 crew and Brodie killed ?

2. Why were the British trying to destroy this submarine and were the crew still on it.

3. Does anybody have a detailed description of the events I described briefly.

4. Can anybody confirm that Arthur Housman was one of the six men killed by Cholrine gas.

Thanks in Advance

Robert.

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Does anybody know where I could get a picture of HMS E15, better still a picture of the crew.

Thanks again

Robert.

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Robert,

E 15 went aground while trying to get through the Dardanelles into the Sea of Marmara. The stranded submarine attracted Turkish shore battery fire, killing Brodie. The shellfire stopped when the surviving crew surrendered. To ensure that the submarine could not be used by the Turks, the Royal Navy attempted to destroy it. I have seen picket boat torpedoes listed as the ultimate cause of destruction for E 15.

The incident is described briefly in Michael Wilson & Paul Kemp's Mediterranean Submarines, including a picture of the grounded E 15.

Best wishes,

Michael

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‘The Gallipolian’ - The journal of The Gallipoli Association had a couple of articles on E15 in 2003; one by Dale Hjort and a follow-up by Piotr Nykiel MA.

Mr Nykiel’s article provides the following answer to your question No.1

“In different sources, books and articles published in the west and in Turkey, there are lots of speculation about the exact number of casualties the crew of E-15 suffered as a result of a single hit scored by one of 150/40mm cannons of the Dardanos/ Hasan-Mevsuf Battery (Fort No.8). The number of dead varies between three and seven. The definitive answer seems to be given by one of the most reliable, detailed and still unpublished Turkish sources, the diary of Lieutenant Commander Nazmi Akpinar, who was then responsible for the minefield in the Dardanelles. He writes that four officers and twenty seamen had been captured, a commander killed and six of the crew missing.”

A little later he explains that at the British Consular Cemetery in Canakale there are only three gravestones related to E-15; Lt-Cmdr T.S. Brodie, AB F. J. Cornish and ERA 2nd Cl E. V. Hindman.

If this is correct, then I feel it tends to suggest that the other missing men were probably killed by the enemy shell. It would seem likely that if they had been killed by gas poisoning then their bodies would also have been recovered from the submarine, however this is a speculation on my part. Whatever the correct explanation it seems that the four bodies were never found.

Your Q: 2

There is still some speculation about this aspect too. E-15 was a modern vessel and thought of as too valuable a prize to fall into Turkish/German hands. It was also thought to be of great potential to them as propaganda. Finally, K. Edwards writing in 1939 (We Dive At Dawn) thought that there were top secret papers on board either concerning the landing or as another theory has it, they were to be in secret contact with a US diplomat from their embassy in Istanbul. Whatever the real reason the British wanted her destroyed and went to great lengths to achieve this. Regarding the crew, they were not in the ship at this time but had been taken prisoner.

The E-15 was not actually hit by the ‘Triumph,’ but in an attack by two steam picket boats, one indeed from the ‘Triumph’ and the other from the ‘Majestic.’ E.G. Robinson VC led in the Triumph’s boat, but missed with his torpedo. The Majestic’s boat, which was commanded by a midshipman, followed up with two torpedoes, one of which found its mark. Strait after however this boat was hit by the shore batteries. Despite heavy fire Robinson was able to get his boat alongside and rescue the survivors. Every man of the picket boats’ crews was decorated except Robinson who had won the VC just a few weeks earlier on 26 Feb ‘15 and he was promoted to Commander. (Details from ‘VCs of the First World War – Gallipoli’ by Stephen Snelling)

Regarding further reading; Brodie’s twin brother was also in the RN at Gallpoli serving with Commodore Keyes and he wrote ‘Forlorn Hope 1915. The submarine passage of the Dardanells’ in 1956

The photographs reproduced below were provided to ‘The Gallipolian’ by Mr Dale Hjort and I believe that he got them from the display in the Cannakale Naval and Military Museum

Regards

Michael D.R.

post-24-1098715790.jpg

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Hello

Brodie and five ratings (Cornish, Gingell, Hindman, Housman, and Tapper) killed in loss of the submarine.

Six more ratings died as prisoners of war in 1916/1917. An officer Price died in 1918 as a prisoner of war.

Thank you.

don

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Guest Pete Wood

According to the book, Stoker's Submarine [AE2], a shell from Fort Dardanos, on the Asiatic shore below Kephez Point, hit the conning tower and killed Brodie. The six other casualties suffocated from the effects of the "escaping clouds of chlorine gas."

Before the picket boats sunk the E15, "Destroyers and other submarines, one with GC Brodie aboard, made valiant efforts to sink her but were driven off by Turkish fire. The B6 submarine was almost lost making another attempt before picket boats armed with torpedoes finally blew up the evacuated E15."

There are a few photos of Lt Geoffery 'Fitz' Fitzgerald in the Stoker book - including shots of them in home made suits, made just before their release. The officers and men of the E15 were in the same Turkish prison camps as the Australian AE2 submarine crew.

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Quote: “I feel it tends to suggest that the other missing men were probably killed by the enemy shell. It would seem likely that if they had been killed by gas poisoning then their bodies would also have been recovered from the submarine, however this is a speculation on my part.”

Further to my above statement and to Robert's and Pete’s posts above:

I am open to other opinions on the deaths of these men, but I find it difficult to imagine how one can make a definite statement on the cause of death when there is no body available for examination.

Can someone please explain how gas poisoning can be said to be the cause of death for men whose bodies were never recovered?

What have I overlooked here?

Were the missing men identified as gassed before the surrender of the crew of E-15? In that case, what happened to their bodies after this?

Regards,

Michael D.R.

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Signals is prompting me to suggest you take a look at Dardanelles Patrol by Shankland & Hunter which contains some references to this event but does not really add anything to what has already been said. It certainly says that the reason for attempting to destroy the submarine was to prevent it falling into Turkish Hands. Certainly at Kephez Point it would not have been an option for the Allied forces to attempt it's recovery and an operational submarine would have been a great asset to the Turks.

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Robert:

Found this while doing a little research:

gordon

HMS E-15 was a submarine of the Royal Navy, commissioned in 1914.

During World War I, E-15 served in the Mediterranean, participating in the Dardanelles campaign against Turkey. On April 16, 1915, under the command of Lieutenant Commander T.S. Brodie, E-15 left Mudros and attempted to break through the Dardanelles to the Sea of Marmara. Early in the morning of April 17, E-15 ran aground some ten miles in, under Kephaz Point. Fired on and disabled, Brodie and the crew were killed.

Several attempts were made to destroy E-15. First, British submarine B-6, with Brodie's brother on board, tried to sink her by torpedo, but missed. Later, during the night, destroyers Grampus and Scorpion (commanded by the future Admiral A.B. Cunningham of World War II Mediterranean Fleet fame), attempted to find her, but failed. The next morning, British submarine B-11 also failed to locate the beached E-15, then the battleships Triumph and Majestic (under intense fire themselves from shore batteries) fired on E-15 and missed. Meanwhile, seaplanes carried out their own failed attempts.

Finally, on the night of the April 18, one picket boat each from Triumph and Majestic, both armed with two 14-inch torpedoes, went in. Lieutenant Commander Eric Robinson in Triumph's boat commanded of the expedition; Lieutenant Godwin commanded Majestic's. Approaching E-15, Majestic's boat was stuck by gunfire, but managed to hit and destroy E-15 before sinking. Robinson rescued the crew and reached safety in Triumph's boat. This and other exploits in the Dardanelles earned Robinson the Victoria Cross.

General Characteristics

* Displacement: 670 tons surfaced, 810 tons submerged

* Armament: five 18-inch torpedo tubes, one 12-pounder

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To all involved - Thank you very much. The information you have given me is (as always) first class.

Regards

Robert :D

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With the advantage of 20/20 hindsight, I think it's rather questionable if the Turks would have been able to salvage and refit E 15. Turkish yard capacity was limited and it proved difficult enough for them to support the few, mostly smaller German submarines based in Constantinople from 1915 on. The French submarine Turquoise, an older and smaller vessel than E 15, later went aground and was surrendered to the Turks, who did not make her operational.

Of course, it's an entirely different questions as to what the British perception of the state of damage to E 15 was and of the Ottoman's ability to overhaul E 15...

Best wishes,

Michael

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