Daily Event for August 19, 2007

August 19, 1915 the British submarine HMS E-13 grounded on Saltholm Flat between Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmo, Sweden. E-13 found herself in a difficult situation, she was grounded in Danish waters and therefore subject to the neutrality laws, which meant she had 24 hours to get underway or be interned.

The commanding officer, Lt. Cmdr. Geoffrey Layton and his crew began frantically removing anything that could be thrown overboard to lighten the boat, but they were running out of time. In the early morning hours of the ships from the Danish navy arrived on the scene and informed Layton of the time limit and then moved away a safe distance. They could not render any assistance to the submarine, but were under orders to protect the boat from attack by the Chief of the Danish Naval Staff.

The boat needed protection because two German torpedo boats were also on the scene and radio transmissions from the Germans concerned the British and the Danes. A few hours after dawn the Germans made their attack. G-132 fired a torpedo at E-13 which exploded short when it hit bottom. When that failed G-132 opened up with her deck gun hitting the defenseless sub several times. Within three minuets E-13 was a flaming twisted wreck and Layton ordered the boat abandoned.

It is not understood why, while E-13 was under attack in Danish waters, that the Danish ships which were observing the carnage did not react to aid E-13 even though they had orders to do exactly that if she came under attack by the Germans. The Danes did however rescue the survivors. Layton in his report credited the Danes for moving their ships in between E-13 and the still firing Germans which saved the lives of those still alive in the water. He also states that the Germans were firing at the men in the water with machine guns.

In the three minuets it took to destroy E-13 fifteen British sailors were killed. Lt. Cmdr. Layton and fourteen others were interned in Denmark for the remainder of the war. Well not exactly... Layton escaped and returned to Britain and rejoined the Royal Navy and in 1916 was named commander of HMS S-1, he was finally promoted to Admiral and Knighted. Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton G.B.E., K.C.B., K.C.M.G., D.S.O., R.N. was Commander Southeast Asia in December 1941 when the Japanese attacked. One other crewman, 1st officer Lt. Eddis also escaped from Danish custody.

The bodies of the dead were recovered and returned to England by Danish steamers. There were touching services both in Denmark and in Hull for the sailors. They were not buried together, but in several locations throughout the UK.

Protests from the Danish government made to Berlin for the violation of Danish neutrality were answered with an official apology from the Germans. This was of course a rouse as it was later determined that the destruction of E-13 had been ordered by Konteradmiral Robert Mischke to keep the boat from entering the Baltic and interfering with German operations against Riga. The wrecked boat was raised and towed to Copenhagen, where it was later sold for scrap.
© 2007 Michael W. Pocock

Roll of Honour
In memory of those who lost their lives in HMS E-13
"As long as we embrace them in our memory, their spirit will always be with us"

Goulden, Herbert
Ordinary Signalman
Greenwood, Thomas C.
Stoker 1st Class
Holt, Ernest S. C.
Ordinary Telegraphist
Joyner, Harold
Able Seaman
Long, Arthur
Stoker 1st Class
Payne, Alfred J.
Able Seaman
Pedder, Henry T.
Leading Seaman
Pink, Benjamin
Chief Stoker
Smart, Robert T.
Able Seaman
Staples, Herbert
Engine Room Artificer 3rd Class
Thomas, William H.
Leading Stoker
Warren, William G.
Petty Officer
Wilcox, Walter T.
Stoker 1st Class
Wilson, Fred
Stoker 1st Class
Yearsley, John
Stoker 1st Class

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