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The British Submarine E.13 off Saltholm (1915):

Escape from Internment

Lieutenant Commander Geoffrey Layton and his 1st Officer Escapes Internment.

By Johnny E. Balsved

Kaptajnløjtnant Geoffrey Layton

Lieutenant Commander
Geoffrey Layton
(Photo: Royal Danish Naval Museum)

The commanding officer of the E.13, Lt.Cdr. Geoffrey Layton, was interned in Denmark with the rest of his crew in mid-August, 1915.

Layton, whilst he was treated well and in a friendly manner by the Danish, was not the sort of person to sit out a war in exile.

On the very last day of October, 1915, Lt.Cdr. Geoffrey Layton managed to escape internment, and with help from good Danish friends, he succeeded in returning to England.

Disguised as a Seaman

One of my references a colorful account of Layton's escape is given.

A few week after being interned, Layton disguised himself as a Danish seaman, leaving a dummy in his bed as a decoy, he made his way passed the guards.

Exiting the building out of a window, using hammock lashings he made his way to the harbor, where he took to the water.

Swimming along the shore to avoid dockyard

sentries, he made his way to a quite spot; there he wrung out his clothes and spent a very cold night.

Next day mixing in with the crowd, he was able to make the ferry crossing to Malmo in Sweden.

There passing himself of as a Finnish seaman, he got a passage on to a Norwegian steam ship to Christiania, now known as Oslo in Norway, before making his way to Bergen.

Arrested on His Return to England

From Bergen he 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.

Ready for a Great Career

The following year, 1916, Lt.Cdr. Geoffrey 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, Lt.Cdr. Geoffrey Layton was awarded the DSO for his services with the subs.

Layton's career continued to have close connections with submarines and, after his promotion to the rank of Captain, he held the post of Chief of Staff to the Rear Admiral (Submarines).

Geoffrey Layton later became, Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton, GBE, KCB, KCMG, DSO, RN, and was Commanding Officer in South East Asia, when the Japanese invaded Singapore 1942.

Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton

Geoffrey Layton,
CO of the E.13,
here as admiral in 1945
(Photo: Royal Danish Naval Museum)

Lieutenant Paul Eddis also escaped

The 1st Officer of the E.13, Lieutenant Paul Eddis, also escaped, and whilst not such a colorful story, he did show enterprise.

Having been interned aboard a Danish ship; he used a barrel to help him escape to a British owned yacht, laying at Copenhagen harbor.

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Follow the unfolding story:

A deadly  morning
in August (1915)


Report by
Lt.Cdr. Geoffrey
Layton to the
British Admiralty



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This page was first published: September 24, 2001

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