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

Layton's First Report

First Official Report from the CO of the E13, Lt.Cdr.  Geoffrey Layton

Here you will find a rewriting of Lt.Cdr. Geoffrey Layton's first report to Vice

Admiral W. F. Oliver, Chief of the War Staff, Admiralty (Royal Navy), uncovering some of the events taking place just outside Copenhagen on the morning of August 19, 1915.

This initial report was written on board the Danish Coast Defense Ship PEDER SKRAM on the 20th August 1915.

Report by Lt.Cdr. Layton
to Vice Admiral W. F. Oliver, Chief of the War Staff, Admiralty.

15th Sunday

6.0 p.m. left Harwich with E 8.

17th Tuesday

Diving several times for traffic - lost E 8 during a

Kaptajnløjtnant Geoffrey Layton

Lieutenant Commander
Geoffrey Layton

(Photo: Royal Danish Naval Museum)

long dive 2.0 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.. Entered the Kattegat at about 9.30.

18th Wednesday

Went to the bottom off Gilleleje Light Buoy at 7.0 a.m.

4.15 p.m. commenced diving toward the Sound - passed Helsingborg about 7.0 p.m. 8.0 p.m. surface and proceeded. 9.15 dived for a destroyer.

Arrived off Malmoe at 11.0 p.m. and fixed position by cross bearings. Proceed course 232o. After running 2' stopped and fixed again to make sure course was taking us clear. Proceeded.

Almost 10 minutes later I had reason to doubt the compass and sent below to compare the Gyro compass with the magnetic - reduced speed to 250 revs on one engine.

Finding Sperry was 20o wrong I rang down stop and put the helm hard a starboard but the boat grounded before either order was carried out. Position of grounding S.E. edge of Saltholm Flat.

The cause of the compass failing I found was due to the Azimuth Motor sticking and must have commenced when we proceeded after the last stop.

Conditions of boat when grounding: Tanks No. 1, 2, 7, 8 full. Tanks No. 3, 4, 5, 6 over half full.

Speed about 7 knots.

Shoal grounded on - Shelving, smooth rocky bottom - boat was resting most of the way along the keel.

Every effort was then made to refloat the boat- but she would not move in any direction.

This is one of the E-Class Submarines...

British E-Class Submarine
(shown is the E.20)

At about 5.0 a.m. Danish T.B. arrived and informed me that we should be left to try and get off in our 24 hours but no assistance could be given, A guard would be anchored near by. T.B. then left with Lieutenant Eddis to visit the Guard Ship.

A German T.B.D. arrived at the same time and remained close to us until 2 Danish T.Bs came on the scene. She then withdrew.

At about 9.0 a.m. there were 3 Danish T.Bs all anchored close to us, when 2 German T.B.Ds approached from the South. The 1st when about ½ a mile away

hoisted a commercial flag, but before I had time to read it she was abeam about 300 yds. and fired a torpedo which hit the bottom close to her and exploded.

At the same time she opened fire with all her guns. I gave the order to abandon ship, as we at once took fire fore and aft and the list on the boat made it useless to fire the beam tube.

I directed the men to either swim for the shore or towards the Danish T.Bs but to scatter as much as possible on account of the German firing at us in the water with Shrapnel and machine guns.

Those who could not swim I told to hold on to the submarine on the off side keeping as much in the water as possible.

The Danish T.Bs at once got out boats and one steamed in towards the space between the German and us- which action eventually stopped her firing. The German T.B.Ds then withdrew to the Southward.

I very much regret to say that 15 petty officers and men were lost. Some sank before help arrived and some were hit by shrapnel. I append a list.

The boat was damaged considerably. Can be of no further fighting value. At least 14 shells about 4" had burst inside besides many smaller. She was full of water and had burnt furiously before listing and filling.

I have requested the British Minister to get her completely demolished- the Danish Naval Authorities would not let me have the necessary explosives yesterday when I could have done it myself.

All confidential books and documents had already been burnt by me and I have requested the British Minister to inform the British Admiralty to that effect.

The passage through did not present any great difficulty with all the information we had provided with and had my compass not failed at the most critical moment of the whole journey this disaster would never have occurred.

List of saved and Lost



Lieutenant Commander Layton.

Lieutenant Eddis

R.N.R. Lieutenant Garriock

Petty Officer Bowden

Petty Officer Lincoln (hospital)

Leading Seaman French

Able Seaman Watson

Able Seaman Brewer

Able Seaman Hunt

E.R.A. Abrams

E.R.A. Varcoe

E.R.A. Lukey

Leading Stoker Watley

Stoker Stubbington

Stoker Smith

Petty Officer Warren.

Leading Seaman Pedder (body not recovered)* 

Able Seaman Joyner

Able Seaman Smart

Able Seaman Payne

Telegraphist Holt

Signalman Goulden

E.R.A. Staples

Chief Stoker Thomas

Leading Stoker Thomas

Stoker Yearsley

Stoker Wilcox

Stoker Long

Stoker Wilson

Stoker Greenwood

*(Web-master: Body was recovered on the following day)

The Danish Naval Officers and men have shown us every kindness possible especially on board this ship where we still remain.

(sd.) Geoffrey Layton.

Written on board Danish Battleship "PEDER SKRAM", 20-8-15

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Follow the unfolding story:

A deadly  morning
in August (1915)


Lt.Cdr. Geoffrey Layton and his
 1st Officer escapes Internment



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This page was first published: August 4, 2001

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