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
long dive 2.0 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.. Entered the Kattegat at about 9.30.
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.
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
The Danish Naval Officers and men have shown us every kindness possible especially on board this ship where we still remain.
Written on board Danish Battleship "PEDER SKRAM", 20-8-15
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This page was first published: August 4, 2001