Nasmiths patrol

Discussion in 'World War 1' started by cally, Jan 3, 2009.

  1. cally

    cally New Member


    May - June 1915

    In one of the most daring naval actions of the First World War, a young Lieutenant-Commander Nasmith entered the Dardanelles in command of the submarine E11 on the 19th May in order to attack a Turkish Battleship. To do so he bravely had to dive below 90ft and pass right under 3 minefields - which must have been a mind-stretching experience in itself. On surfacing the battleship was no longer there. Instead there was a group of destroyers which on seeing his periscope, dispatched two of them with the orders to ram him. Nasmith cleverly avoided this threat and immediately went on to capture a dhow, lashing it tightly to the top of his conning tower - in order to disguise his progress through the inland waters.

    On the 20th May he managed to put a boarding party aboard a sailing ship and torpedoed a Turkish gunboat at the expense of nothing more than a bullet hole in the E11`s periscope.

    On the 24th May Nasmith sent to the bottom a vessel loaded with arms, 6-inch shells and gun spares after exploding it with a demolition charge after first ordering the crew to abandon it. He then went on to chase another similarly loaded ship into the nearby port of Rodosto - torpedoing her as she secured alongside. To cap the day off the prize sailing ship he had earlier captured ran itself ashore and his prize crew which he picked up had been driven off by rifle fire from a cavalry unit ashore!

    The 25th May found Lt-Commander Nasmith just off Constantinople ready to attack the various enemy supply ships to be found in the Bosporus. Finding his first target he fired off a torpedo but it seemed to develop a gyro failure [common in first world war torpedoes] and it sped off around the harbour and narrowly missed his own submarine! His next torpedo fared more accurately and exploded and sunk the Turkish transport "Stamboul" as she lay alongside the harbour wall. The result of these actions caused total panic in Constantinople. Troops aboard transports were disembarked and all further sailings were cancelled. In addition all shops closed and the city came to a standstill.

    On 27th May he attacked a Battleship but was driven off by a destroyer. He then attacked a Turkish Q-ship and again was driven off.

    On 28th May he sank a large transport using demolition charges again. Later on the same day Nasmith himself bravely swam to a torpedo that he had fired but did not go off and made it safe - taking great care not to touch the whiskers of the firing pistol.

    On his return passage to base Nasmith returned back under the three minefields, having to stop and free a mine-mooring cable that got stuck around one of the forward hydroplanes and went on to sink yet another transport. He arrived back in Britain on the 4th June.

    During his patrol of 20 days Nasmith had sunk one gunboat, two ammunition ships, two transports and 2 further supply ships. In addition he had paralysed the Turkish war effort by blockading their army in port as well as severing their lines of communication.

    Lt-Commander Nasmith won accelerated promotion to commander and became the third and most feted submarine commander to win the VC in the Dardanelles campaign.

    He later became known as Admiral Sir Martin Dunbar-Nasmith, VC, KBE.

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  2. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Martin Eric Dunbar-Nasmith ..... Born April 1 1883 Died June 29, 1965

    World War I Victoria Cross Recipient.
    Nasmith was born in the East Barnes section of London, the son of a stockbroker. He was a career Navy man, beginning as a Midshipman on the “Britannia” in May 1898 at the age of 15. He was one of the first submariners in the British Navy, serving as the chief training officer at the Navy’s submarine depot before the war, and introducing instrument navigation techniques that laid the groundwork for modern submarine tactics. He was awarded the V.C. for action in the submarine “B-11” in the Sea of Marmora, Turkey, between the 20th of May and the 6th of June, 1915.

    In 1920 Nasmith married Beatrix Justina Dunbar-Rivers and afterward took the name Dunbar-Nasmith. He was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1928, Vice-Admiral in 1932, awarded a knighthood in 1934, and served through World War II as Flag Officer in Charge, London. He retired to his home in Elgin, Morayshire, Scotland, where he passed away at the age of 82. His medals, awards, and decorations are privately held.

    Annie :)

    PS I did see a site where his medals were up for sale a few years ago ..... but I couldn't get into it ! :rolleyes:
  3. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    The headstone !

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  4. cally

    cally New Member

    To accompany my peice on Nasmith and HMS E11 I would like to add these two pictures which are both rare and well worth seeing.

    The second one shows Nasmith and the crew of E11 on their return from their successful operations...

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  5. Adrian Roberts

    Adrian Roberts Active Member

    You can see the bullet hole in the periscope (the one on the right of the second picture).

    Several other submarines that tried this never made it back.
  6. cally

    cally New Member

    Totally agree with you there Adrian. To be in a sub during the first world War was statistically over twice as dangerous as completing a full bomber tour over Germany in WW2!
  7. Adrian Roberts

    Adrian Roberts Active Member

    Have you seen this site, which lists all British submarines lost? A horrendous number.....

    The ship in the background of the picture of E11 above: A Chatham class cruiser? Chatham and Dublin were in the Dardanelles at the time.
  8. cally

    cally New Member

    I think you are right Adrian it is Chatham.

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