Prince Henry of Prussia C-in-C of the Imperial German navies Baltic fleet was to write, “I consider the destruction of a Russian submarine will be a great success, but I regard the destruction of a British submarine as bring at least as valuable as that of a Russian armoured cruiser”. For three years of the First World War a flotilla of Royal Navy submarines was to operate deep within the Baltic. The Germans came to refer to the Baltic Flotilla , as ‘The Horton Sea’, in a tribute to the Royal Navies submarine Ace, Max Horton.

The flotilla was in total, comprised of nine submarines from both the C and E classes, and was attached to the Russian Baltic Fleet. The main task given to the British flotilla was to disrupt the vital import of iron ore from neutral Sweden into Germany and in addition to force the Imperial Navy to become port bound, denying them access to their traditional training ground. The flotilla’s home port for the duration was to be Reval (todays Tallinn), and for most of its time was to come under the commanded by Captain (promoted to Commander in August 1916) Francis Cromie, from onboard the Russian depot ship, Dvina (former Russian cruiser Pamiat Azova).

The E1 to 8 (group 1) class boats had displacements of 652 long tons (662 t) when surfaced and 795 long tons (808 t) whilst submerged. Their length overall was 178 ft (54 m) with a beam of 15 ft 5 in (4.70 m).Their propulsion was from two 800 hp (597 kW) Vickers eight-cylinder two-stroke diesel engines and two 420 hp (313 kW) electric motors. The boats had 2 propellers and a speed of 15 or 16 knots surfaced and 9.5 knots when submerge. Their fuel capacity was for 50 tonnes (55 short tons) of diesel, giving a range of 3,000 nautical sea miles (5,600 km) at 10 knots and 65 nautical sea miles (120 km) at 5 knots. Their maximum design depth was 100 feet (30 m) although in service some boats were to double that, reaching depths exceeding 200 feet (61 m). The crews complement numbered 3 officers and 27 men.

The E boats armament was comprised of four 18 inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes (1 bow, 2 beam, 1 stern) and eight torpedoes were carried as reloads. Whilst the ‘Group 1’ boats were not constructed with a deck gun during building, some went on to have them retro-fitted.

The boats had a wireless systems with 1 kilowatt (1.3 hp) power ratings. In some of the class these were upgraded at a later date to 3 kilowatts (4.0 hp) systems by removing a midship torpedo tube. Some submarines contained Fessenden oscillator systems.

Group two,comprising E9 to E20 had displacements of 667 long tons (678 t) when surfaced and 807 long tons (820 t) submerged. Their length was 181 ft (55 m)and they had a beam of15 ft (4.6 m). Their propulsion was from two 800 hp (597 kW) diesels and two 420 hp (313 kW) electric powering two propellers. Their speed was 15.25 knots when on the surface and10.25 knots whilst submerged. The boats had a fuel capacities of 50 tonnes (55 short tons) of diesel and a surface endurance of 3,000 nautical miles at 10 knots. Submerged and it dropped to 65 nautical miles(120 km) at 5 knots. The boats complement was for 30.

Armament comprised of five 18 inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes (2 bow, 2 beam, 1 stern) and one12 pounder gun. Ten torpedoes were carried. E9 was as not fitted with a deck gun during her construction, and its not known if one was fitted later, as was the case with many boats up to E19.

The group two submarines had wireless systems with 1 kilowatt (1.3 hp) power ratings and in some boats, these were later upgraded to 3 kilowatts (4.0 hp) systems by removing a midship torpedo tube. Their maximum design depth was of a 100 feet (30 m) although in service some reached depths of below 200 feet (61 m). Some submarines contained Fessenden oscillator systems.

The Royal Navies C class submarines were to be the last class of petrol engined submarines built for the Royal Navy and where to mark the end of the development of the Holland class. Thirty-eight were constructed in the five years between 1905 and 1910 and they were to serve with distinction throughout the war.
The four ‘Baltic boats were from Group 2 of the C class. Group 2’s displacement was of 290 long tons (295 t) when surfaced and 320 long tons (325 t) when submerged. Their length was 143 ft 2 in (43.64 m) with a beam of 13 ft 6 in (4.11 m). The propulsion of 600 hp (450 kW) came from a Vickers petrol engine and a 200 hp electric motor,all linked to a single propeller. The boat’s speed was 13 knots while surfaced and 8 knots when submerged. Their range was 2,000 nautical miles (3,700 km) at 7 knots when surfaced and 55 nautical miles at 5 knots when submerged. The crew numbered 16 officers and men. Their armament was just two 18-inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes with 2 torpedoes carried. With their limited range and only a ten percent reserve of buoyancy over their surface displacement, they made for poor surface vessels. However their spindle shaped hull made for good underwater performance compared to their contemporaries.

HMS’s E1, E8, E9, E13, E18, E19, C26, C27, C32 and C35 comprised the boats attached to the Baltic Flotilla. This gave the flotilla six E class and five C class submarines. The smaller C class submarines lacked the range to reach Reval under their own power and could only reached the Baltic Sea from the White Sea using Russia’s rivers to head south. The long range E-class submarines could enter the Baltic by making the attempt to pass undetected through the narrow and shallow Danish Straits. Most dangerous part was the Skaw which divides Denmark,and Sweden, with its threat of mines, aeroplanes ,destroyer patrols and being to shallow to dive to any depth.Two submarines were to be lost to stranding and one went missing, now presumed sunk by a mine. The nine craft that were to serve in the Baltic were constructed between 1908 and 1914;
1: HMS E1 was laid down in the HM Dockyard at Chatham on the 14 February 1911, launched on the 9 November 1912 and commissioned on 6 May 1913. She was to cost £101,700.

2: HMS E8 was built at Chatham Dockyard. She was laid down on 30 March 1912 and was commissioned on 18 June 1914. She cost £105,700.

3: E9 was built by Vickers, Barrow and was laid down on 1 June 1912. She commissioned on 18 June 1914.

4: HMS E13 was built by HM Dockyard, Chatham. She was laid down on 16 December 1912 and was commissioned on 9 December 1914. The hull cost £101,900.

5: HMS E18 was laid in 1914 at Vickers. She was launched on 4 March 1915 and commissioned on 6 June 1915.

6: HMS E19 was laid down at Vickers in Barrow-in-Furness on the 27 November 1914, launched on 13 May 1915 and entered commissioned on12 July 1915.

7: C26 was built by Vickers in Barrow and was laid down on 14 February 1908. She commissioned on 28 May 1909.

8: HMS C27 was laid down on 4 June 1908 at the Vickers in Barrow. She was commissioned on 14 August 1909 [3].

9: HMS C35 was laid down at Vickers in Barrow on the 3 March 1909. She was launched on the 2 November 1909 and commissioned into service on 1 February 1910.

1914

On the 17th September 1914 onboard HMS Iron Duke, the Grand Fleets flag ship, the idea of dispatching British submarines into the Baltic was first raised. It’s suggested that Admiral Keyes first proposed the plan. Then the submarines E1 and E5 were ordered to carry out a reconnaissance of the Skagerrak to assess the feasibility of the plan. Three weeks after that conference in Scapa Flow, Keyes was summoned to the Admiralty in London to discuss the developing plan. The orders were then issued on the 13th October to the Commodore (S). Churchill, never a man to hold back set the sailing date as the next day, the 14th. That night a meeting was held on board the depot ship Maidstone in Harwich by the prospective captains.

On the 15th October 1914, E1 ( Lieutenant Commander Laurence) sailed from Gorleston in Norfolk, in company with E9 (Max Horton) under orders to break through the Baltic, and to find and attack both German warships and the enemies vital iron ore trade.E11(Lieutenant Commander Martin Nasmith) was under the same set of orders, but issues with his boats engines kept them in port, whilst they were resolved. The passage into the Baltic via the Skagerrak and Kattegat Straits are both a narrow and a shallow body of water, that runs between Denmark and Sweden. It’s considered to be hazardous in the extreme. Its into these waters patrolled by the German navy, that the tiny warships sailed.

Unfortunately for E9 it was her turn to suffer engine issues and she soon fell behind E1. With the arrival of daylight, she slipped onto sea bed to wait until dusk. With the arrival of the darker hours Horton lifted his command off the bottom of Flint Channel Sound and had a look around. With the horizon clear E9 crept forward on one engine. As he moved eastward he found that the enemies patrols had increased.

Horton was correct in his observations. E1 had make her way into the Baltic with less problems than her sister was to experience. The Germans had indeed become aware of the submarines presence. Laurence in the belief that Horton had already broken through to the Baltic as well, had carried out an attack on the cruiser Victoria Luise [1] at 10:00 on 18th in Kiel Bay, just as Horton was on sea bed awaiting dusk. Unfortunately E1’s torpedo ran too deep (a problem that was to dog the campaign), and its trail was spotted by the cruiser’s lookouts. Having wirelessed Kiel news of the attack, extra patrols were sent out from the por. The Germans at first attributed the attack to the Swedish, as up to that early date in the war, the Russian submarines had shown a distinct lack of the offensive spirit. But they realized quickly the Royal Navy had broken into their backyard

On the 16th at 03:00 while running surfaced in the narrow waters between Sweden and Denmark, Horton sighted a convoy. E9 dived and waited for the convoy to pass over her. Then Horton brought her gently to periscope depth, but a passing pair of destroyers forced her back down. An hour later Horton tried again, but a single ship greeted him on this attempt. Finally managing to reach the surface, E9 emerged into a thick enveloping fog. Counting her blessings, she stole through the fog running on the surface, until the fog finally lifted it’s ‘cloak of invisibility’ from them. Horton then dived his command to sit and wait for dusk on the sea bed. With the light fading, he surface once more, and with just the conning tower clear of the water, E9 raced along at full speed, passing Copenhagen on her starboard side. Having passed the Danish capital, a German destroyer now closed into ram the submarine. Horton once again dived but found the waters around him to shallow and hit the bottom. He evaded the destroyer by bumping along the bottom, but then stumbled into some torpedo boats, 200 yards off. Unable to dive he quietly took E9 past the unaware torpedo boats. With low batteries, over next few hours a game of hide and seek with the patrols, was played. But finally on 22nd the submarine was in the quieter waters of her new home port, Reval. On her arrival in port she spent her first 24 hours having a new propeller fitted, after which she was ready for her first patrol.

In England, Nasmith in E11, was not to be so fortunate. Following two days of repair work, he finally sailed. Having been delayed in his departure, he now he found the sound was to well patrolled and too dangerous to attempt an entry. After avoiding both ramming and bomb attacks, Nasmith had reluctantly to give up the attempted to break through and he returned to base. Before he could undertake another attempt, he was ordered to the Dardanelles. At one point during his attempted breakthrough to the Baltic, he spotted ‘U3’ on the surface. The identification was simple with a large clear ‘U3’ painted boldly on the submarines conning tower. But Nasmith was a happy man on his torpedoes missing, when he realized his intended victim was in fact the Danish sub U3!

The two successful boats proceeded the 650 miles to Reval (present-day Tallinn, capital of Estonia) where they joined with the Russian Navy. Their early patrols were to be limited with the ‘Russian’ winter arriving and they had to wait out the winter ice to undertake full patrols.The Russians tried to keep news of the arrival of the British submarines at Reval as a secret and insisted that the boats should neither fly the Royal Navy’s Ensign or display their ID numbers, which should be painted over. They also demanded that the crews wear civilian clothes when ashore. But the British disobeyed and eventually, when the Germans discovered their presence, Berlin was to stop exercising its big warships in the Baltic. On 31 December 1914, Horton was to be promoted to Commander. For the crews the bad news was soon they were running low on their rum rations, and Admiral von Essen, commander of the Russian Baltic Fleet, suggested that they switch to vodka instead! A ration which was to be supplied by the Czar himself.

The British were to share the same quarters ashore with their Russians Allies. Through the cold months they learned to play Russian billiards and to ski. There was even a football tournament among British and Russian crews, but it’s not recorded which side one. Some British officers were keen to learn Russian. Francis Goodhart, the commander of E8 wrote in his diary: “Russian alphabet is quite difficult, they are all laughing at my efforts, which is actually quite uplifting…”. The Russians were much taken with E8’s commander, Max Horton with his larger than life character and his taste for both good drink and good company was to earn him a lot of friends. During its time in the Baltic E8 operated its crew was to included several Russians. Among them were five officers, a telegraphist and a signaler. One of these officers was lejtenanta Aksel Ivanovich Berg, later the commander of Soviet submarines Lynx , Wolke and Zmieja , engineer-admiral, deputy defense minister, scholar, member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.

1915

On the 4th May E1 was ordered to patrol the Bornholm area and E9 to set up base at Dagertort in order to attack the German sea flank. But Libau fell on the 10th and the orders were rewritten to that of patrolling between Danzig and Libau. E9 was to soon find three transports, three cruisers and their escorting destroyers, on route to Danzig. She passed under destroyer screen, but her first salvo was to miss. A second salvo run deep and passed under the targets hulls. The destroyers then circled over E9’s location. Making use of her stern tube, E9 fired for a third time, and hit the transport. The submarine then dropped to the seabed, and while her crew was busy reloading, the destroyers continue to hunt for her. The Germans were making use of explosive sweeps, which brought E9 to near the surface. After the destroyers have finally move off, E9 finished off the transport with a torpedo and then returned to Reval.

During early June 1915 two of the flotilla continued offensive patrols in the Baltic. ‘E-9’ (Horton) was to torpedo and sink a German collier, and in addition badly damaged the destroyer S-148, to the west of Windau on the 5th. E9 sailed to the Gulf of Riga to look for the Uboat that had sunk the Russian minelayer Yenisei on the 4th June. E9 was to be successful in locating the Uboat, but both dived on sighting each other and E9 was at a loss as to what her next move should be. A few hours later a small squadron of a light cruiser, four destroyers and collier were to appeared in E9’s periscope. The Collier surprised it’s hidden onlookers by stopping to commence re-coaling two of the destroyers. E9 took the opportunity to launch a torpedo at the circling cruiser, but missed. The missile went on to sink both collier and the destroyer secured along side her. As the cruiser rescued the two crews quietly E9 slipped away undetected.

On the morning of the 1st July the minelayer-cruiser Albatross, escorted by the armoured cruiser Roon, light cruisers Augsburg and Lubeck with seven destroyers, had laid mines in the northern Baltic, south of the Aaland Islands. That same night the Russian armoured cruisers Admiral Makarov, Bayan, Rurik, the light cruisers Bogatyr, Oleg and the destroyer Novik sailed south to shell Memel. But they were diverted by wireless intelligence and Russian decoding to hunt for the German ships. On the morning of the 2nd they encountered the Albatros, Augsburg and three of the destroyers.

In the ensuing exchange the Albatros was badly damaged and had to be beached near Ostergarn on the Swedish island of Gotland. She was later refloated and to be interned by the Swedes. The German Roon, Lubeck and remaining four destroyers were sighted by the Russians, and ships of both sides were damaged by the exchange of fire. Two more German armoured cruisers sailed to lend support, and on route the Prinz Adalbert was torpedoed. She was badly damaged by E9 (Horton) north of Danzig. The cruiser limped back to Kiel arriving on the 4th July.

On 14th August 1915 E13 and E8 (lieutenant commander Geoffrey Layton) sailed from Harwich under orders to sail into the Baltic in order to attack German shipping, in particular ship’s carrying iron ore shipments from Sweden. Once through they were ordered to rendezvous with E9 off Dagerot in Gulf of Finland. During her passage E8 had suffered an amount of damage, the most serious of which was the defect on one of the propellers. But the 2nd September saw E8 safely Reval. After a weekly refurbishment, on September 28, 1915, E8he sailed on her first patrol towards the coasts of central Pomerania and the Gulf of Gdansk.

E13’s patrol was not to go so smoothly. At around 23:00 on 17 August 1915, due a defective gyrocompass and a falling tide, she was to run aground in shallow waters off Saltholm island in the Øresund between Malmö and Copenhagen. As dawn broke the stranded submarine became visible to the world around her. At 05:00 the Royal Danish Navy torpedo boat Narhvalen arrived on the scene and hailed the E13’s commander advising him that according to the neutrality laws he had 24 hours to refloat his vessel and leave. If he didn’t then he, his crew and his boat would be interned for the violation of Denmark’s neutrality.

Den britiske ubåd E.13.

The E13’s crew attempted to lighten the submarine by pumping out the tanks and discharging diesel, but she stubbornly remained grounded in a mere 10 feet (3.0 m) of water and could not be move. Layton came to realise that E13 was stuck fast and they would not be able to refloat her unaided, before the deadline had passed. He despatched his first lieutenant, P.L.Eddis over to the torpedo boat Narhvalen, to request passage to the Falster guard ship anchored off west coast Saltholm. Layton had told him to try arrange a tow but, should this proved to be impossible, to negotiate terms for their internment. All their attempts to contact the Admiralty in London for assistance failed, due to the Germans jamming of the radio frequencies.

At 10:28 the German torpedo boat G132 arrived on the scene, but then withdrew when the Danish 1st TB Squadron torpedo boat’s, Støren, Sbaekhuggeren and Søulven approached the international gathering and anchored off E13. A third Danish torpedo boat, the Tumleren, arrived soon afterwards to join the four craft. E13’s crew had by now given up on trying to lighten their vessel to float her off and were resting on the deck casing.

In the meantime, the commander of the G132, Oberleutnant zur See Paul Graf von Montgelas, had informed Rear Admiral Robert Mischke by radio about E13’s predicament. The German navy was currently involved in operations against the Russian held city of Riga, and these were at a critical stage. Mischke knew that he could not permit E13 into the Baltic, where it would be a threat to the German offensive in the Gulf of Riga. He ordered G132 and another torpedo boat to destroy the submarine, despite her being in Danish waters. The two German vessels returned to Saltholm at 09:28 and opened fire on the E13 with torpedoes, machine-guns and shell fire from a range of 300 yards. While firing on the helpless British boat, the Germans flew the signal, ‘ABANDON SHIP IMMEDIATELY’. The Søulven protested at the Germans behaviour but was ignored. The torpedoes missed the stranded and stationary submarine but E13 was repeatedly hit by machine guns and set on fire.Layton ordered his crew to abandon the submarine, but even with his men in the water swimming for the Danish ship, the German’s continued firing on them. The Germans finally ceased fire but only after the Danish torpedo boat Søulven had placed herself between the submarine and the two German ships. The Germans, their orders accomplished, withdrew leaving fourteen of the E13’s crew killed in the attack and one man was missing, presumed dead.

Once the holes in E13 were patched and she was pumped dry by the Danes, she towed into Copenhagen, between the two pontoons Thor and Odin. She was found to be too badly damaged by the German attack, and that repairs was not viable. On 6 February 1919, she was sold by the British government to a Danish company for 150,000 Danish kroner (about £8,330 at 1919 prices).On 14 December 1921, she was to resold for scrap. Although she was scrapped, parts of her machinery remained in various roles, one motor still in use as late as 1955.

The surviving fifteen crew members from E13 were interned at the Copenhagen Navy Yard for the wars duration. Layton however refused to give his parole and was eventually to escape, along with his first officer, by rowing out in a barrel to a British yacht in the harbour. Both men were to return to England to continue the war. Layton in particular had a distinguished career and went on to commanded the British Eastern Fleet during the Second World War. The remainder of the crew were to repatriated before the wars end as ‘shipwreck mariners’.

The Danish government fitted out the mail steamer Vidar as a temporary chapel to transport the bodies of the casualties back to Hull, accompanied by the Danish torpedo boats Springeren and Støren. Despite them clear breach of Denmark’s neutrality, the dead British sailors were given full honours when their bodies were brought ashore, as a report described; ‘There was a touching funeral scene to-night in the Sound. In a brilliant sunset the Danish torpedo boat Soridderen passed slowly in with her flag at half-mast. A naval squadron formed a guard of honour around the bodies of the British dead. At all the fortifications, and on the whole of the ships, flags were immediately lowered as a mark of respect. Hundreds of spectators were gathered at Langelinie, all of whom reverently saluted. On shore a naval and military salute was given’.

The incident caused outrage both in Britain and Denmark, since it was such a clear and a serious breach of international law. The Danish newspaper National Tidende published a leading article protesting at the Germans’ violation of Danish neutrality. Politiken reported that the Danish government had protested to Germany, pointing out that the E13 had not been involved in any kind of war like action but was lying damaged in neutral territory. The London Times in a leading article wrote that “the unjustifiable slaughter of the men of the E13 is one more notch in the long score we have to settle with the homicidal brood of Prussia.”The German government subsequently apologized to Denmark, stating that “instructions previously given to commanders of German vessels to respect neutrality have once more been impressed upon them.”

On 19 August 1915, while E13 lay grounded, E1 torpedoed and damaged the German battlecruiser Moltke (during the Battle of the Gulf of Riga). E1 had sighted the four battlecruisers of the 1st Scouting Group. From the sounding of Seydlitz’s warning siren to the torpedo striking Moltke’s bow, was a mere six seconds. The stricken battle cruiser limped to Hamburg and onto Kiel for repairs In the confusion sewn by E1 and E9, even losses caused by Russian mines were attributed to them and the flow of iron ore from Sweden to Germany began to be effected. Czar personally awarded Laurence the order of St George for saving Riga.

On the 28th August 1915 both E18 and 19 (Lieutenant Commander Francis Cromie) were dispatched from Harwich to the Baltic. The two boats traveled first to Newcastle to ‘swing'[2] their compasses. But while in Newcastle E19 burnt out one of her main armatures. Finally on the 4th September at 16:30 following her repairs E19 left Newcastle bound for the Baltic. At one stage during the transit, E19 found herself only metres off E18’s stern and they decided not to enter together. The two submarines parted company and passed individually through the Øresund, between Denmark and Sweden, on the night of 8th & 9th September. During her passage E18 encountered two German destroyers and she dived into 23 feet (7 m) of water. For near three hours she fluctuated between crashing into the seabed and breaking the surface. But after several hours resting in deeper waters she surfaced in the morning, only to find herself under the guns of the cruiser Amazone. As the cruiser opened fire, E18 once again dived to the sea bed. The German cruiser and escorting destroyers began to criss cross over the E18, knowing that her batteries would soon be low on charge. But E18 sat it out, until finally the Germans left the area. After her escape she was set upon by a further two destroyers, one of which came close to ramming her. On 10 September Halahan sighted what he believed to be the German battlecruisers Lutzow and Seydlitz. Despite his best efforts he failed to achieve an attacking position. In fact his two battlecruisers were just two German destroyers, as the two capital where not in the area at this time. On 12 September 1915 E18 met up with both E19 and E9 off Dagerort, and arrived in Reval on the 13th. Halahan was to write that in his opinion entering the Baltic again by submarine should not be attempted unless absolutely necessary.
E19’s passage was to be the fifth and final passage through the Oresund into the Baltic Sea by a British Submarine during WW1.

On the 21st September E18 departed on her first Baltic patrol. The next day she was in position to torpedo the German cruiser Bremen, but the appearance of surfaced Russian submarine caused the Bremen to turn away, just as E18 was about to launch her torpedoes and the opportunity slipped her by. She returned from her first patrol on 29 September.

On the 1st October E8 unsuccessfully attacked off ​​Ustka, the obsolete German pre-dreadnought Odin. The single torpedo fired missed the intended target and It wasn’t to be until 5th October that E8 was to have her first success. On that day, she stopped a small German merchant ship Margarethe (about 400 GRT) outbound fron Konigsberg and having seen the crew safely in their boats, sank his victim with the submarines deck gun. On the 7th October E8 returned to port.

On 9th October E18 departed for her second patrol and on the 12 October worked herself into a position to launch an attack on the pre-dreadnought Braunschweig, whilst she was patrolling off Libau (now Liepāja, Latvia). Unfortunately E18’s bow torpedo tube bow caps refused to open, so she then tried with her beam tube. But the Braunschweig’s destroyer escort had spotted the intruder and forced her to dive. Finally E18 managed to fire a torpedo from her stern tube, but by this point the range was too great and the opportunity passed her by. E18 returned to Reval on 16 October at 1700.

At the same time E18 was out on her patrol E19, (Francis Cromie) was also prowling the Baltic on his first patrol. On the 3rd October the German merchant vessel, S.S Livonia/Sviona [4] (depending on your source) was shelled by E19. The merchant ships crew manage to beach the Livonia north of Sassnitz. Seven days later, between the 10th and 11th October, E19, was to go onto sink four ore ladened ships and damaged a fifth ship.

On the stormy morning of the 11 October E19 was patrolling the northern area of ​​the Baltic Sea, south of the Swedish island Öland. E19’s haul for the day started with the sighting of the German steamer Walther Leonhardt, loaded with iron ore from Sweden.The crew was ordered into the lifeboats and to approach the submarine. Having examined the ship papers, commander Cromie had the steamer sunk by an explosive charge placed in the hold. Once the ship had been abandoned E19 stopped a passing Swedish freighter and asked them to take the German crew on board.

Her next victim was the Germania, also carrying iron ore from Sweden. Having witnessed the earlier sinking, the 3000 ton Germania tried to escape. But E19 gave chase at full surface speed, 15 knots, while firing her the deck gun. After an hour, the steamer ran aground near the Swedish coast and the submarine crew boarded her. Attempts were made to tow her off, but finally a dynamite charge was used to try and destroy the ship, but it failed to sink her. The steamer was later to be salvaged and repaired.

With it yet to be midday, now came the turn of the Gutrune, south of Öland. The Gutrune was bound from Lulea tor Hamburg also carrying a cargo of iron ore. Cromie ordered the ship to hove to and dispatch a boarding party to inspect the ship papers. Once the Gutrune’s crew were safely in the lifeboat, the ship was sunk by opening the bottom valves and circulation pumps. The ship took her time to sink, but E19 had to hurry off towards another ship that had been sighted. This time it was a Swedish Nyland freighter headed for Holland, so she was allowed to pass unharmed.Later on in the 11th E19 sighted and ordered the SS Director Reppenhagen ore to hove too or to be torpedoed. Once the crew of were safely in the ships boats, the ship was sunk,by scuttling. The crew were transfered to a passing neutral ship.

E19’s next victim on the 11th at 17:30,was the Nicomedia with yet another cargo of ore from Sweden.After a short chase the German steamer stopped and a boarding party was sent over to inspect her papers. In the politeness of the time, the boarding party asked of their prizes captain, “Excuse me, sir, can we sink his ship?” During the inspection, invited the E-19 boarding party to a glass of beer (it was a different world and time then!) and sent a barrel of German beer over to the the submarine [5]. Having enjoyed the beer, the German crew took to the lifeboats and their ship was sunk south of Oland, Sweden, using charges.

The 11th October 1915, was to a day when E19 sank five ships without the use of one single torpedo and single human life [6].Between the 18th and 19th October 1915 E9 was to have a similar period if success as her sister, when she intercepted four German steamers. Each ship was hailed in international waters. After inspection a decision was made to sink her, the crew was given time to enter the lifeboats.

This was the first on the evening of 18 October. The Soederhamn carried a cargo of Swedish wood and despite setting off explosives in the engine room and having opened the bottom valves, this ship refused to sink. E-9 eventually gave up on the task, and the Soederhamn’s crew returned onboard. They managed to take the ship to the port of Oxelösund.

Also on the 18th E9 stopped and boarded the Pernambuco off Oxelösund. The vessel was quickly despatched to the bottom. Following the sinking of the Pernambuco, E9 spent an uneventful night in international waters but a new day brought her the collier Johannes Russ bound for Sundsvall in north Sweden, ( I can find no answer as to why E9 decided to sink a ship Swedish bound ship and carrying coal,from Germany. Unless it was because she was German but with a neutral cargo? Or my source had the information back to front?). She was once again stopped in international waters, and after inspection a decision was made to sink her. The crew was given time to launch the lifeboats. For some reason the Johannes Russ refused to sink, and was left to drift. The Swedish destroyer Wale now arrived on the scene, and took the German crew onboard. Having abandoned efforts to sink the collier, E9 moved onto her next victim. Having landed the German crew ashore, Wale returned back to sea and to the steamer Dalälfven that was under attack by E9. Dalälfven was outbound from Hamburg and was loaded with coal bound for Swedish port of Gävle. Horton ordered the Swedish warship to stay clear, as “We are on international water and I am going to sink this ship”. The Swedes obliged and following the earlier ‘difficulties’, and after arguing with the Wale’s captain, Horton decided to use one of his torpedoes for the sinking. The ship sank at 10:30 and the crew was rescued by the Wale and returned to land. At this stage the Johannes Russ was still afloat allowing Wale’s crew to take the ship under tow. A Swedish tugboat arrived and took over the tow, but following an explosion onboard the steamer started to sink fast. The tugboat had to cut the tow quickly to avoid being dragged down too.

On 18th October E8 (Goodhart) sailed from Reval on her second patrol in the area around Liepaja. The submarines circled around the area, deliberately not attacking any small units she encountered. Then on the 23rd October he found his bigger target. The now repaired Prinz Adalbert sailed into his search area and E8’s one torpedo struck the magazine and the cruiser exploded, sinking with the loss of 672 crew. As the result of this action Goodhart, was, on the 10th November, personally awarded the Holy Cross of St. George by Tsar Nicholas. In addition the successes of the British submarines was ecstatically received by the Russian public. In turn, the British Admiralty was to promote Goodhart to Commander on the 2nd January 1916, and on 2nd May 1916, he was honored with the DSO ( Distinguished Service Order ).

Following this loss all German heavy warships were withdrew from the Baltic, but the British flotilla continued to attack the Swedish iron ore trade. German trade in the Baltic, which had suffered since the arrival of the British flotilla, was almost completely choked off as cargo laden ships bound for Germany refused to leave Swedish ports while the British continued with their patrols. The Germans started to refer to the Baltic Sea as “Hortensee” or Horton Sea. As if to underline their achievements, E19 (Cromie) sank the German light cruiser Undine with two torpedoes south of the southern Swedish town of Trelleborg (54-59N, 13-51E) on 7th November.
E8 in November 1915 before the winter set in. This time the boat was to have a fruitless patrol as well as unlucky. E8 unsuccessfully attacked the cruiser Lubeck on the 6th and on the following day the John Sauber. Returning to Revel, at the entrance to the port she collided with the Russian submarine and he suffered damage, which meant a good few weeks in dock.

On the 9th November E18 departed for her third patrol with orders to patrol the Swedish trade routes. She returned to Reval on the 15 November having sighted nothing of significance and in the process missed the visit by the Tzar. 17th November saw all five E boats safely in port, with the Russian winter coming. In mid December both Horton and Laurence recalled home. They travelled via Sweden and Norway using fake passports, eventually reaching Newcastle. Lieutenant Commander Fenner was to replace Laurence in E1.

On the 30th November the E18 departed port on her fourth patrol, off Libau. She made her way through the German minefields by following the courses of ships coming and going. She returned from this patrol on 4 December having completed her last patrol for 1915. E18 may have completed her years patrols, but another German light cruiser, the Bremen, and the destroyer V191 were to attributed to the E9. But recent inspections of the wrecks show they were in fact lost to Russian mines. With the ice finally breaking in the spring of 1916, a new year of patrols dawned for the British flotilla. The new year saw a new livery for the boats, as they were painted bright red below the waterline and green with brown spots above.

On the 6th January 1916 E18 launched the new season with her fifth patrol, and with orders being to patrol the area between the Sound and Bornholm. Between the 6th and 7th the flotilla base made repeated efforts to recall her to port as the patrol had been cancelled, but she didn’t reply. On her return journey she encountered gale force winds and icy conditions to the point where she had difficulty closing her conning tower hatch, due to the build up of ice. She was unable to return to Reval and had to wait until the Finnish ice breaker Sampo could escort her back in to Reval on 13 January completely iced over. Following this experience, the British submarines accepted they were iced in and would not move again until April. E18 was did ready for sea on 13 February, but she was to remain in port. The 29th March E18 was the first of the British submarines to make a trip into the bay at Reval following that winters big freeze.

In 1916 the Germans introduced a convoy system, as the British always surfaced and warned merchant ships before attacking. The system worked and ore shipments were once again resumed to Germany. The British kept up their patrols, but the pickings were now becoming slim.

E18 resumed her 1916 patrols once the spring of 1916 arrived on what was to be her penultimate patrol. She sailed to the Gulf of Riga in company with E1 in company. They both departed Reval on 28 April to announce to the Germans aware the new season was underway. They made their presence felt in the Gulf by diving twice while the Russian destroyers shelled the beaches’ (I don’t understand that either but that’s a quote from the only source I found on this patrol). On the 1st May while returning to base through the Moon Sound E18 ran aground and had to be towed off. She returned to Reval on 2nd May and joined E1 tied up alongside the Russian battleship Slava.

In his diary, Francis Goodhart, commander of E8, writes that E1 and the Russian boat, Bars departed at 1400. E8, E18 and the Russian Gerpard left port together at 1800 on 25 May. On the 26th the two boats parted, then at 16:42, E18 torpedoed the German destroyer V100, blowing off her bow. Had it not been for the calm seas, it is likely the V100 would have sunk from the damage inflicted on her. But she was towed back to port with several of her crew killed, requiring major repairs.

In late May E1, E8,E18 and two Russian submarines departed Reval on patrol. On the 24 May contact was list with E 18 lost. On the 24th or sometime after, E18 was lost off Bornholm in the south. Her demise was by German decoy or ‘K’ship. The German decoy ship Kronprinz Wilhelm (known as Schiff K) did attack two submarines during E18’s patrol in May. She rammed the Russian Gerpard and the following day opened fire on the Russian boat Bars in Hano Bay, the Germans thought they had sunk both submarines, but E18 was not in the area of these actions. E18 was last sighted on the 1 June at 15:00 sailing north by the German U-boat UB30 northwest of Steinort.

E8 ‘s patrol was to be uneventful, and she returned to Reval on the 31st. As the days passed E18 failed to return and by 5 June Goodhart recorded that the crews were “very worried”. On the 6th, he noted that he had “Heard from Essen that their W.T. had vaguely indicated presence of a submarine off Redshoff”on Tuesday. Very slender hope…” However by the next day, 8 June, he wrote that E18 had sailed with only 15 days food and that the situation was “very hopeless now, I fear. No news whatsoever” On the 9 June E8’s officers began the sad task of collecting the belongings of E18’s Halahan, Landale and Colson from their cabins. Goodhart learnt that Halahan had been told by a local woman prior to E18’s last patrol that he was in grave danger. This deeply affected the superstitious Halahan who then asked the wife of the British Vice Consul in Reval to send a wire to his family before they got the official Navy telegram, in case something happened to him. She followed his wishes when Halahan failed to return.

Tsar Nicholas sent a telegram of condolences on the loss of E18, and awarded Halahan the Order of St. George, with the other two officers receiving the Order of St. Vladimir and each of the crew being posthumously awarded a medal, (these Orders were not normally awarded posthumously). Three of E18’s crew had not sailed on her last mission. Jeremiah Ryan had measles and later was transferred to E19. Albert Phillips, was to miss her patrol for unknown reasons and E18’s signalman Albert Edward Robinson was replaced on this mission by E8’s telegraphist George Gaby. Robinson was sent home in January 1917 and joined E4 on her recommissioning. Both Ryan and Phillips went home in January 1918. The ‘official’ papers on subject of E18, state her loss as 11 June 1916 , and the crews papers record their being ‘lost at sea’. The reason is simply that the navy had no idea when and where E18 was lost at the time and the date recorded was purely for administration purposes to close the books on E18. It’s now reasoned that on her return journey in late May or early June E18 she was lost with all hands in a German minefield, perhaps west of the island of Osel. In October 2009, the wreck of E18 was discovered by a ROV launched from the Swedish survey vessel MV Triad. The position of the wreck lies off the coast of Hiiumaa, Estonia and the photographs taken of the wreck show the submarine with its hatch open, suggesting that it struck a mine while sailing on the surface. But however or when ever the submarine was lost, it was the flotilla’s first loss.

The Anglo-Russian ‘honeymoon’ was coming to an end, and the perceptions from each side of their allies was undergoing a slow change. Cromie was to write to his superior officers (Commodore Hall and Admiral Phillimore);
Dear Commodore Hall
We are in full swing once more, but oh, the begging and ‘weeping’ I have had to get the (Russian) staff to move, and the lies they kept putting me off with, with what idea I never discovered. Now I am doing my best to persuade them to keep at least two boats always at sea in two positions, having direct offensive bearings on any naval movement against Riga, viz. Libau and Steinort. I reconnoitred these positions last trip and located swept channels, patrols and courses used, and went right up to Libau, counting five cruisers inside, but they never stirred out. E9 reconnoitred the patrols and route west of Gotland, north and south of Bornholm. At present E8 is off Libau and Steinort looking for mines’ but we have a German report of a TBD damaged by a torpedo, so we have great hopes that it is (?good). Another report is É18 on the patrolled transport route off Memel. E1 is Pomeranian. Yershoff, Lieutenant with th Russian boats, is on the Swedish trade route, doing wel, but now we have news that the Germans are arming all merchantmen with masked guns, and have a white ring to hoist around the funnel, and canvas painted in Swedish colours to put over the side – and this from a German skipper.
And in another communication with home;
‘….As things are I have the whole responsibility with none of the rights of independent command….. One of these days I will fall between some of the stools if I have no real standing.
If you will consider that we have more officers, men, boats and importance than the Rosario in peacetime, and are far more distant as far as correspondence and stores are concerned, you will realise that my suggestion not one of self-aggrandisement or of a distaste for serving under the Maidstone, but one for the interests of the service. So many things could be dealt with on the spot if we had our own books. Now that we have six crews out here there is more for me to do than you would at first think, and if I had not a trusty 2nd Officer, and had to oversee every job in the boat myself,I don’t know how I should manage. Things are somewhat different now to when there were two boats under the personal orders of Admiral Essen. I like and admire our Commodore, Podgourski, but even he cannot always persuade the C-in-C from doing useless stunts with the boats.
At the present moment the men have a not unwarrantable grievance in the of pay and clothing. I consider it necessary that the men be at least allowed to draw the whole amount of pay due to them, and I beg of you to consider the matter (once more) of extra pay. It really is serious-the men work in rags, and I have been into the matter very carefully and I cannot in justice make them work in better clothes. I have obtained a grant (on paper) of white duck from the Russian government, but they have not yet been able to obtain it. Serge and flannel cannot be bought at any price, so in desperation the men work in thin cotton overalls which I obtained gratis to cover the nakedness of the land. Serge or flannel ordered through the Russian government last July has not yet arrived. This great pinch has only been felt since the mail stopped last Xmas. The PMG informs me that parcels have been sent regularly in accordance with Admiralty instructions, but we have only had one lot via Canada since Xmas
The officers are in much the same way, with the addition of the expense of warm clothing and entertaining. Our winter trip cost 900 roubles in entertaining, over and above personal expenses…’.

The conditions or relations between the Russian Officers and lower ranks was always of a chasm in scale. But the effects of this impacted upon the British Flotilla. An example is of Ben Benson, E19’s leading telegraphist. Benson served as an unofficial secretary and valet to the flotillas senior officer, Cromie. One of aa his duties was to report to the Russian with details of what was bring said in the British media on Cromie’s behalf. On the day in question he boarded the admiral’s yacht only to face the said admiral coming the other way. Benson fired off a crisp and smart salute, but the Admiral, pausing did not return it. Instead, for no known reason, he spat full into Benson face, and then carried on his way ashore.

Benson and Cromie were two men who could communicate, and the events were relayed back to Cromie on Bens return. Cromie was not an officer to see his personal treated so badly and stormed off to see the Admiral. An apology was demanded of the Admiral and it was only forthcoming when Cromie threatened to take the matter over his head. The Admiral duly apologized to Benson both of whom must have found it a unique and novel experience.

In August 1916 the flotilla stood in the following condition: E1 (cdr Athelstan A.L. Fenner), E8 (Cdr Francis H.H. Goodhart, DSO), E9 (Lcdr Hubert Vaughan Jones), E19 (Cdr F.N.H. Cromie, DSO (& Cdr SM)), C26 (Lt Eric B. Todd), C27 (Lt Douglas Sealy), C32 (Lt Christopher P. Satow), C35 (Lt Edward G. Stanley). At the end of 1916 there was a change in E8’s captain and first officer. Stanowsku had on the 23 December been replaced the existing lieutenant Thomas Kerr. In addition Goodhart returned to Great Britain via Finland, Sweden and Norway, where he received a new command. He was killed shortly with the loss of his entire crew in a class K boat [8].

Four C boats were chosen for the transfer to the Baltic, C26 (Lt Eric B. Todd), C27 (Lt Douglas Sealy), C32 (Lt Christopher P. Satow), C35 (Lt Edward G. Stanley). The C class were obsolete, had only two torpedo tubes and only a single engine, but their size and design made them the only practice choice for the 4000 mile journey that lay ahead. The increased patrols by the German navy meant transferring on the same route as the E boats was no longer safe or possible. So on the 3rd August with hydroplanes, periscope and all external fittings removed, they were taken under tow from Chatham to Lerwick in the Shetlands. Secrecy was all and even the Admiral in command of Lerwick knew nothing of their arrival. But as the way with so many bureaucracies, the crates containing all their removed items were clearly labelled ‘Archangel’.

From Lerwick the tow continued around the North Cape and onto Archangel. Three of the unmanned boats broke free of their tows on route in the stormy seas. The recovery of one at least was perilous. Able seaman Steel of C27 leapt from the deck of the tug towing the boat onto C27’s heaving decking to and secure a tow rope. But on 21st August the four C boats were towed into the port of Archangel. The easy part of their journey was complete! Whilst the reinforcements were towed north life went on in the Baltic.On the same date the C class boats made landfall, E19 departed Reval on a reconnaissance patrol. Whilst all this was happening in the north, Cromie remained in ignorance of the proceedings. He was to write to Commodore Hall on 9 August:
Hayward arrived this morning and delivered your note. I had heard rumours re. C boats, but was surprised to know definitely. I think it would be a good thing if you could give me some definite news as to dates of arrival so as to arrange now for the quick assembly of parts. I presume you will send an engineer to oversee the job, as I have not a very high opinion of the native lent on any job new to him, although very excellent when he knows the work in hand’.
The lack of communication information was embarrassing for not just Cromie but for Admiral Hillimore, at the Russian Imperial Head quarters. No one had thought to tell him that the submarines were on route . Phillimore had even told the Tsar that the boats had yet to depart from Great Britain.

Compared to the usual chaos within the Imperial navy, the four C boats planned transfer from Archangel to Petrograd by Captain Roschakoffsky was the model of good planning. The boats 270 ton deadweight were secured to individual barges, which were in turned secured for towing to the paddle steamer Sealnia. The first to depart were the C26 and C27 at 22:00 on the 22nd August. On each barge was mounted a hut, and accompanying each barge were ten carpenters, all Russian solders and four British coxswain’s. C32 and C35 followed the following morning. The first leg of the journey was down the river Divina to Kotlas, then onto to Ustchuk. From here their route lay down the river Sukhona, where a shallow drafted paddle steamer, with a highly skilled skipper awaited them. At Opoke the river has a sharp bend and strong currents. By the 1st September the small flotilla had reached Lake Lubensloe, from where they entered the lock on the Wurtemburg canal. Over twelve locks awaited them before they reached the river Sheksna at Toporna. At Toporna thousands of Austrian p.o.ws laboured to construct new locks. At this point C35’s barge developed a leak after a collision with one of the lock gates. Captain Roschakoffsky drained the lock and used it as a dry dock to repair the barges damage. Next in the marathon was the Novo-Mariinsi canal with circumvents Lake Bailoe. A number of succeeding canals took the barges through the Lake Onega and Lagoda regions. Finally on the 37th day out (9th September)of England the flotilla reached the river Neva, which flows into St Peterburg and the Baltic. But further difficulties became apparent within days of their arrival. Difficulties with their batteries would not see them fully operations until 1917.
With the C boats securely at the Petrograd Baltic Works. the crates containing the batteries for the boats which had been transported separately were all found to be damaged. He was to write to his superiors back in Britain;
‘Dear Commodore Hall
You will have heard all about the mess up of the C batteries. It seems incredible anyone would pack heavy plates into containers for transport’.

There are two accounts as to cause of the batteries problems. The most quoted is that the ship carrying the batteries was torpedoed whilst on route and sunk. The less common is the crates were damaged on route. Which ever the case, new ones had to ordered and shipped from Britain.

The engine room personal were familiar with swapping parts between boats but the first C boat, C35 did not leave Petrograd for Reval until the 18th October, and even then she was minus one battery. As December and the ice drew closer the boats needed to be moved to Reval or face bring iced in through the long winter months. C27 was towed to the port, still minus her batteries. In the meanwhile the Czar sent a message of thanks for all that had been so far achieved.

But life would be to easy for poor Cromie if batteries were his only problem. With no or little advanced warning of boats and their 152 crew members, berthing more personal on the already crowd Dvina [7] would be a true nightmare. Admiral Phillimore turned to the unwilling Russians for help with accommodating the C boats crews.

1917
In May 1917 the flotilla was to loose one if its best officers, Cromie. Together with his knowledge of the Russian language and prevailing conditions, he was appointed in May 1917 naval attaché to the British Embassy in the city of Petrograd (Saint Petersburg).

In September and October of 1917 the Germans undertook an offensive operation in the Gulf of Riga entitled Operation Albion. On the 16th October C27 fired two torpedoes at the dreadnought SMS Konig but they run to deep and pass under the hull. The second salvo hit and damaged the mine-sweeping div lll depot ship, Indianola. The Germans launched a counter attack and sent C27 limping back to Hango. C26 tried to attack a strong German force south of Moon Sound but she grounded in 20ft water.before she could even fire. She was unable to move submerged so was forced to surface. The enemies destroyers on spotting the surfaced submarine speed towards her, as C26 sped away. The race was won by the Royal Navy C26 finally submerged into deeper water and dived. Not be thwarted the submarine tried for a second attack. But her periscope was spotted and once more the destroyers close in. At that moment C26 hydroplane jam and the crew flooded the tanks and dropped to 20ft. But the Germans were making use of a new weapon, depth charges. C26 crawled away.and on.surfacing limped to Pernau. Cromie despatched ERA’s and stokers from Reval to aid in the urgent repairs. While testing the completed repairs outside the harbour a petrol fire broke out in the engine room. The crew had to go onto decking and close all the hatches to starve the fire of oxygen. With no time to grab warm clothing the crew froze on deck whist waiting for the fire to die out. With winter closing in, C27 limped the 120 miles to Hango and then onto Helsinki where flotilla had removed itself to, following the deteriorating state with Russia. As the submarine limped along, she leaked like a sieve on route and only worked with a collection of ad-hoc repairs. The boats pump was worked by a wooden pully device!

On the 14th October C32 (Satow) sailed from Riga without her Russian liaison officer, (who was sick), onboard. The Russian’s failed to issue the departing C boat a call sign as such an item had to be held by a Russian officer and not a mere Russian wireless-man. Tracings of certain minefields were also not issued to Satow either. At 10:30 on the 20th, the 6th day of her patrol, lieutenant kershaw at the periscope spotted a ship off to the west. It was identified as a large transport with a three trawler escort, one half mile ahead and two on either quarter. The German lookout fail to spot the attack until 11:15 when the second torpedo was 600yards off. The first torpedo passed under the targets bow, but the second struck home. C32 then dived to 62 feet and was depth charge by the trawlers. The second depth charged shattered the light over the compass and the conning tower started to leak.

At 16:00 C32’s lookouts sighted Rumo island but once again the compass light went out as the sea water in the boats electric ‘s kept tripping the fuses. At 18:00 C32 dropped down to sit on the seabed to await dark. But even once dark, she still couldn’t make port through the treacherous waters with no compass and with only two days of food left on board. In addition with no call sign she had been out of communication since leaving port.

At 05:30 C32 sighted the Vaist bay, and by 07:30 she was 300 yards of shore. The crew constructed rafts from lockers and the boats woodwork in order to reach the shore. Once they were ashore, Russian troops informed their British guests that Pernau was still in Russian hands. The crew had planned destruction of C32 but this was now delayed. The Cossacks looked after crew in a local farm and Satow rode off on a borrowed horse, with a cossack. officer in company, to find a tug.

At 02:00 the tug arrived and Satow ordered all tanks to be blown. A tow rope was attached between sub and tug, but it parted twice as the tug took up the slack to quick. Even with engines and tug, C32 remained fast. At 16:00 with danger from German naval patrols in the area 16lb of explosives were used to destroy the submarine.On the 28th, E18 was sighted by a German aircraft off Memel (now Klaipėda, Lithuania),

November 1917 was to witness revolution tear Russia apart. The British were spectators as the countries institutions failed all around them. Revolutionary parties of Russians would circle the flotillas boats calling on the seamen to join them. At times Russian fleet would train its guns on submarines…….Soon after the up upheavals on the 6th November Revel was judged, even with the Russian fleet having left port, as no longer safe for the British.
In December1917 with Russia and Germany negotiating the Brest-Litovsk peace treaty and with no hope of leaving the Baltic, the surviving British submarines sailed for Helsingfors (Helsinki) in Finland.

1918
In April 1918, after the Germans had secured control over much of the Baltic coast, Cromie was made responsible for the evacuation and scuttling of the British Baltic submarines. Unfortunately with the German intervention in the Finnish Civil War and the landing of a 10,000 strong German Division in Hanko the flotilla was once more no longer safe. The flotilla received the signal ‘Landing taking place at Hanko from three large transports. Make every effort to get tugs, seizing them if necessary, and proceed with destruction’.
It was decided the time had arrived to scuttle the eight remaining boats and the three support ships, Cicero, Emilie and Obsidian, outside Helsinki harbour. Fears of damaging the harbour saw the destruction delayed twenty-four hours while a tug was located. Efforts were made to find a tug, but with no success. The next day, the 3rd April 1918, the tug Zevtra was to arrive and she broke ice round surrounding the submarines. At 13:15 E1 was removed by the Zevtra, pulling her astern. E8, E9 and E19 with Russian officers in charge followed the Zevtra to a distance of 1.5 nautical miles south of the Harmaja Light in the Gulf of Finland, near Helsinki. E1 and E9 were then secured together, as were E8 and E9. Scuttling charges were set and all bar E8’s detonated, scuttling the three boats. A second attempt was made with E8’s charge but still with no success.

On the 4 April at 7:00 it was C26 and C35’s turn to be towed out by the Zevtra. C27 was retained in case she was needed for the crews escape. C26 was secured to E8, and an examination showed no obvious reason for yesterday’s charge to not detonate. This time both scuttling charges detonated, and the boats sank. But when it was C35’a turn, her charge refused to go off. On shore in the meanwhile a work party set too destroying the forty torpedoes, using acid and sledge hammers. The next day C27 was sunk using charges. The crews of the scuttled submarines were then evacuated by Soviet ships to Petrograd and then overland by rail to Murmansk. There they were to join with the Allied intervention forces in North Russia, only weeks before hostilities cut railway lines to Murmansk. Captain Cromie [8] however stayed behind in Russia and travelled overland to the British embassy in Moscow to take up the position of naval attache.
In August 1918 the authorities in Moscow claimed to have received a report suggesting there was a connection to be found between the various counter revolutionary organizations in the British government and the embassy in Petrograd, The Bolshevik-government commissioner M. Hillier was instructed to investigate this report. It was believed that the anti-Bolshevik counter revolutionists Boris Savinkov and Maximilian Filonenko, who had contacts within the British Secret Intelligence Service, were being hidden within the British embassy. Other accounts and sources, suggested that there were meetings with other Russian members of the counter revolution at that time taking place, namely with the former imperial Tsarist officers Lieutenant Sabir and Colonel Steckelmann.

On 31 August 1918, Commissioner Hillier and a detachment from the Cheka, (the Bolsheviks secret police), broke into the British embassy in Petrograd. They moved through the building shouting in Russian and crashing doors, which echoed up from the embassy ground floor to where staff were working. Captain Cromie glanced out from his office first floor window, and noticed the trucks and on the river Neva, river patrol boats facing the embassy building with their weapons trained. Clearly expecting trouble, he pulled out his revolver, and leaving a meeting with three operatives in his office, had gone out into the first floor hallway passage. A conflicting accounts state that Captain Cromie was having tea with the British Chaplain, Mr. Lombard, and he had stepped out of the room for a moment. Some of the Cheka were now making their way up onto the embassy first floor. Panic and protests broke out, along with gunfire. One Cheka was killed and another wounded. According to the Russian report of events, a fight had broken out in the corridor and the Cheka scouts were obliged to return gunfire. During the embassy shootout, naval attaché Captain Cromie, received a fatal gunshot or gunshots, and eventually died where he fell, on the grand embassy staircase. The Cheka continued to search the embassy building, and with their rifle butts stopped the embassy staff from getting close to the body of Captain Cromie, which the Cheka’s had looted and trampled. The police were next to enter the British embassy, and forty embassy personnel were arrested, mostly British subjects, including Prince Schaschowsky. It was alleged that weapons and compromising documents were to be found on the embassy premises. The British Foreign Office claims that Captain Cromie opposed the Bolsheviks and killed three of the Cheka with his own hand’s.
On 3 September the American Consul Haynes (the first American Consul of career) in Helsinki, officially reported the murder of Captain Cromie and the attack on the British embassy to the United States Department of State, and that the entire British embassy personnel in Petrograd had been arrested. Similar arrests had simultaneously taken place in Moscow.

The embassy attack and killing of naval attaché Captain Cromie were to be reported with intense indignation by the British news media. The British media outrage claimed that the Bolsheviks “lawlessness” acts committed against British subjects and the murder of Captain Cromie, prompting reprisals. In London, the Bolshevik representatives Maxim Litvinov and his staff had been placed by the British government “under preventive arrest” and taken to Brixton Prison “until all British representatives in Bolshevik Russia had been set at liberty and allowed to proceed to the Finnish border unmolested”. Following these tragic events, the British embassy was shutdown, and the embassy staff were withdrawn from service in Petrograd.

Amongst the officers who had served in the Baltic flotilla were the future Admirals and commanders of the British Submarine Service, Sir Noel Laurence and Sir Max Horton and Vice Admiral Leslie Ashmore. Admiral Aksel Berg also served as Liaison Officer from the Imperial Russian Navy, before going on to become the Deputy Minister of Defence for the Soviet Union (1953–57).

The Finns were to raise some parts of the scuttled British submarines before World War II but didn’t consider any of the submarines to be worth repairing. In August 1953, E8, 9 C26, 27 C35 was salvaged for breaking up in Finland, by the German company Beckedorf Gebryder and used as scrap metal. The wreck of the Cicero is believed to have been located in 1995.

For further works by Andy South, Check out his article on the German dreadnoughts Bayern and Baden.

 

NOTES

[1] The Victoria Luise survived the war to be sold for use as a merchant ship, and renamed the Flora Sommerfeld, surviving until 1923.
[2] ‘Deviation is the problem of compass error due to structure of the vessel, proximity of metal objects, magnetic fields or electrical equipment. It may be influenced by loading cargo (e.g. canned fruit) or having repair work done (new metal parts or electronics). Deviation also varies with the ship’s head (way it is pointing) as this changes the position of the magnetic fields in the boat relative to the earth’s magnetic field as well as it’s relationship with interfering objects onboard.
Individual vessels have individual deviation cards that show the adjustment required for changes in position of the vessel’s head. The process used to produce a deviation card is called ‘swinging the compass’. There are several methods for doing this but in general terms the procedure is as follows:
The vessel is anchored securely in midstream
A transit line of known bearing (magnetic bearing from the chart) is established
The vessel moves through each of eight compass bearings (cardinal and inter-cardinal points)
For each of the eight points the bearing of the transit line is taken and any discrepancy between this compass bearing and the known chart bearing is noted. If the compass bearing is greater the deviation is west, if less the deviation is east’. (http://cruising.coastalboating.net/Seamanship/Compass/swinging.html)
[3] E18 entered service in the UK in 1915, commanded by Lieutenant-Commander R.C. Halahan. Her first deployment was to join HMS Maidstone on 25 June 1915 and to undertake North Sea patrols with the 8th Flotilla at Harwich. On her only patrol prior to leaving for the Baltic E18 sailed from Yarmouth with D7 and E13 on 9 July 1915. On the 14th off the mouth of the Ems, deep inside enemy waters, E18 surfaced as Halahan preferred to make use of sea rather to using the onboard toilet arrangements. Whilst in this delicate situation a Zeppelin appeared and E18 crash dived but was still easily visible from the air. E18 was then straddled by 12 bombs all of which caused no damage other than some embarrassment to Halahan’s predicament!. The little detail of E18 being on the surface was overlooked when Halahan wrote his patrol report. Instead he stated his boat was submerged at 20 ft, and an inquiry into submarine visibility from the air led E18 being painted in a new camouflage scheme. Oddly there is no German claim of an attack on a submarine by a Zeppelins on that day in that area. Also in proximity to E13 were the zeppelins L4, L6 and L7, none of which sighted a submarine let alone attacked by one. L6 was the closest to E18’s position when a Zeppelin was sighted but she moved off westward when explosions occurred. German minesweepers were exploding mines during the time of the alleged attack which could explain what the crew of E18 heard while submerged.
[4]Livonia/Sviona was to be damaged by fire during the salvage operations and in 1920 was broken up in situ.
[5] A beer, Slottskällans Vrak, has been brewed using yeast recovered from beer bottles found on the wreck of SS Nicomedia!
[6] Whilst the ships are dates are correct, subject to sources, I can only speculate at the order E19 was to find her victims on that day.
[7] In 1906, during the First Russian Revolution, the crew of the cruiser mutinied while near Reval. The ship subsequently was placed in reserve. In 1909 she was converted into a torpedo boat depot ship and renamed Dvina. (Wikipedia).

The ship was sunk by the British torpedo boat CMB79 in Kronstadt Harbour on 18 August 1919. The wreck was raised and scrapped.
NIKE Swedish ship carrying ore to Germany. Ore 11.10.15. Boarding party send her to reval for inspection. Russians hand her back to Sweden
[8] K23 sank in Gareloch, Argyll, Scotland, on 29 January 1917 just after noon, having signalled to HMS E50 that she was about to dive. She had 80 people on board – 53 crew, 14 employees of the shipbuilders, five sub-contractors, five Admiralty officials, a River Clyde pilot, and the captain and engineering officer from the still-completing K14.

As she dived, seawater entered her engine room through openings which failed to close properly and flooded it along with the after torpedo room. As the submarine sank, a 10-ton ballast weight was dropped, but this did not arrest the descent. Two men were seen on the surface by a maid in a hotel a mile or so away, but her report was ignored. The crew of E50 became concerned when the submarine did not surface again, and found traces of oil on the surface.

The first rescue vessel, Gossamer, arrived at around 22:00 and divers were sent down at daybreak. The divers were delayed, since Gossamer had a diver but no suit, and the first diver to attempt to contact the submarine had a damaged suit which nearly flooded.

Morse code signals were exchanged between them and the trapped crew of the submarine. Despite the lack of proper escape apparatus, the captain, Lieutenant-Commander Godfrey Herbert, and the captain of K14, Commander Goodhart, attempted an escape to the surface by using the space between the inner and outer hatches of the conning tower as an airlock.Herbert reached the surface alive, but Goodhart’s body was later found trapped in the superstructure.

Later that afternoon an airline was connected, which allowed the ballast tanks to be blown and with the aid of a hawser, and by midday on 21 January the bows had been brought to just above the surface and supported by a barge on each side. A hole was cut through her pressure hull, and at 22:00 the final survivor was rescued from the submarine, 57 hours after the accident. 32 crew died in the accident and 48 were rescued. 31 were expected to be still on the submarine, but only 29 were found, and it was concluded that the maid had indeed seen two people escaping from the engine room. One of their bodies was recovered from the Clyde two months later.

At 6 p.m. the following day, K13 tore the bollards out of the barges and sank again, flooding through the hole. The submarine was finally salvaged on 15 March, repaired and recommissioned as HMS K22.

The court of enquiry found that four of the 37 inch (940 mm) diameter ventilators had been left open during the dive, and that indicator lights in the control room had actually showed them as open. The engine room hatch was also found to be open.

Class sister HMS K5 was lost with all hands in January 1921, also due to problems with the air intakes that ventilate the boiler rooms.

The war graves and a monument to those who lost their lives in the K13 sinking was erected by the ship’s company, of the submarine depot at Fort Blockhouse, Gosport. It is to be found at the entrance to Faslane Cemetery, at the head of the Gare Loch. (Cut and paste direct from Wikipedia)
[9] By the time of his death Cromie’s service in the Baltic had seen him earn a collection of awards. On 31 May 1916 he received the British Empire Distinguished Service Order (DSO), followed by a succession of imperial Russian orders; Order of St. Anna (2nd Class with Swords), Order of St. Vladimir (4th Class with Swords), Order of St. George (4th Class), as well as the French National Order of the Legion of Honour (Chevalier).Shortly after, he was promoted to the British Royal Navy rank of Commander.
BALTIC FLOTILLA 1914-1918 BIBLIOGRAPHY.

Wikipedia
Naval-historic.net
rmg.co.uk
Iwm.com
Wrecksite.eu
Worldlibrary.net
enacademic.com
hmse18.org
kenthistoryforum.co.uk
Historyofwar.org
Sms-navy.org
navypedia.org
german-navy.de
1914-1918.invisionzone.com
A history of Russian and Soviet Naval History by Mitchell.
British Vessels lost at sea 1924-1918
BRITISH WARSHIPS, 1914-1919 by Dit

Andyuk123
Andyuk123

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