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E11's Exemplary Service

E11 had a standard fit of two 18-inch torpedo tubes in the bows, two tubes on the beam and one in the stern. She also carried one deck gun - a 12-pounder similar to the 3-inch which was fitted aboard the small submarines of World War 2. E11 had three officers and 28 men.

The launch of E11 in 1914
The launch of E11 in 1914

HMS E11 commanded by Lieut Commander M E Dunbar Nasmith, a brilliant officer inventive and daring but never foolhardy achieved a remarkable distinction in the Sea of Marmora. It is said of Dunbar Nasmith that he never believed in wasting his precious torpedoes and that on one occasion when he had fired and missed he surfaced his boat, swam out to the errant torpedo, made it safe and attached a line so that it could be drawn back and reloaded through the stern tube.

HMS E11 was one of the most successful submarines in action during the 1915 Dardanelles Campaign against Turkey, sinking more than 80 vessels of all sizes in three tours of the Sea of Marmara.

E11, commanded by Nasmith passed through the Dardanelles on the night of 18 May. Surfacing off the town of Gallipoli, Nasmith captured a Turkish sailing vessel and lashed it to the conning tower to act as a disguise. This ruse failed to attract any targets, so after several days he abandoned it.

Travelling up the Sea of Marmara, he sank a gunboat and several other small craft on 23 May. The following day two Turkish transport ships were sunk and another driven aground.

Two days later a torpedo struck the transport ship Stamboul and E11 dived to escape from shore-based artillery. This had been the first attack at Constantinople by an enemy vessel in more than 100 years. The E11 attack caused a major panic in the city.

Lieutenant Commander Martin Eric Nasmith VC
Lieutenant Commander Martin Eric Nasmith VC

E11 returned to the Bosphorus approaches on 27 May and continued to sink more ships but was running low on torpedoes and had mechanical problems. The boat headed for home on June 5, using the last pair of torpedoes to sink a transport ship on the return passage through the Dardanelles.

Passing through narrows near Canakkale, E11 snagged a moored mine and dragged it for five miles until clear of the Turkish shore batteries. Then E11 surfaced stern first and "encouraged" the mine to float clear.

On the submarine's first tour in the Dardanelles it had sunk or disabled 11 ships. Nasmith was awarded the Victoria Cross, the third submarine commander to receive the award during the Dardanelles Campaign.

On August 8, during a second tour, E11 torpedoed the antiquated Turkish battleship Hirredin Barbarosa off Bulair at the northern entrance to the Dardanelles.

Reaching Constantinople again, E11 sank a Black Sea collier as it was preparing to unload, a significant blow as coal was a key fuel source. The boat moved into the Gulf of Izmir and on the night of August 20th, the submarine's first officer, Lt Guy D'Oyly-Hughes, swam ashore and blew up a section of the Constantinople to Baghdad railway line, a feat for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.

E11 made a total of three tours of the Sea of Marmara and sank in 27 steamers and 58 smaller vessels.


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Suggest reading the book "Dardanelles Patrol" by Peter Shankland and Anthony Hunter (1964, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. OCLC 6420053) for a detailed account of the E11 first patrol in the Sea of Marmara.
   I-) Wed, 19 Jan 2022

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