Home - Crew - VC Winners - Lt Cdr Martin Eric Nasmith

Lieutenant Commander Martin Eric Nasmith

Martin Nasmith was born on 1st Apr 1883 at East Barnes, Surrey. At the time of the 1891 Census eight year old Eric Nasmith was reported to be a student at a boarding school at Pixholen Lane, Dorking, Surrey. He was later educated at the Eastman's Royal Navy Academy in Winchester and then joined the Royal Navy as a Cadet at HMS Britannia in Dartmouth on 15th May 1898.

He was promoted to Midshipman on 15th Feb 1900 and at the time of the 1901 Census he was listed as a Midshipman serving in the 12,350 ton Twin Screw Battle Ship HMS Renown – the Flag Ship on the North America and West Indies Station.

He was promoted to Sub Lieutenant on 15th Feb 1903. He achieved three 'Firsts' in his Sub Lieutenants Examinations. Sub Lieutenant Martin Nasmith was appointed to the Submarine Depot Ship HMS Thames 'for Submarine Training' on 4th July 1904. On 1st July 1905 (having been promoted Lieutenant on 15th May 1905) he was re-appointed to the Submarine Depot Ship HMS Thames 'for Command of Submarine A4'.

He was transferred to the Submarine Depot Ship HMS Mercury later when that ship took over as the Depot Ship for the 'Portsmouth Flotilla'. His next appointment was to the Submarine Depot Ship HMS Bonaventure at Haulbowline in Ireland in May 1907 'for Submarine C7 in Command'.

He then returned to the Surface Fleet for his 'Big Ship' time with an appointment to the Battleship 17,250 ton Battle Cruiser HMS Indomitable on 1st November 1908. This lasted until 24th November 1911 and Martin Nasmith was then appointed to the Submarine Depot Ship HMS Mercury (Submarine Section IV) on 25th November 1910 'for Submarines'. This was only a short appointment and, on 14th Jan 1911 he was appointed to the Submarine Depot Ship HMS Bonaventure 'for Submarine C18 in Command'.

At the time of the 1911 Census which was conducted on Sunday 2nd April 1911 he was listed as a Lieutenant on Board HMS Bonaventure at Portsmouth.

On 15th September 1911 he was appointed to the Submarine Depot Ship HMS Arrogant (Submarine Page 7 of 12 Section V) at Portsmouth for 'Submarine D4 in Command'. In May 1912 King George V and Prince Albert were both on board for a dived 'run' in Submarine D4.

By 15th August 1912 he had been appointed to the Submarine Depot Ship HMS Arrogant (4th Submarine Flotilla) at Portsmouth and was noted 'for Submarines, for duty with Commodore (S) and for Instructional and Drafting duties'.

He was further appointed to HMS Arrogant 'in Command' on 31st August 1912. Promotion to Lieutenant Commander followed on 15th May 1913.

Martin Nasmith's next appointment was to the Submarine Depot Ship HMS Maidstone (8th Submarine Flotilla) at Harwich 'for Submarine E11 in Command' on 3rd August 1914. After service in the North Sea - including an unsuccessful attempt to enter the Baltic in late 1914 - Submarine E11 was sent to the Dardanelles. Submarine E11 left Harwich, in company with Submarines E14 and E15, on 27th March 1915.

E11 crew
E11 crew

Submarine E11 reached the Fleet Base at Mudros Harbour on the Greek Island of Lemnos on 18th Apr 1915 after a short stop at Gibraltar and a slightly longer stop at Malta for repairs to a stiff clutch and a shorted armature on a main motor. Submarine E11 made three patrols in the Marmora - first forcing the Dardanelles on 19th May 1915. This first patrol lasted until 7th June 1915. The other two patrols took place from 5th August 1915 to 2nd September 1915 and from 11th November 1915 to 23rd Dec 1915. By this time Submarine E11 had spent a total of 96 days in the Sea of Marmora.

For his efforts at the Dardanelles/Sea of Marmora Nasmith was awarded the Victoria Cross - see London Gazette of 24th June 1915.

The King has been graciously pleased to approve of the grant of the Victoria Cross to Lieutenant Commander Martin Eric Nasmith, Royal Navy for the conspicuous act of bravery as specified below.

For most conspicuous bravery in command of one of His Majesty's Submarines (HMS E11) while operating in the Sea of Marmara. In the face of great danger he succeeded in destroying one large Turkish gunboat, two transports, one ammunition ship and three store-ships, in addition to driving one store-ship ashore. When he had safely passed the most difficult part of his homeward journey he returned again to torpedo a Turkish transport.

His Officers were awarded the DSC and all the Ratings who were on board for the first patrol the DSM. Martin Nasmith was also promoted early to Commander for his efforts in the Dardanelles.

He was next appointed to the Submariner Depot Ship HMS Titania (11th Submarine Flotilla) at Blyth for 'Submarine J4 in Command' to date 1st April 1916 and he was further promoted to Captain on 30th June 1916.

In March 1917 he was appointed to the Submarine Depot Ship HMS Ambrose 'in Command' and 'in Command of Submarine Flotilla' based, firstly, at Queenstown and later, at Berehaven in Southern Ireland. This Flotilla consisted of Submarines D3, D7, D8, E32, E54 and H5.

In January 1918 the Royal Navy Submarines were replaced with seven American L Class Submarines which relieved the Royal Navy submarines only after being trained up by Captain Nasmith. In September 1918 Captain Martin Nasmith was appointed to the Submarine Depot Ship HMS Lucia (10th Submarine Flotilla) at South Bank, Middlesborough 'in Command' and 'in Command of the Submarine Flotilla'.

In May 1919 HMS Lucia was sent to the Baltic with the 7th Submarine Flotilla (of E Class and L Class Submarines) during the 'Russian Intervention'.

He was appointed to be a Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath 'for valuable services in charge of the Seventh Submarine Flotilla in the Baltic and as Senior Naval Officer, Revel'. This was announced in the Second Supplement (Monday 8th March) to the London Gazette of Friday 5th March 1920.

One of the 7th Submarine Flotilla Submarines (L55 - Lt Charles M S Chapman) was lost with all hands during the Russian Intervention. The 7th Submarine Flotilla returned home in September 1919.

On 20th August 1921 he was appointed to the 25,000 ton Battle ship HMS Iron Duke 'in Command' and 'as Flag Captain to the Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet'. He was appointed to HMS Britannia 'in Command and in Command of the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth' on 2nd Jan 1926.

Martin Nasmith was promoted Rear Admiral on 16th Jan 1928 and was then appointed to 'the Senior Officers Technical Course' at Portsmouth on 15th April 1929.

He was appointed to HMS Dolphin as 'Rear Admiral (Submarines)' on 2nd September 1929 filling this post for two years until relieved by Rear Admiral Charles J C Little on 2nd Oct 1931.

On 29th April 1932 he was appointed to the 9,800 ton Cruiser HMS Hawkins (4th Cruiser Squadron, East Indies) 'as Commander-in-Chief, East Indies Station'.

After three and a half years as a Rear Admiral he was promoted Vice Admiral on 12th Oct 1932.

He was between appointments in January 1935. Martin Dunbar-Nasmith was appointed to HMS President as '2nd Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Personnel' in September 1935. He was promoted to Admiral on 2nd Jan 1936 but continued to serve as '2nd Sea Lord' until September 1938.

He was appointed to HMS Drake (the Royal Naval Barracks at Devonport) 'as Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth' on 24th Oct 1938 and, in 1939 he chaired an Admiralty Committee to consider escape methods from sunken submarines following the Thetis disaster.

During the Second World War his appointment was changed to 'Commander in Chief, Western Approaches' until 7th Feb 1941. He was transferred to the Retired List on 31st Dec 1941 when he was appointed to HMS President as the 'Flag Officer in Charge, London' and served in this appointment until 1945.

He was appointed 'Vice Admiral of the United Kingdom and Lieutenant of the Admiralty' in 1954 and served in this appointment until 1962.

Martin Nasmith was married to Beatrix Justina Dunbar-Dunbar-Rivers (the youngest daughter of Commander Harry Dunbar-Dunbar-Rivers, Royal Navy) in 1920 and later, in 1923 adopted the surname Dunbar-Nasmith. He is reported to have died at the age of 82 at Glen Rothes, Rothes, Morayshire (now Grampian Region), Scotland on 29th June 1965. He is buried in the Holy Trinity Churchyard at Elgin.

Martin Dunbar-Nasmith's Victoria Cross and other medals are privately held.



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Commander John Wallace Linton