The following, despatches describe the sinking of an
enemy raider by H.M. Ships "Achilles" and "Dundee" in
March, 1917.( This raider was, it is now known, commissioned as the German
auxiliary cruiser "Leopard," being in fact no other than the British
steamer "Yarrowdale," captured by the raider "Moewe" in
December, 1916, and fitted out in Germany for service as a raider:
From Commander-in-Chief, Grand Fleet, to Admiralty.
Elizabeth," 21st March, 1917.
I have the honour to transmit, herewith, for the
information of their Lordships, reports from the Commanding Officers of
"Achilles" and "Dundee," on the action between those ships
and an enemy raider on 16th March, 1917, in latitude '64° 54' N., longitude 0°
22' E., resulting in the sinking of the raider with all hands.
The raider appears to have had a heavy torpedo
armament, and evidently hoped, by manoeuvring during chase and boarding, to
torpedo both "Achilles" and "Dundee." This was prevented by
the skilful handling of both ships. The Commanding Officer of
"Dundee" displayed excellent judgment in manoeuvring his ship in such
a way that he was able to pour in a hot fire for five or six minutes at a range
of 1,000 yards before the raider could bring a gun to bear.
After weighing the evidence, I am satisfied that no
submarine was present. The object reported by "Achilles" as a mine,
and by "Dundee" as a submarine, was probably a cask, possibly
containing oil, leakage of which would have given the appearance of the wake
noted by "Dundee."
I very much regret the loss of Lieutenant Frederick
H. Lawson, R.N.R., and his gallant boat's crew of volunteers, who undoubtedly
perished with the raider. The boarding parties from the patrol squadrons have,
throughout the war, displayed the greatest skill and fearlessness in carrying
out their hazardous work in all weathers.
That the raider was intercepted and brought to action
is the result of much patient work under trying conditions. Much credit is due
to Rear-Admiral Sydney R. Fremantle, M.V.O., for his conduct of the Second
Cruiser Squadron patrol.
I submit, for the favourable notice of their
Lordships, the ability and sound judgment displayed by Captain Francis M. Leake,
R.N., of "Achilles,"
and Commander Selwyn M. Day, R.D., R.N.R., of "Dundee," in rounding
up and destroying the vessel which was capable of doing such damage to our
The Rear-Admiral Commanding, Second Cruiser Squadron,
is being furnished with a copy of this letter, and will submit, in due course,
a list of recommendations of other Officers and Men whose services he considers
I am, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
David Beatty, Admiral.
The Secretary of the Admiralty
Achilles," 17th March, 1917.
Sir,-I have the honour to report that on the 16th
March, when patrolling in accordance with orders from the Rear-Admiral
Commanding Second Cruiser Squadron, in latitude 64.42 north, longitude 0.56
west, at 11.45 a.m., a steamer was sighted steering 66°, bearing N. 84 E,
distance about nine miles. Weather at the time being: Wind south-easterly,
force 4 to 5, snow and rain squalls, sea moderate. "Achilles" was
steering N. 15 W., and altered course N. 84 E., to close steamer, and directed
"Dundee" to conform. Speed of advance 15 knots.
At 1.00 p.m., finding a very small gain,
"Achilles" increased speed to 18 knots, and at 1.45 p.m. course was
altered to S. 87 E., to avoid following directly astern.
At 2.00 p.m. steamer was overhauled and directed to
stop, which signal she obeyed. She was then directed to steer W. by S., and at
2.35 p.m. was again stopped for "Dundee" to examine her.
"Achilles" manoeuvring at a distance of two and
a half to three miles.
At 3.45 p.m. "Dundee" and raider commenced
an action simultaneously. "Achilles" at once joined in, at a range of
5,300 yards, raider firing at her, but with more intensity at
"Dundee," whose safety was due to the prompt manner in which Commander
Selwyn Mitchell Day, R.N.R., answered the raider's first hostile act, and the
initial success she gained in getting raking hits; hers was the dangerous
position, and she extracted herself with the utmost credit.
On opening fire the raider at once enveloped herself
in smoke of a light colour. At 3.55 p.m. she fired a torpedo at
"Achilles," which broke surface off the port quarter. A submarine was
reported at the same time in this direction, and speed was increased from 16 to
20 knots. Hats were now being obtained, and the raider was on fire forward.
About this time she was hit in the bow (on the gripe) by a torpedo from
About 4.00 p.m. fire was checked, the raider being
well on fire, with occasional explosions forward. Soon after this,
"Dundee" took station astern of "Achilles," and was then
ordered to steer west. At 4.23 p.m. she reported a submarine between herself
and the raider. Consequently, fire was again opened on the raider and continued
until, at 4.33 p.m., she listed to port and sank, more or less horizontally, a
mass of flames, and red hot forward, leaving no visible survivors.
The position of this action was latitude 64.54 north,
longitude 0.22 east. The weather during the time was: Wind south-easterly,
force three to four, with continuous rain and moderate sea.
The loss of the "Dundee" boarding party is
greatly regretted. The actual movements of this boat could not be seen from
"Achilles," but she was apparently alongside the raider when the
action commenced. An overturned boat was sighted from "Achilles."
Excepting this, at no time was anything resembling a boat seen.
List of "Dundee" boarding party attached.
I have the
honour to be, Sir, Your obedient Servant,
F. M. Leake, Captain.
"DUNDEE" BOARDING PARTY.
Lawson, Frederick Herman, Lieutenant, R.N.R.
Anderson, Henry, Seaman, R.N.R., 2845 A.
Anderson, Henry James, Seaman, R.N.R., 4911 B.
Anderson, Magnus John, Seaman, R.N.R., 3936 B.
Anderson, Robert John, .Seaman, R.N.R., 3717 C.
Birchall, Alfred, Able Seaman, R.N.V.R., Mersey,
"Dundee," 11th March, 1917.
with German twin-screw Armed Merchantman, approximately 7,000 tons - Seven or
eight guns - Complement unknown - Flying Norwegian colours - With
"Rena," Norge, painted on each side - in 64.50 N., 0.32 E., on
Friday, March 16th, 1917.
I have the honour to report that whilst patrolling
with H.M.S. "Achilles" on Friday, March 16th, p.m., I proceeded to
the examination of the above steamer bound East (Mag.), which had been
overhauled and stopped by "Achilles" for that purpose.
At 2.42 p.m. "Dundee" lowered a boat with
Lieut. F. H. Lawson, R.N.R., and five R.N.R. Seamen forming the boarding and
boat party. The boat was towed towards the intercepted vessel, at that time
about two miles distant and steaming slowly towards us.
The following signals were then exchanged:
"What ship is that?"
Answered by A.P.
"Pay attention to my signals."
Blank round fired.
"What is your cargo?"
"Where are you from?"
"When did you leave?"
Her size, manoeuvres, and the information in
confidential books supplied convinced me eventually she was a raider, and it
was obvious he was trying to defeat my object of maintaining a position (for
attack) close up to the weather quarter and heading across ihis stern, and he
constantly moved the propellers, slewing to port or starboard. Keeping station
thus we awaited some sign from
the boarding Officer or the boat, which was, of course, on the lee side, and
could not be seen by us.
At 3.40 I heard the noise of the large Norwegian flag
painted on her port quarter fall outboard, being hinged on the lower side, and
I gave the orders "Fire"
and "Half speed ahead" to keep station, the raider now slewing
rapidly to port with slight, if any, headway. Two torpedoes followed from her
in quick succession, passing from 20 to 50 feet astern. The Norwegian flag
remained hoisted on the ensign staff throughout and no other flag was seen. Our
guns were already firing, and every shot was a hit. The first (from our aft
4") raked her port battery deck, causing an explosion and volumes of
smoke. The fore gun fired through the deck into her engine-room, and volumes of
steam spread with intense smoke and flames, caused by further hits, so as to
completely hide the ship from us from bridge to stern. The 3-pdr. gun fired at
Forty-four 4", and twenty-five 3-pdr. rounds
were fired at about 1,000 yards' range before the raider fired her first gun.
"Dundee" was then in the smoke (wind south-easterly, force 4 to 5) to
leeward, and both ships practically obscured from each other in consequence.
Observing "Achilles" on almost opposite
bearing, I turned, and went full speed and down the lane of smoke so as to
clear the range for the cruiser. On turning, one torpedo was fired at us, and
also three salvoes, two short and one over of three or four guns by her port
broadside. Then followed some very wild single shots, including shrapnel,
fragments of the latter only hitting ship. The aft gun was bearing the whole
time, and made consistently excellent hitting on any visible part of the enemy.
Ignited oil was observed streaming from her port beam.
At 4.10, when out of torpedo range, we again engaged
enemy in company with "Achilles" already firing, and ceased fire at
4.15, having no more ammunition. The raider was a mass of flame, and obviously
a doomed ship, although she continued to fight with apparently but one gun.
Enemy sank whilst under fire of "Achilles," 4.35p.m.
We saw a submarine about half a mile from the raider,
of which fact I immediately advised "Achilles."
I desire to submit the names of the following
W. Lee, P.O.1, R.F.R., Off. number, Po. 129854;
J. M. Cullen, A.B., R.N.V.R., Off. number, Mersey 35,
J. L. Arthurson, Ldg. Sea., R.N.R., Off. number,
J. G. Anderson, Sea., R.N.R., Off. number, C. 2485;
for favourable consideration, because with no
Officers of Quarters available (two were absent on duty), they calmly and
skilfully controlled the guns' crews and their own firing, doing their own
spotting and judging point of aim to the most vital places about the raider's
decks and hull, so that the enemy, who was approximately three times our size,
complement and armament, was made by their marksmanship incapable of inflicting
the smallest damage to us within the same period. In fact, the enemy ship at
this time was stopped, disabled, and in time would have been entirely consumed
by the fire then raging.
With the utmost regret I have to report that Lieut.
Lawson, R.N.R., and the boat's crew who volunteered to accept the extreme risk
entailed by a boarding operation under such conditions, are missing, having
undoubtedly been forced into the raider and lost with her. The boat was
observed empty at the commencement of the action as we followed round the stern
of the enemy. Other than the boarding party, we suffered no casualties nor any
damage to the ship.
I have the
honour to be, Sir, Your obedient servant,
Selwyn M. Day, Commander, R.N.R.
The Rear-Admiral Commanding Second Cruiser Squadron,
Copy to Commanding Officer, H.M.S.