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"
December, 1916, and fitted out in Germany for service
as a raider:
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
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
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
the skilful handling of both ships. The Commanding
"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
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,
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
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
Achilles," 17th March, 1917.
Sir,-I have the honour
to report that on the 16th
March, when patrolling in accordance with orders from
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:
force 4 to 5, snow and rain squalls, sea moderate.
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
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
"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
"Dundee," whose safety was due to the prompt manner in
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
On opening fire the
raider at once enveloped herself
in smoke of a light colour. At 3.55 p.m. she fired a
"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
"Dundee" took station astern of "Achilles," and was
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
The position of this
action was latitude 64.54 north,
longitude 0.22 east. The weather during the time was:
force three to four, with continuous rain and moderate
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
Excepting this, at no time was anything resembling a
List of "Dundee"
boarding party attached.
I have the
honour to be, Sir, Your obedient Servant,
F. M. Leake, Captain.
"DUNDEE" BOARDING PARTY.
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.
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
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
The following signals
were then exchanged:
"What ship is
to my signals."
"What is your
"Where are you
"When did you
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
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
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,
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;
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,
Commanding Second Cruiser Squadron,
Copy to Commanding