Dawn of the Legend
25 April 1915
Australian submarine AE2
From February 1915 the Australian E-type submarine, named AE2, was operating in the eastern Mediterranean. On 25 April 1915, while Australian troops were landing on the nearby Turkish coast, the submarine entered the straits of the Dardanelles to attack enemy shipping and create a minor diversion.
It was a perilous journey. The small submarine bumped along the bottom, ran aground, felt the shock of bursting shells and the rattle of shrapnel of its hull, and scraped numerous mine cables. It torpedoed a Turkish vessel and the following morning reached the Sea of Marmora. Over the next two days the AE2 engaged the enemy but with little success; it eluded Turkish gunboats, and sometimes, hoping to undermine enemy morale, deliberately advertised its presence.
The end came suddenly on 30 April; while under attack from a torpedo boat the submarine became uncontrollable – “like a floundering whale” – and was then hit a number of times. The men were ordered to quickly abandon the boat, which was scuttled. The crew was captured by the Turks and became prisoners; four of them would later die in captivity.
Within seconds the engine room was hit. I ordered all hands on deck [and] went round opening all tanks to flood the sub. Cary … watched the rising water. “Hurry sir, she’s going down.”
Commander Harry Stoker