First British Submarine To Fire A Torpedo In World War 1 Has Been found After It Vanishing 100 Years Ago

British Royal Navy Submarine HMS E5

British Royal Navy Submarine HMS E5 (Photo: Getty)


The first British submarine to fire a torpedo in World War I vanished in 1916, but now the families of crew who died aboard it know their loved-ones’ fate.

Divers found the intact hull of HMS E5 on Monday off the coast of the Netherlands after a suspension of the shipping lane it rests below was agreed.

The sub was feared to have struck a mine while rescuing survivors from a stricken trawler near the bay Heligoland Bight on March 7, 1916.

Its remains were a complete mystery until maritime archaeologists secured an agreement to examine a wreck near the German border.

Divers were able to report that the 178ft E5’s hatches were open, suggesting the crew had tried to escape.

The HMS E5 Submarine
The HMS E5 Submarine has now been found underwater (Photo: Forces TV)

There was no sign of damage to the hull of the sub that was built in Barrow-in-Furness and commissioned in 1913.

Remy Luttik, head of the diving team, said he was relieved to find the huge piece of history.

Remy said: “A puzzle piece of the maritime history of the North Sea could be clarified.”

Relatives of those who died have been traced by the Daily Mail .

The grandson of Petty Officer Arthur Robert Owen, from Battersea, South London, who shares his name, was among those traced.

The sub is a ‘puzzle piece of the maritime history of the North Sea’ (Photo: Forces TV)

The 74-year-old retired insurance broker said: “No one ever knew what happened to it – the submarine just vanished.

“My grandfather joined the Navy when he was just 12, and switched to serving on submarines because the pay was better than on the surface. It’s extraordinary that it’s been found 100 years later.”

The sub vanished in 1916
The sub vanished in 1916 (Photo: Forces TV)

Others who lost their lives when the submarine perished were Stoker Petty Officer Francis Garratt Cowburn, Engine Room Artificer Cecil Rice, 28, a father of two from Peterborough and Leading Seaman John ‘Tommy’ Bassett, who was 33 and was working as a postman in Walsall when he was called up as a reservist six weeks after getting married.

Bassett’s cousin Anne Thorpe said: “He needn’t have been on board – it’s so tragic. It makes everything seem so close knowing where his submarine now lies.”

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