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  • Christina Drummond

Lieutenant Commander Geoffrey Saxton White V.C., The Royal Navy

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1918, Lieutenant Commander Geoffrey Saxton White V.C. of the Royal Navy was lost at sea in the Dardanelles during the Great War.

He had joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1901, and was given his first command appointment in 1911 with HMS Arrogant. In 1916 he took command of the British submarine E14, which in January of 1918 was transferred from Corfu to the Dardanelles in an attempt to locate and sink the battleship Goeben, which had reportedly run aground.

His Victoria Cross citation tells the story: “For most conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty as Commanding Officer of H.M. Submarine "E 14" on the 28th of January, 1918. "E 14" left Mudros on the 27th of January under instructions to force the Narrows and attack the "Goeben" CCwhich was reported aground off Nagara Point after being damaged during her sortie from the Dardanelles. The latter vessel was not found and "E 14" turned back. At about 8.45 a.m. on 28 January a torpedo was fired from "E 14" at an enemy ship; 11 seconds after the torpedo left the tube a heavy explosion took place, caused all lights to go out, and sprang the fore hatch. Leaking badly the boat was blown to 15 feet, and at once a heavy fire came from the forts, but the hull was not hit. "E 14" then dived and proceeded on her way out. Soon afterwards the boat became out of control, and as the air supply was nearly exhausted, Lieutenant-Commander White decided to run the risk of proceeding on the surface. Heavy fire was immediately opened from both sides, and, after running the gauntlet for half-an-hour, being steered from below, "E 14" was so badly damaged that Lieutenant-Commander White turned towards the shore in order to give the crew a chance of being saved. He remained on deck the whole time himself until he was killed by a shell.” In June of 2012, after a three-year search, a Turkish marine engineer and a filmmaker discovered the wreck of E14 in 20 m of water about 250 m off Kum Kale. It was largely buried in sand, with only 23 feet of the bow, with a shell hole, remaining visible. The British government were to ask the Turkish authorities to ensure that the wreck be respected as a war grave:

Geoffrey, from Bromley in Kent, was 31 years old and married with three children under the age of six.

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