James Raymond Yearsley Jnr Navy

Ensign James R Yearsley Jnr (403418). US Naval Reserve. Killed in action 21 Mar 1945 or 22nd March 1946. Missing in action or buried at sea. Son of Mr & Mrs James Raymond Yearsley Senior, Pennsylvania. Tablets of The Missing At Honolulu Memorial.

Walter Albert Yearsley d. 1915 Navy

Stoker 1st Class Walter Albert Yearsley (K 3223). Royal Navy, HM Submarine E.13. Died 19th August 1915. Order of St. George 4th Class (Russia). Son of Walter Henry and Alice Yearsley, of 23, Shamrock Rd., Itchen, Southampton. Commonwealth War Dead. Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery. H. 27. 4.

HMS 13 - Service History

Photo: HMS E13 aground at Saltholm in the Øresund in 1915 after being attacked by German torpedo boats

HMS E13 had a relatively short career during World War I. On 14 August 1915, she was despatched from Harwich, accompanied by her sister vessel HMS E8. The two submarines had orders to sail to the Baltic Sea to interdict German shipping, particularly vessels carrying iron ore shipments from Sweden.[1] At around 01:00 on 18 August 1915, the submarine ran aground in shallow water near Saltholm island in the Øresund between Malmö and Copenhagen, because of a defective gyrocompass. At dawn she became clearly visible. At 05:00 the Royal Danish Navy torpedo boat Narhvalen appeared on the scene and hailed the E13's commander, Lt Cdr Geoffrey Layton, informing him that he had 24 hours to refloat his vessel and leave before he and his crew would be interned for violating Denmark's neutrality.

The E13's crew sought to lighten the submarine by pumping out tanks and discharging fuel, but she had grounded in only 10 feet (3.0 m) of water and would not move. Layton realised that he would not be able to refloat the E13 before the deadline passed and sent his first lieutenant ashore to arrange a tow or, if this was impracticable, to negotiate terms for internment. He was unable to contact the Admiralty for assistance, as the Germans were jamming radio frequencies.

At 10:28 the German torpedo boat G132 arrived but withdrew when the Danish torpedo boats Støren and Søulven approached. A third Danish torpedo boat, the Tumleren, arrived shortly afterwards.
Meanwhile, the commander of the G132, Oberleutnant zur See Paul Graf von Montgelas, had informed Rear Admiral Robert Mischke by radio about the E13's grounding. German naval operations against the Russian-held city of Riga were at a critical stage and Mischke felt that he could not afford to let the E13 pass into the Baltic, where it could threaten the German offensive in the Gulf of Riga. He ordered G132 and another torpedo boat to destroy the submarine. The two vessels returned to Saltholm and opened fire on the E13 with torpedoes, machine-guns and shell fire from a range of 300 yards. The submarine was hit repeatedly and set on fire. Seeing this, Lt Cdr Layton ordered the submarine to be abandoned, but the firing continued while his men were in the water. The engagement ended when the Danish torpedo boat Søulven placed herself between the submarine and the two German ships, which withdrew. Fourteen of the E13's crew were killed in the attack and one was missing, presumed killed.

The E13's fifteen surviving crew members were interned at the Copenhagen Navy Yard by the Danes for the rest of the war. Layton refused to give his parole and eventually escaped along with his first officer, returning to England to continue the war. He went on to have a distinguished career and commanded the British Eastern Fleet during the Second World War.

The Danish government fitted out the mail steamer Vidar as a temporary chapel to transport the bodies of the casualties back to Hull, accompanied by the Danish torpedo boats Springeren and Støren. Notwithstanding Denmark's neutrality, the dead British sailors were given full honours when their bodies were brought ashore, as a contemporary report described:

There was a touching funeral scene to-night in the Sound. In a brilliant sunset the Danish torpedo boat Soridderen passed slowly in with her flag at half-mast. A naval squadron formed a guard of honour around the bodies of the British dead. At all the fortifications, and on the whole of the ships, flags were immediately lowered as a mark of respect. Hundreds of spectators were gathered at Langelinie, all of whom reverently saluted. On shore a naval and military salute was given.

The incident caused outrage in Britain and Denmark, since it was clearly a serious breach of international law. The Danish newspaper National Tidende published an indignant leading article protesting at the Germans' violation of Danish neutrality. Politiken reported that the Danish government had protested to Germany, pointing out that the E13 had not been destroyed in any kind of pursuit but while she was lying damaged on neutral territory. The London Times fulminated in a leading article that "the unjustifiable slaughter of the men of the E13 is one more notch in the long score we have to settle with the homicidal brood of Prussia." The German government subsequently apologised to Denmark, stating that "instructions previously given to commanders of German vessels to respect neutrality have once more been impressed upon them."

Although the E13 was refloated by the Danes and towed to Copenhagen, she was so badly damaged by the German attack that her repair was not viable. On 6 February 1919, she was sold by the British government to a Danish company for 150,000 Danish kroner (about £8,330 at 1919 prices). On 14 December 1921, she was resold for scrap.

James Yearsley d. 1939 Navy

Able Seaman James Yearsley (D/J 38440). Royal Navy, HMS Courageous. Died 17th September 1939. Son of James and Emma Yearsley; husband of Eliza Yearsley, of Miles Green, Bignall End, Stoke-on-Trent. Commonwealth War Dead. Plymouth Naval Memorial. Panel 33, Column 3.

HMS Courageous

Photo: HMS Courageous

HMS Courageous was a warship of the Royal Navy. She was built at the Armstrong Whitworth shipyard as a "large light cruiser". Courageous, her sister ship Glorious, and half-sister Furious, were the brainchildren of Admiral Jackie Fisher, and were designed to be "light cruiser destroyers". They were originally intended to be heavy support for shallow water operations in the Baltic, which ultimately never came to pass. Courageous saw action in the First World War, and then was converted into an aircraft carrier.

HMS Courageous served with the Home Fleet in the Channel Force at the start of the Second World War. On 17 September 1939, under the command of Captain W. T. Mackaig-Jones, she was on an anti-submarine patrol off the coast of Ireland. Two of her four escorting destroyers had been sent to help a merchant ship under attack. During this time, Courageous was stalked for over two hours by U-29, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Otto Schuhart. Then Courageous turned into the wind to launch her aircraft. This manoeuvre put the ship right across the bow of U-29, which then fired three torpedoes. Two of the torpedoes struck the ship on her port side, and she capsized and sank in 15 minutes with the loss of 518 of her crew, including her captain. She was the first British warship to be lost in the war; the civilian passenger liner SS Athenia had been sunk two weeks earlier. An earlier unsuccessful attack on Ark Royal by U-39 on 14 September — and the sinking of Courageous three days later — caused the Royal Navy to withdraw its fleet carriers from anti-submarine patrol.

Photo: HMS Courageous sinking after being torpedoed by U-29

John Yearsley d. 1918 Navy

Ordinary Seaman John Yearsley (J/782454). HMS Anchusa. Died 16th July 1918, aged 19. Son of Mary Jane Grundy, of 295, Whit Lane, Pendleton, Manchester. Born at Peel Green, Patricroft, Manchester. Commonwealth War Grave. Plymouth Naval Memorial. 27.

HMS Anchusa

HMS Anchusa was launched in 1917, an Anchusa Class Convoy Sloop, also known as a Fleet Sweeping Sloop, Flower Class. The Royal Navy Flower Class consisted of 39 vessels, deliberately built to designs which gave them the look of merchant ships, so that as well as mine-sweeping, they could serve as Q ships at need.

HMS Anchusa was 1290 tons, with a main armament of two 4" guns, two 12 pounder guns and depth charge throwers. A four cylinder triple-expansion steam engine, served by two cylindrical boilers gave a service speed of 16 knots. HMS Anchusa was torpedoed by a German submarine U-54 off the North coast of Ireland on 16th July, 1918. The majority of the eighty officers, men & boys were lost.

Edwin John Yearsley d. 1942

Able Seaman Edwin John Yearsley (P/JX 268143). HMS President III, Royal Navy. Died 11th July 1942, aged 32. Son of Harry and Flora Yearsley, of Southampton; husband of Rose Doris Yearsley, of Southampton. Commonwealth War Dead. Commonwealth War Dead. Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Panel 65, Column 2.

HMS President III

HMS President is a stone frigate, or shore establishment of the Royal Naval Reserve. A third accounting base, this time alternately based at Bristol, Windsor and London. It covered the accounts of the active services of the Royal Fleet Reserve, the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and the Royal Naval Reserve from 1916 onwards, also extending to covering demobilisation accounts from December 191 onwards. The Defensively Equipped Merchant Ship accounts were transferred to HMS Vivid on 1 October 1919. In August 1935, President III also took over the accounts of the Mobile Naval Defence Base Organisation.
It was re-established on 28 August 1939 in Bristol to train those allocated for service on the Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships. It was later transferred to locations across Windsor and London. By 31 May 1944 the command held over 30,500 accounts. The ledgers were closed after
the war on 1 July 1946, and the accounts covered by President III and Pembroke III were merged into President I.