Curator's Choice - Victoria Cross

Victoria Cross awarded to Boyle
Victoria Cross awarded to Commander EC Boyle VC

Commander Boyle was awarded the Victoria Cross when in command of HMS E14 in 1915. The medal was awarded for conspicuous bravery when he dived the submarine under enemy mine fields and entered the Sea of Marmora on 27 April 1915 as part of the Dardenelles campaign. He continued to sink two Turkish gunboats and one large military transport despite the surrounding hostilities. Every crewmember was also decorated.

Drawing of Boyle VC

By 1915, at the age of 33 years, Boyle was one of the most experienced submarine officers in the Royal Navy. He had previously commanded the Royal Navy's first submarine, Holland 1, in 1903, and was mentioned in despatches for his patrol of Heligoland Bight in HMS D3 after the outbreak of the war.

E14 in harbour

HMS E14 is the only ship in the history of the Royal Navy to gain the Victoria Cross on two separate occasions. The second occasion was under the command of Lieutenant Commander Godfrey Saxton White, also in the Dardenelles, in 1918. The submarine, having been damaged, had to risk remaining surfaced with enemy guns on both sides of the straits. White remained on the bridge alone and was killed by a shell while endeavouring to beach E14, and thereby save the lives of his crew. In the event the submarine and only seven crewmen were rescued by the Turks. Godfrey Saxton White was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously.

Fourteen Victoria Crosses have been awarded to the Submarine Service in total.