Lt Cdr M.E. Nasmith  VC

Lt Cdr M.E. Nasmith  VC

Lt Cdr M.E. Nasmith VC




Submariner VC
Blue Plaque

The Submariners Association are running a project to erect a Blue Plaque to commemorate holders of the VC who were submariners. Frank (Sandy) Powel a member of the Associations NMC is the driving force in getting all the hard work done, which involves selecting the location, getting all the permissions required and arranging the unveiling.


Click here to see Press Release

29206 - 25 JUNE 1915
Admiralty, 24th June, 1915.

The KING (is) pleased to approve of the grant of the Victoria Cross to:
Lieutenant-Commander Martin Eric Nasmith, Royal Navy,
for the conspicuous bravery specified below:

For most conspicuous bravery in command of one of His Majesty's Submarines while operating in the Sea of Marmora. In the face of great danger he succeeded in destroying one large Turkish gunboat, two transports, one ammunition ship and three storeships, in addition to driving one storeship ashore. When he had safely passed the most difficult part of his homeward journey he returned again to torpedo a Turkish transport

Saturday 11th April 2015

As part of the Submariners Association initiative the third 'Blue Plaque' commemorating a WWI Submariner and VC holder was placed on his birth place at 136, Castelnau, Barnes, London, SW13 9ET on Saturday 11th April 2015

Approximately 60 guests, which included members of the Dunbar-Nasmith family, friends and relatives of Simon and Katie Cooper (owners of the property), the Deputy Mayor of Richmond-Upon-Thames (Councillor Peter Buckwell) joined veterans and serving submariners including RASM, Rear Admiral Mathew Parr CB for the ceremony.
The commemoration service was led by the Reverend David Cooke (St Helen’s Holy Trinity, Barnes). Our Chairman, Jim McMaster welcomed everybody to the event and our President Admiral Sir James Perowne KBE gave a detailed description of Lieutenant Commander Nasmith’s career and the deed which led to his award of the VC. This was followed by the unveiling of the plaque by the Admiral and Mr Simon Cooper.

Lieutenant Commander Martin Eric Nasmith was born 1st April 1883 at what was, originally, 13 Castelnau Gardens, Bridge Road, Barnes. However, this was later renamed Castelnau and the number changed to 136. He was educated at Eastman’s Royal Naval Academy, Winchester and HMS Britannia at Dartmouth and joined the Royal Navy at the age of 14 in 1897 gaining the rank of Lieutenant in 1904.
One early event in his career often gave him pause to ponder in later life. In May 1912, King George V was in HMY Victoria and Albert III in Weymouth Bay to witness Fleet manoeuvres. Because of heavy fog, the program was disrupted, and the King expressed the desire to dive in a submarine. On Wednesday 8th May, he embarked on HM Submarine D4, under the command of Lieutenant Nasmith, and (in the words of the Times) “made a lengthy run in her when she was submerged”. What made the occasion all the more remarkable was the presence on board of his second son, Prince Albert, who was to become King George VI, Captain Roger Keyes, Inspecting Captain of Submarines and former Prime Minister Arthur Balfour.

Nasmith’s diary records that “We remained under water for ten to 15 minutes, during which time he showed great interest in the proceedings, periscope in particular.” The Navy News article from July 2012, records that Nasmith often wondered what would have happened to the course of 20th century history had he sunk that day, a not unreasonable thought, given that he had very nearly sunk in the Solent in 1905 whilst in command of HM Submarine A4.
It was during WWI, that at the age of 32 and when in command of HM Submarine E11 he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
During the period 20th May to 8th June 1915 he managed to penetrate the heavily guarded Dardanelles, which included numerous minefields, short batteries and patrolling Turkish gun boats and enter the Sea of Marmara, whereupon he destroyed one large Turkish gunboat, two transports, one ammunition ship, three store ships and four other vessels.

What was even more remarkable is that during his exit of the area and when he had safely passed the most difficult part of his homeward journey he received information that a cargo of coal was heading towards Istanbul from the Black Sea. Realising that coal was essential for the morale of the besieged city, Nasmith turned back. When the coal-carrying ship came into sight of the docks, a welcoming committee of municipal Turkish grandees soon formed, along with a happy crowd – water, electricity and rail transport had all suffered due to a lack of coal. Hardly had the ship berthed than it mysteriously blew up before the eyes of the astounded crowd. Nasmith successfully slipped out again. Nasmith conducted combat operations in the Sea of Marmara for a three month period. When his torpedoes ran low, he set them to float at the end of their run, so that he could recover them should they fail to hit a target. On one occasion he trimmed down by the bow and recovered the torpedo through his stern tube. The torpedo was then dismantled and man-handled through the submarine to the fore-ends, whereupon the crew re-assembled it. It is understood that he only did this once and all other torpedoes were recovered through the bow tubes, torpedo stern first. At one point, he captured a sailing dhow, and lashed it to the conning tower of E11 as camouflage, and went on to capture an ammunition ship using small arms. His penetration of the Golden Horn was the first time an enemy ship had done so in over 500 years.

He also attacked a railway viaduct. Nasmith's First Lieutenant, Guy D'Oyly-Hughes, and Second Lieutenant, Robert Brown, were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, and all the rest of the crew were awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. Nasmith was promoted to Commander immediately and to Captain a year later. Following the Armistice, during the Russian intervention, Nasmith was in charge of the Seventh Submarine Flotilla in the Baltic and was Senior Naval Officer at Reval (later Tallinn), and was appointed CB in 1920 for that service. That year he also married Beatrix Justina Dunbar-Dunbar-Rivers and legally changed his name to Dunbar-Nasmith. He was captain of HMS Iron Duke from 1921 to 24, was appointed Commandant of the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth in 1926 and held the office of Aide-de-Camp to HM King George V between 1927 and 28. Martin Dunbar-Nasmith was Rear Admiral Submarines from 1929 until 1931. He became Commander-in-Chief of the East Indies Station in 1932 and was invested as Knight Commander, Order of the Bath (K.C.B) in 1934. He held the office of Second Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Personnel in 1935 and, at the outbreak of WWII he was the Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth and Western Approaches a post he held from 1938 to 1941. He served as Flag Officer in charge of London from 1942 and retired in 1946.

In Retirement Martin Dunbar-Nasmith became Vice Chairman of the Imperial War Graves Commission and was also appointed Vice-Admiral of the United Kingdom - a ceremonial position - and he became President of the Royal Naval Benevolent Trust. In 1955 he was invested as a Knight Commander, Order of St. Michael and St. George (K.C.M.G.) and held the officer of Vice-Lord-Lieutenant (D.L.) of Morayshire in 1957. Beatrix and Martin had three children - Evelyn and David who have unfortunately passed away and Sir James who attended the ceremony.

Martin Eric Dunbar-Nasmith died on 29th June 1965 at age 82 at Glen Rothes, Rothes, Morayshire, Scotland and he is buried in the Holy Trinity Churchyard at Elgin. Martin Eric Dunbar-Nasmith was undoubtedly a very remarkable man.
The unveiling ceremony was completed by the Reverend David Cooke by blessing the plaque and reading the Naval Collect. This was followed by the Chairman presenting Simon and Katie Cooper with a Submariners Association Crest, a book of Submariners Poems, a set of Dolphins and a framed picture containing a copy of the birth certificate of Lieutenant Commander Nasmith VC.

The Dunbar-Nasmith family also presented Simon and Katie Cooper with a picture containing three photographs, one of E11 returning from patrol, the Crew of E11 and a copy of the first periscope picture taken by Nasmith with a Brownie Box camera. Following completion of the event all guests were invited by Simon and Katie Cooper for tea and cakes in their rear garden which was very much appreciated by all who attended.

L to R: Jack Bradley, Trevor Thomas, Simon Cooper, Katie Cooper, Rev. David Cooke, Councillor Peter Buckwell, Sir James Perowne & Robert Clarke In summary it was a great day, everybody appeared to enjoy themselves and the rain stayed away. The organisers of the event, Sandy Powell and Keith Bishop would like to thank all serving and submariner veterans that attended the ceremony and in particular, the National Standard Bearer (Trevor Thomas), members of Middlesex and Medway Towns Branches together with their Standard Bearer’s (Jack Bradley & Robert Clarke).

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