HM Armed Smack Inverlyon

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Career (United Kingdom)
Name: HM Armed Smack Inverlyon
In service: 2 August 1915[1]
Out of service: By 1916[1]
Homeport: Lowestoft
Fate: Sunk by Template:SMU, 1 February 1917[2]
Service record
Commanders: Gunner Ernest Martin Jehan
Victories: German submarine Template:SMU
Awards: Admiralty submarine bounty (cash award to crew)
General characteristics
Type: Smack
Tons burthen: 59[1]
Propulsion: None
Sail plan: Two masts, fore-and-aft rigged[3]
Complement: 7
Armament: 1 × 3-pounder (47 mm) or 6-pounder (57 mm) gun[Note 1]

His Majesty's or HM Armed Smack Inverlyon was a fishing smack that was converted to a Q-ship during the First World War. Q-ships served as decoys to lure German submarines near enough so that concealed weapons could be brought to bear and sink the submarines. On 15 August 1915, Inverlyon succeeded in luring German submarine Template:SMU within range and sinking her with nine shots from her gun. The Royal Navy Gunner in command of the vessel, Ernest Martin Jehan, received the Distinguished Service Cross and members of Inverlyon's crew shared the bounty offered for German submarines. After Inverlyon's Q-ship career ended, she returned to fishing, but was sunk by Template:SMU on 1 February 1917.


Action of 15 August 1915
Part of World War I
First Battle of the Atlantic
Date August 15, 1915
Location Off the coast of Great Yarmouth, England
Result British victory
22x20px Kaiserliche Marine  Royal Navy
Karl Gross Ernest Martin Jehan
UB-4, 14 crewmembers Inverlyon, unknown number of crew
Casualties and losses
14 KIA, UB-4 sunk none

Inverlyon was a fishing smack of 59 tons burthen that was a part of the fishing fleet at Lowestoft on the Suffolk coast.[1][3] The wooden boat had a flush deck, two masts, and no engine.[3] Inverlyon's sails were fore-and-aft rigged and may have been red ochre in colour, the traditional sail colour for British smacks.[3][4]

In February 1915, Germany began its first submarine offensive of the First World War. During this campaign, enemy vessels in the German-defined war zone (German: Kriegsgebiet), which encompassed all waters around the United Kingdom, were to be sunk,[5] and the British fishing fleet was not exempt.[6] In mid-June, for example, the German submarine Template:SMU had sunk six smacks off Lowestoft in a two-day period.[6][7]

One method devised to deal with U-boat attacks was the decoy or Q-ship, designed to lure submarines that were targeting merchant shipping close enough so that concealed guns or other weapons could sink them.[3] Inverlyon was selected to become a Q-ship, was outfitted with either a 3-pounder (47 mm) or a 6-pounder (57 mm) gun,[Note 1] and entered the service of the Royal Navy on 2 August 1915.[1][3] Inverlyon's fishing crew and skipper were all temporarily inducted into the Trawler section of the Royal Naval Reserve. Regular Royal Navy Gunner Ernest Martin Jehan and three other gunners from HMS Dryad—a former torpedo boat operating as a minesweeper out of Lowestoft—were assigned to Inverlyon, with Jehan in command.[3]

On 14 August, the 59-ton smack Bona Fide was stopped by a U-boat, boarded, and sunk with explosives 35 nautical miles (65 km) east-northeast from Lowestoft.[6] This attack was likely by UB-4, because she was operating in that area on her fourteenth patrol.[8] Regardless of the identity of Bona Fide's attacker, UB-4 did approach a group of smacks in the vicinity the next day. Unbeknown to UB-4's commander, Oberleutnant zur See Karl Gross,[Note 2] one of the fishing vessels was the disguised Inverlyon.[3][Note 3]

Around 20:20, UB-4 surfaced near Inverlyon, and Gross, on the conning tower of UB-4, began shouting out commands to Inverlyon's crew in German. Jehan, after waiting until UB-4 closed to within 30 yards (27 m) of Inverlyon, ordered the White Ensign raised and gave the command to open fire. A burst of three rounds from the Inverlyon's weapon scored hits on the conning tower, the second shot destroying part of the bridge and sending Gross into the water. UB-4, with no one at the helm, drifted behind Inverlyon, and when clear, Inverlyon's gunner unleashed another six shots into the hull of UB-4 at point-blank range. All the while, small arms fire from Inverlyon's crew peppered the submarine. The U-boat began going down by the bow, becoming nearly vertical before disappearing below the surface. Inverlyon's fishing skipper, a man named Phillips, dived in to attempt the rescue of a crewman from UB-4. Phillips was unable to reach him before he went under and he met same fate as Gross and UB-4's twelve other crewmen.[3]

As UB-4 went down she fouled Inverlyon's nets—which had been deployed to keep up the appearance of a real fishing boat—essentially anchoring Inverlyon in place . The Q-ship's crew, not having a wireless set on board, sent word of the encounter with another smack. This was followed up by releasing messenger pigeons the following morning, requesting instructions on what to do with UB-4. The thought of salvaging the snagged U-boat was rejected, so the nets were cut, freeing UB-4 to sink to the bottom.[3] UB-4's wreck lies at position 52°43′N 2°18′E / 52.717°N 2.3°E / 52.717; 2.3.[9] On 19 November 1915 Jehan was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) for the sinking of UB-4,[10] and the crewmen of Inverlyon split the submarine bounty paid by the Admiralty.[3][Note 4]

About three weeks after she sank UB-4, Inverlyon had the opportunity to sink another U-boat, but was unsuccessful.[11] The U-boat encountered may have been either Template:SMU or Template:SMU, which both sank fishing vessels in the area on 7 and 8 September.[12] By 1916,[1] Inverlyon had ended her short-lived Q-ship career and returned to being a fishing boat.[11] Jehan, in addition to his DSC, was subsequently specially promoted to lieutenant on 4 January 1916 for his war service;[13] he retired from the Royal Navy on 29 October 1920.[14]

A smack similar to Inverlyon.

On 1 February 1917, the German submarine Template:SMU shelled and sank Inverlyon 15 nautical miles (28 km) from Trevose Head at position 50°47′N 5°5′W / 50.783°N 5.083°W / 50.783; -5.083; there were no reported casualties.[2][15]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Colledge, p. 176.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Inverlyon". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 12 March 2009. 
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 Perkins, Hugh (September 2008). "The gunner and the U-boat". Sea Classics (Canoga Park, California: Challenge Publications). OCLC 60621086.;col1. Retrieved 5 March 2009. 
  4. Penwith District Council (2009). "Boat Types". Penzance: Penwith District Council. Retrieved 6 March 2009. 
  5. Tarrant, p. 14.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "British fishing vessels lost at sea due to enemy action: 1914, 1915, 1916 in date order". World War 1 at Sea. 9 January 2009. Retrieved 6 March 2009.  The information on the website is extracted from British Vessels Lost at Sea: 1914–1918. His Majesty's Stationary Office. 1919. 
  7. Helgason, Guðmundur. Ships hit during WWI: Britannia, Edward, Laurestina, Quivive, Welfare, Intrepid. U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved on 6 March 2009.
  8. Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit during WWI: Bona Fide". U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 5 March 2009. 
  9. Messimer, p. 129
  10. London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29374, p. 11558, 19 November 1915. Retrieved on 6 March 2009.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Perkins, J. David (1999). "The gunner and the U-boat". The World War I Document archive: The War at Sea. Great War Primary Documents Archive. Retrieved 6 March 2009.  See additional note no. 2.
  12. Helgason, Guðmundur. Ships hit during WWI: Ships hit by UB 2, Ships hit by UB 16. U-Boat War in World War I. Retrieved 6 March 2009.
  13. London Gazette: no. 29431, p. 340, 7 January 1916. Retrieved on 6 March 2009.
  14. London Gazette: no. 32114, p. 10754, 5 November 1920. Retrieved on 6 March 2009.
  15. "British fishing vessels lost at sea due to enemy action: Years 1917, 1918 in date order". World War 1 at Sea. 9 January 2009. Retrieved 12 March 2009.  The information on the website is extracted from British Vessels Lost at Sea: 1914–1918. His Majesty's Stationary Office. 1919. 



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