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William George Powell O/N 182354

18-12-1870 - 01-06-1916

William Powell was born in Soho, London on 18th Dec 1870. He joined the Royal Navy at as a Seaman in 1894 - signing on for a twelve year engagement. He was ‘Rated Up’ to Ordinary Seaman and then to Able Seaman. Further advancement to Leading Seaman followed on 8th Sep 1898 but he was reverted to the rate of Able Seaman on 27th Jan 1900.  The reason for this reversion is not known.  He was drafted to HMS LATONA ‘for Submarine Training’ in July 1903.  William Powell was again ‘Rated Up’ to Leading Seaman on 1st Jun 1905. He then served continuously in Submarines until 1st Oct 1910 when he returned to General Service with a draft to HMS EXCELLENT at Portsmouth in line with the policy then in place that Ratings should return to General Service after five years Submarine service - but they could later volunteer for a second period of service in Submarines.


Submarine E9 

Horton and Chapman on Control Tower of E9 with W G Powell in the background.

E9 cutting through the ice in Reval (Tallinn) W G Powell steering from the coning tower

He rejoined the Submarine service on 28th May 1912 with a draft to the Submarine Depot Ship HMS ARROGANT ‘for Submarines’.  He was drafted to Submarine E9 (Lieutenant Commander Max Kennedy Horton, Royal Navy). Submarine E9 was built at the Barrow in Furness Yard of Vickers Sons and Maxims, was launched on 17th Mar 1912 and, after the ‘Commissioning’ on 18th Jun 1914 William Powell served in that Submarine in the North Sea and, later in the Baltic. Whilst in Submarine E9 Max Horton sank the German Cruiser SMS HELA on Sep 1914 and the Destroyer S116 off Heligoland on 6th Oct 1914. After returning to Harwich Submarine E9 was ordered into the Baltic with two other Submarines of which only Submarines E1 and E9 succeeded in making the passage. 


An advert in The Illustrated London News dated Dec 19th 1914 recalling the "Hela" attack.

Crew of E9 receiving their medals W G Powell is seated front row last on right.

Commendation for Cross of St George, 3rd Class by the Russian Government and an example of the medal. 

On 29th Jan 1915 Horton successfully attacked and sank a German Destroyer for which he was awarded the Russian Order of St. Anne with Swords and Diamonds.  On 4th June 1915 Horton attacked and claimed as sunk a Destroyer and a Transport and damaged a second Destroyer.  Then, on Friday 2nd Jul 1915 he attacked the Cruiser SMS PRINZ ADALBERT and caused severe damage with the one torpedo which hit.

A great republished book containing details of Horton and the rest of the Baltic Flotilla's exploits just published by Pen & Sword publishing click the above photo to be taken to the website.


W G Powell in Russian Uniform

William Powell was, again reverted to Able Seaman on 13th Sep 1915. On leaving Submarine E9 William Powell joined Submarine E18 (Lieutenant Commander Robert Crosby Halahan, Royal Navy) which was also part of the Baltic Flotilla.  Submarine E18 was built at the Barrow in Furness Yard of Vickers Sons and Maxims, was launched on 4th Mar 1915 and, after commissioning on 6th Jun 1915 the Submarine joined the Eighth Submarine Flotilla at Harwich and was then sent to the Baltic in August 1915.


 Crew of E18 W. G. Powell sat in 2nd Row from front 1st on Left with Darren Brown's great grandfather, Signalman Albert Edward Robinson.

Submarine E18 was on patrol in the Baltic on 25th May 1916 when Lieutenant Commander Halahan torpedoed the German Destroyer V100 blowing off the bows of the German ship.  This success was reported by Submarine E18 on the 26th May 1916 which was the last message received from the Submarine. After a great deal of in-depth research by Darren Brown the now accepted date for the loss of E18 is between the 1st - 2nd June 1916.


 Submarine E18

Side scans of E18 from the discovery in 2009

William Powell was 46 years old when he died.  He was the husband of May Louisa Powell (nee Moody) of 123, Toronto Road, Buckland, Portsmouth.  They were married at Southampton on 16th Dec 1903 and had one son – Victor William Frank Powell.  William Powell was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal for his Naval Service and was also awarded the Cross of St George, 3rd  Class  and 4th Class by the Russian Government.  He is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval War Memorial Panel No. 13.

W G Powell with his son Victor Powell circa 1910/1911


W. G. Powell's Record of Service.

The Trade
Sea Warfare 1914-18

THEY bear, in place of classic names,
Letters and numbers on their skin.
They play their grisly blindfold games
In little boxes made of tin.
Sometimes they stalk the Zeppelin,
Sometimes they learn where mines are laid,
Or where the Baltic ice is thin.
That is the custom of "The Trade."

Few prize-courts sit upon their claims.
They seldom tow their targets in.
They follow certain secret aims
Down under, Far from strife or din.
When they are ready to begin
No flag is flown, no fuss is made
More than the shearing of a pin.
That is the custom of "The Trade."

The Scout's quadruple funnel flames
A mark from Sweden to the Swin,
The Cruiser's thund'rous screw proclaims
Her comings out and goings in:
But only whiffs of paraffin
Or creamy rings that fizz and fade
Show where the one-eyed Death has been
That is the custom of "The Trade."

Their feats, their fortunes and their fames
Are hidden from their nearest kin;
No eager public backs or blames,
No journal prints the yarn they spin
(The Censor would not let it in! )
When they return from run or raid.
Unheard they work, unseen they win.
That is the custom of "The Trade."



A few possible pictures of W G Powell


A visit to the Royal Navy Submarine Museum 31st July 2009:

The Conning Tower of E17

The Memorial to Submarines lost 1904 - 1955.

E18 shown as being lost 24th May 1916.

The Memorial to E18 with crew list giving the date of loss 11th June 1916 (the administrative date) in the Submarine and Crews Garden of Remembrance.

A set of miniatures of Sir Max Horton's Medals


A cigarette case given to Sir Max Horton by the Tsar

A portrait of Sir Max Horton 1946


Check out :

Home of the HMS E18 Families Group

Webpage hosted by Portsmouth Napoleonic Society I would like to acknowledge the great help from

Darren Brown, Brian Head and Dennis Feary.

If you have any further info that may be of help or wish to add please contact

Vic Powell

A great forum for info on the Great War :


The Royal Navy Submarine Museum a great source for archives on the Baltic Fleet:

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