During World War I, Australia’s only remaining RAN submarine, HMAS AE2, made a daring and hazardous incursion into the Dardanelles and the Sea of Marmara. This emphatic act by Captain Henry Stoker and his 31 Australian and British officers and crew came on the very first day of the Gallipoli campaign, 25 April 1915.
The following five-day cat-and-mouse pursuit by the Ottoman navy ended with Stoker’s capitulation. After AE2 was damaged in an encounter with the much smaller Ottoman torpedo boat Sultanhisar, commanded by Ali Riza with 17 crew, Stoker scuttled the submarine on 30 April. Riza accepted their surrender, took the 32 men on board and clothed and fed them before steaming to Istanbul (then Constantinople). There Riza handed them over to Turkish authorities as prisoners-of-war, rather than to Turkey’s axis ally Germany, a choice that saw him slighted by the German authorities. The submarine’s capitulation was a significant naval achievement for Turkey in the opening salvos of the invasion of its lands at Gelibolu (Gallipoli).