HMS Camperdown with C-class boats alongside

Submarines on the pre-Dreadnought battleship HMS Camperdown at Harwich circa 1910.

According to book "British Battleships" by Oscar Parkes, the Camperdown was prepared as a berthing ship for submarines at Harwich where she lay from October 1908 until sold for breaking-up in July 1911. No submarines were permanently based at Harwich but they frequently used the port. The six submarines in the photograph are C-class boats, C5 (inboard aft), C2 and C6 in the after trot with C7, C8 and C9 in the forward trot. HM submarine C2, the middle boat in the after trot, bears the number C32 on the side of her tower. In the early scheme of numbering the first number of the two digit identifier indicated the class (the Hollands were not included making the A-class “1”, the B-class “2" etc.) and it was followed by the boat’s own number which, in this case is C-class (3) number 2.
In December 1910 all of these boats were attached to Submarine Section III, based on HMS Thames at Sheerness and according to available records the most likely COs were:

C2 – Lt. A. G. Jameson
C5 – Lt. J. T. Tenison
C6 - Lt. V. M. Cooper
C7 - Lt. B. V. Layard
C8 - Lt. R. T. Dimsdale
C9 - Lt. C. S. Benning

According to John Eade (, who is responsible for acquiring the original postcard from a collector in Britain who had bought it from another collector in Texas: "There is an Admiralty document ADM1/8128, dated 5 August 1910 which talks of a large East Coast exercise involving the boats from Harwich."

It may be remembered that HMS Camperdown was the vessel that was involved in the collision with HMS Victoria, off the Lebanon, 22 Jun 1893, which sank with heavy loss of life.

With many thanks to Dave Perkins ©

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