Sir Conan Doyle's Gift

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Sir Conan Doyle's Gift is an article published in The Daily Mail (Hull) on 9 february 1920.

The article is a detailed report of the naval battle between a British convoy of trawlers led by the Conan Doyle H240 (Skipper: William Addy) versus a German submarine. Arthur Conan Doyle sent a silver cigarette case to William Addy with a congratulation carved on it : "To Skipper William Addy, D. S. C., from Arthur Conan Doyle. In memory of June 20th, 1918." [1].

Sir Conan Doyle's Gift

The Daily Mail (Hull) (9 february 1920, p. 3)



Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has just sent a handsome silver cigarette case, suitably inscribed, Mr William Addy, D.S.C., skipper tho Hull trawler Conan Doyle, which is named after the eminent author. The presentation gift is the sequel to a stirring episode in the war, in which Skipper Addy, with the Conan Doyle, at the head convoy of Hull trawlers, sank German submarine after an action extending about four hours.

Sir Arthur writes the Hull skipper as follows:—

"Dear Addy, — I have only heard recently of the splendid action in which my namesake under your command did such glorious work. should like to congratulate you and the crew, and say how proud I am to any way associated with you. — Yours sincerely, Arthur Conan Doyle."

Skipper Addy, who is one of the young school of trawler skippers, received the D.S.C. at the hands of Admiral Charlton in recognition of his gallant conduct, His home is on the Boulevard, and the vessel belongs to the Newington Steam Co. Incidentally Mr Addy also of the most successful skippers financially.

£10,790 FOR A CATCH.

He holds the world's record for trawler catch, namely £10,790 made by the Conan Doyle in sixteen days' fishing. Previous big figures for single trips by Skipper Addy wore £9,710, £8,400, and £8,532.

Addy went to sea this morning on the trawler Max Pemberton, and the "Mail" had the privilege of accepting a cigarette from the massive presentation case. The skipper was not inclined to speak freely of the stirring fight with the German submarine, but the graphic details are recorded by Lieut. J. F. MacCabe, who states: At 5.30 a.m. the convoy of fishing trawlers was proceeding at 8 knots, when an enemy submarine opened fire on the Conan Doyle, from 7,000 yards. Conan Doyle returned the fire once, and the engagement became general. The convoy took line ahead formation, and the Conan Doyle led the line throughout, the order battle being Conan Doyle, Emperor, Commander Holbrook, Antonio, Bridlington and Aisne, all trawlers. The enemy steered a course parallel to the convoy, firing from three guns at the Conan Doyle. At 5.45 Conan Doyle made a direct hit forward and the enemy ceased fire for about ten minutes and increased speed to close convoy's bow, but the Conan Doyle had altered her course, keeping the submarine more or less abeam.


The enemy kept continual rapid shell fire from all three guns at the Conan Doyle. At 7 o'clock a thick rain storm came on, and hid the enemy for 25 minutes, but when weather cleared the submarine was sighted 7.000 yards off and once opened fire with shrapnel on the Conan Doyle, and tired at the convoy generally. Conan Doyle and other vessels of the convoy used smoke boxes with useful effect. The submarine fired both shell and shrapnel and about 8 a.m. the Aisne was hit several times. As the action progressed, alteration of course brought the enemy more and more under Conan Doyle starboard quarter and he used his superior speed yith a view to closing with the convoy.

At 8.45 Conan Doyle had only 15 rounds left and preparations were made to hoist the signal "Prepare to ram." Just previous to this the Aisne got in a direct hit on the after part of the enemy. Conan Doyle also made a hit below the enemy's forward gun, which disappeared after a burst of flame and smoke. The enemy then ported and fired with his after gun until at 9 a.m. Conan Doyle made another direct hit forward, and below the conning tower.


The submarine was at once hidden in dense cloud of steam and smoke, which lasted about 45 seconds, and when the vapour disappeared there was no sign of the submarine, and the convoy resumed its journey through increasing wind and sea. The submarine was at least feet long, fact, so large was her conning tower, that there was uncertainty at first whether it was submarine. She carried one gun forward and one aft, and also a third, and apparently smaller gun, which gave a peculiar report.

The enemy's shooting was on the whole good Conan Doyle was straddled in the first few rounds, and all the shells fell very close indeed. Altogether the enemy fired about 400 rounds, 100 of which were shrapnel. The lead of the Conan Doyle was followed with skill and promptitude, and the guns were fought in a cool manner.


It was to be regretted that one man was killed and four wounded on the Aisne, which, with most of her deck hands casualties, were handled in able manner Mr William Parish, the skipper. To Skipper Addy, of the Conan Doyle, was the principal credit for the saving of the convoy from enemy with superior speed and armament.

  1. See The Boston Post report: Author Honors Skipper of Ship Named Conan Doyle (14 april 1920).