Son of Edward Helman Cooke Sanders and Emma Jane Sanders, of Russell, Bay of Islands, New Zealand.
Attended Nelson Street.
He went to sea on coastal ships around New Zealand. Held Extra Master's Certificate (Mercantile Marine). Kotiti, Hinemoa, Craig Line, Joseph Lane.
When war broke out he went to England and joined the Royal Naval Reserve as a Sub-Lieutenant in April 1916. Served on "Q-ships" which looked like inoffensive sailing vessels but were heavily armed with hidden guns. Their task was to lure German submarines to the surface.
12 February 1917 , Sanders commanded HMS "Prize", which in a successful action in April 1917 destroyed a German Submarine. After the battle he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and awarded the Victoria Cross. Two months later he was involved in another action for which he won a DSO (Distinguished Service Order).
August 14, 1917 The "Prize" was torpedoed and sunk by a German Submarine (U-boat 48). All were lost.
Remembered on the Takapuna War Memorial, The Strand, Takapuna.
Victoria Cross held by the Auckland War Memorial Museum, Auckland, New Zealand. Introduced towards the close of 1914 by the British and French - and later deployed by the Italian and Russians navies - Q-Ships were deployed as an initially although decreasingly successful anti-submarine weapon.Alternatively referred to as Special Service Ships or Mystery Ships, the purpose of Q-Ships was straightforward: to trap enemy (usually German) submarines. Invariably comprised small freighters or old trawlers they were loaded with hidden guns in a collapsible deck structure.In practice U-boats would hail Q-Ships flying (in the case of the Royal Navy) the merchant red ensign and, in the period before the implementation of Germany's policy of unrestricted submarine warfare in 1917, a so-called "panic party" would apparently abandon the Q-Ship prior to the usual German policy of approaching the enemy vessel so as to sink it with the minimum depletion of ammunition. At this stage the use of torpedoes to sink relatively small vessels was officially frowned upon. Thus with the U-boat effectively lured towards the apparently abandoned vessel the Q-Ship would run up the white ensign and the deck structure would be collapsed by the remaining ship's crew revealing a series of up to four manned guns, which would immediately open fire. Initially successful the Q-Ship ploy resulted in the sinking of some 11 enemy U-boats by the British and French.As the war progressed production of Q-Ships notably increased so that by the war's close the British alone deployed 366.However the Germans quickly developed a certain caution in approaching small enemy vessels, wary of decoys. Torpedoes were increasingly used to sink Q-Ships at longer range; and with the introduction of unrestricted submarine warfare the crews of Q-Ships were not given time to abandon ship before being fired upon.The British lost 61 Q-Ships in total.By 1917 the effectiveness of Q-Ship deployment was minimal and the overall endeavour could not be termed a success. (Source = http://www.firstworldwar.com/atoz/qships.htm
Auckland War Memorial Museum Scars on the Heart WWI "Sea Dogs" display includes his Victoria Cross which has a blue ribbon, the DSO and the memorial plaque. Also displayed is a sword presented after the action against U.93 and a quote " I am very sorry to say this business gets on one's nerves. Can you imagine three weeks and over at sea, waiting and watching; we never have our clothes off until we return to base; we never know the pleasure of a real sleep; only snatches of it, it is I assure you, enough to kill an iron man, let alone a human being"
RNR Awarded the VC for action in April 1917 - killed by U-boat when in action aged 34 - Plymouth Naval Memorial VC & DSO AWMM