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Title: Five Months on a German Raider - Being the Adventures of an Englishman Captured by the 'Wolf'
Author: Trayes, Frederic George
Language: English
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Being the Adventures of an Englishman Captured by the "Wolf"



Formerly Principal of the Royal Normal College
Bangkok, Siam

Headley Bros. Publishers, Ltd.
72 Oxford Street
W. 1




                   KIND AND HAPPY MEMORIES
                     OF THEIR COUNTRY AND
                        COUNTRYMEN AS
                          WILL NEVER BE


CHAPTER                                     PAGE


  II. PRISONERS ON THE "WOLF"                 23

 III. BACK TO THE "HITACHI MARU"              37


   V. LIFE ON THE "WOLF"                      66



VIII. RUMOURS AND PLANS                      116


   X. SAVED BY SHIPWRECK                     149

  XI. FREE AT LAST                           166


  CAPTIVITY  (Frontispiece)
                                                        FACING PAGE

  THEIR SHIP HAD BEEN SHELLED                                  22

JAPANESE STEAMSHIP "HITACHI MARU"                              64

THE "IGOTZ MENDI" ASHORE AT SKAGEN                            150

  MENDI" TO BRING OFF THE PRISONERS                           166

  PRISONERS FROM THE "IGOTZ MENDI"                            166


THE COURSE OF THE "WOLF"                                End paper




The S.S. _Hitachi Maru_, 6,716 tons, of the Nippon Yushen Kaisha (Japan
Mail Steamship Co.), left Colombo on September 24, 1917, her entire
ship's company being Japanese. Once outside the breakwater, the rough
weather made itself felt; the ship rolled a good deal and the storms of
wind and heavy rain continued more or less all day. The next day the
weather had moderated, and on the succeeding day, Wednesday, the 26th,
fine and bright weather prevailed, but the storm had left behind a long
rolling swell.

My wife and I were bound for Cape Town, and had joined the ship at
Singapore on the 15th, having left Bangkok, the capital of Siam, a week
earlier. Passengers who had embarked at Colombo were beginning to
recover from their sea-sickness and had begun to indulge in deck games,
and there seemed every prospect of a pleasant and undisturbed voyage to
Delagoa Bay, where we were due on October 7th.

The chart at noon on the 26th marked 508 miles from Colombo, 2,912 to
Delagoa Bay, and 190 to the Equator; only position, not the course,
being marked after the ship left Colombo. Most of the passengers had, as
usual, either dozed on deck or in their cabins after tiffin, my wife and
I being in deck chairs on the port side. When I woke up at 1.45 I saw
far off on the horizon, on the port bow, smoke from a steamer. I was the
only person awake on the deck at the time, and I believe no other
passenger had seen the smoke, which was so far away that it was
impossible to tell whether we were meeting or overtaking the ship.

Immediately thoughts of a raider sprang to my mind, though I did not
know one was out. But from what one could gather at Colombo, no ship was
due at that port on that track in about two days. The streets of Colombo
were certainly darkened at night, and the lighthouse was not in use when
we were there, but there was no mention of the presence of any
suspicious craft in the adjacent waters.

It is generally understood that instructions to Captains in these times
are to suspect every vessel seen at sea, and to run away from all signs
of smoke (and some of us knew that on a previous occasion, some months
before, a vessel of the same line had seen smoke in this neighbourhood,
and had at once turned tail and made tracks for Colombo, resuming her
voyage when the smoke disappeared). The officer on the bridge with his
glass must have seen the smoke long before I did, so my suspicions of a
raider were gradually disarmed as we did not alter our course a single
point, but proceeded to meet the stranger, whose course towards us
formed a diagonal one with ours. If nothing had happened she would have
crossed our track slightly astern of us.

But something did happen. More passengers were now awake, discussing the
nationality of the ship bearing down on us. Still no alteration was made
in our course, and we and she had made no sign of recognition.

Surely everything was all right and there was nothing to fear. Even the
Japanese commander of the gun crew betrayed no anxiety on the matter,
but stood with the passengers on the deck watching the oncoming
stranger. Five bells had just gone when the vessel, then about seven
hundred yards away from us, took a sudden turn to port and ran up
signals and the German Imperial Navy flag. There was no longer any
doubt--the worst had happened. We had walked blindly into the open arms
of the enemy. The signals were to tell us to stop. We did not stop. The
raider fired two shots across our bows, and they fell into the sea quite
close to where most of the passengers were standing. Still we did not
stop. It was wicked to ignore these orders and warnings, as there was no
possible chance of escape from an armed vessel of any kind. The attempt
to escape had been left too late; it should have been made immediately
the smoke of the raider was seen. Most of the passengers went to their
cabins for life-belts and life-saving waistcoats, and at once returned
to the deck to watch the raider. As we were still steaming and had not
even yet obeyed the order to stop, the raider opened fire on us in dead
earnest, firing a broadside.

While the firing was going on, a seaplane appeared above the raider;
some assert that she dropped bombs in front of us, but personally I did
not see this.

The greatest alarm now prevailed on our ship, and passengers did not
know where to go to avoid the shells which we could hear and feel
striking the ship. My wife and I returned to our cabin to fetch an extra
pair of spectacles, our passports, and my pocketbook, and at the same
time picked up her jewel-case. The alley-way between the companion-way
and our cabin was by this time strewn with splinters of wood and glass
and wreckage; pieces of shell had been embedded in the panelling and a
large hole made in the funnel. This damage had been done by a single
shot aimed at the wireless room near the bridge.

We returned once more to the port deck, where most of the first-class
passengers had assembled waiting for orders--which never came. No
instructions came from the Captain or officers or crew; in fact, we
never saw any of the ship's officers until long after all the lifeboats
were afloat on the sea.

The ship had now stopped, and the firing had apparently ceased, but we
did not know whether it would recommence, and of course imagined the
Germans were firing to sink the ship. It was useless trying to escape
the shots, as we did not then know at what part of the ship the Germans
were firing, so there was only one thing for the passengers to do--to
leave the ship as rapidly as possible, as we all thought she was
sinking. Some of the passengers attempted to go on the bridge to get to
the boat deck and help lower the boats, as it seemed nothing was being
done, but we were ordered back by the Second Steward, who, apparently
alone among the ship's officers, kept his head throughout.

No. 1 boat was now being lowered on the port side; it was full of
Japanese and Asiatics. When it was flush with the deck the falls broke,
the boat capsized, and with all its occupants it was thrown into the
sea. One or two, we afterwards heard, were drowned. The passengers now
went over to the starboard side, as apparently no more boats were being
lowered from the port side, and we did not know whether the raider would
start firing again. The No. 1 starboard boat was being lowered; still
there was no one to give orders. The passengers themselves saw to it
that the women got into this boat first, and helped them in, only the
Second Steward standing by to help. The women had to climb the rail and
gangway which was lashed thereto, and the boat was so full of gear and
tackle that at first it was quite impossible for any one to find a seat
in the boat. It was a difficult task for any woman to get into this
boat, and everybody was in a great hurry, expecting the firing to
recommence, or the ship to sink beneath us, or both; my wife fell in,
and in so doing dropped her jewel-case out of her handbag into the
bottom of the boat, and it was seen no more that day. The husbands
followed their wives into the boat, and several other men among the
first-class passengers also clambered in.

Directly after the order to lower away was given, and before any one
could settle in the boat, the stern falls broke, and for a second the
boat hung from the bow falls vertically, the occupants hanging on to
anything they could--a dreadful moment, especially in view of what we
had seen happen to the No. 1 port boat a few moments before. Then,
immediately afterwards, the bow falls broke, or were cut, the boat
dropped into the water with a loud thud and a great splash, and righted
itself. We were still alongside the ship when another boat was being
swung out and lowered immediately on to our heads. We managed to push
off just in time before the other boat, the falls of which also broke,
reached the water.

Thus, there was no preparation made for accidents--we might have been
living in the times of profoundest peace for all the trouble that had
been taken to see that everything was ready in case of accident. Instead
of which, nothing was ready--not a very creditable state of affairs for
a great steamship company in times such as these, when, thanks to the
Huns' ideas of sea chivalry, _any_ ship may have to be abandoned at a
moment's notice. Some passengers had asked for boat drill when the ship
left Singapore, but were told there was no need for it, or for any
similar preparations till after Cape Town, which, alas, never was
reached. Accordingly passengers had no places given to them in the
boats; the boats were not ready, and confusion, instead of order,
prevailed. It was nothing short of a miracle that more people were not

If the ship had only stopped when ordered by signals to do so, there
would have been no firing at all. Even if she had stopped after the
warning shots had been fired, no more firing would have taken place and
nobody need have left the ship at all. What a vast amount of trouble,
fear, anxiety, and damage to life and property might have been saved if
only the raider's orders had been obeyed! It seemed too, at the time,
that if only the _Hitachi_ had turned tail and bolted directly the
raider's smoke was seen on the horizon by the officer on watch on the
bridge--at the latest this must have been about 1.30--she might have
escaped altogether, as she was a much quicker boat than the German. At
any rate, she might have tried. Her fate would have been no worse if she
had failed to escape, for surely even the Germans could not deny any
ship the right to escape if she could effect it. Certainly the seaplane
might have taken up the chase, and ordered the _Hitachi_ to stop. We
heard afterwards that one ship--the _Wairuna_, from New Zealand to San
Francisco--had been caught in this way. The seaplane had hovered over
her, dropped messages on her deck ordering her to follow the plane to a
concealed harbour near, failing which bombs would be dropped to explode
the ship. Needless to say, the ship followed these instructions.

"There was no panic, and the women were splendid." How often one has
read that in these days of atrocity at sea! We were to realize it now;
the women were indeed splendid. There was no crying or screaming or
hysteria, or wild inquiries. They were perfectly calm and collected:
none of them showed the least fear, even under fire. The women took the
matter as coolly as if being shelled and leaving a ship in lifeboats
were nothing much out of the ordinary. Their sang-froid was marvellous.

As we thought the ship was slowly sinking, we pushed off from her side
as quickly as possible. There were now four lifeboats in the water at
some distance from each other. The one in which we were contained about
twenty-four persons. There was no officer or member of the crew with us,
while another boat contained officers and sailors only. No one in our
boat knew where we were to go or what we were to do. One passenger
wildly suggested that we should hoist a sail and set sail for Colombo,
two days' _steaming_ away! Search was made for provisions and water in
our boat, but she was so full of people and impedimenta that nothing
could be found. It _was_ found, however, that water was rapidly coming
into the boat, and before long it reached to our knees. The hole which
should have been plugged could not be discovered, so for more than an
hour some of the men took turns at pulling, and baling the water out
with their sun-helmets. This was very hot work, as it must be remembered
we were not far from the Equator. Ultimately, however, the hole was
found and more or less satisfactorily plugged. Water, however, continued
to come in, so baling had still to be proceeded with. An Irish Tommy,
going home from Singapore to join up, was in our boat. He was most
cheerful and in every way helpful, working hard and pulling all the
time. It was he who plugged the hole, and as he was almost the only one
among us who seemed to have any useful knowledge about the management of
lifeboats, we were very glad to reckon him among our company.

The four boats were now drifting aimlessly about over the sea, when an
order was shouted to us, apparently from a Japanese officer in one of
the other boats, to tie up with the other three boats. After some time
this was accomplished, and the four boats in line drifted on the water.
The two steamers had stopped; we did not know what was happening on
board either of them, but saw the raider's motor launch going between
the raider and her prize, picking up some of the men who had fallen into
the sea when the boat capsized. Luckily, the sharks with which these
waters are infested had been scared off by the gunfire. We realized,
when we were in the lifeboats, what a heavy swell there was on the sea,
as both steamers were occasionally hidden from us when we were in the
trough of the waves. We were, however, not inconvenienced in any way by
the swell, and the lifeboats shipped no water. There was no one in
command of any of the boats, and we simply waited to see what was going
to happen.

What a sudden, what a dramatic change in our fortunes! One that easily
might have been, might even yet be, tragic. At half-past one, less than
two hours before, we were comfortably on board a fine ship, absolutely
unsuspicious of the least danger. If any of us had thought of the matter
at all, we probably imagined we were in the safest part of the ocean.
But, at three o'clock, here we were, having undergone the trying ordeal
of shell-fire in the interval, drifting helplessly in lifeboats in
mid-ocean, all our personal belongings left behind in what we imagined
to be a sinking ship, not knowing what fate was in store for us, but
naturally, remembering what we had heard of German sea outrages,
dreading the very worst.


From an enlargement of photo taken on the _Wolf_ by a German officer.]



Escape in any way was obviously out of the question. At last the raider
got under way and began to bear down on us. Things began to look more
ugly than ever, and most of us thought that the end had come, and that
we were up against an apostle of the "sink the ships and leave no trace"
theory--which we had read about in Colombo only a couple of days
before--the latest development of "frightfulness." Our minds were not
made easier by the seaplane circling above us, ready, as we thought, to
administer the final blow to any who might survive being fired on by the
raider's guns. It was a most anxious moment for us all, and opinions
were very divided as to what was going to happen. One of the ladies
remarked that she had no fear, and reminded us that we were all in God's
hands, which cheered up some of the drooping hearts and anxious minds.
Certainly most of us thought we were soon to look our last upon the
world; what other thoughts were in our minds, as we imagined our last
moments were so near, will remain unrecorded.

However, to our intense relief, nothing of what we had feared happened,
and as the raider came slowly nearer to us--up till now we had not even
seen one of the enemy--an officer on the bridge megaphoned us to come
alongside. This we did; three boats went astern, and the one in which we
were remained near the raider's bows. An officer appeared at the
bulwarks and told us to come aboard; women first, then their husbands,
then the single men. There was no choice but to obey, but we all felt
uneasy in our minds as to what kind of treatment our women were to
receive at the hands of the Germans on board.

The ship was rolling considerably, and it is never a pleasant or easy
task for a landsman, much less a landswoman, to clamber by a rope-ladder
some twenty feet up the side of a rolling ship. However, all the ladies
acquitted themselves nobly, some even going up without a rope round
their waists. The little Japanese stewardess, terrified, but showing a
brave front to the enemy, was the last woman to go up before the men's
ascent began. Two German sailors stood at the bulwarks to help us off
the rope-ladder into the well deck forward, and by 5.20 we were all
aboard, after having spent a very anxious two hours, possibly the most
anxious in the lives of most of us. We were all wet, dirty, and
dishevelled, and looked sorry objects. One of the passengers, a tall,
stout man, was somewhat handicapped by his nether garments slipping down
and finally getting in a ruck round his ankles when he was climbing up
the ladder on to the raider. A German sailor, to ease his passage, went
down the ladder and relieved him of them altogether. He landed on the
raider's deck minus this important part of his wardrobe, amid shrieks of
laughter from captives and captors.

It was at once evident, directly we got on board, that we were in for
kindly treatment. The ship's doctor at once came forward, saluted, and
asked who was wounded and required his attention. Most of the
passengers--there were only twenty first and about a dozen second
class--were in our boat, and among the second-class passengers with us
were a few Portuguese soldiers going from Macao to Delagoa Bay.

Some of us were slightly bruised, and all were shaken, but luckily none
required medical treatment. Chairs were quickly found for the ladies,
the men seated themselves on the hatch, and the German sailors busied
themselves bringing tea and cigarettes to their latest captives. We were
then left to ourselves for a short time on deck, and just before dark a
spruce young Lieutenant came up to me, saluted, and asked me to tell all
the passengers that we were to follow him and go aft. We followed him
along the ship, which seemed to be very crowded, to the well deck aft,
where we met the remaining few passengers and some of the crew of the
_Hitachi_. We had evidently come across a new type of Hun. The young
Lieutenant was most polite, and courteous and attentive. He apologized
profusely for the discomfort which the ladies and ourselves would have
to put up with--"But it is war, you know, and your Government is to
blame for allowing you to travel when they know a raider is
out"--assured us he would do what he could to make us as comfortable as
possible, and that we should not be detained more than two or three
days. This was the first of a countless number of lies told us by the
Germans as to their intentions concerning us.

We had had nothing to eat since tiffin, so we were ordered below to the
'tween decks to have supper. We clambered down a ladder to partake of
our first meal as prisoners. What a contrast to the last meal we enjoyed
on the _Hitachi_, taken in comfort and apparent security! (But, had we
known it, we were doomed even then, for the raider's seaplane had been
up and seen us at 11 a.m., had reported our position to the raider, and
announced 3 p.m. as the time for our capture. Our captors were not far
out! It was between 2.30 and 3 when we were taken.) The meal consisted
of black bread and raw ham, with hot tea in a tin can, into which we
dipped our cups. We sat around on wooden benches, in a small
partitioned-off space, and noticed that the crockery on which the food
was served had been taken from other ships captured--one of the Burns
Philp Line, and one of the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand. Some
of the Japanese officers and crew were also in the 'tween decks--later
on the Japanese Captain appeared (we had not seen him since he left the
_Hitachi_ saloon after tiffin), and he was naturally very down and
distressed--and some of the German sailors came and spoke to us. Shortly
after, the young Lieutenant came down and explained why the raider,
which the German sailors told us was the _Wolf_, had fired on us. We
then learnt for the first time that many persons had been killed
outright by the firing--another direct result of the _Hitachi's_ failure
to obey the raider's orders to stop. It was impossible to discover how
many. There must have been about a dozen, as the total deaths numbered
sixteen, all Japanese or Indians; the latest death from wounds occurred
on October 28th, while one or two died while we were on the _Wolf_. The
Lieutenant, who we afterwards learnt was in charge of the prisoners,
told us that the _Wolf_ had signalled us to stop, and not to use our
wireless or our gun, for the _Hitachi_ mounted a gun on her poop for the
submarine zone. He asserted that the _Hitachi_ hoisted a signal that she
understood the order, but that she tried to use her wireless, that she
brought herself into position to fire on the _Wolf_, and that
preparations were being made to use her gun. If the _Hitachi_ had
manoeuvred at all, it was simply so that she should not[1] present her
broadside as a target for a torpedo from the raider.

The Germans professed deep regret at the _Hitachi's_ action and at the
loss of life caused, the first occasion, they said--and, we believe,
with truth--on which lives had been lost since the _Wolf's_ cruise
began. The _Wolf_, however, they said, had no choice but to fire and
put the _Hitachi_ gun out of action. This she failed to do, as the
shooting was distinctly poor, with the exception of the shot aimed at
the wireless room, which went straight through the room, without
exploding there or touching the operator, and exploded near the funnel,
killing most of the crew who met their deaths while running to help
lower the boats. The other shots had all struck the ship in the
second-class quarters astern. One had gone right through the cabin of
the Second Steward, passing just over his bunk--where he had been asleep
a minute before--and through the side of the ship. Others had done great
damage to the ship's structure aft, but none had gone anywhere near the
gun or ammunition house on the poop. I saw afterwards some photos the
Germans had taken of the gun as they said they found it when they went
on board. These photos showed the gun with the breech open, thus
proving, so the Germans said, that the Japanese had been preparing to
use the gun. In reality, of course, it proved nothing of the sort; it is
more than likely that the Germans opened the breech themselves before
they took this photograph, as they had to produce some evidence to
justify their firing on the _Hitachi_. But whether the Japanese opened
the gun breech and prepared to use the gun or not, it is quite certain
that the _Hitachi_ never fired a shot at the _Wolf_, though the Germans
have since asserted that she did so. It was indeed very lucky for us
that she did not fire--had she done so and even missed the _Wolf_, it is
quite certain the _Wolf_ would have torpedoed the _Hitachi_ and sent us
to the bottom.

It was very hot in the 'tween decks, although a ventilating fan was at
work there, and after our meal we were all allowed to go on deck for
some fresh air. About eight o'clock, however, the single men of military
age were again sent below for the night, while the married couples and a
few sick and elderly men were allowed to remain on deck, which armed
guards patrolled all night. It was a cool moonlight night. We had
nothing but what we stood up in, so we lay down in chairs as we were,
and that night slept--or rather did not sleep--under one of the _Wolf's_
guns. Throughout the night we were steaming gently, and from time to
time we saw the _Hitachi_ still afloat, and steaming along at a
considerable distance from us. During the night, one of the passengers
gifted with a highly cultivated imagination--who had previously related
harrowing details of his escape from a shell which he said had smashed
his and my cabin immediately after we left them, but which were
afterwards found to be quite intact--told me he had seen the _Hitachi_
go down at 2.30 in the morning. So she evidently must have come up
again, for she was still in sight just before daybreak! Soon after
daybreak next morning, the men were allowed to go aft under the poop for
a wash, with a very limited supply of water, and the ladies had a
portion of the 'tween decks to themselves for a short time. Breakfast,
consisting of black bread, canned meat, and tea, was then brought to us
on deck by the German sailors, and we were left to ourselves on the well
deck for some time. The Commander sent down a message conveying his
compliments to the ladies, saying he hoped they had had a good night and
were none the worse for their experiences. He assured us all that we
should be in no danger on his ship and that he would do what he could to
make us as comfortable as possible under the circumstances. But, we were
reminded again, this is war. Indeed it was, and we had good reason to
know it now, even if the war had not touched us closely before.

How vividly every detail of this scene stands out in our memories! The
brilliant tropical sunshine, the calm blue sea, the ship crowded in
every part, the activity everywhere evident, and--we were prisoners! The
old familiar petition of the Litany, "to shew Thy pity upon all
prisoners and captives," had suddenly acquired for us a fuller meaning
and a new significance. What would the friends we had left behind, our
people at home, be thinking--if they only knew! But they were in
blissful ignorance of our fate--communication of any kind with the world
outside the little one of the _Wolf_ was quite impossible.

There seemed to be literally hundreds of prisoners on and under the
poop, and the whole ship, as far as we could see, presented a scene of
the greatest activity. Smiths were at work on the well deck, with
deafening din hammering and cutting steel plates with which to repair
the _Hitachi_; mechanics were working at the seaplane, called the
_Wölfchen_, which was kept on the well deck between her flights;
prisoners were exercising on the poop, and the armed guards were
patrolling constantly among them and near us on the well deck. The
guards wore revolvers and side-arms, but did not appear at all
particular in the matter of uniform. Names of various ships appeared on
their caps, while some had on their caps only the words "Kaiserliche
Marine." Some were barefoot, some wore singlets and shorts, while some
even dispensed with the former. Most of the crew at work wore only
shorts, and, as one of the lady prisoners remarked, the ship presented a
rather unusual exhibition of the European male torso! There seemed to
have been a lavish distribution of the Iron Cross among the ship's
company. Every officer we saw and many of the crew as well wore the
ribbon of the coveted decoration.

Some German officers came aft to interrogate us; they were all courteous
and sympathetic, and I took the opportunity of mentioning to the young
Lieutenant the loss of my wife's jewels in the lifeboat, and he assured
me he would have the boat searched, and if the jewels were found they
should be restored.

The Japanese dhobi had died from wounds during the night, and he was
buried in the morning; nearly all the German officers, from the
Commander downwards, attending in full uniform. The Japanese Captain and
officers also attended, and some kind of funeral service in Japanese was

Officers and men were very busy on the upper deck--we were much
impressed by the great number of men on board--and we noticed a lady
prisoner, a little girl--evidently a great pet with the German sailors
and officers--some civilian prisoners, and some military prisoners in
khaki on the upper deck, but we were not allowed to communicate with
them. There were also a few Tommies in khaki among the prisoners aft. It
was very hot on the well deck, and for some hours we had no shelter from
the blazing sun. Later on, a small awning was rigged up and we got a
little protection, and one or two parasols were forthcoming for the use
of the ladies. A small wild pig, presumably taken from some Pacific
island when the _Wolf_ had sent a boat ashore, was wandering around the
well deck, a few dachshunds were wriggling along the upper deck, and a
dozen or so pigeons had their home on the boat deck. During the morning
the sailors were allowed to bring us cooling drinks from time to time in
one or two glass jugs (which the Asiatics and Portuguese always made a
grab at first), and both officers and men did all they could to render
our position as bearable as possible. The men amongst us were also
allowed to go to the ship's canteen and buy smokes. We were steaming
gently in a westerly direction all day, occasionally passing quite close
to some small islands and banks of sand, a quite picturesque scene. The
sea was beautifully calm and blue, and on the shores of these banks, to
which we sailed quite close, the water took on colours of exquisite hues
of the palest and tenderest blue and green, as it rippled gently over
coral and golden sands.

Tiffin, consisting of rice, and bacon and beans, was dealt out to us on
deck at midday, and the afternoon passed in the same way as the morning.
The _Wolf's_ chief officer, a hearty, elderly man, came aft to speak to
us. He chaffed us about our oarsmanship in the lifeboats, saying the
appearance of our oars wildly waving reminded him of the sails of a
windmill. "Never use your wireless or your gun," he said, "and you'll
come to no harm from a German raider."

The long hot day seemed endless, but by about five o'clock the two ships
arrived in an atoll, consisting of about fifteen small islands, and the
_Hitachi_ there dropped anchor. The _Wolf_ moved up alongside, and the
two ships were lashed together. Supper, consisting of tinned fruit and
rice, was served out at 5.30, and we were then told that the married
couples and one or two elderly men were to return to the _Hitachi_ that
night. So with some difficulty we clambered from the upper deck of the
_Wolf_ to the boat deck of the _Hitachi_ and returned to find our cabins
just as we had left them in a great hurry the day before. We had not
expected to go on board the _Hitachi_ again, and never thought we should
renew acquaintance with our personal belongings. We ourselves were
particularly sad about this, as we had brought away from Siam, after
twenty years' residence there, many things which would be quite
irreplaceable. We were therefore very glad to know they were not all
lost to us. But we congratulated ourselves that the greater part of our
treasures gathered there had been left behind safely stored in the Bank
and in a go-down in Bangkok.



The _Hitachi_ was now a German ship, the Prize Captain was in command,
and German sailors replaced the Japanese, who had all been transferred
to the _Wolf_. The German Captain spoke excellent English, and expressed
a wish to do all he could to make us as comfortable on board as we had
been before. He also told us to report at once to him if anything were
missing from our cabins. (He informed us later that he had lived some
years in Richmond--he evidently knew the neighbourhood quite well--and
that he had been a member of the Richmond Tennis Club!) There was of
course considerable confusion on board; the deck was in a state of dirt
and chaos, littered with books and chairs, and some parts of it were an
inch or two deep in water, and we found next morning that the bathrooms
and lavatories were not in working order, as the pipes supplying these
places had been shot away when the ship was shelled. This state of
affairs prevailed for the next few days, and the men passengers
themselves had to do what was necessary in these quarters and haul
sea-water aboard. The next morning the transference of coal, cargo, and
ship's stores from the _Hitachi_ to the _Wolf_ began, and went on
without cessation day and night for the next five days. One of the
German officers came over and took photos of the passengers in groups,
and others frequently took snapshots of various incidents and of each
other on different parts of the ship.

We know now that we were then anchored _in a British possession_, one of
the southernmost groups of the Maldive Islands! Some of the islands were
inhabited, and small sailing boats came out to the _Wolf_, presumably
with provisions of some kind. We were, of course, not allowed to speak
to any of the islanders, who came alongside the _Wolf_, and were not
allowed alongside the _Hitachi_. On one occasion even, the doctor of the
_Wolf_ went in the ship's motor launch to one of the islands to attend
the wife of one of the native chiefs! On the next day--the 28th--all the
_Hitachi_ passengers returned on board her, and at the same time some of
the Japanese stewards returned, but they showed no inclination to work
as formerly. Indeed, the German officers had no little difficulty in
dealing with them. They naturally felt very sore at the deaths of so
many of their countrymen at the hands of the Germans, and they did as
little work as possible. The stewards were said to be now paid by the
Germans, but as they were no longer under the command of their own
countrymen, they certainly did not put themselves out to please their
new masters.

With their usual thoroughness, the Germans one day examined all our
passports and took notes of our names, ages, professions, maiden names
of married ladies, addresses, and various other details. My passport
described me as "Principal of Training College for Teachers." So I was
forthwith dubbed "Professor" by the Germans, and from this time
henceforth my wife and I were called Frau Professor and Herr Professor,
and this certainly led the sailors to treat us with more respect than
they might otherwise have done. One young man, who had on his passport
his photo taken in military uniform, was, however, detained on the
_Wolf_ as a military prisoner. He was asked by a German officer if he
were going home to fight. He replied that he certainly was, and pluckily
added, "I wish I were fighting now."

On October 1st the married prisoners from the _Wolf_, together with
three Australian civilian prisoners over military age, a Colonel of the
Australian A.M.C., a Major of the same corps, and his wife, with an
Australian stewardess, some young boys, and a few old sea captains and
mates, were sent on board the _Hitachi_. They had all been taken off
earlier prizes captured and sunk by the _Wolf_. The Australians had been
captured on August 6th from the s.s.[2] _Matunga_ from Sydney to what
was formerly German New Guinea, from which latter place they had been
only a few hours distant. An American captain, with his wife and little
girl, had been captured on the barque _Beluga_, from San Francisco to
Newcastle, N.S.W., on July 9th. All the passengers transferred were
given cabins on board the _Hitachi_. We learnt from these passengers
that the _Wolf_ was primarily a mine-layer, and that she had laid mines
at Cape Town, Bombay, Colombo, and off the Australian and New Zealand
coasts. She had sown her last crop of mines, 110 in number, off the
approaches to Singapore before she proceeded to the Indian Ocean to lie
in wait for the _Hitachi_. Altogether she had sown five hundred mines.

During her stay in the Maldives the _Wolf_ sent up her seaplane--or, as
the Germans said, "the bird"--every morning about six, and she returned
about eight. To all appearances the coast was clear, and the _Wolf_
consequently anticipated no interference or unwelcome attention from any
of our cruisers. Two of them, the _Venus_ and the _Doris_, we had seen
at anchor in Colombo harbour during our stay there, but it was
apparently thought not worth while to send any escort with the
_Hitachi_, though the value of her cargo was said to run into millions
sterling; and evidently the convoy system had not yet been adopted in
Eastern waters. A Japanese cruiser was also in Colombo harbour when we
arrived there, preceded by mine-sweepers, on September 24th. The
_Hitachi_ Captain and senior officers visited her before she sailed away
on the 25th. The Germans on the _Wolf_ told us that they heard her
wireless call when later on she struck one of their mines off Singapore,
but the Japanese authorities have since denied that one of their
cruisers struck a mine there.

The _Wolf_ remained alongside us till the morning of October 3rd, when
she sailed away at daybreak, leaving us anchored in the centre of the
atoll. It was a great relief to us when she departed; she kept all the
breeze off our side of the ship, so that the heat in our cabin was
stifling, and it was in addition very dark; the noise of coaling and
shifting cargo was incessant, and the roaring of the water between the
two ships most disturbing. Before she sailed away the Prize Captain
handed to my wife most of her jewels which had been recovered from the
bottom of our lifeboat. As many of these were Siamese jewellery and
unobtainable now, we were very rejoiced to obtain possession of them
again, but many rings were missing and were never recovered.

The falls of the lifeboats were all renewed, and on October 5th we had
places assigned to us in the lifeboats, and rules and regulations were
drawn up for the "detained enemy subjects" on board the _Hitachi_. They
were as follows:--


     1. Everybody on board is under martial law, and any offence
     is liable to be punished by same.

     2. All orders given by the Commander, First Officer, or any
     of the German crew on duty are to be strictly obeyed.

     3. After the order "Schiff abblenden" every evening at
     sunset no lights may be shown on deck or through portholes,
     etc., that are visible from outside.

     4. The order "Alle Mann in die Boote" will be made known by
     continuous ringing of the ship's bell and sounding of
     gongs. Everybody hurries to his boat with the lifebelt and
     leaves the ship. Everybody is allowed to take one small bag
     previously packed.

     5. Nobody is allowed to go on the boat deck beyond the
     smoke-room. All persons living in first-class cabins are to
     stay amidships, and are not allowed to go aft without
     special permission; all persons living aft are to stay aft.

     6. The Japanese crew is kept only for the comfort of the
     one-time passengers, and is to be treated considerately, as
     they are also d.e.s.

     7. The d.e.s. are not allowed to talk with the crew.

     At sea, October 6, 1917.
                Kommando S.M.H. _Hitachi Maru_,
                                    C. ROSE,
                              _Lt. z. See & Kommandant_.

Lieutenant Rose very kindly told me that as I was leaving the East for
good and therefore somewhat differently situated from the other
passengers, he would allow me to take in the lifeboat, in addition to a
handbag, a cabin trunk packed with the articles from Siam I most wanted
to save.

It was evident from this that the Germans intended sinking the ship if
we came across a British or Allied war vessel. We were of course
unarmed, as the Germans had removed the _Hitachi_ gun to the _Wolf_, but
the German Captain anticipated no difficulty on this score, and assured
me that it was the intention of the Commander of the _Wolf_ that we
should be landed in a short time with all our baggage at a neutral port
with a stone pier. We took this to mean a port in either Sumatra or
Java, and we were buoyed up with this hope for quite a considerable
time. But, alas, like many more of the assurances given to us, it was
quite untrue.

There were now on board 131 souls, of whom twenty-nine were passengers.
On Saturday, October 6th, the seaplane returned in the afternoon and
remained about half an hour, when she again flew away. She brought a
message of evidently great importance, for whereas it had been the
intention of our Captain to sail away on the following afternoon, he
weighed anchor the next morning and left the atoll. He had considerable
trouble with the anchor before starting, and did not get away till
nearly eight o'clock, instead of at daybreak. Evidently something was
coming to visit the atoll; though it was certain nothing could be
looking for us, as our capture could not then have been known, and there
could have been no communication between the Maldives and Ceylon, or the
mainland. Before and for some days after we sailed, the ship was cleaned
and put in order, the cargo properly stowed, and the bunkers trimmed by
the German crew, aided by some neutrals who had been taken prisoner
from other ships. Some of the sailors among the prize crew were good
enough to give us some pieces of the _Wolf's_ shrapnel found on the
_Hitachi_, relics which were eagerly sought after by the passengers.

The passengers were now under armed guards, but were at perfect liberty
to do as they pleased, and the relations between them and the German
officers and crew were quite friendly. Deck games were indulged in as
before our capture, and the German Captain took part in them. Time,
nevertheless, hung very heavily on our hands, but many a pleasant hour
was spent in the saloon with music and singing. One of the Australian
prisoners was a very good singer and pianist, and provided very
enjoyable entertainment for us. The Captain, knowing that I had some
songs with me, one afternoon asked me to sing. I was not feeling like
singing, so I declined. "Shot at dawn!" he said. "Ready now," I replied.
"No!" said he. "I can't oblige you now. Either at dawn, for disobedience
to Captain's orders, or not at all." So it was made the latter! On
Sunday evenings, after the six o'clock "supper," a small party met in
the saloon to sing a few favourite hymns, each one choosing the ones he
or she liked best. This little gathering was looked forward to by those
who took part in it, as it formed a welcome break in the ordinary
monotonous life on board.

The only Japanese left on board were some stewards, cooks, and the
stewardess. A German chief mate and chief engineer replaced the
Japanese, and other posts previously held by the Japanese were filled by
Germans and neutrals. The times of meals were changed, and we no longer
enjoyed the good meals we had had before our capture, as most of the
good food had been transferred to the _Wolf_. _Chota-hazri_ was done
away with, except for the ladies; the meals became much simpler, menus
were no longer necessary, and the Japanese cooks took no more trouble
with the preparation of the food.

However, on the whole we were not so badly off, though on a few
occasions there was really not enough to eat, and some of the meat was
tainted, as the freezing apparatus had got out of order soon after the
ship was captured.

There was no longer any laundry on board, as the dhobi had been killed.
Amateur efforts by some Japanese stewards were not successful, so the
passengers had to do their own washing as best they could. They were
helped in this by some of the young boys sent on board. The walls of
the alley-ways were plastered with handkerchiefs, etc., drying in
Chinese fashion, the alley-ways became drying-rooms for other garments
hung on the rails, and ironing with electric irons was done on the
saloon tables. Some of the men passengers soon became expert ironers.

We steamed gently on a south-westerly course for about five days, and on
the succeeding day, October 12th, changed our course many times, going
north-east at 6.30 a.m., south-east at 12.30 p.m., north-east again at 4
p.m., and north at 6.30 p.m., evidently waiting for something and
killing time, as we were going dead slow all day. The next morning we
had stopped entirely; we sighted smoke at 10.20 a.m.--it was, of course,
the _Wolf_, met by appointment at that particular time and place. She
came abreast of us about 11.20 a.m., and we sailed on parallel courses
for the rest of the day. She was unaccompanied by a new prize, and we
were glad to think she had been unsuccessful in her hunt for further
prey. She remained in company with us all next day, Sunday, and about 5
p.m. moved closer up, and after an exchange of signals we both changed
courses and the _Wolf_ sheered off, and to our great relief we saw her
no more for several days. There was always the hope that when away from
us she would be seen and captured by an Allied cruiser, and always the
fear that, failing such happy consummation, when she came back to us we
might again be put on board her. The Germans seemed to have a perfect
mania for taking photographs--we were, of course, not allowed to take
any, and cameras were even taken away from us--and one day Lieutenant
Rose showed me photos of various incidents of the _Wolf's_ cruise,
including those of the sinkings of various ships. I asked him how he, a
sailor, felt when he saw good ships being sent to the bottom. Did he
feel no remorse, no regret? He admitted he did, but the Germans, he
said, had no choice in the matter. They had no port to which they could
take their prizes--this, of course, was the fault of the British! (I
saw, too, on this day a photo of the _Hitachi_ flying the German flag,
and one showing the damage sustained by her from the _Wolf's_ firing.
There were ugly holes in the stern quarters, but all above the
water-line.) The German officers would take with them to Germany
hundreds of pictures giving a complete photographic record of the
_Wolf's_ expedition.

We cruised about again after the _Wolf_ had left us for a couple of
days, and on the 17th were stationary all day. Several sharks were seen
around the ship, and the German sailors caught two or three fairly large
ones during the day and got them on board. One particularly ravenous
shark made off with the bait three times, and was dragged halfway up the
ship's side on each occasion. So greedy was he that he returned to the
charge for the fourth time, seized the bait, and was this time
successfully hauled on board. On the 18th the sea was rough, and we were
gently steaming to keep the ship's head to the seas, and on the
following day we again changed our course many times. Saturday morning,
October 20th, again saw the _Wolf_ in sight at 6.30. She was still
alone, and we proceeded on parallel courses, passing about midday a few
white reefs with breakers sweeping over them. Shortly after, we came in
sight of many other reefs, most of which were quite bare, but there were
a few trees and a little vegetation on the largest of them, and at 2
p.m. we anchored, and the _Wolf_ tied up alongside us at a snug and
sheltered spot. We were almost surrounded by large and small coral
reefs, against which we could see and hear the breakers dashing. It was
a beautiful anchorage, and the waters were evidently well known to the
Germans. Some of the seafaring men amongst us told us we were in the
Cargados Carajos Reef, south-east of the Seychelles, and that we were
anchored near the Nazareth Bank.



So confident did the Germans feel of their security that they stayed in
this neighbourhood from October 20th to November 7th, only once--on
October 28th--moving a few hundred yards away from their original
anchorage, and although a most vigilant lookout was kept from the crow's
nest on the _Wolf_, the seaplane was not sent up once to scout during
the whole of that time. Coal, cargo, and stores were transferred from
the _Hitachi_ to the _Wolf_, and the work went on day and night with
just as much prospect of interference as there would have been if the
_Wolf_ had been loading cargo from a wharf in Hamburg in peace-time. The
coolness and impudence of the whole thing amazed us.

But one day, October 22nd, was observed as a holiday. It was Lieutenant
Rose's birthday, and, incidentally, the Kaiserin's also. So no loading
or coaling was done, but the band on the _Wolf_--most of the members
with the minimum of clothing and nearly all with faces and bodies black
with coal-dust--lined up and gave a musical performance of German
patriotic airs.

Every day we looked, but in vain, for signs of help in the shape of a
friendly cruiser, but the Germans proceeded with their high-seas robbery
undisturbed and unalarmed. The _Hitachi_ had a valuable cargo of rubber,
silk, tea, tin, copper, antimony, hides, cocoa-nut, and general stores,
and it was indeed maddening to see all these cases marked for Liverpool
and London being transferred to the capacious maw of the _Wolf_ for the
use of our enemies. The silk came in very handy--the Germans used a
great deal of it to make new wings for their "bird." The seaplane did
not, of course, take off from the _Wolf's_ deck, which was far too
crowded. She was lowered over the side by means of the winch, and towed
a little distance by the motor launch before rising. On her return she
was taken in tow again by the launch and then lifted aboard to her
quarters. She made some beautiful flights. The Germans told us that when
the _Wolf_ was mine-laying in Australian waters the seaplane made a
flight over Sydney. What a commotion there would have been in the
southern hemisphere if she had launched some of her bolts from the blue
on the beautiful Australian city!

On October 28th a Japanese sailor, wounded at the time of the
_Hitachi's_ capture, died on the _Wolf_. This was the last death from
wounds inflicted on that day. His body was brought over to the
_Hitachi_--once again all the German officers, from the Commander
downwards, including the two doctors, appeared in full uniform to attend
the funeral service. The Japanese Captain and officers also came over
from the _Wolf_, and the body was committed to the sea from the poop of
the _Hitachi_.

We had now been prisoners more than a month, and various rumours came
into circulation about this time as to what was to happen to us. The
most likely thing was, if the _Wolf_ did not secure another prize, that
the _Hitachi_ would be sunk and all of us transferred to the _Wolf_ once
more. It was certain, however, that the Germans did not want us on the
_Wolf_ again, and still more certain that we did not want to go. They
regarded us, especially the women, as a nuisance on board their ship,
which was already more than comfortably full. In addition, some of the
German officers who had before given up their cabins to some of the
married couple prisoners naturally did not want to do so again, as it
meant that all the officers' quarters became very cramped. The German
doctor, too, protested against further crowding of the _Wolf_, but all
these protests were overruled.

There was talk of leaving the _Hitachi_ where she was, with some weeks'
stores on board, with her coal exhausted and her wireless dismantled,
the _Wolf_ to send out a wireless in a few weeks' time as to our
condition and whereabouts. If this had happened, there was further talk
among us of a boat expedition to the Seychelles to effect an earlier
rescue. The expedition would have been in charge of the American
Captain, some of whose crew--neutrals--were helping to work the
_Hitachi_. There was also mentioned another scheme of taking the
_Hitachi_ near Mauritius, sending all her prisoners and German officers
and crew off in boats at nightfall to the island, and then blowing up
the ship. Lieutenant Rose admitted that if he and his crew were interned
in a British possession he knew they would all be well treated. But all
these plans came to nothing, and as day by day went by and the _Wolf_,
for reasons best known to herself, did not go out after another prize,
though the Germans knew and told us what steamers were about--and in
more than one case we knew they were correct--it became evident that
the _Hitachi_ would have to be destroyed, as she had not enough coal to
carry on with, and we should all have to be sent on to the _Wolf_.

But the married men protested vigorously against having their wives put
in danger of shell-fire from a British or Allied cruiser, and on October
30th sent the following petition to the Commander of the _Wolf_:--

     "We, the undersigned detained enemy subjects travelling with
     our wives, some of whom have already been exposed to
     shell-fire, and the remainder to the risk thereof, and have
     suffered many weeks' detention on board, respectfully beg
     that no women be transferred to the auxiliary cruiser,
     thereby exposing them to a repetition of the grave dangers
     they have already run. We earnestly trust that some means
     may be found by which consideration may be shown to all the
     women on board by landing them safely without their
     incurring further peril. We take this opportunity of
     expressing our gratitude for the treatment we have received
     since our capture, and our sincere appreciation of the
     courtesy and consideration shown us by every officer and man
     from your ship with whom we have been brought in contact."

He sent back a verbal message that there was no alternative but to put
us all, women included, on the _Wolf_, as the _Hitachi_ had no coal, but
that they should be landed at a neutral port from the next boat caught,
if she had any coal.

We were still not satisfied with this, and I again protested to our
Captain against what was equivalent to putting our women in a German
first-line trench to be shot by our own people. He replied that we need
have no anxiety on that score. "We know exactly where all your cruisers
are, we pick up all their wireless messages, and we shall never see or
go anywhere near one of them." Whether the Germans did know this, or
hear our ships' wireless I cannot tell, but it is certainly true that we
never, between September and February, saw a British or Allied war
vessel of any sort or kind, or even the smoke of one (with the single
exception to be mentioned later), although during that time we travelled
from Ceylon to the Cape, and the whole length of the Atlantic Ocean from
below 40° S. to the shores of Iceland, and thence across to the shores
of Norway and Denmark. But notwithstanding the Captain's assurance, we
still felt it possible that on the _Wolf_ we might be fired on by an
Allied cruiser, and some of us set about settling up our affairs, and
kept such documents always on our persons, so that if we were killed and
our bodies found by a friendly vessel our last wishes concerning our
affairs might be made known. I wrote my final directions on the blank
sheet of my Letter of Credit on the Hong-Kong and Shanghai Bank, which,
after being cancelled, I now keep as a relic of a most anxious time when
I was a very unwilling guest of the Kaiser's Navy.

The food on the _Hitachi_ was now getting poorer and poorer. There was
no longer any fruit, cheese, vegetables, coffee, or jam. All the eggs
were bad, and when opened protested with a lively squeak; only a very
little butter remained, the beer was reserved for the ship's officers,
iced water and drinks were no longer obtainable, and the meat became
more and more unpleasant. One morning at breakfast, the porridge served
had evidently made more than a nodding acquaintance with some kerosene,
and was consequently quite uneatable. So most of the passengers sent it
away in disgust. But one of them, ever anxious to please his captors,
"wolfed" his allowance notwithstanding. He constantly assured the
Germans that the food was always ample and excellent, no matter how
little or bad it was. When Lieutenant Rose came down to breakfast that
morning, we were all waiting to see what he would do with his kerosene
porridge. He took one spoonful and, amid roars of laughter from us all,
called for the steward to take it away at once. Our hero looked as if he
were sorry he had not done the same! On the _Wolf_ the food was still
poorer, and beri-beri broke out on the raider. A case of typhoid also
appeared on the _Wolf_, and the German doctors thereupon inoculated
every man, woman, and child on both ships against typhoid. We had heard
before of German "inoculations," and some of us had nasty forebodings as
to the results. But protests were of no avail--every one had to submit.
The first inoculation took place on November 1st and the next on
November 11th, and some of the people were inoculated a third time. The
Senior Doctor of the _Wolf_, on hearing that I had come from Siam, told
me that a Siamese Prince had once attended his classes at a German
University. He remembered his name, and, strangely enough, this Prince
was the Head of the University of Siam with which I had so recently been

One night, while the ships were lashed alongside, a great uproar arose
on both ships. The alarm was given, orders were shouted, revolvers and
side-arms were hastily assumed, and sailors commenced rushing and
shouting from all parts of both ships. Most of us were scared, not
knowing what had happened. It appeared that a German sailor had fallen
down between the two ships; his cries, of course, added to the tumult,
but luckily he was dragged up without being much injured. We could not
help wondering, if such a commotion were made at such a small accident,
what would happen if a cruiser came along and the real alarm were given.
The ship would bid fair to become a veritable madhouse--evidently the
nerves of all the Germans were very much on edge. The only thing for the
prisoners to do was to get out of the way as much as possible, and
retire to their cabins.

In addition to the transference of coal and cargo which went on without
cessation, day and night, our ship was gradually being stripped. Bunks
and cabin fittings, heating apparatus, pianos, bookcases, brass and
rubber stair-treads, bed and table linen, ceiling and table electric
fans, clocks, and all movable fittings were transferred to the _Wolf_,
and our ship presented a scene of greater destruction every day. The
Germans were excellent shipbreakers. Much of the cargo could not be
taken on board the _Wolf_; it was not wanted, and there was no room for
it, and some of this, especially some fancy Japanese goods, clothes,
gloves, and toys, was broached by the sailors, and some was left
untouched in the holds. The Prize Captain secured for himself as a
trophy a large picture placed at the head of the saloon stairs of the
_Hitachi_. This represented a beautiful Japanese woodland scene,
embossed and painted on velvet. The Germans said the _Hitachi_ was due
to arrive at her destination between November 4th and November 8th. They
told us she would still do so, but that the destination would be
slightly different--not Liverpool, but Davy Jones's locker! Some of the
prisoners aft had seen several ships sunk by the _Wolf_. They told us
that on more than one such occasion a German officer had gone down among
them whistling "Britannia Rules the Waves." They will perhaps admit by
this time that she does so still, the _Wolf_ notwithstanding!

Longing eyes had been cast on the notice published by the Germans
concerning rules and regulations on board, and most of us determined to
get possession of it. When first fixed on the notice-board it had been
blown down, and recovered by a German sailor. It was then framed and
again exhibited. Later on, it was again taken out of its frame and
pinned up. It remained on the notice-board till the day before the
_Hitachi_ was sunk. After supper that evening I was lucky enough to find
it still there, so removed it, and have kept it as a memento of the time
when I was a "detained enemy subject."

The boats were all lashed down, the hatches the same, and every
precaution taken to prevent wreckage floating away when the vessel was
sunk. On the afternoon of November 5th the Germans shifted all the
passengers' heavy luggage on to the _Wolf_, and we were told we should
have to leave the _Hitachi_ and go on board the _Wolf_ at 1 p.m. the
next day. We were told that our baggage would all be opened and passed
through a fumigating chamber, and that we ourselves would have to be
thoroughly fumigated before being "allowed" to mix with the company on
the _Wolf_. But this part of the programme was omitted.

The _Hitachi_ was now in a sad condition; her glory was indeed departed
and her end very near. We had our last meal in her stripped saloon that
day at noon, and at one o'clock moved over on to the _Wolf_, the German
sailors, aided by some neutrals, carrying our light cabin luggage for
us. The Commander of the _Wolf_ himself superintended our crossing from
one ship to the other, and he had had a gangway specially made for us.
We felt more like prisoners than ever! The crew and their belongings,
the Japanese stewards and theirs, moved over to the _Wolf_ in the
afternoon, and at 5 p.m. on November 6th the _Wolf_ sheered off, leaving
the _Hitachi_ deserted, but for the German Captain and officers, and the
bombing party who were to send her to the bottom next day.

Both ships remained where they were for the night, abreast of and about
four hundred yards distant from each other. At 9 a.m. on November 7th
they moved off and manoeuvred. The Germans did not intend to sink the
_Hitachi_ where she was, but in deep water. To do this they had to sail
some distance from the Nazareth Bank. The _Hitachi_ hoisted the German
Imperial Navy flag, and performed a kind of naval goose-step for the
delectation of the _Wolf_. At 1 p.m. the flag was hauled down, both
ships stopped, and the _Hitachi_ blew off steam for the last time.

There were still a few people on her, and the _Wolf's_ motor launch made
three trips between the two ships before the German Captain and bombing
officer left the _Hitachi_. Three bombs had been placed for her
destruction, one forward outside the ship on the starboard side, one
amidships inside, and one aft on the port side outside the ship. At 1.33
p.m. the Captain arrived alongside the _Wolf_, at 1.34 the first bomb
exploded with a dull subdued roar, sending up a high column of water;
the explosion of the other bombs followed at intervals of a minute, so
that by 1.36 the last bomb had exploded. All on the _Wolf_ now stood
watching the _Hitachi's_ last struggle with the waves, a struggle which,
thanks to her murderers, could have but one end; and the German officers
stood on the _Wolf's_ deck taking photos at different stages of the
tragedy. There the two ships now rested, the murderer and the victim,
alone on the ocean, with no help for the one and no avenging justice for
the other. The _Wolf_ was secure from all interference--nothing could
avert the final tragedy. The many witnesses who would have helped the
victim were powerless; we could but stand and watch with impotent fury
and great sorrow and pity the inevitable fate to which the _Hitachi_ was
doomed, and of which the captors and captives on the _Wolf_ were the
only witnesses. But one man among us refused to look on--the Japanese
Captain refused to be a spectator of the wilful destruction of his ship,
which had so long been his home. Her sinking meant for him the utter
destruction of his hopes and an absolute end to his career. The struggle
was a long one--it was pathetic beyond words to watch it, and there was
a choky feeling in many a throat on the _Wolf_--for some time it even
seemed as if the _Hitachi_ were going to snatch one more victory from
the sea; she seemed to be defying the efforts of the waves to devour
her, as, gently rolling, she shook herself free from the gradually
encroaching water; but she was slowly getting lower in the water, and
just before two o'clock there were signs that she was settling fast. Her
well deck forward was awash; we could see the waves breaking on it;
exactly at two o'clock her bows went under, and soon her funnel was
surrounded with swirling water; it disappeared, and with her propellers
high in the air she dived slowly and slantingly down to her great grave,
and at one minute past two the sea closed over her. Twenty-five minutes
had elapsed since the explosion of the last bomb. The Germans said she
and her cargo were worth a million sterling when she went down.


There was great turmoil on the sea for some time after the ship
disappeared; the ammunition house on the poop floated away, a fair
amount of wreckage also came away, an oar shot up high into the air from
one of the hatches, the sodium lights attached to one of the lifebuoys
ignited and ran along the water, and then the _Wolf_, exactly like a
murderer making sure that the struggles of his victim had finally
ceased, moved away from the scene of her latest crime. Never shall we
forget the tragedy of that last half-hour in the life of the _Hitachi

Thus came to an end the second of the Nippon Yushen Kaisha fleet bearing
the name of _Hitachi Maru_. The original ship of that name had been sunk
by the Russians in the Russo-Japanese War. Our ill-fated vessel had
taken her place. It will savour of tempting Providence if another ship
ever bears her unfortunate name, and no sailor could be blamed for
refusing to sail in her.



Life on the _Wolf_ was very different from life on the _Hitachi_. To
begin with, all the single men of military age from the _Hitachi_ were
accommodated on the 'tween decks, and slept in hammocks which they had
to sling themselves. The elder men among them slept in bunks taken from
the _Hitachi_, but the quarters of all in the 'tween decks were very
restricted; there was no privacy, no convenience, and only a screen
divided the European and Japanese quarters. The condition of our
fellow-countrymen from the _Hitachi_ was now the reverse of enviable,
though it was a great deal better than that of the crews of the captured
ships, who were "accommodated" under the poop--where the Captains and
officers captured had quarters to themselves--and exercised on the poop
and well deck, the port side of which was reserved for the Japanese. The
Germans did not forbid us to enter the quarters where our
fellow-passengers were confined, but it was obvious that they did not
like our doing so, after the lies they had told us concerning the
wonderful alterations made in these quarters for their prisoners'
"comfort." One day I managed to sneak unobserved into the prisoners'
quarters under the poop in the 'tween decks, where hundreds of men were
confined, but I had the misfortune to run up against the Lieutenant in
charge and was promptly ordered out before I could have a good look
round. But I had seen enough! Both the men under the poop and our
fellow-passengers had armed guards over them--those guarding the latter
were good fellows and quite friendly and helpful to their charges.

There were now more than four hundred prisoners on board, mostly
British, some of whom had been captured in the February previous, as the
_Wolf_ had left Germany in November 1916, the _Hitachi_ being the tenth
prize taken. The condition in which these prisoners lived cannot be too
strongly condemned. The heat in the tropics was insufferable, the
overcrowding abominable, and on the poop there was hardly room to move.
While anchored near Sunday Island in the Pacific some months earlier,
two of the British prisoners taken from the first prize captured
managed to escape. Their absence was not noticed by the Germans till a
fortnight later, as up to then there had been no daily roll-call, an
omission which was at once rectified directly these two men were noted
missing. As a punishment, the prisoners aft were no longer allowed to
exercise on the poop, but were kept below. The heat and stifling
atmosphere were inconceivable and cruel. The iron deck below presented
the appearance of having been hosed--in reality it was merely the
perspiration streaming off these poor persecuted captives that drenched
the deck. The attention of the ship's doctor was one day called to this,
and he at once forbade this inhuman confinement in future. From then
onwards, batches of the prisoners were allowed on the poop at a time, so
that every man could obtain at least a little fresh air a day--surely
the smallest concession that could possibly be made to men living under
such wretched conditions.

But notwithstanding these hardships the men seemed to be merry and
bright, and showed smiling faces to their captors. They had all
evidently made up their minds to keep their end up to the last, and were
not to be downed by any bad news or bad treatment the Germans might
give them.

The _Wolf_, of course, picked up wireless news every day, printed it,
and circulated it throughout the ship in German and English. We did not,
however, hear all the news that was picked up, but felt that what we did
hear kept us at least a little in touch with the outside world, and we
have since been able to verify that, and also to discover that we missed
a great deal too. The weekly returns of submarine sinkings were
regularly published, and these were followed with great interest both by
the Germans and ourselves. We heard, too, some of the speeches of Mr.
Lloyd George and the German Chancellors, debates in the Reichstag, and
general war news, especially what was favourable to the Germans.

The accommodation provided for the married couples on the _Wolf_ was
situated on the port side upper deck, which corresponded in position to
the promenade deck of a liner. Some "cabins" had been improvised when
the first women and civilian prisoners had been captured, some had been
vacated by the officers, and others had been carved out as the number of
these prisoners increased. The cabins were, of course, very small--there
was very little room to spare on the _Wolf_--and, at the best,
makeshift contrivances, but it must be admitted that our German captors
did all they could to make us as comfortable as possible under the
conditions prevailing. The cabin occupied by my wife and myself was
built on one of the hatches. The bunks were at different levels, and
were at right angles to each other, half of one being in a dark corner.
There was not much room in it even for light baggage, and not standing
room for two people. The walls and ceiling were made of white painted
canvas, and an electric light and fan were installed over the door. The
married couples, the Australian military officers, and a few elderly
civilians messed together in the officers' ward-room (presided over by a
war photograph of the All Highest), quite a tiny saloon, which was
placed at our disposal after the officers had finished their meals. We
had breakfast at 9.15, dinner at 1.15, and supper at 7.15. The Commander
of the _Wolf_ was a very lonely man--he messed alone in his quarters
near the bridge, and we saw very little of him, as he very rarely left
his quarters and came below among his men and the prisoners.

The food on the _Wolf_ was better cooked than it had been on the
_Hitachi_, but there was of course no fresh food of any kind. Two or
three horses had been taken from the S.S. _Matunga_--these had been shot
and eaten long before. Even the potatoes we had were dried, and had to
be soaked many hours before they were cooked, and even then they did not
much resemble the original article; the same remark applies to the other
vegetables we had. Occasionally our meals satisfied us as far as
quantity went, but in the main we left the table feeling we could with
ease dispose of a great deal more. This was especially the case after
breakfast, which consisted of bread and jam only; and once at tiffin all
we had to eat was boiled rice with cinnamon and sugar. Each cabin had a
German orderly to look after and wait on its occupants, two German
stewards waited on us at meals, and a Japanese steward had two or three
cabins to look after and clean. The water allowance, both for drinking
and washing, was very small. We had only one bottle of the former and
one can of the latter between two of us; so it was impossible to wash
any of our clothes.

The deck--we were only allowed the port side--was only about six feet
wide, and part of this was occupied by spare spars. There were no
awnings, and the sun and rain streamed right across the narrow space.
Sailors and officers, and prisoners to fetch their food, were passing
along this deck incessantly all day, so it can be easily imagined there
was not much room for sitting about on deck chairs. On this deck, too,
was the prisoners' cell, usually called the "calaboose," very rarely
without an occupant, with an armed sentry on guard outside. It was not a
cheerful abode, being very small and dark; and the prisoner, if his
sentence were a long one, served it in instalments of a few days at a

We were allowed to go down to the well deck to see our friends and sit
on the hatch with them during the daytime. They had their meals in the
'tween decks at different times from us, but the food provided was
usually just the same. The evenings were the deadliest times of all on
the _Wolf_. At dusk the order "Schiff Abblenden" resounded all through
the ship, sailors came round to put tin plates over all the portholes,
and from thence onward throughout the night complete darkness prevailed
on deck, not a glint of light showing anywhere on the ship. It was very
nasty and uncanny.

When the _Wolf_ considered herself in dangerous waters, and when laying
mines, even smoking was forbidden on deck. All the cabins had a device
by which directly the door was open the light went out, only to be relit
directly the door closed. So it was impossible for any one to leave his
cabin with the door open and the light on. There was nothing to do in
the evenings after the last meal, which was over before eight o'clock.
We groped our way in darkness along the deck when we left the little
wardroom, and there was then nowhere to sit except on the dark deck or
in the dark cabins; it was so hot that the cabin doors had to be kept
open, and the evenings spent on the _Wolf_ were certainly very dreary.
Most of us agreed with Dr. Johnson that "the man in gaol has more room,
better food, and commonly better company than the man in the ship, and
is in safety," and felt we would rather be in gaol on shore, for then we
should be in no risk of being killed at any moment by our own people,
our cells would have been larger than our cabins, and our food possibly
not much worse, and our gaol would at least have been stationary and not
rolling about, though it must be confessed the _Wolf_ was a good sea

She had been one of the Hansa line before the war, called the
_Wachfels_, was about 6,000 tons, single screw, with a speed of about
ten knots at the outside. She had been thoroughly adapted for her work
as a raider, had four torpedo tubes and six guns (said to be 4.7), with
concrete emplacements, not to mention machine and smaller guns--to be
used against the prisoners if they should attempt escape, etc.--none of
which could be seen by a passing ship, to which the _Wolf_ looked, as
she was intended to look, exactly like an innocent neutral tramp painted
black. This was in itself a camouflage--she needed no other. When in
action her bulwarks dropped, giving free play to her guns and torpedoes.
There was telephonic communication between her bridge and every gun and
every part of the ship; she carried a huge searchlight, her masts and
funnel were telescopic, and she could rig an extra funnel. She carried
large supplies of bombs, hand grenades, rifles and small arms; had
hospitals with two doctors on board; the officers had the best and most
powerful binoculars; among her crew of more than three hundred were
representatives of every trade; she was thoroughly well equipped in
every way, and absolutely nothing seemed to have been forgotten. There
were, it was said, only three of the officers who were Imperial Navy
men; the Commander, the Artillery Officer, and the Lieutenant in charge
of the prisoners. All the other officers and a great many of the crew
were from the German mercantile marine, who had travelled with, mixed
with, and lived with Englishmen in many parts of the world. To this we
undoubtedly owed the kindly treatment we received on board, treatment
which was infinitely better than we expected to receive. The majority of
the officers and men were certainly kindly disposed towards us. There is
no doubt, however, that the fear we might be taken by a British cruiser
also had something to do with this treatment, for if we had been treated
badly the Germans knew they would have had cause to regret it had they
been captured.

In a conversation with the Lieutenant in charge of the prisoners--who,
by the way, had a Scottish mother--I remarked that it was very hard on
our relations and friends not knowing what had become of us. He agreed
that it was, but added it was no worse for my relations than it was for
his! They did not know where he was either! "No," I replied, "but you
are out doing your duty and serving your country, and when you left home
your people knew they would have no news of you for many months. It is
quite different with us. We are not out to be ingloriously taken
prisoner, we were simply travelling on business, being compelled to do
so. We are not serving our country by being caught and kept in this way,
and our relatives did not expect us to disappear and send them no news
of ourselves for a long time." However, he affected not to see the
difference between our case and his; just as the sailors often told the
prisoners aft that in case of the _Wolf_ going into action it would be
no worse for the prisoners than it was for the fighting crew!

We were forbidden to talk to the crew, but under cover of the darkness
some of them, a great number of whom spoke English, were only too glad
to speak to us. We learnt from them that the _Wolf_ had been out a year;
they were all very "fed up" with it all, tired of the life, tired of the
sea, tired of the food, longing to get home, and longing for the war to
end. They had, too, no doubts as to how it would end, and were certain
that the _Wolf_ would get back to Germany whenever she wished to do so.
Of course we assured them that they were utterly mistaken, and that it
would be absolutely impossible for the _Wolf_ ever to get through the
British blockade or see Germany again.

They were certain three things would bring them victory: their
submarines, the defection of Russia, who would soon be made to conclude
peace with Germany, and the fact that in their opinion America had
entered the war too late. The submarines, too, would not allow a single
transport to reach European waters!

While on the _Wolf_ we heard of the great reverse to the Italian arms.
We were told that half a million prisoners and thousands of guns were
taken, and that there was no longer an Italian army! Germany had strafed
one more country and knocked her out of the war. This made their early
victory still more certain! Their spirits may be imagined when this news
of Italy's disaster was received.

The interests of the _Wolf_ were now, to a certain extent, identical
with our own--that we should not meet an Allied cruiser. A notice was
posted in some of our cabins saying that in that event the women with
their husbands, and some other prisoners, would be put into boats with a
white flag, "if weather and other conditions permitted." We often
wondered whether they _would_ permit! The other prisoners, however,
viz. those under the poop and on the 'tween decks, would have had no
chance of being saved. They would all have been battened down under
hatches (this, indeed, was done whenever the _Wolf_ sighted or captured
a ship, when mines were being sown, and when gun and other drill was
carried on) and armed guards with hand grenades sent among them. It made
us furious to see, as we did many times, our friends being driven below
by armed guards. Their fate, if the _Wolf_ had gone into action, would
have been too terrible to contemplate. For the lifeboats on the _Wolf_
could not possibly have accommodated more than 350 souls, and it is
certain no prisoners would have been among this number.

The Captain and officers of the _Wolf_ must have had some very anxious
moments on many occasions. When passing close to other ships, as she had
done in the comparatively narrow waters of the Java Sea, all the
prisoners were sent below, and we were told that the few officers and
crew visible to a passing ship discarded their naval uniform and
appeared in kit suitable for the officers and crew of a tramp. We also
heard that on one occasion in narrow waters in the Far East the _Wolf_
passed quite close to a Japanese cruiser at night. Both ships were in
darkness, every man on the _Wolf_ was at his station, and at the
slightest sign from the cruiser the _Wolf's_ guns and torpedoes would
have immediately come into action. But the _Wolf's_ good luck did not
desert her, and the Japanese cruiser passed away into the night without
having given any sign that she had seen the raider.

The _Wolf_, with a company of over seven hundred on board, sailed away
on a south-westerly course for the next two days, and the usual routine
of the ship went on, but no further gun or other drills took place. Soon
after daybreak on November 10th a sailor came along and locked us all in
our cabins, armed guards patrolled the deck, and a short time after an
officer came to each cabin and informed us there was a steamer on the
starboard side which the _Wolf_ intended to capture. He told us the
_Wolf_ would fire on her to stop, and provided all of us with
cotton-wool to insert in our ears while the guns were being fired! The
Germans had had no scruples about firing on the _Hitachi_, though they
could have seen there were women on board, but on this occasion they
were so considerate as to give us cotton-wool for our ears, that our
nerves might not be shaken--a truly German touch! We waited for the
sound of the guns, but nothing happened, and in about half an hour the
same officer came along and said to us, "Don't be fearful; the other
ship has stopped, and there will be no firing!" Our cabin doors were
unlocked, the men on the upper deck were allowed out, the ladies were
requested not to show themselves on deck, and another officer ran along
the deck saying "We've catched her, we've catched her; a neutral this

The "catched" vessel had stopped and was lying very near the _Wolf_. The
name on her stern proclaimed her to be the _Igotz Mendi_, of Bilbao, and
she was flying the Spanish flag. In a short time a prize crew, with
Lieutenant Rose in command, left the _Wolf_ in her motor launch, and
proceeded to the other ship. After they had been aboard her a few
minutes, a message came back that the Spanish ship was from Delagoa Bay
to Colombo with a cargo of 5,800 tons of coal for the British Admiralty
authorities in Ceylon. So the Germans would not after all have to intern
the _Wolf_ and her prize in a neutral country--if she could reach
one--at any rate from lack of coal, as we fondly imagined might have
been the case. Here was just the cargo our captors wanted to annex, but
the chagrin of the Germans may be imagined when they realized that they
had captured this ship just three days too late to save the _Hitachi_.
Here was a ship with ample coal which, had it been captured a few days
before, would have enabled the Germans to save the _Hitachi_ and take
her as a prize to Germany, with all of us on board as prisoners, as they
had always desired to do. Other German raiders had occasionally been
able to do so with one or two of their prizes. Had the _Hitachi_ arrived
in Germany, she would have been rechristened the _Luchs_, the name of a
former German war vessel with which the Prize Captain had had

The _Igotz Mendi_ had left Lourenço Marques on November 5th, and was due
at Colombo on the 22nd. Before 9 a.m. on the morning of the capture both
ships had turned about, the prize now being in command of the Germans,
and were going back on the course the _Wolf_ had followed since the
destruction of the _Hitachi_. Discussion was rife among the prisoners as
to what would be done with the new capture, and whether the Commander of
the _Wolf_ would redeem his promise to transfer the married couples to
the "next ship caught."



The two ships steamed along in company for the next three days, usually
stopping towards sunset for communications and sending orders. On
Sunday, the 11th, we were invited to a band performance on the well deck
forward. It was quite a good one. The first mate came along and jokingly
said to us, "What more can you want? We give you a free passage, free
food, and even free music." I replied, "We only want one more thing
free." "What is that?" he asked. "Freedom," I answered. "Ah!" he said,
smiling, "I am afraid you must wait for that a little time."

I had asked him earlier in the day if he would allow us the use of a
room and a piano for a short time in the afternoon, so that we could
keep up our custom of singing a few hymns on Sunday. Later on, he told
me we might, with the permission of the officers, have their wardroom
for half an hour. The officers and he had kindly agreed to this, a
concession we much appreciated, and the little wardroom was crowded
indeed on that occasion.

At daybreak on the 13th both ships arrived at the Nazareth Bank, and
before 9 a.m. were lashed together. On such occasions the _Wolf_ never
dropped anchor, for she might have to be up and away at the slightest
warning; the prize ship was always the one to drop anchor. On the
previous Tuesday the _Wolf_ had been lashed alongside the _Hitachi_;
here, on this Tuesday, was the _Wolf_ lashed alongside another captured
ship in the very same place! Again the daring and coolness of our
captors amazed us. Coaling the _Wolf_ from the _Igotz Mendi_ at once
began, and a wireless installation was immediately rigged up by the
Germans on the Spanish ship. Coaling proceeded all that day, and the
German officers and crews on both ships were very busy. The prisoners
aft were also very busy, catching fish over the side. No sooner had the
ships stopped than lines were dropped overboard and many fine fish were
caught. The prisoners aft wore very little clothing and often no
head-gear at all, though we were in the tropics, where we had always
thought a sun-helmet was a _sine qua non_. But the prisoners got on
quite well without one.

On the morning of the 14th, just six weeks after our capture, orders
were given to the married couples on the _Wolf_ to get their light
baggage ready at once for transference to the Spanish ship, as she and
the _Wolf_ might have to separate at any moment.

Our heavy baggage would be transferred if time allowed. We did not
understand at the time why the Germans were so considerate to us in the
matter of baggage, but later on, a great deal later on, light dawned on
us! It is doubtful, to say the least of it, if we should have been
allowed to keep our baggage if we should be taken to Germany, a
possibility that was always present in our minds. We know now that it
always was the intention of the Germans to take us to Germany, and that
being the case, it would be just as simple to relieve us of our luggage
when we got there as to deprive us of it while we were _en route_.

Evidently something was in the air; some wireless message had been
picked up, as the seaplane was being brought up from the 'tween decks
and assembled at great haste on the well deck. The _Wölfchen_ went up
about 4.20 and returned about 5.30, and in the interval our heavy
baggage had been brought up from the _Wolf's_ hold ready to be
transferred to the _Igotz Mendi_.

At dusk that evening the married people were transferred to the Spanish
ship. We felt very sad at leaving our _Hitachi_ and other friends on the
_Wolf_, and feared that whatever might happen to us, they would never be
free. For ourselves, too, the prospect was not a very pleasing one. The
whole ship was smothered in coal-dust, the saloon was almost pitch-dark,
as awnings had been hung over all the ports, the atmosphere was
stifling, the cabins we were to occupy were still littered with the
belongings of their former occupants, and the outlook was certainly very
dreary. To make things worse a thick drizzle came on, converting the
coal-dust on deck into an evil, black, muddy ooze.

The next morning we were still alongside the _Wolf_, and remained there
till the morning of the 17th, our heavy baggage being transhipped in the
interval. There had also been transferred the Colonel of the A.A.M.C.
already mentioned, and three other men--including the second mate of one
ship previously captured--who were in ill-health. One of the _Hitachi_
prisoners, a man over military age, who had come on board at Colombo
straight from hospital, and was going for a health voyage to South
Africa, had been told in the morning that he was to be transferred to
the Spanish ship. But later on, much to the regret of every one, it was
found that the Germans would not release him. A German officer came up
to him and said in my hearing, "Were you not told this morning that you
were to go on the _Igotz Mendi_?" "Yes," he replied. "Well," said the
officer, "you're not to." Comment on the brutal manner of this remark is

The message the seaplane had brought back had evidently been a
reassuring one, and we heard a long time afterwards that the _Wolf_ had
picked up a wireless from a Japanese cruiser, presumably looking for the
_Hitachi_, only thirty miles away. Hence the alarm! Unfortunately for
us, if this report were true, the cruiser did not turn aside to look in
the most obvious place where a ship like the _Wolf_ would hide, so once
more the _Wolf_ was safe.

If only there had been a couple of cruisers disguised, like the _Wolf_,
as tramps, each one carrying a seaplane or two, in each ocean free from
submarine attentions, the _Wolf_ could have been seen and her career
brought to an end long before. The same end would probably have been
attained on this occasion if a wireless message had been sent from
Delagoa Bay to Colombo saying that the _Igotz Mendi_ had left the former
port for the latter with 5,000 tons of coal on board. The strong
wireless installation on the _Wolf_, which picked up every message
within a large radius, but of course never sent any, would have picked
up this message, and the _Wolf_ would probably have risen to the bait,
with the result that she could have been caught by an armed vessel sent
in search of her on that track. For it must have been known that a
raider was out in those waters, as the disappearance of the _Hitachi_
could only have been due to the presence of one.

Coaling proceeded without cessation till the morning of the 17th, when
the _Wolf_ moved off a short distance. Passengers on mail-boats familiar
with the process of coaling ship at Port Said, Colombo, or any other
port, can imagine the condition of these ships, after three or four
days' incessant coaling day and night. The appearance of the _Igotz
Mendi_ was meanwhile undergoing another change. When captured she was
painted white and had a buff funnel with her company's distinguishing
mark. She was now painted the Allied grey colour, and when her sides
and funnel had been transformed the two ships sailed away, and on the
evening of the 17th, after final orders and instructions had been given,
parted company. For some days after this, painting was the order of the
day on the Spanish ship, which was now grey on every part visible.

The Captain of the Spanish ship was now relieved of his duties--and also
of his cabin, which the German Captain had annexed, leaving the owner
thereof the chartroom to sleep in--and was naturally very chagrined at
the course events had taken, especially as he said he had been informed
by the Consul at Lourenço Marques that the course between there and
Colombo was quite clear, and had not even been informed of the
disappearance of the _Hitachi_, though she had been overdue at Delagoa
Bay about a month. Consequently he had been showing his navigation
lights at sea, and without them the _Wolf_ would probably not have seen
him, as it was about 1 a.m. when the _Wolf_ picked him up.

The remaining Spanish officers took their watch on the bridge, always
with a member of the prize crew in attendance; the Spanish engineers
remained in charge of the engine-room, again with a German always
present; and the Spanish crew remained on duty as before. There was a
prize crew of nine Germans on board; the Captain, Lieutenant Rose, who
had also been in charge of the _Hitachi_ after her capture, and the
First Officer, who had also filled that post on the _Hitachi_, being the
only officers. Lieutenant Rose spoke Spanish in addition to English and
French, and the Spanish Captain also spoke very good English. Some of
the Spanish officers also spoke English, but the knowledge of it was not
so general as it was on the _Wolf_, where every officer we met spoke our
language, and most of the prize crew spoke quite enough to get on with.

The Spanish Captain, a charming gentleman, and in appearance anything
but a seafaring man, was, however, frankly puzzled by some current
English slang. One of the passenger prisoners--the hero of the kerosene
porridge--was known among us as the "hot-air merchant." This was simple
enough, but when we said he also suffered from cold feet, the Spanish
Captain admitted defeat. Such a contradictory combination seemed
inconceivable. "If a man were full of hot air, how could he have cold
feet?" he said. Lieutenant Rose, however, was _au fait_ with the latest
English slang, and always used it correctly.

The _Igotz Mendi_, 4,600 tons, had been completed in 1916, and was a
ship admirably fitted for her purpose, which, however, was not that of
carrying passengers. Ordinarily she was a collier, or carried iron ore.
Her decks were of iron, scorchingly hot in the tropics and icy cold in
northern latitudes. There was no place sheltered from the sun in which
to sit on the small deck space, and the small awnings which were
spasmodically rigged up were quite insufficient for the purpose. There
were now twenty-one "passenger" prisoners on board, including the
Japanese stewardess, and five Asiatics. There were no cabins except
those provided for the officers, who generously gave them up to the
married couples on board, the officers taking quarters much more crowded
and much less desirable. The Germans installed a small electric fan,
taken from the _Hitachi_, in each cabin, and also one in the saloon. The
cabins were quite suitable for one occupant each, but very cramped for
two; the one occupied by my wife and myself being only seven and a half
feet square. Each contained one bunk and one settee, the latter being a
sleeping-place far from comfortable, as it was only five and a half
feet long by about twenty inches wide, the bunk being the same width,
but longer, and the floor space was very narrow and restricted. Our
light baggage had to be kept on the bunk all day, being deposited on the
washstand and floor every night. Our first duty every morning was to
replace the baggage on the bunk, so that we could have room to stand on
the floor! There were four cabins, two on each side of a narrow
alley-way about two feet wide, while one married couple occupied the
Chief Engineer's cabin further aft on the starboard side, quite a roomy
apartment. The port cabin opposite to it was occupied by an old
Mauritius-Indian woman and her little granddaughter (who was often very
naughty and got many "lickings" from her grandmother, whom she
frequently implored the Captain to throw overboard), the Japanese
stewardess, the Australian stewardess already mentioned, and a coloured
man going to South Africa with his Chinese wife. Rather crowded
quarters, not to mention somewhat unseemly conditions! The Asiatic
passengers had been "intermediate" passengers on the _Hitachi_, i.e.
between the second-class and deck passengers. The four men above
mentioned occupied a space under the poop--it could not be dignified
with the name of cabin. It was very small, only one occupant could
dress at a time, and immediately in front of it was a reeking pigsty
with three full-sized occupants. The passage to it from the saloon on
the upper deck was often a perilous one in rough weather and on dark
nights, for there was never any light showing on board at night during
the whole cruise. Occasionally a lifeline was rigged along the well deck
to the poop quarters, a by no means unnecessary precaution. The prize
crew had quarters on the starboard side under the poop; they were
exceedingly small, cramped, and in every way inconvenient and
uncomfortable. Our heavy baggage was also stored under the poop.

This, then, was to be our home, possibly for the next few months. We did
not know for how long, but we regarded the prospect with a certain
amount of equanimity, as the ship was unarmed, and we knew we should not
be fired on by a hostile cruiser, as might have been the case if we had
remained on the _Wolf_.

When we arrived on the Spanish boat we were served with meals at the
same time to which the Spanish officers had been accustomed, i.e.
breakfast at 9 and supper at 4, but these times were soon afterwards
changed to breakfast at 8.30, tiffin 12.30, and supper 5.30. We were
lucky to get fresh food for some days. But this soon came to an end,
though the stock of muscatels, a quince preserve--called membrillo--and
Spanish wine lasted very much longer. It would have lasted much longer
still but for the stupidity of the German sailor who "managed" the
canteen. He allowed stores to be eaten in plenty while there were any,
instead of arranging to spread their consumption over a much longer

There was on board a certain amount of live stock; some chickens, which
seemed to thrive quite well on coal-dust, and a couple of cows, each of
which had a calf born on board; these all met the usual fate of such
things on appropriate occasions. There were also a few cats and kittens,
which later on were joined by a couple of mongrel dachshund pups born on
the _Wolf_. The Spanish carpenter had a sporting hen, which had some
lively scraps with the dogs, the latter always coming off second best.

For many days after we parted company with the _Wolf_ we ambled and
dawdled through the sea on a south-westerly course, sometimes going back
on our tracks for half a day, sometimes stopping altogether for an hour
or two, sometimes for half a day, sometimes for a whole day. The
monotony of this performance was deadly beyond words. On one of these
days the Captain offered to land us at Mauritius on the following
morning and give himself up with the crew and ship if we could raise
£100,000 for him. Unfortunately, we couldn't!

On the afternoon of the 23rd the Germans became very agitated at the
sight of smoke on the horizon. At first we all thought it was the
_Wolf_, but before long we could see two columns of smoke, evidently
coming from two steamers travelling together. The prisoners then became
very agitated also, as help might be at hand. But the Germans at once
changed the course, and manoeuvred at full speed in such a way that we
soon got out of sight of the smoke, when we resumed our original course
again, after having boxed the compass more than once, and the German
Captain came down from the bridge and told us there was no relief for us
yet. We all felt that if the _Hitachi_ had only avoided distant smoke as
the German Captain had done we need never have made the acquaintance of
the _Wolf_.

On the 24th we again met the _Wolf_ in the evening. Whenever the _Wolf_
had an appointment to meet her prize at a certain time and place, the
prize always hoisted recognition signals directly she saw the _Wolf_ on
the horizon. These were made of wicker, and varied in shape on different

We were now well to the south of Africa, in the roaring forties, and we
saw many schools of whales, and albatrosses accompanied us for many
days. A Spanish officer shot one one day--we told him this would bring
us bad luck, as the souls of lost sea captains are said to inhabit these
majestic birds. And one day we saw a dead whale floating along not far
from the ship--it was smothered with a huge flock of seabirds, gorging
themselves on it. By December 1st we had begun to steer north-west, and
on the 3rd the Captain informed us we were the nearest we should ever be
to Cape Town, the port to which I had set out. On this morning the
Captain said to me, "Mr. Trayes, didn't you say you were going to Cape
Town?" "Yes," I replied. "Come out on deck with me," he answered. I went
with him. He took my arm, and said, "There it is," pointing in its
direction. We were then 150 miles off! We met the _Wolf_ again on the
5th, and travelled in her company during the remainder of that day and
the next two, stopping as usual for communication and the sending of
stores to us in the evenings just before sunset. Often when the ship
stopped Lieutenant Rose would go aboard the _Wolf_, another Lieutenant
boarding us and remaining in charge during his absence. The _Wolf_ on
this occasion told us she had sunk the American sailing vessel _John H.
Kirby_ from America to East London with a cargo of four hundred
motor-cars on board, when two days from her destination, the officers
and crew being taken on board the _Wolf_. Many people in South Africa
would have to dispense with their motor joy-rides at Christmas in

The evening of December 7th was the last occasion we saw the _Wolf_ for
many days. The two ships now shaped a course for the Brazilian Island of
Trinidad, where it was understood the _Wolf_ would coal from her prize,
and with her spend the Christmas holidays.



It must not be supposed that the life of the prisoners on the _Igotz
Mendi_ in any way approximated to that of passengers on an ordinary
passenger ship. To begin with, there were no ship's servants to wait on
us with the exception of the Spanish steward, a youth who "waited" at
table and excelled in breaking ship's crockery. Often he poured the
coffee over us, or into our pockets, instead of into our cups, and on
one occasion, during a heavier roll than usual, he fell down in the
middle of the saloon while carrying a tureen full of soup. It went
flying over the saloon and some of its occupants, so our soup ration was
short that day.

If the cabins were to be kept clean, we had to do it ourselves. Every
morning saw the occupants sweeping out and cleaning up their cabins,
as no ship's servant ever entered them. The water supply was very
limited, and had to be fetched by ourselves--no matter what the
weather--sometimes from the fore peak and sometimes from a pump near the
ship's galley. Washing water and drinking water were served out twice a
day, at 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., an ordinary water-can being the allowance of
the former, and a water-bottle that of the latter. The supply of washing
water was very inadequate, and no hot water was ever available. After
washing ourselves, we had to wash our clothes in the same water--for
there was of course no laundry on board--and then the cabin floor after
that. By this time the water was mud. It was impossible to have a proper
bath all the time we were on board, for there was no water supply in the
bathroom, and it was kept in an extremely dirty condition. "Laundry
work" was usually done by the prisoners after breakfast, and lines were
rigged on any available part of the ship to dry the clothes. It was a
sight for the gods to see the military officers presiding at their
washtubs on deck, and then hanging out their washing. On fine days with
a big wash the array of drying garments in various parts of the ship was
quite imposing.

My wife managed to borrow some irons from the Australian stewardess,
which she heated on the stove in the cook's galley. With these she
ironed her blouses and my shirts and soft collars, while I helped with
the hankeys. The ironing space was not ideal, being the cover, about
twenty inches square, of the cabin washstand. But the result was highly

The saloon, about eighteen feet square, in which all the meals were
served in two sittings, was very rarely clean, and the habits of the
Captain's mongrel pup, born on the _Wolf_, did not improve matters.
_Something_ connected with the expedition had to be called "Luchs," so,
failing the _Hitachi_, the pup rejoiced in this name, and as he
frequently made the saloon so exclusively his own, it was often
appropriately named the "Salon de luxe." Poor Luchs! Every man's hand,
or rather foot--with the exception of the Captain's--was against him
(when the Captain was not looking!) on account of his reprehensible
behaviour. Many a sly kick was aimed at him, and when a yelp assured us
that the blow had struck home, one of us would exclaim, "Hooray for our
side!"; "our side" being all who suffered from his bad conduct. The
table "appointments" were often disgusting. The tablecloth was filthy
after the first meal or so, thanks to the rolling of the ship and
consequent upsetting of soup, tea, and coffee, but was only changed
twice, sometimes only once, a week. Cups were used without saucers, and
spoons gradually disappeared, so that towards the end one had to suffice
between four or five persons.

The ship, generally speaking, was filthy--she was never properly clean.
I remember on one occasion a large bottle of castor-oil was smashed just
outside the saloon door. The stuff remained there for hours before being
cleaned up. The crew certainly was not large, but a great deal more
could have been done in the direction of keeping the ship clean, and her
condition was never a credit to her Captain. This was a surprise to
those of us who had previously travelled on German ships.

We got thoroughly sick of the food provided, but the German officers and
crew had just the same. The _Hitachi_ had been carrying ten thousand
cases of Japanese canned crab to England. A great part of this was
saved, and divided between the _Wolf_ and her prize. None of us ever
want to see or hear of this commodity again; we were fed on it till most
of us loathed it, but as there was nothing else to eat when it was
served, we perforce had to eat that or dry bread, and several of us
chose the latter. How we groaned when we saw any more crab being
brought over from the _Wolf_! Bully beef, every variety of bean, dried
vegetables, dried fish that audibly announced its advent to the table,
bean soup, and pea soup (maggot soup would often have been a more
correct description), we got just as sick of, till, long before the end,
all the food served nauseated us. Tea, sometimes made in a coffee-pot,
sometimes even with salt water, was the usual hot drink provided, but
coffee was for some time available once a day. We owe a great debt to
one of our fellow-prisoners, a ship's cook, captured from one of the
other ships, who in return for his offer to work as baker was promised
his liberty, which fortunately he has now secured, though no thanks to
the Germans. He baked, under the most difficult conditions,
extraordinarily good bread, and over and over again we should have gone
without food but for this. We were often very hungry, for there was
nothing to eat between "supper" at 5.30 and breakfast next morning at
8.30. The Captain had given each lady a large box of biscuits from the
_Hitachi_, and my wife and I used to eat a quarter of a biscuit each
before turning in for the night. We could not afford more--the box might
have to last us for many months.

We could not buy much on board. The only thing of which there seemed to
be plenty was whisky, all stolen from the captured ships. When our ship
ran short of this, more was sent over from the _Wolf_. We could buy this
at reasonable rates, but the supply was always supposed to be rationed.
Soap and toilet requisites became very scarce or failed altogether as
time went on. We could buy an infinitesimal piece of stolen toilet soap
for a not infinitesimal price, and were rationed as to washing soap and
matches. The currency on board was a very mixed one, consisting of
Japanese yen, both in silver and paper money, English, Spanish, and
German silver, and German canteen tokens--all marked S.M.S. _Victoria
Louise_--ranging in value from 2 marks to 5 pfennig.

Mention has been made of the ship's rolling. Her capacity for this was
incredible--in the smoothest sea, whether stopped or under steam, she
rolled heavily from side to side, and caused great discomfort,
inconvenience, and often alarm to all on board. The remark, "The Mendi
roll, fresh every day for every meal, for breakfast, dinner, and tea,"
was made by some one at almost every mealtime, as we clutched at our
food, gliding or jumping from end to end of the saloon table,
accompanied by the smashing of crockery and upsetting of liquids and
soup. We were hardly ever able to sit still at mealtimes, but were
always rocking and rolling about, usually with our plates in our hands,
as leaving them on the table meant we might lose the contents. Even the
Captain was astonished at the rolling of the ship, as he well might have
been, when one night he, in common with most of us, was flung out of his
berth. No ship ever rolled like it--the bath in the bathroom even got
loose and slid about in its socket, adding to the great din on board.

As may be imagined, there was not much to do on board. The few books we
had between us were passed round and read over and over again. Some were
also sent over from the _Wolf_ for us. Card games of various kinds also
helped to pass the time, and the Captain and some of the prisoners held
a "poker school" morning, afternoon, and evening in the saloon. But
time, nevertheless, dragged very heavily. Some of us had occasionally to
carry our mattresses and beds out on to the deck, to hunt for bugs,
which were very numerous in some cabins. But the pastime was hardly one
to be recommended! And, it must regretfully be admitted, we all managed
to do nothing quite comfortably!

We were at liberty to go practically where we liked on board, but we
were never able to get far away from the German sailors, who always
appeared to be listening to our conversation, no matter where we were.
As on the _Wolf_, they were sometimes caught spying on us, and listening
at the portholes or ventilators of our cabins.

We next picked up the _Wolf_ on the afternoon of December 19th, and
heard that since we had last seen her she had sunk a French sailing
vessel, the _Maréchal Davout_, loaded with grain for Europe. The _Wolf_
usually sent us over a budget of wireless news when she had been away
from us any length of time. I remember an item of news on one occasion,
in which Mr. Lloyd George in a speech said we were getting on the track
of the submarines and that we had sunk five in one day. This gave great
mirth to the Germans, who naturally refused to believe it--they said
they had lost only a dozen since the war began! On one occasion the
Captain informed us of a "great British victory. Joy-bells are ringing
all over England. The British have captured a trench and have advanced
ten yards!" This was the victory at Cambrai!

The two ships proceeded on parallel courses for Trinidad, but about 8
p.m. both ships turned sharply round and doubled on their tracks,
proceeding on a south-easterly course at full speed. We learnt the
reason for this the next day. German raiders had previously coaled and
hidden at Trinidad; but Brazil was now in the war, so that hole was
stopped, and the _Wolf_ had intercepted a wireless from the Commander of
a Brazilian cruiser to the garrison on Trinidad. Hence her rapid flight!
But for that wireless message, the _Wolf_ would have walked right into
the trap, and we should have been free within twelve hours from the time
the _Wolf_ picked up the message.

Once again wireless had been our undoing. The _Hitachi_ had wirelessed
the hour of her arrival at and departure from Singapore and Colombo; the
_Wolf_, of course, had picked up the messages and was ready waiting for
her. One other ship, if not more, was caught in just the same way. The
_Matunga_ had wirelessed, not even in code, her departure, with the
nature of her cargo, from Sydney to New Guinea, and she wirelessed again
when within a few hours of her destination. The _Wolf_ waited for her,
informed her that she had on board just the cargo the _Wolf_ needed,
captured, and afterwards sunk her. The _Wolf's_ success in capturing
ships and evading hostile cruisers was certainly due to her intercepting
apparently indiscriminate wirelessing between ships, and between ships
and shore--at one time in the Indian Ocean the _Wolf_ was picking up
news in four languages--and to her seaplane, which enabled her to scout
thoroughly and to spot an enemy ship long before she could have been
seen by the enemy. Thus the _Wolf's_ procedure when hunting for her prey
was simplicity itself. Even without wireless her seaplane was of
enormous assistance to her. If her "bird" had revealed the presence of a
ship more heavily armed than the _Wolf_ chose to tackle, she could
easily make herself scarce, while if the ship seen was not at all, or
but lightly armed, all that the _Wolf_ had to do was to wait for her on
the course she was taking.

Soon after leaving the Indian Ocean the seaplane had been taken to
pieces and placed in the 'tween decks, so that if the _Wolf_ had been
seen by another steamer, her possession of a seaplane would not have
been revealed.

The two ships proceeded on their new course at full speed for the next
two days. On the 21st they slowed down, hoping to coal in the open sea.
The next day both ships stopped, but the condition of the sea would not
admit of coaling; we were then said to be about 700 miles E. of Monte
Video. It was a great disappointment to the Germans that they were
prevented from coaling and spending their Christmas under the shelter of
Trinidad, but it became quite clear that all the holes for German
raiders in this part of the ocean had now been stopped, and that they
would have to coal in the open sea or not at all. Some of us thought the
Germans might go back to Tristan da Cunha, or even to Gough Island--both
British possessions in the South Atlantic--but the Germans would not
risk this. Even St. Helena was mentioned as a possible coaling place,
but the Germans said that was impracticable, as it would mean an attack
on an unfortified place: as if this would have been a new procedure for
German armed forces! The fact that they knew St. Helena to be fortified
probably had a great deal more to do with their decision not to proceed

But the disappointment about Trinidad was mitigated by other wireless
news received. The Commander of the _Wolf_ called all his men together
and harangued them to the effect that the latest news was that Russia
and Roumania were now out of the war, having given in to Germany, that
the Italian disasters had knocked Italy out in addition, that the war
would certainly be over in six months, and that the _Wolf_ would then go
home in safety to a victorious, grateful, and appreciative Fatherland.
Some such spur as this was very necessary to the men, who were getting
very discontented with the length of the cruise and conditions
prevailing, notably the monotony of the cruise and threatened shortage
of food and drink and tobacco.

(The _Wolf_ had brought out from Germany enormous stores of provisions
for the cruise, which was expected to last about a year. In fact, her
cargo from Germany consisted of coal, stores, ammunition, and mines
only. She replenished her stores solely from the prizes she took.)

The Germans were thoroughly confident of victory, and very cock-a-hoop
now that Russia and Roumania were knocked out, and Italy, so they said,
so thoroughly defeated as to be quite a negligible factor in the future.
Our enemies could not conceal their joy at the good news their wireless
brought them. They crowed over us, and at mealtimes the Captain
explained how, with the "three and a half millions" of their troops
released from the Russian fronts, defeat for the Allies was inevitable
in a very few months. A German victory was now as sure as to-morrow's
sunrise. "But, of course," he said, "there will first be an armistice to
discuss terms." We asked him what he meant by an armistice. He replied
that the troops on the front would cease fighting. "And your
submarines?" we asked. "Oh! they will go on with their work," he
replied. "Why should they stop?" Why, indeed? It was to be a _German_
armistice, graciously permitted by our enemies, in which they were to
continue the use of a deadly weapon, but we were to lay down our arms!
Generally speaking, however, we refused to be drawn into discussion of
the war, its causes and issues. The enemy was "top dog" for the time
being, we were in his power: we did not know what was in store for us;
we did not wish to prejudice any chances we might have, and it would not
pay to lose our tempers or be indiscreet.

Christmas Eve was still too rough for the ships to tie up alongside, and
our Christmas the next day was the reverse of merry. The Germans had
held a Christmas service on the _Wolf_ on Christmas Eve, and sounds of
the band and singing were wafted to us over the waters. We could have
no music on the _Igotz Mendi_, as we had no piano, but our friends on
the _Wolf_, so we heard afterwards, gathered together in the 'tween
decks and joined in some Christmas music.

I went out on deck early on Christmas morning, and there met the Spanish
Chief Mate chewing a bun. He asked me to share half with him--a great
sacrifice! Such was the commencement of our Christmas festivities. Later
in the morning the Spanish Captain regaled the ladies with some choice
brand of Spanish wine, and offered first-class cigars to the men
prisoners (rather better than the "Stinkadoros" sometimes offered us by
the crew), German officers on the ships exchanged visits, and we all
tried to feel the day was not quite ordinary.

Our thoughts and wishes on this sad Christmas Day turned to our friends
and relations at home who would be mourning us as dead, and may perhaps
be "better imagined than described," and with the bad news from the
various seats of war we all felt fairly blue.

The German officers had a great feast and a jolly time on the _Wolf_.
One cow and three pigs had been killed for the Christmas feast, but they
did not go far between eight hundred people. The day before we had been
served with some of the "in'ards," or, as the American said, the
"machinery" of the poor beasts cut up into small pieces, even the lungs
being used. Some of us turned up our noses at this, but the Captain
assured us that if we ever _did_ get to America or England we should
find that the U boats had reduced our countries to such straits that
even such "machinery" would be welcome food!

With Christmas Day came to an end for us a quarter of a year's
captivity, and all the prisoners, at least, were glad when the dismal
farce of Christmas under such conditions was over.

"This is the life," said the German sailor who supplied us with water
twice daily. He was a very hardworked member of the prize crew, doing
all sorts of odd jobs and always willing to help, and was said to be the
black sheep of a high German family, which numbered among its members
officers holding high commands in the German army and navy. If he
thought it "was the life," we didn't!

The Germans showed us the "Second Christmas Annual of the _Wolf_." It
was very well got up, with well-drawn and clever illustrations of their
exploits, and caricatures of some of their officers and prisoners. One
picture illustrated the _Wolf_ running the blockade on her outward
voyage. If the picture represented anything like the truth, she must
have got through by the very skin of her teeth! The covers of both
"Annuals" were very striking and very cleverly done.

The weather on Boxing Day was only a little more favourable than that on
Christmas Day, but the Germans decided to wait no longer to coal the
_Wolf_. They had previously conveyed water to our ship from the _Wolf_
in boats. The same method of transferring coal was discussed, but that
idea was abandoned. At 5 p.m. she tied up alongside us. She bumped into
us with considerable force when she came up, and not many of us on board
the _Igotz Mendi_ will ever forget that night of terror. Both ships were
rolling heavily, and repeatedly bumping into each other, each ship
quivering from end to end, and the funnel of the _Igotz Mendi_ was
visibly shaking at every fresh collision. Sleep was impossible for any
one on our boat; in fact, many feared to turn in at all, as they thought
some of the plates of the boats might be stove in. We wandered about
from cabin to deck, and from deck to cabin, trying in vain to get to
sleep. The Spanish Chief Engineer came to us on the deck about 4 a.m.
and did his best in his broken English to assure us everything was all
right. "Go sleep tranquil," he said: "I see this ship built--very
strong." But the whole performance was a horrid nightmare.

The next day was no better, but rather worse. About 6 p.m. there was a
great crash, which alarmed all; it was due to the _Wolf_ crashing into
and completely smashing part of the bridge of our ship. This was enough
for the Germans. They decided to suspend operations, and at 7 p.m. the
_Wolf_ sheered off, only just narrowly escaping cutting off the poop of
the _Igotz Mendi_ in the process. She had coaled six hundred tons in
twenty-five hours, her decks, torpedo tubes, and guns being buried under
great mounds of coal, as all hands were busy in the transference of coal
from her prize to the _Wolf_. Shifting the coal to her bunkers had to be
done after the ships had separated. If by good luck an Allied cruiser
had appeared at this time, the _Wolf_ would have been an easy prey. The
coaling process had severely damaged the _Wolf_, many of whose plates
were badly dented. We had lost eighteen large fenders between the ships,
and the _Wolf_ was leaking to the extent of twelve tons an hour. The
_Igotz Mendi_ had come off better. None of her plates were dented, she
was making no water, and the only visible signs of damage to her were
many twisted and bent stanchions on the port side that met the _Wolf_.

We had been allowed to send letters for Christmas--censored, of course,
by the Germans--to our _Hitachi_ friends on the _Wolf_, and when the two
ships were alongside we were allowed to speak to them, though
conversation under such conditions was very difficult, as one minute our
friends would be several feet above us and the next below us with the
rolling of the ships; and the noise of the coaling, shouting of orders,
and roaring of the water between the ships was deafening. There did not
seem much point in censoring letters, as the prisoners on the _Igotz
Mendi_ and the _Wolf_ were allowed to talk to each other a day or so
after the letters were sent, and although a German sentry was on guard
while these conversations were going on, it was possible for the
prisoners to say what they liked to each other, as the sentry could only
have caught an occasional word or two.

I have since been asked why the prisoners and Spaniards on the Spanish
ship did not attack the prize crew and seize the ship when we were not
in company with the _Wolf_. It sounds quite simple, but it must be
remembered that although the prize crew was certainly a small one, they
were well supplied with arms, bombs, and hand grenades, while the
prisoners and Spaniards had no arms at all, as they had all been taken
away by the Germans. Further, an attack of this kind would have been far
worse than useless unless its absolute success could have been
definitely assured. There were very few young and able men among the
prisoners, while the German prize crew were all picked men, young and
powerful. The working crew of the ship was composed of Spaniards and
other neutrals, including a Greek and a Chilian. It would have been
absolutely necessary to have secured the allegiance and support of every
one of these. The plan of seizing the ship, which sounds so simple, was
discussed among us many a time, but it was in reality quite
impracticable. What would our fate have been if we had tried--and
failed? And what of the women and children on board?



We had been encouraged by the Germans to think--they had in fact
definitely told us--that the _Igotz Mendi_ with us on board was to be
sent to Spain when the Germans released her. This news greatly rejoiced
the Spaniards, who had naturally become very depressed, more especially
as they knew that if no news were received of them for six weeks after
the date on which they were due at Colombo a requiem mass would,
according to Spanish custom, be said for them at their churches at home.

On December 29th, all of which and the previous day, together with many
succeeding days, were spent in transferring our cargo coal to our
bunkers, the Germans on our ship and on the _Wolf_ ostentatiously bade
each other good-bye, and letters from prisoners on the _Wolf_ were
brought to us to post in Spain when we landed. The idea of the _Wolf_
remaining out till the war was over in six months was abandoned, and we
were told the _Wolf_ would now go home to Germany. Why we were told
this--the first time we had been informed of the _Wolf's_ plans--we
never knew, except that it might have been an excuse to keep dragging us
over the seas, for the _Wolf_ would never have allowed us to get ashore
before she reached Germany. Now that we know that the Germans always
intended taking us to Germany, it is obvious that it was quite
immaterial to them if they told us their plans. They wished to keep us,
and having told us of their future plans, it is plain they could not
afford to release us.

But at that time we really began to think we were going to be landed in
Spain, and the news raised the spirits of all of us. I remember
Lieutenant Rose telling the American Captain one day during a meal that
he could now keep his eyes directed to a Spanish port! Those who had
been learning Spanish before now did so with redoubled energy, and some
of us even marked out on a pocket atlas our railway route from Bilbao or
Cadiz--for the Spanish Captain thought it most likely we should be
landed at one of those ports--through Spain and France. We even got
information from the Spaniards as to hotels, and railways, and sights to
see in Spain. It seemed as if the end of our cruise, with our freedom,
were really in sight, especially as the Captain had told some of us on
December 16th that in six weeks our captivity would be over. Some of us,
however, still inclined to the belief that the Germans would release the
ship and order her back to Java or Colombo or Calcutta; while others
believed we should ultimately be landed in Dutch Guiana or Mexico, two
of the few neutral countries left.

On the last day of the year a rumour went round the ship that we should
be taken far north--about 60° N.--to a point from which the _Wolf_ could
get to Germany before we could reach Spain. That, in the opinion of most
of us, put an end to the prospect of landing in Spain. The Germans would
run no risks of our giving information about the _Wolf_. But this scheme
would have left uneliminated one very important risk. After the ships
would have separated, there was still a chance of the prize being
intercepted by an Allied cruiser before the _Wolf_ got home, and if that
had happened the _Wolf's_ goose would have been cooked indeed. So that
Spain looked very improbable. I approached the Captain on the last day
of the year and spoke to him on the point. He confirmed the rumour, and
said we should be sent back and landed at a Spanish island, most
probably Las Palmas. I made a vigorous, though I knew it would be quite
a useless, protest against this scheme. I pointed out that the ship,
which by then would be almost empty, was not a suitable one in which to
carry women and children into the North Atlantic in mid-winter gales,
and that people who had spent many years in the tropics would not be
able to stand such weather, unprovided as they were with winter clothing
(although the Commander of the _Wolf_ had certainly sent over some rolls
of flannelette--stolen from the _Hitachi_--for the ladies to make
themselves warm garments!). Also that in case of distress we could call
for no help, as our wireless would only receive and not send messages.
The Captain brushed these complaints aside, saying the ship was in good
trim and could stand any weather, that it would only be intensely cold
on a very few days, that arrangements would be made that we should
suffer as little from the cold as possible, and that there was very
little likelihood of our being in distress.

I then pointed out to him that our own Government prohibited our women
from travelling through the submarine zone at all, but that he proposed
to send them through it twice and to give us a double dose of the North
Atlantic at the very worst time of the year. He replied that going north
we should go nowhere near the submarine zone, that he was just as
anxious to avoid submarines as we were, and that when we parted far up
in the North Atlantic, the _Igotz Mendi_ would be given a "submarine
pass," guaranteeing her safety from attack by the U boats, and special
lights to burn at nights. I replied that I failed to see the use of a
"submarine pass," as U boats torpedoed at sight, and would not trouble
to ask for a pass. He replied by asking me if I had ever heard of a
neutral boat being torpedoed without warning. I answered that I had
heard of such being done many times, and reminded him that the _Igotz
Mendi_ was painted the Allied grey colour and therefore would not be
recognized as a neutral, but regarded by the U boats as an enemy ship.
The Captain became very angry--the only time he ever lost his temper
with me--and ended the interview by saying that he was carrying out the
orders of the _Wolf's_ Commander, and had no choice but to obey. This
was undoubtedly true, and though Lieutenant Rose told us many lies
concerning our destination, we always felt he was acting in accordance
with instructions from his senior officer in so doing. We all recognized
that we were lucky in that he, and not the Commander of the _Wolf_ or
any other officer of the Imperial Navy, was in charge of us. He
admitted, however, that it was particularly hard luck on my wife and
myself being captured like this, just as we had retired from a long
period of work and residence in the Far East. This news of the _Wolf's_
intentions angered us all, and we all felt that there was very little
chance of ever seeing land again, unless an Allied cruiser came to our
aid. We regarded this plan of the Germans as a deliberate one to sink us
and the ship when they had got all they wanted out of her, and I told
the Captain that my wife and I would prefer to be shot that day rather
than face such a prospect of absolute misery, with every chance of death
alone putting an end to it.

New Year's Day! With the dawn of 1918 we looked back on the last few
months of its predecessor and what they had meant and brought to us all.
What would the New Year bring forth? Liberty, or continued captivity;
life, or death at sea? On New Year's morning we wished each other good
luck and a Happy New Year, but with the news of our captors' intentions
given us on the preceding day our prospects were the reverse of rosy.

The two ships had parted on the evening of the 30th, both going north,
and we did not see the _Wolf_ again till the morning of January 4th. She
was then seen to be overhauling a ship on the horizon. We followed at a
short distance, and before long saw a ship in full sail. The _Wolf_
approached her, spoke to[3] her, and, to our intense astonishment,
released her. It seemed too good to be true that the _Wolf_ would leave
any ship she met quite unmolested, but so it was--for a short time. It
was between ten and eleven when the _Wolf_ and her prize proceeded on
their original course and the sailing ship crossed our course astern.
About 1.30 p.m., however, we changed our course and turned about. We
were all mystified as to what was going to happen, until we saw a sail
on the horizon. The _Wolf's_ purpose was evident then. She was going
back to destroy the ship whose existence she had forgiven in the
morning. Imagine the feelings of the crew of her prey; seeing the _Wolf_
bearing down on her in the morning, their suspense as to their fate and
that of their ship, their joy at their release, and--here was the _Wolf_
again! What would their fate be now? The _Wolf_ did not leave them long
in doubt. She came up to her prize about 5 p.m. She was a four-masted
barque in full sail, in ballast from the Cape to South America, and made
a beautiful picture as she lay bathed in floods of golden light from the
setting sun. Before dark, however, preparations had begun to remove her
officers and crew and provisions, and this was completed in a few hours.
We were invited by the Germans to stay up and see the end. They told us
a searchlight would be thrown on the ship, that we might better see her
go down. Stage effects, with a vengeance! But they were not carried
out--it was a too dangerous proceeding, as the enemy regretfully
realized. We waited up till past eleven and saw lights flitting about
the doomed ship, as the Germans sailors were removing some things,
making fast others, and placing the bombs to blow her up. But none
waited up for the end, which we heard took place after midnight. The
ship first canted over, her sails resting on the water, righted herself
and then slowly disappeared. It was a beautiful moonlight night for the
commission of so dark a deed. The Germans afterwards told us that when
the _Wolf_ first spoke the barque she gave her name _Storobrore_ and
said she was a Norwegian ship, and so was released. The Germans had
afterwards discovered from the _Wolf's_ shipping register that she was
the _Alec Fawn_ and British owned before the war, and therefore to be

The Germans told us that on the barque they had seen some English
newspapers, and in them was some news of the two men who had escaped
from the _Wolf_ near Sunday Island. One of them had died while swimming
ashore; the other, after some weeks alone on the island, had been picked
up by a Japanese cruiser. The news this man was able to give was the
first that the outside world had known about the _Wolf_ for many months,
and the Germans realized that their enemies would be looking out for
them and trying to prevent their return to Germany. This man would also
be able to give an exact description of the _Wolf_, the names of the
ships she had captured before his escape, and the probable fate of other
vessels since missing. This, we felt, would bring at least a little
comfort to our relatives, who might conclude we were on the raider and
not hopelessly lost, as they must have feared.

We had hoped our captors might have put us all on the sailing ship and
sent us off on her to South America, as the _Wolf_ would have been well
away and out of danger before we could have got ashore. But they did not
entertain any such idea. Some of us requested that the lifeboats of the
sailing ship might be sent over to our ship, as we had only two
lifeboats, a couple of small dinghies, and an improvised raft made of
barrels and planks lashed together and surrounded by iron uprights and
ropes--not sufficient for sixty-five people; but the Germans would not
send us these lifeboats, as they said they were leaky!

The question of baggage had to be again reconsidered. It was evident we
should be able to save very little, perhaps not even a handbag, if the
ship were sunk by the Germans and the prisoners put into the lifeboats.
However, we ourselves packed in a handbag our most precious treasures we
had brought from Siam. But in case it was impossible to save even so
little, we collected the most valuable of our letters and papers and had
them sewn up in sailcloth by a German sailor to put in our pockets. The
King of Siam had conferred a decoration on me before I left; this was
carefully packed and sewn up. I was determined to save this, if nothing
else, though it seemed hopeless to expect to save some much-treasured
parting presents and addresses presented to me by my Siamese friends.
Earlier in my service the King of Siam had conferred another decoration
on me, and I was carrying with me His Majesty's Royal Licence for this,
signed by him, and also King George V.'s Royal Licence with his
Sign-Manual, giving me permission to accept and wear the decoration.
Both of these documents, together with others highly valued which I was
also determined to save, were secured in water-tight cases, ready to be
put in my pockets at the last moment.

On January 8th, when the two ships stopped, the Captain went on to the
_Wolf_ and brought back with him charts of the North Atlantic and North
Sea. We wondered if this would be his farewell visit to and our farewell
acquaintance with the _Wolf_, but we remained in company of the _Wolf_
for the next few days, and at 7 p.m. on the 10th she again came
alongside in the open sea and coaled from us till 4 p.m. on the next
day. Conditions were slightly better than on the previous occasion, and
the Commander of the _Wolf_ was evidently of opinion that they would
never again be more favourable, but they were still quite sufficiently
unpleasant. More fenders were lost and the _Wolf_ was further damaged,
and this time our ship also sustained some damage. Some of her plates
had been badly dented and she was leaking about a ton and a half an
hour. The great uproar caused by the winches going all night, the
periodic emptying of ashes dragged in iron buckets over the iron decks,
the shifting of coal from the bunkers immediately underneath our cabins,
and the constant bumping of the ships made sleep quite out of the
question once more, and we were very glad indeed when the _Wolf_ sheered
off. On this occasion the way in which she came alongside and sheered
off was a beautiful piece of seamanship. Not many landsmen, I imagine,
have seen this done in absolutely mid-ocean, and not many have been on a
ship so lashed alongside another. It was a wonderful experience--would
that some friendly hydroplane had seen us from aloft! The two ships
lashed together would certainly have presented a strange scene, and
could have meant only one thing--a raider and her prize.

On the 11th we again saw and spoke to our _Hitachi_ friends on the
_Wolf_--the last opportunity we had of speaking to them. They all looked
well, but thin. They told us they had been informed that we were going
to Spain, and that the _Wolf_ with them on board was _not_ going to
Germany. Some of them believed this, and were comparatively joyful in
consequence. But it was only another case of German lies. On the next
day we crossed the Equator, and then for some days we saw the _Wolf_ no

About this time I experienced a little trouble with one of the German
sailors. Most of them were courteous and kindly disposed, but one, a
boorish, loutish bully, who served us with drinks at table, was a
painful exception to this. His name was Fuchs: we sometimes called him
Luchs, by mistake, of course! But Fuchs did not think so--he strongly
objected to the other name! He had only one eye, and a black shade where
the other one should have been. To train his moustache to resemble that
of the All-Highest, he wore some apparatus plastered over it, reaching
nearly to his eyes and secured behind his ears, so that his appearance
was the reverse of prepossessing! I complained to him once about not
serving me properly. He waited outside the saloon and cursed me
afterwards. "I a German soldier," he said, "not your steward!" I told
him that if he had any reason to complain of what I had said or done he
should report me to his Captain, and that if he had not done so by six
that evening I should report him for insolence. Needless to say, he said
nothing to the Captain, so I reported him. The Captain at once thanked
me for doing so, called him up at once, and gave him a good wigging. I
had no more trouble with him afterwards.

On January 14th I approached the Captain and asked him if the Germans on
the _Wolf_, when they got to Germany, would have any means of finding
out whether we on the _Igotz Mendi_ had safely arrived in Spain. He
replied that they would. I then asked him whether, if we were all lost
on the _Igotz Mendi_ on her return voyage to Spain, the German
Government would inform the British Government of our fate. He replied
that would certainly be done. I further asked him whether we might send
letters to the _Wolf_ to have them posted in Germany in the event of our
not arriving in Spain. Most of us had to settle up our affairs in some
way, in case we might be lost at sea, and wished to write farewell
letters to our home people. Some of us, it will be remembered, had
already taken some steps in this direction before we were sent on to the
_Wolf_, as we thought it possible the _Wolf_ might become engaged with a
hostile cruiser. We ourselves had to write a farewell letter, among
others, to our daughter, born in Siam, from whom we had been separated
except for short periods of furlough spent in England, for twelve years.
It seemed very hard that after this long separation, and just when we
were looking forward to a joyful and fairly speedy reunion, we should
perhaps never see her again.

The Captain said we might write these letters, which would not be posted
if the _Igotz Mendi_ with us on board got back safely to Spain. "But,"
he added, "we have changed our plans, and now intend that you should be
landed in Norway. It will be safer for you all, and you will not have to
risk meeting our submarines in the Atlantic again. When we arrive in
Norwegian waters the German prize crew will be taken off the ship after
the _Wolf_ has got home, the ship will be handed over to the Spaniards,
and you will all be landed in Norway, from where you can easily make
your way to England." Here was quite a new plan--how much truth there
was in this declaration will be seen hereafter. From now onwards
definite promises began to be made to us concerning the end of our
captivity: "In a month you will be free," "The next full moon will be
the last you will see at sea," etc., etc.

We were now proceeding north every day, keeping in mid-Atlantic--always
well off the trade routes, though of course we crossed some on our way
north. The _Wolf_, naturally, was not looking for trouble, and had no
intention of putting up a fight if she could avoid it. She was not
looking for British warships; what we were anxious to know was whether
the British warships were looking for her! On the 19th the Captain again
thought he saw distant smoke on the horizon, and we careered about to
avoid it as before. But on this occasion we were running away from a
cloud! The next day we left the tropics, and with favourable weather
were making an average of about 180 knots daily. On several days about
this time, we passed through large masses of seaweed drifting from the
Sargasso Sea. We did not meet the _Wolf_ on the 22nd as our Captain
evidently expected to do, and we waited about for her several hours. But
next day we did meet her, and we were then told that in eighteen days we
should be ashore. We wondered where! We were then about 30° N., and we
parted from the _Wolf_ the same afternoon. It was always a great relief
to us all when we parted from her, keeping our ship's company of
prisoners intact. For the men amongst us feared we might all be put
upon the _Wolf_ to be taken to Germany, leaving our wives on the _Igotz
Mendi_. This, so we had been told, had been the intention of the
_Wolf's_ Commander when the prisoners were first put on the Spanish
boat. He had ordered that only women, and prisoners above sixty and
under sixteen should be put on the _Igotz Mendi_, but the German doctor,
a humane and kindly man, would have nothing to do with this plan and
declared he would not be responsible for the health of the women if this
were done. So that we owe it to him that wives were not separated from
their husbands during this anxious time, as the Commander of the _Wolf_
had inhumanly suggested.



A last effort was made to persuade the Captain to ask the _Wolf's_
Commander to release the Spanish ship here, take all the prize crew off,
and send us back to Cape Town (which would have suited the plans of
every one of us), for a suspicion began to grow in our minds that
Germany, and nowhere else, was the destination intended for us. But our
Captain would not listen to this suggestion, and said he was sure the
Spanish Captain would not go back to Cape Town even if he promised to do

On the next day, January 24th, relief seemed nearer than it had done
since our capture four months before. I was sitting on the starboard
deck, when suddenly, about 3.30 p.m., I saw coming up out of the mist,
close to our starboard bow, what looked like a cruiser with four
funnels. The Spanish officer on the bridge had apparently not seen it,
or did not want to! Neither, apparently, had the German sailor, if,
indeed, he was even on the bridge at that moment. I rushed to inform the
American sailing ship Captain of my discovery, and he confirmed my
opinion that it was a four-funnelled warship. The Germans were by this
time fully alarmed, and the ship slowed down a little; the Captain,
evidently also thinking that the vessel was a cruiser, went to his cabin
to dispose of the ship's papers, the crew got into their best uniform to
surrender, and it looked as if help were at hand at last. We got our
precious packages together, put them in our pockets, and got everything
ready to leave the ship. We were all out on deck, delighted beyond words
(our elation can be imagined), and saw the ship--it must be remembered
that it was a very misty day--resolve itself into two two-funnelled
ships, apparently transports, one seemingly in distress and very much
camouflaged, and the other standing by. Soon, however, they proceeded on
their course and crossed our bows fairly close. We were then all ordered
to our cabins, and we saw the two ships steam off to the westward,
without having spoken us or given any evidence of having seen us at

It was a most bitter disappointment to us, comparable to that of
shipwrecked sailors on a desert island watching a ship expected to
deliver them pass out of sight. Our hopes, raised to such a high pitch,
were indeed dashed--we felt very low after this. Would help never come?
Better we had not seen the ships than to be deceived and disappointed in
this way. But it was a great relief to the Germans. We never discovered
what ships they were, but the American said he believed them to be
American transports and that each mounted a gun. If only we had seen
them the day before, when we were in company with the _Wolf_, they might
have been suspicious, and probably have been of some help to us. The
Captain was very worried by their appearance, and did not feel that all
danger was passed even when the ships disappeared. He feared they might
communicate with some armed vessel met with, and give them a description
and the position of his ship. Also, had these two ships seen the _Wolf_,
from which we had parted only twenty-four hours before?

In the middle of the excitement the Spanish chief mate had rushed on to
the bridge into the wireless room, and while the wireless operator was
out of the room, or his attention had been diverted, he took from their
place all the six or eight bombs on board and threw them overboard. They
fell into the sea with a great splash just near where I was standing,
but I did not then know it was the bombs which were being got rid of. It
was a plucky act, for had he been discovered by the armed sentry while
doing it he would have undoubtedly been shot on the spot. On the next
day, on the morning of which we saw two sailing ships far distant, an
inquiry was held as to the disappearance of the bombs, which would, of
course, have been used to sink the ship, and the chief mate owned up. He
said that he did it for the sake of the women and children on board; as
the sea was rough, their lives would have been in danger if they had
been put in the lifeboats when the ship was bombed. He was confined to
his cabin for the rest of the voyage, but we managed to see and talk to
him from time to time, and thanked him for his bravery. Later he was
sentenced by the Commander of the _Wolf_ to three years' imprisonment in
Germany and a fine of 2,000 marks. From this time all the Spanish
officers were relieved of their duties.

The Germans had told us that, in the event of the prize being captured
while the weather was rough, the ship would not be bombed or sunk, as
they had no desire to endanger the lives of the women or children
amongst us. In fact, so they said, the ship would not be bombed under
any conditions when once the _Wolf_ had got all the coal she wanted. It
was indeed difficult to see what purpose would be served by the Germans
sinking the Spanish ship, if she were overhauled by an Allied cruiser.
The Allies could not keep her, as she would have to be restored to
Spain; the Germans said they would not keep her, but return her to her
owners. To have deliberately sunk her would only have meant a gratuitous
offence to Spain. Nevertheless, the next time we met the _Wolf_ a new
supply of bombs and hand grenades was put on board our ship. At the same
time an extra Lieutenant came on board, additional neutrals were sent
over to help work the ship, and the prize crew was increased from nine
to nineteen. All the prize crew now wore caps with the words "S.M.S.
_Otter_" inscribed thereon. Somewhere about this time the American
Captain and the second mate of one of the captured ships had returned to
them their instruments which had been taken from them at the time of
their capture.

The Kaiser's birthday, which fell on a Sunday, was honoured by the
sacrifice of the last calf, and was marked by a most terrific storm. The
wind was raging for hours at a hurricane force between eleven and
twelve, the seas were between thirty and forty feet high, and it seemed
impossible that the ship could live in such a sea. It seemed that she
must inevitably founder. But notwithstanding terrible rolling, she
shipped very little water, but all of the prisoners were alarmed at the
rough weather and the rolling of the ship. The wireless aerials were
brought down by the storm, and any seas that did come on board smashed
whatever deck hamper had been left about.

From this day onwards we lived in a condition of great misery, and death
stared us in the face many times. The prospect was a gloomy one: just
when my wife and I had reached the time to which we had been looking
forward for many years it seemed daily increasingly unlikely that our
lives could escape a violent and brutal ending. Such thoughts inevitably
occurred to our minds during these dark and anxious days. But there was
still to come even worse than we had yet experienced. It got colder and
colder every day for a considerable time; the food got worse and worse,
and we were on short rations; the ship became more and more dirty,
smokes ran short--only some ancient dusty shag brought from Germany by
the _Wolf_ and some virulent native tobacco from New Guinea
remained--and conditions generally became almost beyond endurance.
Darkness fell very early in these far northern latitudes, and the long
nights were very dreary and miserable. What wretched nights we spent in
that crowded saloon--crushed round the table attempting to read or play
cards! It was too dismal and uncomfortable for words, but we had either
to endure that or our cold, wet cabins. Sundays seemed to be the days on
which the worst storms occurred, though on very few of the days from
this time onwards did we have anything but very dirty weather. The
Australian stewardess became very ill with asthma, and with no adequate
medicine supply on board, no suitable food, and no warm or dry cabin for
her, it is indeed a miracle that she lived through these last few weeks.
She owes her life to the devotion of the Australian Major of the A.M.C.
on board and the lady prisoners who assisted in nursing her.

On February 5th we again met the _Wolf_--we had sighted her on the
evening of the 4th, but it was too rough then to communicate, and, it
was said, the _Wolf_ did not recognize our rocket signals. With the
_Wolf's_ usual luck, the weather moderated next day, and the ships
stopped. Just as the Germans on land always seemed to get the weather
they wanted, so they were equally favoured at sea. This was noticed over
and over again, and the _Hitachi_ passengers had very good reason to be
sick about this. The two days previous to her capture the sea had been
so rough that the "bird" could not go up, but on the actual day of the
capture the sea had very much calmed down, enabling the seaplane to go
up and spot the _Hitachi's_ position.

Those who had written letters to be sent on the _Wolf_ sent them over on
this day, and the Spanish chief mate expected to be sent on the _Wolf_,
as we might not meet her again. Luckily for him, however, for some
reason or other he was not transferred that day, and neither he nor we
ever saw the _Wolf_ again after the morning of February 6th. Doubtless
the _Wolf_ expected to meet us again before the final separation
occurred, when the transference of the officer would have been effected.

We heard from the _Wolf_ that she was getting very short of food, and
that there was much sickness, including many cases of scurvy, on board.
The pigeons must have gone the way of all flesh by this time, and
perhaps the dachshunds had too--in the form of German sausages! Some of
the prisoners, we knew, had very little clothing, and positively none
for cold weather, and our hearts were sore at the thought of so many of
our fellow-countrymen, many of whom we had known, in good and ill
fortune, being taken into captivity in Germany.

The next day we entered the Arctic Circle. The cold was intense, the
cabins were icy, the temperature falling as low as 14° F. in some of
them. There was no heating apparatus on the ship, with the exception of
a couple of small heating pipes in the saloon. These were usually
covered with the officers' thick clothes, and some of the passengers'
garments drying. The cabin curtains froze to the ports; all the cabin
roofs leaked, and it was impossible to keep the floors and bedding dry;
and in our cabin, in addition, we had water constantly flowing and
swishing backwards and forwards between the iron deck of the ship and
the wooden floor of the cabin. This oozed up through the floor and
accumulated under the settee, and on many nights we emptied five or six
buckets full of icy water from under the settee, which had also to be
used as a bed. At last I persuaded the Captain to allow one of the
sailors to drill a hole in the side of the cabin so that the water could
have an outlet on to the deck. I had asked that this might be done
directly the water appeared in our cabin, but was told it was _against
the regulations of the Board of Trade_! Quoting the Board of Trade under
such conditions--was this a sample of German humour? We managed to
secure a piece of matting for our cabin floor--it was soaked through
every day, but we had it dried daily in the engine-room. Since the great
storm on the Kaiser's birthday our feet had never been dry or warm, and
were in this condition till some hours after we got ashore.

The ports of the cabins had all long ago been painted black in order
that no light might show through, and the darkness at night, especially
in these stormy seas, was always very sinister and ugly, not to say
dangerous--not a spark of light showing on deck. We had to sit in these
cold and dark cabins during the day. The weather prevented us from being
on deck, which was often covered with frost and snow, and often there
was nowhere else to sit. The electric light was on for only a limited
time each day, so, as the ports could not be opened, it being far too
cold, we asked and obtained permission to scratch a little of the paint
off the ports in our cabin. This made things a little more bearable, but
it can easily be imagined how people who had been living in tropical
climates for many years fared under such conditions. As for our own
case, my wife had spent only two winters out of Siam during the last
twenty years, while I had spent none during the last twenty-one, and it
is no exaggeration to say that we suffered agonies with the cold. It was
nothing short of cruel to expose women and children to this after they
had been dragged in captivity over the seas for many months. The Captain
had ordered a part of the bunkers to be cleared, so that the prisoners
might sit there in the cold weather. But the place was so dirty and
uncomfortable, and difficult of access, in addition to it being in
darkness, and quite unprovided with seats, that most of the prisoners
preferred the crowded little saloon. Luchs was provided with a swanky
kennel for the cold weather. The Spanish carpenter contrived it, and it
looked like a small model of a Norwegian church--painted the Allied
grey! Even the Captain's dog was more comfortable than we were!

On the morning of February 7th we for the first time encountered
icefloes, when attempting the northern passage between Greenland and
Iceland. About 11 a.m. we stopped and hooted for the _Wolf_, as a fog
had come on--the first time we had heard a steamer's siren since the day
of our capture. We waited for some hours in the ice, but no answering
signal came, so the Captain decided to turn back, as he thought it
impossible to force his way through the ice. We therefore went back
again on our course, the Captain hoping that the wind would change and
cease blowing the icefloes from off the shores of Greenland.

That morning is unforgettable. The cold fog, the great bergs of ice
floating by the ship and sometimes crashing into her, the dreary sea,
the cold, filthy, miserable ship, our hopeless condition, all helped to
lower our spirits, and we felt we had plumbed the very depths of misery.

After a day or two slow steaming on this course and occasional stopping
altogether--what dreary, miserable, hopeless days!--we resumed our
attempt to go to the north of Iceland, evidently to escape the attention
of the British ships which the Germans expected to encounter between the
south of Iceland and the Faroes. But before long it became evident that
ice was still about, and in the darkness of the early morning of
February 11th we bumped heavily against icebergs several times. This
threw some of us out of our bunks; once again there was no more sleep
during the night. This time the Captain abandoned his attempt to go
through the northern passage, and turned the ship round to try his luck
in the passage he did not expect to be so free from British attentions.

We thought perhaps that as we were on short rations and even drinking
water was running short, and the case of us all really desperate, the
Captain would land us and give up the ship at Reykjavik, leaving us
there to be rescued. Even a stay in Iceland would be better than one in
Germany, for which country we now all suspected we were bound. The
uncertainty concerning our ultimate destination added to our miseries,
and these were not lessened when on February 11th the Captain told us,
_for the first time_ that it was, and always had been, the intention to
take us on the _Igotz Mendi_ to Germany, there to be interned in
civilian prisoners' camps. He told us, too, that the women and those of
the men over military age would be released at once, but we all declined
to believe anything else our captors told us, as they had deliberately
and repeatedly deceived us by assuring us at various times they were
going to land us in Spain, or Norway, or some other neutral country. The
string of German lies must surely by now be ended. But no! There were
still more to come, as will be seen later on.

At daylight on the 11th we were still among icefloes, but going away
from instead of meeting them, and on that morning we saw in the distance
the coast of Iceland, which the Germans tried to persuade us was the
sails of fishing boats, as they did not wish us to think we were so near
the Icelandic coast, the first land that we had seen since the Maldive
Islands, a week after our capture, i.e. more than four months before. We
also saw a few fishing boats off the coast.

We now shaped a course for the coast of Norway, keeping to the north of
the Faroes. On Sunday, the 17th, we again ran into a very heavy storm.
Ever since the storm on January 27th the propeller had been constantly
racing and sending shudders through the ship from stem to stern. On this
day this feature, which was always disconcerting and to a certain extent
alarming, became more marked, and the thud with which the ship met the
seas more and more loud, so loud indeed that on one occasion the Captain
thought we had struck a mine, and rushed from the saloon to the bridge
to ascertain what damage had been done. Luckily for us, the engines were
British made. No inferior workmanship could possibly have stood the
terrific strain put on these engines during these weeks of terrible
storms. The Captain and crew had by this time become very anxious as to
the fate of the _Wolf_, as no news had been received concerning her. Day
after day the Captain told us he expected news, but they went by without
any being received. But on the evening of the 19th the Captain informed
us that he had received a wireless message announcing the safe arrival
of the _Wolf_ at a German port. The Germans seemed singularly little
elated at the news, and hardly ever mentioned the subject again after
that evening. This was so different from what we had expected that most
of the prisoners did not believe the _Wolf_ had got home. We hoped that
she had been intercepted and captured by a British cruiser, and that
with any luck a similar fate might be in store for us.

The _Wolf_ had certainly made a wonderful cruise, and the Germans were
naturally very proud of it--almost the only exploit of their navy of
which they reasonably could be proud. They had successfully evaded the
enemy for fifteen months, and had kept their ship in good repair, for
they had first-class mechanics and engineers on board. But she must have
been very weather-worn and partly crippled before she arrived at a home
port. She had touched at no port or no shore from the day she left
Germany till the day she returned to the Fatherland. She was, too, the
only German raider which had extended her operations beyond the
Atlantic. The _Wolf_ had cruised and raided in the Indian and Pacific
Oceans as well. She had sunk seven steamers and seven sailing ships, and
claimed many more ships sunk as a result of her mine-laying. Besides the
prizes already named, she had captured and sunk the _Turritella_,
_Wordsworth_, _Jumna_, _Dee_, _Winslow_, and _Encore_, the last three of
which were sailing vessels. Her first prize, the _Turritella_, taken in
February 1917 in the Indian Ocean, was originally a German ship, a
sister of the _Wolf_, captured by the British. On her recapture by the
Germans, she was equipped as a raider and mine-layer, and sent off on an
expedition by herself. But soon afterwards near Aden she encountered a
British warship, when the prize crew scuttled her and surrendered.



The Germans were now getting very anxious as they approached the
blockade zone. They affected, however, to believe that there was no
blockade, and that there was no need of one now that America was in the
war. "No one will trade with us," they said; "accordingly there is no
need of a blockade." But, as some of the passengers remarked to the
Captain, "If there is no blockade, as the Germans say, why haven't you
more raiders out, instead of only one, and why have so few been able to
come out?" There was, of course, no answer to this! The Captain further
remarked that even if there were a blockade it would always be possible
to get through it at the week-end, as all the British blockading fleet
returned to port for that time! The _Wolf_, he said, came out and got
home through the blockade at the week-end. It was quite simple; we were
to do the same, and we should be escorted by submarines, as the _Wolf_
had been on both occasions.

Nevertheless, the Germans were at great pains to keep as far as possible
from any place in which British ships might appear. But unfortunately
not one did appear, here or anywhere else, to rescue us, although we
felt certain in our own minds that some of our ships would be present
and save us in these parts of the seas, which we believed were regularly
patrolled. What meetings, discussions, and consultations we had in our
wretched tiny cabin during these dreadful days and nights! We had
cheered ourselves up for a long time past that the _Wolf_ would never
get through the British blockade, and that some friendly vessel would
surely be the means of our salvation. The Spanish officers who had had
experience of the blockade also assured us that no vessel could possibly
get through unchallenged; and we, in our turn, had assured the American
captives among us of the same thing. There was no fog to help the enemy,
the condition of the moon was favourable to us, and we had pointed out
to each other on maps various places where there _must_ be British ships
on the watch. It was a bitter disappointment to us that we saw none.
It was heartbreaking. We had built so much on our hopes; it was galling
beyond words for the enemy to be in the right and ourselves mistaken.
But, after all, we reflected, what is one ship in this vast expanse of
stormy seas? In vain we tried to derive some comfort from this. But,
alas! _we_ were on that one ship, which fact made all the difference! We
had been "hanging our hats" on the British Navy for so long--surely we
were not mistaken! Surely, to change the metaphor, we were not going to
be let down after all! The British Navy, we knew, never let anybody
down; but in our condition of protracted physical and nervous
depression, it was not to be wondered at that thoughts of hopelessness
were often present in our minds.


Taken on the morning of our rescue.]

On the 20th we were off Bergen, and saw the coast in the distance. I
suggested to the Captain that it would save much trouble if he would
land us there. He replied that he would very much like to, but was
afraid it was quite impossible! I further asked him whether, if we were
ultimately rescued, he would give us a pass conferring further immunity
from capture at sea by the enemy, as we felt we had had more than our
share of captivity at sea. He said he was afraid that would be against
regulations! The next day we were nearer the coast and saw a couple of
suspicious steam trawlers which gave the Germans a few anxious moments,
and on that night we encountered the greatest storm we experienced on
the cruise. The wind was terrific, huge seas broke over the ship, the
alley-way outside the cabins was awash all the night, and the water even
invaded the saloon to a small extent. Articles and receptacles for water
that had not been made absolutely fast in the cabins were tossed about;
many cabins were drenched and running with water. The noise of the wind
howling and the seas breaking on the deck was so alarming to those in
the outside cabins that they left the cabins, waded up the alley-way,
and assembled in the saloon, though sleep that night was utterly
impossible there or anywhere else on the ship. The German officers when
coming off watch came to the saloon and assured us that things were all
right and that there was no danger, but the Spanish Captain was very
concerned as to the treatment his ship was receiving both at the hands
of the elements and those of the Germans, who frankly said they cared
nothing about the condition of the ship provided they got her into
Germany. The ship, though steaming full speed, made no progress that
night, but went back, and in three days, the 19th, 20th, and 21st, made
only 100 knots.

After such stormy nights, and in such bitter cold weather, a breakfast
of cold canned crab, or dry bread with sugar, or rice and hot water plus
a very little gravy, or bread and much watered condensed milk, was not
very nourishing or satisfying, but very often that was all we had. The
food we had was just sufficient to keep us alive, and that was all. This
weather of course pleased the German Captain, who said that no enemy
ship would or could board him under such conditions. In fact, he said no
enemy vessel would be out of port in such weather! Only those
supermariners, the Germans, could manage a ship under similar
conditions! He told us we were much safer on the _Igotz Mendi_ than we
should be on a British cruiser, which might at any time be attacked by a
German armed ship. "I would rather die on a British cruiser to-night,"
my wife retorted, "than be a prisoner in Germany," an opinion we all
endorsed. The weather alone was sufficiently terrifying to the landsmen
amongst us; the prospect of having to take to the lifeboats at any
moment if the Germans took it in into their heads to sink the ship if
she were sighted by an enemy ship added to the fears of all of us. None
of us dared undress thoroughly before turning in--when we did turn in,
lifebelts were always kept handy, and we had to be ready for any
emergency at any moment. And, as will be readily understood, our
imaginations had been working horribly during the last few months,
especially since we began to encounter the rough weather and the winter
gales in the grey and cheerless wastes of the North Atlantic. The
natural conditions were bad enough in all conscience. But, in addition,
we had the knowledge that if we survived them we were going into German
captivity. Could anything be worse?

There had been no boat drill, and the lifeboat accommodation was
hopelessly inadequate for more than eighty people now on board. It is
certain, with the mixed crew on board, that there would have been a
savage fight for the boats. The prospect, looked at from any point of
view, was alarming, and one of the greatest anxiety for us all. Physical
distress and discomfort were not the only things we had to contend
with--the nervous strain was also very great, and seemed endless.

On February 22nd we rounded the Naze. Here, we thought, we should
certainly come across some British vessel. But that day and the next
passed--it seemed as if we too were to get in during the week-end!--and
hope of rescue disappeared. Many messages had been dropped overboard in
bottles and attached to spars, etc., during the voyage, but all,
apparently, in vain. The bearing of the Germans towards us became
markedly changed, discipline more rigid, and still greater care was
taken that no vestige of light showed anywhere at night. We were almost
in their clutches now, the arrival at Kiel and transference to Ruhleben
were openly talked of, and our captors showed decided inclination to
jeer at us and our misfortunes. We were told that all diaries, if we had
kept them, must be destroyed, or we should be severely punished when we
arrived in Germany. Accordingly, those of us who had kept diaries made
ready to destroy them, but fortunately did not do so. I cut the
incriminating leaves out of mine, ready to be torn up and thrown
overboard. I had written my diary in Siamese characters during the whole
time, so the Germans could not have gained much information from it.

Sunday, February 24th, dawned, a cold, cheerless day. "I suppose this
time next week we shall be going to church in Kiel," said one of the
prisoners to the chief mate at breakfast. "Or," the latter replied, "I
might be going to church with my brother, who is already a prisoner in
the Isle of Man!" We were now in the comparatively narrow waters of the
Skager-Rack, and we saw only one vessel here, a Dutch fishing boat. Our
last chance had nearly gone. Most of us were now resigned to our fate
and saw no hope--in fact, I had written in my diary the day before,
"There is no hope left, no boat of ours to save us"--but some said we
still might see a British war vessel when we rounded the Skaw. At
mid-day the sailor on the look-out came into the saloon and reported to
the Captain that a fog was coming on. "Just the weather I want," he
exclaimed, rubbing his hands. "With this lovely fog we shall round the
Skaw and get into German waters unobserved." It looked, indeed, as if
our arrival in Germany were now a dead certainty.

But the fog that the Captain welcomed was just a little too much for
him; it was to prove his undoing rather than his salvation. The "Good
old German God," about whom we had heard so much, was not going to see
them through this time. For once, _we_ were to be favoured. The white
fog thickened after the mid-day meal, and, luckily for us, it was
impossible to see far ahead. Soon after two we passed a floating mine,
and we knew that before long we should be going through a minefield--not
a very cheerful prospect with floating mines round us in a fog,
especially as the Captain admitted that the position of the mines might
have been altered since he last had knowledge of their exact situation!
But we were all too far gone to care now; and some of us gathered
together in our cold and gloomy cabin were discussing the prospects and
conditions of imprisonment in Germany and attempting to console
ourselves with the reflection that even internment at Ruhleben could not
be worse than the captivity we had experienced on the high seas, when,
at 3.30 on that Sunday afternoon, we felt a slight bump, as if the ship
had touched bottom. Then another bump, and then still one more! We were
fast! Were we really to be saved at the very last minute? It began to
look like it, like the beginning of the end, but it would not do to
build too much on this slender foundation. The engines continued
working, but no progress was made; they were reversed--still no

One of the men amongst us was so overjoyed that he attempted a very
premature somersault in the saloon. He was sure it was to be a case of
"Hooray for our side" this time! What thoughts of freedom, what hopes
flashed through our minds! The fog was fairly thick, but we could just
make out through it the line of the shore and the waves breaking on it
some distance away, and two sirens were going at full blast, one from a
lightship and one from a lighthouse. The Captain, luckily from our point
of view, had mistaken one for the other, and so had run aground. The
German officers became agitated; with great difficulty a boat was got
out--what chance should we have had if we had had to leave the ship in
haste at any time?--soundings made, and various means adopted to work
the ship off, but all were of no avail. The Captain admitted that his
charts of this particular spot were not new and not good. Again how
lucky for us! It was impossible to tell the state of the tide at this
moment; we all hoped it might be high tide, for then our rescue would be
certain. The engines were set to work from time to time, but no movement
could be made. Darkness fell, and found us still stuck fast. Our spirits
had begun to rise, the prospect was distinctly brighter, and soon after
six o'clock the Assistant Lieutenant went ashore in mufti to telephone
to the nearest port, Frederikshavn, for help. What reply he received we
never heard, but we _did_ hear that he reported he was on a German ship
from Bergen to Kiel and wanted help. Lourenço Marques to Kiel, via
Iceland, would have been nearer the truth!

About eight o'clock we heard from one of the neutrals among the crew
that the Captain of a salvage tug was shortly coming aboard to inquire
into matters. The ladies among us decided to stay in the saloon while
the Captain of the tug interviewed the German Captain in the chartroom
above it. On the arrival of the tug Captain on the bridge, the ladies in
the saloon created a veritable pandemonium, singing, shrieking, and
laughing at the top of their voices. It sounded more like a Christmas
party than one of desperate prisoners in distress. The Danish Captain
departed; what had been the result of his visit we did not know, but at
any rate he knew there were women on board. The German Captain came down
into the saloon, asked pleasantly enough what all the noise was about,
and said, "I have offered the salvage people £5,000 to tow the ship off;
money is nothing to us Germans. This will be done at four to-morrow
morning, and we shall then proceed on our way to Kiel."

Some of us had talked over a plan suggested by the second mate of a
captured ship, by which one of the neutrals among the crew should
contrive to go ashore in one of the tug's boats in the darkness,
communicate with the nearest British Consul, and inform him of the
situation and the desperate case we were in. We promised him £500, to be
raised among the "saloon passengers," if by so doing our rescue should
be accomplished.

We remained in the saloon talking over developments when we heard that a
Danish gunboat had come nearly alongside, and that her Commander was
coming on board. He had presumably received a report from the Captain of
the tug. We heard afterwards that he had his suspicions about the ship,
and had brought with him on board one of his own men to make inquiries
of the crew, among whom were Norwegians, Swedes, and Danes, while he
kept the German Commander busy in the saloon. The previous mistake of
taking the Danish Captain on to the bridge was not to be repeated. The
Commander of the gunboat was to come into the saloon. So the ladies
could not remain there and make their presence known. But some of them
contrived to leave some of their garments on the table and settee in the
saloon--a muff, hats, gloves, etc. These the Danish Commander must have
seen; and not only that, for he saw some ladies who had stood in one
door of the saloon before they were sent to their cabins, when he
entered at the other one. He also saw the Australian Major of the
A.M.C., in khaki, and other passengers standing with the ladies in the
alley-way. If he had entertained any suspicions as to the correct
character of the ship, which the Germans were of course trying to
conceal, they must have been strongly confirmed by now. It was now too
late for us to be sent to our cabins, as a German sailor came and
ordered. We had achieved our object.

It was a night of great unrest, but finally most of us lay down in our
clothes. For very many nights we had been unable to rest properly owing
to the violence of the weather, the possibility of having to leave the
ship at any moment, and our general anxiety concerning our desperate
condition. We had not had our clothes off for many days. At 4 a.m. we
heard the engines working, as the Captain had told us they would, but
still no movement of the ship could be felt. How we prayed that the
ship might refuse to budge! She _did_ refuse, and soon the engines
ceased working; it was evident then that the attempt to get the ship off
must for the present be given up. The wind was rising and the sea
getting rougher, and at 6 a.m. a German sailor came and knocked at the
doors of all the cabins, saying, "Get up, and pack your baggage and go
ashore." _We were to go ashore? We, who had not seen the shore for
months, and had never expected to land on any, much less a free one,
were to go ashore?_ Were we dreaming? No, it was true, though it seemed
too good to be believed. Never was order more willingly and gladly
obeyed! But first we had to see how the ship stood with regard to the
shore; we went out on deck to look--there was the blessed green shore
less than half a mile away, the first really solid earth we had seen
close at hand since we left Colombo exactly five months before. Only
those who have seen nothing but the sea for many months can imagine with
what a thrill of joy we saw the shore and realized that we were saved at
last. We had seen the sea under nearly every aspect possible, from the
Equator to the Arctic regions, and we had appreciated more than ever
before its vastness. And yet in all these months, travelling these
thousands of miles, we had, besides the few vessels already mentioned,
seen hardly any ships! We had been under shell-fire, taken prisoner, had
lived on board a German raider and in her evil company many months, had
been in lifeboats once in the open sea, were about to go in once more,
in a rough sea, to be rescued from captivity, had seen our ship sunk and
another one captured and scuttled, had been through terrific wintry
weather in the North Atlantic, among icebergs, in the submarine zone,
and on the very borders of an enemy minefield!--experiences that perhaps
no other landsmen have passed through! Not many of us wish for sea
travel again.

Lieutenant Rose came along and told us to hurry, or we might not be able
to get off, as the sea was getting rougher every minute. We _did_ hurry
indeed, and it did not take us long to dress and throw our things into
our bags. When we had done so and were ready to go to the lifeboats, we
were told that we might take no baggage whatever, as the lifeboat was
from a shore station and could save lives only, not baggage.

The German Captain took his bad luck in good part, but he was, of
course, as sick as we were rejoiced at the turn events had taken. He
had known the night before he could get no help from the Danish
authorities, as they refused towing assistance till all the passengers
had been taken off the ship. But he had hoped to get off unaided at four
in the morning, and he was not going to admit defeat and loss till they
were absolutely certain. He professed great anger with the Danes, saying
that if they had only helped as he requested, the ship could have been
towed off in the night, and we with all our baggage could have been
landed at a Danish port alongside a pier the next morning, instead of
having to leave all our baggage behind on the ship. I fancy not many of
us believed this; if the ship had been got off we should have brought up
at Kiel, and not at any Danish port. And, as the tug Captain said
afterwards, if he had towed the ship off the Germans would have most
likely cut the hawser directly afterwards, he would have received no pay
for his work, and we certainly should not have landed in Denmark.

It was a terrible blow for Lieutenant Rose; enough to put an end to his
prospects in the Imperial German Navy. Let us pay a tribute to a fallen
enemy, for such he now became. It is pleasing to be able to record, in
a German-made war which has crowded into its four years such
heartbreaking sorrow, misery, horror, and destruction as has surely
never been known in a similar period in the world's history, and with
Germany's unparalleled record of wickedness and calculated cruelty to
her captives and those she wished to terrorize on land and sea, that
there were still remaining _some_ Germans who had retained some idea of
more humane treatment towards those who had the misfortune to fall into
their hands. Fortunately for us, Lieutenant Rose was one of these--a
striking contrast to the devils in his country's U boats. He had
succeeded in maintaining not unfriendly relations with his captives, and
had on the whole done his best for them under the conditions prevailing.
He had evaded capture for fifteen months, and had skilfully carried his
ship through terrible storms and many other perils--_almost_ to port.
Now, just at the very last moment when it seemed absolutely certain he
would get his prize home and reap his reward, his hopes were dashed, and
failure, blank and utter failure, was the result. But the death of his
hopes meant for us the resurrection of ours, and his failure, freedom
for us all.



A fine lifeboat, manned by sturdy Danish sailors, was alongside the
ship; the sea was very rough, but our ship steady, firmly embedded in
the sandy bottom, and driven farther in since she stranded. The packages
we had decided to save at any cost were put in our pockets, lifebelts
and life-saving waistcoats once more put on, and once more we all
climbed a ship's ladder, but as the lifeboat was rising and falling
almost the height of the ship with the heavy seas, descent into it was
not easy. One by one we dropped into the outstretched arms of the
sailors as the boat rose on the crest of a wave to the bottom of the
ladder. It was a trying moment, but nothing mattered now; once over the
side of the ship, we were no longer in German hands, and were _free_!
The waves dashed over and drenched us as we sat in the lifeboat; we were
sitting in icy water, all of us more or less wet through. At last the
lifeboat crew pulled for the shore, the high seas sweeping over us all
the way. We grounded on the beach, the sturdy sailors carried some,
others jumped into the water and waded ashore, and we were all on terra
firma, free at last, after weary months of waiting and captivity. Groups
of villagers were waiting on the beach to welcome us even at this early
hour. They plied us with questions as far as they could, and great was
their wonder at what we had to tell.



We had been saved at the eleventh hour, almost the fifty-ninth minute of
it; we were almost in German waters, at the very gates of Germany, being
due at Kiel the very next day. It was a miraculous escape if ever there
was one, and came at a moment when all hope had gone. Would that the
_Wolf_ had gone ashore in the same place! All our fellow-countrymen on
board her would then have been free, and they could have given
information and saved us as well.

What emotions surged within us as we trod the free earth once more! What
we had gone through since we were last on shore! Then it was on British
soil; now it was on that of a friendly neutral country. It seemed
strange to be treading land again after five months on shipboard. How
welcome to see the green fields, the horses at work on the beach, the
people in the village, the village itself! How good it all was! We had
escaped imprisonment with the enemy, escaped making acquaintance with
the notorious Ruhleben of evil fame. The more we reflected on it--and we
did so every minute--the more wonderful did our escape appear. But our
thoughts also turned to our friends on the _Wolf_ who were doomed to
meet the cruel fate from which we had so mercifully been delivered.

Once on dry land, and escorted by the villagers, we walked over the
sandhills to the lighthouse, about half a mile away. There we were
received with open arms. The kindly Danes could not do enough for us. We
had only what we stood up in; we dried our clothes, other dry garments
were offered us, hot drinks and food were supplied liberally, and we
were generally made much of. We had come back to life and warmth once
more. The lighthouse staff and villagers vied with each other in their
efforts to make us feel at home and comfortable. Some of the sailors and
fishermen even offered us part of their own breakfasts and dinners,
which were wrapped up in handkerchiefs, ready to take to their work. The
bonny rosy-cheeked Danish girls aired all the English they knew, and
wanted to hear all about it; the jolly children danced round with joy
when they heard the wonderful story of our deliverance. Every one, from
the charming and dignified head of police who heard our story and
examined our passports, to the humblest village child, rejoiced at our
escape. The good motherly folk at the lighthouse fairly bubbled over
with joy as they chattered and poured out sympathy and busied themselves
with attending to our creature comforts.

After interviews with some Danish Government officials we were taken to
hotels in Skagen, the nearest town, a small summer bathing resort, just
to the south of the Skaw. It was a gloriously clear, bright, and sunny
day, though very windy and cold, and the condition of the fields showed
that "February fill dyke" had been living up to its reputation. Some of
us walked into Skagen, and on the way heard the most enchanting sounds
we had heard for months--the songs of skylarks--music which we certainly
had never expected to hear again. Our spirits were as bright as the
larks' on that day, and the birds seemed to be putting into music for us
the joy and gratitude we felt in our hearts. The ladies were, of course,
too exhausted to walk, and my wife got a lift in a cart in which a
Danish girl and a man were proceeding to Skagen. They asked her endless
questions, and she expressed her opinions very strongly on the German
treatment of their prisoners, and of the endless lies they had told us.
On arrival at Skagen we discovered that the man was the German Consul at
that town! So, for once in his life, he heard the truth about his

After lunch, the first square meal we had had for months, we set off to
telegraph to our relatives and friends, to announce we were still in the
world. It was one of our greatest anxieties on board that we could not
communicate with our friends, who we knew would be grieving over our
disappearance and, we feared, would have given us up for lost, for we
had been out of communication with the outside world for five months.
Never daring to hope that an opportunity to despatch it might ever
occur, I had many a time mentally framed a cablegram which, in the
fewest possible words, should tell our friends of our adventures since
we disappeared from human ken. But the long-delayed opportunity had at
last arrived, and our wildest hopes and dreams were realized. They had
become solid fact, and the words flashed over the wires from Denmark to
friends in Siam and relatives in England were: "Captured September
26th--proceeding Germany--ashore Denmark--lifeboat rescue--both well."
The last two words were not, of course, strictly true, but they would at
least serve to reassure our friends that we had been less unfortunate
than only too many British captives in German hands.

The same afternoon we walked back to the beach to see if we could go
aboard the stranded ship to retrieve our luggage, but the sea was far
too rough to allow of this, and the German and Spanish crew had not been
taken off. While on the beach we saw two floating mines exploded by a
Danish gunboat. We had not only had a narrow escape from the Germans,
but also from the dangers of a minefield. The next day was also too
rough for us to go aboard; in fact, it was so rough that the lifeboat
went out and took everybody off the ship, both Spanish and German. The
Spanish first mate was thus saved, and after all did not serve his
sentence in Germany. We congratulated him once more on his lucky escape.
He had escaped even more than we had. It was reported that a German
submarine appeared to take off the German officers on this day, but as
it was too rough to lower the boats this could not be contrived.

The _Igotz Mendi_ was now deserted, but as the Danish authorities had
adjudged her, twenty-four hours after her stranding, to be a Spanish
ship, she had reverted to her original owners. Accordingly, before
leaving her the Spanish Captain had hoisted the Spanish flag at her
stern, the first time that or any other flag had appeared there since
that November morning when the Germans had captured her far away in the
Indian Ocean. She was no longer a German prize. She would have been the
only one the _Wolf_ had secured to take home--a neutral ship with only a
few tons of coal on board, and a few married couples, and sick and
elderly men as prisoners--not much to show for a fifteen months' cruise;
and even that small prey was denied the Germans, though the _Wolf_ had
certainly carried home a valuable cargo and some hundreds of prisoners,
besides doing considerable damage to the shipping of the Allies.

The position of the stranded ship was a unique one. She was a neutral
ship, a German prize, stranded in neutral waters, with a crew composed
of Germans and neutral prisoners, and carrying twenty passenger
prisoners of many enemy nationalities--English, Australian, American,
Japanese, Chinese, and Indian; of these fifteen were European, and in
the company were nine women and two children.

Never was there a more dramatic turning of the tables; the Germans were
now interned and we were free. The German officers were sent off under
guard to an inland town, and the sailors sent to a camp in another part
of Denmark. The sailors did not attempt to disguise their joy at the
turn events had taken. On their return to Germany they would have had a
few weeks' leave and then done duty in a submarine or at the front. Now,
they were interned in a land where there was at least much more to eat
than they could have hoped for in Germany, and their dangers were at an
end till the war was over. They were marched under an armed guard of
Danes up and down the village street several times on one of these days;
they were all smiles, singing as they marched along.

The next day a hurricane was still blowing, and going aboard was still
out of the question. The ship was blown farther in shore, and it began
to look as if she would break up and we should see nothing of our
personal belongings. The day after, however, was beautifully fine, and
we left Skagen harbour in two motor barges, almost touching a floating
mine on the way. It took more than an hour to get from the harbour to
the ship, for we had to take a very circuitous route owing to the
shallow water and many sandbanks. It was a bitterly cold trip, but at
last we reached and with great difficulty--as no gangway was down and we
had to climb a ladder projecting a few feet out from the ship's
side--boarded the ship, which was in charge of the Danish authorities.
After some difficulty, for the ship was in a state of great chaos, we
secured from various parts of the ship all our baggage, which was landed
that night at Skagen, much to our relief, as up to that time we had only
what we stood up in at the time we landed from the lifeboat. So that,
after all, we lost very little of our baggage, a most unexpected stroke
of good luck. Some of us returned to the shore, only a short distance
away, in the salvage tug's lifeboat, as we did not relish the long
return trip in the motor barges, crammed as they would be with baggage.
From there we walked to our hotel. The baggage was taken to the Custom
House, and next day put on the train, so we were unable to open it till
we arrived in Copenhagen, by which time we stood badly in need of it.

We had set foot on the _Igotz Mendi_ for the last time. She had been our
"home" for more than three months--never shall we forget her. I can
picture every detail of her as I write, the tiny cabins, the miserable
tiled floor saloon, and the wretched meals taken therein, the dirty
condition of the whole ship, the iron decks--none of it will ever be
forgotten by any one of her unwilling passengers.

The _Igotz Mendi_ was some time afterwards towed off into deep water,
and after repairs left Danish waters and proceeded to Spain, after
loading up with a full cargo of coal at Newcastle. Wonderful to
relate--for it is indeed a marvel that the Germans did not make a
special and successful effort to sink her--she arrived at her home port,
Bilbao, on June 21, 1918, with her whole ship's company complete. She
had naturally a great reception, being welcomed with flags, bands, and
fireworks. What an adventurous voyage she had had since she last left
European waters! We owe a great deal to her genial Captain and all her
officers and crew, who one and all did what they could for us and were
invariably kind and sympathized with us in our misfortunes and rejoiced
with us at our escape. It may even have been due to the gentle
persuasion of her Spanish crew that the _Igotz Mendi_ made such a
thorough job of running aground at Skagen. The Spaniards naturally
regarded their captors with no friendly eye, and were as anxious as we
were that their ship should not get to Germany.

During the week we had to give evidence to the Danish authorities
concerning our capture and treatment on board. We were overwhelmed with
kindness by the Danes, who made no secret of their sympathies with the
Allies; invitations to dinners and parties flowed in, and we could not
have accepted them all if we had stayed as many weeks as we had days.

On Friday, March 1st, at 1 p.m., most of us left Skagen. The whole
village turned out to give us a good send-off, and snapshots galore were
taken--this, indeed, had been going on ever since we landed. The ladies
among us were presented with flowers and chocolates, the men with
smokes, and we left with the heartiest good wishes of our warm-hearted
hosts. While in Denmark we read the German account of the _Wolf's_
expedition and exploits. It was, of course, grossly exaggerated, and
contained a fantastic account of the "action" between the _Wolf_ and
_Hitachi_. Rather a one-sided "action," as the _Wolf_ did all the

From Skagen our passage home was arranged by the British Consular
authorities. The journey from Skagen to Copenhagen was rather trying,
since we had to leave the too well-heated train during the night and
embark on train ferries when crossing from mainland to island and from
one island to another. It was bitterly cold. We made our first
acquaintance with bread and butter tickets at Skagen, and found them
also in use on the railways and train ferries in Denmark and

We arrived at Copenhagen about 8.30 on the following morning. When at
Skagen I had written to Sir Ralph Paget, K.C.M.G., His Britannic
Majesty's Minister to Denmark--whom we had known some years before when
filling a similar position in Siam--telling him of our rescue. Lady
Paget and he were waiting at the station to meet us. They straightway
took my wife and myself off to the British Legation in Copenhagen, and
insisted on us remaining there as their guests during our stay in the
Danish capital. They were the personification of kindness to us, and
helped us in every possible way, and it would be quite impossible for us
to express adequately our great indebtedness to them. We obtained fresh
_visés_ for our passports from the British, Swedish, and Norwegian
Consulates, and my wife, who had been unable in Siam to obtain a
passport to travel to England, was granted an "emergency passport," on
which she was described as an "ex-prisoner." The Germans had, quite
unintentionally, it is true, helped her to get to England when our own
Government had forbidden it.

We left Copenhagen on the evening of March 4th, and once more during the
night embarked in a train ferry to cross to Sweden at Helsingborg. The
next morning found us at Goteborg. The old Mauritius woman and her
grandchild had been accommodated in a sleeping carriage with two berths.
Not being used to such luxuries and not knowing what to do in such
surroundings, they had deposited their garments on the bunks and slept
on the floor, which doubtless came more natural to them!

The same evening we arrived at Christiania; unfortunately we saw nothing
of this capital, as we arrived late at night, crossed to a hotel near
the railway station, and returned to the station to resume our journey
on the next morning before it was fully light. The whole of the next day
we were travelling through Norway in brilliant dazzling sunshine, over
snowclad mountains--some so high that vegetation was absent--finally
leaving Bergen in the late afternoon of March 7th on the S.S. _Vulture_.
From the _Wolf_ to the _Vulture_ did not look very promising!

Before leaving Norway every article of our baggage was carefully
searched before being put on the boat. I asked the Customs officer what
he was particularly looking for. "Bombs," he replied. But there were no
German diplomats or members of German Legation staffs amongst us!

The ship was very full, so much so that many first-class passengers were
compelled to travel third class, and among us were many people and
officials of Allied nationality escaping from the disorders in Russia.
We travelled full speed all night, and the passage was far from
comfortable. Daybreak showed us the coast of the Shetlands--our first
sight of the British Isles--and a few fussy armed trawlers shepherded us
into the harbour of Lerwick, where we remained at anchor till dusk. We
then set off again at full speed, and sighted the coast of Scotland in
the morning. But it was not till past 2 p.m. that we arrived at
Aberdeen. No sooner had the boat berthed in dock there than a
representative of the Admiralty told us that all the _Igotz Mendi_
prisoners were to proceed to London forthwith to be interrogated by the
Admiralty. We had intended to have a few days' rest at Aberdeen after
our strenuous travelling, but this was not allowed, so, much to our
disgust and very much under protest, we spent still one more night out
of bed, and so to London, where we arrived in a characteristic pea-soup
fog on the morning of March 10th, after incessant travelling by train
and sea for a week. We had not relished another sea voyage--and one
across the North Sea least of all--but there was no help for it. We
feared that as we had escaped the Germans once, they might make a
special effort to sink us crossing the North Sea. But fortunately the U
boats left us alone, though few, if any of us, turned in during those
last few nights, for we felt we must still hold ourselves ready for any
emergency. Arrived in London we were taken forthwith to the Admiralty,
and there interrogated by the authorities as to the _Wolf's_ exploits.
Our adventures were really at an end at last.


With what joyful and thankful hearts did we reach home, once more to
be united with our relatives and friends, who had long mourned us as
dead. The shipping company had long ago abandoned all hope, the
_Hitachi_ had been posted missing at Lloyd's, letters of condolence had
been received by our relatives, and we had the, even now in these
exciting times, still unusual experience of reading our own obituary
notices. We shall have to live up to them now! We heard from the Nippon
Yushen Kaisha in London that the Japanese authorities had sent an
expedition to look for the _Hitachi_. The expedition called at the
Maldives, and had there found, in the atoll where we had first anchored
in the _Wolf's_ company, a door from the _Hitachi_ splintered by
shell-fire and a case of cocoanut identified as having been put on board
the _Hitachi_ at Colombo. The natives on this atoll could have told the
expedition that at any rate the _Hitachi_ was not sunk there, as they
saw the _Wolf_ and her prize sail away at different times. The
_Hitachi's_ disappearance was attributed to a submarine, though it was
not explained how one managed to operate in the Indian Ocean!

We also heard in London that the Captain of the _Hitachi_ committed
suicide before the _Wolf_ arrived in Germany.

No comment need be made on the German procedure of dragging their
prisoners month after month over the oceans. Such a thing had never been
done before. The Germans had had opportunities to release us, but had
taken none to do so, as they had evidently determined not to allow any
account of the _Wolf's_ cruise to be made known. They might have put the
_Hitachi_ prisoners on the Maldives and left them there to get to
Colombo as best they could, the Germans taking the ship; they might have
sent the prisoners on the _Igotz Mendi_ to Colombo or Java after they
had taken what coal they wanted. As the Spanish Captain said, they had a
right to take his contraband, but not his ship. But a question of right
did not bother the Germans. Many times they promised him to release his
ship, never intending to do so. Whenever they were asked why they did
not release us when we thought it possible, they always advanced
"military reasons" as the excuse. "That," as I said to the Captain,
"covers a multitude of sins." The Commander of the _Wolf_ had personally
assured the married couples on the _Matunga_ that they would be kept no
longer than two months. But they were kept nearly seven. Some men had
been kept prisoners on the _Wolf_ for more than a year.

It was hard enough on the men, but infinitely worse for the women. One
had been eight months, one seven, and others five months in captivity on
the high seas, often under the worst possible conditions. But they all
played their part well, and kept cheerful throughout, even when it
appeared they were certain to be taken with their husbands into Germany.

Every man is liable to think, under such conditions, that he is in a
worse case than his fellow-captives, and there were certainly examples
of very hard luck amongst us. Mention of a few cases might be of
interest. The American Captain had abandoned his sea calling for six
years, and decided, at his wife's request, to make one more trip and
take her to see her relatives in Newcastle, N.S.W. They never got there,
but had eight months' captivity and landed in Denmark instead. Many
sailors had left the Atlantic trade after encounters with the U boats in
that ocean, only to be caught by the _Wolf_ in the Pacific. One of the
members of the Spanish crew had been a toreador, but his mother
considered that calling too dangerous and recommended the sea as safer.
Her son now thinks otherwise; perhaps she does too!

The Captain of a small sailing ship from Mauritius to West Australia,
in ballast to load timber, saw the _Wolf_ when a day off his
destination. Not knowing her, he unwisely ran up the Red Ensign--a red
rag to a bull, indeed--and asked the _Wolf_ to report him "all well" at
the next port. The _Wolf_ turned about and sunk his little ship.
Although the Captain was at one time on the _Wolf_ almost in sight of
his home in Mauritius, his next port was Kiel, where it is to be feared
that he, an old man of seventy, was the reverse of "all well."

One of our fellow-prisoners had been on the P. & O. _Mongolia_ when she
was sunk by one of the _Wolf's_ mines off Bombay. Later on, on the
_Hitachi_, he was caught by the mine-layer herself! But he defeated the
enemy after all, as he escaped on the _Igotz Mendi_! One of the
seafaring men with us had already been torpedoed by the Huns in the
Channel. Within a fortnight he was at sea again. The next time he was
caught and his ship sunk by the _Wolf_ off New Zealand. He also escaped
on the _Igotz Mendi_, and when last seen ashore was dying to get to sea
again, in a warm corner, so he said, so that he could "strafe the Huns"
once more. They had held him prisoner for eight months, and he had some
leeway to make up.

There was, too, the case of the Australians taken prisoner on the S.S.
_Matunga_. The women and military doctors had certainly escaped on the
_Igotz Mendi_, but there were taken into Germany from the _Matunga_
three military officers and three elderly married civilians over
military age. They were going but a week's voyage from their homes (July
1917); but, torn from their homes and families, they were to languish
for months in a German internment camp. Neither must be forgotten the
old captains and mates and young boys--some of the latter making their
first sea voyage--taken into captivity in Germany, where they have
probably been exhibited as illustrating the straits to which the war,
and especially the U boat part of it, has reduced the glorious British
mercantile marine. Our young men friends on the _Hitachi_, and the
hundreds of prisoners, some of them captured more than a year before
from British ships, were all taken into Germany, there to remain in
captivity till the war was over.

I thought, until our timely rescue came, that our own case was a fairly
hard one. I had retired from Government service in Siam, after spending
twenty years there, and we had decided to spend some months at least,
possibly "the duration," or even longer, in South Africa before
proceeding home. It seemed hard lines that after twenty years in the Far
East we were to come to Europe only to be imprisoned in Germany! We have
escaped that, but our plans have gone hopelessly astray, for which I
will _never_ forgive the Huns, and our health has not improved by the
treatment on our long voyage. But although we took six months to get
from Siam to London, the Germans have succeeded in getting us home much
earlier than we, or they, anticipated. I had been shipwrecked on my
first voyage out to Siam in 1897, and on my last voyage home, twenty
years after, had been taken prisoner and again shipwrecked! So my
account was nicely balanced! But the culminating touch of escaping
imprisonment in Germany by shipwreck was indeed wonderful!

Fortunately, one usually forgets the miseries of sea travel soon after
one gets ashore. But never, I think, will one of us forget our long
captivity at sea with our enemies; neither shall we forget the details
of our capture and imprisonment, the dreary days and still drearier
nights on the _Wolf_ and _Igotz Mendi_, especially those spent in the
icy north. Every detail of it all and of our wonderful escape at the
last moment stands out so vividly in our memories. And assuredly, not
one of us will ever forget the canned crab, the bully beef, the beans,
_and_ the roll of the _Igotz Mendi_.

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Transcriber's Notes:

   Chapter II, page 28: Original reads "she should nor present her

   Chapter III, page 37: Original reads "ss. Matunga".

   Chapter VIII, page 122: Original reads "approached her, spoke her,
   and released her." The word "to" was inserted.]

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