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Title: To Kiel in the 'Hercules'
Author: Freeman, Lewis R. (Lewis Ransome), 1878-1960
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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TO KIEL IN THE "HERCULES"

[Illustration: "THE THREE ADMIRALS:" REAR ADMIRAL ROBINSON, U. S. N.
(LEFT), VICE ADMIRAL BROWNING, R. N. (CENTER), REAR ADMIRAL GROSSET
(FRENCH) (RIGHT)]



    TO KIEL IN THE
    "HERCULES"

    BY
    LIEUT. LEWIS R. FREEMAN, R. N. V. R.

    Official Correspondent with the Grand Fleet, and Member
    of Staff of Allied Naval Armistice Commission

    _WITH ILLUSTRATIONS FROM
    PHOTOGRAPHS BY THE AUTHOR_

    [Illustration]

    NEW YORK
    DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY
    1919



    COPYRIGHT, 1919
    BY DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY, INC.


    VAIL-BALLOU COMPANY

    BINGHAMTON AND NEW YORK



CONTENTS


    CHAPTER                                                     PAGE

       I  INTO GERMAN WATERS                                       1

      II  GETTING DOWN TO WORK                                    31

     III  FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF "STARVING GERMANY"                 61

      IV  ACROSS THE SANDS TO NORDERNEY                           92

       V  NORDHOLZ, THE DEN OF THE ZEPPELINS                     122

      VI  MERCHANT SHIPPING                                      154

     VII  THE BOMBING OF TONDERN                                 179

    VIII  THROUGH THE CANAL TO THE BALTIC                        198

      IX  TO WARNEMÜNDE AND RÜGEN                                224

       X  JUTLAND AS A GERMAN SAW IT                             255

      XI  BACK TO BASE                                           283



ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                                PAGE

    "The Three Admirals." Rear Admiral Robinson, U. S. N.
    (left), Vice Admiral Browning, R. N. (center), Rear
    Admiral Grosset, (French) (right)                 _Frontispiece_

    Heligoland in sight!                                          18

    Members of the Allied Naval Commission, Admiral Browning
    in center                                                     34

    The Allied Naval Commission and Staff, taken on board
    _Hercules_                                                    34

    The Padre of the _Hercules_ talking with newly arrived
    British prisoners                                             40

    In the Elbe, Hamburg                                         166

    Railroad station at Hamburg                                  166

    Floating dock for lifting submarines in Kiel Harbour         182

    Birdseye view of Kiel                                        192

    In Kiel dockyard                                             192

    H. M. S. _Viceroy_ entering Kiel Canal lock at Brunsbüttel   200

    Semaphore station on Kiel Canal, from _Hercules_             206

    Kiel dockyard from the Harbour                               214

    Foreshore of Kiel Harbour with the Kaiserlich Yacht
    Club at left of grove of trees                               220

    _Hindy_ (left) and German pilot who claimed to have
    launched the torpedo which damaged the _Sussex_              228

    British prisoners and German sailors at Warnemünde           240

    View of Kiel Canal from nearmost turret of the _Hercules_    258

    _Hercules_, with three V class destroyers in Kiel Harbour    266

    H. M. S. _Hercules_ and H. M. S. _Constance_ in Kiel locks   286



TO KIEL IN THE "HERCULES"



TO KIEL IN THE "HERCULES"



I

INTO GERMAN WATERS


"The _Regensburg_ has been calling us for some time," said the chief
signal officer as he came down for his belated "watch" luncheon in the
ward-room, "and it looks as though we might expect to see her come
nosing up out of the mist any time after two o'clock. She excuses
herself for being late at the rendezvous by saying that the fog has been
so thick in the Bight that she had to anchor during the night. It's not
any too good a prospect for a look-see at Heligoland, for our course
hardly takes us within three miles of it at the nearest."

It was in a fog that the _Hercules_ had dropped down through the moored
lines of the Grand Fleet the previous morning, it was in a fog that she
had felt her way out of the Firth of Forth and by devious mine-swept
channels to the North Sea, and it was still in a fog that she--the
first surface warship of the Allies to penetrate deeply into them since
the Battle of the Bight, not long after the outbreak of the war--was
approaching German waters. Indeed, the whole last act of the great
naval drama--from the coming of the _Königsberg_ to the Forth, with
a delegation to receive the terms of surrender, to the incomparable
pageant of the surrender itself--had been played out behind the fitful
and uncertain raisings and lowerings of a fog-curtain; and now the
epilogue--wherein there was promise that much, if not all, that had
remained a mystery throughout the unfolding of the war drama itself
should be finally revealed--was being held up through the wilfulness
of this same perverse scene-shifter. The light cruiser, _Regensburg_,
which, "according to plan," was to have met us at nine that morning at a
rendezvous suggested by the German Naval Staff, and pilot the _Hercules_
through the mine-fields, had not been sighted by early afternoon.
Numerous floating mines, rolling lazily in the bow-wave spreading to
port and starboard and ogling us with leering, moon-faced impudence
in the fog, had been sighted since daybreak, auguring darkly of the
explosive barrier through which we were passing by the "safe course" the
Germans (in lieu of the promised charts which had failed to arrive) had
advised us by wireless to follow.

Now mines, floating or submerged, are not pleasant things to navigate
among. Although, theoretically, it is impossible for any ship to run
into a floating mine even if she tries (the bow-wave tending to throw
it off, as many experiments have proved); and although, theoretically,
a ship fitted with paravanes cannot bring her hull into contact with
a moored mine; yet the fact remained that ships were being lost right
along from both kinds. It seemed high time, then, in the case of the
_Hercules_ and her escorting destroyers, that the German Navy, which
had undertaken to see them safely through the mine barrier, and which
knew more about the pattern of its death-traps than any one else, should
begin to shoulder some of its responsibilities. It was good news that
the _Regensburg_ was about to make a tardy appearance and hand over a
hostage in the form of a German pilot.

       *       *       *       *       *

The blank grey fog-curtain which trailed its misty folds across the
ward-room scuttles discouraged all of the grate-side loungers whom I
tried to bestir to go up at two o'clock to watch for the appearance of
the _Regensburg_, and, meeting, with no better success in the snugly
comfortable "commission-room" into which the former gun-room had been
converted for the voyage, I mounted alone the iron ladders which led to
the lofty vantage of the signal bridge. There was only a few hundred
yards of visibility, but the even throb of the engines, the swift run
of the foam along the sides, and the sharp sting of the air on my cheek
told that there had been little if any abatement of the steady speed of
seventeen knots at which _Hercules_ had been steaming since she passed
May Island the previous day at noon. The _Regensburg_, the chief yeoman
of signals told me, had made a W.T. to say that she had been compelled
by the fog to slow down again, and this, he figured, might make it
between three and four o'clock before we picked her up. "There's no use
waiting for the Huns, sir," he said, with a tired smile. "The hanging
back habit, which they were four years in cultivating, seems to have
grown on them so that they're hanging back even yet. Best go down and
wait where it's warm, and I'll send a boy to call you when we know for
certain when she'll turn up."

My foot was on the ladder, when the sight of a seagull dancing a giddy
_pas seul_ on the titillating horn of a mine bobbing off astern recalled
a story an Italian destroyer skipper had once told me, of how he had
seen an Albanian sea eagle blow itself up as a consequence of executing
a precisely similar manoeuvre. I lingered to get the chief yeoman's
opinion of what I had hitherto considered a highly apocryphal yarn,
and when he was called away to take down a signal to pass back to the
destroyers, the loom of what looked to me like a ship taking shape in
the fog drew me over to the starboard rail. It dissolved and disappeared
as my glass focussed on it, only to raise its amorphous blur again a
point or so further abeam. Then I recognized it, and smiled indulgent
welcome to an old friend of many watches--the first cousin to the
mirage, the looming shape which a man peering hard into thick fog keeps
_thinking_ he sees at one end or the other of the arc of his angle of
vision.

Any man actually on watch knows better than to let his mind take
liberties with "fog pictures," and not a few of those who have done so
have had the last picture of the series merge into a reality of wind and
water and a good ship banging itself to pieces on a line of submerged
rocks. But I--as so often in voyages of late--was on the bridge without
duties or responsibilities. I was free to let the pictures take what
form they would; and it must have been what the chief yeoman had just
said about the weariness of waiting for the Huns that turned my mind to
what I had heard and seen of the four-year vigil of the Grand Fleet.

There was a picture of Scapa as I had seen it on my earliest visit from
the basket of a kite balloon towed from the old _Campania_, the same
_Campania_ which now rested on the bottom of the Firth of Forth, and
the top-masts of which we had passed a half cable's length to port as
the _Hercules_ steamed out the day before. There were golden sun-notes
weaving in a Maypole dance with rollicking slate-black cloud shadows in
that picture; but in the next--where the surface of the Flow was beaten
to the whiteness of the snow-clad hills hemming it in--the brooding
light was darkly sinister and ominous of import, for that was the winter
day when we had word that two destroyers, which the might of the Grand
Fleet was powerless to save, were being banged to bits against a cliff
a few miles outside the gates. Then there was a picture of an Orkney
midsummer midnight--just such a night, the officer of the watch told me,
as the one on which he had seen the _Hampshire_, with Kitchener pacing
the quarter-deck alone, pass out to her doom two years previously--with
a fitful green light flooding the Flow, reflected from the sun circling
just below the northern horizon, and every kite balloon in the air at
the time being torn from its cable and sent flying towards Scandinavia
before the ninety-mile gale which had sprung up from nowhere without
warning.

Visions of golf on Flotta, picnics under the cliffs of Hoy, and climbs
up the peat-boggy sides of the Ward Hill of the "Mainland," gave place
to those of squadron boxing competitions--savage but cleanly fought
bouts in a squared circle under the elevated guns of "Q" turret, with
the funnels, superstructures, and improvised grandstands alive with
bluejackets--and regattas, pulled off in various and sundry craft
between the long lines of anchored battleships. A long series (these
more like panoramas) of hurried unmoorings and departures--by division,
by squadron, and with all the Grand Fleet, through every square mile of
the North Sea from the Bight to far up the coast of Norway--finished up
at Rosyth, in that strange fortnight just before the end, when all but
those on the "inside" thought the persistent "short notice" was due to
a desire to keep the men aboard on account of the 'flu, and not to the
fact of which the Admiralty appear to have been so well advised, that
the German naval authorities--for the first and last time--were making
desperate efforts to get their ships out for the long-deferred _Tag_.

Then the fog-bank ahead--or so it seemed--was splashed with the gay
colour of "Armistice Night," when all the spare signal lights (to say
nothing of a lot that couldn't be spared) of the Grand Fleet streaked
the sky with joyous spurts and fountains of fire, when stealthy pirate
bands from the K-boats dropped through the ward-room skylights of the
light cruisers and carried off prisoners who had to be ransomed with
champagne, when Admirals danced with matelots on the forecastles of the
battle-cruisers, and all the pent-up feelings of four years ascended
in one great expansive "whouf" of gladness. I recalled with a chuckle
how the "General" signal which the Commander-in-Chief had made ordering
the historic occasion to be celebrated by "splicing the main brace"
according to immemorial custom in the Navy, was preceded by "Negative
6th B.S.," in consideration of the sad fact that the Yankee ships had
nothing aboard to "splice" with. That didn't prevent them, though, from
bending a white ensign on their flag halliards, hoisting it to the main
topmast of the _New York_, and illuminating it with all the searchlights
of the squadron. That happy tribute, I recalled, to the flag of the Navy
with which the Americans had served with such distinction for a year,
had started the sacking of the signal light lockers, and that picture
ended as it began, with the dour Scotch heavens lanced with coloured
flame spurts which the dark tide of the Firth gave back in crinkly
reflections.

The next picture to sharpen into focus on the fog-curtain was that of a
long, trim three-funnelled cruiser, with a white flag at her fore and
the German naval ensign at her main, heading in toward the mouth of the
Firth of Forth under the escort of a squadron of British light cruisers
and destroyers. I had witnessed the meeting of the _Königsberg_, which
was bringing over Admiral Meurer and other German naval officers to
arrange the details of the surrender of the High Sea Fleet, from the
foretop of the _Cassandra_. The rendezvous, at which the _Königsberg_
had been directed by wireless to meet the Sixth Light Cruiser Squadron
ordered to escort her in, chanced to fall in an area under which a
German submarine, a fortnight previously, had planted its full load
of mines. These, in the regular course of patrol, had been discovered
and swept up within a day or two, but since that fact had not been
communicated to the Germans, the _Königsberg_, doubtless thinking the
English sense of humour had prompted them to prepare for her a bit of
a surprise in the way of a lift by a German petard, skulked off to the
southward, where she was only rounded up after two hours of rending the
ether with wireless calls. There were two things I remembered especially
in connection with that historic meeting--one was the mob of civilians
(probably would-be delegates from the Workmen's and Soldiers' Council)
jostling the officers on the roomy bridge of the _Königsberg_, and
the other was the fluent cursing of the gunnery lieutenant of the
_Cassandra_, who was with me in the foretop, over the unkind fate which
had robbed him of the chance of opening up with his six-inch guns on the
first Hun warship he had set eyes on since the war began. I thought I
had heard in the course of the past year all that the British sailor had
to say of the German as a naval foe; but L---- said several new things
that afternoon, and said them well.

Poor old _Cassandra_! Although we did not get word of it until a day
or two after our arrival in Wilhelmshaven, within a very few hours of
the time I was thinking of her there in the fog of the Bight, she had
collided with a mine in the Baltic and gone to the bottom.

There was another picture of the _Königsberg_ ready to follow on as the
first dissolved. This was the brilliantly lighted hull of her--the only
undarkened ship of the hundreds in the Firth of Forth that night--as I
saw it an hour before daybreak the following morning, when I set off
from the _Cassandra_ in a motor launch to be present in the _Queen
Elizabeth_ during the historic conference which was to take place there
that day. Admiral Beatty had refused to receive the revolutionary
delegates at the preliminary conference which had been held in the
British flagship the previous night, and as a consequence it appears
that Admiral Meurer and his staff were summoned to make a report
to their "superiors" on their return. This strange meeting had been
convened shortly after midnight (so the captain of the M.L., which had
been patrolling round the _Königsberg_ all night, told me), but still,
five hours later, as "M.L. 262" slid quietly by at quarter speed, the
rumble of guttural Teutonic voices raised in heated argument welled
out of the open scuttles of what had probably been the ward-room. It
occurred to me even then that this rumble of angry dispute was prophetic
of what Germany had ahead in the long night that was closing upon her.

Although "M.L. 262" ended up an hour later with her propellers tangled
in the cable of Ox-Guard boom, I managed to get on the flagship in time
to see Admiral Meurer and his party come climbing up out of the fog to
her quarter-deck. The conference lasted, with short intervals, until
long after dark, and the next picture I saw was that of five German
naval officers, chagrined and crestfallen, being piped over the side to
the barge which was to take them to the destroyer standing by in the fog
to return with them to the _Königsberg_ at her anchorage, Inchkeith.
It was "Officers' Night" for the kinema in the "Q.E.," and they were
showing a "made-in-California" film called the "Rise and Fall of Julius
Cæsar." I remember distinctly that Casca had just driven the first
thrust, and the mob of conspirators were thronging upon Cæsar round the
"base of Pompey's statue," when the commander sent me word that the
guests were about to depart.

The captain of the fleet, the captain, the commander, the officer of
the watch and the boatswain were waiting at the head of the starboard
gangway as I stepped on deck, and out of the fog, which had thickened
till I could not see the muzzles of the guns of "Y" turret, the Germans
were advancing from aft. The frown on Admiral Meurer's heavy brows was
magnified by the cross light of the "yard-arm group" at the gangway, and
his mouth, with its thin hard lips, showed as a straight black line.
With a click of the heels and the characteristic automaton bow of the
German, he saluted the British officers in turn, beginning with the
captain of the fleet, stepped down the short gangway and disappeared
into the waiting barge to the shrilling of the pipes. Bowing and
clicking, the others followed suit, a weedy "sub," with an enormous roll
of papers under his arm, going over last.

The _Oak_, herself invisible in the fog, groped blindly with her
searchlight to pick up the barge. "We must hold the light steady,"
facetiously quoted the Press correspondent at my elbow from a speech of
President Wilson's which had appeared in the morning papers, and then
added thoughtfully, "It may be a _light_ that kind need for guidance,
but if I had the leading of them for the next generation it would be by
a ring in the nose."

Now, panorama resumed. It was the day of the surrender, and the
_Cardiff_, with her high-flown kite balloon in tow, was leading the
line of German battle-cruisers out of the eastern mist. I was watching
from the bridge of the _Erin_, and an officer beside me, recognizing
the _Seydlitz_, flying the rear-admiral's flag, in the lead, with the
_Moltke_ and _Derfflinger_ next in line, told how, from the light
cruiser in which he had chased them at Dogger Bank, he had seen at
least two of the three, leaving the _Blücher_ to her fate, dashing
for the shelter of their minefields with flames swirling about their
mastheads. Another spoke casually of how, in the _Tiger_ at Jutland, he
had been for a wild minute or two, while his ship was rounding a "windy
corner" as Beatty turned north to meet the British Battle Fleet, under
the concentrated fire of all the battle-cruisers--with the exception
of the _Hindenburg_, but with the _Lützow_ added--now steaming past
us. We remarked the "flattery of imitation" in the resemblance of the
_Hindenburg_ with her long run of forecastle and "flare" bows, to the
_Repulse_ and _Renown_, and of the symmetrical, two-funnelled _Bayern_
as she appeared between the _Kaisers_ and the _Königs_ in the German
battleship line to the British _Queen Elizabeth_ class laid down before
the war. The _Queen Elizabeth_ herself, falling out of line to take the
salute of the ships of the fleet she had led to victory as they passed,
brought that reel of panorama to an end.

The next was of five ships of the _Kaiser_ class, as they had appeared
from the _Emperor of India_, which, with the rest of the Second
Division, was escorting a squadron of the enemy to Scapa for internment.
We saw the German ships at closer range now, and the better we saw them
the worse they looked. Their fine solidity was less impressive than from
a distance, for now our glasses revealed the filth of the decks, the
lack of paint, and the slovenly, sullen attitude of the motley garbed
figures lounging along the rails. We passed within a biscuit toss of
the _Kaiserin_ when their leading ship, the _Friedrich der Grosse_,
lost her bearings in some way and failed to follow the _Canada_ through
the anti-submarine boom off the end of Flotta, an action which only the
smartest kind of seamanship on the part of the division of _Iron Dukes_
prevented from developing into a serious disaster. Most of the Huns--to
judge by the expression on the faces leering across at us--would have
welcomed a smash; but it was avoided by a hair, and they ultimately
straightened themselves out, straggled through into the Flow, and on to
their more or less final resting-place, off the inner entrance to Gutter
Sound.

The final picture, as it chanced, which my fancy projected on the
curtain of the fog was one that embraced what I saw from the steam
pinnace which was taking me to the _Impérieuse_, on my way back to
Rosyth. An angry Orkney sunset was flaring over the hills of Hoy--a
sullenly red glow, gridironed by thin strata of black cloud like
the bars of a grate--and a sinister squall was advancing from the
direction of Stromness to the northward. For a few moments the hot
light of the sunset had silhouetted the confused hulls of battleships
and battle-cruisers against the silvered seas beyond, and revealed the
disordered phalanx of the moored destroyers blocking the mouth of Gutter
Sound; then it was quenched by the onrush of the storm clouds, and all
that was left of the High Seas Fleet disappeared into shadow and driving
rain.

It was a far cry, I reflected, from the Kaiser's "Our future lies upon
the seas!" and Admiral Rodman's "The German ships are of no use to
anybody; the simplest solution of the problem of their disposition is
to take the whole lot to sea and sink them." And yet--

Suddenly, stereoscopically clear, on the blank sheet of the fog left
as the High Sea Fleet faded from sight, the head-on silhouette of an
unmistakably German light cruiser appeared. For an instant the soaring
mast and the broad bridge suggested that my fancy had materialized the
_Königsberg_ again. Then the rat-a-tat of a signal searchlight recalled
me to my senses, and it did not need the chief yeoman of signals' "There
she is, sir; sending away a boat to bring us a pilot," to tell me we
had finally rendezvoused with the _Regensburg_. I descended to the
quarter-deck to see the pilot come over the side.

Very smartly handled was that cutter from the _Regensburg_. I remember
that especially because it was almost the only German boat that came
alongside during all the visit which did not either ram the gangway, or
else miss it more than the length of a boat-hook. They explained this by
saying that most of the skilled men had left the navy, and that their
boats, as a consequence, were in the hands of comparative novices. At
any rate, at least one first-class crew of boat-pullers had remained in
the _Regensburg_, and they brought their cutter alongside the gangway as
neatly as though the _Hercules_ were lying in harbour.

Three men, each carrying a small suit-case, came over the side and
saluted the officer of the day and the intelligence officer of
the admiral's staff, who awaited them at the head of the gangway.
The first was a three-stripe officer of the rank the Germans call
Korvettenkapitän, the second a warrant officer, and the third
(as we presently were informed) a qualified merchant pilot. The
Korvettenkapitän was slender of figure, and had a well-bred, gentlemanly
appearance not in the least suggestive of the "Hunnishness" one
associated--and with good reason, too, as subsequent experience
proved--with the German naval officer. His flushed expression showed
plainly that he felt deeply the humiliation of the task assigned him of
taking the first enemy warships into a German harbour. His head remained
bowed a moment after his final salute; then he took a deep breath,
squared his shoulders, and asked to be conducted to the bridge at once
in order to take advantage of the improved visibility in pushing on in
through the minefields.

If one felt a touch of involuntary sympathy for the senior naval
officer, a glance at the sinister figure of the merchant pilot was
an efficacious antidote. Thick-set and muscular of build, with
slack-hanging ape-like arms and bandy legs, his corded bull neck
was crowned with the prognathous-jawed head of a gorilla, and a
countenance that might well have been a composite of the saturnine
phizzes of Trotsky and Liebknecht. One knew in an instant that here was
the super-Bolshevik, and looked for the red band on his sleeve, which
could only have been temporarily removed while he appeared among the
Engländers to spy upon the naval officer whom the revolutionists would
not permit to act alone. The way things stood between the two became
evident almost at once, for the officer informed the British interpreter
at the first opportunity that he could not be responsible for the pilot,
while the latter, when some query from the Korvettenkapitän respecting
the position of a certain buoy was repeated to him, contented himself
with drawing his fingers significantly across his throat, clucking in
apparent imitation of a severed wind-pipe, and continuing the guzzling
of the plate of "kedgeree" which had been engaging his undivided
attention at the moment of interruption.

[Illustration: HELIGOLAND IN SIGHT!]

After putting a German pilot aboard each of the four destroyers, the
_Regensburg's_ cutter was hoisted in, and we got under weigh again. The
visibility had improved considerably, and presently a darker blur on the
misty skyline resolved itself into the familiar profile of Heligoland.
At first only the loom of the great cliff was discernible, but by the
time this had been brought abeam a slender strip of low-lying ground
with warehouses, cranes, and the masts of ships, was distinctly visible.
All hands crowded to the starboard side to have a glimpse of Germany's
famous island outpost, but the nearest thing to a demonstration I saw
was by two marines, who were doing a bit of a shuffle on the precarious
footing of a turret top and singing lustily:

    "Oh, won't it be grand out in Hel-i-go-land,
    When we've wound up the Watch on the Rhine!"

Whatever illusions they had formed of the "grandness" of Heligoland they
were allowed to keep, for the only ones who were given to see at close
range the dismal greyness of the island fortress were the members of
one of the "air" parties, who made a hurried visit in a destroyer to
see that the provisions of the Armistice had been carried out at the
seaplane station.

The thickening fog-banks which shut off our view of Heligoland were not
long in thinning the guiding _Regensburg_ to a dusky phantom nosing
uncertainly into the misty smother in the direction of where our charts
indicated the Bight should be narrowing to the shallow waters of Jade
Bay, in an inner corner of which lay Wilhelmshaven. We had counted on
getting there that evening, and a wireless had already been received
saying that a German Naval Commission was standing by to come off for a
preliminary conference. After heading in for a couple of hours through
seas which I heard an officer coming off watch describe as "composed
of about equal parts of water, misplaced buoys and floating mines,"
all hopes of arriving that night were dashed by a signal from the
_Regensburg_, saying that she had been compelled to anchor on account
of the fog. Calling her destroyer "chicks" about her to mother them for
the night, the _Hercules_ let go what was probably the first anchor a
British surface ship had dropped into German mud since the outbreak of
the war.

The unexpected delay made it necessary for both the _Hercules_ and the
destroyer to put up their pilots for the night. This was managed in the
former by giving the officer the flag captain's sea-cabin, and slinging
hammocks for his two assistants outside. Doubtless the opportunity to
enjoy a change of food was not unwelcome to any of them. They were
served with the regular ward-room dinner. The officer declined the
offer of drinks, and said he had his own cigarettes. The other two made
a clean sweep of anything that they could get hold of. Even these had
cigarettes, but the young signalman who had the temerity to smoke one
which was proffered him in exchange for one of his own, advanced that as
an excuse for a mess he made of taking down a searchlight signal from a
destroyer two hours later.

"That ---- Bolshevik," said the lad the next day, in telling me about
the tragedy, "declared the fag he giv' me was made of baccy smuggled
into Germany by a friend of his. I tells him that was no kind of reason
for him using me to smuggle the smoke out of Germany. And I tells him it
tastes to me like rope end, that baccy, and, what's more, that I'd be
very happy to return it to him with a rope end. I can't say for certain
whether he twigged that little joke or not."

From one of the destroyers, too, there came the next day a story of
similar friction in the matter of dispensing hospitality to the guest of
the night. The latter, unlike the one who was sent to the _Hercules_,
appears to have been a typical Hun. Beginning by introducing himself
as a relative of the ex-Kaiser, he ended up by all but going on
strike because no sheets could be provided for the bunk in the cabin
which--through turning out its owner to "sling" in the ward-room--had
been given him for the night. That alone had been a considerable
concession under the circumstances, for, through the presence of two
extra flying officers, two "subs" had given up their cabins, and were
sleeping in the ward-room already. It must have been a really amusing
show that young sprig of Junkerism put up. He mentioned the matter of
linen several times, finally rising to the crescendo of "I must have the
sheets by nine o'clock, and it now lacks but five minutes of that time."
I was never able to verify the story that the steward really gave him
the sheets of notepaper that one of the Yankee officers volunteered to
contribute. How mad the young exquisite was about the whole affair may
be judged from the fact that he left behind him in the morning his own
personal and private cake--only slightly used--of toilet soap. Whether
this was pure swank--high princely disdain of an object of value--or
whether he was blind with passion and overlooked it, they could never
quite make up their minds in the _V----_.

The fog lapped and curled dankly round the _Hercules_ that night,
wrapping the ship in a clammy shroud of cold moisture that dripped
eerily from the rigging and sent a chill to the marrow of the bones of
the men and officers on watch. But below there was warmth and comfort.
The ward-room celebrated the occasion with a "rag" to the music of its
own Jazz band, while in the admiral's cabin the kinema man, who had been
brought along to film the historic features of the voyage, entertained
with a movie of a South American revolution, a picture full of the play
of hot passion and fierce jealousy, enacted in and around an ancient
castle which none but a Californian could have recognized as a building
of the recent San Diego Exposition. "The Admiral's Movies," "With a
Complete Change of Program Nightly," became one of the star turns of the
voyage from that time on.

Cut off though we were by the fog from sighting anything farther away
than the riding lights of the nearest destroyer, strange voices of the
new world we had moved into since morning kept reaching the _Hercules_
on the wings of the wireless. Now it was the _Regensburg_ calling to
say, "I am lying off Outer Jade Lightship and illuminating it with my
searchlight." Not much help, that, on a night when a searchlight itself
was quenched to a will-o'-the-wisp at a cable's length. Then there was
a message from the main fount of some "Workmen's and Soldiers' Council"
requesting that the Allied Naval Commission should receive a delegation
of its members at Wilhelmshaven. It was not a long message, but the
reply flashed back to it was, I understand, a good deal shorter. There
was chatter between ship and ship, and even the call--from somewhere
in the Baltic, I believe--of a steamer in distress. The name of the
_Moewe_, in an otherwise unintelligible message, caused hardly the
flutter it would have had we picked it up in the same waters a month
earlier.

There was little news to us in a message from some land station telling
all and sundry that the "high-sea-ship" _Regensburg_ was "_zu Anker bei
aussen Jade Feuerschiff_," that the _Hercules_ and destroyers were "_zu
Anker bei Weser Feuerschiff_," and that there was "_noch Nebel_." The
_Regensburg_ had already told us where she was and our own position we
knew: also the fact that "fog continues."

A groan from Germany in travail reached us in a message from the
"Soldatenrat" of the "Fortress of Borkum" to the Council in Berlin.
They disapproved most heartily of the attitude of the meeting of the
"_Gross Berliner_" councils for Greater Germany. They greatly regretted
the attempt of one part of the people to establish a dictatorship over
another, and considered that this showed a lamentable lack of confidence
in "_unserem Volke_"--"our people." "_Wir wollen Demokratie und keine
Diktatur_," they concluded; "we want a democracy and no dictator."

Then we heard the German battleship _König_ (which, in company with the
_Dresden_, a destroyer and two transports, we had sighted that morning
tardily _en voyage_ to make up the promised quota at Scapa) calling to
the _Revenge_--at that time the flagship of the squadron watching the
interned ships--for guidance. "Am near to the point of assembly with
the other ships," she said in German, "and bad weather is coming on.
Cannot stop with _Dresden_ in tow. What course can I take from point of
assembly?"

Deep called to deep when the C.-in-C. of the Grand Fleet at Rosyth told
the C.-in-C. of the High Sea Fleet what arrangements were being made
to send back the surplus crews of the interned ships, and for a while
the vibrant ether let fall such familiar names as _Karlsruhe_, _Emden_,
_Nürnberg_, _Hindenburg_, _Kaiser_, _Von der Tann_ and _Friedrich der
Grosse_, men from all of which, we learned, were to be started homeward
in a transport called the _Pretoria_.

There was hint of "family trouble" in the German Navy in a signal from
Admiral Von Reuter at Scapa to the Commander-in-Chief of the High Sea
Fleet at Wilhelmshaven. "Request that third group (of transports) may
include a flag officer to relieve me," it ran in translation, "as I am
returning home with it on account of sickness."

That signal, I think, gave the ward-room more quiet enjoyment than any
of the others, for it was the first forerunning flutter of the German
wings beginning to beat against the bars of Scapa. "I've often been a
prey to that same complaint during our four years at Scapa," said the
commander musingly, in the interval following the passing round of the
wireless wail. "Of course Admiral Von Reuter is sick--homesick. Who
wasn't? _Who isn't?_ But there was no use in sending a signal to any one
complaining about it. But isn't it worth just about all we went through
in sticking it there for four years to be able to think of the Huns
being interned there, and in their own ships? They're not quite so comfy
as ours to live in, you know. I wonder what Herr C.-in-C.'s answer will
be."

That answer was picked up in good time. "First group of transports have
arrived back safely," the Commander-in-Chief of the High Sea Fleet began
inconsequentially, adding abruptly, "Admiral Von Beuter is advised to
stay where he is, if at all possible." That pleased the ward-room so
much that the Junior Officers' Glee Club was sent to the piano to create
a "Scapa atmosphere" by singing songs of the strenuous early months of
the war. "Coaling, coaling, coaling, always jolly well coaling," to the
air of "Holy, Holy, Holy!" reached my ears even in the secluded retreat
of the "commission-room," to which I had retired to write up my diary.

But the most amusing message of all was one which the senior
interpreter--one time a distinguished Cambridge professor of modern
languages--was dragged out of his bunk at something like three o'clock
in the morning to translate. Everything sent out in German was being
meshed in our wireless net on the off-chance that information of
importance might be picked up, and, for some reason, the message in
question impressed the night operator--as it lay before him, fresh
caught, upon his pad, as being of especial significance. This was
what I deciphered on the sheet of naval signal paper which the senior
interpreter, returning all a-shiver to his bunk after making the desired
translation in the coding room, threw at my head when I awoke in the
next bunk and asked sleepily for the news.

    (?) to (?).

    "Good morning. Request the time according to you. My watch
    is fast, I think."

It was probably from the skipper of one trawler to his "opposite number"
in another. It was on my lips to ask Lieut. B---- if he expected to
be called when the reply was picked up, but the ominous glare in the
unpillowed eye he turned in my direction as I started to speak made me
change my mind.

The fog was still thick at daybreak of the following morning, but by
ten o'clock the visibility had improved sufficiently to appear to make
it worth while to get under weigh. Heading easterly at twelve knots,
we shortly came to a buoy-marked channel which, according to our
directions, promised to lead in to the anchorage off Wilhelmshaven we
desired to reach. The _Regensburg_, which had evidently gone in ahead,
was not sighted again, but two powerful armed patrol boats came out to
keep us company. It was soon possible to see for several miles, the low
line of the Frisian coast coming into sight to port and starboard.

Presently we passed, on opposite courses, a German merchant steamer.
Luckily, some one on the bridge observed in time that she had a man
standing by the flag halyards at her stern, and so we were prepared to
return with the white ensign what must have been the first dip a British
ship had had from a German since August, 1914. When the second and third
steamers encountered also dipped their red, white, and black bunting,
followed by similar action on the part of two tugs and a lighthouse
tender, it became evident that general orders in that connection had
been issued. That was our first hint of the "conciliatory" tactics which
it soon became apparent all of that part of Northern Germany with which
there was a chance of any of the Allied Naval Armistice Commission
coming in contact had been instructed to follow.

The steeples and factory chimneys of Wilhelmshaven began appearing over
the port bow at noon, and a half-hour later _Hercules_ had dropped
anchor about a mile off a long stone mole which curved out from the
dockyard. Almost immediately a launch was seen putting out of the
entrance, and presently it came bumping alongside the starboard gangway.
Rear-Admiral Goette, a smooth-shaven, heavy set man of about fifty, was
the first up to the quarter-deck, where his salute was returned by the
captain, commander, the officer of the day, and several officers of
Admiral Browning's staff. His puckered brow indicated something of the
mental strain he was under, a strain the effects of which became more
and more evident every time he came off for a conference.

The thirteen other members of the Commission under Admiral Goette's
presidency followed him up the gangway. The first of these, a tall blond
officer of fine bearing, was on the list as Kapitan z. S. von Müller,
but it was not until after the final conference, over a fortnight later,
that we learned for certain that he was the able and resolute commander
of the _Emden_, famous in the first year of the war for her destruction
of Allied commerce and the fine fight he had put up before being forced
to the beach of North Cocos Island by the faster and heavier armed
_Sydney_. If it was a fact, as has been suggested, that the Germans put
Von Müller on their Naval Armistice Commission because of the admiration
that had been expressed in the British papers of his brave and sporting
conduct on the latter occasion, the effect of this fine piece of
Teutonic subtlety was completely lost. As I have said, his real identity
was not discovered until the last of the conferences was over.

As soon as the last of the German officers had reached the quarter-deck
and completed his round of heel-clicking salutes, the party was
conducted directly to Admiral Browning's cabin, where the first of a
series of conferences calculated deeply to influence Germany's naval
future for many years to come was entered into without delay.



II

GETTING DOWN TO WORK


An unfailing test of the treatment the Germans would have meted out
to the Allies had their respective positions been reversed during the
armistice interval, was furnished by the attitude of all the enemy
people--from the highest official representatives to the crowds on the
streets--with whom Admiral Browning's Naval Commission was thrown in
contact. This was especially noticeable in the case of naval officers,
and with none of these more so than with the greater part of those
constituting the commission, presided over by Rear-Admiral Goette,
which met the Allied Commission to arrange the details of carrying out
the provisions of the armistice relating to maritime affairs. Fully
expecting from the representatives of the victorious Allies the same
treatment they had extended to the beaten Russians at Brest-Litovsk,
and the beaten Rumanians at Bucharest, they adopted from the outset an
attitude of sullen distrust, evidently with the idea that it was the one
best calculated to minimize the concessions they would be called upon to
make. When it transpired that the Allied commissioners appeared to have
no intention of exercising their victor's prerogative of humiliating the
emissaries of a beaten enemy--as no Prussian could ever have refrained
from doing in similar circumstances--but that, on the other hand, the
former were neither disposed to bargain, "negotiate," nor in any way
to abate one whit from their just demands, the attitude of the Germans
changed somewhat. They were more reasonable and easy to deal with; yet
to the last there was always discernible that feeling of thinly veiled
contempt which the beaten bully cannot conceal for a victor who fails to
treat him as he himself would have treated any adversary he had downed.

The opening conference between the Allied and German commissions was
held in Admiral Browning's dining cabin in the _Hercules_, as were all
of those which followed. The German officers, leaving their overcoats
and caps in a cabin set aside for them as an ante-room, were conducted
to the conference room, where the heads of the Allied Commission were
already assembled and in their places. Most of the Germans were in frock
coats (of fine material and extremely well cut), with small dirk-like
swords at hip, and much-bemedalled. There was none of them, so far as
one could see, without one grade or another of the Iron Cross, worn
low on the left breast (or just about over the liver, to locate it more
exactly), with its black-and-white ribbon rove through a lapel. Only
Captain Von Müller wore the coveted "Pour le Mérite," doubtless for his
commerce destruction with the _Emden_. Admiral Goette wore two rows of
ribbons, but none of the decorations themselves.

The Allied delegates rose as the Germans entered, remaining standing
until the latter had been shown to the places assigned them. At the
right of the main table, as seen from the door, was seated Admiral
Browning, with Rear-Admiral Grasset, of the French Navy, on his right,
and Rear-Admiral Robinson, of the American Navy, on his left. Captain
Lowndes, Admiral Browning's Chief of Staff, sat next to Admiral
Robinson, in the fourth chair on the Allied side of the table. The Flag
Lieutenants of the French and American Admirals, and the two officers
representing respectively Japan and Italy, occupied chairs immediately
beyond the senior officers of the Commission. At two smaller tables
in the rear were several British Flag officers, with secretaries and
stenographers. The official British interpreter, Lieut. Bullough,
R.N.V.R., sat at the head of the table. The heads of the Allied
sub-commissions representing the flying services and shipping did not
occupy seats during all of the conference, but were called in during the
discussion of matters in which they were interested.

Admiral Goette was seated directly opposite Admiral Browning at the
main table, with Commander (or Korvettenkapitän) Hinzman on his right,
and Commander Lohman on his left. The former--a shifty-eyed individual,
with a pasty complexion and a "mobile" mouth which, in its peculiar
expansions and contractions, furnished an accurate index of the state
of its owner's mind--was from the General Naval Staff in Berlin, which
accounted, doubtless, for the fact that Admiral Goette turned to him
for advice in connection with practically every question discussed.
Commander Lohman had charge of merchant shipping interests, which were
principally in connection with the return of British tonnage interned in
German harbours at the outbreak of the war. Captain Von Müller sat at
the left-hand corner of the table, and Captain Bauer, Chief of Staff, in
the corresponding place on the right. At a smaller table opposite the
door the eight remaining German officers were seated. These were mostly
engineers, or from the flying or submarine services, and were consulted
as questions in their respective lines arose from time to time.

[Illustration: MEMBERS OF THE ALLIED NAVAL COMMISSION, ADMIRAL BROWNING
IN CENTER]

[Illustration: THE ALLIED NAVAL COMMISSION AND STAFF, TAKEN ON BOARD
"HERCULES"]

Without wasting time in preliminaries, Admiral Browning got down
to business at once by intimating that, since the time which he could
remain in German waters was limited, it would be desirable that the
very considerable number of visits of inspection necessary to satisfy
the Commission that the terms of the armistice had been complied with
should begin without delay. The Germans had a formidable array of
reasons ready to show why all, or nearly all, of these visits would be
practically out of the question. The disturbed state of the country,
the uncertain situation in Berlin, the lack of discipline among the men
remaining in the ships and at the air stations, the shortage of petrol,
the possibility of the hostility of the people in some sections--such as
Hamburg and Bremen--to Allied visitors--these were a few of the reasons
advanced why it would be difficult or dangerous to go to this place or
that, and why the best and simplest way would be to be content with the
assurance of the German Commission that everything, everywhere, was just
as the armistice terms had stipulated. Of course, at Wilhelmshaven,
where things were quiet at the moment, and where they still had a
certain amount of authority, there should be no great difficulty in
going over the remaining warships and visiting the air-station; but as
for going to Hamburg, or Bremen, or visiting any of the more distant
naval air stations--that was impossible at the present.

Asked bluntly, if the search of the warships could begin that afternoon,
Admiral Goette replied that it was impossible, for the reason he was
not yet in a position to guarantee the personal safety of any parties
landing even at the dockyard. Moreover, he would not be in position
to give such a guarantee until the matter had been discussed with the
Workmen's and Soldiers' Council. Of course, if the party cared to take
the chance of landing without a guarantee of safety--

That was really just about as far as that first conference got in the
way of definite arrangements, or even assurances. Admiral Goette was
given very plainly to understand, however, that it was the intention
of the Allied Commission to visit and inspect, in accordance with the
terms laid down in the armistice, not only all of the remaining German
warships, but also all interned British merchantmen, irrespective of
where they were, and all naval airship and seaplane stations, on the
Baltic as well as the North Sea side. Also, that full and complete
guarantee of the safety of every party landed must be given before
the first visit was made. Failing this, it would be necessary for the
Commission to return to England and report that the assistance promised
by Germany in carrying out the armistice terms had not been given.

The deep corrugation in Admiral Goette's brow grew deeper still when he
heard this plain warning, and the corners of his hard cynical mouth drew
down at the corners as the thin lips were compressed in his effort at
self-control. Shuffling uneasily in his chair, he leaned over as though
to speak to the sardonic Hinzman on his right, but thought better of
it, and straightened up again. Then his deep-set eyes wandered to the
large-scale map of the Western Front which occupied most of the wall
of the cabin toward which he faced. The row of pins, which had marked
the line of the Front at the moment of the armistice, but had now been
moved up and over the Rhine in three protuberant bridgeheads, evidently
brought home to him the futility of any further circumlocutions for the
present. The muscles of the aggressively squared shoulders relaxed, the
combative lines of the face melted into furrows of deepest depression,
and the pugnacious jaw was drawn in as the iron-grey head was bowed in
submission. His throaty "It shall be done as you say, sir," told that
the first lesson had sunk home.

An undertaking on the part of the German Commission to secure, and to
send off at an as early hour as practicable the following morning, the
required "safe conduct," brought the first conference to a close. The
kinema man, who endeavoured to take a picture of the departure from
cover, in order not to offend the sensibilities of his distinguished
subjects, spoiled a film as a consequence of his consideration.
Observing that the galley scuttle opened out upon the quarter-deck, but
not (in his haste) that the pots of beans simmering on the range were
filling the air with clouds of steam as thick as fragrant, set up his
machine just inside. Engrossed in turning the crank as one Hun after
another went through his heel-clicking round of salutes, he failed to
notice the translucent mask of moisture condensing on his lens. The
natural result was that this particular reel of film, when it came to
be developed, had very little to differentiate it from another reel he
exposed the following morning on the men "doubling round," the latter
having been taken with the cap over the lens.

The situation as it presented itself that evening was far from
encouraging. Having no information whatever of our own as to conditions
ashore, we had, perforce, to take the word of the Germans that many of
the projected visits of inspection could only be undertaken subject
to much difficulty and delay, if at all. There was not even positive
assurance that a safe conduct would be forthcoming for the landing in
Wilhelmshaven, where the headquarters of the German Naval Command were
located at the moment, and where there had been a minimum of disorder.
The wireless caught ominous fragments pointing to an imminent _coup
d'état_ in Berlin, while rioting was already taking place in Hamburg
and Bremen, and Kiel was completely under the control of the workmen
and soldiers. It certainly looked as though, the armistice agreement
notwithstanding, we had struck Northern Germany in the closed season for
touring.

A ray of light in the gloom which hung over the ship that night came in
the form of two British prisoners of war who managed to induce a German
launch they had found at the quay to bring them off to the _Hercules_.
Cheery souls they were, after all their two years of starvation and
rough treatment in one of the worst prison camps in Germany. When the
armistice was signed, they said, they had been released, given a ticket
which was made out to carry them in the Fourth or "Military" class on
any German railway, and told they were free to go home. This appears to
have been done at a good many prison camps, and where these were within
a few days' march of the Western Front, or of Holland, it probably
saved a good deal of time over waiting for regular transport by the
demoralized and congested railway systems. The cruelty of this criminal
evasion of responsibility was most felt in the parts of the country
more remote from the Western Front, where many hundreds of miles had to
be covered before the prisoners had any chance of getting in touch with
friends. In the cases of most of these unfortunate derelicts long delays
were inevitable, and, not infrequently, much hardship. There was little
interference, apparently, with the exercise of the travel privilege, but
the almost total absence of authoritative information concerning the
departure of ships from Baltic ports, by which considerable numbers of
British were repatriated _viâ_ Denmark and Sweden, resulted in an almost
interminable series of wanderings.

[Illustration: THE PADRE OF THE "HERCULES" TALKING WITH NEWLY ARRIVED
BRITISH PRISONERS]

The case of the two men I have mentioned was typical of the experiences
undergone by prisoners from camps in northern or central Germany.
Released, as I have described, when the armistice was signed, they had
broken away from their fellows, the bulk of whom were starting to drift
toward the Western Front, and struck out for the North Sea coast, acting
on the theory that navigation would be opened up at once, and that this
route, therefore, would offer the easiest and quickest way of getting
home. Well off for money and fairly considerately treated on the food
score, they found travelling simple enough, but extremely tedious and
full of delays. Arriving at Emden, they learned that there had been
no provision whatever made for dispatching ships with prisoners from
there, and that--both on account of the lack of shipping and the danger
of navigating the still unswept minefields--there was no prospect of
anything of the kind in the near future. Instead of crossing over the
neighbouring frontier of Holland, as they might easily have done, they
pushed north to Bremen and Hamburg on the chance that there might be
ships from one of these formerly busy ports by which they could find
their way back to England. Disappointed again, they were about to go
on to Kiel, when they read in a newspaper of the arrival of a British
battleship at Wilhelmshaven. Rightly conjecturing that they were at
last on the "home trail," they effected the best series of connections
possible to the once great naval base, where no obstacles were placed in
the way of their getting put off to the _Hercules_ without delay.

As the Workmen's and Soldiers' Council had been endeavouring to
establish touch with the Commission ever since the arrival of the
_Hercules_ in German waters, and as the way the "authorities" had
co-operated in getting these men put off to the ship looked just a
bit suspicious, it was only natural that the latter should be put
through a very thorough examination calculated to establish their
identity as British prisoners beyond a doubt. This was being proceeded
with by the Commander and the Major of Marines in a room of the after
superstructure, when a steward came up from the galley to ask what the
new arrivals would like to have for supper. There was quite a list to
choose from, it appears. They could have roast beef, said the steward,
or sausage and "mashed," or steak and kidney pie, or--"Stop right there,
mytey," cut in one of the men, raising his hand with the gesture of a
crossings policeman halting the flow of the traffic. "No use goin' any
further. 'Styke an' kidney' fer mine." Then, turning to the Commander
apologetically, "Begging your pardon, sir, but wot was it you was askin'
'bout wot engagement we wus captured in?" "I don't think we need trouble
any further about that, my man," replied the Commander with a grin.
"That 'styke an' kidney' marks you for British all right, and if you'll
vouch for your mate here, we'll take your word that he's on the level
too. We'll send you home by the first mail destroyer, and be glad of the
chance to do it. That won't be for a couple of days yet, but I dare say
you'll be able to make yourself at home in the _Hercules_ until then."

As the first of the hundred or more prisoners for whom the _Hercules_
ultimately acted as a "clearing house" in passing home to England,
these two men were very welcome on their own account, but especially so
for the news they brought of conditions ashore. It was quiet everywhere
they had been in Northern Germany, they said. Nobody was starving, and
where the people took any notice of them at all, it was--since the
armistice--invariably of a friendly character. "W'y, 'pon my word, sir,"
said one of them, where I found him that night in a warm corner of one
of the mess decks, the centre of an admiring circle of matelots, who
were crowding in with offerings of everything from mugs of bitter beer
to cakes of chocolate; "'pon my word, all you 'ave to do is to tyke a
kyke o' perfumed soap to the beach when you land, an' they'll all come
an' eat right out o' yer 'and. W'y, the gurls--"

Although the Allied Naval Armistice Commission could hardly be expected
to smooth its way with "kykes o' perfumed soap," yet all these men had
to tell, in that it went to prove how greatly the officers of the German
Commission had (to use a charitable term) exaggerated the difficulties
to be encountered in getting about ashore, was distinctly encouraging.
Indeed, it left those of us who talked with them quite prepared to
expect the "guarantee of safety," which came off in the morning, with
word that arrangements had been made for parties to land at once for
the inspection of warships and the seaplane station. It even forecasted
the message received in the course of the afternoon, to the effect that
conditions now appeared to be favourable to the arranging of visits
to Norderney, Borkhum, Nordholz, and the other seaplane and Zeppelin
stations which the Allied Commission had expressed a desire to see. The
Hamburg visit was still in the air, pending the receipt of guarantees
of safety, but there was no longer any doubt that it would be arranged,
and, moreover, as promptly as the Commission saw fit to insist upon.

For the purpose of the search of warships, and the inspection of
merchant ships and air stations, the staff of the Allied Commission
had been divided into several parties. The senior party, which was to
confine its work entirely to warships and land fortifications, had at
least one member of each of the Allied nationalities represented in the
Commission. The head of it was the Flag Commander of the _Hercules_, and
the technical duties in connection with its work devolved principally
upon the British and American naval gunnery experts which it always
included, and at least one engineer officer.

There were two "air" parties, one for the inspection of seaplane
stations, and the other for that of airship stations. The senior
flying officer was Brigadier-General Masterman, R.A.F., who was one of
England's pioneers in the development of lighter-than-air machines, his
experience dating back to the experiments with the ill-fated _Mayfly_.
His interest was in Zeppelins, and he had the leadership of the party
formed for the inspection of airship stations. This party included one
other British officer and two Americans.

Colonel Clark-Hall was the head of the second "air" party, which had
charge of the inspection of seaplane stations. He had flown in a
seaplane in the first year of the war at Gallipoli, and more recently
had directed flying operations from the _Furious_, with the Grand Fleet.
Having sent off the aeroplanes whose bombs had practically wiped out
the Zeppelin station at Tondern, near the Danish border, the previous
summer, he had an especial interest in seeing at first hand the effects
of that raid, though otherwise his interest was centred in seaplane
stations. Two American flying officers, and one British, completed the
"seaplane station" party.

The Shipping Board, which had in hand the matter of the return to
England of the two score and more of British ships in German harbours,
was headed by Commodore George P. Bevan, R.N., the Naval Adviser of the
Minister of Shipping, who had distinguished himself earlier in the war
as commander of the British trawler patrol in the Mediterranean. With
him were associated Commander John Leighton, R.N.R., who had achieved
notable success in effecting the return to England of the numerous
British merchant ships in Baltic ports at the outbreak of the war, and
Mr. Percy Turner, a prominent shipbuilder and Secretary to the Minister
of Shipping. The actual inspection of the ships in German harbours was
to be done by Commander Leighton, with such assistance as was needed
from officers of the _Hercules_.

It fell to the lot of the senior of the warship-searching party to make
the first landing. As this party, with at least one member from each
nationality, was more or less a "microcosm" of the Commission itself, it
was decreed that it should make its visits in state, in the full pomp
and panoply of--peace. This meant, one supposed, frock coats, cocked
hats, and swords, but as all the former had been sent ashore, by order,
early in the war, and as none of the Americans had even the latter, it
was evident at once that there was no use competing in a dress parade
with the Germans, who were operating at their own base, so to speak. The
best that could be done was to borrow swords--from any of the ward-room
officers chancing to have theirs along--for the Americans, and let
it go at that. The "International" members, whose principal duty, in
connection with the searches, was to walk about the upper decks and
look dignified, managed to wear their swords from the time they left
the _Hercules_ to their return; the others, who had really to look for
things, and, therefore, to clamber up and down steel ladders of boiler
rooms and the "trunks" of turrets, after numerous annoying trippings up,
had finally to "stack arms" in order to get on with their search.

Although none of the officers of the Commission had taken part in the
search of the German ships interned at Scapa, they had heard enough of
their filthiness and lack of discipline to be prepared to encounter the
same things when the inspection of the ships still remaining in home
waters was undertaken. In spite of this, the conditions--the dirtiness,
the slothfulness, the apparent utter disregard of the men for such few
of their officers as still remained--were everywhere much worse than
had been anticipated. This may well be accounted for by the fact that
the surrendered ships were manned entirely by volunteers, and these,
naturally, being the men less revolutionary in spirit and more amenable
to discipline, had taken better care of themselves and their quarters
than those who remained behind. At any rate, every one of the ships
remaining to the German Navy was an offence to the eye, and most of them
to the nose as well. If it was true, as had been said, that sloth and
filth are the high hand-maidens of Bolshevism, there is little doubt
that these twin trollops were in a position to hand the dregs of the
ex-Kaiser's fleet over to their mistress any day she wanted it.

We had, as yet, no definite hint of what attitude the men of the
Workmen's and Soldiers' Council were going to take toward parties landed
to carry out the work of the Allied Commission, and that was one of the
things which it was expected this first search of the warships in the
Wilhelmshaven dockyard would reveal. The beginning was not auspicious,
for in the very first ship visited the whole of the remaining crew were
found loitering indolently about the decks, in direct contravention of
the clause in the armistice which provided that all men should be sent
ashore during the visits of Allied searching parties. The captain, on
being appealed to, shrugged his shoulders and said that he was quite
helpless. "I ordered them to leave half an hour ago," he explained to
the interpreter, "and here they are still. I have no authority over
them, as you see; so what is there to do? I am sorry, but you see the
position I am in. I trust you will understand how humiliating a one
it is for an officer of the Imperial"--he checked himself at the word
_Kaiserliche_, and added merely, "German Navy."

"And, believe me, it _was_ humiliating," said one of the American
officers in telling of the incident later. "I had to keep reminding
myself that the man was a brother officer of the swine that sank the
_Lusitania_, and so many hospital ships, to stop myself from telling him
how gol darned sorry I was for any one that had got let in for a mess
like that."

The situation was scarcely less embarrassing for the officer at the head
of the Allied party than for the Germans. Fortunately the Flag Commander
was fully equal to the emergency. "If these men are not out on the dock
in ten minutes," he said to the captain, "I shall have no alternative
but to return at once to the _Hercules_ and report that the facilities
for search stipulated in the armistice have not been granted me."
Glancing at his wrist-watch, he sauntered over to the other side of the
deck.

The effect of the words (which appeared to have been understood by some
of the men standing near even in English) was galvanic. Blue-jackets
were streaming down the gangways before the orders had been passed
on to them by their officers, and the ship, save for a few cooks in
the galley, was emptied well within the time-limit assigned. It had
evidently been an attempt upon the part of the men to show contempt
for their officers, and was not intended to interfere with the work
of the searching party. Although we observed countless instances of
indiscipline in one form or another, on no subsequent occasion did it
appear in a way calculated to annoy or delay one of the Allied parties.
On the contrary, indeed, the men--and especially the representatives of
the Workmen's and Soldiers' Council--were almost invariably more than
willing to do anything to help. This spirit, it is needless to say, made
progress much faster and easier, and a continuance of it boded hopefully
for the completion of the Commission's program within the limit of the
original period of armistice.

It seems to have been the strong--and, I have no doubt, entirely
sincere--desire of both the German naval officers and the members of
the Workmen's and Soldiers' Council to get the inspection over and the
Allied Commission out of the way that led to a co-operation between
the two which I can hardly conceive as existing in connection with
their other relations. The representatives of the Workmen and Soldiers
appeared quite reconciled to the ruling of the Commission that the
latter was to have no direct dealings with them, and they exhibited no
evidences of ill-feeling over the failure of their attempts to establish
such relations. The Naval authorities and the Council had evidently
come to an agreement by which the latter were to be allowed to have
a representative--"watching" but not "talking"--with every Allied
party landing, in return for which privilege the Council undertook
to prevent any interference from the men remaining in ships or air
stations visited. Later, when journeys by railway were undertaken, and
a guarantee of freedom from molestation by the civilian population was
required, a second Workmen's and Soldiers' representative--a sort of a
"plain clothes" detective--was added. Both white-banded men were there
to help, not to interfere. Indeed, the men seemed fully to realize the
need of a higher mentality than their own in the conduct of the more or
less complicated negotiations with the Allied representatives, and were
therefore content to support their officers in an attempt to make the
best of what was a sorry situation for both.

A slight hitch which occurred in the arrangements of the "seaplane
station" party one morning, when the officer who was to have accompanied
it failed to turn up on the landing at the appointed hour, showed
how slender was the thread by which the authority of the once proud
and domineering German naval officer hung. After cooling their heels
in the slush of the dockyard for half an hour, the party returned
to the _Hercules_ to await an explanation. This came an hour later,
when the officer in question, very red in the face, came bumping up
to the gangway in a madly driven motor-boat, and clambered up to the
quarter-deck to make his apologies.

"I am very sorry," he ejaculated volubly, "but it was not understood
by the _Arbeiter und Soldatenrat_ that it was I who was to go with you
today. In consequence, the permit to wear my sword and epaulettes and
other markings of an officer was not sent to me, and so I could not be
allowed to travel by the tramway until I had made known the trouble by
telephone and had the permit sent. It was even very difficult for me to
be allowed to speak over the telephone. You must see how very hard life
is for us officers as things are now."

It appears that even the officers going about with the Allied naval
sub-commissions were only allowed to wear their designating marks for
the occasion, and that, unless a special permit from the Workmen's and
Soldiers' Council was shown, these had to be removed as soon as they
went ashore. The constant "self-pity" which the officers kept showing
in the matter of their humiliating predicament was the one thing needed
to extinguish the sparks of sympathy which would keep flaring up in
one's breast unless one stopped to think how thoroughly deserved--how
poetically just--it all was.

With one or two exceptions, all the best of Germany's capital ships
were known to have been surrendered, and this applied to light cruisers
and destroyers as well. The U-boat situation was somewhat obscure, but
it was supposed--incorrectly, as transpired later--that a fairly clean
sweep of the best of the under-water craft had also been made. The
most interesting ships which the Allied Commission expected to see in
German waters were the battleship _Baden_, sister of the surrendered
_Bayern_, and the battle-cruiser _Mackensen_, sister of the surrendered
_Hindenburg_. The _Regensburg_ and _Königsberg_, which had been left
to the Germans to "get about in," were also considered worthy of study
at close range as examples of the latest type of German light cruiser.
The _Mackensen_, still far from completed, was in a yard on the Elbe at
Hamburg. The others were inspected at Wilhelmshaven.

I think I am speaking conservatively when I say that all of the Allied
officers who saw them from the inside were distinctly disappointed in
even these most modern examples of German naval construction. After
the extremely good fight that practically every one of them--from the
_Emden_ and _Königsberg_ and the ships of Von Spee's squadron at the
Falklands to the battle-cruisers of Von Hipper at Jutland--had put up
when it was once drawn into action, it was only natural to expect that
some radical departures in construction, armament, and gunnery control
would be revealed on closer acquaintance. This did not prove to be the
case, though it is only fair to say that, in the matter of gunnery
control, there was little opportunity to pass judgment, owing to the
fact that, in every instance, the Germans--as they had a perfect right
to do--had removed all the instruments and gear calculated to give any
indication of the character of the installation.

The German ships were found to be extremely well built, especially in
the solidity of construction of their hulls, the fact that they were not
intended to be lived in by a full ship's company all of the time making
it easy to multiply bulkheads and dispense with doors. But there was
nothing new in this fact to those who knew the amount of hammering the
_Seydlitz_ and _Derfflinger_ had survived at Dogger Bank and Jutland.
Even so, however, there was nothing to indicate that these latest of
German ships would stand more punishment than any unit of the Grand
Fleet after the stiffening all British capital ships received as a
consequence of what was learned at Jutland.

In several respects it was evident that the Germans had merely become
tardy converts to British practice. The tripod mast, which dates back
something like a decade in British capital ships, and which has, since
the war, been built in light cruisers and even destroyer leaders, was
only adopted by the Germans with the laying down of the _Bayern_ and
_Hindenburg_. Similarly, the armament--both main and secondary--of the
respective classes of battleship and battle-cruiser to which these two
ships give the name, is a frank admission on the part of the Germans
that the British were five years ahead of them in the matter of guns.

Gunnery control, the one thing above all others which the British Navy
was interested in when it came to an intimate study of the German
ships, is, unfortunately, one of the things upon which the least light
has been shed. The German, since he had to disarm, did the job with
characteristic Teutonic thoroughness. The transmitting stations in all
of the modern ships--the one point where there would have been a great
concentration of special instruments of control--looked like unfurnished
rooms in their emptiness. So, too, the foretops and what must have
been the director towers. One moot point may, however, be regarded as
settled. There have been many who maintained that, since the German fire
was almost invariably extremely accurate in the opening stages of an
action, and tended to fall off rapidly after the ship came under fire
herself, the enemy gunnery control involved the use of a very elaborate
and highly complicated installation of special instruments, many of
which were too delicate to stand the stress of continued action. The
British and American officers who went over the latest of the enemy's
ships, however, are agreed that all the evidence available points
to this not being the case--that the German gunnery control, on the
contrary, was undoubtedly as simple as it was efficient, and that the
fact that it had not stood up well in action was probably more due to
human than mechanical failure.

It is considered as by no means improbable that the good shooting of
the German ships was largely traceable to the excellence of their
range-finders and the special training of those who used them. Whether
it is true or not that France and England have succeeded since the war
in making optical glass equal to that of Jena, there is no doubt that
the latter was superior in the first years of the war. The German ships
unquestionably had more accurate range-finders than did the British,
and it is also known now that the Germans took great care in testing the
eyesight of the men employed to handle these instruments, and that much
attention was given to their training. It is believed that upon these
simple points alone, rather than upon the use of a highly complicated
system of control, the admitted excellence of German gunnery was based.
There is no reason to believe that they had anything better than the
British for laying down the "rate of change," and keeping the enemy
under fire once he had been straddled.

Although it was known to the British sailor in a general sort of way
that the Germans only spent a comparatively small part of their time
aboard their ships, the tangible evidence of this remarkable state of
affairs--in the vast blocks of barracks at Wilhelmshaven and the very
crude, inadequate living quarters in even the most modern of the ships
searched--gave him only less of a shock, and aroused in him only less
contempt, than did the filth and indiscipline of the German sailors. The
German officer who assured one of the searching parties that their ships
were made "to fight in, not to live in," told the literal truth, and it
only accentuates the bitter irony of the fact that, when finally they
refused to fight, they had to begin to be lived in willy-nilly.

"You can't tell me there isn't a God in Israel, now that we've got the
Huns at Scapa living in their own ships," said an officer on coming off
to the _Hercules_ one night after his first day spent in going over
some of the remnants of the German Navy at Wilhelmshaven. That same
thought is awakening no end of comfort in the breast of many a British
naval officer this winter, who would otherwise have been down on his
luck for having still to stand to his guns after the war was over. In a
previous chapter I have told how we intercepted a wireless from Admiral
Von Reuter, saying that he had "gone sick" at Scapa and asking to be
relieved. That was not the last by any means that we were to hear of
the "hardships" of life in those German "fighting ships" at good old
Scapa. The veritable howls of protest rising from the Orkneys were
echoing in Wilhelmshaven and Kiel during all the time the Commission
spent in German waters. Some mention of the "sad plight" of the German
sailors there was made at every conference, and it was at the final
one, I believe, that Admiral Goette said that the "cruel conditions"
under which the men in the interned ships were being compelled to live
at Scapa Flow was alone responsible for the fact that it had been so
far impossible to find a crew to man the _Baden_, which he had agreed
some days previously should be delivered in place of the uncompleted
_Mackensen_.

Except for the several modern ships I have mentioned, the search of the
naval units remaining in German ports resolved itself into a more or
less monotonous clambering over a lot of obsolete hulks--from many of
which even the guns had been removed--to see that no munitions remained
in their magazines. There was always the same inevitable filth to be
waded through, always the same gloweringly sullen--or, worse still by
way of variation, cringingly obsequious--officers to be endured. The
sullen ones usually improved when they found that no "indignities" were
to be heaped upon them, and that they had only to answer a few questions
and show the way round; but you had to keep a weather eye lifting for
the obsequious ones to prevent their helping you up ladders by steadying
your elbow, rubbing imaginary spots of grease off your monkey jacket,
and--the invariable finale--offering you a limp, moist hand to shake at
parting. The latter, like the ruthless U-boat warfare, was dangerous
principally on account of its unexpectedness. When adequate "counter
measures" were devised against it, it became less threatening, but had
always to be looked out for. I don't recall, though, hearing any one
confess to having been "surprised" into shaking hands after the first
day or two.

The search of the warships at Wilhelmshaven was finished in a couple of
days, while the few old cruisers and destroyers at Emden were inspected
in the three hours between going and returning railway journeys,
taking about the same length of time. At Hamburg and Bremen there
were principally merchant ships and U-boats, and the search of--and
for--both of these is a story of its own. The remainder of the work on
the North Sea side consisted in journeys--by train, motor, destroyer,
or launch--to, and the inspection of, Germany's principal seaplane and
airship stations, and of these highly interesting visits I shall write
in later chapters.



III

FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF "STARVING GERMANY"


Our visit to the island of Norderney was a memorable one for two
reasons--first, because we inspected there what is not only the largest
of Germany's seaplane stations, but also probably the largest and best
equipped in all Europe; and second, because the journey there gave
us, all in the course of a few hours, our first after-the-war glimpse
of a German city, German countryside, a German railway, and what had
once been a German summer resort. The couple of days spent in the
search of the German warships had given no opportunity whatever to see
anything more than an interminable succession of dirty mess decks, empty
magazines, disgruntled officers, slovenly sailors, and cluttered docks.
Steeples and factory chimneys and the loom of lofty barracks located
Wilhelmshaven without revealing it. The steady dribble of pedestrians
along the waterfront road might have been made up of Esquimaux or
Kanakas, for all that we could see. One wondered if their emaciated
frames were dressed in paper suits, and if their tottering feet clumped
along in wooden clogs. The excellence of the material of the untidy
garb of the sailors, and the well-fed appearance of the latter, seemed
to point to the contrary. But still one couldn't be sure. We knew that
Germany had never made the mistake of under-feeding or under-clothing
her soldiers and sailors, and that where any one had to go without
it was always the civilians who suffered. We wanted to see how those
civilians had stood the "starvation blockade" against which they had
protested so loudly, and now--through our visits to the various naval
air stations--the veil was about to be lifted.

The fog--the interminable fog which never lifted for more than a
few hours at a time during the whole of our three weeks in German
waters--banked thick above the green stream of the swift-running tide
as our picket boat shoved off from the _Hercules_ at eight o'clock
that morning, and there was just sufficient visibility to pick up the
successive buoys marking the course to the entrance to the basin.
Running in just ahead of an antique torpedo-boat with the usual indolent
sailors slouching along its narrow decks, we stepped out upon the
longest pontoon landing I have ever seen. Twenty yards wide, and over a
hundred in length, it was constructed so as to rise and fall with flow
and ebb of what must have been a very considerable tide.

No one being on the landing to receive the party, we started walking
in toward its shoreward end. The men on the torpedo-boats stared at
us with insolent curiosity, without the suggestion of the shuffle of
a foot toward standing at attention as even the "brassiest" of our
several "brass-hats" passed by; but from the galley of a tug moored
on the opposite side the cook grinned wide-mouthed welcome. She was a
fine, upstanding, double-braided blonde of generous proportions, and the
bulging bulk of her overflowed the narrow companion-way into which she
was wedged as the raw red flesh of her arm swelled over the line of its
rolled-up sleeve.

"No traces of under-feeding in that figure," said a British flying
officer, with the critically impersonal glance he would have given to
the wings of a machine he was about to take the air in. "No," acquiesced
one of the Americans; "and there's no fear of _schrecklichkeit_ in that
face, either. Pipe that 'welcome-to-our-fair-city' grin, won't you.
Could you beat it for a display of ivories?"

And so we came to "starving Germany."

A bustling young flying lieutenant came hurrying to meet us at the shore
end of the landing, apologizing for his tardiness by saying that it was
due to "trouble about the cars." After seeing the motley collection
of motors which awaited us outside the gate, one had no difficulty in
believing him; indeed, it was hard to see how there could be anything
but "trouble about the cars." The best of them was an ancient Mercedes,
the pneumatic tyres of which, worn down to the treads, looked as
though they would puncture on the smooth face of a paving stone. Two
others--one of them looked like a sort of "perpetuation" of a collision
between a Daimler lorry and a Benz runabout, and the other was an
out-and-out mongrel with no visible marks of ancestry--had the remains
of what had once been solid tyres of _ersatz_ rubber bound to the rims
with bits of tarred rope. The fourth and last was _ersatz_ throughout.
That is to say, it seemed to be made--from its paper upholstery to its
steel-spring tyres--of "other things" than those from which the normal
cars one has always known are made of.

I had heard much of those spring tyres, so, taking advantage of
the general rush for the pneumatically tyred Mercedes and the
"rheumatically" tyred nondescripts, I lifted an oiled-paper curtain and
plumped down on the woven paper cushion of old "_Ersatz_." As the other
cars were quite filled up with the remainder of our party, the escorting
German officer came in with me.

"The imitation rubber," he began slowly and precisely, "makes many good
things, but not the good motor tyres. It is resilient, but not elastic.
It will stand the pushing but not the pulling. It is not strong, not
tough, like the rubber from the tree. Ah, the English were very lucky
always to have the real rubber. If that had been so with Germany--"

Just to what extent a continuous supply of real rubber would have
modified the situation for Germany I did not learn, for we started up
just then, and the rest of the sentence was lost in the mighty whirl of
sound in which we were engulfed. The best comparison I can make of the
noise that car made--as heard from within--is to a sustained crescendo
of a super-Jazz band, the cymbals of which were represented by the
clankity-clank of the component parts of the steel tyres banging against
each other and the pavement, and the drums of which were the rhythmic
thud-thud of the _ersatz_ body on the lifeless springs. Although the
other cars were rattling heavily on their own account, the ear-rending
racket of the steel-tyres dominated the situation completely, and at the
first turn I caught an impressionistic blend of blue and khaki uniforms
as their occupants leaned out to see what was in pursuit of them.

"It was unlike any sound I ever heard before," said one of them in
describing it later. "It was positively Bolshevik!" All in all, I
think "Bolshevik" is more fittingly descriptive than "Jazz-band-ic." It
carries a suggestion of "savageness" quite lacking in the latter, and
"savage" that raucous tornado of sound surely was. I could never allow
myself to contemplate the primal chaos one of the American officers
tried to conjure up by asking what it would be like to hear two motor
convoys of steel-tyred trucks passing each other during a bombardment.
The only sensible comment I heard on that question was from the
officer who cut in with, "Please tell me how you'd know there _was_ a
bombardment?"

There was one thing that steel-tyred car did well, though, and that
was to respond to its emergency brake. The occasion for the use of
the latter arose when a turning bridge was suddenly opened fifteen or
twenty yards ahead of the leading car, imposing upon the latter the
necessity of stopping dead inside that distance or taking a header into
a canal. The Mercedes, skating airily along on its wobbly tyres, managed
it by inches after streaking the pavement with two broad belts of the
last "real tree rubber" left in Germany. The leading nondescript--the
Benz-Daimler blend--gave the Mercedes a sharp bump before losing
the last of its momentum, and all but the last of its fluttering
"rope-_ersatz_-rubber" tyres, while its mate only came to a standstill
after skidding sideways on its rims. But my steel-tyred chariot, the
instant its emergency brake was thrown on, simply set its teeth into the
red brick pavement, and, spitting sparks like a dragon, stopped as dead
as though it had run against a stone wall. My companion and I, having
nothing to set _our_ teeth into, simply kept going right on. I, luckily,
only butted the chauffeur, who--evidently because the same thing had
happened to him before--took it all in good part; but the dapper young
officer, who planted the back of his head squarely between the shoulder
blades of the august Workmen's and Soldiers' representative riding
beside the driver, got a good swearing at for not aiming lower and
allowing the back of the seat to absorb his inertia. Quite apart from
the sparks kicked up by the tyres, and the stars shaken down by my jolt,
it was a highly illuminating little incident.

We ran more slowly after we crossed the bridge--which also meant more
quietly, or rather, less noisily--and for the first time I noticed what
a new world we seemed to have come into since we left the immediate
vicinity of the docks. It was not so much that we were now passing down
a street of small shops, where before we had been among warehouses and
factories, as the difference in appearance and spirit of the people. No
one--not even the labourer going to his morning work--had anything of
the slovenly hang-dog air of the sailors we had seen in the ships and
about the dockyard. The streets and the shops were clean, and even the
meanest of the people neatly and comfortably dressed. We had come out of
the atmosphere of revolution into that of ordinary work-a-day Germany.

As we rounded a corner and came clattering into the main street of the
city, the change was even more marked. At first blush there was hardly a
suggestion of war, or of war's aftermath. The big shop-windows were full
of goods, with here and there the forerunning red-and-green decorations
of the coming holidays. Here was an art shop's display of etchings and
coloured prints, there a haberdasher's stock of scarves and shirts
and gloves. Even a passing glance, it is true, revealed a prominently
displayed line of false shirt fronts; but, then, your German always was
partial to "dickeys." A florist's window, in which a fountain plashed
above a basin of water-lilies, was golden with splendid chrysanthemums,
and in the milliner's window hard by a saffron-plumed confection of
ultra-marine held high revel with a riotous thing of royal purple plush.

Noting my eager interest in the gay window panorama, my companion,
leaning close to my ear to make himself heard above the clatter of the
tyres, shouted jerkily with the jolt of the car, "We are fond of the
bright colours, we Germans, and we make the very good dyes. I think you
have missed very much the German dyes since the war, and will now be
very glad of the chance to have them again. We have learned much during
the war, and they are now better than ever before. We laugh very much
when we capture the French soldier with the faded blue uniform, for then
we know that the French cannot make the dye that will hold its colour.
But the German--"

"Waiting with the goods," I said to myself as I drew away from the
dissertation to watch a tramcar disgorging its load at a crossing.

We were now running through the heart of Wilhelmshaven, and it was the
early office crowd that was thronging the streets. How well they were
dressed, and how well fed they looked! There were no hollow eyes or
emaciated forms in that crowd. One who has seen famines in China and
India knows the hunger look, the hunger pallor, the hunger apathy. There
is no mistaking them. But we had not seen any of them in the German
ships or dockyards, we did not see them that day in Wilhelmshaven,
and we were not destined to see them in Bremen, Hamburg, Kiel, or
anywhere else we went in the course of our many hundreds of miles
of travel in Northern Germany. So far as Mecklenburg, Oldenburg, and
Schleswig-Holstein were concerned, I have no hesitation in saying that
the starvation whine, which arose from the moment the ink was dry upon
the armistice agreement and which still persists, was sheer--to be
charitable, let us say--panic.

Presently, as we began to pass some huge masses of buildings which,
four or five stories in height, appeared to run on through two or three
blocks of the not unattractive park-like grounds with which they were
surrounded, my companion, indicating them with a proud wave of his
hand, started speaking again. I could not hear him distinctly--for we
were speeding up faster now, and consequently making more noise--but I
thought I caught the drift of what he was trying to say.

"Ja, ja," I roared back. "Ich verstehe sehr gut. Der naval barracks.
Der German High Sea Fleet Base." I think that was hardly the way he
was trying to put it, but his vigorous nod of assent showed that I had
at least gathered the sense of his observations. As we slowed down at
the next corner he put me completely right by saying, "Not for the
ships themselves, the big barracks, but for the men when the ships were
here. I think you make a joke." I admitted the shrewd impeachment
with a grin, but hardly thought it necessary to add that I was afraid
he had still missed the best part of the joke. He was a diverting lad,
that young flying officer, and he told me many interesting things in
the course of the day. Some of them were true, as subsequent events
or observations proved; but one of them at least was a calculated and
deliberate lie, told with the purpose of inducing one of the "air"
parties to give up the plan it had formed of visiting a certain station.
I will set down that significant little incident in its proper place.

Although, as we learned later, the fact that a party from the Allied
Commission was to land and pass through the city that day had been
carefully withheld from the people, the latter exhibited very little
surprise at the appearance of officers in uniforms which they seemed to
recognize at once as foreign. They had been instructed that they were to
make no demonstration of any kind when Allied officers were encountered
in the streets, and, docile as ever, they carried out the order to the
letter. A mild, unresentful curiosity would perhaps best describe the
attitude of all the people who saw us that day, both in Wilhelmshaven
and at the country stations.

The fact that many of the streets were dressed with flags and greenery,
and that all of the children, both boys and girls, trudging along
to school carried the red, white, and black emblem in their hands,
suggested to me at first that it was part of a patriotic display, a sort
of flaunting the new-found freedom in the face of the "invader." But my
companion assured me that the decorations were in honour of the expected
arrival home of two regiments of Wilhelmshaven Marines from the Front.
"We have been _en fête_ for a week now in hourly expectation of their
coming, and every day the children have put on their best clothes and
carried flags in their hands. But the railway service is very bad, and
always are they disappointed. You will see the arch of welcome at the
railway station. Wilhelmshaven is very proud of its Marine soldiers."

The "arch" at the station turned out to be the evergreen and
bunting-decorated entrance to a long shed set with tables, at which
refreshments were to be served to the returning warriors. It was
surmounted with a shield bearing the words "Willkommen Soldaten," and an
eight-line stanza of verse which I did not have time to copy. The gist
of it was that the soldiers were welcomed home to "Work and Liberty."
It was thoroughly bad verse, said one of our interpreters, but the
sentiments were--for Germany--"restrained and dignified." There was
nothing about the "unbeaten soldiers," of whom we had been reading as
welcomed home in Berlin and other parts of Germany.

There was a small crowd at the station entrance as our cars drove
up, but it parted quietly and made way for us to pass inside. One or
two sailors stood at attention and saluted--though whether German or
Allied officers it was impossible to tell--and several civilians bowed
solemnly and took off their hats. One of these reached out and made
temporary captive an irreverent street gamin who--purely in a spirit
of fun, apparently--started "goose-stepping" along in our wake. A bevy
of minxes of the shop-girl type giggled sputteringly, getting much
apparent amusement the while out of pretending to keep each other
quiet. One gaudily garbed pair, standing easily at gaze in the middle
of the waiting-room, stared brazenly and ogled frank invitation. An
austere dame--she might have been an opulent naval captain's frau--drew
a languid hand from what looked like a real ermine muff to lift a
tortoise-shell lorgnette and pass us one by one in critical review. Then
the old ticket-puncher, touching his cap as though he had recognized the
party as the Board of Directors on a surreptitious tour of inspection,
passed us through the gate and on the platform and our waiting train.

Our special consisted of a luggage van and a passenger coach, drawn
by an engine in a very advanced state of what appeared to be neglect.
Though all its parts were there, these, except where rubbed clean by
friction, were thick with rust and scaled with flaking paint. The worst
trouble, however, seemed to come from lack of lubrication, for in the
places where every other locomotive I had seen before was dripping with
oil, this one showed only caked graphite and hard, dry steel. While
there is little doubt that the Germans made a point of turning out their
worst engines and motor cars for the use of the Allied sub-commissions
in order to give an impression that things were really in a desperate
way with them, it is still beyond question that their railway stock
deteriorated greatly during the war, and that a shortage of lubricating
oils was one of their very worst difficulties.

The passenger coach was equally divided between first- and second-class
compartments. Entering at the second-class end, our party distributed
itself between the first two compartments reached. By the time one of
the several German officers who had now joined us pointed out the big
figure "2" on the windows, we were so comfortably settled that no one
deemed it worth while to move. As a matter of fact, on the German
railways, with their four or five classes, there is gentler gradation
between class and class than in France or England; and between first and
second--save that the former is upholstered in dark-red plush and the
latter in light-green--the difference is hardly noticeable. The main
difference is, I believe, in the price, and the fact that only six are
allowed in the first-class against eight in the second. We extracted a
good deal of amusement out of the fact that the several Workmen's and
Soldiers' representatives made no mistake, and lost no time, in marking
a first-class compartment for their own.

We had been somewhat perplexed on our arrival at the station to note
that the two uniformed Workmen's and Soldiers' representatives had
been joined by two civilians, each wearing the white arm-band of the
revolutionary council. But presently one of the latter, hat in hand,
came to the door of our compartment to explain. The naval authorities,
he said, had requested that the Workmen and Soldiers should guarantee
the safety of all Allied parties landing from civilian attack, and in
consequence he had been sent along as a "hostage." At least the German
term he used was one which could be translated as hostage, but after
talking it over we came to the conclusion that the man's _rôle_ was
more analogous to that of a "plain clothes" special policeman. There
was one of these men attached to every party that made a train journey
on the North Sea side (all stations in the Baltic littoral were reached
by destroyer, so that no "protection" from the civilian population was
necessary), and they were neither of any trouble nor--so far as I was
ever able to discern--any use.

Leaving a handful of morning papers behind him as a propitiatory
offering, our "hostage" bowed himself out of the door and backed off
down the corridor--still bowing--to rejoin his colleagues in the
first-class section of the car. In the quarter of an hour there was
still to wait before the line was clear for the departure of our train,
we had our first chance for a peep into Germany through the window of
the Press.

The four-page sheets turned out to be copies of _Vorwärts_, the
_Kölnische Volkszeitung und Handels-Blatt_, the _Weser Zeitung_, of
Bremen, the _Wilhelmshavener Tageblatt_, and the _Republik_. The
latter styled itself the _Sozialdemokratisches Organ für Oldenburg und
Ostfriesland_, and the _Mitteilungsblatt der Arbeiter und Soldatenräte_.
It claimed to be in its thirty-second year, but admitted that all this
time, except the fortnight since the revolution, it had borne the name
of _Oldenburger Volksblatt_. It had little in the way of news from
either the outside world or the interior, the few columns which it
gave up to this purpose being filled with accounts of the formation
of republics in various other provinces, and attacks upon members of
the acting Government in Berlin. Evidently under some sort of orders,
it mentioned the arrival of the _Hercules_ at Wilhelmshaven without
comment. A socialistic sheet of Hamburg, which turned up the next
day, showed less restraint in this connection, for it stated that the
Allied Commission had altered its decision not to meet the Workmen's
and Soldiers' representatives, and that negotiations were now in
progress in which the latter were taking a prominent part. Tangible
evidence of the truth of this statement, it added, might be found in the
fact that delegates from the Workmen and Soldiers accompanied Allied
parties whenever they landed. _Vorwärts_ tried to convey the same false
impression to its readers, but rather less brazenly. The _Kölnische
Volkszeitung_ printed a dispatch from London, in which the _Daily Mail_
was quoted as supporting the "_australischen Premierministers Hughes'_"
demand of an indemnity of "_acht milliarden Pfund Sterling_" from
Germany, and proceeded to prove in the course of an impassioned leader
of two columns why the demanding of any indemnity at all was in direct
violation of the pledged word of the Allies, to say nothing of Wilson's
Fourteen Points. A significant circumstance was the inclusion in each
paper of a part of a column of comment on the movement of prices of
"_Landesprodukte_" on the American markets.

The advertisements, which took up rather more than half of each sheet,
proved by long odds more interesting than the news. These were quite
in best "peace time" style. The _Metropol-Variete_ (_Neu renoviert!_)
informed all and sundry that "_Vier elegante junge Damen!_" disported
themselves in its "_Kabarett_" every evening. The head-line of the great
"_Spezialitäten Programm_" in the theatre was "_Die Grosse Sensation:
Martini Szeny, genannt der 'Ausbrecher-König'!_" A number in the
_Metropol's_ program which appealed to us more than all the others,
however, was one which was featured further down the list, for there,
sandwiched between "KITTY DEANOS UND PARTNER, _Kunstschutzen_," and
"HANS ROMANS, _Liedersanger_," appeared "LITTLE WILLY, _Trapez-Volant_."

"And all the time we thought he was in Holland," dryly commented the
American officer who made the discovery.

One could not help wondering respecting the "etymology" of "Little
Willy," and whether that "Flying Trapezist" knew that he bore the
favourite Allied nickname for His ex-Royal and Imperial Highness,
Frederick Wilhelm Hohenzollern, Crown Prince of Germany, etc., etc.

Evidence that Hun "piracy" had not been confined to their U-boats was
unearthed in the discovery that the Adler-Theatre of Bremen advertised
two performances of "DIE MODERNE EVA" for that very day--_Heute
Sonntag_! "I ran across the chap who wrote 'The Modern Eve' somewhere
out California way," said the same American who had spoken before. "He
was some bore, too, take it from me; but he never deserved anything
as bad as this, for the show itself was pretty nifty," and he began
humming, in extemporaneously translated German the words of "Good-bye
Everybody," the popular "song hit" from "The Modern Eve."

It was a Berlin theatre which advertised "2 _Vorstellungen_ 2" of
"Hamlet," which ended up the notice with "RAUCHEN STRENG VERBOTEN!" in
large type. "If they burn the same stuff in Berlin that our Workmen and
Soldier friends in the first-class are putting up that smoke barrage in
the corridor with," said an airship officer, "it would have to be a case
of '_Rauchen Streng Verboten_' or gas masks."

A number of booksellers advertised long lists of "_Neue Werke_,"
but one searched these in vain for any of the notorious polemics
directed against the Allies, or yet for the writings of any of the
great protagonists of the "Deutschland Ueber Alles" movement. Most of
them appeared to be "Romances" or out-and-out "Thrillers." Bachem, of
Köln, described "_Der Meister_" as "_Der Roman eines Spiritisten_";
"_Wettertannen_" as a "_Tiroler Roman aus der Gegenwart von Hans
Schrott_"; "_Wenn Irland dich ruft_" as "_Der Roman eines Fliegers_";
and "_Der blutige Behrpfennig_" as "_Erzählung aus dem Leben eines
Priesters_." Although one would have thought that the German people had
had quite enough of that kind of thing from their late Government, every
book I saw advertised in any of these papers was fiction.

Perhaps the most optimistic of all these advertisements was that of the
"Kismet Laboratorium," of Berlin, in the _Republik_, which claimed to
make a preparation for the improvement of the female form divine. Now
that the war was over, it read, they no longer felt any hesitation in
announcing that their great discovery was based on a certain product
which could only be obtained from British India. As their pre-war stock
had only been eked out by dilution with an not entirely satisfactory
substitute, it was with great pleasure that they informed their many
customers that they hoped shortly to conclude arrangements by which
the famous "Bakatal-Busenwasser" could again be furnished in all its
pristine purity and strength.

So here, it appears, was an indirect admission to prove wrong the
individual who averred that the German chemists could make out of coal
tar anything in the world except a gentleman. It seems that all the time
they had been dependent upon British India for even the "makings" of a
lady. It would have been interesting to know what the "arrangements"
were by which the supply was to be renewed. We were discussing that
question when the train started, and a "flat" wheel on the "bogey"
immediately under our compartment put an end to casual conversation.

On the outskirts of the town we passed by a great series of sidings
closely packed with oil-tank-cars from all parts of the Central Empires.
The most of them were marked in German, but with names which indicated
beyond a doubt that they had been employed in serving the Galician
fields of Austria. On many more the name of Rumania appeared in one
form or another, and several bore the names of the British concerns
from which they had been seized when the rich oilfields of that unlucky
country fell to Mackensen's armies. A considerable number of cars
were marked with Russian characters, which led to the assumption that
they had been seized in Courland or the Ukraine, and that they had
originally run to and from the greatest of the world's oilfields at
Baku, on the Caspian. There was a persistent report at one time that
Germany was constructing an oil-pipe-line from the Galician fields to
Kiel and Wilhelmshaven. Although quite practicable from an engineering
standpoint, this appears never to have been seriously considered,
probably on account of the great demand for labour and material it would
have made at a time when both could be used to better advantage in other
ways.

Seeing me standing at the window in the corridor looking at the
oil-cars, my young companion of the steel-tyred auto came out of his
compartment and moved up beside me. "As you will see," he said with his
slow precision, "we never lacked badly for the oil for our U-boats.
The one time that we had the great worry was when the Russians had the
fields of Galicia. That cut off our only large supply. But luckily we
had great stocks in hand when the war started, and these were quite
sufficient for our needs until the Russians had been driven out of
Austria. If they had remained there, it is hard to see how we could have
kept going after our reserve was finished. But they did not stay, the
poor Russians, and they did not even have the wits to destroy the wells
properly. We had them producing again at full capacity in a few months.
Now, if they had been destroyed like the English destroyed the wells in
Rumania it would have been different. _There_, in many places, we found
it the cheaper to drill the new wells. Ah, the English are very thorough
when they have the time, both in making and un-making."

As we passed through the suburbs of Wilhelmshaven we began to get some
inkling of where the food came from. All back yards and every spare
patch of ground were in vegetables. Nowhere in England or France have I
seen the surface of the earth so fully occupied, so thoroughly turned
to account. Some thrifty cultivators, after filling up their available
ground with rows of cabbages and Brussels sprouts, appeared to have been
growing beans and peas in hanging baskets and boxes of earth set up on
frames. One genius had erected a forcing bed for what (to judge from
the dead stalks) looked like cucumbers or squashes on the thatched roof
of his cowshed. The only thing needed to cap the climax of agricultural
industry would have been a "hanging garden" suspended from captive
balloons.

As we ran out of the suburban area and into the open country the
allotments gave place to large and well-tilled farms, or rather to farms
which had been well tilled in the season favourable to cultivation.
At the moment work was practically at a standstill on account of the
incessant rains which had inundated considerable areas and left the
ground heavy, water-logged, and temporarily unfit for the plough.
The results of a really bountiful harvest, however, were to be seen
in bulging barns and sheds and plethoric haystacks and fodder piles.
The surest evidence that there had actually been an over-supply of
vegetables was the careless way in which such things as cabbages,
swedes, and beets were being handled in transport. A starving people
does not leave food of this kind to rot along the road nor in the
station yards, evidences of which we saw every now and then for the next
forty miles.

Practically the whole of the North Sea littoral of Germany between the
Kiel Canal and the Dutch border--across the central section of which we
were now passing--is the same sort of a flat, sea-level expanse, and has
the same rich, alluvial soil, as the plains of Flanders. This region,
like Denmark and Holland, had been largely given over to dairying
before the war. The conversion of it from a pastoral to an agricultural
country, by ploughing up the endless miles of meadows, has resulted
in a huge output of foodstuffs, and has put the people inhabiting it
well beyond the risk of anything approaching starvation, no matter how
long the blockade might be kept up. The officers accompanying us were
quite frank in stating that the farmers had prospered and waxed wealthy
by selling their surplus in the nearest industrial centres, such as
Bremen and Hamburg. The pinch, they said, would come when the people
began trying to restock their dairy farms again, for at least a half
of the cattle had been killed off as their pastures had been put under
cultivation.

Judging by the very few cattle in sight--in comparison with the number
one has always seen in the fields in dairying regions--one would be
inclined to estimate the reduction of stock at a good deal more than
half. The fact that it is the local custom to keep the best of their
stock stabled during the most inclement months of the winter doubtless
had a good deal to do with the few animals in sight. As a matter of
fact, there was really very little grazing left for those that might
have been turned out. Sheep were also extremely scarce, but as this was
not a region where they were ever found in great numbers one remarked
their absence less than that of cattle.

But the most astonishing thing of all was that not a single pig was
sighted on either the going or returning journey. The sight of what
appeared to be a long-empty sty started a comparison of observations
from which it transpired that no one watching from either of our two
compartments had so much as clapped an eye on what the world has long
regarded as Germany's favourite species of live stock. After that we all
began standing "pig lookout," but the only "View Halloo" raised was a
false one, the "_schwein_" turning out to be a _dachshund_, and a very
scrawny one at that. Piqued by this astonishing porcine elusiveness,
the "air" parties (upon which most of the land travel devolved) met
in the ward-room of the _Hercules_ that evening and contributed to
form a "Pig Pool," the whole of which was to go to the first member
who could produce incontestable evidence that he had seen a pig upon
German soil. Astounding as it may seem, this prize was never awarded.
The claim of one aspirant was ruled out because, on cross-questioning,
he had to admit that his "pig" wore a German naval uniform and had
tried, by vigorous lying, to head him off from a hangar containing a
very interesting type of a new seaplane. Another claimant proved that
he had actually seen a pig, but only to have the prize withheld when it
transpired that he had flushed nothing more lifelike than the plaster
image of a pig which, cleaver in hand, stood as a butcher's sign in a
village on the island of Rügen. A third claimant _would_ have won the
award had he chanced along five minutes sooner when the villagers were
butchering a pig on the occasion when his party visited the Great Belt
Islands to inspect the forts. Even in this case, though, we should have
had to weigh carefully the evidence of an Irish-American officer of the
same party, who said that it was "a dead cert that pig had died from hog
cholera a good hour before it was killed!"

Although the fact that none of the members of the various Allied
sub-commissions saw so much as a single live hog during the course of
the many hundred miles travelled by train, motor, carriage, or foot
in North-Western Germany, does not mean that the species has become
extinct there by any means, there is still no doubt that the numbers of
this popular and appropriate symbol of the Hun's _grossness_ have been
greatly reduced, and that _schweine_ will be among the top items on
their list of "immediate requirements" forwarded to the Allied Relief
Committee.

Hurried as was this first of our journeys across Oldenburg, I was still
able to see endless evidence not only of the intensive cultivation,
but also the careful and scientific fertilization, which I had good
opportunity to study later at closer range in Mecklenburg and
Schleswig. Stable manure and mulches of sedulously conserved decaying
vegetable matter were being everywhere applied to the land according to
the most approved modern practice. This I had expected to see, for I
already knew the German as an intelligent and well-instructed farmer,
but what did surprise me was clear proof that the supply of artificial
fertilizers--phosphates, nitrates, and lime--was being fairly well
maintained. Truck loads of these indispensable adjuncts to sustained
production standing in station sidings showed that, and so did the state
of the fields themselves; for the fresh young shoots of winter wheat,
which I saw everywhere pushing up and taking full advantage of the
almost unprecedentedly mild December weather, showed no traces of the
"hungriness" I have so often noted during the last year or two in some
of the over-cropped and under-fertilized fields of England.

What with prisoners and the unremitting labour of women and children,
Germany accomplished remarkable things in the way of production. The
area of cultivation was not only largely increased, but the production
of the old fields was also kept at a high level. In no part of the world
have I ever seen fairer farmsteads than those through which the party
inspecting the Great Belt forts north of Kiel drove for many miles one
day. They struck me as combining something of the picturesqueness of a
Somerset farm with the prosperous efficiency of a California ranch. And
it is as a California rancher myself that I say that I only wish I had
soil and outbuildings that would come anywhere nearly up to the average
of those throughout this favoured region of Schleswig. It is true that
many of the people thereabouts are Danish, and I even saw a Danish flag
discreetly displayed behind the neat lace curtains of one farmhouse.
But, Danish or German, they are producing huge quantities of good
food, enough to keep the people of less fertile regions of "starving
Deutschland" far from want.

It was just before our arrival at Norddeich at the end of this first
day's railway journey that I spoke to the German officer who had joined
me at the window of the corridor about the very well-fed look of the
people we had seen on the streets of Wilhelmshaven and at the stations
of the towns and villages through which we had been passing. "It is
true," he replied, "that we have never suffered for food in this part
of the country, and that is because it is so largely agricultural. But
wait until you go to the industrial centres. In Hamburg and Bremen, it
is there that you will see the want and hunger. It is for those poor
people that the Allies must provide much food without delay."

Personally, I did not go either to Hamburg or Bremen, being absent with
parties visiting the Zeppelin stations at Nordholz and Tondern at the
time the Shipping Board of the Naval Commission was inspecting British
merchantmen interned in these once great ports. A member of that board,
however, assured me that he had observed no material difference in the
appearance of the people in the streets of Bremen and Hamburg and those
of Wilhelmshaven. His party had taken "potluck" at the Hotel Atlantic
in Hamburg, where the food had been found ample in quantity and not
unappetizing, even on a meatless day.

"But what of the poor?" I asked. "Did you see anything of the quarters
that would correspond to the slums of London or Liverpool?"

"Germany," he replied, "to her credit, has very few places where the
housing is outwardly so bad as in many British industrial cities I could
name. We did not see much of the parts of Bremen and Hamburg where
the working-classes live; but we did see a good deal of the workers
themselves. I know under-feeding when I see it, for I was in Russia
but a few months ago. But, so far as I could see, the chief difference
between the men in the dockyards and shipbuilding establishments
of Hamburg and those of the Tyne and Clyde was that the former were
working harder. They merely glanced up at us as we passed, with little
curiosity and no resentment, and went right on with the job in hand.
No, everything considered, I should not say that any one is suffering
seriously for lack of food in either Bremen or Hamburg."

"No one is suffering seriously for lack of food." That was the feeling
of all of us at the end of our first day in "starving Germany," and (if
I may anticipate) it was also our verdict when the _Hercules_ sailed for
England, three weeks later.



IV

ACROSS THE SANDS TO NORDERNEY


The names of "Norderney" and "Borkum" on the list of seaplane stations
to be inspected seemed to strike a familiar chord of memory, but it
was not until I chanced upon a dog-eared copy of "The Riddle of the
Sands" on a table in the "Commission Room" of the _Hercules_ that it
dawned upon me where I had heard them before. There was no time at
the moment to re-turn the pages of this most consummately told yarn
of its kind ever written, but, prompted by a happy inspiration, I
slipped the grimy little volume into my pocket. And there (as the
clattering special which was to take us to Norddeich, _en route_ to
Norderney, turned off from the Bremen mainline a few miles outside of
Wilhelmshaven) I found it again, just as the green water-logged fields
and bogs of the "land of the seven _siels_" began to unroll in twin
panoramas on either side. Opening the book at random somewhere toward
the middle, my eye was drawn to a paragraph beginning near the top of
the page facing a much-pencilled chart. "... The mainland is that
district of Prussia that is known as East Friesland." (I remember now
that it was "Carruthers," writing in the _Dulcibella_, off Wangerogg,
who was describing the "lay of the land.") "It is a short, flat-topped
peninsula, bounded on the west by the Ems estuary and beyond that by
Holland, and on the east by the Jade estuary; a low-lying country,
containing great tracts of marsh, and few towns of any size; on the
north side none. Seven islands lie off the coast. All, except Borkum,
which is round, are attenuated strips, slightly crescent-shaped, rarely
more than a mile broad, and tapering at the ends; in length averaging
about six miles, from Norderney and Juist, which are seven and nine
respectively, to little Baltrum, which is only two and a half."

As I turned the book sideways to look at the chart the whole fascinating
story came back with a rush. What man who has ever knocked about in
small boats, tramped roads and poked about generally in places where he
had no business to poke could forget it? The East Friesland peninsula,
with its "seven little rivers" and "seven channels" and "seven islands,"
was the "take off" for the German army which was to cross the North
Sea in barges to land on the sands of "The Wash" for the invasion of
England. And this very line over which our rickety two-car special
was clinkety-clanking--I wished that "Carruthers" could have seen what
a pitiful little old single-track it had become--was the "strategic
trunk" over which the invading cohorts were to be shunted in their
thousands to the waiting deep-sea-going barges in the canalized _siels_.
There was Essen, which was to have been the "nodal centre" of the
great embarkation, and scarcely had I located it on the map before its
tall spire was stabbing the north-western skyline as we drew in to the
station.

A raw-boned, red-faced girl, her astonishingly powerful frame clad in a
man's greasy overall, lowered the barrier at the high-road crossing, the
same barrier, I reflected, which had held up "Carruthers," Von Brunning,
and the two "cloaked gentlemen" on the night of the great adventure.
Four "land girls," in close-fitting brown corduroys, with great baskets
of red cabbages on their shoulders, were just trudging off down the road
to Dornum, the very "cobbled causeway flanked with ditches and willows,
and running cheek by jowl with the railway track" which "Carruthers" had
followed by midnight, with "fleecy clouds and a half moon overhead,"
in search of the Benser Tief. There was even a string of mighty barges
towing down the narrow canal of the "Tief" when we crossed its rattling
bridge a few minutes later. And just as "Carruthers" described, the road
and railway clung closely together all the way to Dornum, and about
halfway were joined by a third companion in the shape of a puny stream,
the Neues Tief. "Wriggling and doubling like an eel, choked with sedges
and reeds," it had no more pretensions to being navigable now than then.
It still "looped away into the fens out of sight, to reappear again
close to Dornum in a more dignified guise," and it still skirted the
town to the east, where there was a towpath and a piled wharf. The only
change I was able to note in the momentary halt of the train was that
the "red-brick building with the look of a warehouse, roofless as yet
and with workmen on the scaffolds," had now been covered with red tile
and filled with red cabbages.

It was at Dornum that "Carruthers" (who was masquerading as a German
sailor on his way to visit a sister living on Baltrum) fell in at a
primitive _Gasthaus_ with an ex-crimp, drunken with much _schnappsen_,
who insisted on accompanying him on a detour to Dornumersiel, where he
had planned to do a hasty bit of spying. From the right-hand window I
caught a brief glimpse of the ribbon of the coastward road, down the
length of which the oddly-assorted pair--the Foreign Office _précis_
writer and the one-time "shanghai" artist--had stumbled arm-in-arm,
treating each other in every gin-shop on the way.

"Carruthers'" detour to the coast carried him out of sight of the
railway, so that he missed the little red-brick schoolhouse, close up by
the track, where the buxom mistress had her whole brood of young Fritzes
and Gretchens lined up along the fence of the right-of-way to wave and
cheer our train as it passed. How she received word of the coming of the
"Allied Special" we could only conjecture, but it was probably through
some Workmen's and Soldiers' Council friend in the railway service. But
even so, as the schoolhouse was three miles from the nearest station
and had nothing suggestive of a telephone line running to it, she must
have had her _banzai_ party standing by in readiness a good part of
the forenoon session. Hurriedly dropping a window (they work rather
hard on account of the stiffness of the thick paper strap), I was just
able to gather that the burden of the greeting was "Good morning, good
morning, sir!" repeated many times in guttural chorus. If any of them
were shouting "Welcome!" as one or two of our party thought they heard,
it escaped my ears. They did the thing so well one was sure it had been
rehearsed, and wondered how long it had been since those same throaty
trebles had been raised in the "Hymn of Hate." If "Carruthers" spying
visit to Dornumersiel resulted in anything more "revealing" than the dig
in the ribs one of the youngsters got from the mistress for (apparently)
not cheering lustily enough, he neglected to set it down in his story.
This little incident prepared us for much we were to see later in the
way of German "conciliation" methods.

"Carruthers," when he returned to the railway again and took train at
Hage, made the journey from the latter station to Norden in ten minutes.
The fact that our special took twenty is sufficient commentary on the
deterioration of German road-beds and rolling stock. Norden, which
is the junction point for Emden, to the south, and Norddeich, to the
north, is a good-sized town, and we noticed here that the streets were
beflagged and arched with evergreen as at Wilhelmshaven, doubtless in
expectation of returning troops. While our engines were being changed,
a couple of workmen, standing back in the depths of a tool-house, kept
waving their hands ingratiatingly every time the armed guard (who always
paced up and down the platform while the train was at a station) turned
his back. What they were driving at--unless co-operating with the
children in the general "conciliation" program--we were not able to make
out.

From Norden to Norddeich was a run of but three or four miles, but a bad
road-bed and a worse engine made the journey a tedious if fitting finale
to our painful progress across the East Frisian peninsula. Halting but a
few moments at the main station, the train was shunted to a spur which
took it right out to the quay where the great dyke bent inward to form a
narrow artificial harbour. A few steps across the slippery moss-covered
stones, where the falling tide had bared the sloping landing, took us to
where a small but powerfully engined steam launch was waiting to convey
the party to Norderney. Manned by naval ratings, it had the same aspect
of neglect which characterized all of the warships we had visited. The
men saluted smartly, however, and on our expressing a wish to remain in
the open air in preference to the stuffy cabin, they tumbled below and
brought up cushions and ranged them along the deck-house to sit upon.
The Allied officers dangled their legs to port, the German officers to
starboard, while the ex-sailor and the "plain clothes" detective from
the Workmen's and Soldiers' Council disposed themselves authoritatively
in the wheel-house.

A few minutes' run between heavy stone jetties brought us to the
open sea, where the launch began threading a channel which seemed to
be marked mostly by buoys, but here and there by close-set rows of
saplings, now just beginning to show their scraggly tops above the
falling water. It was the sight of these latter marks--so characteristic
of these waters--that reminded me that we had at last come out into the
real hunting ground of the _Dulcibella_, where "Davies" and "Carruthers"
had puzzled out the solution of "The Riddle of the Sands." Norderney
and Juist and Borkum and the other of the "seven islands" strung their
attenuated lengths in a broken barrier to seaward, and between them
and the mainland we were leaving astern stretched the amazing mazes of
the sands, alternately bared and covered by the ebb and flow of the
tides. Two-thirds of the area, according to "Carruthers," were dry at
low water, when the "remaining third becomes a system of lagoons whose
distribution is controlled by the natural drift of the North Sea as it
forces its way through the intervals between the islands. Each of these
intervals resembles the bar of a river, and is obstructed by dangerous
banks over which the sea pours at every tide, scooping out a deep pool.
This fans out and ramifies to east and west as the pent-up current
frees itself, encircles the islands, and spreads over the intervening
flats. But the further it penetrates the less scouring force it has,
and as a result no island is girt completely by a low-water channel.
About midway at the back of each of them is a 'watershed,' only covered
for five or six hours out of the twelve. A boat, even of the lightest
draught, navigating behind the islands must choose its moment for
passing these."

"I trust we have 'chosen _our_ moment' carefully," I said to myself
after reading those lines and reflecting what a large part of their time
the _Dulcibella_, _Kormoran_, and all the other craft in the "Riddle"
had spent careened upon sand-spits. To reassure myself, I leaned back
and asked one of the German officers if boats didn't run aground pretty
often on that run. "Oh, yes, most often," was the reply, "but only at
low water or when the fog is very thick. With this much water, and when
we can see as far as we can now"--there was about a quarter of a mile of
visibility--"there is no danger. Our difficulty will come when we try to
return this evening on the low water."

It may have been my imagination, but I thought he put a shade more
accent on that _try_ than a real optimist would have done under similar
circumstances. But then, I told myself, it was hardly a time when one
could expect a German officer to be optimistic about anything.

Heading out through the well-marked channel of the _Buse Tief_, between
the sands of the _Itzendorf Plate_ to port and _Hohe Riff_ to starboard,
twenty minutes found the launch in the opener waters off the west end of
Norderney where, with its light draught, it had no longer to thread the
winding of the buoyed fairway. Standing on northward until the red roofs
and white walls of the town sharpened into ghostly relief on the curtain
of the mist, course was altered five or six points to starboard, and we
skirted a broad stretch of sandy beach, from the upper end of which the
even slopes of concreted "runs" were visible, leading back to where,
dimly outlined in their darker opacity, a long row of great hangars
loomed fantastically beyond the dunes. Doubling a sharp spit, the launch
nosed in and brought up alongside the landing of a slip notched out of
the side of the little natural harbour.

The Commander of the station--a small man, but wiry and exceedingly
well set up--met us as we stepped off the launch. Then, and throughout
the visit, his quiet dignity of manner and ready (but not too ready)
courtesy struck a welcome mean between the incongruous blends of
sullenness and subserviency we had encountered in meeting the officers
in the German warships. He saluted each member of the party as he
landed, but tactfully refrained from offering his hand to any but
the attached German officers. It was this attitude on the part of
the Commander, together with the uniformly courteous but uneffusive
demeanour of the other officers with whom we were thrown in contact,
that made the visit to Norderney perhaps the pleasantest of all the many
inspections carried out in Germany.

Walking inland along a brick-paved road, we passed a large canteen or
recreation club (with a crowd of curious but quite respectful men lined
up along the verandah railings to watch us go by) before turning in to
a fine new brick-and-tile building which appeared to be the officers'
Casino. Leaving our overcoats in the reception room, we joined the dozen
or more officers awaiting us at the entrance and fared on by what had
once been flower-bordered walks to the hangars. As we came out upon
the "tarmac"--here, as with all German seaplane and airship stations,
the runs for the machines in front of the hangars are paved with
concrete instead of the tarred macadam which is used so extensively in
England and France--the men of the station were seen to be drawn up by
companies, as for a review. Each company stood smartly to attention at
the order of its officers as the party came abreast of it, and we--both
Allied and German officers--saluted in return. As we passed on, each
company in turn broke rank and quietly dispersed to barracks, their
officers following on to join the party in the furtherest hangar, where
the inspection was to begin. The discipline appeared to be faultless,
and it was soon evident that the men and their officers had arrived at
some sort of a "working understanding" to tide them over the period of
inspection, if not longer.

The two representatives of the Workmen and Soldiers who had accompanied
our party from Wilhelmshaven were allowed to be present during the
inspection, and with them two other "white-banders" who appeared to have
been elected to represent the men of the station. All other men had been
cleared out of the sheds in conformity with the stipulations of the
armistice. Some unauthorized individual--apparently a mechanic--who,
halfway through the inspection, was noticed following the party, was
summarily ordered out by the Commander. He obeyed somewhat sullenly, but
though we subsequently saw him in gesticulative confab with some of his
mates on the outside, he did not venture again into any of the hangars.
That was the nearest approach to insubordination we saw in Norderney.

The officers of the station--now that we saw them, a score or more in
number, all together--were a fine, business-like looking lot. All of
them wore some kind of a decoration, most of them several, and among
these were two or three of the highly-prized Orders "_Pour le Mérite_."
As Norderney was the "star" seaplane station, that body of keen-eyed,
square-jawed young flying officers undoubtedly included the cleverest
naval pilots at Germany's disposal. What their many decorations had been
given for there was, of course, no way of learning; nor did we find out
whether the presence of so many of them at the inspection was voluntary
or by order. Though, like their Commander, quiet and reserved, they were
invariably courteous and willing in doing anything to facilitate the
tedious progress of inspection.

There was an amusing little incident which occurred during the course
of inspection in connection with a very smart young German officer,
who, from the moment I first saw him at the door of the Casino, I kept
telling myself I had encountered somewhere before. For half an hour
or more--while checking the names and numbers of the machines in my
notebook as inspection was completed--my mind was running back through
one German colony or foreign settlement after another, trying to find
the scene into which that florid face (with its warm, wide-set eyes and
its full, sensual mouth) fitted. Dar-es-Salaam, Windhoek, Tsingtau, Yap,
Apia, Herbertshöhe--I scurried back through them all without uncovering
a clue. Where else had I met Germans? The southern "panhandle" of
Brazil, the south of Chile, Bagdad-- That was the first name to awaken a
sense of "nearness." "Bagdad, Bagdad Railway, Assur, Mosul," I rambled
on, and just as I began to recall that I had encountered Germans
scattered all along the caravan route from the Tigris to Syria, the
object of my interest turned up those soulful eyes of his to look at
one of the American officers clambering into the "house" of the "Giant"
monoplane seaboat under inspection at the moment--and I had him.

"Aleppo! 'Du Bist Wie Eine Blume!'" I chortled exultantly, my mind going
back to a night in June, 1912, when, the day after my arrival from the
desert, the American Consul had taken me to a party at the Austrian
Consulate in honour of some one or other who was about to depart for
home--wherever that was. Young Herr X---- (I even recalled the name now)
and his brother, both on the engineering staff of the Bagdad Railway,
were among the guests, the former very smitten with a sloe-eyed sylph
of a Greek Levantine, whose mother (so a friendly gossip told me)
had been a dancer in a café chantant in Beirut before she married the
Smyrna hairdresser who afterwards made a fortune buying licorice root
from the Arabs. The girl (there was no denying the lissome grace of
her serpentine slenderness) was sipping her pink rose-leaf sherbet in
a balcony above the open court when Herr X---- had been asked to sing
along towards midnight, and the fervid passion of his upturned glances
as he sung "Du Bist Wie Eine Blume" as an encore to "Ich Liebe Dich"
had made enough of an impression on my mind to need no more than the
reminder vouchsafed me to recall it.

Evidently (perhaps because I had not furnished him with a similar
reason) Herr Romeo did not trace any connection between my present
well-rounded, "sea-faring" figure and the sun-dried, fever-wrecked
anatomy I had dragged into Aleppo in 1912, for I noted that his eyes
had passed over me impersonally twice or thrice without a flicker of
recognition. The explosiveness of my exultant chortle, however, must
have assailed the ear of the German officer standing a couple of paces
in front of me, for he turned round quickly and asked if I had spoken to
him.

"No--er--not exactly," I stammered, adding, at the promptings of a
sudden reckless impulse, "but I would like to ask if you knew when
Lieutenant X---- over there left the Bagdad Railway for the flying
service?"

"He was at the head office in Frankfurt when the war began, and joined
shortly afterwards," the young officer replied promptly, stepping back
beside me. Then, as the somewhat surprising nature of the query burst
upon him, a look of astonishment flushed his face and a pucker of
suspicion drew his bushy brows together in a perturbed frown. "But may I
ask--" he began.

"And his brother who was with him in Aleppo--the one with the scar on
his cheek and the top of one ear sliced off," I pressed; "where is he?"

"Died of fever in Nishbin," again came the prompt answer. "But"
(blurting it out quickly) "how do you know about them?"

Being human, and therefore weak, it was not in me to enlighten him with
the truth, and to add that I was merely a second-class Yankee hack
writer, temporarily togged out in an R.N.V.R. uniform to regularize
my position of "Keeper of the Records" of the Allied Naval Armistice
Commission. No, I couldn't do that. Indeed, everything considered, I am
inclined to think that I rendered a better service to the Allied cause
when I squared my shoulders importantly and delivered myself oracularly
of, "It is our business to know" (impressive pause) "all."

My reward was worthy of the effort. "Ach, it is but true," sighed the
young officer resignedly. "The English Intelligence is wonderful, as we
have too often found out."

"It is not bad," I admitted modestly, as I strolled over to make a note
of the fact that the machine-gun mounting of one of the _Frederichafens_
had not been removed.

I could see that my young friend was bursting to impart to Lieutenant
X---- the fact that he was a "marked man," but it was just as well that
no opportunity offered in the course of the inspection. That the ominous
news had been broken at luncheon, however, I felt certain from the fact
that when, missing X---- from the group of officers who saluted us from
the doorway of the Casino on our departure, I cast a furtive glance at
the upper windows, it surprised him in the act of withdrawing behind
one of the lace curtains. I only hope he has nothing on his conscience
in the way of hospital bombings and the like. If he has, it can hardly
have failed to occur to him that his name is inscribed on the Allies'
"black-list," and that he will have to stand trial in due course.

It's a strange thing, this cropping up of half-remembered faces in new
surroundings. The very next day, in the course of the visit to the
Zeppelin station at Nordholz--but I will not anticipate.

Under the terms of the armistice the Germans agreed to render all naval
seaplanes unfit for use by removing their propellers, machine-guns, and
bomb-dropping equipment, and dismantling their wireless and ignition
systems. To see that this was carried out on a single machine was not
much of a task, but multiplied by the several scores in such a station
as Norderney, it became a formidable labour. To equalize the physical
work, the sub-commission for seaplane stations arranged that the British
and American officers included in it should take turn-and-turn about in
active inspection and checking the result of the latter with the lists
furnished in advance by the Germans. At Norderney the "active service"
side of the program fell to the lot of the two American officers to
carry out. The swift pace they set at the outset slowed down materially
toward the finish, and it was a pair of very weary officers that dropped
limply from the last two _Albatrosses_ and sat down upon a pontoon to
recover their breath. It was, I believe, Lieut.-Commander L---- who,
ruefully rubbing down a cramp which persisted in knotting his left
calf, declared that he had just computed that his combined clamberings
in the course of the inspection were equal to ascending and descending a
mountain half a mile high.

Practically all of the machines at Norderney were of the tried and
proven types--_Brandenburgs_, _Albatrosses_, _Frederichafens_, _Gothas_,
etc.--already well-known to the Allies. (It was not until the great
experimental station at Warnemünde, in the Baltic, was visited a
fortnight later that specimens of the latest types were revealed.) The
Allied experts of the party were greatly impressed with the excellence
of construction of all of the machines, none of them appearing to have
suffered in the least as a consequence of a shortage of materials. The
steel pontoons in particular--a branch of construction to which the
Germans had given much attention, and with notable success--came in for
especially favourable comment. (The Commander of the station, by the
way, showed us one of these pontoons which he had had fitted with an
engine and propeller and used in duck-shooting.) The general verdict
seemed to be that the Germans had little to learn from any one in the
building of seaplanes, and that this was principally due to the fact
that they had concentrated upon it for oversea work, where the British
had been going in more and more for swift "carrier" ships launching
aeroplanes. It was by aeroplanes launched from the "carrier" _Furious_
that the great Zeppelin station at Tondern was practically destroyed
last summer, and there is no doubt that this kind of a combination can
accomplish far more effective work--providing, of course, that the power
using it has command of the sea--than anything that can be done by
seaplanes. It was the fact that Germany did _not_ have control of the
sea, rather than any lack of ingenuity or initiative, that pinned her to
the seaplane, and, under the circumstances, it has to be admitted that
she made very creditable use of the latter.

The one new type of machine at Norderney (although the existence of it
had been known to the Allies for some time) was the "giant" monoplane
seaboat, quite the most remarkable machine of the kind in the world at
the present time. Though its span of something like 120 feet is less
than that of a number of great aeroplanes already in use, its huge
breadth of wing gave it a plane area of enormous size. The boat itself
was as large--and apparently as seaworthy--as a good-sized steam launch,
and so roomy that one could almost stand erect inside of it. It quite
dwarfed anything of the kind I had ever seen before. Nor was the boat,
spacious as it was, the only closed-in space. Twenty feet or more above
the deck of it, between the wings, was a large "box" containing, among
other things, a very elaborately equipped _sound-proof_ wireless room.
The technical instruments of control and navigation--especially the very
compact "Gyro" compasses--stirred the Allied experts to an admiration
they found difficult to restrain.

One of the German officers who had accompanied us from Wilhelmshaven
told me something of the history of this greatest of monoplanes.
"This flying boat," he said, while we waited for the somewhat lengthy
inspection to be completed, "was the last great gift that Count
Zeppelin" (he spoke the name with an awe that was almost adoration)
"gave to his country before he died. He was terribly disappointed by
the failure of the Zeppelin airship as an instrument for bombing,
and the last months of his life were spent in designing something to
take its place. He realized that the size of the mark the airship
offered to the constantly improving anti-aircraft artillery, together
with the invention of the explosive bullet and the increasing speed
and climbing power of aeroplanes, put an end for ever to the use of
Zeppelins where they would be exposed to attack. He set about to design
a heavier-than-air machine that would be powerful enough to carry a
really great weight of bombs, and the 'Giant' you see here is the result.

"As Count Zeppelin did not believe that it would ever be possible to
land a machine of this weight and size on the earth, he made it a flying
boat. But it was not intended for flights over water at all in the
first place--that was to be simply for rising from and landing in. It
was to be kept at one of our seaplane stations on the Belgian coast, as
near as possible to the Front, and from here it was to go for bombing
flights behind the enemy lines. But before it was completed experience
had proved that it was quite practicable to land big machines on the
earth, and so the 'Giant' found itself superseded as a bomber. It was
then that it was brought to the attention of the Naval Flying Service,
and we, recognizing in it the possibilities of an ideal machine for
long-distance reconnaissance, took it over and completed it. Now,
although a few changes have been made in the direction of making it more
of a 'sea' machine, it does not differ greatly from the original designs
of Count Zeppelin."

As to how the machine had turned out in practice he was, naturally,
rather non-committal. The monoplane, he thought, had the advantage over
a biplane for sea use that its wings were much higher above the water,
and therefore much less likely to get smashed up by heavy waves. He
admitted that this machine had proved extremely difficult to fly--or
rather to land--and that it had been employed exclusively for "school"
purposes, for the training of pilots to fly the others of the same type
that had been building. Now that the war was over, he had some doubts as
to whether these would ever be completed. "We are having to modify so
many of our plans, you see," he remarked naïvely.

On the fuselage of several of the machines there were evidences that
signs or marks had been scratched out and painted over, and I took it
that the words or pictures so recently obliterated had probably been of
a character calculated to be offensive to the visiting Allied officers.
One little thing had been overlooked, however, or else left because it
was in a corner somewhat removed from the ebb and flow of the tide of
inspection. I discovered it while passing along to the machine shops in
the rear of one of the hangars, and later contrived to manoeuvre myself
back to it for a confirmatory survey. It was nothing more or less than a
map of the United States which some angry pilot had thoroughly _strafed_
by stabbing with a penknife blade. I was not able to study it long
enough to be sure just what the method of the madness was, but--from the
fact that the environs of New York, Pittsburg, Philadelphia and Detroit
had been literally pecked to pieces--it seemed possible that it might
have been an attack on the industrial centres--perhaps because they were
turning out so much munitions for the Allies.

There were two other maps tacked up on the same wall. One was of Africa,
with the ex-German colonies coloured red, with lighter shaded areas
overflowing from them on to British, Belgian, French, and Portuguese
possessions. This may have been (I have since thought) a copy of the
famous map of "Africa in 1920," issued in Germany early in the war,
but I had no time to puzzle out the considerable amount of explanatory
lettering on it. So far as I could see, this map was unmarked, not even
a black mourning border having been added.

The third map was of Asia, and a long, winding and apparently rather
carefully made cut running from the north-west corner toward the centre
completely defeated me to account for. The fact that it ran through Asia
Minor, Northern Syria, and down into Mesopotamia seemed to point to some
connection with the Bagdad Railway--perhaps a _strafe_ at an enterprise
which, first and last, had deflected uselessly so huge an amount of
German money and material.

The inspection over and the terms of the armistice having been found
most explicitly carried out, we returned to the reception room of the
Casino for lunch. Although the Commander protested that all arrangements
had been made for serving us with _mittagessen_, our senior officer,
acting under orders, replied that we had brought our own food and that
this, with a pitcher of water, would be quite sufficient. The water
was sent, and with it two beautiful long, slender bottles of _Hock_
which--as they were never opened--only served to accentuate the flatness
of the former.

We heard the officers of the station trooping up the stairs as we
unrolled our sandwiches, and just as we were pulling up around the table
some one threw open a piano in the room above our heads and struck
three ringing chords. "Bang!"--interval--"Bang!"--interval--"Bang!"
they crashed one after the other, and the throb of them set the windows
rattling and the pictures (paintings of the station's fallen pilots)
swaying on the wall.

"Prelude in G flat," breathed Major N---- tensely, as he waited with eye
alight and ear acock for the next notes. "My word, the chap's a master!"

But the next chord was never struck. Instead, there was a gruff order,
the scrape of feet on the floor, and the slam of a closed piano,
followed by the confused rumble of several angry voices speaking at the
same time. Then silence.

"Looks like the majority of our hosts don't think 'Inspection Day's'
quite the proper occasion for tinkling Rachmaninoff on the ivories,"
observed Lieutenant-Commander L----, U.S.N., after which he and Major
N---- began discussing plans for educating the popular taste for "good
music" and the rest of us fell to on our sandwiches.

The fog--that all-pervading East Frisian fog--which had been thickening
steadily during the inspection, settled down in a solid bank while we
sat at lunch. With a scant dozen yards of visibility, the Commander
rated the prospects of crossing to the mainland so unfavourable that he
suggested our remaining for the night at one of the Norderney hotels
still open, and going over to Borkum (which we were planning to reach by
destroyer) the next morning by launch. It was the difficulty in securing
a prompt confirmation of what would have been a time-saving change of
schedule which led Captain H---- to reject the plan and decide in favour
of making an attempt to reach Norddeich in, and in spite of, the fog.
The Commander shook his head dubiously. "My men who know the passage
best have left the station," he said; "but I will do the best I can for
you, and perhaps you will have luck." He saw us off at the landing with
the same quiet courtesy with which he had received us. He was a very
likable chap, that Commander; perhaps the one individual with whom we
were thrown into intimate contact in the course of the whole visit to
whom one would have thought of applying that term.

Noticing that the launch in which we were backing away from the landing
was at least double the size of the one in which we had crossed, I asked
one of the German officers if the greater draught of it was not likely
to increase our chances of running aground.

"Of course," he replied; "but the larger cabin will also be much more
comfortable if we have to wait for the next tide to get off."

As the launch swung slowly round in the mud-and-sand stained welter of
reversed screws, I bethought me of the "Riddle" again, and fished it
forth from my pocket. It was disappointing to leave without having had
a glimpse of the town where "Dollmann" and his "rose-brown-cheeked"
daughter Clara had lived, but the fog closed us round in a grey-walled
cylinder scarcely more in diameter than the launch was long. But we were
right on the course, I reflected, of the dinghy which "Davies" piloted
with such consummate skill through just such a fog ("five yards or
so was the radius of our vision," wrote "Carruthers") to Memmert to
spy on the conference at the salvage plant on that desolate sand-spit.
I turned up the chapter headed "Blindfold to Memmert," and read how,
sounding with a notched boathook in the shallows that masterly young
sailor had felt his way across the _Buse Tief_ to the eastern outlet of
the _Memmert Balje_, the only channel deep enough to carry the dinghy
through the half-bared sandbanks between Juist and the mainland. Our
own problem, it seemed to me, was a very similar one to that which
confronted "Davies," only, in our case, it was the entrance of the
channel where the _Buse Tief_ narrowed between the _Hohes Riff_ and the
_Itzendorf Plate_ that had to be located. Failing that, we were destined
to roost till the next tide on a sandbank, and that meant we were out
for all night, as there would be no chance of keeping to a channel,
however well marked, in both fog and darkness.

Ten minutes went by--fifteen--twenty--with no sign of the buoy which
marked the opening we were trying to strike. Now the engines were eased
down to quarter-speed, and she lost way just in time to back off from
a shining _glacis_ of steel-grey sand that came creeping out of the
fog. For the next ten minutes, with bare steerage way on, she nosed
cautiously this way and that, like a man groping for a doorway in the
dark. Then a hail from the lookout on the bow was echoed by exclamations
of relief from the German officers. "Here is the outer buoy," one of
them called across to us reassuringly; "the rest of the way is well
marked and easy to follow. We will soon be at Norddeich."

Presently a fresh buoy appeared as we nosed on shoreward, then a
second, and then a third, continuing the line of the first two. Speed
was increased to "half," and the intervals of picking up the marks
correspondingly cut down. Confident that there was nothing more to worry
about, I pulled out "The Riddle" again, for I had just recalled that it
was about halfway to Norddeich, in the _Buse Tief_, that "Carruthers"
had brought off his crowning exploit, the running aground of the tug
and "invasion" lighter--with Von Brunning, Boehme, and the mysterious
"cloaked passenger"--as they neared the end of the successful night
trial trip in the North Sea. Substituting himself for the man at the
wheel by a ruse, he had edged the tug over to starboard and was just
thinking "What the Dickens'll happen to her?" when the end came; "a
_euthanasia_ so mild and gradual (for the sands are fringed with mud)
that the disaster was on us before I was aware of it. There was just
the tiniest premonitory shuddering as our keel clove the buttery medium,
a cascade of ripples from either beam, and the wheel jammed to rigidity
in my hands as the tug nestled up to her final resting-place."

And very like that it was with us. It was a guttural oath from somewhere
forward rather than any perceptible jar that told me the launch had
struck, and it was not till after the screw had been churning sand
for half a minute that there was any perceptible heel. It had come
about through one of the buoys being missing and the next in line out
of place, one of the Germans reckoned; but whatever the cause, there
we were--stuck fast. Or, at least, we would have been with any less
resourceful and energetic a crew. If their very lives had depended on
it, those four or five German seamen could not have worked harder, nor
to better purpose, to get that launch free. At the end of a quarter of
an hour their indefatigable efforts were rewarded, and a half hour later
we were settling ourselves in the warm compartment of our waiting train.
The Hun has no proper sense of humour. Reverse the _rôles_, and any
British bluejackets I have ever known would have run a German Armistice
Commission on to the first sandbank that hove in sight, and damned the
consequences.



V

NORDHOLZ, THE DEN OF THE ZEPPELINS


I have written in a previous chapter of the great contrast observed
between the _morale_ of the men at Norderney, and the other seaplane
stations visited by parties from the Allied Naval Commission, and that
of those in the remaining German warships, accounting for the difference
by the fact that the former had been kept busier than the latter, and
that they had not suffered the shame of the "Great Surrender" which has
cast a black, unlifting shadow upon the dregs of the High Sea Fleet.
Whether the airships were kept as busy as the seaplanes right up to the
end it would be difficult to say, but, whatever may be the reason for
it, we found the _morale_ of the great Zeppelin stations suffered very
little if at all in comparison with that of the working bases of the
naval heavier-than-air machines.

For all the barbarity of many of their raids, there was splendid stuff
in the officers and crews of the Zeppelins which engaged in the campaign
of "frightfulness" against England, and it is idle to deny it. In a
better cause, or even in worthier work for an indifferent cause, the
skill and courage repeatedly displayed would have been epic. Considering
what these airships faced on every one of their later raids--what their
commanders and crews must have known were the odds against them after
the night when the destruction of the first Zeppelin over Cuffley, in
September, 1916, proved that the British had effectually solved the
problem of igniting the hydrogen of the inner ballonettes--one cannot
but conclude that the _morale_ of the whole personnel must have been
very high during even this trying period. If it had not been high, there
would undoubtedly have been mutinies at the airship stations, such as
are known to have occurred on so many occasions among the submarine
crews. Even in the light of present knowledge, there is nothing to
indicate that there had ever been serious trouble in getting Zeppelin
crews for the most hazardous of raids. So far as could be gathered from
our visits to the great airship stations of the North Sea littoral,
this very excellent _morale_ prevailed to the last; indeed, practically
everything seen indicated that it still prevails.

Of the several German naval airship stations visited by parties from
the Allied Commission, the most important were Althorn, Nordholz, and
Tondern. The interest in the latter was largely sentimental, due to
the fact that it was practically wiped out last summer as the result of
a bombing raid by aeroplanes launched from the _Furious_. It was known
that little had been done to rehabilitate it as a service station since
that time, and the Commission's airship experts' desire to visit what
was left of the sheds was actuated by a wish to see what damage had been
done rather than by any feeling that the station really counted any
longer as a base of Germany's naval air service. Our visit to the ruins
of Tondern, and what we learned there of the way it was destroyed, is a
story by itself, and I will tell it in a separate chapter.

Germany had very ambitious plans for the development of the Althorn
station, and it is probable at one time that it was intended that it
should supersede even the mighty Nordholz as the premier home of naval
Zeppelins. If such were really the intention, however, there is no doubt
that it was effectually put an end to by a great fire and explosion
which occurred there about the middle of last year, the material
destruction from which--in sheds and Zeppelins--was vastly greater even
than that from the British raid on Tondern. The Germans speak of this
disaster with a good deal of bitterness, usually alluding to the cause
as "mysterious," but rather giving the impression that they believe it
to have been the work of "Allied agents." If this is true, the job will
stand as a fair offset against any single piece of work of the same
character that German agents perpetrated in France, Britain, or America.
Only the blowing up of the great Russian national arsenal in the second
year of the war is comparable to it for the amount of material damage
wrought. Althorn remained a station of some importance down to the end
of the war, however, and that the Germans still expected to do important
work from there was indicated by the fact that one of its new sheds
housed the great "L-71," the largest airship in the world at the present
time.

But it was in the great Nordholz station that the airship sub-commission
was principally interested, not only for what it was at the
moment--incomparably the greatest and most modern of German Zeppelin
aerodromes--but also for what had been accomplished from there in the
past, and even for what might conceivably be done from there in the
future. Nordholz is a name that would have been burned deep into the
memories of South and East Coast Britons had it been known three years
ago, as it is now, that practically all of the Zeppelin raids over
England were launched from there. The popular idea at the time--which
even appears to have persisted with most Londoners down to the
present--was that airship stations had been constructed in Belgium,
and that these alternated with those of Germany in dispatching raiders
across the North Sea to England. A single glimpse of such a station as
Nordholz is enough to show that the huge amount of labour and expense
involved in building even a comparatively temporary aerodrome fit for
regular Zeppelin work would have been fatal to the idea of establishing
such installations in Belgium, or anywhere else where Germany did not
feel certain of remaining in fairly permanent control. The station at
Jamboli, in Bulgaria, for instance, is known to have been able only to
dispose of one or two Zeppelins, and considerable intervals between
flights were imperative for keeping them in trim. It would never have
been equal to the strain of steady raiding.

There were other German airship stations within cruising distance of
England, but Nordholz was so much the best equipped, especially in
the first years of the war when Zeppelin raiding was the most active,
that the most of the work, and by long odds the most effective of it,
was done from there. There were grim tales to be told by that band of
hard-eyed, straight-mouthed, bull-necked pilots--all that survived
some scores of raids over England and some hundreds of reconnaissance
flights over the North Sea--who received and conducted round the
Naval Commission party, though, unfortunately, we did not meet upon a
footing that made it possible more than to listen to the account of an
occasional incident suggested by something we were seeing at the moment.

The route which our party traversed from Wilhelmshaven to the Nordholz
airship station--the latter lies six or eight miles south of the Elbe
estuary in the vicinity of Cuxhaven--was a different one from any
followed on our previous visits, all of which had taken us more to the
south or east. It was through the same low-lying, dyked-in country,
however, where the water difficulty, unlike most other parts of the
world, was one of drainage rather than of irrigation. Great Dutch
windmills turned ponderously under the impulse of the light sea-breeze,
as they pumped the water off the flooded land. Cultivation, as in the
region traversed to the south, was at a standstill, but overflowing
barns--great capacious structures they were, with brick walls and lofty
thatched roofs--proved that the harvest had been a generous one.

Instead of routing our two-car special over the all-rail route _viâ_
Bremen, distance and time were saved by leaving it at a small terminus
opposite Bremerhaven, crossing to the latter by tug, and proceeding
north in more or less direct line to our destination. Little time was
lost in getting from one train to the other. The tug, which had been
held in readiness for our arrival, cast off as soon as the last of
the party had clambered over its side, and the short run across the
grey-green tide of the estuary was made in less than a quarter of an
hour. Four powerful army cars--far better machines, these, than the
dirigible junk heaps we had been compelled to use at Wilhelmshaven--were
waiting beside the slip, and another ten minutes of what struck me as
very fast and reckless driving, considering it was through the main
streets of a good-sized city, brought us to the station and another
two-car special. Both going and returning, it was the best "clicking"
lot of connections any of the parties made in the course of the whole
visit, showing illuminatingly what our "hosts" could do in that line
when they were minded to.

Swift as was our passage through the streets of Bremerhaven, there was
still opportunity to observe many evidences of the vigorous growth it
had made the decade preceding the outbreak of the war, and of the plans
that had been made in expectation of a continuation of that growth.
Blocks and blocks of imposing new buildings--now but half-tenanted--and
the nuclei of what had been budding suburbs were more suggestive of
the appearance of a Western American mushroom metropolis after the
collapse of a boom than a town of Europe. The railway station--a fine
example of Germany's so-called "New Art" architecture--in its spacious
waiting-rooms, broad subways, and commodious train sheds looked capable
of serving the city of half a million or so which it had confidently
been expected the empire's second port would become at the end of
another few years. As things have turned out, Bremerhaven will at least
have the consolation of knowing that it is not likely to be troubled
with "station crushes" for some decades to come.

The astonishingly well-dressed and orderly crowd of a thousand or more
waiting outside the portal of the station in expectation of the arrival
of a train-load of returning soldiers made no unfriendly demonstration
of any character. On the contrary, indeed, as at Wilhelmshaven, a number
of children waved their hands as our cars drove up, and a goodly number
of men solemnly bared their heads as we filed past. The special which
awaited us at a platform reached after walking through a long vaulted
subway running beneath the tracks consisted, like the one we had left
on the other side of the river, of an engine and two cars. The rolling
stock of this one was in better shape than that of the other, however,
and with a better maintained road-bed to run over, the last leg of our
journey was covered at an average speed of over thirty miles an hour,
quite the fastest we travelled by train anywhere in Germany.

For the most of the way the line continued running through mile after
mile of water-logged, sea-level areas crossed by innumerable drainage
canals and bricked roadways gridironing possible inundation areas with
their raised embankments. At the end of an hour, however, the patches
of standing water disappeared, and presently the bulk of the great
sheds of Nordholz began to notch the northern skyline, where they stood
crowning the crest of the first rising ground in the littoral between
the Dutch frontier and the Elbe. With only a minute or two of delay in
the Nordholz yards, the train was switched to the airship station's own
spur, and at the end of another mile had pulled up on a siding directly
opposite the main entrance.

The commander of the station, with two or three other officers, was
waiting to receive us as we stepped out on the ground. Ranged up
alongside this row of heel-clicking, frock-coated, be-medalled and
be-sworded Zeppelin officers was an ancient individual of a type
which seemed to recall the fatherly old Jehus of the piping days
of Oberammergau. Every time the officers saluted, he raised his
hat, bowed low from the waist, and exclaimed, "Good morning to you,
gentlemen." When the last of us had been thus greeted, he called out a
comprehensive, "This way to the carriages, gentlemen," and trotted off
ahead, bell-wether fashion, through the gate.

Here we found waiting four small brakes and a diminutive automobile, the
sum total of the station's resources in rapid transit, according to the
commander. Getting into the motor to precede us as pilot, he asked the
party to dispose itself as best it could in the horse-drawn vehicles.
Then, with old "Jehu" holding the reins of the first vehicle and men in
air-service uniform--utter strangers to horses they were, too--tooling
the other three, we started off along a well-paved road.

A long row of very attractive red brick-and-tile houses of agreeably
varied design were apparently the homes of married officers. Our way led
past only the first five or six of them, but a stirring of lace curtains
in every one of these told that we were running the gauntlet of hostile
glances all the way. One glowering Frau--though in the semi-negligée
of a "Made-in-Germany" _kimono_ of pale mauve, her Brunhildian brow
was crowned with a "permanently Marcelled" _coiffure_ of the kind one
sees in hairdressers' windows--disdained all cover, and so stepped out
upon her veranda just in time to see the elder of her blonde-braided
offspring in the act of waving a Teddy Bear--or it may have been a
woolly lamb or a dachshund--at the tail of the procession of invading
_Engländers_. She was swooping--a mauve-tailed comet with a Gorgon
head--on the luckless "fraternisatress" as my brake turned a corner and
the loom of a block of barracks shut "The Row" from sight, but a series
of shrill squeals, piercing through the raucous grind of steel tyres
on asphalt pavement, told that punishment swift and terrible was being
meted out.

"More activity there than I saw in all of Bremerhaven," laconically
observed the Yankee Ensign sitting next me. "Who said the German woman
was lacking in temperament?"

Driving through the barracks area--where all the men in sight invariably
saluted or stood at attention as we passed--and down an avenue between
small but thickly set pines, the road debouched into the open, and
for the first time we saw all the sheds of the great station at
comparatively close range. Then we were in a position to understand with
what care the site had been chosen and laid out. Occupying the only
rising ground near the coast south of the Kiel Canal, it is quite free
from the constant inundations which threaten the alluvial plain along
the sea. The sheds are visible from a great distance, but it is only
when one draws near them that their truly gigantic size becomes evident.
Of modern buildings of utility, such as factories and exhibition
structures, I do not recall one that is so impressive as these in sheer
immensity. Yet the proportions of the sheds are so good that constant
comparison with some familiar object of known size, such as a man, alone
puts them in their proper perspective.

The sheds are built in pairs, standing side by side, and on a plan which
has brought each pair on the circumference of a circle two kilometres
in diameter. The chord of the arc drawn from one pair of sheds to the
next in sequence is a kilometre in length, while the same distance
separates each pair on the circumference from the huge revolving shed
in the centre of the circle. The whole plan has something of the mystic
symmetry of an ancient temple of the sun. Of the half-dozen pairs of
sheds necessary to complete the circle, four had been constructed and
were in use. Each shed was built to house two airships, or four for the
pair. This gave a capacity of sixteen Zeppelins for the four pairs of
sheds, while the two housed in the revolving shed in the centre brought
the total capacity of the station up to eighteen--a larger number, I
believe, than were ever over England at one time.

Scarcely less impressive than the immensity of the sheds and the broad
conception of the general plan of the station was the solidity of
construction. Everything, from the quarters of the men and the officers
to the hangars themselves, seemed built for all time, and to play its
part in the fulfilment of some far-reaching plan. Costly and scarce as
asphalt must have been in Germany, the many miles of roads connecting
the various sheds were laid deep with it, and, as I had a chance to see
where repairs were going on, on a heavy base of concrete. The sheds
were steel-framed, concrete-floored, and with pressed asbestos sheet
figuring extensively in their sides. All the daylight admitted (as we
saw presently) filtered through great panes of yellow glass in the roof,
shutting out the ultra-violet rays of the sun, which had been found to
cause airship fabric to deteriorate rapidly.

The barracks of the men were of brick and concrete, and were built with
no less regard for appearance than utility. So, too, the officers'
quarters and the Casino, and the large and comfortable-looking houses
for married officers I have already mentioned. All had been built very
recently, many in the by no means uneffective "New Art" style, to the
simple solidity of which the Germans seemed to have turned in reaction
from the Gothic. Beyond all doubt Germany was planning years ahead with
Nordholz, both as to war and peace service. They were quite frank in
speaking of the ambitions they still have in respect of the latter, and
(from casual remarks dropped once or twice by officers) I should be very
much surprised if their plans for developing the Zeppelin as a super-war
machine have been entirely shelved.

The road along which we drove to reach the first pair of sheds to be
visited ran through extensive plantations of scraggly screw-pine,
which appear to have been set--before the site was chosen for an
air station--for the purpose of binding together the loose soil and
preventing its shifting in the heavy winds. Wherever the trees had
encroached too closely upon the hangars, the plantations had been
burned off. Over one considerable area the accumulations of ash in the
depressions showed the destruction to have been comparatively recent,
and this I learned had been burned over, in the panic which followed the
blowing up of the Tondern sheds by British bombing machines last summer,
in order to minimize the risk from the raid which Nordholz itself never
ceased to expect right down to the day of the armistice.

The staggering size of the great sheds became more and more impressive
as we drew nearer, and when the procession finally turned and went
clattering down the roadway between one of the pairs, the towering walls
to left and right blotted out the sky like the cliffs of a rocky cañon.
Halfway through this great defile the officers of the station were
waiting to receive and conduct us round. A hard, fit, capable-looking
lot of chaps they were. Every one of them had at least one decoration,
most of them many, and among these were two or three Orders _Pour de
Mérite_, the German V.C. One at least of them--the great long-distance
pilot, Von Butlar--was famous internationally, and few among the senior
of them (as I was assured shortly) but had been over England more than
once. They were the best of Germany's surviving Zeppelin pilots, and
one was interested to compare the type with that of the pick of her
sea-pilots as we had seen them at Norderney.

Running my eye round their faces as the mingled parties began moving
slowly toward the side door of the first shed to be inspected, I
recognized at once in these Zeppelin officers the same hard, cold,
steady eyes, the same aggressive jaw, and the same wide, thin-lipped
mouth that had predominated right through the officers we had met at
Norderney. These, I should say, are characteristic of the great majority
of the outstanding men of both of Germany's air services. The steady
eye and the firm jaw are, indeed, characteristic of most successful
flying men, but it is the "hardness," not to say cruelty, of the mouth
which differentiates the German from the high-spirited, devil-may-care
air-warrior of England and America.

These Zeppelin pilots seemed to me to run nearer to the German naval
officer type than did the seaplane officers. The latter were nearly
always slender of body, wiry and light of foot, where (though there were
several exceptions, including the great Von Butlar) the former were
mainly of generous girth, with the typical German bull neck corrugating
into rolls of fat above the backs of their collars. A Major of the
R.A.F., who had been walking at my side and doing a bit of "sizing up"
on his own account, put the difference rather well when he said, as we
waited our turn to pass in through the small side door of the great
grey wall of the shed: "If I was taking temporary refuge in a hospital,
convent, or orphan asylum during a German air raid, I'd feel a lot
better about it if I knew that it was some of those seaplane chaps
flying overhead rather than some of this batch. That thick-set one
there, with the cast in his eye and the corded neck, has a face that
wouldn't need much make-up for the Hun villain in a Lyceum melodrama.
Yes, I'm sure these Zepp. drivers will average a jolly lot 'Hunnier'
than the run of their seaplane men."

Up to that moment my experience of German airships had been limited to
the view of them as slender silver pencils of light gliding swiftly
across the searchlight-slashed skies of London, and three or four
inspections of the tangled masses of aluminium and charred wood which
remained when ill-starred raiders had paid the supreme penalty. I was
indebted to the Zeppelins for a number of thrills, but only two or
three of them (and one was in the form of a bomb which gave me a shower
bath of plate glass in Kingsway) were comparable to the sheer wave of
amazement which swept over me when, having passed from the cold grey
light of the winter morning into the warm golden glow of the interior of
the big shed to which we had come, I looked up and beheld the towering
loom of the starboard side of "L-68," with the sweeping lines of her,
fining to points at both ends, exaggerating monstrously a length which
was sufficiently startling even when expressed in figures. The secret of
the hold which the Zeppelin had for so long on the imagination of the
German people was not hard for me to understand after that. It was easy
to see how they could have been led to believe that it could lay Paris
and London in ruins, and that the very sight of it would in time cause
the enemies of their country to sue for peace. One saw, too, how hard it
must have been for them finally to believe that the Zeppelin had been
mastered by the aeroplane, and that the high hopes they had built upon
it had really crashed with the fallen raiders.

There were two Zeppelins in the shed we had entered--"L-68" and
another monster of practically the same size. The former, with great
irregularly shaped strips of fabric dangling all along its under side,
suggested a gigantic shark in process of being ripped up the belly for
skinning. Being deflated, the weight of its frame was supported by
a number of heavy wooden props evenly distributed along either side
from end to end. Its mate, on the other hand, being full of hydrogen
and practically ready for flight, had to be prevented from rising and
bumping against the yellow skylights by a series of light cables, the
upper ends of which were attached at regular intervals along both
sides of the framework, while below they were made fast to heavy steel
shoes which ran in grooves set in the concrete floor. The latter
contrivance--especially an arrangement for the instant slipping of
the cable--was very cleverly devised and greatly interested the Allied
experts.

There were two or three things the popular mind had credited the modern
Zeppelin with embodying which we did not find in these latest examples
of German airship development. One of these was an "anti-bomb protector"
on the top, something after the style of the steel nets erected over
London banks and theatres for the purpose of detonating dropped
explosives before they penetrated the roof. The fact that attempts to
destroy Zeppelins by bomb had invariably--with the exception of the
one brought down by Warneford in Belgium in 1915--resulted in failure,
was doubtless largely responsible for this belief in the existence of
a protecting net, whereas the reason for those failures is probably to
be found in the fact that only about one bomb in a hundred will find
enough resistance in striking an airship to detonate. At any rate,
there were no indications that either the earlier or later Zeppelins we
saw had ever been protected in this way. Indeed, we did not even see a
single one of the machine-guns, which every one had taken for granted
were mounted on top of all Zeppelins to resist aeroplane attack, though
these, of course, with their platforms, may well have been removed in
the course of the disarmament imposed by the armistice terms.

Nor had these late airships the bright golden colour of those that one
saw over London in the earlier raids. That the refulgent tawniness of
them was not due entirely to the reflected beams of the searchlights was
proved by the uncharred fragments of fabric one had picked up at Cuffley
and Potters' Bar. But the German designers had been giving a good deal
of study to invisibility, since that time, with the result that these
new airships were coloured over all their exposed surfaces a dull slaty
black that would hardly reflect a beam of bright sunshine.

The cars, which were both smaller and lighter than those from the
airships brought down in England, were all underslung, and none of them
was enclosed in the framework, as had often been stated. Even these were
not built entirely of metal, heavy fabric being used to close up all
spaces where strength was not required. The bomb-dropping devices had
been removed, but the numbered "switchboard" in the rearmost car, from
which they could be released, still remained. The cars, free from every
kind of protuberance that could meet the resistance of the air, were
effectively and gracefully "stream-lined." The framework and bodies of
the cars were made of the light but strong "duraluminum" alloy, which
the Germans have spent many years in perfecting for this purpose. A
small fragment of strut which I picked up under "L-68" has proved, on
comparison, considerably lighter in specific gravity than similar pieces
from three of the Zeppelins brought down early in the war. Indeed, in
spite of its admixture of heavier metals for "stiffening," the latest
alloy seems scarcely heavier than aluminum itself.

The inspection of an airship to see that it had been disarmed according
to the provisions of the armistice was, as may be imagined, rather
more of a job than a similar inspection of even a "giant" seaplane. In
a Zeppelin that is more or less the same size as the _Mauretania_ the
distances are magnificent, and while most of the inspection was confined
to the cars, that of the wireless, with a search for possible concealed
machine-gun mountings, involved not a little climbing and clambering.
One's first sight of the interior of a deflated Zeppelin--in an inflated
one the bulging ballonettes obstruct the view considerably--is quite as
impressive in its way as the premier survey of it from the outside. No
'tween decks prospect in the largest ship afloat, cut down as it is by
bulkheads, offers a fifth of the unbroken sweep of vision that one finds
opened before him as he climbs up inside the tail of a modern airship.
Although airy ladders and soaring lengths of framework intervene, they
are no more than lace-work fretting the vast space, and the eye roams
free to where the side-braces of the narrow "walk" seem to run together
in the nose. Only, so consummate the illusion wrought on the eye and
brain by the strange perspective, that "meeting point" seems more like
six hundred miles away than six hundred feet. The effect is more like
looking to the end of the universe than to the end of a Zeppelin.
No illusion ever devised on the stage to give "distance" to a scene
could be half so convincing. All that was "cosmic" in you vibrated in
sympathy, and it took but a shake of the reins of the imagination to
fancy yourself tripping off down that unending "Road to Anywhere" to the
music of the Spheres. You--

"Gee, but ain't that a peach of a little 'Gyro'?" filtering up through
the fabric beneath my feet awakened me to the fact that the inspection
of "L-68" having reached the rearmost car, was near its finish.
Clambering back to earth, I found the party just reassembling to go to
the carriages for the drive to the great revolving shed, which was the
next to be visited.

Its central revolving shed is perhaps the most arresting feature of
the Nordholz station. It is built on the lines of a "twin" engine
turntable, with each track housed over, and with every dimension
multiplied twenty-five or thirty-fold. The turning track is laid in a
bowl-shaped depression about ten feet deep and seven hundred feet in
diameter. The floors of both sheds (which stand side by side, with only
a few feet between) are flush with the level of the ground, so that the
airships they house may be run out and in without a jolt. The turning
mechanism, which is in the rear of the sheds and revolves with them, is
entirely driven by electricity. The shifting of a lever sets the whole
great mass in motion, and stops it to a millimetre of the point desired,
the latter being indicated on a dial by a needle showing the direction
of the wind.

The Germans assured us--and on this point the British and American
airship experts were in full agreement with them--that the revolving
shed is absolutely the ideal installation, as it makes it possible to
launch or house a ship directly _into_ the wind, and so allows them to
be used on days when it would be out of the question to launch them
from, or return them to, an ordinary hangar. The one point against it
seems to be its almost prohibitive cost. This central shed at Nordholz
was designed some time before the war, and was completed a year or so
after its outbreak. The Germans did not tell what it had cost, but
they did say that the latter was so great--both in money and in steel
deflected from other uses--that they had not contemplated the building
of another during the continuance of the war.

Another interesting admission of a Zeppelin officer at Nordholz was to
the effect that one of their greatest difficulties had arisen through
the fact that it had been found practicable and desirable to increase
the size of airships far more rapidly than had been contemplated when
most of the existing sheds were designed. Thus many hangars--even at
Nordholz, where practice was most advanced--had become almost useless
for housing the latest Zeppelins. The proof of this was seen at one
of the older sheds which we visited, where both of the airships it
contained had been cut off fore and aft to reduce their lengths
sufficiently to allow them inside. Thirty or forty feet of the framework
of the bows and sterns of each, stripped of their covering fabric, were
standing in the corners. They assured us that while an airship thus
"bobbed" at both ends was not necessarily considered out of commission,
it would take several days of rush work to get it ready for flight,
and that during most of this time sixty to eighty feet of it--the
combined length of the nose and tail which had to be cut off to bring it
inside--would have to remain sticking out, exposed to the weather.

To any one who, like myself, was not an airship expert, but had been
"among those present" at a number of the earlier raids on London, the
last shed visited was the most interesting of all, for it contained
what is in many respects Germany's most historic Zeppelin, the famous
"L-14." Twenty-four bombing flights over England were claimed for this
remarkable veteran, besides many scores of reconnaissance voyages.
All of the surviving pilots appeared to have an abiding belief in
her invulnerability--a not unnatural attitude of the fatalist toward
an instrument which has succeeded in defying fate. This is the way
one of them expressed it, who came and stood by my side during the
quarter-hour in which the inspecting officers were climbing about inside
the glistening yellow shell of the historic raider in an endeavour to
satisfy themselves, that she was, temporarily at least, incapable of
further activities:--

"It will sound strange to you to hear me say it," he said, "but it is a
fact that all of the officers and men at Nordholz firmly believed that
L-14 could not be destroyed. Always we gave her the place of honour in
starting first away for England, and most times she was the last to
come back--of those that did come back. After a while, no matter how
long she was late, we always said, 'Oh, but it is old L-14; no use to
worry about her; she will come home at her own time.' And come home
she always did. All of our greatest pilots flew in her at one time or
another and came back safe. Then they were given newer and faster ships,
and sometimes they came home, and sometimes they did not. ----, who was
experimenting with one of the smaller swift types of half-rigids when
it was brought down north of London--the first to be destroyed over
England--had flown L-14 many times, and come home safe, and so had,
----, our greatest pilot, who was also lost north of London, very near
where the other was brought down, and where we think you had some kind
of trap. L-14 saw these and many other Zeppelins fall in flames and the
more times she came home the more was our belief in her strength. The
pilot who flew her was supposed to take more chances (because she really
ran no risks, you see), and if you have ever read of how one Zeppelin
in each raid always swooped low to drop her bombs, you now know that
she was that one. Because we had this superstitious feeling about her
we were very careful that, in rebuilding and repairing her, much of her
original material should be left, so that whatever gave her her charmed
life should not be removed. Although our duraluminum of the present is
much lighter and stronger than the first we made, L-14 still has most
of her original framework; and, although improved technical instruments
have been installed, all her cars are much as when she was built. You
will see how much clumsier and heavier they are than those of the newer
types. And now, for some months, we have used L-14 as a 'school' ship,
in which to train our young pilots. You see, her great traditions must
prove a wonderful inspiration to them."

A few minutes later I had a hint of one type of this "inspiration,"
when a pilot (who had fallen into step with me as we took a turn across
the fields on foot to see the hangars of the "protecting flight" of
aeroplanes) mentioned that he had taken part in a number of the 1916
raids over the Midland industrial centres. Knowing the Stygian blackness
in which this region was wrapped during all of the Zeppelin raiding
time, I asked him if he had not found it difficult to locate his
objectives in a country which was plunged in complete darkness.

"Not so difficult as you might think," was the reply. "There were always
the rivers and canals, which we knew perfectly from careful study.
Besides, a town is a very large mark, and you seem to 'sense' the
nearness of great masses of people, anyhow. Perhaps the great anxiety
they are in establishes a sort of mental contact with you, whose brain
is very tense and receptive. Effective bombing is very largely a matter
of psychology, you see."

I saw. Indeed, I think I saw rather more than he intended to convey.

The inspection over and everything having been found as stipulated in
the armistice, we were conducted to the Officers' Casino for lunch.
Each member of the party, as had been the practice from the outset,
having brought a package of sandwiches from the ship in his pocket, it
was intimated to the Commander of the station that we would not need to
trouble him to have the luncheon served, which he said had been prepared
for us. The same situation had arisen at Norderney and several other
of the stations previously visited, and in each of these instances
our "hosts" of the day had acquiesced in the plainly expressed desire
of the senior officer of the party that we should confine our menu
to what we carried in our own "nose-bags." Nordholz, however--quite
possibly with no more than an enlarged idea of what were its duties
under the circumstances--was not to be denied. A couple of plates of
very appetizing German red-cabbage _sauerkraut_, with slices of ham and
blood sausage, were waiting upon a large sidetable as we entered the
reception-room, and to these, as fast as a very nervous waiter could
bring them in, were added the following: a large loaf of _pumpernickel_,
a pitcher of chicken _consommé_, a huge beefsteak, with a fried egg
sitting in the middle of it, for each member of the party, two dishes
of apple sauce, and eight bottles of wine--four of white and four of
red. The steaks--an inch thick, six inches in diameter, and grilled to a
turn--were quite the largest pieces of meat I had seen served outside of
Ireland since the war. The _hock_ bore the label "_Dürkheimer_," and the
other bottles, which were of non-German origin, "_Ungarischer Rotwein_."

"Although I'd hate to hurt their feelings," said the senior officer of
the party, surveying the Gargantuan repast with a perplexed smile, "I
should like to confine myself to my sandwiches and leave a note asking
them to forward this to some of our starving prisoners. Since we've
been feeding their pilots and commissioners in the _Hercules_, however,
I suppose there's no valid reason why we should hesitate to partake of
this banquet. I'll leave you free to decide for yourselves what you want
to do on that score." We did. It was the American Ensign who, smacking
his lips over the last of his steak, pronounced it the best "hunk of
cow" he had had since he was at a Mexican _barbecue_ at Coronado; but
it was the General who had a second helping of apple sauce, and wondered
how they made it so "smooth and free from lumps," and what it was they
put in it to give that "very delicate flavour."

Hung around all four walls of the room were perhaps a dozen oil
paintings of flying officers in uniform, and although they bore no
names, we knew (from what had been told us of a similar display in the
reception-room at Norderney) that they were portraits of pilots who had
lost their lives in active service. One--a three-quarters length of a
small wiry man, with gimlet eyes and a jaw that would have made that of
a wolf-trap look soft and flexible in comparison--I recognized at once
as having been reproduced in the German papers as the portrait of the
great Schramm, who had been killed when his Zeppelin was brought down
at Potters' Bar. Another--the bust of a man of rather a bulkier figure
than the first, but with a face a shade less brutal--was also strangely
familiar. I felt sure I had seen before that terribly determined jaw,
that broad nose with its wide nostrils, that receding brow, with the
bony lumps above the eyes, and the tentacles of my memory went groping
for when and where, while I went on sipping my glass of _Rotwein_ and
listening to Major P----[1] and Ensign E---- comparing sensations on
dropping from airplanes with parachutes.

      [1] Major Pritchard, who subsequently distinguished himself
          by landing from R-34, after its transatlantic flight,
          with a parachute.

"If the Huns," the former was saying, "had had proper parachutes most of
the crews of the Zepps brought down in England could have landed safely
instead of being burned in the air. Of the remains of the crew of the
one brought down at Cuffley, hardly a fragment was recognizable as that
of a man. But if--"

Like a flash it came to me. The warm, comfortable room, with its solid
"New Art" furniture and the table stacked with plates of food and wine
bottles, faded away, and I saw a tangled heap of metal and burning
debris, sprawling across a stubble field and hedgerow, and steaming in
the cold early morning drizzle that was quenching its still smouldering
fires. Five hours previously that wreckage had been a raiding Zeppelin,
charging blindly across London, pursued by searchlights and gun-fire.
I had watched the ghostly shape disappear in the darkness as it shook
off the beams of the searchlights, and when it appeared again it was as
a descending comet of streaming flame streaking earthward across the
north-western heavens. After walking all the rest of the night--with
a lift from an early morning milk cart--I had arrived on the scene at
daybreak, and before the cordon of soldiers which later kept the crowds
back had been drawn. They had just cut a way through the wreckage to
one of the cars, and were cooling down the glowing metal with a stream
pumped by a little village fire-engine. Then they began taking out
what remained of the bodies of the crew. Some had been almost entirely
consumed by the fierce flames, and it is literally true that many of the
blackened fragments were hardly recognizable as human. But there was one
notable exception. By a miracle, the chest and head of the body of what
had undoubtedly been the commanding officer had been spared the direct
play of the flames. The fingers gripping the steering wheel were charred
to the bone, but the upper part of the tunic was so little scorched
that it still held the Iron Cross pinned into it. The blonde eyebrows,
beneath the bony cranial protuberances, were scarcely singed, and even
the scowl and the tightly compressed lips seemed to express intense
determination rather than death agony. That portrait--and doubtless most
of the others that looked down upon our strange luncheon party that day
at Nordholz--must have been painted from life.



VI

MERCHANT SHIPPING


The difference between the work of the Shipping Board of the Allied
Naval Armistice Commission and that of the other sub-commissions was
well defined by one of its members when he facetiously described it as
"the only branch of the business that pays dividends." The work of the
sub-commissions for the inspection of warships, seaplane and airship
stations and forts, in that it was for the purpose of seeing that
certain disarmament or demolition had been carried out, was largely
destructive; that of the Shipping Board, on the other hand, which had
as its end the return to the Allies of all of their merchant ships
interned in German harbours, was constructive. The Shipping Board began
to "pay dividends" (in the form of steamers dispatched for home ports)
almost from the day of the arrival of the _Hercules_ in Wilhelmshaven,
and these continued steadily until the last of the interned ships
surviving--a number had, unfortunately, been lost in mine-sweeping and
other dangerous work in which the Germans had employed them--had found
its way back to resume its place as a carrier of men and merchandise
and restore the heavily depleted tonnage of the country to which it
belonged.

At the outbreak of the war there were ninety-six Allied vessels in
German harbours, and all of these were promptly placed under embargo.
Of these, eighty were British, fourteen Belgian, and two French. As
all of the French and Belgian ships were small craft, their tonnage
was practically negligible. Besides these embargoed ships, the Allied
Commission had been directed to demand and arrange for the return of the
thirty-one--twenty-one British, eight Belgian, one American, and one
Brazilian--Allied ships which had been condemned in German Prize Courts
since the outbreak of the war. Ten of these, it was subsequently learned
when the question came up in conference, had been sunk, the Germans
having made a practice of using Allied ships in their hands for all work
involving great risk.

The question of the return of mercantile tonnage was taken up in the
course of the first conference in the _Hercules_ at Kiel. Admiral
Goette was requested to produce a complete list of all Allied and
American ships lying at the time in German ports, including all
mercantile vessels which had been condemned in Prize Courts. This list
was to show clearly which vessels were considered seaworthy, and if
unseaworthy, from what cause. It was also requested that information
should be given as to which of these ships were fitted for mine-seeking
or mine-sweeping, as it was planned to leave these temporarily in
German hands in order to facilitate the efforts she was supposed to
be making to clear the way for navigation. It was directed that ships
ready to take the sea should be bunkered and ballasted at once, and
that towage should be provided for sailing ships. All explosives were
to be removed, and the Germans were ordered to provide a steamer to
bring back the crews from the ports at which the embargoed ships had
been delivered--the Tyne, in case of British vessels, and Dunkerque for
French.

In respect to the ships considered unseaworthy, Admiral Goette was
requested to arrange for all machinery, boilers, tanks, and spaces
to be opened up, and the equipment made ready for inspection by the
Sub-Commission for Shipping. Following this inspection, immediate
facilities for dry docking and the carrying out of such repairs as the
Sub-Commission considered necessary to prepare each vessel for sea were
to be provided.

Although more than three weeks had passed since the signing of the
armistice, Admiral Goette admitted at once on the presentation of these
demands that not only had no seaworthy Allied ship started on its voyage
home, but that nothing whatever had been done in the way of repairing
any of those not seaworthy. He agreed, however, to do what he could
to expedite matters from that time on in the case of the embargoed
ships, but protested that, as the ships condemned in the Prize Courts
had, according to German law, ceased to be Allied vessels, he had no
authority to deliver them. On being told that the Allied Commission had
been appointed to deal with the terms of the armistice, not to discuss
matters of German or any other law, he finally gave way and agreed to
furnish a list of the prize ships. He made the reservation, however,
that the "question of legality," since it did not concern the conferring
commissions, should be taken up later between the interested Governments.

Indeed, protests, as preliminaries to acquiescence, formed the major
part of the German notes on the shipping question, as will be seen from
the following extracts. "I herewith bring officially to your notice,"
the President of the German Sub-Commission wrote after the first
conference, (1) "that we do not recognize the obligations demanded by
the Allies to deliver embargo ships on the 17th December by the fact
that we are willing to deliver them at the earliest possible moment";
and (2) "that embargo ships proceeding out at the request of the Allies
without having been reconditioned in a manner to put them in the same
condition in which they were at the beginning of the war will leave
prematurely under protest. Germany declines any further obligations
with regard to these ships." Writing after the first extension of the
armistice and referring to that fact, he intimates that "the period for
fulfilling the provisions of Article XXX" (the repair of ships) "is also
prolonged until January 17, 1919. Accordingly Germany is not obliged to
hand over the interned ships before the 17th January. In spite of this
Germany will make every endeavour in the future also to deliver these
interned ships as soon as possible, and, as hitherto, will seek to carry
out the terms of the armistice most loyally.... Without being under any
obligation to do so, and merely in order to furnish further proofs of
the loyal and business-like intentions of carrying out the terms of the
armistice, measures have been taken for carrying on reconditioning, as
far as that is possible and without prejudice, in accordance with the
newest regulations of the British Lloyd."

The same formula, it will be observed, was followed in connection with
each subject under consideration. There was first the protest, then an
intimation that the wish of the Allies should be carried out in spite of
the fact there was no obligation to do so, and finally the invariable
"patting of themselves on the back" on the part of the Germans for the
"loyalty of spirit" thus displayed.

There was a subtle appeal to British sportsmanship in this paragraph
from one of the communications of the President of the German Shipping
Commission. "I again request you to signify your approval that the
German embargo steamer, _Marie_ (ex _Dave Hill_), now lying in Batavia,
in recognition of her signal services during the war, both from the
military point of view and seamanship, should be permitted first to put
in with her crew to a German port; the ship will then, after handing
over her German fittings, be delivered as quickly as arranged in the
Tyne."

It was not stated what the "signal services" of the _Marie_ had been
in the war, nor for whom they had been performed; but I am under the
impression she was the ship which was credited with the very fine
exploit of running the British blockade of East Africa, delivering a
cargo of arms and munitions to Von Letow, and then making her escape
to the Dutch Indies. As this cargo was the one thing which enabled the
East African campaign to be carried on to the end of the war (when
it must otherwise inevitably have terminated a year or two earlier),
there can be no two ways of looking at the "signal service" the _Marie_
performed--for the Germans.

Owing to the difficulty in securing crews to take the ships to the Tyne,
Admiral Goette requested that the Allied Commission should furnish in
advance a guarantee of safety for those who could be induced to make the
voyage. Admiral Browning's reply was a counter-demand for a guarantee of
safety for the parties landing from the _Hercules_ to carry out their
inspections of German ships and air stations. "The word of my Commission
is given here and now," he said, "in the presence of many witnesses,
for the security of any German subject who may, in the course of the
execution of the armistice, land in Great Britain. It is not customary
to give written assurances regarding the honourable observation of
the law of nations, but in the case of Germany we are obliged to ask
for guarantees in writing because of the description which has been
furnished us of the state of the country. We are obliged to ask before
we take any steps to see that the terms of the armistice are executed,
that the parties should be able to perform their duties without danger,
let, or hindrance."

Admiral Goette conceded this demand, and then went on to press his own
in a statement highly illuminative of the abject position the German
naval authorities found themselves in their relations with both the
men of the warships and merchant sailors. "I wish to explain," he
said, "that the request which we make is not to be construed into an
expression of suspicion or distrust. It is merely in the interests of
the men themselves, as we experienced in the case of the personnel of
the submarines taken to English ports that the men were obviously under
great apprehension that something might happen to them on coming into
English parts. The guarantee is merely wanted as something definite
to show the crews, as we have great difficulty in getting the men to
believe us. That is why we also suggest that the German Commission
should receive the minutes of the conference, as they would be quite
enough for our purpose in order to be able to show the men in print that
the declaration has been actually made."

The mutual guarantees were subsequently given in writing as follows:--

    GUARANTEE BY THE GOVERNMENT AT BERLIN AS TO THE SAFETY OF
        MEMBERS OF THE ALLIED COMMISSION DURING THEIR STAY IN
        GERMANY.

                Berlin.
            _December_ 6, 1918.

    Foreign Office.
      No. 172192.

    The safety of the members of the Allied Commission and
    of the representatives of the United States is guaranteed
    by the Government of the State for the whole extent of
    German territory. All representatives and functionaries of
    the Administration of the State, the Federal States and
    Municipalities of the Army and of the Navy are requested to give
    them every protection and to assist them in every way in the
    unhindered execution of their work.

    The Government of the State.

            (_Signed_) EBERT.
                       HAASE.

    GUARANTEE AS TO SECURITY OF GERMAN CREWS OF MERCHANT VESSELS

          H.M.S. _Hercules_.
            _December_ 6, 1918.

    The Allied Naval Armistice Commission.
      No. 0379.

    In reply to your verbal request of yesterday, 5th December,
    1918, we hereby authorize you to communicate to those
    concerned our assurance that the security of the crews sent
    over in merchant vessels, restored under Article XXX, Terms of
    Armistice, will be properly safeguarded on their arrival in
    British or French ports.

    A copy of this document will be forwarded to the Admiralty
    in London and to the Ministry of Marine in Paris accordingly.

        (_Signed_) M. E. Browning, _Vice-Admiral_.
        (_Signed_) M. F. A. Grasset, _Contre-Amiral_.

    To Rear-Admiral Ernst Goette.

Guarantees having been provided, the following instructions were handed
to the German Commission regarding the carrying out of inspections under
the terms of the armistice:--

1. The Allied Naval Commission shall be received on board each
mercantile vessel to be inspected by officers of approximately
equivalent rank and conducted through the vessel, visiting such places
and compartments as the Allied Commission may wish.

2. All compartments are to be adequately lighted.

3. All vessels shall be cleared of men before and during the inspection,
with the exception of those necessary to open up machinery, doors,
hatches, etc.

4. If guns are mounted they are to be uncovered, and all explosives
removed from the vessel.

The Allied inspection parties were instructed as follows:--

(_a_) To satisfy themselves that all Allied vessels are bunkered,
ballasted, and sufficiently manned for the passage to the Tyne, in the
case of British and Belgian vessels, and to Dunkerque, in the case of
French vessels.

(_b_) To ensure that the necessary repairs and dry docking of
unseaworthy ships are carried out by the German authorities.

(_c_) To ascertain that sufficient deck and engine stores are provided
for the passage.

(_d_) That all ships' papers, including Log Book and Register,
confiscated on internment are returned.

(_e_) That ammunition and explosives are landed from the vessels which
have been used for war purposes.

The arrival of the lists of embargo and prize ships showed them to be
scattered about among a large number of ports on both the North Sea
and the Baltic. As lack of time precluded the possibility of visiting
Danzig or any other Baltic ports east of Kiel, it was arranged that all
seaworthy ships in these ports should proceed to Kiel for inspection.
After completing the inspection of the five ships in Wilhelmshaven (two
of which were found to have machinery defects which made it impossible
to deliver them without extensive repairs), the Shipping Board departed
by train for Hamburg and Bremerhaven, where the greater part of their
work was to be done. Before they rejoined the _Hercules_ three days
later at Kiel over thirty British ships had been inspected and the
preliminary steps taken for their return to the Tyne.

Admiral Goette's report at the first conference respecting conditions
at Hamburg and the vicinity had made it appear probable that a visit
to the Elbe would be entirely out of the question, and even after
guarantees of safety had arrived it still seemed that venturing there
would be attended by uncertainty if not danger. "In the Elbe," the
President of the German Commission had said, "power is entirely in the
hands of the Workmen's and Soldiers' Council, and Naval Officers have
no authority or influence whatever. One of the chief supports of the
Workmen's and Soldiers' Council is the light cruiser _Augsburg_. There
are also some torpedo-boats, mine-sweeping vessels and other small craft
there which should be disarmed; but officers at Wilhelmshaven have no
power to see to it, nor can they give any definite information as to
what is there.... The Elbe is much less under the influence of the
Berlin Government than either Wilhelmshaven or Kiel. The Elbe Republic
appears to have been much more radical than the others from the start,
and has from the beginning of the Revolution refused to co-operate with
the Naval Officers, while such co-operation was at once in effect in
Wilhelmshaven and Kiel."

It is by no means improbable that Admiral Goette was quite sincere in
this summary of conditions on the Elbe; indeed, so far as the lack
of authority on the part of Naval Officers was concerned, it was
an accurate statement of the case. But in assuming that this would
necessarily make it impossible for the Allied Shipping Board to carry
out their work he proved quite wrong. Contemptuous as they were of their
ex-officers, the men, far from displaying any desire to interfere with
the work of the Commission, proved themselves no less willing than their
mates in Wilhelmshaven to help in any way they could. The Workmen's and
Soldiers' Council took over the protection of the party from the moment
of its arrival, and, save for a single incident which could hardly have
been classed as "preventable," nothing of an untoward nature occurred in
the course of the visit.

[Illustration: IN THE ELBE, HAMBURG]

[Illustration: RAILROAD STATION AT HAMBURG]

At Hamburg the party put up at the Hotel Atlantic, where they
reported that their comfort was extremely well looked after in every
way. Occupying a wing to themselves and using a private dining-room,
they saw little of the other guests. They were not allowed to linger in
the foyer or any of the public rooms on the ground floor, and as soon as
they had reached their rooms an armed guard of the Workmen and Soldiers
took station at the entrance to the corridor. These precautions appeared
quite unnecessary, as no signs of unfriendliness of any kind were in
evidence.

The rooms were large and furnished with all their pre-war luxuriousness.
The linen was abundant and of fine quality. The steam heaters had to
be turned off to prevent the rooms becoming overheated. The response
from the hot-water taps was immediate. The brass fittings were still
in place, and there were no signs of _ersatz_ towels, sheets, or even
lace curtains. Soap was the only thing missing, but that difficulty
was common to all Germany. Food (even on one of the days which was
meatless) was both abundant and wholesome--"well up to the average in a
first-class English hotel," as one of the members put it. There was an
ample and varied wine list to order from, including--besides many Rhine
and Hungarian brands--several French and Italian brandies and liqueurs.
There was some discussion over the cigars, the only point upon which
the Commission were unanimous being that they were not tobacco, and
that any member desiring to experiment in the effect of them upon a
human being should do so upon himself, and in his own room. German
"substitute" tobacco looks better than it smokes; in fact, the only way
in which the Workmen's and Soldiers' guards attached to our parties were
in the least obnoxious was through putting up "smoke barrages," and even
these were avoidable except in turrets, magazines, shaft tunnels, and
other enclosed spaces.

The inspection of the twenty-four British ships in the Elbe revealed
the fact that it had been the German practice to convert the best of
the embargo steamers into mine-layers, net-layers, seaplane carriers,
and other types of war auxiliaries. These had been kept in the best of
condition, and, allowing for the hard service they had been engaged in,
were in practically as good shape as when first seized. The second-grade
steamers and sailing vessels had merely been laid up and left to go
to rack and ruin. Stripped of everything in the way of metal or gear
that was likely to prove of use elsewhere, unpainted, uncared-for and
covered with four-and-a-half years' accumulation of rust and filth, they
presented a sorry sight. Although yielding little in the way of metal
or technical instruments, the sailing ships had furnished useful loot in
the form of hempen ropes and canvas, of both of which they were stripped
to the last ravellings.

There was one very interesting discovery made in connection with the
inspection of these laid-up ships in the Elbe. _A number of them were
found to have been filled with concrete, with the evident intention of
using them as block ships._ Naturally, no explanation of what had been
in the wind to prompt this action was volunteered, but the fact that the
work had been done at a comparatively recent date pointed strongly to
the probability that the Germans, stung to the quick by the blocking of
Zeebrugge and Ostend, were preparing a reply, most likely against the
entrance to the Tyne. One has only to look at the chart to understand
that the latter is a readily "blockable" estuary--to any adequately
equipped force able to reach the proper point. Needless to say, such
a contingency was not unprovided against, and it would have been a
near-miracle if even the most dare-devil leadership could have brought
such a force halfway across the North Sea. Whether the armistice put
an end to uncompleted preparations, or whether the plan was given up
in despair before that time (perhaps through a failure to secure the
necessary force of volunteers), there was nothing to indicate, though
doubtless revelations throwing light on this interesting mystery will be
forthcoming from Germany before long.

Fortunately, the concrete had been put into these ships in the form of
blocks instead of being poured, so that the clearing of their holds was
not a serious matter.

The drives in motor-cars through the streets of Hamburg revealed the
same well-dressed, well-fed crowds which had been so much in evidence
in Wilhelmshaven, and not even in the docks or shipyards were there
any signs of the starvation we had been assured prevailed in all the
great industrial centres. The people were mildly curious but not in
the least unfriendly. The only occasion on which anything unpleasant
occurred was when a navvy, splashed by the mud from one of the leading
cars, petulantly slammed his shovel through the glass of the next in
line. The nerves and tempers of the three French shipping commissioners
were the only things beside the glass which suffered seriously as a
consequence of this contretemps. The Workmen's and Soldiers' guards
promptly asserted their authority by arresting the captious culprit,
profuse apologies for the indignity were offered by the German officers
conducting the party at the time, and later the President of their
Shipping Commission called on Commodore Bevan at the hotel to make
formal expression of regrets.

There was a refreshing naïveté in the explanation offered by one of the
German officers of the reason for this little incident. "It was all the
fault of the chauffeur," he said. "The man used to drive for Admiral
X---- of the General Staff, and he forgot that he must no longer let his
car throw mud on the street workmen."

The German naval officer who received the Allied party on one of the
British merchantmen was found in a state of considerable excitement.
He had been fired at from the darkness the night before, he said, and
missed by a hair. Interpreting this as a warning against wearing his
naval uniform ashore, he had dressed in civil attire that morning,
brought his uniform along in a parcel, and changed into it on board.

"You'd pity any one but a Hun for having to do a thing like that," was
the dry comment of one of the British members of the party when this
tale of woe was translated to him.

An instance of the unquenchable optimism of the German industrialist
regarding the eagerly awaited future when the seas and the markets of
the world are again open to him was furnished in the course of a visit
to the great Blohm and Voss yards, which occupy about the same position
on the Elbe as do those of John Brown or Fairfields on the Clyde,
or Harland and Wolff at Belfast. Several of the embargo ships were
undergoing repairs here, and in going over one of these it was pointed
out by Commodore Bevan that it ought to be ready to put to sea some days
inside the limit set by the Germans for the completion of reconditioning.

"It is quite true the ship will be in a state to make the voyage to
the Tyne by the time you say," replied Herr M----, the Director who
was showing the party round, "but it will take a number of days longer
to put it in the same state it was when placed under embargo. It would
be a short-sighted policy on our part to send a badly repaired ship
out of our yards at the present time, for it would be certain to react
seriously in the matter of future orders. You must bear in mind, sir,
that we have a world-wide reputation for thoroughness to maintain."

He appeared far from reassured when he was told that the condition he
sent the British ships home in would have no effect whatever upon his
future business with the rest of the world; moreover, he must have found
that the longer he pondered that plain statement the less comfort there
was to be extracted from it. It is astonishing how few Germans appear to
realize that there are other things besides workmanship and quality--to
say nothing of long credits, state subsidies and pushful salesmen--that
will profoundly affect the future of German trade.

The inspection of the eight interned vessels at Bremerhaven brought out
nothing of more than routine interest, but the visit to the great home
port of the North German Lloyd on the Weser, just as had the one to
that of the Hamburg-Amerika Line on the Elbe, offered an incomparable
opportunity to see at first hand the staggering blow which the war
had dealt to German shipping and--through shipping--to German foreign
trade. Although the fact that I had been attached for the moment to the
sub-commissions inspecting seaplane and Zeppelin stations prevented
my visiting Hamburg and Bremerhaven with the Shipping Board, an
illuminating glimpse of the latter was offered me during the passage of
the Weser in the course of the journey to Nordholz.

Although the day was overcast and there was some mistiness on the water,
one could still see far enough up and down stream during the passage
to note the effects of the complete stagnation which had settled from
the outbreak of the war upon this second of Germany's great maritime
ports. The name BREMERHAVEN had appeared in raised gilt letters
across the stern of every one of the hundreds of North German Lloyd
steamers, and from New York to Shanghai, from Sydney to Durban, one was
confronted with it in most of the ports of the world, but especially
those of the Far East and Australia. I had seen it on the black-hulled,
buff-funnelled freighters that were carrying Dutch goods from Ternate
to Batavia, Chinese goods from Tientsin to Foochow, Japanese goods
from Kobe to Nagasaki, British goods between Sandakan and Singapore.
The "Crossed Keys" house-flag was known throughout the East as the
symbol of that notorious German trade policy of heavy rate-cutting
until competition had been killed and then a forcing up of tariffs to
just under a figure which would be calculated to revive competition.
But while the Germans had plotted thus ruthlessly to strangle foreign
competition, between their own lines nothing of the kind was ever
allowed to go on. The Hamburg-Amerika and the Norddeutscher-Lloyd, with
three or four other German lines of secondary importance, had divided up
the world into "spheres" of trade, with no line encroaching upon that
of another except for certain inevitable "over-lapping" in passenger
traffic on the Mediterranean and North Atlantic routes.

The lines of the Norddeutscher-Lloyd were stretched like the tentacles
of an octopus over the Indian Ocean and the Eastern Pacific, and at the
outbreak of the war it was sucking trade from every British, French,
Dutch, and Scandinavian line that plied to the ports of Australia,
Malaysia, China, and the Philippines upon which it had fastened its
slimy grip. The "N.D.L." was more than a German steamship line; it
was Germany itself--Germany beginning to rivet down the edges of its
"places in the sun." It was Herr Heiniken, the president of this great
instrument of "Deutschland Ueber Alles," who, in Hongkong in 1911,
exclaimed to a diplomat with whom he was discussing the Kaiser's Agadir
bluff: "War! that, sir, is the one thing I want to avoid. What do we
want to spend money and men on war when--within ten years at our present
rate of progress--we can win everything that the most successful war
could possibly give us? War might be a short cut to German world-power;
and again, it might not. But hegemony by the trade route--provided only
we continue to enjoy the freedom we have today--is sure. Our ships and
merchants have already won half the battle, and victory is in sight if
they are only allowed to go on."

Herr Heiniken was a hard-headed, clear-seeing man, and one shudders to
think how much truth there was in the words quoted. But the slower, more
round-about "trade route" to world-power did not suit the hot-headed
Junkers, and they forced their country to attempt to reach by the
short-cut of war what was almost within the reach of their merchants
and shippers. And that day at Bremerhaven we saw one of the results.
There, sluddered down into the slime from which he rose, his tentacles
all either severed or drawn in, was the remains of the "N.D.L." octopus.
Miles and miles of what were once black-and-buff freighters and liners
were lying so deep in harbour silt that it would have taken a dredger
to get them out of their slips. The tangles of sagging, weed-fringed
mooring cables running over and about them--for all the world as though
they had been meshed in the web of a Gargantuan spider--accentuated the
helpless immobility of craft that had once flaunted the arrogant red,
white, and black bunting of the German merchant marine in the uttermost
corners of the Seven Seas.

That river full of rotting ships was more than quiet--it was _dead_.
The anchorage of the interned High Sea Fleet, off the inner entrance
to Gutter Sound in Scapa Flow, was the first cemetery I had seen of
the ships of the power whose ruler had proclaimed that its future
was upon the sea. Bremerhaven was another graveyard of that ambient
ambition. And the rusting hulks of the remains of the "N.D.L." fleet
was not all that was buried in the port of opulent Bremen. The ships
were only the tombstones. Deep in the mud beneath their keels was
sunk the crumpled framework of a plan which was a long way farther on
the way to consummation than most of Americans and Britons will ever
realize--Germany's scheme to attain world domination by trade. Germany
will, in time undoubtedly have another merchant marine, and she may even
begin striving before long toward world domination by any means, fair or
foul, that offers a chance of success. But there is a slight probability
that she will ever again hit upon any road that will take her so far
toward the goal of "_Deutschland Ueber Alles_" as did the "trade route,"
the way to which is now all but closed. There was the dankness of mould
in the wind that blew across the graveyard of the high ambitions that
lie buried beyond hope of resurrection in the mud beneath the weed-foul
bottoms of the ships of Bremerhaven.

The whole atmosphere of the stagnant waterfront was brooding and gloomy,
and as we drew near to the landing I was conscious of a pronounced
depression, for no man who loves the sea can remain unmoved at the sight
of neglected ships. To this mood the cheery chatter of a young American
Ensign, who had just sauntered out on deck after warming his toes at the
charcoal brazier in the tug's cabin, came as a welcome diversion.

"There's a lot of funny things chalked up on the walls around the
docks," he said, running his eyes over the signs along the front, "but
the one word that is written over the whole darn layout is 'Ichabod.'
'N.D.L.' is the only other to run 'one-two-three' with it. By the look
of things I take it that stands for 'No D----m Luck.'"



VII

THE BOMBING OF TONDERN


The German airship station at Tondern was by no means the largest of
the enemy naval stations, but its position gave it an importance not
measured by the number of its sheds or its airships.

Situated in Schleswig, not far from the Danish border, its ships were
available equally for reconnaissance in the North Sea or the Baltic,
including the Kattegat, and all the devious straits and passages
between Denmark and the Scandinavian Peninsula. In a way, with the
seaplane station at Sylt, it formed the first line of defence against
the ever increasing British mine-laying sorties in the North Sea and
Kattegat. The actual attacks against these mine-layers came to be left
more and more to the seaplanes, though, in the first years of the war,
considerable bomb-dropping was attempted here from Zeppelins. The
vulnerability of the airship to aeroplane attack--and, notably, the
destruction of a Zeppelin by a plane launched from the light cruiser
_Yarmouth_--put an end to their work in this _rôle_, and compelled them
to confine their activities entirely to reconnaissance. It was the
great effectiveness of the long observation flights from Tondern which
determined the R.N.A.S. to make a strong endeavour to put an end to the
menace by destroying the sheds. Besides greatly hampering the British
mine-laying program they were also credited with supplying the Germans
with invaluable information for both their surface raids and submarine
attacks on the Norwegian convoys.

The only way in which Tondern could be reached was by machines launched
from a carrier ship, and for this purpose the _Furious_, on account of
her great speed and size, was perhaps better adapted than even a ship
of the type of the _Argus_, in spite of the fact that the latter was
specially built for the work, while the former was converted from a
cruiser of the _Courageous_ class. The raid, as any attempt of the kind
must be, was prepared for some time in advance, and was only launched
when it appeared that all conditions were especially favourable for its
success. Probably the astonishing Admiralty intelligence service played
an important, perhaps a decisive, part.

There was one point which favoured a raid upon Tondern as compared
with an air attack upon one of the stations farther south. This was
its proximity to the Danish border, which offered an alternative way
of escape if return to the vicinity of the carrier ship should be
impracticable. This was fully reckoned with in planning the raid, for
it was well understood that the presence of numerous chaser squadrons
from the German coastal seaplane stations might effectually bar the way
back to the _Furious_ or her escorting destroyers. Of the raid from the
British standpoint I can tell little or no more than was revealed in the
bulletin issued by the Admiralty a few days after it took place. This
said, in effect, that a number of aeroplanes, launched from a carrier
ship, had carried out a raid upon the Zeppelin sheds at Tondern shortly
after daylight; that, in spite of the vigorous anti-aircraft fire
encountered, hits had been observed upon at least two of the sheds, and
that it was believed that any airships they contained must have been
destroyed; and that some of the pilots had been picked up at sea, while
others had landed safely in Denmark. Two or three were still unaccounted
for, and might have either been lost in the sea or been taken prisoner
by the enemy. This number was subsequently reduced to one, and he, it
was reckoned, must have sunk with his machine in the sea.

This was all the public were told of what was undoubtedly the most
successful raid of its kind ever carried out, except for the usual more
or less conflicting versions from Denmark and Holland. No one seemed to
know for certain whether any Zeppelins had been destroyed or not, and
if the Admiralty Intelligence Department knew, it kept its knowledge
to itself. The fact that the British mine-laying squadrons had, from
that time on, less to report of Zeppelin activity in the Skager Rak was
encouraging, however, and seemed to show that the Zeppelins were being
kept out of harm's way.

Under the armistice agreement the Allied Naval Commission had the right
of visiting any of the German naval air stations. This gave them an
opportunity to see at first hand what damage had been inflicted in
the Tondern raid. So one of the sub-commissions put this station upon
their itinerary. One officer in particular--he had directed the raiding
operations from the _Furious_--was especially anxious to go. But luck
was against him, for the destroyer in which he was visiting the Borkum
and Heligoland stations was delayed by fog, and he was too late to go
with the Tondern party.

[Illustration: FLOATING DOCK FOR LIFTING SUBMARINES IN KIEL HARBOR]

The efforts made by the Germans, first, to prevent this Tondern visit
being scheduled at all, and, after it was decided upon, so to delay
it that the party making it should only arrive after dark and thus
have limited opportunities for observation, were a revelation of Hun
psychology. "The Hun," said an officer of one of the air-station
parties on his return to the _Hercules_ one evening, "is one of the
most truthful individuals in the world--just as long as he knows you
are in a position to find out the truth anyway. But if he thinks he can
prevent your finding out the truth by lying, there seems to be no limit
to the lengths he will go." Then he went on to tell of how an unusually
affable and courteous young German flying officer, who had conducted
his party to Norderney two days previously, had taken every occasion to
point out how much trouble, and how profitless and uninteresting a visit
to Tondern would be. He said that the station was a long distance out
of the way, that reaching it would involve trips of some hours by both
train and destroyer, that it was not in a region under the control of
the Wilhelmshaven authorities, and that there was nothing to see anyway,
as the sheds had been dismantled before they were bombed, and that
there were no airships in them at the time they were destroyed. Pressed
on the latter point, he had reiterated the statement, adding that the
raid, though it was well planned and executed, had been a great waste of
effort. "It will take much time, and you will see nothing, nothing at
all, I assure you."

"When I told him," continued the British officer, "that we would go
ahead with the visit for sentimental reasons, if for no others, he
seemed a good deal upset, and this morning he did not turn up at all.
The commander who came in his stead told me quite frankly that there
were two Zeppelins destroyed at Tondern, and that he was to go in person
with the party to see, as he put it, that it was 'properly received.'
He had such an 'open-and-above-board' manner about everything that I'm
inclined to think there's some 'catch' in his plan. It's probably on the
score of time, or connections, or something of that kind. He says that,
between destroyer, launch, and train, it is an eight-hour journey; but I
have made up a schedule that will give us a good two hours of daylight
there if there is no slip up on the Huns' end of the arrangements. We
push off in the _Viceroy_ at seven in the morning, and ought to be at
Tondern by three. When we rejoin her again at Brunsbüttel's another
matter."

Just where the "slip up" was meant to come became evident the next
morning, when the German pilot was half an hour late in coming off to
the _Viceroy_. As the sixty-mile run to Brunsbüttel was to have been
covered at a rate of but fifteen miles an hour, a destroyer capable of
doing close to thirty-five had no difficulty in making up the lost time,
though once she was all but compelled to anchor on account of fog,
which closed down just before the outer Elbe lightship was picked up.
The railway station, close beside the gates of the Kiel Canal, was in
plain view from the deck of the _Viceroy_, but the delay in sending off
the promised tug to take us to the landing, with a further delay in the
starting of the waiting special, set back our departure from Brunsbüttel
an hour behind the time scheduled.

As all the trains previously put at the disposal of the Allied
Commission had been given the right of way over everything else on
the line, we had good reason to believe that this time might also be
made up in the course of the run across absolutely level country which
separated us from Tondern. It was little more than one hundred miles.
When, far from making up time, we continued to lose it--both by waits
at stations and by slow running between them--our mounting suspicions
that the Germans meant to keep us hanging about till after dark seemed
to be confirmed. A protest to the Korvettenkapitän conducting the party
brought only a shrug of the shoulders and the assertion that the bad
conditions of the track and the engine made greater speed too dangerous.
As there was no doubt that the engine was clanking and banging a good
deal, and that the bogey immediately under our compartment had at least
one "flat" wheel, about the only reply we could make to this was to
point out that the twelve-car train which had just passed us was doing
at least twice our speed.

"Ah! but that train had the good engine," was the naïve reply. It
hardly seemed worth while asking why our special had not also been
provided with a "good" engine. Some sort of directions were given to the
engineer, however, and there was sufficient acceleration of speed (at
the expense, it appeared, of cutting off the steam heating the car) to
bring us into Tondern station with something like three-quarters of an
hour of daylight still to the good. This was so contrary to the plans
of our hosts that the train was kept waiting in the station for fifteen
minutes on the pretext that the party of officers from the town who were
to accompany us had not yet arrived. The crowd on the platform, amongst
which Danish types predominated, seemed to be genuinely friendly, but a
couple of Red Cross girls who stepped forward to offer refreshments were
waved savagely back by an armed guard.

The ragged silhouettes of the bombed sheds were in plain sight, but a
mile or so distant, when (the German officers having arrived and taken
their places in a spare compartment) the train, with much wheezing and
clanking, started up again and ran slowly out on to the spur towards
the airship station. It would be but a few minutes more, we told
ourselves, and there would still be light enough to see the general
lay of things. The engine never increased its snail's-pace of three
miles an hour all the way, and when it came to a stop at last, close
beside a towering wall of steel, there was barely light enough to show
the top of the wall against the dusky, low-hanging clouds of the early
twilight. Our conductor had maintained his schedule to the minute. When
we alighted he was voluble in his explanation of how the track of the
spur was in such a state of disrepair that a greater speed would have
been attended by the risk of derailment. There was nothing that we could
say to refute this specious protestation, until, on our return journey
an hour or two later, the engine (which had been making steam in the
interim) whisked the two cars over that same spur at the giddy rate of
twenty miles an hour--a good six times as fast as we had come.

The commander of the station, saying that, as the hour was late,
we doubtless would desire to get the inspection over as quickly
as possible, started off into the darkness at a brisk pace, the
rest--British, Americans, and Germans--stumbling along in pursuit as
best they could. Entering the shed by a side door near which the
train had stopped, we found it so poorly lighted that the opposite
wall showed but dimly, while the ends and the soaring arches of the
roof were lost in dusky obscurity. At that first glimpse--probably the
fresh smell of the cement under foot and the palpable newness of the
pressed asbestos siding under one of the lights had something to do
with it--the shed gave one the impression of being just on the point of
completion. The description of the station furnished to us mentioned no
such structure, so that we were rather at a loss. No explanation was
volunteered, however, and our guide pushed on straight across, with the
evident intention of passing out through the opposite door. But the
senior Allied officer, an American, of commander's rank, stopped him
with a request for more light. Half a dozen switches were then thrown
over, and flooded the great structure with the brilliant radiance of
countless incandescent globes. At once the huge building was revealed as
a double Zeppelin shed of the largest size, just at the end of a long
spell of restoration after being badly damaged. Fragments of duraluminum
and charred pieces of wood and fabric, swept together in great heaps at
the sides, told more of the story, and great fresh patches at several
points in the roof the rest of it. This was the shed in which the two
Zeppelins, which the Germans admitted losing when the station was bombed
by the planes from the _Furious_, had been destroyed. It was the least
damaged of the sheds bombed, said the German commander, and it had
been rebuilt with materials from two other sheds both of which were in
process of demolition.

I saw the Yankee officer's eyes glistening as the picture those words
conjured up flashed before them, and heard his muttered "Some raid that,
by cripes!"

"If you are zatisfied, ve vill now go on to der oder sheds," the German
commander said presently, and we followed him out into the deepening
twilight.

Tondern had nothing of the regularity of plan of Nordholz, nor, luckily,
the latter's magnificent distances. We found the two remaining sheds,
or what was left of them, at less than half a mile from the first.
One was nothing but a foundation, with prostrate steel pillars and
girders scattered about over it, and numerous deep pools of water. I
say deep, because it took two of his colleagues to fish out one of the
party who stumbled into it, and he, by the irony of fate, was a stout
German officer, with a deep bass voice and a magnificent vocabulary. We
had to take the German's word for it that this shed had been a small
one, which they were demolishing because it had been obsolete, and not
because it had been damaged by bombs.

Men were at work pulling down a section of the next shed as we came up,
but they shambled away at a word from one of their officers. This one,
said the station commander, was much the worst damaged of the two bombed
in the raid, but, by good luck, there had been no airships in it at
the time. The reason that it was more badly knocked to pieces than the
other, in spite of the fact that, in the latter, the explosion of the
Zeppelins was added to that of the bombs, was due to its doors having
been tightly closed. This had caused the full force of the exploding
bombs to be exerted against the walls and roof of the shed, whereas, in
the first one, much of that force had been dissipated through the open
front of the structure.

Save a flare or two by which the men had been working, there was no
lights in this shed, but, picking our way over heaps of broken glass and
asbestos sheeting, we managed to find a point from which the tangled
and twisted girders of a still undemolished section of the roof were
silhouetted against a stratum of western clouds, yet bright in the last
of the sunset glow. For the most part they bulged outward, where the
up-gush of the explosion had exerted its force against the roof, but in
two places they bent sharply inward, and ended in jagged bars of torn
metal. These were the places, the Germans told us, where two of the
bombs burst through. One of them explained the remarkable fact of the
great holes being almost exactly in a line down the middle of the roof
by saying: "Poof! they fly so low they could not miss. Any airman could
do that. But they did miss with one bomb, though," he said, brightening.
"Come mit me. I show you," and he led the way to a spot forty or fifty
feet in front of the wrecked building, where his electric torch revealed
a round hole in the earth about five feet in diameter by four feet deep.
"I think that bomb miss der top of der shed by one half-metre," he said,
sighting along his outstretched arm at what was evidently reckoned the
angle of a bomb from a low-flying machine. "Yes, it miss der shed by
half a metre; but it kills five men chust der same. Not so bad after
all, perhapds." Your Hun officer is ever a cold-blooded reckoner, and
one of the reasons he is so useful is that he never lets sentiment blur
his perspective.

From various things heard and seen in the course of that hurried night
visit of inspection to Tondern it would have been possible to piece out
a fairly accurate picture of how the great raid must have appeared to
the Germans stationed there at the time. It will be better, however, to
set down a brief _résumé_ of the connected account I heard at Nordholz
from Von Butlar, Germany's most famous surviving airship pilot, who
had, as will be seen, good reason for remembering what occurred on that
eventful morning.

[Illustration: BIRD'S-EYE VIEW OF KIEL]

[Illustration: IN KIEL DOCKYARD]

Von Butlar's[2] chief claim to distinction is his notable long-distance
flights, the most remarkable of which was in connection with an attempt
to carry medical supplies to General Von Letow in German East Africa.
The German European forces there were being decimated by malaria at
the time, and Von Letow had sent word by wireless that unless a supply
of quinine reached him by a certain date he would be unable to carry
on. As this campaign was diverting far too much British effort for the
Germans to let it come to an end while any card still remained to be
played, it was decided to make an attempt to send relief by Zeppelin.
A rendezvous was arranged, and after some delay an airship, under Von
Butlar's command, was dispatched from a station in Bulgaria, the nearest
practicable point from which a start could be made. The delay alone
caused the failure of the boldly conceived project, for, flying without
a hitch of any kind, Von Butlar had already crossed the Mediterranean,
Lower and Upper Egypt, and was well over the Sudan when Von Letow
informed him by wireless that the British had occupied the point where
he was to have landed, and that, as it was not practicable to rendezvous
with him in a sufficiently open region elsewhere, it would be best for
him to return home. This remarkable feat was successfully accomplished,
Von Butlar bringing his airship safely to earth at a point on the
Turkish shores of the Black Sea.

      [2] Since returning to England I have received information
          which, while confirming the fact that he commanded "L-59"
          when it was commissioned, makes it probable that Von
          Butlar was transferred to another Zeppelin before the
          East African flight was attempted. A pilot by the name
          of Bugholz is believed to have been in command on that
          occasion. Although Von Butlar's representation of himself
          as the hero of the remarkable African flight appears to
          have been a case of pure "swank," there is every reason
          to believe that his account of the Tondern raid is
          substantially correct.--L. R. F.

A scarcely less remarkable flight was one in which Von Butlar claimed
to have crossed the North Sea to near the Yorkshire coast, to have
passed north in sight of Rosyth, Invergordon, and Scapa Flow, to have
flown across to Norway, gaining useful information respecting convoy
and patrol movements, and back to his home station at Tondern or
Nordholz. The Admiralty, which had some information about this latter
flight, had credited Von Butlar with having been in the air 104 hours,
but he assured several members of the Commission that the actual time
was little short of six days. He also claimed to have taken a useful
photograph of the Grand Fleet at anchor at Scapa Flow.

At the time of the Tondern raid, Von Butlar was flying from there,
one of the two Zeppelins destroyed being that which he commanded. As
he speaks little, if any, English, the following account is a free
translation of the story he related to us in German of what occurred on
that occasion. "We always recognized," he said, "from the time that we
learned that the British were developing swift flying-machine carriers,
that Tondern was especially vulnerable to an attack of this kind, and we
prepared against it as best we could. We had expected, however, that it
would come in the form of a raid by seaplanes, which would, of course,
have been comparatively heavy and slow, and which would have had to
return to the sea to land, and against these our defence would probably
have been effective. Where we deceived ourselves was in underrating the
risks that your men were willing to take, such as, for instance, that
of landing in the sea in an ordinary aeroplane on the chance of being
picked up in the comparatively short time such a machine will float."

"We were not prepared for such a raid at any time, but especially at
the moment at which it occurred. We had had a protecting flight of
light fighting aeroplanes at Tondern, but the landing ground had never
been properly levelled. There had been many accidents, and a number of
the machines were always disabled. This trouble became so bad toward
the middle of last summer that it was finally decided to withdraw the
protecting flight, which was badly needed at the moment elsewhere, until
the landing ground had been improved. As usual, your Admiralty seem to
have learned of this within a few hours and to have decided to take
advantage of it at once. From the way your machines were flying when
they appeared, I am practically certain that they felt sure of being
opposed by nothing worse than gun-fire.

"We received warning, of course, when the raiding planes were still
over the sea, but, unless some of the machines at once sent up from the
coastal stations could stop them, there was nothing for us to do but to
give them the warmest reception we could with the anti-aircraft guns, in
which we were fairly strong. Our gunners were well trained, and if your
planes had kept high, as they would have done if they had been expecting
a strong attack by a superior force of protecting machines, they would
most probably have been prevented from doing much harm, instead of just
about wiping the station off the map, as they did.

"When we had the warning, most of those without special duties went to
the _abri_, which had been provided at all stations for use in case of
raids. But I was so concerned over the danger to my own ship that I
remained outside. It was quite light by the time they appeared. At first
they were flying high, but while they were still small specks I saw
them begin to plane down, as though following a pre-arranged plan. It
was all over in a minute or two after that. Part of them headed for one
shed and part for the other. Diving with their engines all out--or so it
seemed--they came over with the combined speed from their drop and the
pull of their propellers. Down they came, till they seemed to be going
to ram the sheds. Then, one after another, they flattened out and passed
lengthwise over their targets at a height of about forty metres, kicking
loose bombs as they went.

"Our guns simply had no chance at all with them. In fact, one of the
guns came pretty near to getting knocked out itself. It was so reckless
a piece of work that I couldn't help noticing it, even while my own
airship was beginning to burst into flames. One of the pilots, it seems,
must have found that he had a bomb or two left at about the same time he
spotted the position of one of the guns that was firing at him. Banking
steeply, round he came, dived straight at the battery, letting go a bomb
as his sight came on when he was no more than fifteen metres above it.
Then he waved his hand and dashed off after the other machines, which
were already scattering to avoid the German planes beginning to converge
on them from all directions. It was one of the finest examples of nerve
I ever saw.

"The precaution we had taken of opening the doors of the main shed saved
it from total destruction, for the airships, instead of exploding,
only burned comparatively slowly; but Tondern, as an air station, had
practically ceased to exist from that moment."



VIII

THROUGH THE CANAL TO THE BALTIC


The _Hercules_ and her four escorting destroyers (the latter having been
scattered during the last few days to various ports and air stations in
connection with the inspection being pushed all along the German North
Sea coast) were to have rendezvoused at Brunsbüttel by dark of the 10th,
in order to be ready to start through the Kiel Canal at daybreak the
following morning. At the appointed time, however, only the _Viceroy_,
which had pushed through that morning with the "air" party en route to
the Zeppelin station at Tondern, was on hand. The _Hercules_, which had
got under weigh from Wilhelmshaven during the forenoon, reported that
she had been compelled to anchor off the Elbe estuary on account of
the thickness of the fog, and the _Verdun_, coming on from her visit
to Borkum and Heligoland, had been delayed from a similar cause. The
_Vidette_ and _Venetia_, which were helping the "shipping" and "warship"
parties get around the harbours of Bremen and Hamburg, signalled that
their work was still uncompleted and that they would have to proceed
later to Kiel "on their own."

Returning to Brunsbüttel from the Tondern visit well along toward
midnight, the absence of the _Hercules_ compelled the four of us who
had made that arduous journey in the _Viceroy_ (the accommodations in
the "V's" appear to be as elastic as the good nature of their officers
is boundless), to spend the night aboard, and the impossibility of
rejoining our own ships in the morning was responsible for the fact
that we continued with her--the first British destroyer to pass through
the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal--on to Kiel. It was a passage as memorable as
historic.

An improving visibility toward morning enabled the _Hercules_ to get
under weigh again before daybreak, and in the first grey light of the
winter dawn she came nosing past us and on up to the entrance of the
canal. At each end of the latter there are two locks--lying side by
side--for both "outgoing" and "incoming" ships. The right-side one of
the "incoming" pair was reserved for the _Hercules_, while the other was
kept clear for the _Regensburg_--flying Admiral Goette's flag--and the
two British destroyers. The difference in level between the canal and
the waters of the Elbe, varying considerably with the tide, is only a
few feet at most, and the locking through, as a consequence, only the
matter of minutes.

The _Hercules_ and _Regensburg_ were already in their respective locks
as the _Viceroy_, with the _Verdun_ half a cable's length astern, came
gliding up out of the fog, the former already beginning to show her
great bulk above the side as she lifted with the in-pouring water. The
attention of the score or so of Germans standing on the wall between
the locks was centred, not on the _Hercules_, as one might have
expected, but on the _Regensburg_, the most of them being gathered in a
gesticulative group abreast the latter's bow. The reason for this we saw
presently.

[Illustration: H. M. S. "VICEROY" ENTERING KIEL CANAL LOCK AT
BRUNSBÜTTEL]

The handling of the British destroyers on this occasion was one of the
smartest things of the kind I ever saw. Indeed, under the circumstances,
"spectacular" is a fitter word to describe it than "smart." Without
reducing the speed of her engines by a revolution, the _Viceroy_
continued right on into the narrow water-lane of the lock at the same
pace as she had approached its entrance. Certainly she was doing ten
knots, and probably a good bit over that. On into the still more
restricted space between the _Regensburg_ and the right side of the
dock she drove, while the waterside loafers--scenting a smash--grinned
broadly in anticipation of the humiliation of the Englanders. Straight
at the loftily looming lock gate she drove, and I remember distinctly
seeing men who were crossing the canal on the bridge made by the folded
flaps break into a run to avoid the imminent crash. And she never did
slow down; she _stopped_. While there was still a score of yards to
go the captain threw the engine-room telegraph over to "Stop!" and
"Half-Speed Astern!" and, straining like a dog in leash as the reversed
propellers killed her headway, stop she did. The superlative _finesse_
of the thing (for they had seen something before of the handling of
ships in narrow places) fairly swept the gathering dock-side vultures
off their feet with astonishment, and one little knot of sailors all but
broke into a cheer. Then the _Verdun_ came dashing up and repeated the
same spectacular manoeuvre in our wake; only, instead of bringing up a
few feet short of the lock gates, it was the stern of the _Viceroy_,
with its festoon of poised depth-charges, that her axe-like bow backed
away from after nosing up close enough to sniff, if not to scratch, the
paint.

"You've impressed the Huns right enough, sir," I remarked to the captain
as he rang down, "Finished with the Engines," and turned to descend the
ladder of the bridge; "but wasn't it just a bit--"

"Yes, it was rather slow," he cut in apologetically in answer to what
he thought I was going to say; "but I didn't dare to take any chances
of coming a cropper in strange waters. Now, if it had been the 'Pen' at
Rosyth, we might have shown them what one of the little old 'V's' can do
when it comes to a pinch."

At the time I thought he was joking--that I had seen the extreme limit
that morning of the "handiness" of the modern destroyer. But the
_Viceroy_, astonishing as that performance had been, still had something
up her sleeve. A week later, in the fog-shrouded entrance to Kiel Fiord,
where a slip would have been a good deal more serious matter than the
telescoping of a bow on a lock gate, I saw how much.

From the vantage of the bridge I saw, just before descending for
breakfast, what it had been that had deflected the attention of the
lock-side loafers from the _Hercules_ to the _Regensburg_. That most
graceful of light cruisers had paid the penalty of being left with a
most disgraceful crew. _She_ had rammed the lock gate full and square,
and--from the look of her bows--while she still had a good deal of way
on. We had remarked especially the trim lissomeness of those bows when
she met us off the Jade on the day the _Hercules_ arrived in German
waters. And now the sharp stem was bent several feet to port, while
all back along her "flare" the buckled plating heaved in undulant
corrugations like the hide on the neck of an old bull rhino. As it was
the kind of repair that would take a month or more in dock to effect,
there was nothing for the Germans to do but go on using her as she was.
Luckily, she did not appear to be making much water. She followed us
through the canal without difficulty, and--as the days when she would
be called on to shake out her thirty knots were gone for ever--it is
probable that she served Admiral Goette as well for a flagship as any
other of her undamaged sisters would have. But they were never able to
smooth out her "brow of care" during all our stay in German waters;
indeed, I shall be greatly surprised if (to use the expressive term I
heard a bluejacket in the _Viceroy_ apply to it that morning) she does
not come poking that "cauliflower nose" in front of her when she is
finally handed over for internment at Scapa.

Although they would be dwarfed beside such great structures as the Pedro
Miguel or Gatun locks of the Panama Canal, the locks at Brunsbüttel
are fine solid works, displaying on every hand evidences of the great
attention which had been given to providing for their rapid operation
under pressure, as when the High Sea Fleet was being rushed through
from the Baltic to the North Sea. Having been enlarged primarily to
"double the strength of the German Fleet," expense had not mattered in
the way it would have had the canal been expected to justify itself
commercially. The merchant traffic of the waterway for many years to
come would not have demanded the double locks at either end; but naval
exigencies called for speedy operation at any cost, and they were built.

Everything about the locks was in extremely good repair. Even the great
agate and onyx mosaic of the name KAISER WILHELM KANAL, set between
the double-headed eagles of the Imperial arms, was swept and polished
to display it to best advantage. The locks were only the front window
display, however, for the badly eroded banks of the canal itself
testified to the same lack of maintenance as the railways were suffering
from. As our pilot reported that the revolutionists had spent the
night obliterating all the Imperial names--such as _Kaiserstrasse_ and
_Kronprintzstrasse_--in Brunsbüttel, one felt safe in assuming that the
gaudy mosaic on the lock wall had been furbished as a decoration, not as
a symbol.

The _Hercules_, having been raised to the proper level, was locked
out into the canal, along which she proceeded at the steady six-knot
speed laid down as the limit not to be exceeded by ships of her size.
Although of considerably less displacement than a number of the largest
of the German capital ships, she was of greater draught than any of
these, and even the burning of several hundred tons of coal in the
voyage from Rosyth still left her drawing slightly more than the thirty
odd feet that the German naval command had set as the limit. This had
been figured out in advance, however, and an oiling all round of the
destroyers before leaving Wilhelmshaven had brought her up just the few
inches necessary to making the passage without inflicting injury to
herself or to the canal.

The _Hercules_ had traversed about a mile of the canal before the
_Viceroy_ was locked out to follow in her wake, and something like that
interval was preserved throughout most of the passage. The _Verdun_
kept about a quarter of a mile astern of the _Viceroy_, with the
_Regensburg_--but so far back as to be out of sight--bringing up the
rear. Two squat patrol launches--one on either quarter, a couple of
hundred yards astern--followed the _Hercules_ all the way, but for just
what purpose we could not make out.

For the first few miles the country on either side of the canal was
of the same low-lying nature as that through which all of our railway
journeys from Wilhelmshaven had been made. Ditched and dyked marshland
alternated with stretches of bog and broad sheets of stagnant water
where the drainage system had proved unequal to carrying off the
overflow in the inundations following the winter rains. Cultivation was
at a standstill here, probably until the water-logged soil dried out in
the spring. Like the East Frisian peninsula, the region was essentially
a grazing rather than an agricultural one, and the farmers were paying
the penalty of having broken up grassland that was only dry enough for
cultivation during a few months of the year. Cattle were scarce, sheep
scarcer, and such of the inhabitants as were visible around the dismal
farmsteads had the dull, purposeless air of people with nothing to do
and plenty of time to do it in.

[Illustration: SEMAPHORE STATION ON KIEL CANAL, FROM "HERCULES"]

As we fared inland only the gradually heightening banks told that the
country was increasing in elevation. Ponds and bogs were still frequent,
and it was not until the first low hills were reached that there
appeared to be enough drainage for the land to shake itself free of
water. Here the country took on a more cheerful aspect, due principally
to the fact that the people, many of whom were working, seemed less
"bogged down"--mentally and physically--than their countrymen in the
water-logged areas near the sea. Most of them were capable of
recognizing us as Allied warships (something which few of the others
appeared to have done), and when this had sunk home they usually hurried
down to the bank of the canal for a closer view. Most of these isolated
farming people were undemonstrative, and it was not until the more
sophisticated inhabitants of the villages and towns were encountered
that women and children were seen to wave their hands and men to doff
their hats and bow. Most of the population, both agricultural and
industrial, is found toward the Kiel rather than the Brunsbüttel end of
the canal.

At one point we came upon two men and a girl feverishly engaged in
skinning a horse, which appeared to have dropped dead in the furrow.
Or rather, they had already skinned it and were busy cutting up the
carcass. Watching through my glass from the bridge of the _Viceroy_, I
saw all three of them rush helter-skelter over a hill and out of sight
as the _Hercules_ came abreast of them, only to hurry back and resume
their grisly work when she had disappeared around a bend just ahead.
When they again took to their heels on sighting the _Viceroy_, I asked
the pilot what they were afraid of. The law required, he replied,
that the authorities should be notified of the death of any head of
live stock in order that the meat (in case it was deemed fit for
human consumption) should be distributed through the regular rationing
channels. These people, he thought, were in the act of stealing their
own dead horse, and doubtless their guilty consciences made them fear
they would be reported and delivered up to justice.

Since witnessing this incident I have found myself rather less inclined
to dwell in retrospect on that huge, juicy "beefsteak" I had devoured
with such gusto when it was the _pièce de résistance_ on the menu of our
luncheon at the Nordholz Zeppelin station a couple of days previously.

Through the low country the construction of the canal had evidently been
only a matter of dredging, but the multiplication in size and number of
the "dumps" as the elevation increased showed that there had been places
where digging on an extensive scale had been necessary, especially in
connection with the widening and deepening operations. The fact that
most of the "dumps" appeared to consist of earth of a very loose and
sandy nature, some of them so much so that they had been planted thickly
with young trees to prevent their being shifted by the winds, showed
that the excavation problem had been a comparatively simple one, more of
the nature of that at Suez than Panama, where so much of the way had to
be blasted through solid rock.

The looseness of the earth had made it necessary to cut the banks at as
low an angle as forty-five degrees in places to prevent caving, and at
these points the under-water part of the channel was faced with roughly
cut stone to minimize erosion. As this work was only carried a few feet
above the surface of the water, it required but slight speed on the
part of a large ship to produce a wave high enough to splash over on to
the unprotected earth and bring it down in slides. This had doubtless
happened very often in the course of the frequent shuttling to and fro
of the High Sea Fleet, for the stonework was heavily undermined in many
places, with few signs to indicate that much had been done in the way of
repairs.

Except in the locks (and even there the concrete was cracking badly in
places, particularly at the Kiel end), the canal shows many evidences
of the haste of its construction and the serious deterioration it has
suffered from heavy use and poor maintenance. It will require much money
and labour to put it in proper condition, and neither of these is likely
to be over plentiful in Germany for some years to come.

Our first glimpse of Allied prisoners in their "natural habitat"
occurred at a point about twenty miles inland from Brunsbüttel, where
a new and very lofty railway viaduct was being thrown across the
canal. The extensive groups of huts along the bank in the shadow of
the half-completed final span of steel looked, from the distance, like
ordinary workmen's quarters. As we drew nearer, however, broad belts of
barbed wire surrounding those on the right side suggested that they were
used as a prison camp even before our glasses had revealed the motley
clad group on the bank waving to the _Hercules_. As the _Viceroy_ came
abreast the excited and constantly augmenting crowd, we saw that the
uniforms were mostly French and Russian, though there were three or
four men in the grey of Italy and at least one with the unmistakable
cap of the Serbs. A hulking chap in khaki, whom I was making the object
of an especially close scrutiny on the chance that he might be British
or American, put an end to doubt by slapping his chest resoundingly and
announcing proudly, "_Je suis Belge!_" From the fact that they were all
in good spirits, we took it that they were getting enough to eat and
that prospects for repatriation were favourable.

We had quite given up hope of sighting any British when suddenly, from
behind a barbed-wire barrier fencing off the last groups of huts, rang
out a cry of "'Ow's ol'Blighty?" Sweeping my glass round to the quarter
from whence the query came, I focussed on a phiz which, despite its
mask of lather, I should have recognized as Cockney just as surely in
Korea or Katmandu as on the banks of the Kiel Canal. Waving his brush
jauntily in response to the salvo of delighted howls boomed out by the
bluejackets lining the starboard rail, he turned back to the little
pocket mirror on the side of the hut and resumed his interrupted shave.

"Can you beat that, I ask you?" gasped an American Flying officer who
had just clambered up to the bridge. "Here it is the first time that
'Tommy' has seen his country's flag in anywhere from one to four years;
and yet, even when he must know he could get a lift home for the asking,
all he does is to--go on scraping his face! I say, can you beat it?"

The captain did not reply, but his indulgent grin indicated a
sympathetic understanding of "British repressiveness."

But if this particular "Tommy" had been somewhat casual in his greeting,
there was nothing to complain of on that score in the reception given
us by the next British prisoners we encountered, a few miles further
along. The incident--one of the most dramatic of the visit--occurred
just after the _Hercules_ had passed under the great railway viaduct
which crosses the canal almost midway between Brunsbüttel and Kiel.
Wherever practicable, I might explain, all railways have been carried
across the canal at a height sufficient to allow even the lofty topmasts
of the German warships to pass under by a comfortable margin. Not one
of the several viaducts runs much under two hundred feet above the
canal, and to attain this height at an easy grade long approaches
have been necessary. Some of these--partly steel trestle, partly
embankment--stretched beyond eyescope to left and right; but at the
viaduct in question the ascent was made by means of two great spiral
loops at either end.

A segment of the loop on the left ran close beside the canal in the form
of a steep embankment, and as the _Hercules_ glided under the viaduct
I saw (we had closed up to within a few hundred yards of her at the
time) a long train of passenger cars, drawn by two puffing engines, just
beginning the heavy climb. Suddenly I caught the flash of what I took to
be a red flag being wildly waved from one of the car windows, and I was
just starting to tell the captain that we were about to pass a trainload
of revolutionaries when the gust of a mighty cheer swept along the
waters to us and set the radio aerials ringing above my head.

"You can't tell me that's a 'Bolshie' yell," observed the American
officer decisively. "Nothing but Yanks or Tommies could cough up a roar
like that, believe me."

Then I saw that all the canal-ward sides of the dozen or more coaches
were wriggling with khaki arms and shoulders (for all the world as
though a great two-hundred-yard-long centipede had been pinned up there
and left to squirm), and that what I had taken for the red flag of
anarchy was only the mass effect of a number of fluttering bandannas.
Again and again they cheered the _Hercules_ and the White Ensign, with a
fresh salvo for the _Viceroy_, which they sighted just before the curve
of the loop the train was ascending cut off their view of the canal.
That was all we ever heard or saw of them. We were never even sure
whether they were British or American. We felt certain, however, that
the fact that most of them were still in khaki indicated that their stay
in the "Land of Kultur" had not been a long one, and, moreover, that
they were already on the first leg of their journey home.

Prisoners working on the land--mostly Russian--were more and more in
evidence as we neared the Kiel end of the canal. The majority of them
still wore their army uniforms, but otherwise there was little to
differentiate them--a short distance away at least--from the native
peasant labour. None of them appeared to be under guard, and in many
places they were working side by side with German farm hands of both
sexes. At a number of points I saw Russians lounging indolently in
groups consisting mostly of Germans (several of which included women)
that had gathered along the banks of the canal to watch us pass, and two
or three times I observed unmistakable Russian prisoners (or perhaps
ex-prisoners) walking arm-in-arm and apparently in animated conversation
with German girls. They seem quite to have taken root in the country.
Indeed, the pilot of the _Viceroy_ for the first half of the passage
through the canal--he was a Schleswig man, strongly Danish in appearance
and probably in sympathies--assured me that the Germans had had the
greatest difficulty in getting Russian prisoners to leave the country
at all, and that there had been frequent "desertions" from trains and
boats whenever it had been attempted. This may well have been true,
though--with labour in Germany as much in demand as it was throughout
the war--I doubt very much if a great deal in the way of repatriation of
Russians had ever been attempted.

[Illustration: KIEL DOCKYARD FROM THE HARBOR]

With the towns and villages increasing in size and number as we came
to the fertile rolling country toward the Baltic end of the canal,
evidences multiplied that the population expected our coming and
that, directly or indirectly, they had been instructed to adopt a
"conciliatory" bearing. In the farming region toward the North Sea end
their bearing had been more suggestive of indifference than anything
else; but in the crowds that came down to line the railed "promenades"
along the banks an ingratiating attitude was at once apparent. Some of
these people, of course, were of Danish extraction and probably sincere,
especially a number who waved their hands from well inside their
doorways, as though to avoid being observed by their neighbours; but for
the most part it was the same nauseating exhibition we had already seen
repeated so often at railway stations all over the North Sea littoral.

The only individual we saw in the whole passage who thoroughly convinced
me of his sincerity was a bloated ruffian who hailed us from the stern
of the barge he had edged into a ferry slip to give us room to pass.
"Go back to England, you English swine!" he roared to the accompaniment
of a lewd gesture. We learned later that he gave both the _Hercules_
and _Verdun_ the same peremptory orders. Yes, he was quite sincere,
that old bargee, and for that reason I have always thought more kindly
of him than of all the rest of his grimacing brethren and sistern we
saw along the canal that day. A spectacled student (though it is quite
possible he was trying to put the same sentiment in politer language)
was rather less convincing. "English gentlemen," he cried, drawing his
loose-jointed frame up to its full height and glaring at the bridge of
the _Viceroy_ from under his peaked cap, "why do you come here?" That
may have been intended for a protest, or, again, he may merely have been
"swanking" his linguistic accomplishments.

The bluejackets were splendid. There were places--notably at several
industrial establishments where crowds of rather "on-coming" girls in
trousers exerted their blonde witcheries to the full in endeavours to
"start something"--when the least sign of friendliness from the ship
would have undoubtedly been met with loud acclaim. But not a British
hand did I see lifted in response to the hundreds waved from the banks,
while many a simpering grin died out as the moon-face behind it passed
under the steady stare of the imperturbable _matelots_ lining the rails
of the steadily steaming warships.

The length of the Kiel Canal is just under a hundred kilometres (about
sixty miles), so that--at the speed of ten kilometres an hour to which
we were limited--the passage required about ten hours, exclusive of
the time spent in locking in and out. As it was an hour after dawn
when we began the passage at Brunsbüttel, the short winter day was not
long enough to make it possible to reach the other end in daylight.
By five o'clock darkness had begun to settle over the waters, and the
grey mists, piling ever thicker in the narrow notch between the hills,
deepened through violet to purple before taking on the black opacity
of the curtain of the night. Then the lights came on--parallel rows of
incandescents narrowing to mist-softened wedges of blurred brightness
ahead and astern--and we continued cleaving our easy effortless way
through the ebony water.

The blank squares of lighted villa windows heralded the approach to
Kiel; then factories, black, still, and stagnant, with the tracery of
overhead cranes and the bulk of tall chimneys showing dimly through the
mists; then the locks. As the difference between the canal level and the
almost tideless Baltic is only a matter of inches, locking-out was even
a more expeditious operation than locking in from the Elbe at the other
end. There was just time to note that the "_Kaiser Wilhelm_" mosaic,
there as at Brunsbüttel, had been scrubbed up bright and clean, when the
gates ahead folded inward and the way into the Baltic was open. Half an
hour later, after steaming slowly across a harbour past many moored
warships, we were tying up alongside the _Hercules_, where she had come
to anchor a mile off Kiel dockyard.

       *       *       *       *       *

The fog lifted during the night, and for an hour or two the following
morning there were even signs that our long-lost friend, the sun, was
struggling to show his face through the sinister shoals of cumulo-nimbus
banked frowningly across the south-eastern heavens. It was evident
dirty weather was brewing, but for the moment Kiel and its harbour were
revealed in all their loveliness. Completely land-locked from the open
Baltic, the beautiful little fiord disclosed a different prospect in
whichever direction one turned his eyes. The famous _Kaiserliche_ Yacht
Club was close at hand over the port quarter of the _Hercules_, with a
villa-bordered strand opening away to the right. The airy filagree of
lofty cranes revealed the location of what had been Europe's greatest
naval dockyard, while masses of red roofs disclosed the heart of Kiel
itself. Heavily wooded hills, still green, rippled along the skyline
on the opposite side of the fiord, with snug little bays running back
into them at frequent intervals as they billowed away toward the Baltic
entrance. Singularly attractive even in winter, it must have been a
veritable yachtsman's paradise in summer. Recalling the marshes and bogs
of the Jade, I marvelled at the restraint of the German naval officer
whom I had heard say that he and his wife "much _preferred_ Kiel to
Wilhelmshaven."

The warships in the harbour proved far less impressive by daylight
than at night. Looming up through the mists in the darkness, they had
suggested the presence of a formidable fleet. Now they appeared as
obsolete hulks, from several of which even the guns had been removed.
There was not a modern capital ship left in Kiel; in fact, the only
warship of any class which could fairly lay claim to that designation
was the _Regensburg_, which had managed to push her broken nose through
the canal and was now lying inshore of us, apparently alongside some
sort of quay or dock. The most interesting naval craft (if such a term
could be applied to it) in sight was a floating submarine dock, anchored
a cable's length on the port beam of the _Hercules_, but even that--as
was proved on inspection--was far from being the latest thing of its
kind.

The British ships were the object of a good deal of interest, especially
during the first few hours of the day while the fog held off. Various
and sundry small craft put off with parties to size us up at close
range, amongst these--significant commentary on the fact that at every
one of the conferences, including the one held that very day, the
Germans had advanced "petrol shortage" as the reason why cars could
not be provided to reach this or that station--being a number of motor
launches. As all of these seemed to be in the hands of white-banded
sailors or dockyard "mateys," the inference might have been drawn that
the petrol used was not under the control of the naval authorities;
but so many of the other "reasons," advanced to discourage, if not to
obstruct, inspections which the Germans, for one reason or another, did
not want to have made turned out to be fictitious, that one was tempted
to believe that "the absolute lack of petrol" was on all fours with them.

Most of these excursion parties kept at a respectful distance, but there
was one launch-load of men and girls from the docks, which persisted in
circling close to the ships, and even in coming up under the stern of
the _Hercules_, and offering to exchange cap ribbons. The two-word reply
of one of the bluejackets to these overtures would hardly do to print,
but its effect was crushing. Nothing but poor steering prevented that
launch from taking the shortest course back to the dockyard landing.

[Illustration: FORESHORE OF KIEL HARBOR WITH THE KAISERLICH YACHT CLUB
AT LEFT OF GROVE OF TREES]

The German Naval Armistice Commission which came off to the
_Hercules_ at Kiel to discuss arrangements for inspection in the Baltic
differed from that at Wilhelmshaven only in a few of the subordinate
members. Rear-Admiral Goette continued to preside, with the tall,
blonde Von Müller, of the first _Emden_, and the shifty, pasty-faced
Hinzmann, of the General Staff at Berlin, as his chief advisers.
Commander Lohmann still presided over the German sub-commission for
shipping, but there was a new officer in charge of "air" arrangements.
This latter individual, who proved to be one of the most "Hunnish" Huns
we encountered anywhere, I shall have something to say of in the next
chapter.

That the German Commission had been "stiffened" under the influence of
new forces in Kiel was evident from the opening of the conference; in
fact, a good part of this opening Baltic sitting was devoted to reducing
them to the same state of "sweet reasonableness" in which they had risen
from the closing sitting at Wilhelmshaven. One of the most astonishing
of their contentions arose in connection with three unsurrendered
U-boats, which had been discovered in the course of warship inspection
at Wilhelmshaven. Asked when these might be expected ready to proceed
to Harwich, Admiral Goette replied that his Government did not
consider themselves under obligation to deliver the boats at all. The
justification advanced for this remarkable stand constituted one of the
most delightful instances of characteristic Hun reasoning that developed
in the course of the visit. This was the gist of it: "We agreed to
deliver all U-boats in condition to proceed to sea in the first fourteen
days of the armistice," contended the Germans; "but--although we don't
deny that they _should_ have been delivered in that period--the fact
that they _were not_ so delivered releases us from our obligation to
deliver them now. As evidence of our good faith, however, we propose
that the vessels in question be disarmed and remain in German ports."

The Germans had so thoroughly convinced themselves that this fantastic
interpretation would be accepted by the Allied Commission that Admiral
Goette did not consider himself able to concede Admiral Browning's
demand (that the three submarines should be surrendered at once) without
referring the matter back to Berlin. Definite settlement, indeed, was
not arrived at until the final conference nearly a week later, and in
that time news had been brought of several score U-boats completed, or
nearing completion, in the yards of the Elbe and the Weser.

There was no phase of the Allied Commission's activities which some
endeavour was not made to obstruct or circumscribe in the course of
this opening session at Kiel. The German sub-commission for shipping
reported that their Government did not feel called upon to grant the
claim of the Allies for the return of vessels seized as prizes; the
inability to arrange for special trains and the lack of petrol would
make it impossible to reach certain air stations by land, while, so far
as the experiment station at Warnemünde was concerned, the armistice did
not give the Allies the right to visit it at all; as for the Great Belt
forts, they were already disarmed, and really not worth the trouble of
inspecting anyway.

And so it went through some hours, the upshot of it being that the
Germans, as at Wilhelmshaven, "vowing they would ne'er consent,
consented." Merchant ship inspection began that afternoon, continuing
throughout the remainder of the stay at Kiel as one steamer after
another came in from this or that Baltic port and dropped anchor. The
following day search of the numerous old warships was started, and the
day after that word came that the way had even been cleared for the
inspection of the great experimental seaplane station at Warnemünde. For
the first time there was promise that the work of the Commission would
be completed within the period of the original armistice.



IX

TO WARNEMÜNDE AND RÜGEN


There had been a half-mile or more of visibility when we got under weigh
at eight o'clock, but in the mouth of Kiel Fiord a solid wall of fog
was encountered, behind the impenetrable pall of which all objects more
than a few yards ahead were completely cut off. The mist-muffled wails
of horns and whistles coughed eerily in the depths of the blank smother
to port and starboard, and once the beating of a bucket or saucepan
heralded the spectre of a "bluff lee-boarded fishing lugger" as the bare
steerage way imparted by its flapping yellow mainsail carried it clear
of the _Viceroy's_ sharp stem.

Three or four more units of that same fatalistic fishing fleet had been
missed by equally narrow margins when, looming high above us as they
sharpened out of the fog, appeared the bulging bows of what looked to be
a large merchantman. At the same instant, too late by many seconds to be
of any use as a warning, the snort of a deep-toned whistle ripped out in
response to the querulous shriek of our own syren.

When two ships, steaming on opposite courses at something like ten
knots, meet in a fog the usual result is a collision, and nothing but
the quick-wittedness of the captain of the _Viceroy_ prevented one on
this occasion. The stranger, in starboarding his helm, bared a long
expanse of rusty paunch for the nose of the destroyer to bury itself
in, as a sword-fish stabs a whale, and that is what must inevitably
have happened--with disastrous consequences to both vessels in all
probability--had the _Viceroy_ also attempted to avoid collision by
turning to port. Realizing this with a sure judgment, the captain fell
back on an alternative which would hardly have been open to him with a
destroyer less powerfully built and engined than the latest "V's." I
have already told how, in the lock at Brunsbüttel, he had stopped his
ship dead, just short of the gates, by going astern with the engines at
the proper moment. Here, in scarcely more time than it takes to tell
it, he not only stopped her dead but had her backing (at constantly
accelerating speed) away from the slowly turning merchantman. The jar
(followed by a prolonged throbbing) was almost as sharp as when the
air-brakes are set on the wheels of a speeding express, and the outraged
wake of her, like the back of a cat whose fur has been rubbed the wrong
way, arched in a tumbling fountain high above her quivering stern. But
back she went, and so gave the burly freighter room to blunder by in.

There was just time to note her high bulwarks, two or three
suspicious-looking superstructures (which one's passing acquaintance
with "Q" boats suggested as possibly masking guns), and a folded
seaplane housed on the poop, before the menacing apparition thinned and
melted into the fog as suddenly as it had appeared.

"I think that ship is the _Wolf_," volunteered the pilot, watching
with side-cast eyes the effects of the announcement. "You will perhaps
remember it as the great raider of the Indian Ocean."

The captain looked up quickly from the chart as though about to say
something; then thought better of it, and, with a wistful smile, turned
back to his study of the channel. I had seen him smile resignedly like
that a few days previously off the Elbe estuary when a speeding widgeon,
whose line of flight had promised to carry it right over the forecastle,
had sheered off without giving him a shot. What he had said on that
occasion was, "Hang the blighter; another chance missed!"

Going aft to breakfast, I was hailed by Korvettenkapitän M---- (the
officer commanding all Baltic air stations who was accompanying us to
Warnemünde and Rügen), warming himself at the engine-room hatchway, and
informed that the ship just sighted was "the famous raider, _Moewe_,
that has been so many times through the English blockade." It was he
that was correct, as it turned out. We found the _Moewe_ anchored three
or four cables' lengths on the port bow of the _Hercules_ when we
returned to Kiel the following evening.

They were two thoroughly typical specimens of their kind, the pilot and
the flight commander, so much so that either would have been pounced
on with delight by a cartoonist looking for a model for a figure of
"Hun Brutality." The former claimed to have served most of the war
in U-boats, and from the fact that he was only a "one-striper," one
reckoned that he was a promoted rating of some kind. He was tall, dark,
and powerful of build, with hard black eyes glowering from under bushy
brows. He talked of his submarine exploits with the greatest gusto,
among these being (according to his claim) the launching of the torpedo
which damaged the _Sussex_. It is possible that he was quite as useful a
U-boat officer as he said he was (for he looked fully capable of doing
a number of the things one had heard of U-boat officers doing); but he
turned out, as the sequel proved, only an indifferent pilot.

The flight officer is easiest described by saying that he was like what
one would imagine Hindenburg to have been at thirty-five or thereabouts.
The resemblance to the great Field-Marshal was physical only, for
the anti-type, far from having the "bluff, blunt fighter" air of the
former, was a subtle intriguer of the highest order. Just how "subtle"
he was may be judged from the fact that within ten minutes of coming
aboard that morning he had drawn one of the British officers aside to
warn him of the menace to England in Wilson's "fourteen points," and
that, a quarter of an hour after the snub this kindly advice won him,
he had cornered one of the American officers to bid him beware of the
inevitable attack his country must very soon expect from England and
Japan.

[Illustration: "HINDY" (LEFT) AND GERMAN PILOT WHO CLAIMED TO HAVE
LAUNCHED THE TORPEDO WHICH DAMAGED THE "SUSSEX"]

A half-hour more "by luck and lead" took us out of the fog, and an
almost normal visibility made it possible for the _Viceroy_ to increase
to her "economic" cruising speed of seventeen knots. The red roofs of
the summer hotels along Warnemünde's waterfront began pushing above the
horizon a little after noon, and by one we were heading in to where
the mouth of a broad canal opened up behind a long stone breakwater.
A large ferry steamer, flying the Danish flag, was just rounding the
end of the breakwater and turning off to the north-west, and from the
word "ARMISTICE" painted on her sides in huge white letters we
took it she was engaged in repatriating Allied prisoners by way of
Copenhagen. As we closed her, this impression was confirmed by the sight
of two men in the unmistakable uniforms of British officers pacing
the after-deck arm-in-arm. Surprised that they appeared to be taking
no notice of the _Viceroy_, with the White Ensign at her stern doing
its best to flap them a message of encouragement, I raised my glass
and scanned them closely. Then the dark glasses both were wearing, and
their slow uncertain steps, at once suggested the sad explanation of
their indifference. There was no doubt the sight of both was seriously
affected, and that they were probably hardly able more than to feel
their way around. As nothing less than "Rule Britannia" or "God Save the
King" on the syren would have given them any hint of how things stood,
we had to pass on unrecognized.

Running a quarter of a mile up the canal, the _Viceroy_ went alongside
the wall a hundred yards above the railway station. The news of our
arrival had spread quickly in the town, and among a considerable crowd
which assembled along the waterfront were a number of British prisoners,
most of them in their khaki. Several German sailors--one or two of them
with white bands on their arms--to whom the Tommies had been talking,
kept discreetly in the background, but the latter, grinning with delight
and exchanging good-natured chaff with the bluejackets, caught our
mooring lines and helped make them fast. They looked in extremely good
condition and spirits, the consequence--as we learned presently--of
having had a considerable accumulation of prisoners' stores turned over
to them since the armistice. Beer, they said, was the only thing they
were short of, and this difficulty they seemed in a fair way to remedy
when I left with the "air" party for the seaplane station.

The great Warnemünde experiment station occupied the grounds of what
appeared to have been some kind of a pre-war industrial or agricultural
exposition. Crossing the canal in a launch, a few steps took us to and
through a somewhat pretentious entrance arch, from where it was several
hundred yards to the first of a long row of wood and steel hangars.
The Commander of the station had received us at the landing; the rest
of the officers met us in the roadway in front of the first shed to
be inspected. Evidences of the resentment they undoubtedly felt over
having to give way in the matter of the visit (it had been the German
contention that Warnemünde, not being a service station, was not liable
to inspection under the terms of the armistice) were not lacking, but
as these were mostly confined to scowling glances they did not interfere
seriously with the work in hand.

As the Allied Commission, in the conference of a couple of days
previously at Kiel, had insisted on the visit to Warnemünde on the
grounds of satisfying itself that what the Germans claimed was an
experiment station was not used for service work, inspection was limited
to the comparatively perfunctory checking over of the machines against
a list furnished in advance, seeing that they displayed no evidences
of having been used for anything more than experimental flights, and
ascertaining that they had been properly disarmed. This, as soon as
it became evident that the station was in fact quite what the Germans
had claimed it to be, was done very rapidly, the inspection of well
over a hundred machines, housed in eight or ten different sheds, being
completed within three hours.

The machines were, of course, an extremely interesting assortment,
for practically all of them were either new designs or else old ones
in process of development. There was the last word in steel pontoons,
with which the Germans have been so successful, and also a number of
the very striking all-metal _Junker_ machines, in the construction of
which wood, and even fabric, has been replaced by the light but tough
alloy called "duraluminum." One of the German officers volunteered the
information that the principal advantage of the latter over the ordinary
machine was the fact that more of it could be salved after a crash.
The fact that there was nothing to burn sometimes rendered it possible
to save an injured pilot entangled in the wreckage, where the wood
and fabric of an ordinary machine would have made him a funeral pyre.
Against these advantages, he added, stood the handicap of greater weight
and the fact that the metal wings occasionally deflected into the pilot
or petrol tank a bullet which would have passed harmlessly through wood
and fabric.

There were several of the late _Travemunde_ and _Sablatnig_ types,
medium-sized machines which, with their powerful engines and trim lines,
looked extremely useful. A large double-engined Gotha torpedo-launching
seaplane was viewed with a good deal of interest by the experts of the
party, because it was a type to the development of which it had been
expected that the Germans had given a great deal of attention. Down to
the very day of the armistice the Grand Fleet--whether at Rosyth or
Scapa--was never considered entirely free from the menace of an attack
by a flotilla of torpedo-carrying seaplanes, and it was a matter of
considerable surprise to the sub-commission for naval air stations when
it transpired in the course of their visits to the German North Sea
and Baltic bases to find a practically negligible strength in these
types. The almost prohibitive odds against getting a seaplane carrier
within striking distance of either of the Grand Fleet bases--handicap
imposed by the complete surface command of the North Sea by the
British--was undoubtedly responsible for Germany's failure to develop
a type of machine which there was little chance of finding an occasion
to use. Even this one at Warnemünde--representing as it did the latest
development of its type--was far from being equal to machines with which
the British were practising torpedo-launching a year before the end of
the war.

The most imposing exhibit at Warnemünde was a "giant" seaplane rivalling
in size the great monoplane flying boat we had seen at Norderney. The
two were so different in type that it was difficult to compare them,
though it is probable that in engine power--both of them had four
engines of from 250 to 300 horse-power each--and in wing area they were
about equal. The Warnemünde machine--which was a biplane, with two
pontoons instead of a "boat"--had a somewhat greater spread of wing,
but this must have been compensated for by the vastly greater breadth of
those of the monoplane. Superior seaworthiness had been claimed for the
latter on account of the greater height of its wings from the water when
afloat; but that was _ex parte_ evidence, and we had no chance to hear
what Warnemünde had to say in favour of _its_ pet.

An incident which occurred in connection with the inspection of the
"giant" furnished a very graphic idea of the really colossal size of it.
In order to get over it the more quickly, all of the several members
of the Allied party climbed up and took a hand in the work. Whether
the German officers thought some of the gear might be carried off by
the visitors, whether they were afraid the secrets of some of their
technical instruments might be discovered, or whether they were simply
"doing the honours of the occasion," we were never quite sure. At any
rate, up swarmed at least a dozen of them, scrambling like a crowd at
a ticket turnstile to get inside. In a jiffy they had disappeared,
swallowed completely by the capacious fuselage. Not even a head was in
sight. Only the clatter of many tongues and the clang of boots tramping
on steel plates told that close to a score of men were jostling each
other in the cavernous maw of the mighty "amphibian."

Only the Commander of the station--a somewhat porcine-looking
individual, whose rotund figure furnished ample explanation why _he_ had
not joined the scramble--and myself were left on _terra firma_. Plainly
disturbed by the thought that Germany's supreme achievement in aerial
science was passing under the eye of the enemy, he paced up and down
moodily for a minute or two and then, with clearing brow, came over and
asked me what was the horse-power of the largest "Inglisch Zeeblane."

"I really can't tell you," I replied, half angry, half amused at the
supreme cheek of the man.

"Ach, but vy will you not tell me?" he urged wheedlingly. "Der war iss
over; ve vill now have no more zeecrets. Today you see all ve haf.
Preddy soon ve come und see all you haf. There iss much ve can learn
from you, und much you can learn from us. Ve vill haf no more zeecrets."

There were several things that I wanted to say to that Hun optimist,
and it required no little restraint to pass them over and confine
myself to suggesting that he should take up the matter of the exchange
of "zeecrets" with Commander C----, the Senior Officer of-the party.
He looked at the latter (who was just descending) irresolutely once or
twice, and then, doubtless seeing nothing encouraging in the set of
Commander C---- 's lean Yankee jaw, shrugged his fat shoulders and
resumed his moody pacings. We encountered a number of eager "searchers
for knowledge" in the course of the visit, but no other that I heard of
who employed quite such a "Prussian mass tactics" style of attack as
this one.

Going from shed to shed as the inspection progressed, one noticed
at once the much greater extent to which wood had figured in their
construction than in that of those of the North Sea stations. Only
the frames were of steel, and even the fireproof asbestos sheeting
which figured so extensively in the great Zeppelin sheds had been very
sparingly employed. As this also proved to be the practice in the two
large stations we visited the next day on the island of Rügen, it
was assumed that the comparative cheapness of wood in the Baltic had
been responsible for the freedom with which it had been employed to
save steel and concrete. The inevitable penalty of this inflammable
construction had been paid at Warnemünde, where the tangled masses of
wreckage in the ruins of a burned hangar indicated that all the machines
it had contained were destroyed with the building.

When we returned to the _Viceroy_ after the inspection was over, we
found a number of British prisoners aboard as the guests of the
bluejackets. Several of them had asked for "rashers, or anything
greasy," but for tobacco and "home comforts" they appeared to be rather
better off than their hosts. The captain said that he had offered
passages back to the _Hercules_ to any that cared to go, but they had
all declined with thanks, saying that they were helping to distribute
food for other prisoners passing through Warnemünde on their way home
_viâ_ Denmark, and that they would not return home until this work was
finished. We left them without any misgivings save, perhaps, on the
score that they seemed rather too tolerant of the presence among them of
a number of white-banded German sailors.

During our absence the German harbour master had come aboard to warn
the captain that, as it was _verboten_ to use the turning basin after
five o'clock, it would be necessary for him to proceed there before
that hour. When the captain thanked him and replied that he hoped to be
able to carry on without resorting to the turning basin, the astonished
official warned him that it was highly dangerous to go out backwards,
that even the German T.B.D.'s never thought of doing so mad a thing.
The sight of the _Viceroy_ going astern at a good ten or twelve knots
straight down the middle of that half a mile or more of canal must have
been something of an eye-opener to that _Kaiserliche_ harbour master.

Passing close to the railway station on the way out we had a brief
glimpse of the sorry spectacle of a huge mass of Russian prisoners, who
appeared to have been dumped there from one train to wait for another,
going heaven knows where. A thousand or more in number, they had
overflowed the narrow strip of platform under the train-shed, and as we
passed some hundreds of them, huddling together like sheep for warmth
and with no protection save the square of red blankets thrown over their
hunched shoulders, were soaking up the rain which came drizzling down
through the early winter twilight.

"Russian prisoners that we now send back to their homes," explained
Korvettenkapitän M---- as I passed his perch in the hot-air stream from
the engine-room hatchway. "They do not like to leave Germany, but we
have not now the food for them."

"Out of the frying-pan into the fire," commented the chief. "A return to
Russia is the one thing left worse than what they've been through here.
Poor devils--but listen to that! Talk about your bird singing in the
rain----"

Deep, reverberant, pulsing like the throb of a mighty organ, the strains
of what might have been either a hymn or a marching song were wafted to
our ears on the wings of the deepening dusk. For two or three minutes
the strangely moving sound, rising and falling like the roll of a surf
on a distant shore, followed us down the canal before it was quenched in
the roar of the accelerating fans as the bridge rang down for increased
speed. The German was the first to break the silence in which we had
listened.

"The Russians are a strange people," he said, with a note of sincerity
in his voice I had never remarked before. "There is always sadness in
their happiness, and always hope in their despair. I think they can
never be broken."

For the first and last time I was inclined to agree with him.

A three-hour run at a speed of fifteen knots brought us to the island
of Rügen, where we anchored in shallow water three or four miles off
the station of Büg, which we were scheduled to inspect in the morning.
It was only a fair-weather anchorage, however, and the lee shore,
together with a falling barometer and a rising wind, caused the pilot
to advise running round to the somewhat better protection of Tromper
Bay, on the opposite side of the island. This shift, which there was
no real necessity for making, involved an alteration of plan, for the
shores of Tromper Bay (where we now had to attempt a landing) were
four or five miles from Wiek, the second station to be inspected, and
entirely cut off from communication with Büg by a long lagoon. Under the
circumstances, the only practicable plan seemed to be to walk to Wiek
across the island, go from there to Büg by launch, and then endeavour
to rejoin the destroyer at her first anchorage of the night before,
to which she would return in the interim. This intricate itinerary we
finally succeeded in following, but it almost killed poor "Hindenburg,"
the fat German flying officer escorting the party, who had confidently
counted on doing all of his travelling by launch.

[Illustration: BRITISH PRISONERS AND GERMAN SAILORS AT WARNEMÜNDE]

The motor launch refusing to start in the morning, the whaler was used
to land the inspection party. As there appeared to be nothing in the
way of a quay or landing-stage, the most likely place to get ashore
seemed to be a dismantled pier, the piles of which were visible from
the deck of the destroyer. "Hindy" (the name had already begun to stick
to him), however, promptly appointing himself as pilot, in spite of the
fact that he knew no more of that particular stretch of coast than any
one else in the party, ruled in favour of landing directly upon the
beach. Pulling straight in on the course he indicated, the heavily laden
whaler grounded a couple of hundred yards from the shore, and was
only worried off by all hands going aft and raising the stranded bow.
Commander C---- took over the direction of affairs at this juncture,
and the incidence of events was such that "Hindy" did not essay the
leadership _rôle_ again for some hours, and even then but transiently.

The old pier, to the end of which the whaler was now pulled, had
evidently been wrecked in a storm of many years before and never
repaired. Its planking was gone entirely, but two strings of timbers
running along the tops of the tottering piles offered a possible, though
precarious, means of reaching the two-hundred-yard-distant beach. When
two of the American officers clambered up, however, they found the
timbers so slippery with moss that it was a sheer physical impossibility
to stand erect and walk along them. The only alternative was to sit
astride one of them and slither along shoreward, a few inches at a time.
This they did, pushing along a thick roll of filthy slime in front of
them as they went, and stopping every now and then to disengage the
end of a projecting spike that was holding their trousers. Following
behind one of them, I found the progress both vile and painful, even
after his wiggle-waggle advance had swabbed up the worst of the slime
and uncovered the longest of the spikes lurking to ambush the seat of
my trousers. It must have been unspeakable for the two self-sacrificing
pioneers.

Halfway in, the timbers, less exposed to the splashing spray, offered a
better footing, and from there, following the lead of Commander C----,
we managed to stand up and walk. Not until we reached the end and jumped
off on to the firm sand and began to count noses before striking off
inland did any one notice that "Hindy" was missing. The account of that
worthy's doings in the meantime I had that evening after our return to
the _Viceroy_ from the coxswain of the whaler.

For the first time "Hindy" had neglected to insist on the precedence
due to his rank as a "three-striper" and push out in the lead at a
landing. On the contrary, it appears, he had lingered in the stern
sheets of the whaler until the last of the Allied officers had slid
along out of hearing, and then coolly ordered two of the crew to wade
ashore carrying him between them. He would show them, he said, how the
German sailors joined hands to make a chair for their officers on such
an occasion. Failing in this manoeuvre, he had suggested that two of the
oars be lashed together with the strip of bunting in the stern sheets
and laid along across the tops of the piles to give him a firm footing.
Two of the bluejackets, he explained, could go with him and "relay"
this improvised gangway along ahead. It was only when the coxswain, in
English probably too idiomatic to convey its full meaning to a German,
expressed his lack of sympathy with this ingenious proposal that he
screwed up his nerve to tackling the "wiggle-waggle" mode of progression.

Given a leg up by the whaler's crew, he wriggled astride the nearest
longitudinal strip of timber and began his snail-like, shoreward crawl.
At the end of a quarter of an hour he had barely reached the less
slippery timbering halfway in, but here, instead of getting up on his
hind legs, as the rest of us had done, and ambling along on his feet,
the shivering wretch still persisted in embracing the slimy beam with
his fat thighs and continuing to worry on "wiggle-waggle."

Finally Commander C----, whose eyes for the last fifteen minutes had
been turning back and forth between the ludicrously swaying figure on
the pier and the hands of his watch, uttered an impatient exclamation
and squared his shoulders with the air of a man who has come to a great
decision.

"We're already two hours behind time," he said, buttoning his waterproof
and pulling on his gloves, "and it's touch and go whether we can finish
in time to return tonight to Kiel per schedule. It's a cert we won't
make it if we have to wait any longer for our tortoise-shaped and
tortoise-gaited friend out there. There's a disagreeable duty to be
performed, and since it is not of a nature that I can conscientiously
order one of my subordinate officers to do, I guess it's up to me to
pull it off myself. Kindly note that I'm wearing gloves."

Vaulting lightly from the sand to a line of timbering running parallel,
at a distance of about five feet, to the one upon which "Hindy" was
slithering along, he trotted out opposite the latter, reached across,
lifted that protesting bundle of anatomy to his feet, and then, leading
him by the hand, started back for the beach. The German followed
like Mary's Little Lamb as long as he had the dynamic pressure of
the American's fingers to give him courage, but when Commander C----
withdrew his guiding hand after he had led his fellow tight-rope walker
in above the sand, "Hindy's" nerve went with it. Trying to sludder down
astride the timber again after tottering drunkenly for a moment, he
lost his balance and tried to jump. The drop was not over five feet,
and to soft sand at that; but the remains of a riveter I once saw fall
to the pavement of Broadway from the fortieth story of the new Singer
building looked less inert than the shivering pancake that fat Prussian
made when he hit the beach of Rügen. There was really very little to
choose between it and a flatulent jelly-fish slowly dissolving in the
embrace of a mass of stranded seaweed a few yards away; indeed, the
subtle suggestion of that comparison may have had something to do with
the reflex action behind a kick I saw some one aim at the jelly-fish in
passing.

That was the last we saw of "Hindy" (except as a wavering blur on the
rearward horizon) for nearly two hours.

Striking inland through the dunes and a plantation of young pine trees,
we emerged at a crossroad where a signboard conveyed the information
that Wiek (our immediate objective) was six and four-tenths kilometres
distant. "If we can hike that four miles inside of an hour there's a
fair chance of cleaning up the whole job today," said Commander C----,
striking out along the lightly metalled highway with a swinging stride.
"'Hindy' will have to get along as best he can. We won't need him for
the inspection anyhow."

Passing several rather dismal summer hotels (one of which was called
the "Strand Palace"), we came to a picturesque little village of brick
and thatch houses, with brightly curtained windows, and standing in
well-kept flower gardens. The villagers evidently a half-agricultural,
half-fisher folk--could have had no warning of our coming, as even
the station at Wiek was expecting us from the opposite direction, and
by launch. Quite uninstructed in the matter of adopting "conciliatory"
tactics (as those of so many of the places previously visited had so
plainly been), they simply went their own easy way, displaying neither
fear, resentment, nor even a great amount of curiosity. Most of the
shops, except those of the butchers, were fairly well stocked, the
displays of Christmas toys (among which were some very ingeniously
constructed "working" Zeppelins) being really attractive.

Beyond the village the Wiek road, which turned off at right angles from
the main highway, became no more than a muddy track. Deeply rutted and
slippery with the last of the snow which had drifted into it from a
recent storm, walking in it became so laborious that we finally took
to the fields, across the light sandy loam of which we just managed to
maintain the four-miles-an-hour stride necessary to keep from falling
behind schedule. The several peasants encountered (mostly women with
baskets of beets or cabbages on their backs) regarded us with stolid
impersonal disinterest, and seemed hardly equal to the mental effort of
figuring out where the motley array of uniforms came from.

A tall spire gave us the bearing for Wiek, and we passed close by the
ancient stone church which it surmounted in skirting the village on a
short-cut to the air station. This took us to the rear entrance of the
latter (instead of the main one where we were naturally expected to
come) and had the interesting sequel of bringing us face to face with a
sentry wearing a red band on his sleeve, the first of that particular
brand of revolutionist we had encountered. Although failing to stand at
attention as we approached, he was otherwise quite respectful in his
demeanour and made haste to dispatch a messenger informing the Commander
of the station of our arrival. A number of other "red-banders" were seen
in passing through the barracks area on the way to the sheds, one of
them even going so far as to click heels and salute.

In spite of the flutter of red at the rear, there was no evidence of
anything Bolshevik in the display set out for us in the shop-window.
The men lounging about the sheds fell in at once on the order of the
Commander, paraded smartly, and when dismissed showed no disposition
to hang about the doors, as had occasionally been the case at other
stations. They apparently had not even insisted on one of their
representatives being present during the inspection. None but the five
or six officers receiving the party conducted it around. These were
all keen-eyed, quick-moving youngsters, but the fact that they were
comparatively sparsely decorated seemed to indicate that the station was
not of an importance to command the services of the "star turn" men we
had seen at Norderney, Borkum, and other North Sea bases.

There was one thing which turned up in the course of the inspection
which was not upon the list furnished us by the Germans, and that was
a large stack of second-hand furniture which I stumbled across in an
out-of-the-way corner of the first shed visited. An unmistakable French
name on the back of a red plush-upholstered divan first suggested
the lot was an imported one, and looking closer I discovered a
half-obliterated maker's mark, with the letters "Brux-l-s" following
it. Diverting one of the inspecting officers in that direction as
opportunity offered, I asked him what he thought the word had been.
"Probably the Belgian spelling of Brussels," he replied promptly, "and
certainly the English spelling of loot." When the German Commander
chanced to mention, a few minutes later, that his flight had only
recently come from Zeebrugge, both conjectures seemed to be confirmed.

The inspection was over by the time "Hindy" arrived, and we departed
for Büg immediately he had completed the wash-down and brush-up that
his brother officers, who treated him with a good deal of deference,
insisted on his having. He was too dead beat to display temper when he
had been bundled into the launch, and he impressed me as telling the
bare literal truth when he said it was the hardest walk he had ever
taken in his life.

A half-hour's run brought the launch alongside the landing-stage at
Büg, which ideally located station occupied a quarter of a mile of the
narrow spit of sand separating the broad, shallow lagoon we had just
crossed from the open Baltic. Concrete runways sloped down to both
strands, so that seaplanes could be launched in either direction. It
was an admirably planned and equipped station in every respect. An
hour's inspection showed that the provisions of the armistice, here as
at all of the other stations visited, had been satisfactorily carried
out. A novel feature of the visit was the presence of a couple of
photographers--evidently official ones, judging from the fine machines
they had--who waylaid the party at every corner and exposed a large
number of plates.

"Hindy," who had disappeared shortly after we landed, turned up again
about the time the inspection of the last hangar was completed,
picking his teeth and considerably restored in aplomb by the hearty
_mittagessen_ he had regaled himself with at the Commander's mess.
Not until then were we informed that the station had no launch or
boat of any kind available on the Baltic side. This meant that
the _Viceroy_--she had now come to anchor three or four miles
off-shore--would have to send a boat in for us, and that an hour's time
had been wasted before making a signal for it. Hastily writing a message
requesting that the motor launch or whaler be sent in to the landing,
Commander C---- handed it to the Commander of the station, suggesting
that it be made by "Visual" to the _Viceroy_ in International Morse.
Here "Hindy," brave with much beer, asserted his authority again.
Snatching the paper from the station Commander's hand, he read over the
signal with a frown of disapproval, and then handed it back to Commander
C----.

"That is much too long and complicated for a German signalman to send in
English," he growled. "You should write only, 'Send boat immediately.'
That is quite enough."

There was a look in Commander C----'s face like that it had worn when he
turned and left "Hindy" in a heap on the beach by the jelly-fish, but he
controlled himself and spoke with considerable restraint.

"Since the _Viceroy_ is not my private yacht," he said quietly, "any
signal I make to her will begin 'Request.' I might add that if I were
her captain, and a passenger of mine made me a signal like the one you
suggest, he could wait till--till the Baltic froze over before I'd
send a boat to take him off. Unless you're prepared to wait that long,
you can't do better than see that the signal is made exactly as I have
written it."

In spite of its "length and complication," that signal, as we saw it
later in the _Viceroy_, was identical with the original to a T.

It was rather hard luck that Büg, which was the first station we
visited without carrying our own lunch in the form of sandwiches, was
also the only one where we were not offered shelter and refreshment.
"Hindy" disappeared again during the next hour of waiting, and even
had to be sent for when the whaler finally did arrive. The rest of
us were so thoroughly chilled from standing out in the biting Baltic
wind that we were only too glad to warm up a bit by "double-banking"
the oars with the whaler's crew on the pull back to the destroyer.
The sight of American and British officers bending to the sweeps with
common bluejackets created a tremendous furore at the station. The
photographers rushed out to the end of the jetty to make a permanent
record of the astonishing sight, and from the significant glances all
of the Germans were exchanging one gathered that they thought that
theirs was not the only Navy in which there had been a revolution.

Climbing up to the bridge shortly after the _Viceroy_ got under weigh
for the run back to Kiel, I found the captain on watch with a hulking
Number 8-bore shot-gun under his arm, at which vicious weapon the German
pilot, pressing as far away from it as the restricted space allowed,
kept stealing apprehensive sidelong glances with eyes ostensibly
searching the horizon through his binoculars. On asking the captain
what the artillery was for, he motioned me back beside the range-finder
stand, where he presently joined me.

"I'm watching for ducks--great place for them along here," he said in a
low voice; "but don't give it away to the Hun. He seems to think it's
for _him_. It's old B----'s gun. He shot ducks with it from the bridge
of his E-boat all over the Bight during the war."

"You don't mean to say that you'd stop the destroyer and circle back to
pick up a duck in case you happened to wing one?" I asked incredulously.

"Wouldn't I?" he laughed. "Just tumble up if you hear a shot and see.
There's no finer duckboat in the world than a destroyer if you got the
sea room to handle her in."

It was an hour or two later that I was shaken out of a doze on a
ward-room divan by a sudden jar, followed by the threshing of reversed
screws. "The skipper's got his bird," I thought, and forthwith scrambled
out and up the ladder, especially anxious to arrive in time to see
the expressions on the face of the Germans when they realized that
the "mad Englander" was going back in his warship to pick up a duck.
Compared to that it turned out to have been an event of no more than
passing interest which had happened. The pilot (perhaps because his
mind was absorbed in the menace of that terrible 8-bore) had merely
missed--by three or four miles as it transpired presently--the gate of
the anti-submarine net fencing off that neck of the Baltic, with the
result that the _Viceroy_ had barged into that barrage at something like
seventeen knots. Cutting through the first of what proved to be a double
net, she brought up short against the second, the while her spinning
propellers wound in and chewed to bits a considerable length of the
former.

The seas were agitated for a half-mile on either side by the straining
of the outraged booms, while from the savagely slashing screws floated
up a steady stream of mangled metal floats like _wienerwursts_ emerging
from a sausage machine. Luckily, the cables of the nets were rusted and
brittle, so that the propellers readily tore loose from them without
injury. Backing off clear, the pilot ran down the boom until the buoys
marking the gate were sighted, and from there it was comparatively open
going to Kiel, which we reached at nine-thirty that evening.



X

JUTLAND AS A GERMAN SAW IT


It must have been the unspeakable position of humiliation he found
himself in as a consequence of being ignored, flouted, and even
openly insulted by the men he had once treated as no more worthy of
consideration than the deck beneath his feet that was responsible for
the fact that the German naval officer with whom the members of the
staff of the Allied Naval Armistice Commission were thrown in contact
almost invariably assumed an air of injured martyrdom, missing no
opportunity to draw attention to, and endeavour to awaken sympathy in,
his sad plight. He took advantage of any kind of a pretext to "tell his
troubles," and when nothing occurred in the natural course of events
to provide an excuse, he invented one. Thus, a Korvettenkapitän in one
of the ships searched at Wilhelmshaven took advantage of the fact that
a man to whom he gave an order about opening a water-tight door in a
bulkhead slouched over and started discussing with the white-banded
representative of the Workmen's and Soldiers' Council, to speak at some
length of the "terrible situation" with which he had been faced at the
time when the High Sea Fleet had been ordered out last November for a
decisive naval battle. The filthy condition his ship was in furnished
the inspiration for another officer to tell at some length of how he
had hung his head with shame since the day he had been baulked of "The
Day." An ex-submarine officer--acting as pilot in one of the British
destroyers in the Baltic--did not feel that he could leave the ship
without setting right some comments on German naval gunnery, which he
had found in a London paper left in his cabin.

And so it went. Now and then one of them, after volunteering an account
of something in his own naval experience, would counter with some more
or less shrewdly interpolated query calculated to draw a "revealing"
reply; but for the most part they were content with a passive listener.
That fact relieved considerably the embarrassment this action on the
part of the Germans placed Allied officers, who were under orders
to hold no "unnecessary conversation" in the course of their tours
of inspection. A "monologue" could in no way be construed as a
"conversation," and when, as was almost invariably the case, it was up
on a subject in which the "audience" was deeply interested, it was felt
that there was no contravention of the spirit of the order in listening
to it. The statements and comment I am setting down in this article
were heard in the course of such "monologues" delivered by this or that
German naval officer with whom I was thrown--often for as long as two or
three days at stretch--in connection with the journeys and inspection
routine of the party to which I chanced to be attached at the moment. In
only two or three instances--notably in the case of an officer in the
flying service who endeavoured to dissuade us from visiting the Zeppelin
station at Tondern by giving a false account of the damage inflicted in
the course of the British bombing raid of last summer--did statements
made under these circumstances turn out to be deliberate untruths. On
the contrary, indeed, much that I first heard in this way I have later
been able to confirm from other sources, and to this--statements which
there is good reason to believe are quite true--I am endeavouring to
confine myself here. In matter of opinions expressed, the German naval
officer has, of course, the same right to his own as has anybody else,
and, as one of the few things remaining to him at the end of the war
that he _did_ have a right to, I did not, and shall not, try to dispute
them.

Perhaps the one most interesting fact brought out in connection with
all I heard in this way--it is confirmed, directly and indirectly,
from so many different sources that I should consider it as definitely
established beyond all doubt--was that _at no time from August, 1914,
to November, 1918, did the German seriously plan for a stand-up,
give-and-take fight to a finish with the British Fleet_. Never, not
in the flush of his opening triumphs on land, nor yet even in the
desperation of final defeat, did the hottest heads on the General Naval
Staff at Berlin believe that there was sufficient chance of a victory
in a gunnery duel to make it worth while trying under any conditions
whatever. The way a number of officers referred to their final attempt
to take the High Sea Fleet to sea after it became apparent that
Ludendorff was beaten beyond all hope of recovery in France, gave the
impression at first that an "all out" action was contemplated, that all
was to be hazarded on a single throw, win or lose. It is probable, even,
that the great majority of the officers afloat, and certainly all of the
men (for fear of the results of such an action is the reason ascribed
by all for the series of mutinies which finally put the navy out of the
reckoning as a fighting force) believed this to be the case. But those
officers who, either before or after the event, were in a position to
know the details of the real plans, were in substantial agreement that
it was not intended to bring the High Sea Fleet into action with
the Grand Fleet, but rather to use it as a bait to expose the latter
to a submarine "ambush" on a scale ten times greater than anything of
the kind attempted before, and then to lure such ships as survived the
U-boat attack into a minefield trap. Should a sufficiently heavy toll
have been taken of the capital ships of the Grand Fleet in this way,
then--but not until then--would the question of a general fleet action
have been seriously considered.

[Illustration: VIEW OF KIEL CANAL FROM NEARMOST TURRET OF THE "HERCULES"]

But although the General Naval Staff, and doubtless most of the senior
officers of the German navy, realized from the outset that the High Sea
Fleet would certainly be hopelessly outmatched in a gunnery battle and
that their only chance of victory would have to come through a reduction
of the strength of the Grand Fleet in capital ships by mine or torpedo,
the greatest efforts were made to prevent any such comprehension of the
situation finding its way to the lower decks. The men were constantly
assured that their fleet was quite capable of winning a decisive victory
at any time that the necessity arose, and there is not doubt that they
believed this implicitly--until the day after Jutland. Then they knew
the truth, and they never recovered from the effects of it. That was
where Jutland marked very much more of an epoch for the German navy
than it did for the British. The latter, cheated out of a victory
which was all but within its grasp, was more eager than ever to renew
the fight at the first opportunity. The several very salutary lessons
learned at a heavy cost--and not the least of these was a very wholesome
respect for German gunnery--were not forgotten. Structural defects were
corrected in completed ships and avoided in those building. Technical
equipment, which had been found unequal to the occasion, was replaced.
New systems were evolved where the old had proved wanting. Great as was
the Grand Fleet increase in size from Jutland down to the end of the
war, its increase of efficiency was even greater.

With the High Sea Fleet, though several notable units were added to its
strength during the last two years of the war, in every other respect
it deteriorated steadily from Jutland right down to the mutinies
which were the forerunners of the great surrender. This was due, far
more than to anything else, to the fact that the real hopelessness of
opposing the Grand Fleet in a give-and-take fight began to sink home
to the Germans from the moment the first opening salvoes of the latter
smothered the helpless and disorganized units of the High Sea Fleet
in that last half-hour before the shifting North Sea mists and the
deepening twilight saved them from the annihilation they had invited
in trying to destroy Beatty's battle-cruisers before Jellicoe arrived.
What the most of their higher officers had always known, the men knew
from that day on, and, cowed by that knowledge, were never willing to
go into battle again. From what I gathered from a number of sources I
have no hesitation in affirming that, up to Jutland, the men of the
High Sea Fleet would have taken it out in the full knowledge that it
was to meet the massed naval might of Britain, and, moreover, that they
would have gone into action confidently and bravely, just as they did
at Jutland. But it is equally clear that, after Jutland, any move which
the men themselves knew was likely to bring them into action with the
British battle fleet would instantly have precipitated the same kind of
revolt as that which started at Kiel last November and culminated in
the surrender. It was the increasing "jumpiness" of the men, causing
them to suspect that every sally out of harbour might be preliminary
to the action which they had been living in increasing dread of every
day and night for the preceding two years and a half, which finally
made it practically impossible for the Germans to get out into the
Bight sufficient forces to protect even their mine-sweeping craft. As
a consequence, it is by no means unlikely that the continuation of
the war for another few months might well have found the German navy,
U-boats and all, effectually immobilized in harbour behind ever-widening
barriers of mines.

By long odds the most reasoned and illuminative discussion I heard of
German naval policy, from first to last, was that of an officer who
was Gunnery Lieutenant of the _Deutschland_ at Jutland, and whom I met
through his having had charge of the arrangements of the visits of the
airship party of the Allied Naval Commission to the various Zeppelin
stations in the North Sea littoral. Of a prominent militarist family--he
claimed that his father was a director of Krupps--and a great admirer
of the Kaiser (whom I once heard him refer to as an "idealist who did
all that he could to prevent the war"), he was extremely well informed
on naval matters, both those of his own country and--so far as German
information went--the Allies. Harbouring a very natural bitterness
against the revolution, and especially against the mutinous sailors of
the navy, he spoke the more freely because he felt that he had no future
to look forward to in Germany, which (as he told me on a number of
occasions) he intended to leave as soon as the way was open for him to
go to South America or the Far East. Also, where he confined himself to
statements of fact rather than opinion or conjecture, he spoke truly. I
have yet to find an instance in which he made an intentional endeavour
to create a false impression.

It was in the course of our lengthy and somewhat tedious railway journey
to the Zeppelin station at Nordholz that Korvettenkapitän C---- first
alluded to his life in the High Sea Fleet. "I was the gunnery officer of
the _Deutschland_ during the first two years of the war," he volunteered
as he joined me at the window of the corridor of our special car, from
which I was trying to catch a glimpse of the suburban area of stagnant
Bremerhaven; "but I transferred to the Zeppelin service as soon as I
could after the battle of Horn Reef because I felt certain--from the
depression of the men, which seemed to get worse rather than better as
time went on--that there would never be another naval battle. Although
we lost few ships (less than you did by a considerable margin, I think
I am correct in saying), yet the terrible battering we received from
only a part of the English fleet, and especially the way in which we
were utterly smothered during the short period your main battle fleet
was in action, convinced the men that they were very lucky to have got
away at all, and seemed to make them determined never to take chances
against such odds again. I knew that if we ever got them into action
again, it would have to be by tricking them--making them think they
were going out for something else--and that is why I felt sure the day
of our surface navy was over, and why I went into the Zeppelin service
to get beyond contact with the terrible dry-rot that began eating at the
hearts of the High Sea Fleet from the day they came home from the battle
of Horn Reef. What has happened since then has proved my fears were
well founded, for the men, becoming more and more suspicious every time
preparations were made to go to sea, finally refused to go out at all.
And that was the end."

Commander C---- (to give his equivalent British rank) volunteered a good
deal more about Jutland on this occasion, as well as of the strategy in
connection with those final plans which went awry through the failure
of men, but it will be best, perhaps, to let this appear in its proper
sequence in a connected account of what he told, in the course of the
several days we were thrown together, of the German naval problems
generally, and his own experiences and observations at Horn Reef in
particular.

"We were greatly disappointed when England came into the war," he said,
"but hardly dismayed. We had built all our ships on the theory that it
was the English fleet they were to fight against, and we felt confident
that we had plans that had a good chance of ultimately proving
successful. But those plans did not contemplate--either at the outset,
or at any subsequent stage of the war down to the very end--a gunnery
battle to a finish. The best proof of that fact is the way the guns were
mounted in our capital ships, with four aft and only two forward. That
meant that their _rôle_ was to inflict what damage they could in swift
attacks, and that they were expected to do their heaviest fighting while
being chased back to harbour. Since the British fleet had something like
a three-to-two advantage over us in modern capital ships, and about
two-to-one in weight of broadside, I think you will agree that this was
not only the best plan for us to follow, but practically the only one.

"I think it will hardly surprise you when I say that, up to the outbreak
of the war, we knew a great deal more about your navy than you did
about ours. To offset that--and of much greater importance--is the fact
that your knowledge of our navy and its plans during the war was far
better than ours of yours. You always seem to score in the end. But at
the outset, as I have said, we were the better informed, and, among
other things, we knew that we had better mines than you had, and (as I
think was fully demonstrated during the first two years) we had a far
better conception in advance of the possibilities of using them--both
offensively and defensively--than you had. During the first two years
and a half your mines turned out to be even worse than we had expected,
and it is an actual fact that some of the more reckless of our U-boat
commanders used to fish them up and tow them back to base to make
punchbowls of. In the last twenty months you not only had two or three
types of mine (one of them American, I think) that were better than
anything we ever had, but you were also using them on a scale, and with
an effectiveness, we had never dreamed of.

"We also thought we had a better torpedo than you had--that it would
run farther, straighter, keep depth better, and do more damage when
it struck. I still think we have something of the best of it on that
score, though at no time was our superiority so great as we reckoned.
Your torpedoes ran better than they detonated, and--especially in the
first two years--a very large number of fair hits on all classes of our
lighter craft were spoiled by 'duds.' This, I am sorry to say, was not
reported nearly so frequently during the last year and a half.

[Illustration: "HERCULES," WITH THREE V-CLASS DESTROYERS IN KIEL HARBOR]

"But it was on the torpedo that we counted to wear down the British
margin of strength in capital ships to a point where the High Sea
Fleet would have a fair chance of success in opposing it. We expected
that our submarines would take a large and steady toll of any warships
you endeavoured to blockade us with, and that they would even make the
risk of patrol greater than you would think it worth while to take.
Although we made an encouraging beginning by sinking three cruisers,
we were doomed to heavy disappointment over the U-boat as a destroyer
of warships. We failed to reckon on the almost complete immunity
the speed of destroyers, light cruisers, battle-cruisers, and even
battleships would give them from submarine attack, and we never dreamed
how terrible an enemy of the U-boat the destroyer--especially after
the invention of the depth-charge--would develop into. As for the use
of the submarine against merchant shipping, to our eternal regret we
never saw what it could do until after we had tried it. If any German
had had the imagination to have realized this in advance, so that we
could have had a fleet of a hundred and fifty U-boats ready to launch
on an unrestricted campaign against merchant shipping the day war was
declared, I think you will not deny that England would have had to
surrender within two months.

"We also made the torpedo a relatively more important feature of the
armament of all of our ships--from destroyers to battleships--than
you did. They were to be our "last ditch" defence in the event of our
being drawn into a general fleet action--just such an action, in fact,
as the battle of Horn Reef was. We knew all about your gunnery up to
the outbreak of the war, and the fact that the big-gun target practices
were only at moderate ranges--mostly under 16,000 metres--told us that
you were not expecting to engage us at greater ranges. But all the time
we were meeting with good success in shooting at ranges up to, and even
a good deal over, 20,000 metres, and so we felt sure of having all the
best of a fight at such ranges. We knew that our 11-inch guns would
greatly out-range your 12-inch (perhaps you already know that even
the 8.2-inch guns of the _Scharnhorst_ and _Gneisenau_ out-ranged the
12-inch guns of the _Invincible_ and _Indefatigable_ at the Falkland
battle), and we hoped they might even have the best of your 13.5's.
We also knew that our ships were better built than yours to withstand
the plunging fall of long-distance shots, and we felt sure that our
explosive was more powerful than your lyddite. I am not sure that
this proved to be the case, though there is no question that our hits
generally did more harm than yours because more of them penetrated decks
and armour.

"Feeling confident, then, of having the best of a long-range action,
our plan was, as I have said, to use the torpedo as a 'last ditch'
defence in case the English fleet tried to reduce the range to one at
which it could be sure of securing a higher percentage of hits and thus
making the greater weight of its broadside decisively felt. In such a
contingency we planned to literally fill the sea with torpedoes, on
the theory that enough of them must find their targets to damage the
enemy fleet sufficiently to force it to open out the range again, and
perhaps to cripple it to an extent that would open the way for us to
win a decisive victory. Theoretically, this plan was quite sound, for
it was based on the generally recognized fact that from three to five
torpedoes--the number varying according to the range and the interval
between the targets--launched one after the other at a line of ships
_cannot_ fail to hit at least one of them, providing, of course, that
they all run properly.

"Well, almost the identical conditions under which we had planned and
practised to run our torpedo barrage were reproduced at Horn Reef when
the British battle fleet came into action near the end of the day, but
it failed because the English Admiral anticipated it--probably because
he knew in advance, as you always seemed to know everything we were
doing or intended to do, what to expect--by turning away while still
at the extreme limit of effective torpedo range. Most of our spare
torpedoes went for almost nothing, so far as damage to the enemy was
concerned, in that 'barrage,' and it would have gone hard with us had
there been enough daylight remaining for the English fleet to have
continued the action. Its superior speed would have allowed it to make
the range whatever its commander desired, and--even before half of the
battleships of it were firing--we were absolutely crushed by sheer
weight of metal, and it would not have been long before every one of our
ships would have been incapable of replying. You will see, then, that,
in the sense that it postponed the brunt of the attack of the English
battle fleet attack until it was too late for it to be effective, our
torpedo barrage undoubtedly saved the High Sea Fleet from complete
destruction.

"Our lavish expenditure of torpedoes at that juncture, though, compelled
us to forgo the great opportunity which was now presented to us to
do your fleet heavy damage in a night action. Darkness, as you know,
goes far to equalize the difference in numbers of opposing fleets, and
makes an action very largely a series of disjointed duels between ship
and ship. In these duels the odds are all in favour of the ship with
the best system of recognition, the most powerful searchlights, and
the most effective searchlight control. We believed that we had much
the best of you in all of these particulars, and (although it was our
plan to avoid contact as far as possible on account of our shortage of
torpedoes) such encounters as could not be avoided proved this to be
true beyond any doubt. You seemed to have no star shells at all (so far
as any of our ships reported), and our searchlights were not only more
powerful than yours, but seemed also to be controlled in a way to bring
them on to the target quicker. It may be that the fact that our special
night-glasses were better than anything of the kind you had contributed
to this result. In any case, in almost every clash in the darkness it
was the German's guns which opened fire first. Practically every one
of our surviving ships reported this to have been the case, but with
those that were lost, of course, it is likely the English opened up
first. Another way in which we scored decisively in this phase of the
action was through solving the reply to your night recognition signal,
or at least a part of it. One of our cruisers managed to bluff one of
your destroyers into revealing this, and then passed it on to as many
of our own ships as she could get in touch with. We only had the first
two or three letters of the reply to your challenge, but the showing of
even these is known to have been enough to make more than one of your
destroyer commanders hesitate a few seconds in launching a torpedo,
only to realize his mistake after he had been swept with a broadside
from the secondary armament of a cruiser or battleship which left him
in a sinking condition. It was an English destroyer that hesitated at
torpedoing the _Deutschland_ until I almost blew it out of the water
with my guns, that afterwards launched a torpedo, even while it was
just about to go down, that finished the _Pommern_, the flagship of my
squadron."

Commander C----'s account of his personal observations at Jutland threw
light on a number of points that the Allied public--and even those to
whom the best information on the subject was available--were never able
to make up their mind upon.

"The English people," he said, "to judge from what I read in your
papers, always deceived themselves about two things in connection with
the battle you call Jutland. One of them was that the High Sea Fleet
came out with the purpose of offering battle to the English fleet, or at
least endeavouring to cut off and destroy its battle-cruiser squadron.
This is not the case. Quite to the contrary, indeed; it was the English
fleet that went out to catch us. We had been planning for some time a
cruiser raid on the shipping between England and Norway--which was not
so well protected then, or even for a year and a half more, as it was
the last year--and the High Sea Fleet and Von Hipper's battle-cruisers
were out to back up the raiding craft. As usual, your Intelligence
Bureau learned of this plan, and the English fleet came out to
spoil it. It was Von Hipper, not Beatty, who was surprised when the
battle-cruisers sighted each other. Beatty's surprise came a few minutes
later, when two of his ships were blown up almost before they had fired
a shot. That seemed to vindicate, right then and there, our belief in
our superior gunnery and the inferior construction of the English ships.
Unfortunately, there was nothing quite so striking occurred after that
to support that vindication. The other English battle-cruiser, and the
several armoured cruisers, sunk were destroyed as a consequence of
exposing themselves to overwhelming fire. It was the chance of finishing
off all the English battle-cruisers before the battle fleet came to
their rescue that tempted Von Scheer to follow Beatty north, and as a
consequence he was all but drawn into the general action that it was his
desire to avoid above anything else.

"The other thing that the English naval critics (although I think your
Intelligence Bureau must have had the real facts before very long)
deceived themselves and the public about was in the matter of Zeppelin
reconnaissance during, and previous to, the Horn Reef battle. They have
continued to state from that day right down to the end of the war that
it was the German airships which warned Von Scheer of the approach of
Jellicoe, and so enabled the High Sea Fleet to escape. Perhaps the most
conclusive evidence that we _did not_ have airship reconnaissance was
the fact that Von Scheer was not only drawn into action with Jellicoe,
but that he even got into a position where he could not prevent the
English ships from passing to the east of him--that is, between him
and his bases. I will hardly need to tell you that neither of these
things would have happened if we had had airships to keep us advised of
the whereabouts of your battle fleet. It was our intention to have had
Zeppelin scouts preceding us into the North Sea on this occasion--as
we always have done when practicable--but the weather conditions were
not favourable. We _did_ have Zeppelins out on the following day,
and these, I have read, were sighted by the English. But if any were
reported on the day of the battle, I can only say it was a mistake. It
is very easy to mistake a small round cloud, moving with the wind, for a
foreshortened Zeppelin, especially if you are expecting an airship to
appear in that quarter of the sky."

Of the opening phases of the Jutland battle Commander C---- did not
see a great deal personally. "We were steaming at a moderate speed,"
he said, "when Von Hipper's signal was received stating he was
engaging enemy battle-cruisers and leading them south--that is, in
the direction from which we were approaching. As there were a number
of pre-dreadnoughts in the fleet, its speed--as long as it kept
together--was limited to the speed of these. In knots we were doing
perhaps sixteen when the first signal was received, and even after
forming battle line this speed was not materially increased for some
time. I understood the reason for this when I heard that the engine-room
had been ordered to make no more smoke than was positively necessary. We
had given much attention to regulating draught, and on this occasion it
was only a few minutes before there was hardly more than a light grey
cloud issuing from every funnel the whole length of the line. The idea,
of course, was to prevent the English ships from finding out any sooner
than could be helped that they were being led into an 'ambush.' As long
as we did not increase speed it was easy to keep down the smoke, and I
am sure that the first evidence the enemy had of the presence of the
High Sea Fleet was when they saw our masts and funnels. But we saw them
before that--we saw the two great towers of smoke that went high up
into the sky when two of them blew up, and we saw the smoke from their
funnels half an hour before their topmasts came above the horizon. At
this time, although all of the ships of the High Sea Fleet were coal
burners, they were making less smoke than the four oil-burning ships of
the _Queen Elizabeth_ class, which we sighted not long after the English
battle-cruisers. As soon as we began to increase speed, of course, we
made more smoke than they did.

"The four remaining English battle-cruisers turned north as soon as
they sighted us, and I do not think the fire of the High Sea Fleet did
them much harm. They drew away from us very rapidly, of course, so that
our 'ambush' plan did not come to anything after all. A squadron of
English light cruisers, which were leading the battle-cruisers when we
first sighted them, almost fell into the trap, though, or, at any rate,
their very brave (or very foolish) action in standing on until they
were but little over 10,000 metres from the head of our line gave us
the best kind of a chance to sink the lot of them. That we did not do
this was partly due to the fact that most of the ships of our line were
still endeavouring to reach the English battle-cruisers with long-range
fire, and partly (I must admit it, though my own guns were among those
that failed to find their mark) to poor shooting. These light cruisers
did not turn until we opened fire at something over 10,000 metres; but
although all our squadron concentrated upon them during the hour and
more before the great speed they put on took them out of range, none of
them were sunk, and I am not even sure that any was badly hit.

"When the four ships of the _Queen Elizabeth_ class came into action
there was a while when they were receiving the concentrated fire of
practically the whole High Sea Fleet, and possibly some of that of our
battle-cruisers as well. Yet it did not appear that--beyond putting one
of them (which we later learned was the _Warspite_) out of control for a
while--we did them much damage. The weight of our fire seemed to affect
theirs a good deal, though, and at this stage of the fight they did not
score many hits upon those of our ships--it was upon the squadron of
_Königs_ that they seemed trying to concentrate--that they gave their
attention to. Later, when the effort to destroy several of the newly
arrived squadron of English battle-cruisers and armoured cruisers drew
a part of our fire, their heavy shells did much damage.

"The High Sea Fleet's line became considerably broken and extended in
the course of the pursuit of the English battle-cruisers and the _Queen
Elizabeths_, the swifter _Königs_ steaming out well in advance in an
effort to destroy some of the English ships before their battle fleet
came into action, and my own squadron dropping a good way astern. That
was the reason that my ship neither gave nor received much punishment
in the daylight action. It was our battle-cruisers and the more modern
battleships of the High Sea Fleet--principally the latter--which,
tricked by the bad visibility, suddenly found themselves well inside
the range of the deployed battleships of the main English fleet. I can
only say that I am thankful that I did not have to experience at first
hand the example they received of what it meant to face the full fire of
that fleet. The English shooting, which opened a little wild on account
of the mists, soon steadied down, and I have heard officers of four or
five of our ships say that it was becoming impossible to make reply with
their guns when darkness broke off the action. I have already told you
how our torpedo 'barrage'--in forcing the English fleet to sheer off
until it was too late for decisive action--saved a large part, if not
all, of our fleet from destruction. What would have happened in the
event that the attack had been pressed, no one can say. It would all
have depended upon the extent of the damage inflicted by our torpedoes.
I can only say that--as it was a contingency we had prepared for by long
practice--Jellicoe would only have been playing into our hands in taking
his whole fleet inside effective torpedo range, and I have confidence
enough in the plan to wish that he had tried it. It would have meant a
shorter war whatever happened, and, what is more, anything would have
been better for us than what did come to pass--two years of gradual
paralysis of the German navy, with a disgraceful surrender at the end.

"As I have said, we were anxious to avoid a night action on account of
our shortage of torpedoes, however much such an action would have been
to our advantage had not our supply of these been so nearly exhausted.
So we were a good deal relieved when it became apparent that the enemy
were not making any special effort to get in touch with us again after
darkness fell. As a consequence of this disinclination of both sides to
seek an engagement, such clashes as did occur were the sequel to chance
encounters in the dark, and in most cases they seem to have been broken
off by the common desire of both parties. Some of your destroyers
persisted in their attacks whenever they got in touch with one of our
ships, but we usually made them pay a very heavy price for the damage
inflicted.

"Von Scheer took the High Sea Fleet back to harbour by passing astern of
the English battle fleet, which had continued on to the south. I think
I am correct in saying that none of the capital ships of either fleet
were in action with those of the other after dark. There were two or
three brushes between cruisers and a good many between destroyers and
various classes of heavier ships. In fact, our principal difficulties
arose through running into several flotillas of destroyers which seemed
to have straggled from the squadrons to which they had been attached.
My squadron, with a division of cruisers, ran right through a flotilla
of about a dozen large English destroyers, and it would be hard to say
which had the worst of it. We lost the _Pommern_ (it would have been my
ship, the _Deutschland_, had not the line been reversed a few minutes
previously) and a cruiser, and had two other cruisers badly damaged,
one from being rammed by a little fighting-cock of a destroyer which
must have committed suicide in doing it. We sank two or three of the
destroyers by gun-fire, and left two or three more stopped and looking
about to blow up. Two of them were seen to be in collision, and there
was also a report that they were firing at each other in the mêlée, but
that was not corroborated. This fight only lasted a few minutes, and we
saw no more English ships of any kind on our way back to harbour.

"In the matter of the losses at Horn Reef, we have never had any doubt
that those of the English were much heavier than ours, even on your own
admissions. And since we inflicted those losses with a fleet of not much
over half the size of yours, we have always felt justified in claiming
the battle to have been a German victory. The _Lützow_ was our only
really serious loss, though the other battle-cruisers--especially the
_Derfflinger_ and _Seydlitz_--were of little use for many months, so
badly had they been battered by gun-fire. The battleship and cruisers
sunk were out of date, and we lost only one modern light cruiser. We may
have lost as many destroyers as you did, though yours would have footed
up to a greater tonnage, as they average larger than ours. We made a
great mistake in concealing the loss of the _Lützow_ for several days,
for, after that, the people never stopped thinking that there were other
and greater losses not announced.

"But although the English losses must have been much greater than
ours, I am not sure that they were enough greater to offset the loss
of _morale_ in the men of the German fleet. As I have said, I do not
think--unless we had tricked them into it, as we tried so hard to do at
the end--that we could ever again have got them to take their ships out
in the full knowledge that they were in for a fight to a finish with the
English battle fleet. It would have been better that they had all been
lost fighting at Horn Reef than that they should have survived to bring
upon themselves and their officers a disgrace the like of which has
never been known in naval history."



XI

BACK TO BASE


The German Naval Armistice Commission, perhaps as a reaction from
its belligerent attitude at the first conference at Kiel, manifested
an increasing amenability to reason with every day that passed, as a
consequence of which the work of the Allied Commission was pushed to a
rapid completion. The search of the warships was completed in a couple
of days, and the decision to limit the inspection of air stations to
those west of Rügen reduced the visits of this character to three, all
easily reached by destroyers. Of the town of Kiel, nothing was seen at
close quarters, visits in that vicinity being limited to the dockyard,
ships in the harbour, and the seaplane station of Holtenau, near the
entrance to the canal.

Although the Allied ships under embargo hardly arrived at Kiel for
inspection at the rate promised, there was little to indicate that the
Germans were endeavouring to evade their promise of doing everything
possible to facilitate the return of these to the Tyne at the earliest
possible moment. The _City of Leeds_, a powerfully engined little
packet which had been on the Hamburg-Harwich run before the war,
furnished the only glaring instance of deliberate bad faith. The German
Shipping Commission, declaring that her crew had ruined her engines
and boilers by pouring tar into them when she was seized, claimed
that she had been quite useless since that time, and disclaimed any
responsibility for reconditioning her. On inspection by the Allied
Shipping Commission, the statement that the engines had been damaged by
anything but use and neglect was proved to be absolutely false. Why the
Germans should have told so futile a lie was not fully explained, though
as a possible reason it was suggested that some private party, desiring
to keep the ship in his hands, had made a false report of her condition
to the Shipping Commission.

The arrival and departure of Allied prisoners of war was one of the
most interesting features of the week in Kiel. The most of these were
British--picked up by one or another of the destroyers at this or that
port touched at--but there was one large party of French, from a camp
near Kiel, and several Belgians, Serbs, and Italians from heaven knows
where. These were all made as comfortable as possible in the _Hercules_,
and dispatched to England in the next mail destroyer. Except for a
man now and then who was suffering from a neglected wound, they were
in fairly good condition, a fact, however, which did not lessen their
almost rapturous enjoyment of the heaping pannikins of "good greasy
grub" (as one of them put it) that was theirs for the asking at any
hour of the day they cared to slip up to the galley. Their delight in
the band, in the ship's kinema, in "doubling round" for exercise in the
morning, in anything and everything in the life in this their halfway
station on the road home was a joy to watch.

Some of the British prisoners came from the same towns or counties
as did men of the ship's company, and the exchange of reminiscences
often went on far into the night. Passing across the flat between
the ward-room and the commission-room late one evening, I heard a
Lancastrian voice from a roll of blankets on the deck protesting to a
bluejacket in the hammock above that "Jinny X----" of Wigan didn't have
yellow hair when he (the owner of the voice) used to know her, and that,
in fact, he'd always thought her rather a "shy 'un."

"Thot was afore she worked in a 'T.N.T.' fact'ry," replied the
"hammock," with an intonation suggesting that he felt that was
sufficient explanation of both changes.

A good deal of rivalry developed between the four escorting destroyers
in the matter of picking up prisoners, and to hear their officers
discussing their "bags" or "hauls" when they foregathered at night in
the ward-room of the _Hercules_ reminded one of campers drifting in at
the end of the day and yarning of the ducks they had shot and the fish
they had caught. "If we could have waited another half-hour twenty more
were coming with us," claims _Venetia_. "But even with those," replies
_Vidette_, "you would not have been anywhere near our sixty-nine."
It was this latter "bag," indeed, which proved the record one of the
"season," both in numbers and "quality," for it consisted entirely of
non-commissioned officers from a camp near Hamburg.

[Illustration: H. M. S. "HERCULES" AND H. M. S "CONSTANCE" IN KIEL LOCKS]

The same cringing attempts at ingratiation and conciliation which had
been so much in evidence in the attitude of the civil population toward
parties from the Commission when they met in streets or stations seem
also to have been consistently practised in the case of prisoners about
to be repatriated. Although the German takes naturally and easily
to this kind of thing, just as he did to his _schrecklichkeit_ and
general brutalities, there was much in the way he went about making
himself pleasant to returning prisoners that bore the marks of official
inspiration. Several men who came to the _Hercules_ brought copies of
circular letters in English which, after pointing out that they had
invariably been treated with the greatest courtesy and consideration
possible under the very trying circumstances Germany found herself in
on account of the blockade, hoped that they would bear no ill will away
with them, and that the years to come might bring them back to Germany
under happier circumstances. The screeds really had much the tone of an
apologetic country host's farewell to guests whom he has had to keep on
short commons on account of being snowed in or a breakdown on the line.

One of the best of them was addressed to "English Gentlemen," and went
on as follows:--

"You are about to leave the newest, and what we intend to make the
freest, republic in the world. We very much regret that you saw so
little of what aroused our pride in the former Germany--her arts,
sciences, model cities, theatres, schools, industries, and social
institutions, as well as the beauties of our scenery and the real soul
of our people, akin in so many things to your own.

"But these things will remain a part of the new Germany. Once the
barriers of artificial hatred and misunderstanding have fallen, we hope
that you will learn to know, in happier times, these grander features of
the land whose unwilling guests you have been. A barbed wire enclosure
is not the proper place from which to survey or judge a great nation.
There will be no barbed wire enclosure in the Germany to which you will
return a few months hence. In the meantime we feel that we can count
upon you, forgetting the unpleasanter features of your enforced sojourn
with us, to exert your influence to reunite the bonds of friendship
and commerce which were bringing our countries ever closer and closer
together before their unfortunate severance by the sword of war, and
upon the knitting up again of which the future of both so greatly
depends.

"Three cheers for peace and good will to all mankind!"

Rather a delicate little touch, that "bonds of commerce" one!

Unfortunately, the language in which most of the prisoners described the
state of mind which this kind of thing left them in is not quite suited
for publication. It was one of the mildest of them--a London cockney
who seemed never quite to have got back all the blood he lost when his
thigh was ripped open with shrapnel at the assault on Thiepval--who said
that "Jerry" never would get over being surprised when "a bloke called
'im a b----y blighter arter 'e'd tried to shove a _ersatz_ fag on you
an' 'oped you w'udn't be bearin' 'im any 'ard feelin's in the years to
come."

The attitude that German girls and women appear to have adopted
toward Allied, and especially British, prisoners from the time the
armistice went into force is not a pleasant thing to write of, and I
confine myself to a single observation which an old sergeant of the
"Contemptibles"--one of the sixty-nine that the _Vidette_ brought from
Hamburg--made on the subject. It was one of the most witheringly biting
characterizations of a nation I have ever heard fall from the lips of
any man. He had been telling me in a humorous sort of way of "raspberry
leaf tea," _ersatz_ coffee of various kinds, paper sheets, and various
and sundry other substitutes, and then, switched off to the subject by a
question regarding a statement a German officer had been heard to make
about the relations of prisoners and women of the country, he spoke of
the ways of the girls of Hamburg since the armistice.

"There is no doubt," he said, "that the young of both sexes have been
getting more and more shameless in their morals ever since the beginning
of the war, but it is only since we were practically set free by the
armistice that the state of things has come home to prisoners. I don't
think that there are very many British prisoners--certainly no man that
I know personally--who have had anything to do with these young hussies;
but that is not the fault of the girls, for they have pestered us only
less in our camp than upon the street. It's principally because we have
a bit of money now, and sometimes a bit of food that isn't _ersatz_. I
don't think I'm exaggerating very much, sir, when I say that fifty per
cent. of the girls of the lower classes in Hamburg would sell themselves
for a cake of toilet soap or a sixpenny packet of biscuits. _Ersatz_
food and _ersatz_ women! By God, sir, Germany's a country of substitutes
and prostitutes, and it's glad I am to be seeing the last of it!"

I have yet to hear the Germany of today summed up more scathingly than
that.

Speaking of the moral degeneracy of Germany, a poster found by a
member of the Commission in a train by which he was travelling sheds
an interesting light on the subject. It was addressed to the "Youth of
Wilhelmshaven and Rüstringen" by the Council of Workmen and Soldiers,
and the following is a rough translation.

"The German youth has been a witness of the great liberating act of
the German Revolution. It has witnessed how the fetters of the old
_régime_ were burst and Freedom made her entry into the stronghold of
reaction, the Prussian military state. And it is the youth of today
which will reap the fruits of this great change. It will one day find
as an accomplished fact all that for which the best of the people have
sacrificed themselves.

"Therefore the most serious duties are laid upon the youth of today, to
which it is becoming increasingly necessary to draw their attention.
Complaints are unfortunately increasing of late that the youth is
lapsing more and more into moral anarchy, which carries with it the
most serious dangers for the future. Revolution does not mean disorder,
but a new order. Remember that the whole future of Germany depends upon
you; you are the trustees of the future. Be conscious of the great
responsibility which rests today upon your young shoulders.... You must
now learn to be equal to the task which awaits you. Obey your teachers
and leaders. That is the first demand made upon all today.

"We expect, therefore, that you take this warning to heart, and that we
may not be forced to take stronger measures against those among you who
either cannot or will not submit!"

       *       *       *       *       *

There was a suggestion of power and strength in the name itself, and
in setting out to inspect the Great Belt Forts there were few in the
party who had not visions of uncovering the secrets of something very
much in the nature of a Baltic Gibraltar or Heligoland. "Number One"
or the "International" sub-commission turned out in full strength
in anticipation of what had generally been regarded as the crowning,
as it was the concluding, event of the visit. The very protestations
of the Germans only whetted their interest the keener, for it was a
precisely similar line to one they had taken in the matter of the visit
to Tondern, where there _had_ been something worth seeing. "Look out
for surprises in connection with the 'Great Belt' inspection," was the
word, and every one in any way entitled to attach himself to what was to
be the last party landed before the return of the Commission to England
made arrangements to do so.

Brave with swords, bright with brass hats, aglitter with aiguillettes
was the imposing line of French, British, Italian, American and Japanese
officers who filed across from the _Hercules_ to the _Verdun_ an hour
before dawn on the morning of December 16. An hour after darkness
descended, wet with rain, bespattered with mud, ashiver with cold, those
same officers straggled back to the _Hercules_ again. This is the order
in which one of them summed up the day's observation: "The most notable
event of the inspection," he said as he warmed his chilled frame before
the ward-room fire, "was the sight of the first pig we have clapped eyes
on in Germany; the next so was meeting a Hun with enough of a sense of
humour to take us three miles round by a muddy road and over ploughed
fields and deep ditches to a point he could have reached by a mile of
comparatively dry railway track; and the third was a drive through ten
miles of Schleswig countryside that was beautiful beyond words, even in
the pelting rain. The Great Belt Forts? Oh, yes, we saw them. They were
five holes in the ground on top of one hill, four holes in the ground on
the top of another fifteen miles away, and a dozen or so ancient guns
dumped into the hold of a tug. But--let's talk about the pig."

There is not much that I can add to the succinct summary of the
inspection of the forts of the "Baltic Gibraltar." What the
sub-commission saw--or rather failed to see--there went a long way
toward confirming the impression (which had been growing stronger ever
since the arrival of the _Hercules_ at Wilhelmshaven) that Germany had
depended upon mines rather than guns for the defence of her coasts.
The porker mentioned was the one I alluded to in an earlier chapter as
just failing to win the officer sighting it the pool which was to go
to the first man who saw a pig in Germany, because an Irish-American
member of the party had testified that it had "died from hog cholera
an hour before it had been killed." The lovely stretch of farming
country driven through showed many signs of its Danish character, and at
several windows I even saw the red-and-white flag of the mother country
discreetly displayed. This region, of course, falls well north of the
line that is expected to form the new Danish boundary.

       *       *       *       *       *

At the final conference with the German Naval Armistice Commission,
which was held in the _Hercules_ on the morning of the 17th,
Admiral Goette and his associates, in striking contrast to their
belligerent attitude at the first meeting in Kiel, proved thoroughly
docile and conciliatory. All of the important points at issue were
conceded--including the surrender of submarines building and the
delivery of the _Baden_ in place of _Mackensen_--and tentative
arrangements were made for future visits of special Allied Commissions
whenever these should be deemed necessary to insure the enforcement
of the provisions of the armistice. Work on the reconditioning of
all Allied merchant ships was to be given precedence over everything
else. Considering that he had no trumps either in his hands or up his
sleeve, Admiral Goette played his end of the game with considerable
skill. Such futile attempts at "bluffing" as he made were invariably
traceable to pressure exerted upon him from the "outside," probably
Berlin. Personally, in spite of the severe nervous strain he was under
(the effects of which were increasingly noticeable at every succeeding
conference), he deported himself with a dignity compatible with his
heavy responsibilities. The same may be said of Captain Von Müller,
which is perhaps as far down the list as it would be charitable to go in
this connection.

       *       *       *       *       *

Weighing anchor at noon of the 18th, the _Hercules_ was locked through
into the canal in good time to see in daylight that section which
had been passed in darkness in coming through from the North Sea. A
rain, which turned into soft snow as the afternoon lengthened, was
responsible for rather less frequent and numerous crowds of spectators
than on the previous passage. The ubiquitous Russian prisoner was
still much in evidence. An especially pathetic figure was that of a
lone _poilu_--still in horizon blue, with the skirts of his bedraggled
overcoat buttoned back in characteristic fashion--whom I sighted just
before dark. Leaning dejectedly on his hoe in a beet-field, he watched
the _Hercules_ pass without so much as lifting a finger. Most likely the
unlucky chap took her for a German, for the rapturous demonstrations
with which a score of his comrades signalized their arrival aboard a few
days before showed very clearly how a French prisoner would greet a
British ship if he knew her nationality.

The _Hercules_ went into her lock at Brunsbüttel an hour before
midnight. The _Regensburg_, which had preceded her through the canal,
was already in the adjoining lock, and in attempting to pass on the
light cruiser _Constance_ and three British destroyers at the same
operation the canal people made rather a mess of things. There was
a savage crashing and tearing of metal at one stage, followed by a
considerable flow of profanity in two languages. When, the next morning
in the Bight, a signal of condolence was made by the _Hercules_ to
one of the destroyers following in her wake on the "messy" state of
its nose, the reply came back. "Don't worry about my nose. You ought
to see the _Regensburg_. I've got a piece of her side-plating on my
forecastle!" That was the second time the unlucky _Regensburg_ had come
to grief in locking through at Brunsbüttel with the ships of the Allied
Naval Commission.

Owing to the fog, the Germans were unable, or unwilling, to send a ship
to take off their pilots from the _Hercules_ and escorting destroyers
after the outer limits of the mine-fields had been passed, and it became
necessary as a consequence to carry them on to Rosyth. The change of
air and food incidental to their personally conducted tour to Scapa
(to await the next German transport home) was evidently a by no means
disagreeable prospect to them, judging by the way they took the news.
The steward who reported that the pilot he was looking after had been
"stowing away grub like he expected a long continuance of the blockade,"
may have stumbled upon the reason for their philosophic attitude.

We found the Firth of Forth as we left it--wrapped in fog. There was
just enough visibility to make it possible to find the gates in the
booms and the main channel under the bridge. The historic voyage came to
an end when the _Hercules_, after tying up to the _Queen Elizabeth's_
buoy for a few hours, went into the dry dock at two-thirty in the
afternoon of the 20th. The Commission left for London the same evening
in a special train provided by the Admiralty.


THE END



Transcriber's Notes:


Simple typographical errors were corrected.

Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant
preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.

Spelling in "dialect" passages not changed.

German nouns printed in lower-case have not been changed to upper-case.

Inconsistently-spaced abbreviations have not been changed.

The following three typographical errors were corrected by referencing a
later edition of this book:

Page 90, paragraph ending: "Liverpool or Liverpool?" ended with a comma
and closing quote.

Page 144 "the latter being" was printed as "the later being".

Page 287: "model cities" was printed as "model cites".





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