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Title: Submarine and Anti-submarine
Author: Newbolt, Henry John, Sir
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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Transcriber’s Note: Italics is indicated by _underscores_; boldface is
indicated by =equals signs=.



[Illustration: “Whose crew abandoned ship and then all stood up and
cursed us.”]



    SUBMARINE
    AND
    ANTI-SUBMARINE


    BY
    HENRY NEWBOLT

    AUTHOR OF ‘THE BOOK OF THE HAPPY WARRIOR,’ ‘TALES OF THE GREAT WAR,’
    ETC.


    WITH A COLOURED FRONTISPIECE AND 20 FULL-PAGE
    ILLUSTRATIONS
    BY NORMAN WILKINSON, R.I.


    NEW YORK:
    LONGMANS, GREEN AND CO.
    FOURTH AVENUE AND 30TH STREET
    39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON
    BOMBAY, CALCUTTA, AND MADRAS
    1919



    TO
    JOHN BUCHAN



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                                                           PAGE

     I. THE SPIRIT OF SUBMARINE WAR                                    1

    II. THE EVOLUTION OF THE SUBMARINE                                10

   III. THE SUBMARINE OF TO-DAY                                       36

    IV. A BRITISH SUBMARINE BASE                                      52

     V. SUBMARINES AND WAR POLICY                                     68

    VI. SUBMARINE _v._ WAR-SHIP                                       78

   VII. WAR-SHIP _v._ SUBMARINE                                       95

  VIII. BRITISH SUBMARINES IN THE BALTIC                             108

    IX. BRITISH SUBMARINES IN THE DARDANELLES                        125

     X. THE U-BOAT BLOCKADE                                          161

    XI. TRAWLERS, SMACKS, AND DRIFTERS                               178

   XII. THE DESTROYERS                                               201

  XIII. P-BOATS AND AUXILIARY PATROL                                 216

   XIV. Q-BOATS                                                      231

    XV. SUBMARINE _v._ SUBMARINE                                     256

   XVI. THE HUNTED                                                   272

  XVII. ZEEBRUGGE AND OSTEND                                         295



ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                                    PAGE

  ‘Whose crew abandoned ship and then all stood up and cursed
      us’ (_Coloured_)                                _Frontispiece_

  ‘Does not look like any ship you have ever seen’                    47

  ‘Towed back by an enemy trawler’                                    59

  ‘She was nearly submerged when the seaplane passed over her’        63

  ‘Turning passengers and crews adrift in open boats’                 75

  ‘Were brought in by the 50-ton smack _Provident_ of Brixham’        83

  ‘She had gone full speed for the enemy, and rammed him’             99

  ‘The Russian ice-breakers freed them from the harbour ice’         121

  ‘The Fort gave them 200 rounds at short range’                     129

  ‘Made her fast alongside his conning-tower’                        135

  ‘She was mortally hit’                                             149

  ‘_I’ll Try’s_ shell struck the base of the conning-tower’          185

  ‘The U-boat started with an enormous advantage of gun power’       199

  ‘U.C.-boats stealing in across the black and silver water’         211

  ‘The diver who first went down found the submarine lying on her
      side’                                                          229

  ‘A fourth boat was partially lowered with a proper amount of
      confusion’                                                     241

  ‘The U-boat never recovered from the surprise’                     245

  ‘Was steering about in figures of 8, with his gun still manned’    265

  ‘A huge column of water which fell plump on the Commander’         287

  ‘The submarine suddenly broke surface’                             291

  ‘A tremendous explosion was seen at the shore end of the Mole’     305



SUBMARINE AND ANTI-SUBMARINE



CHAPTER I

THE SPIRIT OF SUBMARINE WAR


It is probable that a good deal of the information contained in this
book will be new to the public; for it has been collected under
favour of exceptional circumstances. But the reader will gain little
if he cannot contribute something on his side--if he cannot share
with the writer certain fundamental beliefs. The first of these is
that every nation has a spirit of its own--a spirit which is the
mainspring of national action. It is more than a mechanical spring;
for it not only supplies a motive force, but determines the moral
character of the action which results. When we read the history of
nations, and especially the history of their explorations, wars, and
revolutions, we soon recognise the spirit of each, and learn to expect
its appearance in every moment of crisis or endurance. If it duly
appears, our impression is confirmed; if it fails on any occasion, we
are disappointed. But the disappointments are few--nations may at times
surprise us; but, as a rule, they are like themselves. Even when they
develop and seem to change, they are apt, under the stress of action,
to return to their aboriginal character, and to exhibit it in their
old historic fashion. To attempt, then, to give an account of any
national struggle, without paying attention to the influence of the
characteristic spirit of the country or countries concerned, would be
a difficult undertaking, and a mistaken one. Even in a short crisis, a
great people will probably display its historic colours, and in a long
one it certainly will. To ignore this, to describe national actions
without giving a sense of the animating spirit, would be not only a
tame and inadequate method; it would lower the value of life itself by
making mere prose of what should, by right, partake of the nature of
poetry. History cannot often be entirely poetical, or poetry entirely
historical. When Homer told the tale of Troy, he did not make prose--or
even history--of it. He everywhere infused into it ‘an incomparable
ardour’--he made an epic. But Mr. Thomas Hardy wrote history in ‘The
Dynasts,’ and made it an epic too. An epic--the common definition tells
us--is ‘a theme of action treated in heroic proportions and style.’
‘The Dynasts’ certainly is that--the struggle is great, the issues
are great, the men are great. Even more than their heroic fighting,
their speech and manners in the moment of action are such as to show
unfailingly by what a distinctive and ever-present spirit national life
may be sustained and magnified.

When we come to nearer times, and more familiar events, the same
necessity is upon us. What writer of artistic sense, or scientific
honesty, would touch, for example, the history of modern Egypt without
attempting to understand the character of such men as Gordon and
Cromer, and the spirit which (however personal and diverse in its
manifestations) they both drew from the nation that sent them forth?
Such an understanding would enable the narrator to carry us all with
him. For every man of our national birth and breeding would feel,
when he was told the story of such heroes, not only their superiority
but their likeness to himself. ‘There,’ he would say, ‘but for lack
of fortune, or opportunity, or courage, or stature, there goes John
Smith.’ It is admiration which helps us to feel that, and a mean spirit
which conceals it from us.

Further, it is my belief that the historian who would deal adequately
with our present War must have an even wider understanding and
sympathy. He must have a broad enough view to recognise all the various
motives which impelled us, section by section, to enter the struggle;
and a deep enough insight to perceive that, below all motives which can
be expressed or debated in words, there was an instinct--a spontaneous
emotion--which irresistibly stirred the majority of our people, and
made us a practically unanimous nation. He must be able to see that
this unanimity was no freak--no sudden outburst--but the natural
fulfilment of a strong and long-trained national character; and he must
trace, with grateful admiration, the national service contributed by
many diverse classes, and by a large number of distinguished men--the
leaders and patterns of the rest. However scientific the historian’s
judgments, and however restrained his style, it must be impossible for
any reader to miss the real point of the narrative--the greatness of
the free nations, and the nobility of their heroes. Belgians, Serbians,
French, Italians, Americans--all must hear their great men honoured,
and their corporate virtues generously recognised. We Britons, for our
own part, must feel, at every mention of the names of our champions,
the fine sting of the invisible fire with which true glory burns the
heart. It must never be possible to read, without an uplifting of the
spirit, the achievements of commanders like Smith-Dorrien, Haig, and
Birdwood--Plumer and Rawlinson, Allenby and Byng, and Horne; or the
fate of Cradock and Kitchener; or the sea-fights of Beatty and Sturdee,
of Keyes and Tyrwhitt. It must be clear, from the beginning to the end
of the vast record, that the British blood has equalled and surpassed
its ancient fame--that in every rank the old virtues of courage,
coolness, and endurance, of ordered energy and human kindliness, have
been, not the occasional distinction, but the common characteristics
of our men. Look where you will on the scene of war, you must be shown
‘a theme of action treated in heroic proportions and style’--fit, at
least, to indicate the greatness of the national spirit.

In this book our concern is with the war at sea, and with a part only
of that gigantic effort. But of this part, every word that has been
said holds good. The submarine and anti-submarine campaign is not a
series of minor operations. Its history is not a mere episode among
chapters of greater significance. On the contrary, the fate of Britain,
and the fate of Germany, were speedily seen to be staked upon the issue
of this particular contest, as they have been staked upon no other
part of the world-wide struggle. The entrance of America into the
fellowship of nations was involved in it. The future of civilisation
depends upon it. Moreover, in its course the British seaman has shown
himself possessed, in the highest degree, of the qualities by which
his forefathers conquered and kept our naval predominance; and finally,
it is in the submarine war that we see most sharply the contrast of the
spirit of chivalry with the spirit of savagery; of the law of humanity
with the lawlessness of brute force; of the possible redemption of
social life with its irretrievable degradation. It is a subject worthy,
thrice over, of treatment in a national epic.

The present book is not an epic--it is not a poetical work at all.
Half of it is mere technical detail; and the rest plain fact plainly
told. But it is far from my intention that the sense of admiration
for national heroes, or the recognition of national greatness, shall
be absent from it. I have used few epithets; for they seemed to me
needless and inadequate. The stories of the voyages and adventures
of our own submarines, and of the fighting of our men against the
pirates, need no heightening. They need only to be read and understood;
and it is chiefly with a view to their better understanding, that
the reader is offered a certain amount of comment and description in
the earlier chapters. But a suggestion or two may be made here, at
the very beginning, in the hope of starting a train of thought which
may accompany the narrative with a whisper of historic continuity--a
reminder that as with men, so with nations--none becomes utterly base
on a sudden, or utterly heroic. Their vices and their virtues are the
harvesting of their past.

Let us take a single virtue, like courage, which is common to all
nations but shows under a different form or colour in each, and
so becomes a national characteristic, plainly visible in action.
A historical study of British courage would, I believe, show two
facts: first, that the peculiar quality of it has persisted for
centuries; and, secondly, that if our people have changed at all in
this respect, they have only changed in the direction of greater
uniformity. Once they had two kinds of courage in war; now they have
but one, and that by far the better one. In the old days, among the
cool and determined captains of our race, there were always a certain
number of hot heads--‘men of courage without discipline, of enthusiasm
without reason, of will without science.’ The best of them, like Sir
Richard Grenville, had the luck to die conspicuously, in their great
moments, and so to leave us an example of the spirit that defies odds,
and sets men above the fear of death. The rest led their men into
mad adventures, where they perished to the injury of their cause.
Most Englishmen can understand the pure joy of onset, the freedom of
the moment when everything has been given for the hope of winning
one objective; but it has been the more characteristic way of our
people--at any rate for the last five centuries--to double courage
with coolness, and fight not only their hardest but their best. From
Cressy to Waterloo, and from Mons to Arras, we have won many battles
by standing steadily and shooting the attack to pieces. Charges our
men have made, but under discipline and in the nick of opportunity.
The Black Prince charged fiercely at Poitiers; but it was only when he
had broken three attacks, and saw his chance to win. The charge of the
Worcesters at Gheluvelt, the charge of the Oxfords at Nonneboschen, and
a hundred more like them, were as desperate as any ‘ride of death’; but
they were neither reckless nor useless, they were simply the heroic
move to win the game. Still more is this the rule at sea. Beatty at
Jutland, like Nelson and Collingwood at Trafalgar, played an opening in
which he personally risked annihilation; but nothing was ever done with
greater coolness, or more admirable science. The perfect picture of all
courage is, perhaps, a great British war-ship in action; for there you
have, among a thousand men, one spirit of elation, of fearlessness, of
determination, backed by trained skill and a self-forgetful desire to
apply it in the critical moment. The submarine, and the anti-submarine
ship, trawler or patrol-boat are, on a smaller scale, equally perfect
examples; for there is no hour of their cruise when they are not within
call of the critical moment. In the trenches, in the air, in the fleet,
you will see the same steady skilful British courage almost universally
exemplified. But in the submarine war, the discipline needed is even
more absolute, the skill even more delicate, the ardour even more
continuous and self-forgetful; and all these demands are even more
completely fulfilled.

This is fortunate, and doubly fortunate; for the submarine war has
proved to be the main battlefield of our spiritual crusade, as well
as a vital military campaign. The men engaged in it have been marked
out by fate, as our champions in the contest of ideals. They are the
patterns and defenders of human nature in war, against those who
preach and practise barbarism. Here--and nowhere else so clearly as
here--the world has seen the death struggle between the two spirits
now contending for the future of mankind. Between the old chivalry,
and the new savagery, there can be no more truce; one of the two must
go under, and the barbarians knew it when they cried _Weltmacht oder
Niedergang_. Of the spirit of the German nation it is not necessary
to say much. Everything that could be charged against them has been
already proved, by their own words and actions. They have sunk without
warning women and children, doctors and nurses, neutrals and wounded
men, not by tens or hundreds but by thousands. They have publicly
rejoiced over these murders with medals and flags, with songs and
school holidays. They have not only broken the rules of international
law; they have with unparalleled cruelty, after sinking even neutral
ships, shot and drowned the crews in open boats, that they might
leave no trace of their crimes. The men who have done--and are still
doing--these things have courage of a kind. They face danger and
hardship to a certain point, though, by their own account, in the last
extreme they fail to show the dignity and sanity with which our own
men meet death. But their peculiar defect is not one of nerve, but
of spirit. They lack that instinct which, with all civilised races,
intervenes, even in the most violent moment of conflict or desperation,
and reminds the combatant that there are blows which it is not lawful
to strike in any circumstances whatever. This instinct--the religion
of all chivalrous peoples--is connected by some with humanity, by some
with courtesy, by ourselves with sport. In this matter we are all in
the right. The savage in conflict thinks of nothing but his own violent
will; the civilised and the chivalrous are always conscious of the fact
that there are other rights in the world beside their own. The humane
man forbears his enemy; the courteous man respects him, as one with
rights like his own; the man with the instinct of sport knows that
he must not snatch success by destroying the very game itself. The
civilised nation will not hack its way to victory through the ruins
of human life. It will be restrained, if by no other consideration,
yet at least by the recollection that it is but one member of a human
fellowship, and that the greatness of a part can never be achieved by
the corruption of the whole.

The German nature is not only devoid of this instinct, it is roused
to fury by the thought of it. Any act, however cruel and barbarous,
if only it tends to defeat the enemies of Germany, is a good deed, a
brave act, and to be commended. The German general who lays this down
is supported by the German professor who adds: ‘The spontaneous and
elementary hatred towards England is rooted in the deepest depths of
our own being--there, where considerations of reason do not count,
where the irrational, the instinct, alone dominates. We hate in the
English the hostile principle of our innermost and highest nature. And
it is well that we are fully aware of this, because we touch therein
the vital meaning of this War.’ Before the end comes, the barbarian
will find this hostile principle, and will hate it, in the French, the
Italians, the Americans--in the whole fellowship of nations against
which he is fighting with savage fury. But, to our satisfaction, he has
singled us out first; for, when we hear him, we too are conscious of a
spontaneous hatred in the depths of our being; and we see that in this
we do ‘touch the vital meaning of this War.’



CHAPTER II

THE EVOLUTION OF THE SUBMARINE


Many are the fables which the Germans have done their best to pass off
for truth among the spectators of the present War; but not one is more
wilfully and demonstrably false, than their account of the origin of
the submarine. According to the story which they have endeavoured to
spread among the unthinking public in neutral countries, the under-sea
boat--the arm with which they claim to have revolutionised naval
warfare--is the product of German ingenuity and skill. The French, they
say, had merely played with the idea; their submarines were costly
toys, dangerous only to those who tried to navigate them. The Americans
had shown some promise half a century ago; but having since become a
pacifist race of dollar-hunters, they had lost interest in war, and
their boats would be found useless in practice. As for the British, the
day of their naval power was past; they had spent their time and money
upon the mania for big ships, and neglected the more scientific vessel,
the submarine, which had made the big ships obsolete in a single year’s
campaign. The ship of the future, the U-boat, was the national weapon
of Germany alone.

The claim was unjustified; but, so far, it was not--to an uninstructed
neutral--obviously unjustified. The Americans were not yet at war; the
submarines of France and Britain were hardly ever heard of. Our boats
had few targets, and their operations were still further restricted by
the rules of international law, which we continued to keep, though our
enemies did not. Moreover, whatever our Service did achieve was done
secretly; and even our successes were announced so briefly and vaguely
as to make no impression. The result was that the Germans were able
to make out a plausible title to the ‘command of the sea beneath the
surface’; and they even gained a hearing for the other half of their
claim, which was unsupported by any evidence whatever. The submarine
is not, in its origin, of German invention; the idea of submarine war
was not a German idea, nor have Germans contributed anything of value
to the long process of experiment and development by which the idea has
been made to issue in practical under-water navigation. From beginning
to end, the Germans have played their characteristic part. They have
been behind their rivals in intelligence; they have relied on imitation
of the work of others; on discoveries methodically borrowed and
adapted; and when they have had to trust to their own abilities, they
have never passed beyond mediocrity. They have shown originality in one
direction only--their ruthless disregard of law and humanity. These
statements are not the outcome of partisanship, but of a frank study of
the facts. They are clearly proved by the history of submarine war.

That history may be said to begin with the second half of the sixteenth
century, when the two main principles or aims of submarine war were
first set forth--both by English seamen. Happily the records remain.
Sir William Monson, one of Queen Elizabeth’s admirals, in his famous
‘Naval Tracts,’ suggests that a powerful ship may be sunk much more
easily by an under-water shot than by ordinary gunfire. His plan is
‘to place a cannon in the hold of a bark, with her mouth to the side
of the ship: the bark shall board, and then to give fire to the cannon
that is stowed under water, and they shall both instantly sink: the man
that shall execute this stratagem may escape in a small boat hauled the
other side of the bark.’

This is the germinal idea from which sprang the submarine mine or
torpedo; and the first design for a submarine boat was also produced
by the English Navy in the same generation. The author of this was
William Bourne, who had served as a gunner under Sir William Monson.
His invention is described in his book of ‘Inventions or Devices’
published in 1578, and is remarkable for its proposed method of solving
the problem of submersion. This is to be achieved by means of two
side-tanks, into which water can be admitted through perforations, and
from which it can be blown out again by forcing the inner side of each
tank outwards. These false sides are made tight with leather suckers,
and moved by winding hand-screws--a crude and inefficient mechanism,
but a proof that the problem had been correctly grasped. For a really
practical solution of this, and the many other difficulties involved
in submarine navigation, the resources of applied science were then
hopelessly inadequate. It was not until after more than three hundred
years of experiment that inventors were in a position to command a
mechanism that would carry out their ideas effectively.

The record of these three centuries of experiment is full of interest;
for it shows us a long succession of courageous men taking up, one
after another, the same group of scientific problems and bringing them,
in spite of all dangers and disasters, gradually nearer to a final
solution. Many nations contributed to the work, but especially the
British, the American, the Dutch, the French, the Spanish, the Swedish,
the Russian, and the Italian. The part played by each of them has been,
on the whole, characteristic. The British were the first, as practical
seamen, to put forward the original idea, gained from the experience of
their rivalry with Spain. They have also succeeded, at the end of the
experimental period, in making the best combined use of the results of
the long collaboration. A Dutchman built the first practical submarine,
and achieved the first successful dive. The Americans have made the
greatest number of inventions, and of daring experiments in earlier
wars. The French have shown, as a nation, the strongest interest in
the idea, and their navy was effectively armed with submarines ten
years before that of any other Power. To them, to the Dutch, and to
the Italians, the credit belongs of that indispensable invention, the
optic tube or periscope. The Swedes and Russians have the great names
of Nordenfelt and Drzewiecki to their credit. The Germans alone, among
the eight or nine nations interested in the science of naval war, have
from first to last contributed almost nothing to the evolution of the
submarine. The roll of submarine inventors includes about 175 names,
of which no less than 60 belong to the English-speaking peoples, but
only six to Germany. Among these six, the name of Bauer is remembered
as that of a courageous experimenter, persevering through a career of
repeated failures; but neither he, nor any of his fellow countrymen,
advanced the common cause by the suggestion of a single idea of value.
Finally, when the German Admiralty, after the failure of their own
Howaldt boat, decided to borrow the Holland type from America, it was
no German, but the Franco-Spanish engineer d’Equevilley, who designed
for them the first five U-boats, of which all the later ones are
modifications. The English Admiralty were in no such straits. They were
only one year before the Germans in adopting the Holland type; but
the native genius at their disposal has enabled them to keep ahead of
their rivals from that day to this, in the design, efficiency, size,
and number of their submarine vessels. And this result is exactly what
might have been expected from the history of submarine invention.

The construction of a workable submarine depends upon the discovery and
solution of a number of problems, the first five of which may be said
to be the problems of--

    1.  Submersion.
    2.  Stability.
    3.  Habitability.
    4.  Propulsion and Speed.
    5.  Offensive Action.

If we take these in order, and trace the steps by which the final
solution was approached, we shall be able to confirm what has been said
about the work contributed by successive inventors.

1. _Submersion._--We have seen that for submersion and return to the
surface, Bourne had at the very beginning devised the side-tank to
which water could be admitted, and from which it could be ‘blown out’
at will. Bushnell, a remarkable inventor of British-American birth,
substituted a hand-pump in his boat of 1771, for the mechanism proposed
by Bourne. In 1795, Armand-Maizière, a Frenchman, designed a steam
submarine vessel to be worked by ‘a number of oars vibrating on the
principle of a bird’s wing.’ Of these ‘wings,’ one lot were intended
to make the boat submerge. Nothing came of this proposal, and for more
than a century tanks and pumps remained the sole means of submersion.
In 1893 Haydon, an American, invented a submarine for the peaceful
purpose of exploring the ocean bed. Its most important feature was the
method of submersion. This was accomplished by means of an interior
cylindrical tank, with direct access to the sea, and fitted with two
powerfully geared pistons. By simply drawing the pistons in, or pushing
them out, the amount of water ballast could be nicely regulated, and
the necessity for compressed air or other expellants was avoided. This
device would have given great satisfaction to William Bourne, the
Elizabethan gunner, whose original idea, after more than two centuries,
it carried out successfully. Finally, in 1900, the American inventor,
Simon Lake, in his _Argonaut II._, introduced a new method of diving.
For the reduction of the vessel’s floatability he employed the usual
tanks; but for ‘travelling’ between the surface and the bottom, he
made use of ‘four big hydroplanes, two on each side, that steer the
boat either down or up.’ Similar hydroplanes, or horizontal rudders,
appeared in the later Holland boats, and are now in common use in all
submarine types.

Lake was of British descent, his family having emigrated from Wales to
New Jersey; but he owed his first interest in submarine construction,
and many of his inventive ideas, to the brilliant French writer,
Jules Verne, whose book ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea’ came
by chance into his hands when he was a boy ten years old, and made a
lasting impression upon him.

2. _Stability._--Next to the power of submersion, the most necessary
quality in a submarine is that of stability under water. The most
obvious method of securing this is by water ballast, which was probably
the first means actually employed. Bushnell, in 1771, substituted a
heavy weight of lead, as being more economical of space and better
suited to the shape of his boat, which resembled a turtle in an upright
position. The leaden ballast, being detachable at will, also acted as
a safety weight, to be dropped at a moment of extreme urgency. In the
_Nautilus_, built in 1800 by the famous engineer, Robert Fulton, an
American of English birth and education, the leaden weight reappeared
as a keel, and was entirely effective. The inventor, in a trial at
Brest in 1801, dived to a depth of 25 feet, and performed successful
evolutions in different directions for over an hour. Bauer, fifty years
later, returned to the ballast principle, and used both a water-tank
and a safety weight in the same boat. The results were disastrous.
His first submarine sank at her first trial in Kiel harbour, and was
never refloated. His second was built in England; but this, too, sank,
with great loss of life. His third, _Le Diable Marin_, after several
favourable trials at Cronstadt, fouled her propeller in a bed of
seaweed, and the releasing of the safety weights only resulted in
bringing her bows to the surface. The crew escaped with difficulty, and
the vessel then sank.

Three years later, in 1861, Olivier Riou designed two boats, in both of
which stability was to be preserved automatically by the device of a
double hull. The two cylinders which composed it, one within the other,
were not fixed immovably to one another, but were on rollers, so that
if the outer hull rolled to the right the inner rolled to the left.
By this counterbalancing effect, it was estimated that the stability
of the vessel would be absolutely secured; but nothing is recorded of
the trials of these boats. The celebrated French inventors, Bourgois
and Brun, reintroduced the principle of water-tanks combined with a
heavy iron ballast keel. But in 1881, the Rev. W. Garrett, the English
designer of the Nordenfelt boats, invented a new automatic mechanism
for ensuring stability. This consisted of two vertical rudders with
a heavy pendulum weight so attached to them that, if the boat dipped
out of the horizontal, the pendulum swung down and gave the rudders
an opposite slant which raised the vessel again to a horizontal
position. This arrangement, though perfect in theory, in practice
developed fatal defects, and subsequent types have all returned to the
use of water-tanks, made to compensate, by elaborate but trustworthy
mechanism, for every loss or addition of weight.

3. _Habitability._--For the habitability of a submarine the prime
necessity is a supply of air capable of supporting life during the
period of submersion. The first actual constructor of a submarine,
Cornelius van Drebbel, of Alkmaar, in Holland, was fully aware of
this problem, and claimed to have solved it, not by mechanical but by
chemical means. His improved boat, built in England about 1622, carried
twelve rowers, besides passengers, among whom King James I. is said to
have been included on one occasion, and was successfully navigated for
several hours at a depth of ten to fifteen feet. ‘Drebbel conceived,’
says Robert Boyle, in 1662, ‘that ’tis not the whole body of the air,
but a certain Quintessence (as Chymists speake) or spirituous part of
it that makes it fit for respiration, which being spent, the grosser
body or carcase (if I may so call it) of the Air, is unable to cherish
the vital flame residing in the heart: so that (for aught I could
gather) besides the Mechanical contrivance of his vessel he had a
Chymical liquor, which he accounted the chief secret of his Submarine
Navigation. For when from time to time, he perceived that the finer and
purer part of the Air was consumed or over-clogged by the respiration
and steames of those that went in his ship, he would, by unstopping a
vessel full of the liquor, speedily restore to the troubled air such a
proportion of vital parts as would make it again for a good while fit
for Respiration.’

Drebbel, who was a really scientific man, may possibly have discovered
this chemical secret. If so, he anticipated by more than 200 years
a very important device now in use in all submarines, and in any
case he was the originator of the idea. But his son-in-law, a German
named Kuffler, who attempted after Drebbel’s death to exploit his
submarine inventions, was a man of inferior ability, and either
ignorant of the secret or incapable of utilising it. For another
century and a half, submarine designers contented themselves with the
small supply of air which was carried down at the time of submersion.
Even the _Turtle_--Bushnell’s boat of 1776, which has been described
as ‘the first submarine craft which really navigated under serious
conditions’--was only built to hold one man with a sufficient supply
of air for half an hour’s submersion. This was a bare minimum of
habitability, and Fulton, twenty-five years later, found it necessary
to equip his _Nautilus_ with a compressed air apparatus. Even with
this, the crew of two could only be supplied for one hour. In 1827,
the very able French designer, Castera, took out a patent for a
submarine life-boat, to which air was to be supplied by a tube from
the surface, protected by a float, from which the whole vessel was
suspended. The danger here was from the possible entry of water through
the funnel, and the boat, though planned with great ingenuity, was
never actually tried. Bauer, in 1855, fitted his _Diable Marin_ with
large water-tubes, running for thirty feet along the top of the boat
and pierced with small holes from which, when desired, a continual
rain could be made to fall. This shower-bath had a purifying effect on
the vitiated air, but it had obvious disadvantages; and there is no
record of its having been put into actual use before the unfortunate
vessel sank, as before related. In the same year, a better principle
was introduced by Babbage, an English inventor, who designed a naval
diving-bell, fitted with three cylinders of compressed air. His method
was followed by Bourgois and Brun, whose boats of 1863-5 carried
steel reservoirs with compressed air, at a pressure of at least 15
atmospheres. The principle was now established, and was adopted in
Holland and Lake boats, and in all subsequent types, with the addition
of chemical treatment of the vitiated air.

4. _Propulsion._--The various solutions of this problem have naturally
followed the successive steps in the development of machinery. Drebbel
made use of oars. Bushnell, though he speaks of ‘an oar,’ goes on
to describe it as ‘formed upon the principle of the screw--its axis
entered the vessel, and being turned one way rowed the vessel forward,
but being turned the other way rowed it backward: it was made to be
turned by the hand or foot.’ Moreover, he had a similar ‘oar’ placed
at the top of the vessel, which helped it to ascend or descend in the
water. The conclusion seems unavoidable that to this designer belongs
the honour of having invented the screw propeller, and also of having
put it into successful operation. Fulton adopted the same method of
propeller and hand-winch in his _Nautilus_; but his huge vessel,
the _Mute_, built in 1814 to carry 100 men, was driven by a silent
steam-engine. He died during the trials of this boat, and further
experiment with it seems to have been abandoned, possibly owing to the
great interest excited by his first war steamer, which was building at
the same time. A regrettable set-back was thus caused. For forty years
no one experimented with any kind of propulsory engine. Bauer, in 1855,
could devise no better method of working his propeller than a system
of 7-foot wheels, turned by a pair of men running on a treadmill. At
the same moment, however, a more fruitful genius was at work. A French
professor, Marié-Davy, designed a submarine in which the propeller
was driven by an electro-magnetic engine placed in the stern of the
ship, with batteries forward. The idea was a valuable one, with a
great future before it, though for the moment it achieved no visible
success. A year later, in 1855, the famous British engineer, James
Nasmyth, designed a ‘submerged mortar,’ which was in reality a ram
of great weight and thickness, capable of being submerged level with
the surface, and driven at a speed of over 10 knots by a steam-engine
with a single high-pressure boiler. But in spite of the simplicity
and power of this boat, it was finally rejected as being neither
invisible nor invulnerable to an armed enemy; and in their desire
to obtain complete submersion, the French inventors of the next few
years--Hubault, Conseil, and Masson--all returned to the hand-winch
method of propulsion. Riou, however, in 1861, adopted steam for one of
his boats, and electric power for the other; and in 1883 the American
engineer, Alstitt, built the first submarine fitted with both steam
and electricity. Steam was also used in the _Plongeur_ of Bourgois and
Brun, which was completed in the same year.

The American Civil War then gave a great opportunity for practical
experiments in torpedo attack; but the difficulty of wholly submerged
navigation not having been yet solved, the boats used were not true
submarines, but submersibles. Their propulsion was by steam, and their
dimensions small. A more ambitious invention was put forward in 1869
by a German, Otto Vogel, whose design was accepted by the Prussian
Government. His submersible steamship was to be heavily armed, and
was ‘considered the equal of a first-class iron-clad in defensive and
offensive powers.’ These powers, however, never came into operation.

Inventors now returned to the designing of true submarines; and after
the Frenchman, Constantin, the American, Halstead, and the Russian,
Drzewiecki, had all made the best use they could of the hand-winch or
the pedal for propulsion, three very interesting attempts were made in
1877-8 to secure a more satisfactory engine. Olivier’s boat, patented
in May 1877-8, was to be propelled by the gases generated from the
ignition of high explosives, the massed vapours escaping through a tube
at the stern. This ingenious method was, however, too dangerous for
practical use. Surman’s design of 1878 included a propeller, rotated
by compressed air. But the English boat of the same date, Garrett’s
_Resurgam_, was much the most noteworthy of the three, and introduced
a method which may in the future be brought to perfection with great
results. In this boat, the motive force was steam, and propulsion under
water, as well as on the surface, was aimed at and actually attained.
In her trials, the vessel showed herself capable of navigating under
water for a distance of 12 miles, by getting up a full head of steam
in a very powerful boiler, with the aid of a blower, before diving;
then by shutting the fire-door and chimney, and utilising the latent
heat as long as it would last. When the heat was exhausted, it was,
of course, necessary to return to the surface, slow up the fire
again and recharge the boiler with water. The vessel was remarkably
successful, and had the great merit of showing no track whatever when
moving under water. She was lost by an accident, but not until she had
impressed Nordenfelt, the Swedish inventor, so strongly that he secured
the services of her designer, Garrett, for the building of his own
submarine boats. The first of these appeared in 1881.

In the same year were patented Woodhouse’s submarine, driven by
compressed air, and Génoud’s, with a gas-engine worked by hydrogen,
which is said to have attained a speed of between four and five
knots. Blakesley, in 1884, proposed to use steam raised in a fireless
boiler heated by a chemical composition. In 1884, too, Drzewiecki
produced the fourth of his ingenious little boats, driven this time
not by pedals but by an electric motor. His example was followed by
Tuck of San Francisco shortly afterwards, and by Campbell and Ash in
their _Nautilus_, which in 1886 underwent very successful trials in
the West Indian Docks at Tilbury, near London. In 1886 D’Allest, the
celebrated French engineer, designed a submarine fitted with a petrol
combustion engine. But the question of propulsion may be said to have
been finally settled, within a few months after this, in favour of the
electro-motor. For Gustave Zédé’s famous _Gymnote_, which was actually
put on the stocks in April 1887, attained in practice a surface speed
of 10 knots, and a maximum of 7 to 8 under water. This success saved
future designers the trouble of further experiments with ingenious
futilities.

5. _Offensive Action._--We have so far been considering the development
of the submarine as a vessel navigable under water, without reference
to the purpose of offence in war. But this purpose was from the first
in view; and with almost all the inventors recorded, it formed the main
incentive of their efforts. The evolution of the submarine weapon has
been much simpler, and more regular, than that of the vessel which was
to use it; but it has been equally wonderful, and the history of it is
equally instructive. Briefly, the French, in this department as in the
other, have shown the most imaginative enthusiasm, the Americans the
greatest determination to achieve results--even with crude or dangerous
means--while the English have to their credit both the earliest
attempts in actual war, and the final achievement of the automobile
torpedo. Of the Germans, as before, we must record that they have
contributed nothing of any scientific value.

Sir William Monson’s device of a bark, with an under-water cannon and
an accompanying boat was soon developed by the English navy into the
more practicable mine, self-contained and floating, to be towed by boat
or submarine. In January, 1626, the King gave a warrant to the Master
of the Ordnance, ‘for the making of divers water-mines, water-petards,
and boates to goe under water.’ In June of the same year, the Duke of
Buckingham, then commanding the naval expedition for the relief of La
Rochelle, issued a warrant ‘for the delivery of 50 water-mynes, 290
water-petards, and 2 boates to conduct them under water.’ Pepys in
his ‘Diary’ for March 14, 1662, mentions a proposal by Kuffler of an
‘engine to blow up ships.’ He adds, ‘We doubted not the matter of fact,
it being tried in Cromwell’s time, but the safety of carrying them in
ships;’ and probably this distrust of Drebbel’s German subordinate
proved to be justified, for nothing more is heard of the design. The
attempt referred to as made ‘in Cromwell’s time’ may have been Prince
Rupert’s attack on Blake’s flagship, the _Leopard_, in 1650. The engine
then used was not a submarine one but an infernal machine, concealed
in an oil-barrel, brought alongside in a shore boat by men disguised as
Portuguese, and intended to be hoisted on board the ship and then fired
by a trigger and string. A more ingenious ‘ship-destroying engine’
was devised by the Marquess of Worcester in 1655. This was evidently
a clock-machine, for it might be affixed to a ship either inside, by
stealth, or outside by a diver, ‘and at an appointed minute, though a
week after, either day or night, it shall infallibly sink that ship.’

The clock machine was actually first tried in action in 1776 by
Bushnell, or rather by Sergeant Lee, whom he employed to work his
_Turtle_ for him. The attack by this submarine upon the _Eagle_,
a British 64-gun ship lying in the Hudson River, was very nearly
successful. The _Turtle_ reached the enemy’s stern unobserved,
carrying a mine or magazine of 150 lbs. of powder, and provided with a
detachable wood-screw which was to be turned until it bit firmly on the
ship’s side. The mine was then to be attached to it, and the clockwork
set going. The wood-screw, however, bit upon some iron fittings instead
of wood, and failed to hold; the tide also was too strong for Lee, who
had to work the wood-screw and the propeller at the same time. He came
to the surface, was chased by a guard-boat, and dived again, abandoning
his torpedo, which drifted and blew up harmlessly when the clockwork
ran down. Lee escaped, but the _Turtle_ was soon afterwards caught and
sunk by the British. Bushnell himself, in the following year, attacked
the _Cerberus_ with a ‘machine’ consisting of a trigger-mine towed
by a whale-boat. He was detected, and his mine captured by a British
schooner, the crew of which, after hauling the machine on deck,
accidentally exploded it themselves, three out of the four of them
being killed.

In 1802 Fulton’s _Nautilus_, in her trials at Brest, succeeded in
blowing up a large boat in the harbour. In 1814 his submersible, the
_Mute_, was armed with ‘columbiads,’ or immensely strong under-water
guns, which had previously been tried with success on an old hulk.
Similar guns were tried nearly fifty years later by the Spanish
submarine designer Monturiol. But the offensive weapon of the period
was the mine, and the ingenuity of inventors was chiefly directed
to methods of affixing it to the side or bottom of the ship to be
destroyed. One of these was the use of long gloves of leather or
rubber, protruding from the interior of the submarine, invented by
Castera in 1827, and adopted by Bauer, Drzewiecki, and Garrett in
succession. But the device was both unhandy and dangerous; there would
often be great difficulty in manœuvring the boat into a position in
which the gloves would be available, and they could not be made thick
enough to withstand the pressure of any depth of water. Practical
military instinct demanded a method of launching the mine or torpedo
against the target, and the first attempts were made by placing a
trigger-mine at the end of a spar carried by the nose of the attacking
boat. In October, 1863, during the American Civil War, the forts
of Charleston were in danger from the accurate fire of the Federal
battleship _Ironsides_, and Lieut. Glassell was ordered to attack her
in the submarine _David_. He had no difficulty in getting near his
enemy and exploding his torpedo, but he had misjudged his distance, and
only succeeded in deluging the _Ironsides_ with a column of water. The
submarine was herself severely injured by the explosion and had to be
abandoned. A second _David_, commanded by Lieut. Dixon, in February,
1864, attacked the _Housatonic_, off the same harbour, and in spite
of the greatest vigilance on the part of Admiral Dahlgren’s officers,
succeeded in reaching the side of the battleship, where she lay for
the space of a minute making sure of her contact. The mine was then
fired: the _Housatonic_ rose on a great wave, listed heavily, and sank
at once. The _David_, too, disappeared, and it was found three years
afterwards that she had been irresistibly sucked into the hole made in
her enemy’s side. After this, experiments were made with drifting and
towing mines, and with buoyant mines to be released at a depth below
the enemy’s keel; but by 1868 the invention of the automobile torpedo
by the English engineer, Whitehead, of Fiume, solved the problem of the
submarine offensive in the most sudden and conclusive manner.

_The Torpedo._--Whitehead’s success arose out of the failure of an
enterprising Austrian officer, Captain Lupuis, who had been trying to
steer a small fireship along the surface of the water by means of ropes
from a fixed base either on shore or in a parent ship. The plan was a
crude one and was rejected by the Austrian naval authorities; it was
then entrusted to Whitehead, who found it incapable of any practical
realisation. He was, however, impressed with Lupuis’ belief in the
value of a weapon which could be operated from a distance, and though
he failed in designing a controllable vessel, he conceived the idea of
an automobile torpedo, and, after two years’ work, constructed it in a
practical form. It has been spoken of as ‘the only invention that was
perfect when devised,’ and it certainly came very near perfection at
the first attempt, but it was erratic and could not be made to keep
its depth. In 1868, however, Whitehead invented the ‘balance-chamber,’
which remedied these defects, and brought two finished torpedoes to
England for trial. They were fired by compressed air from a submerged
tube, and at once proved capable of averaging 7½ to 8½ knots up to 600
yards and of striking a ship under way up to 200 yards. The target, an
old corvette in the Medway, was sunk on to the mud by the first shot,
at 136 yards, and immediately after the trials the British Government
bought the secret, and other rights. Imitations were, of course, soon
attempted in other countries, and a type, called the Schwartzkopf,
was for some years manufactured in Berlin and used in the German and
Spanish navies; it was also tried by the Italians and Japanese, but it
failed in the end to hold its own against the Whitehead.

The automobile torpedo was at first used only for the armament of
ordinary war-ships; it was not until 1879 that an American engineer
named Mortensen designed a submarine with a torpedo-tube in the bows.
His example was followed by Berkeley and Hotchkiss in 1880, by Garrett
in his first Nordenfelt boat of 1881, and by Woodhouse and by Lagane
in the same year. Even after this Drzewiecki, Tuck, and D’Allest
designed their submarines without torpedo-tubes, but they were, in
fact, indispensable, and the use of the Whitehead torpedo has been for
the last twenty years assumed as the main function of all submarines
designed for war.

_The Submarine in War._--The difficulties of construction, propulsion,
and armament having now been solved, the submarine at last took its
place among the types of war-ships in the annual lists. From the first
England and France held a marked lead, and in Brassey’s Naval Annual
for 1914 the submarine forces of the chief naval Powers were given
as follows:--Great Britain, 76 vessels built and 20 ordered; France,
70 and 23; the U.S.A., 29 and 31; Germany, 27 and 12. The technical
progress of the four services was probably more equal than their merely
numerical strength; but it was not altogether equal, as may be seen
by a brief comparison of the development of the British and German
submarine types between 1904 and 1914. The eight British A-boats of
1904 had a displacement of 180 tons on surface/207 tons submerged;
the German U1 of 1904-6 was slightly larger (197/236) but in every
other respect inferior--its horse-power was only 250 on surface/100
submerged, as against 550/150, its surface speed only 10 knots against
11·5, and it was fitted with only a single torpedo-tube instead of the
A-boat’s two. This last deficiency was remedied in 1906-8, but the
German displacement did not rise above 210/250 nor the horse-power
above 400/150, while the British advanced to 550/660 and 1200/550.
By 1913 the Germans were building boats of 650/750 displacement and
1400/500 horse-power, but the British were still ahead with 725/810 and
1750/600, and had also a superiority in speed of 16/10 knots to 14/8.
The last German boats of which any details have been published are
those of 1913-14, with a displacement of about 800 tons on the surface
and a maximum speed of 18/7 knots. The British F-boats of the same date
are in every way superior to these, with a displacement of 940/1200, a
speed of 20/12 knots, and an armament of six torpedo-tubes against the
German four. The comparison cannot be carried, in figures, beyond the
date of the outbreak of war, but it is well known among the allies of
Great Britain that the superiority has been amply maintained, and, in
certain important respects, materially increased.

The four years of conflict have, however, afforded an opportunity
for a further, and even more important, comparison. The problems of
submarine war are not all material problems: moral qualities are needed
to secure the efficient working of machinery, the handling of the ship
under conditions of danger and difficulty hitherto unknown in war, and
the conduct of a campaign with new legal and moral aspects of its own.
In two of these departments, those of efficiency and seamanship, the
Germans have achieved a considerable show of success, though it could
be, and in time will be, easily shown that the British naval service
has been more successful still. But in the domain of policy and of
international morality, the comparison becomes no longer a comparison
but a contrast; the new problems have been dealt with by the British in
accordance with the old principles of law and humanity; by the Germans
they have not been solved at all, the knot has simply been cut by the
cruel steel of the pirate and the murderer. The methods of the U-boat
campaign have not only brought successive defeats upon Germany, they
will in the end cripple her commerce for many years; and, in addition
to her material losses, she will suffer the bitter consequences of
moral outlawry.

Of the general efficiency of the German submarines it is too soon to
speak, but it may be readily admitted that they have done well. We
know, of course, many cases of failure--cases in which boats have
been lost by defects in their engines, by running aground through
mishandling in shoal waters, or by inability to free themselves from
British nets. On the other hand, the German patrol has been kept up
with a degree of continuity which, when we remember the dislocation
caused by their severe losses, is, at least, a proof of determination.
But the British submarine service has to its credit a record of work
which, so far as can be judged from the evidence available, is not
only better but has been performed under more difficult and dangerous
circumstances. In the North Sea patrolling has been carried out
regularly, in spite of minefields and of possible danger from the
British squadrons, which must, of course, be avoided as carefully as if
they were enemies. The German High Seas Fleet has been, for the most
part, in hiding, but on the rare and brief occasions when their ships
have ventured on one of their furtive raids British submarines have
done their part, and the only two German Dreadnoughts which have risked
themselves outside Kiel since their Jutland flight were both torpedoed
on the same day. Better opportunities, as we shall see later, were
found in the Baltic, where British submarines, in spite of German and
Swedish nets, ice-fields, and the great distance of bases, succeeded
in establishing a complete panic, by torpedoing a number of German war
vessels and the cargo ships which they were intended to safeguard.

But it was in the Gallipoli campaign that the conditions were most
trying and most novel. The British submarines detailed for the attack
in Turkish waters had to begin by navigating the Dardanelles against a
very rapid current, setting strongly into a succession of bays. They
had to pass searchlights, mines, torpedo-tubes, nets and guard-boats;
and in the Sea of Marmora they were awaited by a swarm of cruisers,
destroyers, and patrol-boats of all kinds. Yet, from the very first,
they were successful in defeating all these. Boat after boat went up
without a failure, and maintained herself for weeks at a time without
a base, returning with an astonishing record of losses inflicted on
the enemy. These records will be given more fully in a later chapter;
but that of E. 14, Lieut.-Commander Courtney Boyle, may be quoted here
as an example, because it is no exceptional instance but merely the
earliest of a number, and set a standard which was well maintained by
those who followed. The passage of the narrows was made through the
Turkish mine-field, and its difficulty may be judged by the fact that
E. 14, during the first 64 hours of the voyage, was diving for 44
hours and 50 minutes. After she began her patrol work, there was more
than one day on which she was under fire the whole day, except when
she dived from time to time. The difficulty of using her torpedoes was
extreme; but she succeeded in hitting and sinking two transports, one
of which was 1,500 yards distant and escorted by three destroyers.
Finally when, after twenty-two days’ patrolling, she began her return
voyage, she was shepherded by a Turkish gunboat, a torpedo-boat, and
a tug, one each side of her and one astern, and all hoping to catch
her in the net; but by deep and skilful diving she escaped them, and
cleared the net and the mine-field at a speed of 7 knots.

Her second patrol extended over twenty-three days. This time the
tide was stronger, and the weather less favourable. The total number
of steamers, grain dhows and provision ships, sunk on this patrol,
amounted to no less than ten, and the return voyage was successfully
accomplished, the boat tearing clean through an obstruction off Bokali
Kalessi.

The third patrol was again twenty-two days. An hour after starting,
E. 14 had her foremost hydroplane fouled by an obstruction which jammed
it for the moment, and threw the ship eight points off her course.
After a quick scrape she got clear, but found afterwards that her guard
wire was nearly cut through. On this trip the wireless apparatus was
for a time out of order, but was successfully repaired; eight good
ships were burnt or sunk, one of them being a supply ship of 5,000
tons. The return voyage was the most eventful of all. E. 14 came full
against the net at Nagara, which had apparently been extended since
she went up. The boat was brought up from 80 feet to 45 feet in three
seconds, but broke away uninjured, with her bow and periscope standards
scraped and scored.

The efficiency of the boat and her crew were beyond praise. Since
leaving England E. 14 had run over 12,000 miles and had spent nearly
seventy days at close quarters with the enemy in the Sea of Marmora;
she had never been in a dockyard or out of running order; she had
had no engine defects except such as were immediately put right by
her own engine-room staff. Yet she made no claim to be better than
her consorts. Nor did she make any boast of her humane treatment of
captured enemies; she merely followed the tradition of the British Navy
in this matter, and the principles of law as accepted by all civilised
nations. The commander of a submarine, whether British or German, has
to contend with certain difficulties which did not trouble the cruiser
captain of former wars. He cannot spare, from his small ship’s company,
a prize crew to take a captured vessel into port; he cannot, except
in very rare cases, hope to take her in himself; and, again, if he is
to sink her, he cannot find room in his narrow boat for more than one
or two prisoners. What he can do is to see that non-combatants and
neutrals, at least, shall be exposed as little as possible to danger or
suffering; he can give them boats and supplies and every opportunity
of reaching land in safety. No one needs to be told how the Germans,
either of their own native cruelty or by the orders of a brutal and
immoral Higher Command, have in such circumstances chosen to deal with
their helpless fellow-men, and even with women and children, and with
the wounded and those attending them. But it may be well to put in
evidence some of the brief notes in which a typical British submarine
commander has recorded as a matter of course his own method on similar
occasions. ‘May 8. Allowed two steamers full of refugees to proceed.’
‘June 20. Boarded and sank 3 sailing dhows; towed crew inshore and gave
them some biscuit, beef, and rum and water, as they were rather wet.’
‘June 22. Let go passenger ship. 23. Burnt two-master and started to
tow crew in their boat, but had to dive. Stopped 2 dhows: crews looked
so miserable that I only sank one and let the other go. 24. Blew up 2
large dhows; saw 2 heads in the water near another ship; turned and
took them up exhausted, gave them food and drink and put them on board
their own ship.’ ‘July 30. Burnt sailing vessel with no boat and spent
remainder of afternoon trying to find a craft to get rid of her crew
into. Found small sailing boat and got rid of them.’ ‘August 3. Burnt
large dhow. Unfortunately, 9 on board, including 2 very old men, and
their boat was small, so I had to take them on board and proceed with
them close to the shore--got rid of them at 9.30 P.M.’

As for the hospital ships, there were numbers of them coming and going;
but, empty or full, it is inconceivable that the British Navy should
make war upon hospital ships. Victory it will desire, but not by
villainy; defeat it will avoid strenuously, but not by the destruction
of the first law of human life. The result is none the less certain:
in the history of submarine war, as in that of all naval war, it will
inevitably be seen that piracy and murder are not the methods of the
strong.



CHAPTER III

THE SUBMARINE OF TO-DAY


The feelings of the average landsman, when he sets foot for the
first time in a submarine, are a strong mixture of curiosity and
apprehension. The curiosity is uppermost--the experience before you
is much more novel than, for example, that of a first trip in an
aeroplane. From a mountain or tower, a great wheel or a balloon, you
have seen the bird’s-eye view of the earth and felt the sensation of
hanging over the aerial abyss. But even the fascinating pages of Jules
Verne have not told you all that you will feel in a submarine, and
nothing but physical experience can do so. You are eager to see the
working of new mechanical devices in a wholly strange element, and to
learn the use of a new weapon in a wholly strange kind of war. But
with this eagerness, there is an underlying sense of uneasiness, a
feeling that you are putting yourself into a position where you are as
helpless as a mouse in a patent trap. The cause of this is not fear of
war risks, for it is equally strong in harbour, or in time of peace. It
is probably connected with the common dread of suffocation, which may
be an instinct inherited from ages of primitive life in the open. They
will tell you, in the submarine service, that it is a mere habit of
mind and very soon forgotten. There is even a story of an officer who,
on coming ashore from a year’s work in an E-boat, refused to travel
in the Tube railway, because it looked so dangerous. He preferred the
risks he was used to, and so do most of us.

You stand, then, at the foot of the narrow iron ladder down which you
have come from the upper air, you gag your inherited instinct, and let
your curiosity loose. Before the boat dives, there is time for a good
deal to be taken in. The interior seems large beyond expectation. This
is partly an illusion, produced by the vista of the compartments, fore
and aft of the central control where you are standing. The bulkhead
doors being all open at this moment, you can see into the engine
and motor rooms towards the stern, and forward through the battery
compartment to the bow torpedo-tubes. The number of men seems large
too, and they are all busy; but you note that every part of them is
more active than their feet--there is very little coming and going. In
the control, close to you, are the captain, a lieutenant, a steersman,
and seven or eight other men for working the ballast tanks, air valves,
electrical apparatus, and hydroplanes. The last two of them have
just come down from the deck--the hatches are closed--engines have
already been running for some minutes, though the order escaped your
observation.

You are invited ‘to see her dive.’ You go up to the forward
conning-tower scuttle and flatten your face against the thick glass. An
order is given. You hear the hissing of air, as the ballast tanks are
filled. You expect to see the forward part of the boat dip down into
the water in which she is heaving. Instead of that, it is apparently
the sea which lifts itself up, moves along the deck, and seems to be
coming in a huge slow wave over your scuttle. The light of day gives
place to a green twilight, full of small bubbles. Mentally you feel a
slight chill; but physically, a warm and sticky sensation. As there is
nothing more to be seen out of window, you return to your instructor.
He explains to you that the ship is now running on her motors, and that
her speed is therefore low--not nearly enough to overhaul a vessel or
convoy of any power. On the surface, with her other engines, she could
far more than double the pace; and even with the motors, she could do
a spurt for a short time--but spurts are very expensive; for they use
up the battery power with ruinous rapidity, and then a return to the
surface will be necessary, whether safe or not.

At this point it may strike you suddenly that you are now under
water--you begin to wonder how deep you are, and why you have not
perceived any change in the boat’s position. The answer is that the
depth marked on the gauges is only twenty feet, and the angle of
descent was therefore very slight--much too slight to be perceptible
in the short length of a single compartment. The depth of twenty feet
is now being maintained with surprising steadiness; the explanation is
that two entirely separate forces are at work. First, there are the
horizontal rudders or hydroplanes, fitted outside the vessel both fore
and aft, by which she can be forced down, provided she has sufficient
way on, in much the same fashion as an ordinary vertical rudder forces
a ship to one side or the other. But this is only the diving apparatus;
to keep her down, there is her water ballast--the water which was taken
into her main ballast tanks, when the order to submerge was given.
These tanks contain a sufficient weight of water to counteract the
normal buoyancy of the boat, by which she would naturally float upon
the surface. When they are emptied, she will neither sink nor rise of
her own motion--she will lie or run at whatever depth she is placed, by
her hydroplanes or otherwise.

These, you will have noticed, were called the ‘main’ ballast
tanks--there would seem then to be others. There are, and several
kinds of them. First, there is an auxiliary ballast tank, which has a
peculiar use of its own. A submarine must be able to float or submerge
in fresh water as well as at sea; for her base or harbour will often
be in the mouth of a river, or she may have to navigate a river, a
canal, or a lake. It is a point that would not probably have occurred
to you, but the difference between the density of fresh and salt water
is sufficiently great to make a real difficulty here. Everyone knows
that it is less easy to float in fresh water, and less easy to sink in
salt. For practical purposes, a submerged boat is less buoyant in fresh
water by 26 tons in 1000, and _vice versa_; so that when a submarine of
1000 tons leaves a river for the sea, she must take an extra 26 tons of
ballast to keep her down, and when she comes home again she must get
rid of 26 tons, or she will sink so much deeper in the fresh water. For
this purpose she has a special tank of the right size, proportioned to
her tonnage; and it is placed in the middle of the ship, in order that
it may not interfere with her trim when it is filled or emptied.

That last remark will put you in mind that, in any kind of navigation,
the trim of the boat is a delicate and important matter. Even in very
large and heavy ships you may be able, by shifting guns or cargo, to
slip off a shoal, or right a leaking vessel after a collision. In a
tickle boat like a submarine, it is necessary to have some means of
trimming the vessel, fore or aft, at any moment, and especially when
about to dive, or when caught by some under-water obstruction. Tanks
are therefore fitted for this purpose at each end of the boat. They
are comparatively small, because the effect required is in ordinary
circumstances very limited, and in a desperate emergency they may need
to be supplemented by rushing the crew fore or aft, as living ballast.
An example of this will be found in a later chapter.

You may now feel that you have heard enough of tanks; but your
instructor will insist on showing you a whole additional series. He
will make a point of your recognising that a submarine, when submerged,
is in reality hanging in the water as a balloon hangs in the air, and
for every loss of weight she must be instantaneously compensated,
or she will begin to rise. What loss of weight can she suffer while
actually under water? It is not perhaps very hard to guess. There is,
first of all, the consumption of oil by the engines; secondly, the
consumption of food and fresh water by the crew; and thirdly, the
departure from time to time of torpedoes. Also, when on the surface,
there may be gun ammunition fired away, or other things heaved
overboard, and allowance must be made for this when the boat goes down
again. The modern submarine is prepared to keep her balance under all
such circumstances. She has compensating tanks, and they are placed as
near as possible to the oil-tank, fresh-water tank, or torpedo-tube,
for whose diminished weight they are to compensate.

You are probably more interested in the torpedo-tubes than in the
oil-tanks. It is time then to go forward. You pass through the battery
compartment, where the officers’ quarters are, and are shown (under the
floor) the accumulators, ranged like the honey sections in the frames
of a beehive, and very carefully covered over with flexible waterproof
covering as well as with close-jointed planking. What would happen if
water did find its way down to the batteries? An instant discharge of
chlorine gas, blinding and suffocating. What would you do then? Come
to the surface at all costs--and lucky if you are in time! The Germans
know all about that--and not long ago one of our own boats was only
saved by the good goal-keeping of a lieutenant, who caught up a lid of
some sort, and stood by the leak, neatly fending off the water spurt
from the door of the battery compartment.

Now you are in the forward torpedo compartment, and there are the
tubes. I need not say anything about their size or number--you will
realise at a glance that when a couple are loosed off at once, a good
deal of weight goes out of the ship. The ordinary 18-inch fish is 17
feet long, and takes some handling. The explosive alone in her war-head
weighs as much as a big man, say 12½ stone, and a 21-inch fish carries
twice as much as that, packed in some four feet of her length. Behind
that comes the air chamber--another ten feet--with the compressed air
to drive the engine, which is in her stern. The air is stored at a
pressure of over 2000 lbs. to the square inch; so the steel walls of
the chamber must be thick, and this makes another heavy item. Lastly,
there is the engine-box with its four-cylinder engine, two propellers,
gyroscope and steering gear. Altogether, an 18-inch fish will weigh
nearly three-quarters of a ton, and a 21-inch over 2000 lbs., so that
the amount of compensation needed when you fire, is considerable.

To see how it is done, we will imagine ourselves firing this starboard
tube. The torpedo is got ready, and special care is taken to make
sure that the firing-pin in her nose is not forgotten. Cases have
been known in which a ship has been hit full by a torpedo which did
not explode--just as a good many Zeppelin bombs were found in London,
after the early raids, with the detonating pin not drawn. The fish is
now ready to come alive, and is slid into the tube. The door is shut
behind it, and the water-tight outer door, at the other end of the
tube, is now ready to be opened by powerful levers. But the immediate
result of this opening would be an inrush of sea-water which would
weigh the boat’s head down; for though the fish’s belly fits the tube
pretty closely, there is a good deal of empty space where it tapers
towards the nose and tail. Here comes in the tank system. When the tube
is loaded, this empty space is filled by water from within the ship,
so that no change of weight occurs when you open the outer door. But
when the firing-button has been pushed, and the torpedo has been shot
out by an air-charge behind it there is no possibility of preventing
the whole tube from filling with water, and this water must be got rid
of before the tube can be reloaded. To do this, you first close the
outer door again; then you have to deal with the tubeful of water. A
good part of it is what the ship herself supplied to fill the space
round the torpedo; and this must be pumped back into the special tank
it came from. The remainder is the sea-water which rushed in, to take
the place left empty by the departing torpedo: and this must be pumped
into another special tank to prevent the ship feeling the loss of the
torpedo’s weight. When you get a fresh supply of torpedoes, these
special compensating tanks (which are really a kind of dummy torpedoes)
will be emptied out, one for each new torpedo. Meantime, you have now
got the tube empty, and can open the inner door and reload.

But what of the torpedo which has been fired? It is travelling towards
its mark at a speed of between thirty-five and forty knots, if we
suppose the range to be an ordinary one, under 1000 yards, and the
torpedo to have been ‘run hot,’ _i.e._ driven by hot air instead of
cold. The compressed air is heated mechanically inside the torpedo,
in the act of passing from the air chamber to the machinery, and this
increases both the speed and range. But it is not always convenient or
possible to start the heating apparatus, and even when ‘run cold’ the
fish will do thirty knots. This speed is amazing, but it is one of the
least wonderful of the torpedo’s qualities. The steering of the machine
is a double miracle. One device makes it take, after the first plunge,
exactly the depth you desire, and another--a gyroscope fitted inside
the rudder gear--keeps it straight on its course; or makes it, if you
wish, turn in a circle and strike its prey, boomerang fashion. The head
of the fish can also be fitted with cutters which will cut through any
torpedo-netting that a ship can afford to carry. The only thing that no
ingenuity can accomplish is to make a torpedo invisible during its run.
The compressed air, when it has passed through the engine, must escape,
and it comes to the surface in a continuous boiling line of bubbles.
This is visible at a considerable distance; and though, when the track
is sighted by the look-out, the torpedo itself is of course always
well ahead of the nearest spot where the bubbles are seen rising, it
is surprising how often ships do succeed in avoiding a direct shot. A
prompt cry from the look-out, a steersman ready to put his helm over
instantly, and the torpedo goes bubbling past, a few feet ahead or
astern, or comes in on a tangent and runs harmlessly along the ship’s
side without exploding. Then away it goes across the open sea, until
the compressed air is exhausted, the engine stops, and the mechanical
sinker sends it to the ocean bed, which must be fairly strewn with
dead torpedoes by this time; for as we know, to our advantage, the
proportion of misses to hits is very large in the U-boat’s record.

Now that you have seen the weapon--and can at any rate imagine the
handling of it--you are naturally keen to sight the game, and realise
the conditions of a good shot. You go back to the central compartment,
where the Commander is ready to show you a ship through the periscope.
Not, of course, an enemy ship--in this war, if you want a shot at an
enemy ship, you must go into his own waters--into the Bight or the
Baltic--to find him; and even there he is probably tucked up very tight
in his berth, with chained barges and heavy nets all round him, and
mines all up the approach. But there are plenty of our own ships out
every day--sweeping, cruising, trading; and transporting men, food,
mails, and munitions. And what you see will help you to understand why
the Germans have spent so many torpedoes, and sunk so comparatively
small a proportion of our enormous tonnage.

The boat is now less deep in the water; the gauges mark 15 feet, and
you are told that the top of the periscope is therefore some two feet
above the surface. The shaft of it is round, like a large vertical
piston; but at the bottom it ends in a flattened box, with a hand-grip
projecting on each side. You take hold of the grips and look into the
box. Nothing is visible but an expanse of water, with a coast-line
of low hills beyond it--all in miniature. The Commander presses the
back of your left hand on the grip, and you move round slowly as the
periscope revolves. The coast-line goes out of the picture, the sea
lies open to the horizon, and upon it appears a line of odd-looking
spots. They are moving; for the nearest one, which was narrow a moment
ago, is now three or four times as broad, and is in a different place
in the line.

The line, you are told, is not a line at all, but a convoy, in fairly
regular formation. The nearest spot is a destroyer, zigzagging on the
flank; the others are ships which have been so effectively ‘dazzled’
that their shapes are unrecognisable. You carry on, in hope of
something nearer, and suddenly a much larger object comes into the
field of vision. A ship, of course, though it does not look like any
ship you have ever seen; and you are asked to guess its distance and
direction. You are bewildered at first; for as you were moving the
lens rapidly to starboard, the vessel came in rapidly to port, and
as her dazzle-paint makes her stern indistinguishable from her bows,
you continue to think she is steaming in that direction. After a more
careful observation, this mistake is corrected. She is crossing us from
port to starboard. But at what angle? This is vitally important, for
the possibility of getting in a successful shot would depend entirely
upon the answer. We are ourselves heading about due north: she is
crossing to the east: if her course is south of east, she is coming
nearer to us, and our torpedo would strike her before the beam--the
most favourable chance. If, on the contrary, her course is north of
east she is going away, and the torpedo would have a poor chance of
hitting her abaft the beam. In fact, it would not be worth while to
risk losing so costly a shot. A torpedo at present prices is worth not
far short of £2000, and we only carry two for each tube.

You look long and hard at this dazzle-ship. She doesn’t give you
any sensation of being dazzled; but she is, in some queer way, all
wrong--her proportions are wrong, she is somehow not herself, not
what she ought to be. If you fix your attention on one end of her,
she seems to point one way--if you look away at her other end, she is
doing something different. You can’t see the height of her funnels
clearly, or their relative position. But, with care, you decide that
she is coming about south-east and will be therefore your bird in two
minutes’ time. The Commander is interested. He takes a look himself,
laughs, and puts you back at the eye-piece. You hold on in hope that he
may, after all, be wrong; but the bird ends by getting well away to the
north-east. Your error covered just ninety degrees, and the camouflage
had beaten you completely. You begin to think that the ingenuity
at command of the nation has been underestimated. But this ship is
nothing of a dazzle, the Commander tells you--he can show you one whose
cut-water seems always to be moving at a right angle to her stern!

[Illustration: ‘Does not look like any ship you have ever seen.’]

He adds that he knew all about that cruiser, and she knew all about
him. Otherwise he would not have shown even his periscope; and if he
had, she would have had a shell into him by now, and a depth-charge to
follow. A depth-charge is perhaps the most formidable weapon against
which the submarine has to be on guard. It is a bomb, with a detonator
which can be set to explode when it reaches any given depth. A small
one would need to hit the mark full, or be very close to it, in order
to get a satisfactory result; but the newer and larger ones will
seriously damage a submarine within an area of forty yards. The charge
is either dropped over the stern of the pursuing vessel, when she is
thought to be just over or just ahead of the enemy; or it is fired out
of a small and handy short-range howitzer--a kind of lob-shot, a number
of which can be made by several patrol boats acting together, so as to
cover a larger area with much less risk of embarrassing each other.
Even if the submarine is not destroyed outright, the chances are in
such a case that she will be so damaged as to be forced to the surface
or to the bottom, and then the end is certain. A bad leak would bring
her up--an injury to her tanks or rudders might drive her down.

You are uncomfortably reminded once more of that inherited dislike of
death by suffocation. If a submarine cannot rise to the surface, you
ask, is there no possible means of escape? The answer is that it may be
possible, with great difficulty, to get out of the boat; but there is
very little chance that you would survive. The lungs are not fitted to
bear so great and sudden a change of pressure as that felt in passing
from the boat to the water, and from the deep water to the surface.
You are perhaps surprised; but the pressure of sea-water at 160 feet
is equal to five atmospheres, or about 75 lbs. to the square inch. To
pass safely through this to the ordinary surface atmosphere would need
a long and gradual process, and not a sudden rise of a few seconds. A
very brave attempt was made on one occasion, when a British submarine
had gone to the bottom during her trials, and could not be got up by
any effort of her crew. The agony of the situation was intensified by
the fact that help was close at hand, if only the alarm could be given,
and the whereabouts of the submarine communicated to the rescuers. The
officers of the sunken boat were, of course, perfectly aware of the
danger from sudden change of pressure; but one of them volunteered to
go to the surface, alive or dead, and carry a message on the chance
of attracting some ship’s attention. To lessen the risk as far as
possible, it was arranged that he should go up into the conning-tower,
and that the hatch should then be closed beneath him and the water
gradually admitted. As it flowed slowly in, and mounted round him,
the air in the top of the conning-tower would diminish in extent but
increase in pressure. When it reached his neck, the internal pressure
would be nearly equal to the external. He would be able to open the
top, possibly to make his escape, and conceivably to reach the surface
without his lungs being fatally injured. If he failed, he would at any
rate have given his life for the chance of saving his comrades.

The Commander accompanied him into the conning-tower, meaning, it is
said, to return into the ship himself when he had seen to all the
arrangements. But when the water was admitted, the two of them were
shot out together, and as it happened it was the volunteer who was
killed, by striking against the superstructure, while the Commander
came up alive. In no long time--though it must have seemed unendurably
long to those below, waiting in complete uncertainty--the rescuers were
informed, found the submarine, and got a hawser under her stern. They
raised her high enough out of the water, vertically, to open a hatch
and save the crew. Then the hawser gave, and the boat went down again.

That story is not unlikely to haunt you all the way home, and for a
long time afterwards. It may even make a difference to your whole
feeling about the war under water, as waged by our own Service. The
submarine is not merely an incredibly clever box of mechanical toys,
nor is it only the fit weapon of a cruel and ruthless enemy; it is
also a true part of the Navy without fear and without reproach, whose
men play the great game for each other and for their country, and play
it more greatly than we know. The tune of their service is a kind of
undertone; but it is in the heroic key, and cannot fall below it.



CHAPTER IV

A BRITISH SUBMARINE BASE


Our submarine now returns to the surface. She is proceeding on patrol,
and her commander, as he bids us good-bye, recommends us to put into
the port from which he has just come, and see what a submarine base is
like. We take his advice, and return to our trawler. Her head is turned
westward and signals are made and answered. The skipper informs us that
we are about to pass through a mine-field where the mines are as thick
as herring-roe. It is some consolation to hear that ‘The Sweep’ has
already done its daily morning work, and that the channel is presumably
clear.

The East Coast of England, from Tynemouth to Thames mouth, is pierced
with some ten or a dozen estuaries, all more or less suitable for
flotilla bases. It is unnecessary to say how many of these are used by
our submarines, or which of them it is that we are about to enter. But
a short description can do no harm, because one of these bases is very
like another, and all are absolutely impervious to enemy craft. Even
if they could navigate the mine-field, so thickly strewn with both our
mines and their own, and so constantly and thoughtfully rearranged,
they would not find it possible to slip, as we are doing, past the
elaborate boom at the harbour mouth, or to escape being sunk by the
guns which dominate it, and the seaplanes which are constantly passing
over it.

And now that we are inside, it looks an even more dangerous place for
an intruder--a perfect hornets’ nest. Close to us on the left lies a
small pier, with buildings on a hill behind it--the Commodore’s house
and offices, seamen’s training-school, and gymnasium. At the pier-head
are two or three picket-boats; and a little further on, a light cruiser
with her observation balloon mounted. The vast sheds beyond are the
hangars of the Air Service. They are painted in a kind of Futurist
style, which gives them a queer look from below, but makes them, when
seen from a thousand feet up, either invisible or like a landscape of
high roads, cornfields, hay-stacks and groups of trees--objects quite
uninviting to any stray air-raider. But their best protection is the
efficiency of the machines and men inside them.

Over on the opposite side of the river stretches a long quay. The
background of it is a naval railway station; the ships lying in front
of it are partly supply ships, partly merchant vessels brought in under
convoy, and two of them are depot ships, moored permanently there, and
used as headquarters for the Submarine, Destroyer, and other services.
Out in the centre of the harbour lies a still larger depot ship, the
floating headquarters of the Admiral who is Commodore of the port; and
behind her, in two long lines, stretching away upstream into the far
distance, lies an apparently inexhaustible force of light cruisers,
destroyers, and destroyer-leaders, with here and there a submarine--one
is slung aloft in a dry-dock for overhauling. A side creek to the
left is crowded with trawlers and drifters, whose men are now ashore
‘between sweeps.’ At this hour of the day the place is at its fullest,
for the daily ‘Beef Trip,’ or food convoy, has just come in, and the
dozen destroyers which escorted it are all lying at their moorings, on
both sides of the main stream line. There they will be till to-night,
when at 7 o’clock to the second they will all slip away again into the
twilight like thin grey ghostly dogs, shepherding another flock of very
substantial sheep.

The trawler puts us aboard the depot ship; but the Admiral is not
there. A picket-boat takes us over to his pier, and we find him in
his chart-room, surrounded by maps marked with spots and figures in
different colours, quite unintelligible except to those who have the
key, and even to them no subject for conversation at large. But the
Admiral is a good talker, his mind is an encyclopædia of submarine
war and the working of a naval base, and he is amazingly quick in
separating the facts which interest you, and yet are fit for repetition
outside, from those which you must forget as soon as you have heard
them. He begins by explaining the daily routine of the port--the
mine-sweeping, which is done regularly twice a day, but at what times
the enemy can only guess, and the mine-laying, which is a game of brain
against brain, each side trying to see through the other’s devices
and catch him with their own. An elementary example would be the
obvious dodge of moving the enemy’s mine a short distance, instead of
removing it altogether--so that when next he comes that way, he shall
run into it unexpectedly, and perish by his own trap. But this, as I
have described it, is too simple a device to be successful, and the
ingenuity of our mine-layers has improved upon it by a dozen skilful
variations. Much can be done by studying carefully the habits of the
German mind. One officer, who is specially skilled in this matter, has
the credit of being able to make a U.C.-boat lay her eggs just where he
pleases, and of knowing exactly when it will be time to go and collect
them.

Our own mine-laying and coastal patrol would be more exciting if the
possible successes were not limited to an occasional submarine. It is a
little dull to be always laying traps for a flotilla that never comes.
The work of our coastal submarines is therefore monotonous; but it is
none the less invaluable. Besides making sure, it trains a continual
succession of crews for oversea work, and gives experience to young
commanders. The number of boats increases every year, and the flow of
volunteer entries keeps pace with it. The standard demanded is very
high, and it is fully maintained. The prize of efficiency is immediate
entry into the hardships and dangers of the oversea patrol.

There is no doubt that the hardships are more trying to our men than
the dangers. The oversea patrol is kept up through the winter. The
weather off the enemy’s coast is often very severe, and boats have to
be shut down for long periods. In summer, the work of diving patrols is
almost equally arduous, owing to the longer hours of daylight. Boats
must frequently be submerged for nineteen or twenty hours at a time;
and after the first twelve of these, the air, in spite of purifiers,
becomes oppressive to breathe--not even the head of a match will burn.
Then there are two special conditions tending towards depression.
First, the positive results are few, and form no measure of the work
or the risks. Results are obtained, but never in proportion to the
devotion and sanguine hopes of the Service. It is a baffling and trying
experience to live for days with your eye glued to a periscope--the
field of vision is contracted, and too close to the water. The
psychological effect of the strain would be bad in the case of any but
highly trained and selected officers--as one of them has said, the
sighting of a surface enemy is a relief seldom obtained. The Germans
are fortunate in the daily, almost hourly, sighting of targets. But
their officers, in consequence of continual heavy losses, are commonly
sent to sea undertrained, and their results are naturally poor in
proportion to the torpedoes expended.

The second of the two causes which would discourage any but the finest
spirit, is the fact that an almost complete silence broods over the
Submarine Service. Not only is the work done mostly in the deep-sea
twilight; but, however arduous and creditable it may be, it is seldom
recognised publicly. Rewards are given, but not openly. A commander may
reappear for a day or two among his friends, wearing the ribbon of the
D.S.O. or the V.C., or both, but little or nothing will be published of
the actions by which he won them. It is not only that information must
be kept from reaching the enemy--and naturally the German Admiralty is
always anxious to know how their boats are lost--but there is also a
settled custom in our Navy, a custom older than the Submarine Service,
by which ‘mention in despatches’ is confined to incidents during which
one or both sides have been under fire, from gun or torpedo. Custom in
the Navy is generally a sound rule; but in this particular instance,
the custom did not grow up to fit the case, and does not fit it. The
Admiral does not say anything on this point; but he tells us that
the real danger a submarine commander has to face is not the gun or
the torpedo. He may come off his patrol without having been shot at
by either, and yet may be entitled to the credit of having been in
action for days and nights on end. In fact, every minute that he is in
enemy waters he is in danger from mines, and from a host of formidable
pursuers--aeroplanes and Zeppelins with bombs, and fast anti-submarine
craft with depth-charges and explosive sweeps. No doubt all ships are
to some extent in danger from mines, but no other class of vessel is
asked to run the gauntlet on the enemy’s coast to anything like the
same extent. If surface ships are sent, they are sent for a single
operation, the ground is prepared for them as far as possible, the
period of exposure is short, and when the work is done the force is
withdrawn. But our submarines are, for days and weeks at a time, close
to known mine-fields and in areas most likely to hold new or drifted
mines. They are harassed by hunters to whom they can make no reply,
and particularly by aircraft, which can detect them even at sixty feet
below the surface. The areas in which they work are comparatively
narrow, and so closely patrolled by small craft that it is seldom
possible to come to the surface in daylight; navigation, too, is very
difficult, and the rapidly changing densities of the water off the
enemy’s coast make the trimming of the boat and the depth control a
matter of constant anxiety.

Yet not only are officers and men found in plenty to enter this
service of twilight and silence, but the keenness they show for it is
unfailing. The work itself is their one ambition, and their records
are astounding. Ask the Captain (S.) of this port. In two years he
has organised 370 cruises, lasting in all 1680 days, and extending
over a surface mileage of more than 200,000 miles. There was only
a single breakdown, and that ended in a triumph; for the Commander
got himself towed back by an enemy trawler, neatly captured for the
purpose. Another--Commander Talbot--made twenty-one cruises; Lieutenant
C. Turner, nineteen; Commanders Goodhart and Leir, seventeen each;
Commander Benning and Lieut. C. Moncreiffe, sixteen. More wonderful
still is the fact that the first two of these officers spent fifty-six
and sixty-five days respectively in enemy waters, and the other four
from thirty-six to forty-nine days each. The most interesting part
of their adventures cannot yet be told; but much may be guessed from
an outline or two. Commander Leir, for instance, was repeatedly in
action with Zeppelins, seaplanes, and anti-submarine craft, one of
which he sank. He was present at the action in the Heligoland Bight
in August 1914, and brought home some German prisoners. Commander
Benning was also repeatedly in action. Once, after torpedoing an armed
auxiliary cruiser, he was forced by enemy sweepers to dive into a
German mine-field. There he had to stay, with batteries exhausted, till
night gave him a chance of recharging. Another time he went down into a
mine-field of his own will, to lie in wait for an armed auxiliary. He
was there for three hours, but ambushed her successfully in the end,
close to the German coast. Lieut.-Commander Turner covered 20,000 miles
to his own score, and passed much of his time actually in the swept
channels, with enemy patrols in sight the whole day. Sometimes he came
up and fought them, sometimes they hunted him with depth-charges.
For those who sleep in beds and travel in buses, it is an almost
unimaginable life. ‘Yes,’ says the Admiral, ‘in this Service, officers
need a two-o’clock-in-the-morning courage every hour they are at sea:
and they have it.’

[Illustration: ‘Towed back by an enemy trawler.’]

The charts are put away. We move out, first to the gymnasium, where
physical drill is going on, then towards the great air-sheds. As we
approach the first of these, an officer meets us and hands a block to
the Admiral with the morning report upon it.

The Admiral’s face lights up as he reads. ‘A lucky chance--something
to interest you.’ The Beef Trip, it appears, which has just returned,
was escorted as usual by two seaplanes, flying ahead of the convoy. The
starboard one of these had sighted a submarine at 8.30 A.M. and swooped
towards her instantly. She was nearly submerged when the seaplane
passed over her, but the two big depth-charges which were dropped in a
flash, fell right into her wash and close to the conning-tower, which
disappeared in the explosion.

An excellent bit of work! But the face of the officer standing by shows
a distinct cloud. ‘What is it?’ Well, the fact is that the pilot of the
other seaplane, a mile and a half away to port, had an impression that
the submarine was British.

The pilot of the bomb-dropper is sent for and comes out at once--a
fair-haired and very young lieutenant, with an air of perfectly
undisturbed serenity. He is sure nothing is wrong--it is ‘only a
muddle.’ His companion pilot had certainly sighted and spoken a British
submarine some quarter of an hour earlier; but this was not the one.
Also another boat, E. 134, was out on patrol in that precise direction,
but she was not due in that spot till 11 o’clock, B.S.T., and it was
highly improbable she would be there so much before her time. Besides,
he knew the colour of a Hun conning-tower. Undoubtedly it was ‘only a
muddle.’ The explanation sounds a good one, but it is a speculation,
not a certainty; and on further inquiry, it appears that nothing has
since been heard of E. 134. The Admiral sends off the young pilot with
a word of good cheer; but when he has gone, he hands back the report
with a serious look. The incident has become too interesting. It is no
longer something to tell a visitor. We go into the sheds and spend the
remainder of our time in viewing the huge Americas and Handley-Pages.

The rest of the story comes after lunch, when we go to visit the
Captain (S.) in his depot ship. He has heard all about our pilot, and
our submarine too. E. 134 lay all night in her billet, resting on the
bottom at 140 feet and listening with all her hydrophones. In the
morning her watch was rewarded; she heard, first, the monotonous low
ticking of a German submarine’s motors passing near her on the outward
patrol--then at 8.30 the heavy dull boom of two explosions close
together--then not a sound more! Finally, at her appointed time, noting
that the U-boat had never stirred again, she rose to the surface and
came home in rear of the sweep. The muddle is cleared up, and in the
best manner.

[Illustration: ‘She was nearly submerged when the seaplane passed over
her.’]

We discuss the dead submarine and ask whether she would be, or would
have been, more formidable when used against a convoy than against
a single ship. The Captain (S.) who has already been torpedoed once
himself, thinks there can be no doubt on this subject. ‘A single ship
is much more easily approached than a convoy--she has only one set
of eyes on the look-out, from one position, and the enemy can stalk her
without fear of being trodden on from other quarters. Convoys ought
to escape nearly every time, and they do. Look at the record of this
port--not one loss in two years.’ This opinion is based on experience,
but the matter looks different from the point of view of the convoy
escort, whose responsibility weighs upon him every day afresh. This we
discover when we pass on to visit a destroyer-leader, at a later hour
in the evening. She is being got ready for the night’s work and it
is now just six, but her captain assures us that what remains of his
time is entirely ours. He takes us down to his own room, an elegant
and almost spacious apartment, very unlike anything to be seen in a
destroyer of the ordinary type; and he, too, answers our question
positively. ‘Which is easiest--to hit a single ship or a convoy? The
question answers itself--a submarine ought to get at least one bird
out of a covey every time! She does not do it, perhaps; but look at
the trouble we take to prevent her. Think of all the work put in by
the auxiliary patrol to keep the sea fairly clear to start with--armed
yachts, trawlers, whalers, drifters, motor-launches, mine-sweepers,
net-drifters and motor-boats, out day and night all round the whole
coast of the U.K. That is their routine work; and besides that they
supply escorts to individual ships of special value and to ocean
convoys, when they have arrived at their port of initial entry, and
are to be taken on elsewhere. Then there are the various kinds of
protective devices for the ships themselves--the dazzle-painting, the
smoke-boxes on broads, and the smoke-boxes for floating behind you.
And since we _are_ talking of these things, there is the work of the
destroyers and trawlers on regular convoy.’ This is, of course, the
captain’s own job, and we naturally hint a desire that he should pursue
the subject.

‘There is no difficulty about it--the Germans already know all that
they can ever know of our convoy system--how it is organised in the
form of group-sailings on definite routes, and worked, as far as
possible, at night, with extra protection given by daylight and during
moonlight hours--above all, how successful it is, and how, little by
little, they have given up the chase of mercantile convoys for the
attack of transports and single ships of great size and value. In one
month, for instance, of the present year, 690 vessels were convoyed
from England to France, of which only three were attacked, and only two
sunk, including one small sailing ship. More astonishing still, out
of 693 convoyed from France to England in the same month not one was
touched, or even attacked. Then there are the Dutch and Scandinavian
lines.’

We should like to know exactly how it is done, and especially what part
the destroyers play in the game. Briefly, but very sharply, the picture
is drawn for us. You see a fine August day, off the coast of Scotland,
with white summer clouds over a rippling sea; a compact convoy of eight
ships sailing in two columns, with a ninth lagging on the left, three
times her proper distance to the rear. Their speed is slow; they are
flanked on both sides, fore and aft, by armed trawlers, with one just
ahead of the two columns, and they are covered by two fast destroyers.
The first of these is ahead of the convoy, zigzagging continuously
from side to side across the whole front. The second is zigzagging in
another direction. Suddenly, from this second destroyer, a signal is
seen to fly. Her look-out has spotted the wake of a periscope 1000
yards away on her starboard bow, moving to cut off the convoy, from the
right column of which it is already not more than 1500 yards distant. A
torpedo fired at this moment should cross the convoy formation exactly
in the middle, and would have an excellent chance of sinking either of
the centre ships in either column--it could hardly miss all four. But
the destroyer has in a moment altered course 8 points to starboard,
and is prolonging this zigzag directly towards the enemy at thirty-odd
knots, with her forward guns blazing. The U-boat captain, no doubt,
longs to take his shot into the brown; but he has less than one minute
in which to perform the more urgent duty of saving his own ship. Down
he goes, with a depth-charge after him, and is not seen or heard of
again in this story. The convoy calls up its lame duck and goes safely
to its destination.

‘Yes,’ says the Captain, ‘we get them through, and it all looks very
simple; but it’s mostly a matter of ten seconds, and you can’t grow fat
on a daily margin of ten seconds.’

‘But the Admiral has something to say on your report?’

‘The Admiral writes outside, “Good look-out and prompt action of
_Swallow_ probably averted a casualty to the convoy.” He has to write
that most days--he must be tired of writing it.’

It is now two minutes to seven. As we drop into our picket-boat, the
destroyer slips silently from her moorings and fades away down stream
with eleven other thin grey phantoms.



CHAPTER V

SUBMARINES AND WAR POLICY


‘Strategy,’ says the ‘Encyclopædia Britannica,’ ‘has been curtly
described as the art of concentrating an effective fighting force at a
given place at a given time, and tactics as the art of using it when
there.’ In less scientific language, you fight a battle by means of
tactics, and a campaign by means of strategy. But when nations live, as
we have all been living for many years past, in constant preparation
for war, there must be forethought as to the means and methods to be
employed. Each nation has broad general plans, ready for the moment
when fighting is decided upon, and ships, guns, and armies are provided
accordingly. This is what is meant by war policy; and examples will
come to mind at once. We live in a group of islands, with Dominions
and other possessions overseas, and we have no desire to attack our
continental neighbours. British war policy has therefore always been
chiefly directed to the provision of an invincible navy for defending
our shores and our commerce. The German Empire, on the other hand,
is practically self-contained; it lies on the Continent, with land
powers for neighbours whom it has long hoped and intended to dominate.
German war policy, therefore, concerned itself until quite recently
with plans for aggression by land, and only provided a powerful fleet
when it became desirable to have a weapon in hand against England--not
necessarily to fight us on equal terms, but, as they said themselves,
to make us hesitate to take sides against them.

In this way it came about that both countries had a great naval war
policy, and watched each other carefully, building dreadnoughts
against dreadnoughts, and cruisers against cruisers. We made great and
successful efforts to keep the lead; for sea power is a matter of life
and death to us; and the Germans were spending every mark they could
spare, to get more and more nearly upon even terms. It is certain that
the war policy of both Powers took account of the possible uses of
submarine boats; but the lines of thought which they followed were in
some ways widely different, and they led, when war came, to unexpected
developments. Let us consider for a few moments what the British
admirals on the one hand, and the German on the other, intended to do
with their submarine forces, and what they actually did when the time
for action came.

British war policy was essentially non-aggressive. The Navy had but one
possible antagonist of the first rank at sea, and that one we should
never have fought with, except in a war of defence. Our submarines,
therefore, had two obvious duties marked out for them. They would
help in coast defence by making it dangerous for ships of war or
transports to approach, and they might be used, if an opportunity
arose, to attack a fleet in harbour, or a cruiser at sea. There was
every probability that any fleet of a Power at war with us would
sooner or later have to spend a good deal of time in port, and it
would certainly be well to have the means to attack it there. But,
important as this function was, the idea of defence against invasion
probably came first, and there is no doubt that an efficient submarine
force is a very formidable addition to our flotilla for coast defence.
Perhaps we thought, in those years of perpetual preparation, too much
about the ‘Invasion of England’ and too little about the duty of
supporting our Allies on land; and we had this much justification,
that the Power from which we had every reason to expect an attack,
was one directed by men of great energy and determination, certain to
be relentless in pressing a war home upon us, even at the risk of a
heavy loss. On the other hand, those who spoke and wrote most about
invasion, nearly always failed to realise the immense difficulty of
the undertaking; and they failed especially to see that, in modern
times, the conditions had changed very considerably in favour of the
defence. The initial problem of an invader by sea must always be the
provision of transport sufficient for a large body of troops, with
arms, equipment, and supplies of food and munitions. Even if we allow
only two tons of shipping per man--the Japanese allowed six tons--the
transport of 100,000 men would take twenty vessels of 10,000 tons each,
and to collect these and load them would be a big operation; difficult
to conceal. In fact to conceal it, for a sufficiently long time, from
a defence force well supplied with wireless telegraphy, fast scouts,
and aerial observation, would now be a practical impossibility. But
even if we suppose such an expedition to be able (under cover of fog,
or by a complete surprise) to cross the North Sea unobserved, there
remains the further difficulty of the landing. A place must be found
where the invaders could obtain immediate control of supplies and
communications; there are but half a dozen such places at most upon our
eastern coast-line, and these are all prepared for a strenuous defence
by land. If we add to the land defence a mine-field and the presence of
an unknown number of submarines, the attempt becomes one involving the
certainty of immense losses, and the extreme probability of failure.
Even the German war-lords have not yet made up their minds to the risk
of seeing eight or ten divisions drowned in an hour.

Besides coast defence and harbour attack, there might possibly be
a chance for our submarines in a fleet action. Of that, all that
can be said now is that our Submarine Service is believed to have
shown greater promptness and ingenuity in its preparations than the
German Admiralty, and awaits the next naval engagement with eager
anticipation. But already it has been found practicable to use our
submarines for two very important kinds of work, to an extent which was
certainly quite unforeseen. One of these is the chase and destruction
of enemy submarines--a kind of service which has been pronounced
impossible, even in books written during the later stages of the War,
but actual examples of which will be given in one of the chapters which
describe our hunting methods. The other kind of work is the blockade
of the enemy’s shipping trade and supply service, to be described when
we come to the account of our submarine campaigns in the Baltic and
Dardanelles.

If we turn now to German naval policy, we shall come at once upon an
interesting point, which has not been generally understood. We have
been told that the German Admiralty, before the War, was completely
deceived as to the value of the submarine. And Mr. Marley Hay has
been often quoted as saying that, in several conversations in 1911,
Admiral von Tirpitz ‘expressed emphatically his opinion that he
considered submarines to be in an experimental stage, of doubtful
utility, and that the German Government was not at all convinced that
they would form an essential or a conspicuous part of their future
naval programme.’ Mr. Hay shows clearly that this was not said with
the object of misleading; for he was urging Tirpitz to build, and the
Admiral continued to refuse. When war broke out, the German Navy had
only twenty-seven submarines built against seventy-six British and
seventy French boats, and she was only building twelve more, against
the twenty and twenty-three on our side. This may have been partly
due to a miscalculation of their efficiency; but the main reason was
probably that the directors of German war policy were (at that time)
preparing for a war in which our Navy was to take no part. The account
with England was to be settled at a later date. The immediate intention
was to deal with France and Russia, and the assistance of the Austrian
and Italian submarines in the Mediterranean was of course reckoned upon.

When war came these calculations were falsified. The German High Seas
Fleet found itself unable to stand up to ours, and German war policy
was forced to take a different direction. The U-boats’ first allotted
task was the legitimate one of reducing our margin of superiority in
battle-ships and cruisers. While our Fleet was certain to keep the sea,
and protect our long coast-line and huge merchant tonnage, the German
High Seas Fleet must lie in the Kiel Canal, risking only furtive and
futile rushes into the open. But if the U-boats could hit a sufficient
number of our more active war-ships, they might bring the forces nearer
to an equality, and perhaps establish a prestige for their own Service.
How they failed in this attempt we shall see presently.

When their failure in the game of attrition became evident, the U-boats
were utilised in a different way. A submarine blockade of the British
Isles was plainly threatened by Admiral von Tirpitz towards the end
of 1914; and the official announcement of it was made on February 4,
1915. By this document it was declared that on and after February
18, every British or French merchant vessel found in the waters of
the ‘war region’ round these islands ‘will be destroyed, without its
always being possible to warn the crews or passengers of the dangers
threatening.’ Neutral ships, it was added, would not be attacked unless
by mistake; but they are warned not to take the risk.

Those who know even a little of the history of our old wars will see
at a glance that this is a new move in naval war policy, and one made
by the Germans to get over certain difficulties which arise from the
very nature of submarine boats, and which are especially embarrassing
when the submarines belong to a navy decidedly inferior to its
enemies at sea. The old and well-established rules of naval war laid
down that you could only interfere with merchant shipping if it were
engaged in carrying contraband of war. To ascertain whether the ship
you had sighted was carrying contraband or not, you had to board and
search her. If innocent, you must let her proceed on her voyage. If
apparently guilty, you took over her men or otherwise placed them in
safety, put a prize crew on board and sent her home to a port of your
own, to be tried legally by a properly constituted tribunal called a
Prize Court. If this Court decided that she was, in fact, carrying
contraband, she was your prize. If you were forced by stress of
circumstances to destroy the prize, instead of sending her into port,
you took every care to remove everyone on board before doing so; and
when you had not room for so many people, you released the prize rather
than endanger or sacrifice the lives of non-combatants.

All these humane rules could well be observed by any ordinary cruiser;
and they were, in fact, kept by the _Emden_ and other German cruisers
when harrying British commerce in the East. But it is obvious at the
first glance that a submarine would be continually in difficulties
over them. It would always be risky for so fragile and unhandy a
vessel to board and search a big ship, which might prove to be armed
with guns or bombs. No submarine could find room for merchant crews or
passengers in her own small compartments, and no submarine could afford
to spare a prize crew for even one prize, or the time and horse-power
to tow her into port. In short, it was plain, from the first, that the
legitimate cruiser game could not be played at all by submarine boats.
The Government of the United States put the truth unanswerably in these
words: ‘The employment of submarines for the destruction of enemy
trade is of necessity completely irreconcilable with the principles of
humanity, with the long existing undisputed rights of neutrals, and
with the sacred privileges of non-combatants.’

[Illustration: ‘Turning passengers and crews adrift in open boats.’

    [_See page_ 77.
]

The British Navy had an advantage here--the inestimable advantage
of a force that could keep the sea against all its enemies. It was,
therefore, possible for our submarines to stop an occasional ship with
impunity, or to call up a destroyer and send a prize into port; and in
the narrow waters of the Baltic and the Sea of Marmora, supply ships
and merchantmen were captured and destroyed by them with every regard
for the laws of humanity. But the German submarines had no fleet at sea
to back their attempted blockade, and German war policy therefore took
the downward course, hacking a way through the rules, and sacrificing,
for the hope of victory, the very foundations of civilised human life.
The U-boats began by turning passengers and crews adrift in open boats,
no matter in what weather or how far from land. They went on to sink
even great liners without search, and without warning; and they came
finally down to the destruction of helpless men and women in boats,
in order that the ships they had torpedoed might disappear without a
trace--_spürlos versenkt_.



CHAPTER VI

SUBMARINE _v._ WAR-SHIP


The use of the submarine for attacking war-ships is, of course,
perfectly legitimate, and the powers and possibilities of this weapon
were much discussed before the War. Some writers of note believed that
the day of the big battleship was practically over--that such vessels
could be ‘pulled down’ with certainty by any enterprising submarine
commander, without any corresponding risk to his own boat. Others, with
cooler or more scientific heads, maintained that there is an answer to
every weapon, and that the introduction of submarines would not change
the principles of war. The result has shown that the latter school of
opinion was right. The submarine has achieved some striking successes
here and there against the larger ships of war, but has not rendered
them obsolete or kept them from going about their true business, the
control of the sea; and as time goes on, it is rather the submarine
than the battle-ship which is found too vulnerable to challenge a
fight, when neither has the advantage of surprise.

This legitimate use of the submarine formed part, as we have seen, of
both British and German war policy--though, in our own case, it was
originally considered rather as a means of defence against invasion;
than of offence on the high seas. It was, therefore, not unnatural that
the U-boat should score first. Besides, we were offering a hundred
targets to one. Our cruisers were all over the North Sea, while no
German ships could be met there except an occasional mine-layer
like the _Königin Luise_. This state of things has only become more
invariable as the War has developed; and the most remarkable result, so
far, of the contest between the two submarine services is the practical
equality of the score on the two sides. With infinitely fewer and more
difficult chances, the British submarine has actually surpassed the
U-boat’s record, in successes obtained against enemy ships of war, and
immensely surpassed it in the proportion of successes to opportunities.

The first war-ship to fall to the torpedo of a submarine was the
_Pathfinder_, a light cruiser of about 5,000 tons, with a complement of
268 officers and men, of whom some half were saved. The boat which sank
her was the U. 21, commanded by Lieutenant Hersing, who raised high
hopes in Germany which he was not destined to fulfil.

A greater captain is said to have been Captain Otto Weddigen, who
achieved the sensational feat of pulling down three of our cruisers in
one hour, and was supposed by some of his fellow-countrymen to have
solved the problem of reducing the British Fleet to an equality with
the German. But he owed more to luck and our inexperience than to any
peculiar skill of his own. In the early morning of September 22, 1914,
he stalked the armoured cruisers _Aboukir_, _Hogue_, and _Cressy_, old
ships of 12,000 tons and 18 knots’ speed, which were out on patrol
duty in the North Sea, and were about to take up their stations for
the day’s work. The danger of the submarine was hardly yet fully
recognised; and when the _Aboukir_ was struck by a violent explosion,
the general belief in the squadron was that she had run foul of a mine.
She listed heavily and sank slowly, her funnels almost level with the
water, and the smoke coming out as from the water’s edge. The other two
ships closed her at once, and had got within two cables of her when the
_Hogue_ was struck in turn by two torpedoes almost simultaneously. The
effect was extraordinary. ‘She seemed,’ says an eye-witness, ‘to give
one jump out of the water and then to go straight down.’ So quickly
did she go, that she was out of sight long before _Aboukir_, who took
twenty minutes to sink, so that her men (as one of them said) ‘got time
to do the best.’

The moment the _Hogue_ was struck, it was realised that submarines were
at work, and _Cressy_ opened fire from one of her 9·2-in. guns. She
was hit herself by two torpedoes immediately afterwards, and listed
heavily, so that everything began to roll down the deck. But she sank
slowly and her gunners kept up their fire most gallantly, giving
up their chance of being saved for the hope of killing their enemy
before they went down. They fired a dozen shots in all, and are said
by Lieutenant Harrison to have sunk one of the attacking U-boats. ‘I
reckon her gunners,’ said a survivor from the _Aboukir_, ‘were about
the bravest men that ever lived. They kept up the firing until she
had 40 degrees of list. They died gamely, did those fellows.’ Their
shipmates were worthy of them. ‘There was absolutely no panic on the
cruiser; the men were as calm as at drill.’ At last some trawlers came
up; and, after two hours, some destroyers. Only 777 of the three
ships’ crews were saved, out of a total of about 2,100; and 60 officers
were lost out of 120. ‘Some of our men must have been in the water
for three or four hours. The _Aboukir_ men were taken to the _Hogue_;
when the _Hogue_ was sunk, they were taken to the _Cressy_; when the
_Cressy_ was taken, they were thrown in the sea again. Yet here they
are, and there is only one thing they want--to go to sea again and have
another whack at the men who torpedoed them.’

Possibly they had their wish; for some of them may have been on board
the British ship which, a few months later, destroyed U. 29 (Weddigen’s
boat) by a brilliant and almost reckless feat of seamanship, which, in
later days, will form a favourite yarn of the Service.

The only other war-ship lost by submarine action in 1914 was the
_Hawke_, an armoured cruiser twenty-five years old, which was torpedoed
while on patrol in the North Sea, and sank in ten minutes, only seventy
of those on board being saved. The year 1915 began badly for us, and
ended by being decidedly our worst year on one side the account, though
it was our best on the other. At 2 o’clock in the morning of January
1, a squadron of battle-ships, of the older types of 1901 and 1902,
was steaming down Channel in line ahead. There was a gale blowing,
and the sea was running high. The last two ships of the line were
the _London_ and the _Formidable_, the latter of which was suddenly
shaken by a violent explosion, and not long afterwards by a second
one. Even then, the ship did not sink till forty-five minutes after;
and if it had not been for the rough weather and icy water, boats and
rafts might have been got away with most of the crew. As it was, no
steam-pinnaces could be got out, and the oars of the 42-foot cutter
and other boats were nearly all smashed against the ship’s sides. The
whole company, from the officers, giving quiet orders on the bridge,
to the men smoking on the slant deck, behaved as if at manœuvres, and
Captain Loxley, who went down with his ship, distinguished himself
by signalling to the _London_ not to stand by him, as there was a
submarine about. One boat came ashore at Lyme Regis, with forty-six
live men and nine dead in her; seventy more men were brought in after
three hours’ hard and dangerous work by the 50-ton smack, _Provident_,
of Brixham--William Pillar, skipper. His crew consisted of three men
and a cook-boy. Out of a total complement of more than 700, only 201
were saved in all. Among the lost were thirty-four officers, including
eight midshipmen and a sub-lieutenant.

On March 11, the _Bayano_, an armed merchant-cruiser, was torpedoed off
the Firth of Clyde, and went down with 170 of her 200 men. On April 11,
the _Wayfarer_ transport was torpedoed, and ran ashore off Queenstown.
On May 1, the _Recruit_, a small torpedo-boat of 385 tons, was sunk in
the North Sea, with thirty-nine out of her sixty-four officers and men.

[Illustration: ‘Were brought in by the 50-ton smack, _Provident_, of
Brixham.’]

Then came two grave losses on two consecutive days. The British Fleet
off Gallipoli had already lost the _Irresistible_ and _Ocean_ by
floating mines; and now the U-boats succeeded in inflicting another
double loss on us, at a moment when the Army needed the strongest
support to ensure success. On May 26, a single torpedo sank the
_Triumph_, while she was co-operating with the Australian and New
Zealand troops before Ari Burnu. She was accompanied by an escort of
two destroyers, and was about to open fire when the submarine got a
shot into her. She listed till her deck touched the water, and in five
minutes capsized completely, but remained floating for twenty minutes,
keel upwards. Some 460 of the officers and men were saved.

The _Triumph_ was not designed for our Navy, but taken over from the
builder’s yard, and the curious arch formed by her derricks made her
outline a conspicuously foreign feature in our Fleet. The _Majestic_,
on the other hand, which quickly followed her to destruction, was a
typically British vessel, and gave her name to the whole class, built
in 1895 and the following years, and then greatly admired. She also, on
May 27, was supporting the army in action on the Gallipoli peninsula,
when a German torpedo ended her twenty years’ career. She carried about
760 officers and men, but nearly all of them were saved. In June, two
torpedo-boats, the _Greenfly_ and _Mayfly_, of 215 tons, were sunk;
the _Roxburgh_, a 10,000-ton cruiser, was slightly damaged; and the
_Lightning_ torpedo-boat, of 275 tons, was disabled, but brought
into harbour. On August 8, a U-boat sank one of our large auxiliary
cruisers, the _India_, off the coast of Norway and in Norwegian
territorial waters. By this breach of the rules, she succeeded in
killing 10 officers and 150 men, out of a complement of over 300.

The losses so far enumerated were all strictly naval losses. Up to this
time, although we had been transporting troops by the hundred thousand
from Canada and Australia to England, and from England to France,
India, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Gallipoli, our numbers had hardly
suffered the smallest diminution by submarine action. Again, during the
last three years (1916-18) we have had minor losses now and then; but
the one and only real disaster of this kind came upon us in 1915. On
August 14, the British transport, the _Royal Edward_, was in the Ægean,
carrying reinforcements for the 29th Division in Gallipoli, and details
of the Royal Army Medical Corps, when she was torpedoed by a German
submarine and sank rapidly. She had on board 32 military officers and
1,350 troops, in addition to her own crew of 220 officers and men.
Of all these, only 600 were saved; and for the first time in modern
war we suffered the cruel loss of soldiers to the strength of a whole
battalion killed--not in battle, but helpless and unresisting, without
the chance of firing a shot or delivering a last charge with the
bayonet. The ship herself was a less harrowing loss; but she was a fine
vessel that we could ill spare--a steel triple-screw steamer of 11,117
tons and 545 feet in length. She, like her sister ship, the _Royal
George_, was originally built for the Egyptian Mail Steamship Company,
and ran between Marseilles and Alexandria. Her later service was
carrying the mails for the Canadian Northern Steamship Company between
Avonmouth and Montreal--and now she had returned to Eastern waters,
only to give an isolated and inconclusive triumph to a desperate enemy.

The remainder of the year saw many attempts by the U-boat commanders
to repeat this success; but they mostly ended in failure. On September
2, the transport _Southland_ was hit by a torpedo, but got into Madras
under her own steam, with a loss of 30 men killed in the explosion.
On September 19, the _Ramazan_, with 385 Indian troops on board, was
shelled and sunk by a submarine, off Antikythera. In October, the
transport _Marquette_ was sunk in the Ægean. On November 3, the
transport _Mercian_ was heavily shelled, and had nearly 100 killed and
wounded. On November 5 the _Tara_, armed boarding-steamer, was sunk
in the Bay of Sollum, on the eastern border of Egypt; and immediately
afterwards two small Customs cruisers--the _Prince Abbas_ of 300 tons
and the _Abdul Moneim_ of 450--were sunk at the same place, and no
doubt by the same pair of U-boats.

The year 1916 showed clearly that, as a weapon against armed ships, the
U-boat was not likely to succeed, after the first period of surprise
was past. During this year we lost three mine-sweepers--_Primula_,
_Clacton_, and _Genista_; two empty transports--the _Russian_ and
_Franconia_; the _Zaida_ and _Duke of Albany_, armed steamers of the
auxiliary patrol; and one destroyer, the _Lassoo_, which was sunk with
a loss of six men, either by mine or torpedo, off the coast of Holland.
To this insignificant list must be added one disaster of a more serious
kind. As we have already noted, our control of the North Sea was a
continuous and effective control, and every effort was made, especially
after the flight of the Germans from Jutland, to bring out the enemy
fleet from its hiding-place. These efforts, of course, involved
the exposure of our advanced forces to certain risks. On August
19, there was a report that the High Canal Fleet was at sea again.
Hope outstripped belief, and light cruisers were sent out in every
direction to find the enemy. Two of these, the _Nottingham_ and the
_Falmouth_--good ships of 5,400 and 5,250 tons--were torpedoed and sunk
while scouting. Here again it was the loss of the men which we felt
most. The ships were new and useful ones; but they could be replaced,
and they belonged to a class in which the enemy’s force, since the
battle of Jutland, had been deficient, almost to a disabling degree.
There was no ground for the German hope that our naval superiority
could be permanently whittled away by rare and fractional losses like
these. Our Battle Fleet continued to hold up theirs, and our blockade
of their coasts was in no degree weakened.

The record of 1917, and the first half of 1918, is even more
significant. The German submarine effort was more and more completely
diverted from legitimate to illegitimate war--from the attack on
the enemy’s armed forces, to the destruction of non-combatants and
neutrals in mercantile shipping of any kind. British destroyers, going
everywhere, facing every kind of risk, and protecting everyone before
themselves, now and again furnished an item to the German submarine
bag; but the ‘regardless’ campaign against the world’s trade and the
world’s tonnage was now the U-boats’ chief occupation. One legitimate
objective they did still set before themselves--the destruction or
hindrance of transport for the United States army between the shores
of America and Europe. Again and again during 1917, and even in the
earlier days of 1918, assurances were given to the German people by
Admiral von Tirpitz, by Admiral von Capelle, by the Prussian Minister
of Finance in the Diet, and by the chief military writers in the Press,
that the promise of an American army was a boast and a deception, that
the American troops could not and would not cross the Atlantic, because
of the triumphant activity of the U-boats. Of the complete failure to
make good these assurances no better account need be given than that
supplied by the German Admiralty, in answer to the complaints of their
own people. Towards the end of July 1918, when there was no longer
any possibility of concealing the presence of a large and victorious
American force in France, Admiral von Holtzendorff, the Admiralty Chief
of Staff, gave the following explanation to the _Kölnische Zeitung_.
He admitted the success of the Allies in improving oversea transport,
especially the transport of troops from America. But in reply to the
statement that there was in Germany much disappointment that the
submarines had sunk so few of the American transports, he asked, with
truly Prussian effrontery, how _could_ submarines be specially employed
against American transports. ‘The Americans,’ he said, ‘have at their
disposition, for disembarkation, the coasts from the North of Scotland
to the French Mediterranean ports, with dozens of landing-places.
Ought we to let our submarines lie in wait before these ports, to see
whether they can possibly get a shot at a strongly protected American
transport, escorted by fast convoying vessels? The convoys do not
arrive with the regularity and frequency of railway trains at a great
station, but irregularly, at great intervals of time, and often at
night or in a fog. Taking all this into consideration, it is evident
how little prospect of success is offered for the special employment of
submarines against American transports.’

This is all sound enough, and in fact the U-boats have only succeeded
in killing 126 men out of the first million landed from America. But
the argument of Admiral von Holtzendorff does not explain the official
assurances by which the German public was deceived for more than a
year, and it only partially explains the ill success of the U-boats.
That could only be fully done by considering the offensive (or
offensive-defensive) action of war-ship against submarine--which will
be touched upon presently.

The record of the ‘bag’ made during the War by our own submarines has
never yet been published in a complete form. Yet it is a most striking
one, and ought effectually to remove any impression that the German
Submarine Service is in any way superior--or even equal--to ours. In
three years of war our boats sank over 300 enemy vessels. We lost, of
course, many more; but when it is remembered that we were offering to
our enemies every week more than four times as many targets as they
offered us during the whole three years, it will be admitted that
the comparison is not one to give them much ground for satisfaction.
At present, however, this general comparison is not the one which we
wish to make--we are concerned now with attacks on war-ships, or armed
forces, and not on mercantile shipping. The greater part of our record
is made up of such attacks, and it is now possible to give a short
summary of them.

There have been, during this War, practically only three
hunting-grounds where British submarines could hope to meet with enemy
war-ships, transports, or supply ships. These are the North Sea, the
Baltic, and the Dardanelles or Sea of Marmora. Of the work done by
our submarines in the Baltic and Dardanelles we shall have separate
accounts to give in later chapters. For the present, it is enough
to tabulate the results. In the Baltic the bag included, besides a
large number of steamers (some carrying iron ore for military use),
the following war-ships: three destroyers, three transports, one old
battleship or cruiser, one light cruiser, and one armed auxiliary. In
the Dardanelles or Sea of Marmora were sunk or destroyed the following,
besides a very large number of ships with stores or provisions for
the troops in Gallipoli: two battle-ships, four gun-boats, one armed
German auxiliary, seven transports, three ammunition ships and one
ammunition train, destroyed by gunfire. We may add, as a note to these
two parts of our record, that the work was done, not by a large number
of submarines issuing in relays from a home base close at hand, and
equipped with every kind of facility for repairing defects or relieving
tired crews, but by an almost incredibly small number of boats, working
far from their base, in closed waters, and under difficulties such as
no German boat has ever successfully attempted to face.

There remains the North Sea patrol. The first success in this record
stands against a famous name--that of Commander Max Horton, who (in
his boat E. 9) afterwards established what has been called ‘The
Command of the Baltic.’ In September 13, 1914, he was in the North
Sea, near to enemy forces. He was submerged, and not in the happiest
of circumstances, for one of his officers was ill, and to afford him
some relief from the exhausted atmosphere below, it became imperatively
necessary to rise to the surface. No sooner was the periscope above
water, than the commander sighted a German light cruiser, the _Héla_,
in a position where she might be expected to see the periscope and
attack at any moment. Fortunately a torpedo-tube was loaded and
bearing. Commander Horton took a snap-shot and dived. The shot went
home, and the _Héla_ troubled the patrol of E. 9 no more. On October
6, a German destroyer (S. 116) fell to another shot from the same hand.

After this, game was much scarcer. The German Admiralty tried to
establish a paper command of the North Sea, kept up (for the benefit
of the German public) by runaway raids on our East Coast towns; but
anything like a regular patrol was impossible to discover. In the
following eighteen months, however, our submarines did succeed in
two attacks on stray German destroyers, and four on armed auxiliary
vessels. Lieut.-Commander Benning (E. 5) hit an auxiliary in April
1915, but did not sink her. In June, Lieut.-Commander Moncrieffe
hit another, the _America_, so badly that she was run ashore. In
September, Commander Benning sank a third outright; and in December,
Lieut.-Commander Duff-Dunbar (E. 16) secured a larger one of 3,000
tons. Of the destroyers, the first (V. 188) was got by Commander C. P.
Talbot, in E. 16, on July 26; and the second on February 4, 1916, by
Lieut.-Commander H. W. Shove, in E. 29. This was a boat of the ‘S. 138’
class, but she could not be further identified, nor did any British eye
actually witness her final disappearance.

The rest of the bag is, for the most part, a forbidden subject. The
items are many, the loss to the enemy was great; but as he is racking
his brains to get or guess the details, it is no part of our business
to help him. There are, however, two items of which we may speak with
open satisfaction. One is the capture of a German trawler--of this we
have already heard from the Admiral Commanding our Submarine Base,
in Chapter IV. The simple story is that Lieut.-Commander G. Kellett,
finding his boat (S. 1) so far disabled that she could not get home
on her own engines, took over a German trawler by force, without
attracting undue attention, and came safely into port, towed from enemy
waters by an enemy boat. The remaining item hardly falls within our
range; but though not submarine work, it is work actually done by a
submarine, and may be classed, perhaps, with the destruction of the
ammunition train by Lieut.-Commander Cochrane at Yarandji. On May 4,
1916, a Zeppelin (L. 7) fell to Lieut.-Commander F. E. B. Feilman, in
E. 31, and he brought home seven of her crew as prisoners.

Even this is not all. In 1916, our submarines inflicted on the
German Fleet itself four blows, which, though they were none of them
actually fatal, must yet have been extremely damaging to the nerve
of the Service, and certainly cost heavily for repairs both in time
and labour. On August 19, the _Westfalen_--a battle-ship of 18,000
tons, built in 1908--was torpedoed by Lieut.-Commander Turner, in
E. 23. On October 19, Lieut.-Commander Jessop severely damaged the
light cruiser _München_, of 3,200 tons; and on November 5, Commander
Lawrence (in J. 1) achieved the brilliant feat of torpedoing two German
Dreadnoughts--the _Grosser Kurfurst_, which was laid down in 1913 and
finished since the War began, and the _Kronprinz_, which was both laid
down and commissioned since August 1914. A success of this kind, though
not final, may well be set against the sinking of much older and more
vulnerable ships, like the _Formidable_, _Triumph_, and _Majestic_;
and it must be remembered that the disappearance of these three from
our Navy List, however regrettable, had absolutely no effect on the
relative strength of the British and German Battle Fleets; whereas the
loss, for some months at any rate, of two great Dreadnoughts like the
_Grosser Kurfurst_ and _Kronprinz_--coming as it did shortly after the
Jutland losses--carried the inferiority of Admiral von Scheer’s force
to the point of impotence. In the match of submarine against war-ship,
our boats had succeeded where the U-boats had signally failed.



CHAPTER VII

WAR-SHIP _v._ SUBMARINE


The story of the contest between our war-ships and their new enemy, the
submarine, is the story of a most remarkable and successful adaptation.
Of the six principal methods of defence used by our Navy at the end
of the fourth year of war, three are old and three new; and it is a
striking proof of the scientific ability of the Service, that the three
old methods have been carefully reconsidered, and that, instead of
abandoning them because, in their original use, they were apparently
obsolete, our officers have turned them to even better account than the
new inventions.

The oldest device for the protection of war-ships against
torpedoes--whether fired by torpedo-boats or submarines--is the net.
Our older battle-ships, as everyone will remember, were fitted with
a complete set of steel nets on both sides, and with long booms for
hanging them out. These booms, when not in use, were lashed diagonally
along the ship’s sides, like great stitches, and gave the typical
vessels of the British Fleet a peculiar and decidedly smart appearance.
Very smart, too, was the quickness and precision with which the order
‘Out torpedo nets!’ was executed; but--long before 1914--everyone was
perfectly aware that the nets were practically as much out of date as
masts and sails. They were so heavy, and hung so low in the water,
that no ship could manœuvre in them, and even for a fleet at anchor
they had ceased to be a trustworthy defence; for the Whitehead torpedo
was now fitted with cutters which could shear a way through the steel
meshes.

Nets of the old type, therefore, have played no part in the present
War--unless we are to believe the Turkish account of the sinking of the
_Ocean_ in the Dardanelles, according to which the nets were out, and
were not only useless as a protection, but dragged down some of our men
when they might otherwise have escaped by swimming. But, because one
type of net is obsolete, the British Navy has seen no reason to reject
all nets as impracticable. It is not beyond imagination to conceive a
net so light and large of mesh, that it will diminish by no more than
one knot the speed of the ship which carries it, and will yet catch
and deflect a torpedo in the act of passing through it. For it must be
remembered that the real problem is not how to stop a torpedo in its
full 30-knot career, but how to prevent it from striking the ship with
its head at an angle not too fine for the detonator to be fired. A turn
of the helm, or the mere wave from the cut-water of a fast ship, has
often sent a torpedo running harmlessly away along the quarter. The net
of the future may be found equally successful in catching the fish by
its whiskers and turning it forward along the bow, where the same wave
will drive it outwards from the ship’s course.

The second familiar means of defence was the gun. Here again there was
a temptation to despair. The secondary armament of any battle-ship or
cruiser was fairly certain to make short work of a torpedo-boat, or of
a submarine visible upon the surface. But no living gunner had ever
fired at the periscope of a submarine--a mark only two feet, at most,
out of the water, and only four inches in diameter. To see such an
object at, say, 1,000 yards, was difficult; to hit it might well seem
impossible. Yet 1,000 yards was but one-tenth of the possible range at
which a modern submarine might fire its torpedo.

Nevertheless the use of the gun was not discarded; and two important
discoveries were made in consequence. The first of these was that
gunfire may be distant, wild, or even unaimed, and yet have an
excellent effect. The existence of a submarine is so precarious--its
chance of surviving a single direct hit is so slight--that the mere
sound of a gun will almost always be enough to make it submerge
completely--unless it can engage the enemy, with superior gun-power, at
a range of its own choosing. When Captain Weddigen had already hit the
_Aboukir_, the _Hogue_, and the _Cressy_, and all three were sinking,
the sound of the _Cressy’s_ guns was enough to cause his disappearance,
though it is very improbable that the shooting was really dangerous;
for the listing of the ship was rapid, and according to eye-witnesses,
the gallant gunners were soon firing in the air. Since then, the same
thing has been repeatedly observed; and some brilliant successes by our
patrol-boats and trawlers have shown that the U-boat has every right to
be nervous when it hears even a 6-pounder talking English.

The other discovery is a much more recent one. As soon as it was
once recognised that a torpedo is just as innocuous when deflected,
as when stopped or evaded, the idea was sure to strike the handiest
gunners in the world that they might use their weapons to disturb
the straightforwardness of the fish’s onset. Even thirty knots is
nothing to the velocity of a modern shell, and without hoping for a
direct hit on an object from six to twenty-two feet under water, it
was thought possible to give a twist to the torpedo’s nose sufficient
to make a potential hit into a miss or a glancing shot. This feat was
actually performed by the gunners of the _Justitia_, who, with splendid
coolness, shot at torpedoes as sportsmen used to shoot at oncoming
tigers, and succeeded in killing or diverting several, only to fall at
last before the rush of numbers.

[Illustration: ‘She had gone full speed for the enemy, and rammed him.’]

A third weapon of the war-ship was the ram; and the use of this,
being an offensive-defensive method, was the best of all, as we shall
see presently. It was, from the beginning, present to the mind of
every naval man, for A. 1 (our very first submarine) was lost, with
all hands, in May, 1904, by being accidentally rammed in the act of
submerging. It happened, too, that the first attack made by a submarine
against British war-ships in the present War was beaten by this
method. On August 9, 1914, a squadron of our light cruisers sighted
the periscope of a German U-boat, which had succeeded in approaching
to within short range of them. In the account of the affair published
at the time, we were informed that H.M.S. _Birmingham_ had sunk the
submarine by a direct hit on the periscope, and that this was the
only shot fired. Some time afterwards, the truth became known--the
_Birmingham_ had to her credit, not an impossible feat of gunnery, but
a brilliant piece of seamanship. She had gone full speed for the enemy,
and rammed him. Her captain was not led to do this by inspiration or
desperation, but by a scientific knowledge of the elements in the
problem. Without stopping to think afresh, he knew that a submarine
takes a certain time to dive to a safe depth, and that his own ship,
at 27 knots, would cover a good 900 yards of sea in one minute. When
his eye measured the distance of that periscope, he saw that--given
straight steering--the result was a mathematical certainty.

The new methods introduced during the War are also three in number.
Of one--the use of dazzle-painting--we have already heard. It is, of
course, a purely defensive measure, intended to deceive the eye at the
periscope by misrepresenting the ship’s size, distance, and course.
Another deceptive device is the phantom ship or dummy. A vessel of
comparatively small size and value is covered more or less completely
with a superstructure of light wood-work, with sham funnels, turrets
and big guns, so that she has all the appearance of a battle-cruiser or
Dreadnought. The U-boat may run after her, or run from her, according
to his feeling at the moment; but, in either case, he will be wasting
his time and laying up disappointment for himself. In May, 1915,
during the Gallipoli campaign, the Germans spent a certain amount of
time and trouble in torpedoing a ship which they supposed to be H.M.S.
_Agamemnon_, and in their illustrated propaganda sheets they give a
picture of that ship as one of the victims of the irresistible U-boats.
For a short time the story was believed inside Constantinople, and Mr.
Lewis Einstein, of the American Embassy there, relates in his diary
that this success, coming (as it appeared to do) immediately after
the sinking of the _Triumph_ and _Majestic_, was almost more than he
could bear. Fortunately for his peace of mind, he soon discovered the
truth. The supposed _Agamemnon_ was a dummy, and lay for some time
near the entrance of the Dardanelles, with her false turrets and sham
guns, exposed to the view of friends and foes on the two shores. Very
possibly this dummy received a shot which might otherwise have been
successfully directed against a genuine battle-ship, and the deception
was thus really useful. The German cunning is expended in a very
different direction. Its object is often to deceive their own people
as to what has actually been lost, not to avert a possible loss at our
hands. Thus when the super-submarine _Bremen_ was sunk on her outward
voyage for America, one dummy _Bremen_ after another was ostentatiously
brought home to a German port, as if returning from a successful
Atlantic passage. A more flagrant instance still was the statement
that, among the German losses in the Battle of Jutland, was the
sinking of the _Pommern_, a small and obsolete battle-ship of 13,000
tons, built in 1905. The British Admiralty, who knew that that older
_Pommern_ had been sunk in the Baltic by Commander Max Horton, nearly
a year before, had no difficulty in identifying the _Pommern_ lost at
Jutland with a new Dreadnought of the largest type, commissioned since
her predecessor’s destruction and christened by her name--either then
or at the moment when it became necessary to put a good face on their
disasters in the battle. It is to be hoped that this state of things
may continue on both sides. The Germans are welcome to our phantom
ships, if we thereby save our real ones; while, if we can sink their
real ones, we may well be content to hear them given imaginary names.
The two Services have different ideas of what is a useful dummy.

The newest method of preserving ships from the torpedo is a purely
constructional device, and very little can be said of it here. But we
have been allowed to know this much--the _Marlborough_ was torpedoed
at Jutland, but returned to the line of battle within nine minutes,
fought for three hours, and eventually came home under her own steam,
defeating a submarine attack on the way. We are not told how this very
satisfactory result is attained in the construction of a Dreadnought
of 25,000 tons, capable of full battle-ship speed. It cannot be by the
mere addition of the bulging compartments known as ‘blisters,’ for in
the older cruisers in which these were tried they were found to cause
too great a sacrifice of speed. The result, however, is there; and
there can be no doubt that as the number of unsinkable ships increases,
the activity of the U-boat will be very greatly discouraged.

But it would be contrary to the principles of war and the genius
of our Navy, to rely upon purely defensive measures to defeat the
submarine enemy. It is sometimes said that the U-boat campaign took
us by surprise. So far as this applies to the legitimate use of the
submarine against war-ships, the statement is quite untrue. The
campaign against merchant shipping and non-combatant passengers, waged
in defiance of all international law and common humanity, did certainly
take us by surprise; and it is only to our credit, and the discredit
of our enemies, that their barbarity was beyond our imagination. But
the efforts of the U-boats against our fleet were, as we have shown
in a previous chapter, actually less successful than our own attacks
upon theirs, and our tacticians were never for a moment at a loss
to deal with them. The principles had been thought out long ago. As
early as 1907, the distinguished admiral who writes over the name
‘Barfleur’ clearly stated his belief that ‘the untried submarine’ was
not likely to prove more effective than the torpedo-boat and destroyer
in depriving our Battle Fleet of the control of the sea. ‘Nothing is
more to be deprecated,’ he added, ‘than the attempt which has been
made to enhance unduly its importance, by playing on the credulity
of the public. The new instrument of war has no doubt a value, but
that it is anything more than an auxiliary, with limited and special
uses, is difficult to believe.’ And he turned back to old and tried
principles: ‘The traditional role of the British Navy is not to act on
the defensive, but to prepare to attack the force which threatens.’
In September, 1914, when Weddigen’s _coup_ showed that the moment
had come, ‘Barfleur’ was among the first to attack the new problem
tactically--he saw at once that the war-ship’s best defence lies in the
offensive power given by her immense superiority in speed and weight.
And if the single ship is formidable to the submarine, a squadron
is still more so. By its formation, its manœuvres, its pace and its
ramming power, it reverses the whole situation--the hunter becomes the
hunted, and must fly like a wolf from a pack of wolf-hounds, every one
more powerful than itself.

There remains, of course, the question of the best formation for the
squadron to adopt. Upon this point there are more opinions than one,
and a conversation may be reported in which the merits of line abreast
and line ahead were set against one another by two naval officers,
and both put out of court by a third. The first two were captains
commanding ships in two different squadrons. They argued the question
between them with great seriousness; but in so cool and abstract a
manner, that the spectator might be pardoned for suspecting--rightly or
wrongly--that they were supporting doctrines which were not personal
to themselves but derived from higher authority--perhaps from their
respective admirals, both men of great ability and experience. It was
noticeable, too, that the admiral at whose table the disputants were
sitting, and who himself commanded yet another squadron, maintained
an attitude of neutrality; though it is certain that he and his own
officers, several of whom were present, had often discussed the
problem, and were probably agreed upon the answer to it.

‘Speed,’ said Captain A, ‘seems to be the key to the solution. It is
only in line ahead that speed helps you--in fact gives you something
like practical safety. If a torpedo, fired at a column in line ahead,
misses the ship it is aimed at, it is very unlikely to be so wide a
shot as to hit either the next ahead or next astern--it is a miss
directly it crosses the line.’

Captain B remained perfectly grave, but he looked very well content
with this argument. ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘theoretically; but, in fact, the
contrary has happened. In a column of eight ships, in line ahead, the
_London_ and the _Formidable_ were the last two. You remember that the
torpedo which sank the _Formidable_ was believed to have been meant for
the _London_. And anyhow, speed and stormy weather failed to save the
rear ship.’

‘The speed was insufficient,’ replied Captain A, ‘not worth calling
speed. When your fleet is in line abreast, columns disposed astern, the
theoretical chances of hitting are much greater. Speed is no advantage
in such a formation--in fact it may be a positive disadvantage. It may
actually increase the virtual target. A shot which misses the near ship
of a line abreast may still hit one of the others.’

‘Laurence,’ said Captain B, ‘when he fired at the _Moltke_, considered
her, as wing ship of the squadron, to be his only chance.’

‘There was no second line disposed astern,’ replied Captain A; ‘but
even so, if his torpedo had just missed, ahead of the _Moltke_, the
next or next but one in the line might have come forward just in time
to receive the shot.’

‘That,’ said Captain B, ‘is a mere question of time and distance; and,
in anything like ordinary circumstances, you would not get your result.
Say the ships are three cables apart, and doing only fifteen knots. The
torpedo is going double the speed; but by the time it has run the three
cables along the line, the next ship will have gone one and a half
cables ahead and be past the danger point.’

‘Your ship may be zigzagging,’ replied Captain A, ‘and run right into
it. Line ahead has the advantage there--in fact, speaking generally,
I have the power, which you have not, of immediate deployment in
any direction. I can avoid mines, or turn away from the submarine
altogether.’

‘Certainly,’ said Captain B, looking again quite well content, ‘but
you would not turn away in any case--you would best defend yourself by
attacking the submarine.’

Captain A hesitated a moment. ‘Yes,’ he replied at last, ‘but in line
abreast your attack might be positively dangerous to yourself. Suppose
your columns in line abreast to be zigzagging, as they probably would
be, and imagine one of your ships to put her helm the wrong way--there
would inevitably be a collision.’

‘I cannot imagine such a thing,’ said Captain B.

‘I appeal to the Admiral,’ said Captain A.

It seemed an embarrassing thing, for a host and superior officer, to
be called upon to give judgment between his guests on so serious an
argument. But the Admiral was not in the least embarrassed. He did
not even express his own opinion, which was thought to favour Captain
B. ‘Let me remind you,’ he said, ‘that you have not examined the
most important witness in the case--the commander of the submarine.
What order is the most dangerous for the submarine to meet? I asked
Commander C, one of our best E-boat officers, this question lately, and
he replied “Quarter-line, undoubtedly.”’

He turned to the only landsman present, and reminded him that in a
quarter-line, or bow-and-quarter line, the ships are echeloned each
upon the quarter of the next ahead instead of directly astern. He
added, ‘A will say that this is in his favour, because ships in a
quarter-line are really in line ahead, only that each one in turn is a
little out of the straight. And B will claim that he wins, because a
quarter-line is merely a line abreast in which each ship lags a little
more behind the true front. And C will tell us that the only thing
which matters is that the quarter-line gives the unhappy submarine less
chance of hitting, and more chance of being sunk than either of the
other two formations. And thereupon the Court is adjourned.’



CHAPTER VIII

BRITISH SUBMARINES IN THE BALTIC


The story of our submarine campaign in the Baltic is the first of two
romances of the sea--one Northern and one Southern--the like of which
is not to be found in the annals of the last 300 years. War must often
make us familiar with obscure or long-forgotten places, the scenes of
old voyages, and battles long ago; but to adventure with our submarines
into the Baltic, or the Sea of Marmora, is to slip through unimagined
dangers into a legendary world beyond all history--sailing the seas
of the past, with the captains of the future. The exploration under
water of those intricate and perilous channels was alone a discovery of
supreme skill and daring; and the brilliant acts of war achieved by the
adventurers form only a minor part of the glory of being there at all.

The first of our submarine voyagers in the Baltic was Lieut.-Commander
Max Horton, in E. 9. Before the War was a year old his fame had spread
far and wide; but the details of his success are not even yet generally
known, and cannot be given here. By October 6, 1914, he had sunk a
German light cruiser and a destroyer, both in the ‘North Sea,’ and it
may perhaps be guessed that he had, at any rate, thought of penetrating
into the Baltic. By January, 1915, he was a full Commander, and had
received the D.S.O. On the 29th of that month, he was not only in
the Baltic, but was sinking a destroyer there; on May 11, he bagged
a transport; and on June 5, he put to the credit of E. 9 another
transport and another destroyer. Finally, on July 2, he torpedoed the
_Pommern_, a 13,000-ton battle-ship of an older type, but armed with
11-inch guns.

On July 29, he slipped again, in company with E. 1 (Commander N. F.
Laurence), and after some independent hunting, the two boats both
arrived at Reval. E. 9 had attacked a cruiser and a submarine; and, on
August 18, had had a covetous look at a squadron of battle-cruisers,
detailed for the German attack on the Gulf of Riga. But as they were
moving constantly in regular formation, and at high speed over a large
area, it was not possible to deal satisfactorily with them. E. 1,
however, had had better luck. On August 19, Commander Laurence came
to observation depth at 8.0 A.M., and under cover of a fog succeeded
in stalking the same squadron. They were manœuvring in line abreast,
and within ten minutes came across E. 1’s bows, with destroyers on
both flanks. Commander Laurence had, of course, only a single ship
to aim at--the battle-cruiser on the wing nearest to him, which was
ascertained to have been the _Moltke_, a 22,600-ton ship. At 8.20, he
fired his starboard torpedo, and at the same moment dived to avoid a
destroyer which was coming straight for him. His luck was good, both
ways. The torpedo got home on the battle-cruiser, and the destroyer
missed E. 1 by a few feet. The next day he reported to the Russian
Admiral at Reval.

These two boats were followed, on August 15, by E. 8 and E. 13.
The fate of E. 13 will not be forgotten while there is any rightful
indignation left in Europe. On August 19, she got ashore on a neutral
coast--the Danish island of Saltholm--and there, with her crew upon
her, was deliberately shot to pieces by a German war-ship, in defiance
of all humanity and international law. Her officers and men behaved
with perfect courage, but many of them were killed before they could
get away from the wreck of their boat.

Lieut.-Commander Goodhart’s account of the voyage of E. 8 is a plain
and business-like document, but to read it, with a map beside it,
is to look far away into a world of historic names and ever-present
dangers. It is easy enough to imagine the passage up the Skager-Rak,
always remembering that we must keep well out of the central line of
traffic, and that in the afternoon we have to dive and pass under a
whole fleet of steam trawlers. At 7 P.M. it is possible to come to the
surface again. The Commander orders full speed, rounds the Skaw, and
enters the Kattegat. In the fading twilight, several merchant-steamers
are seen going north. The shore and island lights twinkle out one by
one--Hamnskar, Vinga, Skaw, Trindelen, and Anholt. The night is short.
By 3.0 A.M. we must dive again, and lie quietly on shoal ground, while
the traffic goes over us. At 5.25 A.M. we venture to the surface, but
are put down quickly by a steamer. At 7.0 we venture again, and do a
scurry of 1½ hours in a friendly mist. Then down again, and crawl at 3
knots, till at 1.0 P.M. we are off the entrance to the Sound.

Here Commander Goodhart has to make the choice between going forward
submerged, or waiting for darkness and then attempting the channel on
the surface. He is confident of being able to get to his position
under water, and decides accordingly to continue diving into the Sound
and wait for night inside. He proceeds at fifty feet, and, by 3.6 P.M.,
has verified his position, coming up to twenty-one feet to do so. He
goes down again to fifty feet, and alters course to pass through the
northern narrows. At 4.10 P.M. he is east of Helsingör Light--‘By thy
wild and stormy steep, Elsinore!’ At 5.20, after another observation,
he goes to bottom in eleven fathoms, feeling comfortably certain that
he has not been detected--so far--on his passage.

At 8.15 P.M. he rises to the surface. The Danish shore is bright with
many lights, the Swedish shore is dark--all is exactly as it may have
been a century and more ago, when Nelson was there on his way to his
great battle. E. 8 goes south-westward on the surface, altering course
to avoid being seen by two destroyers, who are going north, along the
Danish shore, at a great pace. One of them suddenly turns south, but
then stops, as if in doubt. E. 8 runs on into still more dangerous
waters; the lights of Copenhagen are blazing brightly, and in Middle
Ground Fort a searchlight is working. Now and again it strikes the
submarine. Then come several fishing-boats, then two red lights in a
small craft going south, close over to the Danish shore. She is on our
starboard beam for some time, but luckily not near enough to see us,
and we head boldly for Flint Channel.

Off Malmo, the shore lights are dazzling, and it is extremely hard
to fix a position. There are many fishing-boats about, each carrying
two bright lights. The Commander orders the boat to be trimmed down,
with upper deck awash, and proceeds with one engine only, at seven
knots. He steadies his course through Flint Channel, passing at least
twenty vessels towards the western end of it, some carrying two and
some three white lights, and one making searchlight signals in the air.
The majority of the fishing-boats are no sooner avoided by a change of
course, than we run past a small tramp showing a green light, and then
three white ones. She seems to have anchored; but two other vessels
have to be dodged, and then the ship which has been signalling with
searchlight. Immediately afterwards, when just N.E. of the Lightship,
with her three vertical red lights, a small torpedo-boat or trawler
sights us as we creep by within 200 yards of her. Probably it is the
searchlight in Copenhagen which has shown us up. Anyhow it is tally-ho
at last!

She lights red and green flares, and alters course in our direction.
We dive, and strike bottom--‘very strong bottom’--at nineteen feet on
gauge, which immediately decreases to fourteen feet. At fourteen feet,
then, we try to proceed on our course; but the ground is fearfully
uneven, and a succession of bumps brings us to a dead stop. It is 11.40
P.M. After an anxious quarter of an hour, the Commander rises to the
surface. The Drogden Lightship is on our starboard quarter. A large
destroyer or small cruiser is ahead of us, showing lights--she is the
one who had made searchlight signals. She is only two hundred yards
away, but the Commander trims E. 8 deep, and steals past on motors.
Four minutes this takes, and we then find a destroyer right ahead, and
only one hundred yards from us. There is nothing for it but to dive.
Down we go to twenty-three feet on gauge; but at sixteen feet the boat
strikes bottom heavily on the starboard side, carrying away all blades
of the starboard propeller. We lie on the bottom and listen to our
pursuers overhead.

Life is now a matter of minutes and feet. At 12.15, the boat goes down
to eighteen feet, but is still bumping badly. At 12.19, Commander
Goodhart stops her and comes silently to the surface. The destroyer
is there, close on our starboard beam. At 12.20, we dive again, as
slowly as we dare, and at seventeen feet we glide away on our course,
the depth of water mercifully increasing as we go. For a long time we
seem to be escaping. Then, at 2.10 A.M., we strike bottom again at
eighteen feet. An hour more, and we rise to the surface, only to see
the destroyer on our port beam. Happily she is now a mile off, and does
not see us. When we come up again, at 7.15, there is nothing in sight.
At 8.53 we dive for a steamer, and at 10.40 for a destroyer. E. 8 is
nearly out of breath now--her battery is running very low.

Commander Goodhart decides to find a good depth, go to the bottom, and
lie there till darkness gives him a chance of recharging. From 10.40
A.M. till 6.40 P.M. we lie like a stone in twenty-three fathoms.

At 6.40 a Swedish steamer is still patrolling ahead. At 8.25 P.M. a
patrol of three vessels is close astern, and very slowly moving east.
The moon is too bright for us and we dive again. At 9.30 we try once
more, but are put down by a shadowy destroyer to the southward. At
last, ten minutes before midnight, we find a bit of sea where we and
the boat can breathe in peace.

But only for two hours; daylight comes early in northern waters. It is
now August 20. At 2.0 A.M. we dive again, and lie in seventeen fathoms,
spending time and imagination upon the chart. We are well out of the
Sound now, and clear of the Swedish coast. On our starboard beam lies
the island of Rügen, where we shall never make holiday again; further
back, on our quarter, is the channel that leads to Lübeck and to Kiel,
which we hope to visit yet. Right ahead is the island of Bornholm,
which we must pass unperceived, and beyond it the whole expanse of the
Baltic lies open.

Commander Goodhart rises to the surface at 9.0 A.M., but dives again at
noon. We are now not far west of Rönne; and as he wishes to make sure
of passing Bornholm unobserved, he decides to remain on the bottom till
dark, then slip by and recharge his batteries, for a long run north by
daylight. By 7.0 P.M. we are on our way, and eight hours later we are
passing the east coast of the great island of Gotland. At 9.2 P.M. we
dive for a light cruiser, which passes overhead forward; at 10.0 we
return to the surface and proceed north-east, running past the entrance
to the Gulf of Riga and the island of Oesel. By 1.0 A.M. on August 22,
we have to dive for daylight; but by 3.0 we are up again, and going on
our course full speed. At 8.30 A.M. we sight Dagerört ahead and join
E. 9 (Commander Max Horton). In company with her and with a Russian
destroyer, we pass into the entrance of the Gulf of Finland; and by
9.0 P.M., E. 8 is secured in Reval harbour. Within twenty-four hours,
Commander Goodhart has docked and overhauled her, replaced her broken
propeller, and reported her ready for sea.

The career of E. 8 in the Baltic was long and successful. It began, so
far as sinkings are concerned, with the destruction of the steamer
_Margarette_ of Königsberg by gunfire, on October 5, 1915, and the most
exciting day in the record was October 23, when the _Prinz Adalbert_, a
cruiser of nearly 9,000 tons, fell to her first shot. E. 8 was cruising
off Libau when, at 8.50 A.M., Commander Goodhart observed smoke on the
horizon, and altered course to intercept the ship which was soon seen
to be an enemy. She had three funnels and two very high masts, and was
going west with two destroyers, zigzagging--one on each bow.

Commander Goodhart ran on, at seven and a half knots, till he got
within 3,000 yards, when he eased to five knots in order to lessen his
wake. The wind was slight, from S.S.E., and there was bright sunlight.
The conditions were ideal for an attack from the southward. All tubes
were made ready; the enemy came on at an estimated speed of fifteen
knots. At 9.28 the port destroyer passed ahead; four minutes later,
Commander Goodhart fired his bow tube at the war-ship’s fore-bridge and
began to look out for results.

They came. After one minute he observed a very vivid flash on the
water-line at the point of aim. This was immediately followed by a very
heavy concussion, and the entire ship was hidden instantly in a huge
column of thick grey smoke. Evidently the torpedo had exploded the fore
magazine. The sky was filled with debris, and the smaller bits began
falling in the water near the submarine. There was no use in spending
time on the surface, and in one minute more, E. 8 was sliding down
to fifty feet, where she stayed for eight minutes, to give the rest
of the ship ample time to come down. At 9.42 Commander Goodhart rose
to twenty feet, and took a survey through his periscope. There was
no sign of the _Prinz Adalbert_. The two destroyers had closed on to
the scene of the explosion, but it was not likely that they had been
able to find any survivors, for the destruction of the ship had been
instantaneous and complete. Commander Goodhart decided not to attack
them, because, for all he knew, they were ignorant of his presence; if
so, they might very probably imagine the damage to have been done by
a mine, and give him future opportunities. The shot had been a long
one, about 1,300 yards, and this was in the circumstances particularly
fortunate; for at a shorter distance, such as 500 or 600 yards, the
submarine herself would have felt a tremendous shock from the double
explosion.

An hour later he saw four destroyers hovering about the place of the
wreck. He turned away, and they made no attempt to follow. At dawn next
day he reported by wireless, and then proceeded to his base.

In the meantime E. 19, Lieut.-Commander F. N. Cromie, had arrived.
She set to work in earnest upon the German shipping engaged in the
service of the naval and military departments of the enemy, towards the
western end of the Baltic. Monday, October 11, was her best day, and
the beginning of a downright panic in the Hamburg trade. ‘8.0 A.M.,’
says Lieut.-Commander Cromie, ‘started to chase merchant shipping.’
He had good hunting. At 9.40 A.M. he stopped the _Walter Leonhardt_,
from Lulea to Hamburg, with iron ore. The crew abandoned ship, and
were picked up by a Swedish steamer, considerately stopped for the
purpose. A gun-cotton charge then sent the empty vessel to the bottom.
By noon, E. 19 was chasing the _Germania_ of Hamburg, signalling her to
stop immediately. In spite of the signals and a warning gun-shot, she
continued to bolt, and soon ran ashore. Lieut.-Commander Cromie went
alongside cautiously to save her crew, but found that they had already
abandoned ship. He tried to tow her off, but failed to move her--small
wonder, for her cargo consisted of nearly three million kgs. of the
finest concentrated iron ore, from Stockholm to Stettin. He left her
filling with water, and at 2.0 gave chase to the _Gutrune_. By 3.0 he
had towed her crew to the Swedish steamer, and started her for the
bottom with her 4,500,000 kgs. of iron ore, from Lulea to Hamburg.

The game went forward merrily. At 4.25 he began to chase two more large
steamers going south. In twenty minutes he had stopped one--the Swedish
boat _Nyland_, with ore for Rotterdam and papers all correct--told her
to proceed, and ten minutes later caught the _Direktor Rippenhagen_,
with magnetic ore from Stockholm to Nadenheim. While she was sinking
he stopped another Swede bound for Newcastle, and gave her the
_Direktor’s_ crew to take care of. An hour later, he proceeded to chase
a large steamer, the _Nicomedia_, who tried to make off towards the
Swedish coast. A shot across her bows brought her to a more resigned
frame of mind. She proved to be a large and extremely well-fitted
vessel, carrying six to seven million kgs. of magnetic ore from Lulea
to Hamburg. The crew were sent ashore in boats, and E. 19 proceeded
up the west of Gotland. Her cruise was marked by one more incident--a
significant one. During the morning of October 12, Lieut.-Commander
Cromie stopped the _Nike_, and went alongside to examine her. He found
her to be in iron ore from Stockholm to Stettin, under command of
Captain Anderson, whose passport, from the Liverpool Police, proved
him to be a Swede. To a Hun, this would have made no difference; but
Lieut.-Commander Cromie had British ideas on international law. He
sent Lieutenant Mee on board with a prize crew of two men, in the good
old style of our ancestors, and ordered them to take the prize into
Reval for further investigation. After what we have already said about
submarines and war policy, the point needs no pressing. War against
trading vessels and non-combatants is possible within the rules, but
only in certain circumstances. Even where those circumstances exist,
there is no excuse for breaking the rules; and where they do not exist,
only a barbarian would hack his way through the net of international
law and common humanity. Our Navy has in all circumstances kept both
these laws: the German submarines have deliberately and cruelly broken
both.

Lieut.-Commander Cromie continued to have the good fortune he deserved.
He ended the 1915 campaign with another war-ship in his bag. Cruising
in the Western Baltic on the morning of November 7, he sighted a light
cruiser and two destroyers, but was disappointed in his attempt to
attack. Three hours later, at 1.20, in a favourable mist, he had a
second chance. A light cruiser--perhaps the same--with one destroyer in
attendance, came on at fifteen knots, steaming south and east. He dived
at once, and at 1.45 fired his starboard torpedo. The range was about
1,100 yards, and the shot went home on the cruiser’s starboard side
forward. She immediately swung round in a large circle and then stopped
dead. She appeared to be on fire and sinking. But Lieut.-Commander
Cromie was unwilling to leave her in uncertainty. He avoided the
destroyer, passed under her stern, and manœuvred for a second shot.
This was fired at 1,200 yards, and was aimed at the cruiser’s
main-mast, just abaft of which it actually struck. A double explosion
followed. Evidently the after magazine had blown up, and several large
smoking masses were shot out some 200 yards in the direction of the
submarine. The destroyer then opened a heavy fire on the periscope with
H.E. shell. Down went E. 19 for her life; but three minutes later,
she was up again to see what was happening. The cruiser--she was the
_Undine_ of 2,650 tons--was gone. The destroyer was picking up a few
survivors, and after a restless half-hour made off to the southward,
leaving on the scene only a ferry-boat flying the German mercantile
flag. Lieut.-Commander Cromie left also, and arrived next day at Reval,
where he reported the attack and added that, under existing weather
conditions, it was only rendered possible by the sound judgment and
prompt action of Lieutenant G. Sharp, who was officer of the watch at
the time.

E. 19 was not alone in her successful campaign against the German
iron-ore trade. A week after her fine break recorded above, E. 9
arrived on the scene; and Commander Max Horton, in two successive
days, sank the _Soderham_, _Pernambuco_, _Johannes-Russ_, and
_Dall-Asfen_--four serious losses to the German gun factories, and even
more serious blows to the courage of their carrying trade. The captain
of the _Nike_ told Lieutenant Mee on his voyage to Reval, that after
E. 19’s first raid no less than fifteen ships were held up at Lulea,
awaiting convoys; and after E. 9’s success, the command of the Baltic
seemed to have passed for the time out of German hands.

Such a state of things could not, of course, be continuously
maintained--the Baltic weather alone made that impossible. E. 1, E. 8,
and E. 18 followed their leaders, and all did good service during the
autumn; but their reports show how severe were the conditions when
the winter really set in. E. 9 had already noted very bad weather in
November, and on the 25th ‘boat became covered with a large quantity
of ice.’ On January 10, 1916, E. 18, commanded by Lieut.-Commander
R. C. Halahan, reports ‘temperature very low: sea very rough; great
difficulty in keeping conning-tower hatch clear of ice, as sea came
over constantly and froze at once.’ Two days later she proceeded to
Reval in company with a Russian ice-breaker. ‘The ice was very thick
in places, but no difficulty was experienced in getting through.’
These hindrances continued for months. As late as April 28, we find
E. 18 accompanied through Moon Sound by an ice-breaker ‘as there were
occasional thick ice-fields.’ The next day some of these ice-fields
came drifting down upon the anchorage, and E. 18 had to slip and anchor
off until night. Even so, she could not be sure of escaping all danger;
for the ice brought down large masses of stone, and deposited them in
the channels.

[Illustration: ‘The Russian ice-breakers freed them from the harbour
ice.’

    [_See page_ 123.
]

In spite of all difficulties and hardships, our submarines continued
their campaign indomitably, and would no doubt at this hour still hold
the mastery of the Baltic trade, if the collapse of our Russian friends
had not deprived them of their bases and rendered their operations
useless. Early in April, 1917, it became evident that Finland must
fall into German hands, and steps were taken to withdraw our naval
force from the Baltic. But, for the boats themselves, there could be
no return from the scene of their voyages and victories. They lay
ice-bound in the harbour of Helsingfors, and there they must end their
unparalleled story, for surrender to an enemy so unworthy was not to be
thought of.

As soon, then, as official news came of the landing of German troops at
Hango, these famous adventurers were led to their last rendezvous. The
Russian ice-breakers freed them from the harbour ice. All the Russian
officers who had been attached to the British flotilla, and who were
then in Helsingfors, offered their assistance for the funeral rites,
and soon after midday Lieut. Basil Downie, the officer in command
of the submarine depot, put to sea in E. 1, followed by E. 9, E. 8,
and E. 19. Each boat carried her death potion in the form of torpedo
warheads with a 20-lb. dry cotton charge as primers. Three of these
charges were allotted to each--one forward, one aft, and one amidships;
and when the alarm-bell of the clock in each should ring, contact
would be made and the end would come. The point decided on was reached
at last. The bells rang, and E. 19, E. 1, and E. 9 sank to their own
thunder. E. 8, by some failure of her clock, remained unhurt, and since
the ice-breaker could not stay out at sea longer, she was left to die
another day, with other comrades. At 7.0 next morning, Lieut. Downie
put to sea again with C. 26 and C. 35 and the torpedo-barge, with the
few remaining stores. When the clocks rang this time, E. 8 sank, and
C. 26 with her. The barge and C. 35 were left to wait for C. 27, the
last of that victorious company. On the following morning the barge was
blown up, and the two submarines were simply sunk in fifteen fathoms.
They went down uninjured, but within three minutes two great explosions
followed, and twelve-foot columns of water shot up. ‘This, presumably,’
says the report, ‘was the exploding of their batteries.’ Our Viking
ancestors would have said, perhaps, that it was the bursting of their
dragon hearts.



CHAPTER IX

BRITISH SUBMARINES IN THE DARDANELLES


Our submarine campaign in the Sea of Marmora must also have a separate
chapter to itself, not only because it is now a closed episode in the
history of the War, but because it was conducted under quite unique
conditions. The scene of operations was not merely distant from the
submarine base, it was divided from it by an approach of unusual danger
and difficulty. The channel of the Dardanelles is narrow and winding,
with a strong tide perpetually racing down it, and setting strongly
into the several bays. It was moreover protected, as will appear in the
course of the narrative, by forts with powerful guns and searchlights
and torpedo tubes, and by barrages of thick wire and netting it was
also patrolled constantly by armed ships. Yet from the very first all
these defences were evaded or broken through with marvellous courage
and ingenuity; for nearly a year a succession of brilliant commanders
took their boats regularly up and down the passage, and made the
transport of Turkish troops and munitions across the Marmora first
hazardous, and finally impracticable. Their losses were small; but
they passed the weeks of their incredibly long patrols in continual
danger, and snatched their successes from the midst of a swarm of
vigilant enemies. Two battle-ships, a destroyer, and five gunboats
fell to them, besides over thirty steamers, many of which were armed,
nine transports, seven ammunition and store ships, and no less than 188
sailing-ships and dhows with supplies. The pages which follow contain
notes on the cruise of every British boat which attempted the passage
of the Straits; but they are far from giving an account of all their
amazing feats and adventures.

Lieutenant Norman Holbrook had the honour of being the first officer
to take a British submarine up the Dardanelles. He carefully prepared
his boat--B. 11--for the business of jumping over and under obstacles,
by devices which have since been perfected but were then experimental.
The preliminary trials turned out very satisfactorily, and on
Sunday, December 13, 1914, as soon as the mainland searchlights were
extinguished at dawn, he trimmed and dived for Seddul Bahr.

His main idea was to put certain Rickmers steamers out of action, and
perhaps the actual object of his pursuit was the _Lily Rickmers_. He
did not get her, but he got something quite as attractive. It was 9.40
A.M., or rather more than four hours from the start, when at last he
put his periscope above water, and saw immediately on his starboard
beam a large two-funnelled vessel, painted grey and flying the Turkish
ensign. At 600 yards he fired his starboard torpedo, put his helm hard
a-starboard, and dipped to avoid remonstrances. The explosion was duly
audible a few seconds later, and as B. 11 came quietly up of her own
motion her commander took a glimpse through the periscope. The grey
ship (she was the battle-ship _Messudiyeh_) was still on his starboard
beam, and firing a number of guns. B. 11 seemed bent on dipping again,
but Lieutenant Holbrook was still more bent on seeing what he had done.
He got her up once more and sighted his enemy, on the port bow this
time. She was settling down by the stern and her guns were no longer
firing.

At this moment the man at the helm of B. 11 reported that the lenses
of the compass had become fogged, and the instrument was for the
time unreadable. Lieutenant Holbrook took a careful survey of his
surroundings, calculated that he was in Sari Siglar Bay, and dived for
the channel. The boat touched bottom and for ten minutes went hop, skip
and jump along it, at full speed, until she shot off into deeper water.
Her commander then brought her up again, took a sight of the European
shore, steadied her by it, and ran for home. By 2 P.M. he had cleared
the entrance. His feat was not only brilliant in itself; it was an
act of leadership, an invaluable reconnaissance. In ten hours he had
proved all the possibilities of the situation--he had forced a strongly
guarded channel, surprised and sunk a battle-ship in broad daylight,
and returned safely, though he had gone up without information and come
down without a compass. The V.C. was his manifest destiny.

In the following spring, after the guns of the Allied fleets had failed
to reduce the Turkish forts, the submarine campaign was developed.
It began with a defeat--one of those defeats which turn to honour,
and maintain the invincibility of our Service. On April 17, while
attempting a difficult reconnaissance of the Kephez minefield, E. 15
ran ashore in the Dardanelles within a few hundred yards of Fort
No. 8. Her crew were captured while trying to get her off, and there
was a danger of her falling into the enemy’s hands in a serviceable
condition. The only remedy was to blow her up. She was no sort of a
mark for the battle-ships at long range; so during the night of the
18th an attack was made by two picket boats, manned by volunteer crews.
The boat of H.M.S. _Triumph_ was commanded by Lieut.-Commander Eric
Robinson, who led the expedition, with Lieut. Arthur Brooke Webb,
R.N.R., and Midshipman John Woolley, and that of H.M.S. _Majestic_
by Lieut. Claud Godwin. The fort gave them over two hundred rounds
at short range, mortally wounded one man and sank the _Majestic’s_
boat; but Lieut.-Commander Robinson succeeded in torpedoing E. 15 and
rendering her useless. He brought both crews off, and left even the
Germans in Constantinople admiring the pluck of his little enterprise.
One officer is reported by Mr. Lewis Einstein, of the American Embassy
there,[1] to have said, ‘I take off my hat to the British Navy.’ He was
right--this midnight attack by a handful of boys in boats has all the
heroic romance of the old cutting-out expeditions, and on Admiral de
Robeck’s report the leader of it was promoted to commander.

    [1] _Inside Constantinople_, p. 3. This interesting book throws
        much light on our submarine campaign, and gives valuable
        confirmation of our records.

[Illustration: ‘The Fort gave them 200 rounds at short range.’]

On April 25, A.E. 2 went successfully up and entered the Sea of
Marmora; on the 29th, Lieut.-Commander Edward Courtney Boyle followed
in E. 14. He started at 1.40 A.M., and the searchlight at Suan Dere was
still working when he arrived there at 4 o’clock. The fort fired, and
he dived, passing clean under the minefield. He then passed Chanak
on the surface with all the forts firing at him. Further on there were
a lot of small ships patrolling, and a torpedo gunboat at which he
promptly took a shot. The torpedo got her on the quarter and threw up a
column of water as high as her mast. But Lieut.-Commander Boyle could
not stop to see more--he became aware that the men in a small steamboat
were leaning over and trying to catch hold of the top of his periscope.
He dipped and left them; then rounded Nagara Point and dived deep.
Again and again he came up and was driven down; destroyers and gunboats
were chasing and firing in all directions. It was all he could do to
charge his batteries at night. After running continuously for over
fifty hours, the motors were so hot that he was obliged to stop. The
steadiness of all on board may be judged from the record of the diving
necessary to avoid destruction. Out of the first sixty-four hours of
the voyage, the boat was kept under for forty-four hours and fifty
minutes.

On the afternoon of the 29th, he sighted three destroyers convoying
two troopships; fired and dipped--for the destroyers were blazing at
his periscope, and he had only that one left--the other had stopped a
shot the day before. But even down below a thud was audible, and the
depth gauges flicked ten feet; half an hour afterwards he saw through
the periscope his own particular transport making for the shore with
dense columns of yellow smoke pouring from her. And that was her last
appearance. A few hours later he sighted A.E. 2 and spoke her. She had
sunk one gunboat, but had had bad luck with her other torpedoes and had
only one left. Lieut.-Commander Boyle arranged to meet her again next
day; but next day the gallant A.E. 2 fell to a Turkish gunboat.

During these days the Sea of Marmora was glassy calm, and the patrol
ships were so troublesome that Lieut.-Commander Boyle decided to sink
one as a deterrent. He picked off a small mine-laying boat, and fired
at a larger one twice without success, as the wake of the torpedoes was
too easily seen in the clear water.

The first four days of May he spent mainly in being hunted. On the 5th,
he got a shot at a destroyer convoying a transport, and made a fine
right-angle hit at 600 yards, but the torpedo failed to explode. This
only whetted his appetite, and for three days he chased ship after
ship. One he followed inshore, but troops on board opened fire on him
and hit the boat several times. At last, on the evening of May 10,
after being driven down by one destroyer, he sighted another with two
transports, and attacked at once. His first torpedo missed the leading
transport; his second shot hit the second transport and a terrific
explosion followed. Debris and men were seen falling into the water;
then night came on rapidly, and he could not mark the exact moment at
which she sank.

Inside Constantinople they were already telling each other yarns about
E. 14, and for her incredible activity they even promoted her to the
plural number. ‘One of the English submarines in the Marmora,’ Mr.
Einstein wrote on May 11, ‘is said to have called at Rodosto, flying
the Turkish flag. The Kaimakam, believing the officers to be German,
gave them all the petrol and provisions they required, and it was only
after leaving that they hoisted their true colours.’ The story will not
bear examination from our side; but no doubt it very usefully covered
a deficiency in the Kaimakam’s store account, whether caused by Germans
or by the Faithful themselves.

On May 13, Lieut.-Commander Boyle records a rifle duel with a small
steamer which he had chased ashore near Panidos. On the 14th he remarks
the enemy’s growing shyness. ‘I think the Turkish torpedo-boats must
have been frightened of ramming us, as several times, when I tried to
remain on the surface at night, they were so close when sighted that
it must have been possible to get us if they had so desired.’ The air
was so clear that in the daytime he was almost always in sight from the
shore, and signal fires and smoke columns passed the alarm continually.
He had no torpedoes left and was not mounted with a gun, so that he
was now at the end of his tether. On the 17th he was recalled by
wireless, and after diving all night ran for Gallipoli at full speed,
pursued by a two-funnelled gunboat, a torpedo-boat and a tug, who
shepherded him one on each side and one astern, ‘evidently expecting,’
he thought, ‘to get me caught in the nets.’ But he adds,’did not notice
any nets,’ and after passing another two-funnelled gunboat, a large
yacht, a battle-ship and a number of tramps, the fire of the Chanak
forts and the minefield as before, he reached the entrance and rose
to the surface abeam of a French battle-ship of the St. Louis class,
who gave her fellow crusader a rousing cheer. Commander Boyle reported
that the success of this fine and sustained effort was mainly due to
his officers, Lieutenant Edward Stanley and Acting-Lieutenant Lawrence,
R.N.R., both of whom received the D.S.C. His own promotion to Commander
was underlined by the award of the V.C.

Within twelve hours of E. 14’s return, her successor, E. 11, was
proceeding towards the Straits. The commanding officer of this boat
was Lieut.-Commander M. E. Nasmith, who had already been mentioned in
despatches for rescuing five airmen while being attacked by a Zeppelin
in the Heligoland Bight during the action on Christmas Day, 1914. He
had been waiting his turn at the Dardanelles with some impatience,
and as E. 11’s port engine had been put completely out of action by
an accident on the voyage from Malta, he had begged to be allowed
to attempt the passage into the Marmora under one engine. This was
refused, but his repairs were finished in time for him to take the
place of E. 14.

He made the passage of the Straits successfully, reconnoitred the
Marmora and made a neat arrangement, probably suggested by the
adventures of E. 14, for saving the enemy the trouble of so much
hunting. He stopped a small coastal sailing vessel, sent Lieut. D’Oyly
Hughes to search her for contraband, and then trimmed well down and
made her fast alongside his conning-tower. Being now quite invisible
from the eastward, he was able to proceed in that direction all day
without interruption. At night he released his stalking-horse and
returned westward.

[Illustration: ‘Made her fast alongside his conning-tower.’]

Early on the 23rd, he observed a Turkish torpedo-boat at anchor off
Constantinople and sank her with a torpedo; but as she sank she fired a
6-pounder gun, the first shot of which damaged his foremost periscope.
He came up for repairs, and all hands took the chance of a bathe.
Five hours later he stopped a small steamer, whose crew did a ‘panic
abandon ship,’ capsizing all boats but one. ‘An American gentleman
then appeared on the upper deck, who informed us that his name was
Silas Q. Swing of the _Chicago Sun_ and that he was pleased to make our
acquaintance.... He wasn’t sure if there were any stores on board.’
Lieut. D’Oyly Hughes looked into the matter and discovered a 6-inch gun
lashed across the top of the fore hatch, and other gun-mountings in the
hold, which was also crammed with 6-inch and other ammunition marked
Krupp. A demolition charge sent ship and cargo to the bottom.

Lieut.-Commander Nasmith then chased and torpedoed a heavily laden
store-ship, and drove another ashore, exchanging rifle fire with a
party of horsemen on the cliff above. Altogether the day was a lively
one, and the news, brought by Mr. Silas Q. Swing and his friends,
shook Constantinople up severely. Mr. Einstein records that ‘the
submarine came up at 20 minutes to 2 o’clock, about three hundred
yards from where the American guardship _Scorpion_ lay moored, and was
immediately fired at by the shore batteries. It shot off two torpedoes;
the first missed a transport by about fifty yards, the second struck
the _Stamboul_ fair, passing under a barge moored alongside, which
blew up. The _Stamboul_ had a gap of twenty feet on her water-line
but did not sink. She was promptly towed toward Beshiktash to lie on
the bottom in shallow water. The submarine meanwhile, under a perfect
hail of fire, which passed uncomfortably close to the _Scorpion_,
dived and got away, steering up the Bosphorus. At Galata there was a
panic, everyone closing their shops; the troops, who were already on
two transports, were promptly disembarked, but later re-embarked, and
still later landed once more. The total damage was inconsiderable, but
the moral effect was very real.’ On the following day he adds, ‘S.’
(Swing, no doubt--Silas Q. Swing of the _Chicago Sun_) ‘came in with an
exciting tale. On his way to the Dardanelles the steamer, which carried
munitions and a 6-inch gun, had been torpedoed by an English submarine,
the E. 11. They allowed the crew to leave, and then sank the ship. The
English officer told him there were eleven submarines in the Marmora,
and these are holding up all the ships going to the Dardanelles. They
had sunk three transports full of troops, out of four which had been
sunk, and various other vessels, but do not touch those carrying
wounded.’

So, between Lieut. D’Oyly Hughes and Mr. Silas Q. Swing, the E. 11
became eleven submarines, and may go down the ages like the eleven
thousand virgins of Cologne. Her commander evidently hoped to create
a panic, and Mr. Einstein leaves us no doubt that the plan succeeded
to the full. On May 27 he writes again: ‘The Marmora is practically
closed by English submarines. Everyone asks where their depot is, and
how they are refurnished.’ May 28: ‘The submarines in the Marmora have
frightened the Turks, and all the remaining transports, save one, lie
tranquilly in the Golden Horn. Otherwise I have never seen the port so
empty. One wonders where the submarines have their base, and when and
how it was prepared.’ He adds, with some shrewdness: ‘Probably, if at
all, in some island of the Marmora, though the newer boats can stay out
a long time.’ E. 11 was far from new, as we have seen, but she was in
hands that could make her stand for quality as well as quantity.

Lieut.-Commander Nasmith brought his boat safely back to Mudros on June
7. The last hour of his trip was perhaps the most breathless, for
while rushing down by Kilid Bahr he found his trim quite abnormal, and
‘observed a large mine preceding the periscope at a distance of about
twenty feet; which was apparently hung up by its moorings to the port
hydroplane.’ He could not come to the surface, as the shore batteries
were waiting for him; but when outside Kum Kale, he emptied his
after-tanks, got his nose down, and went full speed astern, dropping
the mine neatly to the bottom. This was good work, but not better than
the skill shown in navigating shoal water, or ‘the resource displayed
in the delicate operation of recovering two torpedoes’ without the
usual derrick to hoist them in--an operation which may as well remain
for the present undescribed. Admiral de Robeck, in recommending
Lieut.-Commander Nasmith for the V.C., speaks of his cruise as one
‘which will surely find a place in the annals of the British Navy.’ It
will--there can be no forgetting it. The very log of E. 11 deserves to
be a classic. ‘Having dived unobserved into Constantinople ...,’ says
her Commander soberly, and so, without a thought of it, adds one to the
historic despatches of the Service.

It was now E. 14’s turn again. Commander Courtney Boyle took her up
on June 10, against a very strong tide. At 9 o’clock next morning he
stopped a brigantine, whose crew abandoned ship ‘and then all stood up
and cursed us. It was too rough to go alongside her, so Acting-Lieut.
R. W. Lawrence, R.N.R., swam off to her, climbed aboard, and ... set
fire to her with the aid of her own matches and paraffin oil.’ On the
12th one of the Rickmers steamers was torpedoed. Shortly afterwards
there was a big explosion close to the submarine. ‘And I think,’ says
her commander, ‘I must have caught the moorings of a mine with my tail
as I was turning, and exploded it.... The whole boat was very badly
shaken.’ But _Lily Rickmers_ and her sister were now both removed from
the Turkish service, for E. 11 had evidently accounted for one of them
already. Mr. Einstein writes on June 13: ‘The German Embassy approached
us to cable Washington to protest about the torpedoing without warning
of the two Rickmers steamers in the Marmora. One of these was said to
be filled with wounded, but their note neglected to say that these
had been discharged from hospital and were on their way back to the
Dardanelles.’ Only a German diplomatist could speak of a ship carrying
troops to the front as ‘filled with wounded’; and Mr. Einstein adds,
‘One cannot but be struck by the German inability to understand our
position over the _Lusitania_.’ The point is plain, and goes deep. To
the modern German mind all such considerations are only a matter of
words, useful for argumentative purposes--that there should be any
truth of reality or feeling behind them is not imaginable.

The rest of this log is a record of destruction, but destruction on
thoroughly un-German methods. ‘June 20.--Boarded and sank 3 sailing
dhows ... towed the crew inshore and gave them some biscuit, beef, rum,
and water, as they were rather wet.’ ‘June 22.--Let go passenger ship.’
23.--‘Burnt two-master, and started to tow crew in their boat, but had
to dive. Stopped two dhows: they were both empty and the crews looked
so miserable that I only sunk one and let the other go.’ 24.--‘Blew up
2 large dhows: there was another one about a mile off with no boat ...
and thought I saw two heads in the water. Turned round and found that
there were 2 men in the water at least half a mile from their dhow.
Picked them up: they were quite exhausted: gave them food and drink,
and put them on board their ship. They had evidently seen the other two
dhows blown up and were frightened out of their wits.’ There is nothing
here to boast about--to us, nothing surprising. But it brings to mind
inevitably the evidence upon which our enemies stand convicted. We
remember the long roll of men and women not only set adrift in stormy
seas, but shot and drowned in their open boats without pity and without
cause. We admit the courage of the Hun, but we cannot admire it. It is
too near to animal ferocity, and stained with a cruelty and callousness
which are not even beast-like.

On June 21, Commander Boyle had rendezvoused with E. 12,
Lieut.-Commander K. M. Bruce. ‘I got her alongside, and we remained
tied up for 3 hours.’ From this time onward the reliefs were arranged
to overlap, so that there were nearly always two boats operating at
the same time in the Marmora. Lieut.-Commander Bruce came up on June
19, and found, like others, that the chief difficulty of forcing the
passage was the heating of the main motors on so long and strenuous a
run.

The one great day of his nine days’ patrol was June 25, when he brought
off a hand-to-hand fight on the surface with three enemy ships. At
10.45 in the morning he sighted, in the Gulf of Mudania, a small
two-decked passenger steamer. ‘She looked,’ he says, ‘rather like a
tram-car, and was towing two sailing-vessels. In the distance was a
sister of hers, towing three more.’ He chased, and soon stopped the
nearer steamer. He could see, as he steamed round her, that she was
carrying a lot of stores. She had no boat, and all the crew appeared to
be on deck in lifebelts. He could see no sign of guns, so he ran his
bow up alongside and sent his first-lieutenant, Tristram Fox, to board
her. But guns are not the only risk a submarine has to take on such
occasions. As the boarding party stepped on board the steamer, a Turk
heaved a bomb over the side. It hit E. 12 forward, but did not explode,
and no second one followed. The Turks, however, meant fighting, and
they opened fire with rifles and a small gun, concealed somewhere aft.
The situation was a very anxious one, especially for Lieutenant Fox
and his boarding party; for they knew their own ship must open fire in
return, and it was difficult to take cover on an enemy ship in action.
Lieut.-Commander Bruce was in a very tight corner, but he kept his head
and played his game without a mistake. He did not hesitate to open fire
with his 6-pounder, but he began upon the enemy’s stern, where the gun
was concealed, and having dealt with that he turned to her other end
and put ten shots into her from fore to aft. His men shot steadily,
though under gun and rifle fire at a range of only ten yards, and his
coxswain, Charles Case, who was with him in the conning-tower, passed
up the ammunition. Spare men, with rifles, kept the Turks’ heads down,
and all seemed to be going well, when the two sailing-ships in tow
began a new and very plucky move of their own. They came in to foul the
submarine’s propellers, and at the same time opened fire with rifles,
taking E. 12 in flank. But by this time the steamer was beaten, and the
British rifles soon silenced those in the sailing-ships. Then, as soon
as Lieut.-Commander Bruce had cleared the steamer, he sank the three
of them. The steamer had probably been carrying ammunition as well as
stores, for one of the shots from the 6-pounder touched off something
explosive in her forward part. In fifteen minutes she was at the bottom.

Lieut.-Commander Bruce was already thinking of the other steamer with
the three sailing-ships in tow. She was diligently making for the
shore, and he had to open fire at her at 2000 yards. As he closed, the
fire was returned, not only from the ship but from a gun on shore; but
by this time he had hit the enemy aft, and set her on fire forward. She
beached herself, and as the three sailing-ships had been slipped and
were also close under the shore, he had no choice but to leave them.
E. 12’s injuries were miraculously slight--her commander’s account of
them is slighter still. ‘I was very much hampered,’ he says, ‘in my
movements and took some minutes to get clear of the first steamer. But
only one man was hurt, by a splinter from the steamer.’ This was quite
in accordance with the old English rule of the gun-decks: to hit and
be missed there’s nothing like closing. The story of this fine little
scrimmage ends with the special recommendation by Lieut.-Commander
Bruce of his first-lieutenant, Tristram Fox, ‘who behaved exceedingly
well under very trying circumstances,’ and of his coxswain, Charles
Case, and three seamen--they all received the Distinguished Service
Medal. Of the commander himself we shall hear again presently.

E. 12 was recalled on June 28, leaving E. 14 still at work; and on
the 30th her place was taken by E. 7, Lieut.-Commander Cochrane. On
the way up, a torpedo from a tube on shore passed over him, and a
destroyer made two attempts to ram him, but he got safely through and
rendezvoused with E. 14 on the following evening. His misfortunes
began next day, when Lieut. Hallifax and an A.B. were badly burned
by an explosion in the hold of a captured steamer. Then dysentery
attacked the two remaining officers and the telegraphist. Work became
very arduous, but work was done notwithstanding. Ship after ship was
sunk--five steamers and sixteen sailing-ships in all. One of the
steamers was ‘a Mahsousie ship, the _Biga_,’ of about 3,000 tons. She
was lying alongside Mudania Pier, with sailing-vessels moored outside
the pier to protect her. But Lieut.-Commander Cochrane saw daylight
between this barrage and his prey; he dived under the sailing-ships,
and up went the _Biga_ with a very heavy explosion.

On July 17, he tried a new method of harassing the Turkish army. He
came up opposite Kara Burnu and opened fire on the railway cutting
west of it, blocking the line--then dived, and went on to Derinjie
Burnu. The shipyard there was closed, but he observed a heavy troop
train steaming west, towards the block he had so carefully established
just before. He followed up at full speed, and after twenty minutes of
anxious hope saw the train returning baffled. It eventually stopped
in a belt of trees at Yarandji Station; this made spotting difficult,
but E. 7’s gunnery was good enough. After twenty rounds the three
ammunition cars of the train were definitely blown up, and E. 7 could
move back to Kara Burnu, where she shelled another train and hit it
several times.

All this was very disturbing to the Turks, and they tried every means
to stop it at the source. They had already a net in the channel, but it
was quite ineffectual. ‘Now,’ says Mr. Einstein on July 15, ‘it turns
out that they have constructed a barrage of network to keep out the
submarines from the Dardanelles, and this explains the removal of the
buoys all along the Bosphorus. They need these, and especially their
chains, to keep it in place.’ A week later, Lieut.-Commander Cochrane
saw these buoys on his way down. They were in a long line, painted
alternately red and black, and stretching from a position a mile north
of Maitos village to a steamer moored in Nagara Liman. He dived under
them and went on his way; but later on, below Kilid Bahr, the boat
fouled a moorings forward and was completely hung up, swinging round,
head to tide. By admirable management she was got clear in half an
hour, and then the same thing happened again. ‘This time,’ says her
commander coolly, ‘I think the boat carried the obstruction with her
for some distance. I was expecting to see something foul when we came
to the surface, but everything was clear then.’ What he and his men
saw, during those two half-hours, might also be described as ‘something
foul.’

The cruise of E. 7 lasted for over three weeks, from June 30 to July
24. On July 21, Commander Courtney Boyle brought up E. 14 once more.
He, too, saw the new net near Nagara, ‘a line of what looked like
lighters half-way across, and one small steamship in the vicinity.’
But he passed through the gate in it without touching anything. This
was lucky, as he had already scraped against an obstruction off Kilid
Bahr and cut his guard wire nearly through. Once up, he got to work at
once, and in a busy and adventurous three weeks he sank one steamer,
one supply ship, seven dhows and thirteen sailing-vessels. In short, he
made himself master of the Marmora. The complete interruption of the
Turkish sea communications was proved by the statements of prisoners.
The captain of one ship stated that Constantinople was full of wounded
and short of food, and that the troops now all went to Rodosto by rail
and then marched to Gallipoli--six hours in the train and three days
and nights marching, instead of a short and simple voyage. All the
Turkish war-ships were above the second bridge in the Golden Horn,
and they never ventured out. There were no steamers going to sea--all
supplies to Gallipoli went in sailing craft, towed by destroyers under
cover of darkness. It is clear that, to the Turkish imagination, E. 14
was like E. 11--very much in the plural number. On August 5, E. 11
herself came on duty again, and the two boats met at rendezvous at 2
P.M. next day. Half an hour afterwards, Commanders Boyle and Nasmith
started on their first hunt in couples. Their quarry was a gunboat of
the Berki-Satvet class. The chase was a lively one, and it was E. 11,
in the end, who made the kill with a torpedo amidships. Then the two
boats came alongside again and their commanders concerted a plan for
shelling troops next day.

They took up their positions in the early morning hours, and waited
for the game to come past. Commander Nasmith had been given the better
stand of the two; at 11.30 A.M. he observed troops going towards
Gallipoli, rose to the surface and fired. Several of his shots dropped
well among them and they scattered. In less than an hour another column
approached along the same road. E. 11 had retired, so to speak, into
her butt; she now stepped up again, raised her gun, and made good
shooting as before. ‘The column took cover in open order.’

In the meantime Commander Boyle had been diving up and down all the
morning between Fort Victoria and a point four miles up the coast to
the east, about a mile from shore. Three times he came to the surface,
but each time the troops turned out to be bullocks. At 1.30 P.M. (when
he came up for the fourth time) more dust was coming down the road, and
this time it was the right kind of dust. As he opened fire he heard
E. 11 banging away. She had left the place where he had stationed her,
to the N.E. of Dohan Aslan Bank, and had come down to join him in his
billet. The two boats then conducted a joint action for the best part
of an hour. Commander Boyle got off forty rounds, of which about six
burst on the road among the troops, and one in a large building. But
the distance was almost beyond his 6-pounder’s reach. He had to put
the full range on the sights, and then aim at the top of the hill, so
that his fire was less accurate than that of Commander Nasmith with his
12-pounder. E. 11 had strewed the road with a large number of dead and
wounded, when guns on shore came into action and forced her to dive.
She came up again an hour and a half later and dispersed the troops
afresh, but once more had to dive for her life.

Next day, Commander Boyle ordered E. 11 to change billets with him,
and both boats had luck, Commander Boyle destroying a 5,000-ton supply
steamer with torpedo and gunfire, and Commander Nasmith bagging a
battle-ship. This last was the _Haireddin Barbarossa_. She was passing
about five miles N.E. of Gallipoli, escorted by a destroyer. E. 11
was skilfully brought into position on her starboard beam, and the
torpedo got home amidships. The _Barbarossa_ immediately took a list
to starboard, altered course towards the shore, and opened a heavy
fire on the submarine’s periscope. But she was mortally hit. Within
twenty minutes a large flash burst from her fore part, and she rolled
over and sank. To lose their last battleship, and so near home, was a
severe blow for the Turks, and they made every effort to conceal the
depressing details. Mr. Einstein, however, heard them and makes an
interesting entry. ‘The _Barbarossa_ was sunk in the Marmora and not in
the Dardanelles, as officially announced. She was convoying barges full
of munitions and also two transports, when she found herself surrounded
by six submarines.’ It is creditable to Commander Nasmith that he did
so well with only six of his E. 11 flotilla. Einstein continues: ‘The
transports were supposed to protect her, but the second torpedo proved
effective and she sank in seven minutes. One of the transports and a
gunboat were also sunk, the other ran aground. Of crews of 700, only
one-third were saved.’ And on August 15 he records further successes by
Commander Nasmith--a large collier, the _Ispahan_, sunk while unloading
in the port of Haidar Pasha, the submarine creeping up under the lee
of another boat; and two transports with supplies, the _Chios_ and the
_Samsoun_, sunk in the Marmora.

[Illustration: ‘She was mortally hit.’]

Commander Boyle returned to his base on August 12, with no further
difficulty than a brush against a mine and a rough-and-tumble encounter
with an electric wire obstruction, portions of which he carried away
tangled round his periscope and propellers. His boat had now done over
12,000 miles since leaving England and had never been out of running
order--a magnificent performance, reported by her commander to be
primarily due to the excellence of his chief engine-room artificer,
James Hollier Hague, who was accordingly promoted to warrant rank, as
from the date of the recommendation.

E. 14 was succeeded on August 13 by E. 2, Commander David Stocks, who
met Commander Nasmith at 2 P.M. next day, and handed over a fresh
supply of ammunition for E. 11. He also, no doubt, told him the story
of his voyage up. Off Nagara his boat had fouled an obstruction, and
through the conning-tower scuttles he could see that a 3½-inch wire
was wound with a half turn round his gun, a smaller wire round the
conning-tower itself, and another round the wireless standard aft. It
took him ten minutes’ plunging and backing to clear this and regain
control; and during those ten minutes, small explosions were heard
continuously. These were apparently from bombs thrown by guard boats;
but a series of loud explosions, a little later, were probably from
shells fired by a destroyer which was following up, and was still
overhead an hour afterwards.

The two boats parted again, taking separate beats, and spent a week
in sinking steamers, boarding hospital ships, and bombarding railway
stations. When they met again on the evening of August 21, Commander
Nasmith had a new kind of yarn to tell. His lieutenant, D’Oyly Hughes,
had volunteered to make an attack on the Ismid Railway, and a whole day
had been spent behind Kalolimno Island in constructing a raft capable
of carrying one man and a demolition charge of gun-cotton. Then the
raft had been tested by a bathing party, and the details of the plan
most carefully laid out.

The object was to destroy the viaduct if possible; but, in any case,
to blow up part of the line. The risk involved not only the devoted
adventurer himself, but the boat as well, for she could not, so long
as he had still a chance of returning, quit the neighbourhood or even
conceal herself by submerging. The approach was in itself an operation
of the greatest delicacy. Commander Nasmith took his boat slowly
towards the shore until her nose just grounded, only three yards from
the rocks. The cliffs on each side were high enough to prevent the
conning-tower being seen while in this position. At 2.10 A.M. Lieut.
D’Oyly Hughes dropped into the water and swam off, pushing the raft
with his bale of gun-cotton, and his clothes and accoutrements, towards
a spot some sixty yards on the port bow of the boat. His weapons were
an automatic service revolver and a sharpened bayonet. He also had an
electric torch and a whistle. At the point where he landed he found the
cliffs unscalable. So he relaunched his raft and swam along to a better
place. He reached the top after a stiff climb, approached the railway
line by a careful prowl of half an hour, and went along it for five or
six hundred yards, hugging his heavy and cumbersome charge. Voices then
brought him up short. He peered about and saw three men sitting by the
side of the line. After watching them for some time he decided that
they were not likely to move, and that he must make a wide detour in
order to inspect the viaduct. He laid down his gun-cotton, and crept
inland, making good progress except for falling into a small farmyard,
where the fowls, but luckily not the household, awoke and protested. At
last he got within three hundred yards of the viaduct. It was easy to
see, for there was a fire burning at the near end of it; but there was
also a stationary engine working, and a number of workmen moving about.
Evidently it would be impossible to bring up and lay his charge there.

He crept back therefore to his gun-cotton and looked about for a
convenient spot to blow up the line. The best place seemed to be a low
brick-work support over a small hollow. It was only 150 yards from the
three men sitting by the line; but there was no other spot where so
much damage could be done, and Lieut. D’Oyly Hughes was a volunteer,
prepared to take risks. He muffled the pistol for firing the fuse as
tightly as possible, with a piece of rag, and pulled off. On so still
a night it made a very loud noise. The three Turks heard it and he saw
them instantly stand up. The next moment they were running down the
line, with Lieutenant D’Oyly Hughes going his best in front of them.
But a chase of this kind was not what he wanted. His present object
was to find a quiet spot on the shore where he could take to the water
undisturbed, and he had no time to lose. He turned on his pursuers and
fired a couple of shots; the Turks were not hit, but they remembered
their own weapons and began firing too, which was just the relief
Lieut. Hughes needed.

He had already decided against trying to climb down by the way he had
come up; but after a considerable run eastward, he struck the shore
more conveniently about three-quarters of a mile from the small bay in
which E. 11 was lying. As he plunged into the water, he had the joy of
hearing the sound of a heavy explosion. His charge had hung fire for a
long time, but when it went it went well; fragments were hurled between
a quarter and half a mile, and fell into the sea near the boat. There
could be no doubt that the line was effectively cut; and he could now
give his whole attention to saving an officer to the Service.

This was the most desperate part of the affair. After swimming some
four hundred or five hundred yards out to sea, he blew a long blast
on his whistle; but the boat was behind the cliffs in her little bay
and failed to hear him. Day was breaking rapidly; the time of waiting
for him must, he knew, be limited. With a decision and coolness beyond
comment he swam ashore again and rested for a short time on the
rocks--then swam off once more, directly towards the boat. Before he
reached the bay, he had to discard in turn his pistol, his bayonet, and
his electric torch. At last he rounded the point and his whistle was
heard; but, at the same moment, shouts came from the cliffs overhead,
and rifle fire opened on the boat.

She immediately backed, and came slowly astern out of the bay, intent
only upon picking up Lieut. D’Oyly Hughes. But now came the most
extraordinary part of the whole adventure. In the early morning mist
the bow, the gun, and the conning-tower of the submarine appeared to
her distressed officer to be three small rowing-boats advancing towards
him, and rowing-boats could only mean enemies. He turned, swam ashore,
and tried to hide himself under the cliffs. But he did not lose his
head, and after climbing a few feet he looked back and realised his
mistake. He shouted and plunged in again. Forty yards from the rocks he
was at last picked up, nearly done, for he had run hard for his life
and swum a mile in his clothes. But he had done his work and E. 11 was
proud of him, as appears from the concluding sentence in her log: ‘5.5
A.M. Dived out of rifle fire, and proceeded out of the Gulf of Ismid.’

Commander Nasmith ended his cruise with a brilliant week’s work. On
August 22 he fought an action with three armed tugs, a dhow, and a
destroyer; succeeded most adroitly in evading the destroyer, sinking
the dhow and one of the tugs by gunfire, and capturing a number of
prisoners, among whom was a German bank manager with a quantity of
money for Chanak Bank. The prisoners willingly helped to discharge the
cargo of another captured ship--they were apparently much surprised
at being granted their lives. On the 25th, two large transports were
sunk with torpedoes; on the 28th, E. 11 and E. 2, in company, bombarded
the magazine and railway station at Mudania. On September 1, Commander
Nasmith had an hour’s deliberate shooting at the railway viaduct,
scoring a large number of hits; and on the 3rd he returned without
misadventure to his base.

Left to herself, E. 2 now found that she also possessed a heroic
lieutenant. Under the date September 7 there stands the brief record:
‘Lieutenant Lyon swam to and destroyed two dhows.’ The story, so
well begun, ends next day. At 2.15 A.M. this adventurer, like the
other, swam off with a raft and bag of gun-cotton. His object, like
the other’s, was to destroy a railway bridge. His friends watched
him until, at seventy yards’ distance, he faded into the dusk. From
that moment onwards no sound was ever heard from him. The night was
absolutely still, and noises on shore were distinctly audible; but
nothing like a signal ever came. It had been agreed that if any trouble
arose he should fire his Webley pistol, and the submarine should then
show a red light and open fire on the station, which was 300 yards
distant. For five hours she remained there waiting. An explosion was
heard, but nothing followed, and broad daylight found Commander Stocks
still waiting with desperate loyalty. At 7.15 he dived out to sea. An
hour later he came to the surface and cruised about the place, hoping
that Lyon had managed somehow to get into a boat or dhow. There were
several near the village, and he might be lying off in one. But no boat
drifted out, then or afterwards. Commander Stocks came again at dawn
next day--perhaps, as he said, to bombard the railway station, perhaps
for another reason. Six days later he dived for home, breaking right
through the Nagara net, by a new and daring method of his own.

It was now Lieut.-Commander Bruce’s turn again, and he passed all
records by patrolling the Marmora successfully in E. 12 for forty days.
He had two other boats in company during part of this time--E. 20
and H. 1--and with the latter’s help he carried out a very pretty
‘spread attack’ on a gunboat off Kalolimno, on October 17. The
intended manœuvre was for E. 12 to rise suddenly and drive the enemy
by gunfire over H. 1, who dived at the first gun. The first drive
failed, the second was beautifully managed; but, in the bad light of an
approaching squall, H. 1’s torpedo missed. In a third attempt the bird
was reported hit by several shells, but she escaped in the darkness.
Lieut.-Commander Bruce also did good shooting at a powder factory
near Constantinople; sank some shipping, and made some remarkable
experiments with a new method of signalling. But his greatest
experience was his return journey.

He had passed through the net, he thought, but suddenly observed that
he was towing a portion of it with him. The boat began to sink quickly,
bows down; the foremost hydroplane jammed. He immediately forced her
nose up, by blowing ballast tanks and driving her at full speed. But,
even in that position, she continued to sink till she reached 245 feet.
At that depth the pressure was tremendous. The conning-tower scuttles
burst in, and the conning-tower filled with water. The boat leaked
badly, and the fore compartment had to be closed off to prevent the
water getting into the battery, where it would have produced the fatal
fumes of chlorine gas.

For ten mortal minutes the commander wrestled with his boat. At last,
by putting three men on to the hydroplane with hand-gear, he forced
the planes to work and the boat rose. He just managed to check her
at twelve feet and got her down to fifty, but even at that depth six
patrol vessels could be heard firing at her--probably she was still
towing something which made a wake on the surface.

Blind, and almost unmanageable, E. 12 continued to plunge up and down,
making very little way beyond Nagara. The conning-tower and its compass
were out of action, but the commander conned his boat from the main
gyro compass, and when both diving gauges failed he used the gauge
by the periscope. The climax was reached when at eighty feet, just
to the south of Kilid Bahr, another obstruction was met and carried
away. But this was a stroke of luck, for when the commander, by a real
inspiration, put on full speed ahead and worked his helm, the new
entanglement slid along the side of the boat and carried away with it
the old one from Nagara. The boat rose steeply by the bow and broke
surface. Shore batteries and patrols opened fire, and a small shell
cracked the conning-tower; others hit the bridge, and two torpedoes
narrowly missed her astern. But she came safely through to Helles, and
reached her base after a cruise of over 2,000 miles.

H. 1 also put nearly 2,000 miles to her credit, though her cruise
lasted only thirty days, as against E. 12’s forty. Lieutenant Wilfred
Pirie, her commander, took a hand in Lieut.-Commander Bruce’s
signalling experiments and co-operated in several of his military
enterprises, as we have already seen. He also worked with E. 20 and was
the last to meet her. This was on October 31, the day before he dived
for home. After that, nothing more was heard of her till December 5,
when Commander Nasmith, who was once more in the Marmora with E. 11,
captured a Shirket steamer and obtained much information from the
captain, a French-speaking Turk. According to his statement, E. 20 had
been ambushed, and her officers and crew taken prisoners. He also gave
details of the German submarines based at Constantinople--he thought
there were ten of them, including three large ones. Before accepting
this, we shall do well to refer again to Mr. Einstein, who reports
four small boats coming from Pola, of which only three arrived; and
one larger one, U. 51, of which he tells an amusing story. U. 51 had
been at Constantinople, but during August she went out and did not
return; it was rumoured that she had gone home, or been sunk. Then
the Turks were electrified by news of the arrival of a new German
super-submarine, over two hundred feet long. All Constantinople crowded
to see her go out on August 30. ‘Departure from Golden Horn of a new
giant German submarine, the U. 54, over 200 feet long and with complete
wireless apparatus.’ Next day: ‘The U. 54 turns out to be our old
friend U. 51, with another number painted.’ On September 2 Mr. Einstein
adds sarcastically: ‘Report that U. 54 was badly damaged by a Turkish
battery at Silivri.... To mask this, they are spreading the rumour
that an English submarine ran aground, and will doubtless bring in the
German boat under a false number as though she were a captured prey.’
And two days later he was justified--‘U. 54 lies damaged in the Golden
Horn from the fire of a Turkish battery. The reported sinking of an
English boat is a downright lie.’

Commander Nasmith went down the Straits on December 23, after a record
cruise of forty-eight days. In that time he sank no less than forty-six
enemy ships, including a destroyer, the _Var Hissar_, and ten steamers.
A fortnight before he left, E. 2, Commander Stocks, came up, and did
good work in very bad weather, until she was recalled on January 2,
1916. The season was over, and she found, in passing down the Straits,
that the Turkish net had apparently been removed, either by the enemy
themselves, or perhaps by the wear and tear of British submarines
repeatedly charging it and carrying it away piecemeal.

So ended our Eastern submarine campaign--a campaign in which our boats
successfully achieved their military objects--in which, too, the skill
of our officers and men was only surpassed by their courage, and by
their chivalrous regard for the enemies whom they defeated.



CHAPTER X

THE U-BOAT BLOCKADE


Nothing in the history of the past four years has more clearly brought
out the difference between the civilised and the savage view of war,
than the record of the German U-boat campaign. All civilised men
are agreed, and have for centuries been agreed, about war. In their
view war may be unavoidable, in so far as all order and security are
ultimately dependent on force; but it is a lamentable necessity, and
when unnecessary--that is, when undertaken for any object whatever
except defence against aggression or tyranny--it is an abominable
thing, a violation of human nature. This view is not inconsistent
with the plain truth that the act of fighting is often pleasurable
in itself, and that, when fighting in a right spirit, men often
reach heights of nobility which they would never attain in peaceful
occupations.

The savage is in accord with this view on one point only. He has the
primitive joy of battle in him; but he cares nothing for right or
wrong, and his military power is exerted either wantonly, or with the
object of plunder and domination. So long as he gratifies his selfish
instincts, he does not care what happens to the rest of the human
race, or to human nature. Civilised men have for centuries laid down
rules of war, that human industry and human society might suffer only
such damage as could not be avoided in the exercise of armed force;
and above all, that human nature might not be corrupted by acts done
or suffered in brutal violation of it. These rules of chivalry were
not always kept, but by civilised nations they have never been broken
without shame and repentance. Savage races sometimes have a rudimentary
tradition of the kind--the less savage they. But, in general, they have
a brute courage and a brute ferocity, without mercy or law; and the
worst of all are those who, living in community with races of merciful
and law-abiding ideals, have themselves never been touched by the
spirit of chivalry, and have ended by making the repudiation of it into
a national religion of their own.

It has long been a recognised characteristic of the British stock, all
over the world, to regard a stout opponent with generous admiration,
even with a feeling of fellowship; and to deal kindly with him when
defeated. But this chivalry of feeling and conduct, now so widespread
among us, is a spiritual inheritance and derived, not from our Teutonic
ancestors, but from our conquest by French civilisation. It has never
been shared by the Germans, or shown in any of their wars. Froissart
remarked, five and a half centuries ago, on the difference between
the French and English knights, who played their limited game of war
with honour and courtesy, and the Germans, who had neither of those
qualities. A century later, it is recorded of Bayard--‘Le chevalier
sans peur et sans reproche’--that whenever he was serving in an army
with a German contingent, he was careful to stay in billets till
they had marched out, because of their habit of burning, when they
left, the houses where they had found hospitality. In the sixteenth
and seventeenth centuries their barbarity was unbounded; the Thirty
Years’ War was the lasting shame of Europe, and the Sack of Magdeburg
a final example of the triumph of the wild swine in man. In the
eighteenth century, Prussia produced a grotesque anticipation of Zulu
ideals, and called its chief Frederick the Great. In the Napoleonic
wars, the cruelty of his German allies disgusted the Iron Duke, who
had commanded many ruffians and seen some appalling days of horror.
In our own time, we have witnessed the brutal attacks on Denmark and
Austria, the treachery of the Ems telegram, and the development of
Bismarck’s blood-and-iron policy into the complete Machiavellism of
Wilhelm II and his confederates. It is not a new character, the German;
it is an old one, long inherited. _Nemo repente fit Tirpissimas._
If anyone doubts this, or wishes to doubt it, let him look through
the criminal statistics of the German Government for the ten years
preceding the War, and read the book of Professor Aschaffenburg, the
chief criminologist of Germany, published in 1913. He will there find
it stated and proved, that the most violent and abominable forms of
crime were then prevalent in Germany, to a degree beyond all our
experience--beyond all imagination of what was possible in a human
community--and that the honest and patriotic writer himself regarded
this ever-rising tide of savagery, among the younger generation, as ‘a
serious menace to the moral stability of Europe.’ It is against this
younger generation, with these old vices, that we have had to defend
ourselves; and now that we have beaten them, now that the time has come
when, if they had been clean fighters and fellow-men, every British
hand would have been ready for their grip, we can but hold back with
grave and temperate anger, and the recollection that we have first to
safeguard the new world from those who have desolated and defiled the
old.

Anger it must still be, however grave and temperate. Look at the
conduct of the War, and especially at the conduct of the submarine war,
as coolly and scientifically as you can, you will not find it possible
to separate the purely military from the moral aspect. Technically, the
Germans were making trial of a new weapon which it was difficult to
use effectively under the old rules. They quickly determined, not to
improve or adapt the weapon, but to abandon the rules. For this they
were rightly condemned by the only powerful neutral opinion remaining
in the world. But they not only broke the law, they broke it in German
fashion. Their lawlessness, if skilfully carried out with the natural
desire to avoid unnecessary suffering, might have been reduced to an
almost technical breach, involving little or no loss of life. But
they chose instead to exhibit to the world, present and to come, the
spectacle of a whole Service practising murder under deliberate orders;
and adding strokes of personal cruelty hitherto known only among
madmen or merciless barbarians. Finally--and this concerns our future
intercourse even more nearly--the German people at home, a nation
haughtily claiming pre-eminence in all virtue, moral and intellectual,
accepted every order of their ruling caste, and applauded every act of
their hordes in the battle, however abhorrent to sane human feeling. In
all this, we need make no accusations of our own; we have only to set
out the facts, and the words with which the German people and their
teachers received them and rejoiced in them.

It was towards the end of 1914 that the German Admiralty conceived the
idea of blockading the British Isles by means of a submarine fleet.
There were, as we have already seen, great difficulties in the way.
For the pursuit and capture of commerce, a submarine is not nearly so
well fitted as an ordinary cruiser; is not, in fact, well fitted at
all. To hold up and examine a ship on the surface is too dangerous a
venture for a frail boat with a very small crew; to put a prize crew on
board, and send the captured vessel into port, is generally impossible.
As an exception, and in case of extreme necessity, it has always been
recognised that a prize may be sunk, if the crew and passengers are
safely provided for; but this proviso, too, is almost impossible for a
submarine to fulfil. Besides these technical difficulties, there was
also the danger of offending neutral powers, especially if their ships
were to be sunk without evidence that they were carrying contraband.

Under the advice of Grand Admiral von Tirpitz, it was decided to defy
all these risks and difficulties. The question was asked by him, just
before Christmas 1914, ‘What would America say, if Germany should
declare a submarine war against all enemy trading vessels?’ and on
February 4, 1915, a formal proclamation followed from Berlin. This
announced that the waters round Great Britain and Ireland were held to
be a war-region, and that from February 18 ‘every enemy merchant-vessel
found in this region will be destroyed, without its always being
possible to warn the crews or passengers of the dangers threatening.’

No civilised Power had ever before threatened to murder non-combatants
in this fashion; but there was even worse to come--the seamen of
nations not at war at all were to take their chance of death with
the rest. ‘Neutral ships will also incur danger in the war-region,
where, in view of the misuse of neutral flags ordered by the British
Government, and incidents inevitable in sea warfare, attacks intended
for hostile ships may affect neutral ships also.’ No ‘misuse of neutral
flags’ has ever been ordered by our Government. The destruction of a
merchant-vessel or liner without warning or search, is not an incident
‘inevitable in sea warfare’; it is an incident always avoided in any
sea warfare except that waged by barbarians.

A fortnight later the sinkings began; and on March 9 three ships
were torpedoed, without warning, in one day. In the case of one of
these, the _Tangistan_, 37 men were killed or drowned out of the 38 on
board. On March 15 the stewardess and five men of the _Fingal_ were
drowned. And on the 27th the crew of the _Aguila_ were fired upon while
launching their boats; three were killed and several more wounded. On
the 28th, the Elder-Dempster liner, the _Falaba_, from Liverpool to
South Africa, was stopped and torpedoed in cold blood. As the crew and
passengers sank, the Germans looked on from the deck of the U-boat,
laughing and jeering at their struggling victims, of whom 111 perished.
‘The sinking of the _Falaba_,’ said the _New York Times_, ‘is perhaps
the most shocking crime of the War.’

It did not long remain unsurpassed. In April, the German Embassy at
Washington publicly advertised that vessels flying the flag of Great
Britain or her allies were liable to destruction, and that travellers
sailing in them would do so at their own risk. Intending travellers
smiled at this outrageous threat and went on booking their passages to
Europe. Even when those about to sail in the huge liner _Lusitania_
received anonymous telegrams, warning them that the ship would be sunk,
no one believed that the Government of a great Power could seriously
intend such a crime. Not a single berth was countermanded, and, on May
1, the _Lusitania_ sailed from New York, carrying, besides her crew of
651, no less than 1,255 passengers.

On the morning of Friday, May 7, she made her landfall on the Irish
coast. The sea was dangerously calm; but Captain Turner, wishing ‘to
reach the bar at Liverpool at a time when he could proceed up the
river without stopping to pick up a pilot,’ reduced speed to 18 knots,
holding on the ordinary course. At 2 P.M. the _Lusitania_ passed the
Old Head of Kinsale; at 2.15 she was torpedoed without warning, and
without a submarine having been sighted by anyone on board. Her main
steam-pipe was cut, and her engines could not be stopped; she listed
heavily to starboard, and while she was under way it was very difficult
to launch the boats. At 2.36 she went down, and of the 1,906 souls on
board, 1,134 went down with her, only 772 being saved in the boats
which got clear.

This was, for the German Government and the German Navy, an
unparalleled disgrace. The German nation had still the chance of
repudiating such a crime. But they knew no reason for repudiating it;
it was congenial to their long-established character, and differed only
in concentrated villainy from the countless murders and brutalities
which had troubled the criminologists before the War. The German
people adopted the crime as their own act, and celebrated it with
universal joy. ‘The news,’ said the well-known _Kölnische Zeitung_,
‘will be received by the German people with unanimous satisfaction,
since it proves to England and the whole world, that Germany is
quite in earnest in regard to her submarine warfare.’ The _Kölnische
Volkszeitung_, a prominent Roman Catholic and patriotic paper, was
even more delighted. ‘With joyful pride we contemplate this latest
deed of our Navy, and it will not be the last.’ The two words ‘joyful’
and ‘pride’ are here the mark of true savagery. Only savages could
be joyful over the horrible death of a thousand women, children, and
non-combatants; only savages could feel pride in the act, for it was in
no way a difficult or dangerous feat. But this half-witted wickedness
is clearly recognised in Germany as the national ideal. In the midst
of the general exultation, when medals were being struck, holidays
given to school children, and subscriptions got up for the ‘heroic’
crew of the U-boat, Pastor Baumgarten preached on the ‘Sermon on the
Mount,’ and gave his estimate of the German character in these words:
‘Whoever cannot prevail upon himself to approve, from the bottom of his
heart, the sinking of the _Lusitania_--whoever cannot conquer his sense
of the gigantic cruelty to countless perfectly innocent victims, and
give himself up to honest delight at this victorious exploit of German
defensive power--him we judge to be no true German.’

‘It will not be the last.’ The threat was soon made good. On August
9, of the same year, the White Star liner _Arabic_, one day out from
Liverpool, was 60 miles from the Irish coast when she sighted the ss.
_Dunsley_ in a sinking condition. She naturally steered towards her;
but as she approached, a submarine suddenly appeared from behind the
_Dunsley_ and torpedoed the _Arabic_ without a moment’s warning. Boats
were got out, but the ship sank in eight minutes and 30 lives were lost
out of 424.

In both these cases the Germans, feeling that their joy and pride were
not exciting the sympathy of neutral nations, afterwards tried to
justify themselves by asserting that our liners carried munitions of
war. This was obviously impossible in the case of the _Arabic_, which
was bound from England to America. With regard to the _Lusitania_, an
inquiry was held by Judge Julius Meyer of the Federal District Court
of New York, who found that the _Lusitania_ did not carry explosives,
and added: ‘The evidence presented has disposed, without question and
for all time, of any false claims brought forward to justify this
inexpressibly cowardly attack on an unarmed passenger steamer.’

The year closed with the torpedoing, again without warning, on December
30, of the P. and O. liner _Persia_, from London to Bombay. She sank in
five minutes, and out of a total of 501 on board, 335 were lost with
her. Four of her boats were picked up after having been thirty hours at
sea.

The year 1916 was a not less proud one for Germany; but it was
distinctly less joyful. The American people took a fundamentally
different view of war, especially of war at sea, and they began to
express the difference forcibly. The German Government, after months
of argument, was driven to make a show of withdrawing from the most
extreme position. They admitted, on February 9, 1916, that their method
was wrong where it involved danger to neutrals, and they offered to
pay a money compensation for their American victims. They also repeated
the pledge they had already given, and broken, that unarmed merchantmen
should not be sunk without warning, and unless the safety of the
passengers and crew could be assured; provided that the vessels did not
try to escape or resist. This again is a purely savage line of thought;
no civilised man could seriously claim that he was justified in killing
unarmed non-combatants or neutrals by the mere fact of their running
away from him. As for the ‘safety of passengers and crew,’ we shall see
presently how that was ‘assured.’

But it matters little how the pledge was worded; it was never intended
to be kept. Only six weeks after it was given, it was cruelly
broken once more. On March 24, 1916, the French passenger steamer
_Sussex_, carrying 270 women and children, and 110 other passengers,
from Folkestone to Dieppe, was torpedoed without warning as she was
approaching the French coast. Many were killed or severely injured by
the explosion, others were drowned in getting out the boats. There were
twenty-five Americans on board, and their indignation was intense; for
the ship was unarmed, and carried no munitions or war stores of any
kind. Nor, as President Wilson pointed out, did she follow the route of
the transports or munition ships. She was simply a well-known passenger
steamer, and eighty of her company on board were murdered in cold blood
by pirates.

The President went on to say that the German Government ‘has failed
to appreciate the seriousness of the situation which has arisen, not
only out of the attack on the _Sussex_ but out of the whole method
and character of submarine warfare as they appear in consequence
of the practice of indiscriminate destruction of merchantmen, by
commanders of German submarines. The United States Government,’ he
continued, ‘has adopted a very patient attitude, and at every stage
of this painful experience of tragedy upon tragedy, has striven to be
guided by well-considered regard for the extraordinary circumstances
of an unexampled war.... To its pain, it has become clear to it that
the standpoint which it adopted from the beginning is inevitably
right--namely, that the employment of submarines for the destruction
of enemy trade is of necessity completely irreconcilable with the
principles of humanity, with the long existing, undisputed rights of
neutrals, and with the sacred privileges of non-combatants.’

This note touches the real point, and settles it; until the submarine
is as powerfully armed and armoured, and manned with as large a crew
as a cruiser of the ordinary kind, it is not a ship which can be used
for the general purposes of blockade by any civilised nation. And it
may be added that, even if the Germans had possessed submarines of a
suitable kind, they could not have brought their prizes into port,
because our Fleet and not theirs had the control of the seas. As it
was, they pretended once more to submit, and gave nominal orders
that merchant-vessels ‘shall not be sunk without warning and without
saving human lives, unless these vessels attempt to escape or offer
resistance.’

It was not intended that this third promise should be kept; there were
other ways of evading the issue. The _Rappahannock_, a ship which
sailed with a crew of 37, from Halifax, on October 17, 1916, was never
heard of again, except in the wireless message by which the German
Admiralty reported her destruction. The plan of sinking without a
trace was first officially recommended by Count Luxburg, the German
diplomatic agent in the Argentine; but the German Professor Flamm, of
Charlottenburg, has also the honour of having proposed it in the paper
_Die Woche_. ‘The best would be if destroyed neutral ships disappeared
without leaving a trace, and with everything on board, because terror
would very quickly keep seamen and travellers away from the danger
zones, and thus save a number of lives.’ No doubt the _Rappahannock_
was ‘spurlos versenkt’; so was the _North Wales_, and so were many
others meant to be. The German method, in 1916, was to torpedo the
ship, and then shell the survivors in their open boats. This was done
in the cases of the _Kildare_ and the _Westminster_, both sunk in the
Mediterranean; but on neither occasion were the pirates successful in
killing the whole of the crew, and their crime was therefore known and
doubly execrated by the whole civilised world. None the less, they
continued the hideous practice, and in the following eight months fired
upon the helpless survivors of at least twelve ships, enumerated with
authentic details in a list published by the _Times_ on August 20, 1917.

On the whole, the year 1916 was a difficult one for the German people.
The objections of America to the practice of piracy were becoming
uncomfortably urgent; promises had to be made under compulsion, and the
‘joyful pride’ of the nation would have been much diminished if it had
not been reinforced by two successes of a new kind. On March 17, 1916,
the Russian hospital ship _Portugal_ was torpedoed off the Turkish
coast in the Black Sea. She carried no wounded, but had on board a
large crew and a staff of Red Cross nurses and orderlies. It was a
clear morning, the ship was flying the Red Cross flag, and had a Red
Cross conspicuously painted on every funnel; but she was deliberately
destroyed, with 85 of those on board, including 21 nurses and 24 other
members of the Red Cross staff. On November 21, a British hospital
ship, the _Britannic_, was sunk in the same way. She was a huge vessel,
and had on board 1,125 people, of whom 25 were doctors, 76 nurses, and
399 medical staff. The outrage was said by the Germans to be justified
by ‘the suspicion of the misuse of the hospital ship for purposes of
transport.’ This suspicion was wholly unfounded, and the submarine
commander had taken no steps to enquire into the truth.

In 1917 and 1918, the ‘proudest’ and most ‘joyful’ period in the short
history of the German Navy, there was no longer any need for the
humiliation of excuses. On January 31, 1917, Germany proclaimed her
intention of sinking at sight every ship found in the waters around
the British Isles and the coast of France, or in the Mediterranean
Sea. It was at the same time announced--quite falsely--that the German
Government had conclusive proof of the misuse of hospital ships for
the transport of munitions and troops, and that therefore the traffic
of hospital ships within certain areas ‘would no longer be tolerated.’
President Wilson dealt promptly with this infamous proclamation. On
February 3, he told Congress that he had severed diplomatic relations
between America and Germany; on April 6, he formally declared war.

The savages were now entirely free to take their own way, and they
took it. On the night of March 20, 1917, the hospital ship _Asturias_,
steaming with all navigating lights, and with all the proper Red
Cross signs brilliantly illuminated, was torpedoed and sunk without
warning. Of the medical staff on board, 14 were lost, including one
nurse, and of the ship’s company 29, including one stewardess. On March
30, the _Gloucester Castle_ was torpedoed without warning, but her
wounded were all got off in safety. On April 17, the _Donegal_ and the
_Lanfranc_ were both sunk while bringing wounded to British ports. In
the _Donegal_, 29 wounded were lost, and 12 of the crew. The _Lanfranc_
carried, besides 234 British wounded and a medical staff of 52, a batch
of wounded German prisoners to the number of 167, including officers.
‘The moment the torpedo struck the _Lanfranc_,’ wrote a British officer
on board, ‘the Prussians made a mad rush for the life-boats. One of
their officers came up to a boat close to which I was standing. I
shouted to him to go back, whereupon he stood and scowled, “You must
save _us_.” I told him to wait his turn. Other Prussians showed their
cowardice by dropping on their knees and imploring pity. Some cried
“Kamarad,” as they do on the battle-field. I allowed none of them to
pass me.... In these moments, while wounded Tommies lay in their cots
unaided, the Prussian moral dropped to zero. Our cowardly prisoners
made another crazy effort to get into a life-boat. They managed to
crowd into one--it toppled over. The Prussians were thrown into the
water, and they fought with each other in order to reach another
boat containing a number of gravely wounded British soldiers.... The
behaviour of our own lads I shall never forget!’--but there is no
need to tell that part of the story; it is old, centuries old, and is
repeated unfailingly whenever a British ship goes down.

In July 1917, a new type of ‘heroic deed’ was added to the ‘proud and
joyful’ list. At 8 P.M., on July 31, the _Belgian Prince_ was torpedoed
without warning; the crew escaped in three boats. The submarine then
ordered the boats to come alongside, took the master on board and sent
him below. ‘Then,’ says Mr. Thomas Bowman, chief engineer, ‘all the
crew and officers were ordered aboard, searched, and the life-belts
taken off most of the crew and thrown overboard. I may add, during this
time the Germans were very abusive towards the crew. After this the
German sailors got into the two life-boats, threw the oars, bailers,
and gratings overboard, took out the provisions and compasses, and then
damaged the life-boats with an axe. The small boat was left intact,
and five German sailors got into her and went towards the (sinking)
ship. When they boarded her, they signalled to the submarine with a
flash-lamp, and then the submarine cast the damaged life-boats adrift
and steamed away from the ship for about two miles, after which he
stopped. About 9 P.M. the submarine dived, and threw everybody in the
water without any means of saving themselves.’

Mr. Bowman swam till daylight, and was picked up by a chance
patrol-boat. The only other survivors were a man named Silessi, and an
American named Snell, who had succeeded in hiding a life-belt under his
overcoat.

The intention here was, of course, that the _Belgian Prince_ should be
‘spurlos versenkt’; and in other cases the same result was aimed at by
ramming and sinking the boats with the shipwrecked men in them. The
crews of the French steamers _Lyndiane_ and _Zumaya_ were destroyed
in this way in the summer of 1918; and on June 27 the case of the
_Llandovery Castle_ marked, perhaps, the highest pitch of German
‘pride.’ This hospital ship was torpedoed and sunk without warning,
though she was showing all her distinguishing lights. After she had
gone down, the pirate commander took his U-boat on a smashing-up cruise
among the survivors; and by hurling it hither and thither, he succeeded
in ramming and sinking all the boats and rafts except one, which
escaped. The survivors in this boat heard the sound of gunfire behind
them for some time; it can only be conjectured that the murderers were
finishing their work with shrapnel. The number of those cruelly done to
death in this massacre was 244.

The deeds here enumerated form a small but characteristic part of the
German submarine record. The total number of women, children, and
non-combatants, murdered in the course of the U-boat blockade, is
more than seventeen thousand. It has been a failure as a blockade;
nine million tons of British, and six million of allied and neutral
shipping have been sunk; but the U-boats have never, for a day, held
the control of the sea. The policy was a device of savages, and of a
nation of savages. There is no escape from this charge; for the policy
was approved and deliberately adopted, by the representatives of the
whole German people, with the exception only of the few despised and
detested Minority Socialists. In October 1918, Herr Haase testified in
the Reichstag: ‘Most of the Parties are now trying to get away from
the accentuated submarine war ... in reality all the Parties, except
the Socialist Minority, share the guilt. The first resolution in
favour of submarine war was drafted by all the leaders, including Herr
Scheidemann and Herr Ebert. The accentuation of submarine warfare was
a natural consequence. You Socialists are also guilty because, to the
very last, you gave the old _regime_ the credits for carrying on the
War.’

The Germans do not yet realise the crime they confess; they have
corrupted one of the oldest and noblest bonds in human life--the
brotherhood of ‘them that go down to the sea in ships, and have their
business in great waters.’ And this they have done because they are, by
nature, not seamen but savages.



CHAPTER XI

TRAWLERS, SMACKS, AND DRIFTERS


Our Destroyer Service is perhaps as efficient, and as dashing, as
anything ever seen in the way of organised human activity. It is long
established, and its very perfection seems almost to stand in the way
of our wonder at its achievement. The performance of our trawlers and
drifters, on the other hand, is the more astonishing because it was
an afterthought, the work of a service called into being--suddenly
created, as it were, out of nothing--to meet the need of a grave
moment which no imagination could well have provided against. When
the moment came, everyone knew what might be expected from our Navy.
It had not occurred to anyone that our fishermen might help to keep
the sea against an outbreak of piracy, not only with courage but with
marked success. Yet this they did; and of all the disappointments which
the War has brought our enemies this must have been one of the most
unexpected and unpleasant.

In reading the accounts which follow, it will be remarked that the
work to which our trawlers and drifters set themselves, with such
admirable readiness and courage, was not only new to them, but was
continually taking new and unforeseen forms, so that they have been
called upon to show quickness and adaptability, as well as the capacity
for training and discipline. The armament and methods of the submarine
of 1915 were different from those of the later and more dangerous
boats of 1917. The trawlers, too, were much less adequately armed and
equipped. Our men had at first to play a game in which there were no
certain rules, and no standard weapons. We can hardly over-praise the
officers of the R.N.R. who, in those critical days, took command of the
special-service trawlers and fought them with the native skill of the
Elizabethan sea-dogs. Nor can we admire too heartily the ready pluck
and patriotism with which the skippers, mates, deck-hands and boys of
our fishing-fleets turned their hands at a moment’s notice from nets to
depth-charges and twelve-pounders, and undertook the daily sweeping of
mines, in seas now doubly treacherous, and a hundred times more deadly.
There is a strange and almost pathetic sound, even in the names of the
little ships themselves--names bearing none of the splendour of history
or the prestige of war, but the humble and intimate memories of wives
and children, or the jesting pride of the homely seaport where they
lived in the time of peace.

The _Ina Williams_ (now His Majesty’s Trawler, _Ina Williams_) was
steaming towards the Irish coast at seven o’clock, one evening in early
summer, when she sighted a large submarine on her port beam, some
two-and-a-half miles away. The enemy had just come to the surface; for
there was no sign of him in that direction a few moments before, and
he had not yet got his masts or ventilators up. The _Ina Williams_
was armed, fortunately, with a 12-pounder gun, and commanded by
Sub-Lieutenant C. Nettleingham, R.N.R., who had already been commended
for good conduct, and after nine months’ hard work was not likely to
lose a fighting chance.

He headed straight for the U-boat. She might, of course, submerge
at any moment, leaving the pursuer helpless. But Mr. Nettleingham
calculated that she would disdain so small an enemy, and remain
upon the surface, relying upon her trained gunners and keeping her
superiority of speed, with her torpedoes in case of extreme necessity.
He was right in the main. The U-boat accepted battle by gunfire; but
a torpedo which missed the starboard quarter of the _Ina Williams_
by only 10 feet must have been fired at least as soon as the trawler
sighted her, and showed that the enemy was not disposed to underrate
even a British fishing-boat. Mr. Nettleingham had saved his ship by
the promptness with which he turned towards the submarine, and he now
opened fire, keeping helm to avoid any further torpedoes.

The fight was a triumph for English gunnery. The _Ina Williams_ had the
good fortune to have fallen in with a wildshot. All his five shells
were misses--some short, some on the trawler’s starboard side. The
gunner of the _Ina Williams_ had probably had no experience of firing
at a moving target, almost level with the water. The U-boat was going
10-12 knots, too, and that was faster than he expected. The result was
that his first three shots failed to get her; they fell astern, but
each one distinctly nearer than the last. The pirate commander did not
like the look of things; he called in his guns’ crews and prepared
to submerge. Too late. The British gunner’s fourth shot caught the
U-boat on the water-line, half-way between conning-tower and stern.
A fifth followed instantly, close abaft the conning-tower itself.
The wounded submarine was probably by this time out of hand, for she
continued to submerge. Just before she disappeared, the sixth shell
struck the conning-tower full at the water-line, and the fight was
over. It had lasted fifteen minutes, and the _Ina Williams_ was still
3,400 yards away when the enemy sank. She steamed straight on to the
position of the U-boat, and found that even after the ten minutes
which it took her to reach the spot, large bubbles of air were still
rising, and the sea was being more and more thickly covered with a
large lake of oil. The depth was fifty fathoms, and out of that depth,
while the _Ina Williams_ steamed round and round her buoy, she had the
satisfaction of seeing the dead brute’s life-blood welling up with
bursts of air-bubbles for nearly an hour, until the sea was thick for
five hundred yards, and tainted for a much further distance. The smell
of the stuff was peculiar, and new to the trawler’s crew; they could
not find the right word to describe it. But they were eager to scent it
again, and as often as possible, for it meant good work, good pay and a
good report.

This was a thoroughly professional bit of service, a single fight at
long range; but it was no smarter than the sharp double action fought
by His Majesty’s Armed Smacks _Boy Alfred_ and _I’ll Try_ against two
German submarines. The British boats were commanded by Skipper Walter
S. Wharton, R.N.R., and Skipper Thomas Crisp, R.N.R., and were out
in the North Sea when they sighted a pair of U-boats coming straight
towards them on the surface. The first of these came within 300 yards
of _Boy Alfred_ and stopped. Then followed an extraordinary piece of
work, only possible to a German pirate. The U-boat signalled with a
flag to _Boy Alfred_ to come nearer, and at the same time opened fire
upon her with a machine-gun or rifles, hitting her in many places,
though by mere chance not a single casualty resulted.

Skipper Wharton’s time had not yet come; he was not for a duel at long
range. He threw out his small boat, and by this submissive behaviour
encouraged the U-boat to come nearer, which she did by submerging and
popping up again within a hundred yards. A man then came out of the
conning-tower and hailed _Boy Alfred_, giving the order to abandon
ship as he intended to torpedo. But 100 yards was a very different
affair from 300. It was, in fact, a range Skipper Wharton thought quite
suitable. He gave the order ‘Open fire’ instead of ‘Abandon ship,’ and
his gunner did not fail him. The first round from the 12-pounder was
just short, and the second just over; but having straddled his target,
the good man put his third shot into the submarine’s hull, just before
the conning-tower, where it burst on contact. The fourth shot was
better still; it pierced the conning-tower and burst inside. The U-boat
sank like a stone, and the usual wide-spreading patch of oil marked her
grave.

In the meantime the second enemy submarine had gone to the east of
_I’ll Try_, who was herself east of _Boy Alfred_. He was a still more
cautious pirate than his companion, and remained submerged for some
time, cruising around _I’ll Try_ with only a periscope showing. Skipper
Crisp, having a motor fitted to his smack, was too handy for the
German, and kept altering course so as to bring the periscope ahead of
him, whenever it was visible. The enemy disappeared entirely no less
than six times, but at last summoned up courage to break surface. The
hesitation was fatal to him--he had given the smack time to make every
preparation. He appeared suddenly at last, only 200 yards off, on _I’ll
Try’s_ starboard bow; but his upper deck and big conning-tower were
no sooner clearly exposed than Skipper Crisp put his helm hard over,
brought the enemy on to his broadside and let fly with his 13-pounder
gun. At this moment a torpedo passed under the smack’s stern, missing
only by ten feet, then coming to the surface, and running along on the
top past _Boy Alfred_. It was the U-boat’s first and last effort. In
the same instant, _I’ll Try’s_ shell--the only one fired--struck the
base of the conning-tower and exploded, blowing pieces of the submarine
into the water on all sides.

The U-boat immediately took a list to starboard and plunged bows
first--she disappeared so rapidly that the gunner had not even time
for a second shot. _I’ll Try_ immediately hurried to the spot, and
there saw large bubbles of air coming up and a large and increasing
patch of oil. She marked the position with a Dan buoy, and stood by for
three-quarters of an hour with _Boy Alfred_. Finally, as the enemy gave
no sign of life, the two smacks returned together to harbour.

For this excellent piece of work the two skippers were suitably
rewarded. Skipper Wharton, who had already killed two U-boats and
had received the D.S.C. and the D.S.M. with a bar, was now given a
second bar to his D.S.C. Skipper Crisp already had the D.S.M., and
now received the D.S.C. But with regard to the gratuity given to the
whole crew of each boat for the destruction of an enemy submarine, a
distinction was made, _Boy Alfred_ being rewarded for a ‘certainty’
and _I’ll Try_ for a ‘probable’ only. This is interesting as showing
the scrupulous caution with which our anti-submarine returns have been
made up. The Germans have tried to persuade their public, at home and
abroad, that many of the U-boats claimed to have been destroyed by us
have, in fact, escaped, with more or less injury, and made their way
home to refit. The exact contrary is the case. No one, with any power
of judging the evidence, could examine our official reports without
coming to the conclusion that the number of our successes has been
greatly underestimated in the published records. The Admiralty have
no doubt felt that, where so much is at stake, it is better to run no
risk at all of misrepresenting the situation and its possibilities. If
certainties only are counted, and the campaign judged and conducted
accordingly, there will be no disillusionment for us, and the long
list of ‘probables’ will give us a margin, uncertain in quantity, but
absolutely sure to be on the right side of the account. This policy has
entirely justified itself. In the long record of the anti-submarine
work of these four years, only one complete disappointment has
occurred, only one dead U-boat has come to life again. On the other
hand, the first list of certainties published by the Admiralty--the
list of 150 pirate commanders put out of action--could not be disputed,
even by the authors of the German _communiqués_. It is not an estimate,
it is a statement, beyond suspicion or dispute; but to ensure this
result restraint was necessary, and the restraint was often regretted
by the authorities as much as by the British crews who felt themselves
stinted of their full reward. There was probably no member of the Board
who did not wish that more could be done for the gallant men of _I’ll
Try_; but her report, as here paraphrased, just fell short of the full
evidence required by the rules. She killed her bird; but she could not
_prove_ that he was not a runner.

[Illustration: ‘_I’ll Try’s_ shell struck the base of the
conning-tower.’]

The same year, in the second week of August, two other smacks
distinguished themselves in action. The first of these was the _G. and
E._, commanded by Lieutenant C. E. Hammond, R.N. She was sailing at
mid-day in company with the smack _Leader_, and about a mile to north
of her, when she saw a submarine break surface about three cables
beyond to the south-east. Lieutenant Hammond must have found it hard
to play a waiting game, but to go at once to the help of his consort
would have revealed that he was no unarmed fishing-boat. The pirate,
therefore, was able to board and blow up _Leader_ with a bomb, after
ordering her crew into their small boat. He then came on fearlessly,
closing, as he thought, another helpless victim. When within 200 yards
he fired a rifle, and _G. and E._’s crew encouraged him by getting out
a boat; but when he came to forty yards and slewed round, parallel
to the smack, Lieutenant Hammond hoisted the White Ensign and opened
fire. The U-boat appeared to be paralysed with astonishment. For a
whole minute she lay motionless, and that minute was just long enough
for _G. and E._’s gunner. He got off five shots in a tremendous hurry.
One was a miss, and two hit the rail of the smack; but one of these
went on, and penetrated the enemy very usefully in the lower part of
the conning-tower. The other two were clean hits in much the same
spot. Down went the enemy--not in the way a submarine would dive by
choice, but nose first, and with stern up at a very high angle. The
five men who had been on her deck and conning-tower, for the purpose
of enjoying a little shooting at British fishermen, got an entirely new
view of sport in these sixty seconds. One was killed with a rifle-shot
by a petty officer on the _G. and E._, three disappeared in the shell
bursts, and the fifth was seen still clinging to the conning-tower, as
the U-boat carried him down to death. The tide made all hope of rescue
vain--it was too strong even for a buoy to be put down to mark the spot.

Four days later, on the same ground, the smack _Inverlyon_, commanded
by Skipper Phillips, with an R. N. gunner, Ernest M. Jehan, sighted a
submarine at 8.20 P.M., steering right towards her in the twilight.
When the two boats were within less than thirty yards of each other,
the submarine was seen to be a U-boat flying the German ensign, with an
officer on deck hailing ‘Boat!’ Evidently he expected to be obeyed, for
he stopped dead and gave no sign of action. He had no gun mounted, and
appeared to be out of torpedoes.

Mr. Jehan might well have been taken by surprise by this sudden meeting
at close quarters in the dusk; but he was not. In an instant the White
Ensign was hoisted, and he himself was firing his revolver at the
officer steering the enemy boat. This was his pre-arranged signal for
his mates to open fire, and it was obeyed with deadly quickness and
precision. The gun was a mere pop-gun, a 3-pounder, but at the range it
was good enough. Of the first three rounds fired, the first and third
pierced the centre of the enemy’s conning-tower and burst inside, while
the second struck the after part of the same structure and carried it
away, ensign and all. The officer fell overboard on the starboard side.

The submarine was now out of hand. The tide brought her close round
_Inverlyon’s_ stern, within ten yards, and the gun was instantly slewed
on to her again. This time, six rounds of extra-rapid fire were got
off. The first hit the conning-tower, the second and fourth went over,
the third, fifth and sixth hulled the U-boat dead. She sank, with the
same ominous nose-dive, her stern standing up at an angle of 80°. The
swirl was violent, and in it three bodies were flung to the surface. A
shout was heard from one of them--a pirate, but a man in agony. Skipper
Phillips stripped, took a lifebuoy in his arms and leaped overboard.
He swam strongly, but vainly, in that rush of wild water and oil, and
at last had to be dragged home on his own buoy. The smack meantime was
drifting over the dead submarine, and brought up when her trawl got
fast upon it.

The trawl was even more useful in another action, where it actually
brought on the fight at close quarters and made victory possible. One
day in February, H.M. Trawler _Rosetta_, Skipper G. A. Novo, R.N.R.,
had gone out to fish, but she had on deck a 6-pounder gun concealed in
an ingenious manner which need not be described. She joined a small
fleet of four smacks and two steam trawlers some forty-five miles
out, and fished with them all night. Before dawn next morning a voice
was heard shouting out of the twilight. It came from one of the steam
trawlers: ‘Cut your gear away! there’s a submarine three-quarters of a
mile away; he’s sunk a smack and I have the crew on board.’

‘All right, thank you!’ said Skipper Novo--to get away from the pirate
was precisely what he did not wish to do. For some fifteen minutes he
went on towing his trawl, in hope of being attacked; but as nothing
happened, he thought he was too far away from the smacks, and began
to haul up his trawl. He was bringing his boat round before the wind,
and had all but the last twenty fathoms of the trawl in, when the
winch suddenly refused to heave any more, and the warp ran out again
about ten fathoms--a thing beyond all experience. ‘Hullo!’ said the
skipper, ‘there’s something funny.’ He jumped off the bridge and asked
the mate what was the reason of the winch running back. ‘I don’t know,
skipper--the stop-valve is opened out full.’ The skipper tried it
himself; then went to the engine-man and asked him if full steam was
on. ‘The steam’s all right.’ ‘Then reverse winch!’ said the skipper,
and went to give a hand himself, as was his custom in a difficulty. The
hauling went on this time, all but to the end.

Suddenly the mate gripped him by the arm--‘Skipper, a submarine on
board us!’--and there the enemy was, a bare hundred yards off on the
starboard quarter. ‘Hard a-starboard, and a tick ahead!’ shouted the
skipper, and rushed for the gun, with the crew following. The gun was
properly in charge of the mate, and he got to it first; but the brief
dialogue which followed robbed him of his glory. ‘Right, skipper!’ he
said, meaning thereby ‘This is my job.’ But in the same breath the
skipper said: ‘All right, Jack. I got him! You run on bridge and keep
him astern.’ The _Rosetta’s_ discipline was good--the mate went like a
man, and the skipper laid the gun.

He was justified by his success. The enemy was very quickly put out
of action, being apparently unable to cope with the whirlwind energy
of Skipper Novo. From the moment of breaking surface less than sixty
seconds had gone by, when the gun of the _Rosetta_ began speaking, and
spoke nothing but hard words directly to the point. The target was 250
feet long, and only 300 feet away. Every shot was a hit. The fourth
caused an explosion, and flames shot up four or five feet above the
submarine. Evidently she could no longer submerge, and she attempted to
make off upon the surface. But Skipper Novo was right in his estimate
of his own chance--he had ‘got him.’ His fifth, sixth, seventh and
eighth shots were all direct hits on the receding target, and at the
eighth the enemy sank outright.

_Rosetta_ then spoke the smack _Noel_, which had been close to her
during the action, and now confirmed all her observations. Skipper
Novo had no doubt that the U-boat had been the obstruction which was
tangled in his net. She had carried it all away, and to get clear had
been obliged to come to the surface without knowing where she might
find herself. As to her fate, there was no reasonable doubt. But
since neither debris nor survivors were seen, the case, with rigid
scrupulosity, was refused a place among the certainties. The enemy are
no better off for that.

The story of two trawlers, _Lark II_ and _Lysander III_, will show how
much difference luck may make in giving or withholding the evidence
necessary to prove a complete success. These two boats were included
in a small division patrolling off the Cornish coast, and hunted two
submarines with apparent success, one in March and one in April, but
obtained the maximum award on the first occasion only. The third ship
of the division was then the drifter _Speculation_, and the division
commander was Chief Skipper Donald McMillan, R.N.R. He was in a certain
position close inshore on March 10, listening with hydrophones for a
U-boat which was known to be on the prowl, when he sighted a steamer
about four miles away in the act of being blown up. He made for her
with all speed, but she sank in four minutes; twenty-one of her crew
of twenty-five were found still floating in one small boat and a raft.
The Chief Skipper ‘interrogated’ the poor men, and found that the ship
was a Spanish steamer, the _Christina_. Then he put them on board
_Speculation_, and ordered her to take them at once into St. Ives,
while _Lark_ and _Lysander_ carried out their hydrophone work as before.

When _Speculation_ had gone about 2½ miles on her way, the Chief
Skipper suddenly heard her fire a shot; and the same moment she changed
course and blew her siren. _Lark_ and _Lysander_ raced to join the
hunt with their utmost speed. They found _Speculation_ cruising round,
with depth-charges ready to drop. She had already dropped two, besides
firing her 3-pounder into the wake of the enemy’s periscope, and had
seen not only oil, but some wreckage, and a large object which rolled
over and disappeared again. The Chief Skipper ordered her to proceed
on her course to St. Ives, and then instructed _Lysander III_ to stand
by and drop her depth-charges on the chance of stirring up the wounded
U-boat. Within five minutes he sighted the wake of a submarine on his
own port bow, only 100 yards distant but going fast. He made a bee line
for the wake, thinking it possible he might ram her, and when just over
the disturbance on the water he dropped his first depth-charge. Then,
as the submarine was still making headway, he closed again and dropped
his second charge right over the wake. The enemy thereupon showed
oil and ceased to make headway; so _Lark_ and _Lysander_ alternately
bombed his supposed resting-place with no less than eight charges.
After nearly an hour of this, they stood by, listening on hydrophones
and watching the oil still rising. Then a destroyer arrived, asked
questions, heard the whole story and steamed away without comment. Two
hours later a motor-launch came by, and was good enough to examine
the spot and contribute one more depth-charge. Two hours more, and
_Speculation_ returned to spend the night with her division--all
listening keenly, but without result. Finally, next morning, two
sweepers, _John Kidd_ and _Castor II_, arrived and swept round about
the buoy which had been put down. The three boats of the division stood
by and watched anxiously; they felt sure that the sweep fouled some
object between 9 and 10 A.M., but at 11.15 they received the order to
resume their patrol and went reluctantly away, foreboding a verdict of
‘probably damaged.’

Twelve days later they had a joyful surprise. It had been decided
that as the depth of water, the season, and other circumstances
were all favourable, it was worth while to send a diver to explore
the spot. Accordingly, on March 25, an officer diver went down and
succeeded in finding and examining the submarine. She was lying on
her port beam-ends in twenty-four fathoms. Her conning-tower had been
practically blown off--evidently by a depth-charge which had made a
direct hit or something very near it. She had also a large fracture in
the hull, on the port side amidships. This was, of course, conclusive,
and the division received the maximum award. They were the more
jubilant, because they had been quite certain of their kill, and had
picked up what they considered first-rate evidence--not debris indeed,
nor survivors, but a lot of onions, which must have been brought there
by somebody. Also they had been told that their ‘obstruction’ was
the wreck of an Italian ship, torpedoed just about there only a few
days before. It was a consolation to have so annoying a suggestion
conclusively disproved.

The next action of _Lark II_ and _Lysander III_ fell short of this
final felicity. In April the division passed under the command of Chief
Skipper G. Birch, R.N.R., and the third place in it was filled by the
drifter _Livelihood_. They were patrolling one evening off Tintagel
Head, when a periscope was sighted by _Lark II_, about 500 yards away
on the starboard quarter, and going N.N.W. at the very slow speed of
two knots. It was noted as being very high, quite three feet out of
the water. The Chief Skipper came round immediately in order to bring
his guns to bear; but the periscope had disappeared before he could
accomplish this. He then hoisted the necessary signals for warning
the rest of the division, steamed towards the last position of the
submarine, lay to, and listened with the hydrophone. But at this moment
the periscope reappeared; it was now only one foot above the surface
and not more than twenty yards away, on the starboard beam. This was,
of course, too near for a torpedo, and _Lark II_ accordingly got her
chance.

The first shot from her 12-pounder was an extraordinarily happy one--it
hit the periscope and scattered it in splinters. The Chief Skipper lost
not a moment--he rang the telegraph for full speed, turned towards the
enemy, and as soon as he got way on the ship dropped a depth-charge
set for fifty feet. His miniature fleet was perfectly in hand, and
seconded him brilliantly. Drifter _Livelihood_ closed on his port
quarter, and dropped her depth-charge almost on the same spot; trawler
_Lysander III_ followed with another. The three boats continued to
play the game in combination; the leader dropping five depth-charges
in all and the others three each. All these exploded satisfactorily,
and one of the Chief Skipper’s produced a second heavy under-water
explosion, after which large quantities of dark oil and air bubbles
rose to the surface. The position was then buoyed, and the division
patrolled the area all night, using hydrophones at intervals. Next
morning a wireless message was sent to Penzance, and another trawler
took the watch as relief. Sweeping operations followed, but the bottom
was reported rocky and foul, and no satisfactory result was obtained.
Diving was not possible in such a place, and in the end the official
verdict was one of ‘Probably seriously damaged.’ For this the reward
was only half of what would have been given for a certainty; and, to
the gallant trawlers and drifters, that was probably the smallest part
of the disappointment. It is trying to end so exciting a chase with a
cry of ‘gone away,’ and especially so when you are positive that the
cry is a mistaken one. The evidence for a kill was very strong--the
enemy’s speed was slow, his periscope was blinded, he was liberally
depth-charged at close quarters--there was a violent double explosion
to be accounted for, and a good uprush of oil and bubbles. But the
line is strictly drawn, and this time the conclusive evidence was
unprocurable.

Among the many cases of fine team-work by these gallant little
fishing-boats two more must be given here--one as an example of the
deadly thoroughness and precision with which our trawler and drifter
divisions can do their hunting, and the other to show how keenly they
will fight against an enemy armed with vastly superior guns.

A division of four drifters--_Young Fred_, _Pilot Me_, _Light_, and
_Look Sharp_--under Lieutenant Thomas Kippins, R.N.R., was patrolling
one afternoon in April, when at 5.25 P.M. Skipper Andrew Walker,
R.N.R., sighted a periscope about 150 feet away on the starboard
quarter of his ship, _Pilot Me_. He immediately altered course to
starboard, and the submarine thereupon submerged entirely. Skipper
Walker passed over the spot where she was last seen and dropped a
depth-charge, altered course rapidly and dropped another, fired a red
rocket to warn the division, dropped a third and fourth depth-charge,
and hoisted the signal asking his commander to come north at full
speed. He then stopped his engines and listened on his hydrophone.
Hearing no sound, he made for _Young Fred_, who had altered course and
was now closing him. When the two boats were only 300 yards apart,
the submarine came to the surface right between them. She rose at an
angle of 45°, bows up, and hung so for about two minutes, during which
_Pilot Me_, _Light_, and _Look Sharp_ all opened fire, and the two
last claim to have hit her. At any rate she went down again, stern
first; but Lieutenant Kippins, who was steaming straight for her in
hope of ramming, was not disposed to take any chances. He took _Young
Fred_ exactly over her, dropped two depth-charges and passed on. The
explosion which followed was a very heavy one; the fountain of water
which rose was mast high and completely hid the drifter flagship from
her companions, who thought for a moment that she ‘had gone.’

The Chief Skipper was far from gone. The spray was hardly off his deck,
and the _Young Fred_ was still rocking, when he turned again and then
again, dropping two more depth-charges, and ordered _Pilot Me_ to put
down a Dan buoy to mark the position. This was done, but it was but
marking a grave. H.M.S. _Express_, who had received a wireless signal
and hurried to the spot, reports that she found the sea covered with
oil, which had extended in a long stream to the northward on the ebb
tide. Thick oil was still rising to the surface, and there were streaks
of dark brown colour, very noticeable, and distinct from oil. Even when
four miles to leeward, whilst approaching, the new comers had been
struck by a very strong smell of petrol, which naturally gave them
hopeful expectations.

The expectations were fulfilled; in fact the evidence brought on board
the _Express_ went almost beyond what was acceptable to a British
ship’s company who had not just been fighting for their lives. The
articles of wreckage which it is possible to mention included a
quantity of brand-new woodwork, with bright brass fittings, a large
portion of a white wooden bunk, bits of furniture and living-spaces, a
shot-hole plug, two black-painted gratings, a mattress and bedcover,
two seamen’s caps, with cap ribbons of the IV and V Untersee Boot
Flotille, and their owners’ names, a vest and two pairs of drawers;
also a red flag, a fit ensign for these lawless savages. For their
destruction, it is hardly necessary to say, the full reward was given.
Lieutenant Thomas Kippins and Skipper Andrew Walker also received the
D.S.C. and two of their men the D.S.M.

This was an execution rather than a fight; but our fishermen can
show their battles too, battles worthy of the sea-dogs who kept the
narrow seas against more worthy enemies. In the Downs, and in the
first twilight of a November morning, three of His Majesty’s armed
drifters--_Present Help_, _Paramount_ and _Majesty_--were beginning
their daily sweep, when Skipper Thomas Lane, R.N.R., of the _Present
Help_, which was spare ship at the moment, sighted an object one mile
distant to the eastward. As day was breaking, she was quickly marked
for a pirate submarine--a huge one, with two big guns mounted on deck,
one a four-inch and one a 22-pounder. Nevertheless _Present Help_,
_Paramount_ and _Majesty_ opened fire at once with their 6-pounders,
not standing off, but closing their enemy, and continuing to close her
under heavy fire until they were hitting her with their own light guns.
Even our history can hardly show a grander line of battle than those
three tiny ships bearing down upon their great antagonist; and if U. 48
did not fall to their fire, it is none the less true that her surrender
was due in the first place to their determined onset.

It was _Paramount_ who took and gave the first knocks. Her
searchlight was shot away, and she in reply succeeded in putting one
of the pirate’s guns out of action. In the meantime--and none too
soon--_Present Help_ had sent up the red rocket; it was seen by two
other armed drifters, _Acceptable_ and _Feasible_, who were less than
two miles off, and by H.M.S. _Gipsy_, who was four miles away. Skipper
Lee, of the _Acceptable_, immediately sang out ‘Action,’ and both boats
blazed away at 3,000 yards’ range, getting in at least one hit on
the enemy’s conning-tower. At the same moment came the sound of the
_Gipsy’s_ 12-pounder as she rushed in at full speed.

The U-boat started with an enormous, and apparently overwhelming,
advantage of gun power. She ought to have been a match, twice over,
for all six of our little ships. But she was on dangerous ground, and
the astounding resolution of the attack drove her off her course. In
ten minutes the drifters had actually pushed her ashore on the Goodwin
Sands--_Paramount_ had closed to thirty yards! Drake himself was
hardly nearer to the galleons. Then came _Gipsy_, equally resolute.
Her first two shots fell short; the third was doubtful, but after that
she got on, and the pirate’s bigger remaining gun was no match for her
12-pounder. After two hits with common pointed shell, she put in eight
out of nine lyddite, smashed the enemy’s last gun and set him on fire
forward. Thereupon the pirate crew surrendered and jumped overboard.

[Illustration: ‘The U-boat started with an enormous advantage of
gun-power.’]

It was now 7.20 and broad daylight. Lieutenant-Commander Frederick
Robinson, of the _Gipsy_, gave the signal to cease fire, and the five
drifters set to work to save their drowning enemies. _Paramount_, who
was nearest, got thirteen, _Feasible_ one, and _Acceptable_ two, of
whom one was badly wounded. The _Gipsy’s_ whaler was got away, and her
crew, under Lieutenant Gilbertson, R.N.R., tried for an hour to make
headway against the sea, but could not go further than half-a-mile,
the tide and weather being heavily against them. They brought back one
dead body, and one prisoner in a very exhausted condition; afterwards
they went off again and collected the prisoners from the other ships.
Then came the procession back to port--a quiet and unobtrusive return,
but as glorious as any that the Goodwins have ever seen. Full rewards
followed, and the due decorations for Skippers Thomas Lane, Edward Kemp
and Richard William Barker. But their greatest honour was already their
own--they had commanded, in victorious action, His Majesty’s Armed
Drifters, _Present Help_, _Paramount_ and _Majesty_.



CHAPTER XII

THE DESTROYERS


The war record of our destroyers is unsurpassed. We know that to the
Grand Fleet we owe, as to a vast and solid foundation, the unshaken
fabric of our sea power, and that in the day of battle it has always
proved itself incomparable. But we hardly, perhaps, realised that in
our destroyer force we have a second Grand Fleet, equal to the other
in spirit and seamanship, greater in numbers, and counting its days
of battle not by twos or by twenties, but by the thousand. The work
of the destroyers has been unceasing. Setting apart such service as
their whirlwind attacks at Jutland, they have done perhaps nine-tenths
of the hard work of the War, cruising and reconnoitring, convoying or
rescuing our ships, and hunting the pirate submarine. The strain has
been great, for they have been called upon incessantly to do the work
of twice their number; they have answered the call, not with a dogged
or defensive courage, but with unfailing readiness and dash. They have
shown themselves the true successors of the frigates and ships that
were the pride of our proudest days in the old time; their commanders
are the right heirs of the Brookes and Blackwoods, Parkers and Pellews.

In considering the Anti-Submarine work of the destroyers, it must be
remembered that hunting is not, generally speaking, their first object.
They are out, not for sport, but for ‘business as usual.’ They have a
large number of U-boats to their credit, but in most of these cases
the kill was incidental; it resulted from the perfection of skill and
smartness with which some professional duty was being performed, at the
moment when the opportunity occurred. A few typical examples will make
this clear.

In August 1917, an upward sweep of the Norwegian coast was being
carried out by a light squadron, consisting of three cruisers and six
destroyers, the whole under the orders of H.M.S. _Yarmouth_, Captain
Thomas D. Pratt, R.N., with Commander Geoffrey Corbett, R.N., as
Senior Officer of Destroyers. The light cruisers were in line abreast,
visibility distance apart--anything from five to ten miles--and each
was screened by two destroyers. The cruiser on the port wing was
_Birkenhead_, and the destroyer on her port bow was the _Oracle_, which
was therefore outside ship of the whole squadron.

Just before dark, Lieutenant-Commander A. Grendon Tippet, R.N.,
commanding _Oracle_, was informed that very strong German wireless from
two different sources was being intercepted; and as one of the sources
was evidently near by, he decided to keep all hands closed up to their
quarters throughout the night. Nothing, however, happened until broad
daylight, when, at about 6 A.M., Lieutenant Claude Butlin, officer of
the watch, sighted a vessel on the horizon. No one else on the bridge
could see it, but Mr. Butlin reported it, and his captain, who knew his
exceptional alertness and powers of vision, ordered him to continue the
look-out and report again. Shortly afterwards the vessel was sighted
by the midshipman and the signalman of the watch, and was pronounced to
be a trawler.

But a few minutes after this Mr. Butlin saw a bow and stern lift out
of the water, well to left and right of the vessel’s sail, and decided
that she was a submarine. He at once informed his commander, who
ordered full speed, course to be altered, and the proper signals to
be made. The sail then disappeared, and the submarine’s conning-tower
became clearly visible, at a distance of something under seven miles.

At 6.7 the U-boat dived. The alarm had evidently been given, and it
was not likely that she would be seen again on the surface; so at 6.10
Lieutenant-Commander Tippet slowed down. But at 6.13 the submarine
unexpectedly broke surface less than three miles away on the port bow;
her conning-tower, or part of it, could be seen moving fast through
the water in a cloud of spray. She submerged again in 10 seconds, and
_Oracle’s_ course was at once altered to cut her off. At 6.15 the
enemy reappeared once more. Her bows shot up out of the water at a
steep angle, about half a mile ahead. _Oracle’s_ course was instantly
altered one point to port, telegraphs were put to full speed, and the
forecastle gun was ordered to fire common shell at the conning-tower,
which was then the only object visible. The U-boat just then lifted her
stern out of water, showing a large vertical rudder on top of it, and
the gunner’s point of aim was shifted accordingly. Four rounds were
fired, but the target was a very difficult one and was not hit.

At 6.15 events happened and orders were given in very rapid succession.
The U-boat was apparently not inclined to dive and risk paravanes
or depth-charges. Lieutenant-Commander Tippet no sooner grasped this
than he changed his tactics, and determined to ram. It was, of course,
desirable to strike the enemy at right angles, and he endeavoured to
con his ship so as to secure this position. He gave the orders ‘Prepare
to ram’ and ‘Secure the depth-charge,’ and steadied the ship on a point
midway between the submarine’s conning-tower (the top of which was just
showing) and the stern, which was about four feet out of water. Then,
at 27 knots, he drove _Oracle_ straight at her.

The crash came with lightning speed. At 6.17 _Oracle_ cut into
the submarine’s back, exactly in the desired spot. It was, at the
moment, inclined downwards at an angle of 15°, with the top of the
conning-tower showing on the port side of the destroyer, and on the
starboard side about three feet of the freeboard at the stern. The
impact was heavy, and two officers on _Oracle’s_ deck, who had not
‘prepared to ram’ by taking a completely prone position, were flung
forward several feet. At the same moment an explosion was heard
astern. It leaped into the Commander’s mind that this was either a
paravane detonating, or his own depth-charge, which he had ordered to
be secured, with the object of avoiding any chance of a disaster from
the shock. It was, in fact, the depth-charge that exploded; but in the
right way, and not by shock. The order had been misreported to the
sub-lieutenant in charge of the after-quarters--as it reached him, it
was ‘Let go the depth-charge.’ This he did personally and with great
accuracy, a few seconds before ramming, so that when the explosion
came, _Oracle’s_ stern was well clear and no one was injured, except
possibly the enemy.

_Oracle_, having cut through the U-boat, drifted on for about 150
yards. The bows of the dying submarine appeared momentarily above
water, projecting some 3 feet at an angle of 45°. Then she sank,
stern first, in 137 fathoms. For half a minute the surface showed
a big bubbling brown disturbance, and in the oil patch appeared a
quantity of debris, mainly large pieces of unpainted cork, whose curved
shape suggested that they formed part of the lining of the hull.
_Oracle_ herself was not undamaged, as may be imagined; her bows were
smashed from the water-line downwards, and a considerable quantity
of naval stores were floating around her. She reported accordingly
by searchlight to the _Birkenhead_, who could just be discerned at a
distance of ten miles, and then returned to her base to refit.

For this fine piece of work Lieutenant-Commander Tippet received the
D.S.O., and Acting-Lieutenant Butlin the D.S.C. Nine of the crew were
also decorated or mentioned.

Here the destroyers were screening a line of war-ships, who formed in
themselves a fast and powerful force. The convoying of slow and unarmed
or lightly armed ships is a very different business, but it is done
every day by our destroyers with amazing efficiency and success. A good
example is the case of the _Racoon_, who destroyed an enemy submarine
in the Mediterranean while on escort duty.

In March 1917, the ss. _Osmanieh_, 4,440 tons gross, owned by the
Khedivial Mail Company, but chartered by the Admiralty, was on passage
from Malta to Madras when, at about 5.40 P.M., a hostile submarine
was sighted. The ship was commanded by Lieutenant Mason, R.N.R., and
was flying the White Ensign; she was zigzagging, and was escorted
by a single destroyer, the _Racoon_, Lieutenant-Commander Kenneth
F. Sworder, R.N. The weather was fine, the sea calm, and visibility
good--about eight or nine miles.

The submarine when sighted was about 1,500 yards distant, and two or
three points on the _Osmanieh’s_ starboard bow. Only six feet of her
length was visible, and she appeared to be drifting; puffs of blue-grey
vapour were coming from her, which seemed to hang in the air and float
away without disappearing. When nearer--at 800 to 1,000 yards--she was
seen to be moving, for a ‘feather’ was visible as well as the vapour.

The _Osmanieh’s_ head was put two points to starboard to steer for
the submarine; but as it changed position rapidly, helm was put hard
a-port, the whistle was blown to draw the escort’s attention, and the
alarm gong was sounded. The ship then opened fire with her two guns.
The second round from the after gun appeared to score a hit; but the
U-boat was at that time almost astern and shining brightly in the sun,
so that it was not possible to observe with certainty. _Racoon_, when
_Osmanieh_ opened fire, was ahead of her, on the port bow and going
16½ knots; but the moment the guns were heard, Lieutenant-Commander
Sworder increased speed to 23 knots, put his helm hard a-port, and
sighted the U-boat. It had at first ‘the appearance of a calcium light
giving off intermittent puffs of smoke’; but when the ship’s head was
turned towards it, a periscope and distinct feather were seen, as the
submarine came out of the trough of the swell.

The manœuvre which followed was a very skilful and effective one.
_Racoon_ came to meet _Osmanieh_, who had now turned sixteen points to
starboard and was on the other side of the submarine and overhauling
her. _Osmanieh_ continued firing till she saw her escort only 400 yards
from the target. She had intended to try a depth-charge herself, and
as soon as she passed the U-boat she had stopped her port propeller
for this purpose, hoping to get the ship’s stern back into or near
the enemy’s course; but she now gave this up and turned sharply away
to port. As she did so, _Racoon_ crossed her stern at full speed, and
immediately saw the submarine on her own starboard side, the periscope
just showing about five yards off and moving almost directly to meet
her. Those on the destroyer’s deck had a glimpse of about ten feet of a
grey hull with green and rust-coloured marks showing; then, as the ship
passed over this, she dropped her starboard depth-charge, set to eighty
feet, turned swiftly to port and dropped her port depth-charge, four
seconds after the first.

Eight or nine seconds passed while _Racoon_ swung round on her circle;
then came the two explosions in quick succession, throwing up columns
of water with bits of black debris in them. The ship continued to turn
to port, and completed nearly two circles round the spot, ready to
attack again. But nothing more was needed, and she may even be said to
have witnessed the dying breath of her enemy. Some twenty or thirty
seconds after the explosions, the men stationed in the after part of
the destroyer, looking over the stern, saw a fresh upheaval twenty-five
yards or more to the right of where the first columns of water had
risen. This ‘seemed to come from below as if being pumped up,’ and
it rose to about a foot above the level of the water, making a ripple
where the surface had been very calm. On examination, it proved to be
a fountain of dark and very thick brown oil. _Racoon_ and _Osmanieh_
proceeded accordingly, leaving that dark and evil-smelling blot of oil
upon the bright sea to give the ‘all clear’ to every passing ship.

Lieutenant-Commander Sworder received the D.S.O. on this occasion,
Lieutenant Berthon the D.S.C., and three men the D.S.M.

It may be noted that in neither of these two cases did the submarine
attempt to escape by submerging entirely. We can only guess at the
reasons. Possibly the U-boat which attacked _Osmanieh_ thought she
could win in a single fight against a lightly armed ship, and was too
much preoccupied to see _Racoon’s_ deadly onset until it was too late
to avoid it. But _Oracle’s_ enemy had certainty sufficient time to make
her choice between the ram and the depth-charge; and the fact that she
decided to keep near the surface is very suggestive. The combination
of the hydrophone and the depth-charge is a terrible one to contend
against. The submarine which dives is under the double disability
of being both blind and audible. The depths of the sea are no safe
hiding-place for the assassin flying from justice; given a sufficient
patrol, his undersea refuge is gone.

On the other hand, the surface is hardly better, when it is covered
by an adequate number of destroyers, manned by British seamen.
The vigilance and decision with which they mark and seize their
opportunities are well shown in the following case of the destruction
of a submarine in the dead of night.

Early in May 1917, three destroyers--_Miranda_, _Lance_ and
_Milne_--were patrolling a well-known area, where the enemy has once or
twice attempted runaway raids under cover of night. This was a likely
enough evening for him; for there was a moon only two days past the
full, and from time to time a drift of rainy cloud across it. To-night,
however, it was not with a flurry of destroyers that he came, but with
a creep of mine-layers--U.C.-boats stealing in across the black and
silver water to lay their deadly eggs close to our barrage.

[Illustration: ‘U.C.-boats stealing in across the black and silver
water.’]

One of these was sighted by _Lance_, and killed by her, in the belief
of the look-out who were watching from _Miranda_; but with that one we
have nothing to do. Another, U.C. 26, is our concern, and about her
we know all that there is to know. She was travelling on the surface
about an hour after midnight--she had finished laying her mines, and
was heading about east--when she suddenly sighted the dark form of an
English destroyer within a dangerously short distance of her. At the
same moment _Milne_--or rather the perfectly trained team of men who
were the eyes, the brain and the heart of her--sighted their enemy.
Lieutenant Leonard Pearson and leading signalman William Smith were
the first, and their Commanding Officer, Commander V. L. A. Campbell,
reports that it was only by reason of their exceptional vigilance that
the attack could be so timed as to achieve success. The submarine,
without losing a moment, dived--or rather attempted to dive. But
Commander Campbell was as quick as his look-out, and his helmsman
and engine-room watch were as quick as their Commander. A trace of
hesitation--an order not caught, or misheard, or obeyed with less than
absolute precision--and U.C. 26 would have been in hiding. But she was
hardly sighted and reported before the fatal orders were sharply and
clearly given. Commander Campbell’s voice had hardly reached his chief
petty officer, Frederick Robinson, before the helm had brought the ship
upon her altered course; and even as she turned Ernest Pike and John
Reason down below were repeating the call for full speed to the chief
engineer.

No greater tension can be imagined than that on board the two boats
during the few interminable seconds of the onset. This submarine, at
any rate, was not unconscious of her danger. She was wide awake, with
a possible margin of one second between safety and destruction. Her
deck was already awash; only her conning-tower was still clear above
the surface when the destroyer struck her just before it, and cut
clean through her hull. She took in water in an overwhelming rush,
and went straight to the bottom. Scarcely had she reached it when the
pressure of air, increasing as the water rose inside her, seemed to
give her unhappy crew a last forlorn chance of escape. The Captain was
in the engine-room, so that the exit by the conning-tower hatch, which
would have been his prerogative, was left to the second officer, who
succeeded in reaching the surface. Of the remaining 26 members of the
crew, 7 got the engine-room hatch open, and 5 at least escaped by it;
but only one of the whole number was picked up alive. He was a Dane
from Schleswig-Holstein, and had been pressed for submarine service.

For this smart piece of work, in every way characteristic of our
Destroyer Service, Commander V. L. A. Campbell received a bar to his
D.S.O. Lieutenant L. Pearson was awarded the D.S.C., and the other four
men already mentioned received the D.S.M.

The next case is also typical, being a patrol action; but it differs
from the last in that the success was due to combined work by three
destroyers, and not only by a single crew. There are also one or two
exceptional circumstances which distinguish it from other actions
of a similar kind--the presence of the Rear-Admiral commanding the
local force, and the additional evidence which eventually settled the
classification of the result.

It was on the morning of a day in March 1918 that a light-cruiser
squadron was cruising in the North Sea; and at 9.25 A.M. three
destroyers--_Thruster_, Commander A. D. Gibbs; _Retriever_, Commander
E. W. Taylor; and _Sturgeon_, Lieutenant-Commander Henry Coombs--were
ordered to take up a screening position ahead of the force. As they
were in the act of moving to their stations an object was sighted, two
points on _Sturgeon’s_ port bow, and about one mile distant. A moment
afterwards it was recognised as the conning-tower of a submarine.
In order to understand what followed, it is necessary to have the
positions clearly before the mind’s eye. _Thruster_ and _Retriever_
were immediately ahead of the squadron, to starboard and port
respectively, and _Sturgeon_ was ahead of the flotilla, in the act of
crossing from starboard to port. She had just passed _Thruster_ and was
on her port bow, going towards a point ahead of _Retriever_, when she
sighted the submarine on her own port bow and therefore almost enclosed
in the triangle formed by the three destroyers. The U-boat dived
immediately, and _Sturgeon_ fired as she did so, but without effect--a
late shot at a disappearing target. Lieutenant-Commander Coombs at once
increased to full speed, and altered course to pass over the position.
He arrived accurately, and in time to sight the track of the submarine
as she tried to bolt through the only opening left to her, between
her pursuer and the advancing _Retriever_. Her under-water speed was
quite unequal to this effort, and in a moment _Sturgeon_ was passing
along her track and overhauling her. Another moment and the destroyer’s
depth-charges, set to forty feet only, were dropped--one on either side
of the track and a little ahead of it.

_Sturgeon_ put her helm over in the usual way to avoid the explosion
area, but turned again on hearing the detonations and had the
satisfaction of seeing the U-boat shortly afterwards break surface
with her bows up at an ominously high angle. She was by this time near
closing _Retriever_, but Lieutenant-Commander Coombs considered her as
still his hare. He turned again and raced for her like a greyhound.
She tried to submerge, but could not get down quickly enough. Every
one of the three destroyers could have rammed her, for as they came up
to her in succession they could all see some thirty feet of her bows,
with hydrophones and net-cutters, lying almost under them. But there
was no need to take the risks of a concussion--this was a plain case
for more depth-charges. _Sturgeon_, as she passed over a second time,
dropped the remainder of hers. Then came _Retriever_ an instant later,
with two more; and she also dropped a Dan buoy, to mark the exact spot
for _Thruster_, who was coming across from a greater distance. By the
time _Thruster_ arrived, she found the U-boat entirely submerged, but
she methodically added her two depth-charges and both of them exploded
within five yards of _Retriever’s_ buoy, and probably not more from the
submarine, which they followed down to eighty feet.

So far, no one had thought of doubting the success of this very well
executed triple attack; and indeed the evidence was both strong and
plentiful. The U-boat was clearly seen to have been damaged by the
_Sturgeon’s_ first two charges, for she reappeared almost at once
and at an unmistakable angle. The six other charges dropped over her
were none of them blind shots--_Sturgeon_ and _Retriever_ both saw
their target plainly, and _Thruster_ had the Dan buoy to guide her.
The Rear-Admiral, in reporting the case, added that he was himself
a witness of the attack and was of opinion that the submarine was
destroyed. As corroborative evidence, he named the following articles,
which were picked up near the spot: 1 wooden ladder, 1 red _kisbie_
lifebuoy, 1 calcium float, and 1 steel buoy with fractured wire pendant
attached. The lifebuoy and calcium float were not of British make, and
the former was marked with letters and numbers not used in our Service.
Finally, the area round the Dan buoy was thick with oil, which came
gradually up during the two hours succeeding the chase.

Notwithstanding this evidence, and the opinion of so many competent
witnesses, the Admiralty rule held good. There were no survivors or
dead bodies, no debris which might not have come from the submarine’s
deck, no certainty that she could not have righted herself and crawled
home to the repairing yard. The report was marked ‘Probably sunk,’
and a letter of appreciation was directed to be forwarded to each
of the three commanders, with an intimation that if any subsequent
information should be received which would cause any revision of the
classification, the case should be resubmitted. Less than seven weeks
afterwards the ‘subsequent information’ was forthcoming and thereupon
Lieutenant-Commander Coombs was awarded the D.S.O., and ‘Mentions’ were
given to Commanders Taylor and Gibbs, as well as to two ratings from
_Sturgeon_, and one rating each from _Retriever_ and _Thruster_. So
ends the plain story of what is, to the Destroyer Service, a day’s work
in the ordinary routine. But any other Service in the world will tell
you that there is nothing ordinary about it.



CHAPTER XIII

P-BOATS AND AUXILIARY PATROL


The trawler is a fishing-boat by birth, and a mine-sweeper by
necessity; the destroyer is first of all a fighting ship, and a
protector of the weak. They will both kill a submarine when it comes
their way; but we have ships--classes of ships--whose whole profession
and occupation it is to hunt the pirate. Their methods differ as the
methods of two kinds of hound. The Q-boat hunts slowly and craftily,
the P-boat and the Yacht Patrol by speed, the ram, and the dreaded
depth-charge. It is unnecessary to give the technical description of
either class. A yacht is a yacht, and for a P-boat you may imagine
a long slim boat, with fine lines and a rather low freeboard, three
officers, a surgeon, and some fifty-five men--depth-charges round the
stern and a gun or two, but no torpedoes.

In September 1917, H.M.S. P. 61 received orders to pick up in a certain
roadstead the oiler _San Zeferino_ and escort her to her destination.
It was no easy job; the _San Zeferino’s_ steering gear was defective,
she could not zigzag; and in the misty showers and very dark weather
prevailing, her course was embarrassingly original. But she was a
valuable ship, and P. 61 meant to get her in if it could be done.

The sea was moderate, but visibility was no more than three-quarters
of a mile. P. 61 kept on the convoy’s starboard bow and only about
two cables ahead, zigzagging at seventeen knots. At three minutes to
six in the morning, the oiler was suddenly observed to be settling
by the stern. Lieut.-Commander Frank Arthur Worsley, R.N.R., on the
bridge of P. 61, had heard no sound of explosion, and no one in the
ship had sighted a submarine. The Commander knew, however, that in the
thick mist and with a head wind and wash against him, this was natural
enough. He immediately circled twice round the convoy, signalling to
her: ‘Have you been torpedoed?’ With some difficulty she replied ‘Yes,’
and also that she had sighted the submarine.

Lieut.-Commander Worsley ascertained that the _San Zeferino_ had her
boats swung out and was in no immediate danger. He then reduced speed,
in order not to betray his presence to the enemy, and started off
north-west on the chase. Inevitably he soon lost sight of the oiler in
the fog, and was obliged to turn in order to regain touch. He found the
convoy still heading on her course, though her engines were wrecked;
crossed her bows, and passed down her port side and under her stern.
Directly P. 61 was clear, Lieutenant J. R. Stenhouse, R.N.R., on her
bridge, sighted the enemy about half a mile away on the starboard beam,
heading westward at nine knots.

Action stations had already been sounded, and fire was now opened from
the port 12-pounder gun. One round of common shell was sent into the
submarine, striking her just before the conning-tower. But a gun action
was not the final object of P. 61. Lieut.-Commander Worsley had got his
engines up to full speed as he came on, and saw that the enemy could
not escape his ram. So sure was he that, after three minutes’ run, he
deliberately stopped both engines, so as to let the ship’s bows drop
deeper in the water and make a better hit.

The engines stopped, the bows sank two feet, the order ‘Stand by to
ram’ was heard, and P. 61 struck the enemy stem on, on the port side,
just abaft the conning-tower. Her speed at the moment was fully 20
knots, and the impact was severe; the submarine rolled over as the
stem cut into her; and when P. 61’s stern was just above her, a very
violent explosion took place, giving Lieut.-Commander Worsley, for an
instant, the nightmare that he had been torpedoed by another U-boat in
the moment of victory. He was quickly reassured. P. 61 had suffered no
damage. But round the place of collision the sea was boiling with foam;
immense air-bubbles were coming to the surface in rushes, and continued
for some minutes after the explosion. There was oil upon the surface,
and in it two men struggling. Lifebelts were thrown to them, and boats
put out. One of the two was rescued and proved to be Ober-Leutnant
Alfred Arnold, the commanding officer of the U-boat--the fifth upon
the list of 150 published by the British Admiralty. The submarine
was U.C. 49 and lies at the bottom in forty-seven fathoms. The _San
Zeferino_ was taken in tow by P.61 and came safely in after an arduous
twelve hours--an admirable piece of work. Lieutenant-Commander Worsley
received the D.S.O., Lieutenant Stenhouse the D.S.C., and two petty
officers the D.S.M. for excellent steering and gun-laying.

On this occasion the P-boat had left her patrol duty for the moment,
to act as escort. This was not the case with P. 57, who had a similar
success in November of the same year. In the dark of early morning,
about 6 o’clock, she had just challenged and examined by searchlight
a vessel which turned out to be a friend, when the forward look-out
reported ‘Buoy on the port bow!’ Course was altered to examine this
buoy, and on approaching it both Lieut.-Commander H. C. Birnie, R.N.R.,
in command of P. 57, and Lieutenant Isdale, R.N.R., his officer of the
watch, simultaneously perceived it to be a large U-boat heading due
west and only 200 yards distant.

There was less than no time to be lost. Orders were given and obeyed
instantaneously. The engines leaped to full speed as the ship came
round sharply to port and steered straight for the enemy. In less than
fifteen seconds the crash came--a heavy impact, at seventeen knots, on
a point just before the U-boat’s conning-tower, very nearly at right
angles. P. 57 cut her way right through, and as she did so the order
for the depth-charges reached the officer of the watch. The first
charge was released with great promptitude and precision as the damaged
submarine passed under the ship’s stern. P. 57 turned sixteen points
and came back over the spot, when a second charge was immediately
dropped and a buoy put down.

An hour and a half afterwards Lieut.-Commander Birnie returned, after
verifying his position, and found very large quantities of oil rising
about fifty yards from his buoy. He dropped a third depth-charge and
another buoy, and patrolled the neighbourhood all night. Sweepers
arrived next day, located the U-boat with a bottom sweep in thirty
fathoms, lowered a depth-charge on the sweep wire and blew the wreck
up. For this ‘speedy and faultless attack’ Lieut.-Commander Birnie
received the D.S.O., Lieutenant Isdale the D.S.C., and two A.B.’s the
D.S.M.

This feat was a remarkable one, for it was performed in almost total
darkness; but success was achieved in even more difficult circumstances
by P. 51 towards the end of March 1918. It was 8.30 in the evening; the
sea was calm under the moonlight, but great spaces of it were darkened
by cloud shadows. The commander, Lieutenant William Murray, R.N.R., was
in the chart-house, and Mr. Whittel, the gunner, on watch, when the
signalman on the bridge reported a submarine on the surface, about one
point before the port beam and less than 300 yards away. Orders were at
once given to increase to full speed, and starboard the helm to ram.
As the ship swung, the commander reached the bridge and took charge.
He could see the enemy’s wash and bow wave. Then she appeared more
distinctly as a large U-boat, 350 feet long, with a huge conning-tower
and about two feet of freeboard showing. P. 51 continued to swing into
the desired position and the moment for a successful ram seemed to have
arrived. Then occurred one of those sudden and unforeseen accidents
which try a commander’s presence of mind and decision to the utmost.
To strike the U-boat fair it was, of course, necessary to put the helm
over as soon as P. 51’s head had swung far enough to be pointing for
her, and so steady the ship on her course. But this order could not be
obeyed--the helm had jammed. Lieutenant Murray knew that to struggle
with it could only at best result in a bungling collision which would
injure his own ship rather than the enemy. He made a lightning act of
renunciation, kept his helm a-starboard and swung completely round,
passing close along the submarine’s side and then turning altogether
away from her. The helm was soon afterwards found to be acting again;
but in the meantime P. 51 had lost sight of the enemy.

She dashed westwards, and in two minutes sighted the U-boat again, a
mile away on the port quarter. A new ramming attack was immediately
planned, and the guns were ordered to open fire; but the submarine
dived completely before they could pick her up in the uncertain light.
In ten seconds Lieutenant Murray had brought P. 51 over a patch of
oil which betrayed the spot where the U-boat was submerging. Three
depth-charges followed her down. The first two produced the usual
upheaval of water, but the third blew a quantity of wreckage into the
air, of many shapes and sizes. P. 51 continued to circle around, and
ten minutes later three shocks were felt below in rapid succession.
Nothing more was seen, nor could any movement be heard on the
hydrophone.

The official verdict was one of ‘Probably sunk,’ the evidence being
considered good but inconclusive. It was, however, afterwards
supplemented by final proof, and the case was re-marked ‘Known.’
Lieutenant Murray accordingly received the D.S.C. and two of his men
the D.S.M.

Very little information has been given to the public about the Yacht
Patrol; but it is certain that, when all is known, the history of this
service will be eagerly read. There is a fine Elizabethan air about
the gift of a ship to the Navy by a private owner, and we can imagine
how keenly the giver would follow the career of his own boat, longing
to command her himself, and glorying to catch her name now and then
through the gales and rumours and gunfire of the seas, where she is at
last flying the white ensign. Such a gift was the _Prize_, who with the
heroic Sanders, her Commander, lies fathoms deep, and still unknown to
many; but in time to come she will be remembered with _Farnborough_,
_Pargust_ and _Dunraven_, and her owner’s name will stand in a unique
and honourable list.

Among the victories of the Yacht Patrol, one of the most timely
and decisive was that of May 26, 1918. H.M. Yacht 024, _Lorna_,
Lieutenant C. L. Tottenham, R.N.R., was on patrol that day in Lyme Bay,
intercepting east-bound traffic, and keeping an eye at the same time
on the activities of a U-boat off Portland Bill, whom she intended to
deal with when opportunity should offer. Soon after 8.0 in the evening,
she spoke two ships in succession, the _Jabiru_ and _War Cross_, and
ordered them both into Weymouth Bay, warning them at the same time
of the enemy submarine. At 8.50 P.M. a lamentable signal came back
by wireless--‘S.O.S., S.S.S.S., 2 miles S.W. of Portland Bill, ss.
_Jabiru_, torpedoed.’

_Lorna_ immediately proceeded at full speed, to look for the sinking
ship and give what assistance might be possible. But, at 9.14 P.M., she
intercepted the reassuring message--‘Proceeding to port, torpedo missed
fire.’ Lieutenant Tottenham at the same moment saw that _War Cross_,
which had parted only twenty-five minutes before, had now turned and
was steering westward, having evidently also received the S.O.S. signal
from _Jabiru_. He altered course and spoke her accordingly, advising
her captain to lay the land, and endeavour to round the Bill inside the
U-boat’s operating radius. He also offered to go with him as escort,
but _War Cross_ pluckily declined, thinking he could do better by
waiting for darkness and running in by himself.

Lieutenant Tottenham left him and searched the horizon for another
smoke streamer. His game was to meet every ship which came that way and
by closing them one after another, in the falling dusk, to ensure being
within striking distance when the U-boat should make the next attempt
at assassination. The only success which could satisfy him would be
the destruction of the enemy before he had had time to strike the
‘live bait’--an ambition which showed great nerve, and a grasp of the
principle of the offensive in war. It would have been easy to make all
merchantmen give the Bill a wide berth, and perhaps save the next ten
of them thereby; but the pest would be active again to-morrow, in the
same place or another--destruction, at all risks, is the only cure for
U-boats.

Before long another ship was seen approaching from the south, and
_Lorna_ at once headed towards her. But after steaming for about three
and a half miles on this errand, Lieutenant Tottenham perceived that
the new-comer was already in good hands, or would soon be so--the
armed drifter _Evening Primrose_ was closing her, evidently with
the intention of acting as escort. At this moment a fresh ship came
in sight, approaching the Bill from the west. Lieutenant Tottenham
instantly altered course and made straight for her.

At 9.55 P.M., when he had hardly steadied _Lorna_ on her new course, he
sighted the periscope of a submarine. It was steering due west, almost
directly towards the approaching steamer, and seeing the position of
the two ships, and their converging courses, he assumed rightly that
the enemy was manœuvring for an attack of the usual kind, without
warning. Of _Lorna’s_ presence the U-boat was apparently quite unaware,
though she was now only 150 feet distant and rapidly coming up on the
starboard side of the periscope.

But aware or unaware, the pirates were doomed--caught in the act, and
helpless as they had thought to find their victim. _Lorna’s_ helm flew
over to starboard. The ship swung, in one swift curve, through the
intervening fifty yards, and in two minutes from sighting her enemy
she was right over the periscope. The U-boat dipped, but far too late;
as _Lorna_ passed over the spot a shuddering jar was felt throughout
her--her keel had struck the conning-tower, but so lightly that the
pirates below probably thought they had escaped destruction for this
time. A moment later they knew their error. Down came _Lorna’s_ first
depth-charge, set to fifty feet. The helm went over still further to
starboard, and the second charge dropped about fifty feet from the
first, and at the same depth.

Both charges detonated, and it was impossible to believe that they
could have failed to destroy or seriously cripple the U-boat. They must
have exploded in the most dangerous way possible, just alongside and
underneath the target, where the resistance would be the maximum. The
proof came a few moments afterwards. While continuing his circle, in
order to pass again over the spot and make sure, Lieutenant Tottenham
suddenly sighted four objects in the water among the disturbance caused
by the two explosions. He turned and steered direct for the place,
expecting to find wreckage of some kind; but on arriving, at full
speed, he saw an astonishing tumult of water, caused by an upward rush
of air, gas, and oil, which showed beyond doubt that the U-boat was
immediately below.

The next moment was a terrible one. As _Lorna’s_ third depth-charge
dropped into this seething cauldron, cries of ‘Kamerad!’ were heard,
and those on the yacht’s deck, looking back as she raced over, saw
the new explosion hurl into the air the bodies of four men, who for a
brief instant had been survivors from the sunken U-boat. Lieutenant
Tottenham eased down and returned to pick them up. One was found still
crying ‘Help!’ and ‘Kamerad!’ but the other three were already dead,
from the effect of the explosion, or of the thick mass of oil in which
they were submerged. About the unhappy prisoner there was no doubt. He
was seriously injured internally, and was gone in three hours’ time.
He lived and died in a cruel and cowardly business, but if care and
kindness could have saved him, _Lorna_ would have brought him into port
and been glad to do it.

This submarine was U.B. 74. She was a week out, and had already sunk
three ships when she was caught. Her commander was Ober-Leutnant
Schtiendorf, and his name will be found in the list of the 150, for his
case was among those marked as ‘Known.’

One more patrol story must be added--a story in some ways unique,
with mysterious details which haunt the imagination, but can never be
finally explained. The vessels of the patrol on this occasion were
not yachts, or P-boats in the strict sense of the classification. One
was the _Sarba_, an armed trawler like those we have already met,
and commanded by Lieutenant George G. Astbury, R.N.R.; the other was
a small boat, with no name but T.B. 055, commanded by Gunner T. H.
Britton.

On the morning of October 31, 1917, T.B. 055 was accompanying the
trawlers who were engaged in sweeping an important channel outside a
British harbour. At 3.0 P.M. when the sweep was practically over, Mr.
Britton noticed an oil track on the surface of the channel. This was in
itself an astonishing sight, and not to be accounted for in a moment.
How could a submarine have ventured into a channel only thirteen
fathoms deep, and daily swept by a highly efficient force of trawlers?
And for what possible reason could she be lying there on the bottom at
3 o’clock in the afternoon, in a position where she could use none of
her weapons, and was certain to be found and attacked?

Mr. Britton went into the oil track to investigate; stopped his boat
and listened on the hydrophone. His astonishment was redoubled--the
submarine was there, and not only there, but busy and audible. The case
was so extraordinary that he and his trained hydrophone listener took
counsel together and classified the sounds they heard. First there were
the usual ‘water noises’; these were continuous and perfectly familiar.
Secondly, there was an almost continuous high-pitched sound, somewhat
similar to that of a turbine engine running. Thirdly, at intervals of
a few seconds, came a noise as of knocking or hammering upon metal;
the speed of the tapping varied from slow to fairly rapid blows.
Lastly--and this was the most unexpected and mysterious of all--on two
occasions there was audible, over all the other noises, a sound as of
wireless letters on a high musical note.

For three minutes these sounds were heard, noted, and compared.
T.B. 055 was then taken forward about 200 yards, to the end of the oil
track, and the hydrophone was used again. Precisely the same sounds
were heard, except that this time the musical note, as of a wireless
message, was not repeated. Mr. Britton had no desire to lose time; but
he was not troubled with nerves, and he was determined to make sure of
his evidence. He took precautions to stop all ship’s noises. The fact
only became clearer that the sounds below came from a live submarine.
What her crew were doing no one could know; but she was there for an
evil purpose, and she must pay the penalty.

The oil was still coming up in a visible thin stream from below the
surface. T.B. 055 dropped a Reindeer buoy with moorings, to mark the
spot exactly, got under way and came back over the position. As she
passed, a depth-charge was dropped. The tide was fairly slack at
the time, and there was every reason to believe that it found the
target. Mr. Britton returned to the spot once more. The volume of oil
rising had now increased, and a strong smell of oil fuel was noticed,
which had not been there before. The blobs of oil which now came to
the surface had brownish air-bubbles and froth among them; in the
hydrophone, nothing was to be heard but the ordinary water noises.

It was now 3.35 P.M., and the armed trawler _Sarba_ was seen
approaching. Mr. Britton reported what he had been doing to Lieutenant
Astbury, who at once stopped his own engines and used his hydrophone.
Then, as he too could hear no sign of life, he took a sounding, found
sixteen fathoms and a sandy bottom, and decided that the enemy must
be still there, alive or dead. Accordingly he steamed clear of the
position, turned and came back over it at full speed. He determined to
set his depth-charge for eighty feet, in spite of the shallowness of
the water, because, with the boat on the bottom at ninety-six feet,
he would be absolutely certain of getting a very close explosion. The
charge detonated, and he returned at once to the spot. Large bubbles of
air and quantities of oil were coming up, and within a short time the
oil was covering a very wide area. Sarba stood by all night, using her
hydrophone frequently.

It was now evident that the enemy was dead; but the more the
circumstances were reflected upon, the more difficult it was to explain
them. Next morning, when T.B. 055 had ‘proceeded to sea in accordance
with programme,’ Lieutenant Astbury, in _Sarba_, was left alone, with
nothing but two buoys and an oil patch to give so incredible a story
any kind of reality. He got out a sweep wire with a sinker of 1¾
cwt. and took a sweep along the position. The sweep brought up on an
immovable obstruction, and the incredible seemed once more possible.
At 2.0 P.M. arrived the armed drifter _Sunshine_ and T.B. 058. They
found _Sarba_ lying as near as possible in the position where she had
exploded her depth-charge, and where her sweep had brought her up.
They took a ground sweep under her, and their sweep wire also fouled
the same obstruction. _Sarba_, like a faithful dog, remained on guard
during the following night. At last, at 2.30 P.M. on November 2, the
divers arrived.

[Illustration: ‘The diver who first went down found the submarine lying
on her side.’]

Before the day was out, all uncertainty was removed. The diver who
first went down found the submarine lying on her side. When visited
a second time, she had been righted by the tide or some shifting of
weight; but she and all her crew were dead. The main fact was thus
proved; but the mystery remained and still remains inexplicable
and haunting. Possibly the answer, to the first of the two questions
involved, may be a simple one. The U-boat may have got into the channel
in a fog, and finding herself there when the weather cleared, she may
have dived for safety and decided to remain on the bottom till it was
dark enough to steal away. But the sounds cannot be explained to the
satisfaction of those who know most about submarine war. The U-boat
commander must have realised the enormous risk he was incurring, when
he allowed those noises to be made at such an hour of day. He must
have known that the British Patrol is well equipped with hydrophones,
with depth-charges, and with sweeps. Either he had some serious injury
to repair, and no time to wait; or else his boat was completely
disabled at the bottom, and the hammering and other noises were the
desperate attempts of the crew to draw attention in the hope of being
rescued. ‘There is also,’ said the Admiral of the station, ‘the third
possibility, that the boat carries inside her a tragedy that will never
be known.’



CHAPTER XIV

Q-BOATS


Everyone who has ever thought about war must know that secrecy is one
of the first conditions of military success, whether on land or sea.
Yet the secrecy practised by our Government and our Higher Command has
often been the subject of complaint. The complaint is not the cry of
mere sensationalism or curiosity, deprived of its ration of news. Often
it is the most patriotic and intelligent who are the most distressed
at being kept in the dark. They understand the dangers of a great war,
and they desire, above all things, not to live in a fool’s paradise.
They know that they can bear to hear the worst, and they feel that they
deserve to hear the best. The anti-submarine campaign has especially
tried their patience. There has been great anxiety to know the exact
figures of our mercantile losses; and on the other hand, when naval
honours have been given without the usual account of the actions by
which they were earned, there has been a tendency to grumble that we
are not being helped to bear the strain of war, even when events are in
our favour.

These complaints are not justified. Those who make them have failed
to realise the deadly earnestness of the struggle we are carrying on.
It is hard on the patriotic student of war that we should go short
of facts, and hard on the anxious that they should lack encouraging
information; but how much harder would it be for our seamen and
submarine crews, if the secret of their tactics were given away to
an enemy only too quick to take advantage of what he can succeed in
overhearing? When one interesting paragraph in a newspaper may possibly
mean the sacrifice of many lives, what statesman or staff officer would
take the responsibility of passing it for publication? But the secrets
of the Admiralty in this war have not been timidly or unintelligently
kept. In spite of the tradition of ‘the Silent Service’--which only
means that ‘the Navy doesn’t advertise’--there is no general feeling
against telling the truth and the whole truth, when it can be done to
the advantage of the country. Those in power have been for the most
part in favour of ‘taking the lid off’ when the right time has come;
and in this very matter of the mysterious honours, it was the First
Lord himself who at last told the public what could no longer be
valuable information for the enemy. So long as the use of disguised
Special Service ships, or Q-boats, was a new method, indispensable to
us and unsuspected by the Germans, or at least unfamiliar to them, so
long was it highly undesirable that we should speak or write publicly
of their successes. But now that after many losses, and some escapes,
from Q-boats, the enemy’s submarine service has found out all their
secrets, our own Navy has naturally ceased to rely on this kind of
surprise, and has invented new devices, even more deadly and more
difficult to evade. Of these we are, very reasonably, forbidden to
write; but of the old and well-known hunting methods--of the work
of destroyers, patrol-boats, trawlers, submarines, aircraft and
Q-boats--we may now give illustrations; for we shall be telling nothing
that the enemy does not know to his cost already. The very name,
Q-boat, is as familiar in Germany as in this country. The submarine
which escaped from the _Dunraven_ carried away a very complete
understanding of the work of these Special Service ships, and the
_Illustrierte Zeitung_ of July 12, 1917, contained a full description
of a fight between a U-boat and a ‘submarine trap,’ which took place on
February 22 of that year.

It is evident from this, and other articles of a similar kind, that,
in German opinion, it is the U-boats, and not their victims, who have
the right to complain of barbarous treatment. This view is amazing;
but it is in complete accordance with the principle laid down by
Major-General von Disfurth, in the _Hamburger Nachrichten_, at the
beginning of the War: ‘We owe no explanations to anyone: there is
nothing for us to justify, and nothing for us to explain away. Every
act, of whatever nature, committed by our troops for the purpose of
discouraging, defeating and destroying our enemies, is a brave act, a
good deed, and fully justified. Germany stands supreme, the arbiter of
her own methods, which must in time of war be dictated to the world.’
That is the insolence of unmitigated brutality, and the British Navy
took up the challenge with a spirit that will set the standard of the
world so long as war remains a possibility in human life. If our men
had retaliated on barbarians by methods of barbarism, neither the
German Government, as Sir Edward Grey pointed out, nor the German
people, would have had any just ground for complaint. ‘It is not in
consideration for their deserts that the Admiralty reject such a
policy. They reject it because it is inconsistent with the traditions
of the Service for which they are responsible; nor do they now propose
to alter their methods of warfare merely because they find themselves
in conflict with opponents whose views of honour and humanity are
different from their own.’ But within the old rules, the rules of law
and chivalry, they are right to use every device that native ingenuity
and centuries of experience can suggest. There is no German cunning
that cannot be matched by British science and discipline, and no German
brutality that cannot be overmatched by British daring and endurance.
This has been proved a hundred times in the course of the submarine
war, and never more brilliantly than by the captains of the Q-boats, of
whom the pattern for all time is Gordon Campbell, till yesterday known
only as ‘The Mystery Star Captain’ of the British Navy.

In 1915, Gordon Campbell was just one of the many Lieutenant-Commanders
who had never had an opportunity for distinguished service. His hopes
rose when he was appointed to command the _Farnborough_, a Special
Service ship, formerly a collier, with crew mainly drawn from the
mercantile marine and R.N.R. Into these men he infused his own ideas of
discipline and training, as well as his own cool and selfless courage.
During the whole winter the _Farnborough_ faced the gales without a
single fight to cheer her; but never for a moment did her commander
waver in his faith that her chance would come, and never did his men
cease to give him their whole trust and devotion. In the end, he was
able to say of them that they understood every move in the game as well
as he himself did, and played it with the same keenness. Even if he
had met with no other success, this alone was an achievement, and a
proof of invaluable power. But other successes were to be added--the
power was to be felt beyond his own ship, as an example and an
inspiration.

The _Farnborough’s_ first chance came in the spring of 1916, when she
was tramping quietly along at eight knots. Her look-out sighted the
enemy at last--a submarine awash, and about five miles distant on the
port bow. It remained in view only for a few minutes and then dived,
no doubt for the attack. It was the _Farnborough’s_ part to be blind,
stupid, and generally mercantile. She maintained her course and speed
as if she had observed nothing. Twenty minutes later a torpedo was
seen coming up on the starboard quarter. The bubbles rose right under
the forecastle, the torpedo having evidently passed just ahead of the
ship. The _Farnborough_ maintained her course, as blind and trampish as
before.

A few minutes more, and the U-boat, convinced that she had a fool to
deal with, broke surface only a thousand yards astern of the ship,
passing across her wake from starboard to port. But she was not exactly
in a mood of reckless courage--she fired a shot from her gun across
_Farnborough’s_ bows, and at the same time partially submerged. Now
came the moment for which Lieutenant-Commander Campbell had trained
his men. He stopped, blew off steam ostentatiously, and ordered a
‘panic abandon ship’ by his stokers and spare men, under Engineer
Sub-Lieutenant John Smith, R.N.R. The U-boat was encouraged by this,
closed to 800 yards, and a few seconds later reopened fire with a shell
which fell about fifty yards short. Then, in the traditional style of
the old Navy, the captain gave the order to hoist the white ensign and
open fire.

The surprise was complete and overwhelming; the pirate made no fight
of it at all. _Farnborough_ fired twenty-one rounds from her three
12-pounders, one of the guns getting off 13 rounds to her own share;
and the Maxims and rifles also expended some 200 cartridges. The
range was long, considering the bad light, but several hits were
observed before the submarine disappeared. She went down slowly.
Lieutenant-Commander Campbell steamed full speed over the spot and
dropped a depth-charge. Immediately the U-boat reappeared. She was only
ten yards off the ship, and rose in a nearly perpendicular position,
being out of the water from the bow to abaft the conning-tower. She had
had one periscope hit, and there was a large rent in her bow, through
which no doubt the water had penetrated and run down into her stern
compartment, giving her her unnatural position. All this was remembered
and told afterwards. Her reappearance was instantly greeted with five
more rounds from the _Farnborough’s_ after-gun. They all went into the
base of the conning-tower at point-blank range, and she sank at once.
Oil, not in driblets but in very large quantities, came rapidly to
the surface, mixed with pieces of wood, and covered the sea for some
distance round. _Farnborough_ collected her boats and stokers, and
reported her success--a success insured, as was noted on her report, by
‘good nerve and thorough organisation.’

Three weeks afterwards, she heard of a U-boat operating on a definite
pitch of her own, and set out to put temptation in her way. In the
evening, as she was going warily along at five knots, on a calm and
misty sea, she observed a ship on her starboard quarter, about two
miles distant. Then suddenly, between the two vessels, a submarine
broke surface. The blind old _Farnborough_ plodded on, taking no notice
till the U-boat hoisted a signal, which Commander Campbell could not
read. He stopped, however, and blew off steam, with his answering
pendant at the dip. He also hoisted the signal ‘Cannot understand your
signal,’ but kept jogging ahead, so as to edge in, and to avoid falling
into the trough of the heavy swell. The U-boat was lying full length on
the surface. She was a large boat and had two guns on deck, but no men
visible.

Presently she began to close, and manned her foremost gun. In the
meantime Commander Campbell had turned out the bridge boat and given
his ‘papers’ to Engineer Sub-Lieutenant John Smith, R.N.R., to take
over to the submarine. At this moment the enemy fired a shot, which
passed over the ship, and one of the _Farnborough’s_ gunners, thinking
that his own ship had opened the engagement, began to fire himself.
This forced Commander Campbell’s hand; he ran up the white ensign, gave
the general order to open fire, and went full speed ahead to bring his
after-gun to bear. The range was a long one for a misty evening--900 to
1,000 yards--but the shooting was good enough. The second shot was seen
by the neutral sailors on the other ship to strike the U-boat directly;
her bow submerged and her stern came up out of the water so that her
propellers were visible, and one of them could be seen to be higher
than the other. She lay in this position for a good five minutes,
and altogether 20 rounds were fired at her from the _Farnborough’s_
12-pounders, the last two of which hit either on the conning-tower or
just forward of it. Then there appeared to be an explosion on board
the U-boat, and she sank suddenly. There was a great commotion on
the water, and a cloud of dense steam or vapour covered the surface
for some minutes. _Farnborough_ passed over the spot and dropped two
depth-charges; but the submarine had gone to the bottom in 81 fathoms
and nothing more was seen of her. The neutral ship afterwards observed
a large patch of oil upon the surface. She had behaved with strict
neutrality, and was good enough to remain some time on the spot,
‘looking for drowneds,’ but she looked in vain.

By the destruction of these two U-boats, Commander Campbell and his
ship’s company had done valuable service, and had given remarkable
proof of what can be accomplished by discipline and nerve. But the very
efficiency and success of their work gave a deceptive appearance to it.
The fighting was so smartly done, and so conclusive, that it looked an
easier thing than it really was, to trap and sink a brace of pirates
in three weeks. The enemy was not long in perceiving that the trade
of murder was being rapidly made more difficult and more dangerous
for him. Every time a U-boat came home, the need for caution was more
strongly impressed upon the directors of the campaign.

The German Press was instructed to complain that the unscrupulous
British Navy was using disguised ships and depth-charges against the
Power which ‘stands supreme, the arbiter of her own methods,’ and has
alone the right to dress her _Greifs_ and _Moewes_ as unarmed neutral
trading vessels. At the same time the pirate captains were ordered to
be less rash in approaching ships they had torpedoed but had not sunk
outright. The result was to make Commander Campbell’s next encounter
a much more anxious affair, and it was only by his incredible patience
and judgment, and the wonderful discipline of his crew, that their
third victory was achieved. As to the courage of every one concerned,
it would be waste of time to speak of it. Courage of the finest quality
was the very breath which these men breathed--all day, and every day.

One morning, then, early in 1917, the Special Service ship Q. 5 was
going due east at 7 knots, when a torpedo was seen approaching her
starboard beam. This was what Commander Campbell was out for--in the
present timid state of the pirates’ nerves, there was no hope of
drawing any of them into a fight, except by getting torpedoed outright,
to start with. They might approach a sinking ship--they would no longer
venture to come near a live one. But, at the same time, one need not
make the handicap unnecessarily heavy. Commander Campbell valued his
men’s lives at least as much as his own, and he did his best to save
his heroic engine-room staff, who faced the worst of the danger with
perfect understanding and perfect self-sacrifice. He put his helm hard
aport, and was so far successful that he received the torpedo in No.
3 hold; but, to his regret, it burst the bulk-head between that hold
and the engine-room and slightly wounded Engineer Sub-Lieutenant John
Smith, R.N.R. Help, he knew, was not far off; but no signal was sent
out, for fear some zealous ship might arrive before Q. 5 had done her
work. ‘Action’ was sounded, and all hands went quietly to stations
previously arranged for such an emergency. Every man, except those
required on board for the fight, then abandoned ship--two lifeboats
and one dinghey full were sent away, and a fourth boat was partially
lowered with a proper amount of confusion. The chief engineer reported
the engine-room filling with water. He was ordered to hang on as long
as possible, and then hide.

[Illustration: ‘A fourth boat was partially lowered with a proper
amount of confusion.’]

While all this was going on--and a most masterly piece of acting it
was, the whole company playing perfectly together--the U-boat was
observed on the starboard quarter watching the proceedings through his
periscope. His carcass he was loth to expose, but he came past the
ship on the starboard side, only five yards from the lifeboats, and
ten from the ship; so close, in fact, that though still submerged, the
whole hull of the submarine could be seen distinctly through the water.
The temptation to fire was almost unbearable. But the effect upon the
U-boat at that depth was very doubtful, and there would be no time for
a second shot before he slid down out of reach. Commander Campbell made
no sign, and his gunners lay as steady as if his hand were upon them.

Their patience was repaid. Twenty minutes after firing his torpedo,
the enemy passed across the ship’s bow and ventured to the surface to
finish her off. He was 300 yards away on the port bow when Q. 5 made
the signal ‘Torpedoed.’ He then came down past the port side on the
surface, captain on conning-tower, ready to give sentence of death on
his victim. But as he came onto the precise bearing on which all Q. 5’s
guns could bear, Commander Campbell gave the order to open fire at
point-blank range.

The 6-pounder got in first, with a shell which hit the conning-tower
and removed the pirate captain’s head. The U-boat never recovered
from the surprise but lay on the surface while the British gunners
shattered his hull. The conning-tower was naturally the chief mark.
It was repeatedly hit, some of the shells going apparently clean
through it. When the boat sank, the conning-tower was shattered and
lay completely open, with the crew trying to escape by it to the deck.
Commander Campbell ordered ‘Cease fire,’ and sent one of his lifeboats
to their assistance. But the swirl of the sinking vessel, and the
density of the oil which poured out of her, proved immediately fatal to
those who had succeeded in reaching the water. One officer was picked
up alive, and one man.

[Illustration: ‘The U-boat never recovered from the surprise.’

    [_See page_ 240.
]

Commander Campbell then recalled his boats and inspected his ship, with
what feelings only a seaman can imagine. He found that Q. 5 was sinking
by the stern. The engine- and boiler-rooms were rapidly filling, and
the water was also pouring into three holds. After making the signal
for assistance, he placed all hands in the boats, except a chosen few
whom he kept on board with him; and as the case was desperate, he gave
orders for the destruction of all confidential books and charts.

An hour and a half later the _Narwhal_ arrived, and took all the crew
on board. Commander Campbell himself--dead set on saving his ship if
it could be done--inspected her once more, and then went over to the
_Narwhal_ to discuss the possibility of towage. Shortly afterwards
the _Buttercup_ came up, and as Q. 5 seemed by now to have assumed a
more stable position and the water was gaining more slowly, Commander
Campbell ordered _Buttercup_ to take her in tow, which was done in the
most seamanlike manner. It was a long and difficult business, almost
desperate at times. First the tow parted, owing to Q. 5’s helm being
jammed hard over and immovable--the result of explosion. But her
commander was not defeated. He was hard at work raising steam in her
donkey-boiler, so as to be able to steer and veer cable. After four
hours he got her in tow again, and she towed fairly well. But water was
still gaining; the swell was breaking over the decks, and the after
gun-house was at times under water.

Another ship, _Laburnum_, was now standing by, and at dusk suggested
that Commander Campbell and his men should come on board for the
night; but they refused to give up their ship as long as they could
steer her. About two hours after midnight the end seemed to have come;
Q. 5 suddenly started to list, the water gained rapidly, the donkey
boiler-room was flooded, and the helm could no longer be used. At 3.30
Commander Campbell put the helm amidships, and ordered his men aboard
_Laburnum_. He then followed himself, but returned to his own ship
at daybreak and resumed towing; then, finding her in a very critical
condition, he was compelled to go back to _Laburnum_ for the time.

In the evening, when they were at last nearing port, the trawler
_Luneta_ came out to help. Q. 5 had by now nearly twenty degrees of
list, and her stern was nearly eight feet under water; but she was
brought in after all, and we may take her commander’s word for it
that her safe arrival in harbour was due to the splendid seamanship
of Lieutenant-Commander W. W. Hallwright of the _Laburnum_. In
an achievement like this, there is a romantic touch of the old
tradition--it was by just such seamanship that our frigate captains
saved the Fleet after Trafalgar.

We may hear, too, what the commander of Q. 5 said about his officers
and crew. ‘They may almost be said to have passed through the supreme
test of discipline. The chief-engineer and the engine-room watch
remained at their posts and kept the dynamos going until driven out by
water. They then had to hide on top of the engine-room. The guns’ crews
had to remain concealed in their gun-houses for nearly half an hour,
while we could feel the ship going down by the stern. At that time it
appeared touch-and-go whether the ship would sink before we sank the
enemy. The officers and men who remained on board during the towing
also did splendidly, the conditions at times being most dangerous ...
it is difficult to select individuals where all did so well.’ But
without selecting, we may name two by their names: Engineer-Lieutenant
L. S. Loveless, R.N.R., and Lieutenant Ronald Stuart, R.N.R., First
and Gunnery Lieutenant, both now members of the Distinguished Service
Order. It is hardly necessary to add that their commander received the
Victoria Cross. He was born for it.

It is not often that any man, or any ship’s company, can repeat their
best performance and better it; yet Commander Campbell’s third victory
was followed by a fourth, of which, as the Admiral on his station said
truly, it is difficult to speak in sober terms. Four months after Q. 5
had struggled back to port, her men were out again in the _Pargust_,
a merchant vessel on the same Special Service. The ship was going 8
knots in heavy rain and mist, with a fresh southerly breeze and a
choppy sea. Like Q. 5, she got what she was looking for--what others
run fast and far to avoid. A torpedo was seen coming towards her on the
starboard beam. It was apparently fired at very close range, for it
had not yet settled down to its depth, but jumped out of the water
when only a hundred yards from the ship. This time there was no choice,
and no manœuvring; _Pargust_ received the shot in the engine-room and
near the water-line. It made a large rent, filled the boiler-room,
the engine-room and No. 5 hold with water, killed a stoker, wounded
Engineer Sub-Lieutenant John Smith, R.N.R., and blew the starboard
lifeboat into the air, landing pieces of it on the aerial.

The alarm had already been sounded and ‘Abandon ship’ ordered. The
three remaining boats--one lifeboat and two dinghies--were lowered,
full of men, the ship’s helm being put hard a-starboard to get a lee
for them. Lieutenant F. R. Hereford, R.N.R., as before, went in charge
of them and greatly distinguished himself by the coolness and propriety
with which he acted the part of Master of the supposed merchantman.

As the last boat was pushing off, the enemy’s periscope was seen for
the first time, just before the port beam, and about 400 yards from
the ship. He turned and came straight on; but ten minutes later, when
only 50 yards from the ship and close to the stern of the lifeboat, he
submerged completely and disappeared. His periscope was sighted again
a few minutes later, directly astern; he then steamed to the starboard
quarter, turned round and went across to the port beam, turned again
towards the ship and lifeboat, and finally, after all this nosing
about, broke surface within 50 yards or less. But even now he was
extremely cautious, showing only his conning-tower and ends; and when
the lifeboat pulled away round the ship’s stern, he followed close
behind, with only one man visible on top of the conning-tower, shouting
directions to those below.

For the next three minutes of this long game of patience, the
strain was intense. Commander Campbell was watching the man on the
conning-tower carefully, for as long as he saw him perched up there he
knew that he could reserve his fire. Lieutenant Hereford was waiting
till he was certain that his captain was in a winning position. As soon
as that was attained, he pulled deliberately towards the ship. This
annoyed the submarine, whose object was evidently, in case of a fight,
to keep the boats as much as possible in the line of fire. He came
right up to the surface and began to semaphore to the boats, at the
same time training a Maxim on them.

But by this time the U-boat was only one point before the ship’s beam,
with all guns bearing on him at 50 yards’ range--Commander Campbell’s
chance had come. He opened fire with a shot from the 4-inch gun,
which struck the base of the conning-tower and also removed the two
periscopes. Hit after hit followed, nearly all in the conning-tower,
which could no longer be closed. The submarine took a list to port, and
several men rushed up, out of the hatch abaft the conning-tower. Then,
as the stern began to sink and oil squirted from the boat’s sides,
the rest of the crew came out, held up their hands and waved in token
of surrender. Commander Campbell, of course, ordered ‘Cease fire’;
but no sooner had the order been obeyed, than the pirate started to
move off on the surface, hoping, though listing to port and down by
the stern, and in honour bound a prisoner, to get away in the mist.
The _Pargust_ could not follow, so that she was obliged to open fire
again. The U-boat’s breach of faith did not save her. In her quick
rush, she got to about 300 yards from her captor, whose guns continued
to speak straight to her. Then a shot apparently touched off one of
her torpedoes--there was an explosion forward, and she fell over on
her side. For a moment her bow was seen jutting up sharply out of the
water, and the next she was gone.

In her reckless rush to escape she had washed overboard her men abaft
the conning-tower; one man went down clinging to her bow, and some
who came up the fore-hatch were left struggling in the thick oil. The
boats of the _Pargust_ were sent to the rescue. They had a hard pull to
windward in a choppy sea; but they managed to save the only two whom
they found alive. The _Pargust_ lay tossing helplessly for nearly four
hours. Then H.M.S. _Crocus_ arrived and towed her into port, escorted
by another of H.M.’s ships and the U.S.S. _Cushing_.

‘It is difficult,’ says Commander Campbell, ‘where all did well, to
mention individual officers and men, as any one officer or man could
easily have spoiled the show. It was a great strain for those on board
to have to remain entirely concealed for thirty-five minutes after the
ship was torpedoed--especially, for instance, the foremost gun’s crew,
who had to remain flat on the deck without moving a muscle.’ And the
actual combatants were not the only heroes; for he adds: ‘The men in
the boats, especially the lifeboat, ran a great risk of being fired on
by me if the submarine closed them.’

It is difficult for a grateful country, difficult even for the most
generously sympathetic of sovereigns, to deal adequately with a ship’s
company like this. Every man on board had already been mentioned or
decorated, most of them more than once, and by the very names of their
successive ships they were already marked out for lasting honour.
Still, for our sake rather than for theirs, we may be glad to know
that what tokens could be given them, were given. First, Commander
Campbell became a Captain, and others were promoted in their various
ranks. Then the memorable thirteenth clause of the Statutes of the
Victoria Cross was put into operation. By this it is ordained that in
the event of a gallant and daring act having been performed by a ship’s
company, or other body of men, in which the Admiral, General, or other
officer commanding such forces may deem that all are equally brave and
distinguished, then the officer commanding may direct that one officer
shall be selected, by the officers engaged, for the decoration; and
in like manner, one man shall be selected by the seamen or private
soldiers, for the decoration. Knowing as we do what Captain Campbell
felt about his officers and men, we can imagine something of his
satisfaction at being able to recommend that the V.C. should be worn on
behalf of the whole ship’s company by Lieutenant R. N. Stuart, D.S.O.,
R.N.R., and by seaman William Williams, D.S.M., R.N.R. The latter, when
one of the gun ports was damaged by the shock of the torpedo, saved it
from falling down and exposing the whole secret of the ship, by bearing
at great personal risk and with great presence of mind the whole weight
of the port until assistance could be given him. The former was the
Captain’s first-lieutenant and second self. These two crosses, and his
high rank, were the Captain’s own reward; but to mark the occasion, a
bar was also added to his D.S.O.

To these men there was now but one thing wanting--to show their
greatness in adversity: and Fortune, that could deny nothing to Gordon
Campbell, gave him this too. Less than two months after the _Pargust’s_
action he was at sea in the Special Service ship _Dunraven_, disguised
as an armed British merchant vessel, and zigzagging at eight knots in
rough water. A submarine was sighted on the horizon two points before
the starboard beam; but the zigzag course was maintained, and the
enemy steered towards the ship, submerging about twenty minutes after
she was first seen. Twenty-six minutes later she broke surface on the
starboard quarter at 5,000 yards, and opened fire. Captain Campbell at
once ran up the white ensign, returned the fire with his after-gun,
a 2½-pounder, and ordered the remainder of the crew to take ‘shell
cover.’ He also gave directions for much smoke to be made, but at the
same time reduced speed to seven knots, with an occasional zigzag, to
give the U-boat a chance of closing. If he had been the merchantman he
seemed, he could in all probability have escaped. He was steaming head
to sea, and the submarine’s firing was very poor, the shots nearly all
passing over.

After about half an hour the enemy ceased firing and came on at
full speed. A quarter of an hour later he turned broadside on, and
reopened fire. The _Dunraven’s_ gun kept firing short, intentionally,
and signals were made _en clair_ for the U-boat’s benefit, such as
‘Submarine chasing and shelling me’--‘Submarine overtaking me. Help.
Come quickly!’--and finally, ‘Am abandoning ship.’ The shells soon
began to fall closer. Captain Campbell made a cloud of steam to
indicate boiler trouble, and ordered ‘Abandon ship,’ at the same time
stopping, blowing off steam, and turning his broadside so that all
he did should be visible. To add to the appearance of panic, a boat
was let go by the foremost fall on its side. The pirate (thoroughly
confident now) closed, and continued his shelling. One shell went
through _Dunraven’s_ poop, exploding a depth-charge and blowing
Lieutenant Charles Bonner, D.S.C., R.N.R., out of his control station.
After two more shells into the poop, the U-boat ceased fire again and
closed. He was ‘coming along very nicely’ from port to starboard, so
as to pass four or five hundred yards away. But in the meantime, the
poop was on fire. Clouds of dense black smoke were issuing from it and
partially hiding the submarine. It was obvious to Captain Campbell that
since the magazine and depth-charges were in the poop, an explosion
must soon take place. He was faced with the choice of opening fire
through the smoke, with a poor chance of success, or waiting till the
enemy should have got on to the weather side. He decided to wait,
trusting his men as faithfully as they were trusting him.

The U-boat came on, but all too slowly. She was only just passing
across _Dunraven’s_ stern when the dreaded explosion took place in
the poop. The 4-inch gun and gun’s crew complete were blown into the
air. The gun landed forward on the well deck, and the crew in various
places--one man in the water. This was a misfortune that might well
have broken their captain’s heart--the submarine had only to steam
another 200 yards, and he would have had a clear sight and three guns
bearing on her at 400 yards range. Moreover the explosion had started
the ‘Open fire’ buzzers at the guns; and the gun on the bridge, which
was the only one then bearing, had duly opened fire. The U-boat
had already started to submerge, alarmed by the explosion; but it
was thought that one hit was obtained on the conning-tower as he
disappeared.

Captain Campbell’s heart was not broken, nor was his natural force
abated. Realising that a torpedo would probably come next, he ordered
the doctor, Surgeon-probationer Alexander Fowler, D.S.C., R.N.V.R., to
remove all the wounded and lock them up in cabins or elsewhere, so as
not to risk detection in ‘the next part.’ He then turned hoses on to
the flaming poop, where, though the deck was red hot, the magazine was
apparently still intact and dangerous. At the same time he remembered
that a man-of-war had answered his signal for assistance when the
explosion took place; and being determined on trying for a second
fight, he now signalled to this ship to keep away, as the action was
not yet ended. She not only kept away, but kept the ring, by deflecting
traffic while these invincibles fought the pirate to a finish.

The torpedo came at last, from a point about 1,000 yards on the
starboard side, and it struck abaft the engine-room. Captain Campbell
at once ordered a second ‘Abandon ship’ or ‘Q abandon ship,’ as he
called it; for by it he was professing to completely abandon a ship
whose disguise had been detected. He left his guns visible, and sent
a second party of men away on a raft and a damaged boat. The poop
continued to burn fiercely, and 4-inch shells exploded every few
minutes. The submarine put up her periscope and circled round at
various ranges, viewing the position cautiously. After forty minutes
she broke surface directly astern, where no gun would bear upon her,
and shelled the _Dunraven_ at a range of a few hundred yards. Nearly
every shot was a hit, but some fell near the boats. Two burst on the
bridge and did much damage.

In another twenty minutes the enemy ceased firing and again submerged.
Captain Campbell had now no resource left but his torpedoes, of
which he carried two--one on each side. He fired the first as the
U-boat steamed past the port side at 150 yards--too short a range for
certainty of depth. The bubbles passed just ahead of the periscope, and
the enemy failed to notice it. He turned very sharply round the ship’s
bow and came slowly down the starboard side at three knots. The second
torpedo was then fired, but the bubbles passed a couple of feet abaft
the periscope. This was cruelly hard luck, for the maximum depth was
on; but there is no doubt that this torpedo, like the other, must have
leaped over, from being fired at so close a range.

This time the enemy saw his danger, and instantly submerged. Captain
Campbell had now lost his last chance of a kill, and was bound to
signal urgently for assistance. He did so; but in case the U-boat
reappeared to torpedo or shell again, he arranged for some of his
remaining men to be ready to jump overboard in a final panic, leaving
still himself and one gun’s crew to fight a forlorn hope. This
last extremity was not reached. The U.S.S. _Noma_ arrived almost
immediately and fired at a periscope a few hundred yards astern
until it disappeared. Then came two King’s ships, the _Attack_ and
_Christopher_. Boats were recalled, the fire extinguished, and
everything on board having now exploded, arrangements were made for
towing. For twenty-four hours the _Christopher_ bore her burden like
a saint. Then the weather began to tell upon the half-dead ship, and
sixty of her crew and her wounded were transferred to the trawler
_Foss_. The next night the sea claimed the _Dunraven_ in unmistakable
tones. The _Christopher_ came alongside and brought off her captain and
the rest of her crew; and when she rolled end up, gave her a gunshot
and a depth-charge, to take her to her last berth.

In reporting the action, Captain Campbell brought specially to notice
the extreme bravery of Lieutenant Bonner and the 4-inch gun’s crew.
‘Lieutenant Bonner having been blown out of his control by the first
explosion, crawled into the gun-hatch with the crew. They there
remained at their posts with a fire raging in the poop below, and the
deck getting red hot. One man tore up his shirt to give pieces to the
gun’s crew, to stop the fumes getting into their throats; others lifted
the boxes of cordite off the deck to keep it from exploding, and all
the time they knew that they must be blown up, as the secondary supply
and magazine were immediately below. They told me afterwards that
communication with the main control was cut off, and although they knew
they would be blown up, they also knew that they would spoil the show
if they moved; so they remained until actually blown up with their gun.
Then when, as wounded men, they were ordered to remain quiet in various
places during the second action, they had to lie there unattended and
bleeding, with explosions continually going on aboard, and splinters
from the enemy’s shell-fire penetrating their quarters. Lieutenant
Bonner, himself wounded, did what he could for two who were with him
in the ward-room. When I visited them after the action, they thought
little of their wounds, but only expressed their disgust that the enemy
had not been sunk. Surely such bravery is hard to equal.’

Hard to equal--harder far to speak about! The King said all that can be
said: ‘Greater bravery than was shown by all officers and men on this
occasion can hardly be conceived.’ And again he testified the same by
symbols--among them a second bar for Captain Campbell, V.C., D.S.O.,
R.N.; the Victoria Cross for Lieutenant C. G. Bonner, D.S.C., R.N.R.;
and another, under Article 13, for the 4-inch gun’s crew, who named
Ernest Pitcher, P.O., to wear it to the honour of them all. The whole
ship’s company is now starred like a constellation; but the memory of
their service will long outshine their stars.



CHAPTER XV

SUBMARINE _v._ SUBMARINE


Since submarines must be hunted, there is something specially
attractive in the idea of setting other submarines to hunt them; it
seems peculiarly just that while the pirate is lying in wait under
water for his victim, he should himself be ambushed by an avenger
hiding under the same waters and possessed of the same deadly weapons
of offence.

But this method, satisfactory as it is to the imagination, is involved
in several practical difficulties. If we put ourselves in the position
of a submarine commander with orders to go out and kill U-boats, we
shall quickly come up against some of the more obvious of these.
The sea is a large place; the submarine moves about it slowly, and
therefore takes a long time to patrol a given area. Also the very
worst point of view from which to survey that area is the eye-piece of
a periscope raised only some two feet above the surface. The strain
upon the eye is very severe, when hour after hour is spent in looking
for ships of ordinary size, with freeboard, funnels and streamers of
smoke. How much more severe, when the object to be looked for is a
conning-tower at most, with waves tumbling about it, or possibly only a
periscope 4 inches in diameter!

Let us suppose, however, that all the preliminary conditions are as
good as they can be; that the commander is in the best of health,
with sound nerves and good instruments, and that he is lucky enough
to sight a chance near the beginning of his cruise, while his eye is
unwearied and his judgment alert. He will still be hampered by two
considerations--he must make sure that the boat he is about to attack
is an enemy and not a friend, and he must take the not very remote risk
of being rammed, bombed, or depth-charged by a British destroyer or a
German seaplane, while his attention is fixed entirely on the chase.

Finally, there are the purely technical difficulties of the attack.
Manœuvring for position is not easy, even when the enemy is a large
and visible ship of war; it is ten times harder when he is a submerged
or nearly submerged vessel, and not steaming straight ahead, but
cruising about with sudden and erratic changes of course, as he
searches for or sights his intended victims. And here the nature and
habits of the torpedo have also to be considered. A periscope, or even
a conning-tower, is not a very good object for a distant shot. On the
other hand if the range is too short, say less than 250 yards, the
torpedo is very likely to miss. This is due to the fact that a torpedo
requires a certain length of run before it can settle to its course
evenly at the depth for which it is set. It begins by plunging, then
rises, sometimes even breaks surface, and finally takes its proper
depth, which may be set for anything from 6 to 22 feet. A torpedo fired
at a periscope must be set deep, for the submerged part of the boat
will be 15 feet or more below the surface. If it were fired at so short
a distance as 100 or 120 yards it would reach the target while still
on its upward bound, and might easily leap clean over the U-boat’s
rounded back. At a still less range, it would probably dive under the
enemy altogether. Moreover, up to a distance of 200 yards--or even
more--the explosion of a torpedo is dangerous to the attacker as well
as to the attacked. Water, being much less elastic than air, conveys
the shock of a blow far more completely; and of course, in such a case,
a submarine vessel, being entirely surrounded by water, would suffer
much more from the concussion than a ship with only part of its hull
below the surface.

If we take account of these obvious difficulties, and remember that
there are others of which we know nothing, we shall realise that the
destruction of a U-boat by one of our own submarines can only be
accomplished by a combination of skill, courage, and good fortune. The
examples which follow will make this clear.

Let us take first the case of E. 54, Lieutenant-Commander Robert
H. T. Raikes, which shows a record of two successes within less than
four months--one obtained with comparative ease, the other with great
difficulty. The first of the two needs no detailed account or comment.
E. 54, on passage to her patrol ground, had the good fortune to sight
three U-boats in succession before she had gone far from her base. At
two of these she fired without getting a hit; but the third she blew
all to pieces, and picked up out of the oil and debris no less than
seven prisoners. Her next adventure was a much more arduous one. She
started in mid-August on a seven-day cruise, and in the first four days
saw nothing more exciting than a neutral cruiser carrying out target
practice. On the morning of the fifth day, a U-boat was sighted at
last; and after twenty-five minutes’ manœuvring, two torpedoes were
fired at her, at a distance of 600 yards, with deflection for 11 knots.
Her actual speed turned out to be more nearly 6 or 7 knots, and both
shots must have missed ahead of her. She dived immediately, and a third
torpedo failed to catch her as she went down.

An hour and twenty minutes afterwards she reappeared on the surface,
and Lieut.-Commander Raikes tried to cut her off, by steering close
in to the bank by which she was evidently intending to pass. E. 54
grounded on the bank, and her commander got her off with feelings that
can be easily imagined. Less than an hour after, a U-boat--the same or
another--was sighted coming down the same deep. Again Lieut.-Commander
Raikes tried to cut her off, and again he grounded in the attempt. He
was forced to come to the surface when the enemy was still 2,000 yards
away. To complete his ill-fortune, another U-boat was sighted within an
hour and a quarter, but got away without a shot being possible.

Twenty-four hours later the luck turned, and all these disappointments
were forgotten. At 2.6 P.M., Lieut.-Commander Raikes sighted yet
another U-boat in open water, on the old practice ground of the
neutral cruiser of three days before. He put E. 54 to her full speed,
and succeeded in overtaking the enemy. By 2.35 he had placed her
in a winning position on the U-boat’s bow, and at right angles to
her course. At 400 yards’ range he fired two torpedoes, and had the
satisfaction to see one of them detonate in a fine cloud of smoke
and spray. When the smoke cleared away, the U-boat had entirely
disappeared; there were no survivors. Next day, after dark, E. 54’s
time being up, she returned to her base, having had a full taste of
despair and triumph.

Earlier in the year, Lieutenant Bradshaw, in G. 13, had had a somewhat
similar experience. He went out to a distant patrol in cold March
weather and had not been on the ground five hours when his adventures
began. At 11.50 A.M. he was blinded by a snow squall; and when he
emerged from it, he immediately sighted a large hostile submarine
within shot. Unfortunately the U-boat sighted G. 13 at the same moment,
and the two dived simultaneously. This, as may easily be imagined, is
one of the most trying of all positions in the submarine game, and so
difficult as to be almost insoluble. The first of the two adversaries
to move will very probably be the one to fall in the duel; yet a move
must be made sooner or later, and the boldest will be the first to
move. Lieutenant Bradshaw seems to have done the right thing both
ways. For an hour and a half he lay quiet, listening for any sign of
the U-boat’s intentions; then, at 1.30 P.M., he came to the surface,
prepared for a lightning shot or an instantaneous manœuvre. No more
complete disappointment could be imagined. He could see no trace of
the enemy--he had not even the excitement of being shot at. On the
following day he was up early, and spent nearly eleven fruitless hours
knocking about in a sea which grew heavier and heavier from the S.S.E.
Then came another hour which made ample amends. At 3.55 P.M. a large
U-boat came in sight, steering due west. Lieutenant Bradshaw carried
out a rapid dive and brought his tubes to the ready; courses and speeds
as requisite for attack. (These reports often omit superfluous details,
while they bristle with intention.) The manœuvring which followed
took over half an hour, and must have seemed interminably long to
everyone in G. 13. At 4.30 the enemy made the tension still greater
by altering course some 35°. It was not until 4.49 that Lieutenant
Bradshaw found himself exactly where all commanders would wish to be,
8 points on the enemy’s bow. He estimated the U-boat’s speed at eight
knots, allowed 18° deflection accordingly, and fired twice. It was a
long shot in rough water, and he had nearly a minute to wait for the
result. Then came the longed-for sound of a heavy explosion. A column
of water leaped up, directly under the U-boat’s conning-tower, and
she disappeared instantly. Ten minutes afterwards, G. 13 was on the
surface, and making her way through a vast lake of oil, which lay
thickly upon the sea over an area of a mile. In such an oil lake a
swimmer has no margin of buoyancy, and it was not surprising that there
were no survivors to pick up. The only relics of the U-boat were some
pieces of board from her interior fittings. G. 13 completed her patrol
of twenty-eight days, and returned to her base without sighting another
enemy--she had cleared that area for a month.

A successful hunt by Lieutenant North, in command of H. 4, resembles
G. 13’s exploit in many respects, but has this picturesque difference,
that it took place in southern waters and in a bright May midnight. It
was more than forty-eight hours since H. 4 had cast off from the pens
before she sighted the quarry she was looking for, 3 points on her port
bow. The hour was 11.10 P.M. and the moon was nearly full. Lieutenant
North at once turned towards the enemy and went to night action
stations. The distance between the two boats was about 1,000 yards,
and it was desirable to reduce this to a minimum--say to 250 yards--in
order to make sure of a hit in the circumstances. The enemy was a large
U-boat and was going about 8 knots, in a course which would bring her
across H. 4 almost too directly. But she had not advanced more than
300 yards when she altered course 8 points to starboard. Lieutenant
North instantly saw his opportunity, turned first to port to cut her
off; and then, when his superior speed had made this a certainty, 8
points to starboard to close her. Within four minutes after sighting
her, he had placed himself on her port beam at the desired range
of 250 yards. He fired two torpedoes. Both hit and detonated, one
under the conning-tower, and one in the engine-room. The enemy sank
immediately--in fifteen seconds she had gone completely. Then came the
usual search for survivors, and two were eventually rescued; they were
the captain of the boat and his quartermaster. H. 4 combed out the
surrounding area thoroughly; but no more could be found; and in view
of the presence of prisoners, Lieutenant North at once returned to his
base.

It is not to our purpose to enumerate successful shots of the simple
and easy kind; one or two examples will stand for a number of these.
C. 15, for instance, sighted an enemy submarine at 2.43 on a November
afternoon, dived and flooded tubes; sighted the U-boat again in the
periscope at 3.12; at 3.15 fired at 400 yards. The noise of the
explosion was slight, but the enemy--U.C. 65--sank immediately, and
C. 15 picked up five survivors. D. 7, Commander C. G. Brodie, sank
U. 45 only twenty-two minutes after sighting her, at a range of 1,200
yards. Lieutenant A. W. Forbes, in C. 7, sighted a large U-boat on
his port quarter, at 3.32 A.M. of a dark and misty April night. He
immediately attacked on the surface, and sank her with a single shot
at 400 yards. These prompt and successful shots deserve full credit;
but every now and then some exceptional circumstance will add a special
reason for satisfaction. For example, it is always good to catch a
pirate red-handed. Lieut.-Commander G. R. S. Watkins, in E. 45, was
beginning his day’s patrol at 6.15, on a dim October morning, when
he observed flashes on his starboard bow. He altered course in that
direction, and after five minutes sighted an unhappy merchantman
under fire from a U-boat. He dived at once and approached. At 6.37,
he was near enough to see through his periscope that the vessel was
a steamer with Dutch colours painted on her side. She was a neutral,
and of course unarmed, but such considerations meant nothing to the
U-boat pirate, who had ceased fire and was coolly waiting for his
victim to sink. He was a large submarine, partially submerged, and by
way of further caution he was steering about in figures of 8, with
his gun still manned. But, for all his caution, just retribution was
upon him. Lieut.-Commander Watkins fired his first shot at 400 yards,
and missed--altered course instantly, and in little more than three
minutes fired again, from a new angle, two shots in rapid succession.
Thirty seconds afterwards, justice was done in full; a loud explosion
was heard and there was a tremendous convulsion in the water. For
the moment, E. 45 was blinded--her periscope was submerged. With a
rebound she came to the surface, saw in one quick glance that her
enemy was destroyed, and sank again to 60 feet. When she had reloaded,
and returned finally to the surface, both pirate and Dutchman had
disappeared into the depths.

[Illustration: ‘Was steering about in figures of 8, with his gun still
manned.’]

Lieut.-Commander Vincent M. Cooper, in E. 43, also had the satisfaction
of surprising an enemy at work. This was a U.C. boat, engaged not
in actually firing on merchantmen, but in the still more deadly and
murderous business of laying mines for them. When sighted by E. 43, she
had evidently just come to the surface, as men were observed on the
bridge engaged in spreading the bridge screen. Lieut.-Commander Cooper
went straight for her at full speed. But as it was 9.30 A.M., and broad
daylight, he was forced to remain submerged, and being in shallow water
he soon had to slow down. Again and again he bumped heavily on shoals,
but fortunately was never quite forced to the surface. After an hour
of this he got into deeper water, and was able to go faster. At 11.0
he rose to 24 feet, and took a sight through the periscope. There was
the enemy, about 400 yards away on his port beam. He dived, and five
minutes later came up for another sight. This time the U-boat was on
his port quarter. He turned towards her, but at the moment of attack,
when the sights were just coming on, E. 43 dipped under a big wave and
the chance was spoiled.

Her commander was not to be thrown off; he immediately increased
to full speed, altered course, and planned a fresh attack. By
11.17--nearly two hours after beginning the chase--he was in position,
2 points abaft the enemy’s beam at 550 yards’ distance. This time
he took every precaution to ensure a kill. On firing he dipped his
periscope, so that in case the boat rose suddenly nothing should be
visible; and at the same time he yawed to starboard, so as to be
ready with another tube if the first shot was a miss. Then came a
trying period of suspense and disappointment; he listened in vain for
the sound of an explosion, and after forty-five seconds raised his
periscope to see what had happened. It was only later, on communicating
with his officers and men in the forward and after compartments, that
he found, as others have found, how differently sound may affect the
different parts of a submarine when submerged. The central compartment
may be completely deafened, either by reason of its position, when a
detonation occurs directly ahead or astern, or by the much slighter
continuous noises of the various electrical machines which are situated
there. In this case, the dull report of the under-water explosion,
which was not audible to Lieut.-Commander Cooper, was heard in both the
other compartments about twenty seconds after he had fired the torpedo.

At the moment when the periscope was raised, the U-boat had
disappeared, and there was a great commotion in the water where she had
been. E. 43 hurried to the spot and found the surface covered with a
black oily substance which stuck to the glass of the periscope and put
it out of action. Lieut.-Commander Cooper rose to 20 feet and put up
his second periscope, but the U-boat was gone and had left no survivors.

E. 35 has a chase to her credit, in some respects very similar to this
one; but the story is worth adding, because of the masterly precision
with which the Commander, Lieutenant D’Oyly Hughes, conducted the
manœuvre and reported it afterwards. At 4 o’clock, on a May afternoon,
he sighted in the periscope a low-lying object two to three miles
distant on the port beam. His own boat was at 26 feet, and the
object was only visible intermittently, when on top of a wave--it
was impossible to be certain about it. He turned at once and went
straight for it, speeding up as he did so. But this led to immediate
difficulties. There was a long breaking swell across his course and
a strong wind. Depth keeping was almost impossible, and there was a
constant risk of E. 35 breaking surface and throwing away her chance.
It was necessary to go down to quieter levels, and for some time she
travelled at 40 feet with full speed on.

At 4.18, Lieutenant D’Oyly Hughes reduced speed and brought her up
again to 26 feet. His first observation, on looking into the periscope,
was that the bearing had changed; and secondly, that the floating
object was without doubt a large enemy submarine. He headed at once to
cut her off--she was making slowly off northwards--and dived to 40 feet
in order to increase to full speed himself.

After a twenty-four minutes’ run he slowed down again for periscope
observation, ordering the boat to be brought to 23 feet. This was a
very anxious moment, for the sea once more all but gave him away. The
swell rolled E. 35 up till she was actually for an instant breaking
surface, within 1,800 yards of the enemy. She was got down again to 26
feet without having been seen, and her commander then very skilfully
placed her in the trough of the sea, where he could pursue the chase
on a slightly converging course instead of following right astern.
On this course, which soon became absolutely parallel to that of the
enemy, he remained at periscope depth for another half hour; then at
5.20, observing that he was not gaining fast enough, he dived again to
40 feet and speeded up, at the same time bringing a torpedo-tube to
the ‘ready.’ At 5.35 he slowed once more for observation, and found
the range had decreased to 1,100 yards. Down he went again for another
spurt. At 5.53, he was within 900 yards; but as the parallel courses
of the two boats were only a little more than 100 yards apart, he
was ‘still very fine on enemy’s port quarter’--the shot was almost
a bow-chaser shot and practically hopeless. He dived again, and for
twenty-four more minutes patiently continued to observe and spurt
alternately.

At 6.17, a dramatic change occurred in the situation. On rising to
observe, he found that the enemy, for some irrelevant reason of her
own, had turned 16 points to starboard, and was now actually coming
back on a course which would bring her down the starboard side of
E. 35 at a distance of scarcely more than 200 yards. This was much
too close for a desirable shot--setting aside the dangers of the
explosion, it was not certain that the torpedo would have picked up its
depth correctly in so short a run, and a miss might put the U-boat on
guard. Still, to manœuvre for a fresh position would take time and the
chance was quite a possible one; the torpedo, at the end of 200 yards,
would be at any rate near picking up its depth, and might well make a
detonating hit on its upward track--it could not miss for deflection
at that range; the enemy’s length was taking up almost the whole width
of the periscope. Even if it were a miss underneath, it would probably
escape notice, especially in so heavy a sea.

Lieutenant D’Oyly Hughes took exactly one minute to perceive the change
of course and the wholly altered situation, to weigh all the above
considerations, and to make his decision. At 6.18 he fired, lowered
his periscope, put his helm hard a-starboard, and increased his speed.
The hydrophone operator heard the torpedo running on her track, but the
sound grew fainter and fainter and died away without a detonation. The
shot was a miss beneath the target; after more than two long hours, the
chase had failed.

The failure was brilliantly redeemed, and with astonishing swiftness.
To realise the swiftness and the brilliancy of the manœuvre which
followed, it is necessary to bring it vividly before the mind’s eye.
The two boats must be seen at the moment of the first shot, passing
one another at 200 yards on opposite courses, E. 35 going N.E., and
the U-boat S.W. on her starboard beam. At 6.19 the enemy turned a
little more towards E. 35, and began to steer due west under her stern,
happily still without sighting her periscope. E. 35 was on her old
course, running farther and farther away to the N.E., and there was
already some 500 yards between them. But when the U-boat took up her
westerly course, Lieutenant D’Oyly Hughes in an instant sent his boat
on a swift curve to port, turning in quick succession N., N.W., W.,
and S.W., till in less than seven minutes after missing his first shot
he was bearing down S.S.W. on the enemy, and therefore only 30 degrees
abaft her starboard beam and hardly more than 500 yards distant. By
pure luck, the unconscious U-boat had at the first critical moment
done precisely the right thing to save herself; by sheer skill, the
E-boat had been brought back to a winning position. At 6.25 Lieutenant
D’Oyly Hughes--coolly estimating speed, distance, and deflection--fired
one torpedo at his huge enemy’s fore-turret and another at her
after-turret.

Both hit where they were aimed to hit. The first made very little
noise, but threw up a large column of water and debris. The second did
not appear to the eye to produce quite so good a burst; but the noise
was louder, and the concussion felt in E. 35 was very powerful indeed,
the whole boat shaking and a few lights going out momentarily. When
the smoke and water column had cleared away, there was nothing to be
seen but a quickly expanding calm area, like a wide lake of oil with
wreckage floating in it, and three or four survivors clinging to some
woodwork. E. 35, with her sub-lieutenant, her coxswain, and one able
seaman on deck, and life-lines ready, went at once to their rescue;
but a second U-boat made her appearance at that moment, and Lieutenant
D’Oyly Hughes was obliged to dive at once. Three minutes afterwards,
a torpedo passed him on the starboard side; but the new enemy was
over two miles away, and though he reloaded his tubes and patrolled
submerged on various courses, he never succeeded in picking her up in
the periscope. She, also, had no doubt dived, and the two boats had
scarcely more chance of coming to action than two men miles apart upon
the Downs at midnight.

In such a case, only a lucky chance could bring the duellists together;
and even then successful shooting would be difficult. But a bold
submarine commander, having once closed, would improvise a new form
of attack rather than let a pirate go his way. E. 50 was commanded
by an officer of this temper when she sighted an enemy submarine,
during a patrol off the east coast. Both boats were submerged at the
time; but they recognised each other’s nationality by the different
appearance of their periscopes. The German had two--thin ones of a
light-grey colour, and with an arched window at the top, peculiar to
their Service. The British commander drove straight at the enemy at
full speed, and reached her before she had time to get down to a depth
of complete invisibility. E. 50 struck fair between the periscopes; her
stem cut through the plates of the U-boat’s shell and remained embedded
in her back. Then came a terrific fight, like the death grapple of two
primeval monsters. The German’s only chance, in his wounded condition,
was to come to the surface before he was drowned by leakage; he blew
his ballast tanks and struggled almost to the surface, bringing E. 50
up with him. The English boat countered by flooding her main ballast
tanks, and weighing her enemy down into the deep. This put the U-boat
to the desperate necessity of freeing herself, leak or no leak. For
a minute and a half she drew slowly aft, bumping E. 50’s sides as
she did so; then her effort seemed to cease, and her periscopes and
conning-towers showed on E. 50’s quarter. She was evidently filling
fast; she had a list to starboard and was heavily down by the bows. As
she sank, E. 50 took breath and looked to her own condition. She was
apparently uninjured, but she had negative buoyancy and her forward
hydroplanes were jammed, so that it was a matter of great difficulty to
get her to rise. After four strenuous minutes she was brought to the
surface, and traversed the position, searching for any further sign
of the U-boat or her crew. But nothing was seen beyond the inevitable
lake of oil, pouring up like the thick rank life-blood of the dead
sea-monster.



CHAPTER XVI

THE HUNTED


The hunter knows little, and cares little, about the feelings of the
hunted; and if he is hunting for food, or to exterminate vermin, his
indifference is not unreasonable. The submarine may be classed with
savage beasts, and is even less deserving of pity; but it is not
actually an animal, and the difference is important. It is controlled
by beings with human intelligence, speech, nerves and faculties; and
since they are our enemies, seeking our destruction while we seek
theirs, it must be of interest to us, and may be of advantage, to know
what are their feelings during the chase.

Information of this kind is not easy to obtain; but the enemy have
thought fit to publish, for their own people, a certain number of
accounts by submarine officers, and they have not been able to prevent
all of them from finding their way to this country. Here, for instance,
is an extract from the ‘War Diary of U. 202,’ by Lieut.-Commander
Freiherr Spiegel von und zu Peckelsheim.

  ‘At 4 o’clock I again came up to have a look through the
  periscope.... On our starboard bow was a large French torpedo-boat
  with 4 funnels, on the watch. There was no land in sight.

  ‘I should much have liked to sink the smart-looking Frenchman. But
  the considerable probability, that in such a position I should then
  have the whole pack hunting me, induced me to refrain. I must admit
  that I found it very hard not to utilise this opportunity for a
  shot, and very reluctantly I lowered the periscope and gave orders
  to dive. This was our salvation. If we had continued a few minutes
  longer at the level at which here one uses the periscope, I should
  not be sitting to-day smoking cigarettes and writing my experiences.

  ‘We were still diving, and the depth-gauge showed 17 metres (56
  feet). Suddenly we all had the sensation of having been struck on
  the head with a hammer. For a second we lost consciousness; then we
  picked ourselves up from the deck, or from the corners into which
  we had been thrown, feeling pains in our heads, shoulders, and
  other parts of our bodies. The whole boat throbbed and trembled.
  Were we still alive? What had happened? Why was it so dark, black
  as night? Ah! the light was out!

  ‘“Examine the fuse!”

  ‘“Fuse gone!”

  ‘“Put in spare fuse!”

  ‘Suddenly we had light again. This was all a matter of seconds,
  happening in far less time than it takes to describe it.

  ‘What had happened? Was it really not the end of us? Was not the
  water rushing into the boat somewhere, and carrying us down to the
  bottom? It must have been a mine--a tremendous mine detonation
  close to the boat. Reports were made automatically from all
  compartments. “Bow compartment not making water; stern compartment
  all right; engine-room no water.” No water anywhere!

  ‘Then the boat inclined itself at a peculiar angle--the bow went
  down and the stern rose up. The boat was unaccountably trimmed by
  the bow, although the hydroplanes were hard over in the opposite
  direction.

  ‘“There is something wrong, sir,” reported the man at the
  diving-wheel. “The boat won’t answer to her helm. We must be hung
  up somewhere, by a rope, or perhaps a net!”

  ‘The devil! We are in a net, of course, and above us there are
  mines secured to the net. It is enough to drive one out of one’s
  mind.

  ‘“Pay attention!” I shouted from the conning-tower. “We have got to
  get through! Hydroplanes hard up and hard down, utmost speed ahead
  with both engines! Don’t let her rise! Whatever happens, keep down!
  There are mines above us!”

  ‘The engines started, revolving at their highest revolutions. The
  boat shot forward, caught in the net, strained against it, bored
  itself a way downwards, tugged, tore, and finally left the wire net
  all ripped apart.

  ‘“Hurrah! We are free! The boat answers to her helm!” cried the
  helmsman from below.

  ‘“Go deeper, dive to 50 metres (164 feet),” I ordered. “This is an
  evil spot hereabouts--it is hell itself.”

  ‘I sat down on the life-saving apparatus and buried my head in
  my hands. Everything was going round with me like a mill-wheel.
  Above my eyes I had a pain as though needles were sticking into my
  forehead, and I had such a humming in my ears that I stopped them
  up with my fingers.

  ‘“This is certainly an evil spot,” I repeated to myself, “but what
  luck we had, most extraordinary luck, which has saved us!”

  ‘Some time elapsed before the pains in my head allowed me to fit
  things together and understand what had happened. Yes, it was
  pure luck that we had dived just in time. We were at a depth of
  17 metres when the explosion occurred, our bows touching the net.
  Things grew clearer and clearer to me as I thought them over.

  ‘When we hit against the net we stretched it taut and thus actuated
  the mine detonators, the mines being attached to the net at the
  depth at which a submarine usually proceeds. If we had attempted
  to attack the torpedo-boat, or for any other reasons had remained
  a little longer at the depth at which the periscope can be used,
  we should have run into the net in just the way that the enemy
  would have wished--viz., so that the mines would have exploded
  alongside or underneath us. What actually happened was that the
  mine exploded above us, and the main force was expended in the line
  of least resistance (viz., upwards), and we suffered nothing more
  than a fearful fright, and perhaps a few disfigurements to the thin
  plating of the superstructure.’

U. 202 was certainly lucky this time. And though she was saved by
sheer luck and nothing else, it is not unnatural, considering the
ever-growing roll of those which fail to escape, that Lieut.-Commander
Freiherr Spiegel von und zu Peckelsheim should enlarge upon his
terror at the moment and his self-congratulation afterwards. But he
is mistaken if he thinks that he has come through the worst that can
happen to a submarine commander. His struggle in the net was short and
easy, when compared with the feats of a Bruce or a Cochrane in passing
and repassing the barrage off Kilid Bahr; and the jar he got from
his mine seems to have affected his head more than his boat. In older
navies, and among less excitable nations, these things are reported
more quietly--more from a professional than a sensational point of
view. ‘I think,’ writes Commander Courtney Boyle of a very similar
accident, ‘I must have caught the moorings of a mine with my tail as I
was turning, and exploded it ... the whole boat was very badly shaken.’
Not a word more about it, though his cruise continued for more than ten
days afterwards. Without disparaging the German officer (who no doubt
shares the national temperament, and knows how to move his audience),
we may take pleasure in noting that the steadiness of nerve and the
scientific view are in our favour. Given anything like a fair fight,
and a reasonable time for play, it will not be the Peckelsheims who
will win against our men.

An experience of another kind is described in a number of the
_Illustrierte Zeitung_ of July 12, 1917. The date of the engagement was
February 22, in the same year.

  ‘Just at dinner time the watch reports a tank steamer in an E.N.E.
  direction, steering a course approximately towards the boat. Masts,
  bridge and funnel are visible above the horizon. Tank steamers are
  very hard to sink, as they have stray bulkheads fitted to keep
  their volatile cargo in check. The torpedo must hit the aftermost
  engine to stop the tank steamer. The periscope must only be shown
  occasionally for a very short time, so as not to alarm her. The
  torpedo is fired at 700 metres (765 yards) away, the submarine
  comes to the surface and fires a shot from her forward gun, as a
  signal to stop. The steamer understands, lowers two boats, and the
  crew abandon ship. Steam is blown off in a high white column. The
  master appears to be a sensible man, who does not intend to expose
  himself to shell fire for no purpose. The submarine approaches
  submerged and takes stock of the vessel--a black tank steamer,
  grey superstructure, no guns--the naval patent log hanging over
  the stern. The submarine then makes for the boats. As soon as they
  see her periscope, they hastily pull away. At length the submarine
  finds a favourable position to come to the surface, outside the
  boats, so that the latter are in the line of fire. She rises to
  the surface, with compressed air in her midship diving-tanks, the
  conning-tower hatch is opened and the process of blowing out the
  tanks begins. The boats have pulled away a little further, and just
  as they are being hailed there is a flash from the steamer.

  ‘A submarine trap! Alarm. Flood tanks, dive rapidly! The seconds
  seem interminable. The superstructure abaft the conning-tower is
  penetrated, and hardly has the hatch been closed when there is a
  sharp report in the conning-tower, a yellow flash, and explosive
  gases fill the air. A shell has penetrated the side of the
  conning-tower and exploded inside. All the fittings are shattered
  by splinters; there is a sound of breaking glass. Another shell
  will fall directly and that will be the end of the war for us.
  Water is splashing in through the shot hole; the boat is sinking
  into the shelter of the deep. The conning-tower is cleared, the
  inner hatch and voice-pipe cock are closed, and the leads laid into
  the control room.

  ‘“Anyone injured in the conning-tower?” Only one, very slightly;
  but their faces are black and their clothes look as though they had
  seen service.

  ‘At 20 metres (65 feet) there are two sharp explosions, and the
  boat trembles. The “poor shipwrecked men” have thrown depth-charges
  after us. A few of the lights go out, and further damage to the
  main switchboard is averted by timely action. The conning-tower is
  filling. In theory the boat can still remain afloat, but no one has
  yet survived to tell us how. The increasing weight causes the boat
  to sink to 40 metres (131 feet) in spite of her being down by the
  stern and with the engines at utmost speed. Water spurts through
  the leaky places, and, owing to short circuits, half the lights
  and important machinery break down successively--gyro compass,
  main rudder, forward hydroplane (which, to make matters worse,
  jams at ‘hard down’), trimming pumps, and all control apparatus.
  The tricolour captured from the full-rigged ship _La Bayonne_ is
  pressed into service to plug the leak. The boat must be lightened
  by compressed air in the after and amidship diving tanks, and
  brought on to an even keel. She rises, certainly, but is more down
  by the stern than ever. The after compressed air service breaks
  down. We must avoid coming to the surface, whatever happens, for up
  above the enemy is lying in wait to fire at us. At 20 metres (65
  feet) the diving-tank valves are opened, and all available men sent
  forward, in order that their weight may cause the bow to sink. The
  boat sinks by the bow, and the manœuvre is repeated. In another
  twenty minutes it becomes impossible to proceed submerged. There
  is now only one, not very promising, alternative--to come to the
  surface suddenly and run away, firing as we go.

  ‘“Compressed air in all the tanks, open galley ventilator, man the
  guns, Diesel engines ready, and put to utmost speed as soon as
  possible.”

  ‘The boat comes to the surface, the galley hatch is opened. A
  torrent of water rushes down; never mind, we shall have to swim
  for it directly, anyhow. Now the way is clear to the surface.
  The steamer is about 25 hms. (2734 yards) away, and firing as
  fast as she can. “You haven’t got us yet--not by a long way!”
  The guns quickly reply. Any result? The telescopic sights are
  still in the flooded conning-tower. The M.A.N. motors are quickly
  started--much more quickly than is permissible, but when all
  is staked on one card there is no help for it. All the men who
  are not occupied below are bringing up supply ammunition. The
  sub-lieutenant suddenly feels his feet blown away from under him,
  and staggers through a cloud of smoke against the gun. Poor fellow,
  he has probably had both legs shot away. But no, only a few small
  splinters--nothing more! The shell passed between the legs of
  the foremost gunlayer, the drum of his ear was perforated by the
  report, and there are some lumps and holes in the ready ammunition.
  The shells pass through, close to the men; they look like black
  specks in the air just before they fall. One of the railing
  supports is shattered. A Leipzig man is standing in the stern at
  the hand-wheel, steering calmly by the verbal directions of the
  navigating warrant-officer--the compasses can no longer be used.

  ‘The telescopic sights can now be recovered from the conning-tower.
  There is a report, “Destroyer to starboard.” Quite right. She is
  proceeding on a parallel course at 80 hms. (8750 yards) and the
  fire of her four guns mingles with that of the tank steamer. A
  destroyer like that has a speed of over 30 knots, and carries
  4-inch guns.

  ‘“On lifebelts!” Below the horizon, in a S.S.E. direction, there
  must be a sailing-vessel; we sighted one this morning. Perhaps
  the boat may be able to reach her, so as to save the crew from a
  _Baralong_ fate.

  ‘The guns’ crews have become so deaf from the noise of their own
  guns that it is only possible to direct one gun by verbal orders.
  The decoy ship is now so far away that there is no further need
  to fire at her. Open fire on the new foe then! This is not a
  destroyer, however, but a “submarine-destroyer” of the _Foxglove_
  class, about twice the size of the submarine, but no faster. At
  the same moment the second-engineer reports that he can repair the
  damaged conning-tower, and our hopes soar as far as neutral Spain.

  ‘“Open fire at 70 hms. (7655 yards)!” Soon the columns of water
  from the shells, as high as the funnels, mark the fall of the
  shots, and the enemy begins to zigzag to avoid the troublesome
  shells, thereby interfering with the aim of her own guns. Suddenly
  the superstructure is enveloped in black smoke. A hit! Another!
  Several shells do not throw up a column of water; they must have
  buried themselves in her hull. Now she turns away, escapes from the
  zone of fire, and then follows in our wake.

  ‘The damage caused by the short circuit is repaired, ammunition
  put ready beside the guns, and, like Wellington at Waterloo, we
  await the coming of night. Our pursuer must have reported the
  engagement by wireless, with position and course. Soon destroyers
  will appear and compel the submarine to submerge. The leaking oil
  supply will leave a track of oil on the surface, and indicate where
  depth-charges should be dropped.

  ‘The wireless aerial, which has been shot away, is repaired in
  order to keep an eye on the enemy’s signals. Nothing to be heard.
  A lucky shot must have destroyed our pursuer’s wireless, and
  she cannot report. All the men who are not occupied below are
  on deck smoking, discussing their impressions, experiences, and
  premonitions; dreams, uncomfortable forebodings, fortune-telling
  from cards, and all the means--such as green frogs--by which old
  fortune-tellers and ancient augurs used to foretell the future.

  ‘The sun is sinking below the horizon; the chase has already lasted
  more than three hours. The decoy ship has long passed out of sight,
  and no new enemies have appeared. Suddenly shells begin falling
  close by. The _Foxglove_ means to have another try as long as the
  light holds, and we feel that this is an impertinence. “Man the
  guns!”

  ‘Again the after gun carries off the honours of the engagement.
  The rounds follow close on one another: sometimes three shells are
  in the air at once. They will soon reach their target; the enemy
  again tries to zigzag. Range and deflection are quickly adjusted,
  and the shells leave her no peace. Once again that beautiful cloud
  of black smoke envelopes her superstructure and several others fail
  to raise the expected column of water. The enemy has ceased firing;
  she turns sharply away at 92 hms. (10,000 yards), and follows us
  only at a respectful distance. An hour later she disappears in the
  darkness.’

The deliberately false German _communiqués_, and even the more
craftily composed stories in their press, are, as a rule, distinguished
only for their clumsiness and bad psychology. But this is a vivid and
quite possible account, and, if the details are accurate, the commander
of the submarine had a most trying experience and brought his boat
home by great luck. It is hard to imagine a moment more desperate than
that in which, after struggling to the surface and escaping from the
Q-boat’s guns, he heard the report of ‘Destroyer to starboard,’ and
knew that he could neither dive nor run from such an enemy. A good
deal might have been made of this by a more inventive writer; the
simple comment ‘Quite right!’ is much more convincing than any highly
coloured phrase, and is almost enough by itself to prove the narrative
genuine. Another intense moment lightly touched is that in which the
deadly ‘destroyer’ turns out to be only the little 10-knot patrol boat
_Alyssum_, with her small guns, and a flight for bare life becomes
suddenly a successful repulse of the enemy. It is noticeable, too, that
the commander is not once mentioned, and all his orders are given as
uttered rather than as heard; the narrator, moreover, is familiar with
the story of Wellington at Waterloo, and makes a country gentleman’s
joke about missing a hare. On the whole, I think it is plain that we
have here a true account.

Stories such as this are hard to come by, for the hunted seldom escape
so narrowly and with so good a tale to tell. But our own records show
at least one case of the kind, and it is one in which the crew of the
submarine passed through an even severer trial, for they were hunted by
their own side and had not the joy of a good fighting chance to sustain
them.

In August, 1917, Lieut.-Commander V. M. Cooper, in command of one of
H.M. submarines, was ordered to patrol a neighbouring coast, close in,
between certain parallels. He was warned not to arrive on his billet
before 10 A.M., for the very good reason that some of our own light
forces were conducting operations in that direction during the night,
and might be met returning at any time in the early morning. It must be
remembered that when such a meeting does occur, no system of signalling
is to be relied on for safety. A submarine will always be attacked on
sight by any ship, friend or enemy, for she is a danger too deadly to
be given a moment’s chance. Her colours, if she show any, may be false,
and only a seaplane can afford her the time necessary for answering a
private signal. Commander Cooper knew all about this. He decided to
arrive on his billet about noon, when the risk would presumably be over.

At 8 o’clock, then, on the finest summer morning of the year, Commander
Cooper was making his passage at normal surface speed, when the horizon
on his starboard bow began to be delicately shaded by faint pencilled
lines. Ten minutes more and a number of ships were visible, two points
on the bow, and five to six miles away. They were immediately in the
sun, and blurred by the haze, so that it was impossible to detect their
nationality. They might be our own squadron, coming back unexpectedly
early, or more likely a hostile force running from them. The only
thing certain was that they had sighted the submarine and were bent on
her destruction, for they were all bows on, bearing down upon her at
high speed--destroyers and cruisers--throwing up clouds of dense black
smoke.

Commander Cooper was in no indecent hurry, but he knew what he had to
do. He must get down, or be put down. Moreover, he must get well down;
for the water was very clear, and the sea flat calm, without a ripple.
After a last look at the charging squadron he dived to ninety feet,
changing his course to 185°.

His troubles began at once: the helm was reported jammed--it was
amidships. He sent the first-lieutenant to inspect, the report was
that the gear was all correct--the jamming seemed to be due to the
tightening of the rudder-post gland, either from external pressure,
or from some distortion of the after compartment of the ship. In any
case, nothing could be done for the moment, and there were plenty of
distractions coming. At 8.37 the sound of propellers was recorded on
the hydrophone--the destroyers were passing from port to starboard
overhead, like hounds abreast trying to pick up a scent.

One of them, must have thought she had hit it off, for a tremendous
explosion shook the submarine--a depth-charge had been dropped not far
behind her, shaking her stern violently. In her steering flat, the
first-lieutenant and his men were lifted bodily off their feet. The
commander continued his dive, and to his great comfort took bottom at
125 feet on the gauge.

Within three minutes of the first explosion, a second one followed.
It was equally violent, and to Commander Cooper appeared even louder;
but he told himself that this effect was probably due to the relative
position of the bomb, which had apparently detonated in a line with the
conning-tower. As he was himself in the control-room, in the centre of
the ship, the explosion would naturally sound louder, being on the
starboard beam instead of aft.

The boat was well built, and the commander had perfect confidence in
her. This was not his first experience of the kind. Exactly a year
before, he had been out in the Cattegat in an E-boat and had met ‘a
wrong un’--a _Greif_ or _Möwe_, which had opened fire on him with four
6-inch guns at 2000 yards and straddled him at once. The boat had to
dive as she was, in complete surface trim. Shot after shot fell close
to her; she was shaken by explosives and struck by splinters. Finally a
6-inch shell came alongside and threw up a huge column of water which
fell plump on the commander as he descended through the hatch. Part of
it accompanied him down the ladder, but he had the presence of mind to
draw the lid down behind him, and he and his boat lived to tell the
tale. So he knew that a British submarine can stand a shock or two. But
what made him really anxious was the question--which he hoped would
occur to no one else on board--why did those two depth-charges fall so
near one another: why did the enemy drop the second so close to the
first? The horrible suspicion came into his mind that his position was
being given away by something that he could only guess at--some noise
or some escape of air bubbles or oil which was reaching the surface.

[Illustration: ‘A huge column of water which fell plump on the
commander.’]

What was to be done? Nothing, but to lie closer than ever, and enjoy
the calm of the man who has done all that is possible. The order was
given to stop all motors, even the Sperry motor for running the gyro
compass. All vent valves, and other possible leaking places, were
inspected and reported tight.

Then came the third explosion, the most violent of all. Lights went
out suddenly, and the crew--groping in darkness--thought that the end
had come.

For a moment the ship seemed to be stunned; then the lights reappeared.
They had not been injured, but the shock had thrown all the
chopper-switches on the auxiliary switchboard to the ‘Off’ position.
Not a trace of a leak could be discovered--the ship was alive still,
and without a mortal wound. In her commander’s judgment it would take a
direct hit, or something very near it, to kill her.

Perhaps the most trying time of all was that which now followed. What
happened? Nothing happened. It was that which was so trying. From
9.5 A.M., when the third depth-charge exploded, till 4.7 P.M., the
submarine lay motionless on the sea-bed; no one on board knew when
it would be safe to move, or even whether it would be possible at
all--for both helm and hydroplanes were jammed and other defects might
be discovered. This was a test of moral stability as severe as any yet
recorded, even in the submarine service, and it is not surprising that
Commander Cooper was eventually ordered to add to his report a special
statement on the moral effects of the strain upon his ship’s company.
He reported accordingly, not in the picturesque style of the German
officer, exhilarated by his successful fight, but with the brevity
of a man of science and the simplicity of a narrator who has nothing
to prove. The behaviour of the officers he assumes without a word;
that of the men, he says, was admirable. Naturally it varied with the
individual; the older and more experienced men observed the demeanour
of their officers, and were content to abide by it; the younger ones
showed more difference, each in accordance with his temperament; but
they, too, did excellently, and having been assured that all was well,
the whole company settled down to read or to occupy themselves in other
ways. In the majority of cases the events of the day had no permanent
effect, though for a short time afterwards some of the men would start
on being wakened or touched suddenly by others. As to himself, the
commander declares that he thought the chances of being destroyed by
depth-charges small. To retain this opinion in the circumstances was
a proof of remarkable constancy; the constancy of the ‘man convinced
against his will’ in the proverb. And he felt at the time, as he
frankly says, that he would much rather remain on the surface and
engage an enemy, however large, and at all costs, than endure the
strain of a further experience of the kind. It would be likely, he
thought, to affect the judgment for some days, causing a tendency to
act over-cautiously or over-rashly.

None the less he carried on. At 4.7 the submarine left the bottom and
rose to a depth of 28 feet; at 8.35 in the evening she came to the
surface and proceeded to her billet. There she carried out the duties
of her patrol, and six days later, ‘at 1 P.M., British Summer Time,’
she returned to her base.

Of the hunted who do not return to their base we cannot hope to hear
much. But there was a smart engagement towards the end of 1917 between
an American convoy-escort and a German submarine, of which accounts
have been given by both sides, those above water and those below. The
convoy was approaching our shores towards dusk of a November afternoon
when the attack was made. The U-boat’s periscope--a ‘finger’ one,
of only two inches diameter--was sighted by the U.S.S. (destroyer)
_Fanning_, which was at the moment turning to port at a speed of about
fifteen knots. The submarine was 3 points on the _Fanning’s_ port bow,
distant about 400 yards, and going some two knots. The other destroyers
had just passed the spot where she was seen; the second of these,
U.S.S. _Nicholson_, was now on the _Fanning’s_ starboard bow, and very
handy for what was to follow. The commander of the _Fanning_, in order
to continue his swing to port, put his helm hard over and at the same
time increased speed to full. The periscope, of course, disappeared
instantly. But every eye on the _Fanning_ had marked her position.
The commander, when he had turned about 30°, ported his helm so as to
bring his ship right over the desired place, slightly ahead of the
periscope’s last position, and there he dropped a depth-charge, within
three minutes of the first alarm. It was a fine piece of work, and, as
it turned out, a decisive stroke.

Nothing was seen for the moment, beyond the upheaval of water caused by
the detonation. The _Fanning_ continued to turn under starboard helm;
the _Nicholson_ altered course to starboard, turned, and headed for the
spot where the charge had been dropped, intending, no doubt, to drop a
shot of her own in the same place. She could not have made a luckier
move. The conning-tower of the submarine suddenly broke surface between
her and the convoy, about 500 yards from where it had disappeared. The
boat was one of the new large-type U-boats, and was evidently hit, for
she could neither submerge properly nor keep an even keel, but went
rolling up and down like a gigantic porpoise in the direction of the
convoy. The two destroyers headed for her at full speed; _Nicholson_,
who was, of course, leading, passed over her, dropped her depth-charge,
and turned to port, firing three rounds from her stern gun into the
wash. Once more the enemy’s bow came up with a bound. This time he made
a desperate effort to keep on the surface, and struggled along at two
knots, being about 30° down by the stern. Finally he righted himself,
no doubt by filling tanks and crowding men forward, and his speed
seemed to increase. But by this time _Fanning’s_ guns were speaking to
him in unmistakable language; after the third shot the hatch opened, a
white shirt was waved, and the whole crew came on deck holding up their
hands.

[Illustration: ‘The submarine suddenly broke surface.’]

It was now 4.28; the fight had taken no more than eighteen minutes from
first to last, and ten minutes later the U-boat sank. Her crew had
opened the sea valves and nearly paid the penalty, for they were all in
the water before they could be got off to the destroyer, and one who
could not swim was rescued by two chivalrous Americans. They jumped
into the dark, cold sea for him, forgetting all about the German rules
of war, and were disappointed when he died on deck.

The account given by the survivors was full of interest. They
were forty-one in number, including a captain-lieutenant, a
first-lieutenant, a lieutenant and a chief-engineer. The boat had
come straight from her base for the express purpose of attacking this
particular convoy, and had been lying in wait for two days, paying
no attention to any other ships. She carried twelve torpedoes, and
she carries them still, for not one had been fired when she went
down. The first depth-charge from _Fanning_ had been practically a
direct hit; it had wrecked her motors, diving gear, and oil leads, and
sent her diving entirely out of control to a depth of 200 feet. The
commanding officer thought at first that he would never be able to
stop her, and that she would go on until the deep-sea pressure burst
her sides in. He had only one possible course--he blew out all his
four water-ballast tanks at once. This stopped the dive but brought
the boat back to the surface with a rush and made her unmanageable.
One witness in the destroyers says that she ‘leaped clear of the water
like a breaching whale.’ It was then that _Nicholson_ overtook her and
dropped the second depth-charge; but even without this the end was
inevitable, for in her porpoise-like gambols she could have been shot
or rammed with certainty. Given a sufficient supply of patrol boats and
depth-charges in the submarine chase there will be but few and evil
days for the hunted. The American naval authorities have grasped this
truth at once and founded a building policy upon it. The boats will
be provided in any number, and if they are handled as the _Fanning_
and _Nicholson_ were handled, the U-boat will spend her short life in
dodging a perpetual bombardment.

That the end of the pirate, when it does come, is terrible, may easily
be conjectured, but probably no imagination could give any idea of
the actual experience. There is, however, in existence a narrative,
compiled by a neutral from the evidence of two Germans who survived,
by an extraordinary chance, the destruction of their ship. These men
were among the crew of a U-boat of the largest and newest type, one of
the last to come out of Zeebrugge before the harbour was bottled up by
the _Intrepid_ and _Iphigenia_. She had not gone far from port when she
hit a mine and exploded it. The shock was severe, but did not at once
appear to be fatal. The electric switches were thrown out of position,
the lights in some compartments went out, and the vessel began to sink
rapidly by the stern; but the lighting did not take long to restore,
and the crew were immediately ordered to trim the boat by making a
combined rush forward. This manœuvre was successful in bringing her
to an even keel, but by no effort could she be induced to rise to the
surface.

Now began the terror; the plating of the ship had been shaken and
forced apart by the explosion; water was pouring in; the leaks were
rapidly enlarging, and all attempts to stop them failed. In very few
minutes the boat would be filled either with water or with chlorine
gas from the batteries. It was hardly possible to escape from the
death-trap; but there was one desperate chance, if the conning-tower
and forward hatches could be forced open against the pressure of the
sea.

The commanding officer and the chief engineer entered the conning-tower
and ordered their men to open one of the forward hatches. If this could
be done, though the crew would have little hope of pushing their way up
through the incoming torrent, the air-pressure inside the boat would
be so greatly increased that the officers would be probably enabled
to open the conning-tower and escape. But the outside pressure was
too great for the hatch to be moved. The most violent efforts were
made, the men working in relays and using their strength desperately,
while their companions urged them on with terrible cries. Meantime it
was becoming more and more difficult to breathe; the salt water was
penetrating the batteries and giving off chlorine gas. The stern of the
vessel was now fully flooded and the internal air pressure was rapidly
increasing as the free space grew less. The moment of suffocation was
near. But the hatch could not be raised.

At this point, some of the crew lost control and behaved like madmen.
They crammed cotton waste into their ears and nostrils, and plunged
beneath the water, which was now knee-deep. One man turned his revolver
upon himself; it missed fire; he hurled it from him and plunged after
his comrades. One, who still kept his head, with a final effort forced
open one of the torpedo tubes and let in the water to end the struggle
one way or another. Hope returned for a moment. The internal air
pressure increased to such a pitch that the conning-tower and forward
hatch could both be opened. Officers and men sprang and fought their
way upwards through the inrush.

Perhaps twenty in all made their way out of the ship; but it was only
passing from one death to another. Human lungs are not adapted for
the sudden change from a deep-sea pressure to surface conditions. The
shrieks of these unfortunate men were heard by a trawler which happened
to be passing near; but before she could reach them all were dead but
two, and those two were broken men, bleeding from the lungs and crushed
in spirit. They had digged a cruel pit and fallen into the midst of it
themselves.



CHAPTER XVII

ZEEBRUGGE AND OSTEND


We have long been regretting that the work and the fame of our
Submarine Service are for the most part hushed to a kind of undertone.
We cannot speak of them as we wish, lest the enemy should overhear
and profit by information which he is unable to get for himself. But
there are victories that cannot be concealed--blows which must and
will reverberate, now and for ages to come. The work of the Navy at
Ostend and Zeebrugge may openly be spoken of as it deserves. And this
is fortunate; for nations, like men, ‘live by admiration, hope and
love,’ and admiration is not the least powerful of the three elements.
The double attack of St. George’s Day achieved not only a diminution of
the enemy’s strength, but an increase of our own. All over the world we
heard it hailed as a great feat of arms, and a proof of mastery; even
our own hearts were stronger for being so vividly reminded that our
seamen are what they have always been--the greatest fighting men alive.

The very conception of this attack was in itself conclusive evidence of
a high heroic spirit. The enterprise was not a wild-cat scheme, it was
both possible and useful, but it was one from which no man or officer
could expect to return. It was planned in November 1917, a month in
which the long and splendid work of our anti-submarine division was
rapidly advancing to success. The imagination of the Service rose with
the rising tide, and it was determined that the pirates should be not
only hunted down at sea, but harried and blocked in their principal
submarine sally-ports.

These ports had, during the past two years, become more and more
important to the U-boat campaign, and had therefore been more and more
strongly guarded and fortified against attack. The section of coast
upon which they lie had a system of defensive batteries, which included
no less than 120 heavy guns, some of them of 15-inch calibre. A battery
of these was upon the Mole at Zeebrugge--a solid stone breakwater
more than a mile long, which contained also a railway terminus, a
seaplane station, huge sheds for personnel and material, and, at the
extreme seaward end, a lighthouse with searchlight and range-finder.
An attacking force must reckon with a large number of defenders upon
the Mole alone, besides the batteries and reinforcements on shore,
and the destroyers and other ships in the harbour. But the attack on
the Mole was an indispensable part of the enterprise; for the enemy’s
attention must be diverted from the block-ships, which were to arrive
during the fight and sink themselves in the mouth of the canal. And in
order to deal satisfactorily with the Mole, it must be cut off from the
reinforcements on shore by the destruction of the railway viaduct which
formed the landward end of it.

That was not all. The main difficulty of the plan was the management
of the approach and return of the expedition. The conditions were
extremely severe. First, the attacking force must effect a complete
surprise and reach the Mole before the guns of the defence could
be brought to bear upon them. The enemy searchlights must therefore
be put out of action, as far as possible, by an artificial fog or
smoke-screen; but again, this must not be dense enough to obscure
the approach entirely. Secondly, the work must be done in very short
time, and to the minute; for though the attack might be a surprise,
the return voyage must be made under fire. The shore batteries were
known to have a destructive range of sixteen miles; to clear out of
the danger zone would take the flotilla two hours, and daylight would
begin by 3.30 A.M. It was, therefore, necessary to leave the Mole by
1.30; and as, for similar reasons, it was impossible to arrive before
midnight, an hour and a half was all that the time-table could allow
for fighting, blocking, and getting away again. To do things as exactly
as this, a night must be chosen when wind, weather and tide would all
be favourable. We need not be surprised at hearing that the expedition
had twice before started and been compelled to return without reaching
its objective--once it was actually within fifteen miles of the
Mole--but fortunately the Germans, having no efficient patrol at
sea, got no hint of what was being planned; and in the end were so
completely taken by surprise, that some of their guns when captured had
not even had the covers removed from them!

The attack was to be conducted by Vice-Admiral Roger Keyes, commanding
at Dover. The force employed was a large and composite one which
required masterly handling. The Ostend expedition was a comparatively
simple affair; but for Zeebrugge there were needed, besides the
principal ships, a fleet of smoke-boats for making fog, motor launches
for showing flares and bringing off men in difficulties, monitors
for bombarding the batteries, and destroyers for looking after the
enemy ships lying in harbour, besides a submarine of which we shall
hear more presently. The landing on the Mole was to be made from
_Vindictive_, an old light cruiser of 5720 tons, and she was to be
accompanied by two old Mersey ferry-boats, _Daffodil_ and _Iris_, with
storming and demolition parties. The three destroyers were _North
Star_ (Lieut.-Commander K. C. Helyar), _Phœbe_ (Lieut.-Commander H. E.
Gore-Langton), and _Warwick_, in which the Admiral himself was flying
his flag for the occasion.

It need not be said, except for the pleasure of saying it, that the
name of every officer present is worth remembering. Those who died,
gave their lives to secure a victory as effective and gallant as any
recorded, even in our naval history. Those who returned are marked men,
to whom their country will never look in vain for sound and brilliant
service. It is an inspiring thought that while their action was unique,
they themselves were not. The British Navy is full of such men, and
we may jostle them in the corridors of the Admiralty every day in the
year. Anyone who happened to be near Room 24 on the morning of Monday,
April 22, might have seen two officers come out who bore no sign of
a destiny more heroic than the rest. Yet they were, in fact, Captain
Alfred Carpenter, who had been selected to command _Vindictive_, and
Wing-Commander Brock, who was to create the magic fog, and whose
mysterious fate is one of the most heroic and moving episodes of the
fight.

To Captain Carpenter we owe the best account yet given of the
expedition. If we read the main portion of it, and supplement it with a
few notes, we shall get as near to realising the achievement as anyone
without experience or expert knowledge can do. ‘At last,’ he says, ‘the
opportunity we had waited for so long arose, and everybody started off
in the highest spirits, and with no other thought than to make the very
greatest success of the operation. Fate was very kind to us on the
whole, and everything went well--almost as per schedule. The various
phases depended on accurate timing of the work of the various units.
The smoke-screen craft and the fast motor-boats, at given intervals,
rushed on ahead at full speed, laid their smoke-screens, attacked
enemy vessels with torpedoes, and generally cleared the way for the
main force, in addition to hiding the approach of the latter from the
shore batteries. Meanwhile a heavy bombardment was being carried out
by our monitors, and the sound of their firing, as we approached, was
one of the most heartening things that I can remember. On arriving
at a certain point some considerable distance from shore, the forces
parted, some going to Zeebrugge and some to Ostend, the idea being
that the forces should arrive at the two places simultaneously, so
that communication from one place to the other could not be used as a
warning in either case. Precisely at midnight (the scheduled time) the
main force arrived at Zeebrugge and two of the block-ships arrived at
Ostend. The Admiral’s signal before going into action was “St George
for England!” and the reply from _Vindictive_ was “May we give the
Dragon’s tail a damned good twist!”

  ‘At midnight we steamed through a very thick smoke-screen. German
  star shells were lighting up the whole place almost like daylight,
  and one had an extraordinary naked feeling when one saw how exposed
  we were, although it was in the middle of the night. On emerging
  from the smoke-screen the end of the Mole, where the lighthouse
  is, was seen close ahead, distant about 400 yards. The ship was
  turned immediately to go alongside, and increased to full speed so
  as to get there as fast as possible. We had decided not to open
  fire from the ship until they opened fire on us, so that we might
  remain unobserved till the last possible moment. A battery of five
  or six guns on the Mole began firing at us almost immediately, from
  a range of about 300 yards, and every gun on the _Vindictive_ that
  would bear fired at them as hard as it could. (Ours were 6-inch
  guns and 12-pounders.)

  ‘In less than five minutes the ship was alongside the Mole, and
  efforts were made to grapple the Mole, so as to keep the ship in
  place. The _Iris_ was ahead. The _Daffodil_, which was following
  close astern, came up and in the most gallant manner placed her
  bow against the _Vindictive_ and pushed the _Vindictive_ sideways,
  until she was close alongside the Mole. There was a very heavy
  swell against the Mole; the ships were rolling about, and this made
  the work of securing to the Mole exceedingly difficult.’

_Vindictive_ was specially fitted along the port side with a high false
deck, from which ran eighteen brows or gangways, by which the storming
parties were to land. The men were standing ready, but before the word
was given a shell killed Colonel Bertram Elliot of the Marines, and
Captain Henry Halahan (who was commanding the blue-jackets) fell to
machine-gun fire. But no losses could stop the stormers.

  ‘When the brows were run out from the _Vindictive_, the men at once
  climbed out along them. It was an extremely perilous task, in view
  of the fact that the ends of the brows at one moment were from
  eight to ten feet above the wall, and the next moment were crashing
  on the wall as the ship rolled. The way in which the men got over
  those brows was almost super-human. I expected every moment to see
  them falling off between the Mole and the ship--at least a 30-feet
  drop--and being crushed by the ship against the wall. But not a
  man fell--their agility was wonderful. It was not a case of seamen
  running barefoot along the deck of a rolling ship; the men were
  carrying heavy accoutrements, bombs, Lewis guns and other articles,
  and their path lay along a narrow and extremely unsteady plank.
  (Of these plank brows only two were uninjured by the enemy’s fire;
  the rest were riddled.) They never hesitated; they went along the
  brows, and onto the Mole with the utmost possible speed. Within a
  few minutes three to four hundred had been landed, and under cover
  of a barrage put down on the Mole by Stokes guns and howitzer fire
  from the ships, they fought their way along.

  ‘Comparatively few of the German guns were able to hit the hull of
  the ship, as it was behind the protection of the wall. Safety, in
  fact, depended on how near you could get to the enemy guns, instead
  of how far away. While the hull was guarded, the upper works of
  the ship--the funnels, masts, ventilators and bridge--were showing
  above the wall, and upon these a large number of German guns
  appeared to be concentrated. Many of our casualties were caused by
  splinters coming down from the upper works. (One shell burst in the
  Stokes battery, another destroyed the flame-throwing house, and a
  third killed every man in the fighting top except one--Sergeant
  Finch, who was badly wounded, but kept his machine-gun going
  and won the V.C. for it.) If it had not been for the _Daffodil_
  continuing to push the ship in towards the wall throughout the
  operation, none of the men who went on the Mole would ever have got
  back again.’

But _Daffodil’s_ men jumped across to _Vindictive_, and so joined the
storming party. _Iris_, in the meantime, was trying to grapple the Mole
ahead of _Vindictive_; but her grapnels were not large enough to span
the parapet, and two most gallant officers--Lieut.-Commander Bradford
and Lieut. Hawkins--who climbed up and sat astride the parapet trying
to make them fast, were both shot and fell between the ship and the
wall. Commander Valentine Gibbs had both legs shot away. He came out of
action with his ship, but died next morning. His place on the bridge
was taken by Lieutenant Spencer, R.N.R., who was already wounded, but
refused to be relieved. Finally a single big shell came down through
the upper deck and burst among some marines who were waiting their turn
for the gangways. Out of 56 only 7 survived, and they were all wounded.
Altogether _Iris_ lost 8 officers and 69 men killed, and 3 officers and
102 men wounded. But the parapet was stormed all right, and the Germans
under it put up no resistance except intense and unremitting gunfire.
Some of them took refuge in a destroyer, and were sent to the bottom
with her by a successful bombing attack from the parapet.

After some fifteen minutes of this work the batteries on the Mole were
silenced, the dugouts cleaned out, and the whole range of hangars and
store sheds set blazing, or blown to ruins with dynamite. Then came
the first great moment of triumph. ‘A quarter of an hour after the
_Vindictive_ took her position, a tremendous explosion was seen at
the shore end of the Mole. We then knew that our submarine (the old
C. 3, who had certainly reached the age for retiring) had managed to
get herself in between the piles of the (railway) viaduct connecting
the Mole with the shore, and had blown herself up. She carried several
tons of high explosive (the equivalent of over 40 good mines) and the
effect of her action was effectually to cut off the Mole from the
land. Before the explosion the crew of the submarine, which comprised
some half-dozen officers and men (under command of Lieutenant R. D.
Sandford, R.N.), got away in a very small motor skiff, which lost its
propeller and had to be pulled with (a single pair of) paddles against
a heavy tide and under machine-gun fire from a range which could be
reckoned only in feet. Most of the crew were wounded, but the tiny
boat was picked up by a steam pinnace (commanded by Lieut.-Commander
Sandford, who rescued his brother and the other five salamanders when
they had struggled only 200 yards away from the point of explosion).
It is possible that the Germans who saw the submarine coming in under
the play of their searchlights, thought that her object was to attack
the vessels within the Mole, and that she thought it feasible to get
through the viaduct to do this. Their neglect to stop the submarine
as she approached could only be put down to the fact that they knew
she could not get through owing to the large amount of interlacing
between the piles, and that they really believed they were catching
her! A large number of Germans were actually on the viaduct, a few
feet above the submarine, and were firing at her with machine-guns. I
think it can safely be said that everyone of those Germans went up
with the viaduct. The cheer raised by my men in the _Vindictive_ when
they saw the terrific explosion, was one of the finest things I ever
heard. Many of the men were severely wounded--some had three and even
four wounds--but they had no thought except for the success of the
operation. (They cheered their captain as he went round the decks and
kept asking, “Have we won?”--just as if it had been a football match.)

‘About twenty-five minutes after the _Vindictive_ got alongside (and
ten minutes after the explosion of C. 3), the block-ships were seen
rounding the lighthouse and heading for the canal entrance. It was then
realised on board the _Iris_, _Daffodil_ and _Vindictive_ that their
work had been accomplished. The block-ships came under very heavy fire
immediately they rounded the end of the Mole. Most of the fire, it
appears, was concentrated on the leading ship, the _Thetis_ (Commander
R. S. Sneyd). She ran aground off the entrance to the canal, on the
edge of the channel, and was sunk, as approximately as possible, across
the channel itself, thus forming an obstruction to the passage of the
German vessels.’ She was coming in in grand style, but had the bad luck
to catch her propeller in the defence nets and became a target; but she
did fine work even then, signalling to her sister ships and enabling
them to avoid the nets. And she may give quite as much trouble to the
enemy yet as the other two, for she lies right in the channel, which
must always be kept free from silt if even the outer harbour is to be
used.

[Illustration: ‘A tremendous explosion was seen at the shore end of the
Mole.’]

‘This co-operation between the three block-ships, carried out under
extremely heavy fire, was one of the finest things in the operation.

‘The second and third ships, the _Intrepid_ (Lieutenant Stuart
Bonham-Carter) and _Iphigenia_ (Lieutenant E. W. Billyard-Leake), both
went straight through the canal entrance until they actually reached
a point some two or three hundred yards inside the shore lines, and
behind some of the German batteries. It really seems very wonderful.
How the crews of the two ships ever got away is almost beyond
imagination.’ Lieutenant Bonham-Carter, after running _Intrepid_ into
the canal bank, ordered his crew away in the boats, and blew her up
himself. He then escaped on a Carley float, a kind of patent buoy which
lights a flare when it takes the water. Very fortunately, _Intrepid_
was still smoking and the smoke partially hid both him and his flare.
He was picked up by a motor launch (Lieutenant Deane, R.N.V.R.) which
had actually gone inshore to take off another officer who had swum
to the bank, and brought away both together. _Iphigenia_, too, after
ramming a dredger and carrying away a barge with her up the canal, was
even more successfully placed across the channel and blown up with her
engines still going, to ensure her sticking her nose fast in the mud.
Her crew escaped, some in the motor launches and some in their own
boats, rowing for miles out to sea before they were picked up by the
destroyers.

‘The situation, rather more than an hour after the _Vindictive_ got
alongside, was this: The block-ships had passed in, had come to the end
of their run, and had done their work. The viaduct was blown up and
the Mole had been stormed.’ Even the lighthouse had been sacked, for
Wing-Commander Brock had announced before starting that after seeing to
the smoke-screen work, his first objective would be the range-finding
apparatus which he knew was up in the lighthouse top. He carried out
his intentions. He was seen going into the lighthouse, and coming out
again laden with an armful of stuff; then charging a gun single-handed;
and, last of all, lying desperately wounded under the parapet wall of
the Mole. This was only reported afterwards, and his fate is unknown
to this day. If he died, he died as he would have wished, for he was
a big man with a big heart, and did his fighting gladly. ‘Nothing
but a useless sacrifice of life could have followed if the three
boarding vessels had remained by the Mole any longer. The signal to
withdraw was therefore given, and the ships got away under cover of the
smoke-screens as quickly as they could. The signal was given by siren,
but the noise of the guns was so loud that it had to be repeated many
times. Twenty minutes passed before it was definitely reported that
there was nobody left on the Mole who could possibly get on board the
withdrawing ships.

‘All three ships got away from the wall; they went at full speed and
were followed all the way along their course by salvos from the German
guns. Shells seemed to fall all round the ships without actually
hitting them. The gunners apparently had our speed but not our range,
and with remarkable regularity the salvos plopped into the sea behind
us. In a short time the ships were clear of imminent danger, owing to
the large amount of smoke which they had left behind them.’ Two of the
three destroyers also got away safely; the third, _North Star_, was
sunk by gunfire near the block-ships but her crew were brought off by
_Phœbe_. Her loss was balanced by that of the German destroyer, sunk by
bombs under the inner wall of the Mole. Of our motor-launches (under
command of Captain R. Collins), many of which performed feats of
incredible audacity at point-blank range, all returned but two.

‘There is no doubt about the complete success of the enterprise.
Photographs taken by our flying-men show that two of the block-ships
are in the mouth of the Bruges Canal, well inside the shore line, and
lying diagonally across the channel. The third is outside the canal
mouth, blocking the greater part of the channel across the harbour. An
officer assured me that the bottoms having been blown out of the ships,
they are now simply great solid masses of concrete. Blasting, even if
it could be attempted without risk to the surroundings (_e.g._, the
walls of the canal and docks) would only divide one solid mass into
several masses, just as obstructive as the whole. Moreover, owing to
the shallowness of most of the harbour area, every tide will cause sand
to silt up about the obstacles and make their removal more difficult.
The photographs reveal a clean break in the viaduct at the landward end
of the Mole. They also show that the Germans have tried to bridge the
gap by planking.’ But planking will hardly carry the railway; and as
for the block-ships, they were still in position three months later,
with dredging parties at work who only offered an excellent target to
the bombs of our seaplanes.

During the attack at Zeebrugge the wind changed and blew the smoke off
shore. This helped us in the end by enabling the ships to cover their
retirement with a thick screen of miscellaneous smoke; but at Ostend
it caused a partial failure of the blocking operations. Commodore
Hubert Lynes, who commanded this little expedition, successfully laid
his smoke-screen, and sent in his motor-boats behind it to light up
the ends of the two wooden piers with flares, visible to our ships
but not to the enemy. He then sent in two old cruisers, _Sirius_ and
_Brilliant_, which were to be sunk between the piers. But the moment
the wind changed, the enemy, seeing the flares, at once extinguished
them, sinking the motor-boats by gunfire, and the block-ships were no
longer able to find the entrance. They ran aground about 2000 yards to
the east of the piers and were there blown up. Their crews were taken
off under heavy fire in motor-launches commanded by Lieutenant K. R.
Hoare, R.N.V.R., and Lieutenant R. Bourke, R.N.V.R.

One object had been accomplished--the Ostend garrison had been
thoroughly distracted from giving any warning or assistance to
Zeebrugge; but the block-ships had only made the harbour entrance
dangerous--they had not closed it. There was no doubt on either side
that the attempt would be renewed. Our men were all ready and eager for
a fight to a finish; the Germans were quick to take every precaution
possible. They removed the Stroom Bank buoy, which marked the entrance
to the harbour, cut the wooden piers through, to prevent landing
parties from advancing along them, and tried to keep up a patrol of the
coast with some nine destroyers. But, in spite of all, they were once
more taken by surprise, and this time they lost the game at Ostend as
they had lost it at Zeebrugge.

The new expedition sailed on May 9 under command, as before, of
Commodore Hubert Lynes. Vice-Admiral Sir Roger Keyes was also present
himself, in the destroyer _Warwick_. The flotilla was this time on a
larger scale, and the block-ship (which was entrusted to Commander
Godsal, late of the _Brilliant_) was none other than the _Vindictive_
herself, and was to double her glory by a triumphant death.

The night was a perfect one, calm with light airs from the north, a
few faint stars and no moon. The ships came on in silence; for though
the monitors were already anchored in their firing positions, and
the heavy land batteries towards Nieuport were trained ready for the
bombardment, not a shot was to be fired until the signal was given for
every arm to attack at the same moment. The whole German front was
shrouded in a delicate haze, like a genuine sea fog, but even more
impenetrable to sight or searchlight. Under cover of this, Commodore
Lynes first took his destroyer in and laid a burning light-buoy as a
mark for the block-ship. _Vindictive_ followed, and from this point
bore up for another flare, lighted by Lieutenant William Slayter on
the former position of the Stroom Bank buoy. Four minutes before she
arrived there, and fifteen minutes before she was timed to reach the
harbour mouth, the signal was given for a general engagement. Instantly
the whole force got to work. Two motor-boats, under Lieutenant Albert
Poland and Lieutenant Darrel Reid, R.N.R., dashed in and fired
their torpedoes at the two wooden pier ends. The western pier had a
machine-gun mounted, and that too went up in the explosion. Then the
seaplanes began to bomb the town and the monitors were heard thundering
from far out to sea. The German star shells were useless in the mist,
but every gun in the batteries and land-turrets opened at once, and the
Royal Marine guns on our front replied to them with flanking fire.

At this moment a real sea fog drifted in and mixed with the
smoke-screen; our destroyers had to keep touch by siren signals,
and _Vindictive_ found herself in danger of missing her mark, like
_Sirius_ and _Brilliant_. She had a motor-boat escorting her on each
side with huge Dover flares, but the darkness was too dense even for
them. Twice she passed the entrance, and came back at last to her first
position. Then, by a happy chance, a breeze cleared the fog for a
moment and she saw the piers close to her with the opening dead ahead.
Acting-Lieutenant Guy Cockburn, in his motor-boat, saw them too; he
dashed in under heavy fire and laid his flare right in the channel;
_Vindictive_ went straight over it and into goal.

The enemy were now blazing at her with everything they had. A shell hit
the after-control and killed Sub-Lieutenant Angus MacLachlan with all
his men. Machine-gun bullets made the chart-room and bridges untenable,
and Commander Godsal took his officers into the conning-tower. There,
after steaming about 200 yards along between the piers, he left them,
and went outside, calling back to them to order the ship to be laid bow
on to the eastern pier and so swing across the channel. The order was
no sooner given than a shell struck the conning-tower full. It killed
the Commander outside and stunned Lieutenant Sir John Alleyne, who
was inside with Lieutenant V. A. C. Crutchley. Lieutenant Crutchley
shouted through the observation slit to the Commander, but, getting
no reply, he coolly went on with the swinging of the ship by ringing
full speed astern with the port engine. But he soon found that she had
ceased to move, so he gave the order to abandon ship and sink her.
The main charges were accordingly blown by Engineer-Lieut.-Commander
William Bury and the auxiliary charges by Lieutenant Crutchley himself.
_Vindictive_ heaved, sank about six feet, and settled on the bottom at
an angle of forty-five degrees across the channel. ‘Her work was done,’
says the official narrative.

The losses were two officers and six men killed, two officers and ten
men missing, believed killed, and four officers and eight men wounded.
The greater number of these were hit while leaving the _Vindictive_.
They were taken off under very heavy machine-gun fire by motor-launches
under Lieutenant Bourke, R.N.V.R., and Lieutenant Geoffry Drummond,
R.N.V.R. When the latter reached the _Warwick_ his launch was shot to
pieces and unseaworthy, he himself was severely wounded, his second
in command, Lieutenant Gordon Ross, R.N.V.R., and one seaman, were
killed, and a number of others wounded. Day was breaking and they were
still within easy range of the forts, so the good ship motor-launch
254 was sunk by a charge in her engine-room. The triumphant return
was made without even the most distant attempt at interference by the
nine German destroyers. It was a fine chance for a counterstroke with
superior force, but the nine did not see it. Ostend remained, like
Zeebrugge, a complete British victory.


    AT THE BALLANTYNE PRESS
    PRINTED BY SPOTTISWOODE, BALLANTYNE AND CO. LTD.
    COLCHESTER, LONDON AND ETON, ENGLAND



_By Sir Henry Newbolt_


  =Submarine and Anti-Submarine.=
      By Sir HENRY NEWBOLT, Author of “Tales of the Great War,” “The
      Book of the Thin Red Line,” “The Book of the Blue Sea,” etc.
      With Coloured Frontispiece and 20 other illustrations by Norman
      Wilkinson, R.I. Crown 8vo. $2.25 _net_.

This book contains a collection of tales of the submarine campaign,
based on authentic narratives hitherto unpublished. It also traces the
evolution of the undersea boat from its earliest days, demolishing the
German claim that it is the product of German ingenuity and skill.
Among other introductory chapters is one on the submarine war as an
illustration of the contrast between the national spirit of England and
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  =The Book of the Happy Warrior.= With 8 Coloured Plates and 25
      Pictures in black-and-white by Henry J. Ford. Crown 8vo. $2.25
      _net_.

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Louis, Robin Hood, Bayard, Du Gueselin and the Black Prince, the French
and English wars, and other famous wars and warriors. The whole tone
of it is vibrant with true heroism, which means gentleness and loyalty
as well as prowess in arms; and its closeness to the text of the
‘Chanson de Roland’ and other classic tales is a quality worthy of high
praise.”--_N. Y. Tribune._

“Ought to be in the library of every Boy Scout.”--_Philadelphia Ledger._


  =Tales of the Great War.= With 7 Coloured Plates and 32
      Illustrations in black-and-white by Norman Wilkinson and
      Christopher Clark. Crown 8vo. $2.25 _net_.

“... Vivifies, as official reports cannot, the fighting in Flanders
and France, the sea battles off South America, the air war and the
great naval battle of Jutland.... To an unusual degree the book is
alive....”--_Boston Post._


  =The Book of the Thin Red Line.= With 8 Coloured Plates and 38
      Illustrations in black-and-white by Stanley L. Wood. Crown 8vo.
      $2.25 _net_.

“... Stories of real military adventures by real men who won
distinction and high command by their heroism and gallantry in action
... admirably illustrated....”--_The Independent._ (N. Y.)


  =The Book of the Blue Sea.= With 8 Coloured Plates and 32
      Illustrations in black-and-white by Norman Wilkinson. Crown
      8vo. $2.25 _net_.


LONGMANS, GREEN & CO. NEW YORK



Transcriber’s Notes


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

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unbalanced
quotation marks retained.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.

Some illustrations were moved closer to the relevant text.

Page 125: Text appears to be missing after “netting” in “wire and
netting it was”.





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