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World War 1 at Sea


THE MERCHANT NAVY, Volume 2, Summer 1915 to early 1917 (Part 1 of 2)


by Sir Archibald Hurd


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The Loss of a British Merchant Ship (click to enlarge)

on to The Merchant Navy, Vol 2, Part 2 of 2
or return to World War 1, 1914-1918

 

 

 

A Modern Introduction

 

Up-to-date, well-researched naval histories have an important part to play in understanding past events, but I would like to suggest they are equalled by contemporary accounts written not long after the stories they describe, and often by those who took part.

 

Such near-contemporary accounts include the three volumes of THE MERCHANT NAVY by Sir Archibald Hurd. They remain in print, but are still not widely known, and being out-of-copyright, can be found on the internet.

 

They are indispensable to any researcher or scholar of World War 1 who wants to start to understand the vastness of the war at sea and its near fatal impact on British, Allied and Neutral merchant shipping.

 

In reading these volumes, I am surprised how partisan the accounts are. The Germans are still the Hun, but then the U-boat war totally changed the rules of "civilized" mercantile warfare that had reigned for centuries. The shock had still not subsided when these books were written.

 

Any transcription and proofing errors are mine. (Note: all ship's names will be in italic lower case when time allows)

 

Gordon Smith,

Naval-History.Net

 

   


HISTORY OF THE GREAT WAR

 

 

BASED ON OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS

 

BY DIRECTION OF THE HISTORICAL SECTION OF THE COMMITTEE OF IMPERIAL DEFENCE

 

 

 

THE MERCHANT NAVY

 

Vol. II

 

 

BY ARCHIBALD HURD

 

 

London

John Murray, Albemarle Street, W

1924

 

 All Rights Reserved

 

The Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty have given the author access to official documents in the preparation of this work, but they are in no way responsible for the accuracy of its statements or the presentation of the facts.

 
 

 

 

CONTENTS

 

PREFACE ...... pp. v-ix

 

 

CHAPTER I

 

SUBMARINES IN BRITISH WATERS

 

The United States and the sinking of the Lusitania — The brotherhood of the sea vindicated — An enemy stratagem — The sinking of the s.s. Strathnaim with a loss of twenty-one lives — The ordeal of the s.s. Armenian — A British master's humanity towards his dog — The fate of the s.s. Anglo Californian — No mercy by the enemy for women and children — 248 lives lost in August 1915 — The destruction of the liner Arabic — Experience of the crew of the s.s. Diomed — The liner Hesperian sunk — Irritation in America — The enemy's campaign on the West Coast and in the English Channel temporarily abandoned...... pp. 1-41

 

 

CHAPTER II

 

AUXILIARY CRAFT'S FIGHT AGAINST THE SUBMARINES

 

Varied tasks of the Auxiliary Patrol — Submarine on passage to the Mediterranean — Zeppelin raid on Dover— The trawler Amadavat's intervention saves a merchant ship — Excursion steamer's fight with a submarine — The Inverlyon's fight with a Flanders submarine — Raid off the Irish coast — Beaten by high seas — Attack on an oil-tanker. pp. 42-49

 

 

CHAPTER III

 

THE FISHERMEN'S ORDEAL

 

The importance of the fishing industry — Defencelessness of the trawler — Wholesale destruction of fishing-craft — Ingenious disguises to trap the enemy — Submarine versus submarine — The destruction of U40 — An attack on fishing-vessels off the Hebrides — A long duel — The misfortunes of U41 — Admiral Startin's stratagem — Heavy losses of sailing-ships — The salvage of the s.v. Kotka — Mine-sweeping operations — Keeping open the Archangel route — Success of a Lowestoft smack — The Admiralty's attitude to the fishing industry....... pp. 50-73

 

 

CHAPTER IV

 

THE SEA TRANSPORT OF THE FIRST MILLION TROOPS

 

The British Army dependent on merchant shipping for transport overseas and on the Navy for protection — Interdependence of naval and military policy — Previous transport movements — Creation of the Expeditionary Force — Its quick mobilisation — Embarrassments of a defensive policy.......... pp. 74-81

 

(a) The Expeditionary Force dispatched to France

 

The cross-Channel movement — Pre-war plans — A change of base — Navigational difficulties — Moral of a mistake— Attempt to relieve Antwerp — Unexpected demands on the Merchant Service — Scenes at Ostend — Distress of the refugees..... pp. 81-88

 

(b) The Empire Mobilisation

 

Lord Kitchener's decision to mobilise trained troops in France — Troops dispatched from Egypt, Malta, and Gibraltar — The New Zealand Expeditionary Force — Territorial troops sent oversea — First contingent of the Australian Expeditionary Force — Movement of Canada's Expeditionary Force — Egyptian garrison's voyage to England — Wessex and Home Counties Territorial Divisions sent to India — British troops brought home from India — Reinforcements from New Zealand and Australia — Wessex Reserve Territorial Division moved to India... pp. 89-96

 

(c) The Dardanelles Expedition

 

Orders for 29th Division and Naval Division to sail for the Mediterranean — Rapid embarkation and errors in packing the holds of transports — Nineteen transports and five store transports employed — Concentration at Alexandria — The 2nd Mounted Division moved to Egypt — Transports for Australian and New Zealand troops — Completing the First Million — The Merchant Service's record — No lives lost... pp. 96-99

 

 

CHAPTER V

 

MERCHANT SEAMEN AND THE BLOCKADE

 

The blockade of Germany instituted by a squadron of old cruisers — Early capture of a German vessel — Difficulties of examination of suspected ships at sea — Reconstruction of the Tenth Cruiser Squadron — Liners requisitioned — Retention of Mercantile Marine crews — Arduous and perilous work — Increasing danger from submarine and mines - The Viknor sunk by a mine — Admiralty appreciation of work of Northern Patrol — Disposal of Patrol in January 1915 — Difficulties of maintaining the Patrol — Sinking of the Bayano by a submarine— Foundering of the Clan Macnaughton — Strengthening of the Squadron and increased efficiency of the Patrol — Aid rendered by the Patrol to neutral shipping — Running the blockade — A ruse to trap a suspected vessel — New base in the Shetland Islands — Installation of the wireless direction finder — The India torpedoed — The coal problem — Seamanship and courage of prize commanders and crews — Eventful voyages — Admiral Jellicoe's tribute to the work of the Patrol — Action of the Alcantara and Andes with the German raider Grief — Curiosities of contraband — Change in the command of the Tenth Cruiser Squadron — Tribute to Rear-Admiral de Chair pp. 100-156

 

 

CHAPTER VI

 

THE AUXILIARY PATROL IN THE MEDITERRANEAN

 

The attack on Gallipoli — Activity of submarines — The problem of the Straits of Otranto — Mine-sweeping vessels for the Dardanelles — Trawlers at work in the Straits of Gallipoli — Enforced retirement under heavy fire — Another unsuccessful attempt — A change in tactics — Essential aid to the army — The anti-submarine patrol — Rescue of the Serbian army— Sinking of an Austrian U-boat — Defending the Otranto Straits — The situation in the Mediterranean — Overworked fishermen relieved. pp. 157-176

 

 

CHAPTER VII

 

SUBMARINE INVASION OF THE MEDITERRANEAN

 

German successes in the Mediterranean — Concentration of the enemy in southern waters — Merchant vessels sunk without warning — Action of the Woodfield with a submarine — Spirited fight by the City of Marseilles — The enemy's blows at the communications of the Allies — The experience of the Clan Macleod — Sinking of the Clan Macfarlane — Terrible experiences of the crew at sea — Adrift for seven days... pp. 177-203

 

 

CHAPTER VIII

 

THE SINKING OF THE P. & O. LINER " PERSIA "

 

Torpedoed without warning — Breach of pledge to the United States — A tragic scene — 334 lives lost — An American passenger's experiences — Another passenger's ordeal — Lord Montagu's tribute to the crew — Thirty hours without food or water...... pp. 204-215

 

 

CHAPTER IX

 

IN THE HANDS OF THE BEDOUINS

 

The sinking of the Coquet — Callous conduct of a submarine commander — Cast adrift 200 miles from the nearest land — " Nothing short of murder " — Terrible experiences at sea — One boat lost — Landing on the desolate African coast — Attacked by Bedouins — An unequal fight — Survivors taken prisoner — Wanderings in captivity — Release after nearly eight months pp. 216-230

 

 

CHAPTER X

 

THE MERCHANT SERVICE ON THE DEFENSIVE

 

The policy of supplying guns and ammunition to merchant ships for defensive purposes — Attitude of the United States Government to the use of American ports by armed vessels — Proclamation by Germany of " war zone " — A new problem — The extension of defensive armament policy — Admiralty instructions to masters of armed merchant ships — Status of armed vessels — Gunnery training of merchant seamen — Right of self-defence — Memoranda of the United States respecting armed merchant vessels — Attitude of neutral countries towards entry of armed vessels into their ports....... pp. 231-246

 

 

(Part 2 of 2)

 

 

CHAPTER XI

 

THE WAR OFF THE FLANDERS COAST, WITH SOME ACCOUNT OF THE ENEMY'S MINE-LAYING ACTIVITY

 

Importance of Ostend and Zeebrugge to the enemy — First attack on Zeebrugge by the Dover Patrol — Employment of pleasure steamers and drifters — Second attack on Flemish coast — Ordeal of the fishermen — Work of the Auxiliary Patrol — Laying and maintaining the mine barrage off the Flemish coast — A difficult operation — Destruction of submarines by drifters — Gallant work of drifters in range of enemy batteries — Destruction of the armed yacht Sanda — Tribute of Admiral Bacon to the courage of officers and crews of drifters and trawlers — Loss of the Brighton Queen by mine — Difficulties of the campaign off the Flemish coast — Co-operation of the Army essential to success— Enemy's violation of neutral waters — Enemy's mine-laying — Trawlers sunk — Mine-field across the Moray Firth — A widespread campaign — Trawlers working double " tides " — 4,574 mines destroyed — Reorganisation of the mine-sweeping service — Enemy activity overseas — Salving a mine..... pp. 247-265

 

 

CHAPTER XII

 

FISHING-CRAFT ON WAR SERVICE, 1915-16

 

Work of the Royal Naval Motor-Boat Reserve — More seaworthy craft required — Orders for 550 motor-launches — Varied tasks of the new type of craft — First effective barrage — Not a complete success — The barrage abandoned — Assisting the French Navy — Successful operations by drifters against a submarine — Rescue of German seamen — The enemy taken by surprise — U74 destroyed by trawlers — Enemy's dead set on trawlers — A fisherman's " battle " — Mine-laying submarine destroyed — An enemy raid on the fishing-fleets...... pp. 266-282

 

 

CHAPTER XIII

 

RAIDS ON DOVER STRAITS AND OTHER INCIDENTS

 

German destroyers based on Zeebrugge — Raid on the drifters guarding the Dover barrage — Attack on the Tenth Drifter Division — A second attack — Heavy British casualties — Another attempted raid — German plans miscarry — Creation of the Anti-Submarine Department — Difficulties in the English Channel — An armed trawler to the rescue — A German prisoner's good fortune....... pp. 283-289

 

 

CHAPTER XIV

 

RESUMPTION OF THE SUBMARINE CAMPAIGN IN BRITISH WATERS

 

Confusion of policy in Germany — Sinking of a merchant ship 236 miles from the nearest land — Brotherhood of the sea — Ship sunk at anchor by a Zeppelin — The s.s. Teutonian destroyed off the Fastnet — Progress of the campaign in British waters — Vessels torpedoed without warning — The escape of an oil-tanker — Value of defensive armament — Loss of the Minneapolis — The Goldmouth's unequal duel — Torpedoing of the Sussex — The German Government's pledge..... pp. 290-306

 

 

CHAPTER XV

 

THE CASE OF CAPTAIN FRYATT

 

The ordeal of the s.s. Brussels — Communications in the North Sea — Shipmaster's "highly meritorious and courageous conduct" — Escape of the Brussels — Captain Fryatt's manoeuvre — The Admiralty's congratulations — Capture of the Brussels — Captain Fryatt and the first officer made prisoners — Solitary confinement for cross-examination — Trial by court martial — Fruitless request for postponement from Berlin — The case for the defence — American intervention — Captain Fryatt's heroic death — Neutral condemnation of German action — Court of inquiry in Berlin — Captain Fryatt condemned as " a franc-tireur of the seas " — Lord Stowell's judgment — " Defence is a natural right " — American rulings, pp. 307-336

 

 

CHAPTER XVI

 

THE ENEMY'S FINAL PLUNGE

 

Division of opinion in Germany on the use of submarines — Temporary success of the Imperial Chancellor — Activities in the Mediterranean — A defenceless ship, the Destro, saved by speed — The hopeless duel of the Roddam — Abandonment thirty-five miles from land — Enemy operations in the Arctic Ocean — The policy of spurlos versenkt — The loss of the Rappahannock — A demonstration off the North American coast — Sinkings in British waters — The problem of the passenger ship— A German commander's humanity — Over thirty hours in the boats — The fate of the s.s. Cabotia — The Fabian under fire — Prisoners on board a submarine — The sink-at-sight campaign in the Mediterranean — P. & O. liner Arabia torpedoed without warning — Increasing disregard at sea of German pledges — The destruction of the City of Birmingham — A Clan liner's fight — The escape of the s.s. Palm Branch — Experiences of the crews of German submarines — Mounting losses of merchant ships — Successful action of the Caledonia — The oil-tanker Conch set on fire in the English Cliannel — An exhibition of fine seamanship — The enemy's guile — The hard fate of the Artist — On the eve of the intensive campaign... pp. 337-379

 

 

CHAPTER XVII

 

CRUISES OF THE GERMAN RAIDERS

 

I. The "Mowe"

 

False sense of security at sea — Warnings of the Admiralty — Escape of the Mowe from Hamburg — First capture off Cape Finisterre — Utilisation of British cargo of coal — Looting of the Author — The Elder Dempster steamship Appam captured — Gallant fighting of the Clan Mactavish — Dispatch of the Appam to Newport News with prisoners — Action of the United States authorities — Raider's seizure of the Westbum — Prisoners placed on board the Westbury for purposes of release — Arrival at Santa Cruz — Ship scuttled by Germans — Return of the Mowe to Germany — Second cruise begun — Spirited action of the Mount Temple— The Yarrowdale intercepted and used as an auxiliary — Crowded with prisoners, the Yarrowdale is dispatched to Swinemunde — The misfortunes of the Dramatist — An Admiralty collier sunk — 300 prisoners placed on board the Hudson Maru and landed at Pernambuco — Fate of the Netherby Hall — Fine resistance by the Otaki — Posthumous Victoria Cross awarded to Lieutenant Bisset Smith, R.N.R., the master of the Otaki — Return of the Mowe to Germany.... pp. 380-415 n.

 

II. The "Seeadler"

 

American sailing-ship converted into a raider and fitted with a motor — Gallant attempt of the Gladys Royle to escape — Chase of the Lundy Island — A British captain's experience on his honeymoon — The Horngarth under fire for nearly an hour — British seamen prisoners placed on board a captured French vessel and sent to Rio de Janeiro — Wreck of the Seeadler off Mopelia Island........ pp. 415-422

 

III The "Wolf"

 

The s.s. Wachenfels, equipped with mines, guns, and torpedoes and provided with a seaplane, is sent to sea as a raider — Seizure of the Turritella and use as an auxiliary raider — The captured ship intercepted by H.M.S. Odin and then scuttled by the Germans — The misfortune of the Jumna — Master's diary of life on board the raider — Prisoners' uncomfortable quarters — Extensive mine-laying by the Wolf— A fortunate meeting — The Wairuna chased by the raider's seaplane and captured — Mine-laying in New Zealand waters— The raider in hiding with her latest prize — A narrow escape — The Spanish steamer Igotz Mendi seized and used as a prison ship — Homeward journey of the Wolf in company with the Igotz Mendi — Stranding of the Igotz Mendi — Merchant ships damaged or sunk by the Wolf's mine-fields...... pp. 422-435

 

 

APPENDIX

 

A. Instructions to Merchant Captains. pp. 436-440

 

B. Interpretation of same by German Court of Inquiry... p. 441

 

C. Analysis of Vessels Intercepted. pp. 442-443

 

 

INDEX pp. 444-464

(not included – you can use Search)

 

 


 

 

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

 

The Loss of a British Merchant Ship ... 36

An Armed Drifter..... 70

On Watch in the Arctic.... 100

A Boarding Boat on Duty ... 112

On the Forecastle of an Armed Merchant Cruiser..... 124

Left in an Open Boat ... 218

(Part 2 of 2)

Drifters Hoisting in a Torpedo  ... 268

Armed Trawlers in the North Sea ... 272

Releasing a Depth Charge from a Drifter ... 284

Vessel Hit by a German Submarine ... 358

Sunk without Warning .... 376

The Sinking of the "Georgic" ... 400

 

MAPS

 

The Tenth Cruiser Squadron in the Autumn of 1915... 156

(Part 2 of 2)

The Mine Peril in Home Waters ... 265

The Tenth Cruiser Squadron: Statistical Diagram of Blockade Operations ... end of volume

The Tenth Cruiser Squadron: the Working of the Blockade in 1915 ... end of volume

 

 


 

 

 

PREFACE

 

In the first volume of this History of the part which the Merchant Navy took in the Great War, the record was carried down to the early months of 1915, when the conscience of the world was shocked by the torpedoing of the Lusitania, with a loss of nearly 1,200 lives. The present volume continues the narrative to the eve of the German Declaration of " unrestricted submarine warfare " on February 1st, 1917.

 

During this period of twenty months the war at sea passed through what may be called an intermediate stage. In the spring of 1915 the American President came forward as the general advocate of neutral rights at sea. Although he confined his protests to cases in which the sovereign rights of the United States had been disregarded, Mr. Wilson none the less became, in effect, the spokesman of all neutrals. The sinking of the Arabic in September brought on a crisis between America and Germany, and at the end of the month the Imperial Government stated that it " regretted and disapproved " the incident. No guarantee for the future was given; but the American Government was satisfied, knowing, probably, that the apology meant more than appeared. Washington had, in fact, scored a diplomatic victory; for the German Government had ordered their submarine commanders to " cease from any form of submarine war on the West Coast of Great Britain or in the Channel." In the Mediterranean, sinkings went on much as usual, as there was here less chance of injuring American citizens. For the rest of the year a restricted form of submarine warfare, against which the American Government made no protest, continued in the zone of operations.

 

The High Naval Command at Berlin obeyed these restrictions most reluctantly, and pressed their Government for wider powers. Early in the new year the Chief of the Great General Staff, von Falkenhayn, reported to the Emperor that the army would not be able to force a decision without naval assistance, and this admission seems to have given new force to the naval arguments for unrestricted submarine warfare. During February 1916 the restrictive rules under which submarine commanders were acting were cancelled; and on March 24th the steamer Sussex, which had a number of American citizens on board, was torpedoed without warning in the English Channel.

 

Thoroughly exasperated, the American Government now issued what amounted to an ultimatum. The Germans gave way, and early in May Count Bernstorff presented a Note in which his Government promised that henceforth the campaign would be conducted in accordance with the general principles of international law, and that no vessel would be sunk until some provision had been made for the safety of the passengers and crew.

 

These concessions ushered in a new phase of the conflict. The Imperial Chancellor had yielded to the American demands in the teeth of fierce opposition from the officers of the naval and military commands. The thought of loyally supporting the Government in the attitude it had adopted evidently never entered their minds, as the events recorded in this volume attest; and for the rest of the year they strove, by making progressive encroachments upon the pledges given, to restore the submarine campaign to the position which it had lost. They were tolerably successful; for at the end of 1916 merchant vessels were being sunk without warning in the Atlantic and North Sea as well as the Mediterranean: in January 1917 the number of lives lost in British merchant ships was 276, and 245 of these died as a result of the submarine campaign. When, a few weeks later, the German Government declared unrestricted submarine war, it was practically announcing an accomplished fact, but the decision proved the final influence which brought the United States into the war.

 

In this volume an attempt has been made to reflect the course of events as they affected merchant seamen, and all who were forced by circumstances to travel by sea. It traces the gradual crescendo of callousness exhibited by the enemy seamen, and of the necessarily slow evolution of measures of defence.

 

Provision had been made by the Admiralty against enemy cruisers which might escape on the high seas, and that these measures were not inadequate experience proved. By the end of March 1915, as has been recorded, this menace had been laid, and during the period covered by this volume the only losses inflicted by enemy surface craft on merchant shipping were due to the spasmodic appearance of raiders whose depredations furnish a narrative of permanent interest to the student of war. The Admiralty had repeatedly warned the nation that it could give no guarantee that no enemy vessel would ever succeed in breaking through, by night or in thick weather, the cordon provided by the Grand Fleet and its auxiliary forces.

 

The success which attended the dispositions of the Admiralty after the institution of the patrol by the Tenth Cruiser Squadron exceeded all expectations. The stoppage of seaborne supplies combined with the system of commercial embargo which had been slowly elaborated, became so effective, in spite of political action initiated by neutral States, that the Germans were commercially isolated from the rest of the world, except in so far as they were able to obtain supplies overland from neighbouring countries, and were in a position to take the fullest advantage of the protests of neutrals against the strict enforcement of the blockade.

 

It is perhaps not generally realised that the blockade, supported by the ships of the Grand Fleet, was actually enforced by merchant ships which, though under the command of naval officers, who had under them a nucleus of active service ratings and men from the Royal Fleet Reserve, were principally manned by merchant seamen. The spirit in which these operations were prosecuted in fair weather and in foul, and in high latitudes where cold and fog prevail, constitutes the supreme vindication of the character and seamanlike qualities of the Merchant Navy, which was to be re-enforced before the war came to its close by thousands of incidents of splendid and daring heroism in face of hopeless odds, and noble self-sacrifice in the common cause. Captain Charles Fryatt, in particular, supplied his fellow-seamen in these anxious months with a noble example of unflinching courage and unwavering dignity in face of accusers who were determined, as is revealed in these pages, to encompass his death at any cost of honour — little thinking what influence the judicial murder of this merchant captain would have in crystallising neutral opinion against Germany. Captain Fryatt came to be accepted throughout the civilised world as the typical figure of the British merchant seamen. Their fellow-countrymen were dependent for life on their staunchness and seamanlike skill, and the trust was gloriously vindicated.

 

Nor in reviewing the part which the Merchant Navy bore during the war can we ignore its services in meeting the constant demands of the Royal Navy, or its essential contribution in the movement of troops. A fighting fleet without the support of a merchant navy must be demobilised. Moreover, an island State, if it would exercise military influence overseas, is dependent upon the efficiency of its sea communications, and in the chapter which deals with the transport of the first million troops posterity is provided with a classic example of how the seas can be bridged and increasing armies kept supplied with munitions, food, and all their various requirements.

 

But while the Merchant Navy was supporting the Royal Navy, as well as the new armies, in near and many distant theatres, it was also fighting its own battles, almost defenceless though it was. The extent to which the submarine would be pressed into the service of a belligerent State had not been foreseen in any country. The mere fact that the Germans possessed only about a score of submarines when hostilities opened, and that at International Conferences the conditions under which warfare on seaborne commerce might be conducted had been accepted by all maritime Powers, had contributed to a feeling of security which events were speedily to dissipate.

 

The record of the sufferings of the merchant seamen, as set forth in official and other documents which have been placed under contribution in the preparation of this volume, constitutes an epic of the sea to which history provides no parallel. For many months the men of the Merchant Service were without any semblance of defence. At the very moment when armament was required for the Mercantile Marine, the new armies had to be fitted out, while the Royal Navy itself also required guns and other equipment. The British Government, confronted with the treble demands for guns and ammunition as well as for trained gunners, was powerless to do all that the desperate situation of the merchant seamen suggested as desirable. But by the opening of the year 1916, a considerable proportion of the larger and most essential ships of the Mercantile Marine had been defensively armed. The progress in this respect was not, as will be seen, without its influence on enemy policy. The success with which defensively armed ships beat off attack, and in many cases inflicted serious loss on the enemy, defeated the enemy tactics, and their increasing embarrassment was at last to find expression in the declaration from Berlin on February 1st, 1917, inaugurating the intensive submarine campaign in defiance of international law and the code of humanity, as well as the pledges which had been repeatedly given.

 

In the varying circumstances of the twenty months with which this volume deals, merchant seamen not only maintained in efficiency the antennae of the blockade operations, while at the same time supporting the Navy and the armies confronting the enemy overseas, and supplying the 45,000,000 people of the United Kingdom with food, but also formed the backbone of the Auxiliary Patrol. In this new navy, amateurs and professionals — in fact, anyone who had acquired familiarity with sea conditions — were mobilised. The record of the Auxiliary Patrol is an enheartening revelation of the sea aptitudes of the British people. Acknowledgment is again made of the assistance of Lieutenant-Commander E. Keble Chatterton, R.N.V.R., in the preparation of this portion of the History.

 

The Admiralty, the Board of Trade, and many shipowners have unreservedly placed their records under contribution for this History. Without their assistance it would have been impossible to present this narrative of the ordeal, without its parallel in the long and varied records of humanity, to which merchant seamen were submitted during the Great War.

 

 


 

 

 

CHAPTER I

 

SUBMARINES IN BRITISH WATERS

 

The sinking of the Lusitania, in circumstances which have already been described, involving the loss of 1,198 lives, focused the attention of the world upon the character of the war upon commerce which the enemy was prosecuting, and emphasised the fundamental characteristics which differentiated it from commerce destruction as practised by belligerents in former wars. The United States Government, already disturbed by the destruction of the Falaba and other ships conveying American citizens, could not avoid taking official notice of the sinking of a great liner which had left one of its ports, carrying a large number of Americans, with a guarantee that it was a peaceful vessel of commerce. Within less than a week of the disaster, the State Department at Washington had drafted and forwarded to Berlin an explicit protest. In this Note, dated May 13th, 1915, the United States Government stated that

 

" It assumes... that the Imperial Government accept, as of course, the rule that the lives of non-combatants, whether they be of neutral citizenship or citizens of one of the nations at war, cannot lawfully or rightly be put in jeopardy by the capture or destruction of an unarmed merchantman, and recognise also, as all other nations do, the obligation to take the usual precautions of visit and search to ascertain whether a suspected merchantman is in fact of belligerent nationality, or is in fact carrying contraband of war under a neutral flag,"

 

The attention of the Imperial Government was called with the utmost earnestness to the fact that "the objection to their present method of attack against the trade of their enemies lies in the practical impossibility of employing submarines in the destruction of commerce without disregarding those rules of fairness, reason, justice, and humanity, which all modern opinion regards as imperative. It is practically impossible for the officers of a submarine to visit a merchantman at sea and examine her papers and cargo. It is practically impossible for them to make a prize of her, and, if they cannot put a prize crew on board of her, they cannot sink her without leaving her crew and all on board of her to the mercy of the sea in her small boats."

 

In some instances, it was added, " time enough for even that poor measure of safety was not given," and it was finally declared that it was manifest that " submarines cannot be used against merchantmen, as the last few weeks have shown, without an inevitable violation of many sacred principles of justice and humanity." This Note was something more than a mere assertion of the right of American citizens to use the seas: it constituted an indictment of the principles governing the submarine war, reminding the nations of the world, whether belligerent or neutral, of the unprecedented character of the ordeal to which British merchant seamen in particular were being exposed.

 

In contrast with the savagery which had marked the destruction of the Lusitania, an example of the sentiments of brotherhood which continued to move the seamen of the old maritime races to assist comrades in distress, irrespective of race, language, or creed, was furnished by the crew of a Norwegian steamer less than a fortnight after the sinking of the Cunard liner. The steamer Drumcree (4,052 tons) was passing Trevose Head on May 18th when a violent explosion occurred. Though a double watch on the bridge had been maintained since leaving port, no one had seen a submarine, but the wake of a torpedo had been observed about 100 yards away off on the starboard beam. Time did not permit of the helm being used successfully, and the vessel was struck near the cross bunker. She was wrecked from practically No. 2 hold to the engine-room; she had gaping holes in her side and deck; the deck-plates were buckled and the beams twisted

 

LOSS OF THE " DRUMCREE "

 

into strange shapes. The water poured into the hold, as well as into the engine and boiler-rooms. The wireless-room and its installations were reduced to ruins, but the operator, though he had been injured, remained at his post until the master (Mr. A. Hodgson), having satisfied himself that it was impossible to make a call for assistance, sent him to his boat. Fortunately all the boats had been swung out when the Drumcree left Barry Dock, and as the ship lost way they were lowered and quickly manned and then stood by.

 

In the meantime Captain Hodgson, in company with the chief officer, had made a hasty survey and had satisfied himself that there was still a chance of saving the ship, although the water had risen to sea level in the injured compartments. In spite of the warning signal which Captain Hodgson had hoisted, several vessels, regardless of danger to themselves, closed on the Drumcree. The Norwegian steamer Ponto was hailed by Captain Hodgson, and the master was told that the Drumcree was in no immediate danger of foundering in the moderate weather which then prevailed. He was asked to give a tow in the direction of Cardiff, keeping close to the land on the English side of the Channel. Though the neutral master cannot have been unconscious of the peril in which he stood, he readily agreed to render this service and brought his ship smartly into position under the bow of the Drumcree.

 

With the help of the two crews, hawsers were made secure, and then the Ponto, having taken sixteen of the crew of the Drumcree out of one of the lifeboats, began to tow the damaged steamer. That the position of the Ponto was an unenviable one was shown shortly afterwards when a second attack was made on the crippled ship, a torpedo striking her farther aft than on the first occasion. Another explosion occurred, throwing the hatch coverings of No. 3 hold and other wreckage into the air, whilst a column of water rose as high as the mast. The ship began to settle by the stern with a list to starboard, and it looked as though she would sink at once. The Ponto had no recourse but to free herself from her dangerous companion. Captain Hodgson ordered the remainder of the officers and men of the Drumcree into the lifeboat which was lying alongside. A hasty inspection of the after part of the vessel showed that the water was still rising, so at last Captain Hodgson joined his men, intending to remain in the vicinity until his vessel disappeared.

 

" The submarine, however, now appeared, showing only the periscope, close to the stern of the ship and manoeuvred," as Captain Hodgson afterwards recorded, " as if bent on further mischief. We therefore pulled to the Ponto, which was standing by, and relieved our boat of most of its load. Then, as the captain of the Ponto was naturally anxious about the safety of his own ship, some of the officers and engineers volunteered to remain by the ship [the Drumcree] in the boat with me until she should sink or so that we might at least (in the unlikely event of her remaining afloat) hoist a night warning signal. The Ponto's people, however, warned me that the submarine was again in sight close to us, and I therefore felt compelled to abandon her and boarded the Ponto with my officers at 5 p.m."

 

The signal station at Lundy was told of the position of the derelict, since she might become a danger to navigation in the darkness. In recounting the circumstances in which his ship was lost, Captain Hodgson remarked that " the captain of the Ponto is, in my opinion, deserving of very great credit for the resolute manner in which he stood by us, at no small risk to himself and his own crew, as also for the courtesy and consideration with which he received us on board and provided for our wants, which has been deeply appreciated by us all." Though his ship had gone down, the master had the satisfaction of testifying that his crew had behaved well and had carried out orders without confusion, although they were new to the vessel and had had but one opportunity of carrying out boat drill. " The officers and men," he added, " I will not attempt to praise; they worked with me to the last in endeavouring to bring the ship to port and were as reluctant as I to abandon her."

 

Though the submarine war was still in its early stage, merchant seamen were learning that the enemy was adopting every expedient of which he could think to lure them to destruction. On the last day of May, when the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company's ship Demerara (11,484 tons), on passage from Liverpool to Lisbon, was off the south

 

ENEMY SUBMARINE DECOY

 

coast of Ireland, what appeared to be a mine was observed floating on the surface of the water. The master [Lieutenant G, S. Gillard, R.N.R. (retired)], recognising that a mine was a danger to navigation, approached to within 200 yards. Rifle fire was then directed on the supposed mine, which was hit several times. The bullets of the .45 Martini appeared to produce no effect, so Captain Gillard decided to use his 4.7-inch gun. One shell fell close to the supposed mine but failed to detonate it. An hour after this attempt had been made to destroy what was thought to be a danger to shipping, the periscope of a submarine was seen on the starboard quarter. The enemy vessel at once pursued the British ship, firing from time to time. The Demerara put on her best speed and the enemy's fire was returned at 1,000 yards, the British red ensign having been hoisted. The submarine then dived. The Demerara was manoeuvred with skill so as to keep the submarine on the quarter between the wake and bow waves. Periodically the submarine showed her periscope, and each time fire was opened by the British ship. In all thirteen rounds were discharged. The thirteenth was a lucky shot. It appeared to strike the top of the periscope. As it did not ricochet, the captain of the Demerara assumed that the periscope had been hit. Whether that was the case or not, at any rate nothing further was seen of the submarine. Events supported the conjecture that the mine which the Demerara had tried to destroy was merely a decoy.

 

The incident had a curious sequel. On September 6th the German Legation at Buenos Aires delivered a note verbale to the Argentine Minister for Foreign Affairs to the effect that

 

" The steamer of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company Demerara, which will arrive here probably to-morrow, the 7th, was guilty of attacking the armed forces of His Majesty the German Emperor. It is thus demonstrated that her armament was not mounted for purposes of defence. For this reason the Imperial Legation begs the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic to be good enough to take the requisite steps in order that the competent authorities shall apply the treatment of war vessels, from every point of view, to the said vessel on her arrival."

 

The British Government was able to show that the British vessel had employed its guns merely for the purpose of offering defence against an attack carried out, moreover, under cover of a decoy mine. Captain Gillard was mentioned in despatches in recognition of the skilful manner in which he had saved his vessel.

 

When May closed the record showed that in that month nineteen ships, of 84,025 tons, had been sunk. In the amount of tonnage destroyed, as well as in the number of men, women, and children killed, this month was the worst which had yet been experienced, and in no corresponding period during the remainder of the war did the destruction of human life reach so high a figure. In addition to the shipping destroyed, nineteen vessels, of 117,591 tons, were damaged or molested by enemy submarines. No losses were sustained owing to the action of mines or aircraft.

 

During the early months of the summer events were to show that the protest of the United States Government, the sense of brotherhood exhibited by neutral seamen, and the pluck, skill, and endurance of British officers and men were producing no effect on the official mind of Germany. It was still believed in Berlin that the submarine would prove the instrument of speedy victory, and then Germany would be free to deal with neutrals, and in particular with the United States. So the campaign against merchant shipping was pursued with a relentless insensibility to all human instincts. On the opening day of June eight men were killed when the Saidieh (3,803 tons) was sunk. On June 9th the Lady Salisbury (1,446 tons) went down, three men losing their lives, and six days later the master of the Strathnairn (4,336 tons), as well as twenty of his companions, was drowned.

 

The month closed with the sinking of the Armenian (8,825 tons) with the loss of twenty-nine lives, of the Scottish Monarch (5,043 tons) with a loss of fifteen lives, and of the Lomas (3,048 tons) with the loss of one life. The blowing up of the Arndale (3,583 tons) by a mine at the entrance to the White Sea, when three were killed, raised the death roll for the month of June to eighty-one.

 

Ample evidence was forthcoming that the Germans, in spite of their protestations, had no intention of abandoning the practice of torpedoing ships without

 

THE " SAIDIEH " AND " STRATHNAIRN "

 

warning. The Saidieh was on her way from Alexandria to Hull when she met her fate near the Elbow Buoy in the North Sea at 2 p.m. on June 2nd. She was unarmed, and had almost completed her voyage when a shock was felt from stem to stern and volumes of water rose on the starboard side. The chief mate (Mr. Daniel Jenkins), standing on the bridge with the Trinity pilot, who had been taken aboard at Deal, at once sounded the whistle and ordered all hands to get ready to lower the boats. Two minutes previously the master (Mr. J. R. Ryall) had gone into his cabin. He rushed to the deck when he felt the concussion. The ship was rapidly sinking, and within six minutes had disappeared beneath the waters. In addition to her crew of forty-one officers and men, she had on board eight distressed seamen. When the boats were swung out, six firemen and an A.B. were reported as missing, and the presumption was that they had been killed by the explosion. While No. 3 boat, which contained several members of the crew and the stewardess, was being lowered an accident occurred. One of the falls had been cut by a Greek seaman, the boat capsized, and the occupants were thrown into the water.

 

They were fortunately rescued, patrol-vessels having quickly come to the scene. While these events were occurring, the chief mate noticed a submarine's periscope 50 or 100 yards distant, but the enemy had no compassion on the unfortunate mariners and their companions. After being rescued, the stewardess died from the shock she had sustained. The survivors and the body of the dead stewardess were landed at Chatham.

 

The sinking of the Strathnairn caused heavier casualties than had occurred in any ordinary trading-vessel since the Tangistan went down on March 9th. The Strathnairn (master, Mr. John Browne) was bound from Penarth to Archangel with coal. At 9.30 p.m. on June 15th, when the vessel was twenty-five miles N, by E. from Bishop and Clerks, the second mate (Mr. J. H. Wood), who was asleep in his cabin, after being relieved by the chief officer, was thrown out of his bunk by an explosion. When he reached the deck he noticed that, although way was still on the ship, a lifeboat and a gig had been lowered and had been smashed against the vessel's side. Captain Browne came to the conclusion that the vessel was sinking and slipped down a lifeline into a lifeboat which had been lowered with a number of Chinese seamen in it. Owing to the boat's painter being cut before the boat had been released from the dropping gear, it also collided with the vessel's side and all the occupants were washed out of it. Realising the error which had been made in lowering the boats too soon, Mr, Wood waited until the ship was stopped before launching the remaining gig. Fortunately the Strathnairn, though a little deeper in the water, had taken only a slight list to port, and the gig was successfully launched with the assistance of the remaining ten Chinamen on board. Mr. Wood allowed the gig to drift astern in the hope of picking up the captain, but was disappointed.

 

At this moment he saw the periscope of a submarine moving round the stern of the vessel, taking no interest in the plight of the unhappy survivors. For some time the gig remained near the doomed ship, and then Mr. Wood decided to row to the eastward. Early on the following morning, after a night of many vicissitudes, he and his companions were picked up by the Amanda of Padstow, and later in the day reached Milford Haven. The experience of the first engineer (Mr. J. C. Smith) and the Chinese carpenter was less happy. The former jumped overboard with the Chinaman and throughout the night the two men, white man and yellow man, clung for life to a capsized boat. Not until 6.30 on the following morning, after nine hours' physical and mental agony, were they picked up by the Abbotsford of Glasgow and landed at Swansea.

 

These two vessels, together with the Inkum (4,747 tons), the Strathcarron (4,374 tons), the Lady Salisbury (1,446 tons), the Erna Boldt (1,731 tons), the Leuctra (3,027 tons), the Dulcie (2,033 tons), the Tunisiana (4,220 tons), and the Dumfriesshire (2,622 tons), were all torpedoed without warning. The Armenian, the Scottish Monarch, and the Lomas were, however, captured before being sunk. Nevertheless the loss of life was heavy. The first-named vessel, of the Leyland Line, was on voyage from Newport News to Avonmouth with 1,422 mules for H.M. Government. Shortly after noon on June 28th, she was steering to pass ten miles north of Lundy Island when she received a wireless message from Crookhaven stating that submarines were active south of the Smalls. The master (Mr. James Irickey) determined to make for Trevose Head. At 6.40 p.m.,

 

THE " ARMENIAN'S " GALLANT FIGHT

 

when twenty miles west of this point, a submarine was sighted on the port bow, about three miles away, steaming towards the Armenian on the surface. As the British ship, though unarmed, had a speed of 14 ½ knots, Captain Irickey decided to make a fight for it.

 

He accordingly headed for the submarine with the intention of ramming her. The enemy, however, opened fire and Captain Irickey turned his ship stern on to the submarine so as to decrease the target. Several shots fell ahead and astern of the merchantman until the range was found, when the wireless telegraph house was wrecked. Another shell entered the firehold and started a fire. Captain Irickey with his officers and men set to work to subdue the flames, but other fires were caused by subsequent shells. One struck the steering gear, putting it out of action, and another fell on the engine-room hatch, sending debris on to the engines, which were, however, kept at full speed. During this phase of the one-sided action twelve of the crew were killed and others injured. Captain Irickey still held on to his course.

 

When the unequal ordeal had lasted nearly an hour, the funnel was struck, the shell passing down into the body of the ship. The stokehold was put in darkness and the boilers were so damaged that steam could not be maintained. The master then realised that escape was impossible. He hoisted the white flag and blew the ship's whistle in token of surrender, preparations being made simultaneously to abandon ship. Whether the submarine failed to notice the British signals or was determined to punish to the uttermost so persistent an opponent will never be known. At any rate the shells continued to fall on the crippled vessel, damaging the boats' falls and causing some of the boats to hang by one fall only, with the result that many men were thrown into the water. Eventually all the surviving members of the crew were able to get away.

 

The captain, satisfied that no one was on board, himself left. But shortly afterwards an improvised raft was seen leaving the Armenian with the chief engineer, the veterinary surgeon, and the purser; they also were rescued. When all six boats were clear of the ship, the submarine approached and, getting into position on the port quarter, fired a torpedo into the Armenian. Under Captain Irickey's orders, the hatches of the lower hold had previously been battened down, the ballast tanks pumped out, and the refrigerator boxes secured, thus giving additional buoyancy to the vessel. Consequently the first torpedo left the Armenian still afloat and another was discharged, this time into the stokehold, with the result that the ship forthwith began to sink rapidly. Owing to the action of the captain, the enemy had to expend about fifty shells, as well as two torpedoes. As she sank rapidly the Armenian, with a length of 530 feet, presented a remarkable spectacle; half her length was reared into the air.

 

The ship having been dispatched, the submarine — U38 — dived and disappeared. The commander showed, however, a measure of humanity; before diving he rescued three or four men from the water. Captain Irickey's boat being the only one with a compass, the other boats were collected and connected astern. A course was then made for land under sail. At 7 o'clock the following morning the Belgian steam trawler President Stein took the men on board and at noon turned them over to the destroyers Mansfield and Milne, which landed them at Avonmouth that afternoon. The unequal action resulted in the loss of twenty-nine lives, including the fourth engineer and twenty American cattle attendants. The Admiralty marked their appreciation of the master's efforts to save his ship and its valuable cargo by conferring upon him the Distinguished Service Cross. The quartermaster, W. A. Goss, and two firemen, T. Davies and E. G. Talbot, received the D.S.M., and the second officer, Mr. H. O. Davies, and the chief engineer, Mr. J. Crighton, obtained "mentions."

 

The Scottish Monarch was a slower ship than the Armenian, but nevertheless the master (Mr. R. H. Potter) made a determined effort to get away from the enemy. The vessel was forty miles south of Ballycottin Light, County Cork, when the third officer sighted two submarines about two miles off on the starboard beam. They were flying the German ensign. Captain Potter immediately went on the bridge and starboarded his helm so as to bring the submarines astern of him. He proceeded to steer a zigzag course at about 11 ½ knots. One of the submarines then disappeared, but the other quickly overhauled the Scottish Monarch and when about a mile away opened fire.

 

THE " SCOTTISH MONARCH " TORPEDOED

 

The first shell did little damage, but three later ones, fired at close quarters, made a hole in the port side of the vessel. There was nothing for it but to stop the engines and lower the boats, into which the crew made their escape. Captain Potter, however, remained on the bridge while the submarine continued firing at intervals, holding the starboard side. When the decks of the Scottish Monarch were awash, the master got into his own boat during an interval in the attack, and three-quarters of an hour later the Scottish Monarch sank out of sight. Captain Potter and nineteen of the crew were picked up by the Miami of Glasgow, about thirty miles south of Hook Point, early on the following morning and landed the same day.

 

The submarine's attack had caused no casualties, but in leaving all these men afloat far from land the enemy became responsible for the loss of fifteen lives. The sea was choppy and the two boats which were still afloat remained in company for some time, but soon the one under the first mate (Mr. J. Gabrielsen) capsized. All the hands managed to regain the boat, but she was full of water and the tanks were adrift on the starboard side. In the meantime sight had been lost of the master's boat. The unfortunate men, with the first mate, were left without hope of succour in their waterlogged craft.

 

Before midnight she had capsized three times more and only four men were left — the first mate, the carpenter (Michael Appson), and two seamen, all of them with lifebelts on. On the following morning a vessel was seen, and the carpenter hoisted a handkerchief on a stick hoping to attract attention. Although the strange ship passed close by the boat, the pitiful signal of distress was evidently not seen. Then the two seamen became exhausted and were washed overboard. Vessels appeared on the horizon and disappeared, since there was no means of attracting their attention. About five o'clock that afternoon, after weary hours of hope unfulfilled, the first mate, who was sitting aft, dropped with exhaustion into the water which filled the boat, and died. The Scottish Monarch having gone down on the evening of June 29th, it was not until eight o'clock on the evening of July 1st that the carpenter, the sole survivor of the boatload, was picked up by a fishing-boat and landed on the following afternoon at St. Ives, where the body of the first mate was quietly carried ashore. Among the flotsam and jetsam washed up at Ile de Batz nearly a fortnight later was a cylindrical lifebuoy bearing the name of the sunken ship, all that remained of the Scottish Monarch of Glasgow.

 

The experience of the Lomas, to the sinking of which reference has been made, was happily less tragic. All went well on her voyage from Buenos Aires to Belfast until June 30th, when the vessel was some distance off Bishop Rock. The master (Mr. Phillip Evans) was on the bridge when, in the clear morning light, he saw a submarine about two miles astern of him well exposed on the surface. He at once gave orders for all possible speed and steered so as to keep the enemy ship astern of him. The submarine gave chase, and when she had drawn within two miles of the Lomas began firing.

 

Captain Evans still held on his course, counting the shells as they fell. Seventeen shells were fired and nine of them hit the vessel, the second mate being killed. The Lomas was only making about 7 ½ knots, so, as escape was impossible, the master stopped the ship after an ordeal which had lasted an hour and a half. The submarine was then almost alongside the vessel. When the crew had left the ship in the boats, the enemy vessel set to work to sink her by gunfire and torpedo. As the Lomas began to settle down, the submarine commander hailed the lifeboats to put the inquiries which, according to established custom, should have preceded offensive action. What was the name of the vessel and her nationality, her tonnage and cargo; where did she come from and where was she bound? All these questions having been answered, and the Lomas having gone down, the submarine disappeared. One man had been killed during the stern chase, but the master and the rest of the crew were fortunate in being picked up within an hour and landed at Milford Haven.

 

These were a few of the tragic incidents which marked the progress of the submarine campaign during the month following upon the destruction of the Lusitania and the dispatch of the Note of protest by the United States Government. The record would be incomplete were there no reference to the circumstances which attended the destruction of the Iona (3,344 tons) on June 3rd. The Iona was twenty-two miles off Fair Island (lat. 59 degrees 13' N,

 

HEAVY LOSSES ON JULY 1

 

and long. 1 degrees 12' W.) when she was pursued by a submarine. The master (Mr. D. Ritchie) had hopes of escape and ordered all possible speed. The submarine then began firing, one shot passing through the after wheel-house, and a second striking the port side of the saloon. Captain Ritchie's own cabin was wrecked and a fireman was injured. Realising that it was hopeless to make further resistance, the master stopped the ship and the crew took to the boats. While the men were taking their places, the enemy ship continued firing, one shot injuring the second mate; the steward was also slightly wounded. The ship was then sunk by a torpedo. The shipless officers and men were thus left afloat without apparent hope of rescue. The submarine, after sinking the Iona, destroyed a trawler which was in the vicinity, and the merchant seamen and fishermen then joined company and shaped a course for land. They rowed in desperation through the night, and happily on the following morning were sighted by the patrol trawler Dover and taken into Kirkwall.

 

The month of July (1915) opened badly for the British Mercantile Marine, no fewer than seven vessels being destroyed on the first day. Of these two were attacked near the Fastnet and the remainder at the entrance of the English Channel. The enemy continued to exhibit a wide catholicity, not disdaining to sink comparatively small sailing-vessels, at a great expenditure of time, labour, and explosives. The enemy's methods in this respect were illustrated in the case of the sailing-vessel L. C. Tower (518 tons).

 

This little four-mast schooner (master, Mr. L. C. Tower) was on her way to Newport, Monmouthshire, with timber when she fell in with a submarine. With all sails set, she was making a course towards Lundy Island. It must have been apparent to the Germans that the vessel was of comparative unimportance, but, nevertheless, they overhauled the L. C. Tower at their best speed, ordered the vessel to be abandoned, and then expended a good deal of trouble in setting her on fire. The crew got ashore at Crookhaven in their motor-boat, and the vessel, burnt to the water's edge, was afterwards towed into Berehaven.

 

On the afternoon of the same day the Welbury (3,591 tons) was sunk in the same locality. The master (Mr. Robert Newton), on noticing that the enemy was trying to signal " Abandon ship immediately," turned his vessel's head towards the nearest point of land. The submarine, noticing the manoeuvre, proceeded to cut the Welbury off, and then discharged a warning gun. The pursuit was a short one, as the enemy craft had the advantage of speed, and, moreover, maintained a steady fire on the vessel, not ceasing even after she had stopped. One shot went through the engine-room. Whereas in the case of the L. C. Tower the British flag was confiscated, no step was taken to obtain such a souvenir out of the Welbury.

 

More serious events were in the meantime happening at the entrance to the Channel; the Gadsby (3,497 tons), the Craigard (3,286 tons), and the Richmond (3,214 tons) being sunk off the Wolf Rock, and the Caucasian (4,656 tons) and the Inglemoor (4,331 tons) captured and destroyed off the Lizard. In the case of the Gadsby (master, Mr. St. John Olive) the submarine commander showed unexpected consideration for the men whom he was leaving afloat in their small boats; he inquired whether they had provisions and sails, and then, giving them the position — which proved to be incorrect — torpedoed the merchant ship and disappeared. Fortunately the crew was soon afterwards picked up by a Greek steamer and landed at Londonderry, without further misadventure, two days later.

 

At this early date in the submarine campaign, British seamen were irritated by the ignominious fate which was dogging them; their vessels were in most cases of slow speed and they were, in accordance with the custom of many years, without any means of defence. The story of the Craigard (master, Mr. A. McCullough) may be given as typical of the misfortunes which often faced the dauntless men of the British Merchant Navy. From the beginning of his voyage, from Galveston (Texas) to Le Havre, nothing but disaster had befallen him. On June 16th the high-pressure engine broke down. That seemed the crowning disaster. After a stoppage of ten hours. Captain McCullough was able to proceed at an average speed of 7 ½ knots. His troubles, however, were not over.

 

" At about 8.30 p.m. July 1st and in lat. 49 degrees 8', long. 6 degrees 10' W. I saw," he afterwards declared, " to the southward of us, and at a distance of about six to seven miles.

 

A CURIOUS INCIDENT

 

what seemed to me something like a torpedo-boat coming up to us very fast, a dense volume of smoke coming from the craft. I had my doubts what this stranger might be; however, I was not long kept in suspense, for without any warning whatever the stranger commenced firing at us, and as he came nearer he displayed a signal to get into the boats at once, and at the same time he hoisted the German flag. When he commenced firing I ordered the helm hard a-starboard, stopped my engines, and ordered the boats to be lowered, keeping the craft as well astern as possible. He kept firing away at us until he saw the boats in the water. Then he went on the port quarter and let us have a few more on the port side. He then left us and went after another steamer about a mile to the north of us and commenced shelling this steamer, putting about a dozen shells into her on both sides. Afterwards he returned to my steamer and finished her off about 9 p.m. of the same date; it being dark at the time, I do not know whether he boarded her or not, as we were about a mile away from the steamer when a terrific explosion occurred at the hour named above. Thus I was forced to abandon my ship through not having any arms on board to retaliate or defend ourselves, and, being in a helpless state as regards speed, I could not do more than I did."

 

The crew were more fortunate than perhaps they realised at the time. None of them was injured, and eight hours after they had taken to the boats they were picked up by one of His Majesty's ships and landed at Plymouth. The sinking of the Caucasian and the Inglemoor took place in the early morning, and was marked by an incident suggesting that, though the enemy was bent on ignoring the higher code of humanity, some of the German seamen still retained, curiously enough, a kindly feeling towards dumb animals. The Caucasian (master, Mr. F. H. Robinson), on voyage from London to Norfolk and Jacksonville, U.S.A., was about eighty miles south of the Lizard when at 5,45 a.m. a submarine was sighted in the clear morning light. She was on the surface and was coming at full speed towards the merchantman. She signalled "Abandon ship at once," but Captain Robinson, though his vessel could not do more than about 9 knots, ignored the order and steered a zigzag course, hoping to keep the enemy astern. The submarine then opened fire, the shells falling all round the Caucasian, and at last the steersman left the wheel. The master, who had been on the upper bridge watching the movements of the submarine, descended to the lower bridge and took the wheel, while the second mate remained on the lookout. After a chase of sixty-five minutes, the seventeenth shell struck the compass stand and steering standard, with disastrous results, the vessel becoming unmanageable.

 

When the crew had taken to the boats, the enemy commander came alongside and declared that he intended to sink even the lifeboats, because his order to stop had not been obeyed. At that moment Captain Robinson's dog fell overboard, and instinctively he jumped into the water to save it. He was clinging to the rails of the submarine, when the German commander exclaimed with surprise, "You jump overboard to save a dog!" The master made no reply, but the commander, evidently moved at Captain Robinson's affection for his dog, announced that the boats could proceed.

 

That there was a limit to the enemy's consideration was, however, proved a short time afterwards when the Inglemoor (master, Mr. A. W. Stonehouse) appeared on the scene. Captain Stonehouse, noticing the two boats full of men with a submarine nearbv, decided to rescue the distressed mariners; he hoped that the enemy would, in the circumstances, spare his own vessel. He was, however, to be disappointed. He was compelled to abandon the Inglemoor under heavy fire. He reminded the enemy commander that the crews of the two vessels amounted to about one hundred men, and asked permission for them to go on board the motor-barge he had been towing. The request was granted. The submarine then torpedoed the Inglemoor and nothing more was seen of her. Jury-sails were rigged on the barge, the master and men of the Caucasian were picked up, and later on the motor engine was started. These companions in misfortune fortunately fell in with a patrol-vessel soon after noon and were eventually taken in to Penzance, thankful that they had fared no worse than they had done. Captain Robinson was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

 

In one day upwards of 23,000 tons of shipping had been sunk, but fortunately the enemy was unable to maintain

 

ACTIVITIES OF U39

 

this high standard of destruction during the remainder of the month, which closed with a total loss of less than 49,000 tons owing to the submarine campaign. On July 3rd only two ships, the Renfrew (3,488 tons) and the Larchmore (4,355 tons), were captured, both of them being sunk by gunfire off the Wolf Rock, an area which had already yielded the enemy so many prizes. The master of the latter ship (Mr. Isaac Jones) afterwards put on record a succinct, but none the less eloquent, account of his experiences.

 

In the early morning he heard two muffled reports to the east-south-east, apparently some distance away. Shortly afterwards two destroyers crossed his bow going full speed towards the firing, and the Larchmore forthwith hoisted her colours. This dramatic incident occurred at 5.30 in the morning, and suggested that U39, which had already done so much injury, was being hotly pursued. The Larchmore proceeded on her voyage, the course of events suggesting that immediate danger of an attack was over. Shortly after seven o'clock, however, the submarine appeared again, half submerged, two to two and a half miles away. She at once rose to the surface and opened fire. A rapid succession of shots fell on the merchant ship, and Captain Jones was thrown down by the concussion, injuring his knee. For a quarter of an hour the firing was vigorously maintained as the submarine drew in towards the doomed vessel. One shell killed the donkeyman, and the ship was holed in several places. Escape was impossible, so the crew took to the boats, shells falling round them as they sought this miserable means of safety.

 

The submarine afterwards approached the boats where the dying donkeyman lay, and Captain Jones was cross-examined. This minor ordeal was soon over, and the submarine resumed firing into the merchant vessel. He was busily engaged in this task when a cruiser appeared on the horizon. Assistance had come too late to save the ship, but at least the crew were assured of their own safety. Captain Isaac Jones, who was mentioned in despatches, was, in company with the other survivors, afterwards landed at Falmouth, together with the master (Mr. J. F. Stevenson) of the Renfrew, which had also been submitted to a heavy bombardment because the master had refused to capitulate at the first signal which U39 had made. Two other ships, the Arabia (7,933 tons) and the Guido (2,093 tons), were also chased on this day, but managed to escape.

 

Only two ships were attacked on July 4th, and one of these, the little sailing-vessel Sunbeam (132 tons), was captured off Wick. A conspicuous vindication of the resourcefulness and high courage of British merchant seamen was supplied by the officers and men of the Anglo Californian (7,333 tons). At 8.30 a.m. this vessel, on passage from Montreal with a large number of horses, was about ninety miles south of Queenstown when an enemy submarine was sighted breaking surface on the port beam about three miles away. The master (Mr. Frederick Parslow) immediately realised the imminent danger which confronted him. Every effort was made to increase speed, and the ship was manoeuvred so as to bring the enemy astern. An S.O.S. signal was sent out, and to the relief of everyone on board was at once answered by a British man-of-war. For half an hour the submarine continued to chase the Anglo-Californian, gaining on her rapidly. At last the enemy came within firing distance, and then for an hour and a half, while the merchantman zigzagged backwards and forwards to confuse the aim of the enemy, a steady fire was maintained.

 

The British vessel was frequently hit, and in order to save life Captain Parslow decided to obey the signal to abandon ship. The engines were stopped and the boats manned: the port after lifeboat was successfully lowered, but one of the falls of the starboard boat was struck by a shell, with the result that the boat fell away and capsized. The submarine at last ceased firing and then closed. Captain Parslow's courage in maintaining the chase had not, however, been fruitless, for at this juncture an armed ship, the Princess Ena, which had been slowly overhauling the submarine, opened fire at 9,000 yards, to the consternation of the enemy. The shot fell short, but a wireless message from a destroyer " to hold on " gave Captain Parslow fresh courage. The course of events seemed to be favouring him, so the firemen who were in the boat still on the davits were ordered to go once more below, and orders were given for the ship to get under way. The men responded with fine spirit to the master's orders. The submarine, fearing that after all the ship might escape, opened fire at close range on the bridge and boats, rifles as well as the vessel's

 

AN EPIC OF THE SEA

 

guns being brought into use. Captain Parslow and his men were without any means of defence. In a few moments the upper bridge had been wrecked and the master killed; the steering wheel and compass had been damaged and one of the port davits smashed, causing a boat to drop into the sea, together with all its occupants. The chief officer again ordered the ship to be abandoned, the firemen came up from below, and the remaining boats were manned and lowered. The outlook seemed black when suddenly the destroyers Mentor and Miranda steamed up. The submarine, counting discretion the better part of valour, dived out of sight. The Anglo Californian then proceeded under escort to Queenstown, which was reached in safety.

 

Captain Parslow had succeeded in saving his ship, but at the sacrifice of his own life, and twenty members of his crew were also killed, seven others being wounded. Everyone on board, from the master downward, had exhibited pluck and coolness, as well as seamanlike competency, in the emergency. Frederick Parslow, the son of the master, had remained on the upper bridge with his father throughout the action, steering the ship. By little short of a miracle, he was unwounded, although one of the spokes of the wheel was blown away and the bridge was riddled. Under the unnerving circumstances which confronted him down below, the chief engineer (who, with Mr. Frederick Parslow, afterwards received the Distinguished Service Cross) maintained discipline. Throughout the fierce fusillade the wireless telegraph operator stuck to his post on the lower bridge, sending and receiving accurately a number of messages. A veterinary surgeon (Mr. F. Neal), who was in charge of the 900 horses on board, not only rendered aid to the animals, of which twenty were killed, but under heavy fire attended to wounded members of the crew. The chief officer (Mr. H. O. Read), who in the later phase of the action, after the death of the master, acquitted himself well, was, in common with the second engineer (Mr. H. F. Suddes) and the wireless operator, awarded a mention in despatches. As long as the memory of these early days of the submarine campaign persists, the story of the unequal fight put up by the unarmed Anglo-Californian under her heroic captain will be retold as an epic of the war by sea.

 

That the Germans had lost respect for the common humanities to which civilised seamen of all nationalities, not excluding avowed pirates of earlier days, had always paid respect, was shown by the circumstances in which the Meadowfield (2,750 tons) was destroyed on July 9th. The four preceding days had been disappointing for the enemy. On the 5th, on the 6th, and on the 7th not a single vessel had been captured. Aircraft had unsuccessfully attacked the Groningen (988 tons) four miles off the Galloper, but the bombs had missed their objective and she had escaped unscathed. The 8th was also a poor one for the Germans, for only one ship, the Guido (2,093 tons), was torpedoed off Rattray Head. The Traquair (1,067 tons) was chased on the same day near Knock Deep, but her speed enabled her to escape.

 

The submarine commanders must have known that the German Admiralty were anxiously looking for better results than were being achieved, and it may be that irritation under failure accounted for the callousness exhibited by the submarine which fell in with the Meadowfield on the afternoon of July 9th. She was a Glasgow vessel and was carrying copper ore from Huelva. She had started on her voyage on July 3rd, and was fifty miles south-west of the Tuskar when the master (Mr. Thomas Dunbar) heard the sound of a shot. He took up his glasses to ascertain whence it had come. Just as he had picked up the outline of a submarine on the port quarter, another shot was fired which wrecked the chart-room under the bridge as well as the wheel-house, killing Neil McLean, who was at the wheel. Captain Dunbar immediately ordered the engines to be stopped. In addition to his crew he was carrying five passengers, including two ladies and two children, and he could not put their lives in added danger by resistance. He had confidence that if the Germans realised that the Meadowfield had on board children as well as women they would at least cease firing while the boats were lowered. So the two children were held up and must have been seen by two of the officers of the submarine who were watching all that was happening on board the vessel through their glasses. That they had no mercy was proved by the fact that the shelling of the merchant-ship still continued. In a statement which he subsequently made on oath, Captain Dunbar recorded subsequent events:

 

AN UNEQUAL STRUGGLE

 

" Deponent (?) ordered the boats out, and the mate and fourteen hands got into the port boat and deponent and the remainder of those on board, who included two lady passengers, one male passenger, and two children, got into the second boat, which was the starboard lifeboat. As the port boat was being lowered the submarine ceased firing, but as soon as she got clear recommenced, and continued firing during the time deponent's boat was being lowered and got away."

 

Thus Captain Dunbar found himself in charge of two heavily laden boats, which included among their freights two women and two children, forty-two miles from the nearest land. The submarine continued to shell the Meadowfield until she sank, and then disappeared. Fortunately at 9 o'clock that night the two boats were seen by the Grimsby trawler Majestic, and Captain Dunbar and his companions were safely landed at Holyhead shortly after midnight. That the sinking of the Meadowfield resulted in the loss of only one life was due to no consideration on the part of the Germans.

 

On the same day the Ellesmere (1,170 tons) was torpedoed forty-eight miles from the Smalls, apparently by the same submarine. The master (Mr. C. W. Heslop) was on passage to Liverpool when the enemy was sighted two miles on the starboard bow. Captain Heslop brought the submarine astern of him and then the shells began to fall. The second one carried away the after davit of the starboard lifeboat. Four other shells afterwards struck the ship, but still the master hoped against hope that he might save his ship. With shells falling around him, he still held on his course. At last a shell passed through the bridge deck, killing one man and shattering the left arm of another. The firemen down below were in no mood to continue the unequal struggle, and, as there was no place from which to navigate the vessel, the master ordered the Red Ensign to be lowered in token of surrender. A few minutes later, after the crew had got away, the Ellesmere was torpedoed. Captain Heslop, who was subsequently " mentioned " for his spirited conduct, had made a plucky effort to save his ship, and in his sworn statement after he and his companions had been rescued by the armed trawler Osprey II, he declared that the casualty " might have been avoided by having a gun and a gun's crew on board the Ellesmere." That was the cry of many ships' masters at this period, but new armies were being raised and equipped and required all the armament which the country could provide.

 

These were the only two vessels which were sunk on July 9th; two other ships were attacked, but effected their escape. The Pacific Steam Navigation Company's Orduna (15,499 tons) was molested by gunfire and torpedo off Queenstown; the gunfire was ineffective, and the torpedo missed the target. For the second time the master (T. M. Taylor) could congratulate himself on the skilful and successful handling of the great liner he commanded, for on the 28th of the previous month he had been chased off the Smalls. Another vessel which was also brought safely into port on July 9th was the Leyland liner Etonian (6,438 tons), which, having eluded the enemy near Queenstown on May 7th, was again chased by a submarine off the south of Ireland. Competent use of her high speed saved her from destruction.

 

The master (J. C. Murray) of the Winlaton (3,270 tons) showed on July 10th how even a slow ship handled with determination could worst the enemy. The afternoon was far spent when a submarine was seen steaming hard towards the merchantman with the evident intention of cutting her off. The Winlaton had little speed, and her master dismissed the idea of a chase. He decided that his only course was to steer straight for the enemy. This he proceeded to do, to the evident surprise of the officers of the submarine. The Germans watched the merchantman for some time, and when she was about a mile away from them they put the nose of the submarine down and were soon out of sight. Twenty minutes later the submarine again appeared on the surface, well astern of the Winlaton, but after a short interval steamed slowly away. This was the first instance reported to the Admiralty of a slow ship sighting a submarine at a distance and by steering straight for her causing her to dive and decline action. In recognition of his initiative and courage, Captain Murray was given a commission as a Lieutenant, R.N.R. and a " mention."

 

During the remainder of the month, though thirteen ships were chased by submarines, only six of them were

 

THE TOLL OF JULY 23

 

destroyed, and of these but two — the Grangewood (3,422 tons) and the Iberian (5,223 tons) — exceeded 2,000 tons. The master of the last-named ship (Mr. Thomas B. Jago) attempted to get away. Circumstances seemed to favour him, for the submarine was about seven miles distant when first sighted in a position over seventy miles south of the Fastnet. He had under his orders a well-found ship with a turn for speed, and when he gave orders for a full head of steam he received excellent support from the engine-room. The enemy, however, had evidently noticed that the Iberian was unarmed, and he had no hesitation, therefore, in attempting to overhaul her. As he gained upon the merchantman, shells began to fall, and one of them pierced the deck and decapitated four men besides wounding several others. The next shell struck in the same place and blew one man to pieces. Captain Jago realised that he could not expose his crew to further risk of death, and accordingly he ordered the ship to be stopped.

 

Leaving behind the bodies of the four men who had been killed, but taking with them the eight wounded, the officers and remaining men manned the boats and were soon clear of the doomed vessel. The submarine then closed in and discharged a torpedo into the Iberian. The commander, having reproached Captain Jago with running away, provided bandages and lint for the wounded, and then, having discharged another torpedo into the port side of the merchantman, disappeared. "Had I had a gun," the master afterwards recorded, " I would have sunk the submarine and certainly the Iberian would have escaped." Late that night the boats attracted the attention of a steamer, which took the exhausted officers and men on board. Before Queenstown was reached two of the wounded seamen died. Captain Jago was " mentioned " for his service.

 

During the remaining days of the month sixteen more lives were lost, four on board the Firth (406 tons), which was sunk near Aldeburgh Napes buoy, and eleven in the Mangara (1,821 tons), which was destroyed near Sizewell buoy, Aldeburgh. Both vessels were torpedoed without warning. The other casualty occurred in the Turquoise (486 tons). This ship, together with the Nugget (405 tons), was captured and sunk by gunfire off the Scillies. The month of July closed with the loss of twenty ships, of 52,847 tons, the African Monarch (4,003 tons) having been blown up by a mine on the 6th of the month at the entrance of the White Sea and two men killed. Nineteen other ships, of 88,886 tons, had been molested or damaged, including two which struck mines and the one, already mentioned, which had been attacked by aircraft. The deaths reached a total of fifty-nine.

 

During August enemy submarines made a determined attempt to justify the high hopes which the Germans had entertained when they determined to employ submarines, as well as mines, in attacking ocean-borne trade. Before the month closed forty-nine vessels of the British Mercantile Marine, of 147,122 tons, had been sunk with a loss of no fewer than 248 lives. Twenty-one other ships had escaped, but nevertheless the toll exacted of men and ships was a heavy one. So far as tonnage is concerned, it was indeed the most successful month the Germans had hitherto experienced, and it was apparent that exceptional efforts were being made to support public confidence throughout Germany in the ultimate victory of the Central Powers as the result of the campaign. Although seven ships disappeared after striking mines, the great bulk of the tonnage fell to the submarine. August 1915 was indeed a black month for British shipowners and British seamen.

 

On August 1st the Clintonia (3,830 tons), after a spirited defence by her master (Mr. Geoffrey Donnelly) under a heavy fire, was sunk thirty miles from Ushant; five Europeans and five Lascars were drowned owing to the capsizing of a ship's boat, and a number of men were wounded during the running fire which the submarine maintained before Captain Donnelly ordered his engines to be stopped.

 

On the same day three more casualties from drowning occurred when the Banza (2,320 tons) was overtaken off Ushant by U68. After the ship had been abandoned and had disappeared beneath the waves and the submarine had gone away, the shipless crew hoisted sail. One of the boats capsized; she was righted with difficulty, but was still waterlogged and the sails had been lost. About an hour later she again capsized and was once more righted. For six hours the unfortunate seamen, when they were not fighting for life in the water, were

 

AN OUTSTANDING CRIME

 

sitting in the boat with the water covering them up to the chest. One fireman became delirious and fell to the bottom of the boat and was drowned before he could be picked up. His body was quietly lowered over the side. Fortunately, during the evening of this tragic Sunday a French fishing-boat rescued the twelve survivors. The other boat of the Ranza was picked up by a Dutch vessel.

 

During the succeeding days of August the losses of tonnage continued to mount up, many useful vessels of considerable tonnage being destroyed. On the 3rd inst. the Costello (1,591 tons) was sunk by gunfire ninety-five miles W. by S. from Bishop Rock, with a loss of one life; two men were killed in the Glenby (2,196 tons) thirty miles N. from the Smalls; two seamen were killed in the Dunsley (4,930 tons), which was sunk off the Old Head of Kinsale; and then occurred one of the outstanding crimes of the submarine campaign when the White Star Company's liner Arabic (15,801 tons) was sunk by U24.

 

The enemy craft had bombarded the naphtha tanks near Harrington on August 16th, and then, proceeding by way of the St. George's Channel, had reached a position where the Atlantic traffic was thick. The Arabic had left Liverpool early in the afternoon of August 18th with 137 cabin passengers and forty-nine third-class passengers, of whom many were of neutral nationality. They included twenty-six Americans, as well as French, Russians, Belgians, Swiss and Spanish travellers, with a German who possessed a Home Office permit. The crew numbered 248. As the vessel was outward bound to the United States, there was no possibility that she carried ammunition. All the boats were fully equipped and carried compasses, oilbags, oil lamps, sea anchors, and matches, and were in a thoroughly seaworthy condition. The boats were carried inboard on their chocks, and all rafts and patent boats were unlashed and ready to float off. Six hundred lifebelts had been placed about the decks, fore and aft, so as to be handy in case of an emergency. The watertight doors had been closed, as well as the doors of the shaft tunnel, and the lower deck ports had been secured. Every precaution had, in fact, been taken to secure the safety of the ship and all on board.

 

About 9 o'clock on the following morning, when the vessel was about fifty miles off the Old Head of Kinsale, a steamer was sighted five miles away on the starboard bow. The Arabic was zigzagging, in view of the general peril to which British ships were exposed in these waters, and the general direction of her course gradually brought her nearer to what was evidently a British merchant ship, which was stopped. It was noticed that two boats under sail, full of men, were making towards the land, which was, of course, out of sight. Observers on board the Arabic saw that the steamer was well down by the head, and realised at once that she had been torpedoed by the enemy. This vessel was the Dunsley of London, which had been subjected to a heavy shelling for twenty minutes — two men being killed, as already stated, and six others injured before the master (Mr. P. L. Arkley) abandoned hope of saving his ship.

 

The chief officer and the second officer were on watch on the bridge of the Arabic when the sinking Dunsley came into sight. The master of the Arabic (Mr. W. Finch) concluded that the Dunsley had been torpedoed, so he altered course about three points to the southward, intending to keep well clear of the area in which a submarine might be lurking. For some time the liner continued on her new course, still zigzagging, and a wireless message was promptly dispatched notifying the fate which had overtaken the Dunsley.

 

No submarine, however, was seen at this period either from the bridge or by the lookout men. The passengers and others who were watching the Dunsley sinking lower and lower in the water were hoping that after all the Arabic would escape molestation, when the ship was shaken from end to end by an explosion, the wireless-room being wrecked and the aerial carried away. The second officer (Mr. F. F. Steele) had just moved to the starboard end of the bridge when a line of air-bubbles on the starboard bow, about 100 yards away, caught his attention. He instantly realised that a torpedo had been discharged at the liner, and he shouted to the master, " Here he is, sir. He has let go at us. Hard a-starboard! " Captain Finch, who had also observed the menacing streak, at once gave orders for a full head of steam and the helm was put over. Everyone on board who was aware of the impending crisis anxiously waited to see if the ship would clear the torpedo. Doubt was quickly resolved, the vessel being struck aft, almost

 

U24 SINKS THE " ARABIC "

 

abreast of the jigger mast. The Arabic was doomed; the second officer put the engine-room telegraph to " Stop " and then to " Full speed astern" so as to get way off her, and thus enable the boats to be launched. Captain Finch, noticing that the ship was beginning to list to port, ordered everyone to the boats, for there was no time to be lost.

 

It is unnecessary to describe the scene on board when the passengers, who included a large number of women and children, realised that within a few minutes the Arabic would probably sink. The sequel showed that the ship had been well organised for an emergency; while of the crew of 243, 21 lost their lives, only 18 passengers — 12 cabin and 6 steerage — were reported missing, so efficiently and quickly were the boats swung out, lowered, and filled. Seeing that the time which separated the impact of the torpedo and the sinking of the Arabic amounted to only eight minutes, it was due to no act of mercy on the part of the enemy that the death-roll was not far greater.

 

Captain Finch remained on the bridge directing operations for the saving of life, and when the Arabic sank, having righted herself before she plunged stern first, he went down with her. A few seconds later he rose to the surface, to discover that his vessel had completely disappeared. A man of robust build, of about seventeen stone, he managed to cling to a raft from which, exhausted though he was, he swam to a boat. He helped a fireman into her and then picked up a woman and a baby before he himself sought this poor means of safety. After another fireman had been rescued, the whole of the little company transferred to a lifeboat which was near-by, and Captain Finch took command of all the craft which were afloat among the wreckage. Mr. Bowen, chief officer, and Mr. Oliver, first officer, had also remained in the ship until the last, Mr. Oliver diving overboard from the forward part of B Deck on the starboard side, while Mr. Bowen slid down the after fall of No. 1 emergency boat, to be picked up by one of the boats already in the water.

 

As soon as the engines had stopped, all hands left the stokehold except one man who was standing by the telegraphs and a junior engineer (Mr. P. G. Logan). No purpose was to be served in remaining, so they too began to climb up to the deck. What happened to the fireman is uncertain, but Mr. Logan escaped and was afterwards able to give an account of his experiences. He left the engine-room on the port side of the deck below the main deck. Securing a lifebelt, he ran along the port alleyway. When he had advanced a short distance, the water met him and he threw the lifebelt away, as it impeded his progress. At last he was able to reach the companionway to the poop, which was already three feet under water. On the starboard side a boat, with about a dozen persons in it, was already afloat on the falls, indicating the rapidity with which the Arabic was sinking. Mr. Logan unhooked the forward fall and a quartermaster released the after fall. The boat was thus got clear of the vessel, which disappeared a few minutes later. Just as the Arabic was sinking, Mr. Logan saw a collapsible boat with six or seven persons in her, who were apparently unable to control her. As the boat was only ten or fifteen yards away, he took off his boots and boiler suit and swam towards her, and then took charge. With the aid of his companions, he pulled towards the wreckage and fourteen persons were rescued from the water.

 

In the meantime Mr. Steele, the second officer, had taken charge of No. 11 boat, which was safely lowered with thirty-seven occupants. The first officer had found temporary safety in this overcrowded boat, but a few minutes later he transferred to another, while the third officer went to a collapsible boat which was near-by. Apparently a large proportion of the deaths were due to the capsizing of No. 16 boat. This craft was drawn by the suction of the water towards the rapidly sinking Arabic, which had assumed an almost perpendicular position. A davit caught the boat and smashed it into pieces. Forty-two or forty-three people were consequently thrown into the water. An able seaman managed to reach one of the rafts, with which the White Star Line had recently equipped the Arabic as well as other vessels under their control, and from this position of comparative safety he effected a number of rescues. The carpenter of the Arabic, Norman MacAuley, was also responsible for saving a number of lives. As soon as the fate of the vessel was certain, he went to the saloon door on Deck C and assisted some ladies in putting on their lifebelts. He then plunged down to the after part of

 

BRITISH SPIRITS

 

E Deck to investigate the damage which had been done there, but he was driven back by the flow of water. Going to the boat deck, he was able to give aid to a number of other lady passengers and subsequently returned to Deck C. He afterwards gave an account of his later experiences:

 

" My boat station was No. 7. I helped people into No. 7 boat and then, as there were plenty of hands there, I assisted others into No. 5 and No. 3 boats. The water was now coming over the stern, and C Deck was submerged for a considerable distance. No. 3 boat was filled up, and as no passengers were to be seen on deck, I took my place in this lifeboat and kept her clear of the ship's side as she was lowered. The boat reached the water safely. My boat picked up two other persons — one steward and one passenger — after the boat had sailed four times through the wreckage."

 

These chance stories of the manner in which the Arabic, with her freight of 429 persons, was abandoned in the urgent emergency convey some conception of the fine spirit exhibited by officers and men, from Captain Finch downwards, in their care of those confided to their charge. Fortunately the S.O.S. signal which had been sent out by the liner when the Dunsley was seen to be in distress was responded to quickly by patrol vessels, and all the survivors, numbering 390, were landed at Queenstown.

 

The remainder of the month yielded other incidents to show that nothing that had yet occurred by sea had broken the spirit of British merchant seamen. They would not admit defeat even when, unarmed themselves, they were confronted by a desperate enemy possessing gun and torpedo in association with power of submergence, enabling him to deal stealthy and mortal blows. Among the narratives of this period there stands out the case of the Eimstad (689 tons). A submarine hailed the ship off Cross Sand Lightvessel on August 17th, at the same time opening fire with both guns. None of the eleven shells hit the Eimstad. Then a torpedo was fired, which missed. In the meantime the master (Mr. F. A. Holder) had all lights doused, himself cutting the steamlight halyards. An attempt to ram the submarine failed. but the spirit which was exhibited eventually caused the enemy to abandon the contest and he disappeared. Captain Holder was " mentioned " for saving his ship.

 

Another conspicuous case of resistance was that of the Diomed (4,672 tons), belonging to Messrs. Alfred Holt & Co. This ship (master, Mr. J. Myles) was outward bound from Liverpool to Shanghai. She carried a crew of fifty-three hands, and had on board a mixed cargo of about 8,000 tons. At 11 o'clock on the morning of August 22nd the Diomed was about fifty-seven miles W.N.W. from the Scillies — an area in which very heavy losses were sustained during this month— when a submarine was observed. Captain Myles was on the bridge with the chief officer, and as the Diomed could steam at about 13 1/2 knots and the enemy was distant at least six miles, he determined to make a fight for his vessel and all that she carried. So the helm was ported and very soon the submarine was lost to sight.

 

It looked as though the Diomed would escape. But after she had run for a considerable time in a westerly direction, a submarine — whether the same one as had been first sighted or another is uncertain — was observed on the port beam. The distance was again estimated at about six miles. Once more the helm was ported in order to bring the submarine astern. These incidents occupied three-quarters of an hour, and the immunity they had hitherto rewarded his efforts gave Captain Myles fresh confidence. But at last the enemy lessened the distance separating her from the merchantman and opened fire. The range was about three miles. For over two hours the chase had been in progress when the shot began to break up the stern of the ship; fire was then concentrated on the fore part of the vessel, and then it was directed against the bridge. The enemy had made no signal and was flying no flag. The first victim was the third steward, who was killed while standing on the fore part of the ship. Shortly after two o'clock Captain Myles was mortally wounded as well as the quartermaster, while the chief officer (Mr. F. A. McGowan Richardson), on whom the command had now devolved, was himself seriously injured.

 

By this time the position of the Diomed had become hopeless, and the chief officer ordered the vessel to be abandoned. Two boats on the port side had been reduced to matchwood by the shellfire, and of the two

 

AN ADMIRALTY COMMENDATION

 

boats on the starboard side one had been holed. This damage was unfortunately not observed until the boat had been lowered into the water with twenty men in her, when she rapidly filled and capsized. Mr. John Rennie, the second mate, took charge of the uninjured starboard boat, but an internal explosion in the engine-room of the Diomed resulted in a quantity of water being shipped. In these circumstances the prospect of any of the officers and men being saved seemed slight.

 

The Germans on board the attacking submarine evinced no interest in their fate. The damaged starboard boat had capsized, and the unfortunate men who had been in her were left to the mercy of the waves. Mr. Rennie, fully realising his responsibility, succeeded in getting his boat baled out, and then the men in the water were picked up. Those who were clinging to the capsized boat had to be left for the time being, as Mr. Rennie, with thirty-four men in his charge, could do nothing for them. He had hopes of getting out the gig before the Diomed sank, and with this intention drew in towards the doomed vessel. The submarine had apparently disappeared, but as soon as Mr. Rennie approached the Diomed, the enemy reappeared on the surface and made towards him, compelling him to abandon his purpose.

 

In the circumstances nothing more could be done, and a few minutes later the Diomed disappeared beneath the waves. Mr. Rennie in his heavily laden boat then headed for the Irish coast. At about six o'clock he fell in with a destroyer, which promptly returned to the spot where the Diomed had been sunk and picked up the survivors on the capsized starboard boat. In the deposition which he subsequently made Mr. Rennie stated that the " submarine rendered no assistance. The Commander looked at the men in the water and shook his fist at me, saying something in German." The splendid resistance which Captain Myles and his officers and men had made in the effort to save their ship was highly commended by the Admiralty, and the Distinguished Service Cross was conferred on the chief officer. The toll of life lost was ten, the master and two others being killed by the shell-fire and seven being drowned through the capsizing of the starboard lifeboat, which the enemy's shell-fire had rendered unseaworthy.

 

Three other incidents find place in the record of this month, and they all occurred on August 21st at the entrance to the Channel. The Cober (3,060 tons) and the Ruel (4,029 tons) were sunk, but the other vessel, the San Melito (10,160 tons), was rescued. The master (Mr, John J. Peterfield) of the former put up a plucky fight on this summer day. He came across a submarine when forty-five miles S.S.W. from the Scillies. He promptly brought her astern of him and a chase lasting an hour ensued, during which the enemy maintained an intermittent fire of high-explosive shells. At last the poop was struck and considerable damage was done. Some of the men of the Cober, without waiting for orders, rushed the boats and tried to lower one of them, with the result that several of them were thrown into the water. Captain Peterfield still continued on his course, ordering the chief officer to endeavour, in another boat, to rescue the men who were fighting for life about two miles off. In this he succeeded against heavy odds. All hope of saving the Cober had been abandoned, and Captain Peterfield, bowing before the inevitable, at last prepared to abandon his ship. The submarine had submerged, and as he left the ship at 1.20 p.m. a torpedo struck the Cober on the port side, and in a short time she sunk. Fortunately for Captain Peterfield, who was " mentioned " for his conduct, as well as for his companions, they were soon afterwards picked up by the Dutch steamer Monnikeandam and were landed at Falmouth.

 

The Cober was a slow ship, but the San Melito (master, Mr. James D. Jackson) was one of the Eagle Oil Transport fleet with a turn for speed. She was seventy miles S.W. from the Lizard when a submarine appeared. Captain Jackson manoeuvred his ship to bring the enemy astern at 2.50 p.m., and in the meantime ordered full speed. An official record of subsequent events is to the following effect:

 

" The San Melito was struck on the starboard side by a shell, the concussion stunning the master, and at the same time the quartermaster left the wheel, which was taken by the chief officer (Mr. W. Piper) for the remainder of the action. The submarine continued to chase and shell the San Melito until about 3.30 p.m., doing slight

 

A BRUTAL DEED

 

damage to the ship, but causing no casualties among the crew. Patrol craft then appearing about five miles off, the submarine dived and disappeared."

 

In these circumstances, owing to the courage and determination of Captain Jackson and his officers and men, the San Melito was saved. Captain Jackson, the chief officer, and the chief engineer (Mr. W. Morralee) were mentioned in despatches, and Captain Jackson was also given a commission as Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve.

 

The officers and men of the Ruel were singled out for a demonstration by the enemy of the brutal methods he was prepared to adopt in the hope of breaking the spirit of the British merchant seaman. This ship left Gibraltar on August 16th for Barry Roads, in ballast, and on the afternoon of August 21st a submarine appeared on the starboard quarter and opened fire at a range of about three miles. The master (Mr. Henry Story) altered his ship's course to westward and, raising all steam, which gave him a speed of 8 ½ knots, managed to keep the submarine astern of him. A chase ensued which lasted for one and a half hours, when a shell passed through the Ruel's stern, another bursting over the bridge. By this time the enemy was only a mile away, and the crew of the Ruel took to the two boats. The submarine then closed in and fired six effective shots. The enemy had killed one man, a steward, and had wounded eight others, but he was still unsatisfied and proceeded to fire on the boats, the submarine commander picking men off with his revolver.

 

Captain Story, the second officer (Mr. W. J. Stenhouse), and Lieutenant D. Blair, R.N.R., subsequently made a statement on oath to the effect that " when in the act of abandoning the steamer Ruel in a sinking condition due to attack by a German submarine, we were fired on while alongside and pulling away from the above vessel, the wounds of those injured showing that both shrapnel and rifle bullets were used." They added that " the submarine was distant about 150 yards, and close enough for the crew to observe that we and the remainder of the crew of the steamer Ruel were abandoning the ship and had given up any further attempts to escape." The Ruel sank forty-five miles S.W. from Bishop Rock, and the survivors were fortunate in that as she disappeared the armed trawler Dewsland appeared upon the scene, accompanied by the drifter Campania. These two craft, though they arrived too late to save the Ruel from destruction, drove off the submarine and rescued Captain Story and his companions, who were landed, without further incident, at St. Mar, in the Scillies.

 

For reasons which were afterwards to be revealed, the losses from submarine attack both of ships and men during September were far less heavy than in the preceding month. The number of ships — eight, of 11,997 tons — blown up was, however, the highest hitherto recorded, suggesting that the enemy had been devoting increased attention to the laying of minefields. In all seventy-seven men were killed and the thirty ships which were sunk were of 101,690 tons. A further indication of a temporary lull in the submarine campaign in the waters surrounding the British Isles was furnished by the small number of ships which were molested by the enemy but succeeded in making their escape.

 

Twenty-seven vessels were interfered with by submarines, and their records furnish a number of illustrations of the spirit exhibited by officers and men in the unequal contest. The master (Mr. Henry John) of the Whitefield (2,422 tons) made a spirited effort, under a running fire, to elude capture off Cape Wrath, on the north-west coast of Scotland, on September 1st, while on his way from Archangel to Nice. On the following day the Roumanie (2,599 tons), also outward bound from Archangel, was captured and destroyed by bombs off St. Kilda. Although the Churston (2,470 tons) was mined off Orfordness, four men being killed, on September 3rd, the British Mercantile Marine suffered no other loss on that day. Within twenty-four hours, however, enemy submarines had obtained full compensation for this failure; three large ships met their end off the Fastnet, the Cymbeline (4,505 tons), the Mimosa (3,466 tons), and the Allan liner Hesperian (10,920 tons).

 

In the case of the first ship six lives out of a total crew of thirty-seven were lost owing to the action of the enemy commander. He had kept the vessel under fire for about half an hour, and then as the crew were leaving the ship a torpedo was discharged which hit the vessel amidship on the port side under the bridge. One of the boats

 

ANOTHER UNUSUAL INCIDENT

 

was smashed by the explosion and six men were killed, the remainder being fortunately picked up by the other boat. For sixteen hours the survivors were buffeted about by the waves, wondering whether they would ever see land again. Five of their number had been injured by the explosion, one of them seriously. The submarine had made off as soon as it was certain that the Cymbeline could not survive. By a happy chance these distressed mariners in sad plight were observed by the Swedish barque Alhatros, and at last they reached Brandon Quay. One incident of interest marked the destruction of the Mimosa, one of the vessels of the Anglo-American Oil Company. When the master (Mr. T. N. Hugo) had taken to the boats, the commander of the submarine, apparently feeling some pity for his victims, cast adrift 137 miles S.W. by W. from the Fastnet, told Captain Hugo that he would tell the first trawler he saw to pick them up.

 

The sinking of the Hesperian, a great passenger liner with over 600 persons on board, again attracted attention to the callous inhumanity with which the campaign was being conducted by the enemy. Only a few days before Count Bernsdorff, the German Ambassador, had assured the United States Government that " passenger liners will not be sunk without warning and without insuring the safety of the non-combatants aboard providing that the liners do not try to escape or offer resistance." The Hesperian was nevertheless sunk. She was outward bound from Liverpool to Quebec and Montreal, with a general cargo, and carried about 300 passengers. There was no suspicion, therefore, that she had on board either munitions or troops, but nevertheless she was torpedoed without warning. It was a fortunate circumstance, and to the credit of her owners, that she had sufficient lifeboat accommodation for more than three times as many persons as were on board, and that there was a liberal supply of lifebuoys and lifebelts, otherwise the death-roll would have been far heavier than it was.

 

The vessel was going at full speed, zigzagging on her course, when she was struck. That the subsequent explosion was due to a torpedo and not to a mine was proved by fragments of the missile which were secured by the master (Mr. W. S. Main) and by members of his crew. The attack on the Hesperian was therefore a flagrant violation of the pledge which the enemy had so recently given to the United States. The impact of the torpedo and the explosion which followed stopped the vessel, and Captain Main sounded the boats-station signal on the steam whistle and ordered the chief officer to get the passengers into the boats. Of the 314 passengers a large number were women and children, and the order went forth, " Women and children first," the crew being instructed to stand by their stations. The ship, after shivering fore and aft under the impact, had listed ten degrees to the starboard and sank by the head. A column of water and debris was thrown up into the air a distance of about 100 feet and fell on to the deck and bridge. The hatches on No. 2 deck were blown up and considerable damage was done to the second cabin and bridge decks. Fortunately none of the boats had been damaged or their fittings injured, and, in spite of the terrifying experience which had suddenly confronted them, the passengers evinced no signs of panic. They must have realised that they were in desperate straits, but nevertheless they remained cool and collected. The boats were filled and got away safely. The torpedo had been discharged at 8.30 p.m., and within an hour the boats were clear of the vessel. After the attack had taken place. Captain Main had ordered an S.O.S. call to be sent out, and within a short time rescuing vessels were on the spot.

 

 

 

The Loss of a British Merchant Ship

 

The master afterwards mustered those who remained on board the Hesperian and found that, including himself, there were thirteen — three officers, three engineers, two Marconi operators, the boatswain, the carpenter, and two seamen. The night was far advanced, and the ship was very much down by the head. There seemed a chance, however, that she might be saved, and continued efforts were made to tow her into Queenstown from the early morning of September 5th onwards by the naval vessels which had responded to the signal. During the afternoon the liner became unmanageable; time and again the towing ropes carried away, and then a southerly gale sprang up and high seas were encountered. Throughout the long day the master and his companions, reinforced by some of the crew who had returned to the Hesperian' s assistance, strove to save the injured vessel. As night came on the gale increased and the seas rose higher. The

 

THE SINKING OF THE " HESPERIAN "

 

vessel was labouring heavily and the list had increased, suggesting that she was gradually sinking. Captain Main at last came to the conclusion that in the interests of the lives in his charge — over thirty officers and men who had stood by him on board in the emergency — it was his duty to order everyone to take to the lifeboats. He himself at last submitted to the inevitable and also took shelter on board H.M.S. Veronica.

 

With searchlights playing upon the Hesperian, the Veronica remained close to the doomed ship throughout the night of anxious watching. Early on the succeeding morning, although the gale at sea had not abated, Captain Main and ten of his crew again boarded the Hesperian. Their worst fears were confirmed; the ship was rapidly sinking, and nothing could be done to save her. She went down at 7.47 a.m. on September 6th, within twelve minutes of the master passing over the side for the last time. The sinking of the Lusitania, with a loss of 1,198 lives, had shocked the conscience of the world; the destruction of the Arabic had drawn from the United States a Note of protest to Germany; and now, in defiance of the pledge given by Count Bernsdorff, the Allan liner Hesperian had been attacked without warning eighty-five miles from the nearest point of land and thirty-two lives had been sacrificed. It was realised that the comparative smallness of the death-roll was due, not to any consideration on the part of the enemy submarine, but rather to the admirable construction of the ship, the life-saving appliances with which she had been provided by her owners, and the calm way in which officers and men, as well as the passengers, had behaved in the great hour of emergency.

 

The spirit of desperation with which the Germans were conducting the submarine campaign was again illustrated when the loss of the Ashmore (2,519 tons) was reported. This was a well-found vessel of Aberdeen which had been chartered by the Belgian Relief Commission to bring a cargo of maize from Rosario to the distressed population of the country which the enemy had overrun in the early days of the war. Her voyage was uneventful as far as Dover, where the master (Mr. G. A. Noble) received instructions, on resuming his passage to Rotterdam, to keep on a line between Elbow buoy and the Kentish Knock Lightship. Captain Noble, having taken a pilot on board, put out from Dover at 5 a.m. on September 12th. Three and a half hours later, when the Ashmore was steaming between the Kentish Knock and the Galloper Lightship, the boatswain, who was on the after deck, noticed the track of a torpedo approaching the ship. Before he could give the alarm the vessel was struck. Nothing was seen of a submarine, but the naval authorities were satisfied that the ship had not struck a mine, but had been torpedoed without warning.

 

The stricken Ashmore began at once to settle down after the explosion, which apparently had killed four men in the engine-room and stokehold. Captain Noble tried to go below to ascertain the fate of these men, but he found that the water had already risen to a height of about 20 feet, while steam was escaping from the boilers. Everything suggested that the four men had been killed outright. The majority of the crew were ordered away in the two lifeboats, but Captain Noble with the second officer, the carpenter, and steward remained on board. The master went in search of the ship's papers, but his cabin had been completely wrecked. The ship had taken a heavy list by this time, so at last Captain Noble and his companions passed over into one of the lifeboats which had been called alongside, and ten minutes later nothing was to be seen of the Ashmore. The crew were fortunate in being almost immediately afterwards rescued by mine-sweepers, and were soon afterwards landed at Chatham by a patrol-steamer to which they had been transferred.

 

Three days later the Patagonia (6,011 tons) was also torpedoed without warning. She was on passage from Odessa to Nicolaieff in ballast, and within an hour and a half after leaving port she was struck aft. The second officer, who was on watch at the time, saw the torpedo approaching and instantly ordered the helm to be put hard aport. If it had not been for this prompt order the ship would have been hit amidships. The master (Mr. D. T. Davies) was well supported by his officers and crew in the emergency, with the result that no lives were lost. A similar immunity from casualties fortunately attended the destruction of three ships on September 23rd off the Fastnet. At 8.30 a.m. the Anglo-Columhian (4,792 tons) was nearing the end of her voyage from Montreal to Avonmouth with a large number of horses when

 

AMERICAN PROTESTS

 

she was shelled by a submarine and eventually sunk. Early on the same afternoon the Chancellor (4,586 tons) shared the same fate in this locality, though the master (Mr. R. N. Donald) put on all speed in the attempt to escape. He was carrying a general cargo from Liverpool to New Orleans, and in view of the slowness of his own ship and the speed of the enemy his position from the first was almost hopeless. That evening the master (Mr. R. Steel) of the Hesione (3,663 tons) noticed a ship's lifeboat crowded with men evidently in distress. This proved to be a lifeboat of the Chancellor in charge of the chief officer (Mr. R. H. Herbert). Captain Steel's natural instinct was to bear down on the boat and rescue the men. This he did. He then reduced speed in order to effect the rescue. Mr. Herbert, warned by the fact that the submarine was still on the surface and conscious of the heavy price which might be exacted of the rescuing vessel, signalled to the Hesione to proceed.

 

By this time Captain Steel had also sighted the submarine and realised the danger into which he had run by acting in accordance with the code of the brotherhood of the sea. He called down to the engine-room for all possible speed and thus brought the submarine right astern of him. A strong wind was blowing and the seas were running high, and try as they might the engine-room staff could not obtain more than 7 knots, whereas the Hesione was capable, under more favourable conditions, of 10 ½ knots. The submarine opened fire, but Captain Steel still held on his course. At length he realised that the contest was hopeless and he ordered the ship to stop. In a short time the crew had taken to the boats, and then the Hesione was sunk by gunfire.

 

The firing had attracted patrol-vessels to the spot and both crews were rescued. With the sinking of the Urbino (6,651 tons) off the Bishop Rock on September 24th (1915), the submarine campaign in the waters round the British Isles was suspended for the time being. The American protests which followed the sinking of the Arabic and the Hesperian were too serious to be ignored, and during the months of October and November not a single merchant ship was either molested or sunk, and it was not until the end of the first quarter of the following year that merchant seamen in these areas were again confronted with this particular form of attack. The enemy had decided to shift the scene of his operations to other waters which promised to yield good results in association with less chances of becoming embroiled with the United States or of arousing other neutrals to combined action. The submarine campaign was forthwith transferred to the Mediterranean, in which few ships carrying American passengers were likely to be encountered.

 

This decision represented the triumph, if only temporary triumph, of British merchant seamen. They had refused at Germany's dictation, and in spite of Germany's unprecedented acts, to keep out of that part of the " war zone " which embraced the waters round the British Isles. If they had, cravenly, avoided the manifold perils of which they had had such ample evidence, the enemy would have encountered none of the difficulties which arose with neutrals, and particularly with the United States, and he would have won the war owing to the starvation of the people of the United Kingdom, and the cutting of the communications with the armies engaged in Belgium and France. But, owing to the dogged persistence of British merchant seamen, Germany's diplomatic troubles increased. On June 6th orders had been issued that no large passenger ship, whatever her flag, should be attacked. As we have seen, these instructions were not obeyed. Immediately after the sinking of the Arabic, Count Bernsdorff informed the United States Government — to the great indignation of the German naval authorities responsible for the operations at sea, but with the full approval of the Imperial Chancellor — that the submarine commander who had been responsible for that loss would be punished. The differences of opinion between the naval and civil elements in Germany were sharply accentuated by this action. On August 27th instructions were issued that no further submarines were to be sent to sea for attacking merchantmen until the diplomatic position had been cleared up.

 

Three days later it was decided that until further notice no small passenger ships were to be sunk without warning and without steps being taken to rescue the crew. On the 1st of the following month the Naval Secretary telegraphed to the Chief of the Cabinet, for submission to the Emperor, that " this order could only be carried out at the utmost danger to the submarines, for which he could not be responsible." He asked permission

 

NEW GERMAN ORDERS

 

to resign his office, but this was refused. On September 18th the decision was reached that the " general position necessitated that for the next few weeks all risks should be avoided of breaches of regulations laid down for the campaign." (My Memoirs, by Grand Admiral von Tirpitz.) Orders were accordingly given to suspend all submarine activities of any sort on the west coast of the British Isles and in the English Channel, and to carry on operations in the North Sea only in accordance with the ordinary prize regulations.

 

 


 

 

 

CHAPTER II

 

AUXILIARY CRAFT'S FIGHT AGAINST THE SUBMARINES

 

Before the German Emperor's decision was reached to limit submarine operations, so as not to arouse further American opposition, the intensity of the enemy's attack on merchant shipping was imposing heavy burdens on the Auxiliary Patrol. During the month of August 1915 shipping was being destroyed off Ushant, off the Norfolk coast, off the Scillies, off the south-west coast of Ireland, off St. Abb's Head, off the Lofoten Islands, and the Old Head of Kinsale, in the Aegean, off the Tuskar, in the Irish Sea and elsewhere. The campaign had assumed a threefold character. First, there was the steady submarine warfare going on in the North Sea and off the western coasts as a matter of almost established routine. Secondly, a concentration was being made on what may be described as the south-western approaches, i.e. the track followed by shipping entering the English or Irish Channel from the Atlantic or Bay of Biscay. Finally, there were the episodic attacks by submarines on their way out from Germany to the Mediterranean, where, as will be seen later, the enemy was concentrating his forces.

 

Everywhere the Auxiliary Patrol was working at its maximum efficiency. New plans were continually being tested in order to defeat the enemy. In the Irish Sea, for instance, three armed yachts, the Lady Blanche, Sabrina, and Bacchante, were patrolling between the Tuskar and Bardsey Island. Between the Tuskar and the Smalls nets were being towed by a long line of drifters, reinforced by half a dozen armed trawlers. Four other units of six trawlers were patrolling the area between Youghal-Tuskar-Bristol-Channel-Scillies, with the armed yacht Jeanette exercising a general supervision and the armed yacht Sapphire, patrolling between Minehead and Trevose Head, acting as a wireless link. A new Commander-in-Chief, Vice-Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, had been appointed

 

GERMAN CONFIDENCE

 

to take charge of the Irish area. This officer, who had had experience both in the Grand Fleet and as President of the War College, went to Queenstown when the south-western approaches were becoming the principal area of the enemy's activity. His was a difficult task, made none the easier by the fact that his forces consisted only of a small flotilla of the newly built sloops (originally intended for mine-sweeping), in addition to trawlers, drifters, armed yachts and motor-boats.

 

It is impossible to deal at length with every incident of the operations of the Auxiliary Patrol during this period, but it is essential to convey a correct appreciation of the character and extent of the German operations in home waters. The most experienced submarine officers were doing their utmost to support German confidence. U22 left Borkum at the beginning of August and sank the armed merchant cruiser India off Westfjord, Norway, on August 8th. On August 4th U27 left for the Irish coast, but was sunk by the decoy ship Baralong on the 19th. U38 also proceeded to the south-west approaches and within five days sank twenty-two cargo vessels, five trawlers, and three sailing-ships, chiefly by gunfire during thick weather. On August 4th U34 and U35 left Heligoland for the Mediterranean with orders to wage war only as far as the latitude of the English Channel and then proceed without delay for Cattaro, which was reached on August 23rd. On August 5th U24 and U25 were also operating, the former proceeding round the north of Scotland and the west and south of Ireland, up the Irish Sea, sinking, as has been stated, the White Star liner Arabic.

 

Before the end of the month U33 and U39 were ordered to leave Germany for the Dardanelles, spreading destruction around them on passage. The former passed out of Borkum on August 28th, north about, sank a steamer off Cape Wrath, then came down the west coast of Ireland on September 4th and sank the Cymbeline off the Fastnet. On her southerly progress she also sank the Mimosa, the Storcsand, a Norwegian sailingship, and finally the John Hardie, ninety-eight miles W. by S. of Cape Finisterre on September 6th. She then continued her voyage without further incident, passed through the Gibraltar Straits and, having arrived in the Mediterranean, was sighted and attacked by H.M. Torpedo-Boat 95 six times on September 9th, when fifty miles west of Alboran island; but she reached Cattaro on September 16th, and then began to carry out the task for which she had been selected — the sinking of enemy shipping in the Mediterranean. Similarly U39 left Germany on August 27th, proceeded north about on September 2nd, attacked the sailing-ship William T. Lewis ninety-five miles west of the Fastnet, and then carried on for the Straits of Gibraltar without further adventure. Having entered the Mediterranean, this vessel was sighted on September 8th about 130 miles east of Cartagena going south-east. She sank several more vessels, and reached Cattaro on September 13th. Such, then, was the new position at sea. The solution of the submarine problem had become more difficult than ever, apart from the increasing trouble due to mines; off the south-east coast of England UC 1, 3, 5, 6, and 7 were particularly busy mine-laying.

 

In these new conditions the trawlers of the Auxiliary Patrol were leading a varied life. Some Portsmouth trawlers had to be used for escort work across the English Channel owing to the scarcity of destroyers; off the Lowestoft coast other trawlers were employed in protecting the " War Channel," along which sixty merchant ships, on an average, daily passed escorted by these fishing-craft; and wherever submarines were likely to operate, drifters laid their nets. Even when patrol-vessels returned to port, there was frequently no rest for them. On August 10th, Just after midnight, a Zeppelin appeared over Dover harbour dropping bombs, one of which exploded on striking the water and damaged the armed trawler Equinox, then lying at anchor, hitting her in forty-three places. Three of her crew who were in their bunks asleep were wounded. Another armed trawler, the Cleon, not far off, was also damaged.

 

The alertness of the vessels of the Auxiliary Patrol made the submarine's life more exciting than comfortable. Owing to the enemy's superiority in speed on the surface and his more powerful guns, it often enough happened that the submarine escaped; but if the trawler or yacht could not claim to have sunk the U-boat, at least many a merchant ship was spared from destruction owing to the enemy's attention being distracted. An incident in the summer of 1915 illustrated this fact. On August 14th

 

THE SAVING OF THE " MAXTON "

 

the trawler Amadavat (Skipper P. P. Glanville), based on Milford, was patrolling about 3.45 p.m. ten miles south-south-east of the Tuskar. She was armed with one 6-pounder. A submarine was seen a mile away on the port bow. The Amadavat proceeded at full speed (8 knots) towards her and fired a couple of shots. This made the enemy submerge. The Amadavat then headed for the line of drifters and warned them of the danger in which they were standing, and afterwards proceeded north-north-west towards the position where the U-boat had last been seen.

 

The enemy craft was discovered half a mile astern of a big steamer. The trawler again opened fire, and after four shots the submarine disappeared. Skipper Glanville then wisely surmised that the enemy would appear the next time ahead of the steamer, so the gunner of the Amadavat was ordered to train his 6-pounder on the bow of the merchantman. The submarine did appear as expected, whereupon the trawler fired two more shots which dropped very close, causing the submarine to alter course away from the trawler. The Amadavat continued firing, the third shot smothering the enemy conning-tower with spray. After this narrow escape the submarine disappeared. The trawler forthwith picked up the steamer's boats and resumed the patrol. By persistency and eagerness, combined with courage and common sense. Skipper Glanville had undoubtedly saved this vessel — the Maxton. He was afterwards commended for his promptness and foresight, even though the submarine had escaped.

 

Curiously enough, on the next afternoon a somewhat similar incident occurred in the North Sea. Near Smith's Knoll, off the East Anglian coast, the four Grimsby paddle-steamers, Brighton Queen, Westward Ho!, Glen Avon, and Cambridge, were engaged mine-sweeping. Not far away were some Lowestoft smacks, which had become favourite targets for the enemy submarines. Suddenly, at 2.15 p.m., the paddlers sighted a submarine of the UB type. Sweeps were immediately slipped, and the once familiar excursion steamers chased the submarine, opening a brisk fire with their guns. On board the Brighton Queen it was thought that the third round hit the enemy's conning-tower. It is amusing to picture an excursion paddle-steamer putting a warship to flight. That is, however, what happened. This prompt action, though it did not lead to the destruction of the German submarine, certainly saved the fishing-smacks.

 

But the submarine had not made good her escape, for on that same Saturday night she fell to one of the disguised Lowestoft fishing-smacks to which reference has already been made. This was the ketch Inverlyon, which had been armed with a 3-pounder. Her crew comprised her fishing skipper and three hands, all enrolled temporarily in the Royal Naval Reserve (Trawler Section). Her fighting crew consisted of a gunner R.N. (Mr. E. M. Jehan), who had with him four R.N. ratings. At 8.20 p.m. this sailing-smack was trawling three miles north by east of Smith's Knoll spar buoy when she sighted U4. When the enemy had got within thirty yards the German ensign was observed, and an officer was heard shouting something about " boat " — most probably ordering the Inverlyon to launch her boat and come alongside.

 

The submarine then stopped. The smack promptly hoisted the White Ensign and Mr. Jehan discharged his revolver at the German officer, this being the signal for the naval ratings to open fire from the 3-pounder. Nine rounds were promptly got off, of which the first and third shots were thought to have pierced the centre of the conning-tower and exploded inside; the second shot cleared away the after part of the conning-tower, as well as the German ensign. The German officer fell overboard on the starboard side, probably dead. The submarine then came round the Inverlyon's side with the tide, so that she was distant only about ten yards. At this extremely short range six more shots were fired from the smack, the first striking the conning-tower, the second and fourth going over it, and the third, fifth, and sixth hitting the hull. The submarine went down at a very sharp angle, and it was confidently assumed that she had been fatally injured. The bodies of three men, who were still outside when the U-boat submerged, came to the surface; one of the Germans was still alive and was shouting appealingly to be rescued. Skipper Phillips, in the Inverlyon, with instinctive gallantry and humanity, undressed and swam off with a lifebuoy, but the man sank before he could reach him. The Admiralty awarded Mr. Jehan a Distinguished Service Cross for this smart and successful action.

 

SUBMARINES OFF IRELAND

 

A short, sharp submarine raid off the Irish coast, lasting from December 25th to December 28th, occurred with dramatic suddenness at the end of 1915. Comparative peace had settled down since September, and this outburst was an unpleasant surprise. If enemy craft on their way to the Mediterranean had imagined that the vigilance of the patrol craft would be relaxed during Christmastide, they were mistaken. At 1.35 p.m. on Christmas Day, when about nine miles W. by S. of the Smalls, the Van Stirum, used as an Admiralty transport, was attacked. She endeavoured to escape and sent out distress calls. At 2.20 p.m. she wirelessed the message: " Done for; pick me up five miles south of the Smalls." One shell had struck her on the starboard quarter and another had brought down her aerials. At 2.35 p.m. she was abandoned and the submarine torpedoed her. The torpedo passed under a partly lowered boat and struck the ship abreast the engine-room, blowing the American boatswain to pieces. At 4.15 p.m. the submarine returned to the ship and shelled her. At this point the enemy noticed three fishing-vessels approaching at high speed, the first vessel being the Belgian trawler Nadine, which was fishing out of Milford. Her skipper, on hearing the firing, hauled up his trawl, steamed in the direction of the sound, and was able to take on board the entire crew of the Van Stirum, whom he brought into Milford just before midnight. It was pure chance that the Belgian was fishing in that neighbourhood, but it was very fortunate for the men of the merchantman.

 

The next thing was to find the Van Stirum, if still afloat. At 8.30 next morning the trawler Evangel (Lieutenant W. A. Peter, R.N.R.) discovered her with a heavy list eighteen miles south-east of the Tuskar, a pathetic derelict. A fine effort was made to save the ship. The Evangel launched her boat and put four of her men on board the Van Stirum to handle the tow ropes. There was no steam for the steering-wheel or means of putting in the hand-steering gear, so the vessel could not be controlled. At 10 a.m. the drifter Lupina arrived, together with her group of Milford drifters. These craft were ordered to act as follows: One was directed to proceed to Rosslare so as to get a report through to Admiral Dare at Milford; one was to cruise towards the Tuskar and one towards Milford to obtain towing assistance. At 10.20 a.m. the trawler Loch Awe came on the scene and took a tow rope from the Van Stirum's quarter in order to steer her, but this rope soon parted. The Loch Awe then changed positions with the Evangel, which had been towing ahead.

 

The Evangel had buoyed the wire tow rope for the Lupina to pick up, but the latter in doing so unfortunately fouled her own propeller. This was cut clear and a rope was then taken from the derelict's quarter. About 11.80 a.m. the Loch Awe and Lupina were towing ahead with the Evangel steering astern, the intention being to make the Blackwater, on the Irish coast. At 4 p.m., after repeatedly carrying away wires, the disabled ship fouled her propeller. Two hours later another vessel of the Auxiliary Patrol, the Osprey, arrived and managed to get a wire from forward.

 

At midnight the wind freshened, with rain and increasing sea, and the Van Stirum fell into the trough of the sea, while the Evangel repeatedly parted her wires in a vain attempt to keep the ship end on to the waves. By 3 a.m. there was a strong south-east wind and rough sea, and by the look of things the conditions were going to get much worse. At 6 a.m. the Evangel parted her last wire and informed the Osprey of the fact, reporting that the derelict was in a perilous condition. The Evangel then returned to the stricken vessel and, finding that she was likely to sink at any moment, endeavoured to go alongside and take the men off from the quarter. Owing to the heavy sea running this was not successful: in fact the Evangel's starboard bow collided so heavily with the Van Stirum's quarter as to start some of the trawler's rivets. Matters now became critical.

 

The Evangel launched her boat and by means of a heaving line was able to pass this boat alongside the derelict. The latter's forward bulkhead had now collapsed, so that she had sunk by the head and remained with her nose on the bottom and her stern in the air for about a minute. She finally disappeared at 7.10 a.m. This incident occurred about eight miles S.E. by S. of South Arklow lightship. The Evangel then proceeded to search for the Van Stirum's boat and found her half full of water, but she also found that the men had fortunately managed to get into her just in the nick of time. The sea was running so

 

FRUITLESS SALVAGE EFFORTS

 

wildly that it was impossible to pick the boat up, so after getting the men safely on board it was abandoned. The attempt to salve the steamer had failed, but it had been a glorious failure, which only the bad weather had spoiled, A letter of appreciation came from the Admiralty to the officers and men of the Auxiliary Patrol who had so nearly succeeded in their purpose.

 

Similar misfortune frustrated the efforts farther round the coast to rob the enemy of the fruits of his campaign. At 6.30 a.m. on December 28th an S.O.S. call was received at Queenstown from the oil tanker El Zorro off the Old Head of Kinsale. She was full of oil, badly needed for the prosecution of the war. She had safely crossed the Atlantic, but had been torpedoed in sight of port. The armed yacht Greta and a couple of obsolete torpedo-boats were at once dispatched to the scene, but by this time the submarine had made off westward. Two tugs were sent out, but could not make much headway owing to the sea. That night it blew a gale. The El Zorro anchored and the crew were taken off during the night by the trawler Freesia. The gale increased and no further steps could be taken to salve the ship. The El Zorro dragged her anchor, and went ashore a little way west of Queenstown.

 

Still pursuing her way westward down the coast, the submarine three hours later was seen by another oiler, the Viturvia, but fortunately the enemy did not molest her. At 8 a.m. (December 28th) the light cruiser Adventure, with Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly himself on board, had left Queenstown and proceeded down the coast to hunt the submarine between Kinsale and the Fastnet. At 12.45 p,m. the Adventure picked up an S.O.S. from the Leyland liner Huronian, proceeded towards her at 22 knots, closed her about 1 p,m,, and found that she had been torpedoed. The Adventure then searched the vicinity and undoubtedly frightened the enemy away, with the result that the Huronian was successfully escorted by sloops and the trawler Bempton into Berehaven, where she was eventually patched up sufficiently for her to proceed to Liverpool with her valuable cargo of cotton and grain.

 

 

 


 

 

 

CHAPTER III

 

THE FISHERMEN'S ORDEAL

 

While passenger ships, cargo liners, and tramps were maintaining the country's oversea communications, the hardy seamen engaged in the fishing industry continued to ply their trade round the British coasts and farther afield. In the year 1913 the harvest of the sea had amounted to 1,202,453 tons, exclusive of salmon and shellfish. The crowded population of the British Isles would have been reduced to sore straits in the matter of food if supplies of fish had been entirely cut off after the outbreak of war. As has been recorded, the Admiralty at an early stage in the contest realised the value of fishing-craft, with their experienced crews, as supports of the Royal Navy, and gradually built up the Auxiliary Patrol. The crews of those vessels which remained free to continue their fishing operations were rendering no mean service to the community in supplying it with good food, as was generally recognised at the time, but there was little appreciation of the fact that the fishing-craft, in pursuing their peaceful functions, were not only running great risks, but were promoting the common cause.

 

The fine spirit exhibited by the fishermen and the utility of their craft were fully appreciated by the enemy. In the middle of June 1915 a German retired admiral reviewed the situation at sea in the Vossische Zeitung, and advocated the indiscriminate destruction of British fishing-vessels on the ground that they formed an important auxiliary arm of the Royal Navy, and he added, with truth, that most of the nation's steam trawlers were already in the service of the Admiralty. But it was not merely the craft of the Auxiliary Patrol which greatly alarmed the U-boats. The unarmed and uncommissioned trawlers, while fishing or on voyage between their fishing-grounds and home ports, proved an increasing embarrassment, often

 

U-BOATS AND FISHING TRAWLERS

 

causing the German submarine officers to break off a fight and even run away on some occasions. It was one of the surprises of the war that, as a rule, U-boats attacked trawlers with a conspicuous lack of determination. There were some outstanding exceptions, but these serve only to accentuate the cautious tactics usually employed. It might have been thought that, since they could sink passenger ships with such ease, they would have made bolder efforts to destroy the small fisher vessels. But it was the mobility of the latter, and the realisation that the trawler's steel forefoot represented an effective weapon for ramming, that made the enemy play for safety and rely on long-distance attack.

 

The fishing-trawler was otherwise defenceless. If the enemy, by skilful manoeuvring, evaded those defensive-offensive tactics, the fishermen had to rely for safety on their own personal skill and seamanship. As the trawler was not a fighting ship, but was at sea solely for the purpose of bringing fish to market, the first duty of the crew in the presence of a submarine was to save the ship. Thus it was with the fishing-trawler Phoebe, which had left Fleetwood bound for the Iceland fishing-grounds. On June 18th, while passing Barra Head, she was stopped by a patrol-boat and warned that submarines were about. The Phoebe's skipper (Mr. J. W. Golding) therefore doubled the lookout. In the early hours of the next morning he was again stopped by a patrol-boat off St. Kilda, and informed that two vessels had been sunk off the Butt of Lewis. The Phoebe continued her voyage, laying a course for Iceland, and after steaming another fifty-five miles by the log a suspicious object was sighted. It was now 8.20 a.m. and the mate was in the wheel-house. He did not waste time in speculation, but promptly called the skipper from his cabin, telling him that he had sighted what he took to be a submarine about a mile and a half to the eastward, with periscope and conning-tower showing and hull awash. The submarine was heading north-north-west and the trawler N. 1/2 E.

 

Skipper Golding spoke down the tube to the chief engineer and, directing him to give the trawler all possible steam, he altered course so as to go head-on for the enemy's conning-tower. The submarine then steered more westerly, and away went the Phoebe likewise for about twenty minutes, the U-boat in the meantime gradually rising to the surface. The enemy next hauled off to the southward, stopped, and at a distance of a mile opened fire; the first shell dropped about fifty yards short on the trawler's starboard bow. Skipper Golding's duty now was obvious. His ship was unarmed and, if he remained where he was, she would almost certainly be sunk. Therefore, having failed to ram the enemy, he used his utmost endeavours to save his owner's property. It was a fine clear morning, and he could see the smoke of a couple of vessels to the eastward and another couple to the southward. He accordingly kept his vessel going, blew his steam whistle continuously, showed his stern to the submarine, and zigzagged his course.

 

The second shell dropped into the sea only twenty yards short; the third whizzed close over the wheel-house; the fourth fell just short of the stern. It was a pretty close thing, but by clever handling the skipper brought his vessel safely out of the fray; he succeeded in running the U-boat out of sight, and eventually got to St. Kilda, where he reported his adventure. When the full account of this incident reached the Admiralty, their Lordships sent Skipper Golding an expression of their appreciation of his courageous action in attempting to ram, and in his success in avoiding the loss of his ship. They also awarded the sum of £55 to be divided between owners, skipper, mate, and crew.

 

The sinkings of ordinary fishing-vessels became numerous as the summer of 1915 advanced. Ten were sunk in April, twenty-two in May, and fifty-eight in June, this month marking the " peak " of the curve; there were thirty-six sinkings in July and August respectively, and only six in September. No such incidents occurred again until January 1916, when seven were sunk, the greatest number attained that year being thirty-eight in the month of September. In July U3 succeeded in destroying a number of fishing-trawlers belonging to Hull, Grimsby, Aberdeen, and North Shields. To combat these tactics of the enemy in attacking ordinary fishing-vessels, disguised trawlers were being used with the fishing-fleets, but enough patrol-trawlers were not available to provide complete protection. The Fishing Vessels' Owners' Associations at both Hull and Grimsby were protesting at this period against the Admiralty requisitioning any more

 

" WHERE IGNORANCE IS BLISS "

 

trawlers for the naval service. For a time some East Coast fishing-craft were allowed to carry pigeons for sending information ashore of enemy activities, but this method of passing in intelligence was found slow and unreliable. The two armed yachts Eileen and Mekong were charged with the duty of keeping an eye on East Coast fishing-fleets and used to go out to about long. 2 degrees 25' E,, where the Hull fishing-fleet of trawlers was at work in September. Three armed trawlers fitted with wireless were also dispatched patrolling off the Dogger Bank.

 

About 350 fishing-trawlers continued, in spite of the war, to fish in the North Sea; the steam fish-carriers went out to meet them as in normal times and conveyed the catches to London. In spite of the losses sustained, the fishermen continued to go to sea with complete disregard of all danger. Some of the " yarns " current during the war concerning the casual regard which the North Sea fisherman had for mines must be dismissed as apocryphal. But in the late summer of 1915 two cases did occur which support the adage that fact is stranger than fiction. One day, for instance, a fisherman came into Grimsby towing a German mine which had all its horns knocked off. He explained that as he had heard that the horns were the dangerous parts he had knocked them off with a boathook! Another fisherman one night made fast to what he thought was a buoy; but at daylight it turned out to be a mine! Fortunately, efficient as undoubtedly the German mines usually were, in many instances they failed to act; otherwise neither of these fishermen would have seen his home port again.

 

The mastering of the submarine menace now needed something else besides seamanship and gallantry. British seamen were opposed to the best brains of the German Navy and the most enterprising of its personnel. It was obvious, therefore, that to bravery had to be added subtlety and to daring cunning. If it is impossible to catch a pest by ordinary means, a trap for him must be baited; in other words, he must be taken off his guard. That is precisely what now had to be done in the North Sea. The best form of trap was to disguise the armament of a patrol-trawler, leaving her paint and fishing numbers and the deck appointments, her masts and funnels, just as they were in peace-time, and send her to sea among the fishing-fleets, on the pretence of fishing, in the hope that the enemy would appear and attack her. The armed trawlers would then cease pretending and open fire at the enemy. This stratagem was being tried in the early months of 1915, for instance, by Humber armed trawlers among the Dogger Bank fishing-craft, but so far no submarine had been sunk.

 

But a more ingenious device was subsequently evolved, which was as successful as it was clever. The idea was to send an apparently innocent fishing-trawler in those waters off the north-east Scottish coast where fishing-craft had actually been sunk. Attack was invited. This was the bait. Astern of the trawler was one of the C-class of submarines, submerged, but towed by the trawler. This was the trap. An elastic cable and telephones were installed in order to keep up communication, and thus the trawler could keep the submarine informed of the enemy's movements, so that, at the precise moment, the British submarine could cast off tow rope and cable, and attack her " opposite number," the U-boat. This scheme was first suggested by Acting-Paymaster F. T. Spickernell, R.N., Admiral Beatty's secretary, but the details were worked out by Captain V. H. S. Haggard, R.N., who was in command of H.M.S. Vulcan, the submarine depot ship, lying in Leith docks, where a flotilla of submarines was stationed for the defence of the Firth of Forth.

 

The senior officer of these submarines was Lieutenant-Commander H. O. Edwards, R.N., afterwards killed, and he, together with the other submarine officers, exercised their crews for a whole month, going out to sea and inviting attack. No success was achieved until June 8th. C27 was operating in the manner indicated with the disguised armed trawler Taranaki, and the submarine was just about to fire her torpedo when it was realised that the U-boat was too near. It was feared at the time that the enemy had seen C27 and that thus Germany would learn of this new ruse. The greatest care was therefore necessary in any future attempt.

 

At 1 a.m. on June 23rd H.M. Submarine C24, under the command of Lieutenant F. H. Taylor, R.N., stole out of Aberdeen in company with the armed trawler Taranaki and shaped a south-easterly course. Five hours later the trawler (Lieutenant-Commander Edwards) took the submarine in tow. The latter then submerged to

 

C24 SINKS U40

 

thirty feet. At 9.30 a.m. a U-boat rose to the surface fifty miles S.E. by S. of Girdleness and fired a gun across the trawler's bows at a distance of about 2,000 yards, the shell bursting about twenty yards ahead. Three minutes later C24 was informed by telephone that the enemy was 1,000 yards astern. Thereupon Lieutenant Taylor gave orders to slip the tow, but unfortunately, by the worst of luck, the tow rope jammed and could not be slipped. Finally, at 9.45 a.m. the trawler slipped her end of the rope and stopped. The enemy also stopped, being on the trawler's starboard beam, about a thousand yards off; she was trimmed ready for instant diving. Clearly the German scented the trap, so in order to entice him Lieutenant-Commander Edwards ordered out the trawler's boat as if he were abandoning ship. Meanwhile C24 had gone ahead with helm a-starboard to attack the U-boat. Again, by bad luck, the British submarine became unhandy and immediately sank to thirty-eight feet, and it took some time to get her trim right again.

 

The cause of this mishap was presently discovered. One hundred fathoms of 3 ½ -inch towing wire and some 8-inch coir hawser, in addition to a hundred fathoms of telephone cable, were still fast to the bows. In spite of this, the two coxswains of C24 steered and trimmed her so ably that she never broke surface. Meanwhile Lieutenant Taylor, using his periscope little and seldom, eventually sighted the enemy's conning-tower and gun, and closed to 500 yards. He then manoeuvred to get in a beam shot, and at 9.55 a.m. fired at the conning-tower. To the joy of the Taranaki's crew, the torpedo was seen to explode under the conning-tower and the U-boat instantly sank, never again to rise. C24 then came to the surface and picked up the German commanding officer, while the Taranaki rescued another officer and one petty officer. Nothing else remained of this enemy craft — U40 — except a lifebuoy and a bucket. When C24 tried to go astern it was discovered that the propeller refused to move, having twenty turns of telephone cable round the shaft. However, having transferred the German prisoners to the trawler, C24 was taken in tow again and safely reached Aberdeen. Everyone had done well in the Taranaki and C24, in spite of difficulties, and one of the latest and most successful U-boats had been accounted for. For this service Lieutenant-Commander Edwards received the D.S.O., and Lieutenant Taylor the D.S.C., and each coxswain a D.S.M. It is interesting to note that the captain of U40 admitted that he had been watching the Taranaki all the morning and had been completely deceived, so excellent was the disguise.

 

On the same morning that this incident occurred, another trawler engagement was being fought off the Hebrides far from the scene of the Phoebe's encounter. It was eleven o'clock, and the armed trawler Bush (Skipper G. King) was on patrol about eight miles north-north-west of the Butt of Lewis. Two drifters with their nets down were three miles inside of her at the time, and it was blowing hard from east-north-east with considerable sea. Suddenly from windward a shell fell about fifty yards short of the wheel-house of the Bush, which was heading about south-east. Skipper King went full speed ahead, altered course, and saw a submarine travelling about north-north-west. Whilst in the act of turning, a second shot was fired and this also missed. The Bush now used her rocket distress signal, hoisted the signal " Submarine in sight," and fired her 12-pounder. This first shot from the trawler fell short; the second shot was very close, but also short. The third shot was so close that the enemy made a smoke screen and under cover of this dived and disappeared.

 

For two hours search was made in the heavy sea, but the enemy was not seen again. Shortly afterwards the Bush met the Norwegian s.s. Bianca, bound from Archangel, and directed her down the Minch, thus saving her from the submarine. The Bush was only slightly damaged by the six shots fired at her. Of these the last three were hits, the fourth having passed between the gunlayer and breechworker. Two large pieces of shell were picked up which indicated that the enemy's gun — the equivalent of 3 ½ -inch — was decidedly superior to that of the trawler's. The submarine was not sunk, but a trawler had shown the enemy that fishermen were fighters. The incident pleased both Admiral Jellicoe and the Admiralty, and from the latter came an expression of appreciation and the sum of £60 for the crew of the Bush.

 

About a month later there followed yet another trawler-submarine engagement off the Hebrides, but this time it was at the southern end, in the neighbourhood of Barra Head. If it be matter for surprise that German submarines

 

THE FIGHT OF THE " PEARL "

 

at this time should have hovered about the Hebrides, the reason is not far to seek. The Grand Fleet in Scapa Flow required an enormous amount of coal and other stores. These supplies had to be brought in merchant ships which came up the West Coast so as to avoid the submarines operating in the North Sea. In addition, there was a good deal of other traffic by merchant ships, especially to Archangel, through which we were supplying war material to the Russians. Moreover, both Barra Head in the south, the Butt of Lewis in the north, and the island of St. Kilda in the west were landmarks, navigationally most useful to the U-boats proceeding to and from the coast of Ireland. It followed, then, that the craft of the Auxiliary Patrol based on Stornoway had no easy time.

 

On July 27th, at 4 a.m. — just that time when nature is at its lowest and when, therefore, the best lookout is not always maintained — the armed trawler Pearl was patrolling off Barra Head. The weather was not pleasant, for the wind was freshening from the south-east and it was thick; there was a moderate south-west swell coming in from the Atlantic; almost certainly a gale was brewing. At 4.15 a.m. a small object was sighted four points on the starboard bow, about 5,280 yards away. Course was altered towards it, and five minutes afterwards, as it appeared to be a submarine on the surface, heading south, the trawler cleared for action. The Pearl was commanded by Sub-Lieutenant A. C. Allman, R.N.R., and carried also a skipper in addition to her crew.

 

With all hands at their stations, the skipper at the wheel, and full speed on the engine-room telegraph, the Pearl made for the enemy vessel, which altered course to south-south-west. The trawler had nothing better than a little 3-pounder gun, so Sub-Lieutenant Allman instructed his petty officer not to open fire until the range was down to 1,000 yards. At 4.25 a.m. the submarine was only 500 yards off, but travelling at high speed and firing across the trawler's bows. The Pearl altered course and prepared to ram, at the same time bringing her gun to bear. The first two shots dropped very close to the submarine's stern; the fifth and sixth seemed to hit. It was a short range; the gun's crew were working quickly and the shooting was good, but within five minutes the gun no longer bore. The submarine was compelled hurriedly to dive, crossing close to the trawler's bows. Sub-Lieutenant Allman put his helm hard a-starboard and made a great effort to ram, but missed the enemy by about forty feet. In a short time the periscope was seen, so the petty officer at the gun took careful aim and with his second shot hit and broke off the periscope, after which the U-boat submerged completely, leaving on the surface a thick oily wake.

 

This was to prove an exceptionally long duel, one of the very longest in the whole of the submarine war, and it speaks well for the dogged determination of the officer in charge and his crew that with such inferior armament they were able to dominate an enemy equipped with a more powerful gun, as well as torpedoes, and possessing the ability to choose his own range. It is known now that the submarine was U41 and that her captain was one of the most efficient officers of his service. At 4.35 a.m. she was heading south-west, doing about 7 knots, so the Pearl took a position on her opponent's starboard bow, kept a parallel course, and, with her gun bearing, was ready to ram should the U-boat come to the surface. This went on until an hour later, when the enemy altered course to north-east, with speed unchanged. At 6.15 a.m. the U-boat again altered course, this time to north-west, and eased to 4 knots. It was obvious that the Pearl, by keeping up the chase, was causing the enemy's batteries to run down and all the while the trawler kept closing in, alert for the first chance of ramming.

 

Unfortunately, a quarter of an hour later the weather came on thick, rain falling, but at 9.15 a.m. the submarine came close to the surface, though without showing herself. Still refusing to lose any possible chance, the trawler carried on, and at 11 a.m. endeavoured to fire her explosive sweep about 500 feet ahead of the oily wave, but by a piece of bad luck the electric cable was so injured in getting it over the side that it would not fire. Troubles did not come singly, for, after chasing for another hour, the chief engineer reported that one of his pumps was out of order and that it would be necessary to stop in an hour's time for a repairing job which would take three hours.

 

It was a most disappointing incident, yet there was no possible alternative but to give up the chase, which had now brought the Pearl to a position thirty-eight miles

 

THE LAST OF U41

 

S.W. by W. of St. Kilda. The Pearl managed to get into St. Kilda that same afternoon, but with scarcely any water in her boiler. She had maintained a spirited hunt after the submarine over a period of nearly eight hours, during which the trawler had exercised her will-power over the enemy simply by sheer blunt determination. Had the Pearl really damaged U41? At the time it was thought that the enemy had been holed in an oil-tank in his outer skin and that this accounted for the oily wake. Four shots had been fired by the submarine and thirty-four by the trawler, so at short range some could not have failed to hit. It was afterwards ascertained that U41 was seriously injured in the conning-tower, so that, although she was outward bound, she was compelled to break off her voyage and return home.

 

This was to be no pleasure cruise for the U-boat, for, having arrived at St. Kilda, the Pearl made her report, and later on in the day a wireless message informing the patrols was picked up by the armed yacht Vanessa, which immediately altered course to cut off the retreating enemy. At 9.10 p.m. she actually sighted her and chased her till after ten o'clock, but then the enemy got away and was seen no more that day. At four the next morning she was sighted still farther north by the armed trawler Stanley Weyman, by the armed yacht Maid of Honour, and by the armed trawler Swan, and chased for the best part of two hours, but U41 evaded them and got safely back to Germany.

 

This submarine was in charge of Lieutenant-Commander Hansen, who had already had experience of the offensive-defensive value of the ram. For U41 was just out from the dockyard after repairs caused by being rammed on July 16th by the mine-sweeping gunboat Speedwell, which on this day had sighted U41 only 250 yards away, and had gone for her with full speed on both engines and struck her with such force as to cause the Speedwell to heel over, her bottom plating being damaged. The incident had occurred north of the Shetlands and had damaged both periscopes of the submarine, so that she had to make her way back across the North Sea, reaching Germany on July 19th. The moral effect on the crew of the Pearl's success in sending her home for repairs a second time within the same month can well be imagined. U41 was sent to her grave by a British man-of-war a few weeks later. As to the Pearl's exploit, the Admiralty praised her commanding officer and crew, awarding them the sum of £150 and promoting Sub-Lieutenant Allman to Lieutenant, with seniority dating from the day on which he had engaged the submarine.

 

On the southern side of the Firth of Forth is the port of Granton, which by the spring of 1915 had developed into a most important naval base, crowded with all kinds of vessels of the Auxiliary Patrol. The senior naval officer was Admiral James Startin, who, having ended his time on the active list before the war opened, had come back to serve as a R.N.R. officer. To his infectious enthusiasm and powers as an organiser were due in large measure the successes which were achieved by the vessels using this base. He had been struck during the early summer by the number of molestations by submarines of neutral merchant traffic in the North Sea. On July 9th a U-boat had held up four steamers about forty miles east of Fifeness, but had bolted as soon as the armed yacht Minona had come into sight. The Admiral therefore resolved to carry out a stratagem.

 

Among his vessels were two fine trawlers, the Quickly and the Gunner. The former had already been disguised so cleverly that she had been taken by one of our own destroyers for a Danish cargo steamer. He now improved her disguise, replaced her 3-pounder by a 12-pounder, mounted a 6-pounder aft, and sent her off to St. Andrew's Bay. The trawler Gunner he also disguised, giving her a deck cargo made up of an empty hawser reel, a hundred bags of sawdust, some empty crates, and some timber. The Gunner joined the Quickly in St. Andrew's Bay and to her transferred the cargo. Four naval ratings as guns' crew had been put on board these two ships, and on July 19th the vessels left the bay, Admiral Startin himself being in the Quickly, and steamed towards Bell Rock, where target practice was carried out until the Admiral was satisfied that both vessels could make good shooting.

 

They then proceeded to their rendezvous where submarines had recently been at work, and during the afternoon the Quickly completed her disguise as a Norwegian cargo boat, Norwegian colours being hoisted at the mizzen masthead and also painted on prepared slips of canvas which were placed on each side amidships. To make the disguise perfect, a couple of derricks were placed on the

 

THE FIGHT OF THE " QUICKLY "

 

foremast. She thus resembled one of those numerous Norse traders which could be seen any day in the North Sea. At 9 a.m. on July 20th the Quickly arrived at the rendezvous, and just one hour later a large submarine was sighted on the surface with two masts and two guns. Ten minutes afterwards both the " Norwegian " vessel and the U-boat were steering parallel courses, the intervening distance being about four miles. For a short period the U-boat scrutinised the Quickly, then altered course to cut her off, lowering both masts. At 10.24 the enemy had closed to about 1,500 yards and hoisted the international signal to stop. Five minutes later she fired the first shot at the trawler; but already the latter's gun crew had been preparing for action under cover. The Norwegian flag was now hauled down, the White Ensign run up, the strips of canvas taken off, and at 10.32 the Quickly returned the fire from her 12-pounder with a shot that struck the enemy's hull abaft the conning-tower, much smoke being seen to issue from her. The 6-pounder then opened fire, and the enemy returned it, but her shots fell either short or over. Admiral Startin himself stated:

 

" The 6-pounder claims to have put her foremost gun out of action. The third shot from the 12-pounder struck the submarine right forward, and flames were seen by myself and everybody coming from her bows."

 

At 10.50 a.m. the U-boat submerged until her conning-tower was awash, but came to the surface again and began to steam away in that condition. By this time the Gunner, which had been following astern, arrived on the scene and also opened fire. The German craft steamed away very slowly, being at times enveloped in smoke. Another shot from the Quickly's 12-pounder shattered the conning-tower and the Gunner also hit her. The two ships then closed the enemy with a view to ramming her, but she submerged and at first could be clearly seen by them. There was much oil and there were many bubbles; so a depth charge was exploded. Nothing came to the surface to suggest that it was effective.

 

After remaining in the neighbourhood for another couple of hours, the two British craft left the scene. It was afterwards learnt that the submarine was not sunk; she had managed to get home in a wounded condition. There are on record other equally amazingly narrow escapes where U-boats, after being quite as severely punished, managed to make really long voyages safely back to Germany. No one, however, will begrudge the commendation which the Admiralty bestowed on Admiral Startin, the officers and crews of these two ships, nor the sum of £500 which was awarded to be divided among the crews. To Lieutenant T. E. Price, R.N.R., the commanding officer of the Quickly, was given the D.S.C., and a similar decoration was conferred on Sub-Lieutenant C. H. Hudson, R.N.R., who was in command of the Gunner. The D.S.M. was conferred on the captains of the 12-pounder and the 6-pounder guns respectively, and also on the Admiral's coxswain, who spotted for the 6-inch gun in the Quickly.

 

Whilst such engagements as these were going on, the fishermen, who were still pursuing their calling, showed that they were ready for any emergency with which the fate of war might confront them. At the end of June the Norwegian barque Kotka, an iron-built vessel of just under a thousand tons, had the misfortune to fall in with a submarine in the Atlantic off the south-west Irish coast. But for the Hull fishing-trawler Rambler she could never have been saved; and in order rightly to appreciate the circumstances it is necessary first to realise what were the hazards which sailing-ships were at this time compelled to support.

 

Owing to the scarcity of tonnage, the demand for such sailing-ships as could carry oversea cargoes was now very great. The Government had taken up a large number of steamships as war auxiliaries, transports, supply ships, colliers. At the same time there was greater need for tonnage in which to bring across the ocean food, timber, and other commodities to meet national and military needs. In these circumstances, the despised sailing-ship, even though old, entered on a fresh lease of life. The British register was swelled by many German sailing-ships which had been captured and sold to British or neutral firms and were now engaged in carrying grain. But the U-boat was no longer confined to the North Sea: she too was an ocean-going craft which could go round the north of Scotland, into the Atlantic, down the Irish coast, and operate off the western approaches of the British Isles. No easier prey could be afforded the submarine

 

AN IMPORTANT CONFERENCE

 

than the home-coming sailing-ship; she was in the nature almost of a gift to any U-boat that might come along. Thus, during the first half of June in the southwest approaches to the British Isles, no fewer than five British, three Allied, and two neutral sailing-ships were sunk, most of them carrying valuable cargoes of raw materials. A spell of easterly winds, such as is usual during this month, exposed these craft to considerable risks, and therefore the Mercantile Marine Service Association of Liverpool suggested to the Admiralty the desirability of providing free towage into port of such sailings-hips as arrived off our coasts. Tugs, it was urged, should be stationed at Queenstown and Falmouth to assist them into port.

 

It was whilst the Admiralty were considering this matter that the fine four-masted barque Dumfriesshire of Glasgow (2,622 tons) was torpedoed and sunk on June 28th, twenty-five miles south-west of the Smalls. She had left San Francisco with 4,100 tons of barley and had reached Falmouth on June 25th. From there she had been ordered to Dublin, and on her way was destroyed. In July Lloyd's also wrote to the Admiralty giving a list of sailing-vessels sunk by submarines since March 31st, and made the suggestion that sailing-vessels should be warned, when approaching the United Kingdom, of the safest routes. From March 31st to July 2nd, it was pointed out, forty-three of these craft had been sunk by U-boats off the British Isles, and on July 6th there were at sea bound from American ports for the United Kingdom no fewer than 138 sailing-ships with such valuable cargoes as grain, timber, and nitrate.

 

The difficulty was that there were no such things as safe routes: wherever a sailing-ship went she was in grave danger. A conference was therefore held, presided over by the Fourth Sea Lord, with representatives of the Board of Trade, the Sailing-Ship Association, and the Trade Division of the Admiralty. This took place on July 16th, and it was decided that the Admiralty should be asked to send a cruiser to meet all in-coming ships and indicate to them a port of discharge, whence they might be convoyed; that the Admiralty should be requested to telegraph to the various Consuls directing them to advise the masters of sailing-ships to stop outside the 100-fathom line and there await a westerly wind, then running straight to their port of discharge: that westerly ports should, where possible, be used for discharge: that the Admiralty should locally provide the necessary tugs subject to the exigencies of the naval service. The outcome of this was the issue of an order that when towage was urgently needed for sailing-ships it should be provided; and Intelligence Officers were advised by telegraph all over the world to warn British and Allied sailing-ships to keep west of the 100-fathom line until a favourable wind should enable them to lay a direct course for their destination.

 

Such, then, was the degree of risk which awaited the home-coming sailing-ship. The Hull steam-trawler Rambler had left Liverpool for her fishing-grounds off the south-west of Ireland, and in the early hours of the morning was engaged in fishing when she sighted the Kotka about seven miles off. Something in her appearance was evidently wrong, so at 6 a.m. the trawler hove up her gear and steamed towards her. It was at once obvious that there was not a soul on board: it was equally evident that she had been holed.

 

What actually had happened was that, when thirty miles south-west of the Bull Rock, a submarine had shelled her and then the crew had abandoned ship. She was an iron ship, bound from Maine to Cork, and it was pathetic that, after safely crossing the Atlantic, she should have fallen a victim so near to her port of destination. Skipper Richmond launched the Rambler's boat, and sent the mate, second engineer, boatswain, and cook to investigate, but on account of the heavy sea they were unable to get on board. However, five hours later the boat was again launched and Skipper Richmond went himself, together with the second engineer and a deck hand, to see what could be done. He found the barque was under water forward and the only part of her hull that was clear was her poop. He decided to try and take her in tow as the weather was moderating, and in the meantime returned to his trawler. At six o'clock that evening the wind had died down, though there was a big ocean swell, and the operation began.

 

The position of the two ships was now about thirty or thirty-five miles south-south-west of Galley Head. It was quite possible that a submarine might suddenly appear from nowhere and sink both trawler and barque. The

 

TRAWLERS' SUCCESS

 

salving of the latter was, therefore, no ordinary hazard. Fishermen, as a class, are not distinguished navigators, but they do number among them some of the finest exponents of seamanship, and this latter art was well exhibited on this occasion. The mate, chief engineer, and deck hand boarded the Kotka, and got a wire hawser off a reel which was on the barque's after deck-house. This wire they floated down to the Rambler by supporting the wire with the Kotka's buoys and lifebelts, one end of it being secured to the barque. The trawler then steamed as near as possible to the floats, and a wire from the Rambler was made fast to the end of the Kotka' s wire; the former then shackled her trawl warps on to it. By this time it was 7.30 p.m. and towing commenced, the barque being towed stern first because of the damage she had sustained forward.

 

All went well during the night, and at four the following morning the trawler signalled the Old Head of Kinsale asking that an Admiralty tug should be sent from Queenstown. At 10 a.m. the armed trawler Heron arrived from that port. She made fast to the Kotka's port quarter, but her warps parted twice. The Rambler then shortened her warp, but this caused it to part also, after which it was decided to tow the barque bow first. Some of the Heron's and Rambler's crew were put aboard her, and from 11 a.m. the Heron towed ahead, with the Rambler astern steering. An hour later the Admiralty tug Warrior from Queenstown arrived and took the Heron's place, and in the evening a second Admiralty tug came on the scene and lashed alongside. In a short time the barque was got safely into Queenstown Harbour, and beached after a fifty-mile tow.

 

Thus once more trawlers, manned by men of stubborn purpose, had defeated the machinations of the enemy's submarine warfare. The sea is the strictest of schools, and the fisherman spends most of his life learning its lessons. If the fishing industry of the British Isles had not existed in a flourishing state, it would have been impossible to deal with the submarine menace: the U-boats would have acted almost as they pleased. More food-carrying steamers would have been sunk, greater hardships would have had to be endured ashore, and the armies would have lacked adequate supplies. Gales of wind, thick weather, dark nights, intricate pilotage, ship-salving on the high seas, ship-handling in narrow waters — these are the common experiences of fishermen and keep alive that spirit which has meant, and will continue to mean, so much to an island people. The liner, the tramp, the trawler and drifter are all part of the nation's essential sea services.

 

But the work of the trawlers was not confined merely to the thwarting of submarines: the insidious mine throughout the war remained a standing menace to the ships of the Grand Fleet and Merchant Navy alike. In April the Swarte Bank mine-field had been laid; about the end of next month or the beginning of June the Outer Silver Pit mine-field had been laid; and on the night of May 17th-18th the Dogger Bank mine-field came into existence, the enemy's hope being to entrap the Grand Fleet on its periodical sweeps towards the Heligoland Bight. Most wisely the Admiralty policy had been to allow the fishing-trawlers the widest possible freedom in fishing, realising that so long as the fishermen were permitted to go about their work unfettered, the country had the advantage of an improvised sweeping-fleet scouting, as it were, for these hidden mines. The fishermen wanted nothing but their freedom, and this was conceded to them in large measure.

 

The Swarte Bank mine-field had been discovered by fishing-trawlers, so had the Outer Silver Pit mine-field; so, too, was the Dogger Bank mine-field in the month of May. In effect, fishing-trawlers, dragging their gear along the bed of the sea, proved to be the outposts of the mine-sweeping fleet. When once these minefields had been discovered, there followed months of wearisome work for the paddlers and trawlers engaged in sweeping up the laid mines. As to the Tory Island mine-field, laid as far back as the autumn of 1914, the clearance continued to be made under difficult circumstances. During the comparatively fine weather of June much progress was made, and by the first week of July it was comparatively clear, though not till the following March was it definitely swept up completely for all ships.

 

By the summer of 1915 two facts had been grasped. Up to June 1st all the enemy mines off our coasts had been laid by surface ships; but from that date onwards the position was complicated by the advent of the UC-boats, based on Flanders, which laid their mines off prominent

 

VALUE OF AUXILIARY PATROL

 

headlands and lightships in the southern portion of the North Sea. Off such places as the Thames Estuary, Lowestoft, and the Kentish coast, they endeavoured to block up well-used channels. The result was, obviously, to put a good deal of increased work on the trawlers and paddlers. This new phase of the enemy's policy emphasised still more the high value of the Auxiliary Patrol, which enabled shipping to pursue its way with the minimum of risk. It is inconceivable that the port of London, for instance, could have received and dispatched so much shipping — and therefore goods — had it not been for the reliance placed on the mine-sweeping force to seaward.

 

It is unnecessary to refer to the increased strain on material and personnel which this work involved, because that is obvious. The arrangements had to be adjusted, as well as might be, to the new conditions. Neither destroyers nor torpedo craft could be spared. Engines can be run only for a certain length of time; ships need a refit every half-year: in like manner, the human machine, tuned up to the maximum of efficiency, can do only a limited amount of work and then it, too, must have a rest or break down utterly. All the time, however, cargoes of mines were being brought across from Bruges by way of Zeebrugge, dumped down off the southeast coast lightships, headlands, buoys, and landmarks in such a manner that special sweeping had to be constantly carried out. Men " groused," and officers complained, of this ceaseless nerve-wracking turmoil; but each and all realised that the job had to be done and they alone could do it. Let these facts stand on record.

 

But that was not all. Russia was still our Ally and had to be supplied with many important munitions of war. All this traffic depended on the Russian approaches being kept clear of mines. The Germans were not slow to appreciate this fact also, and in June sent up the auxiliary cruiser Meteor (of which we shall have something to say later) on a mining enterprise to the White Sea. This vessel left Germany escorted by a submarine and laid 285 mines on the track to Archangel, about the beginning of June. The first intimation of this new mine-field was the blowing up of the steamer Arndale on June 11th, causing the loss of three lives. Between that date and the end of September nine other merchant in ships, of British, Russian, Norwegian, and American nationality, were either damaged or lost. The enemy's intention was obvious: he realised the value of the Russian offensive, and the importance of the sea lane by which military supplies were being sent into Russia through Archangel.

 

In another area far to the north the battle between the mine and the sweeper had, therefore, been joined. The enemy had laid the mines, would probably lay more, and it was the duty of British auxiliary vessels to assist the Russians in sweeping them up and keeping open a clear channel as long as the ice allowed. Therefore once more the much-wanted, hard-worked trawler was called in to bear the brunt of warfare. At Lowestoft an expedition was fitted out consisting of half a dozen trawlers and a couple of supply ships, each trawler being armed with a 12-pounder gun, and the supply ships carrying stores for three months. These trawlers Avere the Bombardier, Sir Mark Sykes, T. R. Ferens, Granton, Lord Denman, and St. Cyr, the first-mentioned being fitted with wireless telegraphy.

 

Commander L. A. Bernays, R.N., was placed in charge of the force. He was unfortunately afterwards killed when in command of a different type of ship; he had left the Navy and emigrated to Canada, where he was living after the war had broken out. He returned to the Navy, and had from the first succeeded in infusing something of his own enthusiasm into the Grimsby trawlermen, who were sent with him to sweep up the Scarborough mine-field, laid in December 1914. Commander Bernays had a curious manner of maintaining discipline, and his naval outlook had been tempered by long residence in Canada, but his rough crews understood and respected him. After sweeping in the North Sea, he had been employed clearing up the Tory Island minefield, whither he had insisted on taking his Grimsby trawlermen, rugged like himself in speech and character. When the Admiralty ordered Commander Bernays to undertake this Russian mine-sweeping expedition, they were well inspired.

 

It was on June 22nd that the vessels left Lowestoft bound first for Lerwick, whence they crossed the North Sea, reaching Alexandrovsk on July 6th. They began immediately their mine-sweeping operations. By July

 

DESTRUCTION OF MINES

 

9th several mines had been destroyed; four days later the trawler T. R. Ferens struck a mine herself; but by the eighteenth of July this expedition had done such good work that fifty mines had been destroyed. By August 10th the force had been increased by the arrival of two more trawlers from Lowestoft, besides a collier. By the middle of August there were still no Russian patrol-vessels, for there was, at Archangel, no fishing industry on which they could draw, and only one weak little steamer was engaged in stopping ships off Svyatoi Nos. The enemy had laid his mines cunningly off headlands and athwart the course which would be taken by shipping between these headlands. In September Commander Bernays was recalled to be employed in home waters.

 

On October 2nd the armed yacht Aegusa (afterwards lost in the Mediterranean) arrived at Yukanskie from Aberdeen with Rear-Admiral Philhmore, who reported that by the middle of October 150 mines had been destroyed by our White Sea trawlers and a few by the Russians, but it would be impossible to destroy all the remaining mines before the ice set in. In November the ice set in and put an end to that year's campaign. It happened to be a very severe and early winter.

 

In home waters there was so much work for the fishermen and their craft that the dispatch of additional vessels to the Baltic (sic) could not be justified. The attack on our fishing-fleets by August had become serious, and the fine weather was all in favour of the smaller submarines which came over the North Sea from Flanders. Especially was this the case in the vicinity of Lowestoft, where the fishing-fleet was scattered from Smith's Knoll all round the banks to the northward. Again, therefore, subtlety had to be allied with courage. The Senior Naval Officer at Lowestoft decided to commission four fishing-smacks, arm them with a 3-pounder each and send them off to the fishing-grounds so that it was impossible for even a friend, let alone a foe, to discriminate between armed decoy smacks and those unarmed. The following incident, the first of its kind, well illustrates the class of work which these sailing-vessels carried out. Incidentally it is pertinent to remark that a year previously no one would have dared to have suggested that a fore and aft rigged sailing-vessel could ever again become a man-of-war.

 

By August 8th (1915) four of these sailing fishing-smacks had been commissioned. They left Lowestoft with their crews dressed in all respects like fishermen, and with nothing on deck or as to their rig suggesting that they were other than peaceful craft, meet victims for the first enemy submarine which might come along. Thus on the 11th of August the Lowestoft smack G. and E. put to sea. Her crew consisted of Lieutenant C. E. Hamond, R.N., her real skipper (F. W. Moxey) temporarily enrolled as second hand R.N.R. (T.), Petty Officer Ellis, R.N., Second-hand Page, temporarily enrolled as deck hand R.N.R. (T.), Leading Seaman J. Warman, R.N., as gunlayer, Third-hand H. Alexander, temporarily enrolled as deck hand R.N.R. (T.), and Able Seaman K. Hammond, R.N. There was thus an admixture of her original crew with experienced naval fighting men. At 1 p.m. this smack was about five miles south of Smith's Knoll Buoy when a submarine came to the surface three miles south-east of the smack Leader, which was a mile south of the G. and E. First of all the enemy closed the Leader and ordered the crew to launch their boat and go alongside the submarine. The enemy then made use of this boat to place a bomb in the Leader, which blew up, after which the fishermen were again placed in their boat and cast adrift. " So far so good," thought the Germans; "we shall now deal with the smack G. and E. in the same manner." As the submarine was seen approaching this smack, the crew of the G. and E. pretended to be getting out their rowing-boat, and this business was kept up until the enemy had closed to some forty yards and had slewed to a position parallel with her intended victim.

 

 

 

An Armed Drifter

 

This was the smack's opportunity. Lieutenant Hamond issued a short sharp order, up went the White Ensign, and off went the gun. There was not a moment's delay. No one could afford to make a mistake; they were at too close quarters for that; and one of the two was certain to perish speedily. The duel, in fact, was so short that the smack fired only five rounds from her little 3-pounder. Three of these shots penetrated the conning-tower — for it was impossible at that point-blank range to miss — but the gun had to be depressed so much that the fourth and fifth shots actually struck the smack's rail, though one afterwards penetrated the base of the

 

FISHING SMACK V. SUBMARINE

 

conning-tower. Petty Officer Ellis also succeeded in killing with his rifle one man who was in the conning-tower. With great rapidity the submarine dived at a very high angle, nose first, having been taken completely by surprise. So great was her hurry to submerge that she left the body of this man on the conning-tower. She never came up again. There was great joy among the Lowestoft fishermen that this small but dangerous German warship from the Flemish coast had been got rid of so neatly.

 

There were other instances of this successful armed smack warfare, and they certainly taught the invaders of Belgium that British seamen were skilful in stratagem as well as brave. A well-deserved D.S.C. was awarded to Lieutenant Hamond. This engagement furnished an admirable example of the way in which the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy co-operated during the war with the sole object of defeating the Germans. To the plain, blunt seamanship of the latter came the aid of the former's fighting skill. Such was the peculiar temperament of the German, however, that he became very angry when he learned of the way mere sailing-smacks were destroying his ingeniously built craft, and threats were sent in to Lowestoft by other submarines through the medium of the crews of our fishing-vessels which were sunk later on. But not even these threats prevented the hardy North Seamen from going about their work. Nelson himself was an East Anglian. In years to come descendants of the men of the twentieth century who confronted the enemy by sea will be moved to wonder and admiration when they realise that, in spite of the progress of physical science, little sailing-ships of wood, without mechanical power, met in close combat and destroyed steel vessels which could alike go ahead or astern, and make themselves invisible.

 

The problem of the fisherman from the beginning to the end of the war was no easy one. If the naval authorities had stopped all fishing a most important industry would have been killed, causing distress and unemployment, besides depriving the nation of one of its principal articles of food. On the other hand, if they allowed fishing to continue, losses from mines, torpedoes, and gunfire and bombs could not be avoided. There is a tendency to minimise the value of the fishing trade. At the beginning of the war it employed in England and Wales alone 44,000 men and about 216,000 tons of seagoing craft. In addition, there must be reckoned many thousands of persons engaged in the distribution and curing of fish, The fish supply was the equivalent, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, of nearly half the total amount of meat annually consumed in the British Isles, and of this supply about seven-eighths were landed at coast ports.

 

It came to this then, that these fishermen were, after the declaration of war, pursuing their calling in what a soldier would designate " no man's land," After the first few months of hostilities most of the best ships and the most active personnel had joined the Navy. Approximately 50 per cent, of the fishermen were serving under the White Ensign, and the rest had to carry on their work among mines and submarines as best they could. The ordinary dangers of the sea were, of course, present as before; but owing to the removal of the lightships, and the dowsing of innumerable shore lights, the absence of buoys, and the introduction of new channels and routes, their lot was not made any the easier.

 

Inasmuch as the North Sea was the main naval theatre of the war, until the submarines started operating off the western side of the British Isles, from a strictly naval point of view there would have been advantages in forbidding any fishing-craft from working in that area. It would have certainly made matters easier for the Grand Fleet in its periodical sweeps down the North Sea, and it would have lightened the duties of the patrols. It must be admitted that at the beginning of the war the Navy looked upon these craft rather as a nuisance; but when it was found that these trawlers were the means of discovering unsuspected mine-fields, they were regarded in a very different light.

 

Once definite conclusions had been reached as to the usefulness of the fishermen, the craft had to be protected in some way. It was the Navy's duty to see that this was done, but that meant detaching vessels from purely offensive operations. During the summer of the year 1915 the losses of both steam and sailing fishing-craft were very heavy, and insurance rates soared up. In August the question was again raised as to whether, from the naval point of view, it was desirable to allow these

 

NAVAL CONTROL OF FISHING FLEETS

 

vessels to continue their fishing. The whole matter was carefully investigated by the Admiralty afresh. Admiral Ballard, who was commanding most of the East Coast area, stated very truly that fishing-trawlers were keenly on the lookout for anything suspicious and offered considerable obstacles to the free navigation of enemy submarines. Every trawl, warp, or drift net was a potential source of trouble, and in at least one case a U-boat got her periscope foul of a trawler's wire and was thrown on her beam ends. The Dutch fishing-fleets were still allowed to work in the North Sea, and if British fishing-fleets were withdrawn, it would mean that we should require at least 150 more armed patrols.

 

At this time the total number of trawlers fishing off the East Coast was about 350, most of which belonged to the Humber. The Hull fleet was under the control of a fishing " Admiral," and every morning fish-carriers met the vessels at sea and took the fish to London; otherwise trawlers fished independently. The obvious solution of the difficulty was some sort of control over these fleets under Admiralty organisation. This Admiral Jellicoe advocated. Both he and Commodore Tyrwhitt were in favour of allowing the trawlers to continue fishing. But the regulation and control of their movements were not easy, though eventually the difficulties were surmounted.

 

For the present it was clear that the advantages of maintaining fishing-fleets at sea were sufficient to warrant the insurance of these vessels at a premium lower than what would be justified from the purely financial point of view, and this was the decision to which the Admiralty came in the middle of October. In the year 1917 a really satisfactory system was introduced, by which these vessels fished together in groups under Naval control, a sufficient number in each group being armed at least to enable some sort of fight to be put up with any submarine that came along; one of the trawlers was also fitted with wireless. This meant commissioning the trawlers and placing them under the command of the Senior Naval Officers of their respective ports and they thus became, in fact though not in name, part of the Auxiliary Patrol. But this evolution took time, and it was only as the result of many hardly learned lessons that it came about.

 

 


 

 

CHAPTER IV

 

THE SEA TRANSPORT OF THE FIRST MILLION TROOPS

 

If an adequate conception is to be formed of the manner in which the Mercantile Marine supported the national effort by sea and by land in the early days of the war, some account must be given of the movement of troops oversea. The transport of war is the merchant ship of peace, usually a passenger vessel when the change of status occurs; the crew of merchant officers and men remains. It was not the policy of this country to support a separate and distinct transport service, though it could use its army, apart from the needs of home defence, only if it had facilities for moving it by sea. Reliance was placed on the authority of the Admiralty to requisition whatever tonnage was required for the movement of troops when the emergency arose.

 

The army of an island Power, the axis of a maritime Empire embracing nearly one-quarter of the land surface of the globe, is dependent for movement upon merchant shipping, and for protection while afloat the heavily laden transports must rely upon the Navy confronted with many other duties. As events were to show, the enemy conducted his operations below the surface as well as on the surface. In that respect, as well as in others, the transport movement, which began in August 1914, differed from anything which had been attempted before. The mobilisation of the military forces on August 4th brought into operation, under conditions which it had been impossible to foresee in anything approaching completeness, the plans for transport oversea, which had been prepared by the Admiralty in consultation with the War Office. The interdependence of naval and military policy was speedily demonstrated in a manner of which the public generally had no knowledge at the time, for, after the British ultimatum had been dispatched to Germany,

 

PROBLEMS OF OVERSEA TRANSPORT

 

complete secrecy was observed as to the naval and military arrangements which were speedily carried out in order to put the British Empire on a war footing. The silence suggested that the country had been caught unprepared; but behind the fog of war a transport movement was inaugurated, unparalleled in character and extent in the history of any country. The reorganisation of the British Army, which had been in progress from 1902 down to the opening of the war, suddenly, though not unexpectedly to the departments concerned, reacted on naval conditions, and within a few weeks a large number of merchant ships were engaged in a great transport movement, world-wide in its extent, in face of the undefeated naval forces of the second greatest sea Power in the world.

 

The oversea transport of large military forces calls for the closest co-operation between naval and military departments, and demands, perhaps, a higher degree of technical efficiency in all the elements concerned than any other operation of war, particularly if the movement is carried out in face of an enemy fleet which has not revealed its intentions. The operation is facilitated when the soldiers can be disembarked on a friendly shore, but even in that case there remain the perils of the oversea passage, the imminence of which so impressed many British seamen that, down to the summer of 1914, it was an axiom, accepted by many high authorities, that troops should not be moved by sea until the enemy's naval forces had been either defeated or definitely thrown back on the defensive. In the early days of August 1914 the strategic policy to be adopted at sea by the enemy was undisclosed, but British merchant seamen, placing complete reliance on the sufficiency and efficiency of the British Fleet, cooperated in the great transport movement with singleness of purpose, confidence in the adequacy of the arrangements for their safe passage, and complete subordination of their own interests to the interests of the State.

 

Many expeditions across the sea had been carried out since the close of the Napoleonic struggle, but, down to the South African War, in only four instances had the number of troops been considerable. The French dispatched on the short voyage to Algeria in 1830 37,000 infantry, 4,000 cavalry, and a proportionate number of guns; for the invasion of the Crimea in 1854 the forces of the Allies numbered about 53,000 men; the army of the Potomac, which was transported from Washington to Fort Monroe in 1861, was relatively a small one; and for the British expedition to Egypt in 1882 85,720 officers and men were landed at Alexandria, Ismailia, and Suez. During the South African War, 1899-1902, 396,021 officers and men were carried to South Africa from the British Isles, India, and the Colonies, but that movement was spread over a period of two years and eight months. The first orders for the reinforcements were on a small scale, and were carried out slowly.

 

" The decision to reinforce the British troops in Natal was arrived at by the Cabinet on the 8th of September. More than a month later, October 12th, the first shot was fired; but not till six weeks after the decision to reinforce did units from home begin to leave the country, and these troops had to travel more than 7,000 miles before they could affect the situation at the front. At this crisis the whole force available at home was dispatched. It consisted of two battalions of infantry and a brigade division (three batteries) of field artillery." (The Army in 1906, by the Rt. Hon. H. O. Arnold Foster, late Secretary of State for War.)

 

At the close of the South African War, steps were taken to remodel the army, and these measures reacted on the transport arrangements. It was originally proposed to provide a " striking force " of 80,000 men, and plans were considered for organising the necessary sea transport on that basis. After Lord Haldane became Secretary of State for War, an Imperial General Staff was developed, the oversea force was further expanded to 164,000 officers and men, and the watchword of the new military regime was " quick mobilisation." It was realised that the value of the Expeditionary Force would depend largely on the rapidity with which it could be mobilised and embarked for oversea passage. The plans of the military authorities having been prepared and tested, as far as that was possible, it rested with the Transport Department of the Admiralty to complete the scheme by providing adequate and suitable transport for the troops as soon as they reached the water side, thus avoiding delay.

 

EARLY UNCERTAINTIES

 

A country which embarks upon an aggressive war can fix the date for the declaration of the opening of hostihties, and lay its plans many months ahead, drawing up a schedule for the mobilisation and transport of troops. A Power which acts on the defensive is necessarily at a disadvantage. But, apart from the uncertainty as to when the ships, ordinary merchant ships engaged in peaceful trading, would be required, the difficulties associated with British military transport in 1914 were not lessened by the necessary absence of full knowledge in preceding months of the part which the British Army might have to take in war, whether in defending oversea portions of the Empire or in supporting the French Army on the Continent.

 

In the years before the opening of the war, the Government had definitely refrained from giving a pledge of military support to France. But on August 3rd, 1914, the Minister for Foreign Affairs stated, in the course of a speech in the House of Commons, that for many months previously " conversations had taken place between the chief naval and military experts of Great Britain and France with a view to joint action if the necessity should arise." On this occasion the Foreign Minister read a letter which he had addressed to the French Ambassador on November 22nd, 1912, in proof that " these conversations were not binding on the freedom of either Government." In that letter, in the terms of which the French Government concurred, the Foreign Minister stated: " I agree that if either Government have grave reasons to expect an unprovoked attack by a third Power or something which threatens the general peace, it should immediately discuss with the other whether both Governments should not act together to prevent aggression and to preserve peace, and if so, what measures they would be prepared to take in common."

 

That, as the Foreign Minister pointed out, was the starting-point for the Government when the crisis developed in the summer of 1914. " The Government," he declared, "remain perfectly free." He added that "the Triple Entente was not an alliance but a diplomatic group," and " we do not construe anything which has previously taken place in our diplomatic relations with other Powers in this matter as restricting the freedom of the Government to decide what action it should take now or restricting the freedom of the House of Commons to decide what their action shall be." It was in these political circumstances that the plans for the transport of British military forces in the event of war had to be prepared. The point is of some importance, since it illustrates the embarrassments which an uncertain outlook in the diplomatic field, in association with a defensive policy, may throw upon public departments, which in case of failure must be prepared to accept censure.

 

The transport of the British Army must always be of a complicated character, owing to the responsibility for garrisoning oversea bases, and the necessity of keeping a large force of British troops in India. The Army Estimates for the financial year 1914-15 made provision for 727,232 officers and men, besides 75,987 British troops on the Indian establishment. That aggregate included the Regular Forces, the Army Reserve, the Special Reserves, the Militia, and the Territorial Force. The Regular Army was distributed between Home and Foreign stations as follows:

 

 Units

At Home.

Abroad.

Total.

Cavalry Regiments

19

12

31

R.H.A. Batteries

13

12

25

R.F.A. Batteries.

99

48

147

Mountain Batteries.

—

9

9

Garrison Artillery Companies

43

56

99

R.E. Companies

56

21

77

Guards Battalions.

9

—

9

Infantry Battalions

74

74

148

 

The Indian Army establishments consisted of 2,751 officers and 161,081 other ranks, with 35,700 Reservists. In addition, there were an Indian Volunteer Force, consisting of Europeans and Anglo-Indians, of about 1,500 officers and 37,000 other ranks, and about 20,000 Imperial Service Troops. Each of the British Dominions also possessed the nucleus of a military force.

 

Immediately war was declared, the predominant problem was how the varied and not inconsiderable, if, in some respects, untrained, military resources of the Empire could be best utilised for the defence of the world-wide Empire

 

THE PART OF THE MERCHANT NAVY

 

itself against possible dangers and for the promotion of the Allied cause. The impression, current at the outbreak of war, that the Merchant Navy became responsible only for the movement of the Expeditionary Force to France was based upon a misapprehension, both of the preparations which had been made by the Transport Department of the Admiralty, and of the plans which Lord Kitchener drew up on taking office as Secretary of State for War on August 5th for the redistribution of the military forces of the Empire. The Secretary of State for War accepted the transport arrangements which had already been made for carrying the Expeditionary Force across the Channel, and he conceived a further plan of imperial mobilisation which threw upon the Merchant Navy a greatly increased and unexpected burden.

 

Finally, after consultation between the Mother Country and the Dominions, the Dominion authorities prepared plans for bringing considerable bodies of newly raised troops from Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, further increasing the responsibilities of the Mercantile Marine as well as the Royal Navy. In effect, Lord Kitchener determined, while throwing the Expeditionary Force on the Continent, to carry out a " general post " of the military forces of the Empire, involving a widespread movement of transports crowded with officers and men in all the seas and oceans of the world at a time when the enemy fleets were still undefeated.

 

The power of moving armies across the sea was a deciding factor in the victory of the Allied and Associated Powers in the Great War. The problem presented two difficulties: (1) ensuring the security of the troops in transit against danger from enemy surface craft, submarines, and submarine mines, and (2) the provision and handling of shipping to accommodate the military personnel, animals, vehicles, and stores of all kinds required for military use. The first problem was one for the Navy, and this important phase of naval strategy is dealt with elsewhere. (Naval Operations, by Sir Julian Corbett.) It is proposed to deal here with the part taken by the British Mercantile Marine in overcoming the second difficulty, the provision and handling of shipping and the essential auxiliary services.

 

By the last month of the war about 520 British vessels, ranging from ships of 500 tons gross to the largest passenger liners, were being employed on British military services. Their tonnage was about 1,750,000 gross, and that represented approximately the average amount of tonnage continuously devoted to this service throughout the war, excepting in the very early stages when the armies operating overseas were smaller, and less tonnage sufficed to meet their requirements. A very important principle to be borne in mind when deciding upon an oversea military operation is that it is not only a question of providing tonnage once for all for the actual troop movements; there must always be an aftermath of demands for transport of stores, ammunition, and reinforcing drafts in one direction, and of sick and wounded, and maybe prisoners of war, in the other. The proportion of tonnage required for these purposes depends upon the nature of the military forces employed, of the character of the operations upon which they are engaged, and upon the nature of the theatre of war in which they are to operate.

 

There is much to be learned from the numbers of men and weights of stores transported from a land base to and from an army in the field by railways, motor lorries, horsed wagons, and other forms of land transport. This information, which has an important bearing upon land strategy, does not, however, come within the scope of this history. We are, however, concerned with another aspect of the matter. After an army has been landed at an oversea base, the responsibility for maintaining this constant stream of traffic across the sea falls upon the Mercantile Marine, which links up the oversea army with the home country. In such circumstances the commanders of an insular army are as dependent upon shipping for their strategy as they are upon railways and other forms of land transport.

 

The military strategist handling an army in a peninsula or other theatre of war with a large proportion of coastline can sometimes take advantage of sea command to change his base of operations; he can thus shorten his lines of communications and alter their direction. Acting on these principles in the Peninsular War, Wellington, commanding a comparatively small military force, changed his base from Lisbon to Santander and other ports on the north coast of Spain. In the Egyptian War of 1882 the British base was changed suddenly from Alexandria to Ismailia. Kuroki, in the Russo-Japanese War, would

 

TENTATIVE PREPARATIONS

 

have been unable to advance through Korea from Chemulpo to the Yalu had it not been for constant changes of base to other more northerly places on the coast, and history affords many similar examples. It is doubtful whether the British Army could have intervened in the first battle of the Marne had it not been for the help of the Mercantile Marine in the change of base from Havre to St. Nazaire and Nantes on the River Loire, to which important operation special reference must be made later.

 

A just appreciation of the services which the Mercantile Marine rendered in the transport of troops can be formed only in the knowledge that by land and sea, lines of communication for armies reveal the same principle; the longer the line, the greater the amount of transport required in proportion to the strength of the army. Although the actual amount of tonnage per man and horse may be the same for the troops actually transported, the number of ships required for subsequent services increases enormously with the distance of the oversea theatre of war from the home base. The operations in France and Flanders were vastly more economical in shipping and protective measures than the operations in distant theatres.

 

 

(a) The Expeditionary Force to France (B.E.F.)

 

As has been indicated, the only operation for which it had been possible to make preparations, and those of a tentative character, was the transport of the original British Expeditionary Force across the Channel. When the emergency occurred, it was only necessary to bring the scheme up-to-date, to ascertain the names of vessels available in home waters at the time, and to introduce a few amendments necessitated by original overestimates of the capacity of the French harbours for handling the traffic with sufficient speed. Orders were issued on August 5th, 1914, for the scheme to be put into execution. It was at first intended that August 7th should be the first day of embarkation, but ultimately the date was fixed as August 9th.

 

The original plan provided for the embarkation of six divisions, cavalry and line of communication troops, but two divisions (the 4th and 6th) were taken out of the scheme when the order to embark was issued. The 4th Division was subsequently reinstated on the list and began to embark on August 22nd, and fought at Le Cateau on the 26th; and the 6th Division, from Ireland, was transported to England and conveyed to France on September 8th and 9th. The Merchant Service rose to the occasion so well that the necessary transports were ready, as a rule, the day before they were required, although in some cases the necessary refitting of vessels for the carriage of men and horses occupied from two to six days. As the embarkation proceeded, it was found to be possible to expedite the programme. The moves originally fixed for the 13th day were carried out on the 12th day, and those for the 14th on the 13th day. In other respects the embarkation followed exactly the lines originally laid down. In actual experience the military were in charge of the troops, equipment, etc., until the wharves were reached. The Navy's responsibility began when the troops were on board and ended when they had been landed on the overseas wharves.

 

Up to August 23rd the troops and military resources were landed at Boulogne, Le Havre, and Rouen. From that date until August 31st at Le Havre and Rouen. Then came the change of base, of vital importance to the British war strategy, to which reference has already been made. Between August 31st and September 16th the disembarkation ports were St. Nazaire and Nantes on the River Loire. From September 16th, owing to the more favourable situation resulting from the first battle of the Marne, the service to Le Havre and Rouen was partially resumed.

 

Southampton was the principal port of embarkation for troops. The following table shows the numbers embarked at English and Irish ports between August 9th and September 21st:

 

Port.

Officers.

Other Ranks.

Horses.

Nursing Sisters and Civilians.

Southampton

5,028

171,708

51,434

1,389

Newhaven

66

409

-

9

Avonmouth

58

4,547

-

-

Liverpool

16

1,741

-

-

Devonport

30

844

421

-

Dublin         )

 

 

 

 

Belfast         )

826

25,921

10,184

-

Queenstown)

 

 

 

 

Totals

6,024

205,040

62,039

1,398

 

FIRST MOVEMENTS

 

These figures give some idea of the strain brought upon the British Mercantile Marine to meet the demand for transference of the Expeditionary Force to France. In addition to personnel and horses, 93,364 tons is a minimum estimate of the amount of ammunition, stores, vehicles, etc., carried to the same destination for the Army, distributed as follows: Ammunition for guns: 3,984 tons, for small arms 2,185 tons; food: 31,509 tons; forage: 21,364 tons; petrol: 1,006,462 gallons; vehicles: 12,162 tons; stores: 25,080 tons. These figures were dwarfed by the vast amount of tonnage occupied for military purposes when the large new armies took the field on the Western Front and in other theatres of war; when expenditure of ammunition was on a scale undreamed of, and trench stores, new weapons, and tanks were introduced; but the figures serve as a useful corrective to the prevalent idea that sea transport of armies is a simple matter of embarking and disembarking personnel and horses.

 

The general allocation to various ports of embarkation had been arranged as follows: — Southampton, Dublin, Glasgow, Queenstown, Belfast, and Jersey: troops and horses; Newhaven: stores; Liverpool: mechanical transport and frozen meat; Avonmouth: mechanical transport and petrol; London: stevedores; Devonport; Siege Brigade; Dover: Naval Brigade. On the first day (August 9th) six transports, with a total of 5,361 tons gross, left. The numbers varied during the period, the maximum number being reached on August 14th (forty-four vessels, gross tonnage 154,361), and the maximum tonnage on August 16th (thirty-nine vessels, gross tonnage 171,188). On the last day of the period, September 20th, six transports, of a total gross tonnage of 43,409, left. The movements were worked on the ferry system, the same vessels doing from a single voyage up to nine voyages during the period; the whole movement was completed in 570 trips, and the ship-tonnage clearing from the ports totalled 2,241,389 tons gross. The daily average of sailings was thirteen vessels, of 52,125 gross tonnage.

 

As typical of the zeal with which the personnel of the Merchant Service worked to keep the programme up to time, and so contribute to the success of our army in the field, one incident may be mentioned. When sudden orders were received to evacuate Le Havre, two Leyland liners were at Southampton at No. 47 berth, coaling. In the middle of the night orders were given to stop coaling and to sail at once to Le Havre. The coaling was stopped, but a difficulty occurred in closing the coaling ports, which had to be secured by bolts from the outside. The ships' officers and engineers went over the side on stages to effect this, and, as the ships steamed away into the darkness, these men could be seen hanging on the ships' sides, only a few feet from the water, putting in a few bolts to ensure the safety of their ships; by their action much time was saved.

 

This leads us to the rapid evacuation of Le Havre, upon which the speedy recuperation of our army after the retreat from Mons so largely depended. The need to make provision for the ordered movements hitherto described had, as we have noticed, been foreseen. Owing to the adverse military situation, first Boulogne had to be abandoned as a port of disembarkation, then Le Havre, the main base of the British Army. The order for the evacuation of the latter port was received on August 30th. On that day about 60,000 tons of military stores were lying on the wharves. This immense amount of stores, 21,000 troops, and 7,000 horses were conveyed by sea from Le Havre to the River Loire by the Mercantile Marine, and as a result the British Army, reinforced and re-equipped, was able to cross the Marne on September 9th, and continue its advance subsequently. By the 16th the transfer had been completed.

 

It is not easy to find any historic precedent which applies to this successful effort. The official history of the Egyptian War of 1882 mentions the transfer of a base of a much smaller British army from Alexandria to Ismailia. The comparison is hardly a fair one, because Alexandria was not evacuated, but retained as the main base of the army, Ismailia being used as the forward base. Moreover, the scale of army equipment was not so lavish in those days, and the army itself had not lost heavily in guns and stores in a rapid retreat. The official history tells us that, although the plans for the change of base were completed by August 16th, 1882, and the necessary orders issued, matters had not progressed sufficiently for

 

AN INCIDENT IN THE " INVENTOR "

 

operations from Ismailia to commence until September 9th, twenty-four days, compared with eighteen days when the emergency occurred at the beginning of the Great War, a result of which a large share of the credit falls upon the efforts of the Merchant Service to cope with the emergency. It is claimed that over 7,500 tons of stores were cleared daily from Le Havre, in addition to 10,000 tons taken from Rouen in two days; 2,000 Belgian troops, with guns and 2,000 horses, were also cleared from Rouen. An idea of the comparative magnitude of the effort can be gleaned from the figures for Richborough, a model port of embarkation, after twenty-eight months of work and about £1,750,000 in money had been expended upon facilities there for loading war-like stores. A report of Lieutenant-General Sir H. Lawson, dated October 24th, 1918, stated that the average daily shipment of stores at Richborough amounted to about 3,000 tons; the maximum had been 6,000 tons.

 

The navigational difficulties, which were very serious, were on the whole successfully surmounted. The ships were not in all cases suitable for the ports of the Loire, which were not as capable as Le Havre of accommodating vessels of large displacements. One vessel, the Inventor, described as the most important storeship of all, was the largest that had ever reached Nantes. Such heavy ships could only come up on the top of the tide, and they had to be berthed against an island where the water was deepest; even there they settled and heeled over at low tide. The carrying capacity of the Inventor was 10,800 tons, and her holds were 40 feet deep. She was berthed at Nantes late on September 7th and, owing to the poor local facilities which existed, it took over ten days to clear her holds, in spite of the utmost exertions. Her case is referred to in some detail because of an incident during her unloading. The incident furnishes an illustration of the great complication of the question of sea transport of military stores, and its influence upon the fighting efficiency of armies.

 

A small consignment, of about a quarter of a ton, on board this vessel, contained the boxes and belts of machine-guns urgently required by the fighting troops in replacement of losses. This consignment was buried under about 10,000 tons of other stores of all kinds. Whether this was due to an order given to load the most important stores first at Le Havre to avoid capture, or to the original stowage of the hold at Southampton, is a matter on which no light can be shed. As soon as the change of base from Le Havre was ordered, the machine-guns to replace losses in the Mons retreat were sent by rail as urgent stores to the new advanced base, but they were useless without the belts and boxes. These were not found, near the bottom of the Inventor's cargo, until September 17th, and the urgent demands by the Army for machine-guns were consequently not satisfied until after long delay.

 

At that period no vouchers accompanied ordnance stores to France, and there were no supercargoes in charge of them. The incident in no way reflects upon the Merchant Service, and is quoted in order to place on record for future guidance that the issue of an action may depend upon the receipt in the right sequence at the front of a quarter of a ton of technical stores out of the hold of a storeship containing nearly 11,000 tons, and difficulties multiply when all packages are not clearly marked with the nature of their contents. At a later date " convoymen " accompanied cargoes, and vouchers came through with the military stores.

 

This account of the work done by the Mercantile Marine in connection with the transport of the original Expeditionary Force to France would not be complete without a reference to the sudden strain caused unexpectedly by the decision to attempt the relief of Antwerp. The movement of the Royal Marine Brigade to and from Ostend in August 1914 was carried out by war-vessels, so is outside the scope of this chapter. We need not pause to deal in detail with the transport of the Royal Naval Brigade to Dunkirk in September 1914, of the Royal Naval Artillery to the same destination in October, and of the 7th Division and Naval Division to Belgium, but the complication of the service subsequently undertaken cannot be over-emphasised. The 7th Division was landed at Ostend and Zeebrugge. Transports arrived at Ostend on October 7th and 8th, and the landing of troops and stores was at once proceeded with. On Saturday, October 10th, when most of the stores had been landed, orders were given to evacuate Ostend in forty-eight hours' time, to re-embark all stores, and to make every effort to get

 

A FOUR DAYS' RECORD

 

the ships away to prevent their falling into the hands of the enemy. About twenty-four transports were in the port, many of them in the tidal basin, which only about six ships could leave on one tide.

 

Then the Naval Division, the Marine Brigade, the refugees, and Belgian troops began to pour in, and owed a deep debt of gratitude to the masters and crews of the transports who gave them shelter, hot cocoa, and sorely needed food. Refugees and troops blocked all approaches. Only comparatively few stevedores could be obtained, twenty-eight on one day and seven on another. Practically the whole of the loading of British army stores was done by the officers and crews of the transports, who put in extraordinarily long hours of work, and by British soldiers; the Belgian cranemen and men on the lock-gates also worked continuously without reliefs. Amongst the loads were heavy guns, a 9.2-inch weighing thirty-eight tons, two 6-inch, and six 4.7-inch, besides two steam tractors and a good deal of ammunition. There were no suitable slings, but the transport Artist had a spare new wire hawser of which the master (Mr. Mills) and his chief officer made use and personally slung the steam tractors, thus saving these valuable stores from capture, a most noteworthy performance.

 

Between October 10th and 13th, 6,000 Naval Division, 1,000 Belgian wounded, and one shipload of horses, carriages, and other things belonging to the King of the Belgians, were transported from Ostend to England; 440 British troops and two shiploads of Belgian stores were moved from Ostend to Boulogne; 1,500 Belgian troops from Ostend to Cherbourg; 2,000 Belgian refugees from Zeebrugge to Calais and Cherbourg, 1,200 Royal Naval forces and 6,000 Belgian wounded from Dunkirk to England, 11,000 Belgian troops from Dunkirk to Cherbourg. Between October 17th and 18th 17,900 Belgian troops were transported from Dunkirk to Calais, and 3,000 from Boulogne to Dunkirk. In addition, about 1,000 Russian refugees from Belgium and England were carried to Archangel, and a number of emergency coast moves were carried out. Thirty thousand French troops were also moved from Le Havre to La Pallice, and 10,000 from Calais to Cherbourg, in British ships.

 

The scene at Ostend, at the time when the troop movements were taking place, may be gathered from the following account:

 

" On October 14th it was announced that the vessels sent to Ostend were evacuating refugees at the rate of 5,000 a day; a previous report had stated that the roads leading to the port were black with refugees flocking towards it. The number of these unfortunate people awaiting embarkation on October 13th was 20,000, and a destroyer escort was requisitioned to protect the crowded transports. The Belgian packet-boat helped materially in the work of transference across the Channel, assisted by the English passenger ships Invicta, Queen, and Victoria."

 

Zeebrugge port was closed down on October 10th, and Ostend on the 14th. Speed had to take precedence of organisation, as may be gathered from a report from the Naval Transport Officer at Dover on October 15th, that " half the refugees that had arrived there were wounded soldiers, etc., all mixed up hopelessly." There was unavoidable overcrowding, and the varied personnel was taken to Dover faster than it could be handled there; but the matter was urgent, and the way in which the British Merchant Service rose to the occasion and dealt with the difficult situation without disaster from marine risks or overcrowding earned the highest praise of the naval and military authorities.

 

At first Belgian pilots were employed to pilot the vessels as far as Dunkirk, but owing to the congestion they could not get back to Ostend. The navigation of these waters is always difficult, and the prevailing foggy weather increased the difficulties and risk. Luckily some of the transports had Trinity House pilots on board. Any master who did not elect to sail without a pilot was given one of these, and his ship led a string of three or four transports until open waters were reached. The whole operation was conducted without mishap, and only one vessel, the Coath, an ammunition ship, was delayed near Malo-les-Bains, where she was ordered to anchor by a French patrol-boat and apparently forgotten. She reached Dunkirk two days later.

 

A GREAT STRAIN

 

 

(b) The Empire Military Mobilisation

(Direct movements to enemy territory are not included in this section.)

 

Having dealt briefly with the sea transport of the British Expeditionary Force to France, for which preparations had been made in pre-war days, and with the variation in the plans which occurred, we can now pass to the unexpected and unprepared movements of troops which threw such a heavy strain upon the Merchant Service in the early days of the war. Owing to the doubt which prevailed as to whether troops from the self-governing Dominions and India would participate with the British Army in a great war, no detailed preparations had been made for their sea transport, and there had been no study of the influence of the withdrawal of British merchant shipping for this purpose upon the economic position in Great Britain.

 

The point is mentioned to emphasise the serious nature of the strain brought to bear upon the Merchant Service in meeting the sudden demand for tonnage for troop transport, while at the same time making every effort to maintain the supply to the British Isles of the food and raw material needed by the population. The transports for the short cross-Channel movement were worked, as we have seen, on the ferry system, and one vessel did as many as nine voyages in about three weeks. This conveys some measure of the difference in the number of vessels required for long voyages occupying several weeks, or even months.

 

Lord Kitchener determined to concentrate all the highly trained forces of the Empire in France, replacing them by less well trained units. It was a bold stroke of policy, and its success depended on the efficiency of the transport arrangements and the devotion of officers and men of the Merchant Service. When the great military mobilisation began to take effect, the chief movements were, in sequence of the orders received for their execution:

(1) August 19th: the removal of part of the garrisons of Egypt, Malta, and Gibraltar to the United Kingdom;

(2) August 25th: the movement of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force;

(3) August 29th: the transfer of Territorial troops to Egypt, Malta, and Gibraltar;

(4) September 4th: the movement of the first contingent of the Australian Expeditionary Force.

(5) September 9th: the movement of the First Canadian Expeditionary Force;

(6) September 13th: the dispatch of transports from Egypt to India, and conveyance of Egyptian garrison to England;

(7) September 23rd: the transfer of Wessex Territorial Division to India;

(8) October 10th: the movement of British troops to India;

(9) October 14th: the transfer of Home Counties Territorial Division to India;

(10) November 3rd: the movement of the second contingents, Australia and New Zealand Expeditionary Forces;

(11) November 11th: the transfer of Wessex (Reserve) Territorial Division to India,

We will take these movements in succession in order to reflect the character and extent of the burden which was thrown on the Mercantile Marine, for they involved the use of a great volume of shipping.

 

(1) Removal to the United Kingdom of Troops from. Egypt, Malta, and Gibraltar.— The grand total of these movements amounted to 7,355 officers and men, 711 horses, and 278 mules. The troops moved from Egypt included 1 cavalry regiment, 3 battalions of infantry, 1 battery of R.H.A., 1 Field Company R.E., and details of the Army Service Corps, Veterinary Department, and Ordnance Corps; from Malta 3 battalions of infantry, and details; from Gibraltar 1 battalion of infantry, and details. There were also large numbers of women and children at all those Mediterranean garrisons. The movement was foreshadowed on August 19th. It was carried out between September 13th and October 16th by nine transports, with a total gross tonnage of about 80,000. On August 28th further information was received through the General Officer commanding in Egypt that the whole Egyptian garrison would eventually be removed excepting a few minor details, its place being taken by a Territorial division. Indian troops would require transport from Egypt to Marseilles.

 

(2) Movement of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. — On August 25th notice was received of the approaching movement of the original New Zealand Expeditionary Force, On August 31st the New Zealand Minister of Defence announced that the force was ready to embark, and on September 12th that the reinforcements for this main force would be ready to follow about six weeks after its departure. The first convoy, containing nine transports (72,800 tons gross), left Wellington on October 16th, 1914, and arrived in Egypt on December 1st. On November

 

A VAST VOLUME OF SHIPPING

 

11th provisional arrangements for the dispatch of the reinforcements were forwarded to New Zealand. On December 12th the Admiralty gave permission for the three transports carrying them to steam without escort as far as Aden, although enemy cruisers were known to be at large. They left on December 14th and arrived in Egypt on January 31st, 1915. The strength of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force was 7,670 officers and men with 3,467 animals, and the reinforcements numbered 1,971 officers and men with 959 animals, and were carried in three transports, of about 20,350 tons gross. In addition to these troops, 200 Maoris, offered by New Zealand and accepted by the Army Council, were transported to Egypt, and 147 British Army Reservists were conveyed without escort round the Horn, arriving in England on December 20th.

 

(3) Transfer of Territorial Troops from England to Gibraltar, Malta, and Egypt. — On August 29th a demand was received from the War Office for the dispatch of a Territorial division and 2 regiments of Yeomanry to Egypt, an infantry brigade to Malta, and 2 battalions to Gibraltar, the estimated total numbers amounting to 490 officers, 14,372 other ranks, and 363 horses. Thirteen merchant vessels were selected to carry the troops, and seven were requisitioned for the horses, etc. It was understood that the existing garrison of Egypt would be brought to England in these transports, when it was relieved. By September 4th nineteen vessels (155,500 tons gross) had been appropriated. The first of these left Southampton on that day, and the last arrived at Alexandria on September 25th. One vessel, the Grantully Castle, proceeded through the Canal to Port Sudan, carrying about 1,900 troops.

 

(4) Movement of the First Contingent of the Australian Expeditionary Force. — On September 4th, 1914, the Australian Government sanctioned the requisition of detained enemy ships for use as transports, and on September 5th announced that all the units of the first Australian contingent would be ready to embark within six weeks, at the same time representing to the Board of Trade that it was important, so far as practicable, that the transports should also carry cargo on the voyage to England. On September 8th the Admiralty announced that by October 7th an escort for the convoy would be ready at Fremantle, and that the New Zealand reinforcements would join the convoy.

 

The Australian Navy Office reported on September 9th that twenty-seven transports would assemble at St. George's Sound by October 5th. The Miltiades, conveying British Army reservists, left Australia on October 23rd. On November 1st thirty-six transports left for Colombo. It had been decided on October 26th that the Australian and New Zealand convoy should come to England by the Cape of Good Hope route, but on November 21st the decision was reached to land the contingents in Egypt to complete their training and for defence of the country, then threatened by an invasion by Turkish troops, Turkey having by this time joined the Central Powers. The British Army reservists were to be sent on to England. This change in the arrangements threw an extra strain upon the Merchant Service, and much correspondence ensued about the destination of the various vessels unexpectedly liberated by the new scheme of disembarkation.

 

The convoys arrived in Egypt on December 1st, 1914, without mishap or delay. The only adverse incident which occurred was that one transport, the Anglo-Egyptian, touched the breakwater at Colombo, but the damage was not sufficient to delay the vessel. Throughout the course of these unprepared troop movements, it is noticeable that, although so many merchant ships, liners and cargo-vessels were diverted from their usual routes, they were handled safely by good seamanship in harbours with which the captains and crews were not familiar. Twenty-eight vessels for troops (gross tonnage 244,500) and fifteen for details, stores, etc., were employed to transfer the Australian contingent to Egypt. The total military personnel carried numbered 21,429 officers and men, with 8,000 animals.

 

(5) Movement of the First Canadian Expeditionary Force across the Atlantic. — This movement of large numbers of valuable transports loaded with troops into the war area infested with submarines and mines, while sea command was in dispute, threw a great strain upon the seamanship and resourcefulness of the Merchant Service. The first papers on the subject in the transport department are dated September 9th, 1914. The arrangements for the organisation of the convoys and provision for their safety

 

THE CANADIAN FORCE

 

by the Navy are beyond the scope of this history. Secrecy was all-important. Quebec was the port of embarkation, and subsequently assembly took place in Gaspe Bay. The movements of 18,000-ton vessels of 17 knot speed had to be synchronised with those of 3,000-ton vessels with a speed of 10 knots. Southampton was first selected as the port of disembarkation, and Liverpool was also suggested. The transport of the First Canadian Division was rendered more difficult by its inflated numbers, which amounted to 31,200 officers and men and 7,300 horses. The convoys left on October 3rd. During the voyage many changes were made in the proposed ports of disembarkation, but finally Devonport was selected. By October 15th all the transports, excepting one, the Manhattan, which sailed separately, had reached Plymouth Sound, and they had been unloaded on October 22nd.

 

In view of the want of previous practice in station-keeping between merchant ships of such widely divergent speed and size, the safe transport of this heterogeneous convoy reflected great credit upon the masters and watch-keeping officers of the merchant ships. Thirty-one vessels (total gross tonnage 321,000) carried the Canadian troops; two more, with the Newfoundland contingent and a British infantry battalion (2nd Lincolnshire) accompanied the convoys on October 3rd, and four cargo vessels left independently between October 7th and November 7th. There were only a few minor claims for damage to transports, and only one adverse incident; some rifles were carried on to Glasgow by one of the transports after the disembarkation at Devonport.

 

(6) Dispatch of Transports from Egypt to India, and Conveyance of Egyptian Garrison to England. — On September 12th the Viceroy of India made representations to the War Office on the subject of requirements in transports, and it was suggested that the twenty then on their way to Egypt with Territorial troops should go on to India for use of the military authorities. Between September 26th and 28th nine transports were sent on to India from Egypt, and one vessel from Marseilles. Four transports (gross tonnage 38,240) left Alexandria for England with the original Egyptian garrison (strength 78 officers, 3,074 other ranks, including 220 natives with 625 animals), on September 30th, and one transport left Port Sudan, carrying a British battalion (1st Suffolk), on October 3rd, arriving at Southampton on October 11th.

 

(7) Transfer of Wessex Territorial Division to India. — On September 23rd a demand was received to move this division to India, the numbers being estimated at 490 officers, 14,372 other ranks, and 363 horses. Four transports were detained at Southampton for the purpose. The troops embarked on October 9th in nine transports, total gross tonnage 73,000. Two hundred and twenty naval ratings were sent to Malta in one of the transports, the Ingonia, which would otherwise have proceeded empty to India. The convoy arrived at Bombay and Karachi on November 9th-11th.

 

(8) Movement of British Troops from India. — This movement was initiated on October 10th, 1914. The first group, consisting of 5 battalions of infantry, 11 R.F.A. batteries, 3 R.G.A. heavy batteries, details, and women and children (the troops totalling 227 officers and 11,500 men), left Bombay on October 16th in seven transports (total gross tonnage 62,000) and arrived safely at Plymouth on November 16th with the exception of the Dunera, which put into Southampton the same day, having run considerable risk of being torpedoed by submarines on her way up-Channel. She was the only transport in the convoy not fitted with wireless telegraphy. This need was supplied before her next voyage.

 

The second group, of 9 battalions of infantry and 2 R.H.A. and 2 R.F.A. batteries, 3 companies of R.G.A,, women, children, and horses (the troops totalling 332 officers and 11,887 men), left Bombay and Karachi on November 19th and 20th in nine transports (total gross tonnage 79,700) and arrived at Devonport on December 22nd. The handling of these loads while on board by the Merchant Service engaged in the transport work may be judged from the smooth disembarkation of the whole in forty hours, which elicited from the admiral of the port the expression " admirably carried out."

 

The third group of 5 battalions, accompanied by details and by very large numbers of women and children, besides the personnel of 2 Indian hospital ships and an Indian general hospital (the troops totalling 182 officers and 5,412 men), left Bombay and Karachi on December 9th and 10th in seven transports (total gross tonnage 63,700)

 

TERRITORIALS MOVED TO INDIA

 

and arrived at Avonmouth on January 10th, 1915.

 

The fourth group, of 1 battahon, with women and children (the troops totalling 52 officers and 1,420 men), left Bombay in one transport of 8,092 tons gross and arrived at Avonmouth on February 1st.

 

The fifth group, with details of numerous regiments left behind, women, children, and ordnance stores (the troops totalling 33 officers and 651 men), left India on February 23rd in four transports, of 34,000 tons gross; two were detained in Egyptian waters, one of these, the Ionian, being requisitioned for the General Officer Commanding. The two sent on, the Caledonia and Aragon, after detention at Gibraltar owing to the danger attending upon the full moon and possibility of enemy attack, arrived at Avonmouth on March 12th. There was an outbreak of measles amongst the children in these ships to add to the worries of mothers and officers. Nearly 100 cases occurred, of which 75 were in the Caledonia. The remaining transport, the Saturnia, ultimately came on to Avonmouth via Marseilles.

 

(9) Transfer of Home Counties Territorial Division to India. — The first intimation of this move was contained in a letter from the War Office dated October 14th, 1914, in which the hope was expressed that the division could be moved on October 25th. Three days later the number of troops was given as 457 officers and 12,112 men, of which number 36 officers and 800 men would be dropped at Aden. There was serious congestion of shipping at Plymouth at the time, causing delay in unloading shipping, so the port of Southampton was chosen and October 29th was the date selected for the convoy to leave. In spite of delays due to one transport, the Dilwara, developing a fire in her bunkers, and to another, the Corsican, grounding in Southampton Water, the convoy of ten transports (gross tonnage 90,500) left Southampton on September 29th and 30th. Owing to the political situation in Egypt, it was detained there to enable the convoy from India, due at Suez on November 18th, to be nearer Egypt. This enabled the Dilwara to join up, and the whole convoy arrived at Bombay between December 1st and 3rd. The revised numbers carried were 444 officers and 11,838 men.

 

(10) Movement of New Zealand Reinforcements, and the Second Australian Contingent and Reinforcements. — On November 3rd, 1914, transports were requisitioned. On November 6th the date of departure was fixed provisionally for the middle of December. A hospital ship, the Kyarra, sailed on December 14th and the convoy left Albany on December 31st, consisting of nineteen transports, of which three (gross tonnage 20,350) carried the New Zealand reinforcements (strength 1,971), and sixteen (gross tonnage 149,700) the Australian second contingent and reinforcements (strength 9,453 officers and men and 4,609 animals). The convoy arrived at Suez on January 30th, 1915, at which time the attack by the Turks upon the Suez Canal was developing. One of the transports, the Themistocles, came on to England, calling at Malta to bring 184 details to England and at Gibraltar to take on board 392 details.

 

(11) Transport of Wessex Reserve Territorial Division to India, etc. — On November 11th, 1914, the War Office asked for transport to India for the Welsh Territorial Division, but the Wessex Reserve Territorial Division was afterwards substituted, and the date of dispatch fixed as December 12th. Five transports (total gross tonnage 47,000) were employed. The numbers of troops were 338 officers and 10,057 other ranks. The vessels arrived at Bombay and Karachi between January 4th and 8th, 1915. The Scottish Women's Hospital, destined for Serbia, was dropped at Malta.

 

This movement may be said to have completed the original military mobilisation of the Empire.

 

 

(c) The Dardanelles Expedition

 

The transfer of the British Army to France was, as we have seen, an operation for which preparations had previously been made. The extemporised arrangements in connection with the relief of Antwerp followed. The character of the work thrown on the Mercantile Marine in these operations can be gathered from the brief details which have been given, and some estimate can also be formed of the stupendous effort involved in carrying out the sea movements required to mobilise and to distribute, in the first instance, the military forces and resources of the Empire. Details of the tonnage of transports have been added as a guide for estimates of the amount of

 

TRANSPORTS FOR THE DARDANELLES

 

shipping required to move military units and drafts respectively for long or short voyages, a question of considerable importance to an island Power, from the point of view both of defence and of attack. In order to complete the detailed account of the movement of the " first million," it is necessary to give some account of the initial movements entailed by the decision to send troops from the United Kingdom to the Mediterranean with an ultimate destination in hostile territory, the Gallipoli Peninsula, together with some preliminary events leading up to that operation.

 

On February 11th, 1915, three transports were requisitioned to move 2,800 Royal Marines and details from Southampton to Mombasa, starting on February 17th. Eight hundred men were subsequently deducted from this number, and about 220 Artillery and Engineers were added. The requisitioning of two of the transports, the Alnwick Castle and Dunluce Castle, was cancelled, and another— the Grantully Castle — substituted. A further demand for one ship to be fitted partly as a hospital ship led to the requisitioning of the Grantully Castle being cancelled and the Somali and Alnwick Castle (again) being taken up, the Somali's hospital fittings to be erected on the voyage out. Some horse-boats and guns were to be taken. As an example of the uncertainties with which the movement of troops was attended owing to changes in the political and military situations, on February 16th all these arrangements were cancelled, and it was decided to send the Royal Naval Division and the 29th Division to the Mediterranean. On February 20th a requisition was received for the transport of 7 battalions of the Naval Division, and about 8,000 officers and men, to leave Avonmouth on February 27th for Lemnos. Thirteen transports were employed in this convoy, one of them carrying mule transport, one a Naval Air Force unit, and four of them stores. Four ships were ordered to leave on February 27th, and four on the 28th.

 

In connection with this rapid embarkation (which led to subsequent delay owing to the packing of the holds of the transports), it may be noted that it was not realised that the troops embarked were likely to take part at once in an opposed landing on a hostile coast. The complication of the needs of troops in action or who were likely to be in action, as affecting the packing of holds, has already been touched upon when dealing with the transfer of base of the British Army in France from Le Havre to St. Nazaire and Nantes. While the rapid embarkation of the troops and stores reflected great credit upon those concerned, it may be put on record that extra time spent in packing the holds of transports, under expert military supervision, if proceeding to a destination in hostile territory, may cause delay at the time, but such delay at the outset is well repaid subsequently by the saving of time and losses in carrying out such a delicate operation as landing troops in face of opposition.

 

The numbers in the 29th Division were at first estimated at 717 officers, 21,971 other ranks, and 6,391 horses; the numbers actually carried were 705 officers, 20,533 men, and 6,522 animals. Nineteen transports were employed, and five store transports, one, the Inkonka, carrying an Air Force unit. The vessels sailed, separately, for Alexandria at intervals between February 27th and March 15th, 1915, arriving on various dates from March 14th onwards.

 

The 2nd Mounted Division was directed to follow as soon as possible after the 29th Division. The approximate numbers were 525 officers, 9,470 men, and 9,585 horses. No remount ships were available. Nineteen transports were appropriated, and the vessels sailed in groups between April 8th and 13th, calling at Malta for orders. Three transports were kept for subsequent embarkations on April 15th, and one transport, with the G.H.Q. signal company, was ordered direct to Lemnos. The transports began to arrive at Alexandria on April 20th.

 

In the meantime twelve transports containing horseboats, fittings, and crews for them, with their rations, had been dispatched from Portsmouth singly by coastwise route for Alexandria, where they were urgently needed, a demand for the transport of 10,000 men of the Australian and New Zealand forces from that port on February 27th having been received.

 

By midnight on March 21st/22nd, 1915, the numbers of British Dominion, Colonial, and Indian troops which had been transported by sea by the British Mercantile Marine amounted to about 1,039,300. This figure represents effectives. 137,169 sick and wounded had also been

 

A GREAT ACHIEVEMENT

 

carried. Within six months of the declaration of war, therefore, well over a million armed combatants of the British Empire, with their equipment and stores, had been transported across the world's oceans and seas, an achievement without precedent in history. Out of the first million there were no casualties amongst the troops, either from marine risk or from enemy action. When the constant transfer of shipping from familiar to unfamiliar voyages is considered, and account is taken of the navigational and the other difficulties, there is no need to emphasise the enterprise and organising power of British shipowners, or the seamanship, resourcefulness, and zeal of the masters and crews. One and all, they served the nation well in the hour when it was confronted with a situation the gravity of which, in view of many unknown factors, it had been impossible fully to foresee.

 

Apart from the tentative plans for the transport of the Expeditionary Force, the movements by sea of the military forces in accordance with the wishes of the War Office had to be provided for at a few days' notice. Arrangements had to be improvised as each emergency arose, and every call which was made on the shipping firms or the crews of the ships concerned was met promptly and efficiently. No contract, written or implied, existed between the State and the Mercantile Marine, but nevertheless the whole of its resources, material and personnel, were instantly and ungrudgingly placed at the service of the nation. The success achieved in face of constantly changing conditions by sea and by land was in no small measure due to the Naval Transport Department, which requisitioned and loaded the ships. And, as has been indicated, the Navy, on which devolved the responsibility of protecting the transports while on passage in face of undeveloped enemy forces, fulfilled its mission. The pride in the transportation of the first million troops without the loss of a single life is shared by the men who served under the Red and White Ensigns.

 

 


 

 

CHAPTER V

 

MERCHANT SEAMEN AND THE BLOCKADE

 

The blockade of Germany, which was instituted immediately after the declaration of war, differed in many important respects from the blockade maintained during the long struggle with France in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with the result that from 1914 onwards merchant ships and merchant seamen were required to bear no mean share of the burden. Students are familiar with the strain which was imposed upon blockaders in the past owing to the uncertainties of wind and sea. In the sailing-ship era, although the blockade was maintained as close to the enemy's shores as possible, there was no guarantee that enemy ships would not escape from port, and that incoming ships, favoured by the fortune of wind, would not succeed in eluding the vigilance of the blockaders. On three occasions the French fleet at Toulon managed to escape in spite of Nelson's vigilance, and frigates and privateers frequently broke out singly, inflicting heavy losses on British merchant vessels.

 

 

 

On Watch in the Arctic

 

During the period which intervened between the close of the Napoleonic Wars and the opening of the Great War in 1914, it had come to be recognised that the advent of the steam engine, the increased range of the high-power gun mounted on shore, and the evolution of the torpedo in destroyer and submarine had radically affected the whole problem of maintaining a blockade. Whereas the sailing man-of-war, moreover, was a self-contained unit of power, with water and provisions sufficient for the needs of the officers and men for a period ranging from three to six months, the modern man-of-war had become dependent on auxiliaries for food and stores, and radius of action was restricted by limited capacity for carrying fuel. In these circumstances the blockade of Germany was maintained at long range; the ships of the

 

BLOCKADE DIFFICULTIES

 

Grand Fleet were based on Scapa Flow, Cromarty, and the Firth of Forth, and from time to time they left harbour to carry out what were known as " sweeps " in the North Sea.

 

Before hostilities opened, the naval authorities had realised that forces would be necessary to keep the seas in all weathers, acting as the antennae of the Grand Fleet and maintaining a constant patrol in order to prevent contraband being conveyed into Germany. At first this arduous duty was confided to groups of the older cruisers of the Navy, but eventually, owing to the unseaworthiness of these vessels and their restricted fuel capacity and to their being required for other services, it devolved upon armed merchant ships, which, though commanded by naval officers, were manned by seamen of the Mercantile Marine. Long before the war came to its close the active blockade of Germany was being maintained by the Tenth Cruiser Squadron, consisting of twenty-five large merchant ships, and it may always be a source of pride to shipowners, and in particular to the officers and men of the Mercantile Marine, that merchant ships bore the responsibility which in former days had been discharged by frigates of the Navy, and that the character of the ships, in association with the high standard of seamanship of the crews, enabled a more successful blockade to be sustained in conditions of great difficulty than had been known in any previous war. The significance of that success can be appreciated only in knowledge of the conditions in which it was achieved.

 

There were two channels by which goods might enter Germany either direct or by way of the northern countries of Europe: one was through the Straits of Dover and the other round the north of Scotland. The laying of a large mine-field in the extreme southern portion of the North Sea compelled all vessels to go through the Downs, and thus it was possible to intercept and examine every ship which passed up and down the English Channel. The problem presented by the northern route was far more difficult of solution. The distance from the north of Scotland to Iceland is 450 miles, and from Iceland to Greenland another 160 miles. Once vessels had passed this line and made the coast of Norway inward bound, they could proceed to their destinations inside territorial waters where they could not be stopped and examined.

 

Ships which were outward bound could also take advantage of the territorial waters of Norway, and then, favoured by darkness, mist, or fog, could make a dash for the Atlantic with some confidence of escaping observation unless the patrols were numerous and vigilant. The problem set to the Northern Patrol, consisting of the Tenth Cruiser Squadron, became, therefore, one of watching an area of over 200,000 square miles, the size of which was somewhat reduced during the winter months by ice. The patrol was maintained under many difficulties, since the vessels had necessarily to work at great distances from their bases and, owing to their limited number, were a long way out of sight of each other. During the winter, gales are almost incessant in this northern latitude, and when the wind falls fogs of varying density often shroud the sea.

 

Finally, long before the submarine campaign on merchant shipping was embarked upon by the enemy systematically, submersible craft were engaged in searching for and attacking the ships which were maintaining the blockade. In these circumstances of danger from the forces of nature as well as from the stratagems of the enemy, a relentless economic constriction was imposed on Germany. The service involved officers and men in hardships with which British seamen had for many years been unfamiliar, many of the blockading vessels remaining at sea in spite of gales, fogs, and submarines for as long as a month or more at a stretch.

 

On the Saturday before the outbreak of war Rear-Admiral Dudley de Chair received orders from the Admiralty to mobilise the Tenth Cruiser Squadron, hoisting his flag on board the Crescent at Portsmouth. The other cruisers chosen to form the Squadron consisted of the sister ships Edgar and Grafton, which were also at Portsmouth, the Endymion, Theseus, and Gibraltar, which were at Devonport, and the Royal Arthur, which was at Chatham; the Hawke, which was also to join the Squadron, was refitting at Queenstown. The gunboat Dryad was included in the command. The eight cruisers were old ships; they had been laid down under the Naval Defence Act of 1889. All of them, except the Gibraltar, which was of 7,700 tons, displaced 7,350 tons. When new, they had attained speeds somewhat exceeding 19 knots;

 

TWO GERMAN VESSELS CAPTURED

 

they had a normal coal capacity of 850 tons, with a full load of 1,200 tons. The vessels, owing to their age, had been relegated to the Third Fleet of the Home Fleets before the opening of the war and were provided with nucleus crews on the lowest category, provision being made to complete the complement mainly from the Royal Naval Reserve. The Rear-Admiral commanding, on reaching Portsmouth, had without delay to mobilise this homogeneous and obsolete group of cruisers and take his force to sea in face of the enemy with officers and men drawn in the main from the Royal Naval Reserve, and therefore consisting mainly of merchant seamen.

 

As a result of extraordinary efforts the Crescent, Grafton, and Edgar were ready by August 3rd, and Admiral de Chair proceeded at once, hoping to be joined off Plymouth by the Endymion, Theseus, and Gibraltar. In this he was disappointed, as these three ships were delayed, but, signalling to them to follow with all dispatch, he pressed on, passing up the West Coast of England on August 4th to Scapa Flow.

 

At midnight orders were received to commence hostilities against Germany, and early on the following morning, when off the Mull of Cantire, the first blow against the enemy was struck when the Grafton, in accordance with the Admiral's orders, chased and captured the German s.s, Wilhelm Behrens (750 tons) and sent her into Greenock with a prize crew. The German steamer Marie Glaeser was also captured by the Tenth Cruiser Squadron later in the same day off the Isle of Man. On the following day the Endymion and Theseus joined the flag at Scapa Flow, and late in the same day the Crescent and Edgar put to sea, where the Admiral was joined later on by the other ships of his command. In accordance with the orders of the Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet, the Rear-Admiral proceeded, by way of the westward of the Orkneys, to the area allotted to him in his war orders; and thus began the work of patrol which was to be maintained without intermission until January 1918, in face of difficulties and hardships which no one at that period could have, foreseen.

 

Throughout the period of hostilities the embarrassments which would in any circumstances have arisen in maintaining the patrol were increased owing to the decision of the British Government that it was undesirable to declare a blockade in accordance with the generally recognised tenets of international law. It was determined to act under Orders in Council, the provisions of which were naturally criticised in neutral countries and particularly in the United States. For in endeavouring to cut off all Germany's supplies, it followed inevitably that the neutral States bordering on the enemy's territory suffered inconvenience through their traders, who under normal conditions carried on an active commerce with the United States and other countries on the American continent. Though the officers commanding the Tenth Cruiser Squadron, and the senior officers of the other naval forces which co-operated with them during the early period of the war, had no concern with questions of international politics or law, the existence in the background of controversies with other countries demanded that the utmost discretion and tact should be exercised in applying economic pressure upon Germany.

 

In the unparalleled circumstances in which the blockade of Germany was instituted, novel forms of procedure were evolved as a result of experience, and it soon became the established practice to send suspicious vessels into a neighbouring port for examination. This procedure was the subject of a good many protests on the part of neutrals, but it was an inevitable feature of a blockade under modern conditions, as it was difficult to open hatches in heavy weather without wetting the cargo, and an order to sift the cargo to the bottom meant hoisting it all on deck and keeping the ship in submarine waters many days — a source of danger the neutral ships did not care to accept.

 

Experience proved that it was safer and more humane in view of the dangers of fog and of storm, apart from the activities of the enemy, to take neutral ships into a protected port for examination even if the difficulties of examination by sea had not been insuperable. Moreover, the British method contrasted favourably with that adopted by the Germans, who seldom, even in the North Sea, attempted to take a suspicious ship, neutral or allied, into port, but made it an almost invariable practice to sink her at sight, leaving the crew to fare as best they might in small boats. The enemy's actions were in striking contrast with the orders issued at the beginning of the

 

A COMPLICATED TASK

 

war by the Admiralty. These directed that officers and men engaged in blockade work were to treat the captains and crews of suspected neutral ships with the utmost courtesy and consideration, and to place them and their vessel in as little danger or inconvenience as was consistent with the efficient maintenance of the blockade.

 

At first the work of the Tenth Cruiser Squadron was carried out under conditions of peculiar difficulty. The Rear-Admiral commanding had been provided with a number of old cruisers with newly mobilised crews; the force had to be transformed into an efficient and well-disciplined unit, and provision had to be made for keeping the vessels supplied with coal and stores. The Admiral had also to consider the problem of securing convenient and suitable bases. Over and above all this, the work of the Squadron was subject to interruption owing to the demands which were made upon it.

 

Early in the month of August it was, for instance, required to act as the advance screen of the Grand Fleet during a sweep in the North Sea; it steamed four miles ahead of the Grand Fleet, the whole force proceeding in the direction of the Skagerrak on the lookout for the enemy's fleet. At this period, moreover, reports were repeatedly reaching the Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet of the proposed movement of German men-of-war and armed merchantmen, of suspicious happenings in the islands to the north of Scotland, as well as of floating mines which often proved to be merely fishing-buoys. For these and other reasons ships had to be repeatedly detached from the patrol, and it proved no easy matter in the circumstances to carry out the duties assigned to the Squadron, which, owing to the absence of vessels coaling or undergoing repairs, was never at its full strength.

 

The Admiral had also to improvise a defensive system at Lerwick, guns being landed from his squadron to enable the harbour to resist an enemy raid. Great anxiety prevailed lest the enemy should land a large force on the Shetlands, and on several occasions rumours of German transports full of troops having passed out of the Baltic were received. Provision had also to be made for protecting the supplies of coal which were being dispatched to the White Sea for the use of the Russians.

 

By the middle of August the Tenth Cruiser Squadron began to undergo a gradual change in its composition, which was eventually to lead to its reconstruction. On the 18th the armed merchant cruiser Alsatian, one of the liners of the Allan Line, joined the flag, and about a week later the Mantua reported to the Rear-Admiral for patrol duty, and she, again, was joined by the Oceanic before the end of the month. The arduous and dangerous character of the work which had been assigned the Squadron was soon made apparent by a series of untoward incidents. On September 8th the Admiral commanding received information that the Oceanic was ashore at Hoevdi Grund in a dense fog, two and a half miles E. by S. from South Ness, Foula Island, in the Shetlands. This liner unfortunately became a total wreck, the crew being rescued by the Alsatian and landed at Liverpool.

 

The arrival of the armed merchant cruiser Teutonic on September 20th was a welcome accession to the strength of the Squadron, but the anxieties of Admiral de Chair were not lessening, for from day to day reports reached him of the increasing activity of enemy submarines. That the menace to his ships, in spite of the fact that zigzagging had become a matter of daily routine, was a real one was soon to be proved by an event which robbed the patrol of one of its units and resulted in the loss of 560 lives. On the afternoon of October 15th the Theseus reported the presence of submarines on the patrol line on which she was operating in company with the Edgar, Theseus, and Hawke. A torpedo had been fired at her, passing astern without doing any damage. The senior officer promptly ordered all the cruisers to proceed north-west at full speed.

 

At that time the Hawke was not in sight. Earlier in the morning she had been observed steaming to the south-west to examine a steamer, and that proved to be the last that was seen of the ship. At 4.30 that afternoon Admiral de Chair endeavoured to get into touch with the Hawke by wireless, but without result. He immediately reported the ominous silence to the Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet, and the Swift was directed to proceed from Scapa at high speed to search for the Hawke in the position from which she had last been reported. Two divisions of destroyers were afterwards dispatched from Scapa to search for the vessel. On the following day the Swift picked up a raft with an officer and twenty men —

 

LOSS OF THE " HAWKE "

 

the sole survivors of the Hawke, which, it was then learnt, had been sunk by a submarine.

 

Within a short time of the raft being sighted, the Swift herself was attacked by one or more submarines while engaged in her work of rescue, several torpedoes being fired at her. It was only with great difficulty that the Swift, manoeuvring at high speed amid the wreckage, with destroyers screening her, succeeded in rescuing these survivors. In spite of the danger in which he stood. Captain Charles T. Wintour remained on the scene of the disaster until he was satisfied that there was no one else to be picked up.

 

The loss of the Hawke convinced the Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet that these large and old cruisers were being risked unduly by employment without destroyers in the central part of the North Sea. It was decided, therefore, to withdraw the ships to a better strategic position to the northward and eastward of the Shetland Islands, the smaller craft being directed to watch the Fair Island Channel and the Pentland Firth approaches to the North Sea. At the same time it was arranged that the Battle Fleet, when possible, should be kept to the westward of the Orkneys,