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Full text of "An account of the operations of the American Navy in France during the War with Germany"

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An Account 
of the Operations 



0/ ihi 



American Navy In France 

during the 

War With Germany 




Vice Admiral Henry B. Wilson, United States Navy 
Commander, United States Naval Forces In France 



Affect 



FOREWORD 



This brief narrative of the American Naval 
effort in France is dedicated to the officers and 
men — Regular, Reserve and Coast Guard — v^ho 
served under my command in France and in 
French waters, from November 1, 1917, until my 
detachment on January 30, 1919. 

It is to their efficiency, to their untiring zeal 
and keenness for work, and above all to their 
loyalty to their commander, to their duty, and to 
our service, that our success was due ; and it was 
their proudest boast that no soldier or passenger, 
embarked on a troop ship, escorted by American 
vessels, during the above period, was lost 
through the effort of the enemy. 

The remembrance of our service together in 
time of war will be for all time the most 
cherished memory of over forty years of service, 
and I shall always have a heartfelt interest in the 
success of each and every* one of them. 



Jt0{i 




Admiral, U. S. Navy. 
U. S. S. Pennsylvania, 
July 1, 1919. 



584576 





TABI.F OF CONTENTS 




Chapter Title 


Page 


I 


THE COAST OF FRANCE 


11 


II 


METHOD OF OPERATION 


17 


III 


PHASES OF ACTIVITIES 


22 


IV 


CONVOY DOCTRINE AND METHOD 


31 


V 


THE CONVOY SYSTEM— TROOPSHIPS 


45 


VI 


STORESHIP CONVOYS 


58 


VII 


COASTAL CONVOYS 


64 


VIII 


THE SHORE ESTABLISHMENT 


68 


IX 


COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS— TELE- 






GRAPH AND TELEPHONE 


77 


X 


COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS— RADIO 


83 


XI 


SALVAGE OPERATIONS 


95 


XII 


HOSPITAL FACILITIES 


98 


XIII 


THE CAROLA BARRACKS AT BREST 


102 


XIV 


THE WATER AND FUEL-OIL SUPPLY 


no 



AT BREST 

XV ACTIVITIES AT CHERBOURG. ST. 

NAZAIRE, LA PALLICE AND 
ROCHEFORT 113 

XVI ACTIVITIES OF MINE-SWEEPING DIVI- 

SION AND U. S. NAVAL BASE 

LORIENT 1 23 

XVII ENEMY SUBMARINES 132 

XVIII AVIATION 141 

XIX INCIDENTS OF THE NAVAL SERVICE 146 

XX MORE INCIDENTS OF THE NAVAL 

SERVICE 157 

XXI DISTINGUISHED VISITORS 170 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2007 with funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 



http://www.archive.org/details/accountofoperatiOOwilsrich 



Commander R. E. Tod, U.S.N.R.F. 



Lieutenant G. P. Conrad, 

Civil Engineer Corps, U.S.N. 
Lieut. -Commander E. H. Loftin, U.S.N. 
Lieutenant (j.g.) S. M. Cox, U.S.N.R.F. 
Lieutenant (j.g.) H. J. Cooley, U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign H. M. Early. U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign E. F. O'Shea, U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign J. P. Bowles. U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign H. M. Kempton. U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign E. V. Steele, U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign P. F. Good, U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign B. K. Stevens, U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign D. F. Innes, U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign R. F. Warren. U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign R. B. W. Hall, U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign H. B. Hodgdon, U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign J. S. Ferguson, U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign A. C. Smith, U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign T. R. Middleton, U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign F. O. Spier, U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign J. M. Peticolas. U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign F. S. Crooker. U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign W. S. Hickey. U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign D. D. Dodge, U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign D. M. Estes, U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign C. H. Knab, U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign R. H. Stone, U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign G. W. Travor, U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign R. F. Norvell, U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign L. E. Burnwell, U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign G. N. Jacobs. U.S.N.R.F. 
Lieut. -Conmiander M. H. Anderson. U.S.N. 
Lieutenant (j.g.) G. A. Scott. U.S.N.R.F. 
Gunner G. W. Bensing, U.S.N. 
Gunner B. J. Leonard, U.S.N. 



Supervisor and in 
Charge of Harbor 
Improvement 

Assistant 

Force Communications 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Force Radio Officer 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 



Lieutenant J. D. Pennington, U.S.N. 



Lieutenant Churchhill Humphrey. U.S.N.R.F. 



Commander CAROLA 

Barracks and in charge 

of enlisted personnel 

Aid for G)urts and 

Boards 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 



Ueutenant A. H. Haaren. U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign W. O. Harris, U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign C. G. Barr, U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign H. B. Farr, U.S.N.R.F. 
Lieutenant (j.g.) J. A. Carey, 

Supply Corps, U.S.N.R.F. Flag Secretary 
Elnsign J. A. Wheatley, 

Supply Corps, U.S.N.R.F, 
Ensign E. L. Carr. U.S.N.R.F. 
Lieutenant (j.g.) R. C. Robbins, U.S.N.R.F. 



Ensign Joseph Husband, U.S.N.R.F. 
Lieut.-Commander J. L. Rodgers, U.S.N.R.F. 
Lieutenant E. S. Welch, U.S.N.R.F. 
Lieutenant (j.g.) W. W. Eagers. U.S.N. 
Lieutenant (j.g.) Alfred Greenough, U.S.N.R.F. 
Lieutenant (j.g.) W. A. Maguire, 

Chaplain Corps, U.S.N. 
Lieutenant (j.g.) W. B. Ayres, 

Chaplain Corps, U.S.N.R.F. 
Commander Daniel Bacon, U.S.N.R.F. 



Assistant 

Assistant 

Charge Historical 

Section and War 

Records 

Assistant 

Comdg. Shore Patrol 

do 

do 
Supervisor Mail Service 



Chapl 



am 



Chaplain 
Shipping Section 



STAFF REPRESENTATIVES 



Rear Admiral A. T. Long, U.S.N. 
Captain R. H. Jackson, U.S.N. 
Rear Admiral S. S. Robison, U.S.N. 
Rear Admiral N. A. McCully, U.S.N. 
Captain H. H. Hough, U.S.N. 
Captain T. P. Magruder, U.S.N. 
Captain D. F. Boyd, U.S.N. 
Ensign R. M. D. Richardson, U.S.N.R.F. 

Ensign J. W. Percy. U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign R. W. Prout, U.S.N.R.F. 



Paris 

Paris 

Dist. Comdr. Brest 

Dist. Comdr. Rochefort 

Dist. Comdr. Brest 

Dist. Comdr. Lorient 

Dist. C^mdr. Cherbourg 

Representative with 

Army Service of 

Supply, Tours 

Assistant 

Assistant 



The Coast o/, France U 

Chapter I 
THE COAST OF FRANCE 



Seen on a chart of the North Atlantic Ocean, that part of 
France lying west of a line drawn from Havre on the north, 
to Bordeaux on the south — from the mouth of the river 
Seine to the mouth of the river Gironde — juts forth into the' 
sea like the head and forearm, of some gigantic beast, some 
incredibly huge bear. Audierne Bay, Douarnenez Bay, 
and the harbor of Brest form the mouth of this bear. 
It was into this maw, and into certain subsidiary orifices 
north and south, that troops and stores from America were 
poured for France. 

The coast of France borders on three distinct bodies of 
water: the north coast borders on the English Channel; the 
west coast on the Bay of Biscay which is really a part of 

ian 



the 
ice 



by 
ADDENDUM the 

After Captain R. H. Jackson, U. S. N., in- be 

sert "Rear Admiral A. S. Halstead, U. S. N., District the 

Commander Brest." ' e^^ 

ne- 
did 
•of 
ent 
)rts 

YY iivii, iciL^^i in wiiv. vvai, tilt laigc iii^-icasc iii siiippmg 

and in the number of vessels available for escort duty, made 
it advisable to use the Mediterranean ports, the routing of 



Lieutenant J. D. Pennington, U.S.N. 



Lieutenant Churchhill Humphrey, U.S.N.R.F. 

Lieutenant A. H. Haaren. U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign W. O. Harris. U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign C. G. Barr. U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign H. B. Farr, U.S.N.R.F. 
Lieutenant (j.g.) J. A. Carey, 

Supply Corps. U.S.N.R.F. 

Elnsign J. A. Wheatley, 

Supply Corps. U.S.N.R.F. 

Ensign E. L. Carr. U.S.N.R.F. 

Lieutenant (j.g.) R. C. Robbins, U.S.N.R.F. 



Ensign Joseph Husband, U.S.N.R.F. 
Lieut.-Commander J. L. Rodgers, U.S.N.R.F. 
Lieutenant E. S. Welch. U.S.N.R.F. . 

Lieutenant (j.g.) W. W. Eagers, U.S.N^ 

Lieutenant (j.g.) 
Lieutenant (j.g.) 



Commander CAROLA 

Barracks and in charge 

of enlisted personnel 

Aid for Courts and 

Boards 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Flag Secretary 

Assistant 

Assistant 

Charge Historical 

Section and War 

Records 

Assistant 

Comdg. Shore Patrol 

do 

do 



Lieutenant (j.g.) 
Commander Danie 

Rear Admiral A. 
Captain R. H. J 
Rear Admiral S. 
Rear Admiral N. 
Captain H. H. h 
Captain T. P. Mi 
Captain D. F. Bo; 
Ensign R. M. D. 



Ensign J. W. Percy, U.S.N.R.F. 
Ensign R. W. Prout, U.S.N.R.F. 



Assistant 
Assistant 



The Coast pf, France U 

Chapter I 
THE COAST OF FRANCE 



Seen on a chart of the North Atlantic Ocean, that part of 
France lying west of a line drawn from Havre on the north, 
to Bordeaux on the south — from the mouth of the river 
Seine to the mouth of the river Gironde — juts forth into the' 
sea' like the head and forearm, of some gigantic beast, some 
incredibly huge bear. Audierne Bay, Douarnenez Bay, 
and the harbor of Brest form the mouth of this bear. 
It was into this maw, and into certain subsidiary orifices 
north and south, that troops and stores from America were 
poured for France. 

The coast of France borders on three distinct bodies of 
water: the north coast borders on the English Channel; the 
west coast on the Bay of Biscay which is really a part of 
the Atlantic Ocean ; and the south coast on the Mediterranean 
Sea. 

We maintained port offices in the principal ports on the 
English Channel and Bay of Biscay, as well as a port office 
at Marseilles, the principal port of the Mediterranean. 

The ports of the Mediterranean were very little used by 
us during the early days of the war. This was because of the 
fact that in the early part of the war our ships could be 
discharged in the other ports; and, as the intensity of the 
enemy's submarine effort in the Mediterranean increased, 
ships had to travel a longer distance through submarine- 
infested waters to reach Mediterranean ports than they did 
to reach northern ports. Hence, as the inadequate number of 
escorting vessels made it impossible to furnish sufficient 
protection, it became undesirable to use Mediterranean ports 
for our purpose. 

When, later in the war, the large increase in shipping 
and in the number of vessels available for escort duty, made 
it advisable to use the Mediterranean ports, the routing of 



12 The American Navy in France 

ships for these ports Vvafe in the hands of the American admiral 
stationed ai Gibi altar. We were not directly concerned with 
them. 

To obtain access to the ports of the English Channel did 
not require as long a passage through the submarine zone as 
was required to obtain access to the ports of the Mediter- 
ranean, yet, it did necessitate a longer passage through sub- 
marine-infested waters than was necessitated to reach ports 
of the Bay of Biscay. The English Channel, moreover, was 
probably the most dangerous water to be traversed in ap- 
proaching France, by reason of the. great effort made there 
by enemy submarines. Then, too, the best ports on the 
northern coast of France were being utilized to their capacity 
by the British. 

As a result of the above factors, in the beginning of the 
war, ports on the northern coast of France were not much 
used for the discharge of our ships. At a later date, when 
it became necessary to avail ourselves of every possible port, 
we began to use them — principally for the discharge of smaller 
ships carrying coal and other supplies from Great Britain. 

Troops assigned to reach France via the north coast ports, 
that is to say, the English Channel ports, went first to England, 
and were then trans-shipped in fast small vessels from English 
ports to the Channel ports in France. 

With the routing of these ships we had nothing to do. 
The smaller ships passing along the west coast of France, 
and thence to the Channel ports, for discharge, or coming 
from England and along the coast of France, were placed in 
the coastal convoys, and the safety of these convoys until 
they arrived at Brest on the southbound passage or after 
leaving Brest on the northbound passage was in the hands of 
the French. 

Throughout the war the great majority of ships which 
came direct to France, whether carrying troops or cargo, 
went to ports in the Bay of Biscay. These western ports were 
the nearest to America, and although the course to them led 
through dangerous waters, they were not perhaps as dangerous 
as the waters of the English Channel, permitted of greater 



The Coast of France 

variation of routing in approaching them, and were not being 
ustd to any great extent by any other nation. 

The principal ports on the west coast of France are, 
Brest, St. Nazaire, La Pallice, and Bordeaux. 

Brest is the northernmost of these ports. About one 
hundred and forty miles south of Brest lies St. Nazaire. Only 
about one hundred and ten miles to one hundred and twenty 
of these one hundred and forty miles were dangerous, depend- 
ing upon the route taken — the remaining twenty to thirty 
miles lay through the inland w^aters of Quiberon Bay and 
behind protecting shoals. 

Bordeaux, the principal city on the west coast of France, 
lies about sixty miles up the Gironde River. The mouth of 
the Gironde is about two hundred and forty miles south of 
Brest. 

La Pallice is thirty to forty miles north of the entrance 
to the Gironde. 

Brest lies in about the same latitude as St. Johns, New- 
foundland ; while Bordeaux's latitude is about one hundred 
and eighty miles north of Boston's. Nevertheless, the in- 
fluence of the Gulf Stream is such that although Brest and 
Bordeaux never have as hot summers as New York and 
Boston have, yet, their winters are much milder. In Brest, 
for example, there is an abundance of rain, yet it very seldom 
snows. When there is snow it rarely remains on the ground 
for more than twenty-four hours. 

Brest is some one-hundred and fifty miles westward of the 
Gironde River — that much nearer America — and is about 
eighty miles westward of Quiberon Bay, the latter marking 
the entrance to safety for ships approaching St. Nazaire. 
From our viewpoint, as the waters of France were always 
dangerous for ships passing through, the use of Brest by us 
made the above distances clear gain. 

It is to be observed that in selecting ports for the disem- 
barkation of troops the interest of the Army and the Navy 
were somewhat diflferent. The Navy's mission was to get 
troops and stores safely to France, whereas, the Army had to 
give full consideration to the great importance of distances 



14 The American Navy in France 

and means of transportation from the point of discharge to. the 
bases whence great masses of soldiers were to be supplied. 

When the preliminary survey of the coast was made, 
therefore, the Army officials designated Bordeaux and St. 
Nazaire as the great ports of disembarkation. In fact, it was 
at first contemplated by the Army that some two-thirds of all 
the American troops would be landed at Bordeaux. But 
besides the disadvantage that Bordeaux possessed of lying 
one hundred and fifty miles to the eastward of Brest, it lay 
some sixty miles up the River Gironde — the bar at the river's 
mouth made the water so shallow that ships of more than 
twenty five feet draft could not safely be sent there. An addi- 
tional disadvantage is that the current of the river is so strong 
as to make it difficult for large ships to anchor or to swing^ 
with the tide. 

» St. Nazaire is purely an artificial harbor, and only ships 
whose maximum draft did not exceed thirty feet could be 
sent there. In the harbor itself there is very little room — 
basins have been built into which the ships are locked. The 
greatest number of our ships ever accommodated in these 
basins at any one time was about twenty-nine. 

Above St. Nazaire lies Nantes. Here ships with a draft 
of less than twenty-four feet can be sent. 

La Pallice, already mentioned, is a port of very limited 
capacity. It was seldom used as a point of discharge for 
troops except that a few casuals were disembarked there. 
Its primary use was for the discharge of storeships carrying 
certain classes of supplies. 

In the early part of our participation in the war, nearly 
all ships were sent to St. Nazaire. But when the time came 
that a convoy of ships sailed for France consisting of four 
ex-German vessels, the MOUNT VERNON, AGAMEMNON; 
AMERICA and VON STEUBEN, the great size and draft of 
these vessels made it impossible that they should be handled 
at St. Nazaire or Bordeaux. They must, therefore, come to 
Brest. 

Brest is a magnificent harbor, the only natural harbor of 
importance on the west coast of France. At all stages of the 



The Coast of France 

tide it is available for ships of any draft or size. It has several 
entrances, and all entrances can be mined against the enemy, 
and any one entrance can be used in case any of the others 
have been mined by the enemy. The inside harbor can accom- 
modate almost any number of ships. Also, there is less 
current there than there is at either Bordeaux or St. Nazaire 

Notwithstanding the above facts, so little consideration 
had been given to the prospects of using Brest as a port for 
our shipping that upon arrival there of the four large trans- 
ports referred to it was necessary to land the troops by means 
of some fishing boats sent by the Navy to France as mine- 
sweepers. 

This discharge of this convoy made it evident that it was 
necessary to consider Brest as one of the principal ports for 
disembarkation. We had for some time been urging the 
necessity of this being done on account of the fact that it had 
been found impossible to divide convoys. Certain ships of 
some convoys could be received nowhere else than in Brest 
because of their size — when ships of this sort constituted part 
of the convoy it was necessary to bring the whole convoy into 
Brest in order to avoid division. 

The necessity of the use of Brest once demonstrated, the 
Army immediately turned to with a will and undertook the 
development of Brest as a port of disembarkation. 

The money spent on the development of Brest's resources 
was very little when compared to that expended on St. 
Nazaire and Bordeaux. But what was lacking in materiel 
was made up in the spirit and the ability of the personnel. 

Brigadier-General McClure was in command of the Army 
Base at Brest until ordered to a command at the front, when 
he was relieved by Major-General Harries. General Harries 
had had a very extensive experience of a constructive and 
administrative nature in civil life which fitted him splendidly 
for the work of developing the port. In addition, he was a 
gentleman of great tact which endeared him to the French 
and made our own work with the Army in Brest not only 
very pleasant but very successful. 

Major Green, the Army officer in char£:e of the discharee 



16 The American Naiuf in France 

of ships during the development of Brest had been assistant 
to the president of one of our principal railroads and was a 
man of exceptional organizing and administrative ability. 
The second officer in charge of this work, Major O'Neill, had 
formerly been the leading stevedore of the White Star Line 
in Boston. By reason of his training, personality and activity, 
his ability to discharge troops and cargo could not have been 
surpassed. 

It is worth noting that, toward the end of the war, the 
Service of Supply of the Army held a competition between 
the various ports of France in regard to loading and unloading 
ships. Each port was given a previous performance as a 
standard, and the competition lasted a month. It was popu- 
larly known as "The Race to Berlin". When the month was 
tip it was found that Brest led all the other ports. On account 
of limited wharfage it was necessary to discharge many ships 
while lying in the outer harbor, and to do this tugs and 
lighters were needed. Besides the tugs necessary to assist 
in discharge of ships, we needed a considerable number for 
the purpose of moving our destroyers about in the ini>er 
harbor. This procedure was desirable in order that the de- 
stroyers could keep their fires out while in port and could 
devote all their time to the upkeep of their machinery. Such 
tugs, were, also, in demand in order to move fuel-barges and 
water-barges about the harbor and to assist in docking certain 
of the transports. 

Upon our arrival at Brest we found very little of this 
sort available — at first we had to depend upon the limited 
facilities of the French. Two large sea-going tugs, the CON- 
CORD and the BARNEGAT, were sent to us from the 
United States. A third large sea-going tug, the GYPSUM 
QUEEN, was maintained by us in the Gironde River. We 
purchased three self-propelling barges, carrying one hundred 
and sixty tons of coal each. From the French we chartered 
for a short time a small tug, the ILE DE OUESSANT. 

Toward the end of the war a small paddle-wheel steamer, 
the ST. TUDNO, and a small tug, the CRICCIETH, were 
bought from England to help in the work of transporting 
troops. 



Method of Operation 



Chapter II 
METHOD OF OPERATION 



Our method of operation, although in accord with mil- 
itary practice and with the Allies' agreement, could only be 
rendered effective and efficient by complete cooperation be- 
tween the forces concerned. It is a pleasure to bear witness 
to the hearty cooperation existing from the very beginning of 
our participation in the war until active operations ceased 
with the signing of the armistice. This cooperation was not 
one on the surface only, but it was a real unitedness of effort, 
both in respect to material and spirit. The relations between 
the forces of the respective nations, extending from the com- 
manders throughout the entire commissioned and enlisted 
personnel, were at all time of the most friendly nature. There 
were literally no disagreeable incidents, no friction. On the 
contrary, there was always a spirit of give and take, resulting 
in a mutual relation that approached the ideal. 

This happy condition of affairs was largely due to the 
character and ability of the senior officers of the French naval 
service, with whom we were brought in contact. Their 
influence was reflected in all ranks of the French Navy. 

In accordance with agreement, the Senior Allied Naval 
Officer Present commanded all forces operating in any partic- 
ular country or section of a country. Thus, logically, all 
American forces on the west coast of France were under the 
command of the Senior French Naval Officer. For the greater 
part of our service this officer was Vice Admiral Moreau, 
Prefet Maritime of the Second Arrondissement, with head- 
quarters at Brest. 

Directly under V^ice Admiral Moreau was Vice Admiral 
Schwerer, Commandant Superieur of the Divisions of, Brit- 
tany. Under the Prefet Maritime, Vice Admiral Schwerer 
was for all practical purposes in command of the greater 
portion of the French cruising forces on duty in the Bay of 
Biscay. The chief part of these French forces were based on 



18 The American Nan/ in France 

Brest. In addition, there were mine-sweepers, small torpedo- 
boats, and gunboats, know as the "Defense Mobile", and based 
on the two other arrondissements of the west coast of France. 
Their headquarters were at Lorient and Rochefort. 

In the beginning of our operations, when there were only 
a few of our vessels in French waters, they were based on 
Brest, which from the first was the headquarters of the Com- 
mander, United States Naval Forces in France. But, with 
the expansion of our forces and the increase in escort duty 
performed by these vessels, it became necessary to transfer 
some of them to other sections of the coast. 

The practicability of their transfer was to a large extent 
dependent upon the ability to obtain fuel-oil at some port 
other than Brest, and because at first fuel-oil could only be 
obtained at Brest, it was necessary that the first vessels trans- 
ferred should be coal burners. The relative speed and im- 
portance of the convoys reaching the various ports introduced 
another factor for consideration — it was decided that the 
smaller and slower vessels, which, for other reasons, were of 
the least military value, were most suitable for serving the 
convoys entering the Gironde River. The decision was 
rv ached to transfer a number of yachts for basing in the 
L istrict of Rochefort, some seventy miles north of the en- 
tiance to the Gironde River. 

Accordingly, between January 31 and February 19, 1918, 
ttie converted yachts CORSAIR, NOMA, WAKIVA, MAY, 
NOKOMIS and APHRODITE, were sent to Rochefort to 
base. The reasons that these vessels were not sent simultan- 
eously were, first, certain of them were undergoing repairs 
incident to their continuous service since their arrival in 
Europe, and, second, they could not immediately be spared. 

A mine-sweeper division, under the command of Captain 
T. P. Magruder, U. S. Navy, proceeded to Lorient bet veen 
December 13, 1917, and February 5, 1918. This division was 
made up of the converted yacht GUINE\^ERE, and the con- 
verted fishing-vessels McNEAL, CAHILL, ANDERTON, 
BAUMAN, LEWES, COURTNEY, HUBBARD, JAMES, 
HINTON and DOUGLAS. 



Method of Operation ^ 19 

Captain Magruder became senior American naval officer 
in the District of Lorient — under him these vessels were as- 
signed by the French a definite section of the approaches to 
St. Nazaire for the purpose of maintaining the section clear 
of mines. This was extremely important duty. Transports, 
as well as storeships, discharged at St. Nazaire, and the ap- 
proaches to this port could easily be mined ; hence constant 
sweeping was necessary to insure the safety of our ships. 
In addition to his other duties, Captain Magruder was given 
command of a naval district corresponding to the Third 
Arrondissement of the French — this ran from Penmarch to 
the southward of St. Nazaire. The initiative and ability in 
the administration of this district of Captain Magruder, pop- 
ularly known as the "Duke of Morbihan", was of the greatest 
assistance in the carrying on of our work. 

The mine-sweepers — converted fishing vessels — had been 
sent to France with the expectation of their fulfilling a double 
purpose: mine-sweeping and escorting slow convoys along th-e 
west coast of France. But almost immediately upon their 
arrival, it was found that they were not fit for the second part 
of the duty on account of their unseaworthiness. These 
vessels had made the trip from Boston to Brest without mis- 
adventure ; but they had been fortunate in having had almost 
ideal \ eather conditions for most of the distance, for the sea 
in the Bay of Biscay and the English Channel in bad weather 
is of a sort to try even the staunchest of small vessels. One 
of the vessels, the REHOBOTH, foundered off the Island of 
Ushant shortly after her arrival, and, in fact, upon her first 
trip to sea. 

On account of their relative unseaworthiness, therefore, 
these vessels were assigned exclusively to the work, of mine- 
sweeping, rescue work, and salvage work within their district. 
Nevertheless, at times when our forces were taxed to their 
limit during the height of the submarine campaign, these 
vessels did render assistance in escorting ships from Brest to 
the southward ; but weather conditions were always con- 
sidered. 

Captain N. A. McCully, U. S. Navy, reported in France, 
and was assigned to the duty as comniander of the Rochefort 



20 The American Navy in France 

District. This corresponded to the Fourth Arrondissement, 
and extended from where the Lorient District ended to the 
coast of Spain. As in the case of Lorient, we were very 
fortunate in obtaining for this duty an officer who combined 
tact and ability to a high degree. 

Captain H. H. Hough, U. S. Navy, arriving in France, 
was assigned to the command of the Brest District. This 
corresponded to the Second Arrondissement of France, ran 
from Cape Brehat southward to Penmarch Point, and was the 
district of our greatest activity. 

Commander David Boyd, U. S. Navy, was assigned to 
command the Cherbourg District. This district corresponded 
to the First Arrondissement. It reached from Cape Antifer 
to the boundary of the Brest District. The growth of this 
district was really only beginning towards the end of the war, 
and its success was really due to the energy and ability of 
Captain Boyd. We could give little aid in the way of ships 
to him, and had to rely on his ability to stretch his slender 
resources to the utmost. 

At various times, naval port officers were assigned to 
certain ports — to Brest, Havre, Cherbourgh, Rouen, St. Malo, 
Granville, St. Nazaire, Nantes, Quiberon Bay, Sables d'Olonne, 
Bordeaux, La Pallice, Rochefort, Royan, Verdon, Paulliac, 
and St. Jean de Luz. 

The port officers were under the immediate command of 
the District Commanders, and were the naval representatives 
in the various ports. Their duty was to advise the Army 
officials as well as the masters of ships on all points where 
the advice of a naval officer conversant with the sea and with 
the coast of France might be useful ; to keep the Commander, 
U. S. Naval Forces in France informed of the approximate 
dates when ships would be ready for sea— this so that they 
could be fitted into convoys ; to assist in the quick turn-around 
of vessels ; to care for the administration of discipline aboard 
naval ships ; and, in general, to assist in every way in the 
efficient handling of ships that entered their respective ports. 
With the sailing of convoys at regular intervals a gain of a 
day in discharging a ship might easily avoid a loss of eight 
days in her departure for the United States. 



Method of Operation 21 

Soon after our arrival on the coast, it was decided by the 
Commander, U. S. Naval Forces in France, and by the French 
naval authorities that the former should assume the respon- 
sibility for the escorting and the routing of ships that carried 
American troops to and from the coast of France. This 
decision did not apply to the French liners which carried a 
comparatively small number of troops to and from Bordeaux. 

At first, the agreed-upon procedure was somewhat mod- 
ified by the fact that the American destroyers basing on 
Queenstown escorted nearly all troopship groups to the pilot 
waters of the French coast. Here they were taken over by 
the American forces basing on Brest, which then assumed the 
responsibility for guiding them to port. 

All special westbound convoys of troopships and fast 
American storeships were escorted and routed by the Com- 
mander, U. S. Naval Forces in France. 

The agreement between the French and the British gave 
to the French the responsibility for the safe escorting of store- 
ships to the west coast of France — this procedure was not 
modified by our entry into the war. Upon our arrival, the 
orders for these convoys were issued by the French, and we 
assigned vessels to cooperate with the French and to operate 
under their command. 

As time passed, the number of the storeships and the 
number of convoys containing them were vastly increased ; so, 
also, was the number of our vessels available for escort duty 
increased. Although, logically, the responsibility for escorting 
these convoys still remained with the French, yet, it is a testi- 
monial to their desire to cooperate that they gradually trans- 
ferred to us the practical control over the convoys. 

Copies of all operation orders or convoy orders issued by 
the Commander, U. S. Naval Forces in France were sent to 
the French authorities sufficiently long before the orders went 
into effect to allow the French to offer such criticisms or sug- 
gestions as they might have. In the same way, copies of 
orders affecting American shipping that were issued by the 
French were furnished the Comrnander, U. S. Naval Forces in 
France. At all times the French were glad to receive and 
to consider any suggestion from us. 



22 The Anirricati Navif in France 



Chapter III 
PHASES OF ACTIVITIES 



American Naval activity on the Atlantic Coast of France 
naturally divides itself into two parts. The first phase covers 
the period when the American forces were operating under the 
command of Rear Admiral W. B. Fletcher, from his arrival 
on July 4, 1917, to his detachment on October 20, 1917. The 
second phase comprehends the time when our forces were 
under the command of Rear Admiral (afterward Vice Admiral 
and now Admiral) Henry B. Wilson, U. S. Navy, from his 
arrival on November 1, 1917,*until his detachment on January 
30, 1919. During the brief interval between the detachment 
of Rear Admiral Fletcher and the assuming of command by 
Admiral Wilson, our forces were commanded by Captain 
T. P. Magruder. 

Our operations might, also, well be classified as belonging 
to the period when the American forces consisted of auxiliary 
craft such as yachts and mine-sweepers, and the period when 
the forces \\ ere augmented by destroyers. 

The l)eginning of the latter period was almost coincident 
with the assumption of command by Admiral Wilson — he 
was insistent that the American forces on the coast of France 
were utterly inadequate to perform the task assigned to them. 
It V. as presumably in consequence of his demand that the 
forces were increased by the arrival of destroyers. However, 
these did not reach France in one group. The first to come 
were five coal-burning destroyers that joined shortly before 
the arrival of Admiral Wilson. An account of the arrival of 
these destroyers will be given in detail elsewhere. 

At the time of our entry into the war, the enemy sub- 
marine campaign was becoming an extremely serious menace 
to the Allied cause — as a consequence, there was great need 
for anti-submarine craft,- particularly for employment in the 
waters contiguous to the British Isles where the maximum 
f^flFort was being directed. 



PhasC'S of Acfiritivs 23 

The first unit of American destroyers sailed for Queens- 
town, Ireland, in April, 1917, and this force was gradually 
• increased until about thirty destroyers were based on Queens- 
town. 

The submarines were not idle in the Bay of Biscay, and 
the necessity the French were under of keeping the greater 
part of their naval forces in the Mediterranean left them de- 
cidedly weak in vessels suitable for assuming an offensive 
against the submarines and for protecting shipping off the 
west coast of France. Our Navy Department decided to send 
such American forces as were available to base on the west 
coast of France and to operate in French waters. AH avail- 
able destroyers having already been sent to Ireland, it was 
necessary to improvise craft for French duty — the only vessels 
available were various yachts taken over at the outbreak of 
hostilities and converted into armed auxiliaries. 

These yachts differed materially from each other in size, 
seagoing qualities and speed. They varied from the COR- 
SAIR, a large seagoing yacht capable of perhaps eighteen 
knots, to the CRISTOBAL, a small yacht which could make 
eight and one- half knots but which could not well keep the 
sea for off-shore work. 

The CORSAIR, Lieutenant Commander T. A. Kittinger, 
U. S. Navy, sailed from the United States with a convoy on 
June 14, 1917, but was compelled to drop back. However, in 
company with the APHRODITE, another large yacht, Lieu- 
tenant Commander R. P. Craft, U. S. Navy, she joined the 
second group of the troop convoy and arrived at St. Nazaire 
on June 27, 1917. Thence she proceeded to Brest, arriving 
July 2, 1917. 

A division of yachts of various sizes and speeds was or- 
ganized under the command of Rear Admiral W. B. Fletcher, 
U. S. Navy, who had been designated Commander of the 
U. S. Naval Forces on the French Coast. This division in- 
cluded the NOMA, Lieutenant Commander L. R. Leahy, U. S. 
Navy, the SULTANA, Lieutenant Commander E. G. Allen, 
U. S. Navy, the VEDETTE, Lieutenant Commander C. L. 
Hand, U. S. Navy, the HARVARD, Lieutenant Commander 
A. G. Stirling, U. S. Navy, the CHRISTOBAL, Lieutenant 



24 The American Navy in France 

Commander H. B. Riebe, U. S. Navy, and the KANAWHA 
(afterwards named PIOUA) Lieutenant Commander H. D. 
Cooke, U. S. Navy. It sailed from the United States on 
June 9, 1917, and arrived July 4, 1917. 

Commander F. N. Freeman, U. S. Navy was given the 
command of an additional division, consisting chiefly of 
smaller vessels — the ALCEDO, Lieutenant Commander W. 
T. Conn, U. S. Navy, REMLIK, Lieutenant Commander I. C. 
Johnson, U. S. Navy, WANDERER, Lieutenant Commander 
P. L. Wilson, U. S. Navy, GUINEVERE, Lieutenant Com- 
mander Guy Davis, U. S. Navy, CORONA, Lieutenant Com- 
mander L. M. Stevens, U. S. Navy, CAROLA, Lieutenant 
Commander H. R. Kelley, U. S. Navy, and EMELINE, Lieu- 
tenant Commander R. C. Williams, U. S. Navy. These ves- 
sels sailed from New York between July 28, 1917, and August 
5, 1917, assembled at St. Johns, Newfoundland, and thence 
proceeded to Ponta Delgada in the Azores. The division ar- 
rived at Brest August 29th and 30th, 1917. 

By this time the necessity for mine-sweepers had become 
apparent. The yacht WAKIVA, Lieutenant Commander 
T. R. Kurtz, U. S. Navy, the steam-fishing vessels fitted for 
mine-sweeping, the ANDERTON, Boatswain H. Muller, U. S. 
Navy, CAHILL. Lieutenant A. E. Wills, U. S. Navy, REHO- 
Bof H. McNEAL, Lieutenant C. N. Hinkamp, U. S. Navy, 
LEWES, JAMES, DOUGLAS, BAUMAN, COURTNEY, 
and HINTON, Lieutenant A. McGlasson, U. S. Navy, the 
supply-ship BATH, and five French submarine chasers were 
organized into a division. Under the command of Captain 
T. P. Magruder, this division sailed from Provincetown in 
August, 1917. Proceeding by way of Ponto Delgada, these 
forces reached Brest on September 22, 1917. During the fol- 
lowing year they were reinforced by the seagoing yachts 
NOKOMIS, Commander D. Boyd, U. S. Navy, and MAY, 
Commander F. T. Evans, by the smaller yacht, RAMBLER, 
Lieutenant E. G. Rose, Coast Guard, and by the mine- 
sweeper, HUBBARD. 

A full account of the acquisition, fitting out, manning and 
service of these yachts would form one of the most interesting 



Phases of Activities 25 

portions of the history of the war. The story can only be 
outlined here. 

They were acquired by the Navy in various ways. Some 
were rented to the Government by patriotic owners at the 
purely nominal price of one dollar a year. Others were pur- 
chased. In a very few instances, their original owners re- 
fused to consent to their release, and it became necessary for 
the Government to requisition the vessels without their 
owners' consent. 

The crews of the first yachts acquired included men from 
more different walks of life than probably were ever assembled 
on a man-of-war. The majority of them had had little sea- 
going experience or none at all. For the most part they were 
composed of Naval Militiamen, Reserves and Volunteers, 
many of whom were young college men, former regulars now 
returned to the service to seize this certaih opportunity for 
active service abroad, and regulars. The captain of each 
vessel was a Lieutenant or a Lieutenant Commander of the 
Regular Navy. The other officers were former officers of the 
Navy, Naval Militiamen, ex-merchant officers, and in many 
instances, young men out of college or business who had had 
some experience in yachting but who often had absolutely no 
seagoing experience. 

There can be no higher evidence of the patriotism of the 
young American and of his ability to adapt himself to new 
conditions than is afforded by the rapidity with which these 
vessels were shaken down and, within their capabilities, be- 
came efficient men-of-war. 

In many ways, the service of these vessels on the coast of 
France may be considered the most difficult of any performed 
by vessels operating in the war. Nearly all of them were 
lightly- built, intended for fair weather cruising only, and de- 
signed more for comfort than for seagoing qualities. Never- 
theless, from the time of their arrival in France until the time 
of the armistice, they were worked without rest, and it was 
very seldom that any of them were not ready for any service 
required, whether of a routine or of an extraordinary nature. 

The young men w^ho enlisted for active service on board 



26 The American Navy in France 

these ships were willing to take almost any rating and to 
serve in any capacity. Successful business men and college 
undergraduates could be found passing coal,, acting as mess 
attendants, and performing all the least desirable duties on 
board the ships they served on. Fortunately, the great ex- 
pansion of the Navy made it possible to promote almost all of 
these men and to commission them as officers prior to the 
cessation of hostilities. 

It was these yachts, together with the French vessels, 
that bore the burden on the west coast of France during the 
first months after our entry into the war. 

During the early days of the war a division of destroyers 
was formed consisting of the REID, FLUSSER, PRESTON, 
LAMSON, and SMITH, together with the tender PAN- 
THER. This division based on the Azores and consisted of 
vessels of the oldest division of comparatively modern de- 
stroyers. These vessels had been operating against isolated 
submarines working in southern waters. Not much success 
had been won, and it was decided to utilize them off the coast 
of France, where they arrived October 20, 1917. 

The MONOGHAN, Lieutenant Commander J. F. Cox, 
U. S. Navy, and the ROE, Lieutenant Commander G. C. 
Barnes, U. S. Navy, escorted the U. S. S. SAN DIEGO and 
two transports from America to the coast of France. They 
reached Quiberon Bay on November 20, 1917, and thence pro- 
ceeded to Brest. It is interesting to note that they came with 
nothing but the most general charts of the French coast, so 
that when they were told to use the Raz de Sein passage to 
Brest, they were unable to find it on their charts — as a matter 
of fact, they first put into a bay south of Brest in their en- 
deavor to discover the entrance to the harbor. Nevertheless, 
as was always the way with our destroyers, they duly arrived 
ready for duty. 

Each day made more and more evident the necessity for 
increasing the American Naval Forces in French waters. 
While no definite policy was announced, yet it was under- 
stood that such increase would be brought about by the arrival 
from time to time of destroyers from Queenstown. The 



Phases of Activities 27 

rapidity of this increase was, of course, dependent ultimately 
upon the arrival of new destroyers from America. 

The next vessel to join, therefore, was the WARRING- 
TON, Lieutenant Commander W. W. Kenyon, U. S. Navy. 
She reached Brest from Queenstown on December 5, 1917. 
Also there came the old small destroyers WHIPPLE, Lieu- 
tenant Commander H. J. Abbett, U. S. Navy, TRUXTON, 
Lieutenant Commander J. G. W^are, U. S. Navy, STEWART, 
Lieutenant Commander H. S. Haislip, U. S. Navy, WORDEN, 
Lieutenant Commander J. M. B. Smith, U. S. Navy. 

The ISABEL, Lieutenant Commander H. E. Shoemaker, 
U. S. Navy, a converted oil-burning, turbine-driven yacht of 
high speed, arrived on February 20, 1918, convoying the 
destroyer McDONOUGH. The McDONOUGH was one of 
the oldest destroyers of our Navy, built long before the war — 
with very small steaming radius. Three days out from Brest 
she had to be taken in tow by the ISABEL. The ISABEL, 
however, could make only three knots speed towing, and 
found she would not have enough fuel to make port unaided. 
Ships were, therefore, sent out from Brest and the Mc- 
DONOUGH was towed to port by them, the ISABEL coming 
in under her own power. 

During the first period of the ISABEL'S employment in 
France she was classed as a destroyer on account of her 
speed, but after being badly battered while on duty with a 
fast convoy in heavy weather, she was restricted to duty with 
convoys whose speed did not exceed thirteen knots. 

The first of the modern destroyers to join us was the 
NICHOLSON, Lieutenant Commander J. C. Fremont, U. S. 
Navy, which had been operating out of Queenstown for some 
time. With the arrival of this vessel, a new period in the 
operations may be considered to have commenced. Prior 
to this time, the burden of escort duty had been carried by 
five of the larger yachts and eight of the oldest modern 
destroyers. To these were sometimes added three of the 
other yachts, but two of these — the NOMA and PIQUA— 
were of extremely light construction and the third — the 
HARVARD — could make onlv about eleven knots. It had 



28 The American Navy in France 

been necessary to work these vessels almost without rest and 
under the most disadvantageous conditions. 

Until the arrival of the PANTHER, Commander A. M. 
Procter, U. S. Navy, it had been almost impossible to make 
effective and expeditious repairs. The personnel of the 
French navy yard had been so depleted by the demands of 
war, that work, although well done, was subject to great 
delay. The service of the yard had been given over, almost, 
to munition making — a large percentage of the workers em- 
ployed were women. 

Our destroyers were worked far beyond the point where, 
during peace times, it had been thought possible to work them 
and yet keep them in running condition. The officers 
charged with the material upkeep of these destroyers frequent- 
ly told us that it would be impossible to keep them running 
at the rate they were then doing. Nevertheless, thanks to the 
unremitting and efficient efforts of their personnel, they were 
all in splendid operating condition even after eight months 
of this kind of work. When additional vessels reached us 
later in the war it became possible to ease up somewhat on the 
other vessels. But the end of the war, November, 1918, found 
them still doing the work they had started out to do. It is 
only just that credit be given these first five destroyer com- 
manders on the coast of France: REID, Commander C. C. 
Slayton; SMITH, Commander J. F. Klein; PRESTON, Lieu- 
tenant Commander C. W. Magruder; FLUSSER, Lieutenant 
Commander R. G. Walling; LAMSON, Lieutenant Com- 
mander W. R. Purnell. 

The record of the service of these vessels on the coast of 
France furnishes one of the finest tributes to the history of 
our Navy, to the soundness of their construction and to the 
ability of the personnel under trying conditions. Until about 
the first of June, 1918, when the original lot of destroyer 
captains was detached and ordered to the United States to 
fit out new vessels, no American destroyer sent out from 
France had ever missed contact with a convoy; no destroyer 
despatched with a mission had ever returned to port before 
the completion of her duty, and furthermore, during this 
period, after the torpedoing of the FINLAND, on October 28, 



Phases of Activities 29 

1917, no vessel en route from America to France or from 
France to America, when escorted by American vessels based 
on France, had ever been torpedoed or successfully attacked 
on the high seas. 

The JARV^IS, Lieutenant Commander R. C. Parker, and 
the DRAYTON, Lieutenant Commander G. N. Barker, two 
of the 740 ton oil-burning destroyers, joined our force on 
February 15, 1918. Then came the WADSWORTH, Lieu- 
tenant Commander C. E. Smith, (Commanding Officers of the 
NICHOLSON and WADSWORTH were exchanged in order 
that the division commander would be on the vessel of longest 
steaming radius) one of the Navy's best 1,000 ton destroyers 
— March 4, 1918. These three vessels had previously operat- 
ed out of Queenstown. 

On June 1. 1918, a message was received from the Force 
Commander stating that it was proposed to assign nine to 
twelve additional destroyers to the French coast as soon as 
we were ready to maintain them and were ready to take over 
the escort of all groups of troopships making the coast of 
France. We were asked how soon we would be prepared. 

The facilities for fueling these vessels were in process 
of development, but were still rather meagre. Our only fuel- 
oil tanks were at Brest and were those we had found there 
upon our arrival, their capacity being about 6,800 tons. How- 
ever, the Commander, U. S. Naval Forces in France had 
from the first urged that more destroyers be based on France, 
and that the duty of escorting troopships to and from the 
coast be undertaken in France. An analysis of the situation 
showed that by careful management and by anticipating the 
fuel requirements, we would take care of the additional de- 
stroyers. Accordingly, a reply was immediately made to the 
Force Commander that we were ready to maintain these 
vessels at once and were ready to take over the escorting of 
all troop convoys. 

As a result of these communications, the following de- 
stroyers joined our force — the last three being delayed because 
they were being over-hauled in England : on June 8, 1918, the 
SIGOURNEY. Commander W. N. Vernou ; WAIN- 



30 The American Navy in France 

WRIGHT, Commander R. M. Dawes; and FANNING, 
Lieutenant Commander F. Cogswell ; on June 9, 1918, the 
TUCKER, Lieutenant Commander W. H. Lassing; WINS- 
LOW, Lieutenant Commander F. W. Rockwell ; and PORT- 
ER, Lieutenant Commander A. A. Corwin ; on June 11, the 
O'BRIEN, Commander M. K. Metcalf; CUMMINGS, Lieu- 
tenant Commander O. Bartlett; BENHAM, Lieutenant Com- 
mander F. J. Fletcher; GUSHING, Commander W. D. 
Puleston ; on June 12th , the BURROWS, Lieutenant Com- 
mander A. Stackel; on June 15th, the ERICSSON, Lieutenant 
Commander R. R. Stewart; on July 23, the McDOUGAL, 
Lieutenant Commander V. K. Coman. 

The above-named vessels, and those previously men- 
tioned, constituted the force that carried the burden of the 
operations in the Bay of Biscay during the greater period of 
our activities on that coast. 

Our forces were later augmented by the accession of new 
destroyers : on June 12, 1918, the LITTLE, Captain J. K. 
Taussig, and the CONNER, Captain A. G. Howe; on Sep- 
tember 20, the TAYLOR, .Commander C. T. Hutchins ; on 
October 3, the STRINGHAM, Commander N. E. Nichols; on 
October 15, the BELL, Lieutenant Commander D. L. 
Howard ; on October 20, the MURRAY, Lieutenant Com- 
mander R. G. Walling, and on October 30, the FAIRFAX, 
Lieutenant Commander G. C. Barnes. 

The latter group of destroyers was sent to France as a 
part of the vessels newly-constructed and destined for our 
forces in French waters. It was understood that the Navy 
Department had decided not to augment the force based on 
Queenstown, but that all additional destroyers would be sent 
to Brest and to Gibraltar. Additional destroyers had become 
needed at Gibraltar because the Army authorities had begun 
to route ships by way of the Mediterranean. 

But, as is well known, the destroyer construction pro- 
gram was much delayed. A further delay in the despatch of 
completed destroyers to European waters took place on ac- 
count of the commencement of enemy submarine activities 
on the coast of America. 



Convoy Doctrine and Method 31 



Chapter IV 
CONVOY DOCTRINE AND METHOD 



In order that the officers directly responsible for the 
formation of convoys and their escorts might have well 
established principles to work by, and to reconcile differing 
requirements of various phases of their duty in regard to the 
assignment of vessels for escort duty, the commander of our 
forces in France established the doctrirre for determining the 
relative protection to be given. 

The doctrine covered four points. The first point was 
the necessity of bringing troops to France safely. This, the 
Commander considered of supreme importance — not only 
because troops were most necessary for the conduct of the 
war, but, also, because just as long as we could bring our 
troops in without loss, just so long would our morale both at 
home and among the troops of the American Expeditionary 
Force be maintained at a high level, and, as time went on, the 
morale of the enemy would be correspondingly lowered. 
The second point of the doctrine was the bringing of loaded 
storeships safely to the coast of France. The third point was 
the escorting of empty troopships to the westward. The 
fourth point was the escorting of empty storeships to the 
westward. 

In routing storeships to and from the coast of Europe, 
the general policy was to start them at regular intervals, 
usually every four or eight days. 

By this method, the escorts took out their westward- 
bound or southward-bound convoys at regular intervals, and 
escorted them clear of the submarine zone. They then joined 
the incoming storeship convoys and escorted them to port. 

Information was sent by the Admiralty to all their 
District Commanders charged with escort duty and to our- 
selves. Notice was given as to the expected time of arrival 
of British convoys at various positions known as the destroyer 



32 The American Nav^f in Fnniri 

rendezvous, as to the position at which the escort would 
join, and as to the course before arriving at the rendezvous. 
For the different convoys different speeds had been establish- 
ed, so that by means of the information received, all convoys 
crossing each other's paths could be routed clear. 

Convoys were open to all Allied and to neutral shipping, 
and as a result were not capable of greater speed. Usually, 
they ran from six to nine knots, their rate of progress being 
dependent upon the speed of the slower ships. The slower 
convoys were affected by weather conditions, etc. 

Adequate protection being required and the number of 
escort vessels being fimited, it was necessary to place vessels 
capable of making a considerable speed in convoys with 
slower vessels. The result was that the former vessels had to 
accommodate their speed to the latter. Although unavoid- 
able, this procedure had material disadvantages. It made 
the convoys large and more unwiedly than they would other- 
w ise have been — hence, it both delayed the turn-around of 
snips and exposed the convoys to more severe submarine 
attacks. The submarines had an increased relative speed in 
overhauling convoys ; attained more easily a favorable position 
for attack, and carried out the attack itself with greater free- 
dom. 

As the number of ships available for carrying troops was 
much less than the number available for carrying stores, and 
as the necessity for avoidance of disaster to troops was of 
primary importance, our troopships were not only made up in 
separate convoys or groups, but effort was made to form the 
groups in such fashion that the speed of individual ships 
would have to be decreased as little as possible. When the 
organization of our troopship groups was under consideration 
it had been decided that no ships of less than twelve knots 
should be admitted to these groups. This decision was con- 
sistently adhered to. The normal speed of troopship groups 
I ran about twelve, fourteen, sixteen, eighteen and twenty knots. 

In order not to delay convoys unnecessarily, and so de- 
lay the landing of troops in France, it was freqviently necessary 
^1^ increase or decrease by two to four knots, the speed of 



Convoy Doctrine and Method 33 

certain ships in these convoys. This was true to a certain 
extent of the westward-bound sailing, also, but every effort 
was made to avoid such action. As a matter of fact, we tried 
to establish the principle that the speed of a westward-bound 
ship should never be reduced more than two knots for the 
sake of its accompanying slower ships. 

The effort to hold to the above principle much increased 
the work of those concerned in handling it. As elsewhere 
referred to, upon one occasion five separate convoys were 
routed westward from the coast of France in an effort to 
avoid the necessity of decreasing the speed of individual ships. 
On this particular occasion, three of these groups sailed from 
Brest at different times during the same day. This seems 
worthy of mention as an indication of the amount of effort 
exerted in order that ships might have every possible chance 
to escape submarine attack. ! 

If we had determined that our westward sailings should 
be made at regular intervals, it would frequently have happen- 
ed that ships would have just missed the convoy, and would 
have been held unnecessarily in port after their cargo had 
been discharged.' Therefore, convoys were held open until 
the last possible minute, that is, they did not leave port until 
the last time consistent with their escort having time to join 
the east-bound convoy after leaving the west-bound, in order 
that every ship which was ready and could make sufficient 
speed might be included. 

To carry out this plan, two things were necessary; first, 
information received well in advance as to the expected time 
of arrival of east-bound groups ; second, close cooperation 
with the Army in order that as many ships as possible might 
continue to be made ready up to the last moment. This 
moment was that beyond which it was impossible to hold the 
escorting vessels and still to give them time to join the in- 
coming convoy or groups. 

On the other hand, it was necessary to safe-guard the 
advance information received as to the prospective time of 
sailing and of arrival of troopships. The orders ot the Com- 
mander of our forces in France were very explicit on ih\s f 



34 The American Navy in France 

subject. Such information was always limited to as few 
persons as possible. 

As affairs progressed, information as to the probable de- 
parture of troop convoys from America was given as long a 
time in advance as possible — during the latter part of the 
war we would get information as to tentative east-bound sail- 
ings for a month in advance. This information, although 
vaMcd somewhat from time to time, was of great value and 
er bled us to plan our work to better advantage than before. 

t was, of course, necessary to avoid any possible leak to 
t\< enemy in regard to the details of troopship movements, as 
w^|l as in regard to the general policy followed. 

The destroyer rendezvous for these groups were not 
b^N^ed on the chart of the British Admiralty but were a 
st()arate and distinct system. 

A certain meridian of longitude was established well to 
he westward of the place where any submarine activity could 
l)e expected on the part of the submarines of other than the 
cruiser type — the submarine-cruiser phase of activity serious- 
ly developed only during the latter part of the war. The 
meridian established was known as the standard meridian. 
All eastward-bound troop groups were directed to cross the 
standard meridian at a certain hour on a certain day and, after 
crossing the meridian, to maintain a pre-determined speed 
and to steer for a pre-determined point oflF or on the coast 
of France until met by the escort. 

These rendezvous and these courses were capable of an 
infinite variation by the office determining them. But when 
once determined and given to the troop commander, they had 
to be closely adhered to. 

A cruiser, known as the ocean escort, accompanied the 
group until it was met by the destroyer escort. If, due to 
weather conditions, there was any appreciable delay in cross- 
ing the standard meridian, the cruiser was directed to report 
the facts, informing the Force Commander in London and the 
Commander, U. S. Naval Forces in France as to the number 
of hours the group was late in crossing the standard meridian. 

The transmittar of this information was an excellent pro- 



Convoy Doctrine and Method 35 

cedure. Unfortunately, in a number of instances we received 
the information after our escort had sailed. Upon such an 
occasion the escort would remain at sea for a longer period 
than we had planned for her to remain, and this meant a 
reduction to a dangerous extent in the fuel supply. In fact, 
in some instances, the shortage of fuel forced some vessels 
of the escort to return to port. When this happened, we were 
hard put to it to replace them in time to be of service to the 
incoming convoy. 

The method of handling the escort and the convoy may 
best be shown by taking a typical case. 

Let us assunle that a group of twelve troopships has 
arrived on the coast of France. Eight of these ships have 
been safely escorted to Brest and four to St. Nazaire. From 
information in our possession, an escort will be required to 
sail to join another group in two days, and still another in 
four days. 

As soon as information is received as to the prospective 
arrival of these ships, full information in regard to the names 
of the ships and in regard to the troop-content and cargo- 
content of each ship would be telegraphed in code to the Flag 
representative with the Army Service of Supply at Tours. 
After decoding by the Flag representative, the message would 
then be given to the Army officer charged with making 
arrangements for the discharge of the troops and cargo. This 
officer would then go over the despatch and would decide to 
what ports the Army wished the various ships in the group 
to be sent. 

It would be at once easy to determine that certain ships 
of a convoy, on account of their length and draft must go to 
Brest because they could only be handled there. Then the 
amount of shipping already at the various ports would be 
considered, as affecting the speed with which additional vessels 
could be handled. The ships would be divided between the 
ports available for the discharge of troops, between Brest, 
St. Nazaire and Bordeaux. No doubt, also, the Army would 
have to consider the matter of train service in the various 
ports. 



36 The American Navy in France 

The distribution of ships desired by the Army would be 
given to the Navy's representative in Tours and he would 
wire it to Naval Headquarters at Brest. 

It should be noted that, in order to avoid as far as possible 
any leak of information, no data as to the time of the prospec- 
tive arrival of ships would be contained in the message sent 
by the Navy to Tours. The information furnished would 
be sent well in advance, if possible, as much as a week before 
the ships were due to arrive. In addition to the employment 
of a code, the names of the ships would be further safeguarded 
by assigning each one of them an arbitrary name which meant 
nothing; for example, the name of one ship would be Wheat, 
of another. Alcohol. 

Upon receipt of the information from Tours, as to where 
the Army desired ships to be sent, the proposed disposition 
would be carefully scrutinized in order to make sure that no 
ships had been assigned to ports not safe or advisable for them 
to enter on account of length or draft. Next would be con- 
sidered the feasibility of dividing the convoy between two 
or more ports. 

Decision in the last-named point depended upon the num- 
ber of escort vessels available. One large group could be 
protected by a smaller number of destroyers than would be 
sufficient if the group were divided into two or three groups. 
With our inadequate number of available destroyers, this was 
a most important consideration. As a matter of fact, during 
the greater part of the war it was impossible to divide groups. 
While this condition was disadvantageous, yet, as soon as the 
matter was made clear to the Army they accepted the situation 
and did all they could to cooperate with us along the lines 
we found necessary in this respect. 

Postponing, for the moment, consideration of our typical 
case; it may be borne in mind that Brest became the logical 
port of disembarkation for the majority of the troops notwith- 
standing the fact — as elsewhere mentioned — that plans to 
utilize Brest had not been made early in the war. This port 
developed tremendously and while it lacked certain natural 
advantages for disembarking troops, yet, the Army personnel 



Convoy Doctrine and Method 2^7 

charged with this matter became so very expert that it is 
doubtful if any appreciable delays resulted from the port's 
shortage of facilities. 

At one time, during the latter part of the war, a group of 
twelve troopships was due to arrive on the coast of Prance, 
and it happened that we could spare the escort to protect the 
group if it should be divided. But, by that time, the Army 
organization had so perfected the disembarkation arrange- 
ments at Brest, that the, Army requested that all twelve of the 
ships should be brought there. 

This was made possible by the splendid spirit that pre- 
vailed in the Army personnel at Brest. Whenever we told 
them we had informed Army Headquarters at Tours that we 
could divide a group of vessels, the Brest contingent of the 
Army would protest strenuously, and, goodnaturedly, insist- 
ing that they wanted more work to do. One big Irish steve- 
dore was fond of saying: "There is no Army and Navy at 
Brest. It's all one gang!" 

Resuming our consideration of the typical case: our 
Admiral at Brest would by this time have received information 
as to the time the group would cross the standard meridian, 
the course it would steer after crossing the standard meridian, 
the speed it would make thereafter, the number and names 
of the ships in the group. 

About two days before the arrival of the group, the Dis- 
trict Commander at Lorient would be informed by a special 
code, of which there were only two copies in existence, one 
in the office of the Commander, U. S. Naval Forces in France, 
and one in the office of the District Commander at Lorient, 
as to the ships consigned to St. Nazaire. The prospective 
time of arrival off Quiberon Bay would be given in order that 
the port officer at St. Nazaire might make the necessary 
arrangements with the Army for the discharge of troops and 
cargo. About the same time, the French Vice Admiral at 
Brest would be given proper information. 

Of the eight ships which would come to Brest certain 
ones could always be discharged and made ready for the west- 
ern passage more quickly that the others. Some would re- 



38 The American Navy in France 

quire coal, or coal and water for the return voyage, while 
others would not require such supplies. Some ships would 
carry much more cargo that others would. Of those carrying 
cargo, some could be discharged much more quickly than 
others could on account of the method of stowage. Some 
ships would require a large amount of ballast, some a smaller 
amount and some none at all. If ballasting were required it 
would be a rather slow operation. 

Not long before the arrival of the group, an officer from 
o*ur Operations office would go to the American District Com- 
mander at Brest who was responsible for the refueling and the 
berthing of ships. A conference would be held as to the prob- 
able requirements in the way of fuel and water for the incom- 
ing ships. It would be decided, from a purely naval viewpoint, 
which ships could be "turned-around" in two days and in 
four days, (as a longer interval that this seldom elapsed be- 
tween sailings of convoys), which would be available before 
the next sailing of a convoy, and which could not be turned 
around until a date still later. 

With this information, the officer from the Operations 
office would then go to the officer of the Army Service of 
Supply who was charged with the actual discharge of troops 
and cargo. The Army officer would be given the names of 
the ships in the group expected — he would already have re- 
ceived from his headquarters at Tours the list of troops and 
a manifest of the cargo on each ship. From experience, he 
would be familiar with the difficulties to be overcome in the 
course of discharging the ships. 

After looking over the lists pertaining to the prospective 
arrivals, the Operations office officer would ask the Army 
officer what ships could be ready in two and what in four days. 
At the same time he would furnish the Service of Supply 
representative the Navy's estimate received from Naval 
Headquarters as to the time that would be required to prepare 
the ships for the return passage. Decision would then be 
made as to ships on which to concentrate efforts and as to 
where the ships would be berthed in order best to effect such 
concentration of effort. 



Convoy Doctrine and Method 39 

When the officer from the Operations office would return 
to the Admiral, he would know which ships would be con- 
centrated on and where they would be berthed, which ships 
could be expected to be ready in one day, in two days and in 
four days, and the probable time when the remaining ships 
would be ready to sail for the United States. 

In regard to the sailing of ships, an extremely strong, but 
friendly rivalry existed between the Army and Navy. The 
Army would endeavor to get ships discharged and ready for 
the western voyage before the Navy would be prepared to 
handle them. On its side, the Navy would try to have escorts 
ready before the Army could give them ships. The rivalry 
had a most effective result in shortening the time required for 
the turn-around of ships. 

Besides the persons mentioned, the only person in Brest 
who would know about the pr<jspective arrival of the ships 
would be the American Commanding General. He would be 
informed through his aide by the Admiral. 

Telephone conversations in regard to the arrival of groups 
would be avoided as far as possible. But it was necessary 
at times. So, in order to avoid all chance of anyone listening 
in, understandingly, a peculiar method of expression gradu- 
ally developed between the Army and Navy officers concern- 
ed, a method which probably would have meant little to any- 
one else. A convoy being organized might be referred to as 
"Tea" or "Dinner", and the various ships, never mentioned 
by name, would be referred to as prospective guests. Each 
ship would be known by an expression which would make it 
easily recognizable by the officers familiar with it. 

Assuming that one of the transports was the HARRIS- 
BURG, that at first it had been thought it would be impossible 
to get her underway in time to sail with the convoy, but that 
due to unexpected progress it had become evident that she 
would be ready — assuming these things — the telephone mes- 
sage we would receive from the Army officer in charge of her 
preparation would run somewhat as follows : 

The Congressman from Pennsylvania who told 
the Admiral yesterday that it would be impos- 



40 The American Navy in France 

sible for him to go motoring tomorrow afternoon 
has finished his inspection sooner than he intend- 
ed, and if the Admiral has room for him he would 
be very glad to go. 
This information could hardly be understood by anyone 
not accustomed to dealing with the Army authorities in the 
port. 

Transport Captains were not required to call on the 
Admiral upon their arrival in Brest. As a rule, they got very 
little rest on the way across, and it was realized that they 
should be given all the time possible for sleep and recreation 
while they were in port. However, most of them did come to 
the office where we were always glad to have them and to 
show them all the data and the charts we had in regard to the 
activities of the enemy submarines. 

Naturally, the first question they would ask upon their 
arrival would be as to when they were to be ready to sail. 
Our invariable reply would be that there was no information 
available but that we would give them a full twenty-four 
hours' notice when to have steam, that they could do anything 
with their ships or engines or crews which would not interfere 
with their ships getting underway within twenty four hours 
after being notified. Of course, this information might be 
varied in the case of certain ships — such ships could be turned- 
around so rapidly that they could be sent out within a day 
after their arrival. In such instances, due information would 
be sent immediately upon their arrival. 

Twenty-four hours before the departure of the convoy, 
we would send a sealed envelope to each transport by special 
messenger. A similiar envelope would be sent to each of the 
destroyers that was to form part of the escort. Each envel- 
ope would be marked: "TO BE OPENED ONLY BY THE 
COMMANDING OFFICER". 

The data in this envelope would be made out on a printed 
form whose details would have been filled in by one of the two 
officers in the Operations office, would have been signed by 
the Chief of Staff, and would have been seen by no one else 
until it reached the commanding officer of the transport or 



Convoy Doctrine and Method 41 

destroyer. The envelope would contain the following in- 
formation : names of the ships that would sail ; the name of 
the convoy's commander; the speed of the convoy; the hour 
and day of sailing ; the name of the vessel on which the escort 
commander would be embarked; and the names of the de- 
stroyers forming the escort. 

At the same time information would be sent to the 
American District Commander as to what ships were to be 
ready at the hour and day of sailing specified in the order. 
This information was furnished to the District Commander 
in order that he might get the ships clear of the docks or 
clear of the inner harbor in ample time. 

An envelope containing routing instructions would then 
be prepared for the vessels of the convoy and for each vessel 
of the escort. (At the beginning of the war the routing in- 
structions were designed merely to take the vessels clear of 
the submarine zone, but when the enemy undertook his sub- 
marine-cruiser campaign, the instructions were extended to 
cover the passage of the vessels to their home port in the 
United States). The routing instructions would give full 
information as to all convoys which might cross the path of 
the outgoing vessels or which they might meet ; also, informa- 
tion as to the last known position of enemy submarines. This 
last data was at first given in tabular forms, but, later, small 
charts were prepared whereon we attempted, to plot the 
successive positions of all submarines. It was hoped that 
these charts would enable commanding officers of ships to 
anticipate the probable future movements of the submarines 
concerned. We would give them, also, any navigational in- 
formation we had, e. g., concerning wrecks, mined areas, ice- 
bergs, derelicts, and the like. 

In each envelope intended for vessels of the escort, there 
would be placed a sealed envelope marked: "TO BE OPEN- 
ED ONLY AFTER SAILING". This envelope would con- 
tain full instructions as to the incoming group or groups the 
escorting ships were to meet, the route for bringing them to 
the coast of France, and the procedure to be followed if a 
division of the convoy had been decided upon. This informa- 



42 The American Navy in France 

tion would be sent off on the very day of sailing in order that 
we might assign the routes after consideration of the latest 
submarine information available. 

In order that there might be no possible doubt as to these 
instructions in the mind of the escort commander, he would 
be directed to report to the Flag Office on the morning or the 
evening before sailing, and would be shown a copy of the 
sealed instructions. Together with one of the Operations 
officers, he would then check the rendezvous and the route 
and would discuss the movements of the westward-bound con- 
voy and the details of the eastward-bound passage. In this 
way, we would make sure that there was no ambiguity in his 
instructions to necessitate the sending of a radio message after 
the departure of the convoy from Brest. 

When he had received his instructions on board his ship, 
the convoy commander, who usually would be the senior offi- 
cer both of the convoy and the escort, would call a conference 
of troopship captains and escort-ship commanders. With 
them he would arrange the details of the formation of the 
convoy and the escort, the special signals to be used, and the 
procedure in the event of submarine attack. 

While the Flag Office would prescribe the formations 
according to the established doctrine, yet, there was no hesita- 
tion in changing the formations if the convoy commander so 
recommended, his recommendation being based on the result 
of his experience with the individual ships while making the 
east-bound passage. Although detailed arrangements would 
be made at the conference between troopship and destroyer 
commanders, yet, they would not require much time to make, 
because they would be in accordance with the established 
doctrine and principles. But such details would be carefully 
attended to as it was the Admiral's orders that radio com- 
munication should be cut to a minimum after the convoy had 
once cleared port. 

Shortly before the hour of departure, the destroyers 
would leave their moorings in the inner harbor. Three of 
them would precede the convoy, and the convoy, surrounded 
by the other destroyers, would proceed to the harbor entrance. 



Convoy Doctrine and Method 43 

where cruising formation would be taken up and the course 
would be set. Usually, the hour of sailing would be set so 
as to get the group clear of the inner harbor before dark. At 
dark the course usually would be changed radically, in order' 
to avoid any submarine which might have taken up its position 
ahead upon seeing the convoy leaving the harbor. 

The convoy would zig-zag at all times except during times 
of darkness and of fog. Early daylight and early dusk being 
the periods most favorable for the attack of an enemy sub- 
marine, the course would be radically changed at such times. 

The normal procedure would be to have the escort re- 
main with the convoy for forty-eight hours. On the evening 
the escort was to leave the west-bound convoy, the escort 
commander would call by radio the ocean escort or the 
commander of the incoming group, and would ask him 
simply: "Are you on schedule?" The reply simply would be 
"Yes", or so many hours behind schedule. After dark the 
escort would leave the west-bound convoy. The convoy 
would then disperse into individual units or into groups of 
two or three, depending upon whether or not enemy sub- 
marines were at work in the Atlantic. The escort would 
shape course for the rendezvous assigned for its junction with 
the east-bound convoy. This junction usually Avould take 
place as soon after daylight as possible. 

At daylight, the escort would form a single scouting line, 
the distance between individual destroyers depending upon 
the visibility — the clearer the weather the greater the distance 
between destroyers — and would steam along a course reverse 
to the one upon which the incoming group would be proceed- 
ing. As soon as a destroyer sighted a group, the word would 
be passed to the other destroyers, and all would form a screen 
about the group. 

From that time on, the course and the responsibility for 
the convoy would rest with the Commander, U. S. Naval 
Forces in France, and the first act of the escort commander 
would be to inform the group commander as to the course 
to be steered. Nearly always this course would be a decided 
change from the one the convoy had been following. Full 



44 The American Navy in France 

information would then be given the group commander as to 
the routes to be followed into port, as to what port the ships 
were going to, and, if the group were eventually to be divided, 
as to the position where the division would be made. 

Any further information, such as in regard to submarine 
activity, presence of mines, and the like, would be passed to 
the ships by visual signals. 



The Convoy System 45 

Chapter V 

THE CONVOY SYSTEM 



The number of convoys which could be handled in 
European waters was absolutely dependent upon the number 
of escorting vessels available to protect them through the 
submarine-infested waters. Destroyers were the only satis- 
factory type of vessel for this work, and, until the very end 
of the war, the number of destroyers available was so inade- 
quate that it was necessary to plan their employment for 
weeks ahead. 

One destroyer in the course of a single month's work was 
actually at sea sixty-seven per cent of the time. She worked 
in all conditions of weather, good and bad, and steamed during 
this time more than seven thousand, seven hundred miles, an 
average of two hundred and fifty miles a day. 

In the beginning of our activities, the policy was to sail 
groups of troop ships so that a group would reach the coast of 
France every ten days. These groups were handled by the 
destroyers based on Queenstown. 

As the number of transports engaged in troop service in- 
creased, the regular convoys continued to be run at about ten 
day intervals as before, but in addition, small, high-speed 
groups, averaging from seventeen to twenty knots, were 
spaced between the regular groups. The duty of meeting 
these fast convoys fell to the forces in France. 

Of course, the simplest and surest way of meeting these 
incoming groups would have been to despatch the necessary 
destroyers from France at a time well in advance of the time 
when the incoming group was expected to arrive. Thus, the 
destroyers would have been able to proceed more or less 
directly to the rendezvous and to meet the incoming vessels 
well off the coast. 

But the limited number of destroyers available made the 
above procedure impossible. We could have brought all the 
ships into France, but we would have been absolutely unable 
to take them west again when discharged. It would not have 



46 The American Kavij in F ranee 

been merely a condition of great delay in effecting a turn- 
around of the vessels, but it would have been literally impos- 
sible to get them west again at all. 

Consequently, the plan was adopted of utilizing escorting 
vessels both on the west-bound and the east-bound passage. 

Going west, the escorting vessels took with them empty 
troopships and empty storeships. These they dropped when 
clear of the submarine zone, and had ample time to make 
contact with the incoming groups beyond the danger zone. 
But the phrase ''ample time" must be taken with reservation. 
Every effort was made to clear ships as soon as possible after 
they were discharged, and escorts were held in port as long 
as possible in order to accomplish two things ; first, to take as 
many ships as possible westward ; second, to have time to 
meet the incoming groups while they were still clear of the 
danger zone. 

This was the crux of the entire problem. To its solution 
everyone concerned devoted his maximum effort. 

It was sometimes necessary to take chances. At times, 
escort vessels, with orders to rendezvous at some part of the 
zone and to meet incoming groups, sailed with west-bound 
ships from three different ports, on different routes and at 
different speeds. The time allowed for contact with the in- 
coming groups was cut down to the minimum commensurate 
with a reasonable amount of safety. When it is remembered 
that bad weather was apt to occur unexpectedly and might 
slow down the destroyers, or that they might be held in port 
by fog, it may be understood that many anxious moments 
were spent by those charged with this work. The amount 
and nature of the submarine activities off the coast was the 
governing factor in deciding how far we should escort convoys. 

Most of the destroyers sailing from Queenstown to meet 
troop groups frequently were able to go to their rendezvous 
without the necessity of escorting convoys en route. We 
learned that the policy governing their time for sailing on this 
duty was for them to start soon enough so that, proceeding 
at a ten knot speed, they could arrive at the rendezvous in 
ample time. This' was an excellent method, but it was only 
possible for us to adopt on the rarest occasions. Although 



The Convoy 81/ stem 47 

we were required to take great chances, yet, we were able to 
accomplish more than if we had followed the Queenstown 
policy, and we were fortunate enough to suffer very slightly. 

The group escort work grew rapidly ; for example during 
the month of January, 1918, three troop convoys containing 
altogether seven troopships, made the coast of France ; while 
in July, 1918, eight troop groups containing fifty-two troop- 
ships arrived on the coast. 

There were, on one day, formed and escorted from three 
different ports on the coast of France, five outward-bound 
convoys. These convoys were of different speeds, and each 
one had to be routed clear of east-bound, north-bound, and 
south-bound convoys and of submarines. Furthermore, they 
had to be routed so that their escorts could take them clear 
and yet have time to join the incoming groups and convoys 
before they arrived in the danger zone.^ 

SHIP MOVEMENTS 
In addition, many cargo ships were brought to France by 
American escorts from Queenstown and by British and French 
vessels which are not included in this and the following tables. 
Also, no consideration is given to troopships which first 
touched at England and whose troops were sent from England 
to France across the Channel. In other words, only convoys 
are listed which were handled in their entirety by American 
naval vessels based on France. 

EXPLANATION OF TABLES: 
O.V. Convoys sailing from Verdon (Gironde River). Either 
store or troopship convoys. Ships in ballast for 
United States and South America. 
O.R. Similar convoys from Brest. 

O.P. Similar convoys from Quiberon Bay (St. Nazaire). 
H.N. Loaded storeships convoys from New York for France. 
H.B. Loaded storeship convoys from New York for France 

(Bay of Biscay ports). 
Grp. Groups — troopship convoys from United States for 
the coast of France. 
t Troop groups — Escort furnished by Forces in France. 
* Troop groups — Escort furnished by Queenstown Forces. 



48 



The American Xar}/ in France 

SHIP MOVEMENTS 
January, 1918 



Date of 


Date of 


Convoy 


No. of 


Port of 


No. ot 


arrival 


departure 


ships 


arrival 


troops 




Jan. 1 


O. \. 1 


1 








Jan. 5 


O. R. 1 


2 






Jan. 6 




H. N. 2,i 


8 


Brest 




Jan. 10 




Group 15* 


2 


Brest 


7400 




Jan. 10 


O. P. 1 


9 






Jan. 13 




H. X. 35 


2 


St. Xazaire 




&14 














Jan. 15 


O. V. 2 


4 






Jan. 17 




Group 16* 


2 


Brest & St. Xazaire 


6950 




Jan. 17 


0. R. 2 


3 






Jan. 20 




H. N. 37 


2 


Brest 






Jan. 22 


O. R. 3 


4 






Jan. 24 




Group 17* 


3 


Brest 


10930 




Jan. 24 
an. 26 


O. V. 3 


4 








O. R. 4 


1 








Jan. 29 


H. N. 39 


3 


Quiberon 






Jan. 29 


O. P. 2 


5 








Jan. 31 


0. R.» 5 


T 








57 


25280 



February, 1918 



Date of 


Date of 


Convoy 


No. of 


Port of 


No. of 


arrival 


departure 


ships 


arrival 


troops 




Feb. 2 


O. V. 4 


5 






Feb. 3 




H. \. 41 




Brest 




Feb. 5 




Group 18* 




Brest & St. Nazaire 


6833 




Feb. 7 


0. P. 3 










Feb. 10 


O. V. 5 










Feb. 10 


O. P. 4 








Feb. 12 




H. \. 43 




Brest 






Feb. 12 


0. R. 6 








Feb. 15 


Feb. 16 


Group 19* 
0. R. 7 






6700 




Feb. 17 


O. P. 5 










Feb. 18 


O. V. 6 










Feb. 19 


O. R. 9 








Feb. 19 




H. N. 45 




Brest 






Feb. 19 


O. P. 6 


t 1 








Feb. 24 


O. P. 7 








Feb. 24 




Group 20*a 






13950 




Feb. 26 


0. V. 7 








Feb. 27 




H. N. 47 


8 


Quiberon 






62 


17483 



(a) Also 2 Destroyers from Brest. 



The Convoy System 

SHIP MOVEMENTS (Continued) 
March, 1918 



49 



Date of 


Date of 


Convoy 


No. of 


Port of 


No. of 


arrival 


departure 


ships 


arrival 


troops 




Mar. 1 


0. R. 9 


2 






, 


Mar. 1 


O. R. 10 


2 








Mar. 4 


0. P. 8 


4 


• 




Mar. 4 




Group 21*a 


8 


Brest & St. Nazaire 


23255 


Mar. 7 




H. N. 49 


10 


Brest 






Mar. 7 


O. V. 8 


6 






Mar. 10 




Group 22*b 


3 


Brest 


8200 




Mar. 10 


O. P. 9 


4 








Mar. 10 


0. R. 11 


2 








Mar. 12 


O. R. 12 


2 








Mar. 12 


O. R. 13 


1 






Mar. 15 




H. N. 51 


6 


Brest 






Mar. 16 


O. V. 9 


6 








Mar. 16 


O. R. 14 


2 








Mar. 16 


O. R. 15 


1 








Mar. 17 


O. R. 16 


1 






Mar. 20 




Special 












Group t 


1 




2779 


Mar. 20 




Group 23*c 


4 


St. Nazaire, Bordeaux 


9722 




Mar. 21 


O. P. 10 


4 








Mar. 23 


O. R. 17 


1 








Mar.*23 


0. V. 10 


7 






Mar. 23 




H. N. 53 


12 






Mar. 26 




Group 24*d 


5 


Brest & St. Nazaire 


9087 




Mar. 28 


O. R. 18 


1 








Mar. 28 


0. P. 11 


3 








Mar. 30 


O. P. 12 


2 






Mar. 31 




H. N. 55 


11 


Brest 






Mar. 31 


O. V. 11 


5 








106 


53043 



(a) Also 4 Destroyers from Brest. 

(b) Also 2 Destroyers from Brest. 

(c) Also 1 Destroyer from Brest. 

(d) Also 5 Destroyers from Brest. 

AprU. 1918 



Date of 


Date of 


Convoy 


No. of 


Port of 


No. of 


anival 


departure 




ships 


arrival 


troops 




Apr. 2 


O. V. 1 

(Special) 


5 








Apr. 4 


O. R. 19 


3 






Apr. 4-5 




Group 25*a 


4 


Bordeaux & 

St. Nazaire 


5786 


Apr. 7 




Special* 


3 


Brest 


6104 




Apr. 7 


O. V. 12 


5 






Apr. 9 




H. N. 57 


15 


Brest 






Apr. 12 


O. R. 20 


2 








Apr. 12 


O. V. 2 

(Special) 


2 








Apr. 13 


O. P. 13 


4 







50 



The American Navy in France 
SHIP MOVEMENTS (Continued) 



Apr. 13 




Group 26*b 


7 


Brest & St. Nazaire 


18325 


Apr. 15 




Group 27 t 


3 


Brest 


9875 




Apr. 15 


O. V. 13 


10 








Apr. 19 


O. R. 21 


3 








Apr. 20 


O. P. 14 


8 








Apr. 21 


O. R. 22 


1 




• 




Apr. 22 


O. R. 23 


1 








Apr. 23 


O. V. 3 
(Special) 


1 






Apr. 22 


Apr. 23 


Group 28* 
O. R. 1 
(Special) 


2 

5 


Brest 


9200 


Apr. 24 




H. N. 61 


8 


Brest 






Apr. 25 


O. V. 14 


17 








Apr. 25 


O. R. 24 


1 




. 




Apr. 26. 


O. R. 25 


1 






Apr. 29 




Group 29*c 


8 


Brest & St. Nazaire 


13325 




Apr. 29 


O. R. 26 


1 








Apr. 29 


O. R. 27 


1 




- 


Apr. 16 




H. N. 59 


. 5 


Brest 






126 


62615 



(a) 4 Destroyers from Brest. 

(b) 4 Destroyers from Brest. 

(c) 2 Destroyers from Brest. 

May. 1918 



Date of 


Date of 


Convoy 


No. of 


Port of 


No. of 


ai rival 


departure 


ships 


arrival 


tioops 




May 1 


0. P 15 


3 






May 2 




H. B. 63 


11 


Brest 




May 2 




Special 












Group t 


1 


Brest 


8901 


May 4 




Group 31 1 


2 


Brest 


3559 




May 5 


0. V. 15 


17 








May 5 


0. R. 28 


1 








May 6 


O. P. 15 


3 






May 6 




Group 30* 


5 


Brest & Bordeaux 


9483 




May 7 


0. R. 29 


1 








May 7 


O. R. 30 


3 








May 8 


O. R. 31 


1 






May 9 




H. B. 1 


8 


La Pallice 




May 10 




Group 33 1 


1 


Brest 


2863 


May 10 




H. N. 65 


12 


Brest 






May 11 


O. R. 32 


2 








May 12 


O. V. 4 

(Special) 


4 






May 12 




Group 32* 


6 


St. Nazaire & 
Bordeaux 


11570 




May 13 


0. V. 16 


9 








May 15 


0. P. 17 


2 








May 15 


O. P. 18 


2 






May 18 




Group 34 t 


3 


Brest 


10264 


May 18 




H. N. 67 


9 


Brest 






May 19 


0. V. 17 


7 







The Convot/ System 
SHIP MOVEMENTS (Continued) 



51 





May 20 


0. V. 19 


4 








May 21 


0. R. 33 


3 




• 


May 22 




H. B. 2 


8 


La Pallice 




-23 


May 22 


0. V. 5-1 
Special 












Group 35* 


14 


Brest 


31000 


May 24 




H. N. 68 


1 


Brest 




Mav 24 




Group 36 1 


2 


Brest 


9597 




May 26 


O. R. 34 


8 








May 27 


O. V. 18 


19 








May 28 


O. R. 35 


3 








May 29 


0. R. 36 


4 






May 30 




Group 37* 


9 


Brest, St. Nazaire 
& Bordeaux 


16005 


May 30 




Group 38 1 


2 


Brest 


5291 


May 30 




Special 












Group* 


1 


Brest 


10577 




196 


119il0 



June. 1918 



Date of 


Date of 


Convoy 


No. of 


Port of 


No. of 


arrival 


departure 


ships 


arrival 


troops 




June r 


O. R. 37 


1 






June 1 




H. N. 69 


18 


Quiberon 






June 2 


O. V. 19 


11 








June 5 


O. R. 38 


1 








June 5 


0. R. 39 


2 








June 5 


0. P. 20 


7 






June 5 




H. B. 3 


8 






June 8 




Group 39a* 


10 


Brest & Bordeaux 


21264 


June 9 




H. N. 70 


8 


Brest 






June 9 


O. R. 40 


4 








June 10 


O. V. 20 


12 








June 11 


O. R. 41 


3 








June 12 


O. P. 21 


2 








June 13 


O. V. 6 












(Special) 


6 




* 




June 14 


0. R. 42 


3 








June 17 


0. V. 21 


11 






une 17 




H. N. 71 


19 


Brest 


342 


; une 18 




Group 40 1 


6 


Brest & St. Nazaire 


15505 




June 18 


O. R. 43 


3 






June 19 




Group 41 


4 


Brest 


17110 




June 19 


0. R. 44 


1 






June 22 




H. B. 4 


8 






June 22 




Group 43 


1 


Brest 


10380 




June 23 


O. P. 22 


2 








June 23 


O. R. 45 


2 








June 23 


0. R. 46 


2 








June 23 


0. R. 47 


2 








June 24 


0. R. 48 


1 




' 


June 25 




H.N. 72 


8 


Brest 





52 



The American Nan/ in France 
SHIP MOVEMENTS (Continued) 



June 26 
June 27 


June 26 

Tune 27 
June 30 


Group 44 
O V. 22 
Group 42 
O. R. 49 
0. R. 50 


2 
25 
13 

2 

2 


Brest 

Brest & St. Nazaire 


5751 
33897 




210 


104249 



(a) 2 Destroyers from Brest. 



July. 1918 



Date of 


Date of 


Convoy 


No. of 


Poit of 


No. of 


arrival 


departure 


ships 


arrival 


troops 




July 1 


O. R. 51 


8 








July 1 


O. P. 23 


7 






July 4 




H. N. 73 


18 






July 5 




Group 45 


7 


Brest 


12533 




July 7 


0. V. 23 


20 








July 8 


0. R. 52 


6 








July 8 


O. P. 24 


8 






July 9 




Von 












Steuben 


1 


Brest 


2622 


July 12 




Group 46 


13 


Brest 


34365 




July 12 


0. R. 53 


1 






July 12 




H. B. 5 


15 






July 15 




Group 47 


1 


Brest 


10530 




July 15 


0. R. 54 


5 








July 16 


O. V. 24 


16 








July 16 


0. R. 55 


4 








July 17 


O. R. 56 


6 








July 18 


0. R. 57- 


1 






July 18 




Group 48 


5 


Brest 


21907 


July 19 




H. N. 75 


12 








July 19 


O. R. 58 


3 






• 


July 20 


O. R. 59 


3 






July 21 




Group 49 


11 




5079 


July 22 




Group 50 


2 


Brest 


20365 




July 23 


O. R. 60 


1 


. 






July 24 


O. R. 61 


2 








July 24 


O. V. 25 


19 








July 25 


O. R. 62 


7 








July 25 


O. R. 63 


2 






July 28 




H. B. 6 


18 








July 29 


O. R. 64 


1 






July 30 


July 22 


Group 51 
0. V. 7 
(Special)' 


12 


Brest & St. Nazaire 


26592 




236 


133993 



The Convoy System 

SHIP MOVEMENTS (Continued) 

August. 1918 



53 



Date of 


Date of 


Convoy 


No. of 


Port of 


No. of 


anival 


departure 


ships 


arrival 


troops 




Aug. 1 


O. R. 65 


5 








Aug. 2 


0. R. 66 


3 








Aug. 3 


O.V. 26 


19 








Aug. 4 


0. P. 25 


5 








Aug. 6 


O. R. 67 


3 






Aug. 6 




Group 52 


7 


Brest 


18941 




Aug. 9 


O. R. 68 


4 






Aug. 10 




H. B. 7 


16 


» 




Aug. 11 




Group 54 


3 


Brest 


16525 


Aug. 12 




Group 53 


8 


Brest 


18019 


Aug. 12 




H. N. 78 


13 


Brest 






Aug. 13 


O.V. 27 


23 








Aug. 13 


0. R. 70 


3 








Aug. 14 


O. R. 69 


9 








Aug. 15 


0. R. 71 


1 








Aug. 17 


O. R. 72 


2 








Aug. 18 


O. R. 73 


2 






Aug. 18 




H. B. 8 


12 






Aug. 18 




Group 55 


6 


Brest 


13942 


Aug. 20 




H. N. 79 


6 


Brest 






Aug. 21 


O.V. 74 


4 








Aug. 21 


O.V. 28 


20 


^ 






Aug. 22 . 


O. R. 75 


2 








Aug. 25 


0. R. 76 


2 


■ 






Aug. 25 


H. B. 9 


II 






Aug. 25 




Group 56 


6 


Brest 


15621 


Aug. 27 




Group 57 


3 


Brest 


10328 


Aug. 28 




H. N. 80 


9 


Brest 






Aug. 29 


0. R. 77 


6 








Aug. 29 


O.V. 29 


27 








Aug. 30 


O. R. 78 


3 








Aug. 30 


O. R. 79 


2 








245 


93376 



September, 1918 



Date of 


Date of 


Convoy 


No. of 


Port of 


No. of 


arrival 


departxire 


ships 


arrival 


troops 


Sept. 3 




Group 58 


12 


Brest 


28799 


Sept. 3 




Group 59 


3 


Brest 


12750 


Sept. 3 




H. B. 10 


12 








Sept. 4 


O. R. 80 . 


2 








Sept. 6 


O.V. 30 


28 








Sept. 6 


0. R. 81 


9 






Sept. 6 




H. N. 81 


4 


Brest 




Sept. 7 




Group 60 


3 


Brest 


16308 




Sept. 9 


O. R. 82 


3 








Sept. 10 


O. R. 2,3, 


1 






Sept. 11 




H. B. 11 


11 






Sept. 12 




Group 61 


8 


Brest 


17387 



54 



The American Xavi/ in France 
SHIP MOVEMENTS (Continued) 





Sept. 12 


O. R. 84 


3 






Sept. 13 




Group 62 


3 


St. Nazaire 


10266 


Sept. 13 




H. N. 82 


3 


Brest 






Sept. 14 


O. R. 85 


2 








Sept. 14 


O. V. 31 


18 








Sept. 16 


O. R. 86 


7 








Sept. 18 


O. R. 87 


1 






Sept. 19 




H. B. 12 


14 








Sept. 20 


O. P. 26 


3 






Sept. 21 




Group 63 


9 


Brest 


20807 


Sept. 22 




H. N. 83 


6 


Brest 






Sept. 22 


O. V. 32 


25 








Sept. 23 


O. R. 88 


7 








Sept. 23 


O. R. 89 


2 






Sept. 24 




Group 64 


3 


Brest 


5170 




Sept. 25 


O. R. 90 


3 








Sept. 26 


O. R. 91 


1 






Sept. 27 




H. B. 13 


9 






Sept. 28 




Group 65 


11 


Brest 


23349 


Sept. 29 




Group 66 


2 


Brest 


8417 


Sept. 29 




H. N. 84 


6 


Brest 




Sept. 30 


Sept. 30 


O. V. 27 










261 


143253 



October. 1918 



Date of 


Date of 


Convoy 


No. of 


Port of 


No. of 


aiiival 


departure 


ships 


arrival 


troops 




Oct. 1 


O. R. 92 


4 




/ 




Oct. 1 


O. R. 93 


6 








Oct. 2 


O. R. 94 


3 






Oct. 4 




Group 68 


3 


Brest 


9930 


Oct. 5 




H. B. 14 


25 








Oct. 5 


O. R. 95 








Oct. 6 




Group 67 




St. Nazaire 


25208 




Oct. 6 


O. R. 96 








Oct. 7 




H. N. 85 




Brest 




Oct. 7 




Group 69 




Brest 


9326 




Oct. 8 


0. R. 97 










Oct. 8 


0. V. 34 


19 








Oct. 9 


O. R. 98 










Oct. 11 


0. P. 27 










Oct. 12 


0. R. 99 








Oct. 13 




H. B. 15 


26 






Oct. 13 




Group 70 




Brest 


18502 


Oct. 15 




Group 71 




. Brest 


7767 


Oct. 15 




H. N. 76 


11 


Brest 






Oct. 15 


O. V. 35 


13 








Oct. 16 


0. R. 100 


6 








Oct. 16 


0. R. 101 


5 








Oct. 17 


O. R. 102 


1 






Oct. 20 




Group 72 


7 


Brest 


12649 


Oct. 20 




H. B. 16 


11 








Oct. 20 


0. R. 103 


1 







The Convoy System 
SHIP MOVEMENTS (Continued) 



55 



Oct. 21 

Oct. 23 
Oct, 25 
Oct..26 
Oct. 29 



Oct. 22 
Oct. 22 

Oct. 24 

Oct. 25 

Oct. 27 

Oct. 29 
Oct. 29 
Oct. 30 
Oct. 30 
Oct. 31 



Group 73 
O. R. 104 
O. R. 105 
H. N. 87 
O. V. 36 
Group 75 
O. R. 106 
Group 74 
O. R. 107 
H. B. 17 
O. R. 108 
O. R. 109 
O. P. 28 
O. R. 110 
O. R. Ill 



6 
1 
5 

23 
2 
2 
7 
1 
6 
2 

10 
7 
1 
1 



260 



Brest 

Brest 
Brest 
Brest 



7600 

3817 
12248 



107047 



November. 1918 



Date of 


Date of 


Convoy 


No. of 


Poit of 


No. of 


arrival 


departure 


ships 


ai rival 


troops 


Nov. 1 




H. N. 88 


13 


Brest 






Nov. 1 


O. P. 29 


2 








Nov. 1 


O. R. 112 


1 








Nov. 1 . 


0. V. 37 


12 








Nov. 2 


0. P. 30 


2 








Nov. 2 


0. R. 113 


1 






Nov. 3 




Group 76 


6 


Brest & St. Nazaire 


11326 




Nov. 3 


O. P. 31 


1 








Nov. 5 


0. P. 32 


4 








Nov. 5 


0. R. 114 


1 






Nov. 6 




H. B. 18 


28 








Nov. 6 


O. P. 32 


2 








Nov. 6 


0. R. 115 


2 








Nov. 7 


0. P. 34 


1 








Nov. 7 


0. R. 116 


1 






Nov. 8 




Special 












Group 


1 


Brest 


5711 


Nov. 8 




H. N. 89 


18 


Brest 




Nov. 9 




Group 78 


11 


Brest 


23543 


Nov. 9 




Group 79 


2 


Brest 


5359 




Nov. 9 


0. R. 117 


1 








Nov. 10 


O. R. 118 


1 






Nov. 11 




H. N. 90 


2 


Verdon 






Nov. 11 


O. R. 119 


7 






Nov. 12 




Group 81 


2 


St. Nazaire 


30 




Nov. 12 


0. R. 120 


3 






Nov. 13 




H. B. 19 


26 








Nov. 13 


0. R. 122 


1 








Nov. 14 


O. R. 123 


1 






Nov. 15 




Group 80 


2 


Brest 


28 




Nov. 15 


0. R. 124 


1 








Nov. 16 


O. R. 125 


2 








Nov. 16 


O. R. 126 


1 








Nov. 18 


0. R. 127 


1 







56 



The American Navy in France 
SHIP MOVEMENTS (Continued) 





Nov. 18 


O. R. 129 


1 








Nov. 20 


O. R. 131 


1 






Nov. 22 




Group 82 


4 


Brest & Bordeaux 


6793 


Nov. 22 




Group 84 


1 


Brest 


1096 


Nov. 23 




H. N. 91 


5 


Quiberon 






Nov. 23 


0. P. 35 


1 






Nov. 24 




Group ^i 


5 


Bordeaux, Brest 

& St. Nazaire 


3061 


Nov. 25 




H. B. 20 


26 






Nov. 28 




Group 85 


1 


Brest 






212 


56946 





The Convoy iSystcm 








TOTA 

Total durir 

Army Fi] 


June 
July 
August 
September 
October 
November 
. December 
January 
February 
March 
April 
May 
June 
July 
August 
September 
October 
Novembej 










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58 The American Navy in France 



Chapter VI 
STORESHIP CONVOYS 



Storeship convoys, were so known in order to distinguish 
them from the troopship convoys. The latter were ddnomin- 
ated as groups, and were numbered consecutively, Group One, 
Group Two, and so forth. The first consisted of neutral and 
Allied shipping, carrying cargoes on private or on Govern- 
ment consignment — at times a few troops might be placed 
on such ships. The second carried only troops, troop bag- 
gage, and such Army stores as their capacity permitted. 

The speed of our storeship convoys varied from seven 
knots to nine and one half knots. But troopships had to be 
capable of making at least twelve knots. In the earlier part 
of the war, the storeship convoys reaching the coast of France 
were not large. With the rapid increase of our Army, the 
convoys increased both in size and in numbers, and were 
largely composed of vessels carrying stores for the mainten- 
ance of the American Expeditionary Force. 

At first, all storeships for the west coast of France were 
embodied in New York, Hampton Roads or Sidney convoys, 
so designated from the name of the port they sailed from. A 
fourth convoy, called the Homeward-to-Bay-of-Biscay convoy 
was established later. This consisted only of vessels for 
French ports, while the first three convoys contained ships 
both for the British Isles and for France. British, French 
and American vessels took part in escorting the first three 
convoys. The last convoy was escorted only by French and 
by American vessels. 

All convoys bound eastward were known as Homeward- 
bound convoys, and all convoys bound westward were known 
as Outward-bound convoys. Thus convoys coming eastward 
from New York were called HN convoys, that is to say, 
homeward-bound from New York. Convoys sailing from 
Verdon for the United States or other ports of the Western 
\tlantic were called OV convoys, that is to say, outward- 



Storeship Convoys 59 

bound from Verdon. Verdon is the port at the entrance to 
the river Gironde. 

The Sidney convoy and the Hampton Roads convoys 
were the slower ones, making seven knots speed. The New 
York convoy and the Home-to-Bay-of Biscay convoy were 
faster. They were made up of vessels capable of a speed 
of nine and one half knots or even more, although this" was 
sometimes reduced to nine knots. 

By means of a special chart originally prepared by the 
British and somewhat modified from time to time, the various 
rendezvous where escorting vessels would meet incoming 
convoys could be established. These rendezvous were called 
the destroyer rendezvous, and were capable of an infinite 
number of variations in respect both of latitude and longitude. . 
This chart gave the rendezvous and, also, the course on which 
the incoming convoy was approaching the rendezvous, thus 
making it a comparatively easy matter for the escorting 
vessels to establish contact with the incoming convoy. 

The possession of this chart was vital to the safety of our 
convoys and was most jealously guarded. Even if a cable or 
radio message were deciphered by the enemy, it was necessary 
to have this chart before the message could be understood 
by him. 

The practice employed in handling these storeship con- 
voys differed somewhat. The Sidney convoy and^ the Hamp- 
ton Roads convoys were met at the destroyer rendezv6us by 
American and British escort vessels from Queenstown. The 
rendezvous was at a distance from the French co^st or frbm 
the British coast which varied with the westernmost sub- 
marine activity. 

Arrived off the English Channel, these convoys split into 
various parts, some going up-Channel, some into the Irish 
Sea, and some to Brest. The escorting of vessels going up- 
Channel was taken over by destroyers out of Devonport. 
The vessels bound for France were brought there by a de- 
stroyer escort of British and American vessels from Queens- 
town, and were met off the entrance to Brest by one or two 
small French torpedo-boats which acted as pilots to the 
anchorage. 



60 The American Navy in France 

This system was maintained until the final discontinuance 
of the convoy system after the signing of the armistice. 

The New York convoys, in the beginning, were met at 
the rendezvous by an American and British escort from 
Queenstown. They were brought to a point some eighty or 
ninety miles west of the coast of France and there met by a 
mixed French and American escort from Brest. The French 
and American ships then took over the escorting of all Vf^ssels 
bound for France, and saw them into St. Nazaire or to Brest. 
It was desired to have the convoys enter port during day- 
light hours. As Brest was materially to the westward of St 
Nazaire its relative nearness was often a governing factor in 
the decision as to which of the two ports the convoy should 
.first be conducted to. Other governing factors were the 
number of escorting vessels available, what part of the coast 
the majority of the incoming ships was consigned to, the 
condition of the two ports in respect to their relative freedom 
from mines, and the intensity of submarine activity in the 
Bay of Biscay 

As our forces were augmented, this procedure was 
changed. A mixed French and American escort met this con- 
voy at the destroyer rendezvous. There the convoy was split 
into two parts, the British escort taking over that part destined 
for the British Isles and the American and French escort 
taking over the part intended for France. On some occasions, 
these two parts proceeded independently from the destroyer 
rendezvous, and on other occasions they were kept together 
until nearer the coast of France, when they were divided. 

The two parts proceeded separately when there was — as 
there usually was — a maximum of submarine activity off the 
entrance to the English Channel. When this condition ex- 
isted, it was advisable to keep the French-bound part of the 
convoy clear of the infested area. 

The two parts proceeded together intact when submarines 
seemed temporarily less active in this area. The convoy 
intact could be furnished better protection by keeping it under 
a combined escort as long as possible. 

The Homeward-to-Bay-of-Biscay convoys were met at 



Storeship Convoys 61 

the destroyer rendezvous by a mixed French and American 
escort, and were taken direct to the Gironde River or to St. 
Nazaire or to a position fairly close to the French coast. If 
the latter, then vessels for Bordeaux and La Pallice were 
taken thence direct to the Gironde. Vessels for St. Nazaire 
and Brest were taken to Quiberon Bay, or occasionally, partic- 
ularly valuable ships were taken direct to Brest. 

The procedure adopted depended upon the number of 
vessels bound for the various ports, the number of vessels 
available for escort duty, and upon the degree of submarine 
activity. The governing principle was to get the ships through 
the submarine zone and to their final destination with as little 
delay as was possible commensurate with the demands of 
safety. 

This Homeward-to-the-Bay-of-Biscay convoy system was 
the last one established, and the first convoy of it sailed from 
the United States on April 21, 1918, and reached the coast of 
France May 10, 1918. The Commodore of this convoy was 
an officer of the Reserve of the Regular Navy, while the Com- 
modore of the other storeship convoys was a British Naval 
Officer. There was, however, a Reserve Office of the Amer- 
ican Navy detailed as Vice-Commodore of the other storeship 
convoys — he took charge of the vessels consig'ned to France 
after their separation from the part bound for the British Isles. 

The escort which sailed from France to meet the New 
York convoy, the Sidney convoy, and the Hampton Roads 
convoy, usually left from Brest or St. Nazaire, occasionally 
from V^erdon. They took with them such empty storeships 
as were ready to depart, and moved in time to get such ships 
through the submarine zone and then to join the east-bound 
convoy. The practice — varied somewhat by the area and in- 
tensity of submarine operations — was to escort the west-bound 
vessels for about forty eight hours, to leave them after dark 
and to join the incoming convoy on the following morning. 

The west-bound convoy system had been originated by 
the French. The French also arranged the escorting and the 
routing. The number of escort vessels was about equally 
divided between French and American, although usually there 



62 The American Navy in France 

were one or two more American vessels than there were 
French vessels. 

At first, the escort of the Verdon convoys simply took 
them westward, and after clearing the danger zone, returned 
taport. The routing of the convoy was thus made a compara- 
tively simple matter at that time. However, with the institu- 
tion of the Homeward-to-Bay-of-Biscay convoys, it became 
necessary to utilize the Verdon convoy escorts to meet the 
incoming HB convoys. In turn, this required the timing of 
the western sailings so as to fit in with the arrivals of the east- 
bound convoys. Consequently, the system became somewhat 
complicated. 

As the majority of the ships in the HB convoy belonged 
to the United States, and as we had been handling more of 
the combined east-bound and west-bound movements than 
the French had, it was easier for us to extend our system to 
include the HB convoys than it was for the French to extend 
their system. 

We took over in their entirety the arrangements for the 
HB convoys, and in order to handle the westward sailing 
from Verdon effectively, we discussed with the French in 
ample time the question as to when and where the outward- 
bound escorting vessels would be required to join the east- 
bound convoy. The French thereupon routed the westward- 
bound convoys to make this procedure possible. 

On account of the time gained by our being able to send 
escorting vessels direct from Brest to join the east-bound con- 
voy, we were able to increase the number of escorting vessels 
— one, two, or three destroyers went direct from Brest to the 
rendezvous for this convoy. As they usually sailed Avithout 
convoy these escorting vessels could be despatched later than 
if they had to take ships east-bound. If, however, the procedure 
followed tended to delay ships discharged and ready to sail, 
we utilized the one, or two, or three destroyers to take one 
or two ships out. 

As a result of the above-outlined arrangements, the 
orders for the first six HB convoys were issued by the Com- 
mander, U. S. Naval Forces in France. Afterward, however, 



StoresMp Convoys , 63 

upon instructions from the French Ministry, the arrangements 
for the escorting and for the handling of these convoys were 
assumed by the French authorities. The practical handling 
of these convoys continued as before, the French always invit- 
ing us into conference before making their dispositions and 
accepting any suggestion we made for the improvement of 
their arrangements. 



64 The American Navy in France 



Chapter VII 
COASTAL CONVOYS 



Upon the arrival of the yachts on the coast of France, it 
was at once evident that the smaller vessels did not have the 
seagoing qualities or the speed which would make them of 
use for escorting ships on the high seas. Accordingly, they 
were assigned to duty with the coast convoy system estab- 
lished on the west coast of France. 

At the beginning of our operations there were eight 
yachts available for this purpose. These were divided into 
four groups of two each. The French maintained four groups 
of three ships each, and, in addition, reinforced each of our 
groups with a trawler or other small vessel. 

Coastal convoys were made up in Roscanvel Bay, across 
the harbor from Brest, and sailed for Penzance, England, and 
for the south of France, leaving port about four in the after- 
noon. At the same time a convoy sailed from Penzance for 
Brest. 

The convoy leaving Brest for the northward, after clear- 
ing the approaches passed through the Chenal du Four or the 
Chenal de la Helle. If mines were reported, they passed to 
the westward of Ushant. They were escorted across the 
Channel for such a distance as would permit the escort to 
leave and to join the convoy from Penzance at a prede- 
termined rendezvous. This south-bound convoy usually was 
picked up early in the morning, and escorted to Brest where 
it arrived in the forenoon. 

The same escort then made up a south-bound convoy 
during the afternoon. At about four p. m. it sailed for the 
south and made a night run for Quiberon Bay, arriving there 
the next morning. Ships for St. Nazaire then proceeded 
independently as their route from Quiberon Bay lay through 
inland waters where they were safe from submarine attack. 
Ships for points beyond St. Nazaire were taken over by a 
French coastal escort. 



VoaHtal Convoys 65 

Enemy submarine activity on the Atlantic Coast of 
France was confined almost entirely to the part north of St. 
Nazaire and south of Bordeaux. Why the enemy neglected 
this intervening part of the coast is not known, unless it was 
because they feared the mine-fields laid by them oflF the ap- 
proaches to La Pallice and Bordeaux. 

On the afternoon of the day the convoy reached Quiberon 
Bay, the escort which had taken the convoy thither made up 
a new convoy for the north. This sailed about four in the 
afternoon, and made a night run to Brest. The convoy then 
anchored in Roscanvel Bay awaiting the escort to the north- 
ward. 

It will be observed that an escort which sailed Monday 
afternoon was at sea nearly all the time until the following 
Thursday, and that it sailed again the next Tuesday. 

These yachts were intended for fair-weather cruising 
only. The greater part of their escort duty was performed 
at night, under all conditions of weather. The chief part of 
their run lay through channels difiicult to navigate. Fre- 
quently, they sailed in gales and fogs. When these things are 
considered, it is believed no vessels of the American service 
are deserving of more credit for duty well done than are these 
small yachts. 

Figures are not available, but it is thought that less than 
a half-dozen ships were grounded during the entire opera- 
tion of the convoy system. The fact that there were very 
few collisions, also, speaks well for the handling of the con- 
voys, as they included types and conditions of ships and all 
types of masters, and then ran, as already mentioned, through 
narrow channels in weather both foggy and clear. The 
smallest of these yachts, the CHRISTABEL, made thirty 
successive trips before being compelled to lay off on account 
of disabled steering gear. 

For a long time this convoy was remarkably free from 
submarine attack. It was hard to understand why a more 
determined effort was not made by the enemy against this 
convoy — by force of circumstances, it ran over practically the 
same route day in and day out, was weakly escorted, and the 



66 The American Nat:i/ in France 

speed of the ships was slow, varying from six to eight knots 
under favorable weather conditions. It was the practice to 
reinforce the convoy by additional yachts or destroyers 
whenever it contained important storeships ; nevertheless, the 
only reasons that can be assigned for the enemy's not attempt- 
ing greater things against it were because the German sub- 
marine commanders were afraid to work so close to the coast, 
and, perhaps, because they thought that with the number of 
submarines they had, more important results could be obtained 
by attacking other convoys. 

As the result of experience in this work, the commanding 
officers of the escorting vessels began to recommend that the 
running of the convoy by night be discontinued — they recom- 
mended that the greater part of the run be made by daylight. 
The reasons were that better supervision could be exercised 
over the convoy and aerial protection could be given. 

In January, 1918, an enemy submarine began to attack 
this convoy with great success each night. The attack usually 
took place off the point of Penmarch where the convoy passed 
through the ray of light emanating from that point, and where 
there was open water to the westward. A series of attacks 
was made on a number of successive convoys. They culmin- 
ated in the sinking of four ships out of the same convoy on 
the night of January 5-6, 1918. 

The question of changing the operation of this convoy 
was taken up, and as a result a re-arrangement was made. 

The French and British took over all the escorting of the 
ships of the cross-Channel convoys, and the French and 
Americans took over the escorting of convoys between Brest 
and the south of Brest. Eight groups of escort were formed, 
each group consisting of three comparatively slow ships and 
one fast ship. The Americans furnished three of the eight 
groups, and lent a small destroyer to help make up a fourth 
group. Each American group included three yachts and one 
small destroyer. 

The convoy sailed from Brest in the morning and arrived 
at Quiberon the same evening. It sailed thence on the follow- 
ing morning and reached La Pallice that night. The same 
escort sailed the next morning from La Pallice with a north- 



Coastal Convoys 67 

bound convoy. It arrived at Quiberon that evening, spent the 
night there, got underway the following morning, and reached 
Brest that night. Aerial protection was given along the 
entire route whenever the weather permitted. 

Immediately upon this re-arrangement of the system the 
convoy became immune from successful attack. 

Attacks were made on the convoy upon several occasions. 
Each time the attack was unsuccessful, and in two instances 
at least, it is thought that the attacking submarine was de- 
stroyed or was so seriously damaged as to be forced to put 
into a Spanish port for internment. 

This period of immunity lasted until May 18, 1918. On 
that day the JOHN McCULLOUGH, with a speed of about 
six knots, escorted by one yacht, could not keep up with the 
convoy, and was torpedoed and sunk south of Belle Isle. 
After this time a few vessels were torpedoed. But the 
number was so small that the daylight system of convoying 
was thoroughly justified. Statistics indicate that the per- 
centage of losses in this convoy after daylight-sailing was 
adopted was the smallest of any organized convoy. 

Impressed by the success of the daylight system, the 
French proposed to the British authorities who had charge of 
the cross-Channel convoy that that convoy should be run by 
day. The British opposed this proposition at first. Then, as 
a compromise, the British consented to run the cross-Channel 
convoy in daylight for ten days each side of the period of the 
full moon — it was at this time that submarine attacks by night 
were the most frequent and most effective. 

Again the daylight convoy systera proved its merits. 
Finally, the entire cross-Channel convoy service was run 
during the day. Aeroplanes escorted this cross-Channel con- 
voy and a dirigible accompanied it from the time of its depar- 
ture until it was picked up by another dirigible on the other 
side of the Channel. 

Besides the ships that crossed the Atlantic to France, 
there were a great many vessels carrying stores, particularly 
coal, from the British Isles to France. Our own Army had 
many vessels running on this route, the number gradually 
increasing until from four or five there were more than ninety. 



68 The American Navy in France 

Chapter VIII 
THE SHORE ESTABLISHMENT 



As there was no possibility of a Fleet action in the Bay 
of Biscay, the work there consisted entirely of the protection 
of convoy and in anti-submarine measures. For this reason, 
the work there was carried on in "its entirety by destroyers, 
converted yachts, gunboats, torpedo-boats, mine-sweepers and 
the necessary auxiliaries. Due to the multiplicity of duties, 
there had to be a central operating agency for the purpose of 
co-ordinating all the activities of these vessels. 

Upon our arrival on the coast of P'rance, we found that 
the operating organization of the French naval service was 
quartered in the city of Brest. Although the Senior American 
Naval Officer desired to remain afloat, and thence to direct 
the activities of our forces, this was not desired by the French, 
who wished him to be where they could be in closer touch with 
him. For this reason, he, with his staff,- obtained offices 
ashore while flying his flag from one of the ships in the harbor. 

There were many good reasons for this procedure. 

It was necessary that the officer directing operations 
should be where he could obtain in the shortest possible time 
all information available in regard to the movements of the 
enemy and of the Allied forces, and this information could be 
given him both by land wire and by radio. The radio sets 
ashore were connected by land wire and were of greater 
power than those afloat. There would be a loss of time in 
getting the information from the cable office on shore to the 
ships at anchor or at sea. As information came from many 
sources other than ships, such sources as the Ministry of 
Marine in Paris, the British Admiralty in London, the Force 
Commander in London, and the Navy Department in Wash- 
ington, there would have been a loss of time if the Flag Office 
had been kept at sea. 

Rear Admiral W. B. Fletcher and his staff established 
themselves in a small building- on the Penfield River which 



The Shore Establishment 69 

flows through the city of Brest. The office was not far above 
where this river enters the Rade Abri as the inner harbor of 
Brest is called. The Chief of the Brittany Patrol, a captain 
in the French Navy, occupied the same offices. Not long 
afterward, however, both sets of offices were moved to the 
building of the Credit Lyonnaise, one of the most modern 
structures in Brest. 

At this time the personnel of the shore establishment was 
very limited. It consisted of the Admiral, himself, the Flag- 
Lieutenant, the Radio Officer, the Supply Officer, the Force 
Engineer Officer, the Force Medical Officer, Force Repair 
Officer, together with a few junior officers of the line, and 
some clerical assistance. 

There are very few records available from which informa- 
tion can be obtained in regard to the activities in the early 
days of the American operations in France. 

A radio receiving set was placed in one room of the office 
building. The only method of transmitting messages for 
radio was by landwire to Kerlaer. 

Repair work for our forces was done in the French Navy 
Yard located some distance up the Penfield River. As has 
been elsewhere noted, repair work was unsatisfactory, not so 
much as to quality but as to the time it took to get the work 
done. It was necessary for vessels to bring the article need- 
ing repairs to the repair officer's office. He would then send 
it to the Navy Yard, and when the work was completed the 
ship would be informed in order that it might call for it. 

The only boats available at this time were those carried 
by the converted yachts. Their boats were for the most part 
very small and unseaworthy, not suitable for transporting 
liberty parties or any considerable amount of stores. During 
bad weather the yachts were cut off from communication 
with the beach, and conditions in this respect were very un- 
satisfactory. 

The stores available for issue were inadequate both in 
quantity and quality. 

As the number of ships operating began to increase, the 
necessity for more adequate repair facilities increased pro- 



70 Tlie American Navy in France 

portionately. The arrival of the PANTHER with the first 
five destroyers eased the situation somewhat, but her inability 
to maintain our vessels soon became evident, and our forces 
•were augmented by the arrival of the PROMETHEUS, 
Captain F. Lyons, on February 18, 1918, and of the BRIDGE- 
PORT, Captain E. P. Jessop, on August 5, 1918. The arrival 
of these vessels made it possible to spare the PANTHER 
from Brest — she was sent to the Gironde River for duty with 
the vessels based on that District. 

The PROMETHEUS and the BRIDGEPORT not only 
maintained the vessels of our force, but also did a vast amount 
of work for troopships and storeships arriving on the coast 
of France. The magnitude of this work is evidenced by the 
fact that the PROMETHEUS did three hundred and thirty 
jobs for naval vessels based on France; nine hundred and 
thirty two jobs on troopships and storeships and French 
men-of-war; two hundred and one jobs for naval aviation 
forces, seven hundred and twenty eight for the naval base at 
Brest, and seventy two for the Army at Brest. 

Every eflFort was made to eliminate red tape and unneces- 
sary correspondence, the sole idea being to undertake and 
finish repairs with the least amount of inconvenience to the 
vessels requiring them and in the shortest possible time. 

Upon one occasion, a French lieutenant in command of 
the "Guarde Pecheur" (small boats that protected the fishing 
fleet) came into the Flag Office and stated that one of his 
small torpedo boats had broken part of her machinery and 
that the French Navy Yard estimated that approximately one 
month would be required to repair it. He asked if it would 
be possible for the PROMETHEUS to undertake this work 
and, if so, how long it would take. 

It was about seven o'clock in the evening. The Com- 
manding Officer of the PROMETHEUS was called on the 
telephone, was told of the nature of the work and was asked 
if he could undertake it. He replied that he could but thought 
that he could not finish it that night. Upon being asked 
when he would be able to complete it, he said, "Sometime 
tomorrow morning", and requested that the torpedo-boat be 



The Shore Establishment 71 

sent alongside the PROMETHEUS as soon as possible. 

The French officer was amazed as well as appreciative. 
He asked what papers must be submitted before the work 
could be begun, and his amazement was still greater when he 
was told that all that was necessary was for him simply to 
send his boat alongside the PROMETHEUS and to give the 
article needing repairs to the Commanding Officer. 

The PROMETHEUS and BRIDGEPORT were the 
cause of constant wonderment to the French officers and 
French commissions who visited those ships. They were one 
of the things visiting officers always wanted to see and they 
evoked nothing but the highest commendation. Well they 
might, for there were few tasks, no matter what their magni- 
tude, that these vessels could not and did not undertake and 
bring to a successful conclusion. If the job were too great 
for the men to handle on the ship, mechanics were landed, 
and the work was done on shore. 

Efficient as was the work of these repair ships, by the 
spring of 1918 it became evident that they were not sufficient, 
even with the assistance of the French dockyards, to care for 
the necessary repairs and alterations for American vessels 
operating in French waters. The facilities of some of the 
Army shops of the coast forts were available for use by the 
Navy, and arrangements were made to have work done for 
us by the French navy yard and by private concerns; never- 
theless, current repairs and casualties increased to such an 
extent that the establishment of a repair station on shore 
became imperative. 

In April, 1918, therefore, a survey of the situation was 
made. It was decided to ship from the United States the 
necessary buildings, tools, equipment, supplies and personnel, 
to erect and operate three shops. One of these was to be 
located at Brest, one at Lorient, and one at Pauillac.. 

An outline list of the requirements for each of the three 
proposed stations was cabled to the United States. The task 
of assembling the material and personnel was begun about 
June 1, 1918. An organization to expedite the necessary ship- 
ments was established in Washington. Small organizations 



72 The American Navy in France 

were established in the navy yards at New York and Phila- 
delphia to receive the material as it was delived from contrac- 
tors and from the navy yards, to obtain the necessary ship- 
ping space and to see that shipments were made expeditiously 
and in an orderly manner. 

The first consignments of material reached France about 
September 15, 1918. The last consignments, although these 
did not complete the delivery of all the material required for 
the repair shops, arrived about December 5, 1918. When the 
armistice was signed, the shipment of the small quantity of 
material remaining undelivered was cancelled by cable. 

THE REPAIR SHOP AT PAUILLAC 

On account of the proposed location of the Pauillac shop, 
and the fact that power and other conveniences of the French 
navy yard were not available for our use, it had been decided 
to make the Pauillac shop building portable and to 'have the 
whole outfit self-sustaining. But as there was a large aviation 
repair shop at Pauillac and large commercial plants at Bor- 
deaux — it was eventually decided not to erect shops for our- 
selves at Pauillac but to hold shops and their equipment ready 
for installation and use at any point where war activities 
might make additional repair facilities necessary. 

About two-thirds of the Pauillac shop material had been 
delivered at that place and held in storage. The remainder 
of the material, including the buildings themselves, w^s de- 
livered at Brest. The buildings were erected as part of the 
Brest repair shops. It will be seen, therefore, that the 
Pauillac repair shop was never erected. 

THE REPAIR SHOP AT LORIENT 

It was originally intended that the repair facilities at 
Lorient should be very extensive. But, owing to the fact that 
the contemplated assignment of naval vessels to Lorient did 
not take place, it was soon found that the only facilities act- 
ually needed were such as would be sufficient to care for the 
ten mine-sweepers basing on that port. 

Then the French had assigned for our use, an empty build- 



The Shore Establishment 73 

ing about forty feet wide by sixty feet long, together with a 
plot of ground capable of holding a repair shop one hundred 
and forty feet long by sixty feet wide, a small storehouse, 
garage, latrines, and so forth. In addition, they had turnecl 
over an old storehouse for taking care of the repair shop 
supplies. 

By September 15, 1918, a few tools obtained from the French 
and from the Army had been connected up in the building 
assigned by the French. The only addition made to this 
equipment was some machinery that arrived for this shop. 
This, with the assistance of the French navy yard, proved 
ample to meet the requirements of the U. S. Naval work at 
Lorient. The greater part of the tools and the shop buildings 
originally intended for Lorient were delivered at Brest in the 
latter part of November, 1918, and owing to the cessation of 
hostilities, were returned to the United States soon after. 

THE REPAIR SHOP AT BREST 

Owing to the fact that the two repair ships were stationed 
at Brest, it was not originally intended that the repair shop 
to be installed at this base should be as extensive as those 
designed for the other two bases. But the increase of ship- 
ments of men and material for the American Army through' 
this port soon made it evident that the repair shop here should 
be the largest and most extensive of all. 

About September 3, 1918, therefore, steps were taken to 
erect here not only the buildings planned for this place but, 
also, those which were originally designed for erection at 
Pauillac. 

A small temporary shop and garage for the base had been 
installed and was in operation. This covered two lathes, a 
shaper, a drill press, and a two-wheel grinder. There was, 
also, a small blacksmith shop. 

The ground provided for us by the French was situated 
at the end of the Laninon Tunnel, between the tunnel and 
the nine-hundred-foot drydock of the French arsenal — not yet 
in operation. The site was covered with dredgings from the 
drydock entrance, and required an average cut and fill of 



74 The American Navy in France 

about six feet in order to bring it level for the erection of 
buildings. The plot was triangular in shape, four hundred 
and twenty-seven feet by two hundred and forty-six feet by 
four hundred and eighty-three feet. The levelling was done 
by the personnel of the Repair Unit, assisted from time to 
time by laborers from the Army, and by German prisoners. 

The personnel received by the Repair Unit at different 
times between June 18 and November 30, 1918, amounted .to 
about five hundred and forty men in all. Of these about one 
hundred and forty six were deflected to other stations or to 
other duty, so that there were left about three hundred and 
ninety four men available for our work. The men lived at 
Brest Air Station and at Carola Barracks under the com- 
manding officers of those stations. Even this entire number 
was not actually available for shop work, because about sixty 
or seventy five men were detailed to various duties not con- 
nected with repairs or the construction of shops. 

Erection began on September 15 with the raising of the 
first columns of the steel storehouse — this was one hundred 
feet long by twenty five feet wide. Columns of the main shop 
building — sixty feet by two hundred feet — were raised soon 
afterward. From that time to November 24, erection was 
continuous. 

By November 24, 1918, the following buildings were 
finished ; one storehouse, one hundred feet by twenty five 
feet, complete with bins; one main steel shop building, two 
hundred feet by sixty f^t; one two-story steel electric shop, 
one hundred feet by twenty five feet; one plate-and-forge 
shop, one hundred and twenty five feet by twenty five feet; 
one wooden office building, sixty feet by forty feet. There 
were various small buildings in addition. 

On November 24, 1918, orders were received to discon- 
tinue the erection of buildings and the installation .of 
machinery. 

Besides the erection work done by it, the Repair Unit 
cared for the below-enumerated major items of work during 
this period: 

(a) Temporary repairs to the MOUNT VERNON, tor- 



The Shore Establishment 75 

pedoed September 5, and in drydock at Laninon 
from September 7 to October 9. In this task the 
unit was assisted by the French Arsenal. The total 
number of man-hours credited to the unit for the job, 
including the time of men assisting on plates in the 
French plate-shop, was twenty nine thousand, four 
hundred and ninety. 

(b) Repairs to the LONG BEACH. This vessel had 
been badly damaged and had entered drydock on 
May 24 at Port du Commerce. Work was being 
done by the French but progress was slow. Repair 
Unit men began to assist the French on July 18. 
After the completion of the work on the MOUNT 
VERNON, the men were placed on the LONG 
BEACH job. The repairs were completed November 
19, 1918. The total number of man-hours credited 
to the Unit for this task, including work on the plates 
in the French plate shop was fifty two thousand, 
three hundred and ninety nine. 

(c) Repairs to WESTWARD HO, torpedoed about 
August 18. Repairs carried out by the crew of the 
FAVORITE assisted by the Repair Unit. On this 
job, including work done in the French plate shop, 
the total number of man-hours credited to the Repair 
Unit was seven thousand, five hundred and two. 

In addition to the major jobs listed, numerous smaller 
tasks were handled. Thirty nine motor boats belonging to the 
base and about one hundred and three automobile trucks were 
repaired. The number of principal job orders issued and com- 
pleted each month were : in July, fourteen ; in August, thirty ; 
in September, forty three; in October, thirty nine; in Novem- 
ber, seventy two. 

The liaison section of the Unit looked after the docking 
of about six American ships per month in the French arsenal, 
and after the manufacture of all items needed there that were 
beyond the capacity of the repair ships. 

The ordnance section took care of ordnance material and 
of the testing and overhaul of all depth charges issued to 
destroyers and yachts. 



76 The American Navy in France 

The radio section made all inspections of radio material 
and repaired it when necessary. It also installed all radio 
telephones and radio compasses on vessels operating from 
the base. 

Additional construction for the base was accomplished 
as follows: the erection and fitting of Pare au Due store- 
house for the supply department; the closing in and installa- 
tion of bins in the oil dock storehouse for the supply depart- 
ment; the wiring of all storehouses and office buildings 
throughout the base; the erection of a base garage. 

Too much praise cannot be given to the officers and en- 
listed personnel of the repair ships and repair unit. Under 
the command of Captain F. Lyons and Captain E. P. Jessop, 
the crews of the PROMETHEUS and BRIDGEPORT took 
pride in that no work was too big to undertake and that, un- 
dertaken, it was to be pushed to a rapid and efficient conclu- 
sion. In addition, these ships being always in port, were 
able to give frequent entertainments for the pleasure of the 
crews of the other ships. They took a just pride in the im- 
portance of their work and it was a pleasure to command 
them. The same may be said of the repair unit which, arriv- 
ing later, under the command of Lieutenant Commander N. C. 
Gillette and, assisted by the Fleet Constructor, Naval Con- 
structor, C. W. Fisher, played an important part in the repair 
and maintenance of our force and of troop and store ships. 



Communictttion — 'Megraph and Telephone 77 



Chapter IX 

COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS— TELEGRAPH 
AND TELEPHONE 



Soon after the advent of the United States Naval Forces 
in France, it became quite evident that Navy-controlled 
telephone and telegraph lines would be necessary throughout 
France, but principally along the west coast, where the center 
of naval activities would lie. A system must be provided 
adequate to handle the large amount of communications 
incident to the organization and operation of our forces. 

The first steps taken toward meeting this necessity were 
the placing of naval operators in the principal French tele- 
graph centers, and the leasing of lines for the most important 
naval lines of communication. Operators were stationed in 
the telegraph offices at the Prefecture, Brest; at the Central 
Office, Nantes ; at the Central Office, Paris ; at the Prefecture, 
Lorient ; at the French Naval Commandant's, St. Nazaire ; at 
the Prefecture, Rochefort; and at the French Naval Com- 
mandant's, Bordeaux. 

Communication with the Headquarters of the Force 
Commander at London being most important at this time, a 
line between Brest and London was leased — December, 1917. 
Negotiations were entered into with the French for another 
line between Brest and Nantes; this line would greatly 
facilitate telegraphic communication with naval offices on the 
southern part of the Atlantic coast of France. 

These preparations were only preliminary. In March, 
1918, after a careful review of the situation, it was decided that 
the system of French lines, military and civil, could not ex- 
peditiously handle our communications, and that there were 
not enough lines available for lease to fulfill our requirements. 
The Signal Corps of the American Expeditionary Force was 
by this time equipped, in respect both of personnel and 
material, to undertake the work — decision was reached that 
exclusive Navy lines must be constructed. 



78 Tltc American Navy in France 

The lines already constructed by the Signal Corps for the 
use of the American Army served only a few of the places 
where the Navy was established. Naval air stations were 
being established as rapidly as possible, and they could not be 
operated efficiently without rapid and thoroughly reliable 
communications — each air station must have a telephone and 
telegraph connection with the District Commander concerned. 
The Navy was not equipped to undertake the installation 
of the extensive telephone and telegraph system contemplated 
A great part of the trained personnel of the Bell Telephone 
Company had been recruited into the Army Signal Corps, and 
that corps held nearly all of the available material for the 
necessary construction work. . 

* Representatives of the naval forces in France and of the 
Chief Signal Officer of the Army met in conference. It was 
agreed that the Signal Corps, on request from us, would con- 
struct all land-wires needed by the Navy In France and would 
furnish material for and would install all switchboards. The 
Navy agreed to give assistance in men and motor trucks when- 
ever possible. 

With a view of determining just what construction would 
be required for our purposes, present or future, the Com- 
mander, U. S. Naval Forces in France made a survey of the 
west coast of France in May 1918. This survey showed that 
the lines and private branch exchanges listed below were 
necessary. 

It was planned to establish private branch exchanges in 
the following-named offices : the Flag Office ; the District 
Commander's Office ; the Aviation Headquarters Office ; the 
Carola Barracks; the Beachmaster's Building; the Disbursing 
and Transportation Office. Tie-lines were installed between 
the switchboards and the Army and French central. 
The long-distance lines planned for were : 

One circuit from the District Commander's Office to 

Brest Air Station ; 

One circuit from the District Commander's Office to 

Air Station Guipavas ; 

One circuit from the District Commander's Office to 

Air Station I'Aber Vrach; 



Communication — Telegraph and Telephone 79 

One circuit from the District Commander's Office to 

Air Station Treguier; 

One circuit from the Flag Office to Signal Station Point 

Mathieu ; 

One circuit from the Flag Office to Signal Station Point 

Espagnol ; 

One circuit from the Flag Office to the District Com- 
mander's Office at Lorient. 
For the Lorient District the plans included: 

A private branch exchange in the District Commander's 

office at Lorient. 

A private branch exchange in the Port Officer's office, 

St. Nazaire. 
The long-distance lines agreed upon for the Lorient 
District were : 

One circuit from the- District Commander's board to 
He Tudy Air Station ; 

One circuit from the District Commander's board to 
the Air Station La Trinite, to St. Nazaire; 
One circuit from St. Nazaire to Air Station Le Croisic ; 
One circuit from St. Nazaire through Nantes to Air 
Station at Fromentine, with Air Station at Paimboeuf 
bridged on the line. 
In the Rochefort District the plans covered : 

A private branch exchange in the District Com- 
mander's Office, Rochefort. 

The long-distance lines designed for the Rochefort 
District were : 

Two circuits from the District Commander's Office to 
Royan, thence through a submarine cable laid by the 
Navy to Le Verdon, thence to Pauillac ; 
One circuit from the Air Station at Pauillac to the Air 
Station Moutchic and Air Station Gujan; 
One circuit from Bordeaux to Lafayette High Power 
Radio Station ; Croix d'Hins ; 

One circuit from the District Commander's board to 
Air Station, St. Trojan. 
Our requests for the construction of the lines and for the 



80 77/ r- American Navy in France 

installation of most of the exchanges were in the hands of the 
Chief Signal Officer early in June, 1918. At that time, how- 
ever, the Signal Corps was handicappel by a scarcity of men 
and material due to extensive construction work having been 
undertaken in the zone of the Army's advance ; hence the 
Corps could not proceed with the installation of the Navy's 
long lines until August. Nevertheless, most of the switch- 
boards were set up and placed in satisfactory operation before 
that time : 

In many instances, our air stations were in isolated places, 
so far as communications were concerned. Of course, some 
sort of communication was absolutely necessary from the 
beginning of operations ; finally, many obstacles having been 
overcome, enough French communication lines were obtained 
to tide over until our new lines could be constructed. 

In August, 1918, a Signal Corps battalion was detailed 
to the general vicinity of Brest, Quimper and Lorient, An- 
other battalion was sent to the St. Nazaire-Nantes region, and 
a third to the Rochefort District. To the battalion at Quimper 
there were added two hundred aviation men, twelve motor 
trucks and four trailers, and to the battalion at St. Nazaire 
sixty five men, two trucks and two trailers. 

These naval men were housed in tents and worked under 
the supervision of the Army. With their ever-willing spirit 
and good comradeship with the Army contingent, they did 
excellent work and rendered invaluable aid in hastening con- 
struction. Small groups of aviation men, with the necessary 
motor equipment, were detailed south of the Gironde River 
under the supervision of Army non-commissioned officers, for 
short periods. These men, all former employees of the Bell 
Telephone and Telegraph System, completed the work in 
that district. 

Not long after the signing of the armistice, there had 
been completed approximately seven hundred and fifty miles 
of telephone wires all simplexed for telegraph. This construc- 
tion included the laying of a four-conductor armored sub- 
marine telephone cable, five miles long, across the mouth of 
the Gironde. It included, also, the finishing of the following 
telephone and telegraph circuits : 



Communication — Telegraph and Telephone 81 

Circuit Route Mileage 

1. Araachon to Moutchic to Pauillac to District Com- 
mander Rochefort 145 

2. Pauillac to Bordeaux 40 

3. Pauillac to District Commander, Rochefort 80 

4. St. Trojan to District Commander, Rochefort 22 

5. Fromentine to Nantes to Port Officer, St. Nazaire 95 

6. Paimboeuf to Circuit No. 5 18 

7. Le Croisic to Port Officer, St. Nazaire 24 

8. He Tudy to Civil Central, Quimper 25 

9. Guipavas to Army Central, Brest 8 

10. L'Abervrach to Army Central, Brest 30 

11. Brest Air Station to District Commander, Brest 4 

12. Flag Office, Brest to Pt. Saint Mathieu 25 

13. Flag Office, Brest to Pt. Espagnol 6 
(This circuit necessitated the laying of one and a 

half miles of submarine cable) 

14. Brest to Lorient 105 

15. T.orient to St. Nazaire 90 

From a lodal service viewpoint, the naval establishments 
in all places were well served. In Brest all naval offices were 
well supplied with telephones from any one of which any 
other telephone, either Army or Navy, could be reached. 

A small telephone private branch exchange was installed 
on the PROMETHEUS and the BRIDGEPORT. These 
ships were served by submarine cable. 

At Le Verdon, there was communication through sub- 
marine cable to the French station-ship. There was, also, a 
cable connection for both telephone and telegraph to the 
MARIETTA stationed at Port Haliguen, Quiberon. 

Facilities for handling the telegraph business of the Navy 
were particularly good on the west coast of France. The Navy 
had a direct duplexed telegraph connection to the London 
Navy Office — this line was a French lease routed to Havre. 

The Navy leased from the French a telegraph circuit 
from Brest-Lorient-St. Nazaire. In addition, the Navy 
circuit of Brest-Lorient-St. Nazaire was simplexed. Thus, 
we were provided with two telegraph circuits to these points. 

The Navy, also, had the exclusive use of an Army circuit 



82 The American Navy in France 

from Nantes to St. Nazaire, and of an Army circuit from 
Nantes to Rochefort. From Rochefort there were both Army 
and Navy circuits to Bordeaux. All air station lines were 
simplexed for telegraph, and this arrangement, together with 
the alternate route in many instances through French lines, 
gave us a complete, reliable and satisfactory telegraph system 
over the entire west coast of France. 

When the armistice was signed, the work on all unfinished 
telephone construction to air stations was suspended. This 
prevented the completion of the circuit to Treguier, La 
Trinite, Gujan and He Tudy. The He Tudy circuit, however, 
was completed into the Civil Central at Quimper. 

The system, therefore, was nearly finished as originally 
planned. The one missing link was the covering of the 
distance from Nantes to Rochefort. This span, however, was 
connected by the Army leased circuit which was available for 
the use of the Navy almost continually. There was, there- 
fore, no appreciable lack in the naval communication systems 
throughout the west coast of France. 



Communication Systems — Radio 83 



Chapter X 
COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS— RADIO 



The development of communication by radio definitely 
divides itself into certain periods. 

I. JULY 14. 1917. to SEPTEMBER 15. 1917 

Operations consisted in the so-called Area Patrol. Patrol 
vessels searched a certain area for submarines within that 
area. And they escorted vessels crossing that area until they 
were relieved by the patrol charged with the adjoining area. 
When the escort vessel had proceeded twenty miles beyond 
its prescribed area, the ship being escorted proceeded alone 
if the adjoining patrol were not met. If the cargo of the 
escorted vessel were of sufficient value, the escorting ship 
might continue to give protection. 

Radio communication covered reports from the patrol 
vessels in regard to action with the enemy or in regard to 
sighting him, in regard to making contact with the merchant- 
men and in regard to escorting him, in regard to being relieved 
of the escort duty by the patrol of the adjoining patrol and 
in regard to the neighborhood of the twenty-mile limit being 
reached if the patrol of the adjoining area had not yet ap- 
peared. If a message of the last-named sort were received by 
higher authority, instructions to continue the escort were sent 
to the patrol if the value of the cargo of the escorted ship 
justified such action. If no such instructions were received 
by the patrol, it returned to station and the merchantman 
proceeded alone. 

All radio communication was handled through the French 
system, that is, through radio stations at Kerlaer for the Brest 
traffic, at Penmane for Lorient, at Chemoulin for St. Nazaire, 
at Rochefort Arsenal for Rochefort, and at Le Bouscat for 
Bordeaux. 

As our Headquarters were at Brest, the station there 
handled all communications for American ships. The station, 



84 The American Navy in France 

equipped with an obsolete type rotary spark, five kilowatt ap- 
paratus, was located on a high peninsula south of the Goulet 
entrance to Brest harbor. It was connected by direct telegraph 
and telephone lines to the French Central Communication 
Office. French Patrol Headquarters sent messages by mes- 
senger to American Headquarters across the street. 

Communication was not only unsatisfactory but some- 
times nearly impossible. The French operators were trained 
for the transmission of figures only. Letters could not be 
received correctly enough to be relied on. A communication 
between patrol headquarters and the station required at least 
two hours each way, usually two and a half to three hours. 
When messages were received at the station for transmission 
they were often so garbled that if correctly transmitted by 
radio they would be indecipherable. In the same way, even 
if messages were correctly received in the station, they were 
indecipherable when they reached the American Communica- 
tion Office. 

It took about five hours to transmit a message from a 
ship and to get an answer back, and then it was so garbled as 
to make compliance guesswork on the part of the command- 
ing officer. Qften when the cargo of a merchant ship under 
escort was sufficiently valuable to justify its escort vessel con- 
tinuing with it, the merchantman proceeded alone because 
instructions sent to the patrol had not been received by it. 

The apparatus in the station was contributory to this un- 
satisfactory conditions of affairs. It was underpowered, the 
spark being of such a nature that it was unreadable except 
under exceptional circumstances. Disregarding this point, it 
was recommended that American telegraph and radio opera- 
tors be placed in French offices and stations. 

II. SEPTEMBER 15, 1917. to CX:T0BER 21. 1917 

The convoy system was instituted. Instead of proceed- 
ing independently, merchantmen were formed into convoys, 
and the convoys were escorted by destroyers and patrol 
vessels. Troop transports were formed into groups escorted 
by destroyers from Queenstown. Outgoing troopships and 
cargo ships were sent in convoys of three to five ships, es- 



Communication Systems — Radio 85 

corted by French or American Forces to eight and ten de- 
grees west before being allowed to proceed independently. 
Radio communication covered reports from the Chief of Escort 
of the convoy in regard to the time of arrival at a designated 
offshore position, in regard to the number of ships in the con- 
voy, and in regard to the name of the Chief of the Escort. 
Such reports would be answered by instructions to proceed to 
the designated landfall position where the convoy would be 
met by the patrol vessel and would be piloted into port. 

There was no change in the system of handling messages, 
except that Patrol Headquarters were moved to the Flag 
Office in Brest, near the Central Communication Office. To 
this it vl^as connected by direct wire manned by French 
operators. The delay caused by the former messenger service 
was eliminated — it became possible to determine the progress 
of communication by means of service messages to the station. 

The time required for the receipt of a message from a 
ship and for notice that a ship had received a message was re- 
duced from five to six hours to three to four hours. Better 
operators were placed on landwires so that approximately 
fifty percent of the messages received could be decoded 
correctly. 

But many delays in repetitions and in original receipt 
caused convoys to miss contact with the pilot vessel or to lie 
off the coast in submarine-infested waters waiting for the 
instructions in regard to their landfall position. The code 
then in use for Inter-allied communications AFR in letters, 
was so ciphered that a mistake in the transmission or in the 
reception of one or two letters often prevented the decoding 
of the entire message. A request for repetition would be 
necessary in nearly every such instance. 

The absolute necessity for the installation of American 
operators in French stations was pointed out to the staff of 
the Atlantic Fleet when the staff made a visit of inspection 
about September, 1917. 

It was recommended that a receiving station be installed 
in our headquarters building. Permission was obtained from 
the French authorities to run antenna to high buildings near 



86 The American Xavy in France 

the Flag Office.. But installation was not considered necessary 
and was not undertaken. However, material was collected 
from ships having sufficient spares so that work could be 
begun immediately when authorized. 

III. OCTOBER 21. 1917. to NOVEMBER 15. 1917 

Operations continued to be of the same character as in 
the preceding period. The importance of Brest as a base in- 
creased because of the placing of the large ex-German ships 
in commission and because of the attachment of destroyers 
to our naval forces in France. 

Preparations were made by the French to replace the 
radio station at Kerlaer by a more modern station at Mengam 
on the north shore of the Goulet entrance to Brest. The 
apparatus from Kerlaer was to be moved to Mengam, and a 
transmitter of twelve kilowatt power and more modern type 
was to be installed. This newly-chosen site, being on the 
same side of the harbor as Brest, it would permit of better 
telegraphic communication with the station — the former cable 
was frequently out of commission for hours at a time. 

The French operators improved slightly in their ability 
to receive and transmit letter codes so that a large proportion 
of messages could be deciphered when received. 

Orders were given for the installation of a receiving 
station at the Patrol Headquarters. This installation was 
made. The first message was received at six-thirty p. m. on 
October 22, 1917. 

The antenna was about two hundred and fifty feet long, 
two wire, and stretched from the roof of the Credit Lyonnaise 
Building across an open garden to a lightning rod on the roof 
of the next building. The height was about one hundred and 
twenty feet from the ground. 

The station apparatus was a Marconi type 106 receiver, at 
first. However, this proved unsatisfactory, and it was replaced 
by a Telefunken type E-5 received from the PANTHER. 
A detector stand type 155-A and one telephone head set were 
obtained from the KANAWHA II. Operators were trans- 
ferred from the CAROLA IV which was at this time surveyed. 



Communication Systems — Radio 87 

found unseaworthy and assigned as receiving ship at Brest. 

The good effect of the establishment of this station was 
immediately shown in the improvement in radio communica- 
tion. It is true, that, on account of the nature of the 
antenna, messages from a ship could be received only when 
the ship was not more than about twenty miles from the 
harbor entrance; nevertheless, the ability to hear the station 
on Kerlaer made it possible for headquarters to follow the 
course of any communication and to know when messages 
had been received. When interception of a message showed 
that it was being wrongly transmitted, corrections could often 
be sent by telegraph to the station without waiting the ship's 
request for correction. Further, many messages transmitted 
from points close in were copied direct with a consequent gain 
in time and in the accuracy of reception. From twenty-five 
to forty messages a day were intercepted with this installation. 

The fact that the telegraph in the building and the radio 
were using a common ground caused some service interfer- 
ence. This was due, also, to there being a certain amount of 
induction in the antenna which was surrounded by a network 
of wires from the Brest telegraph office. 

The immediate usefulness of the station showed that, 
when improved, the installation would go far toward better- 
ing radio communication. The naval authorities having 
granted permission to stretch antenna to high points in the 
vicinity of the Flag Office, steps were taken to secure antenna 
wire and apparatus from different ships for the purpose of 
increasing the efficiency of the station. 

IV. NOVEMBER 15, 1917, to MARCH 1. 1918 

The nature of the operations continued to be the same as 
before ; but the increase in the number of troops sent from the 
United States and the increase in the number of ships made 
accurate communications by radio an absolute necessity. 

The construction of the new station at Mengam proceeded 
rapidly — the station was expected to be in operation by the 
first of January, 1918. Apparatus was gathered and on Novem- 
ber 15, 1917, a large antenna was installed from the Flag 
Office to the tower of the Church of Saint Louis. The antenna 



88 The American Navy in France 

was single wire, eight hundred and fifty feet long, bearing 334° 
from station, led over slate and tin roofs, average height above 
ground about one hundred and thirty feet. The same receiv- 
ing apparatus was maintained. 

Improvement in reception was immediate and beyond 
expectations. The number of messages received increased 
from twenty to forty per day to one hundred to one hundred 
and ninety four per day. For three months during which 
careful records were kept of the number of messages, the 
average was one hundred per day. 

Delay in the transmission from station to ship being elim- 
inated, rapidity of radio communication increased fifty per 
cerrt. The problem of decoding messages was solved because 
with efficient receiving nearly all messages could be decoded 
directly. During this period, the best time for the reception 
of a message from a ship at sea and getting an acknowledg- 
ment from the ship that the answer had reached her was fifty 
four minutes. Of this time, thirty five minutes was required 
for transmission from the Flag Office to the station. 

Permission was obtained for the installation of distant- 
control of the station at Mengam from the Flag Office, and 
the necessary material was requested from the United States. 
A similar station was installed at St. Nazaire for the naval 
port officer at that point — with good results. 

The French Ministry of Marine approved the placing of 
American naval personnel in Mengam, Penmane, (Lorrent), 
Chemoulin, Rochefort and Bordeaux. The understanding 
was that if American operators were permitted in these 
stations they would handle work for American ships only ; all 
tuning of the receiver would be done by French operators ; 
French operators were to be in charge of the stations at all 
times, and if necessary, they would take charge of the hand- 
ling of any communication whether American or not. While 
these conditions were not satisfactory to us. yet any arrange- 
ment which would place skilled American personnel in the 
stations was considered a step in the right direction. 

Operators arrived from the United States in November — 
they were assigned to the station at Le Bouscat on December 
23, 1917, and to the station at Chemoulin about January 20, 



Commviiication Systems — Radio 89 

1918. Operators were detailed for transfer to the station at 
Mengam when that station should be completed and quarters 
provided. 

Need frequently arose on board merchantmen for broad- 
casting calls of distress and for broadcasting information in 
regard to the locations of submarines ; yet, merchantmen often 
reached French ports with their radio in bad condition. The 
prime importance of radio for merchant shipping made neces- 
sary the establishment of facilities for radio repairs in the 
ports where supply-ships and troop transports were dis- 
charged. 

Repair bases were established in Brest during the first 
week of November, 1917; in St. Nazaire about December 1, 
1917; and in Bordeaux during the first part of January, 1918. 
These bases were placed in charge of a commissioned officer 
or a radio gunner who was given such personnel as was 
available. Material for even the simplest repairs was scarce; 
but each base was given a certain amount. Inspections of 
radio installations began immediately. Necessary stores were 
requested. In order that future needs might be met as they 
became evident, skilled personnel specially enrolled for radio 
repair work was asked for. 

Permission was obtained for the assignment of naval 
telegraphers in the principal French telegraphic centers. A 
few telegraphers were found among the radio electricians, and 
these were immediately detailed to the Prefecture Maritime 
in Brest and to the Flag Office. The improvement in radio 
communication was immediate — the majority of the messages 
transmitted were correct and, contrary to what had often 
happened before, it became unnecessary to send repetitions 
to the receiving station before such repetitions had been 
asked for. 

V. MARCH 1, 1918, to MAY II, 1918 

The systematizing of the convoys, the increase in the 
number of troops being sent overseas, and the increase in the 
number of ^ships based on the French coast, were the principal 
features of the operations of this period. 

Radio communications covered reports from Chief of 



90 The American Navy in France 

Escort in regard to the time of contact with a convoy or 
group; reports in regard to action with enemy submarines or 
in regard to sighting them ; despatches in regard to changes 
in the routing of convoys on account of submarine operations ; 
reports in regard to the decrease in the number of escorting 
vessels on account of accident ; information in regard to ships 
of cargo convoys not being present when contact was made 
and in regard to the circumstances of such ships leaving the 
convoy; reports from ocean escorts in regard to the time of 
arrival at designated positions. 

During the first part of March, 1918, the French station 
at Mengam was completed and American operators were in- 
stalled there. The French built satisfactory quarters for our 
men. A Chief Electrician, four watch standers, and a cook 
were assigned. 

An improvement in operation was noticed immediately. 

The efficiency of the radio in the Flag Office was increased 
by the addition of a two-wire antenna to the top of the 
Depeche Building. It bore 92 degrees, so that whatever direc- 
tional effect was present could be utilized. It also bore 
directly away from the positions of the greatest amount of 
radio work and ran about four hundred and fifty feet long and 
one hundred and twenty feet high — above a large open park 
in the center of the town. 

Additional continuous watch was established which 
covered six hundred meters with the main operator and copied 
all work carried on on four hundred and fifty meters, thus 
freeing main operators of coast convoy work and, in many 
cases, copying different messages on six hundred meters while 
main operators also copied on six hundred. This procedure 
was instituted because of the great importance of intercepted 
messages — positions of convoys were used by operations in 
routing outbound convoys. 

A schedule was established so that ocean escorts at 
distances from the coast could transmit the times of their 
arrival at ocean rendezvous either by arc or spark apparatus. 

The establishment of a four-place telegraph office in the 
Flag Office so increased the inductive effect that, although 



Comrmmication Systems — Radio 91 

the ranges five hundred to eight hundred miles— at which 
the work was done — required three amplifications on the re- 
ceiving apparatus, yet the constant clatter in. the receiving 
telephones made accurate receiving difficult and had a detri- 
mental nervous effect on the operators. Intercepted work 
was almost as important as regular work for the station. 
Operations continually wanted more messages, there was con- 
stant watching for SOS signals — all these things kept the 
operators under a severe nervous strain. 

This condition was alleviated as much as possible by the 
maintenance of an apartrnent for the radio operators near the 
Flag Office. There, while strictly under discipline in regard 
to liberty, appearance, and so forth — no exceptions being made 
in this direction, yet, they were free from the restrictions in 
regard to sleeping. The apartment was in charge of a radio 
gunner of long naval service and he was responsible for the 
actions of the operators while off watch. 

Condensor, grounds and everything that could be thought 
of, were tried in order to eliminate the induction, but without 
success. Finally, with the view of ascertaining whether or 
not the induction was due to the effect of overhead wires in 
the town, the telegraph office was moved from the building 
and was established in the Army Headquarters building. 
There was an immediate improvement in accuracy of recep- 
tion and in the general range of the work done. 

Establishment of operating bases at Lorient and Roche- 
fort decreased the necessity of having operators at Le Bouscat 
and Chemoulin, but it made vitally necessary the installation 
of efficient centers for the District Commanders in charge of 
the specified districts. With this in view, operators were 
placed in the stations at Rochefort and at Lorient. Receiving 
stations were installed in the offices of the District Com- 
manders and negotiations were undertaken looking toward 
the installation of distant-control for these offices. 

Some difficulty was experienced with our personnel be- 
cause of the fact that the operators were men trained in United 
States radio-schools, without regard to their seagoing ability. 
As a result, from thirty per cent to forty per cent of them 



92 The American Navy in France 

were found to be unfitted for duty on account of seasickness. 
Thus, their operating capacity was not of a calibre to justify 
their being pjaced on regular radio watch on ships at sea. 
Each destroyer was assigned a complement of four operators, 
and each yacht a complement of three. Where space was to 
be had, an additional man or two for training was given. 
Therefore, when a new man was found unfit on account of sea- 
sickness, he was not allowed to resume radio duties until his 
seagoing ability had been thoroughly tried out. In many in- 
stances the men were put back on radio duty. * 

The apparatus for distant control of Mengam was not 
received as soon as it had been expected, so that by the time 
it came the radio repair base at Brest had five repair men, two 
of whom were experts. One of these was put on the work of 
transforming French 150-ohm sounders into relays, and the 
ordinary Morse keys were transformed to back-contact keys. 
Three 10-KW relays arrived from the United States. The 
diagrams for the installation were drawn, and the local wiring 
placed for each station. On May 11, 1918, the first message 
was transmitted from the Headquarters of the Commander, 
U. S. Naval Forces in France. 

The French were naturally indisposed to consent to any 
arrangement which would prevent their operators from con- 
trolling transmission. So, although the signalling circuit was 
a closed circuit telegraph system, the transmission circuit was 
broken and a switch was placed in the radio office. 

The radio repair bases grew with the forces. Men and 
material began to arrive, and bases were established in all the 
ports used by American storeships and troopships. Such 
bases were in Havre, Lorient, La Pallice, Rochefort and Mar- 
seilles. A well defined policy was drawn up and published. 

The Brest base, on account of the number of ships based 
on that port, became an installing center as well as a repair 
tase. All bases were incorporated in the District Organiza- 
tion, al! being under the District Radio Office, with a com- 
missioned officer, a gunner, or a chief electrician in each base. 
Material was still scarce, but, although many points were 
undermanned, its paucity had not delayed the operation of 
any base. 



Communication Systems — Radio 93 

VI. MAY 11, 1918. to CESSATION OF HOSTILITIES 

Operations continued to be of the same nature as before. 
Some changes were made as the convoy system was perfected, 
but radio communication remained substantially the same. 

The beginning of distant-control of Mengam was followed 
by an immediate improvement in radio communication that 
originated with the Commander, U. S. Naval Forces in France. 
The time from the receipt of a message to the acknowledg- 
ment of the answer was determined only by the time required 
to decode, code, and get the action from the proper authority. 
Usually, it took fifteen minutes to thirty minutes. 

In order to eliminate the immense amount of interference 
on 600 meters, a working tune of 952 meters was established 
and was used by destroyers basing on Brest. The work of 
the Brest Flag station was crippled by the continual induction 
from the telegraph instruments, until September, when the 
telegraph station was permanently transferred to the Army 
office. The increased space acquired made it possible to move 
the radio apparatus into a larger room where it was properly 
and permanently installed. 

Communication was established with the Azores. This 
could be carried on only at night but it was useful for re- 
ceiving reports from ships at sea beyond the ordinary range 
of the coast stations. 

Distant control was installed for the District Commanders 
with the Penmane radio station, Lorient, and with the station 
at Rochefort. . These two installations were entirely satisfac- 
tory, and viewed from every point, there was general improve- 
ment in communication by radio. 

Schools were opened in Rochefort and in Brest. There, 
operators from the United States and new material selected 
from the ships were given intensive training. 

Men trained in high power work arrived. They were 
sent to the French transmitting stations for trans-Atlantic 
work at Lyons and at the receiving centers at Palaiseau, Place 
de Rousillon, and Orleans. In October, 1918, they were all 
transferred to Poitiers to man the main French receiving 
station there. When hostilities ceased, we had four sets of 



94 The American Navy in France 

men there being trained for the operation of the Lafayette 
station when it should be completed. 

Material and personnel continued to arrive for the repair 
bases. A new base was established at Cherbourg. The in- 
crease of the force at Brest to two gunners and seventeen men 
was made necessary by the receipt of radio-compasses and 
radio-telephones for ships. 

Telephones were installed as rapidly as possible. When 
most of them were ready on the destroyers as well as in the 
Flag radio station and at the base headquarters, the greater 
part of the visual signs were transmitted by this medium, 
with good results. It was found that it did not interfere 
greatly with radio telegraphic communication on other wave 
lengths than 600 meters. 



Salvage Operations 95 

Chapter XI 
SALVAGE OPERATIONS 



At a meeting of the Salvage Committee of the Allied 
Naval Council early in 1918, it was agreed that the United 
States would furnish five salvage vessels as that country's 
contribution toward the salvaging of ships sunk by torpedoes 
or otherwise damaged in European waters. The vessels were 
to be sent to French, British and Italian waters. 

Owing to the lack of suitable bottoms, this program had 
not been completed at the time of the armistice. 

The first of the American salvage vessels to become avail- 
able was the FAVORITE, originally designed and built for 
salvaging bulk cargo on the Great Lakes. She reached Brest 
on August 5, 1918. 

The FAVORITE not only brought her own salvage gear, 
but she carried, also, such apparatus as could, at that time, be 
obtained in the United States for the other vessels that were 
to be sent over for salvaging uses. An old French hulk, the 
ROMAGNOL, was obtained in order to care for the extra 
material brought by the FAVORITE. The ROMAGNOL 
was anchored in the harbor of Brest and was fitted as a store- 
ship and barracks for the FAVORITE. 

The FAVORITE was at once employed in salvage work, 
and was kept continually busy. So great was the amount of 
work for her in the harbor of Brest and its vicinity, that she 
was prevented from moving to other places. 

In reply to urgent cables the Navy Department stated 
that two additional salvage vessels might be expected in 
January, 1919, and two more in March, 1919. 

After the signing of the armistice, besides the FAVOR- 
ITE and the ROMAGNOL, the salvage section was operating 
the U. S. S. UTOWANA. This ship was altered to fit her 
for use as an auxiliary salvage vessel. These alterations in- 
cluded the equipping of the vessel for towing, the re-arrange- 



96 The American Navy hi France 

ment of her berthing space and holds, so that pumps and diving 
gear might be stowed, and the fitting of hoisting apparatus. 
A small steam lighter, also, was altered in a minor way 
so that she could carry a few small pumps and a complete 
diving equipment, with air compressors and so forth. 

A list is given of the major salvage operations success- 
fully conducted by the FAVORITE. 

S. S. WESTWARD HO. Torpedoed No. 1 hold, 6" 
pumps in chain locker, fore peak and No. 2 hold prevented 
the vessel from sinking. Vessel kept afloat until sufficient 
cargo was discharged from No. 2 hold to give safe free- 
board. Bulkhead shored as cargo was removed. FAV- 
ORITE did heavy hoisting of the deck load. 
U. S. S. WEST BRIDGE. Torpedoed twice. Pumps in 
No. 1 hold where there were 12 feet of water. Pumped 
down until vessel had safe freeboard. Cargo removed, 
bulkheads shored and wooden cofferdam placed over 
damage, about 90 feet long. 

U. S. S. MOUNT VERNON. Installation of 6" pumps 
as precautionary measure, wrecking section in charge of 
pumping double bottoms, etc., which, together with other 
measures taken, removed free water from deck, increased 
freeboard about 24" and brought vessel to upright position 
ready for docking. 

S. S. CELEBES. Vessel on fire. Burnt hold with oxy- 
actylene to flood No. 2 hold. Installed pump to flood hold 
and 6" salvage pump to pump out engine room. Fire ex- 
tinguished. Vessel pumped out, portions of cargo re- 
moved. Heavy hoisting by FAVORITE. 
Other important jobs were done on the steamer AU- 
SABLE, the steamer NIJINI-NOVGOROD, the tug SAN 
LUIS, the steamer LAKE DAMITA, the steamer RERESBY, 
the torpedo-boat destroyer CONNER and the steamer 
SUSANNE ET MARIE. 

A number of launches and small water craft were rescued 
and salvage gear was lent the French for a wrecking job at 
Havre. 

The principal duty of the salvage section was to prevent 



Salvage Operations 97 

sinkings. The secondary duty was to raise vessels already 
sunk or to salvage their cargoes. 

The energy and ability of the officers and men charged 
with this work was notable. 

The work primarily was under the direction of the Force 
Constructor, Naval Constructor C. W. Fisher, Assistant 
Naval Constructor W. W. Wootherspoon, U.S.N.R.F., an 
officer of wide experience in salvage work in civil life who 
volunteered for service during the war, Lieutenant S. Danan- 
hower, U.S.N.R.F., a graduate of the Naval Academy who 
had left the service to engage in salvage work in civil life, and 
Lieutenant (jg) H. E. Snow, U.S.N.R.F., also an officer of 
wide salvage experience in civil life. 

They undertook any and all work most cheerfully. 
Frequently, they had to leave an un-completed job to under- 
take emergency work of a more important nature. During a 
long period of time they laughingly said they counted on and 
averaged a new piece of work every six days. 



98 The American Navy in France 

» 

Chapter XII 
HOSPITAL ACTIVITIES 



Hospital facilities in France developed along two distinct 
lines. First, provision had to be made for handling the sick 
and wounded that might be received from the ships basing on 
the French coast and from the transports arriving from 
America. Second, the sick from the aviation stations must 
be cared for. 

At an early date it was decided to establish a series of 
naval bases on the French coast, each of these had to be equip- 
ped with facilities for the handling of the sick and the 
wounded. The first dispensary and sick-bay to be established 
was at Brest. 

Lieutenant-Commander H. A, Garrison, Medical Corps, 
U. S. Navy, arrived in June, 1917, and secured the use of a 
part of a Roman Catholic school which had formerly been 
employed as French Convalescent Hospital Number Nine. 
In this, he established a small hospital. It developed to such 
an extent that by October 1, 1917, it was prepared to handle 
fifty or sixty patients. 

On October 5, United States Navy Base Hospital Number 
Five reached France. It was soon transferred from the port 
of debarkation to Brest, and on November 10th moved into 
a building since used as the hospital. This building had been 
constructed as a Carmelite convent and had been occupied as 
such for many years. Upon the separation of Church and 
State in 1905, the building had been sold and had stood ten 
years vacant. Soon after the war began the French military 
authorities took it for use as a convalescent hospital, and it 
was being so employed when turned over to us. 

Although, by no means suited for the purpose, it was the 
only building available at Brest at that time. Accordingly, 
it was accepted for hospital purposes. 

Satisfactory medical and surgical treatment was given the 



Hospital Activities 99 

patients from the first, but it took several months of hard 
work to develop the hospital itself to a satisfactory condition. 
Plumbing had to be put in, the building had to be painted and 
numerous repairs had to be made and a great many things 
altered. 

In the early days of its work, the number of patients 
under treatment in this hospital was about one hundred. This 
number steadily increased until, on occasions there were more 
than six hundred patients there. Satisfactory laboratory, eye 
and ear, and X-ray departments were developed. Equipment 
of the operating rooms was increased. Finally, the hospital 
could accommodate seven hundred patients and was equipped 
for all standard work. The greatest difficulty experienced 
was in obtaining materials for construction and repair work. 

The commissioned personnel which manned this hospital 
was one of exceptional ability and was composed of a group 
of Philadelphia surgeons and doctors under the command of 
Medical Director H. C. Curl, U.S.N. 

The unit was organized by Surgeon R. F. LeConte, 
U.S.N.R.F., a surgeon of international reputation. Among 
those who formed the unit and who served continuously at the 
hospital or as operating teams at the front, following the 
great enemy and Allied drive of 1918, may be mentioned 
Surgeon J. E. Talley, U.S.N.R.F., Passed-Assistant Surgeons 
H. C. Cleaver, U.S.N.R.F., P. M. Kerr, U.S.N.R.F., B. B. V. 
Lyon, U.S.N.R.F., G. G. Ross, U.S.N.R.F., J. L. Herman, 
U.S.N.R.F., and Dental Surgeon G. D. B. Darby, U.S.N.R.F. 
Surgeon R. D. Jones, U.S.N.R.F., went from this hospital to 
command our hospital at Lorient. 

The preliminary work of organizing our hospital facilities 
was done by Surgeon H. A. Garrison, U.S.N., who afterwards 
served as Executive Officer of the hospital, and later, went to 
command the hospital at Pauillac. 

The work of the above officers, many of whom were above 
the usual age of military service, was not only a most efficient 
but a most devoted, cheerful and self-sacrificing one. 

A naval hospital became necessary at Lorient on account 
of the number of patrol vessels and mine-sweepers basing at 



100 The American Navy in France 

that point. On August 26, 1918, a large residence was secured 
in the suburbs of Lorient and converted into a hospital. This 
was completely equipped for all ordinary work, and could care 
for one hundred and fifty patients. 

A naval hospital at Pauillac was the outcome of the in- 
creased needs of that station and of the district surrounding 
it. Pauillac was the largest of the naval aid stations in 
France — from the first it was obliged to handle a large number 
of sick from the adjacent stations. 

Through the Red Cross, a chateau about four miles from 
Pauillac was secured for use as a hospital. On account of the 
distance of this chateau from the station, of the inconvenience 
in handling the patients, and of the emergency work to be 
done where so much construction was underway, it was found 
advisable to establish a hospital at the station itself. 

The first development was made by obtaining several 
barracks and remodeling them for hospital purposes. But 
during September, 1918, it became evident that, if hostilities 
continued, a still more satisfactory arrangement would be 
needed. Therefore, two large stone barracks in the immediate 
vicinity of the station were turned over to the medical depart- 
ment and their fitting out as a hospital was imrnediately begun. 

These buildings became equipped to handle two hundred 
and fifty patients and were practically complete in every way. 
A satisfactory, although small, X-ray outfit was supplied ; the 
surgical equipment was completed, and the hospital was put 
in good condition. There were fourteen doctors on the 
medical and surgical staff and forty six hospital corpsmen 
on duty there. 

Each of the fifteen aviation stations, including stations as 
well as patrol plane stations, was furnished with a small but 
complete medical and surgical outfit. 

At each station, a suitable building from seventy five to 
one hundred and fourteen feet long, depending upon the size 
of the station, was set aside for hospital purposes. These 
buildings were sub-divided into examination rooms, operating 
rooms, laboratories, storerooms and small wards. 

At some stations a second building was taken over. Dur- 



Hospital Aciwiii^s ' • > • 101 

ing the severe epidemic of influenria.in.Hie earl;^ Ia4l dt- 1918, 
additional barracks were used as wards, the occupants of the 
barracks being moved out. This procedure proved entirely 
satisfactory — no further ward-construction was found neces- 
sary at these stations. 

On account of the activities of the port officers at St. 
Nazaire, Rochefort, Bordeaux and Nantes, it became impera- 
tive that the scope of the dispensary services at St. Nazaire 
and Bordeaux should be considerably increased. A "dispen- 
sary hospital" capable of handling seventy five patients was 
completed at St. Nazaire. A complete small hospital was in 
commission at Bassins in the immediate vicinity of Bordeaux. 
This cared for the sick and wounded from the ships, including 
transports, arriving at Bordeaux. 

It was often necessary to utilize the nearest Army hospital 
in providing special treatment not possible to be given at our 
smaller stations. The medical officers of the Army were 
always very courteous and took our patients for treatment 
whenever we made a request. 



102 The American Navy in Franc/' 

Chapter XIII 
THE CAROLA BARRACKS AT BREST 



A receiving barracks on the French coast become desir- 
able and necessary early in the war, but it was not until 
the autumn of 1917 that plans were actually made for such 
an establishment. The French offered a part of the Chateau, 
one of the oldest fortifications in Brittany for our use, and it 
soon become known as the Carola Barracks. The name arose 
from the fact that the yacht CAROLA" moored near the fort 
was used as an auxiliary, although the headquarters of the 
organization was on shore. 

The buildings turned over to us had several drawbacks; 
a galley without cooking facilities ; windows and floors in poor 
condition; no berthing utilities whatever; no sewer system 
and very little water. 

At this time, it was necessary to carry water a quarter of 
a mile. A pipe-line was immediately laid between the CAR- 
OLA and the Chateau, and the pumps on the ship were em- 
ployed to pump salt water for cleaning and flushing. On 
account of the fort being so high above the CAROLA, another 
pump was found necesary and was duly installed. 

With fifty men from the ships basing on Brest, a part of 
the place was cleaned. A range was borrowed from the hos- 
pital and installed. On February 8, 1918, the Carola Barracks 
was commissioned. 

For a few days the working force slept on the floor — now 
cleaned. It was decided to install standard berths, three feet 
high. No berths were to be had; but old boiler-tubes were 
searched out in the navy yard, and by cutting these to proper 
lengths and welding a clip on the side, a good stanchion was 
made. Smaller tubes were found for side bars, and hammocks 
were used for bottoms. 

As material was obtained, the berthing facilities were 
gradually increased. Later, standard bunks were procured 



The Carola Barracks at Brest 103 

from the transports and the Army, until twenty-three hundred 
men could be housed comfortably. Messing accommodations 
for five thousand men could be arranged, also. 

The sewerage problem was solved by installing a modern 
sewer to the sea. Men awaiting transfer did the work. Sani- 
tary toilets were put in — the CAROLA pump supplied the sea- 
water for flushing. 

As material became available, almost the entire Chateau 
was re-wired. The buildings were repaired and repainted and 
a system of inspections arranged in order that living condi- 
tions might be kept sanitary. Clothes lockers for the men 
could not be had, but mine-cases cut to correct sizes made 
good lockers. Heating was provided by means of small 
stoves — these were purchased when possible or borrowed 
from the Army, Red Cross or the Y. M. C. A. 

The fresh water conditions were difficult at first. The 
natural pressure not being sufficient, to force water up the hill, 
the difficulty was finally overcome by connecting to the small 
Army main that ran to the Port du Commerce and installing 
a steam-launch boiler and pump. We did not receive a drop 
of water from the city in months — nevertheless, we had plenty 
and naval personnel was supplied to operate fresh water pumps 
on the Penfield River line of the Army. 

Amusement features were given consideration. An old 
stable was turned into a combination moving-picture theatre, 
church and mess-hall. Here we had moving pictures every 
night. Divine services were held on Sunday. 

The matter of liberty for the enlisted men presented 
problems at first; but we made an "open gangway" after 
working hours — few men violated this privilege. Cleanliness 
was encouraged by the ^provision of shower baths — a wash 
house with an abundance of hot and cold water for scrubbing 
clothes, and a steam-heated drying room adequate for all 
needs. 

THE MEDICAL DEPARTMENT 

When the Carola* Barracks was placed in commission a 
medical department was organized and given the use of four 



104 The American Navy in France 

rooms. In addition to carrying out its duties at the Chateau, 
this department made daily inspections of the base, of the 
French prison, and of various merchant ships in the Navy 
Yard. It met the survivors of torpedoed vessels and gave 
them necessary aid. It cared for officers and men of the Navy 
on subsistence in Brest. 

The first obstacle that confronted the Medical Department 
was the lack of medical supplies at the base. The American 
Red Cross gave willing assistance in this matter. Besides 
the help received from the Red Cross, the medical officer and 
the members of the Hospital Corps obtained enough supplies 
from various ships and transports to meet the actual require- 
ments until the necessary material arrived from the United 
States. 

In July, 1918, the influenza epidemic attacked the per- 
sonnel of the Chateau. But by the efforts of the Medical 
Corps, aided by the careful maintenance of sanitary conditions 
throughout the barracks, the danger was averted without any 
serious cases developing. 

Later, a dental officer was attached, and a greatly needed 
dental office was put into operation. 

From the time the barracks was placed in commission 
to December, 1918, the Medical Corps staff increased from 
one officer to three officers; from one hospital corpsman to 
ten men, and from treating ten men each day to treating about 
one hundred and seventy-five. 

SUPPLY DEPARTMENT 

When the barracks was organized, the Supply Depart- 
ment representatives included one warrant officer and two 
enlisted men. This force was increased by December, 1918, 
to two commissioned officers, two warrant officers and twelve 
enlisted men. On the first pay day, March 5, 1918, the payroll 
had three hundred accounts — in December, 1918, it carried 
over seven thousand accounts. 

SURVIVORS 

For many months, the handling of survivors from 
torpedoed or wrecked ships formed an important part of the 



The Carola Barracks at Brest 105 

work. The largest number handled in any one month was 
during July, when more than eight hundred men were re- 
ceived as survivors, were outfitted and cared for. 

They always reached us exhausted from exposure, lack of 
sleep or insufficient food. Very few had on a proper amount 
of clothing.. Experience soon taught us that the condition 
of survivors upon their arrival called for three things immedi- 
ately: outfit of clothing, a bath, a warm bed. Without ex- 
ception, these things were supplied whenever the occasion 
arose, and the men were well cared for. 

LAND TRANSPORTATION 

Land transportation at the base was handled by trucks 
and personnel from the Carola Barracks. This work covered 
the carrying of large drafts of men, working parties, baggage 
of all officers passing through Brest, and of all naval supplies. 
For many months only four trucks were available for this 
purpose; as a consequence conditions were uncertain and 
trying when a problem of transportation was to be under- 
taken. In time, however, nineteen trucks were used on this 
work. 

THE BEACHMASTER'S OFFICE 

At first, the handling of small boats attached to the base 
was undertaken by the patrol officer. But on January 20, 
1918, this work became a separate department. 

At that time the beachmaster's equipment consisted of 
desk room in the patrol office, the yacht CAROLA with 
accommodations for fifty-two enlisted men and two officers, 
and five broken-down boats. Four of these boats were origin- 
ally pleasure craft and were unable to stand the work de- 
manded of them. The personnel included one man in the 
office and thirty-six men in boats and on the CAROLA. 
The duty performed comprised eight to thirteen trips per 
day carrying special letters, and transporting heads of depart- 
ments. 

The office grew rapidly notwithstanding the fact that 
considerable difficulty was experienced in getting proper boats, 
spare parts of machinery and general supplies. 



106' The American Navy in France 

In time, the beachmaster had an office of his own. He 
had a baggage and waiting room, telephone exchange, thirty 
boats, his own repair force, carpenter shop, blacksmith shop, 
battery-charging station, gasoline and oil station and paint 
shop. The capacity of the CAROLA increased until it sub- 
sisted one hundred and eight-five men and berthed one 
hundred and forty-seven. 

The beachmaster handled the entire water-traffic of the 
base, of the Flag Office and their various departments. This 
included the air stations, liberty parties for all troopships, 
destroyers and yachts, and visiting ships of all nationalities, 
supplies, baggage, drafts, mail, mines, ammunition — in fact, 
everything connected with naval affairs: When transports 
were in port two or three thousand liberty men were carried, 
and trips of other kinds ran from seventy to eighty a day. 
The records show an averige of four hundred special, letters 
delivered per month. On busy days three hundred landings 
were made by American boats. 

PATROL COMPANY 

The development of the Base Patrol Force was begun 
in the fall of 1917. An organization was needed to maintain 
order and discipline among the naval personnel on shore in 
Brest and to see that, as far as possible, the enlisted men were 
protected from the lawless and vicious influences to be found 
in the town. 

At first, there were only eight permanent patrols at the 
base. These were given the general supervision of the ship 
patrols sent by the ships for patrol duty ashore. But, finally, 
ship patrols were dispensed with entirely and the personnel 
of the permanent patrol force was augmented to handle all the 
work of that sort. The base patrol force grew until it included 
five commissioned officers, fourteen chief petty officers and 
two hundred and fifty men of inferior ratings. 

Originally; the duty of the company was only to patrol the 
city and to prevent naval personnel from entering restricted 
houses and districts. But as the base expanded the work of 
the patrol expanded with it. Guards for stores were supplied ; 



The Carola Barracks at Brest 107 

railroad stations were patrolled. Orderlies, telephone opera- 
tors, traffic policemen, sentries for the navy yard, men for 
liberty tugs and investigators for duties of a special nature, 
were furnished. 

The men were given special training both in matters 
required for their ratings and in their duties as patrolmen. 
The base patrol force was always noted for its smart appear- 
ance and for its careful performance of duty. 

From the time of its organization to December, 1918, the 
force handled approximately half a million men on liberty. 
It made three thousand five hundred arrests, on charges rang- 
ing from trivial offenses to the most serious crimes. It 
consigned, that is, closed to American sailors, more that a 
hundred disorderly houses and districts. It investigated 
approximately four hundred complaints made by the French. 
It looked after twenty five thousand men leaving or arriving 
at the railroad station. It found rooms and apartments for 
fourteen hundred officers. It guarded millions of dollars 
worth of stores belonging to the Navy, with practically no 
loss, whether by accident or theft. 

A report made to the Commander, U. S. Naval Forces 
in France, on December 1, 1918, for the preceeding month, 
gives an indication of the growth of the general work. 
"Total number of men received, which includes 
men received from all sources and for general 
distribution in Europe: 2,855. 
Total number of men transferred to the United 
States and to the general European stations: 
2,269." 

The fitting of the Chateau as a Barracks, its organization 
as such, and its later administration, are a tribute to its 
Commanding Officer, Lieutenant J. D. Pennington, U. S. 
Navy; himself, a former enlisted man of the Navy, whose 
initiative, energy and tact were of the highest quality. 

There was no portion of our command of which we had 
more just cause to be proud than of our shore patrol. They 
were composed of a specially selected body of men, selected 
for efficiency and faithfulness and, incidentally, for appearance 



108 The American Navy in France 

and physique. To see this splendidly set up body of blue- 
jackets patrolling the streets or parading, headed by their 
band, was an inspiration to a belief in the highest meaning 
of the word "American". 

They enforced discipline gently and tactfully as long as 
possible, but when a showdown came there was no trifling 
with them. While they worked in harmony with the Army 
patrol, yet, the handling of all Naval liberty men ashore was 
done by them and not by the Army patrols, and on this we 
were insistent. 

The amusement facilities came under the barracks and 
chief among them were the Naval Band and Orchestra, which 
gave daily concerts, played twice a week in the Public Square 
in the center of the city, for all entertainments and dances 
and at the hospitals, French and American. 

Never was there a band which seemed to enjoy playing 
more. They always paraded from the barracks to the place 
where they were to play and were always followed by a crowd 
of children who were much impressed not only by the band 
but by the drum-major who led it, a fine upstanding type of 
young American sailor. 

The orchestra composed of professional musicians had 
been organized during the war and after playing on tours in 
America came to us for duty. The pleasure and relaxation 
from strains that they gave all hands was not the slightest 
of the tasks performed by our forces. 

In addition, around a nucleus of seven professional actors, 
we built a combined minstrel and vaudeville show which fin- 
ally showed in Paris and was said to have given the best 
service show seen there during the war or following the sign- 
ing of the Armistice. 

Hand in hand with these activities worked the Y. M. C. A. 
and the Knights of Columbus, both of whom maintained 
reading rooms, gave dances, movie shows and entertainments, 
and organized tours about the country for the men. Under 
the Y. M. C. A. was organized a real Navy Hut, in addition 
to the one maintained for the combined services. Our 
relations with them all were most harmonious. 



The Carola Barracks at Brest 109 

Among the women who were with, the Y. M. C. A. and 
who, by their unfailing kindness and thoiightfulness, did so 
much for us, may be mentioned Mrs. Vincent Astor, Mrs. • 
Pleasants Pennington and Miss Harriman of New York, Miss 
McKim, of Philadelphia and Miss Blair of Chicago, also the 
nurses and telephone girls who afforded an example of the 
highest type of self-reliant young American womanhood. 



110 The American Navy in France 



Chapter XIV 

THE WATER AND FUEL-OIL SUPPLY 
AT BREST 



THE WATER SUPPLY 

From the time of the arrival of the American naval forces 
in France — July 1917 — the water situation in Brest was very 
serious. There are three systems in Brest: the city supply 
which comes from wells in the neighborhood and is pumped 
through the city mains ; the French naval supply which comes 
from a point about three miles up the Penfield River and on 
the west side of that stream, and another small supply at 
Quatre Pomps which furnishes drinking water. 

The Commander, U. S. Naval Forces in France arranged 
with the French authorities that they should bring water for 
our use from Trinity and Laneville to Quatre Pomps. This 
work was begun early in the spring of 1918, the French under- 
taking to complete it by June 15, 1918. 

Pipe for this project was ordered from England by our 
naval authorities, but it was never delivered — the pipe was 
furnished by the French. 

The French had only a few men at work and the task 
progressed very slowly. They were persuaded to allow our 
Army to put about eight hundred men on the job. American 
engineers, therefore, started work about July 14, 1918, and 
finished the whole system by September 18th. The flow of 
water developed was not so great as had been expected, being 
only about one thousand tons a day. 

Another project begun by the Army was one with pumps 
at the head of the Penfield River connected with a small 
reservoir. An eight-inch pipe connected this system with the 
French mains on the east side of the Penfield. The Army 
laid a four-inch main from the Arsenal through the railroad 
tunnel to the Port of Commerce, with four-inch branches to 
the different piers used by our vessels. 



The Water and Fuel-oil Supply at Brest 111 

This was finished in May, 1918. At first, it was possible 
to get a fair pressure, but, although the Penfield pumps were 
delivering three thousand tons of water a day, we were able 
to get only from two hundred to three hundred tons a day 
at the Port of Commerce. Apparently, the French were 
using nearly all the water before it reached the Port of Com- 
merce, and the pressure was very bad the greater part of 
the time. 

When the armistice was signed the Army was construct- 
ing a dam and reservoir at Penfield, designed to hold about 
23,000,000 gallons of water. Large pumps were to be in- 
stalled and the water was to be sent through a fourteen-inch 
main to another reservoir of about 2,000,000 gallons capacity 
located near Lambezellec. From the latter reservoir a twelve- 
inch main was to be laid direct to the Port of Commerce, 
with six-inch mains on all the docks used by American vessels. 
Instead of sending the three thousand tons a day through the 
French arsenal, the proposed new pipes would bring it directly 
to the Port of Commerce, thus supplying all the water neces- 
sary for our vessels. 

Proper connections with large manifolds were placed on 
Pier No. 1. Water barges and tugs lay at this pier, and it 
was used as the principal watering station. 

The new pipe line was to be completed to the Port of 
Commerce by January 15, 1919. 

The officer in charge of this work was Lieutenant Com- 
mander R. E. Tod, U.S.N.R.F., who, after serving some time 
as Navigator of the U. S. S. CORSAIR, had taken over this 
work. His energy and ability as well as the ripe experience 
which he brought from a successful business career, together 
with his great tact in dealing with the French, made his 
services invaluable. 

In addition to his efficient performance of duty, the many 
acts of kindness and generosity performed, always most unos- 
tentatiously, will not soon be forgotten by those who served 
with him nor by the French with whom he was associated. 

THE FUEL-OIL SUPPLY 

In order to base oil-burning destroyers on the coast of 



112 The American Navj/ in France 

France, the lack of an adequate fuel-oil supply had to be 
remedied. At the beginning of our operations this was one 
of the great difficulties we had to overcome. 

It was clear that this lack of fuel-oil supply would be felt 
still more keenly as the war went on. A number of the troop- 
ships burned oil. Then, too, when cargo shipments to France 
increased, a number of oil-burning cargo-ships began to arriv^e. 
Many of these vessels did not carry enough fuel for the round 
trip. 

At first, there was d tank capacity of 6,800 tons of oil on 
the west coast of France. This meant that the fuel-oil reserve 
was very small, and, as the demands of the Grand Fleet and 
of the British destroyers were even greater than our own, 
it meant that oil tank-ships were driven to their limit. The 
loss of one of the tank-ships — if one should be assigned to us — 
might prove a serious matter. The fuel-oil capacity of the 
destroyers ran from about 200 to 275 tons. Ordinarily they 
would require at least two-thirds of the amount once a week 
on account of their rate of consumption while on escort duty. 

There would have been such a delay in obtaining material 
in France for the erection of fuel-oil tanks, and the difficulties 
would have been so great, that this procedure was considered 
inpracticable. The Navy Department was requested, there- 
fore, to ship to France plates already cut and punched and 
ready to put up. The easiest way to obtain the necessary 
material was to break down tanks in the United States and to 
ship them to France ready for assembling. 

Although the concrete foundations of the tanks were laid 
by contract, the work of assembling and installing the tanks 
themselves after their arrival, was done by our own enlisted 
personnel, another example of their being able to undertake 
and bring to a successful conclusion any job which came their 
way. 

This plan was followed. At the time of the signing of the 
armistice there was a tank capacity of 28,568 tons at Brest, 
and tanks capable of holding 10,000 tons were under con- 
struction at Lorient, La Pallice and on the Gironde River. 



Activities at Cherbourg , St. Nazaire, 115 

La Pallice and Rochefort 

Barracks were constructed to accommodate over one 
hundred m^n. A hospital, with operating room was built — 
this could care for about seventy five patients. A medical 
liaison officer cooperated with the Army in supervising the 
handling and returning to the United States of Army sick and 
wounded. 

It was at this port that, from June to August, 1918, the 
United States Naval Battery detachment unloaded and erected 
the five units of fourteen-inch naval guns which later did such 
effective work at the front. 

During the time this port office was in operation, it looked 
after the requirements of the constantly increasing numbers 
of naval ships engaged in cargo and troop transportation. In 
August, September and October, 1918, approximately thirty 
ships per month entered St. Nazaire. The cargo carried by 
these naval ships combined with that carried by ships under 
Army charter, brought about 250,000 tons of material into 
port each month. 

September 
Number of ships 

released by A. T. S. 47 

Cargo discharged (tons) 185,551 

Cargo loaded (tons) 2,755 

Troops and passengers loaded 10,290 
Troops and passengers returned 35 

LA PALLICE 

The Naval Port Office at La Pallice was established in 
February, 1918. The original personnel consisted of one 
Ensign of the Reserve Force as port officer, one yeoman, one 
seaman and one coxswain. The original quarters was one 
small room in the corner of a warehouse, the room supplied 
by the French authorities free of charge. 

The port office was operated on this scale for several ' 
months — until the American shipping at the port justified a 
much larger organization. 

By July, 1918, the personnel was increased to seven 
officers and forty-six men. A new building was constructed — 



October 


November 


58 


67 


227,628 


191,419 


1,457 


4,864 


24,390 


8,571 


1,198 


3,477 



116 The American Navi/ in France 

by the enlisted personnel — in a good location near the entrance 
to the docks. This building gave accommodations for the 
port officer and his assistant, for the supply officer; the medical 
officer, the communication officer, the radio repair officer and 
the officer in charge of mines and ordnance. 

GENERAL CONDITIONS PREVAILING 

There were four berths for United States vessels at La 
Pallice. Vessels of fourteen or fifteen foot draft could be dis- 
charged at La Rochelle and Marans, and numerous cross- 
Channel ships were handled at those two ports. For the most 
part, their cargo was coal. 

Only cargo vessels were discharged at La Pallice, and 
their cargo was general, consigned to the Army. When 
vessels arrived, they were visited at their anchorage in the 
roads by an officer representing the naval port officer. The 
port regulations and instructions were delivered to the com- 
manding officer of the ship and general information was ob- 
tained from him. The following data was secured from each 
vessel : the nature of the cargo ; the port of departure ; the 
home port; the number of the crew; the naval personnel on 
board ; the kind and amount of fuel ; maintained sea speed and 
consumption of fuel per day ; port consumption per day ; max- 
imum sustained speed ; the urgent repairs and supplies needed 
and the list of confidential papers. 

The commanding officer of the ship was directed to report 
at the port office in person within twenty-four hours. The 
Army quartermaster was sent ashore with the manifest to the 
Superintendent of the Army Transport Service and the port 
officer was then informed in regard to the probable date of 
entry into the basin. 

The following figures show the increase in the amount of 
tonnage discharged during the five months: July, 1918, 
60,196; August, 58,698; September, 60,644; October, 78,200; 
November, 82,185. 

BALLAST 

Vessels in need of ballast were directed to send in a re- 
quest for the amount desired. A board of investigation would 



Activities at Cherbourg y St. Nazaire, 117 

La Pallice and Rochefort 

then be appointed to determine the amount actually necessary 
to insure the safe return passage of the ship. A represen- 
tative of the port officer and two commanding officers of ships 
— not including the commander of the ship concerned — made 
up the board. 

A request was made upon the Army authorities for the 
amount of ballast that the report of the board showed to be 
necessary. The ballast would be either rock or* iron pyrites 
and would be placed on board ship by the Army. Iron 
pyrites were chiefly used, and it is interesting t6 know that 
this material cost seven francs a ton in France but had a 
market value of two dollars and seventy five cents a ton in 
the United States. Efforts were made to put the ballast on 
board as fast as possible and vessels were seldom delayed on 
this ac'count. 

REPAIRS 

The only repairs that were made, were those that were 
absolutely necessary to enable a vessel to make the return 
voyage. In making repairs, close cooperation was maintained 
with the marine superintendent of the Army Transportation 
Service with very good results. 

The machine shops on United States vessels and on 
United States Army Chartered Transport vessels were used 
as much as possible. For some more extensive repairs French 
contractors wxre employed. Repairs were handled most effic- 
iently at this port. 

Several vessels of the destroyer force were dry-docked 
here and in such instances the port officer made all the ar- 
rangements. Close co-operation with the French authorities 
facilitated matters of this sort. 

Several Shipping Board vessels visited here and the port 
office co-operated with the American consul in regard to re- 
pairs for such ships. 

TRANSPORTATION 

The work of the port office was somewhat hampered 
because of the lack of transportation facilities. The kind in- 



118 The American Navy in France 

dulgence of the French prevented any serious delays in com- 
munication or transportation. 

The office never had a suitable boat for communicating 
v'ith ships in the Rade. 

Convoys were under the control of the French and were 
escorted by French and American patrols. Usually the con- 
voys reached La Pallice roads between seven o'clock and nine 
o'clock in the evening and departed for the north and south 
the following morning between four o'clock and seven o'clock. 
There was difficulty in communicating with these ships and, 
although the French assisted greatly, their boats were in bad 
repair and it was often difficult to obtain one. 

Vessels of the coastal convoy often brought stores from 
Brest to be unloaded and trans-shipped to vessels in the 
Gironde. This necessitated the hiring of tugs from the 
French. French tugs had to be hired, also, to go to the 
assistance of ships in distress. 

It may be noted that the only storage space available at 
this place was lent by the French — the French magazines for 
mines for example — or lent by the naval aviation station. 
Some stores were kept in the American Red Cross building 
for a while. 

The greater part of the time, there were two automobiles 
at hand. These were in constant use for carrying the com- 
manding officer and the officers attached to the station from 
La Pallice to La Rochelle, a distance of four kilometers. 
These trips were made in order to comply with the French 
instructions to report to the Commandant de la Marine at 
Rochelle; to communicate with the American consulate, and 
to acquire prompt information in regard to vessels discharg- 
ing at La Rochelle and Marans, the latter being twenty one 
kilometers distant. 

It was frequently necessary for the port officer to visit 
the District Commander's office at Rochefort in regard to 
courts and boards and to confer on various matters. Officers 
bearing confidential communications had to be sent to Roche- 
fort by automobile, these communications being forwarded 
from Brest by way of La Pallice. 



Activities at Cherbourg ^ St. 'Nazaire, 119 

La Pallice and Rochefort 

COMMUNICATIONS 

A signal station was established in the lighthouse on the 
north breakwater, and a direct telephone connection with the 
port office was made. This station was much utilized by the 
French and American naval authorities. 

In the absence of a call-boat it was necessary greatly to 
depend on this signal station, and because of the fact that 
vessels going north or 'south in the coastal convoy stopped at 
La Pallice and had to be reported to Rochefort and Brest, a 
constant and vigilant watch was imperative. 

For some time the telegraph communications from and 
to the port office were handled over the French landwire. 
The reports of all movements of ships up and down the coast 
were relayed from this office and comparative success was 
attained. Later the Army wire was used — all communica- 
tions were then forwarded by way of the Army Signal Corps. 
Good tele4)hone communication was possible at all times. 
This method of communicating was largely employed with 
Rochefort, while Rochefort was the District Base, for all 
matters other .than those relating to the movements of ships. 

Close co-operation always existed between the port office, 
the naval aviation forces, the Army and the French authorities. 

ROCHEFORT 

The Rochefort District was established on January 6, 
1918, with the arrival of Rear Admiral N. A. McCully on board 
the U. S. S. May. Rochefort was selected as district head- 
quarters because it was already headquarters for the French 
Vice-Admiral, Prefecture Maritime of the Fourth Arron- 
dissement. 

Patrol vessels for escort duty reported in the district; 
the CORSAIR on February 13, 1918; the APHRODITE on 
February 16, 1918; the NOMA on March 14; the WAKIVA 
on January 23; the NOKOMIS on March 11; the GYPSUM 
QUEEN on July 11 ; the PANTHER on August 16 and the 
MARIETTA on September 1, 1918. 

The duties of the District Commander were to establish 



120 The American Navi/ in France 

a close liaison with the French, to administer all port offices, 
to re-inforce the escort for the Outvvard-from Verdon and 
Homeward-to-Bay-of-Biscay convoys, to provide pilot ships 
for troop transports and to do any other duty that might be 
required. A liaison officer was stationed on board the 
MARTHE SOLANGE— his duties were to co-operate with 
the French in making up convoys and in reporting American 
ships. 

A port office had been established in Bordeaux in July, 
1917. Immediately after the organization of the Rochefort 
district, port offices were established at La Pallice and Royan. 
Later, 'offices were set up at Rochefort, Sables d'Olonne, 
Pauillac and St. Jean de Luz. 

The organization was so arranged that it could be ex- 
panded as the volume of business increased. When the arm- 
istice was declared, the organization had reached its high- 
est efficiency. 

COMMUNICATIONS 

All port officers were in direct communication by tele- 
phone and telegraph with the District Commander. The 
District Commander was in direct communication by tele- 
graph with Nantes and Brest. 

A telephone between Brest and Rochefort was entirely 
satisfactory. A complete circuit was made from Rochefort 
via Royan, Le Verdon, Pauillac, and Bordeaux back to Roche- 
fort. Direct telephone lines were constructed by the Navy: 
two lines from Rochefort to Royan, two cables under the 
Gironde to Le Verdon ; two lines from Le Verdon to Pauillac 
and one line from Pauillac to Rochefort. Thus Rochefort 
was placed in direct communication with all offices north and 
south of the Gironde. Direct lines were leased by the Army 
from Rochefort to La Pallice. 

The first cable laid under the Gironde was a four-con- 
ductor, light cable. Later, a double, heavily armored, four- 
conductor cable was laid and proved to be most efficient. 
These cables were spliced and laid with improvised material 
by naval personnel wholly inexperienced in this kind of work. 



Activities at Cherhourg, St. Nazaire, 121 

La Pallice and Roche fort 

Its successful accomplishment showed the versatility of the 
officers and enlisted men of the Navy. 

For the purpose of operating air stations, direct telephone 
lines were built. These connected Rochefort with La Pallice, 
St. Trojan, Arcachon, Gujan and Moutchic. 

The MARIETTA and the MARTHE SOLANGE were 
connected by cable from the fort at Le Verdon. 

RADIO 

A radio receiving station with antenna was constructed 
at Rochefort, the receiving instruments being in the District 
Commander's office. Later, a distant-control was made to the 
"French station at Soubig. This was a great help in operating 
the patrol vessels. 

A long-wave receiving station was constructed. This 
served for intercepted messages and for the press *news. The 
radio establishment was most efficient. 

Radio schools were opened at Bordeaux and Rochefort. 
All operators arriving on merchant vessels were required to 
attend this school and were there given much-needed instruc- 
tion. The operators from cargo vessels were usually inex- 
perienced — they had little training and in some instances were 
wholly incompetent. It was necessary to coach these men, 
and they proved to be apt pupils. 

All radio installation on vessels was thoroughly inspected 
and put in good condition. 

PORTS 

The ports of the district grew in importance rapidly after 
February 1, 1918. Shipping increased, and as most of the 
vessels were manned by the Navy, the details of administra- 
tion increased. Officers on cargo vessels were wholly inex- 
perienced in naval customs and procedure and they had to be 
assisted in many ways. 

Shipping Board vessels often presented a problem for our 
solution. The American consuls were charged with providing 
for their needs but usually w^ere unable to do so. The same 
conditions applied to the United States Army Chartered 



124 The American Navy in France 

After moving from Boston to Provincetown, in groups of 
one or two, on August twenty fifth, the squadron began its 
long trip across the Atlantic to France on the afternoon of 
August twenty seventh, 1917. The HUBBARD and ED- 
WARDS were left behind ; the HUBBARD having sunk along- 
side the dock at Boston and the EDWARDS never having 
arrived from Norfolk. Attached to the squadron was the 
U. S. S. BATH, detailed to carry surplus stores for the vessels, 
also, coal, supplies and gasoline fofr the S. C. patrol boats. Six 
100-foot S. C. boats, manned by the French, were sent to join 
the squadron to be escorted to France. 

A route was chosen with Ponta del Gada, Azores, as the 
first port. The voyage to the Azores was made in almost 
ideal weather. This was fortunate, as it gave the command- 
ing officers an opportunity to become acquainted with and 
organize their ships. Ponta del Gada was reached on Sep- 
tember sixth. The squadron lay in the picturesque little 
harbor for five days, being delayed by slow delivery of coal 
and water, and then, on September eleventh, at 10:00 a. m., 
got underway for Brest, having rough weather en route, which 
made it difficult to keep formation. However, all the ships 
except the BATH were together when the tall les Pierre 
Noire light loomed up in heavy mist on the morning of the 
eighteenth of September 1917. With the WAKIVA leading, 
the squadron entered Brest harbor in column formation and 
moored inside the breakwater. The BATH arrived later in 
the day. After arrival at Brest the Squadron Commander 
received a cable from Admiral Benson, Chief of Naval Opera- 
tions, saying "Well done". 

The journey from the United States to Brest took seven- 
teen days. This is the record for small squadrons making 
passage from the United States to Europe. 

The time the squadron lay at Brest will always be re- 
membered by officers and men as one of the most trying 
through which they passed. Disbanded as a squadron almost 
immediately after arrival, against strenuous protests of the 
squadron commander, the ships were assigned to convoy duty 
with the yachts — a service for which they were not fitted. 
The first convoy work was done on October 1st, 1917. A few 



Actimties of Mine-Sweeping Division 123 

and V. 8. Naval Base Lorient 



Chapter XVI 

ACTIVITIES OF MINE-SWEEPING DIVISION 
AND U. S. NAVAL BASE LORIENT 



Since this chapter concerns principally a squadron of 
mine-sweepers, it is not a record of brilliant exploits; rather 
it is that of steady, continuous, persevering effort during many 
months of war, always in waters infested by mines, with the 
cpnstant knowledge that to touch a mine meant death and the 
certainty that mines sooner or later would be encountered. 
The sweepers in Squadron Four have done their work in the 
Bay of Biscay, on the treacherous coast of the west of France, 
where for nearly a year they swept for mines placed in the 
convoy routes ; cleared old mine fields which had taken heavy 
toll of ships around Belle He and the entrance to the Loire 
River; and safe-guarded convoy routes to safe anchorages; 
also assisting to pilot many gt-eat troopship convoys bound 
for the port of St. Nazaire. 

About the twentieth of August, 1917, the squadron began 
to assemble in the Boston Navy Yard for \he trip across to 
European waters. The HINTON, McNEAL, CAHILL, 
COURTNEY, HUBBARD, BAUMAN, JAMES, and DOUG- 
LAS steamed up from Norfolk, where they had been prepared 
for sea by a small army or navy yard workmen. The REHO- 
BOTH and LEWES arrived from Philadelphia, where they 
had also had their armament of two three-inch guns and sup- 
plies put aboard in haste. The Commanding Officers en- 
countered the most extreme difficulties in securing essential 
supplies and engine room equipment — ^^with the day of de- 
parture drawing close at hand, while the inexperience of the 
crews added to their troubles. All of these ships as well as 
the ANDERTON, which fitted out at Boston, were converted 
Menhaden fishing boats. The U. S. S. WAKIVA, Flagship 
of Captain T. P. Magruder, U. S. Navy, Squadron Com- 
mander, was a converted yacht. 



124 The American Navy in France 

After moving from Boston to Provincetown, in groups of 
one or two, on August twenty fifth, the squadron began its 
long trip across the Atlantic to France on the afternoon of 
August twenty seventh, 1917. The HUBBARD and ED- 
WARDS were left behind ; the HUBBARD having sunk along- 
side the dock at Boston and the EDWARDS never having 
arrived from Norfolk. Attached to the squadron was the 
U. S. S. BATH, detailed to carry surplus stores for the vessels, 
also, coal, supplies and gasoline fofr the S. C. patrol boats. Six 
100-foot S. C. boats, manned by the French, were sent to join 
the squadron to be escorted to France. 

A route was chosen with Ponta del Gada, Azores, as the 
first port. The voyage to the Azores was made in almost 
ideal weather. This was fortunate, as it gave the command- 
ing officers an opportunity to become acquainted with and 
organize their ships. Ponta del Gada was reached on Sep- 
tember sixth. The squadron lay in the picturesque little 
harbor for five days, being delayed by slow delivery of coal 
and water, and then, on September eleventh, at 10:00 a. m., 
got underway for Brest, having rough weather en route, which 
made it difficult to keep formation. However, all the ships 
except the BATH were together when the tall les Pierre 
Noire light loomed up in heavy mist on the morning of the 
eighteenth of September 1917. With the WAKIVA leading, 
the squadron entered Brest harbor in column formation and 
moored inside the breakwater. The BATH arrived later in 
the day. After arrival at Brest the Squadron Commander 
received a cable from Admiral Benson, Chief of Naval Opera- 
tions, saying "Well done". 

The journey from the United States to Brest took seven- 
teen days. This is the record for small squadrons making 
passage from the United States to Europe. 

The time the squadron lay at Brest will always be re- 
membered by officers and men as one of the most trying 
through which they passed. Disbanded as a squadron almost 
immediately after arrival, against strenuous protests of the 
squadron commander, the ships were assigned to convoy duty 
with the yachts — a service for which they were not fitted. 
The first convoy work was done on October 1st, 1917. A few 



Activities of Mine-Siceeping Division 125 

and U. S. Naval Base Lorient 

days later, October fourth, the REHOBOTH foundered off 
Ushant in a heavy sea. The officers and men went aboard an 
English trawler. Then began long weeks of waiting at a 
French navy yard while winches and the French sweeping 
gear were installed on the sweepers. 

In November the squadron was again formed as a unit 
with Captain T. P. Magruder, U. S. Navy, once more in com- 
mand.' On November thirteenth he called a meeting of com- 
manding officers on his new flagship, the converted yacht 
GUINEVERE, and plans were outlined for the future opera- 
tions of the squadron as a mine sweeping unit. 

. The McNEAL, CAHILL, ANDERTON and BAUMAN 
were the first ships to have their sweeping gear installed. 
They left Brest on December third and three days later got 
over their kites near Quiberon Bay for the initial tryout of 
the French sweeping gear. At first, of course, there were 
difficulties, but these ships soon became expert in sweeping 
and handling buoys, kites and knives. As soon as they had 
secured their equipment the HINTON, HUBBARD, 
LEWES, COURTNEY, DOUGLAS and JAMES joined the 
squadron at Lorient. 

By the time the GUINEVERE arrived at Lorient, 
December fourteenth, 1917, the sweepers were ready to sweep 
their first mine fields. February thirteenth, 1918, the sweep 
wire of the ANDERTON exploded the first mine; and on 
the twenty first, the McNEAL and ANDERTON divided 
honors by cutting two mines each, in the mine fields in which 
the S. S. NAN SMITH had been sunk, in May, 1917. 

At the very moment of re-organization and successful 
sweeping accomplishments, the squadron suflfered reverses. 
The BAUMAN was steaming in a fog near Concarneau on 
January twelfth, 1918, when she struck one of the numerous 
rocks that make the region of the Glenans dangerous. Efforts 
were made by the ANDERTON to tow her to port, but she 
sunk before arriving at Lorient and her executive officer. 
Ensign P. J. Ford, U.S.N.R.F., and a few sailors had barely 
time to leave her before she plunged to the bottom. 



126 The American Navy in France 

Not long after this on January twenty fifth, 1918, the 
Flagship GUINEVERE, in attempting to make the port of 
Lorient in a fog, ran on the rocks and became a total loss. 
Continuous effort was made to float the GUINEVERE but 
without success. The equipment was salvaged and the engine 
and boiler will soon be salvaged. 

With this incident ended the casualties; but the work of 
the squadron continued unabated until the end of the sub- 
marine warfare. The ships soon found that sweeping mine- 
fields was not to be their only task. Regular sweeping sched- 
ules, covering the convoy routes from Penmarch to Buoy des 
Boeuf's, were put into effect in cooperation with the famous 
Albatross and other French sweepers ; and then, often on days 
assigned for relaxation and rest, "alios" called the sweepers 
out to reinforce coastal convoys ; radio messages from incom- 
ing troopship convoys sent them hurrying to clear the 
Teignouse Channel and other important passages around Belle 
He; the activity of submarines near Penmarch necessitated 
the night patrol of the waters there with long hours of listen- 
ing-in through the "C" tubes. The grounding of the BEAU- 
FORT and the wreck of the LONG BEACH required assist- 
ance from vessels of the squadron. 

Among the notable achievements of the sweepers was the 
sweeping of a mine field, in July, south of Belle He. The 
HINTON, CAHILL and JAMES swept this field in heavy 
weather and on July seventeenth the JAMES, commanded by 
Lieutenant (jg) John R. Roil, U.S.N.R.F., cut four mines in 
the short space of fifteen minutes. 

The Division Commander, Lieutenant Commander Archi- 
bald McGlassan, U. S. Navy, on the HINTON at this time, 
led his division with distinction, as was his custom at all times. 
The work of the HINTON, CAHILL and JAMES received 
high praise from Vice-Admiral Aubry, Prefet Maritime. 

When the GUINEVERE was lost, the Squadron Com- 
mander, Captain Magruder, found himself without either flag- 
ship or suitable headquarters ashore, and for weeks the opera- 
tions of the squadron were directed with scant facilities. It 
was not until March fourth, 1918, that adequate office space 
was secured in the Inscription Maritime Building of the 



Activities of Mine-Sweeping Division 127 

and U. 8. Naval Base Lorient 

French Arsenal. About the same time Lieutenant Com- 
mander Stevens reported as Senior Aide to assist in the task 
of organizing the Base and the District of Lorient, which 
stretched along the coast from Penmarch to Fromentine. It 
was a continuous struggle with inadequate repair facilities, 
inadequate supplies, insufficient store rooms — even such things 
as typewriters were not to be had. 

The major part of the efficient repair work on the ships 
had to be done by the men on the ships, who were at the same 
time doing the most active service afloat. It was necessary to 
make use of the French machine shops already well occupied 
with French work, for it was onl}5 with the arrival of the 
U. S. S. PETER CROWELL, on October eighth, with con- 
siderable machine shop equipment, that the Base was able to 
have its own machine shop. 

The work of directing and administering the Squadron 
and the Base was facilitated by the arrival at Lorient in April 
of Vice-Admiral Aubry, as the new Prefet Maritime. The 
Prefet Maritime and Captaine de Vaisseau Jolivet, C.D.P.L., 
at all times gave every assistance. The relations between the 
officers of the two services were ever cordial, sympathetic 
and friendly. 

Through the courtesy of the French, patients were sent 
to the French Maritime Hospital for many months, due to long 
delays in the shipment of hospital equipment to the Base. 
With the aid of the Red Cross the Base Hospital at La Perriere 
began operations and received its first patients on August 
twenty sixth, 1918. 

The administration of the Base and Squadron Four was 
at all times carried out in close co-operation with the French. 
Liberty hours were governed by the same regulations as were 
enforced by the French naval authorities. A sweeping sched- 
ule was arranged for the daily sweeping of the coastal convoy 
routes between Penmarch and St. Nazaire. Provision was 
made for the operation of three groups of sweepers, one to 
be composed of American, another of both French and Amer- 
ican and a third of French draggers alone. These groups 



128 The American Navy in France 

swept continuously for eight days and spent three days in 
Lorient resting and taking on coal, water and provisions. 

Just before the signing of the armistice, on November 
eleventh, 1918, the Base was enlarging rapidly, preparatory to 
actively directing all the naval units and air operations com- 
prised in the District of Lorient. The Naval Port officers at 
St. Nazaire, Nantes and Quiberon were already under the 
command of the District Commander at Lorient and the Army 
Signal Corps had completed placing direct telephone and tele- 
graph lines which connected Lorient with the Naval Air Sta- 
tions at He Tudy, La Trinite, Le Croisic, Paimboeuf, and 
Fromentine. Large oil tanks were in process of erection 
which would have perrqitted a considerable number of oil 
burning destroyers and patrol boats to make their base in the 
well-sheltered harbor of Lorient, in addition to the other 
vessels of Squadron Four. 

The operations of Squadron Four had not ceased with 
the signing of the armistice. The sweepers were kept active- 
ly engaged sweeping a wide stretch of water all along the 
coast to make certain that no stray mines were left to interfere 
with commerce. These waters are to be carefully swept to the 
100-meter curve. The Boche were laying mines up to the 
very last days, for, as late as October eighteenth, the McNEAL 
cut a new German mine placed in the path of a troopship 'con- 
voy sailing into Quiberon Bay en route for St. Nazaire. 

At the time of the signing of the armistice the District 
had grown from practically nothing into a large organization 
with Lorient as the District Commander's Headquarters. 
The district extended from the Point of Penmarch on the 
north to the Goulet of Fromentine on the south, comprising 
the Naval Port officer at Quiberon, whose duty it was to 
route convoys to and from Quiberon Bay ; Naval Port Officer 
at St. Nazaire who assisted the Army and the French in dock- 
ing, unloading and routing American ships, and enforced the 
naval regulations at this port; Naval Port Officer at Nantes, 
who preformed duties similar to the Port Officer at St. Nazaire ; 
the Seaplane Station at He Tudy; the Kite Balloon Station at 
La Trinite; the Seaplane Station at Le Croisic; the Dirigible 
Balloon Station at Paimboeuf ; the Seaplane Station at From- 



Artivities of Mine-^^ tree ping Division 129 

and V. S, Naval Base Lorient 

entine ; Squadron Four Patrol Force and Base Nineteen at 
Lorient. 

Squadron Four was composed of the U. S. S. FIQUA, a 
yacht commanded by Lieutenant Commander John Borden, 
U.S.N.R.F., and the mine sweepers: HINTON, commanded 
by Lieutenant Commander Archibald McGlasson, U.S.N. ; 
ANDERTON, commanded by Lieutenant (jg) Walter M. 
Gorham, U.S.N.R.F. ; CAHILL, commanded by Lieutenant 
Home J. Parent, U.S.N.R.F.; COURTNEY, commanded by 
Ensign Harry N. Sadler, U.S.N.R.F. ; DOUGLAS, commanded 
by Lieutenant (jg) Ralph B. Romaine, U.S.N.R.F.; HUB- 
BARD, commanded by Lieutenant Frederick C. Muller, 
U.S.N. ; JAMES, commanded by Lieutenant (jg) John R. Roil, 
U.S.N.R.F. ; LEWES, commanded by Ensign Godwin Wer- 
liin, U.S.N.R.F. ; McNEAL, commanded by Ensign James B. 
Dryden, U.S.N.R.F. 

Base Nineteen was an administrative and supply base. 
The operations of Squadron Four Patrol Force were directed 
here. The administrative offices were located in the French 
Arsenal, the Flag Office being in a building formerly known 
as the Inscription Maritime and the Supply Office being in 
another building near two commodious store houses which 
also had been secured from the French. As there was no 
available place in the Arsenal for use as a barracks, the en- 
listed personnel was housed in three converted hotels situated 
near the Place Alsace Lorraine. There were 260 men q.uar^ 
tered in these buildings. 

A hospital had been established at La Perriere, a suburb 
of Lorient, capable of caring for 150 patients. The main 
building, a large and roomy chateau had been completely 
over-hauled, painted and furnished with showers, toilets, 
electric lights and other necessities. Patients were received 
from all the stations of the District and from numerous sup- 
ply ships which docked at St. Nazaire. 

The Communication Department had developed from a 
handful of men into an efficient system made up as follows : 
Telegraph. The District Commander was connected by 



130 The American Navy in France 

telegraph to Brest, Paris, St. Nazaire, Nantes and all Air 
Stations in the District through the Prefet Maritime at 
Lorient, over the French lines. These lines were already- 
overworked with French official business which made it 
difficult to get necessary American messages through. Amer- 
ican operators had been placed at the French stations to 
handle all American business which brought the service up to 
approximation of the American standard. This line had been 
relieved considerably by a leased line to Brest and Nantes 
which was handled by experienced American operators. An 
all-American combined telephone and telegraph line was com- 
pleted for the Navy shortly after the signing of the armistice 
by the Army Signal Corps. This line connected all Naval 
Port Officers and all U. S. Naval Stations in the District with 
the District Commander. This gave direct, quick and efficient 
service. 

Telephone. A thirty-drop telephone switchboard had 
been installed connecting all American offices at Lorient with 
a connecting line to the French system. This not only gave 
an efficient local telephone service but connections with the 
entire French systems could be obtained through the Pre- 
fecture. A direct line was constructed from Brest to St. 
Nazaire through Lorient. This was not completed until after 
the armistice. 

Radio. An interception station was maintained at the 
Flag Office where watch was kept on two wave lengths at the 
same time by two operators. Official radio messages were 
sent from the French station at Penmane which was operated 
by distant control system from the District Commander's 
communication office. This distant control system was in- 
stalled by the communication force of the District Commander. 

A fuel-oil station had been in the course of construction 
at Kergroise Landing so that oil burning vessels could be 
based on this District. 

A naval prison had been established and maintained at 
Kergroise for the confinement of prisoners received from all 
over this District. 

A machine shop had been put in operation within the 



Activities of Mine-Sweeping Division 
and U. S. Naval Base Lorient 



131 



Arsenal. This shop with its force of sixty men took care of 
the repairs to the vessels of Squadron Four and any other 
naval vessel that touched at Lorient. There was also a repair 
shop in the French hulk "Scorpion". 

* PERSONNEL— DISTRICT OF LORIENT 





Officers 


Men 


Total 


Naval Base Nineteen, Lorient 


35 


260 


295 


Naval Base Eight, St. Nazaire 


12 


49 


61 


Naval Port Ofiice, Nantes 


1 


11 


12 


Naval Port Office, Quiberon 


2 


8 


10 


Seaplane Station, He Tudy 


20 


361 


381 


Kite Balloon Station, La Trinite 


11 


143 


154 


Seaplane Station, Le Croisic 


20 


340 


360 


Dirigible Ballon Station, Paimboeuf 


31 


520 


551 


Seaplane Station, Fromentine 


21 


357 


378 


Naval Hospital, La Perriere, Lorient 


5 


30 


35 


On Vessels attached to District of Lorient 


38 


450 


488 


TOTALS 


196 


2529 


2725 



132 The American Navy in France 

Chapter XVII 
ENEMY SUBMARINES 



Every effort was made to obtain information in regard 
to the present location of enemy submarines. No only so, but, 
by an analysis of their past and present movements and of the 
past movements of other submarines than those at present 
threatening, every effort was made to determine the probable 
movements of enemy submarines in the near future and to 
determine the probable areas where they would be concen- 
trated. 

Information as to the location of submarines was secured 
in a number of ways. 

Whenever a vessel sighted a submarine she immediately 
sent out by radio, at full power, in plain language, the word 
"ALLO", repeated two or three times, with the position of the 
sighting. The word "ALLO" is simply the French word for 
"Hello". 

If the vessel were attacked or in danger she would either 
combine it with the word "ALLO" or send independently 
the letters "S.O.S." If she were torpedoed she would send 
any information which might be of interest. Frequently, 
however, a vessel attacked would sink so quickly that no de- 
tails could be obtained but only the news that, she jvas 
torpedoed and sinking. 

The French had a series of look-outs and signal stations 
covering the entire coast. Special telegraph lines connected 
them to all other stations in their district and to district head- 
quarters. At each station a man was always kept on watch 
with a powerful telescope. 

These stations had orders to report absolutely every- 
thing they saw and heard — the communication was very rapid. 
They reported not only suspicious objects sighted, but the 
movements of Allied ships, the conditions of the weather and 
the sea — in fact, anything that, might possibly be of interest, 



Enemy Submarines 133 

such as the sound of gun-fire or of whistles. 

By means of this system we were enabled not only to 
learn of the possible presence of enemy submarines, but also 
to keep in touch with the movements of friendly men-of-war 
operating near the coast and the passage of convoys up and 
down it. Hence, if a submarine were sighted, we could take 
steps to send the nearest armed vessels to search and attack, 
could divert the convoy to another route or even could turn it 
back if necessary. 

As the war went on, both the British and the French 
established a number of radio stations and plotted the bearing 
of any vessel using its radio. These stations were connected 
by special wire, and there were wires between some of the 
British and the French stations. The result was that when 
an enemy submarine used its radio for communicating with 
another submarine or with its home station, the shore radio 
stations took its bearing. By plotting these bearings on the 
chart the position of the submarine could accurately be de- 
termined. In fact, it was surprising how closely these lines 
would sometimes cross. 

This plotting method had a further advantage: when a 
submarine finished sending, it sometimes signed off with its 
call letter, and thus we were able to trace the movements of a 
submarine for several days and to predict with greater ac- 
curacy its probable movements in the future. 

By plotting the position of all submarines we could arrive 
at a fair estimate as to what part of the neighboring waters 
the enemy was concentrating in for the time. Thus, it was 
made easier for our ships to avoid such areas of concentration. 

No doubt information was also obtained through spies. 
But as this information only reached us indirectly, we had no 
knowledge as to the scope or efficiency of the spy system 
which was, of course, most jealously guarded. 

METHODS USED TO DEFEAT SUBMARINE 
CAMPAIGN 

There were two principal measures which could be taken 
to effect the safe passage of troopship and storeship convoys 



134 The American Navy in France 

through submarine-infested waters. The first measure was to 
elude the submarine. The second measure was to prevent the 
successful attack of a convoy when a submarine had sighted 
or gotten in touch with it, followed by efforts to destroy the 
submarine. 

Naturally, as the safe passage of convoys was imperative 
and no escort could absolutely insure immunity from attack, 
the first measure was more important. Every effort was de- 
voted to routing the convoys through what were considered 
the safest possible waters. 

In the early days of the war it was almost a wasted effort 
to send a destroyer to look for a submarine. The submarine 
could always sight a destroyer or other anti-submarine craft 
long before it was itself seen, and by submerging and then 
listening through detectors could remain concealed until the 
danger had passed. With the development of listening de- 
vices for the use of surface craft, however, it became some- 
what more practicable to locate a submarine. But these 
listening devices never became perfected during the war and 
a submarine running very slowly when submerged was 
almost sure to escape detection. 

Furthermore, the area submarines normally operated in 
was great in extent, and to hunt for them was like looking for 
a needle in a haystack. Toward the latter part of the war, 
special units of sub-chasers under escort of a destroyer were 
sent out to hunt for submarines. Their method was to pro- 
ceed to an area where a submarine was believed to be working 
and there patrol for as long a time as their fuel lasted. 

This method was not very successful, and, although sub- 
marines were located in a few instances, it is doubtful if a 
large percentage of those located were destroyed. No doubt, 
the method did result in driving submarines out of the area 
in which they were working, and so prevented the enemy from 
making a successful attack. 

As the enemy submarine took care to avoid contact with 
anti-submarine craft operating independently of convoy, it is 
evident that the best way for an anti-submarine vessel to 
locate a submarine was to accompany a convoy. By escorting 



Enemy Submarines 135 

a convoy, we achieved a double purpose: — the convoy was 
given the maximum protection and our anti-submarine craft 
were present where submarines were most apt to be 
encountered. 

What we always desired was that when an enemy sub- 
marine was sighted in the vicinity of a convoy or when a con- 
voy was attacked, all destroyers that could be spared should 
leave the convoy and should devote every effort to finding and 
destroying the submarine. But on account of the few 
destroyers available and the vast amount of escort duty re- 
quired, this desirable procedure could seldom be adopted 
without weakening the escort unduly. 

The only weapons possible for a vessel to employ against 
a submarine were the ram, the torpedo, the gun and the depth 
charge. 

It is true that submarines were rammed by various types 
of vessels during the war, but the factor of luck entered into 
the matter as much as did the factor of good judgment. The 
good management lay in skillful manoeuvering when an un- 
successful submarine attack was made. The good luck lay 
in having a submarine appear — to its own surprise and the 
surprise of the attacking vessel — in or near the path of the 
attacking vessel and so close that the submarine could not 
escape. 

A convoy crossing the English Channel between Penzance 
and Brest on a dark night had an experience of the sort indi- 
cated. The 'convoy was a slow one, probably making about 
seven knots an hour and was escorted by yachts and trawlers. 
One of the trawlers was even slower than the other vessels 
and, following astern was making all speed possible in its 
effort to catch up with the convoy. Suddenly, without any 
warning, a submarine loomed dead ahead. Probably the sub- 
marine was pursuing the convoy and supposed convoy and 
escort had passed. Without changing course more than a 
degree or two, the trawler rammed the submarine, destroyed 
it and returned to port — with her bow somewhat damaged. 

The torpedo was the weapon usually employed by one 
submarine against another. No successful results were ob- 



136 The American JSavy in France 

tained in this way by the French submarines off the west 
coast of France ; but successful use was made of this weapon 
by certain British submarines. 

The gun was of little value, as a submarine usually sub- 
merged upon being sighted. When submarines attacked con- 
voys with torpedoes they were seldom seen before the tor- 
pedoes were fired and, unless the ship was isolated and sink- 
ing, was seldom seen afterward. When a submarine engaged 
a ship with gun-fire she remained as such distance that her 
own shots would reach the ship she was attacking while she 
would keep out of range — if she found that the guns of the 
attacked ship could reach her, she promptly submerged. 

The depth charge was the best weapon we had. Not only 
was it being improved up to the end of the war, but the 
means for utilizing it were being improved. 

At first, the depth charge contained an explosive of only 
about fifty pounds weight. Ships carried only about half a 
dozen and were, therefore, sparing in the use of them. The 
number carried and the weight of the charge grew until ships 
were equipped with between thirty and forty, three hundred 
pound charges, capable of being set to go off at various depths. 

The doctrine was established of using depth charges 
freely and of laying them around a position in which a sub- 
marine had been sighted so as to cover the area it might be 
escaping through. As a consequence, hundreds of depth 
charges were used every month. Although the number of 
submarines destroyed thereby may not have been great, yet, 
the effect on their morale was very strong. 

The American officer who was taken on board a sub- 
marine after the torpedoing of the PRESIDENT LINCOLN, 
reported that the next morning, when the submarine was at- 
tacked by the destroyer SMITH, he counted about twenty 
explosions of depth charges. All of these shook the submarine 
to a greater or less degree. The effect on the crew of the boat 
may easily be imagined. 

At the beginning of this sort of warfare, it was necessary 
for the destroyer to reach a position where the submarine was 
supposed to be before the former could drop the depth charge. 



Enemy Submarines 137 

But, eventually, a type of gun was developed which could 
throw the charges some distance, thus gaining time in launch- 
ing the attack. 

Mines were planted in certain sections of the coastal 
waters where it was most probable that submarines would 
operate. The development of the mine was probably one of 
the most important anti-submarine measures, or, at least, 
would have become so. 

ELUDING SUBMARINES 

Convoys approaching the west coast of France and the 
British Isles, at a certain stage of their voyage, would neces- 
sarily pass through a fairly limited part of the Bay of Biscay 
or the Eastern Atlantic. 

For a certain portion of the passage, shipping bound for 
the west, south or east coasts of England, and for the west 
coast of France, would follow approximately the same route 
and it would not be difficult for an enemy to figure the position 
at which the routes would separate. The area near the coast 
through which all shipping had to go may be said to lie 
between 50 degrees north and forty five degrees north, and 
between seven degrees west and fourteen degrees west. 

We had not been long on the coast of France when this 
fact became apparent to us. Once convinced of it, we did 
not find it difficult to adopt a route for our ships that would 
avoid this area as far as possible — a procedure more practic- 
able for us than for the British. 

Our practice was this : when ships were west-bound, we 
ran them well to the southward while still keeping them close 
to the coast of France until they were in the general vicinity 
of forty five degrees north; then we sent them to the west- 
ward. The reverse process was followed for east-bound 
convoys. 

The routes of these convoys and their hours of sailing 
were varied materially. If the submarines were active to the 
northward, the convoys could be brought in and despatched 
farther south. If the area of enemy activity moved south, 
the convoys could be taken to the northward again. 



138 The American Navy in France 

The favorite time for submarines to attack a convoy was 
at dusk and at early daylight. In order that the submarines' 
task might be made as hard as possible, the hours of sailing 
of the convoys were changed from time to time. Thus dusk 
and early daylight would not find them always in the same 
longitude. 

The routing of convoys through the submarine zone was 
materially affected by the movements of other convoys. 
Convoys showing no lights crossed the Bay of Biscay in a 
northerly and southerly direction as well as in an easterly and 
westerly direction. The damage which could be done by one 
convoy running into another was greater than an enemy sub- 
marine could do and would be inexcusable. 

To avoid being compelled to disclose the route of our 
convoys we agreed to route them clear of all British convoys 
provided the British would give us information as to their 
routings and movements. This meant that we would have 
to keep our convoys clear of all other Allied convoys. 

There were sometimes fifteen or sixteen convoys in the 
Bay of Biscay or in the vicinity at the same time, so that 
when combi-ned with the necessity of keeping our convoys 
clear of submarines as far as possible, the problem was a 
difficult one. 

The practice of routing convoys well to the southward 
was varied by sending them well to the northward when that 
particular area appeared to be fairly clear of submarines. 
This method of sending convoys east and west by a round- 
about route had disadvantages : it kept them longer in the 
submarine zone and it kept our escorting vessels at sea a 
longer time. Then, too, the procedure increased the fuel con- 
sumption — which always had to be watched carefully — and 
decreased the time of their stay in port, a time utilized for 
rest by the personnel and for the upkeep of the materiel. 
However, the advantages far outweighed the disadvantages. 

LOSSES OF VESSELS UNDER OUR PROTECTION 

At different times a number of ships both eastbound and 
westbound were lost out of storeship convoys. There were 
several reasons why more of these ships were lost than were 



Enemy Submarines 139 

lost out of troopship convoys. They were slower ships and 
could not manoeuvre as quickly as troopship convoys. They 
came in larger numbers and so were found more easily by 
submarines than the troopship convoys were. If the escort- 
ing vessels had to be reduced below the desired number, the 
storeship convoys were slighted rather than the troopship 
convoys. Nevertheless, we gave them all possible protection 
and the latter factor was the least of the ones that contributed 
to their losses. 

In addition to the above points, it must be remembered 
that these storeship convoys were under Allied control. The 
French and Americans, or the British and French and Amer- 
icans, as the case might be, were interested in these convoys. 
Their handling, while always effected harmoniously, was not 
always exactly what we would have chosen had we had 
supreme and undivided control as we did have over our troop- 
ship convoys. Over the movements and routing of all troop- 
ship convoys we had supreme and undivided authority, and 
the responsibility for their safety rested with us. 

No troopship coming to the coast of France escorted by 
an American escort was ever successfully attacked, and only 
five troopships westbound without troops were successfully 
attacked. Of these five, three were sunk and two returned 
safely to port. 

Two of these five ships were torpedoed in the early days 
of our activities and before our method of protection and 
routing had been Well established. Of the other three ships, 
one was torpedoed and sunk after the escort had left her, be- 
lieving she was safe from further attack, and the other two 
were torpedoed during the height of the submarine campaign 
and while under escort. 

The question was sometimes raised why east-bound troop- 
ships were brought through safely while they were occasion- 
ally lost on the west-bound trip. We once received a cable- 
gram from the Navy Department stating that apprehension 
was felt on account of the loss of troopships bound to the 
westward. 

Some persons believed that the loss was possibly due to 



140 The American Navy in France 

a leak in information as to the routes taken by west-bound 
ships. Others thought that it was because a lesser escort was 
being given west-bound vessels than was being given east- 
bound vessels. Others supposed that the route westward was 
less carefully gone into than was the route eastward. None 
of these reasons were correct — but the explanation is simple. 

After taking west-bound vessels through the submarine 
zone, the escorting vessels had to leave them, join an east- 
bound group and bring the latter to port. The latitude where 
east-bound groups would arrive off the submarine zone and 
the course of the east-bound groups to that point were decided 
by the Navy Department. We were given this information 
in order that we might meet the east-bound groups. 

Therefore, we had so to route our west-bound ships that 
they would clear Allied convoys crossing their course and 
would clear enemy submarines. And yet we had so to route 
them that our escort could join the east-bound convoy which 
had to be met before the convoy arrived in the submarine 
zone. In other words, the west-bound routing was a com- 
promise between maximum requirement's of safety and the 
necessity of joining up with an east-bound group. But the 
escort having once joined the east-bound group we had 
nothing to consider but the bringing of it through the safest 
possible waters. 

If we had destroyers enough to have let us have no other 
thought than to send our west-bound ships through an area 
of maximum safety, it is firmly believed that no troop trans- 
ports, whether east-bound or west-bound, would have been 
successfully attacked or have been lost. 



Aviation 141 



Chapter XVIII 
AVIATION 



The first armed unit from the United States to land in 
France, of either the Army or Navy, was an Aviation De- 
tachment under the command of Lieutenant Commander 
Kenneth Whiting, U.S.N., which landed in June, 1917. A 
few weeks later, Captain H. I, Cone, U.S.N., arrived in France, 
having been placed in charge of the Aviation operations 
abroad. This officer was transferred to London in August, 
leaving Captain T. T. Craven, U. S. N., directly charged with 
French Aviation affairs and assigned to duty on the staff of 
the Commander, U. S. Naval Forces in France. 

In building up Aviation in France, a stupendous work 
was accomplished and completed in the face of serious 
obstacles, one of, which was incident to conducting affairs in 
a strange country where both custom and language were 
different from those with which there was familiarity. Trans- 
portation from the United States to France was difficult, but 
it was even more difficult to ship materials from points on 
that coast to other points than to have them delivered in 
Europe directly from our home ports. Generally, aviation 
stations were constructed by our own forces, and men and 
officers enrolled from all walks in life, were found well quali- 
fied to answer practically every call made upon them. In 
every instance, difficult situations were met and what often 
times seemed serious obstacles were overcome by the grim 
determination and persevering efforts of the young men 
making up the aviation service, many of whom now have left 
the Navy and resumed their civil occupations. A few con- 
tracts for construction were given the French. In the light 
of subsequent events, it is now easily seen that where the 
United States constructed its own stations without French 
assistance, the results were more satisfactory to ourselves 
than was the case otherwise. 

In numerous instances operations were carried on by 



142 The American Navy in France 

personnel engaged in learning the new art of Aviation, while 
also, and at the same time, they were being employed in 
erecting their establishments. The flight records of our 
stations in France compare favorably with those of any 
Aviation stations abroad, and the best records of adjacent 
French centers were everywhere equalled and surpassed. 
In operating, considerable difficulty was involved through the 
inadequacies of the French system of communication. It be- 
came necessary to run several hundred miles of wires to 
various points on the coast and to supplement and improve the 
French plan in order to secure the communication desired. 

At the close of hostilities, all of the United States stations 
on the French coast were prepared for or actually in opera- 
tion. It is true that deficiencies and defects existed, but they 
are ever-present companions during war. In the lighter-than- 
air branch particularly, there were serious deficiencies which 
were being filled as rapidly as practicable through contracts 
placed in France for vessels of this class. 

The sites selected for our activities are listed in the at- 
tached table. These were so distributed that not only parts 
of the routes to and from America could be covered, but con- 
voys could be escorted up and down the coast under the cover 
of aircraft. 

With the establishment of the U. S. Aviation on the 
coast, the submarine ceased its work of destruction near the 
shores of France, and only sporadic and generally ineflFective 
hostile activity on the part of these vessels occurred in coastal 
waters. Aviation, of course, cannot claim full credit for this 
result. It will share, however, with the adoption of a day- 
light system of convoys and improved methods of escort by 
surface craft, the credit of having eliminated the enemy from 
this, a former fertile field of his endeavors. 

According to U. S. reports, for an eflfective period of six 
months, six active U. S. Naval seaplane stations sighted 9 
submarines, attacked 8, probably damaged 3 and possibly 
sunk 2. According to their official bulletins, the French with- 
in eighteen months with 12 plane and 2 dirigible stations, 
within the same territory as our stations, sighted 43 sub- 
marines, attacked 40, damaged 13 and probably sunk 15. 



Aviation 



143 





Flights 


Knots 


Hours 


Mines, 
Sight- 
ed 


Sub- 
marines 
Attack- 
ed 


Aircraft 
(Comple- 
ment 


PERSONNEL 


Station 


Offi- 
cers 


Men 


L'AberVrach 


355 


29,302 


484 


2 




19 


41 


477 


Brest 


211 


7,355 


125 






30 


53 


786 


He Tudy 


1,238 


104.877 


2,043 




6 


21 


22 


363 


Fromentine 


335 


38,009 


631 






14 


31 


372 


Paimboeuf 


257 


48,561 


1,538 






3 


30 


478 


Le Cruisic 


1,045 


113,324 


1,890 






17 


22 


337 


St. Trojan 


246 


19,533 


328 




2 


11 


26 


343 


Pauillac 


372 


15,085 


245 






84 


121 


3168 


Moutchic 


10,807 


242,320 


4,049 






24 


57 


493 


Araachon 


106 


8,727 


138 






7 


26 


312 


Treguier 


30 


1,410 


23 






8 


12 


266 



The stations were divided up and operated in accordance 
with the French system of prefectures, and no difficulty was 
experienced at any time in what is sometimes an annoying 
task — the coordination of allied military efforts. The results 
obtained by Aviation insofar as records are obtainable, are 
set forth in the table given above. 

On March 21, 1918, the German army began a long pre- 
pared drive on Paris. Arrangements were made by the 
French to move various industrial activities from the vicinity 
of Paris, and covert preparations were made a second time to 
shift .the seat of the government from that city. At the re- 
quest of the Ordnance Section, U. S. Army, fifty Lewis guns, 
sights and spares were furnished Army Aviation. 

An offer was made to the French Government by the 
Force Commander, of 7,000 Naval personnel for service with 
the land forces, should such be required because of the emerg- 
ency. As a reply to this request, the following telegram was 
received from the French Government: 

April 3, 1918. 
"Vice Admiral de Bon and General Foch con- 
sider that present circumstances do not call for 
presence at front of this force since they have at hand 



144 The American Navy in France 

all forces needed period If such condition should arise 
General Foch* will certainly call upon Force Com- 
mander and will accept offer period General Foch 
thanks Force Commander most warmly for this new 
proof of the ardor with which the United States 
participates in the war period Minister of War and 
the Minister of Marine were informed of the offer 
period Above opinions are those of General Foch and 
Admiral de Bon who are in accord period It is not 
deemed advisable to assemble and hold in readiness 
this force for possible use within fortnight". 

JACKSON TO WILSON. 
Of the forces offered the French 2,000 were to be taken 
from Naval Aviation, and complete preparations to organize 
the naval forces in France were made for this emergency. 

Immediately upon the signing of the armistice prepara- 
tions for the demobilization of Aviation activities were in- 
augurated. Contracts for out-standing orders were cancelled 
by telegraph, and a market was sought for the immense 
amount of materials on hand. The station at Dunkirk and 
the Northern Bombing Group, previously under British con- 
trol, were transferred to the French Unit, in order that all 
business transactions could be conducted through one office. 
Materials desired by the Commission for the Relief of Belgium, 
by the Army and by the Red Cross were disposed of to those 
organizations. 

It was a matter of some surprise to discover that the 
French desired to retain but two of the aviation stations con- 
structed on their shores, and the demolition of others where 
temporary buildings had been erected was proceeded with 
without delay. Purchasers were sought for those stations 
which had been erected under contract through the French 
and were of a semi-permanent construction. 

In order to permit the United States to dispose of the 
immense amount of material useful to the Commission for the 
Relief-of Belgium, "a Naval unit was loaned that organization. 
This unit, for many weeks was the only one working for the 
alleviation of the suffering and homeless inhabitants of the 
devastated region of Northern France. It carried on its work 
in a most satisfactory manner which reflected the highest 



Aviation 145 

credit upon those engaged in this humanitarian work and the 
service to which they belonged. My successor in command 
irL France and other officers concerned in this enterprise were 
tendered the thanks of the French Government for their 
services in this activity. 

It was a pleasure to work with the young officers anfl 
men composing the Naval Aviation contingent. With the 
exception of the Commanding Officers of the various stations, 
they were, for the most part, young Reserves, and brought all 
the enthusiasm of youth to their difficult tasks. Most of them 
were entirely unfamiliar with Naval methods, and entirely un- 
accustomed to the curious experiences which, in many cases, 
became theirs in isolated districts. Their efforts everywhere 
brought forth the enthusiastic acclaim. Breaches of disci- 
pline were rare and it is believed that the personnel of the 
aviation service quit France retaining the admiration and 
respect of the French people with whom they were associated. 

The services rendered by Captain T. T. Craven, U.S.N., 
Aid for Aviation, aiid in charge of all aviation activities, were 
of the highest order. His work of organization, adminstra- 
tion and operation could not have been excelled, and merited 
and received the commendation of the Commander, U. S. 
Naval Forces in France. 



146 The American Navy in France 



Chapter XIX 
INCIDENTS OF THE NAVAL SERVICE 



Naval Operations on the coast of France were full of 
incidents that accorded v^ith the best traditions of the naval 
services and reflected the exercise of courage and resource- 
fulness of the highest order. Some of these incidents were 
spectacular and would appeal to the public fancy. Others, 
requiring an equal degree of fortitude and seamanship, per- 
haps, were such as would appeal. more to the trained sea- 
farer than to the layman. 

TORPEDOING OF THE U. S. S. ANTILLES 

The troop transports HENDERSON and ANTILLES 
and the storeship WILLEHEAD were anchored in Quiberon 
Bay on the morning of the 15th of October, 1917. The CITY 
OF ATLANTA was to join them later. The original escorts 
available were the CORSAIR, APHRODITE, WAKIVA, 
ALCEDO and KANAWHA, but the WAKIVA was forced 
to remain behind on account of boiler trouble. 

Word having been received that the CITY OF AT- 
LANTA would not be ready to leave St. Nazaire until the 
morning of the 16th, the APHRODITE was left behind with 
orders to escort the CITY OF ATLANTA when she was 
ready for sea. The convoy got underway at 3 :52 on the 
afternoon of the 15th, stood out of Teignouse Channel, took 
formation, and began to zig-zag. 

The night was uneventful except that the weather became 
unsettled with fresh to strong head winds and increasing seas. 

On the morning of the 16th, the KANAWHA, which was 
lightly built, reported that she was shipping heavy seas and 
was taking water below and would not be able to keep up if 
the sea became heavier. The WILLEHEAD also fell 
behind and the speed of the convoy dropped to nine knots in 
order to let her regain position, and was then increased to ten 
knots. By 5 :00 p. m. it was necessary to direct the KAN- 



Incidents of the Naval Service 147 

AWHA to return to port. At 5 :40 zig-zag was stopped on 
account of thick weather, but was resumed at 8:00 p. m. 

The morning of 17th October was thick until about day- 
light when it cleared with a moderate sea from the southwest- 
ward. 

At 6:40 a. m., course was changed 20 degrees to the left 
in accordance with zig-zag. About six minutes later the 
ANTILLES, then directly astern of the escort vessel COR- 
SAIR, about 1800 yards away, was seen to sheer to starboard 
and the HENDERSON was seen to hoist a signal. It was 
difficult to make out the signal, but the CORSAIR, which 
carried the Escort Commander, headed toward her at full 
speed, and then it was noticed that the ANTILLES was set- 
tling by the stern. Alrnost immediately thereafter, she up- 
ended and sank at 6 :52 a. m. 

The HENDERSON immediately turned to starboard and 
the WILLEHEAD to port and escaped without further in- 
cident. The escort vessels searched for the submarine, and 
picked up survivors from the ANTILLES. About 70 lives 
were lost. At no time was anything seen or heard of the 
submarine. 

There was nothing unusual about the torpedoing and 
sinking of this vessel, except that the inadequacy of the avail- 
able escort at our disposal was shown by the fact that three 
ships were at sea escorted through force of circumstances by 
only two yachts. 

TORPEDOING OF THE U. S. S. FINLAND 

This vessel was one of a convoy of three ships escorted 
by four destroyers and three yachts. She was torpedoed on 
the 28th of October, 1917. 

She sailed from Quiberon Bay the afternoon of the 27th 
of October and was torpedoed the following morning about 
9:26 a. m., being hit just forward of the bridge on the star- 
board side, six minutes after a change of 60 degrees had been 
made. Due to lack of speed the escorting yachts had not 
had time to regain their positions forward of the beam. 

Although a great many boats were lowered and some of 
them swamped, the escorting vessels rescued most of the 



148 The American Navy in France 

survivors and the loss of life was very small. The submarine 
was not seen before or after the torpedoing. 

It was soon seen that the FINLAND would not sink. 
She proceeded to Brest under her own steam, where she 
docked, repaired, and resumed service as a troop transport. 

PROBABLE DESTRUCTION OF SUBMARINE BY 
KANAWHA. NOMA AND WAKIVA 

The KANAWHA, Lieutenant Commander H. D. Cooke; 
NOMA, Lieutenant Commander L. R. Leahy and WAKIVA, 
Lieutenant Commander Guy Davis, sailed from Quiberon 
Bay on the afternoon of 20 November, 1917, escorting the 
storeships KOLN and MEDINA. The storeships were in 
line with the KANAWHA steaming ahead. 

At 6:20 p. m., the KANAWHA fired two red stars fol- 
lowed by a blast on the siren and at the same time turned 
around and headed back toward the convoy. The other escort 
vessels proceeded to her at full speed and formed line in 
order to cover the great possible area in searching for the 
submarine. After steaming back and forth over the area in 
which the submarine had been sighted, there was nothing 
seen. The search was discontinued and the escort vessels 
started to rejoin the convoy. 

At 6:50 the NOMA, which was to the right, gave the 
alarm and fired a depth charge, whereupon the WAKIVA 
headed toward her at full speed, the crew being at quarters. 
A few minutes later, when about 1^ miles from the NOMA, 
the WAKIVA sighted a periscope about 100 yards distant on 
the port bow. The submarine was going in the opposite 
direction to that of the WAKIVA and drew rapidly abeam 
and turned toward the WAKIVA as if to use a bow torpedo 
tube. The WAKIVA*S rudder was put hard left and the 
submarine headed toward the WAKIVA'S wake. The 
WAKIVA opened fire — the third shell apparently struck the 
periscope. Thereafter it was not seen again. 

As it appeared that the submarine was crossing her wake, 
the WAKIVA dropped two depth charges. Both functioned 
perfectly, and shortly thereafter the submarine was seen to 
break water directly over where the depth charges were 



Incidents of the Naval Service 149 

dropped. The WAKIVA again passed over the spot above 
which some wreckage and considerable oil and air bubbles 
were seen, and dropped three more depth charges. The ex- 
plosions were followed by more oil, air bubbles and wreckage. 
On passing the third time, it was thought that some men were 
seen among the wreckage, but on coming back they had dis- 
appeared. 

About this time, the NOMA, which was about a mile or 
so away, apparently sighted another submarine. She drop- 
ped a number of depth charges. Nothing more having been 
seen of the submarine, the WAKIVA and NOMA rejoined 
the convoy which was escorted safely through the war zone. 

During the night a vessel, believed to be an enemy sub- 
marine, was heard repeatedly calling another vessel or station, 
but the call was never answered. 

THE DESTROYER STEWART 

The STEWART, one of our oldest destroyers. Lieutenant 
Commander H.. S. Haislip, was the principal actor in three 
notable incidents on the coast. The fact that she was one 
of the oldest of the vessels operating in France only serves to 
increase the credit due her and her personnel. In contrast 
to modern destroyers, she had old reciprocating engines, was 
a coal-burner, and had little speed and a comparatively short 
steaming radius. 

On March 16, 1918, the STEWART formed part of the 
escort for the coastal convoy which sailed that afternoon from 
Quiberon Bay for Brest. Tl^e night was dark and foggy and 
the course of the convoy lay through narrow waters with 
shoals to the southward. Strong currents ran in these waters. 

At five-thirty in the morning of March 17, 1918, the 
British steamer WILLIAM BALL was rammed by another 
British steamer, the FALSTAFF, and seriously damaged. 
She seemed to be sinking and the Captain, officers and crew 
soon abandoned her. 

Hearing the crash of the collision, the STEWART pro- 
ceeded at full speed to the vicinity of the WILLIAM BALL — 
the BALL'S officers and crew were in the boats nearby. 
They were induced to return on board and to start the engines 



150 The American Navy in France 

with the view of taking the ship to shallow water, but it was 
found that she could no longer be steered. 

The STEWART came alongside and secured to the 
damaged ship by lines, then headed her for the beach and made 
all possible speed. 

The WILLIAM BALL sank lower and lower, until there 
was grave danger that she would founder and carry the little 
STEWART with her. At 7:25 a. m., her main-deck was 
awash. She sank with the STEWART still secured along- 
side. But as she sank, the lines carried away one by one. 
However, there was still doubt as to the STEWART'S 
getting clear, when the BALL took the bottom — the STEW- 
ART was freed. 

As a result of the prompt and efficient action of the 
STEWART, the cargo of the BALL was salvaged and the 
vessel herself saved. 

On the evening of April 17, 1918, the American ship 
FLORENCE H., with a cargo of twenty two hundred tons of 
smokeless powder, was lying in the harbor at Quiberon Bay. 
She had just arrived from the United States and was awaiting 
further convoy to the southward. 

The other vessels of the convoy and escort were anchored 
about her, when, at 11 :(X) p. m., without warning of any sort, 
she was suddenly seen to burst into flame. 

It was at once evident that at least a portion of her cargo 
of powder had exploded. The force of the explosion and the 
intensity of the heat were so great that the FLORENCE H.'S 
hull disintegrated in places and boxes of blazing powder 
spread over the surface of the sea in the vicinity. She carried 
a crew of seventy five men, and it was clear that not only was 
the vessel lost but, that her entire crew would be killed unless 
immediate help could be given. 

Flames were shooting a hundred feet into the air and 
the water all about was lighted to the brightness of day by 
burning boxes of powder. It seemed impossible that any 
vessel could get close enough through the burning barrage 
about her to save any of her personnel. In about ten minutes 
she split wide open and sank. 



Incidents of the Naval Service 151 

Immediately upon the explosion the STEWART and the 
converted yacht SULTANA, Lieutenant Commander F. A. 
La Roche, also the converted yachts WANDERER, Lieuten- 
ant Commander P. L. Wilson, and CHRISTABEL, Lieuten- 
ant Commander M. B. McComb, headed for the stricken ship. 

The burning cases and wreckage appeared like enormous 
rafts, so thickly were they packed together. Cases were ex- 
ploding and shooting their gases into the air^^ike enormous 
torches. The flames rose ten and twenty feet and made 
whistling noises as acetylene torches tnight have done. Cries 
could be heard from the flaming wreckage in the water — to- 
ward this the commanding officer of the STEWART headed 
his ship. 

By this time, all the escorts of the convoy and of another 
convoy approaching the anchorage had come up and lowered 
lifeboats. But on account of the thickness of the burning 
debris they were unable to get close enough to be of much 
assistance. Rowing was out of the question and the boats 
had to be poled. Too much praise cannot be given for the 
magnificent conduct and fearlessness of the men who worked 
their way through and around burning ammunition regard- 
less of their personal danger. 

On account of their wooden construction, the yachts pres- 
ent could not get through without catching fire. So the 
STEWART, followed by two old destroyers, the WHIPPLE, 
Lieutenant Commander H. J. Abbett and the TRUXTON, 
Lieutenant Commander J. G, Ware, steamed into the wreck- 
age in order to open up lanes for the small boats and to throw 
lines to men in the water. The light from the burning ship 
and from the exploding cases in the water made the vicinity 
as bright as day — by this light men could be seen clinging to 
cases as yet unexploded. 

The danger for the rescuing destroyers may be estimated 
when it is remembered that a large number of depth charges 
were carried on the stern of each of them. The explosion of 
any one of these charges would have blown off the stern of 
the ship. Then, too, the burning mass of flotsam so jammed 
the STEWART that at one time she could not manoeuver. 



152 The American Navy in France 

Three men were seen in a blazing lifeboat hemmed in by 
ammunition cases and other wreckage. The STEWART 
steamed through this mass and took the men on board. 
Several of the crew of the STEWART jumped overboard and 
held up injured and burned men until they could be rescued. 
Of the crew of seventy-five men of the FLORENCE H., 
thirty four were saved; many of them seriously burned. 

As a result of this incident, the commanding officer of the 
STEWART received the Croix de Guerre from the French 
authorities and two of the crew, J. W. Covington, ship's cook 
second class, and F. M. Upton, quartermaster third class, who 
had leaped into the water in the work of rescue, received the 
Medal of Honor from the American Government. Other 
officers and men were recommended for decorations to our 
Government. 

On April 23, 1918, about one-thirty in the afternoon, while 
escorting a convoy from Quiberon to Brest, aviators sighted 
a submarine. The STEWART which was in the vicinity was 
quick to take advantage of the opportunity presented. 

Although the submarine was submerged she was plainly 
seen from the STEWART. The STEWART passed over 
her and dropped five depth charges — all exploded. Large 
quantities of oil came to the surface, and it is believed that 
the submarine was destroyed as oil continued to rise for about 
three hours, and large quantities were visible on the water for 
three or four days afterward. 

THE WESTWARD HO 

In an account of our operations on the coast of France 
there is nothing which shows more clearly the seamanship, 
resourcefulness slnd courage of the personnel of the Navy than 
does the salvaging of the WESTWARD HO after she had 
been struck by a torpedo, August 8, 1918, while some three 
hundred and fifty miles oflf the coast. 

The WESTWARD HO was a turbine-driven, oil-burning 
ship, constructed after our entrance into the war. She formed 
one of a convoy bound from New York to the Bay of Biscay. 

The convoy was escorted by the French light cruiser 



Incidents of the Naval Service 153 

DUPETIT THOUARS. This cruiser normally would have 
left the convoy in longitude 22 degrees west, and would have 
returned to the United States to join another convoy. But, 
on account of a change in the plans of the French Ministry, it 
was decided that the escort for the west-bound convoy should 
continue with that convoy until the afternoon of August 7, 
when it would turn over the escorting of that convoy to the 
DUPETIT THOUARS, taking over itself from the DUPE- 
TIT THOUARS the escorting of the east-bound convoy. 

Later, it was found that the above-planned procedure 
would necessitate the DUPETIT THOUARS coming all the 
way to France, as she did not have sufficient coal for the 
round trip. The west-bound escort, therefore, was to join 
the east-bound convoy at daylight on August 7, instead of 
daylight on August 8, as she would have done under ordinary 
circumstances. 

The west-bound escort failed to join as contemplated, 
and at 10:00 p. m. the cruiser DUPETIT THOUARS was 
struck by a torp'edo — she soon sank. At 6:40 the follow- 
ing morning, the WESTWARD HO was also torpedoed, but 
remained afloat. 

Some destroyers, bound westward to meet a troopship 
convoy, inte-rcepted the call for help. They proceeded to the 
neighborhood of the torpedoing of the DUPETIT THOUARS 
and rescued all of the crew who had survived from the 
torpedoing. They also found the WESTWARD HO, and, 
as the urgent necessity of their joining the troopship convoy 
permitted no delay, they rescued the WESTWARD HO'S 
crew and proceeded westward. The WESTWARD HO was 
left in an kpparently-sinking condition, her fires out and none 
of her crew on board. 

In the meantime, the American converted yachts, MAY, 
Lieutenant Commander C. Windsor and NOMA, Lieutenant 
Commander H. H. J. Benson, and the French sloop CASSI- 
OPEE, Capitaine de Corvette Douguet, had left a west-bound 
convoy and were headed to the eastward to overtake the east- 
bound vessels — they, also, intercepted the call for assistance 
from the convoy of which the WESTWARD HO had been a 



154 The American Navy in France 

part. Responding to the call, they found the WESTWARD 
HO still afloat. 

They attempted to tow her but, on account of their lack 
of power and of large lines, and the fact that the injured ship 
was sb deep in the water, they were unable to make much 
progress with her. A volunteer crew from the MAY, there- 
fore, boarded the WESTWARD HO, under Lieutenant T. 
Blau, U.S.N.R.F., to see if they could be of any assistance. 
Finding that the ship stood a chance of remaining afloat, 
they proceeded to get up steam. 

The MAY was a coal-burning vessel, and the men from 
her crew who went on board the WESTWARD HO had 
joined the Navy since the war began and had had no exper- 
ience with burning oil or with turbine machinery. Neverthe- 
less, they managed to get up steam in the boiler and to start 
one of the pumps to clearing the water from the ship's hold. 

This procedure lightened her somewhat and made towing 
a bit easier. But not content with this, the new crew con- 
tinued their work of raising steam until they were able to 
start the main engines. But she was so deep in the water 
forward that not much headway could be made without 
danger of losing the ship; therefore, they backed her instead 
of going ahead. Thus, she proceeded to port, the two small 
yachts towing and the French sloop escorting to keep off 
submarines. 

Although the group was joined by two sea-going tugs 
which took over the work of towing, yet, the men on the 
WESTWARD HO continued to back her. Two days later 
than schedule, but before her own crew were brought in by 
the destroyers, the WESTWARD HO reached port— she had 
been backed three hundred and fifteen miks. 

In the history of the Navy during the war, there is no 
feat of seamanship and perseverance that deserves higher 
rank than this. 

THE TORPEDOING OF THE WEST BRIDGE 

Like the WESTWARD HO, the WEST BRIDGE was a 
vessel built subsequent to our entry into the war. She formed 
part of the convoy following the one the WESTWARD HO 



Incidents of the Naval Service 155 

belonged to. The MONTANAN, a large storeship, was in 
the same convoy as the WEST BRIDGE. The escort was to 
join on the morning of August 16, 1918. 

On August 15, 1918, while the convoy was to the west- 
ward of the area in which the submarines had been working, 
the WEST BRIDGE stripped her main turbine, and lay 
helpless. Her commanding officer immediately radioed in 
code to Brest, stating the ship's condition and asking that tugs 
be sent to his assistance. 

At this time, the MONTANAN was struck by a torpedo 
and sunk. So that just after the Commanding Officer of the 
WEST BRIDGE had made know to Brest that his ship's 
machinery was disabled, he saw ahead of him in the dusk the 
MONTANAN in the act of foundering. One may imagine 
this officer's feelings ; unable to move his ship or to see the 
submarine which had just destroyed the other ship, but com- 
pelled to wait until the submarine should see fit to attack him. 

Later in the evening the attack was made. The WEST 
BRIDGE was struck by two torpedoes. She commenced to 
founder. 

But founder she did not, and soon she was joined by the 
destroyer SMITH, Lieutenant Commander J. C. Byrnes — 
volunteers from the destroyer under Lieutenant R. L. Con- 
nolly came to help man the WEST BRIDGE. Tugs were 
sent out to her aid also ; lines were run, and the work of towing 
begun. By this time she was so deep in the water as to be 
little more than a log. With no steam up, and with the im- 
possibility of raising any, she had to be steered by hand. The 
poop was out of the water, but the well-deck forward of the 
bridge was flush with the surface of the sea — the sea broke 
on board with an almost constant roar. 

Eventually, four tugs joined, two British, one French and 
one American, and the U. S. S. ISABEL, Lieutenant Com- 
mander L. W. Comstock, and with them she was towed to 
port. Lines parted from time to time. The ship lurched and 
frequently seemed about to sink. The hand-steering gear had 
been slightly jammed and worked so stiffly that it was very 
difficult to put the wheel over. 



156 The American Navy in France 

After a journey of four hundred miles, lasting five days, 
with holds, engine-room and fire-room flooded, she made port 
at last. She was beached on a flat in Brest harbor, examined 
by the salvage party and the work of repairing was begun. It 
was estimated that she reached port with only fifty to one 
hundred tons of positive buoyancy, having been in that condi- 
tion for a distance of four hundred miles. 



More Incidents of the Naval Service 157 



Chapter XX 
MORE INCIDENTS OF THE NAVAL SERVICE 



THE SINKING OF THE U. S. S. PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

The PRESIDENT LINCOLN, Commander P. W. Foote, 
capable of carrying about five thousand men and many thou- 
sand tons of cargo, was one of our most valuable transports. 
On the afternoon of May 29, 1918, she sailed light from Brest 
bound for the United States. 

There had been some uncertainty as to whether the 
PRESIDENT LINCOLN would be ready in time. But we 
held the convoy for a short time on her account and the 
hearty efforts of her officers and crew made it possible for 
her to sail with the convoy. On this, hung the fate of the ship. 

There was an escort of four American destroyers and 
one French aviso, the OISE. These had orders, upon 
leaving the west-bound convoy, to join, on May 31, storeship 
convoy No. 69 from New York. The other escort vessels of 
our forces were all employed: four were escorting two troop- 
ships to Brest; two were required for use on May 30 to bring 
a troopship group and the LEVIATHAN into Brest and to 
go out the same afternoon to join a convoy of storeships from 
New York ; our two remaining destroyers were undergoing 
necessary overhaul. 

At this time, there was a submarine operating to the 
westward of the English Channel. It had attacked a ship at 
11 :(X) p. m. on May 28th. This information was the last we 
had of the submarine until after the PRESIDENT LINCOLN 
had left Brest. When the LEVIATHAN arrived, however, 
we learned that the WEST CARLTON had been torpedoed 
at four o'clock on the afternoon of May 28th, about one 
hundred and twenty miles to the southward of the point where 
a ship had been attacked on the previous day. 

One convoy, with the PRESIDENT LINCOLN therein, 
at first was sent somewhat to the southward in order that it 



158 The Americnn Xavy in France 

might keep clear of the track of the incoming troopship con- 
voys and to avoid a convoy en route from Dakar to England. 
This southward course was considered safer than a northward 
one. By daylight, May 30, the convoy was clear of the path 
of all others. We then directed it to change course somewhat 
to the northward which would bring it nearer to the course of 
the storeships east-bound. The escorting vessels had orders 
to leave the west-bound convoy after dark on May 30, and to 
join the east-bound storeship convoy before daylight on 
May 31st. 

Accordingly, at 8:43 p. m., on May 30th, it being thought 
that the west-bound convoy would be comparatively safe 
during the night run before it, the escort vessels left it. It 
w^as learned afterward from the captain of the enemy sub- 
marine that he had sighted the west-bound convoy that after- 
noon, had overtaken it during the night and had taken position 
well ahead to. await its approach. 

On the morning of May 31st the convoy w^as attacked. 
The torpedo or torpedoes crossed the bow of the RYNDAM 
and hit the PRESIDENT LINCOLN. 

The stricken vessel settled rapidly. It was soon evident 
to the captain that she w^as doomed^he ordered her to be 
abandoned. 

The abandonment of the ship w^orked without a hitch. 
Although she soon sank, the comparatively small loss of life 
Was confined to the officers and crew. The fact that none of 
the Army or of the other passengers entrusted to the ship's 
care were lost, strengthened what was becoming a watch-word 
of the Navy, what we believe will become a tradition; that 
the safety of passengers entrusted to our care w^as to be pre- 
ser^^ed no matter what the cost to ourselves. 

At the time of the sinking, the destroyer SMITH, Lieu- 
tei»ant Commander J. H. Klein, formed part of the escort of 
whiCh the ISABEL, Lieutenant H. E. Shoemaker, was the 
flagship and which, after leaving the convoy containing the 
PRi:SIDENT LINCOLN, had joined New^ York Convoy 
HN 69 at daylight May 31st. The WARRINGTON, Lieu- 
tenant Commander G. W. Kenyon, had sailed from Brest the 



More Incidents of the Naval Service 159 

evcaing of May 30th to join the same New York convoy on 
the morning of May 31st, and at the time of the torpedoing 
haa joined the ISABEL. 

The SOS call from the PRESIDENT LINCOLN found 
these two boats separated and some two hundred and seventy 
five miles away. 

The escort commander on the ISABEL immediately 
ordered the WARRINGTON to proceed to the rescue of the 
PRESIDENT LINCOLN, and upon receipt of instructions 
from us, also, sent the SMITH on the same mission. 

The PRESIDENT LINCOLN having sunk, no informa- 
tion could be obtained as to her position other than the 
original message sent at the time of the torpedoing. The 
boats and rafts containing survivors had been assembled and 
secured together. 

The ensuing night would be a dark one, as the moon did 
not rise until early morning, and the destroyer commanders 
knew that, if possible, they must reach the boats before dark, 
and had to estimate how far the boats would pull or drift. 
The Commanding Officer of the PRESIDENT LINCOLN 
made the wise decision not to attempt to leave the position of 
the sinking, so that, as a matter of fact, the boats drifted some 
fifteen miles from this place. 

Nothing was seen of the boats by the rescuing destroyers 
until dark, but at 11:00 p. m. the WARRINGTON sighted 
a small red light and stood toward it, blinking her yard-arm 
lights and immediately thereafter, heard a faint cheer in the 
darkness. 

She soon made them out and lay-to close aboard. Boat 
after boat came alongside, until in about a half hour, there 
were some four hundred and forty three survivors on the ship. 

By this time, the moon had risen and the work of finding 
the rafts became easier, and in the meantime the destroyer 
SMITH also found them and assisted in rescuing the re- 
mainder of the six hundred and eighty eight survivors. 

Rescuing vessels based on Queenstown were, also, sent 
to the rescue of the crew of the PRESIDENT LINCOLN, 
but, having been entrusted to our care, we were proud of the 



160 The American Xavi/ in France 

fact that it was two of our boats who arrived first on the 
scene, rescued all the survivors and were on their way to port 
prior to the arrival of any other ships. 

On the morning of June 1st, the SMITH returning to 
port, loaded with survivors, sighted ahead of her a submarine 
and made full speed to the attack. The submarine naturally 
submerged, but the SMITH, on arriving in the position of her 
sighting, dropped some twenty depth charges which exploded, 
and, from the reports of Lieutenant Isaacs, who had been 
taken by the submarine from one of the boats of the PRES- 
IDENT LINCOLN, severely shook her up. 

In keeping with other traditions. Lieutenant Isaacs, the 
only officer of the regular Navy captured during the war, 
succeeded in making his escape from a German prison camp 
and reported for duty at the Naval Headquarters, Paris. 

THE TORPEDOING OF THE U. S. S. COVINGTON 

The COVINGTON, Captain R. D. Hasbrouck, sailed 
for the United States on July 1. 1918, with a convoy of eight 
ships and an escort of seven destroyers. The convoy had the 
exceptionally fast speed of fourteen and a half knots. The 
escort was to meet an incoming convoy. 

At this time, our destroyers were all employed. Seven 
were with the convoy of which the COVINGTON was a part. 
Six had sailed the same day with a convoy west-bound from 
Quiberon. There were four with a west-bound convoy of 
troopships from Brest. On the same day, too, three left to 
meet a storeship convoy from New York. Five had returned 
from escort duty on May 29th and these were getting ready 
to go out for another convoy. One could not be employed 
because there was an epidemic of influenza on board her. 
Two were being overhauled in Liverpool. Thus, it will be 
seen that the convoy in question had been given an escort of 
all destroyers available. 

There had recently been a large amount of submarine 
activity in the Bay of Biscay. On June 28th a ship had been 
sunk and another attacked to the southward. There was a 
possibility that this attack had been made by the same sub- 
marine that had attacked a convoy oiit of Devonport on June 



More Incidents of the Naval Service 161 

20th. The latter attack had occurred some one hundred and 
twenty miles to the northward of where the attack of June 
28th had taken place, but the submarine might have been 
working to the southward by June 28th. 

The GREGORY, in a convoy out of Falmouth, was 
torpedoed at a point midway between the positions where the 
attacks of June 20th and June 28th had been made. This 
circumstance might have indicated the presence of another 
submarine, or that the first submarine, having torpedoed a 
ship to the southward, was working her way back to her 
former station to the northw^ard. 

Our convoy which had sailed from Quiberon was diverted 
well to the northward and went clear. 

The route which had been laid down for our convoy from 
Brest, including the COVINGTON, would carry it about 
twenty three miles northward and westward of the position 
where the GREGORY had just been torpedoed, this, of course, 
marking the last known position of the enemy submarine. 

After studying thie situation, it seemed probable that the 
GREGORY'S submarine was working to the northward. We, 
therefore, directed our Brest convoy to go by a route not far 
from where the GREGORY had been struck — we believed that 
by this time the submarine would have gone northward. 

But at 2:40 p. m., on July 1st, and after our convoy 
had sailed, a message was received from the British destroyer 
GRASSHOPPER, stating that the GREGORY had been 
struck by a second torpedo. This immediately indicated that 
the submarine was remaining in the vicinity and, yet, since 
we knew that two trawlers were standing by the GREGORY 
and that they might have towed her to the northward, the 
message from the GRASSHOPPER left doubt in our minds 
in regard to the location of the submarine. Immediately, we 
asked the GRASSHOPPER for her position, but there were 
many other convoys on the ocean anxious to get the position 
of the GREGORY— we could get no reply from the GRASS- 
HOPPER. 

Unable to obtain the information we needed, we diverted 
the convoy to the westward until dark and then told them to 



162 The American Navy in France 

change course to the southward again. Just after the con- 
voy had made the change, to the southward, the COVING- 
TON, while in latitude 47-24 North, longitude 7-44 West, was 
struck by a torpedo. 

The tug CONCORD, en route to the GREGORY, was di- 
verted to the COVINGTON. The British authorities also, 
sent two tugs to her assistance. The tugs joined, and took 
the COVINGTON in tow for Brest. But the following morn- 
ing, after steaming some sixteen hours since her torpedoing, 
the ship up-ended and sank. A merchant ship reached Brest 
the day after the COVINGTON was sunk and reported that 
she had had a plain sight of two submarines. If this report 
was correct, then there were at least three and possibly four 
submarines operating in that vicinity at that time. 

THE TORPEDOING OF THE U. S. S. MOUNT VERNON 

The MOUNT VERNON, Captain D. E. Dismukes, was 
the last one of our larger ships to be torpedoed and it was 
the largest one. 

The MOUNT VERNON and the AgAMEMNON, Cap- 
tain D. Sellers, reached Brest on September 3, 1918. She 
rapidly discharged her troops and took on coal for the return 
voyage. On the afternoon of the following day we were 
ready to despatch the two ships to the westward. 

Both of these vessels could maintain a speed of twenty 
knots and they were given an escort of six destroyers — not 
because we believed this force was necessary, but, because 
the destroyers, after leaving the MOUNT VERNON and 
AGAMEMNON, were to join the LEVIATHAN, GREAT 
NORTHERN and the NORTHERN PACIFIC and escort 
them to Brest. Two ships making twenty knots and escorted 
by six destroyers might be expected to be able to sail through 
any submarine-infested waters with a maximum degree of 
safety. If we had had time to worry, we would have worried 
less about these two ships than about any other convoy from 
the west coast of France. 

Moreover, the MOUNT VERNON was a lucky ship. 
She had made trip after trip in fast time, accomplishing her 
turn-around without hitch or delay. She was very successful 



More Incidents of the Naval Service 163 

in discharging troops and in getting coal aboard — the Army 
was always fond of having her in port and found her easy to 
work with. All destroyers other than those assigned to this 
convoy were employed or were held to sail With other con- 
voys sailing at times that would not permit such destroyers 
to go with the MOUNT VERNON convoy. 

At this time, enemy submarines were very active in the 
Bay of Biscay ; usually between latitude 48 north and 46 south. 

Under ordinary circumstances, we would have sent the 
MOUNT VERNON and the AGAMEMNON well to the 
southward and clear of submarine activity. But the LEVI- 
ATHAN and her companions were coming at high speed on 
a course so well to the northward that, if the MOUNT 
VERNON and their escort should go to the southward, the 
escort would not have time to join the incoming ships. 

A route fairly well to the southward was chosen, but later 
given up. A number of British convoys were crossing the 
Bay of Biscay — a position received from a vessel in a convoy 
from the British Isles to Dakar showed that the route of the 
MOUNT VERNON would intersect the route of the Dakar 
convoy at 1 :00 o'clock in the morning of a dark night. This 
information immediately made the southward route impossible 
of employment. 

We assigned the MOUNT VERNON and the AGAMEM- 
NON convoy a new route well to the northward, north of the 
area where submarine activity would be most likely to be 
found. But no sooner had we assigned this route and had 
sent it to the ships, when we received a message that the 
DORA, one of an incoming convoy from New York, had been 
torpedoed in a position exactly in the path of the new route 
we had just assigned to the MOUNT VERNON. It was, 
therefore, thought advisable to change the route again — some- 
what to the southward so that the Dakar convoy would pass 
ahead. The final route, therefore, was a compromise between 
the one we considered the safest and the one necessary to give 
our destroyers time to join the incoming group after they had 
left the outgoing group. 

These changes in the projected course were made before 



164 The American Navy in Frantc 

our convoy sailed. No radio message was sent out by us to 
the convoy for the purpose of effecting changes in course after 
the convoy had left Brest; hence, the enemy submarine did 
not determine the route of the MOUNT VERNON by inter- 
cepting a radio message, because no messages were sent. 

Our convoy sailed on the afternoon of September 4, 1918. 
The next morning we were just beginning to feel that the high 
speed of these ships must have already placed them in a 
position of reasonable safety, when we received the news 
from the MOUNT VERNON that she had been struck by a 
torpedo when in latitude 48-32 north and longitude 10-38 west 
and that she was making four knots toward Brest. 

Evidently, the submarine had come up between the two 
ships — which had just changed course thirty degrees — and 
was lucky in getting in a shot at the MOUNT VERNON 
whose high rate of speed made her difficult to hit, notwith- 
standing her great size. 

The escort commander on the CONNER, Captain A. G. 
Howe, was face to face with a difficult situation. The AGA- 
MEMNON having escaped the first attack, was in no danger 
of a second one because no submarine could overtake her, but 
the circumstances were very diflferent in regard to the 
MOUNT VERNON. The MOUNT VERNON required all 
the escort that could be given her, yet, the escort commander 
had orders to meet on the following morning a ship — the 
most important in our possession — a ship carrying some nine 
thousand men and accompanied by two other ships carrying 
about two thousand men each. He sent three destroyers to 
overtake the AGAMEMNON and kept three with the 
MOUNT VERNON. The MOUNT VERNON worked up 
a speed of fourteen knots — her commanding officer then des-. 
patched one of the escorting destroyers to join the CONNER 
in protecting the AGAMEMNON. 

The Admiral in Brest was reassured by the receipt of this 
news. In the meantime, he had sent three destroyers from 
Brest to relieve the MOUNT VERNON'S escort. The three 
destroyers from Brest missed the MOUNT VERNON— the 
night being foggy. One of the three, the FANNING, Lieu- 
tenant Commander F. Coggswell, continued on to join the 



More Incidents of the Naval Service 165 

convoy coming in with the LEVIATHAN — a display of ex- 
cellent judgment by her captain. The result was that four 
destroyers joined the LEVIATHAN at the rendezvous at day- 
light and that two more joined before dark of that night. 

It was a harrowing night for all concerned. Our escort 
for the LEVIATHAN was no longer intact and, yet, it had 
to find the great ship and bring her through waters of proved 
danger. At the same time, the MOUNT VERNON, badly 
damaged, was seeking port through a rapidly roughening sea. 

Despite the fact that she was drawing forty feet of water 
and despite the thickening weather, the MOUNT VERNON 
made port during the night without further mishap. 

The LEVIATHAN, GREAT NORTHERN and 
NORTHERN PACIFIC were somewhat behind their schedule 
(in order to make maximum speed they had stopped zig- 
zagging) came safely through the submarine zone and arrived 
without incident. 

The seamanship and judgment shown in fitting the 
MOUNT VERNON to endure just such injury as befell her, 
and in bringing her safely into port after the torpedoing, and 
the same qualities displayed by the escort commander and the 
destroyer captains in the handling of their vessels at sea, 
were of the highest order. 

FOUR SHIPS TORPEDOED OUT OF ONE CONVOY 

The latter part of 1917 and the early part of 1918 were 
marked by a maximum submarine eflFort against the convoys 
proceeding up and down the coast. 

On the afternoon of January 5, 1918, fifteen ships sailed 
from Brest for Quiberon. They were escorted by two Ameri- 
can converted yachts— the WANDERER and the KANA- 
WHA and a couple of small French vessels. 

The convoy was formed in two columns. The leader of 
the right column was the American steamer HARRY LUCK- 
ENBACH, and the steamers HENRI LE COUR, DAGNY 
and KANARIS were numbers one, four and seven of the left 
column. All lights were out except dimmed stern lights to 
serve as guides for the ships following. The speed of the 



166 The Ammcan Navy in France 

convoy was about eight and one-half knots. A convoy which 
had started the previous afternoon had been attacked off 
Penmarch ; a point of land about forty miles from Brest ; the 
crews of all the ships were, therefore, alert and the escorts 
were keyed to expectancy of attack. 

The sea was rough with a southeast wind, and the night, 
although dark, was clear. 

The escort vessel WANDERER, Lieutenant-Commander 
P. L. Wilson, was commanded by the senior naval officer. 
About 11:10 p. m. this vessel sighted a 'suspicious object 
on the starboard beam — she made recognition signal and 
headed toward it. The signal was not replied to and the 
object disappeared in the darkness. The WANDERER 
could not be sure whether it was an enemy submarine or was 
merely one of the small French torpedo-boats that usually 
patrolled the coast. 

By this time, the night had become exceptionally dark, 
with sky overcast. Ships a few hundred yards away could 
only be seen with difficulty. 

At 11 :30 p. m., when about eight miles west of Penmarch, 
the lookout on the port side of the HENRI LE COUR saw 
a torpedo jump out of the water. Two seconds afterward the 
ship was struck abreast of number four hatch. She sank in 
forty five seconds. 

The night was so dark that the disappearance of the 
HENRI LE COUR was not noticed by any of the convoy. 
Two boats from the LE COUR reached the village of Penhors 
and a third, containing the captain, was rescued at two-thirty 
by the French destroyer TEMERAIRE. 

At ten minutes past midnight, the WANDERER sud- 
denly heard an explosion oflf her port bow — she stood over at 
full speed toward the noise. The HARRY LUCKENBACH 
had been struck by a torpedo, the force of the explosion being 
so great that several men had been thrown into the sea. 
Although, herself, in imminent danger of attack, the WAND- 
ERER stopped, turned her searchlights on the wreckage and, 
after a lonjg search, succeeded in rescuing twenty-six men. 
These men were so cold and exhausted from their stay in the 



More Incidents of the Naval Service 167 

chilly water that they were almost rigid by the time they were 
gotten aboard. 

In the meantime, the converted yacht HARVARD, which 
was passing through these waters, obtained information of 
the attacks and headed for the convoy. . A French destroyer, 
also, joined at 2 :00 a. m. 

At 1:15 a. m., the captain of the DAGNEY blew his 
whistle and fired two signal lights. Ten minutes later the 
ship was struck on the starboard side and sank in two minutes. 

At 2:00 a. m. the lookout at the stern gun of the KAN- 
ARIS saw the wake of a torpedo about two hundred meters 
away. The torpedo struck the ship abreast number two hatch. 
She sank rapidly by the bow. She fired signal lights but ap- 
parently they were not seen. , 

Up to the time of these events the coastal convoys had 
been making all the run during darkness, with a small escort. 
The loss of four ships from the one convoy was the direct 
cause of a change from night sailing to day sailing of the 
convoys, a change instrumental in safeguarding the passage 
of ships along the west coast of France. 

THE LOSS OF THE ENGLISH STEAMER BAYVOE 

On the afternoon of January 10, 1918, a convoy of four 
ships, escorted by two American destroyers, sailed from 
Brest for Quiberon. The BAYVOE was the last ship in the 
convoy. 

It was expected that two small French patrol vessels 
would reinforce the escort at the Raz de Sein, some thirty 
miles from Brest. However, they did not succeed in finding 
the convoy. On account of bad weather, the convoy was two 
hours late in reaching the Raz de Sein. 

About 7:30, when half-way to this channel, the convoy 
ran into a heavy snowstorm and became confused. The 
leading ship changed course one hundred and eighty degrees, 
the other ships following. 

When the squall had passed, the BAYVOE found herself 
alone four miles north of Armen which is a light on the shoals 



168 The American Nary in France 

to the westward of the Raz de Sein. She increased speed and 
tried to overtake the convoy, but, after passing Penmarch, 
she headed for Belle Isle, an island off the entrance to 
Quiberon. At 2 :30 a. m. she was struck by a torpedo on the 
port side. 

The ship had to be abandoned — boats were lowered. 
The submarine approached the boats and among other ques- 
tions her captain asked: "Why are you travelling singly?" 
The commanding officer of the BAYVOE answered that he 
had lost touch with the convoy in the snowstorm. "The 
same thing happened to me," said the submarine captain. 

ENGAGEMENT OF U. S. S. CHRISTABEL WITH U. C. 56 

On the afternoon of 21 May,^1918, the CHRISTABEL, the 
smallest of the converted yachts operating in French waters, 
was escorting a slow ship which had dropped behind the 
north-bound convoy from La Pallice to Quiberon Bay. 

This vessel, the British steamer DANSE, was about eight 
miles behind the convoy, making about seven and a half knots, 
with the CHRISTABEL on her port bow. The sea was 
smooth, weather clear with no wind. 

When about two miles outside of He de Yeu a well-defined 
oil slick was sighted on the port bow. The CHRISTABEL 
cruised around it but saw nothing definite. 

At 5 :20 p. m. a wake was suddenly sighted by the Officer- 
of-the-Deck and the lookout, about six hundred yards distant 
on the port quarter, the CHRISTABEL at this time being 
about 300 yards on the port bow of the DANSE. 

The CHRISTABEL headed for it. making all possible 
speed — about ten and a half knots — whereupon the wake dis- 
appeared and a number of oil slicks were seen. 

The Commanding Officer followed this oil as well as he 
could and at 5:24 p. m., believing that his ship was nearly 
ahead of the submarine, dropped a depth charge, but no results 
were obtained although the charge exploded. 

At 7:00 p. m. the convoy changed course following the 
contour of the land and was making about nine knots. The 



More Incidents of the Naval Service 169 

CHRISTABEL was astern, making about eleven knots to 
catch up. 

At 8:52 p. m. the CHRISTABEL sighted a periscope 
about two hundred yards off the starboard beam. She turned 
and headed for it, whereupon the periscope disappeared. 

At 8 :55 p. m. a depth charge was dropped which function- 
ed in ten seconds, followed by a second one a few moments 
afterwards. 

Nothing followed the explosion of the first charge, but 
following the explosion of the second there was a third very 
violent explosion which threw up between the stern of the 
CHRISTABEL and the water column raised by the second 
charg^e, an enormous amount of water and debris. 

The CHRISTABEL then turned and cruised in the 
vicinity and noticed a quantity of heavy black oil and splinter- 
ed pieces of wood, with very large oil bubbles rising to the 
surface. 

Nothing further was heard of this submarine, but, on May 
24, 1918, an enemy submarine, the U. C. 56, arrived at San- 
tander, Spain, in a very seriously damaged condition, and from 
such information as was received, it was believed that this 
was the vessel attacked by the CHRISTABEL. 



170 The American Navy in France 



Chapter XXI 
DISTINGUISHED VISTORS 



Many passengers between the United States and France 
were transported on the troopships under the protection of the 
Navy. The first large vessels reached the coast of France on 
November 10, 1917, bound for Brest, which was destined to 
be the European terrninal of the largest and fastest transports 
in the service. During the year that followed there was an 
ever-increasing activity as our war effort gained momentum — 
a constant stream of special passengers went through Brest. 

There were Cabinet Members on official missions. There 
were committees of the Senate and of House of Representa- 
tives. There were government officials and diplomats of the 
various Allied countries as well as those of our own land. 
There were agents of every branch of war^work connected 
with the transportation of a vast army from American to 
French soil. 

Nor did the cessation of hostilities mark the end of travel 
to and through Brest. On the contrary, after the armistice, 
many distinguished officials came to France on naval vessels. 
There were scores of visitors, but our limited space confines 
our record to those who came during the period ending 
November 11, 1918, the date of the signing of the armistice. 

The U. S. S. MOUNT VERNON was in the first convoy 
of naval transports that used Brest as a port of entry. She 
was formerly the KRONPRINZESSIN CECILE, widely 
known on account of her dash into Bar Harbor at the begin- 
ning of the war in 1914. 

On December 7, 1917, while the MOUNT VERNON was 
lying in the outer harbor of Brest, a special train was diverted 
from the entrance to the usual terminal and was brought in on 
the tracks used for freight cars, alongside the boat landing in 
the arsenal. This train brought Colonel E. M. House and 
other members of the first diplomatic mission of the war. 



Distinguished Visitors 171 

Admiral W. S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations and General 
Tasker H. Bliss, Chief of Staff of the Army, were members of 
this party. 

The train was met by the Commander, U. S. Naval Forces 
in France and by the Prefet Maritime. They were accompanied 
only by such officers as were needed to carry out the arrange- 
ments for departure. The members of the mission were taken 
directly on board the MOUNT VERNON. Soon after, es- 
corted by the cruiser SAN DIEGO and six destroyers, the big 
transport slipped out of the harbor. 

The greatest secrecy had been preserved in preparing for 
the departure of Colonel House and until he was safe on 
American soil, few persons knew that he had passed through 
Brest. 

Mr. Newton D. Baker, Secretary of War, landed at Brest 
and departed therefrom on all his visits to France during the 
war. 

He cam^ for'the first time on March 10, 1918, on the 
U. S. S. SEATTLE. The submarine- .menace was then very 
grave, and every precaution had been taken to keep his ex- 
pected arrival secret. His presence on the SEATTLE was 
not even known on the AGAMEMNON and MOUNT VER- 
NON, two ships travelling in convoy with the SEATTLE. 

Two days out from Brest the SEATTLE hoisted her 
submarine flag, and opened fire on a suspicious object. How- 
ever, this proved to be only a spar floating upright. Other- 
wise, the passage was made without incident of note. The 
SEATTLE dropped anchor in Brest harbor soon after noon 
on a rarely beautiful day. 

Mr. Baker spent the afternoon on shore inspecting the 
various Army activities in Brest. He returned to the United 
States on board the MOUNT VERNON, April 5th. 

This passage was made in seven and one-half days, the 
transport record up to that time. The Secretary of War made 
ah address during the voyage which was greatly appreciated 
by the men on board. Afterward, when the MOUNT VER- 
NON was torpedoed, he wrote immediately to the Command- 
ing officer: v 



172 The American Navy in France 

"With your lost comrades, you, who have been 
mercifully saved, have added another page to the 
Navy's best traditions, and I wish you all, my 
late shipmates, continued success and all good 
fortune in the great cause you have so nobly 
served." 
Mr. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Assistant Secretary of the 
Navy, spent a few days in Brest in the early part of the 
summer of 1918, and made a tour of inspection of the naval 
activities in that region. He returned to the United States 
on the LEVIATHAN, accompanied by Prince Axel, of Den- 
mark. 

Mr. Oscar T. Crosby, Assistant Secretary of the Treas- 
ury, passed through Brest on two occasions, going to and 
from the United States in connection with his duties as 
Chairman of the Inter-Allied Financial Committee. In the 
late summer of 1918, he crossed on the LEVIATHAN and 
reached Brest just too late to take the last evening train to 
Paris. Mr. Crosby went to the Hotel. Here, a large dinner 
for Inter-Allied Army and Navy Officers was in progress. 
He was invited to join the group and was persuaded to make 
an impromptu address. His words were eloquent and were 
enthusiastically applauded. At that time victory was already 
in sight and it gave a new stimulus to the Americans present 
to hear from Mr. Crosby of the ever-increasing activities in 
the United States. 

Mr. Stettinius, Assistant Secretary of War, came to Brest 
on one of the naval transports. 

Senator J. Hamilton Lewis took passage to France on the 
LEVIATHAN in August, 1918. After a short time spent at 
the front, he returned to Brest and sailed thence on the 
MOUNT VERNON, September 4th. The following morn- 
ing, when about two hundred and fifty miles off the coast of 
France, the MOUNT VERNON was torpedoed. Senator 
Lewis hastened on deck and distinguished himself by helping 
to care for the sick and wounded who were on board. 

On board the MOUNT VERNON, when she was struck, 
were Congressman Thomas D. Schall and Mrs. Schall. who 



Distinguished Visitors 173 

were returning to the United States after an extensive trip 
among war activities in France. In a book recently published 
by the ship's company of the MOUNT VERNON, a special 
tribute was paid to the pluck and courage displayed by Mrs. 
Schall, the only woman on the ship at the time of the attack. 
She remained perfectly calm, her one thought being for the 
safety of her husband who is entirely blind. 

The Committee of Naval Affairs of the House of Repre- 
sentatives, including Mr. Lemuel P. Padgett, the Chairman, 
made an official visit to Naval Headquarters at Brest and made 
a tour of naval activities in that region. The Committee left 
Brest on the GEORGE WASHINGTON. 

Other members of Congress, travelling independently, 
frequently passed through Brest during the last months of the 
war. Among them was Mr. Swager Sherley, Chairman of the 
Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives. 

Mr. Samuel Gompers, President of the American Federa- 
tion of Labor, and his associates of the Labor Delegation, 
after spending some time in Europe, returned to America by 
transport from Brest. 

Mr. Otto Kahn and Mr. Paul Cravath of New York, both 
of whom rendered such valuable aid to the Government during 
the war, returned to the United States on Naval transports. 

Mr. James Kerney, Chairman of the American Committee 
on Public Information, came to Brest in April, 1918, to study 
the activities of the Navy an the coast of France. He was 
"accompanied by a staff of photographers and journalists. In 
the party was Mr. James Hazen Hyde of New York and 
Paris, who, afterward, published an article in "L'lllustration" 
on American naval activities. A few months later, Mr. Ker- 
ney again visited Brest, sailing thence for the United States. 

Mr. Ralph D. Paine, the well-known author, spent a 
considerable time on the coast of France, familiarizing him- 
self with the work of the Navy. He has since written several 
articles concerning the operations of American naval vessels 
in the Bay of Biscay. 

Another well-known writer, Mr. Samuel G. Blythe, 
gathered in Brest material for an article on our naval forces, 



174 The American Navy in France 

which he contributed to the "Saturday Evening Post." 

Mr, Wythe Williams, of the London "Daily Mail" and the 
Paris "Matin", visited Naval Headquarters on two occasions 
and wrote a number of excellent articles on activities there. 

Mr. Reginald Wright Kaufman, perhaps, devoted more 
time than any other American journalist to the performances 
of the Navy in France. He visited the different shore estab- 
lishments and the different types of ships operating in French 
waters. Later, his series of articles appeared in regard to the 
part played in the war by our naval forces, and his book on 
these activities has recently been published. 

Many French journalists and writers came to Brest to 
witness the arrival of convoys and to visit our headquarters. 
M. Eitienne Grosclaude, who contributes to the Paris "Figaro" 
and who is a prominent figure in French public life, not only 
inspected activities on shore, but was given passage on a 
destroyer which went out to sea, met and brought in a fast 
convoy of troopships. This experience he has admirably 
described in an article called: "The American Crusade". 

M. Andre Chevrillon, prominent among French literary 
men, made two visits to the naval base at Brest and recorded 
his observations in the "Revue de Paris". 

M. Georges Lacour-Gayet of the French Naval Institute, 
a man interested in and familiar with naval forces, came to 
Brest to examine the activities of the American Navy. He 
contributed accounts of them to French magazines. 

Among the other visitors was Claude Farrere, a retired 
Commander in the French Navy, and a well-known novelist. 
He, too, has written about the work of the American naval 
forces on the French coast. 

Captain Raoul Amundsen, came to Brest as the guest of 
the Commander, U. S. Naval Forces in France. Captain 
Amundsen was collecting material for a series of lectures. 
These, he delivered in the north-west in order to arouse in- 
terest and support for the United States in the war. 

Many other distinguished foreigners visited us in Brest. 
In August, 1918, President Poincare, accompanied by the 
Minister of Marine, the Chief of Staff of the French Army, 



Distinguished Visitors 175 

and a number of officers of the French Army and Navy, came 
to Brest on a special train to see the Headquarters of the 
United States Navy in France. 

During this visit, the President visited the PROME- 
THEUS and the LITTLE and went out into the harbor to 
witness the arrival of a convoy of troopships. Rear Admital 
Grassi, Italian Naval Attache at Paris, visited the Commander, 
U. S. Naval Forces in France, and saw something of the activ- 
ities in Brest. Rear Admiral Montosso, of the Brazilian Navy, 
made a brief stay while on his way to the Mediterranean. 
Rear Admiral Lovatelli, the present Naval Attache at Wash- 
ington, and Captain Saint-Seine, the French Naval Attache 
there, sailed for the United States on a naval transport from 
Brest. 

General Berthelot returned to France on the NORTH- 
ERN PACIFIC after a hurried trip to Washington. He 
reached Brest just before the great Allied oflfensive in July, 
1918, and went immediately to the front. 

Various religious leaders who were doing war work in 
France passed through Brest. Usually they made their plans 
so that it would be possible for them to delay long enough to 
speak to the forces of the Army and Navy. Bishop Mc- 
Cormick, of the Episcopal Church of Western Michigan, 
delivered a splendid address to naval men at the Carola 
Barracks. Among other religious leaders who came to Brest 
were Bishop Wilson of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
Bishop Perry, Bishop Brest and Rabbi Wise. 

Except nurses, not many women travelled on transports 
— most of the war workers travelled on French liners or came 
to France by way of England. Mrs. Reginald Wright Kauf- 
man (Riith Kaufman) was the only woman on board the 
NORTHERN PACIFIC on a return trip from France. An 
article by her, called "Back In an Empty" was published in 
a recent number of the "Outlook". Before sailing, Mr. and 
Mrs. Kaufman spent several days in Brest gathering material. 

Mrs. Margaret Deland, also, sailed from Brest on a trans- 
port. 

Another American woman who will not soon be forgotten 



176 The American Navy in France 

by the men of the Navy stationed at Brest, is Mrs. Burton 
Greene, better known by her stage name, Irene Franklin. 
Miss Franklin had just finished a strenuous month of playing 
at the front; nevertheless, even in bad weather, she gave at 
Brest all the performances possible before the departure of 
the NORTHERN PACIFIC on which ship she returned to 
America. 

Miss Kathleen Burke, of New York, well-known for her 
success in raising funds for war work, visited Naval head- 
quarters in Brest but did not return to the United States from 
that port. 



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