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Full text of "Full speed ahead;"

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LIBRARY 

THE UNIVERSITY 
OF CALIFORNIA 

SANTA BARBARA 



PRESENTED BY 

Dame Judith Anderson 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 



Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive 

in 2008 witii funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 



littp://www.arcliive.org/details/fullspeedalieadOObest 



FULL SPEED 
AHEAD 

Tales from the Log of a Correspondent 
with Our Navy 

BY 

HENRY B. BESTON 




Garden City NewYork 

DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY 

1919 



Copyright, 1919, by 

DOUBLEDAY, PaGE & CoMPANY 

All rights reserved, including that of 

translation into foreign languages, 

including the Scandinavian 



Copyright, 1918, by The Atlantic Monthly Company 

Copyright, 1918, by The Curtis Publishing Company 

Copyright, 1918, by The North American Review Pub. Co. 

Copyright, 191 8, by The American National Red Cross 

Copyright, 1918, by The Outlook Company 



To 

MAJOR GEORGE MAURICE SHEAHAN 

HARVARD UNIT R.A.M.C. 
A Forerunner of the Great Crusade. 



PREFACE 

These tales are memories of several months 
spent as a special correspondent attached 
to the forces of the American Navy on 
foreign service. Many of the little stories 
are personal experiences, though some are 
"written up" from the records and others 
set down after interviews. In writing them, 
I have not sought the laurels of an official 
historian, but been content to chronicle the 
interesting incidents of the daily life as well 
as the achievements and heroisms of the 
friends who keep the highways of the sea. 

To my hosts of the United States Navy 
one and all, I am under deep obligation for 
the courtesy and hospitality everywhere ex- 
tended to me on my visit. But surely the 
greatest of my obligations is that owed to 
Secretary Daniels for the personal permission 
which made possible my journey^ and for the 
good will with which he saw me on my way. 
And no acknowledgment, no matter how 

vii 



PREFACE 

studied or courtly its phrasing, can express 
what I owe to Admiral Sims for the friendliness 
of my reception, for his care that I be shown 
all the Navy's activities, and for his constant 
and kindly effort to advance my work in 
every possible way. To Admiral Hugh Rod- 
man of the battleship squadron, his sometime 
guest here renders thanks for the opportunity 
given him to spend some ten days aboard 
the American flagship and for the welcome 
which makes his stay aboard so pleasant a 
memory. 

To the following officers, also, am I much 
indebted: Captain, now Admiral Hughes, 
Captain J. R. Poinsett Pringle, Chief of Staff 
at the Irish Base, Captain Thomas Hart, 
Chief of Staff directing submarine operations, 
Commander Babcock and Commander 
Daniels, both of Admiral Sims' staff. Com- 
mander Bryant and Commander Carpender, 
both of Captain Pringle's staff, Commander 
Henry ,W. Cooke and Commander Wilson 
Brown, both of the destroyer flotilla. Lieutenant 
Horace H. Jalbert of the U. S. S. Bushnell, 
Lieutenant Commander Morton L. Deyo, 
Chaplain J. L. Neff, Lieutenant F. H. King, 

viii 



PREFACE 

Lieutenant Lanman, Lieutenant Herrick, 
and Lieutenant Lewis Hancock, Lieu- 
tenant George Hood and Lieutenant Bumpus 
of our submarines. 

I would not end without a word of thanks 
to the enUsted men for their unfaiHng good 
will and ever courteous behaviour. 

To Mr. Ellery Sedgwick of the Atlantic 
Monthly, under whose colours I had the 
honour to make my journalistic cruise, I 
am indebted for more friendly help, counsel 
and encouragement than I shall ever be able 
to repay. And I shall not easily forget the 
kindly offices and unfailing hospitality of 
Captain Luke C. Doyle of Washington, D. C, 
and Mr. Sidney A. Mitchell of the London 
Committee of the United States Food Ad- 
ministration. 

Lucky is the correspondent sent to the 
Navy! 

H. B. B. 

TOPSFIELD AND QuiNCY, 1919 



IX 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

Preface vii 

I An Heroic Journey 3 

II Into the Dark 12 

III Friend or Foe? 19 

IV Running Submerged 29 

V The Return of the Captains . . 44 

VI Our Sailors 50 

VII The Base 55 

VIII The Destroyer and Her Problem . 63 

IX Torpedoed 70 

X The End of a Submarine ... 76 

XI "Fishing" 85 

XII Amusements 93 

XIII Storm 99 

XIV On Night Patrol 105 

XV Camouflage 120 

XVI Tragedy 125 

XVII "Consolidation not Cooperation" 130 

XVIII Machine against Machine . . . 134 

XIX The Legend of Kelley .... 138 
xi 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

XX Sons of the Trident 141 

XXI The Fleet 149 

XXII The American Squadron .... 153 

XXIII To Sea with the Fleet .... 160 

XXIV "Sky Pilots" 171 

XXV In the Wireless Room .... 177 

XXVI Marines 182 

XXVII Ships of the Air 189 

XXVIII The Sailor in London .... 197 

XXIX The Armed Guard 204 

XXX Going Aboard 211 

XXXI Grain 218 

XXXII Collision 229 

XXXIII The Raid by the River .... 234 

XXXIV On having been both a Soldier and 

A Sailor 245 



Xll 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

"A destroyer is by no means a paradise 
, of comfort" Frontispiece 

PACING 
PAGE 

A jQock of submarines and the "mother" ship 
in harbom' 14 

American destroyer on patrol 68 

The last of a German U-boat 82 

To enjoy their leisure between watches these 
officers of an American destroyer lash them- 
selves into their seats 114 

An American battleship fleet leaving the harbour 156 

Even a super-dreadnought is wet at times . . 164 

An American gun crew in heavy weather (winter) 
outfit 206 



33U 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 



AN HEROIC JOURNEY 

A LONDON day of soft and smoky skies 
darkened every now and then by capri- 
cious and intrusive little showers was 
drawing to a close in a twilight of gold and 
grey. Our table stood in a bay of plate glass 
windows over-looking the embankment close 
by Cleopatra's needle; we watched the little, 
double-decked tram cars gliding by, the 
opposing, interthreading streams of pedes- 
trians, and a fleet of coal barges coming up 
the river solemn as a cloud. Behind us lay, 
splendid and somewhat theatric, the mottled 
marble, stiff, white napery, and bright silver 
of a fashionable dining hall. Only a few 
guests were at hand. At our little table sat 
the captain of a submarine who was then in 
London for a few days on richly merited leave, 
a distinguished young officer of the "mother 

3 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

ship" accompanying our under water craft, 
and myself. It is impossible to be long with 
submarine folk without realizing that they 
are a people apart, differing from the rest of 
the Naval personnel even as their vessels differ. 
A man must have something individual to 
his character to volunteer for the service, 
and every officer is a volunteer. An extraor- 
dinary power of quick decision, a certain 
keen, resolute look, a certain carriage; sub- 
marine folk are such men as all of us pray to 
have by our side in any great trial or crisis 
of our life. 

Guests began to come by twos and threes, 
girls in pretty shimmering dresses, young army 
officers with wound stripes and clumsy limps; a 
faint murmur of conversation rose, faint and 
continuous as the murmur of a distant stream. 

Because I requested him, the captain told 
me of the crossing of the submarines. It 
was the epic of an heroic journey. 

"After each boat had been examined in 
detail, we began to fill them with supplies for 
the voyage. The crew spent days manoeu- 
vring cases of condensed milk, cans of butter, 
meat, and chocolate down the hatchways, 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

food which the boat swallowed up as if she 
had been a kind of steel stomach. Until we 
had it all neatly and tightly stowed away, 
the Z looked like a corner grocery store. 
Then early one December morning we pulled 
out of the harbour. It wasn't very cold, merely 
raw and damp, and it was misty dark. I 
remember looking at the w^inter stars riding 
high just over the meridian. The port behind 
us was still and dead, but a handful of navy 
folk had come to one of the wharves to see 
us off. Yes, there was something of a stir, 
you know the kind of stir that's made when 
boats go to sea, shouted orders, the splash of 
dropped cables, vagrant noises. It didn't 
take a great time to get under way; we were 
ready, waiting for the word to go. The flotilla, 
mother-ship, tugs and all, was out to sea long 
before the dawn. You would have liked the 
picture, the immense stretch of the greyish, 
winter-stricken sea, the little covey of sub- 
marines running awash, the grey mother-ship 
going ahead casually as an excursion steamer 
into the featureless dawn. The weather was 
wonderful for two days, a touch of Indian 
summer on December's ocean, then on the 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

night of the third day we ran into a blow, 
the worst I ever saw in my Hfe. A storm. 
. . . Oh boy!" 

He paused for an instant to flick the ashes 
from his cigarette with a neat, dehberate 
gesture. One could see memories living in 
the fine, resolute eyes. The broken noises 
of the restaurant which had seemingly died 
away while he spoke crept back again to one's 
ears. A waiter dropped a clanging fork. 

"A storm. Never remember anything like 
it. A perfect terror. Everybody realized that 
any attempt to keep together would be 
hopeless. And night was coming on. One 
by one the submarines disappeared into that 
fury of wind and driving water; the mother- 
ship, because she was the largest vessel in the 
flotilla, being the last we saw. We snatched 
her last signal out of the teeth of the gale, 
and then she was gone, swallowed up in the 
storm. So we were alone. 

We got through the night somehow or other. 
The next morning the ocean was a dirty 
brown-gre3% and knots and wisps of cloud 
were tearing by close over the water. Every 
once in a while a great, hollow-bellied wave 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

would come rolling out of the hullaballoo and 
break thundering over us. On all the boats 
the lookout on the bridge had to be lashed in 
place, and every once in a while a couple of 
tons of water would come tumbling past 
him. Nobody at the job stayed dry for more 
than three minutes; a bathing suit would 
have been more to the point than oilers. 
Shaken, you ask.^ No, not very bad, a few 
assorted bruises and a wrenched thumb, 
though poor Jonesie on the Z3 had a wave 
knock him up against the rail and smash in 
a couple of ribs. But no being sick for him, 
he kept to his feet and carried on in spite of 
the pain, in spite of being in a boat which 
registered a roll of seventy degrees. I used 
to watch the old hooker rolling under me. 
You've never been on a submarine when she's 
rolling — talk about rolling — oh boy! We 
all say seventy degrees because that's as far 
as our instruments register. There were times 
when I almost thought she was on her way 
to make a complete revolution. You can 
imagine what it was like inside. To begin 
with, the oily air was none too sweet, because 
every time we opened a hatch we shipped 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

enough water to make the old hooker look 
like a start at a swimming tank, and then 
she was lurching so continuously and vio- 
lently that to move six feet was an expedition. 
But the men were wonderful, wonderful! 
Each man at his allotted task, and — what's 
that English word, . . . carrying on. Our 
little cook couldn't do a thing with the stove, 
might as well have tried to cook on a minia- 
ture earthquake, but he saw that all of us had 
something to eat, doing his bit, game as 
could be." 

He paused again. The embankment was 
fading in the dark. A waiter appeared, and 
drew down the thick, light-proof curtains. 

"Yes, the men were wonderful — wonderful. 
And there wasn't very much sickness. Let's 
see, how far had I got — since it was impossible 
to make any headway we lay to for forty- 
eight hours. The deck began to go the second 
morning, some of the plates being ripped 
right off. And blow — well as I told you in 
the beginning, I never saw anything like 
it. The disk of the sea was just one great, 
ragged mass of foam all being hurled through 
space by a wind screaming by with the voice 

8 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

and force of a million express trains. Perhaps 
you are wondering why we didn't submerge. 
Simply couldn't use up our electricity. It 
takes oil running on the surface to create the 
electric power, and we had a long, long 
journey ahead. Then ice began to form on 
the superstructure, and we had to get out 
a crew to chop it off. It was something of a 
job; there wasn't much to hang on to, and 
the waves were still breaking over us. But 
we freed her of the danger, and she went 
on. 

We used to wonder where the other boys 
were in the midst of all the racket. One was 
drifting towards the New England coast, 
her compass smashed to flinders; others had 
run for Bermuda, others were still at sea. 

Then we had three days of good easterly 
wind. By jingo, but the good weather was 
great, were we glad to have it — oh boy! 
We had just got things ship-shape again when 
we had another blow but this second one was 
by no means as bad as the first. And after 
that we had another spell of decent weather. 
The crew used to start the phonograph and 
keep it going all day long. 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

The weather was so good that I decided 
to keep right on to the harbour which was 
to be our base over here. I had enough oil, 
plenty of water, the only possible danger 
was a shortage of provisions. So I put us all 
on a ration, arranging to have the last grand 
meal on Christmas day. Can you imagine 
Christmas on a little, storm-bumped sub- 
marine some hundred miles off the coast.'' 
A day or two more and we ran calmly into 
. . . Shall we say deleted harbour? 

Hungry, dirty, oh so dirty, we hadn't 
had any sort of bath or wash for about 
three weeks; we all were green looking from 
having been cooped up so long, and our 
unshaven, grease-streaked faces would have 
upset a dinosaur. The authorities were 
wonderfully kind and looked after us and 
our men in the very best style. I thought 
we could never stop eating and a real sleep, 
... oh boy! 

"Did you fly the flag as you came in?" I 
asked. 

"You bet~we did!" answered the captain, 
his keen, handsome face lighting at the mem- 
ory. "You see," he continued in a practical 

10 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

spirit, "they would probably have pumped 
us full of holes if we hadn't." 

And that is the way that the American sub- 
marines crossed the Atlantic to do their share 
for the Great Cause. 



11 



n 

INTO THE DARK 

I GOT to the Port of the Submarines just 
as an uncertain and rainy afternoon had 
finally decided to turn into a wild and dis- 
agreeable night. Short, drenching showers of 
rain fell one after the other like the strokes of 
a lash, a wind came up out of the sea, and one 
could hear the thunder of surf on the head- 
lands. The mother ship lay moored in a wild, 
desolate and indescribably romantic bay; 
she floated in a sheltered pool a very oasis 
of modernity, a marvellous creature of another 
world and another time. There was just 
light enough for me to see that her lines were 
those of a giant yacht. Then a curtain of 
rain beat hissing down upon the sea, and the 
ship and the vague darkening landscape dis- 
appeared, disappeared as if it might have 
melted away in the shower. Presently the 
bulk of the vessel appeared again: gliding and 
tossing at once we drew alongside, and from 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

that moment on, I was the guest of the 
vessel, recipient of a hospitality and courtesy 
for which I here make grateful acknowl- 
edgment to my friends and hosts. 

The mother ship of the submarines was a 
combination of flag ship, supply station, 
repair shop and hotel. The officers of the 
submarines had rooms aboard her which 
they occupied when off patrol, and the 
crews off duty slung their hammocks 'tween 
decks. The boat was pretty well crowded, 
having more submarines to look after than 
she had been built to care for, but thanks 
to the skill of her officers, everything was 
going as smoothly as could be. The vessel 
had, so to speak, a submarine atmosphere. 
Everybody aboard lived, worked and would 
have died for the submarine. They believed 
in the submarine, believed in it with an en- 
thusiasm which rested on pillars of practical 
fact. The Chief of Staff was the youngest 
captain in our Navy, a man of hard energy 
and keen insight, one to whom our submarine 
service owes a very genuine debt. His officers 
were specialists. The surgeon of the vessel 
had been for years engaged in studying the 

13 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

hygiene of submarines, and was constantly 
working to free the atmosphere of the vessels 
from deleterious gases and to improve the 
living conditions of the crews. I remember 
listening one night to a history of the sub- 
marine told by one of the officers of the staff, 
and for the first time in my life I came to 
appreciate at its full value the heroism of 
the men who risked their lives in the first 
cranky, clumsy, uncertain little vessels, and 
the imagination and the faith of the men 
who believed in the type. Ten years ago, 
a descent in a sub was an adventure to 
be prefaced by tears and making of wills; 
to-day submarines are chasing submarines 
hundreds of miles at sea, are crossing the 
ocean, and have grown from a tube of steel 
not much larger than a life boat to under- 
water cruisers which carry six-inch guns. 
Said an officer to me: 

"The future of the submarine? Why, sir, 
the submarine is the only war vessel that's 
going to have a future!" 

On the night of my arrival, once dinner 
was over, I went on deck and looked down 
through the rain at the submarines moored 

14 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

alongside. They lay close by, one beside 
the other, in a pool of radiance cast by a num- 
ber of electric lights hanging over each open 
hatchway. Beyond this pool lay the rain and 
the dark; within it, their sides awash in the 
clear green water of the bay, their grey bridges 
and rust- stained superstructures shining in 
the rain, lay the strange, bulging, crocodilian 
shapes of steel. There was something un- 
earthly, something not of this world or time 
in the picture; I might have been looking 
at invaders of the sleeping earth. The wind 
swept past in great booming salvoes; rain 
fell in sloping, liquid rods through the bril- 
liancy of electric lamps burning with a steadi- 
ness that had something in it of strange, 
incomprehensible and out of place in the mo- 
tion and hullabaloo of the storm. And then, 
too, a hand appeared on the topmost rung of 
the nearer ladder, and a bulky sailor, a very 
human sailor in very human dungarees, poked 
his head out of the aperture, surveyed the 
inhospitable night, and disappeared. 

"He's on Branch's boat. They're going 
out to-night," said the officer who was guiding 
me about. 

15 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

'* To-night? How on earth will he ever 
find his way to the open sea?" 

"Knows the bay Hke a book. However, 
if the weather gets any worse, I doubt if the 
captain will let him go. George will be wild 
if they don't let him out. Somebody has 
just reported wreckage off the coast, so there 
must be a Hun round." 

"But are not our subs sometimes mistaken 
for Germans?" 

"Oh, yes," was the calm answer. 

I thought of that ominous phrase I 
had noted in the British records "failed 
to report," and I remembered the stolid 
British captain who had said to me, speak- 
ing of submarines, "Sometimes nobody 
knows just what happened. Out there in 
the deep water, whatever happens, happens 
in a hurry." My guide and I went below 
to the officers' corridor. Now and then, 
through the quiet, a mandolin or guitar 
could be heard far off twanging some 
sentimental island ditty, and beneath these 
sweeter sounds lay a monotonous mechanical 
humming. 

"AMiat's that sound?" I asked. 

16 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

"That's the Filipino mess boys having a 
little festino in their quarters. The humming? 
Oh, that's the mother-ship's dynamos charg- 
ing the batteries of Branch's boat. Saves 
running on the surface." 

My guide knocked at a door. Within his 
tidy, little room, the captain who was to 
go out on patrol was packing the personal 
belongings he needed on the trip. 

"Hello, Jally!" he cried cheerily when he 
saw us. "Come on in. I am only doing a 
little packing up. What's it like outside?" 

"Raining same as ever, but I don't think 
it's blowing up any harder." 

"Hooray!" cried the young captain with 
heart-felt sincerity. "Then I'll get out to- 
night. You know the captain told me that 
if it got any worse he'd hold me till to-morrow 
morning. I told him I'd rather go out to- 
night. Perfect cinch once you get to the 
mouth of the bay, all you have to do is sub- 
merge and take it easy. What do you think 
of the news? Smithie thinks he saw a Hun 
yesterday. . . . Got anything good to read? 
Somebody's pinched that magazine I was 
reading. Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, that 

17 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

ought to be enough handkerchiefs. . . . Hello, 
there goes the juice." 

The humming of the dynamo was dying 
away slowly, fading with an effect of length- 
ening distance. The guitar orchestra, as if 
to celebrate its deliverance, burst into a 
triumphant rendering of Sousa's "Stars and 
Stripes." 

My guide and I waited till after midnight 
to watch the going of Branch's Z5. Branch 
and his second, wearing black oilskins down 
whose gleaming surface ran beaded drops 
of rain, stood on the bridge; a number of 
sailors were busy doing various things along 
the deck. The electric lights shone in all their 
calm unearthly brilliance. Then slowly, very 
slowly, the Z5 began to gather headway, 
the clear water seemed to flow past her green 
sides, and she rode out of the pool of light 
into the darkness waiting close at hand. 

"Good-bye! Good luck!" we cried. 

A vagrant shower came roaring down into 
the shining pool. 

"Good-bye!" cried voices through the night. 

Three minutes later all trace of the Z5 had 
disappeared in the dark. 

18 



Ill 

FRIEND OR FOE? 

CAPTAIN BILL of the Z3 was out on 
patrol. His vessel was running sub- 
merged. The air within, they had 
but recently dived, was new and sweet, and 
that raw cold which eats into submerged 
submarines had not begun to take the joy 
out of life. It was the third day out; the time, 
five o'clock in the afternoon. The outer world, 
however, did not penetrate into the submarine. 
Night or day, on the surface or submerged, 
only one time, a kind of motionless electric 
high noon existed within those concave walls 
of gleaming cream white enamel. Those of 
the crew not on watch were taking it easy. 
Like unto their officers, submarine sailors 
are an unusual lot. They are real sailors, 
or machinist sailors, boys for whose quality' 
the Navy has a flattering, picturesque and 
quite unprintable adjective. A submarine 

19 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

man, mind you, works harder than perhaps 
any other man of his grade in the Navy, 
because the vessel in which he lives is nothing 
but a tremendously intricate machine. In 
one of the compartments the phonograph, 
the eternal, ubiquitous phonograph of the 
Navy, was bawling its raucous rags and me- 
chano-nasal songs, and in the pauses between 
records one could just hear the low hum of 
the distant dynamos. A little group in blue 
dungarees held a conversation in a corner; 
a petty officer, blue cap tilted back on his head, 
was at w^ork on a letter; the cook, whose 
genial art was customarily under an interdict 
while the vessel was running submerged, was 
reading an ancient paper from his own home 
to^\^l. 

Captain Bill sat in a retired nook, if a sub- 
marine can possibly be said to have a retired 
nook, with a chart spread open on his knees. 
The night before he had picked up a wire- 
less message saying that a German had been 
seen at sundown in a certain spot on the edge 
of his patrol. So Captain Bill had planned to 
run submerged to the spot in question, and 
then pop up suddenly in the hope of potting 

20 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

the Hun. Some fifteen minutes before sun 
down, therefore, the Z3 arrived at the place 
where the Fritz had been observed. 

*'I wish I knew just where the bird was," 
said an intent voice. "I'd drop a can right on 
his neck." 

These sentiments were not those of any- 
body aboard the Z3. An i\.merican destroyer 
had also come to the spot looking for the 
German, and the gentle thought recorded 
above was that of her captain. It was just 
sun down, a level train of splendour burned 
on the ruffled waters to the west; a light, 
cheerful breeze was blowing. The destroyer, 
ready for anything, was hurrying along at a 
smart clip. 

"This is the place all right, all right," 
said the navigator of the destroyer. "Come 
to think of it, that chap's been reported from 
here twice." 

Keen eyes swept the shining uneasy plain. 

Meanwhile, some seventy feet below, the 
Z3 manoeuvred, killing time. The phono- 
graph had been hushed, and every man was 
ready at his post. The prospect of a go with 

21 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

the enemy had brought with it a keen thrill of 
anticipation. Now a submarine crew is a 
well trained machine. There are no shouted 
orders. If a submarine captain wants to 
send his boat under quickly, he simply touches 
the button of a Klaxon, the horn gives a 
demoniac yell throughout the ship, and each 
man does what he ought to do at once. Such 
a performance is called a ''crash dive." 

"I'd like to see him come up so near that we 
could ram him," said the captain, gazing 
almost directly into the sun. "Find out 
what she's making." 

The engineer lieutenant stooped to a voice- 
tube that almost swallowed up his face, 
and yelled a question to the engine room. 
An answer came, quite unheard by the 
others. 

"Twenty-four, sir," said the engineer lieu- 
tenant. 

"Get her up to twenty-six," said the cap- 
tain. 

The engineer cried again through the voice 
tube. The wake of the vessel roared like a 
mill race, the white foam tumbling rosily in 
the setting sun. 

32 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

Seventy feet below, Captain Bill was ar- 
ranging the last little details with the second 
in command. 

"In about five minutes we'll come up and 
take a look-see (stick up the periscope) 
and if we see the bird, and we're in a good 
position to send him a fish (torpedo) we'll 
let him have one. If there is something there, 
and we're not in a good position, we'll ma- 
noeuvre till we get into one, and then let him 
have it. If there isn't anything to be seen, 
we'll go under again and take another look- 
see in half an hour. Reilly has his instruc- 
tions." Reilly was chief of the torpedo room. 

"Something round here must have got it 
in the neck recently," said the destroyer 
captain, breaking a silence which had hung 
over the bridge. "Did not you think that 
wreckage a couple of miles back looked pretty 
fresh.^ Wonder if the boy we're after had 
anything to do with it. Keep an eye on that 
sun streak." 

An order was given in the ^3. It was 
followed instantly by a kind of commotion, 
sailors opened valves, compressed air ran 

23 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

down pipes, the ratchets of the wheel clat- 
tered noisily. On the moon-faced depth gauge 
with its shining brazen rim, the recording 
arrow fled swiftly, counter clockwise, from 
seventy to twenty to fifteen feet. . . . Cap- 
tain Bill stood crouching at the periscope, and 
when it broke the surface, a greenish light 
poured down it and focussed in his eyes. He 
gazed keenly for a few seconds, and then 
reached for the horizontal wheel which turns 
the periscope round the horizon. He turned 
. . . gazed, jumped back, and pushed the 
button for a crash dive. 

*' She was almost on top of me," he explained 
afterwards. "Coming like H — 1. I had to 
choose between being rammed or depth 
bombed." 

There was another swift commotion, 
another opening and closing of valves, and 
the arrow on the depth gauge leaped forward. 
Captain Bill was sending her down as far 
as he could as fast as he dared. Fifty feet, 
seventy feet, . . . ninety feet. Hoping to 
throw the destroyer off, the Z3 doubled on 
her track. A hundred feet. 

Crash ! Depth charge number one. 

24 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

According to Captain Bill, who is good at 
similes, it was as if a giant, wading along 
through the sea, had given the boat a vast 
and violent kick, and then leaning down 
had shaken it as a terrier shakes a rat. The 
Z3 rocked, lay on her side, and fell through 
the depths. A number of lights went out. 
Men picked themselves out of corners, one 
with the blood streaming down his face from 
a bad gash over his eye. Many of them 
told later of "seeing stars" when the vibra- 
tion of the depth charge travelled through 
the hull and their own bodies; some averred 
that "white light" seemed to shoot out of 
the Z3's walls. Each man stood at his post 
waiting for the next charge. 

Crash! A second depth charge. To every 
one's relief, it was less violent than the first. 
A few more lights went out. Meanwhile the 
Z3 continued to sink and was rapidly nearing 
the danger point. Having escaped the first 
two depth charges. Captain Bill hastened 
to bring the boat up to a higher level. Then 
to make things cheerful, it was discovered 
that the Z3 showed absolutely no inclination 
to obey her controls. 

25 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

"At first," said Captain Bill, "I thought 
that the first depth bomb must have jammed 
all the external machinery, then I decided 
that our measures to rise had not yet over- 
come the impetus of our forced descent. 
Meanwhile the old hooker was heading for 
the bottom of the Irish Sea, though I'd 
blown out every bit of water in her tanks. 
Had to, fifty feet more, and she would have 
crushed in like an egg shell under the wheel 
of a touring car. But she kept on going down. 
The distance of the third, fourth and fifth 
depth bombs, however, put cheer in our hearts. 
Then, presently, she began to rise. The old 
girl came up like an elevator in a New York 
business block. I knew that the minute I 
came to the surface those destroyer brutes 
would try to fill me full of holes, so I had a 
man with a flag ready to jump on deck the 
minute we emerged. He was pretty damn 
spry about it, too. I took another look-see 
through the periscope, and saw that the de- 
stroyer lay about two miles away, and as I 
looked she came for me again. Meanwhile, 
my signal man was hauling himself out of the 
hatchway as if his legs were in boiling water." 

26 



\ FULL SPEED AHEAD 

"W^Ve got her!" cried somebody aboard 
the de&troyer in a deep American voice full 
of the exultation of battle. The lean rifles 
swung, lowered. . . . "Point one, lower." 
They were about to hear "Fire!" when the 
Stars and Stripes and sundry other signals 
burst from the deck of the misused Z3. 

"Well what do you think of that?" said 
the gunner. "If it ain't one of our own gang. 
Say, we must have given it to 'em hard." 

"We'll go over and see who it is," said the 
captain of the destroyer. "The signals are 
O. K., but it may be a dodge of the Huns. 
Ask 'em who they are." 

In obedience to the order, a sailor on the 
destroyer's bridge wigwagged the message. 

"Z3," answered one of the dungaree-clad 
figures on the submarine's deck. Captain 
Bill came up himself, as the destroyer drew 
alongside, to see his would-be assassin. There 
was no resentment in his heart. The adven- 
ture was only part of the day's work. The 
destroyer neared; her bow overlooked them. 
The two captains looked at each other. The 
diaglogue was laconic. 

"Hello, Bill," said the destroyer captain. 

27 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

"All right?" 

**Sure," answered Captain Bill, to one who 
had been his friend and class mate. 

"Ta, ta, then," said he of the destroyer, 
and the lean vessel swept away in the twi- 
light. 

Captain Bill decided to stay on the surface 
for a while. Then he went below to look 
over things. The cook, standing over some 
unlovely slop which marked the end of a 
half dozen eggs broken by the concussion, 
w^as giving his opinion of the undue hastiness 
of destroyers. The cook was a child of 
Brooklyn, and could talk. The opinion was 
not flattering. 

"Give it to 'em, cooko," said one of the 
crew, patting the orator affectionately on 
the shoulder. "We're with you." 

And Captain Bill laughed. 



28 



IV 

RUNNING SUBMERGED 

IT WAS breakfast time, and the officers 
of the submarines then in port had 
gathered round one end of the long 
dining table in the wardroom of the mother 
ship. Two or three who had breakfasted 
early had taken places on a bench along the 
nearer wall and were examining a disinte- 
grating heap of English and American maga- 
zines, whilst pushed back from the table 
and smoking an ancient briar, the senior of 
the group read the wireless news which had 
just arrived that morning. The news was 
not of great Importance. The lecture done 
with, the tinkle of cutlery and silver, which 
had been politely hushed, broke forth again. 

*'What are you doing this morning, Bill?" 
said one of the young captains to another who 
had appeared in old clothes. 

"Going out at about half past nine with 
the XIO. (The XlO was a British sub- 

' 29 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

marine.) Just joing to take a couple of shots 
at each other. What are you up to.'^" 

"Oh, I've got to give a bearing the once 
over, and then I've got to write a bunch of 
letters." 

"Wouldn't you like to come with us?" 
said the first speaker, pausing over a steaming 
dish of breakfast porridge. "Be mighty 
glad to take you." 

"Indeed I would," I replied with joy in 
my heart. "All my life long I have wanted 
to take a trip in a submarine." 

"That's fine! We'll get you some dunga- 
rees. Can't fool round a submarine in good 
clothes." The whole table began to take a 
friendly interest, and a dispute arose as to 
whose clothes would best fit me. I am a 
large person. "Give him my extra set, 
they're on the side of my locker." "Don't 
you want a cap or something?" "Hey, 
that's too small, wait and I'll get Tom's 
coat." "Try these on." They are a wonder- 
ful lot, the submarine officers. 

I felt frightfully submarinish in my outfit. 
We must have made a picturesque group. 
The captain led off, wearing .a tattered, 

30 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

battered, old uniform of Annapolis days, I 
followed wearing an old Navy cap jammed 
on the side of my head and a suit of newly 
laundered dungarees; the second officer 
brought up the rear; his outfit consisted of 
dungaree trousers, a kind of aviator's waist- 
coat, and an old cloth cap. 

The submarines were moored close by tne 
side of the mother ship, a double doorway 
in the wall of the machine shop on the lower 
deck opening directly upon them. A narrow 
runway connected the nearest vessel with the 
sill of this aperture, and mere planks led from 
one superstructure to another. The day, 
first real day after weeks of rain, was soft 
and clear, great low masses of vapour, neither 
mist nor cloud, but something of both, swept 
down the long bay on the wings of the 
wind from the clean, sweet-smelling sea; the 
sun shone like ancient silver. Little fretful 
waves of water clear as the water of a spring 
coursed down the alley ways between the 
submarines; gulls, piping and barking, whirled 
like snow flakes overhead. I crossed to one 
grey alligatorish superstructure, looked down 
a narrow circular hatch at whose floor I could 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

see the captain waiting for my coming, 
grasped the steel rings of a narrow ladder, 
and descended into the submarine. The 
first impression was of being surrounded by 
tremendous, almost incredible complexity. 
A bewildering and intricate mass of delicate 
mechanical contrivances, valves, stop cocks, 
wheels, chains, shining pipes, ratchets, faucets, 
oil-cups, rods, gauges. Second impression, 
bright cleanliness, shining brass, gleams of 
steely radiance, stainless walls of white enamel 
paint. Third impression, size; there was 
much more room than I had expected. Of 
course everything is to be seen by floods 
of stead}^ electric light, since practically no 
daylight filters down through an open hatch- 
way. 

"This," said the captain, "is the control 
room. Notice the two depth gauges, two in 
case one gets out of order. That thick tube 
with a brass thread coiled about it is a 
periscope, and it's a peach ! It's of the 'hous- 
ing' kind and winds up and down along 
that screw. The thread prevents any leak 
of water. In here," we went through a 
lateral compartment with a steel door, thick 

32 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

as that of a small safe, *'is a space where 
we eat, sleep and live; our cook stove is that 
gadget in the corner. We don't do much cook- 
ing when we're running submerged; in here," 
we passed another stout partition, "is our 
Diesel engine, and our dynamos. Up forward 
is another living space which technically 
belongs to the officers, and the torpedo room." 
He took me along. "Now you've seen it all. 
A fat steel cigar, divided into various com- 
partments and cram jammed full of shining 
machinery. Of course, there's no privacy, 
whatsoever. (Readers will have to guess 
what is occasionally used for the phonograph 
table.) Our space is so limited that designers 
will spend a year arguing where to put an 
object no bigger than a soap box. We get 
on very well however. Every crew gets used 
to its boat; the men get used to each other. 
They like the life; you couldn't drag them 
back to surface vessels. An ideal submarine 
crew works like a perfect machine. When we 
go out you'll see that we give our orders by 
Klaxon. There's too much noise for the voice. 
Suppose I had popped up on the surface 
right under the very nose of one of those 

33 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

destroyer brutes. She might start to ram me; 
in which case I might not have time to make 
recognition signals and would have to take 
my choice between getting rammed or depth 
bombed. I decide to submerge, push a button, 
the Klaxon gives a yell, and every man does 
automatically what he has been trained to 
do. A floods the tanks, B stands by the 
dynamos, C watches the depth gauges and 
so on. That's what we call a crash dive." 

*'Over at the destroyer base," I said, 
"they told me that the Germans were having 
trouble because of lack of trained crews." 

"You can just bet they are," said the 
captain. "Must have lost several boats 
that way. Can't monkey with these boats; 
if somebody pulls a fool stunt — Good Night!" 
He opened a gold watch and closed it again 
with a click. "Nine o'clock, just time to shove 
off. Come up on the bridge until we get out 
in the bay." 

I climbed the narrow ladder again and crept 
along the superstructure to the bridge which 
rose for all the world like a little grey steel 
pulpit. One has to be reasonably sure-footed. 
It was curious to emerge from the electric 

34 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

lighted marvel to the sunlight of the bay, to 
the view of the wild mountains descending to 
the clear sea. The captain gave his orders. 
Faint, vague noises rose out of the hatch- 
way; sailors standing at various points 
along the superstructure cast off the mooring 
ropes and took in bumpers shaped like 
monstrous sausages of cord which had 
protected one bulging hull from another; 
the submarine went ahead solemnly as a 
planet. Friendly faces leaned over the rail 
of the mother ship high above. 

Once out into the bay, I asked the second 
in command just what we were up to. The 
second in command was a well knit youngster 
with the coolest, most resolute blue eyes it 
has ever been my fortune to see. 

"We're going to take shots at a British 
submarine and then she's going to have a try 
at us. We don't really fire torpedoes — but 
manoeuvre for a position. Three shots apiece. 
There she is now, running on the surface. 
Just as soon as we get out to deep water 
we'll submerge and go for her. Great prac- 
tice." 

A British submarine, somewhat larger than 

35 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

our American boat, was running down the 
bay, pushing curious little waves of water 
ahead of her. Several men stood on her 
deck. 

"Nice boat, isn't she? Her captain's a 
great scout. About two months ago a patrol 
boat shot off his periscope after he made it 
reasonably clear he wasn't a Hun. You 
ought to hear him tell about it. Especially 
his opinion of patrol boat captains. Great 
command of language. Bully fellow, born 
submarine man." 

"I meant to ask you if you weren't some- 
times mistaken for a German," I said. 

"Yes, it happens," he answered coolly. 
"You haven't seen Smithie yet, have you.'^ 
Guess he was away when you came. A 
bunch of destroj'-ers almost murdered him 
last month. He's come the nearest to kissing 
himself good-bye of any of us. Going to dive 
now, time to get under." 

Once more down the steel ladder. I was 
getting used to it. The handful of sailors 
who had been on deck waited for us to pass. 
Within, the strong, somewhat peppery smell 
of hot oil from the Diesel engines floated, 

36 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

and there was to be heard a hard, powerful 
knocking-spitting sound from the same source. 
The hatch cover was secured, a Hstener 
might have heard a steely thump and a 
grind as it closed. Men stood calmly by the 
depth gauges and the valves. Not being a 
"crash dive," the feat of getting under was 
accomplished quietly, accomplished with no 
more fracas than accompanies the running 
of a motor car up to a door. One instant we 
were on the surface, the next instant we 
were under, and the lean black arrow on the 
broad moon-faced depth gauge was beginning 
to creep from ten to fifteen, from fifteen to 
twenty, from twenty to twenty -five. . . . 
The clatter of the Diesel engine had ceased; 
in its place rose a low hum. And of course 
there was no alteration of light, nothing but 
that steady electric glow on those cold, clean 
bulging walls. 

''What's the programme, now?" 
"We are going down the bay a bit, put up 
our periscope, pick up the Britisher, and 
fire an imaginary tin fish at him., After each 
shot, we come to the surface for an instant 
to let him know we've had our turn." 

37 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

"What depth are we now?" 

"Only fifty-five feet." 

"What depth can you go?" 

"The Navy Regulations forbid our descend- 
ing more than two hundred feet. Subs are 
always hiking around about fifty or seventy- 
five feet under, just deep enough to be well 
under the keel of anything going by." 

"WTiere are we now?" 

"Pretty close to the mouth of the bay. 
I'm going to shove up the periscope in a few 
minutes." 

The captain gave an order, the arrow 
on the dial retreated towards the left. 

"Keep her there." He applied his eye 
to the periscope. A strange, watery green 
light poured out of the lens, and focussing in 
his eye, lit the ball with wild demoniac glare. 
A consultation ensued between the captain 
and his junior. 

"Do you see her?" 

"Yes, she is in a line with that little white 
barn on the island. . . . She's heading down 
the bay now. ... So many points this way 
(this last direction to the helmsman) . . . 
there she is . . . she's making about twelve 

38 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

. . . she's turning, coming back . . , steady 
. . . five, . . . six . . . Fire!" 

There was a rush, a clatter, and a stir and 
the boat rose evenly to the surface. 

"Here, take a look at her," said the cap- 
tain, pushing me towards the periscope. I 
fitted the eyepieces (they might have been 
those of field glasses embedded in the tube) 
to my eyes, and beheld again the outer world. 
The kind of a world one might see in a crystal, 
a mirror world, a glass world, but a remarkably 
clear little world. And as I peered, a drop 
of water cast up by some wave touched the 
outer lens of the tube, and a trickle big as 
a deluge slid down the visionary bay. 

Twice again we "attacked" the Britisher. 
Her turn came. Our boat rose to the surface, 
and I was once more invited to accompany 
the captain to the bridge. The British boat 
lay far away across the inlet. We cruised 
about watching her. 

"There she goes." The Britisher sank 
like a stone in a pond. We continued our 
course. The two ofiicers peered over the 
water with young, searching, resolute eyes. 
Then they took to their binoculars. 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

"There she is," cried the captain, "in a 
line with the oak tree." I searched for a few 
minutes in vain. Suddenly I saw her, that is 
to say, I saw with a great deal of difficulty 
a small dark rod moving through the water. 
It came closer; I saw the hatpin shaped 
trail behind it. 

Presently with a great swiri and roiling of 
foam the Britisher pushed herself out of the 
water. I could see my young captain judging 
the performance in his eye. Then we played 
victim two more times and went home. On 
the way we discussed the submarine patrol. 
Now there is no more thrilling game in the 
world than the game of periscope vs. periscope. 

"What do you do?" I asked. "Just what 
you saw us do to-day. We pack up grub 
and supplies, beat it out on the high seas 
and wait for a Fritz to come along. We 
give him a taste of his own medicine; given 
him one more enemy to dodge. Suppose a 
Hun baffles the destroyers, makes off to a 
lonely spot, and comes to the surface for a 
breath of air. There isn't a soul in sight, 
not a stir of smoke on the horizon. Just as 
Captain Otto, or Von Something is gloating 

40 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

over the last hospital ship he sunk, and think- 
ing what a lovely afternoon it is, a tin fish 
comes for him like a bullet out of a gun, there 
comes a thundering pound, a vibration that 
sends little waves through the water, a great 
foul swirl, fragments of cork, and it's all over 
with the Watch on the Rhine. Sometimes 
Fritz's torpedo meets ours on the way. Then 
once in a while a destroyer or a patriotic 
but misguided tramp makes things interesting 
for a bit. But it's the most wonderful service 
of all. I wouldn't give it up for anything. 
We're all going out day after to-morrow. 
Can't you cable London for permission to 
go? You'll like it. Don't believe anything 
you hear about the air getting bad. The 
principal nuisance when you've been under 
a long while is the cold; the boat gets as raw 
and damp as an unoccupied house in winter. 
Jingo, quarter past one! We'll be late for 
dinner." 

Some time after this article had appeared, the captain 
of an American submarine gave me a copy of the fol- 
lowing verses written by a submarine sailor. Poems 
of this sort, typewritten by some accommodating yeo- 
man, are always being handed round in the Navy; I 

41 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

have seen dozens of them. Would that I knew the 
author of this picturesque and flavorous ditty, for I 
would gladly give him the credit he deserves. 

A SUBMARINE 

Born in the shops of the devil, 
Designed by the brains of a fiend; 
Filled with acid and crude oil, 
And christened "A Submarine." 

The posts send in their ditties 
Of battleships spick and clean; 
But never a word in their columns 
Do you see of a submarine. 

So I'll endeavour to depict our story 
In a very laconic way; 
So please have patience to listen 
Until I have finished my say. 

We eat where'er we can find it. 
And sleep hanging up on hooks; 
Conditions under which we're existing 
Are never published in books. 

Life on these boats is obnoxious 
And this is using mild terms; 
We are never bothered by sickness. 
There isn't any room for germs. 

We are never troubled with varmints, 
There are things even a cockroach can't stand; 

42 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

And any self-respecting rodent 
Quick as possible beats it for land. 

And that little one dollar per diem 
We receive to submerge out of sight. 
Is often earned more than double 
By charging batteries all night. 

And that extra compensation 
We receive on boats like these. 
We never really get at all. 
It's spent on soap and dungarees. 

Machinists get soaked in fuel oil. 
Electricians in H2SO4, 
Gunner's mates with 600 W, 
And torpedo slush galore. 

When we come into the Navy Yard 
We are looked upon with disgrace; 
And they make out some new regulation 
To fit our particular case. 

Now all you battleship sailors. 

When you are feeling disgruntled and mean. 

Just pack your bag and hammock 

And go to a submarine. 



THE RETURN OF THE CAPTAINS 

THE breakfast hour was drawing to 
its end, and the very last straggler 
sat alone at the ward room table. 
Presently an officer of the mother ship, passing 
through, called to the lingering group of sub- 
marine officers. 

"The X4 is coming up the bay, and the XI 2 
has been reported from signal station." 

The news was received with a little hum of 
friendly interest. "Wonder what Ned will 
have to say for himself this time." "Must 
have struck pretty good weather." "Bet 
you John has been looking for another chance 
at that Hun of his." The talk drifted away 
into other channels. A little time passed. 
Then suddenly a door opened, and one after 
the other entered the three officers of the 
first home coming submarine. They were 
clad in various ancient uniforms which might 
have been worn by an apprentice lad in a 

44 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

garage, old grey flannel shirts, and stout 
grease stained shoes; several days had passed 
since their faces had felt a razor, and all were 
a little pale from their cruise. But the liveliest 
of keen eyes burned in each resolute young 
face, eyes smiling and glad. A friendly 
hullaballoo broke forth. Chairs scraped, one 
fell with a crash. 

"Hello, boys!" 

"Hi, John!" 

"For the love of Pete, Joe, shave ojff those 
whiskers of yours; they make you look like 
Trotsky." 

"See any Germans?" 

"What's the news?" 

"What's doing?" 

"Hi, Manuelo" (this to a Philipino mess 
boy who stood looking on with impassive 
curiosity), "save three more breakfasts." 

"Anything go for you?" 

"Well, if here isn't our old Bump!" 

The crowd gathered round Captain John 
who had established contact (this is military 
term quite our of place in a work on the Nav^^) 
with the eagerly sought, horribly elusive 
German. 

4-5 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

"Go on, John, give us an earful. WTiat 
time did you say it was?" 

"About 5 A.M.," answered the captain. 
He stood leaning against a door and the fine 
head, the pallor, the touch of fatigue, all made 
a very striking and appealing picture. "Say 
about eight minutes after five. I'd just come 
up to take a look-see, and saw him just about 
two miles away on the surface, and moving 
right along. So I went under to get into a good 
position, came up again and let him have 
one. Well, the bird saw it just as it was 
almost on him, swung her round, and dived 
like a ton of lead." 

The audience listened in silent sympathy. 
One could see the disappointment on the 
captain's face. 

"WTiere was he.^^" 

"About so and so." 

"That's the jinx that got after the convoy 
sure as you live." 

The speaker had had his own adventures 
with the Germans. A month or so he shoved 
his periscope and spotted a Fritz on the 
surface in full noonday. The watchful Fritz, 
however, had been lucky enough to see the 

46 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

enemy almost at once and had dived. The 
American followed suit. The eyeless sub- 
marine manoeuvred about some eighty feet 
under, the German evidently "making his get- 
a-way," the American hoping to be lucky 
enough to pick up Fritz's trail, and get a 
shot at him when the enemy rose again, to 
the top. And while the two blind ships 
manoeuvred there in the dark of the abyss, 
the keel of the fleeing German had actually, 
by a curious chance, scraped along the top 
of the American vessel and carried away the 
wireless aerials! 

All were silent for a few seconds, thinking 
over the affair. It was not difficult to read 
the thought in every mind, the thought of 
getting at the enemy. The idea of our Navy 
is "Get after 'em, Keep after 'em. Stay after 
'em. Don't give 'em an instant of security or 
rest." And none have this fighting spirit 
deeper in their hearts than our gallant men 
of the submarine patrol. 

"That's all," said Captam John. "I'm 
going to have a wash up." He lifted a grease 
stained hand to his cheek, and rubbed his 
unshaven beard, and grinned. 

47 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

"Any letters?" 

" Whole bag of stuff. Smithie put it on your 
desk." 

Captain John wandered off. Presently, 
the door opened again, and three more veter- 
ans of the patrol cruised in, also in ancient 
uniforms. There were more cheers; more 
friendly cries. It was unanimously decided 
that the *' Trotsky" of the first lot had better 
take a back seat, since the second in command 
of the newcomers was "a perfect ringer for 
Rasputin." 

"See anything?" 

"Nothing much. There's a bit of wTeckage 
just off shore. Saw a British patrol boat early 
Tuesday morning. I was on the surface, 
lying between her and the sunrise; she was 
hidden by a low lying swirl of fog; she saw 
us first. When we saw her, I made signals, 
and over she came. Guess what the old 
bird wanted . . . wanted to know if Td seen 
a torpedo he'd fired at me! An old scout with 
white whiskers, one of those retired captains, 
I suppose, who has gone back on the job. 
He admitted that he had received the Ad- 
miralty notes about us, but thought we acted 

48 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

suspicious. . . . Did you ever hear of such ] 

nerve!" ) 



When the war was young, I had a year 
of it on land. Now, I have seen the war at 
sea. To my mind, if there was one service of 
this war which more than any other required 
those quahties of endurance, skill and courage 
whose blend the fighting men so wisely call 
''guts," it surely was our submarine patrol. 
So here's to the L boats, their officers and 
crews, and to the Bushnell and her brood of 
Bantry Bay! 



49 



VI 

OUR SAILORS 

IN THE lingo of the Navy, the enlisted 
men are known as "gobs." This word 
is not to be understood as in any sense 
conveying a derogatory meaning. The men 
use it themselves; — "the gobs on the 210." 
"What does a real goh want with a wrist 
watch?" It is an unlovely syllable, but it 
has character. 

In the days before the war, our navy was, 
to use an officer's phrase, more of "a big 
training school" than anything else. There 
were, of course, a certain number of young 
men who intended to become sailors by 
profession, even as some entered the regular 
army with the intention of remaining in it, 
but the vast majority of sailors were "one 
enlistment men" who signed on for four 
years and then returned to civilian life. The 
personnel included boys just graduated from 
or weary of high school, young men from the 

50 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

western farms eager for a glimpse of the 
world, and city lads either uncertain as to just 
what trade or profession they should follow 
or thirsting for a man's cup of adventure 
before settling down to the prosaic task that 
gives the daily bread. 

To-day, the enlisted personnel of the Navy 
is a cross section of the Nation's youth. 
There are many college men, particularly 
among the engineers. There are young men 
who have abandoned professions to enter 
the Navy to do their bit. For instance, the 
yeoman who ran the little office on board 
Destroyer 66 was a young lawyer who had 
attained real distinction. On board the same 
destroyer was a lad who had been for a year 
or two a reporter on one of the New York 
papers, and a chubby earnest lad whose 
father is a distinguished leader of the Massa- 
chusetts bar. Of my four best friends, "Pop" 
had worked in some shop or other, "Giles" 
was a student from an agricultural college 
somewhere in western New York, "Idaho" 
was a high school boy fresh from a great 
ranch, and "Robie" was the son of a physi- 
cian in a small southern city. The Napoleonic 

51 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

veterans of the new navy are the professional 
"gobs" of old; sailors with second enlistment 
stripes go down the deck the very vieux de la 
veille. 

The sailor suffers from the fact that many 
people have fixed in their minds an imaginary 
sailor whom they have created from light 
literature and the stage. Just as the soldier 
must always be a dashing fellow, so must the 
sailor be a rollicking soul, fond of the bottle 
and with a wife in every port. Is not the 
"comic sailor" a recognized literary figure? 
Yet whoever heard of the "comic soldier"? 
This silly phantom blinds us to the genuine 
charm of character with which the sea endows 
her adventurous children; we turn into a 
frolic a career that is really one of endurance, 
heroism, and downright hard work. Not 
that I am trying to make Jack a sobersides 
or a saint. He is full of fun and spirit. But 
the world ought to cease imagining him either 
as a mannerless "rough-houser" or a low 
comedian. Our sailors have no special par- 
tiality for the bottle; indeed, I feel quite 
certain that a majority of every crew "keep 
away from booze" entirely. As for having 

52 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

a wife in every port, the Chaplain says that a 
sailor is the most faithful husband in the world. 

As a lot, sailors are unusually good-hearted. 
This last Christmas the men of our American 
battleships now included in the Grand Fleet 
requested permission to invite aboard the 
orphan children of a great neighbouring city, 
and give them an "American good time." So 
the kiddies were brought aboard; Jack rigged 
up a Christmas tree, and distributed presents 
and sweets in a royal style. Said a witness of 
the scene to me, "I never saw children so happy . " 

One of the passions which sway "the gobs" 
is to have a set of "tailor-made" liberty 
blues. By "liberty blues" you are to under- 
stand the sailor's best uniform, the picturesque 
outfit he wears ashore. Surely the uniform 
of our American sailor is quite the handsomest 
of all. On such a flimsy excuse, however, as 
that "the government stuff don't fit you round 
the neck" or "hasn't any style^'' Jack is for- 
ever rushing to some Louie Katzenstein in 
Norfolk, Va., or Sam Schwartz of Charles- 
town, Mass., to get a "real" suit made. End- 
less are the attempts to make these "a little 
bit different,'' attempts, alas, which invariably 

53 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

end in reprimand and disaster. The dernier 
cri of sportiness is to have a right hand pocket 
lined with starboard green and a left hand 
pocket lined with port red. A second am- 
bition is to own a heavy seal ring, "fourteen 
karat, Navy crest. Name and date of enlist- 
ment engraved free." Sailors pay anywhere 
from twenty to seventy dollars for these 
treasures. To-day, the style is to have a 
patriotic motto engraved within the band. 
I remember several inscribed "Democracy 
or Death." The desire of having a "real" 
watch comes next in hand, and if you ask a 
sailor the time he is very liable to haul out a 
watch worth anywhere from a hundred and 
fifty to two hundred dollars. 

Our sailors are the very finest fellows 
in the world to live with. I sailed with the 
Navy many thousand miles; I visited all 
the great bases, and I did not see one single 
case of drunkenness or disorderly behaviour. 
The work done by our sailors was a hard and 
gruelling labour, the seas which they patrolled 
were haunted by every danger, yet everywhere 
they were eager and keen, their energy un- 
abated, their spirits unshaken. 

54 



VII 

THE BASE 

THE town which served as the base of 
the American destroyers has but 
one great street; it is called The 
Esplanade, and lies along the harbour edge 
and open to the sea. I saw it first in 
the wild darkness of a night in early March. 
Rain, the drenching, Irish rain, had been 
falling all the day, but toward evening the 
downpour had ceased, and a blustery south- 
east wind had thinned the clouds, and brought 
the harbour water to clashing and complaining 
in the dark. It was such a night as a man 
might peer at from a window, and be grate- 
ful for the roof which sheltered him, yet up 
and down the gloomy highway, past the dark- 
ened houses and street lamps shaded to mere 
lifeless lumps of light, there moved a large 
and orderly crowd. For the most part, this 
crowd consisted of American sailors from the 
destroyers in port, lean, wholesome-looking 

55 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

fellows these, with a certain active and eager 
manner very reassuring to find on this side 
of our cruelly tried and jaded world. Peering 
into a little lace shop decked with fragile 
knickknacks and crammed with bolts of 
table linen, I saw two great bronzed fellows 
in pea jackets and pancake hats buying some- 
thing whose niceties of stitch and texture a 
little red-cheeked Irish lass explained with 
pedagogic seriousness; whilst at the other 
end of the counter a young officer with grey 
hair fished in his pockets for the purchase 
money of some yards of lace which the pro- 
prietress was slowly winding around a bit 
of blue cardboard. Back and forth, now 
swallowed up in the gloom of a dark stretch, 
now become visible in the light of a shop 
door, streamed the crowd of sailors, soldiers, 
officers, country folk and townspeople. I 
heard Devon drawling its oes and oa's; Amer- 
ica speaking with Yankee crispness, and Ire- 
land mingling in the babel with a mild and 
genial brogue. 

By morning the wind had died down; the 
sun was shining merrily, and great mountain 
masses of rolling white cloud were sailing 

56 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

across the sky as soft and blue as that which 
hes above Fiesole. Going forth, I found 
the httle town established on an edge of land 
between the water and the foot of a hill; 
a long hill whose sides were in places so pre- 
cipitous that only masses of dark green 
shrubbery appeared between the line of dwell- 
ings along the top and the buildings of the 
Esplanade. The hill, however, has not had 
things all its way. Two streets, rising at an 
angle which would try the endurance of an 
Alpine ram actually go in a straight line from 
the water's edge to the high ground, taking 
with them, in their ascent, tier after tier of 
mean and grimy dwellings. All other streets, 
however, are less heroic, and climb the side 
of the hill in long, sloping lateral lines. A new 
Gothic cathedral, built just below the crest 
of the hill, but far overtopping it, dominates 
and crowns the town; perhaps crushes would 
be the better verb, for the monstrous bone-grey 
mass towers above the terraced roofs of the 
port with an ascendancy as much moral as 
physical. Yet for all its vastness and com- 
manding situation, it is singularly lifeless, 
and only the trickery of a moonlight night 

57 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

can invest its mediocre, Albert-Memorial 
architecture with any trace of beauty. 

The day begins slowly there, partly because 
this south Irish climate is such stuff as dreams 
are made of, partly because good, old irre- 
concilables are suspicious of the daylight 
saving law as a British measure. There is 
little to be seen till near on ten o'clock. Then 
the day begins; a number of shrewd old fish 
wives, with faces wrinkled like wintered 
apples and hair still black as a raven's wing, 
set up their stalls in an open space by a line 
of deserted piers, and peasants from near by 
villages come to town driving little donkey 
carts laden with the wares; now one hears 
the real rural brogue, the shrewd give and take 
of jest and bargain, and a prodigious yapping 
and snarling from a prodigious multitude of 
curs. Never have I seen more collarless dogs. 
The streets are full of the hungry, furtive 
creatures; there is a fight every two or three 
minutes between some civic champion and 
one of the invading rural mongrels; many 
is the Homeric fray that has been settled by 
a good kick with a sea boot. Little by little 
the harbour, seeing that the land is at last 

58 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

awake, comes ashore to buy its fresh eggs, 
green vegetables, sweet milk and golden 
Tipperary butter. The Filipino and negro 
stewards from the American ships arrive with 
their baskets and cans; they are very popular 
with Queenstown folk who cherish the delu- 
sion that our trimly dressed, genially grinning 
negroes are the American Indians of boy- 
hood's romance. From the cathedral's soli- 
tary spire, a chime jangles out the quarters, 
amusing all who pause to listen w^ith its in- 
voluntary rendering of the first bar of *' Strike 
up the band; here comes a sailor." And 
ever and anon, a breeze blows in from the har- 
bour bringing with it a faint smell from the 
funnels of the oil-burning destroyers, a smell 
which suggests that a giant oil lamp some- 
where in the distance has need of turning 
down. After the lull of noon, the men to 
whom liberty has been given begin to arrive 
in boatloads forty and fifty strong. The 
patrollers, distinguished from their fellows 
by leggins, belts, white hats, and police billie, 
descend first, form in line, and march off 
to their ungrateful task of keeping order where 
there is no disorder; then, scrambling up 

59 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

the water side stairs like youngsters out of 
school, follow the liberty men. If there is 
any newcomer to the fleet among them, it 
is an even chance that he will be rushed 
over the hill to the Lusitania cemetery, a 
gruesome pilgrimage to which both British 
and American tars are horridly partial. Some 
are sure to stroll off to their club, some elect 
to wander about the Esplanade, others dis- 
appear in the highways and byways of the 
town. For Bill and Joe have made friends. 
There have been some fifty marriages at this 
base. I imagine a good deal of match-making 
goes on in those grimy streets, for the Irish 
marriage is, like the Continental one, no 
matter of silly sentiment, but a serious domes- 
tic transaction. All afternoon long, the 
sailors come and go. The supper hour takes 
them to their club; night divides them be- 
tween the movies and the nightly promenade 
in the gloom. 

The glories of this base as a mercantile port, 
if there ever were any — and the Queenstown 
folk labour mightily to give you the impression 
that it was the only serious rival to London — 
are now over with the glories of Nineveh and 

60 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

Tyre. A few Cunard lithographs of leviathans 
now for the most part at the bottom of the 
sea, a few dusty show cases full of souvenirs, 
pigs and pipes of black, bog oak, "Beleek" 
china, a fragile, and vanilla candy kind of 
ware, and lace 'kerchiefs "made by the 
nuns*' alone remain to recall the tourist 
traffic that once centred here. To-day, one 
is apt to find among the souvenirs an incon- 
gruous box of our most *' breathy" (forgive 
my new-born adjective) variety of American 
chewing gum. If you would imagine our 
base as it was in the great days, better for- 
get the port entirely and try to think of a 
great British and American naval base cram- 
med with shipping flying the national en- 
signs, of waters thrashed by the propellers of 
oil tankers, destroyers, cruisers, armed sloopss 
mine layers, and submarines even. A busy 
dockyard clangs away from morning till night ; 
a ferry boat with a whistle like the frightened 
scream of a giant's child runs back and 
forth from the docks to the Admiralty pier, 
little parti-coloured motor dories run swiftly 
from one destroyer to another. 

From the hill top, this harbour appears 

61 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

as a pleasant cove lying among green hills. 
On the map, it has something the outline 
of a blacksmith's anvil. Taking the narrow 
entrance channel to be the column on which 
the anvil rests, there extends to the right, 
a long tapering bay, stretching down to a 
village leading over hill, over dale to tumble- 
down Cloyne, where saintly Berkeley long 
meditated on the non-existence of matter; 
there lies to the right a squarer, blunter bay 
through which a river has worn a channel. 
This channel lies close to the shore, and 
serves as the anchorage. 

Over the tops of the headlands, rain- 
coloured and tilted up to a bank of grey 
eastern cloud, lay the vast ambush, the merci- 
less gauntlet of the beleaguered sea. 



62 



VIII 

THE DESTROYER AND HER PROBLEM 

y^BOUT a quarter of a mile apart, one 
A-% after the other along the ribbon of deep 
water just off the shore, lie a number 
of Admiralty buoys about the size and shape 
of a small factory boiler. At these buoys, 
sometimes attached in little groups of two, 
three, and even four to the same ring bolt, 
lie the American destroyers. From the shore 
one sees the long lean hull of the nearest 
vessel and a clump of funnels all tilted back- 
wards at the same angle. The air above 
these waspish nests, though unstained with 
smoke, often broods vibrant with heat. All 
the destroyers are camouflaged, the favourite 
colours being black, West Point grey and 
flat white. This camouflage produces neither 
by colour nor line the repulsive and silly effect 
which is for the moment so popular. Going 
aboard a destroyer for the first time, a lay 
observer is struck by their extraordinary 

63 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

leanness, a natural enough impression when 
one recalls that the vessels measure some three 
hundred feet in length and only thirty-four 
in width. Many times have I watched from 
our hill these long, low, rapier shapes steal 
swiftly out to sea, and been struck with the 
terror, the genuine dread that lies in the 
word destroyer. For it is a terrible word, 
a w^ord heavy with destruction and vengeance, 
a word that is akin to many an Old Testament 
phrase. 

Our great destroyer fleet may be divided 
into two squadrons, the first of larger boats 
called "thousand tonners," the second of 
smaller vessels known as "flivvers." Another 
division parts the thousand tonners into those 
which have a flush deck from bow to stern, 
and those which have a forward deck on a 
higher level than the main deck. All these 
types burn oil, the oil burner being nothing 
more than a kind of sprayer whose mist of 
fuel a forced draft whirls into a roar of flame; 
all can develop a speed of at least twenty- 
nine knots. The armament varies with the 
individual vessel, the usual outfit consisting 
of four four-inch guns, two sets of torpedo 

64 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

tubes, two mounted machine guns, and a 
store of depth charges. 

These charges deserve a eulogy of their 
own. They have done more towards winning 
the war than all the giant howitzers whose 
calibre has stupefied the world. In appear- 
ance and mechanism they are the simplest 
of affairs. The Navy always refers to them 
as cans: "I dropped a can right on his head"; 
"it was the last can that did the business." 
Imagine an ash can of medium size painted 
black and transformed into a ponderous thick 
walled cylinder of steel crammed with some 
three hundred pounds of T.N.T. and you 
have a perfect image of one. Now imagine 
at one end of this cylinder a detonator pro- 
tected by an arrangement which can be set 
to resist the pressure of water at various 
levels. A sub appears, and sinks swiftly. 
If it is just below the surface, the destroyer 
drops a bomb set to explode at a depth of 
seventy feet. The bomb then sinks by its 
own weight to that level at which the outward 
force of the protective mechanism is over- 
balanced by the inward pressure of the water; 
the end yields, the detonator crushes, the 

65 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

bomb explodes, and your submarine is flung 
horribly out of the depths almost clear of 
the water, and while he is up, the destroyer's 
guns fill the hull full of holes. Or suppose 
the submarine to have gone down two hundred 
feet. Then you drop a bomb geared to 
that depth upon him, and blow in his sides 
like a cracked egg. The sound of these 
engines travels through the water some twenty 
or twenty-five miles, and there have been ships 
who have caught the vibration of a distant 
depth bomb through their hulls and thought 
themselves torpedoed. I once saw a depth 
bomb roll off a British sloop into a half 
filled dry dock; the men scrambled away like 
mad, but returned in a few minutes to fish 
out a "can," that had sixty more feet to go 
before it could burst. It lay on the bottom 
harmless as a stone. The charges rest at the 
stern of a vessel, lying one above the other 
on two sloping runways, and can be released 
either from the stern or by hydraulic pressure 
applied at the bridge. The credit for this 
exceedingly successful scheme belongs to a 
distinguished American naval officer. 

The destroyer has but one deck which is 

66 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

arranged in the following manner. I take one 
of the "thousand tonners" as an illustration. 
From an incredibly lean, high bow, a first 
deck falls back a considerable distance to a 
four-inch gun; behind the gun lies another 
open space closed by a two-storied structure 
whose upper section is the bridge and whose 
lower section a chart room. At the rear of 
this structure the hull of the boat is cut 
away, and one descends by a ladder from the 
deck which is on the level of the chart room 
floor, to the main deck level some eight feet 
below. Beyond this cut but one deck lies, 
the mere steel covering of the hull. Guns 
and torpedo tubes are mounted on it, the 
funnels rise flush from the plates; a life line 
lies strung along its length, and strips of cocoa 
matting try to give something of a footing. 

The officers* quarters are to be found under 
the forward deck. The sleeping rooms are 
situated on both sides of a narrow passageway 
which begins at the bow and leads to the open 
living room and dining room space known as 
the ward room. In the hull, in the space 
beneath the wardroom lie thfe quarters of 
the crew% amidships lie the boilers and the 

67 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

engine room, and beyond them, a second 
space for the crew and the petty oflBcers. 
A destroyer is by no means a paradise of com- 
fort, though when the vessel Hes in a quiet 
port, she can be as attractive and livable as 
a yacht. But Heaven help the poor sailor 
aboard a destroyer at sea! The craft rolls, 
dips, shudders, plunges like a horse straight 
up at the stars, sinks rapidly and horribly, 
and even has spells of see-sawing violently 
from side to side. Its worst motion is an 
unearthly twist, — a swift appalling rise at a 
dreadful angle, a toss across space to the 
other side of a wave, a fearful descent side- 
ways and down and a ghastly shudder. 
*'You need an iron stomach" to be on a de- 
stroyer is a navy saying. Some, indeed, can 
never get used to them, and have to be trans- 
ferred to other vessels. 

The destroyer is the capital weapon against 
the submarine. She can out-race a sub, 
can fight him with guns, torpedoes, or depth 
charges; she can send him bubbling to the 
bottom by ramming him amidships. She 
can confuse him by throwing a pall of smoke 
over his target; she can beat off his attacks 

68 




American destroyer on patrol 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

either above or below the surface. He 
fires a torpedo at her, she dodges, runs down 
the trail of the torpedo, drops a depth bomb, 
and brings her prey to the surface, an actual 
incident this. Her problem is of a dual nature, 
being both defensive and offensive. To-day, 
her orders are to escort a convoy through 
the danger zone to a position in latitude x and 
longitude y; to-morrow, her orders are to 
patrol a certain area of the beleaguered sea 
or a given length of coast. 

Based upon a foreign port, working in 
strange waters, the destroyer flotilla added 
to the fine history of the American Navy a 
splendid record of endurance, heroism and 
daring achievement. 



69 



IX 

TORPEDOED 

IF YOU would understand the ocean we 
sailed in war-time, do not forget that it 
was essentially an ambush, that the foe 
was waiting for us in hiding. Nothing real or 
imagined brooded over the ocean to warn a 
vessel of the presence of danger, for the waters 
engulfed and forgot the tragedies of this war 
as they have engulfed and forgotten all dis- 
asters since the beginning of time. The great 
unquiet shield of the sea stretched afar to 
pale horizons, the sun shone as he might 
shine on a pretty village at high noon, the gulls 
followed alert and clamorous. Yet a thunder- 
ing instant was capable of transforming this 
apparent calm into the most formidable in- 
security. In four minutes you would have 
nothing left of your ship and its company but 
a few boats, some bodies, and a miscellaneous 
litter of wreckage strewn about the scene of 

70 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

the disaster. Of the assassin there was not a 
sign. 

All agreed that the torpedo arrived at a 
fearful speed. "Like a long white bullet 
through the water," said one survivor. "Hon- 
est to God, I never saw anything come so 
fast," said another. 

"Where did it strike?" I asked the first 
speaker, a fine intelligent English seaman 
who had been rescued by a destroyer and 
brought to an American base. 

"In a line with the funnel, sir. A great 
column of steam and water went up together, 
and the pieces of the two port boats fell all 
around the bridge. I think it was a bit of 
one of the boats that struck me here." He 
held up a bandaged hand. 

"What happened then?" 

"All the lights went out. It was just dusk, 
you see, so we had to abandon the boat in 
the darkness. A broken steam pipe was 
roaring so that you couldn't hear a word 
any one was saying. She sank very fast." 

"Did you see any sign of the submarine?" 

"The captain's steward thought he saw 
something come up just about three hundred 

71 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

yards away as we were going down. But 
in my judgment, it was too dark to see any- 
thing distinctly, and my notion is that he 
saw a bit of wreckage, perhaps a hatch." 

The next man to whom I talked was a 
chunky little stoker w^ho might have stepped 
out of the pages of one of Jacobs' stories. I 
shall not aim to reproduce his dialect — it 
was of the "wot abaht it" order. 

"We were heading into Falmouth with a 
cargo of steel and barbed wire. I had a lot 
of special supplies which I bought myself in 
New York, some sugar, two very nice 'ams 
and one of those round Dutch cheeses. I 
was always thinking to myself how glad my 
old woman would be to see all those vittles. 
Just as we got off the Scillies, one of those 
bloody swine hit us with a torpedo between 
the boiler room and the thwart ship bunker, 
forward of the engine room, and about six- 
teen feet below the water line. Understand? 
I was in the boiler room. Down came the 
bunker doors, off went the tank tops in the 
engine room, two of the boilers threw out 
a mess of burning coal, and the water came 
pouring in like a flood. Let me tell you that 

72 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

cold sea water soon got bloody hot, the room 
was filled with steam, couldn't see anything. 
I expected the boilers to blow up any minute. 
I yelled out for my mates. Suddenly I heard 
one of 'em say: 'WTiere's the ladder?' and 
there was pore Jem with his face and chest 
burned cruel by the flying coal, and he had 
two ribs broke too, though we didn't know 
it at the time. Says 'e, 'TMiere's Ed.^' and 
just then Ed came wading through the 
scalding water, pawing for the ladder. So 
up we all went, never expecting to reach the 
top. Then when we got into a boat, we 'card 
that the wireless had been carried away, 
and that we'd have to wait for somebody to 
pick us up. So we waited for two days and 
a Yankee destroyer found us. Yes, both 
my mates are getting better, though sister 
'ere tells me that pore Ed may lose his 
eye. 

Sometimes the torpedo was seen and avoided 
by a quick turn of the wheel. There were other 
occasions when the torpedo seems to follow 
a ship. I remember reading this tale. "At 
2.14 I saw the torpedo and felt certain that 
it would mean a hit either in the engine or 

73 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

the fire room, so I ordered full speed ahead, 
and put the rudder over hard left. At a 
distance of between two and three hundred 
yards, the torpedo took a sheer to the left, 
but righted itself. For an instant it appeared 
as if the torpedo might pass astern, but por- 
poising again, it turned toward the ship and 
struck us close by the propellers." 

So much for blind chances. One hears 
curious tales. The column of water caused 
by the explosion tossed onto the forward hatch 
of one merchant ship a twisted half of the tor- 
pedo; there was a French boat struck by a 
torpedo which did not explode, but lay there 
at the side violently churning, and clinging 
to the boat as if it were possessed of some 
sinister intelligence. I heard of a boat laden 
with high explosives within w^hose hold a num- 
ber of motor trucks had been arranged. A 
torpedo got her at the mouth of the channel. 
An explosion similar to the one at Halifax 
raked the sea, the vessel, blown into frag- 
ments, disappeared from sight in the tw inkling 
of an eye, and an instant later there fell 
like bolides from the startled firmament a 
number of immense motor trucks, one of 

74 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

which actually crashed on to the deck of 
another vessel! 

Meanwhile, I suppose, some hundred and 
fifty feet or more below, "Fritz," seated at 
a neat folding table, wrote it all down in 
his log. 



75 



X 

THE END OF A SUBMARINE 

TWO days before, in a spot somewhat 
south of the area we were going out 
to patrol, a submarine had attacked 
a convoy and sunk a horse boat. I had the 
story of the affair months afterwards from an 
American sailor who had seen it all from a 
nearby ship. This sailor, no other than my 
friend Giles, had been stationed in the look- 
out when he heard a thundering pound, 
and looking to port, he saw a column of 
water hanging just amidships of the tor- 
pedoed vessel, a column that broke crashing 
over the decks. In about three minutes the 
ship broke in two, the bow and the stern 
rising like the points of a shallow V, and 
in five minutes she sank. The sea was strewn 
with straw; there w^ere broken stanchions 
floating in the confused water, and a number of 
horses could be seen swimming about. "All 

70 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

you could see was their heads; they looked 
awful small in all that water. Some of the 
horses had men hanging to them. There 
was a lot of yelling for help." The other 
ships of the convoy had run for dear life; 
the destroyers had raced about like hornets 
whose nest is disturbed, but the submarine 
escaped. 

We left a certain harbour at about three 
in the afternoon. Many of the destroyers 
were out at sea taking in a big troop convoy 
and the harbour seemed unusually still. The 
town also partook of this quiet, the long lateral 
lines of climbing houses staring out blankly 
at us like unresponsive acquaintances. Very 
few folk were to be seen on the street. We 
were bound forth on an adventure that was 
drama itself, a drama which even then the 
Fates, unknown to us, were swiftly weaving 
into a tragedy of vengeance, yet I shall 
never forget how casual and undramatic the 
Esplanade appeared. A loafer or two lounged 
by the door of the public house, a little group 
of sailors passed, a jaunting car went swiftly 
on its way to the station; there was nothing 
to suggest that these isles were beleaguered; 

77 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

nothing told of the remorseless enemy at the 
gates of the sea. 

All night long under a gloomy, starless sky 
we patrolled waters dark as the very waves 
of the Styx. The hope that nourished us was 
the thought of finding a submarine on the 
surface, but we heard no noise through the 
mysterious dark, and a long, interminable 
dawn revealed to us nothing but the high 
crumbling cliffs of a lonely and ill-reputed 
bay. Where were tliey then, I have often 
wondered.'^ When had they their last look 
at the sun? Had they any consciousness 
of the end which time was bringing to them 
with a giant's hurrying step.^ At about six 
o'clock we swung off to the southward, and 
in a short time the coast had faded from 
sight. 

From six o'clock to about half past ten we 
swept in great circles and lines the mist en- 
circled disk of the pale sea which had been 
entrusted to our keeping. We were at hand 
to answer any appeal for aid which might 
flutter through the air, to investigate any 
suspicious wreckage; above all, to fulfill our 
function of destruction. I have spoken else- 

78 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

where of the terror which lurks in the word 
destroyer. We were hunters; beaters of the 
ambush of the sea. About us lay the besieged 
waters, yellow green in colour, vexed with 
tide rips and mottled with shadows of haze 
and appearances of shoal. 

We were on the bridge. Suddenly a voice 
called down the tube from the lookout on 
the mast: 

"Smoke on the horizon just off the port 
bow, sir." 

In a little while a vague smudginess made 
itself seen along the humid southeast, and 
some fifteen minutes later there emerged 
from this smudge the advance vessels of a 
convoy. Now one by one, now in twos and 
threes, the vessels of the convoy climbed 
over the dim edge of the world, a handful of 
destroyers accompanying the fleet. Almost 
every ship was camouflaged, though the largest 
of all, a great ocean drudge of a cargo boat, 
still preserved her decency of dull grey. 
A southeast wind blowing from behind the 
convoy sent the smoke of the funnels over 
the bows and down the western sky. There 
was something indescribably furtive about 

79 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

the whole business. The ships were going 
at their very fastest, but to us they seemed 
to be going very slowly, to be drifting almost, 
across the southern sky. "We advanced," 
as our report read later, "to take up a position 
with the convoy." The watch, always keen 
on the 660, redoubled its vigilance. The bait 
was there; the hunt was on. Now, if ever, 
was the time for submarines. I remember 
somebody saying, "We may see a sub." The 
destroyer advanced to within three miles 
of the convoy, which was then across her bow. 
The morning was sunny and clear; the sun 
high in the north. 

"Periscope! Port bow," suddenly cried 
the surgeon of the ship, then on watch on the 
bridge. "About three hundred yards away, 
near that sort of a barrel thmg over there. 
See it.'^ It's gone now." 

Powerful glasses swept the suspected area. 
The captain, cool as ice, took his stand by 
the wheel. 

"There it is again, sir. About seventy-five 
yards nearer this way." 

This time it was seen by all who stood by. 
The periscope was extraordinarily small, 

80 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

hardly larger than a stout hoe handle, and not 
more than two feet above the choppy sea. 

"Full speed ahead," said the captain. 
"Sound general quarters." 

I do not think there was a heart there that 
was not beating high, but outwardly things 
went on just as calmly as they had before 
the periscope had been sighted. 

The fans of the extra boilers began to roar. 
The general quarters alarm, a continuous 
ringing, sounded its shrill call. Men tumbled 
to their stations from every corner of the ship, 
some going to the torpedo tubes, some to 
the guns, others to the depth charges at the 
stern. The wake of the destroyer, now 
tearing along at full speed, resembled a mill 
race. And now the destroyer began a beauti- 
ful manoeuvre. She became the killer, the 
avenger of blood. Leaving her direct course, 
she turned hard over to port, and at the point 
where her curve cut the estimated course of 
the German, she tossed over a buoy to mark 
the spot at which the German had been seen 
and released a depth bomb. The iron can 
rolled out of its chocks, and fell with a little 
splash into the foaming wake. The buoy, 

81 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

a mere wooden platform with a bit of rag, 
tied to an upright stick wobbled sillily behind. 
For about four seconds nothing happened. 
Then the seas behind us gave a curious, 
convulsive lift, one might have thought that 
the ocean had drawn a spasmodic breath; 
over this lifted water fled a frightful glassy 
tremor, and an instant later there broke forth 
with a thundering pound a huge turbid 
geyser which subsided, splashing noisily into 
streaks and eddies of foam and purplish dust. 
The destroyer then dropped three more in 
a circle round the first — a swift cycle of 
thundering crashes. Meanwhile the convoy, 
warned by our signal and by the uproar 
turned tail and fled from the spot. Great 
streamers of heavy black smoke poured from 
the many funnels, revealing the search for 
speed. In the area we had bombed, a number 
of dead fish began to be seen floating in the 
scum. By this time some of the vessels from 
the escort of the convoy had rushed to our 
assistance, and round and round the buoy 
they tore, dropping charge after charge. 
The ocean now became literally speckled with 
dead whiting, and I saw something that 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

looked like an enormous eel floating belly 
upwards. 

The convoy disappeared in a cloud of smoke. 
Little by little the excitement died away. 
Finally the only vessel left in sight on the 
broad shield of the sea was another American 
destroyer, our partner on patrol. The 305 
was fitted with listening devices, and she 
agreed to remain behind to keep an eye and 
ear open. We were to have a word from her 
every half hour. 

From twelve noon to two o'clock there were 
no tidings of importance. At 2:20, however, 
this laconic message sent us hurrying back to 
the scene of the morning's combat. 

"Signs of oil coming to surface." 

What had happened in the darkness below 
those yellow green waves? I am of the opin- 
ion that our first bomb, dropped directly 
upon her, crushed the submarine in like an 
egg-shell, that she had then sunk to the bot- 
tom, and developed a slow leak. 

The 660 returned through a choppy sea 
to the battleground of the morning. We 
caught sight of the other destroyer from afar. 
She lay on the flank, of a great area defiled 

83 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

by the bodies of fish, purple T.N.T. dust 
and various bits of muddy wreckage which 
the explosions had shaken free from the ooze. 
Gulls, already attracted to the spot, were 
circling about, uttering hoarse cries. In the 
heart of this disturbed area lay a great still 
pool of shining water and into this pool, 
from somewhere in the depths, huge bubbles 
of molasses-brown oil were rising. Reaching 
the surface, these bubbles spread into filmy 
pan cakes round whose edges little waves 
curled and broke. 



84 



XI 

"fishing" 

A YOUNG executive officer who had 
discovered that I came from his part 
of the world, took me there for tea. I 
fancy that few of the destroyer folk will for- 
get the principal hotel at the Navy's Irish 
base. We sat in worn plush chairs in a vast 
rectangular salon lit by three giant sash 
windows of horrible proportions. Walls new- 
ly decked with paper of a lustrous, fiery red 
showered down upon us their imaginary 
warmth. The room was cold, horribly cold, 
and a minuscule fire of coke burning in a tiny 
grate seemed to be making no effort what- 
soever to improve conditions. The little 
glow of fire in the nest of clinkers leered 
with a dull malevolence. Cold — a shivery 
cold. My eye fled to the pictures on the fiery 

wall. How in the d 1 did these particular 

pictures ever land in this particular corner 
of south Ireland? Two were photographic 

85 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

studies of ragged Alabama darkies, pictures 
of the kind that used to be printed on calen- 
dars in the eighteen nineties. One was entitled 
"I want you, ma honey" (this being addressed 
to a watermelon), the other being called 
"I'se just tired of school." These two were 
varied by an engraving of a race horse, some 
Charles I cavaliers, and a framed newspaper 
photograph of the 71st New York Guards en 
route for Tampa in 1898! 

Sugar excepted, there is still plenty of good 
food in Ireland. The Exec, and I sat down 
to "a very decent tea. I told all that I knew 
about the Exec's friends, that A was in a 
machine gun company; B in the naval avia- 
tion; C in the intelligence department and 
so forth. And when I had done my share 
of the talking, I demanded of the Exec, what 
he thought of his work "over there." 

He answered abruptly, as if he had long 
before settled the question in his own mind: 

*'It's a game. Some of the sporting fisher- 
men in the flotilla say that it's much like 
fishing . . . now you use this bait, now that, 
now this rod, now another, and all the time 
you are following . . . following the fish. 

86 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

. . . It's a game, the biggest game in all the 
world, for it has the biggest stakes in all the 
world. There's far more strategy to it than 
one would suspect. You see, it's not enough 
to hang round till a periscope pops up; 
we've got to fish out the periscope." 

"Fishing, then," said I. "Well, how and 
where do you fish.'^" 

"On the chequer board of the Irish Sea 
and the Channel. You see the surface of 
the endangered waters is divided up into a 
number of squares or areas, and over each 
area some kind of a patrol boat stands guard. 
She may be a destroyer, . . . perhaps a 
* sloop.' Now let's suppose she's out there 
looking for 'fish.' " 

"Yes, even as a fisherman might wade 
out into a river in which he knows that fish 
are to be caught. But how is your destroyer 
fisherman to know just what fish are to be 
caught, and in just what bays and inlets he 
ought to troll.^" 

"That's the function of the Naval Intel- 
ligence. Have you realized the immense 
organization which Britain has created 
especially to fight the submarine? You'll 

87 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

find it all in the war cabinet report for 
1917. Before the war, there were only 
twenty vessels employed as mine sweepers 
and on auxiliary patrol duties; to-day 
the number of such craft is about 3,800, 
and is constantly increasing. And don't 
forget the sea planes, balloons, and all the 
other parts of the outfit. So while our destroy- 
er fisherman is casting about in square x, let 
us say, all these scouting friends of his are 
trying to find the 'fish' for him. So every 
once in a while he gets a message via wireless, 
'fish seen off bay blank,' 'fish reported in 
latitude A and longitude B.' . . . If these 
messages refer to spots in his neighbourhood, 
you can be sure that he keeps an extra sharp 
lookout. So no matter where the fish goes, 
there is certain to be a fisher." During a 
recent month the mileage steamed by the aux- 
iliary patrol forces in British home waters 
exceeded six million miles. 

"Now while you are beating the waters for 
them, what about the fish himself.'^" 

"The fish himself.'* Well, the ocean is 
a pretty big place, and the fish has the tre- 
mendous advantage of being invisible. A sub- 

88 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

marine need only show three inches of periscope 
if the weather is calm. She can travel a 
hundred miles completely submerged, and 
she can remain on the bottom for a full forty- 
eight hours. Squatting on the bottom is 
called "lying doggo." But she has to come up 
to breathe and recharge her batteries, and this 
she does at night. Hence the keenness of the 
night patrol. And here is another parallel 
to fishing. You know that when the wind is 
from a certain direction, you will find the 
fish in a certain pool, whilst if the wind blows 
from another quarter, you will find the fish 
in another place? Same way with submarines. 
Let the wind blow from a certain direction, 
and they will run up and down the surface 
off a certain lee shore. You can just bet that 
that strip of shore is well patrolled. More- 
over, submarines can't go fooling round all 
over the sea, they have to concentrate in 
certain squares, say the areas which lie out- 
side big ports or through which a great 
marine highway lies." 

"Suppose that you manage to injure a 
fish, what then?" 

"Well, if the fish isn't too badly injured, 

89 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

he will probably make for one of the shallows, 
and lie doggo till he has time to effect repairs. 
Result, every shallow is watched as carefully 
as a miser watches his gold. And sea planes 
have a special patrol of the coast to keep 
them off the shallows by the shore.'* 

"Sometimes, then, in the murk of night, a 
destroyer must bump into one by sheer good 
luck?" 

"Oh, yes, indeed. Not long ago, a British 
destroyer racing through a pitch dark rainy 
night cut a sub almost in half. There was 
a tremendous bump that knocked the people 
on the bridge over backward, a lot of yelling, 
and then a wild salvo of rain blotted every- 
thing out. I think they managed to rescue 
one of the Germans. Pity they didn't get the 
fish itself. You know it's a great stunt to 
get your enemy's codes. We get them once 
in a while. Ever seen a pink booklet on 
any of your destroyer trips? It's a translation 
of a German book of instructions to sub- 
marine commanders. On British boats they 
call it ' Baby-Killing at a Glance or the Hun's 
Vade Mecum.' Great name, isn't it? Tells 
how to attack convoys and all thatsort of 

90 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

thing. Lots of interesting tricks like squatting 
in the path of the sun so that the lookout, 
blinded by the glare, shan't see you; playing 
dead and so on. That playing-dead stunt, 
if it ever did work, which I greatly doubt, 
is certainly no favourite now." 

"Playing dead.^ Just what do you mean?" 
"Why, a destroyer would chase a sub into 
the shallows and bomb her. Then 'Fritz' 
would release a tremendous mess of oil to 
make believe that he was terribly injured, 
and lie doggo for hours and hours. The 
destroyer, of course, seeing the oil, and hearing 
nothing from Tritz' was expected to conclude 
that 'Fritz' had landed in Valhalla, and go 
away. Then when she had gone away, 'Fritz,' 
quite uninjured, went back to his job." 
"And now that stunt is out of fashion?" 
" You bet it is. Our instructions are to bomb 
until we get tangible results. Before it an- 
nounces the end of a sub, the Admiralty has 
to have unmistakable evidence of the sub's 
destruction. Not long ago, they say a sub 
played dead somewhere off the Channel, 
sent up oil, and waited for the fishers to go. 
In a few seconds, 'Fritz' got a depth bomb 

91 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

right on his ear, and up he came to the top, the 
most surprised and angry Hun that ever was 
seen. Bagged him, boat and all. He must 
have had a head of solid ivory. 

*'Got to be cruising along, now. It's four 
o'clock, and our tender must be waiting for 
me at the pier." 

"Going fishing.f^" I asked politel3^ 
"You bet!" he answered with a grin. 



92 



XII 

AMUSEMENTS 

ON EVERY vessel in the Navy there 
is a phonograph, and on some destroy- 
ers there are two phonographs, one 
for the officers, and one for the men. The 
motion of the destroyer rarely permits the 
use of the machine at sea, but when the vessel 
lies quietly at her mooring buoy, you are 
likely to hear a battered old opera record 
sounding through the port holes of the ward 
room, and "When the midnight choo choo 
leaves for Alabam' " rising raucously out 
of the crew's quarters. When music fails, 
there are always plenty of magazines, thanks 
to good souls who read Mr. Burleson's offer 
and affix the harmless, necessary two cent 
stamps. Each batch is full of splendid novel- 
ettes. We gloat over the esoteric mysteries 
of the "iVmerican Buddhist," and wonder 
who sent it, we read the "Osteopath's Quar- 
terly," the "Western Hog Breeder," and 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

"Needlework." Petty officers with agricul- 
tural ambitions, and there are alwaj^s a few 
on every boat, descend on the agricultural 
journals like wolves on the fold. 

No notice of Queenstown, no history of 
the Navy would be complete without a w^ord 
about golf. It is the Navy game. Golf 
clubs are to be found in every cabin; in the 
tiny libraries Harry Vardon rubs shoulders 
with naval historians and professors of ther- 
modynamics. If you take the train, you are 
sure to find a carriage full of golfers bound for 
a course on the home side of the river. I 
remember seeing the captain of an American 
submarine just about to start upon the most 
dangerous kind of an errand one could pos- 
sibly imagine. It was midnight; it was rain- 
ing, the great Atlantic surges w^ere sweeping 
into the bay in a manner which told of rough 
weather outside. Just as he was about to 
disappear into the clamorous bowels of his 
craft, the captain paused for an instant on 
the ladder, and shouted back to us, "Tell 
Sanderson to put that mashie in my room 
when he's through with it." 

Were it not for the great "United States 

94 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

Naval Men's Club," I fear that Jack ashore 
would have had but a dull time, for our 
amusements were limited to a dingy cinema 
exploiting American "serials" several years 
old, and a shed in which a company of odd 
people played pretentious melodramas of the 
"Worst Woman in London" tjT)e on a tiny 
Sunday school stage. Alas, there were not 
enough people in the company to complete 
the cast of characters, so the poor leading 
lady was forever disappearing into the wings 
as the wronged daughter of a ducal house, 
only to appear again in a few minutes as the 
dark female poisoner, whilst the little leading 
man with a Kerry Brogue was forever rushing 
back and forth between the old white-haired 
servitor and the Earl of Darnleycourt. Once 
in a while Jack came to these performances, 
bought the best seat, and left the theatre be- 
fore the performance was ended. The British 
Tars, however, sat through it respectably and 
solemnly to the end. 

The Men's Club was to be found at one end 
of the town close by the water's edge. It was 
quite the most successful and attractive thing 
of its kind I have ever visited. The largest 

95 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

building was a factory-like affair of brick 
which once housed some swimming baths, 
then became a theatre, and finally failed 
and lay down to die; the smaller buildings 
were substantial huts of the Y. M. C. A. kind 
which had been attached to the original 
structure. This institution provided some 
several thousand sailors with a canteen, an 
excellent restaurant, a theatre, a library, a 
recreation room, and, if necessary, a lodging. 
Best of all, one could go to the Club and 
actually be warm and comfortable in the 
American style, a boon not to be lightly re- 
garded in these islands where people all winter 
long huddle in freezing rooms round lilliputian 
grates. Enlisted men controlled the club, 
maintained it, and selected their stewards, 
cooks and attendants from their own ranks. 
Upon everybody concerned, the Club reflects 
the highest credit. 

There were "movies" every night, and on 
Saturday night a special concert by the "tal- 
ent" in the flotilla. The opening number 
was always a selection by the Club Orchestra, 
perhaps a march of Sousa's, for the Navy 
is true to its own, or perhaps Meacham's 

96 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

"American Patrol." Then came a long 
four-reel movie, "Jim the Penman," "The 
Ring of the Borgias," "Gladiola" or "Davy 
Crockett." The last terrifying flickers die 
away, the footlights become rosy; the curtain 
rises on "The Musical Gobs." We behold a 
pleasant room in which two people in civilian 
clothes sit playing a soft, crooning air on 
violins. Suddenly a knock is heard at the 
door. One of the performers rises, goes to 
the door, then returns and says to his partner : 

"There's some sailors out there (great 
laughter in the audience); they say they can 
play too. Want to know if they can't come 
in and play with us." 

"Sure, tell 'em to come in." 

"Come in, boys." 

From behind the back drop, a subdued 
humming suddenly bursts and blossoms into 
"Strike up the band; here comes a sailor." 
Enter now^ three pleasant looking, amiably 
grinning lads playing the tune. Chairs are 
brought out for the newcomers and the "Musi- 
cal Gobs," genuine artists all, play several 
airs. Another knock is heard and a singer, 
a petty officer with a good tenor, also begs to 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

join them. The curtain goes down in a perfect 
tempest of applause. The screen descends 
once more, and all present sing together the 
popular songs whose text is shown, "Gimme a 
kiss, Mirandy," and "It's a long way to Ber- 
lin, but we'll get there." This feature was 
always a favourite. We then have a clog 
dancer, two more comic films and the National 
anthems. \ATien the show is over, almost 
everybody wandered to the canteen to get 
"a bite to eat." To o'erleap the bars of the 
ration system with a real plate of ham and 
eggs, served club style, was an experience. 

So if you were aboard a destroyer that 
night, you would have heard Jack whistling 
the new tunes, and his officers discussing golf 
scores. 



98 



XIII 

STORM 

SOONER or later, destroyer folk are sure 
to say something about tJie storm. It 
happened in December and raged for 
a full three days. Readers will have to 
imagine what it meant to destroyer sailors; 
the boat dancing, tipping and rolling crazily 
without a second's respite; no warm food 
to eat because a saucepan could not be kept 
on the stove or liquids in a saucepan; no 
rest to be had. Imagine being in the look- 
out's station in such a storm, wondering 
when the tops of the masts were going to 
crash down on one's head. It was a hard 
time. Yet two-thirds of the American flo- 
tilla were out in it, and not a single vessel lost 
an hour from her patrol. Indeed the American 
vessels w^ere about the only patrol boats to 
stay out during the tempest. 

One day in the wardroom of the good old 
Z, some of the officers began to tell of it. The 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

first narrator was the radio oflScer, a tall 
blond Westerner with big grey eyes, and a 
little sandy moustache. 

"I knew we were in for something when 
I saw the clouds racing over against the wind. 
Didn't you notice that, Duke? It kept up 
for quite a while, and kept getting colder 
and colder. It wasn't one of these squally 
storms, but one of these storms that starts 
with a repressed grouch, nurses it along, 
and finally decides to have it out. Whoopee! 
Some night, that first one. Everybody stayed 
on their feet. Couldn't have slept if you'd 
had the chance to. To get about, you grabbed 
the nearest thing handy, hung on for dear 
Fife, took a step, grabbed the next thing 
handy and so on. The old hooker did the 
darndest stunts I ever saw or felt.j I came 
in to get mj^ coat hanging in that corner, and 
the first thing I knew I was lying on the 
floor over in the other corner trying to fight 
my way to my feet again. One of the men in 
the boiler room got burned by being thrown 
against a hot surface. Did I tell you how I 
tried to lie down? Well, just as I had actually 
succeeded in getting over to this transom 

100 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

and stretching out preparatory to strapping 
myself in (you have to strap yourself tight in 
these destroyer bunks same as in an aeroplane) 
the old craft sank or swooped or did something 
more than usually funny, and left me hanging 
in the air about a foot and a half above the 
bunk. I must have looked like the subject 
of an experiment in levitation. A minute 
later either the bunk came up and caught me 
a wallop in the back, or I fell down like a ton 
of brick or we met in mid air, anyway, I 
thought my spine had been carried away. 
Then all of a sudden the library door opened 
and dumped about a hundred pounds of books 
on me. 

"It was really dangerous to go on deck, 
for the waves could easily have torn one 
from the life line. One of the boats did, I 
think, lose a man overboard, but by wonderful 
luck managed to fish him out again." It 
is the engineer officer speaking. He is some- 
what older than the average destroyer officer; 
somewhere on the edge of the forties, I should 
say; of medium height, lean; and with hazel 
eyes, a thin high nose and a thin, firm mouth. 
"I was just getting through my watch, had 

101 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

my foot on the ladder, in fact, when the boat 
that we lost got smashed in. A wave about the 
size of a young mountain climbed aboard, 
hit the deck, caught the boat, and then poured 
off with the kindling wood. Then to make 
things interesting, right when it was blowing 
the hardest, the men's dog took it into his 
head to come on deck. Of course, he was 
only a three months' pup then, and didn't 
know any better. (He does now though, he 
won't stick his nose out w^hen the weather's 
bad.) Well, he slipped his collar or some- 
thing, and ran on deck. The w^ater was wash- 
ing about under the torpedo tubes like the 
breakers at Atlantic City, and the deck plates 
were buckling. Takes a destroyer to do that. 
But I keep forgetting the dog. The little 
brute backed up between two of the stacks 
and started yapping out a puppyish bark at 
the world to starboard. It was funny in a 
way to see the little brute there with his short 
hair blown backw^ards and his feet braced 
on the w^et deck. Everybody yelled, and one 
of the men ran out hanging on to the life line, 
and not a minute too soon either, for a second 
later a big wave came thumping down on us, 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

and there was Maloney, the big dark fellow 
you were talking to this morning, hanging on 
to the wire by one arm, with the fool dog 
squashed under the other, and the w^hole 
Irish Sea trying to wash them both overboard. 
I was afraid he'd lose his balance or have 
the handle that travels along the wire torn 
out of his grasp. But he got to shelter all 
right, the darn dog yapping steadily all the 
time. We had two, almost three days of it, 
and it never let up one bit. One of our boats 
got caught in it with only a meagre supply 
of oil, but managed to make a French port. 
I've heard that there actually wasn't enough 
oil left in her tanks to have taken her three 
miles further. Other destroyers, too, had 
boats smashed up, and one of 'em came in 
with her smokestacks bent up for all the 
world like the crooked fingers of a hand. 
Some had depth charges washed overboard. 
It certainly was the worst blow that I remem- 
ber." 

Here the navigator came over with a twinkle 
in his eye, and touched me on the shoulder. 

"Don't let him fill you with that dope," 
said he, "that storm wasn't in it with the 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

storms we have on the other side off Hat- 
teras." 

"Hatteras, my neck," said the other. 
"AATiat do you think you are, anyway — Hell- 
Roaring Jake the Storm King?" 

And then the talk shifted to something 
else. 



104 



XIV 

ON NIGHT PATROL 

IT WAS the end of the afternoon, there 
was Hght in the western sky and on the 
wmding bay astern, but ahead, leaden, 
still, and slightly tilted up to a grey bank of 
eastern cloud, lay the forsaken and beleaguered 
sea. The destroyer, nosing slowly through the 
gap in the nets by the harbour mouth, entered 
the swept channel, increased her speed, and 
trembling to the growing vibration, hurried 
on into the dark. High, crumbling, and 
excessively romantic, the Irish coast behind 
her died away. Tragic waters lay before her. 
Whatever illusory friendliness men had read 
into the sea had vanished; the great leaden 
disk about the vessel seemed as insecure as 
a mountain road down whose length travellers 
cease from speaking for fear of avalanches. 
"A vast circular ambush." Somehow the 
beholder cannot help feeling that the waters 
should show some sign of the horrors they have 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

seen. But the sea has engulfed all, memories 
as well as living men, engulfing a thousand 
wrecks as completely as time engulfs a thou- 
sand years. 

The dark came swiftly, almost as if the 
destroyer had sailed to find it in that bank 
of eastern cloud. There was an interval of 
twilight, no dying glow, but a mere pause in 
the pale ebb of the day. The destroyer had 
begun to roll. Looking back from the bridge 
one saw the lean, inconceivably lean, steel 
deck, the joints of the plates still visible, 
the guns to each side with their attendant 
crews, a machine gun, swinging on a pivot 
like a weather vane, the gently swaying bulk 
of the suspended motor dories and life boats, 
the four great tubes of the funnels rising 
flush from the plates, and crowned with a 
tremble of vibration from the oil flames below. 
And all this lean world swung slowly from side 
to side, rocking as gently as a child's cradle, 
swayed as if by some gentle force from within. 

The destroyer was out on patrol. A part 
of the threatened sea had been given to her 
to watch and ward. She was the guardian, 



. the avenger. 



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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

The supper hour arrived, men came in 
groups to the galley door, some to depart 
with steamy pannikins, there was a smell 
of good food very satisfying to children of 
earth. In the officer's wardroom when dinner 
was over, and the negro mess boys were 
silently folding the white cloth, securing the 
chairs, and tidying up, those not on watch 
settled down to a friendly talk. All the lights 
except one bulb hanging over the table in 
a pyramidal tin shade had been switched off. 
It was very quiet. Now and then one could 
hear the splash of a wave against the side, a 
footfall on the deck overhead, or the tinkle 
of the knives and forks which the steward 
was putting away in a drawer. The hanging 
light swayed with the motion of the ship, 
trailing a pool of light up and down the oaken 
table. Cigarette smoke rose in wisps and 
long, languorous oriental coils to the clean 
ceiling. A sailor or two came in for his orders. 
Hushed voices talking apart, a direction to 
do this or that, a respectful business-like "y^s, 
sir," a quiet withdrawal by the only door. 
It was all very calm, it had the atmosphere 
of a cruise, yet those aboard might have been 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

torpedoed any minute, struck a mine, crashed 
into a submarine fooling about too near the 
surface (this has happened) or been sunk in 
thirty seconds by some hurrying, furtive 
brute of a hner which would have ridden 
over them as easily as a snake goes over a 
branch. The talk flowed in many channels, 
on the problems of destroyers, on the adven- 
tures of other boats, on members of the crew 
soon to be advanced to commissioned rating, 
and under the thought under the words, could 
be discerned the one fierce purpose of these 
fighting lives; the will to strike down the 
submarine and open the lanes of the sea. 
Oh, the vigilance, the energy, the keenness of 
the American patrol! There were tales of 
U-boats hiding in suspected bays, of mer- 
chantmen swiftly and terribly avenged, of 
voices that cried for help in the night, of life 
boats almost awash in whose foul waters 
the dead floated swollen and horrible. The 
war of the destroyer against the submarine 
is a matter of tragic melodrama. 

The wandering glow of the swaying lamp 
now was reflected from the varnished table 
to one keen young face, now to another. 

lOS 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

"Running a destroyer is a young man's game," 
says the Navy. True enough. Pray do not 
imagine them, as a crew of *' hell-driving 
boys." The destroyer service is the achieve- 
ment of the man in the early thirties, of the 
officer with a young man's vigour and energy 
and the resolution of maturity. After all, 
the Navj^ Department is not yet trusting 
vessels worth several million dollars and 
carrying over a hundred men to eager young- 
sters who have no background of experience 
to their energy, good-will and bravery. If 
you would imagine a destroyer captain, take 
your man of thirty-two or -three, give him 
blue eyes, a keen, clear-cut face essentially 
American in its features, a sailor's tan, and 
a sprinkling of grey hair. A type to remember, 
for to the destroyer captain more than to 
any other single figure do we owe our oppor- 
tunity of winning the war. 

The evening waned, the officers who were 
to go on watch at twelve stole off to get a little 
sleep before being called. The navigator and 
the senior engineer slept on the transoms of 
the wardroom. A junior officer lingered be- 
neath the solitary ever-swinging light, reading 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

a magazine. A little hitch worked itself into 
the destroyer's motion, a swift upward leap, a 
little catch in mid air, a descent ending in 
a quiver. The voice of the waters grew louder, 
there were hissing splashes, watery blows, 
bubbly gurgles. 

The sleeping officers had not paused to 
undress. Nobody bothers to strip on a 
destroyer. There isn't time, and a man has 
to be ready on the instant for any eventuality. 

The door giving on a narrow passageway 
to the deck opened, and as it stood ajar, the 
hissing of the water alongside invaded the 
silent room. A sailor in a blue reefer, a 
big lad with big hands and simple, friendly 
face, entered quietly, walked over a transom 
and said: 

"Twelve o'clock, sir." 

"AH right, Simmons," said the engineer, 
sitting up and kicking off the clothes at once 
with a quick gesture. Then he swung his 
legs over the side of the bunk, pulled on a coat 
and hat and wandered out to take his trick 
at the bridge. 

He found a lovely, starlit night, a night 
rich in serenity and promised peace, a night 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

for lovers, a poet's night. There was phos- 
phorescence in the water, and as the destroyer 
rolled from side to side, now the guns and rails 
to port, now those to starboard stood shaped 
against the spectral trail of foam running 
river-like alongside. One could see some dis- 
tance ahead over the haunted plain. The men 
by the guns were changing watch; black 
figures came down the lane by the funnels. 
A sailor was drawing cocoa in a white enamel 
cup from a tap off the galley wall. The hatch- 
way leading to the quarters of the crew was 
open; it was dark within; the engineer 
heard the wiry creak of a bunk into which 
some one had just tumbled. The engineer 
climbed two little flights of steps to the bridge. 
It was just midnight. It was very still on 
the bridge, for all of the ten or twelve people 
standing by. All very quiet and rather 
solemn. One can't escape from the rich melo- 
drama of it all. The bridge was a little, low- 
roofed space perhaps ten feet wide and eight 
feet long, ^it had a front wall shaped like a 
wide, outward pointing V, its sides and rear 
were open to the night. The handful of officers 
and men on watch stood at various points 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

along the walls peering out into the darkness. 
Phosphorescent crests of low, breaking waves 
flecked the waters about; it was incredibly 
spectral. In the heart of the bridge burned 
its only light, a binnacle lamp burning as 
steadily as a light in the chancel of a darkened 
church, the glow cast the shadow of the helms- 
man and the bars of the wheel down upon 
the floor in radiations of light and shade like 
the stripes of a Japanese flag. The captain, 
keeping a sharp lookout over the bow, gave 
his orders now and then to the helmsman, 
a petty officer with a sober, serious face. 

Suddenly there were steps on the compan- 
ionway behind, the dark outline of some 
messenger appeared, a shadow on a back- 
ground of shades. The sailor peered round 
for his chief and said, "Mr. Andrews sent me 
up, sir, to report hearing a depth bomb or a 
mine explode at 12.25." 

"Was it very loud, Williams?" 

"Yes, sir, I should have said that it wasn't 
more than a few miles away. We all heard 
it quite distinctly down below." 

Evidently some devil's work was going on 
in the heart of the darkness. The vibration 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

had travelled through the water and had 
been heard, as always, in that part of the ship 
below the water line. 

"Williams withdrew. The destroyer rushed 
on into the romantic night. 

"Must have spotted something on the sur- 
face," said some one. ... A radio operator 
appeared with a sheaf of telegrams. " Submar- 
ine seen in latitude x and longitude y," 
"Derelict awash in position so and so." 
"Gun fire heard off Cape Z at half past eleven" 
— it all had to do with the channel zone to the 
south. The captain shoved the sheaf into 
a pocket of his jacket. 

Suddenly, through the dark, was heard a 
hard, thundering pound. 

"By jingo, there's another," said somebody. 
"Nearby, too. Wonder what's up?" 

"Sounded more like a torpedo this time," 
said an invisible speaker in a heavy, dogged 
voice. A stir of interest gripped the bridge; 
one could see it in the shining eyes of the 
young helmsman. Two of the sailors dis- 
cussed the thing in whispers, fragments of 
conversation might have been overheard. — 
"No, I should have said off the port bow." 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

"Isn't this about the place where the Welsh 
Prince got hers?" "Listen, didn't you hear 
something then?" 

From somewhere in the distance came three 
long blasts, blasts of a deep roaring whistle. 

"Something's up, sure!" 

The destroyer, in obedience to an order of 
the captain, took a sharp turn to port, and 
turning, left far behind a curving, luminous 
trail upon the sea. The wind was dying 
down. Again there were steps on the way. 

"Distress signal, sir," said the messenger 
from the radio room, a shock-haired lad who 
spoke with the precise intonation of a Boston- 
ian. 

The captain stepped to the side of the 
binnacle, lowered the flimsy sheet into the 
glow of the lamp, and summoned his officers. 
The message read: "S. S. Zemblan, position 
X y z torpedoed, request immediate assist- 
ance." 

An instant later several things happened all 
at once. The "general quarters" alarm bell 
which sends every man to his station began 
to ring, full speed ahead was rung on in 
the engine room, and the destroyer's course 

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C Zi 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

was altered once more. Men began to tumble 
up out of the hatchways, figures rushed along 
the dark deck; there were voices, questions, 
names. The alarm bell rang as monotonously 
as an ordinary door bell whose switch has 
jammed. But soon one sound, the roaring 
of the giant blowers sucking in air for the 
forced draught in the boiler room, overtopped 
and crushed all other fragments of noise, 
even as an advancing wave gathers into 
itself and destroys pools and rills left along 
the beach by the tide. A roaring sound, a 
deep windy hum. Gathering speed at once, 
the destroyer leaped ahead. And even as 
violence overtook the lives and works of men, 
the calm upon the sea became ironically more 
than ever assuring and serene. 

"Good visibility," said somebody on the 
bridge. "She can't be more than three 
miles away now. Hello, there's a rocket." 

A faint bronzy golden trail, suddenly flow- 
ering into a drooping cluster of darting white 
lights gleamed for a furtive instant among 
the westering winter stars. 

"I saw her, sir!" cried one of the' lookouts. 

"Where is she, O'Farrell?" 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

"Quite a bit to the left of the rocket, sir. 
She's setthng by the head." 

The beautiful night closed in again. O'Far- 
rell and the engineer continued to peer out 
into the dark. Suddenly both of them cried 
out, using exactly the same words at exactly 
the same time, "Torpedo off the port bow, 
sir!" 

The thing had become visible in an in- 
stant. It could be seen as a rushing white 
streak in the dark water, and was com- 
ing towards the destroyer with the speed of 
an express train, coming like a bullet out of 
a gun. 

The captain uttered a quick word of com- 
mand. The wheel spun, the roaring, trembling 
ship turned in the dark. A strange thing hap- 
pened. Just as the destroyer had cleared the 
danger line, the torpedo, as if actuated by some 
malevolent intelligence, porpoised, and actu- 
ally turned again towards the vessel. The fate 
of the destroyer lay on the knees of the 
gods. Those on the bridge instinctively 
braced themselves for the shock. The affair 
seemed to be taking a long time, a terribly 
long time. An instant later, the contrivance 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

rushed through the foaming wake of the 
destroyer only a few yards astern, and con- 
tinuing on, disappeared in the calm and glitter- 
ing dark. A floating red light suddenly ap- 
peared just ahead and at the same moment 
all caught sight of the Zemhlan. 

She was hardly more than half a mile away. 
Somebody aboard her had evidently just 
thrown over one of those life buoys with a 
self-igniting torch attachment, and this buoy 
burned a steady orange red just off that side 
on which the vessel was listing. The dark, 
stricken, motionless bulk leaned over the little 
pool of orange radiance gleaming in a fitful 
pool; round the floating torch one could see 
vague figures working on a boat by the stern, 
and one figure walking briskly down the deck 
to join them. There was not a sign of any 
explosion, no breakage, no splintered wood. 
Some ships are stricken, and go to their death 
in flames and eddying steam, go to their 
death as a wounded soldier goes; other ships 
resemble a strong man suddenly stricken by 
some incurable and mysterious disease. The 
unhappy Zemblan was of this latter class. 
There were two boats on the water, splashing 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

their oars with a calm regularity of the college 
crews; there were inarticulate and lonely 
cries. 

Away from the light, and but vaguely seen 
against the midnight sky, lay a British patrol 
boat which had happened to be very close 
at hand. And other boats were signalling — 
*'Zemblan — am coming." The sloop signalled 
the destroyer that she would look after the 
survivors. Cries were no longer heard. Round 
and round the ship in great sweeps went the 
destroyer, seeking a chance to be of use, — 
to avenge. Other vessels arrived, talked by 
wireless and disappeared before they had 
been but vaguely seen. 

Just after two o'clock, the Zemhlaiv's stem 
rose in the air, and hung suspended motion- 
less. The tilted bulk might have been a rock 
thrust suddenly out of the deep towards the 
starry sky. Then suddenly, as if released 
from a pose, the stern plunged under, plunged 
as if it were the last act of the vessel's conscious 
will. 

The destroyer cruised about till dawn. A 
breeze sprang up with the first glow of day, 
and scattered the little wreckage which had 

118 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

floated silly-solemnly about. Nothing re- 
mained to tell of an act more terrible than 
murder, more base than assassination. 



119 



XV 

CAMOUFLAGE 

IN THE annals of the Navy one may read 
of many a famous duel, and if the code 
duello were in existence to-day, I feel 
certain that the present would not be less 
fiery than the past. The subject which stirs 
up all the discussion is camouflage. To ask 
at a crowded table: "What do you think of 
camouflage," is to hurl a very apple of discord 
down among your hosts. For there will be 
some who will stand by camouflage to the last 
bright drop of blood, and strive to win you to 
their mind with tales that do "amaze the very 
faculties of eyes and ears." You will hear of 
ships melting into cloud, of vessels apparently 
going full speed backward, of ships whose 
funnels have one and all been rendered in- 
visible. And now the mocker is sure to ask 
the pro-camouflager in the most serious of 
tones if he ever saw the ship disguised as a 
sunset which the Germans unhappily dis- 

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covered on a rainy day. The signal gun of 
the anti-camouflage squad now having sound- 
ed, the assault begins with a demand of 
*'Wliat's your theory?'* The pro's reply 
something about breaking up spaces of colour, 
optical Illusions — *'If you draw horizontal 
lines along a boat's hull, she will appear 
longer; If you draw vertical or angular 
parallels, the vessel will appear shorter." 
The antl's answer that such an expedient 
might possibly, just possibly, deceive an Idiot 
child for exactly five and one-eighths seconds, 
as for deceiving a wily Hun, — Good Night! 
*'Do you mean to tell me," cries the devotee 
of camouflage, growing angry, *'that a ship 
painted one flat, dead colour Is less visible 
against the sea than one whose surface Is 
broken up into many colours?" "Yes, that's 
what I mean," retorts the antl. "You know 
as well as I do that a thing that looks like 
Vesuvius in eruption Is ten times more easily 
seen than a boat painted a dull neutral grey." 
"Yes," cries some one else, "but hasn't 
camouflage on land proved Its utility?" "I'm 
talking about naval camouflage," answers 
the anti. "On land your camouflaged object 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

is usually stationary Itself, and stands in 
relation to a surface which Is always station- 
ary, — the surrounding landscape. Out here, 
both surfaces, sea and vessel, are constantly 
In motion and constantly changing their 
relation to each other." "But I saw a boat — '* 
begins a pro. *'0h, cut it out," cries some- 
body else wholeheartedly, and the discussion 
ends exactly where a thousand others have 
ended. 

Whether camouflage be valuable or not, it 
certainly Is the fad of the hour. The good, 
old-fashioned, one-colour boat has practically 
disappeared from the seas, and the ships that 
cross the ocean in these perilous times have 
been docked to make a cubist holiday; the 
futurists are saving democracy. There are 
countless tricks. I remember seeing one boat 
with a false water line floating In a painted 
sea whose roaring waves contrasted oddly 
with a frightfully placid horizon, and I recall 
another with the silhouette of a schooner 
painted on her side. I remember a little 
tramp remorselessly striped, funnels and all 
with alternate slanting bands of apple-green 
and snuff brown; I have an indistinct memory 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

of a terrible mess of milky-pink, lemon-yellow 
and rusty black, which earned for the vessel 
displaying it the odious title of "The Boil." 
We saw the prize monstrosity in midocean. 
Every school of camouflage had evidently 
had a chance at her. She was striped, she 
was blotched; she was painted in curves; 
she was slashed w^ith jagged angles; she was 
bone grey; she was pink; she was purple; 
she was green; she was blue; she was egg 
yellow. To see her was to gasp and turn 
aside. We had quite a time picking a suitable 
name for her, but finally decided on the 
Conscientious Objector, though her full title 
was "The State of Mind of a C. O. on Being 
Sent to the Front." 

Finally destiny put in my path just the man 
I wanted to see, the captain of a British sub- 
marine. "What do you think of camouflage.'' " 
I asked. 

"Well," he answered, after a pause, "I 
can't remember that it ever hindered us from 
seeing a ship. Visibility at sea strikes me as 
being more a matter of mass than of colour. 
The optical illusion tricks are too priceless 
silly. Must amuse the Huns. You see if the 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

eye does play him false, Fritz detects the 
error with his gauges." 

The P. C's, I am sure, will put this down as 
a bit of typical submarine "side," Indignant 
letters, care H. M. S. X999. 



124 



XVI 

TRAGEDY 

JUST at the fall of night, three days before, 
a weak and fragmentary wireless had 
cried forlornly over the face of the waters 
for immediate help, and had then ceased 
abruptly like a lamp blown out by a gust of 
wind. The destroyers, stationed here and 
there in the vast loneliness of the gathering 
dark, had heard and waited for *'the position" 
of the disaster, but nothing more came through 
the night. Presently, it had begun to rain. 

And now for three interminable and tedi- 
ous days and nights rain had been falling, 
falling with the monotony and purpose of 
water over a dam. There being little or no 
wind the drops fell straight as plummets from 
a sky flat as a vast ceiling, and the air rever- 
berated with that murmuring hum which is 
the voice of the rain mingling with the sea. 
Rain greasy with oil it had gathiered from the 
plates poured in little streams off the deck; 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

drops hissed on the iron of the hot stacks. 
Clad in stout waterproof clothes, and wearing 
their waterproof hoods, the crew went casually 
about their duties, their hardy faces showing 
no sign of discomfort or weariness. 

It was about three o'clock in the afternoon 
of a January day. 

Presently the lookout, from his station on 
the mast, reported: "Floating object off star- 
board bow," and a few minutes later one of 
the watch on the bridge reported two more 
floating masses, this time visible to port. 
The destroyer was making her way into a 
vast field of wreckage. Within the radius of 
visibility, there lay, drifting silently about in 
the incessant rain, an incredible quantity of 
barrels, boxes, bits of wood, crates, vegetables, 
apples, onions, fragments of coke, life pre- 
servers and planks. 

*'See if you can spot a name on anything," 
said the destroyer's captain. But though 
everybody looked carefully, not a sign of a 
name could be seen. Mile after mile went 
the destroyer down the rain lashed sea, 
mile after mile of wreckage opened before 
her. 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

"Life boat ahead showing flag!" 

The captain raised to his eyes the pair of 
binoculars he wore hanging from his neck, 
and peered out of the window by the wheel. 

*' Found her yet, sir?" 

"Yes . . . it's a small grey boat. Barely 
afloat, I guess. They've got a shirt or some- 
thing tied to a mast or an oar. We'll have a 
look at it. Tell Mullens to have a couple of 
men stand by with boat hooks in case we 
run alongside." 

The swamped boat, motionless as a stone 
in the driving rain, lay no more than half a 
mile off. Voices eagerly discussed the possi- 
bility of finding survivors. 

" Alive .'^ Course they ain't. Why, the boat's 
awash." 

"Sure, but look at the flag." 

"Those poor guys are gonners long ago." 

Handled skilfully the destroyer crept along- 
side the motionless boat, and presently those 
on the bridge looked directly down upon it. 
It lay, floating on even keel, not more than 
six or seven feet off the starboard side, and was 
held up by its tanks. A red flannel shirt hung 
soggily against an upright pole, and coloured 

127 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

the shaft with the drippings of its dye. The 
interior of the boat was but a deep puddle, 
a dark puddle into which the rain fell monot- 
onous and implacable. Floating face down 
and side by side in the water lay the fully 
clothed bodies of two men, whilst at the 
stern, sitting on a seat just under water, 
with his feet in the water and his body toppled 
over on the gunwale, could be seen a third 
figure dressed in a kind of seaman's jacket. 
The wet cloth of his trousers clung lightly 
to his thin legs and revealed the taut muscles 
of his thighs. Then boat hooks fished out from 
the side of the destroyer and drew the heavy 
craft in. A sailor cried out that all were 
dead. 

*' Any name on the boat, Hardy?" asked the 
ofiicer standing by. 

"No, sir." 

"Very well. Cast off!" The life boat, 
watched by some rather horrified eyes, slid 
alongside the destroyers, and drifted solemnly 
behind. 

"Now," said the captain, who had come on 
deck, "I want one tidy shot put into that boat, 
Butler." 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

Ten seconds later, the roar of the four-Inch 
at the stern burst asunder the murmur of 
the rain, and the watchers saw the boat of 
the dead crumple and disappear in the loneli- 
ness and rain. 



129 



1 



XVII 

CONSOLIDATION, NOT COOPERATION" 

"TALKING one day with an English 
member of the House of Commons, I 
asked him what he held to be the 
most important result of American interven- 
tion. 

"The spirit of cooperation which you 
have stirred up among the Allies," he answered. 
"Not that I mean to say that the Allies were 
continually quarrelling among themselves; 
the manner in which Britain has shared her 
ships with other hard pressed nations would 
refute any such insinuation, but not until 
you came on the scene was there a really 
scientific attempt at the coordination of our 
various forces. You were quite right to insist 
on a generalissimo. But of course the great 
lesson you've given us has been through your 
Navy. There's been nothing like it in 
the history of the allied forces. What an ex- 
traordinary position Admiral Sims has won 

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in England! His influence is perfectly tre- 
mendous; there isn't another alHed leader 
who has a tithe of his power. I really do not 
think that there is a parallel to it in English 
history." 

Now this is no over-statement of the case. 
The influence of Admiral Sims over the 
British people is tremendous. All along he 
has had but on ewatchword, "Consolidation, 
not Cooperation." It is a splendid phrase, 
and Admiral Sims has turned it into action. 
The way, I gathered from various members 
of the Staff and the Embassy, had not been 
without its obstacles. For instance, once 
upon a time certain American forces were to 
be sent into a distant area, and a member of 
the Allied Naval Council sitting in London 
had taken the stand that the little force 
should be supplied from the United States. 
Immediately Admiral Sims pointed out that 
these American forces must be considered as 
allied forces and must be supplied from the 
nearest and most convenient allied sources 
of supply. And he carried the day. Not 
only has the Admiral insisted' on the con- 
solidation of material forces; but he has also 

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insisted on a consolidation of the allied spirit. 
Himself a master of diplomacy and tact, 
he loses no opportunity of reminding the 
individual oflScers under his control to bear 
in mind the good points of other services 
and to remember the fact that the success 
of this work would be directly affected by 
their relations with their comrades of the 
Great Cause. And this extraordinary con- 
solidation of force and spirit is precisely the 
thing which more than anything else takes 
the attention of the visiting correspondent. 
"Consolidation, not Cooperation" — it is a 
phrase that well might have been our allied 
motto from the first. 

While in London, I had several talks with 
Admiral Sims in his office in Grosvenor Gar- 
dens. Of the many distinguished men it 
has been my lot to interview, Admiral Sims 
stands first for the ability to put a guest at 
ease. Tall, spare, erect, and walking with a 
fine carriage, our Admiral is a personality 
whom the interviewer can never forget. One 
has but to talk with him a few minutes to 
realize the secret of the extraordinary per- 
sonal loyalty he inspires. And he is as popular 

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in France as he is in England. Speaking 
French fluently, he is able to carry on dis- 
cussion with the French members of the Naval 
Council in their own language. 

*' Consolidation, not Cooperation." There's 
a real phrase. And thanks to the great man 
who said it and insisted upon it, we defeated 
the common enemy. 



13S 



nr 



XVIII 

MACHINE AGAINST MACHINE 

HE year stood at the threshold of 
■ the spring; a promise of warmth 
lay in the dimbing sun; on land one 
might have heard the first songs of the birds. 
At sea, the mists of winter were lifting from 
the waters, and the sun, for many months 
shrunk and silver pale, shone hard and 
golden bright. A fresh, clear wind was blow- 
ing from the west, driving ahead of it a multi- 
tude of low foam-streaked waves. There was 
not a sign of life to be seen anywhere on the 
vast disk of the sea, not a trail, not a smudge 
of smoke on the horizon's circle, not even a 
solitary gull or diver. The destroyer, dwarfed 
by her world, ran up and down the square she 
had been chosen to guard. She had the air 
of performing a casual evolution. There was 
never anything to be found in this particular 
square. It lay beyond the great highways; 
even the sight of a coaster was there something 
of a rarity. Periscopes were never reported 
from that area, never had been reported, 

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and probably never would be. Caressed by 
the sun, enveloped in the serenity of the day 
as in a mantle, the destroyer went back and 
forth on her patrol. 

The emergence of the periscope a quarter 
of a mile ahead off the starboard bow had 
in it something so unattended that the incident 
had a character of abnormality . . . much as 
if a familiar hill should suddenly turn into a 
volcano. It is greatly to the honour of 
the ship's discipline, that those aboard were 
not staled by months of unfruitful vigil, 
and acted as swiftly as if the destruction of 
a submarine were matter of daily practice. 
There it lay, going steadily along about two 
hundred yards away, ... a simple, most 
unromantic black rod rising two feet or so 
above the weaves. A white furrow like a kind 
of comet's tail, streamed behind it, forever 
widening at the end. Later on, they asked 
themselves what the submarine could possibly 
have been doing. Seeking a quiet place to 
come up to breathe, to effect repairs, to send 
out a hurried wireless message? 

It might have been a rendezvous between 
the two vessels. One felt that the gods had 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

brought to pass there no careless drama, but 
a tragedy long meditated and skillfully pre- 
pared. The morning sun watched, a casual 
spectator, the duel between the two engines 
of violence. 

There had been a command, a call of the 
summoning bell, a release of power carefully 
stored for just such an event, and the destroyer 
leaped ahead like a runner from the starting 
line. The periscope, meanwhile, continued to 
plough Its way straight ahead almost into the 
teeth of the wind and the flattened, marbly 
waves. Presently, either because the destroy- 
er had been seen or heard on the submarine 
telephone, the submarine began to submerge, 
sucking in a kind of a foaming hollow as she 
sank. Aboard the destroyer, they wondered 
if the keel would clear her, and waited for 
the shock, the rasping grind. But nothing 
happened. The first depth bomb fell into 
the heart of the submarine's swirl even as 
a well placed stone falls In the heart of a 
pool. Trembling to the roar of her fans, 
the destroyer fled across the spot, and turned. 
The wake of her passing had almost oblit- 
erated the platter-shaped swirl the subma- 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

rine had left behind; one had a vision of 
the great steel cylinder tumbling, bubbling 
down through green water to dark, harmless 
as a spool of thread on the surface, but pres- 
ently to be changed by the wisdom and 
cunning of men into monstrous and chaotic 
strength. One, two, three, four, five ... a 
thundering pound. . . . The submarine rose 
behind them, her bow on the crest of the gey- 
ser, an immense, tapering rusty mass, wet and 
shining in the placid glance of the day. From 
a kind of hole some distance up the side, a 
stream of oil ran much like blood from a small 
deep wound. ... A gun spoke, and spoke 
again, a careening whizz, . . . ugly hollow 
crashes of tearing steel . . . the sub heeled 
far over on her starboard side . . . those 
nearest heard, or thought they heard, scream- 
ing . . . the bow sank, tilting up the great 
planes and propellers. A monstrous bubble 
or two broke on the tormented surface just 
before she disappeared . . . and with her 
going, the calm of the spring morning, which 
had been frightened away like a singing bird, 
returned once more to the tragic and mys- 
terious sea. 

137 




XIX 

THE LEGEND OF KELLEY 

ELLEY, not Von Biberstein or Hans 
Bratwurst, Is his name, Kelley spelled 
with an "e." The first destroyer officer 
whom you question will very possibly have 
never heard of him, the second will have 
heard the legend, the third will tell you of a 
radio officer, a friend of his, who received one 
of Kelley's messages. So day by day the 
legend grows apace. Kelley is the captain of 
a German submarine. 

The first time that I heard about him he 
figured as a young Irishman of good family 
who had attached himself to the German 
cause in order to settle old scores. "Lots of 
people know him in the w^est of Ireland; he 
goes ashore there any time he cares to." 
Another version, perhaps the true one, If 
there be any truth at all in this fantastic busi- 
ness, is that Kelley is no Irishman but a cos- 
moDolitan, jesting German with a Celtic 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

camouflage. No less a person than Captain 
James Norman Hall testifies that the Germans 
in the trenches often tried to anger the 
British troops by pretending they were dis- 
loyal Irish. So perhaps Kelley is Von Biber- 
stein after all. A third version has it that 
Kelley is a Calif ornian of Irish origin. Those 
who hold to this last view have it that Kelley 
spares all American ships but sends the Union 
Jack to the bottom without mercy. 

Many and varied are Kelley's activities. 
He has penchant for sending messages. "I 
am in latitude x and longitude y; come and 
get me — Kelley," has come at the dead 
of night into the ears of many an astounded 
radio operator. Others declare that these 
messages were sent by Hans Rose, the skipper 
of the submarine which attacked the shipping 
off Nantucket in 1916. All agree that Kelley 
was the beau ideal of pirates. He sinks a ship 
and apologizes for his action, he sees the women 
passengers into the boats with the grace and 
urbanity of a Chesterfield, he comes alongside 
a wretched huddle of survivors, supplies them 
with food, and sends out notice of their 
position. When they ask his name, he replies 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

"Captain Kelley," and disappears from view 
beneath the sea. He goes ashore, and proves 
his visit with theatre tickets and hotel bills. 
*' London hotel bills made out to Kelley, 
Esquire." He requests the survivors as a 
slight favour to tell Captain Nameless of the 
Destroyer XYZ that his propeller shaft needs 
repairing; that he, Kelley, has been seriously 
annoyed by having to listen to the imperfect 
beat via the submarine telephone. There is 
certainly a flavour of Celt in this chivalry 
tinged with mockery. 

I could never find anybody who had actually 
seen him, much to my regret, for I should have 
been glad to describe so famous a person. 
Months have passed since last I heard of him. 
Perhaps he is still in the Irish Sea; perhaps 
he is now at Harwich, perhaps he has gone 
aloft to join his kinsman "The Flying Dutch- 
man." If so, let us keep his memory green, 
for he was a pirate sans peur et sans reproche. 



140 



XX 

SONS OF THE TRIDENT 

ANY essay on the British sailor must 
rise from a foundation of wholesome 
respect. One cannot look at the 
master of the world without philosophy. 
And British Jack is the world's master, for 
he holds in his hands that mastery of the seas 
which is the mastery of the land. He is a 
sailor of the mightiest of all navies, an inheritor 
of the world's most remarkable naval tradi- 
tion, a true son of Britannia's ancient trident. 

\Miat is he like, British Jack? How does 
he impress those companions who share the 
vigil of the seas.'^ 

To begin with the Briton is, on the average, 
an older man than our bluejacket. British 
Jack has not gone into the Royal Navy "for 
the fun of it" or "to see the world," as our 
posters say, but as the serious business of 
his life. His enlistment is an eight-year 
affair, and by the time that he has completed 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

it, he rarely thinks of returning to a prosaic 
hfe ashore. Thus it comes about that whilst 
our American sailors are usually somewhere 
in the eager, irresponsible twenties, British 
tars are often men of sober middle age. One 
is sure to see, in any of the "home ports," 
the fleet's married men out walking on Sunday 
with their wives and children, forming to- 
gether a number of honest, steady little 
groups whose hold on the durable satisfac- 
tions of life it is a pleasure to see. The "home 
ports" idea has well proved its value. It 
is simple enough in operation. Each ship, 
according to the plan, bases on some definite 
port, thus permitting poor Jack (who has 
enough of roaming at sea) to have a steady 
home on land. In all the great British bases, 
therefore, you will find these sailor colonies. 
I was well acquainted with a retired Navy 
chaplain who ministered to such a group. 
These families form a distinct group dependent 
on the Navy. Marriages are performed by 
the naval chaplain, the ills of the flesh are 
looked after by the fleet surgeons, and the 
rare troubles are brought to the judgment of 
Jack's favourite oflBcers. 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

Our American crews are gathered together 
from all over the vast continent, British crews 
are often recruited from one section of the 
country. For instance, a ship manned by a 
crew from " out o' Devon " is known as a "West 
Country" ship and its sailors as "Westos." 
A real Royal Navy man knows in an instant 
the character of any ship which he happens 
to visit. The drawled "oa's" and oe's" of 
the West tell the story. I once heard a 
"Westo" refer to an officious wharf tender as 
a "bloody to-ad," a phrase that certainly has 
character. Then there be ships based on 
Irish ports. Indeed, there are sure to be Irish 
sailors on every ship, irresponsible, keen- 
witted Celts to whom all devilment is en- 
trusted. 

The war has not been without influence 
on the naval personnel. British Jack had, 
in his own social system, a place of his own. 
He is not looked down upon, for the British 
bluejacket has been, is, and forever ought 
to be the best loved of national figures. Sons 
of "gentlemen," however, I use the word 
here in its British sense, did not joiti the Royal 
Navy as enlisted men. Such a thing would 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

have been regarded as "queer" (no mild 
word, in Britain), and the crew certainly 
would have looked upon any such arrival as 
an intruder. But just as the war has placed 
University men side by side in the ranks with 
troopers like Kipling's Ortheris, so has it 
placed among the enlisted personnel of the 
Royal Navy a large number of men from the 
educated and wealthier class. There hung in 
the Royal Academy this spring a portrait 
of a British bluejacket, a pleasant-looking 
lad some nineteen or twenty years of age 
with blond hair, a long face and honest eyes 
of English grey. It was entitled "My Son." 
Almost invariably the older visitors to the 
exhibition, when looking at this picture, 
would fall to talking of the change in the 
social system which the portrait symbolized. 

There are always a number of boys on Brit- 
ish ships, for the British hold that to be a good 
sailor, one should early become familiar with 
the sea. The status of "boy" is a kind of 
distinct rating, and these youngsters are 
addressed by their last names, viz.. Boy 
Bumblechook or Boy Stiggins. They have 
shown up wonderfully well. One has but to 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

recall little Cornell of Jutland to see of what 
stuff these lads are made. 

The British sailor's uniform is picturesque 
and characteristic, but certainly less attractive 
than ours. It is cut not of broadcloth or of 
serge, but of heavy blue worsted, and a detach- 
able collar of blue linen falls back upon the 
blouse. Our sailors are forever washing the 
blouses to keep the white stripes of the 
collar clean; the Briton has only his collar 
to care for. And there is a difference between 
the national builds as marked as the difference 
twixt the uniforms. Our Jack is rangy, lean 
and quick-moving, the Briton heavier, shorter, 
and more deliberate. In hours of leisure, 
the Briton busies himself with knitting, wood- 
carving or weaving rag rugs; the American, 
driven by the mechanical genius of the nation, 
hurries to the ship's machine shop to pound 
a half-crown into a ring. 

The sons of Columbia and the sons of 
Britannia get on very well together. At the 
big club house at the Irish base, there are 
always little groups of British sailors to be 
seen, quiet, well-behaved fellows- who watch 
everything with British dignity. Our blue- 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

jackets, however, are far more chummy 
with British soldiers than with Britons of 
their own caUing. Navy blue and khaki 
are forever going down the street arm in arm. 
The tar is always keen to hear of the front. 
Tommy does the talking. After all, there is 
a difference in the vernacular. Witness this 
poem which I reprint from the August number 
of Our Navy. It is by a Navy man, Mr. 
R. P. Maulsley. The word Limey, here 
shortened to *'Lima," means, used as a noun, 
a British sailorman; used as an adjective, 
British. The term had its origin in the ancient 
British custom of giving lime juice to ward 
off scurvy. 

THE LIMA AND THE YANKS 

By R. P. Maulsley 

It was nice and cozy in the "Pub," 

And blowing cold outside. 
By the fireplace sat two gobbles, 

America's joy and pride. 

When a Lima from a cruiser 

Thought their talk he'd like to hear. 

And sat down just behind them. 
With a half o' pint of beer. 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

And o'er a flowing mug of ale, 

That held about a quart. 
He heard them swapping stories 

About their stay in port. 

"Say, this is sure some burg, 
Tho' it ain't the U. S. A., 

But did you pipe the classy Jane, 
That passed us on the quay? 

"She gave me some sweet smile, bo, 
And winked her pretty eye," 
"Get out, you big hay-maker, 

It was for me she meant to sigh." 

" G'wan you homely piece of cheese. 
You're talkin' thru' your hat, 

I'll betsha just ten plasters. 
It was me she was smiling at." 

"I'll take that up old-timer. 
Why, that's some easy dough, 

We'll have another round. 
And then we'll have to blow. 

"And if I lamp that broad, kid, 
And she cottons to me quick, 

I'll buy her everything in town. 
And make that ten look sick." 

They arose and left the Lima, 
A gasping in some chairs, 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

And as they left the room. 
He heard them on the stairs. 

"Like candy from a baby, 

I'll take your coin this day. 
And have a high old time and — 

Say, how did you get that way?** 

The Lima emptied his tankard. 
And caught the barmaid's eye, 

"I 'eard them Yanks a tarkin'. 
But what the bloomin' ell'd they seye?' 



148 



1 



XXI 

THE FLEET 

■^HE fleet lay in the Firth of Forth. 
It was one o'clock in the afternoon, 
and the little suburban train which 
leaves and pauses at the Edinburgh Grand 
Fleet pier had not yet been brought to its 
platform. The cold sunlight of a north- 
ern spring fell upon the vast, empty station, 
and burnished the lines of rail beyond the 
entrance arch. Two porters from the adjoin- 
ing hotel, wearing coats of orange-red with 
dull brass buttons, stood lackadaisically by 
a booking oflSce closed for the dinner hour. 
Presently, after a piercing shriek intensified 
by the surro.unding quiet, the suburban 
train backed in with a smooth, crawling noise. 
Various folk began to appear on the platform, 
a group of young British naval officers, a 
handful of older sailors, a captain carrying a 
small leather affair much like a, miniature 
suit-case, a number of civilians, two "Jacks" 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

evidently on furlough, and a young sailor 
lad with a fine bull terrier bitch on a leash. 
No one entered to share my compartment. 
The train left behind the clean, grim town 
. . . rolled on through suburbs and through 
fields barely awake to the spring . . . paused 
here and there at tidy, little stations . . . 
reached the station above the pier. Somewhat 
uncertain of my path to the landing, I fol- 
lowed a group of officers. A middle-aged 
soldier sentry with grey hair and ruddy cheeks 
held me up for my pass, unfolded and folded 
it again with extraordinary deliberation, and 
courteously set me on my way. As yet there 
was no sign of the sea, nor had it once been 
visible during the journey. One might have 
been on the way to play golf at an inland 
field. The path to the pier descended a great 
flight of steps and passed a space in which 
men were playing football. ... A turn down 
a bit of road, and I was looking at the fleet. 

It lay in the great firth, in a monstrous estu- 
ary enclosed between barren banks rising to no 
great height. Bare, scattered woodlands were 
to be seen, a clump of cottages, a castellated 
house in a solitary spot, a great wharf with 

150 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

a trumpery traveller's bookstall in a wooden 
shed at its entrance, a huddle of grey roofs 
at the water's edge on the distant side. Over 
a spur of land the smoke of a giant dockyard 
rose in a hazy reek to the obscured and silvery 
sun. The water in which the squadrons 
lay was for the moment as calm as a woodland 
pool; in colour, green-grey. . . . An incred- 
ible number of ships of war lying lengthwise 
in orderly lines, bows turned to the unseen 
river of the rising tide, . . . row after row, 
squadron after squadron, fleet after fleet, 
ships of war, dark, terrible and huge, no more 
to be counted than the leaves of trees. As 
far as the eye could reach up and down the 
firth, ships. One beheld there the mastery 
of the sea made visible, the mastery of all 
the highways and the secret paths of the 
waters of earth. Because of this fleet ships 
were able to bring grain from distant fields, 
great hopes were kept aflame, and the life 
blood of evil ambitions poured upon the 
ground. A grey haze lay at the mouth of 
the roads and somewhere in the heart of it 
was target practice being held^ for violent 
blots of light again and again burst open 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

the dim and veiling fog. Small gulls passed on 
motionless wings, whistling. Now and then 
a vessel would run up a tangle of flags. The 
signal light of a flagship suddenly uttered a 
message with intermittent flashes of an un- 
natural violet white glare. 

Over earth and sea brooded the peace of 
empire. 



152 



T 



XXII 

THE AJNIERICAN SQUADRON 

■^HE morning found me a guest aboard 
the flagship of the i\merlcan battle- 
ship squadron attached to the Grand 
Fleet. Going on deck, I found the sun 
struggling through thin, motionless mists. A 
layer of webby drops lay on wall and rail, 
on turret and gun. Presently a little cool 
wind, blowing from the land, fled over the 
calm water in mottled, scaly spots, bringing 
with it a piping beat of rhythmic music. Half 
a mile beyond the flagship, the crew of a 
British warship were running in a column 
round and round her decks to the music 
of the ship's band. An endless file of white 
clad figures bent forward, a faint regular 
tattoo of running feet. Round and about 
several of the giants were signalling in blinker. 
Beyond us stood a titanic bridge, whose net- 
work was here and there srnouched with 
clinging vapour, and beneath this giant, a 

153 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

tanker laden with oil for the fleet passed 
solemnly, followed by wheeling gulls. Pres- 
ently two American sailors, lads of that 
alert, eager type that is so intensely and 
honestly American, popped out of a doorway 
and began to polish bright work. 

America was there. 

Surely it was one of the finest thoughts of 
the war to send this squadron of ours. Put- 
ting aside for the instant any thought of the 
squadron as a unit of naval strength, Ameri- 
cans and Britons will do well to consider 
it rather as a splendid symbol of a union 
dedicated to the most honourable of purposes, 
to the defence of that ideal of fraternity and 
international good faith now menaced. They 
say that when the American squadron came 
steaming into the fleet's more northern base 
one bitter winter day, cheer after cheer 
broke from the British vessels as they passed, 
till even the forlorn, snow-covered land rang 
with the shouting. 

It has recently been announced that our 
battleship squadron is under the command 
of Admiral Hugh Rodman, which announce- 
ment the Germans must have taken to heart, 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

for Admiral Rodman is a man of action if ever 
one there was. Tall, strongly built, vigorous 
and alert, he dominates whatever group he 
happens to find himself in by sheer force of 
personality. It would fare ill with a German 
who brought his fleet under the sweep of those 
keen eyes. Admiral Rodman is a Kentuckian, 
and a union of blue grass and blue sea is 
pretty hard to beat, especially when accom- 
panied by a shrewd sense of humour. 

I talked with Admiral Rodman about the 
squadron and its work. 

"Always remember," said he, "that this 
squadron is not over here, as somebody put 
it, 'helping the British.' Nor are we *cooper- 
ating' with the British fleet. Such ideas are 
erroneous, and would mislead your readers. 
Think of this great fleet which you see here 
as a unit of force, controlled by one ideal, one 
spirit and one mind, and of the American 
squadron as an integral part of that fleet. 
Take, as an instance of what I mean, the 
change in our signalling system. We came 
over here using the American system of sig- 
nals. Well, we could not have, two sets of 
signals going, so in order to get right into 

155 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

things, we learned the British signals, and it's 
the British system we are using to-day. . . . 
There are American shi'ps here and British 
ships but only one fleet. 

Everywhere I went, I found both British 
and American officers keen to emphasize 
this unity. Said a Briton— ** Why we no 
longer think of the Americans of *the Ameri- 
cans'; we think of squadron X of the fleet. 
It's just wonderful the way your chaps have 
got down to business and fallen in with the 
technique and the traditions. We expected 
to see you spend some time getting into the 
life of the fleet and all that, you know; the 
sort of thing that a boy in a public school 
goes through before he gets the spirit and the 
ways of the place, but your people came 
along in the morning and had picked up 
everything by the afternoon." And I found 
the Americans proud of the fleet's essential 
oneness, proud to share in its great tradition, 
and to be a part of its history. America is 
taking no obscure place. Her hosts have 
given her the place of honour in the battle line. 

Battle — that was the thought of everybody 
aboard the fleet. If only the German "High 

156 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

Canal'* fleet would really come out and fight 
it to a finish, or as an American lieutenant 
put it, "start something." The Germans, 
however, knew only too well that the famous 
betoasted Der Tag would turn swiftly into 
a Dies Tree and preferred to surrender. So 
for lack of an antagonist, the fleet had to be 
content to keep steam up all the time and to 
know that everything was prepared for a day 
of battle. But the fleet did far more than 
wait. No statement of the Germans was 
more empty of truth than the silly cry that 
the British fleet lies "skulking in harbour for 
fear of submarines." The fleet was busy all 
the time. Again and again, a visible defiance, 
it swept by the mine sealed mouths of the 
German bases. For five years now, the fleet 
has been on a war footing prepared for instant 
action, a tremendous task this. "If they only 
had come out, the beggars." 

A day with the fleet in port passed casually 
and calmly enough. There was none of that 
melodrama which invests the war of the 
destroyer and the submarine, and human 
problems seemed to lack importance, for in 
the fleet man is somewhat shadowed by the 

157 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

immense force he has created. On board 
there were various drills, perhaps a general 
quarters practice drill that sends everybody 
scurrying to his station. Hour after hour, the 
visitor sees the continuous and multitudinous 
activity needed to keep a dreadnaught in 
shape as a fortress, an engine, and a ship. 
Then, when the evening has come, such oflScers 
as are off duty may sit down to a game 
of bridge or go to their rooms to read or study 
quietly. There are great days when kings and 
queens come aboard and are royally enter- 
tained. Twice a week the entertainment 
committee of the fleet sent round a steel 
box full of "movies." However, everybody 
enjoys them, and laughs. But it is good to 
escape on deck again, and see the squadron 
and the fleet beneath the haloed moon. 

The shores about are quite in darkness, 
though now and then a glow appears over 
the hidden dockyard as if some one there 
had opened a furnace door. A little breeze 
is blowing a thin, flat sheet of cloud across 
the moon; one can hear water slapping 
against the sides. The sailors on watch walk 
up and down the decks, shouldering their 

158 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

guns. In the light one might believe the 
basketry of the woven masts to be spun of 
delicate silver bars. Behind us ride the other 
vessels of the squadron, a row of dark, triangu- 
lar shapes. The great columnar guns, sealed 
with a brazen plug, seem mute and dead. 
The curtain of a hatchway parts, and a little 
group of officers come on deck to watch a 
squadron go to sea. One by one the vessels, 
battleships and attendant destroyers glide 
past us into the dark, and so swift and silent 
their motion is that they seem to be less 
self-propelled than drawn forward by some 
mysterious force dwelling far beyond in the 
moonlit sea. A slight hiss of cleaving water, 
the length of a hurrying grey fortress beneath 
the moon, and the last of the squadron 
vanishes down the roads. For a little time 
one may see the diminishing glares of blinker 
lights. Squadrons of various kinds are for- 
ever leaving a fleet base to go on mysterious 
errands, squadrons are ever returning home 
from the mystery and silence of the sea. 

A friend comes to tell me that we have been 
put on "short notice," and may leave at any 
instant. 

159 



XXIII 

TO SEA WITH THE FLEET 

ON THE morning of the day that the 
fleet went out, there was to be felt 
aboard that tensity which follows on 
a "short notice" warning. Officers rushed 
into the wardroom for a hasty cup of coffee 
and hurried back to their beloved engines; 
the bluejackets, too, knew that something 
was in the air. A visitor to the flagship 
will not have to study long the faces of his 
hosts to see that they are an exceptional 
lot of men. Whilst among the destroyers 
there is a good deal of the grey-eyed ram- 
you, damn-you type; on a battleship there 
is a union of the elements of thought and 
action which is very fine to see. Nor is the 
artist element lacking in many a countenance. 
I remember a chief engineer whose ability 
as an engineer was a word in the fleet; it 
was easy to see, when he took you through 
his marvellous engine room, that he enjoyed 

160 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

his labour as much for the wonder of the 
deHcacy, the power and the precision of his 
giant engines as he did for their mere mechani- 
cal side of pressures and horsepower. Nor 
shall I ever see a more perfect example of 
coordination and competence than a turret 
drill at which I was invited to assist. From 
the distinguished young executive to the 
lowest rated officer in "the steerage," every 
man brought to his task not only an expert's 
understanding of it, but a love of his work, 
which, I think it is Kipling that says it, is 
the most wonderful thing in all the world. 
The vessel was very much what Navy folk 
call a "happy ship." I must say the prospect 
of going out with the fleet and with such a 
wonderful crowd did not make me keenly 
miserable. "If they only would come out, 
ah, if ... !" 

"So we are still on an hour's notice," I 
said to one of my hosts in the hope of getting 
some information. 

"Yes, back again. At two o'clock this 
morning the time was extended, but after 
seven we were put back on short time once 
more." 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

"I suppose the time is always shifting and 
changing?" 

"Yes, indeed. You know w^e are always 
on an hour's notice. Pretty short, isn't it? 
You see we don't want the Germans to get 
away with anything if we can help it. Got 
to be ready to sail right down and smash them. 
Nobody knows just why the time changes 
come. Somebody knows something of course. 
Perhaps one of the British submarines on 
outpost duty off the German coast has seen 
something, and sent it along by w^ireless. 

I asked about the German watch on the 
British bases. 

"Subs. Everybody's doing it. I suppose 
that two or three are hanging off this coast 
all the time trying to get a squint at the 
fleet. It's what we call keeping a * periscope 
watch' . . . run by the naval intelligence. 
Little good anything they pick up about us 
does the Germans ! Safety first is their daring 
game. What they are itching to do is to 
pick off one of our patrol squadrons that's 
gone on a little prospecting toot all by itself. 
They'd try, I think, if they weren't mighty 
well aware that not a single ship of the crowd 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

that did the stunt would ever get back to 
the old home canal." 

Presently a sailor messenger arrived, stood 
to attention, saluted snappily, and presented 
a paper. The oflScer read and signed. 

"You're in luck," said he. "We are going 
out . . . due to leave in three hours. Whole 
fleet together, evidently. Something's on 
for sure. . . . Hope they're out." And off 
he hurried to his quarters. I saw "the 
exec." going from place to place taking a 
look at everything. Pretty soon the chaplain 
of the flagship, an officer to whose friendly 
welcome and thoughtful courtesy I am in 
real debt, came looking for me. 

"Come along," he cried, "you are missing 
the show. They're beginning to go out al- 
ready. You ought to be on deck," and seizing 
me by the arm, he rushed me energetically 
up a companionway to the world without. 
There I learned that the departure of the 
Grand Fleet was no simultaneous movement 
such as the start of an automobile convoy, 
but a kind of tremendous process occupying 
several hours. The scout vessels, were to go 
first, then the various classes of cruisers and 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

the destroyer flotillas with whom they acted 
in concert, last of all the squadrons of battle- 
ships. Our own sailing time was three hours 
distant and the outward movement had 
already begun. 

The day was a pleasant one, the sun was 
shining clear and a fresh salty breeze was 
blowing do^Ti the estuary. The oflScers, how- 
ever, shook their heads, talked of "low visi- 
bility," and pointed out that an invisible 
mist hung over the water, whose cumula- 
tive effect was not at all to their liking. 
First there went out a new variety of sub- 
marine, steam submarines of extraordinary 
size and speed; there followed a swift pro- 
cession of destroyers and lighter cruisers, 
many signalling with blinker and flag. The 
outgoing of the destroyers was a sight not 
to be forgotten, for more than anything else 
did it impress upon me the titanic character 
of the fleet. Destroyers passed one every fifty 
seconds for a space of many hours. You would 
hear a hiss, and a lean, low rapier of a vessel 
would pass within a hundred yards of the flag- 
ship and hurry on, rolling, into the waiting 
haze of the open sea, and as you watched this 

164 




Even a super-dreadnought is wet at times 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

first vessel leave your bow astern, you would 
hear another watery hiss prophetic of the 
following boat. On our own vessel all boats 
had long before been hoisted to their places; 
there were mysterious crashing noises, bugle 
calls, a deal of orderly action. Time passed; 
a long time full of movement and stir. The 
greater vessels began to go out, titans of 
heroic name. The Iron Duhe, Queen Elizabeth, 
Lion. A broad swirling road of water lay 
behind them as one by one they melted 
into that ever mysterious obscurity ahead. 
Then with a jar, and a torrent of crashing 
iron thunder dreadful as a disintegration of 
the universe itself, our own immense anchor 
chains rose from the water below, and the 
American flagship got under way. We looked 
with a meditative eye on the bare shores of 
the firth wondering what adventures we were 
to have before we saw them again. Behind 
us the mist gathered, ahead, it melted away. 
And thus we stood out to the open sea. 
Night came, starlit and cold. Just at sun- 
down one of the British ships destroyed a 
floating mine with gun fire. I sought infor- 
mation from an oflScer friend. 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

"What about the mine problem?" 

"Never bothers us a bit, though the 
Germans have planted mines everywhere. 
This North Sea is as full of them as a pudding 
is of plums." 

"Why is it then that the fleet doesn't 
lose ships when out on these expeditions?" 

"Because the British mine sweepers have 
done so bully a job." 

"But once you get beyond the swept chan- 
nels at the harbour mouths, what then?" 

"The mine-sweepers attend to the whole 
North Sea." 

"You mean to say that the Admiralty 
actually clears an ocean of mines?" 

"To all intents and purposes, yes. Haven't 
you read of naval skirmishes In the North 
Sea? They are always having them. Many 
of those skirmishes take place between patrol 
boats of ours and enemy patrols. Of course 
it's a task, but the British have done it. 
One of the most wonderful achievements of 
the war." 

"Suppose the Germans try to reach the 
British coast?" 

"They do their best to find the British path. 

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As a result, the Germans are always either 
bumping into their own mines or into ours. 
I feel pretty sure that their loss from mines 
has been quite heavy." 

"Where, then, are the German cruising 
grounds? Doesn't their fleet get out once in 
a while?" 

"Not to the outer sea. Once in a while 
they parade up the Danish coast, never going 
more than two or three hours from their 
base. Our steady game, of course, is to nab 
them when they are out, and cut off their 
retreat. If the weather had held good at 
Jutland, this would have been done. But 
the Germans now hardly ever venture out. 
Destroyers of theirs, based on the Belgian 
coast, try to mix things up in the Channel 
once or twice a year, but the fleet seems to 
stick pretty closely to dear old Kiel." 

"Any more information in regard to this 
present trip?" 

"Not a thing. It's always mysterious like 
this. Yet in twenty minutes we may be right 
in the thick of the world's greatest naval 
battle." 

The next morning I rose at dawn to see the 

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fleet emerge from the dark of night. A North 
Sea morning was at hand, cold, windy and 
clear. Now seas have their characters even 
as various areas of land, and there is as much 
difference between the North Sea and the 
Irish Sea as there is between a rocky New 
England pasture and a stretch of prairie. 
The shallow North Sea is In colour an honest 
salty, ocean green, and its surface is ever in 
motion; a sea without respite or rest. It has 
a franker, more masculine character than the 
beleaguered sea to the west with its mottlings 
of shadow and shoal and weaving, white- 
crested tide rips. A great armament, scouts, 
destroyers, and light cruisers had already 
passed over the edge of the world, and only 
a very thin haze revealed their presence. 
Miles ahead of us In a great lateral line, a 
number of great warships, vast triangular 
bulks, ploughed along side by side, then came 
the American squadron in a perpendicular line, 
each vessel escorted by destroyers. Behind 
us, immense, stately, formidable and dark, 
the second American ship followed down the 
broad river of our wake which flowed like 
liquid marble from the beat of the propellers. 

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And behind the American squadron lay other 
ships, and over the horizon the bows of more 
ships still were pointing to the mine-strewn 
German coast. The Grand Fleet line, eighty 
miles long, rode the sea, a symbol of power, 
an august and visible defiance. Standing 
beneath the forward turret, beside the muzzles 
of the titan guns, I felt that I had at last 
beheld the mightiest element of the war. 

Tightly wrapped in a navy great coat, the 
young officer whose guest I had been at 
turret drill w^alked up and do^\^l the deck 
watching the southeastern horizon. What 
eagerness lay in his eyes! If we only might 
then have heard a heavy detonation from 
over the edge of the dawn-illumined sky ! . . . 
All day long we cried our challenge over the 
sealed waters ahead. 

Were "they" out? To this day, I do not 
know. The ways of the fleet are mysterious. 
Certainly, none came forth to accept our 
gage of battle. A time passed, and we were 
in port again. We saw the vessels we had 
left behind, the supply ships, tugs, oil tenders, 
colliers ... all the servants of the fleet. 

Down in the wardroom, the tension relaxed. 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

The anchor chain rattled out; once more 
the universe seemed to part asunder. The 
mail had arrived, joyous event. Somebody 
put a roll of music into a rather passe player 
piano, and let loose an avalanche of horribly 
orderly chords. 

And all the time the Olympians were pre- 
paring, not the battle of the ages, but the 
Great Surrender! 



170 



XXIV 

"sky pilots" 

WE KNOW him as chaplain, the gobs 
use the good old term *'Sky Pilot," 
and the British call him "Padre." 
His task, no light one, is to look after the 
spiritual and moral welfare of some thousand 
sailor souls. He is general counsellor, friend 
in need, mender of broken hearts, counsel 
for the defence, censor, and show manager. 
Now he comes to the defence of seaman, first 
class, Billy Jones, whose frail bark of life has 
come to grief on the treacherous reef of the 
installment plan, and for whose misdemeanours 
a clamouring merchant is on deck threatening 
to "attach the ship." Now he is assuring the 
clergyman of the church on the hill that 2nd 
class petty oflBcer Edgar K. Lee (who is going 
to marry pretty little Norah Desmond) is 
not, as far as he knows, committing bigamy. 
They tell of a chaplain of the destroyer force 

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who, pestered beyond bearing by these de- 
mands that the American bridegroom be 
declared officially and stainlessly single, floored 
his tormentor by replying: "I've told you 
that as far as we know the man's unmarried. 
We can't give you any assurance more official. 
He may be bigamous, trigamous, quadruga- 
mous, or," here he paused for effect, "pentaga- 
mous, but I advise you to risk it." The land 
sky pilot is said to have collapsed. 

Aboard the flagship of the Grand Fleet, 
the chaplain of the vessel was my guide, coun- 
sellor, and friend. In the words of one of the 
sailors, "Our chaplain is a real feller." And 
indeed it would have been hard to find a 
better man for the task than this padre of ours 
with his young man's idealism, friendliness, 
and energy. In addition to his welfare work, 
he had his duties as a de-coder, and his spare 
time he spent tutoring several of the enlisted 
personnel who were about to take examina- 
tions for higher ratings. It is a great mistake, 
by the way, to imagine that a violent gulf 
lies between the commissioned officer and the 
enlisted man. One finds the higher officer 
only too glad to help the sailor advance, and 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

many times have they said to me, *' Don't 
write about us, write about the sailors; 
get to know them; get their story." On this 
particular ship many of the younger officers 
were, like the chaplain, giving up their spare 
time to help the ambitious men along. Corre- 
spondence school courses are great favourites 
in the Navy, and have undoubtedly helped 
many a sailor on to a responsible rating. 

Our flagship chaplain used to make several 
rounds of the ship every day, *' tours of wel- 
fare inspection," he used to call them humor- 
ously. Everywhere would he go, from ward- 
room to torpedo station, not neglecting an 
occasional visit to the boiler room. Friendly 
grins used to salute him on his passage; as 
the sailor said he was a "real feller." I often 
accompanied him on his rounds. WTien the 
tour was over, we would go to the chaplain's 
room for a quiet smoke and a good talk. 
The chaplain's room was always clean and 
quiet, and on the bookshelf, instead of weighty 
books on thermodynamics and navigation, 
were the pleasant kind of books one found in 
friendly houses over home. 

"Do you know," said the chaplain to me 

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one day, "you have landed here at an interest- 
ing time. There's very httle shore leave 
being given because it can't be given, and as 
a result the life of the ship is thrown back 
upon itself for all its amusements and social 
activities. What do you think of the morale 
here?" 

"I think it's very high," I answered. 
"The men seem very contented and keen. 
I've talked with a great many of them. How 
do you keep the morale up?" 

"Well, this ship has always been famous 
as a 'happy ship' " (here I ventured to say 
that any other condition would be impossible 
under the captain we had) "and when men 
get into the habit of working together good- 
naturedly, that habit is liable to stick. And 
I find the men sustained by the thought of 
active service. You may think it calm here, 
having just arrived from a destroyer base, 
but think of what it is over on the American 
coast." 

"Calm?" said I. "Don't put that down to 
me. The very idea of being with the Grand 
Fleet is thrilling. It's the experience of a 
lifetime. And let me tell you right from 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

personal experience that no sight of the land 
war can match the impressiveness and 
grandeur of the first view of the fleet." 

"I feel just as you do. The whole thing is a 
constant wonder. And some day the Germans 
may come out. Moreover, summer is now 
at hand, and we shall have a chance to use 
the deck more for sports. This long, raw, 
rainy winter doesn't permit much outdoor 
exercise. As soon as it gets warm, however, 
we shall have boxing matches on the deck 
between various members of the crew and the 
champions of the different ships. We have 
some good wrestlers, too. At present we are 
reduced to vaudeville competitions between 
our various vessels, and movies. I'm doing 
my best to get better movies. So we shan't 
fare badly after all." 

"When do you hold Sunday services?" 
"I have a service in the morning and 
another in the evening. Yes, I muster a pretty 
big congregation. But I'm afraid I've got 
to be going now, got to ram a little algebra 
into the head of one of the boys. See you 
at dinner." And our sky pilot was gone. 
May; good luck go with him, and good friends 

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be ever at hand to return him the friendliness 
he grants. 

They tell a story of a favourite chaplain 
who retired from the Navy to take charge 
of a parish on land. 

"Good-bye, sir," said one of the old salts 
to him, as he was leaving the ship. " Good-bye, 
sir. We'll all look to see you come back with 
a bishop's rating.'* 



176 



XXV 

IN THE WIRELESS ROOM 

I HAVEN'T the slightest idea where the 
wireless room is or how to find it. All 
that I remember is that some kind soul 
took me by the hand, led me through various 
passages and down several ladders, and landed 
me in a small compartment which I felt sure 
must have been hollowed out of the keel. 
The wireless room of a great ship is, by the 
way, a kind of holy of holies, and my visit to 
it more than an ordinary privilege. 

There are as many messages in the air 
these times as there were wasps in the orchard 
in boyhood days after one had thrown a large, 
carefully-selected stone into the big nest. 
Messages in all keys and tunes, messages in 
all the known languages, messages in the 
most baffling of codes. Now the operator 
picks up a merchantman asking for advice in 
English, this against all rules and regulations; 
a request once answered by a profane some- 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

body with "Use the code, you damned fool." 
At intervals the Eiffel Tower signals the time; 
listening to it, one seems to hear the clear, 
monotonous tick-tock of a giant pendulum. 
Now it is a British land station talking to a 
British squadron on watch in the North Sea, 
now the destroyers are at it, now one hears 
the great station at Wilhelmshaven sending 
out instructions to the submarine fleet in 
ambush off these isles. 

How strange it is to come here at midnight 
and hear the Germans talking! Germany 
has been so successfully cut off from contact 
with the civilization she assaulted that these 
communications have the air of being messages 
from Mars. There are times when the radio 
operator picks up frantic cries sent by one 
U-boat to another; I have before me as I 
write a record of such a call. It began at 2.14 
A.M., shortly after a certain submarine was 
depth-bombed by an American destroyer. 
First to be received was OLN's clear, insistent 
call for EXK and ZZN, probably the two 
nearest members of the U-boat fleet. Were 
they cries for help? Probably. Again and 
again the spark uttered its despairing message. 

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For some time there was no answer. The 
other two boats may have been submerged; 
quite possibly sunk. Then at 2.40 from 
far, far away came ADL calHng OLN. At 
2.45 OLN answered very faintly. A minute 
or two later, ADL tried and tried again to 
get either RXK and ZZN. But there was no 
answer. Was she trying to send them to the 
help of the stricken vessel.^ At 2.57 ADL 
tries for the hard pressed OLN, but no answer 
comes to her across the darkness of the sea. 

Night and day, a force of operators sit here 
taking down the messages, sending important 
ones directly to the chief officers, and letting 
unimportant ones accumulate in batches of 
four and five. The messages are written or 
tj'pewritten on a form in shape and make-up 
not unlike that of an ordinary telegram blank. 
All day and all night long, the messengers 
hurry through the corridors of the great ship 
with bundles of these naval signals. And 
since everything intended for the Navy comes 
in code, decoders too must be at hand at all 
hours to unravel the messages. It is no easy 
task, for the codes are changed for safety's 
sake every little while. On board the great 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

ship I visited, the chaplain did a big share of 
this work. I can see him now bent over his 
table in the wireless room, spelling out 
sentences far more complicated than the Latin 
and Greek of his university days. 

There is one wireless service which will not 
be remembered with affection by our sailors 
over there, the Government Wireless Press 
Service. I was in the Grand Fleet when that 
dashing business of the first Zeebrugge raid 
occurred. The ** Press News" on the follow- 
ing morning mentioned it, and warned us 
impressively to keep our knowledge to our- 
selves. As a result we spoke of it at break- 
fast time with bated breath. I myself, a 
modest person, was stricken with a sudden 
access of importance at possessing a Grand 
Fleet secret. 

Then at ten o'clock the morning papers 
came down from a certain great city with 
a full, detailed account of the raid ! 

The thing that we have most against it, 
however, is its conduct during the great offen- 
sive of the spring of 1918. The air was re- 
sounding with the wireless paeans of the 
on-rushing Germans; and everybody was 

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worried, and anxious to know the fortunes 
of our troops. One rushed to breakfast early 
to have first chance at the press news. Friends 
gathered behind one's shoulder, and tried 
to read before sitting down. TMiat's the news? 
What's the news? This (or something very 
like it) was the news: 

"Dr. Ostropantski, president of the Grseco- 
Lettlsh Diet, denounced yesterday at a meeting 
of the Novoe Vremya the German assault 
on the liberties of Beluchistan." 

There was one vast, concerted groan from 
the sons of the Grand Fleet. Some wondered 
what the anxious folk far out at sea on the 
destroyers were saying. Finally the wit of 
the table shook his head gravely. 

"Boys," said he, "where would we be if 
the civilians refused to tell?" 



181 



XXVI 

MARINES 

THIS paper does not deal with tlie 
marines fighting in France, but with 
the marines such as one finds them 
on the greater ships. The gallant "devil 
dogs" now adding fresh laurels to the corps 
have army correspondents to tell of them, 
for though they are trained by the Nav^^ and 
are the Navy's men, the Army has them now 
under its command. It is rather of the gen- 
uine marine, the true "soldier of the sea" that 
I would speak. Having been myself some- 
thing of a soldier and a sailor, the marines 
w^ere good enough to receive me in a friendly 
fashion when I was a guest on one of the battle- 
ships now on foreign service. 

Even as the traditional nickname for the 
sailor is "gob," so is "leatherneck" the 
seaman's traditional word for the marine. I 
am guileless enough not to know just how 
marines take this term, but if there is any 

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doubt, I advise readers to be easy with it, 
for marines will fight at the drop of a hat. 
All those aboard declared, by the way, that 
the antipathy between the sailor and the 
marine in which the public believes, does not 
exist, nor do the marines according to the 
popular notion "police the ship." The marine 
has his place; the sailor has his, and they do 
not mix, not because they dislike each other, 
but simply because the marine and the sailor 
are the products of two widely different sys- 
tems of training. Moreover, the marine is 
bound to his own people by an esprit de corps 
without equal m the world. It was very fine 
to see each man's anxiety that the corps should 
not merely have a good name, but the best 
of names. 

We swopped yarns. In return for my gory 
tales of shelled cities, gas attacks, and air 
raids, they gave me gorgeous . . . gorgeous 
tales of the little wars they have fought in 
the Caribbean. I realized for the first time 
just what it meant to Uncle Sam to be Central 
America's policeman. Now, as they spun 
their yarns, I could see the low, white buildings 
of a Consulate against the luminous West 

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Indian sky, the boats on the beach, the 
marines on patrol; now the sugar plantation 
menaced by some political robber-rebel, the 
little tents under the trees, the business-like 
machine gun. A harassed American planter 
is often the deux ex machina of these tales. 

We used to talk in a little office aboard 
the battleships down by the marines' quarters, 
which lie aft. I believe it was the sergeant's 
sanctum sanctorum. There were marine 
posters on the wall, a neat little stack of 
the marines' magazines handy by, a few books, 
and some filing cabinets. Just outside were 
the marine lockers, each one in the most per- 
fect order, and a gun breech used for loading 
drills. The sergeant, himself, was a fine, 
keen fellow who had been in the corps for some 
time. His men declared themselves, for the 
most part, city born and bred. 

"\Miat happened then?" 

"Just as soon as thej^ got the message, a 
detail was sent into the hills for the defence 
of the plantation. It was a big sugar plan- 
tation. The American manager was seeing 
red he was so peeved, the harvesting season 
had come and the help, scared by the insur- 

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gents, were beating It off into the hills. What's 
more, the insurgents had told the manager 
that if he didn't pony up with five thousand 
dollars by a certain date, they'd burn the 
place. Actually had the nerve . . ." 

"In fiction," said I, "a lean, dark, villainous 
fellow mounted on a magnificent horse which 
he has looted from some fine stable dashes 
up to the plantation door, delivers his threat 
in an icy tone and gallops back into the bush. 
Or else a message WTapped round a stone 
crashes through the window onto the family 
breakfast table. Which was it?" 

I think the marine telling the story wanted 
very much to utter: "How do you get that 
way?" however, he merely grinned and an- 
swered : 

"Neither. A big, fat greaser in a dirty, 
Palm Beach suit came ambling up one morning 
as if somebody had asked him to chow. This 
was his game. A holdup? Oh, no! Only 
his men were getting a bit restless under the 
neck, about five thousand dollars restless, and 
if they didn't get it, there's no telling what 
they wouldn't do. He thought he could 
restrain them till Tuesday night, of course 

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it would be a pretty stiff job to hold them in, 
but if something crisp and green hadn't 
shown up by Tuesday p.m., those devils 
might actually burn the plantation. Did 
you ever hear such a line of buU.^^ And that's 
the honest truth of it, too; none of this stone 
in the mashed potatoes guff." 

"And then," I broke in, "the faithful 
servant gallops through the valley to the shore; 
a stray bullet knocks off his hat, but he gets 
there, and delivers his message to the warship 
in the bay. A bugle blows, the marines rally, 
launches take them to the beach; they rush 
over the hills, and get to the plantation just 
as Devil' s-hoof Gomez or Pink-eyed Pedro 
has set fire to a corner of the bungalow. 
Rifles crack, bugles sound a charge, the 
marines rush the Gomez gang who take to 
their heels. Brave hearts put out the fire. 
Isn't there always an exquisitely beautiful 
sefiorita to be rescued.'^ There always is in 
the movies. Now, please don't destroy any 
more of my illusions." 

"The message comes all right, all right, 
but I doubt very much if that faithful servant 
comes in a hurry. Down there, if a man goes 

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by in a hurry, everybody in the village will be 
out to look at him. . . . The major gets 
the message, works out his plan of campaign, 
and away we go. Arrived at the plantation, 
we pitch camp, establish pickets, and gener- 
ally get things ready to give the restless 
greasers a hot time. Sometimes the greasers 
try their luck at sniping; other times, they 
go away quietly and don't give you a bit of 
trouble. There aren't any beautiful senoritas, 
... no broken hearts. Yes, it's tough 
luck." 

Thus were my illusions dispelled by a 
group of Uncle Sam's marines. They forgot 
to tell me that many members of their little 
company had been wounded, and seriously 
wounded in these West Indian shindies. The 
list of wounds and honours in the records 
was an impressive roll. 

The visitor aboard a warship will see 
marines acting as orderlies and corporals of 
the guard and manning the secondary batter- 
ies. I attended many of their drills, and 
never shall forget the snap and "pep," of the 
evolutions. Nor shall I forget the courtesies 
and friendty help of the gallant officer under 

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whose command these soldiers of the sea 
have the good luck to be stationed. 

N.B. (Very secret), to Huns only. The 
marines man the gun in the "Exec's" oflSce 
and the corresponding one in the line oflficers' 
reading room. If you want to get home to 
the old home canal, . . . keep away from 
their range. 



188 



XXVII 

SHIPS OF THE AIR 

AFTER I had been to visit several of 
the bases, I returned to London, and 
called at the Navy headquarters. A 
young officer of the admiral's staff who was 
always ready and willing to help the writers 
assigned to the Navy in every possible way, 
came down to talk with me. *'IIad I been 
to Base X? To Base Y? Had I been to see 
the American submarines? The Naval Avia- 
tion?" I grasped at the last phrase. 

"Tell me about it," I said. "I had no idea 
that the sea flyers were over here. Last fall 
the streets of Boston were so thick with boys 
of that service that you could hardly move 
round. And • now they are on this side. 
Where can I find them?" 

The officer drew me to a large scale map of 
the British Isles and the French coast which 
hung on the wall, plentifully jabbed with 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

little flags. His finger fairly flew from one 
dot to another. 

"Well," said he, *'we have a station here, 
another station here, another station there, 
. . . there's a station on this point of land; 
right about here we're putting up buildings 
for a depot but there is nobody at hand yet, 
here's a big station. ..." I believe that 
he could have continued for five minutes. 

"You seem to have a big affair well in 
hand," I suggested, rather surprised. 

"No," he corrected, "just beginning. The 
department scheme for the naval aviation 
service is one of the big things of the war. 
It's so big, so comprehensive that people over 
there haven't woken up to it yet. Aren't 
you going to Base L next week? Why don't 
you go down the coast a few miles and see the 
outfit at Z.^ Only don't forget that we've 
*just begun to fight.' Come upstairs and 
let me give you a letter." A few days later 
I ran down to see the aviators in their eyrie. 

The naval station lay in a sheltered cove 
hidden away in a green and ragged coast. 
Landing at a somewhat tumble-down old 
pier, I saw ahead of me a gentle slope descend- 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

ing to a broad beach of shingle. Mid-way 
along this beach, ending under the water, 
was to be seen a wide concrete runway which 
I judged to be but newly finished, for empty 
barrels of cement and gravel separators stood 
nearby. At the top of the slope, in a great 
field behind mossy trees, lay the corrugated 
iron dormitories of a vast, deserted camp once 
the repose quarters of a famous fighting 
regiment. There was something of the at- 
mosphere of an abandoned picnic ground to 
the place. Sailor sentries stood at the entrance 
of the quiet roads leading to the empty 
barracks, and directed me to those in author- 

ity. 

The naval aviation is a new service. For 
a long time the uniform of the cadets was so 
unfamiliar that even in their own America the 
boys used to be taken for foreign officers. 
It was a case of *'I say he's an Italian. No, 
dear, I'm sure he's a Belgian." A not unnat- 
ural mistake, for the uniform has a certain 
foreign jauntiness. In colour, it is almost 
an olive green, and consists of a short, high- 
collared tunic cut snugly to the figure, shaped 
breeches of the riding pattern, and putties to 

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match. Add the ensign's soHtary stripe and 
star on shoulder and sleeve and you have it. 

I found a group of the flyers in one of the 
tin barracks that did duty as a kind of recrea- 
tion centre. The spokesman of the party 
was a serious lad from Boston. 

"Fire away," they yelled good-naturedly 
to my announcement that I was going to 
bomb with questions. 

"First of all, about how many of you are 
there helping to make it home-like for Fritz 
in this amiable spot?" 

"About fifty of us." 

"Been here long?" 

"No, just came. You see the station is not 
really finished yet, but they are hurrying it 
along to beat the cars. Did you spot that 
concrete runway as you came up? A daisy, 
isn't it? Slope just right, and no skimping 
on the width. Well, that's only one of the 
runways we're going to have. Over on the 
other side, the plans call for three or four 
more." 

"And what do these sailors do?" I had 
noticed a large number of sailors about. 

"They look after our machines and the 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

balloons. You see this is a regular aviation 
section just the same as the army has, and the 
sailors are trained mechanics, repair men, 
clerks and so forth. They're rather taking 
it easy now because the planes have been 
somewhat slow in reaching us. You know 
as well as I do the rumpus that's been made 
in the States over the air program. Things are 
breezing up mighty fast now, however, and 
every supply ship that puts into the harbour 
brings some of our equipment. The Navy's 
ready, the camps are being organized, the men 
are trained; it's up to the manufacturers to 
hustle along our machines. Please try to 
make them realize that when you write." 

"But, say," put in another, "don't, for the 
love of Pete, run away with the idea that we 
haven't any equipment. We've got some 
planes and some balloons. But we want more, 
more, more. Anything to keep the Germans 
on the go." 

"What do you use?" I asked. "Mostly 
balloons," put in a third speaker, a quiet 
young Westerner who had thus far not joined 
in the conversation. "Most of us' are balloon 
observers, though Jos here," he indicated the 

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Bostonian, "is a sea-plane artist. He runs 
one of the planes." 

"Come," said I, "tell the thrilling story." 
"There isn't any story," groaned Jos, 
"that's just the trouble. I've been fooling 
round these coasts and out by the harbour 
mouth in the hope of spotting a sub till I feel 
as if I'd used up all the gasoline in the British 
Isles. Those destroyers have spilled the 
beans. Fritz doesn't dare to come round. 
Ever try fishing in a place from which the 
fish have been thoroughly scared away.'^ It's 
like that. Mine laying submarines used to 
be round the mouth of the harbour all the time, 
now Fritz is never seen or heard from. . . . 
The destroyers have spilled the beans. The 
balloon hounds are the whole show here. 
Tell him about it, Mac. You've taken more 
trips than any of the others." The disgruntled 
sea planer knocked a bull-dog pipe on his 
shoe, and was still. 

"I can't tell much," drawled Mac, a wiry, 
black little Southerner with a wonderful 
accent. "They fill the balloon up here, take 
it out to a destroyer or some patrol boat 
and tie it on, jes like a can to purp's tail. 

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Then you go out in the Irish Sea and watch 
for subs. If you observe anything that looks 
like a Hun, you simply telephone it down to 
the destroyer's deck, and she rushes ahead and 
investigates. Sometimes the observer in the 
balloon sees something which can't be seen 
from the level of the destroyer's bridge, and 
in that case the balloonist practically steers 
the vessel, ... so many points to port, 
so many to starboard, and so on till you land 
them in the suspected area." 

"What's it like up above there In a balloon.'* 
From the deck of a battleship or a destroyer, 
it seems to be a calm matter." 

"Don't be too sure of that. I know it 
looks calm, calm as a regular up-in-the-air 
old feather baid. And it isn't bad if you have 
a decent wind with which the course and speed 
of the ship are in some sort of an agreement. 
But if the ship's course lies in one direction and 
the wind is blowing from another, the balloon 
blows all over the place. When the wind 
blows from behind, you float on ahead and 
try to pull the ship after you; if the wind is 
from ahead, you are dragged along at the 
end of a chain like a mean dawg. There is 

195 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

always sure to be a party if the ship zigzags. 
Now you are pulling towards the bow, 
now you are floating serenely to port, now you 
are tugging behind, now you are nowhere 
in particular and apparently standing on yo' 
haid." 

We went to walk in the grounds. I was 
shown where the balloon shed was to be, the 
generators, and a dozen other houses. Evi- 
dently the station was going to be "some 
outfit." Already a big gang of civilian labour- 
ers, electrified by American energy, were 
hard at work laying the foundations of a large 
structure. 

"Yes," said one of the boys, "this is going 
to be a great place. TOien it's completed 
we shall have regular sea-plane patrols of this 
entire coast, and a balloon squadron ready 
to cooperate with either the British or the 
American destroyer fleets. Our boys along 
the French coast have already made it hot 
for some Huns, and believe me, if there are 
any subs left, you just bet we want a chance 
at 'em?" 

Such is the spirit that has driven the Ger- 
mans from the seas. 

196 



XXVIII 

THE SAILOR IN LONDON 

THE convalescent English Tommy in 
his sky-blue flannel suit, white shirt, 
and orange four-in-hand, the heavier, 
tropic-bred Australian with his hat brim 
knocked jauntily up to one side, the dark, 
grey-eyed Scotch highlander very braw and 
bony in his plaited kilt, these be picturesque 
figures on the streets of London, but the most 
picturesque of all is our own American tar. 
Our "gobs" are always so spruce and clean, 
and so young, young with their own youth 
and the youth of the nation. Jack ashore is 
to be found at the Abbey at almost any hour 
of the day, he wanders into the National 
Gallery, and stands before Nelson at St. 
Paul's; he causes fair hearts to break asunder 
at Hampton Court. Wherever you go in 
London, the wonderful wide trousers, and the 
good old pancake hat, this last worn cockly 
over one eye, are always to be seen in what 

197 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

nautical writers of the Victorian school call 
"the offing." 

Our boys come in liberty parties of thirty 
and forty from the various bases, usually 
under the wing of a chief petty officer very 
conscious of his responsibility for these wild 
sailor souls. Accommodations are taken either 
at a good London hotel with which the 
authorities have some arrangement, or the 
personnel is distributed among various huts 
and hospitable dwellings. The great rallying 
centre is sure to be the Eagle Hut off the 
Strand. 

This famous hut, which every soldier or 
sailor who visits London will long remember, 
is situated, by a happy coincidence, in modern 
London's most New Yorkish area. It stands, 
a huddle of low, inconspicuous buildings, 
in just such a raw open space between three 
streets as on this side prefigures the building 
of a new skyscraper; the great, modern mass 
of Australia House lifts its imposing Beaux 
Arts fagade a little distance above it, whilst 
the front of a fashionable hotel rises against 
the sky just beyond. The ragged island, the 
sense of open space, the fine high buildings, 

198 



FULL SPEED AHEAD i 

. . . "say, wouldn't you think you were back i 
in America again?" Yet only a few hundred ] 
feet down the Strand, old St. Clement Danes \ 
lies like a ship of stone anchored in the thor- \ 
oughfare, and Samuel Johnson, LL.D., stands | 
bareheaded in the sun wondering what has j 
happened to the world. The hut within 
is simply an agglomeration of big, clean, rec- | 
tangular spaces, reading rooms, living rooms, ! 
dormitories, and baths always full of husky, { 
pink figures, steam and the smell of soap. | 
Physically, Eagle hut is merely the larger coun- 
terpart of some thousand others. The wonder , 
of the place is its atmosphere. The narrow | 
threshold might be three thousand miles j 
in width, for cross it, and you will find your- I 
self in America. All the dear, distinctive ! 
national things for which your soul and body 
have hungered and thirsted are gathered here. \ 
There is actually an American shoe shining j 
stand, an American barber chair, and. Heaven j 
be praised, "good American grub." It is a | 
sight to see the long counter thronged with j 
the eager, hungry bluejackets, to hear the i 
buzz of lively conversation carried on in the ; 
pervading aroma of fried eggs, favourite dish 

199 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

or sandwich of apparently every doughboy 
and tar. One's admiration grows for the Y. 
workers who keep at the weary grind of 
washing floors, picking up stray cigarette 
buts, and washing innumerable eggy plates. 
I realized to the full what a poor old college 
professor who *' helped" in a hut on the French 
front meant when he had said to me, "life 
is just one damned egg after another." Of 
course sometimes the "hen fruit" — one hears 
all kinds of facetious aliases at the Hut — gives 
way to soi disant buckwheat cakes, a dainty, 
lately honoured by royal attention. Should you 
stroll about the buildings, you will see sailors 
and soldiers reading in good, comfortable chairs ; 
some playing various games, others sitting 
in quiet corners writing letters home. There 
is inevitably a crowd round the information 
bureau. Alas, for the poor human encyclo- 
pedia, he lives a bewildering life. On the 
morning that I called he had been asked to 
supply the address of a goat farm by a quarter- 
master charged with the buying of a mascot, 
and he was just recovering from this when a 
sailor from the Grand Fleet demanded a 
complete and careful resume of the British 

200 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

marriage regulations! Everybody seems 
cheerful and contented; the officials are atten- 
tive and kind; the guests good-natured and 
well-behaved. 

Such is the combination of club, restaurant, 
and hotel to which our Jack resorts. And 
there he lives content in his islet of America, 
while London roars about him. During the 
week, he wanders, as he says himself, "all 
over the place.'* 

The good time ends with the Saturday 
ball game. Everybody goes. Posters an- 
nounce it through London in large black type 
on yellow paper. "U. S. Army vs. U. S. 
Navy." The field is most American looking; 
the "bleachers" might be those in any great 
American town. The great game, the game 
to remember, was played in the presence of 
the king. The day was a good one, though 
now and then obscured with clouds; a 
strangely mixed audience was at hand, wound- 
ed Tommies, American soldiers speaking in 
all the tongues of all the forty-eight states, 
a number of American civilians from the 
embassy and the London colony, groups of 
dignified staff officers from the army and the 

201 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

navy headquarters, and even a decorous group 
of Britons dressed in the formal garments 
which are de rigueur in England at any high- 
class sporting event. Then in came the king 
walking ahead of his retinue, ... a man of 
medium height with a most kind and chiv- 
alrous face. Our admiral walked beside 
him. The band played, eager eyes looked 
do^vn, the king, looking up, smiled, and 
won the good-will of every friendly young 
heart. A few minutes later, the noise broke 
forth again, "Oh you Army!" "Oh you 
Navy,'* a hullaballoo that culminated in a 
roar, "Play Ball!" 

The Navy men, wearing uniforms of blue 
with red stripes, walked out first, closely 
followed by the army in uniforms of grey- 
green. The admiral, towering straight and 
tall above his entourage, threw the ball. A 
pandemonium of yells broke forth. "Now's 
the time, give it to 'em, boys, soak it to 'em, 
soak it to 'em, steady Army, give him a can, 
run Smithie!" In a corner by themselves, a 
group of bluejackets made a fearful noise 
with some kind of whirligig rattles. Songs 
rose in spots from the audience, collided with 

30^ 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

other songs, and melted away in indistinguish- 
able tunes. British Tommies looked on 
phlegmatically, enjoying it all just the same. 
There were stray, mocking cat calls. It w^as 
a real effort to bring one's seK back to London, 
old London of decorous cricket, tea, and white 
flannels. 

And of course, the Navy won. Over the 
heads of the vanishing crowd floated, 

Give 'em the axe, the axe, the axe, 

Where? Where? Where? 
Right in the neck, the neck, the neck. 

There! There! There! 
Who gets the axe? 

ARMY 

Who says so ! 

NAVY 

It ends with a roar. 

Then there is a celebration, and the next 
morning, his holiday over, Jack is rounded 
up, and put into a railway carriage. The 
roofs of London die away, and Jack, dozing 
over his magazines, sees in a dream the great 
grey shapes of the battleships that wait for 
him in the endless northern rain. 



203 



XXIX 

THE ARMED GUARD 

WHEN the Germans began to sink 
our unarmed merchant vessels, and 
denounced that they intended to 
continue that course of action, it was imme- 
diately seen that the only possible military 
answer to this infamous policy lay in arming 
every ship. There were obstacles, however, 
to this defensive programme. We were at 
the time engaged in what was essentially a 
legal controversy with the Germans, a con- 
troversy in which the case of America and 
civilization was stated with a clarity, a sin- 
cerity, and a spirit of idealism which perhaps 
only the future can justly appreciate. We 
could not afford to weaken our case by involv- 
ing in doubt the legal status of the merchant- 
man. The enemy, driven brilliantly point 
by point from the pseudo-legal defences of 
an outrageous campaign, had taken refuge in 
quibbling, "the ship was armed," "a gun was 

204 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

seen," "such vessels must be considered as 
war vessels." We all know the sorry story. 
For a while, our hands were tied. Then came 
our declaration of war which left our Navy 
free to take protective measures. The mer- 
chantmen were fitted with guns, and given 
crews of Navy gunners. This service, devoted 
to the protection of the merchant ship, was 
known as the Armed Guard. 

It was not long before tanker and tramp, 
big merchantman and grimy collier sailed 
from our ports fully equipped. Vessels whose 
helplessness before the submarine had been 
extreme, the helplessness of a wretched spar- 
row gripped in the talons of a hawk, became 
fighting units which the submarine encoun- 
tered at her peril. Moreover, finding it no longer 
easy to sink ships with gunfire, the submarines 
were forced to make greater use of their 
torpedoes, and this in turn compelled them to 
attempt at frequent intervals the highly 
dangerous voyage to the German bases on 
the Belgian coast. Sometimes the gun crews 
were British; sometimes American. The co- 
operation between the two Navies was at 
once friendly and scientific. 

205 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

The guns with which the vessels were 
equipped were of the best, and the gun crews 
were recruited from the trained person- 
nel of the fleet. One occasionally hears, 
aboard the greater vessels, lamentations for 
gunners who have been sent on to the Guard. 
These crews consisted of some half-dozen men 
usually under the command of a chief petty 
officer. A splendid record, theirs. They 
have been in action time and time again 
against the Germans, and have destroyed sub- 
marines. There is many a fine tale in the 
records of crews who kept up the battle till the 
tilt of their sinking vessel made the firing of 
the gun an Impossibility. So far, the gunners 
on the merchant ships have come in for the 
lion's share of attention. But there is another 
and important side of the Armed Guard service 
which has not yet, I believe, been called to 
the public notice. I mean the work of the 
signal men of the Guard. 

The arming of the merchant ships was the 
first defensive measure to be adopted; the 
second, the gathering of merchantmen into 
escorted groups knov/n as convoys. Now 
a convoy has before it several definite prob- 

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FULL SPEED AHEAD 

lems. If it was to make the most of its chances 
of getting through the German ambush, it 
must act as a well coordinated naval unit, 
obeying orders, answering signals, and per- 
forming designated evolutions in the manner 
of a battleship squadron. For instance, con- 
voys follow certain zigzag plans, prepared 
in advance by naval experts. Frequently 
these schemes are changed at sea. Now if 
all the vessels change from plan X to plan Y 
simultaneously, all will go well, but if some 
delay, there is certain to be a most dangerous 
confusion, perhaps a collision. It is no easy 
task to keep twenty or so boats zigzagging 
in convoy formation, and travelling in a gen- 
eral direction eastward at the same time. 
Merchant captains have had to accustom 
themselves to these strict orders, no easy 
task for some old-fashioned masters; merchant 
crews have had to be educated to the disci- 
pline and method of naval crews. Moreover, 
there have been occasional foreign vessels 
to deal with, and the problem presented by a 
foreign personnel. In order, therefore, to 
assure that communication between the guide 
ship of the convoy and its attendant vessels 

£07 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

which is, in the true sense of an abused word, 
vital to the success of the expedition, the 
Navy placed one of its keenest signalmen on 
the vessels which required one. He was there 
to give and to send signals, by flag, by inter- 
national flag code, by "blinker" and by 
semaphore. The wireless was used as little 
as possible between the various vessels of 
the merchant fleet, indeed, practically not 
at all. 

The system of signalling by holding two 
flags at various angles is fairly familiar since 
a number of organizations began to teach it, 
and the semaphore system is the same system 
carried into action by two mechanical arms. 
The method called "Blinker" has a Morse 
alphabet, and is sent by exposing and shutting 
off a light, the shorter exposures being the dots, 
the longer exposures, the dashes. Sometimes 
"blinker" is sent by the ship's search light, 
a number of horizontal shutters attached to 
one perpendicular rod serving to open and 
close the light aperture. One used to see 
the same scheme on the lower halves of old- 
fashioned window blinds. The international 
flag code is perhaps the hardest signal system 

208 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

to remember. It requires not only what a 
naval friend calls a good "brute" memory, 
but also a good visual memory. Many have 
seen the flags, gay pieces of various striped, 
patched, chequered, and dotted bunting remi- 
niscent of a Tokio street fair. The signalman 
must learn the flag alphabet, committing to 
memory the colours and their geometric 
arrangement; he must also learn the special 
signification of each particular letter. For in- 
stance, one letter of the alphabet stands for 
"I wish to communicate"; there are also 
numbers to remember, phrases, and sentences. 
If a signalman cares to specialize, he can study 
certain minor systems, for instance the one in 
which a dot and a dash are symbolized by differ- 
ent coloured lights. A signalman must have a 
good eye, a quick brain, and a good memory. 
It is a feat in itself to remember what one has 
already received while continuing to receive 
a long, perhaps complicated message. Be- 
cause of these intellectual requirements, you 
will find among the signalmen some of the 
cleverest lads in the Navy. "Giles" such a 
lad, "Idaho," another, and "Pop" was 
always "on the job." 

209 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

The Guard has its barracks in a great 
American port. One saw there the men being 
sorted out, equipped for their special service, 
and assigned to their posts. A fine lot of 
real seafaring youngsters, tanned almost 
black. The Navy looked after them in a splen- 
did fashion. Said one of the boys to me, 
"If I had only known what a wonderful 
place the Navy was, I'd been in it long ago." 
The boys were sent over in the merchant 
ships, were cleanly lodged in excellent hotels 
once they got to land, and were then sent 
back on various liners. The Armed Guard 
was a real seafaring service, and its men 
one and all were touched by the romance 
and mystery of the sea. They fell in w^ith 
strange old tramps hurried from the East, 
they broke bread with strange crews, they 
beheld the sea in the sullen wrath it cherishes 
beneath the winter skies. One and all they 
have stood by their guns, one and all stood 
by their tasks, good, sturdy, American lads, 
gentlemen unafraid. 



210 



XXX 

GOING ABOARD 

GILES, who had just been sent to the 
Armed Guard from the fleet, was 
waiting for orders in a room at the 
naval barracks. It was early in the spring, 
the sun shone renewed and clear; a hurdy 
gurdy sounded far, far away. The big 
room was clean, clean with that hard, orderly 
tidiness which marks the habitations of men 
under military rule. A number of sailors, 
likewise waiting for their orders, stood about. 
There was a genuine sea-going quality in 
the tanned, eager young faces. The conver- 
sation dealt with their journeys, with the ships, 
with the men, the life aboard, the furloughs 
in London. "Bunch of Danes . . . good 
eats . . . chucked Bill right out of his bunk 
. . . regular peach . . . saw Jeff at the Eagle 
Hut . . ." 

Presently a bosun entered. A man some- 
where in the thirties, brisk and athletic. One 
could see him counting the assembled sailors 

211 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

as he came, the numbers forming on his 
soundless lips. The talk died away. 

"How many men here?" said the bosun 
abruptly. 

Several of the sailors began counting. 
There was much turning round, a deal of 
whispered estimations. Every one appeared 
to be looking at everybody else. Finally a 
deep voice from a corner said: 

"Thirty-five." 

"Any one down for leave?" 

Some half dozen, members of a gun crew 
just home from a long journey, called out 
that leave had been given them. 

"Anybody on sick list?" 

There was no answer. In the ensuing 
silence, the bosun checked off the answers 
on his list. 

"I suppose you all want to go out." 

"Sure!" 

"Get in line." The bosun backed aw^ay, 
and looked with an official eye at the sturdy 
group. 

"All here, pack up and stand by. At 
eleven o'clock have all your baggage at the 
drill office. I'll send a man up to get the mail." 

212 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

The line broke up, keen for the coming 
adventure. Giles, the signalman, walked at a 
brisk pace to his quarters. . . You would 
have seen a lad of about twenty-two years 
of age, between medium height and tall, and 
unusually well built. Some years of wrestling 
— ^he had won distinction in this sport at 
school — had given him a tremendously power- 
ful neck and chest, but with all the strength 
there was no suggestion of beefiness. The 
friendliest of brown eyes shone in the clean- 
cut, handsome head, he had a delightful smile, 
always a sign of good breeding. In habit he 
was industrious and persevering, in manner of 
life clean and true beyond reproach. Giles is 
an American sailor lad, a real gob, and I have 
described him at some length because of this 
same reality. The sooner we get to know our 
sailors the better. 

Back in his quarters, he busied himself with 
packing his bag. Now packing one of those 
cylindrical bags is an art in itself. First of 
all, each garment must be folded or rolled 
in a certain way, the sleeve in this manner, 
the collar in that (it is all patiently taught 
at training stations) then the articles them- 

213 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

selves must be placed within the bag in an 
orderly arrangement, and last of all, toilet 
articles and such gear must be stowed within 
convenient reach. A clean smell of freshly 
washed clothes and good, yellow, kitchen soap 
rose from the tidy bundles. In went an extra 
suit — "those trousers are real broadcloth, 
don't get 'em nowadays, none of that bum 
serge they're trying to wish on you," a packet 
of underwear tied and knotted with wonder- 
ful sailor knots, and last of all handkerchiefs, 
soap, and other minor impedimenta done up 
in blue and red bandanna handkerchiefs. 
You simply put the articles on the handker- 
chiefs and knot the four corners neatly over 
the top. There you have the sailor. Only at 
sea does one realize to what an extent the 
bandanna kandkerchief is a boon to mankind. 
When the bag was packed, it was a triumph of 
industry and skill. Shouldering it, the sailor 
walked to the drill office. He was early. A 
good substantial luncheon had been prepared. 
There were plates of hearty sandwiches. 
Just before noon, a fleet of "buses" took 
them to the pier. 
The day was clear but none too warm, and 

214 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

great buffeting salvos of dust-laden wind 
blew across the befouled and busy waters of 
the port. A young, almost boyish ensign 
gave each man his final orders, and a kind of 
identification slip for their captains. The 
sailors of the Guard, wearing reefers and with 
round hats jammed tightly on their heads, 
stood backed against a wind that curled the 
wide ends of their blue trousers close about 
their ankles. Presently, grimy, hot, and 
pouring out coils of brownish, choking smoke, 
a big ocean-going tug glided over to the wharf 
and took them aboard. Then bells ran, 
the propeller churned, and the tug turned her 
corded nose down the bay. The convoy lay 
at anchor at the very mouth of the roads. 
A miscellaneous lot of vessels, mostly of 
British registration; some new, some very, 
very old. The pick of the group was a fine 
large vessel with an outlandish Maori name; 
Giles heard later that she had just been 
brought over from New Zealand. The inevi- 
table grimy-decked tankers and ammoniacal 
mule boat completed the lot. An American 
cruiser lay at the very head of the line, men 
could be seen moving about on her, and there 

215 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

was much washing flapping in the wind. The 
tug went from vessel to vessel, landing a signal- 
man here, a gun crew there. One by one 
the lads clambered aboard to shouts of "See 
you later," and "Soak 'em one for me." 
Giles was almost the last man left aboard the 
tug. Presently he darted off busily to a 
clean little tramp camouflaged in tones of pink, 
grey, and rusty black. The tug slid alongside 
caressingly. There were more bells; a noise 
of churning of water. Over the side of the 
greater vessel leaned a number of the crew, 
a casual curiosity in their eyes. Seafaring 
men in dingy jerseys opening at the throat 
and showing hairy chests. A putty-faced 
ship's boy watched the show a little to one 
side. Presently an officer of the ship, young, 
deep-chested and with a freshly-healed, puck- 
ering, star-shaped wound at the left hand 
corner of his mouth, came briskly down the 
deck and stood by the head of the ladder. 

Giles caught up his bag, clambered aboard, 
and reported. The oflScer brought him to the 
captain. Then when the formalities were over, 
the second mate took him in charge, and 
assigned the lad his quarters and his watches. 

216 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

The convoy set sail the next mornirg just 
as a pale, cold, and unutterably laggard dawn 
rose over a sea stretching, vast and empty, 
to the clearly marked line of a distant and 
leaden horizon. The escorting cruiser, flying 
a number of flags, was the first to get under 
way; and behind her followed the merchant- 
men in their allotted positions, each ship 
flying its position flag. 

Giles watched the departure from the 
bridge. Behind him the vast city rose silent 
above the harbour mist; ahead, rich in promise 
of adventure and romance, lay the great plain 
of the dark, the inhospitable, the unsullied, the 
heroic sea. 



217 



XXXI 

GRAIN 

THIS is "Idaho's" story. He told it to 
me when I met him coming home early 
this summer. We were crossing in a 
worthy old transatlantic which has since gone 
to the bottom, and Idaho, at his ease in the 
deserted smoking room, unfolded the adven- 
ture. "Idaho, U. S. N.," we called him that 
aboard, is a very real personage. I think he 
told me that he was eighteen years old, me- 
dium height, solidly built, wholesome look- 
ing. The leading characteristic of the young, 
open countenance is intelligence, an intelli- 
gence that has grown of itself behind those 
clear grey eyes, not a power that has grown 
from premature contact with the world. 
Until he joined the Navy, I imagine that 
Idaho knew little of the world beyond his own 
magnificent West. I consider him very well 
educated; he declares that preferring life on 
his father's ranch to knowledge, he cut high 

218 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

school after the second year. He is a great 
reader, and likes good, stirring poetry. He is 
an idealist, and stands by his ideals with a 
fervour which only youth possesses. And I 
ought to add that Idaho, in the words of one 
of his friends, is "one first-class signalman." 
This is Idaho's story, pieced together from his 
own recital, and from a handful of his letters. 
The crowd aboard the naval tug was so 
festive that morning, and there was such a 
lot of scuffling, punching, imitation boxing 
and jollying generally that Idaho did not see 
the vessel to which he had been assigned till 
the tug was close alongside. Then, hearing 
his name called out, the lad caught up his 
baggage, and walked on into the open side of 
a vast, disreputable tramp. The lad later 
learned that she had been brought from some- 
where in the China Sea. The Sehastopoly 
Heaven knows where she originally got the 
name, was a ship that had served her term 
in the west, had grown old and out of date, 
and then been purchased by some Oriental 
firm. Out there, she had carried on, always 
seaworthy in an old-fashioned way, always 
excessively dirty, always a day over due. 

219 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

When the submarine had made ships worth 
their weight in silver, the Sebastopol must have 
been almost on the point of giving up the 
ghost. Presently, the war brought the old 
ship back to England again. Her return to 
an English harbour must have resembled the 
return of a disreputable relative to an anxious 
family. And in England, in some tremen- 
dously busy shipyard, they had patched her 
up, added a modern electrical equipment and 
even gone to the length of new boilers. But 
her engines they had merely tuned up, and 
as for her ancient hull, that they had dedi- 
cated to the mercy of the gods of the sea. 

Once aboard, and assigned to his station 
and watches, the lad had leisure to look over 
his companions. The Sebastopol carried a 
crew from Liverpool, and was officered by 
three Englishmen and a little Welsh third 
mate. The Captain, a first mate of many 
years' experience, to whom the war had given 
the chance of a ship, was in the forties; tall 
and with a thin, stern mouth under a heavy 
brown moustache; the first mate was a mere 
youngster: the second, a middle-aged volun- 
teer, the third, an undersized, excitable Celt 

^20 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

with grey eyes and coal black hair touched 
with snow white above the ears. The Welsh- 
man took a liking for Idaho; used to ques- 
tion him in regard to the West, being espe- 
cially keen to know about "opportunities 
there after the w^ar." He had a brother in 
Wales whom he thought might share in a farm- 
ing venture. Of the captain the lad saw very 
little; and the first mate was somewhat on 
his dignity. Practically every man of the 
crew had been torpedoed at least once, many 
had been injured, and had scars to exhibit. 
All had picturesque tales to tell, the grue- 
somest ones being the favourites. The best 
narrator was a fireman from London, a man 
of thirty with a lean chest and grotesquely 
strong arms; he would sit on the edge of a 
bunk or a chair and tell of sudden thundering 
crashes, of the roaring of steam, of bodies 
lying on the deck over which one tripped as 
one ran, of water pouring into engine rooms, 
and of boilers suddenly vomiting masses of 
white hot coal upon dazed and scalded stok- 
ers. It was the melodrama of below the w^ater 
line. Then for days the narratot would keep 
silent, troubled by a pain in one of his frag- 

221 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

mentary teeth. All the men kept their few 
belongings tied in a bundle, ready to seize the 
instant trouble was at hand. The cook com- 
plained to Idaho that he had lost a gold 
watch when the Lady Esther was torpedoed 
off the coast of France, and advised him pa- 
ternally to keep his things handy. One of the 
oilers, a good-natured fellow of twenty-eight 
or nine, had been a soldier, having been in- 
valided out of the service because of wounds 
received late in the summer on the Somme. 
An interestmg lot of men for an American 
boy to be tossed with, particularly for a lad 
as intelligent and observing as our Idaho. 
The boy was pleased with his job and worked 
well. He did not have very much to do. 
Signalling aboard a convoyed ship, though a 
frequent business, is not an incessant one. He 
knew that his work would come at the en- 
trance to the zone. Sometimes he picked 
up messages intended for others. *'Mt. Ida^ 
you are out of line," "Vulcanian, keep 
strictly to the prescribed zigzag plan." Now 
he would see the Sicilian asking for advice; 
now there would be a kind of telegraphic 
tiff between two of the vessels of the "Keep 

222 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

further away, hang you" order. Twenty 
ships running without lights through the am- 
bush of the sea, twenty ships, twenty pledges 
of life, satisfied hunger . . . victory. In other 
days, one's world at sea was one's ship; a con- 
voy is a kind of solar system of solitary 
worlds. Hour after hour, the assembled ships 
straggled across the great loneliness of the sea. 

The crew had a grievance. It was not 
against their officers, but against his majesty's 
government, against "a bloody lot of top 
hats." A recent regulation had forbidden 
sailors to import food into the United King- 
dom, and all the dreams of stocking up "the 
missus' " larder with American abundance had 
come to naught. Idaho says that there was 
an engineer who was particularly fierce. 
*' Don't we risk our lives, I arsk yer," he would 
say, ** bringing stuff to fill their ruddy guts, 
and now they won't even let us bring in a bit 
of sugar for ourselves." The rest of the crew 
would take up the angry refrain; a mention 
of the food regulations was enough to set the 
entire crew "grousing" for hours. 

And then came trouble, real trouble. 

On the fifth day out Idaho, called for his 

223 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

early watch, found the boat wallowing in a 
heavy sea. The wind was not particularly 
heavy, but it blew steadily from one point 
of the compass, and the seas were running 
dark, wind-flecked, and high. The Sebastopol, 
accustomed to the calm of eastern seas, was 
pitching and rolling heavily. Presently the 
cargo began to shift. Now, to have the cargo 
shift is about the most dangerous thing that 
can happen to a vessel. One never can tell 
just when the centre of gravity of the mass will 
be displaced, and when that contingency oc- 
curs, the big iron ship will roll over as casu- 
ally and as easilj^ as a dog before the fire. It 
takes courage, plenty of courage, to keep such 
a ship running, especially if you are down by 
the boilers or in the engine room. You have 
to be prepared to find yourself lying in a cor- 
ner somewhere looking up at a ceiling which, 
strange to say, has a door in it. The Sebas- 
topol leaned away from the wind like a stricken 
man crouching before a pitiless enemy; the 
angle of her smokestack more than anything 
else betraying the alarming list. In her 
stricken condition, the ship seemed to become 
more than ever personal and human. Pres- 

££4 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

ently her old plates bulged somewhere and 
she began to leak. 

The vessel carried a cargo of grain, in these 
days more than ever a cargo epical and sym- 
bolic; a holdful of rich grain, grain engendered 
out of fields vast as the sea, bred by the fruit- 
ful fire of the sun, rippled by the passing of 
winds from the mysterious hills, grain, sym- 
bolic of satisfied hunger, . . . victory. A cargo 
of grain, life to those on land, to those on 
board, danger and the possibility of a violent 
if romantic death. The crew, too occupied 
with the emergency to curse the stevedores, 
ran hither and thither on swift, obscure er- 
rands. And the weather grew steadily worse, 
the leak increasing with the advance of the 
storm. Do^\Ti below, meanwhile, a force of 
men hardly able to keep their balance, buf- 
feted here and there by the motion of the 
ship, and working in an atmosphere of choking 
dust, transferred a number of bags from one 
side to another. Unhappily, the real mischief 
was due to grain in bins, and with this store 
little could be done. And always the water 
in the hold increased in depth. 

The pumps, orders had been given to 
225 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

start them directly the leak was noticed. 
Three minutes later, the machinery and the 
pipes, fouled with grain, refused to work. 
They saw bubbles, steam, a trickle of water 
that presently stopped, and lumps of wet grain 
that some one might have chewed together, 
and spat forth again. Idaho did a lot of sig- 
nalling in code to the guide ship of the convoy. 
The Sebastopol began to drop behind. An order 
being given to sleep up on the boat deck so 
as to be ready to leave at any instant, the 
men dragged their bedding to whatever shelter 
they could find. The captain appeared never 
to take any time off for sleep. Day after day, 
through heavy seas, under a sky torn and 
dirty as a rag, the old Sebastopol listing badly 
and sodden as cold porridge, carried her pre- 
cious cargo to the waiting and hungry east. 
Giving up all hope of keeping up with her 
sisters, she fell behind, now straggling ten, 
now fifteen miles astern. At length the 
weather changed; the sea became smooth, 
blue and sparkling, the sky radiant and clear. 
Then the destroyers came. There was a 
parley, and the other vessels of the convoy 
zigzagged wildly for a while in order to allow 

226 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

the Sebastopol to catch up. But in spite of all 
attempts, the old ship fell behind again and 
was suffered to do so, lest the others, com- 
pelled to adopt her slow speed, be seriously 
handicapped in their race down the gauntlet. 
Then it was discovered that the leak had 
gained alarmingly; there was even talk of 
abandoning the vessel and taking to the boats. 
A try was made to pump out the boat with 
an ancient hand engine. The contrivance 
clogged almost at once. According to Idaho, 
it was much like trying to pump out a thick 
bran mash such as they give sick calves. 
And they were only two days from land. 
Barely afloat, just crawling, and with the sub- 
marine zone ahead of them. . . . But the gods 
were kind, and the old boat and the solitary 
destroyer went down the Channel and across 
the Irish Sea as safely as clockwork toys 
across a garden pool. Yet they passed quite 
a tidy lot of wreckage. Nearer . . . nearer 
all the time, till late one afternoon two big 
tugs raced to meet them at the mouth of a 
giant estuary. The Sebastopol was at the 
end of her tether. Another day, and it would 
have been a case of taking to the boats. 

227 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

The tugs hurried her into a waiting dry 
dock. 

Idaho, his papers signed, his bag upon his 
shoulder, got into a httle tender which was 
to take him over to the harbour landing. 
Looking up, he saw some of the crew leaning 
over the rail. . . . They grinned with friendly, 
soot-streaked faces, waved their arms. . . . 
The Sebastopol was safe, the rich cargo of 
grain, the life-giving yellow grain was safe. 
. . . The tug slid off into the busy, noisy 
riverway. 

And thus came Idaho of the Armed Guard 
to the Beleaguered Isles. 



228 



XXXII 



COLLISION 



" Regret to report collision in latitude x and 

longitude y between tank steamships Tampico and 

Peruvian " 

Extract from an Admiralty paper. 

WHEN supper was over, tne two sail- 
ors of the Armed Guard attached 
to the ship went out on deck for a 
breath of evening air. It was just after sun- 
down, a clean calm rested upon the monstrous 
plain of the sea; one golden star shone tranquil 
and lonely in the west. The convoy was al- 
most at the border of the zone. To the left 
the lads could see the twin funnels of the big 
grain ship; the tattered, befouled horse boat, 
the little, rolling tramp said to be full of 
T.N.T., and the long low bulks and squat 
houses of the two tanks. 

"Whoever's on that tramp is some bird at 
signals," said the bigger of the boys, my friend 
"Pop.*' "Generally starts to answer my sig- 

229 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

nal before I'm through. Know who's aboard 
her, Robbie?" 

"I think it's that big new guy from the 
Pennsylvania,^^ answered Robbie, meditatively. 

"Dalton's on the horse boat, isn't he?" 

"Sure, either he or Ricci. Pete Johnson's 
on the first tank, and that fresh little Rogers 
guy's on the other." 

There was a pause. Pop spat with unction 
over the side. 

Suddenly their vessel entered a fog bank, 
passing through a detached island or two of 
it before plunging on into the central mass. 
The convoy instantly faded from sight. Ev- 
ery now and then, out of the w^all of grey 
ahead, a little swirl of fog detached itself, and 
floating down the darkening deck, melted into 
the opaque obscurity behind. Drops of mois- 
ture began to gather on the lower surface of 
the brass rails of the companion ways ; wires 
grew slippery to the touch; little worm-like 
trails of over-laden drops slid mechanically 
down sloping surfaces. The fog, thickening, 
flowed alongside like a vaporous current. 
Overhead, however, the sky was fairly clear, 
though the greater stars shone aureoled and 

230 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

pale. There was very little sound, merely 
the steady hissing of the calm water along- 
side, occasional voices heard in a tone of con- 
sultation, — the heavy slam of a door. An 
hour passed. The fog showed no sign of 
lifting, seeming rather to become of denser 
substance with the dark. Pop was glad 
that there was no ship following directly 
behind, and wondered if the others were 
dragging fog buoys. The ship's bell rang 
muffled and morne in the fog. Suddenly, 
out of the clinging darkness, out of the op- 
pressive obscurity, there came, momentary, 
brazen, and incredibly distant a dull and 
muffled sound. So far away and mysterious 
was its source that the sound might have been 
imagined as coming from the dark beyond 
the stars. An instant later, as if the only 
purpose of its mysterious existence had been 
to sink a tanker, the fog melted into the 
night, and a little wind, a little, timid, trem- 
bling breath brushed the great plume of smoke 
from the funnel lightly aside. A bright 
starlit night came into being as if by enchant- 
ment, as if created out of the fog by the 
intervention of divine will. 

231 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

The motionless black shapes of the collid- 
ing tankers could be seen far, far astern. 
After the crash, they had drifted apart. The 
wireless was crackling, blinker lights flashed 
their dots and dashes of violet white, a 
whistle blew. "Am standing by," came a 
message. The chief of the convoy sent out 
a peremptory command. Presently a light 
appeared on one of the vessels, a little rosy 
glow like a Chinese lantern. The glow sank, 
disappeared, and rose again, having gathered 
strength. One of the tankers was on fire. 
Soon a second glow appeared close by its 
stern. A glow of warm, rosy orange. In a 
few minutes they could see tongues of fire, 
and two boats rowing away from the vessel. 
They did not know that the men in the boats 
were rowing for their lives through a pool of 
oil which might take fire at any instant. A 
few minutes passed; the light grew brighter. 
Suddenly, there was a kind of flaming burst: 
a great victory of fire. The tanker, well 
down by the head, floated flaming in an ocean 
that was itself a flame, floated black, silent, 
and doomed to find an ironic grave in 
the waters under the fire. Great masses of 

232 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

smoke rose from the burning pool into the 
serene sky, and hid the vessel when she sank. 
Half an hour later, a little, rosy light lay 
at the horizon's rim. Suddenly, like a lamp 
blown out, it died. 



233 



XXXIII 

THE RAID BY THE RIVER 

THE convoy of merchantmen, after a 
calm, quite uneventful voyage across 
the ambushed sea, put into a port on 
the Channel for the night, and the following 
morning dispersed to their various harbours. 
Some sort of coast patrol boat *'not much 
bigger than an Admiral's launch," the words 
are those of my friend Steve Holzer of the 
Armed Guard, took the S.S. Snowdon under 
her metaphorical wing, and brought her up 
the Thames. This Snowdon was one of a 
fleet of twelve spry little tramps named for 
the principal mountains of the kingdom, a 
smart, well-equipped, well-ordered product of 
the Tyne. Steve, quick, clever, and alert, 
had got along capitally with the *' limeys." 
His particular pals were a pair of twin lads 
about his own age, young, English, blond, and 
grey-eyed; young, slow to understand a joke, 
honest, good-tempered, and sincere. I have 

5^34 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

seen the postcard photograph of themselves 
which they gave Steve as a parting gift. 
Steve himself is a Yankee from the word go, 
a genuine Yankee from somewhere along the 
coast of Maine. He stands somewhat below 
medium height, is lean-faced and lean-bodied; 
his eyes twinkle with a shrewd good humour. 
A great lad. He tells me that his people have 
been seafaring folk for generations. 

The Snowdon, escorted by her tiny guard, 
ran down the coast, entered the Thames estu- 
ary, passed the barriers, and finally resigned 
herself to the charge of a tug. Late in the 
afternoon, the mass of London began to en- 
close them, they became conscious of strange, 
somewhat foul, land smells; the soot in the 
air irritated their nostrils. The ship was 
docked close after dusk. The feeling of 
satisfaction which seizes on the hearts of sea- 
men who have successfully brought a ship 
into port entered into their bosoms; every- 
body was happy, happy in the retrospect of 
achievement, in the prospect of peace, se- 
curity, good pay, and good times. 

Their vessel lay in a basin just off a great 
bend in the river, in a kind of gigantic concrete 

235 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

swimming pool bordered with steel arc-light 
poles planted in rows like impossibly perfect 
trees. To starboard, through another row 
of arc poles and over a wall of concrete, they 
could see the dirty majesty of the great brown 
river and the square silhouetted bulks of the 
tenements and warehouses on the other side. 
To port, lay a landing stage some two hundred 
feet wide, backed by a huge warehouse over 
whose dingy roof two immense chimneys tow- 
ered like guardians. The space stank of horse; 
the river had lost the clean smell of the sea, 
and breathed a reek of humanity and inland 
mire. A mean cobbled-stone street led from 
a corner of the landing space past wretched 
tenements, fried fish shops, and pawnbrokers' 
windows exhibiting second rate nautical instru- 
ments, concertinas, and fraternal emblems. 
It was all surprisingly quiet. 

Steve, hospitably invited to remain aboard, 
went to the starboard rail and stood studying 
the river. The last smoky light had ebbed 
from the sky; night, rich and strewn with 
autumnal stars, hung over the gigantic city, 
and a moon just passing the first quarter hung 
close by the meridian, and shone reflected 

236 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

in the pool-like basin and the river's moving 
tide. One of the huge chimneys suddenly 
assumed a great, creamy-curling plume of 
smoke which dissolved mysteriously into the 
exhalations of the city. From down in the 
crew's quarters came the musical squeals 
of a concertina, and occasional voices whose 
words could but rarely be distinguished. The 
arc lights by the basin edge suddenly flowered 
into a dismal glow of whitish yellow light 
strangled by the opaque hoods and under 
cups aflSxed by the anti-aircraft regulations. 
Another concertina sounded further down the 
street. The moonlight, like a kind of supernal 
benediction, fell on smokestack and funnel, 
on shining grey wire and solemn, rusted 
anchor, on burnished capstan and finger 
smoutched door. Heat haze, flowing in a 
swift and glassy river, shone above the smoke- 
stack in the moon. 

Suddenly, Steve heard down the street 
a sustained note from something on the order 
of a penny whistle, and an instant later, a 
window was flung up, and a figure leaned out. 
It was too dark to see whether it was a man 
or a woman. Then the same whistle was 

237 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

blown again several times as if by a conscien- 
tious boy, and a factory siren with a sobbing 
human cry rose over the warehouses. At 
the same moment, the lights about the dock 
flickered, clicked, and died. There was a 
confused noise of steps behind, there were 
voices— "Hey, listen!" "Wot's that?" the 
last in pure cockney, and a questioning, 
doubting Thomas voice said : "A raid. '^" The 
figure of the captain was seen on the bridge. 
One of the ships' boys went hurrying round, 
doing something or other, probably closing 
doors. The twins strolled over to Steve, and 
informed him in the most casual manner that 
they were in for a raid. It was Steve's first 
introduction to British unemotionalism, and 
I imagine that it rather let him down. He 
says that he himself was "right up on his tip- 
toes." He also had a notion that bombs 
would begin to rain from the sky directly 
after the warning. The twins soon made it 
clear, however, that the warning was given 
when the raiders were picked up on the east 
coast, and that there was generally some 
twenty minutes or half an hour to w^ait before 
"the show" began. Every once in a while, 

238 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

somebody in the group would steal a look 
at the pale worlds beyond the serried chimney 
pots and at the moon, guiltless accomplice 
of the violence and imbecilities of men. 

Presently, a number of star shells burst 
in fountains of coppery bronze. Every hatch 
covered, every port and window sealed, the 
Snowdon awaited the coming of the raiders. 
Whisles continued to be heard, faint and far 
away. From no word, tone, or gesture of 
that English crew could one have gathered 
that they were in the most dangerous quarter 
of the city. For the one indispensable element 
of a London raid is the attack on the water- 
front, the attack on the ships, the ships of 
wood, the ships of steel, the hollow ships 
through which imperial Britain lives. 

There is little to be seen in a London raid 
unless you happen to be close by something 
struck by a bomb. The affair is almost 
entirely a strange and terrible movement of 
sound, a rising, catastrophic tide of sound, 
a flood of thundering tumult, a slow and sullen 
ebb. 

"There! 'Ear that?" said some one. 

Far away, on the edge of the Essex marshes 
i^9 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

and the moon-lit sea, a number of anti-aircraft 
guns had picked up the raiders. The air 
was full of a faint, sullen murmur, continuous 
as the roar of ocean on a distant beach. Search- 
light beams, sweeping swift and mechanical, 
appeared over London, the pale rays search- 
ing the black islands between the dimmed 
constellations like figures of the blind. They 
descended, rose, glared, met, melted together. 
The sullen roaring grew louder and nearer, 
no longer a blend, but a sustained crescendo 
of pounding sounds and muffled crashes. A 
belated star shell broke, and was reflected 
in the river. A police boat passed swiftly 
and noiselessly, a solitary red spark floating 
from her funnel as she sped. The roar- 
ing gathered strength, the guns on the 
^oast were still; now, one heard the guns 
on the inland moors, the guns in the fields 
beyond quiet little villages, the guns lower 
down the river — they were following the 
river — now the guns in the outer ^suburbs, 
now the guns in the very London spaces, 
ring, crash, tinkle, roar, pound! The great 
city flung her defiance at her enemies. Steve 
became so absorbed in the tumult that he 

240 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

obeyed the order to take shelter below quite 
mechanically. A new sound came screaming 
into their retreat, a horrible kind of whistling 
zoom, followed by a heavy pound. Steve 
was told that he had heard a bomb fall. 
"Somewhere down the river." Nearer, in- 
stant by instant, crept the swift, deadly 
menace. A lonely fragment of an anti-aircraft 
shell dropped clanging on the steel deck. 

•"You see," explained one of the twins in 
the careful passionless tone that he would 
have used in giving street directions to a 
stranger, "the Huns are on their way up the 
river, dropping a kettle on any boat that looks 
like a good mark, and trying to set the docks 
afire. The docks always get it. Listen!" 

There was a second "zoom," and a third 
close on its heels. 

"Those are probably on the jEtna basins," 
said the other twin. Their aim's beastly 
rotten as a rule. If this light were out, we 
might be able to see something from a hatch- 
way. Mr. Millen (the first mate) makes an 
awful fuss if he finds any one on deck. "I 
know what's what, let's go to the galley, there's 
a window that can't be shut." . . . The three 

241 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

lads stole off. Beneath a lamp turned down 
to a bluish-yellow flame, the older seaman 
waited placidly for the end of the raid, and 
discussed, sailor fashion, a hundred irrelevant 
subjects. The darkened space grew chokingly 
thick with tobacco smoke. And the truth 
of it was that every single sailor In there knew 
that the last two bombs had fallen on the 
^tna basins, and that the Snowdon would 
be sure to catch it next. By a trick of 
the gods of chance, the vessel happened to 
be alone in the basin, and presented a 
shining mark. The lads reached the galley 
window. 

By crowding in, shoulder to shoulder, they 
could all see. The pool and its concrete wall 
were hidden; the window opened directly 
on the river. Presently came a lull in the 
tumult, and during it, Steve heard a low, 
monotonous hum, the song of the raiding 
planes. More fragments of shrapnel fell 
upon the deck. The moon had travelled west- 
ward, and lay, large and golden, well clear 
of the town. The winter stars, bright and 
inexorable, had advanced . . . the city was 
fighting on. Suddenly, the three boys heard 

242 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

the ominous aerial whistle, one of the twins 
slammed the window to, and an instant 
later there was a sound within the dark little 
galley as if somebody had touched off an 
enormous invisible rocket, ... a frightful 
"zoom," and impact . . . silence. They 
guessed what had happened. A bomb intend- 
ed for the Snowdon had fallen in the river. 
Later somewhere on land was heard a thun- 
dering crash which shook the vessel violently. 
A pan or something of the kind hanging on 
the galley wall fell with a startling crash. 
"Get out of there, j^ou boys," called the cook. 
Ship's galleys are sacred places, and are to 
be respected even in air raids. And then 
even more slowly and gradually than it 
had gathered to a flood, the uproar ebbed. 
The firing grew spasmodic, ceased within 
the city limits, lingered as a distant 
rumble from the outlying fields, and finally 
died away altogether. The sailors, released 
by a curt order, came on deck. The top 
of the concrete wall was splashed and mottled 
with dark puddles and spatters of water. 
All agreed that the bomb had fallen 
"bloody close," The peace of the abyss 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

rules above. Far do\vn the river, there was 
an unimportant fire. 

Said Steve — "I certainly was sore when I 
didn't have any excitement on the way over 
in the convoy, but after that night in the 
Snowdon, I decided that being with the Armed 
Guard let you in for some real stuff. It's 
a great service." 

With which opinion all who know the Guard 
will agree. 



^4 



XXXIV 

ON HAVING BEEN BOTH A SOLDIER AND A SAILOR 

WHEN this cruel war is over, and the 
mad rounds of parades, banquets and 
reunions begin, I shall immediately 
set to work to organize the most exclusive 
of clubs. A mocking and envious friend sug- 
gests that our uniform consist of a white sailor 
hat, a soldier's tunic, British, French, or 
American according to the flags under which 
we served, and a pair of sailor trousers with 
an extra wide flare. For the club is to be com- 
posed of those fortunate souls who like myself 
have seen "the show" on land and on sea. 
To my mind, however, instead of mixing the 
uniforms, it would be better to dress in khaki 
when we feel military; in blue when our 
temperament is nautical. Think of belong- 
ing to a club whose members can dissect a 
trench mortar with ease and at the same time 
say: "Three points off the port bow" without 
turning a hair. I should admit marines only 

245 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

after a special consideration of each case. Not 
that I don't admire the marines. I do. I 
yield to no one in my admiration of our gallant 
" devil dogs." But the applicant for admission 
to our club must have first served as a bona 
fide soldier and then as a bona fide sailor or 
vice versa. Not that I am a sailor or ever 
was a sailor in Uncle Sam's Navy. All that 
I can claim to have been is a correspondent 
attached to the Navy "over there." But 
four months' service, most of It spent at sea 
on the destroyers, subs, and battleships 
entitles me, I think, to membership, conse- 
quently, being president, I have admitted 
myself. 

"Well, you've seen the war both on land 
and on sea; which service do you prefer . . . 
the army or the Navy?" This question Is 
hurled at me everywhere I go. I answer it 
with deliberation, enjoying the while to 
the full the consciousness of being an extraor- 
dinary person, a sort of literary vEneas, 
miiltum jactatus et terris et alto. And I answer 
briefly: 

"The Navy." 

I hasten to add, however, that you will find 

246 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

my answer coloured by a passion for the 
beauty and the mystery of the sea with 
which some good spirit endowed me in my 
cradle. I was born in one of the most historic 
of New England seacoast towns where brine 
was anciently said to flow through the veins 
of the inhabitants. On midsummer days the 
fierce heat distils from the cracked, caked 
mud of tidal meadows the clean, salty smell 
of the unsullied sea; dark ships, trailing far 
behind them long, dissolving plumes of smoke, 
weave in and out between the tawny, whale- 
backed islands of the bay, and tame little sea 
birds almost the colour of the shingle run 
along at the edge of the in-coming tide. So 
I admit a bias for the service of the sea. 

Does the Navy demand as much of the sailor 
as the Army does of the soldier? A vexed 
question. The Army, comparing grimly its 
own casualty lists with the Navy's occasional 
roll sometimes imagines naturally enough 
that the sailor lives, as the old hymn has it, 
"on flowery beds of ease." As a whole there 
is no denying that living conditions are far 
better in the naval service, though much de- 
pends on the boat to which the sailor is 

247 



FULL SPEED AHEAD 

assigned. A soldier in the trenches sleeps in 
his clothes, so does a sailor on a destroyer or 
a patrol boat, and I do not believe that I felt 
much more comfortable at the end of a long 
trip in an old destroyer during which the vessel 
rolled, pitched, tossed, careened, stood on 
her head, sat on her tail and buckled than I 
did after a week or so at the front. Certainly, 
there was little to choose between the over- 
crowded living quarters of the sailors and a 
decent "dug-out." True, the "Toto," alias 
greyback, alias "Cootie" or his occasional 
but less famous accomplice the "crimson 
rambler" does not infest a Navy ship. How 
many times have I not heard Army folk say 
in heartfelt tones, "Those Navy people can 
keep clean.'' But a truce to the Cootie. 
Much more has been made of him than he 
deserves. During the first six months of the 
war the creature was in evidence, but after 
the hostilities began to limit themselves to 
the trench swathe, and this localizing war 
made possible a stable system of hospitals, 
cantonments and baths, the Cootie became 
as rare as a day in June and to have such guest 
was an indication of abysmally bad luck 

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or personal uncleanliness. Moreover, a little 
gasoline begged from a lorry driver and sprink- 
led on ones clothes confers unconditional 
immunity. Consider the crew of a submarine. 
They do have have to splash about in a gulley 
of smelly mud the consistency of thick soup, 
or wander down alleyways of red brown mud, 
so cheesy that it sticks to the boots till one 
no longer lifts feet from the ground, but 
shapeless, heavy, thrice cussed lumps of mire. 
No one has yet risen to sing the epic of the 
mud of France; yet 'tis the soul of the war. 
The submarine sailors are spared the mud, 
but they live in a sealed cylinder into which 
sunlight does not penetrate, live in the close 
atmosphere of a garage; they can not get 
exercise or change clothes. A submarine 
crew that has had a hard time of it looks 
quite as worn out as soldiers just out of battle 
and their colour is far worse. And if there 
is a more heroic service than this submarine 
patrol, I should like to know of it. 

And now the army in me rises to protest. 
"I admit," says the military voice, "that 
service on ships may be a confounded sight 
more disagreeable than I had imagined, but 

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the sailor has a chance when he gets to port 
of changing his uniform, whilst a poor lad 
of a soldier must fight, eat, and sleep in the 
same old uniform, and must limit his changes 
to a change of underclothes." 

True, oh military spirit. Civilian, and thou, 
too, oh sailor, do you know what it is to be 
confined, to be wedded, without jest, "till 
death do us part" to one suit. One faithful, 
persistent, necessary uniform and one only. 
Two-thirds of the joy of permission is the plea- 
sure of getting out of a dirty, stale, besweated 
uniform. Heaven bless, Heaven shower a 
Niagara of happiness on those kindly ladies 
who sent us supplies of socks and jerseys! 
Don't be content to knit Johnny socks and 
a sweater, keep on knitting him a number of 
them, and send them over at intervals. The 
dandies of a section used to leave extra 
clothes in villages behind the lines. Alas, 
sometimes, the group, after service ''aux 
tranchees'" was not marched back to the 
same village, and it was difficult to get per- 
mission to visit the other village, even were it 
near. Such expedients, however, are for lux- 
urious times. Quite often there are no habita- 

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ble villages for miles behind the lines, or else 
the civilian inhabitants have been ruthlessly 
warned away. In such circumstances there 
is no clean cache of clothes to be left behind 
in Madame's closet. But the sailor . . . 
though he returns as grimy as a printers' 
devil and as bearded as a comic tramp, there 
is always a clean suit of "liberty blues" in 
his bag, and to-morrow, clad in the hand- 
somest of all naval uniforms, he will be found 
ashore, breaking fair British or Irish hearts. 

I have tried to show that in the judgment 
of an ex-soldier, the difference between the 
life of a sailor in a fighting ship and the life 
of a soldier in a fighting regiment is by no 
means as great as it has been imagined. 
The army, I suppose, will grumble at such 
a pronunciamento. Let an objector, then, 
try being a lookout man all winter long on 
a destroyer ... or try firing a while. All is 
not quite purgatorial even at the front. Most 
army men know of quiet places along the line 
held on our side by rubicund, wine-bibbing, 
middle-aged French "territoriaux," bons peres 
de famille who show you pictures of Etienne 
and Maurice; and garrisoned on the enemy's 

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border by fat old Huns who want very, very 
much to get home to their great pipe and 
steaming sauerkraut. In such places each 
side apologizes for the bad caste of their 
supporting artillery, whilst grenade throwing 
is regarded as the bottom level of viciousness. 
Once in a while people die there of old age, 
gout, or chronic liver. No one is ever killed. 
Such "ententes cordiales" were far more 
frequent than those behind the line have ever 
suspected. On the other hand, some twenty 
miles down the trench swathe there may be 
a hillock constantly contested, a strategic 
point which burns up the lives of men as 
casually as the sustaining of a fire consumes 
faggots. Now it is the quick, merciful bullet 
in the head, now the hot, whizzing eclat of 
a high explosive, now the earthquake of the 
subterranean mine. But after all, a mine 
at sea is no more gentle than one on land, and 
to have a mine exploded under him is perhaps 
the eventuality which a soldier fears more 
than anything else. On land, the thundering 
release of a giant breath from out of the earth, 
a monstrous pall of fragments of soil, stones, 
and dust . . . perhaps of fragments more 

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ghastly, at sea, a thundering pound, a column 
of water which seems to stand upright for 
a second or two and then falls crashing on 
whatever is left of the vessel. Quelle monde! 
There is a distinct difference between the 
psychology of the soldier and that of the sailor. 
A soldier of any army is sure to be drilled, and 
drilled, and drilled again till he becomes what 
he ought to be, a cog in an immense machine 
scientifically designed for the release of vio- 
lence; a sailor, drilled scientifically enough 
but not so machinally, preserves some of the 
ancient freedom of the sea. Then, too, 
the soldier with his bayonet is a fighting force ; 
the sailor, though prepared for it, himself 
rarely fights, but works a fighting mechanism, 
. . . the ship. The battleship X may sink 
the cruiser Y, but there is rarely a '^ corps a 
corps ^' such as takes place for instance in a 
disputed shell crater. Thus removed from 
the baser brutalities of war, the sailor never 
reveals that vein of Berseker savagery which 
soldiers will often reveal in a conquered prov- 
ince. As a class, sailors are the best-natured, 
good-hearted souls in the world. Rough some 
may be, some may be scamps, but brutal, 

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never. Moreover, living under a discipline 
easier to bear than the soldiers, Jack has not 
the sullen streaks that overtake betimes men 
under arms. Of course, he grumbles, enlisted 
men are not normal if they don't grumble, 
but Jack's grumbling Is as nothing compared 
to the fierce, smothered hate for things in 
general which every soldier sometimes feels. 
I would follow the sea, because I am a 
lover of the mystery and beauty of the sea, 
and because my comrades would be sallormen. 
I would knock at the Navy's door because, 
after all is said and done, the naval power is 
the ultima ratio of this titanic affair. I 
have seen many of the great scenes of this war, 
among them Verdun on the first night of the 
historic battle, but nothing that I saw on land 
impressed me as did my first view of the 
British Grand Fleet in Its northern harbour, 
. . . the dark ships, the hollow^ ships, rulers 
of the past, rulers of the future, unconquered 
and unconquerable. 

The Parson Capen House, H. B. B. 

Topsfield, 1919. 

END 
254 




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