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FIBST EDITION . . . November 1920 
Reprinted .... December 1920 


Printed by ScueU, Walton A Viney, Ld., London and Aijlesbury, England. 













THIS is not in any sense a history of the operations of our 
naval forces in Europe during the Great War, much less 
a history of the naval operations as a whole. That would 
require not only many volumes, but prolonged and careful 
research by competent historians. When such a work 
is completed, our people will realize for the first time the 
admirable initiative with which the gallant personnel of 
our navy responded to the requirements of an unpre- 
cedented naval situation. 

But in the meantime this story has been written in re- 
sponse to a demand for some account of the very generally 
misunderstood submarine campaign and, particularly, of 
the means by which it was defeated. The interest of the 
public in such a story is due to the fact that during the war 
the sea forces were compelled to take all possible precautions 
to keep the enemy from learning anything about the various 
devices and means used to oppose or destroy the underwater 
craft. This necessity for the utmost secrecy was owing to 
the peculiar nature of the sea warfare. When the armies 
first made use of airplane bombs, or poison gas, or tanks, 
or mobile railroad batteries, the existence of these weapons 
and the manner of their use were necessarily at once 
revealed to the enemy, and the press was permitted to 
publish full accounts of them and, to a certain extent, of 
their effect and the means used to oppose them. Moreover, 
all general movements of the contending armies that resulted 
in engagements were known with fair accuracy on both sides 
within a short time after they occurred and were promptly 
reported to an anxious public. 


But this situation bore almost no resemblance to the 
struggle between the U-boats and the anti-submarine forces 
of the Allies. Barring a few naval actions between surface 
vessels, such as the battles of Jutland and of the Falkland 
Islands, the naval war was, for the most part, a succession of 
contests between single vessels or small groups of vessels. 
The enemy submarines sought to win the war by sinking 
the merchant shipping upon which depended the essential 
supplies of the allied populations and armies ; and it was 
the effort of the Allies to prevent this, and to destroy 
submarines when possible, that constituted the vitally im- 
portant naval activities of the war. By means of strategi- 
cal and tactical dispositions, and various weapons and 
devices, now no longer secret, such as the depth charge, 
the mystery ship, hydrophones, mine-fields, explosive 
mine nets, special hunting submarines, and so forth, it 
was frequently possible either to destroy submarines with 
their entire crews, or to capture the few men who escaped 
when their boats were sunk, and thus keep from the German 
Admiralty all knowledge of the means by which their 
U-boats had met their fate. Thus the mystery ships, or 
decoy ships, as the Germans called them, destroyed a 
number of submarines before the enemy knew that such 
dangerous vessels existed. And even after they had 
acquired this knowledge, the mystery ships used various 
devices that enabled them to continue their successes until 
some unsuccessfully attacked submarine carried word of 
the new danger back to her home port. 

Under such unprecedented conditions of warfare, it is 
apparent that the Allied navies could not safely tell the 
public just what they were doing or how they were doing it. 
All articles written for the press had to be carefully cen- 
sored, and all of these interesting matters ruthlessly 
suppressed ; but now that the ban has been removed, it 
is desirable to give the relatives and friends of the fine chaps 
who did the good work sufficient information to enable 
them to understand the difficulty of the problem that was 
presented to the anti-submarine forces of the Allies, the 


manner in which it was solved, and the various means 
invented and employed. 

The subject is of course largely technical, but an effort 
has been made to present the story in such form that the 
layman can readily understand it. As it is difficult, if not 
quite impossible, for a naval officer to determine just which 
of the details that are a part of his daily life, and what in- 
cidents of sea experience would interest his civilian friends, 
the story has been written in collaboration with Mr. 
Burton J. Hendrick, to whom I am greatly indebted for 
invaluable assistance ; and who, being an experienced 
hand at this writing business, deserves all the credit the 
reader may be disposed to accord him for both the form and 
such graces of descriptive style as he may be able to detect. 

While opinions may differ to a certain extent as to the 
influence exerted upon the campaign by the various forms 
of tactics, the means and weapons employed, and the 
general strategy adopted, I have given what I believe to 
be a consensus of the best informed opinion upon these 
matters ; and I have taken advantage of all of the informa- 
tion now available to insure accuracy in the account of 
the conditions that confronted the European naval forces, 
and in the description of the various operations that have 
been selected as typical examples of this very extraordinary 

It is probably unnecessary to add that this book is 
published with the full approval of the Navy Department. 
My correspondence on this subject with the Secretary will 
be found in the Appendix. 

w. s. s. 













COAST 266 






INDEX . .... 847 




IN the latter part of March, 1917, a message from the 
Navy Department came to me at Newport, where I was 
stationed as president of the Naval War College, sum- 
moning me immediately to Washington. The inter- 
national atmosphere at that time was extremely tense, and 
the form in which these instructions were cast showed that 
something extraordinary was impending. The orders 
directed me to make my visit as unostentatious as possible ; 
to keep all my movements secret, and, on my arrival in 
Washington, not to appear at the Navy Department, but 
to telephone headquarters. I promptly complied with 
these orders ; and, after I got in touch with the navy 
chiefs, it took but a few moments to explain the situation. 
It seemed inevitable, I was informed, that the United 
States would soon be at war with Germany. Ambassador 
Page had cabled that it would be desirable, under the 
existing circumstances, that the American navy be 
represented by an officer of higher rank than any of those 
who were stationed in London at that time. The Depart- 
ment therefore wished me to leave immediately for England, 
to get in touch with the British Admiralty, to study the 
naval situation and learn how we could best and most 
quickly co-operate in the naval war. At this moment we 
were still technically at peace with Germany. Mr. 
Daniels, the Secretary of the Navy, therefore thought it 
wise that there should be no publicity about my movements. 
I was to remain ostensibly as head of the War College, 

2 l 


and, in order that no suspicions should be aroused, my 
wife and family were still to occupy the official residence 
of its president. I was directed to sail on a merchant 
vessel, to travel under an assumed name, to wear civilian 
clothes and to take no uniform. On reaching the other 
side I was to get immediately in communication with 
the British Admiralty, and send to Washington detailed 
reports on prevailing conditions. 

A few days after this interview in Washington two com- 
monplace-looking gentlemen, dressed in civilian clothes, 
secretly boarded the American steamship New York. They 
were entered upon the passenger list as V. J. Richardson and 
S. W. Davidson. A day or two out an enterprising steward 
noticed that the initials on the pyjamas of one of these pas- 
sengers differed from those of the name under which he was 
sailing and reported him to the captain as a suspicious 
character. The captain had a quiet laugh over this dis- 
covery, for he knew that Mr. Davidson was Rear-Admiral 
Sims, of the United States Navy, and that his companion 
who possessed the two sets of conflicting initials was 
Commander J. V. Babcock, the Admiral's aide. The 
voyage itself was an uneventful one, but a good deal of 
history was made in those few days that we spent upon 
the sea. Our ship reached England on April 9th ; one 
week previously President Wilson had gone before Congress 
and asked for the declaration of a state of war with 
Germany. We had a slight reminder that a war was under 
way as we neared Liverpool, for a mine struck our vessel 
as we approached the outer harbour. The damage was 
not irreparable ; the passengers were transferred to 
another steamer and we safely reached port, where I found 
a representative of the British Admiralty, Rear-Admiral 
Hope, waiting to receive me. The Admiralty had also 
provided a special train, in which we left immediately for 

Whenever I think of the naval situation as it existed in 
April, 1917, I always have before my mind two contrasting 
pictures one that of the British public, as represented in 
their press and in their social gatherings in London, and 
the other that of British officialdom, as represented in my 
confidential meetings with British statesmen and British 
naval officers. For the larger part the English newspapers 
were publishing optimistic statements about the German 


submarine campaign. In these they generally scouted the 
idea that this new form of piracy really threatened in 
any way the safety of the British Empire. They accom- 
panied these rather cheerful outgivings by weekly statistics 
of submarine sinkings ; figures which, while not particu- 
larly reassuring, hardly indicated that any serious inroads 
had yet been made on the British mercantile marine. The 
Admiralty was publishing tables showing that four or 
five thousand ships were arriving at British ports and 
leaving them every week, while other tables disclosed the 
number of British ships of less than sixteen hundred tons 
and more than sixteen hundred tons that were going down 
every seven days. Thus the week of my arrival I learned 
from these figures that Great Britain had lost seventeen 
ships above that size, and two ships below ; that 2,406 
vessels had arrived at British ports, that 2,367 had left, 
and that, in addition, seven fishing vessels had fallen 
victims to the German submarines. Such figures were 
worthless, for they did not include neutral ships and did 
not give the amount of tonnage sunk, details, of course, 
which it was necessary to keep from the enemy. The 
facts which the Government thus permitted to come to 
public knowledge did not indicate that the situation was 
particularly alarming. Indeed the newspapers all over 
the British Isles showed no signs of perturbation ; on the 
contrary, they were drawing favourable conclusions from 
these statistics. Here and there one of them may have 
sounded a more apprehensive note ; yet the generally 
prevailing feeling both in the press and in general discus- 
sions of the war seemed to be that the submarine cam- 
paign had already failed, that Germany's last desperate 
attempt to win the war had already broken down, and 
that peace would probably not be long delayed. The 
newspapers found considerable satisfaction in the fact 
that the " volume of British shipping was being 
maintained " ; they displayed such headlines as " im- 
provement continues " ; they printed prominently the 
encouraging speeches of certain British statesmen, and in 
this way were apparently quieting popular apprehension 
concerning the outcome. This same atmosphere of cheer- 
ful ignorance I found everywhere in London society. The 
fear of German submarines was not disturbing the London 
season, which had now reached its height ; the theatres 


were packed every night ; everywhere, indeed, the men 
and women of the upper classes were apparently giving 
little thought to any danger that might be hanging over 
their country. Before arriving in England I myself had 
not known the gravity of the situation. I had followed 
the war from the beginning with the greatest interest ; I 
had read practically everything printed about it in the 
American and foreign press, and I had had access to such 
official information as was available on our side of the 
Atlantic. The result was that, when I sailed for England 
hi March, I felt little fear about the outcome. All the 
fundamental facts in the case made it appear impossible 
that the Germans could win the war. Sea power appar- 
ently rested practically unchallenged in the hands of the 
Allies ; and that in itself, according to the unvarying 
lessons of history, was an absolute assurance of ultimate 
victory. The statistics of shipping losses had been regu- 
larly printed in the American press, and, while such 
wanton destruction of life and property seemed appalling, 
there was apparently nothing in these figures that was 
likely to make any material change in the result. Indeed 
it appeared to be altogether probable that the war would 
end before the United States could exert any material 
influence upon the outcome. My conclusions were shared 
by most American naval officers whom I knew, students 
of warfare, who, like myself, had the utmost respect for 
the British fleet and believed that it had the naval situa- 
tion well in hand. 

Yet a few days spent in London clearly showed that all 
this confidence in the defeat of the Germans rested upon 
a misapprehension. The Germans, it now appeared, were 
not losing the war they were winning it. The British 
Admiralty now placed before the American representative 
facts and figures which it had not given to the British 
press. These documents disclosed the astounding fact 
that, unless the appalling destruction of merchant ton- 
nage which was then taking place could be materially 
checked, the unconditional surrender of the British Empire 
would inevitably take place within a few months. 

On the day of my arrival in London I had my first 
interview with Admiral Jellicoe, who was at that time the 
First Sea Lord. Admiral Jellicoe and I needed no intro- 
duction. I had known him for many years and for a 


considerable period we had been more or less regular 
correspondents. I had first made his acquaintance in 
China in 1901 ; at that time Jellicoe was a captain and 
was already recognized as one of the coming men of the 
British navy. He was an expert in ordnance and gunnery, 
a subject in which I was greatly interested ; and this fact 
had brought us together and made us friends. The 
admiration which I had then conceived for the Admiral's 
character and intelligence I have never lost. He was 
then, as he has been ever since, an indefatigable worker, 
and more than a worker, for he was a profound student 
of everything which pertained to ships and gunnery, and 
a man who joined to a splendid intellect the real ability 
of command. I had known him in his own home ^vith 
his wife and babies, as well as on shipboard among his 
men, and had observed at close hand the gracious per- 
sonality which had the power to draw everyone to him 
and make him the idol both of his own children and the 
officers and jackies of the British fleet. Simplicity and 
directness were his two most outstanding points ; though 
few men had risen so rapidly in the Royal Navy, success 
had made him only more quiet, soft spoken, and unosten- 
tatiously dignified ; there was nothing of the blustering 
seadog about the Admiral, but he was all courtesy, all 
brain, and, of all the men I have ever met, there have 
been none more approachable, more frank, and more open- 

Physically Admiral Jellicoe is a small man, but as 
powerful in frame as he is in mind, and there are few men 
in the navy who can match him in tennis. His smooth- 
shaven face, when I met him that morning in April, 1917, 
was, as usual, calm, smiling, and imperturbable. One 
could never divine his thoughts by any outward display 
of emotion. Neither did he give any signs that he was 
bearing a great burden, though it is not too much to say 
that at this moment the safety of the British Empire rested 
chiefly upon Admiral Jellicoe's shoulders. I find the 
absurd notion prevalent in this country that his change 
from Commander of the Grand Fleet to First Sea Lord 
was something in the nature of a demotion ; but nothing 
could be farther from the truth. As First Sea Lord, 
Jellicoe controlled the operations, not only of the Grand 
Fleet, but also of the entire British navy ; he had no 


superior officer, for the First Lord of the Admiralty, the 
position in England that corresponds to our Secretary of 
the Navy, has no power to give any order whatever to 
the fleet a power which our Secretary possesses. Thus 
the defeat of the German submarines was a direct respon- 
sibility which Admiral Jellicoe could divide with no other 
official. Great as this duty was, and appalling as was 
the submarine situation at the time of this interview, 
there was nothing about the Admiral's bearing which 
betrayed any depression of spirits. He manifested great 
seriousness indeed, possibly some apprehension, but British 
stoicism and the usual British refusal to succumb to 
discouragement were qualities that were keeping him 
tenaciously at his job. 

After the usual greetings, Admiral Jellicoe took a paper 
out of his drawer and handed it to me. It was a record 
of tonnage losses for the last few months. This showed 
that the total sinkings, British and neutral, had reached 
536,000 tons in February and 603,000 in March ; it 
further disclosed that sinkings were taking place in April 
which indicated the destruction of nearly 900,000 tons. 
These figures indicated that the losses were three and 
four times as large as those which were then being pub- 
lished in the press. 1 

It is expressing it mildly to say that I was surprised by 
this disclosure. I was fairly astounded ; for I had never 
imagined anything so terrible. I expressed my consterna- 
tion to Admiral Jellicoe. 

" Yes," he said, as quietly as though he were discussing 
the weather and not the future of the British Empire. 
" It is impossible for us to go on with the war if losses like 
this continue." 

" What are you doing about it ? " I asked. 

" Everything that we can. We are increasing our anti- 
submarine forces in every possible way. We are using 
every possible craft we can find with which to fight sub- 
marines. We are building destroyers, trawlers, and other 
like craft as fast as we can. But the situation is very 
serious and we shall need all the assistance we can get." 

1 The statements published were not false, but they were inconclusive 
and intentionally so. They gave the number of British ships sunk, but 
not their tonnage, and not the total losses of British, Allied, and neutral 


" It looks as though the Germans were winning the 
war," I remarked. 

" They will win, unless we can stop these losses and 
stop them soon," the Admiral replied. 

" Is there no solution for the problem ? " I asked. 
" Absolutely none that we can see now," Jellicoe an- 
nounced. He described the work of destroyers and other 
anti-submarine craft, but he showed no confidence that 
they would be able to control the depredations of the 

The newspapers for several months had been publishing 
stories that submarines in large numbers were being sunk ; 
and these stories I now found to be untrue. The Admiralty 
records showed that only fifty-four German submarines 
were positively known to have been sunk since the begin- 
ning of the war ; the German shipyards, I was now in- 
formed, were turning out new submarines at the rate of 
three a week. The newspapers had also published accounts 
of the voluntary surrender of German U-boats ; but not 
one such surrender, Admiral Jellicoe said, had ever taken 
place ; the stories had been circulated merely for the 
purpose of depreciating enemy moral. I even found 
that members of the Government, all of whom should 
have been better informed, and also British naval officers, 
believed that many captured German submarines had 
been carefully stowed away at the Portsmouth and Ply- 
mouth navy yards. Yet the disconcerting facts which 
faced the Allies were that the supplies and communica- 
tions of the forces on all fronts were threatened ; that 
German submarines were constantly extending their 
operations farther and farther out into the Atlantic ; that 
German raiders were escaping into the open sea ; that 
three years' constant operations had seriously threatened 
the strength of the British navy, and that Great Britain's 
control of the sea was actually at stake. Nor did Admiral 
Jellicoe indulge in any false expectations concerning the 
future. Bad as the situation then was, he had every 
expectation that it would grow. worse. The season which 
was now approaching would make easier the German 
operations, for the submarines would soon have the long 
daylight of the British summer and the more favourable 
weather. The next few months, indeed, both in the 
estimation of the Germans and the British, would witness 


the great crisis of the war ; the basis of the ruthless cam- 
paign upon which the submarines had entered was that 
they could reach the decision before winter closed in. So 
far as I could learn there was a general belief in British 
naval circles that this plan would succeed. The losses 
were now approaching a million tons a month ; it was 
thus a matter of very simple arithmetic to determine the 
length of time the Allies could stand such a strain. 
According to the authorities the limit of endurance would 
be reached about November 1, 1917 ; in other words, 
unless some method of successfully fighting submarines 
could be discovered almost immediately, Great Britain 
would have to lay down her arms before a victorious 

" What we are facing is the defeat of Great Britain," 
said Ambassador Walter H. Page, after the situation had 
been explained to him. 

In the next few weeks I had many interviews with 
Admiral Jellicoe and other members of the Admiralty. 
Sitting in conference with them every morning, I became, 
for all practical purposes, a member of their organization. 
There were no secrets of the British navy which were not 
disclosed to their new American ally. This policy was in 
accordance with the broad-minded attitude of the British 
Government ; there was a general desire that the United 
States should understand the situation completely, and 
from the beginning matters \vere discussed with the 
utmost frankness. Everywhere was manifested a willing- 
ness to receive suggestions and to try any expedient that 
promised to be even remotely successful ; yet the feeling 
prevailed that there was no quick and easy way to defeat 
the submarine, that anything even faintly resembling the 
much-sought " answer " had not yet appeared on the 
horizon. The prevailing impression that any new inven- 
tion could control the submarine in time to be effective 
was deprecated. The American press was at that time 
constantly calling upon Edison and other great American 
inventors to solve this problem, and, in fact, inventors in 
every part of two hemispheres were turning out devices 
by the thousands. A regular department of the Admir- 
alty which was headed by Admiral Fisher had charge of 
investigating their proposals ; in a few months it had 
received and examined not far from 40,000 inventions, 


none of which answered the purpose, though many of them 
were exceedingly ingenious. British naval officers were 
not hostile to such projects ; they declared, however, that 
it would be absurd to depend upon new devices for defeat- 
ing the German campaign. The overshadowing fact a 
fact which I find that many naval men have not yet 
sufficiently grasped is that time was the all-important 
element. It was necessary not only that a way be found 
of curbing the submarine, but of accomplishing this result 
at once. The salvation of the great cause in which we 
had engaged was a matter of only a few months. A 
mechanical device, or a new type of ship which might 
destroy this menace six months hence, would not have 
helped us, for by that time Germany would have won the 

I discussed the situation also with members of the 
Cabinet, such as Mr. Balfour, Lord Robert Cecil, and Sir 
Edward Carson. Their attitude to me was very different 
from the attitude which they were taking publicly ; these 
men naturally would say nothing in the newspapers that 
would improve the enemy moral ; but in explaining the 
situation to me they repeated practically everything that 
Jellicoe had said. It was the seriousness of this situation 
that soon afterward sent Mr. Balfour and the British 
Commission to the United States. The world does not 
yet understand what a dark moment that was in the 
history of the Allied cause. Not only were the German 
submarines sweeping British commerce from the seas, but 
the German armies were also defeating the British and 
French on the battlefields in France. It is only when we 
recall that the Germans were attaining the high peak of 
success with the U-boats at the very moment that General 
Nivelle's offensive had failed on the Western Front that 
we can get some idea of the real tragedy of the Allied 
situation in the spring of 1917. 

" Things were dark when I took that trip to America," 
Mr. Balfour said to me afterward. " The submarines were 
constantly on my mind. I could think of nothing but the 
number of ships which they were sinking. At that time 
it certainly looked as though we were going to lose the 

One of the men who most keenly realized the state of 
affairs was the King. I met His Majesty first in the vesti- 


bule of St. Paul's, on that memorable occasion in April, 
1917, when the English people held a thanksgiving service 
to commemorate America's entrance into the war. Then, 
as at several subsequent meetings, the King impressed 
me as a simple, courteous, unaffected English gentleman. 
He was dressed in khaki, like any other English officer, 
and his manner was warm-hearted, sincere, and even 

" It gives me great pleasure to meet you on an occasion 
like this," said His Majesty, referring to the great Anglo- 
American memorial service. " I am also glad to greet an 
American admiral on such a mission as yours. And I 
wish you all success." 

On that occasion we naturally had little time to discuss 
the submarines, but a few days afterward I was invited to 
spend the night at Windsor Castle. The King in his own 
home proved to be even more cordial, if that were possible, 
than at our first meeting. After dinner we adjourned to 
a small room and there, over our cigars, we discussed the 
situation at considerable length. The King is a rapid 
and animated talker ; he was kept constantly informed on 
the submarine situation, and discussed it that night in all 
its details. I was at first surprised by his familiarity 
with all naval questions and the intimate touch which he 
was evidently maintaining with the British fleet. Yet 
this was not really surprising, for His Majesty himself is a 
sailor ; in his early youth he joined the navy, in which he 
worked up like any other British boy. He seemed almost 
as well informed about the American navy as about the 
British ; he displayed the utmost interest in our prepara- 
tions on land and sea, and he was particularly solicitous 
that I, as the American representative, should have com- 
plete access to the Admiralty Office. About the submarine 
campaign, the King was just as outspoken as Jellicoe and 
the other members of the Admiralty. The thing must be 
stopped, or the Allies could never win the war. 

Of all the influential men in British public life there 
was only one who at that time took an optimistic attitude. 
This was Mr. Lloyd George. I met the Prime Minister 
frequently at dinners, at his own country place and else- 
where, and the most lasting impression which I retain of 
this wonderful man was his irrepressible gaiety of spirits. 
I think of the Prime Minister of Great Britain as a great, 


big, exuberant boy, always laughing and joking, con- 
stantly indulging in repartee and by-play, and even in 
this crisis, perhaps the darkest one of British history, 
showing no signs of depression. His face, which was 
clear in its complexion as a girl's, never betrayed the 
slightest anxiety, and his eyes, which were always spark- 
ling, never disclosed the faintest shadow. It was a picture 
which I shall never forget that of this man, upon whose 
shoulders the destiny of the Empire chiefly rested, appar- 
ently refusing to admit, even to himself, the dangers that 
were seemingly overwhelming it, heroically devoting all 
his energies to uplifting the spirits of his countrymen, 
and, in his private intercourse with his associates, even in 
the most fateful moments, finding time to tell funny 
stories, to recall entertaining anecdotes of his own political 
career, to poke fun at the mistakes of his opponents, and to 
turn the general conversation a thousand miles away from 
the Western Front and the German submarines. It was 
the most inspiring instance of self-control that I have ever 
known ; indeed only one other case in history can be 
compared with it ; Lloyd George's attitude at this period 
constantly reminded me of Lincoln in the darkest hours of 
the Civil War, when, after receiving news of such calamities 
as Fredericksburg or Chancellorsville, he would entertain 
his cabinet by reading selections from Artemus Ward, 
interlarded with humorous sayings and anecdotes of his 
own. Perhaps Lloyd George's cheerfulness is explained 
by another trait which he likewise possessed in common 
with Lincoln ; there is a Welsh mysticism in his nature 
which, I am told, sometimes takes the form of religious 
exaltation. Lloyd George's faith in God and in a divine 
ordering of history was evidently so profound that the 
idea of German victory probably never seized his mind 
as a reality ; we all know that Lincoln's absolute confi- 
dence in the triumph of the North rested upon a similar 
basis. Certainly only some such deep-set conviction as 
this could explain Lloyd George's serenity and optimism 
in the face of the most frightful calamities. I attended a 
small dinner at which the Premier was present four days 
after the Germans had made their terrible attack in March, 
1918. Even on this occasion he showed no evidences of 
strain ; as usual his animated spirits held the upper 
hand ; he was talking incessantly, but he never even 


mentioned the subject that was absorbing the thoughts 
of the rest of the world at that moment ; instead he 
rattled along, touching upon the Irish question, discussing 
the impression which Irish conscription would make in 
America, and, now and then, pausing to pass some banter- 
ing remark to Mr. Balfour. This was the way that I 
always saw the head of the British Government ; never 
did I meet him when he was fagged or discouraged, or 
when he saw any end to the war but a favourable one. 

On several occasions I attempted to impress Mr. Lloyd 
George with the gravity of the situation ; he always refused 
to acknowledge that it was grave. 

" Oh, yes, things are bad," he would say with a smile 
and a sweep of his hand. " But we shall get the best of 
the submarines never fear ! " 

The cheerfulness of the Prime Minister, however, was 
exceptional ; all his associates hardly concealed their 
apprehension. On the other hand, a wave of enthusiasm 
was at that time sweeping over Germany. Americans still 
have an idea that the German Government adopted the 
submarine campaign as the last despairing gambler's 
chance, and that they only half believed in its success 
themselves. There is an impression here that the Germans 
never would have staked their Empire on this desperate 
final throw had they foreseen that the United States would 
have mobilized against them all its men and resources. 
This conviction is entirely wrong. The Germans did not 
think that they were taking any chances when they 
announced their unrestricted campaign ; the ultimate 
result seemed to them to be a certainty. They calculated 
the available shipping which the Allies and the neutral 
nations had afloat ; they knew just how many ships their 
submarines could sink every month, and from these 
statistics they mathematically deduced, with real German 
precision, the moment when the war would end. They 
did not like the idea of adding the United States to their 
enemies, but this was because they were thinking of 
conditions after the war ; for they would have preferred 
to have had American friendship in the period of read- 
justment. But they did not fear that we could do them 
much injury in the course of the war itself. This again 
was not because they really despised our fighting power ; 
they knew that we would prove a formidable enemy on 


the battlefield ; but the obvious fact, to their eyes, was 
that our armies could never get to the front in time. The 
submarine campaign, they said, would finish the thing in 
three or four months ; and certainly in that period the 
unprepared United States could never summon any mili- 
tary power that could affect the result. Thus from a 
purely military standpoint the entrance of 100,000,000 
Americans affected them about as much as would a declara- 
tion of war from the planet Mars. 

We confirmed this point of view from the commanders 
of the occasionally captured submarines. These men 
would be brought to London and questioned ; they showed 
the utmost confidence in the result. 

" Yes, you've got ws," they would say, " but what 
difference does that make ? There are plenty more sub- 
marines coming out. You will get a few, but we can 
build a dozen for every one that you can capture or sink. 
Anyway, the war will all be over in two or three months 
and we shall be sent back home." 

All these captives laughed at the merest suggestion of 
German defeat ; their attitude was not that of prisoners, 
but of conquerors. They also regarded themselves as 
heroes, and they gloried in the achievements of their 
submarine service. For the most part they exaggerated 
the sinkings and estimated that the war would end about 
the first of July or August. Similarly the Berlin Govern- 
ment exaggerated the extent of their success. This was 
not surprising, for one peculiarity of the submarine is 
that only the commander, stationed at the periscope, 
knows what is going on. He can report sinking a 5,000 
ton ship and no one can contradict his statement, for the 
crew and the other officers do not see the surface of the 
water. Not unnaturally the commander does not depre- 
ciate his own achievements, and thus the amount of sunken 
tonnage reported in Berlin considerably exceeded the 
actual losses. 

The speeches of German dignitaries resounded with the 
same confidence. 

" In the impending decisive battle," said the Kaiser, 
" the task falls upon my navy of turning the English war 
method of starvation, with which our most hated and 
most obstinate enemy intends to overthrow the German 
people, against him and his allies by combating their sea 


traffic with all the means in our power. In this work the 
submarine will stand in the first rank. I expect that this 
weapon, technically developed with wise forethought at 
our admirable yards, in co-operation with all our other 
naval fighting weapons and supported by the spirit which, 
during the whole course of the war, has enabled us to 
perform brilliant deeds, will break our enemy's war will." 

" In this life and death struggle by hunger," said Dr. 
Karl Helfferich, Imperial Secretary of the Interior, 
" England believed herself to be far beyond the reach of 
any anxiety about food. A year ago it was supposed 
that England would be able to use the acres of the whole 
world, bidding with them against the German acres. 
To-day England sees herself in a situation unparalleled in 
her history. Her acres across sea disappear as a result 
of the blockade which our submarines are daily making 
more effective around England. We have considered, we 
have dared. Certain of the result, we shall not allow it 
to be taken from us by anybody or anything." 

These statements now read almost like ancient history, 
yet they were made in February, 1917. At that time, 
Americans and Englishmen read them with a smile ; they 
seemed to be the kind of German rodomontade with 
which the war had made us so familiar ; they seemed to be 
empty mouthings put out to bolster up the drooping 
German spirit. That the Kaiser and his advisers could 
really believe such rubbish was generally regarded as 
absurd. Yet not only did they believe what they were 
saying but, as already explained, they also had every 
reason for believing it. The Kaiser and his associates 
had figured that the war would end about July 1st or 
August 1st ; and English officials with whom I came in 
contact placed the date at November 1st always provided, 
of course, that no method were found for checking the 
submarine. * 


How, then, could we defeat the submarine ? Before 
approaching this subject, it is well to understand precisely 
what was taking place in the spring and summer of 1917 in 

1 See Appendices II and III for my cable and letter to the Navy Depart- 
ment, explaining the submarine situation in detail. 


those waters surrounding the British Isles. What was this 
strange new type of warfare that was bringing the Allied 
cause to its knees ? Nothing like it had ever been known 
in recorded time ; nothing like it had been foreseen when, 
on August 4, 1914, the British Government threw all its 
resources and all its people against the great enemy of 

Leaving entirely out of consideration international law 
and humanity, it must be admitted that strategically the 
German submarine campaign was well conceived. Its 
purpose was to marshal on the German side that force 
which has always proved to be the determining one in 
great international conflicts sea power. The advantages 
which the control of the sea gives the nation which pos- 
sesses it are apparent. In the first place, it makes secure 
such a nation's communications with the outside world 
and its own allies, and, at the same time, it cuts the com- 
munications of its enemy. It enables the nation dominant 
at sea to levy upon the resources of the entire world ; to 
obtain food for its civilian population, raw materials for 
its manufactures, munitions for its armies ; and, at the 
same time, to maintain that commerce upon which its 
very economic life may depend. It enables such a power 
also to transport troops into any field of action where they 
may be required. At the very time that sea power is 
heaping all these blessings upon the dominant nation, it 
enables such a nation to deny these same advantages to 
its enemy. For the second great resource of sea power is 
the blockade. If the enemy is agriculturally and indus- 
trially dependent upon the outside world, sea power can 
transform it into a beleaguered fortress and sooner or later 
compel its unconditional surrender. Its operations are 
not spectacular, but they work with the inevitable remorse- 
lessness of death itself. 

This fact is so familiar that I insist upon it here only for 
the purpose of inviting attention to another fact which is 
not so apparent. Perhaps the greatest commonplace of 
the war, from the newspaper standpoint, was that the 
British fleet controlled the seas. This mere circumstance, 
as I have already said, was the reason why all students of 
history were firm in their belief that Britain could never be 
defeated. It was not until the spring of 1917 that we 
really awoke to the actual situation ; it was not until I 


had spent several days in England that I made the all- 
important discovery, which was this that Britain did not 
control the seas. She still controlled the seas in the old 
Nelsonian sense ; that is, her Grand Fleet successfully 
" contained " the German battle squadrons and kept 
them, for the greater part of the war, penned up in their 
German harbours. In the old days such a display of sea 
power would have easily won the war for the Allies. But 
that is not control of the seas in the modern sense ; it is 
merely control of the surface of the seas. Under modern 
methods of naval warfare sea control means far more than 
controlling the top of the water. For there is another type 
of ship, which sails stealthily under the waves, revealing 
its presence only at certain intervals, and capable of shoot- 
ing a terrible weapon which can sink the proudest surface 
ship in a few minutes. The existence of this new type of 
warship makes control of the seas to-day a very different 
thing from what it was in Nelson's time. As long as such 
a warship can operate under the water almost at will 
and this was the case in a considerable area of the ocean 
in the early part of 1917 it is ridiculous to say that any 
navy controls the seas. For this subsurface vessel, when 
used as successfully as it was used by the Germans in 1917, 
deprives the surface navy of that advantage which has 
proved most decisive in other wars. That is, the surface 
navy can no longer completely protect communications as 
it could protect them in Nelson's and Farragut's times. 
It no longer guarantees a belligerent its food, its munitions, 
its raw materials of manufacture and commerce, or the 
free movement of its troops. It is obviously absurd to 
say that a belligerent which was losing 800,000 or 900,000 
tons of shipping a month, as was the case with the Allies 
in the spring of 1917, was the undisputed mistress of the 
seas. Had the German submarine campaign continued to 
succeed at this rate, the United States could not have 
transported its army to France, and the food and materials 
which we were sending to Europe, and which were essential 
to winning the war, could never have crossed the ocean. 
That is to say, complete control of the subsurface by 
Germany would have turned against England the blockade, 
the very power with which she had planned to reduce the 
German Empire. Instead of isolating Germany from the 
rest of the world, she would herself be isolated. 


In due course I shall attempt to show the immediate 
connexion that exists between control of the surface and 
control of the subsurface ; this narrative will disclose, 
indeed, that the nation which possesses the first also 
potentially possesses the second. In the early spring of 
1917, however, this principle was not effective, so far as 
merchant shipping was concerned. 

Germany's purpose in adopting the ruthless submarine 
warfare was, of course, the one which I have indicated : 
to deprive the Allied armies in the field, and their civilian 
populations, of these supplies from overseas which were 
essential to victory. Nature had been kind to this Ger- 
man programme when she created the British Isles. 
Indeed this tight little kingdom and the waters which 
surround it provided an ideal field for operations of this 
character. For purposes of contrast, let us consider our 
own geographical situation. A glance at the map discloses 
that it would be almost impossible to blockade the United 
States with submarines. In the first place, the operation 
of submarines more than three thousand miles from their 
bases would present almost insuperable difficulties. That 
Germany could send an occasional submarine to our coasts 
she demonstrated in the war, but it would be hardly possible 
to maintain anything like a regular and persistent cam- 
paign. Even if she could have kept a force constantly 
engaged in our waters, other natural difficulties would 
have defeated their most determined efforts. The trade 
routes approach our Atlantic sea-coast in the shape of a 
fan, of which different sticks point to such ports as Boston, 
New York, Philadelphia, Norfolk, and the ports of the 
Gulf of Mexico. To destroy shipping to American ports 
it would be necessary for the enemy to cover all these 
routes with submarines, a project which is so vast that it 
is hardly worth the trial. In addition we have numerous 
Pacific ports to which we could divert shipping in case our 
enemy should attempt to blockade us on the Atlantic 
coast ; our splendid system of transcontinental railroads 
would make internal distribution not a particularly diffi- 
cult matter. Above all such considerations, of course, is 
the fact that the United States is an industrial and agri- 
cultural entity, self-supporting and self -feeding, and, there- 
fore, it could not be starved into surrender even though 
the enemy should surmount these practically insuperable 



obstacles to a submarine blockade. But the situation of 
the British Isles is entirely different. They obtain from 
overseas the larger part of their food and a considerable 
part of their raw materials, and in April of 1917, according 
to reliable statements made at that time, England had 
enough food on hand for only six weeks or two months. 
The trade routes over which these supplies came made the 
submarine blockade a comparatively simple matter. In- 
stead of the sticks of a fan, the comparison which I have 
suggested with our own coast, we now have to deal with the 
neck of a bottle. The trade routes to our Atlantic coast 
spread out, as they approach our ports ; on the other hand, 
the trade routes to Great Britain converge almost to a 
point. The far-flung steamship lanes which bring Britain 
her food and raw materials from half a dozen continents 
focus in the Irish Sea and the English Channel. To cut 
the communications of Great Britain, therefore, the sub- 
marines do not have to patrol two or three thousand miles 
of sea-coast, as would be necessary in the case of the 
United States ; they merely need to hover around the 
extremely restricted waters west and south of Ireland. 

This was precisely the area which the Germans had 
selected for their main field of activity. It was here that 
their so-called U-boats were operating with the most deadly 
effect ; these waters constituted their happy hunting 
grounds, for here came the great cargo ships, with food and 
supplies from America, which were bound for Liverpool and 
the great Channel ports. The submarines that did destruc- 
tion in this region were the type that have gained universal 
fame as the U-boats. There were other types, which I 
shall describe, but the U-boats were the main reliance of the 
German navy ; they w r ere fairly large vessels, of about 800 
tons, and carried from eight to twelve torpedoes and enough 
fuel and supplies to keep the sea for three or four weeks. 
And here let me correct one universal misapprehension. 
These U-boats did not have bases off the Irish and Spanish 
coasts, as most people still believe. Such bases would have 
been of no particular use to them. The cruising period of a 
submarine did not depend, as is the prevailing impression, 
upon its supply of fuel oil and food, for almost any under- 
water boat was able to carry enough of these essential 
materials for a practically indefinite period ; the average 
U-boat, moreover, could easily make the voyage across the 


Atlantic and back. The cruising period depended upon its 
supply of torpedoes. A submarine returned to its base only 
after it had exhausted its supply of these destructive 
missiles ; if it should shoot them all in twenty-four hours, 
then a single day would end that particular cruise ; if the 
torpedoes lasted a month, then the submarine stayed out 
for that length of time. For these reasons bases on the Irish 
coast would have been useful only in case they could re- 
plenish the torpedoes, and this was obviously an impossi- 
bility. No, there was not the slightest mystery concerning 
the bases of the U-boats. When the Germans captured 
the city of Bruges in Belgium they transformed it into a 
headquarters for submarines ; here many of the U-boats 
were assembled, and here facilities were provided for 
docking, repairing, and supplying them. Bruges was thus 
one of the main headquarters for the destructive campaign 
which was waged against British commerce. Bruges itself 
is an inland town, but from it two canals extend, one to 
Ostend and the other to Zeebrugge, and in this way the 
interior submarine base formed the apex of a triangle. It 
was by way of these canals that the U-boats reached the 
open sea. 

Once in the English Channel, the submarines had their 
choice of two routes to the hunting grounds off the west and 
south of Ireland. A large number made the apparently 
unnecessarily long detour across the North Sea and around 
Scotland, going through the Fair Island Passage, between 
the Orkney and the Shetland islands, along the[ Hebrides, 
where they sometimes made a landfall, and so around the 
west coast of Ireland. This looks like a long and difficult 
trip, yet the time was not entirely wasted, for the U-boats, 
as the map of sinkings shows, usually destroyed several 
vessels on the way to their favourite hunting grounds. But 
there was another and shorter route to this area available 
to the U-boats. And here I must correct another widely 
prevailing misapprehension. While the war was going on 
many accounts were published in the newspapers describing 
the barrage across the English Channel, from Dover to 
Calais, and the belief was general that this barrier kept ttie 
U-boats from passing through. Unfortunately this was 
not the case. The surface boats did succeed in transporting 
almost at will troops and supplies across this narrow pas- 
sage-way ; but the mines, nets, and other obstructions that 


were intended to prevent the passage of submarines were 
not particularly effective. The British navy knew little 
about mines in 1914 ; British naval men had always rather 
despised them as the " weapons of the weaker power," and 
it is therefore not surprising that the so-called mine barrage 
at the Channel crossing was not successful. A large part of 
it was carried away by the strong tide and storms, and the 
mines were so defective that oysters and other sea growths, 
which attached themselves to their prongs, made many of 
them harmless. In 1918, Admiral Sir Roger Keyes recon- 
structed this barrage with a new type of mine and trans- 
formed it into a really effective barrier ; but in the spring 
of 1917, the German U-boats had little difficulty in slipping 
through, particularly in the night time. And from this 
point the distance to the trade routes south and west of 
Ireland was relatively a short one. 

Yet, terribly destructive as these U-boats were, the 
number which were operating simultaneously in this and 
in other fields was never very large. The extent to which 
the waters were infested with German submarines was 
another particularly ludicrous and particularly prevalent 
misapprehension. Merchant vessels constantly reported 
that they had been assailed by " submarines in shoals," and 
most civilians still believe that they sailed together in 
flotillas, like schools of fish. There is hardly an American 
doughboy who did not see at least a dozen submarines on 
his way across the Atlantic ; every streak of suds which was 
caused by a " tide rip," and every swimming porpoise, was 
immediately mistaken for the wake of a torpedo ; and every 
bit of driftwood, in the fervid imagination of trans-Atlantic 
voyagers, immediately assumed the shape of a periscope. 
Yet it is a fact that we knew almost every time a German 
submarine slunk from its base into the ocean. The Allied 
secret service was immeasurably superior to that of the 
Germans, and in saying this I pay particular tribute to the 
British Naval Intelligence Department. We always knew 
how many submarines the Germans had and we could 
usually tell pretty definitely their locations at a particular 
time ; we also had accurate information about building 
operations in Germany ; thus we could estimate how many 
they were building and where they were building them, and 
we could also describe their essential characteristics, and the 
stage of progress they which had reached at almost any 'day. 


It was not the simplest thing to pilot a submarine out of 
its base. The Allies were constantly laying mines at these 
outlets ; and before the U-boat could safely make its exit 
elaborate sweeping operations were necessary. It often 
took a squadron of nine or ten surface ships, working for 
several hours, to manoeuvre a submarine out of its base and 
to start it on its journey. For these reasons we could keep 
a careful watch upon its movements ; we always knew 
when one of our enemies came out ; we knew which one it 
was, and not infrequently we had learned the name of the 
commander and other valuable details. Moreover, we 
knew where it went, and we kept charts on which we plotted 
from day to day the voyage of each particular submarine. 

" Why didn't you sink it then ? " is the question usually 
asked when I make this statement a question which, as I 
shall show, merely reflects the ignorance which prevails 
everywhere on the underlying facts of submarine warfare. 

Now in this densely packed shipping area, which ex- 
tended from the north of Ireland to Brest, there were 
seldom more than eight or ten submarines engaged in their 
peculiar form of warfare at one time. The largest number 
which I had any record of was fifteen ; and this was an 
exceptional force ; the usual number was four, six, eight, or 
perhaps ten. Yet the men upon our merchant convoys and 
troopships saw submarines scattered all over the sea. We 
estimated that the convoys and troopships reported that 
they had sighted about 300 submarines for every submarine 
which was actually in the field. Yet we knew that for 
every hundred submarines which the Germans possessed 
they could keep only ten or a dozen at work in the open sea. 
The rest were on their way to the hunting grounds, or 
returning, or they were in port being refitted and taking on 
supplies. Could Germany have kept fifty submarines con- 
stantly at work on the great shipping routes in the winter 
and spring of 1917 before we had learned how to handle 
the situation nothing could have prevented her from 
winning the war. Instead of sinking 850,000 tons in a 
single month, she would have sunk 2,000,000 or 3,000,000 
tons. The fact is that Germany, with all her microscopic 
preparations for war, neglected to provide herself with the 
one instrumentality with which she might have won it. 

This circumstance, that so few submarines could accom- 
plish such destructive results, shows how formidable was 


the problem which confronted us. Germany could do this, 
of course, because the restricted field in which she was able 
to operate was so constantly and so densely infested with 
valuable shipping. 

In the above I have been describing the operations of the 
U-boats in the great area to the west and south of Ireland. 
But there were other hunting fields, particularly that which 
lay on the east coast of England, in the area extending from 
Harwich to Newcastle. This part of the North Sea was 
constantly filled with ships passing between the North 
Sea ports of England and Norway and Sweden, carrying 
essential products like lumber and many manufactured 
articles. Every four days a convoy of from forty to sixty 
ships left some port in this region for Scandinavia ; I use 
the word " convoy," but the operation was a convoy only 
in the sense that the ships sailed in groups, for the navy was 
not able to provide them with an adequate escort seldom 
furnishing them more than one or two destroyers, or a few 
yachts or trawlers. Smaller types of submarines which 
were known as UB's and UC's and which issued from Wil- 
helmshaven and the Skager Rack constantly preyed upon 
this coastal shipping. These submarines differed from the 
U-boats in that they were smaller, displacing about 350 and 
400 tons, and in that they also carried mines, which they 
were constantly laying. They were much' handier than the 
larger types ; they could rush out much more quickly from 
their bases and get back, and they did an immense amount 
of damage to this coastal trade. The value of the shipping 
sunk in these waters was unimportant when compared with 
the losses which Great Britain was suffering on the great 
trans- Atlantic routes, but the problem was still aserious one, 
because the supplies which these ships brought from the 
Scandinavian countries were essential to the military opera- 
tions in France. 

Besides these two types, the U-boats and the UB's and 
UC's, the Germans had another type of submarine, the 
great ocean cruisers. These ships were as long as a small 
surface cruiser and were half again as long as a destroyer, 
and their displacement sometimes reached 3,000 tons. 
They carried crews of seventy men, could cross the Atlantic 
three or four times without putting into port, and some 
actually remained away from their bases for three or four 
months. But they were vessels very difficult to manage ; 


it took them a relatively long time to submerge, and, for 
this reason, they could not operate around the Channel and 
other places where the anti-submarine craft were most 
numerous. In fact, these vessels, of which the Germans 
had in commission perhaps half a dozen when the armistice 
was signed, accomplished little in the war. The purpose 
for which they were built was chiefly a strategic one. One 
or two were usually stationed off the Azores, not in any 
expectation that they would destroy much shipping the 
fact is that they sank very few merchantmen but in the 
hope that they might divert anti-submarine craft from the 
main theatre of operations. In this purpose, however, they 
were not successful ; in fact, I cannot see that these great 
cruisers accomplished anything that justified the expense 
and the trouble which were involved in building them. 


This, then, was the type of warfare which the German 
submarines were waging upon the shipping of the Allied 
nations. What were the Allied navies doing to check them 
in this terrible month of April, 1917 ? What anti-sub- 
marine methods had been developed up to that time ? 

The most popular game on both sides of the Atlantic was 
devising means of checking the under-water ship. Every 
newspaper, every magazine, every public man, and every 
gentleman at his club had a favourite scheme for defeating 
the U-boat campaign. All that any one needed for this 
engaging pastime was a map of the North Sea, and the 
solution appeared to be as clear as daylight. As Sir Eric 
Geddes once remarked to me, nothing is quite so deceptive 
as geography. All of us are too likely to base our con- 
ception of naval problems on the maps which we studied at 
school. On these maps the North Sea is such a little place ! 
A young lady once declared in my hearing that she didn't 
see how the submarines could operate in the English 
Channel, it was so narrow ! She didn't see how there was 
room enough to turn around ! The fact that it is twenty 
miles wide at the shortest crossing and not far from two 
hundred at the widest is something which it is apparently 
difficult to grasp. 

The plan which was most popular in those days was to 
pen the submarines in their bases and so prevent their 


egress into the North Sea. Obviously the best way to 
handle the situation was to sink the whole German sub- 
marine fleet ; that was apparently impossible, and the next 
best thing was to keep them in their home ports and prevent 
them from sailing the high seas. It was not only the man 
in the street who was advocating this programme. I had a 
long talk with several prominent Government officials, in 
which they asked me why this could not be done. 

" I can give you fourteen reasons why it is impossible," 
I answered. " We shall first have to capture the bases, 
and it would be simply suicidal to attempt it, and it 
would be playing directly into Germany's hands. Those 
bases are protected by powerful 15-, 11-, and 8-inch guns. 
These are secreted behind hills or located in pits on the 
seashore, where no approaching vessel can see them. 
Moreover, those guns have a range of 40,000 yards, but 
the guns on no ships have a range of more than 30,000 
yards ; they are stationary, whereas ours would be 
moving. For our ships to go up against such emplace- 
ments would be like putting a blind prize-fighter up 
against an antagonist who can see and who has arms 
twice as long as his enemy's. We can send as many 
ships as we wish on such an expedition, and they will 
all be destroyed. The German guns would probably get 
them on the first salvo, certainly on the second. There is 
nothing the Germans would so much like to have us try." 

Another idea suggested by a glance at the map was the 
construction of a barrage across the North Sea from the 
Orkneys to the coast of Norway. The distance did not 
seem so very great on the map ; in reality, it was two 
hundred and thirty miles and the water is from 360 to 
960 feet in depth. If we cannot pen the rats up in their 
holes, said the newspaper strategist, certainly we can do 
the next best thing : we can pen them up in the North 
Sea. Then we can route all our shipping to points on 
the west coast of England, and the problem is solved. 

I discussed this proposition with British navy men and 
their answer was quite to the point. 

" If we haven't mines enough to build a successful 
barrage across the Straits of Dover, which is only twenty 
miles wide, how can we construct a barrage across the 
North Sea, which is 230 ?" 

A year afterward, as will be shown later, this plan came 


up in more practical form, but in 1917 the idea was not 
among the possibilities there were not mines enough in 
the world to build such a barrage, nor had a mine then 
been invented that was suitable for the purpose. 

The belief prevailed in the United States, and, to a 
certain extent, in England itself, that the most effective 
means of meeting the submarine was to place guns and 
gun crews on all the mercantile vessels. Even some of 
the old British merchant salts maintained this view. 
" Give us a gun, and we'll take care of the submarines 
all right," they kept saying to the Admiralty. But the 
idea was fundamentally fallacious. In the American 
Congress, just prior to the declaration of war, the arming 
of merchant ships became a great political issue ; scores 
of pages in the Congressional Record are filled with debates 
on this subject, yet, so far as affording any protection to 
shipping was concerned, all this was wasted oratory. 
Those who advocated arming the merchant ships as an 
effective method of counteracting submarine campaigns 
had simply failed to grasp the fundamental elements of 
submarine warfare. They apparently did not understand 
the all -import ant fact that the quality which makes the 
submarine so difficult to deal with is its invisibility. The 
great political issue which was involved in the submarine 
controversy, and the issue which brought the United 
States into the war, was that the Germans were sinking 
merchant ships without warning. And it was because of 
this very fact this sinking without warning that a 
dozen guns on a merchant ship afforded practically no 
protection. The look-out on a merchantman could not 
see the submarine, for the all-sufficient reason that the 
submarine was concealed beneath the water ; it was only 
by a happy chance that the most penetrating eye could 
detect the periscope, provided that one were exposed. 
The first intimation which was given the merchantman 
that a U-boat was in his neighbourhood was the explosion 
of the torpedo in his hull. In six weeks, in the spring 
and early summer of 1917, thirty armed merchantmen 
were torpedoed and sunk off Queenstown, and in no case 
was a periscope or a conning-tower seen. The English 
never trusted their battleships at sea without destroyer 
escort, and certainly if a battleship with its powerful 
armament could not protect itself from submarines, it was 


too much to expect that an ordinary armed merchantman 
would be able to do so. I think the fact that few American 
armed ships were attacked and sunk in 1917 created the 
impression that their guns afforded them some protection. 
But the apparent immunity extended to them was really 
policy on Germany's part. She expected, as I have said, 
that she would win the war long before the United States 
could play an effective role in the struggle. It was there- 
fore good international politics to refrain from any 
unnecessary acts that would still further embitter the 
American people against her. There was also a consider- 
able pacifist element in our country which Germany was 
coddling in the hope of preventing the United States from 
using against her such forces as we already had at hand. 
The reason American armed merchantmen were not sunk 
was simply because they were not seriously attacked ; I 
have already shown how easily Germany could have sunk 
them if she had really tried. Any reliance upon armed 
guards as a protection against submarines would have 
been fundamentally a mistake, for the additional reason 
that it was a defensive measure ; it 'must be apparent that 
the extremely grave situation which we were then facing 
demanded the most energetic offensive methods. Yet the 
arming of merchant ships was justified as a minor measure. 
It accomplished the one important end of forcing the 
submarine to submerge and to use torpedoes instead of 
gunfire. In itself this was a great gain ; obviously the 
Germans would much prefer to sink ships with projectiles 
than with torpedoes, for their supply of these latter mis- 
siles was limited. 1 

In April, 1917, the British navy was fighting the sub- 
marine mainly in two ways : it was constantly sowing 
mines off the entrance to the submarine bases, such as 
Ostend and Zeebrugge, and in the Heligoland Bight- 
operations that accomplished little, for the Germans swept 
them up almost as fast as they were planted ; and it was 
patrolling the submarine infested area with anti-submarine 
craft. The Admiralty was depending almost exclusively 
upon this patrol, yet this, the only means which then 
seemed to hold forth much promise of defeating the sub- 
marine, was making little progress. 

1 See Appendix IV for my statement to Washington on arming mer- 
chant ships. 


For this patrol the navy was impressing into service all 
the destroyers, yachts, trawlers, sea-going tugs, and other 
light vessels which could possibly be assembled ; almost 
any craft which could carry a wireless, a gun, and depth 
charges was boldly sent to sea. At this time the vessel 
chiefly used was the destroyer. The naval war had 
demonstrated that the submarine could not successfully 
battle with the destroyer ; that any U-boat which came 
to the surface within fighting range of this alert and 
speedy little surface ship ran great risk of being sunk. 
This is the fundamental fact that the destruction of the 
submarine was highly probable, in case the destroyer 
could get a fair chance at her which regulated the whole 
anti-submarine campaign. It is evident, therefore, that 
a proper German strategy would consist in so disposing 
its submarines that they could conduct their operations 
with the minimum risk of meeting their most effective 
enemies, while a properly conceived Allied strategy would 
consist in so controlling the situation that the submarines 
would have constantly to meet them. Frankness compels 
me to say that, in the early part of 1917, the Germans 
were maintaining the upper hand in this strategic game ; 
they were holding the dominating position in the cam- 
paign, since they were constantly attacking Allied shipping 
without having to meet the Allied destroyers, while the 
Allied destroyers were dispersing their energies over the 
wide waste of waters. But the facts in the situation, and 
not any superior skill on the part of the German navy, 
were giving the submarines this advantage. The British 
were most heroically struggling against the difficulties 
imposed by the mighty task which they had assumed. 
The British navy, like all other navies, was only partially 
prepared for this type of warfare ; in 1917 it did not 
possess destroyers enough both to guard the main fighting 
fleet and to protect its commerce from submarines. Up 
to 1914, indeed, it was expected that the destroyers would 
have only one function to perform in warfare, that of 
protecting the great surface vessels from attack, but now 
the new kind of warfare which Germany was waging on 
merchant ships had laid upon the destroyer an entirely 
new responsibility ; and the plain fact is that the des- 
troyers, in the number which were required, did not exist. 

The problem which proved so embarrassing can be 


stated in the simple terms of arithmetic. Everything, as 
I have said, reduced itself to the question of destroyers. 
In April, 1917, the British navy had in commission about 
200 ships of this indispensable type ; many of them were 
old and others had been pretty badly worn and weakened 
by three years of particularly racking service. It was the 
problem of the Admiralty to place these destroyers in those 
fields in which they could most successfully serve the 
Allied cause. The one requirement that necessarily took 
precedence over all others was that a flotilla of at least 
100 destroyers must be continuously kept with the Grand 
Fleet, ready to go into action at a moment's notice. It is 
clear from this statement of the case that the naval policy 
of the Germans, which consisted in holding their high seas 
battle fleet in harbour and in refusing to fight the Allied 
navy, had an important bearing upon the submarine 
campaign. So long as there was the possibility of such 
an engagement, the British Grand Fleet had to keep itself 
constantly prepared for such a crisis ; and an indispensable 
part of this preparation was to maintain always in readi- 
ness its flotilla of protecting destroyers. Had the German 
fleet seriously engaged in a great sea battle, it would have 
unquestionably been defeated ; such a defeat would have 
meant an even greater disaster than the loss of the battle- 
ships, a loss which in itself would not greatly have changed 
the naval situation. But the really fatal effect of such 
a defeat would have been that it would no longer have 
been necessary for the British to sequestrate a hundred or 
more destroyers at Scapa Flow. The German battleships 
would have been sent to the bottom, and then these 
destroyers would have been used in the warfare against 
the submarines. By keeping its dreadnought fleet intact, 
always refusing to give battle and yet always threatening 
an engagement, the Germans thus were penning up 100 
British destroyers in the Orkneys destroyers which 
otherwise might have done most destructive work against 
the German submarines off the coast of Ireland. The 
mere fact that the German High Seas Fleet had once 
engaged the British Grand Fleet off Jutland was an element 
in the submarine situation, for this constantly suggested 
the likelihood that the attempt might be repeated, and 
was thus an influence which tended to keep these destroyers 
at Scapa Flow. Many times during that critical period 


the Admiralty discussed the question of releasing those 
destroyers, or a part of them, for the anti-submarine 
campaign ; yet they always decided, and they decided 
wisely, against any such hazardous division. At that 
time the German dreadnought fleet was not immeasurably 
inferior in numbers to the British ; it had a protecting 
screen of about 100 destroyers ; and it would have been 
madness for the British to have gone into battle with its 
own destroyer screen placed several hundred miles away, 
off the coast of Ireland. I lay stress upon this circum- 
stance because I find that in America the British Admiralty 
has been criticized for keeping a large destroyer force with 
the Grand Fleet, instead of detaching them for battle with 
the submarine. I think that I have made clear that this 
criticism is based upon a misconception of the whole 
naval campaign. Without this destroyer screen the 
British Grand Fleet might have been destroyed by the 
Germans ; if the Grand Fleet had been destroyed, the 
war would have ended in the defeat of the Allies ; not to 
have maintained these destroyers in northern waters would 
thus have amounted simply to betraying the cause of 
civilization and to making Germany a free gift of victory. 
Germany likewise practically immobilized a considerable 
number of British destroyers by attacking hospital ships. 
When the news of such dastardly attacks became known, 
it was impossible for Americans and Englishmen to believe 
at first that they were intentional ; they so callously 
violated all the rules of warfare and all the agreements 
for lessening the horrors of war to which Germany herself 
had become a party that there was a tendency in both 
enlightened countries to give the enemy the benefit of the 
doubt. As a matter of fact, not only were the submarine 
attacks on hospital ships deliberate, but Germany had 
officially informed us that they would be made ! The 
reasons for this warning are clear enough ; again, the all- 
important role which the destroyers were playing in anti- 
submarine warfare was the point at issue. Until we 
received such warning, hospital ships had put to sea 
unescorted by warships, depending for their safety upon 
the rules of the Hague Conference. Germany attacked 
these ships in order to make us escort them with destroyers, 
and thereby compel us to divert these destroyers from 
the anti-submarine campaign. And, of course, England 


was forced to acquiesce in this German programme. Had 
the Anglo-Saxon mind resembled the Germanic in all 
probability we should have accepted the logic of the 
situation ; we should have refused to be diverted from 
the great strategic purpose which meant winning the war 
that is, protecting merchant shipping ; in other words, 
we should have left the hospital ships to their fate, and 
justified ourselves and stilled our consciences by the 
principle of the greater good. But the British and the 
American minds do not operate that way ; it was impos- 
sible for us to leave sick and wounded men as prey to 
submarines. Therefore, after receiving the German warn- 
ing, backed up, as it was, by the actual destruction of 
unprotected hospital ships, we began providing them with 
destroyer escorts. This greatly embarrassed us in the 
anti-submarine campaign, for at times, especially during 
the big drives, we had a large number of hospital ships 
to protect. As soon as we adopted this policy, Germany, 
having attained her end, which was to keep the destroyers 
out of the submarine area, stopped attacking sick and 
wounded soldiers. Yet we still were forced to provide 
these unfortunates with destroyer escorts, for, had we 
momentarily withdrawn these protectors, the German 
submarines would immediately have renewed their attacks 
on hospital ships. 

Not only was the British navy at that time safeguarding 
the liberties of mankind at sea, but its army in France 
was doing its share in safeguarding them on land. And 
the fact that Britain had to support this mighty army had 
its part in making British shipping at times almost an 
easy prey for the German submarines. For next in im- 
portance to maintaining the British Grand Fleet intact it 
was necessary to keep secure the channel crossing. Over 
this little strip of water were transported the men and the 
supplies from England to France that kept the German 
army at bay ; to have suspended these communications, 
even for a brief period, would have meant that the Ger- 
mans would have captured Paris, overrun the whole of 
France, and ended the war, at least the war on land. In 
the course of four years Great Britain transported about 
20,000,000 people across the Channel without the loss of 
a single soul. She accomplished this only by constantly 
using many destroyers and other light surface craft as 


escorts for the transports. But this was not the only 
responsibility of the kind that rested on the overburdened 
British shoulders. There was another part of the seas 
in which, for practical and political reasons, the British 
destroyer fleet had to do protective duty. In the Mediter- 
ranean lay not only the trade routes to the East, but also 
the lines of supply which extended to Italy, to Egypt, to 
Palestine, and to Mesopotamia. If Germany could have 
cut off Italy's food and materials Italy would have been 
forced to withdraw from the war. The German and Aus- 
trian submarines, escaping from Austria's Adriatic ports, 
were constantly assailing this commerce, attempting to 
do this very thing. Moreover, the success of the German 
submarine campaign in these waters would have compelled 
the Allies to abandon the Salonika expedition, which 
would have left the Central Powers absolute masters of 
the Balkans and the Middle East. For these reasons it 
was necessary to maintain a considerable force of des- 
troyers in the Mediterranean. 

For the British navy it was therefore a matter of choice 
what areas she would attempt to protect with her destroyer 
forces ; the one thing that was painfully apparent was 
that she could not satisfactorily safeguard all the danger 
zones. With the inadequate force at her disposal it was 
inevitable that certain areas should be left relatively open 
to the U-boats ; and the decision as to which ones these 
should be was simply a matter of balancing the several 
conflicting interests. In April, 1917, the Admiralty had 
decided to give the preference to the Grand Fleet, the 
hospital ships, the Channel crossing, and the Mediterranean, 
practically in the order mentioned. It is evident from 
these facts that nearly the entire destroyer fleet must have 
been disposed in these areas. This decision, all things 
considered, was the only one that was possible ; yet, 
after placing the destroyers in these selected areas, the 
great zone of trans -Atlantic shipping, west and south of 
Ireland, vitally important as it was, was necessarily left 
inadequately protected. So desperate was the situation 
that sometimes only four or five British destroyers were 
operating in this great stretch of waters ; and I do not 
think that the number ever exceeded fifteen. Inasmuch 
as that represented about the number of German 
submarines in this same area, the situation may strike 


the layman as not particularly desperate. But any such 
basis of comparison is absurd. The destroyers were oper- 
ating on the surface in full view of the submarines ; the 
submarines could submerge at any time and make them- 
selves invisible ; and herein we have the reason why the 
contest was so markedly unequal. But aside from all 
other considerations, the method of warfare adopted by 
the Allies against the U-boat was necessarily ineffective, 
but was the best that could be used until sufficient des- 
troyers became available to convoy shipping. The so-called 
submarine patrol, under the circumstances which prevailed 
at that time, could accomplish very little. This little 
fleet of destroyers was based on Queenstown ; from this 
port they put forth and patrolled the English Channel 
and the waters about Ireland in the hope that a German 
submarine would stick its nose above the waves. The 
central idea of the destroyer patrol was this one of hunt- 
ing ; the destroyer could have sunk any submarine or 
driven it away from shipping if the submarine would only 
have made its presence known. But of course this was 
precisely what the submarine declined to do. It must 
be evident to the merest novice that four or five destroyers, 
rushing around hunting for submarines which were lying 
a hundred feet or so under water, could accomplish very 
little. The under- water boat could always see its surface 
enemy long before it was itself seen and thus could save 
its life by the simple process of submerging. It must also 
be clear that the destroyer patrol could accomplish much 
only in case there were a very large number of destroyers. 
We figured that, to make the patrol system work with 
complete success, it would be necessary to have one des- 
troyer for every square mile. The area of the destroyer 
patrol off Queenstown comprised about 25,000 square 
miles ; it is apparent that the complete protection of the 
trans -Atlantic trade routes would have taken about 
25,000 destroyers. And the British, as I have said, had 
available anywhere from four to fifteen in this area. 

The destroyer flotilla being so small, it is not surprising 
that the German submarines were making ducks and drakes 
of it. The map of the sinkings which took place in April 
brings out an interesting fact : numerous as these sinkings 
were, very few merchantmen were torpedoed, in this month, 
at the entrance to the Irish Sea or in the English Channel. 


These were the narrow waters where shipping was massed 
and where the little destroyer patrol was intended to 
operate. The German submarines apparently avoided 
these waters, and made their attacks out in the open sea, 
sometimes two and three hundred miles west and south 
of Ireland. Their purpose in doing this was to draw the 
destroyer patrol out into the open sea and in that way to 
cause its dispersal. And these tactics were succeeding. 
There were six separate steamship " lanes " by which the 
merchantmen could approach the English Channel and the 
Irish Sea. One day the submarines would attack along 
one of these lanes ; then the little destroyer fleet would 
rush to this scene of operations. Immediately the Ger- 
mans would depart and attack another route many miles 
away ; then the destroyers would go pell-mell for that 
location. Just as they arrived, however, the U-boats 
would begin operating elsewhere ; and so it went on, a game 
of hide and seek in which the advantages lay all on the 
side of the warships which possessed that wonderful ability 
to make themselves unseen. At this period the submarine 
campaign and the anti-submarine campaign was really 
a case of blindman's buff ; the destroyer could never see 
the enemy while the enemy could always see the 
destroyer ; and this is the reason that the Allies were 
failing and that the Germans were succeeding. 


To show how serious the situation was, let me quote 
from the reports which I sent to Washington during this 
period. I find statements like these scattered everywhere 
in my despatches of the spring of 1917 : 

" The military situation presented by the enemy sub- 
marine campaign is not only serious but critical." 

" The outstanding fact which cannot be escaped is that 
we are not succeeding, or in other words, that the enemy's 
campaign is proving successful." 

" The consequences of failure or partial failure of the 
Allied cause which we have joined are of such far-reaching 
character that I am deeply concerned in insuring that the 
part played by our country shall stand every test of analy- 
sis before the bar of history. The situation at present 
is exceedingly grave. If sufficient United States naval 


forces can be thrown into the balance at the present critical 
time and place there is little doubt that early success will 
be assured." 

" Briefly stated, I consider that at the present moment 
we are losing the war." 1 

And now came another important question : What 
should the American naval policy be in this crisis ? There 
were almost as many conflicting opinions as there were 
minds. Certain authorities believed that our whole 
North Atlantic Fleet should be moved immediately into 
European waters. Such a manoeuvre was not only im- 
possible but it would have been strategically very unwise ; 
indeed such a disposition would have been playing directly 
into Germany's hands. What naval experts call the 
" logistics " of the situation immediately ruled this idea 
out of consideration. The one fact which made it im- 
possible to base the fleet in European waters at that time 
was that we could not have kept it supplied, particularly 
with oil. The German U-boats were making a particu- 
larly successful drive at tankers with the result that 
England had the utmost difficulty in supplying her fleet 
with this kind of fuel. It is indeed impossible to exag- 
gerate the seriousness of this oil situation. " Orders have 
just been given to use three-fifths speed, except in case 
of emergency," I reported to Washington on June 29th, 
referring to scarcity of oil. " This simply means that the 
enemy is winning the war." It was lucky for us that the 
Germans knew nothing about this particular disability. 
Had they been aware of it, they would have resorted to all 
kinds of manoeuvres in the attempt to keep the Grand 
Fleet constantly steaming at sea, and in this way they 
might so have exhausted our oil supply as possibly to 
threaten the actual command of the surface. Fortunately 
for the cause of civilization, there were certain important 
facts which the German Secret Service did not learn. 

But this oil scarcity made it impossible to move the 
Atlantic Fleet into European waters, at least at that time. 
Since most oil supplies were brought from America, we 
simply could not have fuelled our super-dreadnoughts in 
Europe in the spring and summer of 1917. Moreover, if 

1 For specimens of my reports to the Navy Department in these early 
days see Appendices II and III. 


we had sent all our big ships to England we should have 
been obliged to keep our destroyers constantly stationed 
with them ready for a great sea action ; and this would 
have completely fallen in with German plans, for then these 
destroyers could not have been used against her sub- 
marines. The British did indeed request that we send 
five coal-burning ships to reinforce her fleet and give her 
that preponderance which made its ascendancy absolutely 
secure, and these ships were subsequently sent ; but 
England could not have made provision for our greatest 
dreadnoughts, the oil burners. Indeed our big ships were 
of much greater service to the Allied cause stationed on 
this side than they would have been if they had been 
located at a European base. They were providing a 
reserve for the British fleet, precisely as our armies in 
France were providing a reserve for the Allied armies ; 
and meanwhile this disposition made it possible for us to 
send their destroyer escorts to the submarine zone, where 
they could participate in the anti-submarine campaign. 
In American waters these big ships could be kept in prime 
condition, for here they had an open, free sea for training, 
and here they could also be used to train the thousands of 
new men who were needed for the new ships constructed 
during the war. 

I early took the stand that our forces should be con- 
sidered chiefly in the light of reinforcements to the Allied 
navies, and that, ignoring all question of national pride 
and even what at first might superficially seem to be 
national interest, we should exert such offensive power as 
we possessed in the way that would best assist the Allies 
in defeating the submarine. England's naval resources 
were much greater than ours ; and therefore, in the nature 
of the case, we could not expect to maintain overseas 
anywhere near the number of ships which England had 
assembled ; consequently it should be our policy to use 
such available units as we possessed to strengthen the 
weak spots in the Allied line. There were those who 
believed that national dignity required that we should 
build up an independent navy in European waters, and 
that we should operate it as a distinct American unit. 
But that, I maintained, was not the way to win the war. 
If we had adopted this course, we should have been con- 
structing naval bases and perfecting an organization when 


the armistice was signed ; indeed, the idea of operating 
independently of the Allied fleet was not for a moment to 
be considered. There were others in America who thought 
that it was unwise to put any part of our fleet in European 
waters, in view of the dangers that might assail us on our 
own coast. There was every expectation that Germany 
would send submarines to the western Atlantic, where 
they could prey upon our shipping and could possibly 
bombard our ports ; I have already shown that she had 
submarines which could make such a long voyage, and 
the strategy of the situation in April and May, 1917, 
demanded that a move of this kind be made. The pre- 
dominant element in the submarine defence, as I have 
pointed out, was the destroyer. The only way in which 
the United States could immediately and effectively help 
the Allied navies was by sending our whole destroyer 
flotilla and all our light surface craft at once. It was 
Germany's part, therefore, to resort to every manoeuvre 
that would keep our destroyer force on this side of the 
Atlantic. Such a performance might be expected to 
startle our peaceful American population and inspire a 
public demand for protection ; and in this way our 
Government might be compelled to keep all anti-sub- 
marine craft in our own waters. I expected Germany to 
make such a demonstration immediately and I therefore 
cautioned our naval authorities at Washington not to be 
deceived. I pointed out that Germany could accomplish 
practically nothing by sporadic attacks on American 
shipping in American waters ; that, indeed, if we could 
induce the German Admiralty to concentrate all its sub- 
marine efforts on the American coasts, and leave free the 
Irish Sea and the English Channel, the war practically 
would be won for the Allies. Yet these facts were not 
apparent to the popular mind in 1917, and I shall always 
think that Germany made a great mistake in not sending 
submarines to the American coast immediately on our 
declaration of war, instead of waiting until 1918. Such 
attacks, at that time, would have started a public demand 
for protection which the Washington authorities might 
have had great difficulty in resisting, and which might 
have actually kept our destroyer fleet in American waters, 
to the great detriment of the Allied cause. Germany 
evidently refrained from doing so for reasons which I have 


already indicated a desire to deal gently with the United 
States, and in that way to delay our military preparations 
and win the war without coming into bloody conflict with 
the American people. 

There were others who thought it unwise to expose any 
part of our fleet to the dangers of the European contest ; 
their fear was that, if the Allies should be defeated, we 
would then need all our naval forces to protect the Ameri- 
can coast. This point of view, of course, w r as not only 
short-sighted and absurd, but it violated the fundamental 
principle of warfare, which is that a belligerent must 
assail his enemy as quickly as possible with the greatest 
striking power which he can assemble. Clearly our 
national policy demanded that we should exert all the 
force we could collect to make certain a German defeat. 
The best way to fight Germany was not to wait until she 
had vanquished the Allies, but to join hands with them 
in a combined effort to annihilate her military power on 
land and sea. The situation which confronted us in 
April, 1917, was one which demanded an immediate and 
powerful offensive ; the best way to protect America was 
to destroy Germany's naval power in European waters and 
thus make certain that she could not attack us at home. 

The fact is that few nations have ever been placed in so 
tragical a position as that in which Great Britain found 
herself in the spring and early summer of 1917. And I 
think that history records few spectacles more heroic than 
that of the great British navy, fighting this hideous and 
cowardly form of warfare in half a dozen places with piti- 
fully inadequate forces, but w r ith an undaunted spirit 
which remained firm even against the fearful odds which 
I have described. What an opportunity for America ! 
And it was perfectly apparent what we should do. It was 
our duty immediately to place all our available anti- 
submarine craft in those waters west and south of Ireland 
in which lay the pathways of the shipping which meant 
life or death to the Allied cause the area which England, 
because almost endless demands were being made upon 
her navy in other fields, was unable to protect. 

The first four days in London were spent collecting all 
possible data ; I had no desire to alarm Washington un- 
warrantably, yet I also believed that it would be a serious 
dereliction if all the facts were not presented precisely as 


they were. I consulted practically everyone who could 
give me essential details and wrote a cable despatch, filling 
four foolscap pages, which furnished Washington with 
its first detailed account of the serious state of the cause 
on which we had embarked. 1 

In this work I had the full co-operation of our Ambas- 
sador in London, Mr. Walter Hines Page. Mr. Page's 
whole heart and mind were bound up in the Allied cause ; 
he was zealous that his country should play worthily its 
part in this great crisis in history ; and he worked unspar- 
ingly with me to get the facts before our Government. 
A few days after sending a despatch it occurred to me that 
a message from our Ambassador might give emphasis to 
my own. I therefore wrote such a message and took it 
down to Brighton, where the American Ambassador was 
taking a little rest. I did not know just how strong a 
statement Mr. Page would care to become responsible 
for, and so I did not make this statement quite as emphatic 
as the circumstances justified. 

Mr. Page took the paper and read it carefully. Then 
he looked up. 

" It isn't strong enough," he said. " I think I can do 
better than this myself." 

He sat down and wrote the following cablegram which 
was immediately sent to the President : 

*4~ From : Ambassador Page. 
To : Secretary of State. 
Sent : 27 April 1917. 

Very confidential for Secretary and President. 

There is reason for the greatest alarm about the issue 
of the war caused by the increasing success of the German 
submarines. I have it from official sources that during 
the week ending 22nd April, 88 ships of 237,000 tons allied 
and neutral were lost. The number of vessels unsuccess- 
fully attacked indicated a great increase in the number of 
submarines in action. 

This means practically a million tons lost every month 
till the shorter days of autumn come. By that time the 
sea will be about clear of shipping. Most of the ships are 
sunk to the westward and southward of Ireland. The 
British have in that area every available anti-submarine 

1 See Appendix II. 


craft, but their force is so insufficient that they hardly 
discourage the submarines. 

The British transport of troops and supplies is already 
strained to the utmost, and the maintenance of the armies in 
the field is threatened. There is food enough here to last the 
civil population only not more than six weeks or two months. 

Whatever help the United States may render at any 
time in the future, or in any theatre of the war, our help 
is now more seriously needed in this submarine area for 
the sake of all the Allies than it can ever be needed again, 
or anywhere else. 

After talking over this critical situation with the Prime 
Minister and other members of the Government, I cannot 
refrain from most strongly recommending the immediate 
sending over of every destroyer and all other craft that 
can be of anti-submarine use. This seems to me the 
sharpest crisis of the war, and the most dangerous situa- 
tion for the Allies that has arisen or could arise. 

If enough submarines can be destroyed in the next two 
or three months the war will be won, and if we can con- 
tribute effective help immediately it will be won directly 
by our aid. I cannot exaggerate the pressing and increas- 
ing danger of this situation. Thirty or more destroyers 
and other similar craft sent by us immediately would very 
likely be decisive. 

There is no time to be lost. PAPE 

But Mr. Page and I thought that we had not completely 
done our duty even after sending these urgent messages. 
Whatever might happen, we were determined that it could 
never be charged that we had not presented the Allied 
situation in its absolutely true light. It seemed likely that 
an authoritative statement from the British Government 
would give added assurance that our statements were not 
the result of panic, and with this idea in mind, Mr. Page 
and I called upon Mr. Balfour, Foreign Secretary, who, 
in response to our request, sent a despatch to Washington 
describing the seriousness of the situation. 

All these messages made the same point : that the 
United States should immediately assemble all its de- 
stroyers and other light craft, and send them to the port 
where they could render the greatest service in the anti- 
submarine campaign Queenstown. 



THE morning of May 4, 1917, witnessed an important 
event in the history of Queenstown. The news had been 
printed in no British or American paper, yet in some 
mysterious way it had reached nearly everybody in the 
city. A squadron of American destroyers, which had 
left Boston on the evening of April 24th, had already 
been reported to the westward of Ireland and was due 
to reach Queenstown that morning. At almost the 
appointed hour a little smudge of smoke appeared in the 
distance, visible to the crowds assembled on the hills ; 
then presently another black spot appeared, and then 
another ; and finally these flecks upon the horizon assumed 
the form of six rapidly approaching warships. The Stars 
and Stripes were broken out on public buildings, on 
private houses, and on nearly all the water craft in the 
harbour ; the populace, armed with American flags, began 
to gather on the shore ; and the local dignitaries donned 
their official robes to welcome the new friends from over- 
seas. One of the greatest days in Anglo-American history 
had dawned, for the first contingent of the American 
navy was about to arrive in British waters and join hands 
with the Allies in the battle against the forces of darkness 
and savagery. 

The morning was an unusually brilliant one. The 
storms which had tossed our little vessels on the seas for 
ten days, and which had followed them nearly to the Irish 
coast, had suddenly given way to smooth water and a 
burst of sunshine. The long and graceful American ships 
steamed into the channel amid the cheers of the people 
and the tooting of all harbour craft ; the sparkling waves, 
the greenery of the bordering hills, the fruit trees already 
in bloom, to say nothing of the smiling and cheery faces 



of the welcoming Irish people, seemed to promise a fair 
beginning for our great adventure. " Welcome to the 
American colours," had been the signal of the Mary Rose, 
a British destroyer which had been sent to lead the 
Americans to their anchorage. " Thank you, I am glad 
of your company," answered the Yankee commander ; 
and these messages represented the spirit of the whole 
proceeding. Indeed there was something in these strange- 
looking American ships, quite unlike the British destroyers, 
that necessarily inspired enthusiasm and respect. They 
were long and slender ; the sunlight, falling upon their 
graceful sides and steel decks, made them brilliant objects 
upon the water ; and their business-like guns and torpedo 
tubes suggested efficiency and readiness. The fact that 
they had reached their appointed rendezvous exactly on 
time, and that they had sailed up the Queenstown harbour 
at almost precisely the moment that preparations had 
been made to receive them, emphasized this impression. 
The appearance of our officers on the decks in their un- 
familiar, closely fitting blouses, and of our men, in their 
neat white linen caps, also at once won the hearts of the 

" Sure an' it's our own byes comin' back to us," an Irish 
woman remarked, as she delightedly observed the unmis- 
takably Gaelic countenances of a considerable proportion 
of the crew. Indeed the natives of Queenstown seemed to 
regard these American bluejackets almost as their own. 
The welcome provided by these people was not of a formal 
kind ; they gathered spontaneously to cheer and to admire. 
In that part of Ireland there was probably not a family that 
did not have relatives or associations in the United States, 
and there was scarcely a home that did not possess some 
memento of America. The beautiful Queenstown Roman 
Catholic Cathedral, which stood out so conspicuously, had 
been built very largely with American dollars, and the 
prosperity of many a local family had the same trans - 
Atlantic origin. It was hardly surprising, therefore, that 
when our sailors landed for a few hours' liberty many hands 
were stretched out to welcome them. Their friends took 
them arm in arm, marched them to their homes, and enter- 
tained them with food and drink, all the time plying them 
with questions about friends and relatives in America. 
Most of these young Americans with Irish ancestry had 


never seen Ireland, but that did not prevent the warm- 
hearted people of Queenstown from hailing them as their 
own. This cordiality was appreciated, for the trip across 
the Atlantic had been very severe, with gales and rain- 
storms nearly every day. 

The senior officer in charge was Commander Joseph K. 
Taussig, whose flagship was the Wadsworth. The other 
vessels of the division and their commanding officers were 
the Conyngham, Commander Alfred W. Johnson ; the 
Porter, Lieutenant-Commander Ward K. Wortman ; the 
McDougal, Lieutenant-Commander Arther P. Fairfield ,- 
the Davis, Lieutenant -Commander Rufus F. Zogbaum ; 
and the Wainwright, Lieutenant -Commander Fred H. 
Poteet. On the outbreak of hostilities these vessels, com- 
prising our Eighth Destroyer Division, had been stationed 
at Base 2, in the York River, Virginia ; at 7 P.M. of April 
6th, the day that Congress declared war on Germany, their 
commander had received the following signal from the 
Pennsylvania, the flagship of the Atlantic Fleet : " Mobilize 
for war in accordance with Department's confidential 
mobilization plan of March 21st." From that time events 
moved rapidly for the Eighth Division. On April 14th, the 
very day on which I sent my first report on submarine con- 
ditions to Washington, Commander Taussig received a 
message to take his flotilla to Boston and there fit out for 
" long and distant service." Ten days afterward he sailed, 
with instructions to go fifty miles due east of Cape Cod and 
there to open his sealed orders. At the indicated spot 
Commander Taussig broke the seal, and read the following 
document a paper so important in history, marking as it 
does the first instructions any American naval or army 
officer had received for engaging directly in hostilities with 
Germany, that it is worth quoting in full : 


Office of Naval Operations 

Washington, D. C. 
Secret and Confidential 

To : Commander, Eighth Division, Destroyer Force, 

Atlantic Fleet, U.S.S. Wadsworth, Flagship. 
Subject : Protection of commerce near the coasts of Great 
Britain and Ireland. 


1. The British Admiralty have requested the co-operation 
of a division of American destroyers in the protection of 
commerce near the coasts of Great Britain and France. 

2. Your mission is to assist naval operations of Entente 
Powers in every way possible. 

3. Proceed to Queenstown, Ireland. Report to senior 
British naval officer present, and thereafter co-operate fully 
with the British navy. Should it be decided that your 
force act in co-operation with French naval forces your 
mission and method of co-operation under French Admiralty 
authority remain unchanged. 

Route to Queenstown. 

Boston to latitude 50 N Long. 20 W to arrive at day- 
break then to latitude 50 N Long. 12 W thence to 

When within radio communication of the British naval 
forces off Ireland, call G CK and inform the Vice-Admiral at 
Queenstown in British general code of your position, course, 
and speed. You will be met outside of Queenstown. 

4. Base facilities will be provided by the British Admiralty. 

5. Communicate your orders and operations to Rear- 
Admiral Sims at London and be guided by such instructions 
as he may give you. Make no reports of arrival to Navy 
Department direct. 


No happier selection for the command of this division 
could have been made than that of Commander Taussig. 
In addition to his qualities as a sailor, certain personal 
associations made him particularly acceptable to the British 
naval authorities. In 1900, Commander Taussig, then a 
midshipman, was a member of the naval forces which the 
United States sent to China to co-operate with other powers 
in putting down the Boxer Rebellion and rescuing the 
besieged legations in Pekin. Near Tientsin this interna- 
tional force saw its hardest fighting, and here Commander 
Taussig was wounded. While recovering from his injury, 
the young American found himself lying on a cot side by 
side w r ith an English captain, then about forty years old, 
who was in command of the Centurion and chief -of-staff to 
Admiral Seymour, who had charge of the British forces. 
This British officer was severely wounded ; a bullet had 
penetrated his lung, and for a considerable period he was 


unable to lie down. Naturally this enforced companionship 
made the two men friends. Commander Taussig had had 
many occasions to recall this association since, for his 
wounded associate was Captain John R. Jellicoe, whose 
advancement in the British navy had been rapid from that 
day onward. On this same expedition Captain Jellicoe 
became a sincere friend also of Captain McCalla, the 
American who commanded the Newark and the American 
landing force ; indeed, Jellicoe's close and cordial associa- 
tion with the American navy dates from the Boxer expedi- 
tion. Naturally Taussig had watched Jellicoe's career 
with the utmost interest ; since he was only twenty-one at 
the time, however, and the Englishman was twice his age, 
it had never occurred to him that the First Sea Lord would 
remember his youthful hospital companion. Yet the very 
first message he received, on arriving in Irish waters, was 
the following letter, brought to him by Captain Evans, the 
man designated by the British Admiralty as liaison officer 
with the American destroyers : 



I still retain very pleasant and vivid recollections of our 
association in China and I am indeed delighted that you 
should have been selected for the command of the first 
force which is coming to fight for freedom, humanity, and 
civilization. We shall all have our work cut out to subdue 
piracy. My experience in China makes me feel perfectly con- 
vinced that the two nations will work in the closest co-opera- 
tion, and I won't flatter you by saying too much about the 
value of your help. I must say this, however. There is 
no navy in the world that can possibly give us more valuable 
assistance, and there is no personnel in any navy that will 
fight better than yours. My China experience tells me this. 

If only my dear friend McCalla could have seen this day 
how glad I would have been ! 

I must offer you and all your officers and men the warmest 
welcome possible in the name of the British nation and the 
British Admiralty, and add to it every possible good wish 
from myself. May every good fortune attend you and 
speedy victory be with us. 

Yours very sincerely, 



At this same meeting Captain Evans handed the Amer- 
ican commander another letter which was just as character- 
istic as that of Admiral Jellicoe. The following lines 
constitute our officers' first introduction to Vice-Admiral 
Bayly, the officer who was to command their operations in 
the next eighteen months, and, in its brevity, its entirely 
business-like qualities, as well as in its genuine sincerity and 
kindness, it gave a fair introduction to the man : 





I hope that you and the other five officers in command 
of the U.S. destroyers in your flotilla will come and dine 
here to-night, Friday, at 7.45, and that you and three others 
will remain to sleep here so as to get a good rest after your 
long journey. Allow me to welcome you and to thank you 
for coming. 

Yours sincerely, 

Dine in undress ; no speeches. 

The first duty of the officers on arrival was to make the 
usual ceremonial calls. The Lord Mayor of Cork had 
come down from his city, which is only twelve miles from 
Queenstown, to receive the Americans, and now awaited 
them in the American consulate ; and many other citizens 
were assembled there to welcome them. One of the most 
conspicuous features of the procession was the moving 
picture operator, whose presence really had an international 
significance. The British Government itself had detailed 
him for this duty ; it regarded the arrival of our destroyers 
as a great historical event and therefore desired to preserve 
this animated record in the official archives. Crowds 
gathered along the street to watch and cheer our officers as 
they rode by ; and at the consulate the Lord Mayor, Mr. 
Butterfield, made an eloquent address, laying particular 
emphasis upon the close friendship that had always pre- 
vailed between the American and the Irish people. Other 
dignitaries made speeches voicing similar sentiments. 
This welcome concluded, Commander Taussig and his 
brother officers started up the steep hill that leads to 
Admiralty House, a fine and spacious old building. 


Here, following out the instructions of the Navy Depart- 
ment, they were to report to Vice-Admiral Bayly for duty. 
It is doing no injustice to Sir Lewis to say that our men 
regarded this first meeting with some misgiving. The 
Admiral's reputation in the British navy was well known to 
them. They knew that he was one of the ablest officers in 
the service ; but they had also heard that he was an ex- 
tremely exacting man, somewhat taciturn in his manner, 
and not inclined to be over familiar with his subordinates 
a man who did not easily give his friendship or his respect, 
and altogether, in the anxious minds of these ambitious 
young Americans, he was a somewhat forbidding figure. 
And the appearance of the Admiral, standing in his doorway 
awaiting their arrival, rather accentuated these precon- 
ceptions. He was a medium-sized man, with somewhat 
swarthy, weatherbeaten face and black hair just turning 
grey ; he stood there gazing rather quizzically at the 
Americans as they came trudging up the hill, his hands 
behind his back, his bright eyes keenly taking in every detail 
of the men, his face not showing the slightest trace of a smile. 
This struck our young men at first as a somewhat grim 
reception ; the attitude of the Admiral suggested that he 
was slightly in doubt as to the value of his new recruits, that 
he was entirely willing to be convinced, but that only deeds 
and not fine speeches of greeting would convince him. Yet 
Admiral Bayly welcomed our men with the utmost courtesy 
and dignity, and his face, as he began shaking hands, broke 
into a quiet, non-committal smile ; there was nothing about 
his manner that was effusive, there were no unnecessary 
words, yet there was a real cordiality that put our men at 
ease and made them feel at home in this strange environ- 
ment. They knew, of course, that they had come to Ireland, 
not for social diversions, but for the serious business of 
fighting the Hun, and that indeed was the only thought 
which could then find place in Admiral Bayly's mind. Up 
to this time the welcome to the Americans had taken the 
form of lofty oratorical flights, with emphasis upon the 
blood ties of Anglo-Saxondom, and the significance to 
civilization of America and Great Britain fighting side by 
side ; but this was not the kind of a greeting our men 
received from Admiral Bayly. The Admiral himself, with his 
somewhat worn uniform and his lack of ceremony, formed 
a marked contrast to the official reception by the Lord 


Mayor and his suite in their insignia of office. Entirely 
characteristic also was the fact that, instead of making a 
long speech, he made no speech at all. His chief interest 
in the Americans at that time was the assistance which they 
were likely to bring to the Allied cause ; after courteously 
greeting the officers, the first question he asked about these 
forces was : 

" When will you be ready to go to sea ? " 

Even under the most favourable conditions that is an 
embarrassing question to ask of a destroyer commander. 
There is no type of ship that is so chronically in need of 
overhauling. Even in peace times the destroyer usually 
has under way a long list of repairs ; our first contingent 
had sailed without having had much' opportunity to refit, 
and had had an extremely nasty voyage. The fact was 
that it had been rather severely battered up, although 
the flotilla was in excellent condition, considering its hard 
experience on the ocean and the six months of hard work 
which it had previously had on our coast. One ship had 
lost its fire-room ventilator, another had had condenser 
troubles on the way across, and there had been other 
difficulties. Commander Taussig, however, had sized up 
Admiral Bayly as a man to whom it would be a tactical 
error to make excuses, and promptly replied : 

; ' We are ready now, sir, that is, as soon as we finish 
refuelling. Of course you know how destroyers are 
always wanting something done to them. But this is 
war, and we are ready to make the best of things and go 
to sea immediately." 

The Admiral was naturally pleased with the spirit indi- 
cated by this statement, and, with his customary con- 
sideration for his juniors, said : 

" I will give you four days from the time of arrival. 
Will that be sufficient ? " 

" Yes," answered Taussig, " that will be more than 
ample time." 

As we discovered afterward, the Admiral had a system 
of always " testing out " new men, and it is not improb- 
able that this preliminary interview was a part of this 

During the period of preparation there were certain 
essential preliminaries : it was necessary to make and to 
receive many calls, a certain amount of tea drinking was 


inevitable, and there were many invitations to dinners 
and to clubs that could not be ignored. Our officers 
made a state visit to Cork, going up in Admiral Bayly's 
barge, and returned the felicitations of the Mayor and 
his retinue. 

Naturally both the Americans and their ships became 
objects of great interest to their new allies. It was, I 
think, the first time that a destroyer flotilla had ever 
visited Great Britain, and the very appearance of the 
vessels themselves aroused the greatest curiosity. They 
bore only a general resemblance to the destroyers of the 
British navy. The shape of their hulls, the number and 
location of smoke pipes, the positions of guns, torpedo 
tubes, bridges, deckhouse, and other details gave them 
quite a contrasting profile. The fact that they were 
designed to operate under different conditions from the 
British ships accounted for many of these divergences. 
We build our destroyers with the widest possible cruising 
radius ; they are expected to go to the West Indies, to 
operate from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and in general 
to feel at home anywhere in the great stretch of waters 
that surround our country. British destroyers, on the 
other hand, are intended to operate chiefly in the restricted 
waters around the British Isles, where the fuelling and 
refitting facilities are so extensive that they do not have 
to devote much space to supplies of this kind. The 
result is that our destroyers can keep the sea longer than 
the British ; on the other hand, the British are faster 
than ours, and they can also turn more quickly. These 
differences were of course a subject of much discussion 
among the observers at Queenstown, and even of animated 
argument. Naturally, the interest of the destroyer 
officers of the two services in the respective merits of 
their vessels was very keen. They examined minutely all 
features that were new to them in the design and arrange- 
ment of guns, torpedoes, depth charges, and machines, 
freely exchanged information, and discussed proposed 
improvements in the friendliest possible spirit. Strangely 
enough, although the American destroyers carried greater 
fuel supplies than the British, they were rather more 
dainty and graceful in their lines, a fact which inspired a 
famous retort which rapidly passed through the ranks of 
both navies. 


** You know," remarked a British officer to an American, 
" I like the British destroyers better than the American. 
They look so much sturdier. Yours seem to me rather 
feminine in appearance." 

" Yes," replied the American, " that's so, but you must 
remember what Kipling says, ' The female of the species 
is more deadly than the male.' ' 

The work of the Americans really began on the Sunday 
which followed their arrival ; by this time they had 
established cordial relations with Admiral Bayly and were 
prepared to trust themselves unreservedly in his hands. 
He summoned the officers on this Sunday morning and 
talked with them a few moments before they started for 
the submarine zone ; the time of their departure had been 
definitely fixed for the next day. In the matter of cere- 
monial greetings the Admiral was not strong, but when it 
came to discussing the business in hand he was the master 
of a convincing eloquence. The subject of his discourse 
was the responsibility that lay before our men ; he spoke 
in sharp, staccato tones, making his points with the 
utmost precision, using no verbal flourishes or unnecessary 
words looking at our men perhaps a little fiercely, and 
certainly impressing them with the fact that the work 
which lay before them was to be no summer holiday. 
As soon as the destroyers passed beyond the harbour 
defences, the Admiral began, death constantly lay before 
the men until they returned. There was only one safe 
rule to follow ; days and even weeks might go by without 
seeing a submarine, but the men must assume that one 
was constantly watching them, looking for a favourable 
opportunity to discharge its torpedo. " You must not 
relax attention for an instant, or you may lose an oppor- 
tunity to destroy a submarine or give her a chance to 
destroy you." It was the present intention to send the 
American destroyers out for periods of six days, giving 
them two days' rest between trips, and about once a 
month they were to have five days in port for boiler 
cleaning. And now the Admiral gave some details about 
the practical work at sea. Beware, he said, about ram- 
ming periscopes ; these were frequently mere decoys for 
bombs and should be shelled. In picking up survivors 
of torpedoed vessels the men must be careful not to stop 
until thoroughly convinced that there were no submarines 



in the neighbourhood : " You must not risk the loss of 
your vessel in order to save the lives of a few people." 

The Admiral proclaimed the grim philosophy of this 
war when he told our men that it would be their first duty, 
should they see a ship torpedoed, not to go to the rescue 
of the survivors, but to go after the submarine. The 
three imperative duties of the destroyers were, in the 
order named : first, to destroy submarines ; second, to 
convoy and protect merchant shipping ; and third, to 
save the lives of the passengers and crews of torpedoed 
ships. No commander should ever miss an opportunity 
to destroy a submarine merely because there were a few 
men and women in small boats or in the water who might 
be saved. Admiral Bayly explained that to do this would 
be false economy : sinking a submarine meant saving far 
more lives than might be involved in a particular instance, 
for this vessel, if spared, would simply go on constantly 
destroying human beings. The Admiral then gave a 
large number of instructions in short, pithy sentences : 
" Do not use searchlights ; do not show any lights what- 
ever at night ; do not strike any matches ; never steam 
at a slower rate than thirteen knots ; always zigzag, 
thereby preventing the submarine from plotting your 
position ; always approach a torpedoed vessel with the 
sun astern ; make only short signals ; do not repeat the 
names of vessels ; carefully watch all fishing vessels they 
may be submarines in disguise they even put up masts, 
sails, and funnels in this attempt to conceal their true 
character." The Admiral closed his remarks with a warn- 
ing based upon his estimate of the character and methods 
of the enemy. In substance he said that were it not 
for the violations of the dictates of humanity and the 
well-established chivalry of the sea, he would have the 
greatest respect for the German submarine commanders. 
He cautioned our officers not to underrate them, and par- 
ticularly emphasized their cleverness at what he termed 
" the art of irregularity." He explained this by saying 
that up to that time he had been unable to deduce from 
their operations any definite plan or tactics, and advised 
our commanders also to guard against any regularity of 
movement ; they should never, for example, patrol from 
one corner to another of their assigned squares in the 
submarine zone, or adopt any other uniform practice 


which the enemy might soon perceive and of which he 
would probably take advantage. 

At the very moment that Admiral Bayly was giving 
these impressive instructions the submarine campaign had 
reached its crisis ; the fortunes of the Allies had never 
struck so low a depth as at that time. An incident con- 
nected with our arrival, not particularly important in 
itself, brought home to our men the unsleeping vigilance 
of the enemy with whom they had to deal. 

Perhaps the Germans did not actually have advance 
information of the arrival of this first detachment of our 
destroyers ; but they certainly did display great skill in 
divining what was to happen. At least it was a remark- 
able coincidence that for the first time in many months a 
submarine laid a mine-field directly off the entrance to 
Queenstown the day before our ships arrived. Soon 
afterward a parent ship of the destroyers reached this port 
and encountered the same welcome ; and soon after that 
a second parent ship found a similar mine-field awaiting 
her arrival. The news that our destroyers had reached 
Queenstown actually appeared in the German papers 
several days before we had released it in the British and 
American press. Thanks to the vigilance and efficiency 
of the British mine-sweepers, however, the enemy gained 
nothing from all these preparations, for the channel was 
cleared of German mines before our vessels reached port. 

The night before the destroyers arrived, while some of 
the officers of my staff were dining with Admiral Bayly, 
the windows were shaken by heavy explosions made by 
the mines which the sweepers were dragging out. Admiral 
Bayly jokingly remarked that it was really a pity to inter- 
fere with such a warm welcome as had apparently been 
planned for our crusaders. Even the next night, while 
the destroyer officers were dining at Admiralty House, 
several odd mines exploded outside the channel that had 
been swept the previous day. This again impressed our 
men with the fact that the game which they had now 
entered was quite a different affair from their peace-time 

The Germans at that time were jubilant over the progress 
of their submarine campaign and, indeed, they had good 
reason to be. The week that our first flotilla reached Irish 
waters their submarines had destroyed 240,000 tons of 


Allied shipping ; if the sinking should keep up at this 
rate, it meant losses of 1,000,000 tons a month and an 
early German victory. 

In looking over my letters of that period, I find many 
references that picture the state of the official mind. All 
that time I was keeping closely in touch with Ambassador 
Page, who was energetically seconding all my efforts to 
bring more American ships across the Atlantic. 

" It remains a fact," I wrote our Ambassador, " that at 
present the enemy is succeeding and that we are failing. 
Ships are being sunk faster than they can be replaced by 
the building facilities of the world. This simply means 
that the enemy is winning the war. There is no mystery 
about that. The submarines are rapidly cutting the 
Allies' lines of communication. When they are cut, or 
sufficiently interfered with, we must accept the enemy's 

Six days before our destroyers put in at Queenstown I 
sent this message to Mr. Page : 

Allies do not now command the sea. Transport of troops 
and supplies strained to the utmost and the maintenance 
of the armies in the field is threatened. 

Such, then, was the situation when our little destroyer 
flotilla first went to sea to do battle with the submarine. 


Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, who now became the com- 
mander of the American destroyers at Queenstown, so far 
as their military operations were concerned, had spent 
fifty years in the British navy, forty years of this time 
actually at sea. This ripe experience, combined with a 
great natural genius for salt water, had made him one 
of the most efficient men in the service. In what I have 
already said, I may have given a slightly false impression 
of the man ; that he was taciturn, that he was generally 
regarded as a hard taskmaster, that he never made friends 
at the first meeting, that he was more interested in results 
than in persons all this is true ; yet these qualities merely 
concealed what was, at bottom, a generous, kindly, and 
even a warm-hearted character. Admiral Bayly was so 


retiring and so modest that he seemed almost to have 
assumed these exterior traits to disguise his real nature. 
When our men first met the Admiral they saw a man 
who would exact their last effort and accept no excuses 
for failure ; when admitted to more intimate association, 
however, they discovered that this weather-beaten sailor 
had a great love for flowers, for children, for animals, for 
pictures, and for books ; that he was deeply read in 
general literature, in history, and in science, and that 
he had a knowledge of their own country and its institu- 
tions which many of our own officers did not possess. 
Americans have great reason to be proud of the achieve- 
ments of their naval men, and one of the most praise- 
worthy was the fact that they became such intimate 
friends of Admiral Bayly. For this man's nature was so 
sincere that he could never bring himself to indulge in 
friendships which he deemed unw r orthy. Early in his 
association with our men, he told them bluntly that any 
success he and they might have in getting on together 
would depend entirely upon the manner in which they 
performed their work. If they acquitted themselves 
creditably, well and good ; if not, he should not hesitate 
to find fault with them. It is thus a tribute to our officers 
that in a very short time they and Admiral Bayly had 
established relations which were not only friendly but 
affectionate. Not long after our destroyers arrived at 
Queenstown most of the British destroyers left to re- 
inforce the hard-driven flotillas in the Channel and the 
North Sea, so that the destroyer forces at Queenstown 
under Admiral Bayly became almost exclusively American, 
though they worked with many British vessels sloops, 
trawlers, sweepers, and mystery ships, in co-operation 
with British destroyers and other vessels in the north and 
other parts of Ireland. The Admiral watched over our 
ships and their men with the jealous eye of a father. He 
always referred to his command as " my destroyers " and 
" my Americans," and woe to anyone who attempted to 
interfere with them or do them the slightest injustice ! 
Admiral Bayly would fight for them, against the combined 
forces of the whole British navy, like a tigress for her cubs. 
He constantly had a weather eye on Plymouth, the main 
base of the British destroyers, to see that the vessels from 
that station did their fair share of the work. Once or 


twice a dispute arose between an American destroyer com- 
mander and a British ; in such cases Admiral Bayly vigor- 
ously took the part of the American. " You did per- 
fectly right," he would say to our men, and then he would 
turn all his guns against the interfering Britisher. Rela- 
tions between the young Americans and the experienced 
Admiral became so close that they would sometimes go to 
him with their personal troubles ; he became not only 
their commander, but their confidant and adviser. 

There was something in these bright young chaps from 
overseas, indeed, so different from anything which he had 
ever met before, that greatly appealed to this seasoned 
Englishman. One thing that he particularly enjoyed was 
their sense of humour. The Admiral himself had a keen 
wit and a love of stories ; and he also had the advantage, 
which was not particularly common in England, of under- 
standing American slang and American anecdotes. There 
are certain stories which apparently only an upbringing on 
American soil qualifies one to appreciate ; yet Admiral 
Bayly always instantly got the point. He even took a 
certain pride in his ability to comprehend the American 
joke. One of the regular features of life at Queenstown 
was a group of retired British officers fine, white-haired 
old gentlemen who could take no active part in the war but 
who used to find much consolation in coming around to 
smoke their pipes and to talk things over at Admiralty 
House. Admiral Bayly invariably found delight in encour- 
aging our officers to entertain these rare old souls with 
American stories ; their utter bewilderment furnished 
him endless entertainment. The climax of his pleasure 
came when, after such an experience, the old men would 
get the Admiral in a corner, and whisper to him : " What 
in the world do they mean ? " 

The Admiral was wonderfully quick at repartee, as our 
men found when they began " joshing " him on British 
peculiarities, for as naval attache he had travelled exten- 
sively in the United States, had observed most of our 
national eccentricities, and thus was able promptly " to 
come back." In such contests our men did not invariably 
come off with all the laurels. Yet, despite these modern 
tendencies, Admiral Bayly was a conservative of the con- 
servatives, having that ingrained British respect for old 
things simply because they were old. An ancient British 


custom requires that at church on Sundays the leading 
dignitary in each community shall mount the reading 
desk and read the lessons of the day ; Admiral Bayly 
would perform this office with a simplicity and a reverence 
which indicated the genuinely religious nature of the 
man. And in smaller details he was likewise the ancient, 
tradition-loving Briton. He would never think of writing 
a letter to an equal or superior officer except in longhand ; 
to use a typewriter for such a purpose would have been 
profanation in his eyes. I once criticized a certain 
Admiral for consuming an hour or so in laboriously penning 
a letter which could have been dictated to a stenographer 
in a few minutes. 

" How do you ever expect to win the war if you use 
up time this way ? " I asked. 

" I'd rather lose the war," the Admiral replied, but with 
a twinkle in his eye, " than use a typewriter to my chiefs ! " 

Our officers liked to chaff the Admiral quietly on this 
conservatism. He frequently had a number of them to 
breakfast, and upon one such occasion the question was 
asked as to why the Admiral ate an orange after breakfast, 
instead of before, as is the custom in America. 

" I can tell you why," said Commander Zogbaum. 

" Well, why is it ? " asked the Admiral. 

" Because that's what William the Conqueror used to 

" I can think of no better reason than that for doing 
it," the Admiral promptly answered. But this remark 
tickled him immensely, and became a byword with him. 
Ever afterward, whenever he proposed to do something 
which the Americans regarded as too conservative, he 
would say : 

" You know that this is what William the Conqueror 
used to do ! " 

Yet in one respect the Admiral was all American ; he 
was a hard worker even to the point of hustle. He insisted 
on the strictest attention to the task in hand from his 
subordinates, but at least he never spared himself. After 
he had arrived at Queenstown, two years before our 
destroyers put in, he proceeded to reorganize Admiralty 
House on the most business-like basis. The first thing he 
pounced upon was the billiard-room in the basement. 
He decided that it would make an excellent plotting-room, 


and that the billiard-tables could be transformed into 
admirable drawing-boards for his staff ; he immediately 
called the superintendent and told him to make the 
necessary transformations. 

" All right," said the superintendent. " We'll start 
work on them to-morrow morning." 

" No, you won't," Admiral Bayly replied. " We pro- 
pose to be established in this room using these tables 
to-morrow morning. They must be all ready for use by 
eight o'clock." 

And he was as good as his word ; the workmen spent 
the whole night making the changes. At the expense of 
considerable personal comfort he also caused one half of 
the parlour of Admiralty House to be partitioned off as 
an office and the wall thus formed covered with war maps. 

These incidents are significant, not only of Admiral 
Bayly's methods, but of his ideals. In his view, if a 
billiard room could be made to serve a war purpose, it 
had no proper place in an Admiralty house which was the 
headquarters for fighting German submarines. The chief 
duty of all men at that crisis was work, and their one 
responsibility was the defeat of the Hun. Admiralty 
House was always open to our officers ; they spent many 
a delightful evening there around the Admiral's fire ; 
they were constantly entertained at lunch and at dinner, 
and they were expected to drop in for tea whenever they 
were in port. But social festivities in the conventional 
sense were barred. No ladies, except the Admiral's rela- 
tives, ever visited the place. Some of the furnishings 
were rather badly worn, but the Admiral would make no 
requisitions for new rugs or chairs ; every penny in the 
British exchequer, he insisted, should be used to carry on 
the war. He was scornfully critical of any naval officers 
who made a lavish display of silver on their tables ; money 
should be spent for depth charges, torpedoes, and twelve- 
inch shells, not for ostentation. He was scrupulousness 
itself in observing all official regulations in the matter of 
food and other essentials. 

For still another reason the Admiral made an ideal com- 
mander of American naval forces. He was a strict teeto- 
taller. His abstention was not a war measure ; he had 
always had a strong aversion to alcohol in any form and 
had never drank a cocktail or a brandy and soda in his 


life. Dinners at Admiralty House, therefore, were abso- 
lutely " dry," and in perfect keeping with American naval 

Though Admiral Bayly was not athletic his outdoor 
games being limited to tip-and-run cricket in the Admiralty 
grounds, which he played with a round bat and a tennis 
ball he was a man of wiry physique and a tireless walker. 
Indeed the most active young men in our navy had great 
difficulty in keeping pace with him. One of his favourite 
diversions on a Saturday afternoon was to take a group on 
a long tramp in the beautiful country surrounding Queens - 
town ; by the time the party reached home, the Admiral, 
though sixty years old, was usually the freshest of the lot. 
I still vividly remember a long walk which I took with him 
in a pelting rain ; I recall how keenly he enjoyed it and 
how young and nimble he seemed to be when we reached 
home, drenched to the skin. A steep hill led from the 
shore up to Admiralty House ; Sir Lewis used to say that 
this was a valuable military asset it did not matter how 
angry a man might be with him when he started for 
headquarters, by the time he arrived, this wearisome 
climb always had the effect of quieting his antagonism. 
The Admiral was fond of walking up this hill with our 
young officers ; he himself usually reached the top as 
fresh as a daisy, while his juniors were frequently puffing 
for breath. 

He enjoyed testing out our men in other ways ; nothing 
delighted him more than giving them hard jobs to do 
especially when they accomplished the tasks successfully. 
One day he ordered one of our officers, Lieutenant-Com- 
mander Roger Williams, captain of the Duncan, a recent 
arrival at Queenstown, to cross the Irish Sea and bring 
back a ship. The joke lay in the fact that this man's 
destroyer had just come in with her steering gear com- 
pletely out of commission a circumstance which Admiral 
Bayly well understood. Many officers would have 
promptly asked to be excused on this ground, but not 
this determined American. He knew that the Admiral 
was trying to " put something over on him," and he rose 
to the occasion. The fact that Queenstown Harbour is 
long and narrow, not wide enough for a destroyer to turn 
around in, made Commander Williams's problem still more 
difficult, but by cleverly using his engines, he succeeded 


in backing out the distance required was five miles ; 
he took another mile and a half to turn his ship and then 
he went across the sea and brought back his convoy all 
without any steering gear. This officer never once men- 
tioned to the Admiral the difficulties under which he had 
worked, but his achievement completely won Sir Lewis's 
heart, and from that time this young man became one of 
his particular favourites. Indeed, it was the constant 
demonstration of this kind of fundamental character in 
our naval men which made the Admiral admire them so. 

On occasions Admiral Bayly would go to sea himself 
something quite unprecedented and possibly even repre- 
hensible, for it was about the same thing as a commanding 
general going into the front-line trenches. But the 
Admiral believed that doing this now and then helped to 
inspire his men ; and, besides that, he enjoyed it he 
was not made for a land sailor. He had as flagship a 
cruiser of about 5,000 tons ; he had a way of jumping on 
board without the slightest ceremony and taking a cruise 
up the west coast of Ireland. On occasion the Admiral 
would personally lead an expedition which was going to 
the relief of a torpedoed vessel, looking for survivors adrift 
in small boats. One day Admiral Bayly, Captain Pringle 
of the U.S.S. Melville, Captain Campbell, the Englishman 
whose exploits with mystery ships had given him world- 
wide fame, and myself went out on the Active to watch 
certain experiments with depth charges. It was a highly 
imprudent thing to do, because a vessel of such draft was 
an excellent target for torpedoes, but that only added to the 
zest of the occasion from Admiral Bayly's point of view. 

" What a bag this would be for the Hun ! " he chuckled. 
" The American Commander-in-Chief, the British Admiral 
commanding in Irish waters, a British and an American 
captain ! " 

In our mind's eye we could see our picture in the Berlin 
papers four distinguished prisoners standing in a row. 

A single fact shpws with what consideration Admiral 
Bayly treated his subordinates. The usual naval regula- 
tion demands that an officer, coming in from a trip, shall 
immediately seek out his commander and make a verbal 
report. Frequently the men came in late in the evening, 
extremely fatigued ; to make the visit then was a hardship 
and might deprive them of much-needed sleep. Admiral 

1917] MISS VOYSEY 59 

Bayly therefore had a fixed rule that such visits should be 
made at ten o'clock of the morning following the day of 
arrival. On such occasions he would often be found seated 
somewhat grimly behind his desk wholly absorbed in the 
work in hand. If he were writing or reading his mail he 
would keep steadily at it, never glancing up until he had 
finished. He would listen to the report stoically, possibly 
say a word of praise, and then turn again to the business 
in hand. Occasionally he would notice that his abruptness 
had perhaps pained the young American ; then he would 
break into an apologetic smile, and ask him to come up 
to dinner that evening, and even this was the greatest 
honour of all to spend the night at Admiralty House. 

These dinners were great occasions for our men, particu- 
larly as they were presided over by Miss Voysey, the Ad- 
miral's niece. Miss Voysey, the little spaniel, Patrick, and 
the Admiral constituted the " family," and the three were 
entirely devoted to one another. Pat in particular was an 
indispensable part of this menage ; I have never seen any 
object quite so crestfallen and woe-begone as this little dog 
when either Miss Voysey or the Admiral spent a day or two 
away from the house. Miss Voysey was a young woman of 
great personal charm and cultivation ; probably she was the 
influence that most contributed to the happiness and com- 
fort of our officers at Queenstown. From the day of their 
arrival she entered into the closest comradeship with the 
Americans. She kept open house for them : she was 
always on hand to serve tea in the afternoon, and she never 
overlooked an opportunity to add to their well-being. As a 
result of her delightful hospitality Admiralty House really 
became a home for our officers. Miss Voysey had a genuine 
enthusiasm for America and Americans ; possibly the fact 
that she was herself an Australian made her feel like one of 
us ; at any rate, there were certain qualities in our men that 
she found extremely congenial, and she herself certainly 
won all their hearts. Anyone who wishes to start a burst of 
enthusiasm from our officers who were stationed at Queens- 
town need only to mention the name of Miss Voysey. The 
dignity with which she presided over the Admiral's house, 
and the success with which she looked out for his comfort, 
also inspired their respect. Miss Voysey was the leader in 
all the war charities at Queenstown, and she and the Admiral 
made it their personal duty to look out for the victims of 


torpedoed ships. At whatever hour these survivors arrived 
they were sure of the most warm-hearted attentions from 
headquarters. In a large hall in the Custom House at the 
landing the Admiral kept a stock of cigarettes and tobacco, 
and the necessary gear and supplies for making and serving 
hot coffee at short notice, and nothing ever prevented him 
and his people from stationing themselves there to greet 
and serve the survivors as soon as they arrived often wet 
and cold, and semetimes wounded. Even though the Ad- 
miral might be at dinner he and Miss Voysey would leave 
their meal half eaten and hurry to the landing to welcome 
the survivors. The Admiral and his officers always insisted 
on serving them, and they would even wash the dishes and 
put them away for the next time. The Admiral, of course, 
might have ordered others to do this work, but he preferred 
to give this personal expression of a real seaman's sympathy 
for other seamen in distress. It is unnecessary to say that 
any American officers who could get there in time always 
lent a hand. I am sure that long after most of the minor 
incidents of this war have faded from my memory, I shall 
still keep a vivid recollection of this kindly gentleman, 
Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, K.C.B., K.C.M.G., C.V.O., Royal 
Navy, serving coffee to wretched British, American, French, 
Italian, Japanese, or negro sailors, with a cheering word for 
each, and afterward, with sleeves tucked up, calmly washing 
dishes in a big pan of hot water. 

I have my fears that the Admiral will not be particularly 
pleased by the fact that I have taken all these pains to intro- 
duce him to the American public. Excessive modesty is one 
of his most conspicuous traits. When American correspond- 
ents came to Queenstown, Admiral Bayly would receive 
them courteously. " You can have all you want about the 
navy," he would say, " but remember not a word about 
Lewis Bayly." He was so reticent that he was averse to 
having his picture taken ; even the moving picture operator 
detailed to get an historic record of the arrival of our 
destroyers did not obtain a good view of the Admiral, for 
whenever Sir Lewis saw him coming he would turn his back 
to the camera ! My excuse for describing this very lovable 
man, however, is because he became almost an object of 
veneration to our American officers, and because, since 
for eighteen months he was the commander of the American 
forces based on Queenstown, he is an object of legitimate 

1917] CAPTAIN E. R. G. R. EVANS 61 

interest to the American people. The fact that the Admiral 
was generally known to our officers as " Uncle Lewis," and 
that some of those who grew to know him best even called 
him that to his face, illustrates the delightful relations 
which were established. Any account of the operations of 
our navy in the European War would thus be sadly incom- 
plete which ignored the splendid sailor who was largely 
responsible for their success. 

Another officer who contributed greatly to the efficiency 
of the American forces was Captain E. R. G. R. Evans, R.N., 
who was detailed by Admiral Jellicoe at my request to act 
as liaison officer with our destroyers. No more fortunate 
selection could have been made. Captain Evans had 
earned fame as second in command of the Scott Antarctic 
expedition ; he had spent much time in the United States 
and knew our people well ; indeed when war broke out he 
was lecturing in our country on his polar experiences. A 
few days before our division arrived Captain Evans had 
distinguished himself in one of the most brilliant naval 
actions of the war. He was commander of the destroyer- 
leader Broke a " destroyer-leader " being a destroyer of 
unusually large size and in this battle three British vessels 
of this type had fought six German destroyers. Captain 
Evans's ship sank one German destroyer and rammed 
another, passing clear over its stern and cutting it nearly in 
two. The whole of England was ringing with this exploit, 
and it was a decided tribute to our men that Admiral Jellicoe 
consented to detail the commander of the Broke. He was 
a man of great intelligence, great energy, and, what was 
almost equally to the point, he was extremely companion- 
able ; whether he was relating his experiences at the South 
Pole, or telling us of active life on a destroyer, or swapping 
yarns with our officers, or giving us the value of his practical 
experiences in the war, Captain Evans was always at home 
with our men indeed, he seemed to be almost one of us. 

The fact that these American destroyers were placed 
under the command of a British admiral was somewhat 
displeasing to certain Americans. I remember that one 
rather bumptious American correspondent, on a visit to 
Queenstown, was loud in expressing his disapproval of this 
state of affairs, and even threatened to " expose " us all in 
the American press. The fact that I was specifically com- 
missioned as destroyer commander also confused the 


situation. Yet the procedure was entirely proper, and, in 
fact, absolutely necessary. My official title was " Com- 
mander of the U.S. Naval Forces Operating in European 
Waters " ; besides this, I was the representative of our 
Navy Department at the British Admiralty and American 
member of the Allied Naval Council. These duties required 
my presence in London, which became the centre of all our 
operations. I was commander not only of our destroyers at 
Queenstown, but of a destroyer force at Brest, another at 
Gibraltar, of subchaser forces at Corfu and Plymouth, of a 
mixed force at the Azores, of the American battle squadrons 
at Scapa Flow and Berehaven, Ireland, certain naval forces 
at Murmansk and Archangel in north Russia, and of many 
other contingents. Clearly it was impossible for me to 
devote all my time exclusively to any one of these com- 
mands ; so far as actual operations were concerned it was 
necessary that particular commanders should control them. 
All these destroyer squadrons, including that at Queens- 
town, were under the command of the American Admiral 
stationed in London ; whenever they sailed from Queens - 
town on specific duty, however, they sailed under orders 
from Admiral Bayly. Any time, however, I could with- 
draw these destroyers from Queenstown and send them 
where the particular necessities required. My position, 
that is, was precisely the same as that of General Pershing 
in France. He sent certain American divisions to the 
British army ; as long as they acted with the British they 
were subject to the orders of Sir Douglas Haig ; but General 
Pershing could withdraw these men at any time for use 
elsewhere. The actual supreme command of all our forces, 
army and navy, rested in the hands of Americans ; but, for 
particular operations, they naturally had to take their orders 
from the particular officer under whom they were stationed. 


On May 17th a second American destroyer flotilla of six 
ships arrived at Queenstown. From that date until July 
5th a new division put in nearly every week. The six 
destroyers which escorted our first troopships from America 
to France were promptly assigned to duty with our forces in 
Irish waters. Meanwhile other ships were added. On 
May 22nd the Melville, the " Mother Ship " of the de- 
stroyers, arrived and became the flagship of all the American 


vessels which were stationed at Queenstown. This repair 
and supply ship practically took the place of a dockyard, so 
far as our destroyer forces were concerned. Queenstown 
had been almost abandoned as a navy yard many years 
before the European War and its facilities for the repair 
of warships were consequently very inadequate. The 
Melville relieved the British authorities of many responsi- 
bilities of this kind. She was able to do three-quarters of 
all this work, except major repairs and those which required 
docking. Her resources for repairing destroyers, and for 
providing for the wants and comforts of our men, aroused 
much admiration in British naval circles. The rapidity 
with which our forces settled down to work, and the sea- 
manly skill which they manifested from the very beginning, 
likewise made the most favourable impression. By July 
5th we had thirty-four destroyers at Queenstown a force 
that remained practically at that strength until November. 
In 1918 much of the work of patrolling the seas and of 
convoying ships to the west and south of Ireland the area 
which, in many ways, was the most important field of 
submarine warfare fell upon these American ships. The 
officers and crews began this work with such zest that by 
June 1st I was justified in making the following statement 
to the Navy Department : " It is gratifying to be able to 
report that the operations of our forces in these waters have 
proved not only very satisfactory, but also of marked value 
to the Allies in overcoming the submarine menace. The 
equipment and construction of our ships have proved 
adequate and sufficient, and the personnel has shown an 
unusually high degree of enthusiasm and ability to cope 
with the situation presented." 

It is impossible to exaggerate the enthusiasm which the 
arrival of these vessels produced upon the British public. 
America itself experienced something of a thrill when the 
news was first published that our destroyers had reached 
European waters, but this was mild compared with the joy 
which spread all over the British Isles. The feeling of 
Americans was mainly one of pride ; our people had not yet 
suffered much from the European cataclysm, and despite 
the fact that we were now active participants, the war still 
seemed very far off and unreal. The fact that a German 
victory would greatly endanger our national freedom had 
hardly entered our national consciousness ; the idea seemed 


dim, abstract, perhaps even absurd ; but in Great Britain, 
with the guns constantly booming almost within earshot of 
the people, the horrors of the situation were acutely realized. 
For this reason those American destroyers at Queenstown 
immediately became a symbol in the minds of the British 
people. They represented not only the material assistance 
which our limitless resources and our almost inexhaustible 
supply of men would bring to a cause which was really in 
desperate straits ; but they stood also for a great spiritual 
fact ; for the kinship of the two great Anglo-Saxon peoples, 
which, although separated politically, had now joined hands 
to fight for the ideals upon which the civilization of both 
nations rested. In the preceding two years Great Britain 
had had her moments of doubt doubt as to whether the 
American people had remained true to the principles that 
formed the basis of their national life ; the arrival of these 
ships immediately dispelled all such misgivings. 

Almost instinctively the minds of the British people 
turned to the day, nearly three hundred years before, when 
the Mayflower sailed for the wilderness beyond the seas. The 
moving picture film, which depicted the arrival of our first 
destroyer division, and which was exhibited all over Great 
Britain to enthusiastic crowds, cleverly accentuated this 
idea. This film related how, in 1620, a few Englishmen had 
landed in North America ; how these adventurers had laid 
the foundations of a new state based on English conceptions 
of justice and liberty ; how they had grown great and 
prosperous ; how the stupidity of certain British statesmen 
had forced them to declare their independence ; how they 
had fought for this independence with the utmost heroism ; 
how out of these disjointed British colonies they had founded 
one of the mightiest nations of history ; and how now, when 
the liberties of mankind were endangered, the descendants 
of the old Mayflower pioneers had in their turn crossed the 
ocean this time going eastward to fight for the tradi- 
tions of their race. Had Americans been making this film, 
they would have illustrated another famous episode in our 
history that antedated, by thirteen years, the voyage of 
the Mayflower that is, the landing of British colonists 
in Virginia, in 1607 ; but in the minds of the English 
people the name Mayflower had become merely a symbol 
of American progress and all that it represented. This 
whole story appealed to the British masses as one of the 

1917] MY GUILDHALL SPEECH, 1910 65 

great miracles of history a single, miserable little settle- 
ment in Massachusetts Bay expanding into a continent 
overflowing with resources and wealth ; a shipload of 
men, women, and children developing, in less than three 
centuries, into a nation of more than 100,000,000 people. 
And the arrival of our destroyers, pictured on the film, 
informed the British people that all this youth and energy 
had been thrown upon their side of the battle. 

One circumstance gave a particular appropriateness to 
the fact that I commanded these forces. In 1910 I had 
visited England as captain of the battleship Minnesota, a 
unit in a fleet which was then cruising in British and 
French waters. It was apparent even at that time that 
preparations were under way for a European war ; on 
every hand there were plenty of evidences that Germany 
was determined to play her great stroke for the domina- 
tion of the world. In a report to the Admiral command- 
ing our division I gave it as my opinion that the great 
European War would begin within four years. In a speech 
at the Guildhall, where 800 of our sailors were entertained 
at lunch by the Lord Mayor, Sir Vezey Strong, I used 
the words which involved me in a good deal of trouble at 
the time and which have been much quoted since. The 
statement then made was purely the inspiration of the 
moment ; it came from the heart, not from the head ; 
probably the evidences that Germany was stealthily pre- 
paring her great blow had something to do with my out- 
burst. I certainly spoke without any authorization from 
my Government, and realized at once that I had committed 
a great indiscretion. " If the time should ever come," I 
said, " when the British Empire is menaced by a European 
coalition, Great Britain can rely upon the last ship, the 
last dollar, the last man, and the last drop of blood of 
her kindred beyond the sea." It is not surprising that 
the appearance of American ships, commanded by the 
American who had spoken these words seven years before, 
strongly appealed to the British sense of the dramatic. 
Indeed, it struck the British people as a particularly happy 
fulfilment of prophecy. These sentences were used as an 
introduction to the moving picture film showing the arrival 
of our first destroyer division, and for weeks after reaching 
England I could hardly pick up a newspaper without these 
words of my Guildhall speech staring me in the face. 



Of course, any American admiral then commanding 
American naval forces in European waters would have 
been acclaimed as the living symbol of Anglo-American 
co-operation ; and it was simply as the representative of 
the American people and the American navy that the 
British people received me so appreciatively. At first 
the appearance of our uniforms aroused much curiosity ; 
our tightly fitting blouses were quite different from the 
British sack coats, and few people in London, in fact, 
knew who we were. After our photographs had appeared 
in the press, however, the people always recognized us 
in the streets. And then something quite unusual hap- 
pened. That naval and military men should salute my 
staff and me was to have been expected, but that civilians 
should show this respect for the American uniform was 
really unprecedented. Yet we were frequently greeted in 
this way. It indicated, almost more than anything else, 
how deeply affected the British people were by America's 
entrance into the war. All classes and all ages showed 
this same respect and gratitude to our country. Neces- 
sarily I had to attend many public dinners and even to 
make many speeches ; the people gathered on such occa- 
sions always rose en masse as a tribute to the uniform 
which I wore. Sometimes such meetings were composed 
of boy scouts, of schoolboys or schoolgirls, of munition 
workers, of journalists, or of statesmen ; and all, irrespec- 
tive of age or social station or occupation, seemed delighted 
to pay respect to the American navy. There were many 
evidences of interest in the " American Admiral " that 
were really affecting. Thus one day a message came from 
Lady Roberts, widow of the great soldier, Field-Marshal 
Earl Roberts, saying that she was desirous of meeting the 
" American Admiral." I was very glad to go out in the 
country and spend a Sunday afternoon with her. This 
charming, white-haired old lady was very feeble, and had 
to spend most of her time in a wheel-chair. But her mind 
was bright as ever, and she had been following the war 
with the closest attention. She listened with keen interest 
as I told her all about the submarines, and she asked 
innumerable questions concerning them. She was particu- 
larly affected when she spoke about the part the United 
States was playing in the war, and remarked how much our 
participation would have delighted the Field-Marshal. 


I have already given my first impressions of Their 
Majesties the King and Queen, and time only confirmed 
them. Neither ever missed an opportunity to show their 
appreciation of the part that we were playing. The zeal 
with which the King entered into the celebration of our 
Fourth of July made him very popular with all our 
men. He even cultivated a taste for our national game. 
Certain of our early contingents of soldiers encamped near 
Windsor ; here they immediately laid out a baseball 
diamond and daily engaged in their favourite sport. The 
Royal Family used to watch our men at their play, became 
interested in the game, and soon learned to follow it. The 
Duke of Connaught and the Princess Patricia, his daughter, 
had learned baseball through their several years' resi- 
dence in Canada, and could watch a match with all the 
understanding and enthusiasm of an American " fan." 
As our sailors and soldiers arrived in greater numbers, the 
interest and friendliness of the Royal Family increased. 
One of the King's most delightful traits is his sense of 
humour. The Queen also showed a great fondness for 
stories, and I particularly remember her amusement at 
the famous remark of the Australians perhaps the most 
ferocious combatants on the Western Front about the 
American soldier, " a good fighter, but a little rough." Of 
all the anecdotes connected with our men, none delighted 
King George so much as those concerning our coloured 
troops. A whole literature of negro yarns spread rapidly 
over Europe ; most of them, I find, have long since 
reached the United States. The most lasting impression 
which I retain of the head of the British Empire is that 
he is very much of a human being. He loved just about 
the same things as the normal American or Englishman 
loves his family, his friends, his country, a good story, a 
pleasant evening with congenial associates. And he had 
precisely the same earnestness about the war which one 
found in every properly constituted Briton or American ; 
the victories of the Allies exhilarated King George just as 
they exhilarated the man in the street, and their defeats 
saddened him just as they saddened the humblest citizen. 
I found in His Majesty that same solemn sense of com- 
radeship with America which I found in the English 
civilians who saluted the American uniform in the street. 

As an evidence of the exceedingly cordial relations exist- 

ing between the two navies the Admiralty proposed, in the 
latter part of May, that I should assume Admiral Bayly's 
command for several days while he took a little vacation 
on the west coast of Ireland. Admiral Bayly was the 
Commander-in-Chief of all the British forces operating on 
the Irish coast. This command thus included far more 
than that at Queenstown ; it comprised several naval 
stations and the considerable naval forces in Irish waters. 
Never before, so I was informed, had a foreign naval officer 
commanded British naval forces in time of war. So far 
as exercising any control over sea operations was concerned, 
this invitation was not particularly important. Matters 
were running smoothly at the Queenstown station ; 
Admiral Bayly's second in command could easily have 
kept the machine in working order ; it was hardly likely, 
in the few days that I was to command, that any changes 
in policy would be initiated. The British Admiralty 
merely took this way of showing a great courtesy to the 
American navy, and of emphasizing to the world the 
excellent relations that existed between the two services. 
The act was intended to symbolize the fact that the British 
and the American navies were really one in the thorough- 
ness of their co-operation in subduing the Prussian menace. 
Incidentally the British probably hoped that the publica- 
tion of this news in the German press would not be without 
effect in Germany. On June 18th, therefore, I went to 
Queenstown, and hoisted my flag on the staff in front of 
Admiralty House. I had some hesitation in doing this, 
for American navy regulations stipulate that an Admiral's 
flag shall be raised only on a ship afloat, but Admiral 
Bayly was insistent that his flag should come down and 
that mine should go up, and I decided that this technicality 
might be waived. The incident aroused great interest in 
England, but it started many queer rumours in Queens- 
town. One was that Admiral Bayly and I had quarrelled, 
the British Admiral, strangely enough, having departed 
in high dudgeon and left me serenely in control. Another 
was that I had come to Queenstown, seized the reins out 
of Admiral Bayly's hands, thrown him out of the country, 
and taken over the government of Ireland on behalf of the 
United States, which had now determined to free the 
island from British oppression ! However, in a few days 
Admiral Bayly returned and all went on as before. 


During the nearly two years which the American naval 
forces spent in Europe only one element in the population 
showed them any hostility or even unfriendliness. At the 
moment when these lines are being written a delegation 
claiming to represent the " Irish Republic " is touring the 
United States, asking Americans to extend their sympathy 
and contribute money toward the realization of their pro- 
ject. I have great admiration for the mass of the Irish 
people, and from the best elements of these people the 
American sailors received only kindness. I have therefore 
hesitated about telling just how some members of the Sinn 
Fein Party treated our men. But it seems that now when 
this same brotherhood is attempting to stir up hatred in 
this country against our Allies in the war, there is a certain 
pertinence in informing Americans just what kind of 
treatment their brave sailors met with at the hands of the 
Sinn Fein in Ireland. 

The people of Queenstown and Cork, as already de- 
scribed, received our men with genuine Irish cordiality. 
Yet in a few weeks evidence of hostility in certain quarters 
became apparent. The fact is that the part of Ireland in 
which the Americans were stationed was a headquarters 
of the Sinn Fein. The members of this organization were 
not only openly disloyal ; they were openly pro-German. 
They were not even neutral ; they were working day and 
night for a German victory, for in their misguided minds 
a German victory signified an Irish Republic. It was no 
secret that the Sinn Feiners were sending information to 
Germany and constantly laying plots to interfere with the 
British and American navies. At first it might be sup- 
posed that the large number of sailors and some officers 
of Irish extraction on the American destroyers would 
tend to make things easier for our men. Quite the con- 
trary proved to be the case. The Sinn Feiners appar- 
ently believed that these so-called Irish-Americans would 
sympathize with their cause ; in their wildest moments 
they even hoped that our naval forces might champion it. 
But these splendid sailors were Americans before they 
were anything else ; their chief ambition was the defeat 
of the Hun and they could not understand how any man 
anywhere could have any other aim in life. They were 
disgusted at the large numbers of able-bodied men whom 
they saw in the streets, and did not hesitate to ask some 


of them why they were not fighting on the Western 
Front. The behaviour of the American sailors was good ; 
but the mere fact that they did not openly manifest a 
hatred of Great Britain and a love of Germany infuriated 
the Sinn Feiners. And the eternal woman question also 
played its part. Our men had much more money than 
the native Irish boys, and could entertain the girls more 
lavishly at the movies and ice-cream stands. The men 
of our fleet and the Irish girls became excellent friends ; 
the association, from our point of view, was a very whole- 
some one, for the moral character of the Irish girls of 
Queenstown and Cork as, indeed, of Irish girls everywhere 
is very high, and their companionship added greatly to 
the well-being and contentment of our sailors, not a few 
of whom found wives among these young women. But 
when the Sinn Fein element saw their sweethearts desert- 
ing them for the American boys their hitherto suppressed 
anger took the form of overt acts. 

Occasionally an American sailor would be brought from 
Cork to Queenstown in a condition that demanded pressing 
medical attention. When he regained consciousness he 
would relate how he had suddenly been set upon by half 
a dozen roughs and beaten into a state of insensibility. 
Several of our men were severely injured in this way. At 
other times small groups were stoned by Sinn Fein sym- 
pathizers, and there were many hostile demonstrations in 
moving-picture houses and theatres. Even more fre- 
quently attacks were made, not upon the American sailors, 
but upon the Irish girls who accompanied them. These 
chivalrous pro-German agitators would rush up and 
attempt to tear the girls away from our young men ; they 
would pull down their hair, slap them, and even kick 
them. Naturally American sailors were hardly the type 
to tolerate behaviour of this kind, and some bloody battles 
took place. This hostility was increased by one very 
regrettable occurrence in Queenstown. An American 
sailor was promenading the main thoroughfare with an 
Irish girl, when an infuriated Sinn Feiner rushed up, 
began to abuse his former sweetheart in vile language, 
and attempted to lay hands on her. The American struck 
this hooligan a terrific blow ; he fell backward and struck 
his head on the curb. The fall fractured the assailant's 
skull and in a few hours he was dead. We handed our 


man over to the civil authorities for trial, and a jury, 
composed entirely of Irishmen, acquitted him. The action 
of this jury in itself indicated that there was no sympathy 
among the decent Irish element, which constituted the 
great majority, with this sort of tactics, but naturally it did 
not improve relations between our men and the Sinn 
Fein. The importance of another incident which took 
place at the cathedral has been much exaggerated. It is 
true that a priest in his Sunday sermon denounced the 
American sailors as vandals and betrayers of Irish woman- 
hood, but it is also true that the Roman Catholics of that 
section were themselves the most enraged at this absurd 
proceeding. A number of Roman Catholic officers who 
were present left the church in a body ; the Catholic 
Bishop of the Diocese called upon Admiral Bayly and 
apologized for the insult, and he also punished the offend- 
ing priest by assigning him to new duties at a considerable 
distance from the American ships. 

But even more serious trouble was brewing, for our 
officers discovered that the American sailors were making 
elaborate plans to protect themselves. Had this discovery 
not been made in time, something like an international 
incident might have resulted. Much to our regret, there- 
fore, it was found necessary to issue an order that no 
naval men, British or American, under the rank of Com- 
mander, should be permitted to go to Cork. Ultimately 
we had nearly 8,000 American men at this station ; 
Queenstown itself is a small place of 6,000 or 7,000, so it 
is apparent that it did not possess the facilities for giving 
such a large number of men those relaxations which were 
necessary to their efficiency. We established a club in 
Queenstown, provided moving pictures and other enter- 
tainments, and did the best we could to keep our sailors 
contented. The citizens of Cork also keenly regretted our 
action. The great majority had formed a real fondness 
for our boys ; and they regarded it as a great humiliation 
that the rowdy element had made it necessary to keep our 
men out of their city. Many letters were printed in the 
Cork newspapers apologizing to the Americans and calling 
upon the people to take action that would justify us in 
rescinding our order. The loss to Cork tradesmen was 
great ; our men received not far from $200,000 to 8300,000 
a month in pay ; they were free spenders, and their pre- 


sence in the neighbourhood for nearly two years would 
have meant a fortune to many of the local merchants. 
Yet we were obliged to refuse to accede to the numerous 
requests that the American sailors be permitted to visit 
this city. 

A committee of distinguished citizens of Cork, led by 
the Lord Mayor, came to Admiralty House to plead for 
the rescinding of this order. Admiral Bayly cross-ex- 
amined them very sharply. It appeared that the men 
who had committed these offences against American sailors 
had never been punished. 

Unless written guarantees were furnished that there 
would be no hostile demonstrations against British or 
Americans, Admiral Bayly refused to withdraw the ban, 
and I fully concurred in this decision. Unfortunately the 
committee could give no such guarantee. We knew very 
well that the first appearance of Americans in Cork would 
be the signal for a renewal of hostilities, and the temper 
of our sailors was such that the most deplorable conse- 
quences might have resulted. We even discovered that 
the blacksmiths on the U.S.S. Melville were surreptitiously 
manufacturing weapons which our men could conceal on 
their persons and with which they proposed to sally forth 
and do battle with the Sinn Fein ! So for the whole period 
of our stay in Queenstown our sailors were compelled to 
keep away from the dangerous city. But the situation 
was not without its humorous aspects. Thus the pretty 
girls of Cork, finding that the Americans could not come 
to them, decided to come to the Americans ; every after- 
noon a trainload would arrive at the Queenstown station, 
where our sailors would greet them, give them a splendid 
time, and then, in the evening, escort them to the station 
and send a happy crowd on their way home. 

But the Sinn Feiners interfered with us in much more 
serious ways than this. They were doing everything in 
their power to help Germany. W r ith their assistance 
German agents and German spies were landed in Ireland. 
At one time the situation became so dangerous that I had 
to take experienced officers whose services could ill be 
spared from our destroyers and assign them to our out- 
lying air stations in Ireland. This, of course, proportion- 
ately weakened our fleet and did its part in prolonging 
the war. 



ALL this time that we were seeking a solution for the 
submarine problem we really had that solution in our 
hands. The seas presented two impressive spectacles in 
those terrible months of April, May, and June, 1917. One 
was the comparative ease with which the German sub- 
marines were sinking merchant vessels ; the other was 
their failure materially to weaken the Allied fleets. If 
we wish a counter-picture to that presented by the Irish 
Sea and the English Channel, where merchant shipping 
was constantly going down, we should look to the North 
Sea, where the British Grand Fleet, absolutely intact, was 
defiantly riding the waves. The uninformed public ex- 
plained this apparent security in a way of its own ; it 
believed that the British dreadnoughts were anchored 
behind booms, nets, and mine-fields, through which the 
submarines could not penetrate. Yet the fact of the 
matter was that the Grand Fleet was frequently cruising 
in the open sea, in the waters which were known to be the 
most infested with submarines. The German submarines 
had been attempting to destroy this fleet for two and a 
half years. It had been their plan to weaken this great 
battle force by " attrition " ; to sink the great battleships 
one by one, and in this way to reduce the fighting power 
of the fleet to such a point that the German dreadnoughts 
could have some chances of success. Such had been the 
German programme, widely heralded at the beginning of 
the war ; nearly three years had now passed, but how 
had this pretentious scheme succeeded ? The fact was 
that the submarines had not destroyed a single dread- 
nought. It was certainly a profitable study in contrasts 
that of merchant ships constantly being torpedoed and 
that of battleships constantly repelling such attacks. 



Certainly a careful study of this situation ought to bring 
out facts which would assist the Allies in solving the most 
baffling problem of the war. 

Yet there was no mystery about the immunity which 
these great fighting vessels were enjoying ; the submarine 
problem, so far as it affected the battle fleet, had already 
been solved. The explanation was found in the simple 
circumstance that, whenever the dreadnoughts went to 
sea, they were preceded by a screen of cruisers and de- 
stroyers. It almost seemed as though these surface craft 
were serving as a kind of impenetrable wall against which 
the German U-boats were beating themselves in vain. Yet 
to the casual observer there seemed to be no reason why 
the submarines should stand in any particular terror of the 
destroyers. Externally they looked like the least impres- 
sive war vessels afloat. When they sailed ahead of the 
battle squadrons, the destroyers were ungraceful objects 
upon the surface of the water ; the impression which they 
conveyed was that of fragility rather than of strength, and 
the idea that they could ever be the guardians of the 
mighty battleships which sailed behind them at first 
seemed almost grotesque. Yet these little vessels really 
possessed the power of overcoming the submarine. The 
war had not progressed far when it became apparent that 
the U-boat could not operate anywhere near this speedy 
little surface vessel without running serious risk of de- 

Until the reports of submarine fighting began to find 
their way into the papers, however, the destroyer was 
probably the one type of warship in which the public had 
the smallest interest. It had become, indeed, a kind of 
ugly duckling of the Navy. Our Congress had regularly 
neglected it ; year after year our naval experts had recom- 
mended that four destroyers be built for every battle- 
ship, and annually Congress had appropriated for only 
one or two. The war had also found Great Britain with- 
out a sufficient number of destroyers for the purpose of 
anti-submarine warfare. The Admiralty had provided 
enough for screening the Grand Fleet in cruising and in 
battle, but it had been called upon to divert so many for 
the protection of troop transportation, supply ships, and 
commerce generally that the efficiency of the fleet had 
been greatly undermined. Thus Britain found herself 


without enough destroyers to meet the submarine cam- 
paign ; this situation was not due to any lack of fore- 
sight, but to a failure to foresee that any civilized nation 
could ever employ the torpedo in unrestricted warfare 
against merchant ships and their crews. 

The one time that this type of vessel had come promin- 
ently into notice was in 1904, when several of them attacked 
the Russian fleet at Port Arthur, damaging several power- 
ful vessels and practically ending Russian sea power in 
the Far East. The history of the destroyer, however, 
goes back much further than 1904. It was created to 
fulfil a duty not unlike that which it has played so glori- 
ously in the World War. In the late seventies and early 
eighties a new type of war vessel, the torpedo boat, caused 
almost as much perturbation as the submarine has caused 
in recent years. This speedy little fighter was invented 
to serve as a medium for the discharge of a newly per- 
fected engine of naval warfare, the automobile torpedo. 
It was its function to creep up to a battleship, preferably 
under cover of darkness or in thick weather, and let loose 
this weapon against her unsuspecting hulk. The appear- 
ance of the torpedo boat led to the same prediction as 
that which has been more recently inspired by the sub- 
marine ; in the eyes of many it simply meant the end of 
the great surface battleship. But naval architects, look- 
ing about for the " answer " to this dangerous craft, 
designed another type of warship and appropriately called 
it the " torpedo boat destroyer." This vessel was not 
only larger and speedier than its appointed antagonist, 
but it possessed a radius of action and a seaworthiness 
which enabled it to accompany the battle fleet. Its draft 
was so light that a torpedo could pass harmlessly under 
the keel, and it carried an armament which had sufficient 
power to end the career of any torpedo boat that came 
its way. Few types have ever justified their name so 
successfully as the torpedo boat destroyer. So completely 
did it eliminate that little vessel as a danger to the fighting 
ships that practically all navies long since ceased to build 
torpedo boats. Yet the destroyer promptly succeeded to 
the chief function of the discarded vessel, that of attack- 
ing capital ships with torpedoes ; and, in addition to 
this, it assumed the duty of protecting battleships from 
similar attack by enemy vessels of the same type. 


It surprises many people to learn that the destroyer is 
not a little boat but a warship of considerable size. This 
vessel to-day impresses most people as small only because 
all ships, those which are used for commerce and those 
which are used for war, have increased so greatly in dis- 
placement. The latest specimens of the destroyer carry 
four- or five-inch guns and twelve torpedo tubes, each of 
which launches a torpedo that weighs more than a ton, 
and runs as straight as an arrow for more than six miles. 
The Santa Maria, the largest vessel of the squadron with 
which Columbus made his first voyage to America, had a 
displacement of about five hundred tons, and thus was 
about half as large as a destroyer ; and even at the begin- 
ning of the clipper ship era few vessels were much larger. 

Previous to 1914 it was generally believed that torpedo 
attacks would play a large part in any great naval engage- 
ment, and this was the reason why all naval advisers 
insisted that a large number of these vessels should be 
constructed as essential units of the fleet. Yet the war 
had not made much progress when it became apparent 
that this versatile craft had another great part to play, 
and that it would once more justify its name in really 
heroic fashion. Just as it had proved its \vorth in driving 
the surface torpedo boat from the seas, so now it developed 
into a very dangerous foe to the torpedo boat that sailed 
beneath the waves. Events soon demonstrated that, in 
all open engagements between submarine and destroyer, 
the submarine stood very little chance. The reason for 
this was simply that the submarine had no weapon with 
which it could successfully resist the attack of the destroyer, 
whereas the destroyer had several with which it could 
attack the submarine. The submarine had three or four 
torpedo tubes, and only one or two guns, and with neither 
could it afford to risk attacking the more powerfully armed 
destroyer. The U-boat was of such a fragile nature that 
it could never afford to engage in a combat in which it 
stood much chance of getting hit. A destroyer could 
stand a comparatively severe pounding and still remain 
fairly intact, but a single shell, striking a submarine, was 
a very serious matter ; even though the vessel did not 
sink as a result, it was almost inevitable that certain 
parts of its machinery would be so injured that it would 
have difficulty in getting into port. It therefore became 


necessary for the submarine always to play safe, to fight 
only under conditions in which it had the enemy at such 
a disadvantage that it ran little risk itself ; and this was 
the reason why it preferred to attack merchant and 
passenger ships rather than vessels, such as the destroyer, 
that could energetically defend themselves. 

The comparatively light draft of the destroyer, which 
is about nine or ten feet, pretty effectually protects it 
from the submarine's torpedo, for this torpedo, to function 
with its greatest efficiency, must take a course about 
fifteen feet under water ; if it runs nearer the surface than 
this, it comes under the influence of the w r aves, and does 
not make a straight course. More important still, the 
speed of the destroyer, the ease with which it turns, circles, 
and zigzags, makes it all but impossible for a torpedo to 
be aimed with much chance of hitting her. Moreover, 
the discharge of this missile is a far more complicated 
undertaking than is generally supposed. The submarine 
commander cannot take position anywhere and discharge 
his weapon more or less wildly, running his chances of 
hitting ; he must get his boat in place, calculate range, 
course, and speed, and take careful aim. Clearly it is 
difficult for him to do this successfully if his intended 
victim is scurrying along at the rate of thirty or forty 
miles an hour. Moreover, the destroyer is constantly 
changing its course, making great circles and indulging 
in other disconcerting movements. So well did the 
Germans understand the difficulty of torpedoing a destroyer 
that they practically never attempted so unprofitable and 
so hazardous an enterprise. 

Torpedoes are complicated and expensive mechanisms ; 
each one costs about $8,000 and the average U-boat carried 
only from eight to twelve ; it was therefore necessary to 
husband these precious weapons, to use them only when 
the chances most favoured success ; the U-boat com- 
mander who wasted them in attempts to sink destroyers 
would probably have been court-martialled. 

But while the submarine had practically no means of 
successfully fighting the destroyer, the destroyer had 
several ways of putting an end to the submarine. The 
advantage which really made the destroyer so dangerous, 
as already intimated, was its excessive speed. On the 
surface the U-boat made little more than fifteen miles an 


hour, and under the surface it made little more than seven 
or eight. If the destroyer once discovered its presence, 
therefore, it could reach its prey in an incredibly short 
time. It could attack with its guns, and, if conditions 
were favourable, it could ram ; and this was no trifling 
accident, for a destroyer going at thirty or forty miles 
could cut a submarine nearly in two with its strong, razor- 
like bow. In the early days of the war these were the 
main methods upon which it relied to attack, but by the 
time that I had reached London, another and much more 
frightful weapon had been devised. This was the depth 
charge, a large can containing about three hundred pounds 
of TNT, which, if it exploded anywhere within one hundred 
feet of the submarine, would either destroy it entirely or 
so injure it that ' the victim usually had to come to the 
surface and surrender. 

I once asked Admiral Jellicoe who was the real inventor 
of this annihilating missile. 

" No man in particular," he said. " It came into 
existence almost spontaneously, in response to a pressing 
need. Gunfire can destroy submarines when they are on 
the surface, but you know it can accomplish nothing 
against them when they are submerged. This fact made 
it extremely difficult to sink them in the early days of 
the war. One day, when the Grand Fleet was cruising 
in the North Sea, a submarine fired a torpedo at one of 
the cruisers. The cruiser saw the periscope and the 
wake of the torpedo, and had little difficulty in so manoeuv- 
ring as to avoid being struck. She then went full speed 
to the spot from which the submarine had fired its torpedo, 
in the hope of ramming it. But by the time she arrived 
the submarine had submerged so deeply that the cruiser 
passed over her without doing her any harm. Yet the 
officers and crew could see the submerged hull ; there the 
enemy lay in full view of her pursuers, yet perfectly safe ! 
The officers reported this incident to me in the presence 
of Admiral Madden, second in command. 

" ' Wouldn't it have been fine,' said Madden, ' if they 
had had on board a mine so designed that, when dropped 
overboard, it would have exploded when it reached the 
depth at which the submarine was lying ? ' 

" That remark," continued Admiral Jellicoe, " gave us 
the germinal idea of the depth charge. I asked the 


Admiralty to get to work and produce a ' mine ' that 
would act in the way that Admiral Madden had suggested. 
It proved to be very simple to construct an ordinary 
steel cylinder filled with TNT ; this was fitted with a 
simple firing appliance which was set off by the pressure 
of the water, and could be so adjusted that it would 
explode the charge at any depth desired. This apparatus 
was so simple and so necessary that we at once began to 
manufacture it." 

The depth charge looked like the innocent domestic ash 
can, and that was the name by which it soon came to 
be popularly known. Each destroyer eventually carried 
twenty or thirty of these destructive weapons at the 
stern ; a mere pull on a lever would make one drop into 
the water. Many destroyers also carried strange-looking 
howitzers, which were made in the shape of a Y, and 
from which one ash can could be hurled fifty yards or 
more from each side of the vessel. The explosion, when 
it took place within the one hundred feet which I have 
mentioned as usually fatal to the submarine, would drive 
the plates inward and sometimes make a leak so large 
that the vessel would sink almost instantaneously. At a 
somewhat greater distance it frequently produced a leak 
of such serious proportions that the submarine would be 
forced to blow her ballast tanks, come to the surface, 
and surrender. Even when the depth charge exploded 
considerably more than a hundred feet away, the result 
might be equally disastrous, for the concussion might 
distort the hull and damage the horizontal rudders, making 
it impossible to steer, or it might so injure the essential 
machinery that the submarine would be rendered help- 
less. Sometimes the lights went out, leaving the crew 
groping in blackness ; necessary parts were shaken from 
their fastenings ; and in such a case the commander had 
his choice of two alternatives, one to be crushed by the 
pressure of the water, and the other to come up and be 
captured or sunk by his surface foe. It is no reflection 
upon the courage of the submarine commanders to say 
that in this embarrassing situation they usually preferred 
to throw themselves upon the mercy of the enemy rather 
than to be smashed or to die a lingering and agonizing 
death under the water. Even when the explosion took 
place at a distance so great that the submarine was not 


seriously damaged, the experience was a highly discon- 
certing one for the crew. If a dozen depth charges were 
dropped, one after the other, the effect upon the men in 
the hunted vessel was particularly demoralizing. In 
the course of the war several of our own submarines were 
depth-charged by our own destroyers, and from our crews 
we obtained graphic descriptions of the sensations which 
resulted. It was found that men who had passed through 
such an ordeal were practically useless for several days, 
and that sometimes they were rendered permanently unfit 
for service. The state of nerves which followed such an 
experience was not unlike that new war psychosis known 
as shell-shock. One of our officers who had had such an 
adventure told me that the explosion of a single depth 
charge under the water might be compared to the con- 
cussion produced by the simultaneous firing of all the 
fourteen-inch guns of a battleship. One can only imagine 
what the concussion must have been when produced by 
ten or twenty depth charges in succession. Whether or 
not the submarine was destroyed or seriously injured, a 
depth-charged crew became extremely cautious in the 
future about getting anywhere in the neighbourhood of 
a destroyer ; and among the several influences which 
ultimately disorganized the moral of the German U-boat 
service these contacts with depth charges were doubtless 
the most important. The hardiest under-water sailor did 
not care to go through such frightful moments a second 

This statement makes it appear as though the depth 
charge had settled the fate of the submarine. Yet that 
was far from being the case, for against the ash can, 
with its 300 pounds of TNT, the submarine possessed 
one quality which gave it great defensive power. That 
was ability to make itself unseen. Strangely enough, 
the average layman is inclined to overlook this fairly 
apparent fact, and that is the reason why, even at the 
risk of repeating myself, I frequently refer to it. Indeed, 
the only respect in which the subsurface boat differs 
essentially from all other war vessels is in this power of 
becoming invisible. Whenever it descries danger from 
afar, the submarine can disappear under the water in 
anywhere from twenty seconds to a minute. And its 
great advantage is that it can detect its enemy long before 

1917] TORPEDOES 81 

that enemy can detect the submarine. A U-boat, sailing 
awash, or sailing with only its conning-tower exposed, 
can see a destroyer at a distance of about fifteen miles if 
the weather is clear ; but, under similar conditions, the 
destroyer can see the submarine at a distance of about 
four miles. Possessing this great advantage, the sub- 
marine can usually decide whether it will meet the enemy 
or not ; if it decides that it is wise to avoid an encounter, 
all it has to do is to duck, remain submerged until the 
destroyer has passed on, entirely unconscious of its 
presence, and then to resume its real work, which is not 
that of fighting warships, but of sinking merchantmen. 
The chief anxiety of the U-boat commander is thus to 
avoid contact with its surface foe and its terrible depth 
charge, whereas the business of the destroyer commander 
is to get within fighting distance of his quarry. 

Ordinarily, conditions favour the U-boat in this game, 
simply because the ocean is so large a place. But there 
is one situation in which the destroyer has more than a 
fighting chance, for the power of the submarine to keep 
its presence secret lasts only so long as it remains out of 
action. If it makes no attempt to fight, its presence can 
hardly ever be detected ; but just as soon as it becomes 
belligerent, it immediately reveals its whereabouts. If it 
comes to the surface and fires its guns, naturally it adver- 
tises to its enemy precisely where it is ; but it betrays its 
location almost as clearly when it discharges a torpedo. 
Just as soon as the torpedo leaves the submarine, a wake, 
clearly marking its progress, appears upon the surface of 
the water. Though most newspaper readers have heard 
of this tell-tale track, I have found few who really under- 
stand what a conspicuous disturbance it is. The torpedo 
is really a little submarine itself ; it is propelled by 
compressed air, the exhaust of which stirs up the water 
and produces a foamy, soapy wake, which is practically 
the same as that produced by the propeller of an ocean 
liner. This trail is four or five feet wide ; it is as white 
and is as distinct as a chalk line drawn upon a blackboard, 
provided the weather is clear and the sun is in the right 
direction. Indeed, it is sometimes so distinct that an 
easily manoeuvred ship, and even sometimes a merchant- 
man, can avoid the torpedo which it sees advancing 
merely by putting over the helm and turning out of its 



course. But the chief value of this wake to the submarine 
hunters is that it shows the direction in which the sub- 
marine was located when the torpedo started on its course. 
It stands out on the surface of the water like a long, 
ghostly finger pointing to the spot where the foe let loose 
its shaft. 

As soon as the destroyer sees this betraying disturbance, 
the commander rings for full speed ; and one of the greatest 
advantages of this type of vessel is that it can attain full 
speed in an incredibly short time. The destroyer then 
dashes down the wake until it reaches the end, which 
indicates the point where the submarine lay when it dis- 
charged its missile. At this point the surface vessel 
drops a depth charge and then begins cutting a circle, 
say, to the right. Pains are taken to make this circle so 
wide that it will include the submarine, provided it has 
gone in that direction. The destroyer then makes another 
circle to the left. Every ten or fifteen seconds, while 
describing these circles, it drops a depth charge ; indeed, 
not infrequently it drops twenty or thirty in a few minutes. 
If there is another destroyer in the neighbourhood it also 
follows up the wake and when it reaches the indicated 
point, it circles in the opposite direction from the first. 
Sometimes more than two may start for the suspected 
location and, under certain conditions, the water within 
a radius of half a mile or more may be seething with 
exploding depth charges. 

It is plain from this description that the proceeding 
develops into an exceedingly dangerous game for the 
attacking submarine. It is a simple matter to calculate 
the chances of escaping which the enemy has under these 
conditions. That opportunity is clearly measured by the 
time which elapses from the moment when it discharges 
its torpedo to the moment when the destroyer has reached 
the point at which it was discharged. This interval 
gives the subsurface boat a certain chance to get away ; 
but its under-water speed is moderate, and so by the time 
the destroyer reaches the critical spot, the submarine has 
advanced but a short distance away from it. How far 
has she gone ? In what direction did she go ? These 
are the two questions which the destroyer commander 
must answer, and the success with which he answers them 
accurately measures his success in sinking or damaging 


his enemy, or in giving him a good scare. If he always 
decided these two points accurately, he would almost 
always " get " his submarine ; the chances of error are 
very great, however, and that is the reason why the 
submarine in most cases gets away. All that the surface 
commander knows is that there is a U-boat somewhere 
in his neighbourhood, but he does not know its precise 
location and so he is fighting more or less in the dark. 
In the great majority of cases the submarine does get away, 
but now and then the depth charge reaches its goal and 
ends its career. 

If only one destroyer is hunting, the chances of escape 
strongly favour the under-water craft ; if several pounce 
upon her at once, however, the chances of escaping are 
much more precarious. If the water is shallow the U-boat 
can sometimes outwit the pursuer by sinking to the 
bottom and lying there in silent security until its surface 
enemy tires of the chase. But in the open sea there is 
no possibility of concealing itself and so saving itself in 
this fashion, for if the submarine sinks beyond a certain 
depth the pressure of the water will crush it. 

While the record shows that the U-boat usually suc- 
ceeded in evading the depth charges, there were enough 
sunk or seriously damaged or given a bad shake-up to 
serve as a constant reminder to the crews that they ran 
great danger in approaching waters which were protected 
by destroyers. The U-boat captains, as will appear, 
avoided such waters regularly ; they much preferred to 
attack their merchant prey in areas where these soul- 
racking depth charges did not interfere with their opera- 

It is now becoming apparent why the great battle fleet, 
which always sailed behind a protecting screen of such 
destroyers, was practically immune from torpedo attack. 
In order to assail these battleships the submarine was 
always compelled to do the one thing which, above all 
others, it was determined to avoid to get within depth- 
charge radius of the surface craft. In discharging the 
torpedo, distance, as already intimated, is the all-impor- 
tant consideration. The U-boat carries a torpedo which 
has a much shorter range than that of the destroyer ; it 
was seldom effective if fired at more than 2,000 yards, 
and beyond that distance its chances of hitting became 


very slight. Indeed, a much shorter distance than that 
was desirable if the torpedo was to accomplish its most 
destructive purpose. So valuable were these missiles and 
so necessary was it that every one should be used to good 
advantage, that the U-boat's captain had instructions to 
shoot at no greater distance than 300 yards, unless 
the conditions were particularly favourable. In the 
early days, the torpedoes which were fired at a greater 
distance would often hit the ships on the bow or the 
stern, and do comparatively little damage ; such vessels 
could be brought in, repaired in a short time, and again 
put to sea. The German Admiralty discovered that in 
firing from a comparatively long distance it was wasting 
its torpedoes ; it therefore ordered its men to get so near 
the prey that it could strike the vessel in a vital spot, 
preferably in the engine-room ; and to do this it was 
necessary to creep up within 300 yards. But to get 
as close as that to the destroyers which screened the 
battleships meant almost certain destruction. Thus the 
one method of attack which was left to the U-boat was 
to dive under the destroyer screen and come up in the 
midst of the battle fleet itself. A few minutes after its 
presence should become known, however, a large number of 
destroyers would be dropping depth charges in its neigh- 
bourhood, and its chances of escaping destruction would 
be almost nil, to say nothing of its chances of destroying 

The Germans learned the futility of this kind of an 
operation early in the war, and the man who taught them 
this lesson was Commander Weddingen, the same officer 
who had first demonstrated the value of the submarine 
in practical warfare. It was Otto Weddingen who, in 
September, 1914, sank the old British cruisers, the Hogue, 
the Cressy, and the Aboukir, an exploit which made him 
one of the great popular heroes of Germany. A few 
months afterward Commander Weddingen decided to try 
an experiment which was considerably more hazardous 
than that of sinking three unescorted cruisers ; he aspired 
to nothing less ambitious than an attack upon the Grand 
Fleet itself. On March 18th a part of this fleet was 
cruising off Cromarty, Scotland ; here Weddingen came 
with the 7-29, dived under the destroyer screen and fired 
one torpedo, which passed astern of the Neptune. The 

1917] FATE OF THE " U-29 " 85 

alarm was immediately sounded, and presently the battle- 
ship Dreadnought, which had seen the periscope, started 
at full speed for the submarine, rammed the vessel and 
sent it promptly to the bottom. As it was sinking the 
bow rose out of the water, plainly disclosing the number 
C7-29. There was not one survivor. Weddingen's attempt 
was an heroic one, but so disastrous to himself and to 
his vessel that very few German commanders ever 
tried to emulate his example. It clearly proved to the 
German Admiralty that it was useless to attempt to 
destroy the Grand Fleet with submarines, or even to 
weaken it piecemeal, and probably this experience had 
much to do with this new kind of warfare that of sub- 
marines against unprotected merchant ships which the 
Germans now proceeded to introduce. 

The simple fact is that the battle fleet was never so safe 
as when it was cruising in the open sea, screened by de- 
stroyers. ' It was far safer when it was sailing thus 
defiantly, constantly inviting attack, than when it was 
anchored at its unprotected base at Scapa Flow. Indeed, 
until Scapa Flow was impregnably protected by booms 
and mines, the British commanders recognized that 
cruising in the open sea was its best means of avoiding 
the German U-boats. No claim is made that the sub- 
marine cannot dive under the destroyer screen and attack 
a battle fleet, and possibly torpedo one or more of its 
vessels. The illustration which has been given shows that 
Weddingen nearly " got " the Neptune ; and had this 
torpedo gone a few feet nearer, his experiment might have 
shown that, although he subsequently lost his own life, 
crew, and ship, he had sunk one British battleship, a pro- 
ceeding which, in war, might have been recognized as a 
fair exchange. But the point which I wish to emphasize 
is that the chances of success were so small that the 
Germans decided that it was not worth while to make 
the attempt. Afterward, when merchant vessels were 
formed into convoys, a submarine would occasionally 
dive under the screen and destroy a ship ; but most 
such attacks were unsuccessful, and experience taught 
the Germans that a persistent effort of this kind would 
cause the destruction of so many submarines that their 
campaign would fail. So the U-boat commanders left 
the Grand Fleet alone, either because they lacked nerve 


or because their instructions from Berlin were explicit to 
that effect. 


Having constantly before my eyes this picture of the 
Grand Fleet immune from torpedo attack, naturally the 
first question I asked, when discussing the situation with 
Admiral Jellicoe and others, was this : " Why not apply 
this same principle to merchant ships ? " 

If destroyers could keep the submarines away from 
battleships, they could certainly keep them away from 
merchantmen. It is clear, from the description already 
given, precisely how the battleships had been made safe 
from submarines ; they had proceeded, as usual, in a 
close formation, or " convoy," and their destroyer screen 
had proved effective. Thus logic apparently indicated 
that the convoy system was the " answer " to the sub- 

Yet the convoy, as used in previous wars, differed 
materially from any application of the idea which could 
possibly be made to the present contest. This scheme of 
sailing vessels in groups, and escorting them by warships, 
is almost as old as naval warfare itself. As early as the 
thirteenth century, the merchants of the Hanseatic League 
were compelled to sail their ships in convoy as a protec- 
tion against the pirates who were then constantly lurking 
in the Baltic Sea. The Government of Venice used this 
same device to protect its enormous commerce. In the 
fifteenth century the large trade in wool and wine which 
existed between England and the Moorish ports of Spain 
was safeguarded by convoys, and in the sixteenth century 
Spain herself regularly depended upon massing her ships 
to defend her commerce with the West Indies against the 
piratical attacks of English and French adventurers. 
The escorts provided for these " flotas " really laid the 
foundation of the mighty Spanish fleet which threatened 
England's existence for more than a hundred years. By 
the time of Queen Elizabeth the convoy had thus become 
the all -pre vailing method of safeguarding merchant 
shipping, but it was in the Napoleonic wars that it had 
reached its greatest usefulness. The convoys of that 
period were managed with some military precision ; there 
were carefully stipulated methods of collecting the ships, 


of meeting the cruiser escorts at the appointed rendezvous, 
and of dispersing them when the danger zone was passed ; 
and naval officers were systematically put in charge. 
The convoys of this period were very large ; from 200 
to 300 ships were not an unusual gathering, and some- 
times 500 or more would get together at certain important 
places, such as the entrance to the Baltic. But these 
ships, of course, were very small compared with those of 
the present time. It was only necessary to supply such 
aggregations of vessels with enough protecting cruisers to 
overwhelm any raiders which the enemy might send 
against them. The merchantmen were not required to 
sail in any particular formation, nor were they required 
to manreuvre against unseen mysterious foes. Neither 
was it absolutely essential that they should keep con- 
stantly together ; and they could even spread them- 
selves somewhat loosely over the ocean. If an enemy 
raider appeared on the horizon, the escorting cruiser or 
cruisers left the convoy and began chase ; a battle ensued, 
the convoy meanwhile passing on its voyage unharmed. 
When its protecting vessels had disposed of the attackers, 
they rejoined the merchantmen. No unusual seamanship 
was demanded of the merchant captains, for the whole 
responsibility for their safety rested with the escorting 

But the operation of beating off an occasional surface 
raider, which necessarily fights in the open, is quite a dif- 
ferent procedure from that of protecting an aggregation of 
vessels from enemies that discharge torpedoes under the 
water. As part protection against such insidious attacks 
both the merchant ships and the escorting men-of-war of 
to-day had in this war to keep up a perpetual zigzagging. 
This zigzag, indeed, was in itself an efficacious method of 
protection. As already said, the submarine was forced to 
attain an advantageous position before it could discharge 
its torpedo ; it was its favourite practice to approach to 
within a few hundred yards in order to hit its victim in a 
vital spot. This mere fact shows that zigzagging in itself 
was one of the best methods of avoiding destruction. 
Before this became the general rule, the task of torpedoing 
a vessel was comparatively easy. All it was necessary for 
the submarine to do was to bring the vessel's masts in line ; 
that is, to get directly ahead of her, submerge with the 


small periscope showing only occasionally, and to fire the 
torpedo at short range as the ship passed by. Except in 
the case of very slow vessels, she could of course do this only 
when she was not far from the course of her advancing prey 
when she first sighted her. If, however, the vessel was 
zigzagging, this pretty game was usually defeated ; the 
submarine never knew in what direction to go in order to 
get within torpedoing distance, and she could not go far 
because her speed under water is so slow. The same 
conditions apply to a zigzagging convoy. This explained 
why, as soon as the merchant vessel or convoy entered the 
submarine zone, or as soon as a submarine w r as sighted, it 
began zigzagging, first on one side and then on the other, 
and always irregularly, its course comprising a disjointed 
line, which made it a mere chance whether the submarine 
could get into a position from w r hich to fire with any 
certainty of obtaining results. A vessel sailing alone could 
manoeuvre in this way without much difficulty, but it is 
apparent that twenty or thirty vessels, sailing in close 
formation, would not find the operation a simple one. It 
was necessary for them to sail in close and regular forma- 
tion in order to make it possible to manoeuvre them and 
screen them with destroyers, so it is evident that the closer 
the formation the fewer the destroyers that would be needed 
to protect it. These circumstances make the modern con- 
voy quite a different affair from the happy-go-lucky pro- 
ceeding of the Napoleonic era. 

It is perhaps not surprising that the greatest hostility to 
the convoys has always come from the merchant captains 
themselves. In old days they chafed at the time which was 
consumed in assembling the ships, at the necessity for 
reducing speed to enable the slower vessels to keep up with 
the procession, and at the delay in getting their cargoes into 
port. In all wars in which convoys have been used it has 
been very difficult to keep the merchant captains in line. 
In Nelson's day these fine old salts were constantly breaking 
away from their convoys and taking their chances of running 
into port unescorted. If the merchant master of a century 
ago rebelled at the comparatively simply managed convoy 
of those days it is not strange that their successors of the 
present time should not have looked with favour upon the 
relatively complicated and difficult arrangement required of 
them in this war. In the early discussions with these men 


at the Admiralty they showed themselves almost unani- 
mously opposed to the convoy. 

" The merchantmen themselves are the chief obstacle to 
the convoy," said Admiral Jellicoe. " We have discussed it 
with them many times and they declare that it is impossible. 
It is all right for war vessels to manoeuvre in close formation, 
they say, for we spend our time practising in these forma- 
tions, and so they think that it is second nature to us. But 
they say that they cannot do it. They particularly reject 
the idea that when in formation they can manoeuvre their 
ships in the fog or at night without lights. They believe 
that they would lose more ships through collisions than the 
submarines would sink." 

I was told that the whole subject had been completely 
threshed out at a meeting which had been held at the Ad- 
miralty on February 23, 1917, about six weeks before 
America had entered the war. At that time ten masters of 
merchant ships had met Admiral Jellicoe and other mem- 
bers of the Admiralty and had discussed the convoy 
proposition at length. In laying the matter before these 
experienced seamen Admiral Jellicoe emphasized the neces- 
sity of good station-keeping, and he described the close 
formation which the vessels would have to maintain. It 
would be necessary for the ships to keep together, he 
explained, otherwise the submarines could pick off the 
stragglers. He asked the masters whether eight merchant 
ships, which had a speed varying perhaps two knots, could 
keep station in line ahead (that is, in single file or column) 
500 yards apart, and sail in two columns down the Channel. 

" It would be absolutely impossible," the ten masters 
replied, almost in a chorus. 

A discouraging fact, they said, was that many of the 
ablest merchant captains had gone into the navy, and that 
many of those who had replaced them could not be de- 
pended on to handle their ships in such a formation. 

" We have so few competent deck officers that the cap- 
tain would have to be on the bridge the whole twenty-four 
hours," they said. And the difficulty was not only with 
the bridge, but with the engine-room. In order to keep the 
ships constantly the same distance apart it would be 
necessary accurately to regulate their speed ; the battleships 
could do this because they had certain elaborate devices, 
which the merchant vessels lacked, for timing the revolu- 


tions of the engines. The poor quality of the coal which 
they were obtaining would also make it difficult to maintain 
a regular speed. 

Admiral Jellicoe then asked the masters whether they 
could sail in twos or threes and keep station. 

" Two might do it, but three would be too many," was 
the discouraging verdict. But the imasters were positive 
that even two merchantmen could not safely keep station 
abreast in the night-time without lights ; two such vessels 
would have to sail in single file, the leading ship showing a 
stern light. The masters emphasized their conviction that 
they preferred to sail alone, each ship for herself, and to let 
each one take her chances of getting into port. 

And there the matter rested. I had the opportunity of 
discussing the convoy system with several merchant 
captains, and in these discussions they simply echoed the 
views which had been expressed at this formal conference. 
I do not believe that British naval officers came in contact 
with a single merchant master who favoured the convoy at 
that time. They were not doubtful about the idea ; they 
were openly hostile. The British merchant captains are a 
magnificent body of seamen ; their first thought was to 
serve their country and the Allied cause ; their attitude in 
this matter was not obstinacy ; it simply resulted from their 
sincere conviction that the convoy system would entail 
greater shipping losses than were then being inflicted by the 
German submarines. 

Many naval officers at that time shared the same view. 
They opposed the convoy not only on these grounds ; its 
introduction would mean immediately cutting down the 
tonnage 15 or 20 per cent., because of the time which would 
be consumed in assembling the ships and awaiting escorts 
and in the slower average speed which they could make. 
Many ship owners and directors of steamship companies 
expressed the same opinions. They also objected to the 
convoy on the ground that it would cause considerable delay 
and hence would result in loss of earnings. Yet the attitude 
of the merchant marine had not entirely eliminated the 
convoy from consideration. At the time when I arrived the 
proposal was still being discussed ; the rate at which the 
Germans were sinking merchantmen made this inevitable. 
And there seemed to be two schools among Allied naval 
men, one of which was opposed to the convoy, while the 


other insisted that it should be given a trial. The convoy 
had one irresistible attraction for the officer which seemed to 
counterbalance all the objections which were being urged 
against it. Its adoption would mean taking the offensive 
against the German submarines. The essential defect of 
the patrol system, as it was then conducted, was that it was 
primarily a defensive measure. Each destroyer cruised 
around in an assigned area, ready to assist vessels in distress, 
escort ships through her own " square " and, incidentally, 
to attack a submarine when the opportunity was presented. 
But the mere fact that a destroyer was patrolling a particular 
area meant only, as already explained, that the submarine 
had occasionally to sink out of sight until she had passed by. 
Consequently the submarine proceeded to operate whenever 
a destroyer was not in sight, and this was necessarily most 
of the time, for the submarine zone was such a big place and 
the Allied destroyer fleet was so pitifully small that it was 
impossible to cover it effectively. Under these conditions 
there were very few encounters between destroyers and sub- 
marines, at least in the waters south and west of Ireland, for 
the submarines took all precautions against getting close 
enough to be sighted by the destroyers. 

But the British and French navies were not the only ones 
which, at this time, were depending upon the patrol as a 
protection against the subsurface boat. The American 
navy was committing precisely the same error off our 
Atlantic coast. As soon as Congress declared war against 
Germany we expected that at least a few of the U-boats 
would cross the Atlantic and attack American shipping ; 
indeed, many believed that some had already crossed in 
anticipation of war ; the papers were filled with silly stories 
about " submarine bases " in Mexican waters, on the New 
England coast, and elsewhere ; submarines were even 
reported entering Long Island Sound ; nets were stretched 
across the Narrows to keep them out of New York Harbour ; 
and our coasting vessels saw periscopes and the wakes of 
torpedoes everywhere from Maine to Florida. So prevalent 
was this apprehension that, in the early days of the war, 
American destroyers regularly patrolled our coast looking 
for these far-flung submarines. Yet the idea of seeking 
them this way was absurd. Even had we known where the 
submarine was located there would have been little likeli- 
hood that we could ever have sighted it, to say nothing of 


getting near it. We might have learned that a German 
U-boat was operating off Cape Cod ; we might have had the 
exact latitude and longitude of the location which it was 
expected that it would reach at a particular moment. At 
the time the message was sent the submarine might have 
been lying on the surface ready to attack a passing mer- 
chantman, but even under these conditions the destroyer 
could never have reached her quarry, for as soon as the 
U-boat saw the enemy approaching it would simply have 
ducked under the water and remained there in perfect 
safety. When all danger had passed it would again have 
bobbed up to the surface as serenely as you please, and gone 
ahead with its appointed task of sinking merchant ships. 
One of the astonishing things about this war was that many 
of the naval officers of all countries did not seem to under- 
stand until a very late date that it was utterly futile to send 
anti-submarine surface craft out into the wide ocean to 
attack or chase away submarines. The thing to do, of 
course, was to make the submarines come to the anti- 
submarine craft and fight in order to get merchantmen. 

I have made this point before, and I now repeat the 
explanation to emphasize that the patrol system was 
necessarily unsuccessful, because it made almost impossible 
any combats with submarines and afforded very little 
protection to shipping. The advantage of the convoy 
system, as its advocates now urged, was precisely that it 
made such combats inevitable. In other words, it meant 
offensive warfare. It was proposed to surround each con- 
voy with a protecting screen of destroyers in precisely the 
same way that the battle fleet was protected. Thus we 
should compel any submarine which was planning to 
torpedo a convoyed ship to do so only in waters that were 
infested with destroyers. In order to get into position to 
discharge its missile the submarine would have to creep up 
close to the rim that marked the circle of these destroyers. 
Just as soon as the torpedo started on its course and the 
tell-tale wake appeared on the surface the protecting ships 
would immediately begin sowing the waters with their 
depth charges. Thus in the future the Germans would be 
compelled to fight for every ship which they should attempt 
to sink, instead of sinking them conveniently in waters that 
were free of destroyers, as had hitherto been their privilege. 
Already the British had demonstrated that such a screen of 


destroyers could protect merchant ships as well as war 
vessels. They were making this fact clear every day in the 
successful transportation of troops and supplies across the 
Channel. In this region they had established an immune 
zone, which was constantly patrolled by destroyers and 
other anti-submarine craft, and through these the merchant 
fleets were constantly passing with complete safety. The 
proposal to convoy all merchant ships was a proposal to 
apply this same system on a much broader scale. If we 
should arrange our ships in compact convoys and protect 
them with destroyers we would really create another 
immune zone of this kind, and this would be different from 
the one established across the Channel only in that it would 
be a movable one. In this way we should establish about 
a square mile of the surface of the ocean in which submarines 
could not operate without great danger, and then we could 
move that square mile along until port was reached. 

The advantages of the convoy were thus so apparent that, 
despite the pessimistic attitude of the merchant captains, 
there were a number of officers in the British navy who kept 
insisting that it should be tried. In this discussion I took 
my stand emphatically with these officers. From the 
beginning I had believed in this method of combating the 
U-boat warfare. Certain early experiences had led me to 
believe that the merchant captains were wrong in under- 
estimating the quality of their own seamanship. It was my 
conviction that these intelligent and hardy men did not 
really know how capable they were at handling ships. In 
my discussions with them they disclosed an exaggerated 
idea of the seamanly ability of naval officers in manoeuvring 
their large fleets. They attributed this to the superior 
training of the men and to the special manoeuvring qualities 
of the ship. " Warships are built so that they can keep 
station, and turn at any angle at a moment's notice," they 
would say, " but we haven't any men on our ships who can 
do these things." As a matter of fact, these men were 
entirely in error and I knew it. Their practical experience 
in handling ships of all sizes, shapes, and speeds under a 
great variety of conditions is in reality much more extensive 
than naval officers can possibly enjoy. I learned this more 
than thirty years ago, when stationed on the Pennsylvania 
schoolship, teaching the boys navigation. This was one 
of the most valuable experiences of my life, for it brought 


me in every-day contact with merchant seamen, and it was 
then that I made the discovery which proved so valuable 
to me now. 

It is true that merchant captains had much to learn 
about steaming and manoeuvring in formation, but I was 
sure they could pick it up quickly and carry it out success- 
fully under the direction of naval officers the convoy 
commander being always a naval officer. 

The naval officer not only has a group of vessels that are 
practically uniform in speed and ability to turn around 
quickly, but he is provided also with various instruments 
which enable him to keep the revolutions of his engines con- 
stant, to measure distances and the like. Moreover, as a 
junior officer, he is schooled in manoeuvring these very ships 
for some years before he is trusted with the command of one 
of them, and he, therefore, not only knows their peculiarities, 
but also those of their captains the latter very useful 
information, by the way. 

Though it was necessary for the merchantmen, on the 
other hand, to bring their much clumsier ships into forma- 
tion with perhaps thirty entirely strange vessels of different 
sizes, shapes, speeds, nationalities, and manoeuvring 
qualities, yet I was confident that they were competent to 
handle them successfully under these difficult conditions. 
Indeed, afterward, one of my most experienced destroyer 
commanders reported that while he was escorting a convoy 
of twenty-eight ships they kept their stations quite as well 
as battleships, while they were executing two manoeuvres 
to avoid a submarine. 

Such influence as I possessed at this time, therefore, I 
threw in with the group of British officers which was advo- 
cating the convoy. 

There was, however, still one really serious impediment to 
adopting this convoy system, and that was that the number 
of destroyers available was insufficient. The British, 
for reasons which have been explained, did not have the 
necessary destroyers for this work, and this was what made so 
very important the participation of the United States in the 
naval war for our navy possessed the additional vessels 
that would make possible the immediate adoption of the 
convoy system. I do not wish to say that the convoy 
would not have been established had we not sent destroyers 
for that purpose, yet I do not see how otherwise it could 


have been established in any complete and systematic way 
at such an early date. And we furnished other ships than 
destroyers, for besides providing what I have called the 
modern convoy that which protects the compact mass of 
vessels from submarines it was necessary also to furnish 
escorts after the old Napoleonic plan. It was the business 
of the destroyers to conduct the merchantmen only through 
the submarine zone. They did not take them the whole 
distance across the ocean, for there was little danger of 
submarine attack until the ships had arrived in the infested 
waters. This would have been impossible in any case with 
the limited number of destroyers. But from the time the 
convoys left the home port there was a possibility that the 
same kind of attack would be launched as that to which 
convoys were subjected in Nelsonian days ; there was the 
danger, that is, that surface war vessels, raiders or cruisers, 
might escape from their German bases and swoop down 
upon them. We always had before our minds the activities 
of the Moewe, and we therefore deemed it necessary to 
escort the convoys across the ocean with battleships and 
cruisers, just as was the practice a century ago. The 
British did not have ships enough available for this purpose, 
and here again the American navy was able to supply the 
lack ; for we had a number of pre -dreadnoughts and cruisers 
that were ideally adapted to this kind of work. 


On April 30th I received a message from Admiral Jellicoe 
requesting me to visit him at the Admiralty. When I 
arrived he said that the projected study of the convoy 
system had been made, and he handed me a copy of it. It 
had been decided to send one experimental convoy from 
Gibraltar. The Admiralty, he added, had not yet definitely 
decided that the convoy system should be adopted, but 
there was every intention of giving it a thorough and fair 
trial. That same evening at dinner I met Mr. Lloyd George, 
Sir Edward Carson, and Lord Milner, and once more dis- 
cussed w r ith them the whole convoy idea. I found the 
Prime Minister especially favourable to the plan and, in 
fact, civilians in general were more kindly disposed toward 
the convoy than seamen, because they were less familiar 
with the nautical and shipping difficulties. which it involved. 


Naval officers were immediately sent to Gibraltar to 
instruct the merchant masters in the details of assembling 
and conducting vessels. Eight-knot ships were selected for 
the experiment, and a number of destroyers were assigned 
for their protection. The merchant captains, as was to be 
expected, regarded the whole enterprise suspiciously, but 
entered into it with the proper spirit. 

On May 20th that first convoy arrived at its English 
destination in perfect condition. The success with which 
it made the voyage disproved all the pessimistic opinions 
which the merchant sailors had entertained about them- 
selves. They suddenly discovered, as I had contended, 
that they could do practically everything which, in their 
conferences with the Admiralty, they had declared that 
they were unable to do. In those meetings they had 
asserted that not more than two ships could keep station ; 
but now they discovered that the whole convoy could sail 
with stipulated distances between the vessels and keep 
this formation with little difficulty. They were drilled on 
the way in zigzagging and manoeuvring a practice carried 
out subsequently with all convoys and by the time they 
reached the danger zone they found that, in obedience to 
a prearranged signal, all the ships could turn as a single one, 
and perform all the zigzag evolutions which the situation 
demanded. They had asserted that they could not sail at 
night without lights and that an attempt to do so would 
result in many collisions, but the experimental convoy 
proved that this was merely another case of self-delusion. 
Naturally the arrival" of this convoy caused the greatest 
satisfaction in the Admiralty, but the most delighted men 
were the merchant captains themselves, for the whole thing 
was to them a complete revelation of their seamanly ability, 
and naturally it flattered their pride. The news of this 
arrival naturally travelled fast in shipping circles ; it com- 
pletely changed the attitude of the merchant sailors, and 
the chief opponents of the convoy now became its most 
enthusiastic advocates. 

Outside shipping circles, however, nothing about this 
convoy was known at that time. Yet May 20th, the date 
when it reached England safely, marked one of the great 
turning-points of the war. That critical voyage meant 
nothing less than that the Allies had found the way of 
defeating the German submarine. The world might still 


clamour for a specific " invention " that would destroy all 
the submarines overnight, or it might demand that the 
Allies should block them in their bases, or suggest that they 
might do any number of impossible things, but the naval 
chiefs of the Allies discovered, on May 20, 1917, that they 
could defeat the German campaign even without these 
rather uncertain aids. The submarine danger was by no 
means ended when this first convoy arrived ; many anxious 
months still lay ahead of us ; other means would have to be 
devised that would supplement the convoy ; yet the all- 
important fact was that the Allied chiefs now realized, for 
the first time, that the problem was not an insoluble one ; 
and that, with hard work and infinite patience, they could 
keep open the communications that were essential to vic- 
tory. The arrival of these weather-beaten ships thus 
brought the assurance that the armies and the civilian 
populations could be supplied with food and materials, and 
that the seas could be kept open for the transportation of 
American troops to France. In fine, it meant that the 
Allies could win the war. 

On May 21st the British Admiralty, which this experi- 
mental convoy had entirely converted, voted to adopt the 
convoy system for all merchant shipping. Not long after- 
ward the second convoy arrived safely from Hampton 
Roads, and then other convoys began to put in from Scan- 
dinavian ports. On July 21st I was able definitely to 
report to Washington that " the success of the convoys so 
far brought in shows that the system will defeat the sub- 
marine campaign if applied generally and in time." 

But while we recognize the fact that the convoy pre- 
served our communications and so made possible the 
continuation of the war, we must not overlook a vitally 
important element in its success. In describing the work 
of the destroyer, which was the protecting arm of the 
convoy, I have said nothing about the forces that really 
laid the whole foundation of the anti-submarine campaign. 
All the time that these destroyers were fighting off the 
submarines the power that made possible their operations 
was cruising quietly in the North Sea, doing its work so 
inconspicuously that the world was hardly aware of its 
existence. For back of all these operations lay the mighty 
force of the Grand Fleet. Admiral Beatty's dreadnoughts 
and battle cruisers, which were afterward supplemented 


by a fine squadron of American ships, kept the German 
surface vessels penned in their harbours and in this way 
left the ocean free for the operations of the Allied surface 
craft. I have already said that, in April, 1917, the Allied 
navies, while they controlled the surface of the water, did 
not control the subsurface, which at that time was prac- 
tically at the disposition of the Germans. Yet the deter- 
mining fact, as we were now to learn, was that this control 
of the surface was to give us the control of the subsurface 
also. Only the fact that the battleships kept the German 
fleet at bay made it possible for the destroyers and other 
surface craft to do their beneficent work. In an open sea 
battle their surface navies would have disposed of the 
German fleet ; but let us suppose for a moment that an 
earthquake, or some other great natural disturbance, had 
engulfed the British fleet at Scapa Flow. The world 
would then have been at Germany's mercy and all the 
destroyers the Allies could have put upon the sea would 
have availed them nothing, for the German battleships and 
battle cruisers could have sunk them or driven them into 
their ports. Then Allied commerce would have been the 
prey, not only of the submarines, which could have oper- 
ated with the utmost freedom, but of the German surface 
craft as well. In a few weeks the British food supplies 
would have been exhausted. There would have been an 
early end to the soldiers and munitions which Britain was 
constantly sending to France. The United States could 
have sent no forces to the Western Front and the result 
would have been the surrender which the Allies them- 
selves, in the spring of 1917, regarded as not a remote 
possibility. America would then have been compelled to 
face the German power alone, and to face it long before 
we had had an opportunity of assembling our resources 
and of equipping our armies. The world was preserved 
from all these calamities because the destroyer and the 
convoy solved the problem of the submarine and because 
back of these agencies of victory lay Admiral Beatty's 
squadrons, holding at arm's length the German surface 
ships while these comparatively fragile craft were saving 
the liberties of the world. 



OUR first division of destroyers reached Queenstown on 
a Friday morning, May 4, 1917 ; the following Monday 
they put to sea on the business of hunting the submarine 
and protecting commerce. For the first month or six 
weeks they spent practically all their time on patrol duty 
in company with British destroyers, sloops, and other 
patrol vessels. Though the convoy system was formally 
adopted in the latter part of May, it was not operating 
completely and smoothly until August or September. 
Many troop and merchant convoys were formed in the 
intervening period and many were conducted through the 
submarine zone by American destroyers ; but our ships 
spent much time sailing singly, hunting for such enemies 
as might betray their presence, or escorting individual 
cargoes. The early experiments had demonstrated the 
usefulness of the convoy system, yet a certain number of 
pessimists still refused to accept it as the best solution of 
the shipping problem ; and to reorganize practically all 
the shipping of the world, scattered everywhere on the 
seven seas, necessarily took time. 

But this intervening period furnished indispensable 
training for our men. They gained an every-day fami- 
liarity with the waters which were to form the scene of 
their operations and learned many of the tricks of the 
German submarines. It was a strange world in which 
these young Americans now found themselves. The life 
was a hard one, of course, in those tempestuous Irish 
waters, with the little destroyers jumping from wave to 
wave, sometimes showing daylight beneath their keels, 
their bows frequently pointing skyward, or plunged deep 
into heavy seas, and their sides occasionally ploughing along 



under the foamy waves. For days the men lived in a 
world of fog and mist ; rain in those regions seemed to 
be almost the normal state of nature. Much has been 
written about the hardships of life aboard the destroyer, 
and to these narratives our men could add many details 
of their own. These hardships, however, did not weigh 
heavily upon them, for existence in those waters, though 
generally monotonous, possessed at times plenty of interest 
and excitement. The very appearance of the sea showed 
that our men were engaging in a kind of warfare very 
different from that for which they had been trained. The 
enormous amount of shipping seemed to give the lie to 
the German reports that British commerce had been prac- 
tically arrested. A perpetual stream of all kinds of 
vessels, liners, tramps, schooners, and fishing boats, was 
passing toward the Irish and the English coasts. Yet 
here and there other floating objects on the surface told 
the story. Now it was a stray boat filled with the sur- 
vivors of a torpedoed vessel ; now a raft on which lay 
the bodies of dead men ; now the derelict hulk of a ship 
which the Germans had abandoned as sunk, but which 
persisted in floating aimlessly around, a constant danger 
to navigation. Loose mines, bobbing in the water, hinted 
at the perils that were constantly threatening our forces. 
In the tense imagination of the lookouts floating spars or 
other debris easily took the form of periscopes. Queer- 
looking sailing vessels, at a distance, aroused suspicions 
that they might be submarines in disguise. A phosphor- 
escent trail in the water was sometimes mistaken for the 
wake of a torpedo. The cover of a hatchway floating on 
the surface, if seen at a distance of a few hundred yards, 
looked much like the conning-tower of a submarine, while 
the back of an occasional whale gave a life-like representa- 
tion of a U-boat awash in fact, so life-like was it that on 
one occasion several of our submarine chasers on the 
English coast dropped depth charges on a whale and 
killed it. 

But it was the invisible rather than the visible evidences 
of warfare that especially impressed our men. The air all 
around them was electric with life and information. One 
had only to put the receiver of the wireless to his ear to 
find himself in a new and animated world. The atmosphere 
was constantly spluttering messages of all kinds coming 


from all kinds of places. Sometimes these were sent by 
Admiral Bayly from Queenstown ; they would direct our 
men to go to an indicated spot and escort an especially 
valuable cargo ship ; they would tell a particular com- 
mander that a submarine was lying at a designated lati- 
tude and longitude and instruct him to go and " get " it. 
Running conversations were frequently necessary between 
destroyers and the ships which they had been detailed to 
escort. " Give me your position," the destroyer would 
ask. " What is the name of your assistant surgeon, and 
who is his friend on board our ship ? " the suspicious vessel 
would reply such precaution being necessary to give 
assurance that the query had not come from a German 
submarine. " Being pursued by a submarine Lat. 50 N., 
Long. 15 W." cries of distress like this were common. 
Another message would tell of a vessel that was being 
shelled ; another would tell of a ship that was sinking ; 
while other messages would give the location of lifeboats 
which were filled with survivors and ask for speedy help. 
Our wireless operators not only received the news of 
friends, but also the messages of enemies. Conversations 
between German submarines frequently filled the air. 
They sometimes attempted to deceive us by false " S.O.S." 
signals, hoping that in this way they could get an oppor- 
tunity to torpedo any vessel that responded to the call. 
But these attempts were unsuccessful, for our wireless 
operators had no difficulty in recognizing the " spark " of 
the German instruments. At times the surface of the 
ocean might be calm ; there would not be a ship in sight 
or a sign of human existence anywhere ; yet the air itself 
would be uninterruptedly filled with these reminders of 

The duties of our destroyers, in these earliest days, were 
to hunt for submarines, to escort single ships, to pick up 
survivors in boats, and to go to the rescue of ships that 
were being attacked. For the purpose of patrol the sea 
was divided into areas thirty miles square ; and to each 
of these one destroyer, sloop, or other vessel was assigned. 
The ship was required to keep within its allotted area, 
unless the pursuit of a submarine should lead it into a 
neighbouring one. This patrol, as I have described, was 
not a satisfactory way of fighting submarines. A vessel 
would occasionally get a distant glimpse of the enemy, 


but that was all ; as soon as the U-boat saw the ship, it 
simply dived to security beneath the waves. Our de- 
stroyers had many chances to fire at the enemy but usually 
at very long ranges ; some of them had lively scraps, 
which perhaps involved the destruction of U-boats, though 
this was always a difficult thing to prove. Yet the mere 
fact that submarines were seldom sunk by destroyers on 
patrol, either by ourselves or by the Allies, did not mean 
that the latter accomplished nothing. The work chiefly 
expected of destroyers on patrol was that they should 
keep the U-boats under the surface as much as possible 
and protect commerce. Normally the submarine sails on 
top of the water, looking for its prey. As long as it is 
beyond the merchantmen's range of vision, it uses its high 
surface speed of about 14 knots to attain a position ahead 
of the advancing vessel ; before the surface vessel reaches 
a point where its lookout can see the submarine, the U-boat 
dives and awaits the favourable moment for firing its 
torpedo. It cannot take these preliminary steps if there 
is a destroyer anywhere in the neighbourhood ; the mere 
presence of such a warship therefore constitutes a con- 
siderable protection to any merchant ship that is within 
sight. The submarine normally prefers to use its guns 
on merchant ships, for the torpedoes are expensive and 
comparatively few in number. Destroyers constantly 
interfered with these gunning operations. A long distance 
shot usually was sufficient to make the under-water vessel 
submerge and thus lose its power for doing harm. The 
early experiences of our destroyers with submarines were 
of this kind ; but the work of chasing U-boats under the 
water, escorting a small proportion of the many cargo 
ships, and picking up survivors, important as it was, did 
not really constitute effective anti-submarine warfare. It 
gave our men splendid training, it saved many a merchant 
ship, it rescued many victims from the extreme dangers 
of German ruthlessness, it sank a small number of sub- 
marines, but it could never have won the war. 

This patrol by destroyers and light surface vessels has 
been criticized as affording an altogether ineffective 
method of protecting shipping, especially when compared 
with the convoy system. This criticism is, of course, 
justified ; still we must understand that it was the only 
possible method until we had enough anti-submarine craft 


to make the convoy practicable. Nor must we forget that 
this Queenstown patrol was organized systematically and 
operated with admirable skill and tireless energy. Most 
of this duty fell at this time upon the British destroyers, 
sloops, and other patrol vessels, which were under the 
command of Admiral Bayly, and these operations were 
greatly aided by the gallant actions of the British Q-ships, 
or " mystery ships." Though some of the admirable 
exploits of these vessels will be recorded in due time, it 
may be said here that the record which these ships made 
was not only in all respects worthy of the traditions of 
their great service, but also that they exhibited an endur- 
ance, a gallantry, and seamanlike skill that has few parallels 
in the history of naval warfare. 


The headquarters of the convoy system was a room in 
the British Admiralty ; herein was the mainspring of the 
elaborate mechanism by which ten thousand ships were con- 
'ducted over the seven oceans. Here every morning those 
who had been charged with the security of the Allies' lines 
of communication reviewed the entire submarine situa- 
tion. Vice-Admiral Sir Alexander L. Duff, R.N., bore 
this heavy responsibility, ably assisted by a number of 
British officers. Captain Byron A. Long, U.S.N., a 
member of my staff, was associated with Admiral Duff 
in this important work. It was Captain Long's duty to 
co-ordinate the movements of our convoys with the much 
more numerous convoys of the Allies ; he performed this 
task so efficiently that, once the convoy organization was 
in successful operation, I eliminated the whole subject 
from my anxieties and requested Captain Long not to in- 
form me when troop convoys sailed from the United 
States or when they were due to arrive hi France or Eng- 
land. There seemed to be no reason why both of us 
should lose sleep over the same cause. 

The most conspicuous feature of the convoy room was a 
huge chart, entirely covering the wall on one side of the 
office ; access to this chart was obtained by ladders not 
unlike those which are used in shoe stores. It gave a 
comprehensive view of the North and South American 
coast, the Atlantic Ocean, the British Isles, and a consider- 


able part of Europe and Africa. The ports which it 
especially emphasized were Sydney (Cape Breton), Halifax, 
New York, Hampton Roads, Gibraltar, and Sierra Leone 
and Dakar, ports on the west coast of Africa. Thin threads 
were stretched from each one of these seven points to 
certain positions in the ocean just outside the British 
Isles, and on these threads were little paper boats, each 
one of which represented a convoy. When a particular 
convoy started from New York, one of these paper boats 
was placed at that point ; as it made its way across the 
ocean, the boat was moved from day to day in accordance 
with the convoy's progress. At any moment, therefore, 
a mere glance at this chart, with its multitude of paper 
boats, gave the spectator the precise location of all the 
commerce which was then en route to the scene of war. 

But there were other exhibits on the chart which were 
even more conspicuous than these minute representations 
of convoys. Little circles were marked off in the waters 
surrounding the British Isles, each one of which was in- 
tended to show the location of a German submarine. From 
day to day each one of these circles was moved in accor- 
dance with the ascertained positions of the submarine 
which it represented, a straight line indicating its course 
on the chart. Perhaps the most remarkable fact about 
the Allied convoy service was the minute information 
which it possessed about the movements of German sub- 
marines. A kind of separate intelligence bureau devoted 
its entire attention to this subject. Readers of detective 
stories are familiar with the phenomenon known as 
" shadowing." It is a common practice in the detective's 
fascinating profession to assign a man, known as a 
" shadow," to the duty of keeping a particular person 
under constant observation. With admirable patience 
and skill an experienced " shadow " keeps in view this 
object of his attention for twenty-four hours ; he dogs 
him through crowded streets, tracks him up and down 
high office buildings, accompanies him to restaurants, 
trolley cars, theatres, and hotels, and unobtrusively chases 
him through dense thoroughfares in cabs and automobiles. 
" We get him up in the morning and we put him to bed 
at night " is the way the " shadow " describes the assiduous 
care which he bestows upon his unsuspecting victim. In 
much the same fashion did the Allied secret service 


" shadow " German submarines ; it got each submarine 
"up in the morning and put it to bed at night." That is 
to say, the intelligence department took charge of Fritz 
and his crew as they emerged from their base, and kept 
an unwearied eye upon them until they sailed back home. 
The great chart in the convoy room of the Admiralty 
showed, within the reasonable limits of human fallibility, 
where each submarine was operating at a particular 
moment, and it also kept minute track of its performances. 
Yet it was not so difficult to gather this information as 
may at first be supposed. I have already said that there 
were comparatively few submarines, perhaps not more 
than an average of eight or nine, which were operating at 
the same time in the waters south and west of Ireland, 
the region with which we Americans were most concerned. 
These boats betrayed their locations in a multitude of 
ways. Their commanders were particularly careless in 
the use of wireless. The Germanic passion for conversa- 
tion could not be suppressed even on the U-boats, even 
though this national habit might lead to the most serious 
consequences. Possibly also the solitary submarine felt 
lonely ; at any rate, as soon as it reached the Channel or 
the North Sea, it started an almost uninterrupted flow of 
talk. The U-boats communicated principally with each 
other, and also with the Admiralty at home ; and, in 
doing this, they gave away their positions to the assidu- 
ously listening Allies. The radio -direction finder, an 
apparatus by which we can instantaneously locate the 
position from which a wireless message is sent, was the 
mechanism which furnished us much of this information. 
Of course, the Germans knew that their messages revealed 
their locations, for they had direction finders as well as 
we, but the fear of discovery did not act as a curb upon a 
naturally loquacious nature. And we had other ways of 
following their movements. The submarine spends much 
the larger part of its time on the surface. Sailing thus 
conspicuously, it was constantly being sighted by mer- 
chant or military ships, which had explicit instructions 
to report immediately the elusive vessel, and to give its 
exact location. Again it is obvious that a submarine 
could not fire at a merchantman or torpedo one, or even 
attempt to torpedo one, without revealing its presence. 
The wireless operators of all merchant vessels were supplied 


at all times with the longitude and latitude of their ships ; 
their instructions required them immediately to send out 
this information whenever they sighted a submarine or 
were attacked by one. In these several ways we had 
little difficulty in "shadowing" the U-boats. For ex- 
ample, we would hear that the [7-53 was talking just out- 
side of Heligoland ; this submarine would be immediately 
plotted on the chart. As the submarine made only 
about ten knots on the surface, in order to save fuel oil, and 
much less under the surface, we could draw a circle around 
this point, and rest assured that the boat must be some- 
where within this circle at a given time. But in a few 
hours or a day we would hear from this same boat again ; 
perhaps it was using its wireless or attacking a merchant- 
man ; or perhaps one of our vessels had spotted it on the 
surface. The news of this new location would justify the 
convoy officers in moving this submarine on our chart to 
this new position. Within a short time the convoy officers 
acquired an astonishingly intimate knowledge of these 
boats and the habits of their commanders. Indeed, the 
personalities of some of these German officers ultimately 
took shape with surprising clearness ; for they betrayed 
their presence in the ocean by characteristics that often 
furnished a means of identifying them. Each submarine 
behaved in a different way from the others, the difference, 
of course, representing the human element in control. 
One would deliver his attacks in rapid succession, boldly 
and almost recklessly ; another would approach his task 
with the utmost caution ; certain ones would display the 
meanest traits in human nature ; while others let us be 
just were capable of a certain display of generosity, and 
possibly even of chivalry. By studying the individual 
traits of each commander we could often tell just which 
one was operating at a given time ; and this information 
was extremely valuable in the game in which we were 

44 Old Hans is out again," the officers in the convoy 
room would remark. 

They were speaking of Hans Rose, the commander of 
the C7-53 ; this was that same submarine officer who, in 
the fall of 1916, brought that boat to Newport, Rhode 
Island, and torpedoed five or six ships off Nantucket. 
Our men never saw Hans Rose face to face ; they had 

1917] HANS ROSE 107 

not the faintest idea whether he was fat or lean, whether 
he was fair or dark ; yet they knew his military charac- 
teristics intimately. He became such a familiar personality 
in the convoy room and his methods of operation were so 
individual, that we came to have almost a certain liking 
for the old chap. Other U-boat commanders would appear 
off the hunting grounds and attack ships in more or less 
easy-going fashion. Then another boat would suddenly 
appear, and bang ! bang ! bang ! Torpedo after tor- 
pedo would fly, four or five ships would sink, and then this 
disturbing person would vanish as unexpectedly as he 
had arrived. Such an experience informed the convoy 
officers that Hans Rose was once more at large. We 
acquired a certain respect for Hans because he was a 
brave man who would take chances which most of his 
compatriots would avoid ; and, above all, because he 
played his desperate game with a certain decency. Some- 
times, when he torpedoed a ship, Rose would wait around 
until all the lifeboats were filled ; he would then throw 
out a tow line, give the victims food, and keep all the 
survivors together until the rescuing destroyer appeared 
on the horizon, when he would let go and submerge. This 
humanity involved considerable risk to Captain Rose, 
for a destroyer anywhere in his neighbourhood, as he well 
knew, was a serious matter. It was he who torpedoed 
our destroyer, the Jacob Jones. He took a shot at her 
from a distance of two miles a distance from which a 
hit is a pure chance ; and the torpedo struck and sank the 
vessel within a few minutes. On this occasion Rose acted 
with his usual decency. The survivors of the Jacob Jones 
naturally had no means of communication, since the 
wireless had gone down with their ship ; and now Rose, 
at considerable risk to himself, sent out an " S.O.S." call, 
giving the latitude and longitude, and informing Queens- 
town that the men were floating around in open boats. 
It is perhaps not surprising that Rose is one of the few 
German U-boat commanders with whom Allied naval 
officers would be willing to-day to shake hands. I have 
heard naval officers say that they would like to meet him 
after the war. 

We were able to individualize other commanders ; the 
business of acquiring this knowledge, learning the location 
of their submarines and the characteristics of their boats, 


and using this vital information in protecting convoys, 
was all part of the game which was being played in London. 
It was the' greatest game of "chess" which history has 
known a game that exacted not only the most faithful 
and studious care, but one in which it was necessary that 
all the activities should be centralized in one office. This 
small group of officers in the Admiralty convoy room, 
composed of representatives of all the nations concerned, 
exercised a control which extended throughout the entire 
convoy system. It regulated the dates when convoys 
sailed from America or other ports and when they arrived ; 
if it had not taken charge of this whole system, congestion 
and confusion would inevitably have resulted. We had 
only a limited number of destroyers to escort all troops 
and other important convoys arriving in Europe ; it was 
therefore necessary that they should arrive at regular and 
predetermined intervals. It was necessary also that one 
group of officers should control the routing of all convoys, 
otherwise there would have been serious danger of colli- 
sions between outward and inward bound ships, and no 
possibility of routing them clear of the known positions 
of submarines. The great centre of all this traffic was 
not New York or Hampton Roads, but London. It was 
inevitable, if the convoy system was to succeed, that it 
should have a great central headquarters, and it was just 
as inevitable that this headquarters should be London. 

On the huge chart already described the convoys, each 
indicated by a little boat, were shown steadily making 
their progress toward the appointed rendezvous. Eight 
or nine submarines, likewise indicated on the chart, were 
always waiting to intercept them. On that great board 
the prospective tragedies of the seas were thus unfolding 
before our eyes. Here, for example, was a New York 
convoy of twenty ships, steaming toward Liverpool, but 
steering straight toward the position of a submarine. The 
thing to do was perfectly plain. It was a simple matter 
to send the convoy a wireless message to take a course 
fifty miles to the south where, according to the chart, 
there were no hidden enemies. In a few hours the little 
paper boat, which represented this group of ships and 
which was apparently headed for destruction, would 
suddenly turn southward, pass around the entirely un- 
conscious submarine, and then take an unobstructed 


course for its destination. The Admiralty convoy board 
knew so accurately the position of all the submarines 
that it could almost always route the convoys around 
them. It was an extremely interesting experience to 
watch the paper ships on this chart deftly turn out of the 
course of U-boats, sometimes when they seemed almost 
on the point of colliding with them. That we were able 
constantly to save the ships by sailing the convoys around 
the submarines brings out the interesting fact that, even 
had there been no destroyer escort, the convoy in itself 
would have formed a great protection to merchant shipping. 
There were times when we had no escorting vessels to send 
with certain convoys ; and in such instances we simply 
routed the ships in masses, directed them on courses 
which we knew were free of submarines, and in this way 
brought them safely into port. 


The Admiralty in London was thus the central nervous 
system of a complicated but perfectly working organism 
which reached the remotest corners of the world. Wher- 
ever there was a port, whether in South America, Aus- 
tralia, or in the most inaccessible parts of India or China, 
from which merchantmen sailed to any of the other 
countries which were involved in the war, representatives 
of the British navy and the British Government were 
stationed, all working harmoniously with shipping men 
in the effort to get their cargoes safely through the danger 
zones. These danger zones occupied a comparatively 
small area surrounding the belligerent countries, but the 
safeguarding of the ships was an elaborate process which 
began far back in the countries from which the commerce 
started. Until about July, 1917, the world's shipping for 
the most part had been unregulated ; now for the first 
time it was arranged in hard and fast routes and despatched 
in accordance with schedules as fixed as those of a great 
railroad. The whole management of convoys, indeed, 
bore many resemblances to the method of handling freight 
cars on the American system of trans-continental lines. In 
the United States there are several great headquarters 
of freight, sometimes known as " gateways," places, that 
is, at which freight cars are assembled from a thousand 


places, and from which the great accumulations are 
routed to their destinations. Such places are Pittsburg, 
Buffalo, St. Louis, Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver, San 
Francisco to mention only a few. Shipping destined for 
the belligerent nations was similarly assembled, in the 
years 1917 and 1918, at six or eight great ocean " gate- 
ways," and there formed into convoys for " through 
routing " to the British Isles, France, and the Mediter- 
ranean. Only a few of the ships that were exceptionally 
fast speed in itself being a particularly efficacious pro- 
tection against submarines were permitted to ignore this 
routing system, and dash unprotected through the infested 
area. This was a somewhat dangerous procedure even 
for such ships, however, and they were escorted whenever 
destroyers were available. All other vessels, from what- 
ever parts of the world they might come, were required 
to sail first for one of these great assembling points, or 
" gateways " ; and at these places they were added to 
one of the constantly forming convoys. Thus all shipping 
which normally sailed to Europe around the Cape of Good 
Hope proceeded up the west coast of Africa until it reached 
the port of Dakar or Sierra Leone, where it joined the 
convoy. Shipping from the east coast of South America 
ports like Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, Buenos Aires, and 
Montevideo instead of sailing directly to Europe, joined 
the convoy at this same African town. Vessels which 
came to Britain and France by way of Suez and Mediter- 
ranean ports found their great stopping place at Gibraltar 
a headquarters of traffic which, in the huge amount of 
freight which it " created," became almost the Pittsburg 
of this mammoth transportation system. The four 
" gateways " for North America and the west coast of 
South America were Sydney (Cape Breton), Halifax, 
New York, and Hampton Roads. The grain-laden mer- 
chantmen from the St. Lawrence valley rendezvoused at 
Sydney and Halifax. Vessels from Portland, Boston, 
New York, Philadelphia, and other Atlantic points found 
their assembling headquarters at New York, while ships 
from Baltimore, Norfolk, the Gulf of Mexico, and the 
west coast of South America proceeded to the great convoy 
centre which had been established at Hampton Roads. 

In the convoy room of the Admiralty these aggregations 
of ships were always referred to as the " Dakar convoy," 


the " Halifax convoy," the " Hampton Roads convoy," 
and the like. When the system was completely estab- 
lished the convoys sailed from their appointed head- 
quarters on regular schedules, like railroad trains. From 
New York one convoy departed every sixteen days for 
the west coast of England and one left every sixteen 
days for the east coast. From Hampton Roads one sailed 
every eight days to the west coast and one every eight 
days to the east coast, and convoys from all the other 
convoy points maintained a similarly rigid schedule. The 
dates upon which these sailings took place were fixed, 
like the arrivals and departures of trains upon a railroad 
time-table, except when it became necessary to delay the 
sailing of a convoy to avoid congestion of arrivals. Accord- 
ing to this programme, the first convoy to the west coast 
left New York on August 14, 1917, and its successors 
thereafter sailed at intervals of about sixteen days. The 
instructions sent to shipmasters all over the world, by 
way of the British consulates, gave explicit details con- 
cerning the method of assembling their convoys. 

Here, for example, was a ship at New York, all loaded 
and ready to sail for the war zone. The master visited 
the port officer at the British consulate, who directed 
him to proceed to Gravesend Bay, anchor his vessel, and 
report to the convoy officers for further instructions. The 
merchant captain, reaching this indicated spot, usually 
found several other vessels on hand, all of them, like his 
ship, waiting for the sailing date. The commander of the 
gathering convoy, under whose instructions all the mer- 
chantmen were to operate, was a naval officer, usually of 
the rank of commodore or captain, who maintained 
constant cable communication with the convoy room of 
the Admiralty and usually used one of the commercial 
vessels as his flagship. When the sailing day arrived 
usually from twenty to thirty merchantmen had assem- 
bled ; the commander summoned all their masters, gave 
each a blue book containing instructions for the manage- 
ment of convoyed ships, and frequently delivered some- 
thing in the nature of a lecture. Before the aggregation 
sailed it was joined by a cruiser or pre-dreadnought battle- 
ship of the American navy, or by a British or French 
cruiser. This ship was to accompany the convoy across 
the Atlantic as far as the danger zone ; its mission was 


not, as most people mistakenly believed, to protect the 
convoy from submarines, but 'to protect it from any 
surface German raider that might have escaped into the 
high seas. The Allied navies constantly had before their 
minds the exploits of the Emden ; the opportunity to 
break up a convoy in mid-ocean by dare-devil enterprises 
of this kind was so tempting that it seemed altogether 
likely that Germany might take advantage of it. To 
send twenty or thirty merchant ships across the Atlantic 
with no protection against such assaults would have 
been to invite a possible disaster. As a matter of fact, the 
last German raider that even attempted to gain the high 
seas was sunk in the North Sea by the British Patrol 
Squadron in February, 1917. 

On the appointed day the whole convoy weighed anchor 
and silently slipped out to sea. To such spectators as 
observed its movements it seemed to be a rather limping, 
halting procession. The speed of a convoy was the speed 
of its slowest ship, and vessels that could easily make 
twelve or fourteen knots were obliged to throttle down 
their engines, much to the disgust of their masters, in 
order to keep formation with a ship that made only eight 
or ten ; though whenever possible vessels of nearly equal 
speed sailed together. Little in the newly assembled 
group suggested the majesty of the sea. The ships formed 
a miscellaneous and ill-assorted company, rusty tramps 
shamefacedly sailing alongside of spick-and-span liners ; 
miserable little two- or three-thousand ton ships attempt- 
ing to hold up their heads in the same company with other 
ships of ten or twelve. The whole mass was sprawled 
over the sea in most ungainly fashion ; twenty or thirty 
ships, with spaces of nine hundred or a thousand yards 
stretching between them, took up not far from ten square 
miles of the ocean surface. Neither at this stage of the 
voyage did the aggregation give the idea of efficiency. It 
presented about as desirable a target as the submarine 
could have desired. But the period taken in crossing the 
ocean was entirely devoted to education. Under the 
tutorship of the convoy commander, the men composing 
the twenty or thirty crews went every day to school. 
For fifteen or twenty days upon the broad Atlantic they 
were trained in all the evolutions which were necessary 
for coping with the submarine. Every possible situation 


that could arise in the danger zone was anticipated and 
the officers and the crews were trained to meet it. They 
perfected themselves in the signal code ; they learned the 
art of making the sudden manoeuvres which were instan- 
taneously necessary when a submarine was sighted ; 
they acquired a mastery in the art of zigzagging ; and 
they became accustomed to sailing at night without lights. 
The crews were put through all the drills which prepared 
them to meet such crises as the landing of a torpedo in 
their engine-room or the sinking of the ship ; and they 
were thoroughly schooled in getting all hands safely into 
the boats. Possibly an occasional scare on the way over 
may have introduced the element of reality into these 
exercises ; though no convoys actually met submarines 
in the open ocean, the likelihood that they might do so 
was never absent, especially after the Germans began 
sending out their huge under-water cruisers. 

The convoy commander left his port with sealed orders, 
which he was instructed not to open until he was a hundred 
miles at sea. These orders, when the seal was broken, 
gave him the rendezvous assigned by Captain Long of the 
convoy board in London. The great chart in the convoy 
room at the Admiralty indicated the point to which the 
convoy was to proceed and at which it would be met by 
the destroyer escorts and taken through the danger zone. 
This particular New York convoy commander was now 
perhaps instructed to cross the thirtieth meridian at the 
fifty-second parallel of latitude, where he would be met by 
his escort. He laid his course for that point and regulated 
his speed so as to reach it at the appointed time. But he 
well knew that these instructions were only temporary. 
The precise point to which he would finally be directed to 
sail depended upon the movement and location of the 
German submarines at the time of his arrival. If the 
enemy became particularly active in the region of this 
tentative rendezvous, then, as the convoy approached it, 
a wireless from London would instruct the commander 
to steer abruptly to another point, perhaps a hundred 
miles to north or south. 

" Getting your convoy " was a searching test of destroyer 
seamanship, particularly in heavy or thick weather. It was 
not the simplest thing to navigate a group of destroyers 
through the tempestuous waters of the North Atlantic, with 



no other objective than the junction point of a certain 
meridian and parallel, and reach the designated spot at a 
certain hour. Such a feat demanded navigation ability of a 
high order ; and the skill which our American naval officers 
displayed in this direction aroused great admiration, 
especially on the part of the merchant skippers ; in partic- 
ular it aroused the astonishment of the average doughboy. 
Many destroyer escorts that went out to meet an incoming 
convoy also took out one which was westward bound. A 
few mishaps in the course of the war, such as the sinking of 
the Justicia, which was sailing from Europe to America, 
created the false notion that outward-bound convoys were 
not escorted. It was just as desirable, of course, to escort 
the ships going out as it was to escort those which were 
coming in. The mere fact that the inbound ships carried 
troops and supplies gave stronger reasons, from the humane 
standpoint, for heavier escorts, but not from the standpoint 
of the general war situation. The Germans were not sink- 
ing our ships because they were carrying men and supplies ; 
they w r ere sinking them simply because they were ships. 
They were not seeking to destroy American troops and 
munitions exclusively; they were seeking to destroy 
tonnage. They were aiming to reduce the world's supply of 
ships to such a point that the Allies would be compelled to 
abandon the conflict for lack of communications. It was 
therefore necessary that they should sink the empty ships, 
which were going out, as well as the crowded and loaded 
ships which were coming in. For the same reason it was 
necessary that we should protect them, and we did this as 
far as practicable without causing undue delays in forming 
outward-bound convoys. The Justicia, though most people 
still think that she was torpedoed because she was un- 
escorted, was, in fact, protected by a destroyer escort of 
considerable size. This duty of escorting outward-bound 
ships increased considerably the strain on our destroyer 
force. The difficulty was that the inbound convoy arrived 
in a body, but that the ships could not be unloaded and 
sent back in a body without detaining a number of 
them an undue length of time and time was such an 
important factor in this war that it was necessary to 
make the " turn-around " of each important transport 
as quickly as possible. The consequence was that returning 
ships were often despatched in small convoys as fast as 


they were unloaded. The escorts which we were able 
to supply for such groups were thus much weaker than 
absolute safety required, and sometimes we were even 
forced to send vessels across the submarine zone with 
few, if any, escorting warships. This explains why certain 
homeward-bound transports were torpedoed, and this 
was particularly true of troop and munition convoys to 
the western ports of France. Only when we could assemble 
a large outgoing convoy and despatch it at such a time that 
it could meet an incoming one at the western edge of 
the submarine zone could we give these vessels the same 
destroyer escort as that which we always gave for the loaded 
convoys bound for European ports. 

As soon as the destroyers made contact with an inward- 
bound convoy, the ocean escort, the cruiser or pre-dread- 
nought, if an American, abandoned it and started it back 
home, sometimes with a westbound convoy if one had been 
assembled in time. British escorts went ahead at full 
.speed into a British port, usually escorted by one or more 
destroyers. This abandonment sometimes aroused the 
wrath of the passengers on the inbound convoy. Their 
protector had dropped them just as they had entered the 
submarine zone, the very moment its services were really 
needed ! These passengers did not understand, any more 
than did the people at home, that the purpose of the ocean 
escort was not to protect them from submarines, but from 
possible raiders. Inside the danger zone this ocean escort 
would become part of the convoy itself and require pro- 
tection from submarines, so that its rather summary 
departure really made the merchantmen more secure. As 
the convoy approached the danger zone, after being drilled 
all the way across the ocean, its very appearance was more 
taut and business-like. The ships were closed up into a 
much more compact formation, keeping only such distances 
apart as were essential for quick manoeuvring. Generally 
the convoy was formed in a long parallelogram, the distance 
across the front of which was much longer than the depth or 
distance along the sides. Usually the formation was a 
number of groups of four vessels each, in column or " Indian 
file," at a distance of about five hundred yards from ship to 
ship, and all groups abreast of each other and about half a 
mile apart. Thus a convoy of twenty-four vessels, or six 
groups of four, would have a width of about three miles and 


a depth of one. Most of the destroyers were stationed on 
the narrow sides, for it was only on the side, or the beam, 
that the submarines could attack with much likelihood of 
succeeding. It was usually necessary for a destroyer to be 
stationed in the rear of a convoy, for, though the speed of 
nearly all convoys was faster than that of a submarine 
when submerged, the latter while running on the surface 
could follow a convoy at night with a fair chance of torpedo- 
ing a vessel at early daylight and escaping to the rear if 
unhampered by the presence of a rear-guard destroyer. It 
was generally impracticable and dangerous for the sub- 
marine to wait ahead, submerge, and launch its torpedoes as 
the convoy passed over it. The extent to which purely 
mechanical details protected merchant ships is not under- 
stood, and this inability to attack successfully from the 
front illustrates this point. The submarine launches its 
torpedoes from tubes in the bow or stern ; it has no tubes 
on the beam. If it did possess such side tubes, it could lie 
in wait ahead and shoot its broadsides at the convoy as it 
passed over the spot where it was concealed. Its length in 
that case would be parallel to that of the merchant ships, 
and thus it would have a comparatively small part of its 
area exposed to the danger of ramming. The mere fact 
that its torpedo tubes are placed in the bow and stern 
makes it necessary for the submarine, if it wishes to attack 
in the fashion described, to turn almost at right angles to the 
course of the convoy, and to manoeuvre into a favourable 
position from which to discharge its missile a procedure so 
altogether hazardous that it almost never attempts it. 
With certain reservations, which it is hardly necessary to 
explain in detail at this point, it may be taken at least as a 
general rule that the sides of the convoy not only furnish 
the U-boats much the best chance to torpedo ships, but also 
subject them to the least danger ; and this is the reason 
why, in the recent war, the destroyers were usually con- 
centrated at these points. 

I have already compared the convoy system to a great 
aggregation of railroads. This comparison holds good of its 
operation after it had entered the infested zone. Indeed 
the very terminology of our railroad men was used. Every 
convoy nearly followed one of two main routes, known at 
convoy headquarters as the two " trunk lines." The trunk 
line which reached the west coast of England usually passed 

1917] TYPICAL CASES lit 

north of Ireland through the North Channel and down the 
Irish Sea to Liverpool. Under certain conditions these 
convoys passed south of Ireland and thence up the Irish 
Sea. The convoys to the east coast took a trunk line that 
passed up the English Channel. Practically all shipping 
from the United States to Great Britain and France took 
one of these trunk lines. But, like our railroad systems, 
each of these main routes had branch lines. Thus shipping 
destined for French ports took the southern route until off 
the entrance to the English Channel ; here it abandoned 
the main line and took a branch route to Brest, Bordeaux, 
Nantes, and other French ports. In the Channel likewise 
several " single-track " branches went to various English 
ports, such as Plymouth, Portsmouth, Southampton, and 
the like. The whole gigantic enterprise flowed with a 
precision and a regularity which I think it is hardly likely 
that any other transportation system has ever achieved. 


A description of a few actual convoys, and the experiences 
of our destroyers with them, will perhaps best make clear 
the nature of the mechanism which protected the world's 
shipping. For this purpose I have selected typical instances 
which illustrate the every-day routine experiences of 
escorting destroyers, and other experiences in which their 
work was more spectacular. 

One day in late October, 1917, a division of American 
destroyers at Queenstown received detailed instructions 
from Admiral Bayly to leave at a certain hour and escort 
the outward convoy " O Q 17 " and bring into port the 
inbound convoy " H S 14." These detailed instructions 
were based upon general instructions issued from the 
Admiralty, where my staff was in constant attendance and 
co-operation. The symbols by which these two groups of 
ships were designated can be easily interpreted. The 
O Q simply meant that convoy " No. 17 " the seventeenth 
which had left that port was Outward bound from Queens- 
town, and the H S signified that convoy " No. 14 " was 
Homeward bound from Sydney, Cape Breton. Queens- 
town during the first few months was one of those places at 
which ships, having discharged their cargoes, assembled in 
groups for despatching back to the United States. Later 


Milford Haven, Liverpool, and other ports were more often 
used for this purpose. Vessels had been arriving here for 
several days from ports of the Irish Sea and the east coast 
of England. These had now been formed into convoy 
" O Q 17 " ; they were ready for a destroyer escort to take 
them through the submarine zone and start them on the 
westward voyage to American ports. 

This escort consisted of eight American destroyers and 
one British " special service ship " ; the latter was one of 
that famous company of decoy vessels, or " mystery ships," 
which, though to all outward appearances unprotected 
merchantmen, really carried concealed armament of 
sufficient power to destroy any submarine that came within 
range. This special service ship, the Avbrietia, was hardly 
a member of the protective escort. Her mission was to 
sail about thirty miles ahead of the convoy ; when observed 
from the periscope or the conning-tower of a submarine, the 
Aubrielia seemed to be merely a helpless merchantman 
sailing alone, and as such she presented a particularly 
tempting target to the U-boat. But her real purpose in 
life was to be torpedoed. After landing its missile in a 
vessel's side, the submarine usually remained submerged 
for a period, while the crew of its victim was getting off in 
boats ; it then came to the surface, and the men prepared 
to board the disabled ship and search her for valuables and 
delicacies, particularly for information which would assist 
them in their campaign, such as secret codes, sailing instruc- 
tions, and the like. The mystery ship had been preparing 
for this moment, and as soon as the submarine broke water, 
the gun ports of the disguised merchantman dropped, and 
her hitherto concealed guns began blazing away at the 
German. By October, 1917, these special service ships had 
already accounted for several submarines ; and it had now 
become a frequent practice to attach one or more to a con- 
voy, either ahead, where she might dispose of the submarine 
lying in wait for the approaching aggregation, or in the 
rear, where a U-boat might easily mistake her for one of 
those stragglers which were an almost inevitable part of 
every convoy. 

Trawlers and mine-sweepers, as was the invariable cus- 
tom, spent several hours sweeping the Queenstown Channel 
before the sailing of convoy " O Q 17 " and its escort. 
Promptly at the appointed time the eight American ships 

1917] MYSTERY SHIPS 119 

sailed out in " Indian file," passing through the net which 
was always kept in place at the entrance to the harbour. 
Their first duty was to patrol the waters outside for a radius 
of twelve miles ; it was not improbable that the Germans, 
having learned that this convoy was to sail, had stationed a 
submarine not far from the harbour entrance. Having 
finally satisfied himself that there were no lurking enemies 
in the neighbourhood, the commander of the destroyer 
flagship signalled to the merchant ships, which promptly 
left the harbour and entered the open sea. The weather 
was stormy ; the wind was blowing something of a gale and 
head seas were breaking over the destroyers' decks. But 
the convoy quickly manoeuvred into three columns, the 
destroyers rapidly closed around them, and the whole group 
started for " Rendezvous A" this being the designation 
of that spot on the ocean's surface where the fourteenth 
meridian of longitude crosses the forty-ninth parallel of 
latitude a point in the Atlantic about three hundred miles 
south-west of Queenstown, regarded at that time as safely 
beyond the operating zone of the submarine. Meanwhile, 
the " mystery ship," sailing far ahead, disappeared beneath 
the horizon. 

Convoying ships in the stormy autumn and winter waters, 
amid the fog and rain of the eastern Atlantic, was a 
monotonous and dreary occupation. Only one or two 
incidents enlivened this particular voyage. As the Parker, 
Commander Halsey Powell, was scouting ahead at about 
two o'clock in the afternoon, her lookout suddenly sighted 
a submarine, bearing down upon the convoy. Immedi- 
ately the news was wirelessed to every vessel. As soon 
as the message was received, the whole convoy, at a signal 
from the flagship, turned four points to port. For 
nearly two hours the destroyers searched this area for the 
submerged submarine, but that crafty boat kept itself 
safely under the water, and the convoy now again took 
up its original course. About two days' sailing brought 
the ships to the point at which the protecting destroyers 
could safely leave them, as far as submarines were con- 
cerned, to continue unescorted to America ; darkness had 
now set in, and, under its cover, the merchantmen slipped 
away from the warships and started westward. Mean- 
time, the destroyer escort had received a message from 
the Cumberland, the British cruiser which was acting as 


ocean escort to convoy " H S 14." " Convoy is six hours 
late," she reported, much like the announcer at a railroad 
station who informs the waiting crowds that the incoming 
train is that much overdue. According to the schedule 
these ships should reach the appointed rendezvous at six 
o'clock the next morning ; this message evidently moved 
the time of arrival up to noon. The destroyers, slowing 
down so that they would not arrive ahead of time, started 
for the designated spot. 

Sometimes thick weather made it impossible to fix the 
position by astronomical observations, and the convoy 
might not be at its appointed rendezvous. For this 
reason the destroyers now deployed on a north and south 
line about twenty miles long for several hours. Some- 
what before the appointed time one of the destroyers 
sighted a faint cloud of smoke on the western horizon, 
and soon afterward thirty-two merchantmen, sailing in 
columns of fours, began to assume a definite outline. At 
a signal from this destroyer the other destroyers of the 
escort came in at full speed and ranged themselves on 
either side of the convoy a manoeuvre that always ex- 
cited the admiration of the merchant skippers. This 
mighty collection of vessels, occupying about ten or 
twelve square miles on the ocean, skilfully maintaining its 
formation, was really a beautiful and inspiring sight. 
When the destroyers had gained their designated positions 
on either side, the splendid cavalcade sailed boldly into 
the area which formed the favourite hunting grounds for 
the submarine. 

As soon as this danger zone was reached the whole aggre- 
gation, destroyers and merchant ships, began to zigzag. 
The commodore on the flagship hoisted the signal, " Zig- 
zag A," and instantaneously the whole thirty -two ships 
began to turn twenty-five degrees to starboard. The great 
ships, usually so cumbersome, made this simultaneous 
turn with all the deftness, and even with all the grace of 
a school of fish into which one has suddenly cast a stone. 
All the way across the Atlantic they had been practising 
such an evolution ; most of them had already sailed 
through the danger zone more than once, so that the 
manoeuvre was by this time an old story. For ten or 
fifteen minutes they proceeded along this course, when 
immediately, like one vessel, the convoy turned twenty 


degrees to port, and started in a new direction. And 
so on for hours, now a few minutes to the right, now a 
few minutes to the left, and now again straight ahead, 
while all the time the destroyers were cutting through the 
water, every eye of the skilled lookouts in each crew fixed 
upon the surface for the first glimpse of a periscope. This 
zigzagging was carried out according to comprehensive 
plans which enabled the convoy to zigzag for hours at a 
time without signals, the courses and the time on each 
course being designated in the particular plan ordered, all 
ships' clocks being set exactly alike by time signal. Prob- 
ably I have made it clear why these zigzagging evolutions 
constituted such a protective measure. All the time the 
convoy was sailing in the danger zone it was assumed that 
a submarine was present, looking for a chance to torpedo. 
Even though the officers might know that there was no 
submarine within three hundred miles, this was never 
taken for granted ; the discipline of the whole convoy 
system rested upon the theory that the submarine was 
there, waiting only the favourable moment to start the 
work of destruction. But a submarine, as already said, 
could not strike without the most thorough preparation. 
It must get within three or four hundred yards or the 
torpedo would stand little chance of hitting the mark in 
a vital spot. The commander almost never shot blindly 
into the convoy, on the chance of hitting some ship ; he 
carefully selected his victim ; his calculation had to in- 
clude its speed, the speed of his own boat and that of his 
torpedo ; above all, he had to be sure of the direction in 
which his intended quarry was steaming ; and in this 
calculation the direction of the merchantman formed 
perhaps the most important element. But if the ships 
were constantly changing their direction, it is apparent 
that the submarine could make no calculations which 
would have much practical value. 

In the afternoon the Aubrietia, the British mystery ship 
which was sailing thirty miles ahead of the convoy, reported 
that she had sighted a submarine. Two or three destroyers 
dashed for the indicated area, searched it thoroughly, 
found no traces of the hidden boat, and returned to the 
convoy. The next morning six British destroyers and one 
cruiser arrived from Devonport. Up to this time the 
convoy had been following the great " trunk line " which 


led into the Channel, but it had now reached the point 
where the convoys split up, part going to English ports 
and part to French. These British destroyers had come 
to take over the twenty ships which were bound for their 
own country, while the American destroyers were assigned 
to escort the rest to Brest. The following conversation 
typical of those that were constantly filling the air in 
that area now took place between the American flagship 
and the British : 

Conyngham to Achates : This is the Conyngham, Com- 
mander Johnson. I would like to keep the convoy to- 
gether until this evening. I will work under your orders 
until I leave with convoy for Brest. 

Achates to Conyngham : Please make your own arrange- 
ments for taking French convoy with you to-night. 

Achates to Conyngham : What time do you propose leav- 
ing with French convoy to-night ? 

Conyngham to Achates : About 5 P.M. in order to arrive 
in Brest to-night. 

Devonport Commander-in-chief to Conyngham : Pro- 
ceed in execution Admiralty orders Achates having relieved 
you. Submarine activity in Lat. 48.41, Long. 4.51. 

The Aubrietia had already given warning of the danger 
referred to in the last words of this final message. It had 
been flashing the news in this way : 

1.15 P.M. Aubrietia to Conyngham : Submarine sighted 
49.30 N 6.8 W. Sighted submarine on surface. Speed is 
not enough. Course south-west by south magnetic. 

1.30 P.M. Conyngham to Achates : Aubrietia to all men- 
of-war and Land's End. Chasing submarine on the surface 
49.30 N 6.8 W, course south-west by south. Waiting to 
get into range. He is going faster than I can. 

2.00 P.M. Aubrietia to all men-of-war. Submarine sub- 
merged 49.20 N 6.12 W. Still searching. 

The fact that nothing more was seen of that submarine 
may possibly detract from the thrill of the experience, 
but in describing the operations of this convoy I am not 
attempting to tell a story of wild adventure, but merely 
to set forth what happened ninety-nine out of a hundred 

1917] A SUDDEN CALL 128 

times. What made destroyer work so exasperating was 
that, in the vast majority of cases, the option of fighting 
or not fighting lay with the submarine. Had the sub- 
marine decided to approach and attack the convoy, the 
chances would have been more than even that it would 
have been destroyed. In accordance with its usual prac- 
tice, however, it chose to submerge, and that decision 
ended the affair for the moment. This was the way in 
which merchant ships were protected. At the time this 
submarine was sighted it was headed directly for this 
splendid aggregation of cargo vessels ; had not the 
Aubrietia discovered it and had not one of the American 
destroyers started in pursuit, the U-boat would have made 
an attack and possibly would have sent one or more ships 
to the bottom. The chief business of the escorting ships, 
all through the war, was this unspectacular one of chasing 
the submarines away ; and for every under-water vessel 
actually destroyed there were hundreds of experiences such 
as the one which I have just described. 

The rest of this trip was uneventful. Two American 
destroyers escorted H.M.S. Cumberland the ocean escort 
which had accompanied the convoy from Sydney to 
Devonport ; the rest of the American escort took its quota 
of merchantmen into Brest, and from that point sailed 
back to Queenstown, whence, after three or four days in 
port, it went out with another convoy. This was the 
routine which was repeated until the end of the war. 

The " O Q 17 " and the " H S 14 " form an illustration 
of convoys which made their trips successfully. Yet 
these same destroyers had another experience which pic- 
tures other phases of the convoy system. 

On the morning of October 19th, Commander Johnson's 
division was escorting a great convoy of British ships on 
its way to the east coast of England. Suddenly out of 
the air came one of those calls which were daily occur- 
rences in the submarine zone. The J. L. Luckenback 
signalled her position, ninety miles ahead of the convoy, 
and that she was being shelled by a submarine. In a few 
minutes the Nicholson, one of the destroyers of the escort, 
started to the rescue. For the next few hours our ships 
began to pick out of the air the messages which detailed 
the progress of this adventure messages which tell the 
story so graphically, and which are so typical of the events 


which were constantly taking place in those waters, that 
I reproduce them verbatim : 

8.50 A.M. S.O.S. .7. L. Luckenback being gunned by 
submarine. Position 48.08 N 9.31 W. 

9.25 Conyngham to Nicholson : Proceed to assistance of 
S.O.S. ship. 

9.30 Luckenback to U.S.A. : Am manoeuvring around. 

9.35 Luckenback to U.S.A. : How far are you away ? 

9.40 Luckenback to U.S.A. : Code books thrown over- 
board. How soon will you arrive ? 

Nicholson to Luckenback : In two hours. 

9.41 Luckenback to U.S.A. : Look for boats. They are 
shelling us. 

Nicholson to Luckenback : Do not surrender ! 

Luckenback to Nicholson : Never ! 

11.01 Nicholson to Luckenback : Course south magnetic. 

12.36 P.M. Nicholson to Conyngham : Submarine sub- 
merged 47.47 N 10.00 W at 11.20. 

1.23 Conyngham to Nicholson : What became of steamer ? 

3.41 Nicholson to Admiral (at Queenstown) and Conyng- 
ham : Luckenback now joining convoy. Should be able 
to make port unassisted. 

I have already said that a great part of the destroyer's 
duty was to rescue merchantmen that were being attacked 
by submarines : this Luckenback incident vividly illus- 
trates this point. Had the submarine used its torpedo 
upon this vessel, it probably would have disposed of it 
summarily ; but it was the part of wisdom for the sub- 
marine to economize in these weapons because they were 
so expensive and so comparatively scarce, and to use its 
guns whenever the opportunity offered. The Luckenback 
was armed, but the fact that the submarine's guns easily 
outranged hers made her armament useless. Thus all the 
German had to do in this case was to keep away at a safe 
distance and bombard the merchantman. The U-boat 
had been doing this for more than three hours when the 
destroyer reached the scene of operations ; evidently the 
marksmanship was poor, for out of a great many shots 
fired by the submarine only about a dozen had hit the 
vessel. The Luckenback was on fire, a shell having set 
aflame her cargo of cotton ; certain parts of the machinery 


had been damaged, but, in the main, the vessel was in- 
tact. The submarine was always heroic enough when 
it came to shelling defenceless merchantmen, but the 
appearance of a destroyer anywhere in her neighbourhood 
made her resort to the one secure road to safety diving 
for protection. The Nicholson immediately trained her 
guns on the U-boat, which, on the second shot, disappeared 
under the water. The destroyer despatched men to the 
disabled vessel, the fire was extinguished, necessary repairs 
to the machinery were made, and in a few hours the 
Luckenback had become a member of the convoy. 

Hardly had she joined the merchant ships and hardly 
had the Nicholson taken up her station on the flank when 
an event still more exciting took place. It was now late 
in the afternoon ; the sea had quieted down ; the whole 
atmosphere was one of peace ; and there was not the 
slightest sign or suggestion of a hostile ship. The Orama, 
the British warship which had accompanied the convoy 
from its home port as ocean escort, had taken up her 
position as leading ship in the second column. Without 
the slightest warning a terrific explosion now took place 
on her starboard bow. There was no mystery as to what 
had happened ; indeed, immediately after the explosion 
the wake of the torpedo appeared on the surface ; there 
was no periscope in sight, yet it was clear, from the posi- 
tion of the wake, that the submarine had crept up to the 
side of the convoy and delivered its missile at close range. 
There was no confusion in the convoy or its escorting 
destroyers but there were scenes of great activity. Im- 
mediately after the explosion, a periscope appeared a few 
inches out of the water, stayed there only a second or 
two, and then disappeared. Brief as was this exposure, 
the keen eyes of the lookout and several sailors of the 
Conyngham, the nearest destroyer, had detected it ; it 
disclosed the fact that the enemy was in the midst of the 
convoy itself, looking for other ships to torpedo. The 
Conyngham rang for full speed, and dashed for the location 
of the submarine. Her officers and men now saw more 
than the periscope ; they saw the vessel itself. The water 
was very clear ; as the Conyngham circled around the 
Orama her officers and men sighted a green, shining, cigar- 
shaped thing under the water not far from the starboard 
side. As she sped by, the destroyer dropped a depth 


charge almost directly on top of the object. After the 
waters had quieted down pieces of debris were seen float- 
ing upon the surface boards, spars, and other miscel- 
laneous wreckage, evidently scraps of the damaged deck 
of a submarine. All attempts to save the Orama proved 
fruitless : the destroyers stood by for five hours, taking 
off survivors, and making all possible efforts to salvage 
the ship, but at about ten o'clock that evening she disap- 
peared under the water. In rescuing the survivors the 
seamanship displayed by the Conyngham was particularly 
praiseworthy. The little vessel was skilfully placed along- 
side the Orama and some three hundred men were taken 
off without accident or casualty while the ship was sinking. 

One of the things that made the work of the destroyer 
such a thankless task was that only in the rarest cases was 
it possible to prove that she had destroyed the submarine. 
Only the actual capture of the enemy ship or some of its 
crew furnished irrefutable proof that the action had been 
successful. The appearance of oil on the surface after a 
depth charge attack was not necessarily convincing, for 
the submarine early learned the trick of pumping over- 
board a little oil after such an experience ; in this way it 
hoped to persuade its pursuer that it had been sunk and 
thus induce it to abandon the chase. Even the appear- 
ance of wreckage, such as arose on the surface after this 
Conyngham attack, did not absolutely prove that the 
submarine had been destroyed. Yet, as this submarine 
was never heard of again, there is little doubt that Com- 
mander Johnson's depth charge performed its allotted 
task. The judgment of the British Government, which 
awarded him the C.M.G. for his achievement, may be 
accepted as final. The Admiralty citation for this decora- 
tion reads as follows : 

" At 5.50 P.M. H.M.S. Orama was torpedoed in convoy. 
Conyngham went full speed, circled bow of Orama, saw 
submarine between lines of convoy, passed right over it 
so that it was plainly visible and dropped depth charge. 
Prompt and correct action of Commander Johnson saved 
more ships from being torpedoed and probably destroyed 
the submarine." 

One of the greatest difficulties of convoy commanders, 
especially during the first months the system was in 
operation, was with '' slacker " merchantmen ; these were 


vessels which, for various reasons, fell behind the convoy, 
a tempting bait for the submarine. At this time certain of 
the merchant captains manifested an incurable obstinacy ; 
they affected to regard the U-boats with contempt, and 
insisted rather on taking chances instead of playing the 
game. In such cases a destroyer would often have to 
leave the main division, go back several miles, and at- 
tempt to prod the straggler into joining the convoy, much 
as a shepherd dog attempts to force the laggard sheep 
to keep within the flock. In some cases, when the mer- 
chantman proved particularly obdurate, the destroyer 
would slyly drop a depth charge, near enough to give the 
backward vessel a considerable shaking up without doing 
her any injury ; usually such a shock caused the merchant- 
man to start full speed ahead to rejoin her convoy, firmly 
believing that a submarine was giving chase. In certain 
instances the merchantman fell behind the convoy because 
the machinery had broken down or because she had suf- 
fered other accidents. The submarines would follow for 
days in the track of convoys, looking for a straggler of 
this kind, just as a shark will follow a vessel in the hope 
that something will be thrown overboard ; and for this 
reason one destroyer at least was often detached from 
the escorting division as a rear guard. In this connec- 
tion we must keep in mind that at no time until the 
armistice was signed was any escort force strong enough 
to insure entire safety. If we had had destroyers enough 
to put a close screen, or even a double screen, around 
every convoy, there would have been almost no danger 
from submarines. The fact that all escort forces were 
very inadequate placed a very heavy responsibility upon 
the escort commanders, and made them think twice before 
detaching a destroyer in order to protect stragglers. 

One late summer afternoon the American converted 
yacht Christabel was performing this duty for the British 
merchantman Danae, a vessel which had fallen eight miles 
behind her convoy, bound from La Pallice, France, to 
Brest. It was a beautiful evening ; the weather was 
clear, the sea smooth, and there was not a breath of wind. 
Under such conditions a submarine could conceal its 
presence only with great difficulty ; and at about 5.30 
the lookout on the Christabel detected a wake, some six 
hundred yards on the port quarter. The Christabel started 


at full speed ; the wake suddenly ceased, but a few 
splotches of oil were seen, and she was steered in the 
direction of this disturbance. A depth charge was dropped 
at the spot where the submarine ought to have been, but 
it evidently did not produce the slightest result. The 
Christabel rejoined the Danae, and the two went along 
peacefully for nearly four hours, when suddenly a peri- 
scope appeared about two hundred yards away, on the 
starboard side. Evidently this persistent German had 
been following the ships all that time, looking for a favour- 
able opportunity to discharge his torpedo. That moment 
had now arrived ; the submarine was at a distance where 
a carefully aimed shot meant certain destruction ; the 
appearance of the periscope meant that the submarine 
was making observations in anticipation of delivering this 
shot. The Christabel started full speed for the wake of 
the periscope ; this periscope itself disappeared under the 
water like a guilty thing, and a disturbance on the surface 
showed that the submarine was making frantic efforts to 
submerge. The destroyer dropped its depth charge, set 
to explode at seventy feet, its radio meantime sending 
signals broadcast for assistance. Immediately after the 
mushroom of water arose from this charge a secondary 
explosion was heard ; this was a horrible and muffled 
sound coming from the deep, more powerful and more 
terrible than any that could have been caused by the 
destroyer's " ash can." An enormous volcano of water 
and all kinds of debris arose from the sea, half-way between 
the Christabel and the spot where it had dropped its 
charge. This secondary explosion shook the Christabel 
so violently that the officers thought at first that the ship 
had been seriously damaged, and a couple of men were 
knocked sprawling on the deck. As soon as the water 
subsided great masses of heavy black oil began rising to 
the surface, and completely splintered wood and other 
wreckage appeared. In a few minutes the sea, for a space 
many hundred yards in diameter, was covered with dead 
fish about ten times as many, the officers reported, as 
could have been killed by the usual depth charge. The 
Christabel and the ship she was guarding started to rejoin 
the main convoy, entirely satisfied with the afternoon's 
work. Indeed, they had good reason to be ; a day or 
two afterward a battered submarine, the U C-56, crept 


painfully into the harbour of Santander, Spain ; it was 
the boat which had had such an exciting contest with the 
Christabel. She was injured beyond the possibility of 
repair ; besides, the Spanish Government interned her 
for " the duration of the war " ; so that for all practical 
purposes the vessel was as good as sunk. 

Discouraging as was this business of hunting an invisible 
foe, events occasionally happened with all the unexpected- 
ness of real drama. For the greater part of the time the 
destroyers were engaged in battle with oil slicks, wakes, 
tide rips, streaks of suds, and suspicious disturbances on 
the water ; yet now and then there were engagements 
with actual boats and flesh and blood human beings. To 
spend weeks at sea with no foe more substantial than an 
occasional foamy excrescence on the surface was the fate 
of most sailormen in this war ; yet a few exciting moments, 
when they finally came, more than compensated for long 
periods of monotony. 

One afternoon in November, 1917, an American de- 
stroyer division, commanded by Commander Frank Berrien, 
with the Nicholson as its flagship, put out of Queenstown 
on the usual mission of taking a westbound convoy to its 
rendezvous and bringing in one that was bound for British 
ports. This outward convoy was the " O Q 20 " and con- 
sisted of eight fine ships. After the usual preliminary 
scoutings the vessels passed through the net in single file, 
sailed about ten miles to sea, and began to take up the 
stipulated formation, four columns of two ships each. 
The destroyers were moving around ; they were even 
mingling in the convoy, carrying messages and giving 
instructions ; by a quarter past four all the ships had 
attained their assigned positions, except one, the Rent, 
which was closing up to its place as the rear ship of the 
first column. Meanwhile, the destroyer Fanning was 
steaming rapidly to its post on the rear flank. Suddenly 
there came a cry from the bridge of the Fanning, where 
Coxswain David D. Loomis was on lookout : 

" Periscope ! " 

Off the starboard side of the Fanning, glistening in the 
smooth water, a periscope of the " finger " variety, one 



so small that it could usually elude all but the sharpest 
eyes, had darted for a few seconds above the surface and 
had then just as suddenly disappeared. Almost directly 
ahead lay the Welshman, a splendid British merchant 
ship ; the periscope was so close that a torpedo would 
almost inevitably have hit this vessel in the engine-room. 
The haste with which the German had withdrawn his 
periscope, after taking a hurried glance around, was 
easily explained ; for his lens had revealed not only this 
tempting bait, but the destroyer Fanning close aboard 
and bearing down on him. Under these circumstances it 
was not surprising that no torpedo was fired ; it was 
clearly military wisdom to beat a quick retreat rather 
than attempt to attack the merchantman. Lieut. Walter 
S. Henry, who was the officer of the deck, acted with the 
most commendable despatch. It is not the simplest 
thing, even when the submarine is so obviously located 
as this one apparently was, to reach the spot accurately. 

The destroyer has to make a wide and rapid turn, and 
there is every danger, in making this manoeuvre, that the 
location will be missed. Subsequent events disclosed that 
the Fanning was turned with the utmost accuracy. As 
the ship darted by the spot at which the periscope had 
been sighted, a depth charge went over the stern, and 
exploded so violently that the main generator of the 
Fanning herself was temporarily disabled. Meanwhile 
the Nicholson had dashed through the convoy, made a 
rapid detour to the left, and dropped another depth charge 
a short distance ahead of the Fanning. 

The disturbances made on the water by these " ash 
cans " gradually subsided ; to all outward appearances 
the submarine had escaped unharmed. The Fanning and 
the Nicholson completed their circles and came back to 
the danger spot, the officers and crew eagerly scanning 
the surface for the usual oil patch and air bubbles, even 
hoping for a few pieces of wreckage those splintered 
remnants of the submarine's wooden deck that almost 
invariably indicated a considerable amount of damage. 
But none of these evidences of success, or half-success, 
rose to the surface ; for ten or fifteen minutes everything 
was as quiet as the grave. Then something happened 
which occurred only a few times in this strange war. The 
stern of a submarine appeared out of the water, tilted at 

1917] A SURRENDER 131 

about thirty degrees, clearly revealing its ugly torpedo 
tubes. Then came the conning-tower and finally the 
entire boat, the whole hull taking its usual position on 
the surface as neatly and unconcernedly as though no 
enemies were near. So far as could be seen the U-boat 
was in perfect condition. Its hull looked intact, showing 
not the slightest indication of injury ; the astonished 
officers and men on the destroyers could easily under- 
stand now why no oil or wreckage had risen to the top, 
for the 7-58 they could now see this inscription plainly 
painted on the conning-tower was not leaking, and the 
deck showed no signs of having come into contact even 
remotely with a depth charge. The Fanning and the 
Nicholson began firing shells at the unexpected visitant, 
and the Nicholson extended an additional welcome in the 
form of a hastily dropped " ash can." 

Suddenly the conning-tower of the submarine opened 
and out popped the rotund face and well-fed form of 
Kapitan-Leutnant Gustav Amberger, of the Imperial 
German Navy. The two arms of the Herr Kapitan 
immediately shot heavenward and the Americans on the 
destroyers could hear certain guttural ejaculations : 
" Kamerad ! Kamerad ! " 

A hatchway now opened, and a procession of German 

sailors emerged, one after the other, into the sunshine, 

like ants crawling out of their hole. As each sailor reached 

the deck he straightened up, lifted his arms, and shouted : 

" Kamerad ! Kamerad ! Kamerad ! " 

In all four officers and thirty-five men went through 

this ceremony. Were they really surrendering themselves 

and their boat, or did these gymnastic exercises conceal 

some new form of German craftiness ? The American 

ships ceased firing ; the Fanning gingerly approached the 

submarine, while the Nicholson stood by, all her four-inch 

guns trained upon the German boat, and the machine-guns 

pointed at the kamerading Germans, ready to shoot them 

into ribbons at the first sign that the surrender was not a 

genuine one. 

While these preliminaries were taking place, a couple 
of German sailors disappeared into the interior of the 
submarine, stayed there a moment or two, and then 
returned to the deck. They had apparently performed a 
duty that was characteristically German ; for a few 


minutes after they appeared again, the 7-58 began to 
settle in the water, and soon afterward sank. These men, 
obeying orders, had opened the cocks and scuttled the 
ship this after the officers had surrendered her ! As the 
submarine disappeared, the men and officers dived and 
started swimming toward the Fanning ; four of them 
became entangled in the radio antennae and were dragged 
under the waves ; however, in a few minutes these men 
succeeded in disentangling themselves and joined the 
swimmers. As the thirty-nine men neared the Fanning 
it was evident that most of them were extremely wearied 
and that some were almost exhausted. The sailors from 
the Fanning threw over lines ; some still had the strength 
to climb up these to the deck, while to others it was neces- 
sary to throw other lines which they could adjust under 
their arms. These latter, limp and wet figures, the 
American sailors pulled up, much as the fisherman pulls 
up the inert body of a monster fish. And now an incident 
took place which reveals that the American navjf has 
rather different ideals of humanity from the German. 
One of the sailors was so exhausted that he could not 
adjust the life-lines around his shoulders ; he was very 
apparently drowning. Like a flash Elxer Harwell, chief 
pharmacist mate, and Francis G. Conner, coxswain, jumped 
overboard, swam to this floundering German, and adjusted 
the line around him as solicitously as though he had been 
a shipmate. The poor wretch his name was Franz 
Glinder was pulled aboard, but he was so far gone that 
all attempts to resuscitate him failed, and he died on the 
deck of the Fanning. 

Kapitan Amberger, wet and dripping, immediately 
walked up to Lieut. A. S. Carpender, the commander of 
the Fanning, clicked his heels together, saluted in the 
most ceremonious German fashion, and surrendered him- 
self, his officers, and his crew. He also gave his parole 
for his men. The officers were put in separate staterooms 
under guard and each of the crew was placed under the 
protection of a well-armed American Jackie who, it may 
be assumed, immensely enjoyed this new duty. All the 
" survivors " were dressed in dry, warm clothes, and good 
food and drink were given them. They were even supplied 
with cigarettes and something which they valued more 
than all the delicacies in the world soap for a washing, 

1917] A LUCKY SHOT 138 

the first soap which they had had for months, as this was 
an article which was more scarce in Germany than even 
copper or rubber. Our physicians gave the men first aid, 
and others attended to all their minor wants. Evidently 
the fact that they had been captured did not greatly 
depress their spirits, for, after eating and drinking to their 
heart's content, the assembled Germans burst into song. 

But what was the explanation of this strange proceed- 
ing ? The German officers, at first rather stiff and sullen, 
ultimately unbent enough to tell their story. Their sub- 
marine had been hanging off the entrance to Queenstown 
for nearly two days, waiting for this particular convoy 
to emerge. The officers admitted that they were getting 
ready to torpedo the Welshman when the discovery that 
the Fanning was only a short distance away compelled a 
sudden change in their plans. Few " ash cans " dropped 
in the course of the war reached their objective with the 
unerring accuracy of the one which now came from this 
American destroyer. It did not crush the submarine but 
the concussion wrecked the motors, making it impossible 
for it to navigate, jammed its diving rudders, making the 
boat uncontrollable under the water, and broke the oil 
leads, practically shutting off the supply of this indis- 
pensable fuel. Indeed, it would be impossible to conceive 
of a submarine in a more helpless and unmanageable 
state. The officers had the option of two alternatives : 
to sink until the pressure of the water crushed the boat 
like so much paper, or to blow the ballast tanks, rise to 
the surface, and surrender. Even while the commander 
was mentally debating this problem, the submarine was 
rapidly descending to the bottom ; when it reached a 
depth of two hundred feet, which was about all that it 
could stand, the commander decided to take his chances 
with the Americans. Rising to the top involved great 
dangers ; but the guns of the destroyers seemed less for- 
midable to these cornered Germans than the certainty of 
the horrible death that awaited them under the waves. 

Admiral Bayly came to meet the Fanning as she sailed 
into Queenstown with her unexpected cargo. He went on 
board the destroyer to congratulate personally the officers 
and men upon their achievement. He published to the 
assembled company a cablegram just received from the 
Admiralty in London : 


Express to commanding officers and men of the United 
States ship Fanning their Lordships' high appreciation of 
their successful action against enemy submarine. 

I added a telegram of my own, ending up with the 
words, which seemed to amuse the officers and men : 
" Go out and do it again." 

For this action the commanding officer of the Fanning, 
Lieutenant-Commander Carpender, was recommended by 
the Admiralty for the D.S.O., which was subsequently 
conferred upon him by the King at Buckingham Palace. 

Only one duty remained : the commanding officer read 
the burial service over the body of poor Franz Glinder, 
the German sailor who had been drowned in his attempt 
to swim to the Fanning. The Fanning then steamed out 
to sea with the body and buried it with all the honours of 
war. A letter subsequently written by Kapitan Amberger 
to a friend in Germany summed up his opinion of the 
situation in these words : 

" The Americans were much nicer and more obliging 
than expected." 


So far as convoying merchant ships was concerned, 
Queenstown was the largest American base ; by the time 
the movement of troops laid heavy burdens on the Ameri- 
can destroyers Brest became a headquarters almost equally 

In July, 1917, the British Government requested the 
co-operation of the American navy in the great work which 
it had undertaken at Gibraltar ; and on August 6th the 
U.S.S. Sacramento reached that port, followed about a 
week afterward by the Birmingham flying the flag of Rear- 
Admiral Henry B. Wilson. Admiral Wilson remained as 
commander of this force until November, when he left to 
assume the direction of affairs at Brest. On Novem- 
ber 25th Rear-Admiral Albert P. Niblack succeeded to 
this command, which he retained throughout the war. 

Gibraltar was the " gateway " for more traffic than 
any other port in the world. It was estimated that more 
than one quarter of all the convoys which reached the 
Entente nations either rendezvoused at this point or 


passed through these Straits. This was the great route 
to the East by way of the Suez Canal. From Gibraltar 
extended the Allied lines of communication to southern 
France, Italy, Salonika, Egypt, Palestine, and Mesopo- 
tamia. There were other routes to Bizerta (Tunis), 
Algiers, the island of Milo, and a monthly service to the 

The Allied forces that were detailed to protect this ship- 
ping were chiefly British and American, though they were 
materially assisted by French, Japanese, and Italian 
vessels. They consisted of almost anything which the 
hard-pressed navies could assemble from all parts of the 
world antiquated destroyers, yachts, sloops, trawlers, 
drifters, and the like. The Gibraltar area was a long 
distance from the main enemy submarine bases. The 
enemy could maintain at sea at any one time only a rela- 
tively small number of submarines ; inasmuch as the 
zone off the English Channel and Ireland was the most 
critical one, the Allies stationed their main destroyer force 
there. Because of these facts, we had great difficulty in 
finding vessels to protect the important Gibraltar area, 
and the force which we ultimately got together was there- 
fore a miscellaneous lot. The United States gathered at 
this point forty-one ships, and a personnel which averaged 
314 officers and 4,660 men. This American aggregation 
contained a variegated assortment of scout cruisers, gun- 
boats, coastguard cutters, yachts, and five destroyers of 
antique type. The straits to which we were reduced for 
available vessels for the Gibraltar station and the 
British navy was similarly hard pressed were illustrated 
by the fact that we placed these destroyers at Gibraltar. 
They were the Decatitr and four similar vessels, each of 
420 tons the modern destroyer is a vessel of from 1,000 
to 1,200 tons and were stationed, when the war broke 
out, at Manila, where they were considered fit only for 
local service ; yet the record which these doughty little 
ships made is characteristic of the spirit of our young 
officers. This little squadron steamed 12,000 miles from 
Manila to Gibraltar, and that they arrived in condition 
immediately to take up their duties was due to the excel- 
lent judgment and seamanship displayed by their com- 
manding officer, Lieutenant-Commander (now Commander) 
Harold R. Stark. Subsequently they made 48,000 miles 


on escort duty. This makes 60,000 miles for vessels which 
in peace time had been consigned to minor duties ! Un- 
fortunately one of these gallant little vessels was subse- 
quently cut down and sunk by a merchant ship while 
escorting a convoy. 

For more than a year the Gibraltar force under Admiral 
Niblack performed service which reflected high credit 
upon that commander, his officers, and his men. During 
this period of time it escorted, in co-operation with the 
British forces, 562 convoys, comprising a total of 10,478 
ships. Besides protecting commerce, chasing submarines, 
and keeping them under the surface, many of the vessels 
making up this squadron had engagements with sub- 
marines that were classified as " successful." On May 15, 
1918, the Wheeling, a gunboat, and the Surveyor and 
Venetia, yachts, while escorting a Mediterranean convoy, 
depth-charged a submarine which had just torpedoed one 
of the convoyed vessels ; we credited these little ships 
with sinking their enemy. The Venetia, under the com- 
mand of Commander L. B. Porterfield, U.S.N., had an 
experience not unlike that of the Christabel, already 
described. On this occasion she was part of the escort 
of a Gibraltar-Bizerta convoy. A British member of 
this convoy, the Surveyor, was torpedoed at six in the 
evening ; at that time the submarine gave no further 
evidence of its existence. The Venetia, however, was 
detailed to remain in the neighbourhood, attempt to 
locate the mysterious vessel, and at least to keep it under 
the water. The Venetia soon found the wake of the sub- 
merged enemy and dropped the usual depth charges. 
Three days afterward a badly injured U-boat put in at 
Carthagena, Spain, and was interned for the rest of the 
war. Thus another submarine was as good as sunk. 
The Lydonia, a yacht of 500 tons, in conjunction with the 
British ship Basilisk, sank another U-boat in the western 
Mediterranean. This experience illustrates the doubt that 
enshrouded all such operations, for it was not until three 
months after the Lydonia engagement took place that 
the Admiralty discovered that the submarine had been 
destroyed and recommended Commander Richard P. 
McCullough, U.S.N., for a decoration. 

Thus from the first day that this method of convoying 
ships was adopted it was an unqualified success in defeating 


the submarine campaign. By August 1, 1917, more than 
10.000 ships had been convoyed, with losses of only one- 
half of 1 per cent. Up to that same date not a single 
ship which had left North American ports in convoy had 
been lost. By August llth, 261 ships had been sent in 
convoy from North American ports, and of these only 
one had fallen a prey to the submarines. The convoy gave 
few opportunities for encounters with their enemies. I 
have already said that the great value of this system as 
a protection to shipping was that it compelled the under- 
water boats to fight their deadliest enemies, the destroyers, 
every time they tried to sink merchant ships in convoy, 
and they did not attempt this often on account of the 
danger. There were destroyer commanders who spent 
months upon the open sea, convoying huge aggregations 
of cargo vessels, without even once seeing a submarine. 
To a great extent the convoy system did its work in the 
same way that the Grand Fleet performed its indispen- 
sable service silently, unobtrusively, making no dramatic 
bids for popular favour, and industriously plodding on, 
day after day and month after month. All this time the 
world had its eyes fixed upon the stirring events of the 
Western Front, almost unconscious of the existence of 
the forces that made those land operations possible. Yet 
a few statistics eloquently disclose the part played by the 
convoy system in winning the war. In the latter months 
of the struggle from 91 to 92 per cent, of Allied shipping 
sailed in convoys. The losses in these convoys were less 
than 1 per cent. And this figure includes the ships lost 
after the dispersal of the convoys ; in convoys actually 
under destroyer escort the losses were less than one-half 
of 1 per cent. Military experts would term the convoy 
system a defensive-offensive measure. By this they 
mean that it was a method of taking a defensive position 
in order to force the enemy to meet you and give you an 
opportunity for the offensive. It is an old saying that 
the best defensive measure is a vigorous offensive one. 
Unfortunately, owing to the fact that the Allies had not 
prepared for the kind of warfare which the Germans saw 
fit to employ against them, we could not conduct purely 
offensive operations ; that is, we could not employ our 
anti-submarine forces exclusively in the effort to destroy 
the submarines. Up to the time of the armistice, despite 


all the assistance rendered to the navies by the best 
scientific brains of the world, no sure means had been 
found of keeping track of the submarine once he sub- 
merged. The convoy system was, therefore, our only 
method of bringing him into action. I lay stress on 
this point and reiterate it because many critics kept in- 
sisting during the war and their voices are still heard 
that the convoy system was purely a defensive or passive 
method of opposing the submarine, and was, therefore, 
not sound tactics. It is quite true that we had to defend 
our shipping in order to win the war, but it is wrong to 
assume that the method adopted to accomplish this pro- 
tection was a purely defensive and passive one. 

As my main purpose is to describe the work of the Ameri- 
can navy I have said little in the above about the activities 
of the British navy in convoying merchant ships. But we 
should not leave this subject with a false perspective. 
When the war ended we had seventy-nine destroyers in 
European waters, while Great Biitain had about 400. 
These included those assigned to the Grand Fleet, to the 
Harwich force, to the Dover patrol, to Gibraltar and the 
Mediterranean, and other places, many of which were 
but incidentally making war on the submarines. As to 
minor ships trawlers, sloops, Q-boats, yachts, drifters, 
tugs, and the other miscellaneous types used in this work 
the discrepancy was even greater. In absolute figures 
our effort thus seems a small one when compared with 
that of our great ally. In tonnage of merchant ships 
convoyed, the work of the British navy was far greater 
than ours. Yet the help which we contributed was indis- 
pensable to the success that was attained. For, judging 
from the situation before we entered the war, and knowing 
the inadequacy of the total Allied anti-submarine forces 
even after we had entered, it seems hardly possible that, 
without the assistance of the United States navy, the 
vital lines of communication of the armies in the field 
could have been kept open, the civil populations of Great 
Britain supplied with food, and men and war materials 
sent from America to the Western Front. In other words, 
I think I am justified in saying that without the co-opera- 
tion of the American navy, the Allies could not have won 
the war. Our forces stationed at Queenstown actually 
escorted through the danger zone about 40 per cent, of 


all the cargoes which left North American ports. When I 
describe the movement of American troops, it will appear 
that our destroyers located at Queenstown and Brest did 
even a larger share of this work. The latest reports 
show that about 205 German submarines were destroyed. 
Of these it seems probable that thirteen can be credited 
to American efforts, the rest to Great Britain, France, 
and Italy the greatest number, of course, to Great 
Britain. When we take into consideration the few ships 
that we had on the other side, compared with those of the 
Allies, and the comparatively brief period in which we 
were engaged in the war, this must be regarded as a 
highly creditable showing. 

I regret that I have not been able to describe the work 
of all of our officers and men ; to do this, however, would 
demand more than a single volume. One of the disappoint- 
ing aspects of destroyer work was that many of the finest 
performances were those that were the least spectacular. 
The fact that an attack upon a submarine did not result 
in a sinking hardly robbed it of its importance ; many 
of the finest exploits of our forces did not destroy the 
enemy, but they will always hold a place in our naval annals 
for the daring and skill with which they were conducted. 
In this class belong the achievements of the Sterrett, 
under Lieutenant-Commander Farquhar ; of the Benham, 
under Lieutenant-Commander D. Lyons ; of the O'Brien, 
under Lieutenant-Commander C. A. Blakeley ; of the 
Parker, under Lieutenant-Commander H. Powell ; of the 
Jacob Jones, under Lieutenant-Commander D. W. Bagley ; 
of the Wadsworih, under Lieutenant-Commander Taussig, 
and afterward I. F. Dortch ; of the Drayton, under Lieu- 
tenant-Commander D. L. Howard ; of the McDougal, 
under Commander A. L. Fairfield ; and of the Nicholson, 
under Commander F. D. Berrien. The senior destroyer 
commander at Queenstown was Commander David C. 
Hanrahan of the Gushing, a fine character and one of the 
most experienced officers of his rank in the Navy. He 
was a tower of strength at all times, and I shall have 
occasion to mention him later in connection with certain 
important duties. The Chief-of-Staff at Queenstown, 
Captain J. R. P. Pringle, was especially commended by 
Admiral Bayly for his " tact, energy, and ability." The 
American naval forces at Queenstown were under my 


immediate command. Necessarily, however, I had to 
spend the greater part of my time at the London head- 
quarters, or at the Naval Council in Paris, and it was 
therefore necessary that I should be represented at 
Queenstown by a man of marked ability. Captain Pringle 
proved equal to every emergency. He was responsible 
for the administration, supplies, and maintenance of the 
Queenstown forces, and the state of readiness and efficiency 
in which they were constantly maintained was the strongest 
possible evidence of his ability. To him was chiefly due 
also the fact that our men co-operated so harmoniously 
and successfully with the British. 

As an example of the impression which our work made 
I can do no better than to quote the message sent by 
Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly to the Queenstown forces on 
May 4, 1918 : 

" On the anniversary of the arrival of the first United 
States men-of-war at Queenstown, I wish to express my 
deep gratitude to the United States officers and ratings 
for the skill, energy, and unfailing good-nature which they 
have all consistently shown and which qualities have so 
materially assisted in the war by enabling ships of the 
Allied Powers to cross the ocean in comparative freedom. 

" To command you is an honour, to work with you is a 
pleasure, to know you is to know the best traits of the 
Anglo-Saxon race." 



MY chief purpose in writing this book is to describe the 
activities during the World War of the United States naval 
forces operating in Europe. Yet it is my intention also 
to make clear the several ways in which the war against 
the submarine was won ; and in order to do this it will be 
necessary occasionally to depart from the main subject and 
to describe certain naval operations of our allies. The 
most important agency in frustrating the submarine was 
the convoy system. An examination of the tonnage losses 
in 1917 and in 1918, however, discloses that this did not 
entirely prevent the loss of merchant ships. From April, 
1917, to November, 1918, the monthly losses dropped from 
875,000 to 101,168 tons. This decrease in sinkings enabled 
the Allies to preserve their communications and so win the 
war ; however, it is evident that these losses, while not 
necessarily fatal to the Allied cause, still offered a serious 
impediment to success. It was therefore necessary to 
supplement the convoy system in all possible ways. Every 
submarine that could be destroyed, whatever the method 
of destruction, represented just that much gain to the Allied 
cause. Every submarine that was sent to the bottom 
amounted in 1917 to a saving of many thousands of tons per 
year of the merchant shipping that would have been sunk 
by the U-boat if left unhindered to pursue its course. 
Besides escorting merchant ships, therefore, the Allied 
navies developed several methods of hunting individual 
submarines ; and these methods not only sank a con- 
siderable number of U-boats, but played an important part 
in breaking down the German submarine moral. For the 
greater part of the war the utmost secrecy was observed 
regarding these expedients ; it was not until the early part 



of 1918, indeed, that the public heard anything of the special 
service vessels that came to be known as the " mystery " or 
" Q-ships " although these had been operating for nearly 
three years. It is true that the public knew that there was 
something in the wind, for there were announcements that 
certain naval officers had received the Victoria Cross, but as 
there was no citation explaining why these coveted rewards 
were given, they were known as " mystery V.C.'s." 

On one of my visits to Queenstown Admiral Bayly showed 
me a wireless message which he had recently received from 
the commanding officer of a certain mystery ship operat- 
ing from Queenstown, one of the most successful of these 
vessels. It was brief but sufficiently eloquent. 

" Am slowly sinking," it read. " Good-bye, I did my 

Though the man who had sent that message was appar- 
ently facing death at the time when it was written, Admiral 
Bayly told me that he had survived the ordeal, and that, in 
fact, he would dine at Admiralty House that very night. 
Another fact about this man lifted him above the common- 
place : he was the first Q-boat commander to receive the 
Victoria Cross, and one of the very few who wore both the 
Victoria Cross and the Distinguished Service Order ; and 
he subsequently won bars for each, not to mention the Croix 
de Guerre and the Legion of Honour. When Captain 
Gordon Campbell arrived, I found that he was a Britisher 
of quite the accepted type. His appearance suggested 
nothing extraordinary. He was a short, rather thick-set, 
phlegmatic Englishman, somewhat non-committal in his 
bearing ; until he knew a man well, his conversation con- 
sisted of a few monosyllables, and even on closer acquaint- 
ance his stolidity and reticence, especially in the matter of 
his own exploits, did not entirely disappear. Yet there was 
something about the Captain which suggested the traits 
that had already made it possible for him to sink three 
submarines, and which afterward added other trophies to 
his record. It needed no elaborate story of his performances 
to inform me that Captain Campbell was about as cool and 
determined a man as was to be found in the British navy. 
His associates declared that his physical system absolutely 
lacked nerves ; that, when it came to pursuing a German 
submarine, his patience and his persistence knew no 
bounds ; and that the extent to which his mind con- 


centrated upon the task in hand amounted to little less than 
genius. When the war began, Captain Campbell, then 
about thirty years old, was merely one of several thousand 
junior officers in the British navy. He had not distinguished 
himself in any way above his associates ; and probably 
none of his superiors had ever regarded him as in any sense 
an unusual man. Had the naval war taken the course of 
most naval wars, Campbell would probably have served 
well, but perhaps not brilliantly. This conflict, however, 
demanded a new type of warfare and at the same time it 
demanded a new type of naval fighter. To go hunting for 
the submarine required not only couraefft-^rf /& high order, 
but analytical intelligence, patience, and a talent for prepar- 
ation and detail. Captain Campbell seemed to have been 
created for this particular task. That evening at Queens- 
town he finally gave way to much urging, and entertained 
us for hours with his adventures ; he told the stories of his 
battles with submarines so quietly, so simply and, indeed, 
so impersonally, that at first they impressed his hearers as 
not particularly unusual. Yet, after the recital was finished, 
we realized that the mystery ship performances represented 
some of the most admirable achievements in the whole 
history of naval warfare. We have laid great emphasis upon 
the brutalizing aspects of the European War ; it is well, 
therefore, that we do not forget that it had its more exalted 
phases. Human nature may at times have manifested itself 
in its most cowardly traits, but it also reached a level of 
courage which, I am confident, it has seldom attained in any 
other conflict. It was reserved for this devastating struggle 
to teach us how brave modern men could really be. And 
w r hen the record is complete it seems unlikely that it will 
furnish any finer illustration of the heroic than that pre- 
sented by Captain Campbell and his compatriots of the 
mystery ships. 

This type of vessel was a regular ship of His Majesty's 
navy, yet there was little about it that suggested warfare. 
To the outward eye it was merely one of those several 
thousand freighters or tramps which, in normal times, 
sailed sluggishly from port to port, carrying the larger part 
of the world's commerce. It looked like a particularly dirty 
and uninviting specimen of the breed. Just who invented 
this grimy enemy of the submarine is unknown, as are the 
inventors of many other devices developed by the war. It 


was, however, the natural outcome of a close study of 
German naval methods. The man who first had the idea 
well understood the peculiar mentality of the U-boat com- 
manders. The Germans had a fairly easy time in the early 
days of submarine warfare on merchant shipping. They 
sank as many ships as possible with gunfire and bombs. 
The prevailing method then was to break surface, and begin 
shelling the defenceless enemy. In case the merchant 
ship was faster than the submarine she would take to her 
heels ; if, as was usually the case, she was slower, the 
passengers and crews lowered the boats and left the vessel 
to her fate. In such instances the procedure of the sub- 
marine was invariably the same. It ceased shelling, 
approached the lifeboats filled with survivors, and ordered 
them to take a party of Germans to the ship. This party 
then searched the vessel for all kinds of valuables, and, after 
depositing time bombs in the hold, rowed back to the sub- 
marine. This procedure was popular with the Germans, 
because it was the least expensive form of destroying mer- 
chant ships. It was not necessary to use torpedoes or even 
a large number of shells ; an inexpensive bomb, properly 
placed, did the whole job. Even when the arming of 
merchant ships interfered with this simple programme, and 
compelled the Germans to use long-range gunfire or torpe- 
does, the submarine commanders still persisted in rising 
to the surface near the sinking ship. Torpedoes were so 
expensive that the German Admiralty insisted on having 
every one accounted for. The word of the commander 
that he had destroyed a merchant ship was not accepted at 
its face value ; in order to have the exploit officially placed 
to his credit, and so qualify the commander and crew for 
the rewards that came to the successful, it was necessary 
to prove that the ship had actually gone to the bottom. A 
prisoner or two furnished unimpeachable evidence, and, in 
default of such trophies, the ship's papers would be accepted. 
In order to obtain such proofs of success the submarine had 
to rise to the surface and approach its victim. The search 
for food, especially for alcoholic liquor, was another motive 
that led to such a manoeuvre ; and sometimes mere curi- 
osity, the desire to come to close quarters and inspect the 
consequences of his handiwork, also impelled the Hun 
commander to take what was, as events soon demonstrated, 
a particularly hazardous risk. 

1917] MYSTERY SHIPS 145 

This simple fact that the submarine, even when the dan- 
ger had been realized, insisted on rising to the surface and 
approaching the vessel which it had torpedoed, offered the 
Allies an opportunity which they were not slow in seizing. 
There is hardly anything in warfare which is more vulnerable 
than a submarine on the surface within a few hundred yards 
of a four-inch gun. A single, well-aimed shot will frequently 
send it to the bottom. Indeed, a U-boat caught in such a 
predicament has only one chance of escaping : that is 
represented by the number of seconds which it takes to get 
under the water. But before that time has expired rapidly 
firing guns can put a dozen shots into its hull ; with modern, 
well-trained gun crews, therefore, a submarine which ex- 
poses itself in this way stands practically no chance of 
getting away. Clearly, the obvious thing for the Allies to 
do was to send merchant ships, armed with hidden guns, 
along the great highways of commerce. The crews of 
these ships should be naval officers and men disguised as 
merchant masters and sailors. They should duplicate in 
all details the manners and the " technique " of a freighter's 
crew, and, when shelled or torpedoed by a submarine, they 
should behave precisely like the passengers and crews of 
merchantmen in such a crisis ; a part the only part visible 
to the submarine should leave the vessel in boats, while 
the remainder should lie concealed until the submarine rose 
to the surface and approached the vessel. When the enemy 
had come within two or three hundred yards, the bul- 
warks should fall down, disclosing the armament, the white 
battle ensign go up, and the guns open fire on the practically 
helpless enemy. 


Such was the mystery ship idea in its simplest form. In 
the early days it worked according to this programme. 
The trustful submarine commander who approached a 
mystery ship in the manner which I have described promptly 
found his resting-place on the bottom of the sea. I have 
frequently wondered what must have been the emotions of 
this first submarine crew, when, standing on the deck of 
their boat, steaming confidently toward their victim, they 
saw its bulwarks suddenly drop, and beheld the ship, which 



to all outward appearances was a helpless, foundering hulk, 
become a mass of belching fire and smoke and shot. The 
picture of that first submarine, standing upright in the 
water, reeling like a drunken man, while the apparently 
innocent merchant ship kept pouring volley after volley 
into its sides, is one that will not quickly fade from the 
memory of British naval men. Yet it is evident that the 
Allies could not play a game like this indefinitely. They 
could do so just as long as the Germans insisted on deliver- 
ing themselves into their hands. The complete success of 
the idea depended at first upon the fact that the very 
existence of mystery ships was unknown to the German 
navy. All that the Germans knew, in these early days, was 
that certain U-boats had sailed from Germany and had not 
returned. But it was inevitable that the time should come 
when a mystery ship attack would fail ; the German 
submarine would return and report that this new terror of 
the seas was at large. And that is precisely what happened. 
A certain submarine received a battering which it seemed 
hardly likely that any U-boat could survive ; yet, almost by 
a miracle, it crept back to its German base and reported the 
manner of its undoing. Clearly the mystery ships in future 
were not to have as plain sailing as in the past ; the game, 
if it were to continue, would become more a battle of wits ; 
henceforth every liner and merchantman, in German eyes, 
was a possible enemy in disguise, and it was to be expected 
that the U-boat commanders would resort to every means 
of protecting their craft against them. That the Germans 
knew all about these vessels became apparent when one of 
their naval publications fell into our hands, giving com- 
plete descriptions and containing directions to U-boat 
commanders how to meet this new menace. The German 
newspapers and illustrated magazines also began to devote 
much space to this kind of anti-submarine fighting, de- 
nouncing it in true Germanic fashion as " barbarous " and 
contrary to the rules of civilized warfare. The great 
significance of this knowledge is at once apparent. The 
mere fact that a number of Q-ships were at sea, even if they 
did not succeed in sinking many submarines, forced the 
Germans to make a radical change in their submarine 
tactics. As they could no longer bring to, board, and loot 
merchant ships, and sink them inexpensively and without 
danger by the use of bombs, they were obliged not only to 


use their precious torpedoes, but also to torpedo without 
warning. This was the only alternative except to abandon 
the submarine campaign altogether. 

Berlin accordingly instructed the submarine commanders 
not to approach on the surface any merchant or passenger 
vessel closely enough to get within range of its guns, but 
to keep at a distance and shell it. Had the commanders 
always observed these instructions the success of the 
mystery ship in sinking submarines would have ended 
then and there, though the influence of their presence upon 
tactics would have remained in force. The Allied navies 
now made elaborate preparations, all for the purpose of 
persuading Fritz to approach in the face of a tremendous 
risk concerning which he had been accurately informed. 
Every submarine commander, after torpedoing his victim, 
now clearly understood that it might be a decoy despatched 
for the particular purpose of entrapping him ; and he 
knew that an attempt to approach within a short distance 
of the foundering vessel might spell his own immediate 
destruction. The expert in German mentality must 
explain why, under these circumstances, he should have 
persisted in walking into the jaws of death. The skill 
with which the mystery ships and their crews were dis- 
guised perhaps explains this in part. Anyone who might 
have happened in the open sea upon Captain Campbell 
and his slow-moving freighter could not have believed that 
they were part and parcel of the Royal Navy. Our own 
destroyers were sometimes deceived by them. The 
Gushing one day hailed Captain Campbell in the Pargust, 
having mistaken him for a defenceless tramp. The con- 
versation between the two ships was brief but to the 
point : 

Gushing : What ship ? 

Pargust : Gordon Campbell ! Please keep out of sight. 

The next morning another enemy submarine met her 
fate at the hands of Captain Campbell, and although the 
Gushing had kept far enough away not to interfere with 
the action, she had the honour of escorting the injured 
mystery ship into port and of receiving as a reward three 
rousing cheers from the crew of the Pargust led by Campbell. 
A more villainous -looking gang of seamen than the crews 


of these ships never sailed the waves. All men on board 
were naval officers or enlisted men ; they were all volun- 
teers and comprised men of all ranks ^admirals, captains, 
commanders, and midshipmen. All had temporarily 
abandoned His Majesty's uniform for garments picked up 
in second-hand clothing stores. They had made the some- 
what disconcerting discovery that carefully trained gentle- 
men of the naval forces, when dressed in cast-off clothing 
and when neglectful of their beards, differ little in appear- 
ance from the somewhat rough-and-tumble characters of 
the tramp service. To assume this external disguise 
successfully meant that the volunteers had also to change 
almost their personal characteristics as well as their clothes. 
Whereas the conspicuous traits of a naval man are neat- 
ness and order, these counterfeit merchant sailors had to 
train themselves in the casual ways of tramp seamen. 
They had also to accustom themselves to the conviction 
that a periscope was every moment searching their vessel 
from stem to stern in an attempt to discover whether 
there was anything suspicious about it ; they therefore 
had not only to dress the part of merchantmen, but to 
act it, even in its minor details. The genius of Captain 
Campbell consisted in the fact that he had made a minute 
study of merchantmen, their officers and their crews, and 
was able to reproduce them so literally on this vessel that 
even the expert eye was deceived. Necessarily such a 
ship carried a larger crew than the merchant freighter ; 
nearly all, however, were kept constantly concealed, the 
number appearing on deck always representing just about 
the same number as would normally have sailed upon a 
tramp steamer. These men had to train themselves in 
slouchiness of behaviour ; they would hang over the rails, 
and even use merchant terms in conversation with one 
another ; the officers were " masters," " mates," " pur- 
sers," and the like, and their principal gathering-place 
was not a wardroom, but a saloon. That scrupulous 
deference with which a subordinate officer in the navy 
treats his superior was laid aside in this service. It was 
no longer the custom to salute before addressing the com- 
mander ; more frequently the sailor would slouch up to 
his superior, his hands in his pockets and his pipe in his 
mouth. This attempt to deceive the Hun observer at the 
periscope sometimes assumed an even more ludicrous form. 


When the sailor of a warship dumps ashes overboard 
he does it with particular care, so as not to soil the 
sides of his immaculate vessel ; but a merchant seaman 
is much less considerate ; he usually hurls overboard 
anything he does not want and lets the ship's side take 
its chances. To have followed the manner of the navy 
would at once have given the game away ; so the sailors, 
in carrying out this domestic duty, performed the act 
with all the nonchalance of merchant seamen. To have 
messed in naval style would also have been betraying 
themselves. The ship's cook, therefore, in a white coat, 
would come on deck, and have a look around, precisely 
as he would do on a freighter. Even when in port officers 
and men maintained their disguise. They never visited 
hotels or clubs or private houses ; they spent practically 
all their time on board ; if they occasionally went ashore, 
their merchant outfit so disguised them that even their 
best friends would not have recognized them in the 

The warlike character of their ships was even more 
cleverly hidden. In the early days the guns were placed 
behind the bulwarks, which, when a lever was pulled, 
would fall down, thus giving them an unobstructed range 
at the submarine. In order to make the sides of the ships 
collapsible, certain seams were unavoidably left in the 
plates, where the detachable part joined the main struc- 
ture. The U-boat commanders soon learned to look for 
these betraying seams before coming to the surface. They 
would sail submerged around the ship, the periscope 
minutely examining the sides, much as a scientist examines 
his specimens with a microscope. This practice made it 
necessary to conceal the guns more carefully. The places 
which were most serviceable for this purpose were the 
hatchways those huge wells, extending from the deck 
to the bottom, which are used for loading and unloading 
cargo. Platforms were erected in these openings, and on 
these guns were emplaced ; a covering of tarpaulin com- 
pletely hid them ; yet a lever, pulled by the gun crews, 
would cause the sides of the hatchway covers to fall 
instantaneously. Other guns were placed under lifeboats, 
which, by a similar mechanism, would fall apart, or rise 
in the air, exposing the gun. Perhaps the most deceptive 
device of all was a gun placed upon the stern, and, with 


its crew, constantly exposed to public gaze. Since most 
merchantmen carried such a gun, its absence on a mystery 
ship would in itself have caused suspicion ; this armament 
not only helped the disguise, but served a useful purpose 
in luring the submarine. At the first glimpse of a U-boat 
on the surface, usually several miles away, the gun crew 
would begin shooting ; but they always took care that 
the shots fell short, thus convincing the submarine that 
it had the advantage of range and so inducing it to close. 

Captain Campbell and his associates paid as much 
attention to details in their ships as in their personal 
appearance. The ship's wash did not expose the flannels 
that are affected by naval men but the dungarees that 
are popular with merchant sailors. Sometimes a side of 
beef would be hung out in plain view ; this not only kept 
up the fiction that the ship was an innocent tramp, but 
it served as a tempting bait to the not too well-fed crew 
of the submarine. Particularly tempting cargoes were 
occasionally put on deck. One of the ships carried several 
papier-mach6 freight cars of the small European type 
covered with legends which indicated that they were loaded 
with ammunition and bound for Mesopotamia. It is easy 
to imagine how eagerly the Hun would wish to sink that 
cargo ! 

These ships were so effectively disguised that even the 
most experienced eyes could not discover their real char- 
acter. For weeks they could lie in dock, the dockmen 
never suspecting that they were armed to the teeth. 
Even the pilots who went aboard to take them into harbour 
never discovered that they were not the merchant ships 
which they pretended to be. Captain Hanrahan, who 
commanded the U.S. mystery ship Santee, based on 
Queenstown, once entertained on board an Irishman from 
Cork. The conversation which took place between this 
American naval officer who, in his disguise, was indis- 
tinguishable from a tramp skipper of many years' experi- 
ence disclosed the complete ignorance of the guest con- 
cerning the true character of the boat. 

" How do you like these Americans ? " Captain Han- 
rahan innocently asked. 

" They are eating us out of house and home ! " the 
indignant Irishman remarked. The information was a 
little inaccurate, since all our food supplies were brought 


from the United States ; but the remark was reassuring 
as proving that the ship's disguise had not been pene- 
trated. Such precautions were the more necessary in a 
port like Queenstown where our forces were surrounded 
by spies who were in constant communication with the 

I can personally testify to the difficulty of identifying 
a mystery ship. One day Admiral Bayly suggested that 
we should go out in the harbour and visit one of these 
vessels lying there preparatory to sailing on a cruise. 
Several merchantmen were at anchor in port. We 
steamed close around one in the Admiral's barge and ex- 
amined her very carefully through out glasses from a short 
distance. Concluding that this was not the vessel we were 
seeking, we went to another merchantman. This did not 
show any signs of being a mystery ship ; we therefore 
hailed the skipper, who told us the one which we had 
first visited was the mystery ship. We went back, boarded 
her, and began examining her appliances. The crew was 
dressed in the ordinary sloppy clothes of a merchant- 
man's deck-hands ; the officers wore the usual merchant 
ship uniform, and everything was as unmilitary as a mer- 
chant ship usually is. The vessel had quite a long deck- 
house built of light steel. The captain told us that two 
guns were concealed in this structure ; he suggested that 
we should walk all around it and see if we could point out 
from a close inspection the location of the guns. We 
searched carefully, but were utterly unable to discover 
where the guns were. The captain then sent the crew to 
quarters and told us to stand clear. At the word of 
command one of the plates of the perpendicular side of 
the deckhouse slid out of the way as quickly as a flash. 
The rail at the ship's side in front of the gun fell down 
and a boat davit swung out of the way. At the same 
time the gun crew swung the gun out and fired a primer 
to indicate how quickly they could have fired a real shot. 
The captain also showed us a boat upside down on the 
deckhouse merchantmen frequently carry one boat in 
this position. At a word a lever was pulled down below 
and the boat reared up in the air and revealed underneath 
a gun and its crew. On the poop was a large crate about 
6 X 6 x 8 or 10 feet. At a touch of the lever the sides of 
this crate fell down and revealed another gun. 



For the greater part of 1917 from twenty to thirty of 
these ships sailed back and forth in the Atlantic, always 
choosing those parts of the seas where they were most 
likely to meet submarines. They were " merchantmen " 
of all kinds tramp steamers, coasting vessels, trawlers, 
and schooners. Perhaps the most distressing part of 
existence on one of these ships was its monotony : day 
would follow day ; week would follow week ; and some- 
times months would pass without encountering a single 
submarine. Captain Campbell himself spent nine months 
on his first mystery ship before even sighting an enemy, 
and many of his successors had a similar experience. 
The mystery boat was a patient fisherman, constantly 
expecting a bite and frequently going for long periods 
without the slightest nibble. This kind of an existence 
was not only disappointing but also exceedingly nerve 
racking ; all during this waiting period the officers and 
men had to keep themselves constantly at attention ; the 
vaudeville show which they were maintaining for the 
benefit of a possible periscope had to go on continuously ; 
a moment's forgetfulness or relaxation might betray their 
secret, and make their experiment a failure. The fearful 
tediousness of this kind of life had a more nerve-racking 
effect upon the officers and men than the most exciting 
battles, and practically all the mystery ship men who 
broke down fell victims not to the dangers of their enter- 
prise, but to this dreadful tension of sailing for weeks 
and months without coming to close quarters with their 

About the most welcome sight to a mystery ship, after 
a period of inactivity, was the wake of a torpedo speeding 
in its direction. Nothing could possibly disappoint it 
more than to see this torpedo pass astern or forward 
without hitting the vessel. In such a contingency the 
genuine merchant ship would make every possible effort 
to turn out of the torpedo's way : the helmsman of the 
mystery ship, however, would take all possible precau- 
tions to see that his vessel was hit. This, however, he 
had to do with the utmost cleverness, else the fact that 
he was attempting to collide with several hundred pounds 
of gun-cotton would in itself betray him to the submarine. 

1917] "ABANDONING SHIP" 158 

Not improbably several members of the crew might be 
killed when the torpedo struck, but that was all part of 
the game which they were playing. More important than 
the lives of the men was the fate of the ship ; if this could 
remain afloat long enough to give the gunners a good 
chance at the submarine, everybody on board would be 
satisfied. There was, however, little danger that the 
mystery ship would go down immediately ; for all avail- 
able cargo space had been filled with wood, which gave 
the vessel sufficient buoyancy sometimes to survive many 

Of course this, as well as all the other details of the 
vessel, was unknown to the skipper of the submerged 
submarine. Having struck his victim in a vital spot, he 
had every reason to believe that it would disappear beneath 
the waves within a reasonable period. The business of 
the disguised merchantman was to encourage this delusion 
in every possible way. From the time that the torpedo 
struck, the mystery ship behaved precisely as the every- 
day cargo carrier, caught in a similar predicament, would 
have done. A carefully drilled contingent of the crew, 
known as the " panic party," enacted the r61e of the men 
on a torpedoed vessel. They ran to and fro on the deck, 
apparently in a state of high consternation, now rushing 
below and emerging with some personal treasure, perhaps 
an old suit of clothes tucked under the arm, perhaps the 
ship's cat or parrot, or a small handbag hastily stuffed 
with odds and ends. Under the control of the navigating 
officer these men would make for a lifeboat, which they 
would lower in realistic fashion sometimes going so far, 
in their stage play, as to upset it, leaving the men puffing 
and scrambling in the water. One member of the crew, 
usually the navigator, dressed up as the " captain," did 
his best to supervise these operations. Finally, after 
everybody had left, and the vessel was settling at bow 
or stern, the " captain " would come to the side, cast 
one final glance at his sinking ship, drop a roll of papers 
into a lifeboat ostensibly the precious documents which 
were so coveted by the submarine as an evidence of success 
lower himself with one or two companions, and row in 
the direction of the other lifeboats. Properly placing 
these lifeboats, after " abandoning ship," was itself one 
of the finest points in the plot. If the submarine rose 


to the surface it would invariably steer first for those 
little boats, looking for prisoners or the ship's papers ; 
the boats' crews, therefore, had instructions to take up 
a station on a bearing from which the ship's guns could 
most successfully rake the submarine. That this manoeuvre 
involved great danger to the men in the lifeboats was a 
matter of no consideration in the desperate enterprise in 
which they were engaged. 

Thus to all outward appearance this performance was 
merely the torpedoing of a helpless merchant vessel. Yet 
the average German commander became altogether too 
wary to accept the situation in that light. He had no 
intention of approaching either lifeboats or the ship until 
entirely satisfied that he was not dealing with one of the 
decoy vessels which he so greatly feared. There was 
only one way of satisfying himself : that was to shell the 
ship so mercilessly that, in his opinion, if any human 
beings had remained aboard, they would have been killed 
or forced to surrender. The submarine therefore arose 
at a distance of two or three miles. Possibly the mystery 
ship, with one well -aimed shot, might hit the submarine 
at this distance, but the chances were altogether against 
her. To fire such a shot, of course, would immediately 
betray the fact that a gun crew still remained on board, 
and that -the vessel was a mystery ship ; and on this dis- 
covery the submarine would submerge, approach the 
vessel under water, and give her one or two more torpedoes. 
No, whatever the temptation, the crew must " play 
'possum," and not by so much as a wink let the submarine 
know that there was any living thing on board. But this 
experience demanded heroism that almost approaches the 
sublime. The gun crews lay prone beside their guns, 
waiting the word of command to fire ; the captain lay on 
the screened bridge, watching the whole proceeding 
through a peephole, with voice tubes near at hand with 
which he could constantly talk to his men. They main- 
tained these positions sometimes for hours, never lifting 
a finger in defence, while the submarine, at a safe distance, 
showered hundreds of shells upon the ship. These horrible 
missiles would shriek above their heads ; they would land 
on the decks, constantly wounding the men, sometimes 
killing whole gun crews yet, although the ship might 
become a mass of blood and broken fragments of human 


bodies, the survivors would lie low, waiting, with infinite 
patience, until the critical moment arrived. This was the 
way they took to persuade the submarine that their ship 
was what it pretended to be, a tramp, that there was nothing 
alive on board, and that it could safely come near. The 
still cautious German, after an hour or so of this kind 
of execution, would submerge and approach within a 
few hundred yards. All that the watchful eye at the 
peephole could see, however, was the periscope ; this 
would sail all around the vessel, sometimes at a distance 
of fifty or a hundred feet. Clearly the German was taking 
no chances ; he was examining his victim inch by inch, 
looking for the slightest sign that the vessel was a decoy. 
All this time the captain and crew were lying taut, hold- 
ing their breath, not moving a muscle, hardly winking an 
eyelid, the captain with his mouth at the voice pipe ready 
to give the order to let the false works drop the moment 
the submarine emerged, the gun crews ready to fire at a 
second's warning. But the cautious periscope, having 
completed the inspection of the ship, would start in the 
direction of the drifting lifeboats. This ugly eye would 
stick itself up almost in the faces of the anxious crew, 
evidently making a microscopical examination of the 
clothes, faces, and general personnel, to see if it could 
detect under their tramp steamer clothes any traces of 
naval officers and men. 

Still the anxious question was, would the submarine 
emerge ? Until it should do so the ship's crew was abso- 
lutely helpless. There was no use in shooting at the 
submerged boat, as shots do not penetrate the water 
but bounce off the surface as they do off solid ice. Every- 
body knew that the German under the water was debating 
that same question. To come up to the surface so near 
a mystery ship he knew meant instant death and the 
loss of his submarine ; yet to go away under water meant 
that the sinking ship, if a merchantman, might float long 
enough to be salvaged, and it meant also that he would 
never be able to prove that he had accomplished anything 
with his valuable torpedo. Had he not shelled the derelict 
so completely that nothing could possibly survive ? Had 
he not examined the thing minutely and discovered 
nothing amiss ? It must be remembered that in 1917 a 
submarine went through this same procedure with every 


ship that did not sink very soon after being torpedoed, 
and that, in nearly every case, it discovered, after emerg- 
ing, that it had been dealing with a real merchantman. 
Already this same submarine had wasted hours and 
immense stores of ammunition on vessels that were not 
mystery ships, but harmless tramps, and all these false 
alarms had made it impatient and careless. In most 
cases, therefore, the crew had only to bide its time. The 
captain knew that his hidden enemy would finally rise. 

" Stand by ! " 

This command would come softly through the speaking 
tubes to the men at the guns. The captain on the bridge 
had noticed the preliminary disturbance on the water 
that preceded the emergence of the submarine. In a few 
seconds the whole boat would be floating on top, and 
the officers and crews would climb out on the deck, eager 
for booty. And this within a hundred yards of four or 
five guns ! 

" Let go ! " 

This command came at the top of the voice, for con- 
cealment was now no longer necessary. In a twinkling 
up went the battle flag, bulwarks fell down, lifeboats on 
decks collapsed, revealing guns, sides dropped from 
deckhouses, hen-coops, and other innocent-looking struc- 
tures. The apparently sinking merchantman became a 
volcano of smoke and fire ; scores of shells dropped upon 
the submarine, punching holes in her frail hull, hurling 
German sailors high into the air, sometimes decapitating 
them or blowing off their arms or legs. The whole horrible 
scene lasted only a few seconds before the helpless vessel 
would take its final plunge to the depths, leaving perhaps 
two or three survivors, a mass of oil and wood, and 
still more ghastly wreckage, to mark the spot where 
another German submarine had paid the penalty of its 


It was entirely characteristic of this strange war that 
the greatest exploit of any of the mystery ships was in 
one sense a failure that is, it did not succeed in destroy- 
ing the submarine which attacked it. 

1917J THE "DUNRAVEN" 157 

On an August day in 1917 the British " merchant 
steamer " Dunraven was zigzagging across the Bay of 
Biscay. Even to the expert eye she was a heavily laden 
cargo vessel bound for Gibraltar and the Mediterranean, 
probably carrying supplies to the severely pressed Allies 
in Italy and the East. On her stern a 2|-pounder gun, 
clearly visible to all observers, helped to emphasize this 
impression. Yet the apparently innocent Dunraven was 
a far more serious enemy to the submarine than appeared 
on the surface. The mere fact that the commander was 
not an experienced merchant salt, but Captain Gordon 
Campbell, of the Royal Navy, in itself would have made 
the Dunraven an object of terror to any lurking submarine, 
for Captain Campbell's name was a familiar one to the 
Germans by this time. Yet it would have taken a careful 
investigation to detect in the rough and unkempt figure 
of Captain Campbell any resemblance to an officer of the 
British navy, or to identify the untidy seamen as regularly 
enrolled British sailors. The armament of the Dunraven, 
could one have detected it, would have provided the 
greatest surprises. This vessel represented the final per- 
fection of the mystery ship. Though seemingly a harmless 
tramp she carried a number of guns, also two torpedo 
tubes, and several depth charges ; but even from her 
deck nothing was visible except the usual merchant gun 
aft. The stern of the Dunraven was a veritable arsenal. 
Besides the guns and depth charges, the magazine and 
shell -rooms were concealed there ; on each side of the 
ship a masked torpedo tube held its missile ready for a 
chance shot at a submarine ; and the forward deck con- 
tained other armament. Such was the Dunraven, plough- 
ing her way along, quietly and indifferently, even when, 
as on this August morning, a submarine was lying on the 
horizon, planning to make her its prey. 

As soon as the disguised merchantman spotted this 
enemy she began to behave in character. When an 
armed merchant ship got within range of a submarine 
on the surface she frequently let fly a shot on the chance 
of a hit. That was therefore the proper thing for the 
Dunraven to do ; it was really all a part of the game 
of false pretence in which she was engaged. However, 
she took pains that the shell should not reach the sub- 
marine ; this was her means of persuading the U-boat 


that it outranged the Dunraven's gun and could safely 
give chase. The decoy merchantman apparently put on 
extra steam when the submarine started in her direction 
at top speed ; here, again, however, the proper manoeuvre 
was not to run too fast, for her real mission was to get 
caught. On the other hand, had she slowed down per- 
ceptibly, that in itself would have aroused suspicion ; 
her game, therefore, was to decrease speed gradually so 
that the U-boat would think that it was overtaking its 
enemy by its own exertions. All during this queer kind 
of a chase the submarine and the cargo ship were pepper- 
ing each other with shells, one seriously, the other merely 
in pretence. The fact that a naval crew, with such a fine 
target as an exposed submarine, could shoot with a con- 
scious effort not to hit, but merely to lure the enemy to a 
better position, in itself is an eloquent evidence of the 
perfect discipline which prevailed in the mystery ship 
service. Not to aim a fair shot upon the detested vessel, 
when there was a possibility of hitting it, was almost too 
much to ask of human nature. But it was essential to 
success with these vessels never to fire with the intention 
of hitting unless there was a practical certainty of sinking 
the submarine ; all energies were focussed upon the 
supreme task of inducing the enemy to expose itself com- 
pletely within three or four hundred yards of the disguised 

In an hour or two the submarine landed a shot that 
seemed to have done serious damage. At least huge clouds 
of steam arose from the engine-room, furnishing external 
evidence that the engines or boilers had been disabled. The 
submarine commander did not know that this was a trick ; 
that the vessel was fitted with a specially arranged pipe 
around the engine-room hatch which could emit these 
bursts of steam at a moment's notice, all for the purpose of 
making him believe that the vitals of the ship had been 
irreparably damaged. The stopping of the ship, the blow- 
ing off of the safety valve, and the appearance of the " panic 
party " immediately after this ostensible hit made the 
illusion complete. This " panic party " was particularly 
panicky ; one of the lifeboats was let go with a run, one fall 
at a time, thus dumping its occupants into the sea. Ulti- 
mately, however, the struggling swimmers were picked up 
and the boat rowed away, taking up a position where a 


number of the Dunraven's guns could get a good shot at the 
submar ne should the Germans follow their usual plan of 
inspecting the lifeboats before visiting the sinking merchant- 

So far everything was taking place according to pro- 
gramme ; but presently the submarine reopened fire and 
scored a shot which gave the enemy all the advantages of 
the situation. I have described in some detail the stern of 
the ship a variegated assortment of depth charges, shell, 
guns, and human beings. The danger of such an una- 
voidable concentration of armament and men was that a 
lucky shot might land in the midst of it. And this is 
precisely what now happened. Not only one, but three 
shells from the submarine one after the other struck this 
hidden mass of men and ammunition. The first one 
exploded a depth charge 300 pounds of high explosive 
which blew one of the officers out of the after-control 
station where he lay concealed and landed him on the deck 
several yards distant. Here he remained a few moments 
unconscious ; then his associates saw him, wounded as he 
was, creeping inch by inch back into his control position, 
fortunately out of sight of the Germans. The seaman who 
was stationed at the depth charges was also wounded by 
this shot, but, despite all efforts to remove him to a more 
comfortable place, he insisted on keeping at his post. 

" 'Ere I was put in charge of these things," he said, " and 
'ere I stays." 

Two more shells, one immediately after the other, now 
landed on the stern. Clouds of black smoke began to rise, 
and below tongues of flame presently appeared, licking their 
way in the direction of a large quantity of ammunition, 
cordite, and other high explosives. It was not decoy smoke 
and decoy flame this time. Captain Campbell, watching 
the whole proceeding from the bridge, perhaps felt some- 
thing in the nature of a chill creeping up his spine when he 
realized that the after-part of the ship, where men, explo- 
sives, and guns lay concealed in close proximity, was on fire. 
Just at this moment he observed that the submarine was 
rapidly approaching ; and in a few minutes it lay within 
400 yards of his guns. Captain Campbell was just about 
to give the orders to open fire when the wind took up the 
dense smoke of the fire and wafted it between his ship and 
the submarine. This precipitated one of the crises which 


tested to the utmost the discipline of the mystery ship. 
The captain had two alternatives : he could fire at the 
submarine through the smoke, taking his chances of hitting 
an unseen and moving target, or he could wait until the 
enemy passed around the ship and came up on the other 
side, where there would be no smoke to interfere with his 
view. It was the part of wisdom to choose the latter course ; 
but under existing conditions such a decision involved not 
only great nerve, but absolute confidence in his men. For 
all this time the fire at the stern was increasing in fierceness ; 
in a brief period, Captain Campbell knew, a mass of ammu- 
nition and depth charges would explode, probably killing or 
frightfully wounding every one of the men who were 
stationed there. If he should wait until the U-boat made 
the tour of the ship and reached the side that was free of 
smoke the chances were that this explosion would take place 
before a gun could be fired. On the other hand, if he should 
fire through the smoke, there was little likelihood of hitting 
the submarine. 

Those who are acquainted with the practical philosophy 
which directed operations in this war will readily foresee the 
choice which was now made. The business of mystery 
ships, as of all anti-submarine craft, was to sink the enemy. 
All other considerations amounted to nothing when this 
supreme object was involved. The lives of officers and 
men, precious as they were under ordinary circumstances, 
were to be immediately sacrificed if such a sacrifice would 
give an opportunity of destroying the submarine. It was 
therefore Captain Campbell's duty to wait for the under- 
water boat to sail slowly around his ship and appear in 
clear view on the starboard side, leaving his brave men at 
the stern exposed to the fire, every minute raging more 
fiercely, and to the likelihood of a terrific explosion. That 
he was able to make this decision, relying confidently upon 
the spirit of his crew and their loyal devotion to their 
leader, again illustrates the iron discipline which was 
maintained on the mystery ships. The first explosion had 
destroyed the voice tube by means of which Captain 
Campbell communicated with this gun crew. He therefore 
had to make his decision without keeping his men informed 
of the progress of events information very helpful to men 
under such a strain ; but he well knew that these men 
would understand his action and cheerfully accept their 


r61e in the game. Yet the agony of their position tested 
their self-control to the utmost. The deck on which they 
lay every moment became hotter ; the leather of their 
shoes began to smoke, but they refused to budge for to 
flee to a safer place meant revealing themselves to the sub- 
marine and thereby betraying their secret. They took the 
boxes of cordite shells in their arms and held them up as 
high as possible above the smouldering deck in the hope of 
preventing an explosion which seemed inevitable. Never 
did Christian martyrs, stretched upon a gridiron, suffer 
with greater heroism. 

It was probably something of a relief when the expected 
explosion took place. The submarine had to go only 
200 yards more to be under the fire of three guns at a range 
of 400 yards, but just as it was rounding the stern the 
German officers and men, standing on the deck, were greeted 
with a terrific roar. Suddenly a conglomeration of men, 
guns, and unexploded shells was hurled into the air. The 
German crew, of course, had believed that the vessel was a 
deserted hulk, and this sudden manifestation of life on board 
not only tremendously startled them, but threw them into 
a panic. The four-inch gun and its crew were blown high 
into the air, the gun landing forward on the well deck, and 
the crew in various places. One man fell into the water ; 
he was picked up, not materially the worse for his experi- 
ence, by the Dunraven's lifeboat, which, all this time, had 
been drifting in the neighbourhood. It is one of the 
miracles of this war that not one of the members of that 
crew was killed. The gashed and bleeding bodies of several 
were thrown back upon the deck ; but there were none so 
seriously wounded that they did not recover. In the minds 
of these men, however, their own sufferings were not the 
most distressing consequences of the explosion ; the really 
unfortunate fact was that the sudden appearance of men and 
guns ,n the air informed the Germans that they had to 
deal with one of the ships which they so greatly dreaded. 
The game, so far as the Dunraven was concerned, was 
apparently up. The submarine vanished under the water ; 
and the Englishmen well knew that the next move would be 



the firing of the torpedo which could confidently be expected 
to end the Q-boat's career. Some of the crew who were 
not incapacitated got a hose and attempted to put out the 
fire, while others removed their wounded comrades to as 
comfortable quarters as could be found. Presently the 
wake of the torpedo could be seen approaching the ship ; 
the explosion that followed was a terrible one. The con- 
cussion of the previous explosion had set off the " open- 
fire " buzzers at the gun positions these buzzers being the 
usual signals for dropping the false work that concealed the 
guns and beginning the fight. The result was that, before 
the torpedo had apparently given the Dunraven its quietus, 
all the remaining guns were exposed with their crews. 
Captain Campbell now decided to fight to the death. He 
sent out a message notifying all destroyers and other anti- 
submarine craft, as well as all merchant ships, not to 
approach within thirty miles. A destroyer, should she 
appear, would force the German to keep under water, and 
thus prevent the Dunraven from getting a shot. Another 
merchant ship on the horizon might prove such a tempting 
bait to the submarine that it would abandon the Dunraven, 
now nearly done for all on fire at one end as she was and 
also sinking from her torpedo wound and so prevent any 
further combat. For the resourceful Captain Campbell had 
already formulated another final plan by which he might 
entice the submarine to rise within range of his guns. To 
carry out this plan, he wanted plenty of sea room and no 
interference ; so he drew a circle in the water, with a radius 
of thirty miles, inclosing the space which was to serve as the 
" prize ring " for the impending contest. 

His idea was to fall in with the German belief that the 
Dunraven had reached the end of her tether. A hastily 
organized second " panic party " jumped into a remaining 
lifeboat and a raft and rowed away from the sinking, 
burning ship. Here was visible evidence to the Germans 
that their enemies had finally abandoned the fight after 
nearly four hours of as frightful gruelling as any ship had 
ever received. But there were still two guns that were con- 
cealed and workable ; there were, as already said, two 
torpedo tubes, one on each beam ; and a handful of men 
were kept on board to man these. Meanwhile, Captain 
Campbell lay prone on the bridge, looking through a peep- 
hole for the appearance of the submarine, constantly talking 

1917] A GRIM STRUGGLE 163 

to his men through the tubes, even joking them on their 
painful vigil. 

" If you know a better 'ole," he would say, quoting 
Bairnsfather, " go to it ! " 

" Remember, lads," he would call at another time, " that 
the King has given this ship the V.C." 

Every situation has its humorous aspects. Thus one 
gun crew could hardly restrain its laughter when a blue- 
jacket called up to Captain Campbell and asked if he could 
not take his boots off. He came of a respectable family, he 
explained, and did not think it becoming to die with his 
boots on. But the roar of the fire, which had now engulfed 
the larger part of the ship, and the constantly booming 
shells, which were exploding, one after another, like mam- 
moth fire-crackers, interfered with much conversation. For 
twenty minutes everybody lay there, hoping and praying 
that the U-boat would emerge. 

The German ultimately came up, but he arose cautiously 
at the stern of the ship, at a point from which the guns of 
the Dunraven could not bear. On the slim chance that a 
few men might be left aboard, the submarine shelled it for 
several minutes, fore and aft, then, to the agony of the 
watching Englishmen, it again sank beneath the waves. 
Presently the periscope shot up, and began moving slowly 
around the blazing derelict, its eye apparently taking in 
every detail ; he was so cautious, that submarine com- 
mander, he did not propose to be outwitted again ! Captain 
Campbell now saw that he had only one chance ; the con- 
flagration was rapidly destroying his vessel, and he could 
spend no more time waiting for the submarine to rise. But 
he had two torpedoes and he determined to use these 
against the submerged submarine. As the periscope 
appeared abeam, one of the Dunraven's torpedoes started 
in its direction ; the watching gunners almost wept when it 
missed by a few inches. But the submarine did not see it, 
and the periscope calmly appeared on the other side of the 
ship. The second torpedo was fired ; this also passed just 
about a foot astern, and the submarine saw it. The game 
was up. What was left of the Dunraven was rapidly sink- 
ing, and Captain Campbell sent out a wireless for help. In 
a few minutes the U.S. armed yacht Noma and the British 
destroyers Alcock and Christopher, which had been waiting 
outside the " prize ring," arrived and took off the crew. 


The tension of the situation was somewhat relieved when 
a " Jackie " in one of the " panic " boats caught sight of 
his beloved captain, entirely uninjured, jumping on one of 
the destroyers. 

" Gawd ! " he shouted, in a delighted tone, " if there 
ain't the skipper still alive ! " 

" We deeply regret the loss of His Majesty's ship," said 
Captain Campbell, in his report, " and still more the 
escape of the enemy. We did our best, not only to destroy 
the enemy and save the ship, but also to show ourselves 
worthy of the Victoria Cross which the King recently 
bestowed on the ship." 

They did indeed. My own opinion of this performance 
I expressed in a letter which I could not refrain from 
writing to Captain Campbell : 


I have just read your report of the action between the 
Dunraven and a submarine on August 8th last. 

I have had the benefit of reading the reports of some of 
your former exploits, and Admiral Bayly has told me 
about them all ; but in my opinion this of the Dunraven 
is the finest of all as a military action and the most deserv- 
ing of complete success. 

It was purely incidental that the sub escaped. That 
was due, moreover, to an unfortunate piece of bad luck. 
The engagement, judged as a skilful fight, and not mea- 
sured by its material results, seems to me to have been 
perfectly successful, because I do not think that even 
you, with all your experience in such affairs, could con- 
ceive of any feature of the action that you would alter if 
you had to do it over again. According to my idea about 
such matters, the standard set by you and your crew is 
worth infinitely more than the destruction of a submarine. 
Long after we both are dust and ashes, the story of this 
last fight will be a valuable inspiration to British (and 
American) naval officers and men a demonstration of 
the extraordinary degree to which the patriotism, loyalty, 
personal devotion, and bravery of a crew may be inspired. 
I know nothing finer in naval history than the conduct of 
the after-gun's crew in fact, the entire crew of the Dun- 
raven. It goes without saying that the credit of this 
behaviour is chiefly yours. . . . 


With my best wishes for your future success, believe 
me, my dear Captain, 

Faithfully yours, 


The records show that the mystery ships sank twelve 
submarines, of which Captain Campbell accounted for 
four ; yet this was perhaps not their most important 
achievement. From the German standpoint they were a 
terribly disturbing element in the general submarine 
situation. Externally a mystery ship, as already de- 
scribed, was indistinguishable from the most harmless 
merchantman. The cleverness with which the Allied 
officers took advantage of the vicious practices of the 
submarine commanders bewildered them still further. 
Nothing afloat was sacred to the Hun ; and he seemed to 
take particular pride in destroying small vessels, even 
little sailing vessels. The Navy decided to turn this 
amiable trait to good account, and fitted out the Prize, 
a topsail schooner of 200 tons, and placed her under the 
command of Lieut. William Sanders, R.N.R. This little 
schooner, as was expected, proved an irresistible bait. A 
certain submarine, commanded by one of the most experi- 
enced U-boat captains, attacked her by gun fire from a 
safe distance and, after her panic party had left, shelled 
her until she was in a sinking condition ; many of her 
crew had been killed and wounded, when, confident that 
she could not be a Q-sbip, the enemy came within less 
than 100 yards. It was promptly fired on and disap- 
peared beneath the surface. The panic party picked up 
the German captain and two men, apparently the only 
survivors, who expressed their high admiration for the 
bravery of the crew and assisted them to get their battered 
craft into port. The captain said to Lieutenant Sanders : 
" I take off my hat to you and your men. I would not 
have believed that any men could stand such gun fire." 
For this exploit Lieutenant Sanders was awarded the 
Victoria Cross. Within about four days from the time 
of this action the Admiralty received an inquiry via 
Sweden through the Red Cross asking the whereabouts 
of the captain of this submarine. This showed that the 
vessel had reached her home port, and illustrated once 
more the necessity for caution in claiming the destruction 


of U-boats and the wisdom of declining to publish the 
figures of sinkings. Unfortunately, the plucky little 
Prize was subsequently lost with her gallant captain 
and crew. 

So great was the desire of our people to take some part 
in the mystery ship campaign that I took steps to satisfy 
their legitimate ambition. As the Navy had fitted out 
no mystery ships of our own, I requested the Admiralty 
to assign one for our use. This was immediately agreed 
to by Admiral Jellicoe and, with the approval of the Navy 
Department, the vessel was delivered and named the 
Santee, after our old sailing man-of-war of that name. 
We called for volunteers, and practically all the officers 
and men of the forces based on Queenstown clamoured for 
this highly interesting though hazardous service. Com- 
mander David C. Hanrahan was assigned as her com- 
mander, and two specially selected men were taken from 
each of our vessels, thus forming an exceedingly capable 
crew. The ship was disguised with great skill and, with 
the invaluable advice of Captain Campbell, the crew was 
thoroughly trained in all the fine points of the game. 

One December evening the Santee sailed from Queens- 
town for Bantry Bay to carry out intensive training. A 
short time after she left port she was struck by a torpedo 
which caused great damage, but so solidly was her hull 
packed with wood that she remained afloat. The panic 
party got off in most approved style, and for several 
hours the Santee awaited developments, hoping for a 
glimpse of the submarine. But the under- water boat 
never disclosed its presence ; not even the tip of a peri- 
scope showed itself ; and the Santee was towed back to 

The Santee's experience was that of many mystery ships 
of 1918. The Germans had learned their lesson. 

For this reason it is desirable to repeat and emphasize 
that the most important accomplishment of the mystery 
ships was not the actual sinking of submarines, but their 
profound influence upon the tactics of the U-boats. It 
was manifest in the beginning that the first information 
reaching Germany concerning the mystery ships would 
greatly diminish the chances of sinking submarines by this 
means, for it would cause all submarines to be wary of all 
mercantile craft. They were therefore obliged largely to 


abandon the easy, safe, and cheap methods of sinking 
ships by bombs or gun fire, and were consequently forced 
to incur the danger of attacking with the scarce and 
expensive torpedo. Moreover, barring the very few 
vessels that could be sunk by long-range gun fire, they were 
practically restricted to this method of attack on pain 
of abandoning the submarine campaign altogether. 



WHO would ever have thought that a little wooden vessel, 
displacing only sixty tons, measuring only 110 feet from 
bow to stern, and manned by officers and crew very few 
of whom had ever made an ocean voyage, could have 
crossed more than three thousand miles of wintry sea, 
even with the help of the efficient naval officers and men 
who, after training there, convoyed and guided them 
across, and could have done excellent work in hunting 
the submarines ? We built nearly 400 of these little 
vessels in eighteen months ; and we sent 170 to such 
widely scattered places as Plymouth, Queenstown, Brest, 
Gibraltar, and Corfu. Several enemy submarines now lie 
at the bottom of the sea as trophies of their offensive 
power ; and on the day that hostilities ceased, the Allies 
generally recognized that this tiny vessel, with the " lis- 
tening devices " which made it so efficient, represented 
one of the most satisfactory direct " answers " to the sub- 
marine which had been developed by the war. Had it 
not been that the war ended before enough destroyers 
could be spared from convoy duty to assist, with their 
greater speed and offensive power, hunting groups of 
these tiny craft, it is certain that they would soon have 
become a still more important factor in destroying sub- 
marines and interfering with their operations. 

The convoy system, as I have already explained, was 
essentially an offensive .measure ; it compelled the sub- 
marine to encounter its most formidable antagonist, the 
destroyer, and to risk destruction every time that it 
attacked merchant vessels. This system, however, was 
an indirect offensive, or, to use the technical phrase, it was 
a defensive-offensive. Its great success in protecting 


1917] "BLIND MAN'S BUFF" 169 

merchant shipping, and the indispensable service which 
it performed to the cause of civilization, I have already 
described. But the fact remained that there could be 
no final solution of the submarine problem, barring break- 
ing down the enemy moral, until a definite, direct method 
of attacking these boats had been found. A depth charge, 
fired from the deck of a destroyer, was a serious matter 
for the submarine ; still the submarine could avoid this 
deadly weapon at any time by simply concealing its 
whereabouts when in danger of attack. The destroyer 
could usually sink the submarine whenever it could get 
near enough ; it was for the under-water boat, however, 
to decide whether an engagement should take place. That 
great advantage in warfare, the option of fighting or of 
running away, always lay with the submarine. Until it 
was possible for our naval forces to set out to sea, find 
the enemy that was constantly assailing our commerce, 
and destroy him, it was useless to maintain that we had 
discovered the anti-submarine tactics which would drive 
this pest from the ocean for all time. Though the convoy, 
the mine-fields, the mystery ships, the airplane, and several 
other methods of fighting the under-water boat had been 
developed, the submarine could still utilize that one great 
quality of invisibility which made any final method of 
attacking it such a difficult problem. 

Thus, despite the wonderful work which had been 
accomplished by the convoy, the Allied effort to destroy 
the submarine was still largely a game of blind man's buff. 
In our struggle against the German campaign we were 
deprived of one of the senses which for ages had been 
absolutely necessary to military operations that of sight. 
We were constantly attempting to destroy an enemy 
whom we could not see. So far as this offensive on the 
water was concerned, the Allies found themselves in the 
position of a man who has suddenly gone blind. I make 
this comparison advisedly, for it at once suggests that our 
situation was not entirely hopeless. The man who loses 
the use of his eyes suffers a terrible affliction ; yet this 
calamity does not completely destroy his usefulness. Such 
a person, if normally intelligent, gradually learns how to 
find his way around in darkness ; first he slowly discovers 
how to move about his room ; then about his house, then 
about his immediate neighbourhood ; and ultimately he 


becomes so expert that he can be trusted to walk alone 
in crowded streets, to pilot himself up and down strange 
buildings, and even to go on long journeys. In time he 
learns to read, to play cards and chess, and not infre- 
quently even to resume his old profession or occupation ; 
indeed his existence, despite the deprivation of what 
many regard as the most indispensable of the senses, 
becomes again practically a normal process. His whole 
experience, of course, is one of the most beautiful demon- 
strations we have of the exquisite economy of Nature. 
What has happened in the case of this stricken man is 
that his other senses have come to fill the place of the 
one which he has lost. Deprived of sight, he is forced to 
form his contacts with the external world by using his 
other senses, especially those of touch and hearing. So 
long as he could see clearly these senses had lain half 
developed ; he had never used them to any extent that 
remotely approached their full powers ; but now that 
they are called into constant action they gradually increase 
in strength to a degree that seems abnormal, precisely as 
a disused muscle, when regularly exercised, acquires a 
hitherto unsuspected vigour. 

This illustration applies to the predicament in which 
the Allied navies now found themselves. When they 
attempted to fight the submarine they discovered that 
they had gone hopelessly blind. Like the sightless man, 
however, they still had other senses left ; and it remained 
for them to develop these to take the place of the one of 
which they had been deprived. The faculty which it 
seemed most likely that they could increase by stimulation 
was that of hearing. Our men could not detect the 
presence of the submarine with their eyes ; could they 
not do so with their ears ? Their enemy could make 
himself unseen at will, but he could not make himself 
unheard, except by stopping his motors. In fact, when 
the submarine was under water the vibrations, due to the 
peculiar shape of its propellers and hull, and to its electric 
motors, produced sound waves that resembled nothing 
else in art or nature. It now clearly became the business 
of naval science to take advantage of this phenomenon to 
track the submarine after it had submerged. Once this 
feat had been accomplished, the only advantage which 
the under-water boat possessed over other warcraft, that 

1917] HEARING DEVICES , 171 

of invisibility, would be overcome ; and, inasmuch as the 
submarine, except for this quality of invisibility, was a 
far weaker vessel than any other afloat, the complete 
elimination of this advantage would dispose of it as a for- 
midable enemy in war. 

A fact that held forth hopes of success was that water 
is an excellent conductor of sound far better than the 
atmosphere itself. In the air there are many cross- 
currents and areas of varying temperature which make 
sound waves frequently behave in most puzzling fashion, 
sometimes travelling in circles, sometimes moving capri- 
ciously up or down or even turning sharp corners. The 
mariner has learned how deceptive is a foghorn ; when it 
is blowing he knows that a ship is somewhere in the 
general region, but usually he has no definite idea where. 
The water, however, is uniform in density and practically 
uniform in temperature, and therefore sound in this 
medium always travels in straight lines. It also travels 
more rapidly in water than in the air, it travels farther, 
and the sound waves are more distinct. American in- 
ventors have been the pioneers in making practical use 
of this well-known principle. Before the war its most 
valuable applications were the submarine bell and the 
vibrator. On many Atlantic and Pacific points these 
instruments had been placed under the water, provided 
with mechanisms which caused them to sound at regular 
intervals ; an ingenious invention, installed aboard ships, 
made it possible for trained listeners to pick up these 
noises, and so fix positions, long before lighthouses or 
lightships came into view in any but entirely clear weather. 
For several years the great trans -Atlantic liners have 
frequently made Nantucket Lightship by listening for its 
submarine bell. From the United States this system was 
rapidly extending all over the world. 

American inventors were therefore well qualified to deal 
with this problem of communicating by sound under the 
water. A listening device placed on board ship, which 
would reveal to practised ears the noise of a submarine at 
a reasonable distance, and which would at the same time 
give its direction, would come near to solving the most 
serious problem presented by the German tactics. Even 
before the United States entered the war, American 
specialists had started work on their own initiative. In 


particular the General Electric Company, the Western 
Electric Company, and the Submarine Signal Company 
had taken up the matter at their own expense ; each had 
a research department and an experimental station where 
a large amount of preliminary work had been done. 
Soon a special board was created at Washington to study 
detection devices, to which each of these companies was 
invited to send a representative ; the board eventually 
took up its headquarters at New London, and was assisted 
in this work by some of the leading physicists of our 
universities. All through the summer and autumn of 1917 
these men kept industriously at their task ; to such good 
purpose did they labour that by October of that year 
several devices had been invented which seemed to pro- 
mise satisfactory results. In beginning their labours they 
had one great advantage : European scientists had already 
made considerable progress in this work, and the results 
of their studies were at once placed at our disposal by 
the Allied Admiralties. Moreover, these Admiralties sent 
over several of their experts to co-operate with us. About 
that time Captain Richard H. Leigh, U.S.N., who had 
been assigned to command the subchaser detachments 
abroad, was sent to Europe to confer with the Allied 
Admiralties, and to test, in actual operations against sub- 
marines, the detection devices which had been developed 
at the New London station. Captain Leigh, who after 
the armistice became my chief-of-staff at London, was 
not only one of our ablest officers, but he had long been 
interested in detection devices, and was a great believer 
in their possibilities. 

The British, of course, received Captain Leigh cordially 
and gave him the necessary facilities for experimenting 
with his devices, but it was quite apparent that they did 
not anticipate any very satisfactory results. The trouble 
was that so many inventors had presented new ideas which 
had proved useless that we were all more or less doubtful. 
They had been attempting to solve this problem ever 
since the beginning of the war ; British inventors had 
developed several promising hydrophones, but these instru- 
ments had not proved efficient in locating a submarine 
with sufficient accuracy to enable us to destroy it with 
depth charges. These disappointments quite naturally 
created an atmosphere of scepticism which, however, did 


not diminish the energy which was devoted to the solu- 
tion of this important problem. Accordingly, three British 
trawlers and a " P " 1 boat were assigned to Captain 
Leigh, and with these vessels he spent ten days in the 
Channel, testing impartially both the British and Ameri- 
can devices. No detailed tactics for groups of vessels had 
yet been elaborated for hunting by sound. Though the 
ships used were not particularly suitable for the work in 
hand, these few days at sea demonstrated that the American 
contrivances were superior to anything in the possession 
of the Allies. They were by no means perfect ; but the 
ease with which they picked up all kinds of noises, par- 
ticularly those made by submarines, astonished everybody 
who was let into the secret ; the conviction that such a 
method of tracking the hidden enemy might ultimately 
be used with the desired success now became more or less 
general. In particular the American " K- tubes " and the 
" C-tubes " proved superior to the " Nash-fish " and the 
" Shark-fin," the two devices which up to that time had 
been the favourites in the British navy. The " K-tubes " 
easily detected the sound of large vessels at a distance of 
twenty miles, while the " C-tubes " were more useful at a 
shorter distance. But the greatest advantage which 
these new listening machines had over those of other 
navies was that they could more efficiently determine not 
only the sound but also the direction from which it came. 
Captain Leigh, after this demonstration, visited several 
British naval stations, consulting with the British officers, 
explaining our sound-detection devices, and testing the 
new appliances in all kinds of conditions. The net result 
of his trip was a general reversal of opinion on the value 
of this method of hunting submarines. The British 
Admiralty ordered from the United States large quan- 
tities of the American mechanisms, and also began manu- 
facturing them in England. 

About the time that it was shown that these listening 
devices would probably have great practical value, the 
first " subchasers " were delivered at New London, Conn. 
The design of the subchaser type was based upon what 
proved to be a misconception as to the cruising possi- 

i ^ ic p Doa ^ j a a S p ec i a i type of anti-submarine craft smaller and 
slower than a destroyer and having a profile especially designed to resemble 
that of a submarine. 


bilities of the submarine. Just before the beginning of 
the Great War most naval officers believed that the limi- 
tations of the submarine were such that it could not 
operate far from coastal waters. Hardly any one, except 
a few experienced submarine officers, had regarded it as 
possible that these small boats could successfully attack 
vessels upon the high seas or remain for any extended 
period away from the.r base. High authorities condemned 
them. This is hard to realize, now that we know so well 
the offensive possibilities of submarines, but we have 
ample evidence as to what former opinions were. For 
example, a distinguished naval writer says that at that 
time " The view of the majority of admirals and captains 
probably was that submersible craft were ' just marvellous 
toys, good for circus performances in carefully selected 
places in fine weather.' ' He adds that certain very 
prominent naval men of great experience declared that 
the submarine " could operate only by day in fair weather ; 
that it was practically useless in misty weather " ; that it 
had to come to the surface to fire its torpedo ; that its 
" crowning defect lay in its want of habitability " ; that 
" a week's peace manoeuvres got to the bottom of the 
health of officers and men " ; and that " on the high seas 
the chances [of successful attack] will be few, and sub- 
marines will require for their existence parent ships." 
The first triumph of Otto Weddingen, that of sinking the 
Cressy, the Hogue, and the Aboukir, did not change this 
conviction, for these three warships had been sunk in 
comparatively restricted waters under conditions which 
were very favourable to the submarine. It was not until 
the Audacious went to the bottom off the north-west coast 
of Ireland, many hundreds of miles from any German 
submarine base, that the possibilities of this new weapon 
were partially understood ; for it was clear that the 
Audacious had been sunk by a mine, and that that mine 
must have been laid by a submarine. Even then many 
doubted the ability of the U-boats to operate successfully 
in the open sea westward of the British Isles. Therefore 
the subchaser was designed to fight the submarine in 
restricted waters ; Great Britain and France ordered 
more than 500 smaller (80-foot) vessels of this type, or of 
approximately this type, built in the United States ; and 
just before our declaration of war the United States had 


designed and contracted for several hundred of a some- 
what larger size (the 110-foot chasers) with the original 
idea of using them as patrol boats near the harbours and 
coastal waters of our own country. Long before these 
vessels were finished, however, it became apparent that 
Germany could not engage in any serious, extensive 
campaign on this side ; it was also evident that any vessel 
as small as the subchaser had little value in convoy work, 
notwithstanding the excellence of its sea-keeping qualities ; 
and we were all rather doubtful as to just what use we 
could make of these new additions to our navy. 

The work of pushing the design and construction of 
these boats reflects great credit upon those who were 
chiefly responsible. The designs were drawn and the first 
contracts were placed before the United States had declared 
war. The credit for this admirable work belongs chiefly 
to Commander Julius A. Furer (Construction Corps) U.S. 
Navy, and to Mr. A. Loring Swasey, a yacht architect of 
Boston, who was enrolled as a lieutenant-commander in 
the reserves, and who served throughout the war as an 
adviser and assistant to Commander Furer in his specialty 
as a small vessel designer, particularly in wood. It speaks 
well for the ability of these officers that the small sub- 
chasers exhibited such remarkable sea-keeping qualities ; 
this fact was a pleasant surprise to all seagoing men, par- 
ticularly to naval officers who had had little experience 
with that type of craft. The listening devices had not 
been perfected when they were designed, and this innova- 
tion opened up possibilities for their employment which 
had not been anticipated ; for these reasons it inevitably 
took a large amount of time, after the subchasers had 
been delivered, to provide the hydrophones and all tfce 
several appliances which were necessary for hunting sub- 
marines. Apparently those who were responsible for con- 
structing these boats had a rocky road to travel ; with 
the great demand for material and labour for building 
destroyers, merchant ships, and for a multitude of war 
supplies, it was natural that the demands for the sub- 
chasers in the early days were viewed as a nuisance ; the 
responsible officers, therefore, deserve credit for delivering 
these boats in such an efficient condition and in such a 
remarkably short time. That winter, as everyone will 
recall, was the coldest in the memory of the present 


generation. Day after day the poor subchasers, coated 
with ice almost a foot thick, many with their eng nes 
wrecked, their planking torn and their propellers crumpled, 
were towed into the harbour and left at the first convenient 
mooring, where the ice immediately began to freeze them 
in. As was inevitable under such conditions, the crews, 
for the most part, suffered acutely in this terrible weather ; 
they had had absolutely no training in ordinary seaman- 
ship, to say nothing of the detailed tactics demanded by 
the difficult work in which they were to engage. 

I do not think that the whole lot contained 1 per cent, 
of graduates of Annapolis or 5 per cent, of experienced 
sailors ; for the greater number that terrible trip in the 
icy ocean, with the thermometer several degrees below 
zero, and with very little artificial heat on board, was 
their first experience at sea. Yet there was not the 
slightest sign of whimpering or discouragement. Ignorant 
of salt water as these men at that time were, they really 
represented about the finest raw material in the nation 
for this service. Practically all, officers and men, were 
civilians ; a small minority were amateur yachtsmen, 
but the great mass were American college undergraduates. 
Boys of Yale, Harvard, Princeton indeed, of practically 
every college and university in the land had dropped 
their books, left the comforts of their fraternity houses, 
and abandoned their athletic fields, eager for the great 
adventure against the Hun. If there is any man who 
still doubts what the American system of higher education 
is doing for our country, he should have spent a few days 
at sea with these young men. That they knew nothing 
at first about navigation and naval technique was not 
important ; the really important fact was that their 
minds were alert, their hearts filled with a tremendous 
enthusiasm for the cause, their souls clean, and their 
bodies ready for the most exhausting tasks. Whenever 
I get to talking of the American college boys and other 
civilians in our navy, I find myself indulging in what may 
seem extravagant praise. I have even been inclined to 
suggest that it would be well, in the training of naval 
officers in future, to combine a college education with a 
shorter intensive technical course at the Naval Academy. 
For these college men have what technical academies do 
not usually succeed in giving a general education and a 

1917] OUR BOYS 177 

general training, which develops the power of initiative, 
independent thought, an ability quickly to grasp intricate 
situations, and to master, in a short time, almost any 
practical problem. At least this proved to be the case 
with our subchaser forces. So little experience did these 
boys have of seafaring that, as soon as they had com- 
pleted their first voyage, we had to place a considerable 
portion in hospital to recover from seasickness. Yet, a 
few months afterward, we could leave these same men on 
the bridge at night in command of the ship. When they 
reached New London they knew no more of seamanship 
and navigation than so many babies, but so well were 
these boys instructed and trained within a few weeks by 
the regular officers in charge that they learned their 
business sufficiently well to cross the Atlantic safely in 
convoy. The early 80-foot subchasers which we built 
for Great Britain and France crossed the ocean on the 
decks of ocean liners ; for it would have been a waste of 
time, even if international law had permitted it, to send 
them under their own power ; but all of the 110-footers 
which these young men commanded crossed the ocean 
under their own power and many in the face of the fierce 
January and February gales, almost constantly tossed 
upon the waves like pieces of cork. As soon as they were 
sufficiently trained and prepared to make the trip, groups 
were despatched under escort of a naval vessel fitted to 
supply them with gasolene at sea. Such matters as 
gunnery these young men also learned with lightning 
speed. The most valuable were those who had specialized 
in mathematics, chemistry, and general science ; but they 
were all a splendid lot, and to their spirit and energy are 
chiefly due their remarkable success in learning their 
various duties. 

" Those boys can't bring a ship across the ocean ! " 
someone remarked to Captain Gotten, who commanded 
the first squadron of subchasers to arrive at Plymouth, 
after he had related the story of one of these voyages. 

" Perhaps they can't," replied Captain Gotten himself 
an Annapolis man who admires these reservists as much 
as I do. " But they have." 

And he pointed to thirty-six little vessels lying at 
anchor in Plymouth Harbour, just about a hundred yards 
from the monument which marks the spot from which the 



Mayflower sailed for the new world all of which were 
navigated across by youngsters of whom almost none, 
officers or men, had had any nautical training until the 
day the United States declared war on Germany. 

Capable as they were, however, I am sure that these 
reservists would be the first to acknowledge their obliga- 
tions to the loyal and devoted regular officers of the Navy, 
who laboured so diligently to train them for their work. 
One of the minor tragedies of the war is that many of our 
Annapolis men, whose highest ambition it was to cross 
the ocean and engage in the " game," had to stay on 
this side, in order to instruct these young men from civil 

I wish that I had the space adequately to acknowledge 
the work in organization done by Captain John T. Tomp- 
kins ; in listening devices by Rear-Admiral S. S. Robison, 
Captains Frank H. Schofield, Joseph H. Defrees, Com- 
manders Clyde S. McDowell, and Miles A. Libbey, and 
the many scientists who gave us the benefit of their know- 
ledge and experience. It is impossible to overpraise the 
work of such men as Captains Arthur J. Hepburn, Lyman 
A. Cotten, and William P. Cronan, in " licking " the 
splendid raw material into shape. Great credit is also 
due to Rear-Admiral T. P. Magruder, Captains David F. 
Boyd, S. V. Graham, Arthur Crenshaw, E. P. Jessop, 
C. M. Tozer, H. G. Sparrow, and C. P. Nelson, and many 
others who had the actual responsibility of convoying these 
vessels across the ocean. 

I assume that they will receive full credit when the 
story of the work of the Navy at home is written ; mean- 
while, they may be assured of the appreciation of those 
of us on the other side who depended so much for success 
upon their thorough work of preparation. 


The sea qualities which the subchaser displayed, and 
the development of listening devices which made it possible 
to detect all kinds of sounds under water at a considerable 
distance, immediately laid before us the possibility of 
direct offensive operations against the submarine. It 


became apparent that these listening devices could be 
used to the greatest advantage on these little craft. The 
tactics which were soon developed for their use made it 
necessary that we should have a large number of vessels ; 
nearly all the destroyers were then engaged in convoy 
duty, and we could not entertain the idea of detailing 
many of them for this more or less experimental work. 
Happily the subchasers started coming off the ways just 
in time to fill the need ; and the several Allied navies 
began competing for these new craft in lively fashion. 
France demanded them in large numbers to work in co- 
operation with the air stations and also to patrol her 
coastal waters, and there were many requests from 
stations in England, Ireland, Gibraltar, Portugal, and 
Italy. The question of where we should place them 
was therefore referred to the Allied Naval War Council, 
which, at my suggestion, considered the matter, not from 
the standpoint of the individual nation, but from the 
standpoint of the Allied cause as a whole. 

A general survey clearly showed that there were three 
places where the subchasers might render the most efficient 
service. The convoy system had by this time not only 
greatly reduced the losses, but it was changing the policy 
of the submarines. Until this system was adopted, 
sinkings on a great scale were taking place far out at sea, 
sometimes three or four hundred miles west of Ireland. 
The submarines had adopted the policy of meeting the 
unescorted ships in the Atlantic and of torpedoing them 
long before they could reach the zones where the destroyer 
patrol might possibly have protected them. But sailing 
great groups of merchantmen in convoys, surrounded by 
destroyers, made this an unprofitable adventure, and the 
submarines therefore had to change their programme. 
The important point is that the convoys, so long as they 
could keep formation, and so long as protecting screens 
could be maintained on their flanks, were virtually safe. 
Under these conditions sinkings, as already said, were 
less than one-half of 1 per cent. These convoys, it will be 
recalled, came home by way of two " trunk lines," a 
southern one extending through the English Channel and 
a northern one through the so-called " North Channel " 
the latter being the passage between Ireland and Scotland. 
As soon as the inward-bound southern " trunk-line " 


convoys reached the English Channel they broke up, 
certain ships going to Plymouth, Portsmouth, Southamp- 
ton, and other Channel ports, and others sailing to Brest, 
Cherbourg, Havre, and other harbours in France. In the 
same fashion, convoys which came in by way of the North 
Channel split up as soon as they reached the Irish Sea. 
In other words, the convoys, as convoys, necessarily ceased 
to exist the moment that they entered these inland waters, 
and the ships, as individual ships, or small groups of ships, 
had to find their way to their destinations unescorted by 
destroyers, or escorted most inadequately. This was the 
one weak spot in the convoy system, and the Germans 
were not slow r to turn it to their advantage. They now 
proceeded to withdraw most of their submarines from the 
high seas and to concentrate them in these restricted waters. 
In April, 1917, the month which marked the high tide of 
German success, not far from a hundred merchant ships 
were sunk in an area that extended about 300 miles west 
of Ireland and about 300 miles south. A year afterward 
in the month of April, 1918 not a single ship was sent 
to the bottom in this same section of the sea. That change 
measures the extent to which the convoy saved Allied 
shipping. But if we examine the situation in inclosed 
waters the North Channel, the Irish Sea, St. George's 
Channel, and the English Channel we shall find a less 
favourable state of affairs. Practically all the sinkings 
of April, 1918, occurred in these latter areas. In April, 

1917, the waters which lay between Ireland and England 
were practically free from depredations ; in the spring of 

1918, however, these waters had become a favourite hunt- 
ing ground for submarines ; while in the English Channel 
the sinkings were almost as numerous in April, 1918, as 
they had been in the same month the year before. 

Thus we had to deal with an entirely new phase of the 
submarine campaign ; the new conditions made it practi- 
cable to employ light vessels which existed in large 
numbers, and which could aggressively hunt out the sub- 
marines even though they were sailing submerged. The 
subchaser, when fitted with its listening devices, met these 
new requirements, though of course not to the desirable 
degree of precision we hoped soon to attain with still 
further improved hydrophones and larger vessels of the 
Eagle class then being built. 


The matter was presented to the Allied Naval Council 
and, in accordance with the unanimous opinion of all of 
the members, they recommended that of the subchasers 
then available, a squadron should be based on Plymouth, 
where it could be advantageously used against the German 
submarines which were still doing great damage in the 
English Channel, and that another squadron, based on 
Queenstown, should similarly be used against the sub- 
marines in the Irish Sea. 

I was therefore requested to concentrate the boats at 
these tw r o points, and at once acquiesced in this recom- 

But another point, w r idely separated from British waters, 
also made a powerful plea for consideration. In the Medi- 
terranean the submarine campaign was still a menace. 
The spring and early summer of 1918 witnessed large 
losses of shipping destined to southern France, to Italy, 
and to the armies at Salonika and in Palestine. Austrian 
and German submarines, operating from their bases at 
Pola and Cattaro in the Adriatic, were responsible for this 
destruction. If we could pen these pests in the Adriatic, 
the whole Mediterranean Sea would become an unob- 
structed highway for the Allies. A glance at the map 
indicated the way in which such a desirable result might 
be accomplished. At its southern extremity the Adriatic 
narrows to a passage only forty miles wide the Strait of 
Otranto and through this restricted area all the sub- 
marines were obliged to pass before they could reach the 
water where they could prey upon Allied commerce. 
For some time before the Allied Naval Council began to 
consider the use of the American subchasers, the British 
navy w r as doing its best to keep submarines from passing 
this point. A defensive scheme known, not very accur- 
ately, as the " Otranto barrage " was in operation. The 
word " barrage " suggests an effective barrier, but this 
one at the base of the Adriatic consisted merely of a few 
British destroyers of ancient type and a large number of 
drifters, which kept up a continuous patrolling of the 
gateway through which the submarines made their way 
into the Mediterranean. It is no reflection upon the 
British to say that this barrage was unsatisfactory and 
inadequate, and that, for the first few months, it formed 
a not particularly formidable obstruction. So many 


demands were made upon the British navy in northern 
waters that it could not spare many vessels for this work ; 
the Italian navy was holding the majority of its destroyers 
intact, momentarily prepared for a sortie by the Austrian 
battle fleet ; the Otranto barrage, therefore, important as 
it was to the Allied cause, was necessarily insufficient. The 
Italian representatives at the Allied Council made a strong 
plea for a contingent of American subchasers to reinforce 
the British ships, and the British and French delegates 
seconded this request. 

In the spring of 1918 I therefore sent Captain Leigh to 
southern Italy to locate and construct a subchaser base 
in this neighbourhood. After inspecting the territory in 
detail Captain Leigh decided that the Bay of Govino, in 
the island of Corfu, would best meet our requirements. 
The immediate connection which was thus established 
between New London and this ancient city of classical 
Greece fairly illustrates how widely the Great War had 
extended the horizon of the American people. There was 
a certain appropriateness in the fact that the American 
college boys who commanded these little ships not much 
larger than the vessel in which Ulysses had sailed these 
same waters three thousand years before should have 
made their base on the same island which had served as 
a naval station for Athens in the Peloponnesian War, 
and which, several centuries afterward, had been used 
for the same purpose by Augustus in the struggle with 
Antony. And probably the sight of the Achelleion, the 
Kaiser's palace, which was not far from this new American 
base, was not without its influence in constantly reminding 
our young men of the meaning of this unexpected associa- 
tion of Yankee-land with the ancient world. 


By June 30, 1918, two squadrons of American chasers, 
comprising thirty-six boats, had assembled at Plymouth, 
England, under the command of Captain Lyman A. 
Gotten, U.S.N. The U.S. destroyer Parker, commanded 
by Commander Wilson Brown, had been assigned to this 
detachment as a supporting ship. The area which now 
formed the new field of operations was one which was 


causing great anxiety at that time. It comprehended 
that section of the Channel which reached from Start 
Point to Lizard Head, and included such important ship- 
ping ports as Plymouth, Devonport, and Falmouth. This 
was the region in which the convoys, after having been 
escorted through the submarine zone, were broken up, 
and from which the individual ships were obliged to find 
their way to their destinations with greatly diminished 
protection. It was one of the most important sections in 
which the Germans, forced to abandon their submarine 
campaign on the high seas, were now actively concentrat- 
ing their efforts. Until the arrival of the subchasers 
sinkings had been taking place in these waters on a con- 
siderable scale. In company with a number of British 
hunting units, Captain Cotten's detachment kept steadily 
at work from June 30th until the middle of August, when 
it became necessary to send it elsewhere. The historical 
fact is that not a single merchant ship was sunk between 
Lizard Head and Start Point as long as these subchasers 
were assisting in the operations. The one sinking which 
at first seemed to have broken this splendid record was 
that of the Stockforce ; this merchantman was destroyed 
off Dartmouth ; but it was presently announced that the 
Stockforce was in reality a " mystery" ship, sent out for 
the express purpose of being torpedoed, and that she 
" got " the submarine which had ended her own career. 
This happening therefore hardly detracted from our 
general satisfaction over the work done by our little 
vessels. Since many ships had been sunk in this area 
in the month before they arrived, and since the sinkings 
started in again after they had left, the immunity which 
this region enjoyed during July and August may properly 
be attributed largely to the American navy. Not only 
were no bona-fide merchant ships destroyed, but no mines 
were laid from Start Point to Lizard Head during the time 
that the American forces maintained their vigil there. 
That this again was probably not a mere coincidence was 
shown by the fact that, the very night after these chasers 
were withdrawn from Plymouth, five mines were laid in 
front of that harbour, in preparation for a large convoy 
scheduled to sail the next day. 

By the time that Captain Cotten's squadron began 
work the hunting tactics which had been developed during 


their training at New London had been considerably im- 
proved. Their procedure represented something entirely 
new in naval warfare. Since the chasers had to depend 
for the detection of the foe upon an agency so uncertain 
as the human ear, it was thought to be necessary, as a 
safeguard against error, and also to increase the chances 
of successful attack, that they should hunt in groups of 
at least three. The fight against the submarine, under 
this new system, was divided into three parts the search, 
the pursuit, and the attack. The first chapter included 
those weary hours which the little group spent drifting on 
the ocean, the lookout in the crow's nest scanning the 
surface for the possible glimpse of a periscope, while the 
trained listeners on deck, with strange little instruments 
which somewhat resembled telephone receivers glued to their 
ears, were kept constantly at tension for any noise which 
might manifest itself under water. It was impossible to 
use these listening devices while the boats were under way, 
for the sound of their own propellers and machinery would 
drown out any other disturbances. The three little vessels 
therefore drifted abreast at a distance of a mile or two 
apart their propellers hardly moving, and the decks as 
silent as the grave ; they formed a new kind of fishing 
expedition, the officers and crews constantly held taut by 
the expectation of a " bite." And frequently their 
experience was that of the proverbial " fisherman's luck." 
Hours passed sometimes without even the encouragement 
of a " nibble " ; then, suddenly, one of the listeners would 
hear something which his experienced ear had learned to 
identify as the propellers and motors of a submarine. The 
great advantage possessed by the American tubes, as 
already said, was that they gave not only the sound, but 
its direction. The listener would inform his commanding 
officer that he had picked up a submarine. " Very faint," 
he would perhaps report, " direction 97 " the latter being 
the angle which it made with the north and south line. 
Another appliance which now rendered great service was 
the wireless telephone. The commanding officer at once 
began talking with the other two boats, asking if they had 
picked up the noise. Unless all three vessels had heard 
the disturbance, nothing was done ; but if all identified it 
nearly simultaneously, this unanimity was taken as evi- 
dence that something was really moving in the water. 




When all three vessels obtained the direction as well as 
the sound it was a comparatively simple matter to define 
pretty accurately its location. The middle chaser of the 
three was the flagship and her most interesting feature 
was the so-called plotting-room. Here one officer received 
constant telephone reports from all three boats, giving the 
nature of the sounds, and, more important still, their 
directions. He transferred these records to a chart as 
soon as they came in, rapidly made calculations, and in a 
few seconds he was able to give the location of the sub- 
marine. This process was known as obtaining a " fix." 
The reports of our chaser commanders are filled constantly 
with reference to these "fixes" the "fix" being that 
point on the surface of the ocean where three lines, each 
giving the direction of the detected sound, cross one 
another. The method can be most satisfactorily illus- 
trated by the following diagram : 


In this demonstration the letters A, B, and C, each 
represent a subchaser, the central one, B, being the flag- 
ship of the division. The listener on A has picked up a 
noise, the direction of which is indicated by the line a a. 
He telephones by wireless this information to the plotting- 
room aboard the flagship B. The listeners on this vessel 


have picked up the same sound, which comes from the 
direction indicated by the line b b. The point at which 
these two lines cross is the " fix " ; it shows the spot in 
the ocean where the submarine was stationed when the 
sound was first detected. The reason for having a report 
from the third subchaser C is merely for the purpose of 
corroborating the work of the other two ; if three observa- 
tions, made independently, agree in locating the enemy 
at this point, the commanding officer may safely assume 
that he is not chasing a will o' the wisp. 

But this " fix " is merely the location of the submarine 
at the time when it was first heard. In the great majority 
of cases, however, the submerged vessel is moving ; so, 
rapidly as the men in the plotting-room may work, the 
German has advanced beyond this point by the time they 
have finished their calculations. The subchasers, which 
have been drifting while these observations were being 
made, now start their engines at full speed, and rush up 
to the neighbourhood of their first " fix." Arrived there, 
they stop again, put over their tubes, and begin listening 
once more. The chances are now that the noise of the 
submarine is louder ; the chasers are getting " warmer." 
It is not unlikely, however, that the direction has changed, 
for the submarine, which has listening devices of its own 
though the German hydrophones were decidedly inferior 
to the American may have heard the subchasers and 
may be making frantic efforts to elude them. But chang- 
ing the course will help it little, for the listeners easily get 
the new direction, and send the details to the plotting- 
room, where the new " fix " is obtained in a few moments. 
Thus the subchasers keep inching up to their prey ; at 
each new " fix " the noise becomes louder, until the 
hunters are so near that they feel justified in attacking. 
Putting on full speed, all three rush up to the latest " fix," 
drop depth charges with a lavish hand, fire the " Y ' 
howitzers, each one of which carries two depth charges, 
meanwhile manning their guns on the chance that the 
submarine may decide to rise to the surface and give battle. 
In many of these hunts a destroyer accompanies the sub- 
chasers, always keeping at a considerable distance, so that 
the noise of its propellers will not interfere with the game ; 
once the chasers determine the accurate " fix," they wire 
the position to this larger ship, which puts on full steam 


and dashes with the speed of an express train to the indi- 
cated spot, and adds ten or a dozen depth charges to 
those deposited by the chasers. 

Such were the subchaser tactics in their perfection ; yet it 
was only after much experience that the procedure began to 
work with clock-like regularity. At first the new world 
under the water proved confusing to the listeners at the 
tubes. This watery domain was something entirely new in 
human experience. When Dr. Alexander Bell invented his 
first telephone an attempt was made to establish a com- 
plete circuit by using the earth itself ; the result was that a 
conglomerate of noises meanings, shriekings, howlings, 
and humming sounds came over the wire, which seemed 
to have become the playground of a million devils. These 
were the noises, hitherto unknown, which are constantly 
being given out by Mother Earth herself. And now it was 
discovered that the under-ocean, which we usually think of 
as a silent place, is in reality extremely vocal. The listeners 
at the C- and K-tubes heard many sounds in addition to 
the ones which they were seeking. On the K-tubes a 
submarine running at full speed was audible from fifteen to 
twenty miles, but louder noises could be heard much farther 
away. The day might be bright, the water quiet, and there 
might not be a ship anywhere within the circle of the 
horizon, but suddenly the listener at the tube would hear a 
terrific explosion, and he would know that a torpedo, per- 
haps forty or fifty miles distant, had blown up a merchant- 
man, or that some merchantman had struck a mine. Again 
he would catch the unmistakable " chug ! chug ! chug ! " 
which he learned to identify as indicating the industrious 
and slow progress of a convoy of twenty or thirty ships. 
Then a rapid humming noise would come along the wire ; 
that was the whirling propeller of a destroyer. A faint 
moan caused some bewilderment at first ; but it was 
ultimately learned that this came from a wreck, lying at 
the bottom, and tossed from side to side by the current ; it 
sounded like the sigh of a ghost, and the frequency with 
which it was heard told how densely the floor of the ocean 
was covered with victims of the submarines. The larger 
animal life of the sea also registered itself upon the tubes. 
Our listeners, after a little training, could identify a whale 
as soon as the peculiar noise it made in swimming reached 
the receivers. At first a school of porpoises increased their 


perplexities. The " swish ! swish ! " which marked their 
progress so closely resembled the noise of a submarine that 
it used to lead our men astray. But practice in this game 
was everything ; after a few trips the listener easily dis- 
tinguished between the porpoise and the submarine, though 
the distinction was so fine that he had difficulty in telling 
just how he made it. In fact, our men became so expert 
that, out of the miscellaneous noises which overwhelmed 
their ears whenever the tubes were dropped into the water, 
they were able almost invariably to select that of the 

In many ingenious ways the chasers supplemented the 
work of other anti-submarine craft. Destroyers and other 
patrol boats kept track of the foe pretty well so long as he 
remained on the surface ; the business of the chaser, we 
must remember, was to find him after he had submerged. 
The Commander-in-Chief on shore sometimes sent a radio 
that a German had appeared at an indicated spot, and 
disappeared beneath the waves ; the chasers would then 
start for this location and begin hunting with their listeners. 
Aircraft which sighted submarines would send similar 
messages ; convoys that had been attacked, individual 
ships that had been torpedoed, destroyers which had spotted 
their prey, only to lose track of it as soon as it submerged, 
would call upon the chasers to take up the battle where 
they had abandoned it. 

As long as the chasers operated in the waters which I 
have indicated, those between Start Point and Lizard Head, 
they " got " no submarine ; the explanation was simple, 
for as soon as the chasers and British hunting vessels 
became active here, the Germans abandoned this field of 
operations. This was the reason that the operative area 
of the Plymouth detachment was extended. Some of the 
chasers were now sent around Land's End and up the north 
Cornish coast, where colliers bound from Wales to France 
were proving tempting bait for the U-boats ; others 
operated farther out to sea, off the Scilly Islands and west 
of Brest. In these regions their contacts with the sub- 
marine were quite frequent. 

There was no U-boat in the German navy which the 
Allied forces were so ambitious to " get " as the 7-53. I 
have already referred to this celebrated vessel and its still 
more celebrated commander, Captain Hans Rose. It was 

1918] THE SEARCH FOR U-53 189 

this submarine, it will be recalled, which had suddenly paid 
a ceremonious visit to Newport, R.I., in the autumn of 1916, 
and which, on its way back to Germany, had paused long 
enough off Nantucket to sink half a dozen British cargo 
ships. It was the same submarine which sank our own 
destroyer, the Jacob Jones, by a chance shot with a torpedo. 
Thus Americans had a peculiar reason for wishing to see it 
driven from the seas. About the middle of August, 1918, 
we discovered that the E7-53 was operating in the Atlantic 
about 250 miles west of Brest. At the same time we learned 
that two German submarines were coming down the west 
coast of Ireland. We picked up radio messages which these 
three boats were exchanging ; this made it quite likely that 
they proposed to form a junction west of Brest, and attack 
American transports, which were then sailing to France in 
great numbers. Here was an opportunity for the sub- 
chasers. The distance 250 miles to sea would be a 
severe strain upon their endurance, but we assigned four 
hunting units, twelve boats in all, to the task, and also 
added to this contingent the destroyers Wilkes and Parker. 
On the morning of September 2nd one of these subchaser 
units picked up a suspicious sound. A little later the look- 
out on the Parker detected on the surface an object that 
looked like a conning-tower, with an upright just forward 
which seemed to be a mast and sail ; as it was the favourite 
trick of the U-53 to disguise itself in this way, it seemed 
certain that the chasers were now on the track of this 
esteemed vessel. When this mast and sail and conning- 
tower suddenly disappeared under the water, these sus- 
picions became still stronger. The Parker put on full speed, 
found an oilslick where the submarine had evidently been 
pumping its bilges, and dropped a barrage of sixteen 
depth charges. But had these injured the submarine ? 
Under ordinary conditions there would have been no satis- 
factory answer to this question ; but now three little wooden 
boats came up, advanced about 2,000 yards ahead of the 
Parker, stopped their engines, put over their tubes, and 
began to listen. In a few minutes they conveyed the dis- 
appointing news to the Parker that the depth charges had 
gone rather wild, that the submarine was still steaming 
ahead, and that they had obtained a " fix " of its position. 
But the C/-53, as always, was exceedingly crafty. It knew 
that the chasers were on the trail ; its propellers were 


revolving so slowly that almost no noise was made ; the 
U-boat was stealthily trying to throw its pursuers off the 
scent. For two and a half hours the chasers kept up the 
hunt, now losing the faint noise of the U-53, now again 
picking it up, now turning in one direction, then abruptly 
in another. Late in the afternoon, however, they obtained 
a " fix," which disclosed the welcome fact that the sub- 
marine was only about 300 yards north of them. In a few 
minutes four depth charges landed on this spot. 

When the waters had quieted the little craft began listen- 
ing. But nothing was heard. For several days afterward 
the radio operators could hear German submarines calling 
across the void to the U-58, but there was no answer to their 
call. Naturally, we believed that this long-sought enemy 
had been destroyed ; about a week later, however, our 
radios caught a message off the extreme northern coast of 
Scotland, from the U-58, telling its friends in Germany that 
it was on its way home. That this vessel had been seriously 
damaged was evident, for it had made no attacks after its 
experience with the subchasers ; but it apparently had as 
many lives as a cat, for it was able, in its battered condition, 
to creep back to Germany around the coast of Scotland, a 
voyage of more than a thousand miles. The subchasers, 
however, at least had the satisfaction of having ended the 
active career of this boat. It was damaged two months 
before the armistice was signed, but it never recovered 
sufficiently from its injuries to make another voyage. Yet 
I must do justice to Captain Rose he did not command 
the U-58 on this last voyage. It was its only trip 
during the whole course of the war when he had not 
commanded it ! 

The story of the C7-53 ends with a touch which is char- 
acteristically German. It was one of the submarines which 
were surrendered to the Allies at the signing of the armistice. 
Its first visitors, on this occasion, were the Americans ; they 
were eager to read its log-book, and to find out just what 
had happened on this final voyage. The book was on 
board, and it contained a record of the U-58's voyages from 
the day when it was commissioned up to the day when it 
was surrendered. Two or three pages only were missing ; 
the Germans had ripped out that part which described the 
encounter with the American subchasers ! They were 
evidently determined that we should never have the satisfac- 


tion of knowing to just what extent we had damaged the 
boat ; this was the only revenge they could take on us. 


On the morning of September 6th three subchaser units, 
under the command of Ensign Ashley D. Adams, 
U.S.N.R.F., were listening at a point about 150 miles west 
of Land's End. At about eleven-thirty two of these units 
detected what was unquestionably the sound of a sub- 
marine. Moreover, the usual " fixes " disclosed that the 
enemy was close at hand ; so close that two of the units ran 
up and dropped their charges. This first attack produced 
no result on the submarine ; the depth charge from one of 
the howitzers, however, unfortunately landed near one of 
the chasers, and, though it injured no one, it put that 
particular unit out of commission. However, for two hours 
Ensign Adams's division kept closely on the heels of the 
quarry, now stopping to obtain a " fix," now running full 
speed to catch up with the fleeing prey. At one o'clock 
the plotting-room reported that the submerged boat was 
just about a hundred yards ahead. The three chasers laid 
barrages according to pattern, and the three " Y " guns 
shot their depth charges ; the region of the " fix " was so 
generously sowed with these bombs that it seemed an im- 
possibility that the German could have escaped. 

As soon as the tumult quieted down, the chasers put out 
their tubes and listened. For twenty minutes not a sound 
issued from the scene of all this activity. Then a propeller 
was heard faintly turning or attempting to turn. The 
noise this time was not the kind which indicated an effort 
to steal away furtively ; it conveyed rather the impression 
of difficulty and strain. There was a slight grating and 
squeaking such as might have been made by damaged 
machinery. This noise lasted for a few seconds and then 
ceased. Presently it started up again and then once more 
it stopped. The submarine was making a little progress, 
but fitfully ; she would go a few yards and then pause. A 
slight wake now appeared upon the surface, such as a 
submerged U-boat usually left when the water was calm ; 
the listeners at the tube were pleased to note that the loca- 
tion of this disturbance coincided precisely with their " k fix," 


and thus, in a way, confirmed their calculations. One of 
the subchasers promptly ran ahead and began to drop depth 
charges on this wake. There was not the slightest doubt 
that the surface boat was now directly on top of the sub- 
marine. After one of the depth charges was dropped, a 
black cylindrical object, about thirty inches long, suddenly 
rose from the depths and jumped sixty feet into the air ; 
just what this unexpected visitant was no one seems to 
know, but that it came from the hunted submarine was 

Under such distressing conditions the U-boat had only a 
single chance of saving itself ; when the water was suffici- 
ently shallow not deeper than three hundred feet it 
could safely sink to the bottom and " play dead," hoping 
that the chasers, with their accursed listening devices, 
would tire of the vigil and return to port. A submarine, if 
in very good condition, could remain silently on the bottom 
for two or three days. The listeners on the chaser tubes 
presently heard sounds which suggested that their enemy 
was perhaps resorting to this manoeuvre. But there were 
other noises which indicated that possibly this sinking to the 
bottom was not voluntary. The listeners clearly heard a 
scraping and a straining as though the boat was making 
terrific attempts to rise. There was a lumbering noise, 
such as might be made by a heavy object trying to drag 
its hulk along the muddy bottom ; this was followed by 
silence, showing that the wounded vessel could advance 
only a few yards. A terrible tragedy was clearly beginning 
down there in the slime of the ocean floor ; a boat, with 
twenty-five or thirty human beings on board, was hope- 
lessly caught, with nothing in sight except the most linger- 
ing death. The listeners on the chasers could follow events 
almost as clearly as though the inside of the U-boat could 
be seen ; for every motion the vessel made, every effort 
that the crew put forth to rescue itself from this living hell, 
was registered on the delicate wires which reached the ears 
of the men on the surface. 

Suddenly sharp metallic sounds came up on the wires. 
They were clearly made by hammers beating on the steel 
body of the U-boat. 

" They are trying to make repairs," the listeners re- 

If our subchasers had had any more depth charges, 


they would have promptly put: these wretches out of their 
misery, but they had expended all their ammunition. 
Darkness was now closing in ; our men saw that their 
vigil was to be a long one ; they sent two chasers to Pen- 
zance, to get a new supply of bombs, and also sent a radio 
call for a destroyer. The spot where the submarine had 
bottomed was marked by a buoy ; lanterns were hung 
out on this buoy ; and two units of chasers, six boats in 
all, prepared to stand guard. At any moment, of course, 
the struggling U-boat might come to the surface, and it 
was necessary to have forces near by to fight or to accept 
surrender. All night long the chasers stood by ; now 
and then the listeners reported scraping and straining 
noises from below, but these grew fainter and fainter, 
seeming almost to register the despair which must be 
seizing the hearts of the imprisoned Germans. 

At three o'clock in the morning a British destroyer 
arrived and presently the two chasers returned from 
Penzance with more ammunition. Meanwhile, the weather 
had thickened, a fog had fallen, the lights on the buoy 
had gone out, and the buoy itself had been pulled under 
by the tide. The watching subchasers were tossed about 
by the weather, and lost t,he precise bearing of the sunken 
submarine. When daylight returned and the weather 
calmed down the chasers again put over their tubes and 
attempted to " fix " the U-boat. They listened for hours 
without hearing a sound ; but about five o'clock in the 
afternoon a sharp piercing noise came ringing over the 
wires. It was a sound that made the listeners' blood run 

Only one thing in the world could make a sound like 
that. It was the crack of a revolver. The first report 
had hardly stilled when another shot was heard ; and 
then there were more in rapid succession. The listeners 
on two different chasers heard these pistol cracks and 
counted them ; the reports which these two men inde- 
pendently made agreed in every detail. In all, twenty- 
five shots came from the bottom of the sea. As there were 
from twenty-five to thirty men in a submarine crew the 
meaning was all too evident. The larger part of officers 
and men, finding themselves shut tightly in their coffin 
of steel, had resorted to that escape which was not un- 
commonly availed of by German submarine crews in 



this hideous war. Nearly all of them had committed 

Meanwhile, our subchaser detachment at Corfu was 
performing excellent service. In these southern waters 
Captain C. P. Nelson commanded two squadrons, com- 
prising thirty-six vessels. Indeed, the American navy 
possessed few officers more energetic, more efficient, more 
lovable, or more personally engaging than Captain Nelson. 
The mere fact that he was known among his brother 
officers as " Juggy Nelson " gives some notion of the 
affection which his personality inspired. This nickname 
did not indicate, as might at first be suspected, that 
Captain Nelson possessed qualities which flew in the face 
of the prohibitory regulations of our navy : it was in- 
tended, I think, as a description of the physical man. 
For Captain Nelson's rotund figure, jocund countenance, 
and always buoyant spirits were priceless assets to our 
naval forces at Corfu. Living conditions there were not 
of the best ; disease was rampant among the Serbians, 
Greeks, and Albanians who made up the civil population ; 
there were few opportunities for entertainment or relaxa- 
tion ; it was, therefore, a happy chance that the com- 
mander was a man whose very presence radiated an 
atmosphere of geniality and enthusiasm. His conversa- 
tional powers for many years had made him a man of 
mark ; his story-telling abilities had long delighted naval 
officers and statesmen at Washington ; no other selection 
for commander could have been made that would have 
met with more whole-hearted approval from the college 
boys and other high-type civilians who so largely made 
up our forces in these flotillas. At Corfu, indeed, Captain 
Nelson quickly became a popular favourite ; his mind was 
always actively forming plans for the discomfiture of the 
German and Austrian submarines ; and all our Allies were 
as much impressed with his energy as were our own men. 
For Captain Nelson was more than a humorist and enter- 
tainer : he was pre-eminently a sailor of the saltest 
type, and he had a real barbaric joy in a fight. Even in 
his official communications to his officers and men he 


invariably referred to the enemy as the " Hun " ; the 
slogan on which he insisted as the guiding principle of his 
flotilla was " get the Hun before he has a chance to get 
us." He had the supreme gift of firing his subordinates 
with the same spirit that possessed himself ; and the 
vigilance, the constant activity, and the courage of the 
subchasers' crews admirably supplemented the sailor-like 
qualities of the man who commanded them. 

I have already referred to the sea-going abilities of the 
subchasers ; but the feat accomplished by those that made 
the trip to Corfu was the most admirable of all. These 
thirty-six boats, little more than motor launches in size, 
sailed from New London to Greece a distance of 6,000 
miles ; and, a day or two after their arrival, they began 
work on the Otranto barrage. Of course they could not 
have made this trip without the assistance of vessels to 
supply them with gasolene, make the necessary routine 
repairs, care for the sick and those suffering from the 
inevitable minor accidents ; and it is greatly to the credit 
of the naval officers who commanded the escorting vessels 
that they shepherded these flotillas across the ocean with 
practically no losses. On their way through the Straits 
of Gibraltar they made an attack on a submarine which 
so impressed Admiral Niblack that he immediately wired 
London headquarters for a squadron to be permanently 
based on that port. 

As already said, the Otranto Strait was an ideal location 
for this type of anti -submarine craft. It was so narrow 
about forty miles that a force of moderate size could 
keep practically all of the critical zone under fairly close 
observation. Above all, the water was so deep nearly 
600 fathoms (3,600 feet) that a submarine, once picked 
up by the listening devices, could not escape by the method 
which was so popular in places where the water was 
shallow that of sinking to the bottom and resting there 
until the excitement was over. On the other hand, this 
great depth made it very difficult to obstruct the passage 
by a fixed barrier a difficulty that was being rapidly over- 
come by a certain Franco-Italian type of torpedo net. 
This barrage, after the arrival of our chasers, was so 
reorganized as to make the best use of their tactical and 
listening qualities. The several lines of patrolling vessels 
extended about thirty-five miles ; there were vessels of 


several types, the whole making a formidable gauntlet, 
which the submarines had to run before they could get 
from the Adriatic to the Mediterranean. First came a 
line of British destroyers ; it was their main duty to act 
as protectors and to keep the barrage from being raided 
by German and Austrian surface ships a function which 
they fulfilled splendidly. Next came a line of trawlers, 
then drifters, motor launches, and chasers, the whole being 
completed by a line of kite balloon sloops. Practically 
all these vessels, British as well as American, were pro- 
vided with the American devices ; and so well did these 
ingenious mechanisms function that it was practically 
impossible for any submarine to pass through the Otranto 
barrage in calm weather without being heard. In fact, 
it became the regular custom for the enemy to wait for 
stormy weather before attempting to slip through this 
dangerous area, and even under these conditions he had 
great difficulty in avoiding detection. 

From July, 1918, until the day of the armistice, our 
flotilla at this point kept constantly at work ; and the 
reports of our commanders show that their sound contacts 
with the enemy were very frequent. There were battles 
that unquestionably ended in the destruction of the sub- 
marines ; just how much we had accomplished, however, 
we did not know until the Austrians surrendered and our 
officers, at Cattaro and other places, came into touch with 
officers of the Austrian navy. These men, who showed 
the most friendly disposition toward their American 
enemies, though they displayed the most bitter hostility 
toward the r German allies, expressed their admiration 
for the work of our subchasers. These little boats, the 
Austrians now informed us, were responsible for a mutiny 
in the Austrian submarine force. Two weeks after their 
arrival it was impossible to compel an Austrian crew to 
take a vessel through the straits, and from that time until 
the ending of the war not a single Austrian submarine 
ventured upon such a voyage. All the submarines that 
essayed the experiment after this Austrian mutiny were 
German. And the German crews, the Austrian officers 
said, did not enjoy the experience any more than their 
own. There was practically no case in which a submarine 
crossed the barrage without being bombed in consequence ; 
the moral of the German crews steadily went to pieces, 


until, in the last month of the war, their officers were 
obliged to force them -into the submarines at the point of 
a pistol. The records showed, the Austrian high officers 
said, that the Germans had lost six submarines on the 
Otranto barrage in the last three months of the war. 
These figures about correspond with the estimates which 
we had made ; just how many of these the British sank 
and just how many are to be attributed to our own forces 
will probably never be known, but the fact that American 
devices were attached to all the Allied ships on this duty 
should be considered in properly distributing the credit. 

We have evidence conclusive even though somewhat 
ludicrous that the American device on a British destroyer 
" got " one of these submarines. One dark night this 
vessel, equipped with the C-tube, had pursued a submarine 
and bombed it with what seemed to have been satisfactory 
results. However, I have several times called attention 
to one of the most discouraging aspects of anti-submarine 
warfare : that only in exceptional circumstances did we 
know whether the submarine had been destroyed. This 
destroyer was now diligently searching the area of the battle, 
the listeners straining every nerve for traces of her foe. 
For a time everything was utterly silent ; then, suddenly, 
the listener picked up a disturbance of an unusual kind. 
The noise rapidly became louder, but it was still something 
very different from any noise ever heard before. The 
C-tube consisted of a lead pipe practically the same as a 
water pipe which was dropped over the side of the ship 
fifteen or twenty feet into the sea ; this pipe contained 
the wires which, at one end, were attached to the devices 
under the water, and which, at the other end, reached the 
listener's ears. In a few seconds this tube showed signs 
of lively agitation. It trembled violently and made a 
constantly increasing hullabaloo in the ears of the listener. 
Finally a huge German, dripping with water like a sea lion, 
appeared over the side of the destroyer and astounded our 
British Allies by throwing up his arms with " Kamerad ! " 
This visitant from the depths was the only survivor of 
the submarine which it now appeared had indubitably 
been sunk. He had been blown through the conning 
tower, or had miraculously escaped in some other way 
he did not himself know just what had taken place and 
while floundering around in the water in the inky dark- 


ness had, by one of those providences which happen so 
frequently in war time, caught hold of this tube, and 
proceeded to pull himself up hand-over-hand until he 
reached the deck. Had it not been for his escape, the 
British would never have known that they had sunk the 
submarine ! 

This survivor, after shaking off the water, sat down and 
became very sociable. He did not seem particularly to 
dislike the British and Americans, but he was extremely 
bitter against the Italians and Austrians the first for 
" deserting " the Germans, the latter for proving bad 

" How do you get on with the Italians ? " he asked the 
British officer. 

" Very well indeed," the latter replied, giving a very 
flattering account of the Italian allies. 

" I guess the Italians are about as useful to you as the 
Austrians are to us," the German sea lion replied. 

In writing to our officers about this episode, the British 
commander said : 

" We have found a new use for your listening devices 
salvaging drowning Huns." 


On September 28, 1918, Captain Nelson received the 
following communication from the commander of the 
Allied naval forces at Brindisi, Commodore W. A. H. 
Kelly, R.N. : 

" Can you hold twelve chasers ready to leave Corfu to- 
morrow (Sunday) for special service ? They should have 
stores for four days. If unavoidable, barrage force may 
be reduced during their absence. Request reply. Further 
definite orders will be sent Sunday afternoon." 

To this Captain Nelson sent an answer which was 
entirely characteristic : 

" Yes." 

The Captain well knew what the enterprise was to 
which this message referred. The proposed undertaking 
was one which was very close to his heart and one which 
he had constantly urged. The Austrian port of Durazzo, 
on the Adriatic, at that time was playing an important 


part in the general conflict. It was a base by which Ger- 
many and Austria had sent supplies to their ally Bulgaria ; 
and in September the Entente had started the campaign 
against Bulgaria which finally ended in the complete 
humiliation of that country. The destruction of Durazzo 
as a base would greatly assist this operation. Several 
ships lay in the harbour ; there were many buildings used 
for army stores ; the destruction of all these, as well as 
the docks and military works, would render the port use- 
less. The bombardment of Durazzo was, therefore, the 
undertaking for which the assistance of our subchasers 
had been requested. It was estimated that about one 
hour's heavy shelling would render this port valueless as 
an Austrian base ; and to accomplish this destruction 
the Italians had detailed three light cruisers, the San 
Giorgio, the Pisa, and the San Marco, and the British 
three light scout cruisers, the Lowestoft, the Dartmouth, 
and the Weymouth. According to the plan agreed upon 
the Italian ships would arrive at Durazzo at about ten 
o'clock on Wednesday morning, October 2nd, bombard the 
works for an hour, and then return to Brindisi ; when 
they had finished, it was proposed that the British cruisers 
should take their places, bombard for an hour, and like- 
wise retire. The duty which had been assigned to the 
subchasers in this operation was an important one. The 
Austrians had a considerable force of submarines at 
Durazzo ; and it was to be expected that they would 
send them to attack the bombarding warships. The 
chasers, therefore, were to accompany the cruisers, in 
order to fight any submarine which attempted to inter- 
fere with the game. " Remember the life of these cruisers 
depends upon your vigilance and activity," said Captain 
Nelson in the instructions issued to the officers who 
commanded the little vessels. 

At nine o'clock that Sunday evening twelve chasers 
slipped through the net at Corfu and started across the 
Adriatic ; they sailed " in column," or single file, Captain 
Nelson heading the procession in subchaser No. 95, his 
second in command, Lt.-Comdr. Paul H. Bastedo, coming 
next in chaser No. 215. The tiny fleet hardly suggested 
to the observer anything in the nature of military opera- 
tions ; they looked more like a group of motor launches 
out for a summer cruise. The next morning they arrived 


at Brindisi, the gathering place of all the Allied vessels 
which were to participate in the operation that same 
Brindisi (or Brundisium) which was one of the most 
famous ports of antiquity, the town from which Augustus 
and Antony, in 42 B.C., started on the expedition which, 
at the battle of Philippi, was to win them the mastery of 
the ancient world. Upon arriving Captain Nelson went 
ashore for a council w T ith Commodore Kelly, who com- 
manded the British cruisers, and other Allied officers. 
When he returned Captain Nelson's face was glowing 
with happiness and expectation. 

" It's going to be a real party, boys," he informed his 
subordinate officers. 

Two days were spent at Brindisi, completing prepara- 
tions ; on Tuesday evening Captain Nelson called all his 
officers for a meeting on board the British destroyer 
Badger, to give them all the details of the forthcoming 
" party." If there had been any flagging spirits in that 
company when the speech began which I do not believe 
all depression had vanished when " Juggy " had finished 
his remarks ; every officer left with his soul filled by the 
same joy of approaching battle as that which possessed 
his chief. 

At 2.30 Wednesday morning the chasers left Brindisi, 
steering a straight course to Durazzo. The night was 
very dark ; the harbour was black also with the smoke 
from the cruisers and other craft which were making 
preparations to get away. After steaming a few hours 
the officers obtained with their glasses their first glimpse 
of Durazzo ; at this time there were no fighting ships in 
sight except the chasers, as the larger ships had not yet 
arrived. Captain Nelson knew that there were two or 
three Austrian destroyers at Durazzo, and his first efforts 
were devoted to attempts to persuade them to come out 
and give battle. With this idea in mind, the chasers 
engaged in what they called a " war dance " before the 
port ; they began turning rapidly in a great circle, but 
all to no purpose, for the Austrian ships declined to accept 
the challenge. After a time the smoke of the Italian 
cruisers appeared above the horizon ; this was the signal 
for the chasers to take their stations. Durazzo is located 
in an indentation of the coast ; at the southern extremity 
of the little gulf the land juts out to a point, known as 


Cape Laghi ; at the northern extremity the corresponding 
point is Cape Pali ; the distance between these two points 
is about fifteen miles. Two subchaser units, six boats, 
were assigned as a screen to the Italian cruisers while the 
bombardment was under way. One unit, three boats, 
was stationed at Cape Pali, to the north, to prevent any 
submarines leaving Durazzo from attacking the British 
cruisers, which were to approach the scene of activities 
from that quarter, and another unit, three boats, was 
stationed off Cape Laghi. Thus the two critical capes 
were covered against submarine surprises, and the attack- 
ing vessels themselves were effectively screened. 

The Italian cruisers sailed back and forth for about an 
hour, blazing away at Durazzo, destroying shipping in 
the harbour, knocking down military buildings, and 
devastating the place on a liberal scale, all the time 
screened in this operation by our chasers. Meantime, 
unit B, commanded by Lieutenant-Commander Bastedo, 
had started for its station at Cape Pali. The Austrian 
shore batteries at once opened upon the tiny craft, the 
water in their neighbourhood being generously churned 
up by the falling shells. Meanwhile, the British cruisers, 
after steaming for a while east, turned south in order to 
take up the bombarding station which, according to the 
arranged programme, the Italian warships were about to 
abandon. The three screening chasers were steaming in 
column, No. 129, commanded by Ensign Maclair Jacoby, 
U.S.N.R.F., bringing up the rear. Suddenly this little 
boat turned to the right and started scampering in the 
direction of some apparently very definite object. It 
moved so abruptly and hastily that it did not take the time 
even to signal to its associates the cause of its unexpected 

On board No. 215 there was some question as to what 
should be done. 

"Let's. go," said Commander Bastedo. "Perhaps he's 
after a submarine." 

No. 215 was immediately turned in the direction of the 
busy No. 129, when the interest of its officers was aroused 
by a little foamy fountain of spray moving in the water 
slightly forward of its port beam. There was no mystery 
as to the cause of that feathery disturbance. It was 
made by a periscope ; it was moving with considerable 


speed also, entirely ignoring the subchasers, and shaping 
its course directly toward the advancing British cruisers. 
Commander Bastedo forgot all about subchaser A T o. 129, 
which apparently was after game of its own, and headed 
his own boat in the direction of this little column of spray. 
In a few seconds the periscope itself became visible ; Com- 
mander Bastedo opened fire at it with his port gun ; at 
the second shot a column of water and air arose about six 
feet a splendid geyser which informed the pursuer that 
the periscope had been shattered. By this time the third 
chaser, No. 128, was rushing at full speed. The submarine 
now saw that all chance of attacking the British ships had 
gone, and turned to the south in an effort to get away 
with a whole skin. But the two subchasers, 215 and 128, 
quickly turned again and started for their prey ; soon 
both w r ere dropping depth charges and shooting their 
" Y " guns ; and a huge circle of the sea was a mass of 
explosions, whirling water, mighty eruptions of foam, 
mist, and debris and in the mass, steel plates and other 
wreckage flew from the depths into the air. 

" That got him ! " cried the executive officer from the 
deck of No. 215, while the crew lifted up its voices in a 
shout that was reminiscent of a college yell. 

It was not until this moment that Commander Bastedo 
and his associates remembered the 129, which, w r hen last 
observed, was speeding through the water on an inde- 
pendent course of her own. In the midst of the excite- 
ment there came a message from this boat : 

" Submarine sighted ! " 

Then a second afterward came another message. 

" My engines are disabled." 

In a short time Bastedo had reached the boat. 

" Where is the submarine ? " 

" We just sank it," was the answer. No. 129 had 
dropped eight depth charges, one directly over the Austrian 
boat ; in the water thrown up the officers had counted 
seven pieces of metal plates, and the masses of oil and 
bubbles that presently arose completed the story of the 
destruction. Meanwhile, the British cruisers had taken 
up their station at Durazzo and were finishing the work 
that made this place useless as a military headquarters. 

Not a man in the whole American force was injured ; in 
a brief time the excitement w r as all over, and the great 


ships, screened again by the wasps of chasers, started 
back to Brindisi. The impression made upon our Allies 
was well expressed in the congratulatory message sent to 
me in London by Commodore Kelly, who commanded the 
British cruisers in this action. 

" Their conduct," he said, " was beyond praise. They 
all returned safely without casualties. They thoroughly 
enjoyed themselves." 

And from the Italians came this message : 

" Italian Naval General Staff expresses highest appre- 
ciation of useful and efficient work performed by United 
States chasers in protecting major vessels during action 
against Durazzo ; also vivid admiration of their brilliant 
and clever operations which resulted in sinking two enemy 

The war was now drawing to a close ; a day before the 
Allied squadrons started for Durazzo Bulgaria surrendered ; 
about two weeks after the attack Austria had given up 
the ghost. The subchasers were about this time just 
getting into their stride ; the cessation of hostilities, 
however, ended their careers at the very moment when 
they had become most useful. A squadron of thirty-six 
under the command of Captain A. J. Hepburn reached 
Queenstown in September, but though it had several 
interesting contacts with the enemy, and is credited with 
sending one German home badly damaged, the armistice 
was signed before it had really settled down to work. 
The final spectacular appearance was at Gibraltar, in the 
last four days of the war. The surrender of Austria had 
left the German submarines stranded in the Adriatic 
without a base ; and they started home by way of the 
Mediterranean and Gibraltar. A squadron of eighteen 
chasers had just arrived at the Azores, on the way to 
reinforce the flotilla at Plymouth ; seven of these were at 
once despatched to Gibraltar on the chance that they 
might bar the passage of these U-boats. They reached 
this port at the storm season ; yet they went out in the 
hardest gales and had several exciting contacts with the 
fleeing Germans. The records show that five submarines 
attempted to get through the straits ; there is good evi- 
dence that two of these were sunk, one by the British 
patrol and one by our chasers. 



WHILE our naval forces were thus playing their parts in 
several areas, the work of creating the central staff of a 
great naval organization was going forward in London. 
The headquarters for controlling extensive naval opera- 
tions in many widely dispersed areas, like the head- 
quarters of an army extending over a wide front, must 
necessarily be located far behind the scene of battle. 
Thus, a number of remodelled dwelling-houses in Grosvenor 
Gardens contained the mainspring for an elaborate 
mechanism which reached from London to Washington 
and from Queenstown to Corfu. On the day of the armis- 
tice the American naval forces in European waters com- 
prised about 370 vessels of all classes, more than 5,000 
officers, regulars and reserves, and more than 75,000 
men ; we had established about forty-five bases and were 
represented in practically every field of naval operations. 
The widespread activities of our London headquarters on 
that eventful day presented a striking contrast to the 
humble beginnings of eighteen months before. 

From April to August, 1917, the American navy had a 
very small staff organization in Europe. During these 
extremely critical four months the only American naval 
representatives in London, besides the regular Naval 
Attach6 and his aides, were my personal aide, Commander 
J. V. Babcock, and myself ; and our only office in those 
early days was a small room in the American Embassy. 
For a considerable part of this time we had no stenographers 
and no clerical assistance of our own, though of course the 
Naval Attache, Captain W. D. MacDougall, and his per- 
sonnel gave us all the assistance in their power. Com- 



mander Babcock had a small typewriter, which he was 
able to work with two fingers, and on this he laboriously 
pounded out the reports which first informed the Navy 
Department of the seriousness of the submarine situation. 
The fact that Commander Babcock was my associate 
during this critical period was a fortunate thing for me, 
and a still more fortunate thing for the United States. 
Commander Babcock and I had been closely associated 
for several years ; in that early period, when we, in our 
two persons, represented the American naval forces at the 
seat of Allied naval activity, we not only worked together 
in that little room but we lived together. Our office was 
alternately this room in the American Embassy and our 
quarters in an hotel. I had already noted Commander 
Babcock' s abilities when he was on my staff in the Atlantic 
Torpedo Flotilla and when he was a student at the Naval 
War College ; but our constant companionship through- 
out the war, especially during these first few strenuous 
months in London, gave me a still greater respect for his 
qualities. Many men have made vital contributions to 
our success in the war of whom the public scarcely ever 
hears even the name. A large part of the initiative and 
thinking which find expression in successful military action 
originates with officers of this type. They labour day 
after day and night after night, usually in subordinate 
positions, unselfishly doing work which is necessarily 
credited to other names than their own, daily lightening 
the burden of their chiefs, and constantly making sugges- 
tions which may control military operations or affect 
national policy. Commander Babcock is a striking repre- 
sentative of this type. My personal obligations to him are 
incalculable ; and I am indebted to him not only for his 
definite services, but for the sympathy, the encouragement, 
and the kindly and calculated pessimism which served so 
well to counterbalance my temperamental optimism. 

Our relations were so close, working and living together 
as we did, that I find it difficult to speak of " Babby's " 
services with restraint. But there are particular accom- 
plishments to his credit which should go down upon this 
popular record. I have described the first consultations 
with the British naval chiefs. These were the meetings 
which formed the basis of the reports recommending the 
conditions upon which the American navy should co- 


operate with the Allies. Commander Babcock was con- 
stantly at my elbow during all these consultations, and 
was all the time independently conducting investigations 
in the several departments of the Admiralty. The original 
drafts of all my written and cabled communications to the 
department reports which form a connected story of our 
participation in the naval war during this period were 
prepared by him. 

Able as Commander Babcock was, human endurance 
still had its limitations. A public-spirited American 
business man in London, Mr. R. E. Gillmor, who had 
formerly been an officer in the navy, begged to be accepted 
as a volunteer ; he brought two of his best stenographers, 
English girls, and personally paid their salaries for several 
weeks while they were devoting all their time to the 
American navy. Subsequently he was enlisted in the 
naval reserves and performed very valuable services on 
the staff throughout nearly the entire period of the war 
until ordered to America, where his technical knowledge 
was required in connection with certain important appli- 
ances with which he was familiar. His experience as a 
business man in London was of great value to our forces, 
and his time and energy were devoted to our service with 
a zeal and loyalty that endeared him to us all. 

Soon afterward a number of Rhodes scholars and other 
young Americans then in Europe, G. B. Stockton, E. H. 
McCormick, T. B. Kittredge, P. F. Good, R. M. D. Richard- 
son, H. - Millard, L. S. Stevens, and J. C. Baillargeon, 
joined our forces as unpaid volunteers and gave us the 
benefit of their trained minds and European experience. 
Two of these, Kittredge and Stockton, both valuable 
workers, had been serving under Hoover in Belgium. 
They were all later enrolled as reserves and continued 
their work throughout the war. Lieutenant Stockton 
performed the arduous and important duties of chief 
business manager, or executive officer, of headquarters in 
a most efficient manner, and throughout the war Kitt- 
redge' s previous historical training, European experience, 
and fine intellectual gifts made his services very valuable 
in the Intelligence Department. 

Mr. Page, the American Ambassador, aided and encour- 
aged us in all possible ways. Immediately after my 
arrival in London he invited me to call upon him and his 

1917-18] OUR GROWING FORCES 207 

staff for any assistance they could render. In his enthusi- 
astic and warm-hearted way, he said : " Everything we 
have is yours. I will turn the Embassy into the street 
if necessary " ; and throughout the war he was a tower 
of strength to the cause. He gave us his time and the 
benefit of his great experience and personal prestige in 
establishing cordial relations with the various branches of 
the British Government and all this with such an absence 
of diplomatic formality, such courteous and forceful 
efficiency, and such cordial sympathy and genuine kind- 
ness that he immediately excited not only our sincere 
admiration but also our personal affection. 

During all this period events of the utmost importance 
were taking place ; it was within these four months that 
the convoy system was adopted, that armed guards were 
placed on merchant ships, that the first American troops 
were escorted to France, and that our destroyers and 
other warships began arriving in European waters. In 
July it became apparent that the strain of doing the work 
of a dozen men, which had been continuous during the 
past four months, could no longer be supported by my 
aide, Commander Babcock. When the destroyers and 
other ships arrived, we went through their lists ; here 
and there we hit upon a man whom we regarded as qualified 
for responsible staff duty, and transferred him to the Lon- 
don headquarters. This proceeding was necessary if our 
essential administrative work was to be done. Among 
the reserves who were subsequently assigned to our 
forces many excellent staff officers also were developed 
for handling the work of communications, cipher codes, 
and the like. When the Colonel House Commission came 
over in October, 1917, I explained our necessities to the 
" skippers " of the two cruisers that brought the party, 
who promptly gave us all the desks and office equipment 
they could spare and sent them to Grosvenor Gardens. 

In August, however, additional ships and forces began 
to arrive from America, and it became necessary to have 
larger quarters than those available in the Embassy for 
handling the increasing administrative work. At one time 
the British Government contemplated building us a tem- 
porary structure near the Admiralty, but this was aban- 
doned because there was a shortage of material. We 
therefore moved into an unoccupied dwelling near the 


American Embassy that seemed adapted to our needs. 
We rented this house furnished, just as it stood ; a first 
glimpse of it, however, suggested refined domesticity 
rather than naval operations. We quickly cleared the 
building of rugs, tapestries, lace curtains, pictures, and 
expensive furniture, reduced the twenty-five rooms to 
their original bareness, and filled every corner with office 
equipment. In a few days the staff was installed in this 
five-story residence and the place was humming with the 
noise of typewriters. At first we regarded the leasing of 
this building as something of an extravagance ; it seemed 
hardly likely that we should ever use it all ! But in a few 
weeks we had taken the house adjoining, cut holes through 
the walls and put in doors ; and this, too, was filled up in 
an incredibly short time, so rapidly did the administrative 
work grow. Ultimately we had to take over six of these 
private residences and make alterations which transformed 
them into one. From August our staff increased at a rapid 
rate until, on the day the armistice was signed, we had 
not far from 1,200 officers, enlisted men, and clerical force, 
working in our London establishment, the commissioned 
staff consisting of about 200 officers, of which sixty were 
regulars and the remainder reserves. 

I find that many people are surprised that I had my 
headquarters in London. The historic conception of the 
commander-in-chief of a naval force located on the quarter- 
deck of his flagship still holds the popular imagination. 
But controlling the operations of extensive and widely 
dispersed forces in a campaign of this kind is quite a 
different proceeding from that of directing the naval cam- 
paigns of Nelson's time, just as making war on land has 
changed somewhat from the method in vogue with Napo- 
leon. The opinion generally prevails that my principal 
task was to command in person certain naval forces afloat. 
The fact is that this was really no part of my job during the 
war. The game in which several great nations were engaged 
for four years was a game involving organized direction 
and co-operation. It is improbable that any one nation 
could have won the naval war ; that was a task which 
demanded not only that we should all exert our fullest 
energies, but that, so far as it was humanly possible, we 
should exert them as a unit. It was the duty of the 
United States above all nations to manifest this spirit. 

1917-18] THE TASK OF AMERICA 209 

We had entered the war late ; we had entered it in a con- 
dition of unpreparedness ; our naval forces, when com- 
pared to those which had been assembled by the Allies, 
were small ; we had not been engaged for three years 
combating an enemy using new weapons and methods of 
naval warfare. It was not unlikely that we could make 
some original contributions to the Allied effort ; indeed, 
we early did so ; yet it was natural to suppose that the 
navies which had been combating the submarines so long 
understood that game better than did we, and it was our 
duty to assist them in this work, rather than to operate 
independently. Moreover, this question as to whether 
any particular one of our methods might be better or 
might be worse than Great Britain's was not the most 
important one. The point was that the British navy 
had developed its own methods of working and that it was 
a great " going concern." The crisis was so pressing 
that we simply did not have the time to create a separate 
force of our own ; the most cursory examination of con- 
ditions convinced me that we could hope to accomplish 
something worth while only by playing the game as it 
was then being played, and that any attempt to lay 
down new rules would inevitably decrease the effective- 
ness of our co-operation, and perhaps result in losing the 
war. We can even admit, for the sake of the argument, 
that the Americans might have created a better organiza- 
tion than the British ; but the question of improving on 
their methods, or of not improving on them, was a point 
that was not worth considering ; long before we could 
have developed an efficient independent machine the war 
would have come to an end. It was thus our duty to 
take things as they were, to plunge immediately into the 
conflict, and to make every ship and every man tell in 
the most effective way and in the shortest possible time. 
Therefore I decided that our forces should become, for 
the purpose of this war, virtually a part of the Allied 
navies ; to place at the disposal of the Allies our ships to 
reinforce the weak part of their lines ; to ignore such 
secondary considerations as national pride, naval prestige, 
and personal ambitions ; and to subordinate every other 
consideration to that of defeating the Hun. I have 
already described how in distributing our subchasers I 
practically placed them at the disposal of the Allied 



Council ; and this represents the policy that was followed 
in all similar matters. 

The naval high commands were located at Washington, 
London, Paris, and Rome. Necessarily London was the 
headquarters of the naval war. Events which had long 
preceded the European conflict had made this choice in- 
evitable. The maritime development of four centuries 
had prepared London for the r61e which she was now 
called upon to play. From all over the world naval and 
maritime information flowed to this great capital as 
though in obedience to the law of gravity. Even in peace 
times London knew where every ship in the world was 
at any particular time. All other machinery for handling 
this great mass of detail was necessarily accumulated in 
this great city, and Lloyd's, the world headquarters for 
merchant shipping, had now become practically a part 
of the British Admiralty. In this war the matter of 
information and communications was supremely impor- 
tant. Every decision that was made and every order 
that was issued, even those that were the least conse- 
quential, rested upon complete information which was 
obtainable, in time to be useful, only in London. I could 
not have made my headquarters in Washington, or Paris, 
or Rome because these cities could not have furnished the 
military intelligence which was needed as a preliminary to 
every act. For the same reason I could not have efficiently 
controlled the operations of all our forces from Queenstown, 
or Brest, or Gibraltar ; the staff controlling the whole had 
necessarily to be located in London, and the tactical com- 
mands at these other bases must be exercised by subor- 
dinates. The British placed all their sources of informa- 
tion and their communications at our disposal. They 
literally opened their doors and made us part of their 
organization. I sat daily in consultation with British 
naval chiefs, and our officers had access to all essential 
British information just as freely as did the British naval 
officers themselves. On the day of my arrival Admiral 
Jellicoe issued orders that the Americans should be shown 
anything which they wished to see. With all this infor- 
mation, the most complete and detailed in the world, 
constantly placed at our disposal, and a spirit of confi- 
dence and friendship always prevailing which has no 
parallel in history, it would have defeated the whole 

1917-18] THE ADMIRALTY 211 

purpose of our participation in the war had the American 
high command taken up its headquarters anywhere except 
in London. 

Incidentally, there was an atmosphere in the London 
Admiralty which made a strong appeal to anyone who is 
interested in naval history. Everything about the place 
is reminiscent of great naval achievements. The room in 
which our councils met was the same old Admiralty Board 
room that had been used for centuries. In accordance 
with the spirit of British conservatism, this room is almost 
exactly the same now, even in its furnishings, as it was in 
Nelson's time. The same old wood carvings hang over 
the same old fireplace ; the table at which we sat is the 
identical one at which Nelson must have sat many 
times, and the very silver inkstand which Nelson used 
was used by his successors in this war. The portrait of 
this great naval chieftain looked down upon us during our 
deliberations. Above the fireplace is painted a huge 
compass, and about the centre of this swings an arrow. 
This was a part of the Admiralty equipment of a hundred 
years ago, though it has no usefulness now except a 
sentimental one. In old days this arrow was geared to a 
weather vane on the roof of the Admiralty, and it con- 
stantly showed to the chiefs assembled in the council 
room the direction of the wind a matter of great impor- 
tance in the days of sailing ships. 

All general orders and plans concerning the naval opera- 
tions of British and American forces came from the 
Admiralty, and here officers of my staff were constantly 
at work. The commanders-in-chief at the various bases 
commanded the combined British and American ships 
based on those ports only in the sense that they carried 
out the general instructions and policies which were 
formulated in London. These orders, so far as they 
affected American forces, could be issued to the com- 
manders-in-chief only after American headquarters in 
London had vise"d them. Thus the American staff held 
the ultimate command over all the American forces which 
were based in British waters. The same was true of those 
at Brest, Gibraltar, and other stations. The commanders- 
in-chief executed them, and were responsible for the 
manner in which the forces were used in combating the 
enemy. The operations of which I was the commander 


extended over an immense area. The Plymouth and 
Queenstown forces represented only a part of the ultimate 
American naval strength in European waters and not the 
most important part ; before the war ended, Brest, as I 
shall show, developed into a greater naval base than any 
of those which we maintained in the British Isles. Con- 
voys were not only coming across the Atlantic but they 
were constantly arriving from the Mediterranean and from 
the South Sea, and it was the duty of headquarters in 
London, and not the duty of local commanders, to route 
these precious argosies, except in special cases, just before 
they reached their port of destination. Not infrequently, 
as previously described, it was necessary to change destina- 
tions, or to slow down convoys, or to make any number 
of decisions based on new information ; naturally only 
the centre of information, the Admiralty convoy room, 
could serve as a clearing house for such operations. The 
point is that it was necessary for me to exercise the chief 
command of American forces through subordinates. My 
position in this respect was precisely the same as that of 
Generals Haig and Pershing ; I had to maintain a great 
headquarters in the rear, and to depend upon subordinates 
for the actual execution of orders. 

The American headquarters in London comprised many 
separate departments, each one of which was directly 
responsible to me as the Force Commander, through the 
Chief of Staff ; they included such indispensable branches 
as the office of the Chief of Staff, Captain N. C. Twining, 
Chief of Staff ; Assistant Chief of Staff, Captain W. R. 
Sexton ; Intelligence Department, Commander J. V. 
Babcock, who also acted as Aide ; Convoy Operations 
Section, Captain Byron A. Long ; Anti-submarine Section, 
Captain R. H. Leigh ; Aviation Section, Captain H. I. 
Cone, and afterward, Lieutenant-Commander W. A. 
Edwards; Personnel Section, Commander H. R. Stark; 
Communication Section, Lieutenant-Commander E. G. 
Blakeslee ; Material Section, Captain E. C. Tobey (S.C.) ; 
Repair Section, Captain S. F. Smith (C.C.), and after- 
ward, L. B. McBride (C.C.) ; Ordnance Section, Com- 
mander G. L. Schuyler, and afterward, Commander T. A. 
Thomson ; Medical Section, Captain F. L. Pleadwell 
(M.C.), and afterward, Commander Edgar Thompson 
(M.C.) ; Legal Section, Commander W. H. McGrann ; 


and the Scientific Section, Professor H. A. Bumstead, 

I was fortunate in all of my departmental chiefs. The 
Chief of Staff, Captain N. C. Twining, would certainly have 
been a marked man in any navy ; he had a genius for 
detail, a tireless energy, and a mastery of all the problems 
that constantly arose. I used to wonder when Captain 
Twining ever found an opportunity to sleep ; he seemed 
to be working every hour of the day and night ; yet, so 
far as was observable, he never wearied of his task, and 
never slackened in his devotion to the Allied cause. As 
soon as a matter came up that called for definite decision, 
Captain Twining would assemble from the several depart- 
ments all data and information which were available 
concerning the question at issue, spend a few hours study- 
ing this information, and then give his judgment an 
opinion which was invariably sound and which was adopted 
in the vast majority of cases ; in fact, in all cases except 
those in which questions of policy or extraneous con- 
siderations dictated a different or modified decision. Cap- 
tain Twining is a man of really fine intellect combined 
with a remarkable capacity for getting things done ; 
without his constant presence at my elbow, my work 
would have been much heavier and much less successful 
than it was. He is an officer of such exceptional ability, 
such -matured experience, and such forceful character as 
to assure him a brilliant career in whatever duty he may 
be called upon to perform. I can never be sufficiently 
grateful to him for his loyalty and devotion and for his 
indispensable contribution to the efficiency of the forces 
I had the honour to command. 

In accordance with my habitual practice, I applied the 
system of placing responsibility upon my carefully selected 
heads of departments, giving them commensurate authority, 
and holding them to account for results. Because the task 
was such a great one, this was the only possible way in 
which the operations of the force could have been success- 
fully conducted. I say, successfully conducted, because in 
a " business " of this kind, " good enough " and " to- 
morrow " may mean disaster ; that is, it is a case of keeping 
both information and operations up to the minute. If the 
personnel and equipment of the staff are not completely 
capable of this, it is more than a partial failure, and the 


result is an ever-present danger. There were men in this 
great war who " went to pieces " simply because they tried 
to do everything themselves. This administrative vice 
of attempting to control every detail, even insignificant ones, 
to which military men seem particularly addicted, it had 
always been my policy to avoid. Business at Grosvenor 
Gardens developed to such an extent that about a thousand 
messages were every day received in our office or sent from 
it ; and of these 60 per cent, were in code. Obviously it 
was impossible for the Force Commander to keep constantly 
at his finger ends all these details. All department heads, 
therefore, were selected because they were officers who could 
be depended upon to handle these matters and make 
decisions independently ; they were all strong men, and 
it is to their combined efforts that the success of our opera- 
tions was due. You would have to search a long time 
among the navies of the world before you could find an abler 
convoy officer than Captain Byron A. Long ; an abler naval 
constructor than Captain L. B. McBride ; an abler man to 
have charge of the finances of our naval forces, the purchase 
of supplies and all kinds of material than Captain (S.C.) 
Eugene C. Tobey ; abler aviation officers than Captain 
H. I. Cone and Lieutenant -Commander W. A. Edwards ; 
an abler chief of operations than Captain R. H. Leigh, or an 
abler intelligence officer than Commander J. V. Babcock. 
These men, and others of the fourteen department heads, 
acted as a kind of cabinet. Many of them handled matters 
which, though wholly essential to the success of the forces, 
were quite outside of my personal knowledge or experience, 
and consequently they had to be men in whose ability to 
guide me in such matters I could place complete confidence. 
As an example of this I may cite one of the duties of Captain 
Tobey. Nearly all of the very considerable financial 
transactions he was entrusted with were " Greek " to me, 
but he had only to show me the right place on the numerous 
documents, and I signed my name in absolute confidence 
that the interests of the Government were secure. 

All cables, reports, and other communications were 
referred each day to the department which they concerned. 
The head of each department studied them, attended to the 
great majority on his own responsibility, and selected the 
few that needed more careful attention. A meeting of the 
Chief of Staff and all department heads was held each day, 

1917-18] A PLANNING SECTION 215 

at which these few selected matters were discussed in 
council and decisions made. The final results of these 
deliberations were the only matters that were referred to 
me. This system of subdividing responsibility and author- 
ity not only promoted efficiency but it left the Force Com- 
mander time to attend to vitally important questions of 
general policy, to keep in personal touch with the high 
command of the Allied navies, to attend the Allied naval 
councils, and, in general, to keep his finger constantly on the 
pulse of the whole war situation. Officers of our own and 
other navies who were always coming in from the outlying 
stations, and who could immediately be placed in touch 
with the one man who could answer all their questions and 
give immediate decisions, testified to the efficient condition 
in which the American headquarters was maintained. 

One of our departments was so novel, and performed such 
valuable service, that I must describe it in some detail. 
We took over into our London organization an idea that is 
advantageously used in many American industrial establish- 
ments, and had a Planning Section, the first, I think, which 
had ever been adopted by any navy. I detached from all 
other duties five officers : Captain F. H. Schofield, Captain 
D. W. Knox, Captain H. E. Yarnell (who exchanged places 
afterward with Captain L. McNamee of the Plans Section 
of the Navy Department), and Colonel R. H. Dunlap (of the 
Marines), who was succeeded by Colonel L. McC. Little, 
when ordered to command a regiment of Marines in France. 
These men made it their business to advise the Commander- 
in-Chief on any questions that might arise. All were 
graduates of the Naval War College at Newport, and they 
applied to the consideration of war problems the lessons 
which they had learned at that institution. The business 
of the Planning Section was to make studies of particular 
problems, to prepare plans for future operations, and also to 
criticize fully the organization and methods which were 
already in existence. The fact that these men had no 
administrative duties and that they could therefore devote 
all their time to surveying our operations, discovering mis- 
takes, and suggesting better ways of doing things, as well 
as the fact that they were themselves scholarly students of 
naval warfare, made their labours exceedingly valuable. I 
gave them the utmost freedom in finding fault with the 
existing regime ; there was no department and no office, 


from that of the Commander-in-Chief down, upon whose 
activities they were not at liberty to submit the fullest and 
the frankest reports. If anything could be done in a better 
way, we certainly wanted to know it. Whenever any 
specific problem of importance came up, it was always 
submitted to these men for a report. The value of such a 
report depended upon the completeness and accuracy of the 
information available, and it was the business of the Intelli- 
gence Department of the staff to supply this. If the desired 
information was not in their files, or the files of the Allied 
admiralties, or was not up to date, it was their duty to obtain 
it at once. The point is that the Planning Section had no 
other duties beyond rendering a decision, based upon a 
careful analysis of the facts bearing upon the case, which 
they submitted in writing. There was no phase of the naval 
warfare upon which the officers of the Planning Section did 
not give us reports. One of their favourite methods was to 
place themselves in the position of the Germans and to decide 
how, if they were directing German naval operations, they 
would frustrate the tactics of the Allies. Their records 
contain detailed descriptions of how merchant ships could 
be sunk by submarines, and these methods, our officers 
believed, represented a great improvement over those used 
by the Germans. Indeed, I think that many of these 
reports, had they fallen into the hands of the Germans, 
would have been found by them exceedingly useful. There 
was a general impression, in our own navy as well as in the 
British, that most of the German submarine commanders 
handled their boats unskilfully and obtained inadequate 
results. All these documents were given to the responsible 
men in our forces, as well as to the British, and had a con- 
siderable influence upon operations. The British also 
established a Planning Section, which worked harmoniously 
with our own. 

A subject upon which our Planning Section liked to specu- 
late was the possible sortie of the German fleet. The 
possibility of a great naval engagement filled the minds of 
most naval officers ; and, after we had sent five of our 
battleships to reinforce Admiral Beatty's fleet, this topic 
became even more interesting to American naval men. 
Would the Germans ever come out ? What had they to 
gain or to lose by such an undertaking ? What were their 
chances of victory ? Where would the engagement be 


fought, and what part would the several elements of 
modern naval warfare play in it : mines, submarines, battle- 
cruisers, airplanes, dirigibles, and destroyers ? These 
were among the questions with which the Planning Section 
busied itself, and this problem, like many others, they 
approached from the German standpoint. They placed 
themselves in the position of the German High Command, 
and peered into the Grand Fleet looking for a weakness, 
which, had they been Germans, they might turn to account 
in a general engagement. The only weak spot our Planning 
Section could find was one which reflected the greatest 
credit upon the British forces. The British commander, 
Admiral Sir David Beatty, was a particularly dashing and 
heroic fighter ; could not these splendid qualities really be 
turned to the advantage of the Germans ? That Admiral 
Beatty would fight at the first opportunity, and that he 
would run all justifiable risks, if a chance presented of 
defeating the German fleet, was as well known to the Ger- 
mans as to ourselves. The British Admiral, it was also 
known, did not entertain much respect for mines and tor- 
pedoes. All navies possessed what was known as a 
" torpedo flag." This was an emblem which was to be 
displayed in case torpedoes were sighted, for the purpose of 
warning the ships to change course or, if necessary, to desist 
from an attack. It was generally reported that Admiral 
Beatty had ordered all these torpedo flags to be destroyed ; 
in case he once started in pursuit of the German fleet, he 
proposed to take his chances, dive straight through a school 
of approaching torpedoes, or even to rush full speed over a 
mine-field, making no efforts to avoid these hidden dangers. 
That he would probably lose some ships the Admiral well 
knew, but he figured and probably correctly that he 
would certainly have enough vessels left to annihilate the 
enemy. Still, in the judgment of our Planning Section, 
Admiral Beatty 's assumed attitude toward " torpedo flags " 
gave the Germans their only possible chance of seriously 
injuring the Grand Fleet. They drew up a plan of attack 
on the Scapa Flow forces based upon this assumption. 
Imagining themselves directors of the German navy, they 
constructed large numbers of torpedo boats, submarines, 
and mine-fields and stationed them in a particularly 
advantageous position ; they then proposed to send the 
German fleet in the direction of Scapa Flow, draw the Grand 


Fleet to the attack, and then lead it in the direction of the 
torpedoes and mines. Probably such a scheme would never 
have succeeded ; but it represented, in the opinion of our 
Planning group, Germany's only chance of crippling the 
Grand Fleet and winning the war. In other words, had my 
staff found itself in Germany's position, that is the strategy 
which it would probably have used. I gave this report 
unofficially to the British Admiralty simply because I 
thought it might afford British officers reading that would 
possibly be entertaining. It is an evidence of the co- 
operation that existed between the two forces, and of the 
British disposition to accept suggestions, that this document 
was immediately sent to Admiral Beatty. 


The fact that I was able ultimately to create such an 
organization and leave the administration of its individual 
departments so largely to their respective heads was 
especially fortunate because it gave me time for what was 
perhaps the most important of my duties. This was my 
attendance at the meetings of the Allied Naval Council, not 
to mention daily conferences with various officials of the 
Allies. This naval council was the great headquarters for 
combined Allied operations against the enemy on the sea. 
It was not officially constituted by the Allied governments 
until November 29, 1917, but it had actually been in con- 
tinuous operation since the beginning of the war, the heads 
of the Allied admiralties having met frequently in con- 
ference. At these meetings every phase of the situation 
was discussed, and the methods finally adopted represented 
the mature judgment of the Allied naval chiefs who partici- 
pated in them. Without this council, and without the 
co-operation for which it stood, our efforts would have been 
so dispersed and would have so overlapped that their 
efficiency would have been greatly decreased. This inter- 
national naval conference not only had to decide questions 
of naval strategy, but it also had to concern itself with a 
multitude of practical matters which have little interest for 
the public, but which are exceedingly important in war. 
In this struggle coal, oil, and other materials played a part 
almost as important as ships and men ; these materials, 


like ships and men, were limited in quantity ; and it was 
necessary to apportion them as deliberately and as econom- 
ically as the seemingly more important munitions of war- 
fare. The Germans were constantly changing their tactics ; 
sometimes they would make their concentrations in a 
certain area ; while at other times their strength would 
appear in another field far distant from the first. These 
changes made it necessary that we should in each case 
readjust our forces to counteract the enemy's tactics. It 
was a vital necessity that these readjustments should be 
made immediately when the enemy's changes of tactics 
became known. It is evident that the element necessary 
to success was that the earliest and most complete possible 
information should be followed by prompt decision and 
action ; and it is manifest that these requirements could 
have been satisfied only by a council which was fully 
informed and which was on the spot momentarily ready to 
act. The Allied Naval Council responded to all these 
requirements. One of my first duties, after my arrival, 
was to attend one of these councils in Paris ; and immedi- 
ately afterward the meetings became much more frequent. 
Not only were the proceedings interesting because of 
the vast importance of the issues which were discussed, 
but because they brought me into intimate contact with 
some of the ablest minds in the European navies. Over 
the first London councils Admiral Jellicoe presided. I 
have already given my first impressions of this admirable 
sailor ; subsequent events only increased my respect for 
his character and abilities. An English woman once 
described Admiral Jellicoe as " a great gentleman " ; it 
is a description upon which I can hardly improve. The 
First Lord, Sir Eric Geddes, though he was by profession 
an engineer and had been transferred from the business 
of building roads and assuring the communications behind 
the armies in France to become the civilian head of the 
British navy, acquired, in an astonishingly short time, a 
mastery of the details of naval administration. Sir Eric 
is a type of man that we like to think of as American ; 
perhaps the fact that he had received his business training 
in this country, and had served an apprenticeship on the 
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, strengthened this impres- 
sion. The habitues of the National Sporting Club in 
London of whom I was one used to look reproachfully 


at the giant figure of the First Lord ; in their opinion he 
had sadly missed his calling. His mighty frame, his hard 
and supple muscles, his power of vigorous and rapid 
movement, his keen eye and his quick wit these qualities, 
in the opinion of those best qualified to judge, would 
have made this stupendous Briton one of the greatest 
heavyweight prize-fighters in the annals of pugilism. 
With a little training I am sure that Sir Eric would even 
now make a creditable showing in the professional ring. 
However, the paths of this business man and statesman 
lay in other fields. After returning from America he had 
had a brilliant business career in England ; he repre- 
sented the type which we call " self-made men " ; that 
is, he fought his way to the top without the aid of influ- 
ential friends. His elevation to the Admiralty, in 
succession to Sir Edward Carson, was something new in 
British public life, for Sir Eric had never dabbled in 
politics, and, until the war started, he was practically 
unknown in political circles. But this crisis in British 
affairs made it necessary for the Ministry to " draft " the 
most capable executives in the nation, irrespective of 
political considerations ; and Sir Eric, therefore, quite 
naturally found himself at the head of the navy. In a 
short time he had acquired a knowledge of the naval 
situation which enabled him to preside over an inter- 
national naval council with a very complete grasp of all 
the problems which were presented. I have heard the 
great naval specialists who attended say that, had they 
not known the real fact, they would hardly have suspected 
that Sir Eric was not a naval man. We admired not 
only his ability to direct the course of discussion, and 
even to take an important part in it, but also his skill at 
summing up the results of the whole proceeding in a few 
terse and masterly phrases. In fine, the First Lord was 
a man after Roosevelt's heart big, athletic, energetic, 
with a genius for reaching the kernel of a question and of 
getting things done. 

When it came to facility of exposition, however, we 
Anglo-Saxons made a poor showing in comparison with 
most French naval officers and in particular with Admirals 
Lacaze and de Bon. Both these gentlemen represented 
the Gallic type in its finest aspects. After spending a 
few moments with Rear- Admiral Lacaze, it was easy to 


understand the real affection which all French naval 
officers felt for him. He is a small, slight man, with a 
grey, pointed beard, and he possesses that earnestness of 
spirit, that courtesy of manner, and that sympathy and 
charm which we regard as the finest attributes of the 
cultured Frenchman. Admiral Lacaze has also a genuine 
French facility of speech and that precision of statement 
which is so characteristic of the French intellect. A 
slight acquaintance would make one believe that Admiral 
Lacaze would be a model husband and father, perhaps 
grandfather ; it was with surprise, however, that I learned 
that he was a bachelor, but I am sure that he is that kind 
of bachelor who is an uncle to all of the children of his 
acquaintance. As Minister of Marine he was the pre- 
siding officer of the council when it met in Paris. 

In Vice-Admiral de Bon, chief of the French naval staff, 
Admiral Lacaze had a worthy colleague ; he was really a 
man of heroic mould, and he certainly looked the part. 
His white hair and his white beard, cut square, gave at 
first glance an impression of age ; yet his clear, pink skin, 
not ruffled by a trace of wrinkle, his erect figure, his 
bright blue eyes, the vigour of his conversation and the 
energy of his movements, betokened rather perpetual 
youth. Compared with the naval forces of Great Britain, 
the French navy was of inconsiderable size, but in Admiral 
de Bon it made a contribution to Allied naval strength 
which was worth many dreadnoughts. The reputation of 
this man has scarcely reached this side of the Atlantic ; 
yet it was the general opinion of practically all naval men 
that his was the keenest mind at the Allied Naval Council. 
It was certainly the most persuasive in argument, and 
the one that had most influence in determining our con- 
clusions. Not that there was anything about this great 
French sailor that was arrogant or offensively self-asser- 
tive. On the contrary, his manner was all compact of 
charm and courtesy. He was about the most persuasive 
person I have ever met. Whenever an important matter 
arose, there was some influence that made us turn instinc- 
tively to Admiral de Bon for enlightenment ; and, when 
he rose to talk, the council hung upon his every word. 
For the man was a consummate orator. Those who 
understood French even slightly had little difficulty in 
following the Admiral, for he spoke his delightful language 


with a precision, a neatness of phrase, and a clearness of 
enunciation which made every syllable intelligible. So 
perfect did these speeches seem that one would have 
suspected that Admiral de Bon had composed them at 
his leisure, but this was not the case ; the man apparently 
had only to open his mouth, and his speech spontaneously 
flowed forth ; he never hesitated for a word. And his 
words were not only eloquent, but, as I have said, they 
were full of substance. The charm which he manifested 
on these public occasions he carried likewise into his 
domestic life. Whenever the council met in Paris the 
Admiral's delightful wife and daughters entertained us at 
luncheon an experience which caused many of us to 
regret that it did not always meet in that city. 

The other two members of this interesting group were 
Rear-Admiral Funakoshi, representing the Japanese navy, 
and Vice-Admiral di Revel, representing the Italian. 
The Japanese was also naval attache at London, and the 
popularity which he had acquired in this post he also 
won in the larger field. In some respects, he was not like 
the conventional notion of a Japanese ; physically he did 
not fulfil the accepted role, for he was tall and heavily 
built ; nor was there anything about him that was " in- 
scrutable " ; the fact was that he was exceedingly frank 
and open, and apparently loved nothing so much as a good 
joke. The remark of a London newspaper that Admiral 
di Revel, the Italian, " unlike Admiral Sims, looks every 
inch the sailor," caused Admiral Funakoshi much amuse- 
ment ; he could not resist the temptation to chaff me 
about it. We all became so well acquainted that, in our 
lighter moments, we did not mind having a little fun at 
one another's expense ; and in these passages the Japanese 
representative did not always make the poorest showing. 
The Italian, di Revel, was a source of continual delight. 
Someone remarked that he was in reality an Irishman 
who had escaped into Italy ; and this facetious charac- 
terization was really not inapt. His shock of red hair, his 
reddish beard, and his short, stocky figure almost per- 
suaded one that County Cork was his native soil. He 
delivered his opinions with an insistence which indicated 
that he entertained little doubt about their soundness ; 
he was not particularly patient if they were called in 
question ; yet he was so courteous, so energetic, and so 


entertaining that he was a general favourite. That his 
Government appreciated his services is shown by the fact 
that it made di Revel a full admiral, a rank which is rarely 
bestowed in Italy. 

Such, then, were the men who directed the mighty forces 
that defeated the German submarines. The work at the 
councils was arduous, yet the opportunity of associating 
with such men in such a task is one that comes to few 
naval officers. They all worked with the most indomit- 
able spirit ; not one of them ever for a moment showed 
the slightest discouragement over a situation which was 
at times disquieting, to say the least ; not one faltered 
in the determination to force the issue to the only logical 
end. History has given few examples of alliances that 
worked harmoniously. The Allied Naval Council did its 
full share in making harmonious the Allied effort against 
the submarine. 



IT is not improbable that I have given a false impression 
concerning the relative merits of the several methods 
which were developed for fighting the submarine. De- 
stroyers, patrol boats, subchasers, and mystery ships all 
accomplished great things in solving the most baffling 
problem presented by the war. The belief is general that 
the most successful hunter of the submarine was the 
destroyer, and, so far as absolute figures are concerned, 
this is true. Destroyers, with their depth charges and 
their gunfire, sank more U-boats than any other agency. 
One type of craft, however, proved a more destructive 
enemy of the submarine than even the destroyer. That 
was a warship of whose achievements in this direction 
little has so far been heard. The activities of the German 
submarine have completely occupied public attention ; 
and this is perhaps the reason why few newspaper readers 
have suspected that there were other than German and 
Austrian submarines constantly operating at sea. Every- 
one has heard of the U-boats, yet how many have heard 
anything of the H-boats, the E-boats, the K-boats, and 
the L-boats ? The H-, E-, and K-boats were British sub- 
marines, and the L-boats were American submarines. In 
the destruction of the German under-water craft these 
Allied submarines proved more successful than any kind 
of surface ship. The Allied destroyers, about 500 in 
number, sank 34 German submarines with gunfire and 
depth charges ; auxiliary patrol craft, such as trawlers, 
yachts, and the like, about 3,000 in number, sank 31 ; 
while the Allied submarines, which were only about 100 
in number, sank 20. Since, therefore, the Allies had 
about five times as many destroyers as submarines at 



work, it is evident that the record of the latter vessels 
surpasses that of the most formidable surface anti-sub- 
marine craft. 

Thus the war developed the fact that the most deadly 
enemy of the submarine is the submarine itself. Under- 
water warfare is evidently a disease in which like cures like. 
In a way this is the most astonishing lesson of the naval 
operations. It is particularly interesting, because it so 
completely demolishes all the ideas on this subject with 
which we entered the war. From that day in history 
when the submarine made its first appearance, the one 
quality which seemed to distinguish it from all other kinds 
of warship was that it could not be used to fight itself. 
Writers were fond of pointing out that battleship could 
fight battleship, that cruiser could fight cruiser, that 
destroyer could fight destroyer, but that submarine could 
not fight submarine. This supposed quality, which was 
constantly emphasized, was what seemed to make the 
introduction of this strange vessel such a dangerous thing 
for the British Empire. For more than a hundred years 
the under-water boat was a weapon which was regarded 
as valuable almost exclusively to the weaker sea powers. 
In the course of the nineteenth century this engine of sea 
fighting made many spectacular appearances ; and signi- 
ficantly it was always heralded as the one effective way 
of destroying British domination at sea. 

The inventor of the modern submarine was an under- 
graduate of Yale named David Bushnell ; his famous 
Turtle, according to the great British authority, Sir William 
White, formerly Chief Naval Constructor of the British 
navy, contained every fundamental principle of " buoy- 
ancy, stability, and control of depth " which are found 
in the modern submarine ; "it cannot be claimed," he 
said in 1905, " that any new principle of design has been 
discovered or applied since Bushnell. . . . He showed the 
way to all his successors. . . . Although alternative 
methods of fulfilling essentials have been introduced and 
practically tested, in the end BushnelPs plans in substance 
have been found the best." The chief inspiration of 
Bushnell's work was a natural hostility to Great Britain, 
which was at that time engaged in war with his own 
country ; his submarine, invented in 1777, was intended 
to sink the British warships which were then anchored 


off the American coast, break the communications of 
Great Britain with her revolting colonies, and in this way 
win our liberty. Bushnell did not succeed in this am- 
bitious enterprise for reasons which it is hardly necessary 
to set forth in this place ; the fact which I wish to empha- 
size is that he regarded his submarine as an agency which 
would make it possible for the young United States, a 
weak naval power, to deprive Great Britain, the dominant 
sea power, of its supremacy. His successor, Robert 
Fulton, was inspired by a similar ambition. In 1801 
Fulton took his Nautilus into the harbour of Brest, and 
blew a merchant vessel into a thousand pieces ; this 
dramatic experiment was intended to convince Napoleon 
that there was one way in which he could destroy the 
British fleet and thus deprive England of her sea control. 
Dramatic as this demonstration was, it did not convince 
Napoleon of the value of the submarine ; Fulton there- 
fore took his ship to England and exhibited it to William 
Pitt, who was then Prime Minister. The great statesman 
was much impressed, but he did not regard the submarine 
as an innovation that should arouse much enthusiasm in 
England. " If we adopt this kind of fighting," he said, 
" it will be the end of all navies." 

Despite his own forebodings, Pitt sent Fulton to St. 
Vincent, who was then the First Lord of the Admiralty. 

" Pitt is the biggest fool in the world," remarked the 
head of the victorious British navy. " Why does he 
encourage a kind of warfare which is useless to those who 
are the masters of the sea, and which, if it succeeds, will 
deprive them of this supremacy ? " 

The reason for St. Vincent's opposition is apparent. 
He formed the conception of the submarine which has 
prevailed almost up to the present time. In his opinion, 
a submarine was a vessel which could constantly remain 
under the surface, approach great warships unseen and 
blow them to pieces at will. This being the case, a nation 
which possessed two or three successfully working engines 
of this kind could apparently wipe out the entire British 
fleet. It therefore needed no argument to show that this 
was a weapon which was hardly likely to prove useful 
to the British navy. If the submarine could fulfil its 
appointed mission, it would give the control of the sea 
to that nation which used it successfully ; but since Great 


Britain already controlled the sea, the new type of war 
craft was superfluous to her. In the hands of a weak 
naval power, however, which had everything to gain and 
nothing to lose, if might supply the means of overthrow- 
ing the British Empire. Could one submarine destroy 
another, it would present no particular menace, for then, 
in order to control the sea, it would merely be necessary 
to build a larger under-water fleet than that of any pro- 
spective enemy : but how could vessels which spent all 
their time under the water, in the dark, ever get a chance 
to come to blows ? From these considerations it seemed 
apparent to St. Vincent and other British experts of his 
time that the best interests of the British Empire would 
be served, not by developing the submarine, but by 
suppressing it. Fulton's biographer intimates that the 
British Government offered Fulton a considerable amount 
of money to take his submarine back to America and 
forget about it ; and there is a letter of Fulton's to Lord 
Granville, saying that " not for 20,000 a year would I 
do what you suggest." But there seemed to be no market 
for his invention, and Fulton therefore returned to America 
and subsequently gave all his time to exploiting the 
steamboat. On the defensive powers of the under-water 
vessel he also expressed the prevailing idea. " Sub- 
marine," he said, " cannot fight submarine." 

The man who designed the type of submarine which 
has become the standard in all modern navies, John P. 
Holland, similarly advocated it as the only means of 
destroying the British navy. Holland was an American 
of Irish origin ; he was a member of the Fenian brother- 
hood, and it was his idea that his vessel could be used to 
destroy the British navy, blockade the British coast, and, 
as an inevitable consequence, secure freedom for Ireland. 
This is the reason why his first successful boat was known 
as the Fenian Ram, despite the fact that it was not a 
" ram " at all. And the point on which Holland always 
insisted was that the submarine vessel was a unique vessel 
in naval warfare, because there was no " answer " to it. 
' There is nothing that you can send against it," he glee- 
fully exclaimed, " not even itself." 

Parliamentary debates in the late nineties indicated 
that British naval leaders entertained this same idea. In 
1900, Viscount Goschen, who was then the First Lord of 


the Admiralty, dismissed the submarine as unworthy of 
consideration. " The idea of submarine navigation," he 
said, " is a morbid one. We need pay no attention to the 
submarine in naval warfare. The submarine is the arm 
of weaker powers." But Mr. Arnold-Forster, who was 
himself soon to become a member of the Admiralty, took 
exception to these remarks. " If the First Lord," he 
said, " had suggested that we should not build submarines 
because the problems which control them are not yet 
solved, I should have hesitated to combat his argument. 
But the First Lord has not said so : he has said that the 
Admiralty did not care to undertake any project for sub- 
marines because this type of boat could never be anything 
but the arm of the feeble. However, if this boat is made 
practical, the nation which possesses it will cease to be 
feeble and become in reality powerful. More than any 
other nation do we have reason to fear the submarine. 
It is, therefore, not wise to wait with indifference while 
other nations work at the solution of this problem with- 
out trying to solve it ourselves." " The question of the 
best way of meeting submarine attack," said Viscount 
Goschen at another time, " is receiving much considera- 
tion. It is in this direction that practical suggestions 
would be valuable. It seems certain that the reply to 
this weapon must be looked for in other directions than 
in building submarine boats ourselves, for it is clear that 
one submarine cannot fight another." 

This prepossession dominated all professional naval 
minds in all countries, until the outbreak of the Great 
War. Yet the war had lasted only a few months when 
the idea was shown to be absurd. Practical hostilities soon 
demonstrated, as already said, that not only was the sub- 
marine able to fight another boat of the same type, but 
that it was the most effective anti-submarine agency 
which we possessed so effective that the British Admir- 
alty at once began the design of a special type of hunting 
submarine having a high under-water speed. 

The fact is that the popular mind, in its attitude toward 
this new type of craft, is still too much under the spell of 
Jules Verne. There is still the disposition to look upon 
the submarine as an insidious vessel which spends practi- 
cally all of its time under the water, stealthily slinks along, 
never once betraying its presence, creeps up at will to its 

1917-18] SUBMERGING 229 

enemy and discharges its torpedo. Yet the description 
which these pages have already given of its operations 
shows the falsity of this idea. It is important that we 
should keep constantly in mind the fact that the sub- 
marine is only occasionally a submarine ; and that for 
the greater part of its career it is a surface boat. In the 
long journeys which the German U-boats made from the 
Heligoland Bight around Scotland and Ireland to those 
great hunting grounds which lay in the Atlantic trade 
routes, they travelled practically all the time on the surface 
of the water. The weary weeks during which they cruised 
around, looking for their victims, they also spent almost 
entirely on the surface. There were virtually only two 
circumstances which compelled them to disappear beneath 
the waves. The first of these was the occasion on which 
the submarine detected a merchant ship ; in this case 
it submerged, for the success of its attempt to torpedo 
depended entirely upon its operating unseen. The second 
occasion which made it necessary to submerge was when 
it spied a destroyer or other dangerous patrolling craft ; 
the submarine, as has been said, could not fight a vessel 
of this type with much chance of success. Thus the 
ability to submerge was merely a quality that was utilized 
only in those crises when the submarine either had to 
escape a vessel which was stronger than itself or planned 
to attack one which was weaker. 

The time taken up by these disappearances amounted 
to only a fraction of the total period consumed in a cruise. 
Yet the fact that the submarine had to keep itself momen- 
tarily ready to make these disappearances is precisely the 
reason why it was obliged to spend the larger part of its 
time on the surface. The submarine has two sets of 
engines, one for surface travel and the other for subsurface 
travel. An oil-engine propels it on the top of the water, 
but this consumes a large amount of air, and, for this 
reason, it cannot be used when travelling under the sur- 
face. As soon as the vessel dives, therefore, it changes 
its motive power to an electric motor, which makes no 
inroads on the oxygen needed for sustaining the life of 
its crew. But the physical limitation of size prevents 
the submarine from carrying large storage batteries, which 
is only another way of saying that its cruising radius 
under the water is extremely small, not more than fifty 


or sixty miles. In order to recharge these batteries and 
gain motive power for subsurface travel, the submarine 
has to come to the surface. Yet the simple fact that the 
submarine can accomplish its destructive work only when 
submerged, and that it can avoid its enemy only by diving, 
makes it plain that it must always hold itself in readiness 
to submerge on a moment's notice and remain under water 
the longest possible time. That is, its storage batteries 
must always be kept at their highest efficiency ; they must 
not be wasted by unnecessary travelling under the water ; 
the submarine, in other words, must spend all its time 
on the surface, except those brief periods when it is 
attempting to attack a merchant ship or escape an enemy. 
Almost the greatest tragedy in the life of a submarine is 
to meet a surface enemy, such as a destroyer, when its 
electric batteries are exhausted. It cannot submerge, for 
it can stay submerged only when it is in motion, unless it 
is in water shallow enough to permit it to rest on the 
bottom. Even though it may have a little electricity, 
and succeed in getting under water, it cannot stay there 
long, for its electric power will soon be used up, and there- 
fore it is soon faced with the alternative of coming to the 
surface and surrendering, or of being destroyed. The 
success of the submarine, indeed its very existence, depends 
upon the vessel spending the largest possible part of its 
time upon the surface, keeping its full supply of electric 
power constantly in reserve, so that it may be able to 
dive at a moment's notice and to remain under the water 
for the maximum period. 

This purely mechanical limitation explains why the 
German submarine was not a submarine in the popularly 
accepted meaning of that term. Yet the fact that this 
vessel remained for the greater part of its existence on 
the surface was no particular disadvantage, so long as it 
was called upon to contend only with surface vessels. 
Even with the larger part of its decks exposed the U-boat 
was a comparatively small object on the vast expanse of 
the sea. I have already made clear the great disadvan- 
tage under which destroyers and other patrolling vessels 
laboured in their attempts to "hunt" this type of enemy. 
A destroyer, small as it is, was an immensely larger object 
than the under-water boat, and the consequence was that 
the lookout on a submarine, proceeding along on the 


surface, could detect the patrolling vessel long before it 
could be observed itself. All the submarine had to do, 
therefore, whenever the destroyer appeared on the horizon, 
was to seek safety under water, remain there until its 
pursuer had passed out of sight, and then rise again and 
resume its operations. Before the adoption of the convoy 
system, when the Allied navies were depending chiefly 
upon the patrol that is, sending destroyers and other 
surface craft out upon the high seas to hunt for the enemy 
the enemy submarines frequently operated in the same 
areas as the patrol vessels, and were only occasionally 
inconvenienced by having to keep under the water to 
conceal their presence. But let us imagine that the 
destroyer, in addition to its depth charges, its torpedoes, 
its guns, and its ability to ram, had still another quality. 
Suppose, for a moment, that, like the submarine, it could 
steam submerged, put up a periscope which would reveal 
everything within the radius of a wide horizon, and that, 
when it had picked up an enemy submarine, it could 
approach rapidly under the water, and discharge a torpedo. 
It is evident that such a manoeuvre as this would have 
deprived the German of the only advantage which it 
possessed over all other war craft its ability to make 
itself unseen. 

No destroyer can accomplish any such magical feat as 
this : indeed, there is only one kind of vessel that can do 
so, and that is another submarine. This illustration im- 
mediately makes it clear why the Allied submarine itself 
was the most destructive enemy of the German submarine. 
When Robert Fulton, John P. Holland, and other authori- 
ties declared that the under-water vessel could not fight 
its own kind, it is evident that they had not themselves 
foreseen the ways in which their inventions were to be 
used. They regarded their craft as ships that would sail 
the larger part of the time under the waves, coming up 
only occasionally to get their bearings and to take in a 
fresh supply of air. It was plain to these pioneers that 
vessels which spent practically all their time submerged 
could not fight each other, for the sufficient reason that 
they could not see each other ; a combat under these 
conditions would resemble a prize-fight between two blind- 
folded pugilists. Neither would such vessels fight upon 
the surface, for, even though they were supplied with guns 


things which did not figure in the early designs of sub- 
marines one boat could decline the combat simply by 
submerging. In the minds of Fulton and Holland an 
engagement between such craft would reduce itself to 
mutual attempts to ram each other under the water, and 
many fanciful pictures of the early days portrayed exciting 
deep-sea battles of this kind, in which submarines, looking 
like mighty sea monsters, provided with huge glaring 
headlights, made terrific lunges at each other. None of 
the inventors foresaw that, in such battles as would 
actually take place, the torpedo would be used, and that 
the submarine which was defeated would succumb to one 
of those same stealthy attacks which it was constantly 
meditating against surface craft. 

Another point of the highest importance is that in a 
conflict of submarine against submarine the Allied boats 
had one great advantage over the German. Hans Rose 
and Valentiner and Moraht and other U-boat commanders, 
as already explained, had to spend most of their time on 
the surface in order to keep their batteries fully supplied 
with electricity, in readiness for the dives that would be 
necessary when the Allied destroyers approached. But 
the Allied submarine commander did not have to main- 
tain this constant readiness ; the reason, it is hardly 
necessary to say, is that the Allied submarine had no 
surface enemies, for there were no German surface craft 
operating on the high seas ; the Grand Fleet at Scapa 
Flow was carefully attending to that very essential detail. 
Occasionally, indeed, our submarines were attacked by 
our own destroyers, but accidents of this kind, though 
uncomfortably frequent, were not numerous enough to 
interfere with the operation I have in mind. The state- 
ment seems almost like a contradiction in terms, yet it is 
entirely true, that, simply because the Allied submarines 
did not have to hold themselves constantly ready to sub- 
merge, they could in fact spend a considerable part of 
their time under the water, for they were not compelled 
to economize electric power so strictly. This gave them 
a great advantage in hunting the U-boats. British and 
American submarines could fully charge their batteries, 
drop under water and cruise around with enough speed 
to maintain a horizontal position at " periscope depth," 
that is, a depth just sufficient to enable them to project 

1917-18] SUBMARINE HAUNTS 233 

the periscope above the water whenever desired. This 
speed was so very slow about one mile an hour that it 
could be kept up an entire day without exhausting the 
electric batteries. 

The net result was this : The German submarine neces- 
sarily sailed most of the time on the surface with its conning- 
tower and deck exposed, whereas the Allied submarine 
when on its hunting grounds, spent all of the daylight 
hours under water, with only the periscope visible from 
time to time for a few seconds. Just as the German 
U-boat could " spot " an Allied destroyer at a great 
distance without being itself seen, so could the periscope 
invariably see the German submarine on the surface long 
before this tiny object came within the view of a U-boat 
conning-tower. Our submarine commander could remain 
submerged, sweep the ocean with his periscope until he 
had picked up the German enemy ; then, still under water, 
and almost invariably unseen, he could steal up to a 
position within range, and discharge a torpedo into its 
fragile side. The German submarine received that same 
treatment which it was itself administering to harmless 
merchantmen ; it was torpedoed without warning ; inas- 
much, however, as it was itself a belligerent vessel, the 
proceeding violated no principle of international law. 


The Allied submarines, like many other patrol craft, 
spent much of their time in those restricted waters which 
formed the entrances to the British Isles. Their favourite 
places were the English Channel, St. George's Channel, 
which forms the southern entrance to the Irish Sea, and 
the northern passage-way between Scotland and Ireland. 
At these points, it may be remembered, the cargo ships 
could usually be found sailing singly, either entirely un- 
escorted, or escorted inadequately, while on their way 
to join a convoy or to their destinations after the dispersal 
of a convoy ; these areas were thus almost the only places 
where the German submarines had much chance of attack- 
ing single vessels. The territory was divided into squares, 
each one of which was indicated by a letter : and the 
section assigned to each submarine was known as its 


" billet." Under ordinary circumstances, the Allied 
submarine spent all its time, while patrolling, on its own 
particular " billet " ; only in case the pursuit of an enemy 
led it outside the " square " was it permissible to leave. 
Allied submarines also hunted the U-boats in the North 
Sea on the routes which the latter had to take in coming 
out or returning through the passages in the German 
mine-fields of the Heligoland Bight, or through the Skager 

As previously explained, in the daytime the Allied sub- 
marine remained under the water, its periscope exposed 
for a short time every fifteen minutes or so, sweeping 
the sea for a distance of many miles. As soon as darkness 
set in, the boat usually emerged, began taking in new 
air and recharging its batteries, the crew seizing the 
opportunity to stretch their legs and catch a welcome 
glimpse of the external world. The simple fact that the 
Allied submarines spent the larger part of their time under 
water, while the German spent the larger part of their 
time on the surface, gave our boats a great military advan- 
tage over the foe, but it likewise made existence in our 
submarine service more arduous. Even on the coldest 
winter days there could be no artificial heat, for the 
precious electricity could not be spared for that purpose, 
and the temperature inside the submarine was the tem- 
perature of the water in which it sailed. The close atmos- 
phere, heavily laden also with the smell of oil from the 
engines and the odours of cooking, and the necessity of 
going for days at a time without a bath or even a wash, 
added to the discomfort. The stability of a submerged 
submarine is by no means perfect ; the vessel is constantly 
rolling, and a certain number of the crew, even the experi- 
enced men, are frequently seasick. This movement 
sometimes made it almost impossible to stay in a bunk 
and sleep for any reasonable period ; the poor seaman 
would perhaps doze off, but a lurch of the vessel would 
send him sprawling on the deck. One could hardly write, 
for it was too cold, or read, for there was little light ; 
and because of the motion of the vessel, it was difficult to 
focus one's eyes on the page. A limited amount of smok- 
ing was permitted, but the air was sometimes so vitiated 
that only the most vigorous and incessant puffing could 
keep a cigarette alight. One of the most annoying things 


about the submarine existence is the fact that the air 
condenses on the sides as the coldness increases, so that 
practically everyth ng becomes wet ; as the sailor lies in 
his bunk this moisture is precipitated upon him like rain- 
drops. This combination of discomforts usually produced, 
after spending a few hours under the surface, that mental 
state commonly known as " dopey." 

The usual duration of a " cruise " was eight days, and 
by the end of that time many of the crew were nearly 
" all in," and some of them entirely so. But the physical 
sufferings were the least discomfiting. Any moment the 
boat was likely to hit one of the mines the Germans were 
always planting. A danger which was particularly vexa- 
tious was that a British or an American submarine was 
just about as likely to be attacked by Allied surface craft 
as the Germans themselves. At the beginning, recog- 
nition signals were arranged by which it was expected 
that an Allied under-water craft, coming to the surface, 
could make its identity known to a friendly warship ; 
sometimes these signals succeeded, but more frequently 
they failed, and the attacks which British and American 
destroyers made upon their own submarines demonstrated 
that there was no certainty that such signals would offer 
any protection. A rather grim order directed all destroyers 
and other patrol craft to sink any submarine on sight, 
unless there was positive information that a friendly 
submarine was operating in the neighbourhood. To a 
large extent, therefore, the life of our submarine sailors 
was the same as that of the Germans. Our men know 
how it feels to have a dozen depth charges explode around 
them, for not infrequently they have had to endure this 
sort of thing from their own comrades. Mistakes of this 
sort, even though not very numerous, were so likely to 
happen at any time that whenever an Allied submarine 
saw an Allied destroyer at a distance, it usually behaved 
just as a German would have behaved under the same 
conditions : it dived precipitately to the safety of deep 
water. Our men, that is, did not care to take the risk of 
a discussion with the surface craft ; it was more prudent 
to play the part of an enemy. One day one of the Ameri- 
can submarines, lying on the surface, saw an American 
destroyer, and, cheered in their loneliness by the sight of 
such a friendly vessel, waited for it to approach, making 


all the identification signals carefully set down in the 
books. Instead of a cordial greeting, however, about 
twenty rounds of projectiles began falling about the 
L-boat, which as hastily as possible dropped to sixty feet 
under the surface. In a few minutes depth charges began 
exploding around him in profusion, the plates of the vessel 
shook violently, the lights went out, and the end seemed 
near. Making a last effort, the American submarine rose 
to the surface, sent up all the recognition signals the 
officers could think of, and this time with success. The 
destroyer approached, the commander shouting from the 
bridge : 

" Who are you ? " 

" American submarine A L-10." 

" Good luck, old man," came a now familiar voice from 
the bridge. " This is Bill." 

The commander of the destroyer and the commander of 
the submarine had been room-mates at Annapolis ! 

In other ways our submarine force passed through the 
same experiences as the Germans. Its adventures shed 
the utmost light upon this campaign against merchant- 
men which the Germans had depended upon to win the 
war. The observer at the periscope was constantly 
spotting huge Allied merchantmen making their way into 
port. The great ships sailed on, entirely oblivious of the 
periscope and the eye of the British or American watcher 
fixed upon them. 

" How easy to sink her ! " the observer would say to 
himself. This game in which the Germans were engaged 
was a dangerous one, because of Allied anti-submarine 
craft ; but, when it came to attacking merchant ships, 
it was the easiest thing in the world. After a few weeks 
in a submarine, it grew upon our men that the wonder 
was not that the Germans had sunk so many merchant 
ships, but that they had sunk so few. Such an experience 
emphasized the conviction, which was prevalent in both 
the British and American navies, that the Germans were 
not particularly skilful at the occupation which seemed to 
be so congenial to them. Indeed, there are few things in 
the world that appear so absolutely helpless as a great 
merchant ship when observed through the periscope of an 
under-water boat. 

Whenever an Allied submarine met its enemy the con- 

1917-18] THE "E-35" 237 

test was usually a short one. The issue, one way or the 
other, was determined in a few minutes. On rare occa- 
sions there were attempts to ram ; almost invariably, 
however, it was the torpedo which settled the conflict. 
If our boat happened to be on the surface when it sighted 
the German, which, however, was very seldom the case, 
the first manoeuvre was to dive as quickly and as unosten- 
tatiously as possible. If it succeeded in getting under 
before the U-boat discovered its presence, it then crept 
up, guided only by the periscope, until it had reached a 
spot that was within range. The combat, as was the case 
so frequently in this war, was one-sided. The enemy 
submarine seldom knew its assailant was anywhere in the 
neighbourhood ; a merchant ship, from its relatively high 
bridge, could sometimes see the torpedo approach and 
turn out of its way ; but it was almost impossible to see 
a wake from the low conning-tower or periscope of a sub- 
marine, and no one except the observer had a glimpse of 
the surface. The small size of the submarine was in itself 
a great protection ; we launched many torpedoes, but 
only occasionally scored a hit. The missile would usually 
pass a few feet ahead or astern, or would glide over or 
under the submerged hulk, perhaps a few inches only 
saving it from destruction. Once an American torpedo 
hit its enemy squarely on the side but failed to explode ! 
If the torpedo once struck and functioned, however, it 
was all over in a few seconds. A huge geyser of water 
would leap into the air ; and the submarine would some- 
times rise^at the same time, or parts of it would fly in a 
dozen directions ; then the waters would gradually sub- 
side, leaving a mammoth oil patch, in which two or three 
members of the crew might be discovered struggling in 
the waves. Most of the men in the doomed vessel never 
knew what had struck them. 

Thus, early one evening in May, 1918, the E-35, a 
British submarine, was patrolling its billet in the Atlantic, 
about two hundred miles west of Gibraltar. About two 
or three miles on the port beam a long, low-lying object 
was distinguished on the surface ; the appearance was 
nondescript, but, to the practised eye at the periscope, it 
quickly took shape as an enemy submarine. As the sea 
was rather rough, the E-35 dived to forty feet ; after a 
little while it ascended to twenty-six, put up the periscope, 


and immediately saw, not far away, a huge enemy sub- 
marine proceeding north at a leisurely pace, never once 
suspecting that one of its own kind was on its trail. In 
order to get within range and cut the German off, the 
Britisher dived again to forty feet, went ahead for twenty 
minutes with all the speed it could muster, and again came 
near enough to the surface to put up its periscope. Now 
it was directly astern ; still the British submarine was not 
near enough for a sure shot, so again it plunged beyond 
periscope depth, coming up at intervals during the next 
hour, each time observing with satisfaction that it was 
lessening the distance between itself and its prey. When 
the range had been decreased to two hundred and fifty 
yards, and when the E-35 had succeeded in getting in 
such a position that it could fire its torpedo, the missile 
was launched in the direction of the foe. But this was 
only another of the numerous occasions when the shot 
missed. Had the German submarine been a surface 
ship, it would have seen the wake and probably escaped 
by flight ; but still it sailed nonchalantly on its way, 
never suspecting for a moment that a torpedo had missed 
its vitals by only a few feet. Soon the E-35 crept still 
closer, and fired two torpedoes simultaneously from its 
bow tubes. Both hit at the same time. Not a glimpse of 
the German submarine was seen from that moment. A 
terrific explosion was heard, a mountain of water rose in 
the air, then in a few seconds everything was still. A 
small patch of oil appeared on the surface ; this gradually 
expanded in size until it covered a great area ; and then 
a few German sailors came up and started swimming 
toward the British vessel. 

We Americans had seven submarines based on Bere- 
haven, Ireland, whose " billets " were located in the 
approaches to the Irish Sea. The most spectacular 
achievement of any one of our boats was a curious mix-up 
with a German submarine, the details of which have never 
been accurately ascertained, but the practical outcome of 
which was indisputably the sinking of the German boat. 
After a week's hard work on patrol, the A L-2 was running 
back to her base on the surface when the lookout sighted 
a periscope. The A L-2 at once changed her course, the 
torpedo was made ready to fire, when the quiet of the 
summer afternoon was rent by a terrific roar and explosion. 


It was quite apparent that something exceedingly dis- 
tressing had happened to the German submarine ; the 
American turned, and made a steep dive, in an attempt 
to ram the enemy, but failed. Listening with the hydro- 
phone, the A L-2 could hear now the whirring of pro- 
pellers, which indicated that the submarine was attempting 
to gain surface and having difficulty in doing so, and now 
and then the call letters of the German under-water 
signal set, which seemed to show that the vessel was in 
distress and was sending appeals for aid. According to 
the Admiralty records, a German submarine operating 
in that area never returned to port ; so it seems clear 
enough that this German w r as lost. Commander R. C. 
Grady, who commanded the American submarine division, 
believes that the German spotted the American boat 
before it was itself seen, that it launched a torpedo, 
that this torpedo made an erratic course (a not infre- 
quent trick of a torpedo) around our ship, returned 
and hit the vessel from which it started. There are 
others who think that there were two German sub- 
marines in the neighbourhood, that one fired at our boat, 
missed it, and that its torpedo sped on and struck its 
mate. Probably the real facts about the happening will 
never be explained. 

Besides the actual sinkings to their credit, the Allied 
submarines accomplished strategic results of the utmost 
importance. We had reason to believe that the Germans 
feared them almost more than any other agency, unless 
it was the mine. " We got used to your depth charges," 
said the commander of a captured submarine, " and did 
not fear them ; but we lived in constant dread of your 
submarines. We never knew what moment a torpedo 
was going to hit us." So greatly did the Germans fear 
this attack that they carefully avoided the areas in which 
the Allied under-water boats were operating. We soon 
learned that we could keep any section free of the Germans 
which we were able to patrol with our own submarines. It 
also soon appeared that the German U-boats would not 
fight our subsurface vessels. At first this may seem 
rather strange ; certainly a combat between two ships 
of the same kind, size, and armament would seem to be 
an equal one ; the disinclination of the German to give 
battle under such conditions would probably strike the 


layman as sheer cowardice. But in this attitude the 
Germans were undoubtedly right. 

The business of their submarines was not to fight war- 
ships ; it was exclusively to destroy merchantmen. The 
demand made upon the U-boat commanders was to get 
" tonnage ! tonnage ! " Germany could win the war in 
only one way : that was by destroying Allied shipping to 
such an extent that the Allied sea communications would 
be cut, and the supplies of men and munitions and food 
from the United States shut off. For this tremendous 
task Germany had an inadequate number of submarines 
and torpedoes. Only by economizing to the utmost 
extent on these vessels and these weapons could she 
entertain any hope of success. Had Germany possessed 
an unlimited quantity of submarines and torpedoes, she 
might perhaps have profitably expended some of them in 
warfare on British " H-boats " and American " L-boats " ; 
or, had there been a certainty of " getting " an Allied 
submarine with each torpedo fired, it would have been 
justifiable to use these weapons, small as was the supply. 
The fact was, however, that the Allies expended many 
torpedoes for every submarine sunk ; and this was clearly 
a game which Germany could not afford to play. Evi- 
dently the U-boats had orders to slip under the water 
whenever an Allied submarine was seen ; at least this 
was the almost invariable procedure. Thus the Allied 
submarines compelled their German enemies to do the 
one thing which worked most to their disadvantage : that 
is, to keep submerged when in the same area with our 
submarines ; this not only prevented them from attacking 
merchantmen, but forced them to consume their electric 
power, which, as I have already explained, greatly dimin- 
ished their efficiency as attacking ships. 

The operations of Allied submarines also greatly 
diminished the value of the " cruiser " submarines which 
Germany began to construct in 1917. These great sub- 
surface vessels were introduced as an " answer " to the 
convoy system. The adoption of the convoy, as I have 
already explained, made it ineffective for the Germans to 
hunt far out at sea. Until the Allies had put this plan 
into operation, the relatively small German U-boats could 
go two or three hundred miles into the Atlantic and pick 
off almost at will the merchant ships, which were then pro- 


ceeding alone and unescorted. But now the destroyers 
went out to a point two or three hundred miles from 
the British coast, formed a protecting screen around the 
convoy, and escorted the grouped ships into restricted 
waters. The result of this was to drive the submarines 
into these coastal waters ; here again, however, they had 
their difficulties with destroyers, subchasers, submarines, 
and other patrol craft. It will be recalled that no 
destroyer escort was provided for the merchant convoys 
on their way across the Atlantic ; the Allies simply did 
not have the destroyers for this purpose. The Germans 
could not send surface raiders to attack these convoys in 
mid-ocean, first, because their surface warships could not 
escape from their ports in sufficient numbers to accomplish 
any decisive results, and, secondly, because Allied surface 
warships accompanied every convoy to protect them 
against any such attack. There was only one way in 
which the Germans could attack the convoys in mid- 
ocean. A fleet of great ocean-going submarines, which 
could keep the sea for two or three months, might con- 
ceivably destroy the whole convoy system at a blow. 
The scheme was so obvious that Germany in the summer of 
1917 began building ships of this type. They were about 
300 feet long, displaced about 3,000 tons, carried fuel and 
supplies enough to maintain themselves for three or four 
months from their base, and, besides torpedoes, had six-inch 
guns that could outrange a destroyer. By the time the 
armistice was signed Germany had built about twenty of 
these ships. But they possessed little offensive value 
against merchantmen. The Allied submarines and 
destroyers kept them from operating in the submarine 
zone. They are so difficult to manoeuvre that not only 
could they not afford to remain in the neighbourhood of 
our anti-submarine craft, but they were not successful 
in attacking merchant vessels. They never risked tor- 
pedoing a convoy, and rarely even a single vessel, but 
captured a number by means of their superior gunfire. 
These huge " cruiser submarines," which aroused such 
fear in the civilian mind when the news of their existence 
first found its way into print, proved to be the least 
harmful of any of the German types. 

The Allied submarines accomplished another result of 
the utmost importance. They prevented the German 


U-boats from hunting in groups or flotillas. All during 
1917 and 1918 the popular mind conjured up frightful 
pictures of U-boat squadrons, ten or fifteen together, lying 
in wait for our merchantmen or troopships. Hardly a 
passenger crossed the ocean without seeing a dozen German 
submarines constantly pursuing his ship. In a speech 
which I made to a group of American editors who visited 
England in September, 1918, I touched upon this point. 
" I do not know," I told these journalists, " how many 
submarines you gentlemen saw on the way over here, but 
if you had the usual experience, you saw a great many. 
I have seen many accounts in our papers on this subject. 
If you were to believe these accounts, you could only con- 
clude that many vessels have crossed the ocean with diffi- 
culty because submarines were so thick that they scraped 
all the paint off the vessels' sides. All of .these accounts 
are, of course, unofficial. They get into the American 
papers in various ways. It is to be regretted that they 
should be published and thereby give a false impression. 
Some time ago I saw a letter from one of our men who 
came over here on a ship bound into the English Channel. 
This letter was written to his girl. He said that he 
intended to take the letter on shore and slip it into a 
post box so that the censor should not see it. The censor 
did see it and it eventually came to me. This man was 
evidently intent on impressing on his girl the dangers 
through which he had passed. It related that the vessel 
on which he had made the voyage had met two or three 
submarines a day ; that two spies were found on board 
and hanged ; and it said, ' When we arrived off our port 
there were no less than eighteen submarines waiting for 
us. Can you beat it ? ' 

Perhaps in the early days of the war the German U-boats 
did hunt in flotillas ; if so, however, they were compelled 
to abandon the practice as soon as the Allied submarines 
began to operate effectively. I have already indicated 
the circumstances which reduced their submarine opera- 
tions to a lonely enterprise. In the open sea it was im- 
possible to tell whether a submarine was a friend or an 
enemy. We never knew whether a submarine on the 
surface was one of our own or a German ; as a result, as 
already said, we gave orders to attack any under-water 
boat, unless we had absolute knowledge that it was a 


friend. Unquestionably the Germans had the same 
instructions. It would therefore be dangerous for them 
to attempt to operate in groups, for they would have no 
way of knowing that their supposed associate was not an 
Allied or an American submarine. Possibly, even after 
our submarines had become exceedingly active, the Ger- 
mans may have attempted to cruise in pairs ; one explana- 
tion of the strange adventure of the A L-2, as said above, 
was that there were two U-boats in the neighbourhood ; 
yet the fact remains that there is no well-established case 
on record in which they did so. This circumstance that 
they had to operate singly was a strategic point greatly 
to our advantage, especially, as I shall describe, when we 
began transporting American troops. 



WAS there no more satisfactory way of destroying sub- 
marines than by pursuing them with destroyers, sloops, 
chasers, and other craft in the open seas ? It is hardly 
surprising that our methods impressed certain of our 
critics as tedious and ill-conceived, and that a mere glance 
at a small map of the North Sea suggested a far more 
reasonable solution of the problem. The bases from which 
the German submarines found their way to the great 
centres of shipping were Ostend and Zeebrugge on the 
Belgian coast, Wilhelmshaven and Cuxhaven on the Ger- 
man coast, and the harbour of Kiel in the Baltic Sea. 
From all these points the voyage to the waters that lay 
west and south of Ireland was a long and difficult one ; 
in order to reach these hunting grounds the German craft 
had either to pass through the Straits of Dover to the 
south, or through the wide passage-way of the North Sea 
that stretched between the Shetland Islands and Norway, 
and thence sail around the northern coast of Ireland. We 
necessarily had little success in attempting to interfere 
with the U-boats while they were making these lengthy 
open-sea voyages, but concentrated our efforts on trying 
to oppose them after they had reached the critical areas. 
But a casual glance at the map convinced many people 
that our procedure was a mistake. And most newspaper 
readers in those days were giving much attention to this 
map. Many periodicals, published in Great Britain and 
the United States, were fond of exhibiting to their readers 
diagrams of the North Sea ; these diagrams contained one 
heavy black bar drawn across the Straits of Dover and 
another drawn across the northern passage from Scotland 
to Norway. The accompanying printed matter informed 





the public that these pictures illustrated the one effective 
" answer " to the submarine. The black bars of printer's 
ink represented barrages of mines and nets, which, if 
they were once laid between the indicated spots, would 
blow to pieces any submarine which attempted to force 
a way across. Not a single German U-boat could there- 
fore succeed in getting out of the North Sea. All the 
trans-Atlantic ships which contained the food supplies 
and war materials so essential to Allied success would thus 
be able to land on the west coast of England and France ; 
the submarine menace would automatically disappear 

U.S. Minefields _ 

British Minefields 


Just how many German submarines were sunk in attempting to get by this barrage will never 
be known, for it did its work silently without any observers. It was probably a contributory 
cause of the mutiny which demoralized the German fleet in the autumn of 1918. 

and the war on the sea would be won. Unfortunately, it 
was not only the pictorial artists employed on newspapers 
and magazines who insisted that this was the royal road 
to success. Plenty of naval men, in the United States and 
in Europe, were constantly advancing the contention, 
and statesmen in our own country and in Allied countries 
were similarly fascinated by this programme. When I 
arrived in London, in April, 1917, the great plan of con- 
fining the submarines to their bases was everywhere a 
lively topic of discussion. There was not a London club 
in which the Admiralty was not denounced for its stupidity 
in not adopting such a perfectly obvious plan. The way 


to destroy a swarm of hornets such was the favourite 
simile was to annihilate them in their nests, and not to 
hunt and attack them, one by one, after they had escaped 
into the open. What the situation needed was not a long 
and wearisome campaign, involving unlimited new con- 
struction to offset the increasing losses of life and shipping, 
and altogether too probable defeat in the end, but a swift 
and terrible blow which would end the submarine menace 

The naval officers who expressed fears that, under the 
shipping conditions prevailing in 1917, such a brilliant 
performance could not possibly be carried out in time to 
avoid defeat, merely gained a reputation for timidity and 
lack of resourcefulness. When the First Lord of the 
Admiralty, Winston Churchill, in 1915 declared that the 
British fleet would " dig the Germans out of their holes 
like rats," his remarks did not greatly impress naval 
strategists, but they certainly sounded a note which was 
popular in England. One fact, not generally known at 
that time, demonstrated the futility of the whole idea. 
Most newspaper critics assumed that the barrage from 
Dover to Calais was keeping the submarines out of the 
Channel. That the destroyers, aircraft, and other patrols 
were safely escorting troopships and other vessels across 
the Channel was a fact of which the British public was 
justly proud. Yet it did not necessarily follow that the 
submarines could not use the Channel as a passage-way 
from their German bases to their operating areas in the 
focus of Allied shipping routes. The mines and nets in 
the Channel, of which so much was printed in the first 
three years of the war, did not offer an effective barrier to 
the submarines. This was due to various reasons too 
complicated for description in a book of this untechnical 
nature. The unusually strong tides and rough weather 
experienced in the vicinity of the Straits of Dover are well 
known. As one British officer expressed it at the time, 
" our experience in attempting to close the Strait has 
involved both blood and tears " blood because of the 
men who were lost in laying the mines and nets, and tears 
because the arduous work of weeks would be swept away 
in a storm of a single night. In addition, at this stage of the 
war the British were still experimenting with mines ; they 
had discovered gradually that the design which they had 


used up to that time the same design which was used in 
the American navy was defective. But the process of 
developing new mines in war-time had proved slow and 
difficult ; and the demands of the army on the munition 
factories had prevented the Admiralty from obtaining a 
sufficient number. The work of the Dover patrols was a 
glorious one, as will appear when all of the facts come to 
public knowledge. But in 1917 this patrol was not pre- 
venting the U-boats from slipping through the Channel. 
The Straits of Dover, at the point w r here this so-called 
barrage was supposed to have existed, is about twenty 
miles wide. The passage-way between Scotland and 
Norway is 250 miles wide. The water in the Channel 
has an average depth of a few fathoms ; in the northern 
expanse of the North Sea it reaches an average depth 
of 600 feet. Mining in such deep waters had never been 
undertaken or even considered before by any nation. 
The English Channel is celebrated for its strong tides and 
stormy weather, but it is not the scene of the tempestuous 
gales which rage so frequently in the winter months in 
these northern waters. If the British navy had not 
succeeded in constructing an effective mine barrier across 
the English Channel, what was the likelihood that success 
would crown an effort to build a much greater obstruction 
in the far more difficult waters to the north ? 

The one point which few understood at that time was 
that the mere building of the barrage would not in itself 
prevent the escape of submarines from the North Sea. 
Besides building such a barrage, it would be necessary to 
protect it with surface vessels. Otherwise German mine- 
sweepers could visit the scene, and sweep up enough of the 
obstruction to make a hole through which their submarines 
could pass. It is evident that, in a barrage extending 250 
miles, it would not be difficult to find some place in which 
to conduct such sweeping operations ; it is also clear that it 
would take a considerable number of patrolling vessels to 
watch such an extensive barrier and to interfere with such 
operations. Moreover, we could not send our mine-layers 
into the North Sea without destroyer escort ; that is, it 
would be necessary to detach a considerable part of our 
forces to protect these ships while they were laying their 
mines. Those responsible for anti-submarine operations 
believed that in the spring and summer of 1917 it would 


have been unwise to detach these anti-submarine vessels 
from the area in which they were performing such indis- 
pensable service. The overwhelming fact was that we 
needed all the surface craft we could assemble for the convoy 
system. The destroyers which we had available for this 
purpose were entirely inadequate ; to have diverted any of 
them for other duties would at that time have meant 
destruction to the Allied cause. The object of placing the 
barrage so far north was to increase the enemy's difficulty 
in attempting to sweep a passage through it and facilitate 
its defence by our forces. The impossibility of defending a 
mine barrier placed too far south was shown by experience 
in that area of the North Sea which was known as the 
" wet triangle." By April, 1917, the British had laid more 
than 30,000 mines in the Bight of Heligoland, and were then 
increasing these obstructions at the rate of 3,000 mines a 
month. Yet this vast explosive field did not prevent the 
Germans from sending their submarines to sea. The enemy 
sweepers were dragging out channels through the mine- 
fields almost as rapidly as the British were putting new 
fields down ; we could not prevent this, because protecting 
vessels could not remain so near the German bases without 
losses from submarine attacks. Moreover, the Germans also 
laid mines in the same area in order to trap the British 
mine-layers ; and these operations resulted in very con- 
siderable losses on each side. These impediments made the 
egress of a submarine a difficult and nerve-racking process ; 
it sometimes required two or three days and the assistance 
of a dozen or so surface vessels to get a few submarines 
through the Heligoland Bight into open waters. Several 
were unquestionably destroyed in the operation, yet the 
activity of submarines in the Atlantic showed that these 
mine-fields had by no means succeeded in proving more than 
a harassing measure. It was estimated that the North Sea 
barrage would require about 400,000 mines, far more than 
existed in the world at that time, and far more than all our 
manufacturing resources could then produce within a 
reasonable period. I have already made the point, and 
I cannot make it too frequently, that time is often the essen- 
tial element in war and in this case it was of vital import- 
ance. Whether a programme is a wise one or not depends 
not only upon the feasibility of the plan itself, but upon 
the time and the circumstances in which it is proposed. In 

1917-18] A NEW TYPE OF MINE 249 

the spring of 1917 the situation which we were facing was 
that the German submarines were destroying Allied shipping 
at the rate of nearly 800,000 tons a month. The one thing 
which was certain was that, if this destruction should con- 
tinue for four or five months, the Allies would be obliged to 
surrender unconditionally. The pressing problem was to 
find methods that would check these depredations and that 
would check them in time. The convoy system was the 
one naval plan the point cannot be made too emphatically 
which in April and May of 1917 held forth the certainty 
of immediately accomplishing this result. Other methods 
of opposing the submarines were developed which magnifi- 
cently supplemented the convoy ; but the convoy, at least 
in the spring and summer of 1917, was the one sure method 
of salvation for the Allied cause. To have started the 
North Sea barrage in the spring and summer of 1917 would 
have meant abandoning the convoy system ; and this 
would have been sheer madness. 

Thus in 1917 the North Sea barrage was not an answer to 
the popular proposal " to dig the Germans out of their holes 
like rats." We did not have a mine which could be laid in 
such deep waters in sufficient numbers to have formed any 
barrier at all ; and even if we had possessed one, the con- 
struction of the barrage would have demanded such an 
enormous number that they could not have been manufac- 
tured in time to finish the barrage until late in the year 
1918. Presently the situation began to change. The prin- 
cipal fact which made possible this great enterprise was the 
invention of an entirely new type of mine. The old mine 
consisted of a huge steel globe, filled with high explosive, 
which could be fired only by contact. That is, it was 
necessary for the surface of a ship, such as a submarine, to 
strike against the surface of the mine, and in this way start 
the mechanism which ignited the explosive charge. The 
fact that this immediate contact was essential enormously 
increased the difficulty of successfully mining waters that 
range in depth from 400 to 900 feet. If the mines were laid 
anywhere near the surface, the submarine, merely by diving 
beneath them, could avoid all danger ; if they were laid any 
considerable depth, it could sail with complete safety above 
them. Thus, if such a mine were to be used at all, we should 
have had to plant several layers, one under the other, down 
to a depth of about 250 feet, so that the submarine, at 


whatever depth it might be sailing, would be likely to strike 
one of these obstructions. This required such a large 
number of mines as to render the whole project impossible. 
We Americans may take pride in the fact that it was an 
American who invented an entirely new type of mine and 
therefore solved this difficulty. In the summer of 1917 
Mr. Ralph C. Browne, an electrical engineer of Salem, Mass., 
offered a submarine gun for the consideration of Commander 
S. P. Fullinwider, U.S.N., who was then in charge of the 
mining section of the Bureau of Ordnance. As a submarine 
gun this invention did not seem to offer many chances of 
success, but Commander Fullinwider realized that it com- 
prised a firing device of excellent promise. The Bureau of 
Ordnance, assisted by Mr. Browne, spent the summer and 
autumn experimenting with this contrivance and perfecting 
it ; the English mining officers who had been sent to 
America to co-operate with our navy expressed great 
enthusiasm over it ; and some time about the beginning of 
August, 1917, the Bureau of Ordnance came to the con- 
clusion that it was a demonstrated success. The details of 
Mr. Browne's invention are too intricate for description in 
this place, but its main point is comprehensible enough. 
Its great advantage was that it was not necessary for the 
submarine to strike the mine in order to produce the desired 
explosion. The mine could be located at any depth and 
from it a long " antenna," a thin copper cable, reached up 
to within a few feet of the surface, where it was supported 
in that position by a small metal buoy. Any metallic 
substance, such as the hull of a submarine, simply by 
striking this antenna at any point, would produce an 
electric current, which, instantaneously transmitted to the 
mine, would cause this mine to explode. The great 
advantage of this device is at once apparent. Only about 
one fourth the number of mines required under the old con- 
ditions would now be necessary. The Mining Section 
estimated that 100,000 mines would form a barrier that 
would be extremely dangerous to submarines passing over 
it or through it, whereas, under the old conditions, about 
400,000 would have been required. This implies more than 
a mere saving in manufacturing resources ; it meant that 
we should need a proportionately smaller number of mine- 
laying ships, crews, officers, bases, and supplies all those 
things which are seldom considered by the amateur in 


warfare, but which are as essential to its prosecution as the 
more spectacular details. 

I wish to emphasize the fact that, in laying such a barrage, 
it was not our object to make an absolute barrier to the 
passage of submarines. To have done this we should have 
needed such a great number of mines that the operation 
would have been impossible. Nor would such an absolute 
barrier have been necessary to success ; a field that could be 
depended upon to destroy one-fourth or one-fifth of the 
submarines that attempted the passage would have repre- 
sented complete success. No enemy could stand such 
losses as these ; and the moral of no crew could have lasted 
long under such conditions. 

Another circumstance which made the barrage a feasible 
enterprise was that by the last of the year 1917 it was realized 
that the submarine had ceased to be a decisive factor in 
the war. It still remained a serious embarrassment, and 
every measure which could possibly thwart it should be 
adopted. But the writings of German officers which have 
been published since the war make it apparent that they 
themselves realized early in 1918 that they would have to 
place their hopes of victory on something else besides the 
submarine. The convoy system and the other methods of 
fighting under-water craft which I have already described 
had caused a great decrease in sinkings. In April of 1917 
the losses were nearly 900,000 tons ; in November of the 
same year they were less than 300,000 tons. 1 Meanwhile, 
the construction of merchant shipping, largely a result of the 
tremendous expansion of American shipbuilding facilities, 
was increasing at a tremendous rate. A diagram of these, 
the two essential factors in the submarine campaign, dis- 
closed such a rapidly rising curve of new shipping, and such 
a rapidly falling curve of sinkings, that the time could be 
easily foreseen when the net amount of Allied shipping, after 
the submarines had done their worst, would show a promis- 
ing increase. But, as stated above, the submarines were 
still a distinct menace ; they were still causing serious 
losses ; and it was therefore very important that we should 
leave no stone unturned toward demonstrating beyond a 
shadow of doubt that warfare as conducted by these craft 
could be entirely put down. The more successfully we 

1 Complete statistics of shipping losses, new ship construction for 1917 
and 1918, will be found in Appendices VIII and IX. 


demonstrated this fact and the more energetically we 
prosecuted every form of opposition, the earlier would the 
enemy's general moral break down and victory be assured. 
In war, where human lives as well as national interests are 
at stake, no thought whatever can be given to expense. 
It is impossible to place a value on human life. Therefore, 
on November 2, 1917, the so-called " Northern Barrage " 
project was officially adopted by both the American and the 
British Governments. When I say that the proposed mine- 
field was as long as the distance from Washington to New 
York, some idea of its magnitude may be obtained. No- 
thing like it had ever been attempted before. The com- 
bined operations involved a mass of detail which the lay 
mind can hardly comprehend. The cost $40,000,000 is 
perhaps not an astonishing figure in the statistics of this 
war, but it gives some conception of the size of the under- 


During the two years preceding the war Captain Reginald 
R. Belknap commanded the mine-laying squadron of the 
Atlantic fleet. Although his force was small, consisting 
principally of two antiquated warships, the Baltimore and 
the San Francisco, Captain Belknap had performed his 
duties conscientiously and ably, and his little squadron 
therefore gave us an excellent foundation on which to 
build. Before the European War the business of mine- 
laying had been unpopular in the American navy as well 
as in the British ; such an occupation, as Sir Eric Geddes 
once said, had been regarded as something like that of 
*' rat catching " ; as hostilities went on, however, and the 
mine developed great value as an anti-submarine weapon, 
this branch of the service began to receive more respectful 
attention. Captain Belknap's work not only provided the 
nucleus out of which the great American mine force was 
developed, but he was chiefly responsible for organizing 
this force. The " active front " of our mine-laying 
squadron was found in the North Sea ; but the sources 
of supply lay in a dozen shipyards and several hundred 
manufacturing plants in the United States. 


We began this work with practically nothing ; we had 
to obtain ships and transform them into mine-layers ; to 
enlist and to train their crews ; to manufacture at least 
100,000 mines ; to create bases both in the United States 
and Scotland ; to transport all of our supplies more than 
3,000 miles of wintry sea, part of the course lying in the 
submarine zone ; and we had to do all this before the real 
business of planting could begin. The fact that the Navy 
made contracts for 100,000 of these new mines before it 
had had the opportunity of thoroughly testing the design 
under service conditions shows the great faith of the Navy 
Department in this new invention. More than 500 con- 
tractors and sub-contractors, located in places as far west 
as the Mississippi River, undertook the work of filling this 
huge order. Wire-rope mills, steel factories, foundries, 
machine shops, electrical works, and even candy makers, 
engaged in this great operation ; all had their troubles 
with labour unions, with the railroads, and with the weather 
that was the terrible winter of 1917-18 ; but in a few 
months trainloads of mine cases great globes of steel 
and other essential parts began to arrive at Norfolk, 
Virginia. This port was the place where the mine parts 
were loaded on ships and sent abroad. The plant which 
was ultimately constructed at this point was able to 
handle 1,000 mines a day ; the industry was not a popular 
one in the neighbourhood, particularly after the Halifax 
explosion had proved the destructive powers of the 
materials in which it dealt. In a few months this estab- 
lishment had handled 25,000,000 pounds of TNT. The 
explosive was melted in steel kettles until it reached about 
the density of hasty pudding ; with the aid of automatic 
devices it was then poured into the mine cases, 300 pounds 
to a case, and thence moved on a mechanical conveyor 
to the end of the pier. Twenty-four cargo vessels, for 
the most part taken from the Great Lakes, carried these 
cargoes to the western coast of Scotland. Beginning in 
February, 1918, two or three of these ships sailed every 
eight days from Norfolk, armed against submarines and 
manned by naval crews. The fact that these vessels 
were slow made them an easy prey for the under-water 
enemy ; one indeed was sunk, with the loss of forty-one 
men ; regrettable as was this mishap, it represented the 
only serious loss of the whole expedition. 


The other vital points were Newport, Rhode Island, 
where the six mine-layers were assembled ; and Fort 
William and Kyle of Lochalsh on the western coast of 
Scotland, which were the disembarking points for the 
ships transporting the explosives. Captain Belknap's 
men were very proud of their mine-layers, and in many 
details they represented an improvement over anything 
which had been hitherto employed in such a service. At 
this point I wish to express my very great appreciation 
of the loyal and devoted services rendered by Captain 
Belknap. An organizer of rare ability, this officer deserves 
well of the nation for the conspicuous part which he 
played in the development of the North Sea Mine Barrage 
from start to finish. Originally, these mine-layers had 
been coastwise vessels ; two of them were the Bunker Hill 
and the Massachusetts, which for years had been " outside 
line " boats, running from New York to Boston ; all had 
dropped the names which had served them in civil life and 
were rechristened for the most part with names which 
eloquently testified to their American origin Canonicus, 
Shawmut, Quinnebaug, Housatonic, Saranac, Roanoke, 
Aroostook, and Canandaigua. These changes in names 
were entirely suitable, for by the time our forces had 
completed their alterations the ships bore few resem- 
blances to their former state. The cabins and saloons 
had been gutted, leaving the hulls little more than empty 
shells ; three decks for carrying mines had been installed ; 
on all these decks little railroad tracks had been built on 
which the mines could be rolled along the lower decks to 
the elevators and along the upper mine deck to the stern 
and dropped into the sea. Particularly novel details, 
something entirely new in mine-layers, were the elevators, 
the purpose of which was to bring the mines rapidly from 
the lower decks to the launching track. So rapidly did 
the work progress, and so well were the crews trained, 
that in May, 1918, the first of these ten ships weighed 
anchor and started for their destination in Scotland. 
Already our navy had selected as bases the ports of Inver- 
ness and Invergordon, on Moray Firth, harbours which 
were reasonably near the waters in which the mines were 
to be laid. From Invergordon the Highland Railway 
crosses Scotland to Lochalsh, and from Inverness the 
Caledonian Canal runs to Fort William. These two 


transportation lines the Highland Railway and the 
Caledonian Canal served as connecting links in our com- 
munications. If we wish a complete picture of our opera- 
tion, we must call to mind first the hundreds of factories 
in all parts of our country, working day and night, making 
the numerous parts of these instruments of destruction 
and their attendant mechanisms ; then hundreds of freight 
cars carrying them to the assembling plant at Norfolk, 
Virginia ; then another small army of workmen at this 
point mixing their pasty explosive, heating it to a boiling 
point, and pouring the concoction into the spherical steel 
cases ; then other groups of men moving the partially 
prepared mines to the docks and loading them on the 
cargo ships ; then these ships quietly putting to sea, and, 
after a voyage of ten days or two weeks, as quietly slipping 
into the Scottish towns of Fort William and Kyle ; then 
trains of freight cars and canal boats taking the cargoes 
across Scotland to Inverness and Invergordon, where the 
mines were completed and placed in the immense store- 
houses at the bases and loaded on the mine -layers as the 
necessity arose. Thus, when the whole organization was 
once established on a working basis, we had uninterrupted 
communications and a continuous flow of mines from 
the American factories to the stormy waters of the 
North Sea. 

The towns in which our officers and men found them- 
selves in late May, 1918, are among the most famous in 
Scottish history and legend. Almost every foot of land 
is associated with memories of Macbeth, Mary Queen of 
Scots, Cromwell, and the Pretender. " The national 
anthem woke me," says Captain Belknap, describing his 
first morning at his new Scottish base. " I arose and 
looked out. What a glorious sight ! Green slopes in all 
freshness, radiant with broom and yellow gorse ; the 
rocky shore mirrored in the Firth, which stretched, smooth 
and cool, wide away to the east and south ; and, in the 
distance, snow-capped Ben Wyvis. Lying off the entrance 
to Munlochy Bay, we had a view along the sloping shores 
into the interior of Black Isle, of noted fertility. Farther 
out were Avoch, a whitewashed fishing village, and the 
ancient town of Fortrose, with its ruined twelfth-century 
cathedral. Across the Firth lay Culloden House, where 
Bonnie Prince Charlie slept before the battle. Substantial, 


but softened in outline by the morning haze, the Royal 
Burgh of Inverness covered the banks and heights along 
the Ness River, gleaming in the bright sunshine. And how 
peaceful everywhere ! The Canandaigua and the Sonoma 
lay near by, the Canonicus farther out, but no movement, 
no signal, no beat of the engine, no throbbing pumps." 
The reception which the natives gave our men was as 
delightful as the natural beauty of the location. For miles 
around the Scots turned out to make things pleasant for 
their Yankee guests. The American naval forces stationed 
at the mining bases in those two towns numbered about 
3,000 officers and men, and the task of providing relaxa- 
tions, in the heart of the Highlands, far removed from 
theatres and moving-picture houses, would have been a 
serious one had it not been for the cordial co-operation 
of the people. The spirit manifested during our entire 
stay was evidenced on the Fourth of July, when all the 
shops and business places closed in honour of American 
Independence Day and the whole community for miles 
around joined our sailors in the celebration. The officers 
spent such periods of relaxation as were permitted them 
on the excellent golf links and tennis courts in the adjoin- 
ing country ; dances were provided for the men, almost 
every evening, the Scottish lassies showing great adapta- 
bility in learning the American steps. Amateur theatricals, 
in which both the men from the warships and the Scottish 
girls took part, cheered many a crew after its return from 
the mine-fields. Baseball was introduced for the first 
time into the country of William Wallace and Robert 
Burns. Great crowds gathered to witness the matches 
between the several ships ; the Scots quickly learned the 
fine points and really developed into " fans," while the 
small boys of Inverness and Invergordon were soon play- 
ing the game with as much enthusiasm and cleverness as 
our own youngsters at home. In general, the behaviour 
of our men was excellent and made the most favourable 

These two mine-assembly bases at Inverness and Inver- 
gordon will ever remain a monumental tribute to the loyal 
and energetic devotion to duty of Captain Orin G. Murfin, 
U.S. Navy, who designed and built them ; originally the 
bases were intended to handle 12,000 mines, but in reality 
Captain Murfin successfully handled as many as 20,000 at 


one time. It was here also that each secret firing device 
was assembled and installed, very largely by reserve per- 
sonnel. As many as 1,200 mines were assembled in one 
day, which speaks very eloquently for the foresight with 
which Captain Murfin planned his bases. 


But of course baseball and dancing were not the serious 
business in hand ; these Americans had come this long 
distance to do their part in laying the mighty barrage which 
was to add one more serious obstacle to the illegal German 
submarine campaign. Though the operation was a joint 
one of the American and British navies, our part was 
much the larger. The proposal was to construct this 
explosive impediment from the Orkney Islands to the 
coast of Norway, in the vicinity of Udsire Light, a distance 
of about 230 nautical miles. Of this great area about 150 
miles, extending from the Orkneys to 3 degrees east longi- 
tude, was the American field, and the eastern section, 
which extended fifty nautical miles to Norway, was taken 
over by the British. Since an operation of this magni- 
tude required the supervision of an officer of high rank, 
Rear-Admiral Joseph Strauss, who had extended experi- 
ence in the ordnance field of the navy, came over in March, 
1918, and took command. The British commander was 
Rear-Admiral Clinton-Baker, R.N. 

The mines were laid in a series of thirteen expeditions, or 
" excursions," as our men somewhat cheerfully called them. 
The ten mine-layers participated in each " excursion," all 
ten together laying about 5,400 mines at every trip. Each 
trip to the field of action was practically a duplicate of the 
others ; a description of one will, therefore, serve for all. 
After days, and sometimes after weeks of preparation the 
squadron, usually on a dark and misty night, showing no 
lights or signals, would weigh anchor, slip by the rocky 
palisades of Moray Firth, and stealthily creep out to sea. 
As the ships passed through the nets and other obstructions 
and reached open waters, the speed increased, the gunners 
took their stations at their batteries, and suddenly from a 
dark horizon came a glow of low, rapidly moving vessels ; 



these were the British destroyers from the Grand Fleet 
which had been sent to escort the expedition and protect it 
from submarines. The absolute silence of the whole pro- 
ceeding was impressive ; not one of the destroyers showed 
a signal or a light ; not one of the mine-layers gave the 
slightest sign of recognition ; all these details had been 
arranged in advance, and everything now worked with 
complete precision. The swishing of the water on the sides 
and the slow churning of the propellers were the only sounds 
that could possibly betray the ships to their hidden enemies. 
After the ships had steamed a few more miles the dawn 
began to break ; and now a still more inspiring sight met our 
men. A squadron of battleships, with scout cruisers and 
destroyers, suddenly appeared over the horizon. This fine 
force likewise swept on, apparently paying not the slightest 
attention to our vessels. They steamed steadily southward, 
and in an hour or so had entirely disappeared. The ob- 
server would hardly have guessed that this squadron from 
Admiral Beatty's fleet at Scapa Flow had anything to do 
with the American and British mine-layers. Its business, 
however, was to establish a wall of steel and shotted guns 
between these forces and the German battle fleet at Kiel. 
At one time it was believed that the mine forces on the 
northern barrage would prove a tempting bait to the Ger- 
man dreadnoughts ; and that, indeed, it might induce the 
enemy to risk a second general engagement on the high seas. 
At any rate, a fleet of converted excursion steamers, 
laying mines in the North Sea, could hardly be left exposed 
to the attacks of German raiders ; our men had the satis- 
faction of knowing that while engaged in their engrossing 
if unenviable task a squadron of British or American 
battleships for Admiral Rodman's forces took their 
regular turn in acting as a " screen " in these excursions 
was standing a considerable distance to the south, prepared 
to make things lively for any German surface vessels which 
attempted to interfere with the operation. 

Now in the open seas the ten mine-layers formed in two 
columns, abreast of each other and five hundred yards apart, 
and started for the waters of the barrage. Twelve de- 
stroyers surrounded them, on the lookout for submarines, 
for the ships were now in the track of the U-boats bound for 
their hunting ground or returning to their home ports. At 
a flash from the flagship all slackened speed, and put out 

1917-18] "FIRST MINE OVER" 259 

their paravanes those under-water outrigger affairs which 
protected the ships from mines ; for it was not at all 
unlikely that the Germans would place some of their own 
mines in this field, for the benefit of the barrage builders. 
This operation took only a few minutes ; then another 
flash, and the squadron again increased its speed. It 
steamed the distance across the North Sea to Udsire Light, 
then turned west again and headed for that mathematical 
spot on the ocean which was known as the " start point " 
the place, that is, where the mine-laying was to begin. In 
carrying out all these manoeuvres sighting the light on 
the Norwegian coast the commander was thinking, 
not only of the present, but of the future ; for the time 
would come, after the war had ended, when it would 
be necessary to remove all these mines, and it was there- 
fore wise to " fix " them as accurately as possible in 
reference to landmarks, so as to know where to look for 
them. All this time the men were at their stations, 
examining the mines to see that everything was ready, 
testing the laying mechanisms, and mentally rehearsing 
their duties. At about four o'clock an important signal 
came from the flagship : 

" Have everything ready, for the squadron will reach 
4 start point ' in an hour and mine-laying will begin." 

Up to this time the ships were sailing in two columns ; 
when they came within seven miles of " start point," 
another signal was broken out ; the ships all wheeled like a 
company of soldiers, each turning sharply to the right, so 
that in a few minutes, instead of two columns, we had eight 
ships in line abreast, with the remaining two, also in line 
abreast, sailing ahead of them. This splendid array, 
keeping perfect position, approached the starting point like 
a line of racehorses passing under the wire. Not a ship was 
off this line by so much as a quarter length ; the whole 
atmosphere was one of eagerness ; the officers all had their 
eyes fixed upon the stern of the flagship, for the glimpse of 
the red flag which would be the signal to begin. Suddenly 
the flag was hauled down, indicating : 

" First mine over." 

If you had been following one of these ships, you would 
probably have been surprised at the apparent simplicity of 
the task. The vessel was going at its full speed ; at 
intervals of a few seconds a huge black object, about five 


feet high, would be observed gliding toward the stern ; at 
this point it would pause for a second or two, as though 
suspended in air ; it would then give a mighty lurch, fall 
head first into the water, sending up a great splash, and then 
sink beneath the waves. By the time the disturbance was 
over the ship would have advanced a considerable distance ; 
then, in a few seconds, another black object would roll 
toward the stern, make a similar plunge, and disappear. 
You might have followed the same ship for two or three 
hours, watching these mines fall overboard at intervals of 
about fifteen seconds. There were four planters, each of 
which could and did on several trips lay about 860 mines in 
three hours and thirty-five minutes, in a single line about 
forty-four miles long. These were the Canandaigua, the 
Canonicus, the Housatonic, and the Roanoke. Occasionally 
the monotony of this procedure would be enlivened by a 
terrible explosion, a great geyser of water rising where a 
mine had only recently disappeared ; this meant that the 
" e g>" as * ne sailors called it, had gone off spontaneously, 
without the assistance of any external contact ; such 
accidents were part of the game, the records showing that 
about 4 per cent, of all the mines indulged in such initial 
premature explosions. For the most part, however, nothing 
happened to disturb the steady mechanical routine. The 
mines went over with such regularity that, to an observer, 
the whole proceeding seemed hardly the work of human 
agency. Yet every detail had been arranged months before 
in the United States ; the mines fell into the sea in accord- 
ance with a time-table which had been prepared in Newport 
before the vessels started for Scotland. Every man on the 
ship had a particular duty to perform and each performed 
it in the way in which he had been schooled under the 
direction of Captain Belknap. 

The spherical mine case, which contains the explosive 
charge and the mechanism for igniting it, is only a part of 
the contrivance. While at rest on board the ship this case 
stands upon a box-like affair, about two feet square, known 
as the anchor ; this anchor sinks to the bottom after launch- 
ing and it contains an elaborate arrangement for maintain- 
ing the mine at any desired depth beneath the surface. 
The bottom of the " anchor " has four wheels, on which it 
runs along the little railroad track on the launching deck to 
the jumping-off place at the stern. All along these railroad 


tracks the mines were stationed one back of another ; as 
one went overboard, they would all advance a peg, a mine 
coming up from below on an elevator to fill up the vacant 
space at the end of the procession. It took a crew of hard- 
working, begrimed, and sweaty men to keep these mines 
moving and going over the stern at the regularly appointed 
intervals. After three or four hours had been spent in this 
way and the ships had started back to their base, the decks 
would sometimes be covered with the sleeping figures of 
these exhausted men. It would be impossible to speak too 
appreciatively of the spirit they displayed ; in the whole 
summer there was not a single mishap of any importance. 
The men all felt that they were engaged in a task which had 
never been accomplished before, and their exhilaration 
increased with almost every mine that was laid. " Nails 
in the coffin of the Kaiser," the men called these grim 
instruments of vengeance. 


I have described one of these thirteen summer excursions, 
and the description given could be applied to all the rest. 
Once or twice the periscope of a submarine was sighted 
without any disastrous results but in the main this 
business of mine-laying was uneventful. Just what was 
accomplished the chart makes clear. In the summer and 
autumn months of 1918 the American forces laid 56,571 
mines and the British 13,546. The operation was to have 
been a continuous one ; had the war gone on for two years 
we should probably have laid several hundred thousand ; 
Admiral Strauss's forces kept at the thing steadily up to the 
time of the armistice ; they had become so expert and the 
barrage was producing such excellent results that we had 
plans nearly completed for building another at the Strait 
of Otranto, which would have completely closed the Adriatic 
Sea. Besides this undertaking the American mine-layer 
Baltimore laid a mine-field in the North Irish Channel, the 
narrow waters which separate Scotland and Ireland ; two 
German submarines which soon afterward attempted this 
passage were blown to pieces, and after this the mine-field 
was given a wide berth. 


Just what the North Sea barrage accomplished, in the 
actual destruction of submarines, will never be definitely 
known. We have information that four certainly were 
destroyed, and in all probability six and possibly eight ; yet 
these results doubtless measure only a small part of the 
German losses. In the majority of cases the Germans had 
little or no evidence of sunken submarines. The destroyers, 
subchasers, and other patrol boats were usually able to 
obtain some evidences of injury inflicted ; they could often 
see their quarry, or the disturbances which it made on the 
surface ; they could pursue and attack it, and the resultant 
oil patches, wreckage, and German prisoners and some- 
times the recovered submarine itself or its location on the 
bottom would tell the story either of damage or destruc- 
tion. But the disconcerting thing about the North Sea 
barrage, from the viewpoint of the Germans, was that it 
could do its work so secretly that no one, friend or enemy, 
would necessarily know a thing about it. A German 
submarine simply left its home port ; attempting to cross 
the barrage, perhaps at night, it would strike one of these 
mines, or its antenna ; an explosion would crumple it up 
like so much paper ; with its crew it would sink to the 
bottom ; and not a soul, perhaps not even the crew itself, 
would ever know what had happened to it. It would in 
truth be a case of " sinking without a trace " though an 
entirely legitimate one under the rules of warfare. The 
German records disclosed anywhere from forty to fifty sub- 
marines sunk which did not appear in the records of the 
Allies ; how these were destroyed not a soul knows, or ever 
will know. They simply left their German ports and were 
never heard of again. That many of them fell victims to 
mines, and some of them to the mines of our barrage, is an 
entirely justifiable assumption. That probably even a 
larger number of U-boats were injured is also true. A 
German submarine captain, after the surrender at Scapa 
Flow, said that he personally knew of three submarines, 
including his own, which had been so badly injured at the 
barrage that they had been compelled to limp back to 
their German ports. 

The results other than the sinking of submarines were 
exceedingly important in bringing the war to an end. It 
was the failure of the submarine campaign which defeated 
the German hopes and forced their surrender : and in this 


defeat the barrage was an important element. That sub- 
marines frequently crossed it is true ; there was no expect- 
ation, when the enterprise was started, that it would abso- 
lutely shut the U-boats in the North Sea ; but its influence 
in breaking down the German moral must have been great. 
To understand this, just place yourself for a moment in the 
position of a submarine crew. The width of this barrage 
ranged from fifteen to thirty -five miles ; it took from one to 
three hours for a submarine to cross this area on the surface 
and from two to six hours under the surface. Not every 
square foot, it is true, had been mined ; there were certain 
gaps caused by the spontaneous explosions to which I have 
referred ; but nobody knew where these openings were, or 
where a single mine was located. The officers and crews 
knew only that at any moment an explosion might send 
them to eternity. A strain of this sort is serious enough 
if it lasts only a few minutes ; imagine being kept in this 
state of mind anywhere from one to six hours ! Submarine 
prisoners constantly told us how they dreaded the mines ; 
going through such a field, I suppose, was about the most 
disagreeable experience in this nerve-racking service. Our 
North Sea barrage began to show results almost immediately 
after our first planting. The German officers evidently 
kept informed of our progress and had a general idea of the 
territory which had been covered. For a considerable time 
a passage-way, sixty miles wide, was kept open for the Grand 
Fleet just east of the Orkney Islands ; the result was that 
the submarines, which had hitherto usually skirted the 
Norwegian coast, now changed their route, and attempted 
to slip through the western passage-way a course that 
enabled them to avoid the mine-field. When the entire 
distance from the Orkneys to Norway had been mined, 
however, it became impossible to " run around the end." 
The Germans were now obliged to sail boldly into this 
explosive field, taking their chances of hitting a mine. 
Stories of this barrage were circulated all over Germany ; 
sailors who had been in contact with it related their ex- 
periences to their fellows ; and the result was extremely 
demoralizing to the German submarine flotilla. The North 
Sea barrage was probably a contributory cause of the 
mutiny which demoralized the German fleet in the autumn 
of 1918. 

I think I am therefore justified in saying that this enter- 


prise was a strong factor in overcoming the submarine 
menace, though the success of the convoy system had 
already brought the end in sight, and had thus made it 
practicable to assign, without danger of defeat, the tonnage 
necessary to lay the barrage and maintain and augment 
it as long as might be necessary. The Germans saw the 
barrage not only as it was in the autumn of 1918, but as it 
would be a few months or a year hence. We had started 
a steady stream of mines from hundreds of factories in 
the United States to our Scottish bases ; these establish- 
ments were constantly increasing production, and there was 
practically no limit to their possible output. We had 
developed a mine-laying organization which was admittedly 
better than any that had been hitherto known ; and this 
branch of the service we could now enlarge indefinitely. In 
time we could have planted this area so densely with 
explosives that it would have been madness for any sub- 
marines even to attempt a passage. To be sure, the 
Pentland Firth, between the Orkneys and Scotland, was 
always open, and could not be mined on account of its 
; wift tides, but besides being a dangerous passage &t 
best it was constantly patrolled to make it still more 

The loyal devotion to duty and the skilful seamanship 
which our officers displayed in this great enterprise were not 
only thoroughly in keeping with the highest traditions of the 
navy, but really established new standards to guide and 
inspire those who will follow us. These gallant officers who 
actually laid the mines are entitled to the nation's grati- 
tude, and I take great pleasure in commending the work of 
Captain H. V. Butler, commanding the flagship San 
Francisco ; Captain J. Harvey Tomb, commanding the 
Aroostook ; Captain A. W. Marshall, commanding the 
Baltimore ; Commander W. H. Reynolds, commanding the 
Canandaigua ; Captain T. L. Johnson, commanding the 
Canonicus ; Captain J. W. Greenslade, commanding the 
Housatonic; Commander D. Pratt Mannix, commanding 
the Quinnebaug ; Captain C. D. Stearns, commanding the 
Roanoke ; Captain Sinclair Gannon, commanding the 
Saranac ; and Captain W. T. Cluverius, commanding the 

This splendid squadron, of which the flagship was the 
San Francisco,was organized by Captain R. R. Belknap and, 

1918] CAPTAIN BELKNAP, U.S.N. 265 

by order of the Secretary of the Navy, was placed under 
his direct command ; and he was therefore responsible for 
all preparations, tactics, general instructions, special in- 
structions for each mine-laying " excursion," the intricate 
navigation required, and in fact all arrangements necessary 
for the successful planting of the mines in their assigned 



IT was in the summer of 1918 that the Germans made their 
only attempt at what might be called an offensive against 
their American enemies. Between the beginning of May 
and the end of October, 1918, five German submarines 
crossed the Atlantic and torpedoed a few ships on our coast. 
That submarines could make this long journey had long 
been known. Singularly enough, however, the impression 
still prevails in this country that the German U-boats were 
the first to accomplish the feat. In the early autumn of 1 91 6 
the [7-53 commanded by that submarine officer, Hans 
Rose, who has been previously mentioned in these pages 
crossed the Atlantic, dropped in for a call at Newport, R.I., 
and, on the way back, sank a few merchant vessels off 
Nantucket. A few months previous the so-called merchant 
submarine Deutschland had made its trip to Newport News. 
The Teutonic press, and even some Germanophiles in this 
country, hailed these achievements as marking a glorious 
page in the record of the German navy. Doubtless the real 
purpose was to show the American people how easily these 
destructive vessels could cross the Atlantic ; and to impress 
upon their minds the fate which awaited them in case they 
maintained their rights against the Prussian bully. As a 
matter of fact, it had been proved, long before the Deutsch- 
land or the C7-53 had made their voyages, that submarines 
could cross the Atlantic. In 1915, not one but ten sub- 
marines had gone from North America to Europe under 
their own power. Admiral Sir John Fisher tells about this 
expedition in his recently published memoirs. In 1914, the 
British Admiralty had contracted for submarines with 
Charles M. Schwab, president of the Bethlehem Steel 
Company. As international law prohibited the construc- 
tion of war vessels by a nation in wartime for the use of a 



belligerent with which it was at peace, the parts of ten sub- 
marines were sent to Canada, where they were put together. 
These submarines then crossed the Atlantic under their own 
power, and were sent from British ports to the Dardanelles, 
where they succeeded in driving Turkish and German ship- 
ping out of the Sea of Marmora. Thus a crossing of the 
Atlantic by American-built submarines manned by British 
crews had been accomplished before the Germans made 
their voyages. It was therefore not necessary for the two 
German submarines to cross the Atlantic to prove that the 
thing could be done ; but the Germans doubtless believed 
that this demonstration of their ability to operate on the 
American coast would serve as a warning to the American 

We were never at all deceived as to what would be the 
purpose of such a visit after our entrance into the war. In 
the early part of 1917 the Allies believed that a few German 
U-boats might assail our coast, and I so informed the Navy 
Department at Washington. My cables and letters of 1917 
explained fully the reasons why Germany might indulge in 
such a gesture. Strategically, as these despatches make 
clear, such attacks would have no great military value. To 
have sent a sufficient number of submarines to do any con- 
siderable damage on the American coast would have been a 
great mistake. Germany's one chance of winning the war 
with the submarine weapon was to destroy shipping to such 
an extent that the communications of the Allies with the 
outside world, and especially with the United States, would 
be cut. The only places where the submarine warfare could 
be conducted with some chance of success were the ocean 
passage routes which lead to European ports, especially in 
that area south and south-west of Ireland in which were 
focussed the trade routes for ships sailing from all parts of 
the world and destined for British and French ports. With 
the number of submarines available, the Germans could 
keep enough of their U-boats at w r ork in these areas to 
destroy a large number of merchant ships. Germany thus 
needed to concentrate all of her available submarines at 
these points ; she had an inadequate number for her pur- 
pose ; to send any considerable force three thousand miles 
across the Atlantic would simply weaken her efforts in the 
real scene of warfare and would make her submarine 
campaign a failure. The cruises of submarines on the 


American coast would have been very much longer and 
would have been a much more serious strain on the sub- 
marines than were the shorter cruises in the inshore waters 
of Europe. As has already been explained, the submarine 
did not differ from other craft in its need for constant 
repairs and careful upkeep, except that perhaps it was a 
more delicate instrument of warfare than any other naval 
craft, and that it would require longer and more frequent 
periods of overhaul. Any operations carried out three 
thousand miles from their bases, where alone supplies, 
spare parts, and repair facilities were available, would have 
soon reduced the submarine campaign to comparative use- 
lessness ; each voyage would have resulted in sinking a 
relatively small amount of shipping ; a great number of 
submarines would be out of commission at all times for 
repairs, or would be lost through accidents. The Germans 
had no submarine bases in American waters and could 
establish none. Possibly, as the newspaper writer has 
pointed out, they might have seized a deserted island off 
the coast of Maine or in the Caribbean, and cached there a 
reservoir of fuel and food ; unless, however, they could also 
have created at these places adequate facilities for repairing 
submarines or supplying them with torpedoes and am- 
munition, such a place would not have served the purpose 
of a base at all. Comparatively few of the German sub- 
marines could have made the cruise to the American coast 
and operated successfully there so far away from their bases 
for any considerable time. In the time spent in such an 
enterprise, the same submarine could make three or four 
trips in the waters about the British Isles, or off the coast of 
France, and could sink four or five times the tonnage which 
could be destroyed in the cruise on the Atlantic coast. In 
the eastern Atlantic, the submarine could seek its victims 
in an area comprising a comparatively few square miles, at 
points where shipping was so dense that a submarine had 
only to take a station and lie in wait, and be certain, within 
a short time, of encountering valuable ships which it could 
attack successfully with its torpedoes. If the U-boats 
should be sent to America, on the other hand, they would 
have to patrol up and down three thousand miles of coast, 
looking for victims ; and even when they found them the 
ships that they could sink would usually be those engaged 
in the coastwise traffic, which were of infinitely less military 


importance than the transports which were carrying food, 
munitions, and supplies to the Allies and which were being 
sunk in the eastern Atlantic. 

Anything resembling an attack in force on American 
harbours was therefore improbable. Yet it seemed likely 
from the first that the Germans would send an occasional 
submarine into our waters, as a measure of propaganda 
rather than for the direct military result that would be 
achieved. American destroyers and other vessels were 
essential to the success of the whole anti-submarine cam- 
paign of the Allies. The sooner they could all be sent into 
the critical European waters the sooner the German cam- 
paign of terrorism would end. If these destroyers, or any 
considerable part of them, could be kept indefinitely in 
American waters, the Germans might win the war. Any 
manoeuvre which would have as its result the keeping of 
these American vessels, so indispensable to the Allies, out 
of the field of active warfare, would thus be more than 
justified and, indeed, would indicate the highest wisdom on 
the part of the German navy. The Napoleonic principle of 
dividing your enemy's forces is just as valuable in naval as 
in land warfare. For many years Admiral Mahan had been 
instructing American naval officers that the first rule in 
warfare is 'not to divide your fighting forces, but always to 
keep them together, so as to bring the whole weight at a 
given moment against your adversary. Two of the 
fundamental principles of the science of warfare, on land 
and sea alike, are contained in the maxims : Keep your own 
forces concentrated, and always endeavour to divide those 
of the enemy. Undoubtedly, the best method which 
Germany could use to keep our destroyers in our own waters 
would be to make the American people believe that their 
lives and property were in danger ; they might accomplish 
this by sending a submarine to attack our shipping off New 
York and Boston and other Atlantic seaports, and possibly 
even to bombard our harbours. The Germans doubtless 
believed that they might create such alarm and arouse such 
public clamour in the United States that our destroyers and 
other anti-submarine craft would be kept over here by the 
Navy Department, in response to the popular agitation to 
protect our own coast. This is the reason why American 
headquarters in London, and the Allied admiralties, ex- 
pected such a visitation. The Germans obviously endeav- 


cured to create the impression that such an attack was likely 
to occur at any time. This was part of their war propa- 
ganda. The press was full of reports that such attacks were 
about to be made. German agents were continually 
circulating these reports. 

Of course it was clear from the first, to the heads of the 
Allied navies and to all naval authorities who were informed 
about the actual conditions, that these attacks by German 
submarines on the American coast would be in the nature 
of raids for moral effect only. It was also quite clear from 
the first, as I pointed out in my despatches to the Navy 
Department, that the best place to defend our coast was in 
the critical submarine areas in the European Atlantic, 
through which the submarines had to pass in setting out for 
our coast, and in which alone they could have any hope of 
succeeding in the military object of the undersea campaign. 
It was not necessary to keep our destroyers in American 
waters, patrolling the vast expanse of our three thousand 
miles of coastline, in a futile effort to find and destroy such 
enemy submarines as might operate on the American coast. 
So long as these attacks were only sporadic and carried out 
by the type of submarine which used its guns almost ex- 
clusively in sinking ships, and which selected for its victims 
unarmed and unprotected ships destroyers and other anti- 
submarine craft would be of no possible use on the Atlantic 
coast. The submarine could see these craft from a much 
greater distance than it could itself be seen by them ; and 
by diving and sailing submerged it could easily avoid them 
and sink its victims without ever being sighted or attacked 
by our own patrols, however numerous they might have 
been. Even in the narrow waters of the English Channel, 
up to the very end of the war, submarines w r ere successfully 
attacking small merchant craft by gunfire, although the 
density of patrol craft in this area was naturally a thousand 
times greater than we could ever have provided for the vast 
expanse of our own coast. Consequently, so long as the 
submarine attacks on the American coast were only spor- 
adic, it was absolutely futile to maintain patrol craft in 
those w r aters, as this could not provide any adequate 
defence against such scattered demonstrations. If, on the 
other hand, the Germans had ever decided to commit the 
military mistake of concentrating a considerable number of 
submarines off our Atlantic ports, we could always have 


countered such a step by sending back from the war 
zone an adequate number of craft to protect convoys in and 
out of the Atlantic ports, in the same manner that convoys 
were protected in the submarine danger zone in European 
waters. This is a fact which even many naval men did not 
seem to grasp. Yet I have already explained that we knew 
practically where every German submarine was at any given 
time. We knew whenever one left a German port ; and 
we kept track of it day by day until it returned home. No 
U-boat ever made a voyage across the Atlantic without our 
knowledge. The submarine was a slow traveller, and re- 
quired a minimum of thirty days for such a trip ; normally, 
the time would be much longer, for a submarine on such a 
long voyage had to economize oil fuel for the return trip and 
therefore seldom cruised at more than five knots an hour. 
Our destroyers and anti-submarine craft, on the other hand, 
could easily cross the Atlantic in ten days and refuel in 
their home ports. It is therefore apparent that a flotilla of 
destroyers stationed in European waters could protect the 
American coast from submarines almost as successfully as 
if it were stationed at Hampton Roads or Newport. Such 
a flotilla would be of no use at these American stations 
unless there were submarines attacking shipping off the 
coast ; but as soon as the Germans started for America a 
fact of which we could always be informed, and of which, as 
I shall explain, we always were informed we could send our 
destroyers in advance of them. These agile vessels would 
reach home waters about three weeks before the submarines 
arrived ; they would thus have plenty of time to refit and 
to welcome the uninvited guests. From any conceivable 
point of view, therefore, there was no excuse for keeping 
destroyers on the American side of the Atlantic for " home 
defence." Moreover, the fact that we could keep this close 
track of submarines in itself formed a great protection 
against them. I have already explained how we routed 
convoys entering European waters in such ways that they 
could sail around the U-boat and thus escape contact. I 
think that this simple procedure saved more shipping than 
any other method. In the same way we could keep these 
vessels sailing frm American ports outside of the area in 
which the submarines were known to be operating in our 
own waters. 

Yet the enemy sent no submarines to our coast in 1917 ; 


why they did not do so may seem difficult to understand, for 
that was just the period when a campaign of this kind might 
have served their purpose. During this time, however, we 
had repeated indications that the Germans did not take 
the American entrance into the war very seriously ; more- 
over, looking forward to conditions after the peace, they 
perhaps hoped that they might soon be able once again 
to establish friendly relations. In 1917 they therefore 
refrained from any acts which might arouse popular hatred 
against them. We had more than one indication of this 
attitude. Early in the summer of 1917 we obtained from 
one of the captured German submarines a set of the orders 
issued to it by the German Admiralty Staff. Among these 
was one dated May 8, 1917, in which the submarine com- 
manders were informed that Germany had not declared war 
upon the United States, and that, until further instructions 
were received, the submarines were to continue to look 
upon America and American shipping as neutral. The 
submarine commanders were especially warned against 
attacking or committing any overt act against such 
American war vessels as might be encountered in European 
waters. The orders explained that no official confirmation 
had been received by the German Government of the news 
which had been published in the press that America had 
declared war, and that, therefore, the Germans, officially, 
were ignoring our belligerence. From their own standpoint 
such a policy of endeavouring not to offend America, even 
after she became an enemy, may have seemed politically 
wise ; from a military point of view, their failure to attempt 
the submarine demonstration off our coast in 1917 was a 
great mistake ; for when they finally started warfare on 
our coast, the United States was deeply involved in hos- 
tilities, and had already begun the transportation of the 
great army which produced such decisive results on the 
Western Front. The time had passed, as experience soon 
showed, when any demonstration on our coast would 
disturb the calm of the American people or affect their will 
to victory. 

In late April, 1918, I learned through secret-service 
channels that one of the large submarines of the Deutschland 
class had left its German base on the 19th of April for a long 
cruise. On the 1st of May, 1918, 1 therefore cabled to the 
Department that there were indications that this sub- 

1918] THE " U-151 " IN U.S. WATERS 278 

marine was bound for our own coast. A few days after- 
ward I received more specific information, through the 
interception of radio despatches between Germany and the 
submarine ; and therefore I cabled the Department, this 
time informing them that the submarine was the C7-151, 
that it was now well on its way across the Atlantic, and that 
it could be expected to begin operations off the American 
coast any time after May 20th. I gave a complete des- 
cription of the vessel, the probable nature of her cruise, and 
her essential military characteristics. She carried a supply 
of mines, and I therefore invited the attention of the De- 
partment to the fact that the favourite areas for laying 
mines were those places where the ships stopped to pick 
up pilots. Since at Delaware Bay pilots for large ships 
were taken on just south of the Five Fathom Bank Light, 
I suggested that it was not unlikely that the U-151 would 
attempt to lay mines in that vicinity. Now the fact is 
that we knew that the C7-151 intended to lay mines at this 
very place. We had obtained this piece of information 
from the radio which we had intercepted ; as there was a 
possibility that our own cable might fall into German hands, 
we did not care to give the news in the precise form in which 
we had received it, as we did not intend that they should 
know that we had means of keeping so accurately informed. 
As had been predicted, the U-151 proceeded directly to the 
vicinity of this Five Fathom Bank off Delaware Bay, laid 
her mines, and then, cruising northward up the coast, began 
her demonstration on the 25th of May by sinking two small 
wooden schooners. These had no radio apparatus, and it 
was not until June 2nd that the Navy Department and the 
country received the news that the first submarine was 
operating. On June 29th I informed Washington that 
another U-boat was then coming down the west coast of 
Ireland, bound for the United States, and that it would 
arrive some time after July 15th. Complete reports of 
this vessel were sent from day to day, as it made its slow 
progress across the ocean. On July 6th I cabled that still 
another U-boat had started for our coast ; and the progress 
of this adventurer, with all details as to its character and 
probable area of operations, were also forwarded regularly. 
From the end of May until October there was nearly always 
one submarine operating off our coast. The largest number 
active at any one time was in August, when for a week or 


ten days three were more or less active in attacking coast- 
wise vessels. These three operated all the way from Cape 
Hatteras to Newfoundland, attempting by these tactics to 
create the impression that dozens of hostile U-boats were 
preying upon our commerce and threatening our shores. 
These submarines, however, attacked almost exclusively 
sailing vessels and small coastwise steamers, rarely, if ever, 
using torpedoes. A number of mines were laid at different 
points off our ports, on what the Germans believed to be the 
traffic routes ; but the information which we had concern- 
ing them made it possible to counter successfully their efforts 
and, from a military point of view, the whole of the sub- 
marine operations off our coast can be dismissed as one of 
the minor incidents of the war, as the Secretary of the Navy 
described it in his Annual Report. The five submarines 
sunk in all approximately 110,000 tons of shipping, but the 
vessels were, for the most part, small and of no great 
military importance. The only real victory was the des- 
truction of the cruiser San Diego, which was sunk by a mine 
which had been laid by the 7-156 off Fire Island. 



THE Allied navies were harrowing the submarines not 
only under the water and on the surface, but from the air. 
In the anti-submarine campaign the several forms of air- 
craft airplane, seaplane, dirigible, and kite balloon 
developed great offensive power. Nor did the fact that 
our fighters in the heavens made few direct attacks which 
were successful diminish the importance of their work. 
The records of the British Admiralty attribute the destruc- 
tion of five submarines to the British air service ; the French 
Admiralty gives the American forces credit for destroying 
one on the French coast. These achievements, compared 
with the tremendous efforts involved in equipping air 
stations, may at first look like an inconsiderable return ; 
yet the fact remains that aircraft were an important ele- 
ment in defeating the German campaign against merchant 

Like the subchaser and the submarine, the seaplane 
operated most successfully in coastal waters. I have 
already indicated that one advantage of the convoy system 
was that it forced the U-boats to seek their victims closer 
to the shore. In our several forms of aircraft we had still 
another method of interfering with their operation in such 
quarters. In order to use these agencies effectively we 
constructed aircraft stations in large numbers along the 
coast of France and the British Isles, assigned a certain 
stretch of coastline to each one of these stations, and kept 
the indicated area constantly patrolled. The advantages 
which were possessed by a fleet of aircraft operating at a 
considerable height above the water are at once apparent. 
The great speed of seaplanes in itself transformed them into 
formidable foes. The submarine on the surface could make 
a maximum of only 16 knots an hour, whereas an airplane 



made anywhere from 60 to 100 ; it therefore had little 
difficulty, once it had sighted the under-water boat, in 
catching up with it and starting hostilities. Its great speed 
also made it possible for an airplane or dirigible to patrol 
a much greater area of water than a surface or a sub-surface 
vessel. An observer located several hundred feet in the 
heavens could see the submarine much more easily than 
could his comrades on other craft. If the water were clear 
he could at once detect it, even though it were submerged ; 
in any event, merely lifting a man in the air greatly extended 
his horizon, and made it possible for him to pick up hostile 
vessels at a much greater distance. Moreover, the air- 
plane had that same advantage upon which I have laid 
such emphasis in describing the anti-submarine powers of 
the submarine itself: that is, it was almost invisible to its 
under-water foe. If the U-boat were lying on the surface, a 
seaplane or a dirigible was readily seen ; but if it were sub- 
merged entirely, or even sailing at periscope depth, the 
most conspicuous enemy in the heavens was invisible. 
After our submarines and our aircraft had settled down to 
their business of extermination, existence for those Germans 
who were operating in coastal w r aters became extremely 
hazardous and nerve-racking ; their chief anxiety was no 
longer the depth bomb of a destroyer ; they lived every 
moment in the face of hidden terrors ; they never knew 
when a torpedo would explode into their vitals, or when an 
unseen bomb, dropped from the heavens, would fall upon 
their fragile decks. 

I have said that the destructive achievements of aircraft 
figure only moderately in the statistics of the war ; this was 
because the greater part of their most valuable work was 
done in co-operation with war vessels. Aircraft in the 
Navy performed a service not unlike that which it performed 
in the Army. We are all familiar with the picture of 
airplanes sailing over the field of battle, obtaining informa- 
tion which was wirelessed back to their own forces, " spot- 
ting " artillery positions, and giving ranges. The seaplanes 
and dirigibles of the Allied navies performed a similar 
service on the ocean. To a considerable extent they be- 
came the " eyes " of the destroyers and other surface craft, 
just as the airplanes on the land became the " eyes " of 
the army. As part of their equipment all the dirigibles 
had wireless telegraph and wireless telephone ; as soon as 


a submarine was " spotted." the news was immediately 
flashed broadcast, and every offensive warship which was 
anywhere in the neighbourhood, as well as the airplane 
itself, started for the indicated scene. There are several 
cases in which the sinking of submarines by destroyers was 
attributed to information wirelessed in this fashion by 
American aircraft ; and since the air service of the British 
navy was many times greater than our own, there are many 
more such " indirect sinkings " credited to the British effort. 
The following citation, which I submitted to the Navy 
Department in recommending Lieutenant John J. Schieffelin 
for the Distinguished Service Medal, illustrates this co- 
operation between air and surface craft : 

This officer performed many hazardous reconnaissance 
flights, and on July 9th, 1918, he attacked an enemy sub- 
marine with bombs and then directed the British destroyers 
to the spot, which were successful in seriously damaging 
the submarine. Again, on July 19th, 1918, Lieutenant 
Schieffelin dropped bombs on another enemy submarine, 
and then signalled trawlers to the spot, which delivered a 
determined attack against the submarine, which attack 
was considered highly successful and the submarine seri- 
ously damaged, if not destroyed. This officer was at all 
times an example of courageous loyalty. 

Besides scouting and " spotting " and bombing, the 
aerial hunters of the submarine developed great value in 
escorting convoys. A few dirigibles, located on the flanks 
of a convoy, protected them almost as effectively as the 
destroyers themselves ; and even a single airship not 
infrequently brought a group of merchantmen and troop- 
ships safely into port. Sometimes the airships operated 
in this way as auxiliaries to destroyers, while sometimes 
they operated alone. In applying this mechanism of 
protection to merchant convoys, we were simply adopting 
the method which Great Britain had been using for three 
years in the narrow passages of the English Channel. 
Much has been said of the skill with which the British navy 
transported about 20,000,000 souls back and forth between 
England and France in four years ; and in this great move- 
ment seaplanes, dirigibles, and other forms of aircraft played 
an important part. In the same way this scheme of pro- 


tection was found valuable with the coastal convoys, 
particularly with the convoys which sailed from one French 
port to another, and from British ports to places in Ireland, 
Holland, or Scandinavia. I have described the dangers in 
which these ships were involved owing to the fact that the 
groups were obliged to break up after entering the Channel 
and the Irish Sea, and thus to proceed singly to their 
destinations. Aircraft improved this situation to a con- 
siderable extent, for they could often go to sea, pick up the 
ships, and bring them safely home. The circumstance that 
our seaplanes, perched high in the air, could see the sub- 
marine long before they had reached torpedoing distance, 
and could, if necessary, signal to a destroyer for assistance, 
made them exceedingly valuable for this kind of work. 

Early in 1918, at the request of the British Govern- 
ment, we took over a large seaplane base which had been 
established by the British at Killingholme, England, a 
little seacoast town at the mouth of the Humber River. 
According to the original plan we intended to co-operate 
from this point with the British in a joint expedition against 
enemy naval bases, employing for this purpose especially 
constructed towing lighters, upon which seaplanes were to 
be towed by destroyers to within a short flying distance of 
their objectives. Although this project was never carried 
out, Killingholme, because of its geographical location, 
became a very important base for seaplanes used in escort- 
ing mercantile convoys to and from Scandinavian ports, 
patrolling mine-fields while on the lookout for enemy sub- 
marines and making those all-important reconnaissance 
flights over the North Sea which were intended to give 
advanced warning of any activity of the German High Seas 
Fleet. These flights lasted usually from six to eight hours ; 
the record was made by Ensign S. C. Kennedy and C. H. 
Weatherhead, U.S.N., who flew for nine hours continuously 
on convoy escort duty. For a routine patrol, this compares 
very favourably indeed with the flight of the now famous 
trans-Atlantic NC-4>. 

I can no better describe the splendid work of these en- 
thusiastic and courageous young Americans than by quoting 
a few extracts from a report which was submitted to me by 
Ensign K. B. Keyes, of a reconnaissance flight in which he 
took part, while attached temporarily to a British seaplane 
station under post-graduate instruction. The picture given 


by Ensign Keyes is typical of the flights which our boys 
were constantly making : 

On June 4, 1918, we received orders to carry out a recon- 
naissance and hostile aircraft patrol over the North Sea and 
along the coast of Holland. It was a perfect day for such 
work, for the visibility was extremely good, with a light 
wind of fifteen knots and clouds at the high altitude of about 
eight or ten thousand feet. 

Our three machines from Felixstowe rose from the water 
at twelve o'clock, circled into patrol formation, and pro- 
ceeded north-east by north along the coast to Yarmouth. 
Here we were joined by two more planes, but not without 
some trouble and slight delay because of a broken petrol 
pipe which was subsequently repaired in the air. We again 
circled into formation, Capt. Leckie, D.S.O., of Yarmouth, 
taking his position as leader of the squadron. 

At one o'clock the squadron proceeded east, our machine, 
being in the first division, flew at 1,500 feet and at about 
half a mile in the rear of Capt. Leckie's machine, but keeping 
him on our starboard quarter. 

We sighted nothing at all until about half-past two, when 
the Haaks Light Vessel slowly rose on the horizon, but near 
this mark and considerably more to the south we discovered 
a large fleet of Dutch fishing smacks. This fleet consisted 
of more than a hundred smacks. 

Ten minutes later we sighted the Dutch coast, where we 
changed our course more to the north-east. We followed 
the sandy beaches of the islands of Texel and Vlieland until 
we came to Terschelling. In following the coast of Vlieland 
we were close enough to distinguish houses on the inside of 
the island and even to make out breakers rolling up on the 
sandy beach. 

At Terschelling we proceeded west in accordance with our 
orders, but soon had to turn back because of Capt. Leckie's 
machine which had fallen out of formation and come to the 
water. This machine landed at three fifteen and we con- 
tinued to circle around it, finding that the trouble was with 
a badly broken petrol pipe, until about fifteen minutes 
later, when we sighted five German planes steering west, a 
direction which would soon bring them upon us. 

At this time Capt. Barker had the wheel, Lt. Galvayne 
was seated beside him, but if we met the opposing forces he 


was to kneel on the seat with his eyes above the cowl, where 
he could see all the enemy planes and direct the pilot in 
which direction to proceed. I was in the front cockpit with 
one gun and four hundred rounds of ammunition. In the 
stern cockpit the engineer and wireless ratings were to 
handle three guns. 

We at once took battle formation and went forward to 
meet the enemy, but here we were considerably surprised 
to find that when we were nearly within range they had 
turned and were running away from us. At once we gave 
chase, but soon found that they were much too fast for us. 
Our machine had broken out of the formation and, with 
nose down, had crept slightly ahead of Capt. Leckie, and we 
being the nearest machine to the enemy, I had the satis- 
faction of trying out my gun for a number of rounds. It 
was quite impossible to tell whether I had registered any 
hits or not. 

Our purpose in chasing these planes was to keep them 
away from the machine on the water which, if we had not 
been there, would have been shot to pieces. Finding that 
it was useless to follow them, as they could easily keep out 
of our range, we turned back and very shortly we were again 
circling around our machine on the water. 

It was not long before the enemy again came very close, 
so we gave chase the second time. This time, instead of 
five machines as before, there were only four, and one small 
scout could be seen flying in the direction of Borkum. 

It was the fourth time that we went off in pursuit of the 
enemy that we suddenly discovered that a large number of 
hostile planes were proceeding towards us, not in the air 
with the other four planes but very close to the water. 
There were ten planes in this first group, but they were 
joined a few minutes later by five more. 

We swung into battle formation and steered for the 
middle of the group. When we were nearly within range 
four planes on the port side and five planes on the starboard 
side rose to our level of fifteen hundred feet. Two planes 
passed directly beneath us firing upward. Firing was 
incessant from the beginning and the air seemed blue with 
tracer smoke. I gave most of my time to the four planes 
on our port side, because they were exactly on the same 
level with us and seemed to be within good range, that is 
about two hundred yards. When we had passed each other 


I looked around and noticed that Lt. Galvayne was in a 
stooping position, with head and one arm on his seat, the 
other arm hanging down as if reaching for something. I 
had seen him in this position earlier in the day so thought 
nothing of it. All this I had seen in the fraction of a second, 
for I had to continue firing. A few minutes later I turned 
around again and found with a shock that Lt. Galvayne was 
in the same position. It was then that the first inkling of 
the truth dawned upon me. By bending lower I discovered 
that his head was lying in a pool of blood. 

From this time on I have no clear idea of just what our 
manoeuvring was, but evidently we put up a running fight 
steering east, then circled until suddenly I found our 
machine had been cut off from the formation and we were 
surrounded by seven enemy seaplanes. 

This time we were steering west or more to the south- 
west. We carried on a running fight for ten miles or so 
until we drove the seven planes off. During the last few 
minutes of the fight our engine had been popping altogether 
too frequently and soon the engineer came forward to tell 
us that the port engine petrol pipe had broken. 

By this time I had laid out Lt. Galvayne in the wireless 
cockpit, cleaned up the second pilot's seat, and taken it 

The engagement had lasted about half an hour, and the 
closest range was one hundred yards while the average range 
was two hundred. The boat w r ith Ensign Eaton in it 
landed between the Islands of Texel and Vlieland, while 
the other boat, which had not taken any part in the fight, 
was last seen two miles off Vlieland and still taxiing in 
toward the beach. 

We descended to the water at five forty-five, ten miles 
north-west of Vlieland. During the ten minutes we were on 
the water I loosened Lt. Galvayne's clothing, made his 
position somewhat easier, and felt for his heart which at 
that time I was quite sure was beating feebly. 

When we rose from the water and ascended to fifteen 
hundred feet, we sighted two planes which later proved to 
be the two Yarmouth boats. We picked them up, swung 
into formation, and laid our course for Yarmouth. 

At ten minutes to seven we sighted land and twenty 
minutes after we were resting on the water in front of 
Yarmouth slipway. 


We at once summoned medical aid but found that nothing 
could be done. The shot had gone through his head, 
striking the mouth and coming out behind his ear, tearing 
a gash of about two inches in diameter. 

The boat had been more or less riddled, a number of 
shots tearing up the top between the front cockpit and the 
beginning of the cowl. 

The total duration of the flight was seven hours and ten 

American naval aviation had a romantic beginning ; in- 
deed, the development of our air service from almost 
nothing to a force which, in European waters, comprised 
2,500 officers and 22,000 men, is one of the great accom- 
plishments of the war. It was very largely the outcome of 
civilian enterprise and civilian public spirit. In describing 
our subchasers I have already paid tribute to the splendid 
qualities of reserve officers ; and our indebtedness to this 
type of citizen was equally great in the aviation service. I 
can pay no further tribute to American youth than to say 
that the great aircraft force which was ultimately assembled 
in Europe had its beginnings in a small group of undergrad- 
uates at Yale University. In recommending Mr. Trubee 
Davison for a Distinguished Service Medal, the commander 
of our aviation forces wrote : " This officer was responsible 
for the organization of the first Yale aviation unit of twenty- 
nine aviators who were later enrolled in the Naval Reserve 
Flying Corps. . . . This group of aviators formed the 
nucleus of the first Naval Reserve Flying Corps, and, in 
fact, may be considered as the nucleus from which the 
United States Aviation Forces, Foreign Service, later grew." 
This group of college boys acted entirely on their own initia- 
tive. While the United States was still at peace, encouraged 
only by their own parents and a few friends, they took up the 
study of aviation. It was their conviction that the United 
States would certainly get into the war, and they selected 
this branch as the one in which they could render greatest 
service to their country. These young men worked all 
through the summer of 1916 at Port Washington, Long 
Island, learning how to fly : at this time they were an 
entirely unofficial body, paying their own expenses. Ulti- 
mately the unit comprised about twenty men ; they kept 
constantly at work, even after college opened in the fall of 


1916, and when war broke out they were prepared for they 
had actually learned to fly. When the submarine scares 
disturbed the Atlantic seaboard in the early months of the 
war these Yale undergraduates were sent by the department 
scouting over Long Island Sound and other places looking 
for the imaginary Germans. In February, 1917, Secretary 
Daniels recognized their work by making Davison a member 
of the Committee on Aeronautics ; in March practically 
every member of the unit was enrolled in the aviation 
service ; and their names appear among the first one hun- 
dred aviators enrolled in the Navy a list that ultimately 
included several thousand. So proficient had these under- 
graduates become that they were used as a nucleus to train 
our aircraft forces ; they were impressed as instructors at 
Buffalo, Bayshore, Hampton Roads, the Massachusetts 
Institute of Technology, Key West and Moorhead City. 
They began to go abroad in the summer of 1917, and they 
were employed as instructors in schools in France and 
England. These young men not only rendered great 
material service, but they manifested an enthusiasm, an 
earnestness, and a tireless vigilance which exerted a won- 
derful influence in strengthening the moral of the whole 
aviation department. " I knew that whenever we had a 
member of the Yale unit," says Lieutenant-Commander 
Edwards, who was aide for aviation at the London head- 
quarters in the latter part of the war, " everything was 
all right. Whenever the French and English asked us to 
send a couple of our crack men to reinforce a squadron, I 
would say, ' Let's get some of the Yale gang.' We never 
made a mistake when we did this." 

There were many men in the regular navy to whom the 
nation is likewise indebted. Captain T. T. Craven served 
with very marked distinction as aide for aviation on the 
staff of Admiral Wilson, and afterward, after the armistice 
was signed, as the senior member of the Board which had 
been appointed to settle all claims with the French Govern- 
ment. Lieutenant (now Commander) Kenneth Whiting 
was another officer who rendered great service in aviation. 
Commander Whiting arrived in St. Nazaire, France, on the 
5th of June, 1917, in command of the first aeronautic de- 
tachment, which consisted of 7 officers and 122 men. 

Such were the modest beginnings of American aviation in 
France. In a short time Commander Whiting was assigned 


to the command of the large station which was taken over 
at Killingholme, England, and in October, 1917, Captain 
Hutch I. Cone came from the United States to take charge 
of the great aviation programme which had now been 
planned. Captain Cone had for many years enjoyed the 
reputation of being one of the Navy's most efficient admin- 
istrators ; while still a lieutenant-commander, he had held 
for a considerable time the rank of rear-admiral, as chief of 
the Bureau of Steam Engineering ; and in 1917 he was com- 
manding naval officer of the Panama Canal, a position which 
required organizing ability of the highest order. It was at 
my request that he was ordered abroad to organize our 
European air forces. Captain Cone now came to Paris and 
plunged into the work of organizing naval aviation with all 
his usual vigour. 

It subsequently became apparent, however, that London 
would be a better place for his work than Paris, and Captain 
Cone therefore took up his headquarters in Grosvenor 
Gardens. Under his administration naval aviation foreign 
service grew to the proportions I have indicated and in- 
cluded in France six seaplane stations, three dirigible 
stations, two kite balloon stations, one school of aerial gun- 
nery, one assembly and repair base, and the United States 
Naval Northern Bombing Group. In the British Isles 
there were established four seaplane stations and one kite 
balloon station in Ireland ; one seaplane station and one 
assembly and repair base in England ; and in Italy we 
occupied, at the request of the Italian Government, two 
seaplane stations at Pescara and Porto Corsini on the 
Adriatic. From these stations we bombed to good effect 
Austrian naval bases in that area. To Lieutenant-Com- 
mander J. L. Callan, U.S.N.R.F., is due much of the credit 
for the cordial relations which existed between the Italians 
and ourselves, as well as for the efficient conduct of our 
aviation forces in Italy under his command. 

Probably the most completely equipped aviation centre 
which we constructed was that at Pauillac, France, under 
the command of Captain F. T. Evans, U.S.N. ; here we 
built accommodation for 20,000 men ; we had here what 
would have eventually been a great airplane factory ; had 
the war continued six months longer, we would have been 
turning out planes in this place on a scale almost large 
enough to supply our needs. The far-sighted judgment and 


the really extraordinary professional ability of civil engin- 
eers D. G. Copeland and A. W. K. Billings made such work 
possible, but only, I might add, with the hearty co-operation 
of Lieutenant-Commander Benjamin Briscoe and his small 
band of loyal and devoted co-workers. Another great 
adventure was the establishment of our Northern Bombing 
Group, under the command of Captain David C. Hanrahan, 
U.S.N. ; here we had 112 planes, 305 officers, and more than 
2,000 enlisted personnel, who devoted all of their attention 
to bombing German submarine bases at Zeebrugge and 
Ostend. This enterprise was a joint one with the marines 
under the command of Major A. A. Cunningham, an ex- 
perienced pilot and an able administrator, who performed 
all of his various duties not only to my entire satisfaction 
but in a manner which reflected the greatest credit to him- 
self as well as to the Marine Corps of which he was a worthy 
representative. Due to the fact that the rapidity of our 
construction work had exceeded that with which airplanes 
were being built at home, we entered into an agreement with 
the Italian Government whereby we obtained a number of 
Caproni planes in exchange for raw materials. Several of 
these large bombing airplanes were successfully flown over 
the Alps to the fields of Flanders, under the direction of 
Lieutenant-Commander E. O. MacDonnell, who deserves 
the greatest credit for the energetic and resourceful manner 
in which he executed this difficult task/ 

In September, 1918, Captain Cone's duties took him to 
Ireland ; the ship on which he sailed, the Leinster, was tor- 
pedoed in the Irish Sea ; Captain Cone was picked up 
unconscious in the water, and, when taken to the hospital, 
it was discovered that both his legs were broken. It was 
therefore necessary to appoint another officer in his stead, 
and I selected Lieutenant W. A. Edwards, who had served 
with credit on the destroyer Gushing, and who, for some 
time, had been second in command to Captain Cone in the 
aviation section. It was almost unprecedented to put at 
the head of such an important branch a young lieutenant 
who had only been out of the naval academy for a few 
years ; ordinarily the duties would have required a man of 
Admiral's rank. Lieutenant Edwards, however, was not 
only extremely capable, but he had the gift of getting along 
splendidly with our Allies, particularly the British, with 
whom our intercourse was necessarily extensive, and with 


whom he was very popular. He remained in charge of the 
department for the rest of the war, winning golden opinions 
from his superiors and his subordinates, and the Distin- 
guished Service Order from King George. 

The armistice was signed before our aviation work had 
got completely into running order. Yet its accomplish- 
ments were highly creditable ; and had the war lasted a 
little longer they would have reached great proportions. 
Of the thirty-nine direct attacks made on submarines, ten 
were, in varying degrees, " successful." Perhaps the most 
amazing hit made by any seaplane in the war was that 
scored by Ensign Paul F. Ives ; he dropped a bomb upon a 
submarine, striking it directly on its deck ; the result was 
partly tragical, partly ludicrous, for the bomb proved to be 
a " dud " and did not explode ! In commenting upon this 
and another creditable attack, the British Admiralty wrote 
as follows : 

I beg to enclose for your information reports of attacks 
made on two enemy submarines on the 25th March by 
Pilot Ensign J. F. McNamara, U.S.N., and Pilot Ensign 
P. F. Ives, U.S.N. 

The Admiralty are of opinion that the submarine attacked 
by Pilot Ensign McNamara was damaged and that the 
attack of Pilot Ensign Ives might also have been successful 
had not his bombs failed to explode, which was due to no 
fault of his own. 

I should add that Wing Commander, Portsmouth Group 
has expressed his appreciation of the valuable assistance 
rendered by the United States Pilots. 

At the cessation of hostilities we had a total of more than 
500 planes of various descriptions actually in commission, a 
large number of which were in actual operation over the 
North Sea, the Irish Sea, the Bay of Biscay, and the Adria- 
tic ; our bombing planes were making frequent flights over 
enemy submarine bases, and 2,500 officers and 22,000 en- 
listed men were making raids, doing patrols, bombing sub- 
marines, bombing enemy bases, taking photographs, making 
reconnaissance over enemy waters, and engaging enemy 
aircraft. There can be no doubt but that this great force 
was a factor in persuading the enemy to acknowledge 
defeat when he did. 


A few simple comparisons will illustrate the gigantic task 
which confronted us and the difficulties which were success- 
fully overcome in the establishment of our naval aviation 
force on foreign service. If all the buildings constructed 
and used for barracks for officers and men were joined end 
to end, they would stretch for a distance of twelve miles. 
The total cubic contents of all structures erected and used 
could be represented by a box 245 ft. wide, 300 ft. long, and 
1,500 ft. high. In such a box more than ten Woolworth 
buildings could be easily placed. Twenty-nine telephone 
exchanges were installed, and in addition connections were 
made to existing long-distance lines in England and France, 
and approximately 800 miles of long-distance lines were 
constructed in Ireland, so that every station could be com- 
municated with from London headquarters. The lumber 
used for construction work would provide a board-walk one 
foot wide, extending from New York City to the Isle of 
Malta a distance of more than 4,000 miles. 

When we consider the fact that during the war naval 
aviation abroad grew in personnel to be more than one-half 
the size of the entire pre-war American navy, it is not at all 
astonishing that all of those regular officers who had been 
trained in this service were employed almost exclusively in 
an administrative capacity, which naturally excluded them 
from taking part in the more exciting work of bombing sub- 
marines and fighting aircraft. To their credit be it said 
that they chafed considerably under this enforced restraint, 
but they were so few in number that we had to employ them 
not in command of seaplanes, but of air stations where they 
rendered the most valuable service. 

For the reserves I entertain the very highest regard and 
even personal affection. Collectively they were magnificent 
and they reflected the greatest credit upon the country they 
served so gallantly and with such brilliant success. I know 
of no finer individual exploit in the war than that of Ensign 
C. H. Hammon who, while attached to our Air Station at 
Porto Corsini, took part in a bombing raid on Pola, in 
which he engaged two enemy airplanes and as a result had 
his plane hit in several places. During this engagement a 
colleague, Ensign G. H. Ludlow, was shot down. Ensign 
Hammon went to his rescue, landed his boat on the water 
just outside of Pola harbour, picked up the stricken aviator, 
and flew back to Porto Corsini, a distance of seventy-five 


miles. A heavy sea made it highly probable that his frail 
boat, already damaged by his combat with the enemy, 
would collapse and that he would be drowned or captured 
and made a prisoner of war. For this act of courageous 
devotion to duty I recommended Ensign Hammon for the 
Congressional Medal of Honour. 

The mention of this officer calls to my mind the exploits 
of Lieutenant-Commander A. L. Gates, who was the second 
of only three officers attached to the Naval Forces in 
Europe whom I recommended for the Congressional Medal of 
Honour. The citation in the case of Gates reads as follows 
and needs no elaboration to prove the calibre of the man : 
" This officer commanded the U.S. Naval Air Station, 
Dunkirk, France, with very marked efficiency and under 
almost constant shell and bomb fire from the enemy. Alone 
and unescorted he rescued the crew of a British airplane 
WTecked in the sea off Ostend, for which he was awarded the 
Distinguished Flying Cross by the British Government. 
This act of bravery was actually over and above the duties 
required of this officer and in itself demonstrates the highest 
type of courage. Lieutenant -Commander Gates took part 
in a number of flights over the enemy lines and was shot 
down in combat and taken prisoner by the enemy. He 
made several heroic and determined attempts to escape. 
During all of his service this officer was a magnificent ex- 
ample of courage, modesty, and energetic devotion to duty. 
He at all times upheld the very highest traditions of the 
Naval Service." 

Volumes could well be written about the work of these 
splendid young Americans of how Ensign Stephen Potter 
shot down in flames an enemy seaplane from a position over 
Heligoland Bight ; unfortunately he made the supreme 
sacrifice only a month later when he in turn was shot down 
in flames and fell to his resting-place in the North Sea ; and 
of De Cernea and Wilcox and Ludlow. Theirs was the 
spirit which dominated the entire Force and which made it 
possible to accomplish what seemed at times to be almost 
the impossible. It was the superior " will to victory " 
which proved to be invincible. 



BESIDES transporting American troops, the Navy, in one 
detail of its work, actually participated in warfare on the 
Western Front. Though this feature of our effort has 
nothing to do with the main subject, the defeat of the sub- 
marine, yet any account of the American navy in the war 
which overlooks the achievements of our naval batteries 
on land would certainly be incomplete. The use of naval 
guns in war operations was not unprecedented ; the British 
used such guns in the Boer War, particularly at Ladysmith 
and Spion Kop ; and there were occasions in which such 
armament rendered excellent service in the Boxer Rebellion. 
All through the Great War, British, French, and Germans 
frequently reinforced their army artillery with naval batter- 
ies. But, compared with the American naval guns which 
under the command of Rear-Admiral Charles P. Plunkett 
performed such telling deeds against the retreating Germans 
in the final phases of the conflict, all previous equipment of 
naval guns on shore had been less efficient in one highly 
important respect. 

For the larger part of the war, the Germans had had a 
great gun stationed in Belgium bombarding Dunkirk. 
The original purpose in sending American naval batteries to 
France was to silence this gun. The proposal was made in 
November, 1917 ; but, rapidly as the preparations pro- 
gressed, the situation had entirely changed before our five 
fourteen-inch guns were ready to leave for France. In the 
spring of 1918 the Germans began the great drive which 
nearly took them to the Channel ports ; and under the con- 
ditions which prevailed in that area it was impossible to send 
our guns to the Belgian coast. Meanwhile, the enemy had 
stationed a gun, having a range of nearly seventy -five miles, 
in the forest of Compiegne ; the shells from this weapon, con- 
20 289 


stantly falling upon Paris, were having a more demoralizing 
effect upon the French populace than was officially admitted. 
The demand for the silencing of this gun came from all sides ; 
and it was a happy coincidence that, at just about the time 
when this new peril appeared, the American naval guns 
were nearly ready to be transported to France. Encouraged 
by the success of this long-range gun on Paris, the Germans 
were preparing long-range bombardments on several sections 
of the front. They had taken huge guns from the new 
battle-cruiser Hindenburg and mounted them at convenient 
points for bombarding Dunkirk, Chalons-sur-Mame, and 
Nancy. In all, the Allied intelligence departments reported 
that sixteen guns of great calibre had left Kiel in May, 1918, 
and that they would soon be trained upon important 
objectives in France. For this reason it was welcome news 
to the Allies, who were deficient in this type of artillery, 
that five naval fourteen -inch guns, with mountings and 
ammunition and supply trains, were ready to embark for 
the European field. The Navy received an urgent request 
from General Pershing that these guns should be landed at 
St. Nazaire ; it was to be their main mission to destroy the 
" Big Bertha " which was raining shells on Paris, and to 
attack specific points, especially railroad communications 
and the bridges across the Rhine. 

The initiative in the design of these mobile railway 
batteries was taken by the Bureau of Ordnance of the Navy 
Department, under Rear-Admiral Ralph Earle, and the 
details of the design were worked out by the officers of that 
bureau and Admiral Plunkett. The actual construction 
of the great gun mounts on the cars from which the guns 
were to be fired, and of the specially designed cars of the 
supply trains for each gun, was an engineering feat which 
reflects great credit upon the Baldwin Locomotive Works 
and particularly upon its president, Mr. Samuel M. Vauclain, 
who undertook the task with the greatest enthusiasm. The 
reason why our naval guns represented a greater achieve- 
ment than anything of a similar nature accomplished by the 
Germans was that they were mobile. Careful observations 
taken of the bombardment of Dunkirk revealed the fact 
that the gun with which it was being done was steadily 
losing range. This indicated that the weapon was not a 
movable one, but that it was firmly implanted in a fixed 
position. The seventy-five mile gun which was bombard- 


ing Paris was similarly emplaced. The answering weapon 
which our ordnance department now proposed to build was 
to have the ability to travel from place to place to go to 
any position to which the railroad system of France could 
take it. To do this it would be necessary to build a mount- 
ing on a railroad car and to supply cars which could carry 
the crews, their sleeping quarters, their food and ammuni- 
tion ; to construct, indeed, a whole train for each separate 
gun. This equipment must be built in the United States, 
shipped over three thousand miles of ocean, landed at a 
French port, assembled there, and started on French rail- 
roads to the several destinations at the front. The Baldwin 
Locomotive Works accepted the contract for constructing 
these mountings and attendant cars; it began work February 
13, 1918 ; two months afterward the first mount had been 
finished and the gun was being proved at Sandy Hook, 
New Jersey ; and by July all five guns had arrived at St. 
Nazaire and were being prepared to be sent forward to the 
scene of hostilities. The rapidity with which this work was 
completed furnished an illustration of American manu- 
facturing genius at its best. Meanwhile, Admiral Plunkett 
had collected and trained his crews ; it speaks well for the 
moral of the Navy that, when news of this great operation 
was first noised about, more than 20,000 officers and men 
volunteered for the service. 

At first the French, great as was their admiration for these 
guns and the astonishingly accurate marksmanship which 
they had displayed on their trials, believed that their rail- 
road beds and their bridges could not sustain such a weight ; 
the French engineers, indeed, declined at the beginning to 
approve our request for the use of their rails. The constant 
rain of German shells on Paris, however, modified this 
attitude ; the situation was so urgent that such assistance 
as these American guns promised was welcome. One 
August morning, therefore, the first train started for Helles 
Mouchy, the point from which it was expected to silence the 
" Big Bertha." The progress of this train through France 
was a triumphant march. Our own confidence in the French 
road bed and bridges was not much greater than that of the 
French themselves ; the train therefore went along slowly, 
climbed the grades at a snail's pace, and took the curves with 
the utmost caution. As they crossed certain of the bridges, 
the crews held their breath and sat tight, expecting almost 


every moment to crash through. All along the route the 
French populace greeted the great battery train with one 
long cheer, and at the towns and villages the girls decorated 
the long muzzle of the gun with flowers. But there were 
other spectators than the French. Expertly as this 
unusual train had been camouflaged, the German airplane 
observers had detected its approach. As it neared the 
objective the shells that had been falling on Paris ceased ; 
before the Americans could get to work, the Germans had 
removed their mighty weapon, leaving nothing but an 
emplacement as a target for our shells. Though our men 
were therefore deprived of the privilege of destroying this 
famous long-range gun, it is apparent that their arrival 
saved Paris from further bombardment, for nothing was 
heard of the gun for the rest of the war. 

The guns proved exceedingly effective in attacking 
German railroad centres, bridges, and other essential 
positions ; and as they could be fired from any point of the 
railroad tracks behind the Western Front, and as they could 
be shifted from one position to another, with all their 
personnel and equipment, as fast as the locomotives could 
haul them, it w r as apparent that the more guns of this design 
that could be supplied the better. These qualities were at 
once recognized by the Army, which called upon the Navy 
for assistance in building a large number of railway batter- 
ies ; and if the war had continued these great guns would 
soon have been thundering all along the Western Front. 

From the time the naval guns were mounted until the 
armistice Admiral Plunkett's men were busy on several 
points of the Allied lines. In this time the five naval guns 
fired 782 shells at distances ranging from 18 to 23 miles. 
They played great havoc in the railroad yards at Laon, 
destroying large stretches of track that were indispensable 
to the Germans, and in general making this place practically 
useless as a railroad centre. Probably the greatest service 
which they rendered to the cause of the Allies was in the re- 
gion north of Verdun. In late October three naval batteries 
were brought up to Charny and Thierville and began bom- 
barding the railroad which ran through Montmedy, Lon- 
guyon, and Conflans. This was the most important line of 
communication on the Western Front ; it was the road over 
which the German army in the east was supplied, and there 
was practically no other line by which the great German 


armies engaging the Americans could escape. From 
October 23rd to the hour when the armistice was signed our 
fourteen-inch guns were raining shells upon this road. So 
successful was this bombardment that the German traffic 
was stopped, not only while the firing was taking place, but 
for several hours each day after it had ceased. What this 
meant to the success of the Allied armies the world now 
knows. The result is perfectly summed up in General 
Pershing's report : 

" Our large calibre guns," he says, " had advanced and 
were skilfully brought into position to fire upon the im- 
portant lines at Montmedy, Longuyon, and Conflans ; the 
strategical goal which was our highest hope was gained. 
We had cut the enemy's main line of communications and 
nothing but surrender or an armistice could save his army 
from complete disaster." 

These guns were, of course, only one of many contributing 
factors, but that the Navy had its part in this great achieve- 
ment is another example of the success with which our two 
services co-operated with each other throughout the war 
a co-operation which, for efficient and harmonious devotion 
to a common cause, has seldom, if ever, been equalled. 




IN March, 1918, it became apparent that the German sub- 
marine campaign had failed. The prospect that confronted 
the Allied forces at that time, when compared with the 
conditions which had faced them in April, 1917, forms one 
of the most impressive contrasts in history. In the first 
part of the earlier year the cause of the Allied Powers, and 
consequently the cause of liberty throughout the world, 
had reached the point almost of desperation. On both 
land and sea the Germans seemed to hold the future in 
their hands. In Europe the armies of the Central Powers 
were everywhere in the ascendant. The French and British 
were holding their own in France, and in the Somme cam- 
paign they had apparently inflicted great damage upon the 
German forces, yet the disintegration of the Russian army, 
the unmistakable signs of which had already appeared, was 
bringing nearer the day when they would have to meet the 
undivided strength of their enemy. At the time in 
question, Rumania, Serbia, and Montenegro were con- 
quered countries, and Italy seemed unable to make any 
progress against the Austrians. Bulgaria and Turkey had 
become practically German provinces, and the dream of a 
great Germanic eastern empire was rapidly approaching 
realization. So strong was Germany in a military sense, 
so little did she apprehend that the United States could ever 
assemble her resources and her men in time to make them 
a decisive element in the struggle, that the German war 
lords, in their effort to bring the European conflict to a 
quick conclusion, did not hesitate to take the step which 



was destined to make our country their enemy. Probably 
no nation ever adopted a war measure with more confidence 
in its success. The results which the German submarines 
could accomplish seemed at that time to be simply a matter 
of mathematical calculation. The Germans estimated 
that they could sink at least 1,000,000 tons a month, com- 
pletely cut off Great Britain's supplies of food and war 
materials, and thus end the war by October or November 
of 1917. Even though the United States should declare 
war, what could an unprepared nation like our own accom- 
plish in such a brief period ? Millions of troops we might 
indeed raise, but we could not train them in three or four 
months, and, even though we could perform such a miracle, 
it was ridiculous to suppose that we could transport them 
to Europe through the submarine danger zone. I have 
already shown that the Germans were not alone in thus 
predicting the course of events. In the month of April, 
1917, 1 had found the Allied officials just about as distressed 
as the Germans were jubilant. Already the latter, in sink- 
ing merchant ships, had had successes which almost equalled 
their own predictions ; no adequate means of defence 
against the submarine had been devised ; and the chiefs of 
the British navy made no attempts to disguise their appre- 
hension for the future. 

Such was the atmosphere of gloom which prevailed in 
Allied councils in April, 1917 ; yet one year later the naval 
situation had completely changed. The reasons for that 
change have been set forth in the preceding pages. In that 
brief twelve months the relative position of the submarine 
had undergone a marked transformation. Instead of being 
usually the pursuer it was now often the pursued. Instead 
of sailing jauntily upon the high seas, sinking helpless 
merchantmen almost at will, it was half-heartedly lying in 
wait along the coasts, seeking its victims in the vessels of 
dispersed convoys. If it attempted to push out to sea, and 
attack a convoy, escorting destroyers were likely to deliver 
one of their dangerous attacks ; if it sought the shallower 
coastal waters, a fleet of yachts, sloops, and subchasers 
was constantly ready to assail it with dozens of depth 
charges. An attempt to pass through the Straits of Dover 
meant almost inevitable destruction by mines ; an attempt 
to escape into the ocean by the northern passage involved 
the momentary dread of a similar end or the hazard of 


navigating the difficult Pentland Firth. In most of the 
narrow passages Allied submarines lay constantly in wait 
with their torpedoes ; a great fleet of airplanes and dirig- 
ibles was always circling above ready to rain a shower of 
bombs upon the under-water foe. Already the ocean floor 
about the British Isles held not far from 200 sunken sub- 
marines, with most of their crews, amounting to at least 
4,000 men, whose deaths involved perhaps the most hideous 
tragedies of the war. Bad as was this situation, it was 
nothing compared with what it would become a few months 
or a year later. American and British shipyards were 
turning out anti-submarine craft with great rapidity ; the 
industries of America, with their enormous output of steel, 
had been enlisted in the anti-submarine campaign. The 
American and British shipbuilding facilities were neutral- 
izing the German campaign in two ways : they were not 
only constructing war vessels on a scale which would soon 
drive all the German submarines from the sea, but they 
were building merchant tonnage so rapidly that, in March, 
1918, more new tonnage was launched than was being 
destroyed. Thus by this time the Teutonic hopes of ending 
the war by the submarine had utterly collapsed ; if the 
Germans were to win the war at all, or even to obtain a 
peace which would not be disastrous, some other programme 
must be adopted and adopted quickly. 

Disheartened by their failure at sea, the enemy therefore 
turned their eyes once more toward the land. "The destruc- 
tion of Russian military power had given the German 
armies a great numerical superiority over those of the Allies. 
There seemed little likelihood that the French or the British, 
after three years of frightfully gruelling war, could add 
materially to their forces. Thus, with the grouping of the 
Powers, such as existed in 1917, the Germans had a tremen- 
dous advantage on their side, for Russia, which German 
statesmen for fifty years had feared as a source of inex- 
haustible man-supply to her enemies, had disappeared as a 
military power. But a new element in the situation now 
counterbalanced this temporary gain ; that was the daily 
increasing importance of the United States in the war. 
The Germans, who in 1917 had despised us as an enemy, 
immediate or prospective, now despised us no longer. 
The army which they declared could never be raised and 
trained was actually being raised and trained by the millions. 


The nation which their publicists had denounced as lacking 
cohesion and public spirit had adopted conscription simul- 
taneously with their declaration of war, and the people 
whom the Germans had affected to regard as devoted only 
to the pursuit of gain and pleasure had manifested a unity 
of purpose which they had never before displayed, and had 
offered their lives, their labours, and their wealth without 
limit to the cause of the Allies. Up to March, 1918, only a 
comparatively small part of this American army had 
reached Europe, but the Germans had already tested its 
fighting quality and had learned to respect it. Yet all these 
manifestations would not have disturbed the Germanic 
calculations except for one depressing fact. Even a nation 
of 100,000,000 brave and energetic people, fully trained and 
equipped for war, is not a formidable foe so long as an 
impassable watery gulf of three thousand miles separates 
them from the field of battle. 

For the greater part of 1917 the German people believed 
that their submarines could bar the progress of the American 
armies. By March, 1918, they had awakened from this 
delusion. Not only was an American army millions strong 
in process of formation, but the alarming truth now 
dawned upon the Germans that it could be transported to 
Europe. The great industries of America could provide 
munitions and food to supply any number of soldiers inde- 
finitely, and these, too, could be brought to the Western 
Front. Outwardly, the German chiefs might still affect to 
despise this new foe, but in their hearts they knew that it 
spelt their doom. They were not now dealing with a corrupt 
Czardom and hordes of ignorant and passionless Slavs, 
who could be eliminated by propaganda and sedition ; 
they were dealing with millions of intelligent and energetic 
freemen, all animated by a mighty and almost religious 
purpose. Yet the situation, desperate as it seemed, held 
forth one more hope. If the German armies, which still 
greatly outnumbered the French and British, could strike 
and win a decisive victory before the Americans could 
arrive, then they might still force a satisfactory peace. " It 
is a race between Ludendorff and Wilson " is the terse and 
accurate way in which Lloyd George summed up the 
situation. The great blow fell on March 21, 1918 ; the 
British and the French met it with heroism, but it was quite 
evident that they were fighting against terrible odds. At 


this time the American army in France numbered about 
300,000 men ; it now became the business of the American 
navy, assisted by the British, to transport the American 
troops who could increase these forces sufficiently to turn 
the balance in the Allies' favour. 

The supreme hour, to which all the anti-submarine labours 
of the preceding year were merely preliminary, had now 
arrived. Since the close of the war there has been much 
discussion of the part which the American navy played in 
bringing it to a successful end. Even during the war there 
was some criticism on this point. There were two more or 
less definite opinions in the public mind upon this question. 
One was that the main business of our war vessels was to 
convoy the American soldiers to France ; the other empha- 
sized the anti-submarine warfare as its most important duty. 
Anyone would suppose, from the detached way in which 
these two subjects have been discussed, that the anti-sub- 
marine warfare and the successful transportation of troops 
were separate matters. An impression apparently prevails 
that, at the beginning of the war, the American navy could 
have quietly decided whether it would devote its energies to 
making warfare on the submarine or to convoying Amer- 
ican armies ; yet the absurdity of such a conception must 
be apparent to anyone who has read the foregoing pages. 
The several operations in which the Allied navies engaged 
were all part of a comprehensive programme ; they were all 
interdependent. According to my idea, the business of 
the American navy \vas to join its forces whole-heartedly 
with those of the Allies in the effort to win the war. Any- 
thing which helped to accomplish this great purpose became 
automatically our duty. Germany was basing her chances 
of success upon the submarine ; our business was therefore 
to assist in defeating the submarine. The cause of the 
Allies was our cause ; our cause was the cause of the Allies ; 
anything which benefited the Allies benefited the United 
States ; and anything which benefited the United States 
benefited the Allies. Neither we nor France nor England 
were conducting a separate campaign ; we were separate 
units of an harmonious whole. At the beginning the one 
pressing duty was to put an end to the sinking of merchant- 
men, not because these merchantmen were for the larger 
part British, but because the failure to do so would have 
meant the elimination of Great Britain from the war, with 


results which would have meant defeat for the other Allies. 
Let us imagine, for a moment, what the sequence of events 
would have been had the submarine campaign against mer- 
chant shipping succeeded ; in that case Britain and France 
would have been compelled to surrender unconditionally 
and the United States would therefore have been forced to 
fight the Central Empires alone. Germany's terms of peace 
would have included the surrender of all the Allied fleets ; 
this would eventually have left the United States navy to 
fight the German navy reinforced by the ships of Great 
Britain, Austria, France, and Italy. In such a contest we 
should have been outnumbered about three or four to one. 
I have such confidence in the power and purpose of America 
as to believe that, even in a single-handed conflict with 
Germany, we should have won in the end ; but it is evident 
that the problem would have been quite a different one 
from that of fighting in co-operation with the Allies against 
the Germanic foe. 

Simply as a matter of self-interest and strategy it was 
certainly wisdom to throw the last ounce of our strength into 
the scale of the Allied navies ; and it was therefore inevitable 
that we should first of all use our anti-submarine craft to 
protect all shipping sailing to Europe and to clear the sea of 
submarines. In doing this we were protecting the food 
supply not only of Great Britain, but of France and our 
other Allies, for most of the materials which we sent to our 
European friends were transported first to England and 
thence were shipped across the Channel. Moreover, our 
twelve months' campaign against the submarine was an 
invaluable preliminary to transporting the troops. Does 
any sane person believe that we could have put two million 
Americans into France had the German submarines main- 
tained until the spring and summer of 1918 the striking 
power which had been theirs in the spring of 1917 ? Merely 
to state the question is to answer it. In that same twelve 
months we had gained much experience which was exceed- 
ingly valuable when we began transporting troops in great 
numbers. The most efficacious protection to merchant 
shipping, the convoy, was similarly the greatest safeguard 
to our military transports. Those methods which had 
been so successfully used in shipping food, munitions, and 
materials were now used in shipping soldiers. The section 
of the great headquarters which we had developed in London 


for routing convoys was used for routing transports, and 
the American naval officer, Captain Byron A. Long, who 
had demonstrated such great ability in this respect, was 
likewise the master mind in directing the course of the 
American soldiers to France. 

In other ways we had laid the foundations for this, the 
greatest troop movement in history. In the preceding 
twelve months we had increased the oil tankage at Brest 
more than fourfold, sent over repair ships, and augmented 
its repair facilities. This port and all of our naval activities 
in France were under the command first of Rear- Admiral 
Wm. B. Fletcher, and later Rear- Admiral Henry B. Wilson. 
It was a matter of regret that we could not earlier have made 
Brest the main naval base for the American naval forces in 
France, for it was in some respects strategically better 
located for that purpose than was any other port in Europe. 
Even for escorting certain merchant convoys into the 
Channel Brest would have provided a better base than 
either Plymouth or Queenstown. A glance at the map 
explains why. To send destroyers from Queenstown to 
pick up convoys and escort them into the Channel or to 
French ports and thence return to their base involved a 
long triangular trip ; to send such destroyers from Brest 
to escort these involved a smaller amount of steaming and a 
direct east and west voyage. Similarly, Queenstown was 
a much better location for destroyers sent to meet convoys 
bound for ports in the Irish Sea over the northern " trunk 
line." But unfortunately it was utterly impossible to use 
the great natural advantages of Brest in the early days of 
war ; the mere fact that this French harbour possessed 
most inadequate tankage facilities put it out of the question, 
and it was also very deficient in docks, repair facilities, and 
other indispensable features of a naval base. At this time 
Brest was hardly more than able to provide for the require- 
ments of the French, and it would have embarrassed our 
French allies greatly had we attempted to establish a large 
American force there, before we had supplied the essential 
oil fuel and repair facilities. The ships which we did send 
in the first part of the war w r ere mostly yachts, of the 
" dollar-a-year " variety, which their owners had gener- 
ously given to the national service ; then* crews were largely 
of that type of young business man and college under- 
graduate to whose skill and devotion I have already paid 


tribute. This little flotilla acquitted itself splendidly up 
and down the coast of France. Meanwhile, we were con- 
structing fuel-oil tanks ; and as soon as these were ready 
and repair ships were available, we began building up a 
large force at Brest a force which was ultimately larger 
than the one we maintained at Queenstown ; at the height 
of the troop movements it comprised about 36 destroyers, 
12 yachts, 3 tenders, and several mine-sweepers and tugs. 
The fine work which this detachment accomplished in 
escorting troop and supply convoys is sufficient evidence of 
the skill acquired by the destroyers and other vessels in 
carrying out their duties in this peculiar warfare. 

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, a great 
organization had been created under the able direction of 
Rear- Admiral Albert Cleaves for maintaining and adminis- 
tering the fleet of transports and their ocean escorts. Also, 
as soon as war was declared the work was begun of convert- 
ing into transports those German merchant ships which had 
been interned in American ports. The successful com- 
pletion of this work was, in itself, a great triumph for the 
American navy. Of the vessels which the Germans had 
left in our hands, seventeen at New York, Boston, Norfolk, 
and Philadelphia, seemed to be adapted for transport 
purposes, but the Germans had not intended that we should 
make any such use of them. The condition of these ships, 
after their German custodians had left, was something 
indescribable ; they reflected great discredit upon German 
seamanship, for it would have been impossible for any 
people which really loved ships to permit them to deterior- 
ate as had these vessels and to become such cesspools of 
filth. For three years the Germans had evidently made no 
attempt to clean them ; the sanitary conditions were so 
bad that our workmen could not sleep on board, but had to 
have sleeping quarters near the docks ; they spent weeks 
scrubbing, scraping, and disinfecting, in a finally successful 
effort to make the ships suitable habitations for human 
beings. Not only had the Germans permitted such liners as 
the Vaterland and the Kronprinzessin Cecilie to go neglected, 
but, on their departure, they had attempted to injure them 
in all conceivable ways. The cylinders had been broken, 
engines had been smashed, vital parts of the machinery had 
been removed and thrown into the sea, ground glass had 
been placed in the oil cups, gunpowder had been placed in 


the coal evidently in the hope of causing explosions when 
the vessels were at sea and other damage of a more subtle 
nature had been done, it evidently being the expectation 
that the ships would break down when on the ocean and 
beyond the possibility of repair. Although our navy yards 
had no copies of the plans of these vessels or their machinery 
the Germans having destroyed them all and although 
the missing parts were of peculiarly German design, they 
succeeded, in an incredibly short time, in making them 
even better and speedier vessels than they had ever been 

The national sense of humour did not fail the transport 
service when it came to rechristening these ships ; the 
Princess Irene became the Pocahontas, the Rhein the Sus- 
qfiehanna ; and there was also an ironic justice in the fact 
that the Vaterland, which had been built by the Germans 
partly for the purpose of transporting troops in war, 
actually fulfilled this mission, though not quite in the way 
which the Germans had anticipated. Meanwhile, both the 
American and the British mercantile marines were supple- 
menting this German tonnage. The first troops which we 
sent to France, in June, 1917, were transported in ships of 
the United Fruit Company ; and when the German blow 
was struck, in March, 1918, both the United States and 
Great Britain began collecting from all parts of the world 
vessels which could be used as troop transports. We called 
in all available vessels from the Atlantic and Pacific coasts 
and the Great Lakes ; England stripped her trade routes to 
South America, Australia, and the East, and France and 
Italy also made their contributions. Of all the American 
troops sent to France from the beginning of the war, the 
United States provided transports for 46*25 per cent., Great 
Britain for 51*25, the remainder being provided by France 
and Italy. Of those sent between March, 1918, and the 
armistice, American vessels carried 42' 15 per cent., British 
55' 40 per cent. 1 

Yet there was one element in the safe transportation of 
troops which was even more fundamental than those which 
I have named. The basis of all our naval operations was 
the dreadnoughts and the battle -cruisers of the Grand 
Fleet. It was this aggregation, as I have already indicated, 

1 These figures are taken from the Annual Report of the Secretary 
of the Navy for 1919, page 207. 


which made possible the operation of all the surface ships 
that destroyed the effectiveness of the submarines. Had 
the Grand Fleet suddenly disappeared beneath the waves, 
all these offensive craft would have been driven from the 
seas, the Allies' sea lines of communication would have 
been cut, and the war would have ended in Germany's 
favour. From the time the transportation of troops began 
the United States had a squadron of five dreadnought 
battleships constantly with the Grand Fleet. The following 
vessels performed this important duty : the New York, 
Captain C. F. Hughes, afterward Captain E. L. Beach ; the 
Wyoming, Captain H. A. Wiley, afterward Captain H. H. 
Christy ; the Florida, Captain Thomas Washington, after- 
ward Captain M. M. Taylor ; the Delaware, Captain A. H. 
Scales ; the Arkansas, Captain W. H. G. Bullard, afterward 
Captain L. R. de Steiguer ; and the Texas, Captain Victor 
Blue. These vessels gave this great force an unquestioned 
preponderance, and made it practically certain that 
Germany would not attempt another general sea battle. 
Under Rear-Admiral Hugh Rodman, the American 
squadron performed excellent service and made the most 
favourable impression upon the chiefs of the Allied navies. 
Under the general policy of co-operation established 
throughout our European naval forces these vessels were 
quickly made a part of the Grand Fleet in so far as con- 
cerned their military operations. This was, of course, 
wholly essential to efficiency a point the layman does not 
always understand so essential, in fact, that it may be 
said that, if the Grand Fleet had gone into battle the day 
after our vessels joined, the latter might have decreased 
rather than increased the fighting efficiency of the whole ; 
for, though our people and the British spoke the same 
language, the languages of the ships, that is, their methods 
of communication by signals, were wholly different. It 
was therefore our duty to stow our signal flags and books 
down below, and learn the British signal language. This 
they did so well that four days after their arrival they went 
out and manoeuvred successfully with the Grand Fleet. In 
the same way they adopted the British systems of tactics 
and fire control, and in every other way conformed to the 
established practices of the British. Too great praise 
cannot be given the officers and men of our squadron, not 
only for their efficiency and the cordiality of their co- 


operation, but for the patience with which they bore the 
almost continuous restriction to their ships, and the long 
vigil without the opportunity of a contact with the enemy 
forces. Just how well our ships succeeded in this essential 
co-operation was expressed by Admiral Sir David Beatty 
in the farewell speech which he made to them upon the day 
of their departure for home. He said in part : 

" I want, first of all, to thank you, Admiral Rodman, 
the captains, officers, and ships' companies of the magnifi- 
cent squadron, for the wonderful co-operation and the 
loyalty you have given to me and to my admirals ; and the 
assistance that you have given us in every duty you had to 
undertake. The support which you have shown is that of 
true comradeship ; and in time of stress, that is worth a 
very great deal. 

" You will return to your own shores ; and I hope in the 
sunshine, which Admiral Rodman tells me always shines 
there, you won't forget your ' comrades of the mist ' and 
your pleasant associations of the North Sea. . . . 

" I thank you again and again for the great part the 
Sixth Battle Squadron played in bringing about the greatest 
naval victory in history. I hope you will give this message 
to your comrades : ' Come back soon. Good-bye and good 

But these were not the only large battleships which the 
United States had sent to European waters. Despite all 
the precautions which I have described, there was still one 
danger which constantly confronted American troop 
transports. By June and July, 1918, our troops were 
crossing the Atlantic in enormous numbers, about 300,000 
a month, and were accomplishing most decisive results 
upon the battlefield. A successful attack upon a convoy, 
involving the sinking of one or more transports, would have 
had no important effect upon the war, but it would probably 
have improved German moral and possibly have injured 
that of the Americans. There was practically only one 
way in which such an attack could be made ; one or more 
German battle-cruisers might slip out to sea and assail one 
of our troop convoys. In order to prepare for such a 
possibility, the Department sent three of our most powerful 
dreadnoughts to Berehaven, Ireland the Nevada, Captain 


A. T. Long, afterward Captain W. C. Cole ; the Oklahoma, 
Captain M. L. Bristol, afterward Captain C. B. McVay ; 
and the Utah, Captain F. B. Bassett, the whole division 
under the command of Rear-Admiral Thomas S. Rodgers. 
This port is located in Bantry Bay, on the extreme south- 
western coast. For several months our dreadnoughts lay 
here, momentarily awaiting the news that a German raider 
had escaped, ready to start to sea and give battle. But the 
expected did not happen. The fact that this powerful 
squadron was ready for the emergency is perhaps the reason 
why the Germans never attempted the adventure. 


A reference to the map which accompanies this chapter 
will help the reader to understand why our transports were 
able to carry American troops to France so successfully 
that not a single ingoing ship was ever struck by a torpedo. 
This diagram makes it evident that there were two areas of 
the Atlantic through which American shipping could reach 
its European destination. The line of division was about 
the forty-ninth parallel of latitude, the French city of Brest 
representing its most familiar landmark. From this point 
extending southward, as far as the forty-fifth parallel, which 
corresponds to the location of the city of Bordeaux, is a 
great stretch of ocean, about 200 miles wide. It includes 
the larger part of the Bay of Biscay, which forms that huge 
indentation with which our school geographies have made 
us Americans so familiar, and which has always enjoyed 
a particular fame for its storms, the dangers of its coast, 
and the sturdy and independent character of the people on 
its shores. The other distinct area to which the map calls 
attention extends northerly from the forty-ninth parallel 
to the fifty-second ; it comprises the English Channel, 
and includes both the French channel ports, the British 
ports, the southern coast of Ireland, and the entrance to the 
Irish Sea. The width of this second section is very nearly 
the same as that of the one to the south, or about 200 miles. 

Up to the present moment this narrative has been con- 
cerned chiefly with the northernmost of these two great sea 
pathways. Through this one to the north passed practically 
all the merchant shipping which was destined for the Allies. 



Consequently, as I have described, it was the great hunting 
ground of the German submarines. I have thus far had 
little to say of the Bay of Biscay section because, until 1918, 
there was comparatively little activity in that part of the 
ocean. For every ship which sailed through this bay I 


This diagram explains why the American navy succeeded in transporting more than 2,000,000 
American soldiers to France without loss because of submarines. The Atlantic was divided 
into two broad areas shown by the shaded parts of the diagram. Through the northern area 
were sent practically all the merchant ships with supplies of food and materials for Europe. 
The southern area, extending roughly from the forty-fifth to the forty-ninth parallel, was used 
almost exclusively for troopships. The Germans could keep only eight or ten U-boats at the 
same time in the eastern Atlantic ; they thus were forced to choose whether they should devote 
these boats to attacking mercantile or troop convoys. The text explains why, under these 
circumstances, they were compelled to use nearly all their forces against merchant ships and 
leave troop transports practically alone. 

suppose that there were at least 100 which came through the 
Irish Sea and the English Channel. In my first report to 
the Department I described the principal scene of sub- 
marine activity as the area of the Atlantic reaching from 
the French island of Ushant which lies just westward of 
Brest to the tip of Scotland, and that remained the chief 
scene of hostilities to the end. Along much of the coastline 


south of Brest the waters were so shallow that the sub- 
marines could operate only with difficulty ; it was a long 
distance from the German bases ; the shipping consisted 
largely of coastal convoys ; much of this was the coal trade 
from England ; it is therefore not surprising that the 
Germans contented themselves with now and then planting 
mines off the most important harbours. Since our enemy 
was able to maintain only eight or ten U-boats in the 
Atlantic at one time it would have been sheer waste of 
energy to have stationed them off the western coast of 
France. They would have put in their time to little 
purpose, and meanwhile the ships and cargoes which they 
were above all ambitious to destroy would have been safely 
finding their way into British ports. 

The fact that we had these two separate areas and that 
these areas were so different in character was what made it 
possible to send our 2,000,000 soldiers to France without 
losing a single man. From March, 1918, to the conclusion 
of the war, the American and British navies were engaged in 
two distinct transportation operations. The shipment of 
food and munitions continued in 1918 as in 1917, and on 
an even larger scale. With the passing of time the mechan- 
ism of these mercantile convoys increased in efficiency, and 
by March, 1918, the management of this great transporta- 
tion system had become almost automatic. Shipping from 
America came into British ports, it will be remembered, in 
two great " trunk lines," one of which ran through the 
English Channel and the other up the Irish Sea. But when 
the time came to bring over the American troops, we 
naturally selected the area to the south, both because it was 
necessary to send the troops to France and because we had 
here a great expanse of ocean which was relatively free of 
submarines. Our earliest troop shipments disembarked at 
St. Nazaire ; later, when the great trans -Atlantic liners, 
both German and British, were pressed into service, we 
landed many tens of thousands at Brest ; and all the largest 
French ports from Brest to Bordeaux took a share. A 
smaller number we sent to England, from which country 
they were transported across the Channel into France ; 
when the demands became pressing, indeed, hardly a ship 
of any kind was sent to Europe without its quota of Amer- 
ican soldiers ; but, on the whole, the business of transporta- 
tion in 1918 followed simple and well-defined lines. We 


sent mercantile convoys in what I may call the northern 
" lane " and troop convoys in the southern " lane." We 
kept both lines of traffic for the most part distinct ; and 
this simple procedure offered to our German enemies a 
pretty problem. 

For, I must repeat, the German navy could maintain in 
the open Atlantic an average of only about eight or ten of her 
efficient U-boats at one time. The German Admiralty thus 
had to answer this difficult question : Shall we use these 
submarines to attack mercantile convoys or to attack troop 
convoys ? The submarine flotilla which was actively 
engaged was so small that it was absurd to think of sending 
half into each lane ; the Germans must send most of their 
submarines against cargo ships or most of them against 
troopships. Which should it be ? If it were decided to 
concentrate on mercantile vessels then the American armies, 
which the German chiefs had declared to their people could 
never get to the Western Front, would reach France and 
furnish General Foch the reserves with which he might crush 
the German armies before winter. If, on the other hand, 
the Germans should decide to concentrate on troopships, 
then the food and supplies which were essential to the Allied 
cause would flow at an even greater rate into Great Britain 
and thence to the European nations. Whether it were more 
important, in a military sense, to cut the Allies' commercial 
lines of communication or to sink troop transports is an 
interesting question. It is almost impossible for the Anglo- 
Saxon mind to consider this as a purely military matter, 
apart from the human factors involved. The sinking of a 
great transport, with 4,000 or 5,000 American boys on 
board, would have been a dreadful calamity and would have 
struck horror to the American people ; it was something 
which the Navy was determined to prevent, and which we 
did prevent. Considered as a strictly military question, 
however and that was the only consideration which 
influenced the Germans it is hard to see how the loss of one 
transport, or even the loss of several, would have materially 
affected the course of the war. In judging the purely 
military results of such a tragedy, we must remember that 
the Allied armies were losing from 3,000 to 5,000 men a day ; 
thus the sinking of an American transport once a week 
would not have particularly affected the course of the war. 
The destruction of merchant shipping in large quantities, 


however, represented the one way in which the Germans 
could win. There were at least a hundred merchant ships 
to every one of our troopships ; if a considerable number of 
the former could be sunk, Germany would have scored a 
decisive advantage. From the declaration of submarine 
warfare, the objective of the German Admiralty had been 
for " tonnage " ; by March, 1918, as already said, the 
chances of destroying sufficient tonnage to win had become 
extremely slight ; yet it still represented the one logical 
mission of the submarine. 

The two alternatives, however, that of attacking mercan- 
tile convoys or troop convoys, hardly existed in fact. Let 
us suppose for a moment that the Germans had changed 
their programme, had taken their group of operating sub- 
marines from the northern trade routes, and had stationed 
them to the south, in the track of the troop transports. 
What would the results have been ? " Lane," though a con- 
venient word for descriptive purposes, is hardly an accurate 
one ; for this ocean passage-way was really about 200 miles 
wide. Imagine eight or ten submarines, stretched across 
that expanse and hunting for troopships. At this rate the 
Germans would have had about one submarine for every 
twenty miles. Instead of finding themselves sailing amid 
a swarm of surface ships, as they were when they were 
stationed in the busy trade routes of the Irish Sea or the 
English Channel, the submarines would have found them- 
selves drifting on a great waste of waters. Our troop 
convoys averaged not more than three a week even in the 
busiest period ; in all probability the submarines would 
therefore have hung around for a month without catching 
a glimpse of one. Even if by some chance the patient vigil 
should finally have been rewarded, it is extremely unlikely 
that the submarine would ever have found a favourable 
opportunity to attack. We must keep in mind that the 
convoy room at the Admiralty knew, within certain limits, 
the location of submarines from day to day ; any time one 
was located in the track of a troop convoy, therefore, a wire- 
less to the convoy would have conveyed this information 
and directed it to reach the coast of France by another 

At the beginning the speediest vessels only were used for 
transporting troops. Ships which made less than twelve 
knots an hour were not deemed safe for such precious car- 


goes ; when the need for troops became more and more press- 
ing and when our transport service had demonstrated great 
skill in the work, a few slower vessels were used ; but the 
great majority of our troop transports were those which 
made twelve knots or more. Now one of the greatest protec- 
tions which a ship possesses against submarine attack is un- 
questionably high speed. A submarine makes only eight 
knots when submerged and it must submerge immediately 
if its attack is to be successful. It must be within at least a 
mile of its quarry when it discharges its torpedo ; and most 
successful attacks were made within three hundred yards. 
Now take a pencil and a piece of paper and figure out what 
must be the location of a submarine, having a speed of 
eight knots, when it sights a convoy, which makes twelve 
knots and more, if it hopes to approach near enough to 
launch a torpedo. A little diagramming will prove that the 
U-boat must be almost directly in line of its hoped-for 
victim if it is to score a hit. But even though the god of 
Chance should favour the enemy in this way, the likelihood 
of sinking its prey would still be very remote. Like all 
convoys, the troopships began zigzagging as soon as they 
entered the danger zone ; and this in itself made it almost 
impossible for a submarine to get its bearings and take 
good aim. I believe that these circumstances in themselves 
the comparative scarcity of troop transports, the width of 
the " lane " in which they travelled, the high speed which 
they maintained, and their constant zigzagging, would have 
defeated most of the attempts which the Germans could 
have made to torpedo them. Though I think that most of 
them would have reached their destinations unharmed 
without any other protection, still this risk, small as it was, 
could not be taken ; and we therefore gave them one other 
protection greater than any of those which I have yet 
mentioned the destroyer escort. A convoy of four or 
five large troopships would be surrounded by as many as 
ten or a dozen destroyers. Very properly, since they were 
carrying human cargoes, we gave them an escort at least 
three times as large per vessel as that given to large mercan- 
tile convoys of twenty or more vessels ; and this fact made 
them very uninviting baits for the most venturesome 
U-boat commanders. 

When the engineers build a Brooklyn bridge they intro- 
duce an element which they call the factor of safety. It is 


their usual procedure to estimate the greatest weight which 
their structure may be called upon to bear under any con- 
ceivable circumstances and then they make it strong enough 
to stand a number of times that weight. This additional 
strength is the " factor of safety " ; it is never called into 
use, of course, but the consciousness that it exists gives the 
public a sense of security which it could obtain in no other 
way. We adopted a similar policy in transporting these 
millions of American boys to Europe. We also had a large 
margin of safety. We did not depend upon one precaution 
to assure the lives of our soldiers ; we heaped one pre- 
cautionary measure on another. From the embarking of 
the troops at New York or at Hampton Roads to the dis- 
embarkation at Brest, St. Nazaire, La Pallice, Bordeaux, or 
at one of their other destinations, not the minutest safeguard 
was omitted. We necessarily thus somewhat diminished 
the protection of some of the mercantile convoys and 
properly so. This was done whenever the arrival of a troop 
convoy conflicted with the arrival of a merchant convoy. 
Also, until they reached the submarine zone, they were 
attended by a cruiser or a battleship whose business it was 
to protect them against a German raider which might 
possibly have made its escape into the ocean ; the work 
performed by these ocean escorts, practically all of which 
were American, was for the most part unobtrusive and 
unspectacular, but it constitutes a particularly fine example 
of efficiency and seamanlike devotion. At Berehaven, 
Ireland, as described above, we had stationed three power- 
ful American dreadnoughts, momentarily prepared to rush 
to the scene in case one of the great German battle-cruisers 
succeeded in breaking into the open sea. Even the most 
minute precautions were taken by the transports. 

The soldiers and crews were not permitted to throw any- 
thing overboard which might betray the course of a convoy ; 
the cook's refuse was dropped at a particular time and in a 
way that would furnish no clue to a lurking submarine ; 
even a tin can, if thrown into the sea, was first pierced with 
holes to make sure that it would sink. Anyone who struck 
a match at night in the danger zone committed a punishable 
offence. It is thus apparent why the Germans never 
" landed " a single one of our transports. The records 
show only three or four cases in which even attempts were 
made to do this ; and those few efforts were feeble and in- 


effectual. Of course, the boys all had exciting experiences 
with phantom submarines ; indeed I don't suppose that 
there is a single one of our more than 2,000,000 troops who 
has not entertained his friends and relatives with accounts 
of torpedo streaks and schools of U-boats. 

But the Germans made no concerted campaign against 
our transports ; fundamental conditions, already described, 
rendered such an offensive hopeless ; and the skill with 
which our transport service was organized and conducted 
likewise dissuaded them. I have always believed that the 
German Admiralty ordered their U-boat captains to let the 
American transports alone ; or at least not to attack except 
under very favourable circumstances, and this belief is 
rather confirmed by a passage in General Ludendorff's 
memoirs. " From our previous experience of the sub- 
marine war," General Ludendorff writes, " I expected 
strong forces of Americans to come, but the rapidity with 
which they actually did arrive proved surprising. General 
von Cramon, the German military representative at the 
Austro-Hungarian Headquarters, often called me up and 
asked me to insist on the sinking of American troopships ; 
public opinion in Austria-Hungary demanded it. Admiral 
von Holtzendorff could only reply that everything was being 
done to reduce enemy tonnage and to sink troopships. It 
was not possible to direct the submarines against troop- 
ships exclusively. They could approach the coasts of 
Europe anywhere between the north of England and 
Gibraltar, a front of some fourteen hundred nautical miles. 
It was impossible effectively to close this area by means of 
submarines. One could have concentrated them only on 
certain routes ; but whether the troopships would choose 
the same routes at the same time was the question. As soon 
as the enemy heard of submarines anywhere he could always 
send the ships new orders by wireless and unload at another 
port. It was, therefore, not certain that by this method 
we should meet with a sufficient number of troopships. The 
destruction of the enemy's freight tonnage would then have 
been undertaken only spasmodically, and would have been 
set back in an undesirable manner ; and in that way the 
submarine war would have become diverted from its 
original object. The submarine war against commerce was 
therefore continued with all the vigour possible." 

Apparently it became the policy of the German Admiralty, 


as I have said, to concentrate their U-boats on merchant 
shipping and leave the American troopships practically 
alone at least those bound to Europe. Unfortunately, 
however, at no time did we have enough destroyers to 
provide escorts for all of these transports as fast as they 
were unloaded and ready to return to America, but as time 
in the " turn around " was the all-important consideration 
in getting the troops over, the transports were sent back 
through the submarine zone under the escort of armed 
yachts, and occasionally not escorted at all. Under these 
conditions the transports could be attacked with much less 
risk, as was shown by the fact that five were torpedoed, 
though of these happily only three were sunk. 


The position of the German naval chiefs, as is shown by 
the quotation from General Ludendorff's book, was an 
extremely unhappy one. They had blatantly promised the 
German people that their submarines would prevent the 
transportation of American troops to Europe. At first they 
had ridiculed the idea that undisciplined, unmilitary 
America could ever organize an army ; after we adopted 
conscription and began to train our young men by the 
millions, they just as vehemently proclaimed that this army 
could never be landed in Europe. In this opinion the 
German military chieftains were not alone. No such army 
movement had ever before been attempted. The discour- 
aging forecast made by a brilliant British naval authority in 
July, 1917, reflected the ideas of too many military people 
on both sides of the ocean. " I am distressed," he said, 
" at the fact that it appears to me to be impossible to pro- 
vide enough shipping to bring the American army over in 
hundreds of thousands to France, and, after theyare brought 
over, to supply the enormous amount of shipping which 
will be required to keep them full up with munitions, food, 
and equipment." 

It is thus not surprising that the German people accepted 
as gospel the promises of their Admiralty ; therefore their 
anger was unbounded when American troops began to 
arrive. The German newspapers began to ask the most 
embarrassing questions. What had become of their sub- 


marines ? Had the German people not been promised that 
their U-boats would sink any American troopships that 
attempted to cross the ocean ? As the shipments increased, 
and as the effect of these vigorous fresh young troops began 
to be manifest upon the Western Front, the outcries in 
Germany waxed even more fierce and abusive. Von 
Capelle and other German naval chiefs made rambling 
speeches in the Reichstag, once more promising their people 
that the submarines would certainly win the war speeches 
that were followed by ever-increasing arrivals of American 
soldiers in France. The success of our transports led 
directly to the fall of Von Capelle as Minister of Marine ; 
his successor, Admiral von Mann, who was evidently 
driven to desperation by the popular outburst, decided to 
make one frantic attempt to attack our men. The new 
minister, of course, knew that he could accomplish no 
definite results ; but the sinking of even one transport with 
several thousand troops on board would have had a tre- 
mendous effect upon German moral. When the great 
British liner Justicia was torpedoed, the German Admiralty 
officially announced that it was the Leviathan, filled with 
American soldiers ; and the jubilation which followed in 
the German press, and the subsequent dejection when it 
was learned that this was a practically empty transport, 
sailing westward, showed that an actual achievement of 
this kind would have raised their drooping spirits. Admiral 
von Mann, therefore, took several submarines away from 
the trade routes and sent them into the transport zone. 
But they did not succeed even in attacking a single east- 
bound troopship. The only result accomplished was the 
one which, from what I have already said, would have been 
expected ; the removal of the submarines from the com- 
mercial lane caused a great fall in the sinking of merchant 
ships. In August, 1918, these sinkings amounted to 
280,000 tons ; in September and October, when this futile 
drive was made at American transports, the sinkings fell 
to 190,000 and 110,000 tons. 

Too much praise cannot be given to the commanders of 
our troop convoys and the commanding officers of the troop 
transports, as well as the commanders of the cruisers and 
battleships that escorted them from America to the western 
edge of the submarine zone. The success of their valuable 
services is evidence of a_high degree not only of nautical 


skill, judgment, and experience, but of the admirable sea- 
manship displayed under the very unusual conditions of 
steaming without lights while continuously manoeuvring 
in close formation. Moreover, their cordial co-operation 
with the escorts sent to meet them was everything that 
could be desired. In this invaluable service these com- 
manding officers had the loyal and enthusiastic support of 
the admirable petty officers and men whose initiative, 
energy, and devotion throughout the war enabled us to 
accomplish results which were not only beyond our ex- 
pectations but which demonstrated that they are second to 
none in the world in the qualities which make for success in 
war on the sea. 

On the whole, the safeguarding of American soldiers on 
the ocean was an achievement of the American navy. 
Great Britain provided a slightly larger amount of tonnage 
for this purpose than the United States ; but about 82 per 
cent, of the escorting was done by our own forces. The 
cruiser escorts across the ocean to France were almost 
entirely American ; and the destroyer escorts through the 
danger zone were likewise nearly all our own work. And 
in performing this great feat the American navy fulfilled its 
ultimate duty in the war. The transportation of these 
American troops brought the great struggle to an end. On 
the battlefield they acquitted themselves in a way that 
aroused the admiration of their brothers in the naval 
service. When we were reading, day by day, the story 
of their achievements, when we saw the German battle lines 
draw nearer and nearer to the Rhine, and, finally, when the 
German Government raised its hands in abject surrender, 
the eighteen months' warfare against the German sub- 
marines, in which the American navy had been privileged 
to play its part, appeared in its true light as one of the 
greatest victories against the organized forces of evil in 
all history. 





14 June 1919. 

From : Rear- Admiral Wm. S. Sims, U.S. Navy. 

To : The Secretary of the Navy. 

Subject : Requests Permission to Publish a Book on the Activi- 
ties of the U.S. Navy during The Great War. 

Reference (a) : Paragraph 1534 of the Articles for the Govern- 
ment of the Navy of the United States. 

1. In accordance with the provisions of reference (a) I request 
authority to publish in my name a book descriptive of the activi- 
ties of the U.S. Naval Forces operating in European waters during 
The Great War. 

2. My object in preparing this book is to familiarize the Amer- 
ican people with the great work accomplished by the Navy during 
the war. It will be a popular presentation written in a non- 
technical style, illustrated with photographs taken in Europe 
and various diagrams indicating the nature of our activities. 

[s] WM. S. SIMS. 
9 July 1919. 

[s] Josephus Daniels. 

HWS-MEF 2nd Indorsement. 


Washington, D.C. 

From : Director of Naval Intelligence. 11 July 1919. 

To : President Naval War College. 
1. Forwarded. 

[s] A. P. NIBLACK. 


June 26, 1919. 

I am sending you in the regular official course my approval of 



your plan to print and publish a book relative to the operations 
of the naval forces under your command during the great war. 
I am happy that you are going to undertake this, because I 
am sure it will be of great value to the Navy and of interest to 
the world. 

With sentiments of esteem and high regard, 

Sincerely yours, 


Of course any facilities or assistance that the Navy Depart- 
ment can render you will be at your disposal. 

Rear- Admiral W. S. Sims, U.S.N., 
President Naval War College, 
Newport, Rhode Island. 

Extract from Navy Regulations, 1913, Article 1534 

" (2) No person belonging to the Navy or employed under 
the Navy Department shall publish or cause or permit to be 
published, directly or indirectly, or communicate by interviews, 
private letters, or otherwise, except as required by his official 
duties, any information in regard to the foreign policy of the 
United States, or concerning the acts or measures of any 
department of the Government or of any officer acting there- 
under, or any comments or criticisms thereon ; or the text of 
any official instructions, reports, or letters upon any subject 
whatever, or furnish copies thereof to any person, without the 
express permission of the Navy Department. 

" (4) Nothing in this article shall be construed as prohibiting 
officers from forwarding to the department, through official 
channels, well-considered comment and suggestions with a 
view to promoting the efficiency of the service and the public 
interests ; on the contrary, such suggestions are invited, but 
they should be in regard to things or methods and not a criticism 
of persons, and should in all cases be accompanied by a well- 
digested plan for improvement. Such suggestions, if approved 
by the department, will be entered on the officer's record and 
he will be duly notified to that effect." 


To : Secretary of the Navy. 
Sent April 14, 1917. 
Through : State Department. 

File No. 25-9-2. 

The situation is as follows : 

The submarine issue is very much more serious than the 
people realize in America. The recent success of operations 
and the rapidity of construction constitute the real crisis of the 
war. The moral of the enemy submarines is not broken, only 
about fifty-four are known to have been captured or sunk and 
no voluntary surrenders have been recorded. The reports of 
our press are greatly in error. Recent reports circulated 
concerning surrenders are simply to depreciate enemy moral 
and results are [not] very satisfactory. 

Supplies and communications of forces all fronts, including 
the Russians, are threatened and control of the sea actually 

German submarines are constantly extending their operations 
into the Atlantic, increasing areas and the difficulty of patrol- 
ling. Russian situation critical. Baltic fleet mutiny, eighty- 
five admirals, captains, and commanders murdered, and in 
some armies there is insubordination. 

The amount of British, neutral and Allied shipping lost in 
February was 536,000 tons, in March, 517,000 tons, and in the 
first ten days of April 205,000 tons. With short nights and 
better weather these losses are increasing. 

The British forces could not effectively prevent the escape 
of some raiders during the long nights, but the chances are 
better now. 

The Allies were notified that hospital ships will continue to be 
sunk, this in order to draw destroyers away from operations 
against submarines to convoy hospital ships ; in this way 
causing a large demand for large convoy forces in all areas not 
before necessary, and also partially immobilizing the main fleet. 

On account of the immense theatre and the length and 



number of lines of communication, and the material deteriora- 
tion resulting from three years' continuous operation in distant 
fields with inadequate base facilities, the strength of the naval 
forces is dangerously strained. This applies to all of the sea 
forces outside of the Grand Fleet. The enemy has six large 
and sixty-four small submarine mine-layers ; the latter carry 
eighteen mines and the former thirty-four, also torpedoes and 
guns. All classes submarines for actual commission completed 
at a rate approaching three per week. To accelerate and 
insure defeat of the submarine campaign immediate active 
co-operation absolutely necessary. 

The issue is and must inevitably be decided at the focus of 
all lines of communications in the Eastern Atlantic, therefore I 
very urgently recommend the following immediate naval 

Maximum number of destroyers to be sent, accompanied by 
small anti-submarine craft ; the former to patrol designated 
high seas area westward to Ireland, based on Queenstown, with 
an advance base at Bantry Bay, latter to be an inshore patrol 
for destroyers : small craft should be of light draft with as 
high speed as possible but low speed also useful. Also repair 
ships and staff for base. Oil and docks are available but I 
advise sending continuous supply of fuel. German main fleet 
must be contained, demanding maximum conservation of the 
British main fleet. South of Scotland no base is so far available 
for this force. 

At present our battleships can serve no useful purpose in 
this area, except that two divisions of dreadnoughts might be 
based on Brest for moral effect against anticipated raids by 
heavy enemy ships in the channel out of reach of the British 
main fleet. 

The chief other and urgent practical co-operation is merchant 
tonnage and a continuous augmentation of anti-submarine 
craft to reinforce our advanced forces. There is a serious 
shortage of the latter craft. For towing the present large 
amount of sailing tonnage through dangerous areas sea-going 
tugs would be of great use. 

The co-operation outlined above should be expedited with 
the utmost despatch in order to break the enemy submarine 
moral and accelerate the accomplishment of the chief American 

It is very likely the enemy will make submarine mine-laying 
raids on our coast or in the Caribbean to divert attention and 
to keep our forces from the critical areas in the Eastern Atlantic 
through effect upon public opinion. The difficulty of main- 
taining submarine bases and the focussing of shipping on this 
side will restrict such operations to minor importance, although 


they should be effectively opposed, principally by keeping the 
Channel swept on soundings. Enemy submarine mines have 
been anchored as deep as ninety fathoms but majority at not 
more than fifty fathoms. Mines do not rise from the bottom 
to set depth until from twenty-four to forty-eight hours after 
they have been laid. 

So far all experience shows that submarines never lay mines 
out of sight of landmarks or lights on account of danger to 
themselves if location is not known. Maximum augmentation 
merchant tonnage and anti-submarine work where most 
effective constitute the paramount immediate necessity. 

Mr. Hoover informs that there is only sufficient grain supply 
in this country for three weeks. This does not include the 
supply in retail stores. In a few days Mr. Hoover will sail for 
the United States. 





April 19, 1917. 

From : Rear-Admiral Wm. S. Sims, U.S.N. 

To : Secretary of the Navy. 

Subject : Confirmation and elaboration of recent cablegrams 

concerning War situation and recommendations for U.S. 

Naval co-operation. 

1 . Reception : 

My reception in this country has been exceptionally cordial 
and significant of the seriousness of present situation and the 
importance to be attached to the United States' entry into the 

I was met at Liverpool by Rear-Admiral Hope, R.N., a 
member of Admiral Jellicoe's staff, and the Admiral of the Port, 
the former having been sent by the Admiralty to escort me to 
London. A special train was provided which made a record 
run, and within a few hours after arrival in London I was 
received by the First Sea Lord and his principal assistants in 
a special conference. 

2. Conferences : 

More or less hesitancy was noted at first in presenting a full 
statement of the true situation, particularly (as it developed 
later) on account of its seriousness, combined with a natural 
reluctance against appearing to seek assistance, and a hesitancy 
in taking chances of allowing information indirectly to reach 
the enemy, and thereby improve enemy moral. 

I therefore positively took the position that I must be con- 
sidered a part of the Admiralty organization, and that it was 
essential to safe and efficient co-operation that I be trusted 
with a full knowledge of the exact situation. 

They finally consented, only after reference to the Imperial 
War Council, to my exposing the true state of affairs both as 
22 321 


regards the military situation and rate of destruction of 
merchant shipping. 

I have had daily conferences with the First Sea Lord, both 
at his office and residence, and also have been given entire 
freedom of the Admiralty and access to all Government Officials. 
I have freely consulted with such officials as the following : 

Prime Minister. 

First Lord of Admiralty (Sir Edward Carson). 

Ministers of Munitions, Shipping, Trade, and other Cabinet 

First Sea Lord, and his assistants. 

Chief of Naval Staff. 

Directors (corresponding to our Chiefs of Bureaus) of Intelli- 
gence, Anti-submarine operations, Torpedoes, Mines, Mining, 

3. General Statement of the Situation : 

Since the last declaration of the enemy Government, which 
from intelligence information was anticipated, the submarine 
campaign against merchant shipping of all Nations has resolved 
itself into the real issue of the war and, stated briefly, the 
Allied Governments have not been able to, and are not now, 
effectively meeting the situation presented. 

4. As stated in my first despatch, the communications and 
supplies to all forces on all fronts, including Russian, are 
threatened, and the " Command of the Sea " is actually at stake. 

5. My own views of the seriousness of the situation and the 
submarine menace have been greatly altered. My convictions 
and opinions, as probably those of the Department also, had 
been largely based upon Press reports and reports of our 
Attaches and other professional Americans who have been 
abroad during the War. All of this information has been 
either rigidly censored or else has been given out in such form 
that it would be of minimum assistance to enemy moral. 

6. The necessity for secrecy, which the British Government 
has experienced, and which I repeatedly encounter in London, 
and even in the Admiralty itself, is impressive. There have 
been remarkable and unexpected leakages of information 
throughout the war. Certain neutral legations of smaller 
countries are now under strong suspicion. 

7. The extent to which the submarine campaign is being 
waged is in itself excellent evidence of the importance attached 
to it by the enemy, and of the degree to which they counted, 
and still are counting, upon it. 

The Intelligence Department has reliable information (as 
reliable as can be) that the enemy really reckoned that the 
Allies would be defeated in two months through shortage of 


8. With improved weather and the shorter nights now 
coming on we may expect even more enemy submarine success. 

9. The Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet was yesterday 
in conference in the Admiralty as to what greater extent 
destroyers and auxiliaries of the Fleet may be utilized without 
endangering its power in the remote possibility of another 
fleet engagement. 

The consensus of opinion seems to be that the latter will not 
occur, but there is not complete unanimity in this belief, and 
of course, in any case, the possibility must be adequately and 
continuously provided against. 

General discussion of situation : 

10. I delayed [four days] forwarding my first report of the 
situation with a view of obtaining the maximum information 
consistent with the importance of the time element. I was 
also somewhat deterred by a natural reluctance to alter so 
radically my preconceived views and opinions as to the situation. 

11. The evidence is conclusive that, regardless of any enemy 
diversions such as raids on our coasts or elsewhere, the critical 
area in which the war's decision will be made is in the eastern 
Atlantic at the focus of all lines of communications. 

The known number of enemy submarines and their rate of 
construction, allowing liberal factors for errors of information, 
renders it inevitable that the main submarine effort must 
continue to be concentrated in the above critical area. 

12. Even in this critical area, it is manifest that the field is 
relatively large for the maximum number of submarines which 
the enemy can maintain in it. For example, with the present 
Admiralty policy (explained below) they are forced to cover 
all the possible trade routes of approach between the north 
of Scotland and Ushant. 

13. From consideration of the above and all other essential 
information available, it is apparent that the enemy could not 
disperse his main submarine campaign into other quarters of 
the Globe without diminishing results in this and all areas to a 
degree which would mean failure to accomplish the Mission of 
the submarine campaign, which can be nothing else than a 
final decision of the war. 

14. Considerable criticism has been, and still is, concentrated 
upon the Admiralty for not taking more effective steps and for 
failing to produce more substantial and visible results. One 
of the principal demands is for convoys of merchant shipping, 
and more definite and real protection within the war zone. 

The answer, which manifestly is not publicly known, is 
simply that the necessary vessels are not available, and further 
that those which are available are suffering from the effects 
of three years of arduous service. 


15. It is insistently asked (was asked by myself) why shipping 
is not directed to and concentrated at various rendezvous and 
from these convoyed through the dangerous areas. The answer 
is the same the area is too large ; the necessary vessels are 
not available. 

16. However, I am now consulting with the Director of 
Shipping as to the practicability and advisability of attempting 
some approach to such a plan in case the United States is able 
to put in operation sufficient tonnage to warrant it. 

17. After trying various methods of controlling shipping, the 
Admiralty now believes the best policy to be one of dispersion. 
They use about six relatively large avenues or arcs of approach 
to the United Kingdom and Channel, changing their limits or 
area periodically if necessity demands. 

Generally speaking, one is to the north of Scotland, another 
to the north of Ireland, and three or four others covering the 
Irish Sea and Channel. Individual ships coming into any of 
these areas of approach are instructed, generally before sailing, 
to cross the twentieth meridian at certain and different latitudes 
and thence steer certain courses to port. 

At times in the past they have found one of these avenues of 
approach free of submarines under such conditions as to lead 
them to concentrate shipping therein, but invariably the enemy 
has become aware of the course pursued. 

18. The great difficulty in any method of shipping control is 
communication with the shipping itself and full co-operation 
by the merchant personnel. The moment a ship is captured 
the code either becomes dangerous or useless. The merchant 
code is being continually changed, and at all times it cannot be 
counted upon for more than a fortnight. The immense 
difficulty of changing the code and keeping shipping all over 
the world in touch with changes is apparent. 

19. Continual trouble is experienced with some merchant 
Captains taking the law into their own hands and exhibiting 
contempt, or at least indifference, for Admiralty instruc- 
tions. The American Liner New York upon which I took 
passage furnishes a typical example. She was instructed 
to make Fastnet Light at daylight but she passed it about 
nine P.M., thus passing in daylight through the most dangerous 

20. The Admiralty has had frequent conferences with 
Merchant masters and sought their advice. Their most 
unanimous demand is " Give us a gun and let us look out for 
ourselves." They are also insistent that it is impracticable for 
merchant vessels to proceed in formation, at least in any 
considerable numbers, due principally to difficulty in controlling 
their speed and to the inexperience of their subordinate officers. 


With this view I do not personally agree but believe that with a 
little experience merchant vessels could safely and sufficiently 
well steam in open formations. 

21. The best protection against the submarine menace for 
all classes of ships, merchant as well as Naval, is SPEED and 
ZIGZAGGING, not more than fifteen minutes on a course. 
Upon this point no one disagrees, but on the contrary there is 
absolutely unanimity of opinion. 

22. In the absence of adequate patrol craft, particularly 
destroyers, and until the enemy submarine moral is broken, 
there is but one sure method of meeting the submarine issue 
upon which there is also complete unanimity increased number 
of merchant bottoms, preferably small. 

" More Ships ! More Ships ! More Ships ! " is heard on 
every hand. 

23. It is also significant that until very recently the Admiralty 
have been unable completely to convince some members of the 
Cabinet that the submarine issue is the deciding factor in the 
War. The civilian mind, here as at home, is loath to believe 
in unseen dangers, particularly until the pinch is felt in real 
physical ways. 

24. The Prime Minister only two days ago expressed to me 
the opinion that it ought to be possible to find physical means 
of absolutely sealing up all escape for submarines from their 
own ports. The fact that all such methods (nets, mines, 
obstructions, etc.) inherently involve the added necessity of 
continuous protection and maintenance by our own Naval 
forces is seldom understood and appreciated. I finally con- 
vinced the Prime Minister of the fallacy of such propositions 
by describing the situations into which we would be led : 
namely, that in order to maintain our obstructions we would 
have to match the forces the enemy brought against them, until 
finally the majority if not all of our forces would be forced into 
dangerous areas where they would be subject to continual 
torpedo and other attack, in fact in a position most favourable 
to the enemy. 

25. Entirely outside of the fact that the enemy does, and 
always can, force exits, and thereby nullify the close blockade, 
the weather is a serious added difficulty. The heaviest anchors 
obtainable have been used for nets, mines, and obstructions, 
only to have the arduous work of weeks swept away in a few 
hours of heavy weather. Moorings will not hold. They chafe 
through. In this respect we could be of great assistance, i.e. 
in supply of moorings and buoys. 

26. The Channel is not now, and never has been, completely 
sealed against submarine egress, let alone the vaster areas of 
escape to the north. Submarines have gone under mine-fields, 


and have succeeded in unknown ways in evading and cutting 
through nets and obstructions. 

27. In addition to submarines, heavy forces are free to raid, 
and in fact escape through, the Channel at any time when the 
enemy decides that the necessity or return will justify the risk. 
Hence the suggestion that two divisions of our fast Dread- 
noughts might be based upon Brest, primarily for the resulting 
moral effect against such possible raids. 

I was told yesterday by an important Admiralty official that 
while he thought the chances of raids in, or escape through, the 
Channel by heavy enemy forces out of reach of the Grand Fleet 
(North of Scotland) were very remote, nevertheless the possi- 
bility existed and was principally thwarted on moral grounds, 
that is, the uncertainty in his mind of the opposition which 
would be encountered. He agreed with others, including the 
First Sea Lord, that the addition of some of our heavy forces 
to those maintained in southern Channel approaches by the 
French and British would undoubtedly entirely preclude the 
possibility of such raids. 

28. Submarine Losses : 

It has been found necessary to accept no reports of submarine 
losses as authentic and certain unless survivors are captured or 
the submarine itself is definitely located by dragging. No 
dependence even is placed upon evidence of oil on the surface 
after a submarine has been attacked and forced down, as there 
is reason to believe that when an enemy submarine dives to 
escape gunfire she is fitted to expel oil for the particular purpose 
of conveying the impression that she has been sunk and thereby 
avoid further pursuit. It has been shown that the amount of 
damage a submarine can stand is surprising and much more 
than was anticipated before the experience of the war. Upon a 
recent occasion a British submarine was mistaken for an enemy 
and though struck by several shells, dived and escaped to port. 

The submarine losses which are certain since outbreak of 
war are as given in attached cablegram. 

It is estimated that between thirty and forty submarines 
operate at a time in the waters surrounding the British Islands 
and French Coast. At least one is now known to be on White 
Sea trade lanes. 

29. Best anti-submarine weapons : 

One of the most efficient weapons now used by all destroyers 
and patrol craft against submarines is the so-called " Depth 
Charge," sample and drawings of which have been forwarded 
by our Naval Attache. These are merely explosive charges 
designed to explode at a certain depth, formerly eighty feet, 
now about one hundred feet. They are dropped overboard 
where a submarine that has submerged is assumed to be and 


are counted upon to badly shake up and demoralize if they do 
not actually cause serious damage. 

Howitzers and Bomb-throwers of large calibre are under 
construction, designed to throw similar depth charges to dis- 
tances of about 2,000 yards. Details will be forwarded. 

30. Torpedo Protection : 

This subject may be summed up by the statement of the 
Captain of a British Dreadnought who said in effect that after 
a year's experience he did not fear being sunk by a torpedo. 
Unless struck by several the worst to be anticipated is damage 
to shafts or rudder, thus necessitating towing. Cruisers have 
often been struck and been able to reach port. Vital water- 
tight doors are kept continuously closed at sea. 

Destroyer officers have been heard to express the curious 
opinion that the enemy ships were more or less unsinkable. 
This is probably to be explained by the fact that they carry 
very few supplies ; that they have their storage spaces com- 
partmented or filled with wood or other water- excluding 
material ; and that when in port, they quarter their crews in 
barracks, and when leaving for a cruise carry the minimum 
amount of berthing and supply facilities. These points, 
however, are not positively known. 

On the contrary, all vessels of the British Fleet must be kept 
fully supplied and fuelled at all times for extended cruising. 
This is particularly true of Battle- cruisers and Cruisers. 

31. All officers of rank and actual experience consulted are 
convinced that the enemy have no unusual methods of pro- 
tection, or in fact any " surprises " in ordnance or other fighting 

32. All are agreed that the best protection against torpedoes 

33. It is a common experience of the Naval as well as Mer- 
chant service that torpedo wakes are reported where none 
exist. Many reports are received of torpedoes barely missing 
ships. This was true in the Jutland Battle. The Captain on 
one Battleship said that he received numerous reports of tor- 
pedoes passing just ahead and just astern, nearly all of which 
he had reason to believe did not exist. 

Streaks of suds, slicks, etc., are very deceiving and are 
easily mistaken for torpedo wakes, particularly when the 
danger of torpedoes is present. This accounts for many reports 
by passengers on liners and other merchant craft of seeing 
many torpedoes just miss their mark. 
|> 34. Submarine versus Submarine: 

There has always been opposition to using submarines against 
submarines, principally on the grounds that the possibilities of 
their accomplishments would not be sufficiently great to justify 


the risk involved of mistaken identity and resulting damage to 

The Director of Anti-Submarine Warfare believes, however, 
that such operations promise well, and the experiment is now 
being tried with as many submarines as can be spared from 
the Grand Fleet. Some enemy submarines have been destroyed 
by this method, usually torpedoed. One valuable feature of 
this method lies in the fact that as long as our submarines are 
not so used, the enemy submarine is always perfectly safe in 
assuming that all submarines sighted are friends. If this 
certainty is removed the enemy will be forced to keep down 
more, and to take much greater precautions against detection. 
This is an advantage of no small account. 

In addition to the possible offensive work that may be 
accomplished by our submarines on such duty, the plan fur- 
nishes us with more reliable information as to the limitations 
and capabilities of enemy vessels under the actual conditions 
existing in the areas in which they operate. Without this 
knowledge based on actual experience too much is left to 
conjecture which is liable to lead to a great deal of misdirected 

(Signed) WM. S. SIMS. 




To : Secretary of the Navy. 

Through Admiralty. From Queenstown. 

Sent : June 28, 1917. 

Admiralty for Secretary Navy Washington, providing it meets 

Admiralty's full approval. 
From Admiral Sims. 

Referring to Department's opinion, reported in last two 
cables, to the effect that adequate armament and trained crews 
constitute one of the most effective defensive anti-submarine 
measures, I again submit with all possible stress the following 
based on extended [Allied] war experience. The measures 
demanded, if enemy defeat in time is to be assured, are not 
defensive but offensive defensive. The merchantman's inherent 
weakness is lack of speed and protection. Guns are no defence 
against torpedo attack without warning, which is necessarily 
the enemy method of attack against armed ships. In this area 
alone during the last six weeks thirty armed ships were sunk 
by torpedoes without submarine being seen, although three of 
these were escorted each by a single destroyer. The result 
would of course have been the same no matter how many guns 
these ships carried or what their calibre. Three mystery ships, 
heavily manned by expert naval crews with much previous 
experience with submarine attack, have recently been torpedoed 
without warning. Another case within the month of mystery 
ship engaging submarine with gunfire at six thousand yards 
but submarine submerged and approached unseen and tor- 
pedoed ship at close range. The ineffectiveness of heaviest 
batteries against submarine attack is conclusively shown by 
Admiralty's practice always sending destroyers to escort their 
men-of-war. The comparative immunity of the relatively 
small number American ships, especially liners, is believed here 
to be due to the enemy's hopes that the pacifist movement will 
succeed. Cases are on record of submarines making successful 
gun attacks from advantageous sun position against armed 



ships without ship being able to see submarine. I submit that 
if submarine campaign is to be defeated it must be by offensive 
measures. The enemy submarine mission must be destruction 
of shipping and avoidance of anti-submarine craft. Enemy 
submarines are now using for their final approach an auxiliary 
periscope less than two inches in diameter. This information 
just acquired. All of the experience in this submarine campaign 
to date demonstrates that it would be a seriously dangerous 
misapprehension to base our action on the assumption that any 
armament on merchantmen is any protection against sub- 
marines which are willing to use their torpedoes. The British 
have now definitely decided the adoption, to the maximum 
practicable extent, convoys from sixteen to twenty ships. This 
is an offensive measure against submarines, as the latter will 
be subject to the attack of our anti-submarine craft whenever 
they come within torpedoing distance of convoyed merchantmen. 
Moreover it permits of concentrated attack by our forces 
and obliges the enemy to disperse his forces to cover the various 
routes of approach. 

Concerning Department's reference to a scheme for protection 
of merchant shipping which will not interfere with present 
escort duties, I submit that the time element alone prevents 
utilization of any new anti-submarine invention. The cam- 
paign may easily be lost before any such schemes can come into 
effective operation. The enemy is certainly counting on 
maximum effort being exerted before long nights and bad 
weather of autumn, that is, in next three months. Heaviest 
effort may be anticipated in July and August. I again submit 
that protection of our coastlines and of Allied shipping must 
necessarily be carried out in field of enemy activity if it is to be 
effective. The mission of the Allies must be to force sub- 
marines to give battle. Hence no operations in home waters 
should take precedence over, or be allowed to diminish, the 
maximum effort we can exert in area in which enemy is opera- 
ting, and must continue to operate in order to succeed. 



June 29, 1917. 

From : Commander U.S. Naval Forces operating in European 


To : Secretary of the Navy (Operations). 
Subject : General report concerning military situation. 

1. I feel that there is little to add to my recent cable des- 
patches which, in view of the importance of the time element, 
have been made full and detailed. 

2. To sum up my despatches briefly, I would repeat that I 
consider that the military situation is very grave indeed on 
account of the success of the enemy submarine campaign. 

If the shipping losses continue as they have during the past 
four months, it is submitted that the Allies will be forced to 
dire straits indeed, if they will not actually be forced into an 
unsatisfactory peace. 

The present rate of destruction is very much greater than the 
rate of building, and the shortage of tonnage is already so great 
that the efficiency of the naval forces is already reduced by 
lack of oil. Orders have just been given to use three-fifths 
speed, except in cases of emergency. This simply means that 
the enemy is winning the war. 

3. My reasons for being so insistent in my cable despatches 
have been because of my conviction that measures of co- 
operation which we may take will be inefficient if they are not 
put into operation immediately, that is, within a month. 

There is every reason to believe that the maximum enemy 
submarine effort will occur between now and the first of 
November, reaching its height probably during the latter part 
of July, if not earlier. 

4. There is certainly no sovereign solution for the submarine 
menace except through well-established methods of warfare 
based upon fundamental military principles. 

5. It is submitted that the cardinal military principle of 



concentration of effort is at present being pursued by the enemy 
and not by the Allies. 

6. We are dispersing our forces while the enemy is concen- 
trating his. The enemy's submarine mission is and must 
continue to be the destruction of merchant shipping. The 
limitations of submarines and the distances over which they 
must operate prevent them from attacking our naval forces, 
that is, anti-submarine craft. They cannot afford to engage 
anti-submarine craft with guns ; they must use torpedoes. If 
they should do so to any considerable extent their limited supply 
would greatly reduce their period of operation away from base, 
and the number of merchantmen they could destroy. Their 
object is to avoid contact with anti-submarine craft. This 
they can almost always do, as the submarine can see the surface 
craft at many times the distance the surface craft can see a 
periscope, particularly one less than two inches in diameter. 

Moreover, the submarine greatly fears the anti-submarine 
craft because of the great danger of the depth charges. Our 
tactics should therefore be such as to force the submarine to 
incur this danger in order to get within range of merchantmen. 

7. It therefore seems to go without question that the only 
course for us to pursue is to revert to the ancient practice of 
convoy. This will be purely an offensive measure, because if 
we concentrate our shipping into convoys and protect it with 
our naval forces we will thereby force the enemy, in order to 
carry out his mission, to encounter naval forces which are not 
embarrassed with valuable cargoes, and which are a great 
danger to the submarine. At present our naval forces are 
wearing down their personnel and material in an attempted 
combination of escorting single ships, when they can be picked 
up, and also of attempting to seek and offensively engage an 
enemy whose object is to avoid such encounters. With the 
convoy system the conditions will be reversed. Although the 
enemy may easily know when our convoys sail, he can never 
know the course they will pursue or the route of approach to 
their destinations. Our escorting forces will thus be able to 
work on a deliberate prearranged plan, preserving their oil 
supplies and energy, while the enemy will be forced to disperse 
his forces and seek us. In a word, the handicap we now labour 
under will be shifted to the enemy ; we will have adopted the 
essential principal of concentration while the enemy will lose it. 

8. The most careful and thorough study of the convoy system 
made by the British Admiralty shows clearly that while we 
may have some losses under this system, owing to lack of 
adequate number of anti-submarine craft, they nevertheless 
will not be critical as they are at present. 

9. I again submit that if the Allied campaign is to be viewed 


as a whole, there is no necessity for any high sea protection on 
our own coast. The submarine as a type of war vessel possesses 
no unusual characteristics different from those of other naval 
craft, with the single exception of its ability to submerge for a 
limited time. The difficulty of maintaining distant bases is 
the same for the submarine as it is for other craft. As long 
as we maintain control of the sea as far as surface craft are 
concerned, there can be no fear of the enemy establishing 
submarine bases in the Western Hemisphere. 

10. To take an extreme illustration, if the enemy could be 
led or forced into diverting part of his submarine effort to the 
United States coast, or to any other area distant from the 
critical area surrounding the coast of France and the United 
Kingdom, the anti-submarine campaign would at once be won. 
The enemy labours under severe difficulties in carrying out his 
campaign, even in this restricted area, owing to the material 
limitations and the distances they must operate from their 
bases, through extremely dangerous localities. The extent of 
the United States coastline and the distances between its 
principal commercial ports preclude the possibility of any 
submarine effort in that part of the world except limited 
operations of diversion designed to affect public opinion, and 
thereby hold our forces from the vital field of action. 

11. The difficulties confronting the convoy system are, of 
course, considerable. They are primarily involved in the widely 
dispersed ports of origin of merchant shipping ; the difficulty 
of communication by cable ; the time involved by communi- 
cations by mail ; and the difficulties of obtaining a co-operation 
and co-ordination between Allied Governments. 

As reported by cable despatch, the British Government has 
definitely reached the decision to put the convoy system into 
operation as far as its ability goes. Convoys from Hampton 
Roads, Canada, Mediterranean, and Scandinavian countries 
are already in operation. Convoys from New York will be put 
in operation as soon as ships are available. The British navy 
is already strained beyond its capacity, and I therefore urgently 
recommend that we co-operate, at least to the extent of handling 
convoys from New York. 

12. The dangers to convoys from high sea raiders is remote, 
but, of course, must be provided against, and hence the necessity 
for escorting cruisers or reserve battleships. The necessity is 
even greater, however, for anti-submarine craft in the sub- 
marine war zone. 

13. As stated in my despatches, the arming of merchantmen 
is not a solution of the submarine menace, it serves the single 
purpose of forcing the submarine to use torpedoes instead of 
guns and bombs. The facts that men-of-war cannot proceed 


safely at sea without escort, and that in the Queenstown avenue 
of approach alone in the past six weeks there have been thirty 
armed merchantmen sunk, without having seen the submarine 
at all before the attack, seem to be conclusive evidence. A 
great mass of other evidence and war experience could be 
collected in support of the above. 

14. The week ending June 19th has been one of great sub- 
marine activity. Evidence indicates that fifteen to nineteen 
of the largest and latest submarines have been operating, of 
which ten to thirteen were operating in the critical area to the 
west and south-west of the British Isles. The above numbers 
are exclusive of the smaller and earlier type of submarines, and 
submarines carrying mines alone. Two submarines are working 
to the westward of the Straits of Gibraltar. A feature of the 
week was the sinking of ships as far west as nineteen degrees. 
Three merchant ship convoys are en route from Hampton 
Roads, the last one, consisting of eighteen ships, having sailed 
on the 19th of June. One hundred and sixteen moored mines 
have been swept up during the week. 

Twenty-two reports of encounters with enemy submarines in 
waters surrounding the United Kingdom have been reported 
during the week three by destroyers, two by cruisers, two by 
mystery ships, one by French gunboat, three by submarines, 
nine by auxiliary patrol vessels, one by seaplane, and one by 
merchant vessel. 

There is attached copy of report of operations by anti- 
submarine craft based on Queenstown. 

(Signed) WM. S. SIMS. 



From : Secretary of Navy. 

To : Vice-Admiral Sims, U.S.S. Melville. 

Received : July 10, 1917. 

The following letter from the Secretary to the Secretary of 
State is quoted for your information and guidance as an index 
of the policy of the Department in relation to the co-operation 
of our naval forces with those of our Allies. Quote : After careful 
consideration of the present naval situation taken in connection 
with possible future situations which might arise, the Depart- 
ment is preparing to announce as its policy, in so far as it relates 
to the Allies. First, the most hearty co-operation with the 
Allies to meet the present submarine situation in European or 
other waters compatible with an adequate defence of our own 
home waters. Second, the most hearty co-operation with the 
Allies to meet any future situation arising during the present 
war period. Third, the realization that while a successful 
termination of the present war must always be the first Allied 
aim, and will probably result in diminished tension throughout 
the world, the future position of the United States must in no 
way be jeopardized by any disintegration of our main fighting 
fleet. Fourth, the conception that the present main military 
role of the United States naval force lies in its safeguarding the 
line of communications of the Allies. In pursuing this aim 
there will be generally speaking two classes of vessels engaged : 
minor craft and major craft, and two roles of action, first, 
offensive and, second, defensive. Fifth, in pursuing the role 
set forth in paragraph four, the Department cannot too strongly 
insist on its opinion that the offensive must always be the 
dominant note in any general plans of strategy prepared. But 
as the primary role in all offensive preparations must perforce 
belong to the Allied powers, the Navy Department announces 
as its policy that in general it is willing to accept any joint plan 
of action of the Allies deemed necessary to meet immediate need. 
Sixth, pursuant to the above general policy, the Navy Depart- 



ment announces as its general plan of action the following : 
One, its willingness to send its minor fighting forces, composed 
of destroyers, cruisers, submarine chasers, auxiliaries in any 
number not incompatible with home needs, and to any field of 
action deemed expedient by the joint Allied Admiralties which 
would not involve a violation of our present state policy. Two, 
its unwillingness as a matter of policy to separate any division 
from the main fleet for service abroad, although it is willing 
to send the entire battleship fleet abroad to act as a united but 
co-operating unit when, after joint consultations of all Admir- 
alties concerned, the emergency is deemed to warrant it and 
the extra tension imposed upon the line of communications 
due to the increase of fighting ships in European waters will 
stand the strain imposed upon it. Three, its willingness to 
discuss more fully plans for joint operations. End of Quote 




Office Vice-Admiral, Commanding 
U.S. Destroyer Forces 

European Waters. 


July 16, 1917. 

From : Vice-Admiral Sims. 
To : Secretary of the Navy. 

Subject : Concerning Policy of U.S. Naval co-operation in war, 
and allied subjects. 

1. The Department's cablegram of July 10, 1917, quoting a 
letter which had been addressed to the Secretary of State 
concerning naval policy in relation to the present war, was 
received on July 10th. 

In view of the nature of certain parts of the policy set forth 
therein, I wish to indicate the general policy which has hereto- 
fore governed my recommendation. 

2. I have assumed that our mission was to promote the 
maximum co-operation with the Allies in defeating a common 

All of my despatches and recommendations have been based 
on the firm conviction that the above mission could and would 
be accomplished, and that hence such questions as the possi- 
bility of post war situations, or of all or part of the Allies being 
defeated and America being left alone, were not given consider- 
ation in fact, I cannot see how we could enter into this war 
whole-heartedly if such considerations were allowed to diminish 
in any way the chances of Allied success. 

3. The first course open to us which naturally occurs to mind 
is that we should look upon our service as part of the combined 
Allied service, of which the British Grand Fleet is the main 
body, and all other Allied naval forces disposed throughout 
the world, as necessary branches thereof. 

This conception views our battleship fleet as a support or 
reserve of the Allied main body (the British Grand Fleet) and 
would lead to utilizing our other forces to fill in weak spots 
23 337 


and to strengthen Allied lines, both offensively and defensively, 
wherever necessary. 

Such a course might be considered as a disintegration of our 
fleet, and it is only natural, therefore, that hesitation and 
caution should be felt in its adoption. 

4. I have felt, however, that it was possible to accomplish 
our mission without in any way involving the so-called dis- 
integration of our fleet as a whole. 

In the first instance I have assumed that our aim would be to 
project, or prepare to project, our maximum force against the 
enemy offensively. 

5. An estimate of the situation shows clearly that the enemy 
is depending for success upon breaking down the Allies' lines 
of communications by virtue of the submarine campaign. 

A necessary part of such a plan is to divert strength from the 
main fleet and from anti-submarine operations by such means 
as coastal raids, threats of landing operations, air raids, and 
attacks on hospital ships, which last necessitates destroyer 
escort for such vessels. 

The submarine campaign itself, while it is of necessity con- 
centrated primarily on the most vital lines of communications, 
is nevertheless carried out in such a manner as to lead the 
Allies to disperse, and not concentrate, their inadequate anti- 
submarine Forces. 

The Allies are, of course, forced to contemplate at all times, 
and hence provide against, the possibility of another main 
fleet action. 

6. A study of the submarine situation, the number of sub- 
marines available to the enemy, and the necessary lines of the 
Allies' communications, for both Army and Navy as well as 
civil needs, shows clearly that the enemy must direct his main 
effort in certain restricted areas. 

These areas, as has repeatedly been reported, are included 
approximately in a circle drawn from about Ushant to the 
north of Scotland. The most effective field for enemy activity 
is, of course, close into the Irish Sea and Channel approaches, 
where all lines must focus. 

But, as stated above, the enemy also attacks occasionally 
well out to sea and in other dispersed areas with a view of 
scattering the limited anti-submarine forces available. 

It therefore seems manifest that the war not only is, but 
must remain, in European waters, in so far as success or failure 
is concerned. 

7. Speaking generally, but disregarding for the moment the 
-question of logistics, our course of action, in order to throw our 

main strength against the enemy, would be to move all our 
iforces, including the battleship fleet, into the war area. 


8. In view of the nature of the present sea warfare as effected 
by the submarine, such a movement by the battleships would 
necessitate a large force of light craft much larger than our 
peace establishment provided. In addition to all destroyers, 
adequate protection of the fleet would require all other available 
light craft in the service, or which could be commandeered and 
put into service that is, submarines, armed tugs, trawlers, 
yachts, torpedo boats, revenue cutters, mine-layers and mine- 
sweepers, and in fact any type of small craft which could be 
used as protective or offensive screens. 

9. In view of the shipping situation, as affected by the 
submarine campaign, it has been impossible to date to see in 
what way our battleships could be supplied in case they were 
sent into the war area. This refers particularly to oil-burning 
vessels. It would therefore seem unwise to recommend such 
a movement until we could see clearly far enough ahead to 
ensure the safety of the lines of communication which such a 
force would require. 

10. It is to be observed, however, that even in case the 
decision were made to move the battleships into the war area, 
it would unavoidably be greatly delayed both in getting together 
the necessary screening forces and also in getting such craft 
across the Atlantic. 

In the meantime, and while awaiting a decision as to the 
movements of the battleship fleet, the submarine campaign has 
become so intensive, and the available anti-submarine craft 
have been so inadequate to meet it, that the necessity for 
increasing the anti-submarine forces in the war area to the 
maximum possible extent has become imperative. 

11. As long, therefore, as the enemy fleet is contained by the 
stronger British fleet in a position of readiness, it would not 
seem a disintegration of our fleet to advance into the war area 
all the light craft pf every description which would necessarily 
have to accompany the fleet in case it should be needed in this 

Such movements of the light craft would not in any way 
separate them strategically from the battleships, as they would 
be operating between the enemy and our own main body and 
based in a position to fall back as the main body approached, 
or to meet it at an appointed place. This advance of light 
forces, strategically, would mean no delay whatever to our 
heavy forces, should the time come for their entry into the 
active war zone. 

12. Another very important consideration is the fact that, 
pending the movement of the battleships themselves, all of 
the light forces would be gaining valuable war experience and 
would be the better prepared for operations of any nature in 


the future, either in connection with the fleet itself or independ- 

It is also considered that it would not constitute a disintegra- 
tion of our fleet to advance into the war zone, in co-operation 
with the British Grand Fleet or for other duty, certain units of our 
battleship fleet. These would merely constitute units advanced 
for purpose of enemy defeat, and which would always be in a 
position to fall back on the main part of our Fleet, or to join it 
as it approached the war zone. 

It is for this reason that I recommended, on July 7, 1917, 
that all coal -burning dreadnoughts be kept in readiness for 
distant service in case their juncture with the Grand Fleet might 
be deemed advisable in connection with unexpected enemy 

It would, of course, be preferable to advance the entire 
fleet providing adequate lines of communications could be 
established to ensure their efficient operation. At the present 
time there is a sufficient coal supply in England to supply 
our coal-burning dreadnoughts, but the oil would be a very 
difficult problem as it must be brought in through the sub- 
marine zone. 

When notified that the Chester, Birmingham, and Salem were 
available for duty in the war area, I recommended, after 
consultation with the Admiralty, that they join the British 
Light Cruiser Squadrons in the North Sea, where there is always 
a constant demand for more ships, especially to oppose enenty 
raiding and other operations aimed at dispersing the Allied 
sea forces. 

In view of the Department's reference to the Gibraltar 
situation, and also in consideration of the sea-keeping qualities 
of the seven gunboats of the Sacramento class, it was recom- 
mended that they be based on Gibraltar for duty in assisting 
to escort convoys clear of the Straits, and particularly as this 
would release some British destroyers which are urgently 
needed in critical areas to the northward. 

13. The Department's policy, as contained in its letter to 
the Secretary of State, refers in the first statement to an 
adequate defence of our own home waters. It would seem to 
be sound reasoning that the most effective defence which can 
be afforded to our home waters is an offensive campaign against 
the enemy which threatens those waters. Or in other words, 
that the place for protection of home waters is the place in 
which protection is necessary that is, where the enemy is 
operating and must continue to operate in force. 

As has been stated in numerous despatches, it is considered 
that home waters are threatened solely in the submarine zone 
in fact are being attacked solely in that zone, and must continue 


to be attacked therein if the enemy is to succeed against us as 
well as against the European Entente. 

The number of available enemy submarines is not unlimited, 
and the difficulties of obtaining and maintaining bases are fully 
as difficult for submarine as for surface craft. 

The difficulties experienced by enemy submarines en route 
and in operating as far from their bases as they now do are 

Operations on our coast without a base are impracticable, 
except by very limited numbers for brief periods, purely as 

In view of our distance from enemy home bases, the extent 
of our coastline, and the distances between our principal ports, 
it is a safe assumption that if we could induce the enemy to 
shift the submarine war area to our coasts his defeat would be 
assured, and his present success would be diminished more than 
in proportion to the number of submarines he diverted from 
the more accessible area where commerce necessarily focuses. 

14. The Department's policy refers to willingness to extend 
hearty co-operation to the Allies, and to discuss plans for joint 
operations, and also to its readiness to consider any plans which 
may be submitted by the joint Allied Admiralties. 

15. I submit that it is impossible to carry out this co- 
operation, to discusssplans with the various Admiralties, except 
in one way and that is, to establish what might be termed an 
advance headquarters in the war zone composed of Department 
representatives upon whose recommendations the Department 
can depend. 

I refer to exactly the same procedure as is now carried out in 
the army that is, the General Headquarters in the field being 
the advance headquarters of the War Department at home, 
and the advance headquarters must of necessity be left a certain 
area of discretion and freedom of action as concerns the details 
of the measures necessitated by the military situations as they 

16. The time element is one of the most vital of all elements 
which enter into military warfare, and hence delays in com- 
munications by written reports, together with the necessity for 
secrecy, render it very difficult to discuss plans at long range. 
The enemy secret service has proved itself to be of extraordinary 

Moreover, I believe it to be very unsafe to depend upon dis- 
cussion of military plans by cable, as well as by letter. The 
necessary inadequacy of written or cable communications 
needs no discussion. The opportunities for misunderstandings 
are great. It is difficult to be sure that one has expressed 
clearly one's meaning in writing, and hence phrases in a letter 


are very liable to misinterpretation. They cannot explain 

17. One of the greatest military difficulties of this war, and 
perhaps of all Allied wars, has been the difficulty of co-ordination 
and co-operation in military effort. I am aware of a great mass 
of information in this connection which it is practically im- 
possible to impart except by personal discussion. 

It is unquestionable that efficiency would be greatly improved 
if any one of the Allies Italy, France, England, or the United 
States were selected to direct all operations, the others merely 
keeping the one selected fully informed of their resources 
available, and submitting to complete control and direction 
in regard to the utilization of these resources. 

18. If the above considerations are granted, it then becomes 
necessary to decide as to the best location in which to establish 
such advanced headquarters, or what might be called an 
advance branch war council at the front that is, an advanced 
branch upon whose advice and decisions the War Council 
itself largely depends. 

I fully realize the pressure and the influences which must 
have been brought to bear upon the Department from all of the 
Allies, and from various and perhaps conflicting sources. 

I also realize that my position here in England renders me 
open to suspicion that I may be unduly influenced by the 
British viewpoint of the war. It should be unnecessary to 
state that I have done everything within my ability to main- 
tain a broad viewpoint with the above stated mission constantly 
in mind. 

19. From the naval point of view it would seem evident that 
London is the best and most central location in the war area 
for what I have termed above the Advance Branch of our 
Naval War Council. 

The British navy, on account of its size alone, is bearing the 
brunt of the naval war, and hence all naval information 
concerning the war therefore reaches and centres in London. 

It will be quite possible for all of our advanced headquarters 
staff, or parts or divisions thereof, to visit Paris and other 
Allied Admiralties at any time. 

I wish to make it quite clear that up to date it has been wholly 
impossible for me, with one military Aide, to perform all of the 
functions of such an advanced branch of the Department. 

As stated in my despatches, it has been evident for some 
time that I have been approaching a state in which it would be 
physically impossible to handle the work without an increase 
of staff. 

The present state of affairs is such that it is quite within 
range of possibility for serious errors to occur which may involve 


disaster to our ships, due to the physical impossibility of 
handling the administrative and other work with the thorough- 
ness which is essential to safety. 

20. I consider that a very minimum staff which would be 
required is approximately as follows. More officers could be 
well employed with resulting increase of efficiency : 

(1) One Chief of Staff, who should be free to carry on a con- 

tinuous estimate of the situation, based upon all 
necessary information. He would be given the 
freedom of the Operations Department of the British 
and French Admiralties. 

(2) An officer, preferably of the rank of commander, for 

duties in connection with shipping and convoy to 
handle all the numerous communications in relation to 
the movements of American shipping, particularly 
military shipping, and also other shipping carrying^ 
American troops. 

(3) An officer, at least a lieutenant-commander, for duties in 

connection with Anti-Submarine Division operations 
in order to insure perfect co-operation in that field of 
work between our service and other Allied Services. 

(4) An officer of all-round ability and discretion for duties in 

connection with general military intelligence. He 
should be in constant touch with the Secret Service 
Departments of the Admiralties to insure that all 
military intelligence, which in any way affects the 
Navy Department or our Forces, is properly and 
promptly acted upon. 

(5) At least two lieutenants or lieutenant-commanders of the 

line in my own office in connection with general 
administrative questions in addition to the one now 
available. The necessity for these additional officers 
is imperative. 

(6) One communication officer to take general charge of codes 

and communications both with the Department at 
home, the Allied Admiralties, and with the various 
bases of our Forces in the war area. (At present 
Queenstown, Brest, Bordeaux, St. Nazaire, London,, 
and Paris.) 

(7) A paymaster to have complete charge of all financial 

matters connected with our naval organization abroad. 
This officer should be in addition to Paymaster Tobey, 
who is performing necessary and invaluable service on 
my staff in connection with all logistic questions. 

(Signed) WM. S. SIMS. 



During the twenty-one months of unrestricted submarine 
warfare from February, 1917, to October, 1918, inclusive, 3,843 
merchant vessels (British fishing vessels included) of a total 
gross tonnage of 8.478,947 have been sunk by enemy action, a 
monthly average of 183 vessels totalling 403,760 gross tons. 
The October tonnage losses show a decrease from this average 
of 291,333 gross tons, or 72 per cent. 

The following gives the tonnage losses by months from 
February, 1917, to October, 1918, inclusive : 



Other Allied 











March . 






April . 






May . 






June . 












August . 
































Other Allied 













54,904 36,374 



March . 






April . 






May . 


















August . 




















Construction of merchant shipping is shown in the following 
table, which gives tonnage completed since the beginning of the 
war for the United Kingdom, United States, and for other 
Allied and Neutral Nations. 


Groas tons. 


Gross tons. 

Other Allied 
and Neutral. 
Gross tons. 

World Total. 
Gross tons. 



1 20,000 * 



1918 1st quarter 
October . 





1918 (10 months) 





1 Estimated. 



Aboukir, Hague and Crcssu torpedoed 

by U-29, 84, 174 
Achates, with convoy, 122 
Active, flagship of Vice-Adm. Bayly, 58 
Adams, Ensign Ashley D., in charge of 

subchaser units, 191 
Aircraft against submarines, 275 
Aleock, goes to relief of sinking mystery 

ship Dunraven, 163 
Allied Naval Council, value of, 218 
Amberger, Kapitan-Leutnant Gustav, 

of L/-58, captured, 131 ; comment 

on treatment, 134 
American forces in European waters, 


Anti-submarine craft, use of, 26 
Anti-submarine devices, search for, 8 
Arkansas, on duty with the Grand 

Fleet, 303 

Arming of merchant vessels, 25 
Aroostook, mine-layer, 254, 264 
Aubrielia, mystery ship, heading con- 
voy, 118; sights submarine, 121 
Audacious, sunk by mine, 174 
Aviation, naval, development of, 282 ; 

extent at time of armistice, 286 

Babcock, Commr. J. V., sails with 
Adm. Sims as aide, 2 ; at London 
headquarters, 205, 212, 214 

Badger in bombardment of Durazzo, 

Bagley, Lt.-Commr. D. W., highly 
commended, 139 

Baillargeon, J. C., volunteers services 
at London headquarters, 206 

Baldwin Locomotive Works, con- 
structors of the U.S. mobile railway 
batteries, 290 

Balfour, Arthur James, discussion of 
submarine situation with, 9 ; with 
Commission to the United States, 
9 ; advises Washington of critical 
submarine situation, 39 

Baltimore, converted as mine-layer, 

Basilisk, assisted by yacht Lydonia, 
sinks submarine, 136 

Bassett, Capt. F. B., commanding the 
Utah, 305 

Bastedo, Lt.-Commr. Paul H., in bom- 
bardment of Durazzo, 199, 201 

Vice-Adm. Lewis, letter of 
welcome to Commr. Taussig, 45 ; 
welcome to Americans at Queens- 
town, 46 ; instructs Americans as 
to duties, 49 ; characteristics, 52 ; 
meets Fanning and congratulates 
officers and men on capture of sub- 
marine crew, 133 ; message com- 
mending American forces at Queens- 
town, 140 ; introduces Capt. G. 
Campbell of the " mystery ship," 
142 ; has difficulty in identifying 
one such ship, 151 

Beach, Capt. E. L., with the Grand 
Fleet, 303 

Beatty, Adm. Sir David, attitude 
toward torpedo flags, 217 ; farewell 
speech to American Squadron, 304 

wai vz 


Belknap, Capt. Reginald R., command- 
ing mine-laying squadron, 252, 260, 

Benham, highly commended, 139 

Berrien, Commr. Frank D., command- 
ing destroyer division, 129 ; highly 
commended, 139 

" Big Bertha," American naval guns 
sent to destroy, 290 

Billings, A. W. K., great work in con- 
nection with air service, 285 

Birmingham, at Gibraltar, 134 

Blakely, Lt.-Commr. C. A., highly 
commended, 139 

Blakeslee, Lt.-Commr. E. G., at Lon- 
don headquarters, 212 

Blue, Capt. Victor, with the Grand 
Fleet, 303 

Boyd, Capt. David F., good work in 
convoying subchasers, 178 

Brest, as destroyer base, 134, 300 

Brindisi, rendezvous for attack on 
Durazzo, 200 

Briscoe, Lt.-Commr. Benjamin, work 
on air service stations, 285 

Bristol, Capt. M. L., commanding the 
Oklahoma, 305 

British Admiralty, commends work of 
U.S. aviation pilots, 286 

British Fleet, not in control of the 
seas, 16 ; at Scapa Flow, 28 

Broke, sinks two German destroyers, 61 

Browne, Ralph C., new type of sub- 
marine mine, 250 

Bruges, submarine base, 19 

Bullard, Capt. W. H. G., with the 
Grand Fleet, 303 

Bumstead, Prof. H. A., at London 
headquarters, 213 

Bunker Hill, converted as mine-layer, 

Bushnell, David, inventor of submarine , 

Butler, Capt. H. V., with mine-laying 
squadron, 264 

Callan, Lt.-Commr. J. L., in charge of 
U.S. air forces in Italy, 284 

Campbell, Capt. Gordon, at Queens- 
town, 58 ; exploits with mystery 
ships, 142 ; with " mystery ship 
Pargusl, 147 ; technique of opera- 
tion, 148 ; heroism on Dunraoen, 
157 ; letter from Adm. Sims on Dun- 
raven exploit, 164 

Canandaigua, mine-layer. 254, 260, 264 

Canonicus, mine-layer, 254, 260, 264 

Carpender, Lt. A. S., in command of 
Fanning, when submarine crew was 
captured, 132 ; receives D.S.O., 134 

Carson, Sir Edward, discussion of sub- 
marine, 9 ; of convoy system, 95 

Cecil, Lord Robert, on submarine 
situation with, 9 

Centurion, in China, commanded by 
Jellicoe, 43 

Chrislabel, encounter with submarine, 

Christopher, goes to relief of sinking 
mystery ship Dunraven, 163 




Christy, Capt. H. H., with the Grand 
Fleet, 303 

Churchill, Rt. Hon. W., " digging the 
rats out of their holes," 246 

Clinton-Baker, Rear-Adm., in com- 
mand of British mine-laving opera- 
tions, 257 

Cluverius, Capt. W. T., with mine- 
laying squadron, 264 

Cole, Capt. W. C., commanding the 
Nevada, 305 

College boys and subchasers, 168 

Commerce" raiders, guarding against, 
94, 112 

Cone, Capt. Hutch I., at London head- 
quarters, 212, 214 ; organizer Ameri- 
can air forces, 284 ; severely injured 
on torpedoed Leinsler, 285 

Conner, Francis G., jumps overboard 
from Fanning to save drowning 
German from crew of submarine, 132 

Convoy of shipping to Scandinavia, 22 

Convoy system, ancient use of, 86 ; 
merchant captains hostile to, 88, 
93 ; Gibraltar experiment, 96 ; mer- 
chant captains won over, 96 ; the 
headquarters and staff, 103 ; details 
of operation, 103, 108 ; routing of 
the convoys, 110, 116 ; actual con- 
voys described, 117 ; success of 
system, 136; relative parts taken by 
Great Britain and the United States, 
138 ; most important agency in 
winning the war, 141 

Conyngham, in first American destroyer 
contingent, 42 ; with convoy, 122, 
124 ; destroys submarine, 125 

Copeland, D. G., great work in con- 
nection with air service, 285 

Corfu, subchaser base established at, 
182 ; detachment performing excel- 
lent service, 194 

Cork, American destroyer officers make 
state visit to, 48 ; sailors not per- 
mitted to visit, 71 

Gotten, Capt. Lyman A., with sub- 
chasers, arrives at Plymouth, 177 ; 
work in training subchaser crews, 
178 ; commanding subchaser squad- 
rons, 182 

Craven, Capt. T. T., great service in 
aviation, 283 

Crenshaw, Capt. Arthur, good work in 
convoying subchasers, 178 

Cressy, Aboukir and Hogue torpedoed 
by [7-29, 84, 174 

Cronan, Capt. William P., work in 
training subchaser crews, 178 

Cumberland, escorting convoy, 119, 123 

Cunningham, Major A. A., command- 
ing Marine Corps aviation in Nor- 
thern Bombing Group, 285 

Cashing, at Queenstown, 139 ; deceived 
by" mystery ship," 147 

Danae, attempt to torpedo, 128 

Daniels, Secretary of War, instructs 
Adm. Sims to sail for England, 1 

Dartmouth, in attack on Durazzo, 199 

Davis, in first American destroyer con- 
tingent, 42 

Dayison, Trubee, organizer Yale avia- 
tion unit, recommended for Distin- 
guished Service Medal, 282 

De Bon, Vice-Adm., Chief of French 
Naval Staff, 221 

De Steigner, Capt. L. R., with the 
Grand Fleet, 303 

Decatur, at Gibraltar, 135 

Defrees, Capt. Joseph H., work on 
listening devices, 178 

Delaware, on duty with Grand Fleet, 

Depth charge, origin of, 78 ; effects of 
on submarines, 79 

Destroyers, scarcity of in British navy, 
28 ; a new type of war vessel, their 
history, 75 ; size and armament, 
76 ; high efficiency, 76 ; how sub- 
marines are attacked, 82 ; use of in 
convoying merchant vessels, 95 

Destroyers, American, arrive in Queens- 
town, 40 ; copy of sailing orders, 43 ; 
compared with British, 48 ; why 
placed under British Admiral at 
Queenstown, 61 ; number of at 
Queenstown, 63 ; enthusiasm of 
British public on arrival, 63 ; " the 
return of the Mayflower," 64 ; in 
action, 99 ; duties of, 101 

Deutschland, " merchant " submarine, 
visits Newport News, 266 

Di Revel, Vice-Adm., Italian Member 
Allied Naval Council, 222 

Dortch, Lt.-Commr. I. F., highly com- 
mended, 139 

Draylon, highly commended, 139 

Duff, Vice-Adm. Sir Alexander L., in 
charge of convoy system, 103 

Duncan, American Queens- 
town, 57 

Dunlap, Col. R. H., at London head- 
quarters, 215 

Dunraven, mystery ship, heroism of 
captain and crew, 157 ; given Vic- 
toria Cross, 163, 164 

Durazzo, bombardment of, 199 

Earle, Rear-Adm., in charge of design 
of mobile railway batteries for 
Western Front, 290 

Edwards, Lt.-Commr. W. A., at Lon- 
don headquarters, 212, 214 ; com- 
mands Yale aviation unit, 283 ; 
succeeds Capt. Cone in charge of 
aviation section, 285 

Evans, Capt. E. R. G. R., British liaison 
officer with American destroyers, 44 ; 
exploit as commander of destroyer 
Broke, 61 

Evans, Capt. F. T., in command of 
U.S. aviation centre at Pauillac, 
France, 284 

Fairfield, Commr. Arthur P., with first 
American destroyer contingent, 42 ; 
highly commended, 139 

Fanning, captures crew of submarine, 

Farquhar, Lt.-Commr., highly com- 
mended, 139 

Fenian Ram, Holland's submarine, 227 

Fighting submarines from the air, 275 

Fisher, Adm. Sir John, in charge of de- 
partment for investigating anti- 
submarine devices, 8 ; tells of Ameri- 
can-built submarines, first to cross 
Atlantic, 266 

Fletcher, Rear-Adm. Wm. B., com- 
manding Brest naval base, 300 

Florida, on duty with Grand Fleet, 303 

Foster, Arnold-, on building of sub- 
marines, 228 

Fullinwider, Commr. S. P., efforts in 
perfection of new submarine mine, 

Fulton, Robert, efforts in developing 
the submarine, 226 



Funakoshi, Rear-Adm., Japanese mem- 
ber Allied Naval Council, 222 

Purer, Commr. Julius A., work in de- 
velopment of subchasers, 175 

Gannon, Capt. Sinclair, with mine- 
laying squadron, 204 

Gates, Lt.-Commr. A. L., exploits at 
Dunkirk, 288 

Geddes, Sir Eric, First Lord of the 
Admiralty, 219 

George, King, meeting with, 9 ; popu- 
lar with American sailors, 67 

George, Lloyd, optimistic regarding 
submarine situation, 10 ; on convoy 
system, 95 

German interned ships converted into 
transports, 301 

Gibraltar, co-operation of American 
navy with British in operations at, 

Gillmor, R. E., volunteers services at 
London headquarters, 206 

Gleaves, Rear-Adm. Albert, organiza- 
tion for transport fleet, 301 

Glinder, Franz, drowned when crew 
surrendered to Fanning, 134 ; buried 
with honours of war, 134 

Good, P. F., volunteers services at 
London headquarters, 206 

Goschen, Viscount, deemed submarine 
useless, 227 

Graham, Capt. S. V., good work in 
convoying subchasers, 178 

Grand Fleet, British, protected by 
destroyers, 73 ; immune from tor- 
pedo attack, 85 

Greenslade, Capt. J. \V., with mine- 
laying squadron, 264 

Hammon, Ensign C. H., exploit at 
Pola, 287 

Hanrahan, Commr. David C., highly 
commended, 139; commanding Amer- 
ican mystery ship Sanlee, 166 ; 
in command of Northern Bombing 
Group, 285 

Harwell, Elxer, jumps overboard from 
Fanning to save drowning German 
from crew of submarine, 134 

Helfferich, Dr. Karl, on effectiveness 
of the submarine, 14 

Henry, Lt. Walter S., on Fanning, 130 

Hepburn, Capt. Arthur J., work in 
training subchaser crews, 178 ; com- 
manding squadron of subchasers, 
reaches Queenstown, 203 

Hogue, Cressy and Aboukir, torpedoed 
by L7-29, 84, 174 

Holland, John P., designer of the 
modern submarine, 227 

Hope, Rear-Adm., receives Adm. Sims 
on arrival, 2 

Hospital ships, torpedoing of, 29 

Housalonic, mine-layer, 254, 260, 264 

Howard, Lt.-Commr. D. L., highly 
commended, 139 

Hughes, Capt. C. F., with the Grand 
Fleet, 303 

Inventions, anti-submarine, search for, 

Inverness and Invergordon, mine- 
assembly bases at, 256 

Ives, Ensign Paul F., drops a " dud " 
on deck of submarine, 286 

Jacob Jones, torpedoed by U-53, 107 ; 
highly commended, 139 

Jacoby, Ensign Maclair, at bombard- 
ment of Durazzo, 201 

Jellicoe, Adm., character and abilities, 
5 ; statement of tonnage lost to 
submarines, 6 ; in conference with, 
8 ; wounded in Boxer Rebellion, 
43 ; letter of welcome to Commr. 
Taussig, 44 ; difficulty in having 
convoy system adopted, 89, 95 ; 
presides over Allied Naval Council, 

Jessop, Capt. E. P., good work in con- 
voying subchasers, 178 

Johnson, Cqmmr. Alfred W., with 
first American destroyer contingent, 

Johnson, Capt. T. L., with mine-laying 
squadron, 264 

Juslicia, torpedoing of, 114 ; tor- 
pedoing announced as that of 
Leviathan by German Admiralty, 314 

Kelly, Commodore, in bombardment 
of Durazzo, 198 ; congratulates 
subchasers in this action, 203 

Kennedy, Ensign S. C., record seaplane 
night, 278 

Keyes, Ensign K. B., extracts from 
seaplane llight report, 278 

Keys, Adm. Sir Roger, reconstructs 
submarine barrage, 20 

Killingholme, England, U.S. air 
station at. 278, 284 

Kittredge, T. B., volunteers service at 
London headquarters, 206 

Knox, Capt. D. W., at London head- 
quarters, 215 

Kronprinzessin Cecilie, converted into 
transport, 301 

Lacaze, Adm., French Minister of 
Marine, 221 

Leigh, Capt. Richard H., experiments 
with listening devices, 172 ; sent to 
Italy to construct subchaser base, 
182 ; at London headquarters, 212, 

Libbey, Commr. Miles A., work in per- 
fection of listening devices, 178 

Listening devices, development of , 171 ; 
especially advantageous on sub- 
chaser, 178 ; method of operation 
on subchasers, 184 ; of great value 
in the Otranto barrage, 196 ; tube 
climbed by submarine survivor, 197 

Little, Col. L. McC., at London head- 
quarters, 215 

London headquarters, 204, 210 ; dif- 
ferent departments of, 212 ; work 
of the Planning Section, 215 

Long, Capt. A. T., commanding the 
Nevada, 305 

Long, Capt. Byron A., at headquarters 
of convoy system, 103 ; at London 
headquarters, 212, 214 ; routing 
American troops to France, 300 

Loomis, Coxswain David D., lookout 
on Fanning when submarine crew 
was captured, 129 

Lord Mayor of Cork, welcomes Ameri- 
cans at Queenstown, 45 

Lowestoft, in attack on Durazzo, 199 

Luckenback, shelled by submarine, 123 

Ludlow, Ensign G. H., wounded, 
rescued from water, 287 

Lydonia, assists in sinking submarine, 

Lyons, Lt.-Commr. D., highly com- 
mended, 139 



MacDonnell, Lt. - Commr. E. O., in 
chaise of flying Caproni bombers 
from Italy to" Flanders, 285 

MacDougall, Capt. W. D., at London 
headquarters, 204 

McBride, Capt. L. B., at London head- 
quarters, 212, 214 

McCalla, Capi.., meets Adm. Jellicoe in 
China, 44 

McCormick, E. H., volunteers services 
at London headquarters, 206 

McCullough, Commr. Richard P., 
recommended for decoration, 136 

McDougal, in first American destroyer 
contingent, 42 ; highly commended, 

McDowell, Commr. Clyde S., work on 
listening devices, 178 

McGrann, Commr. W. H., at London 
headquarters, 212 

McNamee, Capt. L., at London head- 
quarters, 215 

McVay, Capt. C. B., commanding the 
Oklahoma, 305 

Magruder, Rear- Adm. T. P., good work 
in convoying subchasers, 178 

Mannix, Commr. D. Pratt, with mine- 
laying squadron, 264 

Marshall, Capt. A. W., with mine- 
laying squadron, 264 

Mary Rose, welcomes American des- 
troyers at Queenstown, 41 

Massachusetts, converted as mine-layer, 

Melville, " Mother Ship " of the des- 
troyers at Queenstown, 58, 62 

Millard, H., volunteers services at 
London headquarters, 206 

Milner, Lord, on convoy system, 95 

Mine barrage, at first not effective 
against submarines, 20, 24 

Mine barrage in North Sea, American, 
245 ; immensity of, 252 ; how laid, 

Mine laying by German submarines, 

Mines, Americans perfect new type, 
250 ; immense organization of supply 
and transport, 252 

Moewe, commerce raider, 95 

Murfin, Capt. Orin G., designer and 
builder of mine-assembly bases in 
Scotland, 256 

Mystery ships, greatly aid in com- 
bating the submarine, 103 ; ac- 
companying convoy, 118 ; method 
of operating, 118 ; operations of, 
142 ; technique, 148 ; difficulty of 
identifying, 151 ; number in opera- 
tion, 152 ; heroic fight of the Dun- 
raoen, 157 ; exploit of Prize, 165 ; 
American ship Santee, 166 ; Stock- 
force destroys submarine, 183 

Nautilus, submarine of Robert Fulton, 

Naval guns, German, bombarding 
Dunkirk and Paris, 290 

Naval guns, U.S., used on the Western 
Front, 289 

Nelson, Capt. C. P., good work in con- 
voying subchasers, 178 ; command- 
ing subchaser squadrons at Corfu, 
194 ; in bombardment of Durazzo, 
199, 200 

Neptune attacked by C7-29, 84, 85 

Nevada, guarding transports, 304 

New York, on duty with Grand Fleet, 

Niblack, Rear-Adm. Albert P., com- 
manding forces at Gibraltar, 134: 
asks that subchasers be sent to 
Gibraltar, 195 

Nicholson, in submarine chase, 123 ; 
on convoy duty, 129 ; assists Fan- 
ning in capture of submarine and 
crew, 130 ; highly commended, 139 

Noma, goes to relief of sinking mystery 
ship Dunraven, 163 

Northern Bombing Group, established, 
284, 285 

O'Brien, highly commended, 163 

Oil, scarcity of, for Great Britain's 

fleet, 34 " 

Oklahoma, guarding transports, 305 
Orama, torpedoed, 125 
Ostend, bombing of submarine base 

at, 285 
Otranto barrage, the, 181, 195 

Page, Ambassador Walter Hines, asks 
that high naval representative be 
sent to England, 1 ; states that 
England faces defeat by submarines, 
8 ; on critical submarine situation, 
38 ; advised of submarine peril, 
52 ; a tower of strength, 207 

Pargust, " mystery ship," destroys 
submarine, 147 

Parker, in hunt for submarine, 119 ; 
highly commended, 139 ; support- 
ing ship for subchasers at Plymouth, 
182 ; seriously damages the C7-53, 189 

Pauillac, France, U.S. aviation centre 
at, 284 

Pennsylvania, transmits mobilization 
orders to destroyer division, 42 

Pershing, Gen., request for naval 
guns at St. Nazaire, 290 ; report of 
their skilful use, 293 

Pescara, Italy, U.S. seaplane station 
at, 284 

Pisa, in attack on Durazzo, 199 

Pitt, William, early opinion of the sub- 
marine, 226 

Planning Section at London head- 
quarters, 215 

Pleadwell, Capt. F. L., at London head- 
quarters, 212 

Plunkett, Adm. Charles P., command- 
ing naval guns on Western Front, 
289 ; aids in designing mobile rail- 
way batteries, 290 

Plymouth, subchaser base at, 182 

Pocahonlas, converted from German 
liner to transport, 302 

Porter, in first American destroyer con- 
tingent, 42 

Porto Corsini, Italy, U.S. seaplane 
station at, 284 

Poteet, Lt.-Commr. Fred H., with first 
American destroyer contingent, 42 

Potter, Ensign Stephen, fight with 
enemy seaplane, 288 

Powell, Lt.-Commr. Halsey, of de- 
stroyer Parker, 119 ; highly com- 
mended, 139 

Princess Irene, converted into trans- 
port, 302 

Pringle, Capt. J. R. P., at Queenstown, 
58 ; commended by Adm. Bayly, 

Prize, mystery ship, damages sub- 
marine and captures captain and 
two of crew, 165 

Q-ships, see Mystery ships 



Queenstown, a destroyer base, 32 ; 
arrival of first American destroyers, 
40 ; officially welcomes the Ameri- 
cans, 45 

Quinnebaug, mine-layer, 254, 264 

Rent, in westbound convoy, 129 

Reynolds, Commr. W. H. f with mine- 
laying squadron, 264 

Rhein, converted into transport, 302 

Richardson, R. M. D., volunteers ser- 
vices at London headquarters, 206 

Roanoke, mine-layer, 254, 260, 264 

Roberts. Lady, requests Adm. Sims 
to call, 66 

Robison, Rear-Adm. S. S., work on 
listening devices, 178 

Rodgers, Rear-Adm. Thomas S., com- 
manding Dreadnought division in 
Bantry Bay, 305 

Rodman, Adm. Hugh, commanding 
American squadron with the Grand 
Fleet, 303 

Rose, Hans, humane commander of 
the C7-53, 106 ; Allied forces am- 
bitious to capture, 189 ; not on 
C7-53 when depth charged, 190 ; 
visits Newport, and sinks merchant- 
men off Nantucket, 266 

Royal Family, interested in American 
sailors, 67 

Sacramento, at Gibraltar, 134 

San Diego, sunk by mine off Fire Island, 

San Francisco, converted as mine-layer, 
252, 264 

San Giorgio, in attack on Durazzo, 199 

Son Marco, in attack on Durazzo, 199 

Sanders, Lt. William, commanding 
mystery ship Prize, 165 ; awarded 
Victoria Cross, 165 

Santa Maria, compared in size to 
modern destroyer, 76 

Santee, U.S. mystery ship, 150, 166 

Saranac, mine-layer, 254, 264 

Scales, Capt. A. H., with the Grand 
Fleet, 303 

Schieffelin, Lt. John J., recommended 
for Distinguished Service Medal, 277 

Schofield, Capt. Frank H., work on 
listening devices, 178 ; at London 
headquarters, 215 

Schuyler, Commr. G. L., at London 
headquarters, 212 

Schwab, Charles M., fabricates sub- 
marines for the Allies, 266 

Seaplane base at Killingholme, Eng- 
land, taken over by U.S., 278 

Seaplane stations of U.S. forces in 
Europe, 284 

Sexton, Capt. W. R., at London head- 
quarters, 212 

Shawmut, mine-layer, 254, 264 

Sims, Adm., ordered to England, 1 ; 
notifies Washington that war is being 
lost, 33 ; of the oil scarcity, 34 ; 
favours using U.S. naval forces in 
conjunction with Allies, 35 ; first 
report of critical submarine situa- 
tion, 37 ; extent of duties in Euro- 
pean waters, 62 ; significance of the 
Guildhall speech, 65 ; reception ac- 
corded by British people, 66 ; meets 
Lady Roberts, 66 ; first foreign naral 
officer to command British forces in 
war, 68 ; works for adoption of con- 
voy system, 93, 95 ; congratulates 
officers and men of Fanning on cap- 

ture of submarine and crew, 134 ; 
has difficulty in identifying a " mys- 
tery ship," 151 ; letter to Capt. 
Campbell on Dunraven exploit, 
164 ; warns Navy Department or 
German submarines visiting U.S. 
coast, 267 

Sinn Fein, controversy with American 
sailors, 69 ; in league with Germany, 

Smith, Capt. S. F., at London head- 
quarters, 212 

Sparrow, Capt. H. G., good work in 
convoying subchasers, 178 

Stark, Commr. Harold R., brings small 
destroyers from Manila to Gibraltar, 
135 ; at London headquarters, 212 

Stearns, Capt. C. D., with mine-laying 
squadron. 264 

Sterrett, highly commended, 139 

Stevens, L. S., volunteers services at 
London headquarters, 206 

Slockforce, mystery ship, destroys sub- 
marine, 183 

Stockton, G. B., volunteers services at 
London headquarters, 206 

Strauss, Rear-Adm. Joseph, in com- 
mand of U.S. mine-laying operations. 

Subchasers, number built and bases 
used, 168 ; mobilized at New London, 
Conn., 173 ; great numbers ordered 
by Great Britain and France, 174, 
179 ; hardships of the new crews, 
176 ; trip from New London to 
Corfu, 195 ; an influence in the 
breakdown of Austria, 196 ; in 
attack on Durazzo, 198 ; con- 
gratulated on exploits of Durazzo 
by British Commodore and Italian 
Naval General Staff, 203 

Submarine against submarine, 224 ; 
method of attack, 233 

Submarine sinkings, gravity of, con- 
cealed by British, 2, 6 ; losses of 
shipping, 51, 141 

Submarines, American built, first to 
cross Atlantic, 267 ; really sub- 
mersible surface ships, 229 ; how 
operated, 229 ; an American inven- 
tion, 225 

Submarines, American, their part in 
the war, 224 ; attacked by des- 
troyers through error, 236 ; the base 
at Berehaven, 238 ; witnesses U- 
boat destroy itself, 239 

Submarines, British, the H-, E-, and 
K-boats, 224 ; destroy a U-boat, 238 

Submarines, enemy, winning the war, 
4, 7 ; number of, destroyed, 7 ; 
officers exaggerate sinkings, 13 ; 
difficulty of blockading the United 
States, 17 ; cruising period de- 
pendent upon supply of torpedoes, 
19 ; mines and nets not effective 
against, 19 ; number operating 
simultaneously, 20, 21,31 ; erroneous 
impression as to numbers operating, 
20 ; every movement charted by 
Allies, 21, 271, 273 ; three different 
types of, 22 ; plans to pen in the 
bases, 23 ; playing hide and seek 
with destroyers, 33 ; on American 
coast, 36, 266 ; amount of shipping 
destroyed, 51 ; how attacked by 
destroyer, 82 ; method of attack 
on battleships, 84 ; operating on 
American coast impracticable, 91 ; 
individual locations and movements 



plotted each day, 104 ; destroyed by 
depth charges, 126, 128, 130. 136 ; 
decoying by " mystery ship, 142, 
183 ; not taken seriously until after 
Weddingen's exploit, 174 ; concen- 
trated in enclosed waters, 180 ; the 
Otranto barrage, 181 ; sinkings pre- 
vented by subchasers, 183 ; now 
located by listening devices, 184 ; 
17-53 seriously damaged by destroyer 
Parker, 189 ; suicide of entire crew 
of a depth charged submarine, 193 ; 
two submarines sunk by subchasers 
in bombardment of Durazzo, 202 ; 
Germans have difficulty in reaching 
home after Austrian surrender, 
203 ; number destroyed by Allies 
and how, 224 ; U-boat destroys 
itself, 239 ; the cruiser submarines, 
240 ; -their various bases, 244 ; 
effectiveness of American North Sea 
mine barrage, 245 ; lay mines on 
American coast, 273, 274 ; aircraft 
an important factor against, 275 ; 
number sunk about British Isles, 
296 ; forced to choose between 
transports and merchantmen, 306 

Surveyor, yacht, assists in sinking sub- 
marine, 136 

Surveyor, merchantmen torpedoed 
while being convoyed, 136 

Susquehanna, converted from German 
liner to transport, 302 

Swasey, A. Loring, services in design- 
ing of subchasers, 175 

Taussig, Commr. Joseph K., in charge j 
of first American destroyer con- 
tingent, 42 ; copy of sailing orders, 
42 ; previous record, 43 ; welcoming 
letters from Admirals Jellicoe and 
Bayly, 44, 45 ; reports to Vice- 
Adm. Bayly at Queenstown, 46 ; 
highly commended, 139 

Taylor, Capt. M. M., with the Grand 
Fleet, 303 

Texas, on duty with Grand Fleet, 303 

Thompson, Commr. Edgar, at London 
headquarters, 212 

Thomson, Commr. T. A., at London 
headquarters, 212 

Tobey, Capt. E. C., at London head- 
quarters, 212, 214 

Tomb, Capt. J. Harvey, with mine- 
laying squadron, 264 

Tompkins, Capt. John T., work in 
organization of subchaser fleet, 178 

Torpedo, track or wake made by, 81 ; 
effective range of, 83 ; duration of 
submarine's voyage dependent on 
number carried, 19 ; supply limited, 
26 ; cost of, 77 

Torpedo-boat, invention of, 76 

Tozer, Capt. C. M., good work in con- 
voying subchasers, 178 

Transporting armies to France, 294 ; 
nationality of ships and percentage 
carried, 302 

Turtle, first submarine, 225 

Twining, Capt. N. C., at London head- 
quarters, 212, 213 

U-29, torpedoes Hague, Cressy and 
Aboukir, and is later sunk by Dread- 
nought, 84, 85 

17-53, operates off American coast, 

106 ; torpedoes the Jacob Jones, 

107 ; seriously damaged by depth 
charges, 188; surrendered after 

armistice, 190 ; after visiting New- 
port, R.I., sinks several merchant- 
men, 266 

[7-58 depth charged and crew captured 
by Fanning and Nicholson, 131 

C7-151, lays mines off American coast, 

17-156, lays mines off American coast, 

C7C-56, practically destroyed by depth 
charge from Chrislabel, 128 

Ulali, guarding transports, 305 

Vaterland, converted into transport, 

Vauclain, Samuel M., great help in 

turning out mobile railway batteries, 

Venetia, assists in sinking submarine, 

136 ; seriously damages another, 136 
Voysey, Miss, niece of Vice-Adm. 

Bayly, and charming hostess, 59 

Wadsworth, in first American destroyer 
contingent, 42 ; highly commended, 

Wainwright, in first American des- 
troyer contingent, 42 

Washington, Capt. Thomas, with the 
Grand Fleei, 303 

Weatherhead, Ensign C. H., makes 
record seaplane flight, 278 

Weddingen, Commr. Otto, torpedoes 
Hague, Cressy and Aboukir, and is in 
turn sunk by battleship Dreadnought, 
84, 174 

Welshman, narrow escape from being 
torpedoed, 130, 133 

Wegmouth, in attack on Durazzo, 199 

Wheeling, depth charges submarine, 136 

White, Sir William, on the submarine, 

Whiting, Commr. Kenneth, great 
service in aviation, 283 

Wiley, Capt. H. A., with the Grand 
Fleet, 303 

Wilhelm, Kaiser, on effectiveness of the 
submarine, 13 

Wilkes, on submarine hunt with Parker, 

Williams, Lt. -Commr. Roger, at 
Queenstown, 57 

Wilson, Rear-Adm. Henry B., com- 
mander of forces at Gibraltar, 134 ; 
at Brest, 134 ; commanding Brest 
naval base, 300 

Wireless telegraphy, of the submarines 
and destroyers, 100 ; messages 
reveal locations of submarines, 105 

Wortman, Lieut.-Commr. Ward K., 
with first American destroyer con- 
tingent, 42 

Wyoming', on duty with Grand Fleet, 303 

Y-euns, or howitzers, for hurling 
depth charges, 79 

Yachts, good service on French coast, 

Yale aviation unit, organization of, 
282 ; renders great service, 283 

Yarnell, Capt. H. E., at London head- 
quarters, 215 

Zeebrugge, bombing of submarine base 
at, 285 

Zigzagging, efficacious protection 
against submarines, 87, 120 

Zogbaum, Lt. - Commr. Rufus F., 
with first American destroyer con- 
tingent, 42 


A 000 684 342 9 

This label most not be removed from this book, nor the 
figures thereon altered. 

For use when 

Itiued a* 
an extra.