Our Navy in the Great War
JOSEPHUS DANIELS AND STAFF
Left to Right—Admiral Griffin, Admiral Taylor, Mr. Daniels, Admiral Earle,
OUR "FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE"
BY JOSEPHUS DANIELS
Secretary of the Navy
THE more the American people know about their Navy and its achievements, the greater will be their pride and confidence in it. Our experiences in the war have convinced me that the Navy can accomplish any task it may undertake, and that it is ready and willing to undertake almost anything that needs to be done.
In the war, the Navy was called upon to undertake many novel and untried tasks, but whenever any new and difficult duty was imposed, theentire service, from admirals to apprentice seamen,responded with enthusiasm and went at it with the initiative and energy which compelled success.
When we were called upon to arm American merchant vessels, hundreds of expert gunners were required and many more guns than seemed possible to secure, of the calibres necessary. But we got the guns and the gunners, and it was not long before practically all American vessels sailing the war zone were armed and carried naval gun-crews.
When war was declared we possessed few of the auxiliary vessels required for scouting, patrol and other duties, but they were secured. We needed five times as much anti-submarine craft, and we built submarine chasers and destroyers by the hundred.
There were few transports available when the Navy was entrusted with the transportation of. American troops to France, but, from small beginnings, the Cruiser and Transport Force was built up into a huge fleet.
Two million American troops were safely transported to France, with large assistance from the British, and such aid as the French and Italians could furnish; about 950,000 of these being carried over in American vessels.
The manning and operation of troop-ships and cargo transports by the Navy required hundreds of crews. These were ready when required, and hundreds of thousands of soldiers and millions of tons of munitions and supplies were transported in vessels manned by the Navy. These joint operations of Army and Navy were conducted in the closest co-operation, and their success reflects the highest credit on both. In this war it has been in fact, as well as in name, a "United Service."
One of the most gratifying features of the war has been the close co-operation of the Allied navies. From the time Admiral Sims arrived in London, there has been the most complete accord. Unity of purpose and command have been practically in effect from the start.
Our destroyers, submarines, sub-chasers and other craft have served with, and at times under command of, the British, French and Italian officers; our battleships for a year constituted a regular division of the British Grand Fleet; our forces on the coast of France worked as smoothly as if the French and American navies had been one.
We had the same intimate relations with the Italians in the Mediterranean and the Adriatic, and the Japanese in oriental waters. Our relations with our Latin-American neighbors were never so close and cordial as during the past two years.
We were privileged, with the co-operation of the British, to construct the North Sea Mine Barrage, and were associated with them in laying the oil pipe line across Scotland and in other enterprises of magnitude; were privileged to aid the French in the patrol of their coast and the improvement of the ports assigned for the landing of American troops, and to assist the Italians in some of their brilliant and successful enterprises.
The Naval Railway Batteries, with their huge 14-inch guns, rendered valiant service on the Western Front in the closing days of the war. It is a matter of pride that the Marines were privileged to serve with that great American Expeditionary Force under General Pershing which played such a material part in the final defeat of the Germans.
The growth of our Navy to more than half a million officers and men, manning two thousand vessels, has been almost phenomenal; but no less so than the spirit and efficiency these men have displayed, their courage and enterprise in facing , every danger and performing every duty imposed upon them.
There has been no more striking instance of sea power than in this war, in which the Allies held control of the seas and, in spite of ruthless submarine warfare and the activity of raiders, at last compelled the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet. It is gratifying that our own. Navy had a part in accomplishing this result; that it has played an important role in the greatest of wars and written a new and brilliant page in history. Stronger, larger, more powerful and efficient than ever before, the Greater Navy is prepared to render greater service not only to the American people but also to preserve the peace of the world.
Washington, D. C., March 6th, 1919.
THE NAVY'S PART IN THE WAR
BY JOHN WILBER JENKINS
ON April 6, 1917, the day President Wilson, in accordance with the resolu- tion of Congress, declared the existence of a state of war with Germany, Secretary Daniels sent out the order for the mobilization of the Fleet. This order, which marked for the Navy the actual beginning of hostilities, was flashed to the flagships Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Seattle, Columbia and Vestal, and sent to every ship in service.
So thoroughly had the plans been worked out under the direction of the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral William S. Benson, that Admiral Henry T. Mayo, Commander-in-Chief of the Atlantic Fleet, is quoted as saying: "I did not give a single solitary order of any kind or description to pass the Fleet from a peace to a war basis."
Ships that were in reserve were put into full commission without delay; supply ships had been loaded and fully equipped, and were ready to sail. Reserves of ammunition and supplies had been acquired, battleships and cruisers were in a high state of efficiency; the Navy was ready for action.
Ruthless submarine warfare was at its height. Germany was carrying out to the letter its intention of sinking without warning all vessels, neutral as well as belligerent, entering the so-called barred zone proclaimed in its note of January 31, 1917, which had caused this Government to break off relations with Germany on February 3d, and to arm American merchantmen for protection against attack from submarines. The Navy had, on March 12, in accordance with the order of the President, begun the arming of merchant ships.
ARMED GUARDS ON MERCHANTMEN
Guns and gun-crews were promptly placed on our merchantmen, which, with naval armed guards aboard, were sailing through the war zone before the actual declaration of war. In fact, on April 1, the day before President Wilson made his historic address to Congress, John I. Eopolucci, of Washington, a member of the armed guard on the Aztec. was killed when that vessel was sunk by a submarine.
The first American officer lost in service against the enemy was Lieutenant Clarence C. Thomas, of Grass Valley, Cal., who, with four of his men, perished after the sinking of the Vacuum on April 28.
To provide these gun-crews for merchantmen, the Navy organized an Armed Guard Section. Trained gunners were required, and many were taken from battleships and cruisers for this important duty. This was a duty no navy had contemplated in previous years, as the days of piracy were long past, and Germany was the first nation in modern times to attack merchantmen and sink them without warning, taking no steps to save the lives of crews or passengers.
There were not enough free guns of the proper calibres available, but the Bureau of Ordnance managed to meet the demand; though in some cases they had to be taken from the secondary batteries of battleships, to be replaced later when more could be manufactured.
MANY ENCOUNTERS WITH SUBMARINES
Despite the difficulties, it was not long before every American vessel that applied was armed, and furnished with a naval gun-crew; and the exploits of these armed guards in their encounters with submarines make one of the brightest chapters of the war. The Mongolia, on which Lieutenant Bruce R. Ware, Jr., was in command of the armed guard, was first to report having scored a hit against an enemy U-boat; and not long afterward the French Ministry of Marine credited the Silver Shell with sinking a submarine, and Turret Captain William J. Clark, who commanded its armed guard, was promoted by Secretary Daniels for courageous and efficient conduct.
DESTROYERS SENT TO THE WAR ZONE
The submarine being the immediate menace, it was apparent that the immediate duty of the United States Navy was to give the British and French every assistance in its power in the anti-submarine campaign. Admiral William S. Sims, who was on his way to London before war was declared, was made Commander-in-Chief of United States naval forces operating in European waters.
Orders were given for the fitting out of a flotilla of destroyers "for distant service." The first group of six sailed from Boston on the morning of April 24, 1917. This was composed of: first section—The Wadsworth, Commander Joseph K. Taussig, Jr., commanding; the Porter and the Davis; second section—the Conyngham, McDougal and Wainwright.
They arrived at Queenstown, Ireland, on May 4. A British destroyer, the Mary Rose, and fast motor boats were sent out to greet them and guide them into the harbor. At Admiralty House they were received by Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, Commander-in-Chief of the Coasts of Ireland. Presuming that, after their long and stormy voyage, they would require some time for repairs and "tuning up," Admiral Bayly asked, "When will you be ready to go to work ?" Commander Taussig, the senior officer, answered, "We are ready now, sir." That answer struck the keynote.
HIGH PRAISE FROM BRITISH ADMIRAL
The American destroyers and their crews were always ready for any duty, no matter how difficult or dangerous. They entered into the campaign with an energy and enthusiasm that won the regard of their British comrades, and a year later, on the anniversary of their arrival, Admiral Bayly, in a general order, said:
"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 consistently shown, and which qualities have so materially assisted the war by enabling the ships of the Allied Powers to cross the ocean in comparative freedom. To command you is an honor, to work with you is a pleasure, and to know you is to know the best traits of the Anglo-Saxon race."
SAILED UNDER SEALED ORDERS
Commander Taussig gave the following interesting description of the voyage of the first flotilla of destroyers and their work:
"When the United States became a belligerent, one of the first requests the Allies made was that we send as many destroyers and other patrol boats as we could possibly muster over to the other side to assist them in combating the submarines. At 9:30 one April night I received orders to proceed at daylight to my home navy yard to fit out for distant ,service. What was before us I did not know.
There were five other commanding officers of destroyers who received the same orders, and at 5 o'clock the following morning we left Chesapeake Bay and were on our way to New York and Boston at a high speed, in order that we might get ready, as soon as possible, for whatever it was to be.
"So anxious was the Navy Department that the outside world in general know nothing of the movement of these ships that not even I, who was in command of the expedition, was informed of our destination. We went to the navy yards, the ships went in dock, had their bottoms cleaned and painted, we took on stores and provisions to last three months, and in a few days sailed from Boston.
"My orders were to proceed to a point fifty miles east of Cape Cod and then open my sealed instructions. Until I got to that point, at midnight of the first night -'out, I did not know that our first port of call was to be Queenstown. It was quite natural that the few in authority who knew of our movements watched with anxiety for news of our crossing. It was the first time that vessels of this type had ever made so long a continuous passage without refueling or without the company of larger vessels.
WARMLY WELCOMED BY THE BRITISH
"We were ten days in making the trip, due mostly to a southeast gale, which accompanied us for seven of the ten days. So rough was the sea during this time that for seven of the ten days we did not set our mess tables; we ate off our laps. On the ninth day we were pleased to be met by a little British destroyer named the Mary Rose.
She picked us up early one morning and came along flying the international signal, 'Welcome to the American Colors.' To this we replied, 'Thank you, we are glad of your company! The Mary Rose then accompanied us to Queenstown. I am sorry to say that three months later the Mary Rose was sunk with all hands by a German raider in the North Sea. We received a very hearty welcome at Queenstown by the British Admiral, Sir Lewis Bayly, and by the others in authority there. They were very glad to see us.
"Things were looking black. In the three previous weeks the submarines had sunk 152 British merchant ships. It was manifest that this thing could not go on if the Allies were to win the war. The British Admiral gave us some wholesome advice in regard to how best to fight the submarines. We immediately prepared for this service by having what are known as depth charges or depth bombs installed. We put ashore all of our surplus stores and provisions in order to lighten our draft, as it was possible that a few inches might save us from striking a mine.
MINES HAD BEEN PLANTED IN CHANNEL
"The seriousness of the work before us was made evident, not only by the large number of vessels that were being sunk, but by the fact that the night before we entered the harbor a German submarine had planted twelve mines right in the channel. Fortunately for us, they were swept up by the ever-vigilant British mine sweepers before we arrived. The day following our arrival one of the British gunboats from our station was torpedoed and her captain and forty of her crew were lost. Patrol vessels were continually bringing in the survivors from the various ships as they were sunk.
"The British Admiral told us that we would go on patrol duty for six days at a time, and then come in for two or three days' rest. In this patrol duty we were assigned to certain areas, as far as 300 miles off shore, as the submarines were then operating that far out. Our orders were to destroy submarines; to escort or convoy valuable merchant ships; to save lives if we could. We did escort many ships, and we did save many lives.
SUBMARINES WERE HARD TO CATCH
"I cannot say that we sank many submarines. The submarine, I found, is a very difficult bird to catch. He has tremendous advantage over the surface craft. In the first place, he always sees you first. This is because when on the surface he is very low, and when submerged he has only his periscope out, or perhaps nothing at all. As he was not after destroyers, he avoided us whenever he could. That is, if he saw the destroyer on the horizon, the submarine immediately went the other way.
"When we saw a submarine, which sometimes happened frequently, and at other times several weeks might pass without seeing one, we would immediately go after him full speed, and open fire with our guns in the hopes of getting in a shot before he submerged; but he always submerged very quickly. Only once did my vessel in seven months succeed in actually firing at a submarine. He then went down after the fifth shot was fired. At that time he was five miles away. But what they are afraid of are the depth charges or depth bombs.
DEPTH-CHARGE USED AGAINST U-BOATS
"I will tell you how they operate. A depth-charge is about two or three hundred pounds of a high explosive. It is fitted so as to explode automatically at any depth we may desire. The destroyers and patrol vessels carry them on deck at the stern. When we see a submarine submerge we try to find his wake, and if we can see the wake of a submerged vessel we run over it, drop the depth charge by simply pulling a lever, and in a few seconds there is a terrific explosion.
"This explosion is so great that on one or two occasions, when I happened to be in the chart house when they let go, I thought my own ship was torpedoed. They can be felt under water for a distance of several miles, but, of course, they must be dropped very close to the submarine in order to destroy him. If we get it say within ninety feet of the hull, it may damage it enough to cause him to sink, otherwise only superficial damage may result.
"The patrol duty was very trying, as the ocean was strewn with wreckage for a distance of 300 miles off shore. It was hard to tell a periscope when we saw one. Fish, floating spars, and many other objects were taken for periscopes and fired at; we could not afford to take a chance, as our whole safety depended on our being vigilant.
"The submarines did less damage as the summer wore on, due, undoubtedly, to our having more patrol vessels.
CONVOY SYSTEM PROTECTED MERCHANT SHIPS
"Then the scheme was taken up of having convoys. The advantage of a convoy is that six or ten destroyers can protect from twenty to thirty merchant ships, while in the patrol system only one destroyer could be with one merchant ship at a time. The convoy system has now developed so that practically all vessels passing through the danger zone are in large convoys of from ten to thirty with an escort of from six to ten destroyers.
"These convoy trips would take us out of port from six to eight days. They were very trying days, especially during the latter part of fall, when the weather got bad. When we are at sea in this way we do not take off our clothes, neither officer nor man. We must be ready at all times. We do not even have the pleasure of taking a bath, as something might happen and we would not be ready for it. As one young officer expressed it, we had to come down to the Saturday night bath habit, and if we happened to be at sea Saturday night we might be out of luck.
"The night work was very difficult, as the danger of collision was great with so many ships without lights operating in close proximity. There are frequent collisions, and we must use our judgment as to whether we should turn on our lights and avoid the danger of collisions, and take the risk of a submarine seeing us, or keeping our lights out and taking our chances. We have this to remember, that if a submarine sinks us she only sinks one ship, but a serious collision may result in the sinking of two ships, so it is a matter of judgment."
338 U. S. VESSELS, 75,000 MEN, IN EUROPEAN SERVICE
Every destroyer that could be spared was sent across the Atlantic; work was rushed on those under construction—orders had been given early in the war for all American shipyards could build—and the new ones were despatched as rapidly as they were completed. Converted yachts, patrol' vessels, submarine chasers and other types that could be utilized were sent over.
By January I, 1918, there were 113 United States naval vessels across, and in October, 1918, the total had reached 338 ships of all classes. At the time hostilities ended there were 5,000 officers and mow enlisted men of the United States Navy serving in Europe, this total being greater than the full strength of the Navy when the United States entered the war.
Some indication of the work done by our naval vessels in the war zone can be gained from the following averages of miles steamed per month:
Miscellaneous patrol craft 120,000
Mine sweepers 10,000
Mine layers io ,o00
Battleships and submarines 90,000
Submarine chasers 121,000
These figures include vessels actively engaged in naval duties only, under command of Admiral Sims, and do not include troopships, transports, cargo carriers, or miscellaneous merchant vessels flying the American flag, constantly plying through the war zone; nor do they include cruisers or battleships engaged in oversea escort duties.
PATROL AND CONVOY WORK OF U. S. VESSELS
In a six-month period the sum total of distances steamed by one squadron of destroyers amounted to more than a million sea-miles. In their first year of service the Porter steamed 64,473 miles, the Conyngham, 63,952, and the Davis, 63,015. One of the new destroyers, the Kimberly, in one month steamed 7,019 miles, and was at sea 470 hours; that is, 65 per cent. of the time.
At the height of our activity, during July and August, 1918, 3,444,012 tons of shipping were escorted to and from France by American escort vessels operating from French ports; of the above amount, 1,577,735 tons were escorted, in and 1,864,677 tons were escorted out of French ports.
Of the tonnage escorted into French ports during this time, only 16,988 tons, or 0.009 per cent., were lost through enemy action, and of the tonnage escorted out from French ports, only 27,858 tons, or 0.013 per cent., were lost through the same cause.
During the same two months 259,604 American troops were escorted to France by United States escort vessels without the loss of a single man through enemy action.
During the same period, destroyers based on British ports supplied 75 per cent of the escorts for 318 ships, totaling 2,752,908 tons, and including the escort of vessels carrying 137,283 United States troops; with no losses due to enemy action.
The destroyers on this duty were at sea an average of 67 per cent. of the time, and were under way for a period of about 16,000 hours, steaming approximately an aggregate of 260,000 miles.
The American force based on Gibraltar, including destroyers, gunboats, cruisers, yachts and Coast Guard cutters during July and August, 1918, was at sea 56 per cent. of the time, and actually under way 15,500 hours, steaming during this period. 160,000 miles.
They have suppled approximately 25 per cent. of the escorts for Mediterranean convoys between Gibraltar on the one hand and France and Italy on the other, and performed 70 per cent. of the ocean escort duties between Gibraltar and England.
The above figures were given by Secretary Daniels, in his annual report for 1918, as indicative of what was accomplished month by month by our vessels in the war zone.
2,000,000 TROOPS TRANSPORTED ACROSS ATLANTIC
The conveyance of more than 2,000,000 American troops 3,000 miles overseas to France has been called "the biggest transportation job in history." That it was performed without 'the loss of a single American troopship on the way to France was marvelous, in view of the fact that our ships faced the constant menace of attack by submarines and were exposed to all the hazards of war-time navigation.
When it was decided, soon after this country entered the war, to send over, as soon as possible, all the American troops available, this task was entrusted to the Navy. Vessels that could be used were quickly converted into transports, a force was organized under Rear Admiral (now Vice Admiral) Albert Gleaves, and the first convoy of American troops sailed from New York in a dense fog on June 14, 1917.
FIRST CONVOY OF AMERICAN TROOPS
Admiral Gleaves, on his flagship, the cruiser Seattle, was in command. The transports were in four groups, as follows:
Transport Escort Type
Saratoga Seattle Armored Cruiser
Havana De Kalb Auxiliary Cruiser
Tenadores Corsair Converted Yacht
Pastores .Wilkes. Destroyer
Transport Escort Type
Momus Birmingham Scout Cruiser
Antilles Aphrodite Converted Yacht
Lenape Fanning Destroyer
Transport Escort Type
Mallory Charleston Cruiser
Finland - Cyclops Converted Yacht
San Jacinto Allen Destroyer
Transport Escort Type
Montanan St. Louis Cruiser
Dakotan Hancock Cruiser Transport
El Occidente Shaw Destroyer
D. N. Luckenbach Ammen . Destroyer
The groups sailed six hours apart. The vessels were arranged according to speed so as to assure to each group the safety of the best speed and to lessen the chances of collision.
Admiral Gleaves, Commander-in-Chief; was in personal command of the first group; Captain D. W. Blamer, of the Seattle, was Chief of Staff; Lieutenant A. L. Bristol, Flag Secretary; Lieutenant F. M. Perkins, Force Engineer; Lieutenant F. H. Roberts, Force Torpedo and Gunnery Officer; Lieutenant T. A. Symington, Flag Lieutenant; Lieutenant C. N. Ingraham, Flag Radio Officer.
The second, group was commanded by Commander Hussey; the third by Commander Campbell; the fourth by Captain Pollock. Major General Sibert, on the Tenadores, was in command of the troops.
It was known that submarines were operating in the area that had to be crossed; specific instructions were issued to each group and vessel, especially as to what to do in case of attack, and a general "doctrine of conduct" was evolved. Target practice and "abandon ship" drills were held daily, water-tight doors were kept closed, and every possible precaution taken.
TWO GROUPS ATTACKED BY SUBMARINES
At so o'clock on the night of June 22 the first group was attacked by submarines, the wake of a U-boat being sighted fifty yards off the port bow of the Seattle. A few seconds later the De Kalb and the Havana sighted torpedoes and fired. Two torpedoes passed close to the Havana, one ahead and the other astern of the De Kalb, but neither ship was struck.
The second group sighted a submarine at 11:50 A. M. on June 26, a hundred miles off the French coast, and another two hours later. The destroyer Cummings, which had zigzagged ahead of the group for days, dashed down the wake of the submarine and dropped a depth-bomb over the indicated position of the U-boat.
Patches of oil and pieces of wreckage rose' to the surface, and nothing more was seen of the submersible. On June 28th, about 10:05 A. M., what appeared to be a submarine was sighted from the fourth group, and was fired upon by the Kanawha.
The French Admiralty, in a confidential official bulletin, reported that the submarine which bombarded Ponta Delgada, Azores, on July 4th, apparently was the same which sank a merchant vessel on June 25th, four hundred miles north of the Azores and on June 29th sank two other vessels a hundred miles from the islands, and the French bulletin added: "This submarine was ordered to watch in the vicinity of the Azores at such a distance as it was supposed the enemy American convoy would pass from the Azores."
The first group of transports arrived at St. Nazaire June 26th; the second, June 27th; the third, June 28th; the fourth, July and. On July 3rd Secretary Daniels announced that all the troops of the first contingent had arrived safely.
LARGE CRUISER AND TRANSPORT FLEET BUILT UP
From this comparatively small beginning the Cruiser and Transport Force was developed into a large fleet of 24 cruisers and 42 transports, manned by 3,000 officers and 41,000 men. These were augmented by four French men-of-war and 13 foreign merchant vessels, a total of 83 ships.
The largest of the German interned vessels were repaired and fitted out as transports, as follows:
Old Name New Name Tonnage
Grosser Kuerfurst Aeolus 13,102
Kaiser Wilhelm II Agamemnon 19,361
George Washington George Washington 25,569
Friedrich der Grosse Huron 10,771
Vaterland Leviathan 69,000
Koenig Wilhelm Madawaska 9,410
Barbarossa Mercury 10,984
Princess Irene Pocahontas 10,893
Hamburg Powhatan 10,531
President Grant President Grant 18,172
President Lincoln President Lincoln 18,172
Cincinnati Covington 16,339
Kronprinzessin Cecilie Mount Vernon 19,503
Amerika America 22,622
Rhein Susquehanna 10,058
Neckar Antigone 6,200
Prinz Eitel Friedrich De Kalb 5,000
BRITISH FURNISHED MANY TRANSPORTS
The British Government furnished many of its largest vessels for the transportation of American troops, carrying over more than a million men, and the French and Italians gave such aid as they could. According to the table made up by Walter Logan, statistical officer of the Cruiser and Transport Force, a total of 2,079,880 American troops were transported to France, as follows:
May 1917 1,543 15,091 12,876 January 1918
June Total.. 19,403 February 48,055 49,239 85,710 120,072
July 33,588 March 247,714
August 40,027 April 280,434
September 23,722 May 311,359
October 48,815 June 286,375
November July 259,670
December August. 184,063
195,065 Total.. 1,884,815
Of these, according to Mr. Logan's figures, 911,047 were carried by United States naval transports, and 41,544 by other United States ships—a total of 952,591 carried in American vessels. British ships carried 1,0°6,987, British-leased Italian ships, 68,246; other ships, French, Italian, etc., 52,066.
NOT ONE U. S. TROOPSHIP LOST ON WAY TO FRANCE
Though several hundred lives were lost in the regrettable sinking of the Tuscania, the Moldavia and the Otranto, British vessels carrying American troops, the total loss of life was remarkably small, and it was a source of gratification and thankfulness that not one American transport was sunk on the way to France. Three were sunk on the homeward voyage—the Antilles on October 17, 1917; the President Lincoln, on May 31, 1918; and the Covington, on July I, 1918. The Finland was torpedoed in October, 1917, and the Mount Vernon on September 5, 1918, but both managed to reach port, were repaired and put back into service.
Secretary Daniels, in reviewing the work of troop transportation, wrote: "It is probably our major operation in this war and will, in the future, stand as a monument to both the Army and the Navy as the greatest and most difficult troop transporting effort which has ever been conducted across seas."
The Leviathan, formerly the German Vaterland, the largest ship in existence, carried over nearly '00,000 troops. She made ten round trips in ten months, making most of these voyages without escort, trusting to her speed and armament to foil the U-boats.
PATROL SQUADRONS SENT TO FRANCE
The operations on the coast of France comprised one of the most important activities of the United States Navy. The first of the "U. S. Patrol Squadrons Operating in European Waters," under command of Rear Admiral W. B. Fletcher, sailed from the Navy Yard, New York, for France on June 4, 1917; its mission being defined as "to operate against submarines and to protect shipping adjacent to the coast of France." This squadron consisted of the following converted yachts:
- Corsair Lieutenant Commander T. A. Kittinger
- Aphrodite Lieutenant Commander R. P. Craft
- Noma Lieutenant Commander L. R. Leahy
- Kanawha Lieutenant Commander H. D. Cooke
- Vedette .Lieutenant Commander C. L. Hand
- Christabel Lieutenant H. R. Riebe
- Harvard Lieutenant A. G. Stirling
- Sultana Lieutenant E.G. Allen
The squadron arrived at Brest on July 3rd. The day previous the Noma had sighted a periscope and depth-bombs were dropped, but the submarine disappeared. The Sultana rescued 50 survivors of the steamship Orleans, sunk in the vicinity, apparently torpedoed by the same submarine which the Noma had sighted.
Rear Admiral Fletcher established headquarters in Brest, and on July 14, the French national holiday, the American squadron began active service with the French Navy. Five days later the first attack on an American war vessel occurred, a torpedo being fired at the Noma. The submarine submerged and was not again sighted. The Noma also had a gun engagement with a large submarine on August 15th.
The second squadron reached Brest the latter part of August; the Guinevere and Carola IV arriving August 29th, and the Alcedo, Wanderer, Remlik, Corona and Emeline on the 30th.
Patrol Squadron 4, consisting of the Wakiva, Lewes, McNeal, James, Douglas, Bauman, Anderson, Courtney, Cahill, Rehoboth and Hinton, reached Brest September i8th. They were accompanied by sixteen Ho-foot submarine chasers which were turned over to the French Navy.
TRANSPORT "ANTILLES" SUNK BY SUBMARINE
On October 17th, 1917, occurred the first loss of an American transport, the Antilles, which was torpedoed by a submarine about 300 miles west of Quiberon Bay. The ship sank four minutes after she was struck.
Sixty-seven lives were lost-16 soldiers, 45 of the merchant crew, 4 of the naval gun crew, a civilian ambulance driver and a negro stevedore. ''The Antilles had sailed from Quiberon with the Henderson and Willehad, the Corsair, Kanawha and Alcedo acting as escort. Commander Daniel T. Ghent, the Senior Naval Officer on board, in a report gives this description of the sinking of the vessel:
"Just after daylight a torpedo was sighted heading for us about two points abaft the port beam on a course of 45° with the keel. The torpedo was seen by the second officer on the bridge, the quartermaster and signalman on watch; by the first officer and first assistant engineer from the port side of the promenade deck, and by one of the gun crews on watch aft.
They estimated the distance from 400 feet to as many yards. Immediately on sighting the torpedo the helm was put 'hard over' in an attempt to dodge it, but before the ship began to swing the torpedo struck us near the after engine-room bulkhead on the port side. The explosion was terrific; the ship shivered from stem to stern, listing immediately to port. One of the lookouts in the main top, though protected by a canvas screen about 5 feet high, was thrown clear of this screen and killed on striking the hatch. This case is sighted as indicating the power of the 'whip' caused by the explosion.
Guns were manned instantly in the hope of getting a shot at the enemy, but no submarine was seen.
MEN IN ENGINE-ROOM KILLED
"The explosion wrecked everything in the engine room, including the ice machine and dynamo, and almost instantly flooded the engine room, fireroom, and No. 3 hold, which is just abaft the engine-room bulkhead. The engine room was filled with ammonia fumes and with the high-pressure gases from the torpedo, and it is believed that everyone on duty in the engine room was either instantly killed or disabled except one oiler. This man happened to be on the upper gratings at the time. He tried to escape through the engine-room door, which is near the level of the upper gratings, but found the door jammed, and the knob on his side blown off.
Unable to force the door, and finding he was being overcome by the gases and ammonia fumes, he managed to escape through the engine-room skylight just as the ship was going under. Within a few seconds after the explosion the water was over the crossheads of the main engines, which were still turning over slowly. Of the zr men on duty in the engine room and firerooms only 3 managed to escape. Besides the oiler, 2 firemen managed to escape through a fireroom ventilator. The fact that the engines could not be maneuvered and the headway of the ship checked added to the difficulty of abandoning ship.
"Just as the torpedo struck us I was on the way to the pilot house from the scene of fire. Before I could reach the bridge the officer of the deck had sounded the submarine alarm, and I immediately sounded the signal for 'Abandon ship.' The officer on watch, quartermaster, and signalman went to their boats. Radio Electrician Watson being relieved by Radio Electrician Ausburne in the radio room, reported on the bridge for instructions. I sent an order to get out an S. 0. S signal. Radio Electrician Watson, who was lost, remained with me on the bridge until the gun crews forward were ordered to save themselves. He was wearing a life jacket and was on his way to his boat when I last saw him.
GOOD ORDER AND DISCIPLINE PREVAILED
"Before leaving port all boats had been rigged out except the two after boats, which, owing to their low davits, could not with safety be rigged out except in favorable weather. All other boats had been lowered to the level of the promenade deck. All hands had been carefully instructed and carefully drilled in the details of abandoning ship.
The best seamen in the ship's crew had been detailed and stationed by the falls; men had been stationed by the gripes of each boat, and all boats had been equipped with sea painters; two axes had been placed in each boat, one forward and one aft, for the purpose of cutting the falls or sea painters in case they should get jammed, and men had been detailed to cast them off.
That only 4 boats out of ro succeeded in getting clear of the ship was due to several causes—the short time the ship remained afloat after being torpedoed; the headway left on the ship, due to the fact that the engine-room personnel was put out of action by the explosion; the rough sea at the time; the fact that the ship listed heavily; and that one boat was destroyed by the explosion.
"When there was no one left in sight on the decks I went aft on the saloon deck, where several men were struggling in the water in the vicinity of No. 5 boat and making no attempt to swim away from the side of the ship. I thought perhaps these men could be induced to get clear of the ship, as it was feared the suction would carry them down.
By the time that point was reached, however, the ship, being at an angle with the horizontal of about 45 degrees, started to upend and go down, listing heavily to port. This motion threw me across the deck where I was washed overboard. The ship went down vertically. The suction effect was hardly noticeable.
GUNNERS AND RADIO MEN STAYED AT THEIR POSTS
"The behavior of the naval personnel throughout was equal to the best traditions of the service. The two forward gun crews, in charge of Lieutenant Tisdale, remained at their gun stations while the ship went down, and made no move to leave their stations until ordered to save themselves.
Radio Electrican Ausburne went down with the ship while at his station in the radio room. When the ship was struck Ausburne and McMahon were asleep in adjacent bunks opposite the radio room. Ausburne, realizing the seriousness of the situation, told McMahon to get his life preserver on, saying, as he left to take his station at the radio key, 'Good-bye, Mac.' McMahon, later finding the radio room locked and seeing the ship was sinking, tried to get Ausburne out, but failed.
"As soon as the Henderson saw what was wrong she turned to starboard and made a thick smoke screen which completely hid her from view. The Willehad turned to port and made off at her best speed. The Corsair and Alcedo returned to the scene of the accident and circled for about two hours, when the Alcedo began the rescue of the survivors, the Corsair continuing to look for the submarine.
The total number of persons on board the Antilles was 234, the Corsair rescuing 50 and the Alcedo 117. Too much credit cannot be given to the officers and men of the Corsair and Alcedo for their rescue work and for their whole-heartedness and generosity in succoring the needs of the survivors. The work of the medical officers attached to the above vessels was worthy of highest praise.
"An instance comes back which indicates the coolness of the gun crews. One member was rescued from the top of an ammunition box which by some means had floated clear and in an upright position. When this young man saw the Corsair standing down to pick him up he semaphored not to come too close, as the box on which he was sitting contained live ammunition."
"FINLAND" STRUCK BY TORPEDO
Eleven days later the Finland, an army chartered transport, was struck by a torpedo not far from the French coast. Though the explosion blew a huge hole in the ship's side, she was successfully navigated to port, was repaired and put back into service.
The senior naval officer on board, Captain Stephen V. Graham, in his report gave this account of the incident:
"The weather was cloudy and a moderate sea with white caps was running and I was personally keeping a very careful lookout for submarines and was engaged in searching the water on both sides with powerful binoculars. At about 9:25 A. M. I had just finished searching the water on the starboard side when the naval signal quartermaster on watch called out, 'Commander, torpedo.'
I turned and saw a torpedo about 50 to mo yards distant making a surface run directly toward the ship. The whirring of the torpedo's propellers could be heard when they broke the surface of the water. The torpedo was so close to the ship when it was sighted that any maneuver to avoid it was entirely impossible.
I sprang toward the engine telegraph to give the signal for stopping the engines, but before I could do this the torpedo exploded directly under the bridge. The concussive effect of the explosion was considerable, but not as great as had been anticipated. No 'one on the bridge was injured by it.
This is undoubtedly due to the fact that the enemy economized in the explosive charge of torpedoes destined for use against merchant vessels, and used only enough to produce the desired rupture in a vessel's skin plating.
"Notwithstanding the fact that the torpedo was only 4 or 5 feet below the surface when it exploded against the ship's side an immense volume of water was thrown up. The engines were promptly stopped and the whistle signal made to indicate to the other vessels present that the ship had been torpedoed. It is a-curious fact that most of the other vessels present did not know that the Finland had been torpedoed until this signal was made.
SHIP RIGHTED HERSELF AFTER BLOW
"I directed a radio operator to send out an S. 0. S. call, but it was found that the aerial had been carried away by the force of the explosion. The first report that reached the bridge was that the forward fireroom was flooded. At this time it did not appear probable that the ship would sink, but in a short time she began to list heavily to starboard, and seemed to be settling.
I ordered the lowering of the remaining boats which were hanging on their falls at the level of the promenade deck. These boats were scarcely in the water when the ship began to right herself, and the acting master, Chief Officer John Jensen, who had been below to investigate the extent of the damage, returned to the bridge and reported to me that the damage had been confined to No. 4 hold, the bulkheads of which were intact.
"In the meantime I observed Third Assistant Engineer George Mikkelsen, who had been on watch in the engine room when the torpedo struck the ship, moving about the main deck with a wooden mallet in his hand endeavoring to drive terrified firemen back to their stations. He came to the bridge and reported to me that the boilers and engines were not damaged and that the ship could be got under way again in a short time if he could get the men back to their stations.
"The compartment in which the damage had been done was hold No. 4, situated immediately forward of the firerooms and used as a reserve coal bunker. At the time the ship was torpedoed this hold contained about 600 tons of coal. After the ship had been placed in dry dock upon her return to France it was found that most of this coal had run out through the hole made in the ship's side by the explosion of the torpedo.
HEAVY SQUALL HAMPERED RESCUE WORK
"When I received the master's report that the damage was confined to this one compartment, I hailed the boats which were close to the ship and directed them to come alongside and had a signal sent to the escorting yachts to send back to the Finland boats which were approaching them.
These yachts, the Alcedo and Wakiva, had come close to the Finland and lowered boats to rescue people who had been cast into the water by the dropping of the two boats mentioned above. The converted yacht Corsair and one of the destroyers were circling at high speed around the Finland and dropping depth charges, in order to prevent the enemy submarine from delivering a second attack on the crippled Finland.
"While the Finland's boats were in the water a heavy squall came up and rendered the return of the heavily laden boats very difficult. They could. come alongside only on the starboard side, and getting the people back on board was very slow work.
Hoisting the boats was not to be thought of, for every moment that this large ship remained stopped was attended with grave danger of receiving a second torpedo. As soon as the passengers were out of the boats the latter were cast adrift. The ship got underway to return to a French port 150 miles distant.
The Finland was escorted into port by the Corsair and one of the destroyers under the command of Commander F. N. Freeman. One destroyer remained with the Alcedo and Wakiva to afford them protection while they were picking up the remainder of the Finland's crew. The other two destroyers had proceeded with the two freighters, which steamed away at full power from the scene of the torpedoing of the Finland.
"During the return of the ship to the French port it became necessary to send everyone to the fireroom who could shovel coal. Deck hands, stewards, and even passengers, including some of the discharged American ambulance drivers, responded with alacrity to this call, and within a short time after starting ahead the ship was making nearly 15 knots, which was as good a speed as she had made at any time during her employment in the transport service.
"The bulkheads of the damaged compartment held and there was no leakage of water through the water-tight doors leading into the forward fireroom and the adjacent hold. The doors were kept closed tightly with wooden wedges.
YOUNGEST OFFICER STAYED BY HIS GUN
"On the way into port the nervous tension of those on deck was greatly relieved by the necessity of laughing at the earnestness with which several lookouts reported a spouting whale as a submarine. It is regrettable that eight men lost their lives on the occasion of the torpedoing of the Finland. The coolness and resourcefulness of the acting master and engineer of the watch are deserving of commendation.
Cadet Officer David McLaren was the youngest officer on board—just 18 years old. After I had ordered the lowering of the boats this lad, who was in charge of one of them and would have been entirely justified in leaving the ship which he believed to be sinking, returned to the bridge and reported to me that his boat was lowered and clear of the ship and asked if he could be of any service.
He remained on the bridge rendering valuable assistance and displaying nerve and resourcefulness worthy of the best traditions of the sea. One naval lad was down in the living compartment cleaning up when the ship was struck. Some one in one of the boats hanging at the davits seeing him hurrying along the promenade deck asked him which boat he belonged to. He replied, 'Boat No.
The inquirer said, 'This is No. 4; jump in.' And the youngster replied, 'Oh, no, I have to go to my gun.' And he did.
"The following-named naval officers were assigned to the Finland: Captain Stephen V. Graham, United States Navy; Lieutenant Clarkson J. Bright, United States Navy; Ensign William J. Forrestel, United States Navy.
"A large number of survivors from the transport Antilles, which about io days previously had been torpedoed and sunk in four or five minutes, were on board the Finland when she was torpedoed.
"A great many pieces of the torpedo which struck the Finland fell on deck and were collected and carefully guarded by the crew and passengers. One lad claimed that he had a piece which bore the name of the maker of the torpedo. When he produced it it was found to be one of the vertical rudders which bore the inscription `Rechts' (German for `right').
"The submarine which fired the torpedo into the Finland was seen neither before nor after it was fired. When the Finland was placed in dry dock at the French port it was found that the torpedo had made a hole in the ship's side about 35 feet in horizontal direction near the water line and extending down to the bilge-keel in an irregular V shape. The compartment was completely gutted, and a period of two months was required to effect the necessary repairs."
"ALCEDO" SUNK BY TORPEDO
On November 5, the converted yacht Ale edo, which had been on almost constant escort duty and had rescued 117 survivors of the Antilles when that vessel was torpedoed, was sunk by enemy submarine while escorting a convoy from Quiberon. The night was dark, the weather hazy, and at times even the ships of the convoy were not visible.
One officer and twenty men of the crew were lost. Commander W. T. Conn, Jr., the commanding officer, having written his night orders, had left the bridge and turned in when the torpedo struck. He gave this personal account of the sinking of the vessel:
"At or about 1:45 A. M., November 5, while sleeping in emergency cabin, immediately under upper bridge, I was awakened by a commotion and immediately received a report from some man unknown, 'Submarine, captain.' I jumped out of bed and went to the upper bridge, and the officer of the deck, Lieutenant Paul, stated he had sounded 'general quarters,' had seen submarine on surface about 300 yards on port bow, and submarine had fired a torpedo, which was approaching.
I took station on port wing of upper bridge and saw torpedo approaching about 200 feet distant. Lieutenant Paul had put the rudder full right before I arrived on bridge, hoping to avoid the torpedo. The ship answered slowly to her helm, however, and before any other action could be taken the torpedo I saw struck the ship's side immediately under the port forward chain plates, the detonation occurring instantly. I was thrown down and for a few seconds dazed by falling debris and water.
SUBMARINE ALARM SOUNDED
"Upon regaining my feet I sounded the submarine alarm on the siren, to call all hands if they had not heard the general alarm gong, and to direct the attention of the convoy and other escorting vessels. Called to the forward gun crews to see if at stations, but by this time realized that the top gallant forecastle was practically awash. The foremast had fallen, carrying away radio aerial. I called out to abandon ship.
"I then left the upper bridge and went into the chart house to obtain ship's position from the chart, but, as there was no light, could not see. I went out of the chart house and met the navigator, Lieutenant Leonard, and asked him if he had sent any radio, and he replied 'No.' I directed him and accompanied him to the main deck and told him to take charge of cutting away forward dories and life rafts.
"I then proceeded along starboard gangway and found a man lying face down in gangway. I stooped and rolled him over and spoke to him, but received no reply and was unable to learn his identity, owing to the darkness. It is my opinion that this man was dead.
"I continued to the after end of ship, took station on after-gun platform. I realized that the ship was filling rapidly and her bulwarks amidships were level with the water. I directed the after dories and life rafts to be cut away and thrown overboard and ordered the men in the immediate vicinity to jump over the side, intending to follow them.
CAPTAIN CARRIED DOWN BY SHIP'S SUCTION
"Before I could jump, however, the ship listed heavily to port, plunging by the head, and sank, carrying me down with the suction. I experienced no difficulty, however, in getting clear, and when I came to the surface I swam a few yards to a life raft, to which were clinging three men. We climbed on board this raft and upon looking around observed Doyle, chief boatswain's mate, and one other man in the whaleboat. We paddled to the whaleboat and embarked from the life raft.
"The whaleboat was about half full of water, and we immediately started bailing and then to rescue men from wreckage, and quickly filled the whaleboat to more than its maximum capacity, so that no others could be taken aboard. We then picked up two overturned dories which were nested together, separated them and righted them, only to find out that their sterns had been broken.
We then located another nest of dories, which were separated and righted and found to be seaworthy. Transferred some men from the whaleboat into these dories and proceeded to pick up other men from wreckage. During this time cries were heard from two men in the water some distance away who were holding on to wreckage and calling for assistance. It is believed that these men were Ernest M. Harrison, mess attendant, and John Winne, Jr., seaman. As soon as the dories were available we proceeded to where they were last seen, but could find no trace of them.
SUBMARINE APPEARED AMONG LIFE BOATS
"About this time, which was probably an hour after the ship sank, a German submarine approached the scene of torpedoing and lay to near some of the dories and life rafts. She was in the light condition, and from my observation of her I am of the opinion that she was of the U-27-31 type. This has been confirmed by having a number of men and officers check the silhouette book. The submarine was probably ioo yards distant from my whaleboat, and I heard no remarks from anyone on the submarine, although I observed three persons standing on tcp of conning tower.
After laying on surface about half an hour the submarine steered off and submerged.
"I then proceeded with the whaleboat and two dories searching through the wreckage to make sure that no survivors were left in the water. No other people being seen, at 4:30 A. M. we started away from the scene of the disaster.
"The Alcedo was sunk, as near as I can estimate, 75 miles west true of north end of Belle Ile. The torpedo struck ship at 1:46 by the officer of the deck's watch, and the same watch stopped at 1:54 A. M., November 5, this showing that the ship remained afloat eight minutes.
MEN IN BOATS ROWED FOR MANY HOURS
"The flare of Penmark Light was visible, and I headed for it and ascertained the course by Polaris to be approximately northeast. We rowed until 1:15, when Penmark Lighthouse was sighted. Continued rowing until 5:15 P. M., when Pen-mark Lighthouse was distant about 21 z miles.
We were then picked up by French torpedo boat 275, and upon going on board I requested the commanding officer to radio immediately to Brest reporting the fact of torpedoing and that 3 officers and 40 men were proceeding to Brest. The French gave all assistance possible for the comfort of the survivors. We arrived at Brest about II P. M. Those requiring medical attention were sent to the hospital and the others were sent off to the Panther to be quartered.
"Upon arrival at Brest I was informed that two other dories containing Lieutenant H. R. Leonard, Lieutenant H. A. Peterson, Passed Assistant Surgeon Paul 0. M. Andreae, and 25 men had landed at Pen March Point. This was my first information that these officers and men had been saved, as they had not been seen by any of my party at the scene of torpedoing."
EXTENSIVE SYSTEM ESTABLISHED ON FRENCH COAST
Rear Admiral (now Vice Admiral) Henry B. Wilson on November I, 1917, took command of all U. S. Naval Forces Operating in French waters. Rear Admiral Fletcher had been detached from command of the Patrol Squadrons on October 20th, turning over the command to Captain T. P. Magruder.
Admiral Wilson put into effect a comprehensive system which embraced not only the patrol and escort ships operating in French waters, but also the Navy's activities in French ports, whose facilities had to be greatly enlarged to accommodate the large number of American troops and the immense quantities of supplies and munitions arriving. A number of aviation bases were also established on the French Coast.
Captain Hutch I. Cone was made "Commander U. S. Naval Aviation Forces, Foreign Service," and exercised general supervision over our aviation activities in England, as well as France. Admiral Wilson built up a notably efficient organization which, working in close connection with the French Navy, soon curtailed submarine activities in that region and made comparatively safe the French ports at which American troops were landed.
"CASSIN," HIT BY TORPEDO, SAVED BY QUICK ACTION
The American destroyers operating in the war zone had been on constant duty for seven months before the first and only one sunk by enemy submarine, the Jacob Jones, was torpedoed. The little Chauncey, of 592 tons displacement, had been, on November i9th, sunk in collision with a British transport, 18 lives being lost.
The Cassin was struck by a torpedo on October 15, but was taken to port and repaired. But one man was killed, Gunner's Mate Osmond K. Ingram, who gave his life to save the ship. To commemorate this courageous act, Secretary Daniels named one of the new destroyers the Ingram. Commander W. N. Vernou was in command of the Cassin, which was patrolling off the Irish coast about 20 miles south of Mine Head when, at 1:30 P. M., a submarine was sighted some distance away. The Cassin went at full speed for the spot, but the submarine had submerged.
What occurrred afterward is told in the official report:
"At about 1:57 P. M. the commanding officer sighted a torpedo apparently shortly after it had been fired, running near the surface and in a direction that war estimated would make a hit either in the engine or fire room. When first seen the torpedo was between 300 and 400 yards from the ship, and the wake could be followed on the other side for about 400 yards.
The torpedo was running at high speed, at least 35 knots. The Cassin was maneuvering to dodge the torpedo, double emergency full speed ahead having been signaled from the engine room and the rudder put hard left as soon as the torpedo was sighted. It looked for the moment as though the torpedo would pass astern.
When about 15 or 20 feet away the torpedo porpoised, completely leaving the water and sheering to the left. Before again taking the water the torpedo hit the ship well aft on the port side about frame 163 and above the water line. Almost immediately after the explosion of the torpedo the depth charges, located on the stern and ready for firing, exploded. There were two distinct explosions in quick succession after the torpedo hit.
GAVE HIS LIFE TO SAVE HIS SHIP
"But one life was lost. Osmond K. Ingram, gunner's mate first class, was cleaning the muzzle of No. 4 gun, target practice being just over when the attack occurred. With rare presence of mind, realizing that the torpedo was about to strike the part of the ship where the depth charges were stored and that the setting off of these explosives might sink the ship, Ingram, immediately seeing the danger, ran aft to strip these charges and throw them overboard.
He was blown to pieces when the torpedo struck. Thus Ingram sacrificed his life in performing a duty which he believed would save his ship and the lives of the officers and men on board.
"Nine members of the crew received minor injuries.
"After the ship was hit, the crew was kept at general quarters.
"The executive officer and engineer officer inspected the parts of the ship that were damaged, and those adjacent to the damage. It was found that the engine and fire rooms and after magazine were intact and that the engines could be worked; but that the ship could not be steered, the rudder having been blown off and the stern blown to starboard.
The ship continued to turn to starboard in a circle. In an effort to put the ship on a course by the use of the engines, something carried away which put the starboard engine out of commission. The port engine was kept going at slow speed. The ship, being absolutely unmanageable, sometimes turned in a circle and at times held an approximate course for several minutes.
"Immediately after the ship was torpedoed the radio was out of commission.. The radio officer and radio electrician chief managed to improvise a temporary auxiliary antenna. The generators were out of commission for a short time after the explosion, the ship being in darkness below.
SUBMARINE AGAIN SIGHTED
"When this vessel was torpedoed, there was another United States destoryer, name unknown, within signal distance. She had acknowledged our call by searchlight before we were torpedoed. After being torpedoed, an attempt was made to signal her by searchlight, flag, and whistle, and the distress signal was hoisted. Apparently through a misunderstanding she steamed away and was lost sight of.
"At about 2:30 P. M., when we were in approximately the same position as when torpedoed, a submarine conning tower was sighted on port beam, distant about 1,500 yards, ship still circling under port engine. Opened fire with No. 2 gun, firing four rounds. Submarine submerged and was not seen again. Two shots struck very close to submarine.
"At 3:50 P. M., U. S. S. Porter stood by. At 4:25 P. M., wreckage which was hanging to stern dropped off. At dark stopped port engine and drifted. At about 9 P. M., H. M. S. Jessamine and H. M. S. Tamarisk stood by. H. M. S. Jessamine signalled she would stand by until morning and then take us in tow. At this time sea was very rough, wind about six or seven (34 or 40 miles an hour) and increasing.
"H. M. S. Tamarisk prepared to take us in tow and made one attempt after another to get a line to us. Finally, about 2:10 A. M., October 16th, the Tamarisk lowered a boat in rough sea and sent grass line by means of which our 8-inch hawser was sent over to her. At about 2:30 A. M. Tamarisk started towing us to Queenstown, speed about 4 knots, this vessel towing well on starboard quarter of Tamarisk, due to condition of stern described above. At 3:25 hawser parted.
"Between this time and 10:37 A. M., when a towing line was received from H. M. S. Snowdrop, various attempts were made by the Tamarisk and two trawlers and a tug to tow the Cassin. An 11-inch towing hawser from the Tamarisk parted. All ships, except her, lost the Cassin during the night. The Cassin was drifting rapidly on a lee shore, and had it not been for the Tamarisk getting out a line in the early morning, the vessel would undoubtedly have grounded on Hook Point, as it is extremely doubtful if her anchors would have held.
35 FEET OF STERN BLOWN OFF
"About 35 feet of the stern was blown off or completely ruptured. The after living compartments and after storerooms are completely wrecked or gone, and all stores and clothing from these parts of the ship are gone or ruined. About 45 members of the crew, including the chief petty officers, lost practically everything but the clothes they had on.
"At the time of the explosion there were a number of men in the after compartments. How they managed to escape is beyond explanation.
"The officers and crew behaved splendidly. There was no excitement. The men went to their stations quietly and remained there all night, except when called away to handle lines.
"The work of the executive officer, Lieutenant J. W. McClaran, and of the engineer officer, Lieutenant J. A. Saunders, is deserving of especial commendation. These two officers inspected magazines and spaces below decks and superintended shoring of bulkheads and restaying of masts. Lieutenant (junior grade) R. M. Parkinson did excellent work in getting an improvised radio set into commission. W. J. Murphy, chief electrician (radio), and F. R. Fisher, chief machinist's mate, are specifically mentioned in the commanding officer's report for their cool and efficient work.
"Twenty-two enlisted men are mentioned by name as conspicuous for their coolness and leadership.
"From the statement of all the officers it is evident that luck favored the submarine. The destroyer probably would have escaped being hit had not the torpedo broached twice and turned, decidedlyto the left both times—in other words, failed to function properly.
850 POUNDS OF TNT EXPLODED
"The equivalent of 850 pounds of TNT is estimated to have exploded in and upon the Cassin's fantail; this includes the charges of the torpedo and of both depth mines. No 4 gun, blown overboard, left the ship to port, although that was the side which the torpedo hit. The gun went over at a point well forward of her mount. The mass of the wreckage, however, went to starboard.
Explosion of the depth charges, rather than that of the torpedo outward or in throwback, supposedly effected this. About five seconds elapsed between the torpedo's detonation and those of the mines. They probably went off close together, for accounts vary as to whether there were in all two or three explosions.
"The miracle by which the twenty-odd men in the three wrecked after living compartments escaped with only minor injuries is most striking in the case of F. W. Kruse, fireman, first class. He was asleep in his bunk on the port side, only a few feet forward of the torpedo's point of impact into the storerooms.
Four frames, 84 inches of side, were disrupted immediately alongside his body. He made his way through each of the three compartments, climbed the ladder to the main deck, in a state of unconsciousness, and did not regain his mind until he had gone forward as far as No. 4 stack. His duty was in No. 2 fireroom, which it is believed his subconsciousness was urging him toward.
"Others caught below in the crew space probably did their duty of dogging the water-tight doors from a like cause and in a similar state. The two doors leading into the after compartment, and the door between the C. P. O.'s (chief petty officers') quarters and the engine-room P. O.'s (petty officer's) quarters were all found firmly and perfectly dogged. Yet all the men escaping up the ladder from this deck declared that from the first instant of the explosion they had been absolutely blinded. Seven men were in the after space, and about the same number in each of the two others.
BULKHEAD SHORED WITH MATTRESSES
"Of the two after doors, that to port threatened to carry away soon after the seas began to pound in. The main mass of the wreckage which dropped off did so upward of an hour after the explosions. It was at this time that the bulkhead began to buckle and the port door and dogging weaken. It was shored with mattresses under the personal direction of the executive.
Up to this time and until the seas began to crumple the bulkhead completely, there was only a few inches of water in the two P. 0. compartments; and even when the Cassin reached Queenstown, hardly more than three feet. None of the compartments directly under these three on the deck below—handling room, magazine, and oil tanks—were injured at all. The tanks were farthest aft, and were pumped out after docking.
"One piece of metal entered the wash room and before coming to rest completely circled it without touching a man who was standing in the center of the compartment. Another stray piece tore a 6-inch hole in one of the stacks.
"The destroyer within signal distance at the time of the attack was the U. S. S. Porter. It is believed that she saw the explosion, at least of the two depth charges, and thinking that the Cassin was attacking a submarine, started off scouting before a signal could be sent and after the radio was out of commission."
THE "JACOB JONES" SUNK BY SUBMARINE
It was late in the afternoon of December 6, 1917, that the Jacob Jones was sunk, with the loss of one officer, Lieutenant (junior grade) Stanton F. Kalk, of Washington, D. C., and 61 men of the crew, the most serious naval loss that had occurred up to that time. The commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander David W. Bagley, in his official report gave this account:
"At 4:21 P. M. on December 6, 1917, in latitude 49-23 north, longitude 6-13 west, clear weather, smooth sea, speed 13 knots, zigzagging, the U. S. S. Jacob Jones was struck on the starboard side by a torpedo from an enemy submarine. The ship was one of six of an escorting group which were returning independently from off Brest to Queenstown. All other ships of the group were out of sight ahead.
"I was in the chart house and heard some one call out 'Torpedo.' I jumped at once to the bridge, and on the way up saw the torpedo about 800 yards from the ship approaching from about one point abaft the starboard beam headed for a point about midships, making a perfectly straight surface run (alternately broaching and submerging to apparently four or five feet), at an estimated speed of at least 40 knots.
No periscope was sighted. When I reached the bridge I found that the officer of the deck had already put the rudder hard left and rung up emergency speed on the engine-room telegraph. The ship had already begun to swing to the left. I personally rang up emergency speed again and then turned to watch the torpedo.
The executive officer, Lieutenant Norman Scott, left the chart house just ahead of me, saw the torpedo immediately on getting outside the door, and estimates that the torpedo when he sighted it was I,000 yards away, approaching from one point, or slightly less, abaft the beam and making exceedingly high speed.
COULDN'T AVOID THE TORPEDO
"After seeing the torpedo and realizing the straight run, line of approach, and high speed it was making, I was convinced that it was impossible to maneuver to avoid it. Lieutenant (junior grade) S. F. Kalk was officer of the deck at the time, and I consider that he took correct and especially prompt measures in maneuvering to avoid the torpedo.
Lieutenant Kalk was a very able officer, calm and collected in emergency. He had been attached to the ship for about two months and had shown especial aptitude. His action in this emergency entirely justified my confidence in him. I deeply regret to state that he was lost as a result of the torpedoing of the ship, dying of exposure on one of the rafts.
"The torpedo broached and jumped clear of the water at a short distance from the ship, submerged about 50 or 60 feet from the ship, and struck approximately three feet below the water line in the fuel-oil tank between the auxiliary room and the after crew space.
The ship settled aft immediately after being torpedoed to a point at which the deck just forward of the after deck house was awash, and then more gradually until the deck abreast the engine-room hatch was awash. A man on watch in the engine room, D. R. Carter, oiler, attempted to close the water-tight door between the auxiliary room and the engine room, but was unable to do so against the pressure of water from the auxiliary room.
DECK BLOWN CLEAR FOR TWENTY FEET
"The deck over the forward part of the after crew space and over the fuel-oil tank just forward of it was blown clear for a space athwartships of about 20 feet from starboard to port, and the auxiliary room wrecked. The starboard after torpedo tube was blown into the air.
No fuel oil ignited and, apparently, no ammunition exploded. The depth charges in the chutes aft were set on ready and exploded after the stern sank. It was impossible to get to them to set them on safe as they were under water. Immediately the ship was torpedoed, Lieutenant J. K. Richards, the gunnery officer, rushed aft to attempt to set the charges on `safe,' but was unable to get further aft than the after deck house.
"As soon as the torpedo struck I attempted to send out an 'S. 0. S.' message by radio, but the mainmast was carried away, antennae falling, and all electric power had failed. I then tried to have the gun-sight lighting batteries connected up in an effort to send out a low-power message with them, but it was at once evident that this would not be practicable before the ship sank. There was no other vessel in sight, and it was therefore impossible to get through a distress signal of any kind.
"Immediately after the ship was torpedoed every effort was made to get rafts and boats launched. Also the circular life belts from the bridge and several splinter mats from the outside of the bridge were cut adrift and afterwards proved very useful in holding men up until they could be got to the rafts. Weighted confidential publications were thrown over the side. There was no time to destroy other confidential matter, but it went down with the ship.
SHIP SANK IN EIGHT MINUTES
"The ship sank about 4:29 P. M. (about eight minutes after being torpedoed). As I saw her settling rapidly, I ran along the deck and ordered everybody I saw to jump overboard. At this time most of those not killed by the explosion were clear of the ship and were on rafts or wreckage. Some, however, were swimming and a few appeared to be about a ship's length astern of the ship, at some distance from the rafts, probably having jumped overboard very soon after the ship was struck.
"Before the ship sank two shots were fired from No. 4 gun with the hope of attracting attention of some near-by ship. As the ship began sinking I jumped overboard. The ship sank stern first and twisted slowly through nearly 180 degrees as she swung upright. From this nearly vertical position, bow in the air to about the forward funnel, she went straight down. Before the ship reached the vertical position the depth charges exploded, and I believe them to have caused the death of a number of men. They also partially paralyzed, stunned, or dazed a number of others, including Lieutenant Kalk and myself and several men, some of whom are still disabled but recovering.
SURVIVORS GATHERED ON RAFTS
"Immediate efforts were made to get all survivors on the rafts and then get rafts and boats together. Three rafts were launched before the ship sank and one floated off when she sank. The motor dory, hull undamaged but engine out of commission, also floated off, and the punt and wherry also floated clear.
The punt was wrecked beyond usefulness, and the wherry was damaged and leaking badly, but was of considerable use in getting men to the rafts. The whaleboat was launched but capsized soon afterwards, having been damaged by the explosion of the depth charges. The motor sailer did not float clear, but went down with the ship.
"About 15 or 20 minutes after the ship sank the submarine appeared on the surface about two or three miles to the westward of the rafts, and gradually approached until about 800 to 1,000 yards from the ship, where it stopped and was seen to pick up one unidentified man from the water. The submarine then submerged and was not seen again.
"I was picked up by the motor dory and at once began to make arrangements to try to reach the Scillys in that boat in order to get assistance to those on the rafts. All the survivors then in sight were collected and I gave orders to Lieutenant Richards to keep them together.
STARTED OUT IN BOAT TO SEEK HELP
"Lieutenant Scott, the navigating officer, had fixed the ship's position a few minutes before the explosion and both he and I knew accurately the course to be steered. I kept Lieutenant Scott to assist me and four men who were in good condition in the boat to man the oars, the engine being out of commission.
With the exception of some emergency rations and half a bucket of water, all provisions, including medical kits, were taken from the dory and left on the rafts. There was no apparatus of any kind which could be used for night signaling.
"After a very trying trip during which it was necessary to steer by stars and by the direction of the wind, the dory was picked up about I P. M., 7 December, by a small patrol vessel about six miles south of St. Mary's. Commander Randal, R. N. R., Senior Naval Officer, Scilly Isles, informed me that the other survivors had been rescued.
"One small raft (which had been separated from the others from the first) was picked up by the S. S. Catalina at 8 P. M., 6 December. After a most trying experience through the night, the remaining survivors were picked up by the H. M. S. Camellia, at 8:30 A. M., 7 December."
Bagley in his report especially commended Lieutenant Norman Scott, executive officer; Lieutenant Kalk, Lieutenant (junior grade) N. N. Gates; C. Charlesworth, boatswain's mate, second class; P. J. Burger, seaman, second class, who risked his life in efforts to get a life boat floated from the ship; L. J. Kelly, chief electrician; H. V. Chase, quartermaster, third class; H. L. Gibson, chief boatswain's mate, and E. Meier, water tender. Of Lieutenant Kalk, he said:
"Lieutenant (junior grade) S. F. Kalk, during the early part of the evening, but already in a weakened condition, swam from one raft to another in an effort to equalize weight on the rafts. The men who were on the raft with him state, in their own words, that 'He was game to the last.' "
The memory of Kalk is preserved in a new destroyer which bears his name.
AMERICAN SUBMARINES SENT OVER
Submarines had been successfully used by the British against enemy U-boats, and in the autumn of 1917 American submarines were sent abroad to co-operate with the British forces.
The first detachment, comprising six of the "K" class, sailed from Provincetown, Mass., October i3th. The second detachment, which included six of the "L" and one of the "E" class, with the Bushnell as "mother ship," and three tugs accompanying, sailed from Newport on December 4th. The principal American submarine base was Berehaven, Bantry Bay, on the Irish coast, from which they operated over a wide area until the end of U-boat warfare.
U. S. BATTLESHIPS JOINED BRITISH FLEET
The German High Seas Fleet being held behind its strong defenses and not venturing to give battle to the British Fleet which, with its allies, held control of the seas, there appeared to be, in the first few months after our entrance into the war, no necessity for sending battleships abroad. But, in the late autumn, it was decided to send over a division of battleships to co-operate with the British.
On November 25th Battleship Division 9, composed of the New York, Delaware, Wyoming, Florida and Texas, under command of Rear Admiral Hugh Rodman, sailed from Hampton Roads. They arrived at Scapa Flow, Orkney Islands, on December 7th, and a week later joined the British Grand Fleet, with which they served for a year.
The American battleships constituted a regular division of the Grand Fleet and did their full share of the work on the British coast and in the North Sea. They were present when the flower of the German High Seas Fleet surrendered, under the terms of the armistice, off Scapa Flow on November 21st, 1918.
In August, 1918, Battleship Division 6, composed of the Nevada, Oklahoma and Utah, under command of Rear Admiral T. S. Rodgers, was sent across, sailing from Norfolk, and having their base at Berehaven, Ireland.
RETURNED ON CHRISTMAS DAY
All these battleships gathered off Brest in December, 1918, to receive President Wilson on his first trip to France to attend the Peace Conference. Immediately afterward, accompanied by the Pennsylvania, Admiral Mayo's flagship, which had escorted the President to France, the battleships sailed for home waters, arriving off New York Christmas Day. The day following a big naval review and parade was held, the battleships being reviewed by the Secretary of the Navy. On his arrival, Admiral Rodman gave an interesting review of the work of the battleship division with the British Grand Fleet, in which he said:
"Sometimes we were commanded by British Admirals, sometimes they served under my command; yet there was never the slightest friction, misunderstanding or petty jealousies. In fact our mutual association in this war's work has drawn us so close together that in the Grand Fleet it was instrumental in ripening friendship with brotherhood.
"It is most gratifying to state, that within a very short time after joining and after our first operations with the Grand Fleet, we were assigned to one of the two places of honor and importance in the battle line.
We were known and designated as the Sixth Battle Squadron, and as one of the two so-called fast wings, would take station at the head or rear of the whole battleship force, dependent upon certain conditions unnecessary to mention, when going into action.
As a matter of fact when on one occasion we came within a few miles of cutting off from its base and engaging the German fleet, the disposition was such that the American battleship division would have been in the van and have led into action had the enemy not avoided action and taken refuge behind his defense as usual before we could catch him.
ALWAYS AFTER THE ENEMY
"It was our policy to go after him every time he showed his nose outside of his ports; no matter when or where, whether in single ships, by divisions, or his whole fleet, out we went, day or night, rain or shine (and there was mighty little daylight and much less shine in the winter months) blow high, or blow low, and chased him back into his hole.
"So persistent was this performance on our part, so sure were we to get after him, that toward the end he rarely ventured more than a few miles from his base, and immediately we would start after him, back he would go into his hole and haul his hole in after him.
"In our operations in the North Sea we were frequently attacked by submarines, and our battleships had numerous narrow escapes, often only by prompt and skilful handling.
SUBMARINE RAMMED THE "NEW YORK"
"On one occasion a submarine rammed the flagship New York, dented the bottom, demolished the starboard propeller. But there is every reason to believe that the blows from the propeller sank the submarine. En route to drydock, to make repairs and install a new propeller, three torpedoes in rapid succession were fired at her by hostile submarines. But again she avoided them by clever maneuvering and escaped.
FLAGSHIP NARROWLY ESCAPED TORPEDOES
"Once when guarding or supporting a convoy of thirty or forty vessels on the coast of Norway in midwinter a bunch of hostile subs fired six torpedoes at us. Again only our vigilance and instantaneous maneuvering saved us, but by a very narrow margin.
"Let it be sufficient to say that during our absence of a year there was no other condition than that of constant and continuous readiness for action. There was no liberty or leave worth mentioning; no one allowed away from the ships after dark, nor for a period larger than four hours, and then only in the immediate vicinity of the ship, subject to recall. All ships were completely closed and darkened from sunset to sunrise as a precaution against air and other attacks; in winter this means from fifteen to eighteen hours per day. This, in an all but Arctic climate, was one of our many hardships.
"With all the demands which have been placed upon the ships of this division, in spite of this constant readiness for action, it is no exaggeration to say, that were they called upon to do so, they could steam around the world as they are now, and still be ready to go into action.
65-MILE COLUMN OF SHIPS
"To give an idea of the immense size and number of vessels employed in the Grand Fleet, it might be of interest here to state that entering or leaving port, our column of ships, excluding destroyers, was on an average about 65 miles long; on one occasion, 76 miles. Its length was dependent upon weather and other conditions, as well as upon the number of ships.
"And so, after four years of war for the Grand Fleet, no more complete victory was ever won, nor a more disgraceful and humiliating end could not have come to a powerful and much vaunted fleet, than that,which came to the German High Seas Fleet. Let me try to describe it to you.
"A light British cruiser was directed to meet the Germans, who were heading west, and conduct them in between our two columns.
"Here let me diverge for a moment and recall to the minds of any of you who have been in China or the Philippines the viciousness of and antipathy which the domesticated carabao has for a white man. How ready they are to attack, while any native child can with perfect safety and impunity go up to the most savage of them, take them by the nose and lead them where he pleases.
SURRENDER OF THE GERMAN FLEET
"And so I was reminded of this when a little British cruiser rounded to ahead of the much vaunted German High Seas Fleet and hoisted the signal, 'Follow me,' and led them down between our columns, where our battle flags were mastheaded, turrets trained toward the enemy, crews at battle stations and all in readiness for any sort of treachery that might be attempted.
"At a prearranged signal our forces swung symmetrically through 180 degrees, and still paralleling the enveloped Germans, conducted them into a designated anchorage in the entrance of the Firth of Forth:
"Then came a signal from the commander-in-chief to the surrendered fleet:
" 'At sundown lower your colors and do not hoist them again without permission.' "Surely no greater humiliation could have befallen them after their frequent
and taunting boasts and threats.
"There is little else to be told. After an inspection by British and American officers to gain assurance that the ships were disarmed, they were sent in groups, under guard, to Scapa Flow, in the cold, dreary, bleak, God-forsaken harbor where the Grand Fleet had spent many a dreary month and year waiting like ferocious dogs in leash, watching and waiting to pounce on the German fleet should the opportunity ever occur.
"Here the Germans now lie at anchor in long, symmetrical lines, helpless, innocuous, harmless; their sting and bite removed; their national colors lowered for good, and all as a token of submission to their masters. They are guarded by a single division of battleships."
BASES AT GIBRALTAR AND IN THE AZORES
The Mediterranean was the scene of considerable submarine activity in our first year at war, and many vessels were sunk in that region. To insure closer co-operation with the British, French and Italian forces, a United States naval base was established at Gibraltar, Rear Admiral A. P. Niblack assuming command November 25, 1917. The increase in patrol and escort vessels and the improved system established by the Allies soon resulted in a marked reduction in sinkings and a greater measure of safety to vessels sailing through those Waters.
The Azores, those Portuguese islands which formed a convenient half-way stopping place between America and Europe, became of considerable importance, and a naval base was established there in January, 1918, with Rear Admiral Herbert 0. Dunn in command.
U. S. SUB-CHASERS IN ATTACK ON DURAZZO
To co-operate with the Italian and British fleets operating against Austria in the Adriatic, a flotilla of submarine chasers was sent to Corfu. In the operation of October 2d, 1918, which resulted in the destruction of the Austrian naval base at Durazzo, a dozen American sub-chasers, under command of Captain Charles P. Nelson and Lieutenant Commander E. H. Bastedo, played a conspicuous part.
They were credited with sinking one enemy submarine and the probable destruction of another; under bombardment they screened larger ships from torpedo attack, and went to the aid of a British cruiser which was torpedoed.
SANK AUSTRIAN U-BOATS
The British Force Commander, in a despatch forwarded by the British Admiralty to Admiral Sims, wrote:
"I am most grateful for the valuable service rendered by twelve submarine chasers under Captain Nelson, U. S. N., and Lieutenant Commander Bastedo, U. S. N., which I took the liberty of employing in an operation against Durazzo on October 2d. They screened heavy ships during the bombardments under enemy fire; also apparently destroyed definitely one submarine which torpedoed H. M. S. Weymouth, and damaged and probably destroyed another submarine.
During the return voyage they assisted in screening H. M. S. Weymouth, and in escorting enemy hospital ship which was being brought in for examination. Their conduct throughout was beyond praise. They all returned safely without casualties. They thoroughly enjoyed themselves."
A despatch to Admiral Sims from Rome stated:
"Italian Naval General Staff expresses highest appreciation of useful and efficient work performed by United States chasers in protecting major naval vessels during action against Durazzo; also vivid admiration of their brilliant and clever operations which resulted in sinking two enemy submarines."
SUB-CHASERS STAUNCH AND SEAWORTHY
More than 400 of these iio-foot submarine chasers were built, and they proved their worth in foreign as well as home waters. Young reservists, with Lieutenant (junior grade) Roscoe Howard, U. S. N. R. F., in command, brought a group of them from Puget Sound through the Panama Canal to New London, Conn., 7,000 miles.
One of these sub-chasers manned by French sailors was separated from its companions in a terrific storm alone in mid-Atlantic, given up as lost; but a month later reached the Azores, having been navigated to port with sails made from bed clothing. After repairs that Chaser, No. 28, went on across and ever since has been on duty on the coast of France.
SINKING OF THE "PRESIDENT LINCOLN"
The most serious loss in our transport service was that of the President Lincoln, which was sunk by submarine, about 700 miles from the French coast, on May 31, 1918. Of the 715 men aboard, all but 27 were rescued; 3 officers and i3 men being lost and one, Lieutenant Edward V. M. Isaacs, of Iowa, taken prisoner by the submarine.
Commander Percy W. Foote, commanding officer of the President .Lincoln, gave the following account of the sinking:
"On May 31,1918, the President Lincoln was returning to America from a voyage to France, and was in line formation with the U. S. S. Susquehanna, the U. S. S. Antigone, and the U. S. S. Ryndam, the latter being on the left flank of the formation and about Boo yards from the President Lincoln. The weather was pleasant, the sun shining brightly, with a choppy sea.
The ships were about soo miles from the coast of France and had passed through what was considered to be the most dangerous part of the war zone. At about 9 A. M. a terrific explosion occurred on the port side of the ship about 120 feet from the bow and immediately afterwards another explosion occurred on the port side about 120 feet from the stern of the ship, these explosions being immediately identified as coming from torpedoes fired by a German submarine.
"It was found that the ship was struck by three torpedoes, which had been fired as one salvo from the submarine, two of the torpedoes striking practically together near the bow of the ship and the third striking near the stern. The wake of the torpedoes had been sighted by the officers and lookouts on watch, but the torpedoes were so close to the ship as to make it impossible to. avoid them; and it was also found that the submarine at the time of firing was only about 800 yards from the President Lincoln.
"The performance of Lieutenant Commander Kenyon, commanding the U. S. destroyer Warrington, and Lieutenant Commander Klein, of the U. S. destroyer Smith, deserves great commendation, as they located our position in the middle of the night, after having run a distance of about 250 miles, during which time the boats and rafts of the President Lincoln had drifted 15 miles from the position reported by radio, and it had been necessary for the commanding officers of these destroyers to make an estimate of the probable drift of the boats during that time.
The only thing they had to base their estimate on was the force and direction of the wind. The discovery of the boats was not accidental, as the course steered was the result of mature deliberation and estimate of the situation.
26 LOST WITH THE SHIP
"Of the 715 men present all told on board, it was found after the muster that three officers and 23 men were lost with the ship, and that one officer, Lieutenant Isaacs, above mentioned, had been taken prisoner. The three officers were Passed Assistant Surgeon L. C. Whiteside, ship's medical officer; Paymaster Andrew Mowat, ship's supply officer; and Assistant Paymaster J. D. Johnston, United States Naval Reserve Force.
"The loss of these officers was peculiarly regrettable, as they could have escaped. Both Dr. Whiteside and Paymaster Mowat had seen the men under their charge leave the ship, the doctor having attended to placing the sick in the boat provided for the purpose, and they then remained in the ship for some unexplainable reason, as testified by witnesses who last saw them, and apparently these two excellent officers were taken down with the ship.
Paymaster Johnson got on a raft alongside the ship, but in some way was caught by the ship as she went under, as C. M. Hippard, ship's cook, third class, United States Navy, states that he was on the raft with Paymaster Johnston and that they were both drawn under the water, but when he came to the surface Paymaster Johnston could no longer be seen.
"Of the 23 men who were lost seven were engaged in work below decks in the forward end of the ship, and they were either killed by the force of the explosion of the two torpedoes which struck in that vicinity, or were drowned by the inrush of the water. The remaining 16 men were apparently caught on the raft alongside the ship and went down, this being probably caused by the current of water which was rushing into the big hole in the ship's side, as the men were on rafts which were in this vicinity.
FEARED "SUB" WOULD FIRE ON LIFE-BOATS
"Although the German submarine commander made no offers of assistance of any kind, yet otherwise his conduct for the ship's company in the boat was all that could be expected. We naturally had some apprehension as to whether or not he would open fire on the boats and rafts.
I thought he might probably do this, as an attempt to make me and other officers disclose their identity. This possibility was evidently in the minds of the men of the crew also, because at one time I noticed someone on the submarine walk to the muzzle of one of the guns, apparently with the intention of preparing it for action.
This was evidently observed by some of the men in my boat, and I heard the remark, 'Good night, here comes the fireworks.' The spirit which actuated the remark of this kind, under such circumstances, could be none other than that of cool courage and bravery.
"There were many instances where a man showed more interest in the safety of another than he did for himself. When loading the boats from the rafts one man would hold back and insist that another be allowed to enter the boat.
There was a striking case of this kind when about dark I noticed that Chief Master-at-Arms Rogers, who was rather an old man, and had been in the Navy for years, was on a raft, and I sent a boat to take him from the raft, but he objected considerably to this, stating that he was quite all right, although as a matter of fact he was very cold and cramped from his long hours on the raft.
"Fortunately this splendid type of life raft known as the Balsa raft, as it was made of balsa wood, had been furnished the ship, and these resulted in saving a great many men who might otherwise have been lost, due to exhaustion in the water.
"The conduct of the men during this time of grave danger was thrilling and inspiring, as a large percentage of them were young boys, who had only been in the Navy for a period of a few months. This is another example of the innate courage and bravery of the young manhood of America.
715 PERSONS ON BOARD THE VESSEL
"There were at the time 715 persons on board, including about 30 officers and men of the Army. Some of these were sick and two soldiers were totally paralyzed.
"The alarm was immediately sounded and everyone went to his proper station which had been designated at previous drills. There was not the slightest confusion and the crew and passengers waited for and acted on orders from the commanding officer with a coolness which was truly inspiring.
"Inspections were made below decks and it was found that the ship was rapidly filling with water, both forward and aft, and that there was little likelihood that she would remain afloat. The boats were lowered and the life rafts were placed in the water and about 15 minutes after the ship was struck all hands except the guns' crews were ordered to abandon the ship.
"It had been previously planned that in order to avoid the losses which have occurred in such instances by filling the boats at the davits before lowering them, that only one officer and five men would get into the boats before lowering and that everyone else would get into the water and get on the life rafts and then be picked up by the boats, this being entirely feasible, as everyone was provided with an efficient life-saving jacket. One exception was made to this plan, however, in that one boat was filled with the sick before being lowered and it was in this boat that the paralyzed soldiers were saved without difficulty.
GUNS' CREWS HELD AT THEIR STATIONS
"The guns' crews were held at their stations hoping for an opportunity to fire on the submarine should it appear before the ship sank, and orders were given to the guns' crews to begin firing, hoping that this might prevent further attack.
All The ship's company except the guns' crews and necessary officers were at that time in the boats and on the rafts near the ship, and when the guns' crews began firing the people in the boats set up a cheer to show that they were not downhearted.
The guns' crews only left their guns when ordered by the commanding officer just before the ship sank. The guns in the bow kept up firing until after the water was entirely over the main deck of the after half of the ship.
"The state of discipline which existed and the coolness of the men is well illustrated by what occurred when the boats were being lowered and were about half way from their davits to the water. At this particular time, there appeared some possibility of the ship not sinking immediately, and the commanding officer gave the order to stop lowering the boats.
This order could not be understood, however, owing to the noise caused by escaping steam from the safety valves of the boilers which had been lifted to prevent explosion, but by motion of the hand from the commanding officer the crews stopped lowering the boats and held them in mid air fog a few minutes until at a further motion of the hand the boats were dropped into the water.
"Immediately after the ship sank the boats pulled among the rafts and were loaded with men to their full capacity and the work of collecting the rafts and tying them together to prevent drifting apart and being lost was-begun.
LIEUTENANT ISAACS TAKEN PRISONER
"While this work was under way and about half an hour after the ship sank, a large German submarine emerged and came among the boats and rafts, searching for the commanding officer and some of the senior officers whom they desired to take prisoners.
The submarine commander was able to identify only one officer, Lieutenant E. V. M. Isaacs, whom he took on board and carried away. The submarine remained in the vicinity of the boats for about two hours and returned again in the afternoon, hoping apparently for an opportunity of attacking some of the other ships which had been in company with the President Lincoln, but which had, in accordance with standard instructions, steamed as rapidly as possible from the scene of attack.
"By dark the boats and rafts had been collected and secured together, there being about soo men in the boats and about 200 on the rafts. Lighted lanterns were hoisted in the boats and flare-up lights and Coston signal lights were burned every few minutes, the necessary detail of men being made to carry out this work during the night.
"The boats had been provided with water and food, but none was used during
To be continued...