AN HEROIC JOURNEY
A LONDON day of soft and smoky skies, darkened every now and then by capricious and intrusive little showers, was drawing to a close in a twilight of gold and gray. Our table stood in a bay of plate-glass windows overlooking the Embankment close by Cleopatra’s Needle. We watched the little doubledecked tram-cars gliding by, the opposing, interthreading streams of pedestrians, and a fleet of coal barges coming up the river, solemn as a cloud.
Behind us lay, splendid and somewhat theatric, the mottled marble, stiff white napery, and bright silver of a fashionable dining-hall. Only a few guests were at hand. At our little table sat the captain of a submarine who was then in London for a few days on richly merited leave, a distinguished young officer of the ‘mother ship’ accompanying our under-water craft, and myself, ft is impossible to be long with submarine folk without realizing that they are a people apart, differing from the rest of the naval personnel even as their vessels differ. A man must have something individual to his character to volunteer for the service, and every officer is a volunteer. An extraordinary power of quick decision, a certain keen, resolute look, a certain carriage; submarine folk are such men as all of us like to have by our side in any great trial or crisis of our life.
Guests began to come by twos and threes — pretty girls in shimmering dresses, young army officers with wound-stripes and clumsy limps. A faint murmur of conversation rose, faint and continuous as the murmur of a distant stream.
Because I requested him, the captain told me of the crossing of the submarines. It was the epic of an heroic journey.
‘After each boat had been examined in detail, we began to fill them with supplies for the voyage. The crew spent days manœuvring cases of condensed milk, cans of butter, meat, and chocolate down the hatchways — food which the boat swallowed up as if she had been a kind of steel stomach. Until we had it all neatly and tightly stowed away, the Z looked like a corner grocery store. Then, early one December morning, we pulled out of the harbor. It was n’t very cold, merely raw and damp, and it was misty dark. I remember looking, at the winter stars riding high just over the meridian. The port behind us was still and dead, but a handful of navy-folk had come to one of the wharves to see us off. Yes, there was something of a stir — you know, the kind of stir that’s made when boats go to sea: shouted orders, the plash of dropped cables, vagrant noises. It did n’t take a great time to get under way; we were ready, waiting for the word to go. The flotilla — mother-ship, tugs and all — was out to sea long before the dawn. You would have liked the picture: the immense stretch of the grayish, winter-stricken sea, the little covey of submarines running awash, the gray mother-ship going ahead, as casually as an excursion steamer, into the featureless dawn.
‘ The weather was wonderful for two days, a touch of Indian summer on December’s ocean; then, on the night of the third day, we ran into a blow, the worst I ever saw in my life. A storm — oh, boy!’
He paused for an instant. One could see memories living in the fine, resolute eyes. The broken noises of the restaurant, which had seemingly died away while he spoke, crept back again to one’s ears. A waiter dropped a clanging fork —
‘A storm. Never remember anything like it. A perfect terror. Everybody realized that any attempt to keep together would be hopeless. And night was coming on. One by one the submarines disappeared into that, fury of wind and driving winter, the mothership, because she was the largest vessel in the flotilla, being the last we saw. We snatched her last signal out of the teeth of the gale, and then she was gone, swallowed up in the storm. So we were alone.
‘We got through the night somehow or other. The next, morning the ocean was a dirty brown-gray, and knots and wisps of cloud were tearing by close over the water. Every once in a while a great hollow-bellied wave would come rolling out of the hullabaloo and break thundering over us. On all the boats the lookout on the bridge had to be lashed in place, and every once in a while a couple of tons of water would come tumbling past him. Nobody at the job stayed dry for more than three minutes; a bathing-suit would have been more to the point than oilers.
‘ Shaken, you ask? No, not very bad: a few assorted bruises and a wrenched thumb; though poor Jonesy on the Z3 had a wave knock him up against the rail and smash in a couple of ribs. But no being sick for him; he kept to his feet and carried on in spite of the pain, in spite of being in a boat which registered a roll of seventy degrees. I used to watch the old hooker rolling under me. You’ve never been on a submarine when she’s rolling, — talk about rolling — oh, boy! We all say seventy degrees, because that’s as far as our instruments register. There were times when I almost thought she was on her way to make a complete revolution. You can imagine what it was like inside. To begin with, the oily air was none too sweet, because every time we opened a hatch we shipped enough water to make the old hooker look like a start at a swimming tank; and then she was lurching so continuously and violently that to move six feet was an expedition. The men were wonderful — wonderful! Each man at his allotted task, and — what’s that English word? — carrying on. Our little cook could n’t do a thing with the stove, might as well have tried to cook on a miniature earthquake; but he saw that all of us had something to eat — doing his bit, game as could be.’
He paused again. The Embankment was fading away in the dark. A waiter appeared, and drew down the thick, light-proof curtains.
‘Yes, the men were wonderful — wonderful. And there was n’t very much sickness. Let’s see, how far had I got? — Since it was impossible to make any headway, we lay to for forty-eight hours. The deck began to go the second morning, some of the plates being ripped right off. And blow — well, as I told you in the beginning, I never saw anything like it. The disk of the sea was just one great ragged mass of foam being hurled through space by a wind screaming past with the voice and force of a million express trains.
‘Perhaps you are wondering why we did n’t submerge. We simply could n’t use up our electricity. It takes oil and running on the surface to create the electric power, and we had a long, long journey ahead. Then ice began to form on the superstructure, and we had to get out a crew to chop it off. It was something of a job; there was n’t much to hang on to, and the waves were still breaking over us. But we freed her of the danger, and she went on —
‘We used to wonder where the other boys were, in the midst of all the racket. One ship was drifting toward the New England coast, her compass smashed to flinders; others had run for Bermuda, others were still at sea.
‘Then we had three days of good easterly wind. By jingo, but the good weather was great! Were we glad to have it? — oh, boy! We had just got things shipshape again when we had another blow, but this second one was by no means as bad as the first. And after that we had another spell of decent weather. The crew used to start the phonograph and keep it going all day.
‘The weather was so good that I decided to keep right on to the harbor which was to be our base over here. I had enough oil, plenty of water; the only possible danger was a shortage of provisions. So I put us all on a ration, arranging to have the last grand meal on Christmas day. Can you imagine Christmas on a little stormbumped submarine some hundred miles off the coast? A day or two more and we ran calmly into — shall we say, “deleted” harbor?
‘Hungry, dirty; oh, so dirty! We had n’t had any sort of bath or wash for about three weeks; we all were green-looking from having been cooped up so long, and our unshaven grease-streaked faces would have upset a dinosaur. The authorities were wonderfully kind, and looked after us and our men in the very best style. I thought we could never stop eating, and a real sleep — oh, boy!’
‘ Did you fly the flag as you came in ? ’ I asked.
‘You bet we did!’ answered the captain, his keen, handsome face lighting at the memory. ‘You see,’ he continued in a practical spirit, ‘they would probably have pumped us full of holes if we had n’t.’
And that is the way the American submarines crossed the Atlantic to do their share for the Great Cause.
INTO THE DARK
I got to the port of the submarines just as an uncertain and rainy afternoon had finally decided to turn into a wild and disagreeable night. Short, drenching showers of rain fell, one after the other, like the strokes of a lash; a wind came up out of the sea, and one could hear the thunder of surf on the headlands. The mother-ship lay moored in a wild, desolate, and indescribably romantic bay; she floated in a sheltered pool, a very oasis of modernity, a marvelous creature of another world and another time. There was just light enough for me to see that her lines were those of a giant yacht. Then a curtain of rain beat hissing down on the sea, and the ship and the vague darkening landscape disappeared — disappeared as if they had melted away in the shower. Presently the bulk of the vessel appeared again. At once we drew alongside, and from that moment on, I was the guest of the vessel, recipient of a hospitality and courtesy for which I here make grateful acknowledgment to my friends and hosts.
The mother-ship of the submarines was a combination of flagship, supplystation, repair-shop, and hotel. The officers of the submarines had rooms aboard her, which they occupied when off patrol, and the crews off duty slung their hammocks ’tween decks. The boat was pretty well crowded, having more submarines to look after than she had been built to care for; but thanks to the skill of her officers, everything was going as smoothly as could be. The vessel had, so to speak, a submarine atmosphere. Everybody aboard lived, worked, and would have died for the submarine. They believed in the submarine, believed in it with an enthusiasm which rested on pillars of practical fact.
The chief of staff was the youngest captain in our navy; a man of hard energy and keen insight; one to whom our submarine service owes a very genuine debt. His officers were specialists: the surgeon of the vessel had been for years engaged in studying the hygiene of submarines, and was constantly working to free the atmosphere of the vessels from deleterious gases and to improve the living conditions of the crews. I remember listening one night to a history of the submarine, told by one of the officers of the staff; and for the first time in my life I came to appreciate at its full value the heroism of the men who risked their lives in the first cranky, clumsy, uncertain little vessels, and the imagination and the faith of the men who believed in the type. Ten years ago, a descent in a sub was an adventure to be prefaced by tears and making of wills; to-day submarines are chasing submarines hundreds of miles at sea, are crossing the ocean, and have grown from a tube of steel not much larger than a lifeboat, to underwater cruisers which carry six-inch guns.
Said an officer to me, ‘The future of the submarine? Why, sir, the submarine is the only war vessel that’s going to have a future!’
On the night of my arrival, once dinner was over, I went on deck and looked down through the rain at the submarines moored alongside. They lay close by, one beside the other, in a pool of radiance cast by a number of electric lights hanging over each open hatchway. Beyond this pool lay the rain and the dark; within it, their sides awash in the clear green water of the bay, their gray bridges and ruststained superstructures shining in the rain, lay the strange, bulging, crocodilian shapes of steel. There was something unearthly, something not of this world or time, in the picture; I might have been looking at invaders of the sleeping earth. The wind swept past in great booming salvoes; rain fell in sloping, liquid rods through the brilliancy of electric lamps burning with a steadiness that had something in it strange, incomprehensible, and out of place in the motion of the storm.
And then a hand appeared on the topmost rung of the nearer ladder, and a bulky sailor, a very human sailor in very human dungarees, poked his head out of the aperture, surveyed the inhospitable night, and disappeared.
‘He’s on Branch’s boat. They’re going out to-night,’ said the officer who was guiding me about.
‘To-night? How on earth will he ever find his way to the open sea?’
‘Knows the bay like a book. However, if the weather gets any worse, I doubt if the captain will let him go. Branch will be wild if they don’t let him out. Somebody has just reported wreckage off the coast, so there must be a Hun round.’
‘But are n’t our subs sometimes mistaken for Germans?’
‘Oh, yes,’was the calm answer.
I thought of that ominous phrase I had noted in the British records, — ‘failed to report,’—and I remembered the stolid British captain who had said to me, speaking of submarines, ‘Sometimes nobody knows just what happened. Out there in the deep water, whatever happens, happens in a hurry.’
My guide and I went below to the officers’ corridor. Now and then, through the quiet, a mandolin or guitar could be heard far off twanging some sentimental island ditty; and beneath these sweeter sounds lay a monotonous mechanical humming.
‘What’s that sound?’ I asked.
‘That’s the Filipino mess-boys having a little festino in their quarters. The humming? Oh, that’s the mothership’s dynamos charging the batteries of Branch’s boat. Saves running on the surface.’
My guide knocked at a door. Within his tidy little room, the captain who was to go out on patrol was packing the personal belongings he needed on the trip.
‘Hello!’ he cried cheerily when he saw us; ‘come on in. I’m only doing a little packing up. What’s it like outside?’
‘Raining same as ever, but I don’t think it’s blowing up any harder.’
‘Hooray!’ cried the young captain with heartfelt sincerity; ‘then I’ll get out to-night. You know the captain told me that if it got any worse, he’d hold me till to-morrow morning. I told him I’d rather go out to-night. Perfect cinch once you get to the mouth of the bay; all you have to do is submerge and take it easy. What do you think of the news? Smithie thinks he saw a Hun yesterday. Got anything good to read? Somebody’s pinched that magazine I was reading. Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen — that ought to be enough handkerchiefs. Hello, there goes the juice!’
The humming of the dynamo was dying away slowly, fading with an effect of lengthening distance. The guitar orchestra, as if to celebrate its deliverance, burst into a triumphant rendering of Sousa’s ‘ Stars and Stripes.’
My guide and I waited till after midnight to watch the going of Branch’s Z5. Branch and his second, stuffed into black oilskins down whose gleaming surface ran beaded drops of rain, stood on the bridge; a number of sailors were busy doing various things along the deck. The electric lights shone in all their calm unearthly brilliance. Then slowly, very slowly, the Z5 began to gather headway, the clear water seemed to flow past her green sides, and she rode out of the pool of light into the darkness waiting close at hand.
‘Good-bye! Good luck!’ we cried.
A vagrant shower came roaring down into the shining pool.
‘Good-bye!’ cried voices through the night.
Three minutes later all trace of the Z5 had disappeared in the dark.
FRIEND OR FOE?
Captain Bill of the Z3 was out on patrol. His vessel was running submerged. The air within — they had but recently dived — was new and sweet; and that raw cold which eats into submerged submarines had not begun to take the joy out of life. It was the third day out; the time, five o’clock in the afternoon. The outer world, however, did not penetrate into the submarine. Night or day, on the surface or submerged, only one time, a kind of motionless electric high noon, existed within those concave walls of gleaming cream-white enamel.
Those of the crew not on watch were taking it easy. Like unto their officers, submarine sailors are an unusual lot. They are real sailors, or machinist sailors — boys for whose quality the navy has a flattering, picturesque, and quite unprintable adjective. A submarine man, mind you, works harder than perhaps any other man of his grade in the navy, because the vessel in which he lives is nothing but a tremendously intricate machine.
In one of the compartments the phonograph, the eternal, ubiquitous phonograph of the navy, was bawling its raucous rags and mechano-nasal songs, and in the pauses between records, one could just hear the low hum of the distant dynamos. A little group in blue dungarees held a conversation in a corner; a petty officer, blue cap tilted back on his head, was at work on a letter; the cook, whose genial art was customarily under an interdict while the vessel was running submerged, was reading an ancient paper from his own home town.
Captain Bill sat in a retired nook, if a submarine can possibly be said to have a retired nook, with a chart spread open on his knees. The night before, he had picked up a wireless message saying that a German had been seen at sundown in a certain spot on the edge of his patrol. So Captain Bill had planned to run submerged to the spot in question, and then pop up suddenly in the hope of potting the Hun. Some fifteen minutes before sundown, therefore, the Z3 arrived at the place where the Fritz had been observed,
‘I wish I knew just where the bird was,’ said an intent voice; ‘I’d drop a can right on his neck.’
These sentiments were not those of anybody aboard the Z3. An American destroyer had also come to the spot looking for the German, and the gentle thought recorded above was that of her captain. It was just sundown; a level train of splendor burned on the ruffled waters to the west; a light, cheerful breeze was blowing. The destroyer, ready for anything, was hurrying along at a smart clip.
‘This is the place all right, all right,’ said the navigator of the destroyer. ‘Come to think of it, that chap’s been reported from here twice.’
Keen eyes swept the shining uneasy plain.
Meanwhile, some seventy feet below, the Z3 manœuvred, killing time. The phonograph had been hushed, and every man was ready at his post. The prospect of a go with the enemy had brought with it a keen thrill of anticipation. Now, a submarine crew is a welltrained machine. There are no shouted orders. If a submarine captain wants to send his boat under quickly, he simply touches the button of a Klaxon; the horn gives a demoniac yell throughout the ship, and each man does what he ought to do at once. Such a performance is called a ‘crash dive.’
‘I’d like to see him come up so near that we could ram him,’ said the captain, gazing almost directly into the sun. ‘Find out what she’s making.’
The engineer lieutenant stooped to a voice-tube that almost swallowed up his face, and yelled a question to the engine-room. An answer came, quite unheard by the others.
‘Twenty-four, sir,’ said the engineer lieutenant.
‘Get her up to twenty-six.’
The engineer cried again through the voice-tube. The wake of the vessel roared like a mill-race, the white foam tumbling rosily in the setting sun.
Seventy feet below, Captain Bill was arranging the last little details with the second in command.
‘In about five minutes we’ll come up and take a look-see [stick up the periscope], and if we see the bird, and we’re in a good position to send him a fish [torpedo], we’ll let him have one. If there is something there, and we’re not in a good position, we’ll manœuvre till we get into one, and then let him have it. If there is n’t anything to be seen, we’ll go under again and take another look-see in half an hour. Reilly has his instructions.’ (Reilly was chief of the torpedo-room.)
‘Something round here must have got it in the neck recently,’ said the destroyer captain, breaking a silence which had hung over the bridge. ‘Did n’t you think that wreckage a couple of miles back looked pretty fresh? Wonder if the boy we’re after had anything to do with it. Keep an eye on that sun-streak.’
An order was given in the Z3. It was followed instantly by a kind of commotion — sailors opened valves, compressed air ran down pipes, the ratchets of the wheel clattered noisily. On the moon-faced depth-gauge, with its shining brazen rim, the recording arrow fled swiftly, counter clockwise, from seventy to twenty, to fifteen feet. Captain Bill stood crouching at the periscope, and when it broke the surface, a greenish light poured down it and focused in his eyes. He gazed keenly for a few seconds, and then reached for the horizontal wheel which turns the periscope round the horizon. He turned — gazed, jumped back, and pushed the button for a crash dive.
‘ She was almost on top of me,’ he explained afterwards, ‘coming like hell! I had to choose between being rammed or depth-bombed.’
There was another swift commotion, another opening and closing of valves, and the arrow on the depth-gauge leaped forward. Captain Bill was sending her down as far as he could, as fast as he dared. Fifty feet, seventy feet — ninety feet. Hoping to throw the destroyer off, the Z3 doubled on her track. A hundred feet.
Crash! Depth-charge number one.
According to Captain Bill, who is good at similes, it was as if a giant, wading along through the sea, had given the boat a vast and violent kick, and then, leaning down, had shaken her as a terrier shakes a rat. The Z3 rocked, lay on her side, and fell through the water. A number of lights went out. Men picked themselves out of corners, one with the blood streaming down his face from a bad gash over his eye. Many of them told later of ‘seeing stars’ when the vibration of the depthcharge traveled through the hull and their own bodies; some averred that ‘white light’ seemed to shoot out of the Z3’s walls. Each man stood at his post waiting for the next charge.
Crash! A second depth-charge. To everyone’s relief, it was less violent than the first. A few more lights went out. Meanwhile the Z3 continued to sink and was rapidly nearing the dangerpoint. Having escaped the first two depth-charges, Captain Bill hastened to bring the boat up to a higher level. Then, to make things cheerful, it was discovered that the Z3 showed absolutely no inclination to obey her controls.
‘At first,’ said Captain Bill, ‘I thought that the first depth-bomb must have jammed all the external machinery; then I decided that our measures to rise had not yet overcome the impetus of our forced descent. Meanwhile the old hooker was heading for the bottom of the Irish Sea, though I’d blown out every bit of water in her tanks. Had to — fifty feet more, and she would have crushed in like an eggshell under the wheel of a touring-car. But she kept on going down. The distance of the third, fourth, and fifth depth-bombs, however, put cheer in our hearts. Then, presently, she began to rise; the old girl came up like an elevator in a New York business block. I knew that the minute I came to the surface those destroyer brutes would try to fill me full of holes, so I had a man with a flag ready to jump on deck the minute we emerged. He was pretty damn spry about it, too. I took another look through the periscope, and saw that the destroyer lay about two miles away, and as I looked she came for me again. Meanwhile, my signal-man was hauling himself out of the hatchway as if his legs were in boiling water.’
‘We’ve got her!’ cried somebody aboard the destroyer, in a deep American voice full of the exultation of battle. The lean rifles swung, lowered. ‘Point one, lower.’ They were about to hear ‘Fire!’ when the Stars and Stripes and sundry other signals burst from the deck of the misused Z3.
‘Well, what do you think of that!’ said the gunner. ‘If it ain’t one of our own gang. Say, we must have given it to ’em hard.’
‘ We’ll go over and see who it is,’ said the captain of the destroyer. ‘The signals are O.K., but it may be a dodge of the Huns. Ask ’em who they are.’
In obedience to the order, a sailor on the destroyer’s bridge wigwagged the message.
‘Z3,’ answered one of the dungareeclad figures on the submarine’s deck.
Captain Bill came up himself, as the destroyer drew alongside, to see his would-be assassin. There was no resentment in his heart. The adventure was only part of the day’s work. The destroyer neared; her bow overlooked them. The two captains looked at each other. The dialogue was laconic.
‘Hello, Bill,’ said the destroyer captain. ‘All right?’
‘Sure,’ answered Captain Bill, to one who had been his friend and classmate.
‘Ta-ta, then,’ said he of the destroyer; and the lean vessel swept away in the twilight.
Captain Bill decided to stay on the surface for a while. Then he went below to look over things. The cook, standing over some unlovely slop which marked the end of a half a dozen eggs broken by the concussion, was giving his opinion on destroyers. The cook was a child of Brooklyn, and could talk. The opinion was not a nice opinion.
‘Give it to ’em, cooko,’ said one of the crew, patting the orator affectionately on the shoulder. ‘We’re with you.’
And Captain Bill laughed to himself.
THE RETURN OF THE CAPTAINS
The breakfast-hour was drawing to its end, and the very last straggler sat alone at the ward-room table. Presently an officer of the mother-ship, passing through, called to the lingering group of submarine officers.
‘The X4 is coming up the bay, and the X12 has been reported from signal station.’
The news was received with a little hum of friendly interest. ‘Wonder what Ned will have to say for himself this time.’ ‘Must have struck pretty good weather.’ ‘ Bet you John has been looking for another chance at that Hun of his.’
The talk drifted away into other channels. A little time passed. Then suddenly a door opened, and, one after the other, entered the three officers of the first home-coming submarine. They were clad in various ancient uniforms which might have been worn by an apprentice lad in a garage: old gray flannel shirts, and stout grease-stained shoes; several days had passed since their faces had felt a razor, and all were a little pale from their cruise. But the liveliest of keen eyes burned in each resolute young face, eyes smiling and glad.
A friendly hullabaloo broke forth. Chairs scraped, one fell with a crash.
‘For the love of Pete, Joe, shave off those whiskers of yours; they make you look like Trotsky.’
‘See any Germans?’
‘What’s the news? ’
‘Hi, Manuelo,’ — this to a Filipino mess-boy who stood looking on with impassive curiosity, — ‘ serve three more breakfasts.’
‘Anything go for you?’
‘Well, if here isn’t our old Bump!’
The crowd gathered round Captain Ned, who had established contact (this is a military term quite out of place in a work on the navy) with the eagerly sought, horribly elusive German.
‘Go on, Ned, give us an earful. What time did you say it was?’
‘About 5 A.M.,’ answered the captain. He stood leaning against a door, and the fine head, the pallor, the touch of fatigue, all made a very striking and appealing picture. ‘Say about eight minutes after five. I’d just come up to take a look-see, and saw him just about two miles away, on the surface, and moving right; along. So I went under to get into a good position, came up again, and let him have one. Well, he saw it just as it was almost on him, swung her round, and dived like a ton of load.’
The audience listened in silent sympathy. One could see the disappointment on the captain’s face.
‘Where was he?’
‘That’s the jinx that got after the convoy sure as you live.’
The speaker had had his own adventures with the Germans. A month or so before, he had shoved up his periscope and spotted a Fritz on the surface in full noonday. The watchful Fritz, however, had been lucky enough to see the enemy almost at once, and had dived. The American followed suit. The eyeless submarine manœuvred about, some eighty feet under, the German evidently ‘ making his getaway,’ the American hoping to be lucky enough to pick up Fritz’s trail, and get a shot at him when he rose again to the top. And while the two blind ships manœuvred there in the dark of the abyss, the keel of the fleeing German had actually, by a curious chance, scraped along the top of the American vessel and carried away the wireless aerials!
All were silent for a few seconds, thinking over the affair. It was not difficult to read the thought in every mind, the thought of getting at the Germans. The characteristic aggressiveness of the American mind, heritage of a people compelled to subdue a vast, wild continent, is a wonderful military attribute. The idea of our navy is, ‘ Get after ’em, keep after ’em, stay after ’em, don’t give ’em an instant of security or rest.’ And none have this fighting spirit deeper in their hearts than our gallant boys of the submarine patrol.
‘That’s all,’ said Captain Ned. ‘I’m going to have a wash-up.’ He lifted a grease-stained hand to his cheek, rubbed his unshaven beard, and grinned. ‘Any letters?’
‘Whole bag of stuff. Smithie put it on your desk.’
Captain Ned wandered off. Presently, the door opened again, and three more veterans of the patrol cruised in, also in ancient uniforms. There were more cheers; more friendly cries. It was unanimously decided that the ‘Trotsky’ of the first lot had better take a back seat, since the second in command of the newcomers was ‘a perfect ringer for Rasputin.’
‘Nothing much. There’s a bit of wreckage just off shore. Saw a British patrol boat early Tuesday morning. I was on the surface, lying between her and the sunrise; she was hidden by a low-lying swirl of fog; she saw us first. When we saw her, I made signals, and over she came. Guess what the old bird wanted — wanted to know if I’d seen a torpedo he’d fired at me! An old scout with white whiskers; one of those retired captains, I suppose, who has gone back on the job. He admitted he had received the Admiralty notes about us, but thought we acted suspicious. Did you ever hear of such nerve!’
When the war was young, I served on land with messieurs les poilus. I
have seen the contests of aviators, also trench-raids and the fighting for Verdun. Since then I have seen the war at sea. To my mind, if there is one service of this war which more than any other requires those qualities of endurance, skill, and courage whose blend the fighting men call — Elizabethanly, but oh, so truly—‘guts,' it is the submarine patrol.