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The Dangers of
A SEA SLUG,
British Service Name For Crews
of Submarine Chasers.
Cop>rU!?t. 1SI17. by tli* Btll Syn
PROLOG I E.
The author of thi* terie$ of four arti
cles i* u young Atneriran , who It hm spent
tnott of hi* lime since the tear ulurti d
with the British patrol fleet.
He hat at umulated a remarkable
collection of aim dolt * incident to thin
cTcitituj brant h iif the service, ami
many of tin tr were pi r* on a I adven
ture h in whiih he took part and which
make one of the slirriny narrative* to
come out of the war. He recently rc
turned to the I nih il Hlutis to u Mist
tho Amcrit'in navy in organizing the
tamo branch of the m rviee.
Of count c tome of hi* experience*,
of military value to the enemy, < annot
be related. At the request of the *ervice
publication of hi* name i* within Id.
SO fur ns the navy is concerned, the
destroyers nre hearing the brunt
of (big war.
Their speed, their shallow draft, their
ability to approa< li like a thief in the
night, smash their enemy and get away
ukqIu miike them capable of Is'lm;
used where a heavier, more powerful
vessel would l?e valueless.
Betide*, the 1? ?s ^ of a destroyer Is 11s
nothing column red to the loss of a bat
tleship or a cruiser.
The biv-t opportunity 1 had to observe
the di itro.vcrs was at Dover. 1 ate
dinner one iii^lit In the ward room of
a destroyer of the tribal class. 1 will
not mention the names of the otBccrs
whose guet>t I was, be ad.se that would
denote the name of the < raft, and the
admiralty would not want it known in
view of what happened.
"The worst danger to us," sa!d one
of these Hue fellows, "Is the mines.
The ile 4royers are used to a certain
extent to sear' h out mine tlclds, and
it Is tl' klisli |,n lue s."
"leg, and overhauling and searching
'neutral' merchant ships is not what
jou'd call a safety first occupation,"
said another olllcer.
"I'd rather tackle a Hun any day
than a 'neutral,' " : aid the first speak
er. "There has been nothing hut 'neu
tral' ships in Dover since the war he
Kan, and yet we frequently find t.'er
niau mines laid inside the harbor near
"Those nre probably laid by subma
rines," said s> me one, "because every
neutral ship that comes in and even
all approaching the harbor are careful
ly examined and thoroughly searched."
"Yes. liml a lot of good It does. You
remember Commander ? lie bad
just searched a neutral merchantman
nnd was trailing along astern of her.
Thought he'd keep her In sight a few
hours. Just to set his mind easy, lie
was steaming In her very wake, per
haps half a inlle astern, when? bong!?
The Destroyer Sank, Nose Down.
a mine blew in his starboard bow, and
only the men who were on deck at the
time got away before the destroyer
sank nose down."
They had invited me to make a run
with them. I hnd an admiralty pass,
and I could have d< ne so? would have
done it the next morning, in fact? ex
cept that unexpectedly 1 was called
upon to make a test trip with some
modified U boat chasers, and I had to
call it off. Later I wanted to decorate
that TJ boat chafer which kept me
home with the Victoria cross. It saved
I finished my work the next day by
about 4 o'clock in the afternoon. As I
was walking toward the destroyer
basin 1 met a naval constructor, who
"One of the de troyers bumped a
mine this morning. Want to go down
and see what It does to them?"
The Narrow Escape.
I was Interested to see the effect of
the explosion and told him so. All de
stroyers of a certain class look prac
tically alike, and I didn't notice what
boat it was as 1 went on board the
battered hulk that was lying canted
away over to one side with her stern
? 11 crumpled nnd sagging as though her
back had beeu broken. It looked al
most If It were going to drop off.
"They hit it Just abre;i<t of the ward
room on the starl>oard side," said my
guide. "At least that's where the force
of the explosion is?t'Ui? to have caught
We stooped low In order to pet
through the twisted, fallen steel ar- h
of t ne doorway. 1 have never m-cu m:
horrible a sight as the ward room. Out
of the battered, splattered men# there
?tared a face th :t told me for the first
time It wa.< t! ? ?<?! < :i which I had
eaten dinner Hi" ni^lit l>efore.
1'or t'.ie most i urt the men with
whom 1 had chatted and been friendly
were not ic '?'nlz:il)le. The room had
not iwen cleaned lip as yet. and, besides
the horror < f it, it made me physically
hick. It Is no wonder that the British
nuvy damns t.'ie "neutral."
There is no ?pie t i< .:i nt all but that
Mlilptt under neutral Hat s now mines.
On thin particular occasion ? ? was n
Thursday live of the tlx mineH which
were placed alin< t e\ ery Wednt day
had Ik'cii found and picked up. That
sixth mine wan time and auala the
cause of a tragedy.
Well, every single officer, with the
exception of the navigating of!i< cr. who
I Went Spinning Off the Bridge Like
bad been on t lie bridge, was In the
ward room when the explosion nunc,
and not 0110 of them survived. It
would be useless to describe the ap
pearance of that room. The living,
breathing human beings who had tilled
It the nb;ht before with laughter and
courage and hope were one shapeless
mass part of the twisted, broken steel.
And they never had a chance to
fight. I'eath came to them without
warning and without giving them the
opport unity so much desired to strike
u blow for r.ritain in the going, lint
that is part of war as it Is fought to
I went up to the hospital to see the
navigating olllcer, and, swathed In
bandages and suffering from terrible
burns, he told me all he knew of what
"We w ere running along at fair
speed," he said, "with most of the crew
on deck and watching out sharp, for 1
knew that sixth mine hadn't been pick
ed up. and It's pretty safe to count on
six being lnld here every Wednesday.
The rest of the otlleers were below,
poor chaps! Not one of them left, the.v
Thrown Into the Sea.
"I was swinging her round, which 1
guess is what brought her stern quar
ter on ttie mine. I thought a thunder
clap had detonated right under my feet.
1 went spinning off the bridge like a
catapult. 1 don't pretend even to know
whether I was conscious as I hurtled
through the air, but the shock of the
cold water brought me to. I was some
yards from the destroyer and started
to swim toward her. 1 could see some
of t lie men lying on the deck, others
crawling up the eompanlonways and
some crawling aWut on the deck. A
very few were standing on their feet
and doing the best they could to help
"There wasn't an ofllcer In sl^ht, and
I knew then they must all have been
killed or at least knocked unconscious.
"M.v leg hurt me so thai I could
scarcely move it, but 1 kept on strag
gling. The water tasted oily, and I
could make out that oil was escaping
from the destroyer and spreading all
over the surface of the sea, which was
as calm as If It were a mirror.
"Suddenly there was a flash. A lit
tle tongue of flame darted out of the
entrails of the wounded destroyer and
ran a short way over the surface of the
oily patch, then died. Presently came
another tongue. Then half a dozen
began to lick. A dozen! Twenty!
Great God, there were a thousand,
and they were licking the surface of
the water as though a thousand hell
cats were lapping a giant bowl of
"They ran toward me, and I may
have screamed. If I didn't It was be
cause 1 was too scared. 1 struck out
away from the destroyer. The tongues
ran toward me faster than I could
swim, then seemed to curl back upon
themselves, but only to dart out once
more, and each time they darted near
er to me.
"If only I could pet lieyond that oil
The sun glimmered in rainbow colors
on Its surface, but the only thing It
meant to me was I was still in it.
The smell of it In my nostrils nnd the
taste of it in ray mouth so terrified my
Imagination that I could feel the pierc
ing pain of bums already.
"I envied the men who had been
smashed to Jelly quickly in the ward
"At last the flames were upon me.
I felt them on my neck. 1 dove and
drove myself forward under the wa
ter, but when I came up my hair was
singed nnd I could smell it burning.
After that I do not remember what
happened. I am here; that In all I
I found out what Lad happened after
iny friend 1<> -t consciousness. He
knows by now und has done whatever
1m in his i >wer to do for the man who
Ler-pc'l Into Burning Oil.
One of the niatloes (sailors) who had
been on deck saw the officer Just as the
llaines were reaching him. The very
sea around the destroyer seemed on
fire. It meant aliu< st certain death to
leap in it, l?ut the math e leaped.
lie ttwuia under water as far as he
could. When 1j ?? came up the flame*
licked a l*> und him. lie (Hied his lunss
with Milling, burning hot air and dove
again. Hit l'.v bit he reached the ofii
cer, who had apparently lost all con
sciousness, although be still was strug
gling feebly J list enough to keep him
afloat, but rapidly weakening.
When once ho ha<J his arm under the
officer's shoulder the rescuer could no
longer dive and lie hnd to swim slow
ly, supporting bis heavy burden with
streaks of flame shooting nil round him
and lapping him. It would have been
easy for him to drop bis burden and
make the best of his own way to safe
ty, Hut he would not do it.
Although the officer could not re
member It, lie m ist have come to once,
for lie ordered the sailor to leave him
and shift for himself, but the brave
fellow would not do it.
Seeing that It would be easier to
swim away from (be destroyer beyond
the fire zone, he did ho Instead of try
In^ to get back to the vessel.
Other < raft bad been alarmed by the
sound of the explosion and had seen
the smoke and flames and were stand
ing up full speed. They picked the two
men up In fie nick of time, for the
matloe lo ? consciousness before they
had hnrlcd him into the small boat
which put off from one of the patrols.
That i the type of men they get In
the navy. This matloe was Just an or
dinary enlisted man. lie would have
been cxpe ted to do his duty even in
the face of almost certain death, but
he was ready and did more than his
duty in saving Ills superior.
And yet a party of British sailors
who landed alter the Jutland battle
were mobbed and several persons were
hurt because the people thought the
British had lost from the llrst reports
Over a Mine Field.
It wasn't long after this experience
of the des rover with the mine that I
went on a run In nn M. L (motor
launch for submarine chasing) from
Hover. The subaltern in command of
the boat was as nervy as the l>est of
them, but he hadn't had much nautical
experience. What he knew about navi
gation and the king's regulations could
have been engraved on the face of a
dime. As we were running back into
the harbor they began signaling us
from shore. The subaltern looked at
the signals through his glasses, looked
In the book, grunted and went bliss
fully ahead. I rather felt at the time
that he didn't know what the signal'
meant just from the sort of self con
scious way in w hich he put liis glasses
down. Of course I did not know the
Those fellows bate to let on they are
stumped. They'll race neck and neck
with death rather than let it be known
they lack any of the qualifications.
A moment later the signal flags were
hauled down and run up again. We
held our course, and the flags were
lowered and raised several times, as if
trying to attract our attention to them
Presently a man began wigwagging
frantically, while the flag signals were
"To pick up the pieccs of you, you
still at the masthead. Then a gun
"What in the ileuce Is all the row?"
inquired our sub Innocently.
Might on we blazed our way. without
changing our course a hair, and before
we were well Into the harbor a whole
swarm of M. L.'s and other craft came
swooping down on us.
"What you got the navy with you
for?" asked our sub through the mega
phone when he was within speaking
distance of the leading craft.
'To pick tip the pieces of you. you
blithering idiot!" saUl the Brass Hat
In command. "Hun alongside here for
TA'e ran alongside, and If orders Is
what our smart young sub got 1 don't
"You've just come over a new mine
field, you young numskull!" roared
tho Brass Hat. "It's only luck? bad
Vuck for us. I'm thinkiu'? that saved
yo;. ?>!.? I ,rr than * [
Lilt' V?mJ K'> a <? I'.-* J'"U *ee ?
iIjk i nil..':" ^^1
"Yes. *ir," Haiti the su!?.
"Well, you go ashore, and don't you
get w 1 1 in ::.t. y. I of the water f
again tit! \ .j i.now ? ??>?>.. mid <au S
rem : i,. I u i'l u:->id.- J
. I I ' . iiiu* Li
in ; ? I . y. fve K??t a few lueu on
boar 1 ?!'!i . : t t . d I.: ?? to keep." '
An I the 15 r^ i Hut chng -hugged <
tf It 1 1 1 h tin re was indlgua ^
Hon in i' i' L ?; of the very boat itself.
"\Vbat\, : ? i ? I il! row about sig- , ;
nals'r" i d o r su > in a grieved tone >
of voice. "We're here all ri^ht. uren't <
we? I say!"
lie : .d ? ? i a- <!? ?.:? m *
he will ? t>in?? before he a tually goes
over, init that wan all lie had to say
about It. 1 know I wan pale. 1 felt |
It. A i. il my knees hud a tendency to
drum against e . h other.
Alw?y3 Exciting at Dover.
I think the average pi-rson could got j $
.or; ? M
In 1 lover to last almost a lifetime.
There la almost always something do
ing ut ca. ashore or ia the air. You | %
can bear the big guns In Belgium and
France on a still day.
One morning I was talking with
some acquaintances on the parade
Some one shouted. "Aeroplanes!"
Everybody's head went back, and all
eyes I cgan to stare Into the sky. Sure
enough, th'iro were a number of them.
It Is Splendid Flying ? Magnificent.
so high they were little more than
specks. Out of the hangars on the
cliffs our own planes began to be run.
The anti-aircraft guns? Archies they
call them in England? began to bark.
But bark was all they did, for we
could sco the shrapnel burst way short
of the enemy fliers.
The British were quick in getting up,
but tlic planes were so high that they
hail passed over us before our boys,
were el se enough to do them any [J
damage. We had mostly heavy hydro
planes at that time, not speedy enough
to keep up with the swift German war
Presently there was another cry.
Two more machines had been spotted.
They were flying low.
"Must be a couple of our own," says
"No, they're Bodies, all right," re
ports an officer with glasses.
T'ley must be traveling about 100
miles an hour. One swerves out over
the harbor. Something shoots out from
beneath it. There is the roar of an
explosion. A bomb has burst forty
yards or so from a destroyer lying at
Anti-aircraft guns begin sprinkling
shrapnel around the plane which is
out over the harbor. It is almost close
enough now for machine guns. Sev
eral begin to drum. The aeroplane it
self is using a machine gun against
the destroyers. It swoops down.
"Must be hit." says a man at my
Attacks the Destroyers.
It does seem so. for the plane is ca
reening straight for the wireless mast
of another destroyer, just skimming
the water. It is splendid flying? mag
With machine gun spitting the pilot
shoots gracefully upward, just clearing
the wireless mast and spraying lead all
over the deck of the. vessel. Then he
sweeps on over the shore hi the direc
tion his fellows had gone.
"They'll get"? begins the man at
my elbow, but whatever else he was
going to say was lost in a roar that
shook the earth we stood on.
We turn round and gai>e at a jagged
pit which has been blown in the pa
rade ground too close to us to be com- !
fortable. In our interest in the aero
plane tight with the destroyer we had |
forg tUn the one which circled over !
The people of Dover must be accus- j
tonic I t" such r.;ids, for there is 110 ex
citement, no slurrying for protection.
Every one now funis his attention to |
the st ond plane. Straight over the ;
town it flies. There is another roar? !
rather a muffled one. It has reduced !
to dust and splinters several rooms in 1
the hotel, including the suit fle luxe.
One more crash before the Boche be- j
comes a speck in the distance. This 1
time the bomb leaves a hole in the
paved street where before there had !
been a cart and horse.
One by one our planes returned with
out having caught the enemy. One fel
low, the fastest of them all, was out
until 4 o'clock tliet evening, but he
had not beeu able to overtake the
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OVER THE TOP, by Arthur Guy Empey.
ANNE'S HOUSE OF DREAMS, by L. M. Montgomery.
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WE CAN'T HAVE EVERYTHING, by Rupert Hughes.
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