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Submarine and Anti-Submarine

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Submarine and Anti-Submarine
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Author(s): Henry Newbolt
Date Published: 2013/04
Page Count: 224
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-78282-083-3
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-78282-082-6

Submarines and U-boats-killers beneath the waves

Newbolt’s excellent overview of the undersea conflict of the First World War is an essential book for any student of the subject. The author, a recognised authority on naval and maritime history, considers the evolution of the submarine as a weapon of naval warfare before turning his attention to the use of the submariner service during the war. The operations of British submarine bases are described as are the policies of the government of the day regarding the use of submarines in war. Tactical issues concerning the engagement of submarines against warships and vice-versa are also considered. The book describes the activities of British submarines in the Baltic and Mediterranean, and particularly as they were employed in the Dardanelles initiative. An important focus of Newbolt’s book is the destructive influence of the highly effective German U-Boat blockade in the Atlantic Ocean. Whilst submarines were employed by the Royal Navy it would be fair to note that the principal objective of the Allies was to pursue the destruction of enemy submarines. The activities of anti-submarine trawlers, smacks and drifters is discussed as are the more aggressive roles of the destroyers, P-Boats, Q-Boats and the activities of the Auxiliary Patrol. Newbolt concludes with the work of the ultimate submarine killer—the submarine itself, before describing the closing stages of the war with the destruction of enemy bases in Belgium. Recommended.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.

Commander Boyle returned to his base on August 12, with no further difficulty than a brush against a mine and a rough-and-tumble encounter with an electric wire obstruction, portions of which he carried away tangled round his periscope and propellers. His boat had now done over 12,000 miles since leaving England, and had never been out of running order—a magnificent performance, reported by her commander to be primarily due to the excellence of his chief engine-room artificer, James Hollier Hague, who was accordingly promoted to warrant rank, as from the date of the recommendation.<br>
E. 14 was succeeded on August 13 by E. 2, Commander David Stocks, who met Commander Nasmith at 2 p.m. next day, and handed over a fresh supply of ammunition for E. 11. He also, no doubt, told him the story of his voyage up. Off Nagara his boat had fouled an obstruction, and through the conning-tower scuttles he could see that a 3½-inch wire was wound with a half turn round his gun, a smaller wire round the conning-tower itself, and another round the wireless standard aft. It took him ten minutes’ plunging and backing to clear this and regain control; and during those ten minutes, small explosions were heard continuously. These were apparently from bombs thrown by guard boats; but a series of loud explosions, a little later, were probably from shells fired by a destroyer which was following up, and was still overhead an hour afterwards.<br>
The two boats parted again, taking separate beats, and spent a week in sinking steamers, boarding hospital ships, and bombarding railway stations. When they met again on the evening of August 21, Commander Nasmith had a new kind of yarn to tell. His lieutenant, D’Oyly Hughes, had volunteered to make an attack on the Ismid Railway, and a whole day had been spent behind Kalolimno Island in constructing a raft capable of carrying one man and a demolition charge of gun-cotton. Then the raft had been tested by a bathing party, and the details of the plan most carefully laid out.<br>
The object was to destroy the viaduct if possible; but, in any case, to blow up part of the line. The risk involved not only the devoted adventurer himself, but the boat as well, for she could not, so long as he had still a chance of returning, quit the neighbourhood or even conceal herself by submerging. The approach was in itself an operation of the greatest delicacy. Commander Nasmith took his boat slowly towards the shore until her nose just grounded, only three yards from the rocks. The cliffs on each side were high enough to prevent the conning-tower being seen while in this position. At 2.10 a.m. Lieut. D’Oyly-Hughes dropped into the water and swam off, pushing the raft with his bale of gun-cotton, and his clothes and accoutrements, towards a spot some sixty yards on the port bow of the boat. His weapons were an automatic service revolver and a sharpened bayonet. He also had an electric torch and a whistle.<br>
At the point where he landed he found the cliffs unscalable. So he relaunched his raft and swam along to a better place. He reached the top after a stiff climb, approached the railway line by a careful prowl of half an hour, and went along it for five or six hundred yards, hugging his heavy and cumber-some charge. Voices then brought him up short. He peered about and saw three men sitting by the side of the line. After watching them for some time he decided that they were not likely to move, and that he must make a wide detour in order to inspect the viaduct. He laid down his gun-cotton, and crept inland, making good progress except for falling into a small farmyard, where the fowls, but luckily not the household, awoke and protested. At last he got within three hundred yards of the viaduct. It was easy to see, for there was a fire burning at the near end of it; but there was also a stationary engine working, and a number of workmen moving about. Evidently it would be impossible to bring up and lay his charge there.<br>
He crept back therefore to his gun-cotton and looked about for a convenient spot to blow up the line. The best place seemed to be a low brick-work support over a small hollow. It was only 150 yards from the three men sitting by the line; but there was no other spot where so much damage could be done, and Lieut. D’Oyly Hughes was a volunteer, prepared to take risks. He muffled the pistol for firing the fuse as tightly as possible, with a piece of rag, and pulled off. On so still a night it made a very loud noise. The three Turks heard it and he saw them instantly stand up. The next moment they were running down the line, with Lieutenant D’Oyly Hughes going his best in front of them. But a chase of this kind was not what he wanted. His present object was to find a quiet spot on the shore where he could take to the water undisturbed, and he had no time to lose. He turned on his pursuers and fired a couple of shots; the Turks were not hit, but they remembered their own weapons and began firing too, which was just the relief Lieut. Hughes needed.<br>
He had already decided against trying to climb down by the way he had come up; but after a considerable run eastward, he struck the shore more conveniently about three-quarters of a mile from the small bay in which E. 11 was lying. As he plunged into the water, he had the joy of hearing the sound of a heavy explosion. His charge had hung fire for a long time, but when it went it went well; fragments were hurled between a quarter and half a mile, and fell into the sea near the boat. There could be no doubt that the line was effectively cut; and he could now give his whole attention to saving an officer to the service.<br>
This was the most desperate part of the affair. After swimming some four hundred or five hundred yards out to sea, he blew a long blast on his whistle; but the boat was behind the cliffs in her little bay and failed to hear him. Day was breaking rapidly; the time of waiting for him must, he knew, be limited. With a decision and coolness beyond comment he swam ashore again and rested for a short time on the rocks—then swam off once more, directly towards the boat. Before he reached the bay, he had to discard in turn his pistol, his bayonet, and his electric torch. At last he rounded the point and his whistle was heard; but, at the same moment, shouts came from the cliffs overhead, and rifle fire opened on the boat.<br>
She immediately backed, and came slowly astern out of the bay, intent only upon picking up Lieut. D’Oyly Hughes. But now came the most extraordinary part of the whole adventure. In the early morning mist the bow, the gun, and the conning-tower of the submarine appeared to her distressed officer to be three small rowing-boats advancing towards him, and rowing-boats could only mean enemies. He turned, swam ashore, and tried to hide himself under the cliffs. But he did not lose his head, and after climbing a few feet he looked back and realised his mistake. He shouted and plunged in again. Forty yards from the rocks he was at last picked up, nearly done, for he had run hard for his life and swum a mile in his clothes. But he had done his work and E. 11 was proud of him, as appears from the concluding sentence in her log: ‘5.5 a.m. Dived out of rifle fire, and proceeded out of the Gulf of Ismid.’
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