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1914 to 1917

Crown 2,vo. Maps. 3/6 net.

"This is, indeed, an excellent little
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mended to the notice of all, for the
reader will find instruction, entertain-
ment, and even amusement in the
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" Conrad Cato. . . has served through
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Tigris, and adds to the personal
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a rare gift of vivid description and a
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salient points which is given to very
few." — The Globe.


Navy Everywhere




"THE NAVY IN Mesopotamia"






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First published
f :". 19>9


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U V c

PBpra^D IN Qbeat Britain




The welcome accorded to the " Navy in Mesopo-
tamia " has tempted me to ofl'er to the pubhc another
book on naval work in foreign waters. The title I
have chosen must not be taken to imply that I have
attempted to describe the activities of the British
Navy in every part of the world where they
have been in progress. I have done no more than
collect a few samples of naval operations in those
theatres of war whichfare sufficiently remote to have
escaped almost entirely the notice of the war corre-
spondents of the Press. These samples exclude
altogether the ordinary routine work of the Navy —
the watching for the German High Seas Fleet, the
hunting and destroying of enemy submarines, the
sweeping up of mines, the patrolling of many thousand
square miles of sea to maintain a blockade of the
enemy's coast, the convoying of merchant ships,
^ and the transporting of the Army to any part of the
?n world it happened to fancy. All these tasks are part
=3 of the never-ending toil which falls to the lot of the
^ Navy in war-time, and, though the successful per-
formance of them is the first essential of our national
existence, no literary eflort should be needed to
impress this fact on the minds of the British public.
I have chosen, therefore, to confine myself to those
naval performances which are quite outside the
ordinary sphere, and about which the public^ have
received comparatively little information.

The accounts I have given of these performances
are based upon official reports, and, in the case of




those scenes and incidents of which I was not myself
an eye-witness, I am indebted for descriptive details
to various officers who took part in them, and to
whom I wish to express my cordial thanks. With
their assistance I hope I may have succeeded in
presenting a readable reminder to the public that the
Navy during the war was engaged on many and
diverse tasks, altogether apart from that of securing
to the people of these islands their daily bread.

Conrad Cato.

May 1919.




I. The White Flag at Dar-es-Salaam . 3

II. Bottling up the " Konisgberg " . 18

III. Destruction of the " Konigsberg " . 31

IV. An Airman's Adventures . . 42


V. The Story of " King Bell " . .61

VI. Some Incidents of the Earlier

Operations . . . . .71

VII. Amphibious Operations ... 86


VIII. The "Terror of the Danube ' . 103

IX. The Fall of Belgrade . . .110

X. The Great Retreat . . . 123





XL H.M.S. " Manica " AT Gallipoli . 141

XII. H.M.S. "Manica" in East Africa. 150


XIII. The Tangistani Raids . . . 173


XIV. The Battle near Topalul . . 189
XV. The Retreat FROM THE DoBRUDSHA . 206

XVI. The Battle of Vizirul . .220


XVII. An Outpost of Empire in Somaliland 237
• XVIII. Scotching the Wolf's Cub . . 263

XIX. The Taking of Salif . . .279



The Coast of East Africa ... 3


Delta of the Rufigi River ... 19

Cameroons Coast ..... 61

Serbia ....... 103

Bagamoyo : Sketch shovVIng the Landing

Operations 157

Sketch Map of Bushire Islai^d , .181

The Dobrudsha . . . , . . 189

somaliland 239

Coast of Arabia 281





The harbour of Dar-es-Salaam lies somewhere near
the middle of the coast of what was once known as
German East Africa — about a hundred miles north
of the Ruiigi River, where the Konigsberg was
found. When war broke out between England and
Germany, the Governor of Dar-es-Salaam, probably
acting upon instructions, had a floating dock towed
to the entrance of the harbour, and there sunk, in
order to block the channel. Whether or not it
actually did block the channel was not decided at the
time, but the intention of it was obvious, and the
question that arose was, why did not the Germans
take their ships out of the harbour first before they
blocked, or attempted to block, the fairway ? There
were four or five ships inside, and any one of them
could have been of great service as a tender to a
German raider, such as the Konigsberg, but yet
they were all left inside when the obstruction was
sunk at the harbour entrance. Of course it might
be put down as one of Germany's blunders, but, on
the other hand, it might be possible for those ships
to circumvent the obstruction, or again, the sunken
dock might be refloated to allow them to pass out
when required.

Dar-es-Salaam was ostensibly an undefended port
at the beginning of the war, and when 1 1. M.S. Astr^ea
called there on 8th August 1914 she took it upon
herself to treat the place as such. She destroyed



the wireless installation as a necessary precaution,
and then opened negotiations with the governor.
In return for his immunity from hostile operations
he made a pledge that the sunken dock should not
be raised, that all vessels in the harbour should be
regarded as British prizes, and that no attempt
should be made to take any of them out to sea. In
those days we regarded the pledge of a German as
being at least of some value, though we may have
been a little hazy as to how much value we ought
to put on it.

A few weeks later the Pegasus, lying up for repairs
in Zanzibar Harbour, was destroyed by the Konigs-
BERG, and it was ascertained for a fact that this
German raider had been using Dar-es-Salaam
Harbour. This completely changed the situation,
for it showed that a ship could get in and out of the
harbour in spite of the obstruction, and, this being
the case, it was more than likely that our prizes there
would make their escape sooner or later, and one or
more of them would take coal and provisions to the
raider. So on 21st October the Chatham called at
Dar-es-Salaam to see what was going on.

There were two ships lying behind the thick
belt of palm trees, their masts visible to the
Chatham, who thought at first that they were
the KoNiGSBERG and one of her consorts. So she
took the range, and fired two or three shells, taking
care not to hit the to^^^l. The Senior Naval Otticer,
however, soon discovered that he had been mistaken
as to the identity of the shij)s, and, having insisted
upon the removal of their wireless telegraphy aerials,
he left them to their own devices, for he had more
important work on hand. Nine days later he found
the KoNiGSBERG licrself, hiding up the Ruligi River.

Dar-es-Salaam was left alone for over a month,
but the Senior Naval OHicer was never satisfied that
the obstruction really blocked the fairway, and he


had even less faith in the pledge of the governor
that the ships would not try to escape. On 28th
November H.M.S. Fox and Goliath, with two

small vessels in company, anchored off Makatumbe
Island, which lies a few miles out to sea from Dar-
es-Salaam, and hoisted the international signal to


the people ashore to send off a boat. It must be
explained that the situation had changed completely,
since those early war days, when the Astr^a paid
her visit there. The exploits of the Konigsberg
had clearly indicated that East Africa was not to be
excluded from the war zone, whatever might be the
pledges of the local governors ; and then came our
military disaster at Tanga, when we altogether
underestimated the resistance likely to be offered by
the enemv, with the result that we came off with
800 casualties — and some valuable experience.
Moreover, the Navy had been busy in the Rufigi
River, bottling up the Konigsberg, so that when they
arrived ofl' Dar-cs-Salaam they were there for busi-
ness, and in no mood for anything else.

At the same time it must be remembered that
Dar-es-Salaam purported to be an undefended harbour,
and was entitled to be treated as such, until there
was evidence of hostile intentions on the part of its
inhabitants. So the Senior Naval Officer hoisted the
signal for a boat and waited on events. After an
hour or so a motor-boat came out of harbour, flying
a flag of truce, and brought up alongside II.M.S.
Fox. In it were the acting governor, the district
commissioner, and the captain of the port, who all
came aboard, and were conducted to t!ic Senior
Naval Officer's cabin. Mr. King, formerly British
Consul at Dar-es-Salaam, acted as interpreter.

The Senior Naval Officer reminded the German offi-
cials that the ships in Dar-es-Salaam Harbour were
all British prizes, and informed them that he had come
to inspect these ships, to take such steps as might
be necessary to disable them, and to withdraw from
the harbour or disable any small craft which might
be used against the Britisli forces. Now, one of the
ships in the harbour was tlie s.s. Tabora. which Imd
been painted as a hospital shij>, and according to
the Germans was being used as such, At Lindi we


had found the s.s. Prasident painted in the same
way, and had been told the same yarn — that she was
being used as a hospital ship — but we had diseovered
by inspecting her that the yarn was all a tissue of
lies, and that the ship was palpably a eollier, which
had recently been used for supplying the Konigsberg.
So we were naturally suspicious about the Tabora, and
the Senior Naval Officer pointed out to the German
officials that she had not complied with the inter-
national regulations, necessary to convert her into
an accredited hospital ship. He added, however,
that he had no wish to cause suffering to any sick
persons, who might be aboard her, and that he would
send a medical officer to inspect her. He would
also send a demolition party to disable her engines,
but nothing should be done in this direction if the
medical officer was of opinion that it would be in-
jurious to any of the patients on board. He further
assured them that no damage should be done to the
town or its inhabitants, so long as no opposition was
offered to the working parties, whom he was going
to send into the harbour, to do what was necessary
for the disablement of the engines of the various

The acting governor was obviously very uncom-
fortable and ill at ease. All he could say was that
he would like to confer with the military authorities
at Dar-es-Salaam. Military authorities in an un-
defended port seem to be rather out of place, but
the Senior Naval Officer waived the point, and merely
told him that he would be given a good half-hour or
so after landing, before the British boats entered the
harbour. The governor then asked rather a curious
question. Would these boats carry on their opera-
tions under the white flag ? The Senior Naval Officer,
somewhat surprised at such a question, naturally
answered in the negative, and at that the German
officials took their departure and returned to the town.


A good deal more than the half-hour's grace was
allowed before a steam-cutter was sent in to sound
and buoy the channel into the harbour. It was
noticed that two white flags had been hoisted on the
flag-staff over against the look-out tower at the
entrance, and these floated conspicuously in the
breeze, so that they could be seen from all directions.
The occupants of the steam-cutter, as soon as they
rounded the bend, noticed a lady driving in a carriage
drawn by a pair of horses along a road close to the
water's edge. Everything looked so peaceful that
one would have imagined that our dear German
brothers in Dar-es-Salaam had never heard of the

When a channel had been buoyed, one of the tugs
(the Helmuth), accompanied by the Goliath's
steam-pinnace, was ordered to proceed into the
harbour with the demolition party. The other tug
(the Duplex), owing to some engine-room defects,
did not enter the harbour, but lay at anchor about
two miles from it. The two ships. Fox and Goliath,
were about five miles from the shore, and those on
board them were taking only a languid interest in
the proceedings, for the two white flags at the look-
out tower were flaunted in their faces, and war
seemed to them a very tame affair after all. It is
very easy to be wise after any event, and to say that
this or that precaution should have been taken, but
it must be borne in mind that there were the two
white flags, conspicuous to everyone, and the enemy
was not a barbarous tribe from the African jungle,
but purported to be a civilised European people.

So the IIelmutii proceeded up the harbour to
where two ships, called the Konig and Feldmar-
sciiall, were lying, and the demolition party boarded
the Konig, and proceeded to destroy her engines by
placing an explosive charge under tlie low-pressure
cylinder, followed by another one inside it. The


crew of the Konig appeared to consist mainly of
Lascars, and the only officers on board were the
chief engineer and the fourth officer. From these it
was learned that all the rest of the officers and men
were ashore, and at the time it did not occur to
Commander Ritchie, who was in charge of the de-
molition party, that there could be anything unusual
in this circumstance. He ordered all the Konig s
crew to go down into the ship's boats, informing them
that they were prisoners of war.

Shortly afterwards the Goliath's steam-pinnace
came up, bringing some more men of the demoli-
tion party, with Lieutenant-Commander Paterson in
charge. Commander Ritchie instructed this officer to
complete the disablement of the engines of the Feld-
MARSCHALL and Konig, while he himself went farther
up the creek in the Helmuth to another ship, called
the Kaiser Wilhelm II. The Helmuth, however,
ran on the mud, and had some difficulty in getting
off, so Commander Ritchie took her back to the
Konig, and tried the steam-pinnace in place of her. In
this he successfully reached the Kaiser Wilhelm II,
disabled her engines, and destroyed two lighters
that were lying near her. But what first gave him
a sense of uneasiness was the fact that the Kaiser
Wilhelm II was absolutely deserted. Her crew
were nowhere to be seen, but on her deck were found
some Mauser clips — one containing three bullets with
the pointed ends sawn off — suggesting that the
ship's crew had recently been busy overhauling their
rifles. The absence of the officers and white ratings
from the other two ships now assumed a new signifi-

Lying near the ship were five other lighters, and
it occurred at once to Commander Ritchie that it
might be useful to have one of these on each side of
the steam-pinnace, by way of protection, for there
was evidently mischief of some kind or other brewing.


The other three hghters he towed astern, and, thus
encumbered, the pinnace made the best speed she
could down the creek. As she passed the Konig and
Feldmarschall, Commander Ritchie saw that the
Helmuth had ah-eady started her return voyage, and
though he scrutinised the two ships carefully through
his glasses, he could see no signs of anyone in either
of them. So he proceeded down the creek, but foimd
that the pinnace made such slow progress that he was
finally obliged to drop the three lighters astern, only
retaining the two which were made fast on either
side of the pinnace.

In order to keep to the chronological order of
events, we must now return to the Kelmuth and
Lieutenant-Commander Paterson. He was engaged
with his demolition party on the engines of the Konig
and Feldmarschall, and in the meantime some
thirty prisoners from the Konig were sitting in the
two boats belonging to that ship. Lieutenant Orde
had received instructions from Commander Ritchie
to proceed down the harbour, towing these two boats,
to stop at the s.s. Tabora and put Surgeon llolton
aboard there to inspect the ship, and then proceed
out to sea and deliver his prisoners over to the
Duplex, afterwards returning to the Tabora to
pick up Surgeon llolton. 'J his, at any rate, was how
Lieutenant Orde understood his instructions, and he
not unnaturally concluded that Lieutenant-Com-
mander Paterson and his working party intended to
return in the steam pinnace with Commander
Ritchie. It is not very clear why he should have
thought that the sole object of his returning to the
'J'ABORA, after the safe delivery of his prisoners, was
to pick uj) Surgeon llolton, for it had always been
intended that a demolition party should board the
TAiU)HA, and should disable her engines if Surgeon
Jiolton was of opinion tliat this could be done
without injury to any of the patients. Possibly,


however, Lieutenant Orde was unaware of this

It may here be stated that the Tabora was
genuinely being used as a hospital ship. There were
doctors and nurses and some wounded men in her,
and she was fitted with cots and other hospital

And now we must return to ILM.S. I'ox and the
Senior Naval ( )flicer. It was late in the forenoon when
he ordered the steam-cutter alongside, and, accom-
panied by an army staff officer, went in to have a
look at the sunken dock at the mouth of the harbour.
It was a morning of bright sunshine, and through the
clear water he could see the obstruction lying about
ten feet below the surface, but, without sounding, it
w^ould be difficult to say whether or not it effectually
blocked the channel. He then thought he would go
round the bend, and see what the harbour looked
like, and how the demolition parties were getting on.
He gave the order to the coxswain to go ahead, and
leaned comfortably back in the sternsheets of the
boat, enjoying the pleasant sunshine and possibly
wondering why the Germans had hoisted two white
flags on the flag-staff, when one would have answered
the purpose.

Suddenly the sharp crack of a rifle was heard, and
a bullet struck the water on the port side of the
steam-cutter. Next moment a blaze of rifle fire
came from either bank, and bullets began to rain
against the sides of the boat. The hottest fire
seemed to come from the vicinity of the flag staff,
where the two white flags still floated in the breeze.
"Lie down everyone," shouted the Senior Naval Officer,
and to the coxswain he gave the order " Hard-a-port."
The bullets were whistling over their heads, were
pouring into the boat, and were piercing the thin
iron plates, which had been rigged for the protection
of the boiler and of the coxswain in the sternsheets.


The stoker tending the fire was dangerously wounded,
but Lieutenant Corson ran forward and took his
place. In the after part of the boat a seaman was
hit in the head, and the coxswain had a bullet
through his leg, but pluckily stuck to his job,
although another wound caused the blood to pour
from his mouth. " That's nothing, sir," he said.
"I'm all right. We shall soon be out of the

No one in the boat was armed, and so there was
no way of replying to the fire. To make matters
worse, speed had slackened owing to the furnace having
been neglected before it was noticed that the stoker was
wounded. But the efforts of Lieutenant Corson soon
increased the steam pressure, and after a while the
boat got beyond the danger zone. The coxswain
stuck to his post in spite of his wounds, and even-
tually brought the boat alongside the Fox about
half -past one in the afternoon. Stoker Herbert T.
Lacey died of his wounds.

Immediately afterwards the firing broke out again,
and the Senior Naval Officer saw that the Helmuth
was coming through the neck of the harbour, towing
astern of her two boats full of prisoners. She had
put the doctor on ])oard the Tabora, and was on
her way to the Duplex to hand over the prisoners,
when field-gun, rifle, and machine-gun fire was
opened on her from the north bank. The coxswain
was immediately wounded, and his relief had no
sooner taken his place than he, too, was wounded.
Then Lieutenant Ordc. who was in command, received
a wound, but the worst piece of bad luck was that
a bullet struck the breech-block of the Helmuth' s
only gun — a 3-poundcr — and put it out of action, so
that she became as defenceless as the Fox's steam-
cutter had l)een. The bullets came pouring into
her, and some of them punctured the steam pipes,
with the result that there was a heavy escape of


steam, and the speed of the tug slackened consider-
ably. There was a certain amount of grim satis-
faction in seeing a stray bullet hit one of the boats
astern, and wound a German prisoner, but this was
the only consolation to be derived by the Helmuth's
unfortunate victims.

The Senior Naval Officer in the Fox promptly sig-
nalled to the Duplex to open fire on the shore with
her 12-pounder, and both the Fox and Goliath
bombarded the shore whence the enemy's fire seemed
to be coming. This had the desired effect of causing
some slight abatement, and after a while the Helmuth
got beyond the danger zone. The Goliath was
then ordered to put a few shells into the governor's
palace, which she proceeded to do with one of her
12-inch guns, and after two or three rounds the
palace was reduced to a heap of ruins. Then there
came a lull in the proceedings, and one would have
supposed that the Germans hiding in the vicinity of
the look-out tower would have occupied their leisure
in hauling down the white flags from the flag-staff.
But the white flags continued to float serenely in the
breeze, and the Germans beneath them stood waiting
for their next victims.

We must now return to the steam-pinnace and
Commander Ritchie. Having satisfied himself that
there was no one aboard the Konig or the Feld-
MARSCHALL, hc Continued his way down the harbour,
and, as already related, he dropped the three lighters
which were in tow astern, in order to increase speed.
When he was approaching the Tabora he saw
Surgeon Holton put off from her in a boat, and head
towards the steam-pinnace. He had just eased
down the engines to enable the doctor to come
alongside, when a heavy fire was opened on him from
both sides of the harbour. The crew of Surgeon
Holton' s boat took fright, and began to pull back to
the Tabora. At this the steam-pinnace tried to get


up to the boat, but with her two Hghters in tow on
either side of her, she was difficult to steer, and finally
had to abandon the attempt. But the two lighters
proved to be her salvation, for some field guns were
now firing shells at her, and without the protection
of these lighters she must inevitably have been

As she rounded the bend the shot and shell came
at her from all directions, and though the Fox and
Goliath again opened fire to cover her retreat, it
did not seem to make much appreciable difference.
For the enemy were well hidden among the palm
trees, and from the ships, lying five miles out to sea,
it was impossible to locate them. Two men in the
steam-pinnace were hit almost at the outset ; one
of them was the coxswain. Petty Officer Clark, whose
place was taken by Able Seaman Upton. Then
Upton was hit, and t lark, whose wound had been
temporarily dressed, tried to resume his place at the
wheel, but fainted away from loss of blood. This
was the critical moment, for the narrow entrance of
the harbour and the sunken dock still lay in front

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