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of them, and there was need of a cool head and a
steady hand to steer the boat through. Commander
Ritchie had by this time been wounded in several
places, and was in considerable pain, but he saw
that the only chance of escape lay in skilful steering,
and so he took the wheel himself. Amidst the cease-
less shower of bullets whistling over his head and
singing past his ears, he piloted the boat through
the neck of the harbour, and had just got clear of
it when a bullet struck him in the leg. It was his
eighth wound ; simultaneously the boat ran on a
sand-bank, and the commander fainted. Fortu-
nately, however, the worst of the danger was now
over ; the boat got afloat again without much
trouble, the two liglifers, having served their purpose,
were slipped, and in less than an hour the boat



THE WHITE FLAG AT DARES-SALAAM 15

reached the Fox. In addition to the commander,
one officer and five men were wounded.

Throughout the whole or these proceedings, the
two white flags flew majestically from the flag-stall —
the emblems of Germany's high ideal of universal
peace and the brotherhood of man. But the whole
of the tale of treachery is not yet told. It soon
became known that Lieutenant-Commander Paterson
and his section of the demolition party were missing.
The party included Lieutenant (E) V. J. H. Sankey,
Chief Artificer Ilngineer W. E. Turner, one chief
petty officer, and seven other ratings. The solution
of the mystery of their disappearance was only
revealed when these officers and men were released
from their captivity nearly three years later. It
appears that while the party was at work in the
KoNiG, Lieutenant-Commander Paterson became
aware that armed troops were on the river-bank in
a position commanding the deck of the ship. When
the firing started lower down the harbour, he realised
at once that they were in for trouble, and, in fact,
he had anticipated it. lie therefore kept the whole
of his party down below, fully expecting that Com-
mander Ritchie, when he returned with the steam-
pinnace, would come alongside the ship. Presently
he saw on the other side of the estuary two large
lighters, with the funnel of a small steamboat just
appearing above them. At first he failed to recog-
nise that this was the steam-pinnace of his own ship,
but when it had steamed straight past the Konig,
and he was able to get a better view of it, he reaUsed
the awful truth that there had been some mis-
understanding, and that he and his party were left
in the lurch. He knew that if he showed himself
on the upper deck the Askaris would open fire on
him, and he knew that Commander Ritchie would
not be able to hear his voice, unaided by a megaphone.
There was only one chance that if they all kept



16 THE NAVY IN EAST AFRICA

very quiet the troops on the bank might think they
had left the Konig, and under cover of night they
might be able to find a boat and slip out of the
harbour. It was a forlorn hope, and unfortunately
it was doomed to disappointment. In the early
evening the Germans came and took them all
prisoners.

On 30th November 1914 the Senior Naval Officer
addressed a letter to the governor of Dar-es-Salaam,
recapitulating what had taken place, and warning
him that the town would be subjected to bombard-
ment, but the Tabora would be spared, not as an
accredited hospital ship, but because there were
reported to be wounded men in her. The governor's
reply (which was somewhat belated) was a truly
marvellous piece of composition. First of all he
said that though he had agreed to the British visiting
the ships in the harbour, he had never agreed to
allow them to disable the engines ; then he stated
that the British boats came into the harbour filled
with armed men ; and finally he excused the presence
of the white flags by saying that there was no possi-
bility of hauling them down because the fight was
so intensive. Apparently his idea of an intensive
fight is hiding behind a palm tree, and potting at
defenceless men in open boats. The letter was a poor
production, even as a specimen of German mendacity.

At half-past two that afternoon there was another
"intensive fight" in Dar-es-Salaam, in which tlie
government buildings, the warehouses, the railway
stations, the customs house, and the barracks received
special attention. The debris of these buildings
was seen flying above the tree-tops, but only two
small fires were started, as most of the houses were
built of coral slag. But it is a fair surmise that, by
the time the entertainment was over, the governor
and people of Dar-es-Salaam had had enough of
" intensive lighting."



THE WHITE f'LAG AT DAR-ES-SALAAM 17

Commander Henry Peel Ritchie, for his heroic
conduct in taking the wheel of the steam-pinnace,
and bringing the boat out of harbour, after he had
received eight wounds, was awarded the Victoria
Cross.



2



CHAPTER II

BOTTLING UP THE " KONIGSBERG "

During the month of September 1914 H.M.S.
Pegasus — an old light cruiser of about 2,000 tons —
put into Zanzibar Harbour to repair her boilers.
Now Zanzibar is a British protectorate, but this
fact afforded no guarantee at that time that the
island was not swarming with German agents, and
lying as it does not far from the mainland of German
East Africa, it followed as a matter of course that
the Germans were kept fully informed as to what
was happening at Zanzibar. By means of wireless
stations, which were quite plentiful down the coast
of German East Africa, they were able to com-
municate interesting news to any of the German
cruisers that were roaming the seas in those days.
And so it came about that the German cruiser Konigs-
berg received a message to say that a small British
cruiser was lying disabled in Zanzibar Harbour — an
old third-class cruiser with out-of-date guns, that
could not be expected to put up any kind of a
fight, and could be easily outranged by the German
guns. Here was just the kind of job the Konigsberg
enjoyed, and so on 20th September she pounced down
on her prey, and very quickly pununelled the poor
old ship to pieces.

Out of the destruction of the Pegasus the only
compensation to be gained was the knowledge that
the elusive Konigsberg was oil the East African
coast, and it was a fair assumption that she was

18




A. ApprwimAta position oFHONIGSBEPG 31 October 1914
S o , ■' , •■ - ,, 4 December/9/4-.

C. Position v^here NEWBRIDGE was suni.



BOTTLING UP THE "KONIGSBERG" 19

receiving her supplies of coal and stores from the
shore, by means of German merchant vessels. There
were several of these vessels dancing attendance on
the raider, and, according to information received,
one of them was called the Prasident, and another
the Somali. There were other ships in Dar-es-
Salaam Ilarboiir, which were under suspicion, but the
Germans had themselves blocked the mouth of that
harbour by sinking an obstruction, and for the
present we were content to believe that the obstruc-
tion was elTective, and to leave the Dar-es-Salaam
ships out of the account. When, therefore, three
British cruisers were told oil to search for the Konigs-
BERG, they worked upon the basis that the discovery
of the Prasident, or the Somali, or both, might be
of material assistance.

The search was not an easy one, because the coast
for the major part is fringed with thick belts of
palm trees, behind which the harbours, formed by
the estuaries of the rivers, wind away out of sight.
Thus at Lindi, near the southern extremity of the
colony, the Weymouth had a look at the outer
harbour, which was empty, but could see nothing
of the inner harbour behind the palm trees, nor of
the river beyond it, and, owing to shallow water, was
unable to approach to such a position as would
command a view of these. But a few days later the
Chatham called at Lindi, and sent in a steamboat,
armed with a maxim-gun. Commander Fitzmaurice
went in with the steamboat, carrying a letter to the
governor of Lindi, which was only to be delivered
if it were found that a German ship of any kind was
lurking in the inner harbour. The letter contained
an order to the governor, to send out to sea any
ships that might be in his harbour, and gave him
half an hour to carry out this order, before anything
unpleasant should happen to him.

Now, as soon as the steamboat turned the corner,



26 THE NAVY IN EAST AFRICA

the first thing to meet the gaze of Commander Fitz-
maurice was the Prasident moored about three and
a half miles up the river. But he had to rub his
eyes to make sure of her, for, instead of a ship looking
like a collier, or even like an ordinary merchantman,
he saw what looked uncommonly like a hospital ship.
At her mast-head the Geneva Cross was floating in
the breeze, and on her side was painted a large white
cross. And yet she was not by any means perfect
in her make-up, for she had not painted her hull
white, nor had she the broad band of either green
or red running from stem to stern, which is used to
denote the hospital ship. For once the Teuton lacked
thoroughness in his methods.

Next came a boat from the shore, flying a white
flag, and in it sat the governor's secretary, to whom
Commander Fitzmaurice delivered the letter. Then
came an interval of waiting for an hour or two,
while the governor was considering his reply. Pres-
ently the secretary came oil again in the boat
with the white flag, and the governor's reply in his
best official German was duly conveyed to the Senior
Naval Officer. In a tone of injured innocence the
governor asked plaintively how could he comply
with the Senior Naval Officer's order. The Prasident
was the only ship in the harbour, and how could he
be expected to order a hospital ship to go to sea ?
It was alTording shelter to the women and children of
Lindi, and to all the sick men of Lindi ; to send it
to sea would be an act of barbarism. Moreover, its
machinery was incomplete, and the wheels would not
go round, so the Senior Naval Officer would see at once
tliat it was quite out of the question to send it out
of the harbour.

Meanwhile, however, the Senior Naval Officer had
been writing another letter to the governor, which
proved to be a very suitable repl^^ He pointed out
that the name of the Prasident had not been com-



BOTTLING UP THE "KONIGSBERG" 21

municated, either to him or to the 13ritish Govern-
ment, as a hospital ship, in accordance with the
terms of the Hague Convention, and that her hull
had not been painted as the hull of a hospital ship
should be painted. He then briefly informed the
governor that he was sending an armed party to
board her, and, if possible, to bring her out of the
harbour, or, if this proved to be impossible, to
disable her engines.

That was the end of the negotiations ; the governor
made no further tax upon his powers of romance, but
bowed to inexorable Fate. And so the armed party
was sent into the harbour in a steamboat, and went
on board the Prasident. There are still some strange-
minded folk who cling to their faith in the honesty
of purpose of the much-abused German ; it may come
as a shock to them to learn that the hospital ship
Prasident had no cots, no medical equipment of
any kind, no doctors, and no nurses ; nor were there
any sick men on board, nor any women, nor any
children. There were, however, unmistakable traces
of the collier to be seen everywhere about her ; and
it was evident that she had been recently employed
in this capacity. There are other strange-minded
folk who will exclaim, " How clever those Germans
are ! " But when they come to think it out, they
will see that there was nothing remarkably clever
in painting a white cross on a collier, when she was
threatened with capture or disablement. It was a
childishly simple trick, as most of the German tricks
are.

The Prasident' s engines were disabled by the
boarding party, and they brought away with them a
few useful mementoes, such as a chronometer, a set
of charts, a set of sailing directions, and some com-
passes. So ended the career of the Prasident,
collier and supply ship to the German raider Konigs-
berg.



22 THE NAVY IN EAST AFRICA

Nearly a fortnight later, on 30 th October, the
Chatham lay at anchor off the Rufigi River delta,
and sent in a steamboat to the shore, in quest of
information. Three natives were seen wandering
about among the palm trees, and were persuaded by
cogent arguments that it was their duty to pay an
official visit to H.M.S. Chatham. In other words,
they were brought off to the ship in the steamboat,
and through the medium of an interpreter they un-
folded their tale. Yes, there were two ships lying
up the Rufigi River behind the forest of cocoanut
palms, and one of them had big guns, that made a
big noise. Boom ! The other was like a hand-
maiden to the fellow with the guns — ^like a good and
faithful wife to him, who waited on him and gave
him ghee and rice and d hurra when he was hungry.
They described the ships in their own language, and
the description was good enough to set all doubts at
rest. The Konigsberg and the Somali had been
traced to their lair at last. From the Chatham's
foretop it was just possible to see the masts of two
ships sticking up above the palm trees, but nothing
could be seen of their hulls. One useful piece of
information derived from the natives was that the
Konigsberg had run short of coal, and that her men
had been felling palm trees to obtain fuel. This
shortage of coal served to explain why she had been
lying idle up the Rufigi River ever since her exploit
at Zanzibar a month ago, when the old Pegasus met
her doom.

It was one thing to discover the Konigsberg, and
quite another thing to get at her. To start with,
there was a bar l)etwccn the open sea and the mouth
of the river, which the Chatham could only cross at
high water ; then there was a likelihood of obstruc-
tions sunk in the river channel, and of mines ; and
then there was the certainty of opposition from the
shore on either side of the river mouth, for the



BOTTLING UP THE "KONIGSBERG" 23

Germans had been busy digging trenches, rigging up
barbed wire, and making gun emplacements, in which
they had mounted the guns of the Koxigsberg's
secondary armament. All these defences were well con-
cealed behind the palm trees and thick undergrowth.

The first thing the Senior Naval Officer did was to
inform by wireless the Dartmouth and the Wey-
mouth, who were searching the coast farther south,
that their quest was at an end, and that they were
to rejoin the Chatham. He then set about sounding
and buoying a channel towards the river mouth. By
the river mouth must be understood that passage
through the delta where the two channels, called
Simba Uranga and Suninga, make their exit to the
sea. According to the information gleaned from the
natives the other three channels were impassable by
large ships.

Meanwhile the range was taken of the Somali,
which was lying a little nearer than the Konigsberg.
It was found to be just over 14,000 yards, and so
the Chatham opened fire on her with 6-inch lyddite
shells. The effect of the fire could not be ascertained,
for the Somali's hull was invisible behind the palm
trees, and even her masts could only be seen by the
spotters at the mast-head. One result of the bom-
bardment, however, soon declared itself. The masts
of the Konigsberg were seen to move, slowly at first,
but as the ship gathered way, they gUded rapidly
past the tops of the palm trees. For a moment
there was a state of keen anticipation on board the
Chatham, for they really thought that the CJerman
cruiser was coming out to engage them, and, as
Alexander Pope says, hope springs eternal in the
human breast. But the Konigsberg had no such
intention ; all she wanted to do was to make sure
of being outside the Chatham's range, so she slunk
away another six miles farther up the river, and
there dropped her anchor again.



24 THE NAVY IN EAST AFRICA

Was she now safe from bombardment ? It must
be remembered that the Chatham was five or six
miles out to sea, but, supposing she managed to
cross the bar and to reach the river's mouth, it was
just possible that she might find the Konigsberg
within her range then. At all events it was worth
trying, and so the work of buoying a channel con-
tinued briskly. One morning, however, a look-out
from the mast-head reported that the Konigsberg' s
masts had disappeared, and he could see nothing of
her anywhere.

Here was a startling mystery, but the explanation
of it was not hard to guess, and the Chatham carried
on with her work. As soon as the channel had been
buoyed and the spring tide came round, she crept in
gingerly, passed over the bar, and anchored about
a mile and a half from the entrance to the river. And
then the look-out in the foretop was able to solve
the mystery of the sudden disappearance of the
Konigsberg's masts. The top-masts had been
struck, and in their place had been rigged the t6ps
of two cocoanut palms, so that in the distance
nothing but these could be seen. It was a better
trick than painting a white cross on a colUer's hull,
and besides having the merit of being a legitimate
device of warfare, it was worthy of any of those
animals who make a practice of protective mimicry,
such as the arctic fox, who changes his coat to
white when the snow comes, or the mantis, who pre-
tends he is a pink flower.

The Chatham opened fire at once, for she had no
time to lose if she was to get back across the bar
with the ebb of the tide. Her trouble was that
the gunlayers could see absolutely nothing of their
objective, and her spotters found it almost impossible
to spot the fall of the shells amidst the thick vege-
tation of the delta. It became very obvious that
there was very little chance of settling accounts



BOTTLING UP THE "KONIGSBERG" 25

with the German raider until some aircraft arrived
to help in the operations. When the Chatham re-
crossed the bar she had less than a foot of water
underneath her, and her captain made up his mind
that he had had quite enough of that experiment.

Meanwhile the Dartmouth and the Weymouth
had arrived on the scene, and had filled in their time
with frequent bombardments of the trenches and
barbed-wire entanglements on either side of the
river entrance. The result was that the trenches at
the extreme ends were evacuated by the Germans,
who came to the conclusion that life in them had too
many crowded hours to it to be comfortable. The
Chatham devoted her attentions to the Somali,
and though her fire was indirect, and the spotting
extremely difficult, she succeeded in plumping at
least one shell into the ship, and in causing a fire to
break out on board.

The next experiment was a scheme to send in armed
picket-boats, carrying a couple of torpedoes, to be
fired at the Somali, but it turned out a failure. The
boats were greeted with a heavy fire from rifles and
machine-guns, which were so effectually hidden in a
mangrove swamp on the south side of the river that
it was impossible to locate them. An extraordinary
accident occurred to one of the torpedoes, which
no one was able to explain. Possibly the releasing
gear was struck by a bullet, or possibly a torpedo
man lost his nerve amidst the rattle and clatter of
the enemy's shot ; but, anyhow, the torpedo was
released prematurely, and all it did was to sink to
the bottom without either a run or an explosion. The
other torpedo was out of gear, and so the experiment
had to be abandoned, and the boats returne ] to
their respective ships, fortunately with nothing more
than very light casualties.

One result of these experiments was the decision
that, since the K6nigsberg refused to come out of



26 THE NAVY IN EAST AFRICA

her retreat, she had better be locked up inside it.
With this object in view, a large collier of venerable
antiquity was brought from Zanzibar and prepara-
tions were made to take her into the river, moor her
athwart the fairway, and then sink her, so as to
block the channel. Iron plates were fixed round
the steering-wheel of her forebridge to protect the
helmsman from rifle fire, and her crew were taken
out of her and replaced by officers and men of the
Chatham. A flotilla of steam-cutters and a picket-
boat belonging to the three ships, together with a
vessel of light draught, called the Duplex, were to
accompany the Newbridge, covering her advance,
as far as possible, by their fire, and assisting her in
various other ways. The picket-boat was to carry
a torpedo, which was to be fired at the Newbridge,
if other methods of sinking her failed. One of the
steam-cutters was to stand by to take off her crew
when she was abandoned. Another steam-cutter
was to land a party on the left bank of the river,
to see what they could find there. All the men
were to wear life-belts, and to carry their rifles, and
the steamboats and the Duplex were to be armed
with maxims.

Before daybreak on 7th November the flotilla
headed for the mouth of the river, the Newbridge
leading, and arrived there at half-past five in the
morning. All seemed quiet at first, and not a soul
was to be seen on shore, but as soon as the New-
bridge turned round the bend, the music of maxims
and rifles broke the silence, and the bullets pattered
like hailstones against the iron plates which protected
her crew. But she kept steadily on her course,
entered the Suninga Channel, and just before six
o'clock reached her destination.

It is not very obvious from the map of the Rufigi
Delta why the Suninga Channel was selected to be
blocked. More direct access to the sea is afforded



BOTTLING UP THE " KONIGSBERG " 27

by the Simba Uranga Channel, and it was in this
channel that the Konigsberg was lying when she
was first discovered. Since then she had moved
up above the point where the two channels met,
and one might suppose that either of them could be
used by her. This, however, was not the case,
according to the opinion of the natives. They were
unanimous in the view that only the Suninga Channel
had water enough to admit of the passage of a ship
of the Konigsberg's size, and for the present we
had to be content to accept this view as correct.

When the Newbridge arrived at the position
marked C on the map, she shut off her engines, and
proceeded to anchor bow and stern. This was
carried out to the accompaniment of a ceaseless patter
of bullets, occasionally varied by the dull thud of
something heavier striking her sides and super-
structure. The enemy evidently had some small
guns commanding the spot, and they were resolved
to make things as unpleasant as they possibly could.
To sink a vessel in the exact position required for
blocking a channel is not so easy as it sounds.
The Turks tried it many times up the Tigris and
Euphrates, and invariably made a mess of it ; the
Germans tried it on a large scale to bar the approaches
to Duala, in the Cameroons, and they, too, did the
work very badly, using up quite a large number of
ships before they succeeded in making a barrage. It
is the kind of job which cannot be done in a hurry,
and to do it under fire requires a remarkably cool
nerve. The Germans knew this, no doubt, and by
pouring shot and shell into the Newbridge they
hoped to spoil the operation.

This hope, however, was doomed to disappoint-
ment. As soon as the ship was moored securely
across the channel, the main inlet valve was opened,
and she began to settle by the stern. Her command-
ing officer was fearful at first lest the force of



28 THE NAVY IN EAST AFRICA

the current should carry her stern round, but the
anchors held firmly, and in a short time the stern
had grounded on the bottom. The crew were
ordered to assemble near the port ladder, and in
spite of the heavy fire directed at them, they fell in
as unconcernedly as though they were in Sheerness
Harbour and the quartermaster had piped " Both
watches fall in for exercise." The steam-cutter,
which was waiting to take them off, also came in
for her share of the enemy's fire, but it failed to
disconcert her crew.

The last thing to do before abandoning the ship
was to place an explosive charge in her, and connect
it to an electric circuit, of which the ends were
carried into the steam- cutter, and, as soon as they
were at a sufficient distance, the charge was exploded
and the ship, listing to port, sank to the bottom of
the river, where she lay very nearly at right angles
to the line of the channel. No one could have
made a neater job of it.

Then came the exciting business of getting out of
the river again. The enemy's 3-pounders, rifles,


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