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The Brighton Boys with the Submarine Fleet online

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attentively to the commands of the navigating officer and the
interpretations given by their new-found friend. Bill explained that
the process of diving was called "trimming" in submarine cruising, and
that the pumping of the water being directed by Binns was done to fill
the ballast tanks, thus increasing the displacement of the _Dewey_ and
causing it to settle in the water. First one tank was filled, and then
another, until the vessel was submerged on an even keel. This was a
revelation to the boys, for they had supposed it was only necessary to
tilt the ship and dive just like a porpoise.

To their great delight the recruits found that the _Dewey_, like other
submarines built since the beginning of the great world war, was
equipped with twin periscopes, and that, furthermore, they would be
allowed to watch the submersion of the _Dewey_ through the reserve
periscope if they so desired. Would they care to? Well, rather! For
the next few minutes they took turn about peering into the mirrors that
reflected the whole panorama before their eyes.

Gradually, they could see, the _Dewey_ was settling into the embrace
of the sea. Now she was down until the waves rolled completely over
the deck and splashed against the conning tower. Down, down they
dropped till only the periscope projected above the waves. Before
them stretched the wide sweep of water, the ocean rising slowly but
surely to overwhelm them. One after another the waves surged by.
Now the eye of the periscope was so close to the crest of the water
that it was only a matter of another moment until they would be under.
Up, up, up came the water to meet them. Ted's heart was in his mouth
while he viewed this awesome spectacle. Then he gave way for Jack to
take a squint through the tube that carried with it a last look at the
world of sunlight they were leaving. And now the eye of the periscope
was so near submersion that the swell of the waves swept over it and
momentarily blotted out the light. Then the spray dashed madly at the
"eye" of the tube - -and they were under!

Down in the depths of the ocean! It was a moment to stir the pulses
of the two Brighton recruits. Wide-eyed in wonder, tense with the
strain of the experience, they stepped back from the periscope.
Through Ted's mind flitted memories of Jules Verne's "Twenty Thousand
Leagues Under the Sea," and he was suddenly inspired to find out
whether it was possible to glimpse any of the wonders depicted by
the writer. A peep into the tube showed only a greenish haze as the
rays of the sun seemed trying to follow the _Dewey_ into the depths.
Against the eye of the periscope streamed a faint flicker of greenish
particles in the water that reminded the boy of myriad shooting stars.
And then - -nothing but a blur of black!

"What do you know about that?" gasped Ted, turning to his old school
pal. The boys were keyed to a high pitch by this time as a result of
their first experience in a deep-sea dive. So tense were they with
excitement that they marveled at the care-free attitude of the crew.
Some of them were humming nonchalantly; others chatting and laughing
as though on an excursion on a river steamboat.

"What do you feel like, chum?" began Ted, as the two settled into a
conversation over their wonderful exploit.

"Well, I've been up in the tower of the Woolworth Building and down in
a coal mine and up in a Ferris wheel and once I had a ride with Uncle
Jim in the cab of a locomotive - -but this beats anything I ever had
anything to do with!" exclaimed Jack, all in one breath.

Ted was gulping a bit. "I feel as though I had left my heart and
stomach up there on top of the ocean," he stammered.

Bill Witt grinned from ear to ear; the remark was reminiscent of other
"rookies" and their first experiences at sea.

"You'll probably think you've completely lost some parts of your
department of internal affairs before you get rightly acquainted with
your new friend Mr. Neptune," offered Bill by way of a gentle reminder.

So far the new members of the _Dewey's_ crew had been unaffected by the
terrors of seasickness. Bill's remark drove the import of it home
pretty hard. "I hope, if we are going to get it," interjected Ted
philosophically, "we get it soon and get over with it."

They had little time to ponder over the possibilities of gastronomic
disturbances, for there was much going on that occupied their attention.
The _Dewey_ was now running entirely submerged, testing out her
electric batteries.

"How do they steer the vessel down here under the sea?" asked Jack.

"By the gyrocompass," answered Bill Witt, pointing to where Executive
Officer Binns and Commander McClure stood in the conning tower. "We
are running blind down here, except that the skipper knows from his
compass which direction we are going, and he has charts that tell him
the depth of the sea at this point. They know the longitude and
latitude and can easily determine on their maps and charts just where
we are."

"How deep down can we go?" inquired Ted.

"Most of the boats have to be tested at a depth of two hundred feet
before they are accepted by the government from the builders," replied
Bill. "But you can bet your life we don't often go down that far.
When we do, the water is oozing through the thin steel hull and
dropping in globules from the sides and top of the vessel. From sixty
to a hundred feet is our average plunge."

Even at that moment the boys noticed that the _Dewey_ was "sweating"
a little bit, the vaulted steel above them, coated with a composition
that contained cork, being dotted here and there with drops of water.
Jack craned his neck to look at the depth dial and noted the indicator
hand was pointing at seventy-two feet.

Mess was served at noon while the _Dewey_ kept on her run. Coffee and
biscuits made up the frugal meal this time, the officers and crew
being anxious to prove the submersible ready for any emergency call
that Uncle Sam might make, and not desiring to spare the men from
their posts longer than possible.

All afternoon the _Dewey_ ploughed the waves, sometimes running
submerged, other times on the surface. About five o'clock the boys
perceived the lighthouse at the bay entrance, and soon they were
back in the navy yard. Their letters home that night thrilled with
accounts of their first dive under the ocean, and in their dreams
the boys were sharing all manner of wonderful exploits against the
foe on the boundless sea.

For several weeks the Brighton recruits were kept busily at the
business of mastering submarine navigation. In the distribution of
the crew throughout the vessel Jack and Ted found themselves assigned
under the leadership of Chief Gunner Mowrey. In turn the boys were
drilled in the forms for loading and firing torpedoes from the
chambers in the bow of the boat, and in manning the four-inch guns
above deck, as well as the anti-aircraft guns that poked their noses
straight up in the air and sent up shells much after the fashion of
Fourth of July skyrockets. The crew had pet names for their guns.
The forecastle gun was nicknamed "Roosey" for Colonel Roosevelt, the
gun aft was dubbed "Big Bob" in honor of "Fighting Bob" Evans of
Spanish-American War fame, while the anti-aircraft guns became
"the Twins."

"Hope we get a shot at a zepp some day soon with one of the Twins,"
sighed Jack one afternoon after the gun crew had finished peppering to
pieces a number of kites that had been raised as targets.

"Yes, and I hope we get that shot at the zepp before the zepp gets one
at us," replied Ted, as he recalled the stories he had read of the
submarines being visible while yet under water to aircraft directly
overhead, and thus being a ready target for a sky gunner.

Coming in the next afternoon from a run to shake down the engines, the
boys on the _Dewey_ found the navy yard in the vicinity of the
submarine fleet moorings in a commotion. Motor trucks were depositing
piles of goods near the piers which were being lightered to some units
of the submarine fleet in motor launches. Officers were hurrying to
and fro between their vessels and the shore and there was a general air
of suspense that seemed to indicate early action of some kind.

The _Dewey_ was wigwagged to take up a position near the other undersea
craft that were being provisioned and fueled, and very soon supplies
were coming aboard.

"Looks like we are going away from here," suggested Ted to his sailor

"It's a guess I've been making myself," answered Jack.

Their surmises were all too true, for very soon Commander McClure, who
had been ashore for some hours now while the businesslike preparations
were in progress, came alongside in the launch of the commandant of
the yard and called his staff of officers into executive conference
down in the officers' quarters. The news spread quickly through the
_Dewey_ as though by magic, that the submarine was due to get away
during the night under sealed orders. A few minutes later Bill Witt
confirmed the news. He was on night watch and had heard it from the
officer of the deck.

Under sealed orders! Where and what!



The _Dewey_ was off! Shortly after midnight the little craft got under
way, with her nose pointed out of the harbor.

"I guess it's 'so long U.S.A.' this time," confided Jack to his chum,
as they stood together, aft the conning tower.

"Gee, I'm glad we're off!" answered Ted. "I only hope we are going
over there with the rest of the boys."

Although they had yet to learn officially their destination, the
Brighton boys, together with other members of the crew of the _Dewey_,
took it for granted they now were on their way to Europe to join the
great American fleet and battle with the Imperial German Navy for the
mastery of the sea. It had been noised about ever since their
enlistment that Uncle Sam's submarine fleet was soon to be sent

"Going to fight the U-boat snakes with made-in-America snakes!" was
the way Bill Witt had sized up, the situation one evening when he and
the Brighton recruits had been discussing the likelihood of their
getting out on the firing line at an early date.

Jovial Bill Witt had proved such a capital good fellow that Jack and
Ted had taken a great liking to him. The three boys were great pals
by this time and were always together in their leisure moments.
Temperamental Jean Cartier, the smiling little Frenchman who had
shipped aboard the _Dewey_ as chief commissary steward, very often
joined their circle and spun the boys stories of that dear France
and his home near Marseilles.

To-night it was different. There was no levity. Every man seemed to
sense the situation and stood to his post of duty grimly conscious of
the serious business upon which he had embarked. Through the minds of
the lads flitted visions of home and campus.

Jack, dreaming of good old Brighton, was stirred out of his reverie
by his chum.

"Do you suppose we will go all the way over under our own power, or
will we be towed?" Ted was asking.

"Haven't the least doubt but that we'll stand on our own sea legs,"
replied Jack. "Don't you remember how we read in the papers early
in the war of a bunch of submarines put together in the St. Lawrence
River going all the way across to Gibraltar and thence through the
Mediterranean to the Dardanelles under their own power?"

Ted did remember, now that it had been called to his mind. It had
gripped their imagination at the time; it seemed such a wonderful
thing, the fact that submarines small enough to be carried on the
decks of huge liners had been able to cross the Atlantic alone and
unaided. They had been still further amazed by the feats of the
German undersea cargo carrier Deutschland that had made the trip to
America and back, and the U-53 that suddenly popped into Newport one
summer afternoon.

The night dragged along. Now that they were fairly off, Jack and Ted
preferred not to sleep, but rather to keep tabs on the maneuvers of
the American fleet. The sea was calm and the _Dewey_ cruised on the
surface, with her hatches open. The boys were able to stretch
themselves in a promenade on the aft deck and found the night air
invigorating as they speculated together on their mission.

They had soon to find out something of the number and character of
warships in the fleet of which the _Dewey_ was a unit. As daybreak
came stealing up over the horizon they looked about them to discern
many other warships all about them. Far to port, strung out in
single file about a half mile apart, were three huge liners that
they took to be troopships. Deployed around them were destroyers - -four
of them - -riding like a protecting body guard. Bobbing about at
intervals in the maritime procession were other submarines, their
conning towers silhouetted against the dim skyline.

Relieved of duty, Jack and Ted went below and turned in for a two-hour
sleep. When they climbed up through the forward hatch again after
breakfast it was to find the sun shining bright and the fleet moving
majestically eastward.

Chief Gunner's Mate Mike Mowrey confided to them that the _Dewey_
was, indeed, bound for European waters. Lieutenant McClure had opened
his sealed orders and learned that he was to report to the Vice-Admiral
in the North Sea. Word had been passed around to the ship's officers
and they in turn were "tipping off" their men. The _Dewey_ was stripped
for action and was to assist the destroyers in defense of the transports
in the event of an attack.

The first day out was spent in drills and target practice. Late in
the afternoon a huge warship was sighted dead ahead and for a time
there was a bit of anxious waiting aboard the _Dewey_. While it was
generally known that the German high seas fleet was bottled up in the
Kiel Canal, there was always a chance of running into a stray raider.
But very shortly the oncoming vessel broke out a flutter of flags,
indicating that she was a French cruiser, and exchanged salutations
with the commander of the American fleet.

The men of the _Dewey_ soon learned that the troopships which they
were escorting carried a number of regiments of marines and several
detachments of U.S. Regulars bound for France. Because the submarines
were slower than either the transports or the destroyers, the fleet
made slow progress.

They had been at sea over a week and were entering the war zone when,
late one afternoon, there came a sharp cry from the lookout in the
_Dewey's_ deck steering station.

"Periscope two points off the starboard!"

Instantly an alarm to general quarters was sounded. Jack and Ted,
detailed in the same gun crew, had just come on duty at the forward
gun. The _Dewey's_ wireless was flashing the news to the rest of the

The destroyers drew in closer to the troopships and began immediately
belching forth dense black clouds of smoke under forced draft that the
boys divined instantly as the smoke screens used so effectively as a
curtain to blind the eyes of the U-boats.

Turning her nose outward from the hidden transports the _Dewey_ drew
away in a wide sweeping circle to starboard.

"All hands below!" came the order. Immediately the deck guns were made
fast and the crew scrambled down through the hatches. In a few minutes,
driving ahead at full speed, the _Dewey_ was submerged until only her
periscopes showed.

All at once the crew heard a shout from the conning tower.

"There she is!" yelled Lieutenant McClure, as he stood with his eyes
glued to the periscope glass.

"U-boat driving straight ahead at the smoke curtain. Port the helm!"
he commanded.

The _Dewey_ came around sharp and, in response to the guidance of her
commander, began to ascend.

Having executed a flank movement, the _Dewey_ now was endeavoring to
engineer a surprise attack on the German submarine from the rear. To
all intents, the German commander had not yet noted the approaching
American submersible. He was going after the transports full tilt,
hoping to bore through the destroyers' smoke curtain and torpedo one
of the Yankee fleet.

Quickly the _Dewey_ dived up out of the water, the hatches were thrown
open and the gun crews swarmed on deck, carrying shells for their
guns. Jack and Ted followed Mike Mowrey on deck and dropped into
position behind "Roosey." Gazing ahead they could make out the German
periscope and its foamy trail.

"Fire on that periscope," ordered Lieutenant McClure.

The U-boat was not more than nine hundred yards away, according to the
_Dewey's_ range-finder, and apparently yet unconscious of the proximity
of the American submarine. In a moment the gun was loaded and ready
for firing.

"Bang!" she spoke, and then every eye followed the shot. Commander
McClure had jumped up on the conning tower and was hugging the periscope
pole. There was a moment's silence before he spoke.

"A little short, boys," he called. "Elevate just a little more - -you've
nearly got the range."

Again the gun crew leaped into action.

"Hurry, boys! he sees us now and is beginning to submerge!" yelled the
young lieutenant as he followed the U-boat through his glasses.

Again "Roosey" spoke, and this time with an emphatic "crack" that boded
ill for any luckless human who might get within the line of its
screaming shell fire.

"O-o-o-oh, great!" cried Lieutenant McClure an instant later as he
peered more intently through his glasses.

Of a sudden the periscope disappeared from the crest of the sea as
though wiped out completely by the explosion of the _Dewey's_ shell.

"No doubt of it, boys; you ripped off that periscope," announced
McClure, with an air of finality.

At their commander's words the gun crew burst into cheers. The
submersible's wireless was singing out a message of good cheer to
the American fleet. It was only too evident that the enemy U-boat had
been crippled and put completely to rout by the daring maneuvers and
deadly gunfire of the _Dewey_.

"Who said the Yanks couldn't stop their pesky undersea wasps?" chattered
Bill Witt joyously. "If they just let us loose long enough we'll show
'em how to kill poison with poison."

Mike Mowrey was in great glee.

"Just like a grasshopper begging for mercy on a bass hook," he said
jauntily, imitating with a crook of his finger the disappearing

Soon the fleet was off Cape Clear on the southernmost point of the
Irish coast and very shortly headed well into the English Channel.
Now every few hours the American warships were speaking one or other
of the English and French patrol ships. Great was the joy of the
boys aboard the _Dewey_ when first they beheld an American destroyer
out on the firing line.

"Union Jack and French tricolor look pretty good; but none of them
makes a fellow's blood tingle like the Stars and Stripes; eh, chum?"
queried Jack, as he surveyed an American destroyer dashing along in
fine fettle. And Ted heartily agreed.

Off Falmouth, the transports, accompanied by three of the American
destroyers and two English "limeys " - -as the British destroyers are
known in the slang of the sea - -slipped off silently into the twilight.
The American infantry and marines were to be landed "somewhere in
France." Jack and Ted viewed the departure with mingled pride and

"Reckon they will be in the trenches before long," ventured Ted.

"Frisking bean balls at the Fritzes," snapped Bill Witt with a chuckle
as he joined his mates.

And now the submarine fleet continued on its way into the North Sea.
An American destroyer, two English "limeys" and a French vessel of
the same type were to escort the Yankee subs the rest of the way.
By morning the _Dewey_ had slipped through the Strait of Dover and
emerged at last into the North Sea - -the field of her future activities!

There, in due time, the subs reported to the American admiral. Without
any delay they were detailed for duty in the vast arena stretching
down the Strait of Dover northward to the Norwegian coast - -from
Wilhelmshaven to the east coast of England and Scotland.

Provisioned and refueled after an inspection and test of her engines,
the _Dewey_ lost no time in getting out on the firing line. London
papers, brought on board while the Yankee submersible rested in the
English naval station at Chatham, told of a daring raid by German
light cruisers on the east coast of England only the night before.
Eluding the allied patrol ships, the raiders had slipped through the
entente lines and bombarded a number of coast towns, escaping finally
in a running fight with English cruisers.

"That was before we got over here," said Bill Witt with a show of irony
as he read the meager dispatch in the London Times. "Wait till we
Yanks meet up with the Huns!"

An opportunity came shortly. One night, little more than a week after
the _Dewey_ had put out into the North Sea, she ran plumb into a huge
warship. The little submarine had taken a position about twenty miles
directly west of the great German stronghold at Heligoland in a lane
likely to be traveled by any outcoming warships.

Executive Officer Cleary, alone in the conning tower, had suddenly
been apprised of the approach of the vessel by a message from the
wireless room. The _Dewey_ was floating in twenty feet of water with
only her periscopes, protruding above the surface. Hardly had he gazed
into the glass before he made out dimly the outlines of the approaching

At once the crew was sounded to quarters.

"German raider!" the muffled cry ran through the ship.



As the _Dewey_ settled into the water. Lieutenant McClure and his
executive officer peered intently though the periscopes, hoping to
catch sight of the unknown craft and speculating on her nationality.
The sky was flecked with clouds and there was no convenient moon
to aid the submarine sentinel - -an ideal night for a raid! "Little
Mack," as the crew had affectionately named their commander, was in
a quandary as to whether the approaching vessel was friend or foe.

"We'll lie right here and watch him awhile," he told his executive
officer. "Pretty soon he'll be close enough for us to get a line
on his silhouette."

It had been an interesting revelation to the Brighton boys soon after
their entry into the navy to learn that each ship was equipped with a
silhouette book. By means of this it was possible to tell the
vessels of one nation from another by the size and formation of their
hulls, their smokestacks and general outline. Each officer had to be
thoroughly well informed on the contents of the book.

Quietly, stealthily the hidden submarine awaited the approach of her
adversary, for it seemed only too certain that the ship that had
suddenly come dashing up out of the east was out of Cuxhaven or
Wilhelmshaven, and had but a short time before passed under the
mighty German guns on Heligoland.

Chief Gunner Mowrey and his crew in the torpedo chamber forward were
signaled to "stand by the guns ready for action," which meant in this
case the huge firing tubes and the Whitehead torpedoes. Jack and Ted
fell into their places, stripped to the waist, and making sure that
the reserve torpedoes were ready for any emergency.

By adjusting the headpiece of the ship's microphone to his ears Chief
Electrician Sammy Smith kept close tabs on the approaching vessel
with the underwater telephone. With the receivers to his hears he
could hear plainly the swish of the vessel's propeller blades as she
bore down upon the floating submarine. With his reports as a basis
for their deductions, the _Dewey's_ officers were able to figure out
the position of the mystery ship and to tell accurately the distance
between the two vessels.

"Reckon he'll be dead off our bow in a minute or so," observed Cleary
as he completed another observation based on Smith's latest report.

McClure sprang again to the periscope.

"Yes, we ought to get a line on him soon enough now," was his rejoinder.

For a moment the two officers studied the haze of the night sea
around them, unable yet to discern the form of the approaching vessel.
And then came a huge specter, looming up directly off the starboard
quarter of the _Dewey_ in the proportions of a massive warship.

"Looks like a German cruiser," said the American lieutenant as he
gripped the brass wheel of the periscope and gave himself intently
to the task of divining the identity of the unknown ship.

Cleary was making observations at the reserve periscope, the two

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Online LibraryJames R. DriscollThe Brighton Boys with the Submarine Fleet → online text (page 2 of 11)