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popped on deck. There it looked to me as though the
old ship had been almost blown in two. Deck-houses
and hatches were all messed up and the yacht seemed
to be slowly settling. We made for the boats only to
find them smashed, and then waited for orders.

The cry went round, "All hands save ship," and if
you hear that once you '11 never forget it. By this time
I had scooted through the yeoman's office and grabbed
enough clothing together so I could lend a hand on the
topside. It was the coolness of the officers and men
that saved us from watery graves. We tore apart every
table and door below decks to mend things until we
could make port. I don't believe the ship will ever go to
sea again, except that she may be put in good enough
shape to take us back to France from Lisbon about
the middle of February or thereabouts.

Of the destroyers which were caught offshore and



rode out the hurricane, the Reid was blown into
Oporto, severely knocked about. Her log recorded:

December lyth. Torpedo truck carried away and
washed overboard. Lost machine lathe and wherry.
Whaleboat smashed and ice-box, life-preserver locker
and vegetable locker broken loose by seas breaking
aboard. Lost life-buoy light, compass binnacle light,
guard to wheel chains, etc. 8 a.m. to noon, steaming as
in previous watch. Having serious main engine bearing
trouble, due to salt water in lubrication system. At
9 A.M. passed U.S.S. Corsair close aboard and asked
her to stand by and assist us back to Brest. (Corsair
had answered our S.O.S. from near by.) Lost sight of
Corsair at 10.30 a.m., due to rain squalls and heavy
weather. Foot of water in firemen's compartment
through hatch, and engine-room and all other com-
partments flooded.

The engine-room log of the Reid makes interest-
ing reading, for the Corsair was in much the same

Heavy sea swept over engine-room hatch at 4.30
A.M., carrying away ventilators and lathe and flooding
engine-room. Glass covering to oil manifold carried
away and settling tank flooded. Bearings running
warm. Too much water running from sea.

The Smith destroyer lost both masts and a fire-
man overboard who was rescued after an hour when
the cook swam to him with a line. The paint locker
was stove in and the yeoman's office washed out,
which meant the loss of many painful hours of
paper work. The vessel spent two weeks in dry-



dock in Brest. The Roe and the Monaghan were
nearer the coast, and although each lost a mast
they scudded for shelter in time to avoid the worst
of the blow. The Flusser and the Warrington were
badly battered and had to lay off for repairs. The
Preston limped into Lisbon, sighting the Corsair
just outside the port, and the two ships remained
there together until they could be made fit for sea

That lively historian of the Reid, Seaman (later
Lieutenant) Timothy Brown, added some bits of
life in a storm which the crew of the Corsair con-
sidered appropriate to their own unhappy hours:

As the elements continued to harry us, I could
notice a changing sentiment among certain members
of the crew. Several expressed the opinion that she
would soon break in two in the middle. It was only
a question of time. Others were too far gone to have
any opinion about anything, and these afflicted ones
lay helpless, clutching at whatever they could gain a
hold. They were attended by their close friends. Our
lawyer clung to a table and scribbled on a pad. He was
framing a poor devil's will. A brave lad from the Middle
West suggested that it might be well to throw out some
ballast — too much water was flowing through the
hatches to feel comfortable. He said we might spare a
ton or two from the forward hold which was crammed
with provisions. A deck-hand passed the buck to the
engineering department, which he said was about to
sink the ship with enough truck to outfit several auxil-
iary cruisers, including solder bars, sal ammoniac,
bolts and nuts, brass unions, rat-tail files, tallow can-



dies, and flake graphite. None of the engineering de-
partment people would give up a pound. The only
volunteer was a seaman who said, if necessary, he
could spare a guitar.

... I reached the bridge deck unobserved and was
drinking in the glorious sight. It felt fine to be so high
that nothing could hit you but the spray. I hooked
my elbow around a metal support of the searchlight
platform. The officers had no good hand-holds and
were slipping about like drunken men on roller skates.
Our captain was almost unrecognizable in a saffron-
colored slicker that hung down to his heels, and on his
head was perched a sou'wester to match. He reminded
me of the old salt who swings an enormous fish over
his shoulder and advertises cod liver oil. Our junior
lieutenant appeared to have unusually good sea legs,
for he could stand with his arms folded, shifting from
foot to foot, stolid and Napoleon-like. Our ensign was
staggering under the weight of a life-preserver and a
number of coals, all bundled up like an Eskimo, noth-
ing showing but his eyes. Our chief petty officers, hang-
ing under the wings of the chart-house, had not shaved
for days and looked as if they might have made good
if given a try-out as modern Captain Kidds. Grotesque
figures draped in horse-cloth outer clothing, topped
with hoods, aviator style, hovered wherever they could
find a corner.

Blown far away from her base port in France, the
Corsair w r as thankful to find shelter in the Spanish
harbor of Vigo as a brief respite. She could not be
called crippled, as a matter of fact, for in a rough
sea she picked up speed to twelve knots and so made
a landfall. Her condition was that of a pugilist with



a broken nose, blackened eyes, and a few teeth
missing, who still "packs a punch" and has no
idea of taking the count. The Corsair no longer
resembled a trim, taut, and orderly ship of the
American Navy, nor would her weary crew have
cared to line up for an admiral's inspection. They
wore whatever clothes they could lay hands on,
and might have spilled out of the fo'castle of a
Cardiff collier. All that really concerned them was
the hope of getting dry and eating a few regular

There were obvious reasons why Commander
Kittinger preferred to seek some other port than
Vigo in which to repair and refit for several weeks.
The American Consul warned him that the Spanish
authorities were bound by the laws of neutrality to
intern the ship until the end of the war, a fact of
which he was well aware. On the other hand, the
senior Spanish naval officer of the port waived such
formalities aside and most courteously assured the
Corsair that she would not be meddled with and
was at liberty to remain for necessary repairs and
to depart when they were completed.

Without doubting his word in the least, it was
common knowledge that pro-German sentiment
was strong in the Spanish ports and the enemy's
espionage system extremely well organized. Lisbon
was near at hand and Portugal was an active ally
of the United States. The Corsair, therefore, went
to sea, after a few hours at Vigo, and steamed into



the wide bay of the Tagus next morning and so
found a friendly destination and a people who
welcomed her with warmest hospitality to one of
the most beautiful cities of the world.

The war had touched it lightly. The contrast
with France, so tragic and worn and imperilled, was
singularly impressive. Brilliant with sunshine,
Lisbon smiled from her seven hills and her tropical
gardens, and the seafarers of the Corsair thought of
Brest, gloomy and rain-swept, given over to the
business of war, the gateway of the thronging trans-
ports which were hurrying the manhood of Amer-
ica by the million, to theblood and misery of the



I like the look of khaki and the cut of army wear,

And the men of mettle sporting it, at home and over there;

But there's something at the heart-strings that tautens when

A blue-clad sailor-man adrift, on shore leave from the fleet.

From flapping togs his sea-legs win some rhythm of old romance
That's proper to the keeper of the paths that lead to France;
For what were all the soldiers worth that ever tossed a gun,
Without the ships and sailor-men to pit them 'gainst the Hun.

His hands are often cruel cold ; his heart is of tener warm,

For in its depths he knows 't is he that shields the world from

Because I know it too, my heart beats warmer when I meet
A blue-clad sailor-man adrift, on shore leave from the fleet.

M. A. DeWolfe Howe

PORTUGUESE troops were fighting in France
and the sentiment of the people was very
strongly with the Allied cause. They realized that
the hope of ultimate victory lay in the tremendous
energy with which the United States had finally
hurled itself into the war, but there had been no
opportunity to behold and applaud the valiant
soldiers from across the seas. Now, at length, there
came into the harbor of Lisbon two war vessels of
the powerful Uncle Sam, a large and graceful yacht
and a bulldog of a destroyer, and the blue-clad
sailors who flocked ashore were the first to set foot



there since Portugal had entered the war. The
Corsair and the Preston were something more than
storm-tossed ships in quest of a haven. To Lisbon
they were a memorable event and one worthy of a

The colony of foreign diplomats and military
officers, British, French, American, Spanish, and
all the rest, accepted the entertainment of the
American officers and sailors as a social responsibil-
ity. And they were quick to recognize the fact that
in the war-time American Navy the "gob" was as
likely to be a young gentleman of manners and
education as the ensign or the lieutenant. Tactfully
and easily the barriers of shipboard discipline and
ceremony were ignored for the time, and the invita-
tions to teas, garden parties, receptions, and thea-
tres seldom raised lines of distinction between the
youthful seaman with the flat cap and the rolling
collar, and the gold-striper severely buttoned to
the neck in his service blouse. This might have
been awkward in some circumstances, but the crew
of the Corsair knew how to carry it off. They met
the loveliest girls of Lisbon and were gallantly
attentive, as was quite proper.

The American Minister to Portugal, Colonel
Thomas Birch, fairly adopted the whole ship's
company. They might have been so many long-lost
sons and nephews. The Legation belonged to them
as long as they stayed in port, and he appeared to
enjoy it all as much as they did. Captain Ross, who



was representing Gaston, Williams, and Wigmore
of New York, was ready with help, advice, and hos-
pitality, and as a host and friend the Corsair found
him true blue. The American Consul-General,
Mr. W. L. Lowrie, was also most courteous and
friendly and took particular pains to make these
American exiles feel at home.

In letters written home by one of the petty offi-
cers, you may read between the lines and conclude
that there might have been worse fates than to be
marooned in Lisbon for seven weeks:

December 24th. You cannot imagine what a sensation
it is to find yourself all of a sudden walking down fine,
broad streets with rows of palm trees, and geraniums
and other flowers in bloom. The leaves are falling now
and the rainy season is beginning, but as they have
had no rain in five months we ought not to complain.
There are many picturesque street scenes, flocks of
turkeys driven by small boys with long sticks, and if
you want a turkey you halt the procession and pick
out your bird and carry it home under your arm ; —
little donkeys almost smothered in vegetables are led
gingerly along; — everywhere women are selling fish
which are carried in baskets upon their heads. Lottery
tickets are shoved at you from every corner. A crowd
gathers wherever we American sailors stop or loiter,
and we are great curiosities. At the best hotel, the
Avenida Palace, several of us ran into a bazaar for the
benefit of the French and Portuguese war widows and
orphans. The American Minister, Colonel Birch, a
fine old boy, introduced us to all the girls, English,
French, and Portuguese. There were some beauties





among them, and although it is a long time since I
talked to a girl I sailed right in and had no trouble.

I also met the French and Chinese Ministers and
talked to them. I get along in French now and carry a
conversation with ease. One of the most attractive girls
was the daughter of the chief of the British Military
Mission, Lieutenant-General Barnardiston, a soldier
and gentleman of the finest type. He commanded the
British forces which operated with the Japanese at
Kaio Chao. Yesterday I saw them after church and
met the mother who is an American. She asked us to
tea. Four of us went and stayed two hours. The Gen-
eral was tremendously interesting, of course, but he
would have been more so if one of our men had not
tried to talk him to death.

To-morrow being Christmas, we are trimming the
ship with greens and flags and have hoisted a Christ-
mas tree clear to the top of the foremast. Mr. J. P.
Morgan, the owner, is very kindly blowing us off to a
dinner by cable, and we are looking forward to the
occasion. It is the first Christmas away from home and
I know how you'll miss us all, but it should be very
joyous because we passed through that hurricane in
safety. We have a fine large cat as a mascot and as one
of the men said, "Tommy used up eight of his nine
lives in the big blow."

January 2nd. Our gaieties continue and we are
having the best time since leaving New York. Colonel
Birch gave us a reception at the Legation to meet the
diplomatic corps. The officers and fifteen men went
from this ship. All nationalities were there, from Brazil,
Uruguay, Belgium, Spain, and of course Portuguese,
French, and English. It was great fun to meet them,
and most of the diplomatic people could talk to us in
English. We had some dancing, the first I had done



since February, and everybody was in the finest pos-
sible spirits. The girls were stunning. The Spanish
Minister is a delightful man and has spent a lot of
time in Mexico and the United States. Our host, the
genial American Minister, resembles former President
Taft in size and quality and seemed to be having the
time of his life.

New Year's Eve we were all on board ship and cele-
brated it in combination with a French destroyer
which lay alongside us. At the stroke of midnight we
banged out eight bells for the old year and eight more
for the new, and then both ships opened up their whis-
tles and we startled the Portuguese with the pan-
demonium. The Frenchies had a terrific siren. After
this outburst we sang the "Marseillaise" together and
the effect was stirring. Then we sang the "Star-
Spangled Banner," and the Portuguese sailors who had
come aboard from the Navy Yard sang their national
anthem and everybody cheered everybody else, and it
was a grand old time.

On New Year's Day I went sight-seeing with a buddy
from the ship and visited several cathedrals. In one of
them all their dead kings are tucked away, and they
lift the lid off so you can look right down at the relics
of royalty. As they have been dead for hundreds of
years they are none too attractive. We had a fine din-
ner on board ship in the middle of the day, turkey,
mince pie, etc., and another in the evening at the hotel.
It is mighty pleasant to have all these distinguished
people so polite to us and we also appreciate the atti-
tude and the courtesy of the officers of the Corsair.

January gth. Last evening six of us called on those
delightful English people, the Barnardistons. The
Spanish Minister and his two daughters were there.
The General played the piano for us and is very musi-

i 7 8


cal. Miss Barnardiston played beautifully and the
Spanish young ladies also performed. We were repre-
sented at the piano by Tibbott who upheld the honor
of the Corsair. You ought to see the row of decorations
on General Barnardiston's coat — Victorian Order,
Rising Sun of Japan, African Campaign, and so on.
Yesterday afternoon we went to tea at the Girards,
the French people. The night before we were invited
to amateur theatricals at the British Club, given to
entertain the Corsair and the Preston and the French
destroyer. It was very cleverly done. The actors were
Portuguese and the girls were very pretty. They sang,
in English, lots of American songs. Between acts they
served cake and tea and afterwards we sang the na-
tional airs. I was fussed to death to have to get up on
the stage and lead the whole outfit in the "Star-
Spangled Banner,'* giving the key, etc., but our cap-
tain made me do it. Our jolly American Minister,
Colonel Birch, gave me a wink which made me feel
more comfortable.

I went to the English church last Sunday and they
had a special service, appointed by the King, to pray
for Allied victory, and it was fine. The English always
pray for the sailors and soldiers — sailors first. They
certainly are devoted to their Navy. After church an-
other man and I went over to the Legation with
Colonel Birch and sat around in his biggest armchairs
for an hour. He treats us like princes and we can't say
too much in appreciation of all he is doing for us. He
is to give us another party next Saturday and we are
looking forward to it, for he has promised to have all
the charming Portuguese girls there. We are lucky
young sea-dogs to have tumbled into all this, and we
are having the time of our lives. I was made quarter-
master, first class, the other day, and am naturally



very much pleased. I shall be glad to get back and fin-
ish my examinations for a commission, but since the
hurricane little things like that don't bother me very
much. We have not forgotten the storm and still talk
about it — all the acts of courage and the many close

January 14th. Last night there was another dramatic
performance by the Portuguese young people, so that
the whole ship's company could see the show. This
time I sat with the pretty French girls and it seemed
almost like New York. I dropped in to call in the after-
noon. We sat in front of a log fire and it was cozy and
homelike. Their father, M. Girard, was French Min-
ister to Haiti for two years, during a revolution down
there, and had some very unpleasant experiences. The
Haitian President was dragged from the Legation and
butchered before their eyes, and other acts of savagery
committed, but our marines and bluejackets landed
soon after and promptly had the situation well in hand.

1 Ensign Schanze enjoyed himself as much as the
rest of them and described the hospitality of Lis-
bon as follows:

Here we are, still in Portugal, where we have been
undergoing extensive repairs and entertainments.
Never in all my experience away from home have I
come across people who were as strenuously cordial as
our hosts of the city of Lisbon. There are two leading
social elements, the native Portuguese and the foreign
colony. Both have gone the limit to make us welcome
and the result has been that we have never had less
than two engagements a day, most of the time three.

The usual routine runs about like this — in the
forenoon some Portuguese, French, or British officer



blows on board to take us in charge to see the points
of interest ; in the afternoon there is a tea to attend at
some one of the various homes or legations ; and in the
evening there is a dinner party followed by a theatre
party or its equivalent. These things do not simply
occur frequently. They are daily in their rotation.

We, on our behalf, make our best effort to counter
with teas on board the ship; also lunch parties and
dinners whenever we can wedge them in cross-wise.
Functions have become so numerous that the captain
has found it necessary to detail certain officers to at-
tend certain festivals daily. There have not been
enough of us to go around, even at that. This is the
first war that ever made me keep such late hours.

It should not be inferred that life was an inces-
sant round of parties, teas, and receptions for all
hands of the Corsair while at Lisbon. Many of the
young men had other inclinations and fought shy
of "the society stuff.' * The city itself was fascinat-
ing to those who liked to wander and explore with
their eyes open. In groups they loitered through
the dark and narrow streets of the ancient quarter
of the Alhama or enjoyed the noble prospect of
fine buildings and open spaces along the Tagus, or
strolled with the colorful crowds in the Praca do
Commercio and investigated the luxurious shops
and cafes of the Rua Augusta and the Rua da
Prata. Automobiles could be hired, and parties of
bluejackets might have been seen in the royal pal-
aces, the storied old churches, and the monastery
whose walls were built in 1499, on the spot where



another sailor, Vasco da Gama, had embarked on
a famous voyage two years earlier.

The water-front of every large seaport is notori-
ous for low-browed rascals who look at Jack ashore
as easy prey, and it was not in the least to the dis-
credit of the hospitality of Lisbon that a pair of
Corsair men should have run afoul of one of these
land-sharks when they first hit the beach. The busi-
ness-like manner in which the youthful seafarers
handled the matter discouraged further attempts
to molest them. One of the pair mentioned it in his

Got shore liberty and landed in jail one hour later.
The way it happened was that the driver of the car we
had chartered tried to rob us and we refused to stand
for it, so he had us pinched. We explained the case in
French to a generalissimo and he turned us loose at
once and said we were dead right. He would see that
it did n't happen again. The tough driver was laying
for us when we walked back to the ship and he tried to
get me with a knife and a machinist's hammer. Dave
stopped him, and I got a big club and we organized to
clean up, but a crowd gathered, so we decided to quit
and go on our way as a bunch of sailors from the Corsair
and Preston hove in sight and were all set to make a
battle royal of it. I knew this would get us into serious
trouble, although I did hate to let that auto bandit get
away with it, so we withdrew in good order.

Yeoman Connolly improved the opportunity to
see the sights of Lisbon and some of his impressions
ran like this:







.» -


%( '


The city is the finest I have seen in Europe, barring
Paris only. The public buildings are works of art and
you see splendid architecture everywhere. The street
cars are the most modern I have seen since leaving
home, but why should n't they be? I was sitting in a
car the other night and happened to look around at the
advertisements when I alighted on the builder's name,
u John Stephenson, Elizabeth, N.J." It made me home-
sick to see the familiar name. I did n't hesitate to tell
some of the Portuguese sitting alongside me that
Elizabeth was my home town, and they seemed very
much interested.

I was taken through one fine building yesterday by
a very distinguished-looking gentleman, elderly and
good-natured, who showed a lot of interest in me and
who introduced me to the Lord Mayor of the place
and to some of the Cabinet members. He himself is a
member of the Cabinet and one of the best-known men
in Portugal, I later learned. I walked through some of
the streets with him and his gold-headed cane, and
almost everybody bowed to him or looked at him with
awe. He understood English very well and told me a
whole lot of the history of the country. As a plain
American gob I got all I deserved, and then some.

This is a great old town. I suppose you have heard
of the revolution that is going on here. We came just in
time to see the skirmishes that are featured daily. A
funny thing occurred last night. We were loafing along

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Online LibraryRalph Delahaye PaineThe Corsair in the war zone → online text (page 12 of 20)