Robert L. Drake.

The Boy Allies with the Victorious Fleets The Fall of the German Navy online

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"It depends," said Jack. "If the armistice is signed to-day, we'll
probably get the word immediately; but if it stretches out for a day or
two, we probably won't"

"I guess that's about the size of it," Frank admitted.

All during the day excitement aboard the Essex, and all other vessels
patrolling the North Sea, for that matter, was at fever heat. While every
man knew that there was little likelihood of receiving news until long
after dark, each one nevertheless lived in hopes.

Nevertheless, patrol work was still being done carefully. It had become an
axiom of a British sailor that a German was not to be trusted - that when
he appeared the least dangerous, it was time to watch him more carefully.
Consequently, in spite of the impending armistice, the vigilance of the
British fleet was not relaxed.

Six o'clock came, and seven; and still there had been no word from the
scene of the armistice conference. At eight o'clock Frank said:

"I don't know what we are sitting up for. Something must have gone wrong
again. If the armistice had been signed we would know something of it by
this time."

"Hold your horses," said Jack. "I'm just as anxious as you are, but there
is no use getting excited about it."

"Well," said Frank, "if we haven't heard something by nine o'clock, I'm
going to turn in."

But at nine o'clock no word had been received.

"I know we shall hear nothing to-night," said Frank, rising, "so I'm going
to tumble into my bunk."

"Help yourself," said Jack, looking up from a book he was reading. "I'll
wait a little longer."

Frank retired to his own cabin and was soon asleep. At ten o'clock, no
word having been received, Jack put down his book and rose.

"Frank may be right," he told himself. "At all events, I may as well turn
in. My remaining up won't alter the facts, whatever they are."

He undressed, extinguished the light in his cabin and climbed into bed.

Aboard practically every ship in the fleet, almost the same scenes were
enacted that night. Officers and men alike remained up for hours, awaiting
possible word that the armistice had been signed. But at midnight no word
had been received, and while the big ships moved about their patrol work,
the men slept - those of them who had no duties to perform at that hour.
Only the officers and members of the crew watch, and the night radio
operators, remained awake.

To Jack it seemed that he had just closed his eyes when he was aroused by
the sound of the Essex's signal whistle. It screeched and screeched. Jack
leaped from his bunk and scrambled into his clothes.

"Something wrong," he muttered. "Wonder why they didn't call me?"

He hurried on deck.

Frank, in his cabin, also had been aroused by the noise. He, too, sprang
into his clothes and hurried on deck.

There the first thing that his eyes encountered was a circle of figures,
with hands joined, dancing about the bridge and yelling at the top of
their voices. Among them was Jack, who, for the moment, seemed to have
forgotten the dignity that went with his command. Also, the shrill signal
whistle continued to give long, sharp blasts. Frank looked at Jack in pure

"Must have gone crazy," he muttered.

He hurried to the bridge and standing behind the dancing figures, caught
Jack by the coat as he whirled by.

"I say," he demanded. "What's the meaning of this? Have you gone mad?"

Jack stopped and broke away from the circle which danced on without him.

"Almost," said Jack, in answer to Frank's question, "and with good

"What - " began Frank.

"By George! Can't you think?" demanded Jack.

Gradually comprehension dawned on Frank.

"You mean - " he began again.

"Of course, I mean it," shouted Jack. "Why else do you think I'd be
dancing around here like a whirling dervish? Come on and join the crowd.
The armistice has been signed!"

"Hurrah!" shouted Frank.

A moment later he was circling madly about the bridge with the others.



ALTHOUGH the armistice had now been officially signed and fighting had
ceased, under orders from Admiral Beatty, commander of the Grand Fleet,
every ship was still stripped for action. While it appeared that
everything was open and above-board, the British admiral intended to take
no chances. He recalled other German treachery and he was not at all sure
in his own mind that the enemy might not attempt some other trick.

Two days after the signing of the armistice, upon instructions from the
admiralty, Admiral Beatty got in touch by wireless with the German fleet
commander in Helgoland, Admiral Baron von Wimpfen. With the latter Admiral
Beatty was to arrange for the surrender for such portions of the German
High Seas Fleet as had been decided upon by Marshal Foch and the German
armistice commission.

All day the wireless sputtered incessantly aboard the flagship, while
other ship commanders within radio distance listened to what was going on.
Jack was among these. He relieved his radio operator for the day and took
the instrument himself.

"The German fleet," ticked Admiral Beatty's flagship wireless, "will steam
forth from Helgoland on November 19 and move due west toward the English
coast, where the British fleet will be stationed to await its coming."

"Shall we dismantle our guns?" asked Admiral von Wimpfen.


"And what of the size of our crews?"

"They shall be large enough to handle the vessel. That is all. The crew of
each ship shall be reduced to the minimum."

"And how about our submarines?"

"They must be surrendered first."

"But the surrender cannot be completed in one day."

"I am aware of it," replied Admiral Beatty. "As I have instructed you, the
first of the German fleet will leave Helgoland on the night of November
19. By that I mean the submarines. They must steam on the surface. The
first flotilla to be composed of twenty-seven vessels."

"I understand," returned the German admiral.

"Very well. My ships will be stretched out in a fifty-mile line on either
side of your ships as they approach and will fire at the first sign of

"There shall be no treachery, sir. You have the word of a German admiral."

"Very well I shall acquaint you with other details from time to time."

This was the conversation that Jack heard that day.

At noon on November 18, Jack, together with other commanders, received
word from Admiral Beatty to steam toward Harwich, on the English coast,
and to take his place in the long line of ships that would be gathered
there to receive the surrender of the enemy fleet.

Excitement thrilled the crew of the Essex. They were about to witness one
of the greatest events of world history and there wasn't a man aboard who
didn't know it. Nevertheless, there was no confusion, and the Essex
steamed rapidly westward.

"Hope we get up near the front of the line," said Frank to his chum. "Also
that we are close to Admiral Beatty's flagship."

"Here too," said Jack. "It will be a sight worth seeing."


"Well, we can't kick no matter where they place us, you know. I suppose I
shall receive the necessary instructions in plenty of time."

Jack did. The instructions came the following morning, while the Essex was
still possibly a hundred miles off the English coast.

"You will report to Admiral Tyrwhitt," Jack's message read, "who will
assign you to your station."

Jack immediately got in touch with Admiral Tyrwhitt by wireless. The
latter gave his position and informed the lad that his place in line would
be next to the Admiral's flagship.

"I thought Admiral Beatty would be up toward the front," said Jack.

"He probably will," was Frank's reply. "I have it figured out like this,
from what you have told me of the fact that the submarines will be
surrendered first: Admiral Tyrwhitt probably will receive the surrender of
the U-Boats, while Admiral Beatty will receive the formal surrender of
Admiral von Wimpfen himself."

"Maybe that's it," Jack agreed.

It was well after noon when the Essex sighted the flagship of Admiral
Tyrwhitt, the Invincible, and reported for duty. Jack received
instructions to lay to just west of the flagship. He obeyed.

From time to time now other vessels appeared and reported to Admiral
Tyrwhitt and were assigned places in the long line.

Suddenly there was a cheer from the crews of the many ships. Jack glanced
across the water, as did Frank. And then the latter went wild with

Steaming majestically toward them came five great battleships flying the
Stars and Stripes.

"So the Americans will be in at the finish," said Jack.

"You bet they will," declared Frank. "We're always in at the finish."

"Well, you deserve to be this time, I guess," said Jack with a smile.

"We always deserve to be," declared Frank.

"So?" replied Jack. "I'm not going to argue with you about it."

"It wouldn't do any good," declared Frank. "Let me tell you something. If
it hadn't been for the United States this war wouldn't be over yet."

"Is that so?" demanded Jack. "Why wouldn't it?"

"Because all the British and French together don't seem to have been able
to lick the Germans."

"Rats," exclaimed Jack. "We would have done it in time."

"Maybe so, but there is nothing sure about it It was the Americans who
turned the tide at Chateau-Thierry."

"They did some wonderful work, I'm not gain-saying that," Jack admitted.
"But I can't see that it was any more remarkable than what the Canadians
did at Vimy Ridge."

"Well," said Frank smiling, "while the Canadians are really British
subjects, nevertheless they come from the same part of the world as the
Yankees. They're made out of the same pattern."

Jack smiled.

"I seem to have spoiled my own argument there, don't I?" he said.

Frank grinned too.

"You've got to admit," he said, "that when the Americans start a thing
they go through with it. They never turn back."

"True enough," Jack admitted, "but to my mind it takes them a deuced long
time to get started."

"They just want to be sure they're right first," Frank explained.

"Have it your own way. But those five American ships approaching now look
mighty good, I'll admit that."

"I never saw a more beautiful sight," declared Frank, and he meant it.

Majestically the American warships steamed along, the leading vessel
flying the flag of Admiral Sims. They approached almost to the flagship of
Admiral Tyrwhitt and the guns of the two flagships boomed out an exchange
of salutes. Then the American flotilla slowed down and swung to leeward,
and took its places in the long line.

"Going to be quite an event this surrender, if you ask me," said Frank.

"It certainly is," Jack replied. "I understand King George and Queen Mary,
together with many other distinguished British, French, Americans and
Italians, will be present to witness the surrender."

"Including ourselves," grinned Frank.

"Well, we're probably not such big fry," Jack commented, "but we've done
as much - and a whole lot more - than a good many of them, if you ask me."

"My sentiments exactly," declared Frank. "And for that reason we're just
as much entitled to be in at the finish as any of the rest."

"More so," said Jack quietly.

"Well, we'll be there. So we have no kick coming."

All day great vessels of war continued to arrive and take their places in
the line. As far as the eye could see long gray shapes lay in the
water - two lines of them - with perhaps half a mile between. Through this
space the German warships would pass when they came out to surrender.

When the eye could no longer see ships, the presence of other vessels was
noted by smudges of smoke on the horizon. The line of ships, or rather the
two lines, Jack and Frank knew, stretched almost to the distant shore.

"Yes," said Jack, "it's going to be quite an event."

Suddenly the guns of every ship burst out with a roar. The flagship of
Admiral Beatty was approaching down the line from shore. Aboard it, every
man of the great fleet knew, besides the admiral, were King George and
Queen Mary of England; and it was the royal salute that was being fired.
Even the American ships joined in the greeting.

The guns of Admiral Beatty's flagship were kept busy acknowledging the
salutes. On every deck handkerchiefs and caps waved frantically as the
flagship passed.

As the vessel drew abreast of the Essex, Jack and Frank, standing together
on the bridge, made out the forms of the King and Queen of England on the

Both lads doffed their caps, and Jack ordered the royal salute fired by
the big guns of the destroyer.

The vessel trembled under the detonation and the crew seemed to go wild as
they cheered at the top of their voices.

The flagship passed on.

A mile or so to the east, the flagship slowed down and turned into line.

"And that's where I suppose she will remain until after the surrender,"
said Jack.

The lad was right.



Germany's sea surrender began at dawn on November 20, nine days after the
signing of the armistice.

Out in this misty expanse of the North Sea the allied battleships had
taken up their positions in a fifty-mile line of greyhounds. Aboard the
allied battleships every eye was strained to the east; every man was on
the alert. The British and allied war vessels presented a noble sight,
stretched out as far as the eye could see, and beyond.

Every ship was stripped for action. Crews were at their posts. Not until
the surrender was an accomplished fact would the vigilance of the British
naval authorities be relaxed. Not until the German vessels were safe in
the hands of the allies would British officers and crews be certain that
the enemy was not meditating trickery up to the last moment.

The destroyer Essex, commanded by Jack, as has already been said, was at
the extreme east of the long line of battleships. Beyond it were the
flagship of Admiral Beatty, flanked still farther east by three big war
vessels, and Admiral Tyrwhitt's flagship.

Jack and Frank were on the bridge of the destroyer. Other officers were at
their posts. The crews stood to their guns. Below, the engine room was the
scene of activity. A full head of steam was kept up, for there was no
telling at what moment it might be needed.

Came a shrill whistle from the farthest advanced British vessel, followed
by a cry from the lookout aboard the destroyer:

"Here they come!"

As the red sun rose above the horizon the first submarine appeared in
sight. Soon after seven o'clock, twenty-seven German submarines were seen
in line, accompanied by two destroyers. These latter were the Tibania and
the Serra Venta, which accompanied the flotilla to take the submarine
crews back to Germany.

All submarines were on the surface, with their hatches open and their
crews standing on deck. They were flying no flags whatever, and their guns
were trained fore and aft in accordance with previous instructions from
Admiral Beatty.

Until the moment that they had sighted the first ship of the British
fleet, the German flag had flown from the mastheads of the various
undersea craft, but they had been hauled down at once when the allied war
vessels came into view.

The leading destroyer, in response to a signal from Admiral Beatty on his
flagship, altered her course slightly and headed toward the coast of

The wireless instrument aboard the destroyer Essex clattered and a few
moments later the radio operator rushed to the bridge with a message for
Jack. The latter read it quickly, then said:

"Send an O.K. to the admiral?'

"What's up, Jack?" asked Frank.

"Lower half a dozen small boats, Mr. Hetherton," instructed Jack before
replying to Frank's question, "and have them manned by a score of men
each, fully armed."

"Aye, aye, sir."

Lieutenant Hetherton hurried away.

"What's up, Jack?" asked Frank again.

"I have been ordered to inspect each submarine as it comes abreast of us,"
Jack replied. "Apparently the admiral still fears treachery. I'll remain
aboard here, and leave the work to you and the other officers."

This was done. As each submarine drew up with the Essex she was boarded by
a score of the Essex's men. Some stood guard at the hatches with weapons
held ready, while an officer and the others of the crew went below for a
hurried trip of inspection, searching them diligently for "booby traps,"
and other signs of treachery.

This necessitated a slowing down in the speed of the German craft, but at
length the work was accomplished and Frank and his men, and all others
belonging aboard the Essex, returned to their ship.

"All serene, Jack," Frank reported.

"Very well, I shall so inform the admiral."

He scribbled off a brief message, which he sent to the radio room.

Now, with the submarines well along the line, the British fleet began to
move - escorting the U-Boats toward Harwich. The fleet would return the
next day to receive the surrender of the larger enemy war vessels, but
to-day it meant to make sure that the submarines were taken safely to

There was one brief halt while the German admiral in command of the
flotilla went aboard Admiral Tyrwhitt's flagship to make formal surrender
of the submarines. He was accompanied by two members of his staff.

Admiral Tyrwhitt received him on the bridge. There were tears in the eyes
of the German admiral as he said:

"Sir, I surrender to you this submarine fleet of the Imperial German

He extended his sword.

Admiral Tyrwhitt waved back the sword and accepted the surrender in a few
brief words. The German admiral turned on his heel and walked to the rail.
There one of his officers held out his hand to a British lieutenant who
was nearby.

The latter refused it, and the German turned away muttering to himself in
his native tongue. The German admiral and his officers returned to the
destroyer, and the march of the fleets continued.

It was a procession of broken German hopes - in the van, a destroyer of the
unbeaten navy; behind, the cruel pirate craft that were to subjugate the
sea. Each of the allied warships turned, and keeping a careful lookout,
steamed toward Harwich.

As the Essex passed one of the largest submarines, which carried two 5.9
guns, Frank counted forty-three officers and men on her deck. The craft
was at least three hundred feet long.

"By George! Isn't she a whopper?" exclaimed the lad.

Jack nodded.

"She is indeed. The largest submarine I ever saw."

Near the Shipwash lightship, three large British seaplanes appeared
overhead. They were followed by a single airship. The sight of the Harwich
forces, which soon appeared in the distance, together with the seaplanes
and the airship, was a most impressive one.

Suddenly two carrier pigeons were released aboard one of the captured

A shock ran through the officers and crew of every allied vessel in sight.
Apparently something was wrong. Sharp orders rang out. But the matter
passed over. It was explained that the pigeons had been released merely to
carry back to Germany the news that the surrender had been made.

Nevertheless, the act called forth a vigorous protest from the flagship of
the British commander-in-chief.

"Another act like that and I shall sink you," was Admiral Beatty's

Still ten miles off shore, the procession came to a halt. Feverish
activity was manifest aboard the British vessels. Small boats were lowered
and put off toward the submarines. These carried British crews that were
to take over the vessels and conduct them to port. As fast as a British
crew took possession, the German crews were transferred to the German
destroyers there for the purpose of taking them back to Germany.

Then the procession moved toward Harwich again.

As the boats went through the gates into Harwich harbor, a white ensign
was run up on each of them, with the German flag flying underneath.

Before being removed to the destroyers, which were to carry them back,
each submarine commander, who were the only Germans left aboard the
vessels as they passed into the harbor, was required to sign a declaration
that his submarine was in perfect running order, that his periscope was
intact, the torpedoes unloaded and the torpedo head safe.

Despite orders issued to the Harwich forces in advance, to the effect that
no demonstration must be permitted in the city after the surrender of the
German fleet, wild cheering broke out on the water front as the
submarines, escorted by the great British warships, steamed into the

Military police cleared the water front of the dense throng that had
gathered, but the best efforts they put forth were unable to still the
bedlam that had broken loose.

Commanders of the British ships had difficulty in restraining cheers by
their crews and later by the Harwich forces themselves when the fleet of
captured submarines was turned over to Captain Addison, the commandant at
that port.

Harbor space for the surrendered U-Boats had been provided in advance,
and the vessels were now piloted to these places, where they were placed
under heavy guard.

This work took time, and it was almost dark before the last submarine had
been escorted to its resting place.

All day crowds thronged the streets of Harwich, cheering and yelling
madly. In vain the military authorities tried to stop the celebration. As
well have tried to shut out the sound of thunder in the heavens. At last
the authorities gave it up as a bad job, and joy and happiness ran rampant
and unrestrained.

It was a glorious day for England, and thousands of persons from London
and the largest cities of the island had hurried to Harwich to witness the
formal surrender of the fleet and its internment. All night the thousands
paraded the streets of the little village, the celebration seeming to grow
rather than to diminish as the early morning hours approached.

So passed the bulk of Germany's undersea fighting strength into the hands
of Great Britain and her allies. No longer would they terrorize with their
ruthless warfare. They were safe at last. The fangs of the undersea
serpents had been drawn.

And on the night of November 20, 1918, thus made harmless, they lay
quietly in the harbor of Harwich, England, above them flying the Union



November 21! This was to be a day, perhaps, more historic than the one
that preceded it, for on this day was to be surrendered to the allied
fleet the bulk of the great war vessels that comprised the Imperial German

Heading the great British flotilla that moved out to sea again was the
super-dreadnaught the Queen Elizabeth, Admiral Beatty's flagship, aboard
which were King George and Queen Mary, as they had been the day before.

Following the first twenty-five British ships steamed the American
squadron, Admiral Rodman, aboard the dreadnaught New York, showing the
way. Following the New York were the Florida, Wyoming, Texas and Arkansas.
Behind the Americans trailed a pair of French cruisers, followed in turn
by a few Italian vessels, after which came the remainder of the great
British fleet.

So the flotilla moved out again and took up the positions they had held
the day before. Again every eye was strained to catch sight of the first
German warship. And at last came the cry, sounding much as it had on the
preceding day:

"Here they come!"

The German fleet that approached now came much more swiftly than had the
flotilla of undersea craft. This time the halt was made while the German
flagship was abreast of the Queen Elizabeth. Admiral Baron von Wimpfen put
off for Admiral Beatty's vessel in a launch.

Admiral Beatty received the German admiral on the bridge of the Queen
Elizabeth, with him were King George and Queen Mary. Admiral von Wimpfen
made the formal declaration of surrender and it was accepted by the
British admiral without ostentation.

The German fleet thus turned over to Admiral Beatty consisted of
approximately one hundred and fifty vessels of all classes, including
dreadnaughts, battleships, cruisers and destroyers. Slowly these giant
vessels fell into line now and steamed toward Harwich, the British ships,
still cleared for action, accompanying them and watching carefully for the
signs of treachery.

But no such signs showed themselves. No longer were the Germans thinking
of fight. They had been decisively beaten, and they knew it. Apparently
they considered themselves lucky to get off so easily.

Still some distance off-shore, the crews of the German ships were

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Online LibraryRobert L. DrakeThe Boy Allies with the Victorious Fleets The Fall of the German Navy → online text (page 11 of 12)