Robert L. Drake.

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

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submarines the Germans can get across."

"So I would," was Lord Hastings' reply, "but for the fact that some
officials of the admiralty are opposed to it."

"Opposed?" exclaimed Jack. "And why, sir?"

"Because they labor under the delusion that such a warning would throw the
people of the United States into a panic and would prevent the sending of
additional troops to France."

"What a fool idea! By George!" exclaimed Frank, "what do they think the
American people are made of?"

"You'll have to ask them," was Lord Hastings' answer to this question.
"For my own part, I feel that it is hardly fair to keep this information
from the American authorities."

"I should say it isn't fair," declared Frank.

"I agree with you," said Jack. "But just where do Frank and I come in,
sir?"

"I'll make that plain to you very quickly," replied Lord Hastings.

He drew a paper from his pocket and passed it to Jack.

"Here," he said, "is your commission as captain of H.M.S. Brigadier." He
passed a second paper to Frank. "This," he continued, "is your commission
as first officer of the same vessel. Now, through channels known only to
myself, I have induced the admiralty to send you to America with certain
papers for Secretary Daniels of the navy department. At the same time, I
have other personal papers which I shall have you deliver to the secretary
of the navy for me. These will acquaint him with the facts I have just
laid before you."

"I see, sir," said Jack. "But, if you will pardon my asking, what will
happen to you sir should it be found out you have acted contrary to the
wishes of the admiralty majority?"

Lord Hastings shrugged his shoulders disdainfully.

"What's the difference?" he wanted to know. "Our allies must be warned."

"I agree with you, sir," declared Jack.

"And I, sir," said Frank.

"It is possible," said Lord Hastings, "that should I take the matter up
with the King or with the war ministry I might get action; but that would
take time, and I want this message delivered at the earliest possible
moment. Should I entrust it to the cables, under the circumstances, there
is nothing certain of its arrival."

"I see, sir," said Jack. "Then you may be sure that I shall deliver the
message personally to Secretary Daniels."

"It is well," said Lord Hastings. "I knew I could depend upon you boys."

"Always, sir," replied Jack simply.

"Then be off with you," said Lord Hastings, rising. "You can go aboard
your ship to-night. Here is the message I wish delivered to the American
secretary of the navy," and he passed a second paper to Jack. "The
admiralty message you are to take will probably reach you some time in the
morning, together with your sailing orders."

Lord Hastings extended his hand.

"Good-bye and good luck," he said.

Jack and Frank shook hands with him and took their departure.

"I'll be glad to get back to America if only for a short time," said
Frank, as they walked toward the water front.

"I won't mind another look at the United States myself," Jack declared.
"It looks like a pretty good country to me, from what I saw of it last
trip. Almost as good as England, I guess."

"Almost?" repeated Frank. "Say, let me tell you something. The United
States is the greatest country under the sun and don't you forget it. You
Johnny Bulls seem to think that England is the only spot on the map."

"Well," returned Jack with a smile, "it strikes me that you boast
considerably about your own land."

Frank's face reddened a trifle.

"Maybe I do," he admitted, "but it's worth it."

"So is England," said Jack quietly.

"By George! So it is, Jack," said Frank. "Maybe it is a fact that I talk
too much sometimes."

"No 'maybes' about it," declared Jack. "It's just a plain fact."

"Look here," said Frank, somewhat nettled, "you may be my boss aboard
ship, but right now, with no witnesses present to hear what I say, I'll
say what I like."

"Come, come, now," said Jack with a smile, "don't get all out of humor
just because I joke you a little bit."

Frank grinned.

"Well, then don't always thinks I'm angry just because I make a hot
reply," he said.

Jack let it go at that.

"Well, here we are at the water front," he said a few moments later, "and
if I'm not mistaken that's the Brigadier about a hundred yards off shore
there."

"That's the Brigadier, all right," said Frank, "I can see her name
forward even at this distance. By George! but the camouflage artists have
certainly done a good job on her."

"So they have," Jack agreed. "But we may as well go aboard."

They commandeered a small boat and rowed rapidly to the Brigadier. Jack
swung himself up on deck and Frank climbed up behind him.

A young lieutenant greeted Jack respectfully after a quick glance at the
latter's bars.

"What can I do for you, sir?" he asked.

"You may go below and tell the engineer to get steam up immediately,"
replied Jack. "We may not sail before morning, but I may desire to leave
before."

"Very well, sir," replied the young officer, "but may I ask who you are,
sir?"

"Certainly," replied Jack, "I'm the commander of this ship, Captain
Templeton. This is Mr. Chadwick, my first officer. What is your name,
sir?"

"Hetherton, sir, second officer of the Brigadier."

"Very good, Lieutenant. You shall stay on here as second officer until
further notice. Now below with you."

Lieutenant Hetherton disappeared.

"I guess he won't ask many more questions," said Frank grimly.

"Perhaps not," said Jack. "Now, Mr. Chadwick, will you be so kind as to
take the deck while I go to my cabin."

Frank seemed about to remark upon Jack's sudden change in manner. Then he
thought better of it and walked off, grumbling to himself.

"Wonder what he's in such an all-fired rush about? He's not wasting any
time, that's sure."

He took the deck. Ten minutes later Lieutenant Hetherton reported to him,
saluting at the same time.

"Engineer says he'll have steam up in two hours, sir."

"Very well," replied Frank, returning the salute. "Will you kindly take
the deck, Lieutenant Hetherton? I'm going below."

Lieutenant Hetherton took the deck, and thus relieved, Frank went below
and sought out Jack's cabin.

"Now," he said, "I'll find out what all this rush is about."

Without the formality of a knock, he went in.




CHAPTER IV

THE START


Inside Jack's cabin, Frank found his commander and chum engaged in
conversation with the engineer officer, who had sought his new commander
immediately after giving instructions below. He saluted Frank as the lad
entered.

"My first officer, Lieutenant Chadwick, Mr. Winslow," Jack introduced
them. "I am sure you will get along together."

"So am I, sir," agreed the engineer. "And when shall we be moving, sir?"

"I can't say, exactly," replied Jack. "Probably not before morning, but I
wish to be ready to leave on a moment's notice."

"Very well, sir," said the engineer, "As I said before, I'll have steam up
in two hours."

"Do so, sir."

The engineer saluted and left Jack's cabin.

Jack turned to Frank.

"Now," he said, "what are you doing here? I thought I left you to take the
deck?"

"I turned the deck over to Hetherton," replied Frank with a grin. "I
wanted to find out what all this rush is about?"

"Don't you know it's bad form to ask questions of your commander?" Jack
said severely.

"Maybe it is," Frank agreed, "but I just wanted to find out."

"Well, I wouldn't do it in front of any of the other officers or the men,"
said Jack. "It's bad for the ship's discipline. However, I'll tell you, I
just wanted to have things ready, that's all. Come, we'll go on deck."

They ascended to the bridge. Jack addressed Lieutenant Hetherton.

"Pipe all hands on deck for inspection, Lieutenant," he ordered.

Lieutenant Hetherton passed the word. A moment later men came tumbling up
the companion way and fell into line aft. Jack and Frank walked forward to
look them over. Jack addressed a few words to the men.

"I've just taken over command of the Brigadier," he said. "To-morrow
morning, or sooner, we shall sail, our destination temporarily to be known
only to myself. I believe that I may safely promise you some action before
many days have passed."

A hearty British cheer swept the ship.

"Hurrah!" cried the men.

A few moments later Jack dismissed them. Then the officers returned to the
bridge, where Jack told off the watches.

"Now," he said, "I'll have to look over the ship."

Frank accompanied him on his tour of inspection. They found everything
absolutely clean and ship-shape. The muzzles of the big guns were shining
brightly beneath their coat of polish. After the inspection, Jack and
Frank went below for a look at the ship's papers.

The Brigadier was a small destroyer, not more than 200 feet long. It had a
complement of 250 men, officers and crew; carried two batteries of 9-inch
guns in turrets forward and aft and was equipped with three 2-inch torpedo
tubes. It was not one of the latest of British destroyers, but still it
was modern in many respects.

"A good ship," said Jack, after a careful examination of the papers. "As
to speed, we should get twenty-three knots on a pinch. Her fighting
equipment is excellent, everything is spick and span, and I was impressed
with the officers and crew. Yes, she is a good ship."

"And you're the boss of the whole ranch, Jack," said Frank. "Think of it.
Less than four years ago you knew nothing at all of naval tactics, and now
you're in command of a British destroyer. By George! I wouldn't mind
having your job myself."

Jack smiled.

"Never mind," he said. "You'll get yours some day. I've just been more
fortunate, that's all. Besides, I knew something of navigation before you
did, and while you have mastered it now, I had a long start."

"That's true enough," Frank admitted, "but at the same time you are
considerably more fit for the job than I am. Another thing. I don't know
that I would trade my berth here for a command of a ship."

Jack looked his surprise.

"Why?" he asked.

"Because it would separate us," was Frank's reply. "We've been together
now since the war began, almost. I hope that we may see it through
together."

"Here, too," declared the commander of the Brigadier, "but at the same
time you should not let a matter of friendship stand between you and what
may be your big opportunity."

"Oh, I'd probably take the job if it were offered me," said Frank. "I'm
just hoping the offer will not be made; that's all."

The lads conversed for some moments longer. Then Frank looked at his
watch.

"My watch," he said quietly. "I'll be going on deck."

"Right," said Jack. "Call me if anything happens."

"Yes, sir," said Frank, saluting his commander gravely.

Jack grinned.

"By Jove! It seems funny to have you talk like that to me," he said. "At
the same time I suppose it must be done for the sake of discipline.
However, it is not necessary in private."

"Nevertheless," said Frank, "I had better stick to it or I'm liable to
forget in public some time."

"Well, maybe you're right," said Jack.

Frank turned on his heel and went on deck, where he relieved Lieutenant
Hetherton, who had been on watch.

"Nothing to report, sir," said Lieutenant Hetherton, saluting.

"Very well, sir," was Frank's reply, as he, too, saluted.

It was after midnight, and Frank's watch was nearing its end when the
lookout on the port side called:

"Boat off the port bow, sir."

Frank advanced to the rail. A moment later there was a hail from the
water.

"What ship is that?'

"His Majesty's Ship Brigadier," Frank called back.

"I'm coming aboard you," said the voice from the darkness. "Lower a
ladder."

Frank gave the necessary command. A few moments later a man attired in the
uniform of a British captain came over the side. He approached Frank, who
was barely visible in the darkness.

"Captain Templeton?" he asked.

"No, sir. I'm Lieutenant Chadwick. A moment, sir, and I'll call the
captain."

"If you please," said the visitor.

Frank passed the word for the quartermaster, who arrived within a few
moments.

"Call Captain Templeton," Frank directed.

Jack arrived on deck a few moments later and exchanged greetings with his
visitor. The latter produced a packet of papers.

"From the admiralty," he said. "You will know what to do with them."

Jack took the papers and stowed them in his pocket.

"Yes, sir," he said.

"That is all, then," said the visitor. "I shall be going."

He stepped to the side of the vessel and disappeared.

"This means," said Jack, after the other had gone, "that we can sail any
time now."

"Then why not at once?" asked Frank.

"You anticipated me," replied Jack. "Will you kindly pipe all hands on
deck, Mr. Chadwick?"

Frank passed the word.

Sleepy men came tumbling from their bunks below. All became bustle and
hurry aboard the Brigadier. Jack himself took the bridge. Frank stood
beside him. Other officers took their places.

"Man the guns!" came Jack's order.

It was the lad's intention to overlook nothing that would protect the ship
should it encounter an enemy submarine en route, and, as the lad knew, it
was just as possible they would encounter one in the English Channel as
elsewhere.

For, despite all precautions taken by British naval authorities, enemy
submarines more than once had crept through the channel, once penetrating
Dover harbor itself, where they had wreaked considerable damage before
being driven away by British destroyers and submarine chasers.

A few moments later Jack signaled the engine room.

"Half speed ahead."

Slowly the Brigadier slipped from her anchorage and moved through the
still waters of the harbor. Directly she pushed her nose into the channel,
then headed east.

"Full speed ahead!" Jack signaled the engine room.

The Brigadier leaped forward.

"Better turn in, Jack," said Frank. "It's Thompson's watch."

"No, I'll stick until we reach the Atlantic," returned Jack.

"Then I'll stick along," said Frank.

This they did.

It was hours later when the Brigadier ran clear of the channel and
breasted the heavy swell of the Atlantic. Jack spoke to Thompson, the
third officer.

"I'm going to turn in," he said. "If anything happens, call me at once."

"Very well, sir," was the third officer's reply.

He saluted briefly. Jack and Frank went below.

"Come in a moment before you turn in, if you wish," Jack said to Frank.

"May as well," replied the latter. "I don't feel like turning in for an
hour yet."

"Well, you can't keep me out of bed that long," declared Jack. "I've got
to be stirring before you go on watch again. But I thought we might talk a
few moments."

Nevertheless, it was an hour later that Frank went to his own cabin. He
turned in at once and was soon fast asleep.

On the other hand, sleep did not come to Jack so soon. For an hour or more
he lay in his bunk, reviewing the events of the past and his
responsibilities of the present.

"It's a big job I have now," he told himself. "I hope I can carry it
through successfully."

But he didn't have the slightest doubt that he could. Jack's one best
characteristic was absolute confidence in himself.




CHAPTER V

A RESCUE


H.M.S. Brigadier was steaming steadily along at a speed of twenty knots.
Jack himself held the bridge. Frank and Lieutenant Hetherton, who stood
nearby, were discussing the sinking several days before of a large allied
transport by a German submarine in the Irish sea.

"She was sunk without warning, the same as usual," said Hetherton.

"The Germans never give warning any more," replied Frank, "Of course, the
reason is obvious enough. To give warning it would be necessary for the
submarine to come to the surface, in which case the merchant ship might be
able to place a shell aboard the U-Boat before she could submerge again.
So to take time to give warning would be a disadvantage to the submarine."

"At the same time," said Hetherton, "it's an act of barbarism to sink a
big ship without giving passengers and crew a word of warning."

"Oh, I'm not defending the German system," declared Frank. "I am just
giving you what I believe is the German viewpoint."

"Nevertheless," said Hetherton, "it's about time such activities were
stopped."

"It certainly is. But it seems that the U-Boats are growing bolder each
day."

"It wouldn't surprise me," declared Lieutenant Hetherton, "to hear almost
any day that U-Boats had crossed the Atlantic to prey on shipping in
American waters."

Frank looked at the second officer sharply. He was sure that Jack had not
divulged the real reason for their present voyage, and he had said nothing
about the matter himself.

"Just a chance remark, I guess," Frank told himself. Aloud he said: "I
hardly think it will come to that."

"I hope not," replied Hetherton, "but you never can tell, you know."

"That's true enough, too," Frank agreed, "but at the same - "

He broke off suddenly as he caught the sharp hail of the forward lookout.

"Ship in distress off the port bow, sir," came the cry.

Jack was at once called to the deck.

Instantly Frank and Lieutenant Hetherton sprang to Jack's side. At almost
the same moment the radio operator emerged from below on the run.

"Message, sir," he exclaimed, and thrust a piece of paper in Jack's hand.
Jack read it quickly. It ran like this:

"Merchant steamer Hazelton, eight thousand tons, New York to Liverpool
with munitions and supplies, torpedoed by submarine. Sinking. Help."

"Did you get her position?" demanded Jack of the wireless operator.

"No, sir. The wireless failed before he could give it."

"Don't you think it may be the vessel ahead, sir?" asked Lieutenant
Hetherton.

"Can't tell," was Jack's reply. "It may be, in which case there are
probably more submarines about. Clear ship for action, Mr. Chadwick."

No sooner said than done.

Frank and others of the ship's officers darted hither and yon, making sure
that everything was in readiness. At the guns, the gunners grinned
cheerfully. Frank approached the battery in the forward turret.

"All right?" he asked.

"O.K., sir," replied the officer in command of the gun crew. "Show us a
submarine, that's all we ask."

"There are probably a dozen or so about here some place," returned Frank.
"Keep your eyes peeled and don't wait an order to fire if you see anything
that looks like one."

"Right, sir."

The officer turned to his men with a sharp command.

Frank continued his inspection of the ship as the Brigadier dashed toward
the vessel in distress, probably ten miles ahead.

Every man aboard the Brigadier was on the alert as the destroyer plowed
swiftly through the water. It was possible, of course, that the submarines
had made off after attacking the vessel, but there was always the
possibility that some were still lurking in the neighborhood.

"Can't be too careful," Jack told himself.

Fifteen minutes later, the lookout was able to make out more clearly the
ship ahead of them.

"Steamer Hazelton," he called to the quartermaster, who reported to Jack.

"Same vessel that sent the wireless, Frank," was Jack's comment. "We will
have to look sharp. It's more than an even bet that some of those undersea
sharks are watching for a ship to come to the rescue so they can have a
shot at her also."

"We're ready for 'em," said Frank significantly.

"All right," said Jack. "In the meantime we'll stand by the Hazelton and
see if we can lend a hand."

As the Brigadier drew closer those on deck could see signs of confusion
aboard the Hazelton. Then there arose a large cloud of smoke that for a
moment hid the Hazelton from view. This was followed by a loud explosion.

When the smoke cleared away, the water nearby was filled with struggling
figures.

"Lower the boats," shouted Jack.

Instantly men sprang to obey the command, while others of the British tars
still stood quietly behind their guns, their eyes scanning the sea.

Aboard the Hazelton, the crew, or what remained of the crew, were
attempting to lower lifeboats. Directly one was lowered safely, and loaded
to the guards with human freight. A second and a third were lowered
safely, and put off toward the Brigadier.

In the meantime, lifeboats from the destroyer had darted in among the
struggling figures and willing hands were lifting the victims to safety.
Then these, in turn, started back to the destroyer.

"I guess they're all off," said Frank to Jack.

"I hope so," was Jack's reply. "If I am not mistaken, there are women
among the survivors."

"By George! I thought I saw some myself," was Frank's answer.

Suddenly there was a crash as the forward turret guns aboard the Brigadier
burst into action. Looking ahead, Jack gave a startled cry, and no wonder.

For, from beneath the water, appeared a periscope and then the long low
outline of a German submarine came into view.

Again the Brigadier's guns crashed, but the shells did not strike home.

Before the destroyer could fire again, a gun appeared as if by magic on
the submarine's deck, and a hail of bullets was poured into the first of
the nearby lifeboats. At the same time the U-Boat launched a torpedo at
the Brigadier.

Jack gave a cry of horror at the predicament of those in the small boats.
But he did not lose his head, and at the same time maneuvered his ship out
of the path of the torpedo.

Came a hail from the lookout aft.

"Submarine off the stern, sir!"

At the same moment the battery in the Brigadier's turret aft burst into
action.

"Forward with you, Mr. Chadwick," cried Jack, "and see if you can't get
better results there. The men seem to have lost their nerve."

Frank sprang forward. Jack's words were true. It appeared that the crew in
the forward turret were so anxious to sink the first submarine that they
had not taken time to find the range.

"Cease firing!" shouted Frank as he sprang into the turret.

The order was obeyed, but there came a grumble from the men at what they
deemed such a strange command under the circumstances.

"I thought you fellows were gunners," said Frank angrily. "Smith, get the
range."

Smith did so, and announced it a moment later.

"Now," said Frank, "get your aim, men."

No longer was there confusion in the forward turret. The guns were trained
carefully.

"Ready," cried Frank. "Fire!"

"Crash!"

A moment and there was a loud cheer from the crew. The German submarine
seemed to leap high from the water, and then fell back in a dozen pieces.

Frank wasted no further time on the first submarine. Leaving the forward
turret, he dashed aft to where other guns were firing on the second
submarine. Meantime Jack, perfectly cool on the bridge, had maneuvered his
vessel out of the way of several torpedoes from the second U-Boat. But,
as he very well knew, this combat must be brought to a quick end or one
of the torpedoes was likely to find its mark.

From the deck of the second submarine, a hail of fire from a machine gun
was still being poured into the helpless lifeboats. What execution had
been done Jack had no means of telling at the moment, but he knew there
must have been some casualties.

"The brutes!" he muttered.

The duel between the submarine and the destroyer still raged. It appeared
that the commander of the submarine was a capable officer, for he had
succeeded in keeping his vessel from being struck by a shell from the
Brigadier.

In the aft turret of the Brigadier the British tars were sweating and
muttering imprecations at their inability to put a shell aboard the enemy.

"Here," said Frank, "let me get at that gun."

The crew stepped aside and the lad sighted the weapon himself. Then he
fired.

Again a cheer arose aboard the Brigadier. Frank's shot had been
successful. The shell struck the submersible squarely amidships, and
carried away the periscope.

"Fire!" cried Frank, and the other guns broke into action.

Again there was a wild cheer.

The submarine began to settle a few moments later. Men emerged from below
and sprang into the sea.

"Lower a boat!" cried Jack. "I want a few of those fellows."

A boat was lowered instantly and strong hands pulled it toward the Germans
floundering in the water.

By this time the lifeboats that had escaped the German fire came alongside
the Brigadier and the occupants climbed aboard the destroyer. These were
quickly fitted out with dry clothing. It developed that there had been
three women passengers aboard the Hazelton and all of these had been
saved. A dozen members of the crew, however, had been killed by the enemy


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Online LibraryRobert L. DrakeThe Boy Allies with the Victorious Fleets The Fall of the German Navy → online text (page 2 of 12)