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in the lifeboats.

Jack assigned quarters to the victims as quickly as he was able, and then
calling his officers about him, awaited the return of the boat which had
gone after the Germans who had leaped into the sea.

"If the act I have just seen is a sample of the German heart," Jack said,
"I never want another German within sight of me so long as I live."




CHAPTER VI

CHANGED ORDERS


As the Germans came aboard - ten of them - they were herded before Jack.
They stood there sullenly, their eyes on the deck. One of them wore a
heavily braided and imposing uniform. Jack addressed him.

"You are the commander of that submarine?" he questioned.

"I was," answered the German.

"You were, what?" asked Jack sharply.

"I was the commander."

"You don't seem to catch my meaning," said Jack, taking a step forward.
"When you speak to me say 'sir.'"

"Then you shall say 'sir' to me," said the German.

"Oh, no I won't," Jack declared. "I never say sir to a murderer."

The German's eyes lighted angrily.

"It would be well to be more careful of your words," he said.

"Nevertheless," said Jack, "I repeat them. You, are a murderer, and as
such should be hanged at once. I'm not sure it is in my province to string
you up, but I'm strongly tempted to do so and take the consequences."

"But I guess you won't," sneered the German.

"Then don't try me too far," said Jack quietly. "To my mind, men like you
and your cowardly followers should be put out of the way the same as a mad
dog; and certainly there is no law against killing a dog."

"I warn you," said the German, taking a step nearer the lad, "to be more
choice in your words."

"Silence!" Jack thundered, "and don't you dare step toward me unless I
tell you to do so." He turned to Frank. "Take those men below and put them
in irons," he ordered.

Frank stepped forward to obey, and again the German commander protested.

"You can't do that," he said. "My men are prisoners of war and as such are
entitled to all the usual courtesies."

"They are, eh?" asked Jack. "Then I'll modify that order a bit,
temporarily, Mr. Chadwick, will you kindly bring irons for this man here,"
and he indicated the German officer. "I want his men and all our
passengers to see how he looks in shackles, which he should have been made
to wear long ago."

Frank hurried away. The German commander, after taking one step back at
Jack's words, stepped quickly forward again. His hand went to his side and
he produced a long knife. Then he sprang.

Jack smiled slightly, stepped quickly to one side and with his left hand
caught the German's knife arm. He twisted sharply, and the knife dropped
to the deck.

Jack released his hold and the German staggered back. Deliberately Jack
cuffed the man across the face with his right hand, then with his left.
Twice more he did this, following the German as he retreated across the
deck.

"Let that teach you," he said, "that attempting to stab a British naval
officer is very bad business. But here comes something that will teach
you more," and he pointed to Frank, who reappeared at that moment followed
by two sailors bearing heavy chains. "These irons," Jack continued, "will
show you just what is in store for you when you are landed in England.
Hold out your hands."

The German did so. Quickly handcuffs were snapped on.

"Shackle his legs," said Jack.

The sailors needed no urging. Quickly the German's legs were shackled with
the heavy iron. Jack took a couple of steps back and surveyed his
prisoner.

"If you had been dressed up in those several years ago," he said, "I've no
doubt lots of innocent women and children now at the bottom of the sea
would be alive still."

The German commander scowled, but he said nothing.

"Now, Frank," said Jack, "you will take the other prisoners below and put
them in irons. I guess our friend here will no longer object."

The German sailors were led below, where they were soon safely chained and
Frank returned to the bridge.

"Kindly pass the word for all the passengers and the crew to come on deck,
Mr. Hetherton," ordered Jack.

The second officer obeyed and soon the deck was crowded. The German
commander became the center of an angry group.

"I've just called you all here," said Jack, "that you may cast your eyes
upon one of the kaiser's paid murderers. It is men like this who have made
an outcast of Germany. Not satisfied with killing in battle, they fire on
helpless lifeboats, sending women and children as well as unarmed
noncombatants to the bottom of the sea. In fact, it is men like this, or a
man like this, who so recently took a heavy toll in lives from the crew of
the Hazelton, after the vessel had been put out of commission."

There was an angry murmur among the crowd on deck.

"Hang him," said a voice.

The German officer's face turned a chalky white.

"I'd be pleased to do so," said Jack, "were it not for the fact that I
must retain him as a prisoner of war and turn him over to the proper
authorities. However, it wouldn't surprise me a bit if he were tried for
murder and hanged, and I'm not sure that even such a fate isn't too good
for him."

"Hang him!" came a voice from the crowd again.

"No," said Jack quietly, "it can't be done. Take him away."

These last words were addressed to Lieutenant Hetherton, who stepped
forward and took the German commander by the arm.

"Come on," he said somewhat roughly.

The German commander was led below, where he was made secure.

The passengers and crew rescued from the Hazelton dispersed and Jack held
a consultation with his officers.

"If we were not so far from land," he said, "I would land those we have
rescued. As it stands, I am under rush orders, so I am afraid I shall have
to take them to America."

"That cannot be helped, sir," said Lieutenant Hetherton. "I am sure they
will understand that, sir."

"I think so, too," agreed Frank.

"At all events," said Jack, "there seems nothing else to do under the
circumstances. Ring for full speed ahead, Mr. Chadwick."

Frank did so.

At that moment the radio operator again emerged from below and hurried to
Jack.

"Admiralty orders, sir," he said, passing a slip of paper to the commander
of the Brigadier.

Jack read the paper quickly, then turned to Frank with a sharp command.

"Slow to half speed," he said. "Then come about and head for Dover."

Frank asked no questions. He knew that Jack would explain the reason for
the change soon enough. Besides, the matter was none of his business. He
gave the necessary orders. Jack turned to the second officer.

"Will you take the bridge, Mr. Hetherton? Mr. Chadwick, please come to my
cabin."

The lads went below together.

"Now," said Frank, after he had taken a seat, "what's it all about?"

"Well," was Jack's reply, "the admiralty wants the Brigadier back in
Dover. That's all I know about it. I'm instructed to report to Lord
Hastings immediately on my return."

"No other explanation?"

"No."

"Funny," commented Frank. "Must be something up, though."

"So it would seem. However, I guess we'll learn soon enough. Hope they are
not going to deprive me of my command."

"No fear, I guess," declared Frank.

The return trip was made in record time and without incident. Jack saw the
victims of the Hazelton landed safely and then, turning the ship over to
Lieutenant Hetherton, went ashore with Frank to report to Lord Hastings.

The latter greeted them with a wry smile.

"It seems that my warning to America is not to be delivered after all," he
said.

"And why, sir?" asked Jack. "Are you not still convinced that the warning
is necessary?"

"I am," declared Lord Hastings, "but, as I told you, I was sending the
warning without knowledge of the Admiralty. Naturally, then, when it was
announced that the Brigadier was to be recalled to take part in other
operations, I could not announce that you carried secret dispatches from
me."

"I see," said Jack. "And what is the nature of the other operation?"

"It is a desperate undertaking," said Lord Hastings slowly, "and one that,
at first, I was tempted to advise against. And still, if successful it
will do much toward insuring an allied victory."

"Since when have you become so cautious, sir?" asked Frank with a smile.

"It's not a matter of caution, Frank," replied Lord Hastings. "It's simply
a matter of prudence. In a word, the Admiralty is determined to block the
harbors of Ostend and Zeebrugge."

Frank was on his feet and clapping his hands.

"Fine!" he exclaimed. "I don't see why it hasn't been done sooner. I
remember what Hobson did to the Spanish fleet at Santiago in the
Spanish-American war."

"It's an exploit of the same nature," Lord Hastings admitted, "though it
will be attended with even greater danger. If successful, as I say, it
will do inestimable good. The admiralty has been training specially for
this move for months, but the matter has now come to a head."

"And how does it happen that we shall be fortunate enough to lend a hand?"
asked Jack.

"My fault, I suppose," returned Lord Hastings. "Admiral Keyes, the day
after your departure, was bemoaning the fact that one ship had been taken
away from him at the last moment. I said that if Captain Templeton and the
Brigadier were here, you could easily replace the other vessel. The
admiral was of the opinion that you had not had the necessary training. I
said you didn't need it. Apparently he was convinced, for the next I heard
you had been recalled to Dover. Thus, through talking too much, I balked
my own plans."

"Perhaps," said Frank, "it won't be too late for the other when the
harbors of Ostend and Zeebrugge have been sealed."

"But perhaps you won't come back," said Lord Hastings.

"Oh, we'll be back, never fear," grinned Jack. "But what are we to do
now?"

"You will report to Admiral Keyes aboard the Warwick at once. If you
return safely, report to me. Good-bye and good luck."

The lads shook hands with Lord Hastings and left him.

"Here," said Frank, "is what I call a piece of luck."




CHAPTER VII

A BIT OF EXPLANATION


It is probable that the sealing of the harbors of Ostend and Zeebrugge,
two of the most important German submarine bases, was one of the greatest
feats of the whole European war. The attempt was extremely hazardous and
could never have been successful except for the gallantry and heroism of
the British crews.

Not the least of the bravest among them were Jack and Frank and the other
officers and crew of the destroyer Brigadier. It is true that the
operation has been planned primarily with the idea of having the destroyer
Daffodil in line, but it was the withdrawal of this vessel that permitted
Jack and Frank to have a hand in the operation.

In order that all parts of the naval service might share in the
expedition, representative bodies of men had been drawn from the Grand
Fleet, the three home depots, the Royal marine artillery and light
infantry. The ships and torpedo craft were furnished by the Dover patrol,
which was reinforced by vessels from the Harwich force and the French and
American navies. The Royal Australian navy and the admiralty experimental
station at Stratford and Dover were also represented.

A force thus composed and armed, obviously needed collective training and
special preparation to adapt both the men and their weapons to their
purpose. With these objects, the blocking ships and the storming forces
were assembled toward the end of February, and from the fourth of April on
in the West Swim Anchorage - where training especially adapted to the plan
of operation was given - and the organization of the expedition was carried
on.

The material as it was prepared was used to make the training practical
and was itself tested thereby. Moreover, valuable practice was afforded by
endeavors to carry out the project on two previous occasions, on which the
conditions of wind and weather compelled its postponement, and much was
learned from these temporary failures.

The Hindustan, at first at Chatham and later at the Swim, was the parent
ship and training depot. After the second attempt, when it became apparent
that there would be a long delay, the Dominion joined the Hindustan and
the pressure upon the available accommodation was relieved by the transfer
of about 350 seamen and marines to her.

Two special craft, Liverpool ferry steamers, Iris and Gloucester, were
selected after a long search by Captain Herbert Grant. They were selected
because of their shallow draft, with a view in the first place to their
pushing the Vindictive, which was to bear the brunt of the work, alongside
Zeebrugge Mole; to the possibility, should the Vindictive be sunk, of
their bringing away all her crew and the landing parties; and to their
ability to maneuver in shallow water or clear of mine fields or torpedoes.
The blocking ships and the Vindictive were especially prepared for their
work long before the start.

Vice-Admiral Sir Roger Keyes devoted personal attention and time to
working out the plan of operations and the preparation of the personnel
and material. Rear Admiral Cecil F. Dampier, second in command of the
Dover flotilla, and Commodore Algernon Boyle, chief of staff, gave
considerable assistance.

When, as vice-admiral of the Dover patrol, Admiral Keyes first began to
prepare for the operation, it became apparent that without an effective
system of smoke screening such an attack could hardly hope to succeed. The
system of making smoke previously employed in the Dover patrol was
unsuitable for a night operation, as this production generated a fierce
flame, and no other means of making an effective smoke screen was
available. Nevertheless Wing Commander Brock, at last devised the way.

The commander-in-chief of the Grand Fleet, Admiral Beatty, sent to Admiral
Keyes a picked body of officers and men. Support also was received from
the neighboring commands at Portsmouth and the Nore, the adjutant general,
Royal Marines, and the depot at Chatham. The rear-admiral commanding the
Harwich force sent a flotilla leader and six destroyers, besides
protecting the northern flank of the area in which operations were to be
conducted.

To afford protection at a certain point in the route and to maintain the
aids to navigation during the approach and retirement of the expedition, a
force consisting of the flotilla leaders Scott and the destroyers
Ulleswater, Teazer and Stork, and the light cruiser Attentive, flying the
pennant of Commodore Boyle, was organized. This force, as it developed,
was instrumental in patroling and directing the movements of detached
craft in both directions, and relieved Admiral Keyes of all anxiety on
that score.

At the moment of departing the forces were disposed as follows:

In the Swim - For the attack on the Zeebrugge Mole: Vindictive, Iris,
Gloucester. To block the Bruges canal: Thetis, Interprid and Iphigenia. To
block the entrance to Ostend: Sirius and Brilliant.

At Dover - Warwick, flagship of Vice-Admiral Keyes; Phoebe, North Star,
Brigadier, Trident, Mansfield, Whirlwind, Myngs, Velox, Morris, Moorsom,
Melpomene, Tempest and Tetrarch.

To damage Zeebrugge - Submarines C-1 and C-3.

A special picket boat to rescue crews of C-1 and C-3.

Minesweeper Lingfield to take off surplus steaming parties of block
ships, which had 100 miles to steam.

Eighteen coastal motorboats.

Thirty-three motor launches.

To bombard vicinity of Zeebrugge - Monitors Erebus and Terror.

To attend monitors - Termagant, Truculent, and Manly.

Outer patrol off Zeebrugge - Attentive, Scot, Ulleswater, Teazer and Stork.

At Dunkirk - Monitors for bombarding Ostend: Marshal Soult, Lord Clive,
Prince Eugene, General Sraufurd, M-24 and M-26.

For operating off Ostend - Swift, Faulknor, Matchless, Mastiff and Afridi.

The British destroyers Mentor, Lightfoot, Zubian and French torpedo boats
Lestin, Capitaine Mehl, Francis Garnier, Roux and Boucier to accompany the
monitors.

There were in addition to these, three American destroyers - the Taylor,
the Alert and the Cyprus.

Eighteen British motor launches for smoke screening duty inshore and
rescue work, and six for attending big monitors.

Four French motor launches attending M-24 and M-26 and five coastal motor
boats.

Navigational aids having been established on the routes, the forces from
the Swim and Dover were directed to join Admiral Keyes off the Goodwin
Sands and to proceed in company to a rendezvous, and thereafter as
requisite to their respective stations.

Those from Dunkirk were given their orders by the commodore.

An operation time table was issued to govern the movements of all the
forces. Wireless signals were prohibited, visual signals of every sort
were reduced to a minimum and maneuvering prearranged as far as foresight
could provide.

With few and slight delays the program for the passage was carried out as
laid down, the special aids to navigation being found of great assistance.

The Harwich force, under Rear-Admiral Tyrwhitt, was posted to cover the
operations and prevent interference from the north.

Jack and Frank, having reported to Admiral Keyes upon leaving Lord
Hastings, had received necessary instructions as to their part in the
raid. They had passed the word to the other officers of the Brigadier, who
in turn had informed members of the crew what was about to happen.

There was wild cheering among the British tars on the Brigadier when they
learned they were to have a hand in one of the greatest and most dangerous
enterprises attempted in the whole war. Needless to say, Jack and Frank
also were immensely pleased.

"Tell you what, Jack," said Frank, after they had returned aboard the
Brigadier, "it seems to me as though your work had come to the ears of the
Admiralty with a vengeance."

"Oh, I guess that isn't it," Jack laughed. "They just happened to need
another ship and picked on me. That's all."

"Perhaps," Frank admitted. "But just the same it seems that we are always
in the midst of things. I wouldn't call it all luck, if I were you."

"Well, it's not good judgment, that much is certain," said Jack. "For good
judgment would tell me to keep in a safe place as long as possible."

"If you want to know what I think about it," said Frank, "this raid is
going to be one of the greatest blows struck at the enemy."

"It certainly will do the enemy a lot of harm if it's successful," Jack
confessed.

"It'll be successful all right. I can feel that."

"A hunch, eh?" laughed Jack.

"Call it what you like. Nevertheless, I am absolutely certain Admiral
Keyes will not fail. And what are the Germans going to do for submarine
bases if Ostend and Zeebrugge are bottled up?"

"Maybe we'll catch most of them in there," said Jack hopefully.

"They won't be able to get out again if we do," declared Frank.

"Right," Jack agreed, "and the ones that are outside won't be able to get
back in again."

"So you see," Frank continued, "we have them coming and going, as we say
in America."

"I see," said Jack.

"And what time are we to start?" asked Frank. "You must remember you were
in private conference with Admiral Keyes. You're a captain now, and the
big fellows talk to you. I'm still only a lieutenant."

"The passage will most likely be made by daylight," said Jack. "That has
been decided in order that we may do our work there under the cover of
darkness so far as possible. Of course, this may be changed, but that's
the way the plan lies now."

"Strikes me we are taking a pretty big force along, from what you say."

"Necessary, I guess," said Jack. "It seems that the admiral has overlooked
nothing that will go toward making the attack a success."

"Well, we can't start any too soon to suit me," declared Frank. "When do
you expect to get orders to move?"

"I'm not certain, but I wouldn't be surprised to receive them early in the
morning."

As it developed Jack was a good prophet.

Bright and early next morning, a small boat approached the Brigadier. A
few moments later an officer came aboard and presented Jack with a
document. Then he departed.

Jack read the paper, then leaped to the bridge.

"To your post, Mr. Chadwick," he called to Frank, who had been standing
near by. "Pipe all men to quarters and signal for half speed ahead."

The passage was about to begin.




CHAPTER VIII

THE ATTACK BEGINS


The main force was divided into three columns. The center column was led
by the Vindictive, with the Brigadier second and the Iris in tow, followed
by the five blocking ships and the paddle mine-sweeper Lingfield,
escorting five motor launches for taking off the surplus steaming parties
of the blocking ships. The starboard column was led by the Warwick, flying
the flag of Admiral Keyes, followed by the Phoebe and North Star, which
three ships were to cover the Vindictive from torpedo attack while the
storming operations were in progress.

The submarines were towed by the Trident and Mansfield. The Tempest
escorted the two Ostend block ships.

The port column was led by the Whirlwind, followed by Myngs and Moorsom,
which ships were to patrol to the northward of Zeebrugge; and the
Tetrarch, also to escort the Ostend block ships. Every craft was towing
one or more coastal motor boats, and between the columns were motor
launches.

The greater part of the passage, as Jack had explained, had to be carried
out in broad daylight, with the consequent likelihood of discovery by
enemy aircraft or submarines. This risk was largely countered by the
escort of all the scouting escort under Admiral Keyes' command.

On arrival at a certain position, it being then apparent that the
conditions were favorable and that there was every prospect of carrying
through the enterprise on schedule, a short prearranged wireless signal
was made to the detached forces that the program would be adhered to.

On arrival at a position a mile and a half short of where Commodore
Boyle's force was stationed, the whole force stopped for fifteen minutes
to enable the surplus steaming parties of the block ships to be
disembarked and the coastal motor boats slipped. These and the motor
launches then proceeded in execution of previous orders. On resuming the
course, the Warwick and Whirlwind, followed by the destroyers, drew ahead
on either bow to clear the passage of enemy outpost vessels.

When the Vindictive arrived at a position where it was necessary to alter
her course for the Mole, the Warwick, Phoebe and North Star swung to
starboard and cruised in the vicinity of the Mole until after the final
withdrawal of all the attacking forces. During the movement and through
the subsequent operations, the Warwick was maneuvered to place smoke
screens wherever they seemed to be most required, and when the wind
shifted from northeast to southwest, her services in this respect were
particularly valuable.

The monitors Erebus and Terror, with the destroyers Termagant, Truculent
and Manly, were stationed at a position suitable for the long range
bombardment of Zeebrugge in co-operation with the attack.

Similarly, the monitors Marshal Soult, General Sraufurd, Prince Eugene and
Lord Clive, and the small monitors M-21, M-24 and M-26 were stationed in
suitable positions to bombard specified batteries. These craft were
attended by the British destroyers Mentor, Lightfoot and Zubian, and the
French Capitaine Mehl, Francis Garnier, Roux and Bouclier. The bombardment
that ensued was undoubtedly useful in keeping down the fire of the shore
batteries.

The attack on the Mole was primarily intended to distract the enemy's
attention from the ships engaged in blocking the Bruges canal. Its
immediate objectives were, first, the capture of the four 1-inch batteries
at the sea end of the Mole, which were a serious menace to the passage of
the block ships, and, second, the doing of as much damage to the material
on the Mole as time would permit, for it was not the intention of Admiral
Keyes to remain on the Mole after the primary object of the expedition
had been accomplished.

The attack was to consist of two parts: The landing of storming and
demolition parties and the destruction of the iron viaduct between the
shore and the stone Mole.

The units detailed for the attack were:

H.M.S. Vindictive, Captain Alfred F.B. Carpenter; the Brigadier, Captain
Jack Templeton; special steamers Iris, Commander Valentine Gibbs;
Gloucester, Lieutenant H.G. Campbell, the latter detailed to push the
Vindictive alongside the Mole and keep her there as long as might be
necessary.


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Online LibraryRobert L. DrakeThe Boy Allies with the Victorious Fleets The Fall of the German Navy → online text (page 3 of 12)