Robert L. Drake.

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

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been reported to the Navy Department by survivors who had reached shore in
small boats, other vessels had been sent to the bottom. Most of these were
freighters or small trading ships, including two sailing vessels. Some had
been sunk off the New Jersey coast, others off the coasts of Delaware and
Virginia.

In some cases the vessels attacked had attempted to flee, but they were
quickly overhauled by the submarines, which, besides firing torpedoes into
their hulls, shelled them with rapid fire guns and later attacked the
small boats in which the crews sought to make the shore.

Casualties had been heavy aboard the ships sunk by the raiders. One or two
of the enemy submarines had been fired on by armed ships, but to no avail;
and as a result of those efforts, the death lists aboard such vessels had
been increased, for the Germans, angered, had swept the survivors in small
boats with rapid fire guns.

How many submarines were operating in American waters, the Navy department
did not know. From the fact that ships were attacked in at least three
places, within a short space of time, however, it was believed that there
were at least three or four of the raiders.

From all ports along the coast, destroyers, submarine chasers, motor boats
armed with single guns, had put to sea in an effort to run down the
raiders. But off the New Jersey coast, almost in the midst of these
vessels, a sailing ship was sunk by a submarine. Before any of the
patroling vessels could reach the scene, however, the U-Boat had submerged
and fled.

Depth bombs were dropped by ships of war wherever it was thought a
submarine might be lurking beneath the water. But these efforts met with
no success. Reports of sinkings in other parts of the water reached the
Navy department.

The first sinking was reported on May 10. In the week that followed,
eighteen other vessels were sent to the bottom by German submarines off
the American coast. At the end of that time, however, the waters were
being so well patrolled that it would have been suicide for a submarine to
have showed itself.

Reports of sinkings ceased. But, from time to time, word was received that
submarines had been sighted farther south, first off the coast of the
Carolinas and then off Florida. No attacks were made in these waters,
however, and the next that was heard of the submarines they were off the
coast of South America.

During the activities of the enemy raiders, one submarine was sunk, and
one was captured, both through the efforts of Jack and the crew and
officers of the Essex.

After leaving Hampton Roads, the Essex steamed out beyond the Virginia
Capes. Immediately Jack sought to get into communication with Admiral
Sellings by wireless. And at last he raised the admiral's flagship, the
Dakota.

"What do you want?" came the query from the Dakota, after Jack's flash had
been picked up.

"British destroyer Essex, Captain Templeton, reporting to Admiral Sellings
for orders at the request of Secretary Daniels," was the message Jack sent
back.

"One moment," was the reply.

Jack waited in the radio room aboard the Essex.

"Essex! Essex!" came the call five minutes later.

"Answer," Jack directed the operator.

"Essex replying," the operator flashed.

"Admiral Sellings orders Essex to proceed north and stand out to sea to
protect inbound vessels. Understand one submarine sighted five miles out
five hours ago. Repeat."

The operator repeated the message to show that he had caught in correctly.

Jack went on deck and gave instructions necessary to putting the Essex out
at sea. Then, "Full speed ahead!" he signalled.

The British destroyer Essex stood out to sea magnificently. Aboard, her
crew stood to their posts, ready for action. Jack, surrounded by his
officers, held the bridge.

"We've got to keep a sharp eye out," said Jack.

"Right," Frank agreed. "We're likely to come upon one of the enemy any
moment, and we can't afford to let him see us first."

"Very true, sir," Lieutenant Hetherton agreed. "Fortunately all our
lookouts have sharp eyes. I'll venture to say a submarine won't come to
the surface very close to us without being seen."

"That's the way to talk, Mr. Hetherton," said Jack. "It shows the proper
spirit."

"And the men are imbued with the same spirit," declared Frank, "and yet
see how cool they are."

It was perfectly true. There was no confusion aboard the Essex in spite of
the fact that each member of the crew knew he was bent on a dangerous
mission. One shot from the submarine, they knew, if truly aimed and Jack
was unable to maneuver the vessel out of harm's way, would be the end.
However, like all British tars, they had absolute confidence in their
commander; for, according to their line of reasoning, if he were not a
capable officer and to be depended upon he would not be in command of the
ship.

Suddenly the radio operator appeared on deck and hurried toward the
bridge. Jack stepped forward to meet him. The lad took the message the
operator passed him and read:

"S.O.S. Pursued by submarine eighteen miles off Cape May light.
Am running south by west, but foe is gaining. Capt. Griswold,
Ventura."

"This," said Jack quietly, "means that there is still another U-Boat to be
reckoned with, but I had no idea they were operating so far out. We'll
have to get busy."

Jack looked at his officers with a slight smile on his face, then ordered:
"Shape your course due east, Frank. Full speed ahead."




CHAPTER XIV

THE U-87


As the Essex sped forward the radio operator from time to time picked up
other messages from the Ventura.

"She's headed directly toward us," Jack explained to Frank. "We should
sight her within the hour."

The Ventura was sighted in less, but under peculiar conditions.

"Ship on the starboard bow, sir," sang the lookout forward.

A moment later the officers on the bridge sighted the vessel through their
glasses.

"By George! She seems to be standing still," said Frank.

"So she does," Lieutenant Hetherton agreed, "Wonder what's the matter?"

"We'll find out fast enough," returned Jack quietly.

"Take the bridge, Mr. Chadwick," said Jack. "I'm going below to the radio
room."

"See if you can raise the Ventura," he instructed the radio operator, a
few moments later.

"Ventura! Ventura!" went the call through the air.

There was no response.

"Try it again," said Jack.

The operator obeyed. Still there was no reply from the Ventura.

"Something wrong," Jack muttered under his breath, "and still I saw no
sign of a submarine. Try 'em again, Wilkins."

Again the radio operator sent the call flashing through the air:

"Ventura! Ventura! Ventura!"

The instrument at Wilkins' side began to click.

"Ventura replying, sir," Wilkins reported.

"I hear him," said Jack briefly. "Let me get at that key, Wilkins."

The operator sprang up and Jack took his place and strapped the receiver
over his head.

"What's the trouble, Ventura?" he clicked.

"Held up by submarine," was the reply. "U-Boat due east of us. You can't
see her. We sighted you just after we were boarded."

"Then how does it come you are at the key?" Jack clicked.

"Broke away from captors on deck. They are pounding at the door now."

"Have they sighted us?"

"They hadn't. There goes the door, Good-bye."

The flashes from the Ventura ceased. Jack sprang up and turned the
receiver over to the operator.

"Keep calling," he said. "If you pick the Ventura up again, let me know.
I'll send a man so you can report to me through him."

Jack hurried on deck.

In the distance the Ventura was plainly visible now. Jack changed the
course of the ship slightly, and after the vessel had gone half a mile he
made out the form of a submarine lying close astern of the Ventura.

"By George! They must see us," he muttered. "If the lookout on the U-Boat
hasn't espied us, surely some of the Germans on the deck of the Ventura
must have done so. Wonder why the submarine captain doesn't sink the
steamer and submerge. Surely he is not going to risk an encounter with
me."

Nevertheless, it seemed that such must be the submarine commander's
intention, for the submarine showed no sign of submerging as the Essex
bore down on her.

Through his binoculars Frank was now able to ascertain the fact that a
struggle was in progress on the deck of the Ventura. A dozen or more
figures, closely interlocked, were scuffling to and fro across the bridge.
Frank gave an exclamation.

"I know what's wrong," he ejaculated.

"Well, what?" demanded Jack, turning to him.

"Why, the crew, or some of the crew, has jumped the commander of the
submarine and his escort. That's why the officer left on the U-Boat
doesn't dare sink the vessel. And the crew of the steamer is keeping the
German and his friends so busy aboard that they haven't had a chance to
jump overboard."

"By George! I guess you're right," declared Jack. "Now if they can hold
them fifteen minutes longer we'll get in the game ourselves."

Again Jack altered the course of the Essex and approached the submarine at
an angle from the Ventura.

"Forward turret guns there!" he roared.

It was the signal the men had been eagerly awaiting. Quickly the signal
"ready" was flashed in the forward turret. The men were already at their
posts.

"Range finders!" ordered Jack.

"Aye, aye, sir," came the reply of the officer in charge of this work, and
he calculated the range swiftly and passed the word to the captain of the
gun crew in the forward turret.

"Fire!"

A heavy shell flew screaming across the water.

But the range had not been correct and the shell flew past the submarine.
Again the range was calculated, taking into consideration the first error.
Again the command to fire was given.

This time the range had been gauged perfectly and the shell must have gone
home had it not been for one thing.

A moment before the command to fire was given, a torpedo was launched by
the submarine. Jack saw the torpedo come dashing through the water, and he
was forced to order the helm over promptly to escape the deadly messenger.
This maneuver was made at the precise moment that the Essex fired for the
second time, and consequently the shell again went wide.

Almost at the same instant Frank, who had kept his eyes glued to the deck
of the Ventura where the struggle on the bridge had continued fiercely,
uttered an exclamation of alarm.

"They've broken away," he cried.

It was true, The submarine commander and his followers had succeeded in
eluding the crew of the Ventura and dashed to the rail. There they poised
themselves a brief moment, and then flung themselves headlong into the
sea. Directly, dripping, they appeared on the deck of the submarine and
dashed for the conning tower.

"Quick!" roared Jack. "Forward turret guns again there!"

Once more the range was calculated and an explosion shook the Essex. But
as before the range had not been true. The shell barely skimmed the top of
the U-Boat and went screaming half a mile past, where it struck the water
with a hiss.

Slowly the submarine began to submerge.

"Again!" cried Jack.

But the next shot had no better success.

The submarine disappeared from sight.

Jack stamped his foot.

"What's the matter with those fellows forward?" he demanded. "Can't they
shoot? Didn't they ever see a gun before?"

There was no reply from the other officers and gradually Jack cooled down.

"Pretty tough," said Frank then. "We should have had that fellow."

Jack nodded gloomily.

"So we should," he cried, "but we didn't get him. Well, better luck next
time. All the same, I'm inclined to believe that Ensign Carruthers needs a
talking to. He didn't take the time to calculate the range correctly."

"I'll speak to him," said Frank.

"Do," said Jack. "In the meantime we'll run close to the Ventura and I'll
go aboard for a word with her captain."

The Ventura's wireless was working again now, and Jack himself took the
key.

"Lay to," he ordered. "I'm coming aboard you."

"Very well," was the reply.

The two vessels drew close together. Jack had the destroyer's launch
lowered, climbed in and crossed to the Ventura, where a ladder was lowered
for him. On deck he was greeted by a grizzled old sailor, who introduced
himself as Captain Griswold.

"Come to my cabin, sir," he said to Jack. "We can talk there without being
interrupted."

Jack followed the captain of the Ventura below, and took a seat the latter
motioned him to. The captain set out liquor and cigars, but Jack waved
them away.

"I neither smoke nor drink, thanks," he said.

Captain Griswold shrugged his shoulders and put a match to a cigar.

"Well, what can I do for you, Captain?" he asked.

"First," said Jack, "did you get the number of the submarine?"

"I did. The U-87, Commander Frederich, the captain styled himself; and if
there ever was a murderer unhung, he's the man."

"Why?" asked Jack curiously.

"Because he proposed setting my passengers and crew adrift in small boats,
without water or provisions, before sinking my ship. And when I told him
that I had him figured correctly - that he intended to shell the
lifeboats - the cold-blooded scoundrel admitted it! That's why we had the
nerve to jump him on deck. I figured we might as well die on the Ventura
as in the lifeboats - and we had a chance of taking him to Davy Jones'
locker along with us."

"I see," said Jack. "Not a bad idea."

"It was offered by the wireless operator," continued Captain Griswold,
"although he offered it unconsciously."

"Explain," Jack requested.

"Well, Harrington thought he heard his instrument clicking. He figured it
was you, whom we had just sighted. He broke through the Germans on deck
and dashed below. He locked himself in his room and began talking to you.
Three of the enemy went after him and broke in the door, but I guess he
had told you enough by that time."

"I'd like a word with this Harrington," said Jack. "He is a brave man.
Where is he?"

"Dead," said Captain Griswold quietly.

Jack jumped to his feet

"Dead?" he repeated.

"Yes. After the Germans broke in the door, they overpowered him, tied him
and then brought back on deck. Said the German commander: 'I'll show you
how we treat men who defy us.' He stepped back several paces, drew his
revolver and fired. Then three of the enemy threw the body into the sea.
That's when we jumped them, for it was more than we could stand."

"Then who answered the wireless when I called a moment ago?"

"I did."

"I guess that is enough, Captain," said Jack. He returned to the Essex.




CHAPTER XV

JACK GIVES CHASE


"Any sight of the submarine, Frank?" asked Jack, when he stepped on deck
again.

"None," was the reply. "In accordance with instructions you gave before
you went overside we dropped depth bombs in the spot where the U-Boat
disappeared, but without result."

"I guess he's gone, then," said Jack. "But I'd like to get my hands on
that fellow," and he related to Frank the manner in which the German
commander had shot down the wireless operator aboard the Ventura.

"By Jove! What a murderous scoundrel!" muttered Frank.

Jack nodded.

"No worse than the rest of them, I'll wager," he said. "But, hello! The
Ventura's moving again."

As soon as Jack had left the deck of the steamer, Captain Griswold had
ordered the engines started and prepared for a quick dash to shore.

"There are likely to be more of those pesky submarines about here," he
muttered, "and the sooner I reach port the better."

Accordingly he ordered full speed ahead.

"Do you know," said Frank, "I've a hunch that the U-87 is not through with
the Ventura. You know how the German is. He doesn't like to admit he's
been licked, so I figure the submarine commander is likely to have gone
ahead and will be awaiting the approach of the Ventura."

"Now by George! I wouldn't be a bit surprised," Jack agreed. "Well, we'll
be ready for him."

"What are you going to do, Jack?"

"I'll show you. Come."

Jack dashed to the radio room, Frank at his heels.

"Get the Ventura for me," Jack instructed the operator.

It was perhaps five minutes later that the Ventura answered the call. Jack
took the key.

"Captain Griswold?" he asked.

"Yes. Who are you?"

"Captain Templeton, destroyer Essex."

"Well, what do you want this time?"

"Slow down. I'm coming aboard again."

"What for?"

"I'll explain when I get there."

"All right, but I'll tell you I don't like this business."

The instrument became silent.

"Now tell me what you're going to do, Jack," said Frank, as he followed
his chum and commander on deck.

"It's very simple," said Jack. "As you have said, I believe that the
submarine commander will intercept the Ventura again farther along toward
the shore. Now, I'm going to turn the Essex over to you temporarily and
go aboard the Ventura. You know the Germans as well as I do. This man will
no more think of sinking the Ventura without doing a bit of bragging to
the captain, who fooled him once, than he will of flying."

"That's true enough," Frank admitted.

"All right. Now I'll be aboard when he gets there. If he comes aboard,
I'll grab him there. If he doesn't I'll jump to the deck of the submarine
after him and tumble him overboard. I'll trust to you to keep the
submarine occupied and to get a boat to me."

"It's a desperate venture, Jack," Frank protested.

"So it is," was Jack's reply, "but I've a longing to capture this fellow.
If we just sink the submarine, I can't do it of course. Another thing, it
may be that I am not doing just right in leaving my ship, but it will only
be for a couple of hours and I know you can handle it as well as I can."

"Oh, I won't sink her," grinned Frank. "But why not let me be the one to
go?"

"Because I'm not sure you can handle the German commander."

"But you're sure you can, eh?"

"He'll have to be something new in the line of a German if I can't."

"All right," said Frank. "Have it your own way. You're boss here, you
know."

Meantime the Essex and the Ventura had been drawing closer together.
Directly a boat put off from the destroyer and ran alongside of the
steamer. Jack clambered over the side and the launch returned to the
destroyer.

Captain Griswold was waiting for Jack.

"Now what's up?" he wanted to know.

"Come to your cabin and I'll explain," said Jack.

In the seclusion of the cabin he outlined the situation. When he had
concluded a sketch of his plans, Captain Griswold demurred.

"But I don't like to risk my passengers," he said.

"You won't be risking them any more with me aboard than you will without
me," Jack explained. "Besides, you will have the additional protection of
the destroyer. In fact, it may be that the presence of the Essex will
scare the submarine off, but I doubt it. The German commander, as all of
his ilk, is angry at having been balked of his prey. He'll probably have
one more try, destroyer or no destroyer."

"Well," said Captain Griswold, "you're a British naval officer and should
know something, whether you do or not. But I'll tell you right now I hope
the submarine doesn't show up again."

Nevertheless, Captain Griswold was doomed to disappointment, for the U-87
did reappear.

It was almost 6 o'clock in the evening when all on board were startled by
a cry from the lookout.

"Submarine on the port bow, sir."

Instantly all became confusion on the big merchant ship. Passengers, of
whom there were perhaps fifty, became greatly excited. Every man on board
strapped on a life preserver, and waited for he knew not what.

The fact that, directly astern, the Essex, British destroyer, was in plain
sight and trailing them, did not allay their fears. Came a shot from a gun
mounted forward on the submarine, a signal to heave to.

"Obey it," said Jack, to Captain Griswold, on the bridge.

Captain Griswold ordered his engines stopped.

"I'll keep out of sight for a moment," said Jack. "The commander may come
on board."

He stooped down in the shelter of the pilot house.

The submarine drew close to the Ventura, and a voice hailed Captain
Griswold:

"Thought you'd get away did you, you Yankee pig."

It was the voice of the German commander.

"Oh, we may get away yet," said Captain Griswold.

"Don't depend on the destroyer this time," shouted the commander of the
submarine. "I see her approaching, but she won't be soon enough. I'll sink
you and submerge before she can fire a shot."

"Well, you big cut throat," shouted Captain Griswold, losing his temper,
"why don't you do it?"

"You dare to talk to a German officer like that?" thundered the submarine
commander. "You shall be sunk immediately. But first I wanted a word with
you. I just wanted to tell you what fate I hold in store for you."

"It's my opinion," said Captain Griswold, "that you're a big bluff, like
all the rest of your stripe."

Meantime, realizing that the German commander did not intend to board the
Ventura a second time, Jack crept from the shelter of the pilot house
unobserved and stole across the deck until he was beside the rail just
above the U-Boat, whose sides almost scraped the Ventura, so close were
the two vessels together.

Jack removed his coat and his cap, which he dropped on deck. Then he stood
up in full view of the German submarine commander. The latter gazed at him
carelessly, for without his cap and coat Jack showed no sign of being a
British naval officer.

Jack took in the scene about him with a careful eye. The German commander
stood close to the conning tower. There were perhaps half a dozen men
beside him, presumably his officers. The commander was directly below the
spot where Jack stood.

One of the Germans, Jack noticed, kept a close eye on the approaching
Essex and from time to time spoke to the commander in a low tone.

"Oh, these English can't shoot," Jack heard the commander say at last.
"However, I guess we have delayed long enough. Inside with you,
gentlemen."

Two of the Germans descended through the conning tower. This left four on
the deck of the submarine besides the commander. These, too, moved toward
the conning tower.

"Guess it's time to get busy," Jack muttered.

With a single movement he leaped to the rail of the Ventura, and with a
second hurled himself to the deck of the submarine, landing in the midst
of the startled Germans.

At the same moment, Captain Griswold, on the Ventura, signalled his engine
room for full speed ahead in accordance with Jack's instructions.

The reason for this was obvious. First, it would take the steamer out of
the way of the torpedoes already trained on her, which would not be
launched without a command from one of the enemy officers, and, second, it
would draw the Ventura away so as to present the submarine as a clear
target for the guns of the approaching Essex.

Jack, on the deck of the submarine, recovered himself before the German
officers could get over their surprise. He sprang to his feet and waded
into them, striking out right and left.

Two men went staggering across the narrow deck and toppled into the sea.
The others reached for their revolvers. Before they could fire, however,
Jack sprang forward quickly and floored one of the enemy with a smashing
blow. This left the commander and one other officer on deck.

The commander fired at Jack, but in his haste the bullet went wild. Jack
hurled himself forward, and the men gave ground. One, retreating, lost his
balance and went staggering across the deck and fell overboard.

Only the commander of the submarine now faced Jack, and he covered the lad
with a revolver.

"Hands up!" he said.

For answer Jack smiled slightly, and took a quick step forward.

"Crack!" the German's revolver spoke sharply, and Jack felt a hot pain in
his left arm. But the German had no time to fire again, for Jack was upon
him, pinning his revolver arm to his side.

"Now," said the lad, "I've got you!"

The two wrestled across the deck.




CHAPTER XVI

THE FIGHT ON THE U-87


In the meantime, members of the crew hearing the commotion on deck, rushed
up to see what was going on. Seeing their commander struggling with an
enemy, they hurried across the deck.

Jack saw them coming out of the tail of his eye. It was not time to
hesitate and the lad knew it.

With his arms still wrapped about the German commander, Jack struggled to
the rail and leaped into the sea. Down and down he went, never for a
moment relaxing his hold on the German. Then they came to the surface.

With a sudden jerk the German freed himself and aimed a heavy blow at


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Online LibraryRobert L. DrakeThe Boy Allies with the Victorious Fleets The Fall of the German Navy → online text (page 6 of 12)