Part 2 out of 3
I suppose I must have said something, for I next remember her saying:
"Well, you might ask how I am;" and to my horror I realized that she
thought I was being rude!
My abject apologies were cut short by her tantalizing laugh, and I
understood that the adorable one was teasing me. When at length I made
myself believe that I really was talking to this most elusive and
delightful woman I wasted no time in suggesting that, late though it
was, I might be permitted to go round and see her. She would not permit
this, as she said it would create grave scandal, and the Colonel might
hear about it upon his return. I pleaded hard and urged my departure in
She was firm and reproved me for discussing movements over the
telephone. She was right; I was a fool to do so; but Zoe destroys all
my caution. However, she said that I might lunch with her next day, and
that she had some new music to play to me. I ventured to ask where she
had been, but this question was plainly unpleasing to my lady, so I
dropped the subject. I blew her a goodnight kiss over the telephone, to
which I think I caught an answer, and then she rang off.
Ten minutes had not elapsed, when a messenger entered and informed me
that I was wanted at the Commodore's office at once.
A strange feeling of uneasiness and that of impending misfortune
overcame me. I felt like a naughty school-boy about to interview the
I followed the messenger into the Commodore's office, and found myself
alone with the great man. He was seated at a huge roll-top desk, which
was the only article of furniture in a room which was to all intents
and purposes papered with large scale charts of the east and south
coasts of England and of the Channel and North Sea.
The Commodore was sealing an envelope as I came in; he looked up and
saw me, then, without taking any further notice of me, he resumed his
business with the envelope. I felt that I was in the presence of a
personality, and I was, for "Old Man Max" is one of the ten men who
count in the Naval Administration. He had a reading lamp on his desk,
and I remember noticing that the light shining through its green shade
imparted a yellow parchment-like effect to the top of his old bald
head. With dainty care he finished sealing the envelope, then, picking
up a telephone transmitter, he snapped "Admiralty!" In about a minute
he was connected, and to my astonishment I realized that he was talking
to the duty captain of the operations department in Berlin.
His words chilled my heart, for he said: "Commodore speaking! U.39
sails at 2 a.m. for operation F.Q.H.--Repeat."
His words were apparently repeated to his satisfaction, for while I was
vainly endeavouring to convince myself that I was unconnected with the
sailing of U.39, he banged the receiver into place (Old Man Max does
everything in bangs) and snapped at me.
"You Lieutenant Von Schenk?"
I admitted I was, and then heard this disgusting news.
"Kranz, 1st Lieutenant U.39, reported suddenly ill, Zeebrugge,
poisoning--you relieve him. Ship sails in one hour forty minutes from
now--my car leaves here in forty minutes and takes you to Zeebrugge.
Here are operation orders--inform Von Weissman he acknowledges receipt
direct to me on 'phone. That's all."
He handed me the envelope and I suppose I walked outside--at least I
found myself in the corridor turning the confounded envelope round and
round. For one mad moment I felt like rushing in and saying: "But, sir,
you don't understand I'm lunching with Zoe to-morrow!"
Then the mental picture which this idea conjured up made me shake with
suppressed laughter and I remembered that war was war and that I had
only thirty-five minutes in which to collect such gear as I had
handy--most of my sea things being in U.C.47--and say goodbye to Zoe.
I ran to my room and made the corridors echo with shouts for my
faithful Adolf. The excellent man was soon on the scene, and whilst he
stuffed underclothing, towels and other necessary gear into a bag he
had purloined from someone's room, I rang up Zoe. I wasted ten minutes
getting through, but at last I heard a deliciously sleepy voice murmur,
I told her, and added that I was off; to my secret joy, an intensely
disappointed and long-drawn "Oooh!" came over the wire. So she does
care a bit, I thought. Mad ideas of pretending to be suddenly ill
crossed my mind--anything to gain twenty-four hours--but the Fatherland
is above all such considerations, and after some pleasant talk and many
wishes of good luck from the darling girl, with a heavy heart I bade
The Old Man's car, which is a sixty horse-power Benz, was waiting at
the Mess entrance, and once clear of the sentries we raced down the
flat, well-metalled road to Zeebrugge in a very short time. The guard
at Bruges barrier had 'phoned us through to the Zeebrugge fortified
zone, and we were admitted without delay. In three-quarters of an hour
from my interview with old Max I was scrambling across a row of U-boats
to reach my new ship, U.39.
I went down the after hatch, reported myself to Von Weissman and
delivered his orders to him, of which he acknowledged receipt direct to
the Commodore according to instructions. Von Weissman is a very
different stamp of man to Alten; of medium height, he has
sandy-coloured hair, steel-grey eyes and a protruding jaw. He is what
he looks, a fine North Prussian, and is, of course, of excellent
family, as the Weissmans have been settled in Grinetz for a long
He struck me as being about thirty years of age, and on his heart he
wore the Cross of the second class. I have heard of him before as being
well in the running towards an _ordre pour le merite_.
An interesting chart is hanging in the wardroom, on which is marked the
last resting-place of every ship he has sunk. He puts a coloured dot,
the tint of which varies with the tonnage, black up to 2,000, blue from
2,000-5,000, brown 5,000-8,000, green 8,000-11,000, and a red spot with
the ship's name for anything over 11,000. He has got about 120,000 tons
at present. He opposes the Arnauld de la Perriere school of thought,
which pins faith on the gun, and Weissman has done nearly all his work
with the good old torpedo.
Altogether, undoubtedly a man to serve with.
The U.39 was in that buzzing and semi-active condition which to a
trained eye is a sure indication that the ship is about to sail.
Punctually at five minutes to 2 a.m. Weissman went to the bridge, and
at 2 a.m. the wires were slipped and we started on a ten days' trip. As
the dim lights on the mole disappeared and the ceaseless fountain of
star-shells, mingling with the flashing of guns, rose inland on our
port beam my mind travelled overland to the flat at Bruges, and I
wondered whether Zoe was lying awake listening to the ceaseless rumble
of the Flanders cannon. We went on at full speed, as it was our
intention to pass the Dover Straits before dawn. Though our
intelligence bureau issues the most alarming reports as to the
frightfulness of the defences here I was agreeably surprised at the
ease with which we passed. Von Weissman, to whom I had hinted that we
might find the passage tricky, rather laughed at my suggestion, and
described to me his method, which, at all events, has the merit of
He always goes through with the tide, so as to take as short a time as
possible, and he always decides on a course and steers it as closely as
possible, keeping to the surface unless he sights anything, and diving
as soon as anything shows up. Even if he dives he goes on as fast as
possible on his course, irrespective of whether he is being bombed or
I must say it worked very well last night. We shaped a course to pass
five miles west of Gris Nez, and when that light, which for some reason
the French had commodiously lit that night, was abeam, we sighted a
black object, probably a trawler or destroyer, about half a dozen miles
away right ahead. Weissman immediately dived and, without deviating a
degree from his course, held on at three-quarters speed on the motors.
Some time later the hydrophone watchkeeper reported the sound of
propellers in his listeners, and that he judged them to be close at
hand, so I imagine we passed very nearly directly underneath whatever
After an hour's submerging we rose, and found dawn breaking over a
leaden and choppy sea. Nothing being in sight, we continued on the
surface for an hour, charging batteries with the starboard engine (500
amps on each), but at 9 a.m., the clouds lying low and an aerial patrol
being frequent hereabouts, we dived and cruised steadily down channel
at slow speed, keeping periscope depth.
Several times in the course of the forenoon we sighted small destroyers
and convoy craft  in the distance, all steering westerly. They were
probably returning from escorting troopships over to France last night.
In every case we went to sixty feet long before they could have seen
our "stick."  Weissman is evidently as cautious in this matter as he
is hardy in others; the more I see of him the more I like him; he is a
man of breeding, and it is of value to serve in this boat.
[Footnote 1: Probably "P" boats.--ETIENNE.]
[Footnote 2: Periscope.--ETIENNE.]
As I write we are on the surface about ten miles east of the Isle of
Wight, still steering down channel. To-night at midnight we report our
position to Zeebrugge, up till now we have maintained wireless silence
for fear of the British and French directional stations picking up our
signals and fixing our position.
After supper this evening Von Weissman explained to me the general plan
of our operations for the next eight days. Our cruising billet is about
150 miles south-west of the Scillys, at the focal point where trade for
Liverpool and Bristol and the up-channel trade diverges. Von Weissman
says that this is a plum billet and we should do well.
I feel this is going to be better than those piffling little
mine-laying trips, and though we shall be away ten days, it will
qualify me for four days' leave in Belgium.
* * * * *
There was nearly an awkward moment last night, or, rather, there was an
awkward moment, and nearly an awkward accident. I relieved the
navigator at midnight (the pilot is an unassuming individual called
Siegel) and took on the middle watch. It was blowing about force 4 from
the south-west, and a nasty short, lumpy sea was running which caught
us just on the port bow. About once every ten seconds she missed her
step with the waves and, dipping her nose into it, shovelled up tons of
water, which, as the bow lifted, raced aft and, breaking against the
gun, flung itself in clouds of spray against the bridge. In a very few
minutes every exposed portion of me was streaming with water.
At about 2 a.m. I had turned my back to the sea for a moment, and my
thoughts were for an instant in Bruges, when, on facing forward once
again I saw a sight which effectually brought me back to earth.
This was the spectacle of two black shapes, evidently steamers, one on
either bow, distant, I should estimate, 600 or 700 metres. I had to
make a quick decision, and I decided that to fire a torpedo in that sea
with any hope of a hit, especially with the boat on surface, was
useless; furthermore, that at any moment either of the steamers might
sight us from their high bridge and turn and ram.
These thoughts were the work of an instant, and I at once rang the
diving bell, and, pushing the look-out before me, in five seconds I was
in the conning tower and had the hatch down. I at once proceeded down
into the boat, and the first thing that struck my eye was the diving
gauge with the needle practically stationary at two metres.
The boat was not going down properly! and for an instant I was rudely
shaken, until a cool voice from the wardroom remarked, "Helm hard
a-port," an order that was instantly obeyed, and as she began to turn
the moving needle on the depth gauge began its journey round the dial.
It was the Captain who had spoken. As soon as he heard the diving alarm
he was out of his bunk, and a glance at the gauge he has fitted in the
wardroom told him we were not sinking rapidly. In an instant he had put
his finger on the trouble, which was that we were almost head on to the
sea, with the result that he had given the order as stated above,
which, bringing us beam on to the sea, had caused her to dive with
ease. He is efficiency itself!
As I explained to him what had happened, the noise of propellers at
varying distances from us overhead led him to state his belief that we
had run into a convoy homeward bound to Southampton from the Atlantic.
He approved of my actions in every particular, save only in my omission
to bring the boat away from the sea as I began to dive.
This morning we are beginning to get the full force of what is
evidently going to be a south-westerly gale of some violence. The seas
are getting larger as we debouch into the Atlantic. This looks bad for
* * * * *
At the moment we are practically hove to on the surface, with the port
engine just jogging to keep her head on to sea and the starboard
ticking round to give her a long, slow charge of 200 amps.
The wind is force 7-8 and a very big sea is running which makes it
entirely impossible to open the conning tower hatch; the engine is
getting its air through the special mushroom ventilator, which is
apparently not designed to supply both the boat's requirements and
those of the engine; the whole ventilator gets covered with sea every
now and then, during which period until the baffle drains get the water
away no air can get in, so the engine has a good suck at the air in the
boat, the result of all this being a slight vacuum in the boat. It is a
very unpleasant sensation, and made me very sick. This is really a form
of sickness due to the rarefied air.
I had a great surprise when I looked at the barograph this morning as
the needle had gone right off the paper at the bottom, and at first
glance I thought we had struck a tropical depression of the first
magnitude, which, flouting all the laws of meteorology, had somehow
found its way to the English Channel; but the engineer explained to me
that, as I have already stated, the low atmospheric pressure in the
boat was due to the conning-tower hatch being shut down.
[Illustration: "As the dim lights on the mole disappeared, the
ceaseless fountain of starshells mingling with the flashing of guns,
rose inland on our port beam."]
[Illustration: "We hit her aft for the second time."]
I have discovered that Von Weissman is a martyr to sea-sickness--all
day he has been lying down as white as a sheet and subsisting on milk
tablets and sips of brandy; yet such is the man's inflexibility of will
that he forces himself to make a tour of inspection right round the
boat every six hours, night and day. It is this will to conquer which
has made Germans unconquerable, though "Come the four corners of the
world in arms" against us, as the great poet says.
We are, of course, keeping watch from inside the conning tower; it is,
at all events, dry, but as to seeing anything one might as well be
looking out through a small glass window from inside a breakwater! To
bed till 4 a.m.
* * * * *
A most unprofitable day. I grudge every day away from Zoe on which we
do nothing. This morning about noon the gale blew itself out, but a
heavy confused sea continued to run.
At 2 p.m. we saw a most tantalizing spectacle. A big tank steamer,
fully 600 feet long and of probably 17,000 tons burthen hove in sight,
escorted by two destroyers. To attack with the gun was impossible, as
we could only keep the conning tower open when stern to sea, and in any
case the two destroyers prevented any surface work. We tried to get in
for an attack, but we had not seen her in time, and the best we could
do was to get within 3,000 yards, at which range it would have been
absurd to have wasted a torpedo, the chances of hitting being 100 to 1
against, even if the torpedo had run properly in the sea that was on.
I had a good look at her through the foremost periscope in between the
waves, and it maddened me to see all that oil, doubtless from Tampico
for the Grand Fleet, going safely by. The destroyers were having a bad
time of it, crashing into the sea like porpoises, their funnels white
with salt, and their bridges enveloped in sheets of water and spray.
They little thought that, barely a mile away, amidst the tumbling,
crested waves a German eye was watching them!
There is no doubt these damned British have pluck, for it was the last
sort of weather in which one would have expected to find destroyers at
sea, and yet I suppose they do this throughout the winter.
After all, one would expect them to be tough fellows--they are of
Teutonic stock--though by their bearing one might imagine that the
Creator made an Englishman and then Adam.
Let's hope we get some decent weather to-morrow. I have just been
refreshing my memory by reading of what I wrote in the book, concerning
the day in the forest with the adorable girl. There is an exquisite
pleasure in transporting the mind into such memories of the past when
the body is in such surroundings as the present, if only I could will
myself to dream of her!
* * * * *
A fine day in every sense of the word. The weather has been and remains
excellent, and I have been present at my first sinking. It was absurdly
commonplace. At 10 a.m. this morning a column of smoke crept upwards
from the southern horizon.
Von Weissman steered towards it on the surface until two masts and the
top of a funnel appeared. We dived and proceeded slowly under water on
a southerly course.
Half an hour passed and Von Weissman brought the boat up to periscope
depth and had a look. He called to me to come and see, an invitation I
accepted with alacrity.
With natural excitement I looked through the periscope and there she
was, unconsciously ambling to her doom like a fat sheep.
She was a steamer (British) of about 4,000 tons, slugging home at a
steady ten knots, but she was destined to come to her last mooring
place ahead of schedule time!
We dipped our periscope and I went forward to the tubes. Five minutes
elapsed and the order instrument bell rang, the pointer flicking to
"Stand by." I personally removed the firing gear safety pin and put the
repeat to "Ready." A breathless pause, then a slight shake and
destruction was on its way, whilst I realized by the angle of the boat
that Weissman was taking us down a few metres.
That shows his coolness, he didn't even trouble to watch his shot.
Anxiously I watch the second hand of my stop watch. Weissman had told
me the range would be about 500 metres--30 seconds--31--32--33--has he
missed?--34--35--3--A dull rumble comes through the water and the
whole boat shakes. Hurra! we have hit, and the order "Surface" comes
along the voice pipe.
The cheerful voice of the blower is heard, evacuating the tanks; I run
to the conning tower and closely follow Weissman up the ladder. At last
I am on the bridge. There she is! What a sight!
I feel that I shall never forget what she looked like, though, if all
goes well, I shall see many another fine ship go to her grave.
But she was my first; I felt the same sensation when, as a boy, I shot
my first roe-deer in the Black Forest, one instant a living thing
beautiful to perfection, the next my rifle spoke and a bleeding carcase
lay beneath the fine trees. So with this ship. I am a sailor, and to
every sailor every ship that floats has, as it were, a soul, a
personality, an entity; to carry the analogy further, a merchant craft
is like some fat beast of utility, an ox, a cow, or a sheep, whilst a
warship is a lion if she is a battleship, a leopard if she is a light
cruiser, etc.; in all cases worthy game.
But War has little use for sentimentality! and in my usual wandering
manner I see that I have meandered from the point and quite forgotten
what she did look like.
What I saw was this:
I saw that the steamer had been hit forward on the starboard side. The
upper portion of the stem piece was almost down to the water level, her
foremost hold was obviously filling rapidly. Her stern was high out of
water, the red ensign of England flapping impotently on the ensign
staff. Her propeller, which was still slowly revolving, thrashed the
water, and this heightened the impression that I was watching the
struggles of a dying animal. The propeller was revolving in spasmodic
jerks, due, I imagine, to the fast failing steam only forcing the
cranks over their dead centres with an effort.
A boat was being lowered with haste from the two davits abreast the
funnel on one side, but when she was full of men and, due to the angle
of the ship, well down by the bow, someone inboard let go the foremost
fall or else it broke, for the bows of the boat fell downwards and half
a dozen figures were projected in grotesque attitudes into the sea. For
a few seconds the boat swung backwards and forwards, like a pendulum.
When she came to rest, hanging vertically downwards from the stern, I
noticed that a few men were still clinging like flies to her thwarts.
Truly, anything is better than the Atlantic in winter. Meanwhile the
ship had ceased to sink as far as outward signs went.
I mentioned this to Von Weissman, who was at my side with a slight
smile on his face, amused doubtless at the eagerness with which I
watched every detail of this, to me, novel tragedy. He answered me that
I need not worry, that she was being supported by an air lock somewhere
forward, that the water was slowly creeping into her and her boilers
would probably soon go.
This remarkable man was absolutely correct.
There was an interval of about five minutes, during which another boat,
evidently successfully lowered from the other side, came round her
stern, picked up one or two men from the water and also collected the
survivors in the hanging boat; then the steamer suddenly sank another
two feet, there was a dull rumbling, as of heavy machinery falling from
a height, a muffled report, a cloud of steam and smoke, a sucking noise
and then a pool in the water, in the middle of which odd bits of wood
and other buoyant debris kept on bobbing up. Nothing else!
No! I am wrong, there were two other things: a U-boat, representing the
might of Germany, and a whaler with perhaps twenty men in it,
representing the plight of England!
As she went I felt hushed and solemn, it was an impressive moment; a
slight chuckle came from imperturbable Weissman; he had seen too many
go to think much of it, and he gave an order for the helm to be put
over, so that we might approach the whaler.
They were horribly overcrowded, and were engaged in trying to sort
themselves into some sort of order. We passed by them at 50 yards and
Weissman, seizing his megaphone, shouted in English: "Goodbye! steer
west for America!" A cold horror gripped my heart. It was an awful
moment. I dare not write the thoughts that entered my head.
I turned away my head and faced aft, that he should not see my face;
looking back I saw the whaler rocking dangerously in our wash, and then
a commotion took place in her stern, from which a huge bearded man
arose and, shaking his fist in our direction, shouted something or
other before his companions pulled him down.
Von Weissman heard and his lips narrowed in. I held my breath in
suspense, but he evidently decided against what he had been about to
do, for with the order, "Course north! ten knots," he went below.
I remained on deck watching the rapidly receding whaler through my
glasses until she was a mere speck--alone on the ocean, 150 miles from
land, Then the navigator came up, and with strangely mixed feelings of
exultant joy and depressing sorrow I went below.
Von Weissman was in the wardroom. I watched him unobserved. He was
humming a tune to himself and had just completed putting a green dot on
the chart. This done he lay back on the settee and closed his
eyes--strange, insoluble man!
For long hours I could not forget that whaler; I see it now as I write.
I suppose I shall get used to it all. What would Zoe say?
The most wonderful thing about man is that he can stand the strain of
his own invention of modern war!
* * * * *
I am rather tired to-night, but must just jot down briefly what has
taken place to-day, as there is never any time in the daylight hours.
Soon after dawn, at about 8 a.m., we sighted a fair-sized steamer of
about 3,000 tons, which we sunk, but I cannot say what she looked like,
or whether anyone escaped, as we never came to the surface at all, Von
Weissman sighting smoke on the western horizon just as he hit her. We
accordingly steered in that direction. However, I think she went almost
at once as Von Weissman put a dot (black) on the chart as we made
towards number 3.
I very much wanted to know whether there were any survivors, but I did
not like to ask him at the time and he has been in such an infernal
temper ever since that I haven't had a suitable opportunity.
The cause of his rage was as follows:
Steamer number 3 turned out to be a fine fat chap (of the Clan Line,
Von Weissman said, when we first sighted her). We moved in to attack
and fired our port bow tube. I waited in vain by the tubes for the
expected explosion--nothing happened, but after a couple of minutes a
snarl came down the voice pipe: "Surface, GUN ACTION STATIONS!"
I ran aft, and found the Captain white with rage.
"Missed ahead!" he said, with intense feeling, "I'll have to use that
In about three minutes the Captain and myself were on the bridge and
the crew were at their stations round the gun.
For the first time I saw the ship; she was stern on and apparently
painted with black and white stripes. As I examined her through
glasses--she was distant about 3,000 yards--I saw a flash aboard her
and a few seconds later a projectile moaned overhead and fell about
6,000 yards over. So she is armed, thought I, and she has actually
opened fire on us first.
The effect of this unexpected retort on the part of the Englishman was
to throw Weissman into a paroxysm of rage.
"Why don't you fire? What the devil are you waiting for?" etc., etc.,
were some of the remarks he flung at the gun crew.
I did not consider it advisable to mention to him that they were
probably waiting his order to fire, and also his orders for range and
deflection, as I had imagined that, here as everywhere else, an officer
controls the gun-fire. Apparently in this boat it is not so, as
Weissman takes so little interest in his gun that he affects to be, or
else actually is, ignorant of the elements of gun control.
At any rate, under the lash of his tongue, the gun's crew soon got into
action, the gun-layer taking charge. Our first shot was short, very
considerably so, as was also the second. Meanwhile the steamer had been
keeping up a very creditably controlled rate of fire, straddling us
twice, but missing for deflection, as was natural considering that we
were bows on to her.
I felt thoroughly in my element listening to the significant wail of
the enemy's shell, punctuated by the ear-splitting report of our own
gun. Weissman, gripping the rail with both hands, and to my surprise
ducking when one went overhead, watched the target with a fixed
expression, but made no attempt to control our gun-fire, which was far
from creditable, as is inevitable when it is left to the mercy of the
inferior intellect of a seaman.
However, at the tenth or eleventh round we hit her in the upper works,
as was shown by a bright red and yellow flash near her funnel. This did
not check her firing or speed in the least, in fact she seemed to be
gaining on us. She also began to zigzag slightly and throw smoke bombs
overboard, which were not so effective from her point of view as I had
thought they would be.
Matters were thus for some minutes. We had just hit her aft for the
second time, though the shooting was so disgustingly bad that I was
about to ask whether I might do the duties of control officer, when
there was a blinding flash and the air seemed filled with moaning
fragments. When I had recovered from my relief from finding that I was
personally uninjured, I observed that two of the gun's crew were
wounded and one was lying, either killed or seriously wounded, on the
casing. We had been hit in the casing, well forward, and, as was
subsequently proved when we dived, little material damage was caused to
This enemy success caused a temporary cessation of fire. The two
wounded men were cautiously making their way aft to the conning tower,
and I called for a couple of stokers to come up and carry away the
third, when Von Weissman suddenly gave the order to dive. The gun's
crew at once made a rush for the conning tower, and were down the hatch
in a trice, one of the wounded men fainting at the bottom.
I was unaware as to the reason of this order to dive, and thought that
perhaps the Captain had sighted a periscope. As I was turning to
precede him down the conning tower hatch I distinctly saw the man lying
by the gun lift his hand. I felt I could not leave him there, and
instinctively cried, "He is still alive!" But Von Weissman, who was
urging the crew to hurry down the hatch, pressed the diving alarm as
soon as the last sailor was half in the hatch.
I knew that this meant that the boat would be under in 30 to 40
seconds, so I had no alternative but to get down the hatch as quickly
I did so with reluctance, and I was followed by Von Weissman, who
joined me in the upper conning tower.
I forced myself not to look out of the conning tower scuttles during
the few seconds that elapsed as the casing slowly went under, until at
last nothing but waving green water showed at each little window. I
feared that, if I had looked, I would have seen a wounded man, stung
into activity by the cold touch of the Atlantic. Perhaps Von Weissman
read my thoughts, or else he remembered my remark concerning the man,
for he turned to me and in level tones said:
"Have you any doubt that he was dead?"
I hesitated a moment, and he continued:
"By my direction you have no doubt. He _was_!"
How brutal war is, and what a perfect exponent of the art the Captain
proves himself to be! To me a life is a life, a particle of the thing
divine; to him a life is a unit, and a half-maimed and probably dying
seaman is as nothing in the scales when the safety of a U-boat is at
stake. The seamen are numbered in their tens of thousands, the U-boats
in their tens. The steamer had hit us once, luckily only in the casing,
a second hit might well have punctured the pressure hull, and our fate
in these waters would have been certain. Therefore, having summed these
things up and balanced them in his mind, he dived and the sailor died.
Once below water Von Weissman seemed more his imperturbable self, and
unless I am mistaken he is never really happy on the surface, at least
when in action. He is a true water mole.
* * * * *
A day full of interest, though once again I have had to force myself to
absorb the horrors of War. I imagine that I am now going through the
experiences of a new arrival on the Western Front, who feels a desire
to shudder at the sight of every corpse.
At 10 a.m. this morning we sighted the topsails of a sailing boat to
the southwest. Closing her on the surface, we approached to within
about 6,000 metres, when suddenly Von Weissman ordered "Gun Action
The gun crew came tumbling up, but not quick enough to suit him, for as
they were mustering at the gun he gave the order to dive, only,
however, taking her down to periscope depth before instantly ordering
surface and then "Gun Action Stations" again. This time we opened fire
on the ship, which was a Norwegian barque and, being in the barred
zone, liable to destruction.
Von Weissman had announced overnight that at the first opportunity he
would give "that ----- gun's crew a bellyful of practice," and he
certainly did. As soon as the first shot was fired, she backed her
topsails, and when our fourth shot struck her, somewhere near the foot
of the foremast, her crew could be seen hastily abandoning their ship.
This action on their part had no influence with Von Weissman, who had
taken personal charge of the helm, and, with the engines running at
three-quarter speed, he was zigzagging about, to make it harder for the
gun's crew. Every now and then he flung a gibe at the crew, such as
suggesting that they should go back to the High Seas Fleet and learn
how to shoot.
The sailing ship was soon on fire, for, considering the circumstances,
the shooting was very fair, though had I been controlling it I could
have confidently guaranteed better results. When she was blazing nicely
fore and aft, Von Weissman ordered the practice to cease, and sent the
crew below. He then ordered course south, speed ten knots, and I took
over the watch.
An hour and a half later, when the navigator gave me a spell, a black
cloud on the northern horizon marked the funeral pyre of another of our
victims. When I went below, the Captain had just finished playing with
his precious old chart.
* * * * *
We received a message at 2 a.m. last night from Heligoland to return
forthwith; it is now 2 a.m. and we are approaching the redoubtable
Dover Barrage. We had no trouble coming up channel to-day, which seems
singularly empty, at any rate in mid-channel, where we were.
* * * * *
We got back about three hours ago, and as I was appointed temporary to
the boat, Von Weissman kindly allowed me to leave her and come up to
Bruges as soon as we got into the shelters at Zeebrugge.
I got up here just, in time for a late dinner. Hunger satisfied, I
retired to my room and, needless to say, at once rang up my darling
By the mercy of providence she was in, but imagine my sensations when I
heard that that accursed swine of a Colonel was also back from the
front, and expected in at the flat at any moment, being then, she
thought, engaged in his after dinner drinking bouts at the cavalry
officers' club. I could only groan.
A laugh at the other end stung me to furious rage, appeased in an
instant by her soothing tones as she told me that I should be glad to
hear that he was only up from the Somme on a four-days leave, and was
returning next morning by the 8 a.m. troop train. Glad! I could have
danced for joy. I breathed again.
As the Colonel was expected back at any moment she thought it advisable
to terminate the conversation, which was done with obvious reluctance
on her part, or so I flatter myself.
He goes to-morrow, so far so good, but what of the intervening period?
Could any more refined torture be imagined than that I, who love her as
I love my own soul, should have to sit here, whilst scarcely a mile
away, probably at this very moment as I write, that gross brute is
privileged to kiss her, to look at her, to--oh! it's unbearable. When I
think of that hog, for though I've never seen him, I've seen his
photograph, and I know instinctively that he _is_ gross, fresh, as she
says, from a drinking bout, should at this moment be permitted to raise
his pigs' eyes and look into those glorious wells of violet light; when
I think that his is the privilege to see those masses of black hair
fall in uncontrolled splendour, then I understand to the full the deep
pleasures of murder.
I would give anything to destroy this man, and could shake the
Englishman by the hand who fires the delivering bullet!
Steady! Steady! What do I write? No! I mean it, every word of it. Yet
of all the mysteries, and to me Zoe is a mass of them, surely the
strangest of all is contained in the question: Why does she live with
She doesn't love him, she's practically told me so. In fact, I know she
doesn't. Let me reason it out by logic. She lives with him, whether
voluntarily or involuntarily. Suppose it be voluntarily, then her
reasons must be (a) Love; (b) Fascination; (c) Some secret reason. If
she is living with him involuntarily it must be: (d) He has a hold on
her; (e) For financial reasons.
I strike out at once (a) and (e), for in the case of (e) she knows well
that I would provide for her, and (a) I refuse to admit, (b) is hardly
credible--I eliminate that. I am left with (c) and (d) which might be
the same thing. But what hold can he have on her; she can't have a
past, she is too young and sweet for that.
I must find out about this before I go to sea again.
* * * * *
Three days ago, I was racking my brains for the solution of a problem,
and, as I see from what I wrote, I was somewhat outside myself. In the
interval things have taken an amazing turn. I am still bewildered--but
I must put it all down from the beginning.
The Colonel left as she said he would, and I went round to lunch with
We had a delightful _tete-a-tete_, and after lunch she played the
piano. I was feeling in splendid voice and she accompanied me to
perfection in Tchaikowsky's "To the Forest," always a favourite of
mine. As the last chords died away, Zoe jumped up from the piano and,
with eyes dancing with excitement, placed her hands on my shoulders and
"Karl! I have an idea! I shall make a prisoner of you for two or three
I laughed heartily and almost told her that she had already made me a
prisoner for life, only I can never get those sort of remarks out quick
But when she said, "No! I am not joking, I mean it," I felt there was
more meaning in her sentence than I had at first thought. I begged to
be enlightened, and she then unfolded her scheme.
She told me for the first time, that in a forest not far from Bruges
she had a little summer-house, to which she used to retreat for
week-ends in the hot weather when the Colonel was away. He knew nothing
of this country house (she was very insistent on that point), so I
imagined she paid for it out of her dress allowance or in some other
way. The idea that had just struck her was that she had a sudden fancy
to go and spend two days there, and I was to go with her.
I was ready to go to Africa with her if my leave permitted, and it so
happened that I was due for four days' overseas leave (limited to
Belgian territory) so that this fitted in very well, and I told her so.
She was delighted, then, with one of those quick intuitions which women
are so clever at, she read the half-formed thought in my mind, and
said: "You mustn't think it's not going to be conventional; old Babette
will be with us to chaperon me." Old Babette is an aged female whom she
calls her maid. I think she is jealous of me.
I agreed at once that of course I quite understood it was to be highly
conventional, etc., though I smiled to myself as I visualized my
mother's shocked face and uplifted hands had she heard my Zoe's ideas
on the conventions.
I was trying to fathom what was at the bottom of it all when she
remarked: "Of course, as my prisoner you will have to obey all my
I replied that this was certainly so.
"And one of the first things," she continued, "that happens to a
prisoner when he goes through the enemy lines is that he is
blindfolded, and in the same way I shan't let you know where you are
Seeing a doubtful look in my eyes as I endeavoured to keep pace with
the underlying idea, if any, of this truly feminine fancy, she suddenly
came up to me and, lifting her eyes to mine, murmured: "Don't you trust
In a moment my passion flared up, and rained hot kisses on her face as
she struggled to release herself from my arms.
When I left that night after dinner, and, walking on air, returned to
the Mess, it was arranged that I should be at her flat with my
suit-case at 6 p.m. the next evening, prepared, to use her own words,
"to disappear with me for 48 hours."
She had told me of an address in Bruges which she said would forward on
any telegram if I was recalled, and I had to be satisfied with that,
for I may as well say here that I never discovered where I went to, and
I don't know to this moment in what part of Belgium I spent the last
I tried to find out at first, but as she obviously attached some
importance to keeping the locality of her woodland retreat a secret,
probably to circumvent the Colonel, I soon gave up trying to get the
secret from her, and contented myself with taking things as they came.
To go on with my account of what happened--which was really so
remarkable that I propose writing it out in detail to the best of my
memory--at 6 p.m. next day I was naturally at her flat feeling very
much as if I was on the threshold of an adventure.
Zoe was excited and the flat was in a turmoil, as apparently she had
only just begun to pack her dressing-case.
Soon after six we went down and got into a large Mercedes car which I
had noticed standing outside when I arrived. We were soon on our way,
and left Bruges by the Eastern barrier; we showed our passes and
proceeded into the darkened country-side. We had been running for about
a mile when she remarked, "Prisoners will now be blindfolded!" and, to
my astonishment, slipped a little black silk bag over my head.
I was so startled I didn't know whether to be angry, or to laugh, or
what to do. Eventually I did nothing, and, entering into the spirit of
the game, declared that even a wretched prisoner had the right not to
be stifled, whereupon she lifted the lower portion of the bag and
uncovered my mouth. Shortly afterwards I was electrified to feel a pair
of soft lips meet mine, a sensation which was repeated at frequent
intervals, and, as I whispered in her ear, under these conditions I was
prepared to be taken prisoner into the jaws of hell.
This pleasant journey had lasted for about three-quarters of an hour
when my mask was removed and I was informed that I was "inside the
enemy lines!" Through the windows of the car I could dimly see that an
apparently endless mass of fir trees were rushing past on each side.
This state of affairs continued for a kilometre or so, when we branched
to the right and soon entered a large clearing in the forest, at one
side of which stood the house. Babette, Zoe and myself entered the
building, and the car disappeared, presumably back to Bruges.
The house, built of logs, was of two stories; on the ground floor were
two living rooms, and the domains of Babette, who amongst her other
accomplishments turned out to be not only a most capable valet, but a
first-class cook. On the second story there were two large rooms. The
whole house was furnished after the manner of a hunting lodge, with
stags' heads on the walls, and skins on the floors. In the drawing-room
there was a piano and a few etchings of the wild boar by Schaffein.
I dressed for dinner in my "smoking," though under ordinary
circumstances I should have considered this rather formal, but I was
glad I did, for she appeared in full evening _tenue_. She wore a violet
gown, and across her forehead a black satin bandeau with a Z in
diamonds upon it. It must have cost two thousand marks, and I wondered
with a dull kind of jealousy whether the Colonel had given it to her.
I cannot remember of what we talked during dinner. We have a hundred
subjects in common, and we look at so many aspects of the world through
the same pair of eyes; I only know that when I have been talking to her
for a period--there is no exact measurement of time for me when I am
with her--I leave her presence feeling "completed." I feel that a sort
of gap within my being has been filled, that a spiritual hunger has
been satisfied, that I have got something which I wanted, but for which
I could not have formulated the desire in words. I had resolved that on
this first night I would bring matters between us to a head and end
this delicious but intolerable uncertainty as to how we stood; yet,
when old Babette had served us with coffee in the drawing-room, as I
call the second living-room, and we were alone together, I could not
bring up the subject. Partly because I think she prevented me so doing
by that skilful shepherding of the conversation into other paths with
an artfulness with which God endows all women, and also partly because
I could not screw myself up to the pitch. I could not, or rather would
not, put my fate to the touch. I had a presentiment that in reaching
for the summit I might fall from the slope. Alas! how true was this
foreboding in some senses--but I will keep all things in their right
[Illustration: "_The track met our ram_."]
[Illustration: In the flash I caught a glimpse of his conning tower]
Let it only be recorded that when she kissed me good-night (with the
tenderness of a mother) and left me to smoke a final cigar I had said
nothing, and I could only wonder at the strange fate that had placed me
practically alone with a girl whom I had grown to love with a deep
emotion, and who appeared to love me, yet often behaved as if I was her
The next day we were like two children. The snow was deep on the
ground, and the fir trees stood like thousands of sentinels in grey
uniform round the clearing. Once during the afternoon, as with Zoe's
assistance I was furiously chopping wood for the fire, a droning noise
made me look up, and thousands of metres overhead a small squadron of
aeroplanes, evidently bound for the Western Front, sailed slowly across
the sky. I thought how awkward it would be for them if they experienced
an engine failure whilst over the forest, though they were up so high
that I imagine they could have glided ten kilometres, and as I think
(but I am not certain, and I have pledged myself not to try and find
out) we were in the Forest of Montellan, which is barely fifteen
kilometres broad, I suppose they could have fallen clear of the trees.
As a matter of fact I imagine they would have used our clearing--I'm
glad they didn't.
That night after dinner she played to me, first Beethoven and then
Chopin. I can see her as I write; she had just finished the 14th
Prelude and, resting her chin on her hand, she smiled mysteriously at
The hour had come, and, driven by strong impulses, I spoke. I told her
that I loved her as I had never thought that a man could love a woman;
I told her that I longed to shield her and protect her, and above all
things to remove her from the clutches of that bestial Colonel, and as
I bent over her and felt my senses swim in the subtleties of her
perfume, I begged her passionately to say the word that would give me
the right to fight the world on her behalf.
When I had finished she was silent for a long while, and I can remember
distinctly that I wondered whether she could hear the thump! thump!
thump! of my heart, which to my agitated mind seemed to beat with the
strength of a hammer.
At length she spoke; two words came slowly from her lips:
I was not discouraged. I could see, I could feel, that a tremendous
struggle was raging, the outward signs of which were concealed by her
At length I asked her point-blank whether she loved me. Her silence
gave me my answer, and I took her unresisting body into my arms and
kissed her to distraction. Oh! these kisses, how bitter they seem to me
now, and yet how I long to hold her once again. For, freeing herself
from my embrace and speaking almost mechanically, she said:
"Karl! I must tell you. I cannot marry you."
I pleaded, I prayed, I argued, I demanded. It was in vain; I always
came up against the immovable "I cannot."
And then I crashed over the precipice towards whose edge I had been
blindly going. I had said for the hundredth time, "But you know you
love me," when with a sob she abandoned all reserve, and, flinging her
arms round my neck, implored me to take her. Then, as I caught my
breath, she quickly said, as if frightened that she had gone too far,
"But I cannot marry you."
I looked down into those beautiful eyes, and for the first time I
understood. For perhaps ten seconds I battled for my soul and the
purity of our love; then, tearing my sight from those eyes which would
lure an archangel to destruction, I was once more master of my body. As
my resolution grew, I hated her for doing this thing that had wrecked
in an instant the hopes of months, the ideals on which I had begun to
build afresh my life.
She felt the change, and left me.
As she went out by the door she gave me one last look, a look in which
love struggled with shame, a look which no man has ever earned the
right to receive from any woman.
But I was as a statue of marble, dazed by this calamity.
As the door closed upon her, I started forward--it was too late.
Had she waited another instant--but there, I write of what has happened
and not what might have been.
I did not sleep that night, until the dawn began to separate each fir
tree from the black mass of the forest. Twice in the night, with shame
I confess it, I opened my door and looked down the little passage-way;
and twice I closed the door and threw myself upon my bed in an agony of
torment. It was ten o'clock when a knock at the door aroused me, and
the sunlight through the window-pane was tracing patterns on the floor.
There was a note on the breakfast table, but before I opened it I knew
that, save for Babette, I was alone in the house.
The note was brief, unaddressed and unsigned. I have it here before me;
I have meant to tear it up but I cannot. It is a weakness to keep it,
but I have lost so much in the last few days, that I will not grudge
myself some small relic of what has been. The note says:
"I am leaving for Bruges at half-past eight, when the car was ordered
to fetch us back. I go alone. Babette will give you breakfast. The car
will return for you at eleven o'clock. I rely on your honour in that
you will not observe where you have been. Come to me when you want
me--till then, farewell."
It was as she said, and I honourably acceded to her request. This
afternoon just before lunch I arrived in Bruges, and since tea-time I
have tried to write down what has happened since I left the day before
yesterday. Oh! how could she do it, how can it be possible that she is
a woman like that? I could have sworn that she was not like this--and
yet how can I account for her life with the Colonel? There must be some
reason, but in Heaven's name, what?
Meanwhile I am to go to her when I want her! And that will be when I
can give her my name. But oh! Zoe, I want you now, so badly, oh! so
* * * * *
I saw her once to-day in the gardens, walking by herself.
* * * * *
I have told Max's secretary that I want to get to sea; to be here in
Bruges and not to see her is more than I can bear.
I sail at dawn to-morrow. Shall I see her? No, it is best not.
A frightful noise over the New Year celebrations to-night. Champagne
flowing like water in the Mess. I feel the year 1917 opens badly for
Weissman also went to sea again for a short trip in the Channel, and
has not reported for five days. Perhaps he has despised the Dover
Barrage once too often. If this is so, it is a great loss to the
service: he was a man of iron resolution in underwater attack.
I feel I ought to despise Zoe, but I can't. I love her too much; after
all, am I not perhaps encasing myself in the robe of a Pharisee?
She offered me all she had, save only the one thing I asked, without
which I will take nothing. I cannot reconcile her behaviour with her
character; why can't she trust me? why can't she be frank with me? I
will not believe she is that sort.
I feel I cannot go out again without a _sign_--I may not return, and I
will not leave her, perhaps for ever, with this bitterness between us.
* * * * *
At sea in U.C.47 again. Alten as surly as ever.
I decided finally to write to Zoe, but found it difficult to know what
to say. Eventually I said more than I had intended. I told her frankly
that I experienced a shock, but that I had not meant to seem so cold,
and that what I had done had been done for both our sakes. I told her
that I still loved her, and I implored her once more to leave the
Colonel and come to me as my wife.
Already I long to know what message awaits me on my return.
This will not be for three days. We left at dawn this morning to lay
mines off the channel to Harwich harbour; a nest from which submarines,
cruisers and destroyers buzz in and out like wasps. It will be ticklish
_On the bottom_.
Our mines are still with us, but so are our lives, which is something.
We were approaching the appointed spot at 6 a.m. this morning, when
without the slightest warning the track of a torpedo was seen streaking
towards us about 50 yards on the starboard bow.
Before Alten (who was on the bridge with me) could do more than press
the diving alarm, the track met our ram. I breathed again, and was then
reminded by an oath from Alten that the boat was diving.
It was evident that we had only been saved by the torpedo running deep
under the cut-away part of our bow, otherwise!--well, the tangle of my
affairs would have been easily straightened.
Further procedure on the surface was suicidal, and we kept hydrophone
patrol, twice hearing the motors of the enemy submarine. At the moment
we are on the bottom waiting to come up and charge to-night, and lay
our mines at dawn to-morrow.
* * * * *
On the bottom in 28 metres and feeling none too comfortable, as there
would appear to be about a dozen destroyers overhead.
Last night, or rather early this morning, I participated in one of the
most extraordinary incidents that I have ever heard of.
It was pitch-black dark when I took over at 4 a.m., and a fresh breeze
had raised a lumpy sea, which covered the bridge with spray. We were
charging 400 amps on each, with the intention of laying one mine
directly there was sufficient light to get a fix from some of the buoys
which the English stick down all over the place here in the most
convenient manner possible. If only one could believe they never
shifted them. Alten says it never occurs to an Englishman to do a thing
like that, but I'm not so sure. However, we were proceeding along at
about five knots, crashing into the sea rather badly, when out of the
black beastliness of the night I saw a shape close aboard on the port
As I hesitated for a second as to my course of action, I was astounded
to see a large submarine which must have been British, on an opposite
course, not more than 25 metres away!
This sounds absurd, but it really wasn't further. I'm not ashamed to
confess that I was completely disorganized; it did not seem possible
that the enemy was literally alongside me.
I don't know how it struck the officer in the British boat, but I must
give him credit for doing something first, for he fired a Very's white
light straight at me as the two boats passed. It impinged on the hull,
and in the flash I caught a photographic glimpse of his conning tower,
on which was painted the letter E, followed by two numbers, of which
one was a two I think, and the other a nine.
By this time he was on my port quarter and rapidly disappearing; in a
frenzy of rage I managed to get my revolver out, and whilst with the
left hand I pressed the diving alarm, with the right hand I emptied the
magazine in his direction. When we were down, Alten practically
refused to believe me, which made me very pleased that in descending I
had trod on a pair of hands which turned out to be his, as he had
started up the ladder to the upper conning tower when he first heard
I presume our opponent dived as well, but evidently he had put two and
two together and used his aerial at some period, for when at dawn we
poked a periscope up, a flotilla of destroyers appeared to be looking
for something, which "something" was us, unless I am much mistaken; so
we bottomed, where we have been ever since. The Hydroplane Operator
keeps up a monotonous sing-song to the effect that "Fast running
propellers are either receding or approaching." The crew are collected
round the mine-tubes as I write, and are singing a lugubrious song, the
refrain of which runs:
"Death for the Fatherland! Glorious fate,
This is the end that we gladly await."
Why will the seamen always become morbid when possible? And there is
not a man amongst them who is not inwardly thinking of some beer-hall
in Bruges, though I suppose that like their betters they have their
romances of a tenderer kind.
* * * * *
The boat has been rolling about on the bottom in the most sickening
manner the whole afternoon. We flooded P and Q to capacity, which gave
her 50 tons negative, but it seems to have little effect in steadying
her, and it is evident that a really heavy gale is running on top.
* * * * *
Surfaced at 10 p.m.; a very heavy sea running and impossible to do much
more than heave to. This weather has one point in its favour and that
is that the destroyers are driven in.
It got steadily worse all night, and at midnight we lost our foremost
wireless mast overboard; we have now (10 a.m.) been 48 hours without
communication. At dawn we could see nothing to fix by; not a buoy in
sight, nothing but an expanse of foam-topped short steep waves of dirty
neutral-tinted water; how different to the great green and white surges
of the broad Atlantic.
Under these circumstances Alten decided to risk it and return without
laying our mines; for once in a way I agreed with him, as it is better
not to lay a minefield at all than dump one down in some unknown
position which one may have to traverse oneself in the course of a
month or so. We are now slowly, very slowly, struggling back to
A green sea came down the conning tower to-day, and everything in the
boat is damp and smelly and beastly. The propellers race at frequent
intervals and the whole boat shudders--I feel miserable.
Alten has started to drink spirits; he began as soon as we decided to
go back. He will be incapable by to-night, and it means that I shall
have to take her in.
What hell this is, sitting in sodden clothes, with the stench of four
days' living assaulting the nostrils, and a motion of the devil; the
glass is very low and is slowly rising, so that I suppose it will blow
harder soon, though it is about force eight at present.
I wonder what Zoe will have written in reply to my note. When I think
of what I rejected and compare it with my beast-like existence here, I
can hardly believe that I behaved as I did--what would I not give now
to be transported back to the forest! At this rate of progress we shall
take another 24 hours. I wonder if I can knock another half-knot out of
her without smashing her up.
* * * * *
The extraordinarily violent motion has upset the _Anschutz_.  The
bearing cone of the stabilizing gyro has cracked, and the master
compass began to wander off in circles. I was just resting for an hour
or two, wedged up on a wet settee with coats equally wet, when her
heavy pitching changed to a wallowing roll, and I heard the pilot, who
was on watch, cursing down the voice-pipe, as we had sagged off our
[Footnote 1: Gyroscopic compass.--ETIENNE.]
I heard the voice of the helmsman querulously maintain that he was
steering his course by _Anschutz_, so I got up and gingerly clawed my
way into the control room, where I found by comparing _Anschutz_ with
magnetic that the former had gone to hell, the reason being obvious, as
the stabilizer was exerting a strongly biased torque. I stopped the
_Anschutz_ and asked the pilot to give the helmsman a steady by
As we staggered back to our course I heard a thud in the wardroom, and
on returning to my settee found that Alten had rolled out of his bunk,
where he was lying in a drunken stupor, and that he was face downwards,
sprawling on the deck, half his face in the broken half of a dirty dish
which had fallen off the table whilst I was having tea. As I couldn't
let the crew see him like this, I was obliged to struggle and get him
back into his bunk. He was like a log and absolutely incapable of
rendering me any assistance, though he did open his eyes and mutter
once or twice as I lifted him up, trunk first and then his legs. He
stank of spirits and I hated touching him. Lord! what a truly hoggish
man he is; yet I cannot help envying him his oblivion to these
* * * * *
Arrived in, this afternoon.
Alten quite slept off his drink, and was offensively sarcastic as I
worked on the forepart with wires, getting her into the shelters
alongside the mole.
I hastened up to Bruges, and in the Mess heard several items of news
and found two letters. The first, in a well-known handwriting, I opened
eagerly, but received a chill of disappointment when I read its single
"I am here when you want me.--Z."
So she thinks to break my resolution!
No! I am stronger than she, and, now that I know she loves me, I can
and will bend her to my will. Even now, at this distance of time, I can
hardly understand my conduct the other day. I must have been given the
strength of ten. I feel that I could not do it again; had she hesitated
a second longer at the door--well, I can hardly say what I would have
It is my duty to do so, for her sake and my own. But I know my
weakness, and in this fact lies my strength. Cost what it may, I shall
not permit myself to go near her until she yields.
The second letter gave me a great surprise. It was from Rosa. She has
passed some examination, and is coming _here_ of all places as a Red
Cross nurse. She says she is looking forward to going round a U-boat!
She assumes a good deal, I must say, still, I suppose I must be polite
to her; but why the deuce does she sign herself "Yours, Rosa?" She's
not mine, and I don't want her; it seems funny to me that I once
thought of her vaguely in that sort of way. Now, I feel rather
disturbed that she is coming here, though I don't quite see why I
should worry, and yet I wonder if it is a coincidence her coming to
I'm almost inclined to think it isn't. After all, every girl wants to
get married, and without conceit my family, circumstances and, in the
privacy of the pages of this journal I may add, my personal
appearances, are such as would appeal to most girls--except Zoe,
I'll have to be on my guard against Miss Rosa.
I heard to-day that I am likely to be appointed to the periscope school
in a few weeks' time, and meanwhile I am to be attached as
supernumerary to the operations division on old Max's staff.
* * * * *
The work here is most interesting. I feel glad that I am one of the
spiders weaving the web for Britain's destruction.
The impasse with Zoe still continues, and my peace of mind has been
still further disturbed by the actual arrival of Rosa. She rang me up
within twelve hours of her arrival, and, of course, I was obliged to
call. That was the day before yesterday. Rosa is at the No. 3 Hospital
here, and was horribly effusive. Some people would, I suppose, call her
good-looking, but to me, with my mind's-eye in perpetual contemplation
of my darling Zoe, Rosa looked like a turnip. Her first movement after
the preliminary greetings was to offer me a cigarette! I then noticed
that her fingers were stained with nicotine, unpleasant in a man,
disgusting in a woman.
Her nose was shiny and greasy--horrible. After a little talk she
volunteered the statement that yesterday was her afternoon off, and she
was simply longing to have tea in the gardens.
I endeavoured to make some feeble excuse on the grounds of the weather
being unsuitable, but I am no good at these social lies, and I was
eventually obliged to promise to take her there. I was the more annoyed
in that her main object was obviously to be seen walking with a U-boat
Accordingly, yesterday, I found myself walking about with her at my
side. My feelings can better be imagined than described when I suddenly
saw Zoe, accompanied by Babette, in the distance. I hastily altered
course, and pray she didn't see me.
In the course of the afternoon Rosa had the impertinence to say that at
Frankfurt they were saying that I was interested in a beautiful widow
at Bruges, and could she (Rosa) write and say I was heart-whole, or
else what the girl was like. I'm afraid that I lost my temper a little,
and I told Rosa she could write to all the busybodies at home and tell
them from me to go to the devil.
These women in the home circle, and especially aunts, are always the
same; firstly, they badger one to get married, and then if they think
one is contemplating such a step they are all agog to find out whether
she is suitable!
* * * * *
Three more boats, two of which are U.C.'s, are overdue. It is
distinctly unpleasant not knowing how or where they go, though the U.B.
boat (Friederich Althofen) made her incoming position the day before
yesterday as off Dungeness, so it looks as if the barrage at Dover
which got Weissman has got Althofen as well. I wonder what new devilry
they have put down there.
How one wishes that in 1914, instead of seeking the capture of Paris,
we had realized the importance of the Channel Ports to England, and
struck for them!
It would not have been necessary to strike even in September, 1914. We
could have walked into them. Dunkirk, at all events, should have been
ours; however, we must do the best with things as they are, not that I
would consider it too late even now to make a big push for the French
It would seem, as a matter of fact, that all the pushing is to be at
the other end of the line, in the Verdun sector, from the rumours I
hear, though I should have thought once bitten twice shy in that
* * * * *
Saw Zoe again in the distance, and I think she saw me; at all events
she turned round and walked away.
This girl whom I cannot, and would not if I could, obliterate from my
thoughts, is causing me much worry.
She shows no sign of giving in, and I for one intend to be adamant. I
shall defeat her in time. The male intellect is always ultimately
victorious, other things being equal. I was reading Schopenhauer on the
subject last night. What a brain that man had, though I confess his
analysis of the female mentality is so terribly and truthfully cruel
that it jars on certain of my feelings.
Zoe's resolution in this conflict, this sex war one might call it, only
adds to her charm in my eyes; she is, I feel, a worthy mate for me,
both intellectually and physically, and she shall be mine--I have
Met Rosa to-day at old Max's house, where I went to pay a duty call.
Her Excellency is as forbidding a specimen of her sex as any I have
ever met. She quite frightened me, and in the home circle the old man
seemed quite subdued.
I escorted Rosa home, and on the way to her hospital she gave me a
great surprise, as after much evasive talk she suddenly came out with
the news that she was engaged to Heinrich Baumer, of U.C.23. I was
quite taken aback, and will frankly confess that not so very long ago I
imagined, evidently erroneously, that she was disposed to let her
affections become engaged in another quarter. However, I was really
very glad to hear this news, and congratulated her with genuine
The knowledge that she was a promised woman quite altered my feelings
towards her, and before I quite meant to, I had told her a considerable
amount about Zoe. It gave me much relief to be able to unburden myself,
and confide my difficulties elsewhere than in the pages of this
I have asked the girl to tea to-morrow.
* * * * *
A vile air raid last night. British machines, of course. They seemed
determined to get over the town, and from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. relays of
machines (of which not _one_ was shot down) attacked us. The din was
tremendous, and all sleep was out of the question.
Morning revealed surprisingly little damage, as is often the case in
these big raids, whereas a few bombs from a chance machine often work
havoc. I was down at 50 B.C. aerodrome this morning, and heard that as
soon as the moon suits we are going to make Dunkirk sit up as
retaliation for last night's efforts. There were also rumours of big
attacks impending on London as soon as the new type of Gothas are
delivered. That will shake the smug security of those cursed islanders.
Rosa came to tea, and afterwards I told her more about Zoe, and as I
expect any day to be appointed to the periscope school at Kiel, I asked
Rosa to try and effect an introduction to Zoe, and do what she could
for me. Rosa gave me the impression that she was somewhat surprised
that I should have had any difficulty with Zoe (of course I had not
told her of the shooting-box scene). Rosa evidently thinks any woman
ought to be honoured....
Perhaps I was not so far wrong in my surmises as to Rosa's previous
inclinations--I wonder; at any rate she will undoubtedly make Baumer a
good wife, and she will probably be very fruitful and grow still fatter
and housewifely. She is of a type of woman appointed by God in his
foresight as breeders. Zoe, my adorable one, will probably not take
kindly to babies.
* * * * *
I am ordered to report myself at Kiel by next Monday.
I am terribly tempted to ring up Zoe on the telephone before I leave:
it seems dreadful to leave her without a word; but at the same time I
feel that she would interpret this as a sign of weakness on my part--as
indeed it would be. I must be firm, for strength of mind pays with
women, even more than with men.
I left Bruges without a word either to or from my obstinate darling.
It is torture being away from her. I had thought that when I was here
and not exposed to the temptation of going round and seeing her, that
it would be easier; it is not. I long to write, and how I wonder
whether she is feeling it as I do.
I have read somewhere that a woman's passion once aroused is more
ungovernable than a man's. That her whole being cries aloud for me
cannot be doubted, and if the above statement is true what
inflexibility of will she must be showing--it almost makes me fear--but
no, I will defeat her in this strange contest, and she shall be my
The work here is strenuous, and the grass does not grow under one's
feet. The course for commanding officers lasts four weeks, and
terminates in an exceedingly practical but rather fearsome test--i.e.,
they have six steamers here camouflaged after the English fashion with
dazzle painting, and these six steamers, protected by launches and
harbour defence craft, steam across Kiel Bay in the manner of a convoy.
The officer being examined has to attack this group of ships in one of
the instructional submarines, and in three attacks he must score at
least two hits, or else, in theory, he is returned to general service
in the Fleet.
Fortunately at the moment I hear that owing to recent losses they are
distinctly on the short side where submarine officers are concerned, so
they'll probably make it easy when I do my test.
* * * * *
I see I have written nothing here for a fortnight; this is due to two
causes: Firstly, I have been so extraordinarily busy, and, secondly, I
have been most depressed through a letter I received from Fritz. It
contained two items of bad news.
In the first place, I heard for the first time of the tragedy of
Heinrich Baumer's boat, and to my astonishment Fritz tells me that Rosa
and another girl were in her when she was lost!
It appears that she was to go out for a couple of hours' diving off the
port as a matter of routine after her two months' overhaul. She went
out at 10 a.m., and was sighted from the signal station at the end of
the mole at 11.30, when almost immediately afterwards there was an
explosion and she disappeared. Motor-boats were quickly on the scene,
but only debris came to the surface. Divers were sent down, and
reported that she was in ten metres of water completely shattered. It
is assumed, for lack of other explanation, that she struck a chance
drifting mine which was moving down the coast on the tide.
Meanwhile Rosa and another sister were missing from the hospital, and
after forty-eight hours someone put two and two together and started
investigations. It has been ascertained that Baumer motored down from
Bruges after breakfast, and that in the car were two figures taken to
be sailors, as they were muffled up in oilskins. This fact was noted by
the control sentries, as, though the day was showery, it was not
raining hard. Other scraps of evidence unite in showing that these were
the two girls who had apparently induced Baumer to take them out for a
dive as a treat.
What a tragedy! However, it must have been quite instantaneous. Poor
Rosa, with all her vanities about war work, to think that the war would
claim her like that! 
[Footnote 1: It is known that a boat with women on board was lost
whilst exercising off Zeebrugge in the Spring of 1917. This would
appear to be the boat in question.--ETIENNE.]
Fritz added that old Max is almost off his head with rage over the
whole business, and it is difficult to say whether he is more angry
over Baumer and the boat being lost, or over the fact that Baumer being
dead he is unable to administer those "disciplinary actions" in which
* * * * *
Great excitement here, as the day after to-morrow His Imperial Majesty
the Kaiser and Hindenburg are due to pay Kiel a surprise visit. We are
to be inspected and addressed. Tremendous preparations are going on.
* * * * *
His Majesty, accompanied by the great Field-Marshal, inspected us this
morning, and made a fine speech, of which we have been given printed
copies. I shall frame mine and hang it in my boat, if I get a command.
I transcribe it:
"Officers and men of the U-boat service:
"In the midst of the anxious moments in which we live I have determined
to make time to come and witness in my own person the labours of those
on whom I and the Fatherland rely. Fresh from the great battles on the
West which are gnawing at the vitals of our hereditary enemies, I come
to those whose glorious mission it will be to strike relentlessly at
our most deadly and cunning enemy--cursed Britain. God is on our side
and will protect you at sea for, in the striking at the nation which
openly boasts that it aims at starving our women and children, you are
engaged on a mission of undoubted holiness.
"You must sink and destroy even as of old the Israelites smote and
destroyed the alien races.
"To the officers I would particularly say, my person is your honour,
and I am your supreme chief. From my hands you will receive honour, and
from my hands will proceed just punishment for the unhappy ones who
fail in their duty.
"To the men I would say, trust and obey your officers as you would your
God. Officers and men! In you, your Kaiser and Fatherland place their
trust--let neither be disappointed!"
After his address, His Majesty graciously spoke a few words to
individuals, of whom I had the signal honour of being one. I felt that
I was in the presence of an Emperor. His gestures, his eyes, his voice,
impressed me as belonging to a man born to command and to fill high
places. The Field-Marshal never opened his mouth. I understand from his
A.D.C. that he rarely speaks in public.
* * * * *
The Colonel is KILLED! When I think about it, I am so excited I can
I heard the great news last night, quite by accident. I was sitting in
the Mess after dinner, and picked up _Die Woche_, and glancing at the
pictures, I suddenly saw the portrait of Colonel Stein, of the
Brandenburgers, killed on the 7th instant near Ypres. I recognized the
ugly and bloated face immediately from the photograph of him which she
had once shown me.
My first impulse was to send her a wire, but, on thinking matters over,
I decided that it would be difficult to put all my thoughts into the
curt sentences of a telegram, and, further, that as all wires are
doubtless examined at the Main Post Office at Bruges, it might lead to
trouble, so I wrote her a letter.
This, in a way, has been an exhibition of weakness on my part, as I had
promised myself that I would not take the first step in reopening
communication; but I feel that the fortunate death of Stein has
completely altered the case. I told her in the letter that I realized
that I had made mistakes, but that if she still loved me with half the
strength that I loved her, then a telegram to me would make me the
happiest of men.
I wrote that yesterday, but have had no wire. Perhaps, like me, she
distrusts telegrams and prefers letters.
* * * * *
A long letter from Zoe: an accursed fetter--an abominable letter--a
damnable letter; she still refuses to marry me. I leave for Bruges
to-night on forty-eight hours' special leave.
I hate Zoe, she has broken my heart.
After her preposterous letter of the 14th, I decided that in a matter
which so closely affected my happiness no stone ought to remain
unturned to ensure a satisfactory solution of the problem, so I
determined to have a personal interview. I arrived at Bruges after tea
and went at once to the flat.
I tackled her immediately on the subject of her letter, and told her
that naturally I understood that a decent interval must elapse before
we married; but, granted this fact, I told her that I failed to see
what prevented our marriage.
A most unpleasant and harrowing scene ensued, the details of which form
such painful recollections that I really cannot write them down here,
though in the passage of months I have acquired the habit of writing in
the pages of this journal with the same freedom as I would talk to that
wife whom I had hoped to possess. She maintained an obstinate silence
when I urged her to give me at least some tangible reason as to why she
would not marry me. She contented herself and maddened me by reflecting
in a kind of monotone: "I love you, Karl! and am yours, but I cannot
I could have beaten her till she was senseless, but I had enough sense
to realize that with Zoe, whose resolution, considering she is a woman,
amazes me, force is not the best method. As I continued to press her
(time was important: had I not journeyed far to see her?), those
glorious eyes of hers, which I love and whose power I dread, filled
with tears. I was a brute! I was heartless! I was inconsiderate! I
could not love her! I was cruel! And I know not what other accusation
crushed me down.
Broken-hearted and dispirited, I told her to choose there and then.
She collapsed on to a sofa in a storm of tears, and after a severe
mental struggle I took the only possible course, and leaving the
room--left her for ever. I have resumed my service life determined to
cast her out from my mind.
I will not deceive myself: it will be hard. Love and Logic are deadly
enemies, but Logic must and shall prevail. Though I have seen her for
the last time, I cannot escape the net of fascination which the girl
has thrown over me. Perhaps in the course of time I shall slowly emerge
and free myself from its entanglements. At present I hate her for this
blow she has dealt me, and yet, O Zoe! my darling, how I long to be
* * * * *
To-day I went through my final test for qualification as U-boat
At 9 a.m. I proceeded to sea in command of the U.11, one of the
instructional boats here. We proceeded out into Kiel Bay. On board and
watching my every movement was a committee consisting of a commander
and two lieutenant-commanders.
On arrival at the entrance lightship, I was ordered to attack a convoy
of camouflaged ships which were just visible about fifteen kilometres
away off the Spit Bank. I had a very shrewd idea as to the course they
would steer, and on coming up for my final observation I found myself
in an excellent position, 1,000 metres on the bow of the leading ship.
The rest was easy. I gave the leader the two bow torpedoes, and,
turning sixteen points, fired my stern tube at the third ship of the
line. Two hits were obtained, and I returned to harbour well pleased
with myself. There is not the slightest chance of having failed to
* * * * *
My confidence in myself was not misplaced; I heard to-day that I am on
the command list, and anticipate in a few days being appointed to a
boat. I wonder which craft I shall get?
* * * * *
I met the A.D.C. to the Chief of the Staff at the school, at the
gardens, and in conversation with him discovered that he had heard that
three boats were being detached from the Flanders flotilla for an
unknown destination. This has given me an idea, for I feel that I can
never return to Bruges, and I was rather dreading being appointed to
one of the boats there. I have dropped a line to Fritz Regels, who is
on old Max's staff, and told him that I do not wish to return to
Bruges, and I further hinted that I understood a detached squadron was
proceeding somewhere, and, as far as I was concerned, the further the
better, if I could get into it.
I have tried the night life at this place at the Mascotte and
Trocadero,  in order to forget, but it is a poor consolation.
[Footnote 1: Two well-known cabarets at Kiel.--ETIENNE.]
* * * * *
A letter from Fritz, saying that he has an idea that Korting's boat
would suit me, though he could not of course give me further details in
a letter; however, he informs me positively that I shall not be at
On the strength of this I have wired to Fritz, and asked him to try and
fix up an exchange between me and Korting, provided the latter is
agreeable and the people in Max's office have no objection. I have a
recollection that Korting's boat is one of the U.40--U.60 class, which
would suit me admirably, and, as for destination, I care not where it
is, provided only that it be far from Bruges.
I have quite neglected my poor old journal for several weeks. But I
have passed through an extraordinarily busy period.
It was approved that I should relieve Korting, whose boat, the U.59, I
discovered to be refitting at Wilhelmshaven. I was very pleased not to
go back to Bruges, though as we steam steadily north at this moment I
cannot escape a sense of deep disappointment that upon my return from
this trip I shall not enjoy as of old the fascination of Zoe. But I
shall have plenty of time to get accustomed to this idea, for this is
no ordinary trip.
We are bound for the North Cape and Murman Coast, where we remain until
well into the cold weather--at any rate, for three months.
Our mission is to work off that fogbound and desolate coast, and attack
the constant stream of traffic between England and Archangel. There are
two other boats besides ourselves on the job, but we shall all be
working far apart.
Our first billet is off the North Cape. In order to save time, we are
to be provisioned once a month in one of the fjords. I don't imagine
the Admiralty will have any difficulty in getting supplies up to us, as
at the moment we are off the Lofotens, and we actually have not had to
dive since we left the Bight!
There seems to be nothing on the sea except ourselves. Where is the
much vaunted and impenetrable web of blockade which the English are
supposed to have spread around us? And yet many raw materials are
getting very short with us. I see that in this boat they have replaced
several copper pipes with steel ones during her refit, and this will
lead to trouble unless we are careful--steel pipes corrode so badly
that I never feel ready to trust them for pressure work.
The truth about the blockade is that it is largely a paper blockade,
yet not ineffective for all that. Unfortunately for us, the damned
English and their hangers-on control the cables of the world, and hence
all the markets, and I don't suppose, to take the case of copper, that
a single pound of it is mined from the Rio Tinto without the British
Board of Trade knowing all about it. The neutral firms simply dare not
risk getting put on to the British Black List; it means ruination for
them. And then all these dollar-grabbing Yankees, enjoying all the
advantages of war without any of its dangers--they make me sick.
This seems a most profitable job. I have only been up seven days, but
I've bagged four steamers, all by gun-fire, and all fat ships, brimful
of stuff for the Russians. My practice has been to make the North Cape
every day or two to fix position, as the currents are the most abnormal
in these parts, and I should say that the "Sailing Directions Pilotage
Handbook" and "Tidal Charts" were compiled by a gentleman at a desk who
had never visited these latitudes.
At the moment I am standing well out to sea, as the immediate vicinity
of the North Cape has become rather unhealthy.
Yesterday afternoon (I had sunk number four in the morning, and the
crew were still pulling for the coast) four British trawlers turned up.
These damned little craft seem to turn up wherever one goes. I longed
to have a bang at them with my gun, but, apart from the uncertainty as
to what they carried in the way of armament, I have strict orders to
avoid all that sort of thing, so I dived and steamed slowly west, came
up at dusk and proceeded to charge up my batteries.
These U.6O's are excellent boats, and I am very lucky to get one so
soon. I suppose Korting, being a married man, wants to stay near his
wife. I cannot write that word without painful memories of Zoe and idle
thoughts of what might have been. Well, perhaps it is for the best. I
am not sure that a member of the U-boat service has the right to get
married in war-time, for unless he is of exceptional mentality it must
affect his outlook under certain circumstances, though I think I should
have been an exception here. Then the anxiety to the woman must be
enormous; as every trip comes round a voice must cry within her, this
may be the last. The contrast between the times in harbour and the
trips is so violent, so shattering and clear cut.
With a soldier's wife, she merely knows that he is at the front; with
us, at 8 p.m. one may be kissing one's wife in Bruges, and at 6 a.m.
creeping with nerves on edge through the unknown dangers of the Dover
Barrage--but I have strayed from what I meant to write about--my first
command and her crew.
The quarters in this class are immensely superior to the U.C.-boats.
Here I have a little cabin to myself, with a knee-hole table in it. My
First Lieutenant, the Navigator and the Engineer have bunks in a room
together, and then we have a small officers' mess.
On this job up here, as we are not to return to Germany for supplies,
and, consequently, I should say we may have to live on what we can get
out of steamers, I don't propose to use my torpedoes unless I meet a
warship or an exceptionally large steamer.
The gun's the thing, as Arnauld de la Perriere has proved in the
Mediterranean; but half the fellows won't follow his example, simply
because they don't realize that it's no use employing the gun unless it
is used accurately, and good shooting only comes after long drill.
I have impressed this fact on my gun crew, and particularly the two
gun-layers, and I make Voigtman (my young First Lieutenant) take the
crew through their loading drill twice a day, together with practice of
rapid manning of the gun after a "surface" or rapid abandonment of the
gun should the diving alarms sound in the middle of practice. I have
also impressed on Voigtman that I consider that he is the gun control
officer, and that I expect him to make the efficient working of the gun
his main consideration.
As regards the crew, they are the usual mixed crowd that one gets
nowadays: half of them are old sailors, the others recruits and new
arrivals from the Fleet. My main business at the moment is to get the
youngsters into shape, and for this purpose I have been doing a number
of crash dives. It also gives me an opportunity of getting used to the
boat's peculiarities under water. She seems to have a tendency to
become tail-heavy, but this may be due to bad trimming.
Voigtman has been in U.B.43 for nine months, and seems a capable
officer. Socially, I don't think he can boast of much descent, but he
has no airs, and treats me with pleasing respect, apart from service
* * * * *
A very awkward accident took place this morning, which resulted in
severe injury to Johann Wiener, my second coxswain.
A party of men under his direction were engaged in shifting the stern
torpedo from its tube, in order to replace it with a spare torpedo, as
I never allow any of my torpedoes to stay in the tube for more than a
week at a time owing to corrosion. The torpedo which had been in the
tube had been launched back and was on the floor plates.
The spare torpedo, destined for the vacant tube, was hanging overhead,
when without any warning the hook on the lifting band fractured, and
the 1,000 kilogrammes' mass of metal crashed down.
Wonderful to relate, no one was killed, but two men were badly bruised,
and Wiener has been very seriously injured. He was standing astride the
spare torpedo, and his right leg was extremely badly crushed, mostly
below the knee.
Unfortunately it took about ten minutes to release him from his
position of terrible agony. I should have expected him to faint, but he
did not. His face went dead white, and he began to sweat freely, but
otherwise endured his ordeal with praiseworthy fortitude.
[Illustration: "The 1,000 kilogrammes of metal crashed down."]
[Illustration: "Good-bye! Steer west for America!"]
[Illustration: "It is a snug anchorage and here I intend to remain."]
I am now confronted with a perplexing situation. I cannot take him back
to Germany; I cannot even leave my station and proceed south to any of
the Norwegian ports. If I could find a neutral steamer with a doctor on
board, I would tranship him to her; but the chances of this God-send
materializing are a thousand to one in these latitudes. If I sighted a
hospital ship I would close her, but as far as I know at present there
are no hospital ships running up here. The chances of outside
assistance may therefore be reckoned as nil. Wiener's hope of life
depends on me, and I cannot make up my mind to take the step which
sooner or later must be taken--that is to say, amputation.
It is a curious fact, but true, nevertheless, that although, as a
result of the war, men's lives, considered in quantity, seem of little
importance, when it comes to the individual case, a personal contact, a
man's life assumes all its pre-war importance.
I feel acutely my responsibility in this matter. I see from his papers
that he is a married man with a family; this seems to make it worse. I
feel that a whole chain of people depend on me.
* * * * *
Since I wrote the above words this morning, Wiener has taken a decided
turn for the worse.
I have been reading the "Medical Handbook," with reference to the
remarks on amputation, gangrene, etc., and I have also been examining
his leg. The poor devil is in great pain, and there is no doubt that
mortification has set in, as was indeed inevitable. I have decided that
he must have his last chance, and that at 8 p.m. to-night I will
endeavour to amputate.
I have done it--only partially successful.
* * * * *
Last night, in accordance with my decision, I operated on Wiener.
Voigtman assisted me. It was a terrible business, but I think it
desirable to record the details whilst they are fresh in my memory, as
a Court of Inquiry may be held later on. Voigtman and I spent the whole
afternoon in the study of such meagre details on the subject as are
available in the "Medical Handbook." We selected our knives and a saw
and sterilized them; we also disinfected our hands.
At 7.45 I dived the boat to sixty metres, at which depth the boat was
steady. We had done our best with the wardroom-table, and upon this the
patient was placed. I decided to amputate about four inches above the
knee, where the flesh still seemed sound. I considered it impracticable
to administer an anaesthetic, owing to my absolute inexperience in this
Three men held the patient down, as with a firm incision I began the
work. The sawing through the bone was an agonizing procedure, and I
needed all my resolution to complete the task. Up to this stage all had
gone as well as could be expected, when I suddenly went through the
last piece of bone and cut deep into the flesh on the other side. An
instantaneous gush of blood took place, and I realized that I had
unexpectedly severed the popliteal artery, before Voigtman, who was
tying the veins, was ready to deal with it.
I endeavoured to staunch the deadly flow by nipping the vein between my
thumb and forefinger, whilst Voigtman hastily tried to tie it. Thinking
it was tied, I released it, and alas! the flow at once started again;
once more I seized the vein, and once again Voigtman tried to tie it.
Useless--we could not stop the blood. He would undoubtedly have bled to
death before our eyes, had not Voigtman cauterized the place with an
electric soldering-iron which was handy.
Much shaken, I completed the amputation, and we dressed the stump as
well as we could.
At the moment of writing he is still alive, but as white as snow; he
must have lost litres of blood through that artery.
Wiener died two hours ago. I should say the immediate cause of death
was shock and loss of blood. I did my best.
* * * * *
We have been out on this extended patrol area seven days, but not a
wisp of smoke greets our eyes.
Nothing but sea, sea, sea. Oh, how monotonous it is! I cannot make out
where the shipping has got to. Tomorrow I am going to close the North
Cape again. I think everything must be going inside me. I am too far
* * * * *
The North Cape bears due east. Nothing afloat in sight. Where the devil
can all the shipping be? In ten days' time I am due to meet my supply
ship; meanwhile I think I'll have to take another cast out, of three
hundred miles or so.
* * * * *
Nothing in sight, nothing, nothing.
The barometer falling fast and we are in for a gale. I have decided to
make the coast again, as I don't want to fail to turn up punctually at
* * * * *
In the Standarak-Landholm Fjord--thank heavens.
Heavens! we have had a time. We were still two hundred and fifty miles
from the coast when we were caught by the gale. And a gale up here is a
gale, and no second thoughts about it. To say it blew with the force of
ten thousand devils is to understate the case. The sea came on to us in
huge foaming rollers like waves of attacking infantry intent on
We struggled east at about three knots. But she stuck it magnificently.
Low scudding clouds obscured the sky and came like a procession of
ghosts from the north-east. Sun observations were impossible for two
reasons. Firstly, no one could get on deck; secondly, there was no
visible sun. This lasted for three days, at the end of which time we
had only the vaguest idea as to where we were.
The gale then blew out, but, contrary to all expectations, was
succeeded by a most abominable fog, thick and white like cotton-wool.
These were hardly ideal conditions under which to close a rocky and
unknown coast, but it had to be done. The trouble was that it was
entirely useless taking soundings, as the twenty-metre depth-line on
the chart went right up to the land. We crept slowly eastwards, till,
when by dead reckoning we were ten miles inside the coast, the
Navigator accidentally leant on the whistle lever; this action on his
part probably saved the ship, as an immediate echo answered the blast.
In an instant we were going full-speed astern. We altered course
sixteen points and proceeded ten miles westerly, where we lay on and
off the coast all night, cursing the fog.
Next day it lifted, and we spent the whole time trying to find the
entrance to the S. Landholm Fjord. The coast appeared to bear no
resemblance to the chart whatsoever.
The cliffs stand up to a height of several hundred metres, with
occasional clefts where a stream runs down. There are no trees, houses,
animals, or any signs of life, except sea birds, of which there are
myriads. The Engineer declares he saw a reindeer, but five other people
on deck failed to see any signs of the beast.