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DESTROYERS Forty-nine of the latest type from the ist, 2d, 3d, 6th, and 7th flotillas.
The sun has just gone down on the most wonderful day in all the long history of war by sea. A great navy, once proud in its young strength and in its high imperial mission, gave, the morning of November 21, into ignominious captivity, more than threescore of its biggest and best ships. The finest vessels in the German Fleet, fashioned at heavy cost in taxes and debt, to be alike the symbol and the engine of Germany's world ambitions, have surrendered themselves as hostages to the Allies.
Even as I write the captive ships lie but a few miles away in British waters "fast bound in misery and iron," the tragic semblance of a navy which lost its soul. History tells of many a good ship which struck its flag under the stress of battle. History tells also of ships which faced destệuction rather than surrender. Research may reveal cases in which a group of ships surrendered as it were in cold blood without the striking of a blow. But the annals of naval warfare hold no parallel to the memorable event which it has been my privilege to witness to-day. It was the passing of a whole fleet, and it marked the final and ignoble abandonment of a vainglorious challenge to the naval supremacy of Britain. I watched the scene from the flagship of the British Commander-in-Chief. Never has pageant so majestically demonstrated the might of Britain's Navy. The Dominions of Australia, Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand had their places in the spectacle. American and French warships too were there. But above all else, this was the day of the British Navy, the supreme reward of unceasing vigilance and unrelenting noiseless pressure on the vitals of Germany.
Awaiting the Day. For the last two or three days the Grand Fleet has breathed a quickening, electrified air. You detected its invigorating virtue in the half-stified excitement of the men of the fleet. Since Armistice night, when fag officers sang and danced on the forecastle deck with seamen and marines, every ship attached to the fleet, from the flagship to the fussiest little motor launch, has been full of joyousness, restrained in its expression, but real and irrepressible. In the Queen Elizabeth, the most crowded of all the ships, the anticipation of surrender day has grown almost hour by hour as messages flashed hundreds of miles through the air to and from the German High Sea command.
The coming of the Königsberg and the historic meeting between Sir David Beatty and Admiral Meurer were fresh in each mind when I came on board two days ago. In the moonlight that evening three merry young officers reconstructed the scene on the quarterdeck for me with mock solemnity. Yesterday the expectation of the unbelievable climax drove all other thoughts from the mind, and as time went by, and scraps of news passed from mouth to mouth, the atmosphere of eagerness grew even more intense. But it was still a controlled emotion. Naval men pretend to be as unemotional as a jellyfish. Of course they are not. Yet it must be confessed that few in the Queen Elizabeth—the "Q. E.," as the fleet calls her-spent as sleepless a night as your correspondent.
Admiral Beatty's Orders.-Early in the afternoon two notices were posted in the ward room, which deserve to be put on record. One was as follows:
Relations With the Germans.-The following is a copy of a memorandum issued by the Commander-in-Chief, Grand Fleet:
(1) It is to be impressed on all officers and men that a state of war exists during the armistice.
(2) Their relations with officers and men of the German Navy with whom they may now be brought into contact are to be of a strictly formal character.
(3) In dealing with the late enemy, while courtesy is obligatory, the methods with which they have waged the war must not be forgotten.
(4) No international compliments are to be paid and all conversation is forbidden, except in regard to the immediate business to be transacted.
(5) If it is necessary to provide food for German officers and men they should not be entertained, but it should be served to them in a place specially set apart. If it is necessary to accept food from the Germans a request is to be made that it is to be similarly served.
It may be added at once that these injunctions against anything which might even appear to be fraternization with the enemy are thoroughly in keeping with the attitude of mind, both of officers and of men, towards the Germans. In any ordinary circumstances nobody is more magnanimous towards a beaten foe than the British naval officer or seaman. But I have not these three days met a single man, whether of high position or of the humblest rank, who has the least compassion for the present enemy. His fleet are still “ The Huns," and though most naval men admit that the German surface craft in the early days of the war generally observed the laws of humanity, it is, nevertheless, remembered that German officers saved from German ships sunk in the Heligoland Bight in August, 1914, spat in the faces of the British rescuers. Even if that and much else were forgotten, there would remain the inevitable shrinking from intercourse with any man who sailed under the pirate flag of the Imperial German Navy.
A Remarkable Note.-The second notice, posted yesterday evening, bears the signature of Geoffrey Blake, commander of the Queen Elizabeth, It is headed, " Program for Operation ZZ.” Parenthetically, I may explain, for the benefit of any who share my own previous ignorance, that “ZZ" is the description applied for the purpose of the maneuyers and exercises of pre-war days to an unspecified position in which sections of the fleet were to meet. The notice begins :
“Queen Elizabeth will slip at 04.45, passing May Island at 08.00, and meeting the German Fleet at 09.40 approximately."
This, being interpreted, meant that the ship was due to sail at a quarter to 5 this morning, and to come up with the Germans at 20 minutes before 10 o'clock. The notice went on to set out the time-table for the routine of sailing, leading up to "action stations " at 9 o'clock. Here came the significant reminder that "immediate readiness for action is to be assumed," and definite instructions with regard to the position and training of turrets and guns. "It is hoped," the notice went on, “that arrangements may be made to allow all hands to see the German ships." Finally came the most remarkable note ever posted, certainly in this ship, and probably in any ship: “09.40 battle fleet meet the German Fleet." It was generally known that by the terms of the armistice the German ships were to be unarmed and manned only by navigating crews, but the navy does not believe in taking unnecessary chances. Treachery was not expected, but all was ready to blow the German ships out of the water should any trick be attempted.
Last night the Grand Fleet lay at its moorings in the Firth of Forth. Above the bridge were battleships, destroyers, and submarines, and conspicuous among them was the French armored cruiser Amiral Aube, flying the flag of Rear Admiral Grasset, which, with two destroyers, represented the French Navy in the final act of the great drama. Below the bridge were battleships, battle-cruisers, and light cruisers, and again
a prominent place was taken by ships of a partner nation in the struggle, the New York, flying the flag of Admiral Rodman, with Admiral Sims and his staff on board, and the Florida, Wyoming, and Arkansas. Canada was above the bridge with the First Battle Squadron. Australia and New Zealand were below with the Second Battle Cruiser Squadron. Throughout the night the flagship was in touch by wireless with the German Fleet, noting its progress towards the place of rendezvous. At two o'clock in the morning the fleet was reported about 70 miles from the spot. German envoys who came in the Königsberg last Friday had stated that for some reason, of which I am not aware, perhaps for want of attention and perhaps for lack of fuel, their feet would be unable to steam at more than 12 knots. That, however, would be speed enough for punctuality.
Leaving the Firth.-A few minutes before 4 o'clock the First Battle Squadron, led by the Revenge, flagship of Vice Admiral Madden, began to move. The fog had lifted, after five days, and the lower air was clear, but clouds hid the moon and stars and made the night dark. Silently through the darkness ship followed ship down to the open sea, an ominous, awe-inspiring procession of black shapes, each indistinctly silhouetted against the sky and canopied with a smudge of smoke. The Queen Elizabeth took her place near the end of the line. By daybreak the Grand
GERMANY'S SURRENDERED Navy. Thirteen ships of the line, six light cruisers, and fifty destroyers were turned over to British, American, and French naval forces. Germany also surrendered the battleship König and the cruiser Mackensen at a German port to a British naval officer sent to Germany to take over these ships, one of which was unseaworthy and the other unfinished. In addition, Germany is surrendering her entire submarine fleet to the Allies.
Fleet was at sea, and in the grey morning mist the squadrons took up
First Light Cruiser Squadron (four ships).
The southern line, on a parallel course six miles away, consisted of the following:
Third Light Cruiser Squadron (four ships).
6th. Battle Squadron (American)
4th Battle Squadron
9 GERMAN BATTLESNIPS 3 cables apart.
König Albero 0
Von der Tann 0
Derfflinger 0 Hindenburg 0 Moltke
2nd. Battle Squadron
ist Báttle Squadron
5 GERMAN BATTLE CRUISERS
3 cables apert.
( Not to Scale)
ENEMY WARSHIPS AND THEIR ESCORT. The above diagram shows the order of the British Fleet escorting units of the German High Seas Fleet for internment.-London Times.
Between the lines were the King Orry, Blanche, Boadicea, Fearless, and Blonde to act as repeating ships. In this order the Grand Fleet approached the rendezvous, “X position, lat. 56 deg., 11 min. N., long., 10 deg. 20 min. W.” According to program the First Light Cruiser Squadron was due to meet the German Fleet at 10 minutes after 9 o'clock, but the position of greatest honor was to be filled by the Cardiff, of the Sixth Light Cruiser Squadron, for she was “to direct the movements of the German main force and order them to proceed, if possible, at a speed of 12 knots." About 8 o'clock the sun showed its rim through a rift in the slate-grey clouds, and here and there in the sky the greyness of lead melted into light shades of blue and brick red, but a haze still hung over the water and confined the vision to, perhaps, five or six miles. Somewhere away to the south we knew there were ships, but in a line which, from end to end, measured at least 15 miles obviously were ships which were not to be seen. Now and then in the distance one could pick out dimly the outline of a battleship; to identify it was another matter. So the two lines moved towards the oncoming enemy. Away to the north we passed the Amiral Aube and her attendant destroyer.
The Enemy Sighted.-Half-past 8 came and with it the report that the German Fleet had been sighted by our destroyers. An hour passed and the sun, rising in the heavens, began to tinge the sky with gold. Presently three, four, or five miles away on our starboard bow there came into
sausage " balloon towed by the Cardiff. At first it was a mere faint speck in a grey mist, with a slight smoke trail stretching out below. Then behind the Cardiff there emerged from the murk the first of the German ships. At three miles' range they appeared to be little more than slowly moving silhouettes. On coming abreast of the German Fleet the British Fleet turned by squadrons, 16 points outwards, wheeling, that is to say, back on its own track, retaining positions on both sides of the Germans to escort them to their anchorage. The order of squadrons as already given for the northern and southern lines was thus reversed.
Between the lines came the Germans, led by the Cardiff, and looking for all the world like a school of leviathans led by a minnow. Over them flew a British naval airship. First came the battle cruisers headed by the Seydlitz, a ship which carries the scars of the Dogger Bank battle of January, 1915. The Moltke and the Hindenburg followed, then the Derfflinger, also badly battered in the Dogger Bank engagement, and finally the Von Der Tann, which, according to report, suffered heavily in the naval air raid on Cuxhaven. On either side moved the Fearless and the Blonde in their former stations. The nine battleships followed at intervals of three cables. The five ships of the Kaiser class came first, then the Bayern, and then the three Königs, but in what order within the classes could not be told. A mile and a half astern was the King Orry, and again at the same interval the Phæton, of the First Light Cruisers. The Castor, flying the pennant of Commodore Tweedie, Commodore of Flotillas, led the 50 German destroyers, surrounded by nearly 150 British.
This bald description of the plan of the operation will not convey to the mind any conception of the scene, but it must be placed on permanent record, for it indicates a disposition of hostile fleets such as has never been seen before and will in all likelihood never be seen again. The operations were perfect, both in organization and in execution. From the purely spectacular point of view the pageant was robbed of some of its splendor by the low mist, which blurred all outlines and refused to yield to the cold brilliance of the sunshine. But the significance of the meeting and the procession was more important than its appearance. Men in uniform watching the German ships come into view vied with one another in identifying them one by one, sometimes with the aid of books of silhouettes. But underneath the momentary excitement of determining whether this ship was the Hindenburg or the Derfflinger there was deep satisfaction that the tedious task of the navy had been fulfilled. There were one or