Mystery Ships (Trapping The "U" Boat) By Alfred Noyes. Published in London in 1916. (194 pages)
Chapter I. The Traps — Chapter II. The Under-Sea Pirates — Chapter III. Kilmeny — Chapter IV. The Scalp — Chapter V. A Christmas Dinner — Chapter VI. Periscopes and Roses — Chapter VII. The "Lusitania" Waits — Chapter VIII. The Skeleton Forest — Chapter IX. Heroics and Laughter
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...It was on a fine summer morning that the fishing-trawler Victoria left a certain port beloved of Nelson, to fish on the Labadie Bank. She carried a crew of nine men, together with a little boy named Jones—a friend of the skipper. There is a well-thumbed copy of Treasure Island, beloved of all the youngsters of that district, in the local library. Perhaps it was this book that had inspired him to the adventure, for, though nobody quite believed, at that time, in the existence of the Twentieth Century pirate, there was adventure in the air, and it was only after much pleading that he was allowed to go. This vessel, of course, was unarmed and used only for fishing. For a week all went well. There was a good catch of fish, splashing the rusty-red craft with shining scales from bow to stern, and piling up below like mounded silver. The crew were beginning to think of their women at home and their accustomed nooks in the Lord Nelson and Blue Dolphin taverns.
...They were about a hundred and thirty miles from land when the sound of a gun was heard by all hands. The boy Jones ran up to the bridge, where he stood by the skipper. In the distance, against the sunset, they saw the silhouette of a strange-looking ship. At first it looked like a drifter, painted grey with mizzen set. But the flash of another gun revealed it as a submarine. The skipper hesitated. Should he stop the ship, trusting to the laws of war and the good faith of the enemy? The lives of the crew and the little boy, who had been left in his charge, were his first thought. Yes, he would do so, and the order was given. The engines ceased to throb. Then, as the ship rolled idly, he was disillusioned. The gun flashed again, and he knew that he was facing an implacable determination to sink and destroy.
...It was only a forlorn hope, but he would risk it, and not a man demurred at his decision. The engines rang "full speed ahead," and the Victoria began to tear through the green water, for home.
...The next morning, in the direction indicated by that report, several patrol boats heard the sound of gunfire and overhauled a steamer, which had been attacked by a submarine. They gave chase by "starring" to all the points of the compass, but could not locate the enemy. A little later, however, another trawler observed the wash of a submarine crossing her stern about two hundred yards away. The trawler starboarded, got into the wake of the submarine, and tried to ram her at full speed. She failed to do this, as the "U" boat was at too great a depth. The enemy disappeared; and again the trawlers gathered and "starred." In the meantime, certain nets had been shot, and, though the enclosed waters were very wide, it was quite certain that the submarine was contained within them. Some hours later, another trawler heard firing, and rushed towards the sound. About sunset, she sighted a submarine which was just dipping. The trawler opened fire at once, without result. The light was very bad, and it was very difficult to trace the enemy; but the trawler continued the search, and, about midnight, she observed a small light close to the water. She steamed within a few yards of it and hailed, thinking it was a small boat. There was a considerable amount of wreckage about, which was afterwards proved to be the remnants of a patrol vessel sunk by the submarine. There was no reply to the hail, and the light instantly disappeared. For the third time the patrols gathered and "starred" from this new point.
...And here the tale was taken up by a sailor who was in command of another trawler at the time. I give it, so far as possible, in his own words.
..."About four o'clock in the morning, I was called by deckhand William Brown to come on deck and see if an object sighted was a submarine.
..."I did so, and saw a submarine about a mile distant on the port bow, I gave the order 'Hard-a-starboard.' The ship was turned until the gun was able to bear on the submarine; and it was kept bearing..