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Some of the crew were seen swimming away, and were picked up by the two colliers which had watched the action (one of which was the Berwind, before mentioned).
When the action began, the Carmania intercepted a wireless message, en clair, from her opponent, made to her (not distant) supporting cruiser, "I am in action with a halforuiser." Later on, there went out-"Action over. I am giving up." On which the cruiser unkindly inquired, "Why are you giving up?" But answer there came none! At that moment the Cap Trafalgar was cooling her red-hot sides, as she eddied down into the 3000-fathom abysses of that part of the Atlantic. It was our Trafalgar again, name, and all!
Just as the last wireless message was intercepted, there was seen by the Carmania, on the horizon, the smoke of the German cruiser-not a "halbkreuzer" - steaming for all she was worth to the reseuetoo late!
Our armed merchantman was no match for her, at any time; and now, with 304 holes in her hull, the result of hav
ing been struck by 79 projectiles in that short, fierce, close-ranged action, there was nothing to do but to clear out, with all the 16 knots of which she was still capable. Luckily, she was not overhauled, and got safely away.
This conclusion to the action made it quite obvious to every one that "half-cruisers" must in future never move about unless supported by the Real Artiole. Had the German cruiser been actually with her merchant cruiser when the Carmania appeared on the scene, there must have been a quite different ending to the affair. On the other hand, if the Carmania had been supported by a real fighting ship, she need not have cleared out in that undignified fashion, but could have stayed to watch the German cruiser being bagged,
and perhaps herself put in a word or two as well. Aocordingly, the order went forth at once; the banns were called; and presently each armed merchant lady of our squadron found herself wedded, for better, for worse, to a fighting mate. We were thankful, indeed!
The holding up of ocean traffic for search was the most ostensible of our duties. It is axiomatic that oruiser work cannot be effective without Intelligence and until this branch of our service became organised, our position could
best be compared with that of a policeman who had been given "London" as an address for the the apprehension of criminal. Only the ocean is a bit wider, and more vague.
At first, whatever Intelligence agencies existed for
sending to us information before we asked, and were from South America seemed splendidly helpful; we soon found the value of keeping in as close a touch with them as neutrality laws permitted. They had a good deal to contend against ashore: it required both pluck and tact to give us the assistance we needed. The already large enemy sediment, deposited in the islands during peace time, had been considerably augmented since war began by the numbers of officers and crews of the sheltering and interned ships-many of them trained Intelligence men. They played off against us some quite skilfully conceived "belligerent acts," through the medium of their rather unwilling but terrorised neutral hosts. The use of neutral wireless stations may be cited as an interesting instance of these activities.
all to be in a condition of dumb rabies — or rather of dumbness, with rabid intervals. Long silences were variegated by bursts of frantic yappings and snappings. The dumb phase was bad enough, as it left everything, with us, to pure chance; but the active period was really much more troublesome to contend with. Knowing their dove-like innocence from guile, the clever German provocateurs abroad easily communicated to our agents such serpent-poison, that we received thereby, periodically, the most insistent and unceasing warnings concerning the importance of intercepting ships which never sailed, and of seizing from them persons or documents that went to Germany by quite other means. Coal by
There was, near Las Palmas (Gran Canaria), a powerful radio-station, capable of sending a message, on a favourable night, for about 2000 miles. Sixty miles to the westward, on Teneriffe, there is a second installation, slightly powerful. At Cadiz, 800 miles distant, there is a third, more powerful still; and a fourth
the ton, sleep by the hour, anxiety and eyesight without measure, were wasted by these messages until their real origin was discovered. We were all pretty green and credulous, both afloat and ashore, in those days; but we lived through them, and learnt discrimination by degrees, and mutual support. In ocean patrol at Madrid. International Law work, the Intelligence ashore and the Intelligence afloat must be two halves of the same brain, if sane and sound service is to be produced. Each must inform the other of its needs, and of its views. We were lucky, anyway, with our agents in the islands around us. They "tumbled" to our necessities at once, almost
concerning use of "wireless" in war time declares that the diplomatic agents of belligerents in neutral countries have equal rights in sending and receiving messages by wireless, in cipher or otherwise. This was instantly seized on by the Germans; and cipher messages (no doubt giving full particulars of the
But it could not be left at that; and at last we managed to stimulate the diplomatic intellect, by means of telegrams of the most "improper" wording, into realising the breach of neutrality that was taking place. This lay, of course, in the fact that while the ability to send cipher messages by wireless was of the highest naval importance to both belligerents, the Germans could send them only by means of the Spanish installations; while, as we had gained the command of the seas, and thus could send whatever message we liked through our own channels, the permission to us to use the Spanish radio - stations was valueless.
sailings and cargoes of British to preserve our Excellencies ships) were sent out nightly many years! from Las Palmas. They purported, of course, to be sent to the "German or "Austrian Embassy, Madrid," and were signed Mittelstrasse," who was Austrian consul at Las Palmas. Thus they received their "diplomatio appear ance. The messages were repeated three times over by Las Palmas (to ensure correct reception), while Teneriffe and Cadiz were both asked to pass the message on, in triplicate, one to the other, and thence to Madrid. There was no necessity whatever, it must be understood, for these "passings on," as Las Palmas was fully capable of reaching Madrid direct, on most nights, and could always "get" Cadiz; but by these means three powerful stations-Las Palmas, Teneriffe, and Cadiz―each sent out the message three times, at three different times during the night, and on three different "wave lengths." It would indeed be a wonder if the listening Karlsruhe, 1000 miles away, on the other side of the Atlantic, did not take in one of the nine announcements!
Representation to the local Spanish authorities availed nothing. They blandly pointed to the unmistakable wording of the law in the Hague Convention; and said that our Consuls, too, could use the Spanish wireless system if they wished, and in similar fashion. Their only desire was to be completely neutral; and God was again called on
The advantage we had gained over our enemy by force of arms was therefore entirely nullified, through this permission to them to use the Spanish radio system. Neutrality in the matter had lapsed, and Spain was actually giving assistance to one belligerent against the other.
All this seemed to be fairly obvious; but the days, and the still more maddening nights, went by, filled with "Mittelstrasse messages, till more than twenty of them had been sent out-and a corresponding number of British ships had been despatched from Las Palmas, possibly to their doom.
We were near taking the matter into our own hand, and destroying the Spanish wireless stations, regardless of con
sequences, when at last the constipation of the diplomatic channel was dispelled, and the order came forth from Madrid that the cipher radio-messages were to be stopped for both belligerents.
Until that happened, no wonder the Germans on shore thought they had it all their own way. When the report of the first grand coup of their submarines reached themnamely, the sinking, on September 22, 1914, "in one red burial blent," of the Cressy, Hogue, and Aboukir-their ecstasy of rejoicing seemed to them to require public expression. The Hun colony of Santa Cruz, Teneriffe, formed up accordingly, in a column four deep, at the top of the steep road leading past the chief residences, and at the word of command they goose-stepped down the hill into the town, shouting "Hoch!" at each step. Unfortunately for them, they forgot that the foreign club of Santa Cruz is really a British club, although it had received in "visiting membership" a considerable number of nonBritish residents, including Germans. Some debate had already taken place in the committee since war had been declared, as to whether those who had suddenly become "enemies" should be asked to resign; but in the state of feeling then prevailing, and in view of the universal opinion that the war would soon be over, no steps of that sort had been taken. The "hoohmarsch," however, when it took place, left no doubt about
the matter, and when the afternoon hours of that dry and blazing day had narrowed down to the blessed moment of iced oooktails before dinner, the goose-steppers, hoarse and hot, discovered that the hitherto open door was closed, and the bar barred against them. Lochaber no more!
The stopping of the wireless messages by no means ended the activities of these important outposts of the German intelligence system in the Atlantio islands. By one elever method and another their agents kept in touch with headquarters at home, and with their ships abroad-while any of them still floated-and probably were always made aware beforehand when any special German naval "stunt was being undertaken.
Although we did not, per. haps, know what each especial enterprise was going to be, we soon got to learn when one was in hand, through the storiesquite probable and eircumstantial in themselves-which were made to reach us through unimpeachable channels. They came, chiefly, as reports of sighting of submarines; and another favourite romance took the form of accounts of the lighting of signal fires on prominent points of different islands. The positions given, in either ease, were such as, presumably, would carry us, and our eyes and activities generally, away from the scene where the "stunt" was to be stunted. These dodges had some success at first. By their means the German steamer
Crefeld managed to slip past our patrol one dark night, and to arrive at Santa Cruz in the early dawn of October 23, 1914. She had on board her the crews of thirteen British ships, destroyed by the Karls ühe off South America, and, accordingly, would have been a most satisfactory capture for us.
At the same time, and from a similar cause, one of the German steamers sheltering at Las Palmas made a bolt for it, and reached her next "base" (as in rounders) at Santa Cruz, without being caught on the high seas in between.
One of the many "submarine soares" was put about in the following audacious manner. A certain neutral steamer, southward bound, put into St Vinoent, Cape de Verde Islands. On arrival, her captain went to the British Consulate and reported, quite gratuitously and deliberately, that he had been held up by a large German submarine when twenty miles northward of Teneriffe; that he had been boarded and searched, and finally, allowed to proceed on his journey, having been ordered by the German boarding-offieer to say nothing to anybody about the incident, but felt it was his duty, &c. The report reached us, as it was intended to do, in due course. It was all entirely untrue, as was proved without difficulty. The captain had evidently been paid to start this "yarn" by some German at Santa Cruz, where the steamer had called on her way south. The matter was reported officially
to his Government, and that injudicious sailing-master gave up his profession somewhat summarily, if unwillingly, for a period sufficiently long to prevent any repetition of unneutral behaviour.
At the same time, it was a mystery to us why Germany did not send out submarines to our waters earlier than she did. With all those friends posted on so many islands, there would have been little difficulty in supplying them with the necessary information to "bag" each one of our large and helpless oruisers, whether fighting or "merchant." They might even have got stores and provisions, without discovery, from the more distant islands.
We were always expecting submarines; and that is partly the reason of our never having been able to remain at anchor at night, and only with the most stringent precautionary measures when coaling in harbour by day.
Our sea-keeping records became quite Nelsonic in character. The Admiral and staff, for example, at one time spent 385 consecutive nights under way at sea, and each of the eruisers under his command spent periods running into four, five, and six months, during which they kept at sea all day and all night, except when obliged to coal ship. Coaling was arranged to be a daylight job; we were always off and away again before sunset. We had no base nearer than Gibraltar, a thousand miles distant, and International