[Sidenote: Movement to cut German railway connections.]
On the day after we had taken the St. Mihiel salient, much of our Corps and Army artillery which had operated at St. Mihiel, and our Divisions in reserve at other points, were already on the move toward the area back of the line between the Meuse River and the western edge of the forest of Argonne. With the exception of St. Mihiel, the old German front line from Switzerland to the east of Rheims was still intact. In the general attack all along the line, the operation assigned the American Army as the hinge of this Allied offensive was directed toward the important railroad communications of the German armies through Mezieres and Sedan. The enemy must hold fast to this part of his lines or the withdrawal of his forces with four years' accumulation of plants and material would be dangerously imperiled.
[Sidenote: German Army not demoralized.]
The German Army had as yet shown no demoralization and, while the mass of its troops had suffered in morale, its first-class divisions and notably its machine-gun defense were exhibiting remarkable tactical efficiency as well as courage. The German General Staff was fully aware of the consequences of a success on the Meuse-Argonne line. Certain that he would do everything in his power to oppose us, the action was planned with as much secrecy as possible and was undertaken with the determination to use all our Divisions in forcing decision. We expected to draw the best German divisions to our front and to consume them while the enemy was held under grave apprehension lest our attack should break his line, which it was our firm purpose to do.
[Sidenote: The Argonne Forest considered impregnable.]
[Sidenote: American order of battle.]
Our right flank was protected by the Meuse, while our left embraced the Argonne Forest whose ravines, hills, and elaborate defense screened by dense thickets had been generally considered impregnable. Our order of battle from right to left was the Third Corps from the Meuse to Malancourt, with the Thirty-third, Eightieth, and Fourth Divisions in line, and the Third Division as corps reserve; the Fifth Corps from Malancourt to Vauquois, with Seventy-ninth, Eighty-seventh, and Ninety-first Divisions in line, and the Thirty-second in corps reserve; and the First Corps, from Vauquois to Vienne le Chateau, with Thirty-fifth, Twenty-eighth, and Seventy-seventh Divisions in line, and the Ninety-second in corps reserve. The Army reserve consisted of the First, Twenty-ninth, and Eighty-second Divisions.
[Sidenote: Attack begins on September 25.]
[Sidenote: Montfaucon is taken.]
On the night of September 25 our troops quietly took the place of the French who thinly held the line in this sector which had long been inactive. In the attack which began on the 26th we drove through the barbed wire entanglements and the sea of shell craters across No Man's Land, mastering all the first-line defenses. Continuing on the 27th and 28th, against machine guns and artillery of an increasing number of enemy reserve divisions, we penetrated to a depth of from 3 to 7 miles, and took the village of Montfaucon and its commanding hill and Exermont, Gercourt, Cuisy, Septsarges, Malancourt, Ivoiry, Epinonville, Charpentry, Very, and other villages. East of the Meuse one of our Divisions, which was with the Second Colonial French Corps, captured Marcheville and Rieville, giving further protection to the flank of our main body. We had taken 10,000 prisoners, we had gained our point of forcing the battle into the open and were prepared for the enemy's reaction, which was bound to come as he had good roads and ample railroad facilities for bringing up his artillery and reserves.
[Illustration: FACSIMILE OF PERSHING'S SECRET BATTLE MAP SHOWN AT NATIONAL MUSEUM
There is on exhibition in the United States National Museum at Washington what is probably the most interesting and valuable single record of America's part in the Great War—General Pershing's own secret battle map, transported here from his headquarters in France and set up in the museum exactly as it was there.
It was General Pershing's own idea to have the map displayed to the public to show the people of the United States the actual military results obtained by their armies. For instance, at the hour the armistice was signed the United States forces were holding 145 kilometers of front, of which 134 kilometers were active. This is made plain on the map by the colored pins and tags by which the different allied and enemy armies are shown.
The map itself shows the location of all divisions, both the enemy and allied, on the western front; the correct battle line, commanding generals, location of headquarters and boundaries down to include armies, and various other information concerning divisions, as, for example, whether they were fresh or tired. The map was developed and kept posted to date daily by the third section of General Pershing's staff, and used by them and other superior officers during active operations for strategical studies and purposes of general information.
It is evident that during the war the information which this map contained was such that the enemy would have spared no pains to secure it. Every precaution was taken to insure its secrecy, and to this end the map was always kept locked up, and in addition was kept in a small compartment formed by a closed screen. Furthermore, access to this map was had by only the half dozen chiefs of the general headquarters staff sections whose work was directly affected by the changes shown on the map. This map appears to have been unique. The staff officers from the different allied headquarters who had occasion to see the map declared that it was the most complete representation of the opposing forces that they had seen.
General Pershing, in his letter to the adjutant general suggesting the public display of the map in the National Museum, says:
"It has occurred to me that this particular map with its accompanying installation will have a great historical value. It will be of intense interest to future generations, not only because it was the only map of its kind used at these headquarters, but because it shows in a vivid fashion the exact situation at the hour of the armistice."]
[Sidenote: Difficult tasks of engineers and gunners.]
In the chill rain of dark nights our engineers had to build new roads across spongy, shell-torn areas, repair broken roads beyond No Man's Land, and build bridges. Our gunners, with no thought of sleep, put their shoulders to wheels and dragropes to bring their guns through the mire in support of the infantry, now under the increasing fire of the enemy's artillery. Our attack had taken the enemy by surprise, but, quickly recovering himself, he began to fire counterattacks in strong force, supported by heavy bombardments, with large quantities of gas. From September 28 until October 4 we maintained the offensive against patches of woods defended by snipers and continuous lines of machine guns, and pushed forward our guns and transport, seizing strategical points in preparation for further attacks.
[Sidenote: The Twenty-seventh and the Thirtieth with the British.]
Other Divisions attached to the Allied armies were doing their part. It was the fortune of our Second Corps, composed of the Twenty-seventh and Thirtieth Divisions, which had remained with the British, to have a place of honor in cooperation with the Australian Corps on September 29 and October 1 in the assault on the Hindenburg line where the St. Quentin Canal passes through a tunnel under a ridge. The Thirtieth Division speedily broke through the main line of defense for all its objectives, while the Twenty-seventh pushed on impetuously through the main line until some of its elements reached Gouy. In the midst of the maze of trenches and shell craters and under cross fire from machine guns the other elements fought desperately against odds. In this and in later actions, from October 6 to October 19, our Second Corps captured over 6,000 prisoners and advanced over 13 miles. The spirit and aggressiveness of these Divisions have been highly praised by the British Army commander under whom they served.
[Sidenote: Second and Thirty-sixth with the French.]
On October 2 to 9 our Second and Thirty-sixth Divisions were sent to assist the French in an important attack against the old German positions before Rheims. The Second conquered the complicated defense works on their front against a persistent defense worthy of the grimmest period of trench warfare and attacked the strongly held wooded hill of Blanc Mont, which they captured in a second assault, sweeping over it with consummate dash and skill. This Division then repulsed strong counterattacks before the village and cemetery of Ste. Etienne and took the town, forcing the Germans to fall back from before Rheims and yield positions they had held since September, 1914. On October 9 the Thirty-sixth Division relieved the Second and, in its first experience under fire, withstood very severe artillery bombardment and rapidly took up the pursuit of the enemy, now retiring behind the Aisne.
[Sidenote: Steady progress in the Argonne Forest.]
[Sidenote: The terrain favors the defense.]
The Allied progress elsewhere cheered the efforts of our men in this crucial contest as the German command threw in more and more first-class troops to stop our advance. We made steady headway in the almost impenetrable and strongly held Argonne Forest, for, despite this reinforcement, it was our Army that was doing the driving. Our aircraft was increasing in skill and numbers and forcing the issue, and our Infantry and Artillery were improving rapidly with each new experience. The replacements fresh from home were put into exhausted divisions with little time for training, but they had the advantage of serving beside men who knew their business and who had almost become veterans overnight. The enemy had taken every advantage of the terrain, which especially favored the defense, by a prodigal use of machine guns manned by highly trained veterans and by using his artillery at short ranges. In the face of such strong frontal positions we should have been unable to accomplish any progress according to previously accepted standards, but I had every confidence in our aggressive tactics and the courage of our troops.
[Sidenote: Strong enemy counterattacks.]
[Sidenote: First Corps takes Chatel-Chehery.]
[Sidenote: Argonne Forest is cleared.]
On October 4 the attack was renewed all along our front. The Third Corps tilting to the left followed the Brieulles-Cunel road; our Fifth Corps took Gesnes while the First Corps advanced for over 2 miles along the irregular valley of the Aire River and in the wooded hills of the Argonne that bordered the river, used by the enemy with all his art and weapons of defense. This sort of fighting continued against an enemy striving to hold every foot of ground and whose very strong counterattacks challenged us at every point. On the 7th the First Corps captured Chatel-Chehery and continued along the river to Cornay. On the east of Meuse sector one of the two Divisions cooperating with the French captured Consenvoye and the Haumont Woods. On the 9th the Fifth Corps, in its progress up the Aire, took Fleville, and the Third Corps which had continuous fighting against odds was working its way through Brieulles and Cunel. On the 10th we had cleared the Argonne Forest of the enemy.
[Sidenote: The Second Army is organized.]
It was now necessary to constitute a second army, and on October 9 the immediate command of the First Army was turned over to Lieutenant General Hunter Liggett. The command of the Second Army, whose divisions occupied a sector in the Woevre, was given to Lieutenant General Robert L. Bullard, who had been commander of the First Division and then of the Third Corps. Major General Dickman was transferred to the command of the First Corps, while the Fifth Corps was placed under Major General Charles P. Summerall, who had recently commanded the First Division. Major General John L. Hines, who had gone rapidly up from regimental to division commander, was assigned to the Third Corps. These four officers had been in France from the early days of the expedition and had learned their lessons in the school of practical warfare.
[Sidenote: The Kriemhilde line is penetrated.]
Our constant pressure against the enemy brought day by day more prisoners, mostly survivors from machine-gun nests captured in fighting at close quarters. On October 18 there was very fierce fighting in the Caures Woods east of the Meuse and in the Ormont Woods. On the 14th the First Corps took St. Juvin, and the Fifth Corps, in hand-to-hand encounters, entered the formidable Kriemhilde line, where the enemy had hoped to check us indefinitely. Later the Fifth Corps penetrated further the Kriemhilde line, and the First Corps took Champigneulles and the important town of Grandpre. Our dogged offensive was wearing down the enemy, who continued desperately to throw his best troops against us, thus weakening his line in front of our Allies and making their advance less difficult.
[Sidenote: Thirty-seventh and Ninety-first in Belgium.]
Meanwhile we were not only able to continue the battle, but our Thirty-seventh and Ninety-first Divisions were hastily withdrawn from our front and dispatched to help the French Army in Belgium. Detraining in the neighborhood of Ypres, these Divisions advanced by rapid stages to the fighting line and were assigned to adjacent French corps. On October 31, in continuation of the Flanders offensive, they attacked and methodically broke down all enemy resistance. On November 3 the Thirty-seventh had completed its mission in dividing the enemy across the Escaut River and firmly established itself along the east bank included in the division zone of action. By a clever flanking movement troops of the Ninety-first Division captured Spitaals Bosschen, a difficult wood extending across the central part of the division sector, reached the Escaut, and penetrated into the town of Audenarde. These divisions received high commendation from their corps commanders for their dash and energy.
[Sidenote: Preparation for the final assault.]
On the 23d the Third and Fifth Corps pushed northward to the level of Bantheville. While we continued to press forward and throw back the enemy's violent counterattacks with great loss to him, a regrouping of our forces was under way for the final assault. Evidences of loss of morale by the enemy gave our men more confidence in attack and more fortitude in enduring the fatigue of incessant effort and the hardships of very inclement weather.
[Sidenote: The final advance begins.]
With comparatively well-rested divisions, the final advance in the Meuse-Argonne front was begun on November 1. Our increased artillery force acquitted itself magnificently in support of the advance, and the enemy broke before the determined infantry, which, by its persistent fighting of the past weeks and the dash of this attack, had overcome his will to resist. The Third Corps took Aincreville, Doulcon, and Andevanne, and the Fifth Corps took Landres et St. Georges and pressed through successive lines of resistance to Bayonville and Chennery. On the 2d the First Corps joined in the movement, which now became an impetuous onslaught that could not be stayed.
[Sidenote: Aid of large caliber guns.]
[Sidenote: The enemy's line of communications cut.]
On the 3d advance troops surged forward in pursuit, some by motor trucks, while the artillery pressed along the country roads close behind. The First Corps reached Authe and Chatillon-sur-Bar, the Fifth Corps, Fosse and Nouart, and the Third Corps Halles, penetrating the enemy's line to a depth of 12 miles. Our large caliber guns had advanced and were skillfully brought into position to fire upon the important lines at Montmedy, Longuyon, and Conflans. Our Third Corps crossed the Meuse on the 5th and the other corps, in the full confidence that the day was theirs, eagerly cleared the way of machine guns as they swept northward, maintaining complete coordination throughout. On the 6th, a division of the First Corps reached a point on the Meuse opposite Sedan, 25 miles from our line of departure. The strategical goal which was our highest hope was gained. We had cut the enemy's main line of communications, and nothing but surrender or an armistice could save his army from complete disaster.
[Sidenote: Prisoners and guns taken.]
[Sidenote: Divisions long in battle line.]
In all 40 enemy divisions had been used against us in the Meuse-Argonne battle. Between September 26 and November 6 we took 26,059 prisoners and 468 guns on this front. Our Divisions engaged were the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Twenty-sixth, Twenty-eighth, Twenty-ninth, Thirty-second, Thirty-third, Thirty-fifth, Thirty-seventh, Forty-second, Seventy-seventh, Seventy-eighth, Seventy-ninth, Eightieth, Eighty-second, Eighty-ninth, Ninetieth, and Ninety-first. Many of our divisions remained in line for a length of time that required nerves of steel, while others were sent in again after only a few days of rest. The First, Fifth, Twenty-sixth, Forty-second, Seventy-seventh, Eightieth, Eighty-ninth, and, Ninetieth were in the line twice. Although some of the divisions were fighting their first battle, they soon became equal to the best.
[Sidenote: The fight in the Meuse Hills.]
On the three days preceding November 10, the Third, the Second Colonial, and the Seventeenth French Corps fought a difficult struggle through the Meuse Hills south of Stenay and forced the enemy into the plain. Meanwhile, my plans for further use of the American forces contemplated an advance between the Meuse and the Moselle in the direction of Longwy by the First Army, while, at the same time, the Second Army should assure the offensive toward the rich iron fields of Briey. These operations were to be followed by an offensive toward Chateau-Salins east of the Moselle, thus isolating Metz. Accordingly, attacks on the American front had been ordered and that of the Second Army was in progress on the morning of November 11, when instructions were received that hostilities should cease at 11 o'clock a.m.
[Sidenote: A new offensive is halted by the armistice.]
At this moment the line of the American sector, from right to left, began at Port-sur-Seille, thence across the Moselle to Vandieres and through the Woevre to Bezonvaux in the foothills of the Meuse, thence along to the foothills and through the northern edge of the Woevre forests to the Meuse at Mouzay, thence along the Meuse connecting with the French under Sedan.
[Sidenote: Cordial assistance of the Allied armies and governments.]
Cooperation among the Allies has at all times been most cordial. A far greater effort has been put forth by the Allied armies and staffs to assist us than could have been expected. The French Government and Army have always stood ready to furnish us with supplies, equipment, and transportation and to aid us in every way. In the towns and hamlets wherever our troops have been stationed or billeted the French people have everywhere received them more as relatives and intimate friends than as soldiers of a foreign army. For these things words are quite inadequate to express our gratitude. There can be no doubt that the relations growing out of our associations here assure a permanent friendship between the two peoples. Although we have not been so intimately associated with the people of Great Britain, yet their troops and ours when thrown together have always warmly fraternized. The reception of those of our forces who have passed through England and of those who have been stationed there has always been enthusiastic. Altogether it has been deeply impressed upon us that the ties of language and blood bring the British and ourselves together completely and inseparably.
[Sidenote: Americans in Italy and in Russia.]
There are in Europe altogether including a regiment and some sanitary units with the Italian Army and the organizations at Murmansk, also including those en route from the States, approximately 2,053,347 men, less our losses. Of this total there are in France 1,338,169 combatant troops. Forty divisions have arrived, of which the Infantry personnel of 10 have been used as replacements, leaving 30 divisions now in France organized into three armies of three corps each.
[Sidenote: American losses and American captures.]
The losses of the Americans up to November 18 are: Killed in action, 36,145; died of disease, 14,811; deaths unclassified, 2,204; wounded, 179,625; prisoners, 2,163; missing, 1,160. We have captured about 44,000 prisoners and 1,400 guns, howitzers and trench mortars.
[Sidenote: Ability of the American officers.]
The duties of the General Staff, as well as those of the Army and corps staffs, have been very ably performed. Especially is this true when we consider the new and difficult problems with which they have been confronted. This body of officers, both as individuals and as an organization, have, I believe, no superiors in professional ability, in efficiency, or in loyalty.
[Sidenote: The Service of Supply.]
Nothing that we have in France better reflects the efficiency and devotion to duty of Americans in general than the Service of Supply whose personnel is thoroughly imbued with a patriotic desire to do its full duty. They have at all times fully appreciated their responsibility to the rest of the Army and the results produced have been most gratifying.
[Sidenote: The Medical Corps.]
Our Medical Corps is especially entitled to praise for the general effectiveness of its work both in hospital and at the front. Embracing men of high professional attainments, and splendid women devoted to their calling and untiring in their efforts, this department has made a new record for medical and sanitary proficiency.
[Sidenote: The Quartermaster Department.]
The Quartermaster Department has had difficult and various tasks, but it has more than met all demands that have been made upon it. Its management and its personnel have been exceptionally efficient and deserve every possible commendation.
[Sidenote: Ordnance Department, Signal Corps and Engineer Corps.]
As to the more technical services, the able personnel of the Ordnance Department in France has splendidly fulfilled its functions both in procurement and in forwarding the immense quantities of ordnance required. The officers and men and the young women of the Signal Corps have performed their duties with a large conception of the problem and with a devoted and patriotic spirit to which the perfection of our communications daily testify. While the Engineer Corps has been referred to in another part of this report, it should be further stated that the work has required large vision and high professional skill, and great credit is due their personnel for the high proficiency that they have constantly maintained.
[Sidenote: American aviators.]
[Sidenote: The Tank Corps.]
Our aviators have no equals in daring or in fighting ability and have left a record of courageous deeds that will ever remain a brilliant page in the annals of our Army. While the Tank Corps has had limited opportunities its personnel has responded gallantly on every possible occasion and has shown courage of the highest order.
[Sidenote: Other Departments.]
The Adjutant General's Department has been directed with a systematic thoroughness and excellence that surpassed any previous work of its kind. The Inspector General's Department has risen to the highest standards and throughout has ably assisted commanders in the enforcement of discipline. The able personnel of the Judge Advocate General's Department has solved with judgment and wisdom the multitude of difficult legal problems, many of them involving questions of great international importance.
It would be impossible in this brief preliminary report to do justice to the personnel of all the different branches of this organization which I shall cover in detail in a later report.
[Sidenote: Cooperation of Navy and Army.]
The Navy in European waters has at all times most cordially aided the Army, and it is most gratifying to report that there has never before been such perfect cooperation between these two branches of the service.
As to Americans in Europe not in the military services, it is the greatest pleasure to say that, both in official and in private life, they are intensely patriotic and loyal, and have been invariably sympathetic and helpful to the Army.
[Sidenote: Heroism of the officers and the men in the line.]
Finally, I pay the supreme tribute to our officers and soldiers of the line. When I think of their heroism, their patience under hardships, their unflinching spirit of offensive action, I am filled with emotion which I am unable to express. Their deeds are immortal, and they have earned the eternal gratitude of our country.
* * * * *
No one doubted the efficiency of the navy or of its capacity to carry on its operations in a way worthy of the traditions of the American Navy. What the navy did during the war, and how it did it, is summarized in the following report by its chief.
THE AMERICAN NAVY IN
EXTRACTS FROM REPORT OF
ADMIRAL H.T. MAYO
[Sidenote: Activities in Ireland, Great Britain, and France.]
In conformity with instructions contained in the reference, the following preliminary statement is herewith submitted in regard to United States naval activities in Europe. This preliminary report relates to our naval activities in Great Britain, Ireland, and France, visit to the last named having been concluded on November 1, 1918. A complete and detailed report will be submitted later and upon completion of the current tour of inspection and observation.
In view of the fact that United States naval activities in Europe are chiefly matters of cooperation with the allied navies, and that the cooperation amounts practically to consolidation where effected with the British Navy, this preliminary report is arranged on that basis in several parts:
[Sidenote: General cooperation.]
I. COOPERATION WITH THE ALLIED NAVIES IN GENERAL. (1) Commander United States naval forces in Europe. (2) Allied naval council. (3) Naval staff representative, Paris. (4) Naval staff representative, Rome.
[Sidenote: Naval Headquarters in London and Ireland.]
II. ACTIVITIES IN COOPERATION WITH THE BRITISH. (1) United States naval headquarters, London. (2) United States naval activities in Ireland. (a) Battleship Division Six, Berehaven. (b) Submarine detachment, Berehaven. (c) Destroyers based on Queenstown. (d) Subchaser Detachment Three based on Queenstown. (3) United States naval air stations in Ireland; seaplane stations; kite-balloon station. (4) Battleship Division Nine. (5) Mine Force. (6) Subchaser Detachment One, based on Plymouth. (7) United States Naval Air Stations, Great Britain, Seaplane Station, Killingholme; Northern Bombing Group, Assembly and Repair Plant, Eastleigh. (8) Cross-channel Transport Service.
[Sidenote: Paris, Brest and coast districts.]
[Sidenote: Naval air stations.]
III. ACTIVITIES IN COOPERATION WITH THE FRENCH. (1) Naval staff representative, Paris. (2) United States naval headquarters, Brest. (3) French coastal districts. (4) Destroyers based on Brest. (5) United States naval air stations on French coast: (a) Seaplane stations. (b) Dirigible stations. (c) Kite-balloon stations. (d) Assembly and repair plant, Pauillac. (e) Aviation Training School, Moutchie.
[Sidenote: Radio stations, hospitals, etc.]
IV. OTHER COOPERATING ACTIVITIES. (1) Naval liaison officer at Army General Headquarters. (2) Naval Radio Station, Croix d'Hins. (3) United States Naval Railway Battery. (4) Naval Pipe-Line Unit. (5) Stations not yet inspected or not to be visited.
V. UNITED STATES NAVAL AVIATION IN EUROPE.
VI. Y.M.C.A. AND SIMILAR ACTIVITIES.
VII. HOSPITAL FACILITIES, ETC.
VIII. CONCLUDING REMARKS.
I. COOPERATION WITH THE ALLIED NAVIES IN GENERAL.
[Sidenote: Varied character of Naval activities.]
It could hardly have been foreseen to what extent United States naval activities in Europe would accumulate, and it is a fact that it has been a growth by accretion rather than by system. The resultant fact is that the supervision of the commander of United States Naval Forces in Europe is of great and varied scope and continues to increase from week to week. Despite this great extent and varied character of our naval activities in Europe (as evidenced by the list given in par. 2 above) and the fact that their growth by accretion has made a highly centralized control more or less inevitable, the results speak for themselves—all of our naval activities are cooperative in character and all of them give every evidence of performing useful and appreciated work wherever found.
[Sidenote: Under the Allied Naval War Council.]
Cooperation with the allied navies in general is effected by means of the Allied Naval War Council, which meets monthly or as may be deemed advisable. The membership is composed of the several naval ministers and naval chiefs of staff and of officers specifically appointed to represent them in their absence. Vice Admiral Sims is the United States naval representative. The secretariat of the council is composed of British officers and personnel, with officers of the allied navies designated for liaison duties therewith.
The Allied Naval Council has advisory functions only and has liaison with the Supreme War Council, with a view to coordinating and unifying allied naval effort, both as regards naval work only and as regards unity of action with military or land effort. Proposals made by the several allied navies are considered and definite steps recommended to be taken in the premises. As well the naval aspects of military (land) proposals are examined into and passed upon. Conversely military (land) aspects of naval activities are referred to the Supreme War Council for consideration.
[Sidenote: Unity of effort on land and sea.]
[Sidenote: Council at first advisory.]
The Allied Naval Council has had, in common with the Supreme War Council, until last spring the handicap of being only advisory in function. The conclusions are recommended to the several Governments for adoption, but there is no common instrumentality for carrying into effect measures which require cooperation or coordination. This state of affairs in the Supreme War Council has been remedied by the appointment of an allied commander in chief in the person of Marshal Foch.
There can be no doubt but that the Supreme War Council has met and that the Allied Naval Council continues to fill a great need as a sort of clearing house for the necessarily varied proposals of the several Governments, most of which require cooperation on the part of some other Government, and certainly it should be continued in being until a more forceful control of allied naval effort can be agreed upon and brought into effect.
[Sidenote: Liaison officers with the War Council and the Naval Council.]
The United States naval staff representative in Paris is the United States naval liaison officer with the Supreme War Council, and a member of the staff of Vice Admiral Sims is the liaison officer with the secretariat of the Allied Naval Council. The United States naval staff representative in Paris is also liaison officer at the French Ministry of Marine and is at present naval attache as well.
[Sidenote: Naval attache to Italy.]
The naval attache to Italy, Capt. C.R. Train, maintains naval liaison with the Italian Ministry of Marine and keeps in touch with the United States naval activities in Italian waters.
II. ACTIVITIES IN COOPERATION WITH THE BRITISH.
Inasmuch as the British are predominant in naval activity, it is natural to find that a major part of our naval activities are in cooperation with them and controlled by them. In fact, the British have been in position to carry so much of the "naval load" of this war that our first and our principal efforts have been toward taking up a share of that load.
[Sidenote: Friendly rivalry between British and Americans.]
Cooperation has in many cases been carried to such an extent that the coordination necessary for efficiency has developed into practical consolidation. It is pleasing to note that while consolidation is all but a fact, our own naval forces have in every case preferred to preserve their individuality of organization and administration and, as far as feasible, of operations; and that a healthy and friendly rivalry between them and their British associates has resulted in much good to the personnel of both services.
[Sidenote: On the coast of Ireland.]
The largest single group of naval activities wherein cooperation is effected with the British is that in Ireland, all of them being under the jurisdiction of the commander in chief, coast of Ireland, who has been and is Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, whose cordial appreciation of the work of our forces has gone far to stimulate the personnel coming under his direction. The chief of staff, destroyer flotillas, and the officer in charge of aviation in Ireland are designated by the British Admiralty as members of the staff of Admiral Bayly.
[Sidenote: Battleship Division Six.]
Battleship Division Six, Rear Admiral T.S. Rodgers, is based on Berehaven, Ireland, in readiness for the protection of convoys in general and of troop convoys in particular. Arrangements are in effect for the supply of their needs as to fuel and stores. While lack of destroyers has operated to restrict their training underway, they are in good material condition and their efficiency is being maintained by utilizing all available facilities.
[Sidenote: The submarine patrol.]
Submarine Detachment, Lieutenant Commanders Friedell and Grady, is based on Berehaven, Ireland, and maintains a submarine patrol off the west and south coasts of Ireland. Their service is hard; they have had a great deal of work at sea and have cheerfully met every demand made on them. Despite their relative isolation, they have maintained themselves in readiness with the aid of the submarine tender Bushnell, whose limited facilities have been utilized to the utmost. Their performances and condition of material and personnel reflect great credit on all concerned.
[Sidenote: Destroyers at Queenstown.]
(a) The destroyers based on Queenstown, Capt. F.R.P. Pringle, are the original United States naval force in European waters—a distinction which is an ever-present spur to cheerful efficiency under any and all circumstances and produces results which must be a satisfaction to their superiors.
[Sidenote: Changes in destroyer personnel.]
(b) Despite the fact that the requirements of supplying personnel for new destroyers has resulted in large changes in the original experienced destroyer personnel, this has been accomplished in such a manner as to maintain the operating efficiency of the force at or near its original high standard.
(c) Aside from unavoidable casualties, the force is in good operating condition. The systemization of supply and repairs developed and maintained by the destroyer tenders Melville and Dixie effect the readiness of destroyers for sea with commendable promptness and with a view to the comfort of destroyer personnel during their short stays in port.
[Sidenote: Destroyer tenders.]
[Sidenote: Gunnery and torpedo exercises.]
(d) Within the last few months means have been found to systematize and supervise the training, particularly with regard to the carrying out of gunnery and torpedo exercises, which, under the press of keeping the sea, had somewhat lapsed in favor of the necessary development of escort work and of depth-charge tactics.
(e) All of the activities at Queenstown—the torpedo repair and overhaul station, the training barracks at Passage, the repair force barracks at Ballybricken House, the general supply depot at Deepwater Quay, the hospital and barracks at White Point, as well as the activities afloat—were well underway and gave an impression of purposefulness in "getting on with the war" in that particular corner of the world.
[Sidenote: Enlisted Men's Club at Queenstown.]
(f) On account of the restricted facilities for liberty and recreation, a special and most successful effort has been made to furnish healthful and interesting diversion in Queenstown itself by means of the Enlisted Men's Club, wholly of and for the men, which is second to none in results obtained in promoting contentment.
[Sidenote: Subchaser at Queenstown.]
Subchaser Detachment Three at Queenstown, Captain A.J. Hepburn, had only recently arrived, but arrangements for their employment were well in hand, and they were expected to begin operations as soon as the means of basing them had been perfected. The need of a suitable tender was apparent, especially for the upkeep of those units whose working ground would be at some distance from the main base. The personnel gave evidence of a strong feeling of eagerness to get to work and of readiness to face the hardships that going to sea in small craft entails.
[Sidenote: Seaplane and balloon stations.]
United States Naval Air Stations in Ireland, Commander F.R. McCrary, consists of seaplane stations at Whiddy Island, Queenstown (also the main supply and repair base), Wexford, and Lough Foyle, and a kite-balloon station at Berehaven. None of these stations was in operation in mid-September, except that Lough Foyle was partially so, but all were about ready to begin operations and would do so upon the receipt of the necessary planes or pilots or both, all of which were en route. A great deal of the construction has been done by our own personnel, some of the stations having been entirely done by them.
[Sidenote: Rear Admiral Rodman's command.]
(a) Battleship Division Nine of the Atlantic Fleet, under the command of Rear Admiral Rodman, has constituted the Sixth Battle Squadron of the British Grand Fleet under Admiral Sir David Beatty for nearly a year.
(b) When this division was sent abroad it had, in common with other units of the Atlantic Fleet, suffered in efficiency from the expansion of the Navy, which required reduction in the number of officers and transfers of numbers of men to furnish trained and experienced nuclei for other vessels. Upon reporting in the Grand Fleet, it immediately took its place in the battle line on exactly the same status as other units of the Grand Fleet. The opportunities for gunnery exercises are limited but drill and adherence to standardized methods and procedure as developed in our own naval service have brought this division to a satisfactory state of efficiency, which continues to improve.
[Sidenote: General efficiency of the squadron.]
(c) It is pleasing to record that the efficiency of this unit in gunnery, engineering, and seamanship is deemed by the British commander in chief to be in no way inferior to that of the best of the British battle squadrons. In fact, it is perfectly proper to state the belief that our ships are in some respects superior to the British, and perhaps chiefly in the arrangements for the health and contentment of personnel, which have been very thoroughly examined into by the flag officers, captains, and other officers of the Grand Fleet. These ships have also been the subject of much favorable comment in regard to their capacity for self-maintenance, a matter which has been given much attention in our own Navy of late years.
[Sidenote: Capacity for self-maintenance.]
(d) Service in the Grand Fleet is noteworthy by reason of the fact that the fleet is at never less than four hours' notice for going to sea, so that liberty is restricted and whatever is necessary in the way of overhaul and upkeep of machinery must always be planned with a view to assembly in case of orders to sea.
[Sidenote: Mine-laying operation.]
[Sidenote: Readiness to attack difficulties.]
The Mine Force of the Atlantic Fleet, under the command of Rear Admiral Strauss, is an independent unit, except that the mine-laying operations are under the jurisdiction of the commander in chief of the Grand Fleet, who has to choose the time when arrangements can be carried into effect to furnish the necessary destroyer escort and heavy covering forces. The arrangements made at home prior to the departure of the mine force appear to have been well considered and thoroughly developed. The mine-laying operations themselves give an impression of efficiency which can only come from thorough preparation and complete understanding of the work. The assembly of mines in the bases has been somewhat changed by the necessity for certain alterations in the mine itself, most of which are due to difficulties inherent in the application of the operating principle of the mine. Here, as elsewhere, the cheerful readiness of officers and men to attack difficulties and to surmount all obstacles is producing results of magnitude and importance of which all too little is known even in the Navy itself.
[Sidenote: Crossing the channel.]
The Cross-channel Transport Service was brought into being to render indispensable assistance to the British in ferrying United States troops across the channel from England, in whose ports over half of our troops were landed from British ships. At the time of inspection late in September four United States vessels were in service, and four more were expected in the course of a few weeks. The vessels in service were superior in capacity to British vessels engaged in the same work and combined with the efficiency of their naval personnel made them the subject of favorable remark by the British transport authorities.
[Sidenote: Subchasers at Plymouth.]
Subchaser Detachment One, based on Plymouth, Captain L.A. Cotten, had been operating for some time. A very compact and efficient base was in process of completion and should, with the aid of the subchaser tender Hannibal, amply suffice for the requirements of a larger number of chasers than that now available. This base is to be expanded into a United States naval base, of which Rear Admiral Bristol will be in charge. The upkeep of chasers is effected entirely with the resources of the base; operations are initiated by the British commander in chief at Plymouth. A great deal of development work in listening devices is being carried on at and from this base. The work of the subchasers from this base has proved their usefulness up to the limit of their sea-going capacity.
(a) United States Naval Aviation in England is carried on by cooperation in two British commands.
[Sidenote: Seaplanes at Killingholme.]
(b) The United States Seaplane Station, Killingholme, Commander K. Whiting, is under the vice admiral commanding on the east coast of England. It has been in operation for some time and does escort of coastal convoys, escort of mine layers in the southern part of the North Sea, and some reconnaissance work in the direction of the Dutch coast.
[Sidenote: Day and night bombing squadrons.]
(c) The Northern Bombing Group, Captain D.C. Hanrahan, is under the vice admiral commanding at Dover, whose jurisdiction extends to naval aviation units in northern France in the vicinity of Calais and Dunkerque. The day bombing squadrons are manned by marines; the night bombing squadrons by the Navy. There has been some delay in the acquisition of suitable night bombing planes, but their delivery will find all in readiness to go immediately to work. The British prescribe the objectives and designate the available free flying time; the operations themselves are carried out by our own personnel. The seaplane station at Dunkerque has operated successfully under the handicap of limited and difficult water area in which to take off and to land.
[Sidenote: The base at Eastleigh.]
(d) The Assembly, Repair, and Supply Station at Eastleigh was brought into being primarily for the Northern Bombing Group because of the difficulties of transportation to and from the general aviation base at Pauillac. It also does necessary work for Killingholme and for the air stations in Ireland. This base, when visited, was in process of completion and gave every evidence of purpose and capacity to meet all requirements likely to be made of it.
III. Activities in Cooperation with the French.
[Sidenote: Vice Admiral Wilson's command.]
Aside from the cooperation effected by the force commander with the French Ministry of Marine through the naval staff representative in Paris on matters of general policy, actual cooperation is carried on by Vice Admiral H.B. Wilson, commander United States naval forces in France, whose headquarters are maintained in Brest.
[Sidenote: The coastal convoy system.]
It is deemed worthy of special remark that whereas practically all cooperation with the British is effected by operating as units under British control, cooperation with the French is arranged on a basis that leaves to the United States naval forces a very large measure of initiative. This is particularly true in regard to troopships destined to French ports, which are provided with escort and routed in and out wholly from the Brest headquarters which is kept fully informed as to routes and positions of British-controlled convoys and as to locations of submarine activities and has to so adjust routes on and off the coast as to keep clear of both. Three out of eight escort units are provided by United States vessels for the coastal convoy system, which is operated by the French. Unity of purpose and sympathy of understanding have combined to make the handling of cargo convoys on and off the coast a matter of ready adjustment to the general conditions obtaining in regard to destination of cargo ships and availability of escort vessels.
[Sidenote: Rate of movement of troops by transports.]
At the end of the fiscal year United States naval forces in France are stated to have been escorting troops into France at the rate of 134,000 per month. Since May 1, 1918, the number of troopships and cargo-vessel convoys east and west bound have averaged more than 1 a day, and the number of ships over 200 a month. No convoy of troopships has failed to be met by destroyer escort before entering the area of submarine activity, and no passenger intrusted to the care of the United States naval forces in France has been lost.
[Sidenote: Destroyers controlled from Brest.]
(a) The destroyers based on Brest are controlled directly from headquarters at Brest and are at present maintained in readiness for service with the aid of the fleet repair ship Prometheus and lately also by the destroyer tender Bridgeport. Additional repair shops on shore are in process of completion.
[Sidenote: Gunnery and torpedo exercises.]
(b) Arrangements are now in hand for the carrying out of gunnery exercises including torpedoes, the need of which has been recognised but had hitherto been deemed impracticable on account of press of work.
[Sidenote: Facilities for repairing vessels.]
(c) The United States naval repair facilities here as well as elsewhere on the coast of France have to be made use of not only for the upkeep of the United States naval vessels based on the coast, but also for necessary repairs to troopships and cargo vessels, whether naval, Army, or Shipping Board, the guiding idea being to keep the ships moving.
[Sidenote: French divided into districts.]
(a) Coastal Districts in France.—The north and west coasts of France are divided into districts which correspond with the French prefectures maritimes, and the district headquarters are in every case located in the same place as those of the several prefects maritimes. These headquarters are communication and operating centers and provide naturally by arrangement as above described for full and ready cooperation with the French district activities.
[Sidenote: Port officers.]
(b) The principal ports have assigned to them a port officer whose function in regard to all United States ships is to expedite their "turn around," and in addition, where vessels carrying United States naval armed guards are concerned, to inspect the armed guards and adjust such matters as are beyond the capacity or authority of the armed guard commander.
(a) United States Naval Aviation in France includes all that the title implies, except the northern bombing group mentioned above, and aviation matters are immediately in the hands of Captain T.T. Craven, aid for aviation on Vice Admiral Wilson's staff.
[Sidenote: Stations for seaplanes, dirigibles and balloons.]
(b) There are eight sea-plane stations, three dirigible stations, and three kite-balloon stations, all of which are operated by district commanders in cooperation with the French naval air services in the several corresponding prefectures maritimes. There is also an assembly, repair, and supply base at Pauillac for the general service of all air stations in France and a sea-plane gunnery and bombing training school at Moutchie, both of these activities being directly under the headquarters in Brest.
(c) Of the eight seaplane stations, five have been in operation for periods varying from 12 to 3 months, and the remaining 3 are now about ready to begin.
(d) Of the three dirigible stations, only that at Paimboeuf has been in operation for any length of time, and is to be used also for training and experimental work. The station at Guipavas will shortly be in operation. The station at Gujan has been delayed to let material go to other stations which it was deemed advisable to complete first.
[Sidenote: Experimental balloon work at Brest.]
(e) Of the three kite-balloon stations, only that at Brest is ready for operation. Test and experimental work have been carried on here since August, 1918, in connection with destroyers and yachts. The station at La Trinite is nearing completion and that at La Pallice is progressing rapidly. The utility of the station at La Trinite seems to be somewhat in doubt, as the original purposes for its establishment have undergone some change due to alterations in the methods of handling convoys, coastal as well as on and off shore.
[Sidenote: Repair and supply station at Pauillac.]
(f) The assembly repair and supply station at Pauillac is under the command of Captain F.T. Evans, under whose forceful and able direction the station has progressed rapidly to completion and is deemed ready to undertake any and all demands that may be made on it.
[Sidenote: Devices used in training aviators.]
(g) The training school at Moutchie, under the command of Commander R.W. Cabaniss appears to have a thorough system of instruction, founded on sound bases, and includes study and lectures, as well as ample, practical work. Endeavor is made to keep in touch with and to adopt, where deemed advisable, the best British and French methods. Some of the devices in use for training are ingeniously adapted to the simulation of the conditions obtaining while flying.
IV. OTHER COOPERATING ACTIVITIES.
[Sidenote: Liaison with the United States Army.]
Liaison with the United States Army in France is carried on by maintaining a naval liaison officer (Commander R. Williams) at the Army general headquarters, chiefly for the purpose of rendering assistance in effecting cooperation as to the handling and routing of troopships and of cargo vessels consigned to Army account.
[Sidenote: The radio station near Bordeaux.]
Trans-Atlantic Radio Station.—The erection of the trans-Atlantic radio-transmitting station at Croix d'Hins, near Bordeaux, is being done by United States naval personnel under the direction of Lieutenant Commander G.C. Sweet. The French authorities are putting in the foundations. The personnel is well taken care of and the work of construction appears to be progressing favorably. It is hoped and expected by those in charge that a four-tower unit will be ready for operation about March 1, 1919.
[Sidenote: The naval railway batteries in France.]
The 14-inch Naval Railway Battery was built and equipped by the Navy and manned by naval personnel for service in France with the United States Army. It arrived in France in July last under the command of Rear Admiral C.P. Plunkett and was ready for service during August. A part of the battery has been operating with the French against Laon and vicinity, and is understood to have rendered what the French consider very valuable service against the enemy. The entire battery is now with the First United States Army, but data as to what it has accomplished are not yet available. This test of our naval guns of late design and large caliber in long-range firing and the opportunities given to naval personnel to study and observe the artillery work on the western front are considered to be of great value to the service.
[Sidenote: The oil pipe line across Scotland.]
A United States Naval Pipe-line Unit has completed important service in the construction of a fuel-oil pipe line across Scotland, and is understood to have been asked for by the French to do some work of the same kind for them.
(a) There are yet to be inspected and observed the following activities, which have not so far been mentioned:
[Sidenote: Additional naval bases.]
United States naval base at Cardiff, Subchaser Detachment Two, based on Corfu, Captain C.P. Nelson, United States naval air stations in Italy.
(b) It is not deemed practicable to visit the United States naval forces based at Gibraltar (Rear Admiral Niblack), nor the United States naval forces based on the Azores, because of difficulties of transportation, as is also the case in regard to the U.S.S. Olympia in northern Russia.
V. UNITED STATES NAVAL AVIATION IN EUROPE.
[Sidenote: Aviation Headquarters in Paris and London.]
(a) The establishment of United States naval aviation in Europe has been one of the most difficult and involved tasks which have had to be undertaken and brought into effect. Captain H.I. Cone arrived in Europe for this work about October 1, 1917, and has continued in charge of it ever since. He maintained headquarters in Paris until about August 1, 1918, when he removed to London and was designated as aid for aviation on staff of the commander of United States naval forces in Europe.
[Sidenote: Supplies arranged for by cable.]
(b) There were arrangements to be made with the French and the British as to locations for stations that would be best adapted for cooperation. There were further arrangements to be made as to the procurement of sites or the taking over of the stations already in operation or in process of construction. The Navy Department had also to be communicated with, largely by cable, as to design, quantities, and shipments of material, which upon receipt had to be allocated with a view to completing certain stations as soon as possible while not delaying the progress of the general scheme any more than could be helped.
[Sidenote: Coastwise transportation difficult.]
(c) Delays and mistakes in the shipment of aviation material probably caused more trouble than any other one thing, for when material once arrives in a European port it has been, and still is, a very difficult matter to arrange for coastwise transportation.
[Sidenote: Creditable progress.]
(d) Taking into consideration the necessary scope of the project, the difficulties inherent in providing for establishments on foreign soil, and the delays which the magnitude of the undertakings caused in the production and shipment of material (and personnel) from the United States, the state of progress is considered highly creditable to Captain Cone and to his assistants.
VI. Y.M.C.A. AND SIMILAR ACTIVITIES.
[Sidenote: Y.M.C.A. activities.]
(a) It was satisfactory to note that in practically all cases—whether our own naval facilities provided reading, writing, and amusement facilities for the personnel or not—the Y.M.C.A. was in evidence. Their arrangements were, in many places, all that could be expected in the way of cheerful and comfortable quarters; and, in those places where the facilities were not so good, inquiry usually revealed the fact that a suitable building was either under way or soon would be.
[Sidenote: Knights of Columbus.]
(b) In at least one place the Knights of Columbus were found established in a commodious building with all in readiness to duplicate the character of the work generally associated with Y.M.C.A. activities.
(c) All assistance of this character, from whatever source, has been gladly taken advantage of by the officers in charge, and is much used and appreciated by the men.
VII. HOSPITAL FACILITIES, SICK QUARTERS, ETC.
[Sidenote: Excellent hospitals at naval bases.]
It is deemed worthy of note that the arrangements and facilities for caring for the sick and injured Navy personnel are almost more than ample. In many of the naval-base hospitals the majority of the patients are, consequently, of other services—both the United States and the allied. The provisions of the United States Navy in this respect are so complete in their facilities and so efficient in their readiness as to excite the admiration of all the foreign services, military as well as naval.
[Sidenote: Hearty cooperation with British and French.]
As has already been said at the beginning of this report, cooperation with the British and the French had been the chief method of work for the United States naval forces in European waters. That cooperation has been effected with such cordial appreciation and the few minor difficulties have yielded so readily to sympathetic understanding that all zeal displayed was in the common interest of "winning the war" that there is and can be nothing but reciprocal praise for each other's efforts, which will be of lasting benefit in future when the present compelling community of interest is no longer operative. The United States and the allies know each other better individually and collectively and are and will continue to be the greater and better friends for the experience that has come out of the cordial cooperation and coordination required by the common interest in this war.
[Sidenote: Spirit of men and officers.]
There is ample evidence on every hand, from the north of Scotland to the shores of the Mediterranean, that officers and men of the naval service, regular and reserve alike and together, have "turned to" on the work in hand, inspired by the guiding idea of doing all in their power, however humble the task, of "helping to win the war." Officers whose preference is for duty at sea, men who came over with a view to doing battle with the enemy, one and all, have done and are doing the work that comes to hand, even to the digging of ditches, with a will and with a cheery readiness for more of the same kind, for anything that will help to "get on with the war," that is an inspiration to all who work with them and of vast satisfaction to those over them who will know what their preferences in the matter of war employment are. They are a credit to the service and to their country.
[Sidenote: High standard of conduct.]
Furthermore, this large body of men, which occupies the position of the advance guard of the Navy, as a whole have so conducted themselves as to earn the highly favorable comment of the citizens in whose country they found themselves and whose guests they are in some measure. It is believed that it may well be said that the men on duty in Europe, far away from home ties and influences, will return to their own country unharmed by the temptations and pitfalls which their relatives and friends may have feared. They are a fine, upstanding lot of men, and their adaptability and efficiency have been so apparent as to fully warrant the oft-made statement that the men of the United States Navy, which includes the Marine Corps, can do anything, anywhere, and at any time.
[Sidenote: The President Lincoln is torpedoed.]
On May 31, 1918, the President Lincoln was returning to America from a voyage to France, and was in line formation with the U.S.S. Susquehanna, the U.S.S. Antigone, and the U.S.S. Ryndam, the latter being on the left flank of the formation and about 800 yards from the President Lincoln. The weather was pleasant, the sun shining brightly, with a choppy sea. The ships were about 500 miles from the coast of France and had passed through what was considered to be the most dangerous part of the war zone. At about 9 a.m. a terrific explosion occurred on the port side of the ship about 120 feet from the bow and immediately afterwards another explosion occurred on the port side about 120 feet from the stern of the ship, these explosions being immediately identified as coming from torpedoes fired by a German submarine.
It was found that the ship was struck by three torpedoes, which had been fired as one salvo from the submarine, two of the torpedoes striking practically together near the bow of the ship and the third striking near the stern. The wake of the torpedoes had been sighted by the officers and lookouts on watch, but the torpedoes were so close to the ship as to make it impossible to avoid them; and it was also found that the submarine at the time of firing was only about 800 yards from the President Lincoln.
There were at the time 715 persons on board, including about 30 officers and men of the Army. Some of these were sick and two soldiers were totally paralyzed.
The alarm was immediately sounded and everyone went to his proper station which had been designated at previous drills. There was not the slightest confusion and the crew and passengers waited for and acted on orders from the commanding officer with a coolness which was truly inspiring.
[Sidenote: No confusion in leaving ship.]
Inspections were made below decks and it was found that the ship was rapidly filling with water, both forward and aft, and that there was little likelihood that she would remain afloat. The boats were lowered and the life rafts were placed in the water and about 15 minutes after the ship was struck all hands except the guns' crews were ordered to abandon the ship.
[Sidenote: Saving the sick and wounded.]
It had been previously planned that in order to avoid the losses which have occurred in such instances by filling the boats at the davits before lowering them, that only one officer and five men would get into the boats before lowering and that everyone else would get into the water and get on the life rafts and then be picked up by the boats, this being entirely feasible, as everyone was provided with an efficient life-saving jacket. One exception was made to this plan, however, in that one boat was filled with the sick before being lowered and it was in this boat that the paralyzed soldiers were saved without difficulty.
[Sidenote: Courageous work of the gunners.]
The guns' crews were held at their stations hoping for an opportunity to fire on the submarine should it appear before the ship sank, and orders were given to the guns' crews to begin firing, hoping that this might prevent further attack. All the ship's company except the guns' crews and necessary officers were at that time in the boats and on the rafts near the ship, and when the guns' crews began firing the people in the boats set up a cheer to show that they were not downhearted. The guns' crews only left their guns when ordered by the commanding officer just before the ship sank. The guns in the bow kept up firing until after the water was entirely over the main deck of the after half of the ship.
The state of discipline which existed and the coolness of the men is well illustrated by what occurred when the boats were being lowered and were about half way from their davits to the water. At this particular time, there appeared some possibility of the ship not sinking immediately, and the commanding officer gave the order to stop lowering the boats. This order could not be understood, however, owing to the noise caused by escaping steam from the safety valves of the boilers which had been lifted to prevent explosion, but by motion of the hand from the commanding officer the crews stopped lowering the boats and held them in mid-air for a few minutes until at a further motion of the hand the boats were dropped into the water.
[Sidenote: Rafts tied together to prevent drifting.]
Immediately after the ship sank the boats pulled among the rafts and were loaded with men to their full capacity and the work of collecting the rafts and tying them together to prevent drifting apart and being lost was begun.
[Sidenote: The submarine takes an officer prisoner.]
While this work was under way and about half an hour after the ship sank, a large German submarine emerged and came among the boats and rafts, searching for the commanding officer and some of the senior officers whom they desired to take prisoners. The submarine commander was able to identify only one officer, Lieutenant E.V.M. Isaacs, whom he took on board and carried away. The submarine remained in the vicinity of the boats for about two hours and returned again in the afternoon, hoping apparently for an opportunity of attacking some of the other ships which had been in company with the President Lincoln but which had, in accordance with standard instructions, steamed as rapidly as possible from the scene of attack.
[Sidenote: After dark signal lights.]
By dark the boats and rafts had been collected and secured together, there being about 500 men in the boats and about 200 on the rafts. Lighted lanterns were hoisted in the boats and flare-up lights and Coston signal lights were burned every few minutes, the necessary detail of men being made to carry out this work during the night.
[Sidenote: Water and food limited.]
The boats had been provided with water and food, but none was used during the day, as the quantity was necessarily limited and it might be a period of several days before a rescue could be effected.
The ship's wireless plant had been put out of commission by the force of the explosion, and although the ship's operator had sent the radio distress signals, yet it was known that the nearest destroyers were 250 miles away, protecting another convoy and it was possible that military necessity might prevent their being detached to come to our rescue.
[Sidenote: Destroyers Warrington and Smith arrive.]
At about 11 p.m. a white light flashing in the blackness of the night—it was very dark—was sighted, and very shortly it was found that the destroyer Warrington had arrived for our rescue and about an hour afterwards the destroyer Smith also arrived. The transfer of the men from the boats and rafts to the destroyers was effected as quickly as possible and the destroyers remained in the vicinity until after daylight the following morning, when a further search was made for survivors who might have drifted in a boat or on a raft, but none were found, and at about 6 a.m. the return trip to France was begun.
The performance of Lieutenant Commander Kenyon, commanding the U.S. destroyer Warrington, and Lieutenant Commander Klein, of the U.S. destroyer Smith deserves great commendation, as they located our position in the middle of the night, after having run a distance of about 250 miles, during which time the boats and rafts of the President Lincoln had drifted 15 miles from the position reported by radio, and it had been necessary for the commanding officers of these destroyers to make an estimate of the probable drift of the boats during that time. The only thing they had to base their estimate on was the force and direction of the wind. The discovery of the boats was not accidental, as the course steered was the result of mature deliberation and estimate of the situation.
[Sidenote: Drift of the boats accurately estimated.]
[Sidenote: The missing.]
Of the 715 men present all told on board, it was found after the muster that 3 officers and 23 men were lost with the ship and that 1 officer, Lieutenant Isaacs, above mentioned, had been taken prisoner. The three officers were Passed Assistant Surgeon L.C. Whiteside, ship's medical officer; Paymaster Andrew Mowat, ship's supply officer; and Assistant Paymaster J.D. Johnston, United States Naval Reserve Force.
[Sidenote: Two officers taken down with the ship.]
The loss of these officers was peculiarly regrettable, as they could have escaped. Both Dr. Whiteside and Paymaster Mowat had seen the men under their charge leave the ship, the doctor having attended to placing the sick in the boat provided for the purpose, and they then remained in the ship for some unexplainable reason, as testified by witnesses who last saw them, and apparently these two excellent officers were taken down with the ship. Paymaster Johnston got on a raft alongside the ship, but in some way was caught by the ship as she went under, as C.M. Hippard, ship's cook, third class, United States Navy, states that he was on the raft with Paymaster Johnston and that they were both drawn under the water, but when he came to the surface, Paymaster Johnston could no longer be seen.
[Sidenote: Men working below decks.]
Of the 23 men who were lost, the following 7 men were engaged in work below decks in the forward end of the ship, and they were either killed by the force of the explosion of the two torpedoes which struck in that vicinity, or were drowned by the inrush of the water.
H.A. Himelwright, storekeeper, second class, United States Navy; F.W. Wilson, jr., yeoman, second class, United States Naval Reserve Force; B. Zanetti, coxswain, United States Navy; A.S. Egbert, seaman, second class, National Naval Volunteer; G.B. Hoffman, seaman, United States Navy; J.A. Jenkins, seaman, second class, United States Navy; F.A. Hedglin, seaman, second class, United States Navy.
[Sidenote: One raft probably went down.]
The remaining 16 men were apparently caught on the raft alongside the ship and went down, this being probably caused by the current of water which was rushing into the big hole in the ship's side, as the men were on rafts which were in this vicinity.
[Sidenote: Danger from submarine.]
Although the German submarine commander made no offers of assistance of any kind, yet otherwise his conduct for the ship's company in the boat was all that could be expected. We naturally had some apprehension as to whether or not he would open fire on the boats and rafts, I thought he might probably do this, as an attempt to make me and other officers disclose their identity. This possibility was evidently in the minds of the men of the crew also, because at one time I noticed some one on the submarine walk to the muzzle of one of the guns, apparently with the intention of preparing it for action. This was evidently observed by some of the men in my boat, and I heard the remark, "Good night, here comes the fireworks." The spirit which actuated the remark of this kind, under such circumstances, could be none other than that of cool courage and bravery.
[Sidenote: Instances of self-sacrifice.]
There were many instances where a man showed more interest in the safety of another than he did for himself. When loading the boats from the rafts one man would hold back and insist that another be allowed to enter the boat. There was a striking case of this kind when about dark I noticed that Chief Master-at-Arms Rogers, who was rather an old man, and been in the Navy for years, was on a raft, and I sent a boat to take him from the raft, but he objected considerably to this, stating that he was quite all right, although as a matter of fact he was very cold and cramped from his long hours on the raft.
[Sidenote: The Balsa rafts excellent.]
Fortunately, the splendid type of life raft known as the Balsa raft, as it was made of balsa wood, had been furnished the ship, and these resulted in saving a great many men who might otherwise have been lost, due to exhaustion in the water.
[Sidenote: Inspiring conduct of the men.]
The conduct of the men during this time of grave danger was thrilling and inspiring, as a large percentage of them were young boys, who had only been in the Navy for a period of a few months. This is another example of the innate courage and bravery of the young manhood of America.
* * * * *
The Germans, hard pressed by the Americans and French in the Meuse-Argonne, and by the British in Flanders, at last saw the futility of further resistance, and asked for an armistice, on November 11. The terms of this armistice, dictated by the Allies, were as follows:
ARMISTICE TERMS SIGNED BY GERMANY
[Sidenote: Operations to cease.]
One—Cessation of operations by land and in the air six hours after the signature of the armistice.
[Sidenote: Invaded countries to be evacuated.]
Two—Immediate evacuation of invaded countries: Belgium, France, Alsace-Lorraine, Luxemburg, so ordered as to be completed within fourteen days from the signature of the armistice. German troops which have not left the above-mentioned territories within the period fixed will become prisoners of war. Occupation by the allied and United States forces jointly will keep pace with evacuation in these areas. All movements of evacuation and occupation will be regulated in accordance with a note annexed to the stated terms.
[Sidenote: Inhabitants to be repatriated.]
Three—Repatriation beginning at once to be completed within fifteen days of all the inhabitants of the countries above enumerated (including hostages, persons under trial or convicted).
[Sidenote: Surrender of war material.]
Four—Surrender in good condition by the German armies of the following war material: Five thousand guns (2,500 heavy, and 2,500 field), 25,000 machine guns, 3,000 minenwerfer, 1,700 airplanes (fighters, bombers—firstly, all of the D 7's and all the night bombing machines). The above to be delivered in situ to the allied and United States troops in accordance with the detailed conditions laid down in the note (annexure No. 1) drawn up at the moment of the signing of the armistice.
Five—Evacuation by the German armies of the countries on the left bank of the Rhine. The countries on the left bank of the Rhine shall be administered by the local troops of occupation. The occupation of these territories will be carried out by allied and United States garrisons holding the principal crossings of the Rhine (Mayence, Coblenz, Cologne), together with the bridgeheads at these points of a thirty-kilometer radius on the right bank and by garrisons similarly holding the strategic points of the regions. A neutral zone shall be reserved on the right bank of the Rhine between the stream and a line drawn parallel to the bridgeheads and to the stream and at a distance of ten kilometers, from the frontier of Holland up to the frontier of Switzerland. The evacuation by the enemy of the Rhinelands (left and right bank) shall be so ordered as to be completed within a further period of sixteen days, in all, thirty-one days after the signing of the armistice. All the movements of evacuation or occupation are regulated by the note (annexure No. 1) drawn up at the moment of the signing of the armistice.
[Sidenote: Allies to occupy left bank of Rhine and principal crossings.]
[Sidenote: Inhabitants of evacuated territories to be protected.]
Six—In all territories evacuated by the enemy there shall be no evacuation of inhabitants; no damage or harm shall be done to the persons or property of the inhabitants. No person shall be persecuted for offenses of participation in war measures prior to the signing of the armistice. No destruction of any kind shall be committed. Military establishments of all kinds shall be delivered intact, as well as military stores of food, munitions, and equipment, not removed during the time fixed for evacuation. Stores of food of all kinds for the civil population, cattle, &c., shall be left in situ. Industrial establishments shall not be impaired in any way and their personnel shall not be removed.
[Sidenote: Means of transportation to be surrendered in good order.]
Seven—Roads and means of communication of every kind, railroads, waterways, main roads, bridges, telegraphs, telephones, shall be in no manner impaired. All civil and military personnel at present employed on them shall remain. Five thousand locomotives and 150,000 wagons in good working order, with all necessary spare parts and fittings, shall be delivered to the associated powers within the period fixed in annexure No. 2, and total of which shall not exceed thirty-one days. There shall likewise be delivered 5,000 motor lorries (camion automobiles) in good order, within the period of thirty-six days. The railways of Alsace-Lorraine shall be handed over within the period of thirty-one days, together with pre-war personnel and material. Further, the material necessary for the working of railways in the countries on the left bank of the Rhine shall be left in situ. All stores of coal and material for the upkeep of permanent ways, signals, and repair shops shall be left in situ. These stores shall be maintained by Germany in so far as concerns the working of the railroads in the countries on the left bank of the Rhine. All barges taken from the Allies shall be restored to them. The note, annexure No. 2, regulates the details of these measures.
[Sidenote: Mine positions to be revealed.]
Eight—The German command shall be responsible for revealing within the period of forty-eight hours after the signing of the armistice all mines or delayed action fuses on territory evacuated by the German troops and shall assist in their discovery and destruction. It also shall reveal all destructive measures that may have been taken (such as poisoning or polluting of springs and wells, &c.). All under penalty of reprisals.
[Sidenote: Allies to have right of requisition.]
Nine—The right of requisition shall be exercised by the allied and United States armies in all occupied territories, subject to regulation of accounts with those whom it may concern. The upkeep of the troops of occupation in the Rhineland (excluding Alsace-Lorraine) shall be charged to the German Government.
[Sidenote: Allied and American prisoners of war to be repatriated.]
Ten—The immediate repatriation without reciprocity, according to detailed conditions which shall be fixed, of all allied and United States prisoners of war, including persons under trial or convicted. The allied powers and the United States shall be able to dispose of them as they wish. This condition annuls the previous conventions on the subject of the exchange of prisoners of war, including the one of July, 1918, in course of ratification. However, the repatriation of German prisoners of war interned in Holland and in Switzerland shall continue as before. The repatriation of German prisoners of war shall be regulated at the conclusion of the preliminaries of peace.
[Sidenote: Sick and wounded to be cared for.]
Eleven—Sick and wounded who cannot be removed from evacuated territory will be cared for by German personnel, who will be left on the spot with the medical material required.
[Sidenote: Germans to withdraw from Austria-Hungary, Rumania, Turkey and Russia.]
Twelve—All German troops at present in the territories which before belonged to Austria-Hungary, Rumania, Turkey, shall withdraw immediately within the frontiers of Germany as they existed on August First, Nineteen Fourteen. All German troops at present in the territories which before the war belonged to Russia shall likewise withdraw within the frontiers of Germany, defined as above, as soon as the Allies, taking into account the internal situation of these territories, shall decide that the time for this has come.
[Sidenote: Evacuation to begin immediately.]
[Sidenote: German requisitions to cease.]
Thirteen—Evacuation by German troops to begin at once, and all German instructors, prisoners, and civilians as well as military agents now on the territory of Russia (as defined before 1914) to be recalled.
Fourteen—German troops to cease at once all requisitions and seizures and any other undertaking with a view to obtaining supplies intended for Germany in Rumania and Russia (as defined on August 1, 1914).
[Sidenote: Bucharest and Brest-Litovsk treaties to be renounced.]
Fifteen—Renunciation of the treaties of Bucharest and Brest-Litovsk and of the supplementary treaties.
Sixteen—The Allies shall have free access to the territories evacuated by the Germans on their eastern frontier, either through Danzig, or by the Vistula, in order to convey supplies to the populations of those territories and for the purpose of maintaining order.
[Sidenote: East Africa to be evacuated.]
Seventeen—Evacuation by all German forces operating in East Africa within a period to be fixed by the Allies.
[Sidenote: Repatriation without reciprocation.]
Eighteen—Repatriation, without reciprocity, within a maximum period of one month in accordance with detailed conditions hereafter to be fixed of all interned civilians, including hostages (persons?) under trial or convicted, belonging to the allied or associated powers other than those enumerated in Article Three.
[Sidenote: Financial restitution.]
Nineteen—The following financial conditions are required: Reparation for damage done. While such armistice lasts no public securities shall be removed by the enemy which can serve as a pledge to the Allies for the recovery or reparation for war losses. Immediate restitution of the cash deposit in the national bank of Belgium, and in general immediate return of all documents, specie, stocks, shares, paper money, together with plant for the issue thereof, touching public or private interests in the invaded countries. Restitution of the Russian and Rumanian gold yielded to Germany or taken by that power. This gold to be delivered in trust to the Allies until the signature of peace.
[Sidenote: Cessation of hostilities at sea.]
Twenty—Immediate cessation of all hostilities at sea and definite information to be given as to the location and movements of all German ships. Notification to be given to neutrals that freedom of navigation in all territorial waters is given to the naval and mercantile marines of the allied and associated powers, all questions of neutrality being waived.
[Sidenote: Germany to return naval prisoners.]
Twenty-one—All naval and mercantile marine prisoners of the allied and associated powers in German hands to be returned without reciprocity.
[Sidenote: Submarines and mine layers to be surrendered.]
Twenty-two—Surrender to the Allies and United States of all submarines (including submarine cruisers and all mine-laying submarines) now existing, with their complete armament and equipment, in ports which shall be specified by the Allies and United States. Those which cannot take the sea shall be disarmed of the personnel and material and shall remain under the supervision of the Allies and the United States. The submarines which are ready for the sea shall be prepared to leave the German ports as soon as orders shall be received by wireless for their voyage to the port designated for their delivery, and the remainder at the earliest possible moment. The conditions of this article shall be carried into effect within the period of fourteen days after the signing of the armistice.
[Sidenote: German warships to be disarmed and interned.]
Twenty-three—German surface warships which shall be designated by the Allies and the United States shall be immediately disarmed and thereafter interned in neutral ports or in default of them in allied ports to be designated by the Allies and the United States. They will there remain under the supervision of the Allies and of the United States, only caretakers being left on board. The following warships are designated by the Allies: Six battle cruisers, ten battleships, eight light cruisers (including two mine layers), fifty destroyers of the most modern types. All other surface warships (including river craft) are to be concentrated in German naval bases to be designated by the Allies and the United States and are to be completely disarmed and classed under the supervision of the Allies and the United States. The military armament of all ships of the auxiliary fleet shall be put on shore. All vessels designated to be interned shall be ready to leave the German ports seven days after the signing of the armistice. Directions for the voyage will be given by wireless.
[Sidenote: Allies to sweep mine fields.]
Twenty-four—The Allies and the United States of America shall have the right to sweep up all mine fields and obstructions laid by Germany outside German territorial waters, and the positions of these are to be indicated.
[Sidenote: Free accession to the Baltic for the Allies.]
Twenty-five—Freedom of access to and from the Baltic to be given to the naval and mercantile marines of the allied and associated powers. To secure this the Allies and the United States of America shall be empowered to occupy all German forts, fortifications, batteries, and defense works of all kinds in all the entrances from the Cattegat into the Baltic, and to sweep up all mines and obstructions within and without German territorial waters, without any question of neutrality being raised, and the positions of all such mines and obstructions are to be indicated.