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Trench and camp. [volume] (Augusta, Ga.) 1917-1919, October 24, 1917, Image 10

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89053537/1917-10-24/ed-1/seq-10/

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Submarines Have Little Chance To Sink American Troopships;
Navy Protects Transports Like Mother Guarding Her Children
There is not a man in the thirty
tvro cantonments who has not spec
ulated at some time or other on
what the trip through Germany’s
alleged “barred zone" on the Atlan
tic would be like while going “Over
There” on a troop transport.
And it is quite natural that the
American soldiers, thousands of
whom have never crossed the ocean,
even in times of peace, should draw
upon their imagination to figure out
the experiences and sensations pos
sible while on the ocean with sub
marines lurking about to send the
transport to Davy Jones’ Locker if
One of the most interesting,
thrilling and informative articles
thus far written on the voyage of an
American troopship through the
“barred zone" was penned by Ray
mond G. Carroll, whose fascinating
detailed narrative has been copy
righted by the Philadelphia Public
Ledger and is published in Trench
and Camp by special permission. It
Entering the “barred zone” upon
a troopship loaded with Yankee
lighters, the emotions are kindred
to those experienced in an initial
crossing of the equator; one almost
expected to see a visible line of de
marcation rise out of the water. I
was on the bridge when we went in.
Tn fact, for several nights back I
had slept in a hammock loaned me
by the ship’s master—God bless him
—slung up on the boat deck just
rear of the bridge. My pillow was
a life preserver. Not even a pour
ing North Atlantic rain succeeded in
driving me from that hammock.
Courage, “red badge’’ or any
other brand of that much sought
after headline article did not tug
very hard toward the occupancy of
the warm, soft bed in the stateroom
to the exclusion of an opportunity
to be where tfte panorama of events
cn a major scale was bound to un
fold. Some of the young army offi
cers, doubtless in a spirit of bra
vado during the concluding nights
of the. voyage sought their state
room beds, but I observed that the
veteran commanders took no such
chances. The older men bunked
within a stone’s throw of their
sleeping men, picking the spot
where they would be able to grapple
with any situation that might arise
and keep it in hand. •
“I am sleeping in my berth every
night,” boasted a young lieutenant.
“How lucky a double sense of re
sponsibility has not reached you
yet,” replied one of the majors.
With the compactness of sardines
in a tin where we were passing
through the submarine zone both
officers and men were strewn about
those decks of the ship located well
above the water line. Orders had
been issued for everybody to sleep
in his clothing. The purpose of the
commanding officers was to avoid
she possibility of any surprise. The
result was that to pick one’s way,
after dark, from the bow to the
stern required masterly footwork.
Now and then, as you crept along,
you landed lightly upon an extend
ing leg or elbow, but the boys were
good-natured and quickly dropped
back into slumber.
Destroyers Sighted
I was seated in the skipper's of
fice shortly after 2 o’clock of the
day we began to traverse the much
advertised danger zone when the
senior naval commander opened the
door leading from the bridge. He
said: “Come quickly now, and you
will see a pretty sight.”
Getting behind a large marine
telescope I saw a sight that was
thrilling in the highest degree; the
gallant approach of ae fleet of
American destroyers and other
units which was to convoy us to the
European mainland. They spanned
the eastern horizon and swept down
upon us in a “search curve.” The
newcomers were from that portion
of the navy that has been for some
time in European waters. They
were hunting for us along a certain
degree of latitude. I would like to
Page 10
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tell the details of their formation,
but it is not in wisdom to do so.
It Is enough to say that they were
sufficient in number to cover in a
chain of easy visibility an advancing
front of considerable width.
Not to have seen what next hap
pened—it is the crowning incident
awaiting the vision of every Amer
ican soldier who goes to France—
is not to have lived in these stirring
Like a loving mother throwing
her arms around her children the
destroyers on the north and south
wings of the curve closed about the
transports and the navy units of
the transatlantic convoy. It was
our navy in a supreme moment of
its trained intelligence standing by
our army. It was the warm em
brace we had been waiting for.
People at home hugging their se
cluded firesides can hardly appre
ciate it. That portion of the army
on my troopship cheered and the
band stationed in the forward part
of the ship started to .play "The
Stars and Stripes Forever.” I wish
every slinking, faint-hearted Amer
ican citizen could have been aboard
to witness this event, for in the
presence of brave men cowards are
put to shame.
The flagship of the torpedo flo
tilla, a low, rakish destroyer, swung
alongside the chief unit of the navy
convoys, in whose care we had left
the American mainland. They
were observed speaking confiden
tially to each other. Never mind
how. In the navy conversation flows
in many automatic tongues; flag
signals, semaphore signals, radio
wireless, blinkers and searchlight
flashes. Hardly had the naval com
mander of the transatlantic convey
ers exchanged conversation with
the new arrivals when certain units
of the navy which were scheduled
to turn back, changed their course
and left us, soon dropping out of
sight in the westward.
Change of Convoy
We in the transports had been
passed over without hitch from one
set of floating forts to another. It
was the biggest moment I have ever
passed through. Here is a great
subject for a marine artist to paint.
We had connected with Europe un
der the folds of “Old Glory.” Our
navy was right there on the rim of
the “barred zone” with teeth set,
full of actual experience in fighting
submarines and possessing the lat
est “dope” about the enemy. Cheer
for the navy!
Right about where we took up
the gauntlet thrown down by the
Kaiser the currents of the Gulf
Stream spread into a fan and carry
their warmth in various directions.
Hidden somewhere in these cur
rents were the German submarines.
The average speed of a submarine'
is ten knots under water and double
that on the surface. To come to
the surface was to come into the
range of an American gunnery
which they have learned to respect.
They can run under water at a depth
of sixty feet and can submerge to
200 feet. The high explosive bombs
with which the English destroyers
have fought them burst at a depth
in the water of eighty feet and
more. These bombs have an effec
tive exploding radius of 200 square
Inasmuch as overmuch has been
written of the menace of the sub
marine, I want to show that our
troopship, aside from the pavy guns
and their operating jackies on our
decks, aside from the protecting
units of the navy itself with us, as
well as any other army transport,
has a tiptop chance to escape the
undersea craft. From the spar of
the forward mast in the ship, about
eighty-flve feet above the upper
deck, the human eye commands an
area of 380 square miles in which
a submarine emerged can be seen.
At the same altitude the periscope
of a submarine is visible for an area
of twelve square miles. Good
watchers combined with high speed
are in themselves enough to get
away with provided there is no haze
or fog around the ship.
To enforce order, to protect prop
erty and to deny access to certain
portions of the ship on each trans
port there is organised a guard of
Oct. 24,1917.
soldiers. There are a score of posts
to be covered. Men have to be sta
tioned at the magazines, some at
the hatchways and others at the
fire caps. The guard was divided
into three shifts and required the
activities of sixty men, a sergeant
and three corporals. All are under
the direct control of the officer of
the day, who saw to it that the sen
tinels remain at their posts, making
repeated inspections, at least one
of which was made every twenty
(Continued on page 8)
That Cartoon or Draw
ing for The Trench
and Camp Wrist
Watch Contest?
Some soldier is going to get
this wrist watch and it might as
well be you.
Every soldier believes he can
do three things—sing, write a <
book and draw a picture. ;
Perhaps you may not be the ,
best artist in the world, but your ,
idea and execution may be so i
unique as to get the verdict at the
hands of the judges.
Draw a patriotic cartoon which
would appeal to the soldiers in .
the thirty-two cantonments, or a [
sketch of army life as it impresses
Draw anything you think would
be suitable for this contest and
mail it to Room 504 Pulitzer
Building before noon, November
Be sure and write your name
and the name of your company
and regiment plainly when you
send in the cartoon so that prop
er credit may be given you.
Each soldier m the canton
ments may send in as many car
toons or sketches as he desires.
The watch - winning cartoon or
drawing and as many others as
possible will be printed in Trench
and Camp.

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