World War 1 Story: The Diary of a U-Boat Commander




“At 2 p.m. we saw a most tantalizing spectacle. A big tank steamer, fully 600 feet long and of probably 17,000 tons burthen hove in sight, escorted by two destroyers. To attack with the gun was impossible, as we could only keep the conning tower open when stern to sea, and in any case the two destroyers prevented any surface work. We tried to get in for an attack, but we had not seen her in time, and the best we could do was to get within 3,000 yards, at which range it would have been absurd to have wasted a torpedo, the chances of hitting being 100 to 1 against, even if the torpedo had run properly in the sea that was on. I had a good look at her through the foremost periscope in between the waves, and it maddened me to see all that oil, doubtless from Tampico for the Grand Fleet, going safely by. The destroyers were having a bad time of it, crashing into the sea like porpoises, their funnels white with salt, and their bridges enveloped in sheets of water and spray. They little thought that, barely a mile away, amidst the tumbling, crested waves a German eye was watching them! There is no doubt these damned British have pluck, for it was the last sort of weather in which one would have expected to find destroyers at sea, and yet I suppose they do this throughout the winter. After all, one would expect them to be tough fellows–they are of Teutonic stock–though by their bearing one might imagine that the Creator made an Englishman and then Adam. Let’s hope we get some decent weather to-morrow. I have just been refreshing my memory by reading of what I wrote in the book, concerning the day in the forest with the adorable girl. There is an exquisite pleasure in transporting the mind into such memories of the past when the body is in such surroundings as the present, if only I could will myself to dream of her!” – Excerpt from the book –

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