28 November 1916 – Action against a German submarine.

28 November 1916

HMT Nodzu

Milford

Wednesday

Dear Mother & Father

We have just returned to Milford after a 3 day trip to sea.  It has been a very eventful one as you will learn later on.  We left Milford last Sunday morning just as the Church bells were ringing.  It seemed very strange going out to sea on a Sunday.  I should much have preferred going to Church but we were ordered to sea & Sundays are just like any other day to us.  We were bound for Lands End and steamed full speed down the Irish Sea, keeping well in near the coast.  We left the Welsh coast behind & headed across the Bristol Channel finally sighting the coast of Devon.  We ran along the Devon & Cornish coast all night & all was serene until Monday morning.  I finished my breakfast and took my watch in the Cabinet about 8.45 AM.  Joe had gone aft for water in a bucket, & I heard him walking slowly along the deck, returning with the full bucket.  We have to cross the gun platform to get down the hatchway to our cabin.  Joe had just reached the platform when the gunner gave a mighty yell and Joe dropped his bucket.

To put things in a nutshell, the periscope of a German submarine had been sighted about 50 yds from the ship.

In another second a shot had been fired by us. This was my first intimation that anything out of the ordinary was a foot.  I jumped about six feet into the air, it all happened so suddenly.

My place was down below & so there I had to stop seeing nothing of the business. I was not at all frightened but was very excited.  We got 3 rounds off at her.  The opinion seems to be that her periscope was carved away but I doubt it.

She immediately submerged to the dismay of the crew. She was a certain cop had she stayed it out, as the chap who gets the first shot in generally wins.

We just had her range but she immediately went down or another German submarine would have gone west.

We have a splendid gun for the purpose & it is only the submarines torpedoes that we fear at all.

After the submarine we put out our sweeps and attached a mine to them. We exploded the mine but saw nothing further.  This was just off Lands End.  We stayed there all day looking for the sub but saw no more of her.  We then put into Mounts Bay and I saw Penzance & St Michaels Mount very clearly.  We picked up our Convoy an oil tank belonging to the Anglo American Oil Co and escorted her to Bardsey Island.  We were relived at dusk last night by Pilling’s ship, The Vanessa, off Bardsey Island.  It was too dark to see anything.  We then returned to Milford & I have just dropped anchor now.  The submarine never showed fight at all.

The mails have not yet come off but I have got this ready to send off with the first boat that goes ashore.  I have not been sick at all this trip & I hope that I have  got over it finally now.  Don’t worry about me at all as we can give a good account of ourselves in any scrap with a submarine.

Little did I think that just a fortnight after joining the Nodzu I should be in action with her.

The ship is to be recommended for the smart way in which she tackled the sub.

Hope all are well at home.

Will write again soon

Love to all

James

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