20 February 1917 – 36 hours in an life boat and then rescued by a French vessel. U boat sunk too.

DIARY: All day in open boats taking turns on the raft knee deep in water. Taking turns on oars then on bailing, wet through to skin.  23 men in each boat and 7 went on ahead in dingy, lost the other boats as it became dark on Monday night.  Getting awfully fagged.  About 6pm we sighted a French destroyer and hailed her, the Dunois.  The first humans we had seen for 36 hours the time we were in the open boats.  She came alongside and after circling around several times she came and took us on board..  Men thrown into ditch and our boat was sunk.  All the 23 of us got aboard.  Imagine our delight on reception was magnificent and the dear old Frenchies got our clothes dried and gave us some hot port wine and hot meal and bread.  I was scarcely able to stand and reeled about.  The submarine was sunk without doubt, the conning tower was blown to bits.


James was probably in a life boat similar to these:


The DUNOIS  was a French torpedo gunboat built 1896-1897.  It was based at the Arsenal de Cherbourg.  It was originally classified as torpedo avisos and later as  a destroyers but had no torpedoes! Original lightly armoured, it was intended specially for actions against enemy torpedo boats.

dunois1Picture of the Dunois with the armoured cruiser Marsellaise in the background, at Dunkerque.

There is a story that as The Dunois was rescuing the crew of The Lady Olive, a periscope was seen in the water.  Some historians believe that U-boats liked to lurk in the vicinity, so that it could then attack any ships that came to the rescue of the beleaguered crew.  However, no actual attack was carried out and as UC-18 was never seen or heard of after its engagement with The Lady Olive, it is very unlikely that it was UC-18 that was lurking with this intention.


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