GUARDING Our COAST LINE
A Review of Wartime Measures in East
THOMAS M. FRASER
THE first time the war was really brought home to the people of this side of the Atlantic was when the two German “commercial” submarines, the Deutschland and Bremen, sailed for the United States. The Bremen never reached a port, so far as is known; what became of her is one of the secrets of the Admiralty; but the Deutschland, arrived in the United States and took on cargo— including, it is alleged, Canadian nickel. She received a great deal of publicity; but, like much of the German propaganda, it was illadvised ; because the fact that submarines could come into American ports with German products of commerce must have made the people of the United States realize that she could bring in mines and torpedoes also ; and, as a matter of fact, it is belived that she did subsequently come into American waters thus laden, and laid her eggs. The commercial activities of the submarines amounted to nothing; their visit was probably a part of the German program of terrorism, being meant as a hint of how they might come subsequently; as, in fact, they did come.
They also aroused the British Admiralty to the fact that, although the seas had been cleared of German cruisers, they were open to the submarines, and our coasts were vulnerable. Thereafter active precautions were taken against them. It is now known that the German plan of campaign included great activity on this side of the Atlantic in the spring and summer of 1919. Had not the collapse come when it did, an attempt would certainly have been made to carry this plan out. It would, howrever, have amounted to nothing. Canada’s defences were far from her own coasts. They rested in the brains of Canadians; because it was really Canadians who solved the submarine problem. The exact means by which this was solved has not yet been given to the world, except that the aid of electricity was called in. But this is known ; the straits of Dover were closed to submarines on August 29th, 1918. After that date no submarine ever went through; and no enemy submarine ever will. It came a little late for the Lux Blanca; the Triumph; the Annie M. Perry; and a dozen or so more ships in our waters; because the svbs got them off our coasts, within sight of our defences.
Was Our Defence System Bad? \XTHETHER they should ever have got any of our * ’ ships at all or riot, is a question I am not competent to discuss, not being an expert in coast defence. There are those who believe our defences were badly handled; and Mr. Duff, member for Lunenburg, asked in vain for a Parliamentary committee of investigation into naval conditions on the Atlantic coast. The sins connected with the question of naval defence in Canada are largely political; and go some way back.
It is not to be supposed, however, that we were left naked to the enemy. Had this been the case, Halifax would have suffered even more severely than it did from that terrible explosion which was, indirectly, a war damage.
The dangers we had to anticipate from the enemy along the Atlantic coast were, primarily, dangei's to shipping. Even if a submarine had got past the defences at Halifax and up into Bedford Basin, there would have been no attempt to attack the city. But when you consider that, at times, there were as many as ninety or one hundred of the biggest steamers afloat gathered in Bedford Basin, waiting for convoy, loaded with cargoes of unimaginable wealth and importance to the Allies, you may speculate on the damage a submarine could have wreaked if she had ever gone in.
/AN the 6th of August, 1914, people all over Canada ^ read the glaring headlines in their local papers: “Glace Bay Shelled by German Warships.” It was a pure canard; but that report came in somewhere out of the illimitable ether; it was caught at Halifax, and
they hurried off crews to the defence of the beleaguered city. Some went by train with guns. The D.G.S. -was in port at Halifax, and she got up steam at once. For a time it looked as though the Captain would have to go almost alone. The crew were unused to war’s alarms; and they did not want to go Into the war bull-headed. They wanted some time to think the thing over, and make up their minds whether they really wanted to be heroes or not. The Captain called for volunteers to step across the deck. There was no imitation of a rush. Then he promised, if they would take the ship around with him, that he would land those who desired to go ashore at Louisburg, en route. On that understanding, he got all but five or six; these he kicked ashore, either actually or metaphorically. Probably the draft got them later, and to-day they may be buried in heroes’ graves in Argyle House, London.
When the ship sighted Louisburg, there was a great smoke arising from the shore. It looked from a distance as though the Hun might be there, hurrying and burning. At all events, a sharp English bo’sun on board carried this news down below ; and it was unanimously resolved to push on to Glace Bay. There they found—nothing at all.
Nevertheless, that wireless had been sent out with some intent. The explanation the naval authorities give is that it was sent from the German wireless station in the United States, and the idea was to draw awray the British ships watching cff New York to bottle up German steamers which might try to get away.
Fat Prizes Were Missed
T T is undeniable that unpreparedness on the part of A Canada at the beginning of the war caused us the 'oss of many rich prizes. Had the naval program designed in 1911 been carried on, we should have had available for coast defence and offence here the Niobe, two smaller cruisers, and three destroyers. As it was we had the Niobe tied up to her wharf at Halifax, out of commission, and with a total ship’s company of 32 cut of her full complement of 670. They worked like Trojans to get her ready for sea. She began recruiting from the shore, and all the men in the dockyard were taken on, including one old-timer who was with Admiral Hornby in the passage of the Dardanelles in ’78. The crews of the Shearwater and the Algerian were brought across from the Pacific, and put on board her. Large numbers of deserters from the Imperial navy mysteriously appeared from nowhere—men who had tired of the piping times of peace, but answered the call of war. In thirty days this sheer hulk, which had surrendered to the political big guns several years
before, was ready for her trials.
But it was torment to those on board of her to think what they were missing while all this was going on. The Hambury-American liner Willehad, a legitimate prey, with millions of dollars worth of cargo on board, came along and almost laughed in their faces. She steamed along the Nova Scotia coast, where they could almost see her smoke, and took refuge in Portland. The Kronprinzessin Cecilie, with other millions in goods and gold, had left Boston before war broke out, but she was turned back by wireless; and fishermen off Cape Sable reported seeing her steam leisurely past our doors to take refuge in Bar Harbor, Maine. Officers of the Niobe say thiy would have had a chance, at least, at about a dozen big German ships, had she been in commission when war was declared.
The Niobe did good work, nevertheless, after she got in commission. She -was attached to the examination service off New’ York, where her duty was to hold up all suspicious ships and examine them, reporting them on to Kirkw'all, which was then the chief examining station. She has 65 captured ships to her credit; a record surpassed only by the Suffolk, with 67. In 1915, she steamed 37,500 miles—which for the “tin-pot navy” was going some. Later she was made the station ship at Halifax; and, in all, over 5,000 men were passed through her during the war, and put into the service.
“Who killed our navy?” “I,” said the politician : "With the helpful addition “Of the party press J must confess, I killed the navy.” “Who saw it die?” “I,” said Jack Hazen. With attitude brazen. “Now that I’m safely berthed , I don’t care what’s unearthed— Í saw it die.’’
XJ A VAL activity on this side of the water was, ad^ mittedly, largely devoted to convoy work, and to making safe the path of the convoys and war ships by mine sweeping. No ship was supposed to go in or out of Halifax until the channel had been swept, and this was done regularly every morning.
Previous to the summer of 1917, the work was not done very systematically, because the German submarines had not begun to appear on this side, although there was a small patrol fleet at Halifax and an examination service. In that year it was realized that, owing to increased sphere of submarine action, the risks off this coast had been increased. In the latter part of 1916, the British Admiralty first approached the Canadian Naval Department on the subject of procuring ships to take up anti-submarine work. Later, they asked the Department to increase the patrol on this coast to 36 ships as soon as possible, and made inquiries as to whether some trawlers and drifters could be built in Canada. Presumably, they had some doubt about it; because among the many foolish, if not criminal, statements at the time of the navy discussion, it was said that it would take fifty years to build ships here; that we could not provide the riveters; and that wise young man, Winston Churchill, even went so far as to inform us that we had no ground here for a shipyard—when Canadians had always been under the impression that, next to water, ground was one of our largest assets. At all events, it was arranged to have one hundred drifters and thirty-six trawlers built in Canada, and to secure the crews to man them.
Recruiting centres were opened in many Canadian towns and cities and the three thousand additional officers and men needed were secured, and their training was begun. The patrol was then under Admiial Sir Charles Coke, R. N., who, having retired from the service, was serving as Commodore, R. N. R. He organized and conducted the patrol from May, 1917,
until August of the same year, when he was relieved by Captain Walter Hose, R. C. N.
In October, 1917, the newly built ships began to arrive from the St. Lawrence; and from then until the close of navigation, there was a steady stream of them arriving at Halifax. Considering all things, they were a floating refutation of the libel that good ships could not be built in Canada. t
A British sea captain in Sydney told me that two of the best built ships he ever saw were among those built for the Dominion Government at Vickers, in Montreal.
It had now been decided that all the one hundred drifters would not be needed on the Canadian coast, and only 36 of this class were to be retained in Canada. During the winter of 1917-18, the patrol of mine sweepers was maintained off Halifax, their most important work being the protection of the large convoys made up there. There was also a watching patrol maintained along the coast between Halifax and St. John. Large numbers of the newly-joined men were being trained at Halifax in the many duties connected with the mine-sweeping patrol, escorts, anti-submarine work, including gunnery and the control of gun-fire, hydroplane work for locating submarines, depthcharge work, handling the different types of minesweeps, signalling and methods of operating patrol ships in company as a flotilla, both in clear and foggy weather.
When navigation opened in the spring, ships kept coming down the river to Halifax and Sydney, according to the base allotted to them. By July, 1918, the patrol had reached 130 ships in all, including six U.S. sub. chasers, attached to the Canadian flotilla. The work on which they were employed was mine-sweeping the approaches to Halifax and Sydney Harbors; and an American division was also held ready at each of those points to sweep the areas off the Canadian and Newfoundland coasts on which many mines were reported, or on which there was reason to believe mines had been laid.
The Material Was Raw
MINE sweeping operations, exclusive ot the routine sweeps off Halifax, Sydney, and St. John, were carried on all along the coast routes from Sydney to Shelburne, and also to Cape Race; and there were regular patrols in the straits of Belle Isle. Temporary bases were operated in Newfoundland at Bonne Bay and Mutton Bay; and the total area over which Canadian patrols operated extended from Belle Isle, Newfoundland, to Cape Sable, N.S. ; and from Gaspe to east of the Virgin Rocks. .
While there were many experienced sailors m the crews, it must be admitted also that a good deal of the material was pretty raw. When the skippers used to go up the St. Lawrence to take down the trawlers and drifters, they had troubles of their own, and would wire back, despairingly: “For God’s sake send us some sailors.” It was up to them, however, to make sailors of what they had; and the work done by Canadian captains and mates has never been sufficiently recognized—nor paid. The skippers were taken from fishing schooners, lake vessels, or wherever theycould get them. They had to learn all sorts of technical details absolutely new them; how to keep in touch and manœuvre in bad weather; and many other things which it was never designed in peace time that a skipper should know. The crews enlisted from all over Canada; and, under conditions of life to which in most cases they were quite unused, proved very good. The lesson of this would seem to be that we have all the raw material for a very good navy in Canada—if we could keep the curse of partisan politics out of it.
In addition to the regular patrols, continuous investigations had to be carried on all over the area of operations to find out about suspicious ships, flashing lights, reported submarines, enemy plots, etc. There was any amount of such reported; wherever there was a German or any other of alien enemy origin—or even if he had a name sufficiently strange to hang a plot on—rumors were likely to grow. Down Lunenburg way, there dwelt a retired professor of languages, born in one of the German cantons of Switzerland, who caused many an earnest amateur detective to lay out on cold nights watching for suspicious signals. Finally it was thought
that such were discovered, but there was no proof elicited that the old gentleman had been conducting anything but ordinary perambulations with a lantern; nor does there seem to have been any object possible in such treachery on his part. Again, there was considerable excitement aroused in Prince Edward Island by signals being flashed back and forth out of doors, in remote places; and it is probable that the black foxes were placed under double guard. It -was found that the signalling was being conducted by members of the geodetic survey, proceeding about their business on their lawful occasions.
While it is improbable that any of these mysterious lights seen so frequently were those of the enemy, there is no doubt that many of them emanated from parties whom the authorities would have been glad to capture. The long, low, black lugger; the cave inland or on the shore; the rolling of barrels and the hurrying about with lanterns in the dead of night—all this is of not uncommon occurrence on the coast of Cape Breton. The French islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, lying off the coast of Newfoundland, are opposite our eastern coast; and many a barrel of good stuff comes across without any notification to King George. When prohibition gets in full swing, believe me, gentle reader, there will be some busy times for the exciseman in Cape Breton and along our coast generally. The prohibition people will have to raise a fund to buy those islands from France if they want to make Canada dry.
Chasing a Phantom Sub
WHEN peace came, there was no class happier than the -whales, and the porpoises, and any other marine inhabitants with round, black backs which they raise above the surface of the sea when traveling. The mortality* caused among whales by sub-hunters was terrific. Anything that looked like a sub was fair game. Great excitement was caused at headquarters by a message received one morning from St. John s, Nfld., that a sub was lying doggo behind an ice-berg, 15 miles from Gape Royal. The patrol put forth, resolved to uphold the traditions of the service. They approached in battle formation, and had everything which should accompany an action against the enemy, including “low visibility; but the enemy could be discerned, about as reported.
As they came close, it submerged, but immediately rose again. The decks were cleared for action, battle stations were ordered, and the cook retir-ed to the fo’c’s’le to pray. Just as they were prepared to fire a salvo, they found that some other ship had beaten them to it; it was merely a dead whale, with five gannets perched on it; but it looked for all the world like the real thing, and the swell of their advancing ship against the berg had caused it to submerge and rise again.
We had subs of our own—two of them; but they were not dangerous to human life, so long as the crew maintained care in operating them. Nevertheless, they were brought around from British Columbia, where Dick McBride had stationed them after he got them from the tinsmith at Seattle who soldered them. Lying at the wharf at Halifax, where they could be seen in all their menacing effect by Trotzky, or Berns-
torff, or any other potential enemy in there to have his clothes gone through, their moral effect was probably strong. Their ultimate disposal has not been finally decided upon, but it is not unlikely that they will be given to the Czecho-Slovaks, if they w'ill consent to take them ; if not, they must be made to do so.
In addition to the patrol work by ships, there was a squadron of hydroplanes during the latter months of the war. In. 1917, the United States opened a naval base at Halifax, with branches at Shelburne and North Sydney, and an air station at the Eastern Passage, in Halifax harbor. The coast was patrolled by them, and they used to accompany convoys to sea searching from on high for subs. On one occasion they flew along the coast towns from Halifax to \ armouth, bearing messages to the different mayors en route, to show what the planes could do.
THEY had three sub. chasers stationed at Halifax, and three at North Sydney. In addition to looking after American interests, this organization was entrusted with numerous duties which, otherwise, the Canadian or Imperial Governments would have had to perform. It was of tremendous service to the allied cause, as it helped to guard the vitally important port of Halifax, and coast of Nova Scotia from Hun raids, as well as performing many other valuable services. Nova Scotia became U.S. Naval Base 23, which, in war time, is always in an allied country. Captain H. K. Hines, U.S.N., arrived in Halifax May 31st, 1917, all Eastern Canada being placed under the jurisdiction. The American organization at Halifax was very large and complete, and included not only naval work, but transport, medical, and Red Cross organizations, with canteens for the troops passing through; and very charming girls from all over the United States who, in their attractive uniform, were a striking feature of the wonderful panorama which the old city presented in
war time. , . .
The people of Halifax cannot say enough that is good about the Americans. For one thing, the quickness and wonderful liberality of the aid rendered at the time of the explosion, particularly from Massachusetts, touched the heart of the people down there so deeply that the feeling they have for their American neighbors is something more than friendship.
Thousands of United States troops passed through the city, and many of them had no idea where they were, judging from the questions they used to ask.
Examining All Strange Ships ^pHE other big feature of the work at Halifax and -*• Sydney, perhaps the big feature was the examination of ships. At first the examinations of all suspicion or neutral ships was done at Kirkwall; hut later on t is work was transferred to this side, and all the necessary staff, which was very large, brought over. ^he ships to be examined were brought into Bedford Basin; some of them were there for months—so long that the men on one ship started a garden on her decks and raised flowers and vegetables. One large ship apparently could never give a satisfactory account of herself, as she was still there this spring.
Bedford Basin, which is a continuation of Halifax harbor, bpt landlocked except for a narrow passage, presented an extraordinary sight, with as many as one hundred large ships, camouflaged in wonderful futurist painting, riding there at once. It used to be a favorite expression of descriptive i writers on Halifax that “the navies of the world could ride at anchor in Bedford Basin.” Apparently they could come close to doing so, as there was still lots of room, even with the crowd of wartime ships. The assembled wealth represented was of a staggering nature, and it would have been great picking for a German sub.
Undoubtedly some interesting finds were made at the examinations conducted. Trotzky and family were removed from one ship, and after a short stay in Halifax were transferred to the internment _ camp at Amherst, N.S. They were, unfortunately, released after about a month.
Bernstorff and his party^ were held up on the Frederick VII in Bedford Basin for some days, while the ship and party underwent a most thorough search. He was particularly furious over this incident. Great quantities of contra-
Continued on page 52
Continued from page 33
band were taken off many of the ships searched, and it is said that many spies were discovered ; but, so far as is known, no one was stood up against the stone walls of the Citadel and shot.
“The search of the Frederick VII was by no means fruitless,” so one of the officers engaged told me. “The results fully justified the precautions taken. The Germans on board were carrying contraband, under the seal of the Swedish Embassy at Washington.” The incident afterwards caused great trouble between the Allies and Sweden.
Much ingenuity was shown in the conveyance of documents and valuables; and the officers searching frequently found themselves in delicate situations; but the search went on relentlessly.
Sailing of the Convoy npHE convoy system, which was perfected here, was a reminder of the days of Nelson; but it was more than a century since convoys had been seen in Canadian waters. It was a standing wonder that it was not adopted earlier in the war. Its disadvantages, of course, are apparent; the whole convoy must be largely governed by the speed of the slowest ship.
At first, they left Halifax exclusively. Later on, the store and Slower convoys w?nt from Sydney; and when the subs came on the coast, many of the troop convoys went from Quebec, and had to be met off Cap Rosier, near Gaspé, and escorted to sea. In addition, the very important ships running between Conception Bay and Sydney, supplying ore for the steel works; and coastal ships between Sydney and Halifax and Halifax and Boston, had to be convoyed.
Not only was Halifax a point of departure for ships going East; but it proved in this war to be a great rallying point for troops in great numbers from Australia, New Zealand, reservists of all the Allied nations, and for great volumes of Asiatic labor; brought across the Pacific and then across Canada. Apparently those mythical “Russian troops” never passed through Halifax on their spirit journey to the Western front. After the United States entered the war, Halifax became a busy centre for furthering the rapid transit of American troops and material. Great flotillas left the port, protected by Imperial cruisers, in some cases in cooperation with United States cruisers, containing an extraordinary assortment of nationalities. It was not uncommon for convoys to have thousands of troops from Canada, United States, Australia,
New Zealand; with many Serbians, Jews, and so forth, from the United States.
A date would be fixed for the departure of a convoy of thirty-five or more ships. Departments existed in Halifax for the co-ordination of all the individual ships; and instructions were given to those in command that they should go to sea organized as a mobile fleet, to enable them from the time of their departure until their dispersal at the different ports on the other side to act in concert on such matters as changing course, conduct in fog or ice, and the understanding of all protective measures which experience had taught as necessary. They left the Basin in single line to pass out through the harbor, at the mouth of which methods for checking the order of departure existed.
There were strict prohibitions against photography of any sort around Halifax without permission during the war. I did discover one snap-shot of a convoy proceeding to sea; but it was so small and indistinct that it would not stand reproducing.
The average convoy would have two cruisers, in some cases accompanied by United States destroyers,when they became available. Before its departure, the course was carefully swept for German “eggs,” and the hydroplanes hovered overhead, looking out for submarines. The warships took the convoy all the way across, and when it was dispersed there it was looked after by Allied cruisers.
Each ship had directions to be followed not only while with the convoy, but as to what she should do in case of parting company. All confidential literature necessary to be in the possession of the ships was brought up to date and issued to each ship concerned.
On another occasion a large convoy was preceding to sea in single line, and each ship was towing a buoy some distance astern, according to custom, to maintain distance. The sub chasers spied these suspicious things on the face of the waters, and directed a terrific fire on them from their guns, completely demolishing every “periscope” in sight. They returned back to port, perfectly satisfied with themselves; but they heard something from the other side by the first mail, when there was a howl from a line of ships’ officers who lamented the loss'of their buoys.
It is believed that none of the submarines operating off this coast were ever sunk, although I understand the United States navy has claimed one. If
they did not get it, it was not for lack of trying, at all events. From the report of Halifax alone about fifteen hundred ships with stores and materials sailed every year. Some times it would be possible for 80 or 90 ships to sail in a week, much depending on the weather, the allies’ requirements, and so forth. The organization and arrangements necessary to allow of this great volume of shipping being despatched was very great and very intricate, and never ceased, night or day. The constant movement of patrols alone in this connection proved a great task, as each departing convoy had to be surrounded by a cloud of protecting craft, whilst going to the open sea.
TheWork of the Wireless
IN 1918, the most active period of hostile submarine operation in the Western Atlantic, all the chief Canadian wireless stations were busy night and day, picking up the many reports from ships at sea of submarine attacks. These messages were forwarded to the naval centre at Halifax, so that a continuous story of the movements of hostile subs flowed in. All reports were carefully examined, and those bearing either certainty or likelihood of truth were again sent out in the form of warnings or advice for the help of convoys, or to Allied shipping in general. Should a ship, when attacked, become crippled, the fact together with her condition and exact position could be passed through a first-class Canadian wireless station to any point where the most prompt help could be secured. The fact that a very large proportion of Allied ship movement could be plotted hour after hour enabled help to be summoned to a distressed ship, and her enemies driven off. In cases where ships were sunk, and crews had to take to their beats, the wireless was invaluable.
Early in the war the advantage of the powerful wireless station at Barrington Passage became apparent. Its transmitting range, under favorable circumstances, ran up to fifteen hundred miles. Barrington was reinforced by a chain of coast stations of lesser power, but capable of passing messages w-ith great rapidity around the coast of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and into the Gulf. Cape Race also has a powerful station, and a naval station of the first class exists at St. John’s, Nfld. By the use of the chain of high power stations, the field of reception and transmission of messages can be greatly increased. Messages originating in German territory and in Paris have been frequently read in Canadian high power stations, although they were nearly always in cipher. The fact that by a recent invention the position from which a message has been sent can be measured accurately by other stations or ships increases the danger to the users.
German Mines Off the Coast
'"pHE discovery, on the Canadian coast, -I of mines which are nowadays laid by subs in a series, proved a further complication and a source of care and concern to those engaged in the work of guarding shipping. Sometimes the presence of such mines -would be first indicated by a ship striking one. In other cases a single mine would break away from its mooring wire and be found floating. The laying of connected mines would be expected off focal points on the coast, or positions where ships would he expected to draw together during the pursuit of the voyage. Very often those charged with the duty of searching for mines could, by placing themselves in the position of their enemy, judge what he would do. A likely spot for mines in the approaches to Halifax would be in the comparatively shallow -waters of Sambro banks; where, in fact, a very dangerous nest of German mines was located and removed by an intensive process of mine sweeping. At this point eight mines were found in a row.
The business of mine sweeping made great progress in this war. The sweepers would proceed out of Halifax harbor in a flotilla and, arrived at the appointed area, would assume a formation roughly on the principle that the great-
est area is to be covered, having in view the number of vessels available for the service. They decide the depth at which the first sweep is to be made. This is regulated by a mechanism attached to the wire betwen each pair of sweepers. Unless the mines are badly laid, there are no surface indications of their presence. One came up off Sambro, which led to the discovery of the others. It was found b\ the people of Sambro Island. All the mines found were of the cylindrical type usually used by subs. They were particularly dangerous in that they floated at an angle of 45 degrees, and might easily be mistaken for a log. These particular mines were found in the summer of 1918, after the oil tanker Lux Blanca was sunk.
One nest found seemed to have been laid in error. It was found off Betty Island, to the south of Halifax. It could have done no harm to sea-going ships, and was probably put down in the fog, and in a hurry.
The whole area off Halifax has now been thoroughly swept, and the naval authorities consider that there is no likelihood of many mines being left, although this will be ascertained definitely under the agreement made with the enemy that the location of all mines shall be disclosed.
Two Subs Off Our Coast
IT is thought that two subs, both of the Deutschland type, operated off our coast. They were seen many times, and were of slow speed. They had two 5.7 guns with a range of about nine miles, and in the latter days of the war many merchant ships were more heaviljr armed.
In 1918 they must have begun to think that they were getting close to winter weather and they had to go south. They made a dead set at oil ships as they knew how necessary they were. There were enormous quantities of oil shipped from Halifax, where, on the Eastern passage the Imperial Oil Company is developing one of the largest plants in America.
The expected coming of the submarines was realized when, one fine summer day, August 6th, 1918, the Lux Blanca, an American oil tanker, was sunk after a fight, in which two of her crew were killed. The Lux Blanca and another oil tanker had discharged their cargo at Halifax, and were bound for Mexico.
The day after tue destrueHor. of She Lux Blanca, a report went about Halifax that the submarine had been captured, and was being towed in by two warships with flags flying and bands playing. Thousands of people gathered on Citadel Hill to see the triumphal procession. They pictured to themselves a repetition of a similar scene, over one hundred years ago, when the British ship “Shannon” towed the American frigate “Chesapeake” up the harbor, after their memorable duel. But they waited in vain; the sub was busy elsewhere.
For the next week or ten days there was a constant stream of reports coming in of ships falling victims of the submarines. Five or six Nova Scotian vessels were torpedoed or shelled. The attitude of the sub captains varied. The one who sank the Annie M. Perry gave the captain his position and congratulated him on being only 35 miles from land, saying he had frequently driven crews into their boats 500 miles from land. The captain of one of the schooners was told not to worry, as he would have plenty of time to save the lives of the crew. But they told the captain of the Triumph that they would wipe out the whole fishing fleet.
This Halifax steam trawler, the Triumph, after being captured, was fitted up with guns and wireless by the Germans, and a crew put on board; she was then sent out raiding on the Middle Banks, off Canso, and did much havoc. On one day there were 108 destitute fishermen came into Canso, having lost their ships. But she could not scare the fishermen off the seas. One Yarmouth skipper who refused to leave the Banks, even when the submarine was busiest there, came into port with a fare of fifty thousand pounds. The captain of one of the submarines
Continued from page 58 told one of the schooner captains that he had come in so far that he saw the lights of Halifax.
That, or something else, decided the authorities that Halifax must be darkened ; and for months the people were groping about with flashlights as all street lights were out. Later, this order was amended so that street lights should have the top and outside blackened. But business was done with the blinds down in the old garrison city for a long time. It was a gloomy time, and there was constant expectation of attack from airships. When the first deafening crash of the explosion came in December of 1917, the first thought of everyone was that the airships had come at last; but no airships could have wrought the damage and death of that one fell blast.
The Land Defences of Halifax
T'HE land defences of the Port of -L Halifax were of the most vital importance. On both sides of the harbor, for miles out, are enormously strong and well-armored forts with modern guns, powerful searchlights, and all the modern scientific devices for detection and protection. As soon as war broke out, the scheme of defence, always in the hands of the officer commanding, was put in force. All Halifax units were immediately mobilized, and all those in the Maritime Provinces, including the 1st Canadian Garrison Artillery, 18 officers and 249 men; 63rd Regiment, 34 officers and 490 men; 66th Regiment, 34 officers and 490 men; 94th Cape Breton Highlanders, 32 officers and 488 men. Soon after, the P.E.I., Heavy Artillery, 6 officers and 134 men; a Composite Battalion of 24 officers and 416 men, as well as the C. E., A. S. C., and A. M. C., were ordered out.
These troops were at once sent to their war stations, where they did hard and constant service, continually asking to be sent overseas, and continually being told that they were absolutely necessary where they were. Only by going out and doing personal recruiting among their friends and relatives at home, to fill their places in the garrison, could they get away; and in this manner each regiment sent drafts overseas equalling several times the number of men in the original establishment.
On the declaration of war. one of the two entrances of the harbor was blocked by the sinking of a ship in the channel; the other entrance was protected by sinking an anti-submarine net. This defence was maintained during the continuance of the war, being raised only for the admission of properly identified ships.
Wreckages on the Coast
THERE were many wrecks in war time, particularly when the submarines were operating. It was a common thing, indeed, for ships to go on the rocks, and then claim they were torpedoed. Five ships, one of which was filled with troops, tan ashore on the coast within reach of Halifax in one morning. Several of them were foreigners. There was fog and bad weather at the time, but the situation was further complicated by the fact that they were all keeping pretty well in to get clear of the submarines, and also by the fact that the foreigners were shooting out wireless messages, many of which were unintelligible or misleading. One ship made her messages with three different ships’ signals, to the effect that three warships were ashore, and there was naturally some excitement when this reached Halifax. The troopship ashore that morning was the City of Vienna, with 1,400 men on board. She was on Sambro shoal, and two U. S. warships were called up and stood by her. The helpful Americans took the men off her before dark that night; but she became a total wreck, and is still bleaching her bones with many another around Sambro.
It is interesting to note here that, owing to the perfecting by a Canadian during the war of an invention, the germ of which has been in our marine department for thirty years, any ship may now come into Halifax by electrical guidance as easily as a car follows a trolley along the wire.