A SUCCESSFUL TRAP-
ON November 29, 1916, one of the smallest ships that took part in the war of 1914-
The vessel was the Q-
On the morning of November 29, the Penshurst was steaming at 8 knots to the south-
The first shell dropped sixty yards short, but the second passed over the Penshurst’s mainmast. The range was five miles, but the light so bad that Captain Grenfell could not see if the submarine was approaching. To lure the German nearer, the Penshurst altered course at 8 a.m. to the north-
It was now time for some of the Penshurst’s crew to carry out the pretended abandonment and “panic”. Boats were being turned out and lowered with all possible clumsiness, to waste time, enabling the submarine to get within 3,000 yards and turn on a course parallel with the Q-
The Penshurst loosed off two rounds from the 12-
At noon the next day, in mid-
Aid from the Air
First, Grenfell spoke to the seaplane and explained what his ship was. The seaplane alighted alongside. It was arranged that the air pilot should guide the ship to the spot by dropping a signal-
The steamer lowered her gig and picked up the men, then she got alongside the wreckage, grappled it and was about to swing it inboard with her derrick when shells began falling round. On the port quarter some 6,000 yards away a submarine was on the surface.
Captain Grenfell stopped all salvage work, let the seaplane go, swung in his derrick, and made ready to fight. The gig was towed along the starboard side of the Penshurst, in the hope that the submarine would not see it, and the Q-
The submarine held on, firing occasionally and overhauling her prey, but still on the surface. When nearly in the position that the Ibex had indicated, the time and place were fit for final conflict. The Penshurst stopped her engines, the “panic party” rowed off in two boatloads to starboard, but the fighting men remained ready, hidden and expectant. Captain Grenfell watched his rival swerve out to port, motor round the steamer’s stern and approach the boats to get the ship’s papers from the captain.
SUNK BY A SUBMARINE IN FEBRUARY 1917. The steel barque Invercauld (1,416 registered tons) was nearing the end of an Atlantic crossing when she was torpedoed and sunk by U 84 about 22 miles south-
There was a wait of less than a quarter of an hour. The submarine had reached the Penshurst’s starboard quarter, and was only about 250 yards distant. So satisfied and unsuspecting was the enemy that no one stood by her 8.8-
With every gun bearing, the Penshurst opened fire and continued to fire at maximum speed. The second shot from the starboard 3-
This submarine was UB 19, 118½ feet long, nearly 15 feet beam, carrying four torpedoes, one gun, one machine-
In Action at Short Range
Five minutes passed, only 3,000 yards separated them, and Gunther opened fire, the shell falling short. After the usual “abandon ship” tactics the Penshurst waited, and the enemy closed until at 700 yards he stopped off the steamer’s starboard bow, broadside on. He then began firing, striking the Q-
At first Captain Grenfell estimated that Gunther was going round to the boats on the port quarter, and there would be a chance of fighting the German at short range; but that estimate had to be revised and the action begun at once.
The White Ensign was run up at 4.24 p.m. The Penshurst with the first shot from her 12-
THE TIMELY ARRIVAL of H.M.S. Leonidas, a destroyer of the L class, saved the Penshurst during an engagement with an enemy submarine. On August 19, 1917, the Q-
Only a few weeks after the UB 37 incident, the Penshurst was in the western approaches of the English Channel. On February 20, 1917, at 12.36 p.m., a submarine rose to the surface and began shelling. Half an hour later the Penshurst replied and hit the enemy's hull above the water-
Two days after meeting with this stranger, the Penshurst was off the south Irish coast steaming on a westerly course, some time before noon. Shortly before daylight that day the steel barque Invercauld (1,416 registered tons) was coming eastward from across the Atlantic and had only 120 more miles to travel before reaching port. She was about twenty-
The wind was northerly and light. All sail had been set, but the Invercauld was not doing more than 2½ knots. The submarine had no difficulty in approaching and shelling. She fired a torpedo which blew 150 feet out of the Invercauld's side. The barque turned turtle, and the last her captain saw of her was the keel pointing to the sky. The boats got away before she capsized, but the cook (who had gone back to fetch some ham that was being fried) was blown through the galley door and over the ship's side, though he was picked up later, unhurt. The captain (who went below to save his chronometers) also had a narrow escape. In his boat was a man with a broken leg and a terrible gash in his head, as well as other injuries. “We had great difficulty,” relates the Invercauld’s captain, “in being able to pull at all with him laid across the thwarts.”
Famous Barque Destroyed
At 11.34 a.m. the Penshurst noticed that a submarine was steering west in the same direction as herself. Captain Grenfell made towards her at top speed but could not get near. And no wonder, since she was the modern U 84 (Lieut. Commander Rohr) with a surface speed of 16½ knots, twice that of her pursuer. Measuring 230 feet long, armed with one 4.1-
Eight miles off could be seen H.M.S. Alyssum (one of the Queenstown “Flower” class sloops) escorting the large four-
Just after one o’clock the German was within 3,500 yards and began firing. The Penshurst’s panic party “abandoned” ship. At 1,500 yards the German submerged and made a thorough periscope inspection of the supposed coaster; but no one showed on board.
Rohr brought his vessel to the surface again and lay only 600 yards off the Penshurst’s port quarter. The only thing that remained was to order the steamer’s captain alongside with his papers and destroy the ship. An officer hailed the boat near him, but the British petty officer in charge of the boat knew what to do and (to gain time) pretended not to understand. The order was repeated. He answered that he was bringing the boat round by U 84’s stern: the secret intention was to give Captain Grenfell a clear range.
MORE THAN ONE ENEMY SUBMARINE WAS SUNK BY THE Q-
The boat’s crew had scarcely rowed more than three strokes when the Penshurst ran up the White Ensign and opened fire. The conning-
Had this been one of the Flanders eight-
By motoring always on the surface, keeping well out to sea during daylight, passing headlands by night, and generally avoiding our patrols, Rohr took U 84 back to Germany. There she received extensive repairs, and eventually Rohr took her back to the Irish area. Less than a year later — on January 26, 1918 — U 84 met her fate.
Torpedo and Gunnery Duel
After her indecisive struggle with U 84 the Penshurst had only a month to wait before taking part in another tussle. This time the scene was the eastern end of the English Channel, and again neither side was victorious. Q-
This time not only did the Penshurst fail to sink the enemy, but she also was so seriously maimed that she had to be towed the following day into Portsmouth. The strain of the trying months had begun to tell, Captain Grenfell was invalided ashore, and by the time the ship had completed her refit a new commanding officer had been appointed. This was Lieut. Cedric Naylor, R.N.R.. who, as Captain Grenfell’s second-
On the afternoon of July 2, 1917, in the western approaches to the English Channel, an enemy just missed torpedoing the Penshurst by about 10 feet. Afterwards there was a gunnery duel for half an hour, and the Q-
ONE OF THE PENSHURST’S 12-
A much more complicated and trying experience came the following August, also in the western approaches. In the the late afternoon of August 19 the Penshurst saw an enemy submarine six miles away crossing her bows, evidently getting into position for attack. The U-
The torpedo made a glancing blow just below the bridge. The explosion that followed sent a huge volume of water into the air, and flooded the upper and lower bridges as well as the after deck. With so much water on board the ship took a heavy list to starboard.
In addition. No. 2 hold had been penetrated, the starboard side of the lower bridge Was stripped, and the 12-
In spite of what had happened, within fourteen minutes of the explosion the steering gear had been connected up with the steering engine, the wireless repaired, a general signal for assistance sent out to H.M. ships and the Penshurst was steaming ahead prepared to fight.
At 6.5 p.m. the submarine again appeared. The range came down to 5,000 yards, and after a quarter of an hour the mystery ship opened fire with all guns from the port side. It seemed as if the enemy had been hit, for at the end of three minutes he dived. A period of suspense followed.
In the Penshurst the steering again went wrong. She got out of control and steamed round in circles. Shortly before 7 p.m. H.M.S. Leonidas (a destroyer) wirelessed to say she would reach the Penshurst at 7.30. It seemed unlikely that the Q-
The Last Encounter
At 7.26 the Leonidas came in sight, and the submarine dived and went into safer waters. Help had come, but it became advisable to place on board the destroyer every man who could be spared. The Penshurst trudged along in the direction of Plymouth, while the pumps just managed to keep her from sinking during the night and following forenoon. From the Scillies Naval Base a tug and two armed trawlers had been sent out, and at 1.30 p.m. the Penshurst was taken in tow. On August 21 the Penshurst arrived in Plymouth Sound.
The next time she went to sea, still commanded by Lieut. Naylor, she was armed with a 4-
The arrival of a P-
A RAILWAY STEAMER INVOLVED. On November 30, 1916, the Ibex, a cross-