Page 3507

3507 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.

looking object. She, too, presently received a death wound, and joined her

consorts at the bottom of the North Sea.

Surmising that other British boats would

quickly appear upon the scene, drawn

thither by wireless messages. Lieutenant

Weddigen turned homeward, leaving the

drowning British crews struggling in the

water. He was pursued by destroyers,

but ultimately escaped.

By this day's disaster the British navy

was diminished by 36,000 tons and 1,450

men. The loss of life was the most serious

aspect of the matter, as the ships were

old and not strictly up to date, and, being

cruisers, had never been designed to take

a place in the line of battle. The blow

notwithstanding was a distressing one

to the British, and brought home to them

that even their enormous navy must act

with circumspection.

It was realized that the disaster had

been greater because two of the cruisers

had gone to the assistance of the one

that was first struck. And it was ordered

that henceforth, when one vessel should

be torpedoed, those about her must leave

her to her fate and look to their own safety.

The exploit made Lieutenant Weddigen

one of the heroes of Germany. The Iron

Cross of the first and second classes was

conferred upon him by the Kaiser, and

that of the second class upon all of his

crew, for the victory in this battle of David

with the Giants. This was not Lieutenant Weddigen's last exploit, but a

few months later he set out on a cruise

from which he and his new vessel, the U-29,

did not return. In June, 1915, the German Government reported that the U-29

had been rammed and sunk by a British

tank steamer flying the Swedish flag, but

this the British denied. They issued a

statement that the vessel had been sunk

by "one of his Majesty's ships." The place

and the circumstance long remained the

secret of the British Admiralty and of the

silent deep.

After the war it became publicly known

that, in March, 1915, Weddigen, in the

U-29, attacked the British Grand Fleet

off" Cromarty, Scotland. He dove under

the destroyer screen and fired a torpedo,

which passed astern of the battleship

Neptune. The alarm was given, and the

battleship Dreadnought, having seen the

periscope of the U-boat, promptly rammed

her and sent her to the bottom. As the

submarine sank her bow rose in the air,

plainly disclosing the number "U-29."

There was not a single survivor. Weddigen had failed in his bold attempt, and

every other German submarine commander

who made a similar attempt failed. Not a

single Allied dreadnought was sent to the

bottom by a torpedo during the entire war.

Submarine warfare was, in fact, exceedingly hazardous and disagreeable work for

the U-boat crews. The hardships of such

service were thus summarized by Captain

Persius, a leading German naval critic, in

an article that appeared in the Berliner

Tageblatt:

"A seaman's lot is never easy. Night

and day he is separated from a watery

grave only by a thin plank. And yet his