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قراءة كتاب The Boy Allies at Jutland; Or, The Greatest Naval Battle of History

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‏اللغة: English
The Boy Allies at Jutland; Or, The Greatest Naval Battle of History

The Boy Allies at Jutland; Or, The Greatest Naval Battle of History

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 3

the fortress. And some day, the world knew, when all other ways had failed, this great fleet would steam forth to give battle to the British, in a last effort of the German Emperor to turn the tide in his favor; and while, in the allied nations at least, there was no doubt of the ultimate outcome of such a struggle, it was realized that the German fleet would give a good account of itself when it did venture forth.

Therefore, it was considered just as well that the British keep the German high sea fleet bottled up and give it no chance to reach the open, where, although the greater part might be sent to the bottom, some vessels might escape and embark upon a cruise of commerce warfare. This bloodless victory, it was pointed out, was of just as great value to Great Britain as if all the German ships of war had been at the bottom of the North Sea. Bottled up as they were, they were just as ineffective.

This was the situation, then, when the Queen Mary, with Jack and Frank aboard, steamed down the Thames and out into the North Sea to take up again her patrol of those waters; and there was nothing to warn those on board of the great battle that even now was impending and that was to result disastrously for Great Britain, even though the Germans were to suffer no less.

Mess over, Frank and Jack made their way to their own quarters amidships. Here they sat down and for some time talked over the events of the days gone by.

"I guess there will be nothing for us to do this night," said Frank at last. "We may as well turn in."

"I am afraid there will be nothing for us to do for some time to come," was Jack's reply. "I am afraid it will be rather monotonous sailing about the North Sea looking for German warships, when the latter are afraid to come out and fight."

"Well, you can't tell," said Frank. "However, that's one beauty of a submarine. You don't have to wait around for something to happen. You can go out and make it happen."

"That's so. But, by Jove! I wish these fellows would come out and fight! Maybe we could put an end to this war real quickly."

"Yes, but we might not," returned Frank.

"Why, don't you think we can thrash them?"

"I suppose we can; but at the same time they can do a lot of damage. Besides, some of them have come out. We've sunk some, of course, but the others have returned safely enough. I can't see any excuse for that."

"It does seem that they should have been caught," Jack agreed, "but I guess Admiral Jellicoe, Admiral Beatty and the admiralty know what is going on."

"Sometimes it doesn't look like it," declared Frank. "I suppose there are still some of these German submarines scooting about almost under our feet."

"I suppose so. However, ordinarily, as you know, they won't attack a battleship. It's too risky. If they miss with the first torpedo, the chances are they will be sunk."

"Well, we sunk a few," said Frank.

"I know we did; but we took long chances."

"The Germans take long chances, too."

"You must have a little German blood in you, Frank," said Jack, with a smile. "If I didn't know you better, I would think you were sticking up for them."

"No, I'm not sticking up for them; but they do things we seem to be afraid to do. To my way of thinking, we should have gone and cleaned up Heligoland a long time ago."

"By Jove! You want the enemy to win this war quickly, don't you?"

"No, but——"

"Come, now. You know very well what would have happened if we had tried to take a fleet into Heligoland. They would have blown us out of the water."

"Well, such things have been done," grumbled Frank. "I can tell you a couple of cases. At Mobile Bay——"

"Oh, I've heard all that before. But conditions now are absolutely different. What was done fifty years ago can't be done today."

"They aren't being done, that much is sure," replied Frank. "But this argument is not doing us any good. Me for a little sleep."

"I'm with you," said Jack.

And half an hour later, as the Queen Mary still steamed due east,
Frank and Jack slept.

Above, the third officer held the bridge. The great searchlight forward lighted the water for some distance ahead, and aft a second light cast its powerful rays first to port and then to starboard. There was not another vessel in sight.

Farther to the east, other British battleships patrolled the sea, their lights also flashing back and forth. It would be a bold enemy who would venture to run that blockade; and yet, in spite of this, the strictest watch was maintained. For the fact still remained fresh in the minds of the British that upon two occasions the Germans had run the British blockade; and both times the failure of the British to intercept them had resulted in heavy loss of life on the coast, where the German warships had shelled unfortified towns—against all rules of civilized warfare—killing thousands of helpless men, women and children.

It was against some such similar attack that the British warships were patrolling every mile of water. The British coast must be protected. No more German raiders must be allowed to slip through and bombard undefended coast towns.

Also, strict watch was kept aloft. For almost nightly now, huge German Zeppelins were sailing across the sea and dropping bombs upon the coast of Kent, upon Dover, and close even to London itself. It was feared that one of these monsters of the air might swoop down upon the battleships and, with a well directed bomb, send the vessel to the bottom of the sea.

All British war vessels were equipped with anti-aircraft guns and these were ever loaded and ready for action; for there was no telling what moment they might be called into use to repel a foe. Upon several occasions attacks of the Zeppelins had been beaten off with these guns, though, up to date, none had been brought down.

But now there had been perfected a new anti-aircraft gun. With this it was believed that the battleship stood a good chance of bringing down a Zeppelin should it venture near enough.

With such a gun the Queen Mary had been equipped as she was overhauled in dry dock. With this gun went four men. One to stand by the gun at night and keep watch of the sky and a second to do duty in the day time. The other two men stood relief watches and were of additional need should one of the first men be injured, taken sick or killed.

And so it was that, as the Queen Mary continued on her way, one of these men stood by his gun just aft of the bridge, watching the sky. Nor did he shirk his task.

Almost continuously his eye swept the dark heavens, following, as well as he could, in the path of one or the other of the searchlights. He used powerful night glasses for this purpose. Suddenly he gave a start. He looked closely again through his glasses. Then he uttered a cry of alarm.

The third officer, on the bridge, gave an exclamation.

"What do you see?" he demanded.

"Zeppelin," was the reply. "Douse the light aft. Have the man forward see if he can pick up the craft with his flash. About two points east by north."

There came sharp commands aboard the Queen Mary.



A bell tinkled in the engine room of the Queen Mary. The ship slowed down. Captain Raleigh had been called by the third