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War Diary of U.S.S. Aylwin


     At 8:30 A.M. got underway from Portsmouth Dock Yard, proceeded to St. Helen’s and anchored. The Trawler ANDREW KING came alongside, and Lieut.Wilson, R.N.,1 came aboard and consulted with the Captain2 as to method of procedure in conducting patrol. Two trawlers – ANDREW KING and JAMES BENTOLE, fitted with listening gear, were to operate with the Aylwin, hunting for enemy submarines. The trawlers were to cruise in line ahead of the Aylwin, all vessels stopping at pre-arranged intervals to listen on their various devices. In the event of the presence of a sub being detected by the trawlers, the Aylwin was to act as supporting ship and close immediately, using her listening gear to detect the exact location, and endeavor to destroy the sub by bombing. The tactics to be employed and signals to be used were agreed upon by Lieut. Wilson and the commanding officer of the Aylwin.3 Just as we were to get underway the following message was received: “DIVISION 1 and U.S.S.Aylwin proceed with all dispatch to position 4 miles south of Dungeness where you will receive orders from V.A. Dover,4 report probable time of arrival”. Got underway at 11:30 A.M., followed the ANDREW KING and JAMES BENTOLE in line ahead out through the swept channel to Dunnose Point, then followed zig-zagging at 15 knots, at dark reduced speed to 12 knots. At 5:20 P.M. ANDREW KING reported probable time of arrival at rendezvous as 9:30 P.M. At 7:30 took position in line ahead behind trawlers and proceeded until 9 P.M. when Aylwin and trawlers stopped and drifted. At 12 midnight received message that submarine had been destroyed, and orders from C-inC Portsmouth5 to proceed to patrol area “B”. Remained drifting, listening in on oscillators for enemy submarines.

Source Note: D, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B, Destroyer Ships Files: Aylwin. The diary entry for the following day continues the description of this testing mission; see: War Diary of U.S.S. Aylwin, 5 February 1918. For more on the mission, see: William S. Sims to Lewis Bayly, 31 January 1918. However, in a cable to Capt. Joel R. Poinsett Pringle, Sims chided Pringle for reporting that Aylwin was away from Queenstown “conducting experiments.” Sims wrote: “Aylwin is not conducting experiments, but is engaged in submarine hunting.” Sims to Pringle, 22 February 1918, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B, Destroyer Ships Files: Aylwin.

Footnote 1: Lt. Alexander G. B. Wilson.

Footnote 2: Capt. Richard H. Leigh, Assistant Chief, Board of Steam Engineering, and an expert on listening devices. On 11 February Leigh submitted a report on the “Fessenden Oscillator” installed aboard Alywin. Leigh to Sims, 11 February 1918, Ibid.

Footnote 3: Lt. Cmdr. David McDougal LeBreton.

Footnote 4: VAdm. Sir Reginald H.S. Bacon, R.N., commander of the Dover Patrol.

Footnote 5: RAdm. Charles L. Vaughn-Lee.