Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Diary of Commander Joseph K. Taussig, Commander, Destroyer Division Eight

[Extract]

Sunday

July 29

At sea.

     Again I have neglected my diary for six days. It seems impossible for me to keep it quite up to date. Somehow or other I never seem to catch up in doing what I want to do and what I ought to do.

     We arrived in Queenstown at eight o’clock Tuesday morning (the 24th) and went alongside the oiler Brumbleleaf for fuel. There were eighteen destroyers in port – the accumulation being due to the new convoy system which is now in effect. The Conyngham and seven others had just returned from escort duty; and the Wilkes and five others were just ready to go. They sailed at 6 p.m. When we finished oiling, the tug took us to No. 1 buoy where we tied up alongside the Ammen. Logan1 came on board for a visit. Did not stay long as his ship was getting ready for sea. I went on board Melville to find if there was any news. Everything seemed quiet. Only a few ships had been sunk in our neighborhood, but I heard that 21 had been sunk altogether during the past week. My best shoe still hurt my sore foot,2 so I did not go ashore, but contented myself with reading my mail. Several letters from Lulie,3 Mother and Father as late as July 7th, and newspaper as late as the 9th. 

On Wednesday (25th) I made the usual 10 a.m. visit to Admiral Bayly.4 Found Johnson5 there also. I was informed that my “squadron” of eight destroyers were to sail at 8:30 a.m. July 27th and proceed to rendezvous at sea where we were to escort to the Smalls. I did not relish the job.

. . . .Friday morning (27th) at 3 a.m. the Wadsworth, Trippe, and Walke proceeded to sea. Starting at 3 a.m. is worse than spending all night at sea, so I count this night as one at sea and consider we missed a night in port that was coming to us. The tide was running ebb, but as there was no wind it was not difficult to turn the Wadsworth around in the narrow channel. The ships of my “squadron” at Berehaven sailed at 8 a.m. They are the McDougal, Shaw, Ericsson, Wainwright, and Jacob Jones.

When a little while out the Walke reported that one turbine was rubbing6 and that he was returning to port. Received word by wireless that the Porter was detailed to take Walke’s place. Friday was uneventful excepting for sighting a submarine which was on the surface only a few minutes after Broadbent saw it.

Saturday (28th) it was rainy, and the visibility was poor until about 11 a.m. when it cleared off. At half past one we sighted the smoke of our convoy and at half past two the eight destroyers had joined and I signaled the Adventure that I would take over. The Adventure immediately started for Queenstown.

The nineteen vessels of the convoy were in five columns and cover considerable area. The “Commodore,” a Captain of the R.N.R. [Royal Navy Reserve], is in command. He is on the Tennyson-the leading ship of the middle column. The destroyers have been assigned positions as shown in the sketch below:

McDougal                 Porter                  Ericsson

Wainwright               Convoy of 19                Shaw

                         merchant ships

Jacob Jones                                        Trippe

Wadsworth

It was my intention at first to take center position ahead of formation, but changed my mind and took rear position as shown. This permits me to view the whole formation, and enables me to go where I please and at the same time only leaving the rear uncovered.

I went close enough to the Tennyson to heave a letter aboard. Later went back and received a letter from the Commodore. Signaled several ships to “Please Close Up,” and signaled several ships orders changing their destination. The ships are spread out more than I would like to see, but I suppose this will have to be expected until they have more practice at it. They are steaming at 8.5 knots (the speed of the slowest) and from the time we joined until 9 a.m. today we have only averaged 7.7 knots made good. The night was uneventful. The weather clear, wind light. The merchant ships show stern lights. It would be better if they would get along without them. It is now 1 p.m. Sunday-I will be glad when the bunch is through the danger zone and we are at the Smalls, where they will disperse and the destroyers return to port.

Source Note: D, RNW, Joseph K. Taussig Papers, Mss. Coll. 97. The diary is written on ruled paper with a vertical line one inch in along the left margin. The place and date is written in that space. It is sometimes repeated when the diary entry continues on second and third pages.

Footnote 1: Lt. (j. g.) George C. Logan, Commander, Ammen.

Footnote 2: For more on Taussig’s injury, see: Diary of Joseph K. Taussig, 16 July 1917.

Footnote 3: Taussig’s wife, Lulie Johnston Taussig.

Footnote 4: VAdm. Sir Lewis Bayly, Commander, Southern Ireland.

Footnote 5: Lt. Cmdr. Alfred W. Johnson, Commander, Conyngham.

Footnote 6: The turbine blades were scraping against their housing. Taussig, Queenstown Patrol: 85.

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