Skip to main content

Commodore Guy R. Gaunt, British Naval Attaché, Washington, D.C., to British Admiralty

[late May 1917]

60.  Following from Commodore Gaunt.

     The Scientific Commission1 which is investigating the method of combating submarines has asked me following question  I will be glad of as early and (?group omitted)2 an answer as possible.3

1.   Has any method been tried of placing (?listening) devices in quantity at bottom of North Sea?

2.   Has any workable magnetic detector been developed?

3.   Has a mine been developed for use in large numbers which is dangerous to submarines and not to surface craft?

4.   How effective are seaplanes as offensive instruments against submarine both for detection and offensive?

5.   Can you introduce us status Braggs Scientific Sound devices?4

6.   What is most effective method of destroying a submerged submarine once it is discovered?

7.   Do Germans use non magnetic steel in submarine construction?

Source Note: D, Uk-KeNa, Adm. 137/655. The document is undated. The editors believe it was sent in late May 1917 based on the questions asked and its location in Adm. 137/655. Following the document is a routing list which reads:”1.S.L./D.O.D./D.A.S.D.” In order that is: First Sea Lord Adm. Sir John R. Jellicoe; Director of Operations Division RAdm. Thomas Jackson; Director of Anti-Submarine Division RAdm. Alexander L. Duff.

Footnote 1: This was presumably the “Special Board on Anti-Submarine Devices,” which was headquartered at New London, CT, and was composed of scientists from the Naval Consulting Board and U.S. Navy officers. Daniels, Years of War and After: 136.

Footnote 2: This construction means that a portion of the code was missing. On another occasion in the document the decoder posited what the word might be even though the coding was garbled or missing.

Footnote 3: No response has been found.

Footnote 4: Lawrence Bragg, a lieutenant in the Royal Horse Artillery who shared a Nobel Prize in Physics with his father, developed methods for pinpointing the position of enemy artillery by sound-ranging, which is by recording the sound of their firing with an array of microphones and thereby calculating their location. William Van der Kloot, “Lawrence Bragg’s Role in the Development of Sound-Ranging in World War I,” Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science 59, issue 3 (2005), 273-84.

Related Content