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


May 15 [1917]

At sea

     At eight o’clock this morning sighted a steamer which turned out to be the Manchester Port from Philadelphia for Liverpool, loaded with ammunition. Escorted her until 2:45 p.m. when was relieved by the sloop Poppy.1 This escorting of ammunition ship is not a pleasant occupation because if they are hit by a torpedo and the cargo explodes, it is hard to tell what would happen to the cargo escort. While returning to our patrol station spoke the Uruguayan steamer Maldonado bound for Queenstown- She looked very suspicious to me as her lines seemed very fine for a merchant ship. However I decided to let her go on unattended. This turned out to be one of the British Special Service ships. They undoubtedly enjoyed the experience.2 About eight o’clock we went to general quarters when a lookout reported a periscope. It turned out to be a floating spar- Received a wireless from the Vice Admiral3 to meet the Orduña in Latitude 52°40' North and Longitude 15° W, at three o’clock to-morrow and to escort her to Latitude 53° N., in the Irish sea-4 The wind has been increasing all day and the sea coming up with it. It is from the S.Eastward, and does not interfere with us so long as it is not forward of our beam. While doing this patrol duty we cannot keep it the way we want it.

Source Note: D, RNW, Joseph K. Taussig Papers, Mss. Coll. 97, Naval Historical Collection. The diary is written on ruled paper with a vertical line one inch along the left margin. The date is written in that space. It is usually repeated when the diary entry continues on a second and third page, but not for this entry.

Footnote 1: H.M.S. Poppy was a sloop of the Acacia class. It had a top speed of 17 knots and were armed with two 4-inch guns or two 12-pounders and depth charges.

Footnote 2: The preceding two sentences were written in the margin and undoubtedly added later. The place in the text where they were headed is indicated by a line from the margin to the location in the text ending with the word “Note,” which is written in small letters and at a 45° angle. The British Special Service vessels, or Q boats, were decoys, heavily armed and manned by a Royal Navy crew and intended to destroy U-boats should a German submarine be lured into attacking them. Taussig later met the captain of the Maldonado at Queenstown. Taussig, “Destroyer Experiences,” January, 1923: 64.

Footnote 3: VAdm. Lewis Bayly, the commander at Queenstown.

Footnote 4: Orduña was a passenger liner that during the war was requisitioned into service by the Royal Navy as an auxiliary cruiser and troop transport. It made regular runs between Halifax, Canada, and Liverpool, England. For more on Wadsworth’s escorting of S.S. Orduña, see: Taussig’s diary entry of 17 May 1917.