Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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

Monday

May 14 [1917]

            As we1 were proceeding to sea this morning, the Conyngham, Davis, Porter, and Wainwright stood in –2 We only had four days out and they have had six days, so I know they are tired and glad to get in for a rest. I think six days is too long a period to keep up the strain of a vigilant look-out such as is required by all hands while performing this kind of duty.3

     Received a wireless message from the Vice Admiral4 to meet and escort the “Tuscania”-5 At half past three sighted the Tuscania. The sloop Gladiolus was escorting her.6 At 4:00 pm I relieved the Gladiolus, and the Tuscania immediately increased speed from 12 to fifteen knots. The Wadsworth zig-zagged ahead of her from bow to bow at 20 knots speed – Passed through considerable wreckage and saw one boat adrift – The name “Calchas” was on the boat –7 At dusk passed through a fleet of steam trawlers with nets out.8 Ran over a couple of their nets as saw them too late to avoid it. As far as could be seen no harm was done. At 11:15 p.m. we were met by the British destroyer Peyton to which ship I turned over my convoy and started back for my patrol station –

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 in along the left margin. The date is written in that space.

Footnote 1: Taussig commanded the U.S. Navy destroyer Wainwright.

Footnote 2: The other destroyers in U.S. Destroyer Division Eight, then stationed at Queenstown, Ireland.

Footnote 3: On the demanding watch schedule, Seaman Charles Blackford wrote:

The ship kept two guns manned, which meant watch-and watch (four on and four off), until someone thought that two on and two off would be better. On that schedule, a man would hardly get to sleep before he was being called to go back on watch. We lived in a heavy-lidded daze and spent more time trying to keep awake than looking for submarines. Blackford, Torpedoboat Sailor: 77.

Footnote 4: VAdm. Lewis Bayly, RN, commander of the base at Queenstown.

Footnote 5: Tuscania, a 14,000-ton former passenger liner, had been converted into a troopship. Taussig, Queenstown Patrol: 191.

Footnote 6: H.M.S. Gladiolus was an Arabis-class minesweeping sloop. Ibid.

Footnote 7: S.S. Calchas, a defensively-armed British merchant ship, was torpedoed and sunk on 11 May near Tearaght Island, Ireland, while on a voyage from New York to Liverpool. The crew survived. “Calcas,” Uboat.net, Accessed 18 January 2017, http://uboat.net/wwi/ships_hit/1044.html.

Footnote 8: A naval trawler was similar to a fishing trawler but fitted out for military purposes. Hardy and versatile, they were widely used during the First World War, serving as mine sweepers, anti-submarine patrol craft, and net layers. The nets, usually made of steel, were deployed at the entrance of harbors or other anchorages and were designed to prevent submarines from entering those areas.

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