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Diary of Commander Joseph K. Taussig


Oct. 23


     At 10 o’clock Sunday night went to sea and reached the reported position of submarine a little after daylight. Remained in vicinity until noon Monday we stood to the south eastward for a position where another submarine had been sighted. Saw two trawlers, a dirigible air ship, an airplane, and a patrol yacht- but nary sign of a submarine. At 4 o’clock received wireless message for Wadsworth and Walke to return to Queenstown. My first inclination was to proceed at 23 knots and get in at midnight, but I changed my mind and slowed to 15 knots and got the view of the Irish Coast. Arrived Queenstown at 7:30 this morning. Walke came in a half hour later. Russell and I went to see the Admiral1 I was informed that we would proceed to sea early tomorrow morning & escort an outbound convoy and then push up a home bound one from Dakar. The Wadsworth is taking the place of the Cushing as that vessel had to go in dry dock on account of striking a mooring buoy with one of her propellers.

     Returned on board ship for lunch. Found a mail with letters from Lulie, Mother, and Father as late as Oct. 1st.2 Wrote my memorandum operation order for my escort squadron and went ashore. At the yacht club met Commander Grubb, R.N., Johnson, Vernou and Hutchins.3 Although I had an invitation to the Admiralty House for tea, I just went with Grubb to his house and met Mrs. Grubb and their eight year old daughter. I then went to the Admiralty House and had tea with Miss Voysey, Admiral Bayly, Pringle, Fairfield, Daniels and Fremont.4

     The British Admiralty have stated their readiness to turn over a special service ship to the Americans, and a crew is to be formed for it from those who volunteer on the destroyers. I do not care for the duty and will not volunteer, but I have no doubt there will be plenty of officers who want the job. I understand that Hanrahan has asked to command her, and I suppose he will be assigned.5 No officers on the Wadsworth volunteered, but about 40 men asked to go. The crew of the special service ship will probably be made up of about 2 men from each destroyer, so the whole flotilla will be represented. The submarines are now very wary about attacking steamers with gun fire as they fear they might be special service ships. They usually put a torpedo into them without warning. It then depends on how bad the special service ship is damaged and what the sub does in the way of exposing himself whether or not the S.S. has a chance to destroy the submarine. Two special service ships – the Vala and Begonia have recently been sunk and nothing heard from any of her crews.6 I had dinner on board the Wadsworth and remained on board.

Source Note: D, RNW, Joseph K. Taussig Papers, Mss. Coll. 97, Naval Historical Collection.

Footnote 1: Lt. Cmdr. Charles F. Russel and Adm. Sir Lewis Bayly, R.N., Commander, Southern Ireland.

Footnote 2: Lulie was Taussig’s wife.

Footnote 3: Cmdr. Reginald W. Grubb, R.N., Cmdr. Alfred W. Johnson, Cmdr. Walter N. Vernou, and Lt. Cmdr. Charles T. Hutchins Jr.

Footnote 4: Violet Voysey, Adm. Bayly’s neice, Capt. Joel R. Poinsett Pringle, Senior Officer Present, Destroyer Flotilla, Lt. Cmdr. Arthur P. Fairfield, Lt. Cmdr. Joseph F. Daniels and Lt. Cmdr. John C. Fremont.

Footnote 5: Cmdr. David C. Hanrahan ended up commanding the special service ship, S.S. Arvonian, which was renamed U.S.S. Santee. E. Keble Chatterton, Q-Ships and Their Story (London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 1922), 231-2.


Footnote 6: Vala was struck and sunk by U-54 on 20 August 1917, and Begonia was sunk off Casablanca after colliding with a German U-boat on 6 October 1917. “Vala,”, Accessed on 16 October 1917,; and Paul Oldfield, Victoria Crosses on the Western Front: 1917 to Third Ypres: 27 January- 27 July 1917 (Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Military, 2016), 427.