Commander Charles P. Nelson, Commander, Submarine Chaser Detachment Two, to Staff of Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters
Action Copy File No.25-6-6
Cablegram Received October 8 1918. Y-3
Origin Chasnav, Corfu Serial No.236
Ref’d to O-4 Oct. 8 RHL Summary, repeated to Opnav.
236 URGENT In obedience orders Commodore commanding British Adriatic Sea Force1 proceeded Brindisi with Units B.D.G. and H. Took Lieutenant Commander Bastedo with me as second in command2 On 2nd October left Brindisi 013013 for Durrazo3 with 11 chasers, 244 having fouled her propeller. Object of Expedition was demonstration against Durrazo. Original plan contemplated complete rezeing [i.e., razing] so as to render Durrazo untenable for sometime to come as understand that Base for Austrian Army. After bombardment by major ships and aeroplanes the dewstoyerswere to have engaged batteries while chasersand MONTOSCAFIS entered harbor and destroyed all military material. Plan changed at last minute to demonstration-------.4 Main force engaged in bombardment consisted of Italian ships SAN GIORGIO PISA SAN MARCO british light cruisers LOWESTOFT DARTMOUTH WEYMOUTH. Both forces escorted by destroyers and torpedo boats. Screening Force to Northward consisting 1 Italian Battleship 1 Battle Cruiser and 6 flotilla leaders 2 British light cruisers and 4 destroyers, also British, French and Italian submarines. Duty assigned chasers screening bombarding squadrons in shore and off shore against submarine attacks also to Northward and Southward of of engaged area patrolling for submarines and preventing of escape of vessels in Durrazo harbor.
Operations strategically successful. No casualties to personnel or materila [i.e., material] of chasers who behaved splendidly under fire. 2 out of 3 submarines sighted by unit B sunk.5 This unit was operating off Cape Pali under command of Bastedo the third apparently torpedoed Weymouth as she was hit in stern by a torpedo.6 Chasers screened Weymouth on return to Brindisi. After submarine operations Unit B proceeded to intercept and capture Austrian hospital ship Baron Call attem pting to escape northward found British destroyer had already placed armed guard on board so formed port escort to Brindisi where she was released by orders Commander-in-Chief.7 Wish to specially commend Bastedo and officers and men of Unit B for the efficient and snappy way in which the second attack on the second destroyed submarine were conducted as detailed written report will show.
Also commendation for initiative and zeal John Fabris Machinist’s Mate 1st class USNRF on 179 who held in place with his hand the broken trip rod ignitor spring on the center engine during whole engagement and thus enabled vessel to maintain her speed and position. Further commend Ensign Henry R. Dann, USNRF, temporarily in command of 130 for his prompt action and sound judgment in placing his vessel in the line of advance of 4 destroyers running speed 30 knots straight on floating mines which he had sighted. One of these he had sunk by gunfire before destroyer approached.8 His promp[t] action in screening remaining mines forced destroyers to sheer clear.
Consider attitude whole personnel first time under fire a credit to the service and their spirit has been made the subject of special comment of British and Italian Official Communications 043007 236
Time sent: 6.00 A.M. October 7
Time Rec’d 1:13 A.M. October 8.
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 414.
Footnote 1: Commo. William A. H. Kelly.
Footnote 2: Lt. Cmdr. Paul H. Bastedo.
Footnote 3: Durazzo is the Italian name for Durrës, Albania.
Footnote 4: The decision to alter the mission was harshly criticized.
Footnote 5: No submarines were sunk at Durazzo.
Footnote 6: For a picture showing the damage done toWeymouth, see: October illustrations.
Footnote 7: VAdm. Visconti Lorenzo Cusani.
Footnote 8: See: War Diary, Submarine Chaser Detachment Two, 2 October 1918.