["The Syren and Shipping offers £500 to the captain, officers and crew of the first British merchant vessel which succeeds in sinking a German submarine."—The Times.]
In order to assist captains of merchant ships to deal with raiding submarines, a few suggestions and comments, which it is hoped will be helpful, are offered by our Naval Expert.
In the absence of a 4.7 naval gun, a provision suggested as useful by a writer in The Times, any 13-inch shells that you happen to have on board might be hoisted over the side, disguised as bunches of bananas, and dropped on to the offending submarine. If this does not sink her at once, additional bunches should be dropped.
But before disposing of your shells be sure that your submarine is close alongside. In case she should hold off, let the first mate beckon to her, in a manner as nonchalant as possible, to come closer.
When the enemy boards your ship, the captain should endeavour to interest the boarding party with the latest war news from German bulletins, whilst the bo’sun, the second steward and the stewardess, with the aid of peashooters, pour liquid explosive down the submarine’s periscope.
If you are fortunate enough to have on board one of those trained sea lions which have been showing for somo years at the music-halls, you need not trouble to practise the subterfuges given above. On the enemy’s submarine making her appearance on the starboard side you should lower your sea lion over the port side, preferably near the stern, having previously attached to it a bomb connected with wires to a battery. When the sea lion is close to the submarine just press the button. Possibly you will lose your pet, but the general result should be satisfactory.
Owing to unavoidable circumstances you may not be able to put into practice any of these hints. If that be so, when the enemy comes aboard, work up a heated discussion on the origin of the War. If skilfully managed, you should draw into the discussion the entire company of the submarine, with the result that you will make time and possibly be got out of your difficulty by one of our patrol ships.
Should all and every one of these expedients be useless, as a forlorn hope you should read aloud the appropriate clauses of the Hague Convention, and at the same time take the names and addresses of the boarding party for future reference.
If you have an amateur photographer aboard, let him get going. The payment made by illustrated papers for pictures that reproduce the sinking of your ship will probably exceed the value of the ship, so that in any case your owners will not lose by the deal.
But it is always best, where possible, to sink the submarine.
From Punch, 10th February 1915.