Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12
Part 13
Part 14
Part 15
Part 16
Part 17
Part 18
Part 19
Part 20
Part 21
Part 22
Part 23
Part 24
Part 25
Part 26
Part 27
Part 28
Part 29
Part 30
Part 31
Part 32
Part 33
Part 34
Part 35
Part 36
Part 37
Part 38
Part 39
Part 40
Part 41
Part 42
Part 43
Part 44
Part 45
Part 46
Part 47
Part 48
Part 49
Part 50
Part 51
Part 52
Part 53
Part 54
Part 55
Part 56
Part 57
Part 58
Part 59
Part 60
Part 61
Part 62
Part 63
Part 64
Part 65
Part 66
Part 67
Part 68
Part 69
Part 70
Part 71
Part 72
Part 73
Part 74
Part 75
Part 76
Part 77
Part 78
Part 79
Part 80
Part 81
Part 82
Part 83
Part 84
Part 85
Part 86
Part 87
Part 88
Part 89
Part 90
Part 91
Part 92
Part 93
Part 94
Part 95
Part 96
Part 97
Part 98
Part 99
Part 100
Part 101
Part 102
Part 103
Part 104
Part 105
Part 106
Part 107
Part 108
Part 109
Part 110
Part 111
Part 112
Part 113
Part 114
Part 115
Part 116
Part 117
Part 118
Part 119
Part 120
Part 121
Part 122
Part 123
Part 124
Part 125
Part 126
Part 127
Part 128
Part 129
Part 130
Part 131
Part 132
Part 133
Part 134
Part 135
Part 136
Part 137
Part 138
Part 139
Part 140
Part 141
Part 142
Part 143
Part 144
Part 145
Part 146
Part 147
Part 148
Part 149
Part 150
Part 151
PART 10: June 10, 1915  

June 18, 1915 - Surprises - Part X

---- 9:20 AM, bridge of Sydney, course 120, speed 23.5 knots (increasing)

A third large ship emerged from the smoke. After an instant, it was obvious that it was a liner, perhaps an AMC, but not a third large warship. The liner turned to the NW, lagging one warship pair. If there were additional warships, they had not yet appeared, though the ones now in sight seemed far more than enough....

Captain Dedmundee cast an anxious, expectant look at Vice-Admiral Patey, who had remained frozen in place staring at the dread apparitions emerging from the smoke under 9,000 yards away. To the Aussie CO, it seemed that weeks had passed, not seconds.

The three British cruisers continued on their intercept course. Despite Dedmundee's pointed glance, Patey gave no sign that he was about to issue the orders that might enable their survival. What in the hell, thought the Sydney CO, was he waiting for? This was no phantom menace! The captain opened his mouth and closed it again.

Great towers of water arose and thrust loudly out of the waves nearby. He turned to his admiral even as one rating clearly muttered, "Ack!," bar of the bridge rail clutched desperately in the young man's grip.

"Our cruisers can't repel firepower of that magnitude," he said, gesturing with a wave of his large hand, eyes wide in his sun-browned face.

The second salvos pounded the sea into froth close aboard in punctuation. The first three had been about 250 yards short, the other four about 300 yards long. These latest ones were closer, nearly straddling them.

The German BCs fired again.

---- 9:20 AM, Kolberg, stopped

"Sir, small boats have been recovered." There was perhaps a hint of reproach in the voice. The speaker was not certain that all who could have been found had been, but the new captain had ordered an end to the search and recalled the craft anyway.

"Very well," LCDR Dahm replied, looking at the smoking bow of Patia that still poked out of the oily, flotsam-rich, waves.

The acting-CO turned and gazed westward, after their charge. Salamis had continued to plow on at 15 knots or so after a few flag exchanges with the damaged light cruiser, engaged in rescue operations. Dahm would normally have asked the Navigator for a course, but the man was dead. As were all the others who had been on the bridge.

Kolberg had ended up north of their intended track. Dahm put to use the seaman's eye he'd gained in too many battles in too few years.

"Ahead Full - make turns for 20 knots. Come to course 245."

He ignored the other's tone. Yes, their own casualties doubtless included men still missing, but they could tarry here no longer in rescue efforts that would almost assuredly do nothing more than console themselves. Ask me for anything but time, he thought, one hand firmly clasping his injured ribs.

"Aye, aye, sir."

---- 9:21 AM, bridge of New York, course 030, speed 6 knots

"Admiral! The British have opened fire!"

Moments before, the American flag officer had turned his attention away from the British ships and towards the ever-so-slowly approaching Strassburg and the two liners astern of her. What were these cowboys up to? What in blazes was he, Alton, going to do about it? The troublesome Germans had crept to within 4,000 yards off his port bow. The folk on her bridge and topside were conspicuously visible, especially through his binoculars. Few were looking in the direction the great American dreadnoughts and her ample screening forces. He thought that he'd seen flag signals being readied, but none had been hoisted yet. Instead, all aboard the light cruiser were staring off into the Atlantic. Well, with what they knew awaited them ....

"What?!" Alton exclaimed, as the words behind him registered. Firing on the Germans while they were in American waters?! Literally under the lee of the American Navy?! Of his force?! He pivoted and looked at Niobe and the AMCs, about 17,000 yards on his starboard beam. But ... there was no sign of ... wait! Were those sparks of gunfire he saw on the far more distant ships of Patey himself? He began to fine focus his binoculars. But ... Patey was far out of range and was even going in the opposite direction! Just as the images of the distant British cruisers resolved themselves in his lenses, tall shafts of water appeared in the sea near them. Very tall shafts of water. He looked further out and, on the horizon, he saw blinks of light. Like heat lightning. Far, far away.

"Hell and damnation," he muttered.

---- 9:21 AM, bridge of Sydney, course 120, speed 23.5 knots (increasing)

"No, Captain," said Patey in a loud, firm voice. "Maintain the attack! There," he added pointing. "Steer for the one on the left - the one with the broad pennant!"

"Aye, aye, sir." What else could he say? Dedmundee swallowed.

"His Majesty has many light cruisers," half-shouted Patey, "and admirals, for that matter. The Kaiser has only a few battlecruisers left. And here we have two of them. Our duty is there," Patey pointed, "on our bow. Maximum speed! Close with the enemy! You are free to maneuver."


"Signals!" Patey barked. "Torpedo attack - concentrate on the leader!"

"Shift fire," Dedmundee ordered. "New target - enemy battlecruisers."

Maybe it would suppress their fire.

"Left rudder," the deck canted, "midships!"

---- 9:22 AM, bridge of Moltke, course 330, speed 20 knots (increasing)

Rear-Admiral Hanzik and Captain Stang stood side-by-side on the bridge, staring through their binoculars.

"Gut," said Hanzik. "The British admiral did concentrate. Now it will be much more difficult for them to disperse, or run into the American waters and escape."

The enemy cruisers began to weave violently, but showed no signs of breaking off their rapid advance. Splashes from British shells approached more rapidly still.

"Escape is not his plan," Moltke's commander said darkly.

---- 9:22 AM, Imperator, course 120, speed 5 knots

The distant "heat lightning" had just begun to provoke an equally excited, though admittedly far different, reaction on the bridge of the great liner. High in the superstructure of the tall, slowly moving ship, fairly large telescopes stared out to sea. Voices were calling down to the bridge area.

The two young American reporters were among those without binoculars or spyglasses. They could not make out much of anything with their naked eyes. They also could not make out the words, but something was happening; that was obvious. Both now suspected that their story might be far different from anything they might have imagined.

"Whatta' ya think, Blue?" Maxwell asked, as they shaded their eyes with their hands and stared at the bright eastern horizon, as everyone else seemed to be doing.

"I dunno, Max. They're sure all ...." Fox paused, as men rushed out and onto the back of the bridge area and past them. He looked back along the rail and nudged the other. There, a few yards distant, the Ottoman potentate was surrounded by his retinue. Several of his dark visaged cut-throats were all trying to speak to him at once, panting harshly and gesticulating wildly as they competed for their master's attention.

---- 9:22 AM, bridge of Melbourne, course 120, speed 23.5 knots (increasing)

Captain Shane Theargus knew only that his orders remained to form on Sydney, whose stern was just 300 yards ahead of his ship's bow. He'd given the order to open fire on the German light cruiser they could see - Rostock, the southern-most of the pair - moments after the flagship's guns had spoken. The first rounds had gone out after their target had turned onto a SW heading.

Theargus now caught sight at just what was astern of Rostock. What the ... oh, bloody hell!

"Shift target! New target - enemy battlecruiser."

Next he saw the wake ahead of him bending to the NE.

"Helm ..."

---- 9:22 AM, bridge of Augsberg, course 330, speed 21 knots (increasing)

The burning, dramatically listing AMC picket now 4,000 yards off their port bow was no longer a threat, other than to navigation. Speck had turned his attention to the other, and even larger AMC off their port forequarter, whose bow was pointed directly at his bridge. All the Brits seemed to have shifted their fire onto the far bigger targets astern. For the first time since this engagement began, the enemy was shooting at somebody other his own command.


This time it was the port side gun crews that added their fire to that of the bow mounts. Just 6,000 yards away, the tall, 12,000 ton Otway presented a fine target.

---- 9:22 AM, bridge of Rostock, course 225, speed 21 knots (increasing)

Right when they'd turned, Westfeldt had ordered his gunners to shift fire to Sydney. The range was down to something like 6,000 yards, but she was a much tougher target than an AMC. So far, they'd scored no hits.

Melbourne had fired a few rounds at Rostock, but had almost immediately shifted to von der Tann. Berwick, however, had just gotten line of sight to Rostock and her guns straddled the German light cruiser in moments. One near miss close aboard threw splinters across the forward superstructure. Another had inflicted casualties aft.


"Hit!" The small burst of bright orange was near the base of the aft mast-like structure.

"Crack-crack ..."

"Whanng!" The trail Britisher was an older, armored cruiser, County class, but her age was misleading. Ships of this very same class - nearly twice Rostock's size and fully twice her broadside weight in metal - had run down and destroyed at least three German CLs in this war already. Westfeldt's orders were not to engage warships.

"... crack-crack."

"Left rudder!"

There was a few seconds lull as Rostock's gunners lost their target. The barrage from Berwick also eased, as she turned to follow in Melbourne's wake. In seconds, all but her stern guns also shifted fire to the larger von der Tann.


---- 9:22 AM, bridge of von der Tann, course 235, speed 21 knots (increasing)

"Damn!" Captain Dirk muttered as their sixth salvo landed close astern of their erratic and fast moving target. CDR Bavaria, beside him, grunted in agreement.

The lighter bark of one or two of their secondary guns could occasionally be heard in between salvos. Where those shells went was anybody's guess.

Nonetheless, 6,000 yards was very low range for their main armament, and they had expected to hit before this. Meanwhile, Melbourne's shells had marched right up to them and scored amidships. Berwick's first shells were already in flight.

---- 9:22 AM, bridge of Sydney, course (changing), speed 24 knots

"Signals," called out Patey, "for Otway, Niobe, and the other AMCs: ‘Scatter, make way independently'!"


"Hit! Another!"

The flashes of their ordnance detonating on the big battlecruiser tight on their starboard bow were heartening, but Dedmundee had little hope of achieving much with them. He concentrated on aiming for a position ahead of the German.


Both he and Patey were unaware of the shell splash trio from von der Tann just astern to starboard. The closest one had been fewer than 50 yards distant, and shell splinters had struck down several crewmen. The hit aft from Rostock also had inflicted several casualties but that, too, was not known to those on the bridge.

They would also remain unaware of the next hit.

---- 9:23 AM, bridge of Moltke, course 315, speed 20 knots (increasing)


Their seventh salvo straddled Sydney but one shell of the four struck almost flush on the hull below the forward superstructure about three feet above the waterline. It crushed through the plating and exploded four feet deep in the hull. The fireball cratered the hull itself and a blunt, conical wavefront of white hot gas and shards thrust deep in a shallow downward diagonal. The ship seemed to stagger and the shock toppled nearly all in the casemates and on the bridge above. Other than two men who'd been outside off the port side of the bridge, only the helmsman had kept his feet and a knuckle in their wake evidenced his exertions to remain standing.


Otway had landed her first hit in the superstructure aft of the bridge. Her stern gun crew gained line of sight at Rostock and fired their first shot.

---- 9:23 AM, bridge of Augsberg, course 330, speed 21.5 knots (increasing)

"Hit! Another!"

The first had been high on her tall bow. The second had scored on the hull, port side, about one-third along her length.


A new explosion ahead drew Speck's glance to their first, earlier foe. That AMC was stopped, burning and listing, and was fast coming up on their port bow. In a minute or three, he'd have alter course or accept that her smoke would degrade their accuracy. If he held to his course for just a few more minutes, she'd come between him and his current target.


---- 9:23 AM, bridge of Melbourne, course (changing), speed 23 knots (increasing)

Omigod, thought Captain Theargus, as he watched the fireball recede from Sydney's hull. Smoke began to stream astern of the flagship within seconds. Other than the knuckle in her wake, she steamed on without any other immediate effect. The flags which were certainly the beginnings of the signal for a torpedo attack remained only partly up the lines. He knew Patey well enough for that. What else, if anything, the vice-admiral may have been about to signal was a mystery.

" ‘Sar, we're runnin' up on ‘er! Fast like!"

Theargus drew a deep breath as Patey's stern began to draw closer at what appeared to be an increasing rate. He looked at Sydney's still "silent" halyards.

"Yes," he replied. "Standby, there."

"Aye, aye, sar. Standin' by."

Some of Sydney's guns resumed fire. He could see that much even without the glass from his vantage now just a hundred and a half yards astern. If he looked towards the dubious safety of the American coastline, then just beyond visibility to the north, it may only have been to check his searoom. Certainly, his crew detected no hesitation.

"Helm, take us by on her unengaged side," Theargus ordered. Then, in a louder voice, "Torpedo attack! Signals! Hoist it!"

‘"Aye, aye, sir!"

---- 9:23 AM, bridge of Rostock, course 190, speed 20 knots (increasing)

"Right rudder," ordered Westfeldt. Yes, his and Speck's orders had been not to remain engaged with warships, unless it absolutely could not be avoided. With the explosion on the lead Britisher, however, the big County had shifted her fire away from Rostock. To von der Tann, it seemed. It was time to get back into the battle.

There was still an occasional splash off their beam, from Berwick's stern mount. Otway's stern gun was also getting rounds off in their direction, but Westfeldt did not know that.

"Target, trail cruiser."

---- 9:24 AM, bridge of Augsberg, course 330, speed 21.5 knots (increasing)


Damn! Speck nearly cursed, once he turned back, following his glance at the fireball on the lead British cruiser. That last explosion amidst the bonfire that had been Val's Tract had expelled fresh, dense billows of black smoke which were moments away from obscuring their aim. Even hors de combat, the resolute AMC picket was posing problems for him. There was also some risk of flotsam. He could go around the hulk, to the north, but that would effectively take them right out of this battle for several minutes. He could turn to port now; that would put his small cruiser essentially bow-to-bow with their much larger target barely 4,000 yards away.

"Left rudder," he ordered, hating the sudden quiet as his guns ceased fire in the turn. The large AMC had absorbed something like a half-dozen hits with little outward effect, save threads of smoke from two places amidships. Speck was certain she'd shift fire to Augsberg once they turned toward her.


Damn, this AMC was big, he thought. For an instant, he recalled Stettin, as she had looked on the end of her tow, and his friend Jeff Lantz, as he looked in the hospital the day before they'd left.


---- 9:24 AM, bridge of von der Tann, course 235, speed 21 knots (increasing)

"Whanng! Whanng-whang!"

Berwick was scoring hit after hit without reply, but Dirk was not about to change targets at this point.


"Yes, that one hurt her!"

It had taken von der Tann ten salvos to land her first solid hit, but the results seemed decisive. The slowing Sydney had slewed about less in the minute or so after Moltke's hit, making her a somewhat easier target. The 5,000 yards range made it akin to aiming a deer rifle across a parlor. The eleven inch shell struck near the waterline below the base of the third stack and, best Dirk could tell, might have broken her back.

---- 9:24 AM, bridge of Rostock, course 330, speed 20 knots (increasing)


Westfeldt watched as his shell splashes tightened up on the Brit cruiser.


His light shells seemed not to have any effect whatsoever. No wonder, he realized, the Counties had had such successes with Nurnberg, Leipzig, and Dresden. He was profoundly thankful for the big battlecruisers off his starboard side.

A splash right alongside made him draw breath, but the County off his starboard bow kept her fire on von der Tann.

"Hit! Another!"

Damn, Westfeldt thought, it was as though they were shooting blanks.

---- 9:24 AM, bridge of Melbourne, course (changing), speed 24 knots (increasing)

Their guns ceased fire as the second Australian cruiser overtook Patey's flagship, drawing nearly abreast on Sydney's port side. Theargus looked for any sign of the admiral as he began to gain some view of her bridge. So far, there'd been no new signals hoisted on the crippled warship. "Give me a sign, Admiral," he pleaded, under his breath. A signal, anything, anything at all. He was ready to act on even a gesture from the doughty admiral.

"Oh, my God!" The exclamation was involuntary, and from more than one throat.

They were mostly shielded from the blast wave from Sydney by the flagship's own mass. Nonetheless, Theargus and the others could feel the heat on their faces, as the last two stacks went over and a fireball erupted where they had stood.

"As you were! Steady there!" Theargus barked. Debris began to land noisily on the foc'sle - an horrific, metallic summer shower.

---- 9:25 AM, bridge of Moltke, course 315, speed 20.5 knots (increasing)

"Shift fire! Shift fire!"

Captain Stang orders were louder than was his custom, as Melbourne burst through the pall of smoke cast by Sydney.

"New target: leading cruiser!"

Even as he issued the orders, Melbourne's bow gun fired, and her forward starboard mounts were only moments behind.

The first of his guns to reply was one of his secondaries, but he knew no amount of 15 cm shells was going to stop them. The second Britisher was hardly 4,000 yards away and coming hard at their bows.

"Right rudder! Come to 350."


---- 9:25 AM, bridge of von der Tann, course 235, speed 21 knots (increasing)

"Whanng!" Berwick had the range and was firing nearly undisturbed from about 5,000 yards. The old armored cruiser had the seven of her 6" guns that could bear firing with marvelous rapidity, even as she strained to stay astern of the smaller, but newer Melbourne. She was scoring far more hits than either Captain Dirk or Commander Bavaria knew, as they were aware only of those that hit nearby or forward.

"Shift fire!" Captain Dirk ordered with relief. "New target..."


"... trail cruiser!"

Before their guns could fire, however, Berwick had slipped behind Sydney's pyre, fast in Melbourne's wake. The battle was beginning to move away from them, to the north and east.

"Rostock has already turned to the north," CDR Bavaria commented quietly, in the odd little lull.

"Yes," Dirk acknowledged. "Right rudder!"

---- 9:25 AM, bridge of Augsberg, course 300, speed 21 knots (increasing)

"Hit! Hit again!"

Finally, there seemed to be sign of fires on, "Otway," Speck read her name from 3,000 yards off.


"Right rudder!"

Melbourne had just emerged from the smoke of Sydney just off their port bow. She was close, far too close, herself not much further than the 3,000 yards to Otway. He'd gotten too close, lured by the large AMC. Even as the deck tilted, and tilted hard, one of the Brit's port guns opened fire, joined quickly by others.

Splashes began to mark the waves along their previous path.

The third British cruiser was just astern of the second, and soon opened fire with her portside guns as well.

Speck looked at the foul, greasy smoke still spewing from Val's Tract. Now it looked quite welcoming, and it was only a few hundred yards away. Her starboard deck edge was already below the waves. He looked astern, the shell splashes seemed to be following them, like the footsteps of some invisible giant.


---- 9:26 AM, bridge of Moltke, course 350, speed 19.5 knots (increasing)

The turn partially away had not helped much. The pair of Brit cruisers were angling ahead and were already down to about 3,500 yards.

"Concentrate," Stang thought to himself, almost in disgust, "he wanted the British to concentrate."

Hanzik had deployed to catch the Brits whichever way they turned to flee. Only they had done nothing of the sort. Splitting their own force had resulted only in splitting their own fire.


That was their second salvo. The first had been short, after their turn. A couple of their secondaries fired, but with no visible results.

Should he turn away? He did not look at Hanzik. If the admiral wanted him to do something, Stang expected he'd make it quite clear.

---- 9:26 AM, bridge of von der Tann, course (changing), speed 18 knots (slowing)


"Sir, my rudder is coming left. Rudder amidships. Sir, steady on course 350."

"Very well."

"They're pressing the attack on Moltke," Bavaria commented cooly.

"Yes, we're out of position, but the range can't be more than 6,000 yards."

Their guns fired and both raised their glasses and waited for the fall of shot.

---- 9:26 AM, bridge of Melbourne, course 100, speed 24 knots (increasing)

There, almost dead ahead on their starboard bow, was Patey's target. Proud Patey. Theargus did not even glance back at what was left of Sydney. He barely flicked his eyes at the light cruiser to the northeast practically disappearing into the smoke of Moore's funeral pyre. He noted several small threads of smoke from the big Hun battlecruiser, but he was not fooled. They had not hurt her. Not yet.

"Left rudder!

Tall spouts punched out of the water just ahead. They had very little time. He accepted it.



Theargus grimaced as he watched the barrels of their target move to track them. And fire again.

---- 9:27 AM, bridge of von der Tann, course 350, speed 18.5 knots (increasing)


Bavaria looked at the remains of the British leader's ship. Her stern was not visible; presumably it had sunk. The bow and even a bit of the forward superstructure were lifted well out of the water, still pointing towards Moltke.

Their target, the larger cruiser, had just turned inside of the track of the new leader. Their shells had landed between the ships, along their previous track.

Their second salvo went out.

---- 9:27 AM, bridge of Moltke, course 350, speed 20 knots (increasing)


Almost dead on their beam, five towering shafts of water almost surrounded their target, but there were no signs of a hit.

"Whanng! Whanng!"

There was a brief flash on the Brit. Some smaller gun had scored, either theirs or Augsberg's. He had no way to tell. It did not matter.


Actually, two hits had occurred. One shell whipped by above Melbourne's center, perforating her forward stack. The other 11-inch shell struck high on her hull, about 30 feet back from the edge of the bow. The explosion tried to kick the bow sideways, massively deforming it, cratering it upwards even as it blew off a huge section of plating all the way down to and below the waterline. The waves were an avalanche of stone and the bow failed catastrophically, folding back upon itself.

The deceleration was almost instantaneous, dashing everyone onto the deck and forward.

---- 9:28 AM, bridge of von der Tann, course 350, speed 18.5 knots (increasing)

"Damn!" Dirk said in a low voice.

Their second salvo also had missed and, now, so had their third.

They saw the flash of the hit on Melbourne, but could not discern its effects.

Berwick, meanwhile, had begun to return fire from her rear and after port mounts. The County's gunners were already on target.



The flash of a hit and fireball showed clearly on the after quarter of the 10,000-ton armored cruiser.

---- 9:28 AM, bridge of Moltke, course 350, speed 20 knots (increasing)

Their next salvo had missed ahead of the crippled British cruiser.

"Whanng!" The third British cruiser was still firing at them, and still hitting. The flash on her after quarter drew Stang's eye, then ...


Again two hits had been scored on Melbourne, range 2,800 yards. These were much more obviously decisive, as great gouts of fire burst from the stricken light cruiser. They seemed almost to crush her, as though she'd been trodden upon by some monstrous, invisible being. Even as Stang watched, the flames seemed to spread all over her hull. Smaller flashes marked fresh hits from lighter guns, and her stern seemed to be slightly out of the water.


"Shift fire!" Stang ordered, as Berwick ran past the shattered light cruiser. Before his orders could get relayed, another main gun salvo smashed into the flaming ruin.

"Whummmpf!" Their own deck shuddered as a tower of water alongside surged up from just aft of the bridge.


Hanzik's first thought was, "The Baron's not going to be happy about this."

---- 9:29 AM, bridge of von der Tann, course 350, speed 19 knots (increasing)

"Sir, Moltke's been hit by a torpedo!"

The tall column of water could be seen even from their vantage, about 8,000 yards away.

"Verfluch!" Dirk exclaimed in what he hoped was a low voice.

"Indeed," replied Bavaria, suggesting that it had not been low enough.


Another burst on their target, but with little obvious effect.

---- 9:30 AM, bridge of Moltke, course 350, speed 20 knots


"Whanng! Whanng!"


Huge fireballs staggered the final British warship, and silenced all but a single gun. She began to slow, but did not waver from her course.

Another hit from von der Tann added to the great fires aboard the gallant County.

Suddenly, the battle was over. Here.

---- 9:40 AM, bridge of von der Tann

"This is victory?" Commander Bavaria asked, a bit incautiously.

Dirk silently agreed with the feelings of his noble XO. The pair were studying the other three German warships. Small boats were in the water, looking for survivors.

"We have 28 dead, another six missing," Bavaria continued. "Two dozen other casualties, and the fire in the aft superstructure is only now being reported as under control."

"Yes," Dirk replied. "Both lights took hits, as well. Rostock looks okay, but Augsberg is still smoking."

Smoking shattered hulks marked what remained visible of the British force which had challenged them. The County had taken a dozen hits almost point blank before capsizing.

Both men looked at the flagship. Trails of smoke eddied out of a dozen places, and she appeared to already have a slight list. Bright squares began to rise from abaft her bridge.

"Uh-oh," Bavaria remarked.

"Sir, signal from Moltke."

"Very well," both men answered, without lowering their binoculars. They could read the signals quite adequately as they lay to, 1000 yards away from their flagship.

"Our number, and Rostock's," Dirk murmured. " ‘Continue mission.' "

"Here we go again," said Bavaria.

by Jim

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