Vol. 14 No. 9, September 2018

Detecting and sinking submarines in WWI involved many challenges. 
 
Chasing a moving, submerged target meant not only detecting the sub, but repeatedly stopping to detect changes in course. Moreover, while the listening "tubes" were used to detect the direction of sound, and by working in three-chaser units and triangulating the bearings the distance of the sub could be estimated, there was no method for determining the depth.
 
Further complicating things was the need for stealth. When on patrol at night, the chasers ran without lights.
 
In the War Diary of Subchaser Detachment One, Base 27 (Plymouth, England) an attack on 2 September, 1918 is recorded, in which USS Parker and submarine chaser Unit 4 took part.
 
Posted recently in The Subchaser Archives is a first-person account of that submarine hunt, pursuit, and attack. Ward Weller, crewman on submarine chaser SC 36, describes the experience of launching depth charges and being on a 110' wooden chaser in the midst of the detonations; then being on running patrol on a night so dark that he couldn't see the wireless jack stay at the bow from the pilot house. See the account here
 
Thanks to his Jayne Rankin, granddaughter of Ward Weller, for submitting the transcription to The Subchaser Archives. See Hunters of the Steel Sharks, The Submarine Chasers of WWI for a complete list of chaser pursuits and attacks. The incident of 2 September is listed on page 187
 
Coming soon: Excerpts and photos from the wartime diary of SC 181 CO Harry E. Betzig, courtesy of his great-granddaughter Barbara Betzig White.
 
--Todd Woofenden, editor

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