David James Williams served on submarine chaser SC 227, a wing-boat in Unit F (SC 94, SC 227, SC 151) assigned to the Otranto barrage.
The transcript below is of a small diary he kept during his subchaser duties. (Emphasis added to dates.)
Note: See also the photo collection from the service of crewman Williams.
Diary of chaser crewman David James Williams, courtesy of his grandson, David Williams.
A Brief Diary of my Cruise in Foreign Waters on the USSC 227
Property of D. J. Williams
38 S 7th Avenue
Rockaway Park, NY
Left New York Monday, January 14, 1918
Arrived at Norfolk Va. January 18, 1918
Distance – 307 miles.
Left Norfolk on Wednesday, January 23, 1918. Arrived at Charleston January 25, 1918. Distance 362 miles.
Left Charleston Monday, March 25, 1918. Arrived Bermuda March 29, 1918. Distance 750 miles.
Left Bermuda April 18, 1918. Arrived Ponta Delgada April 22. Distance 1,700 miles.
Left Azores May 7, 1918. Arrived at Gibraltar May 13. Distance 1,000 miles. Was transferred from USSC 179 to 227 May 16, 1918.
Friday, May 17, 1918. An enemy sub was sighted of Gibraltar near Spain. We were ordered out after her. Sighted her near coast of Spain and dropped two depth charges on her. A lot of full oil come to the surface. We were never credited with it because we got her within the 3-mile limit of Spain.
Left Gibraltar May 20, 1918. Arrived at Malta harbor 2 p.m. May 25, 1918. Distance 1,100 miles.
Left Malta May 28. Ran full speed all night. Next morning sighted Sicily. We were ordered to clear this place of subs, as there was a large convoy of troop-ships passing. We patrolled for twelve hours and finally the convoy passed hell bent for election. We returned to Malta May 30. Distance 400 miles.
Saturday, June 1, 1918. Was ordered to sea to rescue some people who had been on a boat that had been torpedoed. Ran full speed for six hours. Arrived out there but found no one to save. Loaded on our boat 70 crates of lemons that had come from the torpedoed boat. Returned Sunday, June 2, 1918. Distance 200 miles.
Monday, June 3, 1918. We went into dry docks at Malta.
June 5, 1918. Left Malta for our base at Corfu, Greece. Arrived June 8, 1918.
June 15. All crews were congratulated by Lieutenant Spafford for bringing row boats across Atlantic.
Sunday, June 16, 1918. We left at 4 AM for the barrage on our first patrol.
June 20 at 8 p.m. General quarters was sounded. Listeners got a bearing and we chased it at full speed. At 10 p.m. sighted two destroyers. Flashed recognition signal and received no answer, flashed it again and received no answer. Believing them to be enemy ships we fired our 3-in. Put a shell right through engine room which crippled her. She then stopped and blinked she was a Limey doing guard duty. She was towed away by the other vessel. A close call for us because if she opened up with her 6-in. we would sure go to Davey Jones.
June 21. Was relieved.
June 24, 1918. Left Corfu for barrage. Hit a storm. A big one hit us and carried away our ice box. Saw some a.m. raids on Italy. Returned to our base June 29.
July 4, 1918 was spent at Base. We had boat races and swimming races. I went into a life raft tilting contest but lost out.
July 5, 1918. Left for barrage. Got a bearing at night on the C Tube. We chased it for 4 hours and run into a French convoy. Some fine day. We are not going to be lucky. Returned to base July 10, 1918.
July 13, 1918. Left Base to go on Barrage. First day out at 3:30 p.m. received a SOS from a ship that had been torpedoed. Our division and one more went to her assistance. When we got to her she was sinking slowly. At 6 p.m. two tugs with us acting as a convoy towed her into Italy. They had to tow her stern-first as she was torpedoed in the starboard bow. We returned to our position and enjoyed some rough weather. Pulled into our base.
We stayed in for seven days and went out July 25 on patrol. Second night out got a good bearing and chased it for three hours. Got over it and dropped six ash cans. I think we got this Limburger transport. Pulled into our base July 30 after having three rough days.
Went out on Barrage again August 3. Hit five days and nights of nice, rough weather. One wave hit us and loosened our engine room deck house. Snapped our steering cable. Returned to base Aug 8, 1918.
August 12. Had a hell of a job loading gas from 50-gallon drums.
August 13. Went out on patrol again. We were expecting a raid on us by the Austrians. We were armed to the teeth. But it never come through. We went out seven days this trip. Went back to base August 19.
August 22. Our port engine was taken out.
August 23. Was entertained at Y.M.C.A. woman’s house. Had a pretty nice time.
August 29. Put back our port engine. Tested it out but found it needed a new vertical shaft.
August 30. Put in new vertical shaft and three new connecting rods.
September 1. Made a trial run and found port engine o.k. Labor Day. Worked all day.
September 3. Went out on barrage and had a strenuous trip. Chased everything in sight. Pulled into base September 7.
September 11. Left for barrage. Got a bearing near Italy. Chased it and got over it and dropped three ash cans. Whatever it was, we got it. Returned to base September 15.
September 20. Went out on barrage again. Mike, one of the 2nds, was left in port as he had the Spanish Flu. Returned to base September 24.
September 27. Under way at 4 a.m. for the barrage. Our position was along the Italian coast. We could not center sound on account of storm that came up. We had to run all night to keep from going on rocks.
Sunday, September 29. Received a wireless message to come in immediately. Then message was delayed. Returned to base September 29.
October 4. Went out on barrage at 4 a.m. Rough as hell. Got a bearing on a sound, and chased it for three hours. Found it was a destroyer. Returned to base October 9.
Friday, October 11, 1918. Was woke up at 2 AM by Chief Earle from our mother ship. We were ordered to be ready for sea at 9 AM to go on a raid. We left at 10 AM, each boat carrying a hospital apprentice. A doctor was on the flag ship. There was 4 divisions of us we chasers. We pulled in Valona, a Italian naval base, at 6 PM.
Oct. 13. Left Valona at 2 PM and convoyed a bunch of troop ships and supply ships up the coast to Durazzo. As we were near the enemy coast we had general quarters all the way up and were expecting some Austrian destroyers after us. Our chances of getting out of this was pretty poor if they come down, but they would know they had a fight before they got us. We got up to Durazzo and the troop ships and supply ships run in as close as they could and unloaded their cargo in whale boats. We protected them from subs outside. It took about 12 hrs. to unload ships and we come back without any damage. While on way back we almost hit a mine, but put it out of commission with our star machine gun. Returned to Valona.
Oct. 24. Was ordered to get ready to go to Gallipoli, Italy, but our unit leader 94 had 11 sick men with Spanish Flu.
Oct. 29. Whitey, one of our 2nds, was removed to Base hospital with Spanish Flu.
Oct. 31. Underway for barrage at 4 AM I and two 2nds was stricken with Spanish Flu. I was in pretty bad shape but stood one watch, but went under. Turned in my bunk with a fever of 101. We run up to the Flag ship and took a doctor aboard. He fed us quinine until our ears began to ring. 3rd night my fever run up to 104 and my mind was wandering. Pulled through all right but was weak for about 2 weeks.
Nov. 6. We received word that Austria had quit. We had a pretty wild time, blowing whistles and ringing bells.
Nov. 7. We passed in review of the French Admiral. Each chaser fired one gun which meant 21 guns fired. They returned our salute.
Nov. 15. We left our base for an Austrian port named Cattaro, representing the U.S. We arrived Nov.16, 1918.
Nov. 19. We went for water and managed to get a rifle and a couple of bayonets.
Nov. 22. Went ashore and visited the Austrian Aeroplane hangars. Returned to ship at 6 PM.
Nov. 28. Had a good turkey dinner. Nuff said. Left at 4 PM for Spalato, Austria. On the way we crossed a mine field. A French destroyer warned us. Arrived Nov. 30, 1918.
Dec. 2. Went ashore and had a hot bath. First one in 6 months. Wasn’t my fault.
Dec. 3. Went ashore at Spalato.
Dec. 15. Left with our mother ship for Corfu, homeward bound. We stopped at a town called Curzola, made a liberty for 2 hrs. and had a wild time. Pretty nice chicken in this town.
Dec 16, 1918. Left Curzola. We pulled into Ragusa same day. Wend ashore and had a pretty good time. Returned to ship.
Dec. 20. Returned to Corfu and loaded gas and supplies. On way in 30 of us chasers had a race and the 227 was going strong. Arrived in Corfu and prepared to leave for the first lap on our homeward bound trip.
Dec. 21. Left Corfu on our homeward bound trip. First night out we hit a storm. Wind, rain and hail. We were rolling on an average of 50°, and sleeping was impossible. Our position was on the star. side of the Leonidas, our mother ship. During the night the Leo’s cargo shifted and she listed to the port side so bad that all her lights went out. We all thought she would turn over. She came out all right and we made slow progress as the storm lasted 3 days and three nights. Pulled into Malta on Christmas day. Our Christmas dinner consisted of submarine turkey and spuds. As we pulled into Malta the captain of our mother ship sent the following Christmas greeting.
Jan. 22. Left for home 7:30 AM. Had a splendid trip and saw some wonderful sights. Visited the Vatican and Pope’s residence. Arrived back Jan. 23.
Left Civita Vecchia Jan. 26, 1919 for Spieza, Italy, Had a good trip although choppy. Arrived at Spieza Mon. Jan. 27. Went ashore and in the evening went to a show given us by the Italians. Had a pretty good time.
Jan. 29. Left Spieza Italy for Nice, France. Had a good trip and arrived at Nice Jan, 30, 1919. Went ashore and had a wild time. Met a bunch of dough boys in town at YMCA. They were sure glad to see us, as we were them. Tried to find some one I know but was out of luck. Nice chicken here.
Feb. 5. Went to Monte Carlo and went through well known gambling casino. Stayed over night.
Feb. 7, 1919. Left Nice for Marseilles. Had a very rough trip. Arrived in Marseilles Feb. 8, 1919. Expect to leave for Paris Mon., Feb. 10, 1919.
Left for Paris Sun., Feb. 9, 1919. Arrived in Paris Feb. 10, 1919. Looked over Paris and returned Feb. 12, 1919 after standing all night in a frog train.
Feb. 13, 1919. Left Marseilles for Gibraltar. Had a good trip except the last night and we hit a storm. Arrived in Gib. Feb. 16.
Left Gib. Mar. 6, 1919 on SC 131 for Tangiers, Africa. Arrived at Tangiers 12:30 PM. About 25 of us hired donkeys and looked over the town. Left there at 4 PM for Gib.
Mar. 12, 1919. Left Gib. for Algiers, Africa. When we were one day out, we run into a storm. Rolled us as usual. Arrived at Algiers Friday, Mar. 12, 1919.
Mar. 15, 1919. Left Algiers for Bizerti, Africa. Had a rough trip and arrived Mar. 17, 1919. Went ashore and seen a real caravan.
Mar. 19, 1919. Left Bizerti for Gallipoli, Italy. Hit an awful storm. Did not think we would live through it. Had to put in to Tunis, Africa on account of the storm. I have seen it rough, but believe me, this was the worst storm we ever hit.
Mar. 20, 1919. Left Tunis, Africa for Gallipoli, Italy. Had a rough trip all the way. Arrived at Gallipoli Mar. 23, 1919.