by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent
The Oregon Statesman, editorializing with tongue-in-cheek (or Bronx cheer?), comments on “What Submarines Are For:”
The news that a German submarine had sunk two British torpedo boats in the North sea was received in America, recently, with a sort of pleased surprise. Not that anybody rejoiced in the destruction of property and life; but it seemed to suggest that the German admiralty was again coming to a realization of the proper use of submarines.
That is what submarines are for – to sink torpedo boats and other war vessels. That is what the U-boats were used for early in the war, when the sinking of three British cruisers, the Aboukir, Hogue and Cressy, all at once, was hailed as the sign of a new epoch in naval warfare. Americans gave Germany full credit for that achievement, and acknowledged Captain Weddiges as a hero. It was a legitimate stroke of war, brilliantly executed.
But there has been little in the subsequent history of German submarines to win applause from the impartial. Beyond the sinking of the British cruiser Hawke, and some effective strokes in the Dardanelles probably accomplished by Germans, they have seemed for several months to shun danger deliberately, preferring the mild sport of blowing up merchant vessels, trawlers and unarmed passenger ships.
If the Germans would turn their submarines in earnest against the enemy’s warships instead of using them for the destruction of property and life without military advantage, they would win back some of the lost respect of the world and do the enemy far more harm.