Engineering Wonders of the World
Volume I

Forfatter: Archibald Williams

År: 1945

Serie: Engineering Wonders of the World

Forlag: Thomas Nelson and Sons

Sted: London, Edinburgh, Dublin and New York

Sider: 456

UDK: 600 eng - gl.

Volume I with 520 Illustrations, Maps and Diagrams

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BY ALAN H. BURGOYNE. A VISIT to a British battleship usually leaves the impression (upon the un- ■ initiated) of a superb piece of de- structive mechanism, ready at a moment’s notice to commence the deadly work for , which it was built. Theo- retically this is so, for every commissioned unit of the British Navy is maintained on what is termed a “ war footing ; ” practically, it is untrue, since a hundred operations have to be carried out speedily, exactly, and simultaneously before a vessel can actually commence fighting. Let us assume that a battleship of the Dread- nought type is steaming north in a time of presumed peace to join the main fleet lying, say, off Rosyth. Suddenly a “ wireless ” message arrives from the Admiralty in London announcing the unexpected out- break of war, and, as this message is brought to the notice of the captain, a hostile ship of similar class is sighted on the horizon, approaching at top speed. Here you have a vessel unexpectedly called upon to engage an enemy in combat. The reason why an instance of this improbable description is taken is because, were a war anticipated, or had hostilities already broken out, all ships in the navy would have made many of the preparations for action which we are about to describe long before the first gun was fired. A bugle sounds clearly throughout the length and breadth of the battleship, telling every officer and man that an action is im- minent. “ Clear lower deck ! ” “ Clear ship for action ! ” are the calls, and instantly nine hundred men rush to every nook and corner of the ship, seemingly in aimless confusion, but in reality knowing each man of them the task allotted to him for execution. At one and the same moment a thousand things are being done. We will ' take the more important of these as they would present themselves to the eye. Around the boat deck, from steel davits, hang the cutters, galleys, and gigs—wooden craft likely to provoke a conflagration as the result of shell-fire, and form- ing, moreover, what a sailor would term “ shell traps ”— Preparing for Action. that is, unnecessary targets ready to stop and burst shells that might otherwise pass by unharmed. Had the declaration of war not been so sudden—a veritable “ bolt from the blue ” we may call it—all but the abso- lutely necessary boats would have been left in harbour, and the remainder would already be half filled with water and surrounded with splinter-proof rope hangings to limit to some