Terror in the Baltic for the Germans

British submarine exploits

BRITISH submarine activity in the Baltic, news of which we have been publishing for several days past, culminating in the gallant exploit reported last evening, is giving great satisfaction in this country and creating a complementary amount of alarm in Germany.

The first hint of our craft’s presence in these waters was given towards the end of August, when one unspecified vessel took part in the Riga battle and was officially reported from Petrograd to have torpedoed a German Dreadnought, presumed to have been the Moltke.

And that the particular submarine was not a solitary wanderer from the regular cruising grounds was plainly indicated the same day, when the E.13 went aground on the Danish coast to be shelled while defenceless under the very eyes of the Danish patrol boats.

The two episodes (writes a competent authority) had probably a great deal to do with the abandonment of the German attempt upon Riga from the sea; but there is some evidence that the Berlin naval authorities did not regard the presence of British submarines in the Baltic as particularly serious from any other point of view.

They are not known, at any rate, to have adopted any new precautionary measures until about the end of last month.

Then, following certain rather vague rumours concerning the newly-discovered danger to commercial shipping, there came fairly definite reports on an attempt to block the mouth of the Baltic with mines.

Since then events have moved rapidly.

Either two mine-layers did not finish their work or the dedication of the minefields was at once ascertained, or for some other reason the barrier proved ineffective; in any case, Allied submarines in the Baltic suddenly began to create something like a real reign of terror.

On October 3, or earlier, the German and German-Swedish steamers on the Trellborg-Classnitz route ceased to run and one German vessel, having been attacked, was forced to run aground.

Three days later the Gelser-Warbemunde service was similarly withdrawn, Germany being thus virtually isolated from both Sweden and Norway, with the result that arrangements had to be hurriedly made to divert traffic from these countries through Denmark.

On October 9, however, a vessel described as “a German transport” was torpedoed and sunk.

Since then, it would appear that very few German steamers, whether of the liner or tramp class, have thought it worthwhile to put to sea, while it is evident that such have dared to face the passage across the Baltic have suffered heavily.

According to a Stockholm message, published in the Argus earlier this week, out of 27 vessels recently awaited at the ore-shipping port of Lulca only ten had arrived “and it was feared the remainder had been sunk”.

Seven, representing a tonnage of nearly 18,000 are known to have been sent to the bottom or driven ashore; three more of considerable size would appear to have been sunk on one day alone-last Monday.