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Date: 5 January 1916

Transcript:

MYSTERY OF THE U-BOAT SINKING
SIR E. GREY'S REPLY
GERMANY'S AMAZING CLAIM TO GREAT BRITAIN
PIRATE CAUGHT IN THE ACT

Very promptly Sir Edward Grey has replied to the memorandum of the German Government in regard to incidents alleged to have attended the destruction or a German submarine and its crew by his Majesty's auxiliary cruiser Baralong on August 19, 1915.

The claim of the Berlin Government is that the crew of the submarine were "murdered," and the evidence of seven witnesses (named below) are adduced. All of these witnesses are United States subjects, aged from 18 to 32 years. Six of them were engaged as muleteers and superintendents on the British steamer Nicosian, crossing from New Orleans to Avon mouth last August, with (says the German memorandum) "350 mules for war purposes, thus being laden with contraband."

A Stoker's Story.

To the testimony of those six is added that of Larrimore Holland, a United States citizen, aged 18, who deposes that in May 1915 he arrived in Liverpool on a mule, ship, and was induced to enlist in the British Navy, and that he was, at the time the German submarine was sunk, a stoker on H.M.S. Baralong. The German memorandum covers his story as well as that of the six cattlemen.

About 80 miles south of Queenstown the Nicosian was fired on by a German submarine "after the whole crew, including the six witnesses, had left the ship in lifeboats," says the German statement.

Arrival of the Strange Ship.

While the submarine was firing at the Nicosian an unknown steamer appeared "flying the American flag at the stern and carrying large shields on her aides with the American flag painted on them". The gravamen of the German case, as seen below, is that this ship was H.M. auxiliary cruiser Baralong, that, she did not lower the American flag till (as one witness says) after she had fired small arms at the submarine and that then she sank the submarine and "murdered" the crew even when they were helpless.

The memorandum, which encloses the sworn depositions of the witnesses, is dated November 28th; it was handed to the U.S.A. Ambassador in Berlin. The U.S.A. Ambassador in London passed it to the British Foreign Office on December 6th; Sir Edward Grey replied—without accepting any of the German statements—on December 14th. The German memorandum demands that officers of the Baralong shall be tried for murder and punished.

SIR EDWARD GREY.

German Crimes on Land and Sea.

Sir Edward Grey's reply addressed to Mr. Page, United States Ambassador in London, is as follows:—

Foreign Office, December 14.
Your Excellency,—I have had the honour of receiving your communication of the 6th instant, covering a memorandum of the German Government in regard to incidents alleged to have attended the destruction of a German submarine and its crew by H.M. auxiliary cruiser Baralong on the 19th August last. The German Government base on these alleged incidents a demand that the commanding officer and other responsible parties on board H.M.S. Baralong shall be brought to trial for murder and duly punished, His Majesty's Government note with great satisfaction, though with some surprise, the anxiety now expressed by the German Government that the principles of civilised warfare should be vindicated, and that due punishment should be meted out to those who deliberately disregard them. It is true that the incident which has suddenly reminded the German Government that such principles exist is one in which the alleged criminals were British and not German. But his Majesty's Government do not for a moment suppose that it is the intention to restrict unduly he scope of any judicial investigation which it is thought proper to institute.

The German Crimes.

Now, it is evident that to single out the case of the Baralong for particular examination would be the height of absurdity. Even were the allegations on which the German Government rely accepted as they stand (and his Majesty's Government do not so accept them), the charge against the commander and crew of the Baralong is negligible compared with the crimes which seem to have been deliberately committed by German officers, both on land and sea. against combatants and non-combatants. Doubtless the German Government will urge that the very multitude of these allegations would so overload any tribunal engaged in their examination as utterly to defeat the ends of justice. If, for example, a whole army be charged with murder, arson, robbery, and outrage, it is plainly impossible to devote a separate inquiry to all the individuals who have taken a share in those crimes. These practical considerations cannot be ignored, and his Majesty's Government admit their force. They would, therefore, be prepared, for the present, to confine any judicial investigation to charges made against German and British officers at sea, and if even this restriction were thought: insufficient they would be content to call attention to three naval incidents which occurred during the same 48 hours, in the course of which the Baralong sank the submarine and rescued the Nicosian.

The Case of the Arabic.

The first incident relates to the German submarine which fired a torpedo into the Arabic and sank her. No warning was given to the merchant vessel. No efforts were made to save its unresisting crew. Forty-seven non-combatants were ruthlessly seat, to their death. It is understood this act of barbarism, though in perfect harmony with the earlier policy of the German Government, was contrary to orders recently issued. This, however, if true only increases the responsibility of the submarine commander, and his Majesty's Government have received no information indicating that the authorities have pursued in this case the course they recommend in the case of the crew of the Baralong by trying him for murder.

The Stranded British Submarine.

The second incident occurred on the same day. A German destroyer found a British submarine stranded on the Danish coast. The submarine had not been pursued there by the destroyer. She was in neutral waters. She was incapable either of offence or defence. The destroyer opened tire upon her, and when her crew attempted to swim ashore the destroyer fired upon them also, with no apparent object but to destroy a helpless enemy. There was here no excuse of hot blood. The crew of the British submarine had done nothing to rouse the fury of their opponents.

They had not just murdered 47 innocent non-combatants. They were not taking possession of a German ship or I committing any act injurious to Ger- man interests.

So far as his Majesty's Government know the facts, the officers and men of this destroyer committed a crime against humanity and the laws of war which is at least worthy of judicial inquiry as any other which has occurred during the course of recent naval operations.

The Case of the Steamer Ruel.

The third incident occurred some 48 hours later. The steamer Ruel was attacked by a German submarine. The ship. which had made no resistance, began to sink. Tho crew took to their boats, and while endeavouring to save themselves were fired upon, both with shrapnel and rifle fire. One man was killed. Eight others, including the master, were severely wounded.

Sworn testimony, on which these statements are based, shows no reason whatever which could justify this coldblooded and cowardly outrage.

It seems to his Majesty's Government that these three incidents, almost simultaneous in point of time, and not differing greatly in point of character, night with the case of the Baralong he brought before some impartial court of investigation, say, for example, a tribunal composed of officers of the United States Navy.

If this were agreed to his Majesty's Government would do all in their power to further the inquiry, and to do their part in taking such further steps as justice and the findings of the Court might, seem to require.

His Majesty's Government do not think it necessary to make any reply to the suggestion that the British Navy has been guilty of inhumanity. According to tho latest figures available, the number of German sailors rescued from drowning, often in circumstances of great difficulty and perils, amounts to 1,150. The German Navy can show no such record—that perhaps, through want of opportunity.—I have etc.,
E. Grey.


Source:
'Mystery of the U-Boat Sinking.' The Cambria Daily Leader. 5 Jan. 1916. 6.

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