Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Book Review - Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

This is the next book in my reading list. It took some time to read since I had to divide my reading time with other things. Most of my reading is done during breakfast at the factory. I usually take an empty table, set up my phone on the tray (it tilts the phone up just enough for easy reading) and turn the pages in between mouthfuls. I also try to squeeze in several minutes before sleeping. I used to read books from cover to cover in one sitting but I haven't done this in a long time.

Jane Eyre was written by Charlotte Bronte and published in 1847. This was her second book though it was her first published work. It is written in first person narrative, which means it's as if Jane Eyre herself was telling the story. There are numerous points in the book where Jane seems to be talking directly to the reader. I have not read many books written in this style and I must say it came out quite well.

The story runs like an autobiography of Jane's life from the time she was ten years old until she was around thirty. Most of the story comes from her years between eighteen and twenty. Mistreated as a child, she experiences friendships, education, and care which seems to remove any bitterness she had and develops into quite a proper woman. She is fortunate in that sense. How many penniless orphans do you know get an education and grow up to be intelligent, wise, and kind?

Jane's story is about herself and her experiences and central, I guess, is her love story with Edward Rochester of Thornfield Hall, her employer, whom she often refers to as "Sir" even after they confess their love for each other. It is a sad, happy story and, just as I did with the last book review (Ivanhoe), I will avoid telling the story too much.

Any difficulties?

Well, I kept wondering if people really spoke that way in Charlotte's days. Here's an excerpt from the part where Mr. Rochester deceives Jane into thinking that he was going to marry a rich and beautiful woman and Jane admits to having feelings for her master.

"I tell you I must go!" I retorted, roused to something like passion. "Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you? Do you think I am an automaton? -- a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! -- I have as much soul as you, -- and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh; -- it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God's feet, equal, -- as we are!"

Next, there are a number of coincidences in the story which I find a bit unlikely.

First, Jane meets her master after he meets an accident and helps him—completely unaware it was him. This is not very unusual as it has a higher probability of happening than the next ones.

Jane later discovers that she has a living relative, an uncle, whom she writes to, saying that she was soon going to marry Mr. Rochester. Her uncle happened to know a person in Mr. Rochester's life who spoils their marriage plans causing her to run away from Thornfield Hall.

After Jane runs from Thornfield Hall, and from Mr. Rochester, she comes upon a village and meets a family of two sisters and one brother who take her in. Amazingly, they turn out to be cousins!

What I liked about the story:

Jane certainly lived an interesting life but I liked the way the story went from poverty and persecution for young Jane, to what seemed a good life for her around the middle of the story. Then comes a fall back to poverty and quickly to recovery. I'm a stickler for happy endings and Jane Eyre certainly has one.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Book Review - Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

A few weeks ago, I took a quiz to find out how many books—among a list of about a hundred—had I read. I was a bit dismayed to find I could only check five books. I didn't count the movie version since that would be cheating. So, I decided I'd go to look for the books I haven't read and load them into my Android phone. This was the first book: Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott.

Having just written Legend of the Moon, which has a medieval setting, I naturally gravitated toward Ivanhoe. I knew about the book but nothing about the story. I remembered there was a movie once that I saw on TV back in the 1960's (I later learned the movie was from 1952) but couldn't remember much about it. I went to www.gutenburg.com because I found several old books there that were free. A few touches on my phone's screen and I had Ivanhoe in my hands.

Ivanhoe was written in 1820 by Sir Walter Scott and was set in 12th century England. More than a hundred years before, the Normans (from France), led by Duke William II fought and defeated the Saxons (from England) at the Battle of Hastings and became masters of the Saxon locals and nobles. Oppressed but proud, the Saxons grudgingly submitted to their Norman conquerors but the divide between these two peoples was very wide. With this setting, the book took off.

The book's title is Ivanhoe but the main character's real name was Wilfred. The Ivanhoe is actually appended to his name, Wilfred of Ivanhoe, and seems to imply that Wilfred comes from a place named Ivanhoe. There is, however, no mention of such a place in the book and the name of Wilfred and Ivanhoe is used almost equally in the story. Other characters such as his father, Cedric of Rotherwood (also known as Cedric the Saxon) is called Cedric and never Rotherwood. The only other character who seems to use his origin/hometown as his name is Locksley. His real name came out later in the story, Robin Hood.

Difficulties with the book:
I like to read aloud and try to duplicate the accents if I can. As other people who have read Ivanhoe would know, the dialogues are difficult. If you haven't read the book but have read the King James Version of the Bible, you'll know what I mean. If thou must read this book, prepare thyself to suffer twisting of the tongue (actually, it's more difficult than my example).

Aside from the Old English way of talking, I found most of the dialogue too lengthy to be practical. Maybe they spoke that way in the 12th century but I wouldn't know.

The Normans are French, first and foremost, so Ivanhoe's principal opponents had French names, which is difficult to pronounce if you don't know the language (and I happen to be one of those). Examples are: Ivanhoe's antagonist, Brian de Bois-Guilbert, Brian's friend Reginald Front de Boeuf, and the Grand Master of the Knights Templars, Lucas de Beaumanoir. I had to take a little time off from reading to actually learn how to pronounce them.

What I like about the book:
I don't want to be a spoiler by telling the story, even a short version (in case someone becomes interested in reading the book himself), but I liked the way Sir Walter hid certain things or deliberately misled the reader to make a surprising revelation later.

Surprisingly, Ivanhoe's love interest, the Lady Rowena, has a relatively minor role compared to another woman, Rebecca, a Jewish woman of exceptional beauty. This does not diminish the romantic aspect of the book in anyway, though. In fact, it makes it more interesting.

What I didn't like about the book:
My biggest disappointment was the duel between Ivanhoe and Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert. Again, I don't want to be a spoiler but the duel had been building up and when it occurred, it was over in a flash.

So now I can tick off another book. Next up, Jane Eyre. (",)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Legend of the Moon - first sale

Well, here it is, my first sale for Legend of the Moon. Depending on who you are, $2.40 may seem small but, for me, it means that someone at least liked the sample enough to purchase it. For an author who is new at this, it made me so deliriously happy that I posted this same picture on my Facebook timeline.

Got a book in your head? Get it out and write it. Putting it out on the web was satisfaction in itself so making sales is a bonus. Maybe you just do it once and never again or you come out with a whole string of them, it depends on your purpose and your passion.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Legend of the Moon is Published!

Legend of the Moon
Finally, Legend of the Moon has been uploaded into the Smashwords website! Five and a half months in writing, four months editing and formatting, three weeks creating a cover, whew!

Ten months from start to finish, it was a lot of fun. There were times though when I was tempted to stop editing after two rounds though. It was only the thought that if I'm going to publish a book, I might as well make it as good as I can make it.

So what's next? Another book of course! (",)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Alternative Sources of Income

I've done editing the book and am now working on formatting. I made four editing runs to try and catch errors and improve some passages. I hope I did a good enough job.

Formatting is easier but still time consuming. Smashwords needs to have the book in a strict format so they can convert it into the different file types suitable for ebook readers. They provided the Smashwords Style Guide that gives easy-to-follow instructions to do this. In fact, I've been thinking of offering my own services to other authors to do their formatting for them.

I haven't been working on the book 100% of the time, unfortunately. I still have to work and other things also need to be done. Can I make a living out of being an author? According to numerous articles I've read around the web, probably not. Out of tens of thousands of authors (maybe more), only a few actually earn enough from their books to do nothing else except write.

I'm sure, however, that there are people out there who would say, "don't give up," and cite several famous authors who went through countless rejections before they became successful. To them I will say:

I'm not giving up. I'm just making sure my family and I can survive while I'm working on it.

I've already filed notice of retirement from my employer and I said I would be leaving the company in June next year. I cannot hope to support my family if we just live off my retirement pay so we need to have an alternative source of income.

My wife's a good cook so one of the options is a restaurant or catering service. I couldn't contribute to that since my cooking skill is limited to boiling water for the thermos. Besides, every piece of business advice I read says to have more than one income stream. So what, other than writing, can I do.

I have been in instrumentation and control since 1986, that's 28 years of experience. I can put that to good use by consulting and/or training. With regards to training, however, I don't intend to limit myself to my profession. I've been a Toastmaster for 11 years. I can train people on public speaking and offer my services as a speech coach. So, if I add formatting services for Smashwords authors, I'd have my alternative sources of income.

Can I do it?

'Course I can. (",)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Idea for Google Glass

I'm very myopic (near-sighted) and I've been wearing glasses since the fourth grade. It's gotten so that I can hardly function without my glasses. Then, when I was around 35, I developed presbyopia (Greek presbys or elder/old man + ops or eyes = old man's eyes), a progressive condition where the eye's lenses have reduced ability to focus on near objects even when wearing corrective lenses. The solution here is to wear bifocals, which essentially split your vision into two, allowing you to clearly see both far and near objects. I don't like the feel of bifocals because of the line separating the two lenses. Progressive lenses, which don't have a visible line, are expensive so I opted for two glasses: one for far vision and another for near vision. As you can imagine, it's not really that much better than bifocals or progressive lenses.

Tonight, I saw a picture of a man wearing Google Glass. It's a called a wearable computer because you wear it like eyeglasses and it has a small screen where a picture or video is projected just in front of your eye. It functions much like a smartphone so you can access the internet, take pictures or videos, send or read emails, and call someone.


Looking at the picture of Sergey Brin—one of the founders of Google—wearing the Glass (that is what they call it), it struck me that it might be possible to use the same technique to help people with the same condition that I have.

Here's the idea:

Modify the device so that it can be used over both eyes. An increase in the screen's size would probably be better also. The built-in camera (those two black dots to the side) will take videos of the front of the wearer, focus, and project it on the screen. The Glass can be programmed to automatically adjust the focus for either far or near vision. This means you'll only need one pair of glasses and it doesn't have be to bifocals. It's as if you're wearing high-tech, self-focusing glasses.

(Sorry Sergey, I had to modify one of your pictures to make an illustration. I took the left half of your picture, duplicated it, reversed it, and joined them together. It's not perfect but it does the job of illustrating the idea.) (",)


I don't know if it's an original idea but it's something I think I would buy—depending on how much it costs.  (",)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

U-66 vs USS Buckley

While researching for my next book, I came across this story which caught my attention. As an exercise, I rewrote it to give it a little more detail. Hopefully, I didn't reduce the impact.

Notes: Credits for U-66 vs USS Buckley
http://www.desausa.org/sinking_of_u_66.htm
http://www.uboatarchive.net/U-66BuckleyReport.htm
http://www.ussblockisland.org/Beta/CVE21_History_p4.html


USS BUCKLEY

Lt. Commander Brent Abel rechecked the plot. It was 2122H and USS Buckley (DE-51) had been chasing after a disappearing radar contact for almost five hours. Five days earlier, the task group (TG 21.11) had been told of a possible submarine within 150 miles of the group. Twenty-two hours later, a search plane from the carrier, USS Block Island, got radar contact and made a depth charge attack with negative results. Since then they had been conducting a "hold-down" action against the sub. A hold-down was exactly what it was. They kept the submarine underneath the surface where it was slower, hoping to exhaust its batteries or force it to come up for air where it would be dealt with by either fighter planes or destroyers. Unfortunately, this particular submarine was playing hard to catch.

"Skipper," a yeoman came up with a message from the radio room, "Task Group commander reports strong radar contact bearing 300°, range 5000 yards, closing in at 18½ knots. Block Island's making a hard turn to course 120° and orders us to close and attack the contact."

Abel acted immediately. The sub had somehow evaded them and, instead of running, had decided to surface and launch an attack on his pursuers. "All ahead full, left full rudder, make your course 300°."

The commander of USS Buckley picked up the growler and called the radar room. "Radar, con. Do you have contact on the submarine."

"Negative, skipper. I have no targets."

That figures, Abel thought. The carrier had a better radar set than he did and he was being ordered to find something he couldn't see. Well, at this speed, we'll be on top of him in no time.

They found no sign of the submarine after a run of several minutes. Abel ordered an observant search pattern and planes from the carrier lent a hand in the search. They sailed around in a two mile square while the search planes looked farther away. An hour later, Abel ordered a retiring search but the sub appeared to have given them the slip again. For the next three-and-a-half hours they come up empty.

BULLDOG THREE

Lt. (jg.) Jimmie Sellars shifted in his TBM1-C. He was approximately eighty-eight miles from Block Island and was all by his lonesome. The next search plane was 75 miles away but visibility was excellent this night. The moon was bright and the sea was calm as can be.

His orders were to search this sector for a submarine that had evaded his task group for several days. The good visibility was an advantage for both sides. Sellars, however, had one more advantage over his quarry. He had radar.

The blip appeared on his scope on a bearing of 330°. Sellars waited for several seconds to see if it would disappear. He once had an intermittent contact that made him think a submarine was porpoising on the surface. It turned out to be a humpback whale that kept jumping almost completely out of the water. It was an incredible sight but it got him a lot of ribbing back on the carrier. This time, the contact stayed solidly on his scope. He decided to call it in.

"Doghouse, this is Bulldog Three. I think I saw something at half-past-three. I'm gonna sniff around some."

BLOCK ISLAND

"Skipper," the radioman called the captain on the bridge, "Bulldog Three reports a contact at bearing 330°. He's moving off to investigate."

Hughes checked with the carrier's squadron commander. By this time, Bulldog Three was about sixty-six miles to the north of the task group and only about twenty miles from Buckley. Hughes decided to send the Buckley steaming toward the contact in case it turned out to be a u-boat. He instructed the radio room to send the message to Buckley.

BUCKLEY

Doberman, this is Doghouse. Bulldog Three got a sniff and we want you to check it out. Move out at oh-three-fifty hours. He's about twenty minutes from your position.

Abel smiled at the code talk which wasn't really hard to decipher. Bulldog had detected a contact but didn't have a visual yet. Doghouse (Block Island) wanted him to check it out and had given bearing (03:50 = 350°) and distance (20 minutes = 20 miles). At flank speed he'd be there in about 45 minutes but that's only if the contact (assuming it was a sub, he'd heard about the whale story) stayed where he was. He had not been given the contact's course and speed.

"X.O., set course to three-five-zero, all ahead flank."

U-66

Oberleutnant (Lieutenant sg.) Gerhard Seehausen, commander of U-66 was worried. Several days of evading acursed aircraft and destroyers had taxed his boat and men almost to the breaking point. His chief engineer had just informed him that their E-motors had to be repaired or else they'd seize when they were most needed. He had ordered the sub to the surface and moving away from the last known position of the hunter/killer task group that had been hounding them for the past several days.

Just before giving the order to surface, he gathered the bridge watch who were going to be scanning the air and the sea around the submarine for both airplanes and ships. "Men, we need to surface to give the engineers time to fix the E-motors. Once they start repairs, we won't be able to dive for about three hours. If we're spotted, we have no option but to run and fight them off on the surface. Keep your eyes open and your necks on a swivel."

Walter Drehwek, Seaman First Class, went up the bridge ladder for his turn on watch. It was a bright, moonlit night and the sea was as calm as can be. Beautiful night, he thought, except such nights as these held dangers for a surfaced sub. The sub was also leaving a bright wake as its passing disturbed luminescent plankton. The little creatures turned a bright blue when alarmed and what can be more alarming to a microscopic animal than a large submarine churning the water. It was beautiful but also dangerous. The light could be seen for kilometers around and there was nothing they could do about it except hope they passed out of the mass of plankton soon.

BULLDOG THREE

Sellars flew straight for the blip on his scope. It wasn't long before he saw the luminiscent wake of the contact. It was a sub alright, moving on the surface. He stayed a ways out to avoid being seen. His plane had been stripped down to the bare essentials so that he could fly all night. That meant he had no weapons, not even machine guns. He got on the horn to Block Island, received an acknowledgement, and instructions to maintain contact and guide Buckley onto the target.

BLOCK ISLAND

Captain Hughes immediately ordered a flight of planes fueled, armed, and up on deck for launching. It would take some time to get them ready, however, and Buckley had a head start. It was going to be a race against fast planes and a destroyer escort on who gets to the target first.

U-66

Drehwek scanned the horizon and lifted his binoculars up to the sky. Germans made very good telescope lenses and these were top rate models. If only they weren't so damned heavy.

Just as he lifted his scanning towards the sky, he spotted it. The airplane was a long ways off but that could change in a minute. He called out the contact to the watch officer on the bridge.

With a shout of "ALARM," the boat was galvanized into action. The call to air action was shouted and additional men scrambled up the ladder to man the anti-aircraft guns. Seehausen was quickly up on the conning tower and checked over the plane himself. It was so far off, it was possible the pilot might not have seen them yet.

"Hold your fire. He hasn't turned this way yet. If he hasn't seen us, firing on him will surely change that. In any case, he's too far away for accurate shooting and we'd only be wasting ammunition."

The hope that they hadn't been spotted soon died, however. The plane made a slow turn around them as if preparing to attack. Evasive maneuvers were quickly issued and the sub began making a series of turns and course changes in an attempt to throw off the pilot's aim. Inexplicably, the plane suddenly turned away and moved off.

BUCKLEY

Buckley obtained radar contact with the u-boat from 8 miles away. They observed the twisting and turning of the sub not knowing that it was Sellars' presence that was causing the strange gyrations. If it's sailing around in the same spot, it might be a resupply sub waiting for its customer or the customer waiting for the resupply sub. In any case, it was a submarine and that's what Abel was after.

A minute or so later, they received a message directly from Bulldog Three. He had circled the sub but it had made no attempt to dive. That was unusual but if it wanted to fight on the surface, Abel was willing to grant its wish.

"Officer of the Deck, sound general quarters. Course, three-four-zero and maintain flank speed. Hold your fire until they start firing on us."

The X.O. asked his commander what he had in mind. The whole ship was crewed by reservists, officers included, and they had yet to engage an enemy in a surface action.

"We're a destroyer escort, right? A destroyer escort is a small vessel. In the moonlight and at the right viewing angle, they might mistake us for the resupply sub and allow us to get close. We position ourselves so they're between us and the moon. That way, we can see them clearly but they will have a more difficult time identifying us."

"I want us to get as close as possible before firing. We're in a stern chase so if we start firing too early, we can only use the two, forward three-inch guns and four of the 20 mm guns. If we can get closer, we can steer the ship off to one side and get the rest of the other gun emplacements in action."

The X.O. thought the chances of getting that close before the sub's lookouts discovered them was very low but creeping up (at 23.5 knots!) in the dim moonlight just might work. Moonlight was great for spotting but not for identifying.

15 minutes later, the FXR (Foxer) was streamed out. The FXR was a noise generator strung behind a ship at the end of a length of cable. It was designed to generate so much noise that an acoustic torpedo would lock on to it instead of the ship's screws or engine sounds. A second one was readied on deck just in case. Buckley was ready for action.

BULLDOG THREE

Sellars flew back toward the sub. It was still on the surface, which was highly unusual. Normally, u-boats dived upon sighting a plane and they usually did it within 30 to 40 seconds. It had been 35 minutes since he'd had visual contact and he was sure the sub had seen him. Why were they still on the surface? He decided to take a closer look.

U-66

They had spotted the aircraft again. The previous one had not attacked and had probably not been armed. This one could be a different plane but it was difficult to tell. The plane banked and began flying toward them. It was attacking! Seehausen thought fast.

"Give it a burst from the 20-mm gun. If it's not going to attack, it might veer away."

The crewman on the 20-mm gun, took aim on the approaching aircraft and fired a three second burst.

BULLDOG THREE

"Christ!" Sellars turned away as soon as he saw the flashes from the sub's conning tower, the tracers passing well below him. He had no weapons that could sink it but he might be able to do some damage. He pulled his .45 service pistol from its holster and fired several rounds toward the u-boat as he turned away.

BUCKLEY

"Flares, Captain! They're shooting flares!" Buckley's lookout mistook the tracers from the 20-mm gun for flares. He was excited and inexperienced. Abel thought the sub had seen them and, thinking they were the resupply sub, had fired a recognition signal.

"Don't answer that. We don't know what the return signal is. Let's keep them guessing for awhile longer."

U-66

All eyes were watching the aircraft. They had not heard the 0.45 pistol's report or saw the little splashes that the bullets made on the sea around them. Everyone heaved a sigh of relief as the plane turned away. One of the aft lookouts put his binoculars back on his eyes, followed the plane for a few seconds and brought his sight back down to the sea. What's that? A ship!

"Vessel, starboard quarter," the lookout shouted. Everyone whirled around to the stated direction. A vessel was indeed behind them, about 3,800 meters distant. Drehwek heard one of the lookouts say it was a freighter. No, Drehwek thought, it's too low in the water to be a freighter. It's a destroyer escort and it was on a northerly course. Shouts of "man the guns" resounded around the bridge. Silly, thought Drehwek, the guns were already manned, had been for several minutes. He not heard clearly. Seehausen had called up extra crew to bring up machine guns to supplement the 20-mm and 40-mm guns. Seehausen checked the bearing, course, and distance of the destroyer and ordered one of the aft torpedoes be made ready to fire. When the report of "torpedo tube five ready to fire" came up, he gave the order to launch.

BUCKLEY

The u-boat was off the port bow and holding course. Abel ordered a turn to port to bring the sub dead ahead. Just as the ship settled into her new course, the personnel aft reported a torpedo wake passing down the starboard side. It was a close call. No one had seen the torpedo coming. Their luck was holding out. Abel waited until the u-boat had slipped to his starboard side and changed course again, this time to 290°. This kept the sub in between Buckley and the moon as well as kept him out of the direct line for another torpedo shot. In case they fire an acoustic torpedo, the FXR was going to present a louder target for an acoustic torpedo. A few minutes later, the sub opened fire with a machine gun. The battle had begun. It was 0319H.

Buckley opened fire from 2,100 yards. The first salvo from the 3 inch guns scored a direct hit on the sub's forecastle near the 105-mm deck gun, putting it out of action temporarily. Soon every gun that could fire was raking the u-boat from bow to stern. The sub answered back with everything they had. It was an unequal contest. Buckley had two 3" guns and at least four 20-mm guns in action (four other 20-mm mounts, one dual 40-mm, and one 3" gun were unable to join at this time because they had no direct line of sight). U-66 had one 105-mm gun (which had gone out of action early in the fight), one dual 20-mm gun, one single 40-mm gun, and a number of machine guns.

U-66

"Get that deck gun back in action!"

Seehausen was directing the battle from the bridge. The first salvo from the destroyer had blown his 105-mm deck gun crew away. His gunners were firing desperately and cowering behind their guns, trying to keep their exposure as little as possible. Consequently, their shots were aimed too high and were passing over the destroyer. They scored a few hits on the destroyer's smoke stack but not much else. The destroyer's gun crews, however, were doing a lot better than the u-boat's. They were scoring hits on the conning tower, the gun platforms and the men serving them. As men were cut down, more men came up from below the sub to replace them. The foward hatch opened and three men rushed out to man the main deck gun. They brought it up and loaded a round. Through all the shells whizzing and exploding around them, they fired at the destroyer escort.

BUCKLEY

"Their deck gun's back up and firing!" The big flash from the front of the conning tower was unmistakable.

Abel's reaction was instinctive. "Left full rudder!" The helmsman spun the helm left to the stops. "Sir, my rudder is left full!"

Firing stopped momentarily as the small ship turned hard left, the crew were caught off guard as the sub slipped out of their sights. The turn unmasked the midships 20-mm, 40-mm, and the aft 3" gun emplacements but their shots ran wide as the destroyer maintained her turn.

U-66

There was a short respite for the u-boat gun crews. Seehausen called down to order the second stern tube readied for firing. They had only one more shot and they had to make it good.

The destroyer escort was turning away and Seehausen ordered a slight course change just as the report came back from below.

"Stern tube six, ready to fire!" Seehausen didn't hesitate for a second.

"Fire!"

BUCKLEY

Abel looked at the geometry. The sub had moved to Buckley's starboard beam and firing had resumed. This time, though, even the midships guns were now in play. But the sub was pointing her stern at them. That wasn't good. Just as he thought about it, one of the lookouts shouted.

"Torpedo off the starboard bow!"

"Right full rudder!" This was crazy. They were turning a 1,600 ton ship as if it was a racing car weaving around a chicane and wishing they could turn just as tight. The torpedo swished by across their bow and continued on past. Apparently, it wasn't an acoustic type otherwise it would have turned with them. As he ordered the ship back in pursuit of the sub, Abel tried to remember how many torpedoes could a u-boat fire out of her stern tubes. He hoped the answer was two.

BULLDOG THREE

Block Island's killer planes arrived at the scene but held back. Buckley was too close to the u-boat and was already in the thick of the fight. They orbited a short distance away. If Buckley lost, they would dive in and finish off the u-boat.

Sellars orbited around the two combatants and radioed Block Island on everything he saw. Everyone on Block Island were listening to Sellars' report as if they were listening to a live radio commentary of a baseball game. Firing had resumed after Buckley turned back toward the sub and Sellars reported that a small fire had started on the sub's bridge.

U-66

The enemy fire was murderous. Most of the destroyer's guns were aimed at the conning tower and men were dying on it. Drehwek had a machine gun which he fired sporadically from cover. The other, heavier guns had been silenced. A fire started on the bridge which prevented crewmen from climbing up to take over the guns. Mercifully, a round from one of the destroyer's 3" guns snuffed the fire out. Drehwek was so engrossed with staying alive and firing his short bursts that he hadn't noticed his captain lying on the bridge, mortally wounded.

Seehausen gasped his last instructions. The fight was lost, the destroyer was gaining on them and running parallel to them with the range closing every minute. He ordered scuttling charges to be set and for the crew to abandon ship. Surrendering was not an option. He could not let the sub be boarded and secret documents and equipment to be captured.

The order to abandon ship was given. A crewman, Fritz Buttgereit, who was on the bridge when the order came, immediately jumped into the sea. He was fortunate. The destroyer was still peppering the sub with shells and climbing up through the hatches meant almost certain death.

Below decks, two English prisoners, Captain Cecil Gordon Hime and Stanton Hanna Elliott were already at the ladder with three crewmen. These two men had been captured when U-66 had torpedoed a British freighter, the SS John Holt, a month ago. They had been treated rather well by the crew and were now going to be helped out by three of their captors. All five men did not survive the hellfire upon exiting the bridge hatch.

BUCKLEY

The range had dropped so close that handheld machine guns now joined the fray. U-boat crew were cut down as they climbed out of the hatches. By this time, Buckley was just 20 yards away on the port side of the sub and running parallel to it. Intent on his prey, Abel ordered a hard right and to sound the collision alarm. He was going to ram the sub!

A destroyer escort's main purpose is to go after submarines. To this end, the designers included a hardened steel bow to ram their quarry, just like in the olden days. The Buckley rapidly turned to starboard and struck U-66 on the forecastle just ahead of the conning tower. The ship's momentum caused her to ride up onto the submarine's deck and stayed there. With the ship literally on top of the sub, the weapon's fire from Buckley suddenly stopped. The guns couldn't depress low enough to hit the sub.

Suddenly, the u-boat crew began climbing out of the hatches, taking advantage of the lull in the shooting. Several jumped into the sea but those who climbed out of the conning tower hatch had something else in mind.

They'd had enough. They wanted to surrender. Instead of raising their hands, however, the u-boat's crew started jumping unto the destroyer's bow from the conning tower. The sub's scuttling charges had been set and could blow at any minute. They had to get away from the sub as quickly as possible.

BUCKLEY

Abel and the bridge crew of the Buckley watched in stunned fascination as Germans began climbing up on Buckley's bow. In the days of sailing ships with row upon row of cannon on her decks, boarding the enemy vessel was a common occurrence, often with the intention of capturing the boarded vessel. Abel could hardly believe it. It was happening to his ship!

"All hands repel boarders!"

In the heat of battle, it's easy to miss signs or misread intentions. The men of U-66 were climbing aboard Buckley to surrender but none of the crew on the nearest gun emplacement, the No. 1, 3-inch gun, understood a word of German. To them, the shouting mass of men clambering aboard the destroyer's bow were an attacking hoard of war crying pirates.

Unable to use their large gun against the boarders, and unarmed themselves, the men of 3-inch gun mount number one met the oncoming Germans and engaged them in hand-to-hand combat. Every weapon that were on hand were used, from empty 3-inch shell casings, fists, and coffee cups. Some of the u-boat crew, however, came aboard armed with machine guns. A firefight ensued as the destroyer's repair crew, who were armed with rifles, engaged them and kept them pinned down on the bow.

Abel watched the battle from the bridge and decided it was time to get the destroyer off the sub. He ordered the engines reversed. Freed of its heavy burden, the sub leapt forward as its engines, which were still at ahead full, pushed it back up to 18 knots. As the remaining boarders finally surrendered, Abel quickly ordered Buckley back in pursuit and resumed firing at the wrecked conning tower and deck of the sub.

U-66

Drehwek had thought of jumping onto the destroyer himself and surrendering but seeing his mates knocked off the rail and fighting for their lives on the destroyer, he changed his mind. He dropped the machine gun he'd been firing and jumped into the sea. He watched as the destroyer came off the sub and move away. The sub, who's engines were still running, forged ahead with the destroyer in hot pursuit. Drehwek knew there were still a few men inside, probably the engine crew, especially the chief engineer, who's job it was to set the scuttling charges.

Inside the sub, the chief engineer tried to keep the remaining crew under control. A few had tried climbing up the ladders, only to fall back dead from the hail of bullets and exploding shells. He had to think of a way to get his men off the boat. He stood behind the planesmen, the two crew members who controlled the boat's rudder and diving planes. He told them what he was thinking.

BUCKLEY

The destroyer had caught up with the sub and was still subjecting it to intense weapons fire. Abel had an idea.

"X.O., have the starboard depth charge launcher readied for firing. When we get ahead of that thing, I want you to fire a couple of charges set for shallow in front of him. We'll blast him out of the water."

As the X.O. made off to give the orders, Abel watched the sub. The gun crews were shooting at it with such abandon that the sub was covered in exploding shells it was hard to see if there were any men on it. He wondered if the sub was empty and he was firing on a derelict. He couldn't take that chance though. If there were still enough men inside and he broke off the fight, the sub might circle around and tag him with a torpedo.

The destroyer was slowly overtaking the sub. Once he was ahead of the sub, he'd give the order to fire the depth charges. His eyes were fixed on the sub's bow, gauging time and distance.

U-66

The chief engineer couldn't see where the destroyer escort was and the periscope had been badly damaged from the barrage up on deck. He didn't have a choice, he had to see where the destroyer was before he executed the maneuver. He went to the ladder for the aft hatch which seemed to be marginally safer. The bridge hatch was certainly the most dangerous.

He kept his head below the hatch until he could position himself to lift his head through the hatch and duck back down in one motion. All he needed was one quick look. Steeling himself, and watched by the remainder of the crew, he stuck his head out of the hatch and ducked down a second later.

He was alive! The chief engineer waited a few seconds to catch his breath. The destroyer was slightly ahead of them and he had to act quickly. He ran to the control room and stood behind the planesmen. If this worked, the sub would slip behind the destroyer and give them a minute or two to climb out and jump into the sea. He had to do it now as the scuttling charges were nearing the end of their timers. He put his hands on the shoulders of the two planesmen and gave the order.

"Left full rudder!"

BUCKLEY

The bow of the sub was almost directly across from the destroyer's bridge on the starboard side. In about 20 seconds he'd give the order to fire the depth charges. It looked like he was firing on an empty sub but...

Abel watched in disbelief as the sub's bow suddenly turned toward him. Out of control, he thought, but whatever the reason, the sub was turning toward his ship.

"Right full rudder! Stop starboard engine!" He had to swing his stern away otherwise the sub might hit his starboard screw and damage it. Too late.

The sub's bow struck the Buckley's side and opened a five foot gash in the after engine room about two feet above the waterline. The hole also partially exposed the ship's laundry room. The sub's bow slid under the ship and sheared off the starboard screw and caused the sub to roll over to a 60° angle.

U-66

As soon as the sub's decks bucked underneath him, the chief engineer knew he had turned too early. He had not planned on ramming the destroyer. Men, were thrown about and when the sub rolled to starboard, almost everyone fell toward that side of the sub. One man, however, was holding on to the bridge ladder and quickly climbed up. He had to give his boatmates a chance to escape. He reached the 20-mm gun and was turning it around to bear on the destroyer when shells from the destroyer's 40-mm gun cut him to pieces. No one else climbed up the ladders.

One of the crewmen on the destroyer's deck found himself looking straight down into the sub's conning tower. Thinking quickly, he began grabbing grenades and throwing them down as soon as he had pulled the pins. One grenade fell through the hatch and rolled on the deck toward the starboard side near where the planesmen were sitting. The chief engineer had just regained his feet and was about to give the order to abandon ship when the grenade exploded. Shrapnel flew around the sub's interior, instantly killing the chief engineer and one of the planesmen. The other planesman was knocked unconscious and fell on the diving controls causing the forward diving planes to extend and tilt down. The sub, still making about 15 knots, slid out from under the ship and passed astern. The destroyer's guns resumed their relentless barrage and the No. 3 three-inch gun scored three more hits on the sub's conning tower as the u-boat's deck went underwater. All the hatches were still open.

The sub gradually disappeared from view and the guns fired their last few shells fell into the water around the bubbles on the surface. The entire fight had lasted but 16 minutes.

Abel and several other crew members heard a heavy explosion underwater followed by several, smaller explosions. He ordered the engine's stopped and the sound gear activated. By the time they were on line, the sub's diesel engines had stopped when they had starved of air as the sub dived. The boat had quickly filled with water through the open hatches and the only sound was water gurgling into the sub as U-66 dived to her final resting place more than 16,000 feet to the bottom of the Atlantic.

With only her port screw operating, Buckley searched the area and picked up 31 survivors from the sea. With the five men captured from the boarding of Buckley, that made 36 survivors out of 60 crew.

Abel called Doghouse on the radio and reported that the u-boat had been sunk and that they were looking for survivors. Captain Hughes asked for a damage and casualty report.

"Well," Abel began, "the starboard shaft seems to have been sheared off when the sub rammed us. There's a hole about five feet wide from the engine room to the laundry room but it's a little above the waterline so it's not something to worry about. I don't have a report on the condition of the bow but nothing's leaking so I guess that's okay. There are several holes on the superstructure from small caliber guns. There's a hole on the smoke stack but I can't tell yet what caliber gun did it. As to casualties, one man complained he bruised his fist punching a German in the face as the enemy was climbing aboard. That's all, sir."

My God, thought Hughes. That must be the most lopsided naval surface battle in history. Abel and his crew on Buckley had done well. No time to celebrate though. There's another u-boat out there, the resupply sub. She'd would be looking for her customer and we're going to give her a surprise.


At twelve noon later that day, the milk cow, as the resupply sub was informally called, was sunk by another destroyer escort, the USS Elmore, with hedgehogs and depth charges. Unlike U-66, the sub was sunk while it was underwater and all hands were lost.