Another submarine story that I recall from World War I I read, at the time, in L'Illustration. Let's call it
A CAPTURED SUBMARINE.
Fearing that it might be another mystery ship disguised as a disabled submarine, it opened fire on it at long range, when a white flag was promptly run up on the submarine.
A Boarding Party was then sent on board the submarine and it found out that it was the first one to be put in service of a new type of submarine in which the mines were kept in vertical tubes, open to the water, extending from the deck through the hull and so designed that any desired number of the mines could be planted by being released by suitable tripping mechanisms.
The Admiralty had known of the development of this type of submarine and was exceedingly anxious to secure information as to the details of its design. The Boarding Party was elated at their discovery and communicated it to the Commander of the destroyer, who then came aboard the submarine to examine it.
He discovered that all the launching tubes were empty, which indicated that all the mines had been planted.
He decided that it might be practicable to float the submarine at high tide, and if so that he might be able to take it in to one of the British ports, where it could be given the most careful attention.
When he informed the Commander of the submarine what he planned to do, he was surprised to note that the German Commander seemed to be pleased. It dawned upon him that the fact that the launching tubes were all empty might mean that the German commander, realizing that the capture of his submarine was imminent, and that the British commander would undoubtedly desire to take it to a British port and would, for this purpose, in all likelihood place a British crew aboard, had conceived the brilliant idea of dumping all his mines under the bow of the submarine so that when the submarine moved it and the British crew aboard would certainly be destroyed.
The British commander, after some consideration, said to the German commander: "I am going to withdraw all my men from the ship, and it will be manned by your crew. I shall direct you when to get under way and I shall escort you to your destination." The German protested so volubly that such procedure was irregular and contrary to international law that the Britisher was confident that his suspicions were confirmed, and he and his men returned to the Destroyer, which stood by waiting for high tide.
In a couple of hours they observed through the glasses that divers from the submarine were going over board and removing the full complement of mines from under the bow of the vessel -- a procedure that was, by no means, devoid of danger.
At high tide the British commander directed the German submarine to get under way, which it did without difficulty, and the submarine intact was delivered to the British port, where every detail of its construction was most carefully examined and studied.
I think this story too affords some grounds for believing that the British do have a sense of humor -- of a kind.