I Was There! - I Turned the Wheel Hard Over and Rammed
On August 16 our M.T.B.s engaged German R-boats in the Straits of Dover and sank or damaged four of them without loss to themselves. Lieut. D. C. Sidebottom, R.N.V.R., who commanded one of our patrols, told the following story of his part in the action to a News Chronicle reporter.
We found the enemy much nearer the coast than usual. That stimulated every man aboard to extra effort. We made for the rearmost ship of the enemy formation and a violent action began.
We came to close quarters and ran into a hail of fire. I realized that my best chance was to ram, and I gave the order accordingly.
As we swept in a burst of pom-pom fire knocked out all four of the men on the bridge with me, including the coxswain at the wheel and my second-in-command. As the wheel swung over when the coxswain fell, the boat's head swung off and we passed under the stern of the German ship.
At the moment I was single-handed on the bridge, so I grabbed the wheel, turned it hard over and rammed. The bow of my boat was forced right into the starboard quarter of the R-boat and we continued to drift on in company.
I tried to signal "stop", but the telegraph was shot away and I had to get a rating to deliver the order. As we stopped the German ship tore herself free and made off. Later reconnaissance showed the vessel was sunk.
The second-in-command of Lieut. Sidebottom's boat said: "Though wounded in the leg by a shell splinter, Lieut. Sidebottom stood at the wheel as coolly as though on manoeuvres. A megaphone he held in his hand throughout the action was riddled by bullets and shell splinters."
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