This story was written in rather difficult circumstances, and subject to frequent interruption. Indeed, when the first chapters appeared in Chambers's Journal early in 1916 the narrative was barely half-finished. Sometimes I almost despaired of ever completing it, for it can perhaps be understood that writing on board a small ship actually at sea in time of war is impossible for more reasons than one.
The reader is cautioned against accepting the story as an official account of the part played by a certain section of the Navy during the war. Incidents described are true; but, for reasons which must be obvious, it has been necessary to give them fictitious colouring. It also seems desirable to add that all my characters are fictitious, and that each chapter was submitted to the censors at the Press Bureau before publication.
It should be added that a considerable amount of matter is contained in this volume which did not appear in Chambers's Journal when the story appeared in serial form.
More than ever am I deeply sensible of the very real debt which I owe to my wife, both for her help in revising and correcting the proofs, and for her many suggestions for improvements.