[From How the Manx Fleet helped in the Great War, 1923]
THE MONAS ISLE was fitted out in September,1915, by Vickers, Ltd., at Barrow, as a net-laying ship, for defence against submarine attack.
Her run from Barrow to Devonport (on the completion of her outfit) was an exciting one as far as the engineers were concerned. They were quite unused to this type of heavy oscillating paddle engines ; the stokers were mainly "green hands ; the weather was very bad, and, at times, it was hardly possible to get steam enough to keep the paddle-wheels moving.
From Devonport the Monas Isle went to the East Coast, remaining on the Harwich station for a considerable time, and doing various work in addition to that for which she was in-tended.
One of her interesting jobs was in connection with the salving of 186,000 from the wreck of a Dutch steamer that had been torpedoed outside the Cork Lightship. The Monas Isle acted as base ship on this occasion, and was lucky enough to recover the whole of this large sum in less than a week.
Having recovered the last of the boxes of gold on board, she did some record steaming to get away from that very unhealthy neighbourhood , for German submarines were particularly active there3 and it is a great wonder they did not catch her.
Although the Monas Isle on this, and on many another, occasion escaped accident herself, she was in the midst of very tragic happenings. On one occasion she was rushed to the scene where two British submarines had been lost with all hands, and she remained there until alihope of saving lives was abandoned.
The service upon which she was engaged, took her all round the British and Irish coasts, her work being very varied. At one time she was patrolling the West Coast of Ireland, waiting for an attempt to he made by the enemy to land arms there ; at another time she assisted in salving guns, etc.,frorn the torpedoed H.M.S. Arethusa. She was sometimes in narrow waters where enemy submarines were most active-; yet seemed to have a charmed life, and finished up at the end of the war with a most satisfactory record.
The machinery of the ?iionas Isle seems to have been a constant source ofwonder to all the Navy men, as, on account of the unusual size of her oscillating low-pressure cylinder, these engines were unique. The diameter of the cylinders was : High-pressure, 65 ins., Low-pressure, 112 ins.: and the length of stroke, 9° ins. lndicated H.P., 4500.
It really was "great to see the ponderous cylinder, weighing, with its moving parts, over forty tons, tumbling about when the engines were making thirty revolutions per n-i in ii te.
I understand that Commander RD. Evans, R.N.,who had been a torpedo officer, with a very good knowledge of machi-nery, loved to show his naval brothers the wonder of these engines, which were the pride of Mr. McWhannell, the chief en gi a eer. -