This is like being a fly on the wall in Ballards planning room prior to finding the Bismarck. Surreal!
This is like being a fly on the wall in Ballards planning room prior to finding the Bismarck. Surreal!
I think you're right the best way to do this is to get together in a pub somewhere in Baltimore in 2016, bring a few reference books, and have at it. The U-Deutschland Centennial that STB is planning down in Maryland for 2016 I think would be the best place to meet. I think we might even get Dwight to show up. Claas and some of the other out-of-towners may be another matter. I would be sure to bring all of my Deutschland and Bremen related paraphernalia. I am sure by that time we would all be in the pub hunched over charts of the North Atlantic arguing our points on where exactly U-Bremen went down. I am sure it will be a couple of days I'll never forget.
See you there,
Scout, at least Ballard had a starting point. However, we’re working on ours. Who knows, maybe we'll be planning an expedition when we meet at the pub. Now where exactly did I put my mini-sub?
You know this is the way it always starts in the movies for people like me. A couple degrees in engineering, a small sub, disillusionment in my government, a bigger sub, an underwater city full of my minions, a few new clear weapons, and the next thing you know, I'm on the road to becoming an Evil Overlord. All I have to say is the world is lucky I don't have enough time to cut my grass let alone plot world domination. BAH, HA, BAH HA HA HA…. (I do have the laugh down pat though).
By the way, every Evil Overlord starts out with a contemplation camber where he makes his Evil plans, as threatened, here's mine…
I hit the wrong button and my last post, posted before I could add the captions or fix the spelling errors. Sorry about that.
The gages are period pieces. Ones just like these were used in Americans submarines.
The painting of the U-boat that includes the postcard is the U-53. The spoon above the frame was from a ship the U-53 sank.
The paintings of U-155 and U-Bremen I commissioned an artist paint for me. He did a fantastic job.
The large black and white photo is a picture of the control room of the U-Deutschland.
Scientific American ran an article on the U-Deutschland back in 1916.
That’s all for tonight folks, have a good evening,
Thank you for the minions; they were just what I needed. They were eager to please and spent most of the day searching the British National Archives for information on U- Bremen. They checked for any information on the logs for British submarine G.13, and the armed merchant cruisers Alsatian and Mantua and had no luck. They also looked into the radio intercepts from Room 40 for the dates in question, again no luck. Either they need to work on their search engines or what we need has not been put into a data base yet. I would've had the minions cut the grass today, however, it was raining. This afternoon, after cursing the futility of search engines, we ordered pizza and beer and started contemplating other ways obtaining our objectives. The minions feel the best way forward would be to write a brief and concise e-mail to the British National Archives politely asking them for some direction. I tend to agree, however, I want to wait and talk to Dwight and see what he has to say about the Alsatian and Mantua. He alluded a few weeks ago to the fact that this may be a closed issue and would like to go over this with him before I have a researcher waste their valuable time trying to track down the dead lead. I knew when we started this it wasn't going to be easy. On the bright side, it still beats cutting grass.
Claas is there any way you can try and track down what's left of the private firm that sponsored the Deutschland and Bremen. Maybe in their archives we could find a copy of the Bremen's cargo manifest. Since were looking for a merchant boat, it would be nice to know what's on board. This way when people ask you, you won't give them a blank look… We are pretty sure there were pharmaceuticals on board but what else is just speculation. If we're lucky, this is one mystery we might be able to nail down. I just don't think I can do it on the side of the Atlantic. If you need some help I now have some minions I could send you. STB is going to try and run some leads down with the help of some friends, but I don't know if he's going to be able to come up with a cargo manifest. It would be good to attack this from two different directions, somebody just may succeed.
You already said you'd come to Baltimore. Well, well. I think I know what it is... you just want someone to hit the Klaxon horn button don't you so that a grand entrance can be gotten up on your behalf. Don't you know we're already rigged for silent running here? >wink - shisssh!< The papers might print what we're about and that would never do.
You guys have been busy while I was gone. I don't want to sound like a spoilsport, but locating the U-Bremen's hulk is going to be virtually impossible given the paucity of information available. In the first place, you need to establish her track from Helgoland to New London, and that's the killer. Many years ago Robert D. Ballard contacted me asking for information on the U-Bremen's route, which I couldn't provide. Apparently he wasn't able to get what he needed and nothing came of his plans to hunt for the wreck. Anyway, here is the problem you're up against.
This is a chart showing the 10th Crusier Squadron's patrol lines, from December 1914 to January 1917. Those auxiliary warships (former civilian liners and freighters) were placed there to block commercial surface traffic from entering and exiting the North Sea carrying goods to and from Germany. As such, they constituted a relatively minor threat to a U-boat of any kind. Never-the-less, the big boats that used the so-called "north about" routes avoided passing through the patrol lines as smuch as possible. Given that, there were two general tracks that the boats followed. One was to go north between the Shetlands and Norway, curving westerly until reaching appx. 70 degrees N and then passing down the Dennmark Strait between Greenland and Iceland. That was the long route. The other, shorter, route was to hook left and pass around the Faroes and the Shetlands and then pass through the gap between the 10th Squadron's "C" and "F" lines, and into the Atlantic. Boats using the that route usually were headed for the Irish Sea. My gut feeling tells me that the U-Deutschland and the Bremen used the safer, long route.
But the only way we would know for sure which route the two boats used would be to see their log books. The Bremen's log book is somewhere on the bottom with the boat, and the Deutschland's log book was reportedly destroyed during WWII. I'm not really sure that it was actually destroyed, but I have been unable to locate it. But the point is, without the log book, there is no way to establish the boat's actual track. And without knowing the track she took, you don't have a clue as to where to look. Dwight
Dwight’s probably hadn't hit dry ground before he was e-mailing me. Once again I have combined his e-mails with my replies in a conversational form:
From Dwight: I did some checking on the points we discussed before I left for our two-week cruise, and this is what I found. As you wrote in a post, there were no guns or firearms aboard the U-Deutschland except a flare gun, which was common to all merchant ships. As for possible causes of the U-Bremen, you have pretty well covered the possibilities in your post # 223.
As for the HMS Alsatian and Mantua having rammed something, it probably didn’t happen. You probably noticed the Gibson & Prendergast didn’t provide a source for that claim, nor did they provide a date or location. I have the official British history of History of the Great War: Naval Operations, London; New York, & Toronto, 5 vols., Longmans, Green & Co., 5 vols., 1920-1931 by Sir Julian S. Corbet and Henry Newbolt. Volume III covers the period, but neither the alleged event nor the ships are even mentioned. I also have the official history of the 10th Cruiser Squadron by E. Keble Chatterton, The Big Blockade, London: Hurst & Blackett, Ltd., 1922. Chatterton spends a lot of time on the HMS Alsatian without one mentioning her ramming anything. Had the event happened, Chatterton would have written it up in detail. The fact that the British government said nothing about it, as you wrote in your post # 223, is a strong indication that it didn’t happen. The British were not about to pass up a propaganda opportunity like that had there been anything to report.
From Steve: Dwight your logic is sound. If either of these two ships had struck the Bremen they would've required extensive repairs. You just don't ram a u-boat at speed and then go back and take up your position in the line unless you’re a Dreadnought. You would be in the North Sea praying to God that your ship would make it the land before it sank. I think in this case, your evidence and conclusion are sound. However, it would only take a few minutes of paging through the logbook of either of these two ships to put the final nail in the coffin, so to speak. As for the books you have listed, I have acquired all of these over the last few years. But have not had a chance to read them yet. There has always been another book that's needed to be read first. I wasn't looking for the Bremen up until a month ago. As I have stated earlier, the book I am planning on writing depends on the Bremen staying lost. If we find it I have no plot.
From Dwight: The only British minefields the boats encountered in the North Sea were mine nets off the Flanders coast and small offensive fields on the northern route outside of the German river mouths and the departure route from Helgoland. Once they reached 55 degrees North they were free of any British mines until mid-1918 when the Northern Barrier was started.
From Steve: If there was any truth to Germany picking up two separate radio transmissions from the Bremen I think it would've been very likely that she made it past the minefields. It is really shaping up to look as if the Bremen sank due to mechanical or structural failure. There is one other small possibility, was the Bremen equipped with a self-destruct system? Most of the U-boats in World War II were equipped with scuttling charges. Did they equip the Bremen with a primitive scuttling system in case it was captured by the British? If it was, there is always the possibility that it failed any catastrophic way.
From Dwight: The code Konig used in his radio messages to Germany was the SKM (Signalbuch der Kaiserlichenmarine) which was the code used by the German Navy. That was the code that Room 40 most often worked with. In one of your posts you asked about the range at which the U-Deutschland or the Bremen could have transmitted and reached Nauen. If the tall masts were rigged, contact from the US east coast was possible, depending on atmospheric conditions. But those masts were not rigged at any time during the U-Deutschland’s stop in Baltimore. They might have been rigged during the crossing, but I don’t know because the boat’s log book as apparently destroyed during WWII. And that brings up another point.
You asked for the name of the company that sponsored the U-Deutschland. Nord Deutsche Lloyd (NLD) was the primary front for the entire project along with the Deutschebank, and the Deutsche Ozean Reederei was the boat’s cover in Baltimore and New London. I have not been able to find the U-Deutschland’s log among the Records of the German Navy, RG-242, and was repeatedly told by the Bundesarchiv that all the records were held by NDL, which wasn’t true since I found the entire history of the boats and the project in RG-242. The difficulty finding records pertaining to the U-Deutschland is that they are scattered among the Records of the German Navy, some in the records of the U-Boat Inspectorate, some in the records of Naval Intelligence, and others in the Etappendiesnt files. The latter are the most difficult to deal with because of the secrecy the unit enjoyed during WWI and after. My gut feeling for years has been that the original U-Deutschland log is somewhere in RG-242, probably in a most unlikely place. The problem is that without the log book, there is no possible hope of determining what her track from Helgoland to Baltimore actually was. And finding the log book, if it does exist in RG-242, would be literally a life-time task. The records group is huge, comprising millions of pages.
From Dwight: I have an explanation for the use of the insurance stamp about which you asked Claas. As I said in an earlier email, it was a postal insurance device that when affixed to the corresponding receipt showed that the holder had insured a letter or package up to a certain amount. The Germans had intended to carry mail between Germany and the US aboard the cargo U-boats, and the early stamps dated 1916 were printed in anticipation of that happening. For several reasons the plan did not work out. The second printing, without the year 1916 printed on the stamps, anticipated an uncertain future date for initiating a mail service, which also didn’t materialize. The stamps had no application with respect to the cargo, which was insured through the Deutschebank.
From Steve: Dwight thanks for the e-mail on the insurance stamp. I appreciate the information. What you got off of the forum was only part of the story. Claas and I were in contact via private e-mail. He was going to try and send me a 250 MB file containing one of the books. Needless to say the entire e-mail system between here and Germany choked then crashed. So what we decided to do was to have Claas just snail-mail me a CD, which am hoping will arrive soon.
From Dwight: Did you contact the British National Archives regarding ROOM 40 intercepts for the period 26 August-18 September? And have you gotten an answer? My guess is that since Konig used the SKM code for his position reports, Schwartzkopf did too.
From Steve: no I haven't sent out e-mail yet. I've been waiting in your input. I am glad I did. I think what I'll try working on now is just having them check on the log from G.13. This encounter is also poorly documented in Edwyn Gray's book. However, you just don't shoot off five expenses torpedoes go home and say your target practicing. The Admiralty will string you by your thumbs. I really think this one deserves a little bit more of a look. If the times and locations matchup there just made me something here. This whole undertakings been a longshot, but I'm willing to take a look.
Now that we know the range of the Deutschland/Bremen's radio I would be curious to know how often the Deutschland checked in with Germany on its crossings. Was there a regular schedule? If they had a regular schedule for checking in and the Bremen lost contact after two messages were sent we could calculate the distance traveled and come up with a rough guess for search area for each of the possible routes it took. There is also the possibility that the Bremen was experiencing radio trouble and that Germany could not receive its signal, but Room 40 may have picked it up. As straightforward as this sounds, it would require much more research in the records. I may need to send my minions.
Dwight, you got me grasping at straws here. Nearly every other ship disappearance in recorded memory has something to go on. The U-Bremen’s story is one of the handful that has absolutely nothing to go on: no distress call, no witnesses, no recorded course, no wreckage, and of course no survivors, bugger! I wanted to write a book of historical fiction, hell science fiction would work just as well!
One last question for you tonight Dwight, you said that Bundesarchiv said all the records were held by NDL. Did you actually check to see if NDL had any records? Or, did you find what you needed in RG-242 and just never get back to NDL??