Into The Great White Open – Introduction - Part two, The Gathering
A Letterstime side story
May 18th 1915 SMS Berlin course south southeast
Second Scouting was on a minelaying mission. Strengthening the Doggerbank fields was their mission. Six modern light cruisers, they ought to receive a strong backup. Yesterday late in the evening Third, First and Second Battlesquadron had left the Jade. Fourth Scouting Group led by SMS Kolberg, acting as Second Leader of Torpedoboats, was the close escort of the Main Body.
Fregattenkapitaen Friedrich Freiherr von Buelow, the CO of SMS Berlin was proudly looking at those Battleships. "The pride of germany navy“.
During the night all 480 mines were successfully laid. Due to strong hints of a British Counteraction, very strange W/T Transmissions were received, the fleet turned in southernly directions at 07:00 am.
May 18th 1915 09:18 am, SMS Danzig , 50 nm northwest of Helgoland
"WHHHHHHHHHHHUUUUUUMMMMMMPF“,SMS Danzig was shaking violenty. In the machinery and boiler rooms it was especially violent. Floorplates were eruting. Electrical fires broke out. Water was dashing in.
"Krumpf, Krompf, Klong, Chrash“, all four big searchlights broke from their platforms and chrashed to the deck. Down came the wireless antennas.
"Scheiße, Treffer“, Fregattenkapitaen Reiß was shouting. "Secure all watertight doors, Lookouts, Torpedostracks in the water“? Chaos everywhere.
The ship did not react to rudder comandos anymore.
"Capitaen, ship is making water through the screw-glands. We need to stop immediately“, the concerned voice of his XO was heard.
"I do not stop my ship unless we are out of danger from more submarine torpedoes“, Reiß was screaming.
"Mine to starboard“, lookouts were shouting. They had run into a newly layed British minefield obviously.
"Stop all engines, prepare to leave the ship“. How he hated this.
But soon a strange calm was overcoming the SMS Danzig, which was not in immediate danger of sinking. She was heavily hit on the stern, with a lot of structural damages, though. (Note )
May 24th1915 SMS Roon course east north east
Yesterday all Aufklaerungsgruppe Ostsee's Armored Cruisers, SMS Prinz Adalbert, SMS Prinz Heinrich and last but not least SMS Roon, had left Danzig. Their escorts, the boats of 20th Halbflottille, were with them. Joined by both fast cruisers, SMS Augsburg and SMS Luebeck and 19th Halbflottille, coming from Memel and Libau respectively, they had sailed north. With them was the Deutschland, not the Predreadnought, but a big auxiliary minelayer with a today's load of 214 mines.
Their mission was to complete minefields in the entrance of the Gulf of Finland. April 15th, in her first such operation this year, Deutschland had laid the first of three planned big fields.
"Luebeck and Augsburg are detached to cover the Deutschland, bon yoyage“, Ziethen was commenting the fact, that they had to stay behind again. They ought to act as distant cover force. Should the Russians come out though, they would beat hard. And fast.
"Follow the flaggship on her course change to west southwest, helmsman course 220“, Ziethen commanded.
The Russian Baltic Fleet would soon win back her fighting prowess, normally lost during the long winter period of immobility due to the ice.
"Kapitaenleutnant Hoehne, our strongest adversary in First Cruiser Brigade will be the Rjurik, as was fact last year. Should it come to a fighting, we as trail snail will in all likeliness have to face one of the remaining two modern Bajan – Class Armored cruisers“ (Note )
"These Bajans are not faster as we are, but weaker armed as our Roon. Your task will be to blow one of them up and shift fire to Rjurik, to help the SMS Prinz Adalbert which surely has to face her. We will have to knock out the Admiral Makarow fast. Let us prey that the Protected Cruisers Bogatyr and Oleg will not be part of a sortie. They are much superiour to SMS Augsburg and SMS Luebeck. In everything than speed, that is“, Ziethen later finished an unusually long monologue, his officers standing around him on the bridge.
Hoehne made glances to Findert, his XO, "saying“ as much as “As if I do not know these facts“.
"If we are to meet their second cruiser brigade, consisting of the much older and obsolescent AC's Gromoboi and Rossija and the protected Cruisers Awrora and Diana, we will be in a much better situation“.
"I do not expect to meet their Linienschiffe (Note ), in all likelyness it will be the First Cruiser Brigade“, he finished finally.
Deutschland managed to lay all her "eggs“ unmolested. No Russian ship showed up.
"No party today, we'll have to reinvite“, Michael Hoehne said to Andreas Findert, later that evening.
"You can not await action, can you“, Findert was a bit upset. "Michael, your time will come“, he continued, wondering if Mike might get the double meaning. That one only smiled.
May 30th1915 North Sea, ship Meteor
SMS Muenchen was turning about. "Funny“, Korvettenkapitaen von Knorr, was thinking by himself. "They found our little ship that suspicious and boarded us. Seems that secrecy had worked“.
Working together with two U-Booten, U – 19, Kapitaenleutnant Kolbe and U – 35 Kapitaenleutnant Kophamel, had left Wilhelmshaven yesterday. Both boats of course were far further north to scout against the British, so they could not intervene here. "And needn't to“, he thought on.
Von Knorr had commisioned the Meteor May 6th, she was a former British prize ship named Vienna.
This night they will reach the norvegian coast near Lindesnes, following U – 19 to Utsire. So this little steamer passed through that area, were world's greatest Seabattle will take place one day ahead. Of course von Knorr did not know of these future events.
June 1st SMS Albatross bridge, near Schillig Reede, steering way
Fregattenkapitaen West was in a state of shock.
Yesterday morning he had left Wilhelmshaven shortly after Second Battlesquadrons Predreadnoughts. He followed the trail ship, the newest one of those, the SMS Schleswig-Holstein to the outer roads near Schillig-Reede. There they awaited the possible order to lay tactical minefields, should there be a need for them. Sistership SMS Nautilus had left Cuxhaven as well. And SMS Arcona was waiting in the Ems river mouth. They always took these positions when the Hochseeflotte or Erste Aufklaerungsgruppe went to sea.
In the afternoon and evening hours lots of W/T messages were heard. A massive battle was taking place in the Skagerrak. Soon they were joined here at the Reede by all four in Wilhelmshaven available coastal batlleships, SMS Aegir, SMS Odin, SMS Beowulf and SMS Hagen.
The other four Siegfrieds were guarding the Elbe or the Ems respectively, two each. Fourth Battlesquadron, left behind as mostly, was marching forward to Helgoland, lead by SMS Braunschweig.
The battle seems to go increasingly well. Sturdee's Battlecruisers were receiving the pounding they needed after Falkland. Soon three of them were reported as sunk. Fregattenkapitaen West so longed to be there, but Albatross was no ship of the line.
Later it was heard that at least one more of those Britisher BC's went down. The clash of both Mainbody's, "How could it have come to that“, seems to be going much better than feared.
"The British are retreating“, Kapitaenleutnant Buehler entered the bridge, the newest message in his hands, "They flee“. That fact seems to be an impossiblility this morning, a lifetime ago.
Then came the night, which passed very quickly. Then the first ships came into sight. And with them the real horror.
A few dreadnoughts showed little or no damage, but the vast majority had clearly been hotly engaged. Smoke marks, holes, torn metal, etc. were in evidence on so many ships. SMS Nassau was heavily down by the bow, and SMS Deutschland by the stern. SMS Koenig listed heavily, burned all over. The battlecruisers were in better shape, but SMS Bluecher was looking horrible. Many of the small cruisers were heavily damaged, especially those of Fourth Scouting Group.
"Heavens above, where are all those many Hochseetorpedoboote, are these few all that is left“? West was finally speaking.
"If this is a victory, it is a Victory's nightmare“.
June 2nd SMS Roon's bridge, morning
"There she goes“, Korvettenkapitaen Andreas Findert commented the fact that SMS Augsburg was leaving their formation with high speed in westernly direction.
Through his binoculars, standing on the port bridgewing, he watched the fastly receding form of their former companion.
"That battle out there in the north sea, two days ago, must be the real reason for it“, he speculated on. "Do you have heard any details“? he addressed his Kapitaen.
"Not that much, must be a stunning victory of Admiral Letters, again. Heard they sunk at least four of the remaining five Battlecruisers, and some Dreadnoughts as well. And many lighter forces“, Ziethen replied to his XO.
"Our losses must have been severe as well, especially with the Scouting Forces“, he concurred with the opinion of Findert. "Soon we will hear details, I am sure of it“.
June 3rd SMS Roon's bridge, northwest of Lyserort, course north
They have had to change their mission plan. Without SMS Augsburg available, only SMS Luebeck, now with two Hochseetorpedobooten, S 148 and S 139, was able to scout north. All three were patroling at the entrance of "Finnischer Meerbusen“ (Note ), to hinder possible ambushes of the Russian Baltic Fleet.
Kontreadmiral Hopmann and his three Armored Cruisers, accompanied by three Hochseetorpedobooten, was altering in between rendering assistance to SMS Luebeck and guarding the Irben Strait. That strait was located between the big island of Oesel and the Kurland coast. Lookouts were more than alerted, because SMS Thetis was twice attacked unsuccessfully by submarines yesterday. At the moment they were on a northern sweep, for the Gulf of Riga had been reported free of enemy ships.
SMS Thetis was close support for the planned minelaying operation of the 19th Torpedobooot-Halbflottille, G 135, S 126, S 131 and S 130, each carrying 12 mines. Those should pester the Irben Strait. Accompanying Second Minensuchdividion as vanguard already had entered the strait and started sweeping. Seaplane carrier Glyndwyr, escorted by Torpedoboat V 108, stood nearby.
"Thetis has just signaled, mines clear for laying“, Ziethen was informed by his W/T officer.
"So it starts again, let us hinder our russian minelaying friends“, Ziethen said.
Minutes were trickling by.
"Glyndwyr's aircraft reports two big smoke plumes, one near Zerel, a big warship with one stack and another big plume, consisting of sixteen destroyers near Pissen (note ). They are advancing to the mouth of the strait“, the alarmed voice of the Second Officer, the blond, very germanic looking Kapitaenleutnant Jens Trapp, carrying the message, was heard.
"Verdammt, signals from the flaggship“? Ziethen was upset. "Let us hope no torpedo mass attack will take place“. And adding to Findert, "We are too far north for rendering assistance“. Damned, had the Russians waited for them steaming north again before coming out to give battle?
"Fregattenkapitaen Ziethen, signals from SMS Prinz Adalbert, change course south, all ahead“, this time Findert was relaying the message.
"Another message from Thetis, she has recalled II. Minensuchdividion and Glyndwyr. Thetis and the 19th Halbflottille will cover the retreat“, once again Trapps voice from inside the bridge. Ziethen was on the port bridgewing looking through his binoculars. He spotted the aircraft on the far horizon.
Roon had once again proved to be the fastest of those three Armored Cruisers. When they arrived at the mouth of the Irben Straits, the Russians long had retreated. Obviously they feared even the artillery of SMS Thetis, for they clearly stood out of range.
Next day, after a recoaling of the Armored Cruisers by supply ship Dora Hugo Stinnes, finally the torpedoboats were able to lay their mines at the destined places. Ironically the Torpedoboats could not recoal due to the mines on deck.
June 7th Barents Sea, Ship Meteor
"Mines away“, von Knorr's voice echoed from the bridge. They had passed the Northcape two days ago, after an uneventful voyage. U – 19 was long being detached to attack Britisch commerce and warships north of the British Isles. U – 35 was detached even earlier, but both U-Boote had made excellent scouts. Nobody had seen them and their unsuspicious litte steamer.
It was still yery cold up north, water temperature was only 0.5 degrees celsius at the moment. Just some hours ago they saw some fishing boats under sail, that means that icing situation is improving. Archangel will receive cargo soon, if the allied supply operations not had already started.
"We'll help you with some cargo of our own“, von Knorr thought, seeing Cape Gorodezki in the distance.
"That was the last one“, the XO told von Knorr. "We laid all of our 285 mines in ten seperate fields“.
"Very well“, that one replied.
"Steamer on the port side“, the alarmed voice of one of their lookouts was audible.
That ship appeared out of the fog, but seemingly taking no notice, for it sailed on with north notheasternly course on to Archangel. Vision was improving greatly now.
"Soon they will reach the outscirts of minefield X“, many binoculars followed that about 800 tons displacing ship.
The steamer's bow seems being lifted out of the water. A huge fountain erupted. "WHUMMMMMMPFFF“ the dull detonation was audible in the distance. When the water and mist finally settled seconds later, the little ship was being seen listing heavily to port, down by the bow. In less than a minute it capsized. All was silent, no sound. With a high raised stern it disappeared very quickly beneath the waves.
"They did not use wireless“, the WT-Officer called the bridge. "Hardly had the time for it“.
Hours earlier they had watched two much larger vessels, displacing about 5.000 tons, one of them clearly British, runnig into field III. and V. respectively. They had not watched their sinking due to the ever existing fog, but there could be no doubt about their fate. (Note )
June 16th SMS Albatross, bridge, early morning
"I am not sure they know what they really want“, Fregattenkapitaen West informed his XO, Kapitaenleutnant Buehler, about a just received new written order.
"We ought to remain in the North Sea, shall train our crew intensively, go to the dock soon and stay ready for action beginning of July. Take a look at it“.
"What is that about“?, Buehler, after taking the papers and reading it, replied in earnest, "thought we should deploy to the Baltic to join "Aufklaerungsgruppe Ostsee“ the day after tomorrow. Those orders were from Großadmiral Heinrich Prinz von Preussen, the Oberbefehlshaber der Ostseestreitkraefte (Note ), himself“.
To improve the quality and intensity of German Baltic minelaying, the former order had arrived on board SMS Albatross June 7th, they ought starting the first mine sortie in June's third decade.
The SMS Albatross was launched October 23rd 1907 by AG Weser in Bremen. Commissioned in Summer 1908 after her completion May 19th, she was quite a new ship. On trials she had reached 20.7 knots.
That fact rendered her obsolete for modern missions with the fleet and her armament of 8 x 8,8 cm L/35 was now considered being too week to defend herself against those plenty available British light and small cruisers.
That seemed not to be the case last summer, when SMS Albatross together with her sister SMS Nautilus had laid mines more than once. First, SMS Albatross, accompanied by SMS Stuttgart had contaminated the Tyne river mouth, that one of the Humber was contaminated by sister SMS Nautilus and SMS Mainz. Mission had started August 22nd late in the evening and was completed August 26th, when all ships came home unscathed. However, two days later SMS Mainz was sunk.
A second sortie had started September 9th, when a minefield was laid in the "Bight“, to hinder further disasters like that British attack, which eventually had sunk the SMS Mainz, SMS Coeln and SMS Ariadne. Both "fast“ minelayers together with the auxiliary minelayer Kaiser, had been accompanied by Third Scouting units SMS Roon and SMS Prinz Adalbert and two small cruisers.
So they ought to stay in the North Sea. "A new mission, will boredom being ended soon“?
June 16th SMS Prinz Adalbert, Admirals Quarters, noon
"Kapitaen Ziethen, Sir“, the officer of the watch was leading Fregattenkapitaen Ziethen to the rooms of Kontreadmiral Hopman.
Ziethen entered the room, Kapitaen zur See Michelsen, the CO of SMS Prinz Adalbert was there as well, standing to the right of the admirals desk. Both of Hopman's Staff Officers, Korvettenkapitaen Seidensticker and Kapitaenleutnant Gercke were there, too. They were standing in the back of the room.
The officer of the watch was leaving, closing the door. "Admiral Hopman, melde mich wie befohlen zur Stelle“, (Note ) Ziethen saluted in front of his commander, standing in attention.
"My dear Ziethen, please stand at ease“, the pleasant voice of Germany's youngest admiral was audible. "I ordered my Flaggkapitaen and my staff here as well, for I have urgent matters to discuss“.
Ziethen greeted first his colleague Michelsen and then both younger officers. In the past weeks they had grown to know each other quite well.
"Meine Herren, please be seated“, Hopmann continued. "I called you together to discuss the tactical situation and to inform you about some quite important changes“.
So the meeting began, charts and maps presented by the flagg officers.
"Beginning this month we "lost“ our only true fast cruiser, the SMS Augsburg, which alone has more value for his theater of war, due to her high speed, than all other small cruisers combined“, Hopman's voice was heared.
"To compensate for that "loss“ the former Kuestenschutzverband Ostsee unit, the SMS Undine, came under my command“.
"The Augsburg is on a special mission and is unlikely to return this summer. My superior, Großadmiral Prinz Heinrich von Preussen tasked us with improving our Baltic minefields, to hinder russian efforts in this regard. Therefore he ordered a true fast minelayer, the SMS Albatross to join my command as well. However, this is not going to happen, as a new order is stating. This order arrived this morning. We have to go along with the auxiliary minelayer Deutschland, as we did in the past. Our second fast cruiser, the SMS Luebeck, was fitted for minelaying this spring. Unfortunately she is leaving my command today“.
A murmur was audible from the small audience.
"Sir, what do we do without fast scouts“? Kapitaen zur Seen Michelsen asked. "Do we receive replacements, for instance the SMS Bremen“?
"No, the Kaiserschlacht so thinned our screen units, that all modern or nearly modern cruisers, and that includes the Bremen – Class, are to remain in the North Sea. But let me continue“, he glanced at the audience.
"The just mentioned Kaiserschlacht had made clear to some, that Predreadnoughts have no more place in modern fleet engagements. Second Battle Squadron has lost the SMS Hessen due to artillery damage and SMS Schleswig-Holstein due to torpedo damage. The heavily damaged SMS Deutschland is going to be repaired, no matter what rumor you might have heard. We will not let a ship with that name let rusting or being not well maintained, let alone scrap her. But she will be in dockyard hands during the summer. What will happen to the five other survivors of that squadron is not yet decided“.
"What is decided though is that Fourth Battle Squadron with the five Wittelsbach – Class ships and the two Braunschweig – Class ships is going to be transferred to the Baltic permanently. Maybe the rest of Second Battle Squadron is joining as well. The fact remains that our escorts are too few for even those already available units. Some voices advocate for a use of them in Flanders. Let us see what will be“.
"My old unit SMS Wittelsbach is joining us“, Ziethen thought. They have had some short spells in the Baltic in the past. "Now they are to stay permanently“.
"So we are augmented by some Battleships. Ooh“,he hesitated a short moment, "I forgot telling you about the reentering service of SMS Brandenburg and SMS Woerth. They are to be transfered to Libau, where they are to remain as floating batteries, should the Russians dare to return“, Hopman added, slightly speeding up. "Their crews are to be reduced after the transfer, but will remain large enough for that role“.
"We are further to receive all other four Gazelle -Class small cruisers additionally to our ever active companion SMS Thetis. Unfortunately to another loss, of which I am to speak soon, we have to let SMS Undine go, what a shame“.
"Admiral“, Flaggkapitaen Michelsen burst in once again, "that is leaving us with only old slow cruisers, whose only strength is in numbers. They are inferior even to the two Russian Auroras, not mentioning the two Bogatyrs. They have to struggle to reach more than 18 knots“.
"And Kontreadmiral Mischke, the commander of Kuestenschutzdivision Ostsee will lose all big units. I can imagine him fuming“, he continued. "Will he receive the SMS Undine back“?
"Right as ever you are, my dear Michelsen. No, SMS Undine is going to the North Sea, as is SMS Luebeck. Kontreadmiral Mischke is receiving two of the late last autumn decommisioned Protected Cruisers of the Victoria Luise – Class, they will be permanently stationed in Kiel. In all likeliness those will be SMS Victoria Luise and SMS Vineta. They will reenter service these days. Until then his flagg will remain on SMS Amazone, which will join us finally as last unit. Kuestenschutzverband Nordsee will receive the former small cruisers, now rerated as gunboats, SMS Condor and SMS Seeadler“.
"That is not everything which is done to bring the Kaiserliche Flotte to fullest possible strength. Gunboat C, launched as SMS Meteor will in all likeliness being completed soon, she was launched in January, but worked stopped after her launching for the time being. She will support SMS Panther guarding the straits. We can expect her to be ready end of August“.
"His Majesty's Kaiser Wilhelm the Second newbuilding yacht, the SMS Hohenzollern, launched end of September last year and stoppped thereafter, too, will now being completed at AG Vulkan in Stettin in a modified form as a cruiser - fast minelayer hybrid. It was a shame that work on her did not resume earlier, for machinery and boilers were already completed. She will be ready for service late in Autumn. But no more details on that, now“.
"You see, we are activating all available assets, to augment our strength. Hope that will make a change in the next months“.
"Ahh“, another hesitation, cuppled with a strange look, "and SMS Freya will be recommissioned as artillery training cruiser as well“.
"But, sorry to interrupt you“, Ziethen was speaking before thinking, "there is SMS Kaiserin Augusta acting exactly in that role. I know the fact, because she relieved SMS Bluecher when war broke out“.
"Ziethen, you are my artillery specialist, I lured you into this trap“, Hopmann was smiling but with a sad hint in his eyes. "Of cource I knew you where SMS Bluecher's Artillery Officer until last summer. To be honest, SMS Kaiserin Augusta, old but quite fast as she still is, will replace, in my formation“, an unusual third reluctance, "your SMS Roon“.
"???,“ Ziethen was stunned. "Replacing.....my....Roon“, his mind raced. "Admiral, I do not understand“, the words where slowly returning, finally.
"No, my good Ziethen, that you can not understand, but, to be honest, finally now I begin to understand. At the end of this meeting, you will receive your instructions. The details are not for this audience“.
The rest of this meeting, about one more hour, could not being recalled by Ziethen later, it went by in a blur.
Finally, both were alone.
"Thank you for your valuable statements and hints“, Kontreadmiral Hopmann commented, after some moments of silence. "Here, take this glass of Whisky, it is from an english friend. Received it before this war began“.
Ziethen took the glass, taking a nose, finally taking a sip.
"You are to leave my command immediately after we finish this meeting. You are bound for Kiel and will be escorted by SMS Luebeck and SMS Undine. I can not spare any Torpedoboote. After a brief stay in Kiel you are to sail to Hamburg, where SMS Roon will be drydocked. See to the fact that your ship is thoroughly refitted. It is unusual a fact, that you receive a high priority drydock refit, when all these damaged ship's after that big batte we call now "Die Kaiserschlacht“ are awaiting their repair. You are detached, now“.
"Do you have an idea what my mission will be, then“? Ziethen was interrogating.
"No, I can not help you there. But I am sure you will get further orders, soon“.
"Ziethen, you were my best commander and I am leaving my best ship. All luck to you and your command. The Almighty may see to your save return“.
He finally had said goodbye to Kapitaen zur See Michelsen as well, when he had left SMS Prinz Adalbert. His mind was reeling.
Soon he was back on Roon. "Korvettenkapitaen Findert are to report to my rooms immediately“, he told the officer of the watch. "Boilers on two hours notice“.
Only few seconds after he reached his rooms, Findert was showing up.
"Korvettenkapitaen Findert, as requested“, he saluted.
"Andreas, please stand relieved and take a seat. We are detached“, it burst out before Findert was finally sitting. He clearly could see the question in his XO's face.
"Detached. We are to proceed to Kiel immediately, and from there to Hamburg. We are to receive a dockyard refit at Blohm & Voss“.
"What is that all about, we already had one in April before we joined Kontreadmiral Hopman's command“, Findert was replying. "We are not due for one yet. What will be our task afterwards“?
"To be honest, no idea at the moment“, Ziethen could give no other answer. "Could it be that we are to replace damaged High Seasf Feet units? Must be something in that direction“.
"You mean our Roon in a role similar to SMS Bluecher“? Findert, always the good analyst, had a sharp look in his eyes.
"Anyway, Andreas please look that we are to prepare to get underway. I have the feeling every minute counts now“. Findert left his room.
"Back to Kiel and on to Hamburg, Dockyard refit, Detached“. He felt so tired and awoke same time.
June 17th Kiel quay, about midday
Wilhelm Wudtke, together with about 20 new recruits and about the same number of old "Seebaeren“ (Note) was awaiting the "Fastening“ of his new swimming home.
Yesterday, standing in "Achtung, Stillgestanden“ (Note ) in his Kiel barracks, he had heard the commando: "Matrose Wudtke, vortreten“, of course he had done that, stepping forward. "You are to be commanded to SMS Roon. What a shame, that Roon is not a sailing vessel, you might speed one of those“, his Oberbootsmann had told him. "Always this teasing“, he thought.
But with this one it was logical. One day, after a gruesome march, his "educator“ had commanded: "Wudtke, clean my boots“.
"Oberbootsmann Hering, one question“, he had answered.
"From the inside and the outside“?
"Wudtke, what a question“, that one has bellowed. "Of course, next question and you keep double watch“.
So he had taken out his shoe paste and blackened the "Stiefel“ from the inside as well. Next morning there was a heavy "detonation“ heard from Oberbootsmann Hering. Wilhelm was lucky that Leutnant zur See Schneider, his company CO, had overheard that evening “conversation“ and came to Wudtkes rescue.
"That roar was heard in Copenhagen“, Thomas Bornhold, one of his room mates was joking later. Still Wilhelm's cheek was red and hurting. "But that was worth it“.
Now he was standing here and was watching that BIG vessel coming along. "Clemens, look, she has four stacks, can you see“? he told his comrade. "Mensch Willi, am I exited“, Clemens Bock repeated both to Wudtke and Bornhold. The fourth from their group, Axel Strehl, said nothing at all.
At least these four room-mates remained from their former platoon. Wilhelm Wudtke was glad about that fact.
In the distance a small, unsuspicious looking steamer, was nearing the quay as well.
June 17th Kiel quay, afternoon, ship Meteor
They had come home, at last. On their way back, still in the Barents Sea, they had have an encounter with a large grey hulled steamer, which they had thought must be an auxiliary cruiser. Obviously they were overlooked or underrated by that ship. Nothing had happened.
They had sighted that ship next morning again, in distance for their own eighteight guns, but that one had again taken no notice. Their task was commerce warfare in these waters, but weather was to bad for using boats. So they had wisely sailed on south, leaving that big one unmolsted. Or vice versa.
Passing again undetected both British patrol lanes, the first one between Stadlandet and the Shetlands and the second further south, between Lindesnes and the Orkney's, they had reached the Skagerrak in the morning of June 14th. He had made a long W/T transmission when reaching the Kattegat later that day, reporting their experience.
Sinking two ships in the Kattegat and taking one prize ship was their final reward for this nearly three week journey.
June 17th,Kaiserliche Werft Wilhelmshaven, Dock
"There they are, my new babies,“ Fregattenkapitaen Friedrich Freiherr von Buelow, greatly satisfied, watched the freshly arrived new main guns.
After the towing home of sister SMS Danzig and their arrival in Wilhelmshaven, exactly one month ago, the long planned and delayed Werftliegezeit finally began. Especially boilers and machinery had to be maintained intensively. They had been in bad need of that overhaul.
SMS Berlin, build at Kaiserliche Werft Danzig, was launched September 22nd 1903 as the third unit of the Bremen - Class. Commissioned April 4th 1905, SMS Berlin was involved in the famous "Panthersprung to Agadir“ (Note ) during the Summer of 1911, when France took over Morocco, against strong German interrest and protests. Her first active career ended October 29th 1912, when her crew was transferred to the brand new small cruiser SMS Strassburg.
"So I have had recommissioned this old lady after the war broke out August 17th. Have been with Fourth Scouting Group and in outpostal role since then, being mostly in the North Sea, with one sweep to the Baltic in September 1914“, von Buelow remembered. They had remained there until October 1914, time being used to train the crew, most of whom being reservists, though not the bad trained ones.
Due to this maintenance refit they missed "Die Kaiserschlacht“, a fact which made von Buelow's blood boil. Had they been there, maybe they could have at least saved their sister SMS Hamburg from sinking. The knife fight with British light units must have been murderous. Buelow was so upset, that even he realized that his treatment of his XO, Korvettenkapitaen Walter Hildebrand, was far from being fair. At least he had made his best efforts to finish the necessary refit. But that had simply lasted too long. So his first sinking of the "Britishers“ will have to happen still. "Will get them by the balls“ an unusual rude thought entered his mind.
Then came June 5th and with that day everything seemed to change. He had received new orders, the overhaul would be changed to a complete rebuilding, incorporating some recently learned lessons. When he saw the list of the planned changes, which by far exceeded that of recently recommissioned sister SMS Bremen, he wondered whether he would ever command Berlin in sea again. His promotion to Kapitaen zur See was due very soon, anyway. Perhaps he would soon command one of those Dreadnoughts or Grosse Kreuzer, maybe the SMS Luetzow, which should enter service soon.
Most of his crew would remain on board until June 20th, to help the yard crews. Then SMS Berlin would officially be decommissioned. Crew would disperse quickly. Thereafter. The Fleet was ever hungry for crews and or replacements, especially after DK.
"SMS Berlin would be a very valuable asset after this rebuilding anyway. A good way to improve the abilities of these slowly growing obsolescent small cruisers“, the just arriving Walter Hildebrand was addressed.
"Much is left to do, let's get it on. By the way, aren't those pretty big ones“?
A courier was arriving.
June 18th Hamburg, Blohm & Voss Yard, late evening
"Docking completed, Sir“, the clear voice of Korvettenkapitaen Andreas Findert stated.
Roon's XO was regarded as highly valuable for Roon and for every mission, not only by Fregattenkapitaen Uwe Ziethen, but also by the Roon's Corps of Officers, and of course the NCO's as well. He was a tall, but very slim man, in his 1 meter eighties, and his black, curly hair started to gray at some places. His cheeks, most of the time with a blackish blue hue, due to his strongly growing beard. Findert maintained a very strict discipline, but was a fair man, who in his heart hated violence, at least unnecessary one. His speeches where short and to the point, sometimes his sarcasm was feared.
"Someday soon, he will have his own command, if we survive that long“, Ziethen was sure about it. His report would be supporting that.
Roon, again accompanied by SMS Undine, had left Kiel yesterday late in the evening, steaming the short way to the Holtenauer Schleuse and entered the "Kaiser-Wilhelm-Kanal“. The visit of Kiel was a short one, some new crew members had boarded the vessel. For about twenty of those it was their first command.
"Not that many new, unexperienced Matrosen (Note ), Andreas, those few will fit well into the existing structure“, Ziethen had commented the scenery. "Try your best, to get our new "guests“ acquainted to their new situation. We'll have to rely on each and every crew member“.
"Completely understood, Uwe. Will do my best. During the channel drive I will read the reports of those“, Findert's answer still circled through Ziethen's mind. "For the old ones I have tasks tomorrow morning, but now all should get used to their new environment“. Findert had left.
To enter at Holtenau and leaving at Brunsbuettel takes a transfer of about twelve hours. At Brunsbuettel, after leaving the locks and entering the Elbe river, he saw the silhuettes of two Siegfried - Class coastal defence vessels in the distance, guarding the Elbe estuary, which was many kilometers wide at the mouth.
From Brunsbuettel up the Elbe to Hamburg took about three hours with reduced speed. Reentering Hamburg was making Ziethen's heart jump with joy. He was living in a small city, about 20 kilometers northeast of the city center, already in Schleswig-Holstein.
"What an irony, both SMS Hamburg and SMS Schleswig-Holstein sunk at "Die Kaiserschlacht“. The former was riddled to shreds from British artillery, the latter receiving first one, then a second torpedo from attacking destroyers. She exploded after the second hit, leaving no survivors. Even without that explosion she would have been gone, anyway. No Predreadnought survives that amount of underwater damage“, unpleasant thoughts were trying to spoil the happiness.
Hamburg harbor, as usual, was full of ships, though not that amount of moving ones as in peacetime. "Long gone, quick fading memories“, there was the sadness again. "Hope we see the lights going on again, after this war“.
The promised tugs were not there, so they had to wait a bit to enter drydock. Ziethen, accompanied by Korvettenkapitaen Findert and Kapitaenleutnant Hoehne on the starboard bridgewing, had plenty of time to watch the really busy activities at Blohm & Voss. Many damaged warships being repaired were visible.
"Look over there“, a massive keel and quite parts of the outer skin was being erected there, "Surely one of those new powerful battlecruisers of the Ersatz Victoria Luise – Class“, Ziethen lectured. "Probably it is the May 1914 authorized Ersatz Victoria Luise herself. She was laid down this January“.
"Over there, a second keel is visible“, this one clearly in the first stages of building. "Judging the length, she seems to be the same class“, Michael Hoehne replied.
"That must be the Ersatz Freya, that one was authorised with the "Erste Kriegsfonds“ (Note) August 1914. She was laid down a month ago. Blohm & Voss is building two of this class“.“Ziethen again explained.
Of course none of those two newbuilds where named yet.
"Two such big ships in the same yard seems not that senseful“, Findert joined the conversation. "They must slow the process of building“.
"Well, they are not the only ones being build. You see, we have lost four Armored Cruisers to date. Therefore in spring, shortly after Doggerbank, they authorised four replacements, the Ersatz Friedrich Carl, the Ersatz York, the Ersatz Scharnhorst and the Ersatz Gneisenau. And one additional Großer Kreuzer, I will name him Ersatz Vineta for a better name, is to be added due to the "Flottengesetz“ in this fiscal year. That makes six or seven big units. Although none other than those two seem to been laid down. It will take its time, I think in autumn two more will be laid down, though sure not here at Blohm & Voss. And the final three will being laid next winter. Then we have an additional one for fiscal year 1916, the Ersatz Hansa. Which brings numbers to eight, but that is "Zukunftsmusik“. (Note )
"The Ersatz Hertha, (Note ) a sistership of Viceadmiral Letters SMS Derfflinger, being build at Kaiserliche Werft Wilhelmshafen, will surely be launched this summer. When SMS Luetzow, formerly known as Ersatz Kaiserin Augusta, will enter service, I hope. These ships are the only ones with a fair chance of supporting First Scouting Group, before the unforeseeable future begins“. Ziethen mused on.
Surprised looks from both his fellow officers were exchanged.
Finally Findert spoke again. "I wonder whether that makes sense, new buildings will at least take three years to complete, if they are sized like those two. They must a least displace THIRTYTHOUSEND tons. I wonder if we have the stamina to fight that long. War should be over then by long“.
"Andreas, as usual you are a good observer. I think we need them for the war after this one“.
Ziethen had ended that philosophical discussion, not being able to press on with his bothering thoughts. More urgent things were awaiting them, as the tugs arrived.
Soon after that he was commanded to Hafenkommandantur Hamburg (Note ). There he received a sealed message from the admiralty, reading that he will soon to command a small, independent force of ships, units have to be defined yet. Therefore he will temporarily be regarded as acting Kommodore, but not being advanced to such a rank.
"So I am not to replace damaged SMS Bluecher as High Sea's scouting force“, as Andreas Findert, supported by Michael Hoehne, had frequently guessed.
"I am sure to receive the SMS Undine, she is our companion too long now for being a coincidence“. He finally informed his future "Flagg Officer“, about the new developements. Findert now was sure they would go out on commerce warfare in the Atlantic. Hoehne was soon speculating as well about a yoyage to the states.
June 24th SMS Roon, Blohm und Voss dockyard
Meanwile it was clear that SMS Albatross and SMS Undine will be part of his new commando. The former was being overhauled at AG Vulkan in Hamburg. Fregattenkapitaen West and Korvettenkapitaen Windmueller had reported to him three days ago.
"A minelayer being part of my fleet, so there will probably be no commerce warfare in the first place. And it would be no pestering of the Baltic as well, otherwise they would have stayed in the Baltic for their refits. Where will we go, laying mines in the British Patrol lanes“?
"We will be probably to slow for such a mission“. Ziethen, alone in his chambers, was looking at a map of the northern Atlantic. His glances wandered east.
"No, it will probably more than a hit and run mission. We are already too strong for that. This intensive refit is unnessessary for a short mission“. He had learned much about the landwarfare during his Baltic excursions.
"Support and Logistics are the key. Will we go up north and than that far east? Dantes Prayer“!
When he returned from Hafenkommandantur Hamburg he knew that he had fast to decide what should be done in the short periode of docking. Normally all what should been done would need a much longer timeline. Roon's more than 700 members strong crew would greatly augment the dockyard workers to achieve best possible results. He was not at all happy about that short timeframe.
"Later one will say, why did he had not done this and why has he done that“, he lamented to the already unnerved Findert. But his optimism returned soon.
"Gentlemen, the priorities are hull cleaning, seals, screws, and rudder work. Roon's four 45 cm underwater torpedo tubes will be checked intensively. And bring all weapons to highest possible readyness. We might need them soon“, he had told his officers and NCO's.
"Sir, Korvettenkapitaen Wilhelm von Hippel, CO of SMS Arcona wants to report to you“, his Third Officer, Oberleutnant zur See Sven Harksen, coming from Apenrade in northern Schleswig, informed Ziethen.
July 01st SMS Roon, late morning, course west northwest
They were leaving Hamburg, SMS Undine followed about four cable-lengths behind the "flaggship“, followed by SMS Albatross.
The staying at Blohm & Voss Yard brought very busy and work intensive days for all of the crew. Especially the boilers and the machinery was intensively overhauled. When drydocked the hull was cleaned and overhauled as well. Ziethen did not know the fact that same was being done with SMS Berlin.
Wilhelm Wudtkes task those days was the maintaining of one of their three big screws. He had polished the blades as if they were his favorite sewing equipment. This big new ship worried and facinated him, he was not completely sure in which direction he should decide.
When not working on the screws and the hull, he was trained in his new "Gefechtsstation“ (Note ), the port searchlight directly above the port bridgewing, shortly in front of the first stack. His "normal“ task would be a lookout there. The massive forward fighting mast, which loomed just about five meters further to the bow, was frequently drawing his glances. "It must be better to look from there, from this hight "scouting“ must be much more intensive“, he frequently told his comrades.
Those July days were hot, so Wilhelm did not being bothered whether his fighting station might be warm or cold during normal circumstances.
Ziethen and Roon's first Artillery Officer Hoehne were both more than pleased that their fire control equipment was modernized as well, especially the optics for the turret commanders, which in the past were hindered by their weakness in twilight. Now they had at least a chance of hitting something at really long range. Micheal Hoehne was training his crew mercilessly.
"New equipment needs new way's of training“, Hoehne was repeating time after time.
"I want one of our four new 08 MG's mounted permanently on each bridgewing“, Ziethen advised his second artillery officer, Oberleutnant zur See Christian Knothe. "See to it, immediately“!
"Yes, Sir“, he saluted and dashed off.
Ziethen was watching the "Michel“ (Note ) slowly disappearing on the starboard side. Then Blankenese with the "Suelberg“ (Note ) came into view some times later on the same side. "Living there in peacetime, that must be a dream“, Ziethen was thinking.
Ziethen has visited his family "estate“ in that little town in Schleswig-Holstein only for one short afternoon. No more time could be spared. Transfer time was under one hour by train, from "door to door“. He was living in a house with a nice garden, the great love of his wife Doris. Together they have three children, the oldest, daughter Janina will be turning sixteen this autumn. Already that full of temperament girl was transforming fast into a beautiful young lady. He wondered how much she had already changed in those past months. She was nearly as tall as her mother now, with her curly dark hair and those dark brown eyes a stunning beauty (Note ).
Then there are his twelve year old son Michael and his six year old second daughter Ramona. His wife had a love for those exotic names. Not for the first times this last year Ziethen longed to see his children grow up.
Last June they had have the luck of going on holiday. Nearly three weeks they went to southern Oestereich – Ungarn, having stayed on lake Gardas northern shore in the beautiful small city of Reif (Note ). It is the only city on that lake not under Italian Governance. Though is was clearly strongly influenced by Italian lifestyle. He and Doris loved that way of living and that beautiful landscape. By ship they had visited some of their Italian friends. Not that he was very fluent with the italian language, but his wife fortunately was.
All those memories where fading fastly. Ziethen left his reverie and came back to reality.
Early this morning, he got the order to form group and report to HSF this evening. The newest member of his "fleet“, SMS Arcona, is going to join them in Wilhelmshaven. Specific orders ought to follow, he was told.
"Two minelayers, though one with a strong cruiser component“, he thought. Things will speed up soon.
Down the Elbe they went, speeding up after leaving the city of Wedel on the starboard side as well. When Brunsbuettel with his locks showed up, Ziethen knew that soon all doors needed to be closed and the alarm needed to be sound. Finally on the port side Cuxhaven came into view. The SMS Hildebrand and SMS Hagen were on station, guarding the Elbe river mouth. All was as it used to be.
"Our escorts arrive, four torpedoboats ahead“, the sharp voice of the lookout was heard.
"Korvettenkapitaen Findert, clear ship for action“! Ziethen commanded.
Only seconds later the drums were heard, "Alle Mann auf Gefechststation“!
July 02nd SMS Roon, late afternoon,Wilhelmshaven, alongside quai
This morning he went to Hafenkommandantur Wilhelmshaven. There he received a sealed packet, which was under guard. "The mission statement, finally“, so his thoughts had went into the right direction. A minelaying sortie under an overstrong escort. But probably much more than that.
"Archangel, Dantes Prayer, Archangel“!!
He was commanded not to inform others beyond his own command group, including his XO and his navigator and the Command group of his four cruisers. Yes, today he was informed that another one, the SMS Berlin, is to join his small fleet as well.
"Andreas, please see to it, that Fregattenkapitaen West and Korvettenkapitaen von Hippel get their orders immediately. They ought to proceed to the arsenal and load their deadly fright. That shall be finished during the short period of darkness, I do not want too many witnesses“. Ziethen tasked his XO.
Of course the mines on both minelayers would not be visible from the outside, but the loading process could not be hidden.
"When they return, I want them to report tomorrow morning“, he finished.
July 3rd SMS Berlin, late afternoon, returning to Wilhelmshaven
Fregattenkapitaen Friedrich Freiherr von Buelow had expected to receive his promotion to Kapitaen zur See before SMS Berlin reentered service late yesterday evening. But to his inconvenience it had not happened. "Do they forgot me“? he wondered.
The third change of rebuilding plans had taken place. The short "Werftliegezeit“ (Note) was changed to a complete rebuilding. In the third decade of June this was again changed to something in between. So von Buelow did not receive his so much wanted two 15 cm L/45 new main artillery guns, one in front of the bridge and one on the quarterdeck. Some strengthening of those deck areas had already taken place, but not that "exchange“ of guns.
But his artillery was nonetheless quite stronger now. They had lost all of their "old“ ten 10,5 cm L/40 guns and exchanged them to ten of the newer 10,5 cm L/45 ones. Actually these where once mounted on SMS Strassburg, but where removed there during her refit in spring this year. "Once again Strassburg“, von Buelow“ was thinking grimly. He did not like seeing "SIGNS“.
"The new guns have the same 15 rounds per minute rate of fire as the old ones, but instead of terminating at 122 hm, they reach out to 127hm at thirty degrees of elevation“, von Buelow mentally remarks to himself. "The high explosive shell weight remains at 17.4 kilograms, and we still have 150 rounds per gun available“. "A comfortable amount of shells“, he mused. Still he does not like the fact that no AP shells were ever designed for this caliber.
That was not the only change to the armament made. They lost those obsolete two broadside 45 cm underwater torpedo tubes as well. Instead of them, between the third and fourth 10,5 cm gun, on every side a brand new 50 cm upperdeck torpedo tube was installed. For those tubes six torpedoes are available.
New fire control equipment for the guns and the torpedoes was installed as well. But this six weeks refit went further, still.
When drydocked, which she was for quite a long time, her hull was cleaned and repainted, all seals on the hull were cleaned and refurbished. The single rudder and both screws were intensively maintained and polished.
The boilers and both machines were completely overhauled and cleaned as well. Many used parts were replaced by new ones. Even parts of the electrical system were modernized. This was not completed, though. Same said for the planned additional oil firing for four of those ten boilers. There no work was done actually. Oil bunkers should be installed in the former torpedo broadside room.
The planned take off of crews was omitted after the order received on June 20th:
"Berlin be ready for action latest July 3rd. More orders will follow“.
Hurriedly all planned transfers were stopped. That way all of the crew had word hard to get the ship ready. They worked feverishly nearly all around the clock.
This morning they left their berth in Wilhelmshaven and accompanied by two minesweepers and two old torpedo boats left the Jade for the mouth of the Elbe river. They had intensively tested their machinery and boilers, and shot their guns. Every gun shot three shots to adjust what needed to be adjusted. Both tubes fired two fishes, to train the crews and to align the fire control equipment.
Had they been ready two days earlier they might have accompanied the Main Body of the Hochseeflotte on their northwestern bound sortie. But they were not ready. "Once again in the yards, when merits await those who can leave harbor“, von Buelow was mumbling.
"Look, Korvettenkapitaen Hildebrand, the Roon is still fitting out,“ von Buelow addressed his XO. He always uses his last name, never liking the "Du“ with none "VON's“. "Heavens above, what do they want with all this equipment. What are those gratings on the upper deck for? SMS Undine is still behind SMS Roon, should she not return to her beloved Baltic soon“? he asked with a dripping voice, looking acidly to Hildebrand.
"Mein Kommandant“, Hildebrand did not reply to those moods of his CO, "do you see our berth, there are gratings and things as well“.
"What“? von Buelow was rushing to Hildebrand's side. "Oh, Saperlot, what is going on, there“? "We need at least 30 hours to complete all Restarbeiten“, (Note). Freiherr von Buelow might have expected an ceremonial welcome, but not a warehouse an the quay.
He did not know that this evening he might receive "something“ in his meeting with Fregattenkapitaen Ziethen. In fact, he did not learn of his meeting until he reached the quai.
July 4th SMS Roon, returning from a night exercise, early morning
After his meeting with von Buelow, "Strange guy that is“, Ziethen thought, all ships had left for some nightly exercises. They had trained in the tight waters of the Jade and out to Schillig-Reede, but did not went out to the North Sea.
"Not today, at least“.
They had not much time to train as a force, but what could be done was done. SMS Berlin could unfortunately not accompany them, she had to finish last works and needed time fitting out. Anyway Berlin's XO was commanded on board of Roon to participate.
Just minutes after fastening longside the quai, he gets the orders for his ships:
"Preparing for sortie, be ready at 48 hours notice“.
"The officers Findert and Trapp into my room, immediately“, he ordered. When they arrived shortly thereafter, he first he spoke about that "development“.
"Kapitaenleutnant Trapp, please see to the fact that all CO's should be informed about 48 hours notice, wegtreten“! Ziethen commanded.
"Operation third stack should start tomorrow night, Korvettenkapitaen Findert, please inform all CO's immediately. Do it personally and discretely. Wegtreten“!
July 5th SMS Roon, high noon
He just received to order to place his squadron on 24 hours notice. That was expected. What was not expected though was his order to personally report to Viceadmiral Letters aboard SMS Großer Kurfuerst in the afternoon.
"Andreas, I want my commanders, all commanders, including von Buelow“, he added darkly, "all navigators and all XO's to my quarters at 8 pm. They will receive their final mission briefing. Should I be delayed, please take care of them. You are my Flaggofficer now. Kapitaenleutnant Hoehne should brief all Artillery and Torpedo Officers about the same time. Of course I'll brief him shortly before that meeting“.
"He should fetch me up at SMS Großer Kurfuerst“.
"Are those Meteor officers and crews already on board? And the special W/T team? All prize crews well accomodated?
So it went on. Then he left for his admiral.
Note 1: Happened exactly in OTL
Note 2: Bajan's sister Pallada was sunk October 11th by U - 26
Note 3: Linienschiffe, ships of the line, Predreadnoughts
Note 4: Finnischer Meerbusen, translated as gulf of Finland
Note 5: Pissen, small harbor on the coast of Kurland.
Note 6: Exactly historical
Note 7: The younger brother of Kaiser Wilhelm II., Commander of Baltic Forces, High Command C in C.
Note 8: Melde mich wie befohlen zur Stelle, translated as reporting as commanded.
Note 9: Seabears, old veterans
Note 10: Attention, stand still
Note 11: Sending of gunboat SMS Panther during the morrocan crisis in summer 1911, augmented by SMS Berlin
Note 12: Matrosen = Sailors
Note 13: Translated as first war estimate
Note 14: Zukunftsmusik, translated as music of the future
Note 15: Later known as SMS Hindenburg
Note 16: Hafenkommandantur, translated as harbors command post
Note 17: Gefechtsstation, translated as Fighting Station
Note 18: Michel, Michaeliskirche, one of Hamburgs churches, more than a landmark
Note 19: Blankenese, one of the best Quarters in Hamburg, Suelberg, ice age rising, "hill“ with some very nice villas.
Note 20: Resemblance with living persons is only by coincidence :-)
Note 21: Reif, the german name of Riva del Garda.
Note 22: Werftliegezeit, translated as "yard time“
Note 23: Finishing the final work
 Happened exactly in OTL
 Bajan's sister Pallada was sunk October 11th by U - 26
 Linienschiffe, ships of the line, Predreadnoughts
 Finnischer Meerbusen, translated as gulf of Finland
 Pissen, small harbor on the coast of Kurland.
 Exactly historical
 The younger brother of Kaiser Wilhelm II., Commander of Baltic Forces, High Command C in C.
 Melde mich wie befohlen zur Stelle, translated as reporting as commanded.
 Seabears, old veterans
 Attention, stand still
 Sending of gunboat SMS Panther during the morrocan crisis in summer 1911, augmented by SMS Berlin
 Matrosen = Sailors
 Translated as first war estimate
 Zukunftsmusik, translated as music of the future
 Later known as SMS Hindenburg
 Hafenkommandantur, translated as harbors command post
 Gefechtsstation, translated as Fighting Station
 Michel, Michaeliskirche, one of Hamburgs churches, more than a landmark
 Blankenese, one of the best Quarters in Hamburg, Suelberg, ice age rising, "hill“ with some very nice villas.
 Resemblance with living persons is only by coincidence :-)
 Reif, the german name of Riva del Garda.
 Werftliegezeit, translated as "yard time“
 Finishing the final work