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Return of the Dutchman

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This is No Place for a Boy
Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen
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Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen – A Wolves Side Story  

Episode Ten

The author does not speak Danish, German or Swedish, and rather than offend those who do speak those languages, the dialogue is rendered up in American English with a few local words mixed in.

October 30, Headquarters, Copenhagen Naval Base, 0730 hours

The petty officer in charge of the Grøndsund walked into the office and reported that the internee on his craft had fallen overboard during the night and they had not been able to find him or his body.  Actually the internee had been missed the morning of the 17th but the crew had been unable to decide what to do.  Finally, when in doubt, blame it on the internee and the sea.

October 30, Ferry Pier, Malmö, Sweden  0915 hours

Layton and his companion left the ferry and entered Sweden.  His forged papers withstood the perfunctory glance of the Swedish officials.  His companion took him to a small house a few blocks away.  There his companion was replaced with a new man.  A third man gave Layton new papers and took his old ones.

October 30, Detention building, Copenhagen Naval Base, 0945 hours

“Good morning.  I am Frederick Soderholm, representing the Red Cross.  I am here to see this Commander Layton of the Royal Navy whom you have interned here.”

“The Red Cross was just here last evening to see Commander Layton.  What is so special about this man?”

“I assure you sir, the Red Cross was not here last evening.”

“The evening guard log says otherwise.”

“That is not important.  My credentials are genuine and I demand to see Commander Layton.”

Just then two Danish naval officers and two marines came to the guard station.

“We are here to take custody of a Commander Layton, of the English navy.”

“Yes sir.  Please come with me.”

The guard took the four men to Layton’s room.  The Red Cross man spluttered along behind.

“Wake up, Layton.  These men are here for you.”

No response.  The guard repeated himself.  Still no response.  The guard opened the door.  Layton seemed to still be asleep.

The guard went and shook him. 

No response. 

No wonder.  “Layton” was a dummy.

Layton had escaped.

The naval officers and marines dashed for the headquarters building to report the escape.  (See Note 1)

October 30, Headquarters building, Copenhagen Naval Base, 1025 hours

In the manner of peacetime institutions everywhere, it took some time to find the right people to report Layton’s escape to.  Within minutes, the alarm was spread to Danish civil authorities, the railroad station and officials at the piers.

The Naval Chief of Staff was also notified.  He exploded in a fit of recrimination.

“Find out who is responsible and get them in here.”

Staffers scrambled.

October 30, Headquarters building, Copenhagen Naval Base, 1140 hours

The Admiral had just finished taking the hide off of the unfortunate officer in charge of the detention facility.  This act cooled his anger enough to ask more questions.

“Is the submarine still tied to our pier?”

“Yes, sir.”

“It’s a wonder.  Where is the rest of the crew?”

“They are at the Army internment camp at Grinsted, sir.”

“Good!  They are the Army’s problem.”

“Wasn’t there another English officer from that submarine?”

“He is still on the Grøndsund, sir.”

“Send some marines over to bring him here.  We’ll send him in chains to Grinsted.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Has anybody notified the Swedes?”

“No, sir.  You reserve that for yourself.”

“Get the Swedish naval chief on the telephone.”

“Yes, sir.”

October 30,  Glostrup Railway Depot, 1145 hours

The decoy wearing Layton’s uniform got out of a wagon and began walking up to the platform of the railway.  The next westbound train was due in 15 minutes.

The decoy did not get far.  A sharp-eyed railroad policeman spotted him and got another civil policeman and went over and arrested him.  They asked him questions on the spot but he ignored them.  Having no success, they took him to the local police station.  There, they questioned him more.  No response.  He seemed to completely ignore them even after they “tuned him up” a bit.  His papers indicated he was indeed the Layton they sought.  They reported the apprehension to their superiors.  Those superiors reported up the line and eventually the word reached naval headquarters.

October 30, Headquarters building, Copenhagen Naval Base, 1530 hours

Reaching the Swedish Chief of Staff had taken too long, but when there is a meeting of ministers, one does not intrude.

Finally the two chiefs were connected.

“Admiral, we need to notify you that one of our internees has gotten away.”


“Yes.  The commander of that submarine that ran aground on Saltholm in August.”

“:What was his name?”

“Layton.  L-A-Y-T-O-N.  Wait, one of my staff just walked in. …. Never mind Admiral, our police have apprehended the man.  Sorry for troubling you.”

“Yes.  We have taken all the crew of the submarine that beached at Landskrona and sent them as far north as we can.  The only way they can escape is if they become Lapps.”

October 30, Malmö Piers  1800 hours

Layton and his new companion boarded a steamer destined for Göteborg.  Layton’s new persona was as a Finnish sailor.  Such travelers were quite common and nobody paid any attention.  The packet sailed at 2000 hours and caught a night convoy through the Öresund minefields, and arrived at Göteborg at 1500 hours the next day.  Layton went to a house where he met another companion (this one finally spoke English) where Layton assumed an American identity.  At least now he could speak English.  Few Scandanavians at the time appreciated the difference in King’s English and the American dialect.  Layton and his new companion got some sleep.  They would sail again in the morning.

October 30, Copenhagen Central Police Station 2030 hours

“This man is no more an English submarine officer than I am the King of Siam!  He is a lunatic.  (See Note 2)  He does not respond to any questions or any other speech.  He is in another world.  Someone has used him as a decoy to get him off the real fugitive’s trail.”

October 31, Göteborg Piers  0830 hours

Layton and his new companion board a steamer bound for Christiania (now called Oslo) in Norway.  By 1130 the steamer is clear of Swedish waters.

October 31, Headquarters Building, Copenhagen Naval Base, 0910 hours

“What?  They knew they had the wrong man last night and nobody told me!”

The Naval Chief of Staff was angry to the point of apoplexy.

“You had a decoy and nobody told me?  So what good did it do to put a renewed bulletin out to Danish civil authorities?  Did they catch the real fugitive overnight?  He certainly did not go to Germany.  He has to be in Sweden and thanks to you bumblers the Swedes think we have him in custody.”  Click.  The Chief of Staff hung up emphatically.

“Get me the Swedish Chief of Staff, now.”

October 31, Fredrikstad Roadstead, Norway, 2015 hours

The steamer Layton had taken from Goteborg had to anchor for the night.  The fog had rolled in and the fjord was too narrow and tortuous to navigate in such conditions.

November 1,  Swedish Naval Headquarters, Stockholm  0840 hours

The Chief of Staff was on the telephone with his Danish counterpart.

“We have seen no indication this Layton fellow has been in Sweden…. No, we have not checked for false identities.  If he had one he used it discreetly and drew no attention.  Did anybody in Denmark ever get a picture of this fellow?  Unless he were parading about in uniform, how would we tell him from the next man? … I’m afraid the trail is cold.  Our police have no clues at all.”

November 2, Aberdeen, Scotland,  0800 hours

The SS Bellbank and Lieutenant Eddis from Copenhagen had arrived in Aberdeen without incident and Eddis had debarked.  Eddis was physically worn out.  He had stoked the entire trip.  Stoking was hard physical work submarine officers were not accustomed to.  Eddis had literally stoked the boilers right to the pier.  Eddis had kept his RN identification papers and wallet from the E13, so he had a few quid in his pocket, and he decided to get a meal and a good night’s sleep before returning to the Royal Navy.

The next morning Eddis had cleaned up his grimy uniform best he could and he presented himself to the local RN base and asked for transport back to the flotilla in Harwich.  The local officials checked out his identity, gave him a fresh uniform and put him on the train south.

November 2,  Oslo, Norway   1400 hours

It had taken almost ten hours to make their way up the foggy fjord that morning.  Layton, now in his persona as an American contractor, asked about passage to Britain.  None was available from Oslo, but a ferry did run from Bergen.  Layton booked passage to Bergen the next morning.

November 8, Customs Office, Aberdeen, Scotland 1530 hours

Commander Layton had made the passage from Norway without incident beyond a scare about a phantom U-boat, but now he had a big problem.  In all his peregrinations, he had lost his Royal Navy identification.  The local police and customs officials could not verify who he was.  They thought he might be a spy or something equally nefarious, so they arrested him and tossed him into jail while they figured out what to do with him.

November 10, Central Jail, Aberdeen Scotland  1425 hours

“Layton, get over here.”

Layton had spent a couple of interesting days to say the least.  In addition, an Aberdeen tough had found out that submariners can be very handy with their fists.  Layton moved to the front of the cell.  Two Royal Navy officers and two jailers awaited him.

“Geoff!  You look like something the cat dragged in.”

The two officers were from the HMS Maidstone in Harwich.  They had been chosen because they knew almost all the submarine skippers by sight.

“That’s alright bailiff.  We can vouch for him.  He’s is one of ours.”

The bailiff let Layton out and after a couple of hours of paper shuffling the three caught a train heading south.

“You know Eddis came strolling in a few days ago, don’t you?”

“No.  Paul got separated during the initial internment and I never saw him or any of the crew afterward.  What about the rest of the crew?”

“No luck there.  They got moved to a secure army camp.  The Red Cross verified their presence.  By the way, what did you do to get the Red Cross all worked up?”

“Some bloke from the Embassy palmed himself off as a Red Cross type to get at me.  He had my entire escape completely laid out.  I never stayed anywhere more than one night.  He had some associates that were the most tight-lipped people I ever saw.”

“The brass will want a complete report, but I think we can let it be until then.”

1.At this time few buildings had telephone service.  The less important detention facility 
   would have no telephone.

2.In the twenty-first century the malady would be called autism.


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