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Episode Six

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.

September 23, Landskrona Hospital  1525 hours

After all was done, the First Officer’s remains were quite a bit worse for the wait.  By time the Engineer and two deputies had come back the E1 was blazing furiously and had apparently suffered some kind of explosion.  The partially roasted body of the First Officer was floating face-down a few yards away.  Just retrieving the body got all three men a little singed.

Around noon Laurence came around enough to talk.

As Laurence pondered his failure, two self-important looking men in comic-opera uniforms strode into the room.

“Sir, are you the Captain of the submarine grounded south of Landskrona?”

“Yes I am the captain of a submarine and it has run aground.  Landskrona, you say?  I thought we were farther north.”

“Ja, it grounded about 10 kilometers south of here.”

“My men?”

“All are alive save one.  They tell me your First Officer he was.  Apparently he died of his injuries.  His body has been recovered.  The rest of the men are recovering.  There are some broken bones and cuts and not a few have lungs damaged from some sort of gas, but the doctors tell me they will live.”

“What is the nationality of your crew and submarine?”

“We are subjects of King George of the United Kingdom.”

“Ach!  Ja.  You are a belligerent vessel in neutral waters.  According to The Hague, you and your vessel have twenty-four hours to leave.”

“You think we can leave?”

“From what I’ve been told, no.  Nevertheless, the legal requirements must be observed.  If you and your vessel have not departed Swedish waters by this time tomorrow, you and your craft will be interned as specified by The Hague.”

A large, tall, and imposing blonde female figure in a nurse uniform swept into the room like a North Sea gale.

“That is all gentlemen.  This man must rest.  The doctor has so ordered.”

“Madam, this is a Naval matter.”

With that defiance, she drew herself up to her full 190 cm height and glowered like an enraged Nordic goddess.

“Not while he is in my ward.  It is a hospital matter.  Get out, now”


“Out!  Now!  Both of you.”

With that she shooed them out.  Then, pointing back to Laurence…

“And you try to rest.”

Laurence thought:  “Great Scott, it’s Brünnehilde, eldest of the Valkyries.”

Laurence could hear her in the hall routing the Swedish naval officers out of the ward.

About two hours later, just as he was finally falling asleep, she (in the manner of hospitals everywhere) came back to check on him.  At least her manner was considerably less fierce than earlier.  She actually smiled.

“Nurse, what is your name?”

“I am Tilda Louise.  What is yours?”

“Nathaniel.   Tilda Louise, do you ride horses?”

She smiled back.

“Ja, I ride every chance I get.  How did you know?”

For the next twenty minutes the two smiled and talked.

September 23, British Embassy, Stockholm, 1600 hours

“The gentleman from the Swedish Foreign Office is here to see you.”

“Very well.  Send him in.”

“Please come in.  Have a seat.  Tea?”

Sitting down to the right of the Ambassador, the diplomat indicated that tea would be delightful.

“It was good of you to see me on short notice.’

“Not at all.  What brings you here this late?”

“I’m afraid one of your warships has run aground in Swedish waters.”

“Indeed?   Where?”

“About ten kilometers south of Landskrona.”

“Indeed?  What ship is it?”

“My naval contacts tell me she is the submarine E1 commanded by a Lieutenant Laurence.”

“This cannot be true.”

“I’m afraid it is.  The commander has already identified himself and his vessel.”

“We must get this vessel out of your territory.”

“Indeed we would wish you would, but we have our doubts.  In addition to being grounded, she caught fire and exploded.  One of her officers was killed and all of her crew including her commander, are in our hospital at Landskrona.  The commander was informed at 3:30 this day that he has twenty-four hours to depart Swedish territory.  Given his condition and the condition of his craft, we doubt he will be able to comply.”

“What will you do?”

“Under the terms of the Hague agreement, our hands are tied.  We must intern the commander, the crew, and the craft until hostilities cease.  Unlike the Americans, buffered by the vast ocean, we must be vigorous and punctilious about our neutrality.”

“I see.  You have made your government’s position quite clear.  Will it be possible for us to visit with the crew and see the submarine?”

“Of course.  Our navy people can take you to the submarine if you like.  The crew will be in the hospital for at least four days.  The doktors are inflexible about moving them before then.  Our doktors in their hospitals think they are the Almighty in heaven.”

“Doctors in my nation think along the same lines.  That makes it imperative we see them quickly.”

“Indeed so.  After the deadline passes, the army will take them into custody for internment.  Thank you for your time, sir.”

“Thank you”

The Swedish diplomat was seen out.

“Millard!  Get the Naval attaché and my secretary in here.  Wake the telegraph office up.”

September 23, Telegram from British Embassy, Stockholm to Foreign Office, Whitehall  1645 hours
(Code prefixes and suffixes deleted for clarity)

My Lords. Stop.  Swedes inform us submarine E1 run aground in Swedish waters. Stop.  Commander one N F Laurence. Stop.  Submarine is reported unable to leave. Stop.  Casualties  One officer KIA, rest of crew injured and in Swedish hospital. Stop.  Am investigating.  Stop.  Swedes indicate they have served notice on the commander to leave no later than 330 PM local tomorrow.  Stop.  Compliance doubtful. Stop.  Instructions?  Stop. Stockholm.  Stop.

September 23, Headquarters Eighth Submarine Flotilla, HMS Maidstone, Harwich, 2030 hours

The telegram from Stockholm took a few hours to percolate through channels.

The Commander of the flotilla was called back to the Headquarters for a telephone call from the Admiralty.  Given the cost of a telephone call and the fact the Admiralty generally ignored the submarine force, this had to be trouble.

It was.

For the second time in a couple of days.

And it was the same thing.  One of his submarines apparently lost in the Öresund.

“…Yes sir.  I understand, sir.  No sir, we cannot raise the boats in the Baltic from here, sir.  No sir.  None of my boats are scheduled to transit in or out of the Baltic for more than a week.  Yes, sir.  I agree.  It looks like the three boats still in the Baltic are trapped.  No sir.  We have no way to warn them – our wireless equipment will not reach that far.  Does the Embassy in Stockholm have a wireless set?  Could we get the Russians to relay a signal to go to Dvina.  Yes sir the idea of a Baltic Flotilla has been discussed but we would have a lot of trouble supplying it.  Yes sir, the big problems are parts and torpedoes.  Once we are out of torpedoes we can do nothing but scout until torpedoes are brought in through Archangel.  Yes sir.  I will have a courier bring coded messages the Russians can send to our boats to go to Dvina for new orders and logistical support.  Yes sir.  Right away, sir.”  Click.

Well, that was it.  Their Lordships had waved a wand and a Baltic flotilla had appeared and robbed the Eighth of three more submarines.  It was bad enough to lose boats to things like mines and running aground, but when your superiors panic it is another matter altogether.   In the space of a month, the Eighth had lost six submarines.

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