View Full Version : A Fresh Start

08-17-2008, 07:19 AM
It's Sunday and this is England, so nowhere is open. Just put together some ramblings that might amuse some of the more "accident-prone" skippers like myself.

A Fresh Start..

The newly commissioned Oberleutnant, having proudly graduated submarine captain's training in 26th place out his class of 26, nervously taps on the door of Doenitz's office.

"Komme" a harsh voice rings out.

"Oberleutnant Hans Zupp reporting, Herr Admiral!"

Doenitz does not even look up but gestures towards the empty chair in front of his desk. Zupp takes his seat and watches as Doenitz turns the pages, and waits.., and waits.., and waits...

"Gross Gott!" Doenitz closes the folder with a furious motion, shakes his head and looks at Zupp for the first time. His eyes narrow, sparkling like glistening specks of wet coal. Zupp clears his throat anxiously.

"So, Oberleutnant, you wish to join my U-bootwaffe?

"Yes, Herr Admiral, I thought it might make a nice change from minesweepers."

"Ah, yes, minesweepers... Tell me, Herr Oberleutnant, just how many minesweepers have you had under your command?"

"Three, sir".

"And how many were lost through culpable negligence?"

Zupp stares at the floor and fights the rising sense of panic.

"Errr, three, sir".

"Yes, Oberleutnant, THREE! This document (Doenitz thumbs the folder) is your Kriegsmarine career history and it doesn't make pretty reading."

"No, sir" Zupp answers sheepishly.

"So, tell me how you managed you lose' the first one?"

"Well, I was new and eager and couldn't wait to get to sea, sir".

"Were you aware the ship was still moored when you rang for full speed ahead?"

"I assumed the crew would take care of the details, sir".

Doenitz shakes his head again, his brow furrowed. He brings his hands together to his lips, as if praying for deliverance.

"And the second one, how would you account for that?"

"The Scheer wouldn't get out of the way, sir. I didn't mean to collide with her."

"So, you expect a pocket battleship to move over for a minesweeper. Not the other way around, perhaps?"

Zupp fingers his collar. Beads of perspiration begin to run down his neck. Damn these ersatz navy ties.

"And the third one. No, wait, allow me to enlighten you." Doenitz opens the folder and searches the pages. "Ah, here it is, a little gem. The report of the accident' from your executive officer".

Reads: "The new Kapitan had just come aboard. We were ordered for full speed ahead and the Kapitan, reaching for a mug of coffee, accidentally knocked the engine room telegraph to "full astern". In trying to correct it, the Kapitan then became entangled with the ships wheel, causing us to go hard to port. We did not have time to rescue the situation before running aground"

Doenitz looks-up and arches an eyebrow.

"Need I say anything more, Herr Oberleutnant?"

"No, sir." Zupp is now sweating profusely and rubbing his hands on his trousers to dry them.

"After that last episode, you were transferred to the U-bootwaffe and for some reason selected for commander training. Do you think that was a wise move?"

"Probably not, sir. But if you'll give me another chance I know I can do better. Please, sir!"

Doenitz slumps back in his chair, a look of grim resignation on his face.

"Herr Oberleutnant, it pains me to say this but we are so desperately short of crews for the service, I have no alternative but to accept you into our ranks. However, in light of your past record, I'm going to assign you to a command in keeping with your abilities".

Doenitz pulls open a drawer and tosses a set of keys on the table.


"U-666, currently under repair at Lorient. A boat with a track record of self-inflicted disasters that almost equal your own. The first officer is an alcoholic, the chief engineer's solution to any mechanical problem is to hit it with a club hammer, and the watch officer is myopic. The rest of the crew are all rejects from other boats. I couldnt imagine a more suitable command for you".

Zupp picks up the keys. "What is this one for Sir?"

"That is the key for the conning tower."

"And this one?"

Doenitz leans forward and spits "THAT is the key for the ignition!"

"And this one...?"

"Herr Oberleutnant! You are dismissed! Report to the Second Flotilla within 48 hours. Collect your orders and travel documents from the office. Now, get out of my sight!"

Zupp snaps to attention, executes a textbook about-turn and marches smartly into the wall.

Next day, having packed his trunk and bid a tearful farewell to Frau Hoffenschwester at the Gasthaus (his were tears of sorrowful parting, hers were tears of absolute joy), Zupp catches the first train for Lorient and his new adventure. He gets off at the next station, having realised he boarded the wrong train.

To be continued if appreciated, dropped if not.

KH. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

08-17-2008, 10:45 AM

Go on. Want to hear more of Zupp http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

08-17-2008, 11:00 AM
I'll be interested to see where this leads, KH!

Makes me want to get out writing cardigan out again http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

08-17-2008, 01:08 PM

Absolutely First Rate!

I felt like I was in there "on the carpet" along with Zupp!! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

it sounds like "The Ruptured Duck" may have some joint operations with the U-666 in the future! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/88.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/88.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/88.gif


08-17-2008, 01:38 PM
Thanks guys! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

Second chapter in the pipeline (pics too, eventually). Happy you enjoyed my 'alter ego'.

@ klcarroll, it would be a privilige and a pleasure to sail with the "Ruptured Duck." Just ensure you leave port ahead of me, my boat isn't fully under control yet! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/compsmash.gif

Chapter Two: Zupp finally reaches Lorient.

Having missed his train in Berlin, Oblt. Hans Zupp arrives in Lorient in the back of a Wehrmacht supply truck. Waving the driver off he marches up to the sentry at the barracks' gate.

"Oberleutnant Zupp. I wish to report to the Flotilla chief."

The sentry, leaning casually on his rifle, regards the crumpled uniform and laconically states "We don't have a Flotilla' chief, sir. This is a Luftwaffe base."

"Ah, I see. And where would I find the 2nd Flotilla?"

"2nd is twelve blocks down and fifteen over, sir. Its next to the sea".

Oblivious to the sarcasm, Zupp strides confidently off but the sentry calls after him. "Sir, it's in the other direction".

Navigation had never been Zupp's strong point, but, then again, nothing else had been either. When he was born, his mother's first words were "No, no, take it away!" Still, the kind folk at the Kiel Dog Pound had brought him up to be a respectful member of society.

Finally, a weary Zupp reaches 2nd Flotilla headquarters, and presents his papers to the duty officer in the guardroom.

"Welcome to 2nd Flotilla, Oberleutnant. We had been warned, sorry, advised, that you were on your way, although you were expected yesterday. The Flotilla chief is playing golf at the moment but I'll show you to your quarters and he will see you as soon as he has won."

"When he has won? Is the chief that good at golf?"

The guard officer eyes Zupp suspiciously. "No, he's very bad at the game but that means the other kaleuns have to try much harder to ensure that they lose. It makes all the difference between a safe, juicy patrol grid or the English Channel."

Zupp was unpacking his bags in his room in the spartan but comfortable officer's quarters when there was a knock at the open door.

"Herr Oberleutnant Zupp? I'm Matrossenuntergefrieter Rottweiller. I've been assigned as your orderly. Would you like to see the boat now sir?"

"Yes, Rottweiller, I would like to see the boat and meet the crew."

"The second one might be a bit difficult, sir".

"And why is that, Rottweiller?"

"Well sir, the exec is on 'extended shore leave' and hasn't been seen since we arrived in port. Half the crew are in the glass-house after getting into a fight with the crew of U-48 when a game of Scissors, paper, stone' got out of hand and the rest of the men have been temporarily assigned to other duties. The boat only has a skeleton crew: the cook, his cat, the IWO, four sailors and Helga.""

"Other duties? What other duties? And who, pray, is Helga?"

"The Eastern front, sir. A naval punishment battalion. I believe they have to carry Goering around in a sedan chair. They are due back next Tuesday. Helga is the boats mascot, sir, She's a parrot. The crew are very fond of her."

"Tell me, Rottweiller, just how long has U-666 been in Lorient?"

Rottweiller draws an imaginary circle in the dust with his foot. "About four months, sir."

"And the reason for that was...?"

"Combat damage, sir. The boat took a pounding on her last patrol. We were fortunate to get back in one piece."

"Ah, depth charges eh? A close encounter with a British destroyer?" A daring convoy attack? The cut and thrust of toe-to-toe battle with the enemy? Inspiring stuff, Rottweiller."

"Not exactly, sir, it was the Luftwaffe. Our Kapitan, your predecessor, was paranoid about air attacks and insisted the flak guns were crewed on leaving harbour. As we were sailing out of the bunker a pan of Banana fritters caught alight and Helga squawked "FIRE!" just as a flight of 109's were overhead. We didn't get past the harbour mole before they turned on us."

"So, has U-666 actually sunk any allied ships?"

"Not that I can remember, sir, and Ive been with her since she was built."

"Has the boat yet managed to complete a full war patrol?"

"Not exactly, sir, but we did navigate the Kiel Canal and arrived at Brunsbuttel with only minor damage to the diesel engines, electric engines, forward torpedo room, stern torpedo room, forward crew quarters, after crew quarters, command room, watch tower, both propellers, the rudders and the deck gun. After six weeks in dry-dock, we were raring to go."

Oblt. Zupp squatted on the end of the bed and covered his head with his hands. Minesweepers had never seemed more attractive, or more distant. The portrait of Doenitz grinned evilly down at him.

08-17-2008, 06:49 PM
This sounds suspiciously like my career so far! http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_eek.gif
Have I been under observation all this time. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/sadeyes.gif
Maybe it's just as well I bought SHIV and the U-Boat missions last Tuesday, I may have to move to the Far East to escape notice. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/shady.gif

08-17-2008, 08:43 PM
Did I miss the first round of Zupp? The second round is proving very entertaining so far!

08-17-2008, 09:23 PM
"2nd is twelve blocks down and fifteen over, sir. Its next to the sea".


As we were sailing out of the bunker a pan of Banana fritters caught alight and Helga squawked "FIRE!" just as a flight of 109's were overhead. We didn't get past the harbour mole before they turned on us."

Great Stuff!!! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/88.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/88.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/88.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/88.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/88.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/88.gif


08-18-2008, 03:30 AM
Originally posted by PhantomKira:
Did I miss the first round of Zupp?

The first two parts are both in this thread. Glad you like them. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif Part 3 is under construction, time permitting.. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/typing.gif

08-18-2008, 07:24 AM
Sorry to inflict this on the community, but here's the next installment. I'm gonna take a brief break from Herr Zupp's activities as I'm off to Thailand shortly.

I also have an apology to make. The inspiration for this sordid tale about the Kriegsmarine's most hapless captain originally came from Tuddley3, who replied to my post about the "Drunken Sailor" and suggested I write a story about him. Not even Zupp has met this chap yet (the first officer) but you all will, given enough time and interest.

@ Tuddley: A terrible oversight on my part. KH begs forgiveness.. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_redface.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/11.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

I also wish to credit Celeon for giving me an idea used in this chapter. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

On with the story.

Part 3: Beer and Cigars.

Zupp closed the door and started walking down the corridor. A seaman appeared. "Herr Oberleutnant, the other captain's request the pleasure of your company in the Officer's Mess, sir."

That's a capital idea, thought Zupp. He'd had a long and tiring day and a cold beer and some dinner would be the perfect pick-me-up.

The seaman led the way to a large, sumptuously furnished room on the ground floor. About a dozen other officers were there, drinks in hand. The warm fug of the room, a mixture of cigar smoke and fine French cuisine, instantly made him feel at ease.

One of the officers came over, with out-stretched hand and smiling broadly. "You must be our new boy, Oberleutnant Zupp isnt it?" Zupp nodded. "Welcome to the 2nd Flotilla! I'm Klaus. Come, I'll introduce you to your fellow captains."

Zupp shook hands and exchanged pleasantries with all in the room. They seemed a cheery bunch of fellows. Zupp had a glass of Beck's thrust into his hand and accepted a cigar.

Klaus turned to Zupp and asked "So, which boat have you been given for your sins?"

"Me? Oh, U-666 is my command, but I havent seen it yet, or met the crew."

Although Zupp hadn't spoken loudly, it was as if an electric shock had surged through everyone present. The room fell silent. If anyone had been playing the piano sitting neglected in the corner, it would have fallen silent to. They all turned to look at Zupp, who had that feeling one gets after making a joke in poor taste at a funeral.

Klaus broke the ice by slapping Zupp heartily on the back. "Well, I wouldn't be in too much of a hurry to meet that gang of reprobates. You are going to be cooped-up with them for a long time so the less you see of them before you sail, the better!"

Joachim strolled over. "U-666? The boat that bears the number of the Beast?" He tossed back his head and roared with laughter. "My commiserations, old chap! That boat has sent more captains to the asylum than Goering has medals! I dont know why the navy ever accepted that number, or U-13 for that matter. Everyone knows how superstitious sailors are."

The awkward moment passed and the conversation slowly returned. Zupp relaxed again.

"Tell me, Klaus, I haven't seen the Flotilla chief yet. I understand he was playing golf earlier? When am I likely to meet him?"

"Well, it won't be today. The Old Man is in a foul mood and has locked himself in his quarters."

"Why, what on earth happened?"

"You see that chap over there..?" Klaus pointed to an officer Zupp hadn't noticed before. He was sitting, brooding, in an over-stuffed armchair, chain-smoking and nursing a scowl. Everyone was keeping a respectful distance.

"That's Max, captain of U-332. He was playing the Old Man at golf this afternoon and had the awful luck to hole-in-one on the eighteenth. Beat the boss by one shot. Max had been doing his level best to lose but the Old Man is such a rotten player he would need a panzer to get out of a bunker, not just a sand wedge! He's just had confirmation of his next patrol grid, the Bristol Channel. Poor chap! Must be kicking himself."

"Is the Old Man always that vindictive when he loses?"

"Always. He's out on the links at first light. Hardly has any time to attend to the Flotilla these days. We sort of run it ourselves now. It's the reason he requested a transfer to Lorient. The courses around here a far superior to any back at home. It's the weather, you see."

Klaus leans closer so that no-one can overhear and whispers "I'm of the opinion it's the only reason we invaded France in the first place. Hitler's mad keen on the game but you won't read that in the newspapers. It's one of the best kept secrets. It was the same with Poland."

"Poland?" Zupp is more than a little puzzled now but, being the gullible creature that he is, he presses ahead.. "I though we invaded Poland because they attacked one of our radio stations?"

Klaus guffaws with laughter, spilling his drink. "Sorry to disappoint you, old bean, but it was actually for their sausages. It's the same with all the countries we've invaded. There is the official' reason and the real' reason."

"What about Denmark then?"

Lubricated by his drink and warming to his subject, realising he has one of lifes true innocents in his clutches, Klaus continues to elaborate. "The beaches, my dear chap. You know how much the average German likes to settle into a comfy chair and warm himself on a beach. Well, the ones in Denmark are now no longer foreign and the sun-loungers only have German towels on them!"


"The skiing, of course. Goebbels won the Alpine skiing' silver medal at the 1928 winter Olympics, but crashed badly after crossing the winning line. That's why he now walks with a limp, or do you still believe the 'official' line that it's because he has a club-foot?"


"Kaiserschmarrn and other delicious desserts. Ribbentrop was addicted to them."

"How about Czechoslovakia?"

"The priceless works of art. Even Fat Hermann' couldn't afford them on the open market. Far easier to let 1st Panzer do the negotiating..."

Zupp pondered on these things. He had had no idea that German war aims were driven mainly by the need for recreation and food. In fact, he just had no idea at all! The thought then occurred to him: what about Russia? Luckily, just as he was about to dig himself into an even deeper hole, the dinner gong was rung and everyone trooped into the dining room.

All, that is, except for the pitiful figure hunched in the armchair, wreathed in a cloud of smoke, left alone with his thoughts...

08-18-2008, 08:03 AM
The real reasons for ww2 have finally been made public http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/88.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/88.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/88.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/88.gif

08-18-2008, 03:11 PM
The real reasons for ww2 have finally been made public

I have always suspected as much!! .....All that leather!, all that beer!, all that dancing! ....It should have been obvious! http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif


08-18-2008, 03:22 PM
All that leather!, all that beer!, all that dancing! ....It should have been obvious!

Wha? But Mrs. Jambo gave up nightclub dancing ages ago! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/88.gif

08-18-2008, 06:13 PM
Originally posted by Kielhauler1961:

@ Tuddley: A terrible oversight on my part. KH begs forgiveness.. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_redface.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/11.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

You are forgiven silly face !!! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif But keep writing, "That's an order"http://foolstown.com/sm/shv.gif

After reading your stories, my gutt hurts from laughing. As they say, laughter is the best medicine. No pain, no gain right ?

08-19-2008, 10:23 AM
Orders is orders... http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/typing.gif

Part 4: Auf Wiedersehen, Max.

Zupp woke with a bursting headache. The inside of his mouth tasted like he had slept with the contents of an ashtray in it and his skull was pounding. How much had he had to drink the night before in the Officer's Mess? And what was that irritating scraping noise?

Zupp opened his eyes with the sound of two flypapers being torn apart. He blearily focused on a figure in fatigues rummaging around in his wardrobe.

"Whos there?"

"It's me, sir, Rottweiler. How do you feel this morning?"

"Like death warmed-over, Rottweiler. What time is it?"

"0600 hours, sir. You'll have to hurry if you want breakfast. The cook caddies for the Chief and it gets light in 30 minutes."

Zupp buries his head back in the pillow and tries to pretend that none of this is happening. "No, I don't want any breakfast and what are you doing here anyway? I though I locked the door last night?"

"I'm scrubbing your uniform, sir. It got a bit, ahem, grubby on that supply truck. The barracks' duty officer let me in, sir. He thought it strange you hadnt gone down to breakfast with the others."

"Rottweiler, do you know where I put my Luger?"

"It's on your bedside table, sir."

"Is the magazine loaded?"

"I don't know, sir. Would you like me to check it for you?"

"If you would be so kind, Rottweiler. Take-off the safety catch, place the muzzle firmly against your temple, and pull the trigger, would you?"

"Certainly, sir. Doing it right now."

There was a pause, followed by a soft CLICK.'

"Your pistol isn't loaded, sir!"

"I gathered that. Thank you, Rottwieiler. Now, GET OUT!"

Showered, and dressed in his freshly-scraped uniform, Zupp looked in on the Mess but nobody was there except a waiter clearing the tables.

"Where is everyone this morning?"

"Breakfast is over, sir. They're all down at pen #5, wishing bon voyage' to U-332. Are you not going to see them off, sir? It is traditional."

"Traditional is one thing but is it compulsory? I've got a bit of a hang...I don't feel too well this morning."

"It annoys the band, sir. If you don't go, you'll get stuck with endless repetitions of 'Deutschland uber Alles' when your own boat leaves. Get in with the Bandmeister as soon as possible, sir. They do requests if you ask nicely. Their rates are quite competitive, unlike 1st Flotilla's!."

Zupp ducks out, grabbing a cold croissant, and makes his way down the hill towards the basin to join the farewell party. It's also probably about time he saw how U-666 was getting along. He figures he has to bite the bullet and report aboard sometime.

Zupp arrives at dockside just as U-332 emerges slowly from her pen and shapes course for the open sea. The band is already well into a catchy rendition of 'Gotterdammerung'. Zupp espies Klaus and Joachim and walks over.

"Good old Max" says Joachim. "I'm going to miss him."

"Did he remember to pay his mess-bill before he left?" says Klaus. "I'm not going to pick-up my share of his tab when he doesn't come back. Do you know just how much Foie-Gras and black truffles that man could get through?"

Zupp interjects: "Klaus, you said when he doesn't come back? How can you be so sure when everything is going so well for the U-Bootwaffe?"

The band strikes up a new refrain. Ragtime Blues' fills the air.

"Ah, Herr Zupp! I wondered how you would feel this morning? You slept well, I trust?" Klaus winked at Joachim and continued...

"The patrol grid Max has been given for his error yesterday is a virtual death sentence. No boat from 2nd has returned from that spot in the last six months. The Tommies have mined all the approaches, the water is too shallow to evade detection and its infested with anti-submarine trawlers. If Max has any sense he'll just head out into the Western Approaches and sail around in circles for five weeks, falsifying the log-book and navigation maps before returning, like most of us do. The crew aren't going to turn him in. If he can get them back alive, why should they? You really are wet behind the ears' aren't you? Did you surface' types always follow orders so blindly?"

"Couldnt have put it better myself, old chap!" Joachim adds. "I haven't been anywhere near my assigned grid for the last five patrols." He chuckles to himself. "That's why my crew are still breathing! Last time, we spent a fortnight in Morocco when we had actually been ordered to break-through the Gibraltar Straits. The Adjutant covered-up for us nicely, bless him."

Zupp frowned at this reprimand' but it only made his headache worse. The band played song after song, "Little Brown Jug" being particularly well received, until U-332 was just a speck in the distance, and then began to pack away their instruments, sharing out the coins that well-wishers had dropped into their collection tins. People were now drifting away from the dockside, apart from the cheapskate sailors plunging into the dock to collect free flowers for their French girlfriends.

The air was suddenly rent by the sound of snarling aero-engines. Zupp looked up as a pair of 109's roared past, giving the harbour area a noticeably wide-berth. Zupp walked-off towards the bunker. A huge sentry emerged, barring his way.

"Halt! Identify yourself and state your business!"

"Oberleutnant zur See Hans Zupp, new commanding officer of U-666. I wish to report aboard my boat."

"Can I see your papers, sir?" The sentry stretches out a hand in anticipation.

Zupp checks his pockets but they are all empty. His pay-book is also missing, which even he would find difficult to forget. Damn that fool Rottweiler! He must have removed them when cleaning the uniform. "I've left them behind in my room. I wasn't thinking too clearly this morning."

"Then I am afraid, sir, you will have to go back and get them. We have a lot of problems with foreign saboteurs here and can't be too careful. Its more than my jobs worth, sir." The sentry grins as he says this, obviously a popular in-joke' in the sentry world.

Zupp wells-up with anger at the perceived slight to his dignity by a mere common soldier. One with a Gewehr 98 now levelled at his chest, granted, but the humiliation is too much even for him to bear.

"But I am in full Kriegsmarine uniform, dummkopf! And you can tell by my accent I'm a German officer!"

"Sorry, sir, but your uniform looks like it spent the night in a filthy sack and the only thing I can tell from your accent is that you are either from Schleswig-Holstein or Denmark. You're not even wearing a cap, sir.! No unauthorised entry to the bunker. Standing orders. Sorry, sir."

Zupp's hangover clouds his sense of judgement more so than usual. He foolishly continues to argue with the sentry, losing what little semblance of authority he might have had in the first place.

"You've not heard the end of this matter, Gefrieter!"

"And which end would that be, sir?" Another smirk.

Realising, finally, that he was on a losing ticket, and wondering why sentries all seemed to be so sarcastic these days, Zupp storms back up the hill to the complex, steam pouring out of his ears...

08-20-2008, 01:20 AM
"You've not heard the end of this matter, Gefrieter!"

"And which end would that be, sir?" Another smirk.

http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/88.gif Great work KH!

08-22-2008, 05:49 AM
Part 5: The Adjutant.

"Herr Oberleutnant, sir?"

Zupp wheels around. It's Rottweiler again. His heart sinks.

"I've been trying to find you for the past hour, sir. The Adjutant wishes to meet you and formally welcome you to the 2nd. Would you like to come with me, sir?"

"No, Rottweiler, I wouldn't like to come with you'. People might think we're related. I think I can find the Adjutant's Office by myself, thank you. However, I want you to go back to my room and collect an envelope bearing the official Kriegsmarine stamp Don't Lose This, or else!' in red ink, my pay-book and my cap, and bring them along to the Adjutant's Office."

Standing at the door to the office, Zupp smoothes down his crumpled uniform as best he can and raps twice.

"Komme, bitte."

Zupp opens the door and goes in. Two figures are in the small room. One of them is Rottweiler, the other a tall officer in immaculate uniform with a kindly look on his face. The officer limps around from behind the desk and shakes Zupp warmly by the hand. Zupp notices he is walking with the aid of a stick.

"Herr Oberleutnant, I was beginning to fear you had lost your way? You're orderly has been here over half an hour. I was just about to send him out to look for you. Anyway, no matter, you are here now. My name is Walter Pfieffenburger, I'm the Flotilla Adjutant. Pleased to meet you at last."

The Adjutant casually waves Rottweiler away with a flick of his hand and indicates Zupp to sit down. A pretty young woman in navy blues comes in and places a cup of strong, black coffee in front of Zupp. It smells of burned acorns and chicory and tastes even worse.

"While I've been waiting for you, I read the paperwork your orderly brought over. You have had a somewhat chequered career' so far, it seems?"

"Well, you could say that, sir, but I'm looking forward to a fresh start with the U-bootwaffe."

"Herr Oberleutnant, the U-bootwaffe allows everybody a fresh start, take Herr Kretschmer for example. We're the front line of the war against the English now that the Luftwaffe are all off making mud-pies in Russia."

Zupp warms to the welcome. At last! The opportunity to start over again. To put all the unfortunate memories behind him. The coffee' takes effect and his head begins to clear.

"Yes, sir, thank you, sir. I know I can do better. I just want another chance to prove my ability."

"Zupp, your enthusiasm is obvious, but enthusiasm alone won't get you through this war. We will also need to see an acceptable level of competence. Still, hopefully all that will come with time and experience. Here at the 2nd we're not as stuffy as the big-ships or as vain-glorious as the destroyers. We pride ourselves in getting on with the job in hand and hoping no-one notices the occasional slip-up. There's just one thing about U-Boats. Mistakes made while underwater tend not to be repeated.. Ever! Bear that in mind."

The Adjutant goes over the recent Flotilla history and gives Zupp a run-down on protocol and base security. Then something catches his eye...

"Herr Oberleutnant, your holster appears to be empty? Where is you service pistol?"

"I left it behind in my room, sir. I didn't think I needed it on base."

"Herr Oberleutnant...," the Adjutant's tone changes from friendly to mildly exasperated. "...You need you side-arm on base more so than at any other time. This is not friendly' territory. Don't be misled by the official propaganda. You must carry your pistol with you, unless you are either in-quarters or at sea. But with your crew I would strongly recommend carrying it at all times even while on patrol!"

"Yes, sir. Sorry, sir!"

Now, I believe it's about time I showed you to your boat. She's had a bit of a bad time recently and won't be seaworthy for at least another ten days, but that gives you time to lick the crew into shape. Come with me, Herr Oberleutnant."

The Adjutant and Zupp stroll back down the hill towards the bunker, chatting as they go.

"I understand that most of my crew are absent at the moment, sir?"

"Yes, unfortunately that is true. The Flotilla's legal department are currently working on it. I'm sure they'll be out, err, back in a few days. By the way, you don't happen to play golf by any chance?"

"No, sir, never struck a ball in my life. But I did play football for the Kiel Dog Pound 2nd XI, sir."

"Ah, what position did you play, striker, centre-forward, attacking midfielder?"

"Substitute, sir."

"Well, a piece of advice, learn quickly. It's very important in the 2nd that you know how to play the game, for reasons I'm sure you are well aware of. It's only by knowing how to play well that you can make a convincing job of playing badly."

"Yes, sir. I'll try to remember that. By the way, sir, if you don't mind me asking, what happened to your leg."

"I'll tell you the story behind that when I get to know you a bit better, Herr Oberleutnant."

They reach the entrance to the bunker and this time the sentry snaps smartly to attention. Zupp can't help sensing a flicker of a smug smile cross the sentry's face.

"Just be careful where you walk, Herr Oberleutnant. It's easy to trip in here. And mind the puddles."

They enter into a shadowy world of harsh arc lighting. Cables are strewn across the floor and boxes and spare parts lie littered around. Zupp notices a pile of torpedoes heaped haphazardly one on top of another.

Sounds of hammering, drilling and sawing reverberate through the cavernous halls. Flashes from welding torches split the semi-darkness, creating shadows that are in stark contrast one second and gone the next. It was as if an army of ghosts was at work in the furnaces of Hell.

Although they have just walked out of bright August sunshine, the atmosphere inside is cold and clammy. Condensation runs down the walls and drips steadily from overhead pipes.

An image of Fritz Lang's 'Metropolis', which had scared him witless as a boy, enters Zupp's mind and an involuntary shiver runs down his spine.

After a while of picking their way carefully through the chaos, the Adjutant stops abruptly and gestures towards a seeming pile of wreckage floating in the dock.

"Pen #11. Herr Oberleutnant Zupp, or should I say, Herr Kaleun! Welcome to your new home: U-666!"

Absolutely, positively the last installment until I get back from Thailand! If I don't stop writing soon I'm gonna miss my flight! http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

08-22-2008, 06:31 AM
"Well, I was new and eager and couldn't wait to get to sea, sir".

"Were you aware the ship was still moored when you rang for full speed ahead?"

"I assumed the crew would take care of the details, sir".

Heh heh heh, I love it.

And it seems the truth is stranger than fiction: I'm reading a book about cold war spying using subs, and came accross this rather amusing anecdote regarding Reagan's time as an actor:

The crew, told to treat Reagan's orders as they would their captain's, accidentally overheard the actor practicing his lines, and they responded ... The bow lines began to stretch, then pull until the aging pier that had moored the sub snapped into pieces of cracked wood and rusted iron, just as the sub's captain raced to the bridge yelling 'All Stop'.
From: Blind Man's Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage (http://www.amazon.com/Blind-Mans-Bluff-Submarine-Espionage/dp/1891620088)