Sunday, September 21, 2014

15,000 Miles From The Past {3}


Date: December 20, 1937

Location: The von Stiehl Werke and Isla Incognita
Situation: Departure and Arrival
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Important Suggestion: Reread Chapter 2 Nineteen Years Later

* * * * * * * * * *

If you dare my dear reader, your inclusion in the most astounding exploration of our time begins now. This dangerous adventure into the unknown will change your life in a way you can not possibly predict. However, you are sworn to secrecy and must not reveal dates, course, speed, particulars and duration until such a future time as Herr von Stiehl permits. These conditions are unbreakable. Keep them and your reward will be beyond extraordinary. Break them and you risk much. Only after success will the wisdom of the these requirements be fully understood. 

Should terms be impossible, motorcars wait outside to drive you to Malabascar Harbor. Seats have been arranged aboard the clipper departing at 11:56 p.m. --- Anyone? --- If so, we respectfully ask you to leave now with Herr von Stiehl's compliments and his sincere wish for a pleasant flight to Manila.

For those whose courage has not failed and only if terms are agreeable, you may join Herr von Stiehl and his son Rudi in the green room.           

Wilhelm von Stiehl: "Son, Dr. Krausen hat recht (had it right). We must leave within two days.

Kapitänleutnant Rudolph von Stiehl: "I am eager to be underway. As you always say father, lost seconds become minutes. Misused minutes convert to lost hours. Abandoned hours cast away productive days, weeks and so on."

Von Stiehl: "Ja. She is ready for you. All preparations have been made. Go to her."

In the harbor outside the von Stiehl Werke, sailors and soldiers stand anticipating.

Soldiers are clothed and equipped in varieties of latest experimental tropical garments.

While party goers have assembled outside the nautical repair facility.

Trudi and Wilhelm with other von Stiehl family members await the reemergence of an old warrior.

Von Stielhl's WWI Unterseeboot (underwater boat or submarine), reclassified as U-100. She flys the battle ensign of the Weimar Republic.

Hidden in the von Stiehl Werke, she was slowly repaired from 1919 to 1937 as parts and technicians arrived from Germany.

Old battle damage from the last engagement prior to November 27, 1918 was repaired.

Torpedoes of the newest design were the most difficult to import.

 To be launched through one of two aft torpedo tubes. Open this hatch and you will see....

The tube interior.

Stern torpedo tube exit points; one closed - the other - open.

There are four torpedo tubes in the bow.

Another image of the forward torpedo room.

One of the bow torpedo tubes appears ready for launch a deadly weapon.

Closed bow torpedo tube cover.

Twin rudders and a pair of three-blade propellers replaced ancient equipment. This is the steuerbord seite (starboard side) rudder.

Brand new propeller.

Below decks the captain's quarters are fresh and new.

The nautical chart (map) table is just forward of the captain's quarters.

We apologize. Access to the coning tower is denied. Fire control and two periscopes are located here. One is the ranging attack scope for short distances. The other is for longer ranges, scanning to the horizon.

Speaking tubes below the conning tower to issue and acknowledge orders as....

Confirmed by gauges in the canoe.

These too.

Primary steering is accomplished by left and right black levers. Should these become inoperative, wheels may be rotated left and right accomplishing the same thing.

Left rotation of this wheel causes bow planes to point downward. Turning right points planes upward.
Tiefer means lower/deeper. Höher means higher.

Reconditioned radio compartment.

For entertainment, a phonograph player will transmit music to the crew. Average temperatures of  95 degrees Fahrenheit are routine. However, the diesel engine room is hotter at 120 degrees.


Soup consisting of sausage, carrots, potatoes and spices.

The canoe exits the repair facility.

Family and crew share exhilarating moments. Serious contemplatives may be pondering what mission success or failure will mean for the family and The Fatherland. Most however, are living in the moment hoping all return alive and healthy. Everyone knows many of the dangers the expedition will face. Worry, however, is carefully and properly disguised.

Artur von Stiehl (gesturing): "Wilhelm, she is lovely. Rudi will do well, of that I am certain, ja."

Trudi von Stiehl: "My son! I drink to your success!

Artur's spouse Liesel (white coat): "Vielen glück (good luck) Rudi! Hurrah! Hurrah! HURRAH!" 

(Hurrah! is spoken very rapidly like a fast heart beat and is pronounced WhoRah. Trill the letter R with your tongue. Who sounds like Hoo as in who is that? But don't pronounce the w.)

* * * * * * * * * *

JANUARY 14, 1938


The flotilla arrives in the northwest bay of Isla Incognita. U-100 has already launched rafts for the first shore party. Luchs is stopped trailing ship's boats for the same purpose.

Meanwhile flagship Ajax slowly steams in also towing ship's boats. Wilhelm von Stiehl is aboard. He was last here in 1918. What must he be thinking? We may safely guess he is better prepared than nineteen years ago.

Soldiers prepare to shove off from Ajax. 

What wonders and dangers await the von Stiehl Expedition? 

* * * * * * * * * *


1) Come back in late-October to find out! Two more chapters are underway. Each describes amazing sights and extraordinary scenes on Isla Incognita. The fate of the republic swings in the balance.

2) Can you identify the real submarine? If not, I'll identify her in October.

3) Isla Incognita's bay was first painted with a very thick coat of white house primer paint. Liquitex Professional Acrylic Artist Color Phthalocyanine Blue (green shade) with medium viscosity was applied afterwards. Brush strokes varied between light and heavy as did the amount of paint to simulate deep and shallower water. In the tropics white sand is fascinating to see at considerable depth through the water. Here it is simulated where blue becomes whiter. Waves were made from white cotton-like material found stuffed inside some pillows, blankets and such. It is a fabric named batting.

4) The von Stiehl Werke was a factory built twenty years ago for a model railroad. It was fun for my twin sons and I to back cars in and out again and again. A serendipity moment occurred last year when I realized it could become the repair facility for von Stiehl's canoe and to also hide her. Canoe was the word German submariners used for their WWI submarines.

5) Thank you for looking in. I hope you enjoyed the photo story, had fun and found the submarine photos I personally took unique, interesting and illuminating.

6) Meanwhile, kindly place your guess about the sub's identity with other thoughts tiefer (deeper) at Comments.

* * * * * Das Ende * * * * *


  1. Well I can't guess the identity of the canoe but I'm all aboard for this trip.
    You never cease to impress with your depth of character and tales of adventure

  2. The only U Boat that I can think of is the U-505 at the museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

  3. Bill,

    I sent you an email about possible source material for future stories to the two different email addresses I have for you (not knowing which is current or if they both are). . . . In any event if you get them both they are the same.

    -- Jeff

  4. Nice story. The submarine pictures turned out nice.

  5. Bill,

    As always, your stories are very compelling. As for von Stiehl's kanoe, it is the very real U-505 currently residing in Chicago. I saw her way back in the early 1960s before she was moved into her new home.


  6. It fits my long ago recollection of U-505 at the museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

  7. And, by the way, I am really enjoying this journey, Bill. Thanks.

  8. It doesn't appear the link to Chapter 2 works.

    So the Weimar Republic has somehow survived. What other changes to the OTL have occured? Is this a privately funded expedition, or since they fly the battle flag of the Republic is it government sponsored?

    I liked the pictures of U505 though I imagine a Type IX is spacious compared to the U100. Carry on!

  9. There are apparently no limits to the reach of your imagination, Bill, nor to the grasp of your impresario skills! I'm looking forward to a new expedition. HURRAH!


  10. I firmly agree with Tradl - a glass (or brace) of champagne is quite apropos for the beginning of this adventure.

    I imagine, as do the rest of the posters, that U-100 is really U-505.

  11. Graham C., Jim P., Jeff, Chuck, Jim C., Lieutenant, Michael, Jimho, Robert and Colin! The time you take to express appreciation and enjoyment is sincerely appreciated! Thank you very much.
    Yes U-505 in Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry is the canoe's identity. Check it out on the web. I'll mention more next time.