NationStates Jolt Archive

From the Shadows....

02-10-2003, 11:59
Lt. Paul Harrison rubbed his eyes; this vision was threatening to double on him, and he needed to see what he was doing. Flying recon for almost 12 hours strait was taxing on a pilot's stamina, and none knew better than the pilots who flew for the Royal Navy. The American pilot turned to his copilot, British Flying Officer Charles Wentworth, who was sound asleep in his seat. Behind sat the wireless operator, a skinny Irish kid whos name Harrison could never remember, who was also dozing. Glancing down at his watch, he saw it was almost time to wake Wentworth for his shift; it had come none too soon. Harrison reached over to shake the British pilot awake, but paused with his hand on the other man's shoulder.
Far below them, Harrison could make out the wake of a large ship against the setting sun. While this would not normally have been cause for concern, it was clear something was amiss; the ship appeared to be circling round sharply to port. Harrison thought a moment; the most likely cause for what he was seeing came to mind easily enough for a pilot who had flown for the better part of 8 months over the U-boat infested waters of the Western Approaches. Merchant captains who spotted U-boats often had to make such drastic actions to avoid torpedos, since Jerry hardly ever stuck to prize law anymore. If it were a U-boat attack, the Navy would be very interested in the location...
Harrison shook the copilot awake, then turned and began rousting the radio operator. As usual, he proved difficult to wake; indeed, if not for the heavy snoring coming from under his knit cap, one might have thought the young man had expired sometime during the flight. He finally gave in to the pilot's persistant shaking and returned to the waking world, if only grudgingly.
"Any radio traffic from the surface? Merchantman reporting a U-boat attack?"
The Irishman blinked fuzzily at Harrison for a few moments, then pulled his headset over his ears. After listening for a few moments, he shook his head. Harrison frowned; so much for that theory.
"Nothing at all?"
"Look, ah tole ye thar's nothin comin across that bloody radio."
By now, Wentworth had taken the controls and steered the plane lower and closer to the ship, which continued its tight circle. While a tight turn might throw off a U-boat's torpedos, keeping that up would make her a prime target. She would have reversed her turn by now, Harrison thought. A glance from the copilot told him that Wentworth also didn't believe that all was well. Harrison turned back to the radio operator.
"Send them a message; ask if everything is alright. Also notify Fleet Command that we may have something of interest here."
While the radio message was being sent, Wentworth took the plane closer still to the ship, which Harrison was able to identify as a British merchant-type. The ship bore neutrality markings and a Turkish flag; hardly an oddity, but it was unusual to find a lone merchant in these troubled waters. As the plane dropped lower still, Harrison scanned the deck with his binoculars. What he saw forced a gasp from him.
Strewn across the deck of the merchant were the bodies of at least a dozen sailors. Blood ran in thick streams out toward the rails. To Harrison it looked like the men he saw had been shot running for the life boats, which were still moored in place. Dropping the glasses into his lap, he turned quickly to the radio operator.
"If you haven't sent that message yet, don't bother. I can see a dozen men dead on the deck. Get in touch with the nearest fleet unit and tell them to get here as fast as they can."
Wentworth continued to circle the merchant, still chasing her own wake. His stomach tightened when the American said the crew appeared dead; the closest he had been to actual combat had been a near miss by a hot shot American pilot in a Spitfire who had thought it a good idea to see just how close he could get his plane before they actually hit. The thought of dead men down on that ship set his gut to rolling, and he reaffirmed his happiness that he was up here, relatively safe from harm.
The message was soon out, and within minutes the British cruiser Hampshire was en route.
03-10-2003, 05:04
The first men aboard the mysterious merchant from the Hampshire knew what to expect, but the brutality of what they found shocked them all the same. Men lay where they had fallen, riddled with bullets. The copper stench of blood was heavy even on the deck, and more than one of the boarding party found himself suddenly sick. A quick search of the cabin revealed most of the bridge crew dead at their stations, most shot in the back. The radio was smashed, and the controls were also disabled by whoever had raided the ship.
Men headed below into the hold, looking for any survivors that may have escaped death. The scene laid out before them in the cargo bay was even more shocking than that above. The rest of the crew lay piled against the bulkhead, their hands bound behind them. Apparently they had been lined up and shot by the attackers. The men did not appear to be Arabian, as the flag on the masthead would have led them to believe. The cargo hold itself was a mess of smashed boxes and overturned crates. Apparently someone had tossed the contents of the hold while looking for something.
While the men below took in the dreadful scene before them, the men above were collecting documents regarding the ship's identity, port of origon, and destination. From all appearances, the vessel was the Turkish merchant Dunilla, bound for Buenos Aries from Alexandria. The fact that there didn't appear to be a single Turkish sailor aboard cast doubt on this, but nothing had yet come to light to the contrary. The search continued, but the men were already becoming nervous. U-boats prowled the waters of the Western Approaches, and the Dunilla made a fine target.
03-10-2003, 13:32
In the British Fleet HQ building in Scapa Flow, the highest members of the British War Ministry were locked in a dark and smoke-filled room, reviewing the findings of the Hampshire. While the situation would not normally call such influential men together, the case of the Dunilla warranted such close attention. On the outside, the ship may have seemed to be nothing more than a Turkish merchant vessel; in actuality she was much more. The Dunilla was one of several vessels operated in secret by the British intelligence community. The Dunilla's mission had been to smuggle certain scientific minds out of Europe that Great Britain had thought best did not fall into the hands of the Third Reich. Leaders in the study of radiation, chemistry, biology, and physics had been secretly gathered by the SOE prior to the outbreak of war and secluded in the far east of Poland; the announcement of the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact had forced the British to consider moving the scientists to a less-hostile part of the world. As German forces had invaded Poland, the SOE had moved it's charges further and further south, untill they arrived in Turkey early in 1940. With the threat of German and Italian moves on Greece and Turkey, it was decided to move the scientists by one of the secret transports to the US, where it was believed they would be safe. The news of the Dunilla being found adrift with all hands killed and no sign of the scientists had thrown the upper levels of the British government into an uproar. Thoughts drifted back to the incident involving Iansisle's jet fighter, stolen from the Capable under similar circumstances. Of course, there was no proof the Germans had somehow siezed control of a ship at sea and spirited away a score of scientific minds without so much as a sound from their guards, and to admit such would be a great propaganda victory for the Nazis.
The debate continued over what to do well into the early morning; not suprisingly, there was no easy answer.
09-10-2003, 05:29
The decision is finally made to cover up all knowlege of the incident, sink the Dunilla, and prepare to recapture the scientists when they merge in the Reich. Few believe Hitler will let such brilliant minds lie idle when there are so many projects that could benefit from their presence.
The order is wired to the Hampshire shortly after nightfall. Many other captains end up with copies of it handed to them. Most, like the Admiral Scheer's Capt. Tillman, simply discard it, as they do not posess the cypher needed to make any sense of it. The Hampshire, however, quickly moves to carry our her orders. She draws away from the ghost ship, sinking her with a torpedo before returning to Scapa Flow.