July 21 Salvage Craft Diamante Course None Speed zero (anchored) 0815 hours
2300 Meters Northeast of Honfleur, France
Monsieur Ferrand had gotten an earful the night before. Rouen had been closed for a week and the roadstead was crowded with ships. And Ferrand was the problem. Apparently his counterpart working upriver had floated the wreck and should have the wreck in Rouen by midday.
Ferrand had spent the last couple days repairing his flotation equipment. Instead of having to lift two pieces of a ship, he now had three.
Ferrand had put his divers over the side at first light. It all depended on them now.
July 21 Salvage Craft Barfleur Course None Speed zero (anchored) 1005 hours
At the Wreck of the SS Lismore, 1,500 meters East of Tancarville, France
Like Monsieur Ferrand downriver, Edmond Chastel was feeling the pressure. The Seine below Rouen had been closed for more than a week now and traffic was backing up. Chastel’s salvage operation was not as well-equipped as Ferrand’s Diamante but his job was easier.
When the Lismore sank she was carrying a light load of ballast, where Ferrand’s ship was fully loaded. As a result, the Lismore had stayed more or less in one piece. This greatly simplified Chastel’s task. He had six flotation tanks under the bow and four under the stern.
The divers had been recovered, so Chastel gave the signal to start pumping compressed air into the flotation tanks to lift the Lismore. Twenty minutes later the wreck came to the surface. She immediately assumed a stern-down attitude as the bow hold (open to the river) drained out to the water line but the stern held its water. This was a dangerous time. Chastel sent four men over to the wreck. He opened the entry door to the stern hold and dropped the suction hose in and held it in place and the pony pump primed the line. Water gushed out of the entry door and the men signaled Chastel that the line was primed. Chastel switched to the main drainage pump, driven by a engine nearly as powerful as the Barfleur’s main engine. In a few seconds a huge gout of water came from the discharge line on the port side of the Barfleur. The end of the suction line sucked itself lower into the aft hold. A half-hour later, the stern was actually beginning to ride high. Chastel slowed pumping until divers could release flotation tanks under the stern and move them forward. Then he resumed pumping.
A little before dark, Chastel had the Lismore in shape to be moved upriver. The tug pulled the Lismore and the Barfleur followed, connected by the hoses to the flotation tanks. The whole assembly moved about a kilometer but had to tie up for the night. This formation had to be held together closely during the trip upriver. Inspection showed the hole in the forward hold was beyond the Barfleur’s ability to repair, but there were repair drydocks at Rouen.
July 21, 1115 hours
Zeebrugge Rail Station
“Rail Station” was an inflated name for a single platform alongside the siding at Zeebrugge. The rest of the line went a short way to a depot near the front.
The train to Brussels had no passenger cars. Normally the train would have had two empty box cars going to Brussels to pick up supplies. The few men (except when moved as units) making the trip rode in the box cars. Today was summer so the trip in a box car (just a few hours) was not so unpleasant. Today’s train was a little slowed because the train had three extra boxcars and they were loaded. The load was Petty Officer Van Vield’s “trade goods.” To tell the truth, Bartenbach was quite happy to be rid of this material. It was not readily apparent as contraband but Bartenbach had not seen the officer from the Inspector General for a while and he was due for a visit.
Petty Officer Van Vield had brought along a couple of men (associates or co-consirators) and Bartenbach had detailed Leutnant Metz from the commissary to keep an eye on them. Bartenbach had also brought along another young officer. As a Korvettenkapitan, Bartenbach did not rate a real aide but as the de facto Kommodore of the Flandernflottile he got a man to carry his briefcase. Bartenbach would have to brief the conference on the Flandernflottile’s little offensive. He also hoped to get a bit of the big picture.
The train arrived in Brussels in late afternoon. Metz, Van Vield and the associates went off on their own. They were here on Bartenbach’s orders and that did not include lodging. Bartenbach and his “aide” were here on the Admiral’s orders and rated lodging. Somehow, Bartenbach did not think lodging was an issue to these men. The regular commissary petty officer stayed with the cars. They would begin loading in the morning.
July 21, U-32 Course 255 Speed Five knots, Surfaced 2120 hours
Exiting a Fjord near the North Cape
Freiherr Von Spiegel had spent some frustrating days looking for his supply ship. He had investigated three fjords – there were dozens – and had not even seen a fishing boat.
July 21, UB-13, Course 130, Speed Three knots, Surfaced 2330 hours
7 kilometers SE of Le Havre breakwater
Kapitanleutnant Becker had things going his way. He had slipped into the roadstead apparently unnoticed. It seemed that patrols were not as numerous as his last trip into these waters. He was easing along at speed that charged up his batteries and would have him about where he wanted to be in about forty-five minutes. At the same time, he was making little noise or wake and had forty-two meters of water under him. Wenninger and Steinbrinck were not supposed to attack anything before dawn. By then, Becker could take advantage of the relative calm and French insouciance to pull off another successful attack.
July 22, U-24 Course 115 Speed Five knots, Surfaced 0200 hours
110 Kilometers W of Bergen
Oh-two-hundred again. Vidmar handed the watch to Kiessling. During the day, the U-24 had shifted a bit to the north, but had not seen anything. Likewise the æther was silent. These were indeed lonely waters.