Toward the end of World War II a German submarine from the Monsun Gruppe 33rd Flotilla operating out of Penang, Malaysia was said to have shown up at the La Palma Secret Base, a primitive submarine-pen hewn out of the jungle-like estuaries of Chiapas along Mexico's far southern reaches of the Pacific Coast by the Japanese. That German U-boat, a long range Type IXD2, was the U-196.
Unlike records of most of the known U-boats, the background facts of U-196 are literally all over the map. The thing is, those all over the map stories are mostly no more than a number of individual stand alone histories promulgated by people with their own agenda. However, if the facts of the individual histories are gleened out of the morass and connected in compehensive fashion a different picture emerges --- much, much different than the official picture.
In the early stages of her career the U-196 is most notorious for having completed the longest patrol by any submarine in WWII, 225 days from March 13 to October 23 1943. After that the official picture is pretty bland. In a brief two-line outline it shows the U-196 left from France for Malaysia. Approximately three months after arrival in Malaysia she left on a patrol around Australia. No sooner had she departed than she disappeared, afterwhich she was stricken from the records.
A more in depth view of the official records gives much the same basic imprint, indicating that the U-196 departed the German U-boat base in La Pallice, occupied France, into the Bay of Biscay March 16, 1944 thence then into the Atlantic under orders for Penang, Malaysia. By early July she had passed east of Cape Town South Africa into the Indian Ocean arriving at the Malaysia base August 10, 1944, five months after her departure from France. On November 30, 1944, U-196 left Penang to undertake a war patrol around Australia with two other boats. When she failed to respond to repeated transmissions requesting her position sometime around December 1st, she was listed as missing in the Sunda Straits south of Java, effective December 12, 1944.
The above paragraph are facts typically found in the official record. What follows from here on out is information intelligently gleaned and selected from the unofficial record, that is, assembled from legend, folklore, and speculation, along with, most importantly, first and secondhand eyewitness reports, including that of a confirmed former U-196 crew member that I met personally myself in 1985. So said, when the chaff is peeled away leaving only the solid core, it reveals a truth that stretches way beyond the official demise of the U-196 in the Sunda Straits in early December 1944.
The first chaff to be removed is a report that no sooner had the U-196 left the pens in La Pallice, France than 13 high ranking Nazi turncoats along with three children escaping Nazi Germany were transferred aboard the U-196 just off the coast in the Bay of Biscay after another U-boat they were on was destroyed by British aircraft. Not likely. If 13 Nazi VIPs including three children boarded any submarine anywhere it would not have gone unnoticed. So too, the samething, if they transfered aboard the U-196 in the Bay of Biscay after being on another submarine that was sunk. Generally speaking, high ranking German officials did not start fleeing war torn Europe until total defeat was in sight sometime later. In any case, if the Gestapo received even whiff of a chance they would have met the U-196 upon arrival and more than likely any escapees would have been shot. If such a transfer happened at all, more than likely it was not done from a U-boat, sunk or otherwise, but from some sort of inconspicuous local coastal vessel, like a fishing boat and some French fisherman they made arrangements with --- then to be transfered in the Bay hoping to not be detected by authorities. However, true or not, the the core reveals a potential truth: 13 VIPs and three children, a number count that for some reason continues to show up throughout the later history of U-196.
Even though the story of U-196 is paved with Nazis, high ranking German officials and stolen Nazi gold, with the inclusion of 13 potential VIPs and three children into the story there is unearthed a much more benign aspect --- a journey to find a new life in a new place, far from the war, with opportunities to start a new life, albeit overlayed through the skewed perspective of so-called German superiority, racism and tainted gold.
In that same overlay, trailing in the wake of the U-196 was Nazi uranium mined in Czechoslovakia under slave labor. Both Axis powers had been feverishly working on developing an operable and deliverable nuclear weapon for sometime, even to the point, according to a variety of reports, of the setting off a 1944 German Atomic Bomb on the northern island of Rugen in the Baltic Sea and the Japanese somewhat later around Konan (now known as Hungnam) in north-eastern Korea.(see) The Germans, in conjunction with their own efforts, sensing a potential collapse of their regime in Europe, began shipping uranium through France, loading it into U-boats and transporting it to Japan for the Japanese nuclear bomb project. In turn Japan paid for the enriched uranium-oxide with gold bullion. As things in Europe deteriorated for the Germans and hard to come by materials used in their far-flung war efforts became more scarce and difficult to obtain the Nazis began using submarines to transport the rarest and most important of those materials to their homeland. A good part of the Japanese gold intended to be shipped through to Germany as payment started piling up in the far east submarine ports because of being continually bumped by those more important strategic materials. The piles of bullion, easily transported in the hold of a submarine or two --- and worth a fortune --- began making an ever increasing mouth-watering target for anyone in the far east possibly uneasy with an unfavorable outcome of the war and having in their hands a way to get away with absconding with it.
Enter the U-196. It is my hunch that a number of Nazis and German military, senior or otherwise, living in Japanese territory, possibly in collusion with some crew members of the U-196 fled from Djakarta in 1944 (rather than France) with a cargo hold full of gold. If the gold was just taken on their own discretion or the crew was originally mandated under official orders to transport the gold outside of Japanese territory and bury it for safe keeping is not known. In any case at least a few of the officers and crew along with 13 high ranking Germans, plus later picking up three children and possibly other family members (there is no mention of any women), took it upon themselves to take the gold and simply disappear. When and if it was discovered they were gone and possibly not having met an ill fate as surmised it was too late. By then, with the whole world open to them and no known destination they were at least at the time, free and well beyond the reach of German authorities and the arm of the Gestapo.
As clean cut and easy as it may have sounded, not all the rogue officers and renegade crew members may have cooperated at the level hoped for. Even though the U-196 was stricken from the records after having been listed as missing, however remotely as some suggest, blown up or sunk by mines in the Sunda Straits south of Java, at least one actual known crew member is known to be buried, and possibly two more, among the ten World War II German gravesites located at Cikopo Plantation near the village of Arca Domas not far from Bogor. Not only is the crew member's name on the gravestone, but so too the date of his death is carved into it. The graveyard, Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof (German Military Cemetery), under the auspices of the Federal Republic of German Embassy in Jakarta, honors fallen members of the German military. It could be when the plans were made available to the crew at large not all agreed with what was being done. Out voted a small number could have possibly been put adrift in life boats somewhere in or outside the Sunda Straits. If so, of those so set adrift, not one seem to have survived to tell their tale.
A U-196 CREW MEMBER IS BURIED IN THE GERMAN MILITARY CEMETERY, JAKARTA
(for more click image)
As soon as they rounded the straits the U-196 headed toward the open Pacific charting a course for Mexico and the La Palma Secret Base, most likely not long after the Japanese Ghost Submarine I-12 left. With no one at the base having any reason to suspect any wrong doing they were cooperatively provided with fresh water, supplies and fuel as requested. Then the U-196, like the I-12, headed north toward the mouth of the Sea of Cortez and the coast of Sonora --- except with a totally different purpose in mind, finding a new homeland and place to settle. The following is found at the source so cited:
"There are reports, or at least strong rumors to the effect, that a German U-boat stopped at the La Palma Secret Base along Mexico's southern Pacific Coast in Chiapas for refueling long after the Japanese stopped using it on a regular basis, only to show up along the Mexican northwest coast off Sonora late in the year of 1944. The U-boat, said to be the U-196, was a long range Type IXD2 under the auspices of the Gruppe Monsun (Monsoon Group) operating out of Penang, Malaysia.
"Officially, on November 30, 1944, the U-196 left Penang to undertake a war patrol around Australia with two other boats. When she failed to respond to repeated transmissions requesting her position sometime around December 1st, she was listed as missing in the Sunda Straits south of Java, effective December 12, 1944.
"What actually happened members of the German military stationed in Japanese territory in collusion with some crew members of the U-196 fled Djakarta in 1944 with a cargo hold full of gold. It is not known if the crew was originally mandated under official orders to transport the gold outside of Japanese territory and secrete it someplace for safe keeping or not. It did however, disappear. When and if it was discovered the U-196 was gone and possibly not having met an ill fate as surmised it was too late, being well beyond the reach of German authorities and the arm of the Gestapo."(source)
Why the Sea of Cortez and Sonora? After World War II an American G.I. captured by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge came forward and said he had been interrogated by camp officials as to why two German citizens suspected as being spys that worked for his father in Mexico were arrested. The question he asked himself was how did any such information ever reach that far afield? After the war he answered that question as found at the same source as the previous quote:
"Two friends and myself discovered that two of my father’s employees were spying for German U-Boats docked in the Sea of Cortez, Baja California, Mexico. One of my friends had studied Morse code and had detected the messages while we swam next to a building where the code was coming from. When my father made the discovery he had them immediately arrested."
It is my feeling that one or more of the crew members aboard the U-196 had been amongst the crew on one of the subs alluded to as being in the Sea of Cortez. Since that would have been prior to or just into 1942 the Mexican government and Gemany were still mutually engaged and cooperating. More than likely it was remembered as an idyllic time laced with fond memories of being in Mexico -- sun-drenched days, away from the perils of war, beautiful women, exotic food --- and because of such, convinced other members that would be the place to relocate and/or settle. However, right around the same time the crew member(s) left, German subs torpedoed and sank two Mexican flag vessels: the SS Potrero del LLano by U-564 on May 14, 1942 and the Faja de Oro by U-106 on May 21, 1942. After that Mexico had little option but to declare war. By late 1944 things had changed drastically and the Germans were not as welcome as they could have been, so the wayward travelers of U-196, continuing their odyssey, turned around and headed south out of the Sea of Cortez. With nothing but seeming desert on the Baja Peninsula side and the specter of the U.S. looming along the open Pacific Coast to the north and with no known safe harbor except possibly surrender and the loss of their freedom (and gold) they continued south.
Bypassing a stop at the La Palma Secret Base because of no need to do so having been fully fueled and supplied during their earlier stop and unnerved by their reception in Sonora --- plus now wanting to keep as low a profile as possible after at least one fairly high visability stop in northern Mexico, the U-196 made it's next appearance off the coast of Chile.
A former Chilean sailor living at La Serena, and a one-time crew member of Chile's main and only battleship the Almirante Latorre, allegedly told writer and historian Geoffrey Michael Brooks, a British expatriate living in Argentina and author of several U-boat and German submarine histories, during an interview --- and to my knowledge informaton of which has never shown up in any of his books --- that a large U-boat rendezvoused with the battleship in Chilean waters. The ex-sailor told Brooks that the U-boat came alongside to obtain updated maps and charts. The captain of the U-boat said he was bound for a German colony in Patagonia, possibly Caleta de los Loros. The U-boat, from sources other than Brooks, has since been identified as the U-196. As to Caleta de los Loros, a continuing series of strong rumors indicate there are two sunken U-boats just off the coast of the area, although a number of repeated dive attempts over the years by both private parties and the Argentine government have not yielded anything physically substantial.
People go on-and-on about the "fact" that all of the World War II German U-boats have been accounted for in some fashion or the other and none are listed off Caleta de los Loros. If there are two subs off the coast there they would have to be two so-called off the record "black boats," which the same people --- and their running dogs --- decry as highly unlikely BECAUSE there is no proof that such boats ever existed. Information backed up from other sources might argue otherwise.
On December 13, 1939, two years before the U.S. declared war on Gemany, the battleship-like German heavy cruiser the Admiral Graf Spee, a so-called 'pocket battleship,' was heavily damaged in a heated battle with British warships off the coast of South America. She took refuge in the River Plate estuary, a river outlet that empties into the Atlantic between Buenos Aires, Argentina on the south and Montevideo, Uruguay on the north. Under the captain's orders the ship limped into Montevideo for repairs and evacuate the wounded. The captain was told it would take at least two weeks to make the ship seaworthy. Uruguay, being a neutral country and following the rules of the Hague Convention of 1907, the Graf Spee was not entitled to stay in port longer than 24 hours without risking internment. The captain, not sure he could make the run across the estuary to Buenos Aires because of damage to the ship and an increasingly larger British threat beyond the confines of the estuary, rather than risk the lives of his crew, decided to simply scuttle her. The crew was removed and thus then, interned in the 'more friendly to Germany' Argentina for the duration.
On February 16, 1946, with the war well over with, 811 crew members of the Admiral Graf Spee were shipped home aboard the British passenger-reefer, the Motor Ship Highland Monarch (it should be noted that during the two year period between their initial internement and the end of 1941 around 23 officers along with about 200 NCOs had escaped captivity and returned to Germany). Officials of the Argentine military turned over the identity books of the returning sailors all lumped together into one big bag without checking any of them against the actual crew members that boarded the Highland Monarch. An additional 79 Admiral Graf Spee sailors were picked up at Montevideo under similar circumstances. During the voyage to Europe the identities of all of the men were matched one-on-one against the identity books. When the match-up was completed it was determined 86 of the men were not from, nor had ever served on the Admiral Graf Spee. They were instead, to a man, U-boat crew. Not one of the U.S., British, or Argentine governmental authorities connected to the repatriation were able to come up with a satisfactory answer as to how men from U-boats, especially so many, ended up in Argentina in the first place, let alone be returned to Germany to be repatriated. All three governments involved in the repatriation plus Germany have been mum on the subject with no list of submarines released matching individual sailors with a given U-boat. Speculation is that the 86 sailors smuggled aboard the Highland Monarch must have arrived in Argentina either on clandestine U-boats associated with the east coast of South America and the Caribbean or having crossed over the Andes from the Pacific side from similar clandestine boats. As for crossing the Andes, if you recall, Wattenberg and five others had crossed over the Andes in the opposite direction into Chile during their escape back to Germany after the 1939 battle of the Admiral Graf Spee.
Despite the continued stories of potential unidentified sunken submarines laying on the seabottom off the coast of Argentina, whether they are there or not, the U-196 isn't one of them. After contact with the Chilean battleship the U-196, instead of continuing south and around the tip of South America, she turned her bow directly west and using the assist of the South Equatorial Current, headed across the Pacific toward New Zealand and the island continent of Australia.
Sometime in late 2005 or the very early stages of 2006 rumblings began to surface that there existed the wreckage of a potential sunken submarine of an unknown nature laying on its side in seabed off the west coast of northern New Zealand. Two months later, in March of 2006, the suspected submarine was brought to the attention of readers of one of New Zealand's biggest selling boating magazines, Trade-A-Boat. The magazine, which covers all aspects of the New Zealand boating scene, basically reported that the submarine, which had actually been found in 1981, had been relocated after 25 years of being 'lost.' Apparently after her initial discovery storms covered her with a deep layer of sand after having shifted the hull over 440 yards from her original 1981 location.
Two and a half years later, the Trade-A-Boat information filtered down into the hands of a reporter for a northern New Zealand newspaper. On November 5, 2008 an article titled "U-boat's Kaipara secrets unveiled?" appeared in The Northern Advocate, Northland, New Zealands only regional daily newspaper. The Kaipara referred to in the title being the Kaipara District on the western side of the North Auckland Peninsula, and of our interest here because it is located in a position 4500 miles in a direct straight line due west from the coast of Chile.
Once the contents of the Northern Advocate article appeared, the ultimate fate of the U-196 came to light. Onetime curator of the Dargaville Maritime Museum and local diver, Noel Hilliam, came forward, as reported by the article's author Annette Lambly, saying that in 1981 fishermen, in the process of their fishermen duties snagged one of their nets only to discover in their attempt to remove it that it was caught up on what appeared to be a sunken vessel of some sort, a vessel having all the outward appearances of a submarine. When rumors of a sunken vessel, possibly a submarine, came to the attention of Hilliam he immediately contacted the fishermen in question and put into place a dive attempt. He found the sunken object at a depth of 40 feet located in a turbulent surf zone. Even in the churned up water and low visibility that he described as like being inside a washing machine, he was still able to determine the vessel was in fact a submarine saying she had rolled over on one side, carried a clearly distinguishable deck qun and the remains of a conning tower. He also said the bow had a neutral buoyancy but the stern was buried. How the submarine had managed to stay intact and in one piece all those years was a mystery, although in more recent times, the fact that it had been buried in sand for at least the past 25 years was considered a major contributing factor --- and a possible favorable reoccurring phenomenon over the decades.
When Hilliam's 1981 confirmation of a wrecked submarine off the coast of Kaipara District became known he was approached by three people claiming to be descendants of a surviving crew member. According to the descendants, in early mid 1945, the sub, which for the first time they identified as the U-196, had been unintentionally destroyed from an explosion caused by scuttling charges aft of the conning tower above the engine room. They also said prior to the destruction of the submarine, crew members offloaded a whole hoard of gold bullion bars which in turn, once on the beach, were discretely reloaded onto the floor-beds of two trucks. What happened to that gold is not known but the previously mentioned article that appeared in the March 2006 Trade-A-Boat magazine implied that it was later stored in a disused copper mine. What that means is not clear because copper mines are rare on the western side of the North Auckland Peninsula although small copper mines had at one time been operated in Northland near Woodville and Dun Mountain. However, only small amounts of copper had ever been produced in turn most likely rendering the mines into a disused category. There my have been other even smaller mining attempts at one time, but having any of them anywhere close to the disembarkation point would be questionable. Although it must be said, having two trucks, except for access, mines being close by would not necessarily be a major necessity.
All well and good, but what now of the fate of the crew? The U-196 was a Type IXD2 which typically carried a crew of 55-63 men. Nothing anything close to approaching that number has ever been reported as coming ashore from any source. Nor has any reports of mysterious dead German seamen washing up on the beach or anywhere along the coastline has ever surfaced. According to information provided by the descendants only 18-23 men survived the beach landing and of those that did survive, through collaborators (and no doubt gold) they were able to pass themselves off as Austrians and eventually integrate into New Zealand society.
Several things are in play here. First, there was NOT anything close to a full compliment of crew by the time the U-196 reached New Zealand. If you went to Footnote  you will find that I suspect following their departure from Penang not all officers and crew members cooperated at the level hoped for. Out voted a small number could have possibly been put adrift in life boats somewhere in or outside the Sunda Straits. If so, none seem to have survived to tell their tale. Secondly, as I say in Footnote , when the sub reached Sonora there is a chance a few of the crew may have disembarked with their share of the gold figuring when the war ended they would slip across the border into the U.S., and in preparation for same, according to continuing rumors, moved the bulk of their gold out of Mexico onto the U.S side. Third, in that the U-196 sailed west across the Pacific from Chile it always seemed odd that it ended up on the west coast of the North Auckland Peninsula rather than on the east coast. It is my belief that before ending their journey in North Auckland some of its contingent, under their own request, went ashore in Australia, placing the sub facing the west coast side of New Zealand. Last, the descendants allegedly said only 18-23 men survived the beach landing. Survived is an interesting word. What it sounds like to me is there was some sort of disagreement amongst whatever remaining crew was left and that disagreement rose to such a level some eliminated some of the others, maybe even sealing them in the front portion of the sub before setting off the scuttling charges. Being on the beach as a remaining survivor of such an action would of course carry with it a highly beneficial financial incentive by increasing one's own share of the gold.
Some people have taken issue with at least two of my contentions. First, the mutiny of sorts ending in the elimination of some of the crew members. Secondly, in that they landed on the more hazardous west side rather than the east side of the North Auckland Peninsula after having traveled west from Chile, I surmised that on the way at least some of the crew members opted for Australia rather than New Zealand. The problem they say is that in New Zealand the sub was met by two trucks with the assistance of collaborators, so some planning and logistics had to be put into place beforehand. The answers to both concerns are connected. It is my contention that the leader of the group, the glue that held it all together as it were, was amongst the members of the crew that disembarked in Australia, that is if that part of the crew ever made it to Australia in the first place. Without a strong leader, but a hold full of gold, lesser minds took over. As for the trucks, the North Auckland Peninsula is very narrow, 40 to 60 miles wide at the most in the area of our concern and easily traversed. The collaborators could have quickly dispatched the trucks to either side of the peninsula without any need for major preplanning.
The weakness to the overall story, that is, that the ultimate demise of the U-196 transpired somewhere off the coast west of Dargaville, and that in fact the remains of its sunken hulk still exists and is reachable on the ocean floor and has been dived on, is the lack of physical evidence. The two primary sources for existence of the sub, Noel Hilliam and David Child-Dennis, defend the premise but waffle when it comes to proof. Regardless of critics, Hilliam remains steadfast that high-ranking Nazis (or at least German seaman) came ashore from a submarine, said to be the U-196, in the last days of World War II. He is adamant as well that the sub had been wrecked or purposely scuttled off the western coast of Northland, and that it contained or carried a substantial amount of gold. He also, as stated previously, is said to have been in contact with descendants of Germans who had made it off the craft and settled in the north. As of at least November 2010 Hilliam has not made the whereabouts or location of the U boat available to others nor brought forth or revealed the identities of the descendants of the Northland Nazis.
However, even though his story breaks down or falls apart in other ways, albeit easily correctable, I remain sympathetic to his cause and feel there is more truth to it than fiction. The reason I say so is because I have seen with my own eyes, proof. At least for part of the story as I have laid it out above, and coincidently, that proof is related to the easily correctable breakdown to his story I mentioned in the previous paragraph.
The whole problem with the North Auckland Peninsula is that it is a low population area. It wouldn't be easy to absorb 18-23 Austrians just out of nowhere without raising questions. Besides, who's to say, since they were seasoned seaman some of them didn't catch the first tramp steamer and head for Germany. Gold opens a lot of doors. For any that remained, if they maintained a low profile and didn't have to work, that is look for jobs and that sort of thing, it would be much easier. Since they were sitting on a substantial pile of gold eeking out a living wouldn't be that difficult --- IF they maintained a low profile. In order to live the survivors would have to have access to local currency, a job to earn it or their own business. In any case, they just couldn't go throwing around gold bars anytime they wanted without attracting undue attention, and to my knowledge, Nazi owned Japanese gold bars have NEVER shown up on the public level anywhere or at anytime in the Northland area in all the years since the alleged survivors came ashore. Not so in the United States.
A good two decades before the alleged discovery of the U-196 off the coast of New Zealand became more widely known through the March 2006 article, I was cutting across Arizona from Phoenix to Flagstaff on my way to Santa Fe, New Mexico to see my Uncle who was quite ill. In the process of that cutting across I went through the mile-high old mining town of Jerome hoping to catch up with a onetime army buddy of mine who lived there. As it was, I was told he wasn't in town and not expected back for two or three days. Jerome is a small community built on the side of a mountain about 300 miles north of the Mexican border in a fairly rugged area of Arizona. It is full of boutique-like arts and crafts stores, antique shops and little restaurants. In one of the antique shops in a glass case in with a bunch of costume jewelry, old watches and other trinkets I came across something that appeared to me as being rather odd, a heavily weathered if not ancient cast ingot looking all the same as being gold. Inset on the top surface were bas-relief markings, of which one appeared to be the sacred rosette on the Native American tribe called Zuni. Along with the rosette symbol was what looked like Asian script, possibly Chinese or Japanese. There had been rumors to the effect that the Zuni were impacted by a large influx of Japanese from across the Pacific in the 13th century, but nothing ever discovered was so blatant as to have recognizable Asian script associated with it. As for the ancient Zuni there is no record of them ever having an interest in gold, and surely they never possessed the ability to cast it. However, I thought, since time immemorial the Japanese did. When I asked the woman behind the counter about the ingot she confirmed it was gold and said the owner took it out of his safe now and then and put it in the glass case just to attract attention. If it was actually for sale or not she didn't know. When I asked to speak with the owner I was told, like my army buddy, he wasn't there. 
The gold ingot continued to nag away at me, so on my way back from Santa Fe, rather than go the fastest and most convenient route I redirected myself through Jerome, hoping this time to see my army buddy and possibly speak with the store owner. As it was, I was able to do both. The store owner, who was an up there in age old man, told me that sometime right after the end of World War II a rather disheveled young man showed up staying in one of the abandoned shacks on the edge of town. The shop owner said one day the young man, who spoke with an accent, came to him and offered him the ingot for what seemed a reasonable price saying he needed the money to get back home. When pressed as to where home was, the young man said Germany. After the shop owner determined the ingot was gold he gave the young man the cash price they agreed on and the young man left never to return.
When I asked the shop owner if the ingot was for sale he quoted such a high price it was beyond reason. He said the ingot was worth way more than simply just its weight in gold because it was in fact a valuable artifact having nothing to do with the Zuni, but a relic from the war. When I asked him how so, he didn't have or was unwilling to give an answer. Still, there was something about the ingot that drew me to it, so I asked if I could make a pencil rubbing of the surface markings and have them evaluated as to their meaning, and if they proved to be anything of worth I would give him the price he requested. He agreed. Rather than go home I returned to Santa Fe to show my uncle the pencil rubbing. My uncle said the symbol did have a strong appearance to the Zuni Sacred Rosette, but he felt other things were at work. He said he knew a man who knew a man who knew a man that might know the story behind the markings. The man said sure enough, even though the markings were not the best casting and my pencil rubbing reflected that, he had seen several gold bars over the years exactly like the one the rubbing was from, usually sold by Germans or after having been bought from someone who was German. He said the Asian script was Japanese and the seal was not Zuni but the Imperial Seal of Japan. Basically the script related that the gold ingot was the property of the Emperor and was 999.9 pure. The man said the story he heard was that the Germans were submariners that had come up the Sea of Cortez with a hoard of Nazi gold that they buried along the border on the U.S. side. Over the years the bars would show up here and there, but nothing like a hoard. If the story was true, someplace along the border there was still a lot of gold. When I asked him why the Imperial Seal of Japan and not a Nazi swastika he didn't know.
In conjunction with German submarines being in Mexican waters during World War II and any possible gold associated with them, as well as much wider perimeters of same, in Footnote  linked at the end of this paragraph, you will find mention of my day long meeting and interview with Johann Kremer. Kremer was a World War II Kriegsmarine U-boat veteran and onetime crew member of the infamous U-boat captain, Jurgen Wattenberg. Although our interview was informal in that we touched on any number of topics, during our meeting we discussed and he clarified much of what I have presented here, probably more so than anyone has ever done in relation to similar type subject matter. It should be noted, Kremer, along with Wattenberg and 60 others, was one of the escapees from the Papago Park POW camp in Arizona, although it wasn't his first escape. When I was just a young boy Kremer attempted his first POW escape from a camp he was interned in near Roswell, New Mexico. By pure happenstance, that same night I was sleeping along a river not very many miles from the internment camp with a Native American spiritual elder waiting for my uncle to show up when Kremer and two other escapees, seeing our fire, walked into our camp looking for a little food and get warm.
WHY THE PSYCHOLOGICAL ADDICTION WITH SUBMARINES?
Over and over people want to know why this almost borderline psychological addiction with all this submarine stuff--- why page after page on submarines?
Basically there are two reasons. First, my uncle being shot and left to die out in the middle of the desert by Japanese operatives as found in Reason One below, and second, me as a young boy coming into the crosshairs of Axis submarines in the Indian Ocean as found in Reason Two, also below:
In 1943 and less than a year into World War II, my Uncle, who was so predominant in my early childhood and upbringing, but before I was on the scene, inadvertently stumbled across some rather alarming Axis-induced fifth column like activities in the desert southwest, more specifically that German U-boats were in the Sea of Cortez, and was shot in the back point blank by foreign operatives and left to die because of it. In 1970 he repeated to me how the events unfolded:
My uncle, who I cite often in my works, was not only a fairly well established artist in the Santa Fe, Taos area he was also as well, what I call a biosearcher. Prior to his death in 1989, as a biosearcher, he had more than a half dozen plant species named after him following years of trekking, searching, and discovering previously unknown and unnamed plants all over mostly remote and hidden areas and sections of the desert southwest. In 1943 he was biosearching alone in the then largely uninhabited mountainous and desert-like terrain in the central section of New Mexico between the New Mexico and Arizona border on the west and the north-to-south flowing Rio Grande on the east.
In the process of his biosearching he came across two men, and unusually so, both Asian. One of men was flat on his back all but unconscious and visibly quite ill after apparently having been bitten by a rattlesnake with the bite being left untreated. My uncle, after using the healing properties of indigenous plants he gathered up, soon found the man up and around. One of the men who had a rudimentary use of English told my uncle they were Japanese, were testing soil samples for radioactivity, and had been left off in Mexico by a submarine. By then my uncle was wanting to beat a hasty retreat but before he could one of the men shot him in the back. They took his truck and although they left him to bleed out he survived. In 1985 a book titled The Japanese Secret War authored by Robert K. Wilcox was published. In the book, completely independent of anything my uncle told me, Wilcox, in his own research, writes about the two Japanese spies doing soil testing in Arizona and New Mexico and the U-boat they arrived in, of which I in turn write about as found in the source so cited:
"Wilcox's book, that for the first time brought to the public's attention Japanese agents having been in the desert southwest during World War II specifically tasked with testing soil samples for radiation, was published in 1985. It was in 1970, fifteen years before Wilcox's book was published that my uncle told me about his 1943 encounter with Japanese spies soil testing deep into state of New Mexico and the fact that according to their own testimony, they had initially been brought to Mexico via German U-boat from Europe."
THE JAPANESE SECRET WAR
The second reason starts some months after the first, more specifically on the morning of Friday March 10, 1944. On that date I was a young boy traveling in India under the auspices of a foster couple and staying at the ashram of the venerated Indian holy man the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. Totally unrelated and unbeknownst to me or anybody involved with me or the parties I was with, on that same date as well, the British motor merchant MV Tulagi, loaded with a cargo of flour and 380 bags of mail sailed from Australia for Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) under control and orders of the British Admiralty. Proceeding down the New South Wales Coast, and, via the Bass Strait she rounded Cape Leuwin and on into the Indian Ocean. Seventeen days later, on March 27, 1944, with a full complement of 54 on board she was torpedoed by the German Submarine U-532 of the First Monsun Group operating out of Penang, Malaysia. She sank in 20 seconds. Of the 54 crew members only 15 survived, taking to two lifeboats. Following the torpedo attack and after 58 days adrift the seven members of ONE of the rafts finally came across a group of small islands. Just before midnight they landed on Bijoutier, a tiny island of the Alphonse Group belonging to the Outer Islands of the Seychelles. The eight members of the second raft, separated halfway into their drift from the first, basically disappeared and have never been officially accounted for. Some time after the sinking of the MV Tulgai found me in the Indian Ocean as a passenger on a lone, unescorted ship in those very same submarine infested waters on a return trip bound for England and then the U.S. During the months I was gone the woman of the couple I was with had written three letters to my father which years later eventually fell into my hands, of which the following quote refers to her comments found in her last letter:
"TheLiverpool Letter, except for several long incoherent paragraphs about picking up a live survivor or two or none at all amongst several dead in a life raft sometime before arriving or after leaving Cape Town, South Africa, circulated mostly around the logistics of bringing me home."
SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI: And The Last American Darshan
The letter so mentioned in the quote was written by the woman of a couple that took me, as a young boy, to India. In the letter she indicated that a liferaft was encountered in some fashion by the ship we were on during our return trip to England. How she worded it wasn't totally clear and could be deciphered, at least in how I read it, in a number of ways. It was clear in what she said that there was a liferaft, but IF the liferaft was encountered before or after Cape Town or IF there were or were not survivors was muddled. She didn't elaborate one way or the other or attempt to clarify the event because anything regarding the liferaft had nothing at all to do to do with the point she was trying to get across in the letter. I do not remember anything about a voyage home or anything to do with any liferafts. However, backtracking through all the events, in all my research, taking into consideration time, place, ships attacked and sunk, survivors and non survivors, etc., only one ship fits the bill, the aforementioned British motor merchant MV Tulagi. Now, I have no idea how many times the ship I was on came into the periscope crosshairs of German U-boats. However, the whole route of travel from India, around Africa and into the Atlantic on to England was crawling with submarines, every one seeking an easy, vulnerable target. Looking back it must have been pure luck, fate or karma, but in any case throughout the years I have come to appreciate the results and established in me a strong interest in how the actions and selected non-interaction of submarines and their operations, Japanese or German thereof, have impacted me and the outcome of my life.(see)
As it was, enemy submarines notwithstanding, after returning to the United States, the train I was riding on my way back to my grandmother's in California, during a high speed downhill run at over 90 miles per hour and behind schedule, hit a 55 mile per hour curve derailing between Flagstaff, Arizona and Williams throwing railroad cars off the tracks and all over the desert. Although I escaped injury, the crash, counting passengers and crew, injured 126, killing four.(see)
AND NOW THIS FROM A DISGRUNTLED READER:
(please click image)
I get a number of emails on a regular basis regarding what has been presented above in the main text about the strange odyssey of the U-196 --- and not all of it in agreement with what I've written.
Below is a link that will take you to an email I received in total disagreement with what I have presented regarding The Strange Odyssey of the German U-boat U-196. The email is from a person I refer to in semi-jest as a nothing less than a nationally known way-up-there self-proclaimed know all about submarines guy who tells me, "There is no one in the world that knows the history of the U-Bootwaffe better than we do." Oh, really? Read his email followed then by my point-by-point response to where and how I think the letter writer has gone wrong.
I have done so for two reasons. One, the letter writer on the larger scale concentrates most of his efforts covering World War II submarines and thus then should be informed, but as it applies to the U-196, at least historically in what I have presented, appears not to be. And secondly, because IF what I have presented is thought so by others as being incorrect or off base in a similar vein as well, especially by those considered as informed, I want to clarify not only what is found questionable, but WHY what I have presented is accurate as I see it.
Not many like me are left in real life that actually came under the range of the watchful eyes peering through the periscope crosshairs of a just below the surface lurking Japanese submarine or German U-boat --- all most likely pretty much loaded to the gills with fully armed and ready to launch torpedoes, all having one purpose and one purpose only --- to sink as many Allied ships as possible, even the one I was on. Remember what I wrote a few paragraphs back about me and my own experience. It gives me a different take on what I write:
"(My) whole route of travel from India, around Africa and into the Atlantic on to England was crawling with submarines, every one seeking an easy, vulnerable target. Looking back it must have been pure luck, fate or karma, but in any case throughout the years I have come to appreciate the results and established in me a strong interest in how the actions and selected non-interaction of submarines and their operations, Japanese or German thereof, have impacted me and the outcome of my life."
U-196 EMAIL: ONE MAN'S OPINION OR CHRONIC GRUMBLING?
SECRET JAPANESE SUBMARINES BASES ON
THE PACIFIC WEST COAST
WORLD WAR II COMES TO REDONDO
THE JAPANESE SECRET WAR
THE SINKING OF THE I-12
RALPH A. MULTER
GUNNER'S MATE 3rd CLASS, U.S. NAVY
ON THE RAZOR'S
As to the subject of donations, for those who may be so interested as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.
Readers of my works, especially those who nitpick everything to death or simply slam the thesis regarding what I have presented related to the U-196, continously bring up that her mission when she left Penang was not to patrol Australia, but to refuel a sister submarine in the Indian Ocean. To belay any exclusive-refueling-only aspects of her mission, for those who may be so interested, according to records, prior to U-196's departure, by orders of the Bdu (Befehlshaber der U-Boote, i.e., U-boat command HQ), she and two other boats, the U-537 and U-862, were, on September 14, 1944, given orders to patrol around, that is, circumnavigate, Australia and return to base.
The three boats were to leave at staggered intervals with the U-537 departing first, followed by the U-196 on November 30, 1944, then the U-862. As part of the U-196's mission, when she left Jakarta on November 30th there was a built in intent to supply or reach the U-510 in some fashion somewhere at sea, the U-510 having left only a few days earlier on November 26th --- the U-510 being famous for wreaking havoc all along the northern portions of the South American east coast as well as running out of fuel on a regular basis over her life of operation. That resupply intent fell mute when the U-510 limped back into port only a week later on December 3rd because of some sort of damage to her operating machinery. The supply material the U-196 was carrying, fuel or otherwise, was redesignated for the U-843 and after that, when those supply activities were completed, the U-196 was to fulfill her assigned Australian patrol until reaching a designated departure point from which she was to head to Japan for new batteries (no rendezvous between the U-196 and the U-843 ever transpired as the U-196 never showed up nor did she ever reach Japan for new batteries).
The message granting approval for the Australian operation was intercepted by Ultra at 1727 September 14 and decrypted on the day following its transmission although no individual departure dates for the missions were listed. The British Eastern Fleet Intelligence Bulletin broadcast the full text to American authorities on September 17 which were then repeated again in the text of a FRUMEL (Fleet Radio Unit Melbourne) intelligence summary dated September 18, 1944 (CRS B5553/1AA and RG457/COMINCH).
Lawrence Paterson, the highly regarded author of some fifteen to twenty books on submarines, most specifically German U-boats, in his book Hitler's Grey Wolves: U-Boats in the Indian Ocean (2004), on the fate of the U-196, writes:
"A recall order was issued to U-196 on the day of her departure, repeated six times but receiving no response. The presumed position of the U-196 continued to be charted, BdU's War Diary entry of 12 December illustrated the bewilderment and blind hope as to Strigegler's whereabouts and trusting to a faulty communications problem as the cause of persistent silence.
"Finally, on 22 December BdU admitted the inevitable, informing Dommes that they consider U-196 sunk by enemy submarines shortly after leaving Jakarta --- probably ambushed in the Sunda Strait. In actuality the Allies, who had followed the signal exchange with interest, were equally perplexed as to Striegler's fate. Allied submarines within the area had made no claims and the Sunda Strait was not minded until weeks later by a Dutch submarine. U-196 and her crew of 66 had simply disappeared."
NOTE: The aforementioned "Striegler" in the above quote was the U-196 commander, Kapitänleutnant (posthumous) Werner Striegler. The "Dommes" so mentioned was Fregattenkapitän Wilhelm Dommes, commander of U-boats in the Indian Ocean and the first commander of the U-boat base in Penang serving as the head of the Southeast Asia U-boat region.
You may recall the paragraph located immediately above the graphic this footnote is cited from that in the beginning reads:
"As clean cut and easy as it may have sounded, not all the rogue officers and renegade crew members may have cooperated at the level hoped for. Even though the U-196 was stricken from the records after having been listed as missing, however remotely as some suggest, blown up or sunk by mines in the Sunda Straits south of Java, at least one actual known crew member is known to be buried, and possibly two more, among the ten World War II German gravesites located at Cikopo Plantation (in Jakarta)."
IF going back and continuing with the aforementioned paragraph taken in context and in full does not carry within itself even a tiny amount of truth as presented, then lacking or without such truth, for me --- and no doubt any number of others as well --- there crops up a major question that becomes worthy of an answer, or at least as I see it, it does. That question is:
How is it that at least one fully confirmed crew member of the U-196, Dr. Heinz Haake, ended up buried six feet under in a hard-ground mountain grave in the previously mentioned German military cemetery located above the Sunda Straits in Jakarta?
What did Haake do, float up from the bottom of the ocean on his own? Even if he did who found him, identified the body and buried him? Somebody must have, after all, one only has to look at the gravestone with Haake's name on it to see U-196 clearly carved onto it as well as the date that is usually associated with the sub's demise as is found on the following graphic:
(for larger size click image then click again)
Below is a simple hand drawn diagram of Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof, Arca Domas. Numbers on list below match the locations of the circled numbers on the diagram. Number 8 on the diagram, diagonally on the lower right, is the grave location of Dr. Heinz Haake. The photograph immediately below the diagram shows Dr. Haake's grave in that diagonal position.
Again, as with the graphic of the headstone above, if you click either one of the images below, the map or the diagonal gravesite, then click it a second time you will get a much larger version of the photo than presented on the page:
- 1. GRAVE: Lieutenant Willi Schlummer
- 2. GRAVE: Obergefreiter Willi Petschow
- 3. GRAVE: Lieutenant W. Martens
- 4. GRAVE: Carpenter Eduard Onnen
- 5. GRAVE: Lieutenant of Reserve Friederich Steinfeld U-195
- 6. GRAVE: Lieutenant Hermann Tangermann
- 7. GRAVE: Lieutenant engineer Wilhelm August Jens
- 8. GRAVE: Lieutenant Dr. Heinz Haake, OLt.ing.Dr.Med.MOAssArzt.DR, military doctor, U-196
- 9. GRAVE: The Unknowns (two grave sites)(possibly U-196 crew members)
- 10. Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof Memorial
- 11. Tugu Peringatan German-East Asian Squadron
- 12. The Buddha statue
- 13. Statue of Ganesha
- 14. Sculpture Kala
FROM DR. HAAKE'S GRAVE LOOKING DOWN THE ROW OF THE OTHER SEVEN. BOTH OF THE TWO UNKNOWN'S FACE THE SEVEN.
THE SAME SCENE FROM THE OPPOSITE END. HAKKE'S GRAVE IS THE LAST ON THE FAR LEFT.
HEADSTONES OF BOTH UNKNOWNS. POSSIBILITY EXISTS THEY WERE U-196 CREW MEMBERS
Further down the page in Footnote  I make mention of the fact that over a two day period during the year 1985 I met with a former World War II Kriegsmarine U-boat crew member together with a one time prisoner of war from the Papago Park POW camp, Arizona, also a former Kriegsmarine U-boat crew member. The three of us met in a small Nevada town located along the Colorado River called Laughlin. During my time there, while sitting and talking with the ex-POW, who I had already met, the second Kriegsmarine U-boat crew member stepped up out of the crowd to our table, and speaking only German, introduced himself to the ex-POW. To wit the following as found in Footnote :
"The man made it clear that during the war he was never an internee or prisoner at the Papago Park POW camp, but instead had been a crew member on a submarine he identified as a Type IXD2 from the Monsun Gruppe 33rd Flotilla operating out of Penang, Malaysia, and without clarifying, or at least as Kremer excluded or related it to me, said he ended up in Sonora, Mexico."
There is a formidable war memorial in Germany dedicated to the memory of all U-boat officers and men who served and lost their lives at sea in the German Navies during World War I and II called the U-Boot-Ehrenmal Möltenort (Möltenort U-Boat Memorial) located in the seaside resort of Heikendor just off the Baltic Sea. The memorial has a high, large half-circle-wall with the open section of the half circle facing toward a central monument. On either side of the walls are a series of metal plates, one each for each U-boat and each plate containing the names of those who lost their lives in the line of duty in each of the so designated U-boats. One of the memorial plates is dedicated to the U-196. Both the names and birthdates of Dr. Heinz Haake and the man who approached the former POW in Laughlin appear on the plate, the man of which who by the way I met peripherally. Peripherally in that the two of us were introduced to each other by Kremer --- in German --- and after a brief shaking hands that was about it. The rest of the conversation was between he and Kremer while I for the most part, sat idly by.(see)
(please click image)
The question still remains, the U-196, one way or the other, sunk or not, how did Hakke's body end up buried in the German Military Cemetery above the Sunda Strait in Indonesia and how was I able to shake the hand of a dead man (i.e., the man who approached the former POW in Laughlin and I was introduced to)?
I get a lot of emails regarding what I have presented throughout this page regarding The Strange Odyssey of the U-196 --- and not all of it in agreement with what I've written. However, shaking hands with a dead man, a one time U-196 crew member, and what I have put together about Dr. Heinz Haake that you've just read, should put a little meat to the bone as to the accuracy of the content regardless of what others may or may not think.
Below is a link that will take you to one example of an email I received in total disagreement with what I has been presented here --- followed then by a point-by-point response to where and how I think the letter writer has gone wrong. I have done so in order to clarify some of what the email writer finds questionable, especially so in case any of you, as readers of my works, harbor similar or like feelings. See:
U-196 EMAIL: ONE MAN'S OPINION OR CHRONIC GRUMBLING?
There is a good chance a few of the crew may have gone ahead and disembarked with their share of the gold figuring when the war ended they would slip across the border into the U.S. and simply blend in with returning G.I.s or released German POWs. In preparation they apparently moved a good portion of their gold from Mexico onto the U.S side, possibly for some, as far north as Chloride, Arizona, some 250 miles or more north of the border.
As for continuing stories of larger caches of gold, there are strong rumors even to this day that stores of Third Reich gold intended for use by high ranking German officials covering their bets for after the war, not all necessarily Nazis, was stashed by agents somewhere along the 120 mile stretch of border between Yuma and Lukeville. Why Third Reich affiliated agents would stash gold right along the border on the U.S. side while some of the on-the-run U-196 crew members would go so far north as Chloride is not known, especially so for not knowing or being familiar with the territory. The thing is, no matter where any alleged U-196 gold may have been moved in North or Central America, there is a good chance if it exists most of it is still there because be assured not long after they would have left the graces of U-196, especially after it became known that a German submarine had made an unscheduled stop at the secret base, German agents would have picked up their trail and that would have been the end of them --- but not the gold.
There is an American who has been in contact with me over a period of time that is a sometime resident of the Sonoran village area along the coast of the Sea of Cortez known as Las Dunas Santo Tomas. He has told me there are parts of a wrecked F6F Navy Hellcat that shows up scattered in the sand along the beach during extra low tide events. A long time local, an old Mexican man, told him the wreck happened sometime in 1942 or 1943. Although the plane washed ashore later the old man said his father rescued the pilot who told him "they" had bombed a German ship or submarine although he wasn't sure of which. A few weeks later American troops arrived in Puerto Penasco, also known as Rocky Point, about 75 miles north, taking trawlers down to the site, loading up many large crates and boxes and returning to the states with them.
The American also tells me there is a place about 3 miles south of Santo Tomas that has been known as Germans Point for 50 years. Old timers in and around the Santo Tomas area tell the story about an old Nazi that had a fish shack there who was said by him to have come off a German sub in the war.....he went back to Germany in the 70s or 80s.....a good fisherman who always paid for his supplies with gold.(see)
WW II PRATT & WHITNEY DOUBLE WASP RADIAL ENGINE FROM
CRASHED NAVY HELLCAT IN THE SAND OFF SONORA, MEXICO.
F6F NAVY HELLCAT, NAZI SUBS, AND
THE BAJA MEXICO CRASH SITE
At the time of the battle between the Admiral Graf Spee and the British warships off the coast of Argentina in December 1939 there was amongst the officer ranks a man by the name of Jurgen Wattenberg. Wattenberg would eventually become infamous throughout the annals of the war for a number of reasons. He, like other members of the officer ranks and crew were interned in Argentina after being removed from the ship just prior to it being scuttled. During his internment Wattenberg was able to contact members of the local German community and through his efforts and initiative they supplied him and others with civilian clothes and paperwork. By 1941 Wattenberg and all but six of the Graf Spee's officers had crossed over the Andes into Chile, flying back to Germany by civilian airliners.
Upon returning to Germany Wattenberg was assigned to a U-boat as commander and was eventually captured again. Again he ended up in an internment camp, only this time in the United States. In an article titled The Arizona Prisoner of War Great Escape author Cecil Owen writes:
"Wattenberg was shuffled from one camp to another, for nobody wanted to keep him. He was considered a "Super Nazi" because he caused trouble everywhere he was sent. Finally he was transferred to Papago Park prisoner of war camp, in the Arizona desert. This location was only 13 miles from the city of Phoenix, the capital of Arizona. The camp covered several thousand acres and was divided into two sections. (One section for German and Italian prisoners and one section for Japanese prisoners.)"
Wattenbergs's constant trouble-making and eventual transfer to Papago Park POW camp was all a part of a much larger master plan to get him as close as possible to the Colorado River. As soon as he arrived at the camp he set about orchestrating an escape, putting into place an elaborate scheme that included a 178 foot long tunnel reaching beyond the compound fences that ended right along a canal. When the tunnel was completed and the escapees were ready to go with false IDs, civilian clothes, etc., word was somehow passed to the submarine waiting in the Sea of Cortez. On December 23, 1944, a total of 60 men including Wattenberg escaped.
Wattenberg was about mid-way on the list of teams leaving the camp. That way if early members were caught the escape could be aborted. If the last members leaving were caught the ones who left early could be long gone. The intent for Wattenberg's crew, after exiting the tunnel, was to slip into the waist-deep water of the Cross Cut Canal and using canoes, float down the canal to the Salt River, then to the Gila River and on to the Colorado River. Special canoes had been constructed which could be taken apart and carried through the tunnel in pieces. Whoever built them had blocked the drains in the shower and successfully tested the assembeled canoes for water-tightness sufficiently enough for Wattenberg to be willing to use them. Wattenberg's destination, along with a select few within the 60 escapees, was an unusual spot along the Colorado River, a bridge covered with swastikas associated with the first dam on the river, the Laguna Diversion Dam. Although three or four members of his crew did show up at the dam, Wattenberg never did. The reason for their escape and their eventual mission can be found in:
GERMAN SUBMARINE ATTACK
ON HOOVER DAM
David Child-Dennis, New Zealand author on many subjects but seemingly a single focus lecturer-commentator on the U-196, has stated in the promo lead-ups to his speeches, but unconfirmed elsewhere, that a body of a German Waffen SS officer was discovered in a shallow grave near Dargaville. Child-Dennis also says that according to locals, after the crew made their way ashore, probably at night, there appears to have been a dispute immediately after landing, during of which one of the crew was shot.
Where Child-Dennis' specific sources for information regarding the U-196, either finite or general comes from is not known. If it is simply no more than a rehash, puffing up, or parroting of what Hilliam has reported OR, if independent of Hilliam Child-Dennis has dived the wreck himself and/or personally interviewed the descendants is never made clear, at least in print or his online offerings. He does seem to have a better grasp on some rather more intimate intricacies and details, if accurate, than Hilliam presents. As for Child-Dennis and myself, a great deal of the ultimate fate of the U-196, her final days and her final hours as presented by him (below) and what I believe to have happened during the same period of time, parallel almost exactly. Other than that last days parallel however, we veer apart dramatically, with his overall premise in total disagreement with what I present.
As for his presentation of the U-196 approaching New Zealand from the north and a a long dogleg west preparing to make landfall near Dargaville would all fit well into my thesis of the sub having gone to Australia first then doubling back toward New Zealand. Child-Dennis writes:
Approaching New Zealand from the north, the German U-boat slipped into the Tasman Sea, well clear of the American supply lines running from Fiji to Townsville. Submerging during daylight hours to avoid the air and sea patrols, the submarine, her batteries almost exhausted and air rapidly fouling, carefully surfaced to continue towards New Zealand. Wartime submarine crews will never forget that first, ear popping, rush of fresh, clean air, as the diesels restart. By dawn, she had recharged her batteries and air supply to return to the depths and continue her slow crawl south.
May in northern New Zealand waters is generally fine and warm, but cool after dark. The U-boat had reached the coast just north of Dargaville, in the early hours of the first available moonless night, some time in mid-May.(see) Everyone aboard understood Germany had surrendered on May 8th, but their former ally, Japan, was still at war and the U-boat was likely to be mistaken for a Japanese submarine. They could not relax their guard for a second.
By the end of the fifth day at sea, the boat was preparing to make landfall near Dargaville. After a long dogleg west out into the Tasman, to avoid the air patrols from Waipapakauri, the boat made best speed due east towards the planned rendezvous. Everyone not needed below was ordered on deck, to watch stations and make ready to leave the boat. After three nerve-wracking hours, the sandy beaches of the Dargaville coast suddenly appeared through the sea mist. They had made it. But what next?
The crew immediately took to the life rafts, taking only small personal possessions with them. With a final check, the captain and chief engineer set scuttling charges, and, with a last glance at an old comrade, joined the waiting crew. Within half an hour they had reached the beach. They never saw U-196 vanish beneath the waves when the explosives tore open her forward compartment to the sea. The last thing they heard was a series of dull thuds, and silently marked her passing.
DAVID CHILD-DENNIS: Top Secret – German WWII Submarine Found North Of Auckland
When I was in the military I was found in a ditch beside the road totally unconscious with my stomach ripped open. I was taken to a field hospital where it was clear I had flatlined. Determined by electronic monitors and those that be to be dead I was put into a body bag and stacked on a loading dock with a bunch of other bodies for dispatch to wherever stacked bodies ultimately go.
A onetime bottom-of-the-line GI everybody called "the Cat" (a play on his name), who went on to eventually receive a bronze star, was a former or to-be 1st Air Cav medic on TDY doing routine corpse duty when he came across my partially unzipped body bag. In the process of closing the bag we BOTH somehow discovered I most likely no longer fell into the specifically dead catagory. Months later he told me that sometimes shift workers, when they find that a person has died on their shift, will put the body in the shower and let hot or warm water run on them --- sometimes for hours --- then, just before they go off shift, put the body back where it belonged for the next shift to find and deal with. The only thing is, in my case, this time the GIs who did it were caught. Even though my body had dropped quite a bit less than normal temperature, if not "warm" (because of the hot running water of the shower), my body was still at least supple. In the fact that I had absolutely no vital signs that anybody could tell --- and it had been previously noted that I flatlined --- I was hastily stuffed into the body bag without further checking. Hours later the Cat came across me no longer DOA and helped me out of the bag.
When the Cat and I crossed paths that day for the very the first time he was a fresh-faced GI just turned 19 or so with a medic MOS. I think he was OJT with no real assignment, hence the TDY corpse duty. I was several years older than him and had been around for awhile. Because of the unusual nature of our first meeting we kept in contact in the early days, enough so that he followed me to college, attending the same university. In those days we took several classes on and off together and hung out, but as time went our interests diverged and we ended up going our separate ways. I've only seen him maybe one time in 40 years, catching up with him for a few days in the old mining town in Arizona where he ended up living.
THE SAIGON TEA GIRL
ZUNI-TYPE ROSETTE PETROGLYPH IN THE VALLEY OF FIRE
NOT FAR FROM THE VEGAS STRIP AND COLORADO RIVER.
ZUNI ROSETTE AT TOP
IMPERIAL SEAL BOTTOM
Because of rather extensive travels throughout the desert southwest with my Uncle from a very young age I had developed a fairly strong general working knowledge of Native Americans cultures, absorbing as a second nature many of their subtle intricacies. One day when I was around ten years old on a trip to San Rafael Swell that included Bryce and Zion Canyons, and just at the very beginning of my Native American learning curve, we stopped at a major petroglyph site north of Las Vegas, Nevada less than 20 miles from the Colorado River called the Valley of Fire. While exploring the various petroglyphs my uncle pointed out several glyphs he said that except for the difficulty of being hand-etched into the rock surface, and in the same way the big horn sheep and the human figures are abstracted, they duplicated the Zuni Sacred Rosette --- explaining that if so, their location would be unusual in that the Zuni was a tribe known to inhabit areas well to the east. Because of like and similar type input over time I became familiar enough with the Zuni culture to know that they used the rosette amongst their symbology, however never to my knowledge, tied directly to any kind of recognizable Asian script.
As for any potential connection between the Japanese and Zuni and turning those potential connections into the realm of fact, there is an anthropologist, Nancy Yaw Davis PhD, who promulgates a theory that does just that. Although the idea first came to her in the 1960s, vague rumors always abounded about the connection. Davis breeched the subject on the wider public level for the first time in 1991 at a brown-bag lunch presentation at the University of New Mexico under the title "The Zuni Enigma: 13th Century AD Asian Influence?" The contents of the presentation turned into a paper titled "The Zuni Enigma," published in the NEARA JOURNAL Summer/Fall 1992 (Vol. 27, nos. 1&2), (New England Antiquities Research Association, 3 Whitney Dr., Paxton, MA 01612). It was later reprinted in "Across before Columbus? Evidence for Transoceanic Contacts with the Americas prior to 1492" Donald Y. Gilmore and Linda S. McElroy editors (1998), pages 125-140, becoming then a stand alone book in 2001 under the title "The Zuni Enigma."
Davis, in her presentations and various publications, cites as evidence in support of her theory what she describes as a number of striking parallels in language, religion and crafts between the Zuni and Japanese. Not only does she present convincing similarities in the tradition of both, but which are, in relation to the Zunis, totally distinct from other Native American cultures. Also, according to her research, she has found strong biological links through blood type, tooth shape, skull configuration as well as a not very widespread kidney ailment (mesangiopathic glomerulonephritis) both prominent in the Zuni and the Japanese but rare otherwise. The Zuni Rosette and the Imperial Seal of Japan as seen to the right and cited by Davis in her book, is just one more of those things that add to the enigma.
Growing up as I did as a young boy in the milieu of World War II the war was always big for me. Even though I played cowboys a lot as a kid I also spent a lot of time playing army as well. Surplus stores were all over after the war and I had every imaginable piece of infantry garb and military gear I could get my hands on including steel helmets, pistol belts, hand held signaling mirrors, and even lace-up leggings like they used to wear in the Pacific back when the war first broke out. But, it wasn't always simply play, much of what I did as play was seeped with history.
My whole life it seems I have been fascinated with and by secret codes. People who knew me as a young boy recount that after I got my first Captain Midnight decoder badge, which I actually took from my older brother, they never saw me without it. They say me coveting the decoder raised a huge a fuss in the family, but my mother, seeing that using it was dealing with letters and numbers and me learning them at such an early age, bought a bunch of Ovaltine and sent for another decoder just for me. Even as a draftee in the military in my early twenties, no sooner had I finished basic than the Army sent me to attend high level school training as a cryptographer, which required a top secret clearance and weeks of learning how to send and receive Morse code.(see)
Years before the Army, as a kid traveling with my uncle in the desert southwest, after I hearing about the role of the Navajo as Code Talkers I always had a deep respect for what they did --- and still do. I thought that was the coolest thing, Native Americans, the Navajo, being placed on the war front and speaking their own language back and forth between themselves and the whole of the Japanese war machine from Hirohito and Tojo to the lowest private not being able to decode or make heads or tails out of what was being said.(see)
However, at the same time I was hearing about Navajo code talkers I was also hearing about their neighbors the Zuni --- and why as a young boy I knew about the Zuni.
During the early stages of the war I grew up in a beach town in southern California. We were always having blackouts. My dad was an Air Raid Warden. Japanese submarines were constantly prowling up and down off the coast sinking ships and shelling oil refineries. On Christmas morning 1941 the American lumber freighter S.S. Absaroka was torpedoed by the aircraft equipped Japanese sub the I-19 just off the coast where I lived. Then in October 1942 a two-man Japanese Midget Submarine washed up on shore just a few blocks from my house after being bombed from the air and was said to have two dead officers onboard.
TWO-MAN JAPANESE- MIDGET SUBMARINE MOUNTED
ADJACENT TO THE MOTHER SHIP'S CONNING TOWER
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It was during that strong anti-Japanese fervent I was raised, after which I carried an ingrained knowledge of the Japanese being the chief belligerents we faced during the Pacific war for several years. Most of the adult men younger than my dad and uncle had been in the Army or Navy. Many of my teachers right on through high school, including some of the women teachers, had been in the military. Right after the war I even stayed with an ex-Marine taxi driver that had fought in every major battle in the Pacific from Guadalcanal northward and, although he was mostly silent on any level of his participation, on occasion he would regale me with a story or two if they underlined an important point that needed to be supported in some fashion.
It was right after the war with me still a young boy that I started traveling around the desert southwest with my uncle and began interacting with Native Americans that I heard about Navajo code talkers for the first time. It was during that same period, long before the Davis breakthrough discovery of any similarities between the Japanese and Zuni languages, that I had heard about the Zuni, a Native American tribe living in the same general area as the Navajo. How the story came down to me was the military was able to use the Navajo as code talkers but not the Zuni because the Zuni spoke Japanese.
Davis notwithstanding, and although strong connections and similarities may exist between the two languages, truth be told, the Zuni really didn't speak Japanese per se' as I had heard as a young boy. However, for me coming out of the World War II fervent, hearing they spoke Japanese was something I didn't forget. When my uncle pointed out the petroglyph saying it closely resembled the Zuni Sacred Rosette it wasn't long before I knew who the Zuni were. What I didn't know, even up until adulthood, was that the rosette so closely resembled the Japanese Imperial Seal. When I saw the rosette on the gold ingot I related it as belonging to the Zuni. Then, seeing the Asian script along with the rosette and remembering a potential Japanese-Zuni connection from my childhood I thought I had a major archaeological find on my hands.
THE ZUNI ENIGMA
THE WANDERLING AND HIS UNCLE
Their Life and Times Together
BUDDHISM IN AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS
Anybody who has any amount of the desert southwest in their veins knows it is laced with stories of lost treasure from top to bottom. So too, as much as those stories are loved, almost none of them ever end up with any sort of a positive results regarding wealth or riches for the majority of treasure seekers.
When I was a kid my dad used to tell stories about the Lost Dutchman Mine located somewhere in the mysterious Superstition Mountains of Arizona, always saying he was going to search for it one day. I remember he even had a book, Thunder God's Gold (1945), that devoted several chapters giving all the clues and directions on how to find it, but, to my knowledge, he never went looking for it. A few years after the book came out a movie based on the chapters in the book on the Lost Dutchman Mine was released titled The Lust For Gold (1949) going over the same basic clues albeit in a narrative or story-like style. I must have seen the movie a 1000 times, or at least more than once, and have to admit the mine and the treasure of gold it is said to hold has a certain inexplicable draw to it.
As for the cast gold ingot I saw in antique store in Jerome with a seal that at first I thought was the Zuni Sacred Rosette together with Asian script turning out to be actually of World War II Japanese origin, and according to the man my uncle knew telling me similar ingots had shown up more than once in the hands of Germans during or shortly after World War II, raised more questions than answers.
There are rumors all over the desert that caches of Nazi gold had been stashed in any number of places in the desert, most notedly Arizona and more specifically the ghost town of Chloride located maybe 23 miles north of Kingman. And that's the punchline, caches of Nazi gold. None of it has shown up anywhere ever, at least to my knowledge. However, I personally saw the gold ingot sitting in a display case an antique shop in Arizona, not with a Nazi swastika emboldened on the surface as always seems to be depicted in the legends of Nazi gold, BUT instead imprinted with the Imperial Seal of Japan.
If you remember from the main text above, gold was used by the Japanese Imperial Government to purchase uranium oxide from the Germans. In turn the gold was intended to be shipped through to Germany via the same U-boats that delivered the uranium to Japan, but instead began piling up in the German held Asian submarine ports because of being bumped by more important strategic materials. Also from the main text above I say that a number of Nazis and German military, senior or otherwise, living in south Asian Japanese occupied territory, possibly in collusion with some crew members of the U-196 fled from Djakarta in 1944 (rather than France) with a cargohold full of gold.
I also said that there was a chance some of the crew, my guess 10 or 15 members, possibly a few more, may have gone ahead and disembarked in Sonora, Mexico taking their share of the gold with them figuring when the war ended they would slip across the border into the U.S. and simply blend in with returning G.I.s or released German POWs. In preparation they apparently moved the bulk of their gold from Mexico onto the U.S side. That is where or how SOME of the rumors of Nazi gold being stashed in the desert may have originated. However, as you can see it could not have been very much and it wasn't Nazi gold per se' but actually Japanese gold on route to Germany intended as payment to the Reich. It just never made it that far.
As is easily apparent, my more admirable idea of having found physical proof of a connection between the Zuni and ancient Japanese lying in amongst a bunch of trinkets and old watches in some obscure shop in Jerome quickly went by the wayside, instead adding more credibility and strength to the stories of German submarines in the Sea of Cortez, most likely the U-196, and stashes of gold hidden away in the desert, most likely from members of the crew of the U-196. For more, please see also Footnote .
In May of 1945, in the southern hemisphere, the moon was in the new moon phase on Friday the 11th.
VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK
LUST FOR GOLD
My Stepmother died in December 1985 at age 81. Late in the year 1984, almost exactly one year to-the-day before she died, after not seeing or hearing from her for a whole decade my stepmother contacted me out of the blue through my younger brother.(see) After she and I went about apologizing to each other for being so remiss in not seeing each other for so many years she told me she called because her long time former ranch foreman Leo was in desperate need to contact me. Leo told me he had a badge or medal of some kind that came into his possession years before that had been taken by a U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer from a German submariner who had escaped from a POW camp in Arizona. He heard through old contacts there was going to be a reunion of sorts of former camp POWs and he felt there was a good chance the submariner was going to attend. Leo told me he himself was too old, sick and weak to travel, but knew, since I was aware of the full extent of the story, would I, for him, be willing to return the medal to the ex-POW --- and if he wasn't there to seek out someone who could get it back to him or his heirs.(see)
The very instant I saw the medal I knew I had seen it before. It was way back in the summer of 1953. That summer, with my stepmother's approval, sometime between the time I became a friend or acquaintance of the Chief Petty Officer but before I was going to leave the ranch at the end of summer, the Chief, along with the ranch foreman Leo, took me across the desert to a location along the Colorado River to show me where a submarine was found along the riverbank about nine years earlier and how it was they were able to haul it out.
During that trip, when we holed up for the night in the old mining town of Searchlight, Nevada, in a place called the El Rey Club: Resort and Casino, the Chief showed me a number of trinkets and things like ID cards and stuff related to the sub's crew, or at least prison camp internees he somehow had. I clearly remember the medal being amongst them, because I, the 15 year old boy or so that I was, even pinned it on --- with Leo in turn grabbing at it telling me to "get that fuckin' thing off your shirt." It was sometime after that the medal must have fallen into Leo's possession.
On Monday, January 7, 1985, and on-and-off almost all of the next day, without getting into a whole lot of the logistics other than the fact the former POW wasn't where he was supposed to be according to what the foreman told me, he having already left, with me then having to chase him all over Arizona clear to the Grand Canyon and back --- and still not catching him until he ended up at the Riverside Hotel and Casino along the Colorado River in Laughlin, Nevada. There I dutifully returned his medal, which was actually a U-boat War Badge, and in doing so, in an oddball sort of way, with near tears in his eyes, set into motion for he and I to be best friends like a couple of long lost old Army buddies or Navy shipmates.
Although the story is a little more complicated than I want to get into here, both leading up to and during, what happened was, basically toward the end of the war the Chief Petty Officer ended up on the POW camp interrogation team and absconded with the badge, just taking it whether the POW liked it or not. The badge fell into Leo's hands along the way and after he found out how important it was, the one time Pacific Fleet boxing champion and staunch anti-Nazi he was, apparently with a different set of values than the Petty Officer and the war long over, vowed, regardless of the Chief's actions, one sailor to the next, given the chance, he was going to return it.
The following quote, from the source cited, quickly sums up how the Chief Petty Officer became a part of the events:
"As a former submariner he had been assigned to a quickly put together Navy team sent out from close by (for the Navy) China Lake to recover the craft. Although they arrived too late to actually be in charge, he was ordered to consult with the Army team on how to remove, float, and transport the semi-damaged vessel. The POW folk, especially the spit-and-polish camp provost marshal Captain Cecil Parshall, felt they were being looked down on as not really being military enough by their Army brethren and didn't like how the fly boys had treated them. Since the Navy sort of ended up losers in it all too, the POW folk, ordered by higher ups to cooperate after the Army whined about it, thinking they would have an ally, simply aced out the Air Corps personnel and brought in the Navy, asking the Chief, who had been on the scene as well, to join their interrogation team.
La Palma Secret Base
As for the ex-POW, his name was Johann Kremer. He said, as found in Footnote , that he had escaped side-by-side along with the infamous U-boat captain, Jurgen Wattenberg and 60 others from the Papago Park POW camp in Arizona and, like Wattenberg, never made it to their intended goal, the Colorado River. But here he was now, 40 years later, after visiting the Grand Canyon the day before, standing there next to me along the Colorado River recounting tales of days gone by.
During Kremer and our time together at the Riverside, with absolutely no connection with what was going on between the two of us then or ever --- nor why he was in Laughlin in the first place --- Kremer was approached by a man who identified himself as a former Kriegsmarine U-boat crew member. The man told Kremer he was at the time, currently living a few miles south from a place along the coast of the Sea of Cortez in Sonora, Mexico called Las Dunas Santo Tomas, and had been doing so since before the end of World War II. Initially, after that short introduction and with me in attendance the man was hesitant to say much of anything more. However, apparently Kremer feeling comfortable enough with me and having taken me into his confidence he assured the man, in so many words, I was someone to be trusted. Even so, while the three of us were together Kremer and the other man only spoke in German so I really didn't get the full gist of the story he was telling, although intermittently Kremer would turn and explain to me parts of the conversation. During the conversation the man, after removing something from what looked like a well-worn bowling bag he had next to him on the floor, set a small open-top olive drab cloth bag on the table that contained within itself a rather snug fitting cardboard box.
The small bag was definitely one-time military. Printed on the outside in black, not in German, but English, was a series of words and numbers. With me being basically left out of the conversation and with nothing to do I indiscreetly nudged the bag around toward me so I could read the words and numbers more clearly. In the process I discovered the bag and box, which was maybe six or seven inches high and about 3X5 wide and width, to be quite heavy. The printing read 7.62 MM NATO Linked 100 RDS.
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Eventually the man opened the top of the cardboard box. Inside, with me expecting to see a bunch of 7.62 NATO rounds, was instead, what looked to me like two small cast or a cut into a couple of pieces gold ingot about the size of two paperback pocket books back-to-back. When the man pulled one of the pieces part way out to show Kremer, it is exactly what it was. The man made it clear that during the war he was never an internee or prisoner at the Papago Park POW camp, but instead had been a crew member on a submarine he identified as a Type IXD2 from the Monsun Gruppe 33rd Flotilla operating out of Penang, Malaysia, and without clarifying, or at least as Kremer excluded or related it to me, said he ended up in Sonora, Mexico and that there was more gold where that came from.
One of the things I recall vividly from the meeting --- because to me it was so interesting and so off subject --- was that even though Laughlin wasn't that far north from the place he left in Mexico, he had been on the road several days. He said it took him longer than the distance would indicate because not only he couldn't speak English but he didn't have any papers. Thus said, even though it was only somewhat over three hundred miles, it had taken him days to get to Laughlin. I remember it specifically because he said, as it was translated to me, his 60th birthday was coming up the very first part of March and after taking care of some business in the U.S. somewhere in the mountains near Kingman, Arizona, he had to get back to some rendezvous spot to meet some guy that was going to get him back across the border and home. If the home he was alluding to was in Germany or in Mexico, what his birthday during the first part of March had to do with it, or why the need to go into the mountains somewhere near Kingman or what his ultimate fate after that was, I don't know. I refer you back to a sub-section to Footnote .
After a couple of days, just as we were parting, Kremer told me almost everybody in the group traveling with him, after a quick stop at the old mining town of Oatman and then on to see the London Bridge at Lake Havasu, planned to follow the Colorado River south to see the infamous swastika bridge associated with the Laguna Diversion Dam and from there he said, head over to Phoenix to catch a plane to a connecting flight back to Germany.
The thing is, as tranquil as it all seemed, my meeting with Kremer in Laughlin wasn't the first time I ever met him. In a previous paragraph I write that the story is a little more complicated than I want to get into here. I say so because of that first meeting, a meeting that occurred when I was just a young boy and he attempted his first POW escape from a camp he was interned in near Roswell, New Mexico. I was sleeping along a river one night about 20 miles south of Roswell with a Native American spiritual elder waiting for my uncle, and with no knowledge of there being a POW camp anywhere remotely in the vicinity, Kremer and two other escapees, seeing our fire, walked into our camp looking for food. See:
THE SPIRITUAL ELDER AND THE SANTA FE CHIEF
NOTE: Up to this point this same footnote, Footnote , is found in basically the same format and form as a footnote in German Submarine Attack on Hoover Dam. However, from here on out on the Hoover Dam page there is a big difference. The difference is that what follows in the footnote found on the Hoover Dam page --- and does not show up here or any where else for that fact --- is more directly related to Wattenberg and Kremer's involvement in the attack on the dam than what is found elsewhere or on this U-196 page. On the Hoover Dam page I go directly into what Kremer himself told me about his own personal level of involvement as the two of us stood side-by-side along the Colorado River together as mentioned above. See:
GERMAN SUBMARINE ATTACK ON HOOVER DAM
LOST AND MISSING U-BOATS FROM WORLD WAR II
THE BRITISH MOTOR MERCHANT TULAGI
JAPANESE INVASION OF INDIA
DURING WORLD WAR II
The small Arizona-Mexico border town of Lukeville mentioned in Footnote  was named after the World War I American of German immigrant descent come war hero and flying ace Frank Luke Jr., known famously on both sides of the action as "the balloon buster." Luke was born in Phoenix, the third generation of an early line of Arizona German immigrants. His grandfather, Charles Luke, was a member of a mining contingent attacked by Native Americans in Alumn Wash near the Silver Hills mine in Chloride on September 22, 1866, ending in all members of the party killed except Luke.
In 1972 a popular television series of the time, Kung Fu, was first aired. In the series a young boy was being trained to be a monk by a Shaolin master, the boy often being called "grasshopper" by the master. A friend of mine from my old Army days had been stationed in Germany and while there married a German woman after which they had two kids. On occasion I overheard the mother affectionately calling the youngest of her two children, a boy, grasshopper, and did so in her native language, German. I recognized the German word for grasshopper during the conversation being spoken in German between the former submariner from Mexico and Kremer. At the time very few German words were in my vocabulary. Hearing one of the few words I knew used in conversation, grasshopper, especially considering the environment I was in, was something that has never left me to this day. Why either of the two former German submariners, at that time or any other time, would be talking about grasshoppers one way or the other was beyond me.
However, what I consider as valid answers to all of the above questions pretty much came together for me one day out of the blue a few years later when I decided to go to Chloride for the first time. I took U.S. 93 to Arizona CR 125 which goes right into Chloride --- and that's when it dawned on me. The building complex that forms the small inhabited area at the turnoff spot where 125 intersects with 93 is called Grasshopper Junction. It is my belief that when "grasshopper" came up in the conversation between the submariner and Kremer they were talking about Grasshopper Junction. For whatever reason there was some sort of a connection between Frank and Charles Luke, Chloride, and the residual German community spread throughout the general area, and I think the Silver Hill mine or Alumn Wash had something to do with it.
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CHARLES AUGUST LUKE
The former ranch foreman, Leo, was a one time World War II Pacific Fleet Navy boxing champion. Leo had heard through old contacts there was going to be a reunion of sorts, or a Commemorative Observance as they called it, of former camp POWs and he felt there was a good chance the submariner was going to attend. As it came down to me from Leo, his old contacts were associated through an event that circulated around a fellow boxer he somehow knew named Jeep O'Neal. During the war O'Neal, who won the 1943 bantamweight Golden Gloves championship in Chicago and the national AAU title, had been an Army MP guard at the POW camps in Arizona and in the process fought several organized boxing matches between himself and POWs. O'Neal died in January 1984 after a long illness, about a year before Leo was finally able to catch up with me. Leo did however, attend the funeral in Phoenix and it was there he came in contact with who he referenced to me as old contacts.
The following about the ranch my stepmother owned and I stayed on for a few summers during my high school years is found at the source so cited:
"Otherwise, there was a bar, swimming pool, dance hall, rodeos and boxing matches on the weekends, at least two dozen one-armed-bandit slot machines in a secret hidden room, and a flock of ever present hostesses."(source)
In a general sort of way I remember the boxing matches well, maybe not any specific individual match, but for sure the events and all the hub bub surrounding them, including the Damon Runyon type characters that inhabited the crowd and the gambling that went with them --- as well as the boxing ring itself. I used to climb under the ropes onto the canvas, jump up and down and phony spar or shadow box as they call it and bounce off the ropes. My stepmother always said she was going to get some of the big time L.A. wrestlers like Baron Michele Leone and Freddie Blassie, who Leo the ranch foreman knew from his old World War II Navy days, to come up and wrestle, but she never did. Blassie did show up hobnobbing with Leo for a good part of the day once, but I never met him.
At the end of one of the boxing days, some of those Runyonesque types, knowing I was the "son" of the owner and having been ferrying bet money between them on some of the matches invited me to sit down and have dinner with them. My stepmother, circulating through the crowd, after noticing me at the table with some fairly risky types, came over to see if all was well. In small talk one of them said they had come up for the day from Del Mar and would soon be heading back to continue their gambling on the thoroughbreds, then asked if I could go back with them and learn about the horses. My stepmother, having a complementary bottle of wine sent to their table, asked to let her think on it.
Later, when she and I were alone she told me I was welcome to go if I liked but to be aware, despite their appearance and demeanor they were pretty rough types, possibly some even packing heat. That night I left with them riding in the back seat of a brand new 1953 Cadillac convertible with the top down, the whole of the trip to Del Mar done mostly flat out. In the afternoon of second day, and nearly $500 bucks ahead thanks to their suggestions, I took a train to L.A. where I was met at Union Station and taken back to the ranch. Little did I know at the time that for the whole trip I was being watched closely, albeit from a distance, by one of my stepmother's employees.
Jeep O'Neal was another thing. How Leo and O'Neal came to know each other and become friends was because O'Neal either boxed several matches at the ranch or promoted matches. In the process O'Neal being a one time guard in the Arizona POW camps came up and one thing led to the next.
When I was a young boy growing up my stepmother owned a 1847 .44-caliber Colt Walker, the largest, heaviest most dangerous black-powder revolver the Colt Firearms Company ever produced --- and because of the pistol's reputation they found their way into many a western novel, including many, many times those written by the author of over 100 cowboy western books, Louis L'Amour.
As a kid I loved that pistol. Even though it was nearly as big as I was --- and almost as heavy --- I used to run around day after day playing cowboys with it, sometimes even mixing genres by wielding the Colt in one hand and a Buck Rogers U-238 Atomic Pistol in the other.
As it was Louis L'Amour and my uncle were friends and one day when my uncle went to see him I went along. During conversation I mentioned to L'Amour my stepmother owned a Colt Walker and after my uncle confirmed both my story and that the pistol was in fact genuine, L'Amour became very interested --- even to the point of wanting to know if it was available. In 1974, the last time I saw my stepmother, was an effort on my part to put she and L'Amour together so he could look over the pistol and possibly purchase it. For more see:
"During the First World War the U-boat war badge already existed. Commander of the submarine units was trying to establish a newer badge at the outbreak of the Second World War, which was executed on the 13 October 1939. Since then the U-boat War Badge could be awarded to 'officers, noncommissioned officers and to submarine crews who worked in campaigns against enemies and proved themselves on two or more sailings against them.'"
Mainly because of time constraints many people have questioned the ability of Kremer actually being awarded a U-boat War Badge or having one in his possession in that he spent a good portion of the war in U.S. stateside POW camps.
As so stated in the above quote from the source cited at the end of this section, submarine crews who worked in campaigns against enemies and proved themselves on two or more sailings were eligible to receive the badge. Kremer was on his third of three highly successful war patrols under Wattenberg when captured and became a POW under U.S. auspices. Between his second and third sailing, the U-boat he helped crew, the U-162, was in the sub pens in Lorient for routine maintenance from June 8, 1942 until July 7, 1942. It was during that one month period prior to his third patrol he was awarded his badge. Kremer told me he had it with him when he was captured and was able to keep it with him as well as a number of other personal items primarily through what he called "his good looks and subterfuge" right up until the time it was taken from him at the POW camp by who he called some interrogation guy.
U-BOAT WAR BADGE
Although I don't get into it in the main text above, there is some rather substantial information regarding the life raft itself the woman reported seeing that I have, except in a couple of similar footnotes elsewhere, really not delved into.
While it is true the woman was far from clear regarding any survivors alive or dead or none at all in the letter she wrote to my dad, she did mention the raft itself --- slightly. Because of what she mentioned didn't really add up relative to anything I knew or was familiar with at the time I pretty much passed on it. The thing is, her description of what she said she saw and what I sluffed off, turned out to be closer to reality than not. She said what other passengers were claiming to be a life raft, to her, from the distance she saw it, it looked more like a bunch of barrels stuffed together in huge wooden orange crate than anything else. When I read the letter and tried to picture what she was talking about, the first thing that popped into my mind was a couple of model wooden trains I put together and painted from two kits when I was a kid.
One model was a train called the Dewitt Clinton and the other was the William Galloway, both early steam locomotives and both, to carry water, had little wooden barrels stacked into gondola cars behind the coal car. The rafts on the Tulagi, as pictured below and of which I only learned of many years after reading the woman's letter, were open 6 x 8 x 3 feet with forty-four gallon drums as flotation devices housed in open wooden frame. The rafts could be operated from either side and 10 persons could easily fit into each raft. If you compare the two graphics below you might get an idea why the wooden models from my childhood popped into my head.
The U-boat memorial has a series of commemorative metal plates, one each for each U-boat with each plate containing the names and birthdates of those who lost their lives serving in the line of duty on each of the so designated U-boats. One of the memorial plates, as should be expected, is dedicated to those who served on the U-196. Both of the names and birthdates of Dr. Heinz Haake and the man who approached the former POW in Laughlin appear on the U-196 plate, the man of which doing the approaching I met in Laughlin as well. I know that their names and birthdates appear on the U-196 plate because I personally saw both of their names and birthdates on the U-196 plate myself, the having done so coming about as found in High Mountain Zendo described briefly in the quote below:
"I found it most expedient to make myself scarce, which I did, traveling through Europe for six weeks-plus instead, leaving the Condors and wolves behind. Along the way, Stonehenge, Pompeii, Acropolis, Running of the Bulls, the villa of British author and playwright William Somerset Maugham, Da Vinci's birthplace, statue of David and a friend in Cannes.
"Although on other occasions I have done or visited some or all of the places above, for me, on this trip, one of the most important things I wanted to do was to visit the German World War I and II submarine memorial called the U-Boot-Ehrenmal Möltenort (Möltenort U-Boat Memorial) located in the seaside resort of Heikendor just off the Baltic Sea. My interest is because along with hundreds of other German names that appear on the metal plates dedicated to submariners who died in the line of duty serving on U-boats --- a man I met, a former German submariner who strangely enough had been living in Mexico and whose hand I shook and was quite obviously alive and well, has both his name and birthdate on the plate that commemorates the fallen crew members of the U-196."
One of the major things that pops into my head immediately when you think about it is how did the former submariner I met in Laughlin, who claimed to have been a World War II crewmember serving out of Penang on the exact same type U-boat as the U-196, just happen to know the name and birthdate of a crewmember that actually did serve on the U-196? Weird.
I was in Searchlight, Nevada, with my stepmother before I met up with Leo and the Chief. She and I had flown up to Searchlight in a twin engine Beechcraft Queen Air, the pilot and plane provided by Pancho Barnes. My stepmother was on what she called a business trip of some sort, so with me going along I was in that part of the desert before Leo and the Chief, who I was told I would be meeting up with us later. What my Stepmother's business was per se' I'm not sure, however she did meet with a man named Willie Martello, the owner of a casino in Searchlight called the El Rey Club. Since Pancho provided our transportation I figured she must have been involved in some fashion. I know in a rather interest event my stepmother, after meeting with Martello, had to pull her nickel plated .25 semi-automatic Baby Browning out of her purse and aim it at some woman after she threw a half full glass of ice water on her. In the meantime Leo and the Chief arrived in the ranch pick-up truck, eventually meeting my stepmother and me at a scrub brush of an airfield a couple of miles south of town where the Beechcraft was parked. It was the El Rey motel where Leo, the Chief and I stayed, re the following as found on the El Rey link so sourced:
When I saw Leo drove onto the airfield I could immediately see he was traveling with another man, of which I would have no reason to believe why he should be. The man oddly enough, turned out to be a Chief Petty Officer I knew from China Lake Naval Air Station that hung around my mom's bar on the ranch.
"As soon as Leo and the Chief arrived and my Stepmother and Leo talked in private for few minutes, then took off in the Beechcraft headed toward California. Leo, the Chief and I, with me riding in the back of the truck, headed toward the El Rey for dinner and a nights sleep. After dinner in the motel room the Chief showed me a number of trinkets and things like ID cards and stuff related to a German submarine crew, or at least prison camp internees he had somehow, explaining each item one by one as he went through them. The next morning, and the real reason my stepmother had Leo and the Chief come up to Searchlight, they took me across the desert to a location probably not even 20 miles away along the Colorado River to see where, in late 1944 German U-boat was found and how the military went about hauling it out and taking it back to Muroc Dry Lake."
THE EL REY CLUB: RESORT, CASINO, BROTHEL