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Not always could he sleep easily during his rest periods. For
hours he could lie, tossing and turning, whiling his off duty time
away, listening to the other men talk until it was time again to rise.
Across the aisle on the same level Steinpilz lay on his bunk
and snored. As usual, he sported an erection. He seemed to have a
limitless supply of sweet dreams. One bunk further aft, Caruso sat
and practised some difficult passages on his banjo, and on the bot-
tom bunk sat Joe, with two others, using their off-duty time for a
game of skat, thumping their trump cards with emphasis on the box
between them. Adam listened. He did not like to think.
At times, when all slept and he was awake alone, he would
stare at the hull. His bunk was below the water line and behind the
flimsy sheet steel of the boat, only inches from his face, the gruel-
ling blackness of the water sluiced past, storming at the hull and
the rivets that held the plates together. That plating might be nearly
one inch thick, but it was hard to forget that it was all that stood
between him and the deadly water outside.
He could easily imagine a torpedo out there, running straight
for him, and then that dreadful clang! the explosion, then the
sudden inrush of water, crushing everything. It was better not to
think of what was going on outside. He had to sleep when he had
his turn and keep his nerve. He could do that only if he ignored the
Better to think of that girl back home.
 How does it go?
It was Robert who interrupted his thoughts.
Adam didn t mind being interrupted by Robert. As long as
there was no action, there was plenty of time for dreaming. He
liked to talk to Robert, and being able to understand him now gave
him a sense of achievement.
 Long trip, that, Robert commented.
 Too long, Adam agreed.  Couldn t be much longer any-
more. I guess that we re stocked up with supplies to last us six
months. It all has to come to an end.
Again he counted on his fingers. He had made a mistake
before. It must have been wishful thinking. It was only four
months since they had left Kiel.
Anyhow, the day when they would run out of food and fuel
was not far away.
Part Three
Chapter 9
Number Two was still in his bunk, but the bones and skin on
his head had healed reasonably well. The enemy had given the
crew ample time to recover from their shock. The battle with the
Catalina was forgotten as the boat proceeded slowly under water.
Three weeks of peaceful travel had erased all worries from the
crew. They were closing in on the Arabian Sea.
 Fast propeller noises ahead!
Like a thunderbolt from a blue sky, the voice of the hydro-
phone operator demanded immediate attention and reminded all
that there was still a war to be fought. The off-duty crew in the
artificers mess, who had been playing cards, dropped everything
and listened.
 Turbine engines approaching, Brimstein added. He was the
second hydrophone operator.
Turbines could only mean a U-boat hunter a destroyer, or
similar warship. In an instant, the captain emerged from his enclo-
sure and went to the sound operator s room. He took the head-
phones and listened for a moment, twisting the dials. Then he gave
the headphones back to Brimstein.
For a moment he looked at the L.I., who had also emerged
from his bunk, blinking his eyes, which were still clogged up from
a restful sleep.
 L.I., take her down to 100 metres, Henning said, after a few
moments consideration.  Both slow ahead.
He sat down at the chart table and looked down on his track.
 We re already in the Arabian Basin. He seemed to speak to
the L.I., and was deep in thought.  It is very deep here mostly
6,000 metres. Lots of space. I wish we could dive that deep.
 At the pace we re developing, maybe one day we will, the
L.I. consoled Henning and chuckled, amused.
 I m afraid we can t wait that long, Henning smiled, too.
 Load T-5 in tube six and Kobold in tube five. Rudder, hard star-
board. Steer nine-zero!
The command was relayed to the after torpedo room, where
Hein rolled out of his bunk, opened the tube, and slid the last tor-
pedo in, preparing it to meet the foe.
 Are we going to attack? the L.I. asked.
 Not if we can sneak away, said Henning,  but this time we d
better be ready if there is no other way. These last three weeks
have been too good to be true.
The propeller noises had come closer. Like an approaching
train, they could already be heard faintly by the crew.
 Propeller noises approaching fast, Brimstein reported
unnecessarily and took his headphones off.
 I can hear it. Henning was irritated and listened.
Maybe the destroyer was not hunting, but was just heading for
some other destination. Maybe it would pay no attention to the
lonely U-boat playing dead beneath the surface.
 Stop all engines, rig for silent running no talking, the cap-
tain called, and immediate silence followed.
Arthur Baudzus
A minute passed while the approaching noise increased. The
crew of the whole boat was alerted, and even the sleepers in the
bunks pointed some anxious ears.
Ping! Ping!
No such luck. That destroyer was hunting, and was already
breathing down their necks. It was on the warpath, and had proba-
bly been alerted by their encounter with the Catalina. It was no use
playing dead anymore.
 Both engines, one third ahead.
For a moment, Henning considered his command, then he
changed his mind.  Both full ahead! he corrected, and the boat
surged ahead.
 Rudder hard port and keep her there! was the next com-
mand. The boat heeled over in a continuous turn.
 Steer east! the captain called, when the boat had made a full
Ping! Ping!
The boat had just made a full circle, with a violent wake of
bubbles, which would reflect the enemy s Asdic like a boat. While
the enemy was homing in on those bubbles, the boat had a chance
to slip away.
The crew had their ears cocked and listened. They knew all
about depth charges, and could distinguish the different sounds.
They winced when, at last, they heard the splashes of the big canis-
ters as they hit the water. They pictured them sinking, then the
click as the pistol strikes and then:
Wham! Wham!
The explosions which, sledgehammer-like, hit the hull and
rocked it in spite of the distance they had already travelled from
the bomb site. At last came the swishing sound, as the water
rushed back into the cavity the bombs had torn in the sea.
There were six explosions, reasonably far away. They had
escaped this time, but above them was a hunter, determined to find
them again.
A minute passed while the enemy searched the sea for wreck-
age. Suddenly an ear-piercing sound joined the fading propeller
noises of the Destroyer.
 There goes our T-5, the captain smiled wistfully at the L.I.
The destroyer had just thrown a noise buoy, a Foxer, which
made more noise than the propellers of his ship. Any acoustic tor-
pedo would now go for the dummy and not for the propellers.
Henning s face furrowed as he sat down by the chart table and
racked his brain for inspiration. That man up there might be far
from home, but he obviously had been kept up to date with the
technical developments in warfare. He could not be fooled easily,
yet he had gone for the bubbles. How many times could he repeat
this? The batteries certainly put a restriction on that manoeuvre. It
would be no simple task to shake him off.
Shooting it out could not be considered. The chances were
never better than 50/50, and Henning did not accept such odds. It
would be the same as the flip of a coin, and he would not flip a
coin on his life or that of his crew.
Ping! Ping!
There it was again. His foe up there must have figured out [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]