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Wednesday, October 4th 2017, 7:31pm


I'm thinking that the East Asia Squadron needs to spend more time at sea.


Wednesday, October 4th 2017, 8:25pm


I'm thinking that the East Asia Squadron needs to spend more time at sea.

Judging from your news, they're at sea or on port calls more time than they spend in port, aren't they?


Wednesday, October 4th 2017, 8:43pm


I'm thinking that the East Asia Squadron needs to spend more time at sea.

Judging from your news, they're at sea or on port calls more time than they spend in port, aren't they?

Right now most of the ships are at sea, though the Gustav Nachtigal spends most, if not all, her time in port (she is a fleet tender). But there have been occasions when the squadron (or most of it) is swinging at anchor.


Thursday, October 5th 2017, 1:13pm

OOC: A most curious case. A non-German agent would tend to stand out in that crowd in the hotel. Maybe the Abwehr is spying on its own countrymen these days? (not a serious suggestion but you never know, stranger things have happened at sea as they say)
Interesting that the clientele is mainly officers yet the hotel still fills the need for bouncers to toss out the rowdies!


Friday, October 6th 2017, 9:10pm

Cam Ranh Bay, Indochina
Monday, March 22, 1948

"All right, let's begin," Contre-amiral Edgar Joly said. "Capitaine Lambert, why don't you lead off. What are the results of your investigation?"

"Thus far, sir, all suspicion continues to fall on the Italians," Lambert said. He allowed Major Masson, sitting next to him, to open the folder of photographs and papers for display. "We found the damaged maiale, sunk on the harbour bottom. It has no external markings, but we analyzed part numbers stamped or etched on some of the remaining pieces, and some of the internal components had Italian words on them.

"We found the telephone linetap to one of the inner harbour anchoring buoys, usually used by carriers or battleships. The tap is well-constructed and designed, likely handbuilt. There are no markings that would indicate nation of origin, but the design is quite sophisticated. Our technical expert tells me the internal battery component shares a high degree of similarity with Italian torpedo batteries.

"According to our best reconstruction of events, the maiale, with either one or two crewmen, was launched from a disguised junk or lorcha anchored overnight off Dao Binh Hung. We believe the frogmen were either engaged in laying the tap, or they were changing out the tapes. As they were exiting the channel between the inner and outer harbours, they were overtaken and struck, at about 0355 hours, by the torpedo cruiser Stavropol, which was departing early for training exercises. At least one of the crewmen was killed, and the maiale was cut to pieces, by the ship's propeller. None of the crew noted any impact."

Joly interrupted. "You've suggested that there might have been two crewmen. What happened to the other?"

Lambert took a deep breath. "Keep in mind this is merely speculation, sir; but after speaking with naval divers, we think there might have not only been two divers, but two maiale, engaged in the operation. The telephone line tap is heavy, and the SLC we recovered was not ballasted for it. It's our estimation that a second SLC carried the linetap into position, and a total of four divers were engaged in setting it in place."

"And we haven't recovered the second SLC?"

"No sir. It's probable that they managed to avoid being hit by the Stavropol; similarly, the second crewman might have managed to swim far enough away to have avoided the propellers."

Joly nodded slowly. "So you think the majority of the team may have even made it back to their mothership?"

"Yes sir."

"What is being done to track down the mothership?" Joly asked.

"The Indochinese Naval Patrol searched an estimated two hundred and fifteen local civilian craft. They focused their search northward, presuming that the intruders were Chinese frogmen attempting to return home. They found nothing suspicious. Given their expertise at intercepting drug smugglers, I find it likely that they simply didn't encounter the right boat for inspection."

Joly nodded. "So where did it go?"

Masson pulled out a photograph. "We're not sure where it went, but we think we know where it comes from. This large junk was launched about four years ago in Na Trang. Six months ago, it grounded on a voyage to Malaysia, and was sold to an unnamed individual in Sandakan who conducted extensive repairs - probably including a way to carry a pair of maiales. A month ago, it showed up in Haiphong, where it picked up a bulk cargo bound for Macau - where this photograph was taken by an Australian photographer, tied up next to an Italian merchant ship in the Baia de Tai Van. The Iberians did not make any record of her departure or planned destination."

"I'd like to add," Masson said, "that there is reasonable doubt about the identity of this ship. There are so many junks in the region - changing hands, changing names, even being captured or used by pirates and smugglers - that we can't track them all."

"Any guesses?" Joly asked.

"Well, if it was my call," Lambert said, "I'd sail to somewhere as fast as I could - someplace with passenger service to Singapore - disembark, and burn the junk. But if I wanted to maintain the farce, I'd sail to Thailand or Sarawak in order to lay low for a few more weeks, pick up a cargo, and then head back to Macao or Hong Kong. If they're not willing to get rid of their ship, then we should be able to pick up their trail again, with enough time and patience."


Friday, October 6th 2017, 10:15pm

Cam Ranh Bay, Indochina
Friday, March 26, 1948

"You know," Masson said, sitting at the bar of the Yen Bay Hotel, "I think this has been a waste of time."

Lambert nodded in agreement. Working both on their own and with the help of their inside agent - a Vietnamese cleaning girl who actually worked for the autonomous Indochinese intelligence group - they'd checked most of the hotel for wiretaps, finding nothing. The staff had similarly been watched, without any hints that they were agents working for a foreign power.

"So what do you want to do?" Masson finally asked.

"Well," Lambert said thoughtfully. "I think I'll just send Contre-amiral Rogge a note, saying that we are conducting an investigation to check on security at shore establishments - a friendly reminder for his flotilla to continue maintaining security. Frankly, I see very little to draw my attention here."

"Agreed," Masson said. "Ah well. I thought the hunch might play out."


Saturday, October 7th 2017, 10:36am

OOC: Maybe I've been watching too much The Silent Enemy, but surely manned torpedoes would need more support infrastructure than just a junk. It would seem likely that the Italians would be using a larger mother ship, perhaps a cargo vessel, as some kind of headquarters/base ship. Of course tracking every Italian merchant vessel in the Far East would be difficult to prove that theory. Also, what's the motive? Would the Italians be that concerned about the activities in Cam Ranh Bay? They have no direct interest in the region, the Iberians do of course but I'm not sure how close those two nations are these days. Would the Perfidious Lion ask the Italians to do it on their behalf? Maybe but then the British have their own intelligence setup in the region and would the cover of plausible deniability outweigh the complications of having to share the intel with the Italians and trusting them not to muck it up on withhold information?


Friday, October 13th 2017, 3:51pm

OOC: Maybe I've been watching too much The Silent Enemy, but surely manned torpedoes would need more support infrastructure than just a junk.

For long-term employment, I believe you are correct. Amongst other things, I believe the earlier Italian maiale usually needed to have their batteries / fuel / consumables recharged from a shore station. However, they could be operated from rather spartan platforms. As the British demonstrated with the Chariots in Operation Title, even a small Norwegian fishing trawler could serve as a mothership, at least for a short while.


Friday, October 13th 2017, 8:54pm

L’aéroport de Paris Group Organized
Tuesday, April 6, 1948 - Following the March 1st ground collision at Le Bourget, the group 'L’aéroport de Paris' is created to better organize the airports in the Paris region. Among the group's objectives is overhauling the air traffic control system for both in the air and on the ground at the various Paris airports.

Tour de Normandie
Monday, April 12, 1948 - The Tour de Normandie bicycle race started today.

Rocket Launch
Wednesday, April 14, 1948 - The first of the new R2 'Juliet' rockets launched today in Hammaguir, Algerie. The liquid-fueled R2 successfully flew 90km to land at its target zone, marking the launch as one of the most successful liquid-fueled rocket launches France has completed to date.

Criticism Voiced Over French Participation in German Naval Exercise - L'Union
Monday, April 26, 1948 - Dunkerque assemblyman Martin Deshayes (AR), in a ferocious open letter published Monday by Paris-Soir, Le Figaro, La Croix, and L'Union, alleged that a force of four French submarines participating in a joint naval exercise had been "soundly defeated and humiliated" by German antisubmarine forces. To add to the debacle, one of the boats, Q192, broke down during the return to France and had to be towed back to port. M. Deshayes, citing information from a number of anonymous sources in the Marine Nationale, criticized the 'deplorable' state of naval coast-defense forces, including the submarine arm, and called for an investigation by the French Parliament.

M. Deshayes' letter immediately stoked controversy within the defense establishment, particularly alongside the revelation that a British submarine recently snuck into the Baltic Sea, violating Danish territorial seas in the process. Deshayes contends that the French Navy's deployments in the Manche are not well-enough equipped to detect or prevent a similar intrusion aimed at the French coast.

Prime Minister Named in Potential Scandal
Friday, April 30, 1948 - President of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister) Jean-Baptiste Aubert was named today in a scandal that alleges that he and his personal staff was defrauded of approximately thirty thousand francs of government money by a "consulting company" run by a woman named Hélène Eckhert.

Naval Acquisitions Increased
Tuesday, May 11, 1948 - The Parliament has approved a special addition to the defense budget to accomodate coast defense expenditures, directed primarily to the Marine Nationale and the French Air Force for use in the northern regions. The bill, being fairly sizeable, provides for the immediate requisition of four small submarines before the end of the year, with more to be delivered in 1949. An order for thirty-six more Breguet-Nord N.1600 Noroits and Dornier Do.330 maritime reconnaissance aircraft will also be placed, along with an unspecified quantity of naval helicopters.

Government Coalition Disintigrates
Wednesday, May 12, 1948 - Forestalling rumors of a proposed motion of censure to be brought against the government, President Clemenceau used his authority today to dissolve the French Parliament, ordering new elections within thirty days. The President cited the fact that the current government, forced to exist in a coalition between the center-left Front Républicaine and center-right Alliance Républicaine, was being 'unreasonably hampered' in its operation by the requirements of the minor coalition member. Front Républicaine politician Jean-Baptiste Aubert, who currently serves as President of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister), expressed confidence that the elections will increase FR's mandate, sufficient for the Front Républicaine to form a government with the Socialists and Radicals.


Friday, October 13th 2017, 9:08pm


Dornier of Friedrichshafen is pleased, and ready with an open order book.


Friday, October 13th 2017, 9:55pm

Cam Ranh Bay, Indochina
Monday, April 5, 1948

Masson read the coded message and scowled. "We found them."

"Where?" Lambert asked.

"Pattaya," Masson said. "It's a fishing village in Thailand, southeast of Bangkok - it's a port for the regional drug trade, and the Indochinese police have an agent there. He spotted a junk matching our description arriving there this morning."

"Well then!" Lambert said. "That's good news, yes? Why the scowl?"

"Our agent noted the captain immediately put the boat up for sale," Masson replied. "Under the guise of a potential buyer, he immediately inquired about and was shown the junk. He noted two Europeans on board, both of whom left hastily as soon as they could. He noted there was a specially secured hold, apparently useful for smuggling drugs or weapons - but he didn't notice anything else."

"Ah," Lambert said, his face falling. "And since he's a police agent, we couldn't brief him to look for a maiale, or diving gear, or anything like that?"

"No," Masson said. "He figured we were just looking for a drug-smuggler, I suppose. And, needless to say, he couldn't identify our two Europeans, either."

"Unfortunate," Lambert said. He toyed with his pen for a few moments. "I don't suppose we can get one of our own agents into Pattaya, can we?"


Monday, November 13th 2017, 9:40pm

Cam Ranh Bay, Indochina
Thursday, April 15, 1948

Claude Masson reviewed the files in front of him with a mix of frustration and amusement. Dieuxeme Bureau had failed to make a covert approach to inspect the junk spotted in Pattaya, because the Yamaguchi-gumi - a Japanese criminal syndicate - had purchased the vessel, apparently for use in their own underworld activities. The vessel ended up sailing from Pattaya after only a few days...

...and went right back to Indochina, where the Indochinese Naval Patrol decided to launch a snap inspection. The Yakuza vigourously objected to the search, opening up on the board-and-search team with an alarming number of automatic weapons. The Indochinese corvette, Van Kiep, had responded by shooting the junk up with 40mm rounds. Not a single person had even been injured by gunfire - although an Indochinese sailor had broken his arm falling down a hatch, and three Yakuza had nearly drowned when they jumped overboard.

Masson had been able to inspect the junk - now much worse for wear - the previous morning, and the vessel held few clues. Any equipment related to the maiale had been removed when the Yamaguchi-gumi came aboard, loading the two secret compartments with opium - probably bound for China.

Unfortunately, while the junk had proven to be an obnoxious thorn in the flesh for French intelligence, one of Capitaine de Corvette Lambert's men - Agent Jean Paul Maury - arriving late in Pattaya, had scored an intelligence coup. Joined by the undercover Indochinese police officer who'd first spotted the junk, he'd followed the two Europeans to Bangkok, and watched them as they waited for an airliner to Singapore. Maury and the Indochinese policeman, being particularly industrious and enterprising, wrangled seats on the same airliner.

Upon reaching Singapore on the same plane as the mystery men, Maury telephoned the local customs office, and in a flawless upper-class London accent, talked the locals into taking a very close look at the two Europeans' passports. The documents withstood the full weight of British scrutiny, and proclaimed their Italian nationality. Playing the role of an MI6 agent to the hilt, Maury had gotten multiple copies of their passports, dropped one set in the mail to MI6 itself - with the addition of a cheeky 'you're welcome' note - and kept the other for himself.

And then, in a final crowning moment of spycraft, Maury cornered the two Italians in the bar of the Raffles Hotel, convinced them that he was an MI6 agent, and got a bribe in exchange for not exposing them to the local police. Meanwhile, Maury's Vietnamese partner burgled their room, cracked a locked attache case, and photographed all of the documents within. Satisfied, and with nobody apparently suspecting their true identity, they'd then flown back to Saigon to report.

Now - reviewing the photographed documents - Masson could only shake his head. He finally had the evidence he needed to connect the far-flung dots...

Masson consulted the passenger service schedule and then lifted the telephone. "I need to return to Paris," he declared. "Can I get two tickets on the SS Cambodge for Marseilles?"


Monday, November 13th 2017, 9:52pm

OOC (of course)

Oh my, oh my...

I do hope that the bean-counters at the Deuxième Bureau are liberal when it comes to auditing expense accounts. Tickets to Bangkok, to Singapore... and now a passage to Marseille? The Comte de Rochefort is a generous man indeed. ;)


Tuesday, November 14th 2017, 10:33am

Jean Paul Maury is certainly an enterprising man. I can see him going far in the Deuxième Bureau.


Monday, January 15th 2018, 8:17pm

Headquarters of the Dieuxeme Bureau
Monday, April 26, 1948

Claude Masson waited in the small anteroom, feeling a hint of nervousness as he waited for the interview. Agent Maury, sitting next to him, showed no sign of sharing his superior's jitters. Finally, after twenty minutes wait, the door opened and the Comte de Rochefort entered, with another man following behind him.

"Masson," de Rochefort said brusquely. "You're back. This is Phillipe Bertrand, of the Italy Section."

"Sir," Masson said, shaking Bertrand's hand. "And this is Agent Jean-Paul Maury, who uncovered the information critical to the investigation."

"Very well," de Rochefort said. "We should begin. I believe you have a report? Let's see that first."

Masson nodded, and distributed typed copies of his written report on Maury's findings. The Comte skimmed it quickly; he must have been a fast reader, because by the time Bertrand turned to the second page, de Rochefort was already on page four. "Well now, this is certainly intriguing."

"I agree," Bertrand said. He turned to Masson and Maury. "I presume that, not being part of the Italian Section, that you are not well-informed about the state of their secret services. The general malaise within the Italian state - a sluggish economic situation, a series of weak governments - is largely replicated within the Servizio Informazioni Militare. The director is a political appointee who has very little background in military intelligence, and we believe he has replaced most of the division chiefs during his tenure. And not usually with more capable men."

Masson nodded. "I have heard enough from reading the Italian papers to draw those conclusions myself."

"Of course," Bertrand agreed. "These are not state secrets. But your discovery puts an interesting light on things." He tapped his index finger on the report thoughtfully. "For several months, we've started seeing evidence of a shakeup within SIM. But interestingly, this is not from the highest levels. Someone further down is showing talent and ambition - and working outside the system."

"That matched my own reading of the documents photographed by Agent Maury and his associate," Masson said. "Someone within SIM, acting unofficially, perhaps not even reporting to his own bosses."

"I agree with your suspicions," de Rochefort said. "And I believe I can pin this on Andrea Leonardo Lazzati. He's the chief of SIM's operations in the Balkans. Everyone underestimates him - he's running a first-class ring of agents in Greece and Romania, and he's been trying to get deep fingers into the Yugoslavian military ever since he took over a year ago. He's even inserted a few agents into France." The Comte smiled grimly, and Masson heard in his voice that a gauntlet had been thrown down... and accepted.

"Why are you telling us this, sir?" Maury abruptly asked. "Do you suspect that SIM's Balkan section chief is masterminding an operation to wiretap Cam Ranh Bay?"

"Agent Maury, that's precisely what I suspect - and what these papers you have recovered might prove." de Rochefort flipped to the photographs. "Lazzati, as we already knew, is ambitious, intelligent, an Italian patriot. He is also ruthless, and quite willing to cross a few boundaries in pursuit of his goals. Moreover, he has in his employ talented men trained as parachutists and combat swimmers, who he has started to use in Greece and elsewhere in the Balkans."

"But Indochina - so far outside his assigned territory..." Masson protested.

"Yes. Unfortunately for Lazzati, he has one shortcoming: he is critically underfunded, which has undoubtedly hampered his operations in the Balkans. And so he uses his best resource - his numerous and well-trained personnel - to gather intelligence outside his mandate. And then sell it to the highest bidder."

"From my own investigation, they might have stood a better than average chance of gaining access to French naval codes," Masson said. "So you think he might reach outside his mandate to gather - and then sell - information to another power. The Chinese?"

"Or Iberians; but the Chinese are more likely, at the moment," de Rochefort agreed. "I've started to suspect that Lazzati may not stop at merely trading information, of course. There is a certain... criminal undertone to some of his operatives. But going back to an earlier topic. Lazzati is known to be part of a faction of certain right-wing officers in the Italian military which believes that Rome needs a foreign challenge to help stir it out of its lethargy - nothing too extreme, mind, but something to unite and inspire the Italian people."

Maury spoke up. "For instance, Yugoslavia?"

de Rochefort shook his head. "While the Italian military feels a short victorious war against Yugoslavia would be of some short-term benefit, their current assessment is that too many powers - France foremost among them - would offer Belgrade such aid as to make it anything but short and victorious. What they want instead is not an active war, but a confrontation - a 'cold' war, if you will, with France as their closest regional rival. The Italian officers want the Italian people to see themselves surrounded on all sides by threats allied against them - France, Germany, Yugoslavia, and Greece - so that the Italian people might turn to them for guidance, leadership, and protection."

Bertrand spoke up. "It's not yet to the point of a coup. Or so we believe. But the situation merits very close observation."

For a few moments, there was silence at the table. "In any case, gentlemen," de Rochefort finally said, "I believe we now have a functioning theory to explain the Cam Ranh Bay Incident. For the moment, I intend to allow fingers to point at the Chinese; it is useful for our purposes. The President will be informed of the truth, of course. Masson, your work in Indochina has been satisfactory, but I am terminating it and handing investigation back to Lambert and the Marine Nationale."

"Yes sir," Masson answered, wondering what would follow. He had no great desire to return to Indochina, of course.

de Rochefort, like a mind-reader, smiled at him like a wolf. "Of course you will need a new assignment, Masson. That's why we have shared so much of this information with you. You're going to join the Italian Section working for M. Bertrand. As for you, Agent Maury," de Rochefort said, turning to the young agent, "you also seem to be possessed of under-utilized talents..."


Tuesday, January 16th 2018, 9:53am

Interesting stuff, freelancing and rogue intelligence officers can only end badly.


Wednesday, March 7th 2018, 4:42pm

Syria Backs Out of Defense Treaty with France
Tuesday, May 18, 1948 - Syrian President and Prime Minister Khalid al-Hafiz announced this morning that the Republic of Syria intends to pursue its own interests outside of the twelve-year-old treaty of mutual defense, part of the network of agreements which entered into effect with Syria's independence. To the alarm of leaders within neighboring French Lebanon, the treaty includes an agreement on the borders between Syria and Lebanon, which remains in the French sphere under the rule of an autonomous parliament, similar to Autonomous Indochina.

Cannes Film Festival
Friday, May 21, 1948 - Yachts and fancy cars converge on the coastal town of Cannes to begin the Cannes Film Festival.

Rainier of Monaco to Marry - Paris-Soir
Tuesday, May 25, 1948 - Prince Rainier III of Monaco confirmed today that he will marry French actress Madeline Niel, age 27, later this month. Mademoiselle Niel, a longtime friend of Prince Rainier, reportedly held off an engagement due to the scheming of Rainier's sister, Princess Antoinette, who reportedly hoped to put one of her own children on the throne in Monaco.

Monaco Grand Prix
Saturday, May 29, 1948 - The Monaco Grand Prix is held.

Elections Held
Sunday, May 30, 1948 - Elections are held following President Clemenceau's dissolution of the Parliament. The dominant Alliance Républicaine hopes to pick up more seats in Parliament, sufficient to assure a majority and end the government gridlock which has been in place for the last year.


Wednesday, March 7th 2018, 5:12pm

Oh my. Someone has stirred the pot in Damascus. This can't end well. 8)


Wednesday, March 7th 2018, 5:45pm

Oh my. Someone has stirred the pot in Damascus. This can't end well. 8)

The result of long-standing trends, ultimately. During the late 1930s, Syria accepted the treaty as they were concerned about the events occurring with perceived Persian and Bharati aggression. These days, those threats have settled down and been forgotten. Stepping out of the defense treaty with France gives Damascus a bit more flexibility in responding to the circumstances that face them. :evil: