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Tuesday, January 4th 2005, 3:38pm

News reports

Ye Gods, this will be a long thread.

In chronological order, starting in 1920. Other reports, such as the occasional "Jones' Quarterly" things, will be inserted here as well.

Note that I am NOT including discussion that resulted from these postings. Probably won't include my own responses to other peoples' news either. We'll see.


Tuesday, January 4th 2005, 3:38pm

The Voice of India's (VoI) news bureau joins the AWNR global network with this national update:

1. Defense Minister on Shaky Ground?
2. Football Team Arrives in Europe
3. New Name Announced for Battleship
4. Tour Begins for Pillai

1. Defense Minister on Shaky Ground?

High-placed sources within the Indian government have told VoI that Minister of Defence V. K. Chandra may be facing re-assignment, after apparently angering the Raj with recent statements at the ongoing negotiations in Atlantis.

“I think Mr. Chandra made a severe error in judgement when he began talking about working with Germany on submarines”, one source said. “Not only is German assistance unnecessary, given our recent treaty with South Africa, but it is also risky in a diplomatic sense. The Raj was displeased.”

This news, as well as unconfirmed reports about Mr. Chandra’s opposition to the purchase of the South African battleship Queen Fallatia, suggests that the Indian government is deeply divided with regard to the future of its maritime defense strategy. One high-level source commented that Mr. Chandra prefers to maintain a cruiser navy with strong ties to traditional allies such as Germany, while others have argued that a cruiser navy is not sufficient to defend Indian waters. Ironically, one of the most outspoken advocates of this opposing viewpoint is a former cruiser captain, Sunil Ramesh, who was seriously injured while fighting Dutch battleships at the Battle of Port Blair five years ago.

Minister Chandra declined to comment on the reports, saying only that, “I represent the Raj and India at the ongoing negotiations precisely because the Raj has entrusted me with that duty.”

We at VoI will keep you informed of further developments in this area.

2. Football Team arrives in Europe

After several weeks at sea, India’s national football team finally arrived in London, England on Wednesday. The team will be embarking on a three month tour of Europe that will see games played in eight countries. An outing against England’s national team next Saturday will kick off the tour.

“It is a little strange walking on solid ground once more, but we are adjusting quickly”, striker Omar Shankar told AWNR. “We will be more than ready to face the English squad when the time comes."

When asked how his team’s conditioning had fared during their time at sea, team manager Amitabh De commented, “The lads ran laps around the ship twice a day. We played pick-up games on the deck on a regular basis, although we had to go ashore at each port of call to replace the balls lost over the side of the ship.”

VoI’s crack sports correspondent will be at Saturday’s game and will have post-game comments and analysis.

3. New Name Announced for Battleship

The Indian Navy has confirmed that the South African battleship Queen Fallatia will be renamed SR Gujurat when she is commissioned into the Indian Navy. The Navy’s commander in chief, Admiral Sanjay Das, announced: “Our cruisers take their names from cities of the Empire, so it is appropriate that our capital ships take their names from states of the Empire.”

Although the battleship will be the largest vessel in the Navy, she will not gain the title of Flagship of the Navy. When asked, Admiral Das said, “Hyderabad is a proud name in our young navy. It is the name of our national capital, and also that of a valiant light cruiser lost in the war with the Dutch. The second cruiser to bear the name is a fine ship of war and is worthy of being my flagship.”

4. Tour Begins for Pillai

Coming off a series of sold-out performances between Sikkwe and Ceylon, popular singer Raveena Pillai and her entourage of musicians have embarked on a tour of the western coast. Ms. Pillai will first perform at Cochin this coming Friday, and will complete the tour two months hence at Bhuj.

Ms. Pillai burst onto India’s musical scene three years ago with her unique blend of traditional Indian music and contemporary American jazz. Her second recording, “Butterfly”, has experienced strong sales as well as constant airplay on this very radio station.

Turning to the weather...


Tuesday, January 4th 2005, 3:39pm

From the Voice of India, here are today's headlines.

1. Abduction Shocks the Nation
2. Football Team Meets the English
3. Unusual Modifications
4. Navy Eyes British Manoeuvres

1. Abduction Shocks the Nation

Popular Indian musician Raveena Pillai was abducted last night from her dressing room, just minutes after the conclusion of her performance in Cochin’s Sapphire Hall. Witnesses reported that several masked men burst into the backstage area and threatened the people there with pistols. Ms. Pillai’s two bodyguards then drew their own weapons, but were shot and killed before they were able to fire. Some of the gunmen then proceeded into Ms. Pillai’s dressing room and marched her out of the building, presumably to a waiting motor car.

The Cochin Constabulary were on the scene within fifteen minutes, and released this statement: “We have no doubt that Ms. Pillai is the victim of a premeditated abduction. We are setting up roadblocks and searching areas of the city as we seek out Ms. Pillai and her captors. It is our wish that the captors will contact us so that we may arrange for her safe return.”

We will keep you updated on this story as further news is released.

2. Football Team Meets the English

India’s national football team played its first European match in seven years, losing 5-0 to the English national team in what manager Amitabh De called a “close, hard-fought contest”. Nigel Baxford-White scored the game-winning goal at the seven minute mark, heading a pass from his brother Peter past the outstretched hands of the Indian goalkeeper.

Indian striker Omar Shankar said after the game, “We played hard, fought them until the final whistle, and were never truly out of the game. If we’d just had our missing lads, I really think we might have beaten them.” Shankar then reminded the assembled reporters that two Indian players were due to arrive in England later that day on a freighter, having missed the ocean liner that the remainder of the team had sailed on several weeks ago.

The team’s next match will be next Sunday in Paris. The team will later play in the Netherlands, marking the first notable interaction between Dutch and Indian sportsmen since the Andaman War. Other contests will see the Indians in Germany, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Greece, where a game has only just been scheduled.

3. Unusual Modifications

Naval enthusiasts in Madras are scratching their heads over work being undertaken on the Indian Navy’s collier Bhima. The ship arrived in Madras in July for what was reported to be a standard refit. However, the Voice of India has now learned that much of the ship’s superstructure is being removed, a move that most agree is not part of a normal refit.

Naval officials declined to comment on the refit, suggesting instead that the VoI dedicate more attention to “the ships that matter, the four cruisers under construction here and in Mumbai.”

4. Navy Eyes British Manoeuvres

The Indian Navy is keeping a close eye on Royal Navy exercises offshore of the British Pakistan Protectorate. Several British ships, including two light cruisers, have been in the area since Monday.

Admiral of the Navy Sanjay Das said that the light cruiser Pondicherry and two destroyers are observing the operation in an information-gathering role, adding that there were no actual security concerns related to the exercises.

This is the Voice of India...


Tuesday, January 4th 2005, 3:41pm

AWNR: India
November 3, 1920

1. No Progress in Pillai Abduction
2. India Joins Treaty
3. Chaos in Cochin
4. Exclusive Aviation Ship Details
5. Football Tour Continues

1. No Progress in Pillai Abduction

The Cochin Constabulary says that it has not located abducted songstress Raveena Pillai, nearly a week after the performer was kidnapped from Sapphire Hall after a concert there. “We’ve interviewed hundreds of people and have many leads that we are currently following”, the Chief of the Constabulary said. “There has not yet been a ransom demand from the abductors but we expect one shortly.”

2. India Joins Treaty

Reports indicate that India’s Admiral of the Navy, Sanjay Das, has negotiated terms that would see India accept revised tonnage allocations and sign the naval arms limitation treaty being finalized in Cleito, Atlantis. According to our sources, India’s capital ship tonnage would be reduced to 80,000 tons while the cruiser and aircraft carrier tonnages increase to 48,000 and 44,000 tons respectively.

The move comes as a surprise given recent statements to the effect that India would not, in fact, sign on to the treaty. The absence of Defence Minister V. K. Chandra at Cleito has also renewed speculation that he has been relieved of his portfolio, as the Minister had gone on record against the treaty on several occasions.

3. Chaos in Cochin

As if the Pillai abduction were not enough of a burden on Cochin’s Constabulary, at least twenty men are in hospital tonight after a riot broke out in the coastal city’s port district. Cochin constabulary officials told AWNR that the brawl started after five Japanese visitors attempted to board a trawler as it prepared to leave the city.

The Chief of the Cochin Constabulary told AWNR: “Some Japanese fisherman were looking to charter the trawler for a day on the ocean. The captain of the trawler had a load of rolled-up carpets to deliver and was not prepared to take on passengers, so he had the Japanese removed by force”, the Chief of the Constabulary announced as numerous constables policed the area.

Other witnesses told AWNR that the Japanese took exception to being manhandled. One man, who asked not to be named, said, “You know, for fisherman, they sure did fight real good. All jumping and kicking and so on. Well, they took about a minute to knock down the local guys, about thirty of them in all, but by then the trawler had cast off and was heading out to sea. So the Japanese fellers ran over to a navy boat and I guess they convinced the captain to take them fishing, ‘cause they cast off a little later on.”

The Indian Navy’s Western Maritime District office confirmed that the torpedo boat T-12 did sail from Cochin about half an hour after the riot, but would only say that the departure was unrelated to fishing.

4. Exclusive Aviation Ship Details

AWNR is pleased to bring you this extract from an interview with Chief Naval Designer Asoki regarding India’s aviation ship program.

AWNR: What prompted this program to begin?

Asoki: We’ve had an interest in aviation ships since the end of the Great War, but were uncertain as to how to proceed. We had a few options, such as converting an incomplete cruiser or purchasing an experimental vessel from another nation. However, we were also monitoring American progress in the conversion of a collier named Jupiter, and found that we had a collier due for a refit shortly. We proposed a conversion to the Admiral of the Navy and the work was authorized.”

AWNR: What will the Bhima look like upon her reconstruction?

Asoki: The collier’s superstructure will be removed entirely, leaving the ship topped with a steel deck. This will include a pair of lifting devices to transport aircraft between the deck and the maintenance area that will be created from the collier’s holds. Exhaust gases will be run through piping to a point about three quarters of the way to the stern, where they will be vented out of horizontal funnels on either side of the ship. A number of 4.1", 1.4", and 0.6" guns will be installed around the edges of the deck area.

AWNR: What aircraft will operate from the Bhima?

Asoki: That is something our office hasn’t been involved in. The lifts have been designed to accommodate most aircraft being used by our armed forces at this time and the deck is sufficient to hold up to about forty aircraft.

AWNR: When will Bhima be ready to sail?

Asoki: Probably late 1921; the reconstruction does include a number of work stoppages as we encounter new challenges.

5. Football Tour Continues

After a close game against the English national team, the Tigers put in a lackluster effort against the French national team, losing 8-1 in front of about eight thousand spectators. Team manager Amitabh De would not comment after loss, but was later heard shouting in the dressing room to the effect that the team should be re-named the Cubs.

The lone bright spot for India was striker Omar Shankar’s goal in the 67th minute, coming off a penalty shot after he was hauled down by a French defender. Shankar will look to extend his goal-scoring streak to two games when the Tigers play against the Dutch tomorrow in Rotterdam.

This is the Voice of India...


Tuesday, January 4th 2005, 3:43pm

14 November 1920

From the Voice of India, here is a special news bulletin:

Eight days after a riot that left dozens hospitalized in Cochin, the trawler that precipitated the melee has returned to this coastal city - badly damaged and under the control of an Indian Navy prize crew.

A spokesman for the Indian Navy provided this statement:

"On the evening of 26 October, the Indian Navy received credible evidence suggesting that abducted musician Raveena Pillai was being smuggled out of the country on the trawler Vijay IV, which had departed Cochin earlier that night. The torpedo boat T-12 and units of the Coastal Patrol were dispatched to search the area, and T-12 located the trawler five days later, on a course for South Africa.

"The trawler was boarded, whereupon its crew attacked the naval boarding party with pistols and automatic weapons. Two men were killed and three injured from the boarding party. The boarding party returned fire, supported by T-12's starboard fifteen millimeter machine gun crew. The trawler was eventually secured and thirteen crew and passengers were taken into custody. The remains of fifteen other individuals were buried at sea.

"The commanding officer of T-12 interrogated the prisoners and examined the ship, and was able to establish that Ms. Pillai had been aboard the trawler. It was only after prolonged questioning that the prisoners revealed Ms. Pillai had been transferred to a yacht registered to the government of North Yemen a day after leaving Cochin.

"The Government of India has attempted to initiate communications with the Government of North Yemen in order to gain the freedom of Ms. Pillai. The Empire of Japan has graciously offered to serve as an intermediary during negotiations, and has diverted naval assets toward North Yemen. We will be investigating all scenarios that would allow us to free Ms. Pillai."

We at the Voice of India will provide further updates on this unusual situation as the events warrant...


Tuesday, January 4th 2005, 3:44pm

AWNR: India: 22 November 1920

This is the Voice of India with an update on the situation in the Indian Ocean.

Despite repeated denials from the North Yemeni government, a spokesman for India's ruler, the Raj, says that the Indian Government has "irrefutable proof" that Raveena Pillai is being held against her will in the coastal city of Al Salif.

"The Raj is personally angered at the wanton abduction of an Indian citizen and the deaths of two servicemen at the hands of hired thugs in the employ of the North Yemeni government. The rulers of North Yemen should know that the Raj will take any steps necessary to secure the freedom of Ms. Pillai, up to and including the use of force", the spokesman said from the Imperial Palace in Hyderabad.

Admiral of the Navy Sanjay Das, speaking from Cleito, confirmed that a squadron of warships which departed Mumbai on the 18th are, in fact, heading to Al Salif. "The light cruiser Columbo, two destroyers, two transports, and the oiler Yamuna are expected to arrive on station at Al Salif on the 25th. Aboard the squadron is a personal envoy of the Raj. A battalion each of the South Assam Rifles and the Mumbai Guard are also aboard. In all, we expect that the squadron will be capable of securing Ms. Pillai's freedom in a variety of manners."

When asked about Japanese involvement in the crisis, the admiral replied, "Through its willingness to assist in negotiations and establish anti-smuggling perimeters around Al Salif, Japan has proven itself a honorable and valuable friend of the Indian people." The admiral did not, however, comment on rumors that the Indian squadron had linked up with additional elements of the Japanese navy, nor would he speculate on Japanese participation in any Indian military actions.

While the North Yemen government has declined to comment to AWNR, our sources tell us that the League of Nations is considering an emergency meeting to avert a possible conflict between North Yemen and India.

AWNR has dispatched a reporting team to Al Salif in order to bring you up-to-date information as it takes place....


Tuesday, January 4th 2005, 3:47pm

ANWR India: 26 November 1920

1. Update on Abduction Crisis

Good evening from Al Salif, a town that now resembles the site of a naval fleet review. Early yesterday morning, a squadron of six Indian warships arrived at this locally important port, bring with them both an envoy and two battalions of crack infantry. The squadron anchored just northeast of Kamran Island, which shelters the ‘J’ shaped body of water immediately north of Al Salif.

Meanwhile, Japanese warships are present as far as the eye can see. It is now thought that as many as five battleships have arrived in the area, including the brand new Nagato. Their presence has further raised anxiety in Al Salif, which finds itself confronted with at least the threat of invasion.

Yemeni forces have been mustered in anticipation of military action. Ottoman-era fortifications along Kamran Island, and on the mainland immediately east of the island, are under tight security, but sources have heard that several companies of infantry are within their perimeters. One source also told AWNR that there are several large caliber guns in the fortresses that can "dispose of the Indian aggressors in short order."

Meanwhile, the Yemeni government says that India is provoking the incident at the whim of its leader, the Raj. Here is what one senior official had to say:

“The Raj and his lackeys would have the world believe that Raveena Pillai is the second coming of Helen of Troy, abducted against her will by evil-doers. This is merely a ploy whose actual objective is to seize Al Salif, its valuable salt mines, and its excellent port facilities. In truth, Ms. Pillai has journeyed to Al Salif of her own volition, and is humiliated by India’s unfounded and provocative accusations. She merely wishes a new direction in her life, free from the confines of India’s stifling castes and obsolescent monarchy.”

Nonetheless, India appears determined to continue working for Ms. Pillai’s return to their care. A special envoy from the Raj has arrived with the squadron and is expected to head ashore tomorrow in an attempt to initiate negotiations with the Yemeni government.

AWNR reporters are arriving on the scene for more comprehensive coverage. Our correspondent from Britain’s Aden Protectorate, David Haversham, is in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, while South African reporter Nick Quick has just arrived in Al Salif itself. Both will be keeping AWNR updated on events in this crisis...


Tuesday, January 4th 2005, 3:48pm

Breaking news...28 November

“...Correspondent Nick Quick in Al Salif, a town that now reminds me of the scene at Gallipoli five years ago! Just one day after the arrest of their envoy by Yemeni authorities, and just three days after their arrival, the Indian naval squadron has launched an amphibious assault on Al Salif!

[Light caliber gunfire can be heard continually as Mr. Quick speaks. Louder reports from artillery pieces can also be heard intermittently]

“Just after sunrise, about an hour ago, numerous small craft containing Indian troops began moving toward a beach just northeast of Al Salif. Yemeni forces have engaged the troops, and have in turn been targeted by a destroyer.

“Off Kamaran Island, the cruiser Columbo is exchanging fire with the fortifications on the island. The Columbo has been hit amidships and is burning between her first and second funnel, while at least two large plumes of smoke are rising from the fortress. A Japanese destroyer seems to be approaching the Columbo, I assume to help her put out the...oh, my! The Yemenis are still firing and straddled the Japanese ship with at least one shell!

“High overhead, a single aircraft is circling the town. It seems to have floats, so it must be Japanese, as the Columbo carries none. More splashes - oh, and a hit! - around the Columbo. Columbo has been struck again, below her bridge...I can’t tell yet how serious the damage is. Two more close misses near the Japanese destroyer, which has begun spraying water at the fire on the Indian-“.

[A drawn-out rumble lasts four seconds]

My word! A Japanese battleship has opened fire with its main guns! I’m going to head for some shelt-“

[Deafening noise erupts and AWNR loses the transmission from Mr. Quick]


Tuesday, January 4th 2005, 3:50pm

AWNR: 30 November 1920

Reports from Al Salif indicate that India has taken control of the town after a day and a half of intense fighting. We start out coverage with this statement from the Government of India:

“On the morning of November 27, the Government of India attempted to resolve the crisis with Yemen by diplomatic means, but our diplomatic party was imprisoned and charged with capital offences. Twenty-four hours later, two battalions of infantry were landed in order to locate and rescue both the diplomats and Raveena Pillai. Acting on fresh intelligence data, a half-battalion of the South Assam Rifles liberated the diplomatic party from the town gaol, while the first battalion of the Mumbai Guard rescued Ms. Pillai from the governor’s palace.

“Ms. Pillai and the diplomats are in good health but need time to rest. We regret that a number of casualties have been suffered by both battalions and the light cruiser SR Columbo, and will seek to have a complete list available shortly.”

From that statement to Al Salif, where we have correspondent Nick Quick on the telephone.

AWNR: Nick, what’s the situation in Al Salif right now?

NQ: What’s that? You’ll have to speak up - I’m only just getting my hearing back.

AWNR (louder): Sorry, Nick - what’s the situation in Al Salif right now?

NQ: Well...the town’s a bloody shambles, really. Ruined buildings are still smoldering the eastern, central, and western parts of town as well as the main fortifications on Kamran Island. A warehouse on the east side has been taken over by the Indians to serve as a morgue, and their troops are patrolling the streets continuously. Out in the harbour, the Columbo's in rough condition, with two obvious areas of serious damage.

AWNR: Can you give us a quick summary of what happened?

NQ: It might not be that start with, the Indian diplomatic part came ashore three mornings ago and were arrested within minutes. There was no further traffic from the Indian squadron after that, until the next morning.

NQ: The first I knew of the landing was gunfire from the Indian squadron as they began shelling fortifications on Kamran Island and to the east on the mainland. I rushed down to shore and saw a number of boats heading for the northeastern part of the town - this turned out to be the Rifles. The Guards were apparently landing on the northwest tip of the mainland, near the Governor’s Palace, but I didn’t have a good line of sight to there.

NQ: Yemeni counterfire was sporadic and ineffective for awhile, perhaps due to some command confusion, but they began scoring near misses about an hour after the shooting had started. At about 9:12 or so, a big shell hit the Columbo and started a fire between the first and second funnels. A few minutes later, a Japanese destroyer headed in and started spraying water at the fire, but was also near-missed by the Yemenis. After a few minutes of this, a Japanese battleship began firing.

AWN R: Nick, there were reports that the battleship shelled the town. Is this correct?

NQ: Two shells landed very close to me - close enough to knock me silly for several minutes and deafen me. A number of homes were destroyed and twenty or more civilians were killed. However, all further shelling by the Japanese was directed at Kamran Island so I think that these two shells were some kind of error.

AWNR: So perhaps an effort to defend their destroyer. What’s the condition of the Kamran fortifications now?

NQ: Destroyed. Those walls were built decades ago to soak up damage from eleven-inch shells of the time, so they didn’t hold out well against the fourteen-inch shells being thrown at them. On an interesting side note, scuttlebutt around here is that the governor was in the fortifications and was killed in the shelling, but no body has been found yet.

AWNR: Nick, before we went on the air, you mentioned rumors of a mutiny among the Yemeni troops - can you elaborate?

NQ: I managed to speak with one of the Guards that entered the governor’s palace, and he told me that there were no live defenders inside - just a lot of dead ones. He says most of them looked to have died in hand-to-hand fighting; since the Indians didn’t do it, the Guards are thinking that some of the Yemenis attacked their colleagues and then fled. Apparently they secured the place without a shot being fired, unlocked the various doors, and found Ms. Pillai behind one of them.

AWNR: Have you seen Ms. Pillai?

NQ: I asked for an interview this morning, but was turned down. I’ll keep trying.

AWNR: Nick, if the Indians rescued everybody by noon, why was there still fighting yesterday?

NQ: A number of Yemeni troops rallied during the night and launched a counterattack yesterday just before dawn. The attack eventually failed, in part because one of the Indian destroyers came close inshore and started shelling them again. By early afternoon yesterday, Indian and Japanese medical teams were coming ashore to help with casaulties of all nationalities.

AWNR: Do you have a sense of the number of casualties?

NQ: Not for sure. I heard fourteen dead on the Columbo, and about twenty injured. That includes a South African exchange officer, Lieutenant Wim van de Loo, who may have saved the ship by jettisoning the ship’s port-side torpedoes as the fire reached that area; I'm happy to say that he has some minor burns and cuts but nothing serious. Onshore, perhaps seventy of the infantry were killed, plus a lot of wounded - most from the Rifles. The civilians are telling me that there are as many as fifty civilians dead, probably more. As for the Yemeni military, there’s a very vague guess of two to three hundred. It’ll be some time before we get an accurate number of Yemeni casualties overall.

AWNR: Nick, we’ll let you go at this point. Thanks for speaking with us.

NQ: A pleasure as always.

Meanwhile, the Yemeni government is demanding that the League of Nations require India to repair the damage caused to Al Salif. The League is expected to convene in the next week to discuss the matter and AWNR will keep you advised.

[Player Note: SR Columbo was struck by five shells during the engagement.

A shell in the 8" to 9" range struck amidships close to the portside 5.9" mount, destroying it, killing its crew, and starting a fire. This fire was contained with Japanese assistance, and only after the port-side torpedoes were jettisoned. A second large shell struck the hull a foot below the waterline, causing minor flooding without detonating.

Three lighter shells holed the aft funnel, damaged "X" mount, and causing a minor fire in the petty officer's berthing. The ship is assigned a rating of 72% and will require dry-docking once emergency repairs are made to render the ship water-tight again.

Neither destroyer was struck was by Yemeni gunfire during the engagement.]


Tuesday, January 4th 2005, 3:51pm

AWNR India: 10 December 1920

1. Update on Al Salif Situation
2. Raj Thanks Japan and South Africa
3. Football Team Earns Tie
4. Crown Prince Taken to Hospital

1. Update on Al Salif Situation

Ten days after the last shots were fired in Al Salif, the town is starting to rebuild with the help of the country which inflicted the damage. On 4 December, the Raj released this statement:

Through no fault of their own, the people of Al Salif found themselves in the midst of a battle provoked by their government. While my forces were successful in liberating those they had come for, a number of civilians were killed or injured and parts of the town were damaged. As compensation for the damage caused, I have directed the Minister of Infrastructure to send a mission to Al Salif, where Indian workers will join with the people of Al Salif in rebuilding the town’s basic services. It is expected that this will take several months, during which time India will maintain a military presence in the town to discourage disruption of the rebuilding process.

The following day, the light cruiser Columbo and a troop transport sailed for India. In Mumbai, the light cruiser Pondicherry and three requisitioned civilian ships are preparing to sail for Al Salif. The civilian vessels are being loaded with a variety of materials thought to be required under the rebuilding program announced by the Raj.

Meanwhile, Minister of Defence V. K. Chandra announced that a report has been commissioned on the Al Salif incident. The report will study the technologies and techniques employed by Indian and Japanese forces and their impact on the overall battle. Retired naval commander Sunil Ramesh, known for his resolute command of the light cruiser Hyderabad in the Andaman War, will author the study, which is due to be submitted in June of 1921.

2. Raj Thanks Japan and South Africa

Shortly after releasing the statement about rebuilding Al Salif, the Raj had this to say about third party involvement in the crisis:

The Government of Japan and the Imperial Japanese Navy rendered invaluable service to India by containing Raveena Pillai and her abductors in Al Salif, and for assisting a stricken warship while it was under fire. I would be pleased to travel to Japan in the coming months to personally deliver my thanks to the Government.

The Government of South Africa, and in particular its intelligence analysts at our nations’ joint intelligence service, provided key information that allowed the effective rescue of our captured countrymen. I will be conveying my appreciation to the Government during my February visit to South Africa.

Should it be acceptable to the governments of South Africa and Japan, it is my understanding that the commanding officer of SR Columbo wishes to nominate South African Lieutenant Wim van de Loo and the captain of the Japanese destroyer which assisted Columbo for Rubies of the Raj. My protocol office will be contacting their respective governments to expedite this matter.

The Ruby of the Raj is India’s third highest award for military valor, and is superceded only by the Diamond of the Raj and the Star of India. The Ruby of the Raj consists of a faceted one carat ruby in a gold girdle, linked by a two inch gold chain to a short black ribbon.

3. Football Team Earns Tie

After losses against England, France, the Netherlands, and Germany, the Indian football team earned its first tie against the Danish national team in Copenhagen. The final score of 1-1 pleased manager Amitabh De, who said, “Now the world can see India’s true potential on the pitch. The lads played an excellent defensive game and our goal keeping was strong. I expect that this will continue during our swing into southern Europe.”

The Indian team has three games remaining, against Italy, Iberia, and Greece, before the team heads home next month.

4. Crown Prince Taken to Hospital

Crown Prince Shrinivas was transported to Hyderabad’s central hospital with apparent facial injuries late last night. The nineteen year-old prince, who studies at the university, was engaged in a fencing duel in his dormitory when the injury was suffered. The Prince was released just after 6 AM and returned to the campus without comment.


Tuesday, January 4th 2005, 3:52pm

...An Excerpt from “Jones’ Quarterly Naval Review”, Volume 1920/4...

It’s mid-afternoon in the humid, hazy office of India’s Naval Design Bureau. On a paper-cluttered desk, a wooden model rests precariously at one edge. Featuring no less than six triple gun mounts, it’s among the more practical models scattered around this sweltering room a half-mile from Madras’ waterfront.

“We do produce some practical design concepts, of course”, notes Senior Naval Architect Dhiren Naidu. The Bureau’s supervisor, he has led the unit since its inception in 1901; his stamp of approval is on every class of warship now serving in the Indian Navy. Nearly twenty years after starting work on a torpedo boat class, Naidu rarely leads the design process anymore. Now he manages the Bureau and plays devil’s advocate for the fifteen senior project staff in his office.

“The Bureau has been gradually ramping up since 1901 - going to destroyers, then cruisers, and now we’re looking at everything from submarines to aviation ships to battleships. It’s a very exciting time for the younger members of the team. A bit trying for some of the older staff.”

Naidu’s own designs were strongly influenced by German designs of the time. With Germany providing technical support to India’s fledgling navy, munitions industry, and shipyards, it only made sense to take advantage of their expertise. “When I entered the business, Germany was the most influential external force on India’s military, and remained that way until just a few years ago. Germany produced some of the finest warships of the last two decades, and I was fortunate to have access to that knowledge at a time when I was still learning my trade.”

Now, however, his students are bringing a variety of other influences to their designs. “The Hyderabad class, for instance, owes a great deal to the British Hawkins type, as I’m sure your readers will have noticed”, Naidu remarks. “We saw a use for a larger cruiser with heavier main guns, but really did not feel that the naval yards were prepared to build something as complicated as, for instance, the Russian Sviatoslavs . In a couple of years, perhaps, but not in 1918 when we laid Hyderabad down, and certainly not in 1916 when we began drafting the plans.”

Though all of Naidu’s senior staff are assigned to one of four design teams, most are also assigned a particular nation whose own designs are scrutinized for Indian use. “We get together on a monthly basis to discuss new ideas coming out from our counterparts around the world. For instance, Venkaiah Shetty has kept track of the American aviation ship experiment on their Jupiter , and he’s incorporating that knowledge into our own aviation ship, Bhima . Randhar Singhal, who led the Hyderabad design process, watches British trends. And Ashok Ambedkar’s been observing Russian developments such as the quadruple turret.”

Naidu now points at this point to four clusters of men standing around drafting tables around the room. “Those are the teams at work. Randhar’s working on a set of smaller escort-type vessels, destroyers and the like - this seems to be the navy’s focus for the next year or two. Over there, Venkaiah and his team are working out bugs with Bhima . He’s already put some ideas together for her replacement, and is eager to see how Bhima actually performs.”

Pausing to drink from a tall glass of ice water, Naidu nods at a third group. “These boys are looking at the next cruiser class, which we’ll be starting production on in about three years or so. So far they’ve put together everything from a ship with eight single 8.2" guns to a 12,000 ton light cruiser carrying three quintuple 5.9" guns.”

Quintuple gun turrets?

“Yes, fifteen guns in three mounts. We didn’t take that design very far.”

Pointing at the final cluster of men, Naidu notes, “Yograj Saraswati, Ashok, and that group are working on our capital ship program. Having access to two former South African dreadnoughts can’t hurt us, and we’ve had some interesting discussions with our counterparts over there.”

When asked what India’s plans are in this regard, Naidu can only shrug. “The people who make those decisions haven’t made them just yet.” When asked about the Cleito Treaty, Naidu sits quietly for a moment and then erupts:

“It’s the worst thing to happen to ship design since HMS Invincible . Arbitrary limitations on size and main battery will result in everybody producing variations on the same design; I ask you where the excitement is in that. The pressure is now on to produce the “perfect” battleship, because failures can’t just be replaced like that anymore, can they? And after that, how does one improve on a perfect battleship? Poor Yograj has four different size ranges he has to consider because now it’s a question of how best to use 80,000 tons, and not a question of how much the best design happens to displace!”

Naidu rubs his forehead and reaches for another model, holding it up for this reporter to see. “My preference all along has been to start indigenous capital ship development with a modified Bayern . Well armed and armored, decent speed, and we could operate three within an 80,000 ton envelope - four inside a 120,000 ton limit if we’d stuck to that. Don’t get me going on that subject.”

“But some of our neighbours are jumping up to 40,000 tons right away, so the bureaucrats tell me that maybe we should build 2 of the maximum sized ships. And then the shipwrights tell me that they don’t think they can jump straight to a full-sized battleship, so they’d like to start with 20,000 tons. Fine, but that means we might end up with two 30,000 ton ships to round out the set. Or perhaps they’ll want another 20,000 ton ship and one 40,000 ton ship. Or some other combination I haven’t figured out yet. I marvel that Yograj doesn’t have ulcers yet.”

Setting down the Bayern model, Naidu points at the design with six triple turrets. “That’s probably what our first capital ship will be - a glorified cruiser of 20,000 tons. Not something I would build, but the shipwrights will be happier with the experience and the Fleet might find a use for her somewhere...”

Naidu sighs the sigh of a weary civil servant. At this moment he looks older than his forty-eight years. “When I take my children to the waterfront, I like to point out the vessels I’ve worked on, because in a way those are my children as well. My one aspiration before I retire is to be able to point at a battleship and say, ‘My children, that is the finest warship in the world, and she is your sister.’ But it seems I may have to wait many more years for this time to come.”

As Naidu contemplates the model, one of the capital ship team comes over and places a drawing in his hands. Though he holds the paper at an awkward angle, this reporter can see enough to discern a vessel sporting four large triple gun turrets. “Interesting”, he murmurs, “Perhaps even feasible, if the Ordnance Guild can produce guns of that caliber.”

“Ashok is suggesting the same caliber for his design”, the younger man replies.

Naidu winces and hands the drawing back. “See where you can go with this.” Turning to this reporter, he says, “I don’t mean to rude, but I need to speak with one of my staff. Do call again if I can be of further assistance.”

As Naidu’s secretary escorts this reporter out, Naidu and a younger man begin conversing rapidly in hushed tones, engrossed in the process of naval architecture. Perhaps a flawed design is being put to rest; or, perhaps, it is the start of something that Naidu will one day point out to his children.


Tuesday, January 4th 2005, 3:53pm

ANWR India - January 1921

1. Defence Ministry Changes Hands
2. Navy to lay down capital ship in 1923
3. Al Salif reconstruction begins
4. Football team arrives home

1. Defence Ministry Changes Hands

After months of speculation, it is official: India has a new defence minister. That worthy is retired Colonel Arun Shetty, a former army officer with no less than eleven decorations to his name. Shetty is one of three living recipients of the Raj’s Diamond, which was awarded for his stand against a force of Indochinese insurgents in 1906. His appointment is particularly interesting in that Col. Shetty has not only led men in battle, he has also been wounded by enemy action - barely surviving six bayonet wounds in the same action that won him the Diamond. Although some military insiders were disappointed that yet another army officer was appointed, the consensus was that Shetty was nonetheless a good choice and, as one source put it, “is unlikely to throw away the lives of his men.”

Former Defence Minister V. K. Chandra has, as expected, been appointed Ambassador to Germany, and will take up his new posting in March. Chandra’s tenure as minister including the Andaman War and the inclusion of India in the Cleito Treaty, signed last month in Atlantis. He returned to India this past week aboard SR Hyderabad, having initialled the treaty on behalf of the Raj.

2. Navy to Lay Down Capital Ship in 1923

Admiral of the Navy Sanjay Das has confirmed that the Indian Navy will order its first capital ship for lay-down in 1923.

“At this time we are still looking at two alternatives in the 20,000 to 30,000 ton range. A final decision will be made late this year, and will be ordered in 1922, with a lay-down date of early 1923. The experience gained from her construction and early career will allow the development of improved vessels prior to 1930.”

The Admiral also confirmed that the cruiser Male will be completed to her original design, and not as a coastal defence ship as some reports had suggested. “Although there would be some merit in using her as a test-bed for new weapons systems, we will instead construct a dedicated coastal defence ship to test them. This ship will likely be started next year.”

3. Al Salif Reconstruction Begins

India’s work to rebuild Al Salif has formally started. While emergency repairs had taken place in the days following the assault on the Yemeni town, the very poor state of the town’s infrastructure, coupled with League of Nations pressure, led to authorization of a more thorough civil engineering project.

Brigadier Surendra Kaushal commands the 38th Field Engineer Regiment: “An examination of the town’s infrastructure revealed that there really wasn’t very much at all. The roads were in decent condition, but there is no sewage disposal system, eletricity system, or a safe water distribution system. The town’s port facilities are also in poor condition in some locations - and this is all on top of the actual battle damage caused during the operation in November.”

“Basically, my regiment is going to bring Al Salif into the modern age as far as infrastructure is concerned, so we leave the people with the best standard of living that we can provide for them.”

The project is expected to take a year to eighteen months, during which approximately eight hundred Indian troops from the 38th Regiment will be stationed in a tent town adjacent to the town.

4. Football Team Arrives Home

After four months overseas, India’s football team returned home to a boisterous crowd in Cochin. The team failed to win any of the games played against numerous European national teams, but the general opinion on the streets is that their performance was still impressive. The team will travel to Hyderabad for a banquet before dispersing for some much deserved vacation time.


Tuesday, January 4th 2005, 3:55pm

An Interview With Pilot-Captain Mahesh Tijori, Indian Naval Aviation Service

AWNR: Good afternoon, Pilot-Captain

Tijori: Good afternoon

AWNR: We’ve been watching with interest the conversion of the collier Bhima into an aviation ship. Can you tell us your involvement in that process?

Tijori: Last year, I was approached to begin training a group of aviators for seaborne operations. The first step was to figure out the composition of Bhima ’s airgroup. I met with the Naval Design Bureau to discuss the size and shape of Bhima to determine what could be embarked, and then spoke with senior officers to determine what should be embarked.

AWNR: And what decision was made about the air group?

Tijori: It was determined that Bhima might be able to embark up to forty aeroplanes. However, we’ll be starting with twelve Baaghs* and twelve Dhairyas*, the crews of which I personally selected.

AWNR: Some of our listeners may not be familiar with aeroplane nomenclature. Could you explain what these are?

Tijori: Oh, certainly. The Baagh is a fighter model, derived from the Albatross aeroplanes Germany delivered to us in 1916. It’s armed with two machine guns. The Dhairya is a two-seat scouting and light bombing aircraft, essentially a home-built design. The pilot has a machine gun shooting through the propellor, and the observer has a pintle-mounted machine gun at his cockpit. Two small bombs can be carried as well.

AWNR: No torpedo-bombers?

Tijori: Not for now. Our focus will be to evaluate air defence and reconnaissance capabilities of the ship. At any rate, torpedoes are large weapons and we’re not sure we have an aircraft that can successfully carry one off Bhima just yet.

AWNR: So how has the training process taken place?

Tijori: We’ve secured facilities at the aerodrome near Delhi, where there is a very large paved area; we claimed a circular area whose diameter is equal to Bhima ’s length, and use pylons to mark out the shape of the ship’s deck. Naturally we have to re-do this every time the wind direction shifts significantly, but we have some sea cadets attached to the group for mundane tasks such as that.

Tijori: After that was sorted out, we began practicing take-offs and landings, to establish what length of deck was needed for each. The navy guy responsible for arranging aeroplane parking was interested in that, of course. He needs to know what’s left over for his use.

AWNR: Have you practiced with ordnance on the aeroplanes?

Tijori: Practice weapons only - same shape, same weight, but no explosives.

AWNR: When will your air group be embarking on Bhima ? Will that even be the ship’s name when she re-commissions?

Tijori: To answer the second question, probably not. I’ve heard it suggested that aviation ships will be named for weapons. The mechanics in our group have already placed bets on the various possibilities. I’ve got a small amount on “Talwar ”*, myself...

Tijori: we won’t begin flying on and off her until late in the year, but we’ll spend some time with the men and the aeroplanes aboard to test out parking arrangements, maintenance, and so forth. Plus we’ll need to get a sense of how the ship behaves while underway.

AWNR: What do you mean?

Tijori: Well, the ship will be pitching up and down as she goes through waves, and that means the flight deck will go from angling upward to angling downward in a short time span. Plus, the ship may also be rolling from side to side. These factors will affect the orientation of the aeroplane when it becomes airborne.

AWNR: Which affects the length of deck needed to land or take-off?

Tijori: And whether the aeroplane stays airborne or hits the water. So if we can say, for example that at a certain speed and in certain sea conditions, the deck bobs up, then down, then up again in, oh, twenty seconds, and our take-off run takes thirty seconds, we’ll start our run so that the ship’s level or angled upward when we run out of deck.

AWNR: So where do you see Indian aviation ship development headed?

Tijori: We’ll probably find that Bhima ’s lacking in some respect once we start working off her. It’s inevitable. We’ve never built an aviation ship, we’ve never operated off one, and Bhima’s not even built from specification. She’s just the best hull that was available in time for us to get her counted as experimental under the new treaty.

Tijori: From what I hear, the Design Bureau likes to start working on plans three or four years before a ship is laid down. So they’ll probably be making up a few different designs this year or next, and then revise or discard some of them until we’ve got a good idea of what we need - maybe 1923, once we’ve got a year or two of full operations under our belts. That gives the Bureau two years to develop final plans for whatever gets laid down in 1925.

AWNR: The recent Cleito Treaty granted the navy the right to 44,000 tons of so-called “aircraft carrier” tonnage. Would the navy be better to build two 22,000 ton ships or three 14,000 ton ships?

Tijori: It’d be three 14,666 tons ships, to be exact. I honestly can’t answer that yet. Bigger aviation ships are better units, but three aviation ships are more flexible than two. It will depend on what we learn from Bhima .

AWNR: What are your thoughts on other nations’ programs? There are some big ships being put together out there.

Tijori: I think they’ll be on the same learning curve we will, and their first aviation ships probably won’t be any better than ours. Just bigger.


* Baagh = “Tiger”
Dhairya = “Fearless”
Talwar = an Indian sword.


Tuesday, January 4th 2005, 3:56pm

AWNR India: 9 May 1921

1. The Raj Arrives in Durban
2. Violence in Al Salif
3. Kalyan launched

1. The Raj Arrives in Durban

The first state visit by the Raj in nine years has formally begun. This morning, the passenger liner Gujurat , flanked by the “Swans of the South Atlantic” - RSAN Hertog Alexander and Hertog Rijnhard - arrived off Durban. Accompanied by South Africa’s First Scout Squadron, elements of the Third Torpedo Boat Flotilla, and India's own cruiser Port Blair and four destroyers, the elegant, opulent liner made her way toward Pier One. There a cheering crowd estimated at eight thousand people awaited, and at nearby piers, the crews of numerous other South African warships turned out on deck to salute the leader of South Africa’s new ally. As the fleet flagship, RSAN South Africa , fired off a salute worthy of a visiting sovereign, the Gujurat eased up to the pier and began throwing lines down to the waiting longshoremen.

Within five minutes, the gangplank was lowered and the Raj himself appeared, even as a motorcade bearing the King and his family made its way down the pier. As the King stepped out of his motorcar, the Raj began walking down the gangplank. The two leaders met precisely in the middle of an honor guard of South African marines, greeting each other with a smile and a handshake.

After a minute of quiet conversation, the men strode to a podium, where the King greeted his people: “Fellow South Africans! It is always a joy to be seaside in Durban, the city where I learned to tie spinnakers and shoot torpedoes on an old sailing ship not far from here.

“A great number of ships have dropped their anchors in this great port, but this is the first time that an Indian passenger liner has paid us a visit. It is only appropriate that she bears with her a most important passenger, a new friend: the Raj. The Raj has brought his nation into the industrial age, and has made it a player on the world stage. I am most pleased that he has chosen to ally India with South Africa, a relationship that I know will be long-lasting and fruitful. Raj: on behalf of all South Africans, it is my pleasure to welcome you to South Africa.”

Shortly afterward, the Raj made a brief statement: “I am astonished and flattered that so many people come out to greet me, and I thank each of you for this welcome. This is my first visit to your empire, a true world power that I am honored to have as a friend and partner. I look forward to learning more about you and your nation over the next few days.”

Over the coming days the two leaders will address delegates of the first annual Indian Ocean Naval Symposium, tour a number of warships including South Africa and the Swans, and have breakfast with a class of naval cadets before leaving the Durban area.

2. Violence in Al Salif

Two Indian engineers are dead after a gunfight with Yemeni gunmen last night in Al Salif. An anonymous letter left in AWNR’s Sanaa bureau mailbox cited an organization known as the Al Salif Liberation Front as being responsible for the attack. The letter noted that the Front is fighting to liberate Al Salif from what it called, “the crafty clutches of the Indian Imperialists.”

This is the first case of violence directed at the Indian forces in Al Salif since the attack of late November. Relations between the Indian Army’s Reconstruction Mission and the residents of Al Salif had been generally good since the former began rebuilding the city’s devastated and neglected infrastructure. One merchant went so far as to say that the Indian mission was “a great gift” to the city and its residents.

The Indian military has so far declined to comment on the incident.

3. Kalyan Launched

The fifth and final ship of the Columbo class has been launched. The light cruiser Kalyan was launched on the sixth of May, and will be completed in early 1922.

“The Columbos have proven to be a very successful series of ships”, Admiral Sanjay Das commented at the launching ceremony. “We look forward to welcoming Kalyan into the Fleet in just a few months’ time.”

Sources tell ANWR that a follow-up to the Columbo class is being planned, one that would incorporate a mixture of single and dual mounts for its main battery. The so-called Trincomalee class could be laid down as soon as next year.

This is the Voice of India...


Tuesday, January 4th 2005, 3:56pm

AWNR India: 11 May 1921

1. Indian Ocean Naval Symposium Begins
2. State Visit to South Africa Continues
3. Columbo Rejoins Fleet
4. Raveena Pillai’s Public Appearance

1. Indian Ocean Naval Symposium Begins

The inaugural Indian Ocean Naval Symposium began in Durban on the ninth. That night, the Raj delivered a keynote address that spoke to India’s rising naval strength:

“The Indian Navy has experienced a meteoric rise in strength and power over the past decade as we take our proper place on the world stage. I expect this growth to continue through to the end of this decade with the introduction of locally built capital ships and perhaps, if they are warranted, aviation ships. By the time negotiations begin on the next Cleito Treaty in the mid-thirties, we will have sufficient operational experience to formulate a proper position on tonnage allocations.

“That operational experience is being greatly enhanced through our alliance with South Africa. South Africa has a great deal to teach India about blue water operations, and I would like to think that we have a bit to teach South Africa about coastal operations. South Africa has been helping us make tremendous strides in our battleship and submarine programs, while India may be able to assist in the development of South African Type A cruisers, based on our own experiences with the Hyderabads . SAINT is an alliance that benefits both parties, and makes the Indian Ocean a safer place.”

Over a hundred Indian officials and officers have arrived in South Africa for the event, which will include five full days of presentations, each with its own theme. Yesterday’s opening session addressed warship design in the post-Cleito Treaty world. Dhiren Naidu, head of India’s Naval Design Bureau, had this to say:

“There’s a problem that worries me, and that’s the assumption many of my colleagues have - that any new battleships have to be 40,000 tons just because that’s as big as they can be. So the ship gets the machinery and armament it needs, and then it gets far more armor than it needs. If armor schemes get ahead of what 15" ordnance can accomplish, we’ll see one of two things happen. Either battleship duels become close-range brawls, probably with massive losses to both sides, or other, unrestricted technologies - submarines and aerial bombers come to mind - will have to be developed to counter these heavily protected capital ships.”

Today’s session will focus on naval operations in the post-treaty world, followed by discussions of Great War operations in the region, the Al-Salif affair, and naval aviation.

2. State Visit to South Africa Continues

The Raj has had a busy itinerary thus far. After meeting the King of South Africa two days ago, the two leaders visited several warships, including the South Africa, Hertog Alexander, Santa Fe, Port Blair , and India’s new battleship Dara Shikoh . As mentioned earlier, the two men then spoke at the opening ceremony for the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium.

Yesterday began with breakfast aboard a South African training ship, where the Raj and the King ate with a class of naval cadets. Cadet Piet Vandevliert had this to say about the meal:

“I don’t know how the food was. I was too nervous to remember how it tasted.”

The leaders later toured Durban with civic officials and met with representatives of several trading houses based in the Durban area.

This evening the two leaders and their entourages will board a train for Pretoria. During the course of the trip, they will be briefed by the executive directors of SPEARFISH and enjoy the beautiful South African countryside.

3. Columbo Rejoins the Fleet

The light cruiser Columbo has returned to sea for a shakedown cruise after months of repairs. The cruiser took several hits from Yemeni artillery during the assault on Al Salif, and lost over a dozen of her crew. The ship will return to the Western Maritime District to resume her duties in the summer.

4. Raveena Pillai's Public Appearance

Popular musician Raveena Pillai, whose abduction sparked the attack on Al Salif, made an unexpected performance in Allepey last week. She performed a set of five songs, accompanied only by a pianist, in a local jazz club. Onlookers said that Ms. Pillai seemed a bit tentative, and did not interact with the audience during the set apart from smiling at the end. Ms. Pillai departed the club immediately after the performance for locations unknown.


Tuesday, January 4th 2005, 3:57pm

AWNR India: 14 May 1921

1. Indian Ocean Naval Symposium Concludes
2. As Salif Occupation Complicates Saudi Campaigning

1. Indian Ocean Naval Symposium Concludes

The first Indian Ocean Naval Symposium has wrapped up. Approximately two hundred fifty delegates attended the five day event in Durban.

After a day of discussing treaty-restricted warship designs, the second day of presentations were on naval operations in a post-treaty environment. Captain Neshi Mahal, currently assigned to SPEARFISH, spoke to the increasing difficulty of remaining undetected. “Fifteen years ago, all you had to do to remain undetected was avoid the enemy’s warships while you went about with your mission. If you were spotted, chances are your own lookouts would also spot the other fellow - so even if you were found out, the odds were good that you would at least know it.

“Now, however, we have aeroplanes and submarines to concern ourselves with. Aeroplanes travelling at high altitude afford spotters quite an expanse to examine, and it can be done at over a hundred miles an hour. Observers will tell you that even battleships are difficult to pick out in many cases - but try locating an aeroplane before it’s close enough to shoot at. If the aeroplane spots you, the first warning you might get is the appearance of the enemy’s smoke on the horizon.

“And submarines, of course, are far more worrisome. Not only can they detect without being detected, they can also inflict devastating damage without warning. While it may not be possible to detect submarines in time to avoid them, any kind of warning gives your screening forces a chance to harass them before they can positively identify your force’s composition, let alone put a torpedo into its midst.” Captain Mahal later spoke to zeppelins and small civilian ships as other sources of enemy scouting.

The next day, the topic was Great War Operations in the Indian Ocean. Special guest speaker Kapitan Karl von Muller spoke about the epic voyage of his ship, SMS Emden , in the Great War. “I believe we demonstrated just what a cruiser can accomplish with a good crew and a sense for logistics. There were a great many islands to hide amongst, and enough civilian traffic about that our auxiliaries could travel as they pleased. There were also enough neutral waters in India and the Dutch East Indies that supplies could be arranged, legally or otherwise. We were able to put into port at Madras, for example, and do so legally; our stay at Diego Garcia was perhaps less legal, but the locals did not object.”

On the 13th, Commander Rahul Haghi, commanding officer of the destroyer G-118 , talked about his ship’s fire support missions during the As Salif operation. “On the morning after the landings, we were advised that a force of approximately seven hundred hostile infantry were massing east of the town. The force commander directed us to provide fire support for the Guard companies defending the east end, and we moved into position three hundred yards offshore. At 0923, the hostile forces were taken under fire with mounts Anton and Bruno, followed at 0926 by Ceasar and Dora. Our fire was initially ineffective as topography hindered our spotters. However, at 0948, a Japanese seaplane arrived over the area and began dropping smoke canisters. We were able to range on the smoke and began dropping full salvos on the hostile forces.

“At approximately 1013, we were engaged with light machine guns and mortars by a company-sized formation of hostile troops. Our starboard 1.4" cannon and 0.6" machine gun returned the enemy fire, disrupting the formation and inflicting a number of casualties. Although we sustained minor damage from shrapnel and bullets, there were no casualties.

“At approximately 1028, we received word that the hostile forces were retreating in disarray. We ceased firing, having expended two hundred six rounds of 4.1" ammunition. I later heard from the Guard commander that our fire prior to the arrival of the Japanese spotter was ineffective, but was quite accurate once there were smoke canisters to range on.”

Today’s concluding session addressed naval aviation heard from keynote speaker General William Mitchell of the United States. General Mitchell spoke passionately of the future of aerial bombardment: “I firmly, unquestionably believe that the future of war is in the air. This is not what many of our peers wish to hear; they cling to the past glories of battlefleets and scouting forces, but these are now outdated concepts. A handful of men can now travel over a hundred miles in a matter of an hour and deliver enough firepower to sink any vessel. Any vessel. Gentlemen, in just a few weeks my men will demonstrate this by sinking the Ostfriesland , one of the most powerful battleships ever built. This will pave the way for massive firepower delivered by the air, vast armadas of airplanes scouring the ocean of hostile vessels long before they can approach close enough to do any harm.”

While there was some skepticism about General Mitchell’s comments, members in the audience nonetheless seemed to agree that there probably was a greater role of aeroplanes to play in naval warfare. There was certainly a considerable amount of interest in both navy’s aviation programs.

With the conference over, the Indian delegation will spend the next few days engaged in less formal meetings before the Raj returns to Durban on the 19th. After a formal dinner that night, the Indian ships and a large contingent of South African vessels will set sail for India, with several days of tactical exercises planned on the way.

2. As Salif Occupation Complicates Saudi Campaigning

India’s presence in As Salif continues to become more and more complex. A senior Indian official has told AWNR that India’s occupation of As Salif is affecting a war in the Arabian peninsula. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the official said, “Our understanding is that As Salif is, in fact, not a part of Yemen as defined by international treaty - a fact we did not appreciate earlier, much to our chagrin. As Salif is actually located in a...state, I suppose...called Asir, although the area has ill-defined boundaries at best.”

While the town is near Yemen and is coveted by that country, other forces are also at play: “There is a war under way between two dominant Arabian families, and one, that of Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud, overran the rest of Asir soon after we arrived in As Salif. Undoubtedly he would have taken As Salif as well, had there not been two battalions of Indian infantry and three warships present.”

Our source tells us that there is some concern in As Salif about being occupied by Ibn Saud after Indian forces withdraw in December. “Ibn Saud and his followers have embraced an ultra-orthodox view of Islam, known as Wahhabi, which teaches among other things that luxurious living is evil. This may well include what we consider basic urban infrastructure, like sewers our engineers are currently building in As Salif. It would seem that some of the locals find the idea of losing these benefits unpalatable.”

Asked what the future might hold for As Salif, the source said, “It’s the same range of possibilities we’ve always faced - anywhere from withdrawing as scheduled to not withdrawing at all.”

This is the Voice of India...


Tuesday, January 4th 2005, 3:58pm

AWNR India: 23 June 1921

1. Royal Yacht to Return to Service
2. Rana Wins Big in Coldmere
3. Navy Confirms Participation in Air Show
4. First Cyclone of the Season

1. Royal Yacht to Return to Service

The royal yacht Hindustaan will return to service in 1922, a spokesman for the Raj announced early this week. The ship’s re-activation was apparently prompted by the Raj’s recent trip to South Africa, during which he travelled on a chartered passenger liner.

“Although the Raj did very much enjoy his time aboard the Gujurat , he believes that having the yacht available for future voyages would be for the best. It simplifies the security issues, and means we can sail on short notice without having to worry about obtaining a charter.”

The Hindustaan was completed in 1914 and has a standard displacement of 4,929 tons. The ship was fitted to act as an armed auxiliary during the Andaman War, and saw action once, when it rammed and sunk the Dutch submarine K-1 . Damage sustained in the incident caused the yacht to be laid up until resources were available to repair her in 1919. Since then, the yacht has languished at the dockyard in Madras; despite being seven years old, the royal family has never actually stepped foot on her.

Former crew who have served on the yacht have described it as an astonishing display of grandeur, featuring teak panelling and furniture, gold fittings, and a large stone fireplace with its own stockpile of wood.

2. Rana Wins Big in Coldmere

The surprise landing of Oonishi Manzo on the KS Lord Helmbart has won the Rana an estimated 950,000 rupees. The Rana bet 50,000 rupees, at nineteen to one odds, that the infamous Japanese pilot would alight on the Coldmere vessel when he eventually reached Coldmere.

“I can honestly say I did not expect to see that money again”, the Rana remarked.

When asked how she would spend her winnings, the Rana commented, “The winnings stem from a feat of aviation, so I am contemplating using some of it as a prize for an aviation-related contest. Otherwise, the rest will collect interest until I find a purpose for it.”

3. Navy Confirms Participation in Air Show

The Navy has confirmed that it will send a contingent of naval aviators to the Madrid International Air Show in September. Two Baagh fighter planes and two Dhairya scout-bombers will be partly dismantled and crated for transport aboard the destroyer G-117 , which will have its torpedo tubes landed for this purpose. The six pilots and approximately thirty ground crew will also sail on the destroyer.

“Upon arriving at Cadiz, the aircraft will be offloaded and taken by lorry to the nearest aerodrome for re-assembly. From there they will fly to Madrid. G-117 , meanwhile, will remain at Cadiz, participating in any events that may take place in that time”, said Admiral Sanjay Das.

When asked what the Navy sought to gain from such an event, Admiral Das replied, “It is an opportunity to see and be seen; aviation, and particularly naval aviation, is in its infancy. We would certainly like to see how our designs compare with others. Perhaps we will even find an interested buyer.”

4. First Cyclone of the Season

The first serious storm of 1921 has dissipated after making landfall east of Sikkwe. The storm appeared to be losing strength even before it reach the mainland, so flooding and damage were relatively light. Local authorities have not commented on casualty figures, but did confirm that several small ships are now listed as missing.

This is the Voice of India...


Tuesday, January 4th 2005, 4:00pm

27 June 1921

From the lowliest street urchin to the Royal Palace, all of India is reacting with fury to word of the heinous crime committed in Nordmark this week. The Raj is en route to the capital from a working vacation in the Himalayas, so has been unavailable for comment. The Rana, who happens to oversee the security of her family, had this to say:

“I spent a great deal of time breaking china last night. I was, and still am, furious by such an act of barbarity. Seventy-six years ago, a similar crime took place just a few miles from here - my husband’s great-grandfather was murdered by one of his ministers. His wife knew how to deal with such a villain; she required the ruling class to watch as the murderer was mauled and eaten by the palace tigers.

“I suspect somebody is about to learn that Nordmark, while lacking in tigers, does possess teeth.”

Following those chilling remarks, the Rana later commented on how India would be represented in Nordmark over the coming weeks:

“We assume there will be a state funeral but India's representation there is not resolved. Due to our location, the Raj and I will need a minimum of five days' notice to reach Stockholm, and that is with excellent flying conditions. The Japanese Government has invited us to travel together and we will take them up on the offer if there is enough time.

"If we can not reach Stockholm in time, India will instead be represented by our daughter Prahminder, in her first official matter of state. She has recently started studying economics at a school in Germany, so can make the trip on short notice."


Tuesday, January 4th 2005, 4:01pm

AWNR India: 29 June 1921

1. Royal Travel Plans Change
2. Prince, Princess Assume Additional Responsibilities

1. Royal Travel Plans Change

With the date for the Nordmark state funeral set, the travel plans for the Raj and Rana are closer to being set as well. As the solemn event is still three weeks away, initial discussions of a lengthy and not entirely safe aeroplane trip to Stockholm have fallen by the wayside. Instead, the naval facilities at Mumbai are once again hastily readying warships for a rapid departure.

Captain Arjun Gayoom, commanding officer of SR Bangalore , told AWNR this afternoon: "My crew are currently on-loading supplies and reconfiguring our flag facilities to accommodate the Raj, Rana, and a small group of aides. We expect to depart Mumbai tomorrow morning in the company of SR Jaipur ."

At this point the plan is for the Bangalore to transport the Royal couple as far as southern Europe, where they will tranfer to a leased train and travel to northern Germany for a short flight to Stockholm.

"Unfortunately, we haven't yet contacted Italy or Greece to check on the availability of a train we can rent for the Raj and Rana", remarked Vijay Jaidee, an officer with the Ministry of Protocol and International Affairs. "So we are actually dispatching the cruisers without knowing their ultimate destination - but this should be well in hand before they exit the Suez Canal."

Apparently, Greece would be the preferred location, as it is closer to Suez. "We would have approximately eleven days of cruising at fifteen knots", said Captain Gayoom. "We'll be making calls at Aden and Suez for fuel, adding another two days to the trip. That would leave seven days for the entourage to travel from Greece to Hamburg to Stockholm - probably more than enough time."

2. Prince, Princess Assume Additional Responsibilities

The length of the Raj and Rana's trip to Nordmark has resulted in temporary powers being issued to Crown Prince Shrinivas.

"It's unusual for the Raj and Rana to travel together outside India, and indications are they may be gone for six weeks", a source in the royal court told AWNR. "A lot can happen in six weeks - so it was considered prudent to grant the Crown Prince temporary regent status."

This is the first time Crown Prince Shrinivas has had such responsibilities, and our source says many are curious to see how it goes. "The Crown Prince will one day be the ruler of India; I'd say we'll get a taste of how he will execute those duties over the next month and a half."

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that Shrinivas' younger sister, Prahminder, will be in attendance at the state funeral in Stockholm - regardless of whether her parents attend or not. "It's Prahminder's first state function, even if her parents are there as well. There is considerable speculation as to what role she will play in Indian politics in the future", our source commented. "The Raj's own sisters have had no involvement worth noting; the Raj and Rana seem more inclined to have her in the picture."


Tuesday, January 4th 2005, 4:02pm

An Excerpt from “Jones’ Quarterly Naval Review, Volume 1921/3”...

SAINT Partners Conclude Exercises
By Roger Williams, Asian Bureau

The first joint South African - Indian naval exercises were held in May, and I was one of several journalists selected to cover this event. The exercises kicked off on May 19, with a formal dinner on the newly commissioned SR Dara Shikoh , a former South African dreadnought completed in 1908. Unfortunately, the dinner was a closed event, so I and the other journalists kept to our cabin.

The next morning, however, I found myself on the Dara Shikoh’s bridge as a stream of South African and Indian warships and liners departed Durban under cloudy skies. The battlecruisers Hertog Alexander and Hertog Rijnhard took up station on our port and starboard beams respectively, while the Gujurat and five South African transports fell into three columns behind us. Around us, a flock of cruisers and destroyers formed a protective ring, keeping a watchful eye on the various commercial traffic in the area. This would be the order of the day - the exercises themselves would not begin until we were well clear of the coast.

Consequently, I was able to sit down with Captain Rik Eichardt of the Royal South African Navy, who would be the senior referee aboard the Dara Shikoh . “Several dozen officers and non-commissioned officers have been training over the past several weeks as referees”, Eichardt told me. “There are two on each torpedo boat and destroyer, four on each cruiser, and eight on each battleship - for a total of one hundred and four. Each team has two responsibilities - using specially made signal flags to tell other ships what their own ship is doing, and telling their own ship’s crew what is happening to them.”

While this in part depended on what the ships did, Eichardt confided that there was a script of sorts for the exercise. “We’ve identified a series of events that will take place on each warship at some point during the exercises. Each is intended to test a portion of the crew on a specific problem - for example, each of the capital ships will lose its captain and whoever happens to be in the same place as him. That will force his executive officer to assume command for the remainder of the day. The timing for a few of the major events is scripted, but otherwise the senior referee on each ship will decide when an event takes place. If he thinks that the affected crew need additional practice, he may invoke it more than once.”

The first real exercise began at sunrise on the 21st, as Dara Shikoh , Hertog Alexander , and most of the light forces broke away from the convoy and steamed northeast. Somewhere out there were South Africa and Cameroon , a pair of newer, larger South African battleships, coming south for a straight forward slugging match. It took until just after noon for the two forces to find each other, after which the light forces began an intense but simulated battle. By 1400, the capital ships were engaging each other, and at 1506, Eichardt informed Captain Pachauri that he and everybody else in the conning tower were casualties of a heavy caliber hit. Commander Muzamil Ibrahim found himself in command for the remainder of the day, during which Dara Shikoh suffered a torpedo hit, an explosion in one of the 5.9" ready lockers, and enough fires to wear out the damage control teams.

At 1800 the exercise concluded and the two opposing forces re-formed, heading back to link up with the convoy. I had a few minutes to speak with Captain Pachauri about his ship’s performance.

“I’m disappointed to be have spent much of the battle as a casualty”, he began, “But Commander Ibrahim and the crew performed well throughout the day. I was particularly impressed with the forward damage control team who had to deal with our torpedo hit.” Pachauri said he had a few specific concerns, which he’d discuss privately with Captain Eichardt later in the evening. Eichardt would then be able to introduce some events that would address these issues during the course of the exercises.

The next day’s missions were much the same, but the South African and Indian convoy escorts traded places with some of yesterday’s combatants. Consequently, it was Dara Shikoh and Hertog Rijnhard operating together, with the Indian battleship operating as command ship. I spent the afternoon at the port-side secondaries; although the guns weren’t actually shooting, the crews were still drilling.

It turned out that the ship was carrying warshots in just half of its magazines - the others had been loaded with bright red dummy rounds, similar in weight and shape, but totally inert. The port-side secondaries were using the dummies, so guns one, two, four, five, seven, and eight were manned and “firing”. As they did so, another six gun crews were running the dummies right back down to the magazines. It was a complicated process, and it slowed the overall rate of fire, but seemed to get the point across.

"This is miserable work", Gunner's Mate Prakash Basu remarked as he supervised the loading of his gun. "But that's the idea. Me and some of the old hands know how this works for real - shoot as fast as you can, make sure you're hitting the other guy, and don't get killed. We might not have incoming, but at least these youngsters are sweating."

No referee arrived to announce a serious hit here - there was no sense in taking them away from intense gunnery training. Instead, the remaining four gun crews, on the starboard side, had that privilege, as a referee introduced problem after problem to them. For the twelve active gun crews, it was a long afternoon of handling dozens, if not hundreds, of dummy shells. By day’s end, the crews were exhausted and sweaty; several had suffered minor injuries - mostly pulled muscles, bruises, and a hernia.

That evening, South Africa , Cameroon and their escorts headed home, and we reformed with the convoy. We spent another two days with Dara Shikoh and the South African battlecruisers sparring over the convoy, during which time an Indian destroyer suffered an engineering casualty and fell in with the convoy.

On the twenty-fifth, our planned anti-submarine exercises were postponed as we passed through a gale. Dara Shikoh handled the swells easily, although the waves did get through to the casemated secondaries. Seas were still choppy the following morning, but the submarines undertook their raids anyway. It was a relatively peaceful day for the battleship, apart from a few emergency turns to dodge simulated torpedos, a failed ramming attempt, and two simulated hits.

With the convoy nearing the Maldives, we detached that night with the half of the South African force and steered for the so-called “Western Range”, a blasted atoll used for gunnery practice. The convoy and the remaining warships carried on toward Alleppey, where the South Africans were building a base for float planes.

Dara Shikoh’s gunnery practice was limited to the aft main battery and starboard secondary guns, since these were the only weapons with live rounds. The eleven inch guns roared every minute or so, as the Indians concentrated on doing it correctly, not quickly. At noon, though, the gunners ended their work with eight rounds in six minutes.

In the afternoon, the crews of the forward main turrets replaced their counterparts in the aft guns and got their own practice in. Similarly, the portside gunnery crews shifted to the starboard guns and fired them. Meanwhile, Hertog Alexander was also pounding away at the nearly lifeless island; her sister was well to the west with the convoy. The two capital ships were later replaced later by some of the smaller vessels, which got a half hour or so each before sunset.

That evening, Captain Pachauri seemed satisfied. “More practice will be needed, but I would say that the shooting was acceptable. I’m also pleased that we had no accidents and only one mis-fire.”

As for the exercise as a whole?

“Very tiring, but also cause for insight. Every man on this ship now has a sense of how he and his mates might operate in a genuine battle, and can see for themselves how they need to improve. Certainly my officers and I will be analyzing the results for some time.”

The mood aboard Dara Shikoh was one of exhausted relief. The exercises were at an end, and the crew thought they’d done well. Just as importantly, though, Madras, and their families, were just two days away. After almost eight months away, the men of the Dara Shikoh would soon be home.

"I've been ready for this for a while", Gunner's Mate Basu said later that night. "Over in Agra I've got a four month old daughter to meet."