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Tuesday, January 26th 2021, 6:54pm

Hamburger Abendblatt, Tuesday, 13 December 1949

The crane ship Erzegebirge completed her conversion in the Deschimag yard here today and will embark upon builders’ trials before joining the Lehrdivision in the Baltic for operational training.

Cruiser Novara, Trincomalee Harbour, Wednesday, 14 December 1949

The need for fuel and fresh water for his ships and for his crews and caused Rogge to pause in his passage across the Bay of Bengal. The Bharati authorities had not refused permission outright but their reluctance to an extended stay was clear. Rogge was happy that the Etappendienst had made excellent arrangements for a speedy refuelling and reprovisioning. With luck they would be back at sea by the next afternoon.

Nachrichten für Außenhandel, Thursday, 15 December 1949


Saturday, February 6th 2021, 12:55am

Militär-Wochenblatt, Friday, 16 December 1949

Scheduled winter manoeuvres began today in the Truppenübungsplatz Grafenwöhr. The exercises will involve Panzerdivision 7, Panzergrenadierdivision 16, Panzerdivision 9, and Panzerdivision 17.

Handelsblatt, Saturday, Saturday, 17 December 1949

Massawa, East African State, Sunday, 18 December 1949

Martin Hessler had arrived in the port of Massawa some two months ago to take up his duties as consul and in that time he had formed a none-too-high opinion of what he considered to be a hell-hole. The calendar read mid-December and still the day-time temperature climbed above thirty degrees. Even the Italians who oversaw everything in the nominally independent East African State stayed in Asmara where the temperature and humidity was more bearable. On the one hand, the absence of Italian overseers had made it easier to establish relations with the local administration; on the other, it left him constantly dunning empty offices. The signal from Berlin advising the impending arrival of the East Asia Squadron had only made this worse, as to him fell the duty of arranging fuel, food, and water supplies.


Saturday, February 13th 2021, 1:34am

Hamburger Abendblatt, Monday, 19 December 1949

Scheduled winter manoeuvres are continuing in the Truppenübungsplatz Senne involving elements of Panzerdivision 1, Panzerdivision 12, and Panzergrenadier Division 11.

Berlin, The Cabinet Meeting Room, Tuesday, 20 December 1949

The debate around the meeting table had gone on for nearly half-an-hour, far longer than matters requiring the Cabinet’s attention normally took. Then, the Rheinbote program was a radical change in Germany’s defence posture, requiring significant investment over and above the costs of the missile system itself. Blank, the Defence Minister, had Dehler, the Foreign Minister squarely in his corner, together with Niklas, Minister of Labour. The chief opponent was Fritz Schäffer, the Minister of Finance, who objected on the question of costs; Höcherl, the youthful Minister of Agriculture, supported him. Blank returned to the offensive,

“Gentlemen, there is intelligence that the British have already begun work on a similar project, associated with the recently-renamed Guided Weapons Department. Given the long-term development timeline for Rheinbote every month we delay puts us further behind them. We must begin the first phase of implementation now.”

Von Hapsburg spoke, “Herr Chancellor, I move that the Cabinet approve the Defence Minister’s proposal regarding the Rheinbote programme.” To their surprise, Wildermuth, the Minister of Transport seconded the motion.

Adenauer called for a formal vote and the measure carried, only Schäffer, Höcherl, and Hans Ehard, the long-serving Minister of Posts being in opposition. “It is decided then. We shall proceed with the first phase. What’s next?”

Cruiser Novara, Berbera Harbour, Wednesday, 21 December 1949

Each of the vessels of the East Asia Squadron saluted the Danish warships in Berbera as they entered, and followed instructions regarding their anchorage. As soon as practicable awnings were rigged to provide some defence against the oppressive heat, Rogge and his captains made ready for the traditional round of visits while the ships’ supply officers updated their lists of items required. Here they would wait for a few days until word was received regarding their move to their next destination.


Saturday, March 6th 2021, 9:36pm

Autozeitung, Thursday, 22 December 1949

Oberösterreichische Rundschau, Friday, 23 December, 1949

Winter manoeuvres continue in Truppenübungsplatz Kaisersteinbruch in Burgenland, and are expected to do so for at least the next week. In addition to Eingreifdivision 1, Panzerdivision 2, and Gebirgesdivision 2, reserve contingents from Infanteriedivisions 141 and 143, together with Panzerbrigade 64 are participating in the war games.

Cruiser Novara, Berbera Harbour, Saturday, 24 December 1949

Rogge pulled the cablegram from his pocket and read it again, just to reassure himself of its content. Turning to the Novara’s captain he ordered “Please signal the squadron to weigh anchor and get under way. Once clear of the harbour we can set course for Massawa.”


Saturday, March 13th 2021, 1:09am

Berlin, The British Embassy, Sunday, 25 December 1949

Alfred Burcough, the naval attaché in the German capital, read the transcript of the report of one of Tanner’s stringers in Bremen. Reportedly the German Navy was taking up another round of merchant ships from trade for conversion into naval auxiliaries. According to the agent ‘Spot’ two large cargo ships were to be converted to landing ships, while no less than six small freighters were to being requisitioned for unspecified purposes.

He rubbed his eyes. “What are they doing?” He checked his notes – and quickly counted up the auxiliaries already taken into the Kriegsmarine – ten former merchantmen, including such specialised ships as salvage tenders and crane ships. There were rumours coming out of the Baltic of constant exercises – he wondered if he could wangle an invitation to tour one of the naval stations there.

Cruiser Novara, Massawa Harbour, Monday, 26 December 1949

The vessels of the East Asia Squadron carefully made its way into Massawa Harbour, delivering honours to the sad-looking ancient light cruiser that was the flagship of the navy of the East African State as also to the quartet of destroyers flying the Italian flag. Rogge noted the modern dry dock that was the centre of the navy yard – a facility that looked unused and verging on disrepair. His ships anchored in the bay and awnings were rigged to protect the ship from the blazing sun. The Novara’s gig was called away and Rogge headed ashore for a formal call in the Captain of the Port.

Berliner Morgenpost, Tuesday, 27 December 1949

The aeronautical world mourns the loss of the noted Greek test pilot Vassilios Lemonis in the crash Sunday of his Lerax fighter aircraft. Lemonis, due to retire at Christmas, was performing a series of aerobatic manoeuvres when the aircraft suddenly lost speed and stalled. Unable to recover Lemonis sought to eject but failed.


Thursday, March 18th 2021, 12:03am

Cruiser Novara, Massawa Harbour, Wednesday, 28 December 1949

The ships of the East Asia Squadron swing easily in the outer harbour of Massawa – thankfully there was a breeze to relieve sweltering heat. Rogge had called upon the captain of the port upon arrival – a mere formality – and he had called again the previous day in an attempt to speed the provisioning of his ships. But today the side party was mustered on the cruiser’s quarterdeck to receive the Consul Martin Hessler, who, Rogge hoped, might have means of budging the machinery of East African administration.

For his part Hessler brought some news. He had arranged to prepare the most necessary supplies prior to the squadron’s arrival, and the Etappendienst was sending a supply ship from Port Sudan that would bring all the missing necessaries. Moreover, the East African head of state, Haile Selassie, was on route from Addis Ababa to inspect the squadron, which was the principal reason for the squadron’s venture to these waters. He was due to arrive the following day – if, he said with a shrug – the railway was ran on time. Despite the boasts of the Italians who ‘aided’ the East Africans, the state railways did not always keep their schedules.

New Yorker Staats-Zeitung (New York), Thursday, 29 December 1949


Tuesday, March 30th 2021, 3:01am

Massawa, East African State, Friday, 30 December 1949

As a mere consular official, Martin Hessler played no role in the pageantry enacted on the waters of Massawa Harbour. For that he was thankful. He could retreat to the air-conditioned interior of the chancery and watch the ships that now filled the waters off the Abd el Kader peninsula. The visit of Admiral Rogge’s cruiser squadron had prompted the Italians to concentrate as many ships as they could muster to remind the visiting Negus of who pulled the strings of his administration. The light cruiser Alberto da Giussano and the destroyers Legionario and Mitragliere had come down the Red Sea post haste – and the Negus’s visit had no doubt been delayed to permit them to arrive in time. The corvettes Cicogna and Cormorano – normally patrolling the waters further south – had joined in the show of force. Alongside the assembled foreign vessels the East African cruiser Ras Dejen – temporarily serving as Haile Selassie’s ‘yacht’ cut a sorry figure. The boom of signal gun rumbled over the waters and Hessler noted the time – noon. Things were underway. With luck he would dine with Rogge that evening to ascertain what progress, if any, had been made toward weaning the Negus from the thrall of his Italian ‘advisors’.

Berlin, The Ministry of Economics, Saturday, 31 December 1949

Otto von Hapsburg read the precis sent over from the Wilhelmstraße with interest. The German consul in Lagos, Nigeria, had reported the rumour of an impending economic development conference scheduled to begin sometime in the next month. It was surprising that such a gathering had not been trumpeted by Whilehall, or the Quai d'Orsay. A note from Dehler inquired whether the consul should pursue the matter. Von Hapsburg made a note to ask for confirmation. Something did not sound quite right…