U-156/U-502 Roundtable Newsletter #11
    Dedicated to recording Allied and Axis engagements during WWII (1939-1945) in the Caribbean and off coastal South America through personal experiences, recollections, and avid research by Roundtable members.
                            "The secret to any good history book is for readers to be taught a history
                              lesson without knowing it."
                                    Doug Stanton, In Harm's Way. (Submitted by Al Leak, 10/26/06.)
February 24, 2008.
Dear Fellow U-Boat Enthusiasts and Lago History Buffs:
        Once again we have a full report on the historical happenings experienced and researched by our members during that unforgettable period in our country and island history when the good guys wore white hats and the bad guys wore black hats. Try doing that in today's world where the enemy blends in with the local scenery.    
        Topics to be covered in this Newsletter are: Special Report by Stan Norcom on the possibility of survivors to the sinking of U-156, March 8, 1943...Special Report by Dufi Kock on The Spark of War (Part I), telecast by TeleAruba in 2002 (Jorge Ridderstaat, Jr. provided Dufi the VHS video tape)...Book Review of Vic Lopez's Vol. III, The Lago Colony Legend...Help! I Need Help! Does Anyone Remember? by your Editor...Allied and Axis Warships Visit Aruba by Vic Lopez...Report on U-156/U-502 Roundtable #5, Oklahoma City, by your Editor...Correspondence from our subscribers...New Members/Subscribers... and, What's in The Future Mix? 
        New Roundtable Members
        The following Roundtable #5 participants signed-up as new U-156/U-502 members in September 2007: Spencer McGrew (#103); Jan Tiemen Medema (#104); Thomas "Tim" O'Connor (#105); Jim Duffy (#106); Gerald Dixon (#107); Larry Monroe (#108); Bob Rafloski (#109); Henk Schendstok (#110); Charlie "Butch" Drew (#111); Bob Drew (#112); Christina Wilbur (#113); Brian McCall (#114); Bill Raflowski (#115); and Artie Spitzer (#116).
        Jim McCasland (#117); Richard Shaffett (#118); and Dolfi Kock (#119) joined our merry band shortly thereafter.
        Welcome aboard! Dig down deep in your memories of yore and tell us what you remember about the week of Februay 16,1942, and any other tell-tale WWII event.  
        One of our early Roundtable members, Chet Rogers (#31), passed away on September 19, 2007. Chet had a thirty-eight year tenure at Lago while serving in the Processing Department and retiring as Superintendent of the Fuels Division. Upon retirement Chet and Marilyn made Redlands, California home where they lived for 30 years; a year before Chet's passing they moved to Las Vegas to be closer to family.
        Chet is survived by wife Marilyn in their sixty-five years marriage, four children, and eight grandchildren. 
        Your smiling countenance and great disposition will be greatly missed Chet. God speed!
        Sue Gravendijk (10/03/07): "My grandparents and all of my father's family survived WWII in Amsterdam, while my father was in Aruba and unable to visit them until his furlough in 1947. He had a furlough in 1945, but Holland had just been liberated on May 5, 1945, by the Canadians, and after the Hunger Winter there was no food for the populace, so no additional people were allowed in the country.
        "Steve Fremgen's uncle, Dick Ward, was one of the pilots who flew missions to drop food pallets over and over again from a U.S. base in England.
        "I have not seen Ken Burns' telecast WWII, but my cousin in Kansas has bought the series after seeing what was aired on TV. She is totally awed by Burns' work and the history not taught in school"  (emphasis added).
        (Editor's 10/07/07 response to Sue: "Do you realize that the German invasion of Holland on May 10, 1940 [the scuttling of the German freighter Antilla off Aruba's Palm Beach of the same date] and the liberation of Holland on May 5, 1945, was four years, 360 days or five years minus five days?")
        Bill "Ted" Gibbons (Ed. Note: The following is Ted's 06/05/07 inquiry to the BBC regarding the February 16, 1942 U-boat attack): "I'm interested in finding out if the BBC had a radio broadcast about the sinking of three ships off the coast of Aruba on the 16th of February, 1942. I used to live in Aruba and have been asked to write what I remember on that fearful night...I was very young at the time, but my family used to listen to the BBC for world news, as both my parents were British subjects...The ships that were torpedoed were the Oranjestad, Tia Juana, and the Pedernales.... 
        "The reason that I'm trying to confirm this is that some of the survivors of the sinking reported that the German U-boat surfaced and came along side the ships and got the names of the ships from the officers on watch. I was told that the officers on watch thought that the submarine was the Dutch pilot boat which guided the ships into San Nicolaas Harbor, and being very dark didn't know that it was a U-boat."
        (06/21/07 response from the BBC to Ted): "Unfortunately we do not hold transcripts of news bulletins broadcast overseas...However, we do hold the news' transcripts of our domestic service from the 8:00 a.m., February 17th news. Here is the relevant item:
            "The first attack on a land target in the Americas was reported last night from Curacao, in the Dutch West Indies. An enemy submarine has shelled the Standard Oil Company refinery on Aruba. Three tankers were torpedoed and a fourth was attacked, but not sunk near the harbour of Willemstad on the island of Curacao. As soon as the attack on Aruba began, U.S. planes took off in search of the enemy. American observers say that there are indications that two enemy submarines were sunk."
        (Ed. Note: Hmmm.)   
        Antonio Rodriguez (09/30/07 - edited): "Out of personal interest I'm researching a series of events related to WWII, in and around the coast of Venezuela. The specific event...is information/confirmation about airplane wreckage that was found in 1970 in the hills located on the coast of Venezuela near the island of Trinidad. The airplane (Vultee AT-19, U.S. Army)...was reported lost at sea on November 16, 1943.
        (Ed. Note: Antonio goes into great detail about where and why the airplane went missing. Actually, too much to report here. If any of our members would like further details regarding the crash site, etc., please contact me at arubagray@aol.com
        Jerry Casius (08/29/07 - edited): "The Disney Studios designed a lot of unit emblems for the U.S. Army Air Force, using well known cartoon characters; it was Disney's support of the war effort. I believe that around early 1942 they (randomly?) picked the bad wolf as a symbol. There was no knowledge at the time of U-boat wolfpack tactics.
        "Is it possible to pick a fairly precise date when the term 'wolfpack' came into use, and/or when did the U.S. public/military become familiar with the term? Was it actually a German term (i.e. pertaining to special U-boat patrols) or the result of creative writing byTime and Life magazines?
        "In your Roundtable circulars I often see a message from U-boat Headquarters being referred to as a 'BdU' of a particular date...As far as I know, 'BdU' is the abbreviation of Befehishaber der U-Boote, commander of the submarine forces. In other words, the commander, a person, Doenitz.
        "I enjoy reading the Roundtable Newsletter. Thanks for your efforts."                                          
        Janet (White) Powell (01/08/08): "Your Newsletter gets better and better...I enjoy it and always learn something from it."
        Dolfi Kock (09/21/07): (Ed. Note: The following exchange of e-mails is from Dolfi Kock, cousin to Dufi Kock. So folks, don't get your Dufi's and Dolfi's mixed!) "I have a photo of a plaque that is hanging in the St. Teresa Church in San Nicolaas. It is a plaque in memory of the Lake Tanker crews who lost their lives during WWII. Cousin Dufi checked all the names on the plaque and all of them were born in Scotland and England." 
        (Editor's 09/22/07 response to Dolfi): "Upon looking at the wording on the St. Teresa plaque I notice that it is captioned 'Lago Marine Club. In memory of 21 members (one of whom was from Sweden), who lost their lives during WWII.' In a way, 'members' says it all. The assumption can be made that the St. Teresa plaque honors only those lost Lake Tanker seamen who were members of the Marine Club. That would include most, but not all, officers (and crew?) of the Lake Tanker fleet. Am I correct in this assumption?") 
        Dave Barnes (08/23/07): "Thanks again for all your hard work on a fascinating story."
        Vic Lopez (08/23/07): "Excellent work."
        Doug Frazier (08/25/07): "This topic may be officially dead by now, and I don't know if I mentioned this before, but on at least two incidences during the war, German U-boat commanders took their boats inside harbor defenses in the Caribbean, where they sunk shipping before escaping. Trinidad roadstead...is pretty open, but in St. Lucia...the channel is narrow and close to shore guns. At St. Lucia the U-boat attached lights to the conning tower and ran on the surface, masquerading as a tug or pilot boat...and made his getaway undetected. My personal feeling is that the Oranjestad Harbour sighting (of U-502) was merely a rumor built on misunderstanding, but the precedent is there for such an event. Who knows."
        (Ed. Note: You have good understanding of accessibility to harbors Doug, but Clyde Harms, who was at the Oranjestad Harbour shoreline with several other schoolchildren on February 17, 1942, definitely remembers U-502 being within the confines of the Harbour.)
        Gene Williams (08/25/07): "As usual, there's so much fascinating information in your Newsletters."         
        Jak Mallmann Showell (08/29/07): "...In several places (in Newsletter #10) you wrote that a certain author had made mistakes but that you wouldn't mention the errors. I think it is rather important that you do list any mistakes you find. I have always been grateful to people who pointed out mistakes in my books and it is a great advantage to get corrections from people with specialized or local knowledge, otherwise the same old mistakes will just keep circulating. Mistakes could be listed and the corrections explained without malice to the author...Some of the 'best' friends I made over the years originally got in touch because they helped to correct mistakes in my books and I have always been most grateful to people who have taken the time and trouble to point out errors."
        (Ed. Note: Advise well taken from an author whom I consider the most knowledgeable and prolific in the field of German U-boat warfare during WWI and WWII. If Jak has written about it, "you can take it to the bank". Thanks again, Jak.)  
        Doug Tonkinson (08/30/07-Edited): "Received your latest Newsletter and read it with gusto. Once again, it was terrific! I applaud you and your 'band of brothers' who have worked so diligently to present all the information available about the U-156 attack....You use the following description in your 06/08/07 e-mail about what might have happened on February 16, 1942, and I thought some hyperbole was used:
            "If the Gibbins had been torpedoed by U-156 or any other U-boat in the vicinity of the Aruba refinery, and if the Gibbins did in fact carry 3000 tons of TNT in its hold, the subsequent nuclear explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in contrast to a Lago Refinery explosion, would have had the effect of an ant on an elephant's ass. 
            "In other words, every man, woman, and child on the island would have had to grab his ankles, placed his head between his legs, and kissed his ass goodbye."
        (Ed. Note: Over the top? HyperboleWhat do you think, folks?)
        Jan Tiemen Medema (08/31/07): "I am a scuba diving instructor in Aruba and I'm very interested in the history of shipwrecks. I dive the wreck of the Pedernales (or what's left of it) a couple of times a week. And I would like to locate and dive to the Oranjestad." 
        (09/10/07): "Thanks for adding me to the Roundtable list....Yes, I would love to dive the Oranjestad. I have not heard of anyone who has dove there. Ninety feet is no problem. I can scuba dive on air to about 150/160 feet. Deeper than that is better done on trimix...With trimix dives to 200 and even 300 feet are possible.
        "On a sea chart there is a wreck symbol close to the Lago Refinery. That is in 150 to 200 feet of water.
        "Also I often dive on the wreck of the Antilla. There are different versions on its sinking. It is an interesting wreck and a great dive."
        Clyde Harms (09/09/07): "I am surprised that I have been quoted as saying that 'all seamen who lost their lives on the tankers were from Aruba'. In my dedication 'to the 47 sailors who lost their lives on the Lago Oil tankers, February 16, 1942', I did not state where these men were from. In fact, while reviewing the papers obtained from the Aruba Archives of Historic Documents, I noted that there was not one (lost sailor) listed as Aruban. There were Chinese, St. Vincentians, Bonaireans, etc., but no Arubans. (I considered the absence of Arubans reasonable. Arubans, although fishermen, are not seafarers like the men of other West Indian islands, such as Bonaire. My father was a seafarer; he came from Bonaire.)...Note: My observations refer strictly to the forty-seven listed in the book (German U-Boat 156 Brought War to Aruba, Feb. 16, 1942, by Bill Hochstuhl). I know nothing about the many others who perished on other tankers on other dates."
        (Ed. Note: My apologies, Clyde. I got tangled in my own hyperbole, but have since seen the error of my ways. [That's what you get Gray from messing around with your high school basketball nemesis.])
        Tim O'Connor (09/02/07): "I am putting together an oral history on the events of February 16, 1942, as a gift to my children. As my wife is Aruban and our children are very young, this will be a part of their history and I want to have first person accounts in order to give them a sense of 'living history' ".  
        (09/26/07): "My uncle, Cornelius O'Connor, was a survivor of the sinking of the M.F. Elliott by U-502 in June, 1942. He was picked up by the U-boat and questioned by the U-boat officer for a short period, then released in a raft, only to be picked up a bit later by a Brazilian trawler...It is my understanding that the U-boat officer spoke in perfect English and asked my uncle which country would win the war. You can guess my uncle's answer.
        "My uncle passed away years ago. When my father went back to Virginia to bury him he brought back my uncle's possessions, which were not much. Included was my uncle's plane ticket from Brazil to Miami, a train ticket from Miami to New York City, and some news articles from the Chicago Tribune regarding the sinking of the M.F. Elliott. He was nineteen at the time and I think he was treated as a semi-war hero for having survived the sinking and giving the U-boat officer an honest answer.
        "Anyway, I found your site interesting."
        Jim Duffy (09/08/07): "...My name is James P. Duffy and I am the author of fourteen books, roughly half of them on WWII subjects (www.jp.duffy.net). I am currently at work on a new book dealing with the sinking of the Laconia, and the subsequent rescue and how that impacted the remainder of the U-boat war.
        "Until today the shelling of the Lago Refinery by U-156 was to be an interesting aside, but having finally, after several years of internet searching for information and having missed your Newsletter...I find the incident and the fact that people are still meeting and discussing it 65+ years later, to be fascinating in the extreme. Your Newsletters are so crammed with information that I wonder how you find time to keep it up. Congratulations on what must be a labor of love. Needless to say, I intend to add considerably more to my book concerning this incident and will credit your Roundtable and Newsletter as sources...."
        (Ed. Note: Welcome aboard Jim! Jim's statement "...the fact that people are still meeting and discussing it 65+ years later, to be fascinating in the extreme", exemplifies the cohesiveness of the 'Lago Group' when it comes to getting things done. I could not have done it Jim, without the assistance of other members in the Roundtable, most particularly a certain '"element" within the Roundtable known as the Wonker Brigade [will explain and identify "wonkers" in a future Newsletter]).
        Stan Norcom (02/09/08): "I don't know who has challenged Gaylord Kelshall (The U-Boat War in The Caribbean), but there are at least two others who are aware of his inaccuracies. And, with your keen eye, that makes three.
            "At the Edmond Oklahoma Historical Society talk, in which again I gave the "U-156: From The Beginning to Das Ende" power-point presentation, there were about twenty in the audience....    
            "That's an interesting question (rescue at sea of opposing belligerent nation sailors?) as to what could be entered in the ship's log on a rescue operation. Actually, the practice/law of the open sea require assistance if at all possible. U-156's Werner Hartestein did that with the Laconia and the Queen City episodes.
            "The two Spanish ships (Aldecoa and Gobeo---in the vicinity of U-156's sinking) were headed directly west so it might be of consequence to know what ports they were headed, when they got to the port(s), and if any log entries of radio communications by the U.S. Navy's PBY to its Trinidad base. Lots of things to check." (Ed. Note: See Stan's Special Report below.)  
        Special Reports
        "What May Have Happened to The Survivors of U-156's Sinking", by Stan Norcom.
        (Ed. Note: Now folks, I don't want you to think that Stan and I are "mad dogs and Englishmen   standing out in the noonday sun" too long. What Stan basis his theory on is part conjecture, part speculation. The Spanish ships, U.S. Navy PBY, times, and locations, are factual. Only segments leading up to the conclusion are speculative. Your comments Roundtablers are most welcome.)
        "Now I've really done it! Please help me. I have gone beyond legitimate wonking and penetrated the area of prognostication. But I just couldn't help myself after reading the (U.S. Navy) PBY reports. So, here is my humble take on an item that has always piqued my curiosity about (U-156) survivors in the raft (resulting from U-156's sinking).
            1.) On the way out from Trinidad, PBY 00480 spotted two ships, one at 10:45 a.m. (AST) and the other at 11:15 a.m. They were identified as the Aldecoa Espana and the Spanish tanker Gobeo; thirty minutes apart and heading west.
            2.) U-156 was sighted at 1:10 p.m.; one hour and 55 minutes after sighting Gobeo. 
            3.) Report of sub and sinking was radioed to Headquarters in Trinidad at 1:17 p.m. A minor assumption is that the Spanish ships picked-up the same message which would have included survivors in a raft.
            4.) PBY leaves scene of U-156's sinking at 2:50 p.m.
            5.) 5.) PBY cruises at about 180 mph so at the time of the radioed message, the Aldecoa and the Gobeo were not more than 360 miles away at attack time.
            6.) On hearing of the attack, the Aldecoa (assumption) headed back to the sinking of U-156's location which had been reported on radio. At 12 kilometers per hour (13.8 mph) the Aldecoa would have taken no more than 26-hours to reach U-156's survivors. If the Aldecoa had poured-on-the-coals it may have taken less than 26-hours. The two-man raft had a sea-anchor so they could not have drifted very far, plus a somewhat visible oil slick would still be at the site to assist in survivor location efforts.
            7.) (Ed. Note: Here's where the heavy speculation kicks in.) U-156's survivors were taken aboard the Aldecoa (or possibly the Gobeo) and waited out their time before the ship could arrive at a suitable port. Brazil, with a sizeable German community, is out of the question however, since it was at war with the Axis powers. So, Argentina, also with a sizeable German community, is in. And, the Aldecoa had been to Buenos Aires before.  
            8.) The difficulty of getting back to Germany is apparent. Spain was 'neutral' and neither the Aldecoa nor the Gobeo could, at the time, arrive in an Axis port. There are also evident reasons why the survivors didn't want to go back to Germany and they weren't really that important for the German Navy's (Kriegsmarine) war effort in order to spirit them back to Germany.
            9.) So, it's off to Buenos Aires where they obtain proper ID's, name changes, and generally assimilate in the European-Argentine community.
            10.) U-156's five survivors get jobs, learn Spanish, date Argentine girls (Lt. Dryden says from his position in the PBY the survivors looked like teenagers), get married, have children, etc., while the war is storming toward conclusion in its final two years. In essence, U-156's survivors invest in Argentina and its varied European communities.
            11.) The war is over!! Germany's scene is bombed-out towns, life difficult, jobs scarce, education and training minimal at best, the Soviet Union has taken over one-half of Germany, families either difficult to locate or no longer exist, (in the intervening years), a lovely Latin wife, children, close friends, etc.
            12.) Decision: Stay in Argentine. That, of course, is with other German escapees during and after the war, as with U-977.
            13.) Secrecy is paramount among the survivors and their close community (e.g. Adolf Eichmann, Martin Borman). Consequently, nothing else is ever heard of them and they live happily ever after. (If still living, they would be in their early 80's."
            Stan continues: The above assessment is open to all inquiries, questions, corrections, and tweaking. To me, it takes more incredulity to think that these guys just evaporated out in the Atlantic on a life raft than they were picked-up by either the Aldeco or Gobeo. 
            (Ed. Note: My two cents---Time and ocean currents would also be deciding factors. Stan and I would appreciate any and all Roundtable members to weigh-in with their comments.) 
        The Spark of War ("Chispa di Guera") - Part I of II, telecast by TeleAruba, 2002, compiled/edited by Dufi Kock with video tape provided by Jorge Ridderstaat, Jr.
        The following are "Interviews Regarding the U-156/U-502 Attack, February 16-17, 1942."
            Mooi Franken - Infantry Corporal at The Savaneta Marine Camp.
            "What I heard was a loud explosion and I told my colleagues who were awake, that it must be the Scotch soldiers; most probably they had a celebration and those on shift must be horse-playing. But when I opened the windows I saw a large fire all the way to Savaneta and I said right away that this could not be what I thought it was. I then went to the major on shift and explained to him what I saw. At first he did not believe me, but when he saw the huge flames he told me to take the motorcycle and go take a look because it was in the direction of the Lago Refinery.
            "The attack happened just twelve hours before Aruba was going to test its first blackout. I remember that the headlight on my motorcycle was painted black with only a small opening, the size of a quarter, was left in the middle of the headlight. Upon my return from San Nicolaas I met all the vehicles coming with their unpainted bright headlights making it difficult for me to drive, so I chose to ride along the sides of the road. It was rough riding."
            Alberto Thiel - Government Radio Telegrapher.
            "Alberto says that Captain Werner Hartenstein of U-156 worked at the Lago Powerhouse before the war. He was a German, along with others, who were living and working in Aruba with liberty to move everywhere. Therefore, it was easy for them to cooperate by sending letters and photos to the Nazis. As far as Mr. Hartenstein, he was a very social person who knew many people here (in Aruba); one of his dear friends was Mr. Jacobo ("Cobito") Arends, a doctor in Oranjestad. I heard that he (Hartenstein) had a map of Aruba and had all the strategic areas marked on the map, thus making it very easy for him to navigate to Aruba. It probably was just a hobby for him in the beginning, but at the end it resulted in a great necessity for him. He was familiar with the Lago and Shell refineries in Aruba and the Shell refinery in Curacao. and most probably had frequent contacts with Germans residing in Aruba. He left Aruba just before the war began and went back to Europe. These Germans were well prepared and when the U.S. War Department considered them as risks for sabotage on both islands, many of these potential saboteurs were interned on Bonaire."
        (Ed. Note: I almost did not include Mr. Thiel's narrative in the Newsletter. There is no indication from past history that U-156's Commander Hartenstein ever worked at the Lago Refinery or anywhere else on Aruba. Perhaps Mr. Thiel has his "Hartenstein" character confused with someone else of like name who worked at the Refinery. "Werner" and "Hartenstein" are not uncommon given names and surnames in Germany. Could it be that Mr. Thiel confused his character with a like-named person? Any pre-war information on Commander Hartenstein would be appreciated.)
Vincente Provence - Sailor on Lake Tanker Amazone.
            "We left Curacao heading for Maracaibo with Ramona, a Shell Lake Tanker, to load crude oil. As we were navigating close to Aruba when we saw a flash and thought it was a Lago (refinery) boiler that had just exploded. When the sun came up, we reached between Aruba and Macoya, Venezuela, and found the Gulf tanker Monagas on fire. We immediately approached the tanker in order to pick-up anyone who might have gone overboard. We came across Jose Semeleer in a lifeboat and immediately threw him the pilot's ladder; Mr. Semeleer fortunately grabbed it and we pulled him aboard the Amazone. He told us that they were torpedoed and then we realized that the explosion we had heard earlier was from a torpedo. Not even our captain knew of the situation.
            "We then started to pick more survivors for a total of 37 from the Tia Juana, San Nicolas, and Monagas. We then continued to Maracaibo with all survivors. However, in the meantime a submarine fired a torpedo at our ship, the Ramona, but they missed. Again they fired another torpedo. Fortunately, they missed again. We saw the submarine with its telescope atop the water circling us. Two aircraft arrived in our vicinity (they were Oriols [KLM] in those days), which made the submarine move away from us. Later another aircraft came and we believed it was an American fighter plane because it had a star on it. The aircraft dropped some bombs which scared off the submarine. We then continued our route to Maracaibo with survivors from the three tankers.
            "At 09:35 on May 6, 1942, the unescorted Amazone was hit on the port side by a torpedo by U-333 and sank within two minutes of Miami. Fourteen of Amazone's crew members were lost, 12 from the Dutch Antilles, one Dutch gunner and one Swiss crewman. Survivors of the Amazone were picked-up by the American sub-chaser USS PC-484."
            Karel van Meeteren - Infantry Corporal.
            "The morning after U-156 fired three torpedoes on Texaco tanker Arkansas tied up at the Eagle Pier, one torpedo hit the empty Arkansas with hardly any damage to the ship, one torpedo disappeared into the ocean, and one landed at the Eagle Beach. At a certain moment I was instructed to go patrol along the beach from Savaneta, Balashi, to the Eagle Beach. As we all know the Eagle Refinery was also doing its share in the war. I met a young man by the name off Sloterdijk. When we got to Eagle Pier, Mr. Sloterdijk, whose hands were dirty, decided to go wash them with water from the incoming waves. When he got closer to the water he saw something like a piece of pipe, but did not worry too much because of the numerous pipes from the Eagle Refinery. He then sat on it in order to wash his hands. Suddenly he jumped up and yelled 'Jesus Christ, it's a real torpedo!' We then realized that it was a torpedo and we immediately reported it to the authorities. Immediately it was decided that it must be disarmed. A request was sent to Curacao asking for a Dutch demolition team in order to disarm it."
            Bruno Bremer - Aruban Soldier.
            "I went to the airport to pick-up four Dutch Marines from Curacao. They were Lt. Pieter Joose, Major Dirk Andrianus Cornelis de Maagd, and two other soldiers---Leonardus Kooyman and Johannes Vogelenzang. When I picked them up I told them that we would go to the Savaneta Dutch Marine Camp, but they told me to go to the Eagle Pier instead. We went where one of U-156's three torpedoes had beached near the Eagle Pier. First thing they told me after getting out of the car was to take a picture of the torpedo. One of the officers pulled out a wrench and told me that I could start unscrewing the bolts on the torpedo. I sat down on the torpedo and started to unscrew two bolts, while the Lieutenant started to dress himself with a plastic suit. He then took over continuing to unscrew the bolts. The disarmed piece of the torpedo was tied with a rope to be pulled from the main part of the torpedo. At the same time there was a flatbed truck waiting to do further pulling on the disarmed piece.
            "The Lieutenant said that he was going to put a dynamite stick underneath the torpedo to blow it up. We distanced ourselves about 1000 meters. When he inserted the dynamite, he lit it, and ran to where we were standing. Apparently nothing happened when the dynamite exploded, except sand was going everywhere. Next, the Lieutenant went to get a cable to pull the torpedo apart. The moment that he bent over to hook-up the cable I started to walk toward the truck. All I saw at that moment was a flash of lightening. I didn't know if there were casualties, all I knew was that I was lying in the hospital with bleeding ears.
            "Karl van Meeteren said that the moment the Lieutenant shook the torpedo to take the "disarmed" part off the rest of the torpedo, it exploded. All four members of the Dutch Marine demolition team died on the spot. Bremen and another Aruban, Mr. Kock, who were there at the time, suffered severe problems with their sense of hearing.
            "Mr. Franken said that he had just arrived to tell the Commander that he had to return to Curacao to get more instructions (on the dismantling of the torpedo). I arrived at Eagle's south gate and saw Bremen underneath a pipe and Kock was close to the beach...and then I heard the loud explosion. When the people from Oranjestad saw all the soldiers at the beach quite a few came to see what was going on. Fortunately, they were not allowed to come too close.
            "Mr. Thielman who was at the Dutch Marine Camp said that later they brought the nine-foot long torpedo to the Camp. The torpedo had lots of instructions in German, had thirty-six batteries inside, with firing instructions on it."
            William van Putten - Fireman Aboard The Pedernales.
            "I was on watch in the early morning when the Pedernales got hit by a torpedo. In all the oil and fire we got down a lifeboat. The Captain, Chief Engineer, and a few of the crew, got into the lifeboat when it started to drift without any set course because everything on board the lifeboat got lost in the turmoil. We kept praying for daylight in order to see where we were going. Later we were picked-up."
            George Granger - Sailor Aboard The Hooiberg.
            "Sixty years ago, I was a Lago employee and working on the Lake Tankers bringing raw crude oil from Venezuela to Aruba. I had been doing that since 1937 and when WWII arrived I was working on Lake Tanker Hooiberg. That particular day we got the pilot who was going to guide us into Lake Maracaibo, but we were turned back because we were told that Aruba had been attacked. After a lay-up of four hours we went back to Maracaibo and told that the ship ahead of us had been torpedoed and that many people had lost their lives. I lost a brother and a cousin who died on one of the torpedoed ships in front of the Powerhouse.
His ship was anchored outside awaiting orders to go inside San Nicolaas Harbor because there were no berths available at the time. Nevertheless, from that day of February 16, 1942, I continued as a sailor bringing in crude oil, picking up ships, going to Key West and Guantanamo Bay to bring crude to Aruba. It was a great experience, in the heart of war, and I did not worry too much because we had to fight for our country."      
            (Part II of the "Chispa di Guera" interviews continue in Newsletter #12.)
            Allied and Axis Warships Visit Aruba - Part I, by Vic Lopez.
            "The German pocket battleship Deutchland docked in Oranjestad. The whole Colony went aboard and drank German beer from a bucket. Several high school girls came away with officers' caps. The Deutchland was the sister ship of the disabled Admiral Graf Spee that was blown up by her crew off Montevideo, Uruguay, December 17, 1939. 
            (Ed. Note: The Graf Spee's Captain Hans Langsdorff committed suicide several days after the scuttling of the ship, wrapped in the Imperial German Navy flag with a pistol at his side. I guess in the old days of the Imperial Navy that was the thing to do. There have been recent efforts to raise what (little) remains of the Graf Spee from its shallow graveI believe more information can be obtained regarding the Graf Spee by Roundtable member Warren Norcom, who spent a considerable amount of time in Argentina.)
            "Cruiser USS Omaha visited Aruba in April 1937.
            "The British cruiser HMS Ajax took part in the action of impending doom for the Graf Spee.
            "The newly christened US submarine Pollack visited Aruba July 20 - 23, 1937. Count Felix von Luckner was in port at the same time as the Pollack, with his yacht, and took part in the activities organized for the personnel of the Pollack. (A copy of the organized program for the Pollack is autographed 'Felix Count von Luckner.") The Count was the famous German naval officer of WWI. Gilbert Brooks, Jr. was at the ceremonies and recounts visiting the small Dutch submarine docked alongside." 
            (Part II of Vic's "Allied and Axis Warships Visit Aruba" continue in Newsletter #12.)
            U-156/U-502 Roundtable #5 - Oklahoma City, September 15, 2007.
            Roundtable #5 was held at 9:00 a.m., Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites, with moderator Don Gray presiding. Main speaker was Stan Norcom who spoke on U-156: From The Beginning to Das Ende. Stan spent many hours in preparation for his talk and it was quite evident from the interest shown by the audience. Stan put together a 50-page booklet under the same title. If you are interested in purchasing this well researched, please drop Stan a line at smnorcom.bobbini@att.net
            After a brief delay in getting the power-point computer to work, Stan regaled the audience with his take on U-156, its demise, and the possibility of survivors, which may be a topic for a future Roundtable discussion. Doug Frazier and Warren Norcom are to be complimented in assisting Stan with his presentation---Doug with his substitute computer and Warren with his orchestrating behind-the-scene events. Thanks guys.
            Several news article exhibits for the period February 16, 1942 to March 23, 1942, from The Aruba Post (now defunct) and Time magazine were provided by Dolores Grissom and other members. Ray Burson's When Lago Was Lucky was a sell-out as was Stan's U-156: From The Beginning....If you wish to purchase Ray's booklet, please contact him at rbmo@semo.net 
            I believe it is fair to say that between Stan and Ray's booklets, Bill Hochstuhl's German U-Boat 156 Brought War to Aruba..., and the Aruba Esso News' October 18, 1946 to January 17, 1947 series titled "1939-1945: The War Years at Lago" (also attributed to Bill Hochstuhl), and Dan Jensen's "A Short History of The Lago Oil & Transport Co, Ltd.", that these gentlemen have covered the waterfront for Lago/Aruba WWII events for that period. That is not to say future news articles will not be forthcoming. (The Roundtable already embraces one writer who has authored fourteen books on WWII and is currently working on a Laconia-Hartenstein book.)
            Fourteen people in the audience became new U-156/U-502 Roundtable subscriber-members, bringing our total membership to 119. There has been more e-mail correspondence generated from Roundtable #5 than any other meeting; the 2007 Oklahoma City meeting attendance (40) was second only to the 2006 Aruba Roundtable (#4) which hosted 45 members and guests.
            After a round of questions and much discussion the Roundtable adjourned at approximately 10:45 a.m.
            (Roundtable #6 is scheduled to meet during the June 2009, Aruba-Lago island Reunion.)
            Book Review by your Editor - The Lago Colony Legend, Vol. III, by Vic Lopez.
            Well folks, Vic has done it again. Another volume, and if possible, just as good as the first two volumes, if not better. Only this time Vic has added many photographs, the layouts bring attention to the reader, with interesting biographical stories that you can associate with and grab your attention. Have to admit, libro numero tres is the best yet! The clarity of the photos in Vol. III is exceptional.
            What Vic has done is provide a biographical sketch of expatriate life on a tropical isle between the 1920's and 1970's. Vic Lopez's The Lago Legend---Our Stories series joins Ginger Bassett's Aruba Chronicle, Bob Schlageter's Pan Aruban, the Aruba Esso News' special series on WWII, the Aruba Post, Larry Riggs' Lago Bulletin Board newsletter, Dan Jensen's Lago Colony web site, Johan Hartog's Aruba--Past and Present, Bill Hochstuhl's German U-Boat 156 Brought War to Aruba, Ships of The Esso Fleet in WWII by Standard Oil Co. (N.J.), and Jorge Ridderstaat Jr.'s forthcoming book,The Lago Story, are the pieces d' resistance when it comes to telling the whole story of life on a barren little island in the Caribbean.
            Now that you have "gotten the hang of it" Vic, there has to be a Vol. IV in the works. You can't stop now. You're on a roll. Just keep digging deeper into you dad's voluminous Lago/Aruba photographic and biographical files.      
            The Lago Colony Legend series is a real contribution toward telling the Lago story. I strongly recommend adding it to your library.
            Help! I Need Help! Does Anyone Remember?
            Question #1: Does anyone know the location of The Bund's meeting place/building? San Nicolaas? Oranjestad?
            I believe I've asked this question before, but here goes anyway: The Bund movement. It was cited in Newsletter #10, pg6. The Bund movement consisted of individuals showing allegiance to Nazi Germany. In and around New York City during the early 1930's it was very active. From Vic Lopez's The Lago Legend, Vol. II, Jim Lopez states "We heard about the building where the Bund held its meetings. It was decorated with the German flag and had pictures of Hitler and other Nazi leaders."
            Question #2: Am I the only one who remembers anti-aircraft pom-pom guns (no, not the boom! boom! cannons atop Colorado Point) mounted on the southeast side of the coral cliffs facing the 4th Lagoon? (.50 caliber bore anti-aircraft pom-pom guns were used by the U.S. Navy on their ships against Japanese aircraft in the Pacific during WWII.) 
            In 1945, Donald Cahill and I use to scout Colorado Point on the 4th Lagoon side looking for spent artillery and cartridge shells. I distinctly remember two sets of pom-pom guns in that location.  
            Question #3: Does anyone remember the story of a German collaborator being caught with a radio transmitter in the trunk of his car at Colorado Point?                  
            Question #4: The ammunition cache in the coral cliff (it's still there) opposite the Picnic Grounds. Does anyone remember seeing ammunition being stored there during the war? And what is the "hole/tunnel/space in the cliff" being used for today, if anything?
            What's in The Future Mix?
            Topics to be covered in future Newsletters:
              1.)  More information on the French mystery super-submarine Scouf is forthcoming. In Newsletter #8 Bill Moyer reported on the Scouf and in Newsletter #9 Jerry Casius also reported on the Scouf. The Scouf sank under mysterious circumstances on February 14, 1942, or two days prior to U-156's attack against Lago/Aruba. Jurgen von Rosenstiel of U-502 reported sinking seven tankers in the area whichScouf was located at the time; only six of the tankers, however, have been accounted for. There is the possibility that Scouf was the unidentified "seventh" sinking, although that has never been confirmed. At the time of Scouf's sinking it was 32 nautical miles southwest of Aruba and 5 nautical miles from Venezuela's lighthouse at Peninsula de Paraguana.
            Harry Cooper, Editor and Founder of Sharkhunters ("The Official History Publication of the U-Bootwaffen") about a year ago forwarded an article written by Dennis Stocks for Harry's Sharkunters journal (KTB# 123) regarding the Scouf. From Harry's letter of February 19, 2007: "(One of our members) reported that U-502's Jurgen von Rosenstiel claimed sinking a certain number of ships on his Caribbean patrol...(All) of these sinking were confirmed but one, and...von Rosenstiel described the unaccounted sinking as a small tanker...(D)ue to her shape, Scouf could easily have been (mistaken) for a small tanker through the submarine's periscope. And so, it's possible that U-502 sent this French giant to the bottom. This will be a tough one to solve." 
            More recently, an article in Harry's journal KTB# 204, November 2007, titled "The Incredible Scouf" by Raul Colon, tends to lend more mystery to the French super submarine and its questionable allegiance to Vichy France? the Free French?
            Sorry that I have droned on so, but I need Harry's permission to quote from his recent KTB (#204) before doing a follow-up article on the Scouf. The Scouf is a story that keeps on "giving".             
              2.) We'll learn more about the night/early morning attack of February 16, 1942 from Dufi Kock's "The Spark of War" aka "Chispa di Guera" interviews. 
              3.) Vic Lopez will regal us with more shards and barbs from his "Allied & Axis Warships Visit Aruba".              
              4.) Review of Ray Burson's When Lago Was Lucky. (I've been remiss in not reviewing Ray's booklet before now. Bear with me, Ray.)
              5.) Review of Stan Norcom's booklet U-156: From The Beginning to Das Ende.
              6.) "Varied and Informal Methods/Classifications In Reporting History", by your Editor. You may agree with me on this one....then again, you may not.
              7.) Special Newsletter---"Spain's False Neutrality During WWII", by your Editor. This is going to take some time and effort, so hang loose and don't expect it tomorrow.               
              8.) Wall Street and The Rise of Hitler, by Anthony C. Sutton. On target correspondence between Stan Norcom, Warren Norcom, and other Roundtable members regarding the subject.
              9.) Bill Moyers and Jerry Casius' translations of U-156's log between late 1941 and early 1942. 
             10.) What's a "wonker"? (I thought you'd never ask.) 
            And in Closing...
            Newsletter #12 should be in the mail by mid-August, 2008.
            If you know someone who'd like to join our merry band of Roundtable member/subscribers, please drop me an e-mail and we'll welcome them aboard.
            If for some reason you, as a member of the Roundtable and subscriber to the Newsletter, find you did not receive the current issue, please notify me and we'll zing you a copy asap.
            If you change your e-mail address, please notify me as soon as possible. We do not want, nor like to, lose loyal subscribers.
            Correspondence---The Newsletter, literally speaking, lives for your correspondence. If you have a story to tell, or know of someone who could add interest to our collection of events, please, please, drop us a line. We appreciate and look forward to all correspondence---whether it's positive or negative. If it's negative I can take it. I might cry a little, but I'll get over it.
            Let's not forget Dan Jensen's web site (www.lago-colony.com) for information A to Z on Lago and the postings of prior U-156/U-502 Roundtable Newsletters; and, Larry Riggs' Lago Bulletin Board for the latest Aruba news.
            And finally, if I've been remiss and not thanked you before now, thank you Dufi Kock, Stan Norcom, Doug Frazier, Guy Goodboe, Vic Lopez, Dan Jensen, and Vicki Markle, for the DVDs and CDs which you've sent regarding Lago of yore, Aruba photos before the arrival of turistas, Aruba during WWII, and other topics of interest to readers of the U-156/U-502 Roundtable Newsletter. We couldn't have put together a Roundtable or a Newsletter devoted to telling the history of wartime Aruba without you. 
            Thank you.
            Until next time...
            Your man in the trenches....and Davy Jones' Locker.
            Don D. Gray, Moderator/Editor
            U-156/U-502 Roundtable & Newsletter
            Copyright 2008 by Don D. Gray.
            All rights reserved.