Re: New article re: "The Sea Wolves"
Date: December 03, 2010 07:33AM

I am researching the events surrounding the sinking of Axis ships in Goa Harbour in 1943. My mother-in-law wrote with first hand knowledge of the event as she was in a position to know the facts. Lt Col Claude Bremner (my father in law) was the British Consul at the time and was intimately involved in the matter. Anne Bremner, his wife described the book on which the film was based as "A fictional story by James Leasor. Very Fictional." She was the one who encoded correspondence from the Consulate and knew the details of all events in the area.

She wrote
"There were three German ships and on Italian ship refuging in the Bay of Marmugao.

Erenfels German Hansa Line 7,752 tons
Drachenfels German Hansa Line 6,342 tons
Braunfels German Hansa Line 7,847 tons
Anfora Lloyd Tristina 5,452 tons

These ships at the beginning of the war were in the Far East. They obtained permission from the Portuguese Government to refuge in the harbour. It was said that the Captains thought the war would be over in a matter of months. The Italian ship was the last to arrive.
The Erenfels was a new ship. According to here say, it was the blue print for the Pocket Battle Ships. The Braunfels was very old.
The Captain of the Anfora was the most Fasist minded.
The head of the Gestapo was a steward, called Marks. A tall thin man, with a long nose. It was rumoured that he was responsible for the death of several Goans.

The Germans had radio equipment, to radio out messages and to receive them. They were able to transmit the names of allied shipping arriving in Bombay or going out. Their receiving equipment was on the Erenfels. To transmit to a submarine they had a vehicle that they were able to drive about in. The Portuguese were unable to do anything about it except to protest, which they did regularly.

About the sinking of the ships, I was sworn to secrecy. I have never told anyone, although questioned by American and British journalists. Therefore I was surprised in 1978, I saw a "Sunday Express" poster telling about the sinking of the ships in Goa, a fictitional story by James Leasor, Very Fictitional.

My husband was ordered to Bombay. We were delighted to be given unexpected leave. A few days after we arrived, "The Times of India" and "The Statesman" showed pictures of the ships on fire and sinking. I remember feeling cross and resentful that this should happen when we were away. I learned later that it was on purpose that we were sent to Bombay, so as not to be in Goa when it happened.

While in the Bombay Yacht Club, after lunch, there was a crowd of men sitting, drinking and laughing and talking about Goa.
I was alone. I went up to them and said, "Why are you talking about Goa?"
"Oh", they replied, "We've just been there."
I explained who I was and my husband's job, whereupon they asked me to join them. They were from Calcutta. The Calcutta Light Horse and the Territorial Commandos. In the ordinary life they were business men.

In an old ship they had come to Goa. In the evening, they boarded Erenfels, which immediately sent out loud hootings. Braunfels and Drachenfels thought that Erenfels was telling them to scuttle themselves. Whereupon Anfora did the same. Erenfels seeing and hearing the noise and confusion thought that the other ships were also being attacked, so pulled out the plugs and also scuttled herself.

Marks, the Gestapo man was killed. Two sailors begged to be made prisoners. All the sailors were imprisoned when they landed by the Portuguese and stayed there until we left."

In regards to the "spy" Anne Bremner wrote
"Herman Koch's wife was unwell. he wrote to the Red Cross asking if he could take her to British India, to a prisoner of war camp.
One day two men came and lunched with us (at the British Consulate. They said they were staying at a hotel in town. Next day the Kochs had gone, so had the two Englishmen. At the Frontier, the book was signed by Mr and Mrs Cook. Journalist.
The (Goan) police charged into the Consulate. Turned everything upside down. The other German Moelher had known nothing about the (Red Cross) letter. He was furious and vowed vengeance."

As a result of the incident which Leasor made part of the sinking saga, Claude Bremner and his wife were sent to Belgaum "to be armed", how to use a tommy gun and to be given a pistol each. They were provided with non-military guards as serving soldiers would have violated the neutrality of Goa.

Perhaps the stoy of the sinking of the ships in Goa Harbour needs a little more research to establish fact from fiction.

Dr Ian Bremner-Macdonald, PhD

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