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the Secret Island!
We now head to shore aboard the Brazilian Navy chopper to this island that had been a possession of Brazil for centuries. They maintained a small garrison here mainly to show possession of the island and 200 miles of fishing in all directions.
In 1938 however, they pulled their people from the island and within one week, a small German fleet arrived. This fleet included the catapult ship SCHWABENLAND which later continued onward to Antarctica.......but that is another story.
Here on Trindade, the Germans occupied the facilities vacated by the Brazilians and they built two 80 meter tall (about 260 feet) radio towers. In 1941, the German group departed the island and the Brazilians returned then a couple months after the end of World War Two, the Brazilian Navy removed their people and a German contingent arrived in late June 1945. We saw a memorial marker to a German sailor who was killed in an accident on the island in July 1945! The Germans were there to watch over the herds of pigs, flocks of goats and sea turtles. These, along with the very abundant fresh water supply on the island, served to replenish the 'Black Boats', sailing ships and tramp steamers making the run from Villa Garcia, Spain (and other places) to their safe havens for escaping people from the Third Reich - safe in South America.
We know that the Kriegsmarine kept
ships in the harbor at Vigo just south of Villa Garcia during the war,
to resupply U-Boats with just about anything they needed to remain on
Here is where the vast majority of
the German 'Black ops' took place, in the little cove known as Calleta
de los Loros (Parrot Cove) in Golfo San Mathias (St. Mathew's Gulf).
German spy headquarters for much of South America was in the Lahusen
Wool Company in the little town of San Antonio Oeste and agents could
make their way to anywhere in South America from here. The same
can be said for people escaping the ruins and retribution of a crumbled
Europe. Click on these photos to learn what is in our two
exclusive books on this subject.
|The Navy of Brazil is a large,
professional and competent navy.
Here we watch as the ship comes to life, ready to launch the helo.
Everyone is getting briefed.
We are learning helo procedures.
The island looks forbidding - it is indeed rough!
COOPER in his "Martian attack" gear.
COOPER is in the second wave of chopper deliveries to shore, and here is what we find.
|We said this was a rugged place.....||....an overview of the island; 2.5
1.5 miles wide and 3,000 at the top!
|At the HQ compound - our ship offshore||One of two beaches where Germans landed in 1938|
|Extremely rugged, but majestic.||The view from our HQ looking north.|
|If you look very close, you'll see
the cross for the northern of
the two cemeteries on the island. They were both washed
away during violent storms years ago. This is merely to
mark their locations and their memories.
|The small boat is towing the 'female
donkey', which is what
the crew called this 'sled' that has the diesel drums on it.
These are used to power the generator to provide the
electricity for the tiny compound.
|Above and below - foundation for a new structure.||Below - our faithful ship still on patrol.|
|This is where we must go this morning!||It doesn't appear so far from the compound.....|
|After we cross this meadow;
After we cross this ridge;
After we climb this mountain......
|Look very closely at the center of
this photo - note the tall white monument there? It is a LONG way away yet and our line of march
(in red) takes us right past it.
So far, we have traveled from the red "X" (our HQ)
along the red
line. It doesn't look like much, but it is rugged going.
Above - did we mention that the trail is not really smooth? Sturdy
hiking boots are an absolute necessity to avoid injuries.
We now look to the yellow line on the chart below,
corresponds to the red line on the photo next to it (left) and
we begin our steep ascent over the next ridgeline.
Above left - now that we have reached and
passed the monument, we continue upward, ever upward and the red marks our
intended path up the high ridge and around that mountain..........where the
Germans built one of their radio towers in 1938, but it a LONG way
If we thought the going was tough so far - and it WAS - it gets a bunch tougher now.
|The yellow line is our proposed
line of march now and if you
look closely - REALLY closely - you will see a white cross.
|We depart the grotto, down that
mountain and as you
see by our line of march, up another ridge.
|When we top that ridge, this is
what we see below - FAR below,
and we have to go down to this area where many seabirds are
nesting in the surrounding cliffs. They do not like the intruders
and make a hell of a racket!
|This is where we came over the
ridge and while it does not
look very steep, coming back was even tougher!
|After a short rest, taking photos
and watching the crabs scuttling
about as thousands of angry birds swooped overhead, it was
time to continue our march to the end of the island.
The blue line on the chart indicates where we are headed next.....
.....and the trail doesn't get any easier!
|Our group leader was one tough guy!||He was a Brazilian Navy SEAL!|
|COOPER wanted to get to AND into this tunnel, as we see here prior to World War Two and during this expedition in 2009.|
Unfortunately, this is the closest they were able to get to
the tunnel due to exceptionally high tides. BUMMER!
We are about to head back off the beach for
our return to HQ - and we climb THAT sand hill.
The sand hill got so steep behind that rock outcropping there was a permanently affixed one inch thick hawser attached at the top of the hill and we had to literally drag ourselves up the last 100 meters. This is a beautiful island - but REALLY RUGGED!
|The group stopped at a tidal pool
for some relaxation. Note that
the Brazilian Sailors (girls included) wore regulation blue
underwear into this pool like swimwear.
|COOPER did not join the
guess he did not have regulation blue underwear!
|COOPER began to wonder why
this naval officer stayed so close
to him - then he learned that this is the navy doctor on the island
and they told him to stay close to the old guy (COOPER) in case
he needed any medical help! Comforting - I guess......
|The sun is setting as we begin to
make out way - our LONG,
LONG way back to the headquarters compound.
|On the march toward the compound.
The path marked with the
arrow is about 200 feet below the ridge on which we are standing.
|Our group on the return march (COOPER
in yellow shirt). We have
come from far beyond where the red "X" is, along that shoreline,
behind that hill, over that ridge to where we are standing.....and we
are only about 1/3 of the way back to the HQ compound.
A hot meal, how shower and soft bed was most welcome this night!
Yesterday's expedition took us to the southeastern tip of the island. Today we march north.
|This is in the headquarters
compound, commemorating the return of
the Brazilian Navy to the island after the departure of the Germans.
|The remains of a shipwreck.
No, not a victim of the U-Boats or
of any war. We are told that this was a Chinese merchant ship
some years after the war. The crew mutinied because of terrible
food, killed the cook, seized the ship and grounded it here where
they asked for asylum. Apparently being the cook on a Chinese
ship can be a rather dangerous job.
|The land rises quickly here.
We are only a couple hundred yards in
from the beach and already a few hundred feet high.
This is the meadow before the next rise.....
....and here is the next climb above COOPER.
This part of the expedition takes place only
about a half mile to the northwest of the headquarters compound, in the
direction of the ridge with the white cross on it.........and the ridge where
the German radio facility was built in 1938. We will see that shortly.
The following morning..........
Off to the ridge where the radio station was built in 1939 but first, a shower and breakfast.....
|This was a clever shower and hot
water device. There was no
central water heater; the water was heated as it passed through
the shower head. I quickly learned NOT to try to adjust the water
while it was running; I learned that this was not installed by an
electrician! Got one hell of a tingle when I touched the adjuster!
|Breakfast, like all the meals on
the island, was excellent. One
develops a hearty appetite on this island, where a short walk
usually means going up and down very tall ridges.
|COOPER sets out on his own
trek to the NW of the HQ.
The red "X" is the HQ compound far below.
|At this point, we are on the ridge
above the white cross that commemorates the location of the former
cemetery. The "X"
on the photo below shows where we were standing when
this photo was taken.
Our line of march up this ridge from the beach far below.
|Those are sheds and 55 gallon fuel drums far below. This photo will give the viewer an idea just how far we are above the beach.||The two meter tall cross appears
quite small as we are quite a
distance. This was shot from the front deck of the HQ compound.
The red line indicates the ridge on which the Kriegsmarine built their northern radio tower - we will return to this ridge lateron.
|The sun is setting on our very
busy day, and we look to the
southwest. We must go in that direction, over all those ridges,
into the valleys, through the sand areas to the place of the site
of the southern German radio facility.
|But now it is time for another
pleasant meal, watching TV (I think
I must learn Portuguese) then a good night sleep. If you look
out the window, you will note that it is very dark. Night is upon us.
Morning arrives quickly, and with the Brazilian Navy SEAL leading the way, COOPER heads for the southeast corner of the island - to the high point where one of the two radio shacks and antennae were built.
The RED "X" is the headquarters compound and the BLUE "X" marks the peak. It is very high and from there, commands unlimited radio transmissions in approximately 240º. Oh yes, we had to walk all that way again, over the ridges, into the valleys, across beaches and more. We drank a whole lot of water - and what did we find on this very remote peak? Individual descriptions are not necessary, but look how high this site was. That small item far below in the water is an LST, nearly 700 feet long. Looks small from up here.
|COOPER is a normal sized
guy, about 5' 10" so we can see
the small size of this facility. Musta, been cramped!
|The red shows our line of march
over that ridge, which
was already a very long way from camp.
|My guide is standing next to the
remains of the base of the antenna
tower which has long since disappeared in rust.
When we reached the Headquarters compound, we ate a hearty dinner. The Brazilian Navy sure took great care of me aboard ship and on the island. Again - OBRIGADO!
|It was necessary to have a good
meal and a solid night's sleep
today, because tomorrow we go to the site of the larger radio
station to the northwest of the Headquarters compound.
This is an official Third Reich photo of the place taken in
March 1939. What is left? Hike along with us and see.
Okay, we had another great breakfast - now we go to the site of the second radio station to the northwest of the Headquarters base camp.
|We are halfway up the slope to the
ridge (photo right) where the
radio station was located. Seven decades of harsh weather
has changed its face a bit, but the ridge is easily seen.
|We are finally atop the ridge,
standing right where the radio station
had been, and looking down at the valley from where we began our climb an hour before.
From atop this ridge looking southwest, it is easy to see that anything
up here commanded a view of everything. Great place for a radio tower.
In conclusion - with all this history, with these facts and on-site photographs, no one can possibly dispute that the Third Reich had a strong presence here. There are fresh water springs, streams and ponds all over the island from which ships, submarines, sailing ships etc. could stop for reprovissioning. Add to that, the large herds of goats and pigs and the local population of sea turtles and this small island in the middle of nowhere becomes a veritable ship's store of necessary staples.
As we have covered thoroughly in various issues of our monthly KTB Magazine, Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Garbers had visited the remote coves along the Argentine and Brazilian coasts all through the war with his 'Black Boat', the yawl listed in secret records as KFK-203 but better known as the yawl MARY.
Once again - Sharkhunters says a huge "OBRIGADO!"
to the Navy of Brazil for all their cooperation and assistance, without which
this operation would not have been possible.
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