View Full Version : June: Honour among thieves

10-22-2018, 15:03
Johan af Puke sat in a tavern in the less reputable parts of København clad in ragged civilian clothes. He looked into the old man's eyes. They were pale with age but still active and sharp. Having decided that the man had told the truth, it matching the rumors he had heard, he put the small bag filled with coins he had been dangling in his hand on the table, and stood up. The old man smiled showing his three remaining teeth. As Johan was leaving a rough looking brute of a man stepped into his way and with his hand on a big knife in his belt he said. "Her vil plikten blive betalt for svenskere." Two large men joined Johan at his sides at the same time as a woman put a pistol in the small of the Dane's back and cocked it. She leaned to his ear and wispered "Har du int' hört? Tullarna har lyfts." in her Finnish dialect of Swedish. The troublemaker held out his empty hands, backed to the side and sat down at a nearby table. The pistol disappeared. They all left the tavern followed by yet another member of the crew that had been lurking in a far corner.


Once outside of the tavern the 20 inch long pistol appeared in Brita's hands and she carefully returned the cock to half-cocked before making it disappear into her skirts again. They walked down the street lead by Johan who was soon joined by another civilian looking very much like his premiärlöjtnant. "Han sade samma sak. Det är bekräftat. Men han fyllde i några viktiga detaljer... Vi har platsen!" Johan told him, declaring that they now knew where to go.


HMS Venus, a frigate of 40 guns, was laying for anchor quite far away from the other ships in the harbour of København. Back on board his ship Johan commanded "Förbered avfärd." Many onboard were very releived to set sail, Sweden and Denmark-Norway was formally at war, Denmark having had a treaty with Russia to support them in case of war. But at the threat of Britain and Prussia invading Holstein, Denmark-Norway had been forced to declare itself neutral. Still, having been warring neighbours for centuries no one trusted much in the old enemy's neutrality. Even the fortifications defending the harbour was named after a Swedish flagship that the Danes had captured, brought back and then scuttled to build an earlier defence on top of, Trekroner. It had been rebuilt into a large heavily armed fortification that they now sailed passed.


Johan continued on to his cabin to change clothes. He was soon back on the quarterdeck and had a discussion with the ansvarsstyrman about the quickest way to get to the meeting place of the pirates that was now located. It was a strangely shaped island inhabited bu nothing else but gulls used as a meeting place by both pirates and Danish privateers in Russian service. Any time a larger frigate, like HMS Venus, was sighted they all were neutral Danes, but now Johan would put an end to that. Not only had the Danish authorities declared the ship Rød Hævn to be a pirate, but even agreed that any nation, including Sweden, could attempt to capture her if she could be found, albeight unwillingly.

10-22-2018, 15:04
HMS Venus was close hauled as she approached the island from south-west. The lookout reported a small ship, probably not bigger than a corvette, on the starboard bow. She looked to be on course to the island too and made no sign of noticing HMS Venus or reacting to her precence. The lookout called out "Land i sikte!" It was the strange rock called Måsön that jutted out of the water in an area where most island were not much more than sand banks. Looking at the island in his looking glass Johan saw that almost hidden against the rock was a ship. It had taken in all sails and almost appeared to be abandoned.


Johan suspected that if the pirates would try to run they would head north-west towards Denmark. That would be where they could know of bays and coves to disappear in or where it would be too shallow waters for him to follow. He ordered full sails and a course as close to north as could be set. Studying the pirate ship he could see activity on her, but not any details of what they were doing.

Soon enough it was apparent that they were setting sails. Johan hoped to try and cut them off, forcing the pirates to fight him even though he had the heavier ship and they were faster. He noted that there was a third ship closing in from north-east. It hoisted a signal but he couldn't make out any answer from Rød Hævn. He started to calculate numbers of guns and guessing weight of broadsides if they all would be pirates ganging up on him.


Johan saw that the corvette hoisted a signal and this time he could see an answer being hoisted on Rød Hævn. There was no way of knowing what they meant. He had to just see how it would turn out. "Fall av två streck!" Johan ordered and HMS Venus fell off a little.


Johan gave the order, "Fortsätt styrbord gir!", continuing the turn and closing in on the pirate when suddenly cannonballs struck the pirate ship quickly followed by the thundering of a broadside.


The damage to the small frigate was extensive and from what Johan could see before the smoke from the broadside came from behind the island, there were a lot of casualties.


Venus tightened its turn lining up the larboard broadside with the pirate, and fired it. Not only did the pirate answer the the broadside with the aft most guns, but the corvette showed what side it choose by also firing a few of the fore most guns.


The pirate ship took even more damage to the hull and from the smoke and confusion that could be seen on deck they were hit hard. Their return fire wasn't very effective, but the light cannons of the corvette hit home very true and caused surprisingly much damage.


"Roder dikt babord. Redo att stånga av!" as HMS Venus put her rudder hard over she and the corvette headed straight for Venus. The two ships met each other very close together without touching. Brita's voice was heard shouting "Lägg an! Fyr!" followed by the båtsmen firing their muskets.



The musket fire and at that close range even a few pistols took hit their targets and both ships had many wounded, but the superior amount of trained soldiers showed. The dead and wounded were stacking up on the corvette.


As the meeting ships parted Johan caught the name of the corvette, Hvide Ørn. He ordered "Redo styrbord broadside!" and the still turning Venus came into the wind loosing speed but still lined up to rake Rød Hævn he ordered "Öppna elden, följt av babord bredsida så snart som går!". The starboard broadside roared out closely followed by a few guns on the aft most guns larboard guns.


The stern rake broke all the windows of the gallery and the cannon balls flew along the upper deck, turning over guns and killing and wounding many of the gun crews. The Hvide Ørn also took much beating and Johan was sure he saw her being holed below the waterline. The return fire struck the hull and still the small guns that Johan suspected to not be heavier than his quarterdeck guns of 6 skålpund.


HMS Venus fell off and Johan ordered "Roder fullt styrbord!" as the guns were being reloaded. Looking back Johan saw Hvide Ørn being taken back, but the sound of the main mast collapsing on the pirate ship called for his attention. Rød Hævn lost all of her main mast.


Rød Hævn turned starboard and fired the aft most guns of the starboard broadside.


The angle was to sharp and the broadside whipped up the sea aft of Venus.


Rød Hævn held the hard starboard turn while HMS Venus eased the starboard turn allowing Venus to catch the pirate ship with the starboard broadside.


At the very close range the 24 skålpunds guns had a massive effect. The bulwarks shattered sending massive storms of splinters over the crew. The broadside was followed by massive musket fire by the båtsmen. Hvide Ørn's guns took their toll on the formation of båtsmen firing, but Rød Hævn hauled down their colours withe the hulls in shambles, the crew decimated and two masts lost.


Johan ordered "Dikt babord!" and as the frigate turned he added "Avfyra så snart kanonerna bär!"


The broadside was high. The wind had caught Venus as she turned and the cannon balls that hit made holes in the sails and hit the top of the hull, while most passed harmlessly over head.


Hvide Ørn fell off as Venus bore up as the two ships turned to meet each other.


Venus continued the larboard turn into the wind while the guns were being run out. The broadside of Hvide Ørn was ready. With the wind catching the sails from straight fore Venus almost came to a full stop. Johan told ansvarsstyrman, "Roder midskepps." The two ships met, both realising the difference in size. Size of the ships. The size of the guns. Johan took off his hat and looked with respect at the approaching corvette. He muttered "De har mod. Det ger jag dem." before ordering "Fyr!" and as the broadside was fired, cannon balls from the small ship hit the railing and rigging came loose.


The broadside from HMS Venus had been well aimed. It hit low causing several holes below the waterline. The small ship took on water. Johan knew they were doomed.


As Venus fell off to larboard and backed her sails, crew were already in the boats prepared to pick up survivors from the sinking ship. There weren't as many as Johan had expected. Perhaps the battle had taken its toll, but Johan suspected that many simply preferred to drown rather than being taken back to Denmark to be hanged as pirates.

When Johan took possession of Rød Hævn he saw the destruction onboard. There weren't any unharmed men to be seen and Johan's carpenter took just one look at the ship to say that she would never be taken into the service, the damage being too extensive to be repaired. As Johan stood on the deck of Rød Hævn the other frigate who had fired a broadside passed by closely as to inspect the result of the action. Johan could see the captain stand on the quarterdeck with a stern look on his face as the frigate Højenhald passed and sailed away. Johan suspected that it had been sent by the Danish-Norweigan navy to oversee the action and to show that it wouldn't tolerate any ship not adhering to the ceasefire.

Johan had felt a sadness come over him as they towed the almost wrecked hull of Rød Hævn towards Denmark. He couldn't say why. Perhaps it was knowing that the crew would be hanged. Perhaps it was that the prize was going to be turned over to the old enemy. Perhaps it was that many of the pirates had been Danish-Norwegian navy sailors that had chosen money over honour. Perhaps he just was tired.

10-29-2018, 16:34

10-29-2018, 18:00
And another cracking yarn passes into the annals of Sweden's military history.
Thank you Captain Johan af Puke.


10-30-2018, 03:15
Thank you Bligh.

It's quite fun to put his story into the historical setting.

10-30-2018, 03:46
Well I am certainly enjoying every minute of it Jonas.

I only hope that a few other shipmates are. We don't seem to get many comments about the AAR's, unlike the ones on the Drome. Maybe those sailors who plough the main are more conservative in their praise, than their arial counterparts of a century later.

10-30-2018, 05:24
I could guess at perhaps the way of putting up the posts first and then adding the story and pictures makes people see the post and be disappointed and then not bother when it's finished?

10-30-2018, 06:29
Could be a lot in what you say Jonas.
I have noticed that when I put up a preamble, and then do the AAR a day or so later, Sometimes nobody looks at it at all.

Capn Duff
10-31-2018, 04:06
Another excellent story and action Jonas, highly enjoyable

10-31-2018, 07:03
Thank you Chris!

At least someone found it other than Bligh. :beer:

10-31-2018, 15:09