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Thread: October: Aya eye spy

  1. #1
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    Default October: Aya eye spy

    Johan af Puke had received his orders at the Admiralty in Karlskrona, the main base of the Högsjöflottan as the deep seas navy was called. When Vice Admiral Nordenskjöld told him to sail for the Mediterranean to attack the Barbary Coast, Johan could feel there was something he didn't say. Besides, why care about pirates far away in the middle of a war that wasn't even going that well? Johan were to stop at Göteborg to take on further provisions and additional orders and then to proceed to Bruxelle where he was to get the latest news, assess the situation and write a short report on the Brabant revolution in the Oostenrijkse Nederlanden. His knowledge in Dutch and past service in the Dutch Navy would be helpful in this regard. It wasn't unusual for naval officers to have served in other navies. After Johan had left Skeppsgossekåren in Karlskrona he had served in not only the Dutch Navy but also the British and French.



    All the supplies had been stored and Johan was impatiently waiting for his orders so he could catch the tide. There were parts of the Göteborg archipelago that could be tricky to navigate if he waited much longer and he would have to delay the departure further. Standing on the quarterdeck looking at the harbour, just a cable length away, he could see a horse galloping through the crowds. Raising his looking glass to his eye he could see a young man dressed in the distinct court dress of his Majesty Gustav III reining in his horse next to a small boat and almost falling out of the saddle started discussing something with the rower and pointed right at Johan.

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    Last edited by TexaS; 10-24-2018 at 14:49.

  2. #2
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    Sitting in the great cabin of HMS Venus Johan looked out of the windows. The clear sky was still reddish purple from the setting sun and the reflection of the lights of Bruxelle danced in the wake of the ship. It was time to open his secret orders that had been delivered in the nick of time when leaving Göteborg. He opened the waxed heavy bag with a knife and poured out a sealed letter and a few musket balls. It had his name "Johan af Puke" written on it and the large seal had two lions holding the Coat of Arms of Sweden. It was the Royal seal of His Royal Majesty. He chuckled a little thinking to himself that keeping the letter and framing it would give him some use for the country house he had been given. He carefully loosened the seal from the paper to open it. Examining the letter Johan realised that it had most likely been written by His Majesty's own hand. Reading it he found it to be orders to go to Dunkerque and at a place specified, there wait for a small party of about ten people with two children. They would be recognised by being foreigners accompanied by a Swedish noble but even if he wasn't with them they should be brought onboard. There was a pass phrase, too. He should then at all costs bring them back to Sweden and Göteborg with utmost haste, avoiding all other vessels when doing so.
    Last edited by TexaS; 10-24-2018 at 14:54.

  3. #3
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    Ansvarsstyrman knocked on the door. He notified Johan that they were soon coming up on the position Johan had marked on the map, the meeting place he had been directed to. Dunkerque was a place known for it's privateers of old, like Jean Bart and even the Swedish privateer Lars Gathenhielm and his wife Ingela Hammar was known to have sold their spoils of war there. Rumours told of many smuggling coves close by. They were just arriving at one as Johan got up on deck. He studied the coast closely, found what he was looking for, an old abandoned fort on a small Island, and said, "Se på fan! Där är den gamla smuggelgömman. En gång i tiden ett skydd för Dunkerquers. Då ska vi se vad den gömmer för oss."

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    The ship's cutter had been drawn up on the beach of the small island. The stone fort, built in the 1670s hadn't been demolished as most other fortifications after the Treaty of Utrecht, but surely hadn't seen any maintenance since then. Johan inspected the old guns still there. None had been spiked. If some of the carriages were repaired most could be fired. He thought that he would have to tell the crews to stand back from the guns while firing if they had to be used. He continued to a center house with a caved in roof. It had a great view of both the coast and the sea and had a flag pole near by. Johan sat down at an old wooden table and started packing his long chalk pipe. Working his tinderbox to light it he noted carved scribblings in the table, and especially one where "L G" had a sun above and with a little imagination a lion pampant below. It had to be Gathenhielm's. He took out a small knife and carved his own initials near it. "J P". After some thought he added a small "af" in between.

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    Johan stood on the deck of HMS Venus. It had been three days since he first arrived. A landing party had been sent to the fort manning the guns that had been repaired by the carpenter. Another party, mostly made up of båtsmän, had been sent to the coast to wait for the small group of people they were to pick up. These had been changed every other watch to avoid having to build a camp and proper defences on the beach. The lookout had seen a small brig pass by a few hours earlier. Someone knew where they were. Johan did not like being stuck close to the coast like this. The shifting winds had made him order two spring anchors to be used. When the bell rang out the end of the last dog Watch, he could not wait any longer but ordered the shore party to be exchanged for the night. Johan watched as the boat reached land and returned. Just before the men came aboard he went below deck. He sat down to a quick dinner alone in the great cabin, going to bed early.

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    Last edited by TexaS; 11-01-2018 at 15:20.

  4. #4
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    Johan was awake when the skeppsgosse came to wake him up. He was dressed and on deck in less than a minute. It was dawn and the premiärlöjtnant informed him of two frigates that had been sighted, converging on the island and Venus. Realizing that the ships may have been sent to attack the ship to prevent the pick up, he ordered "Klart skepp till drabbning, men se till att mannarna äter frukost innan vi släcker köket." The men were piped to breakfast and the ship was cleared for action, inner walls taken down, valuables taken into the hold, charges being prepared, and an operating place set up in the forepeak. When asked about raising the anchors he only replied "Låt ankarna ligga. Vi afvaktar här tills landstyrkan äro tillbaka."

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    Johan ordered a skeppsgosse to keep an eye on the beach and let him know as soon as the landing party signalled anything. "Inget nytt!" he said as if he had expected something to happen as soon as he was assigned.

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    The two French frigates turned the closer to line up its broadside and the other towards HMS Venus, showing clearly that HMS Venus was their target. Johan ordered the guns to be run out and was ready for the approaching ship. He noted that the ships didn't fly the colours of France, the white ensign, but a red, white, and blue flag. The flag of the revolutionaries. The closest one fired its larboard broadside. As soon as the frigate started firing Johan ordered "Öppna elden!" and Venus relpied quickly followed by the guns in the fort firing the heavy old guns at both the 32 gun ships.

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    The east-most frigate was raked by the surprise fire from the old stone fort.

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    Most of the broadside from the frigate hit high. Much of the rigging was cut up and blocks and tackles came crashing down onto the crew on deck. The return fire from HMS Venus hit hard into the hull of the frigate. There was some damage and there were casualties and the big guns of the fort further damaged the hull. The fort had even more effect on the other frigate as the raking fire not only damaged the hull but also caused the fore topmast to come down with a lot of dead and wounded.

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    "Någon hafver anslutit sig i land!" The lookout had seen some commotion among the landing party. The skeppsgosse told Johan, "Se!" and pointed at the beach. Johan looked through his looking glass and could see a male civilian, some women and two children being helped into the boat. "Färre än väntat." Johan commented and turned his attention to the frigate bearing up on his larboard side.

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    Turning to the skeppspojke he ordered him to tell him when the boat was alongside, "Låt mig omedelbart få veta när de är framme!" The boat set out from the beach and the båtsmän heaved on the oars heading for HMS Venus.

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    The French frigate bearing up made Johan look closely at how she was handled. He thought it looked unfamiliar. It was not the seamanship he was used to from his own service in the French Navy several years ago. It was more erratic and impulsive, not as composed and well planned. Getting closer he could even see that the discipline reloading the guns was no where near his own or the traditional French. He ordered the signal for all men to report aboard to be prepared.

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    Johan's suspicions were made clear when the frigate made a mess of tacking close to Venus and the fort, firing their broadside early, as if the one in command wasn't sure if should be aimed it at the fort or the ship. Venus' broadside was not hesitant, and neither was the heavy guns of the fort. The hull of the 32 gun ship was hit very hard, being holed in several places including below the waterline. The destruction was severe and Johan knew there would be a lot of dead and wounded. Then the main topmast came down, in the middle of the tack. Johan ordered the prepared signal to be hoisted as soon as the fort had fired. The part of the broadside that did hit Venus did some damage to the hull and several men were taken below hit by splinters.

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    The gunners at the fort had quickly ran down to the prepared boats and set out. The tacking frigate wavered and headed towards land, only falling off slightly. Johan could see water gushing from the scuppers. As Venus was reloading the other frigate, just finished rigging a temporary fore topmast came around the fort and fired its starboard broadside at Venus.

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    The broadside did not much damage, but it did much harm to the crew. The hull damage did not worry Johan, but with a lot of crew in the shore parties he was missing a lot of hands. The båtsman standing by the bell lost a leg when a cannonball took it clean off at the knee and several of the gun crews working hard loading the guns had to be taken below. Johan hated seeing the red puddles of blood that stained the deck. Every pool showed a friend or one of his men killed or maimed.

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    The skeppsgosse reported "Skeppsbåten långsides, Major!" As the boat touched HMS Venus, ropes for lifting the boat aboard was rigged. The hands swarmed up the side of Venus and soon the boat was lifted onboard still carrying the civilians. An improvised ladder was rigged to allow the civilians to get out of the boat, all in mid battle. The retuning crew helped filling the the empty spots among the guncrews.

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    "Axel von Fersen, på min ära!" Johan exclaimed seeing the man up close. Turning to one of the women he asked "Och vem kan fröken tänkas vara?" holding out his hand to help her out of the boat. She took his hand and said, "Que dites-vous? Moi? Je suis Madame Rochet, juste une gouvernante des enfants de Madame de Korff." Johan looked at her spotless hand while helping her down on deck answering, "Mon Plaisir." Turning to the older woman he asked "Madame de Korff, êtes-vous... noble." while ushering her down "Oui. De la famille Russe." Johan turned to Axel von Fersen with a questioning look. It was answered with a shrug and his only comment was, "I krig finner man oväntade vänner." Johan let it pass and thought of the business ahead, "Visa våra nya vänner en säker plats under vattenlinjen." The guests were shown below deck by hands. Johan took the arm of Axel von Fersen as he was about to go below. "Inte fan är de ryssar." he said in a low tone stating sharply that they weren't Russians. Axel only gave Johan a look that told him not to ask any more questions. Turning back to the action Johan saw that the guns were run out and ready to be fired. The just arrived frigate was turning into the wind, heading straight for him. "Fyr!" was commanded and the broadside hit the now tacking frigate's bow raking her causing some damage to the hull, but much more to the crew on deck. Johan could see the wheel shattering spreading deadly splinters on the quarterdeck, but the sails carried the tack through. There were some experienced sailors onboard there, at least he thought. Surveillante, who's name Johan could read off her stern as she fell off, just managed to avoid grounding on the sand banks in spite of her erratic manoeuvring.

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    The cutter arriving from the fort was close enough to throw a rope, prompting Johan to order, "Kapa aktre ankartross och hissa främre ankar!" The aft anchor was let go, making HMS Venus swing head to wind. Crewmen manned the capstan and the cable was slowly taken in. Unfortunately the turn made her show her vulnerable stern to the approaching French frigate. It reacted immediately by turning hard starboard and present its larboard broadside, raking Venus at close range.

    The broadside hit the rudder and destroyed much of the transom as well as causing severe damage to other parts of the hull. As the damage was reported to Johan he quickly ordered an old sail to be brought up to be used as a sea anchor and to be thrown into the sea on starboard side fastened far aft, as the anchor was weighed.

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    As Venus' anchor was aweigh, she got sternway and the old sail in the water filled making her turn. By letting go of the bowlines the sail could be retrieved as she now had the wind on the starboard bow. Andromaque, the name of the tacking frigate, fell off and touched sand. Her keel scraped the soft sand and she lost speed. For a second Johan thought she would get stuck but the wind forced her on, masts creaking. Once more Venus fired at Surveillante, but not all guns bore, but the answering broadside had the same problem. Neither did much damage hitting each others hull, but the French had more wounded.

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    "Hissa! Hissa för faan!" Johan ordered and the sails were set. Venus barely cleard the sandbanks heading east, towards Surveillante who still had water pouring from the scuppers.

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    The two frigates exchanged broadsides again.

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    Venus heavier guns still made a difference hitting harder, causing worse splinters, when easily penetrating the more fragile hull of the smaller frigate.

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    As the two ships manoeuvred for position the missing topmast made a differnce. Johan suspected that the captain was new to his ship. Bearing up as if to tack when set on by Johan's heavier frigate was brave, but not the wisest move.

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    Venus caught Surveillante in a broadside at close range that tore up her hull.

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    The resulting hull damage was more than the small frigate could take. She struck her colours and backed her sails.

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    Johan turned his attention to Andromaque and thinking she was fleeing ordered all sails to be set. He didn't know if the knowledge of what had happened would cause more and heavier ships to be sent.

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    It turned out she wasn't fleeing as she wore to meat him.

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    The two ships met and Johans' seamanship told. He had the ability to get the whole of his broadside to bear while the smaller frigate only could get the foremost to bear.

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    The broadsides was quite ineffectual but still the heavier guns told.

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    As soon as the enemy's guns had been fired Johan ordered "Stagvändning! Lofva!" bearing up into the wind.

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    Andromaque followed by tacking too. Johan held the broadside waiting for her to come within range hoping to rake her.

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    Johan's hope was fruitless as Andromaque manoeuvred well enough. Venus fell off slightly and fired her broadside.

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    Both caused some damage to the hull and sails, the lighter guns of the smaller frigate had a weaker effect, but as Venus sails already was damaged, bowlines snapped, yards turned out of position, and the main topsail tore, spilling all it's wind.

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    Johan had not much men to spare to repair the damaged rigging, but the work started. Reloading the guns was still more important. Venus fell off and the sails still drawing filled helping her in the turn. Without rudder the ansvarsstyrman had a hard task balancing the sails and making her turn.

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    Soon another exchange of broadsides showed the difference in size between the two worn and damaged frigates.

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    Both ships took damage to the hulls but Adromaque also lost a another topmast.

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    The two ships continued their limping dance, now a bit more equal with the more nimble, smaller frigate suffering from the lost topmast while the heavier ship was missing her rudder and her sails in tatters. Still firing their few still working guns.

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    The few unhurt experienced seamen doing wonders manoeuvring their impaired ships for position, tacking and wearing...

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    ...firing broadside after broadside until finally, at close range the telling blows were made.

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    The crew of Andromaque had been nearly depleated, when the will to fight left them. Venus was very worn, the doctor and carpenter having their hands full, but she had also lost much of her manoeuvrability and speed.

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    Last edited by TexaS; 11-02-2018 at 15:00.

  5. #5
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    Johan took possession of Andromaque. He led a boarding party made up of the largest, unwounded båtsmän left and went aboard the frigate. There were wounded all over. He was met by a short man with glasses who introduced himself as "Citoyen Bertrand". When Johan asked "Qui est le capitaine?" he let him know that it was he. It turned out that the noblemen who had captained the ships had been replaced by citizens loyal to the revolution, but not necessary with any knowledge of the sea.

    Johan's thoughts wondered. If the revolutionaries were attacking him, a ship not involved in the internal struggle of France, it meant that the small group he picked up must have to do with the revolution itself. Johan quickly made up his mind that even though he wanted to take both ships home as prizes, not that he would get payed for them as in the British Navy, he couldn't get them in good sailing order in time, He hated to leave one of the frigates as prizes still would help with his promotion. He also did not want to bring any prisoners at all. If these women were so important, he wouldn't risk having a single frenchman onboard.

    He knew he would have to make repairs before leaving but estimated that he needed to set sail before nightfall. That only left him perhaps ten hours. He ordered the ships to be anchored close to the shore and all prisoners were set ashore. He left water barrels and supplies to sustain the many wounded. Everything that could be salvaged from Surveillante was transferred to Venus and Andromaque. There was no time to take down the masts to replace the damaged, so only spare yards, cordage, timber, sails, cannonballs and powder were transferred while the two frigates were repaired as best as could be done. Surveillant was then set on fire as the Venus and Andromaque started their journey back to Sweden.


    HMS Venus sailed well enough with her new rudder, repaired rigging, and spare sails, keeping up well with the captured 32 gun frigate with its repaired topmasts. Leaning on the railing Johan looked at the Andromaque, wondering how he would be received back home. Would he be punished for having been in an action with ships of a nation Sweden wasn't in war with? Would he be received as a hero defeating a powerful naval opponent that attacked him? Axel von Fersen appeared on deck. He walked up to Johan, lifted his hat slightly and said "Jag hade aldrig trott för mitt inre öga att de skulle skicka fartyg efter oss." telling Johan of his surprise to the ships sent after them. "De förde inte fransk flagg utan den af revolutionärerna. Vad faan har greven dragit in oss i?" Johan asked wondering what they had been mixed up in. Taken aback Axel only answered "Är majoren alltid så ful i mun?" before lifting his hat, turning and walking away. Johan looked after the Swedish count as he walked along the deck. Turning back to the sea and the captured frigate Johan felt a bit less anxious of how the capture would be received. Sweden was not at war with France but if the attackers were to be known as revolutionary pirates...


    As HMS Venus arrived at Göteborg from it's secret mission picking up the small group of people outside of Dunkerque, a closed carriage was waiting, and the group bid adieu. The captured prize was taken to a drydock and Johan received orders to continue to Karlskrona, his home port and the home to Högsjöflottan. Before leaving he asked for how long the carriage had been waiting and learned that it had been there for over a week.


    Johan sat at a table with empty plates in an expensive restaurant. He looked deep into the eyes of Vice Admiral Nordenskjöld. He drew on his pipe, but it had gone out. "Vet ni vem jag hämtade?" Johan asked the Admiral. "Det är bäst att inte ställa frågor en inte vill höra svaret på." he answered hinting that it would be better to not know. Johan told the Admiral "Äfven jag har hört rykten om Drottningens älskare, Axel von Fersen. Jag kan lova att den guvernanten aldrig skött om ett barn." He rose up, lifted his hat slightly and told his adieus. He thought about the rumours about Axel von Fersen being the lover of the French Queen. The thought was staggering. Madame Rochet. Could it be? Was she actually Marie Antoinette?
    Last edited by TexaS; 11-03-2018 at 02:49.

  6. #6
    Admiral of the Blue.
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    Another cliff hanger. I can't wait for the end of this one Jonas, and the explanation of who the unknown party are.
    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

  7. #7
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    I also looking forward to the conclusion, nicely done Jonas

  8. #8
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    Now it's a full story. I would like to do a bit of rewrites, but I think I'm out of time.

  9. #9
    Admiral of the Blue.
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    Well Jonas.
    That will keep us all guessing. What another superb ending to the story! Or is it truly the end?
    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

  10. #10

  11. #11
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    I do have more snippets written and things planned for the last scenario in the campaign, but I think I'm out of time for this year, I'm afraid.

  12. #12
    Admiral of the Blue.
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    D not worry Jonas. It will be much appreciated whenever it comes. Meantime you have done your requsite five missions for last year.
    Counting the last mission of that year you are now only six missions behind me.
    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

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