The Sea Wolves incident in Murmugao


Alfredo de Mello



A few years ago, I was contacted, through the good offices of Paulo Colaço Dias, by a lawyer in Portugal, called Jose Antonio Barreiros, and gave him whatever firsthand information I had about the episode of the German ships set ablaze during Carnaval of 1943, and this led to his writing a book about the "Ehrenfels", availing himself of the official information obtainable - after
50 years - in London, as well as the information of what went on in Lisbon, at that time, trying to hide the facts, and blaming the Germans ....

I happened to be back in Goa during that month, because all the universities in British India were closed on account of the student agitation, and all the "Quit India" campaign, and I had to study hard, because the exams were scheduled for March, and during those weeks, I set the alarm clock for 4.am. in order to study.

One night, I thought I heard the alarm clock, but it wasn't: it was the telephone ringing at 2.a.m. I went to the phone, and on the other side of the line was Governor Cabral, who wanted to speak with my father.  In short, he informed Papa that the four ships anchored in Mormugao harbour, were set ablaze by a British commando operation, and that he should organize a rescue operation, because there were some wounded Germans on board.

I accompanied my father, who had mustered a "lancha", and together with Dr. J.M Pacheco de Figueiredo, and some male nurses, we sailed towards Mormugao from Panjim jetty, and witnessed the four ships ablaze during the night.

It was a tremendous spectacle.

I remember going into one of the ships, to fetch some wounded German sailors, and watched how many Mercedes Benz cars, and bycicles were starting to burn on board.... all goods which were destined for delivery to India, Burma, and the Far East.

On the way back to Panjim in the wee hours of the morning, I was pressing my thumb on the groin of a German sailor, who had received a bullet on the artery, which was gushing like a fountain. Anyhow, it was useless, because he died when we were crossing the Mandovi at the Reis Magos...

Well, Dr. Barreiros, whom I met personally in Lisbon in 1998, - he and his beautiful wife, had invited us for dinner at a swank restaurant - wrote a 90 page book, with tremendous amount of revelations....including that Gov. Cabral was bribed by the British Goverment, with a paltry Pounds 5000.- to deny that it was a British commando action, and that the Germans had scuttled their ships on account of differences of opinion among the crew.... ?

The Dr. Barreiros book has plenty of photographs of Mormugao harbour, etc . After reading the book, one will realise what lies we were told, and how the Germans were condemned for something they hadn't done.

Alfredo de Mello
July 29,  2000

 

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