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STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
VOL. 23, Special Issue PUBLISHED BY LAGO OIL & TRANSPORT CO., LTD. February 16, 1962
The roar of destruction shattered the
quiet night. An explosion-ripped tanker
spewed forth flaming crude oil. Crewmen
screamed in fire-enveloped quarters. Some
scrambled to lifeboats. Others flung them-
selves into the water. Many died. It was
0131, Feb. 16, 1942. World War II had been
brought to Aruba by the German Reich
Navy U-boat 156, Kapitanleutnant Werner
The U-156 was commissioned Sept. 4,
1941. Tradition, so much a part of all world
navies, constituted the pomp in the cere-
monies in which a full-dressed Hartenstein
took over the command of the submarine
while his full-dressed crew stood rigidly at
attention on the vessel's deck. The cere-
mony took place in Bremen in the yards
of the Weser Shipbuilding Company. It
was a green crew the submarine comman-
der addressed The crew knew this, and
knew there would be many months of in-
tensive training ahead administered by a
strict disciplinarian and an excellent sea-
man whose naval career had begun in 1928
as a member of the German Weimar Repu-
There were men in the new crew who
feared Hartenstein. He was an unrelenting
taskmaster. To him accomplishment was
matter of fact, the means incidental. Hard-
ly dignified, but indicative of his aggressive
character, was the "Crazy Dog" nickname
his crew late gave him. He was neither
tall, nor stocky. His was a wiry, slight but
solid frame that he unfailingly held erect.
His posture was a manifestation of the
man's mien: proper and correct. Harten-
stein never married; he was wedded to the
sea which occupied fifteen of his thirty-
three years and finally claimed his life.
The German commander had been an artil-
lery officer aboard heavy naval craft. At
the beginning of World War II, he was
transferred to the command of the sub-
chaser Jaguar. He earned the Iron Cross,
first and second class, and the German
Cross in Gold before entering the under-
water service. The U-156 was his first sub-
Out from Bremen glided the U-156 des-
tined for Kiel and much training for the
crew in between. The training was geared
to the Spartan simplicity of submarine
life. Everything that could happen in battle
was simulated. The crew learned about
their boat, and they also became well
aware, if they hadn't before, that Harten-
stein accepted nothing less than perfection.
They operated without lights; water was
allowed in through a breech; they exper-
ienced engine failures; they had pump fail-
ures; they simulated diving and surfacing
control loss. Every battle action that a
submarine could expect was practiced over
and over. Often the crew did not know
whether it was real or another drill. More
often the crew grumbled about "Crazy
The officers were experienced. All were
not steeped in submarine service, but were
qualified men with interesting back-
grounds. Lt. Just joined the German Luft-
waffe in 1936, and before entering the sub-
marine service in 1941 had flown 160 raids
over the British Isles. Von dem Borne,
Berlin-born son of a World War I German
vice admiral and chief of staff, had been on
mine laying ships and destroyers before he
was assigned to the U-156. His mine laying
sallies took him around the Shetland Is-
lands and into the mouth of the River
By mid-December, 1941, Hartenstein con-
cluded that he had a crew and a ship that
could withstand the rigors of a minor
patrol. Christmas Eve, the U-156 slid away
from her berth in Kiel and travelled north-
east through the Kiel Canal to the North
Sea. Hartenstein's orders were to proceed
up the Skagerrak to the vicinity of Larvik,
a Norwegian seaport, and engage British
movements. Stormy seas precluded offen-
sive action. Hartenstein's annoyance at not
being able to strike Allied craft flushed
full within him. He could not accept with
indifference worthless ventures or endea-
Kapitanleutnant Werner Hartenstein
Commander U-boat 156
Feb. 16 1942
Leutnant Dietrich A. von dem Borne
First Watch Officer U-boat 156
The first U-156 torpedo broke the Pedernales' back, set her afire, but never sank the laker.
E proper torpedo di U-156 a kibra lombra di Pedernales, pero no a logra sink e tanker.
E boroto di destruction a rompe e nochi
silencioso. Un tankero habri door di ex-
plosion tabata scupi crudo na candela. Tri-
pulantenan tabata grita den cabinanan na
candela. Algun tabata haci esfuerzo pa
yega na e botonan salbabida. Otro tabata
tira nan mes na awa. Hopi a muri. Tabata
0131, Feb. 16, 1942. Guerra Mundial II a
worde treci Aruba door di U-156, un sub-
marine Aleman, cu Kapitanleutnant Werner
Hartenstein como comandante.
E U-156 a worde tuma na servicio Sept.
4, 1941. Tradicion, asina tanto un parti di
tur forza naval na mundo, tabata constitui
mayor parti di e ceremonianan den cual
un Hartenstein den pleno uniform a tuma
over comando di e submarine mientras su
tripulacion, tambe den pleno uniform, ta-
bata para na atencion ariba dek. E cere-
monia a tuma lugar na Bremen na astil-
leria di Weser Shipbuilding Company. Ta-
bata un tripulacion berde cu cual e coman-
dante tabata papia. E tripulacion tabata
sabi esaki, y tabata sabi cu dilanti nan lo
tin hopi luna di entrenamento intensive ad-
ministri door di un disciplinario strict y
un excelente marinero, kende su carera
naval a cuminza na 1928 como miembro di
German Weimar Republic Navy.
Tabatin bomber entire e tripulantenan cu
tabatin temor di Hartenstein. El tabata un
trahador sin compassion. Pe acomplecimento
tabata lo mas important, e medionan no
tabata import. No much digno, pero in-
dicativo di su character agresivo, tabata e
number di "Cach6 Loco" cu su tripulacion
a dune'le despues. El no tabata ni grand,
ni chikito. El tabatin un curpa s6lido cu na
tur moment el tabata tene erecto. Su pos-
tura tabata un manifestacion di disposicion
di e bomber: propio y correct. Hartenstein
no a casa nunca; el tabata marA na lamar
cu a ocupa diez-cinco di su trinta y tres
anja y finalmente a reclama su bida. E co-
mandante Aleman tabata un official di ar-
tileria a bordo di barconan pisi. Na prin-
cipio di Guerra Mundial II el a worde trans-
feri pa comanda e cazador di submarine
Jaguar. El a gana e Cruz di Hero den Oro
promer cu el a drenta servicio bao awa.
U-156 tabata su promer comando over di
For di Bremen U-156 a sali destiny pa
Kiel y hopi entrenamento na camina. E en-
trenamento tabata segun e simplicidad
Spartano di bida submarine. Tur loke por
socede den combat a worde simula. E tri-
pulacion a sinja conoce nan barco, y tambe
nan a gana e bon realizacion, si ainda nan
no tabatin ne, cu Hartenstein no tabata
acepta nada menos cu perfeccion. Nan ta-
bata opera sin luz; awa tabata bini aden
door di un buraco; nan a experiment fayo
di motor; nan tabatin fayo di pomp; nan a
simula perdida di control den bahamento y
subimento. Tur accion di combat cu un
submarine por experiment a worde prae-
tica cada vez di nobo. Hopi vez e tripula-
cion no tabata sabi cu tabata real of sola-
mente un otro ehercicio. Frecuentemente e
tripulacion tabata grunja tocante e "Cach6
E oficialnan tabatin experiencia. Tur no
tabata cushi den servicio submarine, pero
tabata hombernan cualifica cu fondo inte-
resante. Just a bini cerca Forza Aerea Ale-
man na 1936, y promer cu el a drenta ser-
vicio submarine na 1941 el a bula 160 mi-
sion over di Islanan Ingles. Von dem Borne,
naci na Berlin y yiu di un vice almirante
den Guerra Mundial I y hefe di estado,
tabata ariba bapornan di plant mina y
destroyers promer cu el a worde asigna na
e U-156. Su trabao di plant mina a hibe'le
rond di Shetland Islands y te den boca di
Pa mei-mei di December 1941 Harten-
stein a conclui cu el tabatin un tripulacion
y barco cu por want e rigornan di un pa-
trulla menor. Bispo di Pascu, e U-156 a slip
for di su lugar di mara na Kiel y a viaja
noordoost door di e canal di Kiel pa Noord-
zee. E instruccionnan di Hartenstein tabata
pa sigui ariba Skagerak te den vecindario
di Larvik, un puerto Norwega, y tuma e
Inglesnan aden. Lamar bruto a preveni ac-
cion ofensivo. E rabia di Hartenstein cu no
ARUBA ESSO NEWS
february 16, 1962
TWENTY YEARS AGO
U-156 was one of four
submarines of the Neuland
Qroup assigned to the Feb.
Antilles-Lake Maracaibo strike
vors. The commander stepped up operational training lest warn
inactivity induce complacency. He still had a long patrol laced
North through the Atlantic Ocean plowed the U-156. India
The seas were rough and mines were always present. The Pr
submarine travelled wide around northern Scotland to The
the Rockhall Banks, west of Ireland. The trip was a ities
frigid one. The boat was heated by a central heating feet
system which circulated water from its engines' water its h
cooling assembly. But it gave warmth only when the sub- forty
marine was running at high speeds. The turbulent North cepti
Atlantic held the U-boat far below her surface cruising abou
speed of 18.3 knots. There existed an electric heating were
system, but it consumed a great deal of current. It was utilize
rarely used. The crew fortified themselves with double pass
heavy underwear, a woolen pullover, heaven winter uni- lemo
form and leather jacket, all of which was kept on in bed. food.
West of Ireland, the U-156 dropped off two floating quari
weather buoys. The high seas and cumbersomeness of food,
the buoys made the laying difficult, but they had to be in th
positioned. These buoys and many others planted by the strap
German Navy and Luftwaffe relayed valuable weather boat':
information to meteorologists in Germany. Predominate comp
weather the prevailing westerlies moves across the Ja
North Atlantic and the British Isles to Germany. Know-
ing what weather was coming their direction gave the
Germans information invaluable to their military plan- Th
ning. The U-156 planted two. Both were approximately past
forty-nine feet long including a twenty-two-foot antenna. ation
They bobbed in the water and were anchored much like the
a marker buoy. Periodically, coded signals were sent by Breal
these buoys indicating the air temperature, wind velocity, on tl
water speed, barometer readings and atmospheric humi- radio
dity recorded by the instruments in the buoys. They had person
been stored in the watertight torpedo compartment on chars
the submarine's deck. dusk.
The U-156 sailed down the west coast of Ireland and the e
made for France. Jan. 8, 1942, the submarine tied up in boat
Lorient Harbor on the northwest coast of occupied France. houri
A frigid fifteen-day journey without engaging the enemy stein
and two weather buoys placed constituted the first patrol. Bu
Lieutenants Paul Just and Dietrich A. von dem Borne ation
stood on the slither of pier that extended into Lorient Hart
Harbor. Secured alongside was the long, grey form of a comb
submarine. The red and black swastika above the conning the
tower whipped in the cold January air. The two officers perm
and puzzled crew members silently wondered where their rity
next patrol would take them. The huge supply of com- subje
missaries and tropical gear being loaded aboard their boat The
stirred their curiosity. Summer clothing, they agreed, was tuna
certainly different from the gear used on the patrol they marn
had just completed. Qu
Lt. Just and Von dem Borne hadn't received the slightest for b
inkling from Hartenstein where their next patrol would from
take them. Two aspects of the future were obvious to delig
them as they gazed at the enormity of the supplies other
stacked on the Lorient pier. The patrol would be a long ning
one, and it would be in warm latitudes. The prospect of The
Deueches U-Boot beschieBt Onraffncricn auf der Insel Aruba
a weather reduced the sting of the cold winds that.
I the French harbor. Von dem Borne casually guessed
patrol would be around the tip of South Africa to the
eparations for the long journey took eleven days.
men pondered over the placement of the huge quant-
of food, clothing and arms. The U-156 was only 252
long and twenty-two feet at its greatest width. At
highest point it was thirty-one feet. Each of the
'-eight men aboard the U-156, with the possible ex-
on of Hartenstein, who always was positively sure
t such things, soon found out where all the supplies
to be stowed. Every possible nook and cranny were
:ed. Boxes full of eggs were stacked on tables; in the
igeways hammocks were strung full of bread and
ns, lockers the length of the boat were jammed with
stuffs in jars and cans; the toilet in the crews
ters was shut off and used as a locker for canned
and a huge crate of potatoes was plopped squarely
.e middle of the control room. Nine torpedoes were
ped under bunks, six more were placed in the U-
s tubes, and ten were secured in the watertight
artment on the deck.
n. 19, 1942, the U-156 left Lorient, France.
e submarine headed southwest, and when she sailed
the Azores the crew assumed their waters of oper-
would be off the coast of South America. Crossing
Atlantic afforded the crew some warm, leisure hours.
ks in watches and training were used to sun bathe
ie deck, fish, play cards and chess and listen to the
. It also gave the men ample time to care for their
ins. Again representative of Hartenstein's personal
icteristics, he wanted his men to shower daily at
A shower was rigged on the deck and another in
engine room. Under no circumstances would the U-
commander condone beards of more than forty-eight
3' growth. There was nothing slovenly about Harten-
, or the boat and crew under his command.
t while he was impeccable in his person and oper-
with thoroughness and efficiency, his men had come,
ow, to respect his energies, abilities and consider-
for others. On this the U-156's first major patrol,
enstein had molded a green crew into a cohesive
*atant unit. The cameraderie ran high. In respect for
likes and dislikes of forty-eight men, Hartenstein
itted the men to vote on meals desired. The majo-
ruled. The option tended to lessen the gripes about a
:ct that was universally criticized in the military.
officers and non-commissioned officers preferred
fish in oil for breakfast. The enlisted men liked
nalade and wurst better.
ite often the crew of the U-156 had fried flying fish
breakfast. Not only was the fish a delightful respite
the normal fare, but catching them was an equally
htful diversion. Deck watches competed with each
on the number of catches, and, of course, the win-
group shared a kitty contributed to by the others.
record for a twenty-four-hour period was sixty fish.
This, a propaganda poster done by a
German artist in 1942, depicts the
U-156 successfully shelling and sett-
ing afire the Lago Refinery. Untrue,
of course, yet the poster undoubtedly
received wide circulation and belief in
Germany. A copy of the poster was
found in an evacuated German school-
house by a United States Army soldier
during the advance on Berlin in 1945.
Esaki, un plachi di propaganda pinta
door di un artist Aleman na 1942,
ta munstra U-156 tirando cu 6xito y
poniendo refineria di Lago na candela.
No ta berdad, naturalmente, pero e
plachi a worde circular extensamente
y a word keri na Alemania. Un copia
di e plachi a worde haya den un
school evacua na Alemania door di
un sold di Ehercito Americano du-
rante e advance ariba Berlin na 1945.
Burning oil from the Pedernales and Oranjestad rolled along
the surface of water where the tankers had been hit by the
first two torpedoes fired by the U-boat 156 in combat.
Azeta kimando di Pedernales y Oranjestad tabata lora ariba
awa unda e tankeronan a worde gedal door di e promer dos
torpedo lanzi door di e U-boat 156 Aleman den combat aki.
The U-156's two Diesels, which were capable of gen-
erating 2500 horsepower each, pushed the German boat
past the north coast of Guadeloupe Feb. 10. The crew
knew then that the Caribbean would be their hunting
grounds. They did not know, however, whom was to be
hunted or exactly where.
Three days later, heading south, Curacao came up on
the horizon. Hartenstein addressed the crew. He told
them the U-156 was part of the Neuland Group assigned
to attack the Aruba and Curagao refineries and engage
the tankers between the Netherlands Antilles and Lake
Maracaibo. Others in the group were Kapitanleutnant
Muller-Stockman's U-67, Kapitanleutnant Albrecht Achil-
les' U-161, and Kapitanleutnant Jurgen Rosenstiel's U-
502. The U-156 had been assigned the Aruba refinery
and tankers at its shore. The attack would be launched
during the morning dark hours of Feb. 16.
Excitement raced through the ship. The operations in-
culcated on the crew caused individuals to involuntarily
review order of battle and equipment readiness. They were
ready and eager. At 1830, Feb. 13, the U-156 surfaced
and steered for the Colorado Point light. The submarine
proceeded around the Point and at 2030 moved past the
refinery. Off the coast one mile, Hartenstein and his of-
ficers noted that "the refinery was well lighted, four
large tankers were in port and three were at roadstead,
and traffic also moved at night." Satisfied with his first
look Hartenstein increased his boat's speed and continued
along the coast to Oranjestad. He dived his boat and
went into the mouth of the harbor, but there was little
to be seen. Early morning air activity from Princess
Beatrix Airport, which Hartenstein logged as two to four
two-motored airplanes, caused the U-156 to submerge
before detection. The submarine remained submerged
off the northwest coast of Aruba until dusk Feb. 14.
Surfaced again under cloudy skies, the submarine sail-
ed into the tanker route between the Antilles and the
lake. Hartenstein and crew spotted tanker silhouettes,
and practiced attack maneuvers on the unsuspecting
lakers. None was fired at; the primary objective was the
refinery. Their practice completed to Hartenstein's satis-
faction, the boat moved back to Aruba. Here it submerg-
ed and moved up to the mouth of San Nicolas Harbor
where her commander noted "considerable activity, har-
bor well occupied." The U-156 moved off toward Oranje-
At 0610, Feb. 15, Hartenstein's procedure orders were
changed. The commander correctly assumed that the
German high command had been rankled by disagree-
ment. The countermanding official message to all West-
ern Hemisphere submarines was"
1) the principal assignment is to attack ship's targets;
2) if this attack is successful, then artillery attack
against land targets can be made on the morning of
Western Hemisphere time should opportunity for this be
3) when no ship targets are encountered, artillery at-
tack against land targets may be made toward evening
of Western Hemisphere time
Admiral Karl Donitz's view of the Aruba operation.
with which Admiral Erich Raeder took strong exception.
was that the initial shelling of the refinery and tanks
with deck guns would destroy the element of surprise
needed for a successful attack on the almost irreplaceable
lake tankers. Donitz succeeded Raeder as commander in
chief of the Reich Navy in January, 1943
The U-156 remained just below the surface most of
Feb. 15 observing, from its position less than two miles
off Seroe Colorado, the activity in the refinery and the
harbor. The crew's greatest bother was keeping their
vessel from being discovered by fishing boats. Shortly
after nightfall the U-156 surfaced and almost ran into a
patrol boat Von dem Borne, who had the watch, ordered
her hard over and avoided the boat. Luck ran with the
U-156 at that moment; it was never seen.
On the surface outside the refinery, the crew scrambled
to the deck and marvelled at the light and the activity.
They had been living and operating in a blacked-out
Europe for over two years, and the lights of the refinery
and towns and cars and the homes in Seroe Colorado
February 16 1962
por a ataka bapornan Aliado a monta den dje. El no por
acepta cu indiferencia venturanan cu no vale la pena. E
comandante a intensifica entrenamento asina cu e inacti-
vidad lo no result den indiferencia. Ainda el tabatin un
patrulla largo su dilanti.
E U-156 tabata cruza pa nord den Oceano Atlantico.
Lamar tabata bruto y semper tabatin mina present. E
submarine a viaje den un boog grand rond di parti nord
di Escocia pa Rockhall Banks, pabao di Irlandia. E viaje
tabata uno frio. E boto tabata calenta door di un sistema
di calefaccion central cual tabata circula awa for di e
montura pa fria awa di motor. Pero e tabata duna calor
solamente ora e submarine ta corre na velocidad halto.
E turbulente Norte Atlantico a tene e submarine leuw
bao su velocidad di cruce di 18.3 nudo. Tabatin un sistema
di calefaccion electric, pero e tabata gasta un cantidad
di coriente Rara vez e tabata worde usa. E tripulacion a
fortifica su mes cu panja di abao double pisi, pullover di
lana, uniform pisa di invierno y bachi di cuero, y tur ta-
bata worde teni bisti hasta den cama.
Pabao di Irlandia, e U-156 a tira afor dos boei di tempo.
E lamar halto y incomodidad di e boeinan a haci e pone-
mento dificil, pero nan master a worde posiciona. E boei-
nan aki y hopi otronan plant door di Navy y Forza Aerea
Aleman tabata manda information valicso tocante tempo
pa meteorologistanan na Alemania. E tempo predominante
biento di abao -ta pasa over di Atlantico Norte y e
Islanan Ingles pa Alemania. E saber di e tempo cu tabata
bini den nan direction tabata furni e Alemannan cu in-
formacion valioso pa nan planeamento military. E U-156
a plant dos. Tur dos tabata mas of menos cuarenta y
nuebe pia largo incluyendo un antena di binti-dos pia.
Nan ta balia den awa casi mescos cu un boei di marca.
Periodicamente e boeinan aki ta transmit senjal na code
indicando temperature di aire, velocidad di biento, velc-
cidad di awa, registration barometrico y humedad at-
mosferico registrA pa instrumentonan den e boeinan. Nan
tabata conteni den e compartamento di torpedo cerra a
prueba di awa ariba dek di e submarine.
E U-156 a nabega bin abao na e costa di Irlandia y a
tira pa Francia. Jan. 8, 1942, e submarine a mara na
haaf di Lorient na costa noordwest di Francia ocupA. Un
viaje frio di diez-cinco dia sin drenta den combat cu
enemigo y dos boei di tempo poni tabata constitui e pro-
Luitenantnan Paul Just y Dietrich A. von dem Borne
tabata para ariba e pida pier extendiendo den haaf di
Lorient. MarA na un banda tabata e forma largo, shinishi
di un submarine. E swastika corral y preto ariba e brug
tabata suta den e biento frio di Januari. E dos oficialnan
y tripulacion tabata puntra nan mes unda nan siguienti
patrulla lo hiba nan. E cantidad grand di alimento y
panja tropical cu tabata worde carga a yena nan cu curi-
osidad. Panja di verano, nan tabata di acuerdo, segura-
mente tabata diferente for di esun cu nan a usa ariba e
patrulla cu a caba di worde complete.
Lt. Just y Von dem Borne no a recibi ni e minimo indi-
cacion di Hartenstein unda nan siguiente patrulla lo hiba
nan. Dos aspect di future tabata evidence pa nan mien-
tras nan tabata contempla c enorme cantidad di abasteci-
mento stiwa ariba e pier di Lorient. E patrulla lo ta un
largo, y e lo ta den latitudnan calor. E prospect di tempo
calor a reduci severidad di e biento frio den e haaf Fran-
ces. Von dem Borne tabata pensa den su mes cu e patrulla
lo ta rond di punta di Sur Africo pa Oceano Indio.
Preparacion pa e viaje largo a tuma diez-un dia. E
hombernan tabatin un problema pa stiwa e cantidad
grand di alimento, panja y arma. E U-156 tabata sola-
mente 252 pia largo y binti-dos pia na su hanchura mas
grand. Na su punto mas halto e tabata trinta y un pia.
Cada un di e cuarenta y ocho hombernan a bordo di e
U-156, cu e possible exception di Hartenstein, kende sem-
per tabata positivamente segur tocante e cosnan aki,
pronto a haya sabi unda tur e material aki mester a
word stiwA. Tur possible huki y skin a worde utilizA.
Caha yen di web6 a worde stiwa ariba mesa; e hamaca-
nan den pasada tabata yenA cu pan y lamoenchi, cashinan
di panja yen di cuminda na bleki y better; e excusado
den apartamento di e tripulacion a worde cerrA y usA pa
stiwa cuminda di bleki, y un caha grand di batata a
word tira den centro di e sala di control. Nuebe torpedo
a worde marA bao cama, seis mas a worde poni den tubo-
nan di e submarine, y diez a word asegura den e com-
partamento a prueba di awa ariba dek.
Jan. 19, 1942, e U-156 a sali for di Lorient, Francia.
E submarine a tira zuidwest, y ora el a pass Azores e
tripulantenan a pensa cu nan lugar di opera lo ta dilanti
costa di Sur America. Cruzamento di Atlantico a duna e
The U-156 was an
The boat carried 25
of 11,000 miles, and
knots surfaced and
IX-C class submarine.
torpedoes, had a range
cruising speeds of 18.3
7.3 knots submerged.
E U-156 tabata un submarine di clase IX-C.
E tabata carga 25 torpedo, tabatin un al-
cance di 11,000 milla, y velocidad di cruce
di 18.3 nudo ariba awa y 7.3 nudo bao awa.
tripulacion algun ora di reposo y calor. Interupcion den
ward y entrenamento a word usA pa tuma banjo di solo
ariba dek, pisca, hunga carta y schaak y scucha radio.
Tambe esaki a duna e hombernan hopi tempo pa percura
pa nan mes. Atrobe representative di e caracteristiconan
personal di Hartenstein, el tabata kier pa su hombernan
tuma un banjo tur dia ora ta bira scur. Un douche a
worde install ariba dek y un otro den cuarto di maquina.
Bao di ningun circumstancia e comandante tabata tolera
barba di mas cu cuarenta y ocho ora sin feita. No tabatin
nada di slons tocante Hartenstein, of e barco of e tripu-
lacion bao su comando.
Pero mientras el tabata impecable den su persona y
tabata opera cu cabalidad y eficiencia, su hombernan ya
awor tabata respeta su energia, abilidad y consideration
pa otro. Ariba di promer patrulla grand di U-156, Har-
tenstein a convert un tripulacion berde den un unidad
cohesive di bataya. E amistad tabata intimo. En respect
pa loke cuarenta y ocho homber ta gusta y laga di gusta,
Hartenstein tabata permit e hombernan pa vota ariba
loke nan kier come. E mayoria tabata manda. E opcion
tabatin e tendencia pa reduci e kehonan tocante un asunto
cu tabata universalmente criticA den servicio military. E
oficialnan tabata prefer tuna fish den azeta pa desay-
uno. E matroosnan tabata prefer marmalade cu worst.
Hopi vez tripulacion di e U-156 tabata hasa piscA vo-
lante pa desayuno. No solamente e piscA tabata un varia-
cion sabroso for di e cuminda normal, pero pa coi nan
tabata un diversion agradable. Wardanan ariba dek ta-
bata competi cu otro den piscamento, y, naturalmente, e
grupo ganador tabata parti un suma chikito contribui
door di e otronan. E record pa un period di binti-cuatro
ora tabata sesenta pisca.
E dos Diesels di e U-156, cual tabata capaz di genera
2500 forza di cabai cada uno, a pusha e boto Aleman
dilanti e costa norte di Guadeloupe Feb. 10. E ora e tri-
pulacion tabata sabi cu Caribe lo ta nan sitio di opera-
cion. Sinembargo, nan no tabata sabi ainda kende lo ta e
victim of exactamente unda.
Tres dia despues, coriendo zuid, Curacao a soma na
horizonte. Hartenstein a dirigi su mes na e tripulacion. El
a bisa nan cu U-156 tabata parti di e Grupo Neuland
asignA pa ataka refinerianan di Curacao y Aruba y e
tankeronan cu ta viaja entire Antillas Neerlandes y Lago
Maracaibo. Otronan den e grupo tabata Kapitanleutnant
Muller-Stockman cu U-67, Kapitanleutnant Albrecht
Achilles cu U-161, y Kapitanleutnant Jurgen Rosenstiel
cu U-502. U-156 a worde asignA e refineria di Aruba y
tankeronan na su costa. E take lo tuma lugar durante e
marduga di Feb. 16.
Excitacion a subi bordo di e bapor. E operacionnan di
cual nan a worde participate a impulsa nan pa repasa in-
voluntariamente ordennan di bataya y preparation pa
combat. Nan tabata cla y dispuesto. Pa 1830, Feb. 13, e
U-156 a lamta y a stuur pa e luz di Colorado Point. E
submarine a sigui rond di e punto y pa 2030 el a pasa
lilanti refineria. Un milla dilanti costa, Hartenstein y
su oficialnan a nota cu "refineria tabatin hopi luz, cuatro
tanker grand tabata den haaf y tabatin tres marA ta
warda, y cu trafico tabata sigui anochi tambe." Satis-
fecho cu su promer vista Hartenstein a aumenta velocidad
di su boto y a sigui canto di costa pa Oranjestad. El a
baha su boto y a drenta boca di haaf, pero no tabatin
much cos di mira. Actividad mainta tempran na Vlieg-
veld Prinses Beatrix, cual Hartenstein a nota como dos
te cuatro avion di dos motor, a causa U-156 di bai abao
promer cu el worde mira. E submarine a keda bao awa
dilanti costa di Aruba te ora a bira scur Feb. 14.
Ariba awa atrobe bao un cielo nubia, e submarine a
recorre e ruta di tankero entire Antillas y e lago. Harten-
stein y su tripulacion a mira silhueta di tankero, y a prac-
tica maniobra di atake ariba tankero insospechoso. Nan
no a tira ariba ningun; e meta primario tabata refineria.
Nan practice complete segun satisfaccion di Hartenstein,
e boto a move atrobe pa Aruba. Aki el a lamta y a move
te den boca di haaf di San Nicolas unda e comandante a
nota "considerable actividad, haaf bon ocupA." E U-156
a move den direction di Oranjestad.
Pa 0610 Feb. 15, e ordennan di Hartenstein a worde
cambia. E comandante corectamente a asumi cu e alto
comando Aleman tabata parti den desacuerdo. E mensaje
official cambiA pa tur submarine den Hemisferio Occi-
1) e encargo principal tabata pa ataka bapor;
2) si e take aki tin 6xito, anto take di artileria con-
tra meta ariba terra por worde haci ariba mainta di
tempo den Hemisferio Occidental si oportunidad pa esaki
ta favorable; y
3) si no contra bapor, take di artileria contra meta
ariba terra por worde haci banda di anochi di tempo den
E vista di Almirante Karl Donitz tocante e operation
na Aruba, cu cual Almirante Erich Raeder tabata dife-
rencia fuertemente, tabata cu e tiramento inicial di refi-
neria y tankinan cu cayonnan ariba dek lo destrui e ele-
mento di sorpresa necesario pa un take 6xitoso ariba e
lake tankers irreemplazable. Donitz a sigui Raeder como
comandante supremo di Reich Navy na Januari 1943.
E U-156 a keda net bao superficie casi henter dia
Feb. 15 observando, for di su position menos cu dos mills
dilanti Seroe Colorado, actividad di refineria y di haaf.
E problema di mas grand di e tripulacion tabata pa
evita pa nan submarine no worde mira door di boto di
pisca. Poco despues cu nochi a cerra e U-156 a lamta y
casi a topa cu un boto di patrulla. Von dem Borne, kende
tabata na warda, a ordena pa bira liher y a evita e boto.
Suerte tabata cu U-156 na e memento aki; el no a word
Ariba awa atrobe pafor di refineria, e tripulacion a subi
na dek y tabata goza di e luznan y e actividad. Pa mas
cu dos anja nan tur tabata biba y opera den un Europa
scur, y luznan di refineria y di casnan y autonan den
Seroe Colorado tabata sensacional. Von dem Borne, ade-
mas di tin e ward di 0000 te 0400, tabata tambe official
di artileria. El a supervise su grupo den preparation di e
cayonnan di 10.5 cm y 3.7 cm y esun di 2 cm contra avion.
Lt. Just, e promer official di warda, y su grupo tabata
prepare e torpedonan. Awor tabata un asunto di tempo;
e U-156 y su tripulacion tabata cla pa dal.
Pa 0131, Feb. 16 tabata 0801 ora di Berlin U-156
a tira su promer torpedo. Exactamente 48.5 second mas
despues e explosive a penetra costado di Pedernales y a
convert e tankero den un inferno. Pa 0133, un segunda
torpedo for di e tubonan adilanti di U-156 a sink Oranje-
Hartenstein a ordena e submarine adilanti den direc-
cion di haaf, despues a para tres cuarto milla dilanti rif.
E artileria tabata cla. E comando pa tira a worde sigui
pa un boroto ensordedor cu a sagudi henter e boto. Ma-
troos Businger tabata bentA keto ariba dek. Von dem
Borne tabata sintA den otro na pia di e brug unda forza
di e explosion a bente'le. E otro tripulantenan di e cayon-
nan a sigui tira te ora Hartenstein a stop nan como resul-
tado no tabata aparente. E comandante infuria a ordena
e boto pa sali for di e lugar aki, y despues a corre ariba
dek pa mira kiko a socede cu e cayon di 10.5 kibra, e
canyon grand cu el tabata segur lo a produci resultado.
El a haya e contest.
One of the first enemy shells to strike the Western Hemis-
phere bounced off tank 112. Another went through a house
north of the lower tank farm. The shelling injured no one.
Un di e promer balanan enemigo pa dal den Hemisferio
Occidental a bons na tanki 112. Un otro a pasa door di un
cas pa nord di tanknan. E tiramento no a herida ningun hende.
Y -Lu ---r r --- Y -- s
AIRUBA ESSO NEWS
February 16 1962
ARUBA ESSO NEWS February 16, 1962
Kapitanleutnant Werner Hartenstein, in formal commissioning ceremonies,
addressed his crew on the deck of the U-156. A member of the German
navy since 1928, he was a well-decorated, energetic and strict officer.
Kapitanleutnant Werner Hartenstein, den ceremonianan formal di comis-
ionamento, a dirigi palabra na su tripulacion ariba dek di U-156. Un miem-
bro di Navy Aleman desde 1928, el tabata bon decor, y energetic.
Deck armament comprised a 2 cm anti-aircraft
gun, 3.7 and 10.5 cm cannons. The 10.5, which
exploded, below is ice covered on a northern patrol.
Armamento na dek tabata inclui un cayon anti-
aereo di 2 cm, cayon di 3.7 y 10.5 cm. E 10.5,
abao, ta cubri cu ijs ariba un patrulla den norte.
The Nazi flag was raised above the conning tower dur-
ing commissioning ceremonies of the U-156 Sept. 4, 1941.
The boat, built in Bremen, began its patrols from Kiel.
E bandera Nazi a worde hiza ariba e brug durante
ceremonianan di comisionamento di U-156 Sept. 4, 1941.
E submarine, traha na Bremen, a sali for di Kiel, Aleman.
were sensational. Von dem Borne, in addition to having
the midnight to 0400 watch, was also artillery officer. He
supervised his crew in preparing the 10.5 cm and the 3.7
cm cannons and the 2 cm anti-aircraft gun. Lt. Just, the
first watch officer, and his crew readied the torpedoes.
It was now a matter of time; the U-156 and crew were
ready to strike.
At 0131, Feb. 16 it was 0801 Berlin time the
U-156 fired its first torpedo. Precisely 48.5 seconds later
the explosive plowed into the side of the Pedernales and
turned the laker into an inferno. At 0133, a second tor-
pedo from the bow tubes of the U-156 sank the Oranje-
Hartenstein ordered the submarine ahead in the direc-
tion of the harbor, then stopped three-quarters of a mile
off the reef. The artillery was readied. The command to
fire at 0141 was followed by a deafening roar that rocked
the entire boat. Seaman Businger lay motionless on the
deck. Von dem Borne sat stunned propped against the
base of the conning tower where he had been slammed
by the force of the explosion. The other gun crews con-
tinued their fire until Hartenstein halted their action
when no results were apparent. The infuriated commander
ordered the boat out of the area, then charged along the
deck to find out what had happened to the shattered 10.5
cm cannon, the big gun he was sure would have produced
results. He was given the answer.
His crewmen were ready and eager, but at the moment
William van Putten Pedernales Survivor
William van Putten Pedernales Survivor
of action they were over eager. They had failed to remove
the cannon's muzzle plug, which keeps water out of the
barrel when submerged, and the shell exploded at the
barrel's tip. In view of the exploded gun, what would
have transpired Feb. 16, 1942, at Lago if artillery had
remained first in battle procedure can only be left to
The U-156 steamed along the surface to Oranjestad
where three torpedoes were fired at the Arkansas at
Eagle Pier. One rammed the gas free tanker and she
suffered only the force of the explosion; the second was
never found, and the third ground to halt on the beach.
It exploded and killed four demolition men who attempt-
ed to disarm it the next day.
The Lago lake tanker Pedernales was the first. She
was the first lake tanker to be torpedoed; she was the
first ship to be struck by the enemy in the Netherlands
Antilles-Lake Maracaibo area; she was the first target
of the U-156's first Caribbean patrol, and hers was the
explosion that knocked Aruba's front door off its hinges
and let in the horror of war.
The Pedernales was one of more than two dozen tiny.
shallow-draft lake tankers owned by Lago which tire-
lessly churned back and forth between Aruba and Lake
Maracaibo hauling crude to the Lago Refinery, riding in
ballast to the lake. They were, in a way, specialty ships.
They had a specific assignment which made them indis-
pensable. Their average capacity was about 28,000 bar-
rels, and their draft was shallow enough to enable them
to clear at high tide the sandbar that closed the mouth
of Lake Maracaibo. That was during the era before the
bar was lowered and the chore of constant dredging
initiated to keep the channel deep enough to accommodate
The Pedernales was loaded with crude oil when she
anchored off the coral reef that fronts Seroe Colorado.
Herbert McCall, the tanker's master, was asleep in his
quarters. He was brusquely roused from his slumber at
0131 by a dull report that reverberated through the
length of the ship. The captain was blinded by flames
that set his bedroom ablaze. Out on the ship's deck he
saw that her back had been broken by the explosion. IHe
groped his way to the port quarter which was high out
of the water and not burning. The Pedernales captain
left his ill-fated ship with a small cluster of his men in
the only lifeboat that was able to be lowered.
The lifeboat with men injured and burned, some badly,
drifted toward Oranjestad. They were later discovered
and towed to shore. The men in the lifeboat constituted
the majority of the Pedernales' eighteen survivors. Eight
The tanker survived. Charred, twisted and crumpled
she remained afloat. She drifted from the location where
she was torpedoed and took much of her fire with her.
Later in the morning the fire that earlier had enveloped
her burnt itself out. Tugs took the derelict in tow and
muscled her aground near Oranjestad. Shipyard crews
cut the beached hulk in two. The bow and stern, then,
were towed separately back to Lago's shipyard. The two
pieces were fitted together and the stubby Pedernales,
124 feet shorter than she was the night before Feb. 16,
set sail for the United States. There the little laker was
again cut in half, rebuilt and returned to service. In-
cluded in her wartime action was the African campaign.
The second officer burst into the captain's quarters
and roused Herbert Morgan, master of the lake tanker
Oranjestad, from sleep. He excitedly told him the Peder-
nales was afire. Morgan's reply was immediate and terse'
"Prepare to weigh anchor."
Morgan quickly drew on his trousers and raced out of his
cabin. When he reached the snip's lower bridge he was
blinded by a flash. His ship had been torpoeoed at pre-
cisely 0133, Feb. 16 The ship listed immediately! and fire
consumed the entire vessel Her back had been broken and
she started to sink. Morgan returned to his cabin to get his
life jacket. He scrambled to the ship's starboard side and
was flung back by a sheet of flame He attempted to
cross the ship but fell and was pitched back to the flam-
ing starboard quarters The fall fractured his ribs, but
desperation overrode any pain With three mates lie
made his way to the bow of the ruptured ship
The four men huddled together on a small section of
the bow that had not caught fire The men signalled for
help but were never recognized. The Oranjestad settled
gradually. About an hour after she was hit, the Oranje-
stad slipped beneath the water's surface The captain and
his associates were washed off their perch All had life-
jackets except the second officer, who was lost The men
were retrieved from the oily sea about 0330 by a Dutch
Out of every tragedy and emergency arises accounts of
devotion and bravery. Aboard the Oranjestad were two
men who had sailed together for years. They were from
the same island and had lived much of their childhood
together. Theirs was a tight bond of friendship held fast
by their constant and compatible association aboard the
At 0131, Feb. 16, one was in the crew's quarters and
the other was on watch in the engine room The force of
the torpedo's explosion crashed men into bulkheads and
dashed them to the deck. The friend in the crew's quarters
was smashed into a bunk frame In the confusion that
ensued throughout the ship and with head reeling from
the blow, he didn't know what had happened. He, like
many others, gave no thought to enemy action, but fig-
ured that the tanker's petroleum cargo had been ignited
The details of what happened did not interest him at
ARUBAr ESSO NEWS2
The first patrol of the U-156 was
through the North Sea and North
Atlantic Ocean. The majority of
the men pictured here were lost
when the U-boat 156 was sunk.
E promer patrulla di e U-156 tabata
door di Noordzee y Atlantico norte.
Mayoria di e hombernan ariba e
portret aki a perde ora cu submarine
U-156 a worde gesink Maart 8, 1943.
Kapitanleutnant Werner Harten-
stein, center, was a career officer.
He was strict, skilled at the crafts
of sea warfare, and an unrelenting
taskmaster. He was a correct per-
son and ran his ship accordingly.
Kapitanleutnant Werner Harten-
stein, centro, tabata un official di
carera di fuerza naval. El tabata
strict, y habil cu e submarine U-
156, y un trahador sin misericordia.
First Watch Officer D. A. von dem
Borne, now a kapitanleutnant in
the German Federal navy, was the
artillery officer aboard the U-156.
Shattered metal from the 10.5 gun
exploded and ripped off his foot.
Promer official di warda D. A. von
dem Borne, awor un kapitanleut-
nant den fuerza naval federal di
Alemania, tabata e official di tur
artileria a bordo di e submarine 156.
The crew had varied backgrounds.
Hartenstein was an artillery officer,
Von dem Borne served aboard des-
troyers, and Lt. Paul Just, second
from left, was a Luftwaffe aviator.
E tripulacion tabatin experiencia
varii. Hartenstein tabata un an-
terior official di artileria, Von dem
Borne a sirbi a bordo di destroyers,
y Lt. Paul Just, segunda for di ro-
bez, tabata aviador den Luftwaffe.
Su tripulacion tabata cla y dispuesto, pero na moment
di e accion nan tabata ansioso di mas. Nan a lubida di
kita e plug den boca di e canyon, cual ta tene e awa afor
di e barril ora e submarine ta bao awa, y e bala a explota
na punta di e barrel. En vista di e cayon explota, loke lo
a socede na Lago Feb. 16, 1942, si artileria a keda promer
den procedimento di combat, nos por imagine solamente.
E U-156 a corre a lo largo di superficie pa Oranjestad
unda tres torpedo a worde lanza ariba Arkansas na pier
di Eagle. Uno a rasca e tanker liber di gas y el a sufri
solamente forza di e explosion; di dos no a worde hayA
nunca, y di tres a pega ariba canto di lamar. El a ex-
plota y mata cuatro homber cu a purba desarmel'e su
E lake tanker Pedernales di Lago tabata di promer.
E tabata e promer tanquero cu a worde torpediA; e ta-
bata di promer bapor pa worde tira door di enemigo den
area di Antillas Neerlandes y Lago Maracaibo; e tabata
di promer victim di e promer patrulla den Caribe di e
submarine U-156, y esaki tabata e explosion cu a ranca
afor e porta di adilanti di Aruba y a laga horor di guerra
Pedernales tabata uno di como binti-cinco di e tan-
queronan chikito, di poco profundidad, propiedad di Lago,
cu incansablemente tabata haci viaje bai y bini entire
Aruba y Lago Maracaibo treciendo crudo pa refineria di
Lago, y viajando cu ballast pa e lago. Den un sentido,
nan tabata bapor special. Nan tabatin un encargo speci-
fico cu tabata haci nan indispensable. Nan capacidad
promedio tabata mas of menos 28.000 barril, y nan pro-
fundidad tabata tal pa encapacita nan pa pasa, cu lamar
halto, e banki di santo cu tabata obstrui e boca di Lago
Maracaibo. Esaki tabata den e tempo promer cu e banki
a worde drag y e trabao di dragamento constant a
principia pa tene e canal bastante hundo pa acomoda
Pedernales tabata carga di crudo ora el a hancra di-
lanti e rif di coral en frente Seroe Colorado. Herbert
McCall, captain di e tanquero, tabata na sonjo den su
cuarto. El a worde desperta bruscamente pa 0131 door
di un informed urgente cu a rezona door di henter largura
di e bapor. E captain a worde ciega door di vlamnan ilu-
minando su lugar di drumi. Pafor ariba dek di e bapor el
a mira cu su lomba a worde kibra door di e explosion.
Fulando el a alcanza e seccion bapor cu tabata halto den
awa y no tabata kimando. E captain di Pedernales a aban-
dona su bapor malogra hunto cu un grupo di su tripulan-
tenan den e unico boto salbabida cu nan por a baha.
E boto salbabida cu hombernan herida y kima, algun
criticamente, a drief den direction di Oranjestad. Mas
laat nan a word descubri i getouw treci terra. E hom-
bernan den e boto salbabida tabata mayoria di e diez-
ocho sobreviviente di Pedernales. Ocho a perde.
E tanquero a sobrevivi. Kibra, doblA en machica el a
keda drief. El a drief for di e lugar unda el a worde tor-
pediA ainda na candela. Mas laat den mainta e candela a
paga di su mes. Remolcadornan a touw e bapor inafortu-
nado y a lage'le pega na terra den vecindario di Oranje-
stad. Hendenan di shipyard a corta e bodega na dos. E
boeg y parti patras a worde getouw separadamente pa
shipyard di Lago. E dos pidanan a worde pega na otro
y Pedernales, awor 124 pia mas corto cu e tabata e
anochi promer cu Feb. 16, a sali pa Estados Unidos. Aya
e tanquero chikito a worde cortA na mitar atrobe, recon-
strui y debolbi na servicio. Den su accion di guerra tin
inclui e campanja Africano.
E segunda official a corre drenta den cabin di e cap-
tan y a desperta Herbert Morgan, captain di lake tanker
Oranjestad, for di sonjo. Excitadamente el a bise'le cu
Pedernales tabata na candela. E contest di Morgan ta-
bata imediata y corto: "Prepara pa tira hancro."
Liheramente Morgan a bisti su carson y a corre sali
for di e cabin. Ora el a yega e brug abao di e bapor, el a
worde ciega pa un flash. Su bapor a worde torpediA
exactamente 0133, Feb. 16. E bapor a kantel mes ora y
candela grand a rondone'le. Su lomba tabata kibra y el
a cuminza sink. Morgan a bolbe su cabina pa busca su
salbabida. El a purba yega estribor di e bapor, pero el a
worde wantA pa un panjuelo di candela. El a purba cruza
e bapor, pero el a worde benta ariba e costado estribor na
candela. E caida a fracture su ribchi, pero desesperacion
no tabata permit sentiment di dolor. Cu tres otro mari-
nero nan a alcanza boeg di e bapor torpedia.
E cuatro hombernan a grupa ariba un seccion chikito
di e boeg cu no a pega candela. E hombernan a yama pa
auxilio pero nunca nan no a worde tendi. Oranjestad ta-
bata sink gradualmente. Mas of menos un ora despues cu
el a worde tirA, Oranjestad a slip bao superficie di awa. E
captain y su companjeronan a worde labA di nan lugar di
sconde. Tur tabatin salbabida except e segunda official,
kende a perde. E hombernan a worde saca for di e lamar
yen di azeta pa mas of menos 0330 door di un boto Ho-
landes di patrulla.
For di tur tragedia y emergencia ta sali relatonan di
devocion y valentia. A bordo di Oranjestad tabatin dos
homber cu a nabega hunto durante hopi anja. Nan tabata
for di e mes isla y nan a pasa un gran parti di nan huben-
tud hunto. Entre nan tabata existi un lazo fuerte di ami-
stad fortificA door di nan companjerismo a bordo di
Pa 0131, Feb. 16, uno tabata den apartamento di tripu-
lantenan y e otro tabata na warda den sala di maquina.
Forza di explosion di e torpedo a dal homber contra mu-
raya y a tira otro na dek. E amigo den apartamento di
tripulantenan a dal contra muraya. Den e confusion cu
tabata reina den henter e bapor y cu cabez ta draai di e
golpe, el no tabata sabi kiko ta socede. El, mescos cu
hopi otro, no a pensa ningun moment ariba accion ene-
migo, pero a pensa cu carga di petroleo di e tankero a
cende pa cualkier descuido.
E detayenan di loke a socede no tabata interese'le tam-
poco. El tabata sabi cu e bapor a sufri danjo; e tabata
na candela y su amigo tabata un camina bao dek. Otro
tripulantenan tabata pasa den esfuerzo desespera pa
abandon e inferno cu un tempo tabata nan lugar di
traha y nan cas na lamar. El a informa tocante su amigo,
pero ningun hende a mire'le. Cu poco preocupacion pa su
mes el a bring pasa door di e human, vlam y dek sushi
na azeta den un esfuerzo pa localiza e sala di maquina
unda el tabatin segur cu su amigo tabata sea cerra of
heridA. Vlamnan, manera ola halto ariba mancha di azeta
cayente tabata envolve e bapor. El a desparce paden di e
bapor pa salba su amigo. Nunca el a bolbe for di e camina
cu el mes a prefer.
E homber aki y e bomber cu el a bai pa salba tabata
entire e diez-cinco perdi a bordo di Oranjestad. Diez a
sobrevivi. Nan, mescos cu hopi otro e anochi aki, a land
bai terra of tabata tan afortunado di worde recogi door
di boto chikito. Ademas di botonan chikito di patrulla
Holandes, Marine Department a despacha tur boto chikito
cu e tabatin pa busca sobreviviente. Joe Fernando. un di
e actual captannan di remolcador di Lago, a bai afor cu
e remolcador Standard y a salba tres bomber. A bordo di
e ponedor di reda, Aruba, R. N. Wilkie di Marine Depart-
ment tabata busca tripulantenan di Pedernales y Oranje-
William van Putten a bini Aruba for di St. Eustatius.
El a cuminza traha cu lake fleet na 1930, y den diez-un
anja di viaja bai y bini cu tanquero entire haaf di San
Nicolas y Lago Maracaibo, nunca el a mira of pasa door
di un incident grand na lamar. El tabata stima bida
di lamar, y tabata gusta su trabao como fireman a bordo
di Pedernales. E marinero cortico y fuerte tabata goza
specialmente e anochinan Caribense. E anochi aki, poco
despues di 1 a.m., Feb. 16, tabata un anochi brillante, cu
hopi streak na cielo. E serenidad di e moment a causa
Van Putten di posa un rato na dek estribor; e luna cla
tabata ilumina su vista di awanan keto y tranquilo.
Tabata un viaje sin event, e ultimo aki, for di e lago
pa Aruba. Awor Pedernales tabata sintA abao den awa,
su tankinan yen di un carga di crudo, wardando cu pa-
senshi na hancro pafor di haaf. Pronto lo tin un lugar di
mara den haaf di San Nicolas y el lo move for di aki.
Pero tabatin trabao pa worde haci den cuarto di ma-
quina y Van Putten a bira pa bai abao, kibrando cu e
tranquilidad di e anochi cu tabata rondone'le. Nunca el
a yega abao. Sin e minimo spiertamento y sin e minimo
realizacion di loke a socede, e serenidad di Van Putten y
Pedernales a explota na candela, staal dobla y azeta ki-
mando. E fireman di Pedernales no tabata sabi e ora,
pero e promer torpedo lanzA door di e U-156 a raca su
marca. E violencia di e erupcion e tira Van Putten ariba
dek. El a purba lamta para, pero el a bolbe cai ariba un
dek cubri cu azeta y candela y el tabata mahosmente ge-
February 16, 1962
ARUBA ESSO NEWS
ARUBA ESSO NEWS
TWENTY YEARS AGO
Four Logo lake tankers were
torpedoed Feb. 16, and the
refinery was the first Western
Hemisphere land target hit bq
, n- -.
all. He knew the ship had been hurt; she was aflame, and
his friend was somewhere below deck. Other crew mem-
bers stumbled by in desperate efforts to leave the inferno
that once had served as their place of work and sea-going
home. He inquired about his friend, but none had seen
him. With little regard for himself he fought through
smoke, flame and oil-slick decks in an effort to get to the
location in the engine room where he was sure his friend
was either trapped or injured. Flames, mounted like
riders on black, ugly steeds of hot oil, rolled through
torpedo-ruptured seams. He disappeared inside the ship
to save his friend. He never returned from his chosen
This man and the man he went to save were among the
fifteen lost aboard the Oranjestad. Ten survived. They, as
did many others that night, swam ashore or were fortu-
nate enough to be picked up by small craft. In addition
to Dutch patrol boats, the Marine Department dispatched
every small vessel it had to search for survivors. Joe
Fernando, one of Lago's present tugboat captains, took
the tug Standard out and rescued three men. Aboard the
net tender, Aruba, R. N. Wilkie of the Marine Depart-
ment looked for crewmen of the Pedernales and the
William van Putten had come to Aruba from St. Eusta-
tius. He joined the lake fleet in 1930, and in eleven years
of tanker shuttling between San Nicolas Harbor and
Lake Maracaibo had never seen or experienced major
incident at sea. He enjoyed sea life, and found his fire-
man duties aboard the Pedernales satisfying. The short,
stocky seaman especially enjoyed the Caribbean nights.
This night, shortly after 1 a.m., Feb. 16, was a typically
bright, starry night. The serenity of the moment caused
Van Putten to pause on the starboard deck; the bright
moon illuminated his view of quiet, untelling waters.
It had been an uneventful trip, this last one, from the
lake to Aruba. Now the Pedernales squatted low in the
water, her tanks weighted by a capacity load of crude
oil, patiently waiting at anchor outside the refinery's sea
terminal. Soon a berth would be available in San Nicolas
Harbor and she would ease away from her roadstead.
But there were duties to be performed in the engine
room and Van Putten turned to go below shrugging off
the bliss that had, with night's inducement, enveloped
him. He never entered the hatchway. Without the slight-
est warning and without the slightest realization of what
had happened, Van Putten's and the Pedernales' sere-
nity exploded in flame, twisted steel and burning oil. The
Pedernales' fireman didn't know it then, but the first
torpedo fired by U-156 had hit its mark. The violence of
the eruption spun Van Putten to the deck. He tried to
regain his footing but fell again on a deck covered with
oil and fire and canted at a severe angle. The explosion
ripped the Pedernales amidships and sprung her bow and
stern upward like a warped board. She listed heavily to
On hands and knees, his right arm and back covered
with searing oil and flame, Van Putten searched the
ship's stern for an avenue of escape. In that moment he
saw a phosphorescent blur streak through the water into
the side of the Oranjestad. Another explosion rent the
night and the tiny tanker at anchor astern of the Peder-
nales buckled and spewed flaming oil from its tanks.
Motivated by fear and subsistence, Van Putten clambered
to the port side of the burning ship. How, he remembers
not, and when he reached the port lifeboat station frenz-
ied crewmen were chopping the only usable lifeboat free
of its moorings. He flung himself into the boat as it
crashed over the side. It knifed crazily into the water
Van Putten clung desperately to the lifeboat; others
climbed in and pulled the injured out of the water. The
lifeboat carried its burned and half-burned survivors
clear of the twisted hulk that once was the Pedernales.
The little band huddled in the boat and tried to bring
solace to each other and particularly to the two gravely
injured seamen in their midst. It was a tragic night and
the horror dragged on hour after hour. Men, whose in-
juries needed ministering, drifted aimlessly in a lifeboat
without means of propulsion the oars had slipped away
when the life craft was dumped over the Pedernales' side.
The drifting lifeboat was sighted off Oranjestad at
daybreak and towed to shore by a fishing boat. The
badly burned chief steward died of burns in the life boat.
The third enigneer died moments after his arrival at San
Pedro Hospital. Van Puttea and the others were treated
and transferred to Lago Hospital. Not long after, Van
Putten's burns healed without scarring and he returned
to the shuttle. His next ship was the Quirequire; but
it's the Pedernales he never forgets. Well he remembers
the fear ever present during the remaining years
of the war -that his tanker would be the object of
another U-boat attack.
He left the lake fleet in 1948, and today is a foreman
for one of Lago's paint contractors.
Francisco G. Thomas was a shipmate of Van Putten's
on the Pedernales. He, too, drifted in the lifeboat, but
more fortunate than some others, had evacuated his
crew's quarters and the burning ship unscathed He was
asleep when it happened. Relieved of his quartermaster
duties earlier in the evening when the tanker had been
secured at her roadstead, he tumbled into bed. The ex-
plosion's roar and surge through the ship woke Thomas.
His scramble to the deck was instinctive. At the time of
the detonation, he had no idea of what had happened and
was not going to pause to ponder, either. His only desire
was to get off the ship. The roll of the tanker tossed him
to the deck. He experienced no flames, just oil which ran
through the passageways. Awkwardly, but as speedily
as the tilted, oiled deck would allow, Thomas made his
way to the port lifeboat station.
As Thomas reached the port stern quarter, he saw
the Oranjestad explode into a ball of flame. Fear moved
in on him. He realized then that the war in Europe and
the Atlantic had moved into the Caribbean.
Thomas returned to his home in Bonaire after the
Pedernales sinking. He had been in Lago's lake fleet since
1936 and planned to return in a week or so. He did and
his next ship was the Andino. Thomas and the ships on
which he served were never molested by the enemy again.
In fact, he never saw another ship hit during his shuttles
between Aruba and the lake plus one long trip his shipl
made as part of a huge convoy to the United States.
Thomas left the lake fleet in 1956, but still goes to sea.
Whenever he has the opportunity, he signs aboard the
tankers on the lake run. His last was a Norwegian ship.
When the ship's charter ends, he comes ashore and waits
The Andino nearly got itself in the middle of enemy
action, though. The date was Feb. 15, 1942. The Andino,
in the lake with a full load of crude destined for Aruba,
had burned out her boilers. The Quirequire took her in
tow and prepared for the long night trip across the
lake's sandbar and thence to Aruba. As fate would have
it, the preparation of the tow caused the two ships to
miss the tide and they had to remain inside the lake until
the next high tide which would occur during the morning
of Feb. 16. The two ships never made the trip Feb. 16,
however; they were detained inside the lake because of
enemy action. Had the two ships not missed the tide, they
would have been sitting ducks in the same general area
where U-boat torpedoes sent the San Nicolas, Tia Juana
and Monagas to the bottom.
None of these lakers was sunk by Hartenstein but by
others of the Neuland Group positioned along the Antil-
les-Lake Maracaibo route. In concert with Hartenstein,
the others had been ordered to strike Feb 16 shortly
after U-156 initiated the operation.
Ermencio J. Semeleer, a five-year veteran of the lake
fleet shuttle, stood in the middle of the engine room of
the Tia Juana. He stood still and silent completely intent
on the operation of the engines under his watch. His legs
were spread slightly to absorb the roll of the heavily-
laden laker as she plowed through choppy seas on her
return voyage to Aruba. He folded his stocky arms
across a broad chest and stared at the ship's clock. It
was exactly 0230. The date was Feb. 16, 1942.
At that exact moment, an explosion sent Semeleer
sprawling headfirst into a pump, over which hung the
clock that recorded indelibly in the fireman's mind the
time the U-boat torpedo ended the life of the Tia Juana.
His crash into the pump was absorbed by fending arms
He held on, and never lost his footing even as the ship
The U-156 also fired at a tanker at Eagle Pier. One torpedo
ended on the beach where it exploded and killed four dem-
olition men who attempted to disarm the missile the next day.
E U-156 a tira tambe ariba un tanker na pier di Eagle. I'n
torpedo a finaliza ariba canto di lamar unda el a explota y
mata cuatro homber cu a purha desarme le e siguiente dia.
heeled over sharply. There was no fire and no oil in the
engine room, but the wrenching force of the explosion
had created a hazard almost as great: jammed doors.
Semeleer pulled his way across the engine room to an
exit. As with others whom had been torpedoed, he did not
know what had happened but instinctively knew he had
to abandon ship. The door to escape wouldn't open. His
trial was further complicated by the list of the ship which
slid him away from the door.
To hold his balance was, alone, an almost unmanage-
able feat without the added task of forcing open the
door. Semeleer exerted all the might and weight he could
muster and somehow, miraculously perhaps, swung the
jammed door enough to get his head through. He squash-
ed the remainder of his body through the tiny opening.
On deck he was seized with not only the urgency of
the situation, but the degree of his plight. He was high
out of the water on the top side of a listing ship The
patch of deck he stood on was the only part of the ship
not entirely enveloped in flame A fellow crewman hung
over the railing. He yelled to him, but the man did not
respond. Semeleer grabbed the railing and pulled himself
to the crewman: He shook the man. Still no response. A
stunned Semeleer suddenly received the silent message
of death. He turned awa\ from the body and thought of
himself. A lifeboat swung nearby, and he attempted to
lower it. The venture was hopeless. The angle of the list
was so great it caused the loosened lifeboat to crash into
the ship's funnel and then tumble into flaming oil.
Semeleer was not an adept swimmer and he feared the
acean, its size and, at that moment, its dark, ominous
appearance. Fire was a greater fear. Semeleer, alone,
afraid and without a life vest, lowered himself down a
rope into the vastness of a dark, rough sea.
He had no true idea of how long he floundered about
in the water trying to hold his head up. It didn't seem
too long after he had left the ship that he felt a muffled
concussion through the water as the Tia Juana's boilers
exploded and the ship foundered. Still later lie was ex-
hausted and soaked with oil from a period of exposure
that seemed an eternity In one of those unexphcable
quirks of fate and fortune, the solitary Semeleer, half-
drowned and body leaded with fatigue, drifted into fivt
other Tia Juana survivors, all supported by one life
jacket. The others grabbed Semeleer and propped him
up between them.
The watery entourage continued to drift A tanker
came into view, and slowed almost as it she were looking
for survivors. Her crew humanely but unwisel\ cast a
spotlight over the water The men in the water identified
the vessel as the Gulf boat, Monagas, and elatedly began
to swim toward her. Semeleer refused to go He had had
his share of swimming for the night and didn't feel phy-
sically able to continue The five left the life jacket with
him and beat through the waves in the direction of the
The men quickly disappeared from Semeleer's view. He
was alone again in the middle of the Caribbean. After an
undefinable period of time -time had ceased to have
meaning to Semeleer -the Monagas blew up in a sheet
of flames. Another Nazi torpedo had scored a direct hit,
which was officially recorded at 0330
Almost as if there was comfort or security to he gained
in moving away from an enemy target, Semeleer attempt-
ed to swim in the opposite direction from the burning
Monagas. With the aid of the life vest it was a little
easier to remain afloat. He moved his arms slowly, kicked
his legs easily; his entire body ached with cold and ex-
Another tanker appeared There were bound to be many
since this was the well-travelled route from Lake Mara-
caibo to the Netherlands Antilles. This sea action took
place in an area roughly ten to fifteen miles in radius off
Venezuela's Punta Macolla. The tanker Semeleer spotted
appeared to be bearing down in the vicinity of the burn-
ing Monagas to investigate She slowed to an extremely
cautious pace, and this undoubtedly contributed to Seme-
leer's rescue. Semeleer prayed that they would see him
But how? A lone figure in the water at dawn would be
February 16. 1962
2 February 16, 1962 ARUBA ESSO NEWS
The Pedernales was the first tanker hit by
the U-156. Although she exploded and burn-
ed fiercely, she never foundered. Her charred
hulk drifted toward Oranjestad where Lago
tugs shoved her up on the beach the next day.
Pedernales tabata e promer tankero gedal
door di U-156. Maske el a explota y kima
fuertemente, el no a sink. E casca kimi a
drief den direction di Oranjestad unda re-
molcadornan di Lago a pushe'le ariba terra.
leun. E explosion a parti Pedernales na mitar y a manda
su parti adilanti y )atras pa laria manera un hero bira.
El tabata leun pisa pa estribor
Ariba man cu pia, su braza drechi y lomba cubri cu
azeta cayente, Van Putten a busca na banda patras di e
bapor pa un lugar di salbacion Na e moment aki el a
mira un obhcto luciente corre over di awa den costado di
Oranjestad. Un otro explosion a rompe silencio di anochi
y e tanquero chikito na nancro patras di Pedernales a
kraak y a cuminza scupi azeta kimando for di tankman.
Motive pa temor y subsistencia, Van Putten a subi na
costado bapor di e bapor kimando. Con, el no ta corda, y
ora el a yega na lugar di e boto salbabida, tripulantenan
frantic tabata corta e unico boto usable for di su agu-
ante El a benta su mes den e boto mientras el a sali cai
na banda. El a dal den awa cu su nanishi promer.
Van Putten a tene desesperadamente na e boto salba-
bida; otro a subi aden y a saca esnan herida for di den
awa. E boto salbabida a niba su sobrevivientenan kima
for di e bodega cu un tempo tabata Pedernales. E grupo
chikito den e boto salbabida tabata consola un cu otro y
particularmente esnan seriamente herida. Tabata un
anochi tragic y e horror tabata continue ora tras ora.
Hombernan. kende nan herida tabatin mester di trata-
mento, tabata drief sin destine den un boto salbabida sin
medio di propulsion e remanan a bai perdi ora e boto
a worde tira abao for di costado di Pedernales.
E boto salbabida a word mira dilanti Oranjestad ora
di dia a habri y getouw pa terra door di un barco di pisca.
Den e boto salbabida e chief steward malamente herida a
muri. E tercer maquinista a muri algun moment despues
di su yegada na San Pedro Hospital. Van Putten y e
otronan a worde trata y transfer pa hospital di Lago.
No a dura largo pa Van Putten su kimaduranan cura sin
ni laga marca y el a bolbe den servicio. Su siguiente bapor
tabata Quirequire, pero ta Pedernales ta esun cu el no por
lubida nunca. Masha bon el ta corda e temor semper pre-
sente durante e siguiente anjanan di guerra, cu su tan-
quero lo ta obheto di un otro take di submarine.
El a laga lake fleet na 1948, y awe el ta un foreman cu
un contratista di verfmento na Lago.
Francisco G. Thomas tabata un mariners hunto cu Van
Putten ariba Pedernales. El tambe a drief den e boto sal-
babida, pero siendo mas afortunado cu algun otro, el a
laga su cuarto y e bapor sin ningun marca. El tabata na
sonjo ora e tiramento a secede. Releva di su trabao como
quartermaster ora e bapor a hancra mas tempran den
anochi, el a cai ariba cama. E boroto di e explosion y e
resurgimento a bordo di e bapor a desperte'le. Instintiva-
mente el a coi camina pa dek. Na moment di e explosion
el no tabatin un idea kiko a secede y el no kier a para
pa puntra tampoco. Su unico deseo tabata pa abandon
e bapor. E loramento di e tanquero a bente'le abao. El no
a haya kima di vlam, solamente el a toca cu azeta cu
tabata corre door di e pasadanan. Cu dificultad, pero tan
liher cu e dek gekantel y sushi na azeta por permit,
Thomas a bai pa direction ii e boto salbabida.
Ora Thomas a yega banda patras, el a mira Oranjestad
explota den un bola di candela. El a haya miedo. El a rea-
liza e era cu guerra na Europa y Atlantico a translada
Thomas a bolbe pa su cas na Bonaire despues di sink-
mento di Pedernales. El tabata den lake fleet di Lago
desde 1936 y el tabatin intencion pa bolbe den mas of
menos un siman. El a bolbe y su siguiente bapor tabata
Andino. Thomas y e bapornan ariba cual el a nabega no
a worde molestiA mas door di enemigo. En efecto, nunca
el a mira un bapor worde tirA mas durante su viajenan
entire Aruba y e lago, y un viaje largo cu su barco a haci
como parti di un convooi grand pa Estados Unidos.
Thomas a laga lake fleet na 1956, pero ainda el ta
nabega. Ki ora cu el tin chens, el ta firm a bordo di tan-
queronan pa haci viaje pa e lago. Su ultimo tabata un
bapor Norwega. Ora charter di e bapor terminal, el ta
baha y ta ward un otro.
Ermencio J. Semeleer, un veteran di cinco anja di lake
fleet, tabata parA mei-mei di e cuarto di maquina di Tia
Juana. El tabata para keto y silencioso completamente
cu atencion ariba trahamento di e motornan bao su cuido.
Su pianan tabata poco apart pa absorb e loramento di e
tanquero carga mientras esaki tabata cruza e lamar tur-
bulente di vuelta pa Aruba. El a cruza su braza cortico
over di un pecho hancho y tabata waak e oloshi di bapor.
Tabata exactamente 0230. E fecha tabata Feb. 16, 1942.
Na e exacto moment aki, un explosion a manda Seme-
leer di cabez den un pomp, ariba cual e oloshi tabata
colgi cual a registra indeliblemente den mente di e fire-
man e ora cu e torpedo a terminal bida di Tia Juana.
Su caida den e pomp a worde absorb door di brazanan
di aguante. El a dal tene, y nunca a perde su tenida, ni
ora e bapor a leun fuertemente. No tabatin ni candela of
azeta den e cuarto di maquina, pero e forza trociente di e
explosion a cria un peligro casi mes grand: portanan
trance. Semeleer a ranca pasa door di un salida. Mescos
cu otro cu a worde torpedia, el no tabata sabi kiko a
secede, pero el tabata sabi cu el master abandon e bapor.
E port di salida no kier a habri. Su esfuerzonan a worde
complica ainda mas door di e leunmento di e bapor cual
tabata hacie'le slip for di e porta.
Pa tene su balance solamente ya tabata un esfuerzo
sobrehumano sin e tarea adicional di forza habri e porta.
Semeleer a eherce tur su forza y peso cu el tabata por y,
milagrosamente podiser, el a move e porta trancA bas-
tante pa pasa su cabez. El a pusha e rest di su curpa
door di e apertura chikito.
Na dek el a realize no solamente seriedad di e situa-
cion, pero tambe di su mes mala suerte. El tabata halto
ariba awa, na e banda ariba di un bapor geleun. E pida
dek cu el tabata para ariba tabata e unico parti di e ba-
per cu no tabata totalmente rondonA cu vlam. Un otro
tripulante tabata colga over di e railing. El a grite'le,
pero e homber no a contest. Semeleer a coi e railing tene
y a ranca su mes den direction di e tripulante. El a sagudi
e homber. Ainda ningun contest. Un Semeleer asustia a
recibi e mensaje silencioso di morto. El a kita for di e
cadaver y a cuminza pensa ariba su mes. Un boto salba-
bida tabata cerca di dje, y el a purba los e. Tabata en
vano. E leunmento di e bapor tabata asina grand cu el a
causa e boto di cai ariba schoorsteen y despues den azeta
Semeleer no tabata gran landador y el tabata teme
lamar, su grandura y, na e moment aki, su aparencia
scur y amenazante. Sinembargo, candela tabata un peligro
mas grand. Semeleer, su sol, cu miedo y sin salbabida,
a laga su mes baha den un lamar scur y brute.
El no tabatin un idea exact di con largo el tabata
drief den awa purbando pa tene cabez na laria. No tabata
parce'le much largo despues cu el a larga e bapor cu el
a sinti un concussion dof den awa ora e boilers di Tia
Juana a explota y e bapor a sink. Mas laat el tabata morto
cansi y muha di azeta for di un period di exposicion cu
tabata parce un eternidad. Den un di e inexplicable vuelta
di destine y fortune, e solitario Semeleer, mitar hogan y
curpa yen di cansancio, a drief contra cinco otro sobre-
viviente di Tia Juana, tur teni na un salbabida. E otronan
a tene Semeleer y a pushe'le entire nan.
E grupo a sigui drief. Un tanquero a bini na vista, y a
reduci velocidad manera cu el tabata rondiando sobre-
viviente. Su tripulantenan humanamente, pero no muy
sabio, a tira un spot-light over di awa. E hombernan den
awa a identifica e bapor como e tanquero Gulf, Monagas,
y yen di animacion a cuminza landa bai na dje. Semeleer
a nenga di bai. Ya el a land bastante durante anochi y
el no tabata sigui capaz pa continue. Nan cinco a laga e
salbabida cu ne y a cuminza landa den direction di e tan-
Rapidamente e hombernan a desparce for di vista di
Semeleer. El tabata sol atrobe mei-mei den Caribe. Des-
pues di un period largo sin fin tempo no tabatin
nificacion mas pa Semeleer Monagas a explota den un
monton di vlam. Un otro torpedo Nazi a dal su marca,
cual oficialmente a worde anota pa 0330.
Casi manera cu tabatin comodidad of seguridad pa
worde ganA kitando for di un marca enemigo, Semeleer
a purba landa den direction contrario di Monagas ki-
mando. Cu ayudo di e salbabida tabata un poco mas facil
pa keda flota. El tabata move su braza poco poco, mescos
cu su pianan; henter su curpa tabata dolor di frio y can-
Un otro tankero a aparece. Lo tin hopi mas como esaki
ta ruta hopi frecuentA entire Lago Maracaibo y Antillas
Neerlandes. E action nautico aki a tuma lugar na un sitio
mas of menos diez pa diez-cinco milla den radius
dilanti Punta Macolla di Venezuela. E tankero cu Seme-
leer a mira aparentemente tabata bini den vecindario di
Monagas pa investiga. El a reduci velocidad mas tanto
possible, y esaki sin duda a contribui na salbacion di Seme-
leer. Semeleer tabata reza pa nan mire'le. Pero con? Un
figure solitario den awa den oranan di mainta lo ta casi
impossible pa mira. E homber den awa tabata segur cu
comandante di e submarine Aleman lo mira e tankero
halto. Awor Semeleer tabata realize masha bon e causa
di explosionnan di Tia Juana y di Monagas.
E bon fortune di Semeleer a keda cu ne. E tripulacion
di e tanker Ramona di Shell a tende e explosion y mira
Monagas kima. E promer reaction di e tripulantenan ta-
bata cu un di e boilers di e bapor a bula. Ramona a reduce
velocidad y a sigui cuidadosamente den direction di e
bapor malogrado. Captan di e tanker a yama tur tripu-
lante na dek pa waak pa hende den awa. Un tripulante a
mira e solitario Semeleer. E tankero di Shell a para y a
hize'le a bordo. Ora nan a puntre'le kiko a secede, el a
grita: "Torpedo. Torpedo."
E lake tanker Ramona di Shell tabata halto y liher
ariba su viaje di vuelta pa e lago. Su tripulacion tabata
haci su trabao sin otro preocupacion sino propio opera-
cion di e bapor. E viajenan bai y bini entire Curagao y
Lago Maracaibo generalmente tabata sin event. Vicente
G. Provence, boatswain di Ramona, tabata geleun na e
railing poco promer di cambia e warda pa 0400. No cu
tabata preocupa Provence of probablemente cualkier tri-
pulante como na lamar dia ta pasa den anochi y anochi ta
pasa den dia sin much diferencia, pero esaki tabata Feb.
E homber cu el tabata pa releva a bisa Provence cu
parce tabatin algun incident stranjo ta socede y el
tabata puntra su mes si podiser un bapor tabata na peli-
gro. Mas tempran, el a conta, el tin idea cu el a mira vlam
den direction di e refineria na Aruba; despues vlam a lo
largo di e ruta pa e lago. Su preocupacion a recorre door
di e tripulacion di Ramona, y consternacion di e homber-
nan tocante loke nan no tabata sabi, a trece nan pa dek
di e bapor. Di repente nan a realize; nan a tende explo-
The Pedernales was cut in two. The bow and stern sections
were floated to Lago where they were joined. A stubby
Pedernales, 124 feet shorter, sailed to the States to be rebuilt.
Pedernales a kibra na dos. E seccionnan di boeg y di atras
a worde treci Lago unda a pega nan na otro. Un Peder-
nales cortico a viaja pa Estados Unidos pa reconstruction.
F- '' -- ~Z _I
ARUBA ESSO NEWS
2 Februar) 16, 1962
ARUBA ESSO NEWS February 16, 1962
TWENTY YEARS AGO
Torpedoes from the U-156
buckled the Pedernales and
sank the Oranjestad just off
the Seroe Colorado reef
almost impossible to see. The bobbing man felt sure that second
the German submarine commanders would see the high- with
riding tanker. Semeleer was now well aware of the cause over
of the Tia Juana's and the Monagas's explosions. marii
Semeleer's good fortune remained with him. The Shell Th
tanker Ramona's crew heard the explosion and saw the plane
Monagas flash. The crew's first reaction was that one of Ramc
the ship's boilers had blown. The Ramona slowed and vors.
proceeded cautiously in the direction of the distressed hit tv
ship. The tanker's captain summoned all hands to the tanke
deck to watch for men in the water. One crewman spotted the b
the lone Semeleer. The Shell tanker stopped and pulled face i
him aboard. When asked what had happened, he shouted: The
"Torpedo! Torpedo!" one g
The Shell lake tanker Ramona rode light and high in ing t
the water on her return trip to the lake. Her crew went sense:
about their duties unconcerned with all but the proper away
operation of their ship. The trips back and forth between but h
Curagao and Lake Maracaibo were usually uneventful, unable
Vicente G. Provence, Ramona boatswain, lolled about the The
railing shortly before relieving the watch at 0400. Not eight
that it mattered to Provence or probably any crewmem- were
ber since at sea days run into nights and nights into days gine
without much note of differentiation, but this was Feb. 16. flame
The man he was to relieve told Provence there seemed and f
to be untoward incidents about and wondered if some a sec
ships were in distress. Earlier, he related, he thought he Her 1
saw flashes in the direction of the Aruba refinery; then The
later flashes along the lake route. His uneasiness seemed left b
to drift through the Ramona's crew, and the men's cons- tanke
ternation over what they knew not brought them Tia J
to the ship's deck. It suddenly came upon them. They Juana
heard the explosion; they saw the flames. The tanker lake
cruised in to assist. A man was sighted in the water. Prove
The captain of the Ramona ordered full astern to pick up earlier
the survivor. As the ship's forward motion decreased time
then stopped, a phosphorescent blur whipped past her She
bow. In mi
Pulled out of the water and asked what had happened, her c
the wet and oily figure inside the life jacket identified surfa
himself as a Tia Juana fireman and shouted: "Torpedo' survi
Torpedo!" of Fe
The captain of Ramona screamed for full ahead. Simul- numb
taneous with the order was the realization of what had Sen
just knifed past his bow. The forward motion of the for ti
Ramona was none too soon, and just enough. A second red b
torpedo ripped the surface of the water off the ship's tanke
stern. Underway with all the speed her engines could nota.
generate, the Ramona captain employed zig-zag evasive found
maneuvers. He knew he had been sighted by one sub- voyage
marine, and he wasn't at all sure how much determina- joined
tion and vengeance had been incited by the U-boat com- men
mander's annoyance at having missed the Ramona twice. relief
At 0400, fear gripped the Ramona's crew when they
heard the report of another explosion. No flame was
readily visible. Fifteen minutes later, the crew heard a Th
The gun crew of the 10.5 cm swing the bow cannon star-
board during a practice session. This is the cannon that
exploded Feb. 16 when the U-156 shelled the refinery.
E tripulantenan di e cayon di 10.5 cm ta swing e cayon di
boeg pa banda drechi durante entrenamento. Esaki ta e
cayon cu a explota ora cu U-156 a tira ariba refineria.
Id explosion. The captain of the Ramona was struck
the cold realization that he was sailing his ship
waters that hid two, maybe more, enemy sub-
e Ramona cut short her dash to the lake when
s appeared at dawn. Safe with aerial protection, the
na slowed again to continue her search for survi-
It was then the crew saw the tanker that had been
twice. Ahead were the remains of the torpedoed lake
r San Nicolas. She stood vertically, her stern on
bottom and her bow jutting through the water's sur-
n ugly defiance of her tormentor.
e crew of the Ramona sighted small knots of men;
roup of six clung to the wreckage of a lifeboat and
others supported themselves on a capsized small
Of the ten only eight were pulled aboard the rescu-
anker. Two men slipped beneath the waves, their
s numbed by exhaustion with rescue arm's lengths
One who was lost grasped a line from the Ramona,
is strength had ebbed during the ordeal and he was
e to hold it.
e Ramona and the Lago tanker Yamanota rescued
een San Nicolas crewmen. Seven were lost. Three
killed instantly when the first torpedo hit the en-
room. The San Nicolas listed abruptly, but did not
. This apparently concerned the U-boat commander,
fifteen minutes after firing his first torpedo he sped
ond destructive missile into the San Nicolas's stern.
hull ruptured, she settled quickly stern first.
e Ramona carried her survivors to Maracaibo, and
behind the hulk of the San Nicolas, a burning Gulf
r, Monagas, and an oil slick that marked where the
Fuana had sunk beneath the Caribbean. The Tia
was the first hit of those ships sunk along the
route. The watch on the Ramona had mentioned to
nce the feeling of untoward incidents, and that
r he had seen flashes. What he didn't know at the
was that he had seen the Tia Juana explode.
was torpedoed amidships and flamed immediately.
nutes she heeled over sharply. Water rushed through
rumpled side and eased her below a flame-covered
ce taking seventeen of her crew with her. Only nine
ved. Of the four Lago lakers torpedoed the morning
b 16, the crew of the Tia Juana suffered the largest
er of casualties.
neleer and other survivors were kept in Maracaibo
wo weeks and then flown back to Aruba. Not deter-
y the incident, the stocky fireman returned to lake
r duty and served on the Quirequire and the Jamn-
He also was aboard the tanker Valeria when she
ered March 7, 1944, during an Aruba to Panama
:e. Provence left the Shell fleet during the war. He
SLago's Marine Department Aug. 4, 1947. Both
are now on Lago towboats. Semeleer is an oiler and
tug engineer and Provence is a tug engineer.
e reactions of Seroe Colorado residents who leapt
their beds at 0131 Feb. 16 were varied. They as
s had and others would until the war burnt itself
eacted in degrees of curiosity, fear, indifference,
panic. Families whose bungalows overlooked the
n were awakened to a war that had spilled itself and
Le fire and destruction that goes with it at their
doorsteps. The Fred C. Eaton family was one
:ht abruptly to the face of war. The Eatons lived in
front bungalow 12, which no longer exists. The
ng area in the residence was away from the sea.
glow of the burning Pedernales, however, disturbed
wakened her husband and pointed to the orange
that glanced through the louvers and flickered erie
rs of light across the ceiling. Eaton rose and from
ront of his house he saw the burning tanker. His
diate conclusion, comforted in the complacency
seemed to have predominated the thought of most
nts, was that someone must have been careless; it
have been an accident. The thought of enemy attack
entered Eaton's mind.
peered into the lagoon area watching the flames
t. A second ship, farther downwind, exploded. Com-
ncy still was the guiding attitude. Thought Eaton:
rk from the burning ship blown by the Trade Winds
have ignited the second tanker. A display of pyro-
ics zoomed overhead. Eaton reasoned that the fire
The U-156 and crew watch one of their Caribbean victims
sink. The German submarine sank over 100,000 gross tons of
Allied shipping during its )ear of silent, underwater hunting.
E U-156 y tripulacion ta waak un di nan victim den Caribe
sink. E submarine Aleman a sink mas di 100.000 tonelada
bruto di embarcacion Aliado durante su anja di actividad.
aboard one of the ships had reached the rocket box and
the flares were exploding at will.
Suddenly the mantle of disguise was pulled clear of
Eaton's thoughts and the clarity of more realistic reason-
ing stunned him. Those were not ship's flares. They were
tracer projectiles being jettisoned from an unknown
enemy lurking outside the reef. The conflagration that
beset the two ships was not due to carelessness, but
rather the direct result of definite, planned and efficient
action. Those ships were torpedoed. This was no accident,
no; this was war.
Eaton's first reaction was to move his family away
from the waterfront house Normally a location that at-
tracted active bidding, the waterfront residence was not
exactly the most desirable spot during a war. He roused
his little girls, Alice, two and one-half years, and Susan.
three months. Outside his house he glanced down the
road in the direction of the refinery and was startled by
a sudden flash of fire This turned out to be caused by
A. T. Rynalski breezed by and told Eaton to take his
family to the vicinity of the Lago Community Church.
He did, and he and his family huddled on the steps of
bungalow 241 where they watched the flaming waters
Eaton's family was spared direct enemy action as were
all the families in Aruba. The only scrap the Eatons
suffered Feb. 16 was the collision their blacked-out car
had with another while both -"'re proceeding to the
shelter of the church congregating area. Others were not
quite as careful about their lights Bright little spots of
incandescence flicked on in homes and then were doused
quickly when the users realized this was war. Some resi-
dents drove to the lagoon area with car lights blazing
until they realized this was not accidental fire. One who
was greatly concerned with lights in the harbor area
was the then general manager, L. G. Smith. He dashed
along the boardwalk throwing rocks at the lights that
illuminated the walkway from the main dock to the lake
tanker dock. He extinguished all of them
The community residents concentrated on moving from
areas in close proximity to the refinery and tank farm
Some watched the fires burn themselves out, and saw
the unsinkable Pedernales drift away The ambulance
raced back and forth taking the injured to the hospital
The harbor was alive with small boat activity bent on
rescuing survivors Watching the action from the deck
of their ship was the majority of the crew of the SS
Henry Gibbons. Only the crew and few others knew of the
3000 tons of TNT in the ship's hold
The ship's sailing had been delayed by coffee, it was
reported. She had been scheduled to sail shortly after
midnight, but the crew's insistence to have coffee before
they sailed kept the ship at its San Nicolas Harbor berth
The concession granted and the desire filled, the Henry
Gibbons eased away from its beith shortly after 0100,
Feb. 16. The ship was almost in position to clear the
harbor exit when the Pedernales went up in flames The
captain wanted to continue full ahead, but the pilot re-
fused to proceed into what he adjudged certain disaster.
The Gibbons was returned to her earlier berth The Army
ship left later in the morning when the submarine threat
had been cleared by Allied aircraft.
With the exception of the Gibbons, there was no ship
traffic in or out of San Nicolas Harbor Feb. 16. In fact,
it was packed with ships nestled together inside the pro-
tective reef barrier
In one Lago desk drawer atop a sheaf of papers, news-
paper clippings, baseball schedules and travel folders
reposed a suggestion. It was written in detail, checked
and ready to be dropped into the company-sponsored
suggestion system. The suggester, however, wanted to be
satisfied that he had presented his idea as logically as
possible to ensure earnest consideration and hopefully
high remuneration. It was indeed a worthwhile suggestion
thought Henri M Nassy, former public relations em-
9( February 16, 1962 ARUBA ESSO NEWS
sion: nan a mira e vlamnan. E tanquero a coi rumbo pa
asisti. Un homber a worde mirA den awa. Captan di
Ramona a ordena plena forza patras pa recoge e sobre-
viviente. Segun e movecion delantero di e bapor tabata
mengua y despues para, un obheto luciente a cruza dilanti
SacA for di den awa y puntra kiko a socede, e figure
muhl y na azeta den e salbabida a identifica su mes como
fireman di Tia Juana y a grita: "Torpedo Torpedo."
Captan di Ramona a grita pa plena forza adilanti.
Hunto cu e orden tabata e realization di loke a caba di
corta dilanti su boeg. E movecion delantero di Ramona
no tabata nada retard, y net bastante. Un segunda tor-
pedo a corta door di awa net patras di e tanquero. Cor-
riendo cu tur e velocidad ei su motornan por furni, c
captain di Ramona a usa maniobranan di zig-zag. El ta-
bata sabi cu un submarine tabatin ne na vista, y el no
tabata segur cuanto determination y venganza a worde
incitA den e comandante di e submarine pa motibo di a
hera dos biaha
Pa 0400 miedo a apodera di tripulacion di Ramona ora
nan a tend informed di un segunda explosion. Vlam no
tabata visible mes ora. Captan di Ramona a realize cu el
tabata nabegando den awa bao di cual tabatin dos, po-
siblemente mas, submarine enemigo
Ramona a corta su viaje pura pa e lago ora aeroplano
a aparece den larla mainta. Salbo cu protection aereo,
Ramona a bolbe slow pa rondia sobreviviente. Ta e ora
e tripulacion a mira e tanquero cu a worde gedal dos vez.
Adilanti tabatin restonan di e lake tanker San Nicolas.
d El tabata para vertical, su atras ariba fondo y su boeg den
laria como si fuera el tabata reta su tormentador.
f Tripulacion di Ramona a haya gruponan chikito di
homber na vista: un grupo di seis tabata colga na resto
di un boto salbabida y cuatro otro tabata want na un
boto chikito gebolter. Di e diez, solamente ocho a worde
hiza a bordo di e tanquero salbador. Dos homber a slip
bao awa, pa falta di fortaleza, cu auxilio ey mes present.
Uno cu a bat perdi a coi un cabuya di Ramona, pero su
forza a caba durante e salbacion y el tabata incapaz pa
Ramona y e tanquero Yamanota di Lago a salba diez-
ocho tripulante di San Nicolas. Siete a perde nan bida.
Tres a word matA al instant ora e promer torpedo a dal
e cuarto di maquina. San Nicolas a leun abruptamente,
pero el no a pega candela. Esaki aparentemente a preo-
cupa e comandante di submarine. y un cuarto di ora des-
pues di tira su promer torpedo el a manda un segunda
torpedo destructive den banda patras di San Nicolas. Cu
su bodega kibrA, el a sink liher, atras promer.
Ramona a hiba su sobrevivientenan Maracaibo, y a
laga atras e bodega di San Nicolas. un tanquero Gulf
na candela, Monagas, y un mancha di azeta cu ta marca
unda Tia Juana a sink den Caribe. Tia Juana tabata di
promer cu a word gedal entire e bapornan gezink a lo
largo di e ruta di e lago. E warda abordo di Ramona a
menciona na Provence e sentiment di incidentenan stran-
jo, y cu mas promer el a mira vlam. Loke el no tabata
sabi e ora ey tabata cu e vlamnan cu el a mira tabata di
Tia Juana explotando.
El a worde torpedia den centro y a coi candela mes
ora. Den algun moment el a leun fuertemente. Awa a
cuminza corre drenta door di su costado kibri, y a sink
e bao di un superficie cubri cu candela, hibando diez-siete
di su tripulacion cu ne. Di e cuatro lake tankers di Lago
torpedia Feb. 16 mainta, e tripulacion di Tia Juana a
sufri e cantidad mas grand di perdida di bida human.
Semeleer y otro sobrevivientenan a worde teni na Mara-
caibo dos siman y despues treci Aruba cu avion. Sin te-
moriza door di e incident, e balente fireman a bolbe na-
bega ariba lake tanker y a traha a bordo di Quirequire y
Yamanota. El tabata tambe a bordo di e tanquero Valerie
ora esaki a sink Maart 7, 1944, durante un viaje di Aruba
pa Panama. Provence a laga e flota di Shell durante
guerra. El a bin traha na Marine Department di Lago
Aug. 4, 1947. Tur dos homber ta traha awor ariba remol-
cador di Lago. Semeleer ta oiler y tug engineer di releve
y Provence ta tug engineer.
Den lachi di un lessenaar na Lago ariba un monton di
papel, corte for di corant, lista di baseball y folleto di
viaje, tabata sosega un sugerencia. E tabata scirbi en
detaya, gecheck y cla pa worde tira den e caha di idea. E
originador, sinembargo, tabata kier ta satisfecho cu el a
present su idea tan logico possible pa asegura consider-
acion serio y possible renumeracion halto. E tabata en
berdad un idea cu vale la pena, asina Henri M. Nassy,
antes empleado di Public Relations Department y awe
hefe di servicio informative di gobierno di Surinam, ta-
bata pensa. E lo salba bida di hende, y seguramente spaar
placa pa compania den product y equipo. Tambe lo e
yuda e causa Aliado door di protega productonan di pe-
troleo necesario y tanqueronan esencial.
Pero el tabata un poco particular di mas tocante e re-
daccion y composition propio. Tambe el a dilata un poco,
y como resultado e sugerencia ainda tabata den su lachi
Feb. 16, 1942, e mainta despues cu dos tanquero cargA
hancra pafor di rif a word torpedia door di submarine
Su idea: hancra tanqueronan esperando paden di rif pa
yuda protega nan contra accion di submarine enemigo.
Despues di e tiramento di Feb. 16, hopi resident di
casnan den cercania di refineria of tank farm a hays
susto. Esaki tabata comprendible y muy natural, parti-
cularmente pa mas of menos 9 'or e mainta despues di e
take ora grupo di homber y muhernan a reconstrui e
eventonan di e ultimo oranan. E conclusionnan tabata
hopi, pero tur tabata yega na e mes contest. Mientras
promer cu e atake indiferencia tabata regla, awor temor
tabata donjo di hopi. Nan tabatin vision di submarine cu
ta bolbe, y cu loke a socede e marduga aki tabata sola-
mente e principio. Ora nan bolbe, asina hendenan tabata
pensa, nan lo bini mehor prepare y cu plan definitive, ya
cu un submarine por a observa situation di e refineria.
Tur nan asumpcion tabata basa ariba e hecho cu un sub-
marino a lamta y a tira ariba refineria.
Poco e hendenan aki tabata sabi, y, naturalmente, no
tabatin medio pa nan sabi, cu no solamente un U-156,
pero tres otro submarine Aleman durante e ultimo dos
dia y anochi a observa tanto refineria di Lago y di Shell
y a haci numeroso practice ariba tanqueronan insospe-
choso. E tiramento di U-156 ariba refineria no tabata in-
troduccion di su comandante na dje. Hartenstein, eher-
ciendo e cabalidad cu ta marca e bomber, anteriormente
a studia tur detaye visible door di su periscoop, tur loke
el por a mira di boca di haaf, configuracion di haaf y
situation di su piernan, e sitio unda tanqueronan ta mara,
tank farm y e refineria mes, manera Hartenstein ta referi
den su log.
Residentenan cerca di refineria, sinembargo, tabata ar-
gumenta den temor cu e comandante di e submarine lo
conta su experiencia na otro destructornan di bao awa.
Lo ta solamente un question di tempo promer Lago y su
cercania lo ta involvi door di candela causa pa e forza
naval di Nazinan. Absorb den paketamente frantic pa
move nan familiar un distancia seguro for di lamar y re-
fineria di mas grand di Aliadonan, hopi no tabatin tempo
pa preocupa cu hopi di nan propiedad. Nan, den moment
di accion frantic, sin pensa, no tabata corda mes ariba e
hopi trabao cu a tuma nan pa obtene e posesionnan cu
liheramente nan a benta un banda como molestoso, in-
conveniente y no di necesidad urgente. Pa bai afor den
cunucu tabata e unico deseo.
Algun, sinembargo, a prefer di keda. Y den e grupo
aki tabatin esnan alert cu a mira oportunidad pa recoge
pa nan mes adicionnan gratis of na prijs barata. Un di e
residentenan industrioso aki tabata trahando un cura
rond di su propiedad. Den curso di e 6xodo el a waak
rond pa mira kende tabatin material cu el por a haya
barata. Su bicinja, kende su cas tabata encerra cu un
atractivo cura di waya, tabata un di esnan cu kier a tira
"Unda bo ta bai?" e bomber cu intention di keda cas
"Mi ta bai pa cunucu. Mi mester hiba mi familiar aya
mas pronto possible. Aki nos ta much pegi cu refineria.
E submarinonan Nazi lo bolbe y tira ariba mas tanquero,
y ariba e tankinan aki, y e ora nos tambe lo ta na can-
dela. Ami no, ami ta bai liher."
"Bo ta laga bo cas ?"
"Aha, bo kier bende mi bo cura di waya si bo ta bai?"
e homber a puntra cara seco, pensando cu e trabao duro
di install un su mes lo terminal na e moment aki. Asina
"Bende. Homber coge'le. Mi ta bai."
Feb. 16 tabata un dia di susto pa tur hende, particular-
mente esnan cu tabata biba cerca of traha den refineria.
Promer cu calmo a bolbe, pa algun tabata mescos cu nan
tabata sinti ariba un barril di polvo wardando pa e fuse
kimando alcanza e explosive. Nervionan tabata halto.
Hendenan tabata salta cu e minimo boroto, specialmente
Asina dos empleado di Lago a duna otro un spanto di
morto den un excusado. Ora nan a caba di laba man, uno
a pasa man pa un serbete di papel cu tabata colga for di
e contenedornan di metal. El a coi e punta abao di e papel
y su pols a kraak. E mocion no tabata mas, ni menos cu
el a haci cientos di biaha promer. E papel a zona na rand
di e contenedor, manera e ta haci normalmente. Feb. 16,
sinembargo, no tabata un dia normal. E boroto di e papel
a duna su companjero un spanto di morto. Na mes mo-
mento e tapadera di e contenedor a slip y a dal un poco
duro. Tur dos tabata segur cu nan a worde tirA.
Momentonan despues nan tabata hari ora susto a pasa
y ridiculez di e moment a bira aparente. Di dos a bise'le:
"Bo a hera, tira atrobe."
Abordo di e U-156, cual tabata submergi den awanan
pa nord di Aruba ora dia ta habri Feb. 16, Marinero
Businger a muri di heridanan causA door di e cayon cu a
explota. Diez-siete ora despues di e take, U-156 a lamta
cu e isla na vista ainda. Hartenstein a intona Nos Tata,
e tripulante a canta "Mi Tabatin Un Companjero," y
Businger "a worde entregA na lamar cu pleno honor
E cayon explotando a kita pia di Von dem Borne afor.
Farmacistanan di e submarine por a mengua e sangra-
mento, pero Hartenstein tabata realize cu el mester a
baha su segunda official di warda na terra pa propio aten-
cion medico. Feb. 17 el a recibi permiso for di ministerio
di marina Aleman pa pone Von dem Borne na terra na
Martinique, loke el a haci Feb. 21.
Despues di pone su segunda official di warda na terra,
Hartenstein y e U-156 a sigui nan hazanja di bao awa
den Caribe y Atlantico. E seriedad y determination di
Hartenstein a worde sinti door di e tripulacion ora nan a
laga Martinique. El a laga su hombernan zaag afor e
punta gespleit di e barril diki di e cayon. Ora un homber
cansa of su blade cayenta di mas. el tabata hala un banda
y un otro tabata tuma su lugar te ora e barril a worde
corta limpi. Welders, trahando anochi bao tarpaulins pa
Ermencio J. Semeleer Tia Juana Survivor
evita word mira, a fiha contra-balance ariba barril di e
canyon unda Hartenstein, e competent official di artileria,
a posiciona nan.
Hartenstein a complete tres patrulla exitoso na 1942.
Tur tabata den Caribe y cercano Atlantico. Nunca mas,
sinembargo, el a opera dentro di vista di Aruba. El a
sink mas cu 100,000 tonelado bruto di embarcacion, pa
cual el a gana e Cruz di Caballero y Cruz di Hero y a
pone'le entire e promer trinta y cinco comandante di sub-
marino. Mientras cu e tonelada no ta impresivo segun
normanan di awendia, binti anja pasa 100,000 tonelado
bruto gesink tabata represent un promedio di binti bapor.
Ariba tres patrulla no ta conoci kiko Hartenstein a
logra ariba su di cuatro y ultimo patrulla U-156 a sink
E sinkmentonan aki a secede na 1942 tempo cu activi-
dadnan di U-boat tabata na su zenith. Bapornan Aliado
tabatin nan luna di mas peor na Juni 1942, tempo cu 141
bapor a worde gesink. E perdidanan mas severe den regi-
onnan di Caribe y Centro Atlantico tabata na Augustus
1942. Den e luna aki cuarenta y seis bapor cuatro cre-
dita na Hartenstein a bai perdi. Operando 1,170 sub-
marino den Guerra Mundial II, e submarinonan Aleman a
sink 2779 bapor commercial cu un tonelada bruto total di
mas cu diez-cuatro million.
E fin di e U-156 y su comandante di trinta y tres anja
a bini Maart 8, 1943, mas of menos 340 milla p'ariba di
Barbados. Un bombero di Estados Unidos na patrulla,
perteneciendo na Squadron VP-53, tabata bolbiendo pa
base ora el a mira e submarine ariba awa. Hombernan
tabata reposa den solo ariba dek. E PBY Catalina a sconde
den nubia y laga baha di cabez ariba e U-boat. E aero-
piano a nivela na 100 pia over di e tripulacion completa-
mente sorprendi y a laga cuatro bom cai, di cual dos a
dal canto di e brug.
E U-156 a kibra den tres pida y a sink mes ora. E
aeroplano a mira sobreviviente ta drief y a tira salbabida
y cuminda pa nan, pero bapornan nunca a haya nan.
E U-156 no tabata e ultimo submarine cu a bishita
Aruba. Maske Hartenstein a opera den awanan di Caribe
te su mes destruction y di su submarine, nunca el a re-
gresa e sitio di su promer victorianan. Otro a bolbe, y
uno particularmente no much despues di e take di e
Tabata poco despues di merdia na Oranjestad. Tabata
typicamente cla y tur e daknan color oranje tabata brilla
den e manera alegre cu ta un marca caracteristico di
Aruba. Podiser tabata e daknan, pero mas probable y
logico tabata seroe Hooiberg cu a sirbi Hartenstein como
marca, y a presta su mes como un ayudo di navegacion
pa e submarine cu a lamta den e awanan keto dilanti
Oranjestad. El a lamta y a keda flohamento ariba awa
mescos cu un bayena den solo tropical. E comparacion
no ta sin fondo. Hopi bayena a worde tirA como cu nan
forma ta parce submarine.
Y mientras e submarine tabata sinti y su oficialnan
tabata waak, e muchanan cu tabata bolbe pa Juliana
School a corre bai canto di awa pa mira e vista. E mucha-
nan, sin preocupacion pa e peligro, a duna complete liber-
tad na nan curiosidad den e excitacion di mira un in-
strumento di guerra y di historic.
Nunca mas tabatin tiramento ariba Aruba, y nunca
mas tabatin sinkmento di tanquero dilanti Aruba. E
unico golpe enemigo sufri door di e isla Caribense chikito
aki tabata e promer lanzA door di e maquina di guerra di
Nazinan den Hemisferio Occidental. Mientras Aruba y su
residentenan tabata biba den anticipation di accion ene-
migo contra e refineria cu ta furni mayor parti di com-
bustible pa Aliadonan, nunca el a bini. E enemigo a lamta
for di den awa de vez en cuando pa waak, pero el no a
tira mas. Algun submarine a worde reportA gezink door
di aeroplane y bapornan staciond na Aruba, pero ningun a
bolbe causa e infamia di e mainta di Feb. 16, 1942.
ARUBA ESSO NEWS February 16, 1962
TWENTY YEARS AGO
A United States Navq patrol bomber
sank the U-156 March
Patrol bomber action, such as this, sank the
U-156 March 8, 1943, 340 miles east of Barbados.
In this exceptional U.S. Navy photograph taken
from the attacking plane, a submarine, of the
same class as the U-156, was bombed and sink.
ployee and today head of the Surinam Government's in-
formation service. It would save men's lives, and surely
save the company money in products and equipment. It
would also assist the Allied cause by protecting needed
petroleum products and sorely needed tankers.
But he was a little too intent on explicit wording and
proper composition. He also procrastinated a mite, and
as a result the suggestion was still in his desk drawer
Feb. 16, 1942, the morning after two loaded tankers an-
chored outside the reef had been blown apart by enemy
His suggestion: anchor waiting tankers inside the reef
to help protect them from enemy submarine action.
After the Feb. 16 shelling, many residents of homes in
close proximity to the refinery or tank farm got fidgety.
This was to be expected and quite natural particularly
at about nine the morning after the attack when groups
of men and women reconstructed the events of the prev-
ious hours. The conclusions were many, but they all
spelled out the same answer. Whereas before the in-
famous attack complacency was the rule, now fear was
the master of many. They had visions of returning sub-
marines, and what had happened that morning was just
the beginning. Their reappearance, the queasy were sure,
would be accompanied by better marksmanship and more
definite plans of attack since one U-boat had already
seen the physical layout of the refinery. Their assump-
tions were predicated on the fact that one U-boat had
surfaced and fired on the refinery.
Little did these people know, and, of course, there was
no way for them to know, that not only the U-156, but
three other German submarines had for the past two
days and nights carefully observed both the Lago and
Shell refineries and had made numerous practice runs on
unsuspecting tankers. The U-156's shelling of the refinery
was not her commander's introduction to the plant's lay-
out. Hartenstein, exercising the thoroughness that mark-
ed the man, previously had studied every detail visible
through his periscope of the harbor's openings, the con-
figuration of the harbor and location of its piers, the
roadstead area, the tank farm and the factory, as Harten-
stein referred to the refinery in his log.
Residents near the refinery nevertheless reasoned in
fear that the U-boat commander would relate his findings
to other underwater destructors. It would be only a mat-
ter of time before Lago and environs would be consumed
by holocaust inflicted by the Nazi navy. Absorbed in
frenzied packing to move their households a safe distance
from the sea and refining unit-lined shore of the largest
Allied refinery, many couldn't be bothered with much of
their physical belongings. They, in moments of frenetic,
unthinking actions, gave not the first thought to the
labors that afforded them the possessions they quickly
cast aside as cumbersome, bothersome, irrelevant to
pressing desires. Out into the cunucu was the only
Some, however, did choose to stay. And of this group
there were the quick-witted who saw opportunities to
gather unto themselves additions free or very low priced.
One such industrious resident happened to be construct-
ing a fence around his property. In the course of the mass
exodus he looked around to see who had a fence he might
appropriate for a slight fee. His neighbor, whose home
was enclosed by an attractive picket fence, was among
those making a dash for the cunucu.
"Where are you going?" the stay-at-home asked.
"I'm going out into the country. Got to get my family
out there as soon as possible. Too close, too close to the
refinery here. Those Nazi subs will come back and shoot
a couple more tankers, then shoot at those tanks and we
will all go up in flames. Not me, I'm going quick."
"You're leaving your house?"
"Aha, will you sell me your picket fence since you're
leaving?" asked the unafraid, excited at the thought that
the laborious task of constructing a fence for himself
could end this moment. It did.
"Sell it! Man, take it. I'm gone."
Feb. 16 was a jittery one for all. It was, to some before
composure had been regained, much like sitting on a
keg of powder waiting for the burning fuse to reach the
explosive. Nerves were edged raw and tattered. People
jumped at the slightest noise, especially sharp reports.
So it was that two Lago employees in a lavatory
gave each other a skin-crawling scare. Finished washing
his hands, one reached for a paper towel that drooped
accessibly from a sparkling metal wall container. He
grasped the towel's bottom edge and flicked his wrist.
The motion was no more, no less than he had done
hundreds of times before. The paper cracked against the
container apron, as it normally did. Feb. 16 was not a
normal day, however. The snap of the paper sent his as-
sociate into a body-stiffening moment of fright. As he
did, the paper snapper reacted in involuntary unison.
Both were sure the other had been shot.
Moments later they laughed as tensions eased and the
ridiculousness of the moment became apparent. Said the
second: "You missed, fire again."
Aboard the U-156, which lay submerged in waters
north of Aruba the daylight hours of Feb. 16, Seaman
Businger died of wounds inflicted by the exploding cannon.
Seventeen hours after the attack, the U-156 surfaced
with the island still in sight. Hartenstein intoned the
Lord's Prayer, the crew sang "I Had A Comrade," and
Businger was "delivered to the sea with full military
The exploding cannon had ripped off Von dem Borne's
foot. The ship's pharmacists were able to slow the bleeding,
but Hartenstein realized he had to get his second watch
officer ashore for proper medical attention. Feb. 17 he
received permission from the Reich admiralty to put Von
dem Borne ashore in Martinique, which he did Feb. 21.
After putting his second watch officer ashore, Harten-
stein and the U-156 continued their underwater exploits
in the Caribbean and Atlantic. Hartenstein's sternness
and determination was felt by the crew when the boat
left Martinique. He had his men hacksaw off the splayed
end of the thick cannon barrel. When one man tired or his
blade became too hot, he stepped aside and another took
his place until the barrel had been cut clean. Welders,
working at night under tarpaulins to avoid being seen,
fixed counterbalances on the cannon's barrel where Har-
tenstein, the skilled artillery officer, had positioned them.
Hartenstein completed three successful patrols in 1942.
All were in the Caribbean and near Atlantic. He sank
over 100,000 gross tons of shipping, which earned him
the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and placed him
among the top thirty-five U-boat commanders. While the
tonnage is not impressive by today's standards, twenty
years ago 100,000 gross tons sunk represented an aver-
age of twenty ships. On three patrols it is not known
what Hartenstein scored on his fourth and last patrol
- the U-156 sunk twenty-two ships.
These sinkings occurred in 1942 when U-boat oper-
ation was at its zenith. Allied merchant shipping suf-
fered its worst month in June, 1942, when 141 ships were
sunk. The most severe losses suffered in the Caribbean
and Mid-Atlantic regions were in August, 1942. In that
month forty-six ships four credited to Hartenstein -
were lost. Operating 1,170 U-boats in World War II, the
German submarine force sank 2779 merchant vessels
which totalled over fourteen million gross tons.
The end of the U-156 and its thirty-three-year-old
commander came March 8, 1943, approximately 340 miles
east of Barbados. A United States patrol bomber from
Squadron VP-53 returning from patrol sighted the sur-
faced submarine. Men lounged on the deck sunning them-
selves. The PBY Catalina ducked into clouds and dived at
the U-boat. The plane flattened out at 100 feet over the
completely surprised crew and dropped four bombs, two
of which straddled the conning tower.
The U-156 broke into three pieces and sank immedia-
tely. The patrol plane sighted survivors and dropped a
life raft and rations to them, but surface craft never
The U-156 was not the last submarine to visit Aruba.
Although Hartenstein operated in Caribbean waters un-
til his and his U-boat's destruction, he never returned to
the area of his first victories. Others did, and one in
particular not long after the U-156's attack.
It was shortly after mid-day in Oranjestad. It was
typically bright and all the orange colored roofs shone
in the gay manner that is an Aruban landmark. Perhaps
it was the roofs, but more probably and logically it was
the Hooiberg promontory, which served Hartenstein as
a landmark, that lent itself as a navigational aid for the
submarine which surfaced in the still waters off Oranje-
stad. It came up and floated leisurely on the surface
much like a whale lolling in the tropical sun. The com-
parison is not unfounded. Many whales, mammals, were
"sunk" because their shape resembled that of the U-boat.
And while the submarine sat and its officers looked,
the students returning to Juliana School tumbled down
to the waterfront to see the submarine. The children, un-
concerned with the poised danger, gave full freedom to
their curiosity in the excitement of viewing an instrument
of war and of history.
A carpenter at work on a waterfront home looked
complacently out to sea from his perch atop a ladder.
Relaxing a moment, while still appearing to be at work,
he suddenly saw the sea monster break through the
water's surface. He smiled to himself as he recognized
the form shedding water to be a submarine. His smile was
reassurance to himself that all was safe; here was a
United States' undersea vessel standing by to protect
Aruba. His composure was shattered with the alerting
cry of Nazi submarine. The carpenter, seized with ner-
vousness, fell from his ladder. He lay stunned on the
ground. When he dared move again, he was no worse
because of his fall, only a couple of sore spots and an
He stole a guarded look over the water, but the sub-
marine had gone. It had dived when planes from Princess
Beatrix Airport took off after the unwanted prowler. The
appearance of the submarine caught the Oranjestad pop-
ulation with desires directly opposed. Half the citizenry
raced to the waterfront to see, the other half raced into
the cunucu to get away.
Aruba was never shelled again, and tankers were never
sunk along the island's perimeter. The only enemy blow
suffered by this little Caribbean island was the first
launched by the Nazi war machine in the Western Hemis-
phere. While Aruba and her residents lived in anticipation
of enemy action against the refining installation that
provided the lion's share of fuel for the Allied advance,
it never came. The enemy rose up out of the sea occa-
sionally to look on, but he held his fire. Some submarines
were reported sunk by Aruba based air and surface craft,
but none recreated the infamy of the morning of Feb. 16,
W C HOCHSTUHL
An effort with as many facets as the narrative of
the U-156 necessarily must be approached painstaking-
ly to insure accuracy Work of this nature can not be
accomplished alone; the cooperation of many is needed
The author is indebted to those named in the story,
those whose identification follow, and the many, many
others who supplied a name, a bit of action, a smat-
tering of sequence, a time a location, a description, all
of which helped make this story complete To our
knowledge, it is the only complete account of the
U-156's exploits leading up to and the actual raid on
Great assistance was rendered by Rear Admiral D.
V. Gallery, who furnished the log of the U-156, which
kicked off the story: Capt F K Loomis, assistant
director of naval history: Comdr H. J. Gimpel. Office
of Information, Magazine and Book Branch; Lt Comdr.
H. A Morlock, Office of Information. Pictorial Branch;
- all United States Navy and Capt. A. G. Vroo-
mans. Netherlands State Institute for War Documen-
tation, Amsterdam: Dr. Juergen Rohwer, editor,
Wehrwissenchafliche Rundschau (German military
monthly); and H. W. Wendt. Esso AG, Hamburg.
Source material included Battle of the Atlantic by
R. E. Morison. American Antisubmarine Operation in
the Atlantic by F J. Lundeberg, and United States
Naval Institute Proceedings. Aruba photographs were
taken by R. W. Schlageter
Of tremendous help was Kapitanleutnant D. A. von
dem Borne, German Federal Navy, Kiel, former second
watch officer of the U-156 who lost his foot during
the Lago attack. Without Herr Von dem Borne's as-
sistance, the account would not have portrayed the
intimacy of life aboard the U-156 Pictures of the
submarine and her crew were supplied by him. To
complete Herr Von dem Borne's story, he became a
prisoner of war when the Allies retook France and
her possessions including Martinique. Two years later
the United States military flew him to New York
where he boarded the SS Grlpsholm with other Ger-
mans involved in prisoner exchange. The exchange
took place May 19, 1944, in Barcelona, Spain, and Herr
Von dem Borne returned to Germany
ARUBA ESSO NEWS
February 16, 1962