The 19th Adventure Club Podcast: The Ems, Emden, Sail-Plans & Foghorns

There’s barely a couple of pages covering October 20 in ‘The Riddle of the Sands’, but somehow we’ve managed to create an information-packed podcast out of it.

We include a bit of Roman history, obscure house numbering systems, spinnakers, gibs & what-not, a symphony composed for foghorns, a plate of wurst, more pipe-smoking *and* a trip to the Foreign Office! Plus we have several excellent contributions, clarifications and corrections from Club Members. Thank you all.

First, we remind you that the next podcast will come direct from the Kiel Canal, on the precise dates (October 2-4) that Carruthers and Davies would have been there. (01:10). If you want to see us in Germany ‘live’, and receive a resulting chapter of the Handbook, plus a field audio book excerpt, you need to pledge your support for this project at

Tim (notCarruthers) offers a few interesting facts about the Ems (04:32): the site of a Roman military base called Amisia (05:04); how the Dutch have stolen the German wind (06:52); the opening of the Dortmund-Ems canal (08:03); the bombing of Emden in 1944 (11:10); Wolfgang Petersen and ‘Das Boot’(12:22); Baltrum facts, including the islanders’ idiosyncratic attitude to bicycles and house-numbering (13:36).

Martyn Mackrill’s great painting of ‘Dulcibella’ gives clues about her sail-plan.

Lloyd (notDavies) works closely with Club Members Tony F. and Frankie to produce a definitive guide to the boat Dulcibella’s sail-plan (15:23); Tony F. describes the different sails (17:38); Frankie produces a drawing (18:45); Lloyd charts out every reference to sails in the book (20:30).

Tim gets excited about foghorns (21:58); the Tyfon original that Davies might have used (22:49); beware of buying a fake foghorn (23:57); a musical interlude concerning ‘The Foghorn Requiem’ (25:11).

Crowds gather to listen to the Foghorn Requiem. Image by OYT North on Flickr:

Club Business: as requested by Jeff – a trip to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London (followed by wurst & beer at a German inn) (32:12); a shout-out again to the Kervaig Pipe Club (39:23); Brian on bicycles, and our kümmel related confusion about where Glasgow is (40:26); more kümmel-related facts from Nick (42:47); Tony suggests that there are still wreckers and pirates in the Frisians (44:50).

“Isn’t there the wreck of a treasure-ship somewhere farther west?”

The cover story for all the activity around the strange island of Memmert is readily given by Von Brüning: they’re after a wreck.

‘I don’t wonder you heard of it. It’s one of the few things folk have to talk about in these parts. It lies on Juister Riff, a shoal off Juist. She was a French frigate, the Corinne, bound from Hamburg to Havre in 1811, when Napoleon held Hamburg as tight as Paris. She carried a million and a half in gold bars, and was insured in Hamburg; foundered in four fathoms, broke up, and there lies the treasure.’

We wondered if the Corinne was a real ship, and so I spent some pleasant hours scouring an amazing site called, which is a sort of Wikipedia of maritime destruction. It revealed that, sure enough, these Frisian sands, west and east, are littered with wrecks. Here’s a snapshot of the mouth of the Ems which gives a good idea of the chaos on the seabed:


However, there was no trace of the Corinne down there, and we could find no French vessels with that name. However, another possibility presented itself as the possible model for Childers’s sunken treasure ship. Anyone familiar with Lloyd’s of London, the insurance underwriting exchange, may also be familiar with this chap, or more specifically the thing he is ringing:

Lloyds of London Image Portfolio Feb2011
“Lloyd’s building Lutine Bell” by Lloyd’s of London – Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

That is the Lutine Bell, in the Underwriting Room. Traditionally, it was rung to announce the fate of a ship which had been late at its destination port. If the ship had arrived safely, the bell was rung twice; if it was sunk, it was rung once, to immediately stop the sale of any further reinsurance on the downed vessel by unscrupulous insiders. These days, the two rings mean there is a distinguished visitor to Lloyd’s. One ring is used to note events or anniversaries, such as Remembrance Day.

The Lutine Bell is all that remains of HMS Lutine, a fighting ship of the Revolutionary Wars which was launched by the French Navy in 1779. She was a Magicienne-class vessel with 32 guns, a frigate, and in 1793 she was handed over to a British naval fleet when the French port of Toulon was seized by royalists and, effectively, handed to the British. She kept her name, with a new prefix: HMS.

HMS Lutine
HMS Lutine

She served her time in the North Sea, participating (among other things) in a blockade of Amsterdam. In October 1799 she was sailing from Yarmouth to Cuxhaven (the same Cuxhaven Carruthers and Davies sail past in the Dulcibella). She was carrying £1.2 million in bullion and coin which, it seems, was to be used either to prop up the banks in Hamburg or to pay for Anglo-Russian troops that were then making their way into North Holland.

She never made it. Drawn by the tidal stream flowing into the Waddenzee – the Dutch word for the body of water at the mouth of the Ems – she hit a sandbank off the island of Terschelling, in the West Frisians, and she went down. All 240 souls aboard were lost.

What happened next was an exercise in salvage and sophisticated reclamation of assets – or, if you like, wrecking – which still attracts scholars to this day. As soon as the vessel hit the seabed, the bed began to eat her up, as sand piled up around her, and for the coming decades that remained the pattern – the ship being revealed and reburied, revealed and reburied as the sands moved around her.

This made salvage difficult, as did the ongoing dispute between Lloyd’s and King William I of the Netherlands over who actually owned the wreck. The gold on the Lutine had been insured by Lloyd’s, who had paid out their policy in full (insurance was an easier matter in those days) and thus owned the gold under international maritime rights of abandonment. The Dutch, however, claimed the ship as a prize of war. A complicated arrangement was made to share the gold between the Dutch salvagers and Lloyd’s, and so valuable was the potential that this was enshrined in the Lloyd’s Act more than 70 years after the sinking.

Wikipedia lists more than 20 separate attempts to raise the gold, but it’s estimated 80 per cent of the stuff is still down there. So famous was the case of the Lutine that it seems entirely feasible that Childers based his own treasure ship, the Corinne, on the Lutine.

And given how much gold is still down there, we might take masks and snorkels with us. Or perhaps just metal detectors. You never know.

‘coffee and Kümmel at a table in a dingy inn-parlour’

I think we drank the wrong Kümmel. And really, we should have been drinking tea, not coffee. Apart from that, I think the podcast about October 19 went quite well…

Why the wrong Kümmel? Well, I went for Wolfschmidt, mainly because it tickled me to think we were drinking the same ‘putting mixture’ that Scottish golfers apparently enjoy by the caseload (see this Wall Street Journal article for details). It’s also the Kümmel of choice in most London clubs, according to The London GolferIt also allowed me to mention James Bond (again) since he has a peculiar way of drinking Wolfschmidt  in ‘Moonraker’ (admittedly the vodka rather than the Kümmel):

When M. poured him three fingers from the frosted carafe Bond took a pinch of black pepper and dropped it on the surface of the vodka. The pepper slowly settled to the bottom of the glass leaving a few grains on the surface which Bond dabbed up with the tip of a finger. Then he tossed the cold liquor well to the back of his throat and put his glass, with the dregs of the pepper at the bottom, back on the table.

M. gave him a glance of rather ironical inquiry.

“It’s a trick the Russians taught me that time you attached me to the Embassy in Moscow,” apologized Bond. “There’s often quite a lot of fusel oil on the surface of this stuff-at least there used to be when it was badly distilled. Poisonous. In Russia, where you get a lot of bath-tub liquor, it’s an understood thing to sprinkle a little pepper in your glass. It takes the fusel oil to the bottom. I got to like the taste and now it’s a habit. But I shouldn’t have insulted the club Wolf-schmidt,” he added with a grin.

Despite these interesting cultural references, I now think it’s far more likely that it’d be Helbing that the locals would have been knocking back in a Frisian inn (although of course von Brüning isn’t exactly a local). By 1900, more than 400 people were employed by Helbingsche Dampf-Kornbrennerei und Presshefe-Fabriken AG in Hamburg. The company even operated branches in Paris, London and Liverpool.

The Helbing Kümmel works in Hamburg circa 1900. Image from

Yes, Wolfschmidt was a popular international brand too, originally coming out of Riga and then being made under license in other parts of the world (including Glasgow, *England* if the label on my bottle is to be believed – apologies to Club Member Brian for making him choke on his whisky when I let this pass as fact on the podcast…). But it seems to me much more likely that our heroes would be drinking Hamburg hooch rather something of Latvian origin.

Wolfshmidt: produced in England… at a Glasgow address?!

As to the coffee that was supposedly being drunk, I don’t think Carruthers and Davies should have been drinking coffee at all. (We’ll forgive von Brüning because he’s a Prussian.) It’s far more likely they’d be drinking tea, since the East Frisians are huge consumers of very strong tea, drinking more per capita than any other place in the world. See this New York Times article for details.

Frisian tea is said to be a strong blend of Assam and Darjeeling, to which you add a large gloop of thick cream (no stirring) and an avalanche of rock sugar. So strong is the love for this sweet heady brew amongst the locals that they actually have a museum of tea in Norden. We will definitely have to visit.

Ostfriesischen Teemuseum Norden

The good news is that there’s also a local cake that we could guzzle with our tea. Recipe here at tea and cake all round, not coffee and Kümmel at all!  How very Carruthers-like and *English* that sounds. (Not Scottish, Brian).

‘they’re born with predatory instincts’

On October 19, while putting over his cover story about an old wreck and buried treasure, Von Brüning gets a little bit snooty about the local Frisians, claiming they have ‘a weakness for plunder’. He more or less describes them as pirates. Imagine my surprise to find that for hundreds of years that is pretty much what the Frisians were!

A typical Frisian ‘pirate’ – “Marienhafe Denkmal Klaus Stoertebeker” by Tim Schredder – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Ok, we might consider them ‘wreckers’ rather than pirates, but as I learn from a rather marvellous book called ‘The Wreckers’ by Bella Bathurst, wrecking is not simply the business of waiting patiently ‘til a ship goes on the rocks and then collecting goodies washed up onto the beach. It’s not even the more sinister business of putting up false lights in the hope of getting ships to run aground so that goodies appear on the beach (although that’s part of it).

Modern day ‘flotsam & jetsam’ in Devon. Image: Telegraph

The Frisians didn’t just wait for disaster to happen. At the first sign of a ship passing near the coast, these people would go out on shallow boats (not unlike the Dulcibella btw) and offer to ‘help’ with piloting or the lightening of the cargo. If a boat got into trouble – which it more than likely would due to dodgy ‘piloting’ – the wreckers would then load up with booty. Only after the ‘flotsam and jetsam’ had been recovered would there be any thought of  saving the people onboard the target vessel.

The infamous tom Brok tribe of Frisian warlords were much feared for hundred of years by traders sailing out of the Elbe. Indeed, the Hanseatic League actually went to war with the Frisian wreckers over the amount of ‘plunder’ that was going on.

Once the Prussians got involved, a whole system of beach regulation was imposed all along the coast to try to put a stop to dodgy wrecking practices – or at least to make sure some kind of tax revenue was derived from it. By the time of ‘The Riddle of the Sands’, every stretch of coast would have had its own ‘Strandvogt’, a kind of beach bailiff. It may well be that von Brüning had such a role around Bensersiel, which is why he’s so knowledgeable about this business.

Before we get too high-minded about these people on the other side of the North Sea, it should be noted that the English were just as bad. In Norfolk, wrecking was very common for centuries. And in Kent, they had their own special word for wreckers. They called them ‘hovellers’. Is it a coincidence that the East Frisian wrecking tribes were all known as ‘hovetlinge’…? As it was on the sands of Frisia, so too was it on the Goodwin Sands.

Bella Bathurst’s book has one extra revelation to make about the ghoulishly symbiotic relationship between lifeboatmen and wreckers. Actually it’s not symbiotic at all because for many years it’s pretty clear that wreckers and lifeboatmen were one and the same people.

Frisian lifeboaters… or wreckers? You decide. Image: Deutsche Gesellschaft zur Rettung Schiffbrüchiger (DGzRS)

The only difference between being one and not the other is whether you bothered to save the people or the booty first when dealing with a ship in distress. Even in the 1950s and 1960s it’s claimed that some RNLI boatmen went out armed with screwdrivers with the aim of recovering a few valuable items off a boat before it sank. Many of the early lifeboats (remember Dulcibella is a converted lifeboat) were originally wrecking boats.

Quite when we started saving people first and cargo second is not entirely clear. However, in Germany the wreck of the Johanne in 1854 certainly marked a big change in public opinion about such matters. 77 people died for want of lifeboats. The newspapers expressed a nation’s horror, and very soon afterwards a national lifeboat organisation was started.

Where was the Johanne wrecked? Just off Spiekeroog, of course. So, yes, maybe the Frisians are descended from a bunch of wreckers. But they were also pretty much the first people in Germany to man the lifeboats. They turned out to be quite nice pirates after all.


Here’s a terrific anecdote that suggests there might *still* be wreckers/hovellers out in the Frisians!

Just as a postscript to your coverage of wreckers, plunderers and lifeboats, the sailing friend who introduced us to the North Sea coasts was warned about – and passed the warning on to us when we sailed there – about the activities of some of the locals. Under the guise of lifesaving, and purporting to be official coastguards, these guys haunt the sea-channels in large official-looking RIB’s (inflatable boats) and in the event of a yacht (particularly a foreign-flagged one) running aground (which is quite easy to do), quickly turn up offering to pull you off.

If you accept their offer, they will pass you a tow-line and pull you free. So far, so good, but the next thing is, the yacht’s skipper will be presented with a “salvage” bill for thousands of euros, since you have used their equipment to get you out of “danger”. Even if the worst danger you have been in is to spend a few hours waiting for the tide to come in so that you can float off. According to the stories I heard, they can be very aggressive about recovering the money, and won’t leave the yacht until paid.

I have not had direct experience of this, but such stories are part of the yachtie folklore in the area. Perhaps the old traditions are still being carried on?

The 18th Adventure Club Podcast: Bensersiel, Wrecks & Kümmel

There’s a lot of information to take in as Carruthers, Davies and von Brüning size each other up over coffee and Kümmel in a cafe in Bensersiel on October 19. Since most of their talk centres around wrecks and wrecking, that’s exactly what our talk turns to in this week’s podcast.

First up we reveal our plans to travel down the Kiel Canal on October 2October 4 this year. It’s your chance to receive a free sample chapter and audiobook from us, plus live reports from the canal. This is available to subscribers only. All you have to do to become a subscriber is pledge your support at (01:44)

Tim (notCarruthers) kicks off a chat about the East Frisians’ alleged ‘weakness for plunder’ (5:34); what is ‘flotsam and jetsam’? (06:26); some excellent information gleaned from Bella Bathurst’s book ‘The Wreckers’ (07:54); the relationship between lifeboaters and wreckers (11:34); the link between Kentish hovellers and the East Frisian chieftains called *hovetlinge* (13:15); Prussian attempts to regulate the East Frisian wreckers: von Brüning as the Strandvögte (16:01).

Lloyd (notDavies) investigates von Brüning’s cover story about the wreck of French frigate, the ‘Corinne’. Instead he finds a WW1 submarine (18:12); the true story of Lloyds of London, the wreck of the ‘Lutine’ and its bell( 19:57); another true story about the wreck of the ‘Johanne’ (23:43)

We sample Kümmel (24:56); golfers call it ‘putting mixture’ (26:48); a James Bond connection (28:48); why Carruthers & Davies should be drinking tea, not coffee (31:35).

Boßeln players in East Frisia

Club member Kevin assists us with some information about Bensersiel (34:29); Tim (not Carruthers) tortures Ship’s Dog with a poem about Langeoog (35:29); we try to understand the local street game called Boßeln (37:15); the Cabbage Tour and the proclamation of the Cabbage King (40:33).

Club Business (43:05): Brian advises on what kind of bicycle to take on the adventure; Frankie despairs about wreckers (43:57) Graham’s story of driving across – and nearly into – the sea in East Frisia (44:19); Jeff alerts us to OpenHouse in London and a chance to visit the Foreign Office (47:45); Liz on German sauna etiquette (48:19).

Missions for next week – members assistance required.

‘a pyramid of gauzy canvas aloft, spinnakers, flying jibs, and what not’: let’s explore exactly what sails were being used on ‘Dulcibella’. Give us an education about sails and sail configurations generally, please. (Tim still only knows a bit about ‘what not’)

‘a foghorn’: this is the second reference in the book to a foghorn. What would an Edwardian/Victorian foghorn have looked and sounded like.

Baltrum and the river Ems: we’ve talked about the Elbe quite a lot, but what about the Ems. What kind of river can we expect to find when we finally get out on our adventure?


‘What spirits?.. What salt?.. What coffee?’

On October 18, an officious customs officer comes on board Dulcibella at Bensersiel:

… the customhouse officer (fancy such a thing in this absurd mud-hole!), marched down into the cabin, which was in a fearful mess and wringing wet, and producing ink, pen, and a huge printed form, wanted to know our cargo, our crew, our last port, our destination, our food, stores, and everything. No cargo (pleasure); captain, Davies; crew, me; last port, Brunsbüttel; destination, England. What spirits had we? Whisky, produced. What salt? Tin of Cerebos, produced, and a damp deposit in a saucer. What coffee? etc. Lockers searched, guns fingered, bunks rifled.

Customs duty (‘Zoll’) was a big deal in Germany in the late 1800s. The creation of a common internal market – the ‘Zollverein’ – and the sharing of resulting revenues between the German states was one of the key engines of Prussian power. So this customs officer – Herr Schenkel – is yet another symbol of the Brits growing unease about Germany’s growing influence and power. It’s also an early sign, I’d suggest, of English waspiness about Germany efficiency and European ‘red tape’.

We have to presume that whisky, salt and coffee were all taxable items in those days that had to be declared. But if we’re going to correctly replay this book in every detail – and generally that’s the aim – we’ll need to know exactly which brands of whisky, salt and coffee we should be carrying on our trip.

Cerebos salt: ‘See how it runs’

The salt is easy. The brand is named – Cerebos – and you can still pick that up in UK supermarkets. Sailors would have loved it at the time because it was distinguished as a ‘pouring salt’ and contained an anti-caking agent, so the dampness of a small boat cabin might not affect it too badly. I’m not sure I can be bothered to carry a pack of salt all the way though Germany in September/October, so instead I bought Lloyd (notDavies) a tobacco tin with a Cerebos advert printed on the front. Even better, club member Matron has offered to fill it with his ‘Bothy Flake’ pipe tobacco. I’m not sure if we need to declare that to a customs officer when we get to Bensersiel.

I imagine Carruthers and Davies would have had real coffee on board, although that might have caked up a bit down in the galley. The alternative would be to keep a jar of instant, or some ‘Camp’ coffee. Instant – or rather ‘powdered’ – coffee would have been a relatively new invention.

Symingtons specialised in dried & powdered foods including instant coffee and ‘pea flour’.

A little light research reveals that a company called Symingtons was a bit of a specialist in this area of dried & powdered foods. So perhaps a tin of Symingtons coffee might be on board. Certainly, a tin of Symingtons pea flour would have been a must-have for every budding British adventurer. Symingtons pea-flour – a kind of precursor of the cup-a-soup – was used a lot by the British Army in the Crimea and Scott took several tins to the South Pole (for all it did for him).

“Pattison’s Sepoy mutiny 1870” by Pattison’s Whisky – This image is available from the National Library of Scotland.

Finally, we come to whisky. I can’t help feeling that Davies’s brand of choice would have been Pattison’s. It was heavily marketed as a ‘patriotic’ whisky by two dodgy brothers, who even employed talking parrots to push their wares. And thanks to over-production in the 1890s there was a lot of it about.

Pattison’s whisky – fuelling the naval arms race…

Sadly, the company went bust in the early 1900s and the two Pattisons were jailed for fraud. The distillery, though, is still there and producing a whisky called GlenfarclasSo Glenfarclas it is that we’ll need to pack in our bag for the great adventure. Fingers crossed we won’t have room for salt, coffee – or cup-a-soups.

The singer in the sands

Lale Andersen, chanteuse and Langeoog superstar
Lale Andersen, chanteuse and Langeoog superstar

Carruthers and Davies do not spend any time on Langeoog, the third of the East Frisian islands (if you’re heading east to west). Geographically, Langeoog is familiar enough after our visits to Wangeroog and Spiekeroog – a sandbank that has become an island, under the influence of the tides and the Frisian genius for dykes and groynes. But hidden in a graveyard in the dunes are the ashes of the singer of a song which, in some ways, encapsulates a lot of what this whole adventure is about. Click on the link for a clue:

Song Version 1 – 1939

The song is, of course, Lili Marlene, arguably the most famous song of the Second World War. The singer is Lale Andersen, who was born in Bremerhaven as Elisabeth Carlotta Helena Berta Bunnenberg. Her early life is very Weimar – married at 17, three children in seven years, decamped to Berlin (leaving the kids with her brother and sister) to become an actress and a singer. And in Berlin, of course, she appeared in cabarets. Cue spurious film still.


While singing in the cabarets of Berlin, she met the composer Norbert Schultze. He had composed a little ditty based on a poem from the First World War (though they didn’t call it that in 1938). The poem was written by a German soldier called Hans Leip, and was addressed to not one but two girlfriends, Lili and Marlene. The original German reads like this:

Vor der Kaserne,
Vor dem großen Tor,
Stand eine Laterne,
Und steht sie noch davor,
So woll’n wir uns da wieder seh’n,
Bei der Laterne wollen wir steh’n,
Wie einst, Lili Marleen.

Unsere beiden Schatten,
Sah’n wie einer aus,
Daß wir so lieb uns hatten,
Das sah man gleich daraus.
Und alle Leute soll’n es seh’n,
Wenn wir bei der Laterne steh’n,
Wie einst, Lili Marleen.

Schon rief der Posten:
Sie blasen Zapfenstreich,
Es kann drei Tage kosten!
Kamerad, ich komm’ ja gleich.
Da sagten wir Aufwiederseh’n.
Wie gerne wollt’ ich mit dir geh’n,
Mit dir, Lili Marleen!

Deine Schritte kennt sie,
Deinen zieren Gang.
Alle Abend brennt sie,
Doch mich vergaß sie lang.
Und sollte mir ein Leid gescheh’n,
Wer wird bei der Laterne steh’n,
Mit dir, Lili Marleen!

Aus dem stillen Raume,
Aus der Erde Grund,
Hebt mich wie im Traume
Dein verliebter Mund.
Wenn sich die späten Nebel dreh’n,
Werd’ ich bei der Laterne steh’n
Wie einst, Lili Marleen!

Or, in English

Outside the barracks, by the corner light
I’ll always stand and wait for you at night
We will create a world for two
I’ll wait for you the whole night through
For you, Lili Marlene
For you, Lili Marlene

Bugler, tonight, don’t play the call to arms
I want another evening with her charms
Then we will say good-bye and part
I’ll always keep you in my heart
With me, Lili Marlene
With me, Lili Marlene

Give me a rose to show how much you care
Tied to the stem, a lock of golden hair
Surely, tomorrow, you’ll feel blue
But then will come a love that’s new
For you, Lili Marlene
For you, Lili Marlene

When we are marching in the mud and cold
And when my pack seems more than I can hold
My love for you renews my might
I’m warm again, my pack is light
It’s you, Lili Marlene
It’s you, Lili Marlene

My love for you renews my might
I’m warm again, my pack is light
It’s you, Lili Marlene
It’s you, Lili Marlene.

Lale Andersen recorded her first version on 2 August 1939, only a month before the outbreak of the Second World War. It sold a mere 700 copies, and then everyone forgot about it. Lale went back to working the cabarets, and Europe went to war.

But two years later, a soldier working for a German armed forces radio station in Belgrade which was broadcasting to Rommel’s troops in North Africa was sent to Vienna to pick up some records to play, preferably cheap ones. Among others, he came back with Lili Marlene, which was first played from Belgrade on 18 August 1941, and became an instant hit with the Afrika Corps. The Belgrade station took to playing it every night at 9.57 precisely, and soon other forces in other countries picked up the signal – including Britain’s Eighth Army. The song became so popular that Lale Andersen re-recorded it in 1942, with the connivance of Goebbels, who hated the original and wanted something a little more martial.

Lale Andersen 1942 version

Andersen also recorded an English-language version of the song – though I haven’t been able to establish the motivations behind this. What is interesting about this version is the lyricist – a fellow by the name of Norman Baillie-Stewart, who had been a spy for the Germans before the war. So, one might say the first English-language version of Lili Marlene was written by a real-world Dollman. Baillie-Stewart, I now discover, is thought by some to be the original Lord Haw-Haw – he began broadcasting from Berlin in England a week before war broke out, and was only later replaced by William Joyce because the latter was thought to have a better radio voice. Baillie-Stewart (not, inevitably, his real name, which was Wright, rather amusingly) survived the war, spent some time in jail for treason, and then moved to Ireland, in another echo of Riddle of the Sands. He died there in 1966.

Here’s the version of Lili Marlene that Baillie-Stewart wrote the lyrics for:

Lale Andersen English version

By now, Lili Marlene was the most famous song in Europe. The British Ministry of Information got in on the act, commissioning their own English-language version from Tommie Connor. Recorded by Anne Shelton, this lush, West End Variety version was also a massive hit:

Anne Shelton version of 1944

Even Vera Lynn got in on the act:

Vera Lynn version

And, of course, the singer who propelled Lili Marlene into the popular culture stratosphere sang her own version, creating arguably the best known torch song of all time, fuelled on tobacco, brandy and desire – Marlene (of course) Dietrich:

Marlene Dietrich German version

But the original song will always be Lale Andersen’s – and we can find her ashes buried on Langeoog, in the ‘dune graveyard’. We can also go and see this rather lovely little memorial to her on the island, where she lived out her post-war years.

Wasserturm Langeoog by Huebi - Huebi. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons
Wasserturm Langeoog by HuebiHuebi. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

Lale had one more fling with fame, though this time with less success. She sang the German Eurovision Song Contest entry in 1961 – but her song, Einmal Sehen Wir Uns Wieder, came second last. Lili Marlene, it ain’t.

Cycling: critical questions about kit & caboodle

As we keep saying, we’re planning to do a lot of this adventure on bicycle rather than by boat. Chiefly this is because we want to be sure we can keep up with the book in terms of dates, and not be delayed by bad weather or tidal issues. Also, neither of us have suitable experience as sailors. It turns out, anyway, that cycling was quite the thing in the early 1900s, as we’ve noted in a previous post and a podcast.

Riders in the first Tour de France of 1903 (the same year The Riddle of the Sands was published)

Not long ago, I wrote a piece on the Brooks blog that outlined our plan and asked for some help.

So bike aficionados, what is your advice? What kind of bike should Riddle of the Sands Adventure Club members be using for this trip? And am I missing some very obvious accessories that I should be taking?

I’ve had no answer to those questions to date. But a couple of club members have been extremely helpful about planning which way to go on our bikes and – crucially – what to wear on our travels. 

Sadly,  a slight schism has occurred within the Adventure Club. Some members think we should be taking advantage of modern clothing technology, while others believe we should be sticking to period dress. Here’s club member Brian Lunn with a very helpful comment about modern cycling outfitters:

Cycling polo shirts from Velobici ( or VulpineBoth companies also do longer sleeved jerseys which are suitable for off & on bike wear, as do Café du Cycliste.

Vulpine and Swrve do good cycling trousers that are weather resistant. As for jackets I would recommend either Vulpine or Swrve. Depending on the speed you intend to cycle, you may want to equip yourselves with Tour de France outfits (see, such as the winner’s trade mark white coat and flat cap, or his sporty striped number (doubling as matelot for the boating I think), with plus fours and dainty leather shoes.

Go modern? The Swrve jacket.

But here’s club member Nick North with an email about the kind of clothes the winner of the first ever Tour de France in 1903 would be wearing.

Depending on the speed you intend to cycle, you may want to equip yourselves with Tour de France outfits – – such as the winner’s trade mark white coat and flat cap, or his sporty striped number (doubling as matelot for the boating I think), with plus fours and dainty leather shoes.

Go ancient? Marin’s distinctive & winning 1903 look.

The good news about going old school is that we’d also be encouraged to smoke and drink as much as we like, and also grow moustaches. On the downside, I suspect would end up being much less comfortable. Another Club member Jeff Quest suggests if we can’t be bothered with period dress, perhaps we should settle for a period bike:

Have you considered *Biking* like an Edwardian?

Exhibit A – The following link shows a variety of Edwardian bicycles. Surprisingly, modern bikes still look remarkably like bikes from over a 100 years ago. See here –

Exhibit B – I love this. Edwardian bike tricks. Here we can see the variety of ways bikes were rode back in Edwardian times. Pay particular attention to the clothes that they are wearing. Not only are they doing some extraordinary things on those bikes, they are doing them while dressed in suitjackets, ties, etc. I particularly would enjoy seeing you two do the “Changing Machines” maneuver while you are on your grand tour.

Lots to ponder here, not least the idea that Lloyd and I may well need to consider doing a bit of training if we’re going to be in any kind of physical shape to tackle the cycle routes of Schleswig Holstein & Friesland (more info on these supplied by Brian Lunn here), and perform a few of Jeff’s tricks.

It also raises the spectre of breakdowns & bike maintenance too. Are we prepared for punctures? Could we repair a chain on a rainy day in October on the Kiel Canal? Luckily, club members have even thought of the kind of tools we might need to take with us, notably this:


Appropriately enough, it’s called ‘The Nutter‘…

The 17th Adventure Club Podcast: Langeoog, Lili Marlene & whisky

Holidays are now over, and we resume podcasting with a slightly longer than usual show covering two days in the book instead of one. On October 17 and October 18, our heroes Carruthers & Davies find themselves in the Otsumer Ee between the islands of Spiekeroog & Langeroog, until  bad weather forces them to head for the port of Bensersiel. Lloyd (NotDavies) tackles October 17. Tim (notCarruthers) considers October 18.

First, though, we make an important announcement about our attempts to raise money on (01:50) We discuss how we’re still keen to publish a new ‘Handbook Edition’ of The Riddle of the Sands, but also explain why we’re now going to have to wait a year before undertaking the  real-life adventure. See for details.

Lloyd (or rather Club Member Tony) introduces us to the dark art of pig ballast (07:52); a few basic facts about Langeoog and a correction by Club Member Tony (the other Tony) about groynes (11:15); the story of Lale Anderson (Langeoog resident for many years), and an even more amazing story about the song ‘Lili Marlene’ (14:26).

Lale Anderson and the water tower on Langeoog. By Fueffa (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

Tim gets excited about 19th century customs duty and the ‘Zollverein’ (24:16); we hazard guesses about what kind of whisky, salt and coffee Davies would have on board the boat Dulcibella (28:16); the story of Pattersons whisky (including talking parrots) (29:00); Cerebos salt and a tobacco tin (35:31); Symingtons coffee – and pea flour (37:58).

Club Business. Peter on a filthy sounding drink that isn’t pink gin (40:20); Brian on modern-day cycling kit (41:44); Nick on 1903 cycling kit (43:14); John and Kevin on Langeoog airfields (44:49); Kevin & Ian on the gunboat Blitz (45:03); the discovery of a North Sea gin (45:22); Jeff on a fantastic spy literature & film conference (46:38).

Missions for next week – members assistance required.

‘there lay the bones of a French war-vessel, wrecked ages ago. She carried bullion which has never been recovered’: are there ancient wrecks and sunken treasure to be had in these parts? Let’s find out.

‘coffee and Kümmel’: another foreign liqueur to try!

‘Their fathers made their living out of wrecks on this coast, and the children inherit a weakness for plunder’: is this true? Should we be wary of the locals?

‘…that dyke. Let’s walk along it’: we need to find this dyke so we can do the walk when we finally get out there.

Important news about the Riddle of the Sands Adventure Club

Dear friends and supporters of Riddle of the Sands Adventure Club

As you can see on our Unbound page, we’re currently over 40% of the way towards our funding target. Thank you so much for getting us this far. We really appreciate your generosity.

Obviously, it’s going to take us a bit more time than we initially hoped to raise the full amount needed to publish our new edition. And time – or, more specifically, the time of year – is not on our side.

civil service supply association clock

As you know, we have always intended to retrace the journey of Carruthers and Davies in the same timeframe as the original novel – a book which is, as we say repeatedly, curiously specific about dates and locations. This means we *have* to start the trip on September 23.

That’s the task we’ve set ourselves, and we don’t want to change it. But since it’s clear we’re not going to reach our target in time to go this year, we’re going to postpone the trip by a year, and go instead in September-October 2016.

A year’s a long time to wait for us to deliver. We understand that. If you don’t feel you can wait with us that long, you can of course reclaim your pledge back from Unbound (or transfer your pledge to another Unbound project if you prefer).

But if you do decide to stay with us, we’d like to offer you several added extras *for free* that will help to pass the time until next year’s full adventure takes place.


First of all, we’re planning to take a ‘taster trip’ to north Germany in early October of this year, as a kind of dress rehearsal for the full event in 2016. We’ll post text, audio and video for this trip, and links to most of it will be posted exclusively on Unbound, so only active subscribers will see it.

Secondly, when we get back, we’ll produce an ebook edition of the relevant chapters, with our own notes and material. This will give you a strong idea of what the book itself – the Handbook Edition – will eventually look like. (And it’ll give you an opportunity give us feedback on how we’re planning to put the book together, so we can be sure to deliver something you really like)

For the whole of the next 12 months, we’ll continue to podcast, blog and generally have fun with the book and with you.  And we’ll even branch out into some other books, extending the Adventure Club even further – to the Surrey of War of the Worlds, through Kent following Bond’s drive in Moonraker, or even to Greenmantle’s Istanbul.

With each new Adventure we’ll offer supporters exclusive content in terms of live reports, extra podcasts, pdfs and e-books. We’re going to work really hard to provide you a year’s worth of really good reasons to stay with us.

In fact, we’re rather hoping we might even do enough to persuade you to recommend the Adventure Club to your friends.

If everyone who’s pledged on Unbound so far got a couple of other people to come on board, we’d reach our target straight away and be ready to go!

We do hope you’ll stay with us. We believe the edition of Riddle of the Sands you’ve subscribed to will be unique and beautiful. You may have to wait a little longer for it, but we promise to make the wait worthwhile.

Ahoy and thanks again for all your support. We’re really enjoying the adventure. We hope you are too.

Lloyd and Tim