After negotiations with additional representatives, Germany agreed to sell guns to the Irish rebels. Getting the guns there, through British wartime blockades and over treacherous waters, was an extremely dangerous and secret mission.
A former British ship Castro captured by Germany at the start of the war, was chosen. A crew was hand-picked (bachelors preferred) from those who a volunteered for a highly dangerous, secret mission. The Castro, docked alongside a larger ship to hide it from view, was loaded with sealed unmarked boxes of guns by a crew unaware of the contents. The boxes were then covered pit-props (lengths of heavy timber used to brace the roofs of mines), tin baths, and wooden doors. The name Libau was painted on its side, and a rumour floated that it was heading for Libau, Latvia. The German captain, Karl Spindler, was not told the object of the mission until just before the ship sailed.
A few hours out to sea, a transformation took place. Under heavy winds and torrential rain several sailors were suspended over the sides of the ship to paint on the new name Aud and home country Norge. The crew were given Norwegian merchant marine uniforms, exact replicas of the real ones down to the very buttons. Norwegian sea charts, maps and logs were spread across tabletops; bunks were remade, using Norwegian bed linens; the galley was stocked with Norwegian canned foods. The crews’ quarters were littered with Norwegian magazines and letters from fictional girlfriends, complete with snapshots.
The ship was now a Norwegian merchant ship.
Below deck, a heavy concrete casing containing dynamite was stowed. Detonation wires were run to the upper deck where they were concealed. Orders were that if captured, the crew was to blow the ship up rather than have the cargo fall into British hands.
To be continued…