By John Biggins
During this ironic, hilarious, and poignant tale, Otto Prohaska is a submarine captain serving the almost-landlocked Austro-Hungarian Empire. He faces a number of not going conditions, from petrol poisoning to exploding toilets to trigger-happy Turks. All indicators aspect to the entire cave in of the bloated empire he serves, yet Otto refuses to desert the Habsburgs of their hour of want.
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Additional info for A Sailor of Austria: In Which, Without Really Intending to, Otto Prohaska Becomes Official War Hero No. 27 of the Habsburg Empire (The Otto Prohaska Novels)
These musings were interrupted by a toot from the steam pinnace’s whistle. The mailbags and one or two last-minute passengers had arrived and we were on our way to the Imperial and Royal U-Boat Station, PolaBrioni, where I was to take up my new command, the submarine U8. Once more I took out the Marine Oberkommando telegram from my wallet. ” So I was already a U-Boat captain. Somehow, in those early days, that honour did not signify a great deal to me. There was a great deal of bustle about us as the pinnace hissed smoothly across the waters of the harbour: picket boats and liberty boats and tugs and small craft by the dozen; also a couple of destroyers lying at the oil wharf, even though most of the light forces were now down south at Cattaro.
A short, rather tubby man in dirty linen trousers and a uniform jacket entered the room and saluted. ” “Ah, Herr Fregattenleutnant, I would like to introduce your new commanding officer, Linienschiffsleutnant Otto Prohaska. ” The man eyed me with no very evident interest or respect. “Excellent, Herr Kommandant. ” 45 A Sailor of Austria Thierry turned to me. ” So I was to sail with a Hungarian for a Second Officer. Among most Austrians of my generation our Hungarian partners (usually referred to in private as “the Magyar scum”) were regarded with at least a certain mistrust as being engaged in a gigantic conspiracy to run the entire Monarchy in their own interests.
But little by little, in those last weeks of April, we sorted out the technical problems to a point where U8 might perhaps make Venice without having to be towed back. 52 John Big gins My crew were an extraordinary collection of men. But then, AustroHungarian naval crews were always the subject of amazed comment, recruited as they were from all the tribes and sub-tribes of that black-andyellow ethnic ragbag of an Empire of ours. k. Armee was German of course, but for internal purposes each regiment would use the language of the majority of its men, which all the officers would be required to learn.