The AUD


The Aud, was the 1062ton220 x 32 x 12 ft, former SS Castro of the Wilson Line of Hull, England. This ship was captured by the German Navy in the Kiel Canal,at the beginning of World War One in August 1914.

Renamed the Libau, she remained inactive until 1916, when designated as the vessel to carry a cargo of arms to Ireland, to aid the 1916 Easter rising.

The Aud aka SMSLibau (ex Castro)


Masquerading as the Aud, an existing Norwegian vessel of similar appearance, she set sail from the Baltic port of Lubeck on April 9th 1916, under theCommand of Karl Spindler,and his crew of twenty two men, all of whom were volunteers.The Aud, laden with an estimated 20,000 rifles, 1000,000 rounds of ammunition, 10 machine guns, and explosives, evaded patrols of both the British 10th Cruiser Squadron, and local Auxillary patrols.

After surviving violent storms off Rockall, the Aud arrived in Tralee Bay on April 20th. There they were due to meet with Roger Casement and others, with Casement having been landed nearby by U-19. Due to a combination of factors, the transfer of arms did not take place.The Aud, attempting to escape the area, was trapped by a blockade of British ships. Captain Spindler allowed himself to be escorted towards Cork Harbour, in the company of Acacia class sloop HMS Bluebell (below left)


Karl Spindler


At this point Roger Casement and his companions who had been landed by the submarine U-19in Kerry had been captured .
The car-load of Volunteers who were supposed to meet Spindler had crashed near Kenmare so there was no hope of an organised transfer of arms. With Spindler and his crew on a ship with no radio or other means of communicating their plight The poorly organised gun-running plan was nearing an end.




Queenstown Command orders assigning patrol trawlers to search for Aud.

The voyage of the Aud was compromised from the very beginning, with German codes having been broken, and agents reporting the movements of submarines and shipping from both the Baltic and occupied ports. The British Naval Intelligence Division (NID) knew that there was an arms ship on the way, but did not know precisely when. Therefore from mid-March 1916, extra patrols were in place all around the West and South Coasts of Ireland to intercept any suspicious vessels for searching.

 

At the approaches to Cork Harbour, the crew of the Bluebell noticed that the Aud had stopped. The Bluebell then went back about a cables length, and saw a small cloud of white smoke issuing from the after hold. At the same time two German Naval Ensigns were flown from the mast and two boats were launched, one from either side. The Bluebell went round across the bows, and the occupants of the two boats, coming towards her, hoisted a flag of truce, and put up their hands.



Part of bayonet scabbard from Aud cargo
(In Irish Defence Forces Museum Collins Barracks, Cork)

They were taken prisoners on the Bluebell and theAud sank almost immediately afterwards. Captain Spindler had scuttled the Aud, using pre-set charges of explosives in the aft hold. Thus ended the career of the only German naval surface ship to enter Irish waters during World War One. Following this, the wreck was depth charged and wire swept a number of times.

The Aud as she remains today on the seabed off Cork harbour



A three-dimensional image of the wreck of the Aud, with the 'peak'
in the middle representing the boiler.

Image kindly supplied by local Angling boat skipper Joseph Lynch
His website can be viewed HERE






There would have been a number of reasons for this; to make sure that the weapons were scattered and made unrecoverable by the rebel forces, to prevent submarines using the wreck as cover, and to prevent the wreck snagging and damaging post war fishing trawls. During the Second World War, the wreck was again depth charged, this time by the newly formed Irish Navy.The rifles, and the majority of the ammunition originated in Russia. They were captured as a result of the rout of Russian forces at the battle of Tannenburg in 1914. These rifles were the Mosin-Nagant Model 1891 'any German captured rifles in the year 1916 or prior would be 1891s and 1891/10s.'( Correspondence from D.Jones Feb 05), one of which was identified during the trial of Roger Casement, by Colonel N. Belaeiw.

Selection of Ammunition from Aud



Mosin-Nagant rifle from Aud

(In Irish Defence Forces Museum Collins Barracks, Cork)


List of items recovered from Aud,
used in trial of Roger Casement.

"Shown a rifle, much the worse for wear, and asked if it was a Russian weapon, the witness, after examining it carefully, said "Yes". It had been manufactured at the Russian Imperial Toula (sic) Rifle Works in 1905" (Irish Times, May 18, 1916). Examples of rifles, foodstuffs, and other items taken from the Aud, can be viewed at the Cork Public Museum, Fitzgerald Park, Cork, Irish Defence Forces Museum,Collins Barracks , Cork, and at the Imperial War Museum, London. For more information on the rifles click here

Mosin-Nagant rifle and ersatz bayonet scabbards on display at Imperial War Museum, London. These were recovered by Admiralty divers shortly after sinking and some were used in evidence at trial of Roger Casement. Imperial German Standard flag, one of two recovered from Aud. The other was handed over to the German Military Attache in 1936 on behalf Admrial Lewis Bayley 'as a token of friendship and respect to the German Navy'


Portion of the Log of HMS Bluebell (Lieut Hood RNVR) recording the end of the Aud:

9.23 Daunt Rock Lt Vsl Close
9.28 Closed on s/s Aud who blew ship
up Crew surrendered 3 officers and
19 men of German Navy taken prisoners

9.40 Vessel 'Aud' sank

10.45 Landed crew of 'Aud' Proceeded
11.20 returned to harbour

11.50 Returned to Daunt Rock

 

Karl Spindler wrote his own account of the voyage of the Libau, published in 1920. The English edition was published in 1921 under the title 'Gun Running for Casement' This is the second edition published in Berlin in 1931.

John de Courcey Ireland authored this colourful account of the voyage of the Aud in 1966. It was reprinted in 1982 and 1996 The version above is a reprint of the 1931 Karl Spindler book, published by Anvil Books, Tralee Co.Kerry in 1966.


The latest and most comprehensive account of the Aud saga
by Xander Clayton. Just published April 2007
Click on the book cover to go to this site

 

One of the more unusual salvaged items from the wreck of the Aud was this tin of 'Water Biscuits', recovered by Admiralty divers in 1916. It forms part of the interesting 1916 Rising display, contained in the Cork Public Museum, Fitzgeralds Park, Cork.

 

Ammuniton boxes on wreck
Loose box of Mauser rounds
Scattered ammunition rounds on seabed
Rifle stock protrudes from wreck
Another view of rifle stock
Diver beside boiler
   
Section of hull
   

 

 

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Page last updated 12th April 2007

 

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