By John Biggins

ISBN-10: 159013107X

ISBN-13: 9781590131077

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 bathrooms to trigger-happy Turks. All indicators aspect to the full cave in of the bloated empire he serves, yet Otto refuses to desert the Habsburgs of their hour of want.

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Extra 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)

Sample text

But there is a war on, we are expected to become operational by the end of this month and we’re certainly going to have to go below thirty metres when we get into action. I quite understand your hesitation after what happened in March; also that you don’t feel totally confident with a new captain. But there we are: we are all sailors of Austria, we all volunteered for the U-Boat Service—in respect of which, I might add, many of you receive allowances that practically double your basic pay and I could send any or all of you back to sandpapering the anchor on a battleship if I felt like it.

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. In the Navy, though, recruits were posted to ships regardless of language, so that even the smallest vessels might hold a complete set of all the Dual Monarchy’s eleven officially recognised nationalities. U8 had (if I remember correctly) representatives of nine nationalities, and when I commanded U26 in 1917 my crew of twenty men contained a complete set, plus a Jew, a gypsy and a Transylvanian Saxon, none of whom were officially recognised as separate national groups.

So the Monarchy’s largest shipbuilders, the Stabilimento Tecnico of Trieste, were approached and asked to build an experimental submarine to the same pattern as those being built by Whitehead: a design purchased from the murderous Amer­ ican schoolmaster Mr Holland, who was supplying submarines to half the world’s navies at the time. The directors of the Stabilimento Tecnico replied that they couldn’t build submarines and had no wish to try. But in the end the Chief of the Naval Staff intervened and threatened the yard with the loss of a couple of fat battleship contracts.

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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) by John Biggins


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