ranz von Papen, the Military Attaché at the German Embassy in New York was at his desk that morning. He held the paper to the candle flame as orange flames engulfed the letter. He held it up for a few seconds before dropping it into the dustbin. It confirmed the arrangements for shipping the guns to San Diego.
John Devoy, the Sinn Féin’s powerful ally in North America, had put his assistant Joseph McGarrity on the job. McGarrity had ensured that the guns would be taken from New York via an Irish-American steamship to Galveston, Texas and from there to San Diego by rail.
Franz von Papen smiled to himself.
* * *
“Har Dayal is out on bail. But he won’t be able to stay longer. He is fleeing America today.”
Mohammed Barakatullah paused for a second and looked around the room. Ram Chandra and Bhagwan Singh were listening. Ram Chandra leaned forward to speak.
“The Ghadar is very important. Lala Har Dayal may have been the founder, but it is imperative that we continue to gather support for the fight here in the United States against the Empire!”
“I agree,” said Bhagwan Singh.
“I suggest Bhagwan Singh become the President, Ram Chandra the Editor and I will be the Vice President of the organization. The cohesion problem of Hindu, Muslim and Sikh brothers would be aptly addressed!” said Barakatullah unaware of the turbulent times that were yet to come.
* * *
The British Consul-General A. Carnegie Ross was fuming. On his desk, in front of him was the judgment that convicted several of his men for violating United States Neutrality Laws. His agents were involved in recruiting for the British Army on United States soil.
‘That bastard…’ Ross muttered to himself, grinding his teeth. The object of his ire was John W. Preston of the US Attorney’s office who prosecuted the case.
Ross’ assistant was waiting silently for his instructions.
“Send the intelligence information about the Indians, Irish and Germans to Preston and ask our legal team to file an appeal on the recruiting case!”
* * *
Mohammed Barakatullah headed out to Afghanistan to assist in the attack and uprising against the British Raj. Bhagwan Singh was out of the United States trying to establish contacts and expand the network. That was the time when Ram Chandra took control over the entire organization leading up to fissures in the Ghadar party on religious lines. It didn’t help that Ram Chandra’s activities, especially use of funds were being questioned. No one realized they were on a slippery slope.
* * *
“I am Wilhelm von Brincken, Military Attaché with the German Consulate. Glad to meet you Mr. Ram Chandra!”
“Glad to see you Mr. von Brincken. I understand you have brought us funds and details of the plan.”
“Yes. Our enemies are out to get us. We have to be one step ahead of them in this game.”
“I am sure our Irish friends would be of great help here!”
“Yes. John Devoy sent a strong person from the Irish Republican Brotherhood for managing the logistics for the Southern California part of the plan. His name is Larry de Lacey. I am sure you know him.”
“The Americans will search large vessels that leave its ports. De Lacey has worked with our San Francisco consulate to arrange a small ship–a schooner, Annie Larsen. It will leave with the guns and ammunition from San Diego, California under Captain Paul Schlueter and William Page.”
“Is a schooner fit for such a tumultuous voyage?” asked Ram Chandra.
“No. The Annie Larsen is not fit for a transpacific trip. It cannot undertake the voyage to India by itself. That’s where the SS Maverick comes into picture. At around the same time that Annie Larsen leaves San Diego, the steam ship SS Maverick will leave from San Pedro, California under Captain John Starr-Hunt with a crew of around 25 Persians.”
Wilhelm von Brincken winked at Ram Chandra.
“The crew will of course be your Indian friends with fake Persian passports. The two vessels will rendezvous at Socorro Island off Mexico where the weapons will be transferred to the SS Maverick which would take the guns first to the Dutch East Indies and then to India. If the SS Maverick is not able to make it to the Dutch East Indies, the ship will sail to Siam where Indian and German agents will smuggle the guns via Burma into India!”
“American guns to India for a revolt against the British Raj supported by Germany and logistically aided by the Irish Republican Brotherhood… The Empire doesn’t stand a chance!” remarked Ram Chandra.
“Yes! We would like nothing more than a Britain with a reduced ability to wage a war against Germany,” said von Brincken.
“And we would like nothing more than Indian and Irish independence!” said a beaming Ram Chandra shaking von Brincken’s hands vigorously.
* * *
John Preston had just finished meeting with MI6 agent J. S. Hale a.k.a Charles Lamb who had infiltrated the Ghadar as an Irishman. He had been pushing the Indo-Irish-Germans into riskier activities and providing the US Attorney’s office with evidence.
Preston was thrilled that he now had a solid case.
* * *
The Annie Larsen couldn’t rendezvous with the SS Maverick as planned. It hadn’t even left the dry dock until days after the Annie Larsen had set sail. The schooner waited for about a month before setting sail to Acapulco, Mexico to replenish supplies including fresh water. When the SS Maverick reached Socorro Island, Annie Larsen wasn’t there. Two crew members left behind by Captain Starr-Hunt informed Captain Schleuter about Annie Larsen’s trip to Acapulco. After multiple unsuccessful attempts, Annie Larsen’s Captain Schlueter gave up and docked at the Hoquaim, Washington where US Customs agents raided the ship on June 29, 1915 and seized the cargo.
* * *
The San Francisco courtroom was full. The US Attorney’s office led the prosecution. The Irish-American law firms defended the Indo-Irish-German conspirators. It wasn’t clear what the British Intelligence agents were doing there, though.
US Attorney John W. Preston and his assistant Annette Abbott Adams had presented a compelling case with dozens of witnesses, complex timelines, a plethora of evidence and maps. The closing arguments had just been completed and the courtroom had gathered after five minutes of recess.
A turbaned man rose and walked towards Ram Chandra and shot him dead in the courtroom. A US Marshal swiftly pulled his gun and shot over the heads of the attorneys and killed the assailant who was later revealed to be Ram Singh, a member of the Sikh faction of the Ghadar party led by Bhagwan Singh. He had smuggled a gun inside the courtroom.
The jury was brought in for final instructions after the military guards from Alcatraz secured the courtroom after searching everyone and clearing the room except for the plaintiffs’ and defendants’ lawyers and a couple of British Intelligence officers. The jury deliberated for more than ten hours and handed a verdict before midnight that convicted all but one of the defendants, excluding the dead for the crime of raising an army in the United States to fight against Britain.
Thus began the shutdown of the Ghadar network in the United States.
The details of the Hindu German Conspiracy Trial in which the Annie Larsen affair was a primary offence cited makes for extremely interesting reading. The various connections between people, nations, intelligence agencies, resistance organizations and even ships are mindboggling.
The Hindu German Conspiracy Trial was the most expensive that was conducted in the United States at that time. Here is what happened to the people who were involved in the Annie Larsen affair.
Ram Chandra – Lead conspirator, Ghadar party leader: Shot dead by Sikh co-conspirator Ram Singh by an automatic pistol mysteriously obtained from a restroom in the court building
Ram Singh – Co-conspirator, Ghadar party member: Shot and killed by US Marshal James B. Holohan in the California courtroom
Lala Har Dayal – Founder of the Ghadar party: Fled to Berlin, Germany. Lived in Sweden. Died in Philadelphia in 1939.
Franz von Papen – Military Attaché at the German Embassy, NY: Became Chancellor of Germany and participated in the rise of Adolf Hitler
Wilhelm von Brincken - Military Attaché at the German Embassy, CA: Became a Hollywood actor and war movie consultant
Mohammed Barakatullah – The Muslim Ghadar member: Became the self-proclaimed prime minister of a provisional Indian Government headquartered in Kabul, Afghanistan. He was not successful in leading a rebellion in the tribal areas of what is now Pakistan
John Devoy – Irish rebel: Editor of Gaelic American until his death in New York City in 1928
Joseph McGarrity and Larry de Lacey – Irish Republican Brotherhood members: – Raided the office of John Devoy at Gaelic American and helped position Eamon de Valera to win over Clan-na-Gael and Irish Republican Brotherhood (Eamon de Valera became the defacto Irish President)
Bhagwan Singh (“Bhai Bhagwan Singh Gyanee”) – Ghadar party leader: Convicted in the Hindu German Conspiracy trial and served two years in McNeill Island Federal Penitentiary
John W. Preston – US District Attorney: Promoted to Assistant Attorney General and then Judge. He later returned to private practice.
Annette Abbott Adams – Assistant to John W. Preston: Became the first woman US Attorney and the first woman Assistant Attorney General in 1920. She also ran for Vice President, unsuccessfully. After decades of private practice, she became a district judge and later the first woman Justice on a California Supreme CourtBibliography
- Plowman, M. E. (2009). The Odd at Odds: British Spies and US Attorneys versus a Conspiracy of German Junkers, Indian Revolutionaries, and Irish Republicans during WWI. Journal of the Oxford University History Society
- Annie Larsen affair. (2010, August 28). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:27, October 17, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Annie_Larsen_affair&oldid=381573410
- Ghadar Party page (2010). On the web, Retrieved October 17, 2010, from http://www.sikhpioneers.org/gadar.html
DISCLAIMER: This is a partly dramatized work of fiction about historical events.