..... the aftermath of the Russian Revolution
on the reverse
- "Group of Russian Royalist Officers took passage in HMS
Forester passing Black Sea, landed at Sverlina, Roumania. Sat.
June 21st 1919"
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Far Eastern Waters - British armoured cruiser 'Kent' arrives at Vladivostok in Siberia
to support Allied forces
Russia - Guns and guns crews landed
from the 'Kent' at Vladivostok are by now in action far
to the west in the Urals in support of the White
21st - Bolshevik destroyer
570t, 2-11pdr, 3tt). The Bolsheviks organise a naval
force including old destroyers transferred from the
Baltic for operations on the inland Caspian Sea. In
action against an improvised British Caspian Flotilla
armed with 4in and 6in guns to the northeast off
Alexandrovsk, several Russian ships are sunk including
24th - British minesweeper
'SWORD DANCE' (1918, 290t, 1-6pdr). As Allied operations continue
against the Bolsheviks on the Dvina River, south of
Archangel, the shallow-draught 'Sword Dance' is sunk by
4th - British submarine 'L.55' (1918, 960t, 6-21in tt, 2-4in).
With the British Baltic Squadron blockading the Bolshevik
naval base of Kronstadt on Kotlin Island laying off
Petrograd, warships on both sides are lost. On the 4th
(some accounts say the 9th) 'L-55' is in action with
Russian patrols and sunk by the gunfire of destroyers
'Azard' and 'Gavriil'. She is later raised and
commissioned into the Soviet Navy as 'L-55' (right - sister boat
16th/17th - Bolshevik light
cruiser 'OLEG' (1904,
6,600t, 16-5.1in). British light forces based on the
north side of the Gulf of Finland in Finnish waters sail
to attack Kronstadt. Evading the protecting destroyer
screen, coastal motor boat 'CMB-4' (Lt Agar) armed with a
single 14in torpedo, sinks the anchored 'Oleg' during the
night of the 16th/17th, but most of her crew are saved.
'CMB-4' escapes safely under heavy fire. + Lt Augustine
Agar RN is awarded the Victoria Cross.
3rd - British
minesweeper 'FANDANGO' (1918, 290t, 1-6pdr). In operations on the
Dvina River, 'Fandango', sister ship of 'Sword Dance' lost a few days before, is also
mined and sunk.
16th - British fleet
sweeping sloops 'GENTIAN' and 'MYRTLE' (both 1916, 1,250t, 2-4.7in). With the
Bolshevik bases defended by dense minefields, two more
British ships are lost on mines in the Gulf of Finland.
17th/18th - Attack on Kronstadt
Naval Base - Late
on the 17th, eight British 55ft type Coastal Motor Boats
led by Cdr Claude Dobson in 'CMB-31' head out of the
Finnish base of Bjorko Sound only 30 miles from Russia's
main naval port. Supported by RAF bombing raids, they
break into the inner harbour in the early morning. Cdr
Dobson directs the boats headed by CMB's '31', '79' and
'88'. Lt Agar VC in 'CMB-4' remains outside on guard.
As the attacks develop,
cruiser 'PAMIAT AZOVA' (1890, 6,000t) serving as submarine depot
ship 'Dvina' is hit by 'CMB-79' and sunk. In the rapidly
moving action, 'CMB-79' (1917, 11t, 1 or 2-18in torpedoes) is then
lost. The commanding officer of 'CMB-88' is killed and Lt
Steele, second-in-command takes over and presses on.
Accounts vary, but both Dobson's 'CMB-31' and Steele's
'CMB-88' appear to have made one hit each on the two
biggest ships. Dreadnought 'PETROPAVLOSK' (1914, 24,000t, 12-12in) sinks in
shallow water and is salvaged later, and pre-dreadnought 'Andrei
17,400t, 4-12in) seriously damaged. The British boats
fail to hit the Russian guardship, destroyer 'Gavriil'
which sinks two more of the attackers ('CMB-24' and 'CMB-62' or 'CMB-67' - accounts vary. The surviving
five boats escape. + Cdr Claude Dobson DSO, RN and Lt
Gordon Steele RN are awarded the Victoria Cross.
1st - British destroyer 'VITTORIA'
(1,100t, 4-4in, 4-21in
tt). Two recently completed 'V' class destroyers of the
Royal Navy are sunk within a few days of each other in
the Gulf of Finland. On the night of the 1st, 'Vittoria'
is torpedoed by Bolshevik submarine 'Pantera' off
Seiskari Island some miles to the west of Kronstadt.
4th - British destroyer
4-4in, 4-21in tt). Three days later "Verulam"
is mined in the Gulf of Finland.
16th - British monitors 'M-25' and 'M-27' (both 1915, 540t, 1-9.2in). By now
the Allies have decided to withdraw from
northern Russia. As the evacuation gets underway, 'M-25'
and 'M-27' of the White Sea Squadron have to be abandoned
when the Dvina River water level falls. They are blown up
to prevent capture by the Bolsheviks.
21st October - Russian destroyers
'GAVRIIL', 'KONSTANTIN' and 'VLADIMIR' (1916/17, 1,260t, 4-4in,
9-18in tt). As four Russian destroyers
of the same class escape from the Bolsheviks, three are lost in a British
minefield off Kronstadt in the Gulf of Finland with heavy
casualties. Only 'Azard' escapes. The ships were to be
handed over to the Royal Navy.
SUMMARY OF BRITISH LOSSES
In April 1918, seven submarines had to be scuttled. Between
December 1918 and September 1919 - just nine months -
British losses amounted to:
1 light cruiser
2 small monitors
3 coastal motor boats