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 WAR IN RUSSIAN BOLSHEVIK WATERS

1919

HM Monitor M.27 on River Dvina, North Russian

 
 

 

 

..... 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"

If you have any information on this photograph (click to enlarge), please email Frederick Appleby

Links - Russian Navy

     

January

Far Eastern Waters - British armoured cruiser 'Kent' arrives at Vladivostok in Siberia to support Allied forces

 

April

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 Russians.

 

May

Caspian Sea

21st - Bolshevik destroyer MOSKVITYANIN (1906, 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 the 'Moskvityanin'.

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June

Arctic Waters

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 Russian mines.

Baltic Sea

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 L.27, NavyPhotos).

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.

 

July

Arctic Waters

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.

Baltic Sea

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.

 

August

Baltic Sea

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, old armoured 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 Pervozvanny' (1908, 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.

 

September

Baltic Sea

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 'VERULAM' (1,100t, 4-4in, 4-21in tt). Three days later "Verulam" is mined in the Gulf of Finland.

Arctic Waters

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.

 

October

Baltic Sea

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 destroyers
2 small monitors
1 submarine

4 minesweepers
3 coastal motor boats

 

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revised 08/04/09