Saturday, 14 November 2009

British Naval operations at Riga 13th-15th October 1919

Over the years I've tried  to understand the timeline of the British Naval action near Riga during October and especially in the days before HMS Dragon was shelled. 

13th October 1919 

"an ultimatum was forwarded by the British Admiral commanding in the Baltic to the Officer Commanding German Troops, whose Headquarters are at MITAU, ordering him to withdraw his troops from positions in the vicinity of DUNAMUND by noon on 15th October.
At about 2130 thirteen refugees were brought off to "PRINCESS MARGARET" IN "DRAGON"'s motor boat.
The situation was reported to be satisfactory.

14th October 1919

At about 1800 firing was observed to be in progress up the river beyond the Destroyers and flashes of heavy gunfire were observed in a South- Westery direction. Three more refugees were put on board at 2100.
Situation reported satisfactory. Lettish detachments reach Dvina Bridge this morning but were forced to retire. Lettish detachments reach KEKKAU area and are maintaining their position.

15th October 1919

The French Commodore's written orders for the bombardment were received on board at 1100 and, as the British Admiral's ultimatum had not been complied with, the Allied Flotilla, being still at anchor inside the entrance to the river, opened a brisk fire on German positions on the Western bank at 1114.

"PRINCESS MARGARET" shortened in to short stay and remained in positions, with steam on engines , ready to move if necessary.

"DRAGON" having received her orders proceeded to a position to the Westward of the river entrance with a view to enfilading the fortress of BOLDERAJA and commenced firing at 1135...... 1145 "CLEOPATRA" arrived , obtained Commodore's orders from "PRINCESS MARGARET"  and proceeded to bombard positions near "DRAGON"

At 1215 "WINDSOR" arrived , obtained Commodore's orders from "PRINCESS MARGARET" and proceeded into river to join Flotilla.

At 1307 the Allied Flotillas were observed to be moving up the river, firing on the Western bank as thet proceeded; Lettish troops at this time were crossing to the Western bank in tugs.

At 1347 " CLEOPATRA" commenced firing, in conjunction with "DRAGON", on enemy's communications in the direction of the MITAU road.  The enemy was not observed to return the fire of the Flotilla or Light Cruisers.......

At 1337 "ABDIEL" reported that Lettish troops had taken DUNAMUNDE Fortress and soon after they had occupied BOLDERAJA. Several fires were seen to break out on the Western bank and apparently ammunition dumps were exploded. The beacon at the entrance to the river is also observed to be on fire. This beacon is believed  to have been used by the enemy as an observation post. During the night it collapsed."

Reference ADM 137/1667

There are some questions/ comments  I have about this situation....

Who were the "refugees" ?

 How close were the ships to the "Western bank"? and how close to Riga would they have been.....  I get the impression the ships were quite close and would have been quite a target even at night.