Tuesday, 2 November 2010


From time to time I find some really interesting and relevant item described online that relate to to to the Allied intervention in the Baltic  and especially HMS Dragon but due to lack of time I will often save details of the page for later.

In some cases diaries and journals have come up for auction which I would love to take a peek at.....problem is that I only find out about these items after the sale (not that I could afford to bid!) and now I find that I can no longer find the original entry using google!

I have tried the Imperial War Museum which has some diaries and audio tapes in which seamen describe their experiences but not this one.

"journal kept throughout the Great War and during the subsequent Russian Civil War, from 21 July 1914 to 3 January 1920, recording service on board the Acheron Class destroyer HMS Amphion, serving with the 3rd Division of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla, from 31 July 1914, and participating in the Battle of Heligoland Bight on 38 August; transferring with the rest of the crew of the Ferret to the M Class destroyer HMS Nepean on 5 April 1916, serving on her until the end of the war; transferring to the D Class cruiser HMS Dragon on 8 October 1918 ("with 2 Russian Officers & one British") and recording the Dragon'sservice in the Baltic during the civil war, arriving at Riga on 13 October 1919, where they "Found German General & his troops who had been guarding Riga had turned Bolshevists & were attacking Rig"...Sat 8th Nov. Received signal from C in C to hold Riga & Libau at all costs. Mon 10th Nov. We opened fire on Cement Factory occupied by Germans at 6.30 a.m. At 2.45 we started to fire at an armoured train which was shelling the town of Riga. The Germans were using Gas shells & were killing many of the civil population. At 8.30 we again started to bombard the Cement Factory while the Letts surrounded it & at 10.0 PM they took it at the point of the bayonet..."), the journal ending with the Dragon's return to Sheerness on 3 January 1920, some 150 pages, in a notebook, canvas-backed naval chart wrappers, postcard of the Dragon pasted over opening text, minor staining and signs of wear, 4to, 1914-1920 

Sold for £576 inclusive of Buyer's Premium

Statement of Henry Elijah Baker HMS Wryneck 18th October 1919

The subject of food or rather the lack of adequate suppies for Seamen being sent out to the Baltic during 1919 is a common theme when looking through some of the documents in the National archives.
Henry's statement, which was taken following his arrest shows that the shortage of food caused consideable discontent and unrest amongst the crew resulting in a group of seamen leaving their ships and travelling to London by train.

"in London several upon seeing the Police broke from the party. The Inspector was informed we wanted to go to Whitehall. We formed fours by common consent and marched to the police station. I had the petition on arrival at the Police station, and also on arrival here on Tuesday. We left on on Wednesday and I gave it to someone else in our party. No civilian has at any time been on board to address a meeting on bolshevism or has any attempt been made to cause us to refuse duty. None of us would have left the ship had we been sure of better food conditions in the Baltic. I refuse to give the names of the other men in the party with it now or who have left it"
 signed Henry Elijah Baker Cell 69

ADM 1/8570/291

OOH LA LA!! UK-France Military co-operation 2010

I noticed that the papers today are full of dramatic headlines and articles about plans for Anglo-French co-operation on military matters.

Of course, many people like me who have a personal interest in the British Navy's role in the Latvian War of Independence know that the concept of Anglo-French co-operation is not new even if previously it was on a much smaller scale.

My Great-Grandfather John Stephen Stroud and 8 other seamen (some of them boys aged 17) where killed when their ship HMS Dragon, which was sent to help defend Riga was shelled by Russio-German forces under the command of Bermondt Avalov during October 1919 .

HMS Dragon was  under the command of Commodore  Jean Joseph Brisson of the French Navy and he in turn had orders from the British Admiral Sir Walter Henry Cowan.

The London Gazette of Tuesday 6th of April 1920 contains a record of  the action at Riga:

"Owing to the situation in the Gulf of Finland and the necessity of supporting the advnce of the Estonians on the left flank of the Russian Army, I was unable to leave those waters myself and so requested Commodore Brisson, the French Senior Naval Officer, who had by then proceeded to Riga , to take charge of the operations there, and to open fire on all positions within range on the left bank of the Dvina River, at the expiration of the time given in my ultimatum to Prince Avaloff Bermont , who was ostensibly in command of the troops occupying those positions and attacking Riga.

This Commodore Brisson most faithfully and effectively did at noon on the 15th October, apparently much to the surprise of Bermont, who had , in reply to my ultimatum, stated that he was friendly to the Allies and was only resisting Bolshevism, and disowned all connection with the Germans, and whose forces were in position and in little shelter, in some places less than one thousand yards from ours and the French ships"
Remembrance Ceremonies take place  in Riga and flowers are laid at memorials on land and at sea to remember those who lost their lives during this time and to also reflect on the contribution of the British and French Navy  in helping  Latvia to achieve its Independence.

French Naval Ship Commemorates Captain Brison of the Freedom Battles Latvijas armijas 90. gadadienas mājas lapa