Tuesday, 2 November 2010

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