Author Topic: Proof of rescue attempt?  (Read 3633 times)

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Offline Jon

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Proof of rescue attempt?
« on: January 10, 2007, 03:39:41 AM »
My apologies if I am posting this in the wrong section.  From time to time the question arises as to whether any official attempt to rescue the Romanovs was sanctioned by the British Government.  By chance I came across the following passage in a book on the 10th Cruiser Squadron activities in the Arctic during the First World War - the Big Blockade, E Keble Chatterton, published in October 1932:

'Occasionally some special service would summon an armed merchant cruiser from her patrol and temporarily weaken the line.  Early in October [1915], when Russian affairs were causing the Allies so much anxiety, the Arlanza was sent to Archangel to convey a certain person, but, alas, she hit one of those mines with which the Germans had fouled the White Sea tracks, through she was towed safely into Yukanski Roads...'

Can anyone suggest who the 'certain person' was?

Offline Phil_tomaselli

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Re: Proof of rescue attempt?
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2007, 08:05:40 AM »
October 1915 is surely too early for anyone to be thinking about "rescue" as even with the problems being faced by the Russian armies I'm not sure that anyone was talking about Revolution orv the need to save anyone.

On the other hand "special service" is always interesting.  The logbooks of Arlanza covering the period are extant in the National Archive so there MAY be a reference as to why she was detached.  Probably not (usually the logs just record weather, course, speed etc) but worth a glance Saturday.  If anything crops up I'll advise.

Phil T

Offline Jon

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Re: Proof of rescue attempt?
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2007, 12:17:37 PM »
Thankyou Phil -

Arlanza came under the command of Admiral de Chair - her primary role was as part of the blockade stopping and checking cargoes of ships en route to the Baltic or Germany.  The author E Keble Chatterton was an officer under his command.  Clearly the 'certain person' must have had some significance to warrant sending a vessel specifically to uplift him/her - and if the person was to removed clandestinely there would surely have to be an ostensibly innocent reason for her voyage.  I read Keble Chatterton's text as hinting at something which some of his readers might be expected to understand - I can only speculate that he was referring to a British secret agent or intermediary or a member of the Romanov family whose continued presence in Russia might be a problem in wartime conditions.   The use of the Arlanza could simply have been a matter of convenience and to prevent risk to warships, or the ship herself might have been chosen because of her former passenger liner status.   A similar question arises over the June 1916 voyage of HMS Hampshire from Scapa Flow to Russia with Lord Kitchener aboard (and a rumoured large sum in gold) -

Kind regards

Jon
« Last Edit: May 26, 2009, 03:56:14 PM by Alixz »

Offline Phil_tomaselli

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Re: Proof of rescue attempt?
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2007, 02:47:40 PM »
British Foreign Office file held under national Archive reference FO 371/2544 has telegrams relating to this incident.

Arlanza was sent to Archangel to pick up Russian delegates to a Munitions Conference in Britain.  The delegation was led by Admiral Roussin. She hit a mine 25 miles south east of Svyatoi Nos, was flooded in the fore compartment but towed to Svyatoi Nos by British minesweepers and a steamer.  Admiral Roussin, Colonel Knox (the British Military attache) and the other members of the delegation were transferred to the Wilson Line ship Novo.  Admiral Roussin was particularly complimentary about the conduct of the officers and crew in the emergency.  The whole delegation eventually proceeded to Britain, on the liner Otranto, taking with them an unspecified quantity of Platinum.

Phil T

Offline Jon

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Re: Proof of rescue attempt?
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2007, 03:00:27 AM »
Phil -  many thanks for that vey prompt and detailed research!  Jon