invaded East Prussia - The Russian offensive
started on the 17th when First Army crossed the border
north of the Masurian Lakes. First contact was made in
the Battle of Gumbinnen and an attack on the 20th by
three German corps was held. Gen Prittwitz paniced and
wanted to fall back behind the Vistula River, thus
abandoning the whole of East Prussia. Gen Moltke
replaced him with Gen von Hindenburg, and Gen Ludendorff
joined him as chief of staff. Meanwhile the Russian
Second Army had crossed the border to the south of the
Masurian Lakes in the Tannenberg area, making German
retreat impossible. The bulk of German Eighth Army was
therefore moved southwest by train from Gumbinnen. In
the Battle of Tannenberg, starting on the 26th, the
Germans attacked the Russians, turning both flanks,
encircling them, and in just six days destroying Second
Army and taking 100,000 prisoners.
attacked Polish Galicia - In the south of the
strategically vital Russian-Polish salient, the Austrian
commander Conrad took the offensive first to beat the
Russian's mobilization. His main effort was to be on the
west with a strong left wing consisting of First and
Fourth Armies. They were to move north between the
Vistula and Bug Rivers to take the Polish towns of
Lublin and Kholm. Russian plans were similar, and at the
Battles of Krasnik (23rd-26th) and Komarov
(26th-31st) just within Poland, the Austrians almost
won, but only gained tactical successes.
First Battle of Lemberg then took place through into
early September. The weaker Austrian right wing on the
southeast flank was in trouble with its reinforced Third
Army outnumbered three to one by the Russian Third and
Eighth Armies. In the Battle of Gnila Lipa River (a
tributary of the Dniester within Galicia) between 26th
and 30th, the Austrians were pushed back to the west of
Lemberg. The Russian south or left wing was now in a
position to outflank the Austrian armies fighting to the
north within Poland.
August - German cruiser 'MAGDEBURG' (1912,
4,570t, 12-10.5cm). German light cruisers 'Augsburg' and
'Magdeburg' continued minelaying and making other
sorties into the northern Baltic. Early on the 26th, in
thick fog, 'Magdeburg' ran hard aground on the island of
Odensholm at the southern entrance to the Gulf of
Finland (59-18N, 23-21E). Escorting destroyer 'V-26'
tried to tow her off, but without success. The crew
attempted to scuttle, but Russian cruisers 'Bogatyr' and
'Pallada' came up and opened fire. 'Magdeburg' was only
partly destroyed and the Russians recovered three sets
of the main German naval codes, complete with the
current key. One of the sets made its way quickly to the
Royal Navy’s 'Room 40' in London. Added to other British
captures, German naval codes were soon broken and gave
the Allies a major advantage at sea.
Prussia - As the Battle of Tannenberg was being
fought, Russian First Army (Rennenkampf) continued to
push slowly into East Prussia north of the Masurian
Lakes, but with the battle in the south lost by the
Russians, Rennenkampf took up a defensive position.
German Eighth Army (Hindenburg) moved north to face them
and on the 9th in the First Battle of the Masurian Lakes
made a frontal assault which was repulsed. But on the
same day, the Russian's southern flank in the Lakes area
was pushed back out of East Prussia, they covered their
retreat with a small counter-attack on the 10th, and
fell back towards the River Niemen. In the first East
Prussia Campaign, two Russian Armies were broken and
300,000 men lost.
- With the Russians threatening the Austrian left
wing fighting inside Poland, the rest of Austria's
Second Army was brought back from Serbia. In the Battle
of Rava-Russkaya (6th-10th), Austrian Gen Conrad tried
to outflank the Russian's Third and Eighth Armies in the
south, but the gap between Austrian First Army in the
north and the rest of his forces was exploited by
Russian cavalry. On the 11th, Conrad ordered retirement
behind the San River, and on the 16th to the
Gorlice-Tarnow Line with his left flank on the Vistula
River and the right in the Carpathian Mountains. The
Austrians had now been pushed back 135 miles west of
Lemberg, leaving all Austrian Galicia in Russian hands,
the fortress of Przemysl besieged, and German Silesia
threatened. The cost to the Austrians was 250,000 men
dead and wounded and 100,000 taken prisoner.
Germany threatened, four German corps moved 500 miles
from East Prussia to the Cracow area in Austria, just
behind the Austrian defences. The relatively small
German force became the Ninth Army and with Austrian
support prepared to attack Poland aiming for Warsaw .
- Pushing north into Poland in the First Battle for
Warsaw, the Germans were in sight of the Polish capital
by mid-month . But the Russians had the advantage in
numbers - four armies and 60 divisions against the 18
divisions of German Ninth Army and the Austrians. After
heavy fighting along the Vistula to the south of Warsaw
, the Germans made an orderly withdrawal to their own
frontier. The Austrians were also pushed back from the
San River, once again leaving behind the besieged city
October - Russian armoured cruiser 'PALLADA'
(1911, 7,800t, 2-20.3cm). Three German U-boats had been
sent to patrol the waters off the Gulf of Finland. The
Russians were also patrolling the area using unescorted
cruisers, and apparently unaware of the hard lessons the
Royal Navy was learning about the danger from
submarines. Armoured cruiser 'Pallada' was hit by a
single torpedo from 'U-26', her magazines exploded and
the entire crew of 600 men killed.
British Submarines - The Russian Baltic Fleet had
few really effective submarines and three British
'E'-class boats were ordered to make the hazardous
journey into the Baltic through the Sound separating
Denmark from Sweden. During the attempt in mid-month,
'E-11' (Lt-Cdr Naismith) was forced to turn back, but
'E-1' (Lt Cdr Laurence) and 'E-9' (Lt Cdr Horton of
World War 2 Battle of the Atlantic fame) got through.
Russia had abandoned the naval base at Libau and the
British boats made their way to Reval in the Gulf of
Finland, coming under the command of the Russian C-in-C.
Joined in late 1915 by more 'E' boats and then by four
'C' class, the British submarines came to play an
important part in stopping the German High Seas Fleet
exercising freely in the southern Baltic and disrupting
iron ore traffic from Lulea in Sweden.
- Gen Hindenburg was appointed C-in-C German
forces on the Eastern Front. With the Germans
outnumbered and the Austrians in the south shattered,
the Russians attacked towards German Silesia on the
11th. However German Ninth Army (Gen von Mackensen) had
concentrated between Thorn and Posen on the northeastern
border of the Polish salient, and attacked the flank of
the Russian advance from Poland into Silesia. In the
Battle for Lodz. the German drive almost succeeded, and
Mackensen moved at least 50 miles by mid November,
exploiting a gap between Russian First and Second
Armies, but Russian Fifth Army moved up and
counter-attacked. The threat to the German forces was
too great and one Corps at Lodz had to struggle against
a much larger Russian force before breaking out in late
November - German cruiser 'FRIEDRICH CARL'
(1903, 9,700t, 4-21cm). On her way to bombard Libau,
armoured cruiser 'Friedrich Carl', serving as a coastal
defence ship, sank on two mines in a Russian field laid
by destroyers, west-southwest of Memel (54-41N, 20-11E).
The shelling of Libau by other cruisers went ahead.
November - German
large torpedo boat 'S-124'
(1904, 470t, 3-5cm, 3-45cm tt) sinks in collision with
Danish steamer 'Anglodane' off the German Baltic coast
(55-22N, 12-11E). She was salvaged, and broken up at
Kiel in 1915.
- In the Second Battle for Warsaw, the Russians
pulled back from Lodz and on the 6th, the Germans moved
in as major fighting ground to a halt. The German moves
into southwest and then northwest Poland were only
partly successful, but had smashed the Russian Silesian
offensive and removed any threat to Silesia for the rest
of the war. By the end of the 1914, Hindenburg was
receiving new troops and others transferred from the
Western Front. But for now the Eastern Front was quiet.
In the north, the Germans held the western part of
Poland including Lodz (but had not reached Warsaw),
regained all East Prussia, and taken the southern part
of the Russian Baltic provinces. In the south, Austrian
Galicia remained in Russian hands.
December - Russian destroyers 'ISPOLNITELNI'
and 'LETUCHI' (1906, 400t, 2-45.7cm tt). The two
'Lovki' class destroyers were lost in a snow storm off
Odensholm during a planned minelaying operation
southwest of Libau. 'Ispolnitelni' sank after one of her
own mines explodes, and 'Letuchi' capsized trying to
rescue the crew. Few if any men survived from the two
Front - German Gen Hindenburg pushed for a
strategy of victory in the East, and in mid-month the
Kaiser agreed to send four new German corps to reinforce
the Eastern front. Hindenburg and the Austrian Conrad
were to launch separate offensives from East Prussia and
the Carpathians. German forces included the new Tenth
Army (Gen von Eichhorn) on the northern flank of East
Prussia, further south the Eighth Army (Gen von Below),
and Ninth Army (Mackensen) on the southern flank of the
German line opposite Warsaw. Here they joined the
Austrians - from north to south, the Second, First,
Fourth, Third and Second Armies. Russian forces
consisted of the Tenth Army in the north just across the
East Prussian border, the new Twelfth forming northeast
of Warsaw, and the First and Second around Warsaw - all
facing the Germans. Opposing the Austrians were the
Fifth, Fourth, Ninth, Third, Eighth and Eleventh Armies.
first aim was to destroy the Russian's northern Tenth
Army and one of the main railway lines to Warsaw. On
the 31st, to cover movements of Ninth Army elements,
Mackensen attacked the Polish town of Bolimov on the
railway line between Lodz and Warsaw. In the first use
of gas in the war, tear gas shells were employed, but
with limited effect. Their use was not reported to the
January - German cruisers 'Augsburg' and
'Gazelle' - The Russian minelaying offensive
continued to take a toll of German warships and
merchantmen. Light cruiser 'Augsburg' and the older
'Gazelle' were damaged in separate cruiser-laid
minefields near the Danish island of Bornholm on the
night of the 24th/25th.
Prussia - The new German Tenth Army attacked the
Russian Tenth in the Winter Battle of Masuria between
the 7th and 21st. Fighting in heavy snow, one Russian
corps was lost to save the remaining three. The Russian
army was out of the fight for the present with 200,000
casualties including prisoners - a tactical, but not a
strategic victory for the Germans.
Prussia - In the north, the Russians were driven
from East Prussia, but held the Germans on the Narew,
Bobr and Niemen Rivers.
- The Austrian offensive led by Third and Fourth
Armies, supported by a largely German southern army made
few gains, and on the 22nd, the besieged Przmesyl
Fortress fell to the Russians with the loss of over
100,000 men. Through until mid April, the Austrians just
managed to prevent the Russian Third and Eighth Armies
breaking through the Carpathian mountain passes south
and invading the Hungarian Plain.
Prussia - With fighting continuing in the south,
German Gen Hindenburg launched a diversionary attack
from East Prussia into Russian Lithuania and Courland.
The naval base of Libau on the Baltic coast was captured
in early May.
- From mid March, the Austrians managed to stop the
Russians breaking through the Carpathians. Now German
reinforcements reached them in preparation for a major
offensive. The newly formed Eleventh Army was moved from
the Western Front, covered by the attack on Ypres on the
22nd, and placed with the Austrian Fourth under
Mackensen's command behind the Gorlice-Tarnow gap, south
of the Vistula River.
- The Russians were not prepared for the coming
German-Austrian offensive - the Battle of
Gorlice-Tarnow. On the 2nd, a heavy bombardment
started along the line of the Vistula River south to the
Carpathian Mountains. By the 4th, Russian Third Army was
almost wiped out and the German-Austrians broke through.
As the great attack continued, the Russians were driven
back from the Dunajec to the San Rivers by the 12th, and
then towards Lemberg. German Gen Mackensen advanced 100
miles in two weeks. The entire Russian line was unhinged
in the south and the Carpathians abandoned. Until
September 1915, with few pauses, the Central Powers
attacked at will, and the Russians forced to withdraw
along the entire Eastern Front.
May - German
torpedo boat 'V-107'
(ex-Dutch small destroyer, 1915, 340t, 2-8.8cm, 2-45cm
tt). As the Germans took Libau, 'V-107' had her bow
blown off by a mine in the harbour entrance (56-33N,
20-58E), and became a total loss. Libau became an
important base for the German Baltic Fleet.
the German-Austrian offensive continued along the
Galician Front, and the Russians were driven back from
the San River towards Lemberg, Przemysl Fortress was
retaken by the Austrians on the 3rd and the
German-Austrian forces regrouped. In the Second Battle
for Lemberg, the city was recaptured on the 22nd. Now
the Eastern Front ran from Lithuania in the north,
looped around Warsaw, and with most of Galicia back in
Austrian hands, continued south to the Rumanian border.
Little remained of the Russian-Polish salient.
June - Russian minelayer 'YENISEI' (or
'Enisej', 1910, 2,900t, 320 mines). Russian minelaying
operations were not without their losses. German 'U-26'
(which sank armour cruiser 'Pallada' in October 1914)
torpedoed and sank 'Yenisei' off the Gulf of Finland to
the west of Revel (Tallinn) as she made her way to Moon
operations - As the two British submarines
continued offensive patrols, 'E-9' (Horton) torpedoed
and sank a German collier, and badly damaged destroyer
'S-148', to the west of Windau on the 5th.
attacks from the north and south were made on the
Russian-Polish salient in the Third Battle for Warsaw.
From the north, German Twelfth Army (Gen von Gallwitz)
advanced out of East Prussia, while in the south, the
German-Austrian offensive, including Mackensen's German
Eleventh Army, continued. As the Russians retreated, the
province of Courland on the Baltic coast was occupied
and pressure put on the Polish salient from the
northwest and southwest. The Russians prepared to give
July - German mine cruiser 'ALBATROSS'
(1908, 2,200t, 288 mines, 8-8cm) and cruiser 'Prinz
Adalbert' - On the evening of the 1st,
'Albatross' screened by armoured cruiser 'Roon', light
cruisers 'Augsburg' (SNO, Cdre von Karpf) and 'Lubeck'
with seven destroyers laid mines in the northern Baltic,
south of the Aaland Islands. The same night, Russian
armoured cruisers 'Adm Makarov' (flagship, Rear Adm
Bakhirev) and 'Bayan', and light cruisers 'Bogatyr' and
'Oleg', followed by armoured cruiser 'Rurik' and
destroyer 'Novik' sailed south to shell Memel. Diverted
by wireless intelligence and Russian decoding to hunt
for the Germans, they encountered 'Albatros', 'Augsburg'
and three of the destroyers on the morning of the 2nd.
'Albatros' was badly hit and beached near Ostergarn on
the Swedish island of Gotland (57-25N, 18-57E) but
later refloated and interned. The German 'Roon',
'Lubeck' and remaining four destroyers were then
sighted by the Russians, and ships of both sides
damaged by gunfire.
two more German armoured cruisers sailed to give
support, 'Prinz Adalbert' was torpedoed and badly
damaged by British submarine 'E-9' (Horton) north of
Russians continued to retreat in Poland and both Warsaw
and Brest-Litovsk fell - Warsaw on the
4th, and the fortress of Brest-Litovsk on the 25th. The
Germans crossed the border into Russia itself
August 1915 - German Naval Attack on Gulf of Riga
the Germans advanced east and north into Russia, a
strong naval force (Vice Adm Schmidt) complete with
battleships stood ready on the 8th to break into
the Gulf of Riga to destroy Russian naval forces and
shipping, and lay mines. But first the minefields of the
Irben Straits had to be cleared. Supporting them were
eight dreadnoughts, three battlecruisers, light cruisers
and destroyers of the High Sea Fleet under the command
of Vice Adm Hipper. The minefields proved a tough
obstacle, and after German minesweeping torpedo-boats 'T-52'
(ex-'S-52', 1890, 150t) and 'T-58' (ex-'S-58',
1892, 150t) were sunk by mines (57-42N, 21-50E), the
first attack was broken off.
second attempt was made on the 16th. A third
German minesweeper 'T-46' (ex-'S-46', 1889,
150t) was also mined (57-41N, 21-50E), but further
Russian attempts to interfere with minesweeping were
stopped when old battleship 'Slava' was driven off by
German dreadnoughts 'Posen' and 'Nassau', accompanied by
three light cruisers and two destroyers. The main
support force - the remaining six dreadnoughts and three
battlecruisers stayed in the Baltic. On the night of the
16th/17th, German destroyers 'V-99' and 'V-100'
broke through the Irben Strait to look for the 'Slava'.
In a running battle with Russian destroyers, German
1,350t, 4-8.8cm, 6-50cm tt, 24 mines) was hit by
'Novik's' gunfire, mined twice, and with severe battle
damage and 21 men dead, scuttled on the morning of the
17th in position 57-37N, 21-52E.
the day of the 17th as minesweeping continues,
Russian battleship 'Slava' was hit three times
by shells from dreadnoughts 'Posen' and 'Nassau', and
withdrew in to Moon Sound. The Germans eventually
cleared a passage through the dense minefields, and on
the 19th, passed into the Gulf of Riga to attack
Russian shipping. Late that night,
torpedo boat 'S-31'
(or destroyer, 1914, 800t, 3-8.8cm, 6-50cm tt, 24 mines)
was mined and sunk within the Gulf of Riga off the
island of Runö (57-47N, 23-05E).
on the 19th, out in the Baltic west of Dago,
covering German battlecruiser 'Moltke' was
torpedoed in the bow and slightly damaged by British
submarine 'E-1' (Lt-Cdr Laurence) in her first success
with the Baltic flotilla. By the 21st, with too many
ships sunk and damaged, the Germans called off the
attacks and Riga was saved from bombardment from the
sea. The city did not fall to the Germans for another
August - Russian minelayer 'LADOGA'
(ex-old armour cruiser 'Minin', 1878, 6,100t, c900
mines) was lost on mines laid by German 'UC-4' off the
Aaland island of Oro in the northern Baltic.
August - British submarine 'E-13' (1915,
670t, 5tt, 1-12pdr). The Admiralty decide to reinforce
the small Baltic flotilla with four more 'E'-class
submarines. Sailing from the English East Coast port of
Harwich on the 14th, 'E-8' got through safely on the
night of the 17th/18th, but 'E-13' ran aground on the
neutral Danish island of Saltholm at the southern end of
the Sound late on the 18th. Next morning, two German
torpedo boats appeared, including the 'G-132', and in
spite of Danish Navy attempts to shield the submarine,
opened heavy fire. The disabled 'E-13' (Lt Cdr Layton)
was interned and only returned to the Royal Navy at the
end of the war. Cdr Layton escaped back to England.
more British boats - 'E-18' and 'E-19' - made the
passage to Reval safely in September.
the end of September, German General Hindenburg had
reach the outskirts of Riga in Latvia, and in the Battle
of Vilna (or Vilnius), captured Vilna on the
border with Lithuania. Subsequent German thrusts towards
Riga and Dvinsk, both on the Dvina River were repulsed.
To offset this, the Russian Baltic provinces of Courland
and Lithuania had been occupied, the Polish salient
eliminated, Austrian Galicia retaken, and the Russian
threat to the Hungarian Plains removed. The Russian
Front now ran north to south 600 miles from Riga and the
Dvina River, then just short of Minsk, through the
Pripet marshes and on to the Dniester River at the
Rumanian frontier. The Russian C-in-C, Grand Duke
Nicholas was dismissed and his nephew, the Czar assumed
September - German 'U-26' (1914, 670t,
4-50cm tt, 1-8.8cm). Operating off the Gulf of Finland,
and after presumably torpedoing a Russian transport to
the NW of the island of Worms on the 30th August, 'U-26'
disappeared. Her previous victims included armour
cruiser 'Pallada' and minelayer 'Yenesei'. She was
believed to have been a victim of mines to the west of
the larger island of Dago (c 59-40N, 23-50E) around the
successes - The few Russian and British
submarines had been sent out to attack shipping between
Germany and Sweden. The British boats scored their
greatest successes of the war in the Baltic. On the 3rd,
the first German merchant ship victim - 'Svionia' - was
sunk by the gunfire of 'E-19' (Cromie) off Sassnitz in
the western Baltic. Over the next three weeks, another
nine vessels, mostly ore-carriers went down mainly to
gunfire or scuttling by 'E-8' (one ship), 'E-19' (five
ships) off the Swedish island of Oland, and 'E-9' (three
ships) further north off Norrkopping.
October - German
large torpedo boat 'T-100' (or
'S-100', 1901, 390t, 3tt) was lost in collision with the
2,900grt railway ferry 'Preussen' off Sassnitz on the
German coast (54-30N, 13-43E).
October - German armoured cruiser 'PRINZ
ADALBERT' (1904, 9,700t, 4-21cm) sole sister ship
of the 'Friedrich Carl' lost on mines in November 1914,
was also sunk in the Baltic. In July three months
before, 'Prinz Adalbert' was badly damaged by a torpedo
from Lt Horton's 'E-9'. On the 23rd October as the
escorted cruiser sailed into Libau on her first cruise,
she was attacked by Lt Cdr Goodhart's 'E-8'. Hit in a
magazine by one torpedo, she exploded and sank with the
loss of 672 crew (56-33N, 20-28E). German heavy warships
withdrew from the Baltic as the British flotilla
continued to attack the Swedish iron ore trade.
November - German light cruiser 'UNDINE'
(1904, 2,700t, 10-10.5cm). British submarines continued
their 1915 successes. On patrol in the western Baltic,
'E-19' (Lt Cdr Cromie) hit 'Undine' with two torpedoes,
sinking her south of the southern Swedish town of
Trelleborg (54-59N, 13-51E).
November - German light cruiser 'Danzig'
was badly damaged in a newly-laid Russian minefield
south of the Swedish island of Gotland.
November - Russian submarine 'AKULA' (c1911,
370t, 4-45.7cm tt and 4 drop collars). Three days after
the mine damage to the German 'Danzig', 'Akula', herself
on a mining mission was probably sunk in a German
minefield in the area off Libau.
the end of the year, with Riga in the north threatened,
half the Russian Baltic provinces and all Poland lost,
and the hard-won gains in Austrian Galicia retaken by
the Central Powers, Russia counted the cost. Although
Russian casualty figures are hard to confirm, over two
million men had been killed, wounded or taken prisoner.
December - German light cruiser 'BREMEN'
(1904, 3,760t, 10-10.5cm) and large
torpedo boat 'V-191'
(or destroyer, 1911, 650t, 2-8.8cm, 4-50cm tt). A
Russian minefield off German-occupied Courland between
Windau and Lyserort accounted for three German warships
in December. On the 17th, cruiser 'Bremen' and destroyer
'V-191' went down, both in position 57-31N, 21-24E.
(Some sources report both ships torpedoed by British
December - German
large torpedo boat 'S-177'
(or destroyer, 1911, 650t, 2-8.8cm, 4-50cm tt). Six days
later, the same Russian minefield off Courland accounted
for 'S-177', same class as 'V-191' in position 57-30N,
January - German light cruiser 'Lubeck' was
damaged mid-month in a Russian minefield in the middle
of the southern Baltic, between Danzig and the island of
at Sea - With the northern Baltic frozen, few
naval operations were possible over the next two months.
now, the Russians had replaced the men lost in the
defeats of 1915, and the French were appealing to the
Czar to launch an offensive against the Germans to help
relieve the pressure on Verdun. Starting on the 18th, an
assault was made in the north in the Battle of Lake
Naroch (east of Vilna) by Russian Second Army. Shortly
over, the battle ended with 100,000 more Russian
casualties for no gains. Now there was a pause as the
Russians prepared for a major offensive later in the
year, but again events in the west led to premature
attacks being launched in June 1916.
Russian offensive near Lake Naroch in
the north petered out.
Operations - Three belligerent submarines were
lost late in the month in varying circumstances:
May - Russian submarine 'SOM'
(ex-'Fulton', 1904, 105t, 1-38.1cm tt). In the northern
Baltic off the Aaland Islands, the old Russian boat was
lost in collision with Swedish steamer 'Angermanland'.
May - British submarine 'E-18' (1915,
670t, 5tt, 1-12pdr). On the 24th or sometime after, the
first of the British boats were lost in action within
the Baltic. Accounts vary. Some sources show 'E-18' sunk
off Bornholm in the south by German decoy or Q-ship 'K'.
Others that she went on to torpedo and damage German
destroyer 'V-100' off Libau, and on her return in late
May/early June, was lost in a German minefield, perhaps
west of the island of Osel.
May - German 'U-10' (1911, 490t, 4-45cm
tt). Leaving for patrol on the 27th, 'U-10' went
missing. She was assumed lost on Russian mines off the
Gulf of Finland, possibly north of the island of Dago (c
the Austrian offensive into Italy in May and an Italian
appeal for aid, the Russians launched a premature
offensive south of the Pripet Marshes aimed at Galicia
in what turned out to be their last great action of the
Russian Front - the Brusilov Offensive.
It was led by Gen Alexei Brusilov with the Southwest
Army Group of Eighth, Eleventh, Seventh and Ninth Armies
(50 divisions) against four largely Austrian Armies (46
divisions including some German) on a 200 mile front
down to the Rumanian border. A surprise attack was
launched on the 4th near Dubno to the north and, further
south, near the Dniester River. By next day, the
flanking Austrian Fourth Army in the north and the
Seventh Army in the south were close to collapse. By
late June, both Austrian Armies had been routed and the
Russians were approaching the passes through the
Carpathian Mountains. German divisions were brought from
other sectors of the Eastern Front as well as the
Western Front (weakening the attack on Verdun) to stop
the threatened breakthrough. Austrian divisions were
also brought back from the Italian Front thus ending
that drive. As the defences stiffened, the Russians
struggled ahead into July, August and through to
September, but at heavy cost.
great Brusilov Offensive into Galicia continued
in the south, but made limited progress.
August - German
large torpedo boat 'V-162'
(coastal defence vessel, 1909, 640t, 2-8.8cm, 2-50cm
tt). Dense Russian minefields in the Irben Strait
guarding the southern passage into the Gulf of Riga
continued to take a toll of warships. Screening
minesweeping operations, 'V-162' went down off Lyserort
(57-35N, 21-35E) on the Courland coast.
August - Russian destroyer 'DOBROVOLETZ'
(1906, 570t, 2-10.2cm, 3-45.7cm tt) was lost six days
later in the Irben Straits on a Russian mine while on a
laying operation herself.
Brusilov Offensive into Galicia finally came to an end.
The Russians had helped relieve the pressure on the
Allies on both the Western and Italian Fronts, and cost
the Austrians and Germans over 600,000 casualties,
including 400,000 Austrian prisoners. But the price paid
by Russia was too great - one million casualties, broken
morale, and a nation ready for revolution.
October - Russian torpedo boat 'KAZANETS'
(or destroyer, or 'Kazanec', 1905, 580t, 2-11pdr,
3-45.7cm tt). German submarines had concentrated on
minelaying in the Gulf of Finland. On the 28th, the old
destroyer 'Kazanets' sank on a mine laid by 'UC-27' off
Odensholm at the southern entrance to the Gulf.
the 5th November, German and Austria announced that an
independent Polish state would be established.
the 21st, Franz-Joseph, Emperor of Austria and King of
Hungary died at the age of 86. He was succeeded by his
grand-nephew, Charles I, destined to see the break-up of
the Austro-Hungarian Empire in less than two years.
November - Russian destroyer 'LETUN'
(1916, 1,260t, 4-10.2cm, 9-45.7cm tt). German
submarine-laid mines in the Gulf of Finland continued to
account for Russian ships, one to the successful
'UC-27'. On the 7th, newly completed destroyer 'Letun'
was badly damaged north of Reval, laid up and not
November - German
large torpedo boats 'V-75', 'S-57', V-72', 'G-90',
'S-58', 'S-59', 'V-76'
(or destroyers, all 1916, 920t, 3-8.8cm, 6-50cm tt, 24
mines). Ships of the 10th Torpedo boat Flotilla suffered
even more heavily from Russian mines - seven out of
eleven new vessels lost during an attack on shipping in
the Reval area. On the way into the Gulf of Finland,
late on the 10th,
sank and the damaged
was scuttled. An abortive attack was made on Baltic
Port, and as they returned,
were sunk early on the 11th, although casualties were
light (all at c 59-23N, 22-30E).
- Grigori, Rasputin (the 'vagabond' or 'drunkard'), who
exerted such influence over the Czar's wife and thus the
Czar, was assassinated by court nobles. This, together
with food shortages, the huge casualty lists from the
front, and the Czar's unwillingness to liberalize the
government, increased tension within Russia and led to
demonstrations and strikes in the early months of 1917.
fighting continued over the next three months around
Riga, in northern Galicia, and at Bukovina to the north
reinforcements - Four more smaller 'C' class
submarines - 'C-26', 'C-27', 'C-32' and 'C-35' - reached
the Baltic to join the four surviving 'E' boats under
Cdr Cromie, senior officer since early 1916 when Cdrs
Horton and Laurence returned home to Britain. Arriving
by sea at Archangel in the north of Russia, the 'C'
boats travelled overland to the Gulf of Finland by canal
action on the Russian Front was reported.
- The 'March Revolution' followed demonstrations, food
riots and strikes which paralysed the Russian capital of
Petrograd (previously St Petersburg, then Leningrad, and
now St Petersburg again). The Duma or parliament refused
to obey the Czar's order of dissolution on the 11th,
next day a provisional government was formed, and the
revolt spread to Moscow. On the 15th at his Army
headquarters in Pskov, the Czar abdicated and his
brother, the Grand Duke Michael refused the crown. A few
days later, the House of Romanov ended with the arrest
of the Czar and his family. The revolution then became a
struggle between the moderate liberals of the Duma and
the Workers' and Soldiers' Councils or 'Soviets' set up
by the Socialists or Bolshevists.
the next few months, Alexander Kerensky emerged as the
leader of a moderate socialist and provisional
government until its downfall eight months later in
- After years in exile, Lenin, the future ruler
of Soviet Russia was allowed by the Germans to return
home from Switzerland, travelling through Germany in a
sealed train. In Petrograd he was joined by Joseph
Stalin and from the United States by Leon Trotsky. The
Bolsheviks prepared to continue the Russian Revolution.
- While the Bolshevik 'Soviets' pressed for peace with
Germany and Austria, the provisional Russian government
remained committed to pursuing the war on the side of
the Allies. Alexander Kerensky, now appointed Minister
of War, prepared for an offensive in July under the
command of Gen Brusilov.
May - Russian submarine 'BARS' (1916,
650t, 4-45cm tt and 4 drop collars, 1-6.3cm). Sailing
from the Gulf of Finland in mid-May with other Russian
submarines for operations off the Swedish coast, 'Bars'
was lost, probably near Norrkopping to the south of
Stockholm. The cause may have been mines or German depth
charge attack on the 28th. Russian sources suggest she
may have been rammed and sunk in error at an earlier
date (the 21st) by a Russian destroyer off the Russian
island of Dago.
11th/14th June - Russian submarine 'LVITSA'
(or 'Lvica', 1916, 650t, 4-45.7cm tt and 4 drop collars,
1-6.3cm). As British submarines concentrated on
reconnaissance patrols off the Baltic coast and in the
Gulf of Riga to forestall German moves towards
Petrograd, the Russian boats continued the trade war
against the now well-protected Swedish ore convoys.
'Lvitsa', sister to 'Bars' lost in late May, went
missing at this time. She may have gone down to German
surface craft attack on the 11th, or mines around the
14th to the south of Gotland.
the 1st, Russian Gen Brusilov launched the Kerensky
Offensive into Galicia, but with little chance of
success. Workers' and Soldiers' Soviets controlled many
army units and discipline broke down. However the attack
wnet ahead with the least affected troops including
Poles, Finns and Siberians. The Russian Eleventh,
Seventh and Eighth Armies with some 40 understrength
divisions pushed for Lemberg against exhausted Austrian
and some German and Turkish forces. Little progress was
made against the Germans, but Russian Eighth Army (Gen
Kornilov) facing Austrians in the south advanced 20
miles. On the 19th, the Central Powers with some German
divisions rushed from the Western Front, launched a
counter-offensive. Within a matter of days and with
thousands of Russians deserting, the Front crumbled.
With little serious fighting, the Russian retreat turned
into a rout and the Germans and Austrians advanced at
- The offensive was failing by mid-month, and
Lenin led a Bolshevik rising in Petrograd which was soon
crushed. On the 22nd, Kerensky was appointed Prime
Minister of the Provisional Government. Finland
announced its independence from Russia.
July - Russian submarine 'AG-14' (1916,
355/430t, 4-45.7cm tt, 1-4.7cm). For the third month
running a Russian submarine gwnet missing in uncertain
circumstances operating against German shipping. The
brand new 'AG-14' was presumed lost off the
German-occupied port of Libau around this date, probably
pressure to end the war grew in Russia, the Central
Powers attacked the Russians as well as the Rumanians in
Moldavia at the southern end of the front. Towards the
end of the month, the Germans started the Riga Offensive
in the north.
August - Russian torpedo boat 'LEITENANT
BURAKOV' (or destroyer, 1907, 350t, 2-11pdr,
2-45.7cm tt), in use as a despatch vessel was lost on a
mine laid by German 'UC-78' of the Aaland Islands in the
August - Russian destroyer 'STROINI'
(also 1907, 350t, 2-11pdr, 2-45.7cm tt). 'Stroini',
screening a minelaying operation in the Irben Straits,
ran aground in the Gulf of Riga off the southern Osel
port of Zerel. Badly damaged in a German seaplane
bombing attack, salvage attempts were abandoned.
the Riga Offensive, and partly to force the Russians to
the negotiating table, German Eighth Army (Gen Oskar von
Hutier) crossed the Dvina River and captured the
important seaport of Riga on the 3rd against little
resistance. The badly beaten Russians withdrew as the
Germans prepared to send in amphibious forces to capture
the islands at the entrance to the Gulf of Finland, and
thus threaten Petrograd.
Great War is remembered for its trench warfare, but
German Gen von Hutier broke the mould using night
approach marches, short heavy opening bombardments,
rolling barrages, infiltration and specialised combat
units. 'Hutier' tactics were used with great success
in 1917 against the Italians at Caporetto and in the
1918 Second Battle of the Somme.
- Following an attempted coup by Gen Kornilov, dismissed
from his position as Russian C-in-C, Prime Minister
Kerensky declared a Russian Republic under his
September - Russian destroyer 'OKHOTNIK'
(1906, 615t, 2-11pdr, 2-45.7cm tt) was sunk off Zerel in
the Irben Strait in possibly the first such success of
its kind. She blew up on a mine laid by a German
October 1917 - Naval Battle for the Gulf of Riga
landings were made by German forces on the Russian-held
islands blocking the entrances to the Gulf of Riga,
partly to trap units of the Russian Navy. In this they
were only partially successful and ships on both sides
were lost or damaged. The islands, from north to south
are present day Estonian Vormi (Worms), Hiiumaa
(Dago), Muhu (Moon) and Saarema (Osel). Osel with heavy
shore batteries at the southern point of Zerel prevented
the Germans from breaking through in to the Gulf, while
Moon Island to the north guarded the only other possible
exit for the Russians. German naval forces, the greatest
concentration of the war in the Baltic included ten
dreadnoughts, plus cruisers, destroyers and minesweepers
with air support. The Russians included two
pre-dreadnoughts, cruisers and three small British
'C'-class submarines, including 'C-27' and 'C-32'.
off Osel Island on the 12th, the German
dreadnoughts bombarded the coastal batteries before
putting troops ashore for an advance on the town of
Arensburg in the east. The only damage at this time was
to dreadnoughts 'Grosser Kurfurst' and 'Bayern'
from mines. To the north, light forces clashed as the
Germans attempted to approach Moon Island through the
passage separating Dago and Osel Islands.
the 14th, German land forces had crossed Osel,
cutting off Zerel in the south. Both sides now
concentrated on the struggle for the more northerly Moon
Island area and the Germans brought up heavy warships to
support the light naval forces. During the day
dreadnought 'Kaiser' hit Russian destroyer 'GROM'
(1915, 1,260t, 4-10.2cm, 9-45.7cm tt), which was further
damaged in action with German destroyers before sinking.
However the Russians still controlled one of the
northern exits from the Gulf of Riga.
German minesweepers started to clear the Irben Straits
in the south to allow heavy units to break through to
the Gulf, but operations were held up by the Russian's
Zerel batteries still holding out at the south end of
Osel. These were captured next day on the 15th,
leaving only mines as the remaining obstacles.
Osel Island in German hands and the Irben Straits
minefields cleared, heavy German ships entered the Gulf
of Riga on the 16th. As they headed north for
Moon Island, British submarine 'C-27' torpedoed and
badly damages a support ship.
the 17th, the Germans approached the southern
end of Moon Island and the entrance to Moon Sound.
Dreadnoughts 'Konig' and 'Kronprinz' opened fire on
Russian pre-dreadnoughts 'Slava' and 'Grazdanin'
(ex-'Tsesarevitch') respectively. Both were hit, 'Slava'
heavily. The old Russian armoured cruiser 'Bayan'
was also badly damaged by a 30.5cm (12in) shell from
and with her draught too great to escape, 'SLAVA'
(1905, 13,500t, 4-30.5cm) was scuttled in shallow water
and finished off by torpedoes from Russian destroyer
'Turkmenets Stavropolski'. Retreating north, the
Russians continued to lay defensive minefields in the
vicinity of Moon Island and just after midnight on the 17th/18th,
(1917, 920t, 3-10.5cm, 6tt, 24 mines), approaching Moon
Sound from the north hit one and sank in position
Russians evacuated Moon Island on the 18th as
the Germans land, and next day Dago Island was also
occupied. By the 20th, surviving Russian ships
had slipped past Worms Island and made for bases in
the Gulf of Finland.
October - British submarine 'C-32' (1909,
290t, 2-18in tt) stranded on a mudbank near Pernau on
the north-eastern side of the Gulf of Riga. She was
abandoned and blown up by her crew. According to Greger,
she unsuccessfully attacked a German auxiliary on the
20th and was damaged by the resulting depth-charges
before being run aground.
October - Russian submarine 'GEPARD'
(1916, 650t, 4-45cm tt and 4 drop collars, 1-6.3cm) was
lost around this time. On patrol with other Russian and
British submarines off the Gulf of Riga and the outlying
islands, she was reported on this date to the northwest
of Windau. She may have been mined at this time or later
off Osel on the way home.
October - German 'U-52' sank in dock in
Kiel after a stern torpedo exploded. She was raised in
October and returned to service.
- On November 7th/8th, the Russian Revolution ('October
Revolution' in the old Gregorian calendar) started with
Lenin's Bolsheviks seizing the Winter Palace, the place
of government in Petrograd. Prime Minister Kerensky
escaped and a Bolshevik government formed with Lenin as
Premier and Trotsky as Foreign Minister. The Revolution
spread quickly and Russia was soon in chaos as Civil War
erupted between the 'Reds' and 'Whites'. The Bolsheviks
immediately took steps to get Russia out of the war.
November - German coastal minelayer 'UC-57'
(1917, 420/490t, 18 mines, 3-50cm tt, 1-8.8cm). As the
naval war between Germany and Russia came to an end,
warships were still lost to the many mines laid by both
sides. Sometime around the 19th, 'UC-57' was presumed
mined off the Estonian coast in c 59N, 23E.
November - Russian torpedo boat 'BDITELNI'
(or destroyer, 1906, 380t, 2-11pdr. 3-45.7cm tt).
Further north of 'UC-57’s' last reported position,
'Bditelni' was lost on a mine laid by German 'UC-78' or
'UC-58' (accounts vary) off the Aaland Islands guarding
the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia.
preliminary suspension of hostilities between the
Central Powers and Russia was announced on the 5th
December, which Rumania soon followed. An armistice
followed on the 15th, and Germany started to release
troops for transfer to the Western Front. On the 22nd at
Brest-Litovsk, to the east of Warsaw, the Russians met
with delegates from Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria
and Turkey to arrange peace terms. These included
Russian recognition of the rights of Poland and
agreement to the independence of the Baltic provinces of
Lithuania, Courland, Livonia and Estonia. With the
Germans occupying most of these territories, the
Russians had little option but to accept, although
negotiations dragged on into the new year.
the Russian Civil War developed, Ukraine refused to join
with the Bolsheviks, and Finland declared its
independence from Russia.
December - German medium submarine 'UB-84' sank
off the German coast following a collision. She was
raised and returned to service as a training boat.
submarines - With Russia and Germany negotiating
and with no hope of leaving the Baltic, the surviving
British submarines sailed for Helsingfors (Helsinki) in
Finland. The crews were ordered home and the boats left
with a small care and maintenance party.
- Expecting revolution to break out in Germany, the
Russian Bolshevist delegates at Brest-Litovsk continue
stalling and Foreign Minister Trotsky refused to meet
the terms of the Central Powers. The German Foreign
Minister, Baron Richard von Kuhlman increased the
pressure. Finland was not spared the agonies of Russia,
and civil war began at the end of the month. Ukraine
declared its independence from Russia and the Russian
Bolsheviks, a move shortly recognised by Germany and her
- Partly due to food shortages, strikes broke out in
Austrian cities in favour of peace.
- On the 9th, a peace treaty was signed between the
Central Powers and the newly independent Republic of the
Ukraine. The next day and simply refusing to
accept any terms, the Russian Bolshevist government just
declared the war was at an end. On the 18th, the
frustrated Germans started to advance into Russia
against little opposition. Troops soon occupied the
Baltic provinces and later moved into the Ukraine and
Crimea. As the German advance endangered Petrograd,
Lenin moved the capital to Moscow. Elsewhere the Civil
War continued to rage. Moscow was threatened by the
Whites, and the rest of Russia was in chaos. Far to the
east in Siberia, the Japanese planned a landing to
protect huge quantities of stock-piled military
February - Russian submarine 'EDINOROG'
(1916, 650t, 4-45.7mm tt and 4 drop collars, 1-6.3cm).
Previously damaged by stranding and now temporarily
repaired at Reval, 'Edinorog' foundered in tow across
the Gulf of Finland to Helsingfors (Helsinki).
Brest-Litovsk - Under the terms of the treaty
signed between Russia and the Central Powers on
the 3rd, European Russia lost 25 percent of its
territory and much of its industrial and natural
resources - the Baltic provinces, Finland and the Aaland
Islands, the Ukraine to independence or
semi-independence; and to Turkey, the southern Caucasus
districts of Erivan, Kars and Batum. The Ukraine became
a German puppet state; German forces shortly landed on
the Aaland Islands, and on the 7th Germany and Finland
signed a peace treaty. Germany was now able to start
transferring large numbers of troops from Russia to the
War and Allied Intervention - The Russian Civil
War continued. The Allies for various reasons, including
keeping Russia in the war and the fear of world
communism, intervened in the struggle. Troops and
supplies were later sent to support the White Armies
(commanded by Czarist officers) fighting the Reds in the
Arctic, the Ukraine, Caucasus and Siberia. The
anti-Bolshevist forces included the 'Czechoslovak
Legion', made up of deserters and ex-prisoners of war
from the Austro-Hungarian army which fought its way
across Siberia and later joined the Allies in the west.
The war ended in 1920 in the Bolsheviks favour, and by
then a number of major warships on both sides had been
British warships supported the Allies on their seaward
flanks and also on inland lakes and rivers
Waters - With the signing of the Brest-Litovsk
Treaty, British warships including pre-dreadnought
'Glory' and armoured cruiser 'Cochrane' started
operations against Murmansk and Archangel to prevent
vast quantities of Allied supplies falling into
Bolshevik or German hands.
March - German medium submarine 'UB-106'
was accidentally sunk off the German coast, but raised
three days later.
- Russia continued in a state of chaos. In the north,
German troops landed near Helsinki to help Gen
Mannerheim fight for Finnish independence against
Bolshevik forces. In the south, the Germans pushed
further into the Ukraine and the Crimea.
April - British submarines 'E-1', 'E-8',
'E-9', 'E-19' (all 1913/15, 655t, 4tt and
1-12pdr), and 'C-26', 'C-27', 'C-35' (1909/10,
290t, 2tt). With the Germans ashore at Hango in Finland
and moving on Helsingfors, the surviving submarines of
the British Baltic Flotilla were taken to sea one at a
time, blown up and scuttled off the port. Between the
4th and the 8th, 'E-1', 'E-8', 'E-9', 'E-19' and 'C-26',
'C-27', 'C-35' were denied to the Germans in this way.
The senior officer, Cdr Cromie became de facto British
ambassador at Petrograd, but was killed in an incident
involving the Bolsheviks at the embassy.
Eastern Waters - Japanese and British Royal
Marines landed at Vladivostok in the Far East.
forces including a Royal Marine detachment, all under
the command of Gen Poole landed at Murmansk. A Royal
Navy base was established as HMS 'Glory III'.
May - German medium submarine 'UB-114'
sank in Kiel harbour during trimming exercises. She was
raised and later surrendered.
- The Germans continued to advance into southern Russia
and the Ukraine.
- The imprisoned Ex-Tsar Nicholas and his family
were executed on the 16th by the Bolsheviks at
Ekaterinburg in the Urals.
- Allied forces continued to enter Russia to support the
Whites and protect ammunition and supplies. In the north,
an Allied Expeditionary Force captured Archangel
supported by Royal Navy warships. To the south,
a British naval unit arrived at Baku on the Caspian Sea
after travelling overland from Baghdad. And in the Far
East, British, Japanese and U.S. troops landed at
Vladivostok for operations in Siberia.
Waters - Seized at Murmansk in July by the
British Navy, the old Russian five-funnelled light
cruiser 'Askold' was commissioned as HMS Glory IV and
continued to serve in the Arctic.
- American troops landed at Archangel in the Arctic.
- As the Austro-Hungarian Empire approached its
end, the United States recognised the Czechoslovaks as
an allied nation. Austria-Hungary invited the
belligerents to discussions on peace, but the proposals
were rejected by the Allies.
September - German coastal minelayer 'UC-91' was
sunk in collision with SS 'Alexandra Woermann' off the
German coast. She was raised and repaired.
- In the north, Allied forces battled with the
Bolsheviks around Murmansk and Archangel. In the Far
East, American, British and Japanese troops entered
Siberia and pushed as far west as Lake Baikal. More
fighting took place around the Caucasus in the south.
Waters - Fighting took place along the Dvina
River, south of Archangel with the involvement of light
- On the 3rd, Austria-Hungary accepted an Allied
armistice and withdrew from the war.
December - British light cruiser 'CASSANDRA'
(1917, 4,100t, 5-6in). British naval forces in the
Baltic under the command of Rear Adm Sir Walter Cowan
were given the difficult task of protecting the Baltic
States, evacuating German forces, and operating against
the Bolsheviks. Warships on both sides were lost, some
to the many Russian and German minefields. On the 5th
the recently arrived 'Cassandra' was mined off the Gulf
of Finland and sinks with 11 dead. (My grandfather
Signals George Smith DSM,
was one of those rescued)
December - Bolshevik destroyers 'SPARTAK' (ex-'Kapitan
I Ranga Miklucha-Maklai') and 'AVTROIL'
5-10.2cm, 9-45.7cm tt). On the 26th/27th, these two
modern destroyers bombard the Estonian port of Reval in
the Gulf of Finland. Captured by a British squadron of
light cruisers 'Calypso' and 'Caradoc' and four
destroyers, they were later handed over to the Estonian
Sea - On the 8th, Bolshevik light naval forces
were in action with the British units that reached Baku
Far Eastern Waters - British
armoured cruiser 'Kent' arrived at Vladivostok in
Siberia to support Allied forces
Russia - Guns and
guns’ crews landed from the 'Kent' at Vladivostok were
by now in action far to the west in the Urals in support
of the White Russians.
21st May - Bolshevik
destroyer MOSKVITYANIN (1906, 570t, 2-11pdr,
3tt). The Bolsheviks organised 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 were sunk including the 'Moskvityanin'.
24th June - British
minesweeper 'SWORD DANCE' (1918, 290t, 1-6pdr).
As Allied operations continued against the Bolsheviks on
the Dvina River, south of Archangel, the shallow-draught
'Sword Dance' was sunk by Russian mines.
4th June - 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 were lost.
On the 4th (some accounts say the 9th) 'L-55' was 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' (below
- sister boat L.27, Navy Photos).
16th/17th June -
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 sailed to
attack Kronstadt. Evading the protecting destroyer
screen, coastal motor boat 'CMB-4' (Lt Agar) armed with
a single 14in torpedo, sank the anchored 'Oleg' during
the night of the 16th/17th, but most of her crew were
saved. 'CMB-4' escaped safely under heavy fire. Lt
Augustine Agar RN was awarded the Victoria Cross.
3rd July - British
minesweeper 'FANDANGO' (1918, 290t, 1-6pdr). In
operations on the Dvina River, 'Fandango', sister ship
Dance' lost a few
days before, was also mined and sunk.
16th July - 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
were lost on mines in the Gulf of Finland.
August - Attack on Kronstadt Naval Base - Late on
the 17th, eight British 55ft type Coastal Motor Boats
led by Cdr Claude Dobson in 'CMB-31' headed out of the
Finnish base of Bjorko Sound only 30 miles from Russia's
main naval port. Supported by RAF bombing raids, they
broke into the inner harbour in the early morning. Cdr
Dobson directed the boats headed by CMB's '31', '79' and
'88', while Lt Agar VC in 'CMB-4' remained outside on
As the attacks developed, old
armoured cruiser 'PAMIAT AZOVA' (1890, 6,000t)
serving as submarine depot ship 'Dvina' was hit by
'CMB-79' and sunk. In the rapidly moving action, 'CMB-79'
(1917, 11t, 1 or 2-18in torpedoes) was then lost.
The commanding officer of 'CMB-88' was killed and Lt
Steele, second-in-command took over and pressed 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) sank in shallow water and was salvaged
later, and pre-dreadnought 'Andrei Pervozvanny' (1908,
17,400t, 4-12in) seriously damaged. The British boats
failed to hit the Russian guardship, destroyer 'Gavriil'
which sank two more of the attackers ('CMB-24'
and 'CMB-62' or 'CMB-67' - accounts
vary. The surviving five boats escaped. Cdr Claude
Dobson DSO, RN and Lt Gordon Steele RN were awarded the
1st September -
British destroyer 'VITTORIA' (1,100t, 4-4in,
4-21in tt). Two recently completed 'V' class destroyers
of the Royal Navy were sunk within a few days of each
other in the Gulf of Finland. On the night of the 1st,
'Vittoria' was torpedoed by Bolshevik submarine
'Pantera' off Seiskari Island some miles to the west of
4th September -
British destroyer 'VERULAM' (1,100t, 4-4in,
4-21in tt). Three days later "Verulam" was mined in the
Gulf of Finland.
16th September -
British monitors 'M-25' and 'M-27'
(both 1915, 540t, 1-9.2in). By now the Allies had
decided to withdraw from northern Russia. As the
evacuation got underway, 'M-25' and 'M-27' of the White
Sea Squadron had to be abandoned when the Dvina River
water level fell. They are blown up to prevent capture
by the Bolsheviks.
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 escaped
from the Bolsheviks, three were lost in a British
minefield off Kronstadt in the Gulf of Finland with
heavy casualties. Only 'Azard' escaped. The ships were
to be handed over to the Royal Navy.
BRITISH LOSSES FROM BOLSHEVIK INTERVENTION OPERATIONS
In April 1918, seven
submarines had to be scuttled. Between December 1918 and
September 1919 - just nine months - British losses
1 light cruiser
3 coastal motor