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Action on the Vaga - Archangel River Expedition

Updated: Oct 2, 2023

In February, 1919, it was decided that the situation on the Archangel front necessitated the provision of a strong Naval flotilla, more particularly in view of the part the Navy might be called upon to play in an evacuation.

Ships of the Dvina River Flotilla - Yeoman of Signals George Smith

On the 18th July a mutiny of the 5th North Russian Rifles at Chinova spread on to Onega, and by the 22nd July that place had been lost. This caused considerable anxiety to the Military Command on account of the threat to our line of communications on the railway front, and orders were received to prepare for immediate withdrawal on the Dwina front and to mine the river'

The date for commencing the evacuation was postponed until the refugees had been shipped away and the troop transports were ready at Archangel and water transport collected upriver. Also, it was hoped that the river would continue to rise and facilitate the passage of the last of the heavy-draught ships, but this hope, as has been seen, was not fulfilled.

CMB's on the River Dvina, with seaplanes in the background - Yeoman of Signals George Smith

2. The whole force moved back from the Troitsa base to Pless on 10th September, the embarkation being carried out in perfect order without enemy interference. The final start down-river commenced on 17th September, when the convoy left Pless.

3. Attack off the Vaga.- Owing to the Russian forces failing to hold the Vaga front, part of the convoy came under machine-gun fire off the mouth of that river.

An armed naval launch and coastal motorboats were at once dispatched to counter this, and a Royal Marine Detachment under Lieutenant C. M. Sergeant, R.M., was landed.

A spirited attack dispersed the enemy machine-gunners, killing three of them, and the safety of the remainder of the convoy was thus secured.

4. Remainder of the passage down-river.- This was uneventful save for a delay due to the grounding of several barges in the shallow and intricate channel off Khorobritskoe.

Related Royal Marines 'Dits'

Reference/ Further reading:

  1. E. ALTHAM, Captain, R.N., Late Senior Naval Officer, Archangel River Expedition - Naval History Net

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