• Si Biggs

Rescue of the Russian Royal Family

Unit/ Formation: HM Ships Location: Koreiz Period/ Conflict: 1900's Year: 1919 Date/s: 7 - 11th April 1919


Eager to leave home and serve his country, George Gravestock told the enlistment officer that he was over 18 years old when he joined the Royal Marines in April 1915. In reality, George was only 27 days past his 16th birthday. Still a boy, George’s medical records show that he grew 4 inches taller over the course of the war. Serving in Belgium, the Mediterranean, and the Black Sea, his most exciting episode was his time on the HMS Marlborough in April 1919.



Less than a year after the execution of his cousin Tsar Nicholas II, King George VI agreed to grant refuge to the surviving Russian royal family.



The ship was tasked with the evacuation of 17 Russian royals – including the late Tsar’s mother, sister, aunt, cousins, and grandchildren – from Yalta in Crimea to the British naval base in Malta. During the rescue operation, George patrolled the grounds of the Dulber royal palace at Koreiz on the Black Sea.



Thinking of his girlfriend Ethel at home, he cut a rose from the royal gardens, which he would later send to her. On the journey to Malta, the crew of the Marlborough did their best to lift the spirits of the Russian royals, including the Dowager Empress Marie, who was the sister of the Queen Mother, Alexandra.


At Easter, the Marines painted Easter eggs for the Romanov children and played with the royal dogs.


After arriving in Malta, George had a handsome photograph taken of himself at the Grand Studio in Valletta. And several months later, he sent it to England, inscribed ‘To my Dearest Ethel, with fondest love from George, August 5 1919’.


Read More/ Web Link: Bedford Today

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