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Firefly in Finland in July 1855



I'm writing the biography of a shoemaker who lived in Finland a long ago and died just after the Krimean war in 1856. He lived in Nagu/Nauvo, Finland on a little rock in the archipelago. There was no military action there during the Krimean war but as I read from a Finnish newspaper four English canon boats came there on the 5th of July 1855 but they didn't do any harm or damage to the villages. The soldiers just took meat and fish where ever they could find something to eat.

But a long ago I heard one old man say that he was told by his grandfather that the englishmen captured a man from that little rock where the old shoemaker lived with his wife and their son.
Now I'd like to find out what happened there. Who was captured and what happened to this man.

Two English vessels were anchored nearby in Korpo/Lohm/Fagerholm area during 4.-6. July 1855. One of them was H.M.S. Firefly and the other possibly H.M.S. Porcupine. The canon boats came from these vessels.

So I'd like to know something about what happened there between the of July in 1855. Do the logbooks of these vessels Firefly or Porcupine tell something about that incident? Are there any logbooks or other diaries?

Can somebody help me? Are the logbooks of these two vessels available to read? Is there any information about what the vessels and the canon boats with their men did during these days?



During the summer of 1855 several British warships were deployed along the coast of Finland to disrupt coastal shipping  Firefly was one of those stationed in the Aland Islands. Other ships on this station were – Porcupine – Harrier - Driver

For original documents, then the original ship’s logs are available at the National Archives in London.
For HMS Firefly:

For HMS Porcupine:

For HMS Harrier:

For HMS Driver:

Original documents, including letters from officers, were published by the Navy Record Society some years ago.  The publication that would be of interest to you is:
 Russian War 1855 Baltic


This last book has several letters from Captain Henry Charles Otter, commanding officer of HMS Firefly for the period which gives the movements and actions of that ship for the period

It includes a letter from Captain Otter, dated 7 July 1855.  He states that during the evening of 4 July, being “to the west of Korpostrom”  he launched his boats “ examine the islands and fjords for merchant vessels”.  The boats landed at Fagerholm and examined the buildings.  The intention was to destroy them but finding “…there were six women and several small children in the dwelling houses, I considered it an act of humanity to allow them to remain. The whole were examined, but nothing belonging to the Government found in them”. 
The boats returned to the Firefly during the morning of 5 July, and the ship sailed that afternoon for Abo (Aland)

There is no mention of taking anyone

The standard book about the Royal Navy in the Baltic during the Russian War 1854 -55 in English is The British Assault on Finland by Basil Greenhill and Ann Giffard - see:

They mention that the British did capture local people to act as Pilots, citing one case of Jacob Westerlund who was captured at Lumparland, but later put ashore
They also cite the book I Kulturens och Krimkrigets tecken by Al Ahlstrom as a useful source.   They quote from this book on the activities of the Firefly at this time, including that they had gone to the family house at Stockholmen and broken in, taking "...a carafe of cognac and glasses".


Thank you for this information.



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