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Author Topic: HMS Constance and the Tsar (WW1)?  (Read 1474 times)

ojd

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HMS Constance and the Tsar (WW1)?
« on: 21 June 2019 06:24:38 pm »

I am interested in the British intervention in North Russia; events and actions that included both the latter WW1 and immediate post WW1 periods.  One of my current areas of interest is the question of whether or not the British government sent a RN Cruiser to evacuate Tsar Nicholas and his family to the UK.  Of course, it is well known that the Tsar, his wife and immediate family were executed in Russia, so were not in the event evacuated.   The matter is discussed at length in Helen Rappaport's excellent book "The Race to Save the Romanovs", first published in 2018 (copyright to her), when, during her expert analysis, on whether or not the British actually did send a Cruiser (specifically a cruiser), to evacuate the Tsar, in 1917, Helen states: "the question that has puzzled many: was a British ship actually, specifically sent in March 1917 shortly after the British offer was made?  There is not a single document to be found anywhere, in either the Foreign Office or War Office archives or in the logbook of political signals from Petrograd referring to this"

This superb website, the "Royal Navy Research Archive", carries an article entitled "Paymaster Lieutenant Commander Edward N. Hopkns RN (1878 to 1947)", link http://www.royalnavyresearcharchive.org.uk/People_Hopkins.htm, by Barbara Hopkins & Adrian Hopkins (2011) and which is copyright Tony Drury, Barbara Hopkins & Adrian Hopkins (2011).  Mid this article are the lines "In 1917 the ship (referring to the light cruiser HMS Constance) was sent to Archangel in Russia to assist with the evacuation of the Tsar and his entourage. Some of the entourage had already joined the ship when the family was assassinated and plans had to be changed. Appalling weather caused the ship to be frozen in and they were unable to sail for some time". 

My principal question is whether or not anyone can assist with the source for this information?  It is key, as it is the only reference, that I have found, of a named ship (HMS Constance) being sent to North Russia (Archangel) for this specific activity.

Of course, any other knowledge or information regarding the movements of HMS Constance, post Jutland and through to 1918, would be very gratefully received too.    There seems a dearth of information on Constance during this period, which, in itself, makes me curious, it is as if she disappeared for two years, with her re-emergence only in 1919.  I know that the matter of any British support to the Tsar (real or perceived), at that time, was a matter of enormous political sensitivity and became a de facto state secret.  Is that why Constance was 'disappeared'?   

Thanks for anything anyone might have to offer.

Owen

P.S. I hope that I haven't breached any rules with this post.  Apologies if I have.
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PhiloNauticus

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Re: HMS Constance and the Tsar (WW1)?
« Reply #1 on: 24 June 2019 10:00:58 am »


Logs for HMS Constance for this period are available at the National Archives; for instance those for 1917 may be found under references ADM 53/38445 through to ADM 53/38467  - they will detail her location, although not mission. Pink Lists show her as part of the 4th LCS based at Scapa Flow

There was already a British naval presence in north Russia at this time, with the GLORY and IPHIGENIA on station.

Logs for HMS GLORY transcribed and available at:
https://www.naval-history.net/OWShips-WW1-01-HMS_Glory.htm

Logs for HMS IPHIGENIA transcribed and available at:
http://www.naval-history.net/OWShips-WW1-05-HMS_Iphigenia.htm
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ojd

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Re: HMS Constance and the Tsar (WW1)?
« Reply #2 on: 25 June 2019 12:31:25 am »

That's great, many thanks.  I will have a look through the transcribed logs for Glory and Iphigenia, but sadly it will be a while before I can get to Kew for the Constance logs.   I had found that Constance was part of the 4th LCS, but hadn't picked up that they were based out of Scapa Flow - that is interesting, as one of the mooted evacuation routes for the Tsar was RN Cruiser from Murmansk to Orkney and then down to Balmoral (again, from Helen Rappaport's book "The Race to Save the Romanovs"). 

The Constance logs may well be important in respect of her locations, but I would also still very much like to know the source for the "Royal Navy Research Archive" article referred to in my OP - it is very explicit, so clearly there is a source.  Here is hoping.

Thanks again,

Owen
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