Victory at Sea - Naval Power and the Transformation of the Global Order in World War II

Victory at Sea - Naval Power and the Transformation of the Global Order in World War II

Naval Battles of the Second World War - The Atlantic and the Mediterranean

Naval Battles of the Second World War - The Atlantic and the Mediterranean

Warships in the Baltic Campaign 1918-20 - The Royal Navy takes on the Bolsheviks (New Vanguard)

Angus Konstam

A fascinating look at the British naval intervention in the Baltic in 1918-20, and at the British, Soviet and Baltic nationalist fleets that fought. Following the Russian Revolution of October 1917, the Baltic states became a battleground between Russian Reds and Whites, German troops and emerging Baltic independence forces. In November 1918, the British government decided to intervene, to protect British interests and to support the emerging Baltic states. Describing the political background to the conflict, and the key points of the naval campaign as well as the warships involved, this is a concise and fascinating account of an overlooked naval campaign that helped reshape the map of Europe.
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A fascinating look at the British naval intervention in the Baltic in 1918-20, and at the British, Soviet and Baltic nationalist fleets that fought. Following the Russian Revolution of October 1917, the Baltic states became a battleground between Russian Reds and Whites, German troops and emerging Baltic independence forces. In November 1918, the British government decided to intervene, to protect British interests and to support the emerging Baltic states. This initial small force of cruisers and destroyers was eventually augmented by other British warships, including aircraft carriers, a monitor, as well as a handful of submarines and torpedo boats. Opposing them was the far more powerful Russian Baltic Fleet, now controlled by the Bolsheviks. The campaign that followed involved naval clashes between the two sides, the most spectacular of which was an attack on the Soviet naval base of Kronstadt in June 1919 by a force of small British torpedo boats. They torpedoed and sunk the Russian cruiser Oleg, an action which effectively bottled the Baltic fleet up in port for the remainder of the campaign. Finally, in early 1920, the British squadron was withdrawn, following Soviet recognition of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. This New Vanguard title explores the naval side of this little-known but strategically crucial campaign fought by the war-weary navies of Britain and Russia and by warships of the emerging Baltic states. Describing the political background to the conflict, and the key points of the naval campaign as well as the warships involved, this is a concise and fascinating account of an overlooked naval campaign that helped reshape the map of Europe.

ISBN: 9781472851666
Format: Paperback
Author(s): Angus Konstam
First Publishment Date: 28 April 2022
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Author(s) Angus Konstam
Customer Reviews
  1. How the Royal Navy took on Soviet Forces
    On 26 November 1918, just over two weeks after the end of the First World War, a British cruiser squadron and destroyer flotilla left Rosyth for the Baltic. Many of their war-weary crews had hoped to be demobbed, but instead found themselves heading for a new conflict, one that was being waged by three Baltic states seeking independence from Russia. Britain had decided to support them and also bring some stability to what was now a very volatile situation. As well as the nationalist forces, the Red Army, the anti-Bolshevik White Russians, and German occupying troops were all vying for control of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. It didn’t help that the British government was unable to provide Rear Admiral Alexander-Sinclair with clear instructions, and the Baltic was still strewn with mines. Sinclair’s replacement, after he was ordered home in January 1919, was Rear Admiral Walter Cowan, who described his dilemma, ‘It was enough to confuse anyone with a claim to sanity! It seemed to me that there was never such a tangle, and my brain reeled with it. An unbeaten German army, two kinds of belligerent Russians, Letts, Finns, Estonians, Lithuanians: ice, mines – 60,000 of them! Russian submarines, German small craft, Russian battleships, cruisers and destroyers, all only waiting for the ice to melt to ravage the Baltic.’ Konstam provides a concise account of the complex geo-political background to the campaign, before giving an accurate and compelling description of the main activities and actions in which the British warships were involved. An early casualty was the cruiser Cassandra, which sank after being mined. British cruisers bombarded Soviet lines in Estonia, before Russian ships sallied forth from their Kronstadt base to bombard Reval (now Tallinn), but two of their destroyers were captured by the British and handed over to the Estonians. Next, British cruisers bombarded Windau, causing Soviet troops to flee. But the British submarine L55 was lost after an attack by a Russian destroyer. The famous torpedo attacks at Kronstadt by British coastal motor boats followed. First the cruiser Oleg was sunk, and then, in a concerted attack on the naval base, a submarine depot ship was sunk and a pre-Dreadnought battleship was badly damaged, albeit with the loss of three CMBs. In later actions the British destroyer Vittoria was sunk by torpedoes, and her sister ship Verulam was lost in a British-laid minefield, whilst the Russians lost three destroyers to British-laid mines. Riga was saved from attacking German forces who were routed when British and French warships, including the newly arrived 15in monitor Erebus, bombarded them. By then the Soviets were tiring of war and an armistice was agreed, leading to Soviet recognition of the independent Baltic states. In the last section of the book Konstam describes the warships involved, both Allied and Russian. Throughout the book is well illustrated, including striking new artwork and archive mono images.

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