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Mysteriously beautiful

This very nice DWM commercial Luger with matching grips and magazine is in the collection of the Canadian War Museum as Artifact 1306478.

Sadly, not much is listed about how it got there other than it is associated with the F-class destroyer HMCS Saskatchewan, formerly HMS Fortune (H70) of the Royal Navy.

Saskatchewan was very active during WWII including sinking at least one and maybe two U-boats while in British service and a German patrol boat off Normandy while under the Canadian flag. Of course, as it is a commercial gun, it could have simply belonged to a crewmember rather than picked up as a capture.

As a related point, Saskatchewan‘s bell is on proud display at the Vancouver Island Military Museum in Nanaimo and her name was recycled for a Mackenzie-class destroyer, DDE 262, which was active throughout the Cold War.

Swim Call! 75 years ago

USS Halford (DD-480). Men swimming from the ship, in the South Pacific, 8 May 1944.”

(NHHC: 80-G-256443)

A Fletcher-class destroyer, Halford was built by Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and commissioned on 10 April 1943. Sailing straight for Guadalcanal, she was in the thick of the Pacific War and from Dec. 1943 to Sept 1945– just 22 months, she earned an impressive 13 battle stars. Decommissioned 15 May 1946, she went into mothballs at the ripe old age of three and was scrapped in 1970.

Warship Wednesday, May 8, 2019: Vladivostok’s Red Pennant

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.- Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, May 8, 2019: Vladivostok’s Red Pennant

ADMIRAL ZAVOYKO 1921

Here we see the Russian steam gunboat Adm. Zavoyko bobbing around in Shanghai harbor sometime in 1921, as you may observe from the local merchants plying their wares. When this photo was taken, she was perhaps the only seagoing member of a Russian fleet on the Pacific side of the globe. Funny story there.

Built at the Okhta shipyard in St. Petersburg for the Tsar’s government in 1910-11, she was named after the 19th century Imperial Russian Navy VADM Vasily Stepanovich Zavoyko, known for being the first Kamchatka governor and Port of Petropavlovsk commander, the latter of which he famously defended from a larger Anglo-French force during the Crimean War.

This guy:

Vasily Stepanovich Zavoyko 2

The riveted steel-hulled modified yacht with an ice-strengthened nose was some 142.7-feet long at the waterline and weighed in at just 700-tons, able to float in just 10 feet of calm water. Powered by a single fire tube boiler, her triple expansion steam engine could propel her at up to 11.5-knots while her schooner-style twin masts could carry an auxiliary sail rig. She was capable of a respectable 3,500 nm range if her bunkers were full of coal and she kept it under 8 knots.

Ostensibly operated by Kamchatka governor and intended for the needs of the local administration along Russia’s remote Siberian coast, carrying mail, passengers and supplies, the government-owned vessel was not meant to be a military ship– but did have weight and space reserved fore and aft for light mounts to turn her into something of an auxiliary cruiser in time of war (more on this later).

ADMIRAL ZAVOYKO plans

Sailing for the Far East in the summer of 1911, when war was declared in August 1914, the white-hulled steamer was transferred to the Siberian Flotilla (the largest Russian naval force in the Pacific after the crushing losses to the Japanese in 1905) and used as a dispatch ship for that fleet.

Now the Siberian Flotilla in 1914, under VADM Maximilian Fedorovich von Schulz– the commander of the cruiser Novik during the war with Japan– was tiny, with just the two cruisers Askold and Zhemchug (the latter of which was soon sunk by the German cruiser Emden) the auxiliary cruisers Orel and Manchu; two dozen assorted destroyers/gunboats/minelayers of limited military value, seven cranky submarines and the icebreakers Taimyr and Vaigach. As many of these were soon transferred to the West and Arctic in 1915 once the Germans had been swept from the Pacific, our little steamer, armed with machine guns and a 40mm popgun, proved an increasingly important asset used to police territorial waters.

ADMIRAL ZAVOYKO 1917

ADMIRAL ZAVOYKO 1917

By 1917, with the Siberian Flotilla down to about half the size that it began the war with– and no ships larger than a destroyer– the 6,000 sailors and officers of the force were ripe for revolutionary agitation. As such, Adm. Zavoyko raised a red flag on her masts on 29 November while in Golden Horn Bay, the first such vessel in the Pacific to do so.

She kept her red pennant flying, even as Allies landed intervention forces at Vladivostok.

Japanese marines in a parade of Allied forces in Vladivostok before French and American sailors 1918

Japanese marines in a parade of Allied forces in Vladivostok before British, French and American sailors, 1918

As for the rest of the Siberian Flotilla, it largely went on blocks with its crews self-demobilizing and many jacks heading home in Europe. The fleet commander, Von Schulz, was cashiered and left for his home in the Baltics where he was killed on the sidelines of the Civil War in 1919.

By then, it could be argued that the 60 (elected) officers and men of the Adm. Zavoyko formed the only active Russian naval force of any sort in the Pacific.

In early April 1920, with the counter-revolutionary White Russian movement in their last gasps during the Civil War, the lukewarm-to- Moscow/Pro-Japanese Far Eastern Republic was formed with its capital in the Siberian port. It should be noted that the FER kind of wanted to just break away from the whole Russia thing and go its own way, much like the Baltics, Caucuses, Ukraine, Finland, and Poland had done already. Their much-divided 400~ representative Constituent Assembly consisted of about a quarter Bolsheviks with sprinklings of every other political group in Russia including Social Revolutionaries, Cadets (which had long ago grown scarce in Russia proper), Mensheviks, Socialists, and Anarchists. This produced a weak buffer state between Soviet Russia and Imperial Japan.

This thing:

The Far Eastern Republic ran from the Eastern shores of Lake Baikal to Vladivostok and only existed from 1920-23.

Now flying the (still-red) flag of the FER, Adm. Zavoyko was soon dispatched to bring a cache of arms to Red partisans operating against the last armed Whites on the coast of the Okhotsk and Bering Seas.

However, after Adm. Zavoyko left Vladivostok, the local demographics in its homeport changed dramatically. By early 1921, the population of the city had swelled to over 400,000 (up from the 97,000 who had lived there in 1916) as the White Army retreated east. With the blessing of the local Japanese forces– all the other Allies had left the city– the Whites took over the city in a coup on May 26 from the Reds of the Far Eastern Republic. As the Japanese were cool with that as well, it was a situation that was allowed to continue with the Whites in control of Vladivostok and the Reds in control of the rest of the FER, all with the same strings pulled by Tokyo. To consolidate their assets, the Whites ordered Adm. Zavoyko back to Vladivostok to have her crew and flags swapped out.

This put Adm. Zavoyko in the peculiar position of being the sole “navy” of an ostensibly revolutionary Red republic cut off from her country’s primary port. With that, she sailed for Shanghai, China and remained a fleet in being there for the rest of 1921 and into 1922, flying the St. Andrew Flag of the old Russian Navy. There, according to legend, she successfully fended off several plots from foreign actors, Whites, monarchists, and the like to take over the vessel.

By October 25, 1922, the Whites lost their Vladivostok privileges as the Japanese decided to quit their nearly five-year occupation of Eastern Siberia and the Amur region. White Russian RADM Georgii Karlovich Starck, who had held the rank of captain in the old Tsarist Navy and was the nephew of the VADM Starck who was caught napping by the Japanese at Port Arthur in 1904, then somehow managed to scrape together a motley force of 30 ships ranging from fishing smacks and coasters to harbor tugs and even a few of the old gunboats and destroyers of the Siberian Flotilla and sail for Korea with 10,000 White refugees aboard. His pitiful force eventually ended up in Shanghai on 5 December, where it landed its refuges, and then proceeded to sell its vessels (somewhat illegally) in the Philippines the next year, splitting the proceeds with said diaspora. Starck would later die in exile in Paris in 1950. His second in command, White RADM Vasily Viktorovich Bezoire (who in 1917 was only a lieutenant), remained in Shanghai and was later killed by the Japanese in 1941.

As for Adm. Zavoyko, once the FER voted to self-dissolve and become part of Soviet Russia, she lowered her St. Andrew’s flag, raised the Moscow flag, and sailed back home to the now-all-Soviet Vladivostok in March 1923 where became a unit of the Red Banner Fleet– the only one in the Pacific until 1932.

To commemorate her service during the Revolution and Civil War, her old imperialist name was changed to Krasny Vympel (Red Pennant). She was also up-armed, picking up four 75mm guns in shielded mounts, along with a gray scheme to replace her old white one.

For the next several years she was used to fight pockets of anarchists and White guards that persisted along the coast, engage stateless warlords, pirates, and gangs along the Amur, and shuffle government troops across the region as the sole Soviet naval asset in the area. She also helped recover former Russian naval vessels towed by the Japanese to Northern Sakhalin Island (where the Japanese remained in occupation until 1925).

In 1929, she stood to and supported the Northern Pacific leg of the Strana Sovetov (Land of the Soviets) seaplanes which flew from Moscow to New York. After that, with her neighborhood quieting down, she was used for training and coastal survey work but kept her guns installed– just in case.

Tupolev TB-1 Strana Sovyetov

Tupolev TB-1 Strana Sovyetov floatplane, 1929. The two planes would cover some 21,000 km to include a hop from Petrovavlask to Attu, which our vessel assisted with.

During WWII, with the revitalized Soviet Pacific Fleet much larger, Adm. Zavoyko/Krasny Vympel kept on in her role as an armed surveillance vessel and submarine tender, occasionally running across and destroying random mines sewn by Allied and Japanese alike.

In 1958, after six years of service to the Tsar, five years to various non-Soviet Reds, and 35 to the actual Soviets, she was retired but retained as a floating museum ship in her traditional home of Vladivostok in Golden Horn Bay.

Krasny Vympel 1973

Krasny Vympel 1973, via Fleetphoto.ru

Today, she remains a popular tourist attraction. She was extensively rebuilt in 2014 and, along with the Stalinets-class Red Banner Guards Submarine S-56 and several ashore exhibits, forms the Museum of Military Glory of the Pacific Fleet.

Krasny Vympel 75mm guns maxim via Fleetphoto.ru

Krasny Vympel 75mm guns and Maxim, via Fleetphoto.ru

She has been the subject of much maritime art:

As well as the cover of calendars, postcards, pins, medals, and buttons.

You can find more photos of the vessel at Fleetphoto.ru (in Russian) and at the Vladivostok City site

Specs:

Archive of the Modelist-Designer magazine, 1977, № 9 Via Hobby Port.ru http://www.hobbyport.ru/ships/krasny_vympel.htm

Displacement — 700 t
Length: 173.2 ft. overall (142.7 ft. waterline)
Beam: 27.88 ft.
Draft: 10 ft.
Engineering: 550 HP on one Triple expansion steam engine, one coal-fired boiler
Speed: 11.5 knots; 3500 nm at 8
Crew: 60
Armament:
(1914)
1 x 40mm Vickers
2 x Maxim machine guns

(1923)
4 x 75-mm low-angle
1 x 40mm Vickers
2 x Maxim machine guns

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find. http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

PRINT still has its place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Vale, Grand Duke Jean

Today, let us celebrate a modern warrior king, or grand duke, as it was.

Related to King Louis XIV through his father and the famed Dutch-German House of Nassau through his mother, Jean Benoît Guillaume Robert Antoine Louis Marie Adolphe Marc d’Aviano was born at Berg Castle in Luxembourg on 5 January 1921 and was the eldest son of Grand Duchess Charlotte, who had assumed the duchy’s throne the previous year immediately after the country was liberated from the Kaiser’s forces by the Allies.

Jean was sent to Ampleforth College in England at age 13, where he served in the school’s officer’s training corps which was commanded by a Great War-era Grenadier Guards officer. When he returned home from abroad in 1938 at the age of 17, Jean was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Corps des Gendarmes et Volontaires— the country’s mixed two-company police and volunteer corps.

Luxembourg Prince Jean was promoted to the rank of 1st Lieutenant of the Volunteers’ Company

(Photos: Collection MNHM /Cour Grand Ducale MNHM – Musée National d’Histoire Militaire Luxumbourg)

On 10 May 1940, three German panzer divisions swept through the Duchy and by the end of the day the Luxembourgish forces had laid down their arms. The royal family fled to England and later the U.S. to set up a government in exile. This “Free Luxembourg” government later raised a 70-man force overseas who formed a four-gun artillery battery attached to the Free Belgian Brigade.

As for Jean, he fell back on his previous experience in British officer training and, after a stint at Sandhurst, joined the 3rd battalion, Irish Guards, as a lieutenant in 1943.

He landed at Normandy at Arromanches five days after D-Day and went on to serve as a liaison officer with the rank of captain in the 32nd Brigade, fighting in the Battle of Caen– which was no pushover-– and in the liberation of Brussels.

He reentered Luxembourg in September 1944 but kept on trucking with the British Army through Arnheim and the fight into Germany itself, only retiring from active British service in 1947. He would later serve as the Irish Guard’s titular Colonel from 1984 through 2000.

When he became Grand Duke in 1964, he became head of the country’s military, which by 1967 was expanded to a full brigade in size under NATO. Having been decidedly beefed up after its experiences in 1914 and 1940, the Duchy moved to conscription to swell the ranks.

Jean retained his rank of general until he left the throne, retiring in favor of his son, Henri, in 2000 at age 79, having first put on a uniform more than six decades prior.

Grand Duke Jean died 23 April, aged 98.

His mortal remains will be exhibited at the Grand-Ducal Palace of Luxembourg with the public eager to pay a last tribute to his royal highness is invited:

Thursday, May 2, from 10.00 to 12.00 and from 14.00 to 19.00.
Friday, May 3 from 10.00 to 12.00 and from 14.00 to 16.00.

Warship Wednesday, May 1, 2019: Indy Radio (on May Day)

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.- Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, May 1, 2019: Indy Radio (on May Day)

USS Indy Radio Exhibit (4)

(All photos: Chris Eger)

Here we see an immense– and operational— vacuum tube of a General Electric Model TAJ-19 radio complete with its original 1942 U.S. Navy Bu Ships data plates. The location? The entry level of the Indiana War Memorial, home to the USS Indy Radio Exhibit which is dedicated not only to the famous heavy cruiser of the same name but also to all WWII U.S. Navy radiomen and radio techs.

USS Indy Radio Exhibit (2) USS Indy Radio Exhibit (2)

The radio room exhibit, which I stumbled on last Sunday while in town for the NRA Annual Meetings while on the job with Guns.com, was manned by four big-hearted gentlemen who lovingly cared for the very well maintained cabinets. Their ham call sign is WW2IND for you guys looking for QSL cards.

USS Indy Radio Exhibit (2)

USS Indy Radio Exhibit (2)

The TAJ-19 is a 500-watt CW and 250-watt MCW transmitter that operated from 175kc up to 600kc and was used on just about everything the Navy had in WWII that was bigger than a destroyer escort. This one is still operational…

USS Indy Radio Exhibit (2)

Over 32 volunteers worked since 2008 to establish the radio room, sourcing some 174 items from across the country to include surplus equipment from the period battleships USS Iowa and USS Alabama.

Bravo Zulu, gentlemen!

As for the War Memorial itself, they have an amazing collection which I will get to more in future posts including extensive space dedicated to the USS Vincennes, to both modern USS Indiana‘s (Battleships No. 1 and 58), as well as the above-mentioned cruiser, and the more modern attack sub that shares her same name.

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find. http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

PRINT still has its place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Kilted Kenny

Gibb, Robert; Comrades, the 42nd Highlanders; The Black Watch Castle & Museum; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/comrades-the-42nd-highlanders-128430

The British Army has long included Highland regiments, hardy units recruited in Scotland– that in some cases were established long before the British Army was. Kilt-wearing regiments included such storied outfits as the 42nd Foot/Royal Highlanders/Black Watch, Cameron Highlanders, Gordon Highlanders, the Seaforth Highlanders, and the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders.

Many of these regiments still issued the knee-length pleated uniform kilt for field dress as late as 1942 and Highlanders sent to France with the BEF went to the Continent in 1939 wearing their traditional uniforms.

Today the pipers of the Scots Guards and the Jocks of the Royal Regiment of Scotland as a whole still wear the Type 1A Military Kilt on  occasion (although the latter includes several lowland regiments that have been amalgamated) and to keep you straight on how to do that properly, check out the hilarious instruction from CSgt Benson, Master Tailor of 2 Scots, below:

Climb Mount…Fuji

World War II in the Pacific began (unless you ask the Chinese or French) on 2 December 1941 with the famous “Niitakayama Nobore” (Climb Mount Niitaka) signal sent to Nagumo’s flagship to clear the way for Yamamoto Kido Butai force of a half-dozen aircraft carriers to turn towards Hawaii and attack Pearl Harbor on the morning of the 7th.

Interestingly, the U.S. military has, since the final days of WWII, instituted the common practice of posing warplanes over Mount Fujisan, just outside of Tokyo, which I always took as a bit of historic payback.

Corsairs Fringe Fuji. Painting, Wash and Scratch Board by Standish Backus 1945 NHHC 88-186-AC

Corsairs Fringe Fuji. Painting, Wash and Scratch Board by Standish Backus 1945 NHHC 88-186-AC

Grumman F9F-6 Cougar Jet Fighters Fly in formation over Mount Fuji, Japan, 12 December 1954. They are from USS YORKTOWN's (CVA-10), VF -153. Plane in foreground is BU 128209. 80-G-K- 17821

Grumman F9F-6 Cougar Jet Fighters Fly in formation over Mount Fuji, Japan, 12 December 1954. They are from USS YORKTOWN’s (CVA-10), VF -153. Plane in the foreground is BU 128209. 80-G-K- 17821

F9F Panthers over Mt. Fuji, c.1957

F9F Panthers over Mt. Fuji, c.1957

Formation of VA-22 A4C “Skyhawk” aircraft over Mt. Fuji, Japan, 27 April 1964. NHHC

Formation of VA-22 A4C “Skyhawk” aircraft over Mt. Fuji, Japan, 27 April 1964. NHHC

MOUNT FUJI, Japan (April 12, 2007) - Aircraft assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 perform a formation flight in front of Mount Fuji. CVW-5 is embarked aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63). Kitty Hawk operates from Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jarod Hodge

MOUNT FUJI, Japan (April 12, 2007) – Aircraft assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 perform a formation flight in front of Mount Fuji. CVW-5 is embarked aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63).U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jarod Hodge

Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 267 AH-1Z Viper and UH-1Y Venom helicopters past Mount Fuji, Shizuoka, Japan, March 12, 2017. The squadron, currently supporting Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, validated the long-range capability of auxiliary fuel tanks on their H-1 platform helicopters by flying 314 nautical miles during one leg of the four-day mission, March 10. These aircrafts’ extended range is crucial to maintaining a stronger, more capable forward-deployed force in readiness in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. The squadron is based out of Camp Pendleton, California. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Andy Martinez)

Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 267 AH-1Z Viper and UH-1Y Venom helicopters past Mount Fuji, Shizuoka, Japan, March 12, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Andy Martinez)

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