Life at the end of the road

November 6, 2018

One more sleep :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings — Tags: , , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:05 pm

Not much achieved today peeps, in fact I’ve hardly been outside and me eyes are sore from staring at screens and books. Dunno what that’s all about, my eyes never get sore outside but if I spend too much time on the puter, TV or reading they get all itchy and eye drops don’t seem to help. Oh for a decent shed to play in or some interesting project. I just cannae stand doing nothing and an hour or two on here is about my limit afore I have to go out and walk the dug just to get some fresh air on my face and give me eyes a break. I say I’ve hardly been outside but I guess that’s just relative, generally speaking I’m hardly inside Smile 

The cruiser Varyag

I knew today was gonna be tough, Darling Wife had booked a hairdresser and another trip to Ayr was planned, well rugger that I thought and once more drew up zilch on ‘things to do in Girvan’. I even stretched my Internet search as far as Stranraer, which is only 30 miles away but that failed to tempt me either. I guess I was just having one of those ‘bah humbug’ days or perhaps weeks Smile Dunno if it was Wifey or Mum in Law who mumbled something about Russian warship memorial but it made me prick up my ears and vaguely rang a bell. Google turned up this and it started to come back to me. I had read about an old Imperial Russian cruiser being towed for scrap after the war and running aground near Girvan . Had thought it may make an interesting distraction from the endless shopping trips if I ever found myself down this way with son and Searider.

  Varyag chart

There are one or two interesting shipwrecks in the vicinity of Girvan and Ailsa Craig but it’s not an area I’ve ever dived. However, with MiL living here now who knows Smile

Anyway, it turns out that the ship had a very interesting career and is something of a legend in her home country. The 6500 ton protected cruiser was built in America for the Czar’s navy and managed to serve in Japanese and Royal Navy too before running aground here and being salvaged by a German company. Though that is not what the Varyag is remembered for


The Varyag and her crew are immortalised in song

for her exploits at Chemulpo Bay in the Russo Japanese war of 1904 , a rather ignominious episode of Russian history. A little known episode (in the UK at least) of early twentieth century history which had far reaching effects then and much later. Indeed it tested the metal of modern weapons of war, shattered a few illusions about warship design and laid the foundations of the massacre in the trenches of Europe that would succeed it. 

The Varyag was blockaded in the neutral Korean port (now Incheon near Seoul) by a large Japanese force. The Japanese sent a very polite letter to all the ships in the port, many of which were themselves neutral and said something along the lines of “if the Russians are not out by 4:00PM we are coming to get them”. This I guess would have created a serious diplomatic incident as that would have violated Korea’s neutrality not to mention endangered the neutral vessels and their crews, Italians, French, Britons and American’s. Had it been me, I’d have stayed put Smile Not old Captain Vsevolod Rudnev of the Imperial Russian Navy , no he hoisted his colours and went out to meet 6 Japanese Cruisers and 8 Torpedo boats with just the old Russian Gunboat Korietz for support. So impressed by the Russian’s decision were the Italians aboard the Elba that their band played the Russian national anthem as they sailed by. It did not end well for the Russians who after a fierce and one sided battle scuttled their ships, the survivors being rescued and repatriated by the neutrals in port. So impressed were the Japanese by the Russian courage that they gave Captain Rudnev a medal!!!

Order of the Rising Sun grand cordon badge (Japan) - Tallinn Museum of Orders.jpg

The Order of the Rising Sun

The story was not over by a long way, Varyag was salvaged and repaired by the Japanese,

Varyag.jpg and commissioned as the IJN Soya with whom she served for nine more years before being sold back to her new ally Russia in 1916 Smile fantastic images here but text in Russian Sad smile

The renamed Varyag transferred to the Russian Arctic fleet before going to Cammell Laird on the Mersey for a major refit. It was whilst in dock that the October Revolution took place and British troops ‘stormed’ the vessel after the crew hoisted a red flag. Varyag was then taken over by the Royal Navy for use as a hulk before being sold for scrap in 1920.

Whilst being towed to breakers she ran aground twice, once in the Solway Firth along with her tugs one of which became a total wreck. Varyag and three of the tugs were refloated  only to have the cruiser break her tow and run aground off Lendalfoot just south of Girvan. She was salvaged down to the waterline where she lay over the next couple of years.

And there I guess she lay, forgotten by most for nearly a hundred years,

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until recently that is when this memorial to her and the bravery of her crew was erected by the Russian government, probably the only one commemorating a foreign power’s heroism on UK (or Scottish if you prefer) soil. So, Charlie and I went for a ‘looksee’, I really liked it.

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Stumpy gets a paint job

After that it was back home for a wee while before going back out with Charlie for a wander down town.

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The Fleetwood crabber Boy Christopher FD131 was off the slip at Nobel’s and back at sea and ‘dumpy’ had got a paint job Smile

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Souter Johnnie’s

Apparently he’s something to do with Robert Burns who went to school in Kirkoswald for a few weeks Smile Allegedly this pub is built on the site of said school, tenuous or what Smile Anyway, they do awesome grub and that’s where we went to celebrate going home tomorrow Smile

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1 Comment »

  1. Nice chunk of history there … really enjoyed that!

    Comment by Matt — November 7, 2018 @ 9:42 am

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