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Spying on the Russians: Archibald Douglas and HMS Egeria at Petropavlovsk, 1877–1878

  • Ian R. Stone (a1)

The period 1877–1878 was one of tension between Britain and Russia caused by the Russo-Turkish War and the consequent threat to the route to India. The Royal Navy was deployed to deter the Russians in seas adjacent to the Balkans, but also undertook intelligence gathering missions further afield. Two of these were to Petropavlovsk in sub-Arctic Kamchatka and were undertaken by Commander A.L. Douglas in HMS Egeria. The British, with their French allies, had sustained a serious defeat there during the Crimean War and wished to ascertain the state of Russian defences should there be fresh hostilities. In the event, Douglas discovered that the Russians had abandoned Petropavlovsk as a fortified post and that there was no garrison. His reports were, therefore, negative, but included interesting information concerning Petropavlovsk in this era.

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Douglas, A.C. 1938. A life of Admiral Sir Archibald Lucius Douglas. Totnes: Mortimer Brothers.
Forbes, A. 1895. Memories and studies of war and peace. London: Cassell and Company.
Stephan, J.J. 1969. The Crimean War in the Far East. Modern Asian Studies 3 (3): 257277.
Stone, I.R. and Crampton, R.J.. 1985. ‘A disastrous affair’; the Franco-British attack on Petropavlovsk, 1854. Polar Record 22 (41): 629641.
Who was who. 1920. Douglas, Admiral Sir Archibald Lucius. In: Who was who: a companion to ‘Who's who’ containing the biographies of those who died during the period 1897–1916. London: Adam and Charles Black: 204.
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Polar Record
  • ISSN: 0032-2474
  • EISSN: 1475-3057
  • URL: /core/journals/polar-record
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