1919 – Operation Red Trek

RFA SlavolThe British Campaign in the Baltic 1918-19 was a part of the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War. The intervention played a key role in enabling the establishment of the independent states of Estonia and Latvia but failed to secure the control of Petrograd by Russian White forces, one of the main goals of the campaign


The Russian Baltic Fleet was the key naval force available to the Bolsheviks and essential to the protection of Petrograd. The fleet was severely depleted after the First World War and Russian revolution but still formed a significant force. At least 1 Gangut class battleship, pre-Dreadnoughts, cruisers, destroyers and submarines were available. Many of the officer corps were on the White Russian side in the Civil War or had been murdered but some competent leaders remained.

A Royal Navy squadron was sent under Rear-Admiral Edwyn Alexander-Sinclair CB., MVO. This force consisted of modern C class cruisers and V and W class destroyers. In December 1918, Sinclair sallied into Estonian and Latvian ports, sending in troops and supplies, and promising to attack the Bolsheviks “as far as my guns can reach”. In January 1919 he was succeeded in command by Rear-Admiral Walter Cowan CB., DSO., MVO

RN ships lost in the Baltic include:

Light cruiser HMS Cassandra – mined in an uncharted German minefield.

V class destroyers:

HMS Verulam – mined.
HMS Vittoria – torpedoed by the Bolshevik submarine Pantera off the island of Seiskari in the Gulf of Finland

Submarine L55 – in a surface action against Bolshevik destroyers on 9 June 1919. She was raised on 11 August 1928 and her crew were buried in Haslar Naval Cemetery, Gosport on 7 September 1928

l55 memorial

HMS/m L55 Memorial

Arabis class sloops:

HMS Gentian and HMS Myrtle – mined.

Coastal Motor Boats:

CMB-24, CMB-62 and CMB-79 – surface action against Bolshevik Fleet.
CMB-67 – stranded.

The 112 deaths of British servicemen (107 RN personnel and 5 RAF personnel) are commemorated on a memorial plaque, which was unveiled in 2005 at Portsmouth Cathedral, Hampshire, with similar memorials in churches in Tallinn and Riga.


RFA’s present supporting the Royal Navy were: –

Bacchus portside

RFA Bacchus (1)


RFA Slavol

Prestol 2

RFA Prestol

Belgol 01

RFA Belgol – as a replacement for RFA Prestol when she was damaged in a collision with the ss. Susquehanna at Danzig on 29 November 1920 and had to return to Rosyth