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Ian Burns View Drop Down
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    Posted: 17 Oct 2015 at 21:13
Can anyone identify date and issue or, better, let me have a copy of:

When the R.A.F. Flew Against the Bolsheviks-Night Strike Against the Red Fleet, by R. Steel, published in Royal Air Force News

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Morris Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Oct 2015 at 19:58
This may help:
Spinks Auction: 9033 - Orders, Decorations, Campaign Medals & Militaria Lot: 10
https://www.spink.com/lot-description.aspx?id=903310

A Well Documented and Rare, ┬┤Military Division┬┤ O.B.E., 1919 ┬┤Kronstadt Raid┬┤ D.F.C., ┬┤Great War┬┤ A.F.C. Group of Eight to Seaplane Pilot, Flight Lieutenant, Later Group Captain, A.W. ┬┤Fletch┬┤ Fletcher, Royal Air Force Late Royal Naval Air Service, Who Flew His Short Seaplane to the Rescue of Lieutenant Agar R.N., ┬┤Who Was Some Considerable Distance Behind the Four Other Surviving C.M.B.s. Observing Agar┬┤s Imminent Peril of Becoming the Exclusive Target of Every Bolshevik Gun in Kronstadt, Captain Fletcher Dived His Short Seaplane Down the Beam of the Searchlight Apparently About to Pick Up the Diminutive Launch and Then Beat Up the Forts Along the Harbour Entrance, Strafing the Emplacement with Trace So That Agar Could Make Good His Escape.┬┤ Augustus Agar Went On to Be Awarded One of Three Victoria Crosses Given For the Kronstadt Raid, 17/18.8.1919 a) The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, 1st type, Military Division, Officer┬┤s (O.B.E.). breast Badge, silver-gilt (Hallmarks for London 1919) b) Distinguished Flying Cross, G.V.R., reverse engraved in upright sans-serif capitals, ┬┤Captain A.W. Fletcher┬┤ c) Air Force Cross, G.V.R., reverse engraved in upright sans-serif capitals ┬┤Captain A.W. Fletcher┬┤ d) 1914-15 Star (F.1348. A.W. Fletcher. P.O.M., R.N.A.S.) e) British War and Victory Medals, M.I.D. Oakleaves (Capt. A.W. Fletcher. R.A.F.) f) War Medal g) Jubilee 1935, cleaned, very fine, together with the following official documents &c.: - Three Royal Air Force Pilot┬┤s Flying Log Books (covering the periods 16.1.1928-23.6.1931, 7.6.1933-5.8.1936 and 26.8.1937-27.5.1938) - Commission appointing Albert W. Fletcher as Probationary Flight Sub Lieutenant, Royal Naval Air Service, dated 12.7.1916 - Commission appointing Albert W. Fletcher as Temporary Flight Lieutenant, Royal Naval Air Service, dated 23.1.1918 - M.I.D. Certificate, dated 22.12.1919 - Permission to Wear Document for Jubilee Medal 1935, with named enclosure slip - Letter from The Royal Aero Club informing recipient that he has been granted an Aviator┬┤s Certificate No. 3816, dated 18.11.1916 - Royal Naval Air Service Certificate for graduation as Aeroplane Pilot from the R.N.A.S. Training Establishment, Cranwell, numbered 299, and dated 3.1.1917 - Officer Commanding R.N.A.S. Calshot confidential report on recipient┬┤s Seaplane Training, dated 17.2.1917 - Royal Air Force Certificate of Air Pilotage, dated 14.12.1926 - Royal Air Force Certificate of Air Navigation, dated 16.8.1927 - Certificate of Service for the period, 28.10.1916-7.1.1917, whilst serving with H.M.S. Daedalus - Certificate of Service for the period 25.3.1919-7.5.1919, whilst serving with H.M.S. Caledon - Certificate of Service for the period 14.7.1925-20.4.1926, whilst serving with H.M.S. Hermes - Copy of Station Orders by Colonel R.C. Hunt, O.C. East Fortune, listing and congratulating recipient on the award of A.F.C., dated 7.11.1916 - Letter from the Air Ministry informing recipient of his share of the Prize Bounty due to him in respect of the destruction of the Bolshevik armed vessel "Pannyat Azeca" [sic] and a Torpedo Boat Destroyer on 17th and 18th August 1919, dated 2.7.1920 - Two Invitations to a Royal Garden Party at Holyrood Palace, dated 11.7.1923 - Eight Letters of congratulation upon recipient┬┤s promotion and 13 Telegrams to the same effect - Memorandum of Report concerning the Kronstadt Raid, dated 20.8.1919 - Recipient┬┤s Visiting Card as a Wing Commander - Letter from the Fairey Aviation Company Ltd to the recipient, dated 26.6.1923 - Letter from the School of Naval Co-Operation, R.A.F. Lee-On-Solent to recipient┬┤s son informing him of his selection in an Officer┬┤s Sons Cricket Match, dated 11.8.1937 - Portrait photograph of recipient, two reconnaissance photographs of Kronstadt Harbour and other ephemera (lot) Estimate ┬ú 4,500-5,500 O.B.E. London Gazette 3.6.1925 Flight Lieutenant Albert William Fletcher, D.F.C., A.F.C., Royal Air Force D.F.C. London Gazette Flight Lieutenant Albert William Fletcher, A.F.C. ┬┤For gallantry and distinguished services (Baltic)┬┤ A.F.C. London Gazette 2.11.1918 Capt. Albert William Fletcher M.I.D. London Gazette 22.12.1919 Flight Lieutenant Albert William Fletcher, A.F.C. (Baltic) Group Captain Albert William Fletcher, O.B.E., D.F.C., A.F.C., born Hampstead, London; studied at Clark┬┤s College, Cricklewood, 1911; enlisted Royal Naval Air Service as Petty Officer Mechanic, 4.11.1914; served at H.M.S. Pembroke, 4.11.1914-31.3.1915 and at H.M.S. President, 31.3.1915-1.4.1915 and 1.9.1915-11.7.1916; commissioned Probationary Flight Sub-Lieutenant, 12.7.1916; posted to R.N.A.S. East Church, 5.8.1916; posted to Cranwell, 28.10.1916 and to Calshot, where he undertook a Seaplane Course, from 8.1.1917; he served as a Seaplane Pilot with H.M.S. Vindex (R.N. Seaplane Carrier), from 27.2.1917; served at R.N.A.S. East Fortune (Airship Station), 21.1.1918-27.4.1918 (A.F.C. for work at this station, letter included with lot refers); Temporary Flight Lieutenant 23.1.1918; served as Captain R.A.F. with H.M.S. Caledon, 25.3.1919-7.5.1919. The Kronstadt Raid In July 1919 H.M.S. Vindictive (a light cruiser converted into an aircraft carrier) left the Firth of Forth with a complement of Camels, Griffins, 1 1/2 Strutters and Short seaplanes for the Baltic to take part in a daring combined Naval and Royal Air Force raid on the Bolshevik forces holding Kronstadt naval base. The naval base ┬┤Kronstadt has ranked with Gibraltar and Heligoland as one of the impregnable fortresses of the world... [with] innumerable forts and protecting sandbanks┬┤ (R.A.F. Operations in the Baltic, 1919, Squadron Leader D.G. Donald, D.F.C., A.F.C., refers). Vindictive arrived at Bj├Ârk├ on the 20th July and ┬┤an aerodrome was established out of a wilderness of trees and rocks on the mainland about one mile east of the ship. At first it was not so level as one could wish, and it was very small; but after a few weeks the aeroplanes were able to take-off and land, fully loaded with bombs. A seaplane base was started on an island about one mile south-west of the ship, and all seaplanes were landed.┬┤ (Ibid) It was to the latter with his Short seaplane that Fletcher went. Within a week of arrival the R.A.F. undertook their first reconnaissance and photographic flights over and around the Kronstadt area and ┬┤two or three seaplane patrols were carried out daily, each flight usually lasted 3 to 3 1/2 hours. The nature of the patrol was principally anti-submarine, but any enemy craft seen were bombed, and movements or changes of disposition of enemy ships in Kronstadt were reported by W/T┬┤ (Ibid). The R.A.F. unit in situe consisted of only 11 pilots, of which 5 (including Fletcher) were seaplane pilots. They carried out their first large bombing raid on the 30th July, ┬┤the machines arrived over Kronstadt just as it was getting light..... five direct hits were observed, and two large fires were started..... All aircraft returned safely, but passed through a heavy anti-aircraft fire from the ships and batteries defending Kronstadt. This was particularly unpleasant for the seaplanes, which could not get above 4,000 feet.┬┤ In the first two weeks of August, as a prelude to the forthcoming raid, the R.A.F. increased the pressure on the Bolsheviks by carrying out eight daylight and two night bombing raids over Kronstadt. Unfortunately for the R.A.F. the quality of the anti-aircraft fire improved whilst their rather out dated aircraft did not. The naval forces to be employed for the Kronstadt Raid were to be led by Commander C. Dobson, and consisted of eight Coastal Motor Boats. Their objective was to gain access to the inner harbour and thus be in a position to attack the Capital ships anchored there, under Bolshevik control. In order to be able to carry this objective the R.A.F. were tasked with bombing the harbour defences and to create as much of a diversion away from the naval forces as possible. On the night of the 17th August, ┬┤the intention was that aircraft should attract all attention in Kronstadt so that the Coastal Motor Boats should be neither heard nor seen to approach the harbour, and with the end in view the bombing attack was timed to begin before the boats arrived within sound of Kronstadt, and further, to continue [even if they ran out of ammunition] until the boats reached the harbour entrance. Individual aircraft were also detailed to attack the guardship anchored in the entrance, to attack guns┬┤ crews and searchlights on the breakwater, and to cover the retreat of the Coastal Motor Boats.┬┤ Fletcher was ordered to attack the guardship and provide cover for any R.N. ships that managed to make it out of the maze of island forts, batteries, mines and nets that made up Kronstadt harbour. The aircraft successfully diverted attention away from the C.M.B.s, with the result that surprise was achieved and two Bolshevik battleships (the Petropavlosk and the Andrei Pervozvanny) were torpedoed and the submarine depot ship Pamiat Azova was sunk. The Royal Navy lost three C.M.B.s in the raid, and it could have been more had Fletcher not gallantly come to the rescue of Lieutenant Agar (who was later awarded the Victoria Cross for his part in the raid), ┬┤the last (boat) to leave the scene of the battle was Lt. Augustus Agar in no.7, who was some considerable distance behind the four other surviving C.M.B.s. Observing Agar┬┤s imminent peril of becoming the exclusive target of every Bolshevik gun in Kronstadt, Capt. Fletcher dived his Short seaplane down the beam of the searchlight apparently about to pick up the diminutive launch and then beat up the forts along the harbour entrance, strafing the emplacement with trace, so that Agar could make good his escape.┬┤ (When the R.A.F. Flew Against the Bolsheviks-Night Strike Against the Red Fleet, by R. Steel, published in Royal Air Force News, refers) The raid was hailed as a great success with Admiral Cowan (C-in-C. British Forces in the Baltic) writing in his official report, ┬┤the result will, I feel sure, be assessed by those best qualified to judge, as brilliant and completely successful a combined enterprise by sea and air forces as the last five years of war can show.┬┤ Three Victoria Crosses were awarded to the Royal Navy for this raid, and Fletcher who had so gallantly risked his life so that Agar could live to receive his V.C., was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for the raid. He also received ┬ú64 15s. 5d. as his share of the Kronstadt Raid Prize Money. Service for Fletcher after the Kronstadt Raid included on the Aircraft Carrier H.M.S. Argus; served as Flight Commander of 403 Flight on H.M.S. Hermes (Aircraft Carrier), 14.7.1925-20.4.1926; served with 480 Flight prior to being posted to No. 3 Flying Training School, R.A.F.; served with the latter as an Instructor, May 1928-November 1930; further postings included the Central Flying School; as Squadron Leader, Commanding, 204 Squadron (a Flying-Boat unit) 1934-36 and as Wing Commander, Chief Instructor, School of Naval Co-Operation, R.A.F. Lee-on-Solent, from August 1937; Fletcher┬┤s last posting was during the Second World War as a Group Captain at R.A.F. Abbotsinch (Torpedo Training Unit); he was forced to retire due to illness in September 1941.
Sold for £12,500
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Ian Burns View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ian Burns Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Oct 2015 at 20:07
Thanks Morris,

I have a copy of your Spinks description. Which prompted my enquiry.

The set sold for 12500 GBP! Way beyond we poor delvers for the truth

Ian
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NickForder Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Oct 2015 at 09:22
Agar's CMB is at Duxford (on display), as is his full dress uniform (in store). 
Agar wrote a number of books, of which I think 'Baltic Episode' deals with the raid..
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ian Burns Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Oct 2015 at 14:58
Hi Nick,
Yes Agar's Baltic Episode covers his Secret Service trips and the Kronstadt raid, etc. There is also Geoffrey Bennett's Cowans War (later reprinted as Freeing the Baltic).

But neither of them are very informative about the work of the RAF.

Fortunately there are a couple of personal accounts in TNA, but no RAF official records that I have yet been able to locate. The theatre was essentially a naval operation so I suspect the RAF records are in the naval reports of proceedings - which do exist in TNA. Have to get my 'hired gun' to copy them for me.

However, I do have a Finnish contact who is finding interesting stuff in St Petersberg and Moscow archives, as well as TNA and Finland.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NickForder Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Oct 2015 at 16:21
I think that Simon Jones did some work on the use of gas in Russia.

I'll have a search through the Russia stuff I have.

Sidney Reilly is supposed to have had a commission in the RFC, though I've not tried to confirm it. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote KK Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Oct 2015 at 11:42
l can confirm that Reilly was officially in the RFC
So was this raid Fletchers only time in action?If so he did a good job ,worth more than a DFC?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ian Burns Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Oct 2015 at 16:32
KK

All I know about Fletcher at present comes from the Spinks catalogue bio posted by Morris above.

It was a pretty gutsy thing to do on a worn out Short 184... I wonder what his observer thought about it, and who was he and was he awarded? Still looking for that information.

Mind you there are errors in the bio. Agar won his VC for an earlier exploit, only two (only!) VCs were awarded for the Kronstadt raid - plus six or eight DSOs, 15 DSMs, etc, all to CMB officers and ratings.

Apparently (again to be confirmed) Fletcher's was one of two DFCs awarded for the Kronstadt raid.

There is a lot of confusing, and inaccurate, information on the web about the raid. Much of what has been published in book form is either incomplete or inaccurate, or both. Harry Ferguson's recent Operation Kronstadt is probably one of the least reliable sources. Geoffrey Bennett's 1964 book Cowan's War still provides the best coverage, but is incomplete particularly regarding RAF involvement. TNA files now open, but unavailable to Bennett, may provide a more complete story - I hope so.

The Baltic has received much less attention than North and South Russia over the years. There is an excellent book by John T Smith, Gone To Russia To Fight (Amberley, 2010) about the RAF in South Russia. Whilst there are no recent books that I am aware off about the N Russian affair there were a lot of earlier memoirs and chapters in books about that. RAF involvement was relatively minor, though some Fairey and Short floatplanes did operate along the Dvina River. That deserves some research and an Journal article at some stage.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ian Burns Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Oct 2015 at 16:37
My review of Gone to Russia to Fight, posted on LibraryThing:

Once in a while a book comes along that stands out as a new standard on the subject. This is one such book.
Using original documents and contemporary memoirs the author has rewritten the story of British involvement in South Russia during the civil war. In addition to the RAF the author also does a pretty good job of summarising Royal Navy and Tank Corps involvement. The book is well laid out, the principle chapters cover each month in turn, and it is easy to follow events on multiple fronts. The selection of photographs is impressive, only a handful having previously been seen in specialist publications. The photos are well reproduced on quality paper. There are a number of useful maps.
The only reasons I've not given it 5 stars are that the references do not provide the National Archives item numbers for future researchers, and similar information is missing for the photographs, all apparently from Canadian sources. Also, there is no biography of the author - a great pity.
The book was deservedly Aeroplane Monthly's 'Book of the Month' for December 2010.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NickForder Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Oct 2015 at 08:58
I agree with you about 'Gone to Russia To Fight' but, as you say, it is just South Russia. Taffy Jones' 'An Airfighter Scrappy Book' and Collishaw's 'Air Command' cover the same ground.
Robert Jackson's "At War with the Bolsheviks" has a chapter on air power, though it is some time since I read it. 
I may have a copy of the chapter, though I am fairly sure that I read it because I was interested in the W Class destroyer HMS Walker (whose engineering officer got a DSO for running an efficient engine room !) at the time, so may not have copied the aviation bit.
I have the Dobson & Miller 'The Day We Almost Bombed Moscow' which has little of strict relevance. 
'The Iron Maze: Western Intelligence vs the Bolsheviks, by Gordon Shepherd, has a good chapter on Reilly. I would approach 'Reilly: Ace of Spies' with some caution !
I do have a listing of White Russian awards to RAF officers & OR which I will look at transcribing and posting.
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