162 years ago, in April, 1854, one of the brightest historical events of East (Crimean) war of 1853-1856 happened - the story of the British steam-frigate "Tiger".
(About the British steam-frigate "Tiger" - in THE ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS)
On July 13, 1851 "Tiger" was enlisted in the structure of the British Royal Fleet. By tradition, the frigate anchors were decorated with the cast monogram of "H.M.S". (Her Majesty Ship). This fact had a particular meaning, as "Tiger" was considered the Royal yacht and carried out the representative functions of "the court vessel" of the Queen Victoria.
Besides, "Tiger" carried out the functions of the training ship and the sea school - the future officers of the British Fleet (mainly naval cadets and warrant officers from the most aristocratic English families) gained their experience here. And the permanent frigate crew, headed since June 1852 by the Captain Henry Wills Giffard, consisted of the skilled and experienced seamen. And it happened that the whirlwinds of history connected forever the fate of the Captain Giffard with the city of Odessa...
The model track record of the young talented officer was a sample for his colleagues from naval service. In 1827 the young warrant officer Giffard on the flagman ship "Asia" took part in Navarinsky battle in which the Russian and the English squadrons totally crushed the Turkish fleet. Then 27 years of continuous long voyages and colonial wars followed. In 1841 Giffard received the rank of the post-captain that corresponded to the captain of the 2 rank, and a year later he was appointed the Commander of "Tiger". Most likely, the strong will and excellent personal characteristics of Giffard pushed the Naval authorities to appoint the skilled old salt and his ship "The Envoy Of The War". On April 9, 1854 it was "Tiger" who brought in Gallipoli - where the Mediterranean squadron settled down - the Royal envoy with the official note for the Vice-Admiral Dondas: the British Empire declared war to Russia. The Anglo-French squadron, consisting of 19 ships, 10 steam-frigates (among which there was also "Tiger") and several battle-boats, equipped for this purpose, attacked Odessa on April 22, 1854.
On April 22 the first division consisting of frigates of H.M.S. "Descartes", "Sampson", "Vauban" and "Tiger" from a distance of 9 kabelt (less than 1,8 km) opened fire at the coastal batteries which after six-hours' duel were forced to cease fire. In this firefight "Tiger", unlike other vessels, did not receive any injuries.
On a photo - bombing of Odessa by the Anglo-French squadron on April 22, 1854.
However the following campaign in which two more steam-ships had to accompany a frigate (screw-steamer "Niger" under the command of Captain Gis and wheel-steamer "Vesuvius" under the command of Captain Pouell - both of them had smaller speed, than "Tiger") became the last for "Tiger". The most experienced Captain Giffard for some reason made a mistake, having gone far away from maintenance ships.
Having defined position as of 13-00 on April, 29 in ten miles to the North West of the Hersoness lighthouse, the Captain gave the order to follow a course on the island Fidonisi (the island of Snake) and, having passed 60 miles, to turn to the southernmost tip of the Tsaregradsky Dniester Branch. According to calculations, at 21-30 "Tiger" had to be in seventy miles to the South-West from the Tendrovsky lighthouse. At night there was the full calm at the sea, and fog appeared over the water. Therefore it became impossible to be guided neither by stars, nor by the coastline. For six hours the frigate was moving blindly according to the appointed course. When (according to the navigator) "Tiger" already was on approaches to Tendr's island, Giffard ordered to reduce speed and to report regularly on changes of depths. The results of measurements corresponded to sailing directions, therefore the Captain believed that the frigate was in several miles from the Tendrovsky lighthouse. Even at four o'clock in the morning when the lot showed only 10 meters, he kept full calm because he was still sure that the frigate was near Tendr's island. For this reason the Captain of the English vessel ordered to set a new course (the North North West), seeking to move away from dangerous proximity of the coast.
On a photo - a military uniform of the British troops of the period of East (Crimean) war of 1854.
The underkeel clearance was constantly equal to 10 meters, and "Tiger" kept in this direction about half an hour until at a speed of 4 nodes cast aground with its the bottom. At 4:30 in the morning the frigate densely sat down with a stempost between two reefs, and then – and with all body on a rocky seabottom approximately at 300 meters from an abrupt coast. Measurements of depth showed 2,7 m under a stem and 8,5 m under a stern frame. Within three hours the crew tried all possible methods in order to get the ship off: they fulfilled a backward movement running by machine; delivered both bower anchors on boats and tried to pull together with windlasses the ship body off the rocks; threw overboard part of pig-iron ballast, coal reserves, several tools and shells to them; rolled guns from a nose on a stern, trying to change a trim; at last, trying to reduce draft, the sailors put out fire chambers, pitted steam and merged water from both boilers.
Reasonably assuming that the enemy could appear suddenly at any time, Giffard ordered to give bell signal to "Niger" and "Vesuvius". And already in blank despair, seeking whether to establish connection with the maintenance ships, whether to be refloated, he ordered to fire several volleys directly in a water mirror. Without any plausible results. The rocks and stones clasped the iron body of "Tiger" in a dead embrace.
Unusual fuss in the fog drew attention of observers from the Cossack outposts. That night, ashore, near the 8th station of the Big Fountain, opposite to the summer villa of the merchant Kortazzi - where the steam-frigate cast aground - there were Orest Kmit's Cossacks who were on duty and immediately called for a reinforcement. In an eye wink, the second sotnia of Danube Cossack regiment was on the spot. Without wasting time for coordination with the Command, the lieutenant F.I. Abakumov rushed from the settment Lyustdorf, tearing along artilleries with two 12-pound field guns on horse draft. He successfully installed the tools on the high coast and personally went down to a waterborder, trying to make out the target. The steam-ship cast aground in such a way that the majority of the guns which were situated along its boards, could not shoot back at the Russian fire. And though British had an advantage in caliber, their shells either flew through the heads of the gunners who were standing on the steep, or got to a steep slope.
The situation for the frigate was hopeless, and it was confirmed by a transient duel. Already the first shots of Abakumov's guns punched the body from the left board, in two places of the vessel the fires broke out. The crew bravely fought for survivability of the ship, until the rupture of the grenade seriously wounded in both legs the Captain Giffard who was forced to give command to the first lieutenant Alfred Royer. The ship's doctor Domvil amputated the left leg of the Captain which is almost torn off by the explosion … The end to this duel was put by three last volleys of field artillery: they made silent the only gun, capable to shoot back from the frigate. By 10 o'clock in the morning the British sent truce envoys with a request to cease fire - the Royal frigate gave in. On a mast of "Tiger "the Union Jack" was lowered and the Russian colors were dancing in the wind.
The British had already managed to destroy alarm books when the ship was surrounded by the boats with Cossacks, which appeared out of nowhere. This was the Commander of the 3rd company of Odessa battalion of quarantine guards lieutenant Tsigara who mobilized six launches from the Greek vessels and together with one hundred volunteers went "to board" the frigate. Archives kept the names of second lieutenants Belonenko and Zakrevsky, the corporals Stepan Stepchenko and Pavel Grichko, the privates Pyotr Andryushchenko, Vasily Baranyuk, Timofey Bondarchuk, Ivan Grishchuk, Leonti Gorbachenko, Seliverst Dreshukh, Timofey Kalinevsky, Fedor Kurnik, Pavel Polyansky, Nicodemus Fishchenko, Iosif Shulga and the others. During the first flight the “Tiger” jack, which was floating in the sea, and captain's boat became Tsigara's first trophies. The same lieutenant by order of the Major-General Corvin Krasinskiy brought a body of the dead Englishman to Odessa port.
By this time the administration arrived, headed by the governor, the General D.E. Osten-Saken (on a photo)
who confirmed the surrender conditions. Together with the Governor to the place of fight there arrived the Chief of field artillery of the Odessa garrison Major-General Maydel who first of all reprimanded the lieutenant Abakumov for unauthorized leaving of the post entrusted to him in Lyutsdorf settlement. The real hero of morning fight was sent under house arrest, and the other commanders enjoyed the victory. The captured English seamen - the seriously wounded Captain, 24 officers, 201 sailors and the naval cadet - were transported to the coast. 110 rifles, 186 bayonets, 86 broadswords, 3 hatchets and 7 guns withdrawn from "Tiger" were ranked as the trophies.
But they did not manage to remove from the board all the wounded, as "Vesuvius" and "Niger" appeared in sight: they immediately opened fire from long-range large-caliber tools. The fog had been already dissipated. Having adjusted fire and having approached the coast even closer, the English steamships opened fire volleys with tools of the main 36-pound caliber. The killed and the wounded appeared ashore. But hardly the British appeared within the reach of the Russian field batteries, they were answered by eight tools of the 16th artillery crew and four tools of the 10th reserve crew under command of the colonel Goronovich and the captain Verkhovsky respectively. Within two hours the enemies exchanged volleys until the Russians departed on safe distance.
The captains of the British ships saw that there was no chance of refloating "Tiger" and to taking her away. Therefore they decided to destroy her using the artillery. At two o'clock in the afternoon they concentrated fire on their own flagship and destroyed the surface part of the vessel. As a sign of mourning black banners were lifted on "Niger" and "Vesuvius". Having made three farewell volleys in the sea, the English vessels left the place of fight. The fire on a skeleton of "Tiger" raged up to seven o'clock in the evening until in the half-flooded powder room there was an explosion. In the face of numerous eyewitnesses, the frigate "with a terrible roar blew up very effectively" and went to a sea bottom. From memoirs of the first lieutenant of the frigate "Tiger" Alfred Royer who assumed command after wound of the Captain Giffard:
From memoirs of other eyewitnesses:
"The ship was fired by red-hot kernels, and soon we found two seats of fire - one on the central mast, the second - in a very dangerous place. The kernel punched the body at a nose, left ideally round opening in a saloon and became a cause of the fire. Through an opening it was possible to look at the coast, as in a window. The saloon was near a gunpowder warehouse, and it was necessary to do everything possible to warn the beginning of the fire. We sent all whom it was possible on a pomp for fight against fire. Four pomp worked without interruption and managed to bring down a flame. Then three pomp began to fill in a powder warehouse. This work was hard.
At a quarter past ten the kernel from a 24-pound Russian gun exploded near our only tool. The warrant officer John Giffard (the captain's nephew) and three persons serving the tool suffered from the explosion. Besides, the explosion tore off the left leg and wounded in right leg the Captain Henry Giffard who stood at the tool. A splinter broke the telescope which was in hands at the captain, and, besides, the Captain had ten or eleven missile wounds (the regular doctor of the ship Domvil operated the Captain directly on the place of action, and then, already on the land , the treatment was carried out with the help of the junior ship doctor Louless, and Giffard gave hope to recovery, but in three weeks he died in passenger quarter of quarantine).
The unfortunate warrant officer had both legs torn off, he lived only several hours after the amputation which was carried out by the surgeon on board. He died on the way to hospital, already ashore. At the same time "mizen-mars" Treper lost the left leg, the ship's boy Goode - the carrier of gunpowder - got several wounds in a stomach and lived only several days on arrival to the hospital. He continued to battle even after being wounded. And the sailor of the second rank Tanner was wounded by splinters in coxofemoral part of a leg and in the left hand. He recovered, having spent some time in hospital. Subsequently the warrant officer Giffard, "mizen-mars" Treper and the ship's boy Goode were buried on the Quarantine cemetery which was destroyed later. This hit ceased the backfire from the ship. After a while the Russians stopped firing too. The wounded were carried down in weapon room for medical assistance. The Captain, exercising the right, ordered to hoist the Russian colors signaling about the surrender. The third lieutenant was sent to the coast under a white flag for negotiations as the flag on the ship was not visible from the coast because of the fog.
The third lieutenant returned with no results. He could not speak with Russians in English, and he did not know French. Besides – according to the quarantine rules - he could not approach close to the Russians and communicated at the distance. And then I sent to the coast. I went to negotiations with the junior officer. On arrival on the coast my attendant remained in the boat, and I was seen off, escorted by, to the General Osten-Saken. Near the General there were two soldiers and the officer of quarantine with the gun on call. I stood in 30 yards from the General on the steep. I communicated with the General in French and translated our conversation to my subordinate in the boat in English.
The decision on sending truce envoy was a right decision to be made. The General Osten Saken hoisted the Russian flag on our ship as a signal to the vessels accompanying us. I dispelled doubts of the General, having reported that it is a signal to the Russians about our surrender. Osten Saken asked many questions. He asked about quantity of the ship's crew, about arms, about whether our frigate participated in bombing of the city on April 10. On all questions I gave irrefragable answers. The General also took an interest where and why we went, but I evaded the question, having referred to the fact that this information was possessed only by the Captain, and he was seriously injured and on the ship. The General noted the bravery of the Captain, officers and the ship crew and allowed the crew to descend on the coast. He also gave the order to bring wounded to hospital in the shortest possible time. Osten Saken guaranteed inviolability of personal belongings of the crew.
Understanding that it was necessary to hurry, the General demanded to hurry with disembarkation, otherwise he would be forced to open fire on destruction. Osten Saken perfectly understood that the accompanying maintenance ships heard the firefight and were hurrying to the place of the fight. I wrote a pencil note for the crew, having stated the requirements of the Russians. The Russian junior officer pinned it on a tip of a saber and carried to my officer ashore. Requirements of quarantine excluded any contact".
''The Captain Gifford died from a wound. The Russians treated the prisoners very kindly and attentively. Subsequently they were sent in the continental part of Russia''.
"A funeral of the Captain of the steamship frigate "Tiger" Giffard who got severe wounds during the shelling of the ship by field artillery and died in quarantine were really special [...] on May 22nd, (1854) on Saturday, his burial was made, and all appropriate respects under the Army regulations to his rank in the English Fleet were paid to. After the established prayers read by the Odessa reformatory pastor, in passenger quarter of quarantine where the Captain Giffard died, his coffin was transported on a city cemetery on a gun carriage, accompanied by a battalion of infantry and two guns. The prisoners of war - the English officers and sailors - went before the coffin and behind it. At the depositing of a coffin into the grave, the established gun salutes were made. The mister who covered the position of the Novorossiysk and Bessarabia Governor-General, the Odessa military Governor and military generals honored with their presence the burial of the Captain who died from a wound in fight in the distance from the Homeland and who was the commander of the enemy steamship".
From contemporary records it is known that the memorable gravestone to the Captain Giffard was made on request of his widow and with the permission of the authorities by the talented Italian marbleworker Francesco (Francois) Vernett who was living in Odessa. Unfortunately, the destiny of the first city cemetery, as well as the destiny of the quarantine, is sad too. The memorials of both cemeteries were demolished at the beginning of the XX century, after the October revolution.
And today (only thanks to works of the local historian V. I. Smirnov) (on a photo - the memorial inscription rewritten by V. I. Smirnov from a gravestone of the Captain Giffard), we can get acquainted with the destinies of people who found their last shelter there.
Trophy guns were used for the strengthening of Odessa defenses. Eleven of them successfully passed the test by the strengthened charge of gunpowder and were established on the coastal batteries. During one of these tests, one of guns, damaged by the ship fire, went into pieces. Two largest bombing tools were taken to the Central battery at the end of Kanatnaya Street which was built at the private expenses by Luigi Mocco.
But, certainly, the gun on a gun carriage - which was set up on a pedestal on Primorsk boulevard and turned into a historical symbol of Odessa - was the most known artifact from "Tiger". Its majestic outlines still attract attention of the inhabitants of Odessa and city visitors, reminding them of the past events.
A 1918 postcard showing soldiers of the Austro-Hungarian Army resting by the gun from Tiger.
Several artifacts from the died frigate can be seen today at the exposition of the Odessa local History Museum. The director of the museum V. V. Solodova gives special comment on the furnishings removed from the English ship:
(Globe of the terrestrial sphere)
(The chair with a high back, upholstered with skin, which, perphaps, belonged to the Captain Giffard)
(A compass from "Tiger")
The various hand-made articles from the XIX century, made of the fragments of "Tiger", are stored in funds of the Museum. In memoirs literature there are data about "a blotter, boxes for matches, knobs for canes, caskets, etc. with the corresponding inscription. V. V. Solodova absolutely fairly underlines that these souvenirs, "because of a large number of them" raised certain doubts about their authenticity with the contemporaries, but at the same time they were in the increased demand".
Part of these hand-made articles got to the Museum thanks to the efforts of the Count M. M. Tolstoy, the trustee of the Odessa city Public Library. In 1908 in Museum show-windows there were not only the drawings given by M. M. Tolstoy (concerning a siege of Odessa during the Crimean campaign) but also the splinters of bombs and bells, and parts of the blown-up frigate. The fragment of a wooden covering of "Tiger" (16 cm long) is stored in Museum funds, it has a paper sticker: "The present of the Count M.M. Tolstoy. English fregat "Tigr" cast aground near the coast Malago in a foggy weather and was captured by our our troops".
(On a photo - one of versions of marble plates which were established on the Odessa buildings in places of kernels' strikes by the Anglo-French squadron)
It is necessary to evaluate as material evidence about the Odessa bombing and "Tiger" death the works of the artists F. Gross, V. Timm, A. Sukhov - printed in A. Brown, P. Frantsov's lithographs and L. Nitche (Odessa) - as well as E. Lilye, A. Rudnev (Moscow). In the Odessa Museum it is possible to see Gross's lithographs with the expressive names "Capture of the English Steamship "Tiger" on April 30, 1854.", "Reflection of Two English Steamships Which Came to the Rescue to the Surrendered Steamship-Frigate "Tiger", on April 30, 1854.", "Explosion of the Cast-Aground English Steamship-Frigate "Tiger" in a View of The Other Two Beaten-off Steamships near the Farm Kortatsi, on April 30, 1854 ".
On a photo - a view from the place of events today
The fragments of the frigate became a peculiar memorial artifacts as well, though, of course, we cannot speak about any integrity or safety of the objects. At first the sailors - in every possible way - tried to get the cast-aground vessel off the rocks, without thinking of such a trifle as safety of the ship bottom; then for several hours she was fired at by the Russian and British guns; the fire raged on the fregate for several hours, then there was the explosion in the ship’s powder room; the vessel sank, but at the first opportunity the sunk skeleton was surveyed, the steam-engine, guns and everything that represented even the slightest value, was lifted ashore. For many years the locals used the ship body’s tree for production of the souvenirs. Let's add to it more than one and a half centuries' time, autumn storms and a freeze-up which mercilessly crumbled everything that remained from a wreck - the depth was only four meters!
Over time the coastal landscape changed very much. Directly opposite to the wreck there are high concrete breakwaters were built - they are separating an artificial lagoon from the sea - consequently, the yacht-club was built there.
Today the fragments of "Tiger" have more symbolical and sentimental value, than a real material one. On a seabed in the place of crash of the vessel, the parts of a ship can be still found. They are presented, mainly, by the fragments of a keel bar. Around it one can find the heavy objects which once were the freight of the fighting ship: kernels, a case-shot, nails. Heroic and tragic events of those years still excite the imagination of divers and hisotry fans.
And by the way, in the Southern Palmyra there is still a legend that football history of the city began with stay of the captured English seamen in Odessa...Dmitry Voloshenkov, "Vector news"Literature:
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