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8 Sep, 2007 20:16

Scotland perpetuates memory of Russian warship

A monument to a legendary Russian warship, the ‘Varyag’, has been unveiled in Scotland near the village of Lendalfoot. The cruiser ‘Varyag’ fought in the Russian-Japanese War of 1904-1905. The heroism of the ship's crew is part of Russian military history.

A memorial cross was erected not far from Lendalfoot to commemorate the feat of the ‘Varyag’ crew.

In one of the first actions of that war, the ‘Varyag’, accompanied by a small gunboat, sailed out to meet a Japanese squadron consisting of one armoured cruiser, five protected cruisers and eight destroyers.

Faced with overwhelming enemy fire, the Russians chose to scuttle the ship, rather than surrender.

The ‘Varyag’ was recovered by the Japanese and later returned to the Russians during World War One when the two countries were allies. But when Imperial Russia came to an end, the cruiser was seized by the British and sold to Germany for scrap.

Then in 1920, while being towed to Germany, the ‘Varyag’ ran aground near the Scottish coastal village of Lendalfoot and sank.

“I think it is an amazing, interesting, complicated story. I know how important those elements are, because by uniting our past we can see how important it is to unite our future as well,” believes George Robertson, former NATO Secretary General.

Royal Navy officers and men, as well as the crew of the Russian anti-submarine vessel ‘Severomorsk’ which specially sailed to Scotland for the occasion, attended the ceremony.

“I think there hasn’t been any other ship like that in the world’s naval history. The crew chose to fight despite the fact that there were 14 Japanese ships against them. Battered but not beaten, they decided to sink the ship rather than surrender. That is an example of heroism, courage and bravery for every sailor,” commented Northern Fleet Admiral Aleksandr Shuvanov.

It is the first monument to Russian military glory in the UK, and the locals are proud to have it there. They say they will remember the day of the monument’s unveiling and hope that people will continue coming there to pay tribute to the ‘Varyag’, its crew and many others who served in the navy.