As Australia prepares for war with Russia
In the nineteenth century in Australia they built forts and armed men to protect the country from the Russian invasion. Today it is difficult to believe that such a thing could happen.
The first Australian shores saw the Russian ship June 16, 1807, when the sloop "Neva" entered the Gulf of Port Jackson near Sydney, capital of New South Wales. Since then, the Russian ships regularly came into Australian ports for resupply of food and drinking water.
The Russian explorer Mikhail Lazarev was the first brought to Australia the news of the humiliating position in which turned out to Napoleon after the defeat in the 1812 war. However, because of the exaggerated and fictional stories, popular Australian journalists, for nearly a century, the continent lived in constant fear of a Russian invasion.
The origin of paranoia
The first quarter of the XIX century was a period when there were close ties between Russia and its American colonies. Russian merchant vessels and warships often got up at anchor off the coast of Australia, to buy food and rest to the crew. Australia at that time was still a British colony. United Kingdom and the Russian Empire was never formally been allies in the war against Napoleon, however, when the Russian occupied Paris in 1814, a long-standing British concerns about the combat power of the Navy of the Russian Empire dramatically increased. Meanwhile, Russian ships became familiar guests in Australian ports, and colonial authorities reported his fears in London.
In 1841, the NSW Government to build a fort in Pinchgute. It was followed by fortified sites in Queenscliff, Portsoy, on the islands of Mud in Melbourne Port Phillip bay, as well as in Hobart. During the goodwill visit of the Russian Pacific Squadron flagship "Bogatyr" in Sydney and Melbourne around 8000 Australians were allowed to get on board to allay fears and convince the people that the visit of Russian ships are entirely peaceful. Russian Pacific Fleet Commander Rear Admiral Andrei Popov an official visit to the Governor of New South Wales and Victoria, and then they, in turn, also visited the Russian ship.
Meanwhile, Australian newspapers reported that the approach of "Heroes" to Melbourne was almost imperceptible, thereby increasing concern about the vulnerability of the Australian shores in society. Anti-Russian sentiment continued to escalate. In 1864, the British "The London Times" said that the colonies are on the threshold of the Russian invasion, and Australian newspapers have begun to actively distribute and exaggerate this obvious lie.
When in May 1870 the Russian corvette "Boyar" appeared at the mouth of the Derwent River, in the country there were rumors that he is the vanguard of the invasion. Russian naval officers did their best to dispel this nonsense. The newspaper "The Mercury", which was published in Hobart, reported May 30, 1870: "The Russian Imperial corvette" Boyar "was opened yesterday afternoon to visit the general public, of which about 2 thousand people took advantage of this unique opportunity to examine the device and the equipment of a foreign warship. Visitors were given free access to all the compartments of the vessel, from the captain's cabin to anchor, while the guns were placed Gunners, who explained the secrets of their construction uninitiated visitors ... It gives us great pleasure to announce that the officers and men "Boyar" were very pleased to provide them with reception ... ". The Mercury also noted that the officers were very gallant, and spoke three languages, including English and French.
Australian newspapers with articles about the visit of the Russian ship
Why "Boyar" entered the port of Hobart? The fact that the second mate Gregory Bellavin seriously ill and need urgent medical attention. Bellavin later died already on the land. He was buried in Hobart due to the ship's crew, and then "Boyar left", and at the time of departure of the Australian state orchestra played the Russian national anthem, and Russian musicians on board in response played "God Save the Queen." Thus, people get along well, but the journalists continued their dirty work.
The sick imagination
However, it should be recognized that the Australian defense in those years was really weak. One day when in 1862 the Russian ship "Svetlana" was included in the Melbourne Port Phillip Bay and made a full ceremonial gun salute - Fort answered. The fact that they did not have gunpowder.
Britain saw the victory of Russian coalition in the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878 and the threat of further attack on India, and therefore the Australian colonies were urged to reconsider its military potential. By 1879, Australia has built its first two warships. When in 1882 near Melbourne three Russian ships were seen under Admiral Aslanbegova, local newspaper once reported that he had come to attack the Australian merchant fleet.
Admiral Angered even threatened to sue local newspaper The Age. John Woodhouse, British Secretary of State for the Colonies, had to wire the Australian government to assure the authorities that relations between Russia and Britain is absolutely peaceful. Nevertheless, the new Fort Scratchley in Newcastle was built in 1885, the State of New South Wales. In 1888, Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich, a member of the Russian imperial family, arrived in Australia. It is not known for certain whether it was intentionally or accidentally, that his visit coincided with the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the colony. It said that bronepalubny corvette "Rynda", which sailed the Grand Duke, anchored only in order to replenish stocks of coal. First, the ship went to Newcastle and then in Sydney. But the visit was not a formal one - the Grand Duke was invited as a special guest of Lord Carrington, Governor of New South Wales. Nevertheless, the media once again made it the center of all events.
Russian and Australians did their best to make a good impression on each other, and all were satisfied. Corvette "Rynda" stayed in Australian waters for nearly three months. But after his departure, journalists were again calling for restricting access of foreign military vessels in the port of Melbourne.
"It is desirable to send a cruiser"
In 1890, Russia decided that relations with Australia are important enough for it to appoint a permanent representative there, and in 1893 Alex Putyata was sent to Melbourne. Putyata previously served as a Russian diplomat in the Balkans. One Bulgarian gentleman told me that Putyata has "a rare ability - he can charm people subtlety of their manners and politeness." So Putyata did his best to dispel the anti-Russian sentiment in Australia. He gave a long interview with The Age, which was the main distributor of militaristic rumors directed against Russia.
Finally, when the Australian Parliament was due to open in 1901, the United Kingdom announced that the Duke and Duchess of York, who later became George V and Queen Mary, will visit Melbourne. Russian Emperor Nicholas II found it necessary from reasons of diplomatic etiquette to send a ship to Australia. "It is desirable to send a cruiser," - wrote Nicholas to his Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The order has been executed, and the large ocean armored cruiser named "Thunderbolt" has gone to the coast of Australia. May 9, 1901 the Russian consul Nikolay Passek was guest of honor at the opening ceremony of the Australian Parliament. The Duke of York visited "Stormbreaker" and familiarized with its device. The future king even begged his cousin Nicholas II's permission to accompany him to the cruiser Sydney. Of course, permission was granted.
Thus, in the late XIX century, Russia and Australia, finally came to a rapprochement and established friendly relations at the highest level. During the First World War, Australia, as a British colony, was an ally of Russia. Unfortunately, it was the last period of friendship between the two countries before the spy war that began in the twentieth century, but that's another story.