F.F. Raskolnikov

Tales of Sub-Lieutenant Ilyin

A prisoner of the British


In Petrograd in December 1918 a persistent rumour circulated to the effect that some ships of the British navy had entered the Gulf of Finland. It was seriously alleged that a British naval squadron had arrived at Reval. However, since philistine tittle-tattle exceeded all bounds in those days, one had to treat every sensational story with the greatest caution.[1]

Nobody knew for certain what the situation was. The Baltic Fleet command despatched submarines on several occasions to try and enter Reval harbour and make a thorough reconnaissance, but the poor technical condition of these vessels prevented them from fulfilling this assignment. Owing to defects in their mechanisms the submarines returned without completing their task. The reconnaissance mission of the submarine Tur commanded by Nikolai Aleksandrovich Kol also failed to get results. [The sentence about the submarine Tur is omitted in the 1964 edition.]

Then, one day, our wireless station intercepted some British messages asking for pilots to be sent from Reval: as, however, these messages were sent in clear, nobody ascribed any importance to them. They were interpreted as one of the usual tricks by the ‘Allies’ aimed at frightening our fleet and keeping it in Kronstadt harbour.

The German revolution which broke out on November 9 had resulted in the All-Russia Central Executive Committee annulling the peace treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Narva and Pskov had been taken by the Red Army. Only feeble resistance was put up by the German soldiers, and our men had had, in the main, to overcome units composed of Russian White-Guard officers.[2]

The Revolutionary War Council of the Republic decided to carry out a reconnaissance in depth to ascertain the strength of the British fleet in the Gulf of Finland. As a member of the Revolutionary War Council of the Republic I was appointed to take command of a special task-force. The day before our expedition, in the evening of December 24, a conference was held in the office of the commander of the Baltic Fleet, under the gilded spire of the Admiralty, to work out the plan for this operation. Present were V. M. Altvater, [3] Baltic Fleet Commander Zarubayev, his chief of staff Weiss, operations chief S.P. Blinov and myself. Owing to the technical state of the ships, which were undergoing winter repairs, the Baltic Fleet command could assign only a small force for this operation. The battleship Andrei Pervovanny, the cruiser Oleg and three destroyers of the Novi/c class, Spartak (formerly Miklukho-Maklay), Autroil and Aar were all the vessels placed at my disposal. As we did not know the size of the British fleet which had penetrated into Baltic waters, we could not undertake to destroy the enemy completely. The participants in the conference at the Admiralty were united in concluding that my expedition could be ordered to carry out no more than a reconnaissance in depth, which might end in a fight to destroy the enemy only if it became clear that we possessed definite superiority over the British forces. On Comrade Altvater’s initiative we unanimously adopted the following operational plan: Andrei Pervozuanny, under Zagulyaev’s command, would remain in the rear, near the Shepelevsky Light fairly close to Kronstadt; the cruiser Oleg, under Saltanov’s command, would advance to Hogland [Hogland is now usually shown on maps under its Finnish name, Suursaari.] Island; the two destroyers Spartak and Avtroil would penetrate Reval harbour, in order to discover how many British ships were there, and would open fire on Nargen and Wulflslands, [Nargen and WuIf are now usually shown on maps under their Estonian names, Naissaar and Aegna.] so as to find out whether there were any batteries on these islands. If they encountered superior forces, the destroyers were to withdraw to Hogland, under the protection of Oleg’s heavy guns, and in the event that this protection proved inadequate, all three vessels were to retreat eastward, to Kronstadt, luring the enemy toward the Shepelevsky Light where the 12-inch guns of Andrei Peroozvanny would be waiting for him. The conference thus laid the entire risk of the operation on the destroyers—which in case of danger, possessed the inestimable advantage of being able to make a speed of 30 knots.[4]

Early in the morning of December 25 Altvater, Zarubayev and I travelled in a cold, unheated carriage to Oranienbaum,[Oranienbaum is now called Lomonosov.] where we transferred to an icebreaker bound for Kronstadt. During the journey we talked about the forthcoming operation.

‘Be particularly careful of the British light cruisers, which are armed with 6-inch guns and can do 35 knots,’ was the advice given to me by Vasily Mikhailovich Altvater. When we reached Kronstadt we found the ships which had been detailed for our expedition fully and ready to set out—except for the destroyer Avtroil. Something amiss had been discovered in her engine, and this meant that several more hours would be needed before she was ready for combat. We decided not to put off our departure, and arranged that Autroil, after completing preparations as soon as possible, should quickly catch us up and join our squadron. Altvater and Zarubayev came on board the destroyer Spartak (on which I raised my flag) in order to say goodbye to me: final handshakes, advice, good wishes

Kronstadt was completely enclosed by ice. Spartak’s commander, Pavlinov, skilfully saw to the weighing of our anchor, and at last we quietly got under way. Led by a powerful icebreaker, we cut a path through the dense, rustling masses of ice which thrust at us from every direction, amidst huge floes, breaking up with loud cracks, which banged against the thin, pliant sides of our destroyer. The din made it disagreeable to stay in one’s cabin. Accompanied by my assistant for operations, Nikolai Nikolayevich Struisky, I went up on to the bridge. There was a hard frost. Westward, the edge of the icefield showed black, and a strip of dark-grey water gleamed. As we drew closer, this strip widened. At last the gnashing of the ice stopped: we had emerged into the open sea, free from ice-cover. The icebreaker which had escorted us sailed back, puffing thick smoke, towards Red Kronstadt. At the Shepelevsky light we parted from Andrei.

Suddenly Azard semaphored that she had not taken on enough fuel.[5] With a heavy heart I had to send her back to Kronstadt to put this right. Only in the conditions of disorder that prevailed in 1918 could such scandalous errors occur.[The sentence about 1918 conditions is omitted in the 1936 edition.] Shortly before sunset we encountered the submarine Pantera, in the open waters of the Gulf. I ordered her to come alongside. To my question about the results of his reconnaissance the commander of Pantera curtly replied that no smoke whatsoever had been observed in Reval harbour.[6]

Darkness soon fell, and the early December evening set in. Sailing with lights extinguished, we tried not to lose sight of Oleg. Suddenly, far off on our starboard bow, a faint light gleamed. We stared at it, and by its regular coming on and going off we recognised the flickering beam of a lighthouse. Soon another lighthouse came into view ahead of us. We almost shouted ‘Hurrah!’ Lighthouses were shining brightly on the Finnish islands Seiskari and Lavansaari, as though for our convenience. This illumination greatly eased our difficult task of navigation among the islands, sandbanks and submerged rocks of the Gulf of Finland. Late that evening we reached the island of Hogland, rocky and covered with coniferous forest. We sailed all round it and looked into all its inlets, but found nothing suspicious, and decided to spend the night under its shelter, dropping anchor on the eastern shore. After posting the watch, the commanding staff of the destroyer went below. We sat for a long time, drinking tea and talking, in the cosy wardroom, which was lit by electric lamps and had a big diningtable in the middle and a black, lacquered piano in one corner. With me were the modest and reserved commander, Pavlinov, the cheerful navigator Zybin, who had an inexhaustible fund of anecdotes, the self-contained gunner Vedernikov, the engineer Neumann, who was always dissatisfied with something, and the shrewd, sociable and buoyant Struisky. Our talk ‘went on long after midnight’, as bourgeois reporters write.[The adjective ‘bourgeois’ is omitted in the 1936 edition.] At last we broke up and retired to bed in our cabins. After spending a quiet night in the shelter of Hogland, when dawn came we assiduously swept the horizon with our binoculars, in every direction, impatient to spot Autroil, which was late injoining us. But in vain. The weather continued clear and visibility was good, but no smoke could be seen anywhere.

Then a coded message arrived from Kronstadt, to tell us that Avtroil was not yet ready to leave. Her technical hitch had proved to be considerably more serious than could have been supposed. We could not wait for her. We had not the slightest confidence that she would be ready to join us even next day. By my order the destroyer Sparta/t weighed anchor and set off alone on our reconnaissance mission, while the cruiser Oleg, commanded by the naval officer Saltanov, remained where she had spent the night. Struisky, Pavlinov and I went up on to the bridge.

It was a clear and cloudless winter day. The sun shone brightly, but its cold, unwarming rays were unable to abate the frost. A sharp, piercing, icy wind blew, making us who were standing on the bridge shiver, turn up our collars and rub our ears. I was wearing a leatherjacket lined with fur, but even so I was chilled to the marrow. The sea was calm, with the absolute stillness that often prevails in these latitudes at the end of December.


Not far from Reval smoke appeared on the horizon. We put on speed, hastening towards it, and could soon make out the silhouette of a small merchant vessel.

As we drew nearer we saw that the ship was sailing under the Finnish flag. At that time we had no diplomatic relations with Finland. We made the ship heave to, searched it, and found that it was carrying a cargo of paper destined for Estonia. In view of the crisis in paper supplies at home, this was a valuable prize. A couple of sailors from Spartak were transferred to the captured vessel and ordered to take this trophy back to Kronstadt, while we continued our voyage. Soon we had Wulf Island on our beam. If we were to discover how many ships lay in Reval harbour we had to go past Wuif. To ensure the security of this enterprise, however, it was necessary to find out whether there were batteries on the island. In Tsarist times there had been 12-inch batteries on Wulf and Nargen, but in 1918, during the German offensive, our retreating troops had removed these guns. In the circumstances of a hasty withdrawal however, the odd gun might have been left behind, and others might have since been replaced. Also, while they were occupying the island, the Germans might have erected new fortifications. So as to flush out any batteries that could be there, we opened fire on Wuif with our 100-millimetre guns. Our challenge remained unanswered. Evidently there was no artillery on Wuif. This gave us fresh courage, and we continued our bold reconnaissance with enthusiasm. But hardly had we arrived in line with Reval Bay than a column of smoke appeared in the depths of the harbour, then another, then a third, fourth and fifth. Five ominous columns of smoke were moving towards us at lightning speed. Soon we could discern the sharp outlines of warships. As we gazed they grew larger with fantastic speed, the distance between us shrinking rapidly. As soon as we perceived the smoke on the horizon we had made a 180-degree turn and were now going full speed back towards Kronstadt.

It was not long before we were able to make out without difficulty that our pursuers were five British light cruisers, armed with 6-inch guns and capable of a speed exceeding 30 knots. We at once sent a wireless message to Oleg:describirig the situation and calling for support.[7]

When the gap between us and the enemy had narrowed to the range of gunfire the British were the first to attack. We answered with salvoes from all our guns except the one at the bow, which could not be brought into action because it could not be swug round far enough to fire a shell at the British ships that were overtaking us. This emergency revealed that our destroyer was in a very bad way. Our ranging was so poor that we were unable to see where our own shells were falling. However, the British fired no better, once again confirming their old-established reputation as good navigators but poor gunners.

Seeing that things were in a bad way, that the enemy’s considerably superior ships were actually overtaking us, we put both turbines on full speed. The engineers and stokers worked with a will. Although when the destroyer made its test-run after leaving the factory it had achieved a maximum speed of 28 knots, now, under the threat of mortal danger, its mechanism strained hard and produced the unprecedented speed of 32 knots. Our hearts at once felt lighter when we noticed that the distance between us and the enemy vessels was not decreasing.

This meant that we had a chance to get back to Kronstadt from this risky mission of ours, bringing valuable intelligence regarding the strength of the British fleet. Then a stray shell, after flying low over the bridge, splashed into the water near to us. It slightly stunned Comrade Struisky, and the powerful blast crumpled, tore and rendered useless the chart by which we were sailing. This momentarily disorganised our navigation. The helmsman began continually turning his head, not looking ahead so much as checking on where the enemy shells were falling.[8]

All at once there was a deafening crack. Our destroyer was thrown sharply upward, it vibrated and then suddenly stopped still. We had run on to a submerged reef and all the blades of our screws had been smashed. Behind us a tall spar-buoy stuck up, indicating this dangerous spot.

‘Why, this is the notorious Divel Shoal, I know it well. It’s shown on every chart. What a stupid thing to happen!’ exclaimed Struisky bitterly, in genuine distress.

Seeing the hopeless position our destroyer was in, I sent Oleg a message ordering her to get back to Kronstadt.

The British sailors told us later that their admiral,[Admiral Sinclair was not present. The British force was commanded by Captain B.S. Thesiger (later Admiral Sir Bertram Thesiger) in Calypso.] who was in the leading destroyer, had already given the signal to withdraw: having driven us away from Reval he considered his mission accomplished. When, however, they saw the accident we had suffered, the British ships continued to approach us, not interrupting their gunfire for a single moment. They did not score any hits, even though they were firing at us almost point-blank. Seated on the submerged rocks, our destroyer kept on firing back from the gun at the stern, but was unable to inflict any damage on the enemy. When they perceived what a hopeless position we were in, the British squadron themselves ceased fire, having decided to take the destroyer alive, so to speak. I ordered that our ship be scuttled, but my order was not carried out. Engineer Neumann reported that the sea-cocks would not function. Soon we were surrounded by the British cruisers and they were launching boats to come and board us.

Members of Spartak’s crew took me to their quarters and dressed me in a sailor’s pea-jacket and quilted coat. Assuring me that they would never betray me, they hastily thrust into my hand the first identity-card they could find belonging to a sailor who had remained ashore. I was transformed into an Estonian from Fellinn district. Since I did not speak Estonian, this was extremely unfortunate, but there was no time to think about that. The destroyer’s cook, Comrade Zhukovsky, took charge of my watch.

Before we could look round, British sailors had boarded our destroyer. With the agility of wildcats they rushed into cabins and other living quarters and in the most insolent, cynical and shameless way, proceeded before our very eyes to grab everything they could lay hands on. Then they took us over to-their own destroyer. As I sat in the launch I read on their cap-bands the inscription: Wakeful. I was struck by their educated-looking faces, their well-cared-for complexions and bright-red cheeks, and at first took these robbers for cadets. However, it turned out that they were ordinary sailors. When we reached Wakeful, they put us in the afterhold and gave us ship’s biscuits and strong tea. At school I, like everyone else, had learnt languages badly and could only just make out the meaning of spoken English. Nevertheless, I was able to understand quite a lot that I heard. The sailors who brought us our food told us about the British landing at Riga.[Admiral Sinclair in Cardiff, landed a small naval force at Riga, then under attack by the Red Army, on December 18. Riga fell to the Red Army on January 3, 1919.] In transports of chauvinism, at the defeat of Germany: ‘Germany is finished. The German fleet is in British ports.’


Next morning, Wakeful, which had become our floating prison, suddenly upped anchor and set off at speed. Pressing my face to the porthole, I tried in vain to make out where the ship was heading.

‘Kunda Bay’ was the reply morosely given to my question by the British sailor, armed with a rifle, who guarded us. I knew that Kunda Bay was to the east of Reval. ‘In all probability they are taking us to some out-of-the-way spot in order to shoot us there,’ was the thought that flashed through my mind.

Then, from above our heads, there was a sudden, deafening sound of gunfire, and after it that soft noise made by the compression of the recoil-absorber which always follows the firing of a gun. There could be no doubt about it: the shot had been fired from the destroyer in which we were held captive. We eagerly rushed to the portholes, but we were so far down in the hold that the field of vision from any of these portholes was small. We could not see anything except the other British destroyers which were sailing near us. The firing ceased as suddenly as it had started. The engine also suddenly stopped. There was a strange silence. The destroyer Wakeful had come to a halt. We were taken up to the top deck for exercise. A sad spectacle met our eyes. Right next to us lay the destroyer Avtroil, with her topmast awry. She had just been taken by the British, but the red flag still flew over her. The British squadron had come round her from behind and, cutting her off from Kronstadt, had driven her westward, into the open sea. The British commander had ordered us to be let out for exercise at the very moment when Avtroil surrendered, so as to wound our revolutionary self-esteem and mock this defeat suffered by the Red Navy. I hastened to cut short our exercise and return to the hold, to the one room in which twenty of the prisoners were kept. The remaining members of Spartak ‘s crew were being held in other ships. The commanding staff had been taken ashore. My companions in misfortune, the sailors of Spartak, kept their spirits up remarkably well, looking with courage into the face of death. We were all convinced that the British were going to shoot us.[9]


On the morning of December 28 we were summoned to go on deck. Next to the hold there was a tiny compartment containing the steering-gear. To save me from possible identification the sailors advised me not to go up but to hide in this place. However, I was not able to remain there for long. A British sailor soon found me and took me to the top deck.[According to Captain Thesiger, quoted in Bennett, op.cit., Raskolnikov was found ‘hidden under twelve bags of potatoes’.] Our Sparta men were lined up on the port side of the quarter deck. The British, together with some White Guards, were making an intensive search for me. To all their questions the Spartak sailors replied that, before the destroyer left Kronstadt they had indeed been visited by Raskolnikov, but he had then gone ashore and had not taken part in the expedition. Not satisfied, however, with this explanation, the British persisted with their investigation, evidently possessing definite intelligence that I was on board Spartak.

When I arrived on the top deck I was made to stand to attention on the left flank of Spartak’s crew. In addition to the British there were some White Guards darting about. They took my identity card from me, and, seeing that, according to this document, I was an Estonian from Fellinn district, a sailor who looked like a boatswain came up to me and began talking in Estonian. I was at once shown up as not knowing that language. To cover myself, I lied, saying that I had long been Russified and had quite forgotten my mother-tongue. At that moment a group of White-Guard officers appeared on the quarterdeck. Among them I at once recognised the tall, lanky figure of a man who had graduated with me from the naval cadet classes—ex-Sub- lieutenant Fest. By origin Oskar Fest belonged to the Baltic-German nobility. Along with a number of other White-Guard-minded officers, he had remained behind in Reval after the withdrawal of the Red military and naval forces. Fest was the only one of these officers who was wearing civilian clothes. He had on an elegant, brand-new suit, with a dark-bluejacket and carefully-pressed trousers. Despite the frosty day, he was without overcoat or hat. Evidently he had just emerged from the wardroom.

Positioning himself opposite us, on the starboard side, Fest looked slowly along the whole line until he fixed me with his wide-open blue eyes. His long face became even ruddier than usual. He nodded in my direction, named me, and said something to his White-Guard companions. I was at once separated from the rest of the crew, taken to a small cabin, stripped naked, and subjected to a thorough search. Into this cabin suddenly burst a White-Guard wearing a naval officer’s uniform. He took a quick look at me and then, choking with joyful excitement, exclaimed loudly to the British sailors who were searching me: ‘He is the very man!’ Evidently he knew me by sight. When he noticed my sailor’s pea-jacket, humble underwear and socks with holes in them, he said, mockingly: ‘How you’re dressed! And you the Minister of the Navy!’ The fact that this White-Guard was allowed free access to me, and his venemous hostility, strengthened still further my conviction that I was certainly going to be shot.


After I had been searched I was taken on deck and made to descend the ladder into a motor-launch. Red-cheeked British sailors, grasping rifles with fixed bayonets, silently escorted me. A mechanic swung a crank-handle vigorously and started the engine, which, after a few splutters, at last shrieked loudly and snorted with the metallic knocking of its pistons. The launch drew slowly and carefully away from the destroyer and then, gaining speed, began to move very fast. I was quite sure that they were taking me to uninhabited and wooded Nargen Island, where it would be convenient for them to shoot me. At such moments religious people begin to say their prayers. As an atheist, my thoughts were that it would not be such a terrible thing to die for my Communist beliefs, for my faith in the righteousness of the cause of the world proletarian revolution.[The word ‘world’ is omitted from ‘world proletarian revolution’ in the 1964 edition.] The only thing that exasperated me was the lengthy time of preparation. Once I was reconciled to the idea that I must inevitably be shot, I wanted the fatal moment to come as quickly as possible. To my amazement, however, the motorlaunch made a sharp turn and came round the stern of a light cruiser on whose side I read, in large letters, the name Calypso, and then, quickly slackening speed, drew up near the port-side ladder. The admiral’s flag flew from the mast: this was the flagship of the British squadron, the light cruiser Calypso. The British sailors who were escorting me pointed to the vessel, and called it ‘C’ypso’. Aboard this light cruiser I was put into a tiny cabin in which I could only stand and was barely able to turn round—it was impossible either to sit or to lie down. After I had spent some time in this cell I was led to the admiral’s quarters. The admiral sat behind a desk: in a visitor’s armchair facing him sat ex-Sub-Lieutenant Fest. Without asking me to sit down, the admiral put the usual questions about my name. I identified myself. Nothing else happened apart from this formality. After quietly discussing something with Fest, the admiral ordered the sailors to take me away. I was put into a narrow steam-pipe compartment situated at the ship’s side. There was no porthole. Electric lamps burned there day and night. It was warm and stuffy from the hot pipes. On the floor, instead of a bed, lay a broad plank. A sliding grille, like those in foreign prisons, served as a door. Apparently I was in the place where sailors were imprisoned. Beside the grille stood a sentry armed with a rifle. This sailor struck me as a not very agreeable fellow. Bored with standing on guard, he began to amuse himself by pointing his rifle at me, closing his left eye, and pressing on the trigger with the index finger of his right hand. I knew that a sentry posted to guard me would not dare to shoot me on the ship itself, so I felt safe. All the same, thesejokes were not to my taste. After sharing with me his joy at the defeat of Germany and the liquidation of her navy, the sentry again took aim with his rifle, but this time not at me. ‘Lenin,’ he barked, imitating the sound of a shot, and then with a sharp movement lowered his rifle. I turned away in disgust and withdrew to the back corner of my floating cell. Then suddenly I heard the knocking of the engines and from the slight, rhythmic shuddering of the hull I realised that the destroyer was weighing anchor. ‘Evidently the British have found it inconvenient to dispose of me in Reval, a working-class centre, and have decided to shoot me in some more deserted place,’ I thought.

At noon they brought to me, for lunch, some strong British tea, without milk or sugar, a few army biscuits and some tinned food. The tin had been opened, and on the label I read, in English, ‘Rabbit-meat’. Never in my life had I eaten rabbit and, as always with any unfamiliar dish, I approached this tinned rabbit-meat with a certain prejudice. To my surprise, however, rabbit turned out to taste like chicken.

I saw none of the British officers. Not one of them favoured me with a visit. Only some mechanic, who looked like a re engaged fleet- conductor,[A fleet-conductor’ in the Imperial Navy was something like a chief petty-officer—a petty-officer who had passed examinations in technical subjects and took over gunnery or torpedo duties] came to see me, bringing a sheet of paper, and asked me to write something for him as a souvenir. I readily wrote down some revolutionary verses that I had committed to memory.

Owing to the absence of portholes I could not tell the difference between day and night. I had no watch with me. Judging by the duration of the voyage, however, it must already be evening. I felt like sleeping, and so lay down on the plank.

The light cruiser was going at full speed. An engine was knocking softly and rhythmically somewhere far away. Lulled by the slight trembling of the vessel, I soon fell asleep. When morning came they again brought me tea and biscuits. Then, at last, the engine stopped and the vessel came to a halt. After some time I was taken on deck. I saw that the light cruiser was lying near the shore, in a deserted, wooded locality, thickly covered with snow. In the distance I could make out some single-storey, red-brick, barrack-like buildings. From the deck of the destroyer I was led across a gangplank on to the deck of a passenger-ship that lay alongside. I was ordered to climb down a ladder into the hold of this vessel and lodged in a cabin on the port side. There was a porthole in this cabin. I immediately rushed to it and eagerly pressed my face to the cold glass. But I could see nothing except woods covered with dense snow. Later I heard footsteps: there was a solitary passenger walking about in the adjoining cabin.


When dusk fell, the ship weighed anchor and left the harbour. Looking through the port-hole, I saw that we were sailing past a long pier, on the end of which was a winking light. To this day I do not know the name of that harbour, but if I were ever to find myself there I should recognise it at once, so distinctly are those fleeting impressions engraved in my memory. After passing the pier, the ship turned sharply to port. When I asked where it was heading for my escort did not answer. I began to suspect that I was being taken to Britain. My cabin was separated from my neighbour’s only by a thin partition, through which could be heard monotonous, melancholy footsteps and a wheezy cough. My neighbour proved to be a sailor named Nynyuk, the commissar of the destroyer Avtroil, a Ukrainian from Volhynia. We spent several days on that ship. It was there that we entered the year 1919. We were not given any books or newspapers. My only diversion was the porthole, at which I spent hours.

Nearly all the time, the ship sailed along a hilly shore which was covered, here and there, with a little snow. From the sun I made out that the ship’s course lay westward: the further west we went, the less snow lay on the shore. Although I got no rabbit-meat on this ship, the diet was both better and more plentiful than it had been on the warship. When I knocked at the door, the man in charge of me would come and escort me to the heads. One day, when I woke up, the ship was at anchor. The field of vision available from my cabin down in the hold did not enable me to discover where we had stopped. So I knocked at the door and, accompanied by my escort, went up to the heads: from the porthole there I beheld the panorama of a big city. A forest of factory chimneys, gigantic steam cranes, and, rising above the roofs of innumerable houses, the greenish dome of a big cathedral. From photographs I had seen I recognised the style of this city and guessed that it must be Copenhagen. With a nod my gloomy warder confirmed my supposition.

Soon after this I was summoned on deck, and from there I saw a whole roadstead full of ships both naval and mercantile: not far away lay an entire squadron of destroyers under the multicoloured British flag. By motor-launch I was transferred to the British flagship, the destroyer Cardiff, where I was lodged in another stuffy steam-pipe compartment. Comrade Nynyuk was kept strictly separated from me.

The destroyer soon weighed anchor. When I was taken to the top deck for exercise I saw that behind Cardiff were sailing, in strict line ahead, several destroyers of the same type.[Admiral Sinclair’s flagship took refugees from Riga to Copenhagen and there met the other ships of his squadron, from Reval. They all sailed in company to reach Rosyth on January 10.] A whole flotilla was engaged in this cruise. Our voyage across the North Sea was fairly stormy. The destroyer tossed on the waves like the float when an impatient fisherman fitfully tugs on his taut line. Being used to pitching and tossing from my service in the navy, I did not suffer from seasickness. The British sailors rode the storm splendidly and ran about the deck, as it rose beneath them, as gracefully as cats. As we approached the shore of Britain the tossing ceased and the sea grew calm. During all my voyage in Cardiff the British sailors showed me amazing friendliness. Saying ‘Bolshevik, Bolshevik’, and looking round to make sure no officers were about, they thrust into my hands cheese, chocolate and pastries. This was not mere sympathy with a prisoner, but political sympathy with a Bolshevik. The sailors who guarded me did not threaten me with shooting, but benevolently explained that I was to be taken to London.


One day, as I woke up early in the morning, I observed that the destroyer was at anchor. From the porthole of the spacious washroom, to which I was taken every day for my ablutions, I could see an unusually beautiful landscape: high, wooded hills and a huge open-work bridge which traversed a whole bay. ‘This is Rosyth,[Rosyth is on the coast of Fife, near the famous Forth Bridge. During World War I it was used by the Royal Navy as a secondary naval base to Scapa Flow.] in Scotland,’ the British sailors crowding around me explained. ‘Have you ever been here before?’ they asked me with friendly interest. I replied that this was absolutely the first time I had visited ‘hospitable’ Britain. The sailors laughed cheerfully. My sentry gave me notice that that evening I was to be taken to London. And indeed, when darkness fell, I was brought up on deck. There I met Comrade Nynyuk. We were given sailors’ caps without ribbons, and yellow woollen capes. A British naval officer ordered that we be handcuffed. The sailor who carried out this order put one pair of handcuffs on the two of us: my left wrist was fettered to Comrade Nynyuk’s right. Like this we went down a ladder into a tugboat. We were escorted by a naval officer and two sailors. Complete darkness had now fallen.

Stars shone in the sky. Lights gleamed on both shores of the bay. I did not feel at all cold, although it was already January 9. There was no snow to be seen. The tugboat took us under the lacework bridge with its tall piles and, silently cleaving the calm surface of the water, brought us alongside a deserted barge. A gangplank was laid from the ship to the barge, and we walked across it. This was not easy. The gangplank was very narrow. It would in any case have been hard to keep one’s balance on it, and we, being fastened together with handcuffs had to move along it with particular caution, one after another. The handcuffs hindered us frightfully. In danger of slipping, falling into the water and inevitably dragging down one’s companion, we at last reached the barge. Beyond this barge, however, instead of the blessed shore, we found a whole series of other barges, lying at anchor and linked together by narrow, swaying gangplanks.

At last we reached the shore, where we were awaited by some policemen in long mackintoshes and tall helmets. We were in a naval port. On the shore lay heaps of coal, and the air was full of fine coal-dust. A large warship lay in dry-dock, looking odd with its keel and armoured side laid bare. We were in Scotland, at Rosyth, one of Britain’s major naval bases. The building of this port began as far back as 1909, but it really developed only during the imperialist war. It impressed me as a fully equipped naval base.


Without relieving us of our handcuffs, they led us to a small railway-station where, in a little room belonging to the police, we had to wait for a train. This arrived after half-an-hour. The naval officer, youthful, chubby and fair-haired, invited us to get into a ‘soft’ carriage.[Russian railway-carriages, instead of being categorised as first’ or ‘second class’, are either ‘soft’ or ‘hard’.] Our handcuffs attracted attention, although there were not many passengers either at the station or in the carriage. We settled into a compartment with seats for six people. I sat by the window, with Comrade Nynyuk, handcuffed to me, on my left. The officer and the two sailors took their seats in the same compartment and prudently drew the curtains over the windows and over the glass panels which gave on to the corridor. The train slowly started to move. The officer struck a match, lit his pipe, and gave a light to the sailors. They began talking together without constraint. The sailors behaved with great dignity in the presence of the officer. I found myself making a comparison with the Tsarist Navy. In that navy a regime of face-slapping prevailed, and ratings did not dare either to sit or to smoke when an officer was present. In the British Navy, as in every other, fierce class struggle goes on: on duty, on a ship of any capitalist navy the ratings are mercilessly exploited, oppressed and humiliated by the officers. But off duty, in their free time, British ratings behaved in their dealings with their officers in a more free-and-easy, independent way than those of the Tsarist Navy.[This entire passage contrasting off-duty relations between officers and other ranks in the British and Russian navies is omitted in both the 1936 and 1964 editions.]

Night soon fell. Our escort, on their soft seats, dropped off into slumber. I looked out of the window. The train rushed, rumbling and clanking, past dimly-seen villages and fields that were neatly ruled in squares, and stopped at stations only infrequently and briefly. Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, soon flew by. As we travelled southward the scenery underwent a marked change. The Scottish hills gradually gave place to the plains of England. I could not sleep in my uncomfortable situation. Suddenly I noticed that the handcuffs, which fitted closely the big-boned wrist of Comrade Nynyuk, were too big for me. When I tried to pull my hand out of the iron bracelet, I did so with ease. I glanced at the escort: they were sweetly and serenely asleep. I at once thought of escaping. This would have been all the easier in that the outside door was in the compartment itself, and all I should have to do, sitting as I was by the window, was to turn the door-handle and jump out. The temptation was great. But the train was hurtling along at a tremendous speed, unknown in Russia. So I decided to get away when we stopped. I even imagined how, with the help of British workers, I might make my way over to the Continent and from there to Soviet Russia.

I was used to being deprived of freedom. In 1912 I had been in the pre-trial detention centre and in the German prison at Insterburg, and in 1917 I had been in the Kresty prison. But after my lively revolutionary activity in 1917 and 1918 I found it particularly hard not to be at liberty. I was tormented with desire to work for the good of the young Soviet republic, and yet, here I was, in captivity. Unfortunately, the engine-driver braked the train only at the last moment, just as we were entering the station. The sudden halt woke up our escort. They shook their heads and with astonishment gazed at me out of their sleepy eyes.

So I did not manage to escape. Early in the morning one of the sailors bought a newspaper at an intermediate station. While the officer was out of the compartment the sailor showed me the paper and, laughing, put his finger on the place where some report appeared. I read it, and also could not refrain from laughter. The report began with the triumphant words: ‘We have captured the First Lord of the Bolshevist Admiralty.’ The combination of such contradictory concepts as ‘Lord’ and ‘Bolshevism’ was unexpected and tasteless. This was how a British bourgeois newspaper conveyed, in language understandable by its readers, my position as a member of the Revolutionary War Council of the Republic.


We reached London in the damp and foggy morning of January 10, 1919.[Bruce Lockhart records in his Diaries, Vol.1 (1973) that on this day he was ‘sent for by Foreign Office to discuss question of Raskolnikov’s capture by our fleet near Reval’]

There was a thin, brisk drizzle falling. In a covered car which was waiting for us at the station our naval guard took us to the Admiralty. We were both made to wait in a corridor, still wearing handcuffs. Admiralty officials, typists and secretaries hurried past us. While seeming to be busy with their work they nevertheless kept looking curiously at us. They were evidently interested to see real live Bolsheviks, brought straight from Soviet Russia. Soon, we were relieved of our handcuffs and led, first of all, into a big room of the government-office type in which several men in naval officers’ uniform were seated round a table. At the head of the table sat a stout, clean-shaven, red-cheeked admiral of about 50. Beside him was a man with fair hair smoothed down on either side of a parting, a fair moustache, but no beard, and wearing the uniform of a British naval officer. The admiral put questions to me in English, and the fair-haired man translated them into such impeccable Russian that at first I even took him for a Russian White Guard. However, certain turns of phrase later showed me that he must be a genuine Englishman. The first question put to me by the admiral caused me much surprise: ‘What can you tell us about the murder of Captain Cromie?’

I replied that I could tell them absolutely nothing. I remembered that our newspapers had reported the killing of a certain Lieutenant Cromie in the building of the British Embassy in Petrograd when, obstructing the entry of a detachment sent to (p.52). carry out a search, he had been the first to open fire from his revolver on the Soviet militia. I had had nothing at all to do with this event.

‘All the same, this was the work of your hands,’ said the admiral, mistrustfully. ‘Of course, I am not saying that you personally took part in the murder. But there can be no doubt that it was the doing of Uritsky and company.’

At that moment this thought flashed through my mind: was, perhaps, the killing of Comrade Uritsky by Kanegisser organised by the British as revenge for the killing of Cromie?[Actually, Uritsky was killed on August 30, and the Cheka’s raid on the British Embassy, in which Cromie met his death, took place on the following day, August 31] I rejected with indignation the suggestion that the death of lieutenant Cromie had been premeditated by any representative of the Soviet power.

‘This was a fatal accident such as can happen in any armed clash—a clash which, in this instance, as far as I am aware, was initiated by Lieutenant Cromie himself,’ I said.

The British officers then asked me about the circumstances of my capture. Finally, they asked me how many destroyers and how many sailors had been transferred from the Baltic to the Caspian? I said that this was a military secret, and refused to answer. In fact, all that business had been managed by me and I knew exactly how many ships and sailors had been sent to the Caspian through the Mariinskaya system[The Mariinskaya system was the series of canals which linked the port of Petrograd with the river Volga.] and down the river Volga. My refusal to answer irritated the British officers somewhat. They raised their voices, but, when convinced that it was useless to question me further, they gave up.

After Comrade Nynyuk had been interrogated, we were manacled once more and led out into the street.


At the entrance to the Admiralty stood an open motor-car around which, as we appeared, there quickly gathered a crowd of passers-by and small boys, who stared at us with amazement, as though we were polar bears. Accompanied by the fair-haired officer and some armed sailors we were taken in this car to Scotland Yard, the headquarters of Britain’s political police.

Scotland Yard occupies a very large, many-storeyed building in the best part of London.[At this time ‘Scotland Yard’ occupied a building on Victoria Embankment, near Westminster Bridge] Waiting to see us there was the head of the British political police, Sir Basil Thomson.[Thomson (1861-1939) was Director of Intelligence at Scotland Yard in 1919-1921. When Raskolnikov met him he was not yet Sir Basil’.]

A tall, lean, elegantly-dressed old man, young-seeming for his age, with a carefully-clipped moustache, Basil Thomson received me in his office. At another table, by the wall, sat a shorthand-writer. Thomson did not ask me to sit down. Through the interpreter he asked me about the circumstances of my capture. Then he expressed interest in my life-story. This was no secret, so I related it. The shorthand-writer industriously recorded my statements.

‘So, then, you’re a Bolshevik?’ Thomson asked, with unconcealed surprise and curiosity.

‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘I’m a Bolshevik.’

They took me into an adjoining room. After a few minutes the fair-haired officer who had acted as my interpreter at the Admiralty and at Scotland Yard came out of Thomson’s office. He told me that I was to be held as a hostage for the safety of British personnel who were in Bolshevik hands. I was to answer for their well-being, all and severally. ‘Whatever fate befalls them, that fate will be yours,’ said the fair-haired naval officer, significantly. He added that the British Government was ready to exchange me for a British naval officer, related to Sir Edward Grey, and three sailors who had been taken prisoner by us while making a reconnaissance somewhere in the forest on the northern front, not far from Archangel. According to the information the British possessed, they were in Moscow, in Butyrski Prison. It was proposed that I should send a telegram to this effect to the Council of People’s Commissars. I asked for a piece of paper and scribbled a telegram. To my text the British added a note that the Soviet Government’s reply should be addressed to London, to an institution entitled the ‘Peace Parliament’. The fair-haired officer undertook to send off this telegram forthwith, by wireless.[10] I was taken into another room and asked to wait. This was the office of some official of the political police. In the corner a fire burned in a big grate, in front of which a bald-headed police official was warming himself and drinking strong tea, accompanied by white bread-rolls.

They sat me down at a table and gave me, too, some tea and rolls. This came at the right moment, as I had had nothing to eat since early morning.

The British Government pays well for the services of its police agents. All these detectives are dressed in elegant jackets. Their trousers have knife-edge creases. At night they do not hang their trousers up but place them on a chair beside the bed, in a wooden press consisting of two parallel oaken planks. The British sleuths do their best to cultivate the outward appearance of ‘gentlemen’. [The entire passage about the clothing of members of the CID is omitted in the 1964 edition.]

When I had drunk my tea I was taken out into the corridor. At that moment Sir Basil Thomson, wearing a top-hat glossy as a mirror, passed me, walking with the slow gait of a tired old dodderer, and solemnly proceeded out into the street. After a short interval Comrade Nynyuk joined me, and we were taken outside, to where a car awaited us. Two detectives of incredible stoutness got into the car with some difficulty; there was hardly room for the four of us in that little closed car. The detectives both wore silky-smooth bowler-hats. The car started, crossed the bridge over the Thames, and hurtled rapidly down a long, broad street. Soon it turned right, into a narrow side-street, and came to a stop outside the massive gates of a prison.

Rattling heavy keys, an ungracious guard gloomily opened the gates and led us into the prison reception-office. The detectives handed us over, like packets of goods, against a receipt made out by the man in charge, and then, raising their bowlers, took leave of us. As in every prison in the world, we were subjected to a short questionnaire: surname, forenames, occupation, religion. When it came to the last of these points, the official who was filling in the form found himself stymied. He could not make out which church I belonged to. In reply to his question: ‘Are you Catholic or Protestant?’ I answered firmly, ‘Neither, I’m an atheist.’ ‘A Catholic?’ he asked me again, obviously not understanding what I had said. ‘Atheist,’ I replied, patiently. ‘Greek Church?’ ‘No, atheist.’ ‘So, you’re a Protestant?’ ‘I tell you I’m an atheist,’ I insisted. In the end he wrote me down, all the same, as a member of the Greek Church, on the grounds that, before the revolution the Orthodox Church had been the state religion in Russia. Then I was taken to the bathroom, where, on either side of a corridor, behind thin partitions, there were white baths. I eagerly washed myself, and changed into government-issue underwear. I was allowed not to wear prison clothes but to keep my own, that is, the sailor’s pea-jacket which I had worn ever since I was given a change of clothes on Spartak. As upper garment I had a sailor’s quilted double-breasted coat, and the yellow cape, with a hood, which had been given me on Cardiff before I set out for London. On my head I wore a British sailor’s cap, shaped like a pancake and without ribbons. From the bath I was led to a one-man cell. As I passed through the inner corridors of the prison I realised with what dreary uniformity all the world’s prisons resemble each other. Brixton Prison reminded me most of the Kresty Prison in Petrograd. The same corridors, the same stairways, even the same crosswise arrangement of the blocks. My cell was on the ground floor and its barred window looked out on the prison yard, where prisoners were taking exercise, dressed in grey suits and narrow, oblong caps, also grey. I was in the block called D Hall Section One, cell number three. Comrade Nynyuk was lodged in the adjoining cell. The warder—called in British prisons a ‘prison officer’—slammed the heavy door behind me, turned the key twice in the lock, and slowly walked away. I was left on my own. For lack of anything else to do I measured the size of my cell. How dreary! Exactly the same amount of floor-space as in Russian prisons: five paces one way and three paces the other. Exactly the same furniture: a narrow bed, fastened to the wall, an iron table and a little stool. On a shelf in one corner lay a Bible, and on the floor, instead of a close-stool, there was a chamber-pot.

On the door of my cell was a board inscribed: ‘Prisonerof-war.’


Day followed day. Comrade Nynyuk and I were subjected to a strict regime of solitary confinement. Every morning, after the bell had rung to awaken the prisoners, a warder, rattling a bunch of huge keys, opened the door of my cell and loudly announced: ‘Applications’.[Raskolnikov writes, in English: The application’.] Beside him at the door stood another prison official, who always carried a slate, on which he would write in chalk the prisoners’ applications. Through this official one could send for the doctor, order food or newspapers, arrange for a better meal to be served, in return for special payment, ask for paper and envelopes in order to write letters, or make some complaint. After this round had been completed, the warder on duty would open the cell again, shouting: ‘Bring out slops.’[Raskolnikov writes, in English: ‘Bring a slops’.] This meant that we had to bring out the chamber-pot which substituted for the usual Russian close-stool. We had to wash in the lavatory, as there was no water laid on in the cells. After that, a bucket of hot water was brought, together with a rag, a brush and some wax. I had to wash the floor with hot water and then polish it with wax. The wooden top of the table had to be scrubbed with the brush provided. After this cleaning had been accomplished we were given our morning tea, without sugar, along with a small white roll and a tiny piece of margarine. Butter and sugar, like eggs, were rationed at that time, and there was not enough for us prisoners. These foodstuffs could not be had even for money. The warder’s next visit was accompanied by the .cry:. ‘Exercise.’ At first I did not understand what this meant. With my inadequate knowledge of English I took this word to mean exercise in the sense of the practising of some skill. What sort of exercise could this be, I wondered, as I stood in the midst of my cell, not knowing what to do. ‘Exercise,’ repeated the elderly, whiskered warder, and beckoned me to come out. By empirical experience I learnt that the English word ‘exercise’ has another meaning—taking a walk. We walked in a circle, in the prison yard, which was surrounded by a high brick wall. This was the only place where I could meet Comrade Nynyuk. I was sometimes able, evading the warders’ vigilance, to exchange a few words with him. Unfortunately, our exercise did not last long—between 15 minutes and half an hour. After that we were settled back into our cells. At midday lunch was brought round: this consisted mainly of potatoes. Unlike what happened in Russian prisons, we were not given soup every day. On Sundays the potatoes were replaced by a special dish, a small piece of bright-red corned beef. Finally, when evening came, we had our supper: a mug of cocoa, made with water and without sugar, together with a roll. Soon after supper the prisoners had to go to bed.

On one of my first days in prison I asked for an envelope and paper and wrote a letter to Comrade M. M. Litvinov, informing him, as our representative, of my involuntary presence in London and detention in Brixton Prison. I told him that I needed money and Russian books, and asked him to pay me a visit. After a few days the letter was returned to me with a brief explanation that Litvinov had already been deported from Britain.

On another occasion I sent a letter to my mother but this was quickly returned to me, unsealed, with the inscription: ‘opened by censor’, and, on the other side the significant words, impressed by a rubber stamp: ‘communication suspended’.

Finally, when I wanted to send a telegram, I was first refused this on the excuse that I should soon be released, and then told that I could not do it because there was no telegraphic communication with Russia.


In the prison there was a library, which at once became my chief helpmate in whiling away my involuntary leisure.

This library was in the charge of the prison schoolmaster, who combined his teaching duties with responsibility for the prison library. The grey face of this elderly person was always edged, as though with fur, with the bristles of an unshaven beard. The dove-coloured nose on his grey face revealed his morbid addiction to alcohol. The librarian did not speak French so much as love to show off his knowledge of a foreign language. All the same, this did facilitate my dealings with him. The prison library consisted mainly of the works of classical English authors—Shakespeare, Dickens, Thackeray—together with illustrated journals of the lighter sort, such as the Strand Magazine, with the writings of Conan Doyle and Phillips Oppenheim. The section devoted to theological and religious literature was well stocked. There was also a small number of French books. In Russian there were only Tolstoy’s The Cossacks and Anna Karenina. The library was small and its selection of books a random one. From the first days of my imprisonment I set myself to study English. It turned out that even the Bible could come in useful for this purpose. From lack of anything else to do I started to peruse it and, as I knew the corresponding Russian text, I could guess at the meaning of certain words and try to memorise them. There was no English-Russian dictionary in the library. I therefore took out the English-French dictionary and, making use of my comparatively better knowledge of French, gradually began, with the aid of this dictionary, to read English books.


One day at the beginning of February I was summoned to the reception office, where a lanky detective was waiting for me. He led me out into the street, clambered with me on to the top of a huge double-decker bus, and took me to the centre of London.

The usual London rain was falling. The streets through which we passed were full of feverish activity. There came into my mind the opening words of Valery Bryusov’s poem The Pale Horse:

The street was like a storm. Crowds went by
As though chased by an inescapable fate.
Buses, cabs, motor-cars, all rushed along.
The flood of human beings was tireless and furious.
[This poem by Valery Bryusov (1873-1924) was written in 1904. It describes a sudden death due to a street accident.]

Waiting for me in one of the rooms in the Admiralty was the naval officer who had acted as interpreter when I was interrogated there and at Scotland Yard. Seated beside him at a table was another naval officer, stout, with grey-streaked dark hair, a thick moustache and a pointed, neatly-trimmed beard. He introduced himself as Britain’s former naval representative at the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet. He had spent the imperialist war and the first months of the revolution at Sebastopol. This time, the British seamen asked me to sit down at their table and subjected me to a cross-examination regarding the theoretical foundations of Communism. They were particularly interested in our economic and political conceptions. Later, they gave me the depressing news of the deaths of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, and also of the landing of the Allied expeditionary force at Odessa.[ Allied troops had landed at Odessa on December 18 1918. Uebknecht and Luxemburg had been murdered on January 15 1919.] I had known nothing of any of this because, having no British money, I could not buy newspapers. The British seamen offered to change into British money the six Tsarist ten-rouble notes which had been taken off me when I entered prison. In addition to these I also had a few square forty-rouble and twenty-rouble ‘Kerensky’ notes. These, however, the British officers smilingly declined to change. Anyway, I now had nearly three pounds sterling. First and foremost, I hastened to provide myself with underclothes. The next time the warder came round for ‘applications’ I put myself down for two flannel shirts, two pairs of pants and two pairs of woollen socks. These purchases cost me dear, nearly two pounds sterling, absorbing a substantial proportion of my money. In addition, I bought myself four small, cheap dictionaries, bound in red calico, published by Gamier Frères: [Garnier Frères were an old-established Paris publishing house.]English-Russian, Russian-English, French-Russian and Russian-French. After that, I was left with less than a pound. With this money I began buying newspapers every day. Thereafter, my knowledge of English increased so fast that, within a month, I was able to read a newspaper without using a dictionary. My principal reading consisted of The Times and the Daily News. I bought the reactionary Times for the sake of its extensive coverage, easily putting up with its publication of the most incomprehensible concoctions about Soviet Russia. The Liberal Daily News was the most left-wing paper I was allowed to read. I tried several times without success to order the Manchester Guardian:[11] the warders always gave me the ridiculous excuse that this paper was published not in London but in Manchester.

At this time all the British newspapers were getting their information about Soviet Russia through their correspondents in Riga and Helsingfors, whose principal source was the White-Guard émigrés. Consequently, the most fantastic calumnies filled the pages of the British bourgeois press. Every day I came upon some astounding piece of news. Thus, I suddenly learnt that Chinese were selling human flesh in the streets of Moscow, and then that the death-rate in Russia had risen so high that there was a shortage of wood for coffins. The Red Army was always depicted as a rabble of Chinese and Letts. I carefully cut out all the articles and reports concerning Soviet Russia: they made a very strong-smelling bouquet. Alas, when I returned to Russia, this rich collection was taken from me by the British, on the basis of the war-time law known from its initials as Dora,[The Defence of the Realm Act (’DORA’), passed in 1914, gave the British Government extensive powers for the duration of the war.] which prohibited the export of printed matter.

Through reading the newspapers I was able, even though in prison, to keep well in touch with international affairs, and in particular with the progress of the peace talks at Versailles which had then just begun.

The Russian question was frequently raised and discussed in Parliament. The advocates of resolute intervention against Soviet Russia openly voiced their dissatisfaction with Lloyd George’s half-hearted policy. They urged that Soviet power be overthrown by despatching a large army to Russia. But Lloyd George, who took account of the war-weary mood of the peasant masses[sic] and was afraid of the workers, among whom sympathy with the land of the Soviets was growing day by day, dominated the policy of his cabinet. I remember that one day, parrying the blows of the Conservatives, he said, referring to the example of Napoleon: ‘Russia is a country it is easy to get into but hard to get out f’[Lloyd George’s remark concerning Russia (’It is a country which it is easy to get into but very difficult to get out of’) was made on April 16 1919.]

The Government was frequently asked: ‘What is happening to the British officers who are held by the Bolsheviks?’ One day the deputy-minister for foreign affairs, Amery, said in answer to this question that the British Government was negotiating with the Soviet Government, through the Danish Red Cross, about an exchange of these officers for Russian Bolsheviks held in Britain.[This statement was made, on March 27 1919, by Cecil Harmsworth, who was Under-Secretary for the Colonies.] I realised that this statement must refer to me, amongst others, and looked forward impatiently to the end of the negotiations.

From these British newspapers I learnt of the death of Comrade Sverdlov, of the arrest of Comrade Radek in Germany, and of the detention in France of Comrade Manuilsky.[12]

One day I read in the papers about the proposal made to us and to the White Guards by the ‘Allies’ for a conference to be held at Prinkipo, in the Princes’ Islands. Soon afterward I learnt that the Soviet Government had agreed to this proposal, but that the conference had not taken place, because Denikin and Kolchak had refused to attend.

I had dreamt of going to that conference, so as thereby to get out of prison. As I learnt subsequently my name had indeed been put forward as one of the Soviet delegates.

After newspapers I started on books. One of the first English books I read was Hilaire Belloc’s The French Revolution. [Hilaire Belloc’s short book on the French Revolution was published in 1911 in the Popular series The Home University Library. ]


Lying hypocrisy reigns in all Britain’s prisons. Along with a cheap tin plate and an earthenware mug, the inventory of every cell includes a Bible and a Prayer book. Three mornings a week the prisoners attend religious services. ‘Chapel, chapel,’ shouts the prison officer, and he leads the prisoners into the corridor by which, in single file, they make their way to the prison chapel. There they are seated on long, narrow benches. Some of them make a rattling noise with every movement during the service, from the heavy manacles fettering their hands and feet.

I too went to chapel several times, mainly so as to listen to the organ. The small, unprepossessing organist, wearing a black gown, approached with rapid steps, adjusting his spectacles in an embarrassed way, and as though furtively, the high sonorous organ which stood by the left-hand wall. The face and the entire miserable figure of this organist bore the marks of the burdens of a large family and tormenting worry about a crust of dry bread. He played the organ remarkably well. Despite the fact that the hymns were quite alien to me, into the monotony of prison life even this dreary music brought a certain diversion.

The plump Anglican clergyman was the complete opposite of the organist. Wearing silver-rimmed spectacles, with an impressive head of grey hair, carefully parted, and fat cheeks that shone with good living, this man, dressed in a white cassock like a loose overall, read the prayers unhurriedly, in a sing-song voice and the prisoners chorused the responses. After the liturgy, this heavy, clumsy man climbed up, awkward as a hippopotamus emerging from the water, into the pulpit and, adjusting his long, wide, inconvenient sleeves, in which his white, puffy hands, carefully tended since childhood, were hopelessly lost, he began desperately and frightfully denouncing the Russian Bolsheviks. This struck me as funny, and I was unable to repress a smile.


The London winter was mild. Fog, rain, soft snow which soon melted on the ground. They do not have hard frosts there. When large flakes of damp snow began to fall, the fat, red-faced warders, panting from obesity and clanking their bunches of keys, who opened the door into the yard for me would rub their hands with cold and exclaim with horror: ‘Siberia, Siberia!’ I laughed and shook my head. Poor fellows, they had no notion of the real cold of our Siberia, with which no London winter can be compared. They do not heat the prisons in London, or else heat them very poorly. At all events, it was cold in my cell. I had to wear my pea-jacket all the time. My cell was at ground level, and damp came up through the stone floor. During that winter there was a severe epidemic of Spanish influenza in Britain. Every day the newspapers reported the deaths of entire families from this illness. I went down with a cold, but fortunately, the flu epidemic spared Brixton Prison, and I got away with nothing worse than a cold. Nevertheless, I put in for a visit by the doctor. The British doctor sounded my chest, gave me some medicine and, when he learnt that I found the prison food inadequate, prescribed a reinforced diet. This meant that every day I now received, along with my morning tea, some porridge. I had little money left and so had to be satisfied with the prison diet. Just as in the Tsarist prisons, in Brixton Prison one could get a better meal if one paid specially for it. Such a meal cost one shilling. One day I ordered it just to see what it was like. It proved to be very pleasant, consisting of soup and English roast beef with greens. In bourgeois society class differences exist everywhere, and the well-to-do can live not badly even in a British prison.


When my mastery of English had improved, I decided to pass it on to my comrade Nynyuk. Hastening my pace as we walked in a circle during exercises I would catch up with him and, when the warder’s attention was elsewhere, quickly say to him: ’Kos/zka—cat, ryba—fis .’ Running round at a fast rate so as to warm myself up, I would approach Comrade Nynyuk again and whisper: ’Koshka—cat, !yba—fis . Repeat that!’ ’Koshka -fish, ryba—cat,’ he would reply, always getting it the wrong way round. Nothing came of these English lessons. He had much greater success in grasping the political news which I managed to pass on to him during exercise.

When other prisoners, mostly criminals, were brought out for exercise, we, being ‘dangerous Bolsheviks’, were kept strictly apart from them and made to walk to and fro in a straight line at a tangent to the circle. One day there was sent out for exercise with us a short, hunchbacked man without a cap on his shock of thick hair. When we encountered each other I begn to talk with him. I managed to discover that his name was Kerran and that he was a member of the British Socialist Party and had been in prison four years already, for agitating against the war. When he learnt that we were Russian Bolsheviks he showed us marked friendliness. Once, when the prison officer was not looking, as Kerran came level with me during our exercise, he dropped a package on the ground. I hastened to pick it up. It consisted of several issues of the left-wing workers’ journals The Call and The Herald. From them I learnt that the British workers’ leader John Maclean had been released from prison and triumphantly welcomed by the workers. As I read these journals I appreciated what a vigorous campaign was being waged against intervention by the British working class under the leadership of their Communists. A meeting attended by many thousands had been held in London’s huge Albert Hall, under the slogan: ‘Hands off Russia!’[ The Albert Hall meeting on February 8 1919 initiated the ‘Hands off Russia’ movement of 1919-1920. ] The British workers were not only protesting but actively fighting against aid to the White Guards, against intervention by British troops. Lloyd George was compelled to take account of this feeling among the working class in Britain.


The population of the prison was large and variegated. The overwhelming majority of its inmates were criminal prisoners. Once, during exercise, I made the acquaintance of a certain Russian, born in Canada, who had served with the Canadian forces in the war and was now in prison for some offence. He had become quite ‘anglicised’. He spoke his Russian mothertongue very poorly, with a strong accent, but could talk and write fluently in English.

As in every prison, the population of Brixton Prison fluctuated. Sometimes we were joined by other ‘politicals’. At that time they were carrying out mass arrests of Russians suspected of Bolshevism. These persons were deported from Britain as undesirable aliens. Once, during exercise, Kerran, whose cell was in a different block, told me that a large number of Russians suspected of Boishevist sympathies had been brought to the prison. Soon afterward there arrived in our D Hall one of these suspects, a hairdresser named Morgenstern. He was deported to Russia, and later on, in 1921, I came across him again, in Krasnodar.[The passage about Morgenstern does not appear in the 1964 edition.]

The winter ended and spring came. Some feeble grass came up in the yard, but I still lay in prison, as though forgotten. I had got pretty fed up with being shut in. Spring urged me towards freedom, greenery, the open air.

Sometimes during exercise the idea of escape entered my head, but I had to reject it at once. The high brick walls and the alert watchfulness of the warders presented insurmountable obstacles. I remembered that the Irish bourgeois revolutionary De Valera escaped from a British prison. But he had been freed by the Sinn Fein organisation.[Eamonn de Valera was imprisoned in 1916 for his part in the Easter Rebellion, but released in the following year. Arrested again in 1918, he was put into Lincoln Prison, but escaped in February 1919.] I had no contacts in Britain.

Then, one day at the beginning of May, I was told to collect up all my belongings and was taken by car to Scotland Yard. Comrade Nynyuk went with me. At Scotland Yard we were informed that, as the regime under which the British officers were kept in Moscow had been mitigated, and they were being allowed comparative freedom, we too were to be transferred to a hotel, under surveillance by the police and on condition that we did not leave London. After that, accompanied by a detective, we were taken to the Mills Hotel in Gower Street,[In 1919 a Mrs Florence Mills kept a hotel which occupied eight houses in Gower Street, Bloomsbury, near University College.] not far from the British Museum. We were assigned a small, modestly furnished room on the first floor. Here we spent twelve days in freedom. At first we had no money. After a few days, however, someone from Scotland Yard called on me to say that the Danish Embassy had received some money from Moscow that was meant for me.[13] He accompanied me on a journey by the underground railway, with some complicated changes, which brought us to the remote, aristocratic quarter of London where the Danish Embassy was situated.[In 1919 the Danish Minister’s offices were in Pont Street, near Knightsbridge. ]

Through a reception-room neat as a box of sweets I was led into the austere and business like office of the Minister. A tall, grey-haired man handed me fifty pounds sterling, sent to me by the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs through the good offices of the Danish Red Cross Mission, who were apparently the only foreign representatives left in Moscow. The officious sleuth accompanied me back to my residence. Then Comrade Nynyuk and I went to an off-the-peg clothing shop in Oxford Street and changed into decent suits. At a hat shop we bought ourselves soft felt hats, to replace the sailors’ caps without ribbons that we had been given on Cardiff. From semi-ragamuffins who attracted attention in the fashionable streets of London we were transformed into properly-dressed people.

In the course of these twelve days I succeeded in acquainting myself with London and its places of note. First of all I visited the British Museum, which, with its rich archaeological and artistic collections, made a big impression on me. Then I went to the Zoo. At Covent Garden Theatre I heard the opera Tosca, in which some first-class Italian singers performed.[The Royal Opera House reopened after the war on May 12 1919, and a performance of Tosca was given on May 16.] On one of these days of freedom I visited the Central Committee of the British Socialist Party. This was huddled in dark and dirty little rooms somewhere in Drury Lane.[The headquarters of the British Socialist Party was in 1919 in Maiden Lane, between Covent Garden and the Strand. No doubt Raskolnikov, coming from Gower Street, approached it via Drury Lane.] They received me politely and correctly, but without any marks of cordial hospitality.

I went again to the Admiralty, to find out when, at last, I was to be returned to Soviet Russia, where I strongly wished to be, so as once more to take part in the civil war. An officer in a khaki service-jacket told me that the negotiations regarding the time and place of the exchange had already been completed, and I should probably be sent back to Russia, through Finland, in the next day or so.

One day a young man in a civilian overcoat called on us and told us to get ready to leave. He explained that he was to accompany us to Rosyth. We soon gathered up our possessions and carried them out into the street. We were taken in a car to Scotland Yard, where Sir Basil Thomson received us once again. He explained that we were to be sent to Russia through Finland because the exchange with the British officers would be effected on the Finnish-Soviet frontier. In the same car and accompanied by the same young policeman we were then taken to the railway station. There, people were seeing off some British volunteers who were going to Murmansk and Archangel to help the Russian White Guards. Facing us in our compartment of the train sat a long-faced British officer. In our conversation with him it emerged that he was on his way to fight against us as a volunteer. At Leeds [sic][‘Leeds’ may be a mis-hearing of ‘Leith’.] he was going to change on to a steamship. Dusk gradually descended. Evening came on. It grew cold in the compartment. Comrade Nynyuk shivered. The British officer removed his overcoat and offered it to my comrade, although he knew quite well that we were Bolsheviks. What was this? The act of a gentleman, or a pose by a class enemy playing at magnanimity? Most probably the latter: but, in any case, it was a handsome gesture.[14]


We arrived at Rosyth early in the morning. The policeman led us to the steamer Greenwich and, after handing us over to the naval authorities, left at once. On Greenwich we were placed in the care of a round-faced non-commissioned officer of the Marines, who perform the role of gendarmes on ships of the British navy. Greenwich, a fairly large armed vessel which served as a submarine tender, was going to Copenhagen. Hardly had we moved off when a grey-moustached mechanic, puffing at his pipe, loquaciously related to me the story of how the German sailors had scuttled the German fleet interned at Scapa Flow.[In fact, the German fleet at Scapa Flow was not scuttled until June 21 1919, after Raskolnikov’s return to Russia.]

The green and hilly shores of Scotland were soon hidden below the horizon and the steamer emerged into the open sea. I asked our round-faced NCO whether he knew any foreign language. He proudly replied that he knew none, and that he considered it quite unnecessary to trouble himself to learn any, since all foreigners ought to speak English. These words were uttered with a certain air of national arrogance.

The weather stayed fine all day. The sea was calm. Comrade Nynyuk and I strolled about the deck, chatting and enjoying the beauty of the blue sea. We dined below, in the NCOs’ quarters, but separated from all the crew. We had no money at all, and so could not purchase any ‘extras’. However, Comrade Nynyuk, not knowing English, agreed to accept some dish that was offered to him, even though it was not included in the official menu. A misunderstanding occurred. When, later, we were asked to pay for this dish, we found ourselves in an awkward situation, since we had no means of paying. The NCO in charge said, with a sour look, that the sum involved was not large and he would pay it.

At Copenhagen we were transferred to a British destroyer, and lodged in the corridor of the officers’ quarters, beside the wardroom. There we spent the night swinging in string beds hung up like hammocks. They served our food at the officers’ table, and we now sampled for the first time some English national dishes: at lunch we were given ‘toast’, that is, bread fried in butter [sic], and at tea we had marmalade.

Most of our time we spent on the top deck. The destroyer was travelling at full speed, raising behind it a foam-mound of seething water. One evening, before sunset, we saw on our starboard bow the pointed Gothic steeples of the Reval churches of Saint Olai and Saint Nicholas: the patterned tower of the Town Hall, like a minaret, gleamed for a moment, and the tall cranes of the Russo-Baltic Works stood out blackly against the sky.

After passing between Surop and Nargen Island, when the destroyer had the port of Reval on its beam it turned to port and began a northward course. Soon we could see the outline of Sveáborg Fortress. After passing Sveáborg so close that it was possible to make out distinctly not only the guns but even the expressions on the faces of the Finnish soldiers, we entered Helsingfors roadstead and drew alongside. Before we were allowed to go ashore, all our belongings were searched. They took away my big collection of cuttings from the British press. Manuscripts were let through. The British were motivated in their confiscation of the cuttings by the wartime law called ‘Dora’ which prohibited the export of printed matter. But the war with Germany was over. Evidently the law retained its force because Britain, without having declared war on us, was actually carrying on military operations against Soviet Russia, seen by capitalist Britain as an enemy country.[The war with Germany was not officially over until the peace treaty was signed, on June 28 1919.<] After this search, Comrade Nynyuk and I were taken ashore and put into a guardhouse, a small, one-storeyed building on the quay, near the Mariinsky Palace.[ There was no Mariinsky Palace’, officially so called, in Helsingfors (Helsinki). The guardhouse was opposite the Emperor’s (now the President’s) Palace, across Mariinskaya Street.]

Early next morning we were led out into the street. Kodaks clicked amid the rays of the rising sun. The photographers included Finnish officers. They took us by car to the railway station and sat us in a third-class compartment. The tall, dry Finnish officer who had been assigned as escort looked at us with unconcealed hatred and addressed us roughly and haughtily. The representative of the British consulate in Helsingfors and the plenipotentiary of the Danish Red Cross, who accompanied us to the frontier, were indignant at this attitude on the part of the Finns and insisted on moving us into a ‘soft’ carriage. The train started off that evening. We soon fell asleep and did not realise that we had reached the Finnish frontier station till we awoke in the morning. Accompanied by the British and Danish officials and escorted by Finnish soldiers we walked, carrying our suitcases, towards the long-desired Soviet frontier. The weather was clear and sunny. My joyful excitement saved me from noticing how heavy my suitcase was.

We quickly covered the distance between the Finnish frontier station and Byeloostrov. At last we beheld Byeloostrov railway station, with its huge red placard turned towards Finland and inscribed ‘Death to Butcher Mannerheim!’ In front of the station was a small wooden bridge with handrails, over the river Sestra. We were ordered to halt at this bridge, before the lowered frontier-barrier. I put my suitcase down on the ground, took off my hat and, with relief, wiped the sweat from my brow.


How my heart began to beat when, on the Soviet side of the bridge, I saw fluttering in the wind the cap-ribbons of Red sailors. The brass instruments of a band shone brightly in the sunlight. On the Soviet side a group of men approached the bridge: they were dressed in green Britishjackets, with on their heads pancake-shaped caps from which long peaks projected.[According to a Soviet documentary publication, the British prisoners were escorted by Larissa Reissner. She died in 1926, having left Raskolnikov for Radek some years earlier.] The thick-set Finnish officer who was in charge of the exchange ceremony ordered that the barrier be lifted, and then adanced to the middle of the bridge. The Soviet frontier-barrier was also lifted, and, one after the other, the British officers began to walk towards Finland. First came Major Goldsmith, an officer of royal blood,[15] the head of the British Mission in Caucasia, who had been arrested at Vladikavkaz. Broad-shouldered, tall and dark, he crossed into Finnish territory and looked at me with curiosity, saluting in the military manner. I raised my felt hat and gave a slight bow. When eight or nine British officers had crossed the frontier, our sailors began to protest. A doubt had arisen in their minds: were the Finnish officers perhaps going to cheat them and, after getting all the British prisoners into Finland, make off with me? They demanded that I be at once sent across into Soviet territory. But the Finns were adamant. They did not trust our men, either, and feared that after I had crossed the frontier the exchange would immediately be stopped, and the remaining British officers left un-exchanged. After brief negotiations, the two sides arrived at a compromise. It was decided to put Comrade Nynyuk and me in the middle of the bridge, so that when the last of the British had passed us, we could then complete our walk across the frontier. Hardly had we set foot on the bridge than the band on the Soviet side began to play, loudly and triumphantly, the International. The Finnish officers, taken by surprise, were confused and did not know what to do. Fortunately, they were rescued from their embarrassment by the British. The latter, as though in response to an order, all, at once, raised their hands to the salute. Following their example, the polished Finnish officers hesitatingly and unwillingly lifted their hands, tightly enclosed in white gloves, with their arms slackly bent at the elbow, and touched their elegant helmets, which, with their close-fitting uniforms, made them look like pre-war Prussian officers.

When all the British were on the bridge, we crossed into Soviet territory. Boundless joy gripped me when, after five months in prison, I found myself once more in the socialist fatherland. I greeted the comrades and thanked the sailors for coming to meet me. They all greeted me and expressed amazement at how highly Bolsheviks were rated on the world market. Just think! Two Bolsheviks had been exchanged for nineteen British officers.[The number of British personnel exchanged for Raskolnikov and Nynyuk was eighteen. There were eight officers, three NCOs, three private soldiers and four civilians. Their names appeared in the Times of May 30 1919.] It turned out that the British, who had at first demanded in exchange for us one naval officer and four sailors, later started to act like merchants surprised at finding that their goods are in demand in the bazaar. Like the trading nation they are, the British raised the price until, at last, not stopping at the figure of nineteen British officers, they demanded in addition, two Russian White-Guard generals.[16] This insolence exasperated the People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs, and he threatened to break off negotiations. The British then ‘yielded’ and gave up their demand for the White-Guard generals, agreeing to be satisfied with nineteen of their own officers.

Among those who met me at Byeloostrov was our Finnish comrade, now dead, Ivan Rakhiya. He offered to take me to Petrograd by car, but I made the journey by rail. At Byeloostrov station our Red frontier-guards asked me to share with them my impressions of Western Europe, and from the platform of the carriage I delivered a short speech about the international situation. I devoted particular attention to the intervention against the USSR and to the ‘peace’ talks at Versailles, which were pregnant with the danger of a new war.[The mention of Versailles, ‘pregnant with the threat of anew war’, is omitted in the 1964 edition.]

That evening, on arrival at Petrograd, I went to see Comrade Zinoviev. In his apartment in the Hotel Astoria I met Comrade Stalin, who had just come from Moscow, on account of the immediate threat to Lenin’s city. [17]

It was May 27 1919. Helped by the British fleet, Yudenich was launching his first attack on one of the most revolutionary cities in the world.


[1] Following Germany’s defeat in the West the Soviet Government repudiated the treaty of Brest-Litovsk and Red Army forces advanced into Estonia and Latvia, where ‘bourgeois-nationalist’ governments had been set up in the capitals—Reval (Tallinn) and Riga. A British squadron was sent to help the anti-Bolshevik forces, arriving at Reval on December 12. 1918.

[2] On Estonian territory there were, besides the local anti-Bolshevik forces, also a ‘number of Russian ‘Whites’, who formed themselves into an army which was first commanded by General Rodzianko and later by General Yudenich.

[3] Admiral V. M. Aitvater (1883-1919), an officer of the Imperial Russian Navy, was at this time Assistant Chiefof the Naval General Staffand a member of the Revolutionary War Council of the Republic. Rumour had it that he was-a natural son of Tsar Alexander III.

[4] According to the History of the Estonian SSR, edited by G.I. Naan, published in Tallinn in 1952 (p.352): ‘The myrmidons of American [sic] and British imperialism—the Trotskyists—were active in the Soviet rear. On 26-27 December 1918 Trotsky and his assistant Raskolnikov sent into the Gulf of Tallinn [Reval] where a British squadron was stationed, the destroyers Spartak and Adroit. Despite the heroism of the sailors and their contempt for death, the Trotskyist Raskolnikov and other traitors succeeded in surrendering the vessels.’ In the 1964 edition of Raskolnikov’s book this accusation against Trotsky is reduced to an editorial note claiming that he ordered the expedition without consulting the commander-in-chief Vatsetis, who sent an angry telegram to Altvater after the disaster, demanding to know why he had not been informed beforehand.

According to Five Years of the Red Navy published in 1922 by the People’s Commissariat for Naval Affairs (with a portrait of Trotsky as frontispiece), the commander of the Red Army forces advancing into Estonia had asked for the Navy’s assistance in destroying the British ships based at Reval, after they had bombarded Kunda and landed troops in his rear (p.5!). The Trotsky Papers, Volume 1 (ed. J.M. Meijer, The Hague, 1964), includes (p.223) a message from Vatsetis to Lenin, dated December 28, demanding an investigation of the affair. He mentions the shortage of coal on one of the ships, Oleg, which reveals the unpreparedness of the whole operation’.

The commission of inquiry into the affair reported in February 1919, concluding that it had been a mistake not to see to the adequate fuelling of the ships before they set out, and also that Raskolnikov ought not to have gone ahead alone in Spartak when he learnt that Avtroil was unable to accompany him.

[5] Raskolnikov has not mentioned hitherto how he was intending to use Azard. According to Five Years of the Red Navy (pp.5 I-2) she was reconnoitring in Kunda Bay. She returned with a nil report. As she was short of fuel and had something wrong with her engine, it was decided not to involve her in the operation.

[6] According to a Soviet source quoted in G. Bennett, Cowan’s War (1964), Pantera’s reconnaissance tailed because of defective compasses, freezing up of periscope and trouble with other equipment, including rudders, trimming tanks, batteries and radio’ (p.390).

[7] The Sixth Light Cruiser Squadron—Cardiff, Cassandra, Caradoc, Ceres and Calypso—commanded by Rear-Admiral Alexander Sinclair, had led the German High Seas Fleet into internment in Scapa Flow in November 1918 and then immediately proceeded to the Baltic accompanied by nine destroyers of the ‘V and W’ class (one of which, Wakeful, is later mentioned by Raskolnikov). Cassandra was lost on the way to the Baltic. On December 13 Sinclair shelled the coast near Narva, destroying the only bridge over the river Narova, which was important for the Red Army’s communications. He then went off to Latvia with Cardiff, Ceres and five of his destroyers. The force left at Reval thus consisted of two light cruisers, Calypso and Caradoc, and four destroyers. On December 24 they landed 200 Estonian shock-troops in Kund Bay, behind the Red lines.

[8] A partly different account of what happened is given in Five Years of the Red Navy (pp.53-54): ’Spartak was unable to develop full speed because the crew operated the machinery incorrectly and had to stop first one turbine, then the other, so that no more than 23 to 25 knots was achieved. About 1330 hours the blast from Spartak’s forward gun, trained too far aft, knocked down the charthouse, scattered and tore the charts, damaged the bridge and concussed the helmsman, so that the ship’s position could not be determined. Ten minutes later it was realised from her wash that Spartak was in shallow water. Course was altered too late: at about 1340 she stranded on Divel Shoal, losing her screws.’ Divel Shoal is now called Kuradimunda.

[9] According to Captain Thesiger’s account of the action, quoted in Bennett, op.cit., Sparlak had seven officers and 95 men and Autroil had seven officers and 138 men, all taken prisoner. These prisoners were, with the exception of Raskolnikov and Nynyuk, handed over to the Estonian Government forces, who kept them on Nargen Island and, two months later, executed a number of them. The two Soviet destroyers were also handed over to the Estonian Government: renamed Vambola and Lennuk, they played an important part in subsequent operations, being used to land shock-troops in the rear of the enemy.

[10] The text of Raskolnikov’s telegram is in the British Foreign Office archives (FO 371/3938). The telegram was addressed to Trotsky and said that the British authorities ‘state they are willing to release me in return for all British now arrested in Russia’, together with a Belgian merchant navy captain named Schoonjans (who eventually got out under a separate arrangement). ‘Peace Parliament’ was the telegraphic address to be used for correspondence with the Foreign Office on prisoner exchange with Soviet Russia.

[11] The Manchester Guardian (now the Guardian), although printed in Manchester, was available at this time at main railway stations and many newsagents in London. Its publication in 1918 of the pro-Bolshevik despatches by Morgan Philips Price had doubtless caused the authorities to put it on their black list. Radek attended the founding congress of the Communist Party of Germany at the end of December 1918. He was arrested on February 15, 1919. Manuilsky was sent to France in January 1919, as a member of a Red Cross delegation, to arrange repatriation of Russian soldiers still in France. When they landed at Dunkirk they were arrested and interned at Malo-les-Bains, a suburb of that town.

[12] Radek attended the founding congress of the Communist Party of Germany at the end of December 1918. He was arrested on February 15, 1919. Manuilsky was sent to France inJanuary 1919. as a memberofa Red Cross delegation, to arrange repatriation of Russian soldiers still in France. When they landed at Dunkirk they were arrested and interned at Malo-les-Bains, a suburb of that town.

[13] Correspondence in FO 371/3939 and 3940 includes a letter from Raskolnikov to Larissa Reissner, despatched at the beginning of April, urging her to arrange his repatriation as soon as possible, and a telegram from her saying: ‘Your exchange is nearly arranged.. . The Danish Embassy in London will give you necessary funds for linen and clothing, the expense of which we shall meet in Moscow.’ The British Red Cross Society’s representative in Moscow informed the Foreign Office that ‘Raskolnikov’s wife is a personage of considerable importance in the Soviet Government.’

[14] The report, dated May 20 1919, by the CID officer who escorted Raskolnikov to Inverkeithing, the railway station for Rosyth, which is in FO 371/3941, says: ‘Prior to embarking, Raskolnikov expressed his gratitude for the treatment received by himself and his companion whilst in the hands of the British authorities, and requested me to convey his thanks to Mr Thomson for the courtesy shown to them.’

[15] According to the Royal Archives at Windsor Castle there is no evidence that Major G. M. Goldsmith (who had taken over command of ‘Caumilage’—the Caucasus Military Agency—after the shooting of Colonel Pike) had any connection with the royal family, and there is nothing to suggest this in the papers concerning him in the Foreign Office and War Office archives.

[16] The voluminous correspondence in the Foreign Office archives concerning the exchange of prisoners contains no mention of any ‘White-Guard generals’. The Soviet side had, however, engaged in some ‘oriental bargaining’ of a somewhat macabre kind. In his message ofJanuary 24 1919 Chicherin had proposed that, in exchange for British subjects in Soviet hands, not only Raskolnikov and Nynyuk but also Shaumyan, Djaparidze and the rest of the 26 Baku commissars be returned to Russia—this although, as the British Foreign Office noted, the Soviet wireless had reported on November 16 1918 that these men had been ‘killed by the White Guards’ (FO 371/3938/26748).

[17] In the 1936 edition the reference to Zinoviev is omitted and the paragraph begins: ‘That evening, on arrival in Petrograd, I met at the Hotel Astoria Comrade Stalin, who...’ In the 1964 edition the entire paragraph is omitted, thus avoiding mention of both Zinoviev and Stalin.