When the Russian Fleet visited Lüderitz and Dar-es-salam, Part 3, by Dr. Hans Schmiedel (1975)
When the Russian Fleet visited Lüderitz and Dar-es-salam by Dr. H. Schmiedel was published in German in the 1962 edition of the South West Africa Annual.
(continued ...) After Rozhdestvensky had had difficulty taking on coal within the Portuguese territorial waters, he planned to take coal on again at Lüderitz. Whereas the German troop transports had had a fairly good voyage, except for the last few days, the Russian fleet entered Lüderitz on the 11.th December 1904 during a storm of galeforce . At Lüderitz the Russians anticipated a friendly reception because of the close ties between their two emperors. However, the continueing stormy conditions did not allow the Russian fleet to take on coal for 3 days. Even the heavy warships were rocked by the waves and efforts to link them with the coal steamers were unsuccessful. When the warship "OSLYABIA" and the coalsteamer "DORTMUND" holed each other. It was quite a sight! As I have previously mentioned we unfortunately do not find any of these particulars in the German newspapers but only in Frank Thiess' book. Finally, on the 14th December Admiral Rozhdestvensky berthed at Lüderitz with his flagship "Ssuworoff", named after the famous Russian General who campaigned against Napoleon.
He then visited Major Lequis, the Chief of Staff of the base at Lüderitz, with the aid of a longboat. Lequis had been able to enlarge the puny jetty for the arrival of the large German troopships and supply ships. He did so with little means at his disposal at the time of the commencement of the war against the Hottentots in the autumn of 1904. This was reported with great pride by the officers of the Chief of Staff. Thiess also relates that while Lequis was stationed at army headquarters in Berlin he was already in favour of an alliance between Germany and Russia. Now this jolly and energetic officer had the opportunity to put this idea into practice, although only in South West Africa. When the Russian Chief of Staff suspiciously enquired from Lequis whether he did not expect trouble because of the very "unpopular" Russians, he replied with a wink:
"Which squadron do you mean? Where is it? I was able to inform my superior officer very clearly that from the bay where I reside I am unable to see any ship. Also, I have no cruiser available to patrol the coast. I am a land soldier, am under no obligation, nor do I have the inclination to undertake such a sightseeing tour in a native boat and in such miserable weather. Should there, for instance, be a battle behind the next spit of land between the Russians and the tiny English cruiser "BARROSSA" (which was shadowing the Russian fleet) I would be unable to prevent it. I would not care very much either."
Soldiers of different nations usually are able to get along with each other much easier, despite their rough occupation, than the eternally suspicious diplomats. In this instance the German governor also did not "fail" the Russians. The English ambassador in Berlin protested because of the favours granted to the Russian fleet by Germany. The German government then enquired about the coaling of the Russian fleet from General von Trotha, the Commander of the German troops in the Herero and Hottentot wars.
When the Russian Fleet visited Lüderitz and Dar-es-salam, by Dr. Hans Schmiedel, was part of the SWA Annual 1975 / SWA Jaarboek 1975 / SWA Jahrbuch 1975.
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