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Tag Archives: died

Man dies in Leicester fire engine crash

Leicester Lubbesthorpe Way crash fire engineImage copyright Craig Thorpe/Leicester Media
Image caption One 26-year-old has died and another has been taken to hospital

A man has died in a crash involving a car and a fire engine.

The silver BMW collided with the Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service on southbound carriageway of the A563 Lubbesthorpe Way at 05:00 BST

The 26-year-old BMW driver was taken to the Leicester Royal Infirmary, where he died shortly afterwards.

A passenger, also 26, is being treated at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire for non life-threatening injuries.

Pictures from the scene of the crash show extensive damage to the car.

The road was closed by police in both directions, with a diversion put in place.

Image copyright Craig Thorpe/Leicester Media
Image caption The crash involving the BMW and a fire engine happened at about 05:00, police said
Image copyright Craig Thorpe/Leicester Media
Image caption A passenger in the BMW has been taken to hospital with injuries police said were not life-threatening
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Actress Rosemary Leach dies after ‘short illness’

Rosemary Leach as the Queen in "Margaret", a BBC drama about Margaret Thatcher
Image caption Rosemary Leach played the Queen in Margaret, a BBC drama about Margaret Thatcher

Actress Rosemary Leach, best known for her roles in the films A Room With A View and That’ll Be The Day, has died, her agent has said.

Leach, who also played Grace in episodes of the sitcom My Family, died in hospital after a “short illness”, Caroline de Wolfe said in a statement.

The stage and screen actress, 81, won an Olivier Award in 1982 for her part in the play 84 Charing Cross Road.

She was also twice nominated for a Bafta award as best supporting actress.

Leach is survived by her actor husband, Colin Starkey.

Image caption Rosemary Leach appeared alongside Ronnie Corbett in Now Look Here, in the 1970s
Image caption She again starred alongside Corbett in the 1974 series The Prince of Denmark
Image caption Leach again played Queen Elizabeth II in the 2005 series Tea with Betty

Bradford baby death: Woman arrested on suspicion of murder

Barkerend Road, Bradford
Image caption West Yorkshire Police was called to Barkerend Road, Bradford, at about 17.10 BST

A woman has been arrested on suspicion of murder after an 18-month-old baby fell from a sixth-floor window and died.

Police were called to Barkerend Road, Bradford, at about 17:10 BST on Saturday. Officers said it “quickly became apparent” the boy had died.

A 23-year-old woman arrested on suspicion of murder is receiving medical assessment in custody.

West Yorkshire Police said it was an “extremely traumatic incident”.

Det Supt Nick Wallen said: “Specially trained officers are working to support the child’s family members and those who witnessed what took place.

“It is no exaggeration to say those who witnessed this incident will have been deeply traumatised by what they saw.”

Police said they are not looking for anyone else in connection with the death.

A crime scene remains in place at the scene as inquiries continue.

Woman, 23, arrested on suspicion of murder after 18-month-old baby falls to his death

A woman has been arrested on suspicion of murder after an 18-month-old baby fell to his death from a sixth floor flat window. 

Officers were called to Newcastle House, Barkerend at about 5.10pm following a report that an 18-month old male had suffered life threatening injuries at an address there.

Emergency services attended and it quickly became apparent a child had died at the scene after falling from a window on the 6th floor, West Yorkshire Police said. 

A full crime scene was established and enquiries are continuing.

Detective Superintendent Nick Wallen, who is leading the investigation, said: “This is clearly an extremely traumatic incident and specially trained officers are working to support the child’s family members and those who witnessed what took place.

“ It is no exaggeration to say those who witnessed this incident will have been deeply traumatised by what they saw.

“A 23-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with the baby’s fall and she is currently receiving medical assessment in custody.

“Although we are not looking for anyone else in connection with this incident I would like to speak to anyone who may have witnessed what took place or have information who has not yet come forwards.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Homicide and Major Enquiry Team on 101, quoting reference number 1506 of October 21, 2017.

Titanic letter sells for world record price at auction

Titanic letter being auctionedImage copyright Henry Aldridge & Son
Image caption The letter was written by Oscar Holverson to his mother

One of the last known letters to have been written on the Titanic has sold for a world record price at auction.

The letter, written by American businessman and Titanic passenger, Oscar Holverson, fetched £126,000.

It was sought-after because he wrote it on 13 April 1912 – the day before the Belfast-built ship hit an iceberg.

It is the only known letter, on headed Titanic notepaper, to have gone into the Atlantic and survived.

The sea-water stained document was sold to a British buyer, whose bid to the auction in Wiltshire came in via phone.

The auctioneer, Andrew Aldridge, described the anonymous customer as someone “who collects iconic items from history“.

Mr Holverson, a successful salesman, wrote the letter to his mother while travelling on the ill-fated ship with his wife, Mary.

The couple boarded the Titanic in Southampton and planned to travel back to their home in New York.

Image copyright Henry Aldridge & Son
Image caption Oscar Holverson was a successful American businessman

In his note, the writer seems in awe of his surroundings, telling his mother that “the boat is giant in size and fitted up like a palatial hotel”.

Mr Holverson, who has an idiosyncratic style to his syntax, also writes about seeing “the richest person in the world at that time” – John Jacob Astor – on the ship, accompanied by his wife.

“He looks like any other human being even tho (sic) he has millions of money,” he adds. “They sit out on deck with the rest of us.”

The letter had a reserve price of between £60,000 and £80,000.

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s sale, Mr Aldridge said that “even if the letter was virtually blank, it would still rank as amongst the most desirable, such is the nature of the paper, its markings and history“.

Having been an auctioneer of Titanic memorabilia for 20 years, he said that its content takes it to another level, “because of its date, the fact it went into the Atlantic and the observations it contains”.

One prophetic entry in Mr Holverson’s letter never came true, when he wrote: “If all goes well we will arrive in New York Wednesday AM.”

When the Titanic sank, Oscar Holverson, along with JJ Astor, died along with more than 1,500 people.

Mary Holverson survived.

Her husband’s body was recovered and, inside a pocket book, the letter was found.

It still bears the stains of the sea water and the water mark of the White Star shipping line.

The letter eventually made its way back to his mother.

Mr Aldridge said that makes it “possibly, the only onboard letter written by a victim that was delivered to its recipient without postage”.

Image copyright Henry Aldridge & Son
Image caption The letter still bears the stains of the sea and the water mark of the White star shipping line

Mr Holverson was buried in Woodlawn cemetery in New York, unaware that, 105 years later, his unposted letter would generate such interest.

Mr Aldridge, who has auctioned everything from a set of Titanic keys for £85,000, to a violin that was played as the ship sank, for £1.1m, said he was also excited to see the letter.

He said it was “one of the most iconic and important items from the Titanic ever offered at auction and shows that interest in the ship and its passengers remains incredibly strong”.

Other items in Saturday’s auction included a set of keys belonging to a steward in the Titanic’s First Class, which fetched £76,000.

Two previously unpublished photos of the Titanic went for £24,000.

The previous world record for a Titanic letter sold at auction was £119,000, set in April 2014, for a letter written a few hours before the ship hit the iceberg.

More work needs to be done to improve rail crossing safety

IT’S A parent’s worst fear that one day their child might not come home.

Waiting anxiously for the turn of the key in the lock, the dumping of the school bag in the hallway, the shout of “What’s for tea?” is a ritual that most mums and dads endure daily as part of the rigours of bringing up a child.

Unless it’s happened to you, it’s impossible to imagine the pain and distress of finding that moment has been lost forever.

So the hearts of a whole community must have gone out to the family of 16-year-old Aidan Mazurke who was killed when he was hit by a train on a level crossing late on Monday night.

Aidan was pronounced dead after police and paramedics were called to the scene at Kildwick crossing, near Crosshills, Keighley.

Aidan’s family issued a statement which showed their grief was all too raw: “Yesterday our lives changed forever when we lost Aidan. He was a loving son, brother and grandson and it is going to take a long time for this to seem real.

“Aidan was a loving son, a fantastic brother and a loved grandson and we know how much he meant to his friends, family and everyone who came into contact with him.”

It will be no consolation to Aidan’s family to hear that deaths on level crossings are, thankfully, becoming increasingly rare.

In fact, there were just four pedestrians across Britain killed after being struck by a train in the whole of 2016-17. The figure was the same as the previous year although two people also died after their vehicles were hit by trains on levels crossings last year.

The 2016-17 figure was a big improvement on the 11 who died in 2014-15 and the peak of 13 deaths in 2009-10.

Even so, the fatalities were not the only victims: there were also six major injuries at level crossings last year. Two were slips, trips and falls, two involved members of the public striking or being struck by level crossing barriers, one was a member of the public struck by a train, and one was the driver of a tractor that was struck by a train.

There were a further 77 reported minor injuries and 39 reports of shock or trauma, mainly among train drivers involved in incidents or near misses.

It’s clear from these official figures, from the train companies’ Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), that level crossings on our railways remain far from completely safe.

“The industry has had a sustained focus on addressing level crossing risk over recent years,” says George Bearfield, director of system safety and health at RSSB.

This had included closing some crossings and the introduction of new technology to improve safety at automatic barriers.

“As measures have been systematically implemented, there are indications that the residual risk now increasingly lies with vulnerable parties and those who find difficulty in using level crossings,” said Mr Bearfield. “For instance, one of the fatalities – in October – was to an elderly passenger who was using a mobility scooter.”

He said safety improvements across the network were the result of co-ordinated activity and more work was underway.

The UK’s independent regulator, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), clearly believes there is much more to be done, however.

There are approximately 8,000 level crossings in Great Britain, about 6,500 of which are managed by Network Rail. (The rest are located on heritage railways, metro systems and industrial railways.)

The ORR says almost half of all deaths and serious injuries on Britain’s railways occur at level crossings: “We believe that the safe design, management and operation of level crossings can reduce the risks, have a positive effect on user behaviour and so reduce the number of fatal and serious incidents.

“We expect level crossing risks to be appropriately controlled. We encourage innovative solutions to level crossing problems.

“In all cases a risk assessment will need to show that due consideration has been given to safety and that risks have been reduced so far as reasonably practicable.

“Where level crossings cannot be removed but are being renewed or altered, every effort should be made to improve the crossing and reduce risk to both crossing and railway users.

“Certain types of crossing design, particularly automatic types, whilst fit for purpose when road and rail traffic use was lower, have been more likely to be misused with potentially high consequences when collisions occur.”

ORR’s Director of Safety, Ian Prosser, says the industry still needs to do more.

Great Britain‘s level crossings, although among the safest in Europe, still pose a significant safety risk to the public,” he said.

“ORR wants the rail industry to close level crossings. Where this is impracticable, we are pushing the industry to deliver innovative solutions such as using new technology to make crossings safe.

“ORR inspects level crossings to check that legal safety requirements are being met. Where failings are found, immediate action is taken to ensure the crossing is made safe.”

The ORR itself is under scrutiny to make changes happen. In 2014, the House of Commons Transport Committee tasked it with adopting “an explicit target of zero fatalities at level crossings from 2020.”

Part of the rail network’s armoury in improving level crossing safety is public education and there is a huge amount of safety guidance and advise available on the websites of both the RSSB and ORR as well as that of Network Rail.

In fact, any parent concerned that their children may have to use level crossings could do worse than show them the Crossing Over film featured on Network Rail’s website.

Aimed at children over the age of 12, the five-minute video was filmed at the school attended by two young girls, Olivia Bazlinton and Charlotte Thompson, who were killed on a crossing in 2005.

It shows the dangers at level crossings and features a poignant interview with Tina Hughes, Olivia’s mother, which illustrates all too clearly the horrific effect of level crossing accidents.

It’s important to say that we don’t yet know the full circumstances of Aidan Mazurke’s death and such impactful guidance is, tragically, too late for his family. But, perhaps, while rail safety work goes on, there’s still time to avoid the devastation for untold numbers of other parents.

Dark past

Wartime prisoners in AlderneyImage copyright Alderney Museum
Image caption Four major camps operated in Alderney between 1942 and 1944, named after the German North Sea Islands Helgoland, Borkum, Norderney, and Sylt

The western-most concentration camp in the Third Reich, Lager Sylt, was located on British soil – only about 70 miles south of Bournemouth on the island of Alderney. Should this camp and other relics of the Channel Islands’ occupation by Nazi Germany be developed into tourist attractions?

Arrive in Alderney at its small and ageing airport and you will see an island map, pointing out Victorian forts, a Roman nunnery and World War Two coastal defences.

There is, however, no mention of the four wartime camps that housed thousands of slave labourers, many of whom died as part of Nazi Germany‘s attempts to turn Alderney into a fortress island.

Image copyright Alderney Museum/Trevor Davenport
Image caption Workers were kept in conditions of “deliberate inhumanity” with beatings, disease, and starvation rife, according to a post-war report

It is these locations that Marcus Roberts, director of the National Anglo-Jewish Heritage Trail, believes should be developed as “sites of memory”, in part to boost the island’s flagging tourism industry.

“Alderney is perhaps the best place to go to understand the realities of the Nazi slave labour system,” he said.

“People could go and understand what the consequences of tyranny are and the mistreatment of other people.

“I think there’s a role for respectable tourism, which would be part of the overall tourism strategy for the island.”


Alderney occupation

Image caption V1 rockets were developed in nearby Cherbourg
  • Demilitarised in 1940, along with other Channel Islands
  • Occupied by German forces in July 1940
  • The most heavily fortified Channel Island as part of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall
  • Nearly all of Alderney’s population was evacuated to England
  • Four labour camps were established – named after the German islands Borkum, Helgoland, Norderney and Sylt

Mr Roberts believes there were significantly more forced labourers on Alderney than post-war reports stated, including about 10,000 predominantly French Jews.

Albert Eblagon survived Norderney and described to Israeli journalist Solomon Steckoll in an account published in 1982 how fellow prisoners were beaten and starved to death.

Some aged over 70, they worked up to 14 hours each day building the island’s fortifications.

“Every day there were beatings, and people‘s bones were broken, their arms or their legs,” he recalled.

“People died from overwork. We were starved and worked to death; so many died from total exhaustion.”

The number of his fellow prisoners and forced labourers who did not survive has been contested, ranging from an official post-war report that stated 389 deaths, to as many as 70,000.

Image copyright Marcus Roberts
Image caption Marcus Roberts says his research has shown a greater number of Jews were killed on occupied Alderney than has been previously estimated

Focusing on this traumatic past led to Mr Roberts being accused of promoting Alderney as a “bone-yard” and making it less attractive to visitors.

In response, he wrote a letter to the Alderney Journal in June defending his research and pointing to nearby northern France where military cemeteries are popular tourist attractions.

The number of people travelling to and from the island by air has fallen by more than a quarter in the 10 years to 2016, although there was a slight rise in summer 2017 compared to the year before.

But developing the island’s former Nazi sites for visitors is something States of Alderney Vice President Ian Tugby is against.

“We’re supposed to be a lovely island, going forward,” he said.

“I’m more interested in the future, basically, than what’s gone on in the past, because the past is gone.

“We can’t change it, and do we want to continue to drag up the downside of what went on in Alderney all those years ago?”

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Image caption The entrance posts of Lager Sylt, the western-most concentration camp in the Third Reich

Alderney’s camps

The four major camps were run by the Todt Organisation, responsible for Nazi Germany’s military and civic engineering.

Sylt, the only concentration camp, was taken over by the SS Baubrigade in 1943, part of the so-called death’s head formation, which ran concentration camps.

More than 40,000 camps and incarceration sites were established by the Nazis across Europe for forced labour, detention – and mass murder.

Alderney inmates were predominantly Russian, and comprised of prisoners of war, forced labourers, “volunteers” from Germany and occupied countries, Jews, and political prisoners.

Helgoland and Norderney, today a campsite, both had the capacity for 1,500 forced labourers.

Borkum housed specialist craftsmen, many ordered there from either Germany or occupied countries, with between 500 and 1,000 prisoners at the site.

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Mr Tugby’s voting record in the island’s parliament suggests he is serious.

In 2015, he and fellow Alderney-born politician Louis Jean were the only two politicians to vote against designating Lager Sylt a conservation area.

Economic independence for the island, reliant on its larger neighbour Guernsey, lies in approving a £500m electricity cable project linking France and Britain through the island, not in promoting its wartime occupation, Mr Tugby said.

Image caption The FAB Link project will run through a conservation area, at Longis Common, but developers say the cable would avoid known World War Two burial sites
Image caption Graham McKinley voted in favour of Lager Sylt becoming a conservation site, and would like the dark past of the three other island forced labour camps to be made more apparent to visitors

However, fellow politician Graham McKinley, who voted in favour of Sylt being protected, would like to see a similar memorial to the one at Sylt (pictured above) at the three other forced labour sites, including Lager Norderney, the largest, which is today home to Alderney’s campsite.

“There should be some sort of memorial put up there, and some sort of indication that that was happening.”

People would visit sites like these, he said, if they were more aware of the island’s “unique wartime interest”.

“Look at the prisoner-of-war camps in Poland and in Germany which attract an enormous amount of visitors every year and bring in much-needed revenue,” he said.

“We need that sort of thing.”

Image copyright Alderney Museum/Trevor Davenport
Image caption Alderney’s population was evacuated ahead of its occupation, with few local eyewitnesses to what happened in the island’s camps

Unlike with the island’s plentiful occupation-era coastal defences, there is little remaining of the forced labour sites, except for entrance gates and the odd structure.

Sylt is protected after Alderney’s government designated it a conservation area in 2015, while the other three sites could yet be afforded similar protection under a plan awaiting government approval.

The 2017 Land Use Plan would see the sites where the forced labour camps stood, and other locations of wartime significance, registered as heritage assets.

Only development that is “sensitive to the former use and history of these assets” would be permitted at the wartime sites, under the plan.

Image copyright States of Alderney
Image caption Various parts of Alderney, highlighted in purple, have been identified as “unregistered heritage assets of significant value”

Such protection is long overdue, according to Trevor Davenport, author of Festung Alderney, a book on German defences on the island.

Despite a long association with protecting World War Two sites, Mr Davenport does not, however, want to see former forced labour sites developed for visitors.

“I have no objection to people being made aware of the labour camps,” he said.

“But it is not, unless you are a ghoul, a heritage issue that needs promoting, except as part of the overall occupation story.”

Image caption The Alderney Museum in St Anne is home to a small section telling the story of the island’s forced workers

Certainly, the island’s tourism body Visit Alderney is reluctant to promote this part of the island’s history above any other.

“Our tourism focus remains on the historical importance and education of all our heritage periods,” a spokeswoman said.

“The local population are respectful of our past whatever the historical period.

“Promoting tourism and respectful memoriam should not be confused.”

Image caption Former forced labour camp Norderney is today home to Alderney’s campsite
Image caption The Hammond Memorial overlooking Longis Common contains tributes in many languages to those who died constructing this small section of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall

But for Marcus Roberts, encouraging people to come to Alderney to consider what happened there during the Nazi occupation makes sense both financially and morally.

Not only was this important for the descendents of Nazi Germany’s victims, he said, but also for the historical record.

“It’s not just an island matter; it does affect people literally from around the world.

“Each person who died was someone’s family, someone’s son, and all lives are valuable.”

‘Death Island’

Marina Titova lays a carnation on a grave stone on Mudyug IslandImage copyright Aleksey Suhanovsky
Image caption Marina Titova lays a carnation in memory of her great-great-uncle who died on Mudyug

When British soldiers were sent to Russia after the Russian Revolution their main enemies were the Germans and their allies – their opponents in World War One – but they also found themselves fighting and imprisoning Bolsheviks. In the process they opened the first concentration camp on Russian soil – a place that became known as “Death Island”.

The boat sails down the River Dvina past onion-domed churches, lumber yards and logs floating in the water. Finally it reaches the open sea and an hour later a brown smudge appears on the horizon.

Getting closer, I can make out a lighthouse and a few radio towers. As my companions and I jump off the boat and walk along a deserted beach a pack of dogs surrounds us, barking furiously. They are not used to visitors. The only people who live on this remote spot today are border guards and a couple of meteorologists.

A dilapidated watchtower and barbed wire on Mudyug islandImage copyright Kirill Iodas

Back in the Soviet era, boatloads of day trippers came to the island of Mudyug to visit a museum. It was located among the remains of a prison camp – one very different from the scores of old Gulag outposts scattered across the Russian north and Siberia. For one thing, it was set up as far back as 1918. Even more remarkably, the people in charge were were British and French.

My colleague Natalia Golysheva, who grew up in the regional capital, Arkhangelsk – Archangel as it used to be known in English – says the place had a fearsome reputation. Locals called it Death Island.

“When I was little, people said if you don’t behave, the Whites will come and take you to Mudyug,” she says. “I didn’t understand but when I tried to ask questions – ‘What is Mudyug? Who are the Whites?’ – my grandmother just said shush and turned her face away, meaning the conversation was over.”

Map showing south of Mudyug Island with locator

The Whites were the anti-Bolshevik forces that emerged after the October Revolution in 1917. They got the name from the cream-coloured uniforms worn by higher ranks in the Tsarist army. Some were reactionary military officers who wanted to bring back the monarchy, others were moderate socialists, reformers, tradesmen, fishermen or peasants.

When the Bolsheviks seized power in the autumn of 1917, Russia was still fighting in World War One, allied with Britain, France and the US against the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary and their Ottoman allies.

However, Lenin had come to power promising supporters not only bread to eat and a share of the aristocrats’ land, but also peace. When he signed a peace treaty with Germany, Western governments acted rapidly to re-open this eastern front.

Troops lining up in ArkhangelskImage copyright Lord Ironside
Image caption British and French troops lining up in Arkhangelsk in 1917

Within months, tens of thousands of soldiers from Britain, the United States, France, Canada, Australia and other countries were ordered to Russia in what became known as the Allied Intervention. Some went to the south and far east of Russia and 14,000 troops under British command were sent to Arkhangelsk, near the Arctic Circle. The men were told their mission was to protect military stores and stop Germany from establishing a submarine base.

But the foreign troops also took the side of the Whites in Russia’s nascent Civil War. Some European politicians, such as Winston Churchill, worried about Communism spreading across Europe.

Soon after the Allies docked in Arkhangelsk on 2 August 1918, they began locking people up. “They didn’t know who to trust or the difference between the Reds and Whites – so they decided to incarcerate anyone who seemed suspect,” says Liudmila Novikova, a Moscow-based historian who has become an expert on the post-revolutionary period in the Russian north.

Since the main prison in the town was overcrowded, potential troublemakers were shipped to the island of Mudyug, 70km (45 miles) away. The first batch of inmates had to build their own prison camp in this desolate, windswept place.

Bolshevik prisoners lined up in the prison camp on Mudyug islandImage copyright Library of Congress
Image caption Bolshevik prisoners in the prison camp on Mudyug island

We walk along the beach past a rickety watchtower before taking a path through a pine forest. It leads to some wooden barracks with rusty barbed wire on the windows.

The door opens with a creak and we are inside a long dormitory with hundreds of beds, divided by panels of wood. Each seems as narrow as a coffin.

Marina Titova, a young museum guide from Arkhangelsk who has joined us on the trip, sits on one of the beds, lost in thought.

A dormitory where some of the prisoners would have slept 100 years agoImage copyright Kirill Iodas

Her great-great-uncle Fyodor Oparin, a roofer, had been at the front fighting the Germans in World War One. He was only briefly reunited with his wife and small daughter before he was arrested and sent to Mudyug, accused of recruiting the men in his village into the Red Army.

With few washing facilities and no change of clothes, inmates soon became infested with lice. Typhus spread like wildfire. Overall, about 1,000 people were imprisoned here and up to 300 died – either as a result of disease, or because they were shot or tortured to death.

When we visit it is a muggy summer afternoon and the air is thick with midges. I dread to think what it would be like here during an Arctic winter when temperatures can reach -30C (-22F). Signs from the now abandoned museum point out the “ice cells”, left open to the elements, where rebellious prisoners were punished and either perished or lost limbs to frostbite.

Pavel Rasskazov, a radical journalist, spent several months on Mudyug. In his Prison Memoirs, which became a well-known and much-studied text in the Soviet era, he documented the appalling conditions and the lack of food.

He describes how, when dried bread was distributed in the morning, “starving, angry men with greedy eyes crawled all over the filthy, damp floor, full of spit, picking up each and every crumb”.

Rasskazov managed to survive this place, unlike Marina’s relative, Fyodor Oparin. According to one account, he tried to escape but was too weak to move fast and was shot as he ran. In another version of events, he was caught and executed the following day, along with 13 other prisoners.

Fyodor Oparin with his wife, Marina
Image caption Fyodor Oparin with his wife, Marina

Under some fir trees Marina has found a commemorative plaque to the men killed trying to escape. As she places two red carnations on the crumbling stone, a cloud of mist swirls through the trees and a soft rain falls.

“Perhaps it was just a coincidence,” she says later. “But it seemed like a greeting from the past, and maybe those prisoners who suffered here, who tried to survive, could see that they were being remembered.”

In Soviet times these men were remembered more often. On a small hill by the camp, there is a 25m-high obelisk adorned with a red star and hammer and sickle. Some chunks of granite have fallen off but you can still read the inscription which says it was built “in honour of patriots tortured to death by the Interventionists”.

A memorial that reads: 'Glory to the patriots tortured by the intervention forces on the island of Mudyug'Image copyright Kirill Iodas

“This monument could be seen by all the ships sailing past,” says historian Liudmila Novikova. “Foreign sailors who came to Arkhangelsk were often taken to Mudyug to remind them of all the atrocities their fellow countrymen and governments committed here.”

Schoolchildren and factory workers also came on visits.

Near the monument, we find a run-down hall with dusty glass cases, peeling red posters on the walls and photographs of the “martyrs who gave their lives for the Revolution” or died here on the island, which is described in the inscriptions as a concentration camp.

Boatloads of day-trippers once came to MudyugImage copyright Kirill Iodas

There are pictures of Gen Edmund Ironside, the British commander of all the Allied troops in the region. Novikova says he would have known what was happening on the island even if he never visited.

This is confirmed by an entry in the leather-bound notebooks he kept in Russia, now in the possession of his 93-year-old son.

“Scurvy seems to be beginning among the Russian prisoners on Mudyug Island… and as it is a difficult place to get to, rations have been pinched,” the general writes.

Gen Ironside's diary

If the British established the camp and some of those in charge were French, many guards seem to have been local men. “We cannot have a scandalous camp,” he writes. “I am responsible that the Russians treat their people well. I am always after them over the state of the prison.”

But Novikova says improving conditions on Mudyug was hardly a priority for Ironside. “For him it was just a necessary security measure, and after all people were fighting and dying every day on all the fronts. So if prisoners in the rear were dying from bad conditions, that was just a drop in the ocean of suffering here.”

The treatment of prisoners on Mudyug horrified one man who would later play a devastating role in northern Russia. A prominent Bolshevik close to Lenin, Mikhail Kedrov, was sent to Arkhangelsk after the October revolution and later became became a fanatical regional head of the Cheka – the secret police.

Alexander Orlov, a fellow Chekist who later defected to Canada, recalls Kedrov as a tall handsome man with ragged black hair. He writes that his eyes were often “gleaming like burning coal… possibly these were the sparks of madness”.

Russian teenagers on a visit to Mudyug island during the Soviet eraImage copyright Library of Congress
Citizens were encouraged to visit Mudyug island during the Soviet eraImage copyright Library of Congress
Image caption Soviet citizens were encouraged to visit the Mudyug prison camp

While the Red Terror was not mentioned in the USSR for decades, the crimes of the White forces were endlessly listed in official propaganda. Atrocities were committed on both sides, says historian Liudmila Novikova, but the scale was different.

“The Whites and Allies who supported them were mainly pragmatic. They wanted to kill those who undermined their effort, troops who rebelled or members of the Bolshevik underground – they didn’t care about eliminating their enemies totally. It was quite different on Red side because they were waging a war against the old regime – the bourgeoisie, Tsarist officers and whole classes were perceived as enemies who had to be liquidated,” she says.


Find out more

Prisoners endured freezing conditions on Mudyug islandImage copyright Kirill Iodas

Lucy Ash tells the story of the forgotten war fought by Western troops in Arctic Russia in The Red and the White, on the BBC World Service

Click here for transmission times, or to listen online


Mikhail Kedrov set up a number of death camps in the North, including the first one of its kind, in Kholmogory, an hour’s drive from Arkhangelsk.

Somewhere between 3,000 and 8,000 people were imprisoned and killed at a 17th Century convent. Many were White Army officers and sailors from the Kronstadt naval fortress near Finland who had rebelled against the Bolsheviks. But others had nothing to do with the military. Some were clergy, some were ordinary people who for some reason had been labelled “counter-revolutionaries”.

At Kholmogory, where much of the convent is now held up by scaffolding and wrapped in corrugated iron, I met Elena, a parishioner who sings in the convent choir. She says people in the area sometimes find skulls when they dig pits to store potatoes over the winter.

Elena says the priest and volunteers collected some human remains in sacks and buried them under a marble cross on one side of the Cathedral of the Transfiguration. Each year they sing a requiem for those who died.

It’s hard to pinpoint but there is an oppressive atmosphere which clings to this place, like the cold to the refectory walls when Elena invites us inside for a cup of tea.

Locals use the path through the garden as a shortcut across the town but Elena says few know – or care – about Kholmogory’s terrible history.

Does she believe the Allied Intervention was the catalyst for Russia’s devastating civil war, as Lenin and others have often claimed?

“I remember in my childhood hearing stories from my granny,” she says. “I was a Young Pioneer and I told her the Reds were good and the Whites were bad and the Intervention troops were bad. And my granny said ‘What are you talking about? The English came to our village, they brought us white flour, they gave the children sweets.’ And I said: ‘Granny – that is impossible they are our enemies!'”

Elena shakes her head. “They were not our enemies and to say they were responsible for the civil war is wrong. Of course not! We had enough of our own scoundrels without the intervention troops.”


Mudyug and Chanel

A bottle of Chanel No5Image copyright Alamy

The radical journalist, Pavel Rasskazov, who documented his ordeal on Mudyug island, describes a French-Russian officer and former businessman from Moscow, a man “of medium height, stout, with a round, flabby face, like a bulldog”.

Ernest Beaux was actually a perfumer who concocted scents for the tsar’s family – such as the “Bouquet de Napoleon”. But in 1918 he was working as a counter-intelligence officer on Mudyug, interrogating Bolsheviks captured by the White Russian and Allied armies.

By the end of the year, Beaux had emigrated to France, where a cousin of Nicholas II introduced him to the couturier, Coco Chanel. He has gone down in history as the man who invented Chanel No5. According to some accounts he wanted to capture the essence of snow melting on black earth and as inspired by his time in the “land of the midnight sun” – the Russian Arctic.

Further reading:

Viewpoint: 10 big myths about World War One debunked

WW1: Was it really the first world war?

Did Britain try to assassinate Lenin?

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The ‘silent raid’

Wrecked homes in Hither GreenImage copyright Imperial War Museum
Image caption Three homes were ruined and many others damaged in Glenview Road, Hither Green

On an October night 100 years ago, seven 300lb bombs fell through the clouds above London.

One killed seven people on landing in a street in Piccadilly. Ten more died when buildings were hit in Camberwell.

The final bomb landed in Hither Green, south-east London, killing 15 people and destroying homes.

The attack was carried out by a German Zeppelin at the height of World War One, having failed in its original mission.

It would go down in history as the “silent raid”.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Yarmouth was attacked in the first Zeppelin raids on the UK in January 2015

The Zeppelin was among a group of 11 new types that had the ability to go higher than ever before – some 20,000ft.

Its mission was to bomb industrial areas in the north of England. However, gale force winds and freezing temperatures meant none of the 11 would reach the destination.

With its engines switched off the craft – known as L45 – was blown high over the capital.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Outside of London, 376 people were killed and 854 injured by Zeppelin raids

Speaking to the BBC in 1964, executive officer on board at the time of the raid, Karl Schuz, said the temperature on the L45 that night was -8 degrees Celsius.

He said the crew suffered “height sickness” which caused “early fatigue, loss of conscious and the functions of the brain were no longer exact and reliable”.

Describing the raid, he said: “We saw some lights – afterwards darkness. We tried to get wireless bearings from Germany but we couldn’t obtain them.

“Now we saw a searchlight, two searchlights – I counted twenty. And that we guessed it must be London. But no shot, we were unseen, and we could see the Thames.

“Now, running before the wind with a full speed, and we must drop our bombs.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption In the capital 181 people were killed and 504 injured by Zeppelin raids – this is Shoreditch in July 1915

“A Zeppelin flying over London held the same ability to mesmerize as would a UFO appearing over the city today,” aviation historian Ian Castle said.

L45 was 650ft (200m) long. Compare that to the similarly-shaped “Gherkin” skyscraper standing today which is 590ft (180m) tall.

“Words like terror, beauty, fascination, excitement, horror and fear appear equally in contemporary eyewitness accounts,” Mr Castle added.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The length of L45 was 65ft (20m) more than the height of the “Gherkin” tower (seen on the right)

Anti-aircraft guns could be used to bring a Zeppelin down, but on the night of 19 October the guns remained silent as the aircraft passed unnoticed above the clouds.

A Commons hearing about the raid later, would hear that the L45 had been flying out of range of anti-aircraft weapons and firing on it would have given away the position of Britain’s defences.

Image caption An anti-aircraft gun was constructed on One Tree Hill in south-east London

The 300lb (135kg) bomb that fell on Hither Green was the final one to drop on London.

A nearby police officer told an inquest he had heard a “whistling noise” before the massive explosion.

One family, the Kingstons, was virtually wiped out.

At the moment the bomb crashed down, Mary Kingston, a widow, was away briefly from the family home.

The seven children she left behind, aged three to 18, were killed along with her nephew who had been visiting that night.

Days later, the 15 victims were buried in two graves – one for Catholics and the other for Protestants.

A memorial paid for by public subscription was erected. However, over time it weathered and the names partially disappeared.

A new headstone has since been created and it will be officially unveiled on Saturday at Brockley & Ladywell Cemetery.

Image caption The memorial commemorates those who died in Glenview Road along with the victims of a Gotha bomber attack in Sydenham

Tributes to tragic young motorcyclist Matty Tidswell

A FUNDRAISING page has been set up in memory of a young motorcyclist who died after coming off his bike.

Matty Tidswell, 27, from Thorpe Edge, was travelling on Moorside Road, Eccleshill, on Monday when he crashed into a skip close to the junction of Wood View Drive.

He tragically died at the scene.

Close family friend Emma Astwood has now launched the Just Giving page in a bid to help his family with funeral costs.

She said his parents are “truly devastated” by what has happened.

“To us Matty was a ‘brother from another mother,'” she wrote on the page.

“He was the most genuine lad you could meet, he loved to cook, spending lots of time in the kitchen – he made a lovely curry.

“He loved his dogs and liked his Xbox as most young lads do, he had some good friends who will miss him greatly too.

“The last thing Matty’s parents want is to think about burying their son, never mind the cost.

“As we all know having spare money isn’t easily put away, especially for a situation like this.

“Matty deserves the best send off, so we are asking you all please to donate anything you can spare to make this possible for him.”

Readers have left their own messages of condolence on the Telegraph & Argus Facebook page.

Paul Robinson wrote: “RIP to a good lad, son and uncle sadly be missed by loads.”

Mr Robinson also described him as a “decent young lad”.

Debbie Beeson added: “RIP so tragic. Thoughts and prayers with family and friends.”

While Hannah Lord said: “So awful, will miss him everyday. RIP.”

Julie Lofthouse wrote: “So, so sorry to the family who I know dearly. Thoughts are with you all.”

And Shannan Flynn added: “Oh gosh so sad.”

Councillor Geoff Reid (Lib Dem, Eccleshill) said: “We don’t know much about the details.

“It’s very sad that it has happened. We don’t know whether there were any witnesses to what happened or not.”

Fellow ward Councillor Brendan Stubbs (Lib Dem) added: “I don’t have many details other than the police texted me to say they were going to be investigating the crash.

“Obviously my condolences go to his family and friends. They will be suffering right now.”

To donate to the fund, visit: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/emma-astwood

We have opened an online book of condolence for Matty which you can contribute to below. Please note that all messages will be moderated by staff before appearing on the site.