Lendalfoot remembers Russian battleship

Consul General Andrey Pritsepov at the memorial service with South Ayrshire provost Helen Moonie
Consul General Andrey Pritsepov at the memorial service with South Ayrshire provost Helen Moonie

The South Ayrshire village of Lendalfoot continues to mark a very special relationship with the Russian warship Varyag which first put to sea 115 years ago.

The cruiser Varyag ran aground near the village in 1920 and is still a talking point to this day. The warship had a colourful history which is marked each year in a poignant ceremony.

This year, Consul General of Russia, Andrey A.Pritsepov, visited the memorial along with South Ayrshire Provost Helen Moonie to lay a wreath with local residents. Carrick councillors also attended.

The Russian navy regards the Varyag and her crew as heroes as the ship survived numerous attempts to sink her, most notably during the Battle of Chemulpo Bay in 1904 during the Russo-Japanese War. After an exhausting battle which saw 31 men killed and another 191 injured, the crew of the Varyag decided not to surrender, but to sink the ship.

She was later repaired by the Japanese and was eventually sold back to the Russians. In 1920, the indestructible cruiser finally met its match in the form of the South Ayrshire coastline. The British had confiscated the Varyag and she was on her way to be sold for scrap to clear unpaid debts when disaster struck and the ship ran aground.

Commenting on the wreath laying ceremony, Consul General Andrey Pritsepov said: “We wanted to start a tradition and come here each year to pay tribute to the uncrushable spirit and courage of those brave Russian sailors of the legendary Varyag who will remain invincible forever.”

Provost Moonie commented: “I was very glad that Andrey A.Pritsepov could commemorate the Varyag with us; it’s important that both our countries do not forget past conflict and the sacrifices made. The history of the Varyag and her crew are imprinted on the people of South Ayrshire and her tale is one of courage and sheer determination.”

The hull of the ship remained underwater off the South Ayrshire coast for almost 90 years.