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  • Ihor Agafonikov

The death of the HMS TIGER and the burial of 4 British seamen at port of Odessa in 1854


On 11 May 1854, Tiger, the screw sloop Niger, and paddle-wheel sloop Vesuvius were detached to cruise off Odessa. Tiger became separated from her consorts in thick fog. At around 6 a.m. on the 12th she grounded on the shore about five miles south-west of Odessa. She fired guns to attract the attention of the other ships, without result. She then launched her boats and streamed her anchors in an attempt to re-float herself, and also jettisoned all but one of her guns to lighten the ship. Around 9 a.m. a battery of Russian field artillery opened fire from the cliffs above the ship. Within ten minutes Tiger was on fire in two places, and the Captain and several others had been severely wounded. In this hopeless position, Tiger was compelled to surrender, but not before her crew attempted to burn her. The crew were taken as prisoners to Odessa, and with the appearance of the Niger and Vesuvius a few hours later the Russians, fearing that Tiger might be recovered, opened fire upon her, and succeeded in blowing her up.Some sources suggested that the Tiger was later salved by the Russians and commissioned by them under the name Tigr; but this is untrue and due to a misreading of Russian naval records; in fact the frigate's engines were salvaged and installed in the Russian royal yacht Tigr.

Captain Giffard lost his left leg, and later developed gangrene, from which he died on 1 June. He was buried at Odessa with full military honours on 2 June. A midshipman, two seamen, and a boy also died from their wounds, while three other wounded men recovered.




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