"Generosity" of the British spy

Discussion in 'Military History' started by happy, Oct 5, 2013.

  1. happy

    happy Senior Member Senior Member

    Mar 12, 2013
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    Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh
    The twelfth chapter of the Great Game is dedicated to two secret agents: the Russian captain Grombchevsky and the British captain Younghusband.

    In the autumn of 1889, a small group of Russian agents, consisting of six Cossacks and an officer - Captain Bronislav Grombchevsky, worked its way forward through the snow-covered passes of the Pamirs, leaving behind hundreds of kilometers of difficult roads. The group had already done a topographic survey of many areas in High Asia that were not so easily accessible. Captain Grombchevsky was the first Russian explorer who described the Nagar River Valley in the basin of the river Indus. Traversing more than two thousand kilometers through the Pamirs, he was watching from the north summit K2, the northernmost high mountain and determined its height as 8799 meters Grombchevsky gave her a Russian name - the "Tsarevich Nikolai peak."

    In October 1889, the Russian squad came across the British expedition led by Captain Francis Younghusband in one of the mountain tracts. The meeting of the Russian and British intelligence agents near the border of Kashmir was peaceful, if not friendly. The two captains - Russian and English - were people of the same stock. It's hard to say who they were in actual practice - scientists who endeavoured to enrich the world by the results of their research, or adventurers, or imperial agents to match the legendary Briton Lawrence of Arabia. Obsessed with a passion for travel, both of them were willing to take any risk in the interests of their country. But the interests of the two empires, competing for influence in Asia, were not the same. Younghusband had to counter the achievements of the Russian officer. The name and business of Grombchevsky were already well-known to the British intelligence, says the military historian and retired Colonel Andrey Nikolaev:

    "In 1885, Gromchevsky as a senior official on special assignments under the military governor of Fergana region explored Kashgar and the border areas of the Tien Shan. In 1886 he led an expedition across Central Tien Shan and the Naryn River Basin. For this expedition he was awarded the silver medal of the Russian Geographical Society. In 1888, Grombchevsky began exploring the Pamirs. He investigated and described part of the Hindu Kush, the source of the Indus River, part of Mustag, the basins of the Darya and Kashgar range. On the watershed of Yurunkash and Karakash he discovered a previously unknown ridge, which he called the Yurunkash pass at a height of 5790 m. These surveys eventually led to the profiles of the system of rivers of the Upper Yarkand. For these expeditions Grombchevsky was awarded the Gold Medal of the Imperial Russian Geographical Society and was elected its full member"

    The British called Bronislav Grombchevsky "formidable". "A man of gigantic stature and Herculean physique, who covered the entire Pamirs with a small Cossack escort and suddenly appeared at the doorsteps of British India" - so wrote the "Times" about him in 1891.

    By that time, captain Grombchevsky had already toured the Pamir Mountains in 1888 on an expedition. He managed to reach Kanjut, located near the "entrance" to the then British Kashmir. Now this place is called Hunza. “It was my fortune” - wrote in his diary the Russian spy – “to fulfill the flattering task – I was the first Russian to pass through the Hindu Kush". It is noteworthy that in some mountainous regions of the Pamirs, as Grombchevsky noted, Russian coins issued in the period 1750-1828 were in circulation. And they were all given the common name "paisa".

    During the stay of Captain Grombchevsky in Kanjut, Mir Safdar Ali Khan, the ruler of this mountain principality, expressed a desire to take Russian citizenship. He handed the Russian officer a message addressed to the emperor and the Turkestan Governor-General.
    This was not acceptable to the British. Captain Younghusband was charged to wean Kanjut from Russia and negotiate with the Chinese on a joint opposition "expansion from the north". The British officer was also no stranger to the Asian highlands. In the years 1886-1887 he had crossed Central Asia from Beijing to Yarkand. Along the way, he explored the Muztagh range in the South Pamir and Karakoram. Subsequently he carried out two more expeditions to the Pamirs. By the way, the action of Younghusband significantly contributed to the escalation of the Pamir crisis in 1890s.

    Encountering Grombchevsky in the mountains, the Englishman told him that the British authorities would not allow Russian troop to spend winter in Kashmir, and advised him to return to Kashgar using the shorter path through Tibet. Younghusband was kind enough to even recommend the most convenient route for the Russian detachment. Grombchevsky believed his British counterpart, only to regret bitterly afterwards on several occasions.

    The route recommended by Younghusband led to sure death. It was a road from "nowhere to nowhere," as the British intelligence agent later boasted to his superiors.

    “... A route of absolutely no importance, leading from nowhere to nowhere, and passing over very elevated plateaux and mountains without grass or fuel, and to cross which in winter will cause him extreme hardship and loss to his party”

    "It was so cold that the tears brought by the wind froze on the eyelashes without having time to roll down. There was no snow. All springs were frozen," wrote Grombchevsky while reminiscing about his disastrous campaign. Every night a few horses froze to death. "It seemed that we were freezing, and there was no hope for the expedition to survive», - Grombchevsky recalled. They had to turn back and get to Kashgar using another way. All members of the expedition were badly frostbitten. And Grombchevsky was forced to use crutches for several months after this campaign.

    Soon Gromchevsky and Younghusband met again. In late May, their second meeting was held in Yarkand (a city in Kashgar). Gromchevsky could admonish the Englishman for his advice, but he said nothing about the circumstances that nearly ruined his expedition.

    In August 1891 Francis Younghusband was arrested on the Russian territory by the Russian detachment of Colonel Mikhail Ionov. The Englishman’s intrigue that almost ruined Gromchevsky’s squad caused indignation among the Russian officers. This meeting with Russians could very well be the last for Younghusband. But the Russian colonel was nobler than the British captain. We will find out the details in the next part of our description.

    ….To be continued

    Read more: "Generosity" of the British spy - News - Society - Russian Radio

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