Monday, January 28, 2008

When The Russians Didn't Invade Victoria

During the later half of the 19th century email and sms services weren't too good; they were so bad as to classed as non-existent. So news from overseas was unloaded at the docks with the latest cargo of goodies and bodies in a haphazard way, some of it being months old and outdated.

During the Crimean War there was plenty of fear-mongering running about the joint which resulted in the Victorian Volunteer Corps being created to protect the infant Victorian colony alongside the Imperial forces ( no,not the ones from Star Wars, the ones from Britain).

News filtered through in 1854 that there was a Russian squadron cruising the South Pacific (no, not the Hollywood musical, although I'm sure they felt like washing many men out of their hair).

On August 18, 1854 the steamship Great Britain blew in but was forced to park itself out near the heads due to an outbreak of smallpox on board, though the ship had managed to off-load its mail and news of the Crimean War before being quarantined.

On September 7 the ship was declared safe and at 9pm that night it steamed into Port Phillip Bay firing guns and rockets to celebrate.
This unhinged upset the residents who started running about like chooks with their heads chopped off and warning "The Russians are in the bay".

The volunteer force was called out, reinforced by the bloodthirsty safety conscious citizens armed with anything likely to induce pain on the enemy. The Governor and Colonial-Secretary were dragged out of a mosh pit party to talk some sense into the mob who'd trotted down the Port Melbourne road to repel the fearsome invaders....who never came.

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