HMS ECHO pays tribute to military personnel at Batumi British Military Cemetery
Navy

HMS Echo Pays Tribute To Fallen Britons On Black Sea

It's the second time the memorial has been visited by the Navy in the past 12 months.

HMS ECHO pays tribute to military personnel at Batumi British Military Cemetery

HMS Echo pays tribute to military personnel at Batumi British Military Cemetery (Pictures: Royal Navy).

Crew members from HMS Echo have honoured 68 Britons killed during a military campaign a century ago.

Tributes were held at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission 'wall of honour' in the Black Sea port of Batumi, Georgia.

It is where 68 British military personnel, five of which were Royal Navy, are buried in Batumi British Military Cemetery.

They died between 1918 and 1920 during the failed attempt by anti-Communist forces to prevent the Bolsheviks from overrunning the country in the bloody civil war.

No trace of those graves could be found after the fall of the Soviet Union, so a memorial wall was put up to ensure the sacrifices were not forgotten.

The ship's company was greeted by Georgian military commanders and UK representatives in the Eurasian country, but also a traditional dance troupe.

Commander Matthew Warren, who led the tributes said: "It was, without doubt, the most athletic and enthralling welcome we’ve ever had."

HMS ECHOreceives warm Georgian welcome 020119 CREDIT Royal Navy
HMS Echo was the first Royal Navy ship in several years to enter Batumi itself (Picture: Royal Navy).

It is the second time the memorial has been visited by the Navy over the past 12 months. In May, crew members onboard HMS Dragon visited the site.

During the festive period, the survey ship has been visiting Black Sea countries, reassuring them of Britain’s support and determination to uphold freedom of navigation.

Inside a fortnight she visited three major ports inside a fortnight: first Ukraine’s principal coastal city of Odesa, where she hosted Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson; then Constanta, Romania’s main naval base, before leaving the latter on Boxing Day for the 700-mile crossing to Georgia.

HMS ECHO pays tribute to military personnel at Batumi British Military Cemetery
HMS Echo's crew laid a wreath to commemorate the 68 Britons killed in Batumi (Pictures: Royal Navy).

Christmas was marked in traditional Royal Navy-style, beginning with a dip in the Black Sea at temperatures of seven Celsius.

It was followed by a visit by Santa and a giant snowman to the flight deck and the most junior member of the ship’s company, Engineering Technician Matthew Sutch, trading places with his commanding officer for the day, and a turkey dinner served by officers to ratings.

The sailors also spread some festive cheer among the local community, dropping in on the Cristina children’s hospital in Constanta to hand out gifts to youngsters spending December 25 on the wards.