October 11, 1917 – Operation Albion: German Landings in the Gulf…

October 11, 1917 – Operation Albion: German Landings in the Gulf of Riga 

Pictured – German battleship Grosser Kurfürst during the landings. A naval airship provides cover overhead.

Mutiny among the Russian Navy allowed the Germans to break into the Gulf of Riga on the Latvian-Estonian coast. On October 11 Operation Albion began as a strong armada of German warships, including eleven battleships and nineteen transports, steamed into the gulf. The steamers unloaded 23,000 soldiers and 5,000 horses onto a set of islands in the Gulf of Riga: Dagö, Öesel, and the smaller Moon Island.

The Russian commander tasked with defending the islands, Admiral Altvater, could do nothing. As a prisoner of German General Max Hoffman, he recounted a dismal tale. “The influence of Bolshevik propaganda on the masses is enormous. I was defending Öesel and the troops actually melted away before my eyes.” Over 5,000 Russian troops fell into captivity with barely a fight. Unfortunately for the mutinous sailors, the capture of the islands meant that Russian warships were stranded in the gulf and would have to break out to escape capture.