Man of TIN Advent Calendar Day 9 – The Russians are Coming 1873 New Zealand hoax

IMG_2755

Advent Day 9 – Another unpublished blog draft finally sees the light of day!

17 February 1873: Daily Southern Cross editor David Luckie publishes ‘The Russians are coming!’ hoax in New Zealand

If you want to read the whole article, you can find it here:

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/DSC18730217.2.19

During the 19th century the Russian and British empires were involved in a number of conflicts. With nothing but clear blue water between New Zealand’s shores and Russia’s Pacific ports, many New Zealanders feared a sea-borne invasion.

On the 17 February 1873 the editor of The Daily Southern Cross, David Luckie, published a hoax report of a Russian invasion of Auckland by the Russian ironclad Kaskowiski (Cask of Whisky).

Aucklanders were alarmed to read that the crew of the Kaskowiski had seized gold and taken the mayor hostage.

IMG_2756

Story reprinted in full here earlier on my blog

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/10/01/auckland-invaded-1873/

This hoax was believed by a considerable part of the city’s population, despite a footnote appended to the article which ‘explained the whole romance’.

Crowds besieged the offices of the Daily Southern Cross and the ‘incident’ was discussed in the streets throughout the city. This sounds much like the American public’s response to Orson Welles’ War of The Worlds on 1930s radio.

To a general reader or a gamer looking for a historical scenario, there seems almost too much detail.

Harking back to the ‘nobility’ of Allied actions against a hereditary or past enemy in the Crimean War  grounds this fictional warning in the reality of recent colonial history. It foregrounds the new barbarism of secret weapons –  a mephitic sleeping gas that knocks out the crew of enemy warships, a submarine pinnace.

Today in a world of fast jets, drone strikes, aircraft carriers and chemical weapons, warring governments and insurgencies  still compete to slur or smear their rival over the minimising of civilian casualties. The other side has to appear more barbaric to justify military intervention. We want a war where “our side” (the good guys)  fights with decency and clean hands …

Rereading the article today in a 24 hour rolling news culture, it seems quite clunky.  

Hard to believe it caused the upset and public outcry it did. To us in retrospect it reads more like H.G. Wells’ prophetic  Victorian Science Fiction. It sits comfortably within a genre of  “The Battle of Dorking” and Edwardian invasion narratives against Britain.

At the same time today to a modern audience,  it almost reads like a Carry On Up The Khyber script with its clunky puns about the Khazi of Calabar and Bungdit Din. The Russian ship is called the Kaskowiski (Cask o’ Whisky).  It is captained by one Admiral Herodskoff (Herod’s Cough?) , Herod being the traditional Nativity bad guy and abuser of civilian populations. The story is simultaneously trying to give itself away and create and maintain realism, partly to pardon or excuse the Editor against exactly the reaction it wants to stoke up. The story says “I showed you it was nonsense, full of  Herodskoff, Kaskowiski and other puns, set and dated three months in the future but you believed the truth behind it.”

It is an elaborate practical joke but written with a political aim. It has to be read in the spirit of the technology and times of 1873, of remote posts of Empire when there were very few news outlets, telegraph being the most modern, newspapers already full of old news.

The Crimean War with its on-the-spot reporting by William Russell of disastrous logistics and medical care was only a decade in the past. An expansionist Tsarist Russia was still a rival and traditional enemy of the British Empire.

After all, it’s not as if  we live in a world where fake news and social media storms no longer happen. It’s not as if countries go to war anymore  in coalition, based on a now infamous “dossier” about Weapons of Mass Destruction against a former enemy of ten years before.

The day after the hoax was published in 1873, the Editor David Luckie stated his intention was to publish the article as a warning, which would hopefully lead to future protection.

The Russian war scares of the 1880s caused the New Zealand Government to erect batteries overlooking the harbours of the four main centres.

Elsewhere across the British Empire the Volunteer Regiment movement was being formed, partly for Home Defence.

Remains of these Victorian batteries, some updated to meet the threat of a Japanese invasion during the Second World War, can still be seen on the NZ coast.

http://www.heritage.org.nz/news-and-events/this-month-in-history

For games scenario ideas based on the Kaskowiski incident see below

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/11/30/kaskowiski-1873-inspired-scenario/

More NZ Heritage Links

You can explore more about these historic places associated with New Zealand’s coastal defence, on the New Zealand Heritage List, by following the links:
Fort Takapuna / O Peretu, Auckland http://www.heritage.org.nz/the-list/details/86

North Head –Devonport, Auckland http://www.heritage.org.nz/the-list/details/7005

https://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/north-shore-times/94337030/historic-disappearing-gun-goes-off-with-enormous-bang-on-aucklands-north-shore

Blumine Island Battery Historic Area, Queen Charlotte Sound http://www.heritage.org.nz/the-list/details/7529

Wright’s  Hill Fortress, Wellington http://www.heritage.org.nz/the-list/details/7543

Battery Point Battery Historic Area, Lyttelton http://www.heritage.org.nz/the-list/details/7553

These NZ preparations look very much like the 1850s / 1860s Palmerston Follies preparations against a possible  French invasion in early Victorian Britain. They would continue in New Zealand to be prepared for active service against the Japanese threat in WWII.

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN, Advent Calendar Day 9 – Sunday 9th December  2018.

Advertisements

Auckland Invaded May 1873

IMG_0326
In amongst the shipping, commercial  and mining news the new Editor David Luckie inserted his “fake news” of 17 February 1873  issue of the Daily Southern Cross 
IMG_0327
Clever stores inserted their own topical links to this invasion hoax “fake news” story
IMG_0328
The freight ship Golden Cross is mentioned in the hoax account, adding realism

An explanation of the Invasion Hoax was given several days later by the editor of the Daily Southern Cross.

IMG_0329

IMG_0330
The point made clear a few days later?

The need to explain or excuse the hoax and how it was set up or could be revealed as “fake news” by its future date 

IMG_0332

The whole fake news story

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/DSC18730217.2.19

 

IMG_0321IMG_0322IMG_0313IMG_0314IMG_0315

img_0316.jpg

IMG_0325
At this point the invasion begins with Russian marines …

A suitable gaming scenario could be made of this landing.

img_0317.pngIMG_0318IMG_0319

IMG_0320
https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/DSC18730217.2.19

This was published in the Daily Southern Cross, 17 February 1873 – note the date of this deliberately alarmists news story – set 3 months in the future, 15th May 1873.

The next issue editorial 18th February featured the explanation or the reveal.

 

IMG_0343IMG_0344There are several online articles about this Russian Scare and the historical background.

https://airminded.org/2008/05/30/the-russians-are-coming/

https://nzhistory.govt.nz/the-russians-are-coming

Victorian and WW2 coastal defences at Fort Takapuna

https://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/auckland/places/fort-takapuna-historic-reserve/fort-takapuna-history/

https://www.myguideauckland.com/things-to-do/north-head-historic-reserve

https://www.nzgeo.com/stories/history-2/

Even a podcast

http://www.podcasts.com/the-podcasters-guide-to-the-conspiracy-14/episode/the-russian-invasion-of-auckland-1873

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN Oct

The Other Channel Tunnel 1901

IMG_2884Crossposted from my occasional Sidetracked blog by Mark, Man of TIN https://sidetracked2017blog.wordpress.com/2018/01/22/the-other-channel-tunnel-to-ireland/