Penang, Malaysia - Western Road CC - WW1 Russian Cruiser ZHEMCHUG (mass grave/memorial)

Discussion in 'War Grave Photographs' started by bucklt, Nov 3, 2016.

  1. bucklt

    bucklt Bucklt

    I came across this memorial purely-by-chance and, since then, have learned about the Battle Of Penang. It's 102 years (October 28th 1914) since the German light cruiser, SMS EMDEN, sailed into Penang harbour and sank the Russian cruiser, ZHEMCHUG (Pearl) and French destroyer, MOUSQUET (Musket).

    A total of 47 men died on the MOUSQUET and, on the ZHEMCHUG, 81 died in the initial battle with a further 7 succumbing to their wounds.

    A brief description of events here: Battle of Penang - Wikipedia
    More about the ZHEMCHUG here: Russian cruiser Zhemchug - Wikipedia

    A mass burial was carried out for the Russian sailors at Western Road Christian Cemetery (according to various reports, most of the bodies were not recovered or, because of their condition, were buried at sea). Initially, I found it very difficult to ascertain just how many men, if any, were buried in the cemetery. The CWGC staff were unable to help me and numerous sources were (still are) giving figures that range from 0 to 82?

    Via the Russian magazine ''Around The World'' (January 1996): a group of Cossacks, visiting the island in 1938, carried out some renovation work on the grave-site and claim to have spoken to the cemetery caretaker - a nun - who confirmed that she attended the original burial service and recalled a total of 24 bodies.
    Еще раз о гибели крейсера «Жемчуг» | Публикации | Вокруг Света

    Sadly, like the ship itself, this grave/memorial has suffered a great deal over the years mainly due to: a general lack of maintenance; theft of a copper plaque - which was attached to the original iron cross (is that the same cross we see today - I wonder?) and protests from the Chinese Government in 1976 over the opening of the newly renovated monument.

    Renovation work was carried out by Soviet sailors in 1972 and 1987 and, in October 1996, thanks to the combined generosity of the staff at ''Around The World'' magazine and the Moscow firm of ''Vland'' a commemorative plaque, measuring 30x40cm and inscribed with the names of all 88 men, was conscerated in St.Nicholas Church - Khamovniki, and flown to Malaysia where it was eventually attached to the memorial frontage.

    During both his visits to Malaysia - August and October 2003, President Vladimir Putin made numerous mention of this particular incident and thanked the Malaysian people for the assistance they gave to the sailors of the doomed ship.

    I believe that the anchor, forming part of the memorial, originated from the ship itself.

    A book - The Battle Of Penang - written by Dr. John Robertson, was published in 2012:
    Launch of The Battle of Penang – A Pictorial Report - Singapore Heritage Society

    Some very nice images taken at the memorial/grave site during a recent religious service:
    World War I Battle in SE Asia Remembered | Dave Ray Photo

    The history of the ship itself forms a mirror-image of events in Russia from c1900-1917 but, equally, the history of the memorial-cum-mass-grave deserves equal attention!

    I'm curious to know what happened to those 47 French sailors who died during this particular conflict? Were they repatriated or buried-at-sea? I'm not aware of any such French graves or memorials in Penang itself.

    This memorial is a definite 'must-see' for all visitors to Penang island.

    note: total of 3 images and Google map of cemetery (with my location headings) attached.

    Available now:
    1. Full-size images of the memorial/mass grave.
    2. General images of the cemetery itself.

    All above images (and originals) are now available - FREE - to family members, relatives, researchers and historians. When asked, I normally suggest that you make a donation to a Forces Charity of your own choice.
    Equally, all images - posted/distributed by me - are not to be used for commercial and/or financial gain. If in doubt, contact me - Thank You.

    This offer/all these offers is/are open-ended i.e. a cut-off date does not apply! As such, feel free to contact me anytime with all your requirements and queries - via: nt872b(at)

    Videos - taken at various cemeteries and/or memorials and posted on YouTube - as of May 2018: Tony Buckley

    Largest Asian War Memorials - already completed as of November 2016:
    Afghanistan - Camp Bastion Memorial Wall - images of c444 names available
    Singapore - Kranji/Singapore War Memorial - images of all c23,000 names available
    Myanmar/Burma - Rangoon Memorial - images of all c27,000 names available
    Philippines - Capas National Shrine Memorials (Bataan Death March) - images of c33,000 names available
    Republic Of Korea - Wall Of Remembrance (UNMCK) - images of all c41,000 names available
    Israel - Jerusalem Memorial - images of all c3300 names available
    India - Madras 1914-1918 Memorial - images of c1000 names available
    India - Delhi Memorial (India Gate) - images of c9500+ names available
    India - Kirkee Memorial 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 (Pune) - images of c2000+ names available

    Cemeteries - includes all graves/names on memorials - already completed as of November 2016:
    AFGHANISTAN: Helmand Province - Camp Bastion Memorial Wall
    BANGLADESH: Chittagong and Maynamati Cemeteries
    BURMA: Rangoon, Taukkyan, Thanbyuzayat Cemeteries and all Memorials
    CAMBODIA: (Postwar Forum) Killing Fields (Choeung Ek) and S.21 (Toul Sleng Genocide Museum)
    CHINA/HONG KONG: Sai Wan, Stanley, Happy Valley (12 cemeteries in total) plus all Memorials
    INDIA: Kohima, Imphal (2 cemeteries), Madras (5 cemeteries), Digboi, Gauhati, Calcutta (Bhowanipore), Ranchi, Delhi, Kirkee (Pune) 3 cemeteries
    INDONESIA: Jakarta War Cemetery, Ancol Cemetery, Ambon Cemetery and all Memorials
    ISRAEL: Ramlah, Khayat Beach, Jerusalem/Beersheba - brief visits Cemeteries and all Memorials
    JAPAN: Yokohama Commonwealth War Cemetery and British Commonwealth Forces Cemetery (post WW2)
    THAILAND: Kanchanaburi and Chung Kai Cemeteries and all Memorials
    MALAYSIA: Taiping, Penang, Labuan & Kuching (Borneo), Cheras Road, Terendak Cemeteries and all Memorials
    PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Port Moresby, Lae, Rabaul Cemeteries and all Memorials
    PHILIPPINES: CWGC graves and Bataan/Capas-Kamikaze-Manila Memorials.
    REPUBLIC OF KOREA: United Nations Military Cemetery in Busan (UNMCK)
    SINGAPORE: Kranji War Cemetery, Kranji Military Cemetery (post WW2), and all Memorials
    SRI LANKA/CEYLON: Colombo, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Trincomalee Cemeteries and all Memorials
    VIETNAM: (Postwar Forum) VC/ARVN cemeteries, Reunification Palace, HCMC museums and Qu Chi tunnels

    Tony Buckley :poppy: Asia War Graves Photo Group and now, since January 2017:
    Last edited: May 27, 2018
    4jonboy, Tricky Dicky and Recce_Mitch like this.

Share This Page