Exhibition "In Defence of Freedom. British Military and Diplomatic Support to Latvia 1918–1920"

25/09/2019
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The Latvian Provisional Government returns to Liepāja, 27 June 1919. Image – Latvian War Museum
The Latvian Provisional Government returns to Liepāja, 27 June 1919. Image – Latvian War Museum
British divers going down to examine the propellers of the light cruiser HMS Calypso which were damaged entering Liepāja. December 1918. Image – Imperial War Museums
British divers going down to examine the propellers of the light cruiser HMS Calypso which were damaged entering Liepāja. December 1918. Image – Imperial War Museums
Civilians and soldiers beside a British warship on the Daugava River. Riga, 1919. Image – Latvian War Museum
Civilians and soldiers beside a British warship on the Daugava River. Riga, 1919. Image – Latvian War Museum
Major Austin Keenan with Latvian Army officers in Ludza, 1920. Image – Latvian War Museum
Major Austin Keenan with Latvian Army officers in Ludza, 1920. Image – Latvian War Museum
British officers on board the light cruiser HMS Caradoc watching the shore at Liepāja. December 1918. Image – Imperial War Museums
British officers on board the light cruiser HMS Caradoc watching the shore at Liepāja. December 1918. Image – Imperial War Museums
The Latvian Provisional Government returns to Liepāja, 27 June 1919. Image – Latvian War Museum
The Latvian Provisional Government returns to Liepāja, 27 June 1919. Image – Latvian War Museum
Stephen Tallents and Harold Alexander in Zilupe, 1920. Image – National Library of Latvia
Stephen Tallents and Harold Alexander in Zilupe, 1920. Image – National Library of Latvia
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From 16 October until 20 November 2019, the National Library of Latvia Level 1 atrium will feature the exhibition "In Defence of Freedom. British Military and Diplomatic Support to Latvia 1918–1920". Compiled by historians and institutions in both Latvia and the United Kingdom, the exhibition offers new insights, including previously publicly unpublished photographic materials, regarding the diplomatic and military history of Latvia's War of Independence, as well as the daily routines of the British and Latvian soldiers involved. Free admission.

The Latvian War of Independence, which lasted from November 1918 to August 1920, was a military and political struggle for the existence of Latvia. It was a complicated and difficult time, because the new country and its people had to fight against both external and internal enemies. This newly gained freedom had to be defended.

Victory in the struggle for Latvian independence would not have been fully possible without the support of Western Allies – the United Kingdom, France, and the United States. The United Kingdom, whose warships reached the Latvian coastline in December 1918, was the first country to participate, as an ally, in the Latvian War of Independence.

The exhibition "In Defence of Freedom. British Military and Diplomatic Support to Latvia 1918–1920" provides the opportunity to view the Ship's Log book, from 1919, of HMS Dragon. The Ship's Log is on loan from the National Archives in the United Kingdom.

This unique Log details the actions of the heroic yet tragic events of 17 October 1919, when nine British soldiers lost their lives whilst supporting the Latvian Army against the attacks from Pavel Bermondt's forces.

Exhibition organiser:
British Embassy Riga

Partners:
National Library of Latvia
Latvian War Museum
The National Archives
Imperial War Museums
Studija Lokomotīve

Text:
Ēriks Jēkabsons, Klāvs Zariņš

Design:
Anete Krūmiņa

Exhibition Team:
Līga Buka, Andra Jakoviča, Mark Sapsford, Keith Shannon, Ieva Zībārte, Ksenija Zviedre

Special thanks:
Emilie Cloos, Patricia Keenan, Elizabeth Leach, Angela Pascoe, Neil Whitfield, Eileen Clarke, Professor Patrick Salmon, Professor Mark Watson-Gandy

OPENING HOURS