Treacherous polar ice usually always, even after years and decades, return fragments of ships, human remains, some objects that can be used with varying degrees of certainty to guess what fate befell the expedition that disappeared in the Arctic. However, there are exceptions: almost 100 years have passed, but it is still unknown what fate befell the expedition of Georgy Brusilov.
We wouldn’t have known anything about this expedition at all if it hadn’t been for Navigator Albanov, and in July he still managed to reach Cape Flora. Of the two men who went with him, only sailor Conrad survived. Someone died on the way, two kayakers probably drowned during a storm, four got lost during a coastal crossing. Albanov and Konrad were the only ones from the whole expedition who were very lucky: On July 20, they were picked up by the Holy Martyr Foka, the ship of the Sedov expedition.
Albanov delivered to the Mainland a copy of the ship’s a and materials of scientific observations for almost two years of drift. Thanks to these data, important scientific discoveries were made. Subsequently, Albanov wrote the book “To the South, to Franz Josef Land!”, in which he described in detail all the vicissitudes of the schooner’s drift and especially the transition of his group to Cape Flora. Mikhail Chvanov wrote a very interesting book about this courageous and unusual man, The Mystery of Navigator Albanov.
What happened to the “Saint Anna” and the people who remained on it?
The ship could be crushed by ice, or a fire could break out on it, which people weakened by hunger could not extinguish. Finally, “Saint Anna” could still come to light in 1915.
From a letter from a distant relative of the Zhdanko family, it became known that in 1938 or 1939 she came to Riga… Erminia Brusilova is either with her son or with her daughter. According to a relative, it was the same Erminia Zhdanko who went with the Brusilov expedition. Her new surname said that she became the wife of Georgy Lvovich. But why didn’t Erminia make any attempts to contact her relatives, why didn’t Brusilov himself do it? Why haven’t any facts about the miraculous rescue of the St. Anna and her crew surfaced anywhere yet?
According to the version of D. Alekseev and P. Novokshonov, if in 1915 the schooner “Saint Anna” was freed from the ice, then she could have been sunk by a German submarine, at that time Germany was just waging an unlimited submarine war. Perhaps the crew was allowed to escape on the boat, and Brusilov, as a tsarist officer, could be captured, and at the same time, for reasons of humanity, allow Erminia Zhdanko to follow him. Then somehow it is possible to explain her appearance in Riga in the late 30s. He and Brusilov simply did not have time to get to their homeland before the revolution, and then stayed in Europe. Of course, this is just an assumption, other options are possible.
According to Mikhail Chvanov, in 1938 V. I. Akkuratov saw a ship frozen in ice near Franz Josef Land, very similar in outline to the “Saint Anna”. Alas, the ship was covered by fog, which dispersed only two weeks later, during which time the ship disappeared. It is known that sometimes the ice moves in a circle for years, for example, the American polar station has been “spinning” in one place for n years.
If in 1914 or 1915 Brusilov noticed that the drift of the ice field that captured the ship went in the opposite direction, he undoubtedly left the ship with his people. The passage of this group, of course, was much more terrible than the march of Albanov’s detachment, because the weakened people probably dragged a boat with them. Brusilov could have left the ship even if the “Saint Anna” received very serious damage during its drift in the direction of Svalbard.