Monday, May 13, 2013

Jo Grimond and the Soviet invasion of Shetland

Chris Glew on Estonian World tells the story of Erich Teayn, a crewman on a Soviet factory ship who, on the night of 25 June 1958, commandeered a motor boat and made his bid for freedom in the West by landing on Shetland:
He had realised that his journey wouldn’t be easy and might even be dangerous, but he hadn’t counted on 30 of his Russian crew-mates giving chase, hoping to foil his escape. In choosing a faster boat, he managed to land slightly ahead of his pursuers, on the ragged coast near the small village of Walls, West Shetland. 
Teayn spent five hours trekking through bare and treeless terrain in the late daylight with the Russian crew scouring the area, looking for any trace of their former colleague. He eventually stumbled upon the cottage of a local crofter, David Fraser and his son.
The Soviets searched the island seeking Teayn and passed within 50 yards of the cottage where he was hiding:
he two police sergeants arrested Teayn under the Aliens Act (he was an illegal immigrant, after all) and took him back to Lerwick, where he was placed in custody. 
The next day, the three senior Russian commanders of the fishing fleet landed in Lerwick to demand Teayn’s transfer to their custody. The Provost and senior police officer were both on leave and despite their apparent politeness and friendly manner, the police refused them all access to Teayn.
The affair was raised in the Commons by Jo Grimond, the local MP and leader of the Liberal Party. And Erich Teayn was last heard of living with an Estonian family in Shipley and looking for work.

No comments: