The First Attack on an Armored Vehicle in a Convoy?

CZAR'S ASSASSINATION, 1881. The assassination of Czar Alexander II at the Catherine Canal in St. Petersburg, 13 March 1881: contemporary wood engraving.

CZAR’S ASSASSINATION, 1881. The assassination of Czar Alexander II at the Catherine Canal in St. Petersburg, 13 March 1881: contemporary wood engraving.

One of the first “vehicle assassinations” was that of Tsar Alexander II in Russia. He was one of the first victims of an assassination in an armored vehicle. The vehicle happened to be an armored horse drawn carriage, a gift from Napoleon III of France. As he was known to do every Sunday the Tsar drove in a three sleigh protection team to review the a military unit called the Life Guards. He took the same route every Sunday. His protection team consisted of the Tsar’s two-horse sleigh.  Behind Alexander came two more sleighs filled with Cossack security officials. On 13 March 1881 as they were crossing a bridge a terrorist stepped forward and tossed a bomb under the legs of the Tsar’s horses.  One Cossack was mortally wounded, as was a passing delivery boy.  The windows of the royal sleigh were shattered, and the floor of the sleigh was smashed. The Tsar was dazed, but survived it all with only a small cut on his hand. Colonel Dvoretsky, district chief of police, rushed up and urged the Tsar to get into his sleigh.

At this point we can see that history hasn’t changed much; there are still principals who won’t listen to their security chiefs. The Tsar ignored his recommendation and wandered over to look at the site of the explosion.  Alexander turned and began walking toward another carriage.  He passed near a man leaning on an iron railing holding a parcel – another terrorist.  The second terrorist turned and hurled his parcel at the Tsar’s feet.  There was a second roar, another cloud of blue smoke; this time the street was littered with the wounded and dying.  The Tsar crouched in a pool of his own blood.  The Tsar was driven swiftly to the palace, his sleigh leaving a trail of blood behind.  By the time medical aid could be sum­moned, it was too late.

To sum it all up they went the same route every Sunday, the principal survived the initial attack, got out of his armored vehicle, ignored the recommendations of his security and got his butt blown up.

This could have been the first attack on a “motorcade” and the theory that works today would have worked then – cover the principal and leave the kill zone.


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