Original Expedition

Original Expedition Saray Orphanage Other Work Images of Azerbaijan

The original Burnaby Blue expedition was designed to follow in the footsteps of Fred Burnaby and end up in the modern day country of Uzbekistan.  It was an amazing journey and the whole process was six months in the planning.  It culminated in 26 soldiers in 8 Land Rovers following a 11,350 mile route that took us from London via France, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey and Georgia to Azerbaijan.  We had planned to go on through Turkmenistan and finish in Uzbekistan, however were forced to stop short due to security concerns in the area.  Concerns we thought nothing of at the time, however that have shown themselves to be all to real today.

The expedition itself was quite literally a drive into the unknown.  I tried to make sure that we covered as much ground as possible in every sense.  Highlights included Cappadocia with Professor Norman Stone, a battlefield tour of the Gallipoli campaign, Auschwitz, The Potemkin steps in Odessa, three seas, four time zones, an exchange with the Romanian army, Stalin’s birthplace and the oil sodden shoreline of the Caspian Sea.  My soldiers were not hand picked by any stretch of the imagination.  The youngest was not yet 18 and had never even been to London, let alone anywhere abroad, before the outset.  We sadly were unable to complete our journey as just before we boarded the Ferry across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenistan, we were stopped for security reasons.  In total we covered something like 11,000 kms, passed through 10 countries, passed three seas and managed top carry out three significant charity projects.

The journey was undertaken by soldiers from the Household Cavalry, in a rare lull between operational tours.  Of the 26 soldiers, one of had never been out of the UK before.   We intended that they would experince sights, sounds and emotions that they would not otherwise have the opportunity to do.  We also took a civilian with us as a translator - it was only relatively late in the planning that someone observed how different the cyrillic alphabet was and that just reading the road signs would be a challenge! 

Here on the left you can see the Baku Oilfields of Azerbaijan - the setting for the famous James Bond scene where he was seen driving through the oil fields in 'The World is Not Enough'.  The city is spectacular and the sense of oil permeates the whole atmosphere - you can literally smell it as you arrive.

 The most rewarding experiences were the charitable projects that we completed.  These were the renovation of a womens' hostel in Poland, the renovation of an orphanage in Romania and then the renovation of an orphanage wing in Azerbnaijan.  They all turned out to be desperately necessary and extremely fulfilling.  So much so that the rest, as they say, is history!