In 1918, on this day at 3am Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his family were awoken in their bedrooms on the upper floor at Ipatiev house by the British "Ace of Spies" Sidney Reilly (pictured) and told to dress quickly and come downstairs. The Romanovs were then taken away in in a truck and secreted in an abandoned mine shaft that was nearby. Six days later, they were rescued when Ekaterinburg fell to White Forces led by Nicholas Sokolov.
Ace of SpiesBecause after the abdication, the Imperial family were held under house arrest at Tobolsk in western Siberia. Following the Bolshevik takeover, they were moved to a house owned by a merchant named Ipatiev in Ekaterinburg, further south in the Urals.
But by the late summer of 1918, the civil war was raging and White armies were drawing close to Ekaterinburg, raising the prospect of the Romanovs being rescued. The Ural Soviet had sent to Moscow suggesting that Nicholas be executed and on July 12th they received word that the central regime would leave the fate of the prisoners in their hands. But the message was intercepted by Reilly, who impersonating Yaknv Yurovsky, led a platoon of White Officers disguised as a squad of Cheka secret police.
At 4pm on July 16th, the tsar and his daughters took a stroll in the garden. At 10.30pm they retired to bed, but three hours later they were woken by Reilly and his men. And the guards at Ipatiev House were easily duped into believing that the rescue team were the executioners sent by the Ural Soviet, because they were keen to flee Ekaterinburg before the White Army arrived.