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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Alien russians in the British Army in North Russia


delbarre

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Hi all,

I am trying to determine the way my Great Father and his brother have spent their time in 1918. They were young russian aliens living in London and probably unwilling to join the battlefields. However, in march 1918, they apparently had to chose between hard labour and military service. They were sent to Russia and have deserted. They were in Vladivostok in october 1918 and probably in Moscow as soon as the mid-summer (my Great Father told they had seen Lenin in his car in Moscow. Lenin was shot on August 31st).

They probably did not sail to Russia without a training period of at least two monthes thus after may or june 1918. The Syren forces landed in Murmansk between may 30th (Royal Marines) and June 23rd (29th Royal Fusiliers, 253rd Machine Gun, 548th Royal Engineers). My guess is that my Great Father and his brother were, as aliens, with a labour company of the 548th RE.

I have some questions

Was it frequent in 1914-1918 to exchange prison for army?

Was it possible for "untrustable" aliens to be engaged in fighting units (not labour) overseas?

Where should I expect to find informations on "deserters" in the Murmansk-Archangel area between may and august 1918. I do not live in UK and have no access to the London Police Gazette?

Many thanks in advance for your help

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Fokad

Until the Russian Revolution and the subsequent withdrawl of Russia from the war it was possible for a Russian to join the Army as he would be classified as a friendly alien.

From ealy 1918 onwards the decision was made to form Russian Companies in the Labour Corps.

I do know that there were members of these Russian Companies in North Russia with the army and used as interpreters.

What were their names as they may be shown on the Medal Roll?

Ivor

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Thank you, Ivor, for your response

The names of the two brothers were Nathan and Leon Fokerman. Could they be listed on the Medal Roll as they were deserters?

I know they were in London on march 5th, 1918 (and probably 8 to 10 more weeks after for military training) and in Yokohama by november. In between, I think they were in Moscow in august and crossed the river Volga during the early days of september.

I have been amazed by the velocity with which the brothers have traveled around half the world. For that reason, I guess they should be in Murmansk early with the Syren forces. I have read "The Murmansk venture" by the Major Maynard but I could not find information.

Fokad

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Fokad

I cannot find a medal card for either of them and if they servered in Russia they would have been entitled to the War Medal

There are a couple of possibilities I can think of:

That the surname has been incorrectly spelt - although I cannot find a similar name

That they served under another name

At the risk of seeming rude I suppose there is always the possibility that what you have is a family story that has been embellished somewhat

Ivor

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Thanks Ivor,

They might have served under another name as the brother of my great father went to United States under the name of Bedou from Serbia (Leon was a pugilist and, for many years, had been (more or less) known in Britain under this "more serious" french pseudo).

I dont think the story was embellished. Both were in Russia at this time (I have pictures taken in Vladivostok and letters from YMCA about them). On the other hand, my Great Father, who was living in France afterwards, was never allowed to return in Britain (he said he had deserted from the British Army) even when his mother was dying.

Fokad

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