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Lithuania 1919 - 1920


corisande

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I have found two references to British officers serving in Lithuania in 1919 and 1920, before carrying on with UK postings in British Army

1. F P Crozier, he who was later was in charge of all police in Ireland in the War of Independence

2. Parcell Bowen (of whom I have had a couple of threads here recently)

What was going on. What exactly was British involvement in Lithuania at that time? How "official" was it? How many British soldiers were involved?

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It was certainly a complex situation - here's something I wrote some years ago

Lithuanian Conflicts

The history of the conflicts in Lithuania at the end of the First World War is every bit as complex as those in its neighbouring states of Latvia and Estonia. There were in fact two overlapping conflicts, firstly a war of independence primarily against Bolshevik forces but also involving the German Landeswehr from Latvia and the mercenary ‘white’ Russian forces under Paul Bermondt (aka Prince Avaloff). In this Lithuania received substantial support from Poland. The second conflict was a war with Poland which had made a number of claims on Lithuanian territory.

Unlike Estonia and Latvia, Lithuania did not have significant external support from the Western Allies. This, at least in part, appears to stem from a perception that Lithuania was in effect a German sponsored state.

The Lithuanian army was a somewhat diverse organisation being formed from both those troops that had been serving in Russia and those who had been in the German forces. There was even a 10,000 strong American-Lithuanian Brigade recruited in the USA under the guise of labourers for service in Canada (although only a tithe of those who enlisted in America managed to reach Lithuania). The Lithuanian army’s uniforms and equipment reflected these disparate sources being a mixture of German and Russian items with some material from France, Britain and Japan.

The history of this period is certainly unclear and seems to change depending on the nationality of the person writing it. It seems likely that both Lithuanians and Poles still hold grudges dating back to this period and some chronologies become confused as certain actions and/or double crossings that may seen discreditable to one side get left out. Hopefully this account is reasonably impartial and summarises the events correctly.

Sequence of events

- By mid 1915 German forces had occupied the Russian Imperial territory that today comprises Lithuania. Some Lithuanians had already been taken into the Russian army and others then joined the German forces.

- In February 1918 The Lithuanian Council declared independence.

- In March 1918 Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany formally recognised Lithuania as an independent state with its capital in Vilnus. Various agreements were signed between the two countries. Bolshevik forces moved into Lithuania and were met by German troops and forced back. Lithuanian units in Russia began to make their way back to Lithuania

- In July 1918 the Lithuanian State Council declared Lithuania a constitutional monarchy with Duke William von Urach of Wittenberg elected to take the throne as King under the title of Mindaugas II. This was intended to circumvent the possibility of Germany annexing Lithuania to Prussia or Saxony.

- The German collapse on the Western front made annexation unlikely and in November 1918 the Lithuanian State Council reversed its intention to see Duke William von Urach of Wittenberg crowned. Germany signed the Armistice the same month.

- At the end of November 1918 the Lithuanian army had been formed. Lithuanian units from the German army form some of the new units. Lithuanian troops from Russia begin to reach Lithuania. Moves are made in the USA to enlist troops for Lithuania

- In December 1918 Germany began to pull its troops out of Lithuania and Bolshevik forces began to advance again.

- At the end of December 1918 all German forces had left Vilnus, local Lithuanian communist groups had formed a revolutionary government that was recognised by Lenin who declared Lithuania part of the Soviet Union under the jurisdiction of Russia. The Lithuanian State Council had declared its own government but the advancing Red Army in conjunction with the revolutionary militia forced this to withdrew to Kaunas.

- In January 1919 Poland intervened and seized control of Vilnus from the Lithuanian revolutionary forces. Within three days the Red Army had occupied Vilnus forcing the Poles out. Bolshevik forces begin to advance further into Lithuania

- In February 1919 Lithuanian forces with German support halted the Bolshevik advance

- Polish forces again seized Vilnus in April 1919 and formed a puppet state known as ‘Central Lithuania’. The Polish Russian war started. Lithuania was effectively at war with both Russia and Poland so that a three way conflict was underway.

- In July 1919 the Red Army threw the Poles out of Vilnus

- In August 1919 the Lithuanian army forced the Red Army out of the majority of Lithuanian territory and retook the last territory held by the Lithuanian revolutionaries. The Russians continued to control Vilnus

- In November 1919 a force made up from the German Landeswehr and the mercenary ‘white’ Russian forces under Paul Bermondt (aka Prince Avaloff) that had invaded from Latvia was defeated by the Lithuanian army.

- In February 1920 a communist insurrection was supressed

- In July 1920 peace treaty was signed in Moscow between Russia and Lithuania. Lithuania was recognised as an independent state with Vilnus as its capital and the Russians passed control to Lihuania

- In October 1920 Poland and Lithuania signed a truce. Poland formally recognised Vilnus as the capital of Lithuania. Within 2 days the Polish General L. Zeligowski with the backing of the Polish government led a raid by Polish militia and ethnically Polish Lithuanians and seized Vilnus. Central Lithuania was occupied by Polish forces. League of Nations demands that Poland withdraw were ignored.

- In October 1922 Poland annexed Vilnus and Central Lithuania

- Since 1918 the French military controlled and administered the port of Memel as an ‘independent city state’ on behalf of the wartime Allies, in the Baltic Region. In January 1923 there was a successful uprising against the French. Lithuania then annexed Memel. The situation was formalised by the League of Nations

- In September 1939 the Lithuanian army reoccupied Vilnus and Central Lithuania

In 1940 the Soviet Union invaded and annexed Lithuania.

Lithuanian arms and equipment

Unlike Latvia and Estonia, Lithuania received no major re equipment from the Western Allies. Germany was not allowed under the Armistice conditions to fill the gap but this was to some extent circumvented by such contrivances as ‘unguarded’ German supply trains being ‘ambushed’ by Lithuanian forces. Withdrawing German forces ‘inadvertently’ left behind some captured Russian equipment. Germany did supply some aircraft and German pilots and flying instructors.

Returning soldiers from both Russia and Germany did bring personal arms and uniforms with them. Soldiers who had served with the Western Allies also returned including some pilots that had served with the RFC and RAF.

Some equipment was captured from the Red Army, the Poles and the White Russian/ Landeswehr army. The overall result of all of this was a melange of uniforms and equipment. During late 1919 and early 1920, supplies of war-surplus German and American uniforms were received by Lithuania, and issued widely. The German tunics were normally retailored to an "English" cut, particularly by officers.

Arms

Rifles included the Mauser Gew '98, Mauser Kar '98, Moisin-Nagant, and Arisaka. Arms dealers sold war surplus British SMLEs. It seems that there was a general preference for either the SMLE or the Mauser. Sometimes a small unit would have all of these in use. German stick grenades were used. Examples of just about any type of machine gun that had been used by Russia, Germany, Britain or France could be found.

Artillery

Lithuanian artillery units were equipped at first with captured Russian guns (M 00/02 Putilov 76.2mm). Later German (105mm M 16 Rheinmetall howitzers) and French (75mm Mle. 97) guns were acquired.

Armour

Initially captured armoured cars were used including an Izhorsky-Fiat armed with 2 machine guns, it was named "Zaibas". It is possible that one Ford FTb armoured car may have been captured from the Poles. Five ex-German Ehrhardt/Daimler-Behelftswagens armed with four 7.92mm machine-guns where acquired in 1919. There is an unconfirmed report that one FT 17 tank was taken from the Poles and ‘turned round’. In general this area is one of the (many) murky areas to be further explored. Armoured cars were used against both the Poles and the White Russian/ Landeswehr army.

German volunteers fighting with the Lithuanians had an armoured train named Panzerzug 7 and there was one home grown armoured train – the Gedyminas introduced in 1920 and later captured by the Poles.

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Thanks for that, it looks incredibly complicated. I assume that the British were keeping a low profile as they are not mentioned

Certainly Crozier was a senior officer ( and he went back to Ireland in May 1920 to command the police in Ireland. The implication being that the British government condoned whatever he had been doing in Lithuania. I do not have his own books, but the reference books I have make it clear that he did serve in Lithuania.

The British operation in Russia which was much large, is itself scarcely mentioned in history. Lithuania seem so be even lower on the radar

Here is an article in The Times

lithuania.jpg

There are more articles here by Crozier about Lithuania

Cannot say I am much wiser as to the size of the operation, but it certainly looks official

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Interesting, histories of the Lithuanian airforce make no mention of any British involvement, Britain was certainly heavily involved in Latvia (quaintly called Letland in Croziers' letter) as well as Estonia and this is well documented so any Lithuanian commitment would seem likely to be small (and possibly at arms length). I wonder if Crozier "bigged up" his importance.

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Thanks for that, it looks incredibly complicated. I assume that the British were keeping a low profile as they are not mentioned

Certainly Crozier was a senior officer ( and he went back to Ireland in May 1920 to command the police in Ireland. The implication being that the British government condoned whatever he had been doing in Lithuania.

Crozier did not command the police in Ireland. He did command the Auxilaries (The Black and Tans). Questions were asked in the House as to why he had been appointed. I enclose the details which mention his involvement in Lithuania which is specifically said to be unofficial.. Crozier appears to have had some clouds hanging over him.

HC Deb 31 May 1921 vol 142 cc802-4

12. Lieut.-Colonel GUINNESS

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will give the personal record of service in the Army of Brigadier-General Crozier, lately commanding the Auxiliary Division, Royal Irish Constabulary?

The SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Sir Laming Worthington-Evans)

As the answer to this question is of a detailed nature I will, with my hon. and gallant Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Captain W. BENN

Is the right hon. Gentleman willing to give the personal record of any other officer whose name is put down on the Question Paper?

Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS

If a question be asked, I will answer it.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir S. HOAR

Was the personal record given to the Government of Ireland when General Crozier was appointed?

Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS

I believe that the official record was given, but I am not absolutely sure.

Lieut.-Colonel GUINNESS

Will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to insure that when the Irish Office consults him as to the suitability of officers for police employment he will give them not only the official record but also the personal record of the officers concerned

Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS

I can give the official record. That is all I can give. I cannot give personal records. It would be impossible for a Minister to give personal records which are complete and reliable. All I can pretend to do is to give the official records.

Captain BENN

Was the information which the right hon. Gentleman is going to give this House in his possession when he recommended General Crozier to this appointment?

Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS

I did not recommend him. The official record, of course, was in the possession of the War Office and that is all I am giving. I am not giving any personal record. I am giving an official record.

Lieut.-Colonel GUINNESS

Is the whole of the trouble not due to the division of responsibility between the Adjutant-General and the Director of Personal Services? Will the right hon. Gentleman see that in future appointments, where the personal suitability of a man apart from War service is most important, the Director of Personal Services is consulted?

Sir L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS

I think that is rather a matter for argument. As far as the facts are concerned I am giving the official record, and of course I give the official record whenever I am asked for it in respect of an officer who is about to be employed.

The following is the answer referred to:

The official record of the services in the Army of Brigadier-General F. P. Crozier is as follows:—

Born, 9th January, 1879.

Served as Lieutenant in 4th Battalion, Middlesex Rifle Volunteers, 1896.

Served as Lieutenant in Militia, 1897, and as a corporal in Thornycroft's Mounted Infantry in the South African War.

Obtained a commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the Manchester Regiment (from ranks of Local Military Forces, Natal), 19th May, 1900.

Lieutenant, Manchester Regiment, 13th July, 1901.

Employed with West African Frontier Force from 3rd June, 1901, to 17th September, 1905.

To half-pay, 31st March, 1908.

Resigned commission, 17th June, 1908.

Commissioned as Captain, 3rd Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 17th June, 1908.

Resigned commission, 22nd May, 1909.

War, 1914–1919.

Commissioned Temporary Captain, Service Battalions, September, 1914.

9th Service Battalion (West Belfast), Royal Irish Rifles.

Temporary Major, Second in Command, 4th September, 1914.

Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel whilst Commanding Battalion, 8th January, 1916.

Temporary Brigadier - General, General List, 20th November, 1916.

Commander, 119th Infantry Brigade.

Relinquished appointment and temporary rank of Brigadier-General, 15th April, 1919.

Lieut.-Colonel F. P. Crozier, temporary to Command 3rd Reserve Battalion, Welsh Regiment, 24th April, 1919.

Ceased to Command 3rd Reserve Battalion, Welsh Regiment, 22nd July, 1919.

Relinquished Commission and granted honorary rank of Brigadier-General, 31st July, 1919.

Unofficial. — Attached Lithuanian Delegation, Paris. General Major Lithuanian Forces.

War Services.

South African War, 1899–1901.—Relief of Ladysmith, including action at Colenso; operations of 17th to 24th January, 1900, and action at Spion Kop; operations of 5th to 7th February and action at Vaal Kranz; operations on Tugela Heights (14th to 27th February). Operations in Natal, March to June, 1900, including action at Laing's Nek (6th to 9th June). Operations in Orange River Colony, May to 28th November, 1900, including actions at Wittebergen (1st to 29th July), and Caledon River (27th to 29th July).

Operations in the Transvaal and Orange River Colony, 30th November to December, 1900.

Operations in Cape Colony, December, 1900, to January, 1901. Queen's Medal with seven clasps.

West Africa (Northern Nigeria), 1903.—Kano-Sokoto Campaign. Medal with clasp. Sokoto-Burmi operations.

The War of 1914–19.—Despatches "London Gazette," 4th January, 1917; 15th May, 1917; 11th December, 1917; 20th May, 1918; 20th December, 1918; and 5th July, 1919. French War Cross, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O.

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Thanks for that Hansard report (you are right of course Crozier commanded ADRIC - I was working too late at night!)

The Hansard answer is certainly "equivocal" on his career and his appointment.

I am at a loss to know what was going on in Lithuania with the British. This makes it look semi official in as much as it is on his service record

Unofficial. — Attached Lithuanian Delegation, Paris. General Major Lithuanian Forces.

and his views sem to have been sought

lithuania3.jpg

He puts on his letters to the Times "Hon Major General Lithuanian Army and late IGF Lithuania". It stacks up with my feeling that both Crozier and Bowen (and others) were somehow serving there in Lithuanian army uniform, rather than being part of a diplomatic mission. I cannot prove that, as nothing concrete seems to exist.

The whole operation was not what could be seen in modern terms as "mercenary" and seems to have been condoned/encouraged/set up by the British governmentAny

idea what "IGF" was?

----

Carr, by the way, was part of Shackletons 1921 expedition

Of the newcomers, Roderick Carr, a New Zealand-born Royal Air Force pilot, was hired to fly the expedition's aeroplane, an Avro "Antarctic" Baby: an Avro Baby modified as a seaplane with an 80-horse power engine.[30][31] He had met Shackleton in North Russia, and had recently been serving as Chief of Staff to the Lithuanian air force.[

And is listed hereas being in command of Lithuanian airforce 1919-1920. He won DFC over Puchega (I cannot see if that is Russia or Lithuania)

On the l7th June, 1919, this officer flew a scout machine over the enemy aerodrome at Puchega, at an average height of only 50 feet, for thirty minutes. During this time he succeeded in setting fire to a Nieuport enemy machine, to a hangar which contained three aeroplanes (all of which were destroyed), drove all the personnel off the aerodrome, and killed some of the mechanics.

I got lost in Carr's career at this point as he appears to have been commanding no 2 squadron, one of the three Slavo-British Squadrons ended up sharing the airfield at Bereznik. (Bowen was in n0 3 squadron - both were in Lithuanian army at some point )

This site has him leaving RAF in Oct 1919 after serving in Russia and being chief of Lithuanian air force whilst not being an RAF officer

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I think that mercenary may be a proper description. There were certainly ex RAF British pilots flying for the Poles on their own account with no British government encouragement (or discouragement). A history of the Lithuanian airforce gives a Lithuanian ex RAF officer as its first commander. I'll look his name up 2nite.

I think the answer as to what the British were doing is nothing. Crozier had resigned his commission (unlike many of the British officers involved in Latvia and Estonia). I suspect that he was just one of a number of of retired officers of various nationalities who offered themselves for hire to one or more of the various forces operating in Lithuania at the time. It was, as Arthur Daley would say, "a nice little earner". Obviously he would be asked for information on his return but so far I've seen nothing that indicates any official British involvement.

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I am out of my depth with Lithuanian Air Force commanders, but this seems to be the list

1. In 1919- Officer ( later – Major) Petras Petronis ( 1887-1950) and Officer (later-Captain) Vincas Gavelis ( 1892-1969);

2. In 1919-1920 - Captain from Great Britain (later Aviation Marshal) Charles Roderick Carr (1891-1971);

3.In 1920-1927 – Lieutenant General Juozas Kraucevièius ( 1879-1964);

4. In 1927-1934- General Staff Colonel (later – Division) Stasys Pundzius ( 1893-1980);

5. 1934-1940 – Brigadier General, engineer, Antanas Gustaitis (1898-1941;

Carr's own write ups are a little "obscure" about his time in Lithuania

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Crozier has been discussed on the Forum before and to put it mildly is an interesting character. He certainly had a good war with the spirit of the age suiting his "bloods and guts" warrior character.

His books are most interesting and of course include "The Men I Killed" and "A Brass-hat in Noman'sland". Not sure if any of them cover his exploits in Lithuania". His 1930 book "Impressions and Recollections" may do so.

The BBC website records his sanguine reaction to the events of "Bloody Sunday" 21/11/20 :-

"General FP Crozier, having helped direct clearing-up operations, went back to barracks, had a game of squash and a bath, and then took himself off to lunch, apparently in good spirits despite all the slaughter."

I understand he was removed from his job commanding the Auxilaries because he countermanded an order from General Tudor regarding discipline. Crozier was perhaps more keen in pursuing Auxiliary wrongdoings than some were comfortable with. I understand that Crozier was involved in a mysterious motor "accident" in November 1920 that nearly killed him - some say that this was attempted murder. Lithuania probably seemed a nice quiet billet after Ireland.

Quite a guy. Never far from controversy.

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I know Crozier was a man of controversy, and as you say he has been covered elsewhere, and I was not wanting to cover here neither his WW1 service nor his Ireland service.

I was wanting to focus this thread on Lithunania, and Crozier was the highest profile man I could find (I exaggerate as I could only find 3 men who served in Lithuania). His Lithuania service was therefore a means to an end - finding out what on earth the British army was doing, officially or unofficially, in Lithuania.

Whilst Crozier's record elsewhere can be found and mulled over. Nobody, particularly me, seems to have the faintest idea what he was doing a a major-general in Lithuania.

Car's record is equally vague!

I do not have his books, perhaps someone with them can tells us what he has to say about his time in Lithuania

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He did cover his time in Lithuania in several books and this is also the subject of some analysis. His job was as Inspector General responsible for re training and reorganising the Lithuanian army. This job was in his own words "a dismal failure". He managed to argue with and upset almost everyone important he came across and caused mass resignations from his own staff (he blames all of this on "politics" - 'they're all out to get me'). He appears to have been insubordinate. He grossly exceeded his budget by recruiting many unemployed British officers (effectively old cronies). He says he resigned but it looks as if he jumped seconds before being pushed. This may constitute the "personal records" referred to in Hansard. His no 2 was a Col Muirhead (who later became Sec of State for India). More later.

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In Latgalia, which some might consider part of Lithuania/ Poland, Field Marshal Alexander commanded a fighting force. Unfortunately, I know very little about what happened in the Baltic States during that period and it's probably best I don't offer any opinions or information on this subject. But, seem to remember Alexander has been discussed on this forum before. So, if you're interested, perhaps have a search of the forum

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charlesmessenger

He did cover his time in Lithuania in several books and this is also the subject of some analysis. His job was as Inspector General responsible for re training and reorganising the Lithuanian army. This job was in his own words "a dismal failure". He managed to argue with and upset almost everyone important he came across and caused mass resignations from his own staff (he blames all of this on "politics" - 'they're all out to get me'). He appears to have been insubordinate. He grossly exceeded his budget by recruiting many unemployed British officers (effectively old cronies). He says he resigned but it looks as if he jumped seconds before being pushed. This may constitute the "personal records" referred to in Hansard. His no 2 was a Col Muirhead (who later became Sec of State for India). More later.

Muirhead had been Crozier's brigade major in 119 Bde.

Charles M

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I am out of my depth with Lithuanian Air Force commanders, but this seems to be the list

1. In 1919- Officer ( later – Major) Petras Petronis ( 1887-1950) and Officer (later-Captain) Vincas Gavelis ( 1892-1969);

2. In 1919-1920 - Captain from Great Britain (later Aviation Marshal) Charles Roderick Carr (1891-1971);

3.In 1920-1927 – Lieutenant General Juozas Kraucevièius ( 1879-1964);

4. In 1927-1934- General Staff Colonel (later – Division) Stasys Pundzius ( 1893-1980);

5. 1934-1940 – Brigadier General, engineer, Antanas Gustaitis (1898-1941;

Carr's own write ups are a little "obscure" about his time in Lithuania

Carr does not appear to have spent very long in post. In 1919 a German Junkers F13 low wing passenger monoplane on a secret flight from Germany to Russia came down in Lithuania and was confiscated. This caused a diplomatic row and German pilots and instructors were withdrawn from Lithuania. As a result four ex RAF pilots were hired of which Major Carr was one. At the time Lithuanian military aviation was divided into two parts the flying school (whose instructors also undertook operationa missions) and the Air Unit of between 20 and 30 aircraft (depending on circumstances). Some of the ex RAF pilots became instructors in the flying school whilst Carr took over the Air Unit from late October 1919 until the first batch of Lithuanian pilots arrived from the Air School in mid December of that year.

BTW Vincas Gavelis was a flight commander in 1919 not airforce commander.

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Just to add a little more to this the Junkers F-13 was so advanced that its operation by German carriers was forbidden until 1923. The secret flight to Russia that came down in Lithuania due to bad weather had Turkish passengers on board - now what was that all about?

A typical F-13 in model form http://modelingmadness.com/contests/thetwenties/Denisk1-72RevellJunkersF-13.jpg

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now what was that all about?

The more I learn about Lithuania in 1919/1920 the more confused I get, as to bot British and German involvement

At one level you had redundant officers earning a crust on both side, on the other you had governments maneuvering for post war positions. And in Lithuania it is not all clear what the reasons were.

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May help - additional to my first analysis

We need to look at Lithuania with the view available in 1919 and not todays 20 20 hindsight. In 1919 the Western Allies believed that the Bolsheviks would loose and a new Imperial Russia would emerge (probably a constitutional monarchy). Although it was plain that Finland and Poland were irretrievably lost to the Bear this new Russia would not look kindly on nations who had connived at other bits of its empire breaking loose. Such bits included the Baltic states and the Ukraine. The British attitude (as expressed in some of Curzon’s papers [he was British foreign secretary]) was that Britain should not be seen as encouraging the independence movements but should actively (if necessary with boots on the ground as might be said today) resist both German encroachments and Bolshevism – a difficult tightrope to walk. This was further complicated by the new Polish government’s insistence that the re emergent Poland should include everything inside its old pre partition 18th Century borders – given the population movements over the previous century and a half this was somewhat ambitious and resulted in conflict with all of Poland’s neighbours. [Middle East peace negotiators please take note].

The result was that Britain did not send a military mission to any of the Baltic states (as this would imply recognition) but created a Baltic Mission. It had offices in all of them but was accredited to none of them. It was not officially a military mission although it performed many of the functions of one and was often referred to as one. Thus where we see the words ‘British Military Mission in Lithuania’ this was not the same as a ‘Military Mission to Lithuania’. Lt.-Col. S. G. Tallents a senior member of the Mission had considerable success in brokering truces, cease fires etc in the region and gained considerable influence with both the Baltic states and Poland, his man in Lithuania was a Colonel Ward. The US government did send a military mission to Lithuania and turned a semi blind eye to the recruitment of a Lithuanian Legion (provided they shipped out via Canada). Indeed the USA appears to have had a more active involvement in Lithuania than Britain.

The mandarins in the British FO came to the conclusion that the Russians would regard the loss of Lithuanian territory much less seriously than that of Estonia or Latvia but that German attempts to make the country a client state (and/or to carve bits off) should be resisted. Germany had a split approach, the main part of the civilian government seem to have considered an independent Lithuania a useful buffer state and connived at equipping and supporting the Lithuanian armed forces but some parts, actively supported by much of the Army top brass, Friekorps and German Settler elements took a more Lebensraum view and wanted Germany to hold onto as much of Lithuania as possible. Rising Allied pressure (including threats of a food embargo) forced the Germans to withdraw from Lithuania in mid-1919 (abandoning the fiction that the Friekorps were not under their control) so they concentrated on building the country up as a buffer state largely dependent on Germany. Much equipment was unofficially gifted to Lithuania (for example most of the Air Unit’s aircraft just happened to be on an unguarded train in an area dominated by Lithuanian units and was ‘confiscated’). Many German officers were employed in the Lithuanian forces.

The British FO recognised that to remain independent of Russia Lithuania would need a strong regional backer. Only Germany or Poland could provide this. The FO favoured Polish support (there were a number of very pro Polish civil servants who regarded Lithuania as effectively part of Poland) and so effort was put into diminishing Germany’s influence and encouraging an arrangement with Poland. This was made difficult because of Poland’s aggression towards its Baltic neighbours and its duplicitous treatment of various truces and peace agreements.

The appointment by the Lithuanian mission to Paris, led by the Lithuanian Prime Minister Voldemaras, of Crozier (with Muirhead in support) as Inspector General with responsibility for organising and training the Lithuanian armed forces does not appear to have been the result of any British grand scheme but it certainly met with Curzon’s approval who referred to it as a “splendid opportunity” and one of which he hoped to take advantage. He was to be disappointed. Crozier himself described his mission as “a ghastly failure, due to various causes”. Crozier’s view of these causes differs from other observers, in his view it was all down to “discontent among the unpaid soldiers had been increased by the extravagance and greed of the political leaders; and it was finally fermented to explosion by the Poles with the aid of a certain charming international lady of undefined morals” others took a different view. In spite of (or possibly because of) his reputation as a martinet Crozier had problems with discipline- one of his own British staff officers attempted to assassinate Crozier for restrictions the latter had placed upon his love-life. There were mutinies amongst the men whose training he was organising, large numbers of his staff resigned. “With an abundance of redundant British officers, Crozier had failed to restrict his corps to a size the Lithuanians could afford, or to exclude officers ‘of the wrong type’.”

Voldemaras, who had appointed Crozier was ousted as Prime Minister and there was resentment over the placing of foreigners in positions of influence (such as inspector General of the army). At the same time Crozier resisted British attempts to broker Lithuanian and Polish cooperation in pushing Bolshevik troops out of the country and fell out with Ward so that he was in effect at loggerheads with the British Government. He was shortly to be in disagreement with his Lithuanian employers as they entered into an arrangement with the Poles for joint operations against the Bolsheviks which he disparaged. The threat of German influence was diminishing as a result of Allied diplomatic pressure and downright threats (guess which was most effective) against Germany was causing a drawback by their forces and this was further hastened by a curious incident. Junkers had developed the F13 airliner, all metal with a fully enclosed passenger compartment this monoplane was very advanced for the time and the Allies had decreed that it was for export only and must not be operated by any German organisation. Despite this an F13 named Annelise took off from Berlin in October 1919 with a German crew and a passenger load of Turkish diplomats and headed for Russia. The mission was secret. The aircraft was forced by bad weather to land at a Lithuanian airfield. The Lithuanians impounded the aircraft and interned the crew and passengers. Despite German protests Lithuania refused to allow the travellers to fly on to Russia when the weather improved and deported them back to Germany (Annelise stayed to serve in the Lithuanian air force). The result was a serious diplomatic incident and Germany withdrew a number of officers who had been assisting/serving in the Lithuanian forces. The gap was filled by unemployed British, French and possibly American officers on a temporary basis.

So the training wasn’t going well and Crozier had created tension between himself and the British and Lithuanians. The threat posed by Germany was dwindling and, with Polish help, the Bolsheviks were about to be driven out. There seems to have been little point in Crozier any more. I suspect he may have been shown into a small room with a bottle of whisky and a loaded resignation letter on the table. Some of his remaining officers accompanied him to Ireland and the Auxillaries.

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Nice long text you've written there Centurion. Sorry to comment on it, particularly on issues that are only tangentially related to Britain's post 1918 involvement Lithuania. But...

In 1919 the Western Allies believed that the Bolsheviks would loose and a new Imperial Russia would emerge (probably a constitutional monarchy). Although it was plain that Finland and Poland were irretrievably lost to the Bear this new Russia would not look kindly on nations who had connived at other bits of its empire breaking loose.

In regards to Poland, I am sure you're correct. Or, at least I don't know enough about Poland to be able to disagree with you. But, in regards to the Western Allies and independent Finland I think you have simplified (which is probably a good idea) the matter somewhat.

From what I am to understand, the White Russians leadership could hardly be described as unified and I know that people in Finland, Regent Mannerheim for example, (possibly) considered that both the Western Allies and the White Russian "leadership" supported an independent, non Communist Finland.

I guess the real problem I have with what you wrote was your use of the word believe, as in "the Western Allies believed". Certainly in Finland's case, and I suspect the other newly independent states in the region, what the leaders of those states believed the reality to be, as well as, what the White Russian's intentions were vis-a-vis that country is, in the present day, very hard to ascertain with the Histories we have. History, as they say, is written by the victor.

Whether the policies of the Western Allies were based on a belief in the White Russian's impending victory in the Russian Civil War, or were a reaction to the then current situation, is very difficult to now judge.

As a concrete example, I could offer Britain and the U.S.A.'s acceptance of Finland's independence in the summer of 1919. Was this just a realisation that the Red's were going to be harder to beat than previously thought and, as an enemy of my enemy is my friend, independent Finland should be supported? Or, was is a repudiation of the White Russian's desire to recreate Mother Russia in line with Wilson's 14 points?

A, perhaps, better example could be France, who had recognised Finland's independence in January 1918, selling Finland (a nation that still had some pro German sympathies) tanks and bombers in 1919. There were some border incidents around this period between the Finnish army and British forces and I would imagine that the French giving Finland modern weapons wouldn't have been appreciated very much in London

I might actually stop here. I'm not really saying anything useful, particularly in regards to Lithuania. But, the beliefs of the Western Allies during that period... complex stuff in such muddy waters

Germany had a split approach, the main part of the civilian government seem to have considered an independent Lithuania a useful buffer state and connived at equipping and supporting the Lithuanian armed forces but some parts, actively supported by much of the Army top brass, Friekorps and German Settler elements took a more Lebensraum view and wanted Germany to hold onto as much of Lithuania as possible. Rising Allied pressure (including threats of a food embargo) forced the Germans to withdraw from Lithuania in mid-1919 (abandoning the fiction that the Friekorps were not under their control) so they concentrated on building the country up as a buffer state largely dependent on Germany. Much equipment was unofficially gifted to Lithuania (for example most of the Air Unit’s aircraft just happened to be on an unguarded train in an area dominated by Lithuanian units and was ‘confiscated’). Many German officers were employed in the Lithuanian forces.

By, German Settler elements, do you mean to imply that German people were moving into the Baltic states in 1919? Or, are you referring to descendants of the Tuetonic knights who had been the ruling class of the Baltic states for centuries? Appreciate your use of the term Lebensraum. As while even though I'm not sure if that term was already in use then, there was, in my opinion, clear precursors of later Nazi party policies in German activities in 1919. And before forum member John Gilinsky gets excited, I should specify I am not talking about the Holocaust. Rather, I am referring to the ancient concept of the Nordmark/ Ostmark, which if I understood Mein Kampf correctly concerns "civilised people" i.e. Germans, defending European culture and pushing back (I am just going to call them) the Others, further East

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I might actually stop here. I'm not really saying anything useful, particularly in regards to Lithuania.

As the thread is on British involvement in Lithuania, I have to agree with that. And ask contributors to keep to Lithuania, otherwise we loose the plot here.

I am very grateful to Centurion for that detail piece on British involvement, and also German involvement with the Freikorps - I now recall references to Lithuania when I was researching them. I was only interested in what they did up to Munich in May 1919, but some certainly did go to Lithuania after that. Your explanation gives me a much better grasp of what was going on, and coupled with the chapter from Crozier own book, which I have now read, puts the Lithuania operation into much better focus for me.

So as I understand it there was

  • British Military Mission in Lithuania
  • Lithuanian Army with Crozier and a number of British officers

What was Crozier's relationship with the British Military Mission in Lithuania? Close, arms length, they ignored each other, ...?

one of his own British staff officers attempted to assassinate Crozier for restrictions the latter had placed upon his love-life.

I suppose I am wandering off the historical trail here into redtop journalism, but on first reading it would seem unlikely that a staff officer would try to assassinate his boss for that reason!

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No as I said there was no Military Mission, There was a Mission to the Baltic that was described as Economic but performed many of the roles of a military mission this part was led by Tallent who had some people under Colonel Ward in Lithuania. The term Military Mission was avoided (except by journalists and many historians!). Perhaps its fair to say that it was a military mission de facto but not de jure. AFAIK the relationship between Wade and Crozier was Wade passing on instructions/suggestions from Tallent (and ultimately Curzon) and Crozier ignoring them.

Apple

There had been a steady drift of German settlers into Lithuania from the 18th century onwards. No great migration but a gradual accumulation.

Some of Curzon's own notes indicate that he believed in 1919 that the Bolshevik revolution would fail (and don't forget that at that time the Whites had had some significant successes in a number of places). He also seems to accept that Polish and Finnish independence is an irreversible fact

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AFAIK the relationship between Wade and Crozier was Wade passing on instructions/suggestions from Tallent (and ultimately Curzon) and Crozier ignoring them.

Thanks, that seems to be the bottom line of it all.

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charlesmessenger

From what I have so far been able to discover from Foreign Office files at Kew, the official policy towards Crozier and his team was that they were to be considered as officers of the Lithuanian Army and that they were private citizens. Hence Tallents could suggest, but certainly could not instruct Crozier. The two did, however, co-operate, at least initially and had some success in improving relations between the Lithuanians and Letts. Curzon certainly kept the FO informed during the setting up of his mission, but appears not to hace communicated with them once he arrived in-country. On his return to UK he arranged for his diary of his time in Lithuania to be sent to the FO, but they promptly lost it! This was in the hope of gaining FO employment.

Croizer himaself saw his prime task in Lithuania, at least initially, as getting the Lithuanian Army in shape to counter the threat from von der Goltz.

As for the Tallents mission, which became officially known as the Batlic Mission, it became discredited by the FO, mainly because of the behavious of some of its members. Ward himself was accused by the Lithuanians of drunkenness and other debauchery, although nbo concrete evdence was found of this. He later became editor of The Times.

Charles M

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Thanks Charles, that is very informative

Lest I confuse myself further, I assume

"Curzon certainly kept the FO informed during the setting up of his mission, but appears not to hace communicated with them once he arrived in-country. "

Should. I assume, have Crozier as the first word, not Curzon - though I loathe to assume anything with the Lithuanian Affair

Amazing how badly behaved British officers were ! I like the fact that Ward later became Editor of The Times

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Given that Curzon's remark that Crozier's appointment was a splendid opportunity I think Charles meant Crozier. Curzon was the sort of "most superior person" who would be unable to distinguish between a suggestion and an instruction

I believe that accusations against Wade came from The Lithuanian Foreign Minister Puryckis, given that the latter was to be convicted in the near future of Cocaine trafficking one wonders how reliable such reports were. The accounts I have seen relating to Tallents recall suggest that they are related to General Zeligowski’s ‘Lithuanian-White Ruthenian’ Division [being a sort of Polish Friekorps] seizure of Vilnius for Poland in October 1919 two days after Poland had formally acknowledged Lithuanian rights to the city. As Tallent [under FO instructions] had brokered Polish/Lithuanian cooperation to drive the Bolsheviks out of Vilnius his, and his mission's credibility in the Baltic nations was in tatters

It's interesting to see Curzon's advice to the Briish Prime Minister on Lithuania towards the end of 1919

"Lithuania is not a state that can stand permanently by itself, as recent events have proved, if indeed proof were needed. She must eventually either be absorbed in a reconstituted large Russia or join herself in some organic way to Poland, and it may reasonably be argued that the latter is the preferable alternative. The ethnographic question is largely, if not wholly, bound up with the eventual orientation of Lithuania. Vilna itself has a non-Lithuanian majority, and, in the event of a Russian absorption of Lithuania, its assignment to Russia would be objectionable."

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