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Remembered Today:

The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming!

John Gilinsky

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In all probability this topic has been covered before but since I could not locate any immediate or immediate past references to same I am posting the following:

"An oft repeated rumour that Russians were being transported through England to France has been variously accounted for. Perhaps an explanation of the beginning of these russian stories has now been received. England imports normally large quantities of Siberian produce by way of the Baltic, including eggs, which are known in the trade as "Russians." When the Balstic was closed by the war, English importers arranged to have these shipments continue via Archangel, and in confirmation of these plans the following telegram was received:

'65,0000 Russians will arrive at Aberdeen as arranged.'

Somebody less familiar with trade than with war stories saw this telegram. Rumour spread it and the whole British Admiralty with a press bureau and official denial is powerless to stop it."

SOURCE: "The Canadian Mining Journal..." Volume XXXV, Issue Nr. 23, December 1, 1914, p. 784


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Last week I attended a college reunion for historians,

In the SCR we found an old book of wagers, in which post graduate students were invited to suggest topics for their fellow academics to bet on.

An entry for September 1st 1914 wagered that the rumour that Russian troops had landed on British soil was unfounded.

This was literally enjoyed with the coffee and port !

I hope I've got the date right : it was definitely September 1914, but I'm not so sure about the actual day....whatever, it was testimony to the rumour gaining ground within one month of the outbreak - earlier than I had expected.

The story doing the rounds among the population was that the Russians had arrived with snow on their boots.

Of the rowing crew of the college 1st VIII, summer 1914, seven did not survive the war.

Phil (PJA)

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There were about 300 Russians reported in the Surrey Advertiser at Witley Camp, but they were with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. According to document no. QS3/4/26 at the Surrey History Centre, among them was a Samuel Soholovitch [sokolvitch], a 28 year old soldier who on 31 January 1916 was charged with 'feloniously, wilfully and of his own malice aforethought killing and murding Henri Jolicoeur on 10 January 1916. His trial was at the Surrey Assizes on 23 February 1916, but no plea was taken.

For his service record see http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/cef/001042-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=241494&interval=20&&PHPSESSID=6kfb0e6i0imh2ulskgvj2k1n26.

Hope this is of interest.


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By remarkable coincidence I chanced across reporting of the Soholovitch case in The Times archive yesterday. Jolicouer (who's CWGC commemorated & buried at Bordon Mil. Cem.) had intervened in an attempted stabbing of a Private Lemadeleine by Soholovitch and lost his life as a result. Soholvitch's behaviour seems to have been out of character and it was suggested that it may have been down to epilepsy:

The Times, Friday, Jan 14, 1916

Canadian Camp Stabbing Affair.

An inquest was held at Farnham yesterday on the body of Private Henri Jolicoeur, aged 28, 41st (Montreal) Battalion Canadian Infantry, who was fatally stabbed in the bar of the Prince of Wales Hotel, Whitehill, Bordon, on Monday evening. Private Samuel Soholovitch, A Russian Canadian of the same regiment, has been remanded on a charge of murdering Jolicoeur.

It was stated that Soholovitch twice attempted to stab private Lemadeleine, and when he made a third attempt, Jolicoeur placed himself between the two men and was stabbed in the upper part of the arm by a clasp knife, which severed the axillary artery. The wound was two inches long and two deep. Jolicoeur died on the way to hospital. When arrested Soholovitch said "Send me a Russian captain, I don't want any Frenchmen. Let me have some bullets and I will kill the lot of them."

A verdict of "Wilful murder" against Soholovitch was returned.

The Times, Tuesday, Feb 08, 1916

Sentenced for Manslaughter

At the Hunts Assizes yesterday, before Mr. Justice Darling, a Russian Canadian named Samuel Sohelovitch, indicted for the murder of Henri Jolicoeur, a French Canadian, at Bordon, on January 10, was found guilty of manslaughter. Both men were privates in the Canadian Infantry.

Dr. Bodington, formerly of West Riding Asylum, expressed the belief that the prisoner was epileptic, and as such was liable to outbreaks of unreasoning violence. Major Calder, the prisoner's commanding officer, said his military character was excellent, and he was a clean and soldierly man.

Mr. Justice Darling sentenced the prisoner to 12 months' hard labour, but said that if the authorities could take him out of prison and employ him as soldier, preferably in the Russian Army, he should support such a course.

I wonder what did become of Soholovitch subsequently.


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Thanks PJA, Nigel and Ally for your responses and very interesting illuminating information as to the presence of Russians in England early in the war. Of course there was a sizeable Russian Jewish population in east London in 1914 and during the period 1910 to 1914 more Russians were travelling for business purposes throughout Europe as well.


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