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Archangel Force


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Pte Thomas Aitken 377016 of above Force.

d. 16.9.1918 .

Archangel Allied Cemetery.

I have found out a bit about the Force in forums here and in 1914-1918.

Can someone help me as to what the Force were actually doing in north Russia, or point me in the right direction where I can find out, were they in action ?.

Pte Aitken is listed as k.i.a.

I am researching Pte Aitken

Billy

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Get hold of 'Churchill's Crusade' by Clifford Kinvig - the best single modern account. 2/10 Royal Scots were the equivalent of what the Germans called 'stomach battalions' in Normandy in WW2; men below peak fitness but able to serve - and they had been 'Cyclists'. The poor devils were sent to Archangel to act as garrison troops. It did not go well.

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many thanks, have ordered using the link above

Billy

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Pte Aitken was one of 3 men killed (LCpl and two Pte) at Chamova. The enenmy attempted to land by boat, they were driven off and thier boat was sunk by the monitor M25, it's recorded that all the Russians were either killed or taken prisoner. The Royal Scots found Russia a god foresaken corner of the planet covered in swamp and thick forest. They spent most of the time fighting in Company size elements alongside Americans, Russians and Poles.

As regards fitness etc, the 'Long Road to Victory' by Lt Col A P Skeil (CO 2/10th) records that the Battalion was weeded of all men who were not at least B1 fitness, they were returned to Garrison duty, the numbers being made up from other units all over Ireland, Pte Aitken had came from the Highland Cyclists.

Hope this helps.

John

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that's great John, many thanks.

Billy

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Pte Aitken was one of 3 men killed (LCpl and two Pte) at Chamova. The enenmy attempted to land by boat, they were driven off and thier boat was sunk by the monitor M25, it's recorded that all the Russians were either killed or taken prisoner. The Royal Scots found Russia a god foresaken corner of the planet covered in swamp and thick forest. They spent most of the time fighting in Company size elements alongside Americans, Russians and Poles.

As regards fitness etc, the 'Long Road to Victory' by Lt Col A P Skeil (CO 2/10th) records that the Battalion was weeded of all men who were not at least B1 fitness, they were returned to Garrison duty, the numbers being made up from other units all over Ireland, Pte Aitken had came from the Highland Cyclists.

Hope this helps.

John

thanks again for the above info - having difficulty finding Chamova, can you help ? Pte Aitken is remembered on Kilconquhar War Memorial

Billy

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It's on the North Dwina river, south-east of its junction with the Vaga. 2/10 RS spent all their time campaigning along the Dwina from August 1918 to May 1919. The men were not discards and, under the leadership of Major Skeil, and others, and with the assistance of Poles, Americans, Canadians and Russians, conducted themselves with great valour and enjoyed considerable military success. They were fighting Bolshevik Russians. The history of the Royal Scots has a complete description of the campaign. If you pm me with your e-mail, I will try to send you a copy. Antony

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In all fairness, I am not sure I called them 'discards' - the Battalion was originally all but a

scratch unit having seen little fighting, but that was true of many of the formations, especially

infantry, virtually thrown together for the latter stages of the campaign form a mixture of

delayed demob soldiers, re-volunteers (all the accounts refer to sights such as Corporals

with DSO or MC ribbons up) and so on. Major Skeil did fashion a unit out of them, but they went

under-equipped and under-trained.

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They were certainly ill equipped,they sailed without rifles and found Russian rifles on board which they 'presumed' were for them.

I noticed from casualty returns that they were very much a composite unit, a friends Grandfather was sent to reinforce them in January 1919, he was a 1918 conscript with the Argylls and was a POW March to November 1918.

Also the 10th had been raided numerous time during the war for reinforcements. On the whole I think they coped quite well despite their limitations.

John

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Sorry, Phil. It was my choice of word, not yours, and my comment wasn't in direct response. However, throughout its term of duty on guard on the East Coast of Scotland in 1916/17, the battalion was consistently praised for its high standard of discipline and training. By June 1918, the Battalion was composed of men, most of whom had seen considerable service in F&F. It's true that B1 men were retained when it learned of its posting to the Russian campaign but strength was raised by drafts of men from other battalions. After that, they wrote a brave and gallant chapter into the history of the Royal Scots. Cheers, Antony

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It's on the North Dwina river, south-east of its junction with the Vaga. 2/10 RS spent all their time campaigning along the Dwina from August 1918 to May 1919. The men were not discards and, under the leadership of Major Skeil, and others, and with the assistance of Poles, Americans, Canadians and Russians, conducted themselves with great valour and enjoyed considerable military success. They were fighting Bolshevik Russians. The history of the Royal Scots has a complete description of the campaign. If you pm me with your e-mail, I will try to send you a copy. Antony

thanks for that, found it now - google maps have it as Chomovo.

Billy

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I have a photo (poor quality) of Pte Aitken's memorial in Archangel Allied Cemetery from my visit a few years back.

I found it hard to upload as it kept bouncing back as 'too big', but think I've managed it now.

Pat

post-32188-061441100 1297161917.jpg

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Thanks for the pm, Billy. Glad you got the history. It's from the official History of the Royal Scots 1914-1918 by Major John Ewing. Cheers, Antony

PS great pic to add to thread Pat. Somehow brings home the sadness of dying so far from home.

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thanks very much for that Pat, brilliant - fully agree with Antony

Billy

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  • 1 month later...
Guest gpeddie

L/Cpl John Livingstone

2/10th Royal Scots

I have been researching my uncle John who was killed in the Armistice Day Battle of Toulgas 11th November, 1918. I was able to use THE ROYAL SCOTS 1914-1918 by Major Ewing, IRONSIDE - the biography of General Ironside, Commander of the Allied Intervention in Russia and THE AMERICAN EXPEDITION FIGHTING THE BOLSHEVIKI - Campaigning in North Russia 1918-1919. You will find differing reasons for the Intervention - the protection of huge stockpiles of stores in Archangel being the original excuse.

As regards the Royal Scots being classed Category B = John Livingstone joined the 2nd Royal Scots in France in July, 1916, and survived the Somme battles until Passchendaele when he was badly wounded on 26th September, 1917. On recovery he was transferred to 2/10th and sailed for Archangel from Dundee on the HMT Oporto on 20th September,1918.

The main reason for researching my uncle was to trace where he was killed and if his grave was known. Several hundred burials were made in the vicinity of the village but the CWGC have listed him as no known grave. TIn 1927 the Americans returned to the Russian battlefields to recover the remains of their soldiers and as the graves were known I am puzzled as to why Britain didnt do likewise.

Hope this is of help

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As regards the Royal Scots being classed Category B = John Livingstone joined the 2nd Royal Scots in France in July, 1916, and survived the Somme battles until Passchendaele when he was badly wounded on 26th September, 1917. On recovery he was transferred to 2/10th and sailed for Archangel from Dundee on the HMT Oporto on 20th September,1918.

the Americans returned to the Russian battlefields to recover the remains of their soldiers and as the graves were known I am puzzled as to why Britain didnt do likewise.

Not sure what is the significance of your comment on category B men, toulgas. Can you elaborate? As for not recovering remains, it wasn't the British "thing". It's as simple as that. Antony

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It is worth your while re-posting in the Eastern Front sub-forum here

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showforum=98

People with a specific interest in Archangel force will not necessarily see this thread.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hello. I'm a newbie to the forum, having come across this thread while researching a family member Thomas Aitken. Thomas was born in Colinsburgh, in the parish of Kilconquhar on 8 June 1888 and died in Russia during the war, so I presume it can only be the same person as mentioned here. A family tradition has it that he froze to death while on sentry duty in Siberia, which would seem to be rather an unfair distortion of the truth compared to what I read here ! Anyway it would be fascinating to see whether anyone knows more about his war service - I understand he had previously been with the Highland Cycle Battalion, but his service records appear to among those lost. I am too new to PM any of the previous posters, so will make do for the time being with reactivating this thread and seeing what happens. Robert.

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Hello

Welcome to the Forum :)

You can get details of his grave from CWGC - on this link

Son of Mrs. Catherine Aitken, of The Lodge, Colinsburgh, Fifeshire. (buried Semenovka (Bereznik) Cem. Extension).

Royal Scots: 2nd/10th Bn

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His Medal Index Card shows very little, only his Royal Scots and by inference that he only went abroad after 1915

And Long Long Trail gives

2/10th (Cyclist) Battalion

Formed in Linlithgow, September 1914.

Moved to coastal defence at Berwick until April 1918, then to Ireland.

Reorganised as an infantry battalion, the 2/10th moved to England in July 1918 and to North Russia in August 1918 as part of the Archangel Force, returning home June 1919.

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His Medal Index Card shows very little, only his Royal Scots and by inference that he only went abroad after 1915

And Long Long Trail gives

2/10th (Cyclist) Battalion

Formed in Linlithgow, September 1914.

Moved to coastal defence at Berwick until April 1918, then to Ireland.

Reorganised as an infantry battalion, the 2/10th moved to England in July 1918 and to North Russia in August 1918 as part of the Archangel Force, returning home June 1919.

Thanks for the rapid response, Corisande. I hadn't thought to look at the CWG, so that is new informtaion for me. I agree the Medal Roll Card isn't especially informative, other than dating his overseas service later than 1915. From the database of UK soldiers who died in the Great War, in addition to his Royal Scots details, there is "Formerly 3169, High. Cye. Battn.", suggsting a transfer at some stage.

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Not that informative on Highland Cycle Battalion but quite amusing -link to story

You would need a new post sometime to ask about Highland Cycle battalion specifically (and put a link in to this thread to stop people trying to get info that you have already)

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Pte Aitken most likely was killed at Chamova,the enemy attempted a landing and was beaten off by the RS,the Bolshevik boat was sunk by the gunboat M25 with all the occupants killed or taken prisoner. The 10th had 1 L Cpl and 2 men killed in the fighting.

Edit - thought I had put this on already, are you aware Bill Shears is also researching this man?

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I am researching another soldier of the 2/10th Royal Scots - 353245 Private Albert E Harding.

He served previously with the 11th Essex and was discharged from the Royal Scots in July 1919.

How can I find out whether or not he served in North Russia? I have not located service records.

Mark

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I am researching another soldier of the 2/10th Royal Scots - 353245 Private Albert E Harding.

He served previously with the 11th Essex and was discharged from the Royal Scots in July 1919.

How can I find out whether or not he served in North Russia? I have not located service records.

Mark

Hi there Pte Harding's number is one allocated post January,1917 to the 9th rather than the 10th RS. Do you have some other information that he served with 10th?

John

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