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Remembered Today:

British POWs in Russia 1918-1920


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Does anybody know whether there is a definitive list or lists of British servicemen captured by the Russians (I am assuming the Bolsheviks) during the various interventions at the end of the war. I am aware of some lists held at Kew from Ian Beckett's WW1 Guide. I am on a bit of what might be a wild goose chase trying to identify a man who was supposedly a POW in Russia at the end of the war. The infomation is extremely sparse or I should say non existant as the person who is asking has no idea of a regiment or regimental number.





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  • 2 weeks later...

Having had the chance to consult Statistics of the Military Effort of the British Empire during the Great War I found a table for approximate casualties in Russia (11 November 1919 to 1 March 1920) that gives a total of 26 officers and 85 other ranks reported as missing including prisoners during this period. The largest group were 14 officers and 75 men from the Archangel taskforce followed by 11 officers and 7 men missing from Vladivostock. 


The man I am trying to help identify is a Alfred Charles Owen(s); but with basically no other information. I think that if he was a POW in Russia it is likely that he served with the forces in Archangel.





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  • 7 months later...

I have compiled a roll of approximately 120 British and Commonwealth serviceman from all three services held as POW's by the Bolsheviks in Moscow.


I do not have an Alfred Charles Owens listed as POW but I do have an Alfred Owens as KIA:


OWENS, Alfred, 330381 Pte., 17LpoolR,  07.12.18, attack on Seletskoe


Is this your man?


The roll appears as an appendix in my book: Churchill's Secret War with Lenin: British and Commonwealth Military intervention in the Russian Civil War 1918-20 (Helion, 2017).


I note your username you may be interested in the tale of one Royal Marine POW held in Moscow, Pte. Thomas Pyle (sometimes spelt 'Pile') who was severely wounded in action during the attack on the village of Koikori south of Murmansk on 8th September 1919. He was a platoon scout who had crawled forward to bomb the Red Army positions with Mills bombs but after he was wounded had to be left in front of the enemy positions.


His wounds were so bad that his leg had to be amputated by a Soviet doctor. He was held in Moscow as a POW until release in March 1920. In October 1920 he was gazetted for award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal. He is also mentioned on page 211 of Blumberg.


Pyle had previously served with 1st RM Bn., Royal Naval Division on the Western Front 1917-18 where he was wounded.


There were several other awards gazetted after release in 1920 to servicemen who had been held as POW's in Moscow.



Edited by wrightdw
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  • 3 weeks later...



Thank you, this might well be the right man.


My nom de plume relates to my interest to the corps, but my focus is much earlier. However, the whole episode of the British intervention in Russia has always intrigued me and your book looks superb so I've ordered a copy.



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