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Keith_history_buff

White Finn POWs

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Keith_history_buff

There is an interesting picture of White Finn POWs and two guards. It is taken from the IWM Collection, Q 16805

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205224759

The description gives a date of 1919, a location of Svyatnavolok and it states that the guards are from the Slavo-British Legion.

I would have expected the photo to have been taken earlier, and for the guards to be from the Finnish Brigade.

 

 

Finnish_deserters.jpg

If the date given is correct, I wonder if these men are about to be repatriated to Finland. Is that a recognisable badge above the Sergeant's chevron?

 

White_Finn.JPG

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Acknown

The Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War began in 1918 and ended in 1920. Not my area, but good old Wiki states that the North Russia force included the following British Army troops:

  • 236th Infantry Brigade
  • 6th Battalion Royal Marine Light Infantry
  • 548th (Dundee) Army Troops Company Royal Engineers
  • 2/10th (Cyclist) Battalion Royal Scots
  • 52nd Battalion Manchester Regiment
  • Elements of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers.

As it's a round badge, I suggest that the RE or Manchesters are possibles.

Acknown

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MartH

Yes but these are White Finns and there were classes between Finnish white troops and the British  forces in Northern Russia.

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Acknown

MartH,

Thank you - I failed to read the caption properly. I found this: 

 

Acknown

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Keith_history_buff

If those troops were not, say, Finnish Legion, but were Slavo British Legion as per the caption, I would have expected to have seen the St Andrew's cross as a cap badge - unless this was early on, before there was a chance to make and issue unit insignia. I think the first recruits joined the SBL in August 1918. Clifford Kinvig's book has a photo of the SBL colour party wearing such cap badges, and sporting large beards too. I presume the picture was taken on 1 June 1919, when they were presented with the colours.

Norman Montague Brooke's 1908 Pattern Australian Army web belt was donated to the AWM. There is an image of it with the cap badge and the shoulder badge, purported taken from a mutineer. 
https://www.awm.gov.au/index.php/collection/C140340?image=2

The facial features of the Finn next to the sergeant are strikingly Finnish.

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wrightdw

Slavo-British Legion at Murmansk was not affiliated with S-BL at Arkhangelsk and had their own 'regimental' identity and badges.

 

The first battles fought by British troops as part of military intervention in the Russian Civil War were Royal Marines from HMS Glory and Royal Navy bluejackets from HMS Cochrane against White Finns west of Murmansk in April - May 1918.

 

The White Finns were German-Allied and would fight the British however the Red Finns were Bolshevik-allied and would fight the White Finns but not Russian Reds.

 

There was an attempt by the British to equip and train a force of Red Finns (known as the 'Finnish Legion') to fight White Finns in Karelia however the British only ended up equipping and arming a force of Red Finns of uncertain loyalty who at any time might have turned on the British. In 1919 a delicate operation was undertaken to disarm and repatriate the Finnish Legion to Finland (other than 100 men who were blacklisted and would be arrested on sight - most of these men were settled in Canada) which was at the time under 'White Finnish' control. The whole operation was fraught with difficulty and is an interesting tale in itself.

 

Command of the Legion was given to a Canadian, Maj. R.B.S. Burton, Manitoba Regiment.

 

The Legion also had its own mountain battery of four 2.75 in. guns.

 

The Finnish Legion was formed along similar lines to the Slavo-British Legion which had an equally undistinguished history.

 

If you are interested in the operations against White Finns in Karelia or the 'Red' Finnish Legion I would recommend obtaining a copy of my book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Churchills-Secret-War-Lenin-Commonwealth/dp/1911512102/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1517966465&sr=8-1&keywords=Churchill's+Secret+War+With+Lenin

 

 

 

53.jpg

Edited by wrightdw

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Keith_history_buff
18 hours ago, Keith_history_buff said:

There is an interesting picture of White Finn POWs and two guards. It is taken from the IWM Collection, Q 16805

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205224759

The description gives a date of 1919, a location of Svyatnavolok and it states that the guards are from the Slavo-British Legion.

I would have expected the photo to have been taken earlier, and for the guards to be from the Finnish Brigade Legion.

 

 

 

If the date given is correct, I wonder if these men are about to be repatriated to Finland. Is that a recognisable badge above the Sergeant's chevron?

 

White_Finn.JPG

 

I have read that the Finnish Legion had a flag, which is now in the collection of the Central Museum of Labour, at Werstas in Tampere, Finland. The flag was a red rectangular background with a white triangle offset to the left. The picture from Damien's book does not show the men wearing cap badges or cloth unit insignia. I wonder if there was eventually a derived cloth unit insignia?

In terms of the original caption, I guess it was politically expedient to refer to them as "deserters" rather than prisoners of war, given that the White Finn incursion into Karelia, which ceased at the end of October 1918, was not a formal war between Britain and Finland. If those men are indeed Finnish Legion, it would not augur well for pictures of former Red Finns with their White Finn captives to be labelled as such. 

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Glosters

Images of the Finnish Legion flag and the enamel badge that was produced (the Finns have a tradition of similar small unit badges). These badges were presented to their British officers. SL is Suomen Legioona. There is a history of the FL but only available in Finnish. Luckily I had a Finnish girlfriend who summarized the book for me - boy did that cost me as she had zero interest in history! While visiting her relatives one Sunday I saw a single British War Medal hanging among other medals in an antiques shop window. The shop was closed and we had to get back to Helsinki. I often wonder whose medal it was. The FL did not receive medals, though some tried to claim them. But I did pick up an SBL shoulder title.
Steve

FLflag2.jpg

FLbadge.jpg

SBL.jpg

Edited by Glosters

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