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Remembered Today:

British Generals and the Russian Campaign


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The book I`m reading ( Ken Follett, Fall of Giants - admittedly not a factual history) suggests that the British forces were sent to Russia to support the White Russians without the approval of either parliament or the generals. Is it known what the attitude of the British High Command, RAF and Admiralty actually was?

The British forces employed were:-


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Check out my book on the campaign in my signature. You can preview by clicking on the cover image at the amazon link. I include a full order of battle as an appendix.


Essentially the first British troops sent to Russia were a party of Royal Marines and sailors from HMS Glory and HMS Cochrane despatched to Murmansk in North Russia to protect the ice-free port form German troops in Finland. The first battles fought by British troops in Russia in March-May 1918 were against German allied White Finnish troops.


Relations with the local soviets was initially tense but cordial however the British resolved the diplomatic uncertainty when they attacked and occupied the Soviet held White Sea city of Archangel/Arkhangelsk in August 1918. Thereafter the British pursued a war against the Soviets in Russia however the objective was always to reopen the Eastern Front which had been closed since the November 1917 Bolshevik revolution.


One of the largest battles fought by British, Canadian and US troops in North Russia was fought on 11 November 1918, the defence of the village of Tulgas on the Dvina River against Red Army troops attacking from the forest wearing white smocks as camouflage against the snow. The men did not learn of the Armistice on the Western Front until the following day.


After 11 November 1918, there no longer being any objective to reopen the Eastern Front, the British policy was exclusively the overthrow of Lenin's Bolsheviks (later known as Soviets) from power which Winston Churchill (who became Secretary of State for War in January 1919) was a huge proponent in spite of reluctance amongst his parliamentary colleagues to become embroiled in the Russian quagmire having just been through the most brutal conflict in human history up to that time.


It is a very interesting although little known part of British military history.


My book is about British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and Indian military operations in Russia and experiences of the individual soldiers, sailors and airmen rather than the political side of things.



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  • 1 month later...

Thanks, gents. As you say, a little known part of our history.

It doesn`t seem to appear in the Official History of WW1?

Edited by PhilB
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  • 1 month later...

According to Colonel Josiah Wedgewood DSO (MP for Newcastle-under-Lyne) , the Royal Navy entered Vladivostok in January 1918.  In Parliament, he asked the Prime Minister whether he would "lay papers in connection with the intervention and operations in Siberia" when the subject was debated in 1920 (Hansard Volume 131).  Winston Churchill did prepare a "Narrative of Events in Siberia 1918-1920" and the preamble states that "This account has been written with a view to its possible publication as a Blue Book, should that course be deemed advisable..."  This was never published and remained closed until 1970;it is available in the National Archives at Kew along with the telegrams and weekly maps which the War Office published showing the deployment of about 125,000 Allied troops in Siberia during the intervention.  The only HMSO document (Blue Book) which mentions the British campaign in Siberia that I have found is "The Official Names of the Battles fought by the Military Forces of the British Empire during the Great War 1914-1919". 


As far as the High Command is concerned, there is plenty of evidence to show that the Chief of the Imperial General Staff and senior Army officers very strongly supported the British campaign in Siberia.  For example the telegrams relating to the authorisation of the Anglo Russian Brigade in Ekaterinburg, commanded by Brigadier James Blair in May 1919.


Further details and references are in my book, Churchill's Abandoned Prisoners.

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