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stonysleep

British Forces in Russia 1918-1920

17 posts in this topic

As part of researching my great grandfather, Captain HA Brett, part of his obituary (he died after both world wars in 1959) says that after the first world war he was part of a british force that was sent to russia.

I do not know whether he was discharged from his regiment where he was attached to the Worcesters in gallipoli or if it was a different one.

I'm assuming the expedition he was involved in was the allied intervention in the russian civil war

The wikipedia entry mentions these regiments from the British army as being involved:

But it is probably incomplete and lacks detail.

So I think firstly, I'm after a list of regiments which were involved

Next, looking for the detail of the British Force's involvement in the expedition, as having read the wikipedia entry i'm still not entirely clear what the expedition was all about as it seems there were numerous purposes.

And then finally, if anyone has any pointers on how I would best find out whether he did indeed serve in this expedition, which regiment, and where he would've served.

This last part is not as easy as the world wars as it wasn't a war in itself and imagine there weren't medals awarded for this expedition in itself.

Anyway, hope someone here can help out

Many Thanks

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Seek out "Churchill's Crusade" by Clifford Kinvig - this has comprehensive details. Certainly in North Russia the 45th and 46th Battalions of the Royal Fusiliers are missing from your list, as are several units of the Machine Gun Corps and of the Hampshire Regiment. Some of these units were specially raised using volunteers.

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Next, looking for the detail of the British Force's involvement in the expedition, as having read the wikipedia entry i'm still not entirely clear what the expedition was all about as it seems there were numerous purposes.

This is a tricky topic to study. I've read extensively on it and I'm still not entirely sure of a lot of things. There was a lot of Intelligence operations going on which range from mild to pretty shady. I think there is somewhat of a consensus that the British were there originally in some sort of attempt to reopen the Eastern Front to divert German troops, although this obviously would not apply to the time period you're looking at. The Bolsheviks were not particularly popular abroad, and the British/French had a lot of financial interests in Russia that the Bolsheviks were looking to wipe their hands of. I've read reports of American troops who were in Northern Russia and had little idea as to why they were still their in 1919. Can't remember where I read them though.

Michael Occleshaw's 2006 work, Dances In Deep Shadows, is an interesting work which offers a lot of insight as to what the Allied Intervention was all about. http://www.amazon.co...88&sr=8-1-spell

Good luck with your research.

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I think there is somewhat of a consensus that the British were there originally in some sort of attempt to reopen the Eastern Front to divert German troops, although this obviously would not apply to the time period you're looking at.

Good one sentence summing up, IMO.

Although, Stonysleep didn't actually mention any dates. After Nov. 1918 The Entente wasn't so concerned with the Germans, but they still had some serious issues with Germany's involvement in Eastern Europe.

Originally, originally (if that's a phrase) the British arrived in Murmansk and Archangel to prevent the Germans getting access to all the supplies that had been shipped into Northern Russia from the West. This wasn't just rifles and guns, but there was copper and alsorts of raw materials stockpiled up there too. Was vague concerns about Germans establishing U-boat bases up there and permanently preventing The Entente access to Russia through the Arctic.

Overtime the Soviets became the enemy.

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In the book Liverpool Pals by Graham Maddox there is a mention of the Kings Liverpool Regiment serving in Russia.

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The 13th Yorkshires (Green Howards) also served there, sailing from Dundee and arriving November 1918.

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I did a little research in this area some years ago whilst researching my grandfather's war. My understanding is that the British forces comprised of two groups: Syren and Elope. I did some digging at the National Archives, if you are in or near London then a visit may be a good idea.

Starting place:

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/searchresults.asp?SearchInit=0&txtsearchterm=Syren+Force&txtfirstdate=1916&txtlastdate=1920&txtrestriction=&hdnsorttype=Reference&image1.x=32&image1.y=6&image1=GO

and

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/searchresults.asp?SearchInit=0&txtsearchterm=Elope+Force&txtfirstdate=1916&txtlastdate=1920&txtrestriction=&hdnsorttype=Reference&image1.x=37&image1.y=5&image1=GO

I did - eventually - find some relevant bits and pieces that helped my understanding, but it was a bit of a hard slog. Worth doing though.

Dave Swarbrick

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Syren and Elope were in North Russia only. There is also the Army of the Black Sea and forces in Vladivostok.

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Many thanks for all the replies - apologies for not looking back at this sooner.

It's reassuring to know that it isn't just me who has found the topic "tricky to study" as JesseM88 puts it.

I've been doing some more work and found quite a good site which lists all military operations 1919-1939 and the units involved:

British Military Operations 1919-1939

It is quite extensive, and lists many units involved in the North Russia, South Russia & Black Sea, and Siberia operations

I've also collated the books mentioned in the main topic on the allied intervention which should make for a fair amount of reading though the Churchill's Crusade and the Michael Occlelshaw book sounds like i may have to add them to the list.

I'll have to make another trip down to Kew to look at the documents Dave Swarbrick highlighted. Think it might be a fairly heavy one given none of them have been indexed so not got any hints on where to start.

As far as dates go i don't have much to go on for my great grandfather and am still piecing together his gallipoli service and hope to work out how it linked in with this expedition.

Some of the information I've read seems to suggest that some of the forces were sent from the middle east through what is now Azerbaijan to protect the oil fields so it is not impossible that it was through that that he entered Russia. I purchased the 2 volumes of fitz and stacke's worcestershire regiments in the great war and been going through the eastern front section of that to try and glean any kind of lead on how he might have got there.

So, overall still much to uncover, and again thanks for the help.

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On reading the above, I was unable to access the link in post 9, but located an archive link at archive.org

British Military Operations 1919-1939

https://web.archive.org/web/20140816025747/http://orbat.com/site/history/historical/uk/ops1919-39.html

This was a link from the archived page

Historical Orders of Battle and TOEs

https://web.archive.org/web/20140915225340/http://www.orbat.com/site/history/1900-38/index.html (In turn from the archived version of http://www.orbat.com)

Cheers

Maureen

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On US forces in North Russia there is a book "The Ignorant Armies" on them.

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I recently came across an online book

Books on Soviet Russia 1917-1942: A Bibliography and a Guide to Reading by Philip Grierson, published 1943 Archive.org

https://archive.org/details/booksonsovietrus030476mbp

 

Page 45 contains a heading Intervention in North Russia and there is a heading on page 53 Georgia and Transcaucasia 1917-1924

 

There are also entries elsewhere, for example I noticed Over the Balkans and South Russia, 1917-1919 : being the history of No. 47 Squadron Royal Air Force by H. A. Jones.1923, on page 51

 

One of the books mentioned on page 24 is  available online: (click on coloured text)

  • It appears to have been published under three slightly different titles: Memoirs Of A British AgentMemoirs of a British agent : being an account of the author's early life in many lands and of his official mission to Moscow in 1918; and British Agent, by R H Bruce Lockhart 1932.  Two transcribed formats: gwpda.org and  spyculture.com. Also  pdf download Digital Library of India. R. H. Bruce Lockhart Wikipedia.

 

Another online book is 

Bolos & Barishynas : being an account of the doings of the Sadleir-Jackson Brigade, and Altham Flotilla, on the North Dvina during the summer, 1919 by G R Singleton-Gates 1920 Archive.org

https://archive.org/details/bolosbarishynasb00singrich

 

For online books on British military involvement in the Caucasus/Transcaucasia and Transcaspia/Turkestan see the FIBIS Fibiwiki page Norperforce

http://wiki.fibis.org/index.php/Norperforce

 

Cheers

Maureen

Edited by Maureene

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I have a pile of information on Northern Russia ... compiled just after ww2 here is a map of that theatre from that War Office 1919 dated .... also have a bit more ;)

 

russia 1919 map.jpg

russia 1919 detail.jpg

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Col Lawrence Howard MacKenzie DSO VD ...Awarded DSO for action at Segeja Northern Russia 1919 ... DSO letter was to be presented at its investiture in Halifax 1920 is stamped with military district #6 Halifax ink stamp details of his other medals are provided typed by him from a large file I have on his military experiences and his research on the history of his local unit

MacKenzie2.jpg

17190378_10212345214687050_5510625533198522643_n.jpg

LHM Croix de Guerre.jpg

LHM Order of St Anne.jpg

LHM White Eagle.jpg

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To cross reference a recent post I made on this subject

Includes reference to a recent book The Allied Intervention in Russia, 1918–1920: The Diplomacy of Chaos by Ian C Moffat

 

Also one of the online books mentioned in my post 13 above, Memoirs Of A British Agent,  is now available on Archive.org.

https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.80541 This is a mirror version of a file from the Digital Library of India (there  are three for this book) and in time will be able to be read online, but currently  is only in download form.

 

Cheers

Maureen

 

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I recently posted the following in another topic but it also seems relevant here.

I came across the following online book

Archangel : the American War with Russia  by a Chronicler 1924.

The author elsewhere is stated to be John Clarence Cudahy

https://archive.org/details/archangelamerica00bych 

 

The initial chapters of the following book concern the political situation  in Russia WW1 period, and the role of British agents.

https://archive.org/details/HIST3750GreatConspiracyAgainstRussia

The Great Conspiracy Against Russia by Michael Sayers and Albert E. Kahn 1946 Archive.org 

 

Cheers

Maureen

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