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Intervention in North Russia (1918-1919)

The 67th & 68th Batteries of the 16th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery, served with distinction in North Russia. Read about them in the Canadian Army Historical Section's "Report No. 82, Operations in North Russia, 1918-1919" (pdf file, requires Adobe Acrobat Reader software). The 16th Brigade was formed from the Canadian Reserve Artillery and left Dundee for Archangel on 20 September 1918. Its strength was 18 officers and 469 other ranks; almost all had been on the Western Front and all elected to serve in Russia. A section of the 68th Battery, led by Captain Oliver A. Mowat, fought in the Battle of Shenkursk in January 1919. More information about Captain Mowat's service during World War I on the Western Front and in North Russia (where he died of wounds sustained during the Battle of Shenkursk), can be found here. Also, Carrie Mowat has more information about her great-uncle's military service here and here .

War Diaries of the Canadian Field Artillery (CFA) in North Russia - Library and Archives Canada maintains the War Diaires of the First World War database which contains the digitized images of the War Diaries of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) units. From the start of the First World War, CEF units were required to maintain a daily account of their “Actions in the Field.” This log was called a War Diary. The War Diaries are not personal diaries, rather they are a historical record of a unit’s administration, operations and activities during the First World War. The North Russia CFA diaries are organized into five different collections: 16th Brigade, CFA, 21 Aug 1918 through 31 May 1919, 187 images | 67th Battery, 16th Brigade, CFA, 16 Oct 1918 through 31 May 1919, 40 images | 68th Battery, 16th Brigade, CFA, 09 Oct 1918 through 31 May 1919, 38 images | "D" Force, 16th Brigade, CFA, 01 Oct 1918 through 15 Oct 1918, 3 images | Seletskoe Detachment, 16th Brigade, CFA, 01 Jan 1919 through 28 Feb 1919, 17 images. The 16th Brigade collection dated 21 Aug 1918 through 31 May 1919 includes two sets of October diary pages. The first set (Items 13 through 29) covers the Dvina and Vaga River Front detachment actions for the month of October 1918 while the second set (Items 139 through 187) covers the actions of the Railroad Front detachment from 02 Oct through 30 Dec 1918 (despite being identified as October diaries).

The Canadian War Records Office oversaw the production of motion picture reports from the field that documented the Canadian contribution to the war effort not only on the Western Front but also in North Russia. Canada's National Film Board has archived the Canadian Expeditionary Force WW I film footage and has made it available for viewing on-line at their "Images of a Forgotten War" web site. Their North Russia footage totals more than 40 minutes and is titled "With General Ironside's Forces in North Russia". It contains embedded scene titles and is presented in four parts: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Aircraft over the Northern Dvina River (1919) - A Russian blogger uses words and photos to tell the story of the Slavo British Allied Legion (SBAL) Air Corps operations along the Dvina River in the summer of 1919.

Tank Attack in North Russia - October 1919 - the story of the only tank action in North Russia, which occurred on October 29th when the North Russian tank corps, using tanks left behind by the British North Russia Relief Force, attacked Bolshevik forces and seized five fortified areas along the railroad front, including the Plesetskaya railroad station.

Photos from the Fronts - 21st Century views of the Dvina River Front and the Archangel-Vologda Railroad Front, courtesy of Alexey Suhanovsky of Arkhangel'sk, Russia.

Transcription of Ethelbert E. Daish's Diary: June 5th - October 17th 1919 - Ethelbert served as a Petty Officer in the Royal Navy during World War One. In 1919 he went to North Russia on the hospital ship "London Belle" as part of the United Kingdom's North Russia Expeditionary Force.

A small detachment of 8 officers and 100 sailors from the historic cruiser U.S.S. Olympia (C-6) arrived in Archangel on 02 August 1918. The bluejackets dispatched from the Olympia were the first US military forces to engage the enemy in North Russia. The Olympia is still afloat today and can be visited at the Independence Seaport Museum at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A collection of historic photos of the Olympia can be found at NavSource Online .

American “Intervention” in the Russian Civil War: 1918-1920 - Why did President Woodrow Wilson decide to send American troops into Siberia and Northern Russia on August 16, 1918? . An extended essay written by Scott Reed, a student at the International Academy in Bloomfield Hills, MI, to satisfy a requirement for the International Baccalaureate diploma.

Sir Ernest Shackleton was renowned for his Antarctic explorations. Following his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-17, he asked to serve his country in the Great War and they responded by making him a British Army Major and sending him to Murmansk and Archangel as part of the Allied North Russia Expeditionary Force. The American Society of Polar Philatelists told the story of Shackleton's sub-Arctic contributions in the Jan-March 1995 issue of their Ice Cap News. Mike Jones of London, England recently came across an old book that contained this humorous account of a British soldier in Archangel who had the opportunity to meet Sir Ernest "up-close and personal".

Several photos taken by Cpt. John Edwards, Royal Scots, during the Allied Intervention in North Russia. Includes a photo showing Lt. Ross of the 2/10 Royal Scots ready for patrol at Toulgas and photos of the British icebreaker Olga and the HMS Glory.

"A Christmas Tale -- 1919" - by Hans Von Spakovsky, The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 24, 2008. The son of a White Russian Army officer recounts his father's Christmas of 89 years ago.

Aussies in the North Russian Relief Force The British North Russia Relief Force was organized from volunteers in England during the spring of 1919 for the primary purpose of relieving the British, French and American forces who had been fighting the Bolshevik Red Army during the winter of 1918-1919. Their other purpose was to train the White Russian forces so that they could take over the defense of the local population upon the planned withdrawal of the Relief Force before the next winter set in. More than 200 veterans of the Australian Imperial Forces on the Western Front joined the Relief Force and served in North Russia, including two who were awarded the Victoria Cross for their heroic actions, Sgt. Sam Pearse and Cpl. A.P. Sullivan.

Australians in the ranks of the British Expeditionary Force in the Russian North Vladimir Kroupnik provides an overview of Australian military involvement in North Russia. Mr. Kroupnik's web site also includes the following related accounts:

Australian Army Sgt. John Kelly spent about a year in the British Mission Elope which arrived in Archangel in early August 1918. In 1979, Mr. Kelly wrote a memoir of his experiences in North Russia, 60 years after he left Archangel. Mr. Kelly was a veteran of the Western Front and a "Digger" through and through. The Memoirs of Sergeant Kelly include his blunt assessments of the competence of the other Allied nation's officers and soldiers.

Private Wilfred Charles Yeoman served in the 201st Machine Gun Company of the 46th Battalion of the North Russia Relief Force. He took part in ferocious fighting in summer of 1919 and he kept a diary that covers the period of July 19 - September 9th.

The Memoirs of Private Ernest Heathcote were written in 1920. He took part in fierce battles in August 1919 and miraculously survived, having been wounded several times.

The Diary of Sergeant Perry covers the period of June 16, 1918 through June 17, 1919.

"A 'Pathetic Sideshow' - Australians and the Russian Intervention, 1918-1919", The Australian War Memorial web site includes this encyclopedic article, which was taken from the 'Journal of the Australian War Memorial' No.7, Oct 1985. The same section of this web site also includes a short entry about the North Russia Relief Force.

"Land Forces of Britain, the Empire and Commonwealth - Allied Intervention in the Russian Civil War 1918-1920" includes Causes, Chronology, Results, Forces and Casualties, etc.

"The Evacuation of North Russia, 1919 - Presented to Parliament by Command of His Majesty", by the Great Britain War Office, 1920. This document [PDF version] begins with a written introduction by Winston S. Churchill, dated 15 July 1920. It also contains excerpts from a speech delivered by Churchill in the House of Commons on 29 July 1919 while he was Secretary of State for War, explaining how the situation in North Russia at the beginning of 1919 arose out of the war against Germany. Click here to read both his introduction and the excerpts from his speech.

"History of Kotlas - The Bolshevik Revolution", the story of the Allied Intervention in North Russia from the viewpoint of the the inhabitants of Kotlas, the railway town that was located on the upper reaches of the Dvina River

"U.S. Magazine Rifle calibre 7.62mm Model of 1916", this article tells the story of the 1916 contract between Imperial Russia and the Remington and Westinghouse companies that produced 1.5 million Mosin-Nagant rifles for the Russian Imperial Army. After the Bolshevik revolution, the remaining shipments were embargoed at various Allied ports. From a shipment that had been embargoed in England, the ANREF was supplied with these rifles on the assumption that the 7.62mm rounds would be more plentiful than Enfield ammunition in North Russia. For more information about all of the models of the Rifle Mosin which were produced between 1891 and 1958, visit The Russian Mosin Nagant Page, which is a website and forum for collectors of these type of rifles.

“Allied Rifle Contracts in America - Mosin-Nagant, Mauser, Enfield, Berthier, Remington, Savage, Winchester", by Luke Mercaldo. Wet Dog Publications, 2011. This book includes 53 pages on the history of "The Three Line Rifle, Model 1891 Mosin Nagant". This is the rifle that was used by the men of the American North Russia Expeditionary Force and the author includes information and photos of their use of that rifle in the North Russia conflict.. This book will interest both the casual reader as well as the collector and includes hundreds of photos and illustrations. The other six sections of the book cover additional rifle designs in a similar fashion

Lewis Light Machine Gun - a 4 min. 27 sec video with audio of a live-fire demonstration of the Lewis Machine Gun, which was used in North Russia by the ANREF.

Intervention in Siberia (1918-1920)

"Guarding the Railroad, Taming the Cossacks - The U.S. Army in Russia, 1918 - 1920" by Gibson Bell Smith. This article appeared in the Winter 2002 issue of Prologue Magazine, which is published quarterly by the National Archives and Records Administration.

"A Fight Nearly Forgotten", by Mike Coppock, The American Legion Magazine, May 2008. America's post-World War I military deployment to Siberia could not have been more precarious - or more vital.

"AEF Siberia", by Christine L. Putnam

"American Troops in North Russia and Siberia, 1918-1920", by John Culloton

"America's Secret War" - Daniel A. Leifheit served as a Private in Company C of the 27th Infantry "Wolfhounds" in Siberia. This website was created by his great grandson and it contains information, photos and links pertaining to the American Expeditionary Force Siberia.

The US Army's 31st Infantry Regiment was also assigned to the American Expeditionary Force Siberia along with the 27th Infantry. The 31st Infantry is also known as the "Polar Bear Regiment". The 31st Infantry Regiment Association has their own website here.

"The Russian Railway Service Corps in Japan and Siberia" includes articles explaining the Russian Railway Service Corps' mission plus several hundred photos taken in Japan, China, Mongolia and Siberia during 1918-1920.

"Trans-Siberian Railway in the World History" by Frederick C. Giffin, from the June 22, 1998 issue of The Historian. This article describes at length the role of the Russian Railway Service Corps (RRSC) in the reorganization and rehabilitation of the Trans-Siberian Railway during the Allied Intervention in Siberia, 1918-1920.

"Accidental Army - the Amazing True Story of the Czechoslovak Legion" Order the English or Czech language DVD: "Midst the chaos of World War One and the Russian Revolution, 70,000 Czech and Slovak P.O.W.s switched sides. They became the Czech Legion - an Allied army fighting for a country of their own - Czechoslovakia. Along the way, they captured the Trans-Siberian Railway, half the Czar’s gold, and the heart of a new nation." Preview the English language DVD here.

Russian Revolution and Civil War

"Russian Civil War" - Documentary with archival film about the people and events that led up to the 1917 Revolution and the Civil War that followed. English narration, 9 min. 15 sec.

"Russian Civil War 1918 - 1920" - Overview article from "Wars of the World-Armed Conflict Event Data"

"From the Sea to the River: Admiral Aleksandr Kolchak and the Russian Civil War"

World War One - General

"Doughboy Center, The Story of the American Expeditionary Forces" - presented by the Great War Society

"The World War I Document Archive" - documents and images from World War I

World War Two - "Polar Bears"

The US Army's 339th Infantry in World War II

The Polar Bear Association of World War II - 85th Infantry Division, US Army

The British 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division's "Polar Bear Association" - official website of the Association of World War Two British Army veterans known as the "Polar Bears". During 1940-1942, they participated in the Norway Campaign and also garrisoned Iceland, thus earning themselves the "Polar Bear" divisional insignia and title. They later landed in Normandy shortly after D-Day and fought their way through France, Belgium and Holland. The 49th also fought with distinction on the Western Front during World War One, earning three Victoria Crosses.

Churchill, Iceland and the "Polar Bears" - This article was written by the webmaster for the June 2008 issue of the "Polar Bear News". This is the semi-annual newsletter of the "Polar Bear Association", whose members include WW II veterans of the United Kingdom's 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division, which is also known as the "Polar Bear" division due to its WW II service in Norway and Iceland. The article also describes how the deployment of 4,100 U.S. Marines to Iceland in 1941 resulted in the 1st Marine Brigade (Provisional) also wearing the 49th's "Polar Bear" patch. HMC Robert M. Williamson, USN was attached to the 1st Marine Brigade (Provisional) during their time in Iceland. If you know of any WW II U.S. Marines who served in Iceland during 1941-1942, Richard Duran would like to hear from you. He would also like to hear from members of any WWII USMC groups that served on the U.S.S. Philadelphia during WWII and who might have photos of the actions they took part in North Africa and Southern France. Contact Richard Duran by or by regular mail at 711-300 Sunnyside Road, Janesville, California 96114.

John Crook's War - a web site chronicling the experiences of Lt. John H. Crook, who was a front-line infantry platoon officer with the British 49th Infamtry Division's Hallamshires during the race across the River Seine as they fought and chased the retreating Germans.


White Chapel Cemetery in Troy, Michigan - home of the Polar Bear Monument and the final resting place of these and many other "Polar Bears".

Master Index of Army Records - a list of various types of historical US Army Records and their repositories that has been prepared by the US Army Center of Military History.

Kennan Institute-National Public Radio Russian History Audio Archive - an online audio archive of Soviet and Russian history. The archive consists of recordings dating back to the earliest years of the Soviet state. Included are the voices and speeches of key political figures, including Lenin, Kerensky, Kirov, Beria, Stalin, Gorbachev, and others.

Foreign Command of U.S. Forces by Russell J. Parkinson, 25 Feb 1993. A summary of the various Allied and Multinational Forces in which United States military personnel have operated under foreign command. (pdf file, requires Adobe Acrobat Reader software)

Michigan Heroes Museum (formerly known as the Michigan's Own Military and Space Museum) in Frankenmuth, Michigan has the stories of nearly 50 "Polar Bear" soldiers in their collection.

American Legion Berryhill Post 165 - website of the Post in Midland, Michigan that was named for Pvt. Chester W. Berryhill, Co. F, 339th Inf., who died of disease on 11 Sept 1918 in North Russia.

Photos of the city of Arkhangelsk - a collection of recent photos of buildings, parks, monuments and scenery in the modern city of Archangel. Includes photos of the Allied Cemtery and also a monument dedicated to the Russian victims of the Intervention.

US Military/Veteran Historical Resources - links to hundreds of military and veteran group web sites

How to request Military Personnel Records of veterans who were discharged more than 62 years ago


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This page created and maintained by Mike Grobbel.
Created: 04 July 2002; Last Revised: 04 Dec 2020
The URL for this page is: http://pbma.grobbel.org/polarbearlinks.htm