Home > A.E.F>, Edith Faulstich, Postal History, Siberian History, Stamps, Uncategorized, WWI > The Siberian Sojourn Volume II- Chapter 18

The Siberian Sojourn Volume II- Chapter 18

The Siberian Sojourn Volume II- Chapter 18

– The British –

While the Americans were fighting with guerillas and bandits and working their way to Sviyagino, the British had been active in the field. The latter were proud to have been the first of the Allied troops to arrive in Vladivostok (on August 3, 1918) and never missed an opportunity to call attention to that fact. Almost at once, the British had been shuttled out of the city to the Ussuri front.

However, a number of the British Contingent had been hospitalized. These troops had already fought intensively in Europe and suffered from war fatigue. They were rated B-1, unfit for service in a theater of war. The Tommies called themselves “Members of the Hernia Battalion.”
The official name of the British contingent was The British Military Mission. It was headed by Major General Alfred W. Knox, a former attache in Petrograd.
General Knox had been attached to the British Embassy at Petrograd and had escaped to England at the start of the Revolution in 1917. His knowledge of the Russian language made him a good choice to be sent to Vladivostok to take charge of the British troops. “He was a tall, distinguished person.”
General Graves felt that Knox had considerable influence in shaping the British policy in Russia. “He spoke Russian and was personally known to many of the former Czarist officials; he was naturally autocratic and could not, if he had desired to do so, give sympathetic consideration to the aspirations of the peasant class in Russia whom he characterized as swine.” The White Russians, Graves thought, “convinced General Knox, and I think he was honest in his views, that if the Allies would arm, equip, pay, clothe and feed a Russian force, the Eastern Front could be formed of Russian volunteers. This Eastern Army was to be commanded by Allied and Russian officers, and General Knox though only a few Allied officers would be necessary.”
The British Military Mission consisted of the 9th Battalion, the Hampshire Regiment and the 25th Middlesex Regiment. It was the latter regiment which arrived August 3, 1918, 800 strong. These men had been moved from Singapore and Hong Kong. Many came from the Western Front of Europe and were not too pleased to be again sent into field service. The Hampshires did not leave India until October of 1918. The latter, therefore, landed in Vladivostok after the Americans. The Middlesex and the Hampshire regiments wintered at Omsk and Krasnoyarsk.
Colonel John Ward, commander of the Middlesex Regiment, had the best of his men on the way to Spasskoe by August 5th. The Colonel records that they left to the cheers of the multitude. Those cheers continued to ring in his ears for some time. A battalion of Czecho-Slovaks and a guard of honor from H.M.S. SUFFOLK hailed them and when they marched into town the soldiers, sailors and marines of many nations waved and cheered.
A reference book on the subject, however, reports that the British and Japanese were received in silence while the French and American troops were those who were cheered by the crowds.
It was upon arrival that Ward was directed to move his troops to the Ussuri front. As Commander of Operations, the Colonel had under his charge a small group of his B-1 soldiers. He estimated that some 18,000 enemies would oppose him.
As he marched out of Vladivostok, Ward returned the salutes of groups all along the road. He was a pompous sort of man who had been a Member of Parliament from Stroke-on-Trent. He had also been the secretary of the largest trade union in England. When the war broke out Ward did much recruiting for Kitchener, the propagandist whose posters aimed at stirring the hearts of men and women. Such posters titled “My Daddy had gone to war, has yours?” are today memorabilia of the early war years. Ward’s activity in recruiting men gained his commission for him. He was promoted to colonel and given command of the 25th Middlesex which he began to train on Salisbury Plain. Subsequently he was sent abroad for garrison duty. Two of his companies were left at Singapore and the other two proceeded to Hong Kong.
One of the men serving under Ward was Lt. A.C. Padley. The latter’s diary indicates that he had left Singapore on the SS LAMA and proceeded to Hong Kong where the PING SUEY carried him to Vladivostok. According to Padley, one unidentified man was too sick to face another tour of service. He jumped overboard before the vessel reached Singapore. This caused consternation and sadness. The Lieutenant was saddened at the wanton loss of another man who had done his best.
Padley was born on July 20, 1889 at Dent-de-Lion, Westgate-on-sea, Kent, England. He had grown up on a farm, rented by his father, which had derived its name from Westgate Towers, built in King John’s reign. It was some 800 years old and in good state of preservation. “Almost as good as Westgate Towers in Canterbury,” commented the lieutenant.
In 1914 Padley enlisted in the Royal Engineers at Rugby and was commissioned to the 4th Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers in 1915. A colorful military career followed.
“I was one of the lucky 11 who escaped with two bullets from the Somme Salient in France in 1916. The 9th Dublin Fusiliers had 11 officers in the morning and at nightfall there were but two! That was some blood bath. Afterwards I could peep through the port hole on a hospital ship as she lay at anchor and see the green fields of Old England. I had a brief spell at Somerville, Oxford, which served as a hospital; it had been a ladies’ college before the war. I was booked for India and left with a convoy of eight from Plymouth on May 4, 1917. Rumors said that the Germans knew all about us and were waiting. Incidentally, 55 ships had been sunk the previous week.”
Padley had some fond memories of that trip. He recalled: “The tub went west and still further west for days on end and headed for Freetown for coal. Although the WARMER CASTLE carried chiefly British troops, there were a few civilians among them including Espanoza, a well-known actor at the turn of the century. He accompanied a group on a South African tour. Another was an actress famous for her part in the Chocolate Soldier when it first appeared. She sang bits of it at evening concerts on shipboard.
“Table Mountain — a day or two ashore. Then the Cape. As that time I thought the strip of water separating Holyhead from Dubli
n to be the dirtiest strip known to man, but I had not yet seen the Cape of Good Hope at the ‘right time’ of year! Something of a monsoon awaited us at Durban. We packed sodden baggage in already sodden tents but kind people came out into the rain and invited us indoors. The next day the sun shone and we saw South Africa in all its glory. Durban once seen, is never forgotten. White rollers roaring up the beach for some of the finest surf bathing in the world. Blue mystic shore line of Pietermaritsburg. The whiteness and luxury of the costly buildings; the blue sea and bluer sky and green everywhere. Spent a little time on a Cunarder. . .not built for the tropics. It carried us away.
The EMDEN was around and everyone was scared stiff. Portholes were blinded; not a match for a gasper on deck. Go below and could not sleep; nearly all dying with the heat. Boer tobacco goes rancid in the hold. Bombay and bustle and then we disperse. Some go as far north as the Himalayas. We reach Ambala in the Punjab. . .we travel south to Bangalore; a brief stop at Agra to the Taj Mahal, drill and listen to lectures. Saunter through the sunlit glades of suburban Bangalore when the day’s work is done. Then Singapore with its odoriferous mango swamps, rickshaws, chotta pegs, tiffin club, chatter in the evenings, raffles, etc. Singapore is cocky and complacent and sublimely unconscious of what the morrow may bring forth.”
Padley finally reached Siberia where he continued to report the highlights and experiences of his sojourn there. Usually the meager notations were jotted down with the stubs of the poorest type of lead pencil and were often written in the dark or by candlelight. His 1918 diary was purchased in Mandalay and is today but a burnt and untidy reminder of his activities of so long ago.
The Lieutenant went with Ward on the first trip to Spasskoe along with 500 other men and a machine gun section of 43 men with four heavy type guns. When they arrived at Nilolsk on August 6th there was evidence that a battle had been fought between the Czecho-Slovaks and the Bolsheviks. The men viewed gruesome sights of horribly mutilated Czech soldiers who had fallen into the hands of what Ward termed “the terrorists.” Ward swore with indignation.
Once at the platform of the station at Nikolsk-Ussuri, Ward saw a Japanese rush forward and jam the butt of his rifle into the back of a Russian officer. The sentry grinned when the officer dropped to the ground and writhed with pain. The soldier was so pleased with this act that he was about to repeat it on the Russian woman. Ward drew his pistol to stop him. When the Colonel reported the incident to Japanese headquarters he was scathingly asked why he took the part of a Russian. Although Ward became an opponent of American policy in Siberia, he could not tolerate the Japanese attitude.
At about the time the British arrived, the Bolsheviks (when leaving Baikal Station) had placed guns on two car ferries. They shelled the Czecho-Slovak forces daily. This, however, did not hinder the latter’s progress. Continual artillery action to the east of the tunnel had lasted until about 10:30 August 2nd, and then less frequently. Czecho-Slovak and Russian forces continued to move over the hill.
Gaida was reported to have passed the tunnel to the front on August 2nd and on the morning of the 4th Colonel Kadlets moved his headquarters to the front.
In Vladivostok information was received that the boldness of the enemy made it imperative that the tunnel be completed in order to permit an armored train to pass through the hill no later than August 6th. (Previously we have seen that the RRSC was alerted to this deadline and was working full force.) The British had been directed to move from Vladivostok to the front. Everything was done to prepare the tunnel for passage but rain hindered the work.
By Saturday night, August 10th, the tunnel had been prepared so that eight echelons of Czecho-Slovaks were able to go through. Further movement was again interrupted by a slide and falling rocks which had derailed a train.
During this activity, the British had become firmly convinced that the Allies should have greater forces. This was no new concept, for the British reply delivered to the United States State Department on July 30, 1918 had revealed a clear difference of opinion between Washington and London.
Although approving aid to the Czecho-Slovaks, the British War Cabinet feared that the proposed force was inadequate. Conveying his opinion of the American Aide Memoire to Lord Reading Balfour had written:
“On the other hand we cannot pretend to ourselves nor ought we convey to them that we regard (the) size of the American-Japanese force as in any way adequate to the necessities of the case. To us it seems almost certain that either (the) Allied expedition will fail or that it will have to be largely reinforced; we hope the latter. But these are hopes you can hardly convey to (the) President.”
Ward, now in Siberia, proceeded to Spasskoe where he and some of his men dined with the Czecho-Slovak officer. Lt. Padley made this notation in his diary on August 6th: “We were glad to have arrived somewhere. We relaxed a bit, had an interesting dinner and went to a picture show afterwards, my first cinema in Siberia.”
On the 7th Ward was busy with plans and surveys. According to the Colonel, the British troops were happily received everywhere. He noted that they went to Sviyagino “which was the last fair sized town before the place called Kraevski.” Actually the latter was merely a station without a town but it became a busy spot within range of enemy artillery. At Sviyagino Ward again took tea with the Czecho-Slovaks and discussed the situation. Then he went to Spasskoe and decided that that would be his forward base. The British troops went into quarters wondering what the morrow would bring.
Ward’s interpreter was Lt. Bolsaar of the Imperial Polish Army. The latter accompanied Ward for a long consultation with Ataman Kalmikov, the Cossack leader who was in the good graces of the Allies at that time. His cruel nature which was later to strike fear everywhere he appeared was not yet revealed.
As the war progressed to Kalmikov engaged brutal members of his own clan and ordered wholesale murders of people. One of these henchmen was named Julienk, a member of the Ataman’s “Military Legal Department” which was in charge of carrying out murders. Julienk carried out such notorious deeds as robbing and murdering the Swedish Red Cross agents Hedblom (Swedish) and Opachang (Norwegian). But y rolled into the Amur to the Devil’s Mother.”
A Russian school teacher named A.N. Laremenko became one of the partisans. He reported the incident. Laremenko left an unusually fine account of his experiences and tells of his meeting Julienk in a Vladivostok jail, describing him as a striking example of the really criminal, sadistic type characteristic of those who followed Kalmikov.
Among the Czecho-Slovak commanders who were consulted on the situation were Captains Pomerenshiv and Stefanek who commanded the 8th Czecho-Slovak Battalion. Stefanek had been a brewer in Prague before the war, had been captured by the Russians and had been liberated after the Revolution. He had made quite a name for himself in Siberia and later was to become a General and the War Minister of Czecho-Slovakia. After the war he was killed in a plane crash while on his way home.
The British left Kraevski on the 9th. On the 10th they went on bivouac. Kalmikov was in action at this time.
Until that time the British had been billeted in railway coaches. The Czecho-Slovaks, who always seemed to have a preference for wooded areas as a site for defensive works, now selected one on the left bank of the road and insisted that it would be an ideal site for a British encampment. Riding about on his horse with wanted pomposity, Ward felt that the selection should have been his to make. He rejected the site chosen by the Czecho-Slovaks. He ordered that another site be prepared on the left flank of the woods. It was only 200 yards in front of the suggested site and was at a point where the roads crossed at a hollow spot on the ground. Ward claimed that he would feel more secure in that location pointing to the added protection of tall marsh grass which would serve to hide his position from observation by the enemy.
Men were immediately assigned to dig trenches. The Tommies grumbled at this; they were not in France where they had dug many “bloody” trenches. “France” commented a Tommie, “I wish to God I was there; we might have had Huns and lice, but I bet a free trip to Brighton they don’t have these damned mosquitoes there.” The British were becoming acquainted with the mosquitoes which had plagued the Yanks in another area. The enormous black mosquitoes were furiously attacking everyone. They called them the Siberian Monsters, just as had the Americans. Even in the tropics, there had been no similar insects. The flying black creatures were of an incredible size and ferociousness. Perhaps the only man who derived a modicum of satisfaction was the Colonel himself; he recalled that back in Hong Kong he had innocently inquired if it would be necessary to requisition mosquito netting for his men. He had met with the utter scorn of the Chief of Staff.
“Who ever heard of mosquitoes in Siberia?” the chief remarked reproachfully, “you know, Ward, you are not going to the South Pacific, you are going north.”
Ward smarted under the scorn.
The 25th Middlesex had known with some degree of revulsion the tropical breed of mosquitoes; such were dangerous chiefly as malaria carriers. Ward realized that doubtlessly the C.O. had been right on that day in Hong Kong. Now in Siberia, the coldest of all places he could imagine, Ward wished that the Chief would stop by for a visit and see the huge ugly winged mosquitoes which would suck a man’s blood through a thick blanket as readily as if they attacked his bare skin.
Ward himself reported: “They would find a place in the hair just below the cap and would raise swollen ridges of the head that would become so painful that it became almost impossible to wear any headgear.”
No one had to describe them to the men digging the trenches. One man’s wrists were puffed out level with his hands. Another’s eyes were nearly shut after an onslaught of the insects that had attacked him the night before as he slept.
Nevertheless, the men continued digging; many a thought must have turned to a quiet, peaceful English countryside with gardens and with English cats. At about dawn the trenches were finally completed. The men took pride in the works. According to Padley, on August 13th the British made camp at the perimeter of the woods.
Meanwhile, the Czecho-Slovaks had skillfully constructed a bower hut of tree branches. This was intended for the use of the Command. A hearty laugh went up when the men saw it. The quaint structure seemed completely out of place near their newly dug trenches. One man was reminded of a fairytale in which at any moment Hansel and Gretel would appear. He would have preferred to see their trail of bread crumbs rather than Bolshevik shells.
Still the hut was a serviceable affair and was a good hideaway for the officers or so it was thought, until the rains came. Then the British found it necessary to leave the sanctuary and repair to an old abandoned hut with a wild and yet appealing abandoned garden. One officer with a British fondness for flowers was reminded of his own garden so many miles away. While inspecting the profusion of varieties in this charming uncared-for field, he was suddenly shocked back to reality by discovering a shell which had apparently been left there by the Bolsheviki. Excitement followed and the area was immediately deemed unsafe. The men again returned to the mosquito-infested edge of the dark woods.
Nerves had become taut. An attack was expected at any time. Finding of the shell had made things uncomfortable. Nevertheless, it was generally hoped and believed that although the enemy had complete mastery of the opposite side that he would be easily sighted as he came over the river and into the range of the British rifles.
For what seemed an endless time, nothing happened. The quiet and peacefulness tended to calm some fears. The silence had become a subject for conversation among the men. Apparently, there were no revolutionists in the area. All might have gone along quietly until a ragged old tramp came wandering up the road.
An officer gave the order to detain and inspect the ragamuffin. The latter showed passports which seemed to be in order. The sentries were instructed to allow the man to pass but to direct him so that he could not see the British trenches. In the light of future developments, either the trenches had been seen or the tramp had sensed their location. Wherever his destination led him, the traveller must have reported the presence of the British in that area. Apparently this had been done with such accuracy that by daybreak the enemy artillery began spraying the woods with shrapnel and shells.
“We were at breakfast when one of those damned things dropped within 20 yards of us. It pitched just under a tree and lifted it wierdly into the air,” an officer reported.
Ward cursed the tramp and regretted not having had him shot. After sizing up the situation, the Colonel anticipated that things would worsen. The enemy had expended such a number of shells (some of German manufacture) that the indication was that they had an abundant supply of ammunition. The British had practically nothing to send back and were relieved when the enemy fire finally died down. The respite was short-lived. By darkness the shelling began again. The unequal duel lasted until about 2 am.
Via field telephone communication it was learned that the Czecho-Slovaks were retiring across their front and Kalmikov’s Cossacks were retiring over the river lower down and were taking up a position at Antonovka at the extreme right of the British rear.
The British realized that their position had become dangerous. The next move by the enemy could place the latter near the British line of communications.
“Where in hell are the Japs?” one Tommy asked. The absence of the Japanese resulted in indignation on the part of the British. Lt. Bolsaar, who had remained in the background, now advised: “Don’t trust the Japanese, I know them. They say they will march, but they will not come.”
Many a man was to recall that statement in the months ahead. Colonel Ward was assailed by doubts concerning the Japanese.
Although the British soldier had a reputation of being indomitable in unfavorable situations, some of the men in Siberia were disturbed. “The Fairy Godmother must be with us,” one man remarked, “or we would have been deader than doornails by now.”
Colonel Ward had sent an SOS to the Navy. Until two days before, the British had been able to give an occasional shot in return, but the Bolshevik gunners had found their mark on the two guns which were supposed to prevent any advance attack along the railway. As a result the only two field guns of the British had to be called in to fill that gap. This left the infantry without any artillery protection. It was then that Ward decided to call upon the Navy. He wired Commodore Payne, R.N. of H.M.S. SUFFOLK, lying at Vladivostok, of the untenable position in which the 25th Middlesex found itself. The message stated: “Send artillery assistance at once.”
Payne received the urgent message and, in an incredibly short time, he had fitted up an armored train with two 12-pounder naval guns and two machine guns. A similar train followed behind. The whole was under the command of Captain Bath, R.N., L.I.
Later Ward was to say of this aid: “It was scarcely possible to describe the feeling of relief with which our exhausted and attenuated forces welcomed this timely aid from our ever ready Navy.”
As the armored train came within sight of the Tommies, it did not take them long to place the 12-pounders into action. A memorable sight ensued. One shot ladened directly on the leading enemy engine. Volumes of steam burst from its dies and when the vapor subsided the scene evoked a cheer from the men in the trenches.
This result enabled the British to bring the two Czech guns into position to keep down the fire of the enemy. It also gave the Tommies a sense of security. Their rear was now safe in case they were forced to retire.
Lt. Padley recorded: “When the artificers from the H.M.S. SUFFOLK came up in that armored train and pulled up at the points at Kraevski to forestall an enemy advance it was certainly a welcome sight. This may help to explain why, when anything went wrong in the trenches, a weary soldier could be heard to exclaim; ‘Thank God we have a Navy!’ “
The Bolsheviks were obviously taken by surprise by they appearance of the British train. Later the Bolsheviks began to spray shrapnel but were not able to locate the British guns.
The Navy had given the soldier a new sense of security. The small party in the advance lookout was practically surrounded. Under Petty Officer Moffat they managed to escape, but the enemy was at their heels. It was left to a marine named Mitchell to save them. Seeing Moffat in difficulty, he turned on his knee and faced the pursuers. Their fire was erratic but his was cool and accurate.
As the enemy train advanced to a point near the British defensive works, havoc might have ensued. However, the British 12-pounders were too smartly handled to allow any liberties to be taken.
The Bolsheviks remained silent the next day, but at night they again began to shell the British, this time from a new vantage point. This consisted in the occupation of an Orthodox Church set high upon a hill; the Church tower was used as an observation post. This aroused the indignation of the British, but no orders came to blast the church. As the men waited, an enemy armored train moved up at 9:30 am. four other such trains followed. However, when a flank fire was directed at Ward’s new position the shells fell far short. His remaining gun changed position and by skillful maneuvering it was placed sufficiently near the enemy to put every shot near its mark. One shell was planted directly into the observation tower which caught fire at once and burned to the ground. As the tower burned the Tommies were sorry to see a lovely old church go up in flames; but they realized that lives had been saved by eliminating that observation point.
The veteran Czecho-Slovaks whose gunners were with the British then fired four shots so rapidly that the enemy was deceived into believing that four guns were in action against them. After about two hours the Bolsheviks retired with two guns out of action.
These had not been an easy few days for the British so newly arrived on the Siberian scene; this was also true for the Czecho-Slovaks and the French who had assisted. Yet back in Valdivostok the Japanese official had reported to American Headquarters that merely “some slight operations” had occurred from August 18th to August 23rd in the vicinity of Ussuri. Nothing was divulged as to the strength or location of the Japanese troops. The enemy was said to have been repulsed by machine guns furnished by the French. On August 2nd Japanese Headquarters had announced that the Kalmikov forces had occupied the position of Antonovka and had been attacked on the 20th from the rear but had effected a retreat in the direction of Kraevski situated about five versts distant.
The situation was considered difficult by the Japanese who stated that the village had been defended “under the energetic command of Colonel Pichon.” According to the communique, 8000 men were at Khabarovsk, not too far distant. Five thousand of these were said to be Austro-German and 3000 Bolsheviki. A majority of the inhabitants of that city were considered hostile to the Allies.
The officials in Vladivostok regarded the situation ominous. Nothing had been mentioned about the British who had left the city earlier in the month to cope with the outbreak on the Ussuri line. The Allied commanders considered the Japanese reports distorted. Questions were raised as to what the British, French and Czecho-Slovaks were doing. All that the communiques seemed to mention was the great success of the “glorious Japanese army.”
In the field word had reached the Bolsheviks that the Allied armies were assembling in Vladivostok with the intention  of marching forward to wipe them out. At first the Bolsheviks had not bee impressed by such rumors considering such merely as a ruse; when they saw the British and the Czecho-Slovaks returning their fire, the strong attack of the Naval train and heard reports that the Americans were also on the move, they began to reconsider the validity of the rumors.
The Bolsheviks began to use tactics to confuse the peasants who were already petrified at the sight of so many strangers in their areas. As the Bolsheviks retreated they murdered local residents and pillaged villages. They also warned ignorant inhabitants that foreign soldiers were coming to torture them.
Meanwhile, Col. Ward’s forces continued activity and artillery action in his sector in the woods. Lt. Balsaar continued advising Ward not to rely on the possibility of the Japanese making a flanking move as had been promised.
Ward arose early one morning to see a weary sentry walking his post. In a beautiful, serene Siberian sky the Colonel tried to picture what the coming day would hold in store. The sentry soon aroused the bugler who might have been disturbed in a dream of home to suddenly find himself back in a distant and alien country. After reveille was sounded, the camp was quickly bursting with activity and ready for another endless day.
A phone buzzed. The Czech operator answered; a serious expression appeared on his face. Returning the receiver to its hook on a large tree which served as part of the communication system, he turned to Balsaar.
“Major Pichon wants to see Colonel Ward at once at headquarters. It seems to be very serious,” he reported. Nero, Ward’s splendid horse was brought around at once and the Colonel soon was on his way.
Expressions of anxiety were heard in the ranks. Making his way to headquarters, Ward learned of the gravity of the situation. Pichon informed Ward that large numbers of the enemy had infiltrated between the sentries. The situation required immediate action to prevent annihilation of the Allied forces.
In camp the men had been warned to shoot any stranger on sight. When some men were sighted coming along the road, rifles were leveled.
Suddenly the voice of Percy Dwight was heard. “Wait! Don’s shoot! I think those troops are Czechs.” And so they were. They had become detached from their unit and were searching for the Allied lines.
Ward and Pinchon meanwhile had decided that a withdrawal was the only alternative to envelopment. Orders were drawn up so that a retreat would be both methodical and efficient. The Czecho-Slovaks were to retire first past Ward’s lines and entrain at Kraevski; the British and the French were to bring up the rear. The latter, in turn, were to be covered by an English armored train assisted by a machine gun company of the Middlesex Regiment under Lt. King. “So the evacuation of our splendid position regretfully began.”
The 12th Division had moved up from Sviyagino to deploy the Japanese troops immediately behind the new line. They pushed their right flank out far beyond the Bolshevik positions; early in the evening the Japanese began to envelop the enemy left with their usual wide turning movement. The Japanese units now acted as a reserve and were in position before sunset. The British were ordered to move the observation post of their armored trains 600 yards ahead. Lt. King, Ward’s machine gun officer, was directed to move forward with a reduced company of Czecho-Slovak infantry to protect his advanced post.
Considerable action had taken place on the night of August 22nd. There were constant skirmishes between the British and the enemy. About 8:30 on the morning of the 23rd the British found that the Japanese patrols had quietly retired without giving notice. It was also noted that the enemy was in position on the plain for an attack and had alrea of the enemy. He arrived in time to see a duel between one of the British armored trains and a “rather spirited fellow of the same sort from the other side.”
Shells were falling to the right of the British train on the very road on which the officers were riding. They dismounted and sent the horses out of range. They then boarded the British train and observed the contest.
The situation grew tense. One of the 12-pounders faulted and the British had to retire. They could not go too far back as it was obvious that the terrorists would follow and wreak havoc upon the British infantry in the trenches near the railroad. Capt. Bath was aware of this danger and steamed forward firing rapidly. Shells burst about his target and so bewildered the enemy that the latter retired to safety.
By 7 pm a few sharp rifle cracks were heard. These sounds soon became mixed with the staccato chatter of machine guns. The rolling sound of conflict spread from the center along the entire right front. Until then it had been exclusively a small arms fight. At this point the Bolshevik artillery opened up; the Japanese and Czecho-Slovak batteries followed.
The weather was beautiful and it might well have been another splendid Siberian summer night. Instead, all hell broke loose and the area became a flashing inferno. Ward described it thus: “The silent tree-clad mountains to right and left vibrated with the music of battle, while shell and shrapnel screeched like frightened ghouls over the valley below, where white and yellow men were proving that there is no color bar to bravery. This din lasted about two hours and then died away almost as rapidly as it began.”
It had been a long and hard day. Ward turned into his wagon for the night and started the nightly ritual of fighting mosquitoes. The trains steamed slowly back to Sviyagino and all was silent again.
Ward had not been asleep long when a staff captain from Japanese Headquarters awakened him to deliver an urgent message. It was the order of the day and read: “To Colonel Ward. Officer Commanding Reserves. Operation Order by Lieut.-General S. Oie, Commanding 12th Division, Svagena August 23, 1918.”
“1. All enemy attacks were driven back today. We gained two machine guns and five captives.
“2. The Allied troops will attack the enemy, inflicting upon them an annihilating disaster, tomorrow; August 24.
“3. The Japanese troops will attack the enemy, starting the present line, at 3 o’clock, the 24th, morning.
“4. The reserve British, French, Kalmakoff’s forces, and a few Japanese companies will be under the command of Japanese. Colonel Inagaki will arrive at the north-western side of Dukoveskoie at 2 o’clock tomorrow morning.
“(Signed) S. Oie
“Lieut.-General
“Commanding 12th Division.”
Harry LeMoine Ruggles, Royal Canadian Artillery attached to British Railway Mission
Graves’ book
With the “Die-Hards” in Siberia by Col. John Ward
America’s Siberian Expedition 1918-1920 by Betty Miller Unterberger
Padley’s papers
Padley’s papers
Ward’s book
Colonel George H. Emerson’s Report of the American Railroad Engineers with the Czecho-Slovaks, May 5 – September 1918, WDNA
Emerson’s report
Unterberger’s book quoting Balfour to Reading, Wiseman papers
Padley’s papers
John Albert White’s book
Ward’s book; Graves’ book
Padley’s papers
Ward’s book
Ward’s book; Padley’s papers
Ward’s book; Padley’s papers
Ward’s book
Padley’s papers; Ward’s book; other reports
Ward’s book
Ward’s book
Ward’s book
Padley’s papers
Packard’s report; report from various veterans
Padley’s papers; Ward’s book
Padley’s papers
Ward’s book
Ward’s book
Ward’s book
Padley’s papers
Ward’s book
Ward’s book
Ward’s book
Ward’s book
Ward’s book
Advertisements
  1. January 23, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    signed on 10 February 1947 declared that “The decisions of the Vienna Award of 2 November 1938 are declared null and void” and Hungarian boundaries were fixed along the former frontiers as they existed on 1 January 1938, except a minor loss of territory on the Czechoslovakian border. Two thirds of the ethnic German minority (202,000 people) was deported to Germany in 1946-48, and there was a forced “exchange of population” between Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: