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Siberian Sojourn-Volumn II, Chapter 16

November 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Siberian Sojourn-Volumn II, Chapter 16

Chapter XVI:  Events to the end of August 1918

As the Americans continued to arrive in Vladivostok they could not help realizing that they were engaged in an international campaign.

Simultaneous with the various summer engagements of the Czecho-Slovaks, the United States, Great Britain, France, Japan and China had issued proclamations on August 3, 1918 announcing intervention. Each stated individual policies with regard to Russia. Washington send orders directing troop movements to Vladivostok; British troops landed on Siberian soil.
Admiral Knight was obviously annoyed that he had to learn from the Japanese foreign officer that American troops would be landing shortly. He sent a confidential wire to Washington asking to be advised concerning this report. Knight had been extremely faithful in keeping Wash9ington alerted regarding conditions so one may well wonder why neither the State, War nor Naval Departments had reported to him regarding American policy. Perhaps no such policy was firmly established.
When the Americans arrived they began to associate with men from other countries. Many happy associations resulted as well as some less happy. When queried about their allies, many confusing and diverse answers were reported. The Americans were most vocal about the Japanese.

– The Japanese –

Japanese infiltration into Siberia had begun as early as the spring of 1918. At that time an unpleasant incident occurred in Vladivostok which served as a pretext to put men ashore. It was the general consensus of opinion that the Japanese had designees on the Russian maritime provinces.

“On April 4th (1918) at 11:00 a.m., several armed men in the uniform of Russian soldiers entered a shop in Vladivostok and demanded money. This being refused, they then shot and killed three Japanese. Early the following morning, Kato (Imperial Japanese Navy) put a party of marines ashore for the purpose (as he put it in a written notification to the Russian officials) of protecting the lives and property of Japanese citizens in the city. A second Japanese contingent was landed later in the day, making a total of 600 men ashore. The British followed suit by putting ashore 50 men as a guard for their consular establishment.
Kato explained to Knight the same day that he had been unable to find any authority on shore to whom he could appeal for the protection of his nationals. He had received information, he said, that Russian communist sailors had planned to loot the city; he thought the attack on the Japanese might have been a premature move in this direction. He had therefore acted under necessity. He had not received any further instructions from his government; but he expected an increase of his force by one more cruiser and three destroyers, to arrive April 6.”
As for the landing of troops for the intervention in the summer 1918, the first body of the Japanese detachment departed from Moji and Ujina between August 3 and August 21, 1918.
The first force arrived in Vladivostok on August 5, 1918 on the Hizen Maru. It was followed on the 11th by two transports with some 20,000 troops. Immediately upon landing the soldiers paraded down the main street of Vladivostok.
On the 12th, 17th, and 21st similar landings took place. There seemed to be no limit to the Japanese as they poured into the city. The original plan of supplying 7,000 troops had already been far exceeded at this early date.
The Japanese commander, General Kikuzo Otani, by Imperial Japanese Order of August 10, 1918, was instructed to prepare the detachment under the command of the 12th Division. He was also instructed to command the detachments of England, the United States, France, Italy and China. All were to advance as soon as was possible to the vicinity of Khabarovsk.
The aims of the Japanese were outlined in an official Japanese report: “The Japanese conformity with an American proposal, the War office authorities, with the consent of the Government, on August 5, 1918, recommended to His Majesty the Emperor that Japan dispatch to the Maritime Province a detachment of 12,000 men under the command of the 12th Division of the Japanese Army. At the same time they proposed to the Allied Nations which intended to mobilize for the purpose of rescuing the Czecho-Slovak Army, and to China, with which there were special relations in view of the Sino-Japanese Military Agreement, that the right of directing the Joint Military operations be instructed to the Commander of the Japanese Army.
This proposal having been agreed upon, the staff of the Vladivostok Expeditionary Army was organized and dispatched. The instructions given to the Commander of the 12th Division upon the dispatching of the staff were that he should cooperate with the Allied Armies, rescue and assist the Czech Army, remove the German and Austrian Agencies at work in the Maritime Provinces and maintain peace and order in those regions.”
American officers soon learned that the Japanese were prone to distort reports and to arrange military assignments in such a way that the other allies would be in the rear after the Japanese had won a battle. Another source of irritation was the planting of a higher rank wherever a few American soldiers were stationed.
General Graves was to say that he had often wondered why the Japanese wanted troops at out-of-the-way station. The only conclusion he came to was that the Japanese probably felt that if they could keep troops at such stations, Japan could justify her sending of 72,000 men to Siberia instead of the 12,000 agree upon.
In her research on the Siberian Intervention, the author sent a list of queries to as many American Veterans as she was able to contact. The replies to the query “What do you know of the Japanese in Siberia?” included some of the following replies: “The Japanese had the largest number of forces in Siberia and they were the biggest pain in the neck. . .They could not be trusted as far as one could throw a bowl of sukiyaki. . .They were the cut throats of Siberia. . .The were sociable. . .We got along fine. . .The only unpleasantness was from the Japanese but this was only at the Company or Platoon level. . .They didn’t like us and we didn’t like them. . .We had to be careful what we did and said. . .They were supposed to leave Siberia when we did but I heard they left 75,000 there in civilian clothes. . .They were lousy. . .They had the most troops and did the most fighting outside of the Russians. . .I could not say as much as one good word for them. . .I liked them. . .They were in the International Military Police Force. . .I doubt if any fouler, filthier, low down scum ever existed anywhere at any time.
.As a whole the Japanese people are very clean and have a little pride. .
At the time Siberia was overrun with Japanese troops. 80,000 were up there as compared to only about 10,000 Americans. They had two infantry regiments plus detachments of quartermaster, engineers, medical corps, etc. . .I don’t think you could force livestock to go in the cars of the Japanese troop trains I saw at times. They relieved themselves right on the straw on the floor. . .The Mikado gave “my American troops” a series of five Japanese postal cards and a lettersheet as part of a Christmas present. That was pretty nice. . .My impression of the maneuvers of the Japanese was that they were in the field to grab territories that held rich deposits of coking coal when the international strike became weak. . .We had squabbles with the Japanese over water wells but a little show of force was all that was necessary. . .They were all over the place. . .Understand they were set to take over completely but the did not. . .They were polite. . .In one of the engagements a substantial number of troops watched us in action but did not participate. Another engagement in which I was in charge of the rear guard I saw some Japanese soldiers that joined us. When we were unexpectedly fired on, they excitedly indicated such by gestures and promptly hit the ground. We continued on our way leaving them behind. . .I heard so many stories and rumors that I didn’t care to believe them. . .If any, the affair was between the American and the Japanese, I recall one instance rather clearly. We were en route by train in the spring of 1919 to Verkhne-Udinsk. It was toward evening when we came to a stopping place. It must have had to do with he Japanese clearing the road for us so that we could move on, for I remember a Colonel or General Buck saying “Either you’ll move, or we’ll mover your bowels.” Shortly after which we were enabled to proceed on our way. . .There was a bit of animosity against the Japs but it seemed more flagrant among the officers.
The Japanese enlisted men always greeted us with a cheery “Owhyo” (Good morning). . .The Japanese soldier did not receive much pay. It hardly kept him in cigarettes, yet they were able to sample the fruits of the hill (Kopek Hill, houses of prostitution).
As their small pay did not permit such luxuries, the Japanese Government took care of it. Each man was supplied with a card permitting him to participate at a House of Ill Repute so he could rid himself of his excess baggage twice a month. The Madam punched the card even as you or I would have a card punched in a cafeteria. . .They were very much at the base of all military planning and the real reason for our presence in Siberia to commence with. . .Vladivostok was overrun with Japanese. . .They were dubious allies. . .I wonder if one reason we were there was to prevent the Japanese from taking over. . .One occasion that has had no publicity revolves around the Japanese occupying a small town near the mouth of the Amur River below Khabarovsk. Japanese arrogance and brutality aroused the Russian populace to the extent that they rose up and attached the Japanese garrison and the Japanese shelled the town form destroyers in the river.
They had long coveted a foothold on the Asiatic mainland and fully expected, on the strength of their 80,000 or so troops and their ranking generals (coupled with the chaotic Russian situation), to take over completely. General Graves, backed by our State Department, and our troops completely frustrated their expectations. The Japanese must have derived some satisfaction to wipe out the 31st Infantry later at Bataan and Corregidor. . . We did not get along with them. . .They were not particularly friendly. . .We got along with them when necessary but had little to do with them. . .The Japanese camp was next to use at Beresovka. . .The Japanese were smuggling snow (dope), which is a drug, in order to weaken the Russians. Some of our boys took the drug and almost went out of their minds. . .The supply train would arrive and the Japanese would attack it and then they would blame it on the Bolsheviks. . .The Japanese were flooding Vladivostok, Khabarovsk, Harbin, Nikolsk and so forth with cocaine. Every week the whole city of Vladivostok would seem to be at the docks waiting for the dope shit from Japan. The Russians called it snek (snow) and those who were addicts were called snow birds. . .They were very exclusive and not very friendly. . .The Japanese were with us at all times. Sometimes they were friendly and sometimes they were mean. We handled them okay. . .We were warned before landing that the Japanese were friends, but the Japanese had the idea that some day they would have to take us. We were only 7,000; They had at times more than ten times that. . .Their men were constantly being moved from one end to the other of the Trans-Siberian Railroad. . .
They were there and the Russians would spit every time they would hear the name. . .Very uncooperative. . .Japanese army units behaved as though they meant to stay in Eastern Siberia permanently. . .there were many misunderstandings with them and near clashes of firing with live ammunition. . .Japs were in the same town as us at times. . .Practically all the Allies had taken representation in Siberia: Italians, English, French, etc. We got along good with all of them. . .The only beer we could get was from (ILLEGIBLE TEXT, CUT OFF) For awhile General Otani was our commander too. . .Didn’t cooperate with us. Broke some of our supplies at the railway, “so sorry”. . .I guess the 27th Infantry had more trouble with the Japanese than anyone. . .They were kind and friendly. . .We hated them. . .In spite of an agreement to send a much smaller number the Japanese swarmed in to the tune of 80,000. They took care to bring in generals with greater seniority than any of the other Allies, and appeared ready to seize and take over as much of the Siberian terrain as they could, which they had long coveted. . .They were kept in line principally by General Grave. . .Friction was constant with them and developed on occasion to near battle status. . .They were uncooperative and dictatorial. . .One Japanese general complained to General Graves that the Japanese always came out second best in endurance and speed in marching, and General Graves is said to have told him it was a matter of difference in diet. This is said to have resulted in a drastic change in Japanese dietary requirements. . .
At the time of the Gaida revolution (November 1919) American and Japanese details, with about the same distance to go, were alerted and made forced marches to the scene of the uproar. The American patrol under command of Lt. George Woods, a long time army veteran, arrived first and had the situation in hand before the Japanese got there, much to their discomforture. . .
The Japanese were billeted in some buildings across the street from us. Some of the Americans had run-ins with the Japanese. . .What our purpose was I never did fully understand. There was supposed to have been a contingent of two regiments from each of the Allied nations, U.S., Canada, France, Italy, Britain and Japan. The Japanese, however, sent at least ten times what we did.
Although we fraternized to certain extent with the soldiers there was a certain undercurrent of animosity between us. . .There is one thing I do remember, they could never understand why the American soldier always went downtown, or anywhere else in his off duty time without a side arm, either a pistol or a bayonet. They weren’t long in finding out. After a few of them were knocked out with a stiff right or left hook, they didn’t ask any more questions. . .My company went with the Japanese from Ussari to Blagovestchensk. . .No one liked them. . .
One day in a sporting house a stampede in trying to get out of the house; some dived through the windows, others between the legs of our sailors. Our sailors had told them previously that if they were ever caught in our territory their throats would be slashed. . .I was attracted to a huge Japanese officer in a picture, as I had never seen a Jap that large in Japan or anywhere else. I don’t think there could be two like him anywhere in the Japanese army. He must have been the general that dealt our boys so much misery in World War II. . .
It was not any surprise to any of us years after when they bombed Pearl Harbor. That was what they did to the Russians in the Russo-Japanese war. History has a way of repeating itself and that subject seems to have been neglected in our military schools, prior to Pearl Harbor. . .We were not allowed to look into the Japanese trainloads in Siberia.
Once in Harbin we were not allowed and when our representative asked what was on the train (it was obviously troops) the reply from the Japanese officer was “Corsets for the Russian women.”. . .There was seething unrest amongst the people of Vladivostok and Khabarovsk against the Japanese and they did not miss a chance to take a toll.
Once, during the Intervention, I arrived in a little town about 13 miles south of Khabarovsk. There were a number of Japanese stationed there. Early in the morning the Bolsheviks moved in. When we arrived all the Japanese were dead in their cars, on their porches and inside their stations. . .They were cruel. . .They never buried the enemy dead, only their own. . .They pillaged, raped and stole as they went through Siberia. . .They were courteous and helpful. . . Once they saved my life, for this I am extremely grateful. . .They were crude and deceitful. . .
The Japanese would send men home and then send new ones back to Siberia so they had fresh blood there constantly. . .Everywhere we went we saw the flag of Japan. With the exception of a few towns and bridges guarded exclusively by the Americans, the Japanese troops were always present. . .They stayed there long after we left for home.
A New Year’s greeting card mailed in 1922 from Manchuria is evidence of this. It had four red characters, used as a frank for soldiers in the field. . .We found not only soldiers but agents and merchants everywhere. . .Some of the Japanese were in civilian clothes but worked for the military.”

As the Americans observed the ever-present Japanese and as they watched the grinning coolies and heard about the war prisoners that were at large, they had concerns about what would face them beyond Vladivostok.

The prisoners quartered in Vladivostok were put under the control of the Americans almost from the start of the arrival of American troops.

– The POW’s –

The men of the 31st Infantry, Company K, were ill at ease when they were assigned to guard the POWs at the Base of Supplies. Some of the Americans dug up ancient grindstones with which they sharpened their bayonets. They were not anxious to take any changes with the “Heinies.” As for the prisoners, they looked on an mumbled to themselves.

They were not sure of the situation either. The Czechs had warned the prisoners that the Yanks were a tough bunch and “might decide to bump them off.” Company K lined up the apprehensive Germans and Austrians for count and ordered them to proceed to one of the large locomotive warehouses which was to be their permanent home. It took some persuasion with bayonets before the prisoners were finally herded in the night. The POWs were not sure of what would happen to them once they got inside. Many had already spent years in Siberia and if their lives were to end in a mass execution they seemed determined to put up a fight.
After getting them in and posting the sentries, the Americans prepared an adjoining warehouse for their own quarters and then fell in line for chow, “good ole army stew, coffee and bread.” It grew cold early in the evening. That night the straw beds felt good to the men; they were much better than the hard canvas bunks of transport. They had been in Siberia for only a few hours and already they had accomplished much, seen much and were exhausted. Harry Rohrer, the Prison Sergeant, noted that the prisoners soon realized that the Americans were not intent on executing them. Corporals Rhoades and Cubbs were Rohrer’s assistants.
Captain William H. Crow was the Prison Officer. Two prisoners were detailed as bookkeepers and two as interpreters. Rohrere’s duties included the handling of all work details and the administering to and the disciplining of prisoners. He recorded: “It didn’t take those German prisoners long to find out that the Americans were human and that they would be treated kindly as long as they obeyed orders. They were each issued a Helen Gould Field Cot, straw and blankets. They were put on regular army rations and allowed to make themselves as comfortable as possible. Then the POWs were organized into companies and each company knew just what was expected of it. The men built a massive kitchen and detailed their own cooks and helpers and had their own quartermasters and supply sergeants.”
The prison personnel included skilled mechanics. Soon the prisoners had their own shops for tailors, shoemakers, barbers, watchmakers and general repairmen. There were several artists among them as well as cabinetmakers and toymakers. The craftsmen occupied their spare time at their trades and sold their wares to the American soldiers, officers and civilians. The American doughboy was a ready purchaser.
Each prisoner was paid one dollar for each day he worked. Deductions were made for their rations, clothing, tobacco, etc. The prisoners were provided skilled medical attention and an army surgeon was on duty at all times.
Although they were given every reasonable comfort, rigid discipline was maintained. Rohrer recalled that his chief worry was keeping the Austrians and the Germans from fighting among themselves!
At the beginning the prisoners were directed to prepare the warehouses for permanent quarters. Some were detailed to unload the transports and others to fill in the pits of the warehouses after which heavy planking was laid for floors. Latrines were built. Kitchens were set up.
Prisoners were detailed to repair and to build roads. Still others began to clean the Russian barracks which would be used as troop quarters. These old barracks had formerly been used as hospitals and refugee shelters, but were so filthy that it took days to restore them to a state fit for occupancy. When this task was finally completed, the 31st moved from the Base of Supplies into the renovated quarters.
Regarding the state of the POWs, General Graves was to say later that the miserable conditions were brought to the attention of the American officials. He added: “A committee of one officer from each of the Allies here was appointed to draw up a scheme under which we could take charge and care for them. Five hundred were taken by us. We assumed the first full care and responsibility of these men. Later the number was increased to 521. They do all of the work at the Base including discharging of the transports, reclamation work, etc. and are paid under authority paragraph 65, Rules of Land Warfare, $1.00 per day for actual number of days worked. The cost of maintenance for actual days worked was charged against them. This labor has been very satisfactory and has enabled us to discharge the transports with a minimum of time and a maximum of speed.”
Bill Mason recalled seeing one prisoner who came to the barracks and took pictures of the men who wanted them. “Billy Witcraft and I had ours taken,” he (ILLEGIBLE TEXT)…we got a dozen, he took 6 and I took 6.”
Paul Bencoe was on the other side of the fence; he was himself a prisoner of war and had been from 1916. He recalled that “at irregular intervals a fellow prisoner would talk through the door and yell in Hungarian the equivalent of “Mail” and would read off the names of the lucky ones who would get letters. Then he would hand them their mail from home. Mail sent to us POWs had to be deposited at a designated collection place in camp. Both incoming and outgoing mail was censored. I believe, but an not sure, that the International Red Cross had something to do with the POW mail. That is all I can recall after all these years.”

If some of the Americans had heeded their parents’ advice to keep diaries we would have had a better record than we do of events. Ralph Baggs’ father wrote to his son on August 14th at New York and advised: “Keep a diary of events. It will be extremely interesting to you in you later life and will tend to refresh your memory.” Unfortunately, Baggs paid no heed. Baggs’ dad also advised: “I don’t suppose your letters will be censored from that quarter of the glove, so you may write us fully of what is going on.”Unfortunately, letters were censored and, whatever Baggs may have written has now passed into obscurity for there is not a trace of any of his mail from Siberia to the States. Thus we have no record of his thoughts in those long dreary months in Siberia. We do have mail to him and note the patriotic fervor in that mail and in the mail to and from other men. Censorship during WWII, the Korean War and our involvement in Vietnam has deprived the world of much documentary history. As the years recede we are to be compelled to rely on “official reports” by those who are not permitted to present the whole story.

The mother of Ralph Baggs wrote to her son: “To think that my boy was going so far off and I was not there to wish him good luck and a safe journey. I am sure he will succeed for you have the right feelings and will try, as you have doe ever since you gave your best efforts to the United States, when you made up your mind that you wanted to help your country and make it safe to live in. God bless you my boy.”
As more and more Americans and their allies poured into the city of Vladivostok they continued to be staggered by the strange metropolis. As the months wore on they learned more and more about The Mistress of the East, the prettily situated capital of the Maritime Province.
Vladivostok is situated on the slope of a coastal range between the Amur Gulf at the southwest extremity of a peninsula between the Amur Gulf on the west and the Ussuri Gulf on the east. The magnificent harbor which was formed by the bay of the Golden Horn on the western and northern sides had created a city that seemed to slumber in beauty.
Founded in 1860, Vladivostok was a free port from 1865 to 1909. At the time of the arrival of the Americans it had a population of some 100,000, consisting mostly of foreigners of many nations. The Chinese had the larges population. Then there were Koreans, Japanese and Germans. The cost of living was high but life itself seemed cheap.
Vladivostok was the largest and chief port of the Russian Far East. It was the terminus for the Trans-Siberian Railway and was the Russian Naval Base on the Pacific. It may still be that. Visitors are not encouraged.
The main street of Vladivostok, Svetlanskaya, ran east and west. Not far from the Golden Horn, it was crossed by a railway. To the south were found the Municipal Garden and the Museum. On the north side was a monument and farther to the east was another. The Greek Orthodox Church and a Lutheran Church were also in this vicinity. It seemed strange to the Americans to learn that there was a Lutheran Church in Siberia until they learned of the influx of Germans into the area.
From the heights above the Observatory, a breathtaking view presented itself. Other landmarks included the Roman Catholic Church, the Oriental Institute, the Kunst and Albers Department Store and restaurants such as the Zolotoi Rog (Golden Horn), the American Grille and the Railway Station Restaurant.
An electric tramway ran from the railway station along Svetlanskaya Street. This was the cause of much jest. Called the “Toonerville Trolley”, the Americans had much to say about overcrowding and thievery on the street car. It was about half the size of an ordinary trolley and ran” when it was not being repaired and if there was power.”
Every trip seemed to include pickpockets. McQuiddy recalled the time he was with his friend, Private Libby, who had his wallet lifted. He knew who the culprit was so waited for the latter to get off, then followed him and knocked him cold with one on the chin and retrieved his property.” There lay the man on the cobblestones and as McQuiddy and Libby walked from the scene they imagined that the gathering spectators might wonder about those Americans who seemed so adept with their fists.
The market place of Vladivostok fascinated the Americans. Everyone appeared to gather there to buy, sell or just gossip. The bazaars were market parliaments. Here the city and country dwellers could meet to discuss war, politics, Bolsheviks, propaganda, policies of the Allies, cost of food or anything else. Rumors as well as pamphlets were circulated at the bazaars.
In retrospect, the Americans had mixed feelings about life as they came to know it in Vladivostok. At the time of the first arrivals in August and early September of 1918 the climate had been most a agreeable. In winter the bay was icebound from the middle of December to the beginning of March and sea communication was difficult except by use of icebreakers. In the winter the highways were frozen and during the ensuing fall the mud became intolerable. However, there were lovely nights when one could hear the tantalizing music from the boats in the bay.
Beautiful as the Americans found the scenery upon their arrival, they were surprised to find almost no trees in evidence. The hills around Vladivostok were barren except for low brush. A few small parks dotted the city and these had benches upon which the soldiers could meditate or fight off romantically minded local girls.
One American stated that he found Siberia a wonderful land with good soil, fine grass and the best timber. There was also a surprising amount of minerals, as well as game and fish. The resources of Siberia were incalculable, needing only the wherewithal to make them available.
The consensus of opinion was that the people in Vladivostok lived “a very crowded life.” There were few modern improvements or facilities. Filth was everywhere. Food and clothing were difficult to obtain; soap was almost nonexistent and water had to be carried in buckets. There were no toilets in the homes; each city had a public toilet which everyone used and which discharged into the open. The lack of plumbing, the drabness and the poverty depressed some of the Americans. Yet others spoke of the beauty. The buildings were described as “beautiful but ancient looking. . .They were of European style.” Most of the buildings were so old that they gave forth an air of stability, an air in contrast to conditions. “I found the city romantic,” one soldier remarked, “magnificent native costumes with an amazing culture amongst some of the people. Yet the terror of Bolshevism was grasping the people when we arrived and the lust for blood was in evidence everywhere.” As for the Bay, that was a jewel, sparkling in the sun. The Golden Horn was the magnificent entrance to the harbor. Surely this was a land of sharp contrasts.
Many of the Americans did not sense the culture of this land; they saw only poverty and stagnation. “We found the cobblestones odd. They were not square like ours but egg-shaped field stones of oval type. They made me feel as though we were walking on eggs.”
The oddly numbered residences in the city and strange construction of those just beyond aroused the wonder of many Americans. “There were a great many wooden dwellings on the outskirts which invariably had a door high in a gable with a ladder leading down. It looked to me as though they wanted an emergency exit in case of deep snow. But as I never saw snow over 18 inches I am not sure I was right about this,” were the comments of one soldier.
Most homes and stores were illuminated by oil lamps and candles. Because of fear and uncertainty, few people ventured out by night. An American soldier, Jesse Sale, decided to visit the main railway station one evening. He found it was off limits until the premises had been cleaned. Even after this had taken place, Sale remarked that he saw lice crawling up the door casings and the place looked dirty as a coal bin. Sale added that all the cities were “pretty run down and dirty.” On the other hand, John Souhrada of the 31st observed that “considering their limitations the cities were pretty, clean and rather well set up.”
In most cities the wealthy and the poor rubbed elbows in the stores and in the market places. In Vladivostok those accustomed to western culture were amazed to note that local authorities had made little or no effort to tidy up the streets. While there were elegant clubs and eating places, it was not unusual to see a dead animal or even a dead man lying on the streets, sometimes for days before the forms were shoveled away. “I have seen well dressed men and women stepping right over a corpse, scattering the flies in every direction: was a comment of one doughboy.
Youthful and eager to see everything new, the Americans enjoyed watching quaint customs, bawdy scenes any novelties that came their way.
Julian Sheppard of Texas was enthralled by the majestic horses he saw in Siberia. He had spent a good deal of time on a ranch back at home but admitted he had never seen horses to match the ones the Cossacks rode. Sheppard who was with the 27th, Co. K, was born in Llano County, Texas on March 18, 1895. His dad was a farmer and a cowboy and his older brothers were cowhands who performed splendid feats on horseback. Young Julian aspired to follow in their stirrups, but it was not to be. He was never to be a cowboy. He wandered off and found himself in Pailes Valley, Oklahoma when the country went to war in 1917. Sheppard enlisted and was sent to Fort Logan, Colorado on November 17th and went on to Angel Island, California to join the 27th Infantry. He left for Vladivostok on the UST CROOK arriving there on August 15, 1918.
In retrospect Sheppard remarked, “Today my Siberian trip all seems like a dream to me. but I do recall meeting Czecho-Slovaks there. They had been captured in the town where we were stationed and there were a good many prisoners there too. There was a parade, I recall that too. We marched through the town and realized that those silent movie cameras were grinding away and taking pictures of us! Not long afterwards I was on my way to Khabarovsk, and for the first time in my whole life I saw a dead soldier. It was not a good feeling.”
Sheppard saw more than cowboys in Siberia. He saw great tall men called Cossacks with magnificent dexterity on beautiful horses. These horses were better than his brothers had ever ridden. And the Cossacks were better than his brothers when in the saddle. Sheppard was anxious to get back to his old home town area taking up residence in Brownwood where he was able to brag about horses and horsemanship he had witnessed in far-off Siberia.
Paul R. Coleman of Company B, 27th Infantry, recalled that they stayed on the transport until quarters were found for them and said that they were pretty annoyed by the whole deal and wondered who was responsible for overlooking to make proper arrangements for quartering the Americans.
Coleman had enlisted in Ohio and was sent to Texas as early as 1914. He recalled vaguely that as he traveled through Texas a today wave had destroyed a whole city in 1915. He had been ordered to the Philippines by way of the Canal Zone. When he arrived at Colon a landslide had closed the Culebra Cut and trains could not get through to the Canal; the men had been transferred to some barracks at Empire for three or four months until another transport was sent from San Francisco to pick them up. The Americans occupied the transport for 30 days on the route via Honolulu and Japan, landing at the Philippine Islands where they were sent to Los Banos. Just at that time a public figure was hanged on the parade ground. It was on the spot where Coleman had formerly played baseball. He was there for a couple of years and then he was ordered to Manila where he received orders to go to Siberia. Already he had seen so much of the world including tidal waves, landslides, and public hangings that he was not too surprised at what he encountered in Vladivostok. He admitted he had not known of the chaotic state of the city until he saw it at first hand.
One of the peculiarities that struck the Americans in Vladivostok was the manner in which houses were numbered. Apparently numbers were assigned in the order in which structures were built; there was absolutely no system or regularity. If one wanted to find an address and managed to locate the street it was well nigh impossible to locate the house without a door-to-door search. To add to the confusion many houses were completely devoid of any numbers!
Signs over stores continued to intrigue each new arrival. The men said that they yearned to compare the contents of the shops with what the trade pictures indicated.
James Whitehead of the RRSC recalled talking about the problem of warm clothing for the men. “I had dinner with Major Miller of the regulars, and with a Baron who promised to see what he could do to get furs for overcoat linings.”
In a letter to his wife Whitehead wrote: “It would take a lot of heavy clothes to keep the troops warm in the coming winter, especially as they were used to tropical climate.” He added that the RRSC had a fair supply of warm clothes which would be satisfactory if they were not stolen. “Bolsheviks break in and steal,: he wrote. “Some of them got into our baggage room. They stole two trunks and several bags belonging to our men. A cop caught one little fellow with a trunk and a bag bigger than himself on his back. He hit him hard with his sword and then asked him where he was going. Then they caught two others, but two bags were never recovered.”
Ralph Fletcher was so concerned about the coming cold that he wrote to his wife asking her to hurry with winter wherewithal. He wrote: “Darling if war spares me and you wish to see me again send me some wool clothes: heavy socks, drawers, sleeping garments and gloves. Get them from the Red Cross if possible, if not buy them. . .I have none and they are absolutely necessary. . .we will have to winter in a climate of 30 below zero and it is cold here now.
“We are living in a war element. Uniforms of many nations and armed bodies of men are everywhere. soldiers are being rushed out in trains during the day and the wounded are already being brought in at night. The toll is heavy. The work is hard but we are glad to do our bit in the greatest conflict among men that has occurred in this old world.”
Fletcher continued with these remarks: “This is a wonderful country and everything here is on a big scale. We are living in tents now and are in the midst of the grimness of war, that terrible destroyer. Armed men of many nations, bugle calls, etc., etc. . .The other regiment (the 27th) is on the line now and we are expecting to go any time.”
Leo Fifer of the 31st recalled that he landed in Vladivostok on August 21st and noted in his diary that it was “one hell of a country.” They went into camp on the 22nd and on the 24th he wrote: “Working very hard every day now. Country no better. Sure is some place and some people. A mixture of Russians, Koreans, Chinese, Japs, Polish and others. . .”
Malcolm Currie of Mercer Island, Washington was a member of Company A, 31st Infantry. He arrived on August 22nd and told of an incident that was hushed up quickly. He related that the Senior CO of the Allied forces at the time was a Japanese and that the General Headquarters was guarded by Japanese soldiers. Currie described the incident in this manner: “An American messenger went to deliver a message to the CO and was denied admission, probably because of the language barrier. The American tried to go past the Japanese and in the scuffle the American got struck by the Japanese bayonet. The American then pulled his pistol and shot the Japanese soldier. Whether he killed him or not I do not know, but it was said that this caused the American Expeditionary Force to set up its own Headquarters and I know the incident was hushed up fast.”
Writing home on August 23rd, Whitehead stated that one of their own men was now lolling after their mail. He said he had five minutes to write, was well, and that the RRSC was “slowly getting under way and would probably go to work any day.” He closed his letter with “the man who looks after our mail now is waiting so must close.” But he had time to add: “Things of a very interesting nature, and important, too, are happening and it looks like this will be some place after all. Don’t worry. . .there is no danger now and I cannot foresee any. Some of us are still in Vladivostok and some others went west.”
At this time Russian Railway Service Corps was being dispatched, in groups of three or four, to divisions and repair points and to junctions to become familiar with the road and with Russian procedures; also to help the Russians where they could, particularly with the Baldwin eight-wheeled freight engines of which there were a considerable number. Some of the Americans went as far inland as the border of European Russia. They performed valuable service, often in precarious situations. According to Corpsman L.D. Yates they had been recruited to take over the Trans-Siberian Railway; there were men who were expert in all categories of railroad repair, operation and maintenance.
Prior to the arrival of the American railroaders the situation was considered deplorable. Some 826 bridges had been blown up by one or another of the participants in the civil war and this included the 420-foot bridge over the Amur River at Khabarovsk which could not be replaced during the stay of the AEF in Siberia. It was not until 1922 that the bridge was restored.
In addition there were 20 railway stations and 14 water supply stations that had been blown up. There was no accurate estimate of how much trackwork had been demolished or removed. It has been considered that all railway delays, whether caused by partisans or their opponents, played a major role in bringing about the eventual defeat of Admiral Kolchak and his supporters.
Although consisting of numerous warring factions, all Siberians had the common purpose of preventing the return of a Czarish regime. Numerous dictatorships, directorates and other governments were constantly appearing. Each told the populace that it would be best for them.
At the time the Americans were preparing so seriously in the Philippines and in the States during July and August, 1918 the Czecho-Slovak forces had already abandoned their efforts to withdraw from Eastern Russian and from Siberia, in spite of the fact that the Americans were proposing to rescue them! Colonel Styer became aware of this situation upon his arrival.
The Czecho-Slovaks had established themselves in association with non-Red elements along the Trans-Siberian Railway from Ekaterinburg to Vladivostok. Gaida, the Czech leader, had planned a drive eastward from Irkutsk but had been gradually slowed during August by the Bolshevik and POW forces which were scurrying down the Amur Valley destroying facilities as they went. Along the way the latter increased their numbers and made for Blagovestchensk.
General Mikhail Kontstantinovich Dietrichs, head of the Priamur Government, had made a drive northward from Vladivostok. After the enemy had been defeated further advance had been halted when he had reached Shmakovka on the Amur River. This movement had taken place on August 3rd and 4th.
Styer was also to learn that Washington had been advised of the current situation that prevailed. Officials there had been notified that the situation was most fluid. Instead of getting the Czecho-Slovaks home, the following recommendations were submitted:
1) It was wise to assist the Czechs in attempting to control the railroad
2) War activities of prisoners of war must be halted
3) A front should be established in Eastern Russian against possible Austro-German military activity
4) There should be retention of as much anti-Bolshevik government as possible in hopes that an anti-Bolshevik army could be organized and a non-Bolshevik government could be created.
Huge quantities of materials belonging to the American and European powers had been piled up at Vladivostok and had become the source of great concern. The fear that these supplies might fall into the hands of the Central Powers still persisted. The only protection for those stores was supplied by the presence of Allied Warships. The USS BROOKLYN, HMS SUFFOLK, the Japanese ships ASAHI and IWANI, and the Chinese cruiser HAI YUNG maintained a watchful eye over these stores.
Shortly after the Czecho-Slovaks obtained control of Vladivostok in June, General Dietrichs began his participation in the general plan of the Czech campaign b moving north toward Khabarovsk. Nikolsk was captured after a brisk engagement on July 4th, and as previously noted, wounded Czecho-Slovaks from that battle were cared for in a hospital established by the USS BROOKLYN. Further advance by Dietrichs’ troops ended in failure.
Proceeding north from Nikolsk, the Czechs defeated Bolshevik forces on July 16th at Spasskoe and pursued them as far as the line of the Ussuri River where the Czechs took advantage of a strong natural position to await reinforcements from Khabarovsk. In this position the Czechs were attacked by superior numbers. Beginning on August 1st, the Bolsheviks drove the Czechs back south of Shmakovka where the latter halted, reinforced by the arrival of Ataman Kalmikov with some 800 cossacks. A fairly strong position was established with a force of 2500 troops between the two branches of Belaya Creek with headquarters at Kraevski.
While the engagements of August 1st to 4th were in progress, the United States government, followed by the governments of Great Britain, France, Japan and China, issued the proclamation in which the policy of the respective governments was stated with regard to the Russian Intervention.
It may be recalled that August 3rd was also the date on which orders were sent from Washington directing the troop movements to Vladivostok. On this day also, in view of the situation of the Czecho-Slovaks at Shmakovka, 800 British troops arrived and started for the Ussuri front. On August 9th these were followed by 1200 French and on the 11th by about 3000 Japanese troops.
The assistance from these detachments enabled the Czecho-Slovaks to hold their position until groups could be organized under one command and strengthened sufficiently to assume the offensive. This consolidation was barely effected when the first American troops began to enter Vladivostok.
At the time of the arrival of the Americans no stable government existed nor was law and order in evidence. A considerable portion or the population was composed of Bolsheviks, bandits, political and other convicts.
As mentioned elsewhere, during the monarchy Siberia had been a dumping ground for convicts and political prisoners and also for the criminals from European Russia. The latter were often crude, vicious cut-throats whereas the political prisoners included the intelligentsia, the well-educated who had been too free in expressing their views.
Most of the convicts had made their way to Vladivostok because the city offered a port from which escape was possible. Most of the political prisoners also chose Vladivostok in order to be in a cosmopolitan city. The criminal element expected to make a living by robbing the newly-arrived Allied soldiers. On the other hand, the political prisoners welcomed the new arrivals, for a new social awareness was opened in their relationships with other men with related schooling and background.
As each Allied unit arrived, it had its own military police force. This was limited in scope as an American MP could not arrest or caution any but Americans, a Japanese MP could deal only with Japanese, and so on. As a result, an International Military Police Force was set up. This remarkable body took hold of the situation under the able direction of Major Samuel I. Johnson only a few weeks after the arrival of the first troops.
The Allied officers were not long in discovering that problems in Siberia could not all be observed on the surface. There were numerous Russian factions to be contended with; and there were our so-called allies, the Japanese. The latter proved more difficult and troublesome to deal with than the partisans.
Although the national quotas were not to exceed 10,000 men, the Japanese sent troops well in advance of that figure. The estimate varied from 70,000 to over 100,000. Some of the Americans maintained that Japan sent civilians who were actually military personnel. This made it difficult to keep count. Discord developed early regarding the size of the Japanese contingent.
Two days after Col. Styer had been informed that Gen. Kikuz Otani was commander in chief of all Allied armies, Otani was officially designated by the Japanese government to command the Japanese expedition to Siberia. By virtue of his grade he was senior to any of the other commanding generals. Consequently, soon after landing, he fortified the statement made to Styer with the following communication which was addressed to the Allied Armies:
“I have the honor to inform you that I have been appointed Commander of the Japanese Army at Vladivostok by his Majesty, The Emperor of Japan, and that I am entrusted unanimously by the Allied Powers with the Command of the Armies in the Russian Territory of the Far East. The cooperation and the friendship between our Armies will easily permit, from the point of view of their command, of rapidity of action and of success without any difficulty. I hope with all my heart that our Armies will work together for the command aim.”
(Signed) General Otani Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies

The first group of American soldiers to arrive was not long in Vladivostok before the crowds began to swell in Svetlanskaya Street. Hamor B. Scott had met many people; he had worked hard before reaching Siberia. He was born in 1882 and was orphaned in 1887. Thereafter he lived where he could with numerous families. Scott joined the army in 1911 and found himself in Siberia in 1918. He did not recall too much trouble upon his arrival but remembers vividly that the American and British troops were handed leaflets when they arrived. The leaflets read:
“We take it for granted that this is a word of welcome and warning to the American and British forces landing in Siberia. We take it for granted that you have landed here on Russian soil with no hostile intentions to the Russian people that you could be of some help to the distressed Russian people and in this we thank you and bid you welcome. Your machine guns and your artillery should not and must not be turned on the peasants in order to strangle the majority of the Russian people. ~”The Friends of the Russian Revolution.”

The Americans soon found that there were sights beyond those of Vladi’s muddy streets. Some of the men had wandered over to the Bathing Beach, just as the RRSC men had done previously. There before their eyes was a multitude of people — men, women and children, enjoying the bathing, all in the nude. As this news spread there soon was a large audience of Americans at Vladivostoks beaches.

The public baths also aroused surprise. Lester Ade stated that the first bath he had had in the city took place six days after arrival. “Another fellow and I ordered one in a bath house,” he reported, “and we had cold water from a shower, two large bath towels, soap and the use of a spacious, comfortable dressing room for about six rubles each, which was about 65 cents in our money. There was also a marble slab sofa in the bathroom and women attendants were to be had if desired, but we took things in the usual American way.”
Some Americans were too busy to see the sights. As we have seen, the Engineers were most occupied. They remained in Vladivostok until November 3rd busy with the tracing and transliteration of various Russian staff maps of the territory occupied by the American troops. The maps indicated the location of the American troops. Sundry smaller tracings were made for various departments.
The Intelligence Division arrived on the SHERIDAN on August 21st. This contingent consisted of 16 members of the Military Intelligence Division, Washington, and 15 Army Field Clerks. The latter had been specially selected and dispatched with a view to the possible need for a large intelligence section to work with the Expedition. The nucleus of the Intelligence Section had arrived with the first troops on August 15th and 16th and consisted of five officers, one of who was an engineer. Fifty-one enlisted men selected from the Philippine organization, a detachment of 18 enlisted men of the Engineer Corps and a detachment of 18 enlisted men of the Signal Corps were ready for service. From the start their work was coordinated to the establishment of relations with the intelligence officers of the Allied forces.
Almost at once the Intelligence Division made an inspection of the whole field of action northward and eastward to the hills. Careful observation was made of the trenches, field of fire, shell holes and location of the dead (still largely unburied). An opportunity for further observation of the terrain was given by a reconnaissance made on August 28th and 30th by an intelligence officer and three enlisted men on motorcycles. They went as far north as the town of Ussuri.
A detachment from the Intelligence Section was attached to Col. Charles Morrow who was in charge of the 27th Infantry. Included were Lt. Skladal, a detachment of interpreters, engineers and signal men. They were to secure information and communications in the field.
When the 31st Infantry arrived at Vladivostok a tent camp was established in Gornastaya Valley, just east of the city. Detachments were immediately deployed along the Ussuri Railway Line taking strong tactical positions at Nadezhdinskaya, Kiparisova, Ugolnaya, Pervai Rechka and other small railway towns.
In addition to the Japanese and the Chinese, the British and the French were also in Vladivostok in August. On the 21st K.C. Lin, Commodore of the Chinese Navy, sent a letter to Col. Styer. Written aboard the R.C.S. HAI YUNG at Vladivostok, it stated:
“I have the honor to inform you that in a few days the Chinese troops may be expected to arrive in Vladivostok by railroad. I have the honor to be, Sir, Your Obedient Servant,
K.C. Lin, Commander C.N.”

Ironically, on the same date, First Lt. Herrick of the 27th Infantry sent word to Major Buck out on the line that: “Civilian messenger reports about 400 Chinese bandits now about seven verst from here marching on this place, armed with rifles and one pound machine guns. Send reinforcements and machine guns as soon as possible.”

Events were crowding one upon the other, and news was pouring into Vladivostok. An Edict given by the Staff at the front and signed jointly by Gaida, Pepeloff and Bagoslovsky at Verkhne-Udinsk on August 21st soon reached Vladivostok.
“Edict on the Cossack Troops of Enisey:
“In the troublesome times during the sovereignty of the Bolsheviks, when by the latter, acting as tools in the hands of the Germans, all rights of the free Russian people were trampled under feet, when, without consideration of public good, the Bolsheviks were selling Russia to Germany, you, brave Cossacks of Enisey, did not take part in this deceit, but conducted yourselves as faithful sons of your mother country.
“Deprived of your rights, deprived of the opportunity to protest, with heartaches you were compelled to look on while the Bolsheviks were robbing and leading our native country to ruin. The greater force was on their side, and you were unable to do anything.
“The patience of the Russian people is now exhausted and all Siberia, in order to shake off the shameful yoke of Bolshevism, as one man awoke to action. You, brave Cossacks of Enisey, were one of the first to join the new Siberian Army and notwithstanding that formerly you consisted of only a regiment, you are now in full division in strength. This effort will not be overlooked by your mother country. And then, valiant Cossacks of Enisey, immediately after your formation, took the field together with the young Siberian Army and brotherly troops of the Czecho-Slovak, and on the shores of Baikal won the victory which forevermore banished the fear of Bolshevik ascendancy. At the height of the fight together with the Bolshevik troops, you proved yourselves worthy descendants of the brave Cossacks of Enisey, when you, without meditation surrendered your life for the Liberty of Russia, and conducted yourselves as loyal sons of the mother country.
“The memory of your heroic action on the shores of Baikal will be cherished by your country and the glory with which you are covering yourselves in this painful time of the deliverance of our suffering Native Country, will be handed down from generation to generation.
(Signed) Colonel Gaida
Commander-in-Chief of the Eastern Front
Colonel Pepeloff
Commander of the Middle Siberian Corps
Colonel Bagoslovsky
Chief of Staff of the Eastern Front,
General Staff of the Army.”

On Saturday, August 25th there was stir of excitement in Vladivostok. Gen. Dmitri L. Horvath, General Manager of the Chinese Eastern Railway, ordered all Russian subjects to report for duty to fight to the end against the Germans and the Bolsheviki. He set himself up as Dictator of All Russia.

The attempt of Horvath to alter the city government gave Vladivstok the appearance of a besieged city. The consul of Allied Diplomats stated that the Russians could not be armed and it threatened to take Horvath a prisoner if he insisted on arming anyone.
Hundreds of Czecho-Slovaks, Americans and Japanese were guarding the streets to check any disturbance which might have arisen as a result of Horvath’s announcement. There was some concern in the Officers’ Quarters; however, beyond some slight excitement, no violence resulted.
On the following day, August 26th, the men of the 27th Infantry who were still in the city had much to occupy themselves. They were assigned 28 head or horses and 186 mules. Civilian Farrier Humphries accompanied the stock. The balance of the latter was assigned to the 31st Infantry Field Hospital #4 and the Ambulance Company #4. Additional shipments were made later to the 27th Infantry at Spasskoe and Khabarovsk.
As the men were departing from Vladivostok for sites along the line, those remaining in the city pondered as to when they would see their buddies again. Lt. Colonel G.H. Williams was detached for duty as Commander at the Base of Vladivostok and Captain R.E. Wallace for duty on the Line of Communications.
In town the doughboys visited the Golden Horn Care, the American Grille and similar places where they were able to chat with the local inhabitants and those Allies already in Vladivostok.
At first the natives were suspicious, but with the passing of August 1918 they found the Americans were friendly and meant them no harm.
The Allies were a diverse group, coming from many parts of the world. Some of the Allied sailors and soldiers seemed alien to the Americans, but as the months wore on the latter became more accustomed to those encountered in and out of Vladivostok.
Those Americans still in the city wondered how much longer they might remain there. Word was awaited from F and G Companies of the 27th Infantry who had been the first to leave the city some two weeks earlier.

Siberian Sojourn-Volumn II, Chapter 15

October 19, 2010 1 comment



THE SIBERIAN SOJOURN Volume II:  Written By: Edith M. Faulstich (who was my grandmother, Alice M. Fisher)
This work of my grandmother’s is protected by copyright laws, any use for profit thereof or reprint of any kind or use on any medium, social network, brochure, book, reserach article must be fully cited.
 Please, give her the due respect she deserves from the 25 years of selfless research she performed. Faulstich, Edith M. The Siberian Sojourn. [Yonkers, N.Y.]: Faulstich, 19741977. I have taken the time to electronically reprint her unpublished book, except for a very small printing which was provided to the families of the A.E.F soldiers and the select with whom she corresponded.

Please respect the life work and research of my grandmother, who has since passed on.


Book Two of the “Siberian Sojourn” is a continuation of Book One which was presented in 1974. Both books follow the outline as planned by Edith M. Faulstich prior to her death in 1972.

Book One, in spite of shortcomings, was well received by you veterans and you families. You knew well of the love and devotion with which the work was conceived by Edith. It is my hope that Book Two will be equally well received. I am sure that any shortcomings will again be generously overlooked.

While the story of any historical event can never be fully told, it is felt that something of value has been added to the record of the “Siberian” campaign. It was the intent of Edith that men and women who served would have some small recognition which is so rarely granted in the formal history books.

It is hoped that Edith will be pleased with this presentation. It is hoped that you veterans and your families will approve.

Fred Faulstich
May 22, 1977


Footnotes to Book Two

Chapter XV Colonel Styer Arrives and Troops Land 1 – 24
Chapter XVI Events to the End of August 1918 25 – 54
Chapter XVII F & G Companies, 27th Infantry Regiment En Route to Sviyagino 55-74
Chapter XVIII The Britis 75 – 90
Chapter XIX The Battle of Kraevski 91 – 98
Chapter XX The 90-Mile March 99 – 120
Chapter XXI General Graves & More Troops Arrive in Vladivostok 121 – 158
Chapter XXII The Americans Settle in at Vladivostok 159 – 208
Chapter XXIII Personnel of the 27th and 31st Regiments Go Full Strength 209 – 221
Footnotes 222 – 226

Chapter XV

Colonel Styer Arrives and Troops Land

Upon the arrival of the American Expeditionary Force, Colonel Henry Styer, who had command of the AEF in Siberia up to the arrival of Major General Graves, paid an official call on Japanese Lieutenant General Oi the Senior Military Officer then present in Valdivostok.

After introductory amenities were over, Styer asked Oi for suggestions as to the best procedure for American cooperation. To the Colonel’s dismay the Japanese general lost no time in stating that General Kikuz Otani of the Imperial Japanese Army had been designated to assume the Supreme Command of all the Allied Siberian Forces “at the request of the American Government.”

Styer was stunned by the impact of this news. American soldiers under the command of a Japanese? This was unheard of. With military dignity he merely indicated that he had not been so advised.

“I suggest,” said Styer, “that concrete plans await the arrival of the Supreme Commander of the American Forces, Major General William S. Graves. He will be here shortly.”
The Japanese retorted that plans could not wait.
It can well be imagined that Styer must have had a few sleepless nights pondering this. He wired Washington at once and asked for specific information regarding command.
When word was received it merely confirmed that Graves would be arriving in Vladivostok shortly. That had not answered his query. Washington’s apparent unwillingness to refute the Japanese announcement left nothing for the Colonel to do but proceed according to General Oi’s instructions until Major General Graves arrived.
Styer designated the names and duties of his staff officers. His official cable to Washington reported that he had with him 1,537 men of the 27th Infantry.
Among the officers were included some OF the staff authorized by the war Department: Colonel James S. Wilson, Chief Surgeon, Major David P. Barrows, Intelligence Officer (with four assistants) and Lieutenant Colonel W.V. Morris who became the Inspector General of the Expedition.
Colonel Styer conferred with Lt. General Yuhi, Chief of Staff representing General Otani and was given a detailed briefing on the general plan of operations. A map of the area was consulted. Styer was told that there were some 15,000 armed enemy in Khabarovsk. Yuhi stated that it would therefore be necessary to strike there first and take that city. They would then proceed west by Amur and Manchuria. There would be 40,000 troops and a long double line of communications to make secure between the Allies and the Czecho-Slovaks if the latter were to be extricated from west of Irkutsk.
Styer had not been briefed on conditions, but he did know that the Czeho-Slovaks were to be helped to get back to Vladivostok. That was part of the mission. But he had no way of knowing that the Japanese exaggerated conditions. He simply assumed that their reports were correct.
Therefore, in special Orders #1 of August 16, 1918 he stated that the Second Battalion was ordered to relieve the Railroad Guards.
Thus it was that American soldiers served under Japanese command from mid-August, 1918 until the arrival of General Graves on September 2, 1918.
Upon his arrival Graves immediately called on General Utani (by that time himself in Vladivostok) and set the record straight with regard to the command of American troops. Graves stated that he and he alone would be in charge of the latter.
Before the arrival of the Commander in Chief, Styer had wired Washington on August 19th to report his meeting with Yuhi. He gave estimates of the situation and plan of operations.
“General Otani stated that in his judgment present forces assigned to the expedition are insufficient to accomplish mission which was and remains solely the extrication of the Czechs west of Irkutsk between whom and us are 40,000 enemy forces and a double line of communications to make secure. The Czechs west of Irkutsk have little ammunition left and are otherwise in pitiable plight, so much so that their relief before winter is imperative if they are to survive. This can only be done in his (Otani’s) opinion by a rapid campaign with augmented forces. He asked the Allied Commanders to so represent to their governments and that they themselves send all forces immediately available and request Japan to send troops at once in sufficient numbers to meet the situation: 5,000 Canadians are en route. Japan has ready many troops. After asking each Commander if and how many of his troops were read to join in advance on Khabarovsk, he stated his intention of ordering an immediate concentration of all available forces and an attack.”
Several days later, on August 21st, Styer set forth General Order #5. It said in part: “This detachment has the distinction of being the first of the American Expeditionary Forces to land in Siberia. Each officer and man has the responsibility to adopting from the start a personal attitude which will help the American objects in uniting their military power to that of our Allies for the defeat of the enemy purpose in Russia. The good name of the United States and the maintenance of cordial relations with the Allied forces and with the Russian people requires perfect deportment of each member of this command. The situation of the Russian people is one that entitles them to our sympathy and consideration. After making great sacrifices and enduring great hardships in the conduct of the war, the Russian people now find their government disorganized in the process of changes started by the revolution and our behavior and attitude must always take this into consideration, so that no one at any time may justly charge any individual American officer or soldier with exploiting or criticizing these conditions. The absence of an efficiently organized civil administration necessitates unusual restraint on the part of all American officers and noncommissioned officers of their military authority to quiet any altercation, misunderstanding or disorder. All members of this Command are enjoined to refrain absolutely from political altercations or unfriendly criticism.”
It was in this Order that Styer also directed the Second Battalion of the 27th Infantry to relieve the railroad guards along the line from Vladivostok to Nikolsk.
In the two weeks that followed, American men were put through an ordeal that none will ever forget. They were forced on rides and marches through terrain and conditions which were unbelievable. They went into skirmishes with a will to win, skirmishes which should not have involved them at all.
It all started in Vladivostok when the exaggerated Japanese reports spurred the Allies into action in accordance with the plans outlined by the Japanese. It was not until some time later that the extent of this exaggeration was realized. Finally it was discovered that heavy reinforcements were not needed for an immediate offensive. Apparently the request for Allied troops was arranged so that the soldiers would arrive after the Japanese had waged their campaign and after they had gained the fruits of victory. But in all the flush of information given to Colonel Styer upon arrival, there had been little else he could have done except to rely upon the Japanese and comply with Otani’s express commands. History had not yet been written and no one could have known at the outset what lay in the vast unknown depth of Siberia; nor that the military situation had been misrepresented.
The Japanese had presented the plight of the Czecho-Slovaks as pitable. Yet at that time the Czechs occupied the banks of the Ussuri River and were supported by the Cossacks, the British and the French. Some Japanese detachments were also there. It became apparent that Japanese actions were motivated by aims of their own rather than by a spirit of cooperation with the Allies.
In addition to the burden of the astounding Japanese demands for American troops to leave Vladivostok, Styer was concerned with the quartering and supplying of his troops. At this point, his men were still aboard the transport.
Styer reviewed the situation with staff officials. Suitable barracks had to be found immediately. There would be a need for storage houses. The possibilities of Vladivostok as a source of supplies for the troops had to be investigated.
The general disorganization must have been most disheartening; it is unlikely that any expedition ever entered a foreign port with so little advance preparation and with so many confusing orders. The town was studied from one end to the other more than once and Colonel Styer wished that General Graves had been able to be with him in all his moments of decision and indecision.
Vladivostok with all its suburbs to the north and east was dotted with barrack groups said to be sufficient for some 70,000 Russian soldiers. This was good news indeed, until it was realized that as far as American soldiers were concerned it would not house that number. The standard cubic air space required for our men was much more than that allotted to Russian military men.
When the American officers visited the barracks they reeled in revulsion. The floors were covered with layers of excrement and filth and the whole was infested with vermin. There was no running water, no sewer system nor any provision for artificial light!
“Good God,” moaned more than one man, “what can we ever do with these?” They left the stinking quarters as fast as possible.
The barracks all conformed to a general plan. The dimensions of each were usually 100 x 50 feet. The structures were predominantly one story in height and built of brick trimmed with cut stone.
The barracks in Vladivostok as well as throughout Eastern Siberia had been built for Russian troops; all appeared to be of a standard type. There was usually an entrance at each end. Each building contained four small rooms twelve feet square. These were separated by a narrow hall terminating in a general squad room. Ceilings were twelve feet high. These rooms were used for administration purposes.
Each kitchen contained a typical Russian stove, usually four feet broad, three feet deep and six to eight feet high. Stoves were equipped with immovable small fire boxes and with huge iron or copper cauldrons of 50-gallon capacity. Generally there was no provision for cooking or baking on the top. Further investigation revealed that there was no provision whatever for the cleaning of utensils!
The officials learned that garbage and waste water had usually simply been thrown down a hole in the floor. The Americans were learning about life in Siberia.
“Where did the soldiers eat?” asked one of the officers, for there was no mess hall in any of the barracks.
They were to find out that Russian soldiers went into the kitchen to receive their food which was then eaten in the Squad Room. This room was lighted with the customary double windows which provided about the same degree of light as the Americans had been used to in the States. The Squad Room was heated by another large brick or cast-iron stove which was lined with firebrick. These stoves were about four feet square and ten feet high. The firebox was small and required hours of firing until sufficient heat was generated. They were, however, adequate to heat a room ventilated in a manner to which the doughboys were accustomed.
It was learned that in Siberia, with the onset of cold weather, buildings were hermetically sealed to conserve fuel. Eastern Siberia had little available as a result of the disorganization of the railways. Available coal was inferior in quality.
Stoves in the officers’ rooms were miniatures of those in the barracks. At regular intervals in the barracks groups a typical Russian bathhouse was located. This was a one-story affair where provision was made to expose from twenty to forty men at one time in the conventional Russian bath followed by a cold plunge.
As he studied the situation in Vladivostok, Styer became increasingly more troubled. It did not take him too long to realize that the Allied military objective required prompt reorganization of the railway administration. Seated on board the WARREN on August 17, 1918, he wrote: “The American Railroad Engineers are right in Harbin and have been ready to do the necessary reorganization. Some of them are also in Vladivostok now. They are prepared with full knowledge of the situation based on full investigation and practical cooperation. As a military measure of the first importance I believe they (The Russian Railway Service Corp) should be placed in charge of the railway administrations at once. I propose to so represent to my government by cable today, with the recommendation that the services of these engineers be formally placed at the disposal of such military official or body as may be appointed by the Allied Commanders to supervise the military use of the railway necessary to joint operations. Your views are requested.”
While Styer and other officials were trying to investigate the situation and arrange for barracks for the doughboys, the latter were tramping up and down the transports wondering when they could set foot on land again. As a matter of fact, the officers had similar thoughts.

When the men finally left the transports they learned that the British, French and Japanese were already there. The Czecho-Slovaks were everywhere and the White Russians and Bolsheviks were both entering the city by carloads. Those “grinning Chinese coolies” already discussed, were present in every group and new leaders were screaming to the Russians to join their particular kind of Government.
The Cossacks were sniping at the peasants who were scowling so bitterly one could almost here their oaths.
Yes, the wharves that mid-August of 1918 offered quite a sight; there were meticulously dressed business men, unclothed and unbathed urchins and men, women and children in a variety of costumes all intermingled.
To our soldiers in their neat olive drab it was perhaps the beginning of the strangest series of experiences they were ever to face. One man said that the most peculiar happening that he witnessed on his first day was a pompous, well dressed business man “stepping over a stinking dead animal, covered with vermin, right in the middle of the street as though it was a perfectly ordinary thing to do.” The soldier added that he “felt dizzy and distracted by all the disorders and by the sights and smells.” The men had no sooner set foot on land than they were assailed by one rumor after another. Furthermore, none of the officials seemed to have any idea of what to do with the army once it got on shore. The prevailing disorganization has not been forgiven by many a man to this day. The faith they had in their country began to waver. A doubt disturbed them, one they wanted to push aside, but a doubt nevertheless. As they were shunted from one place to another in the months ahead and had become accustomed to the confusion and chaos in Siberia, this doubt faded; they never did, however, ever completely forget those first disappointments. They had believed that Uncle Sam would surely have barracks and chow ready for them upon arrival.
As though it was not confusing enough to view the melting pot of the world at Vladivostok’s front door, the 1500 arrivals were about to face a local stike!
Local labor, although in apparent need of money, refused to unload the transports. This work was now left to the ocean-weary soldiers. It meant no sight-seeing, no rest, no chow; just hard labor.
The officers too were furious at the disorganization attending their arrival; the strike was about the last straw.
When the Russian laborers saw that the Americans were about to do their own unloading, they recanted and agreed to work after all. They were then told to go to hell by the officers; the men of the 27th did the work.
Emotions remained mixed. There were always a few who professed to have had no surprise or amazement at the treatment. One man said, “It’s always the same in any port.” Others disagreed violently. Many put the unpleasant aside and recalled the reception they had received. They never forgot the wonderful and strange arrival and recall to this day that they were met in the harbor by the Czecho-Slovak soldiers who nearly “raised the roof” when they saw the Americans. “Those fellow sure made us know that they were glad to see us,” one man said.
But when the men left the ships and had had a chance to talk to those who could understand them, they became fearful in spite of the size and obvious commercial status of Vladivostok. The fears that had assailed them on the transport regarding wolves and Bolsheviks had been allayed, had released tens of thousands of German and Austrian prisoners of war who were going to treat the Allies as enemies, they began to wonder how the situation was to be met.
When the Americans put the town under closer scrutiny it still seemed a quaint place, not as beautiful as they had at first though. Otto Korn expressed it this way when he had fist landed: “It was as though the wheels of time had stopped turning about a century ago. The quaint old buildings on cobblestone streets were pleasant to look at, but oh the filth when you came closer! Most of the people were emaciated looking and poorly clad. The men were bewhiskered usually, and wore knee length boots. This seemed the custom throughout the land. They had Tonnerville Trolley type streetcars mostly driven by fat sloppy women often in dirty house dresses or aprons. The cars were usually loaded down with people, many carrying large bundles of belongings wrapped up in bedsheets or tablecloths, or the like. Pigs and chickens ran in and out of the front doors of the homes, which were built right on the sidewalks–and this was in the busier parts of the town where the streetcars and cobblestones were. Their highways or rural roads were unpaved; practically ungraded. When wet they were quagmires and when dry they were dusty and nothing but ruts and bumps. Then there were the collies who went around and cleaned out the latrines. They were called the ‘honey dumpers’. Beverage systems and inside plumbing was not too prevalent. Lost every town we subsequently came to had a Japanese red light section, but at the same time most every village had a church. The Greek Orthodox Church with its double cross bar became a familiar sight no matter where we went. As congenial and friendly as the Russians seemed to be, life was still very cheap. A person did not have much trouble losing life. The entire atmosphere to me seemed to be one lawlessness. I believe that many people were murdered and there was nothing down about it.”
It was soon learned that the masses of material piled up at dockside were actually the supplies and munitions about which the Americans had heard so much. They had been told so often that the material had been sent to Siberia by the Allies. No one had to tell them what might happen if those supplies fell into the hands of the released German prisoners! It might mean victory for the enemy. The Americans realized that it would be a fight to the finish if the prisoners seized those supplies. Furthermore, the Americans knew that the Bolsheviks and others would contend for money as well as the very clothes on a man’s back.
“Be wary of any man,” the doughboys were told, “no matter what kind of a uniform he may be wearing for you never know when a Bolshevik will be dressed up like a White Russian Admiral.”
Many of the Americans were ‘bitching’ about their accommodations. George Vandenburgh said that they were temporarily placed in old Russian quarters which were “full of cockroaches. We spend several days with candles lighting them as they ran up the walls. It was bitterly cold at night and we were not issued warm clothing for some time.”
Julian Sheppard recalls meeting Czecho-Slovak soldiers that had “captured the town and taken a good deal of prisoners. They were kept in he old round house and there were some very rough people among those prisoners.”
The whole situation, the sights and sounds and advice, did not make for a very relaxed atmosphere. Furthermore, the Americans were told to watch out for unexpected raids. These were frequent they heard, and one never knew when they were going to come. All this sage advice was from the few in the seething mobs who could speak the men’s own language. The Yanks were also told: “Good God men, you had better get other clothes and quick.” This caused concern. They were hot and contented when they arrived in August, but at night it was quite a different story. Sometimes the temperature dropped unbelievably and before long the Americans heard that it would go to 60 degrees below zero.
“Save up your grease,” the soldiers were advised, “for a month or so you will have that stinking stuff on your face, or your skin will crack. You won’t be able to stand the cold, or the stench of the grease, so what’s the difference.” Sardonic laughs accompanied the information.
“It’s a lovely place here,” said one Tommy to a Yank, “wolves howl at night, bandits prowl by day and by night, murder and unburied bodies are an everyday occurrence. Yes man, quite a lovely, lovely place.”
The new arrivals did hear one favorable thing about Vladivostok. That was that the city had “nice Chinese tea shops.” This sounded good, yet more than one nose wrinkled when there came to mind the Chinamen they had seen at the waterfront.
So this was what they had come to. This was the vast frozen wasteland full of wolf packs that would be lined up at the dock; and then they were told to visit a nice Chinese tea shop! With no wolves in sight, what a topsy-turvy world!
While they waited for a suitable place to be quartered they had increasing conversations with those who had preceded them. They learned of the vanguard of Czecho-Slovaks who had come overland from Europe with rifles and they had entered from the land side and eventually fought the Bolsheviks from one railway station to another, and how as a result of this the very air of each town reeked with desolation. The Americans were told that the Bolsheviks had welched on an agreement with the Czecho-Slovaks who were not about to accept a double cross; they fought back. Riots were the order of the day.
The Americans wondered what it would be like in those outlying districts along the tracks. Would they be sent there? They saw that Vladivostok had not remained immune from war for there were bullet-riddled buildings and many windows were still devoid of glass.
Perhaps the most comforting sight that the doughboys enjoyed was that of the majestic BROOKLYN and the sailors and marines aboard her. They called to the ship with much affection.
“Good luck, guys,” Emmett Hoskins, a sailor, called back. “You are our regular army and we are with you all the way.” And the sailors meant it. Hoskins wrote in his diary: “The troops looked wonderful to us. There were young soldiers, and those with hash marks, and we knew they were the backbone of our army and would be a good fighting outfit. But we could not help but notice the difference in ages and builds. Some were so tall, some short, some thin, some fat; but all military of the United States of America.”
Although it was good to see the Americans on the BROOKLYN as well as the English and the French troops, the general effect was almost awesome.
It was difficult for an American to evaluate the ethnology of Siberia after viewing the population in the streets that late summer of 1918. Those of the better class seemed to be of Russian origin as did the multitudes of peasants. Yet there appeared to be a large proportion of Chinese, Koreans and members of native tribes from the Northern Provinces. In addition there were the Germans, Austrians, Turks, Czecho-Slovaks, Englishmen, Frenchmen, Italians, Poles, Jews, Romanians, Siberians and others. For years Siberia had been the depository for political and criminal prisoners. Many of these were educated but penniless, the shabby genteel of the country. It was not until the turn of the century that Russia imprisoned her criminals in Russia rather than exiling them to Siberia. At any rate, the sons of cutthroats and intellectuals walked side by side through the muck of the streets of Vladivostok.
The American Intelligence Section was immediately placed in the preliminary staff arrangements upon its arrival. The group maintained close relations with the Flagship BROOKLYN as well as with Japanese and Czecho-Slovak Headquarters as well as the British and French Military Missions.
The American personnel were pleased indeed to know that they were surrounded by their Intelligence Section which they felt would keep them informed about conditions. An Intelligence Officer controlled the Engineer Detachment until September 11, 1918. Subsequently the Detachment was separated and placed under the command of an Engineer Officer. The Engineers had been occupied from the time of their arrival. Sixteen officers were provided for in the Headquarters Building and five field parties of three men each had started work on a reconnaissance map of Vladivostok and vicinity with an attached index to show location, construction and size of all buildings available for military purposes; principal buildings for the city were also indicated.
The Veterinary Unit was responsible for the welfare of animals. This unit had its own special problems as each piece of stock had to be examined by John A. McKinnon and Civilian Farrier William Humphries. It took some time to find that the 130 head of horses and 340 mules were in excellent condition and that they “suffered no ill effects from the trip.” Nothing was said about the mule which had been reported earlier to have died of seasickness. When the mules were debarked they were picketed at the Custom House docks. The stock was kept on these docks for six days and then transported to a compound of the Base & Line of Communications.
When Co. M, 27th Infantry, landed it used the sheds belonging to the Baldwin Locomotive Works. Some of these sheds were also used for storage rooms and one served to house the German and Austrian prisoners of war. Five hundred of the latter worked for the Americans in their sector. The prisoners were good workers; many had been to the United States.
Major Richard Allen of the Quartermaster Reserve Corps was assigned to duty as Quartermaster of the AEFS. On August 21, 1918 Major Allen was relieved by Lt. Colonel G.H. Williams, Infantry, as Acting Chief Quartermaster. Williams continued at this post until the arrival of Colonel E.J. Gallagher, Chief Quartermaster, on September 29th. The personnel that had accompanied the Expedition from the Philippine Islands included Major Allen, Captain L.J. Wechsler, 2nd Lieutenant Harry Feigleson and Frank L. Talmadge. In addition there were also one Field Clerk and 28 enlisted men.
The organization which arrived from Manila was equipped with Equipment C based on peace strength of organizations. The supplies necessary to equip these to full war strength with Equipment C and special Alaskan clothing (to enable them to endure the Siberian winter) were shipped later from the United States in accordance with requisitions prepared prior to the departure of the Commanding General.
The Quartermaster Division had commenced operations as early as August 7, 1918 when the first troops left Manila. Captain Wechsler was relieved on September 4, 1918 by Lt. Clifford C. Patterson, Q.M.C.
It was subsequently found that the Baldwin buildings, occupied as officers quarters, troop barracks, hospitals, stables, etc., were in bad repair, requiring a considerable outlay of material and labor to make them habitable and warm for winder living.
When the buildings were used as warehouses by the various departments it was found necessary to reinforce the floors as they were found inadequate to carry the storage of supplies. Adjustments were made by Russian carpenters under the direction of the Quartermaster Corps. War prisoners were used as laborers.
Since the water supply was poor, distilling plants were installed at the Base Evacuation Hospital. A bathhouse with 56 showers was built at the plant at the Base. The hot water from a condenser was used for bathing.
The Quartermaster Corps was to be kept busy for some time to come. A laundry was constructed by this unit for the use of the Evacuation Hospital. In order to provide transportation for the troops it was necessary to equip boxcars with wooden bunks. The latter were built the width of the cars at each end and were long enough to provide a comfortable bed. Cars were also provided for the transportation of animals.
Much of the above work was started soon after the men had landed. It was found necessary to construct new roads to and from the Base and around the Warehouse. Four thousand feet of foundation rock was laid 20 feet in width and 18 inches in depth. This was done under the supervision of the RRSC with POW labor.
After the confusion of the first landing had subsided, it became necessary to instal spur tracks (a total of 1,190 feet) parallel to the docks at the Base. These were placed to facilitate the loading and unloading of future transports. Railroad material belonging to the Chinese Eastern Railway was utilized for this purpose.
The inhabitants of the city saw the first American doughboys marching through the streets on August 18, 1918. The soldiers were en route to the front.

– The Parade –

It did not take the Americans long to hear that there was to be a big Allied Parade on August 19th. The men who remained in the city were to march through the streets in all their glory. The whole town was to be out to watch. And that was no exaggeration.
James Whitehead wrote to his wife at 10 pm the night of the 19th and said: “The Americans sure looked wonderful. There were about 1200 of them, all fully equipped. “Not all the troops were in the parade either,” he explained, “but there were enough to show the Russians a good sample of Americanism. I was up on a balcony with some Russian friends and sure had a wonderful view.”
Eugene Streed recalled that his detachment of Marines were parading between two bands which kept playing different tunes! “It sure was hard to keep in step.”
The parade started at 4 pm and the men were escorted by a company of Czecho-Slovaks as they strutted down wide Svetlanskaya Street. It was all very thrilling with the Czech bank playing for all it was worth.
A Guard of Honor also paraded down the street and was received by line of Allied officers. The public was wildly enthusiastic. The entire city joined in the air of celebration.
The reviewing officers included Admiral Knight of the U.S. Navy and Gen. Dietrichs, the general who was commanding the Czecho-Slovaks. American and Allied Consuls were also on hand.
Along the route the guards of the march were unarmed and were spaced at eight-foot intervals. These consisted of Americans, Czecho-Slovaks, Japanese and Russian soldiers as well as French, Japanese, British, Chinese and American sailors and marines. After the great showing the Americans returned to the transport.
RRSC corpsmen Porter Turner observed that there were about a thousand troops following the band and that there were also different supply wagons and autos. “They sure made a grand showing and were given a glad hand by all the leading people here,” he wrote.
Julian Sheppard of Co. K 27th Infantry was proud of the Colors of the Regiment as were all the men of that outfit. He notes “We paraded through the town. Movies were taken of our Regiment.”
The 27th Infantry Regimental Colors were first carried ashore to be displayed in the parade.
Later it had been rumored that the 27th had lost its Colors. Many of the men hotly denied this and James Merati reported that the Colors were always in front of Colonel Morrow’s headquarters. Merati stated that “they were displayed every single day and were always with the Regiment Headquarters Company. It may be that the 27th was split up into to many companies that it just seemed as though the Colors had been lost.”
Years later a version of what really happened appeared in an article by John W. Wike in the February 15, 1955 issue of “The Wolfhound.” The article had been published by the courtesy of “The Quarterly Journal Military Collector and Historian.” “The Wolfhound” was the official publication of the 27th Infantry Regiment and had been printed for that organization during the Siberian intervention.
Wike stated that the 27th Infantry Regiment (The Wolfhounds) received as much praise as any other unit in the army and that it was praise justly deserved. “At the same time,” he reported, “it has also been the victim of one of the worst type of rumor to befall a fighting outfit, namely that it lost its colors in Siberia in 1919 while part of the Siberian Expedition. This story has, in one version or another, been making the rounds since 1920.”
Mr. Wike said that he felt that it was time to kill the rumors and explain that in mid-August 1918 the 27th Infantry Regiment paraded their Colors on the 19th of the month and were reviewed by General Otani, Admiral Knight, Colonel Styer and others.
“From that moment,” Wike stated, “to the end of its stay in Russia, the 27th acted in the best traditions of the United States Army and when its soldiers embarked from Russian soil in December 1920 they did so with the praise of the local Russians and the Allies ringing in their ears.”
Exactly one year after the parade, on August 19, 1919, Colonel Morrow requested new Colors. The old ones had been in service for fourteen years and he reported that the silk had so disintegrated that repairs were not practicable. He also requested permission for the unit to retain its current Colors as no others were available and he did not want the regiment without its Colors while in Siberia. Four days later his request was approved and a cable was sent to the States for new Colors. The 27th also received permission to retain the old ones. On September 4, 1919, General Graves was informed that the Colors had been shipped from Jeffersonville, Indiana as early as April 30th. A further report indicated that the Colors had left San Francisco on June 5th. They started to the Regiment but never reached it and thus the rumor started that the Colors had been lost. “Far from being lost in disgrace,” Wike stated, “they do not seem ever to have been received. They were lost in transit.”
Wike proved his point by asserting that on April 21, 1922, when the unit was stationed in Hawaii, another request was made, noting that the Colors had been in use for sixteen years. This indicated that the flags then in use were the same original Colors that had been identified as being too ragged in 1919. They had not been lost at all; they were just a bit more ragged. At last, in 1922, new Colors reached the 27th and the old ones were put to rest.
It might be mentioned here that the 27th Infantry was organized during the Spanish-American War for service in Cuba. It also served in the Philippines at Mindanao in the campaign against the Moros; then it returned to Fort Sheridan in the States and on to the Mexican Border and Vera Cruz. The unit then returned to the Philippines; from here it left for Siberia.

– Arrival of the SHERMAN –

On August 21, 1918 the army transport SHERMAN arrived at Vladivostok with the men of the 31st Infantry Regiment. They had come from the tropical Philippine Islands.
The men debarked directly on the dock. On this occasion there were no strikers. Apparently, the Russian workers were loath to lose pay as they had upon the arrival of the 27th Regiment. After the unloading, however, when the laborers again had money, they again resorted to striking just at the time that the SHERMAN was ready to depart at 5 pm.
In a history of the 31st Regiment, it is noted that a tent camp had been established by the men at Gornostai Valley in the northern Vladivostok sector. Some detachments of Americans were sent there prior to being sent out along the Ussuri line.
Clint Stephenson of the 31st Regiment stated that when they reached the tent area it was almost dark. “The Captain halted the company and said we could find our tents. My squad found one and pitched tents. That night nearly everyone froze to death. All we had was one little blanket. When we awoke in the morning and saw the way we had pitched our tents in the dark we had to laugh at the crazy set of alinements.”
Stephenson was suffering from dysentery and could not go on. He reported sick and was placed on a boat and taken to “some island where the Japanese and the Red Cross had a hospital.” He observed: “I was taken by stretcher. A Japanese nurse then put me in a tub and gave men a bath. Later I was assigned to a four-bed ward and found myself with three English soldiers. My bed had no mattress or springs, just a blanket over bare boards. When the Japanese doctor found out I was an American I was pretty sure I was going to live. I didn’t think he would risk letting his first American soldier die. But I must say he knew his profession for in a few days I was blocked from the runs.”
Stephenson said that the doctor came in one morning and stated that he was going to administer an enema to Stephenson.
“I didn’t know what an enema was so I told him I wanted CC pills.”
The answer was “No. You will take an enema.”
“Later a nurse came in with a bottle with a long hose attached. I tried to drink from the hose, not knowing the function of an enema. The poor nurse was distracted as she spoke no English. The Tommies were guffawing. One of them told me what an enema was. When I heard, I absolutely refused to have one.”
Then Stephenson heard rumors that the outfit was leaving for Moscow. He did not want to be left behind so begged for permission to leave.
The doctor’s reply was “No.”
The Englishmen shook their heads in disbelief and said that they could not understand Americans.
UNREADABLE ………… fight and yet you want to get out.”
The doctor came in and said he did not understand Americans either and added: “One day you are nearly dead and the following day you want to get out.”
The young soldier did recover after remaining in the hospital for a month. Upon finishing officer’s school later, he remarked, “Sergeants Beck, Cranford and I turned in our commissions and were subjected to a two hour’s reprimand regarding the spending of governmental money needlessly. Nevertheless, I stayed with the Officers’ Mess until the following May when we went up to Shkotovo.”
Other men of the 31st Regiment recalled the arrival at Vladivostok. Harry Rohrer reported that after finally docking, the gangplank was lowered and the “men filed down to good old terra firma. Cripes it was good to be on land again.” Irving Dexter recorded in his diary that they made camp on the 22nd of August and worked the next two days. Guy Killman noted that after they arrived they were shipped out on the railway to different detachments. “Company M was scattered later in small detachments for about 100 miles. Our company was only 75 strong at the time. We never got any heavy clothing until we got back to Vladivostok where we received new men to make up our lost strength of 250 men. Then we were shipped to the Suchan Mines. While there, a good deal later, we did receive our heavy clothing.”

Earl R. Perry recalled that they were given shots and then mustered out to different commands. “I drew Headquarters Company, 31st Infantry and was given a briefing.”

On the morning after the arrival, the men awoke to reveille and wondering what the day would bring forth.

Rohrer stated that they had brief calisthenics in the cold air and then fell in for a breakfast of bacon, coffee and spuds. He was a member of K Company, 31st, which was assigned to guard the Base of Supplies and the German POW’s.

V.E. Hockett, with Company B, recalled the large brick barracks which were made available but said that the men were kept moving from one of these to another while on guard duty.
Jesse Ward of M Company recalled that most of the men were disgusted with the poor sanitary conditions in Vladivostok. He added: “The city had an odor that I can still smell, by fancy, after over 50 years.”
Rohrer and Asa Williams expressed disgust at the general conditions and Harry Bullard of H Company stated: “Being surprised is expressing it mildly. The Japanese seem to have everything under their control.” Victor Stanfield recalled his first duty. “It was a 24-hour guard duty at the Base. The Third Battalion of the 31st was commanded by Lt. Colonel S.C. Loring.”
Corporal W.H. Johnson who was with the Headquarters Band and Company C wrote his dad that after a pleasant trip, except for a rough day on the China Sea, they had shore leave at Nagasaki and enjoyed the sights before leaving for Vladivostok. His letter, written August 28, 1918, was severely censored. He stated: “I have been in Siberia for seven nights and have not slept twice in the same place, and have only had my shoes off three times. We are located in a large brick building now but no telling how long we will stay here. I don’t have the least idea where the rest of the Regiment is for we are all stationed at different posts….There are some (censored) troops who are bloody well buggered up in the first part of the war, also a (censored) troops. Have seen a lot of (much censoring) and some of our troops have the pleasure of guarding them at work (very long censoring). We have been very busy and are not allowed to leave quarters after 6 pm. I don’t know of any of our troops being killed yet but one was wounded. Our work is dangerous but there has not been any fighting in the city for over a month. The city is in the hands of our Russian Allies but it isn’t safe to be out at night. We have armed enemies (censored) away and there was a bunch of Russians, who had been wounded, at the dock to meet us as we came in. So we stand a good chance of seeing some action. The sailors from an (censored) gave us a cheer when we came in but now we are separated from the rest of the world. We can’t talk and have not received any mail as yet, but sometimes we get a little news from the ship in the harbor. Have learned some Russian words already and have a great time teaching the Russian soldiers our language and learning theirs. I am getting along fine but notice quite a change in the climate and from the looks of the buildings it must get pretty cold here in winter. Don’t worry about me here for I am having the time of my life. Most likely a few of use will meet a bullet some night on guard but that is to be expected in a place where there is so many different factions as there is here. I have had a experience of an army on the move now and have had to sleep in our little pup tents a couple of times. If I could write everything I wanted to this would be quite a letter but I suppose our mail will be censored.”
The civil war that had been raging resulted in the overrun of partisan bands and guerrillas and, although the United States was not at war with any faction, the troops were frequently fired upon. The small detachments were kept busy chasing these bands and in some cases several companies were organized to march against the resistance. Strong tactical positions had to be taken along the railroads.
The men who were to leave Vladivostok were told that they were to guard the Trans-Siberian Railroad and assist the Russian Railway Service Corps to keep traffic moving. They were also to guard American supplies, munitions, ordinance and property for the Allies. They were to assist the Czecho-Slovaks and the Russian Police in preserving order.
When the troops landed companies were formed and assignments were made. Jesse Ward said they ate their meals out in the open on the wharf and a lot of children gathered around them begging for food. Ward recalled, “I heaved a potato with a jacket on, to one of them and he said ‘spacebo’ so I learned my first Russian word.”
The Signal Corps was attempting to keep the American Headquarters advised of all happenings. Some 30 messages were sent out by wire each day. These mounted to about 1000 words each. In addition, there were press bulletins for the Committee for Public Information to all troops between Vladivostok and Chita which also came to about 1000 words daily. This work kept the Signal Corpsmen on the alert.

Communications were also established with various points of importance to the expedition. Line #219 from Vladivostok to Khabarovsk and a number of branch connections were made with communications eventually extended to Chita, some 1850 miles from Vladivostok, via Khabarovsk.

Much of the information has been taken from correspondence, diaries, letters and personal records of the men who served in Siberia.

WDNA refers to War Department section of the National Archives in Washington.

RRSC refers to the Russian Railway Service Corps.

96 Years Ago & A Few Trunks Later

October 19, 2010 Leave a comment
As of this writing, May 25, 2009, there was only ONE W.W.I. male U.S. solider who was still alive (and still is as of 10/2010, sadly he passed away in February 2011).

His name is Frank Woodruff Buckles (born February 1, 1901) he is, at age 108, the last identified living American veteran of World War I. He lived near Charles Town, West Virginia which is not too far away from where I live.  He was the Honorary Chairman of the World War I Memorial Foundation. Source: Wikipedia,

There was until very recently also a single female service member who was still living and not to be forgotten:

Charlotte Louise Berry Winters (1897-2007), one of the first women to enlist in the U.S. Navy, and served as a Yeoman (F) Second Class clerk at the Naval Gun Factory at the Washington Navy Yard.

Here is a list of the last surviving WWI Veterans by country as noted on Wikipedia.

Therefore, I dedicate this blog post and the next post which follows to the W.W.I. veterans, their families and to all veterans and their families.

And, finally I dedicate this blog as a result of the work which my grandmother did in behalf of the Siberian A.E.F of W.W.I.
Her name was Edith M. Faulstich (Fisher).

Let them not be forgotten.

To begin briefly, in 1995 I received a package from my father just before the Christmas holiday season. At the time, I was busy running to and from work, entrenched in raising my own three children as a single parent and doing my own research for my Master’s dissertation as a full-time graduate student. I had my hands full and very little time for letters or letter writing.
My life then was in full fast forward, at warp speed. In short, I had very little personal time and even much less time for any hand written letters.

But, that is the crux of this whole story, one of hand written letters. I digress a bit….

At any rate, I quickly scanned the hand written note from my father, wherein he stated that my uncle was thinning out some old family items from boxes and trunks in his basement.

Again, this seems to be a recurring theme by the way.
Basements and trunks.

My dad stated in his brief note to me that he thought, I might like a few of the family items, and he was forwarding them onto me. I am now the keeper it seems of some of the aging yellow papers. I put the papers away for safe keeping. And, that’s where they sat.

It’s already been nearly 15 years and I commented to myself, “Wow, time flies.
This weekend I opened the manila envelope which contained my grandmother’s published article written back in 1963, “A Find!- Mail to the American Expeditionary Forces in Siberia, 1918-1920. ”

And I have brough out her yet unpublished book The Siberian Sojourn (exception there was one tiny publishing which was sent to the direct family members of the A.E.F. and to many of the veterans themselves).

The Siberian Sojourn and the 1963 article are her stories about postal letters written to and received from the forgotten American soldiers left in Siberia during WWI. Why is the relevant? Well, let me take you back a bit further on how this whole “letters thing” all began, more recently only 6o or so years ago.

In 1945-1947, Edith Faulstich began writing about Philatelic subjects, born as a result of simpler beginnings when she was a single parent raising two boys. She collected stamps with her children as a way to share something together, as a family.

There were no malls or the Internet nor cell phones back in her day.

Her “Saga of the Mails” expanded and her family hobby became a life avocation. During her early work and research, many of the A.E.F soldiers were very much so still alive, but passing with time. She sensed the information and data from mails and postal history to be important. And, today we now only have one WWI Veteran left living.

My Nana, Edith Faulstich contacted the A.E.F WWI Siberian veterans one by one, with letters all hand written and sent through the mail. It took a great deal of time. There was no instant messaging, text messaging nor email back then either. I found in reading her work, life moved much slower than today. And, even farther back where a single letter sent to Siberia took 6-10 weeks or more to arrive, if it got there at all.

This gift of a letter from my father now comes full circle, some 91 years since the actual A.E.F. Siberian Campaign; 1918-1920 which my grandmother worked tirelessly on. I am a grandmother now and it hardly seems fitting to just stuff all this paper in yet another trunk, to be completely forgotten.

I have become acutely aware of the passing of time. The passing of generations. The passing of history and all of our W.W.I. Veterans. And, now my own nephew is about to be deployed to a far off land in about 30 days or so.

Therefore, I’d like to ask the virtual masses online, does a single hand written letter with a postage stamp still hold any enduring value today? Like it did 91 years ago? And, more importantly, does it have value to our soldiers currently serving overseas somewhere
far from home?

Well, I know in looking backwards to W.W.I., that the voices of our Veterans are forever enduring because of Edith M. Faulstich’s intuition, insight, and research to “FIND” those letters and then to write about a single event with her discovery and subsequent article “A Find!”

Somehow, she innately knew way back then that “the covers” were important (a cover is the envelope the letters are shipped in). It is because of her work that her great-great grand children and other Veterans families of W.W.I. will know of her gift in seeing and knowing the “value” of a hand written letter.

And, please do not forget to take the time write a soldier.

Thanks Nana, to all our Veterans and our soldiers currently serving today.

Please read the next post, “A Find!”
Written by Edith Faulstich, reprinted in 1963 & today reprinted again on
Memorial Day, May 25, 2009.

Welcome & Philatelic Dedication to Edith Faulstich

October 19, 2010 1 comment
Welcome! This blog was created and is
dedicated to Edith M. Faulsitch (Fisher)
and her life’s work as a postal historian relative
to the American Soldiers (A.E.F) in Siberia during WWI.

Ms. Faulstich was also an internationally known
Philatelic Jurer, journalist, and
the first woman president of the US Postal History Society.

It is my hope to keep her writing alive without personal gain.
All the work herein is Copyrighted under her name(s),
and should be cited as such.

Faulstich, Edith. M. “The Siberian Sojourn” Yonkers, N.Y. (1972-1977)

Faulstich Collection at Hoover Institute

October 19, 2010 2 comments

Tuesday, April 23, 2012. A List of Faulstich Material @ Hoover

Below is the preliminary list of the contents of the Edith M. Faulstich collection, by box, which is housed at Hoover Institute Archives at Stanford University in California.Note that these lists are pretty much in an alphabetical chronology. Therefore, if you are looking for a person, a letter or a document you could easily send a message to Hoover Institute and have what you are looking for and have it copied, for a fee.

[Box 1]

American soldiers – letters, diaries, reminiscences, anecdotes, comments, impressions
Animals – pets and mascots
Archival reports

[ Box 2 ]

Armored trains
Baikal, Lake
Butenko, Colonel
Canadian archives
Canadians – E. M. Waite correspondence

[ Box 3 ]

Cecek, General
Chinese Eastern Railway
Christmas and other holidays
Combat action
Conditions, General
Connor’s book
Cutrer, E. V., Major – report by
Czar and other Romanovs
Czechoslovak report

[ Box 4 ]
Decorations, awards, and citations
Diary of Arnold Eugene Jenny, partial contents list
Drugs, vice and protitution
Edwards, G. M., Lieutenant Colonel – report by

[ Box 5 ]

Eichelberger, Robert, Major – letters

[ Box 6 ]
Emerson, Colonel – report by
Gaida, General
Goar, Fred H., Sr., Lieutenant – report by

[ Box 7 ]
Graves, W. S., General
Graves, W. S., General – report by
Homesickness and boredom
Horvath, General
Hospital train
Iman incident
Inter-Allied Railway Commission
International Military Police and Major Samuel I. Johnson

[ Box 8 ]Johnson, Samuel I., Major
Judge Advocate
Kalmikoff, General
Kerensky, Alexander
Knights of Columbus
Kolchak, Admiral
Kopeck Hill
Mail and postal matters

[ Box 9 ]

Medical – cholera, venereal disease, dental, typhus
Medical – priest’s report
Meetings of Allied representatives in Vladivostok
Military – marches and engagements
Military – miscellany
Morrow, Colonel
News – articles, magazines, etc.

[ Box 10 ]
News – articles, magazines, etc.
News – newspapers, news reports, etc.
Newspaper correspondents
Novo Nezhino
Packard, Laurance B., Captain – report by

[ Box 11 ]
Personnel, Jewish and Negro
Polish forces
Political matters
Postwar activities
Prisoners of war

[ Box 12 ]
Quartermaster Corps
Red Cross
Red Cross – relief trains
Reeder, Red, Colonel – article by
Robinson, O. P., Colonel
Romances and marriages
Romanovka massacre
Rozanoff, General

[ Box 13 ]

Russian brides
Russian Island
Russian public
Russian Railway Service Corps
Russian relations
Ryan, Albert E., Lieutenant
Semenov, Ataman
Signal Corps
Soldiers’ comments
Spasskoe – reports on

[ Box 14 ]

Suchan – mines
Telegraph Battalion
Thirty-first Infantry Regiment

[ Box 15 ]
Thirty-first Infantry Regiment
Train of death
Turner, Porter E., Colonel – correspondence and diary
Twenty-seventh Infantry Regiment
Veterans’ bonus and pensions
Veterans’ organizations
Vladivostok incidents
Young Men’s Christian Associations

[ Box 16 ]
Ade, Lester Kelly, Dr.
Allen, Riley H.
Anderson, Abel
Baggs, Ralph
Baggs, Ralph – letter and telegram books
Barger, Cash
Bean, Frank W.
Beaughan, Mark
Beebe, Earl S.
Bencoe, Paul
Bender, Martin S.
Betz, George A.
Billick, George P.
Boggs, William G.
Borda, Ignacio

[ Box 17 ]

Born, Johnston A.
Bourisaw, Morton
Boyer, Carl W., Dr.
Buckley, Edward B.
Budd, John J.
Bullard, Harold C.
Cadwallader, Harry
Cannon, Fred J.
Carey, Harry H.
Carroll, Gerald J.
Chadwick, Stephen F.
Chapman, William McC., Colonel
Chesebro, Paul E.
Chipman, Clifford I.
Clarke, Clement S.
Coalson, Roy
Colman, Paul R.
Crichton, Fred R.
Cumley, W. H.
Currie, Malcolm
Dean, Charles E.
Demastrie, Joseph
De Met, George
Dexter, Irving A.
Diaries – miscellaneous
Dillingham, William L.
Doherty, William C., Ambassador
Driscoll, John E.
Duffield, William R.
Dusold, Andrew J.
English, Thomas H.
Evans, Clifford F.
Eveleigh, Percy Frank
Fahlenkamp, Leo
Felleman, George H.
Ferguson, Alan

[ Box 18 ]

Fields, Milo
Fifer, Leo G.
Fisher, Carl W.
Fleet, Chris H.
Fletcher, Eva B.
Foley, Robert J.
Frayer, L. W.
Frey, W. H.
Fry, Henry C.
Gale-Galinski, Frank
Gebhardt, John
Gee, Sidney V.
Gilbert, Fred J., Sr.
Goreham, Wilber
Graves, S. C., Major
Grayson, Walter A.
Hanbloom, Bert B.
Hansen, Carl O.
Harper, Anthony J.
Harrelson, Joseph S., Jr., Colonel
Head, Leslie H.
History reports
Hochee, Nick
Hockett, V. E., Dr.
Holmes, Inez
Hoskins, Emmett A.
Hoyman, Harry H.
Ivy, Charles M.
[ Box 19 ]Jenny, Arnold Eugene
Jeremiah, Roy A.
Johnson, Ivan Cameron
Johnson, William H.
Jorgensen, Mignon K., Mrs.
Kamiske, Michael R.
Kempa, Arthur A.
Kendall, Paul W., Lieutenant General
Kendig, Hal D.
Killman, Guy
Official records
Personal miscellany
Strother, Ledia
Telegrams – miscellaneous
Twenty-seventh Infantry Regiment
Veterinary reports
Yates, L. D.

[ Box 20 ]

Pitts, Oscar G.
Predmore, Arthur L., Colonel
Reavey, Arthur
Redman, Harry K.
Reece, William O.
Reed, E. W.
Reed, Lester W.
Reher, Ernest A.
Rehfuss, Louis A.
Reynolds, Elmer E.
Rice, Claire R.
Richardson, Sam
Ritchey, Clara M.
Roberts, Kenneth
Rogers, R. H.
Rohrer, Harry C.
Rosing, Edward
Ruggles, Eileen
Sale, Jesse L.
Shotwell, Thomas A.

[ Box 21 ]

Cicotte, Harry
Duke University (Mattie Russell)
Kopecky, Joe
Korn, Otto H.
Korotzer, Sam
Lange, A.
Longuevan, Joseph B.
Loutocky, J. A.
Lynch, Alva
Lynch, James W.
McClendon, J. T.
McQuiddy, L. A.
Magowan, Dave
Massey, Raymond
Masury, George Tait
Mathieu, Lucille
Maxwell, Charles P.
Miller, George E.
Miscellaneous and partial letters
Souhrada, John
Spiking, C. D.
Spowart, Stephen
Sprigg, Rodney
Stephenson, Clinton W.
Streed, Eugene F.
Stommer, Harry N.
Sundheimer, John M.
Taylor, John
Thompson, Dorothy
Umbreit, Cora Hobein
Whaley, Harry R., Mrs.
Wykoff, Roy A.
Yates, J. J.
Zimmerman, Theodore H.

[ Box 22 ]

Diaries – Guy Killman and Paul E. Chesebro
Foley, Robert J.
Miscellaneous reports, articles, and documents
Photograph numbers
Sundheimer, John M.

[ Box 23 ]

Baggs, Ralph L. – correspondence (intelligence) – See 1963 Article, “A Find!”
Edwards, Lillian S. (nurse)
Entertainment programs, poetry, news clippings, telegrams, map, and miscellanea
Goreham, Alphia Wilber – correspondence
Miscellaneous articles, reports, and news clippings
Miscellaneous postwar items, photos, and correspondence
News and press releases
Padley, Alick, and Bud Holmes
Quartermaster supplies
Russian Railway Service Corps
Turner, Porter E. – correspondence

[ Box 24 ]

Mail, Siberian
Mail regarding Siberian Sojourn
Northern Russia

Contents: Access Points


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