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Why I Chose A Swiss Grandfather

August 9, 2013 1 comment
I have in my possession, the following original typed article which was written by Edith M. Fisher, (circa about 1945).  Any reprint or use of any of this work must properly cite Edith M. Fisher/Faulstich’s name as the original author. The article includes a photograph of a very young Edith (“Dee”) Fisher with a caption: “Internationally know philatelic writer and an ardent collector of stamps and covers of Switzerland”
A hand-scribbled note on the top of a photocopy of the news article: “Thought maybe you’d like this re “ancestors” to pen (into the) baby book. ~ Mom
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Why I Picked A Swiss Grandfather

Being on good behavior has its compensation in heaven the same on earth. I remember a time way back, about the middle of the last century, up in the never, never land.

I’d been on pretty good behavior for quite awhile when one fine day, my Guardian Angel said to me, “I want you to study the countries of the Earth.

Because you have been good, I’ll let you pick out the one where you think you’d like to live. In about three score years from now I’m going to send you down to Earth for one lifetime.

“Countries change so, how will I know what they will be like in the next century? I queried. “That’s a good question,” said my Guardian Angel, “no country is any better than the people in it,  or their ideals, and ideas. Rather, pick a man who will one day be your grandfather. Pick him for the country that is his background now and be satisfied to let the future bring what it may.”

Picking out a Grandfather from a country whose ideals were impressionable was a tall order. I thought I would never finish studying the countries of the Earth until one day I came upon Switzerland.

To me, it was the most beautiful of all countries that I had viewed. But we had been taught that is beauty is sometimes only skin deep. Perhaps, I thought the beautiful sky-pointed Alps, the profusion of wildflowers below the snow-capped mountains, the lakes, the quaint Swiss houses, the cleanliness and preciseness of the towns was only a thing of beauty. Perhaps, the people were not as fine as the beautiful countryside; but I determined to find out.

First, I studied the background of Switzerland and found to my delight that it was the oldest democracy in the world, in ancient days it was called “Helvetica.” Like most European countries, Helvetica went through its primitive period, with its domination by Imperial Rome. But, one day chosen delegates from the three countries of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden, formed a political and military alliance to maintain independence against the Duke of Austria. This was on August 1, 1291. Through the centuries that followed, August 1st remained a Swiss National Holiday, because the document formed then contains ever the principle of its later constitution, even the one that governs Switzerland today. The document is called the Deed of the Confederation and is what dates Switzerland as the world’s oldest Democracy. Before another century had rolled around, five more Cantons were added by various treaties and Switzerland was hailed as a European power.

I studied this background reverently, and thought, “those people must have what it takes.” In a small territory, hemmed in by antagonistic larger countries, that had the determination and the fortitude to establish their independence.

Studying Switzerland’s background further, I found that she had suffered several centuries of hardships. The Reformation took its toll and subsequent internal political dissension weakened the little democracy, and I found myself worrying for her—forgetting that I was studying history that had already been written. Then I came upon the last part of the 18th century when the roar of the French Revolution rolled across the Alps and for the first and only time overturned the Confederation. The period of 1798-1804 was known as the Helvetica Period, I learned.

But, I saw that the Swiss were not to accept the new arrangement—although it took them until 1815 to restore the confederation. By that time, the twenty-two Cantons of which still make up the country had formed the Confederation and the system of the Cantonal sovereignty set up then and still exists today in a circle of Federal Union.

So much for background history, Switzerland inspired me, next I wondered about her achievements artistically. It didn’t take much study to find that their famous Abbey of St. Gall, laid down 1,200 years ago, was a hearthstone of the Arts in the middle of a barbarous Europe; that Calvin had founded the Geneva Academy of Arts in 1558 and that sculptors, painters, and musicians abounded in the little Democracy.

I saw the industries of the busy people of Switzerland, the herdsmen, the watch makers, the cheese and chocolate makers, and heard the happy peasants yodeling on the mountain sides, saw the St. Bernard dogs, beautiful, gentle, efficient. I read about the William Tell and his apple and was impressed. I got a fleeting glimpse into the future and say that this little country would be the seat of the Universal Postal Union, which would govern the mail service of the World.

By this time, it was quite apparent to me that Switzerland was as great a country as it was beautiful. I was convinced of its beauty, of its history, even of its aesthetic side. But, no truly great country can be great unless its people have compassion. Were there any great men or women in this beautiful spot that sacrificed their lives and their finances to help their fellow man? I didn’t have to go very far to find such names as Johann Pestalozzi, whose love of children and personal sacrifice for them, became a symbol of guidance to other countries throughout the world and of Jean Henri Dunsant, young man of a wealthy Zurich family, who devoted his life to helping the afflicted, who reduced himself to a state of poverty to help those in need, who founded the International Red Cross Society, which today has spanned to the four corners of the Globe, with its humanitarian program.

I felt numb with happiness. I felt sure that I had found the country that I wanted my Grandfather to come from. I sat down on my crossed legs and hummed softly, I looked down again into Switzerland, and as I did I suddenly saw a young boy walking the street of Schaffhausen. I heard my Guardian Angel say softly, “Have you made up your mind?’ Yes, I said, “I want a Swiss Grandfather.” She pointed to the young man in Schaffhausen and said, “Some day along about sixty years from now he will be your grandfather.”

I looked again, and heard the young boy, Conrad Bollinger was his name, saying Good-bye to his friends for he was leaving for America. I jumped up quickly. “But, he’s going to America,” I said to the Angel.

“That’s right” she answered, “there’s a new county over there—it needs the best that the rest of the world can give so that it can grow. Your Grandfather will have the ideas and ideals of the oldest democracy in the world as he establishes his home and family in a new democracy, which is trying to get over it’s growing pains.”

I must have fallen off to sleep then and it was some thirty years later when I awakened. I looked down again and this time I saw America. It took no time to find the young Conrad, but was much older now. He had fought in the American Civil War and was working for the Government of the United States.

My Guardian Angel appeared again, “Now,” she said, you can even see your mother.”

I looked carefully until I saw four children in their teens, three girls and a boy. They are your Grandfather’s children,” said my Guardian Angel, “the second from the youngest—Margaret is her name—will someday be your Mother.”

I rocked and hummed again, I felt good. I wondered if I would look a little like Margaret when I became an earthly child.  I thought, who could have picked out a better country than America in all this world, with a better background than one stemming from Switzerland. In fact, I felt pretty lucky. I had already seen both my Grandfather and my mother.

Again, I must have fallen asleep and the next thing I knew I woke up in Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York in the United States of America and someone said, “It’s a girl”

Note #1: August 9, 2013.

I am Alice Margaret Fisher. I was named after my grandmother and great grandmother Margaretha Bollinger. I am the granddaughter of Edith Margaret Fisher/Faulstich. I am the great-great-granddaughter of Conrad Bollinger, from Beringen, Switzerland. I retyped this article, written by Edith Fisher more than 60 years earlier, and furthered the family lineage into our Swiss ancestry as a result of her early work.

Our Swiss grandfather’s family now dates back to Hans George Bollinger, Born about 1588.

I am proud of this rich history and our deep roots.  As a result, when I completed a study abroad to Europe in 1994, and thereafter  I took my two young daughters with me and we traveled to Beringen, and Schaffhausen Switzerland.

We landed in Beringen on July 31, 1994,  it was my youngest daughter’s 12th birthday. We being the first to return as a direct line descendant of Conrad Bollinger. The village was exactly as my grandmother wrote, and they opened up the little museum and bought my girls an ice cream on Sunday pouring their history and lives out to us in earnest while we spoke a triangle of me with my broken French to the women in the village who then in turn spoke Swiss-German, to the Museum curator.

Note #2,  May 14, 2009
I’ve begun contributing to a Beringen, Switzerland History Project
on Wikipedia.com

With much pride and love to my Nana, you and your work will not be forgotten!
Alice Margaret Fisher

The Siberian Sojourn Volume II-Chapter 21

November 6, 2010 3 comments

The Siberian Sojourn Volume II-Chapter 21

General Graves and More Troops Arrive in Vladivostok

General Graves arrived on the THOMAS. It was a beautiful sunny day. The officers already in Vladivostok had arisen at four in the morning to greet the General aboard the transport. Graves was more than pleased with the warm welcome but had to part company at 11 am for a scheduled breakfast aboard the BROOKLYN.
His first official visit into he city was to call on General Otani in order to set straight the question as to whether the American soldiers would march under a Japanese flag. Graves told Otani: “I did not and in fact my orders were of such a nature that I could not relinquish control of United States troops.”
Graves told Otani it was, however, his desire to cooperate in every way possible with the Japanese and that he felt assured they could accomplish the same objective because Grave felt the desires of the Japanese Government and the American Government were the same. “I also told him,” Grave wrote, “that in view of the limitations placed upon me as to the use of American troops I must insist upon being informed where troops were to be transferred and for what purpose before they were moved.”[i]
Graves also verbally told Colonel Styer, who had preceded him in command in Siberia, as to those limitations and requested him to act accordingly. “The Japanese Headquarters apparently thoroughly understood the situation and there has been no friction and conflict in the operations here.”[ii]
Later that first day problems were forgotten in one great social event arranged by General Otani. After the officers dressed for the occasion cars awaited their pleasure to take them to the affair. High ranking officers of all nations were on hand. One American said his head was whirling with the realization of how many really important military men from a great variety of countries were there shaking hands, bowing, eating and drinking with each other.
The food was spread out on tables as if there was no such thing as famine, as though there were no hungry peasants. It seemed ironic to some that the monarchy had been overthrown for just such dining and drinking while the peasants had cried for bread. Yet in Vladivostok the Allied officials were that night emulating such festivities while the peasants were starving in the hills. It did not set well with some of our men. It was too much like Moscow again with its banquet tables, high dress, drinks and social intercourse. One man wondered if a bread riot might not follow and had to admit he would not much blame the peasants if they broke down the doors in protest. But nothing happened. The affair was carried off with finesse as the military greats drank vodka and champagne and ate the finest of caviar and other delicacies. It was probably just as well that the hungry American soldiers who had been marching back and forth through the town knew nothing of that gala affair.
The day after arrival was a warm pleasant one. The officers were beginning to wonder just where they would live. “We will probably live in Headquarters,” Eichelberger wrote, as he sat in his pajamas in a stateroom on the THOMAS that early September morning.
He ( ???? check book illegible ) ything less beautiful. He wrote in his office in town that he was in “a house of cockroaches. They are here ( ???? check book illegible )y the million.” However, their own rooms were fairly clean and he told his wife he managed to draw a mattress and also to get a spring cot “like the one at Camp Fremont.”
While some of the men were seeing the cockroaches, Graves was busy with communiques that were piling up on his desk. He began to realize the complexities of the problems that were to face him in the days ahead. Not only was Russia in a chaotic state but the aims of some of the allies were questionable. The Commanding General was keen enough to foresee problems with the aggressive Japanese. On the diplomatic front he had to concern himself with General Alfred Knox of the British army who had no use for Russian peasants. Graves disagreed violently with Knox’s opinion and did not appreciate the latter’s determined effort to set up a reactionary regime in Siberia by building up the image of Kolchak, a former Admiral of the White Russian fleet.
As the days passed Graves was cognizant of the fact that most of the Allies who were ready and willing to fight the Bolsheviks had anticipated that the Americans would join the Allies. It was impossible for Graves to carry out the President’s wishes and cooperate with such aims. Furthermore, Graves was not amendable to making Kolchak the Supreme Commander of the White Russians, in spite of the wishes of the other Allies. Washington itself had given its nod of approval to this matter. Our General knew that Kolchak’s henchmen were raiding villages to impress men into the Kolchak army. He abhorred the tactics they used and felt that Washington was not apprised of the situation as it existed. If a village did not cooperate, the leaders of a town would be hauled off to be whipped or shot. Worse still, they were sometimes dipped into frigid waters until they became human icicles. Such reports worried Graves who stated, “I have often thought that it was unfortunate I did not know more of the conditions in Siberia than I did when I was pitchforked into the melee at Vladivostok. At other times I have thought that ignorance was not only bliss in such a situation but was advisable.”[iii]
Regarding the piled supplies which could be seen everywhere near the wharf, Graves did not need any communique. A panorama
spread before him or arms and ammunition lying around on wharfs or sidings or on vacant lots. Some material was in crates, some unprotected, some covered with huge canvas tarpaulins. Cotton was found thrown on the ground with no covering and nothing beneath it to protect it from dampness. Piles of rubber, so desperately needed by the Allies, were in evidence. There were automobiles that had never been uncrated. If this lifeline of supplies fell into the hands of enemy factions it would be disastrous. Guards were detailed to safeguard the supplies.
Then thee was the problem of the Czecho-Slovaks. By a strange twist of fate these men who the Americans had come to help were now fighting their own battles admirably.
“I was being disillusioned very fast,” Graves said. He reread his orders again and again and throughout his service in Siberia he refused to be forced by political or military groups to aide with one faction against the other. It seemed as though there was nothing left for our troops to do but carry out the part of the instructions relating to the guarding of military stores which might subsequently be needed by Russian forces.
However, the term “Russian forces” had to be defined before any steps could be taken to render aid referred to in the policy. In his book Graves wrote that the decision could not be made in Washington. Conditions were such in Siberia that one could not render any assistance to a Russian without discarding the policy of non-intervention in internal affairs. The General stated: “I could not give a Russian a shirt without being subject to trying to help the side to which the recipient of the shirt belonged.”
In addition to attempting to determine which of the Russians constituted ‘Russian forces,’ Graves also wondered about which element should be considered ‘the enemy.’
Throughout the intervention Graves’ neutral position represented views of the Chief of Staff, Secretary of War and the President himself. At first it was also the view of the State Department. Later, however, the War and State Departments differed. This added to Graves’ concern.
As though the situation in Russia itself was not enough to give any man a migraine, Graves was faced with the question of barracks and storage facilities for his American men. Satisfying the question of which army would occupy which barracks was a task of great magnitude, especially as those representatives of those nations having the fewest troops were often the hardest to satisfy.”[iv]
The General stated: “It was an almost impossible task to convince the Japanese or Chinese or Italian forces that on account of our sanitary regulations we can only put 150 men into a building. . .(one) into which they would put 300-500. They would not admit that our soldiers were deserving of any more consideration than their own.”[v]
Such questions had to be handled with tact and diplomacy.
As though there were not enough problems at hand, General Otani asked each of the Allies to designate officers to sit on nine different committees: Material, Barracks and Quarters, Finance, POW, Inter-Allied Railway, Sanitary and Tariff and Marital Law. This would take more time. In addition, Allied representatives were at first scheduled to meet twice a week, then once a week to discuss matters of common interest. No committee decision was final, but when policies were not violated the majority opinion was usually adopted.[vi]
Later General Graves was to report: “. . .Personal and official relations with Japanese Headquarters have left nothing to be desired except that the Japanese have simply been following a different policy. They have resorted to bribery and trickery in every way. The Japanese Chief of Staff has stated that they have already spent one hundred million yen in Siberia on their army. They spend money in a way and follow methods that Americans cannot and must not follow. However, condemn these methods as much as we do, the fact remains that conditions are such here and the Russian people are such, that. . .I doubt very much whether it is possible for us in the face of such obstacles to realize the American ideals of honesty, liberty and justice in Siberia for years and years to come.”[vii]

The doughboys were not as busy as was General Graves and his staff upon arrival, but they were eager to get off the transport and into town for a firsthand look at the city itself.
First, however, they were required to eat breakfast on board. Then they received permission to debark.
Food on the transports was cooked in copper kettles by steam. Under ordinary circumstances the kettles were emptied after each meal, and scalding steam was used to cleanse them thoroughly. In this way, they were completely sterilized before the next meal. This method of cooking aboard army transports has long since been abandoned, but in September, 1918, that was the method used.
When the men received their dinner Labor Day night in 1918, they knew they would be eating their breakfast on the transport as well. The cooks also knew this. Henry Fry reports, “Those damn cooks must have had it figured out in advance that if they cooked more slum for dinner than the men could eat there would be some left over for breakfast. So they did just that, and then, not being military, they were permitted to go to town. Thus, when the slum cooled, and remember it had been sitting in those copper kettles all night, it was just reheated and served again. The effect was ptomaine poisoning.”[viii]
The result of that morning meal was catastrophic. After seventeen days on the water nearly every man was sick upon arrival. It has been reported that anywhere from 250 to 1,700 men were stricken a few hours after the meal was served. A survey showed that the men were indeed in the throes of ptomaine.
Stephen Chadwick records that they had no medical men assigned to them. That in itself was disastrous. Chadwick communicated with headquarters immediately, explaining the gravity of the situation, and requested that id be sent on the double.
An officer present at headquarters confided to Chadwick later that the Expedition Surgeon passed the petition for aid off with the remark that some of the men had doubtless had too much vodka. No assistance arrived.
At five o’clock most of the doughboys were too sick to leave their beds. Chadwick called again. An hour later a hospital corpsman with a bag of medicine appeared. He was unable to cope with the situation which existed. So Chadwick and a few others organized the well men into a sort of hospital corps and assisted, as far as they could, those unable to take care of themselves.
“At seven o’clock,” he recalls, “to my great relief, two young doctors drifted in. Seeing the situation and fully appreciating it, they immediately raided the so called Base Hospital and returned with two bottles of CC pills and one bottle of castor oil. The latter was said to be the only bottle with the expedition! The pills were given to those able to walk, the oil was soon exhausted on those unable to leave their beds,” Chadwick reports, and adds, “To those two doctors, Lieutenants Ehlers and Baronodisk, the men of the transport owe a real debt, for with me they waited and worked throughout the night. I hope the Expedition Surgeon slept soundly.”
Other men recalled that some of the sick were put in a field hospital which was set up in Russian quarters. “The doctors and pill rollers gave each of us either salts or castor oil to try to ease the onslaught of the pain,” said one man.

In time most of the men managed to overcome the ptomaine onslaught and began to look around them. Many were surprised to see that Siberia was not vastly different from the States. The climate was about the same and the people were similar to people one might meet anywhere in a cosmopolitan city except that most of the inhabitants were wretchedly clothed. But, all in all, it did not seem nearly as bad as it had sounded back home. There were troops from many countries and prisoners of war everywhere. Before them lay a beautiful harbor sight. A Japanese fleet with banners flying, the British KENT (a destroyer), and the American cruiser BROOKLYN were in full view. There were also two obsolete Russian destroyers.
But that first day it rained and rained. It was only a drizzling rain but the kind that soaks into a man’s body. Those that had been sick with ptomaine were weak and disgusted. Drizzling rain can knock a weak soldier out. Nevertheless, the AEFers had been ordered to get out with full packs and fall in. After that it was a repetition of orders to fall in and to fall out so many times that the men were worn to a frazzle before they finally received their marching orders. With full packs they were paraded from what was later known as American Base, through Vladivostok, all the way to the far end of Svetlanskaya Street.
To this day the men do not know the purpose of that tram, tramp, tramp. One said it was mismanagement from the top. Another said that “the Brass wanted to make a show to the natives.” But most of the men concluded that they looked too awful to be making any kind of a good impression.
“In all my years of service, sometimes marching all day, I have never suffered so much,” said Fry. “My shoulder straps from my pack cut into my shoulders. Our morale was not improved by seeing out buddies along the side of the street. I think our detachment must have lost about fifty percent of its effectiveness that day.” The “buddies along the street” were the men who had fallen out. After some two hours in the rain those who were able were still marching and the weaker ones simply gave up. Every half block or so another doughboy would just stop and sit down on the side of the road.
They saw by the bewilderment of the officers that they were without any forceful leadership. Graves had not had time to take command of the situation and apparently no arrangements had been made before their arrival. It is that sort of realization that makes for demoralization. The men were cursing and weeping at the same time. They were so hopelessly disordered and dismayed and without any guidance that it was a shock to their sense of discipline. The rain continued its incessant drizzling, but it did not help to wash away the annoyance each man felt.
When some of the men first arrived they cleaned off areas on the floor, spread their blankets and went to sleep. One man says he will never forget that first night. “In this building there was a poor starving family, they had no home, no nothing, and all their worldly possessions were the rags on their backs. They began to make signs indicating that they wanted food. We had nothing to give them as our mess set-up was in another place and we had had our supper. As we had to have a space to sleep our Lieutenant in command had to run those poor people out so that we could clear a spot to bed down on the floor. Of course it was raining, cold rain, as this was early in September and it was already getting chilly at night.[ix]
After the men became organized and got the buildings cleaned, new doors and windows were installed. Cots were issued, and mattress covers which they filled with straw.
Some of the men bought sheets from a Russian woman and managed to get extra blankets to make themselves fairly comfortable.
Henry Fry said his sleeping accommodations were subsequently not too bad as the Russian army bakeries were pretty well set up and sleeping quarters were provided for, according to the number of bakers they had. The higher ranking non-commissioned officers had small sleeping rooms. The officers’ quarters were habitable after they were cleaned. The soldiers were thankful that they had arrived in moderately cold weather rather than in the freezing weather of winter. “If we had arrived in Siberia two months later than we did, I doubt if we ever could have made it. When I think back of what we did have to go through I know we couldn’t have made it if it had been better cold.”[x]
One man recalled that when he arrived his group had been taken to a low field and told to pitch pup tents. “We had two blankets and thin clothing, he said, “and we about froze the night for we had been in the Philippine Islands where it was hot. A lot of the boys caught cold and some even died of exposure so we were pretty disgusted.”[xi]
Another man also recalls that camp. He reports, “all of the 31st Infantry was located in pyramidal wall tents until about the end of September. The days were quite comfortable but the nights were very cold. At least it seemed cold to us who had come from the Philippine Islands with only khaki uniforms and very thin underwear. As a result about fifty percent of the men in the regiment became ill with colds or flu. We had small cone type stoves in each tent. There were eight men to a tent. At night we would each take a one hour shift to keep the stove hot because we lacked sufficient blankets or heavy clothing to keep warm. We had to stay in those tents to give the laborers time to clean and repair the barracks we were to occupy. You just would not believe the tons of dirt, excrement and dead flies that were taken out of each of these barracks before we were able to occupy them in late September.”[xii]
Some of the troops had taken over one of the Baldwin Locomotive sheds upon arrival. They remained for a day, having mess on the transport. Then they were informed that messing from the transport had to end. These men were equipped as casuals, without kitchen equipment, so feeding became quite a problem. Beef was issued in half and other rations in similar proportions. The men took the only way out. They raided the Quartermaster Warehouse for sufficient supplies to feed themselves. Altogether, there were 1,250 men, formerly of the Eighth, quartered in the Baldwin sheds. They were located about three miles out from the center of the city, and from expedition headquarters.[xiii]
Joe Longuevan was lucky when he joined Company C, 31st; it was already comfortably ensconced in the brick barracks on the Churkin-Dio [1] Joseph B. Longuevan, Co. C, 31st Inf.
[i]Grave’s book
[ii]Gen. Graves’ official report #2 dated 6/30/19, WDNA
[iii]Graves’ book
[iv]Graves
re[prt dated 6/30/19, WDNA
[v]Graves’ Final Report, WDNA
[vi]Graves’ Final Report, WDNA
[vii]Graves’ Report, September 25, 1919 to Adjutant General of the Army, WDNA
[viii]Henry C. Fry, Quartermaster Corps.
[ix]Henry C. Fry
[x]Henry C. Fry
[xi]Alphia Wilber Goreham, Co. D, 31st Inf.
[xii]Lester William Reed, Co. K, 31st Inf.
[xiii]Stephen F. Chadwick, Lt. Co. D, 27th Inf., 1st Bn. Adjutant, Regimental Personnel Adjutant

The SIberian Sojourn Volume II- Chapter 20

November 6, 2010 Leave a comment

The SIberian Sojourn Volume II- Chapter 20

The 90-mile March

At the concentration point, Sviyagino, Colonel Morrow was busy preparing to move the troops to Ussuri. He was in command of the march which started on August 30, 1918.
The 90-mile trip north on foot proved to be one of the hardest experiences the men had while stationed in Siberia. From daylight to dark, with only two meals a day, they trudged on over hills, through sparse and deep woods, across marshes and swamps, and an interminable series of hills and dales. Tortuous walking was the pattern along with shoving and pushing mules and wagons most of the time. Before resting at night latrines had to be dug; the pup tents that had to be put up were so old that they leaked in the slightest rainfall. Often the men slept in slimy, muddy water. But before the rains fell, the sun had to be contended with. The day on which the march started it was wickedly hot.
The summer heat had left the road dry and dusty. The Americans had endured drills back in Manila where the sun often made breathing difficult. Their experience in Siberia was not too different. The beautiful harvest lands on either side of the road were dubbed the Manila rice paddies. Filipino songs were sung to keep spirits up.
The so-called roads consisted of ground between two ditches bridging the swamps. On many occasions straw from the wagons had to be used to fill in ruts. It was no simple matter to march, heave hay and push mules and wagons along while suffering from parched throats, dysentery and hunger. Canteens were emptied all too often.
The regiment had started out with baggage and ration wagons, ambulances and with native guides to show them the best route parallel to the railway. Unfortunately, when the guides found themselves lost they became frightened and simply disappeared. These strange new Americans with weird horses (mules) frightened the natives who feared punishment for getting lost. As the soldiers plowed on the sun climbed higher, aggravating their thirst, hunger and discouragement.
While there was beauty on either side of the road, the men were too exhausted to appreciate any of it.
In one area a strange, terribly nauseating odor assaulted the men and choked them beyond the heat alone. It was as though some awful gas engulfed them as they marched along. When a halt was finally called, the men dropped, inert against clumps of bushes by the side of the road. While “chow” looked good, some of the men decided to investigate the cause of the stench which seemed to emanate from beyond the bushes.
Suddenly the air was filled with oaths of profanity. There before them say heaps of dead bodies with mounds of cartridges everywhere. Later it was learned that a battle had taken place there between the Japanese and the Bolsheviks. The dreadful slaughter was the evidence.
Men stood stunned. Many regurgitated with abandon into the bushes, while unable to take their eyes off the sight. Unburied bodies with flesh burning in the hot midday sun were covered with swarms of large black flies. Other bodies, apparently killed more recently, still oozed blood. The sight sickened the very staunchest.
Most of the soldiers were already suffering from dysentery. The sight made their plight pitiable. Soon they turned their heads in an effort to avoid the sight and smell. They failed to notice the profusion of wild flowers amidst the carnage.
The Americans had been following on foot a Japanese armored train which was pursuing a trainload of Bolsheviks. The Japanese had thrown an artillery shell ahead of the Bolshevik train and had also torn up a bridge to trap it. The Bolsheviks were thus scattering across the countryside with the Japanese in hot pursuit. The latter had killed several hundred in one area and left the results that had so shocked the Americans.
As the doughboys wiped the sweat from their brows and from their hands they weakly made their way back; some hoped that what they had witnessed would somehow be obliterated from their memories. That was most unlikely to be the case.
Hungry as they had been, those who had not eaten could not do so; those who had lost everything with one great and awful spasm.
Most of the raw recruits came from sheltered American homes. They had been brought up to respect life and to love their neighbors; they had also been trained to observe good sportsmanship. Yet they did know that war was a dreadful thing and during war man murdered man, something the so-called lower animals never stoop to – kill their own kind in group battle. Nevertheless, to come upon that battlefield so unexpectedly in a field of God’s good earth with oats, wheat and flowers was too much. Some men wept openly.
One genteel young soldier from Georgia was literally shocked into insensibility. He was removed to an ambulance at once and eventually had to be sent back to the States.[i]
When men had regained some semblance of composure, their voices came in whispers. In that mangled pile of bloated corpses, lying in a mush of bone and flesh, men felt that what they had come to regard as civilization must have died there. There had been dead men on top of horses, dead horses on top of men, and flies thick and black everywhere.
“I can still smell the stench and see the sight when I think of it today over half a century later. It was appalling, dreadful and unbelievable.”[ii]
Eager to march again to get away from that battle field, the men fell into position. Many thoughts, however, dwelt on that spot.
The men noted that the boots of many corpses had been removed. “It must have
been dreadful to move amongst that slaughter to get much needed boots,” Nick Hochee commented. “I guess they must have needed those boots pretty bad to have been able to creep out there on that field with those horrible bodies and parts of bodies, and empty shells all about, to pull boots from those terrible inert legs.”
As the march proceeded, more and m ore men began to fall out. The older men found the grind the hardest. The ambulances were making their way back to Sviyangino with the dropouts.
The officers marched with the men and gained great respect for this. They permitted a few of the weaker to ride on the advanced ambulances for short lengths in order to give them a chance to regain their strength. Some were permitted to put heavy packs on the wagons which the mules were supposed to be hauling but which, oftener than not, were pulled by other men.
The soldiers marched in a column of twos. They covered a remarkable number of tortured miles by the time the heat forced them to rest again. Flesh had become puffy over shoe tops. It was a distinct effort simply to erect flimsy canopy tents that evening.
On the route the men sweated it out in throbbing discomfort, mouths agape revealing enlarged, dust-covered tongues. When pebbles were found, such were placed in the mouth the stimulate the flow of saliva. While the doughboys were slowly becoming veterans, their morale was at a low ebb; because of weakness, they found it difficult even to remain erect. And this was but the first day of many before they would reach Ussuri.
Some of the Americans envisioned the cool ponds and murmuring brooks of “home”. Some thought of the water they had wasted in their short lives. No one realized that such thoughts had filled the minds of soldiers for ages past — and ages yet to come.
Cliff Strohm, a mechanic with A Company, had joined the army when he became hungry back in California. He was born and raised in Cleveland. At the age of thirteen he began to work part time in a print shop. He liked it so well that lithography became his profession for life. However, in July 1916 he decided to see the west and made his way to California. He rode freight trains and stopped off whenever funds were needed. He worked on farms and in restaurants for a few dollars which would carry him to the next stopping point.
In San Francisco there were no jobs available. Strohm was in a quandary; he decided to enlist in the army in order to have steady room and board. Subsequently he saw service in the Philippines from whence he left for Siberia. As a company mechanic he was soft for he had been excused from all drills and hikes in the Philippines in order to perform his mechanical chores. He had been kept busy repairing rifles and equipment and in assisting the supply sergeant in making, painting and loading shipping cases for the next move.
Strohm remarked: “Can you imagine excusing a soldier from drills and marches and then sending him on that terrible hike to Ussuri?”
In addition to being unfamiliar with hiking, Strohm had to carry an awkward range finder which bruised his legs and body. His equipment weighed 90 pounds!
On the first day of the hike to Ussuri he dreamed of a soft cot at eventide and of soft green grass. But, he stated that when they stopped he was chosen for latrine detail and was put to work digging trenches and making cover.[iii]
This sort of duty had to be performed on every day of the hike, rain or shine. When the pup tents were pitched the men would peel off their shoes, bate their feet if there was water available and bandage blisters. Foot inspection had become a nightly ritual. For some of the men, the light shoes had lasted for only a part of the first day. It was difficult to say whether the marchers wanted most to sleep, eat or drink. In any case, they were happy when the old corned beef, hardtack and coffee was doled out at night.[iv]
On the first night Asa Williams found himself on guard duty. The cook had forgotten him after feeding the other men. “That was one of the real sad experiences of my whole life — to miss supper that first day,” the soldier recalled.
Williams also recalled that he had drunk rain water from cow tracks. At the time, the Japanese had been drinking from cattle tracks so he decided to do the same thing. If it didn’t hurt them, why should it hurt him? Then Williams learned that the Japanese also ate dogs. He and three or four other doughboys thought that dog meat might be pretty good eating “so the other guys and I tried some but I didn’t like the taste as I didn’t eat much, although I was awfully hungry.”
Williams reported that he had been sick most of the time but kept going for to stop might have been disastrous. Some of the other men wondered if his water-drinking habits might not have caused his illness. Lawrence Nygard recalled an occasion on which Williams lay down in desperation on the road and again drank forbidden water. An officer who had spotted him, to get up at once. “Don’t you know that that water could be polluted and could kill you?”
“But sir, if I don’t drink it that’s going to kill me too.” Williams replied meekly. The officer shrugged and walked off.
A few yards beyond, the men found three dead Russian bodies by the side of the road. The water the Americans had been drinking was flowing past the cadavers. Williams stared; he felt sick at the sight and was sure that he would die there in that rutted road in Siberia.
On the march that first day the men had had plenty of time to digest the rumors that had arisen. When had the Japanese gone ahead in boxcars and left them to walk?
When the Americans had received word that the bridges ahead were out and that they would have to continue on foot they never foresaw what lay ahead. At that time the rest of the Japanese troops had been ordered to remain at Sviyagino until the damaged bridges were repaired. The curses that arose regarding the Japanese were halted when the Americans had to be reminded that these were our allies. A few horselaughs ensued.
“Allies, eh,” remarked a doughboy, “I’ll bet they will give us more trouble than the Russians before we are through.” His words were prophetic of events to come.[v]
At the time it was enough to know that the Japanese intended to wait at the siding for repairs and that the American ammunition and official cars had been taken over by the Japanese while the doughboys had to march in the blazing sun or the rain. Rage was felt by the Americans; they determined to beat the Japanese to their destination. In the spirit of competition, the men faced the challenge, not knowing that August 30, 1918 was to be just a beginning.
The doughboys soon felt thirst and dehydration as the day wore on. Adding to their misery, it was found that many of the men found themselves unable to urinate and, if at all, to find great pain and difficulty doing so.
The official report of the first day’s march stated that the roads were “excellent”.[vi] The doughboys had a different version.
The troops reached Nikitovka at 3:30 pm. They had covered but 13 miles, yet to many the march had become unendurable. Blister, infections and thin shoes used in the tropics had taken their toll. Sore muscles, dysentery and numerous bodily ailments were part of the misery.
Although the Yanks were glad to reach any site that indicated the possible end of the day’s journey, it was not long before they were ordered to the Monastery, another six miles to the east. Fortunately, the road was now good and a campsite awaited them supplied with water and wood.
The camp was made close to a small creek. However, the parched soldiers were forbidden to drink there until the water had been boiled and cooled. They watched with envy as the mules were permitted to drink from the creek.
By reveille on August 31, 1918, it was raining heavily. This overjoyed the men; but the rain was to last for three days and cause more agonies for all.
Breakfast of leftover hash, hardtack and coffee was eaten in the cold rain at Nikitovka. At 7 am the men were placed in a column of ours to continue.
As they marched along, the odor of the dead followed them. In one creek they saw a dead man and a dead horse. At another point a good deal of excitement resulted when it was found that a corporal was missing. After a search, the man was finally located.
In some locations the soldiers had to construct a corduroy road; then a bridge had to be strengthened to allow passage of the wagons and mules.
By the second day the Americans realized that the light two-wheeled carts of the Japanese were superior in this country to the heavy wagons of the A.E.F.[vii]
As the march progressed, the pace began to slow up. Many began to limp; some dropped out from sheer exhaustion. As the combat wagons were already overloaded, only a few lucky ones were able to hitch a ride. This practice was soon halted.
As the men became numbly accustomed to exhaustion, the stench of decaying bodies also did not disturb them as at first. They were learning the lessons. A mounted officer of the Japanese infantry had an orderly he needed run alongside on foot.
The Americans also learned much about the significance of rain. No one could climb in the muck that resulted. The unbearable dust clouds had turned to a sea of mud. In the marshy areas the wagons became so mired that the animals were no longer able to move in them. With the aid of manpower, supplies were finally jettisoned. The entire 27th carried hay, gathered on the way, to be used to build roads through the swamps.
Don Pequignot recalled that he could not but smile when he had seen the poor mules in those swamps. The animals had flaps placed over them. “They kicked so much mud over the flaps and over the whole rear clear to the waist that we couldn’t have got a gun out if it had been necessary. We had to wash both the mules and the guns.”
At each small village the officers had hoped to get food. They had arranged a system. As the Americans noted a few houses in a wide spot in the road, a Russian-speaking soldier would go ahead and start to talk loudly. In every case the village would seem deserted. In a loud, clear voice he would state: “We are Americans who have come from the other side of the world to help you. But now we are hungry. We will buy black break or cabbages or whatever you may have.” Over and over he would repeat his call. At one place a man came out timidly and said “You couldn’t come from the other side of the world, you would fall off.” The Americans had the good grace not to laugh. Instead, the man was told how they had travelled on a huge boat over great waters that separated their countries. They asked him the help them as friends.
The man listened intently. He asked more and more questions. Soon a few more people ventured forth and the soldier managed to buy a few staples. They again heard that the Japanese had preceded them and had taken all they could find.
“We are afraid of strangers,” the natives said. “The Japanese pretended to by our friends but they and the Bolsheviks took what they wanted and left nothing in return. Some of the raped and killed our women.”
As confidences grew, the villagers offered some food and took candy bars and other items in exchange. American money was of no use to the Russians.
As the men continued splashing through the rain, keeping their heads bowed to offset the sweeping gusts, they dwelled on their plight. And they had only just landed in this strange land. They had become plastered with mud; their feet had become grotesquely enlarged by the cloying stuff. Sometimes the ooze showed traces of blood.
Jesse Sheppard had been among the fortunate few who had not seen the battlefield the previous day. He reported: “On the evening of the second night I saw my first dead soldier killed in a skirmish. We had arrived in some little town and had managed to get some water to wash up with.
“It was there we met a British soldier from a Middlesex regiment who told us of the skirmish. He also spoke of the huge mosquitoes. I know he was not exaggerating as we had the same experience with the monsters. That night we were given a speech about not being taken prisoner. We fixed our bayonets to do some fighting but it didn’t come. The soldier I saw who was killed was a Russian. He had been felled by a skirmish party a short distance ahead and was left there all alone. I don’t even know if they ever buried him.”
When darkness descended, the woods took on the usual ominous appearance. No one knew where Bolsheviks might be lurking. It was a time for rumors in the ranks; and, as always, rumors were based upon ignorance of what lay ahead. The doughboys knew that a Bolshevik might be concealed in any house, haystack or tree. The wolf cries at night did not help to ease cases of taut nerves.
Accurate maps were not available. But then the men did not care too much about locations; they looked forward to reaching the next stop for rest. However, in spite of swollen feet, fatigue and dysentery, the hike continued.
Only eight miles were covered on the second day, chiefly through swampy terrain. Along the way logs and brush had been used to get the wagons over ruts and swamps. It was 7 pm when the column reached a passable camp site. It was 10 pm before chow was over. It had taken twelve long hours to make a mere eight miles. There had been no lunch. Again, foot ailments were most prevalent.
As the night wore on, pools of water formed everywhere. Men huddled in groups to keep as warm and dry as possible. They were exhausted and certainly looked a very sad army. The old pup tents leaked and mud oozed up to meet the drips from the canvas. The doughboys realized that after daylight they would again have to go on – over the apparently endless hills, woods and swamps. They knew that they were getting the best that could be offered under the circumstances. One man who was weakened by dysentery managed to get to the front rank amid the cheers of his buddies.
After a 6 am breakfast of sodden hardtack and rain-diluted coffee, the men prepared for the third day. As the troops were about to leave, an old Russian appeared, and, with a big grin, offered the men a large pan of tomatoes. He asked for no pay. Colonel Morrow uttered some profanity and kicked the pan out of the old man’s hands. He believed the tomatoes to be poisoned or they would not have been offered so freely.
It was 7:15 am on September 1st when the Americans left Renovka that third day of march.
Crossing a marsh some three miles wide, wagons again became mired. They were pulled along by means of ropes and manpower.
“Wonder if we will get out of these stinking marshes when we reach those hills,” mused one doughboy. Another replied disconsolately: “Maybe the climbing will be worse.”
As the men marched on, their shoes squished mud with weird, gurgling sounds. One soldier after shaking a mass of muddy slime from his feet, laughed sardonically. “When I think how I used to cuss a dry spell down on the farm. . .” Some of his buddies understood.
The ten-minute rest period during each hour was eagerly awaited. The doughboys would sit in a ditch with their packs against the berm of the roadside, wipe their filthy, unshaven faces and swat at the huge swamp mosquitoes. Tired, hungry and disgruntled, they cussed the world in general and Russia in particular.
The wagons streamed with water; mules and men dripped and stank. Besides, man and beast shivered in the cold wind blowing with cold rain. There were two thoughts paramount; the march would end and no matter how hot it might get, the sun would surely shine again.
Making headway was a slow process always. Trees had to be cut to build the ever necessary corduroy roads to carry the field pieces and the combat wagons. Much equipment was damaged or broken; much was simply left behind to lighten the loads. A supply company had its wagons and a hospital company and an ambulance. Each company had its own company equipment. The men had to carry their own personal effects.
It had become accepted that the march would be a dawn-to-dusk assignment. Shoes had so disintegrated that progress had been seriously hampered. For many men it was an effort to keep up; to be left behind might prove disastrous.
Frequently the mules had to be unhitched and their places taken by the exhausted soldiers who had to pull the wagons out of the mud. Finally, the troops had to abandon the “road” to set out for terrain that would lead them to a railway.
The soldiers marched on with haunting memories of that first stench-laden battlefield. Most little villages were ghost towns, silent, empty, dead. As a village was encountered, the men would call out hopefully. Always now, silence.
Morale of the troops was not of the highest. Two mules literally walked themselves to death. Men continued to grow weaker and increasingly discouraged. When the sun had blazed down on the first day the men had bitched. Now in the rain, the picture had changed, and for the worse. Many a man recalled his raincoat hanging on the kitchen door at home; then there was the old fireplace where he could warm himself after his work outdoors.
The “road” showed the ravages of war. Left and right lay the bodies of fallen soldiers. Often at night the Americans were forced to bury bodies to find an area to pitch their tents. It was not a pleasant task for men who had spent a day hiking on that terrible terrain.
The machine gun company had nearly reached the limit of its tolerance. One man stumbled into a bee hive. As the swarm assailed him a few laughs were heard. Another good target for the bees was Tony Klepatska, the Russian interpreter. Stumbling and waving his arms, he struck out in all directions. When he attempted to cast off his pack he became entangled and became a helpless victim. Elmer Moe and another man went to help him. For their consideration, the received the attention of the bees too. Tony was finally extricated. The bees were undaunted. They began to attack the mules who kicked and bellowed and sought relief in flight. Some of the mules were loaded with kitchen equipment. Moe told it this way: “The mules started down the road, kicking in every direction. The men opened up a line of each side with almost precision force to make way; if they had not they would have been trampled upon. The mules forged on clanking the equipment and strewing it as they went everywhere. It was a sight I shall never forget.”
There was further excitement when a German sympathizer started to sound off. Although he was now a soldier in the United States Army, he could not resist expressing his thoughts. Eventually he was court-martialed and sentenced to hard labor. but perhaps this was better than marching through Russian swamps!
When it came time to line up the pup tents the doughboys found that, even with the use of bayonets, the terrain prevented maintaining any alignment. Not to be defeated, they scooped out shallow trenches around the perimeters of the tents. This improved the drainage.
Once the tents were pitched, chores done and chow over, the men felt better. Since there was no means of relieving tensions, the men lay down and attempted to sleep on the deeply scored ground. The city men suffered most.
“We had marched along like wet dish rags,” said Don Pequignot. “We rolled blankets tight on our backs and trudged on. I cut my shoe on a broken glass bottle. That night I found a pair of shoes in the potatoes. They belonged to Colonel Miller. Although they fit me perfectly I figured I should return them to the Colonel. I nearly fainted when he told me to keep them.”
The men used twigs and branches in an attempt to make a fire; this was not a success at all. By 10 pm there was the usual drizzle and the leaking tents.
At 2:20 pm that third day the Americans had reached their next stopping point, Uspanka. They had covered but ten miles. In spite of the early hour, a halt had been called much to the relief of the men. They considered the site “a hell of a place for a camp” but were glad that the day’s tramping was over. Event he brief official report termed the roads “very poor (swamps).”
That night some of the soldiers began pacing back and forth; they felt like trapped animals with unfilled stomachs and wet bodies.
As the doughboys arose to reveille at 6 am on September 2, 1918, a light rain was still falling at Uspenka. They had the usual breakfast before they headed out due west for the railroad. They broke camp at 7:15 am and marched toward a town called Ordejevka. During the day they passed through wild grass and some buckwheat fields. The rain had let up for which there was much gratefulness.
According to some reports the Americans reached Ordejevka at 11:30 am; others stated that it was at 1:30 pm. They had marched another ten miles. The spot was a good mile or two from any wood or water.
At this time Morrow wired Headquarters at Vladivostok that the march was proceeding according to schedule. He expected to reach Ussuri at 10 am on September 4th. Rations were getting scanty. The Yanks hated the hardtack which was full of weevils by now. Perhaps they had forgotten the stories of their grandfathers who fought in the Civil War. Emory Todd had this comment to make: “We would knock the hardtack until almost all of the weevils were out and then dump the hardtack in the coffee quick. It was the only way some men could take it or they would starve.” Todd also recalled: “Our feet were inspected by the medic as there was no doctor. Blisters were taped up. I was one of the lucky few who didn’t get blisters. However, my feet were suffering something dreadful. I had a lot of dysentery too but managed to be in the front rank when we finished the hike. The older men suffered the most. We carried our rifle and bayonet and each of us had 100 rounds of ammunition and an emergency pack of hardtack, bacon and coffee.”
Lawrence Nygard related one of his experiences on the hike. He had enlisted in 1915 and served in Texas City before he was sent to Vladivostok and found himself on the unforgettable 90-mile march.
One day on the march, to lighten his load, he placed some gear on a wagon. As he was hungry, he looked about and spied a pack of emergency rations. “I swiped it,” he related, “and devoured the entire contents in a few gulps — hardtack and bacon. When I think of it today, I still get indigestion.”
By nighttime Nygard was again hungry so he went for his own rations. They were gone! “I guess someone else got hungry too. Anyway, God punished me. I got nothing but coffee that night.”
Sometimes appetites were forgotten. Nick Hochee told of the time they stopped to eat. Again another heap of bodies was discovered. This time the corpses were piled like cordwood upon a new battlefield.
The state of the roads, the weather, the food and other incidentals seemed to have become blurred in the memories of many of the men who were on that hike. There was some recollection that near the end of the hike the Americans were able to buy some chickens, field corn and potatoes. This was an unforgettable event. One morning oat mush and sugar, without mile, seemed like a banquet.
The men who were most unprepared for the hike, and so fearful of being left behind, came marching in a sort of coma. During the last leg of the march they passed yet another battlefield. Here were trenches with dead Russians who had been killed by the Japanese. The fact that the bodies for some reason had been stacked more neatly, made the sight no less revolting.
One doughboy observed that, while the natives along he route were suspicious of the Americans, their attitude changed after they found the soldiers most friendly. “When the Americans first arrived the natives threw up their hands. ‘This is the end,’ they said. ‘Now we will have nothing left.’ But an officer approached a farmer regarding some newly mowed hay for the men to make their beds on. He produced a roll of money from his money belt to pay for it. The farmer was stunned. It was soon learned that, although the money could not buy them anything, the Americans were willing to purchase or trade. At least they were not taking everything from the people. . .”[viii]
One report indicated that camp was made at a spot two miles beyond a monastery but said nothing about a river. Another mentioned that they camped at the bank of the Ussuri, on open ground, and were glad to have left the marshlands behind. The wild grass was knee-deep and the terrain had become hilly en route. Everyone seemed happy and, as the weather was warm, most of the men went swimming. This was not only a good form of recreation but offered a means of removing the accumulated muck of the march.
Some men had been sent ahead to forage for food. Food was waiting for the troops at their destination. The quantity was not great, but the fare consisted of beef, potatoes and cabbage. The mule teams had very little to eat.
Reports indicated that small bridges had been repaired, trestles were in order and all trains were now running.
Along the route, when the men managed to speak through an interpreter to the least fearful of the Russian natives, the Americans were astonished to learn that much of the natives’ fears of the Americans arose from the fact that they were white skinned and had light hair. A negro American, who had lived in Siberia had spread the rumor that all the Americans were dark skinned as he was. The natives began to wonder where the white men really came from.
At times in the evenings when fires were built, a few natives would wander in and gather around to hear the doughboys sing American songs. These Russians listened and laughed in their subdued, grave manner.
The Americans were always happy to find people in a village. Often they had heard that the Japanese had shelled village churches and frightened the natives away. One monastery had been shelled to ruins because the Japanese thought that it might be an observation point.
As the Yanks neared Ussuri, they were happy to be out of the wilderness. They were dirty, tired and hungry as they arrived at Ussuri at 3:30 pm on September 4th after making nearly 14 long miles from Tikamanavo. Before arriving, however, a most unusual event occurred. Dragging themselves along …( ?????? check the books original text. unreadable)
….uld be coming along any minute, the band sent out its greetings to its buddies!
Since ancient days, no soldier was not inspired by music. The transformation that took place in the ranks hiking into Ussuri was heartfelt. When the band struck up “The Stars and Stripes Forever” the dispirited men held their hands a little higher, and their step was suddenly animated. More than one man could be seen with glistening tears upon his cheeks. Here was music from home!
The British, who had already arrived at Ussuri after fighting the battle of Kraevski, also helped to welcome the Americans. The British band struck up with “God Save the King.” The Americans were most pleased and surprised; the local inhabitants were somewhat stunned. Perhaps they had never heard the British and American anthems.
At any rate, the musical reception spurred on the weary heroes. They approached Ussuri with lighter hearts than they had known for some time.

At Ussuri –

The Americans were exuberant with the spirit of good fellowship which had overwhelmed them when they were met by the welcoming sounds of the 31st Infantry band and the greeting from the British contingent. In spite of the hardships they had endured, everything suddenly seemed right. When the rain ceased at noontime and the stillness of the atmosphere seemed to hush the possibility of further frustrations, the men of the 27th felt relaxed for the first time in many days.

Soon the marchers learned that the rumors which they had heard about the Japanese were basically true. The Japanese officers had indeed waited at Sviagino until the tracks were repaired in order that their own troops could travel to Ussuri in comparative comfort while the Americans had trudged for days through the muck and mire of that long hike. The joy of arrival was soon tempered by a great surge of angry indignation.
The American officers were concerned about the impression the bedraggled army would have upon its entrance into Ussuri. Men were ordered to spruce up. The doughboys paid little attention. Much grumbling and swearing were heard. IF their officers could be so outwitted by the Japanese, they were damned if they were going to do much to please them. One Yank commented: “We probably looked worse than we felt and there stood those damned grinning Japs all along the way.”[ix]
The Americans reached the Ussuri River at about 3 pm and established a campsite on open ground on the south bank of the river. As soon as the camp site was set there was a mad rush to jump into the river for bathing and washing clothing. Firstly, there was much water consumed by the dehydrated soldiers.
The final leg of the hike had been one of the cruelest ordeals. The men knew that their destination was close at hand and yet it took all their energies to reach it. This poem expressed how the men felt.
If
(With apologies to Kipling)
If you can hold your head up while the others
Are drooping theirs from marches and fatigue;
If you can drill in dust that clouds and smothers,
And still be fit to hike another league;
If you can stand the greasy food and dishes,
The long black nights, the lonesome road, the blues,
If you can choke back all the gloomy wishes
For home that seem to spring right from your shoes;
If you can laugh at sick call and the pill boys,
When all the other lads are checking in;
If you can kid and jolly all the kill-joys,
Whose faced long ago forgot to grin;
If at parade you stand fast at attention
When every muscle shrieks aloud with pain;
If you can grin and snicker at the mention
Of some bone play connected with your name;
If you succeed to keep your knees from knocking,
At the thoughts of all the bullets you may stop;
If you can do these things and really like ’em
You’ll be a regular soldier yet, old top.[x]

The shoes of most of the men were in a deplorable state. The thought of a swim was delighted, especially to relieve aching feet. “Of course we were cautioned not to drink the water but it is funny how the river went down after we all went in swimming.”[xi]

It did not take the hospital train long to fill up with twenty-five men in the worst physical or mental condition. They were taken back to the hospital.[xii]
In spite of the debility of some of the men, the Regimental Commander was pleased with the high caliber of endurance of most of his troops. The Commander is reported to have stated: “I took my troops through those awful swamps and never actually lost a single man. Yet, as soon as they got into camp they started to drop like flies.”[xiii]
At 6 pm, less than three hours after the troops arrived, orders were received from General Oi that the Americans were to remain at Ussuri until further orders. Apparently, the 27th Infantry had successfully completed an almost impossible mission much sooner than the Japanese had anticipated.
The troops were laid over for about a week. The mules as well as the men were in poor condition and needed attention. The doughboys had cleared the ground quite thoroughly. They had even buried dead bodies which strewed the site. In spite of everything, the new campsite was heaven compared to what the doughboys had endured during the previous week. The men began to sing, play games. They were thankful not to be pushing and pulling mules and wagons out of the Siberian mud. One day there was much excitement in camp when one of the men bought a small barrel from a farmer. He assumed that it was full of vodka. Soon he was surrounded by his buddies who were prepared to have a drinking spree. To their chagrin the barrel proved to be full of honey! The men subdued their disappointment by spreading their hardtack with the sweet, sticky contents.
The outwardly imperturbable spirit of the American doughboy on the first day seemed to astound The Russians, Japanese, British, Czecho-Slovaks and Chinese. All were amazed and puzzled that the Americans had been able to endure so much and still keep going. For weary as they were, the doughboys fought hunger and exhaustion and showed only relief to be out of the wilderness. More than one Wolfhound recalled this prayer, especially when they lay their weary heads down at Ussuri:

A Soldier’s Prayer

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my gun to keep;
Grant no other soldiers take
My socks or shoes before I wake.
Lord please guard me in my slumber
And keep this cot upon its lumber.
Let no peg or guy rope break,
Nor the tent blow down before I wake.
Grant no fire drills sound at night
And in the morning let me wake
Breathing scents of sirloin steak.
God protect me in my dreams
And make it better than it seems.
Grant the time may swiftly fly
When I myself may rest on high.
Deliver me from work and drills
And when I’m sick don’t feed me pills;
And should I hurt this hand of mine,
Don’t dab it o’er with iodine.
In a snowy, downy feather bed
There I long to rest my head,
Far away from all camp scenes,
And from the smell of pork and beans.
Take me back into the land
Where I can walk without a band.
Where no thrilling bugle blows,
And where the women wash the clothes.
~Amen[xiv]

In spite of fervent prayers, all requests were not answered. The men still slept in leaky pup tents. Candles were doled out; some retarded the drips in the tents by holding a lighted candle over wet spots. They found that the heat dried the canvas and helped to stop the drips. But water still seeped under the tents and men often slept in puddles. Raincoats were used as flaps for the tents. However, the men were so tired that they slept through everything. There were times when they awoke to find that the water below them had frozen. They were literally obliged to rip themselves out of their iced blankets.

Both British and American soldiers recalled meeting each other on the banks of the Ussuri and fraternizing amiably. Some of the Americans remembered that while they were eating their slum, the British were frying ham and brewing tea.
The doughboys were relieved to know that they would stay in one place, at least for a few days. It was good not to be out on the ‘road’ and in the rain. Rations were increased and improved. The soldiers were given many chores to keep them active. One of their duties was to bury a mule.
Via the grapevine the Americans had heard that more troops had landed in Vladivostok and that General Graves was now in Siberia.
Many a Yank felt that it was high time for this arrival.
The Commander-in-Chief had indeed landed at Vladivostok on Labor Day, September 2, 1918.
Sources:
[i]William C. Boggs, 27th Inf.
[ii]Clifford E. Strohm, Co. A, 27th Inf.
[iii]Clifford E. Strohm
[iv]Clifford E. Strohm; Nick Hochee, 27th Inf.
[v]George P. Billick, Co. A, 27th Inf.
[vi]Packard’s report
[vii]Priest’s Medical Report, WDNA
[viii]Henry C. Fry, Quartermaster Corps. Fry was not on the hike but got many details about it from those who took part.
[ix]Clifford E. Strohm
[x]Submitted by David G. Moore, Evacuation Hospital No. 17
[xi]Lawrence Nygard, Co. M, 27th Inf.
[xii]Priest’s Medical Report, WDNA
[xiii]Don Pequignot, Machine Gun Co., 27th Inf.
[xiv]Supplied by several enlisted men

The Siberian Sojourn Volume II- Chapter 19

November 6, 2010 Leave a comment

The Siberian Sojourn Volume II- Chapter 19

The Battle of Kraevski

The Allies had occupied positions on the line for the purpose of protecting the concentration of the Oi Division between Sviyagino and Spasskoe. The English and French battalions, some Czecho-Slovak troops and Kalmikov’s detachment were under the command of French Lt. Colonel Pichon. The enemy, 5000 strong, gradually had advanced toward these Allied first lines. Kalmikov’s unit, which had been on the right wing on the 20th, was surrounded by the enemy. After a great effort, the Cossacks managed an escape in the direction of the railway. The enemy, encouraged by this drive, came closer to the Allied lines. Again they managed to drive the Allies back.

During the predicament Pichon told Ward: “It is bad. Kalmikov and the Cossacks are in the high point in touch with us. The Czecho-Slovak 5th Battalion is on the right guarding the road to Sviyagino yet we do not know where the enemy is lurking.”
When Pichon learned that numbers of the enemy had penetrated the wide spaces between the sentries, he realized it must have taken a concentrated effort to perform this feat. While most of the Allied troops slept in camps the usual sentries had been posted but they were too widely spaced to note that the “slippery” Bolsheviks were sneaking between them through the grass in the dead of night. When the alarm finally been sounded Kalmikov discovered that about thirty of his men were already dead or wounded. The intruders had also captured his machine guns.
When this new reached General Oi, the latter decided to go to Pichon’s assistance without waiting for a planned concentration of the troops at Sviyangino. He gave orders for the advance of the battalion to the first line. Colonel Inagaki took command at that location.
The Combat of Kraeviski, as it was officially designated by the Japanese, began on August 23, 1918._ On that day, at 12:30 pm, Otani sent a secret message to Styer. It stated that the army would commence its movements on August 27th and would attack the enemy on the 28th. It was then that the commanding officer of the AEFS was directed to have the American troops arrive at Sviyagino no later than the morning of the 26th to familiarize themselves with the terrain before the battle of the 28th started. Colonel Morrow was asked to consult with Otani that afternoon at 4 pm regarding railroad cars and other matters. Styer went to work on the arrangements. On the afternoon of the 23rd he made this memorandum: “We have at present 24 cars and still need 82. . .three passenger cars, two second class and three locomotives. The Station Master at Vladivostok has already received the order for 82 cars, but up to now we have not received them. The Regiment will be entirely ready to leave when the cars, passenger coaches and locomotives mentioned above shall have been received.”
That same night Otani received another secret message from Oi and advised Styer that the Commander of the Japanese division at the front had given him a resume of the situation regarding the enemy. The 12th Division was to move with a large force. Oi was to remain in Vladivostok. Only General Inagaki and his aids-de-camp Colonel Hyari and Major Hasinuma were to leave at 10 pm that day “to transport the American Army we will try to send quickly tomorrow if you agree. The Commander-in-Chief regrets exceedingly that this battle will be so soon, contrary to our plans. The Commander-in-Chief is very sorry. Consequently, the Commander-in-Chief believes you will understand our reason for changing our plan.”
It was in accordance with these Japanese instructions that the American Command prepared to move three trains requested. In addition, the following were made ready: ten day’s additional field rations, 5,000,000 of small ammunition (in addition to that carried by the soldiers), combat wagons and a field bakery with personnel. Detachments guarding the railway were directed to join the regiment for duty.
Because of the change in plans, the Japanese requested that the Americans go to the front at once. Thus it was that the part of the 27th Infantry not already on its way to Sviyagino entrained and left Vladivostok with Morrow on the evening of the 24th. General Oi also ordered the detachments from Spasskoe to go to Sviyangino. These various forces reached the front after the Combat of Kraevski was over and the enemy was in retreat northward.
When one considers the fact that Styer was informed shortly after noon on the 23rd and Ward was not notified until late that night one must conclude that the Japanese had full intention of attacking before the other Allies could reach their appointed destination. However, the British Colonel was unaware of this. Upon receipt of word from Oi he had set his watch for 1 am. Inagaki was due at 2 am and the Japanese were supposed to start the attack at 3 am. Dukoveskoie was the site this attack. It was but four miles away. The British were destined to be among those in reserve.
Back at camp Colonel Ward began to pace the field at precisely 1 am. He was and heard no activity. At 1:45 he deemed it necessary to rouse the Japanese who were to meet him at 2 am before the attack for 3 am. The Japanese officers seemed unmoved. He explained the impossibility of rousing all the detachments and completing a four mile march in the night in a matter of minutes. The Czecho-Slovaks were asleep and the Cossacks were curled up with their horses, deaf to any words of warning. In spite of his tensions, Ward felt the incredibility of it all. “What a lunatic war this is.”
But to Ward orders were orders. He assembled his men and Captain Clark had the 25th Middlesex, transport and all, ready to march twenty-five minutes after orders were given. The British advanced along the railway. A mile and a half alo remonition concerning the Japanese had been well founded. He recalled Balsaar’s warnings. Still it was galling after getting the British troops out to learn that they were not to take part in the battle. But the situation might change. Ward instructed Capt. Bath to move forward and to support him if necessary.
Other troops had been issued directives. The Japanese field and heavy artillery and the mountain guns of the Czecho-Slovaks near the railroad bridge of Dukoveskoie were to prepare to attack. The second company of engineers accompanied this artillery as did a Czecho-Slovak battalion which had been guarding the railroad station at Sviyagino and also the 5th Czech Regiment, less one battalion. This left the remaining British, French and Japanese troops and Kalmikov’s detachment to constitute the general reserve which had been ordered to assemble at 3 am.
To the north of Dukoveskoie the three battalions of the Japanese infantry under Brigadier Commander Mihara had constituted the main early attacking force on the first line. After the infantry attack began the enemy was pushed back to the stream east of Dukoveskoie. This occurred at dawn at a time when all of the Allied forces were advancing. The river was crossed north of Dukoveskoie and a hand-to-hand engagement took place.
The Japanese reported: “The Japanese troops rushed forward without loss of time and drove back the enemy. . .with the help of hand grenades. At this moment Captain Consmi met a glorious death, being hit by an enemy grenade.”
At the spot where the British had been ordered to meet for a rendezvous, Ward was busy or heard but Ward gave the order to his men to load and to be prepared for action. At that moment one of his men discharged his rifle.
Padley recalled the incident well. “It was before daybreak and we were at the outskirts of the village of Dukoveskoie when the rifle was discharged. In his book Ward reports a second shot but I know positively there was no second shot. It was just that one. The Colonel who had a pretty good platform voice could have been heard a half mile away, ‘Who’s the B…….. foot that did that?’ “
Within half a minute the night calm was broken by the firing of hundreds of rifles. The battle had begun. The enemy attacked Dukoveskoie from the west side of the tracks.
During a lull, Ward took his bearings. His area had been plowed by shells from end to end. The first one had piched just under a peasant’s cottage. The cottage and its occupants were destroyed. A heavy purple pall hung over everything. Had the British been on that particular spot they would have suffered a similar fate.
In the growing light, with the aid of his glasses, Ward was able to make out the scheme of advance. He saw a continuous line from one mile on the left of the railway extending for some miles to the right. A space of about 100 yards on each side of the line was unoccupied.
It is doubtful if the Bolsheviks were aware that such an Allied army was now in Siberia. There was much fear among the partisans and not too much resistance. Those who could, simply made off. When the attack was mounted the Bolshevik armored train came into view. There was some machine gun fire from the Allied side.
The British had heard that the Japanese took no prisoners. The latter had bayoneted the engine driver, who, rumor had it, had been pressed into service.
By 8 am some of the first line troops had reached the hill to the south of Kraevski and were assembled. “The troops of the Japanese infantry company sent to cut the retreat from Kraevski suffered under a violent fire from an armored train while they were crossing marshy ground. Forty men were put out of action, but the company pressed on and cut the railroad, capturing two armored trains. The enemy, thus broken, retired. The Allied armies took up the pursuit of them which was pressed on the 25th.”
Padley remarked that he felt Ward’s description in the latter’s book read more like a comic opera than a true account of the battle. The Colonel described how he went prancing along the track taking a pot shot “with Lance-Corporal’s rifle.” The lieutenant recalled that Ward had several hundred men moving en masse down a railroad track. “We made a pretty good target, however poor the gunnery,” he stated.
“Therefore Dwight and I took it upon ourselves to put the men in extended order on either side of the track. We knew it was much safer that way although moving through the muskeg retarded our speed. The Colonel with a few bold spirits, including Captain Clark, who should have known better, continued on down the track. The next day we were reprimanded for re-forming the men. Perhaps we should have taken the high road and let the enemy gunners get their bag.”_
“There, at the side of the road,” Padley recalled, “was a man with a coil of wire, telephone wire perhaps, turned around his arm. He was prone on the track in his blood soaked shirt. Around the armored truck were a dozen other corpses, dead some ten hours. Their glassy eyes stared into the sun. The whole thing was beastly. I wish I could erase it from my memory.”
A resume of the battle indicated that the enemy had 8,000 men. He left 300 dead on the battlefield. The total dead and wounded of the Japanese forces was estimated at 150. Losses of the Allied troops were not high but no detailed report of them had been received just after the battle. The principal booty consisted of two armored trains, two field guns, four machine guns, ten kilometers of telegraph wire plus a quantity of rifles, ammunition, etc.
By the evening of the 26th the Allies reached their objective – the hill. The enemy was retreating toward Ussuri Station. The Allied troops in the vicinity of the railway also proceeded toward Ussuri.
Later a communique from Gen. Nakajima to General Headquarters in Vladivostok stated that the Japanese had obtained information from prisoners. “Among three of them, two were farmers from around Ussuri Station and the third one was on his way. All three had been forcibly drafted. During the combat at Kraevski they deserted as soon as they saw Japanese troops. The following is their statement: (a) The draft of men between 18 and 20 was carried out in the Ussuri region on the 1st of August. These men were enlisted under the threat of death if they refused. (b) Equipment – the Bolsheviki sent them to Iman and gave them arms, etc. These prisoners were enrolled in the 1st Company of the 6th Peasant Battalion. Every man in this company had a Russian rifle and from 100 to 120 rounds of ammunition. (c) Re the Combat of Kraevski – the commander-in-chief of the Maritime Province is Sakovitch. The troops around Kraevski were under the command of a Czech named Rinder. The troops which participated in this action consisted of seven or eight battalions, each company having a machine gun. The battalion to which these prisoners belonged was stationed at Antonovka; it had four pieces of artillery. The Bolsheviki were said to have eight armored trains, five of which had been seen by these prisoners; two trains have been captured by the Japanese. They saw one or two aeroplanes over Ussuri Station. (d) The monthly pay of the soldier according to rule is 150 rubles per month, but they received on 17 rubles. The drafted men are forced to fight under threat of death. The rumor regarding the arrival of Allied troops which had been current for a long time was verified only after the Combat of Kraevski.”

Railroad employees along the line were interrogated as to the strength of the retreating enemy. On August 26th they reported that there were some 4,000 infantry, two squadrons of cavalry and 19 pieces of artillery. There were also some armored trains and ammunition cars. During his retreat the enemy was said to be destroying the railroad and pillaging widely. He continued retreating until the 27th. On that date the Japanese infantry entered Ussuri Station where it immediately occupied the railway bridge which was not yet destroyed. The railway bridges that were destroyed by the enemy included one north of Kraevski, one north of Shmakovka and the Kaoul bridge. It was estimated that the work of repairing these bridges would require several days.

According to a Russian who had talked to the enemy, the latter had no information until August 27th of the existence of a Japanese army at the front. He stated that “The Bolsheviks were greatly surprised by the attack of the Allied army and his retreat was carried out in indescribable disorder.”
Toward the end of August there was a great deal of activity all along the line. Echelon No. 1 of the Chinese troops arrived at Nikolsk on the 25th and left for Evguenievka on the 26th. Echelon No. 2 was expected to follow a day later. Echelon No. 3 had arrived at Harbin by the 26th and Nos. 4 and 5 were en route thereto. The Allied commander was expected to give the Chinese echelons necessary orders at the Nikolsk Station.
Two American echelons, two Japanese and two of Czecho-Slovaks with automobiles had left Vladivostok on the 25th. There were also orders to send four additional Japanese echelons.
At Evaguenievka there were four locomotives. One was said to be filled with Kalmikov troops, two with Japanese and one with Americans.
Although there was no unusual delay with regard to trains, there was considerable concern to keep them moving. Part of this concern was caused by a strike at one of the mines. The reserve supply of coal for the railroad was 1,800,000 poods_ as of August 26th. As the requirements were estimated at 30,000 poods per day, there was some concern as to the duration of the strike.
More sidings were deemed necessary at various stations so that war material could be adequately handled.
It seemed to observers that the whole of Russia’s people was anxious to use the railroads in all directions.
Appendix #21, translated for General Headquarters, Vladivostok

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, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Buckles

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.

A Find! Mail To the American Expeditionary Forces in Siberia: (1918-1920)

October 19, 2010 10 comments
  • (A Personal Note: Memorial Day May 25, 2009)

This postal history (military history) research effort to find mail from veterans who served in Siberia, and the subsequent article was originally reprinted in 1963, as written by Edith M. Faulstich. (If you find typos or mistakes please take this blog with a gentle hand and understanding of the volume of work before you. We are human, not a machine trying to preserve her type written work).

As a result of this previously published article, “A Find!” and many years of Edith (Fisher) Faulstich’s personal, unwavering research, time and money, there was an eventual writing of the Siberian Sojourn, but it happened after she passed away from cancer.

Citation: Faulstich, Edith M. The Siberian Sojourn. [Yonkers, N.Y.]: Faulstich, 1974-1977.

There were to be four books, originally. But time ran out, and my grandmother passed away in 1972. Book One and Book Two were edited by my father and uncle as the completion of these two books was the final wish from their mother, or “Dee,” as many knew her.

The Siberian Sojourn is and was her life’s work. And, I refuse to let that work die and become buried in some trunk.

Her book, The Siberian Sojourn was only limitedly published once and was later mailed to the direct family members of the A.E.F. veterans she worked with, after her passing in 1972.

I am 50 plus years old. And, again I state that I becoming acutely aware of the passing of time, the passing of entire generations since WWI, and the new generations who knew not of her, her work, her efforts and contributions nor our WWI A.E.F veterans who were forgotten in Siberia from 1918-1920.

Therefore today, on Memorial Day 2009, some 91 years after the A.E.F Siberian Campaign, I am posting my grandmother’s work on the Internet as a living body of her work, so that it is not lost in time, and so that is does not ever get seen nor read… because it too became buried in some old trunk in a basement or attic somewhere, or even worse becomes discarded or burned like so many of the covers she mentioned in the following article, about finding the old letters from Siberia.

It is my personal hope and wish that with the advent of modern technology, social media groups, Facebook, Twitter, and Web 2.0 that her painstakingly hand typed research, work and some of her articles will endure and develop a life of their own and organically grow outward to reach others.

It is my personal hope and wish that Veterans, their families, military historians and postal historians may benefit from the body of knowledge garnered from her life’s work (without trying to turn a profit from it).

All I ask, is that you please cite her work appropriately and give her what she and the Veterans are due which your profoundly deep and unending respect. I and many loved my Nanna dearly. Mine are of the highest and utmost best intentions in her behalf. I hope others will see this effort in the same light.

And finally, as a Veteran myself, I understand all too well the value and personal time taken from anyone who sits down to write and mail a letter to anyone, but more importantly to a soldier currently serving.

And, yes, I am of the opinion that even today this thing called “letter writing” is still very important in our very modern world. Why might you ask? Well…

1) A hand written letter lives on in between the days and days of no news from home, it ties us together, keeps one going, it can be reread, folded up and taken out again, carried in a pocket into the field and read for strength and encouragement and savored like home cooking. It can make a difference in the quality of the life of a soldier in the field.

2) And, then such letters become our printed living history from the eyes of the soldier in the field with their boots on the ground and with a perspective which can endure for generations so that we may not ever forget them, their sacrifices for us…even some 91 years later.

And, now on to my grandmothers original article, “A Find!
Mail To the American Expeditionary Forces in Siberia; 1918-1920
(Citation: Faulstich, Edith M. A Find. [Yonkers, N.Y.]: Faulstich, 1960-1963)
————————————————————————
A Find!

Mail To the American Expeditionary Forces (A.E.F.)
in Siberia; 1918-1920Written By: Edith M. Faulstich (Fisher)
(Retyped below as it was originally reprinted by the
Twenty-ninth American Philatelic Congress Yearbook, 1963)This article represents a study of mail sent to a soldier serving in the Siberian Campaign. However a brief background seems to be indicated by way of an introduction.In 1918 the Allies were urging the United States to send forces into Siberia. President Woodrow Wilson did not acquiesce until the summer of that year. In July, 1981, he wrote his Aide de Memoire and had Secretary of State Newton D. Baker give Major William S. Graves his outline of policy to be followed in Siberia. General Graves. then stationed in California, was instructed to meet Baker in Kansas City to receive the orders.

By August 1918, the first American troops landed in Vladivostok. They were not alone. England, France, Canada, Italy and Japan also officially sent troops in one great allied effort. Belgians, Serbians. Arabs and Chinese were also in evidence. And there were hordes of Austrian, Hungarian and German prisoners-of-war who had been released after the November 1917 revolution. In addition, there were some 100,000 Czehoslovakians in Siberia. They were ostensibly our reason for intervention. Unhappy about with their association with the Central Powers, these Czechoslovakian had defected on the Russian front and had hoped to assist the Allies.

According to President Wilson who sent instructions to General Graves, who was placed in command of the troops in Siberia, we were to help the Czech troops
reach Vladivostok safely; were to maintain the railways to keep our stores of stocks in Russia on the move and were to assist the Russians. But we
were, in no circumstances to interfere in the political problems of the Russians. All of this was about three months before the signing of the the Armistice of World War I on November 11, 1918. After that date conditions almost changed as rapidly
did the various governments in power in Russia.

With the declaration of peace the Czechs were now anxious to get home. Their exodus was hindered by the Bolsheviks and by the many released Austrian and German prisoners who did not look favorably on this group of hardy soldiers who had defected to the Allies. In addition, the Japanese, who had sent many times the troops they had promised to send to Siberia were causing as much disturbance as possible. They pretended to cooperate but managed to play one faction against the other in an effort to realize their fond hope nf an expanded empire. As if this were not sufficiently confusing, the Allies themselves did not not agree in the unified reason for intervention! The British and French sought action to wipe out the Bolsheviks, but the Americans under Graves had strict orders to maintain a hands-ff policy in internal Russian affairs. Graves was a West Pointer who had been indoctinated with the fact that orders were orders to the end of the line, and so he endeavoured to keep clear of any involvement.

At this period the entire world was pretty much chaos and all kinds of rumors drifted across the world to far off Siberia. The men heard that their brothers were being shipped back home, from France as fast as possible, but in Siberia they were told to prepare for a long hard winter. Christmas, 1918, came and went, and they still received no orders to go home, Many of them froze in that 1919 winter and before too long the first anniversary of the Armistice was being celebrated everywhere except in the barracks of the A.E.F.

(page 2 of original reprinted article from 1963)

in Siberia. In 1919 Christmas came again and another hard winter set in. It spent its vengeance from Lake Baikal to Vladivostok. It was not until April 1902 that the last found themselves on their way back to home and loved ones.

During this long wait the men had been concerned with political and military aspects of the intervention; perhaps they were also interested in what new maps were being made and what new countries were born; perhaps too they were wondering daily when they it would get home, but during the twenty months that many of the men stayed in Siberia they had one paramount thought. Were there letters from home? When would they come? How would they come? Mail call was a a big moment in life of every soldier that slept on a cement floor with winds raging and the mercury around 50 degrees below zero most of the time. Mail, mail. It was the one bright spot along with vodka, to nearly every soldier who lived in the far country.

Most collectors realize mail from Siberia is considered scarce, but mail to Siberia, often overlooked by the postal historian, is perhaps even harder to find. There are no special military military markings to indicating the campaign scene but no one should say they are not of interest. Few , soldiers carried their mail back the States with them. As a matter-of—fact they were often told to unload vervthinng but essentiails, so the collecting of them provides a treasure hunt for the collector.

It is hoped that this article may ,stimulate more collecttors to search for mail to the mystery campaign when the American Expeditionary Forces served in Siberia.

Postal historians have long urged stamp collectors to leave the stamp on the cover to study the cover and its postmark; to know how the letter travelled;
to ascertain if t he address was a prominent person, and if a letter exists to investigate the possibility of a the pictorial or an officially imprinted letterhead. Finallv. they are told to see if someone of fame has signed the letter and whether or not it is a holograph.

Sometimes it is wise to go even further.

Collectors are wont to restrict themselves to a phase of a subject that
interests them and to overlook the importance associated material, or of some as yet unrecognized aspect, that may be of postal interest.

Mail to Siberia is a striking example. It has pointed out time and again that such mail is extremely difficult ot find, but of no special philatelic value. The “hard to find” part seem logical to me. hat soldier in all the world, I thought, would save his mail and bring it back with him to the States? No such covers had come to my attendtion but I was consoled by those specialist who stated that such mail was not too important. They said that no agency postmarks would be on such covers, nor would thre be any censor marks. It has been reported that no mail ever going to Siberia was ever censored. Therefore the consensus of opinion was that such covers would have no significance in relation to postal history. But, I was curious, and hoped one day to find covers addressed to members of the AEV in Siberia.

In the course of my search for first-hand information over a period of years, I had occassion to write to the late Kenneth Roberts, the historian whose novels have stirred so many of us. He was most helpful with information but did not have a single cover to or from Siberia. However, he suggested a Mr. Ralph Baggs might be able to help me. I lost no time in writing to Mr. Baggs, a former Lieutenant in Siberian A. E. F., and a correspondence of several years ensued. He, too had nothing but memories and one lone envelope.

Nevertheless, through the years our association became friendly and when he retired to his New England home my husband and I were invited for a visit.

(Page 3 of original reprinted article from 1963)


(Caption under image)

This article is based on the mail to Lt. Ralph Baggs. He is shown here in a photo (left) with a “Russian Friend.” At the right he is seen with a group that points up the international aspect of the campaign. The photograph was taken at General Lovsoff’s headquarters in the Hotel Select. Chita, Siberia. Included in the group are the General (who was chief of staff of Semenoff’s army), Mme. Lovsoff, two English officers, two Belgian officers and an Arab prince who was serving as a
Major in the Russian Forces. Baggs is at the extreme left in the picture.

We had a most enjoyable time , were fascinated by his stories of happenings in the land of ice and snow but our knowledge of postal history was not enriched. On another visit, a year of so later, I asked him shamefacedly if he wouldn’t search the house for some Siberian memoirs. “Surely, you must have something,” I said.

“Not a darned thing, ” he replied in characteristic style, “except maybe in the cellar-if I ever get to it and the thing open, there might be some of my notes in an older trunk down there.

A trunk!?

My hear leaped, and I immediately recalled tales of finds in old attics and barns.
Mr. Baggs ac cured me, however, that there would be no great find, if there was anything at all. He explained that this was an old trunk which was full of souvenirs and notes that he had acquired but that there would be nothing at all written by him. – He had been unmarried when he served in Siberia and had no idea what had happened to letters he had sent to friends. “Burned,” I guess he said and laughed. But it was no laughing matter to me. Fire had all to often claimed mail that collectors would have cherished. Nevertheless, I encouraged him to have a look. “Well,” he said, “Maybe next time you come up”.

I waited a decorous few months before I requested another visit with him, “Come up as soon as you can” he said on the telephone. “We are always glad to see you.”
“And the trunk”. I asked, “may we look at it this time?”

His, “We’ll See” did not sound to encouraging. However. when I arrived at his lovely old farmhouse it was during a cloudburst and he said he said upon greeting
me, “It‘s too nasty to sit on the porch today. Come on down into the cellar. A rainy day is a good time to look at old trunks.”

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At last, I thought, thrilling with delight and anticipation but trying to subdue too much optimism. Mr. Baggs remarked, as we descended the stairs, that when the floods played havoc the year before they had ruined many things. “Maybe the old trunk is ruined too.” he said discouragingly.
We spoke about it a bit and finally located the object of our search and
pulled it out under the light – I saw immediately that it was rust with age. After considerable banging and nudging the lid finally sprang open. Great heaps of miscellaneous material including letters, photos, college news, and clips popped out like the contents of a a jack-in-the-box. I don’t believe they had seen light of day since Mr. Baggs returned from Siberia in 1919.

It took hours of sorting to separate the letters from the souvenirs and photos and then to disentangle the Siberian letters from the others. Finally this was accomplished and I was offered all if the Siberian material.

There was not a single cover letter from Siberia, but the ones I use as reference in this To Siberia Article, were all from this one find. How glad I am that I did not stop the study of postmarks from Siberia., or that I did not sneer at mail sent to the campaign. Had I, I would not have gone home that night with my arms full of mail to a man who had served with the expedition. Much has been learned from this find which otherwise have been lost.

Like many another collector. I too believed, as mentioned above, that mail to Siberia did not compare to the veritable wealth of interest one could find in mail from there; but the more I studied the Bagg’s covers, the more I began to wonder – about this. Finally I became convinced that they are an important factor that should not be overlooked when one studies the aspects and postal history of the A.E.F in Siberia.

After considerable time and study, I established preliminary categories of this mail, which others may use as a guide if they wish, when they too discover mail written to Siberia. Bear in mind, however, that this is based solely on letters
to one man. As other covers are located, the gaps may one day closed. Such is the joy of research. Before turning to the mail itself, it may be of interest to some of the varying reports on to the receipt of mail.

HOW THE MAIL WAS TRANSPORTED

There were two supply boats which operated between United States and Vladivostok each month. Service started shortly after the arrival of the American troops in
Siberia and continued to in March 1920. Mail was also received from the United
States by other means. Some mail went to Japan where it arrived on regular mail
steamers and was sent on from there. Some left San Francisco in mail sacks which were not opened again until arrival at Vladivostok. All mail for the A.E.F. in Siberia was handled through the A.E.F. post office.

Mail from all over the U.S was directed to San Francisco for forwarding. Hence neither postmark nor stamp has any Siberian identity.

Kenneth Roberts wrote that he continually damned the security of mail and especially the postal clerks who persisted in sending to North Russia a large part of his letters and packages which were clearly addressed to him., c/o A.E.F. Siberia.

“The postal clerks would sit on their beds, spread blankets on upended locker trunks and play interminable games of Cards,” he wrote. He explained that for a long time, to make matters still more difficult, the mail that went to North Russia was returned from there to the United States and and eventually was sent back again to Siberia! No wonder he damned the service. He told me of one specific occasion when he received a pair of field boots from
(Page 5)

Mrs. Roberts, about a month before he returned home. They had taken such a three way trip and finally reached him with some twine around them and just enough of the wrapping left to hold his name.On the other hand, Mrs. Ralph Fletcher writes that her husband, who was personnel Adjunct of the 31st infantry, censored the outgoing mails and does not recall that there was any difficulty with the mails that came from the United States. The transport service in the Pacific was quite regular, according to this source.

Baggs like Roberts, recalls difficulties in the receipt of mail. On one occasion he was required to stop on of the Trans-Siberian trains to uncover a spy suspect in China.

He came across a large package of Christmas mail addressed to him on the train. “Had I not been on that particular mission,” he said, my yuletide greetings would no doubt have landed thousands of miles away.” (see figure 9)

P.J. O’Dea tells me that. where he was stationed at Selenga, Siberia, he saw much of the mail which came to the Company office he had charge of its distribution. “I would dump the sacks and make de1ivery to the bovs,” he advised. The Army had established a courier car which operated on the Russian railroad, according to O‘Dea. It went through from Vladivostok about once a week. There was usually an enlisted man in charge on the courier car and he would be met at the railway srations along the line by another enlisted man to take off the mail and other parcels which had been sent through on the car.

“As for myself,”’ 0‘Dea says. “I was always anxiously awaiting the mails as once in awhile a letter would come through from a little thatched cottage in the hills of Eastern Clare County, Ireland, from my Mother and Dad. Of course I was interested in seeing letters come to the other boys———from the Kentucky Hills, from the Bronx. from Texas or Florida, from little obscure towns all across the American continent.

Like Baggs and Roberts O’Dea tells a story of a much travelled letter. “I recall,” he says, “a letter to a corporal in our outfit. It took one year to reach him. He had served in France, reenlisted for a year and went to Siberia. This particular letter was sent to France, returned to the U.S., forwarded to a few military bases and finally reached him in a mail sack at Selenga.”

Others tell similar stories. And, there are some sad stories about the mail which went to Siberia such as: “I recently burned all the letters after over 40 years, because I am moving in with my daughter and need to save space” and “I wish I knew you were interested, I threw my Siberian stuff out about a year ago” and “I had a big box full but they must have been thrown out; I can’t find them” These are the sad stories that every postal historian must listen to, and then weep. And, they are the reason it seem neccessay to set down, now, anything we know before the letters that exist are scattered to the four winds in the form of ashes.

CATEGORIES

In the following categories, I have used what weems to me to be suitable initials to indicate the type of mail. For example:

FTS- Indicates that this mail is in the Forerunnners To the Siberian Campaign mail.

TS-— Indicates that this mail was directed To Siberia to those who participated in the campaign.

FTS-Forerunners to Siberia:
Forerunner in any field are always of interest to the postal historian as they itten divulge stifle intert-ting phase that might otherwise be overlooked. Forerunner- to the Siberian Campaign are no exception. As there would doubtless be wide diversification in this phase, depending on where a service man had

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been stationed, it vouId be difficult to form any specific categories. Therefore only one guide type will be given here and collectors may simply include therein any item which may be considered forerunners. As an example, I mention two items in the Baggs Find which fall into this group.
These letters were mailed to him while he was being processed for his journey to Siberia. This started while he was at Camp Meade, Maryland. From there he was called to Washington D. C. The first forerunner shows a letter addressed to him and received by him at Camp. The second was addressed to him there but was forwarded to Washington D. C. where he acquired it about the same time he received his orders to embark for California and subsequently for Siberia.
(See Figure 2)

(Page 7)MAIL TO THE MEN IN THE SIBERIAN CAMPAIGN

TS-1 Mail addressed to the St. Francis Hotel. San Francisco, California, With a two line purple handstamp reading: Hotel Fairmont/San Francisco Ca.

( See Figure 3)

Apparently the men, ready to leave for Siberia had informed their friends that they would be staying at the St. Francis; hence, the mail listed in this category is addressed there. However, plans were obviously changed and men stayed at Hotel Fairmont instead. The handstamp seems to have been used to facilitate forwaring of the mail.Fig. 3. Examples of TS-1 and a categories.

(Page 8)The earliest date in this category is August 15th, 1918. It is from Lake Placid Club. N. Y. The arrival date at San Francisco was August 20th, 1918. The latest
dare in this category was August 26th, 1918 from Chicago, Ill. Arrival date is
August 29th, 1919.Covers in this category emanate from Washington D. C. Ithaca. New York; New York City; Atlantic City, New Jersev: Chicago, Ill. and Lake Placid Club, N.Y.All covers have both the postmark of the city of origin and the San Francisco handstamp on the front. This would lead us to believe that the mail went to the St. Francis and was sent back to San Francisco post office where it received the handstamp before going out again, this time to the Hotel Fairmont. It also seems safe to atssume that the handstamp used to readdress the mail to the Hoel Fairmont was applied by a clerk at the St. Francis.

Fig. 4. Examples of TS-2 and 2A Categories.

(Page 9)TS-1A- Mail identical to category TS-1, except with an additional additional purple handstamp ‘HOLD’ (See Fig. 3)

One cover, from Chicago, dated August 18, 1918, has an additional handstamp in purple reading “Hold”. Why this particular handstamp was applied is not clear, especially as it appears on the cover with the latest date in the category. Had it been applied to the earliest cover we might have assumed that the letter arrived before the addressie.

TS-2- Mail addrssed directly to the Hotel Fairmont, San Francisco, Cal. (See figure 4)

In this category we have mail addressed directly to the Hotel Fairmont. It would ????

: Lt. Baggs had notified his friends that he was staying there instead of at the St. Francis and had urged them to write him again directly, to save time, so that that he would receive mail before he left the U.S.Fig. 3. Examples of TS-3 and 3A categories.

(Page 10)

The only cover so addressed is dated August 27, 1918 and is from Chicago, IL.

It may be of interest to call attention to the fact that this cover shows use of our 2 cent stamped envelope with the addition of a one cent adhesive to make up the first class rate. Also, as the corner card indicates, the letter is from the Lieutenant’s father. He wishes him vell before he leaves.

TS-2A- Mail addressed to Hotel Fairmont, San Francisco, Cal., via Special Delievery. With forwarding to the A. E. F . Siberia. (See Fig. 4)

Special delivery, which hastened this cover to the departing Lt.Baggs, is from Chicago. It left there on August 30th. However, the Transport Sheridan was already on the high seas carrying the addresse to Siberia when the letter reached California. Hence, it was forwarded to the Lieutenant there.

TS-3- Mail addressed to the A.E.F. Siberia, c/o Intelligence Officer, Western Dept., San Francisco, Cal. Without any forwarding indication to Siberia. (there is some slight variation in the addressing, but most is as above)


(See Fig. 5)
Any mail to any service man addressed as above, should fall in this category.

Naturally the mail would differ depending on the branch of service in which the soldier was serving. There are more covers in this group than other.The earliest date is August 20th, 1918, THe lates is March 21, 1919. Most interesting is the fact that of the 23 covers in this category, there are 13 which have a penciled notation indicating the date they were received in Siberia. They are listed as a basis for study of the time taken from date of sending to date of receipt.

Date Postmarked From Date Rec’d Approximate Time Elapsed

August 22. 1918 N.Y. Nov.5.1918 Ten and 1/2 Weeks
Oct. 3 Buffalo,N.Y. Nov.5 Four and 1/2 Weeks
Nov. 25 N.Y. Jan. 21, 1919 Eight Weeks —
Dee. 5 N. Y. Feb. 2 Eight Weeks +
Dec. 5 (again) N.Y. Feb.2 (again) Eight Weeks +
Dec. 12 N.Y. Feb.16 Nine Weeks +
Dec. 22 N.Y. Feb.16 (again) Eight Veeks
Dec. 23 N Y. Feb. 16 (again) Eight Weeks —
Jan. 6, 1919 N.Y. Feb.16 (again) Six Weeks —
Jan. 27 N.Y. March 11 Six Weeks +
Feb. 9 N.Y. April 1 Seven Weeks +
Feb. 10 Wash. D. C. April 24 Ten Weeks +
Feb. 13 N.Y. April 1 Seven Weeks —
Feb. 5 N.Y. April 24 Eight Weeks ÷
March 21, 1919 N.Y. April 24 Five Weeks —

Distinguising characteristics of some of the letters are:

1) A September 7th letter was origionally addressed from from New York to the Lieutenant in Washington D.C., where he received his orders’ it was forwared.

2) A September 11th letter, also from Washington, D.C. shows use of an envelope with a Navy Dept./Bureau of Construction and Repair./Official Business corner card is rulled out as is the penalty indciation over which a three cent stamp has been placed.

3) An 0ctober 1st letter, is from a Corporal at Carlstrom Field, Florida and has a Carlstrom Branch Cancellation.

TS-3A- I Mail From Europe (See Fig. 5)

The exceptional cover shown in this category was addressed to the Lieutenant from the A.E.F. in France on Au 10, 1918. It went to his address in New (Page 11) York. Before leaving France the cover received the AEF postmark there and French censor mark, When it reached New York it was forwarded to the addresse in the
A.E.F. Siberia. There is also a backstamp at New York dated Sept. 2, 1918.Fig. 6. Examples of TS-4, 4A and 4B categories.

(Page 12)TS-4– Mail addressed to the A. E. F. Siberia c/o Intelligence Officer, Western Department, San Francisco, Cal. ( or similarly addressed) with part of the address ruled out and the location point of the addresse written in, usualy with bliu pencil. (See Fig. 6)

Here again the rank and branch may differ, but the type would he the same for for any mail similarly addressed.

The earliest date in this group is Aug. 22, 1918; the latest, Nov. 21. 1918.

Letters emante from from New York City; Chicago. Ill.; Provincetown. Mass.;
Providence, Rhode Island and 5t. Paul, Minn.

Again in this category we have enough covers to permit us to study the time which elapsed between the sending and the receiving of mail. The list is:

Date Postmarked From Date Red’d Time Elapsed

Aug 22, 1918 New York City Nov.8 1918 Eleven Weeks
Ott. 24th Chicago, IL Dec. 20 Nine Weeks+
Oct. 29th Provincetown,Mass. Dec. 3O Nine Weeks-
Nov. 9th New York City Dec. 30 Seven Weeks +
Nov. 11th Chicago, IL Dec. 28 Seven Weeks —
Nov. 13th Providence, R.I. Dec. 28 Six Weeks +
Nov. 19th St. Paul. Minn Dec. 28 Five Weeks+
Nov. 21st New York City Jan.7, 1919 Seven Weeks —

TS-4A- Cover with censor label and two censor markings. (See Fig 6)

You may remember that we mentioned at the beginning of this article, that the psotal historians were urged to look beyond the obvious in the hope of finding unusual information. We hav a striking example of the result of this in the cover that falls into this category.

It has been stated that no mail going to Siberia was ever censored. Yet we see that this cover was very definitely so treated. It has both the censor labe-strip, which resealed the envelope, With “Opened By Censor” and two circular purple handstamps on the back.

So far there is no explanation to why this one leter was censored. It especially gives us pause to wonder as the letter was addressed to an officer, and to an officer in the Intelligenec Department, at that. He would be the last person in the world who would have his mail censored.

Fig 7. Example of TS-5 category.
(Page 13)

TS-4B- With a “Via New York Post Office” on the cover (See Fig 6) or any other unusual directive.

Although the “Via New York Post Office” was simply written on this cover, apparently by the sender, it is an oddity as no other mail was so addressed. Hence we list it and feel collectors may wish to use TS-4B as a catch-all for any oddities such as this.TS-5- Covers Addressed Directly to Siberia
(See Fig. 7)There are only three covers that fall into this category of mail addressed directly Siberia and we wonder how many more may come to light. The ones in the Baggs collection are:August 22, 1918, addressed to: “Lt. Baggs, Intelligence Officer, Western Dept..
A.E.F. SIberia.” It was received on Nov. 5, 1918.

February 13, 1919, addressed to Lt. Baggs at “U.S. Army, American Expeditionary Forces, Siberia.” It was reeeived April 1, 1919.

March 10, 1919, address the same way. It was received April 24. 1919.

TS-6- Mail Addressed to San Francisco to Returning Soldiers
(see Fig 8)

Covers in this category are extremely interesting. There are five such covers in this group. Apparently the Lieutenant had written that he planned
arrive in California in June 1919. Two of the covers are addressed to the Transport Sherman. One has in brackets “Arriving about June 12th”; the other
says simply “arriving.” and “From A.E.F. Siberia.”

Two are addressed to the Hotel St. Francis. One has a “Hold Until Arrival” and the other a ”Please Hold” ;both in manuscript. The fifth cover is addressed to the Fairnmont Hotel. It is a local 1etter with a two cent rate. A “Please Hold” also appears in manuscript on this cover.

TS-7- Mail Sent to Siberia on Christmas Packages. (See Fig. 9)

No outer envelopes exist in the Baggs collection but a category has been included for two reason ,1- Someday someone else may find Christmas cards or letters with outer address and 2- It seems as though these cards and tags with the unaddressed envelopes in which they were pocketed deserve place in the collection of mail to Siberia as they were sent to a service man and were received by him while there.

How wonderful it must have been receive mail from home at Christmas time, and yet Lt. Baggs nearly failed receive his on that cold Christmas some six weeks after the war to end all wars was finished and the Armistice for Peace had been signed. It was a time when he and others should have been at home with their loved ones.

TS-8- Official Mail to Siberia (See Fig. 10)

Some official mail was included with this find. These were letters and covers sent from Washington. D. C. to Lt. Baggs in Vladivostok. There are several items in the group and all are dated Dec. 10, 1918.

Included is a Window type penalty envelope with Treasury Department corner can (we are amused ath the “return after five days” on this letter addressed to V1adivostok); and envelope handstamped “Telegram,” – and an official letterhead of the Office of the Auditor for the War Department.

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Fig.8. Example of TS-6 category.

(Page 15)

Fig. 9. Example of TS-7 category.
Mv intellect curiosity has been stimulated in an endeavor to sort and classify
this mail and decide what I think it might mean to the postal historian. However, it must be stated that this entire preliminary article is based on mail addressed to one man. Mistakes may have been made, but the only way

(Page 16)
they can be corrected is by hearing from others who may have further ideas, knowledge or information. I would be pleased to enter into correspondance with anyone who has any data about the intervention, in any of its phases. My address is 37 Inwood Street, Yonkers, N.Y.
Fig. 10. Example of TS-S category
(blogger’s family note: Edith M. Faulstich/Fisher passed away in 1972. She no longer resides at the above noted address in the article. For more information, please contact her grand-daughter Alice M. Fisher via email at alicemfisher @ yahoo . com or via twitter.com/unlimitedpr)ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

It would not have been possible to compile this information without the devoted assistance of many who understood a bit here, about the situation in Siberia during the intervention.Although the study is one of original research, I feel I must express my thamks to those who helped me put the puzzle together, who answered my questions and who volunteered information. Ralph Baggs, deserves my very special thanks for putting at my disposal his collection of letter and covers which had been preserved for nearly 25 years.Others who helped include the late Kenneth Roberts and the late General Robert Eichelberger who served in the campaign; C.D.Brenner’ The Rev. Flyod Leach; Mrs. Ralph Fletcher and the following soldiers and nurses who also served in Siberia: P.J. O’Dea, Harold Metzger, Laurie Kent, J.H. Whitehead, Eugene Streed, Henry Fry, and Lillian Stark. Others, far to many to mention, have also contributed in some small way. My thanks go to all.

Although the introduction was compiled from a digest of several dozen books there are far too many to list for such a brief mention of the background.
(Citation: Faulstich, Edith M. A Find. [Yonkers, N.Y.]: Faulstich, 1960-1963)

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)

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