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In Memory of Chief Yeoman of Signals George Smith, DSM, Royal Navy 1904-28 (Part 2 of 7)


NORTH RUSSIAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE 1919, Scrapbook Diary, Photographs, Mementos

1. Naval Service Record 1904-28

2. North Russian Expeditionary Force 1919 (here)

3. HMS Vanquisher, Baltic Cruise 1921

4. HMS Curlew, America & West Indies 1922-25

5. Point Honda Disaster 1923

6. HMS Durban, China Station 1926-28

7. Royal Naval Shore Signal Service 1929-48

his son, Ordnance Artificer George Smith

son-in-law, Lt Cdr (A) James Summerlee MID, RN

as Yeoman of Signals (click to enlarge) return to inter-war, 1918-1939

by his grandson, Gordon Smith,

HMS Fox, to Archangel


Parent ship HMS Hyderabad with the smaller
base ship, HMS Borodino astern on the River Dvina


Order in Scrapbook


Item 1

  Introductory Notes

Item 2

  Newspaper Article on the North Russian Expeditionary Force

Item 3

  Naval Honours Awarded for Services in Russia, including Recommend for DSM

Item 4

  Sailing for Archangel in HMS Fox

Item 5

  A Letter of Appeal from Disaffected Bolshevik Soldiers

Item 6

  A Press Message about the Bolshevik "Nationalisation" of Women

Item 7

  Notice from the Senior Naval Officer, HMS Borodina, Outlining the Situation in North Russia, and the Royal Navy's Role

Item 8

  A Short Account of Bolshevism in Russian Issued from HMS Borodina

Item 9

  Handwritten Notes of Events in North Russia

Item 10

  Photographs of Royal Navy Ships Serving with the North Russian Expeditionary Force

Item 11

  Signal of Congratulation to British and "White" Russian Troops

Item 12

  Three Ship Photographs, all Possibly off North Russia

Item 13

  "G.A.F. - The Gazette of the Archangel Force", July 26, 1919

Item 14

  Photographs of Royal Navy Men and Craft of the North Russian Expeditionary Force

Item 15

  Miscellaneous Photographs and Captions Relating to North Russia


Item 1 - Introductory Notes
(P.O. Smith's handwriting)

Cassandra mined 4th Dec 1918
Sank at 1 AM 5th Dec 1918
11 men killed
(serving on her at the time - mined in Gulf of Finland)

Medusa sank in collision by Laverock during strong and snowy weather
All saved
(serving on HMS Medusa at the time - rammed and foundered in North Sea, 25th March 1916)

June 16th 1918 Czar and family executed

Ships Borodina, Fox, Cicala, Cricket, Humber, Sword Dance, Glowworm,
Fandango, Hyderabad, Monitors M.27, 31 & 33, Seaplane carrier Pegasus & Nairana, Hospital ship Garth Castle
(list of HM Ships serving with North Russian Expeditionary Force;
PO Smith arrived on HMS Fox,
served on HMS Borodina - requisitioned Russian paddle-steamer)


Item 2 - Article on the North Russian Expeditionary Force
(British newspaper cutting, possibly ‘Daily Telegraph’ 1953)



By Noel Monks

They called it " Churchill's War," "The Great Russian Gamble," and "Whitehall’s Folly."

More than 600 British and Commonwealth soldiers were killed and wounded there, but it rated only as a sideshow with the War Office.

No official history was ever written of it, no medals or stars were struck. Not even a ribbon- was issued. In cash, it cost Britain 49,631,000.

The war? The North Russian campaign, May 1918 to October 1919, and if we who were in Burma thought we were forgotten, and, more recently, if in Korea we thought things were tough and the situation confused, then a book published today (‘Archangel 1918-1919’ by Lord Ironside) should make us feel lucky.

Most Competent

It is written by the man most competent to write about that, at the time, hotly controversial expedition, Field-Marshal Lord Ironside of Archangel, who was the C-in-C.

And the passing of 34 years does not lessen the interest of that great soldier's story, for it is told for the first time.

Winston Churchill was the War Secretary, aged 45, when Lieut.-Colonel Edmund Ironside, known throughout the Army as " Tiny " because of his immense size, was called to London from the Front in France In September 1918. (In 1939 he was to go to France as a field-marshal and Chief of the Imperial General Staff), "I was told I had been selected to go as Chief of the General Staff to the C.-in-C. of the Allied Forces, North Russia, whose headquarters were in Archangel," Lord Ironside writes.

The last words of the Sir Henry Wilson, were to remain imprinted on my mind : 'Your business in North Russia is to hold the fort until the local Russians can take the field. You are to prepare for a winter campaign. No joke that.' "

Within two weeks of landing at Archangel Ironside found himself acting C.-in-C. because General Poole, who led the expedition that had landed several months previously, went on what he said would be a month's leave.

He never came back, and the giant 38-year-old man from the Western Front, whose very name, let alone his physique, inspired confidence, found himself in complete charge of a force of soldiers engaged on a two-war front - a civil war and a war against Germany.

For whatever the criticism of our landing in North Russia, the idea, like the Dardanelles, was a good one.

It was hoped to relieve the pressure on the Western Front, and, but for the collapse of the Russian armies, it might have succeeded.

Lenin's signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the Germans on March 3, 1918, had a disastrous effect on Allied strategy.

Ironside inherited anything but an orderly, cut-and-dried theatre of operations. Indeed, his great heart must have missed a few beats after his first thorough investigation of the situation.

"The coming winter campaign might have daunted anyone. We were proposing to occupy a great area with very few troops, none of whom had any experience of Arctic weather, with the sole exception of the Canadians. (What a great thing this Empire of ours is -Aussies and Canadians always, repeat always, alongside the Tommies.)

"There were no troops trained to run on skis or snow shoes, and it was now too late to train them.

"The whole country was one vast forest, a swamp in early and late summer, deep in snow in winter.

"There were no roads, so that mechanical transport could not be used, but countless tracks led in every direction, and no existing maps showed where they ran."


In the spring of 1919, when the Siberian forces of Admiral Koltchak failed to make the hoped-for junction with Ironside's forces near Koltas, on the River Dvina, the usefulness of the Allied force in Archangel as far as stabilising the North Russian Government was concerned was at an end. Evacuation, often hinted at, became a certainty.

With a lesser man than Ironside in command the Archangel adventure might have ended in catastrophe for the 13,000 British, 4,000 American, and 2,000 French troops in his care.

Home again from Archangel, Ironside, 38, reported to the War Office expecting, at least, a pat on the back.

Instead, he was put on half-pay and reverted to his Army rank of colonel - but only for a while.

When Lord Rawlinson's dispatches for North Russia (he had carried out the evacuation) were published Ironside was promoted to major-general for services in the field.

Which probably explains why he took Archangel for his title. "Archangel 1918-1919 " is a soldier's story factually told without frills, and, I found, as interesting today as though the events in it had only recently happened.


Item 3 - Naval Honours Awarded for Services in Russia
(Newspaper cutting - extracts from "The Times" of London, c 1919)




A supplement to yesterday’s "London Gazette" announces that the King has been pleased to approve the following awards for service in connection with the war:-


Capt.Berwick Curtis, C.B., D.S.O., R.N. for valuable services as captain (D) 29th Destroyer Flotilla in Russia


Lieut-Cmdr. Thomas Clarence Wilsone, R.N. For valuable services in connection with operations in the Caspian Sea



Cmdr Robert Woodward Sutton Curteis, R.N.R (Cmdr., R.N. retired). For distinguished services in command of the Allied Lake Flotilla. On several occasions he exhibited great gallantry and devotion to duty during operations on shore.

Lieut. Harold Edward Morse, R.N. For distinguished services under fire on several occasions.


Lieut. Hugh Babbington, R.N. (since died). For distinguished services during operations on shore and in connection with mine-laying.

Lieut George Ernest Coker. R.N. For distinguished services in connection with mining operations.

Lieut Henry Crawford Macdonald, R.N. For distinguished services on the occasion of the mining of HMS Myrtle on July 15, 1919, when he displayed seamanship of a high order.

Mid. Andrew William Eliot Welchman R.N.R. For distinguished services in H.M. Coastal Motor Boat No.36


Ch. Gnr. Daniel Patrick Joseph Enright, D.S.C., R.N. For distinguished services in action as chief gunner of the flotilla and in charge of naval demolition parties


Yeo. Sigs George William Smith (Devonport) (see original recommendation following)

A.B. William James Thompson (Devonport)


Sig. Charles Thomas Dean (Devonport)

P.O. Teleg. William smith (Devonport)


Engr.-Cmdr. Francis Howard Lyon, D.S.O., R.N.

Lieut.-Cmdr. Quintin Bernard Preston-Thomas, R.N.

Lieut.-Cmdr. Henry Edward Rendall, D.S.O., R.N.

Lieut.-Cmdr. Victor Isaac Griffith, R.N.

Lieut.-Cmdr Philip Graves Rouse, R.N.V.R.

Engr.-Lieut. Frederick Arthur Hunter, R.N.R.

Capt. F. R. G. Milton, M.C., R.F.A.

Warrant Shipwright Daniel Wood, R.N.

2nd Lieut. J. H. Lawrence-Archer, R.G.A.

Shipwright, 4th Class Monteith Cyril Dean (Devonport)

A.B. Francis John Dredge (Devonport)



Lieut William Boydon Chilton, D.S.C., R.N.R. For distinguished services in command of seaplane carriers


A.B. Albert Wade (Devonport)


Lieut. Herbert Charles Purvis, R.N.

Act.-Lieut. Harry Edward Wellman, R.N.

Sub-Lt. Harold Sugden Keighley, R.N.

Gnr. Christopher Mahon, R.N.

A.B. Randall Bissett (Dev.)

A.B. David Duhig (Dev.)


I long wondered why my grandfather was awarded the DSM. Then I pinned it down to North Russia, but it was not until Damien Wright from Australia sent me the official recommendation, out of the blue, that I learnt the details. Damien was then in the final stages of completing a book on British and Commonwealth involvement in the Russian Civil War 1918-20 and had come across a copy of the original. My family and I are very grateful to Damien for his thoughtfulness - Gordon Smith

click to enlarge



Surname: Smith, Christian Name: George William
Rank or  rating: Yeoman of Signal, Official No.: 232,282
Ship: "FOX" addl., Station: Archangel River Expedition

Full particulars of distinguished service for which recommendation  is made: Has performed excellent service in connection with signalling in action. He was one of the Petty Officers including in the signalling staff employed on every occasion of flotilla bombardments and showed marked coolness and ability under fire.

Honour, Medal for which recommended, or mention: D.S.M.

(administrative details)

Signature of Commanding Officer - signed E Altham
Captain, S.N,O. Archangel River Expedition
Date: 1 Oct. 1919.


Item 4 - Sailing for Archangel in HMS Fox
(Extracts from a Letter in P.O. Smith's handwriting)

Whilst Stuck in the Ice Field off Cape Goroditzki, White Sea on Monday May 12th, 1919

On passage to Archangel to assist the Loyal Russians against the Bolsheviks. Expedition called North Russian Ex. Force.  Ship HMS Fox


North Russia, Murmansk to Dvina River

We left Murmansk at noon on Sat after coaling in company with the Russian ice breaker "Sviatogor", the Naval repair ship "Cyclops" & and the Naval store ship "Bacchus".

We had a very nice run at 12 knots until 8.45 on Sunday morning when the ice pack was encountered. The ice appeared first of all like a thin film which gradually grew thicker and thicker until by 9.30 the ice encountered was about 7 ft thick in parts. Soon after 9.30 the "Bacchus" made signals that she was surrounded with ice and jammed, and we all stopped.

The "Sviatogor" was ordered to proceed & break the ice in the vicinity of the "Bacchus". This she proceeded to do but it wasn’t of much avail as eventually all three of us were stuck hard and fast by ice estimated 12 ft thick. So here we were fast in the ice 183 miles from Archangel & 20 miles out from the nearest land. Two ice breakers were wirelessed for from Archangel to assist the "Sviatogor" in getting the three of us through the ice field. They had been ordered two days before to pick us up as trouble was anticipated, but owing to the extreme thickness of the ice they had only been able to make slow progress. About 8 PM the ice breakers "Kosmo-Minim" & "Kniarz Pojarskie" were sighted making towards us, but it was not until 2 AM that they managed to reach us.

Up to the present we had only penetrated 25 miles into the ice field. It showed all night & again the following day, so that added to our difficulties as it made it more difficult to see where any break in the ice appeared probable.

At 10.30 on Monday we started to plow through it again, with an ice breaker ahead of us, but it didn’t last long as the ships were unable to make any headway. The ice breakers would get ahead of us & plow through it but it closed immediately afterwards so it didn’t benefit us much. The temperature was now 10 below zero, the cold beginning to penetrate through our thick furs & Shackleton boots. My nose got frost-bitten, also the left hand which I had taken out of the glove for about a minute.

The ship was now creaking and groaning as though she would burst asunder. As this was our first experience of being ice bound, we began to wonder what would happen next.

As soon as any break in the ice was perceived, full steam was raised & another attempt made. Sometimes the rate of progress would be 3 miles in four hours. No sleep was obtainable at night for the terrific bumps we were receiving every time we hit a larger piece of ice than normal. We did about 6 miles altogether during the night.

Seals abound everywhere, so perhaps if we stick here much longer we shall be able to have a hunt around for some of them.

Tuesday, no further progress so the sailors were given a chance to go seal hunting. Parties were organised, each with a broom handle & a length of rope with a slip knot & loop. One of our officers who had been with Scott & Shackleton to the Arctic gave instruction on how to kill a seal by the simple method of one man advancing towards the seal to attract its attention, while one kept behind the seal. It was found quite simple to catch them and kill them by this means. As the man advanced the seal would stand on its hind flippers & watch him as though undecided what to do. The man behind would creep up & when close enough give the seal a decent crack on the head with the broom handle & stun it. Its throat was then cut, the looped rope slipped round its tail & marched or dragged back to the ship in triumph.

Sixteen seals were bagged in this way in about an hour when the siren was blown for all parties to return to the ship as the ice appeared to be cracking around the ship & there was hopes of making a move. The ship was littered with …….. sailors & their captures, our messman promising us some seals liver & heart for supper. I didn’t fancy it myself. Some of the others did though and said they enjoyed it.

The interior of the ship is wet through caused by the steel sweating with the cold outside & the hot steam pipes inside, so that moisture drops on to your face while sleeping in your hammock. Slow progress was made during the ensuing 3 days when the ice began to get thinner and thinner so that at last on the Saturday we were able to steam at 10 knots & so reached Archangel after being in the ice field for 6 days.

I enclose a couple of snaps. Please return them when you have finished with them.

(Extracts and "snaps" believed sent to Peter H Liddle, 1914-18 Archives, Sunderland Polytechnic in 1977)


Approximate Area of Operations on the Dvina River
(see Addendum for locations)


Item 5 - A Letter of Appeal from Disaffected Bolshevik Soldiers


Copy of page 1 only

Enclosure (1)

W/T message; not in P.O. Smith's handwriting
Naval Signal Pad sheets, pages 1 & 2
(type S.-1320c., revised – January 1917)

Transcription of pages 1 & 2 follow

Note - the Samara Region is in the south eastern part of European Russia. Presumably the Bolshevik troops mentioned here had been shipped up to North Russia



Translation of a letter attached to a stick and floated down stream on a spar of wood and picked up by "M.31" early morning 17th July 1919.

From handwriting and wording of the letter it has evidently been written by a Peasant:-

Greetings to Dear Brothers from the Red trenches.

We acquaint you of the conditions of the mobilised men from the Samara Region. All mobilised and even volunteers refuse to fight for the commune and we the mobilised even more so. Soon very soon we will bayonet our Commissars and Comdrs. Our Comrade the Chief of Communists, Trotsky disappeared nobody knows where. Now the game of the Communists is played out. Soon there will be an end to the commune. Long live Liberty – you dear Brothers don’t shoot at us. We all are enemies of the Soviet rule. We are kept in the trenches against our will, we were forced with ships and with the threat to be shot. They thought to enlarge their area but they won’t go far with the help of the mobilised and even the volunteers are against them. Only we are not yet well organised. In the rear, the mobilised are shouting "down with the commune, long live the National Assembly".

The mobilised of the IJMO PECHORSKY Regmt. We nearly all are mobilised. With kind greetings to you Dear Brothers. We are not your enemy’s but Brothers.


Item 6 - A Press Message about the Bolshevik "Nationalisation" of Women


Copy of page 1 only

Enclosure (2)

W/T message; not in P.O. Smith's handwriting
Naval Signal Pad sheets, pages 1-4

Transcription of pages 1-4 follow

Note - the town of Savator has not been identified, but this is not believed to be a local "story". Kronstadt is the island naval base off St Petersburg/Leningrad



A decree is proclaimed by the association of Anarchists of the town of Savator in compliance with decisions of the Soviet of Peasants Soldiers and Workers deputies of Kronstadt. The private possession of women is abolished and social inequalities and legitimate marriage having been an instrument in the hands of the Bourgeoisie thanks to which all the best species of beautiful women have been the property of the Bourgeoisie. The proper continuation of human race has been presented and such arguments have induced the organization to issue the present decree.

From March the 1st the right to possess women of the ages from 17 to 32 is abolished. The age of women shall be determined by birth certificates and passport. Failing to produce documents the age shall be determined by Committee which shall judge according to appearance.

Former husbands may retain the right of using their wives. In case of resistance of husband he shall forfeit his right under former paragraph. All women according to this decree are exempted from private ownership and are proclaimed to be the property of the whole nation. The distribution and management of appropriated women in compliance with the decision of aforesaid organization are transferred to the Savator Anarchists Club from the date of publication of this decree. All women given by it to the use of the whole nation are obliged to represent themselves to a given representative and to supply the required information. A Special Committee is formed for realisation of these decrees.

Any citizen noticing any women not submitting herself to the address under the decree must make the fact known to the Anarchist Club giving name of woman.

Men citizens have right to use one woman 3 times a week for 3 hours observing rules specified below.

Every man wishing to use a piece of public property should be bearer of certificate from Authoritative Committee of Workmen Soldiers and Peasants Council certifying it belongs to a working class family.

Every working member is obliged to discount 2% of his earnings to the funds of the Public General Action.

This Committee in charge will put these discount funds into state banks and other concerns handing down the funds to the population.

Women when they become pregnant are released for three months before and one month after child birth.

Children borne are given to a constitution for training after they are one month old, when they are to be trained and educated until they are 17 at the cost of the Public Funds.

In case of birth of twins a mother is to receive a prize of 20.

All citizens are obliged to watch theirselves carefully and those who are guilty of spreading venereal disease will be held responsible and severely punished.

Women having lost their health may apply to the Soviet for a pension.

The Chief of the Anarchists will be in charge of the temporary measure relating to the decree.

All refusing to recognise and support this decree will be proclaimed enemies of the people and country and will be held strictly responsible.

Signed Councillor City of Savator


Item 7 - Notice from the Senior Naval Officer (SNO), HMS Borodina, Outlining the Situation in North Russia, and the Royal Navy's Role


Copy of page 2 only - with SNO's signature

Enclosure (3)

Typed Notice, pages 1 & 2

Transcription of pages 1 & 2 follow




Situation In North Russia

1. The Horsea Press this morning announces that General Rawlinson is coming out to North Russia at once to co-ordinate the withdrawal of the Archangel and Murmansk British troops and forces.

I therefore feel more at liberty to inform the Flotilla and units under my command as to the situation.

2. When we left England, it was with the purpose of covering the evacuation of the tired troops who had borne the hardships of the winter on this front.

This, in conjunction with the fresh troops, has been done.

It was also our duty to leave the North Russian Army in a sound position to defend the people who has sided with us against Germany and Bolshevism.

It would have been an immense security to them could they have joined hands with Kolchak's army advancing from the East and with this in view we set out to help them through until the approach of winter should compel our withdrawal.

3. Kolchak has failed, and withdrawn too far for the North Russian Army to hope to connect with his Army this year.

Therefore it now remains for us to continue to counter the enemy until proper arrangements are completed for evacuation.

It often proves to the case that a vigorous offensive is the best defence and for such I want the Flotilla to remain prepared.

4. We have the satisfaction of knowing that the Sadleir-Jackson Brigade, with the support of the Flotilla and Air Force are the most powerful striking force in North Russia and we hope before long we may deal the enemy a severe blow.

Before leaving we shall in any case mine and block the river so heavily that it will be unnavigable for the enemy for some time to come.

5. Bolshevism is an insidious political disease deliberately fostered by Germany to endeavour to undermine the nations who have defeated her, and then enable her to regain by foul means the position in the world she has lost in fair fight.

In form it is the most despotic rule known. It denies all representative national government and strikes at the heart of that love of justice, freedom and liberty ingrained in every British heart.

Until it is crushed and Russian freed from its thrall, which has brought her to a state of misery, bankruptcy and despair beyond description, the menace of Germany and another war with Germany will remain.

This may be brought about by fighting it or it may be better to isolate it and prevent it contaminating all decent living peoples.

6. In either case, the navy will be no less ready than of old to play its part in securing and preserving the fruits of peace which our country has but so lately and hardly won.

Future plans and operations must necessarily remain secret until the moment comes for them to be put into execution but the officers and men whom I have the honour to command may rely on my taking them into my confidence whenever I am able to do so.

In the meantime we must be ready as ever to put our hand to anything which cicumstances may require or our gallant Sister Services may need.

(signed E. Altham)


Senior Naval Officer,

Archangel River Expedition


2nd AUGUST 1919

Note: Captain Edward Altham kept a journal on board HMS Fox in 1919 and a privately printed account of the North Dvina camp called "Bolos and Barishynas" which is now with the National Maritime Museum, London (information courtesy of Liz Verity)


Item 8 - A Short Account of Bolshevism in Russia Issued from HMS Borodina


Copy of page 1 only

Enclosure (4)

Typed Account, pages 1-4

Transcription of pages 1-4 follow



The start of the Bolshevik Regime - The reign of terror in Russia commenced with the overthrow of Kerensky's Government by Lenin and Trotsky in November 1917. The former came from Switzerland in a closed car through Germany and was elected President. Trotsky, whose real name is Bronstein, and others were almost without exception Jews, to whom Russia meant nothing.

German Support - To carry out their propaganda, the "Bolos" needed a large sum of money. This was readily supplied by Germany, to whose advantage it was to see Russia disorganised, as she would then become an easy prey for the exploitation of her vast resources.

One of the promises made by the Bolos was the immediate conclusion of peace. The result was the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, by which Russia was deprived of Finland, the Ukraine, all Western and Southern Russian, and by which she had to pay 300,000,000 in gold.

By that time the Russian Army was completely disorganised, which the Germans took advantage of by pushing their line forward to between Narva on the Baltic and Rostoff on the Sea of Azov, and this after the Treaty had been signed.

Great indignation as been felt amongst the true Russians at the signing of the Treaty, and so the Bolo set about the extermination of all educated people in Russia and did it very thoroughly. Wholesale arrests were ordered, thousands of innocent people were thrown into prison and many executed. Officers of the Former Army were proclaimed Outlaws and were to be shot at sight, thereby making murder 'lawful'. Uritzky, a Commisar in Petrograd, appointed by the Central Executive Committee which had fled to Moscow, made himself especially obnoxious and was shot by an officer. As a reprisal, the Bolos arrested 5,000 officers and whilst conveying them in barges to Kronstadt, blew the barges up in the Bay of Petrograd, most of the officers perishing.

Britishers were suspected of aiding the counter-revolutionary party and many were thrown into prison. On 31 August 1918, Captain F.C. Cromie D.S.O., R.N., our Naval Attache, was brutally murdered, and his body mutilated. The British Embassy which he had tried to defend was entered and ransacked and the Staff arrested. The Allies threatened reprisals and the British subjects were eventually released.

Lenin and Trotsky, fearing for their safety, surrounded themselves with Chinese and Lettish Guards, but one day a girl succeeded in firing three shots at Lenin and seriously wounded him. Again thousands of innocent people were shot as a reprisal.

Appeal of help - About this time the Russians appealed to the Entente Powers for help against the Bolshevik Terror.

In the North, with the aid of British, French, and Americans, communications were kept open and food and clothing were supplied to the starving Russians. Archangel was occupied by an Allied Force on 2nd August 1918, and the Bolos were driven out of the surrounding districts, thus enabling the population to pursue a safe and peaceful existence such as they had not known for many months.

A volunteer Army, mainly consisting of ex-officers, was started by Generals Alexeiff and Korniloff in the South. Their strength at first was only 2,500 men all told, but after successful fighting, many fresh men gathered round them and now the Army, which since the death of both Alexeiff and Korniloff, is under command of General Denikin, numbers now about 300,000 men and is well equipped with guns, ammunition, aeroplanes and tanks which have been supplied by Great Britain. The Volunteer Army has already cleared a large part of South Russian of the Bolos and is continuing to advance rapidly.

In the Ukraine, two armies, at first acting independently, met with considerable success, and having now joined hands, are pressing the Bolos hard. They are nearing Keiff, the last Bolo stronghold in the Ukraine.

From the West, the Poles have cleared the Bolos out of their country and are not working in conjunction with the Esthonians and Russians under General Udenitch. He is now within a few miles of Petrograd, where a severe battle is raging, the Bolo desperately defending the capital, which although it has long ceased to be the site of the Central Executive Committee which has moved to Moscow, is still regarded by the Bolos as a most important city, whose loss would be a great blow to their cause.

All the Commanders of the anti-Bolo armies have recognised Admiral Kolchak as their supreme Commander-in-Chief, who with his Siberian Army from the East is assisting to strangle the Bolos. He is now at Perm.

Situation in 'Soviet' Russia - The situation in Soviet Russia is becoming more and more desperate. The people realise that all the promises with which they have been lured by the Bolos are nothing but empty words. The Bolos confiscated all private estates and crown lands but no system was devised for the division of the land among the peasants, the result being plunder, destruction and indiscriminate land-grabbing, leading to an unequal distribution of land and further conflict between individual villages and peasants.

The workmen got control over the factories but were unable to manage them, owing chiefly to lack of experience and desire on the part of the workmen themselves to work conscientiously, and also to lack of raw material, due to the breakdown of the transport. In spite of large sums of money paid by the Bolo Government in their promissory notes as wages, the factories closed down one after another, thereby throwing the work men aside without any means of support.

The stock of manufactured goods being exhausted, there was nothing left to give the peasants in exchange for their produce, as the latter refused to accept the paper money which had become valueless. Therefore punitive expeditions were organised to extort corn from the peasants, which led to the extension of the Civil War to the rural districts, whereas up then the bloodshed had been almost entirely confined to the Cities where the bourgeoisie had been mercilessly hunted down. Several risings of peasants occurred but were suppressed with unheard of cruelty; whole districts were laid waste and the inhabitants shot regardless of sex and age.

In every town and village, the Central Executive Committee possessed its agent, whose duty it was to report anyone suspected of anti-bolshevik feelings and any such people were immediately arrested and thrown into prison which they seldom left alive, being either shot after a mock trial before the Revolutionary Tribunal or literally starved to death. One member of the Committee, appointed to report on the condition of the prisons, was himself arrested for daring to give a truthful account of the shocking state in which the prisoners existed.

Results. - By means of such terror, the Bolos have been able to keep the whole country subservient to their means. For the male population there is but one thing left - to enlist in the Red Army where they get sufficient food to exist. They are forced to fight for fear of being shot if they refuse to obey. Detachments of Chinese and Letts are kept for this purpose as Punitive Units and Executioners.

Food is very scarce, especially in the towns where the people are starving. As a result of bad feeding, epidemics have broken out; in Petrograd in the early summer there 2000 cases of cholera daily, the great proportion of which were deaths. 

The Bolos have done away with all law and substituted numerous decrees, one of which did away with the Church. Many of the churches were turned into cinemas and music-halls; the priests were persecuted and many murdered. Another decree did away with the marriage ceremony, which now became a simple thing. A man had only to hand a paper to a Commissar stating he wanted a particular woman as his wife, the paper was stamped and the ceremony was complete. The same paper had only to be torn up by the Commissar for the marriage to be annulled.

In certain areas the women were nationalised and any man could take any girl between 18 and 35 as his wife and leave her as soon as he wished. Any woman who refused was shot. Children were to be taken away from their parents and brought up by the state.

Present state of affairs. - The brutal and lawless method of the Bolos have been carried too far and have turned the bulk of the country against them. The men in his armies have been largely mobilised at the point of a pistol, and are peace-loving people who would rejoice at regaining their freedom to carry out their ordinary work as they did before the war.

The Bolo leaders fully realize their precarious position but still cling to their task hoping that a universal revolution will still plunge the world into a state of anarchy and chaos, such as they have done with Russia.

But their hopes are doomed with the steady pressure of all the anti-bolshevik forces by which they are surrounded, and by the desire of the Russian people to overthrow the terrible 'Bolo' rule


21 JULY 1919


Item 9 - Handwritten Notes of Events in North Russia
(some of the contents appear to be in P.O.Smith's handwriting; some in another hand)

(I originally thought some of these might be photograph captions, but they are probably not. If photographs did exist to accompany these notes, they have not been found)


Page 1

HMS Glory at Murmansk

Seaplane carriers Pegasus & Nairana & Hospital ship Garth Castle

Temperature drop when we enter the White Sea. Ice is sighted

Bereznik(?) are joined up with Dyers Battalion which included several ex-Bolshevik women

Two villages called Troitsa and Topsa were captured

Russian Troops comprising Dyers Battalion rose and foully butchered their British & Russian Officers

Bolshevik prisoners and deserters secured during the winter months

HMS Humber lying in mid stream & the sound of firing. At 3.30 a man was sighted & asked for help, he was Capt Barr who reported that his men had mutinied & shot their officers. He had 10 wounds in his body

HM Monitor 31, Borodino, Hyderabad, Humber, Cicala & Monitors 31, 33 & 27

Flies & mosquitoes worried us quite a lot

A dull morning monitor 31 discovered a spar

Page 1 - reverse

Tug Levic

Since May 1918 a handful of British Troops kept German troops from the Murmansk coast as a submarine base. The reason why British force was not withdrawn after signing the armistice in Nov 1918.

The Port of Archangel was freezing up & the situation in Russian demanded the continuation of such a force.

In property near Gomel, Bolsheviks broke into a house where a mother and her four children were dining, they cut off the mother's head and threw it in the soup tureen. Then the childrens, one of which they put on each plate.

(Note - Gomel is SW of Moscow. This is therefore not a local "story")

The prisoners taken out to Machouk(?) were made to dig their own graves & buried alive, axes were used to drive back into their living tomb any who tried to escape.

Help was needed, reinforcements & relief were two essentials for tired worn out men, thus the Russian Relief Force came into being, its task was to relieve the men who had endured the rigours of the Arctic winter under the direction of General Ironsides & General Maynard at Murmansk.


Page 2
(blue lined paper)

The Bolo Fleet was commanded by an ex bluejacket of the Russian Navy.

Sword Dance & Fandango were blown up 1 officer & 7 ratings killed

Four gunboats HMS Cockchafer, Cicala, Cricket & Glowworm, Monitors M.23 & M.25 hoped to reach Koltaz(?) & join forces with Kolchack. Humber & monitors M.27, 31 & 33.

Boarding party from HMS Fox finally subdued the mutinous Russians


Page 3

Early in 1919 Gen(?) Gomels Bolsheviks broke into a house where a mother & her four children were dining, they cut off the mothers head and threw it in the soup tureen, then the childrens heads one of which they put each on a plate. Prisoners taken out to Machouk were made to dig their own graves & buried alive, axes were used to drive back into their living tomb, any who tried to escape.

General Ironside commanding at Archangel indicated in messages to the War Office that the Bolsheviks opposing him were contemplating offensive action with the view to acquiring the North Russian territory, he wanted reliefs to release those who had endured the rigours of the Arctic winter. Dyers Battalion mutinied Topsa & Troitsa

Page 3 - reverse

Flies & Mosquitoes

Slavo British Legion. 5 British officers were shot & killed. Monitor M.31 Naval landing party, Borodino, Hyderabad, Humber, Cicala & Monitors 31, 33 & 27 lay in River near Troitsa

M.31 spar floating with twig & a letter. Later translated

Bolshevik Fleet commanded by an ex-bluejacket, all officers were under him

12 ringleaders of Dyers Battalion were executed, shot tied to a post


Item 10 - Photographs of Royal Navy Ships Serving with the North Russian Expeditionary Force


Postcard & caption - H.M.S. "Sword Dance" mined in the Dvina River whilst in action against the Bolshevik Flotilla, September 1919 (c Abraham 1240)

Notes found elsewhere in scrapbook - "H.M.S. Sword Dance sunk by mine off Troitsa North Dvina River June 1919"

Postcard & caption - H.M.S. "Hyderabad" (parent ship), H.M.S. "Borodino" (ex-Russian) S.N.O. River, Dvina River Flotilla, Bolshevik Campaign 1919 (c Abraham 1329)

Reverse handwritten note - Our parent & hospital ship HMS Hyderabad, N Russia 1919

Postcard & caption - H.M.S. "Cicala" (River Gunboat), Dvina River Expeditionary Force. In action May 7th, mined off Selso by Bolsheviks, afterwards raised and in action again on August 16th, 1919 (c Abraham 1238)

Reverse handwritten note - N Russian Ex. Force, North Dvina River 1919

Notes found elsewhere in scrapbook - "River gunboat HMS Cicala, Pennant C1;
note seaplane on beach." "Types of Gunboat on North Dvina. H.M.S. Cicala,
she struck a mine night before last Aug 6th but will soon be OK again. Yakoleskoe
in the background where our trenches on the left bank are situated"

Postcard & caption - Dvina River Flotilla, Bolshevik Campaign, 1919 (Left to Right) "Hyderabad", "Humber", "Cicala", Seaplane Barge, M.31. (c Abraham 1241)

Reverse handwritten note - 375 Versts up the River Dvina, N Russia, Aug 1919 off Troitsa


Item 11 - Signal of Congratulation to British and "White" Russian Troops


Copy of message

W/T message; not in P.O. Smith's handwriting

Naval Signal sheet, page 1 only

Transcription following


Dvina Force


Mess Deck (B)


P.O. of Watch - ?Gers
Read By - ??
Reported By
Passed By
System - Tel
Date - 16-8-19
Time 1700

Following received from Governor General Russian Hqrs. Archangel. Convey my heartiest congratulations to the British & Russian Troops on their brilliant victory.-

From General Lord Rawlinson. Heartiest congratulations on magnificent victory.

From General Ironsides. Best congratulations on brilliant & complete victory.

The above are to be conveyed to all Ranks forthwith. The G.O.C. Dvina Force wishes to convey to the troops and Naval Brigade under his command his deep appreciation & admiration of the gallantry displayed by all ranks engaged & the loyal & wholehearted co-operation between the Sister services and all branches of the Army. He sends his deepest thanks to all ranks for the determination & perseverance displayed in overcoming very great climatic conditions & congratulates them on the brilliancy of their achievements.


Item 12 - Ship Photographs, all Possibly off North Russia


Steamer on fire

Handwritten note - Another close up view. I believe one of our men was burnt in this steamer

(no other details given) 

Postcard & caption - H.M. Monitor "27" in action in the Dvina River whilst co-operating with land forces against the Bolsheviks, afterwards blown up during retreat from Troitsa to prevent her from falling into enemy hands. September 1919 (c Abraham 1236)

No notes - Japanese destroyer (possibly Amatsukaze class) and merchant ship, date and location not known 


Item 13 - "G.A.F. - The Gazette of the Archangel Force", July 26, 1919


Part of front page of Edition No.8

Transcription of "The Russian Situation" on the front page follows


The Russian Situation


Dvina Force. - On the night of the 21-22 July, a raid was, carried out the Bolshevik position on the Seletskoe-Kodish road, by a small party of two officers and twelve men. The Bolshevik detachment was taken by surprise and 23 out of a total of 25 were bayoneted, the two remaining men being taken prisoners. Our casualties were the two officers wounded.

Vologda Force. - On the 22nd inst. the Bolsheviks made an attack on the railway. At the same time som of the troops of the 8th North Russian Regt., amongst whom Bolshevik agents had, apparently, been working for some time, showed signs of disaffection and refused to advance.

As a result, the enemy succeeded in occupying our forward blockhouses. A counter-attack was carried out on the morning of the, 23rd - inst., when the lost blockhouses were recaptured and the situation entirely restored.

The enemy troops were badly demoralised by the counter-attack and retreated in disorder.

Onega Front. - In the regions south of Lake Koj (43 miles west of Onega River) we have occupied the village of Yandovskoe.

A very regrettable incident occurred at Onega on the 21st July. The 5th North Russian Regiment had been for some time the object of very subtle Bolshevik propaganda, which had been carried out by local Bolsheviks acting in conjunction with the Commissar who is with the enemy troops on this part of the front. This had its effect upon the minds of the illiterate Russian troops, who, at a given signal, mutinied, and are supposed to have gone over to the enemy. Troops and warships were immediately sent to the scene, and all approaches to the town are now guarded.

An attempt was made to cause a Bolshevik rising in the inland villages along the river, but the inhabitants had already experienced the terrors of Bolshevik rule, and were not to be bitten. Consequently, the attempt failed.

Onega, like Archangel, has never known the horrors of Bolshevik rule and, consequently, the lowest class of the people, who are unable to read or, write, are easily influenced by the specious stories and promises of the Bolshevik agents.


The Bolsheviks have launched an offensive on a line between Luga and Polotsk.

Further south, in the district of Novogrudsk (70 miles west of Pinsk) the Lithuanian troops took Koliardzino on the river Niemen.


In Galicia, the Polish troops have crossed the river Stripa at all points, and the Ukrainians are retiring east of the river Zbrucz. The Poles leave also retaken Tarnopol (near the Galician frontier).

The Bolsheviks have cleared the Ukrainian troops from the Odessa-Tarnopol railway.


General Denikin has visited Kharkoff and has issued an order to the southern armies to resume the advance.

The Bolsheviks are making strenuous efforts, in the direction of Kharkoff. After the occupation of Verknednieprovsk by the Volunteer troops, the Bolos counter-attacked from the south and caused the volunteers to retire behind the river Dneiper.

The Bolsheviks also claim to have taken Ekaterinoslav.

Further south-west, however, the volunteers have taken Aleshki (near the mouth of the Dneiper) and their advanced scouts have entered Kherson. They, therefore, hold the line of the river right to the Black Sea.

The Kuban Cossack division which crossed the Volga at Tsaritsin were given an exuberant welcome by the peasantry. Scouts have advanced as far east as Kapustin Yar and Novonikolskoe (west of the Astrakhan- Saratoff railway).

A report from the War Office states that strong Bolshevik reinforcements were landed from the Caspian in the rear of the volunteer troops in the vicinity of Astrakhan, who found it necessary to make a retirement and now hold positions at Serebrakovskaya and 30 miles west of Tarnovskaya, (73 miles S.S.W, of Astrakhan).

Astrakhan is reported to be in the hands of anti-Bolshevik workmen, and the main body of the Bolshevik garrison is working down the coast towards Dagestan.

A Moscow wireless message reports that a steamer on the Caspian Sea carrying a courier with certain documents from General Denikin to Admiral Kolchak has been captured by a "Red" torpedo-boat. The contents of these will be published shortly.

The "Daily Chronicle" special correspondent at Ekaterinodar telegraphs on the 10th July that a great critical struggle is now in prospect in front of Denikin's armies, whose front is 1,200 miles long, while the territory under his control has a population of over 20,000,000. This population is yielding a large number of recruits - thousands of whom become volunteers.

One regiment, which was reduced to 250 by losses in fighting in the Donetz Basin, is now increased to 3,000. From being a small defensive force, Denikin's army has become a powerful attacking force, whose immediate objectives are Saratoff, Voronezh, Kursk and Poltava, and whose not very distant objective is Moscow. Meantime a certain brief period is necessary to arrange a redisposition of the troops, secure communications and provide for the administration and feeding of reconquered territories. While this is in progress the front is being actively held, and desperate Bolshevik attacks - particularly in the direction of Ekaterinoslav - have been repulsed and turned into a rout of the enemy.

The remnants of the 10th Red Army, which defended Tsaritsin are fleeing northward towards Kamishin on the Volga, while communication between Kamishin and the interior of Russia has been stopped by cutting the railway between Kamishin, Belashoff, Tamboff and Moscow.

The important junction Balashoff was captured a few days ago by the Don Cossacks into whose hands fell a huge booty, including 70 guns, besides millions of shells and cartridges. After the Cossacks had removed the booty the Reds launched heavy counter attacks by which they succeeded in recapturing the town, but on the 9th they were again driven out by the Cossacks.

Astrakhan is reported to have been evacuated by the Reds, who made off southwards in barges with naval guns, with the object of forcing their way to Daghestan to foment an insurrection amongst the mountaineers in the rear of the Volunteer Army. This move will probably be effectively countered.

On the left bank of the Volga the Kuban Cossacks have firmly established themselves opposite Tsaritsin, while the Ural Cossacks are working up in the direction of Saratov.

It is noteworthy that these brilliant military successes are not leading to any crude militarist reaction. On the contrary, Denikin is taking measures to broaden the base of his Government. In a speech delivered a few days ago at Rostoff, he expressed his intention of inviting to share in his government representatives of cossack countries and all conquered territories. The details of his scheme have not yet been announced but it is obvious that it will greatly facilitate the co-operation of all elements working for the establishment of a strong free Russia.


The Helsingfors correspondent of the Stockholm Journal, " Svenska Dagblad" reports that the Soviet Government have given 2,500 million roubles to used as bribes in order to cause dissension in the ranks of the anti-Bolshevik armies. Large sums have also been given for a similar purpose in regard to the Russian Northern Army. Persons knowing German have been sent to Germany to carry on an agitation in each detachment of the German Army. Each of these emissaries has been given a sum of 800,000 roubles.

__ __

Although, following the ratification of the peace treaty with Germany, the blockade of that country has been lifted, the Council of Five contemplate a sever use of that weapon in their great task of resettling Europe. President Wilson's opinion has been sought regarding the advisability of preventing merchant ships from coming into the Gulf of Finland without Allied permission, the object being to prevent the Bolsheviks securing supplies which they might use against the Allies. The Council is also asking General Denikin's Government to declare a blockade of the Black Sea ports in order to prevent supplies going to the Bolsheviks through the Crimea and other parts of Russia.

__ __

General Briggs, the Chief of the British Military Mission to South Russia, who has just returned from a visit to General Denikin's headquarters, declares that General Denikin is a large minded and strong Russian patriot', quite unswayed by any personal ambition.

The heads of the British, French and American Missions have, in conjunction with General Denikin, formulated an administration for the abolition of Bolshevik anarchy and the reconstruction of a United Russia.

General Briggs stated that of the population of Russia, 85 per cent. were anti-Bolshevik, 5 per cent. were Commissars, and 5 per cent. were highly paid assassins, while the remaining 5 per cent. were doubtful owing to Bolshevik propaganda.

General Briggs emphasised the necessity of quickly assisting the anti-bolsheviks to re-open trade with the reconquered territory.

__ __


Recently a number of Bolshevik sympathisers were arrested in Archangel on the charge of espionage and spreading false rumours regarding the condition of the Siberian Army, also regarding strikes and revolutionary movements in the Allied countries. The accused were tried by court-martial, and five sailors and two civilians were sentenced to be shot, and three others were sentenced to 15 years hard labour, and deprivation of all rights and property.

__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __


According to a telegram received from Warsaw, the representative of the German Government in Upper Silesia, in a telegram to Berlin which has been intercepted, urges the German Government to refuse to allow the passage of General Haller's troops, as their presence would undermine German interests in Upper Silesia. He, further, issued a proclamation calling upon the population to remain calm and to render all possible assistance in the discovery of the persons guilty of destroying railway bridges.

The transport of Polish troops through Germanv has been resumed. Since the 8th of July, seven hundred Polish guns have passed through to date, including nearly 200 heavy guns.


Victory Celebrations in London.


The great victory march through the beflagged and decorated streets of London was held on Saturday last, amidst scenes of unexampled enthusiasm. The morning opened by being very overcast, with occasional showers, but it cleared up later and ………… (continued)

The rest of the four page broadsheet consists of reprinted British and world news, articles and jokes - a sample is here. Also a few letters and comments by servicemen in North Russia - none of which throw much light on their situation. The editorial address follows:


Item 14 - Photographs of Royal Navy Men and Craft of the North Russian Expeditionary Force


Handwritten note - P.O. Mess H.M.S. "Borodino" North Dvina River 31.8.1919 at Yakolevskol. North Russian Expeditionary Force

Reverse similar, but adds SNO(R) - Senior Navy Officer (Russia)

Handwritten note - Signal & W/T Staff onboard wood burning Russian Paddle Steamer "Borodin" at Troitsa, North Dvina River, Russia 1919 -

Key: X DSM's, + MSM, O me (i.e. PO Smith)

Reverse handwritten note - Mining Barge for mining North Dvina River

Notes found elsewhere in scrapbook - "Mining Barge loaded with magnetic mines on the North Dvina River, Russia off Troitsa. These mines were dropped by us before the evacuation to prevent the Bolshevik Gunboats from harassing our rear whilst evacuation"

No notes - Appears to be Royal Marine contingent photographed in same location as Signal & W/T staff

Handwritten note - lying alongside HMS Hyderabad, seaplanes on beach July 8th 1919

On reverse - C.M.B.s alongside Hyderabad showing the woods on the left from which we had to retire during the attack on the 7th, 8th & 9th July 1919

(Note: boats from right 77, 35, ?86 or 36 - makes them 11t, 55ft types)

Notes, some indecipherable, found elsewhere in scrapbook - "Coastal Motor Boats lying alongside H.M.S. Hyderabad, seaplanes on beach. During the ?mutiny the Bolsheviks by a surprise attack on morning of 8th July drove us back for three miles & penetrated to the edge of the woods shown in the foreground, but were driven ???? ??th he ????ss by our counter-attack on the afternoon of July ?th"

Postcard & caption - Type of Coastal Motor Boat, famous for their Raiding "Stunts" against the Bolshevik Fleet (c Abraham 1237) - added note "D.L.1."

Handwritten note - This class of boat very useful for River work - over-powered, they were capable of towing 1,000 ton barges - also used for minesweeping. Speed about 14 knots. Crew of 5. Coxswain of this boat mentioned in despatches

Notes found elsewhere in scrapbook - "DLI Duty motor launch No.1. This class of boat was extremely useful for River work, being over engined they were capable of towing 1000 ton barges up the River. They were also used for minesweeping. Originally built for use at seaplane stations - speed about 14 knots. Crew of 5. Coxswain was mentioned in Despatches"


Item 15 - Miscellaneous Photograph and Captions Relating to North Russia

An additional photograph and photograph captions (but without the photographs) are included as a matter of record


Handwritten note -
Requisitioned Russian paddle steamer "Borodino"

(note - name on paddle guard; used as S.N.O. headquarters ship)

Captions of Three Missing Photographs 1. "Officers and men composing the crews of the Coastal Motor Boats used by the British in their operations against the Bolsheviks, but owing to the large ?draught of the water and the shallowness of the River during the latter part of the operations, they were not the success they were expected to be, although they did valuable work. Commanded by Lieut ?Dickinson ("Stormy") D.S.O. in C.M.B. 77."

2. "Cricket damaged in action. Cicala mined. Glowworm, Cockchafer severely damaged through explosion of ammunition barge off Beresnik. The Glowworm having 42 killed and wounded"

3. ""Fandango" blown up my a mine off Troitsa & totally wrecked 2 officers & 7 men killed"




Location of Troitsa

Locating Troitsa has always been a problem. I am therefore grateful to Donald Witte, from Holland for pinning-down the location. His comments follow:

"This 'place' seems to have played an important role in the campaign. Various locations mentioned in "M33 - A Diary" cannot be found on Google earth/maps, because some locations were no more than a few houses, and not real towns. Another problem is that town names have changed. On the following old map, you can see a whole string of names along the river including Troitsa, but if you look at the same area with satellite images there is nothing to be seen. Some locations such as Troitsa are no more than a few house in a loose formation.

I am happy to see that the HM Monitor M33 (HMS MINERVA) has been restored in Portsmouth. In the early 1990s I was based in Portsmouth Dockyard (I'm a retired Warrant Officer of the RNlN and was on a 3 1/2 year exchange with your RN, worked in the then FOSF, and lived in Gosport with my family). The future of MINERVA was then unsure and I visited her a few times during lunch breaks etc. having a chat and a cuppa with the few volunteers who were trying to restore her. She looked in a pretty sad state (no guns etc.) compared to the present time."



revised 4/9/11