Infomotions, Inc.in Siberia / Ward, John



Author: Ward, John
Title: in Siberia
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Tag(s): omsk; russian; koltchak; bolshevik; czech; japanese; admiral koltchak; siberia; russia; railway; british; colonel; allied; general knox; supreme governor; omsk government; major pichon
Contributor(s): Streatfeild, R. A. (Richard Alexander), 1866-1919 [Editor]
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Title: With the "Die-Hards" in Siberia

Author: John Ward

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With the "Die-Hards" in Siberia

By Col. John Ward
C.B., C.M.G., M.P.

With Eight Plates

1920







To MY COMRADES

OFFICERS, N.C.O.s AND MEN OF THE
18th, 19th, 25th AND 26th BATTALIONS OF
THE MIDDLESEX REGIMENT

who, on sea and land, in sunshine and snow, so
worthily upheld the traditional gallantry and
honour of their people and country




FORWARD

Originally written for the private use of my sons in case I did not
return, this narrative of events connected with the expedition to
Siberia must of necessity lack many of the necessary elements which go
to make a history. I wrote of things as they occurred, and recorded the
reasons and motives which prompted the participants. Many things have
happened since which seem to show that we were not always right in our
estimate of the forces at work around us. Things are not always what
they seem, and this is probably more evident in the domain of Russian
affairs than in any other. It would have been comparatively easy to
alter the text and square it with the results, but that would have
destroyed the main value of the story.

The statesman and the soldier rarely write history; it is their
misfortune to make it. It is quite easy to be a prophet when you know
the result. You can, as a rule, judge what a certain set of people will
do in a certain set of circumstances, but where you deal with State
policy which may be influenced by events and circumstances which have
not the remotest connection with the question involved, it is impossible
to give any forecast of their conduct on even the most elementary
subject.

The recent tragic events played out in the vast domain of Siberia are a
case in point. It is certain that Admiral Koltchak would never have gone
to Siberia, nor have become the head of the constitutional movement and
government of Russia, if he had not been advised and even urged to do so
by the Allies. He received the most categorical promises of
whole-hearted support and early Allied recognition before he agreed to
take up the dangerous duty of head of the Omsk Government. Had these
urgings and promises been ungrudgingly performed a Constituent Assembly
would be now sitting at Moscow hammering out the details of a Federal
Constitution for a mighty Russian Republic or a parliamentary system
similar to our own.

On the declaration of the Koltchak Government, General Denikin, General
Dutoff, General Hovart, and the North Russian Governments made over
their authority to Omsk. There was at once a clear issue--the Terrorist
at Moscow, the Constitutionalist at Omsk. Had the Allies at this
juncture translated their promises into acts, from what untold suffering
Russia and Europe might have been saved!

The mere act of recognition would have created a wonderful impression on
the Russian mind, in addition to giving the Allies a lever by which they
could have guided the course of events and stabilised the Baltic. It
would have given security to Russian finance, and enabled trade
relations to have commenced with the wealthiest part of the Russian
dominions.

The reconstruction of Russia, about which the Allies talk so glibly,
would have gone forward with a bound by natural means, which not even
Allied bungling could have prevented. The Omsk Government could have got
money on better terms than any of the Allies, because, accepted within
the comity of nations, it could have given better security than any of
them, even including America. Europe would have been fed, Russia would
have been clothed, and the world would have been saved from its greatest
tragedies. All this and more would have naturally followed from the
barest performance of our promises.

We did worse than this. Breach of promise is only a negative crime. The
Allies went to the other extreme; their help took the form of positive
wilful obstruction. The Japanese, by bolstering up Semianoff and
Kalmakoff, and the Americans, by protecting and organising enemies, made
it practically impossible for the Omsk Government to maintain its
authority or existence. The most that could be expected was that both
would see the danger of their policy in time to avert disaster. One did;
the other left when the evils created had got beyond control. Koltchak
has not been destroyed so much by the acts of his enemies as by the
stupidity and neglect of his Allied friends.

As the Bolshevik rabble again sweeps over Siberia in a septic flood we
hear again the question: "How can they do so unless they have a majority
of the people behind them?" I answer that by asking: "How did a one-man
government exist in Russia from 'Ivan the Terrible' to Nicholas II?"
Both systems are autocratic; both exist by the same means--"Terror."
There is, however, this difference. The autocracy of the Tsars was a
natural product from an early form of human society. The Bolshevik
autocracy is an unnatural product, and therefore carries within itself
the seed of its own destruction. It is an abortion, and unless it
rapidly changes its character cannot hope to exist as a permanent form
of organised society. It is a disease which, if we cannot attack, we can
isolate until convalescence sets in. There is, however, the possibility
that the patient during the progress of the malady may become delirious
and run amok; for these more dangerous symptoms it would be well for his
neighbours to keep watch and guard. This madness can only be temporary.
This great people are bound to recover, and become all the stronger for
their present trials.

JOHN WARD.

February, 1920.




CONTENTS

CHAPTER

 1. FROM HONG-KONG TO SIBERIA
 2. BOLSHEVIK SUCCESSES
 3. JAPAN INTERVENES
 4. THE BATTLE OF DUKOVESKOIE AND KRAEVESK
 5. JAPANESE METHODS AND ALLIED FAR-EASTERN POLICY
 6. ADMINISTRATION
 7. FURTHER INCIDENTS OF OUR JOURNEY
 8. BEYOND THE BAIKAL
 9. OMSK
10. ALONG THE URALS
11. WHAT HAPPENED AT OMSK
12. THE CAPTURE OF PERM: THE CZECHS RETIRE FROM THE FIGHTING
13. THE DECEMBER ROYALIST AND BOLSHEVIST CONSPIRACY
14. A BOMBSHELL FROM PARIS AND THE EFFECT
15. MORE INTRIGUES
16. RUSSIAN LABOUR
17. MY CAMPAIGN
18. OMSK RE-VISITED
19. IN EUROPEAN RUSSIA
20. MAKING AN ATAMAN
21. HOMEWARD BOUND
22. AMERICAN POLICY AND ITS RESULTS
23. JAPANESE POLICY AND ITS RESULTS
24. GENERAL CONCLUSIONS




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

COL. JOHN WARD, C.B., C.M.G., M.P. _Frontispiece_

LANDING OF THE 25TH MIDDLESEX AT VLADIVOSTOK

ALLIED COMMANDERS IN FRONT OF HEADQUARTERS AT VLADIVOSTOK

GEN. DETRIKS (CZECH) AND COL. WARD AFTER THE ALLIED COUNCIL at
VLADIVOSTOK

A CONFERENCE OUTSIDE HEADQUARTERS WAGON.

COL. WARD AND THE CZECH LEADER (COL. STEPHAN) EXAMINING THE USSURIE
FRONT

BRITISH PARADE AT OMSK

RUSSIAN HEADQUARTERS "STAFFKA," OMSK

BRITISH STAFF AND C.O.'s WAGON

ARRIVAL OF THE BRITISH AT IRKUTSK

ADMIRAL KOLTCHAK




WITH THE "DIE-HARDS" IN SIBERIA





CHAPTER I

FROM HONG-KONG TO SIBERIA


The 25th Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment had already such a record
of travel and remarkable experiences to its credit that it was in quite
a matter-of-fact way I answered a summons from Headquarters at
Hong-Kong, one morning in November, 1917, and received the instruction
to hold myself and my battalion in readiness to proceed to a destination
unknown. Further conferences between the heads of departments under the
presidency of the G.O.C., Major-General F. Ventris, revealed that the
operations of the battalion were to be conducted in a very cold climate,
and a private resident at tiffin that day at the Hong-Kong Club simply
asked me "at what date I expected to leave for Vladivostok?"

The preparations were practically completed when orders to cease them
were received from the War Office at home, followed by a cable (some
time in January, 1918) to cancel all orders relating to the proposed
expedition. So we again settled down in Far Eastern home quietly to
await the end of the war, when we hoped to return to the Great Old
Country and resume the normal life of its citizens.

Things remained in this condition until June, 1918, when we were
suddenly startled by an order to call upon the half of my battalion
stationed at Singapore to embark on the first ship available and join me
at Hong-Kong. This seemed to suggest that the truly wonderful thing
called "Allied Diplomacy" had at last made up its mind to do something.
After a great deal of bustle and quite unnecessary fuss the whole
battalion embarked on the _Ping Suie_ on a Saturday in July, 1918.

It should be remembered that my men were what were called "B one-ers,"
and were equipped for the duty of that grade; but, after our arrival at
Hong-Kong, Headquarters had called in most of our war material to
replenish the dwindling supplies of this most distant outpost of the
British Empire. Very little information could be gathered as to the kind
of duty we might expect to be called upon to perform, and the ignorance
of the Staff as to the nature of the country through which we were to
operate was simply sublime. Added to this, most of the new material with
which we were fitted was quite useless for our purpose. Those things
which had been collected on the first notice of movement in 1917 had
been dispersed, and the difficulty of securing others at short notice
was quite insurmountable.

The voyage was not remarkable except that one typhoon crossed our track
not ten miles astern, and for eighteen miles we travelled alongside
another, the heavy seas striking the ship nearly abeam, and causing her
to roll in a very alarming manner. The troops had a very uncomfortable
time, and were glad to sight the coast of Korea and the calm waters of
the Sea of Japan.

At Hong-Kong many of the men, including myself, had suffered much from
prickly heat, which had developed in many cases into huge heat boils. It
was very strange how rapidly these irruptions cured themselves directly
we reached the cool, clear atmosphere of the coast of Japan.

Elaborate preparations had been made for our reception, insomuch that we
were the first contingent of Allied troops to arrive at Vladivostok. Two
Japanese destroyers were to have acted as our escort from the lighthouse
outside, but they were so busy charting the whole coastline for future
possibilities that they forgot all about us until we had arrived near
the inner harbour, when they calmly asked for our name and business.
Early next morning, August 3, they remembered their orders and escorted
us to our station at the wharf, past the warships of the Allied nations
gaily decorated for the occasion.

At 10 A.M. a battalion of Czech troops, with band and a guard of honour
from H.M.S. _Suffolk_, with Commodore Payne, R.N., Mr. Hodgson, the
British Consul, the President of the Zemstrov Prava, and Russian and
Allied officials, were assembled on the quay to receive me. As I
descended the gangway ladder the Czech band struck up the National
Anthem, and a petty officer of the _Suffolk_ unfurled the Union Jack,
while some of the armed forces came to the present and others saluted.
It made quite a pretty, interesting and immensely impressive scene. The
battalion at once disembarked, and led by the Czech band and our
splendid sailors from the _Suffolk_, and accompanied by a tremendous
crowd of people, marched through the town to a saluting point opposite
the Czech Headquarters, where parties of Czech, Cossack and Russian
troops, Japanese, American and Russian sailors were drawn up, all of
whom (except the Japanese) came to the present as we passed, while
Commodore Payne took the salute for the Allied commanders, who were all
present.

Our barracks were outside the town at Niloy-ugol; they were very dirty,
with sanitary arrangements of the most primitive character, though I
believe the local British authorities had spent both time and money in
trying to make them habitable. The officers' accommodation was no
better, I and my Staff having to sleep on very dirty and smelly floors.
A little later, however, even this would have been a treat to a weary
old soldier.

On August 5 I attended the Allied commanders' council. There were many
matters of high policy discussed at this meeting, but one subject was of
intense interest. General Detriks, the G.O.C. of the Czech troops, gave
in reports as to the military situation on the Manchurian and Ussurie
fronts. The conditions on the Manchurian front were none too good, but
those on the Ussurie front could only be described as critical, and
unless immediate help could be given a further retirement would be
forced upon the commander, who had great difficulty with his small
forces in holding any position. The Ussurie force had recently
consisted of some 3,000 indifferently armed Czechs and Cossacks. The day
I landed a battle had been fought, which had proved disastrous, and
resulted in a hurried retirement to twelve versts to the rear of
Kraevesk. The Allied force, now reduced to about 2,000 men, could not
hope to hold up for long a combined Bolshevik, German and Magyar force
of from 18,000 to 20,000 men. The Bolshevik method of military
organisation,--namely, of "Battle Committees," which decided what
superior commands should be carried out or rejected--had been swept away
and replaced by the disciplined methods of the German and Austrian
officers, who had now assumed command. Should another retirement be
forced upon the Ussurie forces, it could be carried out only with great
loss, both of men and material. The next position would be behind
Spascoe, with Lake Hanka as a protection on the left flank and the
forest on the right. If this could not be held, then the railway
junction at Nikolsk would be endangered, with the possibility of the
communications being cut with other forces operating along the
Transbaikal Railway and at Irkutsk. Under these circumstances the
council decided that there was nothing left but to ask for authority
from the War Office to send my battalion forward at once to the Ussurie
front to render what assistance was possible. I naturally pointed out
that my battalion was composed of B1 men, most of whom had already done
their "bit" on other fronts, and that a few weeks before I had had about
250 General Service men in my ranks, but on a blundering suggestion of
the G.O.C. at Singapore they had been taken from my unit and transferred
to others doing garrison duty in India. I had protested against this at
the time, but had been over-ruled by London, so that my command was
reduced to men of the lowest category. However, after making this
statement I informed the council that in view of the desperate
circumstances in which the Ussurie force was placed I would render every
assistance in my power.

About 2 P.M. Commodore Payne, R.N., came to my quarters and showed me a
paraphrased cable he had received from the War Office. The cable
authorised the immediate dispatch of half my battalion to the front,
subject to the approval of the commanding officer. It seems to me they
might have plucked up courage enough to decide the matter for
themselves, instead of putting the responsibility upon the local
commander. As it was left to me, however, I gave the necessary orders at
once. That very night, August 5, I marched through Vladivostok to
entrain my detachment. It consisted of 500 fully equipped infantry and a
machine-gun section of forty-three men with four heavy-type maxims.
Leaving my second in command, Major F.J. Browne, in charge of the Base,
I marched with the men with full pack. The four miles, over heavy, dirty
roads, were covered in fair time, though many of the men became very
exhausted, and at the end of the march I found myself carrying four
rifles, while other officers carried packs in addition to their own kit.

The train was composed of the usual hopeless-looking Russian
cattle-trucks for the men, with tiers of planks for resting and sleeping
on. A dirty second-class car was provided for the Commanding Officer and
his Staff, and a well-lighted first-class bogey car of eight
compartments for the British Military Representative, who was merely
travelling up to see the sights. When I got to the front I found a
first-class car retained by every little officer who commanded a dozen
Cossacks, but I proudly raised the Union Jack, to denote the British
Headquarters, on the dirtiest and most dilapidated second-class
contraption that could be found on the line. But of course we meant
business; we were not out for pleasure.

I was advised before I started from Vladivostok that Nikolsk, the
junction of the Manchurian and Central Siberian Railways, was the most
important strategical point on the South Siberian end of the line, and
that though the position on the Ussurie was pretty hopeless and
retirement might take place at any moment, we were not in any
circumstances to retire below Nikolsk. The place to which we were to
retire and take up a new position had been already decided--a line just
below Spascoe, with Lake Hanka on the left and a line of forest-covered
mountains on the right.

We arrived at Nikolsk in the early morning, but the platform was crowded
with inhabitants and two guards of honour, Czech and Cossack, with band,
which mistook "Rule Britannia" for the National Anthem. I was introduced
to all the officers, the British Vice-Consul, Mr. Ledwards, and his
energetic wife. Breakfast was served to the men by the other corps, and
my officers received the hospitality of the good Consul and Mrs.
Ledwards. Then a march through the town, to show the inhabitants that
the long-sought-for Allied assistance had really arrived at last.

It appears that a very sanguine French officer had travelled over the
line some months previously and had made lavish promises of Allied
support, which accounts, perhaps, for my previous orders received at
Hong-Kong towards the end of 1917. The Allies had decided to make a much
earlier effort to reconstruct the Russian line against their German
enemies, but, like all Allied efforts, their effective action had been
frustrated by divided counsels and stupid national jealousy.

It was the prospect of Falkenhayn, with the huge army of half a million
men, flushed with its recent easy victory over Rumania, being freed for
employment on the French front, that caused our hurried over-late
expedition to Siberia. If the effort had been made at the right time the
Russian people and soldiery would not have become so demoralised and
hopeless as they had when I arrived, and millions of lives would have
been saved from untold tortures. A famous statesman once sternly
admonished his colleagues for their fatal policy of doing nothing until
it was too late; in this case he himself is open to the same censure.

At Nikolsk had recently been fought an important battle between the
Czechs and the Terrorists, and we were shown a series of photographs of
horribly mutilated Czech soldiers who had fallen into the hands of the
Bolshevik army as prisoners of war. By a section of people at home the
Bolsheviks are thought to be a party of political and democratic
idealists, but when one is brought face to face with their work they are
then proved to be a disgusting gang of cut-throats, whose sole business
in life appears to be to terrorise and rob the peasant and worker and
make orderly government impossible.

We received equally warm welcomes at many other stations, and at length
we arrived at Svagena, which is the last fairly large town before
Kraevesk, the station without a town, and very near the range of hostile
artillery. Here quite a full-dress programme was gone through by the
Czech band and the Czech and Cossack soldiers, ending with a short march
past, and speeches by the English and Russian commanders. My speech was
made along the lines of my instructions, which were mostly to this
effect: We Britishers had entered the territory of Holy Russia not as
conquerors, but as friends. The Bolshevik power had made a corrupt and
dishonourable compact with their German masters, by which the
territories of their Motherland, Russia, had been torn from her side,
and a huge indemnity wrung from her people. Under German pressure the
Bolshevik Soviet power had armed the released German and Austrian
prisoners of war, and by means of this alien force was terrorising the
Russian people and destroying the country. The Allies looked upon the
Bolshevik power as a mere hireling branch of the autocratic German
menace, and as such the enemies of British and Russian democracy alike.
We came to help, resurrect and reconstruct the orderly elements of
Russian life, and promised that if they would join us in this crusade,
we would never cease our efforts till both our enemies were utterly
defeated. And here the soldiers of the two nations made their pact, and
though it was not an official utterance it had official sanction. My
troops retired to quarters at Spascoe, which I had made my forward base.

Next morning, August 7, with my interpreter, Lieutenant Bolsaar, I
visited Kraevesk, and had a long consultation with the commander at the
front, Captain Pomerensiv. I personally examined the line right up to
the outposts, and eventually it was decided that I would send forward
243 men with four maxims to take up a position towards what I considered
to be the threatened part of our right flank. As I was senior officer,
Captain Pomerensiv handed the command of this front over to me,
promising all help.

Once in the saddle I asked for intelligence reports from all directions,
and found it impossible for the enemy to make a frontal attack down the
narrow space of the railway, flanked as it was on both sides by
impassable marshes. The enemy centre was at Shmakovka, the place from
which the Czechs had been forced to retire: that day, however, he had
been observed moving a company of about 180 men with three machine guns
along the road towards Uspenkie, a small town situated on our extreme
right front. After consultation with Captain Stephan, Czech commander,
and Ataman Kalmakoff, commanding the Cossacks, I decided to take the
necessary steps to destroy this recently formed outpost. Ataman
Kalmakoff had that morning announced to me his intention to leave my
front and make a wide detour on the right behind the hills, and join his
Cossack friends at Iman. I discovered that he was dissatisfied with the
lack of enterprise hitherto shown on this front, and had decided to make
a raid "on his own" on the rear of the enemy. But the moment I stated my
intention to mop up Uspenkie he fell into line, and forgot all about his
previous ill-humour. He took up an advanced position at Olhanka,
reconnoitred the Uspenkie position the next day, and unmasked the
Bolshevik formation, with a loss of two horses and a Cossack badly
wounded. I formed my plans on his observations.

My scheme was to advance one company of Czech troops from Khamerovka to
Olhanka, the Ataman's most forward post on my right front, where they
were to prepare a small entrenched camp. I would also advance 200
infantry with two machine guns the first night from Kraevesk to
Khamerovka.

The next day I ordered 200 men to entrain from Spascoe to Kraevesk to
act as a reserve. They were to night march to Khamerovka, and occupy the
place of my forward party, who would advance by night and join the
Cossacks and Czech troops at Olhanka. I would be with the advanced group
and make a daylight examination of the post to be attacked, and be
joined at night by my second detachment from Khamerovka. By this means I
should have had 400 British rifles, a machine-gun section of forty-three
men with four maxims, a company of Czech infantry of about 200 men, and
last, but by no means least, Ataman Kalmakoff with about 400 Cossack
cavalry--a total of about 1,000 men. I ordered the two roads along which
any reinforcements for the enemy post must pass to be patrolled at night
and also closely observed during the day.

I had drawn up my plan of attack and the first stage of the operation
had actually been executed, when I was brought to a sudden standstill by
a piece of fussy interference.

There was no linguist in my battalion capable of speaking Russian
sufficiently well for my purpose, hence I had to seek the services of an
agent of the British Military Representative at "Vlady." This agent
returned to "Vlady" directly the necessary arrangements for the attack
had been completed. I ought to have compelled him to remain with me, but
as he appeared to favour the proposed forward movement I did not scent
any danger to my purely defensive policy. He did not wait until he had
reported to the Military Representative, but when only half way
telegraphed from Nikolsk warning me that in his opinion this forward
movement should not take place, as he had already received important
information which altered the entire situation. I ignored this
interference of an understraper, but a few hours later received definite
instructions from the Political Representative, that I was to stand
purely on the defensive, and not move an inch beyond my position. I was
compelled to accept the instruction, but was disgusted with the
decision. It proved to me in a forcible way what I had never realised
before, how impossible it is for a man at a distance, however clever he
may be, to decide a military problem, limited in locality and isolated,
as was this case, from questions of public policy. When the one purpose
of a force is the protection or maintenance of a limited front, only the
man on the spot can be the judge of what is necessary to accomplish that
purpose.

My actual plan of operations was very simple. Having assembled my force
at Olhanka, I should at dusk have occupied the roads leading from
Shmakovka to Uspenkie, and from Uspenkie to the monastery by cavalry,
thus making it impossible for enemy reinforcements to reach the post to
be attacked under the cover of night. My own troops, together with the
Czech company, would have approached the position from the south, and
during the hours of darkness have taken up a line within rifle- and
machine-gun range. At daybreak fire would have been opened from such
cover as could be obtained, and while our eight machine-gunners barraged
the post, the infantry would have advanced rapidly on the south front at
the same time as the Cossacks charged in from the rear. The result would
have been as certain as anything in war could be, and, as since then I
have met the Bolsheviks in open fight, I am convinced that this small
effort might have had decisive political and military influence in
Eastern Siberia. But the "politicals" in uniform are not always noted
for daring, and in this case were very timid indeed, and our position
grew worse from day to day.

I made the best dispositions possible in view of my cautious
instructions, and soon every man, British, Czech and Cossack, was imbued
with a determination to baulk the enemy's eastward ambitions at all
costs. The numbers I had brought to their assistance were nothing
compared to the influence of the sight of the poor, frayed and dirty
Union Jack that floated from my Headquarters, and the songs of the
Tommies round the mosquito fires in the bivouac at night. These two
factors together changed the whole atmosphere surrounding the valiant,
ill-fed and ill-equipped Czech soldiers.

The day following the night I had fixed for the destruction of the enemy
outpost two companies of enemy infantry and three guns marched out of
Shmakovka as a reinforcement to the debatable position. I watched
through my binoculars their slow movement along the dusty road. I judged
what the enemy's intentions were, and knew also that I was powerless to
prevent them. He quickly placed his guns in position, and the following
day sent a few trial shots at Kalmakoff's position at Olhanka; after
getting the range he ceased fire. About 11 P.M. the flash of guns was
observed on our right, which continued until midnight. At 12.30 the
field telephone informed me that the Czech company I had pushed forward,
together with Kalmakoff's Cossacks, had been shelled out of their
positions at Olhanka and were retreating along the Khamerovka and
Runovka roads. I disregarded the imperative instructions I had received
from "Vlady" not to move, and advanced my detachment by a midnight march
to occupy a position where I could protect the bridges and cover the
retreat of our friends. Had I failed to perform this simple soldierly
duty we should have placed ourselves in a ridiculous position in the
eyes of our Russian and Czech comrades. But though I acted against
orders, I think in the circumstances I was fully justified in doing so.

The Czech company retired safely behind the river at Khamerovka, and
Kalmakoff's Cossacks took up a new position at Runovka, where he could
still hang on to the skirts of the enemy and keep constant observation
upon his movements. I retired to a bivouac of branches and marsh grass
behind "Lookout Hill," where for a fortnight I carried on constant
warfare against infected waters and millions of mosquitoes, without
transport, tents, nets, or any of the ordinary equipment required by
such an expedition. I admit that my ignorance of the conditions which
might be expected to prevail in Siberia was colossal, but so also was
that of those whose duty it was to have made themselves acquainted with
the situation.

At Hong-Kong I had suggested that we might find tents useful, but the
proposal was turned down, either because there was none or because they
were considered quite unnecessary. I asked timidly whether I should
require mosquito nets, and well remember the scorn with which the Chief
of Staff greeted my question. "Who ever heard of mosquitoes in Siberia?"
Well, the fact is that while there are a few in the tropics, there are
swarms of these pests all over Siberia. In the tropics their size
prevents them from doing much damage, except as malaria carriers. In
Siberia they take the shape of big, ugly winged spiders, which will suck
your blood through a thick blanket as easily as if you had nothing on.
They have a knack of fixing themselves in one's hair below the cap and
raising swollen ridges round one's head until it is painful to wear any
headgear at all. In my case my wrists were puffed out level with my
hands. After sleeping, one woke unable to open one's eyes. The absence
of any protection wore out the patience and nerves of the men, and the
searching Bolshevik shells were accepted as a welcome diversion.

No blame was attached to my chiefs; I was fully equipped as a B1
Garrison battalion, and as such I was dispatched to Vladivostok. I was
sent there to perform a certain duty, but on arrival was at once called
upon to perform another of quite a different character. I had to carry
out the duties of a first-line service battalion with the personnel and
equipment of second grade garrison troops. Whether those with whom the
order originated in London were aware of the nature of the duty I was
expected to perform I do not know; but it is obviously dangerous to send
British troops of any category to an actual scene of operations and
expect them to stand idle, uninterested spectators of the struggles of
their friends. They should either be kept away or sent ready for all
emergencies.




CHAPTER II

BOLSHEVIK SUCCESSES


The outflanking movement by the enemy which I had anticipated from the
day I first took over the command, and which I had made my plans to
counteract, was now in full swing, but so far no damage to our main
position had been effected.

General Detriks visited the front and informed me that the Allied
Council had chosen Major Pichon, of the French detachment which was
timed to arrive next day, to take over the command of this front. After
a personal inspection he expressed himself as satisfied with my
dispositions and suggested that I should still retain the command, and
that he would see that the decision relating to Major Pichon's
appointment was reconsidered in view of the changed conditions he now
found. But I could see that a revision of the Allied Council's
resolution might affect French _amour propre_, and place both Council
and commander in an anomalous position. I therefore requested General
Detriks to take no steps to alter the resolution of the Allied Council,
and stated that I would gladly serve under Major Pichon or any other
commander elected by the Council. British prestige, I added, was too
well established for such trifles to be considered when the only reason
for our presence was to help our Czech and Russian friends. He,
however, pointed out that it was impossible to allow a British colonel
to serve under a French major, and that my command must be considered
quite an independent one.

Major Pichon arrived on August 18, 1918, and I formally handed over the
command. He asked me to consider myself as jointly responsible for the
operations on that front, and said that we would from time to time
consult together as to any action that might be necessary. I found him
both polite and considerate and most anxious to meet the wishes of the
several parts of his command; in fact, he was a gentleman whom it was a
pleasure to meet and work with. His battalion-commander, Major Malley,
was equally urbane, and together I think we made a very happy
combination.

The great outstanding personality of this front was Captain Stephan, the
commander of the 8th Czech Battalion. Originally a brewer of Prague, he
had been compelled on the outbreak of war to join the Austrian Army. He
had done his duty as a soldier of that effete Monarchy, been captured by
the Russians, and while a prisoner of war had been liberated by the
Revolution; he was one of the men who had organised their fellow exiles
and offered their services to France and the Allied cause, believing
that in the success of England's arms was to be found the liberation of
their beloved Bohemia. I asked him why he had offered his services to
France, and his answer and his compatriots' answer was always the same:
"It is to great England we always look to as our saviour, but the German
armies are in France, and to meet our enemies on the field of battle
was, and always will be, the first ambition of every Czech soldier, for
if England says we are a nation, we know we shall be."

I must say I felt flattered by the almost childlike confidence which
Pole, Czech and Russian had in the name and honour of England. We were
undoubtedly the only nation represented on this front and in Siberia
generally against whom not one word of suspicion was directed. I
naturally expected that the prestige of France, in view of her pre-war
alliance with Russia, would be very great, but from the closest
observation of all ranks of Russian society I think it would be
impossible to say which was most suspected in the Russian mind, France,
America or Japan. The presence, however, of French soldiers, and the
politeness of the French officers, may do much to generate a warmer
feeling in Russia towards France. The presence of the soldiers of the
Rising Sun, and the manners and general attitude of her officers towards
the Siberian population, will, if persisted in, certainly result in
changing fear to universal hate.

On the afternoon of his arrival an important movement of enemy forces on
our right front caused Major Pichon to ride through my bivouac, when he
was formally introduced to the officers and men under my command. Later
he informed me that he did not consider the movement sufficiently
important to make any change in our dispositions necessary. Towards dusk
Captain Stephan, accompanied by his adjutant, rode up and reported an
important movement of enemy forces towards Runovka, our solitary
remaining position on the opposite side of the river, which formed the
natural defence and limit of our right flank. Again I was asked to move
forward to render such assistance as might be necessary in case our
right were forced to retire across the river. We marched forward in the
darkness with the flash of the Bolshevik guns lighting up the way, but
as their attention was entirely directed to our outpost at Runovka, we
were as safe as if we had been in Hyde Park. The Czechs have a fatal
preference for woods as a site for defensive works, and they selected a
wood on the left flank of the road for my position. I rejected their
plan, and chose a position about two hundred yards in front of the wood
at a point where the roads cross, and a fold in the ground, aided by the
tall marsh grass, almost entirely hid us from the observation-post of
the enemy. Millions of mosquitoes, against which we had no protection
whatever, attacked us as we began to entrench, but officers and men all
worked with a will, and by dawn we had almost completed what was
probably the best system of field-works so far constructed on this
front. How we wished we might see the enemy advance over the river and
attempt to deploy within range of our rifles! He had by vigorous
artillery fire driven our remaining Czech company across the river, and
so had become complete master of the other side.

It was here that a second chance came to deal effectively with this
attempt to outflank our entire position. A sudden dash across the bend
of the river in the north-eastern corner at Khamerovka on to the
unprotected line of enemy communications would have resulted in a
complete frustration of the enemy plans, with a fair prospect of his
decisive defeat. I even suggested this, but had to confess that I had
moved forward twice, contrary to my imperative orders, and that unless I
chose to run the risk of court-martial, if not dismissal, I could not
join in the attack, though I would come to the rescue. This was too
ambiguous for the other leaders, and the opportunity was allowed to
pass.

Shortly after, I met an old tramp with his pack, and handed him over to
my liaison officer. We could not very well detain him as he had already
in his possession a Czech and a French passport, but afterwards I much
regretted that I had not perforated his papers with a bullet as they
rested in his breast pocket. He tramped along the road, and my sentries
deflected his course away from the trenches, but he saw my men scattered
about in the wood behind, and at daybreak the enemy artillery began to
spatter the wood with a plentiful supply of shrapnel and shells. One
dropped within twenty yards of myself and officers whilst at breakfast;
pitching just under a tree, it lifted it into the air in a truly
surprising manner. The number of shells--some of which were German
make--the enemy wasted on that wood proclaimed an abundant supply of
ammunition. To this persistent shelling we had nothing to reply, and at
last from sheer exhaustion the enemy fire died down. With darkness he
began again, and the feeble reply of three small mountain guns, which
we knew were with the Runovka Cossack outpost, indicated that an attack
was developing in that direction.

The unequal duel continued intermittently until 2 A.M., when a field
telephone message informed me that Runovka had been abandoned, that the
Czech company was retiring across our front, and that Kalmakoff's
Cossacks were retiring over the river lower down and taking up a
position at Antonovka on our extreme right rear. This meant that our
whole defensive positions were completely turned, and the next enemy
move would place him near our lines of communication.

This, however, was not our only difficulty. Until two days previous we
had been able to give an occasional shot in return for the many sent
towards us; then the Bolshevik gunners found the mark on the two guns
whose duty it was to prevent an advance along the railway, and our two
and only field guns were called in to fill the gap, leaving the infantry
without any artillery protection. I cabled to Commodore Payne, R.N., who
commanded H.M.S. _Suffolk_, at Vladivostok, informing him of our
critical position and asked him to send such artillery assistance as was
possible. The commodore was as prompt as is expected of the Navy. In an
incredibly short space of time he fitted up an armoured train with two
12-pounder Naval guns and two machine guns, and dispatched it at express
speed to my assistance, with a second similar train following behind,
the whole being under the command of Captain Bath, R.M.L.I. It is
scarcely possible to describe the feeling of relief with which our
exhausted and attenuated forces welcomed this timely aid from our
ever-ready Navy. It enabled us to bring the two Czech guns into position
to keep down the fire of the enemy, and gave us a sense of security in
that our rear was safe in case retirement should be forced upon us. It
put new heart into the men, though they never showed the slightest sign
of depression in spite of their many discomforts. The British soldier
certainly offers the most stolid indifference to the most unfavourable
situations.

The Bolshevik leaders were not long in showing their hand. They remained
silent during the following day, but at night they began to shell us
from their new position in Runovka itself, selecting as the site for
their two batteries the hill on which the Orthodox church stood, and
using the Greek tower as their post of observation.

About 9.30 A.M. an enemy armoured train moved slowly forward from
Shmakovka, followed by four others, which directed a flank fire at my
position. The shells all plunked into the marsh about four hundred yards
short, affording much amusement and causing many caustic Cockney
comments. Next came a troop train which gave us great hopes of a real
attack developing on our front, but our Naval 12-pounders on the
_Suffolk's_ armoured train began to do good practice, and a shot
registered on the front enemy engine caused volumes of steam to burst
from her sides, and great consternation suddenly appeared amongst the
trains' personnel. The Naval gunners did not seem inclined to lose the
mark, and so the whole attempt fizzled out, and the trains steamed back
to shelter.

The two old Czech field guns, which had been repaired by H.M.S.
_Suffolk's_ artificers at "Vlady," wheeled into position behind a fold
in the ground on our right rear and began a duel with the two enemy
batteries at Runovka. This duel was most entertaining. The enemy
artillery searched our wood and works, and the line of trees occupied by
the French was plentifully sprayed with shrapnel, but they failed to
locate our guns, or get anywhere near them, or indeed to cause a single
casualty either to man or horse. During the night a peasant gave the
guns' position away, and in the early morning exchanges one gun came to
grief. The remaining gun changed position, and the duel became still
more interesting. By skilful manoeuvring the gun was got much nearer,
and at once the range was obtained to a nicety. Every shot was placed so
near the mark as to rouse the infantry's obvious excitement to fever
heat, and finally a shell was planted right into the enemy observation
tower, setting it on fire and burning it to the ground. By placing four
shells near to hand, and working like Trojans, the Czech gunners fired
four shots so rapidly as to deceive the enemy into the belief that four
guns were now opposing them, and after about two hours of this relay
work the enemy batteries were beaten to a frazzle, and retired from the
unequal contest with two guns out of action. It was simply magnificent
as a display of real efficient gunnery. There is no doubt the enemy had
intended to make an effort to cross the river at Runovka and that his
artillery had been placed with a view to protecting the passage of his
troops. The young Czech gunnery lieutenant by his stratagem with one
solitary field-piece had made this plan appear impossible to the enemy
commander. Never was deception more complete.

Having felt our right flank and found it too strong, the enemy continued
his movement towards our right rear. He could only do this with safety
by correctly anticipating our strategy. He took our measure to a
military fraction. He saw that, though he offered the most tempting
bait, we made no effort to move forward to snap it up, and doubtless
came to the conclusion that we were chained to our positions by either
dearth of numbers or military incapacity. In the last stage of his
movement his communications stretched for twenty-three miles along our
flank, with three posts of just over one hundred men to protect his
supply trains. If the commander of that force is still alive he probably
has a poor opinion of the ability of his opponents. We were ready to
deal him a death-blow at any moment from the day he occupied Uspenkie
until he crossed the river before Antonovka. He and his column were only
saved by orders from Vladivostok.

For two days no movement was observable in the enemy lines, and it began
to look as though he would or could not take full advantage of his
extremely favourable position.

I had waged an unequal contest with millions of mosquitoes while trying
to sleep in a field telephone hut made of rough branches and marsh
grass. The Czech soldier who acted as operator had helped me as much as
possible, but at last in desperation I got up and walked about until the
wonderful colouring in the East heralded another glorious Siberian
summer day. The bluey-purple pall had given place to a beautiful
orange-tinted yellow such as I had never seen before. The sentry prodded
a sleeping Tommy who had a huge black frog sitting on the highest point
of his damp, dewy blanket, and a bugle glistening by his side. The
sleeper awoke, and after washing his lips at the tank, sounded the
soldiers' clarion call, the "Reveille." Instantly the whole bivouac was
alive, but scarcely had the bugle notes died away when the telephone
buzzer began to give forth a series of sharp, staccato sounds. The Czech
operator gave a sharp ejaculation, like "Dar! Dar! Dar!" looking more
serious as the sounds proceeded. He then calmly hung up the
speaking-tube on the tree that supported our home and began to explain
to my interpreter, Lieutenant Bolsaar, the message just received. It was
that Major Pichon wished to see me at his headquarters at once in
reference to the serious position of Antonovka. I mounted my horse,
"Nero," which was a beautiful present from Captain Pomerensiv on handing
over his command, and soon arrived at Kraevesk and heard the full story
of the surprise at Antonovka.

From Major Pichon I gathered that Ataman Kalmakoff with his Cossacks had
taken up a position on the high ground in the village of Antonovka,
keeping touch with the French on his left, and a company of the 5th
Battalion of Czechs on his right, who guarded the road to Svagena, and
that though he posted sentries in the usual way during the night, the
enemy in large numbers crept between them, and when the alarm was given
and Kalmakoff mounted his horse he found some thirty of his men already
wounded or dead and his machine guns in enemy hands. Most of his troops
were in a cul-de-sac, and had to charge a high fence and by the sheer
weight of their horses break a way out. Kalmakoff with a few Cossacks
tried to retake the guns with a superb charge, but though he got through
himself he lost more men, amongst whom was a splendid fellow, his second
in command, named Berwkoff, who was greatly loved by us all. A Magyar
soldier seeing Kalmakoff with his Ataman banner borne by his side, took
a point-blank shot at his head, but he forgot the high trajectory of the
old Russian rifle, and the bullet merely grazed the top of the Cossack
leader's head and sent his _papaha_ into the mud. His banner-bearer
could not see his leader's cap so left, and jumped off his horse to
rescue it. Raising the cap from the ground, he found himself challenged
with the bayonet by the same Magyar soldier. He had no time to draw, but
with a mighty sweep, sword in scabbard, he felled the Magyar to the
ground; he had no time to dispatch him, and was barely able to get away.

The Czech company was retiring slowly towards Svagena, and the Cossacks,
while keeping in touch with the enemy, were retiring towards the railway
on our rear. This was a very startling situation, and required immediate
action if we were not to be caught in a trap.

We both decided that a retirement was the only alternative to being
completely surrounded.

We there and then drew up the orders necessary to secure that the
retreat should be both methodical and orderly. The Czechs were to retire
first, past my lines, and entrain at Kraevesk, followed by the English
and the French, who were to bring up the rear, which was to be covered
by the English armoured train, assisted by the machine-gun section of
the Middlesex Regiment under Lieutenant King. So the evacuation of our
splendid position regretfully began.




CHAPTER III

JAPAN INTERVENES


It should be remembered that directly it was decided by the Paris
Council that a diversion through Russia was the surest way of relieving
pressure on the French front, the English apparently decided to be first
in. Though Japan was unquestionably in the most favourable position to
send help quickly, she was known to have German commitments of such a
character as precluded her from taking the lead in what was, at that
time, more an anti-Teutonic than pro-Russian expedition. Her Press was,
and had been all through the war, violently pro-German, and however much
the Tokio Cabinet might wish to remain true to the Anglo-Japanese
Treaty, it was forced to make a seeming obeisance to popular feeling in
Japan. If it had been only an English expedition, Japan's hand would not
have been forced; but the American cables began to describe the rapid
organisation by the U.S.A. of a powerful Siberian expedition, which gave
the Japanese Government ample justification--even in the eyes of her
pro-German propagandists--to prepare a still larger force to enable her
to shadow the Americans, and do a bit of business on her own. Several
months earlier Japanese suspicions had been aroused by the dispatch to
Siberia of an alleged civilian railway engineering force to help Russia
reorganise her railways, and the immense benefit that this force had
admittedly conferred on the Far Eastern populations was acknowledged on
all sides. But the very success of American enterprise in this
beneficent direction had created in the minds of the Japanese a doubt as
to the wisdom of allowing free play to American penetration.

Japan consequently hurried forward her preparations, and a few days
after I had taken over the Ussurie command her 12th Division, under the
command of General Oie, landed at Vladivostok. He at once established
his headquarters at Nikolsk, and his Chief of Staff, General Kanaka,
took up his position behind our lines at Svagena, using us as a screen
for the deployment of his command, which had already begun.

Major Pichon informed me that he had telephoned the Japanese general at
Nikolsk describing the new situation on our front, and asking him to
move up sufficient forces from Svagena to protect our right. I went to
my wagon to get breakfast. A little later Major Pichon informed me that
the Japanese commander had asked us to suspend our retirement as he was
moving up from Svagena a battery of artillery and one battalion of
infantry, who would re-establish the position at Antonovka on our right
rear, from which we need not fear any further danger. In consequence of
this message I ordered my men to re-occupy their old positions, and by
9.30 we had carried out the orders of the Japanese commander.

Having got back into our old position, we inquired the direction of the
Japanese advance that we might, if necessary, co-operate with their
movement, and to our utter consternation were informed that the Japanese
had not started, had no intention of doing so, and that we must take
what steps were necessary for our own safety, but if we retired at all
we were to fall back behind their lines and, we suppose, take no further
part in the operations.

The first promise of help and its countermanding had placed us in an
extremely dangerous situation. We had left our positions once, and
nothing but the lack of vigilance on the part of the enemy had enabled
us to reoccupy them without fighting. Our movements must have been seen,
and though he had not understood them till too late to take full
advantage the first time, that he would allow us to get away so easily
again seemed to us to be very unlikely. In fact, it appeared as though
we had been sacrificed to give a clear field for some manoeuvre or
purpose which we could not understand.

Our conference was a very urgent one, and for a time Major Pichon
thought it best to hang on to our positions and trust to someone making
an effort for our relief. Had British or American troops been collecting
in our rear, we would not have hesitated a moment to remain, for we
should have been certain of immediate help.

We knew that a battalion of Czech infantry had been moved up from
Svagena towards Antonovka to threaten the enemy's outflanking columns,
and that this battalion had made it a dangerous proceeding for the enemy
to close in on our rear. Hence we decided to withdraw certain units to
Svagena, and for the remainder to retire to a position at Dukoveskoie
and make a new line from the railway through that village, thus linking
up with the Czech troops who had marched to our assistance; they would
thus become the extreme right of our new line.

This movement would enable the Japanese 12th Division at Svagena to
continue their deployment behind our screen, and if the enemy continued
his outflanking tactics would involve the Japanese in the fighting
whether they willed it or not.

The retirement was carried out as arranged in perfect order, with the
loss of very little material and not more than a dozen men taken
prisoners. The French were the last to entrain. The whole movement was
covered by the two armoured trains under the command of Captain Bath,
R.M.L.I. Before retiring the bluejackets blew up the bridge on our front
and otherwise destroyed the line in a very workmanlike manner. If we had
been supported, the retirement would have been quite unnecessary; it was
the result of lack of confidence in our Allies after the first let-down.

The new line was held as follows: On the left of the railway one company
of Czech infantry; the two British armoured trains occupied the railway,
and a Middlesex machine-gun battery of four maxims occupied the right,
while the wooded slope leading to Dukoveskoie was held by the French,
and a battalion of Japanese infantry extended beyond the village. The
right of the village was very sparsely held by a reduced battalion of
the 5th Czech Regiment and Kalmakoff's Cossacks. The whole force was
under the personal command of Major Pichon.

The enemy quickly repaired the bridges and the line, and within
forty-eight hours his armoured trains were observed moving cautiously
into Kraevesk, my old headquarters. Simultaneously his patrols advanced
from Antonovka and came into touch with Kalmakoff's scouts on the right,
and three days from our retirement his advanced elements were testing
our line from end to end.

On the morning of August 22 the Japanese 12th Division began to move up
from Svagena to Dukoveskoie and deploy immediately behind the new line.
As is usual in all Japanese tactics, they pushed their right out far
beyond the enemy positions, and early in the evening began to envelop
his left with their usual wide turning movement. Their right was
supported by two heavy batteries, and from the centre, near Dukoveskoie
church, their units, now acting as a reserve, were in position before
sunset. Large bodies of Japanese troops were in bivouac immediately
behind the centre of the village near their headquarters ready to deploy
in either direction.

On the evening of August 22 orders were received to push forward the
observation post of our armoured trains to a spot indicated, which
proved to be six hundred yards ahead of our positions and near enough to
be easily raided from the enemy lines. Lieutenant T.E. King, my
machine-gun officer, was at the same time ordered to move forward two
maxims, with a reduced company of Czech infantry in support to protect
this advanced post. The night was enlivened by constant skirmishes
between British and Terrorist patrols until about 8.30 A.M., when it was
observed that the Japanese patrols on the right had quietly retired
without giving any notice of their intention, and that the enemy were in
position on the plain for an attack and had already advanced along a
ridge to within a hundred yards of the outpost. The movements of the
enemy were observable only from the main look-out, from which orders
were already on the way gradually to withdraw the party to a position
nearer the lines. Before the order could be delivered the enemy
attacked. Lieutenant King proceeded to withdraw the guns alternately,
working the foremost gun himself, but defective ammunition frustrated
his effort. He gallantly tried to restart the gun, but the enemy were
now upon him, and he had no alternative but to retire without the gun.
The small Naval party in the advanced look-out were practically
surrounded, but under Petty Officer Moffat, who was in charge, they
managed to get out, with the enemy on their heels. This party was saved
by a marine named Mitchel, who, seeing Petty Officer Moffat in
difficulties, turned on his knee and faced his pursuers. Their fire was
erratic, but his was cool and accurate, and after three or four rounds
the Magyars kept their heads well down in the long marsh grass, which
permitted the party to escape. The result of this skirmish, however,
allowed the enemy armoured train to advance to a point dangerously near
our defensive works, which, with a little more enterprise and
determination, he might easily have enfiladed. But though the enemy
train had mounted a 6-inch gun our 12-pounder Navals were too smartly
handled to allow any liberties to be taken. This was the situation on
the morning that the Japanese 12th Division began to deploy behind the
new Allied line at Dukoveskoie.

About 3 P.M. on August 23 I asked my liaison officer, Colonel R.
Antonivitch Frank, of the Russian Army, to accompany me towards the
front line, as I had heard rumours of large concentrations of the enemy,
who, elated with this small initial success, seemed determined to
dispute our possession of the village of Dukoveskoie. I arrived in time
to witness a duel between one of our armoured trains and a rather
spirited fellow of the same sort on the other side. The Bolshevik shells
would persist in dropping to the right of our train on a road on which
Colonel Frank and I were sitting our horses, so we decided to dismount
and send the animals out of range, while we boarded the train and
enjoyed the contest. One of our 12-pounders went groggy and obliged us
to retire slightly, but we dared not go back far, as the Terrorist train
had all the appearance of following, and would soon have made short work
of our infantry, which were occupying very indifferent trenches near the
railway, Captain Bath saw the danger and steamed forward, firing
rapidly; shells burst all round his target, and so bewildered his
opponent that he soon turned tail and retired to safety. I applied to
the Japanese commander, General Oie, through Major Pichon that our
trains, directly it was dark, might be allowed to return to Svagena to
shunt the injured gun to the rear train. About 7 P.M., while preparing
to return for this purpose, a few sharp rifle-cracks were heard near the
centre of the line. These reports grew rapidly in volume, and now became
mixed up with the bass "pop-pop" of machine guns. The rolling sound of
conflict spread from the centre along the whole right front. Till now it
had been exclusively a small-arm fight. At this point the Bolshevik
artillery began to chime in, followed by the Japanese and Czech
batteries. The lovely Siberian summer night became one huge booming,
flashing inferno, terrible but intensely attractive. The silent
tree-clad mountains to right and left vibrated with the music of battle,
while shell and shrapnel screeched like frightened ghouls over the
valley below, where white and yellow men were proving that there is no
colour bar to bravery. This din lasted about two hours, and then died
away almost as rapidly as it began.

Our trains which had remained to take a hand in the business if
necessary steamed slowly back to Svagena, and I turned into my wagon for
the night. After the usual battle with the mosquitoes, I fell asleep,
but it seemed as though I had only slept a few minutes, when a banging
at the door announced a visitor, who turned out to be a Staff captain
from the Japanese Headquarters with an urgent message for the Commander
of the Reserves at Svagena, who with great ceremony handed me the
following order of the day:

"To COLONEL WARD,
  Officer Commanding Reserves.
    Operation Order by
LIEUT.-GENERAL S. OIE,
  Commanding 12th Division,
    Svagena.

"_August 23, 1918._

"1. All enemy attacks were driven back to-day. We gained two
 machine guns and five captives.

"2. The Allied troops will attack the enemy, inflicting upon
them an annihilating disaster, to-morrow, August 24.

"3. The Japanese troops will attack the enemy, starting the
present line, at 3 o'clock, the 24th, morning.

"4. The reserve British, French, Kalmakoff's forces, and a few
Japanese companies will be under the command of Japanese. Colonel
Inagaki will arrive at the north-western side of Dukoveskoie at
2 o'clock to-morrow morning.

"(Signed) S. OIE,
  Lieut.-General,
    Commanding 12th Division."




CHAPTER IV

THE BATTLE OF DUKOVESKOIE AND KRAEVESK


I Looked at my watch, and called the Japanese officer's attention to the
fact that the time was 1.45 A.M., and that Dukoveskoie was four miles
distant. Although he could speak perfect English, he held out his hand
and with a profound bow pretended not to understand the point of my
observation. It was in point of time simply impossible to arouse the
British, Czech, Cossack and Japanese detachments and march four miles in
the middle of the night in fifteen minutes; but I had lived long enough
in the East to know that the Oriental never sets a European impossible
tasks without a good reason from his own point of view. I dispatched
orderlies to each detachment with definite instructions to be ready to
move at once. The Japanese refused to move or even get out of their
tents. The Czechs were enjoying a much-needed rest, and refused to
budge, while Kalmakoff's Cossacks remained asleep beside their horses.
Ataman Kalmakoff was at Vladivostok, and his second in command was
dismissed on his return for refusing to obey my orders, as the Ataman
was most anxious that his men should be always in the fighting line
wherever it might be. Captain Clark, M.C., reported the 25th Middlesex
as ready to march, transport and all complete, twenty-five minutes
after receiving the order.

To make doubly sure there was no mistake, I called personally upon the
Japanese officer, who point-blank refused either to arouse or move his
men in accordance with his own Headquarters' order. I am bound to admit
that from that moment I had a suspicion that the order of General Oie
was so much Japanese camouflage, and that it was not intended that we
should take any part in the immediate operations. I also determined to
frustrate this attempt to exclude the Allies from participation, and
gave the order to my own men to move.

Our road for about two miles lay alongside the railway, after which the
soddened nature of the ground and the danger of losing direction in the
darkness forced me to take to the railway. About a mile and a half along
the track brought us to our armoured trains, where we were to pick up
our Machine-Gun Section, which was to act with us if necessary, or
remain as a reserve or rallying-point in case of need. Except for the
sentries, the train crews were asleep, and almost within rifle range of
our place of assembly. I halted my men and roused Captain Bath to
inquire if he had received instructions as to his part in the coming
battle. He informed me that he had received a telephone message from
General Oie (through Major Pichon) which he could not understand and had
asked for it to be repeated. He thereupon produced the message, which
was to the effect that a battle would commence at 3 A.M., but that the
British armoured trains and the British troops were not to be allowed
to take any part in the impending engagement. On the production of the
actual message I began to understand why the order of battle had been
given to me too late for me to be at the rendezvous with Colonel
Inagaki, and the refusal of the units of my command to march with me.
These instructions to Captain Bath from the Japanese Headquarters
explained the riddle. I gave Captain Bath instructions to move forward
in my support in case of need and to watch the proceedings generally, to
render aid to any Allied detachment which might be in difficulties, and
otherwise to obey General Oie's orders. This duty he performed with
complete satisfaction to the commanders of the French and Czech
detachments.

Having arranged my rear, the men of the 25th were ordered to move
forward in file on each side of the railway track to the point selected
for our rendezvous. The time was now 3.25 A.M., the dull light of
dawning day enabling us to distinguish moving objects four hundred yards
away. A scout came back to report the presence of cavalry on the left,
but in the early morning haze we could not make out whether it was
friendly or enemy. I moved my troops to the opposite side of the railway
embankment and prepared to receive their charge. I then dispatched my
liaison officer, Colonel Frank, forward to discover their strength and
character. He quickly returned with the information that the cavalry was
Japanese, moving into position on our extreme left. I re-formed my men
and advanced towards my position as ordered, ninety minutes behind
time. I halted and examined the ground, but saw nothing of Colonel
Inagaki or any of the detachments on the spot selected for our assembly.
Standing on the line, I saw the foremost enemy armoured train about four
hundred yards ahead, and their outpost giving the alarm. No shot had so
far been fired, but I gave the order to load. At this stage an incident
happened which put an end to the hitherto silent advance of the
attacking army. In the act of loading a rifle went off accidentally. The
soldier to whom it belonged was standing just behind me, and I ordered
Captain Browne to examine and report. In doing so the rifle again went
off; it saved the man from punishment, but it began the battle. There
was a puff of white smoke, and an instant later a 5-inch shell burst
over our heads. The men opened out into the corn and scrub, and I
dismounted while the advance continued. Taking my servant's rifle, I led
the way.

The enemy must have anticipated our rendezvous, for the place was
ploughed with shells from end to end. The first pitched just under the
centre of a peasant's cottage, and in a moment cottage and peasant were
no more. The heavy purple pall hung on the ground, and had we been on
the spot selected, this description would have been written by other
hands than mine. By the increasing light and the aid of my glasses I was
able to make out the entire scheme of the advance, which was a
continuous line from one mile on the left of the railway, extending to
about ten miles on our right. A space of about one hundred yards on each
side of the line was unoccupied--for the reason, as I afterwards
learnt, that it was considered too exposed and dangerous for the purpose
of an advance. Unable to find anyone to direct my movements, on my own
initiative I decided to fill this vacant space, so making the line
continuous, and move forward with the Japanese to the attack. Disposing
my men in the shelter of the scrub on either side of the railway, I
directed their movements from the centre of the track. There was an ugly
moment when a maxim situated in a cornfield began to fire point-blank at
a range of one hundred yards, but a Czech outpost entrenched quite near
made it so hot for the gunner that after firing about 150 rounds he
scooted, leaving a well-placed gun and 5,000 rounds, all belted, behind.
We now advanced over the Czech and French trenches, for these forces,
like our armoured trains, had been ordered to take no part in the
advance. It was while near these trenches that a grey-coated Magyar,
four hundred yards away, took deliberate standing aim at myself. It was
a most difficult shot, and I felt quite safe, but though the Magyar
missed me, he killed a Czech soldier five yards to the left, the bullet
entering the centre of his forehead just over the nose. About sixty
shots answered his, and he sank across the rails. When we reached him he
lay, with many others, quite dead. Captain Clark picked up his rifle and
bandolier, and used it with good effect upon the retreating enemy.

There is no doubt that if we had failed to get into position under the
cover of darkness we should have had the greatest difficulty in making
any headway along the railway except with very heavy casualties. As I
have stated previously, the end car of the enemy armoured train had a
6-inch gun, but it was mounted so high that the whole platform could be
swept with rifle-fire. The reason for the high mounting was to enable
two machine guns to be worked along the track from the bed of the car
under the heavy gun. If our advance had been observed the enemy would
easily have smashed it, but we got within 400 yards before they knew we
were there. By concentrating all our fire on the end of the car we swept
the platform clear, perforated the body underneath with a hail of
bullets so that nothing could live, and put every gun which could be
brought to bear along the track out of action. By this means the
apparently most dangerous point of our advancing line became the safest,
and we accomplished our purpose without a single casualty. Five enemy
armoured trains were on the line disputing every inch of the way, but
their shrapnel was either too high or exploded so far behind the front
line that, though it made havoc amongst the laggards, it had but little
effect upon those who kept well to the front. The battle was now joined
at all points and reaching the decisive moment.

In the centre by skilful manoeuvring, a Japanese 5-inch battery had
taken up a position actually in front of the general infantry advance.
Such daring deserved to succeed, and in this case it did so beyond all
expectations. The point selected was a thin group of trees, which gave a
view of the railway from the left, across the plain to Kraevesk, and
enabled the leading enemy trains to be shelled almost from the flank.
The infantry, while still going methodically forward, were receiving far
too much attention to feel comfortable, and Japanese soldiers were
putting tufts of grass and leaves in front of their caps to hide the red
band, which made an excellent target for riflemen and machine-gunners.
Occasionally one would rub a handful of mud around the tell-tale band;
experience soon taught the Japanese soldiers the dangers of a little
colour. It was just ding-dong open fighting, wonderfully spectacular in
character. Then a shell burst plunk under the line behind the two
foremost enemy trains, which made retreat for them impossible. Desperate
efforts were made to repair the line, but well-directed rifle and light
machine-gun fire made this impracticable. Another well-placed shell
dropped just under the gunners' quarters on the front train, and
instantly the car was enveloped in flames. In turn the fire spread to
the gun-carriage, which had become untenable from rifle-fire. This
proved a complete catastrophe for the enemy, who from positions on our
extreme left and centre had a full view of the slaughter around the
doomed trains. Their nerves were completely shattered, their fire became
spasmodic and erratic, and then among the trees on a hill to the left
appeared a white flag.

That flag was too late. The Japanese cavalry shot out in file as a
straight extension of our left. Having come parallel with the farthest
group of resistance, they right turned, and instantly swept up the slope
in a beautiful line and forward over all resistance, white flag and
all. They took no prisoners.

My men were only "B one-ers," and the pace was beginning to tell; still
they were leading, owing to the fact that our advance was along the
railway and the usual tracks at the side, while the Japanese had to
contend with the marshes and woods farther away. I therefore ordered a
rally, and advanced only with such troops as could be reasonably
expected to keep the line. This party numbered about sixty, and included
Captain Clark, the Padre (Captain Roberts), Lieutenant Buckley, my Czech
interpreter (Vladimir), Regimental Sergt.-Major Gordon, Sergeant Webb
(who, I am sorry to say, died a few days later at Spascoe), Colonel
Frank (my liaison officer), and rank and file. With this party we
advanced within fifty yards of part of the burning train, amid a shower
of debris from the exploding shells stored in its magazine. The second
train looked quite deserted, and therefore, beyond examining the
ammunition cart of a 5-inch gun left derelict on the road and counting
ten rounds of unfired ammunition, we passed without molestation up the
railway embankment on the way to Kraevesk.

We had passed the trains and left them about two hundred yards in our
rear when we were startled by rapid rifle-fire behind us. On looking
round, we were astonished to see spiteful jets of rifle-fire issuing
from both sides of the uninjured train directed against thick bunches of
Japanese troops who were passing along the track over which we had just
advanced. Even the Eastern temperament has limits to its serenity. For
a moment the Japs were completely off their guard, but they soon
recovered, and dropping flat in the grass, they opened a brisk
fusillade. The Magyars were protected by the plated sides of their
wagons, and were making sad havoc amongst the soldiers of the Rising
Sun. Taking in the situation at a glance, a Japanese officer gave the
order to charge. Every man instantly bounded forward, and, like a
disturbed nest of ants, they swarmed all over the train, stabbing,
clubbing and bayoneting every Bolshevik they could get at, tossing their
dead enemies out of the carriages off their bayonets with the same
motion as if they were shovelling coal. Then they posted a sentry on the
highest part of each train, and the gun in the road, and called them
their "trophies of war." My great regret was that no Bolshevik was left
alive to tell us the reason why they allowed about sixty English
officers and soldiers to pass unmolested at point-blank range of about
forty yards, and only began to fire when the Japanese soldiers came
under their rifles. Many explanations were given at the time, none of
which seemed to be quite satisfactory, so the mystery remains.

It was here that a polite request was made that the British detachment
should not keep so far ahead of the other troops, but I was anxious to
keep well ahead for an important reason. The Bolsheviks had ravaged and
tortured both young and old, rich and poor, male and female throughout
the country till their very name stank in the nostrils of the common
people. Their blood lust had been so great that when they had no
Russian peasant to torture they fell back on the poor unfortunate Czech
soldiers who had fallen into their hands as prisoners of war. Many
authentic cases of this kind are so revolting in character that it is
better to keep them in the dark rather than advertise how fiendishly
cruel men can be to one another. I knew that the Czechs had threatened
to retaliate. The incident of the white flag previously recorded may
have had something to do with the same sentiment, though I can scarcely
think it had. I decided, however, that the more humane rules of war
should apply so far as I was concerned, and I soon had a chance of
making a demonstration of my views before the whole army. A fugitive
Bolshevik soldier had escaped from the Japanese cavalry, and started to
make his way across our left front in an attempt to join the retreating
Bolshevik trains. Exhausted by the heavy going of the marsh, he had
dropped for cover and rest. The Japanese line was fast approaching the
spot where he had taken shelter, so he raised himself from the grass and
began to run. I levelled my servant's rifle, but misjudged the distance,
and he took no notice. I took aim at a point over his head, and he
dropped in the grass so suddenly that Colonel Frank thought I had killed
him. As we approached the spot his black hair showed up above the green,
and I took aim again, but did not fire. I informed Colonel Frank I
wanted the man, if he would surrender, to be an example of how a
prisoner of war should be treated. Colonel Frank shouted to the man to
surrender. The man shouted back that the Japanese killed all prisoners.
He was then informed that I was an English officer, and if he would
surrender I guaranteed his life unless he had committed some greater
crime than merely fighting as a Bolshevik soldier. He made no further
parley, but almost ran to me as for protection. I was standing on the
embankment, in full view for miles, and it was easy for the whole
incident to be seen. I took his rifle, with fixed bayonet, and bandolier
and fifty rounds from him. His papers showed him to be a demobilised
Russian soldier. I placed him under a guard of two men with orders to
see him safely to the rear. Time after time demands were made to his
guards to allow the murder of the prisoner. But those two British
bayonets made his life as safe as though he had been in Trafalgar
Square. I could tell by the atmosphere which the incident created that
our Allies thought this regular conduct wholly out of place on a
battlefield, but it fulfilled its purpose, and surrenders were accepted
during the further operations.

Our progress was now very rapid, and except for a few bursts of shrapnel
which continued to fly harmlessly over the front ranks and injure such
as were far behind, we approached our old station, Kraevesk, easily. As
to the method from the military point of view of approaching this place,
the less said about it the better. A single company of British troops
would have held up the whole show and inflicted losses on the attackers
out of all proportion to the object gained. The stuffing, however, was
completely knocked out of the Bolshevik army, and the advance took more
the form of beaters driving big game. Having previously reconnoitred the
whole ground, I again chose the railway for my party. The Japanese
swarmed up through the wooded slope on the right. I chose the railway
because I knew the shallow cutting had a slight curve which would give a
safe line of approach to the station, situated about three hundred yards
behind this low-lying hill. The Japs advanced through the wood in
masses, huge bunches of men without regular formation. On rounding the
curve, I saw an enemy armoured train about four hundred yards distant. A
Bolshevik officer walked leisurely out of our old headquarters and put
one foot on the step of the engine, looking straight at myself standing
on the line. I drew a bead on him with Lance-Corporal's Moorman's rifle.
I do not believe I hit him, but I was near enough to make him skip
quickly into the engine shelter. A flash from the leading gun, and a
2-inch shell passed so close to my head that I fell into the four-foot
way, and felt the top of my skull to find out if it was still there.
This shell exploded about one hundred yards behind me and mortally
wounded two Japanese and injured several others. The machine guns on the
train now swept the wood, where the Japs were advancing, with such
effect that for a few moments there was a regular stampede back over the
brow of the hill. My party had taken cover in the scrub on the left, and
I crawled on hands and knees in their direction. I found a deep dyke at
the foot of the cutting covered with high weeds, and into this I rolled.
Gradually raising my head over the thistles, I potted rapidly at the
gunner, and my party did the same.

The Japs by this time had recovered from their first shock, and began to
open fire on the train, which steamed slowly back to the far end of the
station, when it came to a standstill and pumped shrapnel along our
front. We had got far ahead of our artillery, so it became a contest of
rifle versus armoured train. On the left of the station was a thick log
store, and keeping that between ourselves and the armoured train, we
crept into the station and began to fire at close range at the gunners,
whose heads appeared above the sides of the armoured carriages. The
Japanese used a red brick cottage for a similar purpose on the other
side, while others tried to outflank the train and cut off its retreat.
The officer in charge detected this manoeuvre, and, using all his guns,
he retired behind the hill, and later was reported as steaming towards
Shmakovka. We took possession of the station, and near our old
headquarters found a hut in which was the Bolshevik officers' breakfast,
with potatoes cooked to a nicety on the fire. These were looted by
Colonel Frank and Sergeant-Major Gordon. The sun was very hot--the time
was about 8.30 A.M.--we had fought over very difficult country for
twelve miles, and as we sat on the crossing of the railway the potatoes
were very good. By some hopeless blunder the Japanese cavalry had been
ordered to close in from the flank on this station instead of the next,
so we lost the huge bag of prisoners which was waiting to be captured.
The Jap cavalry commander sat down and sampled my potatoes, but he lost
the culminating stroke of the whole movement. This small minor action
proved to be one of the most decisive of the war, as it destroyed the
whole Terrorist army east of the Urals.

I was ordered by General Otani to remain in reserve, and returned to my
base at Svagena to find the proverbial luck of my battalion had been
maintained. The Japs had over six hundred casualties, some of which
occurred close to my men, but not a man of the 25th was hit. We had many
cases of complete prostration, but, in view of the category of my unit,
not more than was to be expected considering the strenuous month's work
they had undergone. One and all behaved like Englishmen--the highest
eulogy that can be passed upon the conduct of men.

General Oie sent a letter of special thanks to the Commanding Officer of
the British unit for their great services in the engagement. At 4.25
P.M., August 28, I received the following communication from the General
Headquarters:

"1. On August 26 the Division had occupied the heights situated at the
north of Shmakovka. The inhabitants reported the enemy had left there
between nine and twelve on the night of August 24 by eleven trains,
strength of which was about 5,000 men; 2,000 men retired by road from
Uspenkie. The Division bivouacked at Shmakovka.

"2. On the 27th the enemy continued their retreat to the north of the
River Ussurie, and no enemy could be seen to the south of it, though
nine railway bridges out of ten between Shmakovka and Ussurie had been
destroyed. Damage done is some ten metres each, and a few days would be
required to repair them. The Ussurie railway bridge is not damaged, and
on the night of the 26th, after a small detachment had occupied it, one
company of infantry reinforced. Against the enemy on Lake Hanka, which
was known to have gone down the river with gunboats, one company of
infantry has been dispatched to the right bank of Ussurie east of
Shmakovka.

"3. The Division remains at the present position, and prepares to move
forward on the 28th."

This completed the Ussurie operations, for the battle was absolutely
decisive. The enemy were entirely demoralised, and never made another
stand east of Lake Baikal.




CHAPTER V

JAPANESE METHODS AND ALLIED FAR-EASTERN POLICY


The Japanese, for their own peculiar reasons, as will have already
appeared, had decided in the early stages of the operations that the
maritime provinces were their special preserve. They looked with the
greatest suspicion upon the forces and efforts of the other Allies,
especially British and American, and by their orders tried deliberately
to exclude them from their counsels and as far as possible from the
administration of the territory recovered from the Terrorists. The 27th
Battalion of American Infantry had landed at Vladivostok a few days
before the battle of Dukoveskoie, and promises were made that they
should be hurried forward to take a share in the fighting; but the
Japanese, who controlled the railway, saw to it that they arrived a day
late. Instead of pushing them ahead, they were detrained at Svagena, and
then entrained again from day to day, always about fifty versts behind
the Japanese front. In addition the Japanese never trusted their Allies.
No order to the Japanese Army was ever given to the Allied commanders
until the operation had been carried out or had got to such a stage as
to make it impossible for them to take part or offer suggestions.

Captain Stephan (now Major), of the Czech Army, and myself knew every
road and track from Shmakovka to Svagena, and were certain that with
proper care the whole enemy force on the Ussurie front could have been
destroyed or captured. The Japanese would neither consult nor inform any
of their Allies about any movement until it had taken place. They
treated the Czech commanders with the most scant courtesy; the English
officers' carriages were invaded by their private soldiers, who would
insolently ask what business we had in Siberia and when did we propose
to go home; but they reserved their most supreme contempt for the
Russian people. These poor wretches they drove off the railway
platforms, using the butts of their rifles upon the women as well as the
men, just as though they were dealing with a tribe of conquered
Hottentots. I did not understand this behaviour on the part of our
Eastern Ally, and felt it could only be the irresponsible bullying of a
few individual men and officers. Later on I found it to be the general
policy of the Japanese Army to treat everybody as inferior to
themselves; they had learnt this Hun lesson to a nicety.

I give two instances which are neither glaring nor isolated, but of
which no doubt official record remains. I was standing on Nikolsk
platform waiting for a train; there was a crowd of Russian people, and a
Japanese sentry was standing near. This man quite suddenly darted
forward and jammed the butt of his rifle in the centre of a Russian
officer's back; the force of the blow knocked him flat on the floor in
such pain that he rolled about for a few minutes, while the Jap,
grinning, held his bayonet at the "On guard!" Though there were many
standing near, not one Russian had the pluck to shoot him, and not
wishing to mix myself up in the affair, I took no action, but watched
further developments. Ten minutes later another Jap sentry repeated the
performance, but this time the victim was a well-dressed Russian lady.
So cowed were the Russian people that even her friends were afraid to
help her. I stepped forward to offer assistance, with the Jap standing
over me; when, however, he saw my revolver he put up his bayonet, but
continued to laugh as though it was a huge joke. A few Tommies were
attracted to the spot, and the Jap saw that things were beginning to
take a serious turn. I proceeded to the Japanese Headquarters, situated
in a carriage near by, and reported the occurrence. The officer seemed
astonished that I should interfere on behalf of mere Russians, who he
said may have been Bolsheviks for all he knew, and inquired whether the
sentry had ever treated me so. I answered that "the first Japanese that
touches an English officer or soldier in my presence will be a dead
man." This seemed to surprise the Japanese officer, who pointed out that
the Japanese were in occupation of Siberia, and were entitled to do what
they liked. I had to inform him that the Japanese were acting in
alliance with the other Powers, including Russia; that we were here as
the friends of the Russian people, and not as their conquerors. This he
would or could not understand. I ended the interview by warning him that
if his sentries were not instructed to behave a little less like
savages, there would be an end to those sentries' careers. I later
heard that the interview did good, but could not in the case of Japanese
troops do more than slightly mitigate their behaviour to the defenceless
Russian inhabitants.

That is merely a type of their conduct towards ordinary people. There
is, however, one excuse for them: given the right circumstances, they
treat all alike. A battalion commander was not quite the sort of
material to operate upon, for the simple reason that he was usually
surrounded with sufficient force to secure proper respect, but a general
without a powerful escort was always fair sport for their gentle
attentions. Not even the chief of the British Military Mission could
hope to escape from the most insulting behaviour. An incident placed my
unit in charge of a part of the telegraph system, which enabled me to
handle personally the sort of message which entered the Japanese
Headquarters relative to a special train that was approaching their
station. I handled the message myself. It ran as follows:

"A special train, No. ........., will enter your section at .........
time; it conveys the chief of the British Military Mission, General
........., and Staff from Vladivostok to Ufa for important conference
with General Surovey, the Commander-in-Chief of the Czech and Russian
Armies. You will please give 'line clear' throughout the journey." Did
the Japanese give "line clear" throughout? That will never be the way
that this highly efficient and interesting little people will do
anything, if their army is a sample of the whole. They stopped the
train, and boarded it with a squad of men with fixed bayonets. They
insulted the chief of the British Mission by placing him and his Staff
under arrest, and then proceeded to make elaborate inquiries to find out
whether they were not German emissaries in disguise. The impudence of
the whole proceeding was so remarkable and yet characteristic that when
the Staff of the General reported the occurrence to me I did not for a
moment know whether I should die with rage or laughter.

I went to Siberia entirely biassed in favour of this admittedly
wonderful people. I took care to instruct my soldiers to salute every
Japanese officer and to be most polite to every Japanese soldier, and
they carried out my instructions to the letter; but my attention was
called to the fact that only on rare occasions did a Japanese officer
take the trouble to return the salute of my men, and still more rarely
did a Japanese soldier salute an English officer. He was much more
likely to give an insulting grimace. I say quite frankly that I admire
the workmanlike way the Japanese go about their soldierly duties, but it
is impossible to ignore their stupidly studied arrogance towards those
who are anxious to be on terms of peace and amity with them. It is
unfortunately true that they were misled into believing that Germany was
ordained to dominate the world, and, believing this, they shaped their
conduct upon this awful example. They quite openly boast that they are
the Germans of the East. Let us hope that they will read aright the
recent lesson of history.

During my stay in the maritime provinces I never saw or heard of a
single act or order from the Japanese Headquarters which would help in
the slightest degree in the administrative reorganisation of the
country. On the contrary I saw many things which convinced me that the
Land of the Rising Sun was at that time more concerned in maintaining
disorder as the surest way of fostering her own ambitious designs.

At this stage the other Allies were without a Far-Eastern policy. Their
sole object was to push back as far as possible the German-Magyar
forces, which were carrying out the sinister policy of Teutonic
penetration under the guise of Bolshevism. Bolshevism in the Far East at
this date was an attempt to reduce to a system the operations of the
Chinese robber bands of the Mongolian border. Mixed with and led by
released German and Magyar prisoners of war, they became a formidable
force for destroying all attempts at order in Russia and resisting the
possible reconstruction of the Russian front against the Central Powers.
Previous to the Bolshevist regime these Chinese bands had lived by
murder and loot; it was their trade, though hitherto considered illegal,
and sometimes severely punished. No wonder they joined the Soviet
crusade when it declared robbery and murder to be the basis upon which
the new Russian democracy must rest. This German-Magyar-Chinese
combination was bound to meet with remarkable initial success. The
Chinese got his blood and loot in a legal way without much danger, and
the German prisoner played an important part in the defence of the
Fatherland and the destruction of its enemies.

If Germany lost on the Western Front, and by means of this unnatural
combination still retained her hold upon the potential wealth of the
late Tsar's dominions, she had indeed won the war. This was the reason
for our presence in Siberia, but it was not the reason for the presence
of Japan.




CHAPTER VI

ADMINISTRATION


Shortly after the incidents referred to in Chapter IV, I received
General Otani's orders to take over the command of the railway and the
districts for fifty versts on either side, from Spascoe to Ussurie
inclusive. My duty was to guard the railway and administer the district,
taking all measures necessary to keep open this section of the line of
communications. I was instructed to fix my headquarters at Spascoe, and
make all arrangements to winter there. In accordance therewith I
proceeded to get into touch with what remained of the old Russian
authorities, civil and military, and the new ones wherever such had been
created. So far as the men's comfort was concerned, new roads were
constructed and old ones repaired, broken windows and dilapidated walls
and woodwork were either replaced or renovated. Electrical appliances
were discovered and fixed, and what had previously been a dull, dark
block of brickwork suddenly blossomed out into a brilliantly lighted
building and became at night a landmark for miles around.

We also began painfully to piece together the broken structure of human
society. For over a year no law but force had been known in these
regions, and many old wrongs and private wounds demanded liquidation. I
made many journeys to outlandish villages and settlements, with a small
personal escort, fixed a table in the centre of the street, and with the
aid of the parish priest and the president of the local council, heard
and decided disputes, public and private, from threats and injury to the
person to the possession and occupation of a farm. There was no
appeal--the stolid Tommies who stood behind me with fixed bayonets put
my judgments beyond question. I remitted one or two points of property
law to legal decision, but all parties in each case protested that they
would have preferred my instant judgment. Three murderers I remitted to
a court which I called together with an old Russian officer to preside,
but he was so terrified at the prospect of having to order their
execution for fear they might be Bolsheviks--whose name was a terror to
everybody--that I had to send them to another district to enable the law
to be carried out. The report of these proceedings spread with such
rapidity that it became quite embarrassing, if not impossible, to deal
effectively and thoroughly with the daily increasing number of
litigants. I began to understand the reason why in more civilised
communities legal proceedings are made so expensive. Either the Russian
peasant is a most litigious person, or else he mistook a free system of
justice as a healthy English pastime which he thoroughly enjoyed.

It was extremely flattering to be told that these people preferred that
the "Anglisky Polkovnika Boorpg" should decide their disputes than that
they should be reserved for a Russian tribunal. It was the most
interesting work I had so far done in the country. The trial of even the
simplest case gave me many insights to Russian institutions and
character that only years of book study could otherwise have
accomplished. I learnt the difference between the right of the peasant
holder as compared with that of the Cossack circle. The law of the
forest afforded an education in itself. The intimate relationship of
Russian family life, from the highest to the lowest, was constantly laid
bare before me with all its romance and mediaeval trappings and its
sordid substratum of violence and superstition. In fact, I became so
interested in this work that it was with the greatest regret that I
relinquished it for a more urgent and important call.

The Allied forces in the Transbaikal had now accomplished their task of
dispersing the forces of lawlessness, and had made some progress in the
work of administration, but if this work was to be consolidated and made
of permanent value it must be given a centre, other than the Allied
command, around which it could rally and to which it might reasonably
look for guidance and support. The Siberian Government had been
established by the alive elements of the old regime and the more showy
members of the Social Revolutionary party, but their authority was
ignored and their orders were not often conspicuous for their wisdom.
This great people can do almost anything, but even they cannot live
without a head, and the question was, how was some sort of head to be
provided? The Allies had taken control of the far-eastern provinces,
but, if their object was to be carried through and German designs
frustrated, it was necessary to push at once their control to the Urals
and, if possible, beyond. The brilliant feats of the Czechs had
temporarily thrown the Terrorist forces into confusion, but with
wealthy, helpless Russia as their prize cupidity alone would be
sufficient to excite them to renewed effort. To be effective, Allied
help and activity must be transferred nearer to the scene of actual
conflict, and Ekaterinburg or Omsk appeared to be the only possible
centres which could provide the proper accommodation and surroundings
for this next step in the Allied programme. This much as a general
proposition was conceded by all, but everybody held differing views as
to the way in which it should be carried out.

Japan, having firmly planted her feet in the much-coveted maritime
provinces, did not look with enthusiasm upon the suggestion that she
should leave what she most wanted in order to lessen the pressure upon a
front in which she had no interest. That Paris should fall under German
blows was of no importance compared with American control of the Chinese
Eastern Railway or the presence of the _Brooklyn_ at Vladivostok.

America had not exactly made up her mind what particular part of the Far
East was most precious in her eyes, but wished to be friendly with
everybody and get as much as possible out of all. Her armies were on the
Western front, but her eyes were on the Eastern Pacific, and was it not
better after all to remain where you could keep an eye on the other
fellow?

Who would think of taking a military force over six thousand miles from
its base through a partially hostile country? Would it get through the
many dangers and difficulties it was certain to encounter on the way?
And if it did, who could guarantee a friendly reception? and if not, how
could a ghastly disaster be avoided? These were some of the problems
which called for decision, and once decided could never be recalled.

The Americans and the Japanese were otherwise occupied and therefore not
available, and though it may seem mere national egotism to make such a
statement, there was only one force in which moderate Russians of all
parties had absolute confidence--without which anything might happen.
All eyes turned to the old "Die-Hard" Battalion which had now proved its
mettle on land and sea.

Russian society had been ripped up by the roots, and the whole country
reduced to a huge human jungle. Human life was at a discount, in fact
was the cheapest thing in the country. If a centre of order was to be
created anywhere, force must be provided for its initial protection.
Statecraft cannot work with violence ever threatening its very life. The
risks were great, a big force would create suspicion, a small force must
rely upon something more than mere bayonets for its safety. It was with
due regard to its dangers, but with a certainty that it was worth it,
that I accepted the task which the fates had forced upon me.

We had settled down for a winter in Spascoe, when I received the
necessary orders to proceed to Omsk, with the suggestion that before
executing them I had better visit Headquarters at Vladivostok for a
conference with General Knox. I tried to get a carriage suitable for the
journey for my Staff from the railway authorities, but failed, and ended
by purloining a cattle-truck. In this contraption we got as far as
Nikolsk, where our truck was to have been hung on to the Harbin Express;
but the station-master, the best type of Russian public official,
thought it a disgrace that the Commander and Staff of their most trusted
Ally should travel so. He placed his private car at my disposal on my
promise to return the same if and when I could find another. We arrived
at "Vlady," and in four days had completed the arrangements for the move
and secured verbal and documentary instructions as to the general policy
to be pursued. The means to be employed to worm my way towards the Urals
were left entirely to myself.

I had already formed a very high opinion of the Russian character. Much
can be done by sympathy and persuasion, but if they fail, then the "big
stick" of Peter the Great, used sparingly, is the only method which is
certain to secure obedience to orders.

On the return journey I was hung up at Nikolsk for several days. Heavy
rains had caused the valleys and marshes to become flooded, and a
haystack which had been carried off its bed by the water had lodged
against the temporary sleeper buttress and swept the bridge away. The
hay had held the torrent back till it became so high that it rushed
over about two miles of the railway, destroying that also. The Japs
would not repair the damage, nor for some time would they give a chance
for the Russians to do so. I managed to get orders through to Major
Browne so that no time was actually lost. It was estimated that it would
take seven days to get on the move, but by a general hustle all round in
three days we began our 5,000 miles journey. Starting from Spascoe we
travelled to Nikolsk, and then turned back up the Manchurian-Chinese
Eastern Railway. On arriving at Nikolsk we were informed that the French
Tonquin Battalion had also received orders to move west some seven days
prior to us, but were not yet ready, nor were they likely to be for two
or three days. We had arrived at "Vlady," and gone thence to the Ussurie
front before the French; so now again we led the way towards the sinking
sun.

This French unit was under the command of Major Malley, who from his
appearance ought never to have dropped the "O" before his surname. He
and his officers were some of the best; but the atmosphere of South
China had robbed them of some of their native energy. He informed me
that his destination was a point on the railway near the borders of
North-West Manchuria, and by consulting my own instructions I guessed
the object of his move. In case of need I should at least have the
border open. In addition to which the move was an indication that so far
as this venture was concerned English and French policy ran parallel.

The first part of the journey was through hundreds of miles of uncarted
corn. As far as the eye could see, to right or left, one vast sea of
derelict corn, left uncared for on the land to rot in the Siberian
winter. The entire absence of labour, and the complete breakdown of
internal administration and communication had produced stark want in the
presence of plenty. It made one feel quite sad to look day after day
upon this waste of human food and remember the food rations and
regulations at home. All along the line there was a continuous stream of
refugees of all nations and races--poor, hunted creatures who had
horrible stories to tell of the ravages of the Bulgar and the atrocities
of the Bolsheviki. At one place the Serbian women and children got the
breakfast of my men, the Tommies refusing to eat until the kiddies had
been satisfied. And the pathetic homage they paid to our flag when they
discovered it was the flag of England! I shall never forget some of the
scenes which showed us also the wonderful trust the struggling
nationalities of the world have in the power, humanity and honour of our
country. It is a priceless possession for the world which Englishmen
must for ever jealously guard.

Through apparently never-ending uplands we entered the great range which
forms the natural boundary between China and Siberia. On and on, through
mountain gorge and fertile valley, we broke at length out on to the wide
open plains of Manchuria. Perhaps it could be best described as a
combination of all the most wonderful scenery in the world. It is
somewhat difficult to keep three huge trains of over forty trucks each
together on a single line. This, however, had to be done, first for
purposes of safety, and secondly for defence in the then lawless state
of the country. The next difficulty was transport. Horses had to be
watered, and if they were to be ready for use the train must stop and
the animals be exercised every fourth day. Hence much scheming and
management had to be exercised for the journey to be successfully
carried through.

I saw much about the "hidden hand" in the newspapers we received from
home, but our experiences of the same character were sometimes amusing
and sometimes serious. The railway was under a sort of joint control,
Russian, American and Japanese, and it soon became clear that one or the
other of these groups was unfriendly to our western advance. It may have
been all, but of that I have no proof. The first incident was a stop of
four hours. After the first two hours a train passed us that had been
following behind; after another two hours, when slightly more vigorous
inquiries were being made as to the cause of delay, we were quite
naively informed that the station-master did not think we ought to risk
going farther. We soon informed him to the contrary, and again started
forward. The next stop of this character was at a fairly big station
about twenty hours from Harbin. This station-master held us up for seven
hours. This I thought the limit. At last he showed my interpreter a
telegram asking him to prevent us going any farther. It was not signed,
and when I demanded that we should be allowed to proceed, he said that
there were no engines. I had seen two standing idle outside. I rushed
on to the platform just in time to prevent the engines disappearing.
While the station-master had been parleying with me he had ordered the
engines to put on steam. I gave orders for my guard to form up across
the line at each end of the station and either bayonet or shoot anyone
who tried to take the engines away. I then forced the operator to tell
me if the line ahead was clear, and threatened to take the
station-master under military arrest for trial at Harbin unless he
announced my intention to start in that direction and cleared the way
ahead. I put a soldier with fixed bayonet on the footplate to see that
the driver held to his post and did not play tricks with the train, and
started on our journey. We made every inquiry possible, but no one could
give us the slightest reason for our stoppage, but seemed to think that
there was something wrong with the works which had allowed us to get so
far. From then on I took no risks.

There are no special features about Harbin. It is just a conglomeration
of houses of a more or less Chinese character thrown together in three
heaps, the first two attempts of the thrower not getting quite near
enough to the target, which was the junction of the Chinese Eastern
Railway. Elaborate preparations had been made by an Allied Committee for
our reception, and when we drew into the station about 4 P.M. it was
crowded with about as cosmopolitan a crowd of Far Eastern races as we
had so far met with--the Mayor, the Chinese Governor and all the
notabilities, foremost amongst them being the British Consul, Mr. Sly;
but most important of all was General Plisshkoff, the commander of the
local forces known as "Hovart's Army." Speeches were delivered, and a
reply given which elicited from a Cossack band the most astounding
rendering of the British National Anthem that was ever heard around the
seven seas. The gem of the proceedings was a presentation of two lovely
bouquets by the English ladies of Harbin. I never felt so much the
necessity for adopting the Eastern custom of kissing all the ladies you
are introduced to as at this one supreme moment of the journey; it was a
real test of the power of restraint. But the ladies' husbands were
there, and everything passed off quietly, even though some wretched
fellows took snapshots of the presentation for home production. I
inspected the several guards of honour, and General Plisshkoff returned
the compliment, while the famous "25th" band discoursed what was
declared to be the sweetest music that had been heard in Harbin since
its history began. Tea was served in a specially decorated marquee on
the platform and all the men were given presents of one sort or another,
and the town gave itself over to tumultuous enjoyment, happy in the
thought that at last one of the Allies had appeared on the scene, a
faint indication that a desperate effort was about to be made by the
oldest and most trusted nation in Europe to conjure order out of chaos.
The officers were entertained by the British Consul, and preparations
were made for a ceremonial march through the town next day. This turned
out a great success and greatly impressed the inhabitants.

The day following we were entertained by the Chinese Governor, a very
courtly old gentleman, and the local Chinese general at the headquarters
of the Chinese administration. The band was in attendance, and during
the meal dealt with some of the British military choruses which have
spread themselves round the world. Of course we all joined in, as only
Englishmen can, and this became so infectious that even the staid
mandarins unbent and added their quota to the noise. It is surprising to
note the resemblance between the solemn Chinese and the self-centred
Englishmen. The solemnity of the one reacts upon the other, and both
become what neither is in reality nor can be separately. After our hard
work and harder fare on the Ussurie this gorgeous banquet was equal to a
month's leave, and we let go with a vengeance. What the Chinamen thought
about it next morning I do not know; for myself, I only remembered the
kindness of this act of friendship and the _camaraderie_ of the whole
affair. How strange that we should feel more at home with these pukka
Chinamen than with others we have met who are supposed to have much
closer affinity.

Immediately after leaving Harbin we crossed the finest bridge of the
whole journey to Omsk. It carries the railway over the River Sungary,
which meanders about over the enormous yet fairly well cultivated plains
of Northern Manchuria. It is not my intention to describe either the
peoples or the countries through which we passed, but no study of the
blending and dovetailing of totally different races into the different
types that we particularise under the names of Chinese, Mongol, Tartar
and Russian, would be complete without a journey along the Siberian and
Eastern Chinese Railway. The same remark applies to their dress,
habitations and customs. It is an education in itself, especially if,
like us, one had to stop occasionally to drive bargains, negotiate help,
and have the closest and most intimate intercourse with the common
people. None of them had even seen the British flag, few of them had the
slightest idea where the "Anglisky" lived, and one old Kirghis explained
to his wondering tribemen that we were a strange tribe that had broken
away from "Americanski" and gone to live on a great island in the middle
of the lakes, where no one could touch us unless they risked their lives
on great wooden rafts. I thought the amount of inverted truth in this
charming description very pleasing if not very flattering to our
national vanity.

After climbing the great Hinghan Range the plains of Mongolia came as a
wonder to me. Imagine if you can a perfectly flat land through which
your train glides hour after hour, day after day. The whole is covered
with rough grass and a growth somewhat like a huge horse daisy or
marguerite. At the time we passed these plants had dried, and a terrific
wind sweeping over the plains had broken countless numbers of the dry
herb off near the ground. They fell on their round sides. Directly the
plants had lost their anchorage away they bounded like catherine wheels
over the plains. It does not require much imagination to picture
hundreds of thousands of these rounded tufts of dried grass bounding
along over immense distances. It is quite a fascinating pastime to
select a few of the larger and better formed ones coming over the
horizon and calculate how long they take to arrive opposite your
position. Calculations made in this way convinced me that a small
coloured message properly fastened to these moving objects might have
been carried five hundred miles in twenty-four hours. If, instead of
looking at one, you look at the whole, the impression is of the solid
earth passing rapidly from west to east. There are occasional
obstructions in the shape of a huge flock of sheep which would cover
half of Rutlandshire. These are herded by quaintly dressed Mongolian
Tartars, on wonderful shaggy-haired horses, who ride at a furious pace
around their flocks and guard them from attack by the wolves which
infest this part of the world. It is worth recording how they do so. The
wolf is a very cunning animal who has numerous methods of attack, and,
like a hare, is very difficult to locate if in his form and practically
level with the ground. But his very cunning is often his undoing. On no
account will the wolf allow a string on which there are little coloured
rags fluttering to pass over him, nor will he willingly get near it. The
Tartar herdsmen go forward in line over the plain in the direction their
flocks are feeding with a small strong string with little coloured flags
fluttering along it, fastened from horse to horse. This effectively
sweeps the whole space as the trawler sweeps the sea. No wolf can hope
to escape the trained eye of the Tartar near the horse where the strain
of the line lifts it high off the ground, and no wolf will allow the
line to pass near him, hence the herdsman gets both sport and profit
out of his occupation. Having fed off the grass and herbs in one place,
the whole Tartar tribe moves forward at regular periods on what appears
to be an endless crawl across the world, but what is really an appointed
round, settled and definite, within the territorial lands of the race to
which it belongs. Their women and children journey with them and hunt
and ride with the men, free as the plains over which they travel. In
spite of this community of interests the men seem to place but very
little value upon their women except as a sort of communist coolie
attachment for carrying the camp from one place to another, for
preparing the rude meals, and for the care of the boys, of whom the
tribe is very proud.

Over this featureless wilderness we progressed day after day, each
stopping-place marked by a few aspen trees mixed up with a few others
that look very much like mountain ash but are not. The winter houses of
the people are single-roomed, square, wooden structures, very strangely
built, with flat roofs consisting of about two feet of earth. Against
and over these structures in winter the frozen snow piles itself until
they have the appearance of mere mounds, impossible to locate except for
the smoke which escapes from a few long crevices left open under the
eaves of what is intended to be the front of the house. These
smoke-escapes perform the double duty of chimneys and also keep clear
the way by which the inhabitants go in and out. Their herds are either
disposed of before the winter begins or are housed in grass-covered
dug-outs, which in winter, when the snow is piled over them, take the
form of immense underground caverns, and are quite warm and habitable by
both man and beast. The one I entered had over two hundred beautiful
little foals housed in it, and others similar in character had cows and
sheep and poultry all as snug as you please. The entrance was lighted
with a quaint old shepherd's lantern, not unlike those I had seen used
by shepherds in Hampshire when I was a boy. The entrance was guarded all
night by a number of dogs, and curled up in a special nook was the
herdsman, with a gun of a kind long since discarded in Europe. Such are
the conditions under which these people live half the year, but they
make up for this underground life when in April they start their cattle
on the move by first allowing them to eat their shelters.

Near the edge of this plain we began to encounter a few sand dunes with
outcrops, very similar to those on the coast line of our own country.
Over these we gently ran day after day until we could see vast fields of
sand and scrub that it must have taken thousands of years of gale and
hurricane to deposit in the quaint pyramidal fashion in which they stand
to-day. Even yet they are not fixed; occasionally a tree falls exposing
the naked sand to the action of the wind, which swirls around the hole
and moves the sand into a spiral whirlpool, lifting and carrying it away
to be deposited again on the lea side of a distant valley, choking the
pines and silver birch and sometimes destroying large woods and forests.
It is surprising that though we travelled for hundreds of miles along
the edge of this huge sand plateau we did not see a single rivulet or
stream coming from its direction, though there were the traces of a
river far out on the plain. Sunset on these sand-hills was quite
entrancing. The occasional break in these conical formations, when the
sun was low down, gave one the impression of a vast collection of human
habitations, with gable ends to the highest of the buildings. The fact
is, however, that, so far as we saw or could make out, no human
habitation exists over the whole face of this sea of sand, though men
live quite calmly around the craters of volcanoes and other equally
dangerous and impossible places. The fear created by legends of human
disaster attaching to the local history of these sands is of such a
character that even the daring of the Tartar is for once mastered. The
sands themselves when on the move are dangerous enough, but their
cup-like formation would hide armies until the traveller was in their
midst, when retreat would be impossible. The same applies with greater
force to the banditti or beasts of the desert; hence the gloomy history
and legends of the Mongolian sands.

We arrived at Hazelar on a Saturday evening, and collected our echelons
during the night. On Sunday morning I made application to the priest for
permission to hold our parade service in the grounds of the Greek
church. This was granted, and the parade was a huge success. The
spectacle of the padre (Captain Roberts) in his surplice conducting the
English service under the shadow of the church our help had rescued
from the violence of the Terrorists was very impressive. The service was
watched with intense interest by hundreds of Russian men and women and
by crowds of Chinese, Korean and Tartar plainsmen. Some of the Russian
ladies joined in the responses, and many women's voices joined in the
old English hymns. These were the first religious services that had been
held for a year, and seemed to give assurance to the people that their
troubles were nearly over, that peace had come again. The huge padlock
and chain upon the church door had been removed, and general
thankfulness seemed to be the predominant feeling. The scene was
doubtless very strange to those unaccustomed to united worship by both
priest and people. In these small matters I was extremely punctilious,
as I saw what an impressionable people I had to deal with. I further
calculated that once we had joined in public service together the edge
of hostility would lose its sharpness. I did not leave it at this, but
entered the markets without a guard and held conferences with both
peasant and workman, stating our reasons for coming and the friendly
service we wished to perform. It was clear from the beginning that my
safety depended upon our securing the confidence of the majority of the
people. A mere military parade would have failed, but with a thorough
understanding of our object in entering so far into their country we
gained their confidence and enlisted their help. On the other hand,
there is a small proportion of disgruntled and abnormal people in all
communities who cannot be controlled by reason, and for whom force is
the only argument, and for these we also made ample provision.

There was not much interest in the remainder of the Manchurian and
Mongolian part of the journey until we arrived at Manchulli. This was
occupied by the Japanese Division under the command of General Fugi.
Here it was necessary to get a supply of fresh bread and exercise the
transport. I paid my respects to the Chinese general, who had just lost
part of his barracks, forcibly taken from him for the occupation of
Japanese troops. I also paid an official visit to General Fugi and Staff
and the Russian commandant of the station.




CHAPTER VII

FURTHER INCIDENTS OF OUR JOURNEY


It was at Manchulli that an incident happened which was much talked
about at the time and was given many strange versions. It is quite
easily explained when all the facts are known. It was impossible to
secure proper travelling accommodation for my officers, either at
Spascoe or Nikolsk, but I was informed that such would be provided at
Harbin. In company with the British Consul (Mr. Sly) I called upon the
manager of the railway at Harbin to secure such accommodation. He was
very polite and promised to do all he could to help, but next morning
informed me that no carriage was available, but if I could find one
empty I could take it. I failed, and reported the fact to him. He could
do nothing, but said there were plenty at Manchulli held up by Colonel
Semianoff and the Japanese, who laid hold of every carriage that tried
to get through this station, and that Colonel Semianoff collected a
great revenue by refusing to part with these carriages unless the user
was prepared to pay very high prices for the same. If I was prepared to
take the risk, and would use force if necessary to secure carriages, I
should be able to get them there, and so far as the railway authorities
at Harbin were concerned, I could take any two empty carriages I might
find.

The weather was beginning to get very cold, and each mile added to our
discomfort, and the only accommodation for officers on two of the three
trains were cattle trucks. After my official visit I made request for
two carriages. The station commandant pretended to consult the Russian
and Japanese officials, and then informed me that there was not one
available. I told him it was untrue. He agreed that if I could point out
any carriages unoccupied I could have them. He went with his register to
the carriages I indicated, and he admitted they were idle and empty and
I would be allowed to take them. I put a guard on the carriages and
thought the incident settled, but nothing is settled for long in the Far
East. I made request for these carriages to be shunted on to my trains,
and after a two hours' wait went to the station about the shunting and
was calmly informed that they knew nothing about the carriages. The
commandant, with whom I arranged the matter, had gone home (an old
dodge!), and would not be on duty till to-morrow, and that nothing else
could be done.

It was reported to me that the reason the carriages could not be secured
was that the railway officials of a certain Power had given instructions
that no "class" carriages were to be provided for British officers, as
it was necessary that the population along the route should understand
that we were not considered representatives of a first-class Power.
Englishmen who have not travelled much in the Far East will scarcely
understand the working of the Oriental mind in these matters. An officer
of any Power who travels in a cattle truck will not only lose the
respect of the Oriental for his own person, but will lower the standard
of the country he represents, irrespective of its position in the comity
of nations. The representative of the Isle of Man, if he travelled in
the best style, would stand before the representative of His Majesty the
King if his means of transit were that of a coolie. It is doubtless very
stupid, but it is true. Your means of locomotion fixes your place in the
estimation of the East, because it is visible to them, while your
credentials are not.

I there and then made up my mind to act, and if necessary go "the whole
hog." I informed the authorities that nothing should be shunted in that
station until those two carriages were joined to my trains, and
proceeded to occupy the whole station. Up to this point I had neither
seen nor heard anything of the Japanese in relation to this matter, but
they now came on the scene, and I soon discovered that it was they who
had engineered the whole opposition to the British officers getting
suitable accommodation, and had spirited away the old commandant who had
registered the carriages to me. At first they did not know the correct
line to adopt, but made a request that the guard should be taken off the
station. My answer was, "Yes, instantly, if it is understood that these
carriages are to be shunted to my trains." They agreed to this, and my
guards were taken off, having held the station for twenty-three minutes.
I had my evening meal, and was expecting to start when I was informed
that the Japanese had now placed guards upon my carriages and refused
to allow them to be shunted on to my train. I thought this was just
about the limit, and before taking action decided I had better discover
the reason, if any, for what seemed a definite breach of faith. I
visited the Japanese station officer, and he said that they had just
discovered that these two carriages were set aside to convey General
Fugi to Harbin a few days hence. I refused to believe that such a
discovery could have only just been made, and I would take the carriages
by force if necessary.

It looked very awkward, and a Japanese Staff officer was sent for. I
sent my liaison officer (Colonel Frank) to find the absent station
commandant who had allocated the cars to me. The Japanese Staff officer
was expressing his sorrow for my not being able to get any carriages for
my officers and pointing out how impossible it would be for the train of
General Fugi to be broken up by the loss of the two carriages I had
claimed, when in stalked the old Russian commandant and blew these
apologies sky high by declaring that these carriages had nothing to do
with General Fugi's train; that they were unemployed, and they were
mine. I decided to strengthen the guard to eighteen men on each
carriage, and offered protection to the railwaymen who shunted them to
my train. The Japanese soldiers followed the carriages on to my train,
so that we had the strange sight of a row of Tommies with fixed bayonets
on the cars, and a row of Japanese soldiers on the ground guarding the
same carriages. No officer came to give them open instructions, but the
Jap soldiers disappeared one at a time until the Tommies were left in
undisputed possession.

We returned to my car to find it guarded by Chinese soldiers. I asked
the reason, and was informed that at an earlier stage of this incident a
Chinese officer had been to my car with a note to inform me that the
great friendship which the Chinese always bore to the great English
nation made it impossible for them to stand by and allow their friends
to be attacked while passing through Chinese territory. I thanked them
for their friendship, and suggested that Englishmen were always capable
of protecting themselves in any part of the world, wherever their duty
took them; but they would listen to nothing, and remained on guard until
my train moved out of the station.

I do not suppose there was at any time real danger of a collision
between the different forces at Manchulli, but it had the appearance of
a very ugly episode that might have developed into one of international
importance. I took my stand for the sole purpose of maintaining the
dignity of the British Army. Other incidents connected with this small
dispute about officer accommodation, yet having nothing to do with it,
made me determined to carry my point.

During these proceedings I noticed my liaison officer in angry dispute
with two Japanese officers against a truck carrying the Union Jack as an
indication of the nationality of the train. They were pointing to the
flag in such a manner that I saw at once the dispute was about this
offending emblem. When the Japanese officers had moved away I called
Colonel Frank to me and inquired the cause of dispute. He said: "I can
understand the contempt of the Japanese for our Russia; she is down and
is sick, but why they should wish to insult their Ally, England, I
cannot understand. The Japanese officers who have just left me inquired
where the English commander got his authority to carry an English flag
on his train. I answered it was an English train carrying an English
battalion to Omsk, and no authority was necessary. The Japanese officers
replied that they considered the flying of any other flag than theirs in
Manchuria or Siberia an insult to Japan. I told them they were fools,
that if the English commander had heard their conversation (they both
spoke in Russian) he would demand an apology. At which they grinned and
departed." We tried every means to find the two officers, but were
unable to do so. This was the atmosphere in which we discussed the
smaller subject, and may explain the obstinacy of both sides; at any
rate, it had something to do with my determination.

We arrived at Chita without further incident of importance. Bread and
horse exercise delayed us one whole day, and inability to secure engines
part of another, until in desperation I went with a squad of men to the
sheds and forced an engine-driver to take out his engine, I myself
riding on the tender, where I nearly lost my sight with hot debris from
the funnel, while Major Browne, who stood sentinel beside the driver,
had holes scorched in his uniform. This act of violence secured not only
an engine for my train, but for the others also.

I had broken my glasses, and it was necessary to secure others. I walked
to the town and called at the shop of a jeweller and optician, with whom
we conversed. Other customers joined in the talk, and we were here
informed of the murder of the present owner's mother during the
Bolshevik occupation of the town. The Soviet Commisar, with Red
soldiers, visited the shop one day to loot the stock. The mother, an old
lady over sixty years of age who was then looking after the business,
protested against the robbery of her property. The commisar ordered one
of the Red Guard to bayonet her, which he did. They then proceeded to
remove everything of value, locked up the premises with the dead woman
still lying on the shop floor, and for several days refused permission
to her neighbours to give her decent burial on the plea that she was a
counter-revolutionist. It was evident from the appearance of the place
that the Red soldiers were pretty expert at this sort of business; but
stories like this are so numerous that it is nauseating to repeat them.

The next point of interest was Lake Baikal, or as it is more correctly
described by the Russians, the "Baikal Sea." We approached this famous
lake on a very cold Sunday evening, and long before we reached its
shores the clear cold depths of the water gave evidence of its presence
in the changed atmosphere. A furious gale was blowing across the lake
from the west, which lashed huge waves into fury and foam as they beat
in endless confusion on the rockbound shore. Blinding snow mixed with
the spray gave the inky blackness of the night a weird and sombre
appearance. Our Cossack attendant, Marca, droned a folk-song about the
wonders of the Baikal, which, when interpreted by my liaison officer,
fitted the scene to a fraction. We put up the double windows, listed the
doors and turned in for the night. I was fearful that we should leave
the lake before morning and so fail to get a daylight view of this most
interesting part of our journey. We all awoke early to find the scene so
changed as to appear almost miraculous.

The strange light of these northern zones was gently stealing over an
immense sea of clear, perfectly calm, glassy water, which enabled us to
locate the whiter coloured rocks at enormous depths. A fleecy line of
cloud hung lazily over the snow-capped mountains. The Great Bear nearly
stood on his head, and the Pole Star seemed to be almost over us. The
other stars shone with icy cold brilliance and refused to vanish, though
the sun had begun to rise. And such a rising! We could not see that
welcome giver of warmth and life, but the beautiful orange and purple
halo embraced half the world. From its centre shot upwards huge, long
yellow streamers which penetrated the darkness surrounding the stars and
passed beyond into never-ending space. Gradually these streamers took a
more slanting angle until they touched the highest peaks and drove the
cloud lower and lower down the side of the mountains. I have been on
the Rigi under similar conditions, but there is nothing in the world
like an autumn sunrise on Lake Baikal. I stopped the train ostensibly to
allow water to be obtained for breakfast, but really to allow the men to
enjoy what was in my opinion the greatest sight in the world. Some of
the men were as entranced as myself, while others (including officers)
saw nothing but plenty of clean fresh water for the morning ablutions.
We all have our several tastes even in His Majesty's Army.

Rumour says there are exactly the same fish to be found in Lake Baikal
as in the sea, with other varieties which represent ordinary fresh-water
types. I do not believe there is any authority for these statements. Sea
gulls of every known category are certainly to be found there, and wild
duck in variety and numbers to satisfy the most exacting sportsman.

Passing along this wonderful panorama for some hours we arrived at
Baikal. The maps supplied to me show the railway as making a bee line
from the south of the lake to Irkutsk. This is not so; the line does not
deviate an inch from the western shores of the lake until it touches the
station. Baikal is reached nearly opposite the point at which the
railway strikes the lake on the eastern side. The lake is fed by the
River Selengha, which drains the northern mountains and plains of
Mongolia. No river of importance enters it on the north except the
short, high Anghara; in fact, the rivers Armur and Lenha start from
quite near its northern and eastern extremities. It is drained on the
west by the famous River Anghara, which rises near Baikal, and enters
the Polar Sea at a spot so far north as to be uninhabitable, except for
the white bears who fight for the possession of icebergs.

Baikal had been the scene of a titanic struggle between the
Czecho-Slovak forces and the Bolsheviks, who had in case of defeat
planned the complete and effective destruction of the line by blowing up
the numerous tunnels alongside the lake, which it must have taken at
least two years to repair. The Czechs moved so rapidly, however, that
the enemy were obliged to concentrate at Baikal for the defence of their
own line of communication. Before they had made up their minds that they
were already defeated a lucky Czech shot struck their store of dynamite
and blew the station, their trains, and about three hundred of their men
to smithereens. The remainder retreated off the line in a southerly
direction, and after many days' pursuit were lost in the forests which
form the chief barrier between Siberia and Mongolia, to emerge later on
an important point on the railway near Omsk.

We stopped at Baikal for water and fuel, and examined the damage done by
the explosion. The great iron steamer which used to be employed to
convey the train from one side of the lake to the other was almost
destroyed, its funnels and upper works being wrenched and twisted beyond
repair. But out from every crevice of her hull and from every broken
carriage came German and Austrian prisoners of war dressed in every
conceivable style of uniform. There was no guard of any description, but
they all appeared to be under the direction of a young German officer,
who saluted very stiffly as we passed. No doubt existed amongst these
Germans (so I heard from our men later) that we were tramping towards
Germany and certain death. Not one would believe but that Germany would
win the war, and destroy not only England, but also America. They had no
feelings about France, nor would they consider her as other than an
already half-digested morsel. Quartermaster-Captain Boulton put it to
one prisoner: "But suppose Germany were defeated?" "Then," said the
prisoner, "I would never return to Germany again." We fell in with
thousands of German prisoners who all held a most perplexing view of
ourselves. They described us as the only real and bitter enemy of their
country. But the same men would volunteer to work for us rather than for
any other Ally, because they said we treated them fairly and behaved to
them like men, and listened to their grievances. That is something at
any rate.




CHAPTER VIII

BEYOND THE BAIKAL


From Baikal to Irkutsk is a short run down the left bank of the Anghara.
We arrived at Irkutsk about the same time as a small detachment of
Japanese troops, who were acting as a guard to their traders and their
stores, who usually travel with the army. The Japs have very pretty
bugle calls for different military purposes, mostly in the same key,
with a sort of Morse code for the different orders, but a Japanese bugle
band is the most terrible thing in the world of sound. It makes one
either swear or laugh, according to one's taste. They gave us an
exhibition in moving off from the station, which everyone who heard will
never forget. I was rather surprised to find that the Jap traders had
established themselves at Irkutsk, as their headquarters were at Chita,
which was also the centre of their agent, Semianoff. Why they came to
Irkutsk at all is a problem. It was generally understood that some of
the Allies were prepared to concede them only the fairest part of
Siberia up to Lake Baikal. Perhaps they had heard whispers of the
mineral wealth of the Urals.

Irkutsk, situated on the right bank of the Anghara, is a rather fine old
town for Siberia. Its Greek cathedral has a commanding position, and
contests successfully with the Cadet School for supremacy as the
outstanding architectural feature first to catch the eye. The town is
approached by a quaint, low wooden bridge which spans the swiftly
running river. When we saw it the battered remnants of human society
were grimly collecting themselves together after some months of
Bolshevik anarchy and murder. Whole streets were merely blackened ruins,
and trade, which had been at a complete standstill, was just beginning
to show a return to life. Putting out its feelers, it had taken upon
itself a precarious life not yet free from danger. The 25th Battalion
Middlesex Regiment was the only British unit in the country; it had
spread itself out in a remarkable manner, and shown the flag on a front
of 5,000 miles. In spite of its category it had brought confidence and
hope to a helpless people out of all proportion to its strength or
ability.

A public banquet (the first since the Revolution) was held ostensibly to
welcome Volagodsky, the Social Revolutionary President of the Siberian
Council, but really to welcome the first British regiment that had ever
entered and fought in Siberia. It was a great occasion, and the first
real evidence I had seen of possible national regeneration. Even here it
was decidedly Separatist, and therefore Japanese in character; a
glorification of Siberia and Siberian efforts, completely ignoring the
efforts of other Russians in the different parts of their Empire.
Evanoff Renoff, the Cossack Ataman, led the panegyric of Siberia, and
the President and the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, a long, watery-eyed
young man, joined in the chorus. They were doubtless all well pleased
with themselves, and thoroughly enjoying a partial return to the old
conditions. Colonel Frank translated in a whisper all that was said, so
that I got a good hang to the mental atmosphere of this unique
gathering. The toast of their Ally, Great Britain, was the occasion
which brought me to my feet. The band played "Rule Britannia" as a
substitute for "God Save the King," for the simple reason that though
mostly Social Revolutionaries they dared not play a Royalist hymn until
they had tested the feelings of their audience. This gave me my cue. I
laughed at their fears, and informed them that whatever happened, our
anthem, which for the time represented the unity of our race, would be
played by my band at the ceremonial to-morrow, and all the Bolsheviks in
Russia would not be powerful enough to prevent it. From this I led to
the flag, another great emblem of racial unity. I called attention to
the entire absence of a Russian flag from Vladivostok to Irkutsk, and
asked, "Is this the country of the once great and mighty Russia that a
stranger travels over without knowing what country it is?" I suggested
that though we had twenty revolutions I could never imagine Englishmen
being ashamed of the English flag or afraid to call themselves
Englishmen. The translation of my remarks ended in a wonderful ovation,
and I thought the band would never play anything else but the National
Anthem, which it repeated again and again.

My list of telegrams and messages of every kind and character from every
part of Russia and the outside world, together with constant repetition
of the speech in the Press, indicates plainly that from this day began
the resurrection of the Russian soul. Another sign of renewed vigour and
life was the fact that from that day the Russian flag (minus the Crown)
flew from the flagpost over every big station we passed, and on all
public buildings. The Russians are extremely emotional, and I had
managed to strike the right chord the first time.

The day following we marched to the square space surrounding the
cathedral, and I inspected the newly-formed units of the army. Splendid
men with good physique, but slow and stilted in movement. The remnant of
the cadets who had escaped the general massacre was there, a wonderfully
smart set of beautiful boys, who at a distance, looking at their faces
only, I took for girls, much to the disgust of the colonel in charge. It
was altogether a fine and impressive sight, with big crowds and the fine
cathedral as a background. With the "Present" and "The King" at the end,
every man present uncovered, and an old Russian lady knelt and kissed my
adjutant's hand and blessed us as "saviours," while the commandant asked
for cheers for "the only country which came to our help without
conditions." I wonder how that will pan out?

We were entertained at the British Consul's, followed by a concert at
night. It was terribly cold, and no droshkies were to be had. We had to
walk to the theatre in a blinding snowstorm. At 2 A.M. we started on our
last lap.

The sentiments of the people changed completely every few hundred
miles. After leaving Irkutsk we soon discovered that we were in enemy
territory, and the few weeks, and in some cases days, that had elapsed
since the retirement of the Bolshevik Commissars had left the country
the prey of the desperado. Let there be no mistake, Bolshevism lived by
the grace of the old regime. The peasant had his land, but the Russian
workman had nothing. Not one in a thousand could tell one letter of the
alphabet from another. He was entirely neglected by the State; there was
not a single effective State law dealing with the labour conditions or
the life of the worker in the whole Russian code. His condition was, and
will remain, in spite of the Revolution, utterly neglected and hopeless.
He has not the power to think or act for himself, and is consequently
the prey of every faddist scamp who can string a dozen words together
intelligently. There are no trade unions, because there is no one
amongst them sufficiently intelligent either to organise or manage them.
All the alleged representatives of Labour who have from time to time
visited England pretending to represent the Russian workmen are so many
deputational frauds. There cannot be such a delegate from the very
nature of things, as will be seen if the facts are studied on the spot.
The lower middle classes, especially the professional teacher class,
have invented the figment of organised Russian labour for their own
purpose.

The condition of the Russian workman is such that he can only formulate
his grievances by employing others to do it for him. Hence there has
come into existence numerous professional councils, who for a
consideration visit the workers in their homes and wherever they
congregate, and compile their complaints and grievances. But these
professionals always point out that the rectification of small points
like rates of wages and working hours are a waste of time and energy;
that the real work is to leave the conditions so bad that, in sheer
despair, the worker will rise and destroy capitalism in a night, and
have a perfect millennium made ready for the next morning.

The poor, ignorant, uneducated, neglected Russian workman is perfect and
well-prepared soil for such propaganda. He found himself bound hand and
foot in the meshes of this professional element, who did not belong to
his class and, except in theory, knew nothing of his difficulties. When
this professional element had misled, bamboozled and deserted him, in a
frenzy of despair he determined to destroy this thing called education,
and made the ability to read and write one of the proofs of enmity to
his class on the same principle that our uneducated workmen of the first
half of the nineteenth century destroyed machinery and other progressive
innovations, whose purpose they did not understand. There would be less
chatter about revolution if our people could only understand what it
means to go through the horrors that have destroyed Russia and her
people more effectively than the most ruthless invasion.

We stopped at a station near a mining village largely peopled with
emigrant Chinese workmen. We removed the Bolshevik flag from the
flag-post, and insisted upon the Russian flag being run up in its stead.
A Russian woman told us to go back, and when we asked her why, she said,
"Well, it does not matter; our men will soon find enough earth to bury
you." But another Russian woman thanked us for coming, and hoped we were
not too late to save a country that was sick unto death.

That night we ran into Zema station, where we came to a sudden stop. I
sent my liaison officer to find the cause, and he informed me that a
body of men were beside the engine and threatening to shoot the driver
if he moved another foot. I ordered the "Alarm" to be sounded, and
instantly 400 British soldiers tumbled out of the trucks. Taking their
prearranged positions, they fixed bayonets and awaited orders. My
carriage was the last vehicle of the train. I walked forward to find the
cause of our enforced stoppage, and was just in time to see in the
darkness a squad of armed men leaving the station. I took possession of
the station and telegraphs, and then heard from the officials that
Bolshevik agents had come to the town and had persuaded the workmen to
leave work, to take arms and cut the line to prevent the Allies moving
forward, and await the arrival of the Bolshevik force which had retired
from Baikal. This force had worked its way along the Mongolian frontier,
and was now feeling its way towards the line to destroy the bridge which
carries the railway over the River Ocka at a point about three versts
from Zema. I placed guards around and in the railway works, engine
sheds, and approaches, and discovering telegrams still passing between
the Bolsheviks and the inhabitants, I occupied by force the post and
telegraph office in the town. Orders were issued that all men must
pledge themselves not to interfere with the trains, and return to work
by 6 A.M., or they would be dealt with under martial law. Two hours
elapsed, during which time my other trains arrived, with machine-gun
section complete, and the whole force were disposed to receive attack.

The troops surrounded the house of the leader of the movement, but the
bird had flown. I found some Bolshevik literature advocating the
wholesale destruction of the _bourgeoisie_ and _intelligenzia_ (I forget
which they put first), also 3,600 roubles, which I gave back to the
wife, saying, "That is a gift from me to you." This act disgusted the
local chief of the gendarmerie, who assured me that it was German money
and ought to be confiscated. I had no doubt it was, but then I was
English, and a Hampshire man at that. Then the usual teacher arrived and
asked if he would be allowed to speak to the "Anglisky Polkovnika."
Receiving an affirmative, he entered and began the conversation. He
naively confessed that if he had known it was an "Anglisky" train he
would have allowed it to pass. They had read my order as to their pledge
to return to work, and wanted to know what I proposed to do if they did
not do so. I answered that after having taken up arms against us they
could expect no mercy, and that if they did not obey my orders every
leader I could find I would shoot. The teacher inquired if I would
allow the men to be called together for consultation by their
prearranged signal at the works. I agreed, if they came without arms.
Soon after, the most awful sound came from a huge buzzer. It was now
midnight, and the air was rent by a wailing sound that grew in volume,
to die away into a world sob. Every Britisher there was affected in some
peculiar fashion; to myself it was like nothing so much as a mighty
groan from a nation in distress. Colonel Frank, my Russian guide,
philosopher and friend, ran from the table when the sound began, and
paced the car in evident anguish, and as it died away exclaimed, "Poor
Russia!" and I had felt the same thought running through my mind. All my
men expressed themselves in similar sentiments and as never wanting to
hear it again.

My business was to get out of the place as quickly as possible, but to
leave the line safe. The small militia force was quite inadequate to
deal with a population fully armed. Hence I ordered the surrender of all
arms by the inhabitants, and allowed twelve hours in which this was to
be done.

Six A.M. arrived, and my officers reported all men at work except eight,
and these reported later and asked forgiveness, which was readily
granted. I then informed the management that I intended to call a
meeting of the men and hear their grievances. The management tried to
dissuade me from my purpose, but I at once ordered their attendance in
the headquarters of the works at 10 A.M., when I would hear the men's
complaints. Promptly to time the work finished, and the men crowded to
the spot selected. A British sentry with fixed bayonet and loaded rifle
stood on either side as I sat at the table, while others were placed in
selected positions about the building. I called the managers and heads
of all the departments first, and warned them that I had been forced to
take this trouble into my own hands, that I intended to settle it, and
that if they interfered with the men in any way, either by harsh
measures or victimisation, I would place them under court-martial just
the same as I would any workman who prevented the smooth working of the
railway; in fact, they being presumably more intelligent, would find no
mercy. This information caused quite a commotion amongst all concerned.
I asked the men to state their grievances. The first workman said he had
no economic grievance; his was political. He had been told the Allies
were counter-revolutionists, and as such should be destroyed. Two or
three protested against this, and said they came out on economic
grounds. They said their objection was to piece-work. I tried to get a
statement from them that their wages were low, but they would not
consent to this, admitting that their pay for the same work was five
times what it was in 1917.

I came to the conclusion that it was more of a military movement on the
part of the Bolshevik leaders than a strike such as we understand it in
England. I gave my decision that the men's leaders were to be tried by
General Field Court-Martial. The men's committee then said that they had
never had the chance to meet anyone in authority before, that they were
anxious not to appear as enemies to the great English people, that if I
would carry out no further repressive action against them, they would
continue to work until the end of the war. They heard that Bolsheviks
were approaching their town, and knew the tortures in store for them if
they were found continuing to help the Allies in their advance to the
Urals. If I would secure protection for them they would sign an
agreement never to strike until the war in Russia had ended. I believed
them, and the agreement was signed, but I insisted upon disarmament.

That evening the time limit in which the arms were to be handed in
expired. We were informed by the local militia that some arms were
handed in voluntarily, but many more remained.

The following morning a train with General Knox and his Staff pulled
into the station. I reported the whole occurrence to the general, and
how I had received and sent forward notice of his coming and the object
of his journey. It was here that he informed me of the outrage which the
Japanese officers had perpetrated upon him, in spite of the fact that a
big Union Jack was painted on the side of each carriage of his train.

The inhabitants of Zema were just congratulating themselves on having
got rid of the "Anglisky" when they suddenly found machine guns in
position ready to spray all their main thoroughfares with lead should
the occasion arise. Sections of the town were searched, house by house,
until the piles of arms necessitated transport to remove them. Real
sporting guns which could be used for no other purpose, and the owner
of which was guaranteed by the local police, were returned. In some
houses dumps of looted fabrics from other towns were taken possession
of, and altogether work for the courts was found for the next two
months.

The echo of Zema travelled far and wide, and gave the authorities an
object-lesson how to tackle a cancer as deadly as it was devilish. When
Kerensky destroyed the old Russian army sixteen million ignorant and
uneducated soldiers took their rifles and ammunition home. This was the
insoluble problem of every attempt to re-establish order in the Russian
dominions. The Middlesex Regiment made the first plunge at Zema, and
others soon followed along the path indicated. We re-armed the local
militia, and we took the remainder of the confiscated arms to Omsk,
where they were taken over by the Russian authorities for the new
Russian army. I wired to Irkutsk for reinforcements for the local
militia, as I did not think them strong enough to deal with the
possibilities of the situation. The commandant at Irkutsk wired that he
had information which proved there was no truth in the rumoured approach
of Bolshevik forces, which reply I knew from the experience I had gained
in Russian ways merely indicated his determination not to weaken his own
guard.

At midnight I started on my further journey. About a fortnight later I
received a despairing message from the local militia chief at Zema for
help; he said he was nearly surrounded by the Baikal Bolshevik
contingent, which had suddenly appeared. I took the message to Russian
Headquarters at Omsk, and called attention to my wire to Irkutsk and the
refusal to protect this part of the line. Later I received a report from
the commander of the Russian force sent to deal with the situation. He
said that the Bolshevik leader had come into Zema expecting to receive
material and military help from the people. He found them disarmed and
unfriendly, and determined to take no part in further outrages against
established order. He wreaked vengeance upon some of his false friends,
and was then surprised by Government troops, who dispersed his forces,
killing 180 and capturing 800, together with ten machine guns and 150
horses.

As a rule, Bolshevik contingents were easily disposed of in a town. They
usually looted everything and everybody. Officers were elected from day
to day, with the result that such a thing as discipline did not exist.
Still, had that party arrived when I was in Zema we should have had a
pitched battle worth a lifetime, for as it turned out they had many
machine guns, while we had only four; but there would never have been
any doubt about the result, for though we were only a "garrison
battalion," the steadiness of my men under fire had hitherto been
excellent.

We had been passing through hundreds of miles of wonderful virgin
forests for the last two weeks, with only an occasional opening for
village cultivation and an occasional log town of more or less
importance. The hills and valleys as we approached Krasnoyarsk, covered
with pine trees and frozen rivers, looked like a huge never-ending
Christmas card. At last we arrived at Krasnoyarsk, a large, straggling
town of great importance on the River Yenisei. As we approached we
passed miles of derelict war material--tractors, wagons, guns of every
kind and calibre all cast aside as useless, there being no place where
minor defects could be repaired. Some had no apparent defects, but there
they lay, useful and useless, a monument to the entire absence of
organisation in everything Russian.

I had suffered a slight indisposition, so Major Browne deputised for me,
and inspected the Russian and Czech guards of honour drawn up to welcome
the troops on their arrival. I found the town in a very disturbed
condition, and as it was necessary to guard the great bridge, I accepted
the suggestion to quarter a company under the command of Captain
Eastman, O.B.E., in the excellent barracks which had been prepared for
my unit. This place had been originally fixed upon as the station for
the whole battalion, but important events were happening in Omsk. Our
High Commissioner, Sir Charles Eliot, and the Chief of the British
Military Mission, General Knox, had already arrived there, and required
a guard, hence I was ordered to proceed with the remainder of my
battalion. We remained in Krasnoyarsk for two days, and marched through
the town and saluted the British Consulate. On the last evening the
usual banquet was held in our honour, and is worth a few words because
of an incident which created great interest at the time. The guests were
made up of many officers and others in uniform, and also civilian
representatives of the Town Council, the district Zemstvo, and other
public organisations. The usual fraternal speeches and toasts were
given, and not more than the usual six speakers attempted to deliver an
address at one time. A number of dark-featured, glowering civilians sat
at a table almost opposite to myself, men who by their attire and sombre
looks appeared to be unsuited to the banquet atmosphere, and out of
place amongst the gorgeous uniforms of Cossack Atamans and Russian
generals. They seemed to take not the slightest interest in the
proceedings except for a few moments when certain of my words were being
translated. All seemed bent on the business of the evening and a good
dinner, indicating a return to normal conditions. A Social Revolutionary
representative of the town delivered a furious tirade, which I could get
my officer to translate only in part, but even that part showed me the
world-wide division of opinion amongst my Russian hosts.

The orchestra, composed of German and Austrian prisoners, discoursed
sweet music during the evening, alternately listening to the fiery
eloquence of Cossack and Tartar. A Cossack officer, who had drunk a
little vodka, rose and gave an order to the band, but the prisoners only
got out about three notes. What was in those notes, Heaven only knows!
Instantly the whole banqueting hall was a scene of indescribable
confusion. Tartar and Cossack shouted with glee; older Russian officers
ordered the band to stop, and vainly tried to silence the disorder. The
dark-visaged and apparently unemotional civilians threw off their
armour of unconcern, and hurled epithets and shook clenched fists and
defiance at their military fellow-countrymen. Then they all rushed out
of the building in a body, hissing and spluttering like a badly
constructed fuse in a powder trail. It was like the explosion of a small
magazine. I had no idea what had happened, but took in the full
significance of the scene I had witnessed when told that the notes which
had acted like a bomb formed the first bar of "God Save the Tsar." A few
miles farther on the Autocrat of All the Russias had already met an
ignominious death by being thrown down a disused pit near the line
dividing Asia and Europe. In death, as in life, he remained the divider
of his people.

The trains started off during the night, and on the evening of the next
day we arrived at Hachinsk, where a Russian guard did the usual military
honours, and a sad-faced, deep-eyed priest presented me with bread and
salt, as becomes a Tartar who welcomes a friend. It was lucky for me
that I had some little training in public speaking, and that "Polkovnika
Franka" could make such excellent translations, or we might not have
made such a good impression as I flatter myself we did on some
occasions.

At last we arrived at Omsk, the end of our journey, having passed in a
zigzag direction almost round the world. A few miles to the Urals and
Europe again--so near and yet so far!




CHAPTER IX

OMSK


As Omsk, unlike so many other towns of Siberia, did not care to pay the
usual toll demanded by the railway prospectors, it is situated several
versts from the main trunk line. To overcome this inconvenience a branch
line was afterwards run up to the town itself. The date of our arrival
was October 18, and a right royal welcome awaited us. The station was
decorated with the flags of all nations, the Russian for the first time
predominating. We were met by General Matkofsky, the commander of the
district, and his Staff, who welcomed us on behalf of the new Russian
army, by M. Golovaehoff, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the
representatives of the municipal authorities and the co-operative
societies. The women of Russia presented us with bread and salt, and,
generally speaking, the people of Omsk gave us a real Russian welcome.
The ceremonial over, the men were taken to the Cadet School for tea and
entertainment, while the Russian officers regaled the Middlesex officers
at a feast in the Officers' Club. We were introduced to all and sundry,
and began to mix wonderfully well. If we had laid ourselves out for it,
we might have visited every decent Russian home in Omsk. As it was, we
soon became so much in demand that most of us had in a short time
formed lasting friendships with a very charming set of people. Their
welcome was doubtless tinged with relief at the security afforded by the
presence of well-disciplined troops. The wife of a Russian general told
me that she felt as though for the first time she could sleep peacefully
in her bed. The little cadet son of another officer gave permission for
his loaded rifle to be taken from the side of his bed, where it had
rested every night since the Bolshevik Revolution and the cadet
massacres had commenced. If I understand the Russian character denials
of this may be expected, but it is a fact that the presence of those 800
English soldiers gave a sense of confidence and security to the people
of Omsk that was pathetic in its simplicity and warmth. However
suspicious of each other as a rule the Russians may be, there is no
question that when their confidence is given, it is given generously and
without reservation. As to its lasting qualities, that has to be proved,
but at the time it is something real and tangible, and no amount of
trouble taken for one's comfort is too great.

On the date of arrival I had only a few moments for conversation with
Sir Charles Eliot, our High Commissioner, on the political situation. I
gathered from him and his Staff that a desperate effort was being made
to join the forces of the Directorate of Five, which stood as the
All-Russian Government and received its authority from the Constituent
Assembly at Ufa--largely Social Revolutionary in character--and the
Siberian Government, the outcome of the Siberian Districts Duma, which
met at Tomsk and was largely reactionary, with a small mixture of
Socialist opinion. The English and French representatives were genuinely
anxious that a workable compromise should be made between these two
groups and a Cabinet formed that would give confidence to moderate
Russian opinion, and so command Allied recognition with reasonable
prospects of success. This very desirable ambition of the Allied
"politicals" had the sympathy of every friend of Russia, but advice is
one thing, accomplishment another. It was impossible to expect that the
effects of hundreds of years of tyranny and bad government could be
swept away by the waving of a diplomatic wand. The Siberian Government
was largely composed of the "old gang," Revolutionary and Royalist, and
derived its support almost exclusively from the desire of the people to
escape further bloodshed; it was guarded by the Royalist Cossack clans,
as lawless as they are brave. The Ufa Directorate derived its authority
from the moderate Social Revolutionary party composed of the
"Intelligenzia"--republican, visionary, and impractical. Kerensky was,
from all accounts, a perfect representative of this class, verbose and
useless so far as practical reconstructive work was concerned. This
class blamed the unswerving loyalty of the Cossacks and the old army
officers for all the crimes of which the Tsars were guilty, and had
hunted them like rats in cellars and streets during the worst days of
the Second Revolution. The officer and Cossack class cursed Kerensky and
the Social Revolutionaries for destroying the old army and letting free
the forces of anarchy and Bolshevism, which had destroyed the State and
had massacred the manhood of Russia in an orgy of violence and hate.

There should be no mistake made as to the apportionment of blame.
Kerensky is considered by all classes of Russian society as the cause of
all their calamities. They think, rightly or wrongly, that at the
supreme moment when the destiny of his race and country was placed in
his hands he proved traitor to the trust; that had he possessed
one-tenth of the courage of either Lenin or Trotsky millions of Russians
would have been saved from worse than death.

To combine these hostile and divergent elements into a united party for
the resurrection of Russia seemed impossible to me, as it did to one
other Britisher, Mr. David Frazer, the _Times_ Pekin correspondent; but
the "politicals" thought otherwise. That they were guided by the highest
motives and that they gave of their very best in the interest of the
Russian people no one who has the slightest knowledge of the high
personal character of our representatives could doubt for a moment, but
they tried to accomplish the unattainable. The most that could be said
of their policy is that it was worth attempting. Try they did, and under
the influence of the Bolshevik guns booming along the Urals and of
Royalist conspiracies at Chita a piece of paper was produced with a
number of names upon it which seemed to bear the resemblance of a
working arrangement between these two opposites.

I am writing this within three weeks of the occurrence, and may modify
my views later, but for the life of me I cannot understand the
satisfaction of our "politicals" with their work. They "downed tools" at
once and disappeared from the scene of their triumph as though the few
names on a piece of paper had solved the whole problem of the future of
Russia. It would be mighty interesting to know the nature of their
communications to their respective Governments. One thing, however, had
been done which was fated to have important after-effects. Vice-Admiral
Koltchak had been brought into the new Council of Ministers with the
title of Minister for War. I had never met the officer, and knew nothing
about him or his reputation, and merely lumped him in with the rest as
an additional unit in an overcrowded menagerie. Frazer and I had many
talks about these events, but we could fasten on to nothing real in the
situation except danger.

On November 6, 1918, we were all invited to a banquet in honour of this
new All-Russian Government. It was to be the climax of all our efforts
and a tangible evidence of the successful accomplishment of a great
diplomatic task. I was rather late, and the ante-rooms were already
filled with soldiers and diplomats in grand uniforms with glittering
swords and decorations.

I watched this peculiar and intensely highly-strung crowd with the
greatest interest, and except for one figure--a sort of cross between a
Methodist parson and a Plymouth Brother--was struck by the complete
absence of personality amongst the people present. The parsonified
person referred to turned out to be the Social Revolutionary,
Volagodsky, President of the Siberian Council, who had now transferred
his love from Siberia to the whole of Russia. But as my liaison officer
was repeating the names of those present a smart little energetic figure
entered the room. With eagle eyes he took in the whole scene at a
glance. The other officers had bowed gracefully to all their friends and
gallantly kissed the ladies' hands, while around them buzzed the
conversation. For an instant the buzz ceased, during which the brown
figure with the dark, clear-cut face shook hands with an officer friend
and departed. The impression on my mind was that I had seen a small,
vagrant, lonely, troubled soul without a friend enter unbidden to a
feast.

The new President of the Council of Ministers, Avkzentieff, presided at
the banquet, and as we sat down I found myself at the end of the head
table, which gave me a good view of the stranger I had seen in the
vestibule sitting second round the corner. The dinner was good, the
vodka gave warmth to the blood and made a very pleasant contrast to the
"60 below" outside. Avkzentieff led the speeches. Immediately my mind
flew to Hyde Park Corner, and then to the Lyceum stage with Irving in
"The Bells." He spoke with assumed sincerity, cutting the air with his
hands in the manner that a Cossack sweeps off a head with his blade. He
sank his voice and hissed his words in a hoarse stage whisper, while
pointing to the ceiling with a dramatic forefinger. In other words, he
was the best actor it had been my pleasure to see for a long time--a
second edition of his more famous colleague, the futile Kerensky.
Little did I dream that within a few days I would beg for this man's
life and that the Middlesex Regiment would shield him from eternity.

Then followed a speech by General Knox (Chief of the British Military
Mission), who implored all classes of Russian thought to pull together
to establish an Army and a Government capable of supporting law and
public order, a speech full of patriotism and very much to the point.
Then came General Bolderoff, Commander-in-Chief of the new Russian army
and military member of the Ufa Directorate. He had the appearance of a
big, brave, blundering Russian officer. Not too much brain, cunning, but
not clever. I should, however, give him credit for more than ordinary
honesty. Later Admiral Koltchak spoke--just a few short definite
sentences. Very few cheers or shouts greeted this orator. He seemed more
lonely than ever, but presented a personality that dominated the whole
gathering. There was the usual passing round and signing of menus. I
sent mine direct to the admiral for his signature, and when he
automatically passed it to General Bolderoff I said "Neat," and it was
returned with the solitary name of this solitary man. I was now
absolutely satisfied that the new Government was a combination that
refused to mix, and took the most stringent precautions to see that my
unit did not become involved in its impending overthrow. I, however,
made an important discovery at this congratulatory banquet, namely, that
Russia still had one man who was able to rescue her from anarchy.

The business of Omsk went on much as usual, but Omsk society became
more subdued in its whisperings. Clique countered clique, and
conspirators undermined conspirators, while a peculiar tension hung over
all.

During the negotiations connected with the formation of this Government
a very serious hitch occurred which at one time threatened the whole
project with disaster. General Bolderoff was known as a Social
Revolutionary in politics. Through him the Social Revolutionaries had
practically supreme control of the new army. Avkzentieff and Co., aiming
at Social Revolutionary control of all the forces of the new Government,
demanded that a Social Revolutionary should also control the
newly-organised militia, which were to act as a sort of military police
under the new regime. This was resented by the more moderate members of
both groups, as it would have practically placed all power in the hands
of one group, and that not distinguished for administrative ability or
caution. In addition to which, the very claim made the moderates
suspicious as to the use for which such power was to be employed. The
presence of the Allies and the determination to form some sort of
administration overcame these suspicions, and the moderates gave way and
left both forces under the command of the Social Revolutionary group.

The Allies were pushing forward supplies intended for the new armies
facing the Terrorists along the Ural front, but it was soon discovered
that such arms were being deflected from their proper destination. The
front line was kept denuded of arms and equipment of which it was in
greatest need, while the militia in the rear, and under the Social
Revolutionary control, were being regimented and fitted out with
everything they required. The appeals of the front-line generals to
Bolderoff, the Social Revolutionary Commander-in-Chief, fell on deaf
ears, and things were getting into a serious condition. Admiral
Koltchak, as Minister for War, presented the appeals to General
Bolderoff, and backed them in a very determined manner. Bolderoff was
equally outspoken, declaring that the appeals from the front were
fictitious, and concluded one of these wrangles by informing the admiral
that it was not his business; that the Social Revolutionary group had
been forced by one of the Allies to accept the admiral as a member of
the Government; that they had done so merely to secure Allied support
and recognition, but he would remain a member of the Government only so
long as he did not interfere in business from which, by a resolution of
the Directorate, he was expressly excluded. Admiral Koltchak thereupon
tendered his resignation, but was later prevailed upon to withdraw it so
as to keep up a resemblance of harmony before the Allied Powers. He,
however, insisted upon making a personal inspection of the front, for
which permission was granted, as much to get him out of Omsk as for the
proper performance of his ministerial duties.




CHAPTER X

ALONG THE URALS


On November 4 I received a telegram from Mr. Preston, British Consul at
Ekaterinburg, asking that a detachment might be sent to attend on
November 9 at the inauguration of Czech national life and the ceremonial
presentation of colours to four Czech battalions of the Czech National
Army. I consulted General Knox, and he having received a similar request
from General Gaida, commanding at Ekaterinburg, that a detachment should
visit the several fronts over the Urals for the purpose of giving moral
support to the war-weary veterans of our Allies, it was decided that I
should take the regimental band and a guard of one hundred picked men
for this purpose. Both Czech and Russian were sad at the long weary wait
between the promised help of England and the appearance of the first
khaki-clad soldier on the scene.

All preparations had been made for my journey, and I was timed to start
from Omsk at 3 P.M. on Friday. Early on Friday I was informed that
Admiral Koltchak, the Minister for War, was also travelling to the Czech
ceremony, and, as engines were very scarce, would I allow his carriage
to be attached to my train? I readily consented. About midday a further
note informed me that the admiral's own car was found to be full of the
wives and children of his old naval officers, that there were no other
cars, but they hoped to be able to get another by 7 P.M. The result was
that we did not turn out of the town station till that hour. We had only
got to the lower station, less than a mile on our journey, when the
officials informed me that something had broken on the admiral's
carriage which would take two hours to repair. I felt there was a
deliberate attempt being made by someone to prevent either the admiral
or myself from performing our journey. At 11 P.M. I walked out to the
workshops where the repairs were being effected, and sat on an anvil
until 4 A.M., through a horrible Siberian night, while a good-tempered
"Russky" blacksmith accomplished his part of the task.

No Russian official would dream of doing a straight thing if a crooked
one would accomplish his purpose. So "Polkovnika" Frank telegraphed in
my name to all the railway section commandants ordering them under pain
of summary execution to clear their part of the line and prepare express
engines at each stopping-place ready to haul on to the admiral's train
the moment it came in. We bribed an old Russian _provodnik_ to get us a
Russian flag to fasten on the admiral's carriage, which he did, and we
became the first Russian train that had dared to carry a Russian flag
for nearly a year. We also had two Union Jacks, and altogether the
Russian officials became suspicious that here at any rate was a
combination of colour to which the greatest respect must be paid.

The result was that we finally started on our journey at 7 A.M. instead
of 7 P.M., just twelve hours late, and arrived at our destination one
hour in front of time. Guards of honour awaited us, and breakfast of a
more or less scanty character. A presentation of bread and salt, on a
fine wooden dish on which the ladies had painted a picture of the old
monastery under whose walls the great Czech national ceremony was to
take place. We marched past the building in which the Tsar Nicholas II
and his family had been imprisoned and from which they were taken to
die. I am anxious not to believe the untold horrors alleged to have been
inflicted on the female members of his family, but they are told
categorically. It is best to believe nothing one hears in Russia, and
what one actually sees is not always what it seems.

We saluted the flag at the Consulate, where our great good comrade and
fellow-countryman, Consul Preston, gave warmth and good cheer to man and
beast. Suddenly we turned to the right and entered a huge square,
already surrounded by Czech troops, infantry, artillery and cavalry. It
was indeed a great sight. On the highest corner of the square a platform
was erected, on the right of which we were given the post of honour, and
for some strange reason which I could not understand were asked to play
the British National Anthem, when the whole Czech Army came to the
"Present!" as General Gaida and his Staff, with the colours, entered the
square. I felt that we were celebrating the birth of a nation. The scene
had that peculiar solemnity about it that makes the moment feel
pregnant with world events. One of the units was my old Ussurie
battalion, and our old chum, Captain (now Colonel) Stephan, was the
proudest man there, as he bore from the hands of the priest the
newly-consecrated colours of his country. What quantities of beer we
shall drink together if I ever see him in his dear Prague, thinking of
our thirsty days in Eastern Siberia!

It was my first introduction to the dashing young Czech officer, General
Gaida, who by sheer pluck had played such an important part in cutting a
way for his army from west to east. We had the usual banquet, at which
Admiral Koltchak delivered the first important speech since his
appointment as Minister for War. I gave expression to the delight of my
own country at the birth of new nations and the resurrection of freedom
amongst the subject people of the world. I also gave expression to my
pleasure that the first act of the new Russian Minister for War was to
visit his army at the front and make himself personally acquainted with
the conditions of the Russian soldiers who were so gallantly fighting to
protect the people and the State from violence and anarchy.

The ceremony over, we started at once for the Kunghure front, and the
early morning found us sliding rapidly down the European side of the
Urals. Huge forests, all loaded with snow, covered the mountain sides,
and there was a temperature quite impossible for British military
operations. We arrived about 11 A.M. at the headquarters of the army
under the command of General Count Galitzin. We held long conferences
and then lunched in his mess, which was quartered in an eight-wheeled
American truck. An occasional shell exploded first to right and then to
left, but none came very near, and by 2 P.M. the firing died away
altogether. It was decided to march to the advanced outpost and take the
band to give both friend and foe an opportunity to judge a sample of
British music. We got to the extreme point near which a cutting in the
railway gave excellent protection for the band, while the admiral's
Staff and my Middlesex guard went forward to have a look at the enemy.
The band started "Colonel Bogey," then went on to something which I do
not remember, but while we were groping about through machine-gun pits,
etc., the band behind began "Tipperary." That just put the finishing
touch to Bolshevik patience! This famous war tune got on their gunners'
nerves and they began to shell the tune for all they were worth.
Needless to say not a single shell went anywhere near the mark. All
shrieked over our heads and exploded harmlessly among the forest trees;
one, however, dropped near the railway bridge and went off like a
Hampstead squib on a wet bonfire night. It shows an utter lack of
culture among the Bolshevik officers that they could not appreciate good
music after we had taken so much trouble to bring it within their reach.
The band finished and the shelling ended. I expect they fancied they had
frightened my bandsmen, but the fact was they enjoyed the unique
experience immensely.

General Count Galitzin is a very fine type of the officer of the old
regime; an aristocrat to his finger tips, but a fine leader of men, born
to command. I should think there is a big strain of Tartar blood in his
make-up, but he is altogether the sort of man one would prefer to meet
as friend rather than foe. We discussed the possibility of an offensive
in the direction of Perm, from where I humorously suggested we might be
able to rescue the forces of General Poole, which had gone into winter
quarters somewhere in the direction of Archangel. We returned to
Ekaterinburg, and without stopping, proceeded towards the Lisvin front
to meet General Pepelaieff.

We arrived on the Lisvin front about 10 A.M. next day, but did not see
the enemy or hear his guns. This army had been compelled to retire some
60 versts the very day we were discussing an advance on Perm, and its
present position was none too secure. Pepelaieff is a young general, not
more than thirty, but looked a real hard-working soldier. His uniform
was as dirty and worn, though not quite so dilapidated, as the majority
of his soldiers. He had absolute confidence that he could beat the enemy
if his men had rifles and ammunition, which many had not. Half his men
were waiting for the rifles of comrades who might be killed or frozen in
the snow. The conferences were quite businesslike, and Admiral
Koltchak's presence seemed to galvanise the whole army into life and
energy. The "Russky soldat," whose boots had long since disappeared and
whose feet were bound up in bags to protect them from the snow, felt
almost certain that proper boots and clothes would follow from the War
Minister's visit. Pepelaieff came back in my carriage to meet General
Gaida, and the admiral also relished a British soldier's ration as we
discussed things generally, including the proposed advance and the
necessary measures to make it into a victory.

We were to have gone next to the extreme right, where General Verzbitsky
operated on the flank, but the admiral said the condition of the
soldiers was very sad, and his immediate business was to organise the
rear and so secure the means by which the soldier at the front could do
his duty. We saw the ceremonial of the presentation of colours to the
11th Siberian Rifles, a fine proceeding greatly enhanced by the fact
that three officers of the regiment had rescued the colours (originally
presented by Peter the Great) from the Bolshevik Revolutionaries, and as
pedlars and peasants had tramped for months through the Bolshevik lines
and brought them safely to the new regiment.

It was necessary for the admiral to see General Surovey and General
Detriks and their Staffs at Chilliyabinsk, and also to have a look at
the Ufa front. Travelling all night, we arrived at Chilliyabinsk next
morning, and after quite a formal inspection of guards, we adjourned for
lunch. The date I do not remember, but my old friend Colonel Pichon
burst through all etiquette to inform me of the terms of armistice
between Germany and the Entente, and brought out a bottle of champagne
he had preserved for the occasion; we swore by all the powers above and
below that we were the greatest people the world had ever seen in all
its ages and intended to remain so.

Lunch over, I left the admiral to his generals and walked a little
through this straggling, snow-swept town, firmly believing that we were
about to start for Ufa. At 5 P.M. I was informed that the conferences
were over and there were urgent reasons for an immediate return to Omsk.
I did not object as I was not anxious to see more of this army of
ill-fed, half-clad soldiers struggling to save the State under
intolerable conditions. We started on our return journey and travelled
till 11 A.M. next day, by which time we had arrived at Petropalovsk.
Here the station commandant informed us that General Bolderoff wished
our train to wait for his, as it was most essential that he should have
a conference with the Minister for War. This was the first intimation I
had received that General Bolderoff had left Omsk and was on his way to
visit the Ufa front. The admiral invited me to his carriage and
explained the critical situation at Omsk, but could give no reason for
the sudden decision of the Commander-in-Chief to leave Omsk and meet him
on the way. I had my suspicions that the two groups of the Government
had come to grips, and that each had decided to destroy the other; that
Admiral Koltchak was to be sounded as to which of these groups had his
favour, and that his life, and perhaps that of his British escort, would
depend upon his answer. Bolderoff and the people at Omsk were unaware of
the presence of the British escort or its numbers, and while they may
have discovered our joint appearance at the Ekaterinburg function, there
had been no original decision to accompany the admiral to Chilliyabinsk.
That was only arranged the previous day. In revolutions you can never be
too careful, hence I gave orders to my men to load and be ready for
instant action if necessary. Orders were also issued to patrol the
platform and allow no people, uniformed or otherwise, to collect near
the trains, and in no circumstances were the two soldiers who were to
accompany the admiral to lose sight of him for one instant without
reporting it to me. Two others stood guard at the entrance to General
Bolderoff's carriage. When I saw the look on the face of the
Commander-in-Chief's attendants I was satisfied that my precautions were
no more than necessary.

The general's train drew into the station and Admiral Koltchak entered
Bolderoff's carriage at exactly 12 noon on November 6, 1918. I asked my
servant, Moorman, to take a "snap" of the two trains, as I felt that
this conference was full of big events for Russia. While taking the snap
a returned emigrant workman spoke to Moorman in good English. He asked
who all these officers were and what they were all talking about, and
when my servant informed him he did not know, the emigrant said: "It is
all right so long as they do not want to bring back the old regime, but
if that is their object I can tell them that Russia will never submit to
live under the old regime again." I thought, and think now, that in that
workman's words I heard the voice of Russia. The conference between the
admiral and the general broke up at five o'clock; it had lasted five
hours.

The admiral was hungry and came into my carriage for something to eat;
his servants had nothing ready as it is the Russian custom never to
begin to prepare a meal till you are ready to eat it. After the meal we
talked, and from the conversation I gathered the nature of the questions
discussed at his conference with the Commander-in-Chief. He asked me
whether in England our Minister for War had any responsibilities placed
upon him for the supply of clothing, equipment and general condition of
the British Army? I replied that in England the Minister for War was
responsible to the Cabinet and, through Parliament, to the country for
the general efficiency of the British Army in every detail. He answered:
"What would you think in England if the Commander-in-Chief told the
Minister for War that these matters had nothing to do with him, that he
would be allowed to keep a small office with two clerks but no staff, as
it was the Minister for War's name only that was of any use to the
Directorate (or in your case Cabinet), and the less he interfered with
the affairs of his department the better for all concerned?" I answered:
"If I were the Minister I should claim to have absolute control of my
department, or resign." He thought a minute and said: "That is what I
have done," or "what I intend to do," I forget which. From what followed
I think it must have been the former, because I asked him what General
Bolderoff said in answer to his claim, to which he replied: "General
Bolderoff is a very good man, and though he does not see everything as
I wish, I think he understands the situation, and will himself ask that
greater power should be given to enable me to save the new Russian army,
that it may be able to resurrect the Russian State." I well remember
that word "resurrect"; it was so pregnant with truth. The State _was_
dead, Russia was no more; resurrection was necessary.

We arrived at Omsk town station at 5.30 on the evening of November 17,
1918. The admiral thanked me for my help and my guard and for the
kindness and protection I had afforded him. I promised him my continued
help and sympathy in his patriotic attempt to revive the spirit of his
people. He went straight to his lodgings and remained there.

The _Times_ correspondent in a message to his newspaper has suggested
that the admiral had prior knowledge of what was to happen that night in
Omsk. I do not think that was the case. He may have guessed that
something very unpleasant was in the wind--the least sensitive amongst
those behind the scenes knew that--but what it was, from which direction
it would come or on whom it would fall was a secret known to but very
few, and I am convinced that the admiral, except in a second degree, was
not one of them. Colonel (soon to be General) Lebediff could tell the
whole story, though his name was not even mentioned during the _coup
d'etat_. A young and able Cossack officer, he was on the Staff of
Korniloff when Kerensky invited the great Cossack general to march his
army to Petrograd to save the newly-elected National Assembly. It is
well known how, when Korniloff obeyed Kerensky's order, he
treacherously turned and rent to pieces the only force which was moving
at his own request and could have saved Russia. He, in turn, became the
victim of the ghouls who urged him to this act of destruction. Lebediff
escaped, but one can be certain that he retained a lasting hate towards
the Social Revolutionaries who had betrayed his great leader.

The comrades of Kerensky, and in some cases the actual betrayers, had
found refuge in the Directorate of Five and the Council of Ministers,
and were continuing to play the same double game which had brought ruin
on the first National Assembly and disaster upon the Russian people.
They were members of the same futile crowd of useless charlatans who by
their pusillanimity had made their country a byword and the Treaty of
Brest-Litovsk possible. I was in a position to judge. I was certain that
this young man was the wrong sort to allow the execution of his chief to
pass without attempting punishment.

He had drifted down to Southern Russia and joined General Denikin in his
first efforts against the Bolsheviks. Sent from Denikin with dispatches
to Omsk, he became the centre of a group of desperadoes who were in want
of a cool brain to make them formidable. The state of Omsk at this time
was simply indescribable. Every night as soon as darkness set in rifle
and revolver shots and shouts could be heard in all directions. The
morning sanitary carts picked up from five to twenty dead officers.
There were no police, no courts, no law, no anything. In desperation
the officers grouped themselves together and hit back indiscriminately
at the people they thought responsible for the murder of their comrades.
So a fair proportion of civilian bodies became mixed up with those
wearing uniforms. That the officers got home at last on the right people
is proved by the fact that these nightly murders became fewer and then
practically ceased altogether.

It was into this scene of blood that we were hurled, and this was the
condition which had become quite normal in the capital under the rule of
the five-pointed Directorate. Its members were the most unmitigated
failures that even poor distracted Russia had so far produced, and the
people waited, hoping and longing, for their speedy removal. I was not
at all surprised when, next morning, my liaison officer, Colonel Frank,
returned from the Russian Headquarters in great perturbation and with
great excitement informed me that Russia was doomed never to rise out of
her troubles. I asked why. He answered that during the night some
villains had arrested the Social Revolutionary members of the
Directorate and Government, that no one at Headquarters knew the persons
who had again upset the whole government of the country, and he had no
doubt that the members of the late Government were already murdered. I
took the necessary precautions for the safety of my command and awaited
developments. I knew that the telegraph to the east was cut and that a
_coup d'etat_ was in course of execution.




CHAPTER XI

WHAT HAPPENED AT OMSK


At 11 A.M. on November 18 I was officially informed that the Council of
Ministers had met at 9 A.M., and were now in session, having met to
consider the situation produced by the arrest of the Directorate. They
had already asked Admiral Koltchak to accept supreme authority, that he
had refused, but the Ministers had great hope that for the sake of
Russia the admiral could be prevailed upon to take the burden of
Government upon himself, as it appeared to be the only means of getting
the country out of her desperate situation. The wildest rumours were in
circulation: that my carriage would be attacked by bombs, that the
British would at any time be obliged to fight for their lives. I told my
informants that they need not worry about us; we were well able to take
care of ourselves. They could not understand our indifference. The fact
was that not a man or officer in my battalion had the slightest inkling
of the position. Then the tune changed. Would I defend the Ministers who
were still in session if they were attacked? My answer was that any
political refugee who sought asylum in my lines would be protected, but
he must give up every idea of again taking any part in Russian affairs.
"But what would you do if the Russian troops revolted and sought to
murder those who had come into your lines. Would you give them up?"
"Never!" "What if the Czech commanders made the demand?" "Still never;
besides which the Czechs are too honourable ever to make a demand such
as no soldier could accept." The last question was the most important of
all, and was doubtless the kernel of the whole series, the others being
mere camouflage.

The Czechs had just inaugurated their National Republican Government,
and were naturally obsessed with the usual "Liberty, Equality, and
Fraternity" business, and could not be expected to view the
establishment of a Dictatorship within their sphere of operations with
entire unconcern or without serious misgivings. The hostile attitude of
the Russian branch of their National Council at Ekaterinburg and
Chilliyabinsk, directly they heard of Koltchak's acceptance of the
supreme authority, is proof of the danger which might evolve from that
quarter.

The Council of Ministers, and perhaps Koltchak himself, were unable to
take the final plunge until they had a thorough understanding of the
British attitude. The position of the Czech forces at Omsk made it
impossible for them to approach the place where the Ministers were in
session without passing the British, and my machine guns commanded every
avenue leading to or from the Russian Headquarters.

Things were now in such a state of tension that for the safety of my
command I informed both the Russian and Czech authorities that I should
not allow bodies of troops or citizens either to approach or collect
near my cantonment; that such approach or collection would be treated as
hostile, and dealt with accordingly. That these arrangements gave the
Ministers greater confidence to proceed with their policy I have no
doubt. That was one of the inevitable consequences of the preparations
for our own defence, but not the inspiration of their policy, which was
entirely their own; but it did steady the situation.

I place these facts on record that those who are interested may be able
to give them their proper order of value and importance. I afterwards
learnt that more than one highly-placed official's wife had all
preparations made for a rapid descent upon the Middlesex quarters.

About 2.30 P.M., November 18, I was informed that Admiral Koltchak had
assumed absolute power under the title of "Supreme Governor," with a
Council of Ministers who would be responsible to him for the proper
performance of their duties; that he proposed to call on the French
representative, Monsieur Renault, to present himself in the evening;
that he would then call on me, as the senior British officer in Omsk,
and in my case he would answer any questions I chose to put to him. He
called, and it is as well to place here the report I made upon the
subject at the time:

 From Lieutenant-Colonel John Ward, M.P., C.M.G., Omsk, Siberia.

To G.O.C. China Command. Through B.M.M. H.Q.

Headquarters B.M.M., Vladivostok.

SIR,--For State reasons I deem it necessary to give the following
information that it may be forwarded home to the proper authorities.

About 2.30 P.M. on November 18, 1918, my liaison officer (Colonel Frank,
of the Russian Army) informed me that at a meeting of the Council of
Ministers, just held, the Council had offered to place supreme sovereign
power in the hands of Admiral Alexander Koltchak. The admiral had first
refused to accept, but that such pressure had been applied to force him
to accept that he had at last reluctantly consented.

Further, that Admiral Koltchak had assumed the title of "Supreme
Governor of all Russia," and was calling upon the French Ambassador in
the evening, after which he would call on me as the Senior British
Officer holding official position in Omsk.

About 9 P.M. Admiral Koltchak called at my headquarters. The following
gentlemen were present to receive him: Lieutenant-Colonel J.F. Neilson,
Captain Stephani, Colonel R. Frank (Russian Army), and Mr. Frazer
(_Times_ correspondent). He wore the full dress of a Russian admiral.

The admiral, who speaks fair English, informed me of the circumstances
and reasons for his assumption of supreme authority in all Russia.

An attempt had been made to combine all parties in the Government of
the country to reduce it to a state of order, so that the people might
be able to decide the future Government of Russia. The Council chosen by
the Ufa Assembly had tried to work together for this purpose, but had
failed. The final dissolution had been brought about by a proclamation
issued by the Central Committee of the Social Revolutionary party, which
was intended to produce in the new army the same conditions that had
destroyed the old army. The proclamation had been signed by the Social
Revolutionary President, Chernoff, and when it was proposed to take
action against those who were destroying the discipline of the army, two
Social Revolutionary members of the Council, Avkzentieff and Zenzinoff,
could see nothing wrong in Chernoff's subversive propaganda. It later
transpired that both were members of the Social Revolutionary Committee
which had issued the literature in question, and refused to either leave
the Social Revolutionary Committee or repudiate the anti-discipline
propaganda of their friends.

This brought the new Government to a complete standstill, and, faced
with absolute anarchy, the Council of Ministers had no alternative but
to dissolve the old Directorate of Five and centre the supreme power in
one person, to whom the Council of Ministers would be responsible for
the administration of their several departments.

I answered that the reasons, coupled with my own knowledge, appeared to
justify the action, but I had heard that the Social Revolutionary
members of the Directorate and others had been arrested, and that if
this action supposed their execution it would make the whole proceeding
look like an attempt on the part of the old army officers to destroy the
present arrangements in favour of a return to the old regime. Further,
if the people of England thought this was the policy of the admiral and
his friends, they would not only lose the friendly sympathy of the
English people but also of America and France.

Admiral Koltchak replied that at the moment he did not know the
whereabouts of the prisoners, but he would make inquiries and inform me
later. That his sole object in burdening himself with the overwhelming
responsibilities of Supreme Governor of Russia in this sad hour of her
history was to prevent the extremists on either side continuing the
anarchy which made the establishment of a free constitution impossible.
That if his action at any future time was not in harmony with the
establishment of free political institutions as understood by the
Democracy of England, he would be convinced that he had failed.

I thanked him for his good opinion of my country, and called his
attention to the letter of His Majesty the King to President Wilson,
received at Omsk on November 14, 1918, in which the principles of
democracy and freedom were exalted, and warned him that the free peoples
of the world would resist any attempt to force the Russian people back
under a system of tyranny and despair.

Admiral Koltchak replied that he had read the letter of His Majesty the
King of England, and his one hope was that soon Russia might enjoy the
blessing of equally free institutions.

Omsk, Siberia, _November_, 20, 1918.


From Lieutenant-Colonel John Ward, M.P., C.M.G., Omsk, Siberia.

To G.O.C. China Command. Through B.M.M.

Headquarters B.M.M., Vladivostok.

_Further Report on Political Crisis in Russia_.

Following my report of the assumption by Admiral Koltchak of the supreme
Governorship of Russia, I wish to add:

As I was unable to secure any official information relative to the
whereabouts of the members of the Directorate who had been made
prisoners during the night of November 17, I wrote to the Russian
authorities (through Lieutenant-Colonel J. F. Neilson) on the night of
the 18th requesting information upon the subject. On November 19, in the
absence of information, I sent the following letter direct to Admiral
Koltchak, the Supreme Governor:


OMSK, 19.11.18. 3 P.M.

From Colonel Ward.
To Admiral Koltchak.

After our interview last evening I sent you a note (through
Lieutenant-Colonel J. F. Neilson) asking for information and some
guarantee for the imprisoned members of the Council.

So far I have received no information upon the subject.

I have already told you that I am sure my country would look with grave
concern upon any injury inflicted without proper trial upon these
prisoners of State, and I should esteem it as a favour if you can supply
me with information upon this subject.--Yours sincerely,

(Signed) JOHN WARD (Lt.-Col.).


Colonel Frank, my liaison officer, took the letter to Russian
Headquarters, and on his return informed me that the admiral thanked me
for my letter and that he was pleased to be able to allay my fears.

Three officers, named Lieutenant-Colonel Krasilnikoff, Colonel Volkov,
and Lieutenant-Colonel Katanaev, had presented themselves at
Headquarters and reported that they took upon themselves the entire
responsibility for the arrest of the members of the old Russian
Government, that they had not injured them in any way, that they were
prepared to hand their prisoners over to the authorities, together with
several millions of roubles, believed to be loot, and papers which they
had found in their possession. That the admiral had placed the prisoners
under a strong guard of his own, and had placed the three officers under
arrest to be tried by court-martial.

He further promised that no harm should come to them, and that he
proposed to convey them out of the country at the earliest opportunity.

 _November 20_. 1 P.M.

Admiral Koltchak, hearing that a supply guard of my battalion was
returning to Vladivostok, has made request that I would allow the
railway cars conveying the State prisoners to some unknown point on the
Chinese frontier to be attached to my train for purposes of secrecy and
additional safety. I have consented, and have strengthened the guard for
this purpose.

Omsk, Siberia, _November_, 21, 1918.


[COPY.]

From Second-Lieutenant P.C. Cornish-Bowden, 25th Battalion Middlesex
Regiment.

To The Adjutant, 25th Battalion Middlesex Regiment.

Sir,--I have the honour to report for the information of the Commanding
Officer:

1. The train conveying the four Russian political exiles (Messrs.
Avkzentieff, Argunoff, Rogovsky, and Zenzinoff) and the Russian guard,
together with a detachment of British troops under my command, left Omsk
about 2 A.M. on November 21, and arrived at Harbin on November 27. The
journey was quiet. Most of the larger towns, where trouble was
anticipated, were passed at night.

2. I have since been informed by the officer commanding the Russian
guard that all traffic between Irkutsk and Chita was stopped by order of
General Semianoff, and that the trains were searched for the exiles
after we had passed, but I have no evidence in support of this.

3. The exiles expressed the greatest possible gratitude for the presence
of British troops, and said that they mistrusted their own Russian
guard, though I saw nothing whatever at any time to lead me to believe
their suspicions were well founded.

4. On arrival at Harbin the exiles strongly petitioned me to accompany
the train to Chang-Chun, and the officers in charge of the Russian guard
being quite willing, I decided to accompany the train to the
Chinese-Manchurian frontier. We reached Chang-Chun about 2 A.M. on
November 28, and the exiles left that place by themselves by train on
the evening of the same day.

5. We reached Harbin again on the 29th inst., where I parted company
with the Russian guard. We reached Vladivostok on the morning of
December 2. I immediately reported to the O.C. Detachment, and I
reported the before-mentioned facts verbally to General Knox.

6. The conduct of the N.C.O. and men of my detachment on the journey was
very good, and no increase of sickness took place amongst them.--I have
the honour to be, sir, your obedient servant,

(Signed) P.C. CORNISH-BOWDEN
(Second-Lieutenant).

Vladivostok, Siberia, _December_ 2, 1918.


I had already gained enough experience of revolutions to know that if I
did not press my point vigorously Avkzentieff and Co. were as dead as
mutton. I also knew that my countrymen have a rooted dread of
dictatorships, and that if Admiral Koltchak's assumption of power was
either connected with or promoted by the execution of his opponents
without trial, assistance or eventual recognition by the British
Government would be made almost impossible. My own agents had discovered
the place where the prisoners were detained, also that they were to be
quietly bayoneted in the night, as shooting would attract attention. I
was also certain that Koltchak knew nothing about this. The whole
business was in the hands of an Officers' Revenge Society, a body who
had sworn an oath to kill just the number of Bolshevik Revolutionaries
as there had been officers murdered by Trotsky's and Avkzentieff's
people. Both parties had similar combinations which left the marks of
their foul deeds on the streets every night.

The state of affairs was such that only by a dictatorship could the most
rudimentary order be maintained. I, a democrat, believing in government
of the people by the people, thought I saw in the dictator the one hope
of saving the remnants of Russian civilisation and culture. Words and
names have never frightened me. If circumstances force on me a problem
for solution, I never allow preconceived notions and ideas formed in the
abstract, without the experience of the actual then existing facts, to
warp my judgment in deciding the issue; and I am vain enough to believe
that, had the same situation presented itself to Englishmen generally,
nine out of ten would act as I did. I merely "carried on." The
traditions of our race and country did the rest.

Having, in my talk with the admiral and the report I made, accepted his
position of Supreme Governor, I did not mean that he should be left to
fight his way unaided against the enemies who surrounded him. In other
words, while outwardly remaining neutral, I constantly made
representations and gave advice, when asked, about everything, both
internal and external; and here it may be interesting to our own people
to know some of the problems which confronted the Supreme Governor. The
Japanese question was the first. General Rosanoff was Bolderoff's Chief
of Staff, and it was important to the Supreme Governor that he should
get the hang of outstanding matters and also make himself fairly
acquainted with the policy of the deposed Directorate. He interviewed
General Rosanoff and the Staff generally, and discovered that after the
fall of Samara the Bolshevik army moved rapidly towards Ufa, and the
Directorate became so alarmed that they demanded some definite policy
from the Commander-in-Chief as to how he proposed to deal with this
menace. Bolderoff never thought of effectively organising the new
Russian army, but suggested that things were so critical, and that
England, France, and America were so slow, that the only alternative was
to invite the Japanese to push their army forward to the Urals. This was
exactly what Japan wanted, but the Japanese Staff demanded as a _quid
pro quo_ to their advance to Ekaterinburg and Chilliyabinsk that they
should be placed in absolute possession of the railway and telegraph
lines to those points. Bolderoff and the Directorate boggled at this for
a time, but as the Bolsheviks began to get close to Ufa, and also
concentrated an army of about one hundred thousand men for an offensive
towards Ekaterinburg, the situation became so pressing that the
Directorate gave way, and a few days before the _coup d'etat_ Bolderoff
had sent word to the Japanese that their terms were accepted.

The Japanese had made all preparations to move when Koltchak took the
reins in his own hands. He asked my advice. I advised him to say to the
Japanese that the change of Government had also involved a change of
policy, and that it would be inadvisable for the Japanese to advance
beyond their position at Chita until the subject had been further
discussed. They made him many tempting offers of help, both arms and
money, but he refused them all, and they were unable to move him from
the position he had taken up.

A subject that led to unfortunate bickerings between Admiral Koltchak
and the French was the appointment by the Allied Council of Paris of
General Ganin as the Commander of the Allied and Russian Forces in
Siberia.

It is too important an item in the general failure of Allied policy to
pass over without mention. From the very nature of the case the main
Allied effort was the formation and organisation of a new Russian army.
Our policy was not to prop Russia on her feet, but to enable her to
stand by herself. Major-General Knox had been sent out by the War
Office to accomplish this purpose, and no more able or competent officer
could have been appointed for the task.

General Knox had hardly begun to perform this duty when the French
agents in Siberia became alarmed for their own position. Cables were
dispatched to Europe pointing out the danger to French prestige which
General Knox's mission entailed. If the English were to be made
responsible for the reorganisation of the Russian Army, and were
successful, this would tend to make New Russia rely more upon the
English than the French, as had been the case hitherto; that it would be
better to leave Russia without an army than have it organised under such
influence. These senseless fears of our French friends found willing
listeners in Paris. General Knox had already made some selections of
officers and the business was well under way when a message from the
Allied Council in Paris put an extinguisher on all his work. His orders
were cancelled, and he was told to do nothing until a French commander
had been appointed, whose name would be forwarded later.

By this uninformed Allied interference a well-thought-out scheme of army
reorganisation was hung up for four of the most precious months to
Russia. By the time General Ganin arrived the time for the project had
passed and the whole business had been taken out of Allied hands.

The Russian situation at that time was such that four days' delay would
have been fatal, and if nothing had been done for four months we should
have been hunted out of the country.

Finding Allied jealousy so great as to render all their efforts
impotent, first General Bolderoff and then his successor, the Supreme
Governor, began to organise armies on their own for the protection of
the people and their property. These armies were ill-equipped and badly
disciplined--not the kind of armies which would have been raised had
General Knox's plans been allowed to develop--but they performed their
duty, they captured Perm, and had increased to over 200,000 before
General Ganin appeared on the scene.

When General Ganin reported himself to the Supreme Governor with the
Allied Council's orders to take over the command of the Allied and
Russian forces in Siberia, he was met with a blank refusal from the Omsk
Government.

I was consulted upon the question, and I am therefore able to give the
reasons for their objection. The Omsk Government's position was a very
simple one: "Had General Knox or any other Allied commander organised,
paid, and equipped the new Russian army he would have naturally
controlled it until such time as a Russian Government could have been
established strong enough to have taken over the responsibility. The
French would not allow this to be done, and we ourselves therefore
undertook the duty. Having formed our own army in our own country, it is
an unheard of proposal that we should be forced to place it under the
command of a non-Russian officer. It would be derogatory to the
influence and dignity of the Russian Government and lower the Government
in the estimation of the people."

From this position they never retreated, but Allied bungling had landed
General Ganin, who is himself an able and excellent officer, in a not
very dignified position.

Bolderoff, as I have stated, was at the Ufa front when Koltchak assumed
supreme power. He remained there in consultation with the Czech National
Council and the members of the old Constituent Assembly for five or six
days without a word as to his intentions. It was a critical position for
Koltchak, who did not know what he was doing or intended to do.
Hot-heads advised immediate action, but I suggested caution. The
subject-matter of Bolderoff's conferences or whether he had any we do
not know, but we do know this: General Dutoff, who commanded the Russian
armies south of Ufa, had some proposals from Ufa put before him, and
replied advising caution, as he had it on unimpeachable authority that
the English were behind Admiral Koltchak. This statement, I was told,
fell like a bombshell among the conspirators at Ufa, and soon after
General Bolderoff returned to Omsk. There he interviewed Koltchak as
Supreme Governor, and made satisfactory statement relative to his
absence. He was offered a post, which he refused, stating that he wished
to leave the country, as he did not believe that a dictatorship could
help Russia out of her difficulties. His request was granted, and so
ended a very different interview between these two men from that at
Petropalovsk a few days before.

Some time after this the Japanese representative at Omsk made a request
to be informed whether General Bolderoff had been forced to leave the
country, or had left voluntarily. This was answered in a definite way in
accordance with the facts. In the same note the Japanese also demanded
to be informed whether the British Army had supplied the train and guard
which had taken the exiled Social Revolutionary Members of the
Directorate to Chang-Chun, on the Chinese frontier. This question was
not answered quite so definitely, but the interest of the Japanese in
these men shows how far the _coup d'etat_ had upset their plans relative
to the occupation of the Urals.

The Supreme Governor issued definite orders to the different isolated
sections of the Russian forces. All commanders obeyed these orders more
or less except one, General Semianoff, whose headquarters were alongside
that of the Japanese at Chita, from which he sent insolent refusals to
recognise Koltchak's authority. Koltchak prepared to deal with this
mutinous and buccaneering officer. The Japanese at once plainly informed
the Omsk Government that General Semianoff was under their protection,
and they would not allow the Russian Government to interfere with him.

Under Japanese protection this fellow continued to carry out
indiscriminate executions and flogging of workmen until the whole
district became depopulated, and the Allies were forced to demand an
explanation from Japan for their extraordinary conduct. So fearful were
they that their tool was about to be dealt with, that when the 1/9th
Battalion of the Hampshire Territorial Regiment started from
Vladivostok, the Japanese asked the Omsk Government whether these
British troops were coming forward to attack General Semianoff. The
answer we gave was that all movements of British troops were conducted
by the British Military Mission, to whom they must apply for
information. I never heard any more of their inquiries.

About this time a party of Cossacks, with a high officer at their head,
called at the prison one night and produced to the governor an alleged
order for the release of nine political prisoners. The [perhaps]
unsuspecting governor handed his prisoners over; they were taken away,
and next morning their friends found them shot. Someone ought to have
been hanged, but Koltchak could find no one to hang. His Chief of Staff
must have discovered some facts about the crime, but he refused to act.
In fact, he did not acquaint the admiral about the crime until four days
later when it had become public property. Koltchak was quite overcome,
first with rage at the crime itself, and secondly at his impotence in
being unable to prevent it. But Omsk went on the even tenor of its way:
it is remarkable what horrors people can face without a tremor when they
get used to them, as they must in revolutions.




CHAPTER XII

THE CAPTURE OF PERM: THE CZECHS RETIRE FROM THE FIGHTING


The _coup d'etat_ had thrown the proposed Perm offensive completely into
the background. The Czechs, under the influence of their Political
Council, who had joined the Social Revolutionary Committee, and their
leader Chernoff, retired to the rear. Each unit elected a committee and
established a Soldiers' Council on the strictest Bolshevik plan, and
ceased to be of further use either to the Russians or their own cause.
The officers of the new Russian army became greatly concerned for the
integrity of their own young troops with such a shocking example of lack
of discipline before their eyes, and begged Admiral Koltchak to order
these hostile political bodies out of Ekaterinburg. The admiral offered
them a town in the rear where they might discuss politics to their
hearts' content, without danger to his army. This, however, did not suit
their plans, for their obvious object was to destroy the integrity of
the new Russian army. Admiral Koltchak in desperation ordered the
leaders to be arrested and the conspiracy to be broken up. General
Gaida, though a Czech officer, put the admiral's order into effect, and
handed the prisoners over to the Commander-in-Chief, General Surovey, at
Chilliyabinsk. General Surovey, under pressure of the Czech Council and
Chernoff's Committee, released the prisoners, and began to hunt the
famous young General Gaida out of their hitherto equally famous army. To
save himself from disgrace at the hands of his political enemies, the
general resigned his commission in the Czech Army, and by joining the
Russian Army was instantly re-established in his position as Commander
of the Russian armies on the right. Thus fell the glorious Czech legions
from their high pinnacle of fame, killed as all armies must be the
moment they join in party strife.

From the point of view of purely Russian tactics, it was necessary to
strike south from Ufa, with the object of effecting a junction with the
Orenburg Cossacks under General Dutoff, and if possible linking up with
the forces of General Denikin in South Russia. But no exact or reliable
information could be secured as to the strength and equipment of Dutoff
or Denikin.

On the other hand, it was known that an Anglo-American force had landed
at Archangel, which it was presumed would be well supplied with winter
equipment, and if once a junction could be effected with this force, a
channel for European supplies could soon be opened. Every cartridge,
gun, rifle, and article of clothing had now to be shipped almost round
the world, and brought over about six thousand miles of more or less
disorganised railway communication. Koltchak had men, but no means for
making them into fighters unless supplied from outside. It was felt
certain that if his armies could smash their way through to Perm, and
hold a point somewhere between there and Vatka, the junction of the
Archangel and Petrograd Railway, the slightest movement of the Archangel
expedition would result in a combination which could and would move
straight forward to Petrograd, and free north Russia from the
Terrorists.

Originally I was to have operated in the centre with a detachment of the
25th Middlesex Battalion and four machine guns, and authority had been
given for my part in the advance. The complete defection of the Czechs,
however, threw the time-table out of joint, and not even the restless
energy of the Supreme Governor could make up this loss for nearly four
weeks. In the meantime the cold became so intense that the British
contingent, being only B1 men, had to drop out. General Gaida, with his
divisional generals, Galitzin, Pepelaieff, and Verzbitzky, pressed
forward their preparations, and after a splendid series of movements
captured Perm with 31,000 prisoners and an enormous booty of war
material. The losses of the Russians were about 6,000 killed, of the
Bolsheviks about 16,000. There were practically no wounded, for any man
who sank in the snow was dead in an hour. Thus did the admiral
consolidate the power that had been entrusted to him.

The Terrorists were completely demoralised, so that the army advanced to
Glasoff, 80 miles east of Vatka and 60 miles south of Koltass. We were
now only about 300 miles east of Petrograd, and there we waited for
seven months for the Archangel move, which never came off. For some
time the country was so absolutely clear of enemy forces that small
parties of men passed unmolested from Glasoff to Archangel and from
Archangel to Glasoff. Eventually the Terrorists got the correct measure
of this Northern expedition, contained it with a slight screen, and
concentrated huge forces to press us back over the Urals once more.




CHAPTER XIII

THE DECEMBER ROYALIST AND BOLSHEVIST CONSPIRACY


The tenure of a dictator's office is very uncertain. He issues his
orders, but if the army chiefs can escape from executing them they do
so, on one pretext or another. The Russian character is most peculiar in
this respect. It will obey one thing only--force. Patriotism and public
spirit, as we know them, do not exist to any great extent. Every man
looks at every order from the personal point of view--"How will this
affect me?"--rarely, if ever, "How will it affect the country?"

It is remarkable how much Koltchak had already accomplished, but it
seemed that his career might end at any moment, in spite of every
precaution of his friends. Of these he had not many; no real dictator
should expect to have any. No man will have many friends in Russia who
puts personal questions second to the public welfare.

The preparations for the Perm offensive were well under way, when a
dispatch came from General Dutoff, stating, "That in view of the
pressure by our forces on their left the Bolshevik leaders had decided
to, what they called, 'organise their enemies' rear.' That seventy of
their best propagandist and most capable agents and officers had passed
between his columns and were now distributed somewhere in our midst."
All we could do was to wait, and see where this treacherous movement
would show itself first.

The fact that Koltchak had declared for the calling of a National
Assembly, elected by universal suffrage, to decide the future government
of Russia, so soon as order was restored, had shattered completely the
vision of the old army officers of a quick return to absolutism. His
declaration against extremists on either side had driven Bolshevik and
Tsarist into practically one camp. He was well known as a student of
English customs and institutions and a pre-revolution advocate of
constitutionalism. The Tsarist section hoped that his assumption of
supreme authority was proof that he had discarded his democratic
principles, but gradually his official declarations to the
representative of the British Government leaked out and spread
consternation in the ranks of both sections of the Absolutists. The
Bolshevik leaders have never made any bones about their fear and dread
of democracy as understood in England, and have declared they would
prefer a return to the old regime rather than have a Constitution like
that of England or America forced upon them. Hence there is no real
difference of principle between the Bolshevik and the supporters of the
old regime, only a difference as to who should wield the power. For the
moment they let this minor point slip into the background, and combined
for the destruction of the man who was the enemy of both.

About midnight, December 23, Russian Headquarters gave me the alarm.
Shots were being fired in all directions, and a spent bullet struck my
carriage while I was getting into my clothes. Horsemen in little groups
were surrounding the Staffka without much sign of order. Having
inspected my battalion at their emergency quarters, I called for a
personal guard to escort me to Headquarters. I regret there was no
impressionist artist with us to record the weird procession my guard
made. When sheepskin coats were provided for my men for use in a cold,
snowbound country, it is a real English touch that they should have been
black in colour, making my men a perfect target both night and day.
Their fur caps were a dark brown of the well-known Nansen type, the
half-moon peak making the head of the wearer a good mark at midnight up
to 300 yards. The cap is pointed, and has much the appearance at night
of a small mitre. What with huge fur boots, black pointed caps, and long
black coats, there was nothing to indicate the British Tommy in the line
of black monks that moved silently forward over the frozen snow. The
temperature was such that as the slight wind brought the water to one's
eyes the drops froze to hard white spots of ice at the corners. Breath
from the nostrils froze before it could leave the nose, and from each
nostril hung icicles, in some cases 2 inches long, which again froze to
the moustache. The eyebrows and eyelashes and the protruding fur edge
which enclosed the faces of the men carried a wonderful display of hoar
frost, and gave the appearance of white lace frills, such as are seen on
"granny's" caps.

As we entered the Russian Headquarters, which were crowded with more or
less excited officers and men, my guard lined up on each side of the
vestibule, and without a word proceeded to unsling rifles and fix
bayonets. The Russians, who were even now debating on which side they
were going to slide down, looked at my soldier monks, and at once
themselves fell into line. There was no longer any hesitation. "Anglisky
soldats" were in possession of Russian Headquarters, and the reputation
of English soldiers in emergencies like this is known all over the
world. I interviewed the Chief-of-Staff, General Lebediff, as to his
orders for suppressing the revolters and went downstairs to find the
vestibule empty except for my "monks." No one who was not there could
believe the absolute transformation that the mere presence of a few
English soldiers had on this critical situation. In revolutions every
rule and safeguard of society is uprooted; the people feel as in an
earthquake, nothing is secure, everyone doubts his neighbour. If those
who are prepared to support authority can only discover at the right
moment one little group round whom they can rally, and who they know
will think nothing of death in performance of duty, the danger is over
at once. Hesitancy disappears, and the normal is instantly produced. We
filed out to find the infantry in their ranks, and the horsemen mounted
in line, under their officers, awaiting orders.

I proceeded through the town to the residence of the Supreme Governor.
On our way we passed parties of soldiers and Cossacks hurrying to their
posts, who eyed us suspiciously, but on seeing me at the head in the
uniform of a British officer, ejaculated loudly to their command the
magic word "Anglisky," until like a talisman the word passed from sentry
to sentry and street to street, and "Anglisky" became the password which
held the whole town for law and order. We passed towards the admiral's
house without challenge until the Cossack and Serbian guard at the
actual entrance called us to halt pending the governor's orders. The
order soon came for us to enter. The admiral was ill, very ill with
inflammation of the lungs, but as brave as ever. My "monks" lined up in
the vestibule in the same manner as at Headquarters, and even the
personal Serbian guard had to make way for these queer-looking visitors.
I got the information required. The revolt was very serious, but I was
able to inform the admiral that effective measures had now been taken to
provide for all eventualities. I begged leave to depart, which was
granted, but not before my men had been given food and a taste of
Russian vodka, which appears to be the only effective antidote to the
cold of a real Siberian winter. I returned, to find that the fact that
the English soldiers were out was known in every house in Omsk, and
numerous requests from the highest to the lowest for protection had been
received on the telephone. I give no names, but the fact shows what a
remarkable influence the presence of a few British soldiers had in
steadying the situation.

My orders were to take no part in the internal affairs of Russia, but it
is the duty of every commanding officer to take all possible means to
protect his command. If I had remained in my quarters and made no sign
until these Royalist and Bolshevik enemies had obtained possession of
the town, I should have presented a dainty morsel which they could have
masticated at leisure. I had to show my hand early enough to make sure
it did not go against me. It turned out that I marched from my barracks
just when news had been brought of the mutiny, under Royalist and
Bolshevik leadership, of two companies of the 8th Regiment of the new
Russian army. A body of Bolsheviks at Koulomsino, on the other side of
the river, had taken up arms and were bent on the destruction of the
bridge over the Irtish, which formed the means of communication with the
armoured trains of H.M.S. _Suffolk_, and our naval detachments at Ufa.
The Czechs (our Allies), who had the same orders as myself, on learning
that the Tsarists were also in the conspiracy, frustrated this scheme by
instantly moving forward a company for the protection of the bridge,
which arrived just in the nick of time. Had we acted strictly to orders,
Heaven only knows what the result would have been. British and Czech
both had to act on our own judgment, and while, technically, we
disobeyed orders, we fulfilled the policy of each country and protected
our commands.

It cost nearly a thousand lives to restore order, but the lawless
elements, top and bottom, were taught a lesson they are not likely to
forget. This happened in the middle of the Perm offensive. It did
nothing to assist the Bolshevik cause, but it did much to embitter the
struggle.




CHAPTER XIV

A BOMBSHELL FROM PARIS AND THE EFFECT


The foregoing incidents gave place to more personal matters. About
December 28 the Staff of the Canadian contingent under Lieutenant-
Colonel Morrisy arrived, and, as one might expect, revolutionary plans
in connection with the distribution of my battalion, and other matters,
were instantly proposed. Some of them were actually carried out, with
the result that a strained feeling became manifest in the British camp
at Omsk, which caused me to propose to Brigadier-General Elmsley that
my headquarters should be transferred to Vladivostok. Luckily the
arrival of the 1/9th Hampshire Territorial Battalion on January 5,
1919, under the Command of Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson, led to an
improved condition of things all round us. This officer gripped
the situation at once, and took such steps, in conjunction with
the High Commissioner, Sir Charles Eliot, that I was prevailed upon
to withdraw my request for the removal of my headquarters. Colonel
Johnson was a great accession of strength to those who held the
purely English point of view, and his battalion, recruited as it
was from my home county, helped to make all our relations wonderfully
cordial. General Elmsley replied later refusing my request, so that
everything fitted in just right.

On January 8 a parade was called to present General Stephanik with the
Legion of Honour and Major-General Knox, the Chief of the British
Military Mission, and myself with the Croix de Guerre. It was a real
Siberian day, "62 below," and in five minutes ten men had frost-bitten
ears. General Ganin, the French Commander-in-Chief of the Allied forces,
made the presentations on behalf of the French Republic, uttering a few
words to each recipient. I received the hearty congratulations of all
our friends, which kept me warm the whole day. I thanked Colonel Pichon,
who took over from me the command of the Ussurie front, and with whom I
acted for some time, for this great honour. I felt sure that my
decoration was the result of his reports upon myself while acting
together under very awkward circumstances.

Towards the middle of January the British High Commissioner conveyed to
Admiral Koltchak an extremely sympathetic message from the British
Government. The French High Commissioner followed next day with a
similar message from the French Government, except that it distinctly
referred to the possibility of help and recognition. The Allied
representatives felt more happy and secure as a result of these
felicitations than they had done for some time, and the Russian
authorities began to feel it possible to press on with the work of
"resurrection." A new page in the history of a great recovery had been
added to Russian records. Exactly four days later a wireless message
came through from Paris to say that the Allied Council had declared that
it could give no help or recognise either side; that the different
parties and Governments existing in Russia must bring about an
armistice, and send representatives to the Turkish "Isle of Dogs," near
Constantinople, and arrange a compromise with each other. In other
words, that the Bolsheviks were to be recognised as legitimate
belligerents, with whom it was quite possible to shake hands and sit
down to draw up an agreement as to the proper method of conducting a
policy of rapine, robbery, and murder. Needless to say, every Britisher
was disgusted, and every genuine Russian patriot simply amazed. At one
swoop down went all our hopes! We were crushed as much or more than the
Russians, because we had the honour of our countries to defend, and
defence seemed impossible.

A sudden reaction against the European Allies set in at once, and became
so violent that a Russian gentleman made an abusive speech to the Allied
officers as they sipped tea in a well-known restaurant, and the public
refused to allow the guard which was called to arrest him to carry out
the order. This feeling was undoubtedly exploited by the Japanese for
their own purposes.

A very tense condition of affairs existed, when on January 31 I asked
for a special interview with Admiral Koltchak that I might introduce my
colleague and comrade, Colonel Johnson, and talk over the situation. The
admiral was out walking by the river, quite unattended, but in full view
of the guard at his residence near the river bank. It was his first walk
since his illness, and he looked quite recovered. The talk naturally
veered round to the Allied declaration in favour of the Bolsheviks and
the situation it had created in Omsk. The admiral's attitude was quite
simple. "We can talk and make compact with every party and Government in
the different districts of Russia, but to compromise with Bolshevism, or
shake the hand, or sit down and treat as equals the men who are
outraging and murdering the Russian people--never! No decent Allied
Government acquainted with the facts would ever expect it."

I asked him to consider the question as in no way decided by the Paris
message, that I felt sure there must be some points connected with the
decision that required further elucidation. "Yes!" said the admiral.
"There must be some facts with which we are not acquainted, for while
the British Government advise an arrangement with the Bolsheviks they
continue to furnish me with generous supplies for the Russian Army." I
left quite satisfied that he still retained his faith in the friendship
of England.

There was one queer point which needs to be placed on record. Admiral
Koltchak observed that the Japanese were still causing him much trouble.
They had been unable to approach him personally but had been "getting
at" his officers, whose business caused them to make frequent visits to
the Ural front. They made statements to the effect that the only state
which was in a position to help Russia was Japan. The other armies were
war-weary and clamouring for demobilisation and therefore unwilling to
fight the Bolsheviks. If Admiral Koltchak was compelled to make a
reasonable arrangement with Japan, their army would guarantee to
liquidate the Bolshevik forces in two months and establish a monarchy
satisfactory to the Russian officers. This propaganda had reached the
front, and had been referred to as assuming very serious importance by
his front-line generals in their dispatches. To counteract this
pernicious influence, he was proposing to visit the front himself to
point out the impossibility of Japan, as one of the Entente Allies,
being able herself to execute such a programme. I asked him how this
propaganda began and who engineered it. He answered: "General Muto and a
staff of twenty-six officers and intelligence assistants are working
hard here in Omsk to influence Russian opinion in their direction."
Finally the Supreme Governor said, "I make no complaint against these
very excellent Japanese officers, they are only carrying out the orders
of their political and military chiefs, but it makes my work of
restoring order much more difficult."

There were other little rifts within the lute. The Russian officers are
Royalist almost to a man, and will remain so, for they are all most
childlike in their adherence to this principle. Some gossip informs one
of them that Prince Kuropotkin is still alive and has been seen on the
Russian frontier. "Oh!" he exclaims. "Then the admiral will be handing
over his power to Kuropotkin directly he hears the prince is alive!"
Next day he may be told that the prince is not a soldier and his
enthusiasm at once oozes out of his finger tips. The next day some
British supplies arrive, and then he is all for reliance upon the
Allies. A few days later, the Government not having been recognised by
the Powers according to his wish, he curses the Powers and becomes
morose. The day following he hears in a restaurant that
Demitri-Pavlovitch is hiding as a peasant in Siberia, and he is
immediately in about the same ecstatic condition as the shepherds who
beheld the Star over Bethlehem. Every possible--or impossible--person
under the sun becomes to him a potential saviour of his country; never
does he think how he and his comrades themselves might save her. The
Russian officer, indeed, is "just a great, big, brave, lovable baby, and
nothing else." "Gulliver's Travels" ought to have an immense circulation
should it ever be translated into the Russian language. The "Arabian
Nights" appears as an unimaginative narrative of humdrum events compared
with the stories in current circulation in Omsk and Siberia generally.

The two following extracts from my diary record incidents which occurred
at this time.

"February 1, 1919. Last night three Bolshevik conspirators entered the
officers' quarters of the 1st and 2nd Siberian Regiment disguised as
Russian soldiers. The first intimation outside that anything was wrong
was rapid revolver shots inside. The sentry captured one of the
imitation soldiers as he tried to escape from the building. In less than
two minutes the conspirators had shot five officers, two of whom were
mortally wounded in the stomach. One conspirator was shot dead, one was
captured, one got away. The knout was applied to the prisoner, and at
the hundredth stroke he gave the whole conspiracy away. Over fifty
arrests followed his confession, with the result that all is again quiet
in Omsk."

"February 3, 1919. Lieutenant Munro has just arrived at Omsk from
Vladivostok with comforts from the ladies at Shanghai, Hong-Kong and
Singapore. Words fail to describe the feelings of both officers and men
as they received these tokens of love and remembrance from their own
countrywomen in this cold inhospitable climate. It is a beautiful
feeling, and though the actual work performed is the effort of a few,
the whole sex receives a crude sort of deification from these womanly
acts. The way one of the commonest Tommies looked at a small
wash-flannel that had evidently been hemmed by hands unused to work of
any description, and asked me if I would give the lady his thanks, would
have gone to the heart of the fair but unknown worker could she have
witnessed it.

"I heard news of general insubordination among the Canadian troops that
had just arrived at Vladivostok. If all the information received could
be relied upon, the sooner they were shipped back to Canada the better.
There is enough anarchy here now without the British Government dumping
more upon us. I can see that it is a great mistake to mix Canadians and
British troops in one Brigade. Naturally, British soldiers carry out
orders; if other troops do not, then the British troops have to do all
the work. The situation produced is that the highest paid soldier does
no work and the lowest paid all the work. It soon percolates to the
slowest Sussex brain that discipline does not pay. Nothing but the
wonderful sense of order in the make-up of the average Englishman has
prevented us from becoming an Anglo-Canadian rabble, dangerous to
Bolshevik and Russian alike. I am told that Brigadier Pickford had done
his best to maintain order and discipline in his ranks; that he had been
compelled to make very awkward promises to his troops which having been
made had to be fulfilled. In all the circumstances it was generally
agreed that the proper thing to have done was to send the Canadians home
to their farms, and leave the few Britishers who were there to carry on.
We had established excellent relations with the Russians which it would
have been a thousand pities to spoil."




CHAPTER XV

MORE INTRIGUES


While the loyal Russian officers were being murdered in their beds,
other events not less important were happening. When Admiral Koltchak
assumed supreme authority the Directorate was surrounded by a party of
Royalist officers as turbulent and lawless as Trotsky himself. Private
code messages passed between these officers as freely as if they already
had the power in their own hands. The first intimation that Koltchak had
of these conspiracies was a code message from General Evanoff Renoff to
General Beloff, General Bolderoff's Chief of Staff, which unfolded many
of the aspirations of these men, and showed their objects to be
exclusively personal. I read these messages with great interest, as they
gave me an excellent insight into the mainsprings of the revolution and
incidentally into the character of the average Russian officer. General
Antonovsky, of the old Russian Military Academy, who also assisted in
the drafting of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty with the Germans, was a
participant in the scheme, and was within an ace of becoming the
admiral's Chief of Staff. Everything was working splendidly, when the
cipher message from Renoff opened the ball. Beloff was sent to the east,
and Antonovsky to the south, and the Absolutists became broken up.

On February 1 my liaison officer informed me that as he waited in the
corridor of headquarters, General Beloff came out of General Lebediff's
room. A little later General Antonovsky came out of another room, and
then these two were suddenly joined by a certain Cossack general of a
very truculent type. I knew that this boded badly for order, and I
warned Koltchak's young aide-de-camp. Shortly after it was reported to
me that an attempt had been made to exchange a sham guard for the real
one at the Supreme Governor's residence. That night I held our direct
wire from Colonel Johnson to my ear till 12.30 A.M., and found that it
was tapped by Russian Headquarters. General Knox had got to know things,
and took certain action, with the result that I sent my officer to
Russian Headquarters with instructions to inform General Lebediff we
were anxious for the Supreme Governor's safety; that if any harm was
contemplated against him we should hold him responsible unless he made
us acquainted with the danger in time to avert it; further, that if the
Absolutist officers thought they could murder Admiral Koltchak and
proclaim an absolute Monarchy without the sanction of the people of
Russia they were mistaken; that whoever, whether high or low, attempted
to destroy the present Government and throw Russia back into violence
and anarchy would be treated as enemies by the British soldiers. General
Lebediff answered that he knew of no special danger threatening Admiral
Koltchak at the moment, but he thanked Colonel Ward for his offer to
help protect the Government in case of necessity.

The conspirators broke up at once, but the cunningest of the lot
remained to weave again by social strategy the continuous web of Russian
disorder. We knew that there were elements at work for a
counter-revolution quite uncontrolled by, but acting with, the
cognisance of officials of the Koltchak Administration. In revolutions
sudden outbursts on the part of even a small party may soon jeopardise
the whole organisation of State. Colonel Johnson and myself agreed that
it was necessary to concentrate our forces, and in approaching the
Russian authorities on this subject, we added further to the
demoralisation of those who were in the conspiracy. We protested that it
was our own safety that we had in view, but the conspirators did not
believe us. I knew that the admiral's train had been for some days
standing ready to take him to the front. On February 3 Omsk was informed
that the important Japanese Mission (previously referred to) had started
from Irkutsk on the last stage of its journey to the Supreme Governor.
The governor's aide-de-camp informed me at the same time that the
admiral was starting for the front at 5 P.M. on February 7.

General Knox was anxious that there should be no evidence of weakening
in our support of the Omsk Government, as in case of disorder our
position was by no means secure. After consultation it was decided to
offer the admiral a personal guard for his journey, to consist of fifty
men and one officer from the Hampshire Regiment. This was accepted and
referred to the Chief of Staff for confirmation. It was then reported to
General Ganin and the French Staff. They at once protested that to have
a purely English guard would lower French prestige in the eyes of the
Russians. They quite agreed that there ought to be a guard, but it must
be half English and half French, and to this we at once agreed. We
therefore reduced our number to twenty-five. Then, however, the French
Staff pointed out that they had no troops in Omsk, and they could not
leave the Staff without a cook. The greatest number of orderlies they
could spare was nine, so it was suggested that the guard should consist
of forty-one English and nine French soldiers. This took the
negotiators' breath away entirely; the first proposal was destructive of
French prestige, the second was enough to destroy France altogether!
Really France is much too beautiful and gallant a country to have this
sort of stuff put forward on her behalf, but there it was. So the
admiral's guard consisted of nine soldiers with one officer of each
nationality--twenty all told.

One point we did get home on. At the time appointed for the admiral's
departure, an English guard of honour miraculously appeared on the
scene, together with Russian and Czech guards. There _could_ be no
French--yet French prestige continued to stand just as high as ever it
did. I give these facts in the most friendly spirit, but with a hope
that English officers will always understand that, however much we smile
at the peculiar gyrations of the word "prestige" as understood by our
Continental neighbours, it is very real to them, and strange exhibitions
of it are seen on occasions.

The Supreme Governor had arrived and shaken hands with the Russian,
English and Czech representatives, including Sir Charles Eliot, the
British High Commissioner, and General Bowes, the Chief of the British
Military Mission to the Czecho-Slovaks. The French representative was
late. When the ceremonial was nearly complete, a French officer (not
above the rank of captain) elbowed his way to the front and vigorously
brushed aside the British High Commissioner and general, and stood with
his back towards them as though they were mere outside spectators who
had no business there. The same evening the incident was being discussed
amongst a group of Russian and English officers, when a Russian officer
of the highest position observed, "You English have the queerest notion
of national prestige of all the countries I have been so far acquainted
with. Any ordinary Russian, Kirghis, Tartar, or Mongolian officer seeing
a French captain brush aside the representatives and generals of another
state would instantly decide that he only did so not because of want of
politeness, which one-half the world does not understand, but because
the nation to which he belongs was so great and powerful there was no
need to be deferential to any of the others, and especially so to the
state whose representatives allowed themselves to be so easily brushed
aside."

We had many conferences upon the condition of the Russian workman, and
whether it was possible for the Allies to do anything to help them.
British officers were making desperate efforts to organise and equip
forces capable of dealing a death-blow to the Bolsheviks in the early
spring. General Knox worked like a Trojan, and gave more inspiration to
the Russian Government than all the other Allied representatives put
together. In fact, without his sagacity and determination we should have
been better employed at home. He travelled from "Vlady" to Omsk, from
Omsk to "Vlady," as though the 5,000-mile journey was just a run from
London to Birmingham. His great strength was that he made up his mind on
a certain course, and stuck to it, while everyone around him could never
decide upon anything for long. If you want anything done, don't have
Allies. Allies are all right when a powerful enemy is striking you or
them; it is then quite simple; mere self-preservation is sufficient to
hold you together for common protection. Let the danger pass, let the
roar of conflict recede in the distance, and Allies become impotent for
any purpose except spying on each other and obstructing the work in
hand. There was no evidence that anyone, except the English, was doing
anything to smooth the way for the new Russian Government, but by sheer
energy General Knox had brought together personnel and stores sufficient
to justify belief in the early success of his plans. Then there suddenly
arose another sinister figure which threatened to upset all our
calculations--namely, a well-timed revolt of the railway workmen,
calculated to cripple our communications and make the movement of troops
and supplies impossible.




CHAPTER XVI

RUSSIAN LABOUR


General Dutoff, as I have previously recorded, had informed us that
Bolshevist agitators had passed through our lines on this treacherous
mission, and for months nothing had been heard of these emissaries of
mischief. Now that we were approaching the critical point of the 1919
operations rumblings of an unmistakable character were heard in all
directions. The necessary military measures had been taken, but in our
English eyes suppression was not enough. We have learnt in our country
that the workmen are the backbone of the State, and that when labour is
badly paid the heart of the State is diseased. Russia has no ideas about
labour at all. The autocracy never gave it a moment's consideration. The
last Tsar's idea of labour reform was to abolish good vodka, and he lost
his life. The officer class, that forms so large a proportion of Russian
life, never gave the subject five minutes' consideration. There is not a
single general labour law upon the statute book of Russia, and the
horror of it is that those who have hitherto pretended to lead the
Russian workman refuse to demand laws to protect their labour. They
believe that "law" is the last thing that a workman robbed of the most
elemental rights should think about; that the only way for a workman to
obtain rights is to abolish all "law." And this they have done with a
vengeance! The professional Russian labour leader is an anarchist and
nothing else, and in Bolshevism he has given a glimpse of his policy in
practice.

This, then, was the problem with which we had to deal, and with only a
few weeks at our disposal. To the Russian workman it was a social
question; to us it was both social and military. Finally, General Knox
asked me to undertake a pacific propaganda along the railway to see if
it were possible to persuade the workmen to keep at work and give the
best service possible to their country to secure the restoration of
order. I came to the conclusion that if anything could be done to give a
more staple and practical outlook to the Russian labour mind it was well
worth trying to accomplish it.

At the outset I was faced with the difficulty of not being in a position
to offer anything definite to the workmen in return for their
willingness to assist the combatant branch of the Russian service in its
new crusade against anarchy. With nothing to offer it seemed hopeless to
ask for so much. The only man who could pledge the Government was the
Supreme Governor himself, so I wrote to him as follows:


[Copy.]

OMSK, SIBERIA.

_4th February_, 1919.

To His High Excellency, Admiral Koltchak, Supreme Governor.

Sir,--I have been requested by Major-General Knox, Chief of the British
Military Mission, Siberia, to undertake a tour of the railway works
along the Siberian Railway to address the workmen, and appeal to them
as a British Labour representative to give their best service to the
Russian State during the present and coming military operations, and to
join no strike movement, or do anything to hamper the transport of men
and supplies until the military operations against the enemy are
completed.

I have pointed out to General Knox that, while I am quite willing to
undertake this mission to the railway workmen, I fear it will be quite
useless unless I can promise, on behalf of the Russian Government, some
improvement in their condition.

1. For instance, I am informed that some of the railway and other
Government workmen have not received any wages upon which to keep
themselves and their families, for in some cases many weeks, and in
other cases months. If this is true, it is impossible to expect workmen
to be satisfied, and the wonder would be that they agree to work as well
as they do.

It would be necessary for me to be able to promise that such things
would be rectified, and wages paid regularly in future.

2. There are many things absent in Russia which industrial communities
like England find necessary elements for industrial peace. I admit that
very little constructional reform work can be executed during the
present disturbed condition of the country, but it would help immensely
if I could tell the workmen that I had the authority of the Russian
Government that directly order had been restored, laws for the
protection and help of the Russian workmen and their organisations, on
the lines of those already working so effectively in England, would be
adopted by the Russian Government.

If I could get something definite from Your High Excellency upon these
points, I believe it would do much to help in the work for the
pacification of the labouring classes of Russia, and greatly strengthen
Your Excellency's hold upon the hearts of the Russian people.

(Signed) JOHN WARD.

(_Lt.-Colonel, M.P., C.M.G., Commanding 25th Bn. Middlesex Regiment_.)



[COPY.]

OMSK.

_February 5th_, 1919.

SIR,--In reply to your letter of February 4th, I wish to inform you that
I have learned with the greatest satisfaction that you are willing to
undertake the important mission of addressing the workmen of our
railways and calling them to give their best service to the cause of
Russia in this crucial moment of our national existence.

The two questions which you have raised in your letter should not be
left without a prompt answer, and I therefore would like to bring to
your knowledge the following:--

1. The imperative necessity of orderly and regular payment of wages to
the workmen has been the object of my personal anxiety, and pressing
measures in that direction have been urged by the Government. The
railways being considered by us just as important as the army, you will
understand that everything in its power will be done by our Government
to help the threatening situation in that respect.

2. As for the second question which you have mentioned in your letter, I
venture to assure you that the Government has already stated in its
official programme that the workmen will find protection and help in the
laws which shall be enforced and have to secure their organisation on
lines similar to those of democratic states in Europe. The Government
has actually a special Department of Labour which is preparing the
future legislation on this question, following the general course of
constructive reform work which I hope to be able to pursue with all the
energy and vigour that the military situation will permit.

I take this opportunity to renew the expression of my profound
appreciation of the interest you take in our situation and of the
valuable assistance you so generously offer in this most important
matter of pacification of the labouring classes in Russia.

Yours sincerely,

(Signed)   A. KOLTCHAK.

Lt.-Colonel JOHN WARD, M.P., C.M.G.,
_Commanding 25th Bn. Middlesex Regiment_.


This is believed to be the first correspondence ever conducted by the
head of any Russian Government upon a purely labour subject. It shows
that in supporting Admiral Koltchak we had at least this fact to
recommend our policy: that he was a democrat, and anxious that his
country should be in labour matters amongst the first flight of nations.

The question now to be solved was: What attitude would the anarchist
adopt to this new evangelism?

I was ready to start on my journey when there began such a blizzard as
is occasionally described in the literature of Polar exploration. For
forty-eight hours from the south came a furious gale. It was not too
cold, only about twenty degrees of actual frost, but with the wind came
blinding snow--not snow such as we see in England, but fine snow, like
white dust. It beat on your face, found its way between the flaps of
your head-covers, where it thawed and ran down your neck and chest and
saturated your underwear. It smashed straight on to your eyeballs, and
froze in cakes to your eyelashes and cheeks, so that in five or ten
minutes you were blind and unable to find your way or move in any
direction. All sentries had to be withdrawn and sent to the nearest
shelter, for it was impossible to locate oneself or see a building till
you blundered up against it. A note in my diary records that "a guard of
eighteen Russians and one officer walked away from their post and have
not been seen since, and six days have passed." Roofs were torn off the
houses, and the strongest buildings rocked in a most alarming manner.
The snow piled itself up against the houses till it covered the windows
on the ground floors and half-way up those of the second. This southern
gale took twenty-four hours in which to blow itself out, and a four
days' calm followed, during which the snow was cleared from the railway
and traffic resumed. The next startler was a message from Irkutsk
stating that a terrific gale was breaking down from the north--a recoil
from the one just described--accompanied with sixty degrees of actual
frost, making it impossible to live out of doors. This storm struck Omsk
on February 20, and no words can describe the complete obliteration of
man and all his works accomplished by such a gale. Nothing can live in
the intense cold created by such a wind. Hence movement and life cease,
and King Frost has the whole field to himself. In a few hours the earth
is levelled; all the indications remaining of the ordinary log dwellings
are a few snow-banks with a row of dark posts from which smoke is
emitted, showing that there are human habitations underneath. By
February 22 this storm had worked itself out and we were able to
proceed.

The influence of the Koltchak Government could be seen in the orderly
management of affairs connected with the railway and supplies generally.
Not till we reached Kameragh could we observe any sign that there still
remained unextinguished embers of the social inferno through which the
country had passed. At this point the line was guarded by a strong
detachment of troops quartered in trucks on the siding. The officer in
command informed me that an attack by revolters had been made on the
line at this point, who had held up the traffic for some hours, but had
been driven off before any permanent injury was accomplished. The
revolters did not wait after the attack, but set fire to the station and
departed. He suggested that it might be as well to be ready for sniping,
and for worse things, should accident force the train to come to a
standstill between here and Krasnoyarsk. We arrived at the latter place,
however, without incident on February 25.

Krasnoyarsk is a fairly large town on the River Yenesei. The fine bridge
over the river is the point to which the eyes of the revolters are
constantly directed. The garrison was composed of one company of the
25th Middlesex Regiment, an Italian battalion recently formed from
amongst the Italian prisoners of war and armed by the British, about
four hundred Cossacks, and a company of Czechs belonging to the 10th
Regiment, who arrived that morning. There were numbers of Bolsheviks
inhabiting an elevated part of the town. These met on the old Russian
New Year's Day and passed a resolution that it was necessary to execute
all army officers wherever they might be found isolated from their
comrades. The army chiefs replied by ordering all guns to be trained on
the Bolshevik part of the town and one round of shell from each of the
eight guns to be planted in the Bolshevik quarters for every officer
murdered. No officers had been murdered up to that time. A party of
Serbians who had been armed to assist in protecting the inhabitants were
caught selling arms and ammunition to the Bolsheviks; they were
surrounded in the middle of the night and disarmed, one Cossack being
killed. The 25th were "standing to" during this operation in case their
assistance was required.

We started for Irkutsk on the 25th, having been warned that the road to
Kansk was practically dominated by the revolters. About 8 P.M. we
arrived at the headquarters of General Affinasiaff, who came into my car
and gave a minute description of the situation. The enemy forces
numbered about 8,000, and those of the Russian Government about 3,000.
For about one hundred versts the Russian forces, in small detachments,
were allowing themselves to be pinned to the railway.

It was very interesting to hear a clear statement as to the cause of
the revolt and to find that the chief point of the grievances set forth
in the revolters' own proclamations. In great part these opponents of
the Government consist of rich peasants, who already possessing land
which in many cases was equal in extent to the County of Rutland, had in
1917, under the order of Lenin and Trotsky, taken forcible possession of
the furniture, horses, farmhouses, carts, carriages, land, etc., of the
big landholders, who with their families had been massacred by these
same rich peasants.

The next important element among the revolters were the escaped
prisoners of the old regime, who, being released by the Bolsheviks, had
taken to the forest to avoid recapture--probably the wildest and most
savage set of men in the world. They were illicitly fed and protected by
the aforementioned wealthy peasants with a view, firstly, to buy off
their hostility to themselves, and, secondly, to secure their help to
resist the civil officers of the new Government who were appointed to
inquire into the methods by which these wealthy peasants became
possessed of their dead neighbours' lands and properties; thirdly, to
enable these wealthy peasants to resist the payment of taxes, not only
those that were in arrears, but any that would become due in the future.
This was the point dealt with in their proclamation, wherein it was
stated that inasmuch as it was the people who lived in the towns that
forced the revolution, therefore it was unjust to ask the peasants to
pay for the damage done by those in the towns; further, that it was the
people in the towns who kept on fighting one another, and until they
had finished their quarrelling the peasants would not pay any taxes or
do anything to help the Government; fourthly, this unholy partnership
enabled the wealthy peasants to resist the mobilisation ordered by the
Koltchak Government for the same reasons.

As I have already pointed out, every minor Government and general,
including General Denikin, made haste to show their submission to Omsk
when Admiral Koltchak assumed authority, the only exception being
Colonel Semianoff. He, it was known, was accepting a regular subsidy
from the Japanese to enable them to resist the extension of the
admiral's power towards Vladivostok, and it was under their instructions
and protection Semianoff refused to recognise the authority of the Omsk
Government and issued insolent manifestos against the Supreme Governor.
The peasants inhabiting the western side of the Baikal seized upon this
fact and said in their proclamations that inasmuch as Colonel Semianoff
had refused to allow Koltchak's orders to operate on the east side, and
was supported therein by one of the Allies, there was every reason why
they should do the same on the west side of the lake. It shows what a
tremendous influence Japan had either to create order or to make order
impossible. She and Semianoff between them provided these revolters with
just the argument they needed. By so acting Japan created and extended
the area of anarchy and made the task of her Allies and Koltchak more
difficult than it might otherwise have been.

This may not be a very logical position for the peasants to have taken
up, but anyone who knows anything about Russia will see that it fitted
their psychology to a fraction. These people are more ignorant than our
worst educated agricultural labourers. They own and live on huge tracts
of land, in most cases as large as a great English estate. Their method
of living is many stages below that of our landless farm labourer. Their
ignorance is colossal, their cupidity and cunning the envy of the
Armenians, who openly confess that in a bargain the Russian peasant
beats the Jew to a frazzle. The order of the Soviet Government to the
peasants to take possession of the landowners' estates and property was
the trump card which Lenin and Trotsky played to secure immunity in the
provinces while they massacred and robbed the property owners in the
towns. These men, who are the natural enemies of all political progress
and social reform, and who should have exercised a steadying effect upon
the empty idealism of the professional classes, were too busy robbing
their neighbours to be able to exert any influence upon the major events
of the revolution. While perfectly willing to use the revolution--whose
principles they abhorred--for their own personal aggrandisement, this
wealthy peasantry are now equally unwilling to render the slightest help
in the restoration of order.

It was with profound interest that I read these documents, which
entirely exploded the English legend of the landless Russian peasant
pining for a few acres of land.

We arrived at Irkutsk and proceeded to investigate the situation. When
we passed here four months before it was the centre of Siberian life;
official indolence had, however, again reduced its status to that of a
third- or fourth-rate town.

I was anxious to know how the new Rumanian Division under French
auspices was progressing. Fourteen thousand rifles that could be ill
afforded from the front had been left here some six weeks previous by
one of our British supply trains. I found that the local Russian
military authorities knew nothing, nor had they ever been consulted
about it. They knew that not more than three thousand Rumanians lived in
the district, and these had mostly embraced the opinions of the
Bolsheviks. I made inquiries through the usual English channels, but
they were equally uninformed. A visit to the Russian railway department
elicited the fact that a French officer had signed the necessary orders
for the trucks containing the rifles to remain at Irkutsk, that three
thousand rifles had so far been unloaded, and that there was a French
proposal to send the remainder to Tomsk, where it was hoped they might
be got rid of amongst some Serbian bands with Bolshevik tendencies. This
may or may not represent all the facts, but it indicates the
unmistakable necessity that English help shall be given only by English
hands.

Russian officers were beginning to recover their old characteristics,
and nightly filled the entertainment halls and restaurants and led the
gaieties of the town. Very little thought was given to the grim
struggle their half-clad comrades were waging with the forces of anarchy
along the Ural mountains.

British Consul Nash kindly entertained Colonel and Madame Frank and
myself, and generally helped me in the organisation of this end of my
campaign. He did not think much of my objective, but he helped all the
same.




CHAPTER XVII

MY CAMPAIGN


I held my first meeting in the repairing shop at Irkutsk at 3 P.M.,
March 4. It was a big crowd of working men and women. The Russian women
work on the railways in such employments as carriage and wagon cleaners,
snow and ice shovellers, and even repairing gangs on different sections
of the line have a sprinkling of the fair sex.

This audience listened to an explanation of the rise of the trade union
movement in England with the greatest attention. The large majority
accepted the proposition I tried to expound, that no question could be
settled by the disputants merely killing each other off; but there were
present about half a dozen members of the International World Workers,
slouch-hatted, unshaven, and exactly true to type as seen at meetings in
East London, Liverpool or Glasgow. These were not workmen employed on
the railway; one kept a barber's shop, one was a teacher, one a Russian
doctor, and one a Russian solicitor; but they were the officials of the
only form of union that exists in Russian Siberia, a revolutionary
circle composed of the very worst elements in the towns, bound together
by one common purpose, the spoliation and assassination of every decent
man, whether bourgeois or workman, who refuses to support a policy of
anarchy. These five or six determined ruffians formed a kind of Blood
Brotherhood, and behind a veil of anonymity issued mandates to, and in
the name of, the Russian workmen, which, backed up by a system of
murderous terrorism, the workmen were powerless to resist. It was quite
a usual thing to find each morning dead men of all classes in the
streets who had been murdered during the night by members of these
circles. There was no system of law or police; every vestige of justice
was uprooted, and these crimes went unpunished. The irony of it was that
these acts were avowedly done in the interest of progress and reform and
in the sacred name of Labour!

The Irkutsk Circle asked questions which were not calculated to elicit a
single fact connected with labour, either in Russia or England, but were
just the usual clap-trap monkey business, such as:

"Why should we be satisfied with half, when we have the bourgeoisie down
and can take all?"

"Why should we allow law to be re-established, which was always used by
the few to rob the many?"

"Surely it is less unjust to allow the many to continue to rob the few?"

"In destroying the landlord and capitalist are not the Russian
proletariat merely taking back its own property?"

"Is it not a fact that the more systematically and effectively we
annihilate the bourgeois and landlord class, and all the institutions
belonging to them, the easier it will be to erect the new order?"

These are all very subtle and difficult to answer briefly at a meeting
of Russian workmen, not one of whom can read or write. It was wonderful
foresight which placed Madame Frank, the editress of the _Russian Army_,
as correspondent for this labour mission. She fastened on to each
question in turn and gave instance after instance of how the suggestions
they contained had worked out in practice, to the total destruction of
all that was good and honourable in Russia. Then with magnificent play
on the words "the new order" in the last question, she drew a picture of
this _new order_ as exhibited in practice in that part of Russia under
Bolshevik control. The influence of this little lady upon these simple
Russian workmen was really remarkable. It was quite evident that the
workmen would prefer the old regime to the new if Bolshevik tyranny is
the only possible outcome of the new order.

Our next stop was Imokentievskaya, where the head of the works looked as
though he would have preferred execution rather than take part in a
workmen's meeting. The professionals had been left behind, and the
audience was composed entirely of the railway workers. They presented
many characteristics of the average English workmen and hungrily
received information relating to the methods of the best organised
English trade unions. They had no idea of the things we had done and the
progress we had made in bettering the working conditions of labour
generally. Their professional leaders had disposed of the British
movement by describing our organisation as "bourgeois trade unions," and
always referred to our trade union activities as though we were
organised and internally managed by the capitalist. They were surprised
to learn that we were the only exclusively working-class organisation in
the world; that the officials must have worked at the trade whose
society they managed; that we did not, like themselves, allow doctors,
lawyers, and mere politicians to manage our affairs, but insisted upon
having our trade unions in our own hands. One real old "Russky"
engine-driver asked: "If the English workmen found it so advantageous to
keep their organisations exclusively working-class, why did not the
Germans do the same?" I answered, "When a movement starts wrong it is
very difficult to put it right; that outsiders all over the world
struggle for a place in the trade unions, and if once they get in they
either break themselves or the union rather than get out, and those who
can't get in hang on outside like limpets and refuse to be kicked off;
that the Russian workmen in organising their trade unions must start
right and keep them free of every element except the working class."

We stopped at Zema, the scene of a sharp encounter with armed strikers a
few months previous. The meeting in the works was a great success. It
was remarkable to find that though in my previous meeting with these
workmen I took the attitude of a military dictator, they showed no
resentment and had rigidly observed the agreement which had been entered
into at the point of the bayonet. They were delighted to find that I,
too, had performed my part of the contract in not forgetting their
interests when opportunity presented itself.

Nesniodinsk was not on my list, but a special request having been
presented for me to address the workmen there, we made the necessary
arrangements and visited this place on Sunday, March 8. It was perhaps
the largest meeting held up to that point. The official heads had caused
a special platform to be erected in a huge engine-repairing shop, and
themselves took the greatest interest in the whole proceeding. It was a
very harassing business, but if as an outcome the seed of orderly
progress was sown, the effort was entirely worth while.

Our carriage was fastened to the rear of a slow-moving train going west,
and we did not arrive at Kansk till the evening of the 10th.

Kansk is the most easterly point of the area of revolt and a fairly
large depot for the railway. Some interesting facts about the revolt
were picked up from the railway officials. The revolt began suddenly on
December 26, at the same time that it broke out in Omsk and Kolumsino,
and at first was aimed at the possession of the railway. The military
guard at Kansk consisted of one officer and fifty men. The officer
posted his sentries at different points some distance away, and the
soldiers who acted as his personal guard awoke to find their
sleeping-place and arms in the possession of half a dozen armed men. The
marauders shouted "Your officer is dead," and ordered the men to lie
still while they removed the rifles. This done, they proceeded to the
quarters of the officer, who, finding his men already disarmed, bolted
without firing a shot. The total strength of the Bolsheviks was fifteen
men, and these fifteen held the station and a town of over five
thousand inhabitants up to ransom for twenty-six hours! At the end of
that time a squadron of Cossacks approached, and the Bolsheviks left,
taking with them about 80,000 roubles belonging to the railway and post
office. During their short stay they committed all sorts of barbarities.
They murdered the railway school-mistress and tortured her husband by
stripping him and pouring cold water over his naked body, finally
driving him out into the snow, where he quickly froze to death. The
charge against their two victims in this case was that they, by their
calling, were teaching the youth of Russia to become young
_bourgeoisie_, instead of leaving all men and women equal as nature
intended.

This garden of autocracy grows some strange plants. These banditti,
known in England as Bolsheviks, are entrenched not more than 60 versts
distant, protected from Koltchak's vengeance by the deep snows of the
Siberian winter, which make it impossible to operate away from the
railway.

We held a splendid meeting of the workmen in the enormous workshop,
remarkable for the quiet enthusiasm and the evident hope of better
times. It was quite clear to me that the Russian workmen were tired of
the Revolution. They were promised an Eldorado and realised Hell
instead. They merely wanted to be shown a way out of the social
nightmare. They passed a vote of thanks to me and the English workmen
for whom I spoke.

We started for Krasnoyarsk on the 12th, and before long found it
necessary to get the machine guns and hospital equipment ready for
instant use. After standing to arms all night we arrived, at midday on
the 13th, at Klukvinah, the Russian Headquarters, and discovered that
the Government forces had driven the enemy back from the railway, and
that the remainder of our journey to Krasnoyarsk would be practically
safe. We arrived about 9.15 P.M. on Wednesday, the 13th.

Colonel Frank, Madame Frank, myself and the Czech interpreter, Vladimir,
were passing through the station on our return from the town about 12.30
midnight, when a rather exciting incident occurred. The station
commandant approached Colonel Frank and appealed to him for help to send
home a party of Serbian soldiers who had procured drink without payment
at the point of their swords and revolvers, and had stripped a young
woman passenger and exposed her for their orgies. Other bestial things
were alleged against them, but no one had so far dared to interfere to
restore order. After a moment's consideration Colonel Frank decided to
go into the buffet and ask them to go quietly home, and if they refused,
to secure force to arrest and remove them. I naturally followed.

It was a big stone-floored room with the door at one end and a long bar
at the other. The alleged Serbian soldiers were seated in a cluster on
the right in front of the bar at the far end of the room. Colonel Frank
advanced to them and said, "Brothers, you have had enough to drink, you
are keeping all the attendants from their proper rest; it is time for
you to go home." It was like an electric shock. About a dozen of the
ruffians sprang to their feet hurling every possible Slavonic epithet at
this brave Russian officer who was merely performing a public duty. One
dark-visaged Serb cavalryman drew his sword and tried a lunge at the
colonel across the table, and while the colonel watched this infuriated
aborigine a Serbian officer close behind Frank tore the epaulette from
the colonel's uniform and trampled it underfoot, shouting, "Death to
this officer of the old regime!"

I picked up the epaulette just as the other Serb, sword in one hand and
revolver in the other, edged round the tables to the centre of the room
for his attack upon my liaison officer. I did not think of drawing my
own weapon, and so far it was man to man. Colonel Frank kept his eye
fixed upon his antagonist, and now advanced towards him, ordering him to
put down his arms and leave the room. But the Serb was out for blood and
made a slash at the _polkovnika's_ head, the full force of which he
evaded by ducking, though the sword severed the chin strap and button of
his cap and carved its way through the thick band before it glanced up
off the skull, helped by his right hand, which had been raised to turn
the blow. At the same instant Colonel Frank fired point blank at the
man's face; the bullet entered the open mouth and came out of the cheek,
which merely infuriated the man more. Up to this moment the man had only
used his sword, but now he began to raise his revolver. Before he could
raise it hip high, however, the colonel shot him through the heart.
Though the revolver dropped from his helpless hand, he crouched for one
instant and sprang, clutching at the colonel's face, while four or five
of his fellow Serbs attacked the colonel from behind. The foremost of
these ruffians, a Serbian officer, fired at the back of the colonel's
head and missed, but his second shot struck Colonel Frank on the left
temple at the moment his real assailant had made his death spring, and
down they both went, apparently dead, the Serbian on top. The other
Serbs sprang forward to finish the Russian officer with the usual ugly
dagger which Serbian robbers always carry. The body of the dead Serb,
however, formed a complete shield, and this, coupled with the fact that
we all thought the colonel dead, saved him from mutilation.

I was not quite an idle spectator, but the fact that at the critical
moment I discovered I had no weapon except for my cane reduced me to
helplessness so far as dealing with this gang of murderers was
concerned. Directly the fight began every Russian, including the armed
militiaman who was supposed to keep order at the station, bolted from
the room, leaving the women and children to look after themselves.
Madame Frank went to the assistance of her husband and covered him as
only a woman can, and as she grasped her husband's revolver the Serbs
slunk back a pace, while I lifted his head and signed to the Serb
officer who had fired at the colonel from behind to lift the dead Serb
off the colonel's body. This he did and then proposed to the band
surrounding us that they should kill us all three. Their knives
glistened and a small automatic revolver was making a bee line for me,
when a voice like the growl of a bear came from the direction of the
door. The whole band instantly put up their weapons. I had stood up to
receive my fate, and over the heads of our would-be murderers I saw a
tall dark-bearded stage villain in a long black overcoat which reached
to the floor, stalk across to the group. He looked at the body of the
dead Serb and then at the prostrate Russian officer who at that instant
began to show signs of returning consciousness. "Ah! Oh! Russky
polkovnik," he roared, drawing his revolver. "Our dead brother demands
blood."

I could not stand and see a wounded friend murdered before my eyes, not
even in this land of blood. I stepped over both bodies and placed myself
between this monster and his victim. I raised both hands and pushed him
back, saying, "I am Anglisky polkovnik, and will not allow you to murder
the wounded Russian officer." He answered that he was "Serbian
polkovnik," and I said "Come into the other room," and by strategy got
him away. His friends, however, told him something which sent him back
quickly to finish his job, but as he re-entered the buffet he
encountered about a dozen British and Czech soldiers with fixed
bayonets, and it was not so difficult now to convince him that it was
not quite good form to murder a wounded man.

We carried the Russian colonel to the British hospital, and as the
leader of the Serbs had declared a blood feud, extra guards were placed
on my wagon and the hospital. These ruffians were armed from our
supplies under the direction of French officers. Directly the Russian
military authorities began their investigations to bring this band to
justice they, through the Czech commander, received orders from General
Ganin, the French Allied commander, to move to Novo Nikoliosk out of
Russian jurisdiction.

It is not very clear at present why the French gave their protection to
these and similar disturbing elements in Siberia. Perhaps the reason
will show itself later.

Krasnoyarsk is a huge railway depot with building and repairing shops
employing about 3,000 workmen. To get at both shifts it was necessary to
hold two meetings, one for the inside and the other for the outside
staff. The first was a very silent, interested crowd, who listened to my
address as though they understood its meaning and purport. The gallant
"Russky" _polkovnika_ with bandaged head and hand translated the first
part, Madame Frank the second. The impression created by this brave
woman, who had herself commanded a company in the trenches before
Kerensky destroyed the army, was very great. There was no mistaking the
effect of her words as these oil-stained workmen raised their _papahas_
to the message from the English trade unionists which she delivered.

This town was the centre of international intrigue. There was an Italian
battalion about 1,500 strong, the Czech 12th Regiment of about 200, and
the British Middlesex Regiment, 220. To maintain their prestige the
French were arming the Lett revolters as fast as the Russian General
Affinasiaff could defeat and disarm them. The Italian soldiers were in
very bad favour with the inhabitants and the local Russian civil and
military authorities. Robberies and assaults were of almost daily
occurrence, and at last the authorities made definite official
complaints to the Allied Headquarters and asked that the Italian
soldiers should either be kept under proper discipline or removed from
the country. The main complaint, however, of the Russian officials was
based on the open hostility of the Allied officers led by the senior of
them to everything Russian.

It is such an easy matter to make friends with the Russian people that
this attitude of her alleged helpers was very saddening. When I landed
at "Vlady" my orders were to remember that we English had come as
friends to help Russia on to her feet, and I always tried to keep that
in mind. I often wondered what instructions could have been given to my
Allied colleagues.

The next call was at Bogotol, where, under instructions from Consul
Peacock, I inquired into the imprisonment of an Australian subject named
Savinoff. The authorities produced the _dossier_ of his case, which when
translated proved him to be a Bolshevik leader and second in command of
an armed band that had attempted to murder the local authorities. His
trial took place shortly after, with that of Titoff, his chief, who was
one of the Central Committee of the Baltic Fleet who ordered the murder
of hundreds of the naval officers of the old regime.

The meeting maintained the usual standard of interest, and the chief of
the works, whose face bore traces of the tortures inflicted upon him
under Bolshevik rule, was delighted with the new hope we had brought to
himself and his workmen.

Our next meeting was at Taiga, and it was quite a great event. A
special platform had been erected in the big workshop, around which
swarmed nearly two thousand workmen. The people looked upon the meeting
as the new birth of Russian life. No meeting had been held for two
years, except the underground gatherings of conspirators. I appealed to
the men to discard disorder and take a hand in the orderly
reconstruction of the new Russian State, in which they were now
guaranteed a place. Madame Frank's translation made a profound
impression upon these toil-worn men and women. It was clear that the
people were tired of the horrors of revolution and yearned for peace and
quiet.

I here interviewed General Knox, who was on his way to Omsk on important
matters which had been brought to my notice.

We arrived at Novo Nikoliosk on the morning of the 23rd, and proceeded
to make arrangements for the meeting to be held on the same day. I
visited the various commands, as usual, and held long consultations with
General Zochinko, from whom I gathered much information as to the
situation in this important district. It was interesting to hear some
news of our old friend, the _Voidavoda_ of the Serbian band. He and his
gang had arrived from his excursion to Krasnoyarsk on the day that a
banquet was held by the newly-formed Polish regiment. As chief of his
band he was invited, and delivered an oration of a particularly
patriotic character which had won all Polish hearts. He was in a great
hurry to get away next morning, fearing that we were following behind.
He said nothing about our encounter, and the Russian officials became
suspicious of his anxiety to get away. They brought a squad of soldiers
to examine his trucks, and found an enormous amount of loot from
Krasnoyarsk, as well as contraband goods upon which he had to pay duty
to the amount of 130,000 roubles. Having squeezed this toll out of the
"bounder," they gave him a free way to Ekaterinburg, where things are
very scarce, and where he would be able to sell out at a good figure.

General Zochinko told us some funny stories about the French Staff's
attempt to form a powerful counter force to Bolshevism from the German
and Austrian war prisoners. In Novo Nikoliosk the Allied Commander,
General Ganin, had released some hundreds of Austrian and German Poles
from the prison camps and formed them into regiments. In his haste to
get these units complete he forgot to inquire into the antecedents of
the officers chosen to command them. So careless, in fact, were the
French that the Russian authorities awoke one morning to find one of
their most dangerous prisoners, a well-known German officer spy, von
Budburg, in full command of this alleged Allied force. Von Budburg had,
like a true patriot, taken care to choose his subordinates from men of
the same type as himself.

Later on the French Staff became aware of the nature of their handiwork
and sought help and advice from the Russian military authorities about
disarming their new German Legion. A sudden descent on their quarters by
another Polish unit, with some new Russian units standing by to render
help if necessary, ended in these French proteges being disarmed and
got back safely to their prison camp.

Allied help to Russia is like a jig-saw puzzle, a mystery even to the
man who devised it. A straight-forward recognition of the Omsk
Government would have been an honest hand for honest work, but where
would Allied diplomacy have come in? Diplomacy is only necessary when
there are ulterior objects than mere plain, unambiguous assistance to a
helpless friend. What are these hidden objects? The Allies had better be
cautious how they proceed in the diagnosis and dismemberment of this
great people or they may find themselves on the operating table with
this giant holding the knife. In spite of the Biblical legend I prefer
England to be a pal with Goliath!

We arrived at Barabinsk on the morning of March 26, and after
arrangements for the meeting were completed, took a walk round the
market. A Russian market is a thing of joy and colour. There are no
buildings: just a huge space in the centre of the town where thousands
of shaggy, ice-covered horses stand each with an ice-covered sledge. The
peasants, men and women, in huge fur coats which reach to the
snow-covered ground, harmonise perfectly with the cattle they control.
Their fur coats form a study in colour--patchwork coats from calfskins
which combine every shade from white to rusty red; goatskins, from long
straight black to white; curly bearskins from black to brown and brown
to polar white; wealthy peasant women, with beautiful red fox furs
hiding neck and face, their eyes glistening through the apertures which
served the same purpose for the first and original tenant. The sledges
contain everything--wheat, oats, potatoes, onions, rough leaf tobacco,
jars of cream, frozen blocks of milk, scores of different types of
frozen fresh-water fish from sturgeon to bream, frozen meats of every
conceivable description, furs--in fact, the finest collection of human
necessities to be found in any one place in the world. Prices were very
high for home produce and simply absurd for foreign or distant
productions. Colonel Frank was in need of a small safety pin (six a
penny at home), and found that the price was seven roubles--14s. 3-1/2d.
old money, and 3s. 6d. at the rate at which the British Army are paid.
Everything else was in proportion.

A very fine meeting was held in the works, and much good done in
securing the confidence of the workmen in the efforts of the Supreme
Governor, Admiral Koltchak, to create order out of chaos.

We arrived at Omsk on the morning of the 28th, and on the 29th I gave a
lengthy report to Admiral Koltchak, who expressed his hearty thanks and
impressed upon me the necessity of continuing my journey to the Urals.
He had received from the official heads of departments reports stating
that the effect of my mission had been to improve the general attitude
of the workmen all round. And he was most anxious that this effort to
enlist the workmen's interest in an ordered State should be pushed
forward with vigour.

A further discussion upon general affairs, especially the policy of the
French command in Siberia, took us through tea. I have absolute
confidence in the character of the admiral, but the pigmies by whom he
is surrounded are so many drags on the wheels of State. There is not one
that I would trust to manage a whelk-stall. They have no idea of the
duty of a statesman. Little pettifogging personal equations and jobs
occupy the whole of their time, except when they are engaged upon the
congenial task of trying to thwart the Supreme Governor. The patriotism
of the front officers and soldiers, and the medieval chivalry of the
Cossack are the only things left upon which to rebuild Russia. This
naturally limits the architectural features of the new edifice, but the
pioneer is always limited to the material at hand.




CHAPTER XVIII

OMSK RE-VISITED


It is quite interesting to watch the oscillation of the Omsk mind from
one orientation to another. At the time I left for the East the stream
of favour flowed strongly in the English direction. General Knox started
on a tour of Siberia in connection with the formation of the new
Koltchak army; Sir Charles Eliot went to Hong-Kong; General Bowes was
left to deputise for General Knox, and Colonel Robertson for Sir Charles
Eliot. In three short weeks every sign of British influence had
disappeared. The English were nowhere; the favour was shared equally by
France and Japan.

The Japanese had either learned how to behave themselves towards the
Russians or they had received instructions from home. During the first
three months I was in Siberia their arrogance was simply sublime, but
after the armistice with Germany--upon whose power to defeat the Allies
they banked their all--they were a changed people, so far as outward
appearance and conduct were concerned. They talked about their alliance
with England, their friendship with Russia, their love of France. When
the Japanese try, they can make themselves very agreeable; indeed, so
charming that it is impossible to resist their advances. That was their
attitude then to all except the Chinese, whom they hold in the greatest
contempt, and to the Americans, whom they fear. With a clear field their
new policy made great headway.

The French methods are quite different. Theirs is a drawing-room attack,
and at this sort of thing the ordinary Britisher cuts but a sorry
figure. Hence the field was also pretty clear for them, and they made
full use of their opportunities. With a judicious word over a cup of tea
an editor who refuses a bribe finds his or her talents a glut on the
market. A joke around a _samovar_ reduces the rank of a particularly
Russophile general. The glorious time they are having reaches its climax
when you hear the polite condolences to the victims uttered in exquisite
French.

But Colonel Robertson had gone to "Vlady," and his place had been taken
by a typical Britisher in the person of Consul Hodgson, who took a
correct measure of the situation, and in less than forty-eight hours
herded the whole caboose back into their own compounds. It is surprising
that the influence of one virile, definite personality can be so great,
and it proves how necessary it is that in this seemingly endless turmoil
only the best men should be burdened with the responsibility of our
representation. I started on my mission to the Urals with absolute
confidence that, in the absence of General Knox, our interests in Omsk
would not suffer so long as they were in the hands of our senior consul.

After infinite trouble with Russian official elements, I started on my
western journey on April 5. The mission consisted of Colonel Frank
(liaison officer), Madame Frank (translator), Regt-Sergt.-Major Gordon,
in charge of an escort of twenty-two N.C.O.s and men, with one machine
gun. We were now entering the district behind the Ural front. These
towns had not long been cleared of the Bolsheviks, so that it was
interesting to discover how far their ideas had gained possession of the
minds of the people. The new Russian armies were rapidly pushing
forward. Their progress had been made more general and persistent since
the end of November, 1918, the date on which the Czechs finally refused
to take part in the great Perm offensive. When they read in the English
papers of January, 1919, how the Czech, Italian, French, and Allied
forces had inflicted defeat upon the Bolsheviks at Perm, it caused a
grim smile to pass over the faces of the Russian officers who did the
job. Not a single Czech, Italian, French, or Allied soldier fired a shot
after Admiral Koltchak assumed supreme command. There is one notable
exception. The armoured trains from H.M.S. _Suffolk_, under the command
of Captain Wolfe Murray, continued to fight along the Ufa front well
into January, 1919. Only the intense cold and the necessity of
recoupment and re-equipment caused them to retire to Omsk. The British
Navy fighting on the Urals was the only reminder the Russian soldier had
that the Allies of his country had not entirely deserted her.

We arrived at Tumen on April 7, and held a fine meeting of the workmen,
who seemed quite pleased to hear that the Bolsheviks were not likely to
return. These workmen looked upon the Bolshevik rule as on some horrible
nightmare. They cared for little else so long as you could assure them
on this point. So ghastly was the dream from which they had awakened
compared with the flowery promises held out to them that I readily
believe "Ivan the Terrible" would have been received at that moment as a
saviour. This was a dangerous feeling which I tried my best to combat,
for the excesses of the Bolshevik regime have prepared the way--and were
deliberately intended so to do--for a return to absolutism.

We arrived at Ekaterinburg at the same time as General Knox arrived from
Chilliyabinsk. His first words were congratulations on my C.B., news of
which had just arrived. I visited Consul Preston, and read the evidence
he and his French colleague had collected relative to Bolshevik outrages
on the workmen of the district. It was too sad to think about. This was
the place where the Tsar and his family were imprisoned and murdered. Of
them it could be fairly alleged that they were responsible for the
crimes of the old regime; but what crimes have the poor workmen and
peasants committed that the most fiendish cruelty should be reserved for
them? I give it up! Perhaps there is some reason or justification; all I
can say is I have not heard it, neither can I imagine what it can be.

I held a meeting of railway workmen and officials, and was surprised at
the attention and earnestness of the audience. They hungrily devoured
every scrap of information as to our English trade union organisation
and work, and requested that a further meeting should be held next day
in a great carriage works in the centre of the town. This proved to be
one of the most remarkable gatherings I have ever attended. A fine
platform had been erected at one end of the main workshop. A sea of
faces under huge multi-coloured _papahas_ spread over the floor, while
every carriage was covered with human ants; even the beams of the
building carried its human freight. Clearly it seemed to me that the
resurrection of Russia had begun; the destruction of Russia began from
the head, its re-birth is from the ground.




CHAPTER XIX

IN EUROPEAN RUSSIA


Nevanisk is situated just over the European boundary of the Urals.
Before the Bolshevik came it was a great iron centre, one firm alone
employing three thousand workmen. When I arrived there the various works
were practically derelict and its vast collection of machinery idle. The
streets were deserted, and it was estimated that half of its inhabitants
had been destroyed. It was, and now it is not. The few remaining
inhabitants were valiantly pulling themselves together, and if order and
some sort of law could be established, they were confident that they
could rebuild their life again. We talked to them and encouraged them to
continue their struggle against the blight that had defiled their homes
and their country. Their hopes seemed to revive from our assurance of
English working-class sympathy. I am pleased they did not know that we
had some people mad enough to wish to inflict similar wounds upon our
own country.

A pound of sugar cost thirty-five roubles, a pair of 3s. 11d. goloshes
two hundred and fifty roubles, one pound of bread seven roubles. These
were the things we wished to buy, and so made the discovery of their
price; we bought bread only, as the thing we could not do without.
Typhus was raging in almost every house. General Knox was inoculated,
but I decided to run the risk. Doctors had largely disappeared, owing to
the hatred of everybody with a bourgeois education.

I wonder what sort of jokes or fun G.B.S. could make out of it. There
_is_ fun in it somewhere. The contrast between the original idea of the
revolution and the outcome of those ideas are so grotesque in their
realisation that it looks as though some hidden power were indulging in
a Mephistophelian laugh at the expense of mankind.

We next arrived at Taighill, where the same effects had been produced,
though on a smaller scale. It was Palm Sunday, and the great bell of the
cathedral was booming through the surrounding pine forest calling the
faithful to prayer. In the square of the town near by a statue of
Alexander II lay in the mud, having been thrown down by the
revolutionaries. Quite near a white figure of a woman, intended to
represent the Enthronement of Liberty, had been hurled from its recently
constructed base, and formed the roadside seat of five or six of the
raggedest starvelings to be found in the world. An inscription on
Alexander's statue states that it was raised to commemorate his
emancipation of the peasants from serfdom. The Bolsheviks had not time
to write _their_ inscription; but it did not matter--the empty houses
and deserted streets were quite enough. By means of much elbow labour
they had smoothed out the inscription on the statue of the Tsar
Liberator and for the time made all things equal again.

The meeting at Taighill was a repetition of the others, and we passed
on to Kushva. This place had been badly mauled. The Bolshevik Commissar
was evidently an anarchist pure and simple. All the hatred of class and
creed which had generated under the Romanoffs found expression in this
man's deeds. The amount of venom which he put into his administration
and work was worthy of his cause. The effect of his policy, however,
produced results exactly opposite to those he hoped for. The first
evidence of his zeal lay upon the snow in front of the railway office. A
huge steel safe with the door wrenched off and the contents missing
indicated the strength of his principles. The official who had lost the
key was thrown into the well near by to stimulate the memory of other
safe-owners; but this official was not alone in his glory, for several
railway workmen who refused to help rob this identical safe found a
watery grave with their superior. Altogether over seventy people met
their death in this well, workmen, _bourgeoisie_--all in one holocaust.
But the majority were of no class; their only offence seemed to be that
they had called themselves Social Revolutionaries. They have been the
subject of the most bitter hatred by the Bolshevik leaders. The
Bolshevik contention is that for men or women to call themselves
Socialists, and then to hesitate to take a hand in the complete
extermination of the bourgeois ruling classes, now there is a chance of
doing so in Russia, is to act the part of poltroon and traitor to the
cause. The "treachery" is all the greater if the objector is a workman
or a workwoman.

The Bolsheviks are quite honest about their purpose--the transfer of
power and property by murder and robbery from the _bourgeoisie_ to the
proletariat. If a member of the proletariat is so mad that he refuses or
hesitates to act his part in this scheme, then those who have been
called by the force of events to assume a dictatorship on his behalf are
entitled to destroy him as an unconscious enemy to himself and his
class. In the same way no mercy can be shown to the Social
Revolutionaries who, while professing allegiance to definite proletarian
domination, shrink from definite action now that the time for action has
arrived.

The Bolshevik Commissar of Kushva, acting on this principle, succeeded
in a short time in raising a formidable opposition amongst the workmen
in the surrounding districts. When the local school-mistress, a girl of
seventeen, found a temporary grave in this sort of Black Hole of
Calcutta the wells of Kushva and Taighill became a dreadful portent to
the simple Russian _mujik_.

The opposition began at the big Watkin Works, where over six thousand
men were employed. Though possessing no military organisation, the
workmen decided to resist by force the entrance of the Bolshevik Terror
into their midst. With the help of several young engineers they managed
to regiment themselves into some kind of military order. They selected
with great skill the strategic positions for fortifications, and held
the whole district against the repeated attacks of the enemy. Once the
Bolshevik line of the Urals west of Ekaterinburg struck from north to
south, from Kunghure to the Caspian, as the crow flies, for three
thousand versts, except for one great loop enclosing the Watkin Works.
But in November, 1918, the Bolshevik line swept forward, submerging
these valiant workmen warriors. Admiral Koltchak's Chief of Staff
naturally concluded that the workmen had given up the struggle and had
made terms with their hated enemy.

This surge forward of the Bolsheviks had been greatly assisted by the
unfortunate defection of the Czech forces, who had left the front at the
suggestion of their local National Council. General Gaida had thrown up
his Czech commission, and had been given command of the right wing of
the new Russian army. The admiral proceeded at once to put his new army
to the test by an attempt to recover the lost ground and, if possible,
save the remnants of the Watkin workmen. Everybody now knows how, in a
temperature of over "60 below," these recently mobilised Siberian
recruits re-established the fighting fame of the Russian soldier by
sweeping the Terrorist forces from their positions and entirely
destroying them at Perm. Imagine General Galitzin's surprise when the
advance began to find these Watkin workmen still holding their district
and rendering valuable help to their relieving comrades! The Kushva
Soviet Commissar had built better than he knew.

This district is remarkable for the valuable and extensive deposits of
iron and sulphur, which seem inexhaustible. One huge hill has a store of
about 800,000,000,000 tons, almost untapped except for uncovering work
necessary to estimate its capacity.

The Revolution in Russia may alter a few things, but it can scarcely
effect much change in the character of its people. This iron mountain is
an illustration of the mixture of mediaevalism and modernism to be found
in Russia's industrial development. The summit of the mountain is capped
with an Orthodox Greek church, and desperate efforts have been made to
secure its removal to a less exalted and less valuable site. I was
informed that the mere suggestion proved almost fatal to its
originators, and by so narrow a margin did they escape that the proposal
is not likely to be repeated. I made the suggestion quite innocently,
and produced such a storm that only my foreign ignorance provided me
with a satisfactory excuse. I was asked: "Would you take God from His
place over this work?" One other thing I noticed everywhere. There was
not one important workshop from Irkutsk to Perm without its altar,
candles and all complete, and scarcely a business or Government office
without its ikon facing you the moment you entered.

I attended the Orthodox Easter celebration at Perm. The whole edifice
was crowded with people of every walk in life. I was not merely an
interested spectator, but one who believes that where man worships he
appeals to the same God no matter by what name He is called.

I watched this crowd, each holding a long lighted taper, stand for hours
making the sign of the Cross, while the gorgeously-robed priest chanted
the service and made sundry waves with his hands and gave certain
swings with the incense-burner. The responses were made by a group of
men with beautiful, well-trained voices, but the people looked
spiritually starved. Not one took the slightest part in the service
beyond an occasional whispered murmur, nor are they expected to. They
stood outside the pale; there was no place for them. I must say that I
contrasted this isolation of the congregation with the joint act of
worship as performed in our churches, both Free and Anglican. I looked
at these "Christian" men and women and thought of the butchery of
Petrograd and Moscow, the wells of Kushva and Taighill, and the ruthless
disregard of human life by both sides in this brutal internecine strife.
I wondered whether I had stumbled upon at least one of the causes. At
any rate, I did not forget we also had the heroes of the Watkin Works.

Nadegenska is the extreme north-west point of the Ural system of
railways, and is famous because of its great privately-owned steelworks.
These works were originated by a poor peasant woman, who developed the
whole district until it has become the most northerly Asiatic industrial
centre in the Russian Empire. The contrast in treatment at these
privately-owned works compared with those owned by the Government is
significant. The Soviet Commissar knew nothing about the business
himself, and appointed Works Commissars, still more ignorant of their
duties, to control the establishment. The result was that production
fell to such a point that the experts refused to work under such
incompetents and gradually escaped to other outlandish districts. The
manager stuck to his post during the battle of Perm, and by a judicious
distribution among the Bolshevik Commissars of the surplus roubles of
the Tsar remaining in his possession got them out of the works without
damage. This was an unheard-of situation, for nowhere else have the
Soviet Commissars left anything they could destroy.

It was interesting to notice that nearly the whole of the machinery in
these works was either of German or American make, the latter always
predominating; there was some English and some Belgian, about an equal
amount of each. I heard a curious statement at Kushva to the effect that
the German firms were always prepared to build and fit out a big works,
and run it for one year, without asking for a penny. Of course they
always first carefully examined the possibilities of the locality, but
the managers assured me that it was rare for German machinery to be
equal, either for use or wear and tear, to the English, nor was it as
cheap; but they could always get long credit from German firms, and that
was most important in developing new enterprises.

We set off for Perm, with a stop on our way at the Vackneah Turansky
Works. These works employed from four to five thousand men, doing
everything from smelting to the making of engines, carriages, shells,
guns, etc., and were the best equipped workshops I saw in the Urals. The
only complaint was lack of orders. The old regime did everything--nearly
all this great mineral district was developed under the personal care of
the Tsars. The Bolsheviks have destroyed the State control of these
establishments, and already the _bourgeoisie_ are casting hungry eyes
upon this great industry and the Omsk Ministers are rubbing hands over
the loot they hope to collect during this transfer. How vain the hopes
of those who looked to the Revolution to develop public control of all
natural resources! Already the State lands are parcelled out amongst the
wealthy peasants, who as a result of this robbery will establish a great
landed aristocracy, and, if I do not misread the signs, a similar fate
is about to overtake the great State industries with the creation of an
aristocracy of wealth.

At Turansky we picked up Sergeant Coleman, of the Durham Light Infantry,
the only Englishman who weathered the journey from Archangel with a
party of Russians who had started from the north to try and get into
direct touch with the Russian Army. They had made a circuitous route and
avoided the districts held by the Bolshevik forces, and therefore had
nothing of interest to report to us. The whole party, under a Russian
officer in English uniform, were attached to my train and taken to Perm,
where instructions awaited them to proceed at once to Omsk.

While examining the damage done during the street fighting at Perm we
encountered a mob of the Red Guard who had marched over their own lines
at Glashoff and surrendered to General Gaida. They were drawn up four
deep in the market-place for a roll call. I studied their faces and
general appearance, and came to the conclusion that if the progress of
the world depended upon such as these the world was in a very bad way.
They were Kirghis, Mongols, Tartars, Chinese, mixed with a fair
sprinkling of European-Russian peasants, workmen and others mostly of
the lowest type, but with just enough of the "old soldier" element to
make them formidable. A strange idea struck me that I would like to
speak to these men. The proposition, made almost in jest, was taken up
seriously by my liaison officer, Colonel Frank, who interviewed the
commandant of the station, Colonel Nikolioff, upon the subject. He at
first took up a hostile attitude, but when he gathered the substance of
my proposed address he consented, and arranged the meeting at the camp
for 6 P.M. the following evening, April 22. Of all the meetings it has
been my privilege to hold, this was the most unique. The Bolshevik
soldiers stood to attention and listened to me with great interest. One
or two were sailors, and some others could understand a little English,
as could be seen by the way they conveyed in whispers the points of the
speech to their neighbours. Madame Frank translated, and in beautiful
Russian drove home each point. Hers was a magnificent performance. As
she repeated my word-picture of their untilled fields, destroyed homes,
outraged women, and murdered children, not the ravages of an alien
enemy, but the work of their own hands, Russian against Russian, tears
trickled down their war-scarred faces. Clearly these men felt they had
been deceived, and would willingly endeavour to rectify the injuries of
the past. Some volunteered their services at once to help their Mother
Country to recover from the ravages they had made and administer justice
upon those who had led them into madness, but Colonel Nikolioff asked
them to remember that their crimes had been very great, and nothing but
time could heal the wounds and soften the bitterness their conduct had
created. Some asked that it should be remembered that they were not
Bolshevik in principle, but had been forced to become soldiers in the
Red Army, from which they could not desert until their villages were
captured by the Koltchak army, as their whole families, held as hostages
for their good conduct, would have been massacred. This they asserted
had been done in numberless cases where the families were in Bolshevik
hands.

The value of the rouble in Perm at that time was about one penny. My
officers and men were paid at the rate of 40 roubles to the L1. The
prisoners' camp was about three and a half versts distant, and the
duration of the meeting was one hour and five minutes; the droshky hire
for the journey was 100 roubles per droshky. Everything was in
proportion. For instance, common cigarettes were 1 rouble each. If I had
smoked twenty a day or used them between myself and my numerous official
visitors, half my colonel's pay would have gone. There must surely have
been something wrong in fixing the rate of exchange at Harbin or
"Vlady," 5,000 versts away, and leaving officers at the front in a stage
of poverty not one whit better than the people whose all had been
destroyed by the Revolution. I have no remedy to offer, but it is not
very satisfactory to receive your rouble at 6d. and spend it at 1d. What
is more! If I had been paid in L1 notes or sovereigns, I could have got
something approaching 200 roubles for each at the Perm rate! Wages had
increased under Bolshevik rule, but prices were such that one of the
petitions we had to forward to the Government at Omsk on behalf of the
workmen was that the wages and prices should be the same as under the
old regime.

On April 24 the ice on the Khama started to move about 5 A.M. It was a
very imposing sight. It moved first as one solid block, carrying boats,
stacks of timber, sledge roads--everything--with it. The point near the
bridge held for some time, until the weight behind forced some part down
and crunched its way through in one irresistible push; the other part
rose over the resistance and rolled like an avalanche over and over,
smashing itself into huge blocks which were forced into a rampart fifty
feet high, when the enormous weight broke the ice platform on which it
was piled, and the whole moved majestically off towards the Volga. Then
one experienced the peculiar illusion of gliding along the river; it was
necessary to plant one's feet far apart to prevent a fall. The Khama
near Perm is over a mile wide, and this method of Nature to herald
spring to these snow- and ice-bound regions lacks nothing so far as
grandeur is concerned. During the next few days millions of tons of
derelict timber passed on its way to the Caspian. The careless Russian
never thinks of hauling his spare stock off the ice until the ice
actually begins to move. He tells you that the proper time for the ice
to move is between May 1 and 5; that if it moves a week earlier it means
good crops, which would balance the loss of the timber, so that he has
no cause to complain.

It is no part of my business to deal with atrocities such as have
disgraced the proletarian dictatorship of Moscow. Where I could not
avoid them in my narrative of events, I have done so without reference
to the revolting details which everybody so hungrily devours. History
shows that it is not possible to avoid these excesses whenever the
safeguards of civil order are swept away by the passions of the mob. Our
own revolutionaries should remember this before and not after the event.
They should be considered not as a risk but as a certainty when once the
foundations of order are uprooted. At Perm the breaking of the ice
revealed some of the truth, and it formed quite sufficient evidence of
the callous behaviour of the Bolshevik administrators.

Below a steep bank a few yards from the Terrorist headquarters a small
shed was erected on the ice. It was called a wash-house, and during the
day washing was done there. At night the place, apparently, was, like
the streets, deserted, but as a square hole was cut through the ice, it
was an ideal place for the disposal of bodies, dead or alive. The people
knew that after an inspection of the better-class homes by officers of
the Soviet if there was evidence of valuable loot; the whole family
would quietly disappear, and the valuables were distributed by sale, or
otherwise, amongst the Soviet authorities. If a workman protested
against this violence, he disappeared, too, in the same secret fashion.

The poor women who used the shed during the day for its legitimate
purpose told from time to time grim stories of blood and evidence of
death struggles on the frozen floor as they began the morning's work.
Several thousand people were missing by the time the Koltchak forces
captured the town.

The ice in the shelter of the bank began to thaw before the more exposed
part of the river, which enabled the people whose friends and neighbours
were missing to put a rude and ineffective screen below the shed in the
hope of recovering the bodies of some of their friends. I knew about the
shed but not about the screen, until I was informed by Regt.
Sergeant-Major Gordon that he had seen several hundred bodies taken from
the river. The following morning I walked into the crowd of anxious
people who were watching the work. The official in charge told me quite
simply that they had not had a very good morning, for three hours' work
had only produced some forty bodies. I looked at these relics of the new
order; they were of both sexes and belonged to every condition of life,
from the gruff, horny-handed worker to the delicately-nurtured young
girl. A miscellaneous assortment of the goods, among other things,
revolutions are bound to deliver.

We held a big meeting in the great railway works which created quite a
sensation. The fact that the English were at Perm spread back to Omsk,
and four days later Japanese and French Missions put in an appearance.
If the French came to maintain their prestige it was a pity that they
did not choose a better agent for their purpose. I had been invited to
lunch with a very worthy representative of the town, Mr. Pastrokoff, and
his wife. I arrived to find the good lady in great agitation. A French
officer had called and informed the household that a French Mission had
just arrived composed of three officers; they would require the three
best rooms in the house, the use of the servants and kitchen; that no
furniture must be removed from the three rooms he saw under pain of
punishment, etc. The lady protested and told the French officer that
even the Bolsheviks had not demanded part of her very small house when
made acquainted with the requirements of her family, but the officer had
replied that any inconvenience was outweighed by the great honour
conferred upon her house by the presence of officers of the French Army.
It would not be polite to the glorious French Army to repeat Madame
Pastrokoff's reply. It only shows how stupid it is to send to foreign
countries any but the best men to represent a great and gallant nation.
I naturally reminded Madame that she was a Russian, living in her own
country, under her own Government, and she must report the case to the
Russian authorities, who would doubtless provide accommodation for the
French Mission if necessary.

The Pastrokoffs, coupled with the vivacious Madame Barbara Pastokova and
her husband, were among the most homely and interesting people it was my
pleasure to meet in the Urals. If you have never been in Russia you know
nothing of hospitality; you only squirm around the fringe of the
subject. The hospitality of our friends at Perm was truly Russian, and
I was sorry when we had to leave. M. Pastrokoff told me of the following
incident of the early relief of Perm from the Terrorist.

General Pepelaieff's army was stretched along the railway from Perm
towards Vatka, the junction of the Archangel Railway. The temperature
was over "60 below," the men were without clothes, thousands had died
from exposure, and other thousands were in a ghastly condition from
frost-bite. There was little or no hospital accommodation, and the Omsk
Ministers were deaf to all appeals for help, they being more concerned
as to how they could shake off the Supreme Governor's control than how
best to perform their duty. In the early days of February the feeding of
the army became a pressing problem, and still the Omsk Ministers
remained silent. On February 10 Pastrokoff received an imperative order
to appear at General Hepoff's office. At 11 A.M. he arrived to find nine
of the wealthiest citizens of Perm already collected. Looking out of the
windows they saw a full company of Siberian Rifles surround the building
with fixed bayonets. The general entered the room and sat at his table,
they remained standing. Looking at, and _through_, each one separately,
he delivered this cryptic speech: "Gentlemen, I have brought you here to
tell you that out on the railway between you and your enemies lie the
remains of our brave army! They have little clothes, but plenty of wood,
so their fires may prevent their bodies from being frozen, but ten days
from now there will be no food, and unless food can be secured, nothing
can prevent their dispersal or starvation. I have determined that they
shall neither disperse nor starve. The Omsk Ministers have forgotten us,
the Supreme Governor has given his orders, but these paltry people who
ought to assist him do nothing. We must do their work ourselves."
Reading down a list of the necessities of his army he said: "You
gentlemen will produce these things within ten days. If on February 21
these supplies are not to hand, that will be the end of everything so
far as you ten gentlemen are concerned."

"He allowed no discussion," said M. Pastrokoff, "and if he had we should
have been discussing it now, and the Terrorists would have re-occupied
Perm. I returned home and felt cold in the feet. I had a guard of
fifteen men placed on my person, the others the same. I knew that some
of my companions in distress were muddlers, but sent for my friend ----
and drew our plans for carrying out the general's orders. We were
greatly helped in this determination by witnessing the execution of a
company and platoon commander of one of our regiments under General
Hepoff's orders for having allowed thirty men of their company to desert
to the enemy during an affair of outposts. We saw we had to deal with a
man who never went back on his word."

On February 18 the general sent his aide-de-camp to inform the ten that
it would be necessary for them to put their affairs in order as they
would be taken to the front for execution, so that the starving soldiers
might know their immediate chiefs were not responsible for the condition
of the army. M. Pastrokoff was able to prove the things were on the
way, and only the disorganised condition of the railway made it
necessary to ask for a few days' grace. The general granted four days,
at the end of which the goods were delivered as per instructions. "What
did the general then do?" I asked. "When his soldiers were fed he burst
into my house and kissed me, and would have gone on his knees if I would
have allowed him. He has been here several times since, and we have
become great friends. He is a true Russian!" added Pastrokoff proudly.

We returned to Ekaterinburg on April 29, and were surprised to find that
General Knox and the Headquarters Staff had removed from Omsk and taken
up position there. The Hampshires were about to move up; barrack and
other accommodation had already been secured. The first echelon arrived
the following morning. An Anglo-Russian brigade of infantry was in
course of formation and seemed likely to prove a great success. It
offered employment for the numerous officers and N.C.O.s who had arrived
and for whom no proper place for work had so far been provided. It was
truly a stroke of genius for our War Office to flood us with officers
and men as instructors for the new Russian army, scarcely one of whom
could speak a word of Russian! I feel sure the Russians and ourselves
will get on well together, we are so much alike. Omsk and Whitehall are
true to type; they each first exhaust the possibility of error, and when
no wrong course is left, the right road becomes quite easy. The only
difference is in the motive. Ours is mostly because social influence is
always on the side of educated mediocrity, and theirs because self,
coupled with corruption, is their natural incentive to all exertion. We
have a different standard; all our theories of Government preclude the
possibility of hidden personal advantage in the transaction of State
business. The Russian view is that no competent official could be
expected to conduct business transactions for the State unless he
personally gains some advantage. If an official neglected a private
opportunity so obvious, it would justify the suspicion that his scruples
would make him unequal to the proper protection of the State. In other
words, the official who is poor at the end of a decent term of office
never should have been trusted with the interests of the community. It
is strange to hear them catalogue the proved cases of corruption amongst
officials of other countries. They never forget a case of this kind no
matter in which country it occurred. They argue that they are no worse
than others, forgetting that these exceptions only prove the rule,
whereas in Russia the honest official is rather the exception. After
all, public opinion decides the standard of conduct adopted by a
country. Morals change with time, also with countries and peoples. A
harem would be a nuisance in London, but stands as a sign of Allah's
blessing in Constantinople.

I returned to Omsk on May 3 to find that the snow and ice had given
place to a storm of dust which crept through every crevice of one's
habitation and flavoured everything with dirt and grit. It was, if
anything, worse than a sandstorm in the Sudan. The Sudan type is fairly
clean, but this Omsk variety is a cloud of atomic filth which carries
with it every known quality of pollution and several that are quite
unknown. I don't remember being able to smell a Sudan storm, but this
monstrous production stank worse than a by-election missile. The service
of a British soldier on these special trips is not exactly a sinecure.
The people at home who pay can be sure their money is well earned before
Tommy gets it. The south wind sweeps up from Mongolia and Turkestan, and
while it brings warmth to our frozen bones its blessing becomes a bit
mixed with other things before we get them. I only mention it, not to
complain! We never do in war-time!

A special dispatch from London arrived on May 5 which delayed my
starting for Vladivostok. If the object at which it aimed could have
been secured it would have been a beam of light upon a very sombre
subject. I had a lengthy conference with General Knox upon my tour to
the Urals and the facts gathered as to the mineral and productive
resources of the districts through which I had passed. The London
dispatch also occupied our attention, and as the Supreme Governor had
fixed the next day for my final farewell interview with himself, the
possible course of our conversation was also considered. It was arranged
that my journey to "Vlady" should be delayed until the matter referred
to in the dispatch had been dealt with in accordance with instructions.

My audience with the Supreme Governor was very cordial, and he
especially thanked me for the help I had rendered himself and Russia in
the dark days of November and December, 1918. He expressed the opinion
that my mission to the workmen had been a great success, and was the
first piece of definite work so far accomplished in the reconstruction
and resurrection of the Russian State. He pointed out that his own
labours were devoted to the one object of restoring order to the
country, but that this work could only be performed by a powerful army.
England had rendered him all help possible, but still the military
problem engrossed all his thoughts and precluded his taking active part
in the work of social reconstruction. He thought his Ministers and other
assistants would have been able to help in it, but he had been sadly
mistaken, and his experience had taught him that it was necessary to
learn everything himself and therefore he was all the more grateful for
my assistance. We took tea together, during which he informed me that he
was about to start for the front to arrange for a further push along the
northern line towards Vatka in the direction of Petrograd, with the
chance of forming a junction with the forces at Archangel, and if
General Knox would consent he wished me to remain at Omsk until he
returned. General Knox placed the London dispatch before the Supreme
Governor, and I remained to assist in settling its details.

On May 7 the Chief of the British Mission, Major-General Knox, asked me
to assist him in drafting the reply to the London dispatch. The heads
having been agreed to by the Supreme Governor, it was necessary to
consult with the Minister who assisted him with his foreign affairs. He
is distinguished by a sort of cleverness which borders very closely to
cunning. In a few years he will probably make a very able diplomat of
the old type, but whether that is the sort of equipment which will serve
under the new order, now in the throes of birth, remains to be seen. He
is Republican, having lived long in America, and honestly believes that
Russia must be directed in her orientation towards Republican countries
rather than to the evidently permanently and exclusively Monarchist
country, England. There I think I know more of his Russian
fellow-countrymen and better understand their character and sentiments
than he! But he is very young, very able, and his name is Sukin, and he
has time to learn.

In accordance with the wish of the Governor, the dispatch and draft were
shown to him, and a few hours later, while dining with a Cossack
general, I was asked if I knew anything about a dispatch from London
that was making a great stir amongst the members of the French and
American Missions. I answered that being a regimental officer, not
attached to the English Mission, dispatches were not my business, though
as a rule if important dispatches arrived, I heard about them; I had
heard of no dispatch which could upset the French or American Missions.

I informed Consul Hodgson, who was representing the High Commissioner in
his absence, of this, and it was decided to hurry on with the
construction and completion of the draft. It was completed in its final
shape by General Knox and myself in his train at the Omsk Vatka in
front of the Russian Staffka, 9.30 A.M., May 9, 1919.

Much of this Russian "Bill of Rights" had to be pushed down the throats
of the Russian official elements. The Supreme Governor never wavered
over a single point; his large democratic sympathies were satisfied by
his signature to what he hoped would be the foundation of Russian
liberty. How fortunate for Russia that she had such a man to call upon
in her hour of need! No matter what the final result of his efforts may
be, whether success or defeat, his was the mind and personality that
enabled this great people to bridge what looked like an impossible gulf
and turn their faces to the sun.

How fortunate it was that at this critical hour in Russian history
England was represented by Major-General Knox! I had never heard of him
till I went to Siberia, yet in him we have a man combining the courage
of the soldier with the higher qualities of a statesman, ready made for
the special business in hand. The British Empire doubtless, like Topsy,
"growed"! It is more an exhibition of race luck than genius. The way in
which we occasionally drop the right man in the right place is not an
act of Government so much as a stroke of chance. We make awful bloomers
in these matters sometimes, but in this case our luck stood by us to
some purpose. More than once, when the timidity of the "Politicals" had
almost destroyed Russian faith in our honesty of purpose, the robust
honesty of his personality turned the scale in our favour. Every Russian
trusts him, except those who have forgotten they are Russians. They
hate him. That is the real certificate of his worth. I can quite
understand the fear of some Labour elements at home that our presence in
Siberia may be used by reactionaries to re-establish the old regime. Had
I been at home I might have had the same feeling. But I was there, and
knew that it was our very presence which made that for the moment
impossible. The excesses of the Bolsheviks made the people, both peasant
and workman, hanker after the comparative security of the Tsars. The
reactionary elements would have been only too pleased to see our backs;
our presence was a safeguard against the absolutism for which some of
them scheme. The weariness of the peasantry and workmen with
revolutionary disorder gave the opportunity to reaction to establish
another absolutism which was only restrained by outside influence.
Major-General Knox does not write polished dispatches upon army
movements under his command, but he perhaps performed greater service to
humanity and democracy by his patient and efficient handling on the spot
of one of the great world problems.




CHAPTER XX

MAKING AN ATAMAN


General Evan Pootenseiff arranged a parade of the 2nd Siberian Cossack
Regiment outside Omsk on May 14 to say "Good-bye" to the "Anglisky
Polkovnika," his officers and soldiers. Needless to say, we were all
there, and it was an occasion that will be remembered by all who had the
honour to be present. Those who look upon the Cossacks as a sort of
untrained irregular cavalry had better revise their ideas at once, for
fear of further future miscalculations. The evolutions of this force in
every branch of cavalry work are simply superb. The Cossack control of
his horse, either singly or in combination, is not approached by any
army in the world. The parade was under the immediate command of the
Assistant Ataman, Colonel Bezovsky, and the wonderful display of
horsemanship was loudly applauded by the English Tommies, who were the
most interested spectators.

The parade over, the officers adjourned to an extremely artistic Kirghis
tent pitched on a treeless plain, where lunch was served; but the viands
were left untouched until the toast of "His Britannic Majesty" had been
drunk in good Tsaristic vodka. Then it became a real military
fraternisation. Officers inside, soldiers out. No civilian was allowed
to approach within three versts, except the old Kirghis chief who,
dressed in his picturesque native dress, had travelled over fifty versts
to attend the function of making an English Ataman. The band of the
Cossack regiment tried valiantly to enliven the proceedings with music,
but the English marching choruses soon silenced all opposition. Then the
Cossack commander called his men around, and giving time with his
cowhide thong, led them through some of the most weird Cossack war songs
it is possible to imagine. The difference in our mentality was never so
well illustrated as in the songs of the two people. Ours were lively,
happy, and full of frolic and fun; theirs were slow, sad wails, which
can only come from the heart of a long troubled people. The songs of
Ermak Tinothavitch, the conqueror of Siberia, were fierce and martial,
but the strain of tragedy ran through them all.

Then the Cossacks placed their commander upon two swords and tossed him
while singing the song of Stenkarazin, the robber chief, and at the end
drew their swords and demanded toll, which took the form of five bottles
extra. I was then admitted to the fraternity and presented with the
Ataman's badge, and after due ceremony with a Cossack sword, by the
regiment, admitted to their circle. I went through the sword tossing,
and gained freedom for 100 roubles; and here my narrative of the making
of a Cossack had better end. Sufficient to say I never met a
freer-hearted set of men in my travels round the world than these
dreadful guardians of the Tsars, and if in course of time I get tired of
England, I shall claim my kinship with these freemen of forest and
plain. These men so love liberty that not even the Tsars dared interfere
with their rights.




CHAPTER XXI

HOMEWARD BOUND


On May 17 Omsk was excluded from the Vatka (station), and by this
indirect means became aware that the Supreme Governor was returning from
the front. The Cossack Guard lined up outside, while detachments of
Russian infantry in English uniform occupied the platform. The Russian
Tommies looked quite smart, and except for their long, narrow,
triangular bayonets, might easily have been mistaken for English troops.
While awaiting the train, General Knox informed me that two of our
proposals, "Women's suffrage" and "Universal education," had been cut
out by the reactionaries. Why are the churches of the world so hostile
to the popular education of the people? The Church is quite prepared to
allow the people to receive educational instruction if controlled by the
priests. It prefers to leave them in ignorance and the easy prey of
Bolshevik charlatanism rather than allow free play for intelligent
thinking. Women's suffrage was opposed by quite a different set of men,
mostly those who make enormous display of deference to drawing-room
ladies, and look upon us Englishmen as wanting in gallantry because we
do not kiss every feminine hand we shake. On the whole I think it is
good to have pushed them ahead so far. Measured by Russian standards, it
amounts to a revolution in ideas of government. The great thing just now
is to fix some point beyond which the pendulum shall not be allowed to
swing towards reaction. The workmen are sick of strife and would gladly
go straight back to the old regime as an easy way of escape from
Bolshevism. This is the danger from which English diplomacy has tried,
and is trying, to guard the Russian people if possible.

Thus, having finished my work at Omsk, I asked that arrangements might
be made as quickly as possible to transport my escort and myself to
Vladivostok. The arrangements were completed by May 21, when I announced
myself ready to begin the first stage of my journey homeward. The
Supreme Governor surprised me by proposing to visit me in my carriage at
the Vatka to say "Good-bye." At 7 P.M. he came, attended by his
aide-de-camp; he was very gracious in his thanks for my services to the
Russian people. He said my voice, presence and influence had aroused the
better elements to throw off the feeling of despair which had so
universally settled upon them. He did not presume to calculate the good
I had done, though none appreciated it better than himself, since we had
been thrown by circumstances into personal contact with each other.
Without attempting to form an estimate of his character, I considered
his visit and words the act of a gentleman, and as such I appreciated
it.

I could but recall the last time he visited me in those dark, doubtful
days of November, when I, who had no thought or place in my make-up for
the word "Dictator," suddenly found myself in the presence of him who
had that moment assumed such a position, and what was more serious for
me, found myself forced on my own authority, unaided by one word of
warning or counsel from others, instantly to decide not only my own
attitude but also, to some extent, that of my country to this last act
in the drama of a people grown desperate. Once having given my promise
to help, he never found that help withheld at critical moments later.
The British forces were few, but they were disciplined and knew their
own mind, and this was what every other party, both Russian and Allied,
lacked. Every Allied force had its "Politicals" at hand, and therefore
were powerless for any purpose. The Fates had sent ours to Vladivostok,
5,000 versts east, at the very moment when their presence and general
political policy would have paralysed correct military action. The month
which intervened before they could exert direct influence upon the
situation enabled us to consolidate the new orientation. The greater
part of this time we were "in the air," having cut our own
communications, and no countermanding orders could interrupt or confuse
the nerve centre. At first the "Politicals" were inclined to be angry,
but with such a tower of strength as General Knox in support they soon
came to look upon the proceedings as a _fait accompli_. Later they
confessed that their absence at the supreme moment was the act of a wise
Providence. The very nature of their business (had they been present)
would have created delays and difficulties that might have proved fatal
to success.

Except for some quaint fetish about the necessity for maintaining the
usual diplomatic forms, there is no necessity for delay in emergencies
of this description. If an ordinarily intelligent Englishman, with a
fair knowledge of English history and a grasp of the traditions and
mentality of his countrymen, cannot carry on, how are people miles away,
with no opportunity to visualise the actual situation, to instruct him?
Diplomatic methods and forms are all right for leisurely negotiations,
but are useless in urgent and dangerous occasions. If my work fails, as
even now it may, I shall be subject to severe criticism; but I shall get
that even if it succeeds, so what does it matter so long as in my own
mind I did the best in the circumstances?

My journey east was broken at Krasnoyarsk to enable me to interview the
new commander, General Rosanoff, who had taken in hand the suppression
of the revolt of the Lettish peasants north of the railway. South of the
line all hostile elements had been dispersed. The line cut through the
centre of the Bolshevik field of operations. The Czechs guarded the
actual railway, and while they prevented large forces from moving across
it, they took but little trouble to prevent miscreants from tampering
with the rails, as was evidenced by the scores of derailed trains in all
stages of destruction strewn along the track. This naturally involved
great material loss and, what was still worse, a huge toll of innocent
human life. One train, a fast passenger, accounted for two hundred
women and children, besides uncounted men. Fairly large Russian forces
were now placed at General Rosanoff's disposal, and by a wide turning
movement from Krasnoyarsk in a north-easterly direction, and with a
large cavalry force operating towards the north-west from Irkutsk, the
whole gang would, it was hoped, be herded towards the centre, and a few
weeks would probably liquidate the whole disturbance. The Krasnoyarsk
and the Ussurie movements of the Bolsheviks were under the direction of
able officers appointed by the Red Guard Headquarters at Moscow, with
whom they were in constant communication.

Passing Irkutsk, we again struck the Baikal--looking more glorious than
before. The warm south-west winds had cleared the snow from the western
hills and thawed the ice from that half of the sea. The other half was
still ice-bound. In the morning sunshine the snow-covered mountains in
the east pierced the heavens with the radiance of eternal day. The
disappearance of the sun only adds to their beauty; they alone seem to
know no night. As we travelled round under the shadow of these giants
the temperature fell many degrees below zero, and the cold from the
water penetrated the carriages, necessitating fires and warm furs, in
spite of the June sunshine.

I had received intimation that it would be of service to the Omsk
Government if I would call upon Colonel Semianoff and use my good
offices and my newly-conferred honour as a Siberian Cossack Ataman to
recall this erring son of Muscovy to the service of the State. I knew
that British pressure had been applied to persuade the Japanese to cease
their financial and moral support--both open and secret--to this
redoubtable opponent of the Russian Government, and it was rumoured that
British wishes had at last been complied with. It was common knowledge
that the illegal floggings, murders, and robberies committed under the
alleged authority of Colonel Semianoff would not have remained
unpunished a day if he had not been under the protection of one of the
most numerously represented Allied forces. Whatever faults may be
alleged against Admiral Koltchak, cruelty or injustice cannot be
included among them. I well remember his fury when it was reported to
him that some eighty workmen had been illegally flogged by Semianoff's
soldiers at Chita. His poor dilapidated reserves were ordered to move at
once to their protection. Semianoff prepared his armoured trains and
troops to receive them, but the same Allied Power which fed, clothed,
and armed his troops kept at bay those who were ordered to avenge the
wrongs of the Russian workmen.

On another occasion I remember Admiral Koltchak's almost hopeless
despair when some truculent officers had used their weapons and badges
of rank to secure the persons of some Bolshevik prisoners, and
anticipating the decision of the court about to try them, shot them in
cold blood. He at once executed the officers and men who handed them
over, as well as such of those who took part in the conspiracy, even
though they claimed to be merely the avengers of their own murdered
families. Stern, impartial justice is part and parcel of this remarkable
man's character. It was this very trait which made Semianoff and the
Supreme Governor natural enemies.

The day that I arrived at Chita it was officially announced that
Semianoff had made his submission to the authority of Koltchak, and had
accepted an appointment in the Russian Army. My task therefore changed
its character; the proposed admonishment became a congratulation in a
very frank and friendly half-hour's interview, the colonel returning the
visit to my carriage later. Colonel Semianoff is one of the most
striking personalities I have met in Russia; a man of medium height,
with square broad shoulders, an enormous head, the size of which is
greatly enhanced by the flat, Mongol face, from which gleam two clear,
brilliant eyes that rather belong to an animal than a man. The whole
pose of the man is at first suspicious, alert, determined, like a tiger
ready to spring, to rend and tear, but in repose the change is
remarkable, and with a quiet smile upon the brown face the body relaxes.
Colonel Semianoff is a very pleasant personality. His great physical
strength has caused the Japanese to name him "Samurai," or "Brave Knight
of the Field," and I think that is a good description of his character.
Relentless and brave, kindness nevertheless finds a part in his make-up.
The princes of Mongolia have asked him to become their emperor, and
should he choose this path a whirlwind will pass over the neighbouring
lands. Perhaps underneath he is, after all, a good Russian--time will
tell. If his conversion is real he will add a tower of strength to the
Russian fighting forces.

At Harbin I heard a full explanation of the reason for the Mongolians
approaching Semianoff to become their emperor. Mongolia previous to the
Revolution was considered as under a loose sort of Russian protection.
Since the break-up of the Russian Empire the Japanese have cast longing
eyes upon this extensive country, which is supposed to belong to both
Russia and China but in reality it belongs to neither. The Japanese have
roamed all over the country during these last two years, and have spent
time and money lavishly in propaganda. They first tried to orientate the
Mongol mind towards a direct connection with themselves, but their
avarice and conceit offend all the people with whom they come into
contact. This direct method of getting control of Mongolia had therefore
to be abandoned in favour of a round-about but more dangerous policy.
Colonel Semianoff is only half Russian, his mother being a Mongolian
woman of high birth. He speaks Mongolian perfectly, and the Mongolians
claim him for their own. Semianoff admitted to me personally that he had
been subsidised all through by Japan. It was the Japanese who called the
Mongolian princes together and prevailed upon them to offer Semianoff
the title of Emperor of Mongolia. He had other fish to fry, however, but
when his other schemes fail, as I think they must, he will be quite
ready to play the Japanese game in Mongolia as faithfully as he did in
Siberia. Semianoff will be the puppet, but Japan will pull the strings;
that at least is their hope and belief.

About thirty versts west of Manchuli our train was stopped by a red
flag, and a railway workman informed us of a raid upon a homestead by
the side of the railway, the robbers having decamped two hours before
our arrival. The father had two bullets through his chest and one
through the right side of his neck, and had crawled a distance of over a
verst to give information. He was taken up on our train, and we went
forward to the scene of the tragedy. In the small wooden house, covered
with loose feathers, lay the dead body of the mother with her unborn
baby, near by lay a girl of about ten with her head terribly wounded. In
an outhouse was the body of their Chinese boy. My hospital orderly
rendered what aid was possible to the girl, who was carried by Madame
Frank to my carriage for conveyance to the hospital at Manchuli. A
civilian doctor declared both cases hopeless, and the depositions of the
man were taken. Briefly thus:

When the Bolsheviks first occupied Manchuli a railway workman of
anarchist tendencies was appointed Soviet Commissar of the district.
Afterwards, when the Bolshevik power was destroyed and their forces were
driven off the railway, the Bolshevik bands took to the forest, some
engaging in running contraband over the Chinese frontier, others forming
themselves into bands who not only robbed the isolated peasantry, but
forced young men to join them, and afterwards levied toll upon large
villages and small towns. About three in the morning this Bolshevik
Commissar knocked at the cottage door and asked the father to let him
come in, as he was very tired, having had a long journey with
contraband. Believing him to be alone, the man opened the door. The room
was immediately filled with armed men, who demanded his savings or his
life. The commissar, from his knowledge of such matters, believing his
savings to be in the feather pillow, ripped it open and found 4,600
roubles. Having collected all the other small articles of value in the
house, these innocent children of the Revolution held consultation on
the necessity of killing everybody who knew them to be Bolsheviks, so
that the crime should be cast upon the Chinese robber gangs who
occasionally raid Russian territory. This important point in the
regeneration of Russia settled, they shot the man in the chest, the
bullet coming out by the shoulder-blade. The wife, begging for the life
of her husband, was bayoneted, and the aroused Chinese workman was
dispatched with a rifle. Then these harmless idealists proceeded to
depart. So far they had not touched the girl, but the father, on
regaining consciousness, heard the closed door open again, saw the
leader of the "comrades" re-enter and pick up a small axe near the fire,
with which he proceeded to smash the head of the child. Nature in its
terrible revolt gave the father the power to raise himself slightly from
the floor in a vain effort to grapple with this representative of the
new regime. The commissar shouted: "What, still alive!" and fired two
more point-blank shots at the prostrate man.

It was entirely due to the tenacity of the father that the object of the
killing was frustrated and the identification of the scoundrels with the
Bolshevik commanders operating in this neighbourhood completed. I had
no time to pick up the trail and punish the murderers. What sort of
punishment the Tommies would have decided as necessary to fit the crime
is better imagined than described!

It was June when we passed over the Hinghan range, a series of sand
mountains of great extent which form the breeding-ground for numerous
herds of horses who spread themselves over the slopes and plains and
sometimes endanger the safety of the railway. Snow was falling in
clouds, and banked itself against the rails and telegraphs in a
surprising manner considering the time of the year. The summer of this
wild region lasts about two months--July and August--during which time
the sand becomes hot, and travelling is not comfortable. After crossing
the summit the plains fell gradually away, enabling the trains to move
with great rapidity, and in less than two days we struck Harbin, and
donned our topees and tropical clothes.

Harbin is the centre of Chinese and Russian political and financial
intrigue. Other races take a fair hand in the business, but the
predominance must be conceded to these two. There is some sort of
national feeling amongst the worst type of Russian speculator, but none
amongst the Chinese. The Harbin Chinaman is perfectly denationalised,
and ought, therefore, according to some standards of political
reckonings, to be the most ideal citizen in the world; but the world who
knows him hopes that for ever he may be exclusively confined to Harbin.
I had a long conversation with General Ghondati, one of the most
level-headed living statesmen of the old regime. All his hopes are
centred on the success of Admiral Koltchak in his efforts to secure
order to enable the National Assembly to consider the question of a
Constitutional Monarchy on England's pattern to be established at
Moscow. If this cannot be, he fears Russia's travail will last longer
and may be fatal to her existence. He was not himself opposed to a
Federal Republic, but was certain that without a head the undisciplined
semi-oriental elements would never accept the abolition of absolutism as
final. The Russian people have it in their bones to obey a leader; their
warlike nature precludes the possibility of their continued loyalty to a
junta, however able. A crown on top, with a parliament to control and
direct, would be the happiest solution of Russia's present difficulties.
He summed his theory up in these words: "A properly elected parliament
to make the law and rule, but there must be a monarch to issue its
orders."

Though this is the expressed opinion of what the Bolshevik would term
one of the "old regime," it is nevertheless the openly-expressed opinion
of the sensible leaders of every class of Russian society except
two--the Bolsheviks at one end, and the Absolutists at the other. More
than once already these two extremes have come close together to
frustrate the possibility of a compromise on constitutional lines. They
openly declare that, unless power is given to either one or the other,
they would prefer that the present anarchy should continue. It is not
the first time in revolutionary history that the adherents of autocracy
(Royalist and otherwise) have preferred the ruin of their country rather
than lose their own personal power.

Ghondati is a clear-headed patriot, and I am surprised that his counsel
has not been sought for in this supreme moment of his country's history.
His ideas relating to recognition by the Powers were rather remarkable.
He did not think that any country could give help to Russia without
either asking for conditions or being suspected of doing so. The only
exception was England. The reason England is not suspected is that her
Empire is so vast and varied in character that she has all the raw
material for her trade and all the space she requires for her surplus
population. Her help, unlike that of any other State so far, has been
unselfish and unconditional. Ghondati quite saw that "this fact was
producing a steady and permanent orientation of Russian opinion towards
England, which, if cultivated by British statesmanship, would eventually
give my country everything she required, while those whose help was
always surrounded with conditions would have great difficulty to retain
the advantages they secured only under the pressure of circumstances."




CHAPTER XXII

AMERICAN POLICY AND ITS RESULTS


At Nikolsk my train was stopped as the No. 4 Post train from Vladivostok
had been wrecked by Bolsheviks, a startling situation considering that
eleven months previously the whole power of Bolshevism had been
destroyed in these maritime provinces. The station commandant was an old
friend, who had given me his own private official carriage at the time
when our little yellow brother had decided to lower the prestige of his
white Ally in Eastern eyes by making British officers travel in
cattle-trucks. He came into my car and began to explain how the
cross-purposes of the American and Japanese forces were producing a
state of uncertainty and disorder as bad, if not worse, than existed
under the Bolshevik regime. Our conversation was cut short by the
receipt of a telegram from the station-master at Kraevesk. It was to the
effect that he was using his own line from his house, because a few
minutes previously a detachment of the Red Guard had entered the station
and, in the presence of the American soldiers who were guarding the
railway, had placed himself and his staff under arrest and taken
possession of the station; that the Reds had sent a message to Shmakovka
ordering all Russian railway officials and staff to leave their posts,
as the Bolshevik army, with the sanction of the American forces, was
about to take over the line. The Red Guard officer in proof of his order
stated "that fifteen American soldiers are now standing in the room from
which I am sending this message." Having issued these orders in the
presence of the Americans, they had removed the telegraph and telephone
apparatus, and the station-master wished to know what he was to do and
whether any help could be sent him. Imagine my utter astonishment at
this message, containing, as it undoubtedly did, evidence of
co-operation and understanding between the Bolshevik forces and one of
our Allies.

In one of my numerous interviews with Admiral Koltchak at Omsk he had
made some very serious statements regarding the American policy in the
Far East, which he feared would result in reproducing the previous state
of disorder. I assured him that the policy of the Allies was to resist
disorder and support order, and that I could not believe America had
come to Siberia to make his task more difficult, but to help him in
every reasonable way. He agreed that such was the intention of the
American people, but he feared that the American command was being used
for quite other purposes. His officers had informed him that out of
sixty liaison officers and translators with American Headquarters over
fifty were Russian Jews or the relatives of Russian Jews; some had been
exiled from Russia for political and other offences, and had returned as
American citizens, capable of influencing American policy in a direction
contrary to that desired by the American people. I assured him that
this could not be, and that his people might themselves in this matter
be under the influence of a near Eastern neighbour not friendly to
American interference in Eastern affairs, and that under this influence
they might greatly magnify the danger. My words seemed to ease the
admiral's mind, but he regretfully replied that the reports were so
voluminous and categorical in character that he thought I, as a
representative of the people of England, as well as an officer of His
Majesty's Army, ought to be made acquainted with the situation.

This matter had almost disappeared from my mind, but the message from
the station-master at Kraevesk revived it with the vividness of a sudden
blow. I at once determined to make myself acquainted as far as possible
with the policy of the American commanders, and with this object in view
I interviewed many American officers and soldiers. I found that both
officers and men were most anxious to render all the help possible to
maintain Koltchak's authority and crush disorder in the Far East, and,
as they put it, "justify their presence in Siberia." Many felt that at
the time they were only helping the Bolsheviks to recover their lost
hold upon the people by providing neutral territory for Bolshevik
propaganda; that when they arrived in the country in August, 1918, the
English, Czechs, and Japanese, with the aid of such Russian units as
then existed, had reduced the maritime provinces to order, but that
their own efforts had produced a state of affairs similar to, if not
worse than, those which existed during the actual Bolshevik occupation.
I learnt from these American troops that their officers and officials,
from General Graves downwards, had been in actual correspondence with
Red Guard officers, and that more than one understanding had been
arrived at between them; that for a time the ordinary American soldiers
thought the understanding between the two forces was so general and
friendly in character that no further hostile acts were to be
contemplated between them. It was true that this wrecking of trains and
attacks on the line guarded by American soldiers made things look
serious, but they felt sure that the confidence existing between the
American and Red Guard Headquarters was so well established that these
acts of brigandage could only be due to some misunderstanding. The
Kraevesk affair appeared to be only a symptom of a much wider policy,
and not the foolish act of a negligent subordinate officer.

Following up my inquiries there fell into my hands a letter, dated May
24, from the American officer (Captain ----) commanding the American
forces at Svagena, addressed to the officer commanding the Red Guard
operating in that district. The American officer addressed the Red Guard
commandant as a recognised officer of equal military standing. The
American officer complained that after a recent fraternisation of the
two forces which had taken place in accordance with previous
arrangements near the "wood mill," on the departure of the Red troops he
received reports that the Red Guard officer had ordered the destruction
of certain machinery at the mill, and had also torn up two sections of
the line at points east and west of the station at Svagena. The American
captain enumerated other accusations against the Red Guard, such as
threats to bayonet certain orderly disposed people who would not join
the Bolshevik army, and warned the Red Commissar that these acts were
contrary to the _agreement_ entered into by the chiefs of the American
and Red forces, and if such acts were repeated he would take steps to
punish those who committed such breaches of _their joint understanding_.

I think this letter from the American officer at Svagena is positive
proof of some local or general understanding between the American
authorities and the Red army operating in the maritime provinces, and
further, that this understanding had existed for many months; that it
was this understanding which prevented the American forces joining in
the combined Allied expedition to relieve the besieged Russian garrison
in the Suchan district; that under this American-Bolshevik agreement the
small scattered Red Guard bands who were dispersed by the Allies at the
battle of Dukoveskoie in August, have collected together and formed
definite military units. In other words, that the American policy,
unconsciously or otherwise, has produced a state of indecision amongst
the Allies, and unrest and anarchy amongst the population of the
Transbaikal and Ussurie Provinces, which may prove disastrous to the
rapid establishment of order in Russia.

There are other indications that the presence of the American forces in
Siberia has been used by somebody for purposes not purely American. The
business of the American command is to secure order in those districts
which have been placed under its control by the Council of Allied
Commanders. There is another self-evident and obvious duty, namely, to
shape their conduct in such manner as to create friendly relations with
such elements of Russian authority and order as are gradually appearing
here and there, under the influence of the Supreme Governor, and also
provide as little space and opportunity as possible for the collection
and reorganisation of the elements of disorder. The policy of the
American command, quite unintentionally perhaps, has been quite the
reverse. Their policy has resulted in turning every Russian authority
against them, or, where this has not happened, they have themselves
turned against Russian authority. They have prepared plans and created
opportunities for the reorganisation of the forces of disorder which, if
it does not actually create a serious situation for themselves, will do
so for those Allies who are trying to bring order out of chaos. The
reduction of the whole country to order, to enable it to decide its own
future form of Government, is as much an American as a British object.
That some sinister underground influence has deflected American policy
from this straight and honest course is quite obvious.

Contrary to general Allied opinion, the American command declared a
neutral zone in the Suchan district. Armed operations by Russian, i.e.
Admiral Koltchak's or Red Guard forces, were prohibited within this
zone. Lenin and Trotsky's officers jumped at this order and at once
began to collect their scattered forces together. Within three weeks
they raised their Bolshevik flag on their own headquarters, under the
protection of the flag of the United States. From this neutral American
zone the Bolsheviks organised their forces for attacking the Japanese on
the Amur, for destroying British and other supply trains on the Ussurie
Railway, and finally exchanged shots with the Russian sentries near
Vladivostok itself, always bolting back to the American zone when
attacked by the forces of the Supreme Governor.

The other Allies and the Russians having got the measure of this neutral
zone business, naturally took steps to protect their men and property,
and for a time the operations of this very energetic Lenin officer were
confined to robbing and destroying a few isolated villages in the
maritime provinces; but the utter absurdity of American policy was at
last brought home to the Americans themselves. The Red Guard commandant,
chafing under the restrictions imposed upon him by the Russian and
Japanese forces (in which the British also joined when Captain Edwards
could get near with his good ship _Kent_), decided to attack the
unsuspecting Americans themselves. The Red Guard were very clever in
their operations. The American troops were guarding the
Vladivostok-Suchan Railway; the neutral zone was situated at the extreme
end of the line. If the Red Guard had attacked the end near the zone
their tactics would have been discovered at once. They therefore usually
marched out from the American zone, made a detour through villages and
forest, and struck the railway at a point as far distant as possible.
Destroying a bit of line--perhaps, if they had good luck, burning a
bridge--they usually exchanged a few shots with the American troops, and
if pressed, marched back to the zone under the protection of a section
of the very forces they had been raiding. The American command naturally
became more vigilant on the distant sections of the line, and this
forced the Bolsheviks to operate nearer and nearer the protected zone;
but in the meantime they managed to kill several Russian soldiers, wound
a few Americans, and destroy five different sections of the railway.
Then they operated too near the zone, and the American troops pressed
them straight into their own zone, where, to add insult to injury, they
claimed that in accordance with the American proclamation they could not
be molested as military operations were prohibited within the zone!

Instead of proceeding to root out this nest of pirates, someone
suggested that a more comprehensive and binding arrangement was
necessary between the American and Red Guard forces, to prevent such
regrettable occurrences in future. It was common talk that a conference
between the Red Guard commander and General Graves, the American G.O.C.,
was actually arranged, but was dropped when the Supreme Governor's
representative in the Far East declared to General Graves personally
that his proposed conference with the enemies of the Russian Government
would be considered as a hostile act. The breaking off of these
negotiations caused great annoyance to the Soviet Government at Moscow,
and they ordered their commissars in Ussurie to use the forces which had
been organised under American protection to attack their protectors,
which they at once proceeded to do. This doubtless altered the
relationship of these two parties, though the chances are that the
powerful influence which forced the American commanders into this
ill-fated policy will be powerful enough to prevent an open American
declaration against the Reds in the Far East.

It is well at this stage to estimate the effect this American muddle has
had, and will continue to exert, upon the effort of the Allies to secure
some sort of order in the Russian Empire, and upon the position of the
Americans themselves in their future relations with the Russian people.
The American troops were spread over the whole province from Vladivostok
to Nevsniudinsk, a point just east of the Sea of Baikal. They were
almost entirely confined to the railway, but in this country the railway
is the centre and heart of all things. American policy at Vladivostok
applied to the whole of this area, which is really the Transbaikal
provinces, or all Siberia east of Baikal. In the early days of
September, 1918, when I passed with my battalion towards Omsk, this
immense area had been reduced to order by the efforts of the Allies, at
the head of which I place the gallant Czechs. The American forces
arrived too late to take part in the military operations, but began to
settle down to the work of administration with energy and ability. The
French moved forward after myself, and the Italian unit followed later,
leaving the American and Japanese, with such isolated local Russian
forces as had called themselves into being, in absolute possession of
Transbaikal Siberia. There was not a single band of Red Guards one
thousand strong in the whole territory. After nine months of Allied
occupation the Reds organised, largely under American protection, two
divisions (so called) of from 5,000 to 7,000 men, and numerous
subsidiary units of a few hundred, who murdered and robbed in every
direction, and destroyed every semblance of order which the Supreme
Governor and the Allies had with so much labour attempted to set up.
Thus this huge province in a short time descended from comparative order
to sporadic disorder, simply because America had no Russian policy of
her own, and rejected that of her friends.

It was a major mistake of England and France to leave America and Japan
cheek by jowl without a moderating influence, to wreck the good work
they had accomplished in the Far East. The rivalries of these two Powers
in this part of the world were well known and should have been provided
for. It was too much to expect that they would forget their concession
and trade rivalries in a disinterested effort to help Russia. States are
not usually philanthropic organisations, these two least of all. The
work has therefore to be largely done over again, either by us or by the
Supreme Governor, Admiral Koltchak. Or the Allies, finding the task too
great, may retire and allow this huge province, probably the wealthiest
part of the world, to recede back to the barbarism of the Bolshevik.




CHAPTER XXIII

JAPANESE POLICY AND ITS RESULTS


The lack of Allied cohesion produced by the defection of American policy
from that of the European Powers may change completely the status and
future of American enterprise in Siberia. America has transformed a
friendly population into at least a suspicious, if not a hostile, one.
Japan, on the other hand, has steadily pursued her special interests and
taken full advantage of every American mistake, until she is now looked
upon as the more important of the two.

The attitude of Japan to the Russian problem made a complete somersault
in the course of the year August, 1918, to August, 1919. When Japan sent
her 12th Division, under General Oie, to the Ussurie in 1918, she did so
with a definite policy. Her ambitions were entirely territorial in
character; they doubtless remain so. The line of her advance has,
however, completely changed. In 1918 she had made up her mind that
Germany was bound to win the war; that Russia was a conquered country;
that any day she might be called upon to repudiate her English alliance
and her Entente engagements, and assist Germany and her Bolshevik Allies
in driving the Entente Powers from the eastern end of the Tsar's
dominions. Provided Germany defeated the Allies on the Western front,
as she confidently anticipated, this task was well within her power. So
insignificant was the task assigned to her in this eventuality that she
confidently expected the immediate surrender of such scattered Allied
and American forces as would find themselves marooned in this back end
of the world. Believing this to be the position, she acted accordingly,
treating the Russians and the other Allied forces in the stupidly
arrogant manner I have already described. With the _naivete_ of a young
Eastern prodigy she not only made demands upon her Allies, but at the
same time made definite proposals to such Russian authorities as
retained a precarious control over the territory she had already
assigned to herself. On landing her troops at Vladivostok she presented,
through her proper diplomatic agents, to the commander of that province
a set of proposals which would have placed her in control of the Russian
maritime provinces. The Russian commander asked that these demands
should be put in writing, and the Japanese agent, after some demur,
agreed, on the understanding that the first demands should not be
considered as final but only as an instalment of others to come. The
first proposal was that Japan should advance the commander 150,000,000
roubles (old value) and the commander should sign an agreement giving
Japan possession of the foreshore and fishing rights up to Kamchatka, a
perpetual lease of the Engilsky mines, and the whole of the iron (less
that belonging to the Allies) to be found in Vladivostok.

The Town Commander appears to have been quite honest about the
business, for in correspondence he pointed out that he was not the
Government of Russia, neither could he sign the property or rights of
Russia away in the manner suggested. The Japanese reply was simple and
to the point: "Take our money and sign the agreement, and we will take
the risks about the validity." The old Directorate, with Avkzentieff,
Bolderoff & Co. standing sponsors for the Russian Convention, were
supposed to control Russian affairs at this time. Directly the
commandant refused to agree to the Japanese demands they transferred
their claims to the old Directorate. The Directorate sent Evanoff Renoff
to "Vlady" to conduct the negotiations, and I suppose to collect the
money. When I was at "Vlady," in June, 1919, huge stores of iron were
being collected, and some of it had already been shipped to Japan.
Avkzentieff was exiled and Bolderoff was living in comfort and safety in
Japan. These were the things that were above and could be seen; what
happened to the other part of the first instalment of Japanese proposals
for "helping" Russia will doubtless be known later.

At the end of August, 1918, it was decided that until some sort of
central authority to act as the organ of Government was set up, it was
futile to hope for the return of orderly government. For this purpose
the British went forward to Omsk and asked the Japanese to do likewise.
The Japanese would not move, first because they wished to consolidate
their power in the provinces nearest Japan, and secondly secure as many
concessions as possible before America arrived on the scene. When
America did arrive she still tarried to watch American operations. The
British moved off into the unknown with a 5,000-mile line of unguarded
communications; the Japanese, true to type, opened negotiations with the
Directorate for the absolute possession of the railway to the Urals, and
also asked what concessions she could expect to receive, territorial and
mineral, as compensation for the use of her army for the Directorate's
protection. A convention had just been signed, or was on the point of
signature, between the Japanese and the Directorate, placing the entire
railway under Japanese hands, when the Directorate fell. The first act
of the Supreme Governor, Admiral Koltchak, was to inform the Japanese
that the change in the Government involved a change in policy with
regard to the advance of Japanese troops and the occupation of the
railway. The Japanese protested, but the admiral stood firm.

This attitude of the Supreme Governor was a serious setback to Japanese
policy, and they became alarmed for their position in the Far East
should his authority extend in that direction; but it is not difficult
as a rule to find tools for any kind of work in Russia. Ataman Semianoff
had for some time been kept by the Japanese in reserve for such an
occasion. His forces were ranged around Chita, and his influence and
authority extended from the Manchurian border to Lake Baikal. On
receiving intimation of the change in policy from Admiral Koltchak, the
Japanese ordered Semianoff to repudiate the Supreme Governor's
authority; they gave the same instructions to Kalmakoff, who occupied a
similar position on the Ussurie Railway and so placed an effective
barrier between themselves, their Eastern concessions, and the Supreme
Governor. The Supreme Governor ordered his Staff to clear these two
mutineers off the line, but the Japanese Staff informed the Supreme
Governor that these two Russian patriots and their forces were under the
protection of Japan, and if necessary they would move the Japanese Army
forward to their succour.

The successful resistance of Semenoff and Kalmakoff to the Omsk
Government, backed up by the armed forces of one of the Allies, had a
disastrous effect upon the situation throughout Siberia. If Semianoff
and Kalmakoff could, with Allied help and encouragement, openly deride
the Omsk Government's orders, then it was clear to the uninitiated that
the Allies were hostile to the supreme Russian authority. If Semianoff
and Kalmakoff can wage successful hired resistance to orderly government
at the bidding of a foreign Power, why cannot we do so, to retain the
land and property we have stolen and prevent the proper administration
of justice for the crimes we have committed? It was intended as a
deliberate attack upon authority and an incentive to the disorderly
elements to continue the prevailing anarchy. A united, well organised
Russia is not the kind of Russia Japan wishes to see established. If
Japan is to succeed in her territorial ambitions in the Far East, Russia
must be kept in a state of mental disorder and physical paralysis.
Germany used the Russian love of conspiracy and intrigue to create
disorder and destroy the Muscovite power; Japan intends, if possible,
to continue that disorder for her own political reasons.

Directly it became known that Semianoff and Kalmakoff had set the Omsk
Government at defiance, numerous other would-be Semenoffs came on the
scene until the very residence of the Supreme Governor and his
Headquarters Staff scarcely escaped attack, and it became necessary to
show the British Tommy on the side of order. This was the position up
till the early days of December, 1918.

Just about this time the fact that Germany was beaten began to take
shape in the Japanese military mind, and the fact was hammered home by
the terms of the Armistice. For some days the Japanese Mission at Omsk
flatly refused to believe the cables; their national pride refused to
admit that they had so far misunderstood the power of Britain and her
Allies. It was a terrible awakening to the self-styled "Lords of the
East" that all their schemes should be brought to nought, that British
and American squadrons might be expected to cruise in the Sea of Japan,
and perhaps hold the scales fair between her and her temporarily
helpless neighbour. I do not suppose it will ever come to that, but such
was her fear. From this time on, while the objects of Japan in Siberia
were still the same, she pursued them by quite different methods.

The first sign of change was that Japanese soldiers were allowed to
salute British officers and were no longer allowed to use the butts of
their rifles on inoffensive Russian citizens. Their military trains no
longer conveyed contraband goods to their compatriots who had
_acquired_ the Russian business houses in the main trading centres along
the railway. The Staff no longer commandeered the best buildings in the
towns for alleged military purposes and immediately sub-let them to
private traders. Japan at once re-robed herself with the thin veil of
Western morals and conduct which she had rapturously discarded in 1914.
While Hun methods were in the ascendancy she adopted the worst of them
as her own. She is in everything the imitator _par excellence_, and
therefore apparently could not help herself.

The British and French mildly protested against the attitude of Japan
towards Semianoff and Kalmakoff, but it was continued until the anarchy
created threatened to frustrate every Allied effort. Not until the Peace
Conference had disclosed the situation did a change in policy take
place. From this time on the conduct of Japan (both civil and military)
became absolutely correct. President Wilson brought forward his famous,
but impossible, proposal that the different Russian belligerents should
agree to an armistice and hold a conference on the Turkish "Isle of
Dogs." If patriotism is the maintenance of such rules of human conduct
and national life as will justify one man in killing another, then no
Russian patriot could meet in friendly conference those who had
destroyed and murdered their own country and people. Russia during the
previous two years had shown that there could be no compromise between
anarchy and order, or their several adherents. This was, however, the
policy of America, and as such received the blessing of every
representative, Jew or Gentile, of the U.S.A. in Siberia. Japan saw a
kink in the American armour and took full advantage of the chance to
damage U.S.A. prestige. She rallied Russian patriotism to her side by
advising that no notice be taken of this harebrained suggestion. Japan's
advice received the secret blessing of both French and English who knew
the situation, though in our case we had to admit that the British
Premier had stood sponsor for this international monstrosity. This gave
Japanese diplomacy its first clear hold upon Russian patriotism and
enabled her to appear as a true friend of orderly government.

American diplomacy in Russia had received its first great shock, but
with careful handling it was still possible to recover the lost ground.
With the utter failure of the "Isle of Dogs" policy, Russian rage
quickly subsided and a normal condition soon returned. The Allies had
received a salutary warning, and most of them took the hint, but America
continued on her debatable course. Having failed diplomatically to
effect a compromise, she tried to force her views by military means. The
neutral zone system of her commanders was the natural outcome of
President Wilson's proposal. The intention was excellent, that the
results would be disastrous was never in doubt. It forced the American
command to adopt a sort of local recognition of the Red Army within the
zone, and enabled the Japanese to appear as the sole friend of Russian
order. The Japanese were attacked by Red forces collected in these
zones, with American soldiers standing as idle spectators of some of the
most desperate affairs between Red and Allied troops. Japan was
entitled to reap the kudos such a situation brought to her side, while
America could not expect to escape the severest censure.

Profiting by the blunders of her great antagonist, Japan managed in six
months to recover all the ground she had lost while suffering under the
illusion of a great Hun victory that was to give her the Lordship of the
East. From a blustering bandit she has become a humble helper of her
poor, sick, Russian neighbour. In which role she is most dangerous time
will show. The world as a rule has little faith in sudden conversions.

This, then, was the situation in the Far East in June, 1919. As I was
leaving Vladivostok I heard that the Red forces that had been organised
in the American neutral zones had at last boldly attacked their
protectors. If this was correct, it may be the reason why Admiral
Koltchak was able to report their defeat and rout over the Chinese
border and we were back again at the point at which British and Czech
co-operation had arrived a year previously.




CHAPTER XXIV

GENERAL CONCLUSIONS


Before we decide our policy as to withdrawal or otherwise from Russia it
is necessary to know whether we have contracted any obligations to the
Russian people, and what is the nature of such obligations, if any. Are
they moral, military, or political?

Towards the end of 1914, when our army had been driven back behind the
Marne and the future of Europe and our Empire was in the balance,
frantic appeals were made by British statesmen, and even by still more
august authority, asking Russia to rush to our aid and save us from
destruction. This appeal was backed by British public and Labour
opinion, and through our Press made a profound impression upon the
Russian people. The Russian Government, regardless of their best
military advice, forced their partially mobilised legions to make a
rapid flying raid into East Prussia, which immediately reduced the
pressure upon our own armies and made the victory of the Marne possible.
Hurriedly mobilised, imperfectly equipped, not too brilliantly led,
these legions, constituting the chivalry of Russia, became the prey of
Prussia's perfect military machine. The Russian Government never dared
to tell the Russian peasant the number of Russian souls who were
mutilated by high explosives and smothered in the cold Masurian marshes
in that sublime effort to save her friends. Russia lost as many men in
saving Paris during that raid as did all the other Allies in the first
year of the war.

Russia continued to fight and mobilise until 1917, by which time she had
collected a huge army of over twelve million men. The Hohenzollern
dynasty and its military advisers came to the conclusion that it would
soon be impossible to stem this human tide by ordinary military means,
and having a complete understanding of Russian psychology through its
dynastic and administrative agents, decided to undermine the _moral_ of
the Russian people. German "Black Books" were not employed against
British leaders exclusively. We need not wonder at the rapid spread
among Russians of suspicion against their civil and military leaders
when we remember that the same sort of propaganda admittedly influenced
the administration of justice in England. The people of Russia were true
to their friends, demoralisation and decomposition began at the head,
rapidly filtering down to the lowest strata of society.

If the Allied cause was deserted, it was the desertion of a ruling
class, not of a people or its army. German treachery wormed its way in
at the top, and so destroyed a great race it never could have conquered.

Having disorganised the Russian military machine, Germany sent her
agents to continue the disorder and prevent recovery. She secured the
Brest-Litovsk Treaty, and made a levy of several hundred millions
sterling upon her bailiffs, whom she put in possession of her
neighbour's property. Lenin and Trotsky found anarchy the most effective
weapon to further the interest of their masters and protect their
Eastern flank. A peace which virtually extended German conquest to the
hinterland of Tsing-Tchau was dangerous to every civilising influence in
the Far East.

The Bolshevik treaty was not less dangerous to Europe herself, since it
brought a war-like population of one hundred and eighty millions within
the sphere of German military influence.

The British Expeditionary Force was ordered to Siberia in June, 1918, to
assist the orderly elements of Russian society to reorganise themselves
under a national Government and to resurrect and reconstruct the Russian
front. Firstly, to enable Russia to resist German aggression; secondly,
to weaken German military power on the Western front, where at that time
she was again delivering hammer-blows at the gates of Paris. This
expedition was approved by every party and patriot in Britain, and the
only criticism offered at the time was that it should have been so long
delayed. Soviet power under German and Austrian direction had released
the German and Austrian prisoners of war, armed and organised them into
formidable armies to perform the double task of maintaining their
creatures in power at Moscow and extending their domination over a
helpless friendly Allied Power.

There was every reason for treating the Dictatorship of Lenin and
Trotsky as a mere side-show of the German military party; they were, in
fact, a branch of the military problem with which the Allies were bound
to deal. Under Entente direction anti-Bolshevik Governments were
established, and were promised the unstinted help of the Allies to
recover their territory and expel the agents of the enemy who had so
foully polluted their own home. It was on this understanding that
Admiral Koltchak, by herculean efforts, hurled the German hirelings over
the Urals, and awaited near Vatka the advance of the Allies from
Archangel preparatory to a march on Petrograd. Alas! he waited for seven
long months in vain; the Allies never came! After expending his last
ounce of energy and getting so near to final victory, we failed him at
the post. Why?

The menace to our own armies in France had disappeared; there was, I
suppose, no longer an urgent necessity to re-establish the Russian
front, though the possibility of such re-establishment had kept huge
German forces practically demobilised near the Russian and Ukrainian
frontiers. Koltchak and his gallant comrade Denikin had served the
Entente purpose. Lenin and Trotsky, by wholesale intimidation and
murder, had aroused the enthusiasm of similarly disposed compatriots in
Allied countries. These compatriots were becoming noisy in the
constituencies. The establishment of order to enable the Russian people
to establish a clean democratic Government, and arise from their
nightmare of unbridled anarchy, while very desirable in itself, was not
a good party cry in any of the Western democracies. I grant all these
things; but what about honour? Has this no longer any place in the
political curriculum of the Allied Powers?

These are only some of the things it is necessary to remember before we
finally decide to desert a temporarily sick friend. If I were the ruler
of a state I should pray the gods to preserve me from half-hearted
Allies and over-cautious friends. If I wished to help a fallen state or
lend an honest hand in a great cause, whether it were to eradicate a
hideous and fatal national malady or assert a principle of right and
justice, first shield me from the palsy of Allied diplomacy! One
clear-sighted, honest helper is worth a dozen powerful aiders whose main
business is to put obstacles in each other's way.

If we were discussing the question of Allied interference before the
fact, I could give many reasons for remaining neutral; but we have to
recognise that for their own purposes they have interfered, that their
Military Missions and forces have been operating in the country for over
a year, during which time they have made commitments and given pledges
of a more or less binding character. That these commitments and pledges
are not the irresponsible acts of subordinates on the spot, but have
been made by Allied statesmen, both in and out of their several
Parliaments; and in this respect our national leaders are no exception
to the rule. Without filling my pages with quotations, readers will be
able to find and tabulate such for themselves. So categorical are the
nature of these that it is impossible to imagine them to have been made
without fully understanding their import and significance to the
orderly section of the Russian people who, on the faith of these
pledges, gave us their trust.

It cannot, therefore, be a discussion upon interference or
non-interference; _that_ has long since been disposed of by our words
and acts. It is now a question whether we shall withdraw from Russia
because we have thought fit to change our attitude to the Russian
problem. It is certain that our decision to-day upon this subject will
decide our future relations with this great people. If you desert a
friend in his hour of need, you cannot expect that he will be
particularly anxious to help you when he has thrown off his ill-health
and is in a position to give valuable help to those who gave succour in
his distress.

If our desertion turns this people from us, they will become the prey of
our recent enemies, and if that happens we can prate about the Treaty of
Paris as much as we like. The Teuton will have more than balanced the
account.



Index


Absolutists, Russian
Affinasiaff, General, headquarters of
Allies, the,
  a Russian reaction against
  policy for resurrection of Russia
All-Russian Government, the formation of
America
  and Siberia
  and the Far East
  her "neutral zone" in the Suchan district
American policy and its results
Americans
  arrive at Vladivostok
  an agreement with Bolsheviks
Anghara River
Anglo-Russian infantry brigade, formation of
Antonovka
  a critical position at
  Cossack position at
  Kalmakoff, surprised at
Antonovsky, General, intrigues of
Archangel
  an Anglo-American force at
  failure of a projected march on Petrograd from
Argunoff exiled
Armistice between Germany and Entente Powers
Armoured trains, a duel between
Avkzentieff and Chernoff
  exiled
  President of Council of Ministers

Baikal
  a titanic struggle at
  arrival at
Baikal Sea (_see_ Lake Baikal)
Barabinsk
  a meeting at
  the market at
Bath, Captain
Beloff, General, intrigues of
Berwkoff, death of
Bezovsky, Colonel, and a Cossack parade
Blizzard, gales and frost in Siberia
Bogotol, a meeting at
Bolderoff, General
  and Japanese demands
  confers with Koltchak at Petropalovsk
  in consultation  with Czech National Council in Japan
Bolsaar, Lieutenant
Bolshevik
  losses at Perm
  method of military organisation,
Bolsheviks
  an agreement with Americans
  atrocities of
  author's address to
  disguised as Russian soldiers
  recognised as legitimate belligerents
  successes of
  their conception of treachery
  train-wrecking by
  utter demoralisation of
Boulton, Quartermaster-Captain
Bowes, General
Brest-Litovsk Treaty, the
British Expeditionary Force ordered to Siberia
British Military Mission placed under arrest
Browne, Captain
Browne, Major
  inspects guards of honour at Krasnoyarsk
Buckley, Lieutenant
Budburg, von, and an alleged Allied force

Canadians
  arrive in Siberia
  insubordination among
Chernoff, President of Social Revolutionary party
Chilliyabinsk, a visit to
Chinese Eastern Railway, American control of
Chinese
  entertain British at Harbin
  friendship for the English
  frontier, State prisoners conveyed to
  robber bands of Mongolia
Chita
  an incident at
  Bolshevik "kultur" at
  Japanese at
  Royalist conspiracies at
Clark, Captain, and Dukoveskoie battle
Coleman, Sergeant, of the Durham L.I.
Cornish-Bowden, Second Lieutenant, and the political exiles
Cossacks, horsemanship of
Czech National Army, the, presentation of colours to
Czechs
  a tribute to their gunnery
  and the question of a Dictatorship
  defection of
  defensive tactics of
  frustrate a Bolshevik scheme
  mutilated by Bolsheviks

Denikin, General
  makes submission to Koltchak
Detriks, General
  reports on military situation
  visits the front
Directorate and Government, members of, arrested
Directorate of Five, the
  dissolved
Dukoveskoie
  a new line at
  battle of
Dust-storms, Siberian
Dutoff, General
  reports Bolshevik treachery

Easter at Perm
Eastman, Captain
Education, the Church and
Edwards, Captain
Ekaterinburg
  an invitation from
  meetings of railwaymen at
Eliot, Sir Charles, British High Commissioner
Elmsley, Brigadier-General
European Russia, a visit to

Frank, Colonel R. Antonivitch, author's liaison officer
  an exciting incident at Krasnoyarsk
Frank, Madame
  acts as correspondent and translator for labour missions
  commands a company in the trenches
  conveys a Bolshevik victim to hospital
Frazer, David, _Times_ correspondent
French, the, and General Knox's mission
  form a German Legion
  "prestige" of
  protect Serbian ruffians
  their influence in Omsk
French-Tonquin Battalion, the
Fugi, General, and his command

Gaida, General
  and Pepelaieff
  arrests Czech soldiers
  author's introduction to
  captures Perm
  resigns his Czech commission.
  surrender of Red Guards to
Galitzin, General Count
  and the Perm offensive
  personality of
Ganin, General, a strange order from
  and his command
  decorates Allied representatives,
  releases enemy prisoners
  the Omsk Government and
George V., King, letter to President Wilson
German-Magyar-Chinese combination, the
Germans, enterprise of
  sanguine of victory in world war
"Germans of the East"
Ghondati, General, his hopes and fears
Glashoff, a seven months' wait at
Golovaehoff, M., meets author
Gordon, Regimental Sergt.-Major
Graves, General, and the Bolsheviks

Hachinsk, author at
Hampshire Territorials arrive at Omsk
  move to Ekaterinburg, 222
Harbin, author's reception at
  political and financial intrigues in
  question of travelling accommodation at
Hazelar, a parade service at
Hepoff, General, a story of
Hinghan Range, the
Hodgson, Mr., British consul
Hong-Kong, "Die-Hards'" departure from
"Hovart's Army"

Imokentievskaya, a workmen's meeting at
Inagaki, Colonel
"Intelligenzia," the
   (_cf._ Kerensky)
International World Workers, the
Irkutsk, author opens his campaign at
  arrival at
  Bolshevik "kultur" in
  Japanese traders at
  much-needed rifles at
  welcome to Middlesex Regiment at

Japan and the maritime provinces
  her attitude to Siberians
  intervention of
  policy in the Far East
Japanese, a promise countermanded
  and "class" carriages for British officers
  and Semianoff
  and the English flag
  bugle band, a
  casualties at Dukoveskoie and Kraevesk
  changed attitude of, after the Armistice
  charge an armoured train
  propaganda in Omsk
  retire without notice
  their contempt for Russians
  their mistrust of Allies
Johnson, Lieut.-Colonel, and his command
  introduced to Koltchak

Kalmakoff, Ataman, Cossack commander
  a forced retirement
  dismisses his second in command
  Japanese orders to
Kameragh, railway troubles at
Kanaka, General, Japanese Chief of Staff
Kansk, an address to workmen at
  revolt at
Katanaev, Lieut.-Colonel, placed under arrest
_Kent_
Kerensky destroys old Russian army
Kerensky and Korniloff
  Intelligenzia party of
  Russian opinion of
Khama River, evidences of Terrorist atrocities in,
  moving ice on the
King, Lieutenant T.E., of Middlesex Regiment
Klukvinah, enemy defeat at
Knox, General, a conference with
  a decoration for
  and the railway revolt
  at Taiga
  inoculated against typhus
  Japanese insult to
  object of his mission
  patriotic speech by
  removes to Ekaterinburg
  Siberian tour of
  tribute to
Koltchak, Admiral, accepts supreme authority
  Allied felicitations to
  an unexpected conference with Bolderoff
  and an Allied appointment
  and the arrest of members of the Council
  and the Czech ceremony
  and the December revolt
  and the Omsk _coup d'etat_
  assurances on the labour problem
  author's farewell interviews with
  becomes Minister for War
  impartial justice of
  intrigues against
  on American policy in the Far East
  orders arrest of Czechs
  personality of
  receives reports of author's mission
  tenders his resignation
  tribute to
  visits Ural fronts
Korniloff, General, Kerensky's order to
Koulomsino, Bolsheviks at
Kraevesk, battle of
  startling news from
  "the station without a town,"
  visited by author
Krasilnikoff, Lieut-Colonel, placed under arrest
Krasnoyarsk, an incident at a banquet at
  an interview with Gen. Rosanoff at
  arrival at
  author's addresses at
  Bolsheviks in
  Colonel Frank wounded by Serbs at
  derelict war material at
  international intrigues at
Kunghure front, a visit to the
Kushva, evidences of Bolshevik rule in
  mineral deposits of
  the Bolshevik Commissar of
  the Watkin Works and its heroes

Lake Baikal
  an autumn sunrise on
Lebediff, Colonel (afterwards General)
  a warning to
Ledwards, Mr., British Vice-Consul at Nikolsk
Lenin
Lisvin front, a visit to the

Machinery, German _v_. English
Malley, Major, friendly relations with
  his command
Manchuli, a much-talked-of incident at
  Bolshevik atrocities at
  Japanese Division at
Manchuria, plains of
Manchurian-Chinese Eastern Railway, the
Manchurian front, conditions on the
Marca, author's Cossack attendant
Matkofsky,  General,  welcomes author at Omsk
Middlesex Regiment (25th Battalion) and battle of Dukoveskoie
  leaves Hong-Kong for Siberia
  machine-gun section of
  welcomed in Irkutsk
Mitchel
  bravery of
Moffat, Petty Officer, his Naval party surrounded,
Mongolia, plains of
  robber bands of
  Tartars of
  the Japanese and
Mongolians ask Semianoff to become their Emperor
Moorman, Lance-Corporal
Morrisy, Lieut.-Colonel, of Canadian contingent
Mosquitoes In Siberia,
Munro, Lieutenant, brings comforts for soldiers
Murray, Captain Wolfe, commands armoured trains from _Suffolk_
Muto, General, and Japanese propaganda

Nadegenska, steelworks of
Nash, Consul, as host
Navy, the, artillery assistance by
Neilson, Lieut.-Col. J.F.
Nesniodinsk, an address to workmen at
Nevanisk, before and after Bolshevik rule
Nicholas II., Tsar, abolishes vodka
  his prison
  murder of
Nikolioff, Colonel, and surrendered Bolsheviks
Nikolsk, a courteous station-master
  arrival at
  Bolshevik "kultur" at
  Japanese headquarters at
Niloy-ugol, the barracks at
Novo Nikoliosk, author at
  enemy prisoners released at

Oie, General, an urgent message from
  headquarters of
  thanks British
Olhanka, Czech and Cossack retirement from
Omsk, a _coup d'etat_ in
  a dust-storm in
  arrival at
  blizzard, gales and frost in
  Canadians arrive at
  comforts for the troops
  disappearance of British influence in
  friendships formed at
  terrible days in
  the political situation in
  revisited
Otani, General, orders to author

Paris, a bombshell from, and the effect
Paris Council, the,
  and the pressure on French front
Pastokova, Madame, author's meeting with
Pastrokoff, Mr.
  relates an incident of relief of Perm
Payne, Commodore
   a paraphrased cable from War Office
   provides artillery assistance
Peacock, Consul, and the imprisonment of an Australian
Pepelaieff, General, conference with
  meets General Gaida
  plight of his army
  the Perm offensive
Perm, a French Mission arrives at
  a meeting in railway works at
  a suggested advance on
  an incident of relief of
  Bolshevik atrocities in
  capture of
  high prices and rate of exchange at
  increased wages under Bolshevik rule
  the opposing forces at battle of
  the Orthodox Easter celebration at
Petrograd, failure of a projected march on
Petropalovsk, an eventful conference at
Pichon, Major, and the Japanese commander
  author's tribute to
  consultation with author
  his command
  informs author of Armistice terms
  thanked by author
Pickford, Brigadier, and the Canadian troops
Plisshkoff, General, and his command
Pomerensiv, Captain, a consultation with
  a present from
Poole, General
Pootenseiff, General Evan, his farewell to author
Preston, Mr., British Consul at Ekaterinburg
  evidence as to Bolshevik outrages
Prickly heat

Renault, Monsieur, French representative at Omsk
Renoff, General Evanoff
  a cipher message from
  and the Japanese demands
Roberts, Captain
Robertson, Colonel
Rogovsky, exile of
Rosanoff, General, Bolderoff's Chief of Staff
  in command at Krasnoyarsk
Royalist and Bolshevist conspiracy, a
Runovka, an entertaining duel at
  Cossack position at
  enemy success at
Russia, a political crisis in
  a reaction against European Allies in
  aim of Allied "politicals" in
  an unholy partnership in
  German treachery in
  hard lot of workmen in
  labour problem in
  murder of the Tsar
  peasantry of
  railway troubles in
  the herald of Spring in
  the puzzle of Allied help to
Russian Army, the, mutiny in
  "Bill of Rights," the
  democracy: the Soviet basis of
  Headquarters, British in possession of
  political exiles conveyed to Chinese frontier
Russians, emotionalism of
  religious instincts of
  Royalist sympathies of officers

Sand dunes of Mongolia
Savinoff, trial of
Semianoff, Colonel, agent of Japanese traders
  and the political exiles
  makes submission to Koltchak
  personality of
  repudiates Koltchak's authority
  revenue from railway carriages
Serbian soldiers, an exciting adventure with
Sheep, Mongolian
Shmakovka, Allies at
  armoured trains dispatched from
  enemy centre at
Siberia, a belated expedition to
  American policy and its results
  and the Allies
  arrival of Canadians in
  derelict corn in
  Government of
  Japanese policy and its results
  mosquitoes in
  reason for British intervention in
Siberian Cossack Regiment (2nd), parade of
Siberian Rifles, presentation of colours to
Sly, Mr., British Consul at Harbin
Social Revolutionary party, the
  a fateful proclamation by
  and the new army
Soldiers' Councils established
Soviets and Russian democracy
Spascoe, author's headquarters at
  British quarters at
Stephan, Captain (now Major)
  Czech commander
  his services to Allies
Stephani, Captain
Stephanik, General, the Legion of Honour for
Suchan district, a neutral zone in
_Suffolk_
Sukin, M.
Sungary, River
Surovey, General
  releases Czech prisoners
Svagena, an American-Bolshevik agreement at
  arrival at
  Czech retirement on
  Japanese at

Taiga, a successful meeting at
Taighill, Bolshevik destruction at
Tartar herdsmen, Mongolian
Terrorists (_see_ Bolsheviks)
Teutonic penetration and Bolshevism
Titoff, trial of
Tomsk, the Siberian Districts Duma
Trotsky
Tumen, author addresses workmen at
Typhus in European Russia

Ufa Directorate, the
United States (_see_ America)
Ural front, question of supplies for
Urals, the, mineral wealth of
Uspenkie
Ussurie front, critical conditions on
Ussurie operations, completion of

Vackneah Turansky Works, the
Vatka
Ventris, Major-General F.
Verzbitsky, General
  and the battle of Perm
Vladimir
Vladivostok, Americans arrive at
  arrival of Canadians at
  author's arrival at
  Japanese arrival at
  Japanese demands to Town Commander of
  iron shipped to Japan
Volagodsky, President of Siberian Council
Volkov, Colonel, placed under arrest

Ward, Colonel John, a Bolshevik
  surrender and an object-lesson
  a guard of soldier "monks"
  addresses surrendered Red Guards
  an interview with Major Pichon
  an urgent message from Japanese commander
  and December Royalist and Bolshevist conspiracy
  and the Kraevesk affair
  and the Omsk _coup d'etat_
  appeals to working men and women at Irkutsk
  arrives at Vladivostok
  as administrator
  at banquet in honour of All-Russian Government
  at Irkutsk
  attends Allied commanders' council
  attends an Orthodox Easter celebration
  created a C.B.
  entrains for Ussurie front
  exciting experiences at Krasnoyarsk
  experiences of the "hidden hand"
  farewell interviews with Koltchak
  homeward bound
  in European Russia
  inquires into railwaymen's grievances
  leaves Hong-Kong for Siberia
  made an Ataman
  official reports on Omsk situation
  officialdom--and a proposed attack
  on the labour problem in Russia
  ordered to Omsk
  receives the Croix de Guerre
  reports result of his mission
  requests removal of his headquarters
  revisits Omsk
  speech at Svagena
  straight talk with a Japanese officer
  the Manchuli incident and an explanation
  visits a Tartar herdsman's abode
  visits Ural fronts
  witnesses a duel between armoured trains
Webb, Sergeant, death of
Wilson, President, his impossible proposal
  King George's letter to
Wolves, Mongolian
Women's suffrage, question of

Zema, a stop at, and the cause
  a successful meeting at
  houses searched and arms seized
Zenzinoff and Chernoff
  exiled
Zochinko, General



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