The Russian Civil War - Whites vs Reds


Book Reviewer
For anyone trying to get a mental grip on Russian history since 1917 - Antony Beevor's latest book might give an overview:

Torygraph review here :Antony Beevor’s Russia is a masterpiece of history – and a harrowing lesson for today


The soldiers were of all kinds: former officers, volunteers, Cossacks defending their territories, peasants ruined by Bolshevik raids, and, increasingly, captured “Red” troops who would serve in order to be clothed and fed. Thanks to the massive transfers of prisoners from the Austro-Hungarian front in previous years, there were also huge numbers of Czechs and Poles. And there were many other nationalities, including Chinese railway workers, who fought on both sides. The Allied powers (Britain, France, the US, Japan) were also involved.

They had shipped thousands of tons of war material to Russia before the Bolshevik government pulled out of the war against Germany, and they did not want it to fall into Communist hands. Japan was keen to extend its influence from Vladivostok into the East Asian mainland; at one point it had more than 85,000 soldiers in Siberia. One British force advanced more than 500 miles inland from the Arctic port of Archangel; a smaller force flew the White Ensign on the Caspian Sea. (Winston Churchill was gung-ho for more military support for the anti-Communists, but Lloyd George’s scepticism prevailed.)

To add to all this, there was also a crescent of bordering states to the west, whose people had lived under Russian imperial rule and were prepared to fight to avoid coming under it again: Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. (To some extent, Ukraine could also be added to this list, though its political history in this period is one of the messiest parts of the whole story.) At different times, these countries were in conflict with Communist Russia; but there was never any real co-ordination with White commanders much further to the east.

The current conflict is by no means the first time Moscow has sent troops into Ukraine.

Source - Russian Civil War | Casualties, Causes, Combatants, & Outcome

At the beginning of 1919 Red Army forces invaded Ukraine. The remnants of the forces of the Socialist Revolutionaries, headed by Symon Petlyura, retreated westward, where they joined forces with Ukrainian nationalist forces from formerly Austrian Galicia. For the next months the mixed forces held parts of Ukraine; other areas were in the hands of anarchist bands led by Nestor Makhno; and the main cities were held by the Communists, ruling not directly from Moscow but through a puppet Ukrainian “government” in Kharkov (now Kharkiv).

The defeat of Germany had also opened the Black Sea to the Allies, and in mid-December 1918 some mixed forces under French command were landed at Odessa and Sevastopol, and in the next months at Kherson and Nikolayev.

( now Mykolaiv, currently being fought over Battle of Mykolaiv - Wikipedia )
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There's an absolutely massive file at Kew which gives after action reports for every tiny skirmish on upwards for the British armoured car squadron.


Speaking of memoirs, this, if you can find a copy that's less ludicrously expensive, is absolutely fascinating on the Arkhangelsk mission and how close it came to actually doing some good.


Hard Rations

Had an uncle who was there in 1918-19 with one of the Expeditionary Forces. He wasn't much impressed with the Whites. Mind he was just another Gnr. doing his thing. Still was interesting to hear of his experiences.

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