U.S. Intervention in Siberia and Northern Russia 1918-1920: The Polar Bear Expedition, Naval Forces in Archangel and Murmansk, Logistics, Siberia Expedition, an Early Operation Other than War
This is a compilation of four excellent reports about the American intervention in Siberia and Northern Russia at the end of World War One. The four reports: U.S. Naval Forces in Northern Russia (Archangel and Murmansk), 1918-1919, Logistics in Reverse: U.S. Intervention in Siberia, The Polar Bear Expedition: The U.S. Intervention in Northern Russia, and The Siberia Expedition 1918-1920. More
This is a compilation of four excellent reports about the American intervention in Siberia and Northern Russia at the end of World War One. The four reports: U.S. Naval Forces in Northern Russia (Archangel and Murmansk), 1918-1919, Logistics in Reverse: The U.S. Intervention in Siberia, 1918-1920, The Polar Bear Expedition: The U.S. Intervention in Northern Russia, 1918-1919, and
The Siberia Expedition 1918-1920: An Early "Operation Other Than War".
When the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia during November, 1917 they immediately ceased hostilities with the Germans. The potential impact on the Allies was catastrophic. German Eastern Front forces combined with 1.6 million repatriated POW's could be returned to fight on the Western Front. The European Allies quickly demanded that American and Japanese troops be sent to reopen the Eastern Front, launching what would evolve into an early "operation other than war" for American forces. Against the strong opposition of the War Department, President Wilson committed 9000 American troops with a set of strategic goals rendered quickly obsolete by the armistice. Major General William S. Graves, commander of the expedition, underwent 20 months of turmoil translating Wilson's policy into attainable military objectives for the operation, against strong opposition from the other Allies and even the U.S. State Department. At the end of this unpopular operation, Graves' thought he had failed. Yet when the positive outcomes are weighed and the expedition is analyzed by modern standards for this type of operation, Graves achieved remarkable success and deserves a better reputation than what was his fate. Graves struck a balance between operational imperatives and political requirements not often achieved in the potentially disastrous circumstances of conflicting strategic goals.
The outbreak of war between Russia and Germany in August 1914 had important effects upon North Russia. The closing of the Baltic ports of Russia and of the exit from the Black Sea through Turkey's joining the Central Power left her only the remote ports on the Arctic Ocean through which to secure military supplies and equipment from her Allies in western Europe, aside from the still more remote port of Vladivostok in Siberia. It became necessary therefore for Russia to develop the northern region to the greatest extent possible and with the greatest possible speed. The only port of any size in Northern Russia in 1914 was Archangel, an imposing and well-built city located on elevated ground on the eastern bank of the North Dvina River where it branches into a number of streams, thirty-three miles from the White Sea. Founded in 1553, when an English trading factory was built there, Archangel had been Russia's only outlet to the sea for many years, but after the building of Petrograd by Peter the Great in 1702 it declined in importance although it continued to be visited by ships from England and the Netherlands. Far from peace time shipping routes, Archangel was 720 miles distant from Moscow and 760 miles from Petrograd. It was connected by river, canal, and rail with the south. In ordinary times it exported lumber, tar, flax, linseeds, and skins. To increase the capacity of the railroad, the terminus of which was at Bakaritza on the west bank of the North Dvina opposite Archangel, it was converted from a single to a double track line in 1916. A temporary railroad was built by the Russians to the port of Economia constructed by the British sixteen miles down the river from Archangel in order to provide a place with a longer open season; this could be reached by ice breakers until the middle of January. The population of Archangel which in 1915 numbered 40,000, increased several fold and the imports many fold during the early years of the war.
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