Churchill's Secret War With Lenin: British and Commonwealth Military Intervention in the Russian Civil War, 1918-20

October 31, 2020
Churchill's Secret War With Lenin: British and Commonwealth Military Intervention in the Russian Civil War, 1918-20

After three years of great loss and suffering on the EasternFront, Imperial Russia was in crisis and on the verge ofrevolution. In November 1917, Lenin's Bolsheviks (later known as'Soviets') seized power, signed a peace treaty with the CentralPowers and brutally murdered Tsar Nicholas (British King George'sfirst cousin) and his children so there could be no return to theold order. As Russia fractured into loyalist 'White' andrevolutionary 'Red' factions, the British government becameincreasingly drawn into the escalating Russian Civil War afterhundreds of thousands of German troops transferred from the EasternFront to France were used in the 1918 'Spring Offensive' whichthreatened Paris. What began with the landing of a small number ofRoyal Marines at Murmansk in March 1918 to protect Allied-donatedwar stores quickly escalated with the British government activelypursuing an undeclared war against the Bolsheviks on a number offronts in support of British trained and equipped 'White Russian'Allies. At the height of British military intervention in mid-1919,British troops were fighting the Soviets far into the Russianinterior in the Baltic, North Russia, Siberia, Caspian and Crimeasimultaneously. The full range of weapons in the British arsenalwere deployed including the most modern aircraft, tanks and evenpoison gas. British forces were also drawn into peripheralconflicts against 'White' Finnish troops in North Russia and theGerman 'Iron Division' in the Baltic. It remains a little knownfact that the last British troops killed by the German Army in theFirst World War were killed in the Baltic in late 1919, nor thatthe last Canadian and Australian soldiers to die in the First WorldWar suffered their fate in North Russia in 1919 many months afterthe Armistice. Despite the award of five Victoria Crosses(including one posthumous) and the loss of hundreds of British andCommonwealth soldiers, sailors and airmen, most of whom remainburied in Russia, the campaign remains virtually unknown in Britaintoday. After withdrawal of all British forces in mid-1920, theBritish government attempted to cover up its military involvementin Russia by classifying all official documents. By the time filesrelating to the campaign were quietly released decades later therewas little public interest. Few people in Britain today know thattheir nation ever fought a war against the Soviet Union. Theculmination of more than 15 years of painstaking and exhaustiveresearch with access to many previously classified officialdocuments, unpublished diaries, manuscripts and personal accounts,author Damien Wright has written the first comprehensive campaignhistory of British and Commonwealth military intervention in theRussian Civil War 1918-20.