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Title: With the "Die-Hards" in Siberia
Author: John Ward
Release Date: February 6, 2004 [eBook #10972]
With the "Die-Hards" in Siberia
By Col. John Ward
C.B., C.M.G., M.P.
CHAPTER 1. — FROM HONG-KONG TO SIBERIA
CHAPTER 2. — BOLSHEVIK SUCCESSES
CHAPTER 3. — JAPAN INTERVENES
CHAPTER 4. — THE BATTLE OF DUKOVESKOIE AND KRAEVESK
CHAPTER 5. — JAPANESE METHODS AND ALLIED FAR-EASTERN POLICY
CHAPTER 6. — ADMINISTRATION
CHAPTER 7. — FURTHER INCIDENTS OF OUR JOURNEY
CHAPTER 8. — BEYOND THE BAIKAL
CHAPTER 9. — OMSK
CHAPTER 10. — ALONG THE URALS
CHAPTER 11. — WHAT HAPPENED AT OMSK
CHAPTER 12. — THE CAPTURE OF PERM: THE CZECHS RETIRE FROM THE FIGHTING
CHAPTER 13. — THE DECEMBER ROYALIST AND BOLSHEVIST CONSPIRACY
CHAPTER 14. — A BOMBSHELL FROM PARIS AND THE EFFECT
CHAPTER 15. — MORE INTRIGUES
CHAPTER 16. — RUSSIAN LABOUR
CHAPTER 17. — MY CAMPAIGN
CHAPTER 18. — OMSK RE-VISITED
CHAPTER 19. — IN EUROPEAN RUSSIA
CHAPTER 20. — MAKING AN ATAMAN
CHAPTER 21. — HOMEWARD BOUND
CHAPTER 22. — AMERICAN POLICY AND ITS RESULTS
CHAPTER 23. — JAPANESE POLICY AND ITS RESULTS
CHAPTER 24. — GENERAL CONCLUSIONS
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.
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