Guide The Allied Intervention in Russia, 1918–1920: The Diplomacy of Chaos

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Rather than diminishing, HBC found its operations into Archangel port expanding during the war.

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The HBC had become also the French government's agent for supplies and shipping of timber, wheat, coal, iron, and steel; on 9 October the Company had signed the first of many agreements with the French government, "becoming responsible for arranging credit for all French purchases and for organizing the shipping of supplies to French ports. The alleged protecting of supplies propaganda. The Company's total shipping, using the newly formed Bay Steamship Company, totaled some , tons deadweight, and although "more than two-fifths of this tonnage was sunk by enemy submarines, no less than voyages" had been made.

The Bay Steamship Company had also chartered an additional number of vessels, so that "at one period the tonnage under the Company's management amounted to over 1,, tons deadweight. The terrific expansion of the Company's interests, enhanced by the French contracts, had resulted in the creation of a "network of agencies at the ports of discharge in France, and in the ports of shipment throughout the world.

By the Company was also shipping into Russia all kinds of war materiel. Including heavy guns, munitions and locomotives, "and supplying at the request of the Russian government the purchase and delivery of harbour equipment and anti-submarine craft. Sale, who established a base in the Company's London office, proceeded to use the Company's "network of agencies around the world" to sign about " contracts with French government agencies" and with the Belgian, Rumanian and Russian governments. The contracts used several hundred vessels not necessarily owned by the HBC, but contracted to it ; by the end of the war, the Company had "transported over thirteen million tons of cargo, including munitions, textiles, and foodstuffs" into and out of the war-affected regions, including Archangel.

He repeated the Governmental position that the "Ports of Archangel and Murmansk have throughout the War been used as the gateway into Russia, through which the Allies were able to provide the munitions upon which the Russian forces subsisted. But, he added, at "the time of the Brest Litovsk Treaty But taking his assertion as fact, he went further.

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Some of this material fell as was intended by the Bolsheviks into German hands while the arms and munitions have been used against our own and Allied troops. Milner knew better. German agents certainly had appeared, but the valuable stores to which he referred had not "lain untouched for months" - the HBC had been shuttling the goods in and out on a regular basis for the preceding three years.

Yet Milner's position in support of the commercial foundation for Intervention depended on the assertion that Archangel shipping was so endangered, and a vital Imperial commercial link so vulnerable, that it was reasonable to occupy it and Murmansk. Like all effective propaganda, the story had an element of truth, even if it was later admitted that the more valuable stores had already been removed to the interior of Russia.

There was, for example, the obliging Arthur Copping of the Daily Chronicle, with his frequent dispatches from Archangel,22 or Arthur Ransome, of the Manchester Guardian, who was, according to Bruce Lockhart, "something more than a visitor On "excellent terms with the Bolsheviks," Ransome frequently brought Bruce Lockhart and his small staff "information of the greatest value.

Certainly, at various times between August and October , supplies had been backed up at the limited railheads to the Russian interiors, sometimes quite horrifyingly so. But the situation was by no means as grim in early Still, members of the Poole Mission and other men on the spot, including General Knox, Military Attache extraordinaire, seized on the image of the supplies bottleneck in their pursuit of a more vigorous military intervention, falling in with the illusory creation of Mil. Knox, in his role as leader of the faction which had originally opposed Poole, and opposed as well the intelligence aspects of his mission, was, by March , largely in favor of intervention.

He had even come to favor Steel's idea of organized "guerrilla warfare" which would take advantage of a hostile political situation and use it to Imperial benefit. The simple cause and effect excuse for involvement offered by Milner, endorsed by Knox and spread by the press seemed to make perfect and obvious sense. Young bluntly warned that success in the intervention was not a question of "restoring order" in Murman or the Crimea, "but of penetrating to Moscow.

The former military representative at Archangel, 29 Captain Proctor, who claimed that "vast stores" were stranded there, was one of the loudest of the "experts" but unfortunately for his argument, Captain Proctor was no longer actually at Archangel and was reporting on a situation with which he was no longer immediately familiar. He also seems to have been less than highly esteemed by those men who were still reporting directly from North Russia. In contrast to the grandiose "vast stores" arguments, a civilian agent named Harrison who was still on the scene 30 was able to account for a total of only , tons of miscellaneous cargo at Archangel: about 40, of departmental artillery; 30, of metals; 1, belonging to the Admiralty; 11, belonging to the French Mission presumably to be transported by the HBC under their contracts; and 4, agricultural.

The remainder, said Mr. Harrison, was owned by private consignees.

In contrast, in September the HBC was contracted to move some "12,, poods" or , tons of wheat alone and held some 20, tons of storage as a reserve supply for the end of the navigation when the transport on the river would be closed by ice. In light of these figures, which were, according to HBC, consistent throughout the war, the fact that , tons were on the docks at Archangel when Harrison reported was entirely normal. On 25 March Harrison wired Poole that, only a small percentage of the goods here are of urgent need to Germany who should soon have the whole of Russia to draw on for war materials Most of the despatches have been sent to Moscow Harrison went farther; the Mission's economic concerns should be at the forefront of all involved.

He pointed out that if a military force was sent, the consequences, should be clearly envisaged. It is unwise at the instance of mad hatters of the Proctor type to adopt local policies. On the assumption that information given us in Petrograd is correct and that Germany intends in the first place to assume civil control of Petrograd, Moscow, Kiev and Odessa and secondly to await an excuse to convert civil into military control a suitable provocation would be supplied by an occupation of Archangel by us. Of course an excuse may have been found sooner in the Japanese action in the East but if not This memorandum received an unusually wide distribution.

Copies were sent to Sir Ronald Graham who had been acting as liaison between the Bay and Balfour and looking after Mr. Armitstead's position at Archangel in November ;33 to Mr. Kemball Cook who had received reports from HBC about commercial relations at Petrograd as part of an informational round-robin from Armitstead 34; to Mr.

Sir George Clerk, Mr. Dudley Ward and Colonel Skene and specifically directed to Poole and to other members of the Russian Supply Committee showed how integrated intelligence deceptions and governmental objectives had become, "In addition to the simultaneous application of policy No. It was a risky game, but the chaos in Russia led to some very uncharacteristic behavior on the part of usually detached British governmental officials.

Even such a calm soul as Lord Robert Cecil, faced with the prospects of the withdrawal of all Russian forces from action, was led to exclaim that "we must be prepared in the desperate position It was also realized [sic] that any threat of force at the Northern Ports through Siberia would render the Germans nervous and would tend to prevent their moving more troops from East to West. This threat very effectively achieved its objective for while the number of German divisions on the Eastern front decreased from 52 at the beginning of March to 33 on June 23rd when we landed at Murmansk, three months later the figure stood at 34 divisions.

Every subsequent justification for the military presence at the northern site depended from this systematically skewed logic; the threat to shipping, the "vast stores" unremoved and piling up on the docks and vulnerable to German theft, the convenience of the port and area as an objective for the valourous Czechoslovak troops and as a training site to support local forces, the consequent need for re-enforcement unwittingly caused when the countryside came under Imperial protection and finally, the appeal that while. It is not our intention to initiate any general offensive against the Bolsheviks with our North Russian forces, Russian officers and soldiers who had helped our troops and who had the misfortune to fall into the hands of the Bolsheviks have been found hanging from trees with their bowels cut open.

British honour does not permit of our abandoning the peoples of whole provinces to a like fate. Only two months before Milner's remarkable paean to intervention the General Staff was meditating that "if we are going to continue to support the local Government and Forces large quantities of military stores and food will have to be shipped to Archangel before the port closes. But in this case there is some hope that the evacuation will not be interfered with by the enemy or as the result of local risings. All the arguments could have been disputed by the Canadians of the HBC. But acting as they were as an integral part of the war effort, there was no reason for them to do so.

Instead, as part of their commercial and wartime responsibilities, they provided the very detailed knowledge of the patterns and possibilities offered by Archangel which served as an impetus for military intervention, and which were neatly reversed to serve as camouflage for the intelligence presence. Archangel, like Vladivostok and Baku, offered additional advantages to those who chose to notice. It was not only a commercial nexus but one of the few information centers still accessible to the Allies.

Imperial intelligence chose to notice. MI1 c 's chief, Mansfield Smith-Cumming took the trouble to clarify the financial arrangements that the temporary work would cause, writing to the HBC that since Armitstead had, with the "kind permission" of HBC "temporarily placed his services at my disposal for a journey through Russia" he, as MI1 c executive, would refund to the HBC" all Mr. Armitstead's expenses on the journey from the time of leaving London until his return to this town.

The regions which Imperial Russia had once dominated or influenced were now open and available, along with all the trade within the Russian regions previously controlled by Germany. In short, the entire trading nexus of a now- vanished Russo-German market could be re-directed to other, more reliable, trading partners. Carefully applied external pressure by both the Senior Dominion and by the central Imperial government to re-align these markets, along with equally measured internal pressure made the prospects for Imperial success even greater.

The Allied Intervention in Russia, 1918-1920

Imperial opinion during the war predicted that, although Germany would "presumably endeavour to recoup herself for her political and economic losses, and to find means, through trade The only outlet for her endeavours in this sense is to the East, in Russia and Siberia. The problem of how to eliminate the international opprobrium such a politically unilateral and clearly Imperialist action was likely to provoke was to be moderated by encouraging the Senior Dominion's participation.

It was to be solved by the third intervention at Vladivostok. The Russia Supplies Committee. As has been analyzed by Iaroslav Golubinov in , the British military supply mission led by General Poole in early had to verify, in the first place, the proper use of weapons and ammunition from the United Kingdom and, in the second, had to help in establishing closer contacts between industrial businessmen of the two states. General Poole and his team observed work of the artillery parks and aviation workshops as well as the defense facilities.

According to the British officers all of them suffered from common problems. Revolutionizing of the masses diverted many people from work, contributed to the fall of the discipline and was accompanied by the reluctance of the military and civilian officials to do anything for normalizing the situation. Thus both tasks of the mission failed. The first reason was the gradual collapse of the front and army work in the rear, and the second was the Bolshevist pursuit to conclude the peace with Germany.

Major A. Sturdy, an original member of the Russian Committee on Supplies, described his recollection of how the Poole Mission, primarily intent on economic expansion and on smoothing out the administrative intricacies involved in supplying Russian equipment requirements, changed its nature to support MIO plans for Imperial paramountcy on the cheap. We of the Russian Supply Committee knew all about destination and plans as we were really the nucleus of the North Russian Expeditionary Force.

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Perhaps not the whole idea. The commercial mission's presence had however spurred intelligence consideration of North Russia, offering the prime advantage of a good cover which was already in place. They have an organisation working in Russia and under their direction, in charge of General Poole, with whom they have been in direct telegraphic correspondence. Since the suspension of supplies to Russia at the beginning of December, the C. Lord Milner has now agreed that they should be brought within the scope of the Ministry of Blockade and it is proposed to incorporate them in the Restriction of Enemy Supplies Department.

The allied intervention in Russia, I. Moffat

Telegrams to him sent by the rest of Enemies Supplies Department being referred to and if necessary examined before despatch by the Russian Committee to ensure that they are in accordance with the general Russian policy as defined by that Committee. Poole's Mission was reconstituted, and Poole was appointed "head of a special Supply Mission in Russia under the direction of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

As regards Intelligence, Lt. Colonel Thornhill will. It is essential that Lieut-Colonel Thornhill be given as free a hand as possible. The DMI will be responsible for the circulation of all such reports to the Government Departments concerned.