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The Winter War

June 2024
1min read

John Lukacs’s piece on America and Russia in the February/March issue is a concise and thorough synopsis of the relationship between the two nations since the birth of the United States. But the author is understating severely when he describes the American intervention after World War I as “short-lived and marginal; there was practically no fighting between American soldiers and the Red Army.”

Although there were indeed only seventeen killed during the Siberian expedition, whose chief aim was to protect Allied military stores in Russian ports from German encroachment, it was a different story in north Russia, where Wilson agreed to send five thousand American troops after succumbing to relentless pressure from Great Britain and France to participate in the venture. These troops served in the Archangel region from September 1918 to June 1919 under British command, and, in direct violation of Wilson’s policy, engaged in offensive operations against Bolshevik forces. During the course of a grueling winter campaign, eighty-seven Americans were killed in action, seventy-six died from disease and thirty-nine from other causes, while thirty-nine more were listed as missing in action. Their courage is commemorated by a memorial at the White Chapel cemetery in Detroit, where many of them rest. Others still lie in their hastily dug graves near Archangel, gone and seemingly forgotten.

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