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With the "Die-Hards" in Siberia   By: (1866-1934)

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With the "Die Hards" in Siberia

By Col. John Ward C.B., C.M.G., M.P.

With Eight Plates

1920

To MY COMRADES

OFFICERS, N.C.O.s AND MEN OF THE 18th, 19th, 25th AND 26th BATTALIONS OF THE MIDDLESEX REGIMENT

who, on sea and land, in sunshine and snow, so worthily upheld the traditional gallantry and honour of their people and country

FORWARD

Originally written for the private use of my sons in case I did not return, this narrative of events connected with the expedition to Siberia must of necessity lack many of the necessary elements which go to make a history. I wrote of things as they occurred, and recorded the reasons and motives which prompted the participants. Many things have happened since which seem to show that we were not always right in our estimate of the forces at work around us. Things are not always what they seem, and this is probably more evident in the domain of Russian affairs than in any other. It would have been comparatively easy to alter the text and square it with the results, but that would have destroyed the main value of the story.

The statesman and the soldier rarely write history; it is their misfortune to make it. It is quite easy to be a prophet when you know the result. You can, as a rule, judge what a certain set of people will do in a certain set of circumstances, but where you deal with State policy which may be influenced by events and circumstances which have not the remotest connection with the question involved, it is impossible to give any forecast of their conduct on even the most elementary subject.

The recent tragic events played out in the vast domain of Siberia are a case in point. It is certain that Admiral Koltchak would never have gone to Siberia, nor have become the head of the constitutional movement and government of Russia, if he had not been advised and even urged to do so by the Allies. He received the most categorical promises of whole hearted support and early Allied recognition before he agreed to take up the dangerous duty of head of the Omsk Government. Had these urgings and promises been ungrudgingly performed a Constituent Assembly would be now sitting at Moscow hammering out the details of a Federal Constitution for a mighty Russian Republic or a parliamentary system similar to our own.

On the declaration of the Koltchak Government, General Denikin, General Dutoff, General Hovart, and the North Russian Governments made over their authority to Omsk. There was at once a clear issue the Terrorist at Moscow, the Constitutionalist at Omsk. Had the Allies at this juncture translated their promises into acts, from what untold suffering Russia and Europe might have been saved!

The mere act of recognition would have created a wonderful impression on the Russian mind, in addition to giving the Allies a lever by which they could have guided the course of events and stabilised the Baltic. It would have given security to Russian finance, and enabled trade relations to have commenced with the wealthiest part of the Russian dominions.

The reconstruction of Russia, about which the Allies talk so glibly, would have gone forward with a bound by natural means, which not even Allied bungling could have prevented. The Omsk Government could have got money on better terms than any of the Allies, because, accepted within the comity of nations, it could have given better security than any of them, even including America. Europe would have been fed, Russia would have been clothed, and the world would have been saved from its greatest tragedies. All this and more would have naturally followed from the barest performance of our promises.

We did worse than this. Breach of promise is only a negative crime. The Allies went to the other extreme; their help took the form of positive wilful obstruction. The Japanese, by bolstering up Semianoff and Kalmakoff, and the Americans, by protecting and organising enemies, made it practically impossible for the Omsk Government to maintain its authority or existence... Continue reading book >>




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