On 31st October 1919, the Soviet Government announced that it had captured Petropavlovsk, an important trading town on the river Ishim. In doing so, they cut off two British officers serving with Ataman Dutov’s Cossacks, Captain Phelps Hodges MC and Lieutenant Paul Moss, from their railway route to safety.
The only way of escape was to cross the infamous Gobi Desert by horse and camel. It took them over four months, but eventually they reached the British mission in China and from there, returned to England. Writing about his experiences, Phelps Hodges claimed: “No phase in history is more full of material for the historian or novelist than those four years of bitter civil war in Russia”.
Captain Phelps Hodges MC of the Royal Field Artillery, crossing the Gobi Desert in 1919