Note to the Prime Minister on 27th May

One hundred years ago today, the Prime Minister, David Lloyd George received a note from Lord Curzon about his forthcoming meeting in London with the Soviet Minister Leonid Krassin on 31st May 1920.

The Foreign Secretary listed his main concern as the remaining British prisoners in Russia and described the three categories as: civilians in Moscow and Petrograd;  prisoners-of-war in Siberia; and the naval mechanics recently detained in Azerbaijan.  When the Prime Minister dismissed the problem of the prisoners as an inconvenience, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff accused him of treason and Winston Churchill attacked him for grasping “the hairy paw of the baboon”.

Meanwhile in Irkutsk, Major Vining in charge of the deceived British prisoners in Siberia, wrote in his diary:  “nothing has been sent us and no telegram, or letter has reached us…Our mail, an accumulation of some ten months is at Vladivostok, this could have been sent through ten times over…”.


3 thoughts on “Note to the Prime Minister on 27th May

  1. I have been researching some of the deceased buried ( or mentioned on family headstones) in Brockley & Ladywell cemeteries in SE London. One name of interest is that of a Cecil Harold Porter MBE NVAS who was I understand a prisoner of the Bolsheviks and left an account of his experiences by way of a diary ? Would you happen to have any additional infornation on his time in Russia that might assist?


  2. Hello Mike,
    Yes, Lieutenant CH Porter transferred from the NVAS to the RAF in 1918 and the following year was flying a seaplane in the Black Sea Fleet. On 22nd August 1919, during a reconnaissance flight, his plane was forced to land on Lake Sukhoi and he and his observer, 2nd Lieutenant Ian Donald Stewart were taken prisoner.
    They were sent to Moscow and imprisoned in the Andronovsky Monastery which was converted into a political jail. As part of the prisoner exchanges negotiated by Litvinov and O’Grady (see chapter 10 of my book), Porter was released and escorted to the Finnish border with other British PoWs and civilians. I have a cutting from The Times dated Saturday 17 April which tells me he crossed the frontier on 15 April along with Francis McCullagh and a young Dmitri Tolstoy (see chapter 11 and the Foreword to my book). ATB Rupert


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