Return From Russia

After the Unknown Warrior was buried in Westminster Abbey, the way was clear for the latest Royal Navy cruiser, HMS Delhi, to pick up Captain Brian Horrocks and the other British prisoners-of-war, who had been waiting patiently in Finland.

The Royal Navy treated the freed men very well and landed them in Copenhagen where they spent a night in the same hotel that Jim O’Grady and Maxim Litvinov signed the Anglo-Russian prisoner exchange treaty.

The next day they caught a passenger ferry to Harwich and arrived early on 22nd November 1920, just over a year after they had been ordered to “remain to the last” in Omsk. Sergeant Joe Rooney ran straight up to a policeman and shook his hand, while Captain Bertie Prickett arranged quarantine for their mascot, Teddy. The Army tried to divert the men to Colchester, but the leader of the group, Major Leonard Vining slipped the net and took everyone straight to London on the train.

Arriving at Liverpool Street Station at lunch time, the gaunt soldiers were met by a gaggle of reporters and photographers. They were cautious about what they revealed because they knew that the Commanding Officer of 2nd Battalion, Hampshire Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Kelly, had been court-martialled on 28th October for writing to the Press about the campaign against the Bolsheviks. Nevertheless, they made it abundantly clear that the picture painted by official British visitors to Moscow was very different to the truth, adding: “People in England have no idea of the dreadful state of things that exist in Russia”.

2 thoughts on “Return From Russia

  1. I a m the daughter of private Percy James who is mentioned in your book. I live in Milan and i have two sisters living in Toronto and Ottawa, Canada. Our father often told us about his experiences. I would be happy to hear from you and tell you more about him.


    1. Dear Louise,
      I hope you and all your family are well. I am afraid that I have lost your email address, but I would like to mention your father in my talk tomorrow in London and specifically his tale about how they were due to meet the King, but the government suppressed their story for political reasons. There are other children and grandchildren of soldiers who were in prison in Moscow with Percy; would you be happy for me to pass your contact details to them? Best wishes, Rupert


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