Australians In Siberia

More than a hundred Australians served in Russia after the Revolutions in 1917. The majority fought with the British forces in North Russia, where two soldiers, Sergeant Samuel Pearce and Corporal Arthur Sullivan, earned the Victoria Cross. Several also ended up in Siberia, including Captain O’Brien of the Australian Light Horse who arrived in Omsk on 29th January 1919 and 30 year-old Captain Ernest William Latchford MC of the 38th Infantry Battalion who taught musketry with the Training Team at Irkutsk.

One of the last prisoners to escape from Russia, Captain Dwyer Augustus Neville was born in Australia on 18th April 1892. He joined the Royal Flying Corps in February 1917 and transferred to the Royal Air Force when it was created in 1918. Just before the fifth battle of Ypres, he was forced down while on patrol over the Comines Canal and captured by the German Army, but was repatriated on 13th December 1918.

Volunteering for service in Siberia, he was captured on the retreat from Omsk in December 1919 with Lieutenant Colonel Eric Johnston, but then left behind in hospital when he contracted Typhus. Amazingly he survived this ordeal and almost a year later was sent to Moscow where he joined Brian Horrocks, another who had the ignominious distinction of being a prisoner-of-war in both Germany and Russia in World War One. Returning to Australia, Dwyer lived until October 1979 and is buried at Buderin Cemetery, Queensland.

Captain Ernest William Latchford MC in Siberia 1919

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