Francis McCullagh was arguably the finest war correspondent since William Howard Russell, earning the highest praise of the great newspaper editor WT Stead (who went down in the Titanic). In World War I, he joined the British Army and was assigned to help Alexander Kolchak’s White Russian Government in Omsk, for which he was awarded an MBE in the Siberian honours list. As an accomplished cypher operator, he ended up with the last group of British soldiers ordered to remain behind and assist the evacuation of the city as the Red Army approached from the Ural mountains.
With these soldiers, he was captured at Krasnoyarsk on 6 January 1920, but instead of becoming a prisoner-of-war he resumed his journalistic career and accompanied a Bolshevik reconstruction team on its way to Moscow. En route, he managed to interview the Tsar’s murderer and many leaders of the Russian revolution, but on Good Friday 1920 he was arrested by the Secret Police and taken to Lubjanka prison where he was tortured by the infamous Tcheka. Although, he had a terrifying experience, he was more afraid of catching epidemic typhus than the interrogation by the brutal inquisitors.
After his release, his name was added to the list of British prisoners being repatriated as part of the exchange treaty negotiated by the British and Russian envoys, Jim O’Grady and Maxim Litvinov. McCullagh’s extraordinary story touches so many themes that are relevant today and which I will include in my book-talk at Dartmouth House in London on Tuesday 11 April at 6 p.m. I am delighted that for this event, I will be joined by a special guest and relatives of British soldiers, marines and pilots who fought against the Bolsheviks in Russia in 1919. Tickets are available by contacting me direct, or on the ESU website at: https://www.esu.org/event/churchills-abandoned-prisoners-with-rupert-wieloch/
Captain Francis McCullagh with Admiral Kolchak before the collapse of the White Government in Omsk
2 thoughts on “Francis McCullagh Arrested in Moscow on Good Friday 1920”
Wish I could be there on 11th but sadly not on this occasion. Hope you have a great evening with your associated guests. Should Rex Carthew’s name arise, please ask persons concerned to get in touch.
Thanks Stephanie and a very Happy Easter! It is sad you cannot make it as we have General Brian Horrocks’ grandchildren there, along with the son of the Royal Marine who commanded the Kama river operation and other relatives of prisoners. Very best wishes, Rupert