On Monday 29 July, I will be giving a book talk at the exquisite Topping Bookshop in Bath. Doors open at 7.45 pm at The Bookshop, The Paragon, Bath BA1 5LS. Early bird tickets, which are redeemable against a signed copy of the book, are available on their website:
Alternatively, I will be telling audiences about how the last British prisoners of World War I coped in their lice-infested cells at the War and Peace Festival in Kent during the previous week (23-27 July) and speaking at the National Army Museum in London, on Friday 9 August at 11.30 am.
The strike on the Detention Centre today was not the first air attack at the Tajoura base. In 2011, the Libyan Navy kept all its stores in the large hangars, which were completely destroyed in an Air Strike.
Attacks on civilians are heinous crimes, but don’t be deceived by old photographs doctored by the media.
…But there was no fanfare in Siberia when it was signed. The official diary of the British Military Mission fails to mention the event, merely recording that Private Lucas was suffering from venereal disease and the US hospital was unwilling to help.
Four days earlier, Emerson had joined the other British Army volunteers in Omsk, to help repair and maintain the Trans-Siberian Railway and was pleased to receive an additional half a crown a day “in view of the extra hardship and inconvenience of operations in Siberia”.
After the Red Army recaptured Ufa on the River Kama, the fight moved to the passes over the Ural Mountains and a stalemate ensued. Trotsky intended to switch to the south, but was over-ruled by Lenin in Moscow.
Meanwhile, Emerson MacMillan arrived at Omsk six days before the Treaty of Versailles was signed and started work sorting out the chaos on the railway network.
He met the Cossack who took command of the train derailment at Vladivostok and discovered he was Lieutenant General Kortzov, the former Chief of Intelligence in the Caucasus, who had been educated by an English nanny as a child.
Emerson wrote in a letter home on Sunday 22 June 1919: “The General spoke in very complementary terms of the help Great Britain is giving Russia in her efforts to restore order… I feel sure that Winston should like to have him speak in the House in support of his Russian policy”.
The British Army’s Accommodation in Omsk in 1919
Emerson MacMillan boarded the Express de Lux in Vladivostok on its ten-day journey to join the British Railway Mission at Omsk. His train was ambushed on a horse shoe bend above a 40 foot precipice and he was lucky to get out alive as the “sleeping cars were held up by faith alone”.
A grizzled old Cossack general asked him to guard the flank while he wired for assistance and Emerson patrolled the railway track with a French major before an American company took over the guard a few hours later.
He wrote about this episode in one of 21 unpublished letters, which form the spine of Churchill’s Abandoned Prisoners: The British Soldiers Deceived in the Russian Civil War.
British Soldiers On The Trans-Siberian Railway in 1919
Presenting a book to The Prince George Galitzine Memorial Library on Fontanka, St Petersburg in appreciation for their help when I was researching the stories in Churchill’s Abandoned Prisoners.