Ray

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27th September 1918 Friday

A Large Convoy moves off, Battle Casualties and a Nice Cup of Tea

All material produced or reproduced here and throughout this work is the sole copyright of the author and the family of Doctor D.C.M. Page MC.

“I was up early in the morning of the 27th Sept. and got all packed up ready to move ‘up the line’ with Headquarters: I left Little, the Yankee doctor behind in Seletskoe to look after the sick, and wounded as I sent them down to him, and also to arrange for their evacuation. I also telegraphed A.D.M.S. Archangel telling him that I expected casualties, and asking him to send up a hospital boat at once. We moved off about ten o’clock in the morning, the column consisting of the Marines, two platoons of Americans, our artillery, and transport consisting of well over one hundred carts. Luckily the weather was fine and dry, although the ground was bad, as it had rained all night. We travelled about twenty-five versts during the day, getting up to within three versts of the Emtsa River. The Americans who preceded us yesterday got into touch with the Bolos. about six this morning, and a small ‘battle’ ensued. The Bolos had established themselves in an excellent position on the Kadish (far) side of the Emtsa River, and played havoc with the Yanks as they attempted to cross the river. There was no bridge over the river, but only a raft. The Americans lost one officer and five men killed, and twenty-four wounded in this action. As I went up I met the wounded coming down in carts, and attended to them as well as I could under the circumstances. I gave morphia to most of them as they had a long and trying journey before them. Some of them were badly wounded, especially one poor man with a compound fracture of the femur, whom I had great difficulty in fixing up comfortably on a stretcher fixed to the cart. The more lightly wounded I ‘doped’ with a large tot of rum. I felt very much for them as I could do so little to make them comfortable.

We settled down for the night by the roadside in a very wild bit of country. The road ran through the heart of a huge forest. We soon had a fire going, and a cup of tea did me a lot of good as I had only had a little bully-beef, and a biscuit since breakfast. The Bolo guns fired a few shots as we were settling down, but we were too far back for them to harm us. Thank goodness! It was very cold at night, and I tried in vain to sleep by the fire. My feet were like blocks of ice.”

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26th September 1918 Thursday

Patrols Pushing Out

All material produced or reproduced here and throughout this work is the sole copyright of the author and the family of Doctor D.C.M. Page MC.

“About 9 a.m. on the morning of the 26th the Americans, under Capt. Donoghue, one of the very best, left to get in touch with the Bolos, reaching the village of Meijnovskaya about three in the afternoon without encountering any Bolos. In the evening Anderson with his platoon, and Capt. Metchiersky? with his Russian cadets crossed the river and marched off towards Shredmehreza with a view to attacking the Bolos. on his right flank. I sent the Russian doctor with them.”

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25th September 1918 Wednesday

The Well Fed Madame Botchkareva

All material produced or reproduced here and throughout this work is the sole copyright of the author and the family of Doctor D.C.M. Page MC.

“The General left for Teogra on horseback next morning (Sept. 25th) and another company of Americans joined us from Obozerskaya soon after he had gone. They were a fine-looking lot. In the evening two of our cavalry men came back with the story that whilst out on patrol they had been attacked by the Bolsheviks in the village of Meijmovskaya, which is about seventeen versts from here on the road to Plesetskaya. One of them had his horse shot from under him, and was captured by the Bolos. He managed to escape, however, after killing one of them. He had only a pair of trousers on when he arrived here, and was absolutely fagged out. The other man said that he had killed two and wounded one Bolo. with his rifle. Madame Boskareeva (sic.) arrived in the forenoon, and wanted to see Col. Henderson. But he had the ‘wind-up’, and wouldn’t grant her an interview. She wanted to get on his ‘staff’! She was as fat, if not fatter, than ever! A large load of rations arrived at night.”

Madame Botchkareva  1889-1920 Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Maria Botchkareva had fought in the Tsarist Russian Army and was determined to carry on the fight against the Bolsheviks. However, as an imposing character that she was, she found difficulty in gaining credibility with the allies and wasn’t considered, as a woman, to be suitable as a fighting soldier. In December 1918 the former Tsarist General Maroushevsky who was in charge of the White Army in Archangel wrote:

(1) “Madame Botchkareva arrived from Shenkursk and reported to me on the 26th December. She wore officer’s uniform of a Caucasian pattern, with epaulettes. She was accompanied by Lieut. Filipoff, whom she described as her adjutant.

Madame Botchkareva offered me her services for work in the organisation of the Russian Forces.

I do not undertake to estimate the merits of Madam Botchkareva’s services in the Russian Army. I consider that the shedding of her blood in the service of her country will be appreciated finally by the Central Government and Russian history.

I only consider it my duty to declare, that within the limits of the northern region, thank God, the time has already come for quiet creative work, and I consider that the summoning of women for military duties, which are not appropriate for their sex, would be a heavy reproach and a distasteful stain on the whole population of the northern region.

I order that Madame Botchkareva take off her uniform and that Lieut.Filipoff report immediately to the Military Command for registration, to be detailed for duties suitable to his rank and service.

The carrying out of this Order is placed under the supervision of the Town Commandant.”

(1) Archangel 1918-1919 General Ironside. Pub. Naval & Military Press Ltd ISBN 1-847347-32-0.

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24th September 1918 Tuesday

The General Comes to Survey the Situation

All material produced or reproduced here and throughout this work is the sole copyright of the author and the family of Doctor D.C.M. Page MC.

“On Tuesday Sept. 24th the only thing of note that happened was that General Finlayson and Capt. Lloyd came up by boat at night, but I didn’t see much of them as they had a long conference with the C.O. An American was admitted to hospital suffering from pleurisy.”

General Robert Gordon-Finlayson had been given the responsibility of running the military operation by General Poole, who as the man in overall charge, but locally unpopular was more concerned with the running of the operation and admin from Archangel.

© IWM (Art.IWM ART LD 713)

General Sir Robert Gordon-Finlayson KCB, CMG, DSO (Art.IWM ART LD 713) 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/8816

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23rd September 1918 Monday

Merchant Slipping into the Abyss and Letters from Home

All material produced or reproduced here and throughout this work is the sole copyright of the author and the family of Doctor D.C.M. Page MC.

“Monday was a lovely, sunny day, and I drove into Teogra in the afternoon on business. I met Anderson at the bridge, and he came on with me to Teogra where we had tea with Merchant, who seemed to be developing into a nervous wreck. The Russian doctor had evacuated the two Russian patients in hospital at Teogra to the base this morning, and I told him to come through to Seletskoe tomorrow to look after the Russian sick there. I also told Turner to come into Seletskoe tomorrow too, and bring the convalescent marine with him. I got back to Seletskoe about 6.30 p.m. after a very fine drive. There was a gorgeous sunset. I found a hug mail of sixteen letters, umpteen bundles of papers, and three parcels awaiting me, and I was filled with joy for this was the first mail from home since leaving in August.”

Russian peasant women washing clothes by the river-side (diary).

Russian peasant women washing clothes by the river-side (diary).

Find out about our connection with Dr Page and an introduction to his diary here

22nd September 1918 Sunday

Housekeeping and back to the Day Job

All material produced or reproduced here and throughout this work is the sole copyright of the author and the family of Doctor D.C.M. Page MC.

“On Sunday 22nd I busied myself with getting the hospital in order, and made a decent wooden path up to the place much to the annoyance of my Russian neighbours whose wood I had evidently pinched. I admitted two Russians into hospital, one suffering from pleurisy and the other a sore throat.”

My second and larger hospital in the school at Seletskoe, complete with staff.

My second and larger hospital in the school at Seletskoe, complete with staff.

Find out about our connection with Dr Page and an introduction to his diary here

21st September 1918 Saturday

Tickled Bolos and Sliding Horses

All material produced or reproduced here and throughout this work is the sole copyright of the author and the family of Doctor D.C.M. Page MC.

“We moved forward to Seletskoe once more on the following day (21st Sept.). Col. Henderson went on ahead. I left the Russian doctor behind in Teogra to look after the three sick men there, and had to leave Turner there too. Merchant was complaining about his back, so I left him behind too. Anderson, with his platoon, and Shevtoff’s Russians were also left in Teogra to guard the bridge, and Obozerskaya’s cross-roads. Scott, Jerome, and I travelled in state in a two-horsed drosky with four cavalry men behind us. The guns had an awful job getting up the hills out of the village as the roads were so bad. It was funny to see them going down the hills as the horses just sat down and slid! The new bridge was a huge success although there was a very stiff hill on the other side to get up. We reached Seletskoe about six p.m. and found the Colonel established in our old H.Q. I took over the old hospital site, and billeted myself in the doctor’s house next door. One of our Russian patrols brought in a Bolshevik limber full of shells, and a field cooker. They also discovered a Bolo. aid-post, which was littered with bloody bandages and dressings, proving that we must have tickled them up a bit.”

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20th September 1918 Friday

More Americans arrive and fresh produce for the patients

All material produced or reproduced here and throughout this work is the sole copyright of the author and the family of Doctor D.C.M. Page MC.

“On the evening of the 20th two more platoons of Americans joined us, and the others moved forward to Seletskoe. I admitted one of the marines into hospital suffering from pleurisy. He was rather bad. Luckily the people in my ‘home’ were awfully decent, and I was able to get a good supply of eggs and fresh milk for my patients.”

Not mentioned in the diary but at this time cases of Influenza had begun to increase back in Archangel and the hospitals had started to feel the strain. Already men had begun to succumb to the disease and deaths were beginning to increase among the allies.

Meanwhile rain that carried on throughout the night dampened the spirits somewhat.

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19th September 1918 Thursday

Russian McTavish Rebuilds the Bridge and could Merchant be Dodging?

All material produced or reproduced here and throughout this work is the sole copyright of the author and the family of Doctor D.C.M. Page MC.

“On the afternoon of the 19th September I went for a walk along to the river crossing to view the destroyed bridge. The only traces of the old bridge left were a few blackened piles, and a lot of debris in the river. A lot of refugees belonging to Seletskoe crossed the river on their way back to their homes whilst I was there. It was a sad sight to see them. They were mostly women and children, and many of the women carried babies. McTavish was busy building the new bridge. He had a gang of thirty Russians, and twenty American engineers helping him. They had sunk five wooden trestles in the river, and had started placing the planking across when I left. We heard that a Bolo. plane had bombed Seletskoe during the afternoon, but had inflicted no damage on the place at all. We also got news that one of our gunboats on the Dwina had sunk three Bolo. gunboats and a barge. Merchant was in bed all day complaining of diarrhoea and headache, but in my opinion he wasn’t too bad. He was suffering from cold feet really! I wrote a long report to the A.D.M.S. on my doings up till now. McNair put in an appearance again at night with a supply of rations.”

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18th September 1918 Wednesday

Shown up by the Russian Cadets

All material produced or reproduced here and throughout this work is the sole copyright of the author and the family of Doctor D.C.M. Page MC.

“On the 18th Sept. the best piece of news was that the Russian Cadets had gone on to Seletskoe, found the village empty, and occupied the trenches outside the place! What a smack in the eye this was to us! The Bolos. retired at the same time as we did, and now we can’t get across the river to pursue them! What a farce!

McNair left us during the day, but his right-hand man, a Russian engineer whom we called McTavish, stayed with us to help build a new bridge across the river, which he guaranteed to have completed and ready for traffic tomorrow. Good egg! I attended to a number of military and civil sick during the day.”

McNair was a British Secret Service man – a man absolutely without fear. He was always turning up at odd times to help us, and I always felt absolutely safe when he was about. He carried three nasty - lethal revolvers, all fully loaded & had some hair-raising tales to tell of Russia, before, during and after the Revolution.

“McNair was a British Secret Service man – a man absolutely without fear. He was always turning up at odd times to help us, and I always felt absolutely safe when he was about. He carried three nasty – lethal revolvers, all fully loaded & had some hair-raising tales to tell of Russia, before, during and after the Revolution.”

To the best of our knowledge there is no handwritten diary still extant and apart from various handwritten comments on pictures this is the only bit of standalone handwriting we have. We are working from a typed up copy.

Find out about our connection with Dr Page and an introduction to his diary here

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