WW1 Diary

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17th September 1918 Tuesday

Little Sleep, Return of the Lost Patrol, the Arrival of Lt. Col. Henderson and a Bolo Arrested

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 wandered along to the middle Teogra village about 4 a.m. (17.9.18), and found that Wood and Co. had established themselves in a clean, and nice-looking house near the church. He had secured two rooms. The large one I managed to get four beds into, and used as a hospital. The smaller one I used as my own bedroom, and consulting room.

I got back to H.Q. just before eight o’clock to find that Lt. Col. Henderson had just arrived to take over command of the force. He is a Black Watch man, and struck me at the time as being a gentleman. I had some bully beef, biscuits, and tea breakfast, and then set about getting my little hospital in trim. I admitted two Russian soldiers both suffering from Phthisis, and pretty bad at that too.

Col. Henderson brought with him one hundred Russian troops. They are all ex-Russian officers, serving in a British cadet corps, which Col. Henderson has been training at Tundra. A Russian doctor came with them too.

During the afternoon the thirteen missing marines turned up. They stated that they only left Seletskoe at 11.30 this morning, and got an awful shock when they discovered that we had all gone. They also stated that they had seen no Bolos, and had heard no shooting all night. Nor had they heard Merchant calling them. Which proves what I have always thought that Merchant is an accomplished liar, and has a yellow streak in him. The men were able to cross the river all right on the debris of the bridge.

Three small boys also arrived from Seletskoe during the day, and told us that the Bolsheviks had not come into the village. One of the boys was the son of a Bolshevik organiser in Seletskoe and had obviously been sent to find out where we were, and what we were going to do. We kept them as hostages, and later on in the evening the father turned up to look for them and was promptly arrested.

During the day the Russian cadets relieved the Royal Scots, and Americans at the bridge. McNair arrived at night. I got to bed early, and slept like a log.”

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

16th September 1918 Monday

Under Fire and The American Patrol fails in its Mission.

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, September 16th.  The artillery duel continued all day. About 7.30 a.m. an enemy shell came whistling over and dropped just behind the church, and all morning after that shells came whizzing into the village. Most of them fell into the top end of the village (nearest the enemy, but a goodly number landed around the school house. No damage was done, and nobody was hurt. A drosky had the back end blown off by a shell, and we all laughed when we saw the horse coming galloping through the village with the old bearded driver perched on the top of the wreckage! During the day we cleared many of the women and children out of the village, as things were getting too hot for them. In order to get to my Aid-Post in the morning I had to make a dash for it, but got up the road all right. Whilst I was in my little hospital a few shells fell quite close to the building. I picked up one or two souvenirs on the way up of nose-caps and shrapnel bullets.

One of the gunner sergeants told us his experiences at the forward O.P. He said that the Bolos. had four guns, and that at least one of them was only 400 yards up the road from our forward posts, as he could see the enemy gunners at work. He said that he fired at them with his rifle, and that he had hit one of them. He also told us that about noon he saw a bit of earth blown up into the air when the gun fired, and that it had not fired since. He said that Capt. Donoghue commanding the American troops had sent out two parties to try and get behind the gun and capture it. Later we learned that this bold move ended in failure. The sergeant also told us about a party of about a dozen unarmed men with a woman who came walking down the road towards our lines. Unfortunately a French M.G. opened fire on them and they scatted into the woods. No more was seen of them.

During all this excitement I got a letter from the A.D.M.S. Elope, requesting me to send in to his office umpteen weekly and monthly returns!  I thought I’d got away from all that ‘bumph’, but here it starts again!

A heavy thunderstorm broke over us about one o’clock, and the enemy shelling continued all afternoon.

A woman arrived in the village in the afternoon from Ripalova. She said that the Bolsheviks were coming along that side of the river, and that they had guns with them – probably machine-guns, for the road there is impassable for field guns even. Anyhow this piece of news made us think a bit, and we sent a cavalry patrol out, which soon came back to say that they had been fired on from both sides of the road about one and a half versts out. The next thing that happened was that Capt. Shevtoff reported that he had seen men on the opposite bank of the river, and that a M.G. had fired across the river at one of our posts. The ‘wind’ was gradually getting higher and higher!

About six o’clock in the evening I was called up to my Aid Post to see one of the young Russian Artillery Officers, who had been wounded whilst coming back to the village from his O.P. He had a nasty shrapnel wound in the left shoulder, which I cleaned up, packed and dressed. Then I fixed him up comfortably in a drosky, and sent him off to Siskoe under the care of Turner, telling him to stop the night at Vymuga.

When I got back to H.Q. I found that Capt. Scott had decided to evacuate the village at dusk, in view of the threatening attitude of the Bolos. Then all was bustle getting all our stores loaded up on the droskies, and warning everybody for the evacuation. I took on the job of marshalling the carts, and seeing that they were properly loaded. It was an awful job keeping them together, for the drivers had the ‘wind-up’ properly, and wanted to go off back to Teogra on their own. I sent my own carts and R.A.M.C. men on ahead to Teogra to choose a decent house for a hospital. Woods said that he knew of a fine house there, so I left it to him.

Capt. Merchant and his marines were detailed to stay behind, and man the trenches outside Seletskoe till 11 p.m. and then withdraw to Teogra. A party of thirty Americans was left behind too to guard the river bank.

We moved off at 9 o’clock, the artillery leading, and the Royal Scots bringing up the rear. It was a lovely moonlight night, and all was quiet when we left the village. Nearly all the villagers came along with us. Our column was a very long one, and included besides our own troops and transport, many cows, horses, dogs, cats, women and children.

We reached the large bridge across the river Teogra about 4 versts from the village itself, at 10.30 p.m. and there held a council of war. At last we decided to destroy the bridge, but how to do so was the next difficulty that arose. The hair-brained Russian officer attached to the Americans suggested blowing it up with two Mills bombs! Then somebody else had a brain-wave, and suggested sawing it down! Finally we decided to burn the confounded thing. Two fires were started under the main props on our (the Teogra) side of the river, and one of the mounted orderlies was sent into the village to try and get some petrol or paraffin to help the burning process. We had to keep the fires down until the Marines got back. It was a cold night and we were all dead beat. We huddled round the fires, and many of us fell asleep before the marines arrived about 1.30 a.m. on the morning of the 17th. We got another blow when Merchant told us that a corporal and twelve of his men were missing. He stated that they were in one of the forward trenches and when he (Merchant) went forward himself to recall them at 11.30 p.m., he got no answer from them. Merchant also stated that he saw ‘huge numbers’ of creeping forms on the sky-line whom he took to be Bolsheviks. He said that he only got his men away in the nick of time, and told us that there had been a lot of firing on both sides right up till the time of withdrawal.

Well, we fired the bridge, and with the help of a tin of benzene, and another of petrol soon had it blazing away merrily. It was a wonderful sight, and I was loath to turn my back on it, and wend my weary way towards Teogra. The cracking of the huge logs of wood sounded like rifle shots, and until we realised what the noise was, we thought the Bolos. were close on our heels and having pot shots at us. Sgt. Samuels, the interpreter, got the ‘wind-up’ properly. He was mounted on a small pony. It took fright too, with the result that first Sgt. Samuels’ rifle came to ground, and then the Sergeant himself was landed in the ditch! I laughed heartily at the one and only comic episode of a tragic night.

Anderson and his men, plus twenty Americans, were left behind to guard the river crossing, and four French machine-guns with fifty Russians were posted to guard the Obozerskaya road junction. Scott and I trudged wearily back to Teogra just as dawn was breaking, feeling utterly fed-up with life. We found that our wonderful servants had got hold of an evil-smelling room in a dilapidated house as a mess and H.Q. combined, and that tea and biscuits were ready for us.”

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

15th September 1918 Sunday

Panic Ensues, but only Douglas Spots the Enemy Overhead

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.

“Sunday September 15th. Quite an exciting day. It all began about ten o’clock in the morning, when one of Capt. Merchant’s marines came galloping into the village mounted on a small pony, with a note to the effect that Bolsheviks had been spotted and fired on. Almost immediately after in galloped one of our cavalry scouts with the news that the enemy were in the woods about three versts from the village, and that one of his comrades had been fired on and his horse killed.

At this point of the proceeding Scott ordered the alarm to be sounded – the church bell rung vigorously. What a scene followed! All the drosky-drivers ran pell-mell for their carts, and got ready to bolt at a moment’s notice. The peasants came rushing out of their houses to see what was the matter. As soon as they heard the news an awful moaning arose. Women rushed out into the fields to bury their valuables, and bring their sheep and cattle back to the village. It was a sad sight.

The Americans went out to man the trenches that had been dug just outside the village, and extra French machine-guns were put into positions on the hill above the village. Cavalry patrols were sent out to patrol the roads behind the village, and some came back with the report that they had heard rifle shots in the direction of Teogra! This put the ‘wind-up’ us, for we wondered if we had been surrounded. A party of Royal Scots was sent along to reinforce the outpost on the bridgehead near Teogra. Later we discovered that the firing heard by the patrol was the firing in front of us at Seletskoe!

I procured two carts, and got my stores loaded up ready to move off at a moment’s notice. I heard several bursts of M.G. fire about 10.30 a.m., and again about one o’clock. I took a walk up the road to the top of the hill overlooking the Bolshevik positions, but could see nothing unusual. I heard a few isolated rifle shots from the direction of the woods about half a mile off. There were no casualties up till one o’clock. The M.G. fire increased considerably in the afternoon, and Scott and Jerome had a pretty hot time going round the advanced posts. They had to do a good deal of ‘stomach’ work!

About four o’clock in the afternoon a Bolshevik aeroplane came over flying very low. Nobody seemed to realise that it was an enemy plane, with the result that it had a good look round without being fired at! I spotted at once that it was not a British machine by the markings on the wings – red outer ring with dirty bluey-white centre – and told Capt. Merchant so, but he took no action.

Soon after it had gone two enemy field guns opened fire on our advanced posts, but without doing any damage. Then our guns started firing, and soon there was a regular ‘battle’ as the Americans would say, in progress. The peasants had the ‘wind up’ properly, and one drosky driver dropped down dead in the street from fright. I had to give the good lady of our house a tot of rum, as she was bordering on hysterics. We gave her permission to send her children off to another village for safety. Everything quieted down at dusk. During the day we rounded up eight spies – seven men and a woman – and sent them down to Siskoe under escort.”

A Red Army Nieuport 21

Probably the type of aircraft spotted by Douglas. A Red Army Nieuport 21. http://wio.ru/ww1a/n-gal.htm

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

14th September 1918 Saturday

Boring Fishing, Dodgy Boating and Salmon at 48p a kilo

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.

“Saturday September 14th, 1918. In the afternoon I went down to the river – the Emtsa – with Turner and Wood, two of my R.A.M.C. orderlies, to do a bit of fishing. We rigged up a Heath-Robinson fishing rod with a long pole, a piece of string, and a bent pin, and after a long hunt dug up two anaemic-looking worms. But we had no luck, and after about five minutes of it I got tired of the sport ?, and discovering a canoe, decided to go for a sail. Turner came with me. As the current was very swift, we had some difficulty in navigating the old tub, but managed to keep ourselves afloat. Two Rusky boys came down to fish, and had hardly been on the scene five minutes before they caught a fine big fish. What it was I know not, but it looked like a mackerel.

2/Lt. Jerome, a Royal Scots officer, joined us today. Also twenty Frenchmen, and thirteen mules with six limbers. The villagers turned out in force to gape at these wonderful animals. They had evidently never seen one before. It was good to hear the beasts ‘hee-hawing’ again!

We got news that Lt. Col. Henderson, Black Watch, was on his way up from Archangel to command our little force.

Antofioff brought in a fine, big salmon at night, which we bought for 165 roubles – 11 roubles (4/7d.) per pound!

The only other event of importance during the day was that we put the time back an hour and a half.”

The concept of Daylight Saving Time was still in its infancy during the First World War.

Rowing on the Dwina

Rowing on the Dwina

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

13th September 1918 Friday

Nothing much happened except …

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.

“Friday, September 13th. The only event of importance today was the arrival from Obozerskaya of a party of about two hundred Americans with seven officers, including a medical officer – Lt. Little – and a Russian officer, who was supposed to be an interpreter, but could talk neither English or French! They were all very tired after their three days’ trek. The C.C. – Capt. Donoghue was a red-headed Irish-American, and later on proved himself to be a great fighter, thus winning the D.S.O.  Lt. Little, the doctor, was another of the best, and he and I soon became good friends. These two were two of the few ‘real’ Americans out here. The others were a mixture of Huns, Austrians, Poles, Russians etc. – the scum of the earth – full of Bolshevism, and hopeless as fighters. Time and again they let us down badly, not only the men, but the officers, by running away in the face of the enemy. If this had happened in the British Army the offenders would have been promptly shot, but the wonderful Americans ? of the N.R.E.F. were lavishly decorated with Military Crosses and military medals by a very soft and diplomatic British G.H.Q.

The American troops were the first, and always the worst offenders at selling canteen and Government stores. One caught them frequently in the market-place selling tobacco, jam etc. to the Russians, and making huge profits out of their transactions. I’m told that up on the railway they even went out to the Bolshevik lines at night and sold to the enemy canteen stores.

But they were by no means the only offenders in this respect. Our own R.A.M.C. men were very bad. In a month’s time only about 300 roubles was paid out to the men, yet at the end of the month there was a profit of 3000 roubles in the canteen!

The big ‘wigs’ at G.H.Q. were worse than anyone at one time. They used to barter whole cases of whisky for furs, and if one went into their offices on business, very little business was ever done – the whole talk seemed to be on bartering.

About this time the great canteen store scandal came to light. Several hundreds of thousands of pounds’ worth of stores were sent out here about the same time as we came out. They were all dumped on the quay at Bakharitza, with one officer – Major Lynch – and one N.C.O. to look after them! Russian guards were provided to look after them, and they, with the help of the dock-labourers, had a fine time especially amongst the whisky! Then American, British, and French guards were put on, but still the wholesale plundering went on, and practically every night when the guards were relieved they were found to be hopelessly drunk. This went on till about £500,000 worth of stores – mostly whisky – had been stolen. Then the remainder was moved into sheds surrounded by barbed wire, and the thieving on a large sale stopped. Of course the whole thing was the fault of the authorities for not sending out a proper staff to look after the stores. The result was that it was almost the end of October before we poor unfortunates ‘up the line’ got any canteen supplies at all. For seven long weeks we lived on ‘hard tack’ – bully beef, maconochie, biscuits (extra hard), jam (not very much), tea and sugar – nothing else, except what we were able to buy from the poor peasants in the way of an occasional egg, or bit of black, evil-smelling, and equally evil-tasting bread. In all that time we got no cigarettes or tobacco ration either. Luckily I had brought up with me a good supply of both, which managed to keep we four officers going, on short rations. But the men were reduced to smoking hay or moss in their pipes, or rolled up in a bit of any old newspaper! It was very hard luck on the men, for they had to endure great hardships, and we all know how a cigarette or pipe soothes one after a particularly strenuous time.”

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

12th September 1918 Thursday

Dodgy Dentistry Suspect Diagnosis and Buried Food!

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 Thursday morning, 12th September, I saw a large number of sick, mostly Russians. As I had no interpreter with me, had great difficulty in diagnosing their complaints. Three wanted teeth extracted, but by the time the third man’s turn came he had got the ‘wind-up’ at hearing the agonised yells of the other two, and he wouldn’t face the music at any price!

A young woman drove in from Ripalova (about eight versts off on the other side of the river) to consult me. As far as I could make out by means of signs, I thought that she had a pain in the stomach, so gave her a dose of chlorodyne, which pleased her so much, that she immediately produced an empty bottle from her pocket, which I filled up with a very weak mixture of chlorodyne and water. She departed mightily pleased.

I evacuated one Royal Scot and two Russian soldiers to Siskoe. The Royal Scot was suffering very badly from rheumatism. One of the Ruskies was half-mad. He had been in an asylum for many years, and had been liberated at the time of the Revolution. The other Rusky was practically blind.

Sergt. Samuels, our interpreter, held a mass meeting of drosky drivers in the forenoon, and told them that they would be shot if they attempted to run away from us. That’s the stuff to give ‘em!

We managed to purchase thirty-four eggs, and eight round cheeses like footballs for our little mess. The eggs cost a rouble each.

We found a lot of stores – flour, tea etc. – which had been buried in a field just outside the village by Col. Haselden to prevent them falling into the hands of the Bolsheviks.”

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

11th September 1918 Wednesday

Old Old Men, Some over Sixty Years of Age! And a Russian Hero Aids the Allies.

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.

“Wednesday, September 11th, was another fine, sunny day. I attended to a few British and French sick in the morning, but there was nothing seriously the matter with any of them.

The drosky drivers threatened to go on strike, but Antofioff soon settled them. They wanted more food, and no wonder, for at present they only get five biscuits, and half a tin of bully each, and a tin of Maconochie between eight with a little tea and sugar per day. We increased the rule to six biscuits, and a whole tin of bully each per day. I never saw such a motley crew as these drivers of ours. There were old, old men – some over sixty years of age – with great bushy beards; young boys – the youngest (little Tich, who drove my cart) aged ten; and a fair sprinkling of women, young and old. They did their job very well, and we should have been absolutely helpless without them.

They got no pay – only their rations, and food for their horses. We bought hay in the villages. Capt. Scott had a few thousand roubles given to him for this purpose before he left Archangel.

 But a word about Antofioff. He was a native of Teogra, and had been of great use to Col. Haselsden earlier on in the campaign. He was a man of about thirty, and always carried a huge gilt sword at his side. He attached himself to us at Teogra, and Capt. Scott put him in charge of the transport. He helped us a great deal and but for him we would never have kept our transport together. We were never able to get enough carts from one village for our purpose, so that we had to enrol them from different villages all over the country. These people were always wanting to get away back to their homes, and in then we had to arrange a system of weekly reliefs.

At night three R.A.M.C. men arrived to help me. They brought up medical panniers, blankets and stretchers with them, for which small mercies I was truly thankful.

During the day we dug a system of trenches around the village and got our guns into position. In the night some of our rag-time drosky people departed so we decided to put a guard on the rear end of the village to stop this in future.”

Lt. Anderson in centre, with Colonel Shevtoff (left), and another Russian officer, in Seletskoe.

Lt. Anderson in centre, with Colonel Shevtoff (left), and another Russian officer, in Seletskoe.

If you’re wondering what Maconochie was this blog post gives a good idea.

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

10th September 1918 Tuesday

Captain Page’s Hospital and a Returned Machine Gun

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.

“It was again warm and sunny on Tuesday, September 10th. In the house next door to the doctor’s place I established a small hospital. It had been used for Bolshevik sick, and was in a filthy condition. There were six rooms in the house, with six iron beds, and mattresses, which were full of dirt, and bugs.

I had a walk around the village in the afternoon, and got a splendid view from the top of the small hill behind the village. All around me I could see nothing but miles and miles of forest. There were many women working in the fields reaping the crops in good old-fashioned style.

I got a message from Capt. Daw. R.A.M.C. to say that he was stationed at Siskoe for the purpose of evacuating any wounded or sick to Archangel by boat. We heard that 2/Lt. Heath of the 2/10th Royal Scots had arrived there too to act as Commandant of the place.

Capt. Norman left us in the evening for Yemetskoe en route for ‘C’ Force once more.

During the day one of the villagers bought in one of the Royal Scots’ Lewis guns, which the Bolsheviks had forgotten to take with them.”

My first hospital at Seletskoe, with my three excellent R.A.M.C. orderlies. The flag was made out of an old linen sheet which we found in the house, and the cross was painted on with a concentrated solution of Condy’s Fluid. Later on one of the women in the village made us a beautiful Red Cross flag.

My first hospital at Seletskoe, with my three excellent R.A.M.C. orderlies. The flag was made out of an old linen sheet which we found in the house, and the cross was painted on with a concentrated solution of Condy’s Fluid. Later on one of the women in the village made us a beautiful Red Cross flag.

Condy’s Fluid was a purple liquid patented by Henry Bollmann Condy in 1857. It had a multitude of uses. Taken internally it could prevent or treat scarlet fever, but used externally it could disinfect water and be used as what we would call today an air freshener.

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

9th September 1918 Monday

A Trail of Rape, Pillage and Murder

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 September 9th, was another, bright sunny day. We were up early again, and moved off about 9 o’clock for Seletskoe. Lt Anderson with his platoon went on ahead. I went along with the main column. At the Obozerskaya road-junction we left a small out-post of Russians. The Bolsheviks had attempted to destroy the large, substantial, wooden bridge across the River Teogra, but hadn’t made much impression on it.

We entered Seletskoe (pronounced Seltsoe) about noon. Everywhere we saw signs of the recent Bolshevik occupation – windows smashed, and the interiors of houses wrecked. The villagers were overjoyed to see us, and gave us a hearty welcome. The Mayor told us that a French officer, belonging to Col. Haselden’s force, whom the Bolsheviks had taken prisoner, had been horribly mutilated by them. They cut off his ears, and nose, gouged out his eyes, and cut out his tongue, leaving him to die by the road-side. He was buried by the village priest, and for doing this the unfortunate priest was shot by the murderous villains. Nearly all the women in the village had been violated by these brutes, who also carried off with them the wife, and two young daughters of the village post-master. All food and money, and many cows, sheep and hens had been stolen, and the church broken into and robbed of its valuables.

We heard that Col. Haselden with his little force had arrived safely at Kholmogorskaya on the railway, after a most trying time in the forest.

Inside the little chapel in the churchyard we found two dead Bolsheviks. They had been wounded, and were absolutely naked. We buried them rather unceremoniously in the church-yard.

Some of the villagers told us that they had seen the Bolsheviks bring five British prisoners into the village a few days ago, and that the Bolsheviks had taken them into the forest one day, and had come back without them, but carrying their clothes. We could find no trace of them anywhere.

Capt. Shevtoff’s men were on outpost duty outside the village, and brought in two Bolshevik prisoners in the afternoon. They were pitiful objects – pale, thin and unshaven. They were only boys, and looked half-starved. Their clothes were ragged and torn. They wore no socks, and their boots were full of holes. They told us that they had got lost in the forest, and had been wandering about for days without food, and that the Bolsheviks opposite us numbered twelve hundred. They broke down completely after Capt. Shevtoff’s examination and wept like children. They said that they didn’t know why they were fighting against us, and blessed us for saving them.

The Bolsheviks left stacks of propaganda papers in all the houses printed in English and French, urging our troops not to fight against them, but to return to their homes and leave Russia to manage for herself. Russia for the Russians!

Seletskoe was a long, straggling village of three thousand inhabitants, with a large expanse of fertile land all around, and the River Entsa forming the eastern boundary. We occupied the second flat of a large house, and were very comfortable. I discovered the local doctor’s house which contained an excellent surgery and dispensary. But the Bolsheviks had destroyed many of the drugs and instruments. I was told that the local doctor had gone to Archangel about a month ago with four thousand roubles belonging to the village, with which to purchase drugs etc., but had not been heard of since! However, I saw his assistant – unqualified – and got his permission to use the drugs in the dispensary.

In the evening our cavalry arrived – some twelve or fourteen Russians but no horses! The Russian officer in charge was a queer-looking fellow, with red breeches, a Norfolk jacket, big top-boots, and huge spurs!

Whilst we were at supper a weeping woman came in to tell us that the Bolsheviks had stolen everything from her, including a cow. She wanted us to give her another cow there and then! Poor old Capt. Scott had a lot of this sort of thing to deal with, and it took us a long time to impress upon the ignorant people that we were not a travelling ‘Harrods Stores’!”

Seletskoe Church

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

8th September 1918 Sunday

Red Army v. Red Bugs

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.

“Next day – Sunday September 8th – we were up early, and moved off shortly after 8 a.m. It was a rag-time cavalcade – Royal Scots, French and Russians with over fifty carts, and the two guns bringing up the rear. Some of the horses pulling the guns were mounted by women! The road was hilly, and at some parts we had difficulty with the guns. There was dense forest on each side of the road all the way, Capt. Scott passed us in a swift drosky, and with four mounted White Guards riding behind – the General’s escort!

We eventually reached Teogra about midday. Teogra consisted of a group of three small villages of the usual type, and about a verst apart. The centre village contained the church. With the French we occupied the most southerly village – that nearest the enemy! – whilst the Russians and artillery remained in the centre one. The Bolsheviks had dug a series of shallow trenches just outside the centre village. They had evidently decided to make a stand, but got the ‘wind up’ when they heard of the Allied victory at Obozerskaya.

Capt. Du Pay went off on his own in the afternoon to Seleskoe, and sent back a message in the evening to the effect that he had reached that place, and could find no signs of the Bolsheviks at all.  One of our planes flew over too, and reported one enemy cart entering Seleskoe. This was Capt. Du Pay! What if the aviator had dropped a bomb on him!

All the houses in Teogra had been looted by the enemy before they left, and all food stolen from the poor peasants. We billeted ourselves in an empty house, which was in a filthy condition, and full of bugs – great, big red fellows. And they didn’t forget us at night either!

I took a walk along the river bank in the afternoon. Quite a considerable area of country around Teogra was under cultivation, and in the warm sunshine everything looked very nice.”

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

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