1/9th Battalion in Russia 1919

The 1/9th Hampshires were originally a Cyclists Battalion of the Territorial Army having recruited from Southampton; however soon after mobilisation they had got rid of their bicycles.

By the end of 1918, having spent most of the war in India, comprising of 32 officers and 945 other ranks, with the commanding officer Lt Col Robert Johnson they were sent as reinforcements for the British in Russia. They arrived in Vladivostok on the 28th November in order to be equipped with the clothing necessary for a Russian winter.

They then left for Omsk in the middle of Siberia to relieve the 25th Middlesex. The journey of over 4,000 miles in cattle trucks which had been roofed in and given a stove took 23 days Omsk, arriving on the 7th January 1919.

The Battalion stayed in Omsk all winter, with temperatures reaching 50º centigrade at times. During this 5 month stay, the War Office refused to allow Colonel Johnson to take his Battalion into action, hence one of Johnson’s main problems was keeping his men occupied. He introduced ice-hockey, held 3 dances a week for his men, and got them into amateur theatricals.

The Battalion was ordered to move to Ekaterinburg in the Urals, where it was essential in the formation of the Anglo-Russian Brigade, commanded by British officers but made up of Russian peasants.

Finally, the 1/9th were withdrawn from Ekaterinburg early in August 1919. Orders were received that they were to go to Vladivostok and from there would be transported home. The Battalion arrived back in Southampton December 5th 1919, with only 3 men having been wounded and one killed while in Russia.