2nd Hampshire in Russia – 1919

Demobilisation started in the last days of 1918, as part of this the 2nd Hampshire were being detailed for reduction to cadre, a small group of people specially trained for a particular purpose.

However, the 2nd Hampshire was soon to be needed once more. It was called on to aid British intervention in North Russia. On the evening of May 15th, the Battalion sailed from Tilbury, rounding the North Cape and calling in at Murmansk on May 20th, moving to Archangel the following day. Emphasis of their arrival took the form of several ceremonial parades.

However, the troops were needed, and on June 2nd they were loaded into barges and sent up the River Dwina to Bereznik, arriving June 5th. Then, the Hampshires, the 238th French Mortar Battery and half a company of the 8th Battalion of the Machine-Gun Corps were sent further up river to Kurgoman.

It was decided that the Bolshevik positions at Topsa and Troitsa were to be attacked. The 2nd Hampshires positioned themselves East of Troitsa to threaten the enemy’s retreat from Topsa which the White Russians were attacking. However, the Hampshires advance was hampered when they met a considerable Bolsheviks force and machine-gun fire. Colonel Kelly, therefore, called off the attack, and was able to avoid the enemy’s attempt to surround his column. Even so, the White Russians were still able to capture Topsa, taking 500 prisoners.

The next day, Captain Berkeley, with 150 rifles, attempted to work round the enemy’s inland flank. However, Berkeley decided not to press the attack after he met a strong enemy force, protected by nearly 300 yards of bog.

The Hampshires were then transferred to Ust Pinega following a mutiny in a White Russian battalion posted there. The 2nd Hampshire was ordered to make a raid on some Bolshevik blockhouses on August 17th, which Kelly protested as ‘serving no purpose.’ On August 22nd he was duly relived of his command, being replaced by Lt Colonel MacLeod.

Again, the 2nd Hampshire were moved to the Pinega, where it worried the enemy by sending out frequent patrols which threatened the enemy’s communication.

British troops were now being removed from North Russia and the Battalion was on its way back to England by September 27th.