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1st Composite Battalion The Dorsetshire Regiment in North Russia

The First North Russia Relief Force

A Dorset Company In North Russia 1919

In 1917 the Russian Revolution started.  The country was in turmoil with the Bolsheviks (Communists) fighting the White Russians (Non-Communists).

In 1919 a composite company of the Dorsetshire Regiment volunteered to serve in North Russia to help relieve the troops who had been in Russia since the summer of 1918. These troops had been trying to stop the Bolsheviks from supplying the Germans with ammunition and military equipment.  The Dorsets came in to help the local Russians and also to advance to Kotlas to join up with thte Czech Division from Siberia who were fighting the Bolsheviks.

The Relief force from the 1st Battalion The Dorsetshire Regiment sailed in May 1919 as part of the 238 Special Brigade.  This was a composite battalion made up of men from the Somerset Light Infantry, the 2nd Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire Regiments on a promise of 2 months leave on return.  The Dorsets were known as Y Company. They disembarked in Bargs on 2nd June and travelled up the river Dwina to Kurgomen and relieved 339 United States Infantry.

The Battalion was involved in action to help the White Russians fight the Bolsheviks at Topsa-Trotza, but Y (Dorset) Company did not get involved in the attack.

Y Company made long, dreary marches up to 26th June in various areas helping the White Russians. Y Company became the rear guard for the British withdrawal on 17th September from Yentasa and then evacuated, leaving North Russia to its own devices on 27th September.  They reached Crowborough on 8th October and on two months leave.

It was remembered by those who served as a time of poor food – mainly bully beef and biscuits – mosquitoes and the growing cold on leaving.

Thus ended the Dorsets adventure; not much fighting but some experience of another strange country.