Mule Rearing African American Officers The pilots African American Soldiers 1 doughboys with mules gas masks Riveters pilots in dress uniforms
AEF Siberia

North Russia

 

Sideshow

in Russia

 

 

 

From 1918 through the beginning of 1920, the U.S. sent two separate and distinct forces on missions to Russia. The first of these, the American Expeditionary Force-Siberia, composed of 7,950 troops of the 12th, 13th and 62nd Infantry Regiments of the 8th Division, and the 27th and 31st Infantry Regiments, arrived on Russian soil on 15AUG1918 with the express purpose of assisting White Russian forces by guarding and operating the Trans-Siberian railway. Their mission was clear and well-defined and they suffered a total of 189 deaths before leaving Russia on 01APR1920. A full accounting exists for their troops during their time in theater with none missing in action and no bodies of those who died in theater unrecovered.

That was not so for the second force sent to Russia though. On 04SEPT1918, the American North Russia Expeditionary Force (now most commonly known as the ‘Polar Bears’), composed of some 500 troops from the 339th Infantry Regiment, the 310th Engineers, and other ancillary units – all of the 85th Division – landed at Archangel and began operations under a similar mission. Ostensibly they were a security force designed to assist the British and Czech forces there in the policing of the Soviet Red Army operating against White Russian supply lines. And while the mission of neither American unit in Russia was supposed to have been one of offensive combat, the ANREF nevertheless found themselves operating in such a role, and as such suffered battle losses. Following on their withdrawal from Archangel in early June, 1919, the official report of all casualties taken (as of that October) was 553, with 109 of those KIA, some 30 MIA and at least 4 POW’s.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the casualties suffered by the Polar Bears – and one indicative of things to come – was the disappearance of some of these listed as MIA who it was thought may have been taken prisoner by Red forces and never reported as such. Today, when one thinks of U.S. POW/MIA issues, one immediately thinks of the war in Vietnam. That conflict well illustrated the willingness of a Communist enemy to hang on to POW’s and MIA’s which they either held or had knowledge of to be used as bargaining chips to their advantage. However, our issues with returning POW’s and accounting for MIA’s in theaters associated with Communist regimes didn’t have their beginnings in Southeast Asia. Instead they have their antecedents in the very beginning of the Communist presence in Russian governance in 1918 and U.S. relations with them. It can be asserted that of the Polar Bears, more than the 4 men released by the Soviets had been taken prisoner, for as late as 1929 escapees to the west from the Soviet state were reporting having seen American army officers and men in Soviet prisons and concentration camps that had been there since the war. Most of the men who were suggested as having been in Soviet hands during that time (in very few cases were names ever known or remembered by those reporting these sightings) had long since been declared as Killed in Action-Body Not Recovered by the American government and thus were considered legally dead. Though overtures were made through the years by the U.S. government to gain an accounting for these men, the Soviets refused to cooperate until the United States recognized the Soviet government as the official governing body of Russia – which the U.S. was unprepared to do. The implication then was clear: only recognizance of the Soviets would lead to any accounting of U.S. service personnel that may, or may not, have been, or once been, in their hands. The Soviet modus operando for the next six decades had thus been set...

The disposition of the Missing in Action was still another matter, many of whom could have been located, though with effort. In the confused and often guerilla-style fighting effected there, burials of soldier dead were often hurried and makeshift, with both grave markers and location maps often improvised under something less than perfect circumstances. Adding to this, local citizens sympathetic to Red forces, as well as Red soldiers in the area, were known to have disinterred and moved individual bodies of U.S. soldier dead to mass graves. Deaths from wounds or disease swelled the numbers of missing even well behind the front lines when the harsh weather conditions of the region (heavy snow and high winds) would occasionally destroy visual evidence of a grave, sometimes even just overnight. Spring thaws produced large swells of rivers and streams as well, turning huge tracts of land to bogs into which graves would wash yards away from where they had originated in frozen ground. In the end, there were 4 POW’s released and 112 bodies of the dead and MIA brought home in June, 1919 following the return of the troops. After that, the Soviets refused to attempt any recovery of U.S. MIA or allow anyone else to do so.

Then in the fall of 1929, in a rare show of good faith, the Soviets permitted a mission composed of former Polar Bear personnel, working under the aegis of the American Legion, onto the former battlefields to search for their missing comrades. The expedition spent two months in the area and returned home in September of that year with 86 sets of remains, all identified to the best ability of those working under the primitive forensics of the times. The majority of these men were laid to rest in White Chapel Cemetery in Troy, Michigan, surrounding the impressive ‘Polar Bear Memorial’ built there and dedicated to them, while some went to France and were laid to rest in the Aisne-Marne American cemetery there. The 1929 expedition was followed, in 1934, by another expedition, which returned with a further 14 sets of remains; this following upon President Roosevelt’s official recognition of the Soviet government the year before, despite already rising tensions over which government would foot the bill for the ill-fated 1918-1920 American portion of the Allied intervention. Since that time there has been no further accounting for remaining U.S. North Russia MIA’s.

Listed here is a general accounting of the men returned in 1929, as well as a listing of those still known to be MIA in Northern Russia. (Those still MIA are also contained on the full list elsewhere on this site.) However, no full, official list of those men reported as returned in 1934 has turned up as yet and the manifest of those returned in 1919 was lost shortly after the return. There was also, at the time, some controversy concerning the actual identities of those returned in 1919. In fact, all of the ‘official’ listings for the North Russia Expeditionary Force casualties – those returned and those MIA – are, at best, inconsistent, and extended research into the issue is a project unto itself and will proceed alongside the continuing work on the full Doughboy MIA list.

 

 

Last Name, First Name Rank Unit Location of Remains
1929 Expedition
Agnew, John SGT Co. K, 339 INF Not known - Now at Meuse-Argonne Cemetery, France
Avery, Harley PVT Co. H, 339 INF Caska District, Omego River
Bayer, Harold C. PVT Co. F, 339 INF Local cemetery at Port of Archangel
Berger, Carl G. WGN SUP Co., 339 INF Shenkhurst District, Dvina River
Berryhill, Chester W. PVT Co. F, 339 INF Local cemetery at Port of Archangel
Boresen, John PVT Co. H, 339 INF Caska District, Omego River
Bosel, John J. PVT Co. C, 339 INF Cemetery in Vackozlovski District
Carter, William J. PFC Co. A, 339 INF Ploskoi District
Casey, Marcus T. 2LT Co. C, 339 INF Local cemetery at Port of Archangel
Cheeny, Roy D. CPL Co. C, 339 INF Cemetery in Vackozlovski District
Christian, Arthur PVT Co. L, 339 INF Woods along Leningrad Trail
Clements, Raymond C. PVT Co. C, 339 INF Cemetery in Vackozlovski District
Cole, Elmer B. PVT Co. A, 339 INF Shenkhurst District, Dvina River
Collins, Earl W. CORP Co. H, 339 INF Not known - Now at Brookwood Cemetery, England
Conrad, Rex W. CPL Co. F, 339 INF Near town of Kitsa
Cronin, Louis PVT Co. K, 339 INF Not known
Cuff, Francis W. 1LT Co. A, 339 INF Shenkhurst District, Dvina River
Cwenk, Joseph PVT Co. A, 339 INF Ploskoi District
D'Amici, Guiseppi PVT Co. A, 339 INF Shenkhurst District, Dvina River
Dusalbon, William H. PVT Co. L, 339 INF Local cemetery at Port of Archangel
Finnegan, Leo N. PVT Co. B, 339 INF Local cemetery at Port of Archangel
Foley, Morris J. PVT Co. B, 339 INF Cemetery in Vackozlovski District
Fuller, Alfred W. PFC Co. K, 339 INF Local cemetery at Port of Archangel
Gottschalk, Milton E. CPL Co. A, 339 INF Shenkhurst District, Dvina River
Graham, Claus PVT Co. H, 339 INF Caska District, Omego River
Gray, Alson W. CPL Co. K, 339 INF Selso Cemetery
Hanley, John T. PVT Co. I, 339 INF Local cemetery at Port of Archangel
Hodgeson, Frank L. PVT Co. M, 339 INF Local cemetery at Port of Archangel
Hutchinson, Alfred G. PVT Co. A, 339 INF Ploskoi District
Ida, James T. PVT 337 Amb. Co. Yemetskoe District
Jackson, Jesse C. PVT HQ Co., 339 INF Local cemetery at Port of Archangel
Jenks, Stillman V. PVT Co. A, 339 INF Ploskoi District
Kalkeska, Joseph PVT Co. I, 339 INF Local cemetery at Port of Archangel
Kiecz, Andrzci PVT Co. C, 339 INF Local cemetery at Port of Archangel - Now at Aisne-Marne Cemetery, France
Kistler, Herbert PVT Co. I, 339 INF Local cemetery at Port of Archangel
Knuzda, Peter PVT Co. B, 339 INF Cemetery in Vackozlovski District
Kowalski, Stanley PVT Co. A, 339 INF Ploskoi District - Now at Aisne-Marne Cemetery, France
Kurowski, Max J. PVT Co. A, 339 INF Ploskoi District
Kussrath, Charles A. PVT Co. A, 339 INF Ploskoi District
Ladovich, Nikodem PVT Co. C, 339 INF Vistafka District
Lemann, William J. PVT Co. A, 339 INF Shenkhurst District, Dvina River
Lemcione, Sebastian PVT Co. A, 339 INF Shenkhurst District, Dvina River
MacDonald, Angus PVT Co. E, 339 INF Local cemetery at Port of Archangel
Malm, Clarence A. PVT Co. G, 339 INF Local cemetery at Port of Archangel
Martin, William J. PVT Co. A, 339 INF Ploskoi District - Now at Aisne-Marne Cemetery, France
McTavish, Stewart M. PVT Co. A, 339 INF Ploskoi District
Meister, Emanuel A. SGT MG Co., 339 INF Selso Cemetery
Mueller, Frank J. PVT Co. E, 339 INF Local cemetery at Port of Archangel
NeGake, William W. PVT Co. H, 339 INF Caska District, Omego River
Neiml, Matti PVT Co. M, 339 INF Local cemetery at Port of Archangel
Nunn, Arthur PVT Co. M, 339 INF Local cemetery at Port of Archangel
O'Brien, Raymond A. PVT HQ Co., 339 INF Local cemetery at Port of Archangel
Ozdarski, Joseph S. PVT Co. L, 339 INF Woods along Leningrad Trail - Now at Aisne-Marne Cemetery, France
Patrick, Ralph M. PVT Co. A, 339 INF Shenkhurst District, Dvina River
Peyton, Edgar W. CPL Co. A, 339 INF Ploskoi District
Pitts, J.B. PVT Co. G, 339 INF Local cemetery at Port of Archangel
Powers, Ralph E. 1LT Co. A, 339 INF Shenkhurst District, Dvina River
Rauchenberger, Albert PVT Co. A, 339 INF Ploskoi District
Retherford, Lindsey PVT Co. A, 339 INF Ploskoi District
Richardson, Eugene E. PVT Co. H, 339 INF Caska District, Omego River
Richter, Edward PVT Co. H, 339 INF Caska District, Omego River
Ritchie, Augusta CPL Co. A, 339 INF Shenkhurst District, Dvina River
Rogers, Yates K. SGT Co. A, 339 INF Shenkhurst District, Dvina River
Roth, Russell A. PVT Co. A, 339 INF Ploskoi District
Russell, Archie PVT Co. A, 339 INF Ploskoi District
Sajnaj, Leo P. PVT Co. A, 339 INF Ploskoi District
Scruggs, Frank W. PVT Co. A, 339 INF Shenkhurst District, Dvina River
Shaughnessy, John S. PVT HQ Co., 339 INF Local cemetery at Port of Archangel
Silkaitis, Frank PVT Co. H, 339 INF Caska District, Omego River
Skagelus, Arthur PVT Co. C, 339 INF Vistafka District
Smith, George J. PVT Co. A, 339 INF Shenkhurst District, Dvina River
Staely, Glenn P. PVT Co. K, 339 INF Selso Cemetery
Steicher, Elmer E. COOK Co. C, 339 INF Vistafka District
Stier, Victor PVT Co. A, 339 INF Shenkhurst District, Dvina River
Syska, Frank PVT Co. D, 339 INF Village of Shegobarskaya
Szymanski, Louis A. PVT Co. C, 339 INF Cemetery in Vackozlovski District
Tamas, Stanley P. PVT Co. D, 339 INF Cemetery in Vackozlovski District
Tatrizycki, Sylvester PVT 337 Amb. Co. Local cemetery at Port of Archangel
Tegges, William J. PVT HQ Co., 339 INF Local cemetery at Port of Archangel
Vandermeer, John PVT Co. D, 339 INF Cemetery in Vackozlovski District
VanHerwynen, John PVT Co. D, 339 INF Cemetery in Vackozlovski District
Vojta, Charles J. PVT Co. K, 339 INF Not known - Now at Meuse-Argonne Cemetery, France
Wadsworth, William L. PVT Co. I, 339 INF Local cemetery at Port of Archangel
Wenger, Irwin PVT Co. C, 339 INF Not known
Williams, Edson A. PVT Co. A, 339 INF Ploskoi District
Zlotcha,Michael PVT Co. E, 339 INF Local cemetery at Port of Archangel - Now at Aisne-Marne Cemetery, France
2 ADDITIONAL BODIES FOUND MAY HAVE BEEN:
Weitzel, Henry R. PVT Co. C, 339 INF Cemetery in Vackozlovski District - Single body found/No positive ID
Hodge, Elmer W. PVT Co. C, 339 INF Cemetery in Vackozlovski District - Single body found/No positive ID
Yonker, Nicholas (Jonker?) PVT Co. C, 339 INF Cemetery in Vackozlovski District - Single body found/No positive ID
Unidentified body in uniform ? ? Town of Gallazux
CURRENTLY LISTED AS MIA
Asire, Myron J. PVT Co. A, 310 ENG
Babinger, William R. CPL HQ Co., 339 INF
Ballard, Clifford B. 2LT MG Co., 339 INF
Bloom, Elmer SGT Co. A, 310 ENG Drowned - body not recovered
Carter, James PVT HQ Co., 339 INF
Clark, Joshua A. PVT Co. C, 339 INF
Dargan, Arthur PVT Co. A, 310 ENG Drowned - body not recovered
Frank, Arthur PVT MG Co., 339 INF
Frucce, John PVT Co. H, 339 INF Unrecovered POW
Keefe, Thomas H. PVT Co. C, 339 INF
Kieffer, Simon P. PVT MG Co., 339 INF
Kissick, Thurman L. PVT Co. C, 339 INF
Lyttle, Alfred E. CPL Co. A, 310 ENG
Moore, Albert E. CPL Co. A, 339 INF
Peterson, August B. PVT Co. H, 339 INF
Ramotowske, Josef PFC Co. H, 339 INF
Schroeder, Herbert A. CPL Co. B, 339 INF
Scott, Perry C. CPL HQ Co., 339 INF
Sweet, Earl D. PVT Co. A, 339 INF
Taylor, Otto V. PVT Co. K, 339 INF
Van Deventer, George E. PVT Co. C, 339 INF
Wetershof, John T. PVT Co. B, 339 INF
Repatriated in 1919
Maybaum, Harold PVT Co. E, 339 INF
Austin, Floyd E. PFC Co. E, 339 INF
Etter, Frank M. SGT Co. C, 339 INF
Thompson, Henry PVT Co. A, 339 INF
Surran, Harold H. PVT Co. A, 339 INF