Sep 30, 2021 - Sale 2580

Sale 2580 - Lot 289

Price Realized: $ 3,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 600 - $ 900
(WORLD WAR ONE.) Group of photographs from the "Polar Bear Expedition" which fought the Bolsheviks in northern Russia. 107 unmounted photographs, each about 3 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches, most captioned in negative, but uncredited; lightly curled, minimal wear. With 4 related Real Photo postcards. Russia, April to June 1919 and undated

Additional Details

In September 1918, the United States sent about 5,000 troops to the northern Russian port of Arkhangelsk, in a British-led effort to support the White Russians against the Red Bolsheviks who had seized control of Russia. This small contingent was officially known as the American Expeditionary Force, North Russia--or, more commonly, the Polar Bear Expedition. They saw substantial combat; public support for their deployment plummeted after the November 1918 armistice with Germany. They began their withdrawal in June 1919, and were gone from Russia by 5 August.

These photographs are about evenly divided between military and civilian views. Several of the scenes depict the American 310th Engineer Battalion; others show the defensive line at Kurgomin; the "Michigan Barracks" at Arkhangelsk; marching in formation to the "Army-Navy Game"; and a Memorial Day parade through the streets of Arkhangelsk (illustrated). A small number show British or Canadian troops. Probably the most famous member of the North Russian Expeditionary Force was a British officer, Ernest Shackleton, just a couple of years after his heroic escape from Antarctica. We don't see Shackleton in these photos, but the noted commander of the White Russian forces, Yevgeny Miller, can be seen addressing his troops--the only individual named in any of the captions. Civilian scenes from in and near Arkhangelsk ("Archangel") range from the city's cathedral to Laplanders with reindeer teams. A fascinating glimpse of the little-known and short-lived American occupation of Russia.