The British, who wished to prevent Bolshevik approaches towards India, were able to dominate the region for 6 months, until they decided to pull out. During questions and answers following Owen’s presentation, it was learned that John Palmer, a RTHS member, has a taped interview with his father, who was part of a 1919 expeditionary force that went to North Russia to recapture Allied supplies.
The meeting was held in the Carriage Shed at the Mill in Manotick.
RTHS Director and retired National Defence archivist, Owen Cooke is author of The Canadian Military Experience 1867: a Bibliography. Among Owen’s contributions to various projects and publications is his chapter on “Canadian Airmen and Allied Intervention in North Russia, 1918-19” in the book Canada and the Great War: Western Front Association Papers. The experiences of these airmen were the subject of Owen’s presentation to the Society.
Owen began by reviewing the situation at the outbreak of World War 1, a war in which Canada was automatically involved as part of the British Empire. Using a PowerPoint presentation, as well as slide images, he described how the Allies initially tried to shore up the ill-equipped Russian forces through military missions to Russia. Following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, Allied interventions continued in the Russian Civil War of 1917-21, a war with few pitched battles. Owen described the experiences of more than 60 Canadian airmen who flew in this bitter war. He showed pictures of some of these men and their airplanes, explaining the problems encountered, such as attempting to use water cooled engines in an Arctic environment.
Owen Cooke, Bob Morrison, Bill Tupper, and Doug Culham following the questions and answers at the end of the meeting.
Owen connected his presentation to the local community by asking Bob Morrison to speak about the diary of his father, who volunteered to fight the Bolsheviks in the Caspian Sea area. The diary relates, for example, how the British converted a Russian ship into a seaplane tender, which lowered the planes into the sea and hoisted them back on board.
Canadians Flying in North Russia, 1918
Presenter: Owen Cooke
Article by Maureen McPhee & Susan McKellar