Gone to Russia to Fight: The RAF in South Russia 1918-1920
Anatomy of a Soldiers Journey
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Gone to Russia to Fight: The RAF in South Russia 1918-1920
May be ex-library. Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. John T. Publisher: Amberley Publishing , This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Synopsis About this title The Russian civil war was one of the major events of the last century, leading to the establishment of the Soviet Union. Review Buy Used View Book. Customers who bought this item also bought. Stock Image. Published by Amberley Used Paperback Quantity Available: 1. Seller Rating:.
Published by Amberley Publishing For this reason the British often found themselves fighting in the Civil War, particularly the RAF, who were not as yet bound by being part of the British Mission and whose 47th Squadron, sent to Russia from Salonika, were a fighting unit rather than a training one. Add to that a number of air aces who volunteered and it was inevitable that the British would take to the skies Kopisto,p. Sopwith Camel, c Unknown RAF photographer.
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Elsewhere I have mentioned that each flight had their own armoured train in this Railway War. This was a mobile base complete with workshops and supplies.
The procedure was for the senior pilot to fly down the track until an area beside the track which was suitable as a landing strip was found. The pilot would land and wait for the train which could take hours or days. When the train with the mobile base arrived the Flight could commence flying missions Wright,p. So to speak. The pilots role was reconnaissance and bombing. In the summer and autumn C and then B Flights would dominate the skies of South East Russia, playing an important part under the direct command of the dashing General Wrangel in taking Tsaritsyn later renamed Stalingrad.
The Bolsheviks were determined to re-take this key city, which would be devastated a number of times in this war and in others, and A Flight, which arrived in Tsaritsyn in October, along with B and C Flights, were essential to supporting Wrangel and bombing the Bolshevik advance on the River Volga.
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Wrangel, being a well brought up fellow, sent them a thank you letter for their support and also awarded Collishaw the Cross of St. Stanislaus 2nd class with swords Gunn, p. In every street bodies, animal and human, lay rotting…in the rubbled street with their shattered houses our whispers came back to us in hollow echoes. People staggered through doorways into the sun, and sat witlessly picking at their rags of clothes. Starving children looked at us blankly. In such a place in seemed sacrilege to be alive Aten, p.
Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War
B flight in their Camels would engage in air battles with the Bolshevik fighters and while they claimed there must have been German air aces among the Red Army because some of them were so good they could not have been Russian, the British maintained the upper hand Kopisto, p. The collapse of the White Army front in the ensuing months meant the RAF was forced to retreat too but they continued to fly missions supporting the Whites until March of At home, the more involved the RAF became, the more overt their participation was and the British were becoming less enthusiastic about being part of the offensive.
There was pressure to make the RAF part of the Military Mission which would mean withdrawing their pilots from combat. Nearly all of them did. One such tragedy occurred when one of A Flights planes was landing with engine trouble. The observer stood up as they were coming into land and the pocket of his coat caught on the bomb toggle dropping a bomb directly beneath them and blowing their wings off, dumping the fuselage on the ground and detonating the rest of their bombs, killing both men. Being inclined to bang into walls and get caught on doors and the like, that is the sort of chilling accident I can identify with.
Mitchell is at the top right. Click to embiggen image. Another story captures all the precariousness, adventure and freewheeling spirit of flying in the early days of aviation. Around the time Tsaritsyn fell to the Whites, in the Summer of , two DH9s took off on a reconnaissance mission.
Because of the heat, the crews, a captain and observer in each craft, were dressed only in shorts and shirts. One of the planes sustained ground fire which holed its fuel tank.
The observer, a Lieutenant Mitchell, climbed out onto the wing and plugged the leak with his thumb. The second plane was put out of action by more ground fire and forced to land at which point a unit of Bolshevik cavalry bore down on them. The flight back to base took 50 minutes.
The White Falcons: the White Air Forces
The retreat of A flight and B Flight have been mentioned elsewhere. They would leave many of their supplies behind. Later, in Novorossiysk, at the height of evacuation, a number of Sopwith Camels, DH9s, RE8s and other aircraft would be deliberately crushed by a tank to prevent them getting into Bolshevik hands. The tank then committed hari kiri by waddling into the sea Wright, p. Collishaw flew for the last time on March 29th when he made a reconnaissance of the whole of the front line.
He confirmed that the Reds were about to launch an attack. That evening the last British ship left Novorossiysk with my granddad aboard Gunn, p. Kapisto, L. Kinvig, C. Occleshaw, m. Smith, J.