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Serbian Volunteers Corps in Russia

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  • Serbian Volunteers Corps in Russia

    At the beginning of the First World War, many Serbian people from Bosnia,Croatia and elsewhere were sent in war against Serbia and Russia.
    Many have not returned. Many of them immediately after arrival at the front turnover to to the Serbian and the Russian army.
    Some fought in the Imperial Russian Army and earned the medals, some after the disintegration of the army stayed in Russia and fought or joined the Red Army..Others were sent to Serbia and fought in Salonika.

    Following a single document, the application for pension for participating in Red Revolution written half a century ago, addressed to COMMITTEE FOR MONUMENTS October Revolution / Historical Archives CKSKJ / BELGRADE, I have tried to open the door of this history chapter and find out where Serbian soldiers all went and what they all passed.
    Today some of their descendants know something about it but most of world and even Serbian people do not know anything.
    This was a great history lesson for me,in which I learned something very interesting,and I hope it's will be interesting for you too. It's my translation of accounts and some history articles

    So as I already mentioned World War I was a big turning point in the history of Serbian people. Contrary to their will, the Serbs from the territory of Austria-Hungary found themselves on the Eastern and Southern fronts. Not wanting to fight for the interests of the Hapsburg monarchy against the Slavic and Orthodox Russia, many Serbs and other Slavs,surrender to Russian and Serbian armies,and joined their ranks as volunteers.

    The largest number of prisoners were located in the territory of Ukraine. Their center was in prison camp near Kiev,Darnici. Apart from Kiev, tens of thousands of prisoners of Serbs and other Slavs was located in Odessa,Kharkov and Yekaterinburg. The desire of these prisoners was to fight on the side of the Serbian army,and Russian government accepted. The agreement with the Serbian government was signed in the summer of 1915.
    They began moving organized volunteers from the Ukraine,across Danube in Serbia. By the end of August 1915 in Serbia were transferred about 3500 volunteers. The entry of Bulgaria into the war on the side of the Central Powers in October 1915, however, prevent further transfer of volunteers in Serbia.
    Gathering volunteers in Ukraine, which in these circumstances more decisively wanted to fight within the Serbian army,has continued despite the broken ties with the Serbian command.Centre of gathering has become the city of Odessa.

    There in organized gathering of the volunteers a major role had a Serbian Consul Mark Cemovic and a representative of the Serbian government Milan Sainovic. In Odessa in November 1915 The Serbian Volunteer Detachment was formed, which at the beginning of 1916 had about a thousand soldiers and officers. Accepting the request of the Serbian government to form a real volunteer unit, the Russian high command in accordance with Tsar Nicholas II allowed the Serbs, and with them other Yugoslavs who were in detention camps in Russia, to be added to regional military commands, and be under the leadership of the Serbian army officers,and to make an integral part of Serbian Army in Russia.

    First Serbian Volunteer Division was formed on 16 April 1916 in Odessa. Its strength was close to 10,000 volunteers, and Colonel Stevan Hadzic became a commander


    During May 1916 the Serbian volunteers in Odessa were visited by Nikola Pasic, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Serbia.By decision of Russian supreme command, the first Serbian Volunteer Division was included in the composition of the 47th Russian Corps and sent to the front of Dobruja. The strength of this of this division was close to 20,000 volunteers at the time (458 officers and 15.535 soldiers,plus training and reserve troops)

    In combination with the Russian and Romanian troops in battles against the Bulgarian, Turkish and German forces, which lasted from 24 August to 16 October 1916, half of the division was thrown out of action. Over 2000 have lost their lives or were missing.In October 1916 Division was withdrawn in rear.Despite huge losses,the results were more than satisfactory, the flow of volunteers allowed the formation of the Second Serbian Volunteer Division in Odessa,which numbered over 11 000 volunteers.

    In the fall of 1916 was formed a Serbian Volunteer Corps, whose commander was General Mihailo Zivkovic. On the eve of the February Revolution of 1917 in its composition was about 40 000 troops.Corps HQ was located in Odessa, headquarters of the First Division in Voznesensky, and the Second Division in Aleksandrovsk.
    In Odessa, on 17 April 1917 was started a "South Slavic" a newspaper which was published until 1918.It advocated for the creation of a unified South Slav state, with "possession of the entire territory of the South Slavs,inhabited since ancient times."

    Revolutionary mood among the troops within the Serbian Volunteer corps began to spread. The revolutionary movement became massive after the February Revolution of 1917,and by the end of March 1917,from lower officers came the initiative to create a military Soviets. The initiative was supported and encouraged by revolutionary Soviet Ukrainian population in the area between Odessa and Voznesenska, where they were stationed. Command tried to prevent the penetration of revolutionary ideas among the volunteers. In this sense, general Zivkovic, with the order of 18 April 1917 introduced Divisional,regimental and company meetings, with the intention to influence through them on the political mood in the units, but that achieved poor results.

    Soon supporters of the revolutionary movement decided to leave the Corps and join Red units. In the summer of 1917 The Volunteer Corps, in relation to the state before the February Revolution, was halved. It was about 20 000 soldiers.During the October Revolution of 1917 volunteers have actively participated in the fighting in the units of the Red Army.
    By the end of 1917 1st Serbian Volunteer Division was sent back to the front of Dobruja, but because of worsening situation they were withdrawn. 2nd Division,with parts of the 1st division, was sent through Arkhangelsk on the Salonika front, where it arrived in December of 1917. Part of the volunteers remained in Russia, where they found the outbreak of the Bolshevik Revolution. They are sent over the Dajren Siberia to the Far East, where British ships took them to the Salonika front, where they arrived on February 1918.
    So, on this front was found about 12 500 volunteers from Russia and Yugoslavia. They were part of the Allied forces involved in the breach of the Salonika front and freeing their homeland in 1918.

    Soon I will post an account from one soldier that joined Red Army.
    It is always more difficult to fight against faith than against knowledge.

    Косово је Србија!
    Never go to war with a country whose national holiday celebrates a defeat in 1389.

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  • #2
    Part II

    Samardžija Miloš,Serbian fighter in RKKA ranks.

    Before I joined the RKKA,I was in the First Serbian Voluntary Division, which was formed in Odessa in Russia.With evacuation of volunteers from Russia,my second brigade of the First Division went over Siberia Prataburu(I don't know what that means,translator ),and when we arrived at the town of Krasnoyarsk,I stayed there and joined the detachment of the RKKA.After few days I with some fellow Russian troops moved to near city,Timsky,which is close and we continued service with Pamsky (I don't to translate that too) RKKA detachment. This was in January of 1918.

    In this place we remained until the month of June, and in this new unit the commander was Comrade Usjarov, and I was assigned to a mortar, and when Ataman Imenov appeared with his Cossacks from Manchuria,a new front was created.

    We,in our thin squad,moved in direction of Senisua Ataman, and I have left in memory that one day we started to fight in one of the municipal seats, Olovjano,and we were on one side of river Yenisei and they on the other.There was also a rail bridge, which was destroyed.During the night we fought with them over the river with rifles, machine guns and mortars,while they had guns and the battle lasted for over half night,and eventually they were forced to pull back. Our army next day passed the river on rafts and started to pursue the enemy. We were joined by Krasnoyarsk and Omsk detachments under the command of comrade Galjukov and with them have been also Lazar and Lovrov(he mentioned only that names,probably some famous RKKA fighters),we talked a lot about them,and I even saw them.I also remember that my company was under command of Miša Smokatin (very probably another Serb) who fought with us thought Manchurian front.

    We have fought with the enemy during the whole summer and autumn until winter,interestingly in the Imperial Army Simenovo(again unknown detail to me) were the Chinese,because we the found their dead bodies on battlefield when we finally pursued them across Manchurian border. Then we stayed for some time to refit in the town of Barzy and their army was in town of Cita. After a while our unit was transferred to Zabaykalsky front,where we began with much heavier fighting against the White Guard of Admiral Kolchak and Czechoslovakian legion on way to Vladivostok.

    With Czechoslovakians and White army we clashed again before the city of Irkmerski where we,outnumbered and badly supplied,rejected back and we had to pull in front of them with small battles all way up the town of Blagovesh and Chinese border. That's how I remember,in the winter 1919,we were still scattered in the villages around the city Blagovesh.I remember also that I was in the village of Ivanosvki and the Srednja Bela with a group of my fellow Russians, and there we stayed until the summer. When we were no longer able to hide, we moved to Vladivostok,where we were hiding around the city until the month of September 1919.

    In the month of September, we caught a link with some friends and with General Gajda (IMHO http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radola_Gajda)and army he secretly organized, and when collected and organized we struck into the city of Vladivostok, which was held by the Imperial Army General Rozanov. Under the counter attack of Cossacks and Whites,our assault was destroyed in the evening around 11 PM.They were also supported by Japanese army,who also bombarded with their ships.We got cut off on rail-road station during the night.

    At 4 hours after midnight, I was captured by Japanese soldiers as well as a number of my fellow Russians. We were locked up in a large building from which they took each night my friends and killed them.

    I and other 9 Yugoslavs were brought in military court and we were interrogated for two and half months. At that time in Vladivostok was located also a French army that took us from the Imperial Russian Army, we have heard that it happened on the intervention of our general Gajda. We were with French until March 1920 when we were handed over to Yugoslav command in Vladivostok, where we had to wait for evacuation in Yugoslavia.
    It is always more difficult to fight against faith than against knowledge.

    Косово је Србија!
    Never go to war with a country whose national holiday celebrates a defeat in 1389.

    Armored Brigade

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    • #3


      An image of Serbian soldiers and new released prisoners,all Slavs from Austria-Hungary.Probably in Odessa.



      New York Times caption say,Russian soldiers in Monastir.
      However given the fact that no Russian soldiers served in Macedonia in 1917/1918 IMHO,and French helmets,those are Serbs from Volunteers Corps that came from Russia.
      It is always more difficult to fight against faith than against knowledge.

      Косово је Србија!
      Never go to war with a country whose national holiday celebrates a defeat in 1389.

      Armored Brigade

      Armored Brigade Facebook page

      Comment


      • #4
        I shall correct myself, there were two Russian infantry brigades, the 2nd and 4th (about 20,000 men) with Allies on the Salonika Front.

        The first of these (2nd Brigade) arrived to Greece in August 1916 and initially operated together with the Serbian and French forces during Monastir offensive. The 4th Brigade arrived in Salonika from France in November 1916.

        By Spring 1917 there were the first signs of unrest and mutiny in the ranks. In June 1917 a detachment of 2,500 Russians, who had been previously stationed in Athens, were moved to Salonika to strengthen the reorganized Russian Division, which was then sent to the relatively calm Lake Prespa front area near Ohrid. But the mutinies continued, and by October the division was rendered virtually useless. It was dissolved in January 1918, with most of the men being repatriated by 1920, and last in 1923.

        Their story sounds interesting too.
        It is always more difficult to fight against faith than against knowledge.

        Косово је Србија!
        Never go to war with a country whose national holiday celebrates a defeat in 1389.

        Armored Brigade

        Armored Brigade Facebook page

        Comment

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