In his 2015 published in-depth book The Allied Intervention in Russia, 1918-1920: The Diplomacy of Chaos Ian C. D. Moffat charted the  Allied Powers of the First  World War ’s efforts to preserve Russian commitment to the war against the German Empire after the October Revolution, and their attempt to forestall the  Brest-Litovsk  Treaty. The author’s use of primary sources provides support to existing arguments such as the pervasive influence of the first world war on Russian intervention. Moffat skillfully demonstrates that at its conception, the intervention had very little to do with an ideological fight against Bolshevism but was rooted rather in strategic considerations of World War I. Aptly titled the Diplomacy of Chaos the book also highlights the discordant national interests of all the players involved.

Giving not only the French but also the British cabinet was in a quandary as to what to do about Russia after the indecisive, as they perceived it, Bolshevik seizure of power in October 1917 I pointed to The "Convention entre la France et l’Angleterre au sujet de Faction dans la Russie méridionale,"  signed by France and England on 23 December 1917, that early on reflected what could be said to be a policy of containment.

It established both the presence and the principle behind the use of "unofficial agents" in the quasi-diplomatic relationships thus far established with the Bolsheviks. The War Cabinet broadly interpreted the agreement to mean that all efforts were permitted "To prevent the transference of further (German) enemy troops from East to West" and, significantly, "To deny the resources of Russia and Siberia to the enemy."

It was also under this agreement that Foreign Office and British Intelligence MI1 (c) representative Robert Bruce Lockhart was sent back to Russia in February 1918 and that Francis Oswald Lindley and Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) Agent Henry Armitstead and Leslie Urquhart (a Siberian manganese magnate) later moved to obtain trade guarantees from the new Soviet government.

I also pointed out that the Allied stores at the Russian ports, supposedly in danger of falling into German hands, had but a small basis in reality. The true value of the stores to the Allied Governments lay in the fact that they could be used as a gigantic bluff to justify intervention to their citizens.

After March 1918 when British hopes were dashed and the Bolsheviks signed the humiliating treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany, Bruce Lockhart first decided to support the idea of an allied intervention without a Bolshevik invitation but still with an anti-German thrust. Yet then he went further and next backed the line, pushed by among others the French ambassador to Russia Josef Noulens.

Not without notice, the last fortnight of May, the Mensheviks, Right Social Revolutionaries, and Kadets all held party conferences that rejected the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, while a Social Revolutionary appeal called for an immediate armed uprising against the Bolsheviks. On 18 May some 400 Constituent Assembly deputies met together and condemned the treaty, declaring that the state of war with the Central Powers continued to be in place.


The Anti-Bolshevik Underground

The political reality of 1918 was that Russia had been radicalized as a result of the tumultuous events of 1917. Whereby the disastrous effect upon Russia's political parties of 1917, then, led to the formation of several right-left inter-party groups. The so-called Union of Regeneration hereby combined a number of left-wing parties and the National Centre with a more right-wing orientation however went their separate ways in June 1918, with the UR heading east and the National Centre moving to South Russia, suggests that there was too little faith in this alliance formed between the two groups and that each hoped that they would be the more successful. The National Centre, after leaving Moscow, concerned itself with the Volunteer Army and seemed to be not particularly interested in the fortunes of the UR in its attempts to arrange a state conference that would create an all-Russian government according to the plans made in Moscow. For their part, members of the UR probably thought that an Allied an incursion into Russia via Arkhangelsk would help them to create a new eastern front, behind which would be the SR-heartland of the Upper Volga, and that the success of this intervention would give them hegemony in the anti-Bolshevik camp. Had the two organizations acted in a more unified manner, they might have had more success.

As it was, the efforts of the UR appeared to many (particularly in Siberia) as another attempt by SRs to subjugate all to their party. The potential strength of the two allied groups, then, never came to fruition as a result of this `go it alone' strategy, and before either organization even began work, they had made a crucial mistake: allowing the geographical distance between the two anti-Bolshevik zones to assume an even greater significance than could have been the case.


Enter the Allied forces

The Anti-Bolshevik Underground in Revolutionary Russia to a large part hinged on the extensive involvement of Allied interventionist forces, to form an anti-Bolshevik and anti-German front in the wake of the signature of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.

During the late winter and early spring of 1918, the Allies’ ambitious, improbable plan for occupying the three ports (Vladivostok, Murmansk, and Archangel) and for reconstituting an Eastern Front matured. Firstly, Japanese and Allied soldiers would seize Vladivostok (which in fact they did on April 5, against Bolshevik wishes) and then head west along the Siberian Railway. Secondly, British and Allied troops would occupy Murmansk and then travel south to take Archangel, led by General Frederick Poole who would command all Allied forces in northwest Russia. From Archangel, they would head for Vologda to meet the Japanese advancing along the Siberian Railway. Allied planners fondly predicted that as the two columns converged on the town, figuratively beating drums and flying flags, they would rally many thousands of Russian fighting men, former deserters from the Tsarist army, to the anti-German, pro-Allied, cause. Finally, from Vologda, coordinating with the White Volunteer Army of Generals Kornilov and Alexeyev, far to the south, they would present the Germans with daunting forces on two sides, a refashioned Eastern Front.

There were several flies in the ointment, however, and the name of the first one was Woodrow Wilson. The American president did not want Japanese troops on the Russian mainland. He feared Japanese imperialist ambitions all along the Pacific Rim, where America too had economic interests and aspirations. Reluctantly, he acquiesced in the Japanese occupation of Vladivostok, but he would not accept the further Japanese component of the plan. Nor would he agree to substitute US troops for Japanese.

The Anglo-French scheme of intervention foundered, therefore, against the rock of President Wilson’s initial refusal to accept one of its crucial elements. Anglo-French planners responded by seeking an alternative to Japanese troops marching west from Vladivostok, and for a while, they thought they had one. Tsarist generals had formed a Czechoslovak Legion from prisoners taken after Russian victories over Austro-Hungarian forces early in the war. Forty thousand strong, well-led, well-disciplined, well-armed, and completely independent of the Russian Army (such as it was at this point), the Legionnaires wanted to go to France (there no longer being an Eastern Front) to help defeat Austria-Hungary and form from part of it a Czech sovereign nation. To get to France they would take a long way around, sailing from Vladivostok across the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. First, however, they must reach Vladivostok. Lenin and Trotsky agreed to let them do it, via the Siberian Railway, and various detachments of the Legion entrained. By mid-May, a few of them had reached the far eastern port already. Other Czech detachments dotted the railway line. The Allies intended to divert some of them to Vologda, in place of the Japanese.

One fly taken care of then, perhaps, but a second fly proved more difficult. The White Volunteer Army in the region of the Don, from which the Allies expected much, was not prospering. Its leaders, Generals Alexeyev and Kornilov, loathed each other. Its officers tended to sympathize with the old elites in most matters, including crucially the matter of returning to its former owner's land expropriated by the peasants. This hardly lent its mass appeal. Moreover, White nationalist insistence upon “Russia one and indivisible” alienated the minorities in the former Russian Empire who longed for autonomy. Most particularly in this instance, this Russian nationalism alienated a second fighting force in the region, the Don Cossacks, with whom the Whites needed to unite if they were to prove successful.

Furthermore, the leaders of both forces were unlucky. Poorly-trained Red Guards defeated the Don Cossacks at Taganrog. The mortified Don Cossack commander, General Kaledin, committed suicide. Shortly thereafter, General Kornilov perished when a single Red Army shell struck the house in which he quartered. He was the only casualty. Not much later, General Alexeyev, founder of the Volunteer Army, died of a heart attack. Eventually, the White Army did rally under General Denikin and succeeded in gaining control of much of the Caucasus. Ultimately, it would manage to form an uneasy alliance with the Don Cossacks, but too late to help the Allies win World War I, and therefore too late for the Allies to help them overthrow Bolshevism. At any rate, even if it had wanted to, the Volunteer Army was not ready, in late winter/early spring 1918, to march west against the Germans and help to reopen the Eastern Front.1

And finally, there was a third obstacle in the way of the Allied plan. As the months passed, Allied resistance stiffened to General Ludendorff’s last great offensive on the Western Front. Germany had her hands absolutely full there; certainly, she no longer had the strength to continue advancing into Russia. When the Bolsheviks grasped this, they ceased to contemplate even the possibility of inviting the Allies to occupy the three ports.

And as Michael Occleshaw already concluded the third fly in the ointment, therefore, was the now full-fledged and non-negotiable opposition of the Bolsheviks to Allied occupation of any part of their country. That third fly led inevitably to the following questions: If the Bolsheviks opposed Allied intervention, but the Allies thought intervention necessary in order to reorganize an Eastern Front and defeat Germany, then must not the Allies oppose the Bolsheviks? Must not they do what they could to aid Russia’s anti-Bolsheviks? For men in London and Paris who had no sympathy with Bolshevism, to begin with, the answers were obvious.2

When the Bolsheviks changed their minds about scuttling Russia’s Baltic fleet, and the Allies changed their minds about waiting for an invitation to occupy the three ports and invaded anyway (in Vladivostok and Murmansk, not yet in Archangel), it split those that had opposed uninvited Allied intervention, and those that wanted it to be in co-operation with the Bolsheviks. In his heart, Lockhart believed the latter arguments too, but he had begun to waver. Denis Garstin (who knew Russia from before the war)  had written the previous year that “England needs Russia just as much as Russia needs England”; who in February 1918 had found the Bolshevik feminist Alexandra Kollentai “charming . . . she bowled me over”; and who still judged Lenin to be “the biggest force I’ve ever felt in my life,” nevertheless, had begun to waver too: “If you look at what the Bolsheviks want to do you feel sympathetic,” he wrote, “but if you look at what they’ve done, you’re dead against them.”3

The not quite like-but similarly-minded Ransome summarized their argument in a pamphlet which he wrote at white-hot speed for the Red Cross colonel to bring with him: On Behalf of Russia: An Open Letter to America.4

On May 14, Raymond Robins set out from Moscow via the Siberian Railway, with the pamphlet, Lenin’s blessing, and the Bolshevik leader’s signed laissez-passer to speed his train.5 He carried, too, Lenin’s invitation to the American government to dispatch an Economic Commission to his country to explore trade possibilities. He reached Vladivostok in good time and in good spirits, although noting the Allied occupation of the port with disapproval, and sailed for home on June 2. “The headlands of Asia fade from view,” he wrote in his diary that night; “the only sound is the sweep of the surging sea, the stars shine out, the way ahead is blue-black, and the Russian tale is told and I have had my day!!!”

When the Red Cross colonel arrived in America he met with senators, cabinet ministers, labor leaders, and other leading figures, and experienced a rude shock. Almost everyone in the US disapproved of his message. The president, upon whom he pinned his hopes, remained inaccessible and silent while advocates of intervention in Russia worked on him. Finally, on August 4, Wilson let it be known that Japanese forces could march east after all, so long as US troops accompanied them. He made no mention of Lenin’s invitation concerning Russo-American trade. “The long trail is ended,” a bitter Robins finally admitted to himself in his diary. “So finishes the great adventure.”6

As for Lockhart and the remainder of his group back in Russia, it was full speed ahead for intervention now. Garstin first put into words to Whitehall the plan they had begun to contemplate. On May 10, the young captain reported by a cable that he had just “been approached secretly by two large organizations of old army.” They promised to mobilize near Nizhnii Novgorod, east of Moscow as soon as the Allies took Vologda and secured the railheads of the Archangel and Siberian Railways. Then they would launch the counter-revolution. That  he and Lockhart had weighed and decided they approved of the offer before sending it seems evident, since Garstin recommended that London dispatch the same number of Allied troops from Archangel to Vologda as Lockhart had suggested in earlier telegrams: “at least two divisions.”7

Garstin was dabbling in counter-revolution here.8 So was Captain Francis Cromie, the man once celebrated for his ability to reconcile Bolshevik sailors and their Tsarist officers and now scheming to destroy Russia’s Baltic fleet. And so too was Britain’s previous leading champion of Anglo-Bolshevik cooperation, Robert Bruce Lockhart. No doubt they both shared Garstin’s reservations about the Bolsheviks. But the truth is that, also, all three of them believed that in conspiring against the regime they were doing what the British government wanted them to do. And this was decisive. And instead of the dovish, more sober Robins and Ransome, they consulted with men who had been in the counter-revolutionary camp all along.

Of these, three Allied diplomats would become most influential with them. One was the American Consul General in Moscow, DeWitt Clinton Poole (no relation to the British General Poole). Laconic and dry, thin and middle-aged, flinty, and duplicitous, this New Englander had established contact with anti-Bolsheviks shortly after the October Revolution. He now oversaw the spy ring, which he disarmingly termed an information gathering service, run by his chief lieutenant, Xenophon Kalamatiano.9 Poole had no reservations about what he and Kalamatiano were up to. Like Sidney Reilly, he perceived the struggle with the Bolsheviks in Manichean terms: “we who were on the spot saw clearly that they were anti-civilization.”10

The other two where the Frenchman, Fernand Grenard (whose real name was Joseph Fernand). And the above mentioned  French ambassador to Russia, Josef Noulens. He dominated the community of foreign diplomats still in Russia.11

Noulens shared the visceral anti-communism of the Quai d’Orsay in Paris (the French Foreign Office). Although in March he once had encouraged Trotsky to resist German invasion by promising French support, in reality, he had always hated the Bolsheviks and never really believed France could find common ground with them, not even against Germany. Bolshevism threatened French business and financial interests in Russia. But, said Noulens, “We shall not be allowing any further socialist experiments in Russia,” said Noulens.12 From April 1918 onward, following directions from Paris with which he completely agreed, he did his best to help nearly every anti-Bolshevik schemer who approached him. In the past, Lockhart had ridiculed him for his reactionary views. Now the British agent followed in the Frenchman’s footsteps. Noulens, he acknowledged, “commenced to finance and support these [counter-revolutionary] organizations before I did.”13

But Lockhart was primed now to collaborate with Noulens and the others. On May 14, he bade farewell to Raymond Robins at a Moscow railway station. Then, on May 15, the day after seeing off his erstwhile friend and ally, he met “an agent sent to me by Boris Savinkoff [sic].”


Boris Savinkov's rising

One might write of Boris Viktorovich Savinkov (Russian: Бори́с Ви́кторович Са́винков) that he was the Scarlet Pimpernel of the Russian Revolution, had he not also been a stone-cold killer. Of hair’s breadth escapes, bold-faced impostures, and general derring-do, this extraordinary man was a master. “Small in stature; moving as little as possible and that noiselessly and with deliberation; [displaying] remarkable gray-green eyes in a face of almost deathly pallor,” Savinkov was a dandy who always wore yellow spats, even when otherwise disguised. This son of a judge was a poet, a novelist, a chain-smoking morphine addict, and the former head of the prewar Socialist Revolutionary Party’s “Fighting Organization.”14 He had been a terrorist during the Tsarist period. The Tsar’s courts convicted him of complicity in the 1904 assassination of Russia’s Minister of the Interior, Vyacheslav Plehve, but as with so many of their prisoners, failed to hold him after they caught him. Free to follow his ruthless inclinations, Savinkov had planned or taken part in thirty-two additional killings, or at least so rumor had it.

In 1917, this great conspirator served for a brief period as Kerensky’s Assistant Minister of War, but then supported General Kornilov’s abortive right-wing uprising against him. When the Bolsheviks took power, he fled to the Don region, to contact the counter-revolutionary Volunteer Army of Generals Alexeyev and Kornilov. The latter two despised each other, as noted above, but they despised Savinkov more. Alexeyev wrote to Lockhart that he would rather cooperate with Lenin and Trotsky.15 No sooner had Savinkov arrived in the White Army camp than someone tried to assassinate him. Not surprisingly, he returned to Moscow, dove underground and, independent of Alexeyev, with whom despite everything he nevertheless remained in touch, began to plan an anti-Bolshevik rising.

Moscow was by then an anti-Bolshevik hothouse, as Lockhart was beginning to appreciate. A “Right Center,” of counter-revolutionary monarchists, right-wing Kadets and other conservatives, had pro-German leanings. A counter-revolutionary “Left Center” of liberal Kadets and various anti-Bolshevik socialists favored the Allies. Savinkov entered neither body but encouraged them to combine in a “National Center,” which eventually they did, although without ever relinquishing their distrust for each other. The great conspirator refused to join but recruited from this body, and promised to cooperate with it. Meantime he was organizing his own Union for Defense of the Motherland and Freedom (UDMF). When he contacted Lockhart, he had between two thousand and five thousand men under his command.16 He had spies shadowing Lenin and Trotsky, preparing to assassinate them. And he had begun to plan a rising in three towns north of Moscow to coincide with the Allied intervention “on a large scale” that Lockhart’s new ally, ambassador Noulens, already had encouraged him to believe would take place in late June or early July.17

Lockhart reported to London on his meeting with Savinkov’s representative, and added: “With your approval I propose to continue to maintain an informal connection with [him] through third parties.” The Foreign Office did approve. Lockhart would be safe enough: he is “so much identified with Bolsheviks that he is hardly likely to be suspect,” noted one mandarin. Sir George Russell Clerk, a more senior and experienced official, added more cagily still: “I believe that the Bolsheviks know pretty well everything that goes on. I am not quite sure of our cyphers, and I am confident that unless Mr. Lockhart gets direct instructions to the contrary he will continue to keep in touch with Savinkoff [sic]. I should therefore leave this unanswered for the present.”18

Cagey, yes; but Clerk had set a precedent that would have significant consequences. At the end of May, Lockhart took note that the Foreign Office remained silent on Savinkov, and understood, quite correctly, that it meant for him to maintain the connection. In the middle of August, at a crossroads again, and with the Foreign Office again incommunicado, he not unreasonably drew a similar conclusion and plunged into even deeper waters, this time with fatal results.

Now, self-confident and determined as ever, although pursuing a program diametrically opposed to his initial one, he embarked upon a series of dangerous, clandestine meetings, often accompanied by the equally fearless Grenard. “I am in touch with practically everyone,” he reported to London on May 23.19

Through Lieutenant Laurence Webster, an intelligence agent acting as Passport Control Officer in Moscow, he engineered a series of meetings with two leaders of the Moscow Center, Professor Peter Struve, a former Kadet, and Michael Feodoroff, a former Tsarist minister, both now supporters of General Alexeyev.20 He also established links with counter-revolutionary right Socialist-Revolutionaries, to whom he gave money.21 Quickly he realized that the Moscow hothouse was planning something big. Where previously he would have talked things over with Robins and Ransome (who might have acted as restraining influences), now he talked to Reilly, Garstin, and Cromie, and to Noulens, and Grenard and DeWitt Clinton Poole. They all favored the forward policy.

Lockhart engaged Captain Cromie in discussions about destruction of Russia’s fleet in the Baltic Sea. Britain’s naval attaché lived in the Petrograd hothouse rather than the Moscow one and, as soon became apparent, he was doing more than dabble in counter-revolution there. Where first Cromie had wanted to destroy Russia’s Baltic fleet so Germany could not have additional ships, now he wanted to destroy Bolshevism so Germany could not have Russia. Already he was “the moving spirit” among a group of Petrograd anti-Bolshevik activists, including other Allied officials and members of Savinkov’s UDMF. They often met near the docks not far from the British embassy at a Latvian social club (of which more later) that catered to sailors and their officers.22 These Petrograd conspirators had a pipeline funneling White volunteers north to Archangel. They had Russian and British agents already in situ planning to overthrow its Bolshevik-dominated Soviet with the help of those volunteers, just as Poole’s occupying forces (“not less than two divisions,” Cromie also stipulated, no doubt after consultation with Lockhart)23 arrived from Murmansk.24 Then they would establish a White counter-revolutionary Volunteer Army in Archangel to accompany Poole’s troops when these marched upon Vologda, and onward to aid Savinkov when he launched his insurrection. In other words, Cromie and the Petrograd hothouse knew what the Moscow hothouse was planning and intended to help.25 Lockhart decided to help too.

First, he requested that London supply additional funds for Cromie to bribe the Russian naval officers he had charged with destroying the Baltic fleet.26 Whitehall cabled its Petrograd consul: “Please hold at immediate disposal of Captain Cromie 1,500,000 rubles [then approximately £25,000; today approximately £1,375,000]27 from Embassy or any other available accounts. Lockhart has been asked to facilitate in any way possible your operating on above accounts.”28 Lockhart tried to spur Whitehall to additional commitments: “Desirable to make destruction [of the Russian Baltic fleet] coincide with Allied intervention . . .most important we should be informed in good time when action will take place.” He added, “I shall probably go to Petrograd tonight Saturday for 24 hours and will telegraph again when have seen Naval Attaché.”29 Whitehall cautioned him: “You would do well to leave . . . [destruction of the fleet] in the hands of the Naval Attaché, so that at least you may be able to disclaim being a party to any action that may be taken.”30 Lockhart met with Cromie anyway.

On the 26th, he met with another of Savinkov’s representatives as well, from whom he learned that plans for an uprising were nearly complete. He reported to London: “Savinkov proposes to murder all Bolshevik leaders on night of allies landing, and to form a Government which will be in reality a military dictatorship. . . . He . . . is quite prepared to act.”31 The young Scot thought events were approaching a climax. “My work here is coming to an end.”32 He did not yet appreciate, as London was starting to, that manpower demands on the Western Front meant Britain did not have the troops necessary to occupy the northern ports, any more than Germany did, let alone to send an additional “two divisions” from Archangel to Vologda to aid Savinkov, and that therefore the downfall of Bolshevism was not so imminent after all.

Whitehall also had begun to realize that the Czech Legionnaires wanted to get to Vladivostok and to sail across oceans, and to fight Austrians; not to travel by rail in the opposite direction from Vladivostok, and fight Bolsheviks. Or, if they could be persuaded to travel to Vologda after all, it was only because they saw it as a way-station on a shorter route to the Western Front. True, when Trotsky placed obstacles in their way in order to satisfy the Germans who did not want additional enemies in France, the Legion and the Bolsheviks came into conflict, with the Czechs invariably victorious. They took control of several nodal points along the Siberian Railway, made alliances with local anti-Bolsheviks, gave them money supplied by France, and even helped establish anti-communist local soviets. The Bolsheviks now perceived the Czechoslovak Legion as one of their most dangerous enemies. Nevertheless, the British finally had begun to understand that the Czechs’ ultimate goal was not to destroy the Bolshevik regime, but rather to return to France and destroy the Austro-Hungarian Empire. And therefore, because British officials could not say when the Czechs would arrive in Vologda, or what they would do if they ever got there, they could not tell Lockhart when their own landing would take place. Consequently, they feared that Savinkov was jumping the gun. His “methods are drastic, though if successful probably effective,” mused the mandarin George Clerk about murder and dictatorship, “but we cannot say or do anything until intervention has been definitely decided upon.”33

Savinkov’s drastic methods did not faze Lockhart either. The energy and intelligence he once had devoted to advocating Anglo-Bolshevik cooperation he lavished now upon speeding Bolshevik destruction. He channeled money to the great conspirator, although the latter always said he received his funds mainly from France.34 He tried to get the Foreign Office to plan with Savinkov in mind: “Intervention from Archangel would be very stimulating,” to Savinkov’s rebellion, he wired. “Whatever help Allies can give [to Savinkov] will be supported out of all proportion.”35

These messages worried wily George Clerk. He saw that Britain’s man on the spot was getting ahead of the game. He was putting himself into danger after all, and not only himself but also Savinkov’s entire conspiracy, by cabling enthusiastic reports about counter-revolution that the Bolsheviks, if indeed they had cracked the British cypher, might read. Clerk had taken Lockhart’s measure by now. Britain’s agent in Russia was brash, capable, and flexible, as his political volte face demonstrated. Clerk thought that Lockhart was subtle too: he could read between the lines; could find meaning in silence; could understand nuance and misdirection. Clerk sent a note to the Foreign Secretary: “I think  we should caution Mr. Lockhart to have nothing whatever to do with Savinkoff’s [sic] plans, & to avoid enquiring further into them.”36 Balfour duly repeated these words to Lockhart in a cable, no doubt for Bolsheviks to read as well. It has mystified historians who did not piece together Clerk’s logic or the preceding chain of telegrams that makes the prohibition’s meaning clear.37 Lockhart’s masters in London now knew their agent would understand the cable to be a blinking yellow light, not the red one it appeared to be.

Moreover, Lockhart would have noted that the Foreign Office did not disavow, or even question Savinkov’s ruthless program. Not surprisingly then, his next step, more dangerous than any so far, was to meet with Savinkov in person. The latter came to see him at the Hotel Elite wearing a French uniform and dark-tinted glasses as a disguise, but also his trademark yellow spats.38 Lockhart gave him money.

Thus, the month of June 1918 passed in a welter of confusion, falsehood, and misdirection. Raymond Robins had embarked upon an epic, ultimately unsuccessful, journey home to persuade President Wilson against intervening in Russia. Lockhart, now firmly in the interventionist camp along with the remnants of his circle and his new anti-Bolshevik allies, was barraging the Foreign Office with cables exhorting intervention in Russia as soon as possible and asking for the date. But London was prevaricating: it realized intervention would be beyond Britain’s power until she could find additional troops. Meanwhile, Cromie was secretly preparing to destroy Russia’s Baltic fleet and funneling White officers north to launch a coup in Archangel. The French ambassador was falsely assuring Russian counter-revolutionaries that Allied assistance was imminent and, as a result, Boris Savinkov was honing his plans for a rising. The Czechs occupied one town after another as they continued along the Siberian Railway, in the wrong direction from Britain’s point of view. The last page of the monthly calendar turned and July dawned, hot and humid, storms brewing.

Once General Poole landed in Archangel, no one thought he would stop there; everyone thought he would march south, and no one believed any longer that he would then march west to reopen the Eastern Front and fight Germans. Everyone assumed the Allies intended to overthrow the Bolsheviks, whatever Allied leaders might say to the contrary...


Continued in Part Two


1. S. A. Smith, Russia in Revolution, Oxford, 2017, especially pp. 161–96. For more on the Russian Civil War one might also consult, among many, Ronald Sinclair, The Spy who Disappeared, London, 1990, I. C. Dunsterville, The Adventures of Dunsterforce, London, 1932, N. Baron, The King of Karelia, London, 2007.

2. Geoffrey Swain, The Origins of the Russian Civil War, London, 1996, pp. 127–86, is very good on the plan and its context.

3. Walpole, “Denis Garstin and the Russian Revolution,” p. 598: Garstin to ?, January 18, 1918.

4. Arthur Ransome, On Behalf of Russia: An Open Letter to America, New York, 1918, p. 27.

5. Wisconsin State Historical Society, Robins’ Diary Entry, May 14, 1918.

6. William Hard, Raymond Robins’ Own Story, New York, 1920, online version, Chapter V, “The Bolshevik ‘Bomb,’”

7. Oxford University, New Bodleian Library (OUNBL), Milner Collection, Dep. 109, Box B, Lockhart to Foreign Office, May 10, 1918.

8. Walpole, quoting letters dated May 15, 1917, February 14, 1918, and July 17, 1918.

9. David S. Foglesong, “Xenophon Kalamatiano: An American Spy in Revolutionary Russia?” Intelligence and National Security, Vol. 6, No. 1 (January 1991), p. 162.

10. DeWitt Clinton Poole, An American Diplomat in Bolshevik Russia, ed. Lorraine M. Lees and William Rodner, Madison, WI, 2014, p. 142.

11. Michael Jabara Carley, “The Origins of the French Intervention in the Russian Civil War,” The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 48, No. 3 (September 1976), pp. 413–39.

12. Victor Serge, Year One of the Russian Revolution, 2015, p. 231.

13. The University of Indiana, Lily Library (UILL), Lockhart Collection, Bruce Lockhart, “The Counter-Revolutionary Forces,” p. 3.

14. Winston Churchill, Great Contemporaries, London, 1937, p. 103.

15. R H Bruce Lockhart, British Agent,1933,p. 288.

16. Winston Churchill, Great Contemporaries.

17. The National Archives, London (TNA), WO 106/1186, Summary of telegrams on Russia; for Savinkov more generally, see, especially, Richard Spence, Boris Savinkov, Boulder, CO, 1991. For the promise to Savinkov made by Noulens, see UILL, Lockhart Collection, Bruce Lockhart, “The Counter-Revolutionary Forces,” p. 4. For just how complicated this counter-revolutionary world really was, see Jonathan Smele, The ‘Russian’ Civil Wars, 1916–26, London, 2015.

18. TNA, FO 371/3332, Lockhart to Foreign Office, and notes on file, May 17, 1918.

19. TNA, FO 371/3313, Lockhart to Foreign Office, May 23, 1918.

20. TNA, FO 371/3348, Bruce Lockhart, “Secret and Confidential Memorandum on the alleged ‘Allied Conspiracy’ in Russia,” November 5, 1918, p. 1.

21. They alleged it at the 1922 trial of right SRs. See N. V. Krylenko, Sudebnye rechi. Izbrannoe, Moscow, Iuridicheskaia literature, 1964, pp. 157–8.

22. G. E. Chaplin, “Dva perevorota na Severe (1918),” Beloe delo: letoopisBeloi bor’by, vol. 4 (Berlin: Mednyi vsadnik, 1928), p. 14. This is an extract of the autobiography in Russian of G. E. Chaplin, who took part in the events discussed above (translation provided by Andrey Shylakhter). See also Benjamin Wells, “The Union of Regeneration: The Anti-Bolshevik Underground in Revolutionary Russia, 1917–19,” DPhil thesis, Queen Mary College, University of London, 2004, p. 62.

23. TNA, ADM 137/1731, Cromie to Admiralty, June 14, 1918.

24. Leeds University, Brotherton Library (LUBL), Douglas Young Papers, Ms 1275/1, memorandum by Douglas Young, passim.

25. Ibid.

26. TNA, FO 371/3286, Lockhart to Foreign Office, May 25, 1918.

27. During the revolutionary period, rampant inflation meant that the ruble lost value every day. It is difficult, therefore, to accurately convert rubles of 1918 to pounds sterling of 1918. A currency converter for 1918 which pegged £1 at 45 rubles during the first quarter of 1918; at 60 rubles for the second quarter; at 80 rubles for the third quarter and at 150 rubles for the fourth quarter of the year. Another currency converter pegs the value of £1 in 1918 at approximately £55 in 2019.

28. TNA, FO 371/3327, Military Intelligence office of the War Office to Wardrop, n.d.

29. TNA, FO 371/3323, Lockhart to Foreign Office, June 1, 1918.

30. Ibid.

31. Ibid., May 26, 1918.

32. TNA, FO 371/3286, Lockhart to Foreign Office, June 1, 1918.

33. Ibid.

34. Stanford University, Hoover (SUHI), Lockhart Collection, Box 10, Robin Lockhart note to George Hill, n.d.: “In 1918, my father was . . . financing Savinkov . . .”

35. TNA, FO 371/3286, Lockhart to Foreign  Office, May 26, 1918.

36. Ibid.

37. See, e.g., Richard Ullman, Intervention and the War: Anglo-Soviet Relations, 1917–1921, Princeton, NJ, 1961, p. 51

38. Lockhart, British Agent, p. 179.


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