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Imperial Russian soldiers on parade in France.
Message and postmark Marseille, April 22, 1916.

Imperial Russian soldiers on parade in France.
Message and postmark Marseille, April 22, 1916.

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Saturday, September 15, 1917

"Matters had not been helped by a division of 17,000 Russian soldiers who had fought with Nivelle on the Aisne and then had been unwisely retained in France. Wherever they were stationed they preached revolution. An attempt had been made to ship them back to Russia, but Kerenski did not want them. In time they had become so Bolshevik in sentiment, so troublesome, that it was decided to ask them to surrender, as though they were enemy troops. Only 57 did so. The rest dug trenches and put up barricades. While the civilian population hurriedly departed, a final ultimatum was issued on September 14. It was refused. Next day their food was cut of and they were encircled. On the following day they were attacked."

Quotation Context

After the failure of French commander in chief Robert Nivelle's 1917 spring offensive — the Second Battle of the Aisne, begun on April 16 — an offensive that Nivelle had asserted would provide the breakthrough of the German line that would lead to victory, mutinous incidents broke out in the French army, particularly among the troops that had suffered the highest rates of casualties in the offensive. The mutinies were of greater or lesser severity, beginning in April, with increasingly disruptive incidents in May, and the most violent and serious in the first weeks of June. Four brigades of Russian soldiers were sent two France in the spring of 1916, two of them immediately being sent to the Salonika Front. The Russian Revolution of March provided a model for some soldiers. The Russian troops were sent to a hastily evacuated camp for German prisoners of war in La Courtine, 450 km south of Paris, on June 26, 1917, and it was there they made their stand.


In Flanders Fields, the 1917 Campaign by Leon Wolff, page 170, copyright © 1958 by Leon Wolff, publisher: The Viking Press, publication date: 1958


1917-09-15, 1917, September, Russian troops in France, Russian mutiny in France