Some further information about Newmarket's involvement with the Russian Revolution (page 8A)
This is an account written by Evgenia Chernozatonskya, whose grandfather Mikhail Duzinkevich was one of the officers involved in the military training at Newmarket. She has provided more fascinating details of how the Russian officers came to our town, their life in our town as seen through their eyes of the and of the difficulties they faced on return to their homeland.
Evgenia's story is of such interest to local and international historians that large excerpts from her emails are copied below.
"I found your article about Newmarket training camp and was very excited, because my grandfather Mikhail Duzinkevich (Duzinkiewich) said it was the city where he stayed after a series of adventures during WWI. I was a small girl (he died when I was 11 years old), but I remember that he was a Russian artillery officer taken a POW by Germans and then brought to Newmarket. The purpose of his travel and stay in England was never disclosed by him, because in the Soviet times any affiliation with the White movement or Entente meant persecution.
My grandfather said that from England they were sent to the Russian Far East (Vladivostok?) on a steamship and that the travel took months.
I am sure that my grandfather Duzinkevich travelled to the Far East, because he was talking about Ceylon and India as places he saw. He also said he crossed Siberia. And he never left Russia (or Soviet Union) after 1922.
He never mentioned how he later made it from Vladivostok to Smolensk, where he married my grandmother in 1921.
Unlike most of my generation I was lucky to have two living granddads. Most of my friends (I was born in 1954) missed both - perished in WWII or in Stalin's purges.
He was in Newmarket with his two old friends, who made the same trip from Newmarket to Russia. Maybe you have any records of Russian officers who were trained in Newmarket between 1918 and 1921? I would be very thankful if you send me anything related to my grandfather Mikhail Duzinkevich (1896) and his friends Konstantin Babievsky and Vassily Perepletchikov (any records about them and about the steamship that reportedly brought them back home, probably to fight in Admiral Kolchak Army in Siberia) Just in case there are records in Russian the names are .
Of course you may publish my query in your Correspondence pages. I am very thankful to your History Society, because it is through your efforts that I found that the place my grandfather mentioned existed, and discovered the purpose of his stay.
You will find the story even more fascinating if I tell you how the idea of this internet research came to my mind.
Three weeks ago on the Russian Christmas (January 7th 2013) an old friend of my grandfather, Tamara, age 86, invited me to her house. And there I met a son of my granddad's friend, the very same friend Konstantin Babievsky, who was together with Mikhail Duzinkevich throughout all his adventures in WWI, and then in Germany and England. I met Babievsky's son Kirill, age 82, for the first time. We shared stories told by my grandfather and his father and found them quite similar - which probably means they were true. Same as my granddad, Babievsky did not mention the purpose of his stay in England. He said that that they were sent to fight for Kolchak, but when they arrived to the Far East the war was already lost.
Babievsky's son did not know the name of the city in England, where our ancestors stayed, but my father (Mikhail Duzinkevich's son-in law) did! Thus I knew the word to search for.
Here is the outline of the story shared by the two families:
Konstantin Babievsky and Mikhail Duzinkevich were born in the same city (Novozybkov). They went to the same school and left for St.Petersburg (the capital of Russia) in 1914 to go to universities. After the first year of studies they went (probably were drafted) to the Mikhailov Artillery School in St.Pete, from where both graduated as junior officers. They were sent to the front, were taken POWs, made it to England and then back to Russia on the same steamboat. Their friend from Novozybkov Vassily Perepletchkov was with them throughout all this.
Both Babievsky and Duzinkevich later studied as structural engineers, and worked in the construction industry until retirement: Babievsky lived in Tashkent and Duzinkevich in Moscow.
A Russian Officer's view of their time in Newmarket and eventual return to Russia.
Evgenia Chernozatonskaya has translated passages from a book "Ukraine, 1918", in a series "Russia Unknown and Forgotten. White Movement", published in Moscow in 2001.
It a collection of memories. A chapter by former Russian Army officer Ivan Ivanovich Bobarykov (Boborykov), born in 1890, has several pages on the Newmarket officers training school. Boborykov was an operative in the International Committee on POWs (headed by a British Lieutenant Lemon) in the early 1919. He came to Newmarket officers training centre the same year and left it in 1920. Before this he was tasked with recruitment for the White Army among Russian pows in Germany. He writes in vivid details about his training in Newmarket, including weekly ball dances and visits to the house of the local lord. The school was managed by the British, but there was a Russian General Headquarters oversight for off-duty hours and internal Russian affairs. The head of the Russian authorities in the Newmarket School was Colonel Gasler.
This story by Bobarykov was first published in the Soviet Union in the Journal of Military History back in 1973. I did not know that stories by White officers appeared in the open press. But then I was very young and not much interested in family history at that time.
One more thing that can help to find more facts: my grandfather told us that the large group of Russian officers in Britain, that he was a part of, met with a royalty. He said "Vassily (his friend) learned enough English to answer a question by the Queen"* Again, I do not know, when or where this happened.
There is a line in Bobarykov's memoire that I thought may relate to my grandfather:
"Soon after our arrival a group of approx.100 Russian officers was dispatched to the Russian Far East to fight under Kolchak".
Bobarykov himself was later sent to Sevastopol (Black Sea) to fight under Vrangel. After the White Army defeat he left Russia and lived in France, where he was a head of a military school before WWII. He died in 1981.
* Presumably this was Queeen Mary, who may have suffered some conscience over her husband King George V's decision to abandon his cousin Czar Nicholas II to his fate. It is not known if the meeting took place in Newmarket but it seems likely as a large group of officers is mentioned (webmaster).
"After breakfast we were sent to Newmarket, a city some 150 km from London, where the Officers school was located. Here British war-time officers, who wished to stay in the Army, received additional training and studied military courses. I should note that in England at that time all orders on commissioning to military ranks contained the word "provisional" (the rank was not granted unconditionally (E.Ch).
When the Army was demobilized (after the end of the war), the Military Ministry demoted the officers who decided to stay in the Army by 2 to 3 ranks. Just to give you some examples: by the end of our stay at school our instructor, who taught us line of columns, a first lieutenant, appeared wearing Major shoulder straps. We started to congratulate him, but he explained to us that he had had a major rank at the end of the war, but wore lieutenant’s shoulder straps at school, because he was staying in the army. Now that he resigned, he was promoted to the major rank again, he said. Later we heard that the school headmaster Colonel Thompson had gone back to India after the school had been closed and that he became a captain there.
Russian officers, who found themselves in Germany and declared their desire to join the White Army, were brought to this school to complete its full course and in addition to this - get a through knowledge of the English weaponry. According to the Russian General Headquarters Colonel Gasler, there had been two thousand such officers altogether.
Same as in the International Committee (see above in the same chapter (E.Ch) the school had two lines of subordination and we had two commanders: British senior officers were responsible for our training and studies, and Russian senior officers were in charge of our off-duty activities and internal life.
There was a story that we heard at school: during the previous summer the headmaster wanted to finish the course of studies by that class with a manoeuvre of sorts: a battle of two companies almost equal in size: Russians against British trainees. Crowds of people came to watch this mock battle from adjacent areas. At the most decisive moment the British company used tear gas against Russians. The British commanders of the Russian company did not bring their gas masks to the manoeuvre and had to flee from the battlefield, leaving their subordinates to their own devices. Therefore Russian officers took charge and finished the manoeuvre.
The school has never attempted to do a mock battle again, because it all ended in a big turmoil: a light breeze brought a tear gas cloud to the highway, where the crowd of onlookers, most of them mounted on horses, was quite thick. The pedestrians attempted to flee, but the horses went mad, became unmanageable and caused a huge disorder among civilians.
Upon arrival to Newmarket we were met by Russian General Headquarters Colonel Gasler, who introduced us to the British school authorities and explained the internal arrangement and general school requirements.
During the early days of our stay each of us was given the same supplies as the British pupils of military school after graduation and promotion to officer rank: all uniforms, brown shoes, some underwear, a small kit with threads and needles, a field binocular, a compass and a revolver. We only had to order long trousers for our own money. We were also told that for the duration of our studies at school we would be paid a salary of 4.5 British pounds a week.
The difference in uniforms between British and Russian trainees was quite insignificant: we wore a Russian cap badge and Russian national ribbons on our shoulder strap. Thus it was really quite hard to tell us from the British, and one day, when I was visiting the London Tower, a captain approached me asking what regiment I belonged to. He said: "I know all regiments’ insignia, but now I see something different".
We were advised that we should only leave the school premises wearing yellow or brown shoes and should carry special sticks at all times.
The school itself became a military training center at the war time. The premises had several big barrack-type buildings, which accommodated an administration office, classrooms, a storeroom, a big dancing hall with a stage and big vestibule, and an officers' club, where you could drink liquors, such as Porto and whiskey, and beer during off-duty hours.
The trainees lived in smaller barracks accommodating 12 to 14 persons each. Residents of two barracks together formed a class, whose members studied theory and received hands-on training together.
All courses were taught using practice as the main method, and instructors tried to bring as much competition as possible in every issue learned. They talked about something for a while and then divided the class into two groups and asked the groups to perform a certain exercise taking turns, for example, disassemble the machine-gun with eyes shut. At first we did not take this method seriously, but then became excited by competition and learnt to exceed the requirements quite fast.
Every Saturday the school arranged a big ball that was attended by a lot of young girls and young ladies from the city and its suburbs. Sometimes the local lord with his extended family also joined the party. Very often we had visitors from London: guards officers, who were studying the Russian language with baron Meyendorf, a former associate of the State Duma Chair. (A British officer who spoke the Russian language got a salary increased by a third.) Russian and British officers took turns as hosts of these balls."
During the first month of our stay, each Saturday the aide of our company’s “part-time commander”, the Russian Colonel, would go from one barrack to another summoning everybody to the ball room. He was urging us to go, emphasizing that such was the Colonel’s requirement.
Our situation was quite embarrassing. We did not know the new dances that were in fashion at that time, and moreover we did not feel like dancing or making new acquaintances. Therefore all we did at these events was just sitting by the ballroom walls till two a.m. On the very first Saturday, however, Major Wells, the host, approached us with a question: why don’t you dance? He got the same answer from everybody: we do not know the dances. The same situation repeated next Saturday. Next Tuesday, however, after reading an order, the aide announced: “As Russian officers do not know English dances, our British commander Captain Key’s wife, was so kind as to offer her help. She will be teaching us to dance every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The classes will start at 9 p.m. – he said, adding that the Colonel said he would like to see many people coming to the classes.
Next day the aide went door to door reminding the officers that it was time to get ready for the dance class. 15 minutes later he made another round between barracks and, having noticed that nobody was getting dressed up for the ball, announced that all newly arrived officers should be in the ball room five minutes before the class begins. And just one minute before 9 p.m. he went door to door again, fetching all people still remaining in barracks.
Mrs Key and two other military ladies came on time and taught us various dances till 11.30. And at the fourth and fifth class we saw the ball host Major Wells, who had come with the ladies and spent a whole lesson looking how each of us was doing.
Next Saturday Russians with few exceptions were sitting in their chairs again not intending to dance. When the dances started, Major Wells, who was sitting at the stage with the headmaster – they occupied the places that were reserved for the local lord and other distinguished guests, descended from the stage and approached the Russian officer who was sitting next to the stage. The Major said a couple of words to him and then took him by his arm and brought to a wallflower lady. Next he repeated the same with other Russian officers. After this Russians preferred to go and dance themselves rather than being dragged.
Shortly after our arrival to the school a party of officers totaling approx 100 men was sent to the Far East to support Kolchak’s Army. In November I was accompanying a sick captain who did not speak English to a big military hospital in Colchester. When we were at the hospital, I saw a group of soldiers and several officers with big squares attached to their chests and noticed that a single letter was printed on each square. After I turned in the sick officer, I asked the doctor what those squares and letters meant. He said that the object of this arrangement was prevention of venereal diseases spread. Each sick person was required to wear a square with the first letter of the disease that he had. Such a square was attached to clothes right after a person was diagnosed and should be worn until complete recovery. Nobody was allowed to take off his square even during his vacations at home.
We celebrated the Christmas twice. For the British Christmas the English hosts treated us with traditional a English dinner, including a huge roast beef and British plum pudding. The first toast was to His Majesty the King, and everybody drank Porto for this occasion.
On the Russian Christmas we had a Russian menu for dinner, but the most important thing was the ball. The ballroom and vestibule were previously decorated with ordinary stuff like tinsel and glare. We had it all removed and put on our own decorations. We ordered a car of fur-tree branches from Scotland and used them to make garlands. Our artists, - and we had several among us – were commissioned to paint scenes from the Russian life and Russian landscapes for the ball. Altogether we had around two dozens of such rather big paintings, which we hung on the walls in the ballroom and vestibule. The fur tree garlands served as frames for these pictures. The walls between paintings were decorated with garlands as well. This arrangement gave an impression of a certain austere style to the ball room.
Rumours about Russian Christmas preparations reached not only the city, but also London. We had twice as many guests as usual, because quite a lot of British officers came from London. They were telling us that the event was more impressive than many London balls.
In December, after Kolchak’s and Denikin’s armies suffered a number of defeats, the opposition in the Parliament started severe attacks on the Government criticizing it for its support of the White Movement. Left wing newspapers especially stressed the presence of Russian officers at the Newmarket training camp. Our commanding officers warned us to be extremely careful when talking to strangers and to keep as far as possible from reporters. In January, our training program was completed and we were waiting to be taken to the South of Russia. As no date was yet fixed for our departure, in the very last days of January I decided to take a short leave and spend a week discovering London. Yet everything worked out differently. By the end of my third day off, when I came back to my hotel, I found a telegram waiting for me. It was the order to return to the camp immediately, as in four days we were to leave for Russia.
I had to rush back to Newmarket to prepare for the journey properly. On the day of our departure we found out that about 15 officers were missing from the camp. The situation in the South of Russia by that time was so bad that the English considered the White Cause lost without hope. Our course officers at the training camp thought it quite pointless to send us to Russia and openly offered their help to those who wanted to stay in Britain.
On the day of our departure crowds of Newmarketers came to the railway station to see us off. It was a deeply moving moment and many women had tears in their eyes when through the train’s open windows they heard the now familiar to them Russian song "Beauties, weep for us in your mountain villages". They knew the lyrics far too well from their ballroom partners.
The train took us to Tilbury, a sea port situated, as far as I remember, within 20 mile from the mouth of the river Thames. There we boarded the troop transport SS Field Marshall. The transport headed for Constantinople carrying on board military supplies and a small number of officers and their families who were going back to join the English occupation forces in Turkey after a home leave.
We were quartered in a small compartment at the stern with portholes almost at sea level. We slept in naval cots which we had to fasten to the hooks in the ceiling every night. The restaurant where we had our meals was one level up.
It was evening when the transport left the port and went down the Thames to the North Sea. We admired the myriads of lights shining on both river banks. Taken the season, it came as no surprise that as soon as we passed through the English Channel and entered the Atlantic ocean, we was caught in a severe storm. For more than three days the ship was mercilessly tormented by wind and waves. The English kept to their compartments, and just two or three of them could be seen on the deck or in the ward-room. We did not suffer from sea sickness that badly, and only three of us were seriously ill.
When we were approaching Gibraltar, the storm calmed down and we were able to admire the snow covered peaks of Atlas shining brightly in the sun. When we were passing Gibraltar it was already dark, and all we could see were scattered lights on both sides of the strait. After that the Field Marshall headed on to Malta and entered the port of its main town, La Valetta. The sea port is situated deep in the harbour, surrounded by high steep cliffs which make it look like a fiord. Although it was early February, it was so warm that local boys were bathing in the sea. We moored in La Valetta for two or three hours waiting for passengers to disembark and their luggage to be taken ashore. This done, the Field Marshall went out to sea and headed straight for Constantinople. In the Aegean sea we were again caught in a heavy storm. The waves were so high that they swept over the deck and the spray reached as high the middle of the masts. The transport had to go in circles for about 36 hours before it could move into the Dardanelles strait, as with the waves that high the captain did not want to risk hitting a possible mine.
In Constantinople we were transferred to another transport, SS Baron Beck, a cargo ship operated by the League of Nations which was going to Sebastopol and Novorossiysk, and the next morning we reached Sebastopol.
Shortly an officer from the Commandant’s office arrived on board. He announced that under Commandant’s orders all aboard with the exception of the natives of the Caucuses should get ashore in Sebastopol. All officers arriving from Britain were now under command of General Slaschev, head of the 3d Army Corps, and should immediately report at their regiment.
That is why we were all taken right to the railway station where we were to board the first train going to Dzhankoy, the headquarters of the 3d Army Corps of the Russian Volunteer Army. And that is how our more than a year long journey from Kiev to Sebastopol via Germany and Britain ended.
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