8th Battalion Machine Gun Corps was based at Dibgate, Shorncliffe on the 30th March 1919 and was formed into “A” Foreign Service Battalion MGC, from the cadre of the 8th Battalion MGC, from France. Training commenced. Designation of the unit changed to the 8th (special) Battalion MGC, under the command of Lt. Col. W A T B Somerville DSO (Royal Artillery) from 12th April 1919. The Battalion was stationed at Crowborough Camp, Sussex on the 15th April, and on the 7th May was warned for North Russia.
On the 12th May, the Battalion entrained for Newcastle upon Tyne, via London. The Battalion boarded HMT Zyarietza the next day, and was given a good send off, all ship yard work ceased temporarily and all steamers on the Tyne blew their hooters.
Arrived in Murmansk on 20th May and on the 24th May, sailed with convoy and icebreakers for Archangel. Arrived in Archangel- Smolny Barracks, on 26th May 1919. On the 27th May marched to Sobornaia Wharf. On the 9th June embarked on Ferryboat and proceeded up the Dwina (River).
Diary of Pte Albert George Crisp MGC 11 May 1919 to 6 July 1919 and 23 Sept 1919 to 8 Oct 1919
1919 May 11th, Sun Starting for Russia
Mon 12th Left Crowbrough on Monday morning reaching Newcastle at dinner time. Stayed in Newcastle
Tues 13th. Left harbor 12.45. Anchored in mid ocean ready for sailing 3am Wednesday
Wed 14th Started to sail at 3am, held up by fog in very calm water. Anchored all night.
Thurs 15th Entered Arctic Sea, very rough. Passed floating mine 50 yards from ship, it was fired at and missed.
Fri 16th Sister ship Czaritza passed us which set off from Southampton. Sea very calm, know land seen. A newspaper reverses the ships reporting Czaritza leaving Newcastle and Czar from Southampton
Sat 17th Sea very rough, boat rocked terribly, no land seen
Sun 18th. No land seen, sea very rough
Mon 19th Passing along the coasts of Norway, Sweden and Finland, coasts covered in snow. Sea still very rough. No darkness.
Tues 20th May Arrived Murmansk 3am and anchored all day, nothing to see but hills and snow.
Wed 21st Out rowing around the ship No darkness
Thurs 22nd Went ashore into Murmansk, nothing to see but wooden huts and all the civilians were refugees.
Fri 23rd Boat race between the men of the Czaritza and the Czar also officers. Officers of the Czaritza won. Sat 24th Left Murmansk 6.30 with four other ships and two ice breakers to sail for Archangel. One day good sailing.
Sat 25th Entire white sea all frozen, all ships are unable to move through ice being so thick 3.55am
Mon 26th . Still breaking through the ice
Tues 27th Arrived Archangel with all the other ships and received a great reception from the Russia civilians. Also all the boats on the river were decorated with flags.
Wed 28th All the Brigade marched through the town of Archangel, the streets all being decorated with flags, and a great amount of civilians and Russian soldiers to welcome us.
Thurs 29th After leaving the ship to Tmolly camp into huts
Fri 30th Inspected by General Ironsides who was in command of the Relief Force
Sat 31st. Military funeral held in Archangel, one of DLI killed in town. Would it be straightforward to identify the DLI soldier?
Sat 1st June. Church parade in town by all the brigade
Mon 2nd Moved from Tmolly Camp to Olga Barracks
Tues 3rd Large march past in town, also the TBL were presented with colours given by General Grogan
Wed 4th Went to pictures in the American YMCA
Thurs 5th Went across the river Aztirkab to hand in surplus harness
Fri 6th Received first pay in Russian Reubols
Sat 7th Battalion moved off for the line on barges up the river leaving all transport till later
Sun 8th Loading barges for the battalion
Mon 9th Battalion drawn 54 mules, also pack saddlery.
Tues 10th Received the first mail June 10th
Wed 11th Loaded transport ? ? ready to sail Thursday, and also the mules
Thurs 12th Left Archangel to sail up the river towards the line of barge with mules, and also brigade artillery.Fri 13th Went ashore for exercise also gathered wood for the barge, stayed for 3 hours
Sat 14th Sailed all day and passed troops on the way back to ArchangelSun 15th Arrived at the Battalion and went up to join C Coy to help in the line
Mon 16th Arrived C Coy 8am and heard the first Bolshie shells come over
Tues 17th Preparing to proceed to the line for an attack
Wed 18th Rested all day to move off early morning
Thurs 19th Left Kurganan for Tropry at 4.30am. Marched through the forest for the line arrived 12pm. Road being very dark through forest and very boggy, having one mule drowned and arrived wet through.
Fri 20th Barrage started 4am which proved successful and then marched back to a captured village called Tropry. A while after arriving the Bolshies counterattacked but were repulsed with heavy losses
Sat 21st Received a warm welcome by the civilians of Tropry and were given beds for rest being the first English troops seen there.
Sun 22nd Rest all day
Mon 23rd Went into woods searching for Bolshies and found four
Tues 24th Transport officer from the Hants buried in Tropry who was wounded by a bullet which pierced through his back and out his stomach Identifiable?
Wed 25th All men out of the villages were sent to join the Russian Army and were sent down the river to go away by barge
Thur 26th Received the first bread ration since we left England, being six into a loaf
Fri 27th Received mail at Tropry
Sat 28th Handed all mules to ASC
Sun 29th Moved from Tropsy to Tvoitra
Mon 30th Burial of an Artillery man who was sniped in the wood near Tvoitra. Identifiable
Tues 1st July. Minesweeper blown up by mine on the river Dvina
Wed 2nd Moved from the village of Tvoitra down on to the riverside
Thurs 3rd Minesweeper blown up by mine close by where we were waiting for a barge to go down the river
Fri 4th Naval man buried in Tvoitra churchyard who died after the minesweeper were blown up
Sat 5th Exercised the mules around Tropsy
Sun 6th Got on the barge at 3am and left at 4 pm
Tues 23rd September Started to sail down the Dvina by barge for Archangel, sailed all night
Wed 24th Stopped on riverside for wood near Ustpinega
Thurs 25th Sent back to Nigs Palinga and stayed all day and night
Fri 26th Left Nigs and landed Archangel and saw the Manital
Sat 27th Got on to the Manital and sailed about dusk, and picked up A and B Company in mid stream
Sun 28th Passed Murmansk, sea very rough
Mon 29th No land seen sea very rough
Tues 30th Passed mountains covered in snow and came through snow and hail storms
Wed 1st October Passed the Burma Castle and Czaritza. Sea very rough.
Thurs 2nd No land seen, rained all day and a very rough wind
Fri 3rd Passed the Orkney and Shetland islands, sea very calm
Sat 4th Called at Carno And awaited orders which came to us by launch
Sun 5th Anchored out all night in mid-stream at Tilbury
Mon 6th Most of the troops disembark by ferries
Tues 7th Left Tilbury docks early morning and came down Thames to the Royal Albert docks to unload baggage
Wed 8th Started to unload early morning and finished late at night and then went Custom house station and from there to Purfleet and went into the dispersal camp