Polar Bears In Russia

Posted on Friday, October 2nd, 2020

The 339th Infantry, a regiment from the 85th Division was detached from the division, and instead of being sent to France, was transported to Archangel, Russia.

The 339th, mainly filled by draftees from Michigan, arrived in Russia in early September 1918, and remained, battling against the Bolsheviks until leaving in June 1919.

polar bears cover

Approximately 180 Americans died from disease, or were killed in action, including several who were killed by errant British air attacks. Nearly all of these dead were ultimately returned to the U.S., to be buried in American cemeteries.
The Bolsheviks captured several dozen Americans. Fortunately though, most were eventually released, but not all. There are a number of Americans who will forever be missing, lost among the vastness of northern Russia.


Polar Bears in Russia will focus on Companies “I” and “M”, two formations tasked with guarding the Vologda Railroad. They often worked together, or with one on duty while the other rested. Captain Horatio Winslow, a prominent writer, commanded Company “I”, and Cpt. Joel Moore, a college professor, led Company “M”. Each company had around 175 men, though casualties, sickness, and winter conditions often reduced their strengths.


This photo, taken in April 1919, at Obozerskaya, Russia, shows the officers of Company ‘M’. (L-R) 1st Lt. Clarence Primm, 2nd Lt. Milton Carpenter, 2nd Lt. Robert Wieczorek, 2nd Lt. Wesley Wright, 1st Lt. James Donovan, 1st Lt. George Stoner, and Cpt. Joel Moore. (U.S. Signal Corps: print #158852, National Archives)


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