Allied troops stationed in Russia at the end of World War I became increasingly unhappy with their situation. Many of the frustrated soldiers felt it unfair that they were forced to remain behind to fight the Bolsheviks (against whom war wasn’t officially declared) after the armistice ending the war had been signed. Tension also arose from soldiers who thought they would be in Russia only for garrison or other duties but instead found themselves sent to the front lines.
In some companies, this dissatisfaction gave rise to mutiny.
Although similar mutinies occurred among Russian, French, British, and American troops in Russia, how the countries’ respective commanding officers dealt with the mutineers often varied, sometimes drastically.
For example, in December 1918, a mutiny was perpetrated in the ranks of Russian troops by two companies who refused to go to the front lines as ordered. They instead barricaded themselves in their barracks. When other Russian troops were sent to get them, the mutineers fired on the other soldiers. It was only after being surrounded by Russian, British, and American troops and being fired on by a trench mortar that the mutinying men surrendered. The commanding officer of the regiment forced the men to name the leaders in the uprising. The 11 leaders were then marched to a wall, and a platoon of the mutineers was commanded to shoot them.
The result of a similar British mutiny was quite different. After a strenuous and extremely cold overland trip toward the front in February 1919, two companies of British troops refused the order to be sent to the front lines. They were gathered and reprimanded by their commanding officer, but the soldiers still refused to go. The next day, a British colonel tried talking to them but to no avail. Finally, word of the mutiny reached the general. Unlike the Russians, he didn’t command the leaders to be immediately executed—instead he ordered that the mutineers be sent on a long hike to tire them out. Apparently the grueling hike was effective, since upon their return, the mutineers grudgingly agreed to go to the front.