PART TWO OF WWI SIBERIAN DIARY OF WILLIAM C. JONES,
2nd Lt. U.S Army Russian Railway Service
Transposed by Robb Adams.
When one comes in contact with the real attitude of the upper class Russian, including the army and navy officers, their conception of social classes, and the treatment due each class from the others, one can better understand the wildness of the Red Army. These same people are wonderfully & charming people to meet socially.
The educated class of Russia are exceptionally well educated, all speak 2 or more languages, but the uneducated classes are pitifully ignorant.
Many of the remaining upper classes still hope for a Czar, & the old life, back again. Unable to see that the present chaos is a logical result of that old system.
Trains both east & west are crowded with people & soldiers, where from - where to no one knows. I believe many of them enjoy the travelling (sic) in these dirty uncomfortable box cars& enjoy the new rights & so make refugeeing a business.
I often wonder at the apparent good feeling (lack of cares) of most of these people, scattered over all the country in cars, shacks, on the ground, under cars, in hallways, waiting rooms. To be sure many of them appear very weary, but one can stand on the platform here at Novo Nikolaevsk or at Omsk & watch these people goolyating up & down the platform, jumping in and out of cars, running after hot water with a little kettle, or carrying bread, milk, chattering & apparently going on a picnic.
The taplooshkas (sic), or box car passenger equipment, are fitted with two simple plank platforms, one above the other, extending from the door back to each end of the car, thus accommodating two layers of people (double decked) then in the center of the cars where the wide doors are planks are laid parallel to car side from one lower platform to the other, sometimes from one upper platform to the other also.
General Graves, Ambassador Morris, Sir Charles Elliott, Gen Janin, & all allied (sic) high representatives are gathering in Omsk for a conference. I anticipate that Kolchak govt. will be partially or entirely reorganized.
There are rumors of Japanese troops coming to arrest Kolchak, but no confirmation. Jap army officers are here.
Refugees. One family lived under a baggage car spurred out in front our qtrs. saw family perched up on a car door, laying on top of some stoves near the station.
Families on flat cars with shelters made of branches of trees, or blankets or piece tarpaulin, horses, chickens, pigs, cows, all maybe in one car.
Sanitary trains are usually anything but sanitary appearing, wounded men look as though they get no care.
Very large number hand and foot wounds. Self inflicted.
Russian officers and soldiers moving east, wonder why men needed so much on front, they travel in taplooshkas or class cars, as they can.
Always bunch refugees and their bags, boxes, trunks, beds etc on station platform, and in back of the building laying up close to it, also in a little shady spot across the street from the station.
The waiting rooms of the halls and waiting rooms of the station are so crowded that it is a job to pick one's way through the mass of people, bundles & packages piled everywhere on the floor. the smell is of course bad.
Aug. 7 Funeral Hans Hanson from morgue A. R.C. typhus hospital - Rev. Convis & a German Lutheran afnovo (sic) nik (sic) officiating.,
Walked r versts out to the cemetery behind the hearse, all walked, evashchiks following us empty. Very dusty. Coffin open, this is Russian custom to leave coffin open until about to lay in grave. Horrible custom to us.
After funeral rode to home of Mrs. (?) Hanson & had a very big dinner there, nothing funeral like about this dinner. Was quite merry. Served cognac, and Chartreuse, a classy French liquor. Convis, Songquist, Katrin, Lt. Tseretsevky, another Polish officers (sic) & myself & Mrs. Hanson & aunts there. cannot say that I like feasting after a funeral.
This morning saw a funeral party, all walking, 4 men carrying the open casket, one man the lid, several priests with their robes & icons & the relatives trailing along.
Aug 6 Cornel (sp?) Ray tells me Amn. Red Cross & the International harvester Co. have decided not to evacuate Omsk so conditions are apparently more hopeful.
Railroad badly congested, slow movement though Novo Nik acc't. cumbersome way bill system, cars in with no billing & must have billing out, switching on every train, many military, sanitary trains requiring transferring, switching, held for orders, etc. No separate yard organization as these should be.
Were as high as 125 trains between Novo Nik and Chulimkaya, 125 versts. Mostly refugee trains moving on the east bound track while military and sanitary and passenger trains used the west bound track as a single track.
Refugees in these trains were in bad shape when left standing a long time out between stations, no food, no water, no fuel. they robbed engines of coal & wood & water while train crews abandoned trains in order to get food themselves.
All this congestion was because Novo Nikolaevsk could not be speeded up to put through more than 10 to 15 trains a day eastward.
To cure the problem the Omsk office sent a technical engineer here & (wd??), loaded with full authority to do things, only reduced the output. then General Vladimiroff arrived & everyone jumped at his word & he succeeded in getting the yard back to normal, nothing more.
On Aug 29th another general came east on No. 2, the express train, investigating delays in general, and himself delaying No. 2 in particular while he did the investigating. Held No. 2 here 6 hours while he investigated delays.
Aug 29th Lieut. Jerry M. Ryan, one of our Novo Nikolaevsk force, left on No. 2 today for home, I'm getting so that the feeling that it is time for me to return is becoming real. There is any amount of misery in this land, lack of clothing, lack of shelter, lack of money, need, need - need everywhere one turns. And, seeing all this need, I wonder if there is a demand for me to remain here, in view of the fact that my year in Siberia and my start on the language make me more valuable than new men. On the negative side I may argue that we are not running this railroad. its operation does not depend upon us. We have made suggestions, many of them, but the Russians (sic) authorities have not the money necessary, or have not the inclination, or have not the necessary power, or simply will not take suggestions from the Amerikanskies. This is a vast majority of cases, but not all.
we are installing a train dispatch system on this Omsk line. the Russian dispatchers got the idea quickly enough. We have quite a time keeping all the commandants and nacholniks off the phones. The disp'rs. have no authority as yet, and I doubt we can have the necessary authority bestowed on them that is essential to make the system successful.
Further, we know that in the pre-war days the Trans Siberian line gave service, splendid passenger service. And adequate freight service. Trains moved fast and often. There was order, discipline, cleanliness. Then, the present disorder of the railroad is a part of the general political and economic disorder of the nation. the railroad organization cannot be repaired until the government is repaired. Men will not and cannot work efficiently when their wages are so low that they cannot exist on them. they will and must graft, or have two jobs. There must be a source of income additional to the wages. Also consider that the money with which they are paid continually fluctuates in value, and at times is almost worthless.
This railroad never did pay dividends and never will unless a control other than Russian is instituted. But it is (sic) possible for the Russians to do it. there are private railroads in Russia which certainly must pay returns.
But I believe that if a firm government were established here that American control of the railways would result in more efficient, more comfortable, cheaper, and better paying roads than the Ruskies could produce.
Ambassador Morris says that the R.R.S. has saved the Chinese Eastern for the Russians and the Chinese. I believe so and I hope it and all of northern Manchuria and Eastern Siberia may be saved from the avaricious hand of our little yellow brothers. it may be a fact that we have done little to improve the operation of the road, bet, here we, the dog in the manger, and if we cannot work, we will not let any bunch of Japs come in here and do by force of German-Jap methods, the work that the Jap diplomats won't let us do peacefully. We know enough of the Jap over here to know that his interest is not to help the Russians but to help the Japanese.
And so if this R.R.S. is simply a proposition of sitting idly on the pot until the Ruskies are able to establish a government and become strong enough to hold the lid down themselves, then a new railroader from the U.S. is as heavy a man as I am in this game, and there is no reason why I should not try to get back to civilization.
Wed Aug 27 - 1919
Was a paul(sic)-bearer at funeral of Capt. Francis Desmon Conner, American Red Cross, who died here of typhus and pneumonia on Aug 26th. Age 24 years.
Conner was in charge of the anti-typhus delousing train for six months, the hardest job in A.R.C. service. he gave his life in real service. And as Katrin remarked, "We all have to cash in some day, and I don't know of any finer way of cashing in than as Conner has done it."
Russians, Poles and Czechs turned out to escort this man to his last lonely Siberian resting-place. And leading the hearse horses were two Russians in long white coats and high white stove pipe hats usual to high Russian funerals. But the hats were cracked and both hats and coats were dirty, so that these two men looked as though they had just stepped out of a cheap American vaudeville act. They were a travesty on the occasion, without knowing it, of course.
Oct 2nd. Lt. Andy Stoneberg died last night at Krasnoyarsk. Very sudden. Probably was diphtheria. Body will be shipped home and will be accompanied by Lts. Long and Gagnon. Stoneberg was one of the strongest men in the corp, powerful and healthy. Was a lineman.
Sept 19th went out to the military city, or military barracks, on the opposite side of the city, to get a cook from among the prisoners of war there. Large number of large red brick, good, substantial looking barrack and office buildings there and in the center of them stands a Russian church with a steeple on each end. One end is of Byzantine architecture and the other end of a gothic style. further on are a series of low wooden one story barrack buildings enclosed by a high wooden fence and guarded by soldiers. In these buildings the prisoners of war are kept. First called on the Commandant of the camp to get a permit to enter the prisoner barracks and entered. Found racks built inside two decked, in a couple like arrangement, two bunks facing each other, then a division and two more bunks. the bunks were merely board affairs, long enough and wide enough to sleep on, and no more than enough. Not much comfort there, but livable.
Some of the men were very poorly clad and were tough looking. For food they receive one font (pound) bread for a day, Kosha (?), soup, and meat. Meat twice a week, and Kosha twice a week. And some vegetables. Many of the prisoners are occupied at some trade, wood working, shoemaker, etc. which brings them in money and helps out on food and clothing.
I found a man for cook and arranged with the Consul, and Commandant for his release, and was told he would come next day. he did not, so the second day I again went to the camp, and learned that my cook was one of four men who had chosen to recognize the Czech Republic and become Czech soldiers. so I got another man, a German named Ludwig Wagner who claimed to be an experienced cook. We found that he was a very poor cook, and after trying in vain to educate him, returned him to the camp.
These Austrian and German prisoners are in a peculiar condition. The war is over, peace signed by their country, but not with Russia, and there is no government in Russia which is recognized as capable of making treaties.
I am very impatient to return home after two years absence, but these men have been away five years, are living poorly, very few making any money to speak of, and do not know when they will be released to return home.
I imagine these quarters are pretty cold in winter time.
Oct 3rd Hear that Japs putting lot more troops into Siberia, far west as Irkutsk. Also making other obligations with Omsk govt. Do not understand the weak procrastinating policy of our country. As it appears to us fellows out here in western Siberia it seems that our government's actions are worse than feeble. Japan will get all she is after over here, which is Siberia as far west as Irkutsk. And control of most of Asia, including China. She beat us in diplomacy on the Shantung affair, and will eventually do so in Siberia.
Russians are up against it for schools as all the school buildings are being used for soldiers' quarters and hospital.
Oct. 10th Finally got orders from Omsk general office to furnish us all wood we need. And today rec'd 1/4 cubic sazhen (sic). In Sept. I spent 1200 roubles for wood in addition to what the railroad gave us. 0.13 sazhen and most all this for our cook stove alone. From this one can figure what sort of a game the Russian is up against at a salary of 800 to 1100 or 1200 roubles a month, and no other allowances.
Oct. 8th Hear these minor position railroad men discussing the question of the cost of living versus wages, quite often. It is indeed a pressing problem to the ordinary Russian workman. Two months ago wood cost 80 roubles a load, now it is 350 roubles a load. meat remains at 6.50 a pound, butter 20 roubles for salted and 23 for unsalted. Eggs 17 or 18 roubles for ten, tomatoes (sic) from 20 to 55 roubles for ten, all other vegetables high, flour 150 roubles a pood which is 36 English pounds. An overcoat or suit of clothes runs about 3,000 roubles, boots 1,000.
Here is the salary of a telegraphist for September 1919 with the various allowances made -
Salary 340 340
plus 35% there of acc't H.C.L. 119 459
plus 50% of 459 acc't H.C.L. 228 687
plus 100% of 459 acc't H.C.L. 459 1146
Minus 2% and 5% of the 459 32
Total rec'd. 1114
This man is not given anything else. No free rent, fuel nor oil, If quarters and fuel are furnished 1/5 of the amount paid is held out.
This particular man told me he lives on tea, bread, potatoes, meat once a week - this was during Sept. - he rec'd about 700 roubles Sept. 1st to cover his August work. In Oct. he must buy more fuel.
Oct 12th Talking with Catron (sp?), Y.M.C.A. Secy at this point today. He is a very likable fellow without any of that professional Y.M.C.A. glad hand - I'm-a-college-graduate-look-at-me-and-be-cheered personality, that is, nothing effusive about him. He is a University man by his own efforts, a successful business man, and an earnest Christian man.
There are 6 hospitals here for wounded soldiers besides the several typhus hospitals. Katron (sic) all these 6 each week, gives out some tobacco and plays phonograph music, there are 5 playgrounds in the city over which he has supervision, directing the regular Russian teaches although they are paid by the city, and not by the "Y" as at other points, he gives a movie show once or twice a week and is allowed a regular theatre for this purpose by the Russian authorities, he has a successful boys and girls scouts organization going and it is finding various ways of being useful to the city and military authorities, and in 4 months Katron has changed the attitude of the Russian church priests from open hostility to active cooperation. He has given them 600 new testaments printed in Russian for distribution, and they all, including Bishop Anatole feel very friendly toward him, even asking him to join in their district conference meetings.
Katron is organizing some language classes, English, French, Esperanto. I offered to assist as an English teacher.
This success of Katron is remarkable considering the instinctive hostility with which the Russian first regards the YMCA, and the deliberate opposition of the government and high military at Omsk.
When I first arrived at Novo Nik I saw a parade of boy and girl scouts of this city, Barnaul and Semi Palatinsk (sic), headed by a Czech band, and all in Scout uniform. It was one of the best things I have seen in Russia.
The Russian church people claim that theirs is the original church. they are more Protestant than Catholic. their priests marry. Priests receive no salary, only fees for weddings and funerals. After building is complete churches are self-supporting. Collections are taken at services, candles are sold, etc.
Oct 17th Siberian army again retreating on the Kurgan front.
Oct. 20th Reds advancing strongly. Siberians seem to have developed a running streak again.
Oct 30th Advance of Reds seems to be increasing in speed rather than slacking. Today they are half way between Makrooshina (??) and Petropavlovsk, and coming strongly. Major Slaughter says government officers are very pessimistic, even despondent. Far as I can guess Kolchak govt. has no further card to play, and if their army continues to retreat, Omsk must be evacuated. news today says Tobolsk and Slavgorod has (sic) fallen to the Reds. Slavgorod is on the Koolodinskaya railroad running south from Tartarskaya. The Poles have been fighting down there and according to rumors (sic) have done so much raiding that the peasants have turned on them resulting in the clean up and the capture of Slavgorod. this is bad because if the Reds come up the railroad in any force they can cut the railroad between here and Novo Nikolaevsk, cut off supplies from the Russian army, and prevent the evacuation of Omsk.
Oct 16th Arrived Omsk 9 am. Left Novo Nikolaevsk 6:15am. Oct 15th 1919 on train No. 3 in Major Benson's car. Rode Barabinsk to Omsk in major Macharen's car. Ordered to Omsk to assist in supervision of Russian disp'rs necessary when train control first put up to them.
Find Omsk about same as 3 months ago. Weather colder now, and river banks are deserted.
"Viatka" (sic) trains now include box cars "teplooshkas" (sic). Line is being double tracked.
One sees as many soldiers and officers as ever, and occasionally a small body of rookies, or young officers marching by and singing those Russian soldier songs that are different from any American or European music.
Hard to distinguish many of the Russian officers from the few Englishmen there are as the Russians are clothed in English uniforms.
General Knox is here as head of the British military mission and General Jack as head of the British railway mission. general Jack leaves for Vladivostok Oct. 18th.
Consul General Harris is here and staff. Has several cars up in the viatka yard.
Major MacDonald, Capt. Shirett, Capt. Myers, of the A R C and a few doctors are still in Omsk. All the other Red Cross personel (sic) is Russian.
Capt. Bechley is here with a train of Red Cross supplies from Vladivostok.
Baron Kato of Japan arrived here several days ago, and was cordially received by the Kolchak government. Understand he is a special high envoy and has papers accrediting to the Omsk gov't as ambassador immediately that that government is recognized by the Allies.
One day one hears news that the U S and Japan are on the verge of war, maybe the next day we hear that the two nations are in complete harmony. And so it goes.
There is a Russian paper in Omsk that is strongly Anti-American, and is full of propaganda against us.
Hopes and disgust succeed each other regularly in the prospect for the RRS Corp for accomplishing any real constructive reform on the Russian railroads.
the government states that the military party are so strong that the govt does not dare to hand over control of the railroads to the Allies. I believe that only the rank and file of the railroad men, and a few of the official class wish it done.
Meantime Kolchak wants us to lend his govt credit, and lost of it. The A.R.C. is spending millions of dollars in Siberia but is keeping so quiet about it that America is little credit for these great efforts.
A telegram came from Col. Emerson this evening that those men who resigned in May would be released and started for home within a few days. Blunt relieves Col. Tower. Best, Anderson, roach, Schwartzcope go from Omsk (wd??). Hazard becomes mech major. Second Lieutenant become first Lts. if they agree to stay until the corp is withdrawn. Do not know is this promotes me. Have not resigned yet but will not agree to remain over here indefinitely.
Effective Sept. 1st, Capts. pay is 3900, first lieuts. 3250 and second lieuts. 2600. A fellow could bear to remain over here if he felt he were accomplishing something each day, but its heartbreaking game in this land of turmoil, Discontent everywhere, money almost worthless, military fortunes wavering, government unstable.
Col. Johnson promoted me to first lieut. with out asking for any assurances that I will stay. I have already told him that I will resign Jan'y 1st and want to get away in Jan'y if possible.
Best, Anderson, roach left Oct. 20th on train 4. Pick up Fred Schwartzcope at Novo Nik.
Hornbeck not mentioned in Emerson's wire, apparently they intend to leave him where he is for the present. Major Macharen anxious to get away. Seems to think strongly that he will get away the first part of Dec. Would not be surprised if Hornbeck were given his place. They ought to give him something if they have any interest in holding good experienced men over here.
Oct 23rd Roubles quoted at 165 for a dollar.
I am told that this government has a large amount of gold, all that Gaida took from the Reds and all that has been gathered in since.
Lt. Ray Wells, train master here, disgusted this pm. A.R.C. trying to construct larger quarantine camps here, and Wells helping them get started. Ostrugoff and various other officers assured him that he would be given any material he asked for, and that instructions to that effect were out.
Today he wanted 5 stoves, after chasing a while to get authority he found that these stoves were for wood only. Then the master mechanic told him he must have new authority to cover coal stoves. So it goes, it is a discouraging country.
He wanted the Supt. Transpn (sic) to fumigate the candrs (sp??) quarters where 300 or 400 men live and which place is alive with bugs. The nachalnik refused to do this, too busy now.
Met an American in uniform this morning, and he says, "Who are you" "I'm one of these so called engrs" I replied. "and I belong to the Red Cross disorganization," he came back. "Giving away stuff we have no business to give away." This country "gets" the best of men. This man had been a capt., training men all during the war in various camps.
Our American dispatching system is in effect between Omsk and Tartarskaya, disprs have not much authority, but we are having no trouble. Trains cannot be cleared without disprs permission. It is quite a start in the right direction. Parker says govt is coming across in the car control business, and other important measures. if we could handle cars in such a way as to move the great amount of exportable in this land to Vladivostok for export, and move other stuff in at reasonable rates, and no graft charges, it would surely help Siberia and all classes of Siberians. If the government of Siberia permits us, that is, if stable govts remain in power and our corp hung in persistently we would eventually make a real railroad of this Trans Siberian route.
Oct 23rd Again hear rumors that Japs are coming to assistance of Kolchak. Do not believe this.
(wd??) A R C man back in Omsk from the front. Says his cars were attached to a sanitary train coming back, and this train of about 700 wounded men received no attention, not any food or water, for a period of 38 hrs. plenty of both in the country they were passing through. This criminally careless neglect is one of the things that make Bolsheviks out of Kolchak's army.
Czechs have been moving east out of Omsk. Leaving very quietly. Siberian troops again deserting in large numbers.
29th Bolshevik Army advancing swiftly.Oct
30th Bolsheviks on the edge of town of Petropavlovsk, maybe have
taken it today. Redo yet about 100 versts from Ishimm on the north
evacuated and Ishimm being evacuated, also starting Omsk evacuation.
Various ministries of the government are to leave here tomorrow.
Ostrugoff, Minister of Transportation will remain with several
assistants, but all officers are going to Irkutsk.
Treasure train has already gone. 20 trains out east today, 23 yesterday, and 24 previous day, and expect to run 25 or more trains east daily. Movement very slow as only one train to a block. Figured that 180 trains of 40 cars each will be required to evacuate Omsk and what there is now left west of us. Evacuation committee of which Major Parker is a member, have decided that no furniture shall be moved out of Omsk. Only people and really essential stuff.
Committee figures there are 3,000 cars available instead of the 6,000 wanted. Expect British and we will leave Monday or Tuesday. Now is Thursday.
Oct 31st 21 trains out east yesterday. First terminal west of us on
the west line wants 20 more engines to clear evacuated trains. Omsk
short of engines. At 3 pm today there were 7 trains ready for east
and no engines available. All engines are going through to Barabinsk,
Novo Nikolaevsk and farther, none coming back. Road full on the east
bound track all the way to Barabinsk and trains consequently moving
very slowly into Tartarskaya, its a case of when Barabinsk accepts a
train that all the trains from there to Omsk move up a station. Our
Russian disprs here are keeping a very good train sheet record and
getting right after any trains that stand unnecessarily at any
station. No fleet movement started yet, road operating as per normal
rules. management has decided to give all operating dept employees a
bonus on each train above fifteen
handled each day.
Russian train rules do not permit a train to leave a station until there is a track clear for that train at the next station, they do not trust their engineers to approach a station under control, and to wait at the semaphore if a track is not ready. It is the only safe course. Semaphore lights are poor and uncertain due to poor lamps, no repair parts, wicks burners etc. and kerosene short, and there is much danger of an engr running a semaphore especially at night. No tail lights, and very dim if any head lights. Weather cold today, 10 above zero, and snowing and blowing. First real wintry weather. yesterday snowed and melted turning streets into a sea of slippery mud. All frozen today.
Lts. Simons and Ogg have been working with us in disprs office. This evening Simons says he has been ordered to accompany a Russian general to move Novo Nik and assist him in breaking the blockade there. This is a severe breach of courtesy for Col. Johnston of the Brit y Mission to send a man down on Major MacLaren's district without notifying either our Col. Johnson or Maj MacLaren and in fact trying to keep it secret as Simons was instructed not to say anything about it. Hornbeck is now at Novo Nik, familiar with the situation, and a better railroad man than Simons, altho Simons is a good man, and he is an American, too. This is in line with the British Railway Mission policy, they have sought to hinder rather than help us, even though we are supposed to be working together under the same agreement. Simply a matter of jealousy.
Col Gray, an English soldier of fortune, who has been in Russian service, making strenuous efforts to get east on the first train. I tried to help him find and A.R.C. train supposed to be leaving tonight. he has been dubbing along with the Russian war dept. in various services. Said to have organized the Cossacks last summer. They never did any fighting from what I can hear.
Hear this evening that Americans leave Monday, Consul general Harris & force, red Cross, major Slaughter & observers. Russian gov't has placed General Beloff in charge of Omsk evacuation and he has put a Russian colonel in charge of Omsk yard & all car movements, switching etc. must be approved by him.
General Janin is in charge of all arrangements for all foreigners.
Sunday Nov 2nd Plans now changed and we are to leave Tuesday night or Wednesday. Japs, English, French, Americans and Checks (sic). Half anticipated that when Czechs leave Omsk will go Bolshevik. there are about 600 Czechs left here. Understood that full Soviet government organized and officials appointed to take over government of Omsk.
Posters prominently displayed calling on people to remain loyal, to defend Omsk to the last, etc. Weather remains cold, temp Zero.
Nov 3rd Only 10 trains out Omsk yesterday, only 13 into Tartarskaya.
Fleet movements started on both lines west of Omsk, and at present
rate of moving trains the evacuation will require a month.
Hazard says this morning that Supt. Transpn Barabinsk proposes to use east bound track as a storage track at various places from Tartarskaya to Chulimskaya and then to single the west bound track. Railroad not full east of Barabinsk and the trouble seems to be a failure of the block system. Tartarskaya short of oil packing and dope, and coaling facilities everywhere are inadequate even in normal times. All water stations quipped with 3 inch spouts, requiring 40 minutes to fill an engine tank. These Russian engines do wonderfully well on water consumption. For instance, from Kelania (sp?), a water station to Tartarskaya, the next water station is thirty miles, and trains now are using up to 24 hours between these stations and there are very few engines running for water. Russians never abuse an engine as is customarily done on our American railroads.
Russian soldiers on guard at both ends of platform, and at all office doors. Have to argue, bluff and push to get into our own office. New men continually coming on guard, do not know us, and could not read even if we secured military permits to show them.
Evacuation trains loading every day. 25 people to a taplooshka and furnish their own stove if they want heat. Most all have stoves.
Nov 4th Now definitely settled that we leave Thursday at noon. Czechs
will send detail of men down here tomorrow to see that switching is
done. Russians promise anything, but are unable to fulfill their
trains out Omsk yesterday and 14 into Tartarskaya. Col.
Johnston of the British Ry. Mission
apparently does not realize danger of situation here. Has waited too
long in ordering his men, at least, it appears so. British officer,
Lt. MacLean, at Nazibaya, called for an American or British dispr to
answer Russian wire today and I responded. He and several other
British officers are 150 versts up the north line behind 35 trains
moving very slowly in a fleet movement and there is very a good
chance of these men being caught by the Reds. The
British railroad men are not accomplishing anything, and the Russians
do not want them at Omsk or west and have told them so.
they persist in hanging on after we leave is a mystery. One of their
military mission, Lt. Dempter, was talking to me today about being
the last out of Omsk and of cutting their way out. it
is expected that Omsk will go Bolshevik soon as the Czechs leave and
they will follow close behind us. Our
Col. Johnson has tried to get the real situation before Col. Johnston
and believe he has succeeded in arousing him somewhat.
we nor the British are now of any value on this disorganized railroad
Why they persist in hanging on after we leave is a mystery. One of their military mission, Lt. Dempter, was talking to me today about being the last out of Omsk and of cutting their way out. it is expected that Omsk will go Bolshevik soon as the Czechs leave and they will follow close behind us. Our Col. Johnson has tried to get the real situation before Col. Johnston and believe he has succeeded in arousing him somewhat.
Neither we nor the British are now of any value on this disorganized railroad and thereis no principle involved, and no glory to be won or lost. Russian military in charge. Rumors already afloat that the station will be attacked today or tomorrow. Kolchak now promising land to the peasants, and also a constitutional assembly, but "fraid" he is way too late.
Wed. Nov 5th Yesterday 19 trains out Omsk & 16 into Tartarskaya. Beginning to store trains on main line just east of Tartarskaya, also putting 10 trains in on line running south of Tartarskaya. No improvement in military situation. reds continue to advance. Dietrich's, minister of War, and many of his officers, have resigned and will leave here tomorrow for east.
Kolchak's family left last night, passed Tartarskaya today. Four trains of naval forces ordered to Omsk from Novo Nikolaevsk. Kolchak determined to make a fight for Omsk and will unless all his government and organizations crumble under him. Three military trains of some kind coming west today but being held out Omsk yard account no room.
Train dispatchers given authority to put trains on either track, or to put two in one block. Russians realizing the value of train dispatcher control of trains.
British placing men to replace us at Omsk and Novo Nikolaevsk. they also will put men at Tartarskaya and Chulimskaya. Very few railroad men among them. they use their interpreters at some points. However, they are good fellows and have good intentions, but the British make an effort to "play politics" more than we do.
Roubles are about 175 for a dollar, or else worthless entirely. One American Red Cross train left today for east. Put 'em on westward track and they are making fair progress. Two more A.R.C. trains yet to go, one with patients, one supplies in charge of Capt. Shirette who plans to stop at Barabinsk and give out supplies to passing refugees. Very hard to get these A.R.C. people started. From 25 to 30 trains moving east between here and Tartarskaya all the time. using, on an average, about 36 hours.
zero, clear. Very fine.
Thurs. Nov 6th 17 trains out yesterday and 24 into Tartarskaya. Plan to fleet trains eastward on both tracks. Capt. Myers says Bolsheviks are only 140 versts from Novo Nikolaevsk and coming pretty fast up the Altai line. 13 crews refused to work last night at Novo Nikolaevsk account no warm clothing. Col. Emerson coming west on a special train, not by Taigo yet.
Government bureaus and railroad general offices pretty well evacuated.
Friday Nov 7th left Omsk 1250 pm. Train no. 716 on westward track from Moskavka (sp?). 17 cars. Consul General Harris, U.S. agriculture agent, Red Cross and Railroad Mission all on this train. Got as far as Ocokino (sp?) today. 8 hrs here 5 1/2 at Gustofevo (sp?).
Saturday Nov 8th Standing at Ocokino since midnight, about fifty versts from Omsk. seven trains passed us during the night, including No 16 general Knox's train which left Omsk 10 o'clock pm 10 hours after us. This is an example of our own inefficiency and of the attention an American train gets from the English. it is evident that neither the Consul General, Mr. Harris, nor our officers took the matter up with the proper officials of the railroad to have instructions issued giving our train a preference run. all relied upon the French General Janin, who was in charge of all foreigners leaving Omsk, and the Czech commandant. And nothing was done. Lt. Wells, our train master, is the man who got our train switched, and moved, and he did it through the Russians.
In spite of allied missions, commissions, boards, experts, advisers, Czech soldiers, and everything else foreign in Siberia, it is the Russians that are running the Russian railroads. All the Russian officials are well educated men, and many of them are excellent railroaders. the accomplishment of the work we were supposed to do on this railroad demanded the transfer of supreme authority to us, this authority to be exercised through the regular Russian officers. the high railroad and government officials of Siberia have never granted us that power in spite of a contract to do so, signed last March. since then we have been trying to get this power and put it into effect and the Russians have been opposing us. Especially the military and the reactionary nachalniks have been opposed to us, because to put us in charge of operation would have curtailed the activities of the military commandants and nachalniks and cut out a great deal of their graft. We feel that it is not alone these mentioned Russians but also Japanese and, to some extent, British jealousy and politics that have foiled our aims.
It now develops that we laid at Ocokino so long because General Knox of the British Military Mission practically tied up the railroad pending the movement of his train. he had gone to Ostrugoff, Minister of Communications and Transportation, and arranged to have instructions issued giving his train a fast movement. This resulted in a twelve hour delay to most of the trains between Omsk and Tartarskaya including important west bound trains. Col. B. O. Johnson speaking today of this delay said he had considered the matter of special movement and had determined not to ask for it, but to get out of Omsk as quietly as possible, giving as little trouble as possible to the Russians. I am glad that our movement has been made as it has. We have asked for and received no special favors, but have moved down the line pretty much with the current of the traffic; only having a man constantly on duty who at each station would go in the station, talk with the (wd??) and try to arrange with him and the dispatcher to let our train crawl in on some track, or to squeeze on the next station. So we made Tartarskaya in 27 hours, laid there six hours and made Barabinsk, 144 versts, in 14 hours.
The train and two engine crews we have are men from evacuated territory, separated from their families, and say they want go with us all the way to Vladivostok. We are feeding them regularly which means a great deal to them in these times. As I leave Omsk and come eastward in a comfortable car with plenty of food and clothing I sure do feel for the Russians that are evacuating Omsk. Most of them are travelling in taplooshkas, 25 to a car, with, it is a cinch, very little baggage, abandoning their heavy belongings, with a small store of provisions, fuel scarce and expensive. Only a small percent of the population of Omsk are leaving there, but at that there are very many trainloads, and additional train-loads from the west and north lines. Where these refugee expect to go to I do not know. The country from Novo Nikolaevsk to Irkutsk, 1700 versts, has absolutely about its limit of refugees. And there is a strong chance of all this territory turning Bolsheviki for from Taiga to Krasnoyarsk has been a hot bed of trouble for the last year, even though patrolled by Czechs.
It is truly wonderful that this railroad continues to operate. What are the men working for - it is not money because their currency is pretty close to being mere paper, there is no promotion, no reward, in sight. They will receive as good treatment from the Reds as from the present government, many of them are Bolsheviks in tendency. If so why do they not do many of the little things that it is in their power to do at this time which would badly delay or tie up the road. But they are loyal. They cannot be hurried and often one raves over the slowness of the Russians, but now, at a most critical time, he is working as slowly, as easily as ever, and as a result, the road is not shut -
Each Rusky (sic) seems to keep plugging away at what ever big or little task that Providence and the powers that be have assigned him to. The yard men, engine crews, switch crews, switch tenders, yard cleaners, scavengers, water tenders, provodniks, station-office-forces, shop, round house men, all are working same as ever. Of course they are afraid of the military, but at such a time how extremely easy it would be to practice sabotage with no danger of detection. There is a stronger connection between the Russians and their road than one might think.
Weather half rain, half snow, strong wind.
10th 8 am Laid all night since 10 pm, at this point, two stations
west of Chulimskaya. Chulimskaya yard plugged account not enough east
8 am moved to next station, should make Chulimskaya by noon. Arrived Chulimskaya 320 pm dep 6 pm.
Nov 11th arrived Novo Nik 3 am
Nov 12th All but Col. Johnson, Maj Hazard & Capt. Myers are to leave for east tomw.
Nov 13th Evacuated Novo Nik quarters. We left town 11 pm on train No. 54 a French echelon carrying French wireless station force and equipment from Omsk & also one car Chinese from Omsk. Delayed at Novo Nik waiting for trains of General Dietrichs and Admiral Kolchak to get out ahead of us. Kolchak moving east very quietly.
14th 8 am Standing at a siding about 30 miles east of Novo
Nikolaevsk, engine gone. Finally got another engine and made Bolotno
by 6 pm. Yard full and very dirty between tracks.
Nov 15 Left Bolotno 5 am, arrived Taiga 5 pm. Dick Jones, MacGinty & Maj. Stevenson, a new mechanical dept. man. Was in France in railway service one year. Bill Meredith put off here. Very short of engines (sic) crews and room on this road or they think they are. Only the terminals are full. Sidings clear. Passenger trains running from here east.
16th Sunday left Taiga 715 pm
Nov 17th Held out Marinsk 7 hours, arrived Marinsk 5 pm. Yard plugged.
Nov 18th Lt. George Sherdet and I hired drosky (sleigh) and made trip over to town. About 15,000 population. Found Caucasian silver belt in a jewelry store & bought it for 1500 roubles. Bought bread for car at seven roubles a foont. And a gunny sack to carry it in for 45 roubles. Town 2 versts from station. Drosky driver asked for 150 roubles, gave him 75, probably 75 or a hundred was correct change. These small town people do not know how near worthless their paper dengi (sic) is. Hear that Reds are now 40 versts this side of Omsk. Omsk taken Saturday and now on fire. Bridge over Irtish blown up. Outbreak in Irkutsk. From here to Krasnoyarsk bad Bolshevik territory.
Consul General Harris at Novo Nik this morning. Our 3 officers still there. Left Marinsk 3 pm. Hear rumor that Japs have ordered Russian troops to evacuate Vladivostok. Saw about 250 peasant boys marching along Marinsk street, singing their Siberian songs, being drilled for what, they won't fight. Russians trying get Czechs to attack Reds & retake Omsk. Czechs all along Tomsk railway. Arrived Bogotal 11 pm. Alexander Sherdet and Howry off here. Find Ray Morse, Paxton and Trafton here.
Nov 19th Left Marinsk 6 am Move slowly. Stop at every station and stand a long time at most of them. A Russian sanitary train caught up to us and came in on adjoining track at one station. All taplooshkas. Wounded, typhus, etc. Car beside ours took a dead man out. They said were 28 in car leaving the front, now only 10.
20th Arrived Krasnoyarsk 12 noon. Hornbeck, Geiss and myself off here
and one interpreter. Very comfortable quarters but crowded a little.
Austrian prisoners for cook and waiter.
Nov 21st Very cold & windy. Macharen, Wells, Parker, Slaughter & crowd joined onto train of Consul General Harris and left at noon for Irkutsk. Ray, of Novo Nikolaevsk, not with Harris.
Saw a bunch of people standing by a box car in railroad across from station. Went over to see what was up and found them unloading dead men. Two carts loaded, piled up like cord wood and tied down with ropes. Bodies frozen stiff. half naked, dirty, awful appearing. Not enough snow to cover ground. Temperature about 10 degrees below Fahrenheit. Several nachalniks of the Tomsk Ry ate supper with us. They believe that Germany is responsible for the Bolshevik movement and success, now and from the very beginning. Does not seem to occur to them that there might be a strong dissatisfaction on the part of the people, they place no blame on Kolchak, but blame all the trouble on the Germans and Jews.
Nov 22 Saty. Fine clear day, temp zero. Bought a Russian woolen shawl for 850 roubles, and changeable color silk tablecloth for 1300 roubles in the second bazar (sic). Lot of fur for sale, this was one of the main fur marts of Siberia.
29th Saty. R.R.S. men from Bogotal all arrived here last night. Col.
Johnson, Hazard & Myers and Blunt with Larson & fellows from
Taigo (sic) left Taigo Tuesday night, not showed up at Marinsk yet
and unable locate them or get any word to them. Maj
Peterson says for everyone to be prepared to move east. Russians
are evacuating Magyar war prisoners from camp here, taking them to
Nikolsk I hear.
Railroad scratching along at about half capacity, coal reserve entirely exhausted, and miners refusing to work account no clothing for winter. There are coal miners near Taigo also east of us. Road apt to tie up completely.
moving eastward and nothing much except Czechs are moving. It
is said that the Bolshevik are now at Novo Nikolaevsk or a bit east
of there, Czechs are out, and seem to be planning to move east ahead
of the Reds all along the line. some
of the local nachalniks have already left Krasnoyarsk and the others
are planning to leave.
Only nahcalniks & families and military officers and families will be evacuated. Civilians are up against it. Banks have evacuated from Krasnoyarsk and the railroad has no Siberian money with which to pay the employees. So Dutoff (sic) money is being used. Do not know where this came from. Originally it was issued in Orenberg and was all recalled. merchants are accepting it at some value as Siberian money which is down to 300 to 500 for a dollar. Present it is planned to put some of us Novo Nik & Taigo men off on Irvines (sp??) district between here and Irkutsk. This would include C.E.H. & myself.
Dec 4th Left Krasnoyarsk 945 am on Czech echelon no. 54. Hornbeck Lt Alexander, Meredith, J.R. Jones, Howry, Trafton & Sherdet. Arr. Klukbenaya 10 pm
Dec 5th Left Klukbenaya 4 am. Dick Jones & Sherdet off at Eclanskaya.
Dec 6th Arr Ecklanskaya 830 a (sic) dep 130 pm
Dec 7th Passed Taishet in night, no Americans there.
Dec 8th arr'd. Nishni Udinsk 7 am. Alexander & Meredith withdrew resignations. Maj. Irvine, Hornbeck, Drukey, Trafton & myself released to go home. "Pluto" Hutchins here, wants to go home. D.J. Alexander wishes to remain. Departed no. 4 for Irkutsk. Pluto now wires that he wishes to remain.
Dec 10th Arrived Irkutsk 9 pm
the year of its existence Kolchaks (sic) government has drafted
750,000 men. Its fighting force this summer and fall has been about
50,000 to 75,000 with probably 50,00 men in the supply service.
Rations and supplies for about 500,000 have been going to the Front
and not enough to feed and clothe the men actually there has reached
the Front. Along
about Sept. a Mr. Tretiakoff, who had been a successful and highly
respected line (sic) business man of Moscow, made his way to Omsk and
was appointed Minister of Trade and Commerce by Kolchak. At a cabinet
meeting held the first of Nov. he took the floor held it all evening,
and before all of them, told Kolchak what crooked dirty work his
cabinet had done, and showed Kolchak that his ministers were
responsible for the impending downfall of the government. the
ministers tried to stop him, but he insisted on being heard, and
declared that he wanted to be on record as having revealed to Kolchak
the character of the work done by these men.
Last we heard of Kolchak, he was at Novo Nikolaevsk and had attempted to move east but each time some one had blown up track east of him. Big bridge across Ob blown.
Not enough cars to move Poles and they are moving out on foot. Reds have captured 140 trains between Novo Nik and Omsk, a great many cars and engines at Omsk and also 25,000 men, 10,000 officers, and 30,000 complete British uniforms. At Nizhni Udinsk I saw a copy of the proclamation issued by the Czechs in which they protest against being held in Siberia and disclaim any responsibility for the acts of bloodshed and violence committed by the Kolchak regime.
Dec 11th Left Irkutsk 11 pm train No. 4. Party includes Irvine, Hornbeck, Trafton, Eck, Jones, Hirsh, Drukey.At Adrianovka 48 hours for engine, Lt. Grigg here. Jap special passed us here, asked them to take us to Manchuria - refused. Many trains Czechs on Za Baikal between Irkutsk and Manchuria. Relations of Semyonov forces and Czechs and Americans strained. Semyonov trying to block Czechs moving home.
Dec. 18th Arv'd. Olovanya (sic) 8 am, dep 1 pm on 19th Became sick hereBorzia
Dec. 19th arv'd. 6 pm dep 730 pm Manchuria arv'd. 7 am
Dec 20th Dep on No. 6 945 am
Dec 21st Tough riding. Harbin (sic) Arv'd. 6 am
Dec 23rd walked over to barracks for breakfast, saw Dr., who ordered me to bed. Hornbeck staying with me. Doctor says I have typhus. And he is right
Jan 24th left Harbin for Vladivostok on train 6, have a second class sleeper, a made up diner & chink evoko (sic)and Rusky box for baggage. In party Snavely Matthews, Howry, Dr. Davis, Grant, Paxton, Morse, Larson, Hornbeck, Jones. Able to walk the five blocks from hospital to cars but no more. Pretty weak. Pogranichnaya arr'd. 8 am
Jan 26th news Nikolsk to Groekovo taken be Social Revol. party. Train movement stopped. dep on frt train 9 pm Arrd Nikolsk 7 am
Jan 27th Dep 4 pm
Jan 29th U S troops
Jan 28th. train consisted our cars, coach load Social R. delegates, and Jap armored cars. Nikolsk orderly, all stores open, streets patrolled. Guard around our barracks. Station east of Nikolsk also in hands of S R's or the Reds. Arrd. Vlady 130 am
Jan 29th U S troopsguarding station. And American guard there, also Gen Graves and staff to see Russian delegates not harmed Transport Thomas not in. Our cars moved to army base.
Jan 1st Social Revolutionaries take Vladivostok no opposition, Japs in bad, Rosannov sheltered by Japanese. No disorder in city Patrolled by U.S. troops and Marines & Jackies. Machine guns on streets. Str (sic) Thomas gone to Manilla (sic).
Great Northern arrd. Vlad'y Feb 4th Depts 230 pm Feb 5.
Feb. 1920 miles Sea
5 Left Vlad 3 PM
6 342 Heavy side swell - Boat rolling
6 84 Arrived Hokodate 5 PM Noon to 5PM
7 000 Left 8:30 PM
8 240 Long heavy head on swells - clowdy & clear Boat pitching
9 355.8 ditto - NE Wind
10 350.8 ditto
11 365 Stormy high NE wind - rocking
12 181 ditto
12 293 Easy sea
13 407 Heavy sea
14 398 Heavy sea
15 408 Heavy sea
16 440 Calm
17 446 Shore swells
18 Arrive Frisco 9 am. Very fine calm day.