American Polar Bears in Russia

Soldiers of the 339th Infantry and the Archangel Campaign, 1918–1919


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About the Book

At the end of World War I, the U.S. Army 339th Infantry—nicknamed the “Polar Bears”—was deployed to northern Russia to prevent Allied supplies stockpiled near the port city of Archangel from falling into the hands of the Bolsheviks. Drawing on firsthand accounts from men in the regiment, their 18-month campaign is narrated from the point of view of the riflemen, NCOs and officers of companies I and M. Each chapter highlights an individual soldier’s experience fighting the Red Army and the Arctic winter, a quarter century before the Cold War.

About the Author(s)

William Thomas Venner has researched and written widely about the American Civil War. His articles have appeared in Civil War Times Illustrated, Journal of Field Archaeology, and America’s Civil War. A retired teacher of history and archaeology in schools and at the college level, he lives in Huntersville, North Carolina.

Bibliographic Details

William Thomas Venner
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 218
Bibliographic Info: 40 photos, 8 maps, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8650-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4838-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction 5
1. Camp Custer, Michigan—The 339th Infantry Is Formed 7
2. The 339th Heads to the Western Front 15
3. Why America Sent Troops to Russia 23
4. First American Troops in Russia 29
5. The Americans Settle In 40
6. A Muddled Assault 49
7. Assault on Verst 455 60
8. A Change in Strategy 72
9. The Great War Ends 77
10. Archangel 83
11. On the Front Lines 91
12. The March to Pinega 99
13. The Pinega Campaign 107
14. Winter on the Railroad Front 118
15. A Mutiny in Name Only 126
16. The Fight for Bolshie Ozerki 134
17. Prisoners 147
18. Spring 1919 154
19. Homeward Bound 163
20. Bringing Home the Fallen 175
Chapter Notes 187
Bibliography 203
Index 207