— The Great War & Revolution Years ~ 1914-1922

Full Service Records of Mechanical Engineer Senior Lieutenant Vladislav Pio-Ulski. Compiled on March 1(?), 1916.
Rank, First Name and Surname: Mechanical Engineer Senior Lieutenant Vladislav Vladislavovich Pio-Ulski
Position: (???)
Medals and Ribbons: Cavalier of the 3rd Degree St. Stanislaus; (???) Bronze Medal in memory of 200 years of the Gangut Victory (see The Battle of Gangut)
Date of birth: September 23, 1878
Rank and Place of Origin: Son of hereditary nobleman of Mogilev province
Religion: Catholic
Education: The Marine Engineering College
Salary: empty field
[Source: The Great War. A Guide to the Service Records of All the World’s Fighting Men and Volunteers. (World War I) by Christina K Schaefer. Page 116. Kindly translated by Inna Donaldson]

WWPio-UlskiWlaydslaw was promoted to Mechanical Engineer Lieutenant on December 6, 1914.


Medals issued to Wladyslaw during his time in the Imperial Russian Navy…

Bicentenary Medal commemorating the Victory of the Battle of Gangut 1714-1914

Bicentenary Medal commemorating the Victory of the Battle of Gangut 1714-1914

Medal of St Stanislas, 3rd Degree

Medal of St Stanislaus, 3rd Degree (worn in the buttonhole on the same ribbon with a width of 5/8″)


Gangut medal on a gold chain

Gangut medal on a gold chain

Although 94,000 medals for the bicentenary of the Battle of Gangut were struck, the outbreak of the First Word War meant that only about 10,000 were actually issued.

This medal was struck shortly before WWI began (it was the last Imperial Russian medal to be awarded in peace time) and few books even mention it, probably because only Navy personnel received it. The gold chain is highly unusual as no other Russian medal has such a device attached to it.




At the time of writing, I have no further information to tell you about Wladyslaw but this was what my nephew – who did some serious research a few years ago – says he found out!  🙂

I have no documents to back up this up so am just passing on what I was told.

«I now have copies of his service records, which are interesting – for example, it would appear that he spoke fluent Russian, Polish, English and French; he also listed his wife and three children (two catholic, one orthodox), and was characterized as a Polish nobleman.

«In 1916 Wladyslaw was stationed with the Black Sea fleet and his family moved to Vladivostok. During 1917 he was transferred to the White Sea (Archangelsk) where he participated in the White movement and combat against the Bolsheviks. In 1919 he was evacuated by the British General Ironsides together with Allied Intervention Troops, and he subsequently made his way to Poland, his mother’s country of origin, by way of Paris. Upon arrival in Poland he joined the Polish Navy.»

Now, according to George’s birth certificate, he was christened in Vladivostok in 1911, so did they go back to Sevastopol afterwards, while Wladyslaw was stationed with the Black Sea fleet, or did they stay in Vladivostok?

A question which might never be answered  🙁




The commander of the naval forces in the Black Sea was Vice-Admiral Andrew Avgustovich Eberhard from 1911 but 5 years later, in 1916, he was removed from his post and replaced by Admiral Aleksandr Vasilyevich Kolchak.

Aleksandr Vasilyevich Kolchak

Aleksandr Vasilyevich Kolchak

Kolchak graduated from the Sea Cadet Corps in Saint Petersburg in 1894 and his first post was as Assistant Watch Officer on the cruiser «Rurik», stationed in the Far East.

I got quite excited when I read that as I thought Wladyslaw might have served with Kolchak on that ship but the dates weren’t right.  He was transferred to another ship in 1898, before Wladyslaw joined the cruiser, but who knows, they might have bumped into each other in St Petersburg or when Kolchak was stationed in Vladivostok.

When he returned to Kronstadt, he joined Eduard Toll’s Russian Polar expedition on the «Zarya», a steam- and sail-powered brig, as a hydrologist, in 1900.

Crew of the Zarya

Crew of the Zarya

A few years after 1909 Kolchak was transferred to the Baltic Fleet and was promoted to Captain First Rank. Perhaps it was there that he met up with Wladyslaw?

After the downfall of the Tsar in February 1917, Aleksandr Kolchak swore loyalty to the newly formed Russian Provisional Government. He did his best to save the Black Sea Fleet from the mass of unrest which saw sailors trying to disarm their officers and as a sign of protest, he threw his golden sabre, which was awarded to him for services during the Russo-Japanese War, into the waters of Sevastopol.

He was invited to visit the United States in August of 1917, which he accepted. Although invited to stay, Kolchak declined and headed back to Russia. He was in Japan, heading back to Russia when he heard about the October Revolution and how the Provisional Government was overthrown by the Bolsheviks, headed by Vladimir Lenin.

Kolchak disapproved of this and contacted the English Command to allow him to join their Army. In December 1917 he heard he’d been approved to serve with the English and was on his way to the Mesopotamian Front, where both the Russian and English troops were fighting against the Turks.

Kolchak reviewing the troops in 1919

Kolchak reviewing the troops in 1919

As fate would have it, Kolchak was never to get to that front as he was redirected to Manchuria and Siberia and on November 18, 1918, he pronounced Supreme Ruler of Russia.

During Kolchak’s time in Siberia, a major portion of the Imperial Russian gold reserves was sent to Kazan as there was a fear that Germans troops might occupy Petrograd (the name was changed from St Petersburg in 1914 as it was thought that it sounded too Germanic), where it was housed. On March 10, 1918, Lenin moved the seat of government to Moscow due to the same concern of the Germans reaching Petrograd.

By the summer of 1918 the State Bank in Kazan held more than half of all of Russia’s gold reserves but in August the city was captured by units of the Czechoslovakian Legion and portions of the People’s Army of Komuch under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Vladimir Oskarovich Kappel.

The gold was brought to the State Bank’s Omsk branch on October 13, 1918, and was henceforth known as «Kolchak’s Gold». This has never been recovered and here have been many legends and stories about where it might have disappeared to and many attempts to find it.

Sadly, it was only a year later that the Bolsheviks managed to retake much of Siberia, captured and arrested Kolchak.  On February 7, 1920, he was put in front of a firing squad and executed.



A White Russian poster

A poster showing White Russians attacking the Red Menace

As my family members are aware, I’ve always been an Anglophobe and since childhood I’ve felt that the English could have done a heck of a lot more to help the Imperial Family and the White Russians during the Revolution.

It would appear that I was not alone in my thoughts! Look at these quotes about the allied intervention in Archangel:

«Weapons and equipment, which the British supplied the White Army, proved to be defective. The shells did not explode, rifle did not fire, and the aircraft could not fly.»

(In Russian: Oружие и снаряжение, которым англичане снабжали Белую армию, оказывалось бракованным. Снаряды не взрывались, винтовки не стреляли, а самолеты не могли взлететь.)

«The British promised weapons. Shells, uniforms and supplies. Would be better if they did not promise anything! Shotguns sent them kept no more than three shots after the fourth cartridge so tight wedging in the muzzle that pull it could only be in the studio.» — Alexander Kuprin, “Dome of St. Isak Dalmatia.”

(In Russian: «Англичане обещали оружие. Снаряды, обмундирование и продовольствие. Лучше бы они ничего не обещали! Ружья, присланные ими, выдерживали не более трех выстрелов, после четвертого патрон так крепко заклинивался в дуле, что вытащить его можно было только в мастерской» — Александр Куприн, «Купол святого Исакия Далматского».)

Two quotes by Prince Alexander Troubetzkoy:
«The Entente was interested in the fact that what was promised at the time of tsarist Russia, where it would be among the winners of the First World War. For example, Russia was to gain influence, for example, the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles. This did not suit the West. And everything was done to Russia did not get the fruits of the First World War.»

(In Russian:  Александр Трубецкой, князь : «Антанта была заинтересована в том, чтобы то, что было обещано в свое время царской России, когда она стала бы среди победителей Первой Мировой войны.»)

«Because it was a complete sham, constant deception. And as for the ammunition – too: there were some sent weapons, but are not designed for operations in the Russian context, obsolete, for example. As “red” has all the arsenal that was supposed to be used for the final offensive, which would lead Russia to victory over Germany and Austria.»

(In Russian: Александр Трубецкой, князь: «Потому что это был полный обман, постоянный обман. И что касается боеприпасов — тоже: были какие-то присланы оружия, но не приспособлены для действий в российских условиях, устаревшие, например. Так как «красные» располагали всем арсеналом, который должен был быть использован для конечного наступления, которое привело бы Россию к победе над Германией, Австрией».)
[Source: Revolution of 1917 organized the British]

I haven’t any information to tell you about what Wladyslaw did in Archangel and, to date, there is nothing on the Internet to indicate which ship/ships he was on. Obviously I’ll keep looking but until something turns up, I have to give you “foreign” accounts of what it was like in Archangel when Wladyslaw was transferred there in 1917.

I found a snippet taken from a site showing a list of Russian Naval Officers from a book by S V Volkoff, which mentions Wladyslaw …

Pio Ulsky Vladislav Vladislavovich

(1878 – 1901) Marine Engineering College in 1901. Lieutenant, a mechanical engineer in the white troops of the Northern Front, to 1918.10. Flotilla on the Arctic Ocean. [Volkov SV Naval officers … Moscow, 2004]

This shows the ships which were involved in the flotilla but there is nothing to show which one Wladyslaw was on  …

«At the end of 1917 the fleet consisted of the battleship “Scesma” (formerly “Poltava”), the cruiser “Askold” and “Varyag” (the latter with two destroyers was in Liverpool for repairs, where they have been illegally seized by the British), 6 destroyers, 3 submarines, 10 minesweepers, minelayer “Ussuri” 7 icebreakers and more than 20 support vessels. In February 1918 a fleet defected to the Soviet government. In August, the core combat fleet in the Kola room was in the hands of the White Guards and interventionists. Some of the ships that were in Arkhangelsk, managed to lead the Northern Dvina to Kotlas, where they had formed the North Dvina Flotilla, which supported the Red Army units in combat with the Whites. After the liberation of the North 26.5 in 1920 was disbanded, and its ships joined the Naval Forces of the North Sea.»
[Source: History of the Russian Navy]

Ice jamming the Dvina River

Ice jamming the Dvina River


Archangel (Arkhangelsk), is situated on the White Sea, a southern inlet of the Barents Sea located on the northwest coast of Russia.

The weather there was pretty brutal in those days (and probably is as bad now too!) and the sea is only free from ice during the summer months – June, July and August!  Now wonder it was called the White Sea, since it’s covered with ice 9 months of the year! Augh!!!  🙁

According to Wiki …«The city resisted Bolshevik rule from 1918 to 1920 and was a stronghold of the anti-Bolshevik White Army supported by the military intervention of British-led Entente forces along an Allied expedition, including a North American contingent known as the Polar Bear Expedition.»

Polar Bear Expedition - the 339th Infantry Regiment doughboys

Polar Bear Expedition – the 339th Infantry Regiment doughboys

In April 1918 a German division landed in Finland and the Allies were fearful that the Germans would try and capture the Murmansk-Petrograd railroad, the strategic port of Murmansk and even the of Archangel, with its vast stockpiles of allied armaments.

Faced with this series of events, the leaders of the British and French governments decided that the Allies needed to begin a military intervention in North Russia.  They hoped to achieve three major objectives:

  1. Prevent the Allied war material stockpiles in Archangel from falling into German or Bolshevik hands.

  2. Mount an offensive to rescue the Czechoslovak Legion, which was stranded along the Trans-Siberian Railroad.

  3. Resurrect the Eastern Front by defeating the Bolshevik army with the assistance of the Czech Legion and an expanded anti-Bolshevist force and in process stop the spread of communism and the Bolshevik cause in Russia..

[Source: Naval Actions of the Russian Civil War Part 1 by Simon Stokes]

Archangel in the summer

Archangel in the summer


Archangel Expedition of 1918

This expedition has parallels to the Gallipoli campaign of 1915 in that:

  • it was a good idea in theory and a failure in practice
  • its intention was to open a second front
  • it involved the British navy and British and Commonwealth land forces
  • it was the child of Churchill and is sometimes called “Churchill’s War”
  • its commander was given almost no warning of his role and no time to prepare for it.

The collapse of the Russian government and the overthrow of the Czar was a matter of great interest to the Allies. The Czar’s departure was the key to Woodrow Wilson’s decision to commit American forces to the Great War. Until that happened, he wasn’t prepared to.

With the fall of the government, Russian commitment to the war ceased, allowing the Germans to close the Eastern Front and concentrate all their forces on the Western Front. Realise that Lenin was given safe passage to Russia by the Germans precisely to cause this to happen. As soon as he came to power, an armistice with Germany was signed, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in March 1918.

The rise of the Bolsheviks was seen as an intense threat that needed nullifying.

The key to doing this was the city of Archangel. The English and French governments decided to send an expedition there: to prevent extensive stockpiles of armaments falling into German/Bolshevik hands; to rescue the Czech Legion which at the time was stranded along the Trans-Siberian railway; and to defeat the Bolsheviks. (“Strangle them at birth” was the way Churchill described it.)

Being desperately short of troops, the Americans were invited to participate. Which they did in a minor way, mostly in a guard keeping role. They arrived in September 1918.

Lieut.-Colonel Edmund Ironside was placed in charge of the expedition and soon after arriving, found himself CinC as the actual CinC, Gen. Poole took a month’s leave and never returned. His brief was: ‘Your business in North Russia is to hold the fort until the local Russians can take the field. You are to prepare for a winter campaign.’

Ironside later wrote:

“The coming winter campaign might have daunted anyone. We were proposing to occupy a great area with very few troops, none of whom had any experience of Arctic weather, with the sole exception of the Canadians. There were no troops trained to run on skis or snow shoes, and it was now too late to train them. The whole country was one vast forest, a swamp in early and late summer, deep in snow in winter.
There were no roads, so that mechanical transport could not be used, but countless tracks led in every direction, and no existing maps showed where they ran.”

Murmansk was captured in July 1918. Using this as a base, a combined naval and air force captured Modiuga Island thus allowing the capture of Archangel in August 1918. Safely in their hands, several thousand White Russians immediately volunteered to join this army.

The Royal Navy successfully contained the Bolshevik fleet in St. Petersburg, at the time called Petrograd. Several raids by the RAF and Coastal Motor Torpedo Boats into the harbour, inflicted much damage.

The army stayed in Archangel a year, managing to keep control of it. But the Bolsheviks were able to concentrate their forces there after the German Armistace and Archangel became totally isolated.

Further, popular opinion in England was rising dramatically against the expedition and there were instances of a few British soldiers refusing to fight and being court-martailed. And the Russians mutinied and were deserting in droves. The Americans withdrew in May 1919.

Finally, a withdrawal from Archangel was planned and executed in August/September 1919. It was felt that there was no alternative. The British naval base was closed in September. The blockade ended in January 1920. A total of 13,000 British and 2,000 French troops had to be withdrawn. The withdrawal from Murmansk took place in October. And they never did rescue the Czech Legion, which fought its way out in February 1920. Archangel fell to the Red Army in February 1920, the remaining White Russians having been led at the time by the British Gen. Miller.

On his return to England, Ironside was demoted and put on half pay until the government read the despatches. He was then promoted to Major General on full pay. In 1939 he was to go to France as a field-marshal and Chief of the Imperial General Staff.

In all, 5 VC’s were awarded, three to the Royal Navy and two to Australian soldiers. There is no campaign medal and no official history. Britain and France recognised the USSR in 1924.

[Source: worldnavalships.com forum]

The final evacuation of the allies from Archangel took place on September 27th 1919, the British and French governments leaving only limited supplies of food and war materiel for their erstwhile Russian allies with which to carry on the resistance and keep the population fed over the winter. General Miller and his White Russian forces did not immediately collapse following the allied withdrawal however, but neither were the Bolsheviks in a hurry to crush them now that the allies had departed, instead diverting forces further south and east where they were more urgently needed to defeat Denikin and Kolchak. In the end though their collapse was inevitable as desertion and mutiny caused Miller’s white Russian army simply to disintegrate.

According to what my nephew claims to have found out, Wladyslaw was evacuated by General Ironside, together with the Allied Intervention Troops. I guess the reason was that he wasn’t a Russian so he made his way back to Poland via Paris and joined the Polish Navy.


The following is a documentary about the …

Allied Intervention in Northern Russia 1918 1919 with General Ironside’s Forces




Interesting videos 

With General Ironside’s Forces in North Russia …




Video showing the White Movement in Russia during the Civil War. The music in the clip is called “Holy Russia” …



I was reading a rather depressing book by Anthony Sutton about how Wall Street financed the Revolution and found more information at a website called Clarity of Signal. I have copied the information about Wall Street’s and the Skull and Bones Society’s involvement for easier reading …

Wall Street’s Involvement in the Russian Revolution



Websites worth reading for more information:






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