The extraordinary story of a British World War I captain who became an unlikely cult hero while battling the communist Bolsheviks during the Russian Civil War has come to light after his medals and photos sold for £ 7,500.
Captain William Richardson was thrown into the conflict along with other Allied war veterans after troops were sent to Russia to support the Imperial White Army in their civil war against the Bolsheviks in 1919.
Many British troops, as well as troops from France, the US and Japan, were sent out in 1918 to participate in the fight against the Red Army in an attempt to restore the Eastern Front.
Captain William Richardson’s collection of images and medals, depicted in traditional Russian clothing, told the story of his involvement in the Russian Civil War, fighting with the White Army against the Communist Bolsheviks before his death in 1920, aged 37
Richardson was 31 when war broke out and served two years in Borneo and Hong Kong before joining the battle in Russia in 1918 after Allied forces were forced to intervene to prevent the spread of communism
The incredible collection of photos documenting the time of the Birmingham-born soldier in the conflict shows that he adopts the Russian military lifestyle with a traditional Russian hat and a large fur coat.
Captain Richardson was praised by the anti-communist Cossacks, who sometimes fought independently and sometimes as a White Army faction, distinguished him for his outstanding service to their cause.
The war hero served in Southern Russia and earned the respect of the local people for helping to train and equip their soldiers.
When he died suddenly of pneumonia at the age of 37 in 1920, his death was mourned by the Cossacks and the residents of the area of the Black Sea port of Novo Rossisk whom he helped defend.
His archive, which includes the Russian Imperial Order of Saint Anna and five photo albums depicting his travels around the world, is sold at auction in London.
Captain William Richardson received many awards for his services, including the Russian Order of the St. Anne Civil Division (left), the Order of the St. Anne Military Division (center) and the Order of the St. Stanislas Medal (right)
The collection contains the epaulettes of a Russian officer (left) and the plaque of Captain William and the British war and victory medals (right)
The British World War I hero was praised by the anti-communist Cossacks who decorated him for his cause for his service
Why did Allied forces intervene in the Russian Civil War?
In November 1917, the Russian Civil War broke out when several factions vied for the power to determine the country’s political future.
The Socialist Bolshevik Party, led by Vladimir Lenin, had overthrown the provisional government when various groups fought for control.
The two largest groups involved in the fighting were the Communist Red Army and the White Army, which favored capitalism and monarchism.
The White Army was a union of anti-Bolshevik groups, including peasant militias, the Black Army (Ukrainian anarchists), and other groups that fought for their state’s independence from the Russian Empire, led by Tsarist officers.
The war lasted until June 1923, and 13 foreign nations joined the fight against the Red Army.
Troops of Russia’s former allies in World War I, including the UK, US, France and Japan, intervened.
The countries were forced to join after the Bolsheviks withdrew from the World War in March 1918 and signed the Brest-Litovsk Treaty, transferring the territory to Germany.
In the peace agreement, Ukraine, Georgia and Finland gained independence from Russia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were transferred to Germany and Austria-Hungary and Kars, Ardahan and Batum were given to Turkey.
The loss of territory weakened the Allied forces and they were forced to intervene to restore the Eastern Front.
The peace agreement also left the pro-Allied Czechoslovak region stuck in Russia and Germany had the opportunity to use Russian equipment.
In addition to sending troops, the countries gave parts of the White Army financial support in an effort to stop the spread of communism in Europe.
The intervention was relatively small and involved about 200,000 soldiers from all over the world.
A year after their participation in the battle, the French withdrew their troops in March and April 1919, followed closely by British soldiers who left Arkhangelsk and Murmansk in the fall of that year. and southern Russia in 1920.
In 1919, the Red Army defeated the White Army in Ukraine and Serbia. The fighting continued in pockets two years later, including a battle in Crimea that ended the civil war in November 1920.
The war eventually ended when the Bolsheviks secured communist control of the new Soviet Union in 1923.
The images include photos of Hong Kong during World War I where he served, and a huge crocodile that he shot while stationed at Borneo in 1918.
A spokesman for auctioneers Spink and Son said: “Captain Richardson’s prices were above their estimate of £ 2,800.
“His remarkable photo archive gave a unique insight into the last days of the Russian Empire and his career before that was action-packed.”
The decorated veteran was 31 years old when World War I broke out and joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment before being commissioned as an officer and transferred to the Middlesex Regiment.
Below the images is a shot of a crocodile Captain Richardson made while stationed in Borneo in 1918
The war veteran took photos of his travels from the collection selling for £ 7,500, including images of Hong Kong during World War I
After the Allied intervention in Russia, his battalion arrived in the city of Vladivostock in August 1918. He was injured in 1919 and died the following year at the age of 37.
A letter to Capt Richardson’s widow was also part of the sold archive.
It was sent by Captain G.N. Wood of the 1st Battalion, Dorset Regiment, who worked with Capt Richardson.
He wrote, “As a friend of Captain Richardson, I feel I must write to express my deepest condolences for your deep sorrow.
“I first met Captain Richardson on the trip to Russia, and although our knowledge was brief, a very real friendship existed between us.
“Since I was the only other Englishman with him at the time of his illness, I can give you some details you may wish to know.
“Your husband and I worked together for two weeks in the mountains, north of Novo Rossisk, to prepare a line of defense.
The weather was extremely cold and was probably the cause of his sudden illness. The Cossacks were very kind to him and did everything possible for him.
Before stationed in Russia to fight alongside the White Army, he was stationed in Hong Kong and Borneo for two years
His photo archive was sold for thousands at an auction in London held by Spink and Son, including this photo taken in Hong Kong
“All the Russians we worked with, and the villagers, were most saddened by Captain Richardson’s illness, and I received many questions and sympathies from them.”
Before leaving for Russia, Richardson had served on the Western Front for two years in World War I.
In February 1917, he survived the sinking of a troop ship en route to Hong Kong after it struck a German mine off South Africa.
The incident is best remembered for the stoicism of the 1,000 troops and 30 officers who waited patiently for the evacuation of the SS Tyndareus when it began to sink in heavy seas.
Before they were rescued, the men lined up for a roll call and sang “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” while waiting for help.
Every man was saved and salvation received praise from King George V.
After the Tyndareus Incident, Capt Richardson was appointed as Cheat Marshal of Hong Kong Prison Barracks.
A depiction of the crew standing and waiting to be rescued, while the SS Tyndareus was sunk en route to Hong Kong in 1917