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US Expeditionary Force, North Russia

  • Conflict:   World War I
  • Records:   1,937
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US Expeditionary Force, North Russia

Overview Description

In 1918, a treaty between Germany and Russia led to a crisis for the Allies. In an effort to protect Czech troops in Russia, and to secure northern Russian ports from Germans, the Allies sent a multinational force into North Russia, under British command. US Troops did not stay long, with the last units out by the middle of August 1919.

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Pictures & Records

3 Cablegrams: a report of missing soldiers, a list of transportation needs and a list of received food supplies.  	 War diary report of suggestions for limiting friendly fire from Sample Sample


Publication Title:
US Expeditionary Force, North Russia
Content Source:
The National Archives logo The National Archives
Publication Number:
Record Group:
Published on Fold3:
Last Update:
November 13, 2007
NARA M924. In 1918 and 1919, U.S. forces participated in security operations in North Russia, near the ports of Murmansk and Archangel.


by Craig R. Scott, CG

This series of images includes reports of morale, of efficiency, and of operations; correspondence; daily and weekly intelligence summaries; strength reports, returns, orders of battle; and maps and charts, which document the activities of the American Expeditionary Force, North Russia.

In June 1918, the Allied Supreme War Council voted for military intervention at Murmansk and Archangel in North Russia by a force of mixed nationals under British command in support of the White Army in the Russian Civil War against the Bolshevik (Red Army) forces. In July 1918, President Woodrow Wilson agreed to furnish American troops for the intervention. The American “Murmansk Expedition” consisted of the 339th Infantry Regiment, the 1st Battalion of the 310th Engineers, 337th Field Hospital, and 337th Ambulance Company, all elements of the 85th Infantry Division, also known as the Custer Division. In August 1918, the expedition, consisting of 143 officers and 4,344 enlisted men sailed from England for Archangel. Arriving in September, it deployed along a front 450 miles long, extending from Onega in the west, to Pinega in the east.

The North Russia Transportation Corps Expeditionary Forces, consisting of the 167th (Operations) and 168th (Maintenance) companies, were sent to Murmansk in March and April 1819 to operate and maintain the Murmansk Railway. 

Early in 1919, President Wilson decided to withdraw American forces from North Russia. By August 5, 1919, all American forces had been withdrawn and Headquarters, AEF, North Russia, ceased to exist.

The Historical Branch, War Plan Division, 1918 – 1921, began collecting and classifying the material included in this publication in about 1920. Its successor, the Historical Section of the Army War College, continued to collect material during the 1920s and 1930s.

Document types

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None of the images are security classified, but at one time or another many of the original documents were classified as secret or confidential at the time they were created.

Reports of officers

Numerous reports of officers, detailing various aspects of the morale of the troops and military operations, are included in the files. Image 1, shown here, begins the report of the Commanding Officer of Headquarters Company, 339th Infantry, concerning the events of December 11, 1918, when the Anglo-Slavic Legion mutinied.


Image 2 shows the first page of a cable message from the American Consul at Archangel describing the evacuation of Shenkursk. An excerpt reads:

Yesterday Shenkursk was successfully evacuated. The troops brought out with them most of their supplies, the wounded and sick and 500 civilians. The Russian troops behaved excellently. Refugees from Shenkursk who reached this place declared that a portion of the town was destroyed by the Bolsheviki troops and many of the citizens were murdered. The population here was depressed by the news and the Provisional Government has become quite anxious.

Strength reports and returns

Image 3 provides a breakdown of the Allied forces in the Murman District, including Polish, Russian, Slavo-British, and Servian forces in addition to American companies.

Maps and charts

Many maps detail Allied positions, Russian positions, and the military condition of Eastern Europe in the period. The final image shown here is a map of European Russia, showing the disposition of Russian troops and the line held on 20 May 1919.

Using the collection

These records were originally filed using the War Department historical decimal classification system. Fold3 has alphabetized the reports for ease of use. The original finding aid to these records is a folder list that can be found in the descriptive pamphlet published by NARA.

Related records

There are additional records relating to the AEF, North Russia, in Record Group 120, Records of the American Expeditionary Forces (World War I), 1917 – 1923. Documents relating to American activities in North Russia are found in the records of the American Section of the Supreme War Council, 1917 – 1919 (available at Fold3) in the same record group. The general correspondence files of the Military Intelligence Division in the Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs, Record Group 165, also deal with North Russia. As do the Records of the Department of State, Record Group 59, regarding the conditions in North Russia during the period.

The Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan explores related records and the stories of the men within the American Expeditionary Forces in Polar Bear Expedition Digital Collections, an online digital archive.

Explore this title

Search or browse the Historical Files of the American Expeditionary Force, North Russia, 1918 – 1919 here.


The images shown here are scanned from the National Archives microfilm publication M924, Historical Files of the American Expeditionary Force, North Russia, 1918 – 1919. The original records are located in Record Group 120, Records of the American Expeditionary Force (World War I), in the National Archives at College Park – Archives II (College Park, Maryland).

The descriptive pamphlet for M924, published by NARA, may be viewed or downloaded here.

About the contributor

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A professional genealogical and historical researcher for more than twenty years, Craig R Scott is a Certified Genealogist who specializes in the records of the National Archives, especially those that relate to the military. He is a member of the Company of Military Historians, on the Board of Directors of the Association of Professional Genealogists, and has served in the past on the boards of the Virginia Genealogical Society and the Maryland Genealogical Society. He is the author of The 'Lost Pensions': Settled Accounts of the Act of 6 April 1838 and Records of the Accounting Officers of the Department of the Treasury, Inventory 14 (Revised).

Thank you very much for providing these files. My grandfather was one of those nearly 5,000 US Army soldiers who fought the Bolshevik Red Army in North Russia over the period of September 1918 through May 1919 (a similar force was sent to Siberia at the same time, but saw less fighting than their counterparts in North Russia). While this sorry episode was quickly buried and forgotten by the US government and historians, the families of the "Polar Bears" who fought in North Russia have not forgotten their sacrifices and we remember them every Memorial Day with a ceremony at the Polar Bear Monument in the White Chapel Cemetery, Troy, MI. For more information, please visit the web site of the Polar Bear Memorial Association at

My father was a member of the AEF-Siberia and ferried horses for cavalry from Camp Lewis to Vladivostok right up to April 2, 1920. The AEF was working in a strained relationship with Japanese forces against the Reds. It would appear there may have been two different campaigns with similar objectives.

My father was a Ukrainian that fought in the White Army and until his death blamed Woodrow Wilson for the defeat of the White Army and triumph of the Bolsheviks and all what ensued thereafter, including the creation of the Soviet Union and the Soviet block.

My great uncle, George Walfred Anstrand (1893-1969) was a part of this force. I have a great picture of him dressed to go to Russia, complete with large fur mittens and a Russian-style hat. Too bad I cannot upload it to this article!