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Articles and Reference Information

The Bentley Historical Library's "Polar Bear Expedition Digital Collections"

The Bentley Historical Library's "Polar Bear Expedition Digital Collections" web site has been entirely re-constructed and the effort is now nearly complete. This interactive site features the digitized "Polar Bear Collections" housed at the University of Michigan's Bentley Historical Library. Back in the 1960s the Bentley Historical Library began collecting personal papers of the Polar Bear veterans through a collaboration with the Polar Bear Association. About nine years ago the Library began digitizing this collection and making it available on-line. Additional digitized materials have been added to the collection in recent years but it was necessary to revamp the web site using different software so that the new content could be made accessible. Additional materials are awaiting digitizing and will be added to the web site in the near future.

The Polar Bear Expedition Collections Contents

1. 63 collections digitized in 2004 by the University Library.
2. 17 collections digitized by the U of M School of Information and Bentley Historical Library.
3. 19 collections digitized by donors.
4. A roster of soldiers who served with the Polar Bears, containing 6,813 names.
5. Collections of books, newspapers, periodicals, and maps digitized from our collection.
6. Links to Polar Bear-related publications digitized by others.


"Holland (Michigan) Polar Bear Club - 1948". Contains a transcript of a May 28, 1948 article that appeared the Holland (Mich.) Evening Sentinel about the Holland Polar Bear Club. Also contains a circa 1942 photo of the club. All (38) men in the photo are identified in the article.


"Historical Files of the American Expeditionary Force, North Russia, 1918-19, M924" (a subscription-based service), in partnership with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), has recently digitized NARA Microfilm Publication M924 and made it available on-line to Footnote subscribers. M924, which NARA created in 1973, is a two-roll microfilm publication that reproduced a collection of reports, studies, memorandums, and other records relating to the activities of the American Expeditionary Force, North Russia during 1918 and 1919. This collection, known as the "Historical File of the AEF, North Russia", is part of the Records of the American Expeditionary Forces (World War I), 1917-23, Record Group 120, which is archived at NARA II in College Park, MD.

Read the 25th (and final) issue of the "American Sentinel", published in Archangel, Russia on May 31, 1919: Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4.

George Aldous (1873-1957) served with the British Army's Durham Light Infantry in North Russia during the period of October 1918 through June 1919. Pvt. Aldous is third from the right, top row, in this photo of his unit that was taken on 27 April 1919 at Smolny Barracks. George brought this newspaper home with him and it was passed on to his grandson, Ian Aldous, who made these scans of the newspaper and has generously shared them with the Polar Bear Memorial Association.

Map of Camp Pontanezen. This camp was the temporary billeting camp for all WW I US Army personnel entering and leaving France through the nearby port of Brest, France. Most of the soldiers of the American North Russia Expeditionary Force passed through Camp Pontanezen on their way home from North Russia in June and July of 1919. This is a 3 MB scan of a photocopy of the map brought home by an unknown WW I soldier. The map was discovered in an attic by Bill Gouldy of Oklahoma City, OK. Bill contacted the webmaster after finding references to the camp in diary entries featured on this site and graciously offered to provide us with a copy so that we could include it here.

U.S. Army Signal Corps photographers shot about 50 minutes of 16 mm black and white silent film documenting the activities of the "Polar Bears" in North Russia during the period of September 1918 to June 1919. Here is a 24 second long series of clips from the Signal Corps footage. More information, including how to purchase the entire 50 minutes of film, can be found here.

"Finding photos of the American North Russia Expeditionary Force (ANREF), 1918-1919". Information on the available still and motion pictures taken of the ANREF in North Russia; includes locations of on-line resources and physical archives and also how to order reproductions.

"The 'Polar Bears' of World War One - Remembering the Allied Intervention in North Russia". This article was written by the webmaster for the December 2004 and June 2005 issues of the "Polar Bear News". This is the semi-annual newsletter of the "Polar Bear Association", whose members are WW II veterans of the United Kingdom's 49th (West Riding) Infantry Division, which is also known as the "Polar Bears" due to their WW II service in Norway and Iceland.

"November 11, 1918 - Armistice Day in Detroit and elsewhere...." - A discussion thread written by the webmaster describing Armistice Day in Detroit and why many familes of Detroit-area soldiers had to wait another seven months to celebrate the end of fighting for their loved ones.

"Triggering Intervention: Woodrow Wilson and the American Military Expeditions to Russia" - a research paper written by David M. Kudzia for his Senior Individualized Project at Kalamazoo College. The author, a History major and 2008 graduate, examines President Wilson's reasoning and motives for sending American troops to North Russia and Siberia in the summer of 1918.

"America's War in North Russia" - by Col. W.P. Richardson. This article appeared in "Current History - a Monthly Magazine of the New York Times", Vol. XIII, Oct. 1920-March 1921. It describes "what our soldiers did there, told by one of their officers, and based upon both official sources and personal knowledge."

"Home from War" - from the archives of Time Magazine, an article that appeared in their Dec. 9, 1929 issue describing the return that week of the remains of 75 U.S. soldiers who had died during the fighting in North Russia ten years earlier.

"Inch From Death - Memory of Russia" - an article written by Don Tschirhart that appeared in a Feburary 1959 issue of the Detroit (Michigan) News. The writer interviewed Harry H. Mead, former Lieutenant in Company A, 339th Infantry Regiment, who was wounded during the Bolshevik attack on Shenkursk in January 1919. In 1920, Mr. Mead (along with former 339th officers Joel Moore and Lewis Jahns) wrote the book "The History of the American Expedition Fighting the Bolsheviki - Campaigning in North Russia 1918-1919" [more information here]. This newspaper article mentions that Mr. Mead had been extensively interviewed for an article which had appeared in the December 1958 issue of the American Heritage Magazine. You can read that article by clicking on the link below.

"Where Ignorant Armies Clashed by Night" by E.M. Halliday, originally published in "American Heritage Magazine", December 1958, Volume 10, Issue 1.

Dr. Roger Crownover, author of “The United States Intervention in North Russia - 1918, 1919: The Polar Bear Odyssey”, gave a lecture on April 16, 2008 at the Troy Museum and Historic Village. He spoke for an hour about the Polar Bears and the intervention in North Russia to members of the Troy Historical Society and members of the general public. The Historical Society made a video recording of his lecture and you can purchase a DVD copy of his talk for $25 by calling Cindy Stewart at (248) 524-1147.

"Polar Bear Brigade Fought for Freedom" - a brief article written by Ben Burns that appeared in the Dec. 17, 2007 issue of the Grosse Pointe (Michigan) News.

2007 marked the 200th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Russia and in recognition, the BBC Russian Service in Moscow produced a special series of programs exploring the 200 years of sometimes turbulent relations between the two nations. Sergei Berets, a producer with BBC Russian Service Moscow Office, interviewed officers of the Polar Bear Memorial Association for a program in that series on the subject of American soldiers who fought the Red Army in North Russia. A transcription of that program has been posted on the BBC web site. Titled "Polar Bear Expedition: Stranglers of the Revolution", it can be read here (Cyrillic Russian) or here (English translation via Alta Vista Babel Fish). [Another article in this series that mentions the Allied Intervention in Siberia can be read here (Cyrillic Russian) or here (English translation).]

"Tragedy at Archangel - The Amazing Story of America's Futile Expedition Into Bolshevik Land" by Guy Murchie, Jr.; Chicago Sunday Tribune Graphic Section, February 26, 1939.

"Tragedy in Archangel: The Killing of J.A. Watson" by Gloria Siggins

310th Engineers Photo Album

339th Regiment Lineage and Honors - U.S. Army Center of Military History

Frederick C. O'Dell Map Collection - Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan. These maps were produced by the U.S. Army 310th Engineers mapping section in 1918 and 1919. Links on this page will open photographic images of selected maps from the Collection, which is stored at the Bentley Library and most of which do not appear on their Polar Bear Expedition Digital Collections web site.

"Vaga Dvina Junction" Map. A circa 1918 map (in English and with an interesting provenance), that shows the region encompassing the Dvina and Vaga River Fronts.

Modern Maps of the Area where the "Polar Bears" Fought

"Report of Engagement", Company I, 339th Infantry, 04 Nov 1918

"The Alleged Mutiny of Company I, 339th Infantry", 30 March 1919

"339th Infantry Permanent Losses - 04 Sept 1918 through 10 May 1919"

"339th Infantry Croix de Guerre Award Ceremony, 17 Feb 1919"

"Company I Minstrel Show", 28 March 1919

"Photographs of Company I, 339th Infantry"

At the top of each of these pages is the 339th Infantry's regimental insignia crest with their motto written in Russian: "The Bayonet Decides".

Click here to view the crest in color and read the full history behind it.

The 339th Infantry Regiment Returns to Detroit - the story of how the citizens of Detroit welcomed them home on the Fourth of July 1919 - includes links to photos taken that day by the Detroit News

"Detroit's Polar Bears & Their Confusing War" - from the Detroit News "Rear View Mirror" series. Click here to view a gallery of 12 related photos.

"Bloody Battle on Peace Day" - by Vincent Cortright for Military History Magazine, Oct. 1998

"Stranded in Russia" by Roger Crownover, Michigan History Magazine, Jan/Feb 1999 (opens in a new window) 

This is a ".pdf" file which uses Adobe Acrobat Reader viewing software - if you don't have it, use the link button at right to download it for free.


"Mission to North Russia - VFW members return to a distant battlefield to recover the remains of

American soldiers who died in a forgotten campaign after WWI"

by Herbert M. Mason, Jr., VFW Magazine, April 1999.

"Doughboy Center - American Polar Bears: The American Expeditionary Force to North Russia" - presented by The Great War Society

"Forward-March! - a photographic memorial of WW I" - photos taken in North Russia during the conflict (11 total pages - click "Continue" to see more photos)

"Camp Custer Inside - WWI" - photos taken inside the Army Camp near Battle Creek, MI where the 339th trained in the summer of 1918

"Centenarian Recalls Fighting Russians" - by Andrew Kramer (AP article dated 8 Aug 2001)

"Archangel", a poem by Sergeant Roger S. Clark, 310th US Army Engineers, Archangel, Russia - Christmas, 1918

"NORTH RUSSIAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE 1918-1919"; compiled by P.O. GEORGE WILLIAM SMITH on board HMS ‘BORODINO’; Photos, Information & Maps describing the British Royal Navy Operations in North Russia

"Fighting the Russians in Winter: Three Case Studies" - by Dr. Allen F. Chew, Combat Studies Institute

U.S. Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, December 1981

"American Intervention in Russia: A Study of Wilsonian Foreign Policy", by C. Palazzolo, Modus Vivendi , the Rhodes College Student Journal of Intl. Studies, Memphis, TN, Spring 1997

"120.13 Records of the American Expeditionary Forces, North Russia" - here you will find a brief description of the records available at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration facility in College Park, MD (NARA II).

President Wilson's Aide-Memoire on the subject of military intervention in Russia, dated July 17, 1918

The WW I Document Archive - 1918 Documents

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