French Fight Russians in Greece


Russian forces bathing in a Greek river the previous summer.

March 12 1918, Vertikop [Skydra]–Before the fall of the Czar, the Russians had sent four brigades overseas, via the Arctic or the Pacific, to help their allies on the other fronts.  Two were sent to France; the other two were sent to Salonika.  Many of the troops in France contributed to the French army’s mutinies in 1917  and then mutinied themselves, and had to be violently suppressed by French troops.  The two brigades in Salonika, more out of touch with events in Russia than their comrades in France, continued to serve on the front lines throughout 1917, although there was a brief mutiny by troops returning from extended leave in Athens.  The Provisional Government even sent a small amount of reinforcements, which arrived in October; these, however, spread revolutionary unrest throughout both Russian brigades, which became increasingly unreliable.

After the October Revolution and Brest-Litovsk armistice, the Russian forces were pulled off the front lines and disarmed in January.  Some volunteered for continuing service with the Allies within the French Foreign Legion; many more were used in labor battalions, while the worst troublemakers were simply interned while the Allies figured out what to do with them.  The Russians’ patience wore thin, especially after Russia had officially departed the war by signing the treaty at Brest-Litovsk.  On March 12, three thousand Russians in an internment camp at Vertikop began to riot; the brief insurrection was quickly put down by a force of French cavalry.

Today in 1917: Revolution in Petrograd

Today in 1916: Admiral Tirpitz Resigns
Today in 1915: German Counterattack at Neuve-Chapelle

Sources include: Alan Palmer, The Gardeners of Salonika.