AN AUTHOR is set to release a new book revealing a hidden British military tale thanks to the help of a Winchester museum.

The book, Churchill’s Abandoned Prisoners: The British Soldiers Deceived in the Russian Civil War, has been written by Bullington Cross resident Rupert Wieloch.

It tells the tale of 15 British soldiers ordered to remain behind in Omsk, Russia, in 1919 to organise the evacuation of refugees fleeing from the 'Red Terror' – a period of political repression and mass killings carried out by Bolsheviks after the beginning of the Russian Civil War in 1918.

They were in Siberia at the behest of the then war secretary, Winston Churchill. After saving hundreds of thousands of lives, they managed to escape from the city minutes before it was captured by the Red Army.

For two months they kept ahead of the Bolsheviks – by train, sleigh and on foot – struggling through blizzards and freezing temperatures in the Siberian winter. One of the private soldiers in the Hampshire Regiment suffered from frostbite as a result.

Another sergeant, Bob Lillington, from Portsmouth married a Russian girl and was left behind by his Hampshire battalion when it returned by ship to its territorial home at Southampton. Unfortunately, Bob and his compatriots were captured and spent a torrid time in Moscow prisons on starvation rations.

Mr Wieloch said: "I have had tremendous help from the Hampshire Regiment Museum in Winchester and also the King’s Royal Hussar’s regimental headquarters at Peninsular Barracks with research about several characters, including the British military intelligence officer accused of inspiring the coup in Omsk that brought Admiral Kolchak to power."

Mr Wieloch was has studied Russian and Soviet history and completed a Defence Fellowship in International Relations at Pembroke College, Cambridge.

After a varied military career which involved engagements with Russian forces, he now lectures about foreign policy options and the military relationship between Putin and the West.

The book is being published by Casemate UK in hardback, priced at £20. Mr Wieloch will be launching the book at a Winchester Waterstones store on April 5.


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