I was strolling through my local cemetery the other day looking for the graves of old Falkirk Football Club players [as I am wont to do] when I stumbled across an interesting gravestone.
For many this seems quite unremarkable, a family grave with an added inscription for a son who died while off fighting for his country during the 'Great War' but all is not what it seems. The date and location are too problematic for that.
Now we were all taught about the First World War in school [well at least I was] about how Germany, looking to expand its borders was feeling encircled by the 'Triple Entente' of France, Russia and Great Britain, and backed the Austro-Hungarian Empire in its invasion of Serbia as a means to encourage a war with Russia without involving Britain and France.
We now know that did not happen and a chain of events lead to a large [mainly] European War drawing in Belgium, Italy and the Ottoman Empire, ending [as we are reminded every year] at 11 o'clock on the 11th of November 1918.
Now look at that inscription again -
"who died on Service at Archangel, Russia, 31st October, 1918"
Before the Armistice, fine, two allied combatants, fine. so ......
If you remember your other history, the Russian government was overthrown by the Bolsheviks in the October Revolution, October of 1917 that is [well it was actually in November as the Russians used a different callendar]. Immediately the new Soviet government started negotiating a peace with Germany. In December 1917 the two sides agreed a peace with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, and the Soviet Union withdrew from the War.
Not so clear cut a gravestone anymore, the date is nearly a year after the Soviet neutrality. There were no German, Turkish or Austrian troops anywhere near Arkhangelsk throughout the war [the closest agressors were Finnish Nationalist troops who were funded by Germany] but that was very far away.
So how can this be explained. The truth is simple Orwellianism. A re-writing of the details of the 'Great War'. Anti-Bolshevik counter-reactionaries [the White Russians] had rebelled in the Caucasus [funded by Britain], and in order to aid this, on May 23rd 1918 Britain sent an invasion force to Arkhangelsk, soon to be followed by several thousand US troops, with the intention of taking the Russian northern ports of Arkhangelsk & Murmansk, before driving south to Petrograd.
British troops remained in the northern Soviet Union until November of 1919, when they finally withdrew.
As to why it is no longer taught at school, I can not say. But I suspect that some people might think that the invasion [without declaration of war] of a war-weary, but most importantly neutral, country in order to overthrow that country's government might be seen as immoral, bellicose and possibly quite illegal.
This possibly explains why there is discord between the history now taught about the 'First World War' of 1914-18 and those War Memorials which were erected before somebody decided to re-write history. Such as the Falkirk War Memorial, Camelon Road, with a slightly different date.