Alone in Rus­sia

The Sunday Telegraph - - Letters to the editor -

SIR – One of the units sent to Rus­sia in Oc­to­ber 1918 (Fea­tures, Novem­ber 25) was the 17th Bat­tal­ion of the King’s Liver­pool Reg­i­ment – the first of the Liver­pool Pals, vol­un­teers from the city of­fices of Liver­pool, some of whom marched from their desks (lit­er­ally) to re­spond to the ap­peal made to their em­ploy­ers by the Earl of Derby in Au­gust 1914.

By 1918 they were a thor­oughly pro­fes­sional unit, af­ter a ter­ri­ble blood­ing at the bat­tle of the Somme. As recorded in Gra­ham Mad­docks’s book on the Pals, Pri­vate Gro­gan of the 17th said: “I can’t com­pare Rus­sia and France, they were so dif­fer­ent. At the be­gin­ning, I would say the Rus­sian cam­paign was to some­one with a Boy Scout mind like me an ad­ven­ture … [but] you were so alone in Rus­sia … even with your ri­fle cocked, it was a bit tense, be­cause you didn’t know which side they might come from, you didn’t know where they were.”

The Pals came home in Septem­ber 1919, hav­ing won two MCs and 10 MMs, and lost 21 men. CJH Hunter

Bland­ford, Dorset

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