Alone in Russia
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