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Category: History

The English personnel in the USSR in the years of World War II

a. V. Evdokimova


Work is presented by department of general history and the international relations of the Ryazan state university of S.A. Yesenin. The research supervisor - the doctor of historical sciences, professor Yu.I. Losev

In article the questions connected with stay of the English naval personnel in the Soviet northern ports in the years of World War II, evolution of these questions during various periods of war of N their influence on interaction of the authorities of two states and the foreign policy relations of the countries of the anti-Hitlerite coalition in general are considered.

The article covers the issues associated with British naval personnel stay in the Soviet northern ports during the years of the Second World War, evolution of the matters at different periods of war, and their impact on interaction of authorities of two states and interstate relations of anti-Hitler coalition states at large.

Mutual aid of allies in the years of World War II undoubtedly became the most important binding element of the anti-Hitlerite coalition. Among all routes of deliveries the special role was played by the Arctic route which had certain specifics in comparison with other routes which allies delivered freights to the Soviet Union, being first of all that it was the shortest way to the USSR therefore on it during the entire period of war cargoes of prime necessity were delivered. It at the same time remained also the most dangerous what statistics of military losses confirms. Responsibility for ensuring protection of cargo vessels lay on the British fleet, Great Britain also brought the main loading on granting and cargo delivery to an initial stage of war.

For the first time for many years throughout all war the English personnel found -

sya in the territory of the main Soviet northern ports - Arkhangelsk, Murmansk and Molotovsk, - carrying out arrangements of allies on the help in protection of convoys and unloading of vessels. Its stay was connected with a set of disagreements between the authorities of Union States at various levels which cause questions of number of the English personnel and conditions of its stay in Russia were.

Events of February, 1943 when owing to threat of the active surface, air and underwater attacks of Germans the English Admiralty and the Ministry of aircraft decided to send two squadrons of the torpedo Hempden bombers on the North of Russia became the culmination of the English-Soviet disagreements in ports of northern Russia. The Soviet part accepted this offer, and the staff for ensuring these forces already was en route when on February 20 the Naval ministry

The USSR stated that squadrons have to be under the Soviet operating control. The British committee of chiefs of headquarters refused to accept this requirement. Situation was even more aggravated when the Soviet authorities in Murmansk categorically stopped operation of the specialized radio equipment used for interception of signals of the enemy of positions of convoys союзников&. The crisis formed then was so serious that slightly completely did not stop a convoy cycle. From this point tension in the northern region was noticeably fueled. The English-Soviet disagreements in ports of northern Russia continued more than 12 months by this time.

The Soviet government from the very beginning very jealously approached a question of maintenance of strict privacy in the relations with allies therefore during 1941 and 1942 it clearly let know the indignation of presence of a large number of the British employees in the country.

Spring-summer of 1942 of the USSR began to put forward protests against extension and issue of new visas to any replenishments of the English staff. He said that in the Soviet Union there are already enough British, and hinted that a prerogative to define the number of the British representatives in the future belongs to them. The consular department of People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs on behalf of the Soviet government demanded accurate justifications for issue of visas by the English employee, regularly submitting lists of foreigners which basis of entrance is not found out. Issue of visas was delayed. The threat of the British Embassy and Military mission not to send to the USSR of the British personnel until to it the Soviet entry visas are not issued, did not take effect, and the letter dated on October 24, 1942 contains the list of the English employees who submitted applications for obtaining visas already again

in August, September and the beginning of October and them 2

not received.

Great Britain opposed sharply attempts of the USSR to define the number of the British representatives in the country. According to her, the USSR did not provide adequate protection of Arctic convoys and therefore had no right to limit the number of the British sent for this purpose. Obviously, this argument did not flatter the Soviet part, and it looked even less convincingly when in July, 1942 the convoys were stopped.

Long correspondence of the English and Soviet government concerning the number of the British personnel which are in Russia is especially clearly demonstrated by the letter of the British Foreign Office of May 24, 1943 and Iden's note of May 27 of the same year addressed to May and the reply of People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs to them of June 11.

In documents of British it is emphasized that, sending personnel for various British missions, the English government has "the only purpose to make sure that these missions carry out the duties effectively for the mutual benefit of our two countries in the common military efforts", at the same time only the government of its Majesty has the right to judge what personnel are necessary for completion of various British missions in the Soviet Union.

Consistently disproving the principle of "reciprocity and equality" in number of staff - the main thesis of the USSR in this question, - British specified that there are no bases for comparison between functions of the British personnel in northern Russian ports and the Soviet military mission in London. Duties of technical British personnel have operational character, it, according to the arrangement of two governments, helps with protection and unloading of convoys and also with observance of interests of the British sailors of merchant fleet and personnel of the Royal Navies. When convoys are not carried out, it supports coastal

the organization for a timely vozob-" 3

operation novleniye.

The ideas in the note are given by an argument that presence in the Soviet Union 300400 of the British employees cannot be a source of adverse remarks as, by rough calculations, it makes one British citizen on

400,000 Soviet citizens. This argument was met by sharp objections of the Soviet People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs. Also emphasizes the Ideas that Great Britain does not refuse visas to members of the Soviet military mission and the Trade mission, gives them an opportunity "to watch practically everything that want, in this country" while in the USSR treat British as if they are potentially dangerous - they are constantly accused of espionage, feeling like "social derelicts". He asks to give visas to personnel which have to replace the employees who are in With -

Vyatka Union from 12 to 18 months.

The commissariat of foreign affairs did not agree that the British authorities have the right to resolve an issue of the number of the British personnel unilaterally as this question has to be settled "on the basis of reciprocity and the principle of equal number of technicians of the British military missions in the USSR and the Soviet military mission in Great Britain"

letting know that and are connected with it vopro-8

sy issues of visas.

In July, 1943, after the announcement of postponement of the second front, the Soviet embassy in London declared that the British employee will not issue more visas and special passes for service in Russia. Total refusal in issue of visas overflowed a bowl of the English patience. 152 British employees of coastal staff in northern Russia were subject to replacement. Some of them served in the Arctic more than 18 months while the term of 9 months was considered as the reasonable period of service, and could not return if Soviet hundred -

Rhone did not agree to issue visas on their replacement.

The moral spirit of the English employees fell under the influence of diseases, bad weather, monotonous tinned food and the Soviet restrictions. Periodically there were failures, suicides and murders. Also there were unlimited reasons for the conflicts between guests of the country and local authorities: at the beginning of August two employees of merchant fleet were arrested for smoking in the forbidden zone and insult of the Soviet official. They were not subject to the British jurisdiction, being employees of merchant fleet, and were sentenced by the Soviet court to five and two years of imprisonment respectively. Punishment which they would receive for it in Great Britain according to the Foreign Office, would make 14 days of the conclusion or a penalty in razme-


re 10-15 pounds.

Many annoying formalities were entered into the rest of the time in northern ports. The Soviet authorities limited freedom of the movement of the English employees from the ships on the coast and even from the ship on the ship. They interfered with unloading of cargoes and scrupulously looked through personal mail and baggage of the British military personnel, even leaving the USSR.

There were questions concerning exchange of currency by the sailors who were carrying out delivery of military deliveries to the USSR. In 1942 the Embassies of Great Britain and the USA put before People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs and NKVT a question of distribution of diplomatic ruble exchange rate (48 rubles for pound sterling) on expenses of the American and English vessels arriving in the Soviet ports. In October-November they received official refusal. Instead the Soviet bodies offered, in case of Great Britain, at a time to issue to each member the command for flight from 300 to 1000 rubles depending on a rank the same sums at an official rate of the State Bank in fun-

ta of sterlings to provide to the Soviet vessels in the English ports, at payment of expenses on ship repair by each party in cash; in case of the USA, the USSR pays all services to courts of the USA in the Soviet ports as the USA took expenses of the Soviet vessels in the American ports for the account of a lend-lease, for cash expenses to establish the same order, as for England. On October 6, 1942 the board of People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs published corresponding постановление". The offer of NKVT formed the basis for such decision. When calculating with Great Britain the losses of the Soviet part approximately will be equal to losses from application of a fair rate, but at the same time there will be no discrimination of the Soviet currency and a precedent for depreciation of the ruble. By calculations from the USA this procedure of payments advantageous because Soviet steamships happens in the American ports more, than American in Soviet: "Our offers can suit British and Americans as we in this area did not make still any concessions to them".

In August, 1942 the discussion of a question of arrival of the English hospital began. L. Bagalley's letter of August 13 contains a request of creation of unitary British hospital for 700 British who up to this point were in hospital of Arkhangelsk. The personnel of hospital on 100 beds have to were arrive in Kola Bay on August 19, but were forced to come back to Great Britain as visas to it vyda-

ny were not.

Undoubtedly, in some of these incidents British were not completely deprived of fault. The American chargês d'affaires considered that they needlessly wounded the Soviet sensitivity and therefore were responsible for friction. Nevertheless the relation to these incidents in London more and more worsened.

In return British moved towards requests of the Soviet government, in particular about that the return a game -

howl to Great Britain took wives and children of the Soviet officials in Great Britain in spite of the fact that it created additional difficulties. In the letter to Sobolev Orm Sargent emphasizes that merchant ships are not intended for transportations of women and children, but nevertheless all inquiries of the Soviet part were satisfied, despite an offensive ma-


Nehru with which they moved.

Stay of the English sailors in the Soviet northern ports provoked development of children's crime: children stole the English goods from the arriving sailors; prostitutions: as payment for the services of the woman took things, the English goods served as a subject for speculation. Import cigarettes and chocolate became currency. But, estimating these facts, it is necessary to take into account living conditions of the Soviet citizens in these cities during the war. Reports of People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs report that in the northern cities "the speculation which is carried out by foreign sailors, plunder of goods, the facts of hooliganism and other disorderly conduct prospers", there is "a black market" of foreign goods.

Works on "fight" against this situation were begun in the first years of war. Following Molotov's instructions of December 2, 1942 on fight against speculation and hooliganism up to attraction to judicial responsibility, bodies of People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs strengthened militia control of the markets of Arkhangelsk and Murmansk, acts of hooliganism were transferred to OVS NPO and NKVMF for acceptance of the appropriate measures.

On January 2, 1943 there was a Resolution of People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs and NKGB on an order of implementation of instructions of Molotov in which the operations procedure of OVS and NKMF on detention is in details stated, to arrest and criminal prosecution of the foreigners who broke an order and also informing Management of People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs of area on all taken measures. Besides, in Arkhan-

a gelska and Molotovsk the staff of employees of militia was increased, militia posts are strengthened and mobile patrols are organized, task forces for withdrawal of homeless are organized; in all organizations and institutions, meetings on fight against children's neglect were organized, for the aid to militia Komsomol members, etc. are allocated

Results of these measures are eloquently confirmed by the following statistics: during 1943 were detained by bodies of militia of Arkhangelsk for hooliganism, an uproar and illegal sale of goods of 22 foreign sailors and military personnel, on court 7 people are condemned; from June 7, 1943 to March 13, 1944 it is detained for disorderly conduct of 20 inomoryak, for circulation on the city after 24 hours of 67 people, for speculation in the market of 28 people, then as it is reported, foreigners transferred trade from the market to houses and on streets.

These measures concerned also the Soviet citizens: for the second half of the year 1943 and the first quarter 1944 it is arrested and administratively sent from Arkhangelsk and Hammers ska of 185 pritonsoderzhatelnitsa, prostitutes; from November, 1943 to March, 1944 1338 street children and criminals are withdrawn; in December, 1943 1926 people, in January, 1944 - 901, February - 273, March-181 and in 20 days of April of 98 people were detained for plunder of cargoes and speculation in goods of a foreign origin.

The conference of Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Moscow on October 19-30, 1943 making huge success on it became a turning point of development of disagreements in northern ports the Soviet representatives showed that, without watching a problem with convoys, they in general wanted to maintain the friendly relations with the West. In this friendly atmosphere the problem of the British personnel was resolved amicably in the north. Both parties were ready for a compromise. The ideas and Molotov reached the agreement satisfying and An -

the gliysky, and Soviet governments, that the number of the British employees in the Soviet ports which at that time made 383 persons will not be increased more than by 10% without notice of the Soviet government. The ideas agreed to reduce the number of British in the spring when convoys are suspended. Molotov undertook obligations for production of visas and creation of conditions in the Arkhangelsk hospital that the English sailors could undergo treatment at own medics. This arrangement laid the foundation for considerable improvement of the Soviet-English relations in northern ports. As a result of it and also correction of strategic situation in the Arctic Great Britain easily could carry out convoys during the winter.

Then the question and of the English criminals was resolved. The English government repeatedly tried to achieve withdrawal of sailors from under jurisdiction of the Soviet bodies or to have the courts on all

to cases of crimes; it suggested to submit the cases of crimes of the English sailors in northern waters, except for serious crimes against the Soviet citizens, to maintaining the British naval vessels. People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs, having specified that on international law such sailors are jurisdictional to local courts, nevertheless agreed to it "on the principles of reciprocity" in November

1943 16

Convoys to northern Russia since August

1944 till May, 1945 were also carried out regularly. The problems with the British employees connected with these operations were insignificant now. The Soviet trade mission showed uncharacteristic readiness to cooperate with the Ministry of the military transport, and the relations in northern ports were maintained at the level which was at least tolerant.

During the last period of war measures cultural considerably amplified educate

of telsky character in relation to the English sailors who were undertaken by the Soviet state in addition to administrative measures. On May 12, 1944 the Resolution of the State committee of defense on actions for Arkhangelsk, Murmansk, Molotovsku on strengthening of work with foreign sailors was issued. Control of implementation of the Resolution and the instructions Ground va and Vyshinsky was on this matter entrusted to People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs, its reports are reflected in "The certificate of stay of foreign sailors in the ports of Arkhangelsk, Murmansk, Molotovsk, their behavior and measures of fight against speculation, hooliganism, disorderly conduct, etc."

According to Beria's proposal, the shops of Osobtorg trading in cheap cigarettes, tobacco, soap, sugar, etc. were open for fight against speculation of NKVT and Narkomtorg, in addition to Intourist booths, in Murmansk and Arkhangelsk; shops selling "souvenirs", products of cottage industry, the Ural semi-precious stones.

The attention of state treasury bills and People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs was chained to work of interklub - the main bodies for carrying out cultural and educational work among foreign sailors, measures for improvement of their work, strengthening by qualified personnel, rendering "the every possible help" by regional committees and regional executive committees to them, etc. were constantly undertaken. Belonged to duties of interklub the organization of lectures, film sessions

on display of the new Soviet movies (dubbed or with inscriptions in foreign languages), exhibitions, meetings of inomoryak with the Soviet sailors and the intellectuals.

As a result of long stay in the USSR at many sailors and members of the English mission in Arkhangelsk the serious relations with local to women were entered. Foreigners shared with them food, chocolate, gave silk stockings and dresses. They were popular also with the children often receiving from them various gifts though sailors considered these


gifts "humiliating handouts".

Presence of the English personnel in the Soviet territory in the years of war is of great interest already because for many years it was the first contact of the Soviet citizens with representatives of the outside world. For local community the British represented an economic and emotional resource, becoming their partners and lovers. Analyzing change of the attitude towards the English employees from local authorities and the Soviet state in general, it is possible not only to track influence of a foreign policy situation on the allied relations, but also to estimate mutual efforts on strengthening of the relations of allies of the anti-Hitlerite coalition who in so recent past were enemies. This union promised to exist long time and even more to get stronger, but broke up at once after the end of war, having come to the end with unfair mutual recriminations.

1 Beaumont J. Comrades in Arms: British Aid to Russia, 1941-1945. London: Davis-Poynter, 1980.

P. 134-135.


Memorandum of the British Embassy of September 19, 1942 of AVP Russian Federation. T. 069 (Refe-rantura across England). Op. 31. Item 108. 12. L. 9-10, 39, 41.

3 AVP Russian Federation. T. 0162. Op. 17 g of Item 113a. 5. L. 1-4.

In the same place. L. 9-10.

5 In the same place. 2. L. 38-39.

Johnston T. Patrons or predators? The contested identity of Anglo-American sailors in Archangelsk, 1941-1945. University of Oxford, UK. - Conference of the American association of Slavic researches (AAASS), Salt Lake City, USA, on November 10-11, 2005.

AVP Russian Federation. T. 0162. Op. 17 g of Item 113a. 5. L. 9-10.

8 In the same place. 1. L. 50-51.

Beaumont J&. Op. cit. P. 161.

10 AVP Russian Federation. T. 069 (Referantura across England). Op. 31. P 108. 12. L. 51; T. 06. Op. 4. Item 11. 104. L.128-130.

& #34; In the same place. Op. 36. Item 117. D.I.L. 22.


Mikoyana Stalin's report of October 26, 1942. AVP Russian Federation. T. 06. Op. 4. Item 11. 104. L. 129.

14 AVP Russian Federation. T. 069 (Referantura across England). Op. 31. Item 108. 12. L. 32-33.

O. Sargent's letter to Sobolev of February 15, 1944. AVP Russian Federation. T. 0162. Op. 17 dative 116a. 3. L. 9-12.

See, for example, Note of the British Embassy in Moscow No. 130 of October 1, 1943. T. 069 (Referantura across England). Op. 36. Item 117. 11. L. 13-22.

Notes of People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs of November 11, 1943, on November 15, 1943//In the same place.


"Reference...", made by F. Volkov on the basis of messages of diplomatic agents of People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs in Arkhangelsk (t. Galstukhova), Murmansk (t. Tymoshenko), materials of the inspection made by the employee of consular department of People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs of t. Razygrayev//In the same place.

See, for example, Resolution on improvement of service of inomoryak and the military personnel, work improvement Interklubov of the State committee of defense against May 12, 1944; The Resolution state treasury bills on improvement of service of foreign sailors and military personnel in northern ports No. 5893 of May 12, 1944//In the same place.

& #34; Johnston T. Op. cit.

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