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White Russians in the Gloucestershire Regiment

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Another unusual little story from WW2. If anyone knows what happened to any of these men I would welcome any information.

While the 28th Regiment (1st Bn Gloucestershire Regiment) were in Rangoon, Burma, a group of White Russians arrived. Many had been members of the Shanghai Defence Force and now volunteered for service against the Japanese. They were experienced fighters, and with the Battalion very short of men, Colonel Bagot enlisted them.

"They proved a real asset to the 28th in action, were very popular in the ranks, quiet, courageous and with an intense hatred of the Japanese. Some had fought in Manchuria and most could speak Chinese and some Japanese." (Back Badge 1946)

After the 28th fought their way out of India (as rear-guard for the Burma Army), the Russians moved to various units:

Roll of the White Russian Glosters: (as of Dec. 1945)

Lieutenant George Nicolas Binetsky - FSS, Special Section, India.

Lieut. Efraim Maximovitch Fuchs - IAOC, Calcutta.

CSM Gibyanski - FSS Special Section, India.

Sergt. M. Kessel - 23 FSS Berlin

Sergt. P. Kondratoff - 23 FSS Berlin

Sergt. T. Korcyn - Control Commission, Germany

Captain Peter Evsievievich Kostiloff - CISDIC Delhi

Private L. Manasseh - Movement Control, India

Sergt. N. Nirke - FSS, Special Section, India

Sergt. P. Perelman - Movement Control, India

Sergt. Victor Vaselevich Philatoff, MM* - REME

Pte T. Poliahoff - RAOC, Aldershot

Pte L. Prihoda - 15 Holding Battalion

Pte K. Schultz - Repatriated from Hong Kong (POW?)

Sergt. R. Sinitsky - Ordnance Depot, Calcutta

Sapper P. Solovieff - RE, Bombay

Lieut. R. Voetsky - 4th Gurkhas

Sergt. Wedensky - Interpreter, Delhi

S/Conductor L. Zellic - Jhansi

Killed in action with the 28th in Burma:

Pte S. Feldman - 7 March 1942

Pte Jospeh L. Kopievker - 22 March 1942

Pte Gregory Matevosiantz - 30 March 1942

* - 5194258 Private V.V. Philatoff's MM was awarded "for gallantry at Taukkyan 7th March 1942 when he volunteered to drive his carrier in support of an attack against a Japanese road block. The attack failed and heavy mortar fire was opened along the road. An accompanying carrier was knocked out, but Pte Philatoff collected the wounded in his carrier and brought them back. His courage and tenacity at Taukyyan and subsequently in the campaign was an inspiration to all."

"... White Russians of whom there were a number in our platoon. They had been born in exile in Rangoon, Singapore and elsewhere in the Far East of White Russian parents who had fled the revolution, but when Mother Russia was attacked their immesnse patriotism for the lkand they had never seen overcame their distaste for communism and they enlisted in the British forces. They were a grand lot, Corporal Peter Kostiloff I remember well; small, fierce and engaging. A year later he came to see me in hospital and by then he was a senior officer in Intelligence." (The A Soldier by Peter Collister)

Back Badge 1948

"Lt-Col.Donald's article was very interesting. I think the Russian he refers to must have been Pte Polotoff. If so, I met him at Bareilly Hospital in the winter of 1942-43. He had been twice wounded at the Schwedaung road block, once by a bullet through the shoulder from an anti-tank rifle which left an enormous scar. He told me that he had been picked up by a Jeep. Several fingers of one hand were paralysed, caused by a bullet from MG or a piece of shrapnel which hit his hand. He seemed eager to go home to Russia or else resume work as a mechanic after the war. I heard a story that the Russians had entered the 28th from Hong Kong whither their fathers had gone as refugees from the Revolution."

(J. Sibley, Makere College, Kampala, Uganda).


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