Forced into War: Canada's Siberia Expedition

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Benjamin Isitt
Chris Kruger
November 14, 2012
02:02

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Forced into War: Canada's Siberia Expedition
by grtv

Consisting of 4,209 men and one woman, Canada's Siberian Expedition mobilized alongside a dozen Allied armies in a bid to defeat Lenin’s Bolsheviks. Many of Canada's soldiers were against this forced military intervention and protested heavily against being sent into the war. They were forced onto military ships bound for Russia, in chains and at gunpoint.

The mission failed — in the face of a robust partisan insurgency, divided Allied strategies, and heated domestic opposition.

Combining military and labour history with the social history of British Columbia, Québec, and Russia, Benjamin Isitt examines how the Siberian Expedition exacerbated tensions within Canadian society at a time when a radicalized working class, many French-Canadians, and even the soldiers themselves objected to Canada’s military adventure designed to alter the outcome of the Russian Revolution.

Military historians have tended to write off the Siberian Expeditionary Force as a mere sideshow, an embarrassing episode in the larger context of the First World War. By bringing the story of the expedition to centre stage, Benjamin Isitt illuminates a forgotten chapter in the history of labour radicalism and the complex factors that have shaped foreign policy.

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