A Collection of Medals for the Russian Intervention 1918-20

Date of Auction: 27th February 2019

Sold for £1,500

Estimate: £600 - £800

A rare 1919 ‘Russian Intervention’ Archangel M.M. group of three awarded to Private F. T. Bolton, Royal Marine Light Infantry, who served with the Royal Marine Field Force North Russia and Russian Allied Naval Brigade, and was awarded one of only three M.M.s awarded to the Royal Marine Field Force North Russia 1918-19 for his gallantry during the attack on Kodish, 7 February 1919

Military Medal, G.V.R. (PO. 19583 Pte. F. T. Bolton. R.M.L.I.); British War and Victory Medals (PO. 19583 Pte. F. T. Bolton. R.M.L.I.) light contact marks, nearly very fine (3) £600-£800


M.M. London Gazette 17 June 1919 (North Russia).

Frederick Thomas Bolton was born at Hignam, near Rochester, Kent, on 3 May 1899, and attested for the Royal Marine Light Infantry at Hawkhurst, Kent, on 2 August 1916. He served with the Royal Marine Field Force North Russia from 21 May to 31 December 1918, and was one of 2 Officers and 94 other ranks of the Royal Marine Field Force North Russia who participated in the amphibious attack and capture of Archangel, 2 August 1918. He subsequently served afloat and ashore with the Altham Flotilla on the Dvina River from 1 January 1919, and was awarded the Military Medal for his gallantry during the attack near Kodish on 7 February 1919:

‘On 7 February 1919, “B” Company, 17th Liverpools, with 252nd Machine Gun Corps, a detachment of Royal Marines from the Russian Allied Naval Brigade, a detachment of trench mortars, and a company of French and Russian troops, attacked the enemy-held village of Kodish under covering fire from 421st Battery, Royal Field Artillery. The plan was for the French force to advance through the forest and attack Kodish from the rear, capture the enemy field guns and push through the village from the south whilst the Liverpools and Marines would proceed through the forest to rendezvous with the White Russians near the Kodish road junction. The Russian troops would then make a diversionary attack whilst the Marines moved into position to co-ordinate their attack with the French to the south. Enemy scouts detected the Liverpools and Marines moving through the forest and Bolshevik artillery began to shell the approaches to the village.
One soldier recorded:
“Got nearly into Kodish and heard tremendous firing ahead. Bullets were coming our way very plentifully. Lieutenant Hopkinson, King’s Liverpool Regiment, came running down the road, told us the men were being attacked on their left by a strong force and were withdrawing to the river … At 12th Verst Pole they [Royal Marines] met with two block-houses which held them off and wounded many. The men were too exhausted to continue or to capture the block-houses. Then they were attacked on their left flank and had to retire to avoid being cut off from the river.”
In the meantime the Royal Marines attack on the right flank had been held up at Verst Post 12 by two blockhouses which could not be bypassed, causing a number of casualties. The enemy counter-attacked from the left, forcing the Marines to withdraw under covering fire of the British artillery to avoid being cut off from the river. The Marines became stranded in the forest and there were fears that they had been cut off and captured en-masse until they began arriving in British lines several hours later. One Marine was reported missing but walked back into Allied lines two days later.’

Privates Frederick Bolton, Harry Gingell, and David Welsh of the Royal Marines were all awarded the Military Medal for the attack, the only 3 M.M.s awarded to the Royal Marine Field Force North Russia for the entire Russian Intervention (Command of the Royal Marine Field Force North Russia had been transferred in January 1919 from Naval to Army command and consequently recommendations for awards were thereafter made under the Army honours system).

Bolton was posted to H.M.S. Fox, the depot ship of the North Russia Expeditionary Force, in June 1919, and he returned to Portsmouth the following month. He served with the 8th Battalion, Royal Marines from 2 June 1920, and was discharged on 18 March 1922- his only active service in a theatre of war had been in North Russia 1918-19.

Bolton is mentioned on page 163 of Churchill's Secret War with Lenin by Damien Wright.