|"Detroit's Own" Polar Bear Memorial Association|
The "Detroit's Own" Polar Bear Memorial Association
is dedicated to honoring and maintaining the memory of the 339th
Infantry Regiment, the 1st Battalion of the 310th Engineers, the 337th
Ambulance Co. and the 337th Field Hospital of the U.S. Army's 85th
Division. These men, officially designated the American North Russia
Expeditionary Force and also known as "Detroit's Own" and "Polar
Bears", were sent by President Wilson to North Russia where they fought
the Bolshevik Red Army from September 1918 through June 1919.
The Bentley Historical Library's "Polar Bear Expedition Digital Collections" web site has been entirely re-constructed and the effort is now nearly complete. This interactive site features the digitized "Polar Bear Collections" housed at the University of Michigan's Bentley Historical Library. Back in the 1960s the Bentley Historical Library began collecting personal papers of the Polar Bear veterans through a collaboration with the Polar Bear Association. About nine years ago the Library began digitizing this collection and making it available on-line. Additional digitized materials have been added to the collection in recent years but it was necessary to revamp the web site using different software so that the new content could be made accessible. Additional materials are awaiting digitizing and will be added to the web site in the near future.
Recognize any of these soldiers? Send an e-mail to
Mike Grobbel if you do. This snapshot was found in the collection of
Sgt. Simon Davis, Co. B, 339th Inf. Reg., but he is not among them.
Based on the bottle of Rye Whiskey, the availability of pipe tobacco
and the metal bed frames, this photo was most likely taken in the
Browse the lists of official captions for (510) photographs taken in North Russia by the U.S. Army Signal Corps.The lists are complied in order of increasing SC number. The SC number is usually found in the lower left hand corner of the image, next to the U.S. Army Signal Corps logo. Many of the captions identify the subjects in the photo by their name, rank and/or unit. Information on how to obtain copies of these photos can be found on this page.
Visit the new web site The Foreign Burial of American War Dead
"The American Expedition to North Russia in 1918-1919 has been oddly neglected by professional historians, with the result that most US citizens, including even the best educated and well-read, have been unaware of its existence. Partly, this has been because it got underway in the closing weeks of the Great War (now officially called World War I), and like a side show at a circus where they are already striking the tent, it drew little attention.
"Besides that, there was the confusion and obscurity surrounding it with regard to its purpose, especially in Washington and among the American troops who were involved: they literally had no idea what they were being sent to do. Even President Woodrow Wilson, as will be seen, was in a spin of uncertainty as to whether he should or should not authorize the expedition, and the British leadership (for it was to be an Allied operation, including British and French soldiers, but with the British officers in all the top command positions) offered little clarification.
enlightenment, five thousand American doughboys found themselves, early
in September of 1918, after a long, slow trip from England through the
icy waters of the Arctic Ocean, disembarking at the Russian port of
Archangel - and more than half of them no sooner ashore than they were,
with astonishment, packed off to "the front" to fight "the Bolos" -
which was to say units of the Soviet Red Army. The operation thus
turned out to be, willy-nilly and right from the start, an invasion of
concise overview of the American North Russian Expeditionary
"The Polar Bear Expedition - American Intervention in Northern Russia, 1918-1919",
by the Michigan Historical Collections of the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan.
INTRODUCTION | CEREMONIES & EVENTS | HONOR ROLL | MILITARY DECORATIONS | ENGAGEMENTS
"POLAR BEAR" STORIES | ARTICLES & REF. INFO. | PHOTO ALBUM | MORE LINKS | BOOKS | GUESTBOOK
Mike Grobbel .
This web page was created on 04 July 2002 and moved to"http://pbma.grobbel.org" on 08 July 2007; Last Revised: 16 Feb 2014
The URL for this page is: http://pbma.grobbel.org/index.html
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