USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- THE POLAR BEAR EXPEDITION begins in the last months of WWI, when the 339th Regiment sailed for Europe. But instead of the Western Front, they soon discovered they were bound for Archangel, Russia with the hope of reopening the Eastern Front against Germany. The Americans fought the Bolsheviks in deep snow and temperatures that plunged to fifty below zero. By January 1919, the Northern Bolshevik Army numbered more than 45,000 soldiers, while the American troops mustered a mere 6,000 men.
And yet, even after WWI officially ended in November 1918, American troops continued to fight the Red Army and an equally formidable enemy, “General Winter,” until they were officially recalled by President Woodrow Wilson in June and July 1919, months after the November 11th Armistice.
More than 200 American “Polar Bears” perished on Russian soil during WWI, but those who made it out never forgot their fallen brothers. In 1929, a contingent of veterans returned to Russia to recover the remains of more than eighty of their fallen comrades and brought many of the bodies home to Michigan, where a monument honoring their service still stands: a massive marble polar bear guarding the graves of more than fifty fallen soldiers.
“Nelson’s well-written and well-researched history brings this often overlooked war to life. … Nelson tells this story and so much more with great pathos. … The Polar Bear Expedition is more than a great celebration of this little-known conflict.” —New York Journal of Books
“Using books, articles, and newspaper accounts—and a crisp character-driven approach—Nelson narrates the expedition’s sung and unsung heroes…horrors, and other events…. [His] engrossing narrative will engage military historians, political buffs, and general readers alike.” —Publishers Weekly
“In this fast-paced account, Nelson delivers a detailed…narrative of this century-old campaign. … A vivid, well-researched history of one of America’s many misguided military expeditions.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Nelson adeptly integrates the individual experiences of the regiment with the wider events of the expedition… [T]his largely overlooked event will interest readers of military history.” —Library Journal
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James Carl Nelson received the 2017 Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s Colonel Joseph Alexander Award for Biography. He is the author of three acclaimed histories of the American experience in World War I: I Will Hold: The Story of USMC Legend Clifton B. Cates, from Belleau Wood to Victory in the Great War; Five Lieutenants: The Heartbreaking Story of Five Harvard Men Who Led America to Victory in World War I; and The Remains of Company D: A Story of the Great War. He lives in Eden Prairie, MN.
THE POLAR BEAR EXPEDITION: The Heroes of America’s Forgotten Invasion of Russia
By James Carl Nelson