The “Die-Hards” in Siberia

The “Die-Hards” was the nickname of a battalion of the Middlesex Regiment. Made up of “Navvies”, the battalion formed part of the Allied intervention force into Siberia in August 1918, which supported the White Russians against the Bolsheviks. The battalion’s quixotic name mirrored the mercurial life of the man who raised them: Colonel John Ward, author of this book. Prior to the war Ward was General Secretary of the Navvies, Bricklayers’ and General Labourers’ Union, Liberal MP for Stoke-on-Trent and before that a soldier. At the outbreak of war Ward re-joined the army, raised 5 battalions for the Middlesex Regiment, and was gazetted Lieutenant-Colonel by Kitchener to lead the “Die-Hards”. The intervention was not a success and Ward was back in the UK by 1919. What Ward witnessed in Siberia would in later life harden his anti-communist views.

With the die-hards in Siberia / by Col. John Ward (1920)  9537.c.143

Caption by Christopher Burgess