The Latvian Riflemen

Latvian brigades had fought as part of the Imperial Russian Army in the First World War.  The majority of their number then took the Bolshevik side in 1917, and April 1918 saw the technical formation of the Latvian Rifle Soviet Division of the Red Army, more commonly known simply as the Latvian Riflemen.

The map on display shows the enormous geographical spread of locations in which Latvian Riflemen fought from November 1917 to November 1918: from Archangel in the far north, round to Ekaterinburg and Ufa in the Urals in the east, down to Dagestani Kizliar by the Caspian Sea, back round up along the Dnieper river into Belarusian territory to Petrograd and Finland.  Central to this all, spelled out in larger letters, is Москва – Moscow.  Some of the most historic episodes in which the Latvian Rifleman were involved were played out on its streets.

Latyshkie strelki / A.I. Spreslis (1967)  586:9.d.95.102

The Riflemen were not only effective on the front line; they were also a trusted force for protection against anti-Bolsheviks within Soviet territory.  In April 1918, they played an active part in the suppression of anarchist groups in Moscow.  Before long, it would be the turn of the Left Social Revolutionaries.

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