A Michigan Polar Bear Confronts the Bolsheviks: A War Memoir: The 337th Field Hospital in Northern Russia, 1918-1919

A Michigan Polar Bear Confronts the Bolsheviks: A War Memoir: The 337th Field Hospital in Northern Russia, 1918-1919

A Michigan Polar Bear Confronts the Bolsheviks: A War Memoir: The 337th Field Hospital in Northern Russia, 1918-1919

A Michigan Polar Bear Confronts the Bolsheviks: A War Memoir: The 337th Field Hospital in Northern Russia, 1918-1919

Synopsis

When he was drafted for duty in the United States Army during World War I, Godfrey Anderson had no idea he was about to embark on a horrific adventure that would find him doing battle with Bolshevik revolutionaries in the frozen reaches of northern Russia. He became one of a 5,000-man American contingent assigned to join British troops in an effort to prevent Allied war materials from falling into Bolshevik hands. / Realizing that this compelling story was lost in the larger story of World War I, Anderson decided to offer this memoir so that succeeding generations would know and learn from his experience. And although he chooses not to pass judgment on the policy that sent him to Russia, his story still leaves readers to wonder when -- and if -- interference in the affairs of other nations is justified.

Excerpt

I met Godfrey Anderson in 1978, shortly after I had become the city historian of Grand Rapids, Michigan. the city had celebrated the 150th anniversary of its founding that year, two years after the 1976 national celebration of the Bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence. As those celebratory years drew to a close, city commissioners decided they would try to sustain the heightened popular interest in history by establishing the city historian position. My job consisted of collecting historical information and materials, creating publications about the history of the Grand River Valley, and initiating educational programs. Upon taking that position, I was interviewed for a Grand Rapids Press story and told a reporter that veterans of twentiethcentury military service were one of the human sources from whom I hoped to gather documentary material and oral histories. Shortly after that story ran, Godfrey Anderson called to tell me he had written a memoir of his World War I experience in northern Russia, and if I would be interested, I could stop by and pick it up. I was delighted to receive that call and quickly made an appointment for what turned out to be the first of several visits, with Godfrey ultimately presenting his memoir, his historical photographs, and other archival materials to the Grand Rapids Public Library’s local history collections.

When we first met, Godfrey and I discovered that, in addition to the history of Grand Rapids, we shared interests in our common . . .

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