The Bolshevik seizure of power following the 1917 October Revolution plunged Russia into a protracted and bloody civil war. The Civil War’s destabilizing affects led to an international intervention. Among this international group were Great Britain, France, Japan, China, and the United States. Between 1918 and 1920, the allied powers deployed military expeditions to major Russian ports to protect allied citizens and support anti-communist forces.
One place where the United States Navy and Marine Corps participated in this effort was the Siberian port of Vladivostok, where U.S.S. Brooklyn under Rear Admiral Austin M. Knight was stationed in order to protect U.S. interests. During the spring and summer of 1918 the Czech Legion, a Czechoslovakian military force that had fought with the Russian Tsar’s army, found itself in open conflict with the Bolsheviks. The Czech forces subsequently seized a number of cities across Siberia. On June 29th, the Legion took control of Vladivostok and arrested the Bolsheviks in the city. That day, Admiral Knight deployed a detachment of 31 Marines under the command of 2nd Lieutenant Conrad S. Grove to guard the American consulate and maintain security. On July 6th, Admiral Knight, together with representatives from British and Chinese forces, issued a statement that the city would be taken under the protection of the Allied Powers, which would use all means necessary, “for its defense against dangers both external and internal.” The Consulate Guard remained until August 10th and a Marine Corps patrol was maintained at the Russian Navy Yard between August 4th and August 24th.
Between 1918 and 1922, Vladivostok became an important center for Russians fleeing the Bolshevik regime. Many came to the city on their way to safety in countries such as China, Australia, and the United States. During this period, U.S. Marines would make two more landings. On July 30, 1919, 31 Marines under 1st Lieutenant Leland S. Swindler disembarked from the New Orleans for two days to protect American interests in the nearby town of Tyutuke Bay. The next year, Marines were deployed to guard a U.S. backed radio station on Rusky Island, in Vladivostok Bay. The guard remained on the island until November 1922.
Throughout this period in Vladivostok, Marines and sailors worked together to protect American and international interests, maintain order, and protect individuals fleeing the Bolshevik regime during a period of great instability and uncertainty.