Russian Civil War

Evacuation of Novorossiysk
Flight of the bourgeoisie from Novorossiysk in 1920 by Ivan Vladimirov. ©Image Attribution forthcoming. Image belongs to the respective owner(s).
1920 Mar 1

Evacuation of Novorossiysk

Novorossiysk, Russia

By March 11, 1920, the front line was only 40–50 kilometers away from Novorossiysk. The Don and Kuban Armies, which were disorganized by that time, withdrew in great disorder. The line of defense was only held by the remnants of the Volunteer Army, which had been reduced and renamed to the Volunteer Corps, and which had great difficulty in containing the onslaught of the Red Army.


On March 11, General George Milne, Commander-in-Chief of the British troops in the region, and Admiral Seymour, Commander of the Black Sea Fleet, arrived from Constantinople in Novorossiysk. General Anton Denikin was told that only 5,000-6,000 people could be evacuated by the British.


On the night of March 26, in Novorossiysk warehouses were burning, and tanks with oil and shells were exploding. The evacuation was conducted under the cover of the second battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Edmund Hakewill-Smith and the Allied squadron commanded by Admiral Seymour, which fired towards the mountains, preventing the Reds from approaching the city. At dawn on March 26, the last ship, the Italian transport Baron Beck entered the Tsemessky Bay, causing great turmoil as the people didn't know where it would land. The panic reached its apogee when the crowd rushed to the gangway of this last ship. The military and civilian refugees on the transport ships were taken to the Crimea, Constantinople, Lemnos, the Prince Islands, Serbia, Cairo, and Malta. On March 27, the Red Army entered the city. The Don, Kuban, and Terek regiments, left on the shore, had no choice but to accept the terms and surrender to the Red Army.


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