In the summer of 1918 President Woodrow Wilson, at the urging of our allies in Britain and France, sent an infantry regiment to north Russia to fight the Bolsheviks (the first Communists) in hopes of persuading Russia to rejoin the war against Germany. The 339th Infantry with the first battalion of the 310th Engineers and the 337th Ambulance and Hospital Companies were chosen from the Detroit and Michigan areas. Additional units and soldiers were chosen from all 50 states, and from the battlefronts of France.
These men were called to brave the cold arctic snows and fight long battles in temperatures of sixty-degrees below zero, under the midnight sun of arctic Russia.
Those that survived called themselves “The Polar Bears”. When WWI ended, these men expected to be immediately called home, like all other regiments around the world. That call, for these men, never came. They were left to fight a savage enemy in Northern Russia eight long months after WWI had ended.
There has never been a regiment more tested. They became one of the most highly decorated regiments in all of WWI.
“It was the voices of the soldiers – those eloquent words in the young men’s diaries that made these men so real.
It’s almost as if they were waiting for someone to ‘hear their voices’ long after they were gone.
As a writer I simply reached back into time and listened. A more powerful story I have never heard. Their voices now live on to inspire a new generation.”