From the Philippines to Siberia

Collections Spotlight

Fighting still raged on the Western Front of Europe in August 1918 when General William S. Graves was ordered to create a force to be sent to Siberia. The U.S. 27th and 31st Infantry Regiments, Field Hospital 4, Ambulance Company 4, Company D of the 53rd Telegraph Battalion and other smaller units were to be equipped “for winter service,” many of them coming from the balmy Philippines to the frozen lands of Siberia. One of the soldiers of the 31st Infantry was Corporal George Andrew Jensen, Company M.

With Japanese, Chinese, British Empire and Czech troops, American forces began arriving in Vladivostok after Sept. 1, 1918. Their initial duties included guarding the railways from Bolshevik attacks. President Wilson had established a policy of non-aggression and the Americans in Siberia followed that policy closely, only fighting when provoked. Small-scale but fierce actions resulted in 170 American dead and 50 wounded. American forces were not officially withdrawn until January 1920 with the last detail departing Vladivostok on April 1, 1920.

Corporal George Andrew Jensen went into service from Hastings, Neb., on Oct. 13, 1917. He arrived in the Philippines less than a month later and went to Siberia with the 31st Infantry Regiment in 1918. He was wounded in action at Novitskaya on June 22, 1919. He was discharged from the army in November 1919.

The recent donation of his service materials from Jensen’s relatives contains a wide variety of materials: his Model 1917 Service coat with the S-AEF shoulder sleeve insignia (Siberia-American Expeditionary Forces) and the red discharge chevron, a trapunto (a decorative quilted design in high relief) souvenir plaque of his service in the Philippines, photographs, postcards, a color illustration on paper of a U.S. soldier in Siberia, leave passes, and 31st Regiment camp newspapers.

a trapunto (a decorative quilted design in high relief) souvenir plaque of Corporal George Andrew Jensen's service in the Philippines