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Digital Subscriptions > Family Tree > Family Tree Christmas 2017 > MAILBOX


Family memories of service in Russia, long-lost villages, Aussie military records, crafty family history projects, and even a family history poem


We love reading your letters, and try to publish as many as possible. Find out how to get in touch with us on page 3

A Russian recollection

I was interested to read the article on the Russian Revolution 1917 (FT October 2017). My father used to say that his Uncle Tom had been in Russia during the Revolution, but he had no further information. Fascinating as this seemed, there appeared to be no evidence to support it, until I came across a passenger list online that included a ‘Tom D Field, Engineer’. He was arriving in Southampton in May 1920 on the SS Dongola from Helsingfors in Finland – and all the passengers indicated that the country of their last permanent residence was Russia! The Dongola belonged to P&O and had served as a troop ship and hospital ship during the Great War. In 1919, the ship was used to repatriate Russians who were being deported from Britain, and then to bring back expatriate refugees. Passing through adjoining Finland was the recognised escape route for people wishing to leave Russia. As your article demonstrated, the Bolshevik revolution was still in progress and, what with anarchy, intimidation and famine, conditions there were appalling – so, it is not surprising that British citizens and other émigrés might have wanted to get out if they were able. Newspapers reported on the refugees and the harsh conditions they had endured and, as indicated by The Times’ coverage of the refugees’ arrival over several days, the Revolution and associated events continued to arouse considerable interest in the early 1920s. It would have been fascinating to know how Tom had fared during his time there, and what work he had been doing.

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About Family Tree

Welcome to the Christmas issue of Family Tree – we’ve got festive family history treats galore in store for you. Dive into our delicious feast of digitised documents – rare historic collections for you to enjoy browsing and researching on your device. Enjoy some genealogy jollies: a family history crossword, quiz and memories of Christmas traditions from centuries past. And last but not least, this issue sees the launch of the Family Tree Academy – this is your opportunity to hone your family history skills. In part 1, this issue, we’ve got documents for you to decipher, old handwriting for you to transcribe and a research case study for you to pit your wits against. Join in with our learning experience today to become a better family historian!