In November of 1920, a crisis occurred in Constantinople that for a time drew attention away from events in mainland (Anatolian) Turkey. Virtually overnight, the residents of the city awoke to find over 120 Russian, French, and American ships steaming into the straits and anchoring near the city. Nearly 146,000 White Russian refugees were aboard these vessels.1 Refugees on some ships were standing, packed so tightly that they could not move. “You realized with a shock, as the morning light grew clearer, that what had appeared at first to be piled-up superstructure was in reality a solid mass of men,” commented an American reporter.2
Black Sea Humanitarian Mission
During the Russian Civil War, Rear Admiral Newton A. McCully did his best to alleviate the suffering of refugees fleeing the advancing Red Army. His efforts are described in the following excerpt from the new Naval Insitute Press book America’s Black Sea Fleet: The U.S. Navy amidst War and Revolution, 1919–1923.
By Robert Shenk