Army of the North #2 (1919)

Army of the North #2 (1919)

Army of the North #2 (1919)

The North Russia Intervention, also known as the Northern Russian Expedition, the Archangel Campaign, and the Murman Deployment, was part of the Allied Intervention in Russia after the October Revolution. The intervention brought about the involvement of foreign troops in the Russian Civil War on the side of the White movement. While the movement was ultimately defeated, the Allied forces fought notable ending defensive actions against the Bolsheviks in the battles of Bolshie Ozerki and Romanovka, allowing them to withdraw from Russia in good order. The campaign lasted from 1918, during the final months of World War I, to 1920.

The “Army of the North” was a white army (as was the Army of the Northwest which it later merged with) based between Murmansk and Archangel near the Finnish border.   Composed mainly of Estonians, it fought in the Petrograd (St. Petersburg) area. General Aleksandr Rodzianko was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the forces in February 1919. In May they captured Pskov, Gdov and Yamburg (now Kingisepp) in northwest Russia, only to lose them shortly after.

General Nikolai Yudenich was appointed Minister of War for the Northwestern Government in August 1919 and appointed General Rodzianko as his aid.  When General Yudenich  opened a second campaign against Petrograd in September 1919 he needed stamps and found an obliging printer who lithographed stamps on cheap paper. The Scott catalogue lists five stamps in denominations of 5, 10, 15, 20, and 50 kopecks in different colors (Scott #1-5, found in the catalogue following Russian occupation issues). The Army of the North stamps are inscribed with the Cyrillic letters ОКСА, which stands for “Special Corps, Army of the North”.  There were several varieties of paper used on these stamps:  the 5 kopeck and 10 kopeck values were only printed on on wove paper while the 50 kopeck exists only on extra-thin pelure paper.  The 20 kopeck denomination can be found in about equal proportions on both types of paper while the 15 kopeck also exists on both types with perlure paper being extremely scarce. They were issued imperforate.

The stamps saw very little legitimate use as the Red Army reoccupied the area by the end of December 1919.  Most cancelled copies were done as a favor to stamp collectors in a shack at Moloskovitsy railroad station which served as communication headquarters.  The village and railway station on the Narva-Petrograd line was captured by the Army of the Northwest on October 12, 1919, during its second offensive) and lost again to the Bolshevik forces on November 7. During this brief period of time, it served as the headquarters of the Army.  The postmarking device seems to have remained among the army staff after the evacuation of Moloskovitsy and was used for cancelling-to-order stamps in sheets and fabricating “postally-used” covers, explaining back-dated copies,

Although they are fairly common and inexpensive (around US $2.00 for the entire set of five), forgeries are extremely common.  Scott #2 is the 10 kopeck value, picturing a pair of sheathed swords and printed in blue.

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