95. The first consignment of 12 tanks, with 11 officers and 44 other ranks, arrived at Novorossisk on 13th April, 1919, and training commenced in Ekaterinodar on 22nd.
96. The first division of about 100 Russian officers were only partly trained when, on 14th May, owing to the urgency of the military situation, the tanks were sent to the Donetz front.
97. The tanks took part in several engagements in May and June and contributed у largely to the success of the operations, but the reports of the British officers who were attached to them for observation showed that the tank commanders did not use their tanks to the best advantage.
98. Major Bruce, D.S.O., M.C., who had assumed command on 22nd May, accordingly withdrew the tanks for further instruction to Taganrog, where a tankadrome was being arranged. However, the strength of the works round Tzaritzin was causing much anxiety, and General Denikin decided again to put the tanks into action before the Russian personnel was satisfactorily trained. The tanks again distinguished themselves at the capture of Tzaritzin, especially one manned by a crew of British volunteers, the commander of which, Captain Walsh, was wounded.
99. The tanks were again concentrated at Taganrog for further instruction on 28th July.
100. Since then, one section of heavies and one of whippets have been in action at Poltava, and, being well backed by Kuban Cossacks, carried out a very successful operation. Similar success was not met with by a detachment on the Don front. The on Cossacks, failing to support at a critical moment, the tanks were with difficulty extricated.
lO1. These operations only left one tank for instructional purposes, but 16 Mark V.'s arrived at Taganrog in the middle of August, and intensive training was started.
102. In the middle of August, 1919, Major Sayer, Tank Corps, arrived at Mission Headquarters.
He was sent from the War Office to study the situation on the spot, both as regards working in the field and instruction at the school. He paid visits to the front, went into the whole question thoroughly, and finally took home with him, at the end of September, full operation reports and lists of the stores and materials required to complete the Russian technical tank establishment.
103. By his tact and close attention to the important work in hand, he gained both the respect and the confidence of the Russian Staff and other officers concerned, and I trust that the; recommendations he has taken back with him will meet with support and approval.
104. As a result of a discussion with him on the matters requiring immediate attention, I telegraphed (my No. IF. 1981, dated 25th September) the following recommendations :—
(a.) The immediate despatch of a capable senior officer to command the British
Tank Detachment in South Russia.
(b.) The despatch to General Denikin of as many Mark V., or even Mark V.,
Tanks as can be made available.
105. The Russians are endeavouring to manufacture spare parts and, even if they do not succeed in doing so, they can use tanks to secure decisive results before they are out of action for lack of spares. Cannibalizing is also open to them in case of need. Mark V.* Tanks, though slow, would be most useful for moral effect, especially in key localities like Grozni, where their presence would have a most salutary effect upon the tribesmen and Bolsheviks who are now threatening to attack this place which is of vital importance to Denikin as the source from which he draws the bulk of his oil-fuel.
106. The present is probably a crucial period of the campaign, and all weapons capable of producing immediate and decisive effect are of supreme value. Tanks invariably produce success when properly used against the Bolsheviks. A Russian Colonel of the Russian General Staff, who was forced to act as Chief of the 8th Bolshevik Army and released by General Mamontov during his recent raid, reports that Bolshevik troops are completely" demoralized by the appearance of our tanks which they will not face.
107. The first impression, produced by reports which were too hasty, was that the Russians misused the tanks, and that they would very soon have them all out of action. Subsequently, it was feared that they intended to divide responsibility by putting the guns in charge of one officer, the tanks themselves under the Mechanical Transport Department, and maintenance under a third authority. Luckily these fears have proved to be unfounded. The Russians have placed their Tank Corps under one capable head, who is responsible for everything connected with the tanks. They are training on well, and are improving in knowledge of maintenance, which is proved by the fact that the original 12 tanks issued to them are in proper order and still fighting fit.
108. Russian engineers have proved their capacity under British supervision and have successfully repaired a Mark V. machine, which had received five direct hits from the gun s of an armoured train.
109. The number of tanks which have been issued to the Russians up to date is as follows:—.
5 Mark V., 19/V./19.
5 Medium A., 19/V./19.
6 MarkV, 12/VIII./19.
4 Mark V., 7/X./19.
Forty-four tanks (13 Medium A. and 31 Mark V.) remain on charge of British Tank Corps. Ten are being used in the school and eight are m workshops. They will be issued to the В'ишавд аи soon as they have crews ready.
110. The system of training and of the issue of tanks and tank stores is as follows :—
All pupils after entering the school have to pass through the following classes—
(i.) Tank (Mark V.), maintenance,
(II.) Tank (Mark V.), driving.
(iii.) Tank (Medium Mark A.), maintenance and driving, (iv.) Hotchkiss machine gun," 30 8-inch,
(v.) Hotchkiss 6-pr. gun.
(vi.) Courses on motor-car management and signalling.
Lectures are also delivered on equipment, tactics and compass from time to time, as groups are nearing the completion of their training. The first five classes (i.) to (v.) are carried on under British personnel,' as follows :—
(i.), (ii.) and (iii.) One officer and four other ranks : one of the latter is permanently with (iii.). The remaining three other ranks are interchangeable between (i.) and (ii.), in accordance with requirements.
(iv.) On e officer.
(v.) One officer.
Russian instructors are selected out of the best pupils andretained for varying periods with all all classes.
All tanks are retained by the British until a sufficient number of Russians are qualified to take over a section of tanks, when the latter are fully equipped, as laid down by Tank Corps A.F., T.Q. 14.
Other stores are issued from the British equipment store to the various classes, as required.