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RUSSIAN RAILWAY SERVICE CORPS

APRIL 1, 1935.-Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the state

of the Union and ordered to be printed

Mr. THOMASON, from the Committee on Military Affairs, submitted

the following

REPORT

[To accompany S. 1095)

The Committee on Military Affairs, to whom was referred the bill (S. 1095) for the relief of the officers of the Russian Railway Service Corps, organized by the War Department under authority of the President of the United States for service during the war with Germany, having considered the same, reports favorably thereon with the recommendation that it do pass.

The committee had under consideration in the Seventy-third Congress a bill which was identical with the present bill. Extensive hearings were had at that time upon the bill, and hearings have also been held during the present Congress on this measure.

The hearings disclosed the fact that the members of the Russian Railway Service Corps volunteered at the solicitation of the Government for such service rendered in Russia, which was then associated with our Government in making war upon the Imperial Government of Germany and that service was considered by the persons constituting this corps as military service.

Your committee feels that the members of this Russian Railway Service Corps rendered valuable service and in the honest belief that they were a part of the Military Establishment of the United States. The haste and confusion incident to the emergency then existing is sufficient explanation for this misunderstanding that the members of this corps suffered. The service they rendered was perilous and the circumstances difficult. They did the job assigned to them in a most efficient manner. The bill has passed the Senate five times and received a favorable report from this committee in the Sixty-eighth Congress.

Accordingly your committee respectfully recommends that the bill do pass and adopts and makes a part hereof Senate Report No. 38, Seventy-fourth Congress.

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[8. Rept. No. 38, 74th Cong., 1st sess.) The Committee on Military Affairs, to whom was referred the bill (S. 1095) for the relief of the officers of the Russian Railway Service Corps organized by the War Department under authority of the President of the United States for service during the war with Germany, having considered the same, report favorably thereon with the recommendation that it do pass.

A bill identical with S. 1095 passed the Senate during the Seventy-third Congress, second session, on March 20, 1934. A subcommittee of the Military Affairs Committee went into the matter carefully at that time, holding hearings on the bill and giving it thorough study. Your committee has recently taken this matter up again, following its reintroduction in the Senate as S. 1095. On the basis of further consideration of this measure, and the hearings previously held, your committee again recommends that this matter be favorably acted upon by the Senate. Your committee reported favorably on S. 2320 with amendments during the second session of the Seventy-third Congress, and the bill passed the Senate with the recommended amendments. The bill as reintroduced, S. 1095, embraces the amendments previously made to this bill by the Senate.

Senate Report No. 458, Seventy-third Congress, second session, to accompany S. 2320 follows:

“The Committee on Military Affai to whom was referred the bill (S. 2320) for the relief of the officers of the Russian Railway Service Corps organized by the War Department under authority of the President of the United States for service during the war with Germany, having considered the same, report favorably thereon with the recommendation that it do pass amended as follows:

"Line 10: After the word 'States' insert the word 'Army'. "Line 10: After the word 'War' add the following:

'I rovided, That no back pay, compensation, benefit, or allowance shall be held to have accrued prior to the passage of this Act.'

“Several ex-members of the Russian Railway Service Corps and other advocates of the proposed legislation appeared before the committee. From their statements, and from consideration of documentary evidence from the War Department and State Department, the committee arrived at the following facts:

“That the members of the Russian Railway Service Corps were never regularly commissioned officers of the United States Army. That the corps was organized as the result of a request made to the War Department by the State Department. That the request was based upon the necessity for a force of trained railway personnel to maintain and operate the Trans-Siberian Railway for the benefit of the Russian Government then at war with the Central Powers. The procurement, instruction, and transportation of this personnel was charged to the Chief of Engineers, 'United States Army. The War Department decided that as a protection to these men, and to assist their performance in the isolated and disorganized part of Russia where they would be employed, they should wear American officers' uniforms, and receive War Department letters of appointment carrying titles of rank comparable to their respective responsibilities. These letters of appointment read as follows:

"You are hereby informed that the President of the United States has appointed you (rank) in the Russian Railway Service Corps, in the military service of the United States.

“This notice of appointment will be regarded as a commission for all purposes.' “Upon the termination of service of members of the corps, they were given a letter accepting their resignations and not the usual form of discharge given emergency officers, United States Army.

“Testimony was presented to the effect that while in Russia members of the corps: Wore American officers' uniforms; were saluted by American and Allied soldiers; were addressed by their titles of rank; received medical treatment in American Army hospitals; deceased members received military funerals and honors; were transported on American Army transports; were paid by American Army Finance Department.

“Opposed to the foregoing positive evidence that for all practical purposes members of the corps served in the capacity of American Army officers is the following:

“Their letters of appointment were not in the form of the commissions given regularly appointed emergency officers and were not restrictive and binding as to termination.

“Their separation from employment was not the form of discharge required to be given a regularly commissioned officer.

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“The War Department's connection with the formation of the corps was entirely upon request of the State Department, and it is understood that the State Department request in turn was in compliance with a request from the Russian Government to furnish American operating personnel for the Trans-Siberian Railway, this railway being the only avenue of supply for the Russian Army then engaging Germany. Except for this connection, and the War Department's own desire to authorize the use of the American uniform and titles of rank for the purpose of protecting the persons and facilitating the performance of members of the corps, it is probable that members of the corps would have otherwise functioned as civilian employees of the Russian Government.

“After weighing all the evidence, the committee concludes:

“That the members of the corps rendered patriotic, loyal, and hazardous service under war conditions which were essential to American participation in the World War. That this service was rendered under essentially military conditions and requirements. That members of the corps believed themselves regularly appointed officers of the United States Army. That had they performed the same service with the American Army in France they would have been regularly commissioned in the Army. That through no fault of their own, they are now in the anomalous position of having rendered honorable war service, but are denied the sentimental and practical benefits of such service. That recognition of the honorable war service if the members of the Russian Railway Service Corps as provided in S. 2320 is justified, but should not constitute or be considered a precedent for similar action upon other claims which may be made for recognition of war service. The War Department opposes this bill as set forth in the following letter:

WAR DEPARTMENT,

Washington, January 24, 1994. Hon. MORRIS SHEPPARD, Chairman Committee on Military Affairs,

United States Senate. DEAR SENATOR SHEPPARD: Careful consideration has been given to the bill S. 2320 (73d Cong., 2d sess.), for the relief of the “officers of the Russian Railway Service Corps organized by the War Department under authority of the President of the United States for service during the war with Germany", which bill was forwarded on January 16, 1934, with a request for the views of the War Department relative thereto.

Bills substantially the same in purpose as S. 2320 have frequently been introduced in Congress. Accordingly, the War Department has given considerable study to the question from all viewpoints and has furnished information on this subject to committees of Congress from time to time. In every instance the War Department has recommended against the credit for military service asked in the present bill.

I shall briefly indicate the circumstances connected with the inception, nature of employment of, and status of this corps. The Russian Railway Service Corps was not a part of the United States Army but was a semiofficial unit composed of railroad men who were sent to Siberia at the request of the Russian Government to improve the operating condition on the Trans-Siberian Railroad. The procurement of these men was undertaken by the Director General of the Military Railways and the Chief of Engineers at the request of the State Department and the organization was forwarded to Siberia in November 1917. Owing to the chaotic conditions existing at that time in Siberia it was deemed advisable to give the corps a semimilitary organization and to uniform the members thereof. For this reason the members were given military titles and were furnished with letters of appointment from The Adjutant General of the Army. A special uniform for the corps, together with original insignia, was furnished, both differing from those used by the American military forces. The corps consisted entirely of officers. There was no form of contract binding the members of the Russian Railway Service Corps to remain in the service against their will, the relationship being similar to that which obtains in cases of employees of a business firm who are free to resign at will, restrained only by the moral obligation not to leave their employer without due notice.

The War Department does not lack a full appreciation of the service of the members of the Russian Railway Service Corps and does not desire to detract from the credit undoubtedly due them. However, in viewing the World War, it is seen that the patriotism of our people brought forth service or sacrifice from practically every man, woman, and child in the country. There were innumerable activities of a semimilitary character and I believe you will readily see the impossibility of recognizing all who served highly and loyally by giving a definite military status.

That the Americans in the Russian Railway Service Corps had no status as part of the military forces of the United States at the time of their employment but were primarily employees of the Government of Russia is quite evident, and in view of all the facts the War Department is constrained to again recommend against giving this military status and the consequent benefits that would result.

The War Department will gladly furnish any further information with reference to S. 2320 which your committee may desire. Sincerely yours,

GEO. H. DERN, Secretary of War. “The views of the State Department are as follows:

FEBRUARY 14, 1934. Hon. MORRIS SHEPPARD,

United States Senate. MY DEAR SENATOR SHEPPARD: I have received Mr. Pitts' letter of January 23, 1914, requesting, on your behalf, the views of this Department concerning Senate bill 2320, Seventy-third Congress, entitled “A bill for the relief of the officers of the Russian Railway Service Corps organized by the War Department under authority of the President of the United States for service during the War with Germany."

In reply I wish to draw your attention to Secretary Colby's letter of May 27, 1920, to Senator Wadsworth concerning a previous bill on this same subject and to the testimony of Mr. De Witt C. Poole, then Chief of the Division of Russian Affairs of this Department, before the Committee on Military Affairs of the House of Representatives on June 20, 1922, when Mr. Poole presented the views of this Department concerning Senate bill no. 28, Sixty-seventh Congress, second session. For your convenience there is attached an extract from Mr. Poole's statement to the committee.

I may add that, while the Department is fully appreciative of the service which was performed by the members of the Russian Railway Service Corps and is of the opinion that they should receive every possible consideration, it believes that it is for the Congress to decide what action should be taken with respect thereto. Sincerely yours,

CORDELL HULL. (Source: Russian Railway Service Corps, providing an honorable discharge for the members of, from the mililtary service of the United States. Hearing before the Committee on Military Affairs, House of Representatives, 67th Cong., 2d sess., on S. 28. Tuesday, July 20, 1922; Friday, June 23, 1922; pt. 2, Government Printing Office, Washington, p. 32)

“Mr. Quin. What is the objection to having the men in that corps, and who were in the service of the United States Government, given the status of any other soldiers that had on the uniform of the United States Government during the war?

16. Mr. POOLE. So far as the State Department is concerned, there is no objection. The attitude of the State Department, so far as I am authorized to speak for it, is this: The Department is fully appreciative of the service these men performed, and believes that they should receive every possible consideration, but as to whether this particular bill should be passed or not, is, of course, a question that you must decide. As to the particular form that our appreciation of these men shall take, that is another matter.' “The War Department report on S. 1095, dated January 24, 1935, follows:

JANUARY 24, 1935. Hon. MORRIS SHEPPARD, Chairman Committee on Military Affairs,

United States Senate. DEAR SENATOR SHEPPARD: Careful consideration has been given to the bill, S. 1095, Seventy-fourth Congress, first session, for the relief of the “officers of the Russian Railway Service Corps organized by the War Department under authority of the President of the United States for service during the war with Germany", which bill was forwarded on January 17, 1935, with a request for the views of the War Department relative thereto.

Bills substantially the same in purpose as S. 1095 have frequently been introduced in Congress. Accordingly, the War Department has given considerable study to the question from all viewpoints and has furnished information on this subject to committees of Congress from time to time. In every instance the War Department has recommended against the credit for military service asked in the present bill.

I shall briefly indicate the circumstances connected with the inception, nature of employment of, and status, of this corps. The Russian Railway Service Corps was not a part of the United States Army, but was a semiofficial unit composed of railroad men who were sent to Siberia at the request of the Russian Government to improve the operating condition on the Trans-Siberian Railroad. The procurement of these men was undertaken by the Director General of the Military Railways and the Chief of Engineers at the request of the State Department and the organization was forwarded to Siberia in November 1917. Owing to the chaotic conditions existing at that time in Siberia, it was deemed advisable to give the corps a semimilitary organization and to uniform the members thereof. For this reason the members were given military titles and were furnished with letters of appointment from The Adjutant General of the Army. A special uniform for the corps, together with original insignia, was furnished, both differing from those used by the American military forces. The corps consisted entirely of officers. There was no form of contract binding the members of the Russian Railway Service Corps to remain in the service against their will, the relationship being similar to tha which obtains in cases of employees of a business firm who are free to resign at will, restrained only by the moral obligation not to leave their employer without due notice.

The War Department does not lack a full appreciation of the service of the members of the Russian Railway Service Corps and does not desire to detract from the credit undoubtedly due them. However, in viewing the World War it is seen that the patriotism of our people brought forth service or sacrifice from practically every man, woman, and child in the country. There were innumerable activities of a semimilitary character and I believe you will readily see the impossibility of recognizing all who served highly and loyally by giving a definite military status.

That the Americans in the Russian Railway Service Corps had no status as part of the military forces of the United States at the time of their employment but were primarily employees of the Government of Russia is quite evident, and in view of all the facts the War Department is constrained to again recommend against giving this military status and the consequent benefits that would result.

The War Department will gladly furnish any further information with reference to S. 1095 which your committee may desire. Sincerely yours,

Geo. H. DERN, Secretary of War. "Letter from the Secretary of State dated January 26, 1935, and enclosure, follow:

JANUARY 26, 1935. Hon. MORRIS SHEPPARD, Chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs,

United States Senate. MY DEAR SENATOR SHEPPARD: I have received Mr. Tolbert's communication of January 17, 1935, requesting, on your behalf, the views of this Department concerning Senate bill 1095, Seventy-fourth Congress, entitled "A bill for the relief of the officers of the Russian Railway Service Corps organized by the War Department under authority of the President of the United States for service during the war with Germany."

In reply, I wish to draw your attention to Secretary Colby's letter of May 27, 1920, to Senator Wadsworth concerning a previous bill on this same subject and to the testimony of Mr. De Witt C. Poole, then Chief of the Division of Russian Affairs of this Department, before the Committee on Military Affairs of the House of Representatives on June 20, 1922, when Mr. Poole presented the views of this Department concerning Senate bill 28, Sixty-seventh Congress, second session. For your convenience there is attached an extract from Mr. Poole's statement to the committee.

I may add that, while the Department is fully appreciative of the service which was performed by the members of the Russian Railway Service Corps and is of the opinion that they should receive every possible consideration, it believes that it is for the Congress to decide what action should be taken with respect thereto.

I wish to draw your attention, in this connection, to my letter to you of February 14, 1934, in which I expressed the same views as those indicated in this

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