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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Troy in Oakland County, Michigan — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

The Polar Bears

Monument and Burial Site

 
 
The Polar Bears Marker image. Click for full size.
By R. C., May 2, 2011
1. The Polar Bears Marker
Inscription. In the summer of 1918, President Woodrow Wilson, at the urging of Britain and France, sent an infantry regiment to north Russia to fight the Bolsheviks in hopes of persuading Russia to rejoin the war against Germany. The 339th Infantry Regiment, with the first battalion of the 310th Engineers and the 337th Ambulance and Hospital Companies, arrived at Archangel, Russia, on September 4, 1918. About 75 percent of the 5,500 Americans who made up the North Russian Expeditionary Forces were from Michigan; of those, a majority were from Detroit. The newspapers called them "Detroit's Own,"; they called themselves "Polar Bears." They marched on Belle Isle on July 4, 1919. Ninety-four of them were killed in action after the United States decided to withdraw from Russia but before Archangel's harbor thawed.

(reverse)
In 1929, five former "Polar Bears" of the 339th Infantry Regiment returned to north Russia in an attempt to recover the bodies of fellow soldiers who had been killed in action or died of exposure or disease ten years earlier. The group was selected by the members of the Polar Bear Association under the auspices of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The trip was sponsored by the federal government and the State of Michigan. The delegates recovered eighty-six bodies. Fifty-six of these were buried on this site on May 30, 1930.
The Polar Bears Marker (reverse side) image. Click for full size.
By R. C., May 2, 2011
2. The Polar Bears Marker (reverse side)
The Polar Bear monument was carved from white Georgian marble; the steps, from white North Carolina granite The black granite base symbolizes a fortress, and the cross and helmet denote war burial.
 
Erected 1988 by Bureau of History, Michigan Department of State. (Marker Number L1516C.)
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Michigan Historical Commission marker series.
 
Location. 42° 35.109′ N, 83° 9.812′ W. Marker is in Troy, Michigan, in Oakland County. Marker can be reached from W Long Lake Rd. Touch for map. Located near the middle of the cemetery. Marker is at or near this postal address: 621 W. Long Lake Rd, Troy MI 48098, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Barn Church (approx. 0.8 miles away); Historic Green (approx. 0.9 miles away); Troy Township (approx. one mile away); Wattles House (approx. 1.1 miles away); Troy Corners (approx. 1.6 miles away); S.S. Kresge Company (approx. 2.1 miles away); The Kresge Foundation (approx. 2.2 miles away); The Academy of the Sacred Heart (approx. 3.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Troy.
 
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. To better understand
Polar Bear Statue Plaque image. Click for full size.
By R. C.
3. Polar Bear Statue Plaque
In Memory of the Veterans of the North Russian Expeditionary Forces. (1918 - 1919) - Dedicated May 30, 1930. [located at the base of the Polar Bear statue.]
the relationship, study each marker in the order shown.
 
Also see . . .  The Polar Bears Expedition. (Submitted on May 9, 2011, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.)
 
Categories. War, World I
 
Polar Bear Memorial and Burial Site Marker Underneath U.S. and U.S. Army Flags image. Click for full size.
By R. C., May 2, 2011
4. Polar Bear Memorial and Burial Site Marker Underneath U.S. and U.S. Army Flags
Polar Bear Statue image. Click for full size.
By R. C.
5. Polar Bear Statue
Polar Bear Statue (detail) image. Click for full size.
By R. C.
6. Polar Bear Statue (detail)
The cross and helmet denote war burial.
Polar Bear Statue image. Click for full size.
By R. C.
7. Polar Bear Statue
Polar Bear Statue (rear) image. Click for full size.
By R. C.
8. Polar Bear Statue (rear)
The statue is showing significant signs of damage from the cold Michigan winters and age.
Polar Bear Statue (front view) image. Click for full size.
By R. C., May 2, 2011
9. Polar Bear Statue (front view)
Polar Bear Statue Plaque (Mounted Mid-Base) image. Click for full size.
By R. C.
10. Polar Bear Statue Plaque (Mounted Mid-Base)
Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right, but our country, right or wrong! - Stephen Decatur
Polar Bear Statue image. Click for full size.
By R. C.
11. Polar Bear Statue
Polar Bear Memorial and Burial Site Marker Detail image. Click for full size.
By R. C., May 2, 2011
12. Polar Bear Memorial and Burial Site Marker Detail
Charles F. Chappel - 1st Lt. K Co. 339th Inf. image. Click for full size.
By R. C.
13. Charles F. Chappel - 1st Lt. K Co. 339th Inf.
Example of the 56 grave markers of the Michigan hero Polar Bears.
Polar Bear Statue (Bear Claw Detail) image. Click for full size.
By R. C.
14. Polar Bear Statue (Bear Claw Detail)
The damage the weather and probably acid rain is apparent on the polar bear's foot.
Polar Bear Statue (Detail of Bear's Head) image. Click for full size.
By R. C., May 2, 2011
15. Polar Bear Statue (Detail of Bear's Head)
Polar Bear Memorial and Burial Site Marker image. Click for full size.
By R. C.
16. Polar Bear Memorial and Burial Site Marker
There is an annual Memorial Day service at the memorial.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on May 6, 2011, by R. C. of Shrewsbury, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 1,048 times since then and 55 times this year. Last updated on November 30, 2015, by David Belokonny of Bingham Farms, Michigan. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16. submitted on May 6, 2011, by R. C. of Shrewsbury, New Jersey. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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