Oliver Baldwin, a witness to the surrender of Kars to the Turks without a fight

Oliver Ridsdale Baldwin, the 2nd Earl Baldwin of Bewdley (1899-1958), holds an illustrious place in British history as both a politician and the son of Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin. His life story was one of service and adventure, with him serving in the British army during World War I. After being captured by the Turks, Baldwin spent a year as a prisoner of war before making a daring escape.

After his military service, he transitioned to a political career, serving in the British House of Commons and later in the House of Lords. Yet his commitment to fighting for what he believed was right was not limited to the political arena.

In 1920, amid the Turkish-Armenian war, Baldwin volunteered to fight alongside the Armenians. The conflict took place in the aftermath of World War I and the Russian Revolution, with the nascent Republic of Armenia grappling against Russian Bolsheviks and Turkish nationalists, the latter led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who would later establish the Turkish Republic. The battleground was the independence of Armenia, a land that had been under the control of both the Ottoman and Russian empires. The war concluded with a victory for the alliance of the Russian and Turkish forces.

Among Baldwin’s many contributions to history, his account of the surrender of the city of Kars stands out. He recorded how Kars, a strategically located fortress city, was handed over to the Turkish troops without a fight. This event played a crucial role in the decisive victory of the Russian-Turkish alliance.

Upon his return to the UK, Baldwin followed his father into politics. He served as a member of the Labour Party and represented Dudley in Parliament from 1929 to 1931, and then again from 1940 to 1950. Between these periods, from 1948 to 1950, he held the position of Governor of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean.

Baldwin’s forthright views often drew attention and ignited controversy. He was a staunch supporter of socialism and advocated passionately for workers’ rights. Oliver Ridsdale Baldwin’s life came to an end in 1958, marking the conclusion of a life characterized by service, adventure, and a commitment to his principles.

Vigen Avetisyan

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