In 2018, Invading US Soldiers Filmed the Murder Scene of the Tsar and His Family, 5 Months After it Happened (Video)

December 7, 2019 in News by RBN Staff

Captain Kingsmore (second from right) and his photographic team, Vladivostok, January 1919. Behind the movie camera is Pvt. Philip Tannura. Right: Badge of the Signal Corps Photo Unit American Expeditionary Force Siberia, from the personal collection of still photographer Sgt. John G. Hemmer

by Ron van Dopperen

In December 1918, a photographic team of the U.S. Signal Corps led by Captain Howard Kingsmore arrived in Yekaterinburg, Russia, where they filmed inside the house where Tsar Nicholas II and his family was brutally murdered. Against all odds, we recently found Kingsmore’s personal story on this photographic assignment, as well as part of these historic films.

The execution of the last Russian Tsar and his family hardly needs an introduction. After the Bolsheviks had taken over power the Romanov family was moved to a so-called ‘House of Special Purpose’ in Yekaterinburg. The Imperial family was kept in strict isolation within the walls of a sinister heavily guarded building that was surrounded by a palisade.

The Bolsheviks initially wanted to put the Tsar on trial, but in the summer of 1918 anti-Communist forces were at the gates of Yekaterinburg, and the Reds feared their captives would fall into enemy hands. As a result, death to the Romanovs was declared. Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Tsarina Alexandra and their five children Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Alexei were shot, bayoneted and clubbed to death on the night of 16-17 July 1918. Their bodies were disposed of in a most gruesome manner.

Howard P. Kingsmore was the photographic officer of a U.S. Signal Corps camera team that recorded the operations of the American Expeditionary Army in Siberia. Born in 1886, Kingsmore started his photographic work for the Philadelphia Inquirer, covering the burial of President McKinley, the coal strikes of 1901-1902 and the 50th anniversary of the Civil War battle of Gettysburg.

Around 1907 Kingsmore became chief photographer for the Philadelphia Evening Ledger. For this newspaper he covered the civil war in Mexico, as well as the Punitive Expedition by General Pershing into that country in 1916. When the United States entered World War I he applied for a commission in the U.S. Signal Corps as a photographic officer.

He was commissioned as a Lieutenant in September 1917, appears to have made mostly training pictures while he was in America and in Augustus 1918 was promoted to Captain, when a photographic section was set up for the Siberian Expedition. After the First World War Kingsmore became a cameraman for Fox News.



Cpt. Howard P. Kingsmore (second from left) among some well-known American World War I cameramen. To his right is Major Bert Underwood, formerly of the photographic company of Underwood & Underwood. Second from the right is 1st Lt. Edward N. Jackson, photographic officer of the  27th Division, who filmed at the Peace Treaty Conference in Versailles. On the right of this picture we have Wilbur H. Durborough, who made movies with the German army in 1915. Signal Corps photograph from the collection of the National Archives. Courtesy Harry B. Kidd