|Peterborough Examiner, December 7, 1920 pg 9
CANADIAN OFFICERS IMPRISONED SOVIET TELL THEIR STORY
TEN MONTHS IN BOLSHEVIK HANDS ALTOGETHER
(By Sydney B. Gave, Staff Correspondent of the Cross-Atlantic Newspaper Service.)
LONDON, Dec. 7, - After a ten months' imprisonment by the Bolsheviks and suffering fearful hardships and semi-starvation, two Canadian officers serving in Kolchaks' army in Siberia, have arrived in London. They are Lieut. Osborn Demster, of Uxbridge avenue, Toronto, and Lieut. B.E. Eyford, of Prince Albert, Sask., both of whom have been with the British Railway Commission in Siberia.
"The food was bad," said Demster, "and we were kept in close confinement. We had black bread and water, and usually a little soup, but very weak and unpalatable. The last three months when we were in Moscow the conditions were worse. We were practically starved. In Siberia we had a certain amount of freedom. We were able to walk about sometimes at the change of guards. During these trips we met many heads of revolutionary committees. They are mostly Jews. At the end of October we were told we were to be released on a plan of exchange of political prisoners. We came back through Finland and arrived in London this week. The conditions in Moscow are awful. When we were captured in Siberia, the Bolshevists were apparently afraid we would resist. We were travelling in trucks. They brought an armoured train alongside and trained their machine guns on us demanding the surrender of our rifles and rifles which we had already destroyed."
Lieut. Demster, was an officer of the A.A.S.C., on the staff of the British Railway Commandant at Omsk. He is now leaving for Canada on a two months' leave. He told me that eight officers and eight privates of his party were captured by the Bolshevists in January second at Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, and travelled over a thousand versts [obsolete Russian unit of length - approx. 1100 Km] in sleighs during the first period of their imprisonment. They were housed in box trucks and later sent to Moscow. Altogether they were in the hands of the Bolshevists ten months.
Edited to add:
William James Dempster married Eleanor Maud Osbourne in York Co., Ontario about 1910 and adopted the hyphenated Osbourne to his surname. It appears he was born in York Co. in 1889 to William John and Isabella Dempster but I've been unable to locate any of them in the census and have still been unsuccessful in finding an Attestation Paper for him.
London Gazette - Military Cross 01 FEB 1919
T./2nd Lt. James Dempster, 2nd Divl.
M.T. Coy., R.A.S.C.
At Velu, on the night 26th/27th September, 1918, he, by his example and disregard
of danger during the shelling of an ammunition train, before and after the train had
received a direct hit upon a truck of shell, which exploded. A dump on the other side
of the track was hit and exploded also. He himself, with a few men, man-handled
trucks down the track to clear from the burning train. He throughout showed conspicuous
gallantry, and was entirely responsible for saving the ammunition.