John Elverson

To Serve the Russian Empire

This is the self-portrait of one man’s journey through life, schooled at two prestigious boarding schools in St Petersburg. He was chosen as one of two chamber pages to Princess Alix at her weding to Tsar Nicholas II. Commissioned into the elite Egersky Life Guards Regiment, he paints a vivid picture of regimental life: the officers’ mess on Ruzovskaya Street, giard duty at the Winter Palace and Anichkov Palace, the Peter and Paul Fortress and at the Tsar’s coronation in Moscow, Military manoeuvres at Krasnoe Selo, and life in fashionable St Petersburg. In 1901 he attended the General Staff Academy, graduating in 1904 with the General Leontiev Prize for his thesis on strategy. The scene changes to the Far East where, as a junior staff officer, Boris took part in the war against Japan. After Russia’s defeat, he describes his provincial posting to a divisional HQ in Kiev before being invited to teach tactics at St Petersburg’s General Staff Academy. After obtaining his professoriate, Boris’ destiny is irrevocably changed with the start of the First World War. He describes his career against the backdrop of Russia’s fortunes, from the successful Galician campaign through to the disastrous retreat and eventual stalemate after the Kerensky Offensive and the Bolshevik takeover.
694 printed pages
Original publication



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