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Messages - griffh

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This is mostly from the Book "The Russian Military Air Fleet in WW I Augie Blume
Order of battle KAOs  August 1914 North West Front
Russian 1st Army 2,3,4,10 KAO
Russian 2nd Army 1,13,15,21,23
In the battle of Tannenburg where the Russian 2nd army was defeated the 13 KAO lost most of its equipment in the retreat the other KAOs also lost some of their equipment. The Germans reported that the Russians rarely flew beyond the Russian front line and their commanders if they got a report from their airmen didn't believe them! I also heard from a friend that the Russian XV corps commander while he complained bitterly about german aircraft flying over his command in a post WW I interview didn't order the 15th KAO under his command to fly a single recon mission! The Russians did have a few aircraft lost or damaged during this battle:
26 August 15 KAO one aircraft shot down by it own sides ground fire the crew survivied but was taken prisoner when the XV corps was encircled and captured.
27 August 13 KAO one aircraft MIA
28 August 15 KAO one aircraft lost engine trouble
29 August 21 KAO one pilot wounded by ground fire plane damaged but the pilot was able to land the plane

I hope this is of some use or interest.

James, thanks so much for your post about the details of the Russian air force at the battle of Tannenburg. I always have to translate dates into old style dates, which would have been 13-16 August 1914.

I know you have told me already, but what would you estimate the time of departure of the Tsarevich Alexei Hospital train from the Tannenburg battle? 

I know the exact time the hospital arrived at Petrograd's military processing station on 17/30 August, but after processing I do know it was halted by the Empress at the Tsarskoe Selo train station late that same night. 

I must apologize for the lengthy silence, but I was busy gathering illustrations for article #4 and making last minute changes before sending off the article to Ted and Charlotte.

In terms of article #3 which as we all know, was hard to write because of my concern that my research on the Dowager Empress obstruction of the Empress's humanitarian hopes and desires would sound like condemnation. Instead, I was hoping that the research would show the complex human nature of Maria Feodorovna.

So one can imagine how grateful I was when I received this review of article #3 written by a Russian history scholar:

"...until I read it yesterday, I really had no idea at all that Maria Feodorovna had indulged in such cronyism and corruption or that she consistently blocked Alexandra's attempts to work with the Russian Red Cross! Rather shocking. I like the fact that you included so many quotes from contemporaries who knew Alexandra and testified to her reasonableness and administrative abilities. You have really shed an important new light on her character as a human being as well as an empress.

It's marvelous that you are turning these articles and your research into a book. Obviously this is a labor of love and it shows in your meticulous attention to detail and also your evenhandedness, which is so praiseworthy. Unfortunately as you know many biographies of royalty too often turn into an apologia for their subject and exercises in vilification against all their critics. But you have managed to avoid this pitfall. MF comes across as every bit as complicated an individual as her daughter-in-law!"

I hope that this does not sound as if I am involved in self-promotion, because I have shared it out of a sense of relief, that the negative view of MF is balanced by her strengths and that I did not end up vilifying her.
And honestly I have to say that I do not know what I would do without my own brilliant expert editors who will remain anonymous.

I wish I had more to report but I am so caught up the research and writing of my last article #5, that I can't really concentrate on much else.


Again, just we are clear the photos above are of Alexandra's 1904 state-of-the-art Hospital train. 

I wonder whether the charming canopy on board the supply train was for Alexandra when she paid a visit to the train.


You know Ann, I was wondering the same thing. It also occurred to me that it might have been her early attempt, before she introduced her detachable field church carriages, to provide officer's and enlisted men with church services.

Just to answer your earlier question Ann as to the rapid introduction of her first three hospital trains. She financed them herself and they were a bit more standard than later when she upgraded them. I believe she purchased standard Pullman cars from Trepov, who was then head of the Communications Ministry. But I will have to double check my references.  As you can see from the later introduction of her Bath Train, these later trains were very fine, as were her later hospital trains.  

And of course she had a great deal of first hand experience to draw upon, having introduced her state-of-the-art Russo-Japanese war hospital train which the NY Times described as the finest rolling hospital in the world.

Here is just a small sampling of the train's carriages: the hospital beds, reading room, what I think might be an X-ray room, and the train's mechanical room.  


Perhaps it belongs in this thread since its about Alexandra and her charity work during the war.

"The Complete Wartime Correspondence" P. 241 -

Sept. 16th 1915, Tsarskoe Selo:
"I am choosing photos I made, so as to have an album printed for Xmas (like A.{unt} Alex's<) for charity, & I think it will sell well, as the small albums with my photos sold at once here this summer -& in the Crimea."

I didn't know Alexandra did something like this. Does anybody know anything about this charity album?

That is a great question Maria Sisi! I have not come across the photo albums either. I hope someone will know something about them.

errata: sklad not skald. 


Here are two photos of one of Alexandra's five supply trains being loaded with supplies from her skalds at Petrograd's Nicholas station.

You can see the enormous stacks of supplies in the background of the first photograph.  It is also important to note that when Alix found out the the costs of running her trains did not include funds for priests, she paid for them herself, but I had no idea until I saw the first photo that she staffed her supply trains with a priest as well.   

I am not sure what the charming canopy was for but one gets a good sense of how long her supply trains were from this photograph.

I forgot to add that my third article chronicles the national and international acclaim Alexanda's war relief work earned her by the Spring of 1915. 

The notion that she achieved any degree of popularity during the war is generally discredited by scholars and historians.

Research of Petrograd's leading magazines and newspapers as well as research of the Allied and Neutral press archives reveals that Alexandra's name had become as iconic by 1915 as that of Queen Elizabeth of Belgium and Mme. Henriette Poincare. 

Empress Alexandra

Queen Elizabeth of Belgium

Madame Henriette Poincare 

Just to say Ted just posted the cover of the Sept. 2014 Royalty Digest Quarterly and my third article made it on the cover.

I believe it will take another couple of weeks before the magazine makes it on the book stands.

This article contains material, for the first time in print, of Alexandra's part in the founding of Mayak (Lighthouse) the Russian YMCA, her initial audience with YMCA official James Stokes in 1898, her invitation for Miss Annie M. Reynolds, General Secretary of the World’s [YWCA] Association, to come to Russia and determine if Russia would accept the establishment of a non-denominational society for the betterment of the nation's youth. 

My research began with a little book I found in my library, written in the beginning years of WWII about the YMCA's history in Russia. That lead me to do an on-line search for individuals connected with the establishment of the YMCA in Russia in March 1900, which in turn lead me to the archivists at Smith College (YWCA archives) and archivist's at the U of Minnesota's YMCA archive: where, as I have shared before, the boxes of material I was looking for were so remotely buried in the massive archives that the curators had to employ a forklift to them off the shelves...which pictured to me, shades of the vast secret government archives in "Indiana Jones."     

Just to say about my article.  It ended up beginning with a review of Alix's early humanitarian accomplishments against a background of her struggles with the Dowager Empress who would not allow her to find expression in the government funded institutes she was Patroness of, which turned out to be such a personal loss for Alix, as well as a lost opportunity to improve the conditions for generations of the Russian people.

I have tried my best to show respect for the Dowager Empress in this article which, at same time I have had to reveal the negative impact Maria Feodorovna had by seriously thwarting Alexandra's humanitarian impulse and efforts.

Yet I have worked hard to show that this was not spite, but matter a of the way the worldly Dow Emp viewed her role as a Patroness and how widely it differed from her daughter-in-law's, making communication and cooperation with each other impossible.

This back story is so important for us to fully understand, as politician's would polarize their inherent differences against each other.   

errata: sitting with Rasputin in their own home in October 1906.

Sorry I dropped off the grid for a bit.

But I have been waiting for the publication proof of my third article for the Sept. 2014 RDQ and it is a bit like looking at a pot and waiting for it to boil.

I have been working on my fourth article which, like all my articles seems to have a mind of its own.

I have noticed that each of my articles begin with the opening of war and have realized how many issues were involved in those opening months of war.

The thing I am so grateful for is how the articles order the material, which I can then re-order in my manuscript.

As I shared on my FB page I have begun to realize when I think about a certain time in Alix's life, it is seldom about her personal details.

For instance. Take the five years between 1901-1906.

When I think of Alix during this period, my first thoughts are not about Dr. Philippe, the birth of Alexei, the end of the Russo-Japanese war and the revolution of 1905, the first appearance of Rasputin, or the introduction of Duma (1906).

Instead, I find myself thinking of Alexandra's accomplishments during the Russo-Japanese war (1904-1905) and the culmination of three of her early humanitarian accomplishments.

The opening in 1905 of her Pediatric Institute which she had been working with Dr. Rauchfuss on since 1903;

The opening in 1906 of her Orthopedic Institute which she had been working on with Dr. Horn since 1901;

And the opening in 1906 of her Veterans Home which she had been working on since 1904.

So when I am reading about Alexandra sitting at tea in Militza's home and listening to Rasputin, in November 1906, I am thinking about all she had just accomplished and it gives a greater context to her approbation of Rasputin's lay teaching to Nicholas during that period which focused on the importance of thinking with the heart, not the head.

And I suppose it is the absence of her early accomplishments in biographies that makes a discussion about her character so difficult as the evidence of her active mind and humanitarian motivation is missing and we therefore tend to think of her sitting at tea at Militiza's listening to Rasputin, without anything more on her mind.

Just wanted to say that I find this thread fascinating. And while I can understand a certain level of discomfort for you Griffh when having an open disagreement with someone about a particular fact or source, I must say it makes for very entertaining and educational reading for the rest of us. Like a good mannered debate between experts that we all benefit from.

I'm looking forward to reading the final product as well. Like Ann I too float somewhere in the middle with Alexandra. The history lover in me holds a somewhat negative view of her whereas the Romanov devotee in me gives her decidedly more positive marks. Bottom line is that I've always wanted an excuse to like her more, and your superb analysis of her war work certainly helps with that, while managing to remain honest and unbiased. Keep up the good work!

Dear edubs31,

How kind and generous of you, given my severe bout with wounded self-importance, which was a hindrance to our discourse.

Just to say, I am so grateful for James's contributions and expertise and Ann as well. 

And I feel that your and Ann's remarks have really defined the dynamic of our debate, as well as the parameters of this especially contentious subject.

One of the things that caught my attention several years ago was Janet Ashton her article, The reign of the Empress? – a re-evaluation of the war-time political role of Alexandra Feodorovna, in which she owes the real tragedy of the last 18 months of the dynasty to fact that both that the Tsar, Empress, Duma, Zemgor, and government (given very different perspectives) were working for the same goal--an Allied victory.

Janet reveals how educated Russia refused credit the Empress's patriotism, and sorts out accusations of Alix's political interference, i.e. saving Protoppov, from a very different perspective that the notions we are so familiar with and which dominated so many sources on the revolution.   

Another revisionist source that is invaluable in gaining a clearer perspective for me was Margarita Nelipa's book on Rasputin. She revealed that is was the conviction that the Empress was secretly negotiating a separate peace with Germany through Rasputin's supposed German connections, in order to gain German support to destroy the Duma and restore the autocracy, that had gown with such certainty (nationally and international) by November 1916, that the head of the Progressive Blok, Paul Miliukov, could craftily denounce the Empress as a traitor in the Duma, without fear of retribution.

Additionally, given the fact that after Rasputin's murder, the rumor that the Empress was secretly negotiating a separate peace with Germany persisted and grew stronger, I have often wondered who suffered most from their connection to the other, Alix or Rasputin?


Dear James,

How wonderful to have known some of these men and thank you so much for your evaluation of their sites!!!

There is such a wealth of information on the internet, but ones needs to know where to look.

When I found Ted Rowe's site on the Willy-Niky telegrams with all the times, etc, I was then able to reason my way through the timing of the events of the that last week of negotiations and place Alix's concerns and actions in the proper context. 

By using the chronological order of telegrams (even though several overlapped) I then had a reliable base to start adding material to a chronology of events which included the Tsar's diary, Spiridovich, Sazonov, Buxhoeveden, Vyrubova, Petra's book of Correspondence, Paléologue, Hanbury-Williams, Gillard, the German White book, the Russian Orange Book, and GARF archival material.

By sorting through all the contradictions, false memories, incorrect dates (all the typical stuff of researching second sources), the chronology began to revealed new insights into Alexandra's response to the war, her immediate actions to jump-start her war relief, and her active participation in cyphering the telegrams, and the evolution of her feelings about the war.

James, thanks to you, I now have a strong base to build on, in order to research the specific battles on the Eastern Front where Alix's hospital and supply trains were actively supplying help, an area of research that has been buried.

If it is agreeable with you, I will ask James Libbey if I can send you his email, as I know you would both enjoy each other as equal experts on Russian aviation.




See: for the order of battle information which is 99.99% accurate

Hey James, guess what!  I looked up and found that it is the same site I just mentioned finding as Mark Conrad's Home page so I feel really secure, now that I have a James A Pratt 99.99% research approved site to utilize.  

It is the same joy I experienced when I found the Carnegie site for the Willy-Niky telegrams which had etails that no other website had.

Thanks again for everything.  


Many thanks for this.

Alexandra is someone who attracts very polarised views. I think the majority of us on this forum are somewhere in the middle. as you well know, I am not one of her admirers, but your researches have revealed a side to her that I did not know existed - her organising ability in getting those trains into service very quickly indeed.


Dear Ann, thank you so much for your kind words and intelligent analysis of where the majority of the forum stands.

I think that your observations are spot-on.


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