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Messages - Daniel Briere

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Mike, thanks for posting the information I should have provided regarding the 14th King of Serbia's Olonetsky Regiment. Here are large size photos of a greatcoat pattern shoulder board from the same regiment, with the metal cypher instead of the embroidered one. As it was in my possession for a while, I mounted it on modified Soviet coat to see how it would have looked like.

The two other shoulderboards I previously posted are (No. 14) from the 8th Moskovsky Grand Duke Friedrick of Mecklemburg-Schwerin's Grenadier Regiment: although he had been chief since 1897  this "pogon" seems to be from 1904-1907 as it has an eagle button.

As for No. 13, it looks like from the Border Guards to me (8th Brigade) with faded gilding, no?

Here are some photos of genuine Imperial Russian shoulder boards for junior officers (2 « stripes » of lace instead of 3). There were some varitions in overall width and pattern of the lace: for instance the number of « checkerboard » lines varied but there design were always the same and clearly different than the Soviet one which had a wave-like design instead of the regular imperial checkerboard one. The 2 borders on each side of the strips of lace were also slightly different than the Soviet ones and were usually « raised ».

As Mike pointed out, the stamp was a giveaway, but they’re rarely visible on Imperial shoulder boards. I understand your disappointment. See it as a learning experience! We’ve all made mistakes and got caught at one point or another with fakes or replicas on our hands. The key is getting reliable information and seeing as many real items as you can (either on close-up photos from trustworthy sources or genuine pieces in museums).


mbp: How wide is your shoulder board? The Soviet ones were narrower than most of the Imperial Russian ones from Nicholas II's time ( which were approx. 65 mm wide). The shoulder board's lace pattern definitely looks Soviet to me. As for the monogram it could be real or fake (he Russians are quite good at making "repros" makes these days) but the crown should be closer to the NII. Its current location probably hides a hole where a Soviet star or other insignia probably was.

Will post photos of Imperial & Soviet pogoni (shoulder boards) and more info later.

Alexandra Feodorovna / Re: Alexandra's regiments
« on: October 10, 2012, 04:27:45 PM »
Ann : I should have mentioned that the officers’ dress shown on the bottom left of the 1910 plate was split in 2 : left : grey-blue trousers (« reituzy » / « sharovary ») worn by all cavalry officers on service order (except Cossacks); right : black hussar breeches («  tchaktchiry ») with silver zigzag braid (for officers) worn for parade dress, etc. Lower ranks didn’t have « reituzy », only « tchaktchiry » with white piping. I might add that the 5th Hussars was the only regiment with all-black uniforms. In 1914 it also got a special distinction : a « skull & crossbones » headplate on their busby instead of the standard eagle plate. See this 1914 color plate :


Here’s a photo showing the full-dress uniform of an officer (on the left, the greatcoat & headdress of a general enrolled in another of Empress Alexandra’s regiments, Her Majesty’s Guards Lancers) :

CountessKate :
Yes you are right about the photos you’ve posted, it’s the Empress in her parade uniform of her Guards’ Lancers. These photos were taken in May 1903 for the regiment’s Jubilee. To my knowledge, she never wore it afterwards.

I haven’t seen any photos of her in any of her other Russian regiments either. She had many photos taken with groups of officers from her regiments at various occasions (her birthday, regimental holiday, etc.), but she’s always wearing a dress, as seen here, in a white dress, seated in a carriage, surrounded by the officers of her Alexandrinsky Hussars:

And here, with some officers of her Krimsky Horse Regiment :

Maybe there are photos of her in uniform hidden in archives, or she didn’t like to wear them and would only do it for a regimental jubilee (which happened only once a century!) It seems to have been the case for Empress Maria Feodorovna too.

Alexandra Feodorovna / Re: Alexandra's regiments
« on: October 09, 2012, 10:25:08 PM »
Yes the parade uniforms of Her Majesty Empress Alexandra Feodorovna’s 5th Alexandrinsky Hussars were all black, as shown on this 1910 official color plate :

Although I have never seen a photo of the Empress wearing her Hussar uniform, I’m sure her skirt was black.   

Marie Feodorovna / Re: Maria Feodorovna's regiments
« on: June 06, 2012, 12:41:16 AM »
James : Empress Maria Feodorovna was indeed Colonel in Chief (the Russians say « Shef » = Chief) of 6 regiments, but not of a Life-Guard Lancer Regiment. The 2 Guards’ Lancer regiments had Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna as Chiefs.

The 6th military unit which had Empress Maria as Chief was the Guards’ Equipage (Naval Guards).

For Easter 1912 his son presented her with one of Fabergé’s famous eggs : the « Napoleonic Egg » commemorating the centenary of the Russian Victory over Napoleon. The surprise inside was a folding screen with 6 miniature paintings of men with the standards or flags from Empress Maria Feodorovna’s regiments.

For more info & photos see :

I have identified the 6 regiments depicted on Zuiev’s miniatures and added the location of the regimental headquarters (before the War) along with the date upon which the Empress was named Chief (from left to right):
H. M. The Sovereign Empress Maria Feodorovna’s Chevaliers Guards Regiment, St. Petersburg, (March 2, 1881);
H. M. The Sovereign Empress Maria Feodorovna’s Cuirassier Guards Regiment, Gatchina, (May 31, 1880);
The Guard’s Equipage, St. Petersburg, (July 22, 1892);
H. M. The Sovereign Empress Maria Feodorovna’s 2nd Pskov Leib-Dragoon Regiment, Suvalki, (May, 31, 1880);
H. M. The Sovereign Empress Maria Feodorovna’s 11th Chuguev Lancer Regiment, Dubno, (May 20, 1868);
H. M. The Sovereign Empress Maria Feodorovna’s 11th Siberian Rifle Regiment, Vladivostok, (July 22, 1907).

Empress Maria Feodorovna was patron of a large number of charitable, educational & medical institutions, most of which under the jurisdiction of His Majesty’s Own Chancery for Empress Maria’s Institutions. It’s also worth noting that the Dowager Empress remained President of the Russian Red Cross until 1917. For Easter 1915, she was presented with the « Red Cross Portraits Egg » by Nicholas II :

As for the regiments who had Nicholas II, Alexandra & Alexei as chiefs, you might want to read some of my posts regarding Nicholas II :

and Alexei :

Feel free to add or correct what I have already posted. As for Alexandra Feodorovna’s regiments, I don’t recall having posted a list yet and have seen yours. You only need to add "Her Majesty The Sovereign Empress Guards’ Lancer Regiment" of which she was named Chief on November 14, 1894.

Count Alexis Belevsky-Zhukovsky indeed joined the 3rd Sumsky Dragoon Regiment as a volunteer (on your photo he is wearing the undress uniform worn between 1897-1908). In 1904 he became aide-de-camp to Grand Duke Serge. As for his appointment as Master of the Horse, it wasn’t at Grand Duke Serge’s Court but rather at the « Highest Court » . There were some 40 masters of the Horse at the Imperial Court, most of them holding honorary positions. Master of the Horse was a 2nd rank Court appointment, equivalent to a lieutenant-general in the Army.

On your photo, these Cossacks from His Majesty’s Own Escort seem to be wearing the all-khaki uniform which was introduced in October 1915. Here is Nicholas II’s own War time cherkesska (Circassian coat). A red Cossack shirt (« beshmet ») was worn under the coat when not serving at the front :

In peace-time, the "Konvoi" Cossacks would either wear dark blue coats with red shirts, as everyday dress, or red coats with white shirts for parades and special occasions. Here is a colored print showing various uniforms for enlisted men:

Officers had more elaborate uniforms with metallic lace & accoutrements. Here are Nicholas II’s own coats. The red parade « cherkesska » is missing its epaulettes :

Tatianna, you are right, the « Zaporozhtsy » (Zaporojie Cossacks) did not serve in the Imperial Guard, and, for a long time not even in the Russian Army, at least under their name, because they had been officially disbanded in 1775 by order of Catherine the Great : « With this we would like to let our Empire and our faithful subjects be known that the Zaporozhian Sich is now destroyed and the name of Zaporozhian Cossacks is to be no more as well, mentioning of whom will be considered no less as an affront to our Imperial Majesty for their deeds and insolence for disobeying the will of our Imperial Majesty. » (see : ).

Most of them were relocated at first on the Black Sea Coast and later in the Kuban (Caucasus). By the end of the 19th century, many of their descendants served in various Caucasian Cossack regiments. In 1910 Nicholas II « disobeyed » the order of Catherine II and renamed the 3 Yeisky regiments of the Kuban Cossack Host as Zaporozhian Cossack regiments, the 1st to be known, ironically enough, as the « 1st Empress Catherine the Great’s Zaporozhian Regiment » !

In 1914, before WWI started, the Cossacks of the Russian Army were organized in the following « Hosts » (Troops) : Don, Terek & Kuban (in the Caucasus), Astrakhan, Orenburg, Ural, Siberia, Semireche, Trans-Baikal, Amur & Ussuri. But regarding the names of regiments of the Imperial Russian Army, one has to ask « What’s in a name ? » as names didn’t necessarily coincide with their actual location. For example, the Moskovsky Guards weren’t stationed in Moscow but rather in St. Petersburg, the 1st Don Cossack Regiment wasn’t in the Don but in…Moscow ; the 1st Kuban Cossack Line Regiment wasn’t in the Kuban but in Ukraine, the 1st Orenburg Cossack Regiment was in Kharkov, and the 2nd & 3rd regiments were in Warsaw, all far from Orenburg, etc. For more about the organization and location of Cossack regiments in 1914 (peace-time order of battle) see :

For an overview of Cossacks in the Russian Army see :

Good luck with your research !

Nicholas II / Re: Nicky in the Preobrajensky guard
« on: March 22, 2012, 09:31:02 AM »
OK folks….time for my Russian lesson : Sunny & Robert : you are partially right about pronunciation of
« Преображенский » but as you can see, there is a « ж », hence it should be pronounced somewhat as pre-oh-bra-ZHEN-ski (stressed syllable in bold). I found an online Russian pronunciation of it : last word, bottom of the page:

Hope it helps!

Nicholas II / Re: Nicky in the Preobrajensky guard
« on: March 20, 2012, 12:55:19 PM »
Sunny : you are right about the music: the 1st piece played, when Alexander III arrives on horseback, is part of the Preobrazhensky March. But the cadets have nothing to do with the regiment : they are from the Moscow Alexander Military School. The scene depicts a fictional scene of their graduation at the Kremlin in 1885 from the Russian film « The Barber of Siberia ».

Ann : I agree with you, The Royal Marines play it the old way, as it was before the Revolution. The Soviets, and most Russian bands play it faster, as it was in Peter the Great’s time apparently. Here’s a rendition of what it sounded like during the reign of Nicholas II:

Today it seems the March is used by the Russian Army during the Changing of the Guard, at least in St. Petersburg’s Peter and Paul Fortress a few meters only away from Peter the Great’s tomb. I’m sure it’s "music to his ears », and to Nicholas II’s too, although they probably wouldn’t like the new/old Soviet/Russian anthem much..:

Nicholas II / Re: Nicky in the Preobrajensky guard
« on: March 19, 2012, 11:34:59 PM »
Thanks mate!

It is quite interesting indeed to learn how a bunch of lads playing war games came to be the senior regiment of the Imperial Russian Army. A word about its regimental march in modern times : as Peter the Great was the only tsar viewed favourably by Soviet historians (for being a reformer and a modernizer) the Preobrazhensky regimental march was performed at concerts given by Soviet military orchestras and now is officially played by the Russian Army as a ceremonial march. Worth noting too that, thanks to Lord Mountbatten, it was adopted by the British Royal Marines as its slow march in 1964.

Hello Tatianna,

Welcome to this site! I am not surprised by the fact your family didn’t speak Ukrainian. Although your great-grand-father has a Ukrainian sounding name (Худобенко – Khudobenko/Hudobenko) it doesn't mean he was born in Little Russia (as «Ukraine» was known before the Revolution): by the mid 1910s more than a million and a half Ethnic Ukrainians had emigrated as far as Russian Central Asia and Siberia.

As for his military service, the only regiment’s name sounding like « Amazanke » Cossacks I can think of would be either the Astrakhansky Cossacks or, more likely, the Atamansky Guards’ Cossacks.

The Astrakhansky Cossacks provided a platoon to the 3rd « sotnia » (squadron) of Combined-Cossack Guards Regiment which was based in Pavlovsk. The regiment was established in 1906.

The Atamansky Guard Cossacks were from the Don. Since 1827, their honorary chief was the Ataman (Hetman) of all Cossack Troops and Heir to the Throne. The regiment became part of the Imperial Russian Army Life-Guards in 1859 with the name of His Imperial Highness the Heir Tsesarevich’s Atamansky Guards Regiment. Tsarevich Alexis became its last honorary chief on the day he was born.

By tradition, the regiment recruted most of its men from Ust Medveditsky in the Don region and they had to be blond with beards. Interestingly enough, this area was just East of the Kharkhov Province (Kharkiv in modern Ukraine). This regiment was headquartered in St. Petersburg and did no guard duty in Tsarskoe Selo, although, along with the other Guards' regiments based in the capital , they did some sentry duty at the Winter Palace, other palaces and governement buildings located in St. Petersburg . For instance here you’ll see a watercolor by Hau showing a detachment of another Guards Cossack regiment (His Majesty’s Guards Cossacks)  standing guard in the Winter Palace’s Great Field-Marshals Hall in 1866:Файл:Cossack_of_Life_Guards_Cossacks_Regiment_By_Hau.jpg

As I have written in an earlier post, the only military unit which provided « personal guards » to members of the Imperial Family were Cossacks from His Majesty’s Own Escort (who were Cossacks from the Kuban & the Terek). Although they might be on duty at imperial & grand-ducal palaces, men from the other Guards’ units were not considered as bodyguards. Yes records regarding guards in imperial palaces were kept but, to my knowledge, they would only mention which regiment provided the sentries (and when) but not a list of men detailed for the task. This information might be found in regimental archives though but one would need to know to which regiment your ancestor belonged before starting any search. Mike has good contacts and might be able to find Mefody Hudobenko’s military record but, without it, I’m afraid you might never find out if the family history is a legend or a fact.

Hope it helps!

Nicholas II / Re: Nicky in the Preobrajensky guard
« on: March 11, 2012, 04:32:05 PM »
He began his military service as  Second-Lieutenant in the 1st « His Majesty’s » Company on June 23, 1887 (Old Style) and was promoted to the rank of Staff-Captain on August 30. He remained on active duty in the Regiment for 2 years before joining units from the Guards’ Cavalry & Horse Artillery to complete his military training.

He remained on the rolls of the Preobrazhensky Guards and went back to active duty in the Regiment on January 1st, 1893 to take command of the 1st Battalion as a Colonel, the rank he had when he became emperor and which he kept for the rest of his life. In December 1894, Nicholas II established a « Badge for Service in the 1st Battalion of the Guards’ Preobrazhensky Regiment » (with the dates January 1, 1893-October 20, 1894), which was awarded to all officers & men who had served under his command.

As General Spiridovich recalls in his memoirs, in June 1912 the 25th anniversary of the beginning of Nicholas' service in the Regiment was celebrated at Peterhof. A parade was held and, to the Regimental Commanding Officer’s dismay, Nicholas II insisted to march in the parade at the head of « his » battalion, behind the C.O., which he did twice, giving a military salute to the Empresses when he marched by them.

After a luncheon with the officers of the Regiment, while holding the hand of young Tsarevich Alexis – who was wearing the uniform of the Regiment for the first time - he told them the day he had joined the ranks of the Regiment had been the happiest of his life and that he hoped he would live long enough to see the day his son would join the ranks of the Guards’ Preobrazhensky Regiment too. This day never came…

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