Skoblin's History Blog

This blog is composed of articles and translations written by Skoblin pertaining to the Soviet Security forces, White Russian underground movements and Russian counter-revolutionary forces during the 1920s and 1930s. Skoblin can be reached at

Sunday, February 22, 2009

General Kutepov: A Collection of Essays (IV)

from General Kutepov, Part II, pp. 200-208
A. P. Kutepov in the Lifeguard Preobrazhenskii Regiment
Colonel Malevskii-Malevich

Upon graduating from the Lyceum in the spring of 1912, I submitted my application for enrollment in the Lifeguard Preobrazhenskii regiment for my compulsory military service and in the fall of the same year I entered the 14th company of His Imperial Highness (Prince Aleksandr Petrovich Ol'denburgskii) with inclusion in the Instructional Detachment in order to take the non-commissioned officer's course. The head of the Detachment at that time was Senior Captain Aleksandr Pavlovich Kutepov.
The impressions from my first day in the regiment have remained with me my entire life. They had assembled us educational volunteers into one of the Instructional classes, where A. P. Kutepov, speaking with concise, distinct and heartfelt expressions, congratulated us on having entered Tsarist service and explained the significance of this step for us. His words concerning the meaning of the word "soldier" have been deeply ingrained in my mind. "The sacred calling of a soldier is to serve one's Sovereign and Fatherland in faith and truth, to be a fighter for Faith and glory, a defender of justice and honour, to be a Christian soldier, in the full meaning of the word." With these brief words, Aleksandr Pavolovich welcomed us into the regiment.
During the several months I spent in the Instructional Detachment, I not only learned a deep respect for my commander, but also sincerely admired him. Always even tempered, strict without being reproachful, attentive and warmly responsive to the needs of all of his subordinates, he could not fail to produce the deepest of impressions on them through his impeccable knowledge of military affairs, exceptional clarity, and interesting and intelligible commentary on both theory and practice. Better than anyone, Kutepov would make a display of teaching. Moreover, being a veteran of the Japanese war (in the 85th Viborgskii regiment), A. P. impressed us with his combat experience, and his examples drawn from personal involvement served as a dynamic illustration regarding the study of Field Regulations.
What most clearly impressed the minds of his subordinates was that A. P. would do everything that he himself demanded from us, whether it was the most difficult gymnastic exercises or rifle maintenance, long-distance firing, or hand-to hand combat with rifles. This quality could not fail to make a great impression on the lower ranks, who had recently arrived from the countryside and who instinctively viewed an officer as being a "gentleman" or a "shirker". A. P. presented himself as an example of a Russian officer in the best meaning of the word, and this explains the mood of joyful, friendly and comradely competition, which held sway in the Detachment and made it a model within the entire Guard both in regards outward bearing as well as in the development of personal abilities, efficiency and high levels of military knowledge among its pupils.
When, upon graduating from the Detachment, I submitted my application and was accepted into the regiment, A. P. provided me significant assistance in preparation for the officer's examination, especially with tactical exercises, where he repeatedly reviewed and corrected my decisions. His ability to present these exercises in their simplest and most understandable aspect was for me an enormous help, not only during the examinations, but also afterward, during the war, when I commanded His Imperial Highness' 13th and 14th companies in 1914 and 1915.
On 6 August 1913, the day of the regimental fete at the Imperial review, I was promoted to the rank of second lieutenant and one of the first to embrace and congratulate me was Kutepov. His greeting was something exceptionally joyful for me. I was proud to wear the uniform of the oldest Russian regiment and gratified that I, a pupil of A. P., did not make a 'mess of things': the only prescribed expression he would employ towards pupils of his who were at fault.
Then came the summer of 1914. On 19 July (August 1) 1914, Russia accepted the challenge from Austro-Hungary and Germany.
According to the mobilization regulations, the Head of the Instructional Detachment was to remain in St. Petersburg as the commander of the reserve battalion. But as respectable was the activity of those who readied soldiers in the rear, each of us clearly dreamed about taking to the field with the regiment. Dismissing the thought that he could remain in the rear, A. P. immediately made a corresponding petition to the commander of the regiment and was appointed the commander of the 4th company. Leading this company in an encounter with the Austrians near the village of Vladislavov on 20 August 1914, the enemy was overrun in hand to hand fighting and A. P. was seriously wounded. Having barely recovered from these wounds, A. P. returned to active service and once again took command of the 4th company, leading it in the Lomzhin and Kholm operations in the spring and summer of 1915. During the latter operation A. P. was seriously wounded a second time.
In 1916, A. P. was appointed commander of the 2nd battalion and promoted to colonel.
1916 was the year which saw the spirit of the Russian army restored. The heaving fighting in the fall of 1915, when the depletion of ammunition, rifles and ordnance allowed the Germans to push our front back beyond the borders of Tsarist Poland, up to the Dvina and Bug rivers, could not but have a depressive influence on the military. Indeed, it was no longer the same military as before; a large number of the officers and soldiers, trained during peacetime, had fallen on the field of battle or been discharged from the service, and the hastily conscripted replacements, no less valorous in spirit than their predecessors, possessed neither the same training nor the same endurance as the soldiers of 1914. Thus the tasks of the commanders became all the more difficult and crucial. In this regard, A. P. displayed his exceptional ability to rally his subordinates and rouse their collective spirit and morale. This was especially noticeable during the heavy fighting in the summer of 1916.
At the beginning of July 1916, the Guard, transferred from the Supreme Command reserve at placed at the disposal of Adjutant-General Brusilov, was sent to the front on the Stokhod river. The positions occupied by the enemy on the western bank of the river were continuous and reinforced by strong bridgeheads on the open and marshy eastern bank. The Stokhod marshes were no less than half a verst in width in the Guards' sector and on the left flank (in the sector of the 3rd Guards infantry division) reached up to the same distance.
On July 15, the regiment was assigned the task of attacking the bridgehead at the village of Raimesto, which it managed to capture by the evening of the 15th with heavy losses due to the absolutely open terrain and the impossibility of digging in the marsh: the ranks sank knee-deep in the bog. Prisoners were taken along with machine guns and two cannon.
The 2nd battalion distinguished itself during the attack on the southern outskirts of the village, which it held despite determined attempts by the enemy to drive from off.
An especially splendid battle was fought by the 2nd battalion under the command of A. P. in capturing the forest near Svinyukhin on 7 September 1916.
On this day, the regiment was located in the corps reserve, behind the right flank of the division. The first line consisted of the Life-Guard Semenovskii and Life-Guard Izmailovskii regiments. The Life-Guard
Jägerskii regiment was located in the devisional reserve and occupied a position behind the Life-Guard Izmailovskii regiment.
After a heavy artillery bombardment, which lasted the entire day of September 6th until the morning of the 7th, the Semenovtsi and the Izmailovtsi launched their attack at 5 am on the 7th. They pushed the enemy back from several reinforced lines and occupied in turn the "pear-shaped" height (an enemy strong point) and then part of the forest near Svinyukhin and trenches west of Korytnitsa. However, the right flank of the Semenovtsi lacked support from neighbouring units and what is more, a significant breach had opened up between them and the Izmailovtsi. The enemy attempted to restore the situation with two vigorous counter-attacks: one from north from behind the Kukhar forest on the right flank of the Semenovtsi, the other from the south on the left flank of the Izmailovtsi.
The attack upon the Semenovtsi was turned back by their own reserves and by the advance of the 1st and 3rd battalions which lay in echelon behind their right flank. In eliminating the southern counter-attack, the entire Life-Guard
Jägerskii regiment was employed, which saw both the Izmailovtsi and the Jägers moving towards the southern edges of the forest near Svinyukhin. At this time, a third German counter-attack took along the northern edge of this forest, against the flank and rear of the Izmailovtsi and the Jägers.
Our remaining reserves in this sector comprised two battalions - the 2nd and the 4th. The latter, which had taken part in attacks on the front line on September 3rd, consisted of hardly more than 400 men. The 2nd battalion was given the order to eliminate the German offensive.
During all my years in the war, I never saw anything similar to the advance of the 2nd battalion and its headlong attack, which swept the German lines before it. As soon as its foremost ranks appeared on the horizon, the enemy opened up a barrage of defensive fire from 5 heavy and numerous light batteries. The lines moved forward like an avalanche, the ranks neither halting nor wavering under the fire of the artillery. Witnessed from the command post, the battalion "navigated" their way through the enemy fire, as if they were "on maneuvers." Under the skillful and intrepid leadership of A. P., who marched amid the linked formations, the battalion covered a distance of one verst between its starting positions and the foremost lines, without incurring any significant loss.
With the German lines advancing into the gap between the "pear-shaped" height and the Sinyukhin forest, the distance between them and the 2nd battalion quickly diminished and the enemy fire slackened and then abated, when the companies of the 2nd battalion fell upon the German flank with a cry of urrah! The attack was so swift and unexpected, that almost no resistance was rendered, and the Germans streamed back, leaving numerous prisoners and machine guns in our hands. The entire sector from the "pear-shaped" height to the western edges of the Svinyukhin forest fell into our hands.
Following upon this success, A. P. dislodged the remnants of the enemy forces from this forest and completed the breakthrough of the enemy front.
By order of the Corps commandant, A. P. was appointed commander of the entire forest sector with all units located therein being subordinated to him. Having brought together the separate companies of Izmailovtsi and
Jägers, A. P. immediately set about securing the forest behind us and continued to clear the approaches to the Bug river with strong reconnaissance parties. Reconnaissance discovered no enemy forces, but did capture many prisoners from dispersed German units.
The impression this battle made upon the enemy may be judged by the fact that by evening the bridges over the Bug river had been blown up, warehouses set ablaze and stockpiles of ammunition set off. Our aerial reconnaissance disclosed that enemy transports were hurriedly retreating to the west.
Unfortunately, the victory gained by the 1st Guards infantry division, crowned so brilliantly by the 2nd battalion under A. P. Kutepov, was not exploited by the Army Command. By the evening of the 7th, our 4th battalion had been sent to assist the 2nd battalion in the Svinyukhin forest, after which the entire Corps reserves had been exhausted. Ony by evening of the following day did the 10th Siberian division appear and relieve the units in the forest under Kutepov's command. Only on September 7th [sic - 9th] was the offensive renewed in this sector. During those 48 hours, the enemy managed to bring up reserves (2 German divisions, according to reports from our aerial reconnaissance) and organize a defense. Except for the capture of several strong points, our attack on the 9th was a failure. For the battle on September 7, A. P. was awarded with the St. George's Weapon. He had already received the St. George's Cross for fighting on 27 July 1915 at the village of Petrilov (Kholm operation), in which he was seriously wounded while leading his men in a counter-attack.

The Revolution of 1917 found the regiment occupying positions in Volhynsk province (Kovel' offensive). The fateful disintegration of the army began only slowly, penetrating from the rear into the front line troops, and with no little assistance exerted by revolutionaries and traitors, who desired to shake the stability, loyalty and discipline of the Preobrazhentsi. Disintegration only touched upon our regiment in July, when four reinforcement companies consisting almost exclusively of workers and men unfit for service, and imbued with "revolutionary" propaganda, were sent to the regiment on orders from the Soviet of Workers' Deputies. These regiments had their own well-organized propaganda staff ruled by the Bolshevik Chudnovskii (subsequently Military Commissar in the Bolshevik Government).
On 2 April 1917, A. P. Kutepov was appointed commander of the regiment after His Imperial Highness Major-General Drentel'n was transferred to the reserves. This appointment, which had been dreamed about by all the officers, was far from easy under the revolutionary circumstances. Kutepov's devotion to both the Sovereign and the Monarchy was well-known by all. Moreover, during the February days in Petersburg, A. P. had taken part in street fighting against the revolutionaries and was on the few who remained calm and carried out his responsibilities up to the end. Kutepov's loyalty to the "revolutionary" court was even questioned in the Soviet of Workers' Deputies as an "enemy of the people".
Further, the new company, battalion and regimental soldiers' councils, introduced as a result of the weakness of the Provisional Government, although limited on paper to the discussion of administrative and internal matters, in practice interfered in everything. Led by Chudnovskii, these councils resulted in an endless number of incidents and altercations, and undermined military discipline. An especially heavy blow was dealt to discipline - or the remnants thereof - by the visit of A. P. Kerenskii to the front, when an inspection by the War Minister turned into an undisciplined and unruly mass meeting. It seems to me, that Kerenskii was unaware of the harm which his front line meetings had caused. In his person, authority seemed both pathetic and insignificant. The Red commanders, despite all of their revolutionary ardour, splendidly took this into account and quickly and decisively put an end to the disordered military meetings, which they considered a legacy of the "bourgeois revolution" and which were intolerable in the most democratic army.

One should also mention that thinly veiled mistrust on the part of the Provisional Government towards the officer corps, not reckoning on the latter's undoubted patriotism and loyalty to the Fatherland on the one hand, nor the demoralizing impression this made on the bulk of the army on the other. It often appeared even among the older commanders, who either candidly or through adaptation towards the new trends, ruined the trust of the soldiers toward the front line officers.

These were the circumstances under which A. P Kutepov happened to take command of the regiment... Yet, despite everything, his charisma, example, courage and loyalty performed miracles. During the shameful days of the Tarnopol' breakthrough, which immediately followed upon the 'Kerenskii offensive,' at least one of Peter the Great's old brigades - the Life-Guard regiments Preobrazhenskii and Semenovskii and the 1st Guards artillery brigade - failed to dishonour the Russian flag.
Stubbornly defending its positions step by step, the brigade fell back under enemy pressure, without the support of the other elements of the XIth Army, which had lost the both the spirit and the appearance of being soldiers.
During these days of July 1917, A. P. Kutepov rose to the challenge. With profound anguish in his heart, and burning with anger against the cowards and traitors who had destroyed Russia, he presented to all an example of a Russian soldier, who is not afraid of death and who, in the moment of despair, achieves the highest level of spiritual effort.
One cannot describe in a short article everything that we experienced during those days. As part of the brigade, the regiment fell back amidst a sea of depraved soldiers, who plundered their own rear, who fled at the slightest sign of the enemy or even upon the sound of artillery fire, who murdered their own officers, and tossed the wounded out from the ambulances and the trains in order to hasten their escape. All efforts to suppress this on the part of the cavalry and several shock units were to no avail, and how our brigade, maintaining contact with the enemy every day, emerged from this hell, I believe no one now would be able to explain.
In this operation we lost more than 1000 guns and two billion roubles of military equipment. Not surprising, the number of prisoners taken was not comparatively great, so quickly did they retreat, that they abandoned the soldiers who had been "liberated from the yoke of Autocracy".
The further history of A. P. Kutepov's command of the regiment presents little of military interest. Slowly but surely, despite belated measures on the part of the Provisional Government to restore discipline in the forces, the last remnants of the appearance and spirit of an army were lost. The Bolshevik revolution found the regiment manning a picket position west of Volochiska and made no immediate impression. It was only dimly understood and disorder in the rear no longer surprised anyone. The general mood became hopeless. Interestingly enough, when an order finally arrived from the Bolshevik War Minister through the Revolutionary Military Council on 1 December 1917 to conduct a vote "for or against" the Soviet Government, the regiment declared itself "neutral"...
"Swine to a man," remarked one of the older reservists of the regimental committee, "all the more quicker we're allowed to go home." This phrase could sum up the entire mentality of the mass of soldiers....
After this, the order arrived regarding the removal of rank insignia and the election of commanders. Kutepov, "rejected" by the regimental committee, left for the Don.
I will not describe A. P. Kutepov's subsequent activity in Southern Russia or after emigration, as we met only occasionally after 1917. But faithful until death, I will preserve the memory of Alexander Pavlovich: a fair and fearless Russian soldier in the best meaning of the word, chivalrous without fear and reproach, and a warmly loved friend, mentor and commander.

Colonel Malevskii-Malevich

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

General Kutepov: A Collection of Essays (III)

from General Kutepov, Part II, pp. 191-200
The Preobrazhenskii Lifeguard Regiment

General Kutepov,
According to the reminiscences of his friend and comrade
in the Preobrazhenskii Lifeguard Regiment
former aide-de-camp E. I. V (His Imperial Majesty)
Colonel V. V. Svechin

The White movement raised Kutepov to prominence. Afterward came Gallipoli and then Paris.
Everywhere he would perform a crucially important deed, but then came 26 January 1930 and everything unexpectedly ended... At the same time, the name of General Kutepov, who had always shunned notoriety, at once becomes famous - he becomes a martyr for the holy idea of Russia. His name is repeated not only by Russians, but also by foreigners, and his moral authority grows.
Four years passes by, but the name of Kutepov sounds louder than ever, and the more so the further we depart from that fateful day of 26 January 1930, the more so everyone repeats with great respect this hallowed name of the great fighter for the motherland, the more popular it becomes, gradually transforming itself into a symbol of sacrificial patriotism, becoming the slogan for the uncompromising struggle for the salvation, happiness and greatness of Russia.

I first met Kutepov in the fall of 1906, when he had been transferred to the Lifeguard Preobrazhenskii regiment from the 85th Viborgskii Infantry regiment.
Having arrived at the barracks on Million street, he appeared in the Chancellery, in order to present himself to me as regimental adjutant, prior to going to the regimental commander.
I knew, that the officer we had expected from the Vyborgskii regiment was no ordinary officer. The attestation from the regimental commander, Major-General Zaionchkovskii, readily confirmed this. Besides the usual official expressions - outstanding and so on, this time there were other ones as well, from which it was possible to form a more detailed portrait concerning the achievements of this officer.
Under such conditions, I was naturally well-disposed towards him, nevertheless he made an exceptional impression upon me.
Not overly tall, thickset, bedecked with military decorations, he presented himself to me with irreproachable military bearing and discipline. Displaying proper respect for his superior in rank, age and position, he at the same time behaved with the greatest dignity, conveying not the slightest trace of that flattery or servility, which I always found offensive. What is more, he always looked me directly in the eye.
There could be no doubts - before me stood a true officer, meaning by this an officer-knight, incapable of degrading himself before anyone, and capable of heroic deeds in the name of duty.
Moreover, I saw that I was dealing with a man honourable to the very core, for whom the word was not separate from the deed.
Having wished him good luck and success, I directed him to the commander of the regiment, whom I notified at the same time by telephone.
"How do you find him?," asked me Colonel V. M. Dragomirov. I answered: "He is undoubtedly an asset for the regiment. I have the very best impression of him. Kutepov is an officer in the best sense of the word, someone that can be relied upon. I believe people would follow him in both peace and war, regardless of where he were to lead them. And in the present time, this is especially important and necessary."
I am proud of this response, which I gave in 1906. Everything subsequent to this has done nothing but validate it. In the regiment during peacetime and war, during the revolutionary days in Petrograd and during the days in command of the Lifeguard Preobrazhenskii regiment, and subsequently in the time of struggle against the Reds in southern Russia, Kutepov was at all times constantly imbued with the great spirit of a soldier, behind whom people followed everywhere without hesitation.
I do not remember in which companies he passed his service during his first years in the regiment. Apparently he was quickly assigned to the post of assistant to the chief of the Instructional Detachment, and in 1914 he himself became Chief of the Detachment. According to regulations, he was required to remain as part of the complement of the reserve battalion, but he was not one to be reconciled with this.
With the announcement of mobilization, his heroic spirit would flash with a new strength - rearward service was not for him, he strained for battle.
Hearing his petition, the commander of the regiment, Flugel-Adjutant Count Ignatiev, appointed him commander of the 4th company.
Rich with experience from the Japanese campaign, Kutepov would give valuable advice to his fellow company commanders of the 1st battalion and in the first battle displayed wondrous bravery at the head of his company and gave evidence of his deep understanding of the military art.
Later, he took command of the 2nd battalion, crowning it with new laurels, and in 1917 he received the command of the regiment itself, after the commander, H. I. M. Suite Major-General Drentel'n, was dismissed on orders of the Provisional Government.
The times were difficult, authority tottered, and anarchy reigned at the front... The army was collapsing, but thanks to Kutepov's steadfast energy, thanks to that exceptional authority, which he employed among the soldiers, authority based upon respect for his courage, his deep knowledge of the military, his constant concern for his subordinates which never left him, despite the extraordinary demands placed upon him, and his sense of justice, he managed to preserve the regiment entrusted to him from disorder and maintain not only its internal discipline but also its combat effectiveness longer than others.
Everyone remembers the events, which unfolded in the summer of 1917 near Ternopol', when after a momentary glorious success, Kerenskii's revolutionary regiments fled in a panic, leaving to the enemy untold spoils and giving themselves over to robbery and violence in their flight...
In these terrible moments, the Preobrazhentsi with their age-old brethren, the Semenovtsi, became one as an unbreakable wall, barring the path of the victor.
A wondrous repetition of events! In 1700, Peter's youthful regiments, with their courage and steadfastness, rescued the retreating forces of the Duke de Croÿ
from capture at the hands of the Swedes, and 217 years later, the Commander-in-Chief of the South-West front, General Kornilov, would send a telegraph:
"The entire army disgracefully flees, only the Petrovskii brigade offers battle under the canopy of their grey banners...."
After having entered the ranks of the Preobrazhentsi in 1906, Kutepov would enter the last glorious page of its history, and this last page would be a repeat of the first, inscribed near Narva.
Kutepov's further service to the motherland is the history of the White movement; that wondrous tale of heroism, sacrifice, suffering and unquenchable faith in the final victory of truth over falsehood, the idea of the motherland over internationalism, God over Satan, which I hope those who have the all necessary information will set forth with impartiality and desired clarity. I, however, wish only to say a few words about Kutepov as an officer, a commander and as a man.
For Kutepov's qualities as an officer and a commander, I will cite what I happened to hear about him from a soldier.
"Strict - they said about him before the war, - but he wasn't faulted for it; he understood the likes of us, one could say, he could see right through us, he wasn't one to lie to. If you did something wrong, best admit guilt straight away. Then things wouldn't be too bad. But if you weren't straight with him, there 'd be trouble.
"With him, it was also a good thing that he owed nothing to either the sergeant or the corporal, he knew the service, and what is more, he had his hand in everything, so he knew where the truth was.
"In a word, he was a commander. "
Such were the opinions of Kutepov in peacetime, during wartime they were more interesting still.
"He is a hero, responded anyone who ever happened to be asked what they thought of Kutepov. And if they were asked further, 'what they meant by very brave?,' then one would hear: 'Yes, there is that bravery which does not astonish us, your Honours, by its bravery. Our gentlemen officers, all, are brave as needs be... This is not that bravery, which God knows as something special. With death all around and hell facing us at times, for him this was nothing. He would laugh and joke and our comrades' spirits would lift." And again the same testimonial would be heard as in peacetime: 'He knew the service,' but how significantly more important this phrase sounded now than in peacetime!
One also heard the following explanations:
"By itself, bravery in war isn't much, it's necessary to think about things, otherwise nothing will come of it, only losses... Here in this matter, Captain Kutepov, God grant him health, was a fine sort. Not a single man was lost in vain. To follow him was like being behind a brick wall, one could say"
"Other officers, both brave and good warriors, were a trifle hot-headed - would rush to attack, even when pointless - well, nothing would come of it... But Captain Kutepov was always calm, would keep his eye on everything, both us and the enemy, and if he gave an order, you can be sure, it was exactly what was needed..." It was not only wounded men in his company or battalion who told me this, but others as well when I visited the infirmaries. My former soldiers also would tell me this upon being discharged from the infirmaries and being sent back to the front - everyone knew Kutepov.
Such were descriptions given of Kutepov as an officer and as a military commander; descriptions made sincerely and directly. These are not wooden phrases, these are the heartfelt cries of the little ones.
My personal relations with Alexander Pavlovich took on a friendly character as soon as he entered the regiment. I was first among the old officers who became on familiar terms with him, but since our time serving together in the regiment did not happen to be very long - in 1917 I was "dismissed from the front" to join His Majesty's retinue, I did not manage to become very good friends with him at this time. This would occur after the Revolution, when I was among the numerous refugees who had left Kislovodsk in September 1918 upon the retreat of Colonel Shkuro's detachment, and arrived at Novorossisysk, where General Kutepov was at that time the Military Governor.
The spiritual isolation we both suffered in this awful city, having no relatives and being separated by fate from all those dear to us, naturally brought us together.
Our mutual convictions and inconsolable grief for the Sovereignty of Old Russia, its sacred army and our valorous old regiment, and our shared precious memories and hopes - all of this naturally elicited our desire to see each other often and with each passing day our connection grew stronger and stronger. Our previous friendly relations became transformed in the shortest time into a real and sincere bond of friendship.
We met almost every night and would converse for long hours, unburdening our souls to each other, and here I can actually say I got to know him. I understood what sort of man he was. I was convinced, that he not only validated my earlier impressions of him, but also possessed qualities which I had never suspected.
I knew that he was a distinguished officer and that he was an extremely honourable and respectable man, but I was not aware of many other things, that I discovered in Novorossiysk.
First of all, I was convinced, that Kutepov was a very kind man by nature. Many may not believe this, but I assert that this is simply the case. I have much evidence of this based on fragments of memoirs, showing that I am not mistaken.
Yes, he could be ruthless when necessary, when he knew extreme measures were unavoidable. But in accepting these measures, he would do violence to his own person in the name of duty. While possessing enormous stamina, he hid his internal feelings behind an icy countenance, but the more these feelings painfully reverberated on his own heart, the more they rent his spirit.
The breadth of human malice which became displayed after the revolution caused him no small amount of pain, and he often complained of the shameless behaviour exhibited on all levels of society.
Being possessed of steadfast principles himself, he could not understand how people, who just yesterday occupied prominent positions, carried rank and were decorated by medals, could change so much....
He himself remained faithful to the oath he swore when he became an officer to serve the Tsar and the Fatherland. Like the ancient Romans, he did not know the word compromise. As with the majority of the Russian people, his concept of the motherland was inseparable from that of the Tsar and was the sole purpose of life. The words of the great founder of the Preobrazhenskii regiment, connected with the battle of Poltava, remained his maxim. He was possessed of neither personal interests nor personal ambition. He sought nothing for himself, but only that Russia should flourish.
He was a monarchist to the very depths of his soul and not in the European meaning of this word, which views it as a defined form of government, but rather in the traditional Russian perspective as a divine institution.
For him, the Tsar -Emperor of all the Russias - was an Anointed Sovereign Divinity, whose power to command stemmed "not only from fear but was enjoined by the conscience of God himself."
While professing this, he at the same timed understood that absolutism, as a permanent regime, was less conceivable, and while being an opponent to parliamentary democracy on principle, he recognized that this system, which had been introduced into Russia after the reforms of 1906, with minor improvements could fully provide for both the fair management of the country as well as its all-round prosperity and true cultural development.
But as I mentioned, for him the Motherland came before all else, and he was prepared to serve it even under conditions not to his liking. He would often say:
"Yes, I do not consider Russia as being powerful and fortunate under anything other than the scepter of its lawful Tsar, but I am prepared to serve Russia under any regime, as long as they have pledged themselves to the task of the national revival of Russia, rather than being servants of internationalism."
"But before all else," he would say, "it is necessary to save Russia, which is bleeding profusely and passing away. This is the chief and most urgent problem, and when it is achieved, all else will come in due course. "
It was not easy for him in Novorossisyk. The task he had been charged with was new to him. He was aware of his lack of experience in civil administration and it weighed upon him. Wishing to overcome his lack of knowledge, he carefully studied the laws, and possessing an excellent memory, he quickly understood much.
But by books alone one cannot overcome a lack of schooling and experience, which were all the more necessary in the absence of an established administrative apparatus, which had been destroyed by the Revolution.
Indeed, his main misfortune was the lack of reliable officials. There was no one, on which he could rely and he was required to take special measures against possible abuses committed by them. These included both the head of his chancellory (I do not remember his name) and his chief of staff, the notorious Colonel de Roberti.
I recall Alexander Pavlovich's complaints regarding the habitual corruption, lack of patriotism, and both the inability and unwillingness to adapt to new circumstances.
Operating under such conditions, his work in Novorossisysk comprised a continuous achievement. Lacking the possibility of trusting anyone, he wanted do everything by himself... He would haul up undisciplined officers, struggle with the willfulness of various newly-appearing officials, pursue abuses and relentlessly turn over to military courts robbers and rapists, whoever they were, and as I now recall, he would become indignant over the softness of the Yekaterinodar leadership, who did not wish to approve such verdicts.
"Do they really not understand," he would complain, "that by failing to punish the guilty with full severity, they will be encouraging disoluteness and criminality themselves?"
He would border on despair at moments. This stern and iron-willed man was sometimes close to tears, recognizing the tragedy of the situation.
Recalling the first volunteers, he told me:
"If you had seen them, they were such worthy men. Speaking bluntly, one could say they were saintly. With such men one could do anything, " and he would relate episodes from the beginning of the White struggle, in which he would describe the high moral standing of its devotees.
"Alas," he would exclaim, "almost all of them are dead, and now with mobilization almost any sort of element flows into the army, including many who are worthless for any task.
"You cannot imagine," Kutepov would continue, "what sort of filth people get up to, you would not believe, if I were to tell you that gray-haired colonels have placed themselves before me on their knees, pleading forgiveness for having served in the Red army... And officials? All these people of the 20th rank, deprived of any sort of patriotism and prepared to serve anyone available, as long as they pay more..."
How brightly would his eyes burn during these conversations of ours, how much disappointment and indignation they contained.
It was during these long conversations that I comprehended him, understood his spirit, valued his strength of will, and measured the depth of his chivalrous integrity and selfless nature.
With Kutepov's appointment as the commander of the 1st Volunteer army in January 1919, we parted company.
We would meet again in Paris. He was still the same man. Neither the collapse of the all hopes connected with the White movement, nor everything endured during the time of the evacuation, and later in Gallipoli, and finally in Bulgaria, in no wise broke his powerful spirit. He was still the same.
And he was thus not only before those for whome he needed to set an example, but before me as well, his best friend, whom he loved as anyone, and who, he knew, loved him with all his heart...
He was the same - spiritually invincible, invariably cheerful, and steadfast in the belief of final success.
In one aspect, however, he had changed and in this I was glad. It was apparent that he was making use of wordly experience and was studying much. He was now not only a brave, talented and straightforward general, but also possessed of a political outlook.
It was apparent that he had read much, thought much and made efforts at improving himself.
In Paris, our friendship grew even stronger, becoming more intimate. I valued it especially during the time I was struck with a serious illness.
Visiting me almost every day, he always found the words for comfort and cheer.
Once, when I thanked him for a particular visit, he told me:
"In fact and friendship, if we cannot support each other in misfortune, then who can? My friendship for you is special. I always remember how you displayed much kindness towards me when I arrived in the regiment. I, of course, did not display my feelings at that time, I was not entirely at ease the first time we met and therefore I have never forgotten your regard for me then."
I cite these words, as I remember them, in order to confirm once again the statements I made above regarding the depth of his spirit and the nobleness of his character.
Completely different activity awaited Kutepov in Paris; activity that was in sharp contrast to his former military existence. Caution and diplomacy now stood in the foreground.
I am convinced, that eventually he would have been equal to the task set before him, for many Russian people in various times of our history have similarly gained notoriety and despite lacking a wide education have furthered the glory of Russia with honour. Kutepov as well, with his natural common sense and his purely Russian ingenuity, correctly understood the most difficult questions and, barring the unfortunate events of 26 January 1934, would have entered his name into the history of Russia through incomparably greater feats, than those of men he himself admired and for whom all true patriots nowadays admire with reverance before him.

S. Vechin

General Kutepov: A Collection of Essays (II)

from General Kutepov, Part II, pp. 187-190
Cadet School

A few words about the cadet A. Kutepov,
by Nikolai Nikolaevich Golovin

In the summer of 1903, I was invited by the newly-appointed Commander of the Vladimirskii Military School, Colonel V. N. Voronov, to conduct a course in tactics in one of the classes. Prior to this appointment, V. N. Voronov had been Chief of Staff of the 37th infantry division, where I began my service on the General Staff. During our time serving together, he told me repeatedly, that an officer of the general staff could only consider himself prepared after he had spent several years as an instructor of tactics at a military school. Only through teaching do we conclusively learn ourselves, he loved to say. Having reminded me of this, Vladimir Mikhailovich remarked to me that he was looking for new instructors, for the military school that had been entrusted to him was embarking upon a completely new period of its existence. A radical reform had just taken place in our War Department: all the former "Junker Schools" had been turned into "Military Schools." This meant that instead of the previously shortened instructional program, there would be introduced a program of the same import as in the old military schools. Highly valuing the opinion of my first superior on the General Staff, I agreed, and he in turn told me that he would give me his "best" class.
The agitation which accompanied my first steps in military instruction has always etched in my mind the impressions made by my first encounter with this class. I realized that Colonel Voronov, in promising me his "best" class, had not told me this in order to encourage me to take up the frighteningly difficult path of being an instructor. The class given to me was indeed "the best." Within a year, the war with Japan flared up, and from the class of 40 cadets, 30 went to war; 12 of them bravely gave up their lives as heroes.
With the eagerness of a neophyte and encouraged by the enthusiasm of my pupils, I put my whole soul into the new task of military instruction. In order to attain wide-ranging theoretical consistency, the instructor of tactics was also required to teach military history, which involved spending a great deal of time conversing with my cadets. There and then I could not fail but notice "the best" of these "best."
This was A. Kutepov.
His sergeant's insignia showed me that he was "the best" in all regards. Extremely self-possessed, he always provided an example of discipline. Plain in speech with his peers, he was able to present himself in such a way that when he gave out orders as sergeant of his regiment these same peers of his would carry them out accurately and without question. Already, from his very first steps in the role of a "military commander," it was impossible not to have a presentiment of him as a true military leader with strength of will. These qualities contributed to the great moral influence which he had upon the class. It is highly probable that the latter in many respects was owing to his sergeant's stripes, by which he became "the best" in the school.
A. Kutepov's influence was not only felt in the so-called "inner order" of the school. A. Kutepov also infected his peers with his thirst for knowledge. I would have many students after 1903, but I can safely say, that I seldom met any with such a thirst for military knowledge as A. Kutepov.
This desire to learn on the part of "Kutepov's class" was clearly displayed in the assignments given in the course of the lectures as well as in the questions made regarding practical application. I answered them as best I could and cited books which could shine a light on their questions. A. Kutepov always occupied first place when it came to thoughtfulness involved in a query. He soon became my favourite pupil, as engaging with him was a sheer pleasure.
When it came time for the first drill examinations, A. Kutepov showed such knowledge and such understanding of the previous part of the course, that the head of the school, who was present at the examinations, considered it his duty to thank him especially in front of the entire class.
In regard practical applications as well, A. Kutepov was always in first place. In this sort of undertaking, he stood out for the clarity of his decisions and the clearness of his orders.
In the midst of the school year, an occurrence took place which would provide a fitting description of his moral character.
I had arrived for one of the drill exercises. A. Kutepov was registered among the list of respondent cadets. Before I had started calling the cadets to the boards, A. Kutepov approached me. He requested that I allow him to postpone his examination until the next examination day. According to the accepted practice in the school, such refusals to stand were only allowed in the case of illness. But when I questioned him regarding the cause of his refusal, A. Kutepov, somewhat confusedly yet looking me straight in the eye, quietly told me that the night before he was unexpectedly presented with the opportunity of going to the theater, and this hindered his preparations. I was amazed by his honesty. How many students in his place would have allowed themselves the "saving" lie of a sudden headache? And so, in response to A. Kutepov's application, I told him, that although I should formally give him a zero grade, I valued his honesty and would call on him during the next examination. The next time, A. Kutepov passed the "postponed" examination brilliantly.
When I met with Kutepov again among the emigres, he told me himself that the incident involving his refusal had made a great impression upon him. He strongly hesitated between telling the truth or a "saving lie." The school regulations were strict and he risked much in receiving a zero grade. However, after a long internal struggle, he nevertheless decided to tell the "truth." Approaching my desk, he was convinced that I would regard things formally and he would receive his "zero."
Such moral honesty remained with A. Kutepov for the remainder of his life. And was it not this very quality which drew towards him the hearts of his subordinates, comrades and superiors?

N. N. Golovin

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

General Kutepov: A Collection of Essays (I)

Preface by General Yevgenii Karlovich Miller

On Sunday, January 26, 1930, at eleven o'clock in the morning, General Kutepov left his home and headed on foot in the direction of the church, where the Gallipoli Assembly was located.
Kutepov's family waited for him at breakfast. Aleksandr Pavlovich did not arrive. They assumed that he had been delayed at the Assembly. In the afternoon he was to head out of town with his wife and son, but the clock struck three o'clock and he was still nowhere to be seen. A worried Lidi Davidovna (Kutepova) sent the trusted batman Fedor to the Gallipoli Assembly to find out what was delaying the general hour later Fedor returned with the news that the General never arrived at the Gallipoli Assembly that morning.
A terrible presentiment that some misfortune had befallen Aleksandr Pavlovich fearfully took hold of Lidia Davidovna. An accident? A crime?
She summoned General Stogov - head of the Military Chancellery, who hastened to meet with Colonel Zaitsev - General Kutepov's closest confidante - in the hopes of finding out General Kutepov's whereabouts. Colonel Zaitsev, struck by the unexplained and lengthy absence of the General, reported the situation to the Prefecture at once. The police immediately began a search for the General at all the hospitals, morgues and police stations.
The search continued until evening without success. The police alerted the border railway stations about the General's disappearance and urgently requested the General's officials that they keep his disappearance secret for the next few days, in order to increase their chances of finding the trail.
It became clear that the General had fallen victim to a crime. An evil deed had been committed, unbelievable in its audacity. In broad daylight, on the streets of Paris, in a populated quarter, a man had vanished, who was well-known to the police and under their protection. A man had disappeared, whom the local residents knew by sight. A man was abducted who was brave, strong, and incapable of being taken without a fight.
The entire next day, the police maintained their request for complete secrecy concerning the General's disappearance, despite the views of those of us who were in on the secret. But by evening evil rumours had already begun to spread across Paris from person to person.
Monday passed and on Tuesday morning the terrible news began spreading around the coffee-houses of the Russian emigres. The mind did not want to believe that such a crime could be committed and the heart could not admit the possibility that General Kutepov was no longer among us. Thoughts turned to the frightening riddle - where was he then? What did the criminals do with him, those who decided to behead the Russian General Services Union and with it the entire Russian emigre movement?
For two days, the riddle of the General's disappearance remained unsolved, but on the third day came word of a chance witness, who had been watching from a window on Roussel street, the very same street where Alexander Pavlovich resided. Some persons had invited a man who resembled General Kutepov to sit in a car, despite his unwillingness to comply. Finally, there was a clue to the riddle.
In an instant, the tranquil existence of the many thousands of Russians was interrupted, as if being woken from their slumbers. And they suddenly understood that for the Russian emigres there cannot be any peaceful life in expectation of events in the USSR; that the struggle which began 13 years ago continues and that our enemies, the oppressors of the Russian motherland, do not sleep. And as their victim became the one man, in whose hands all the forces of the struggle had been concentrated, and in whom the trust of his comrades-in-arms had been placed in regards the stubborn fight with the enemies of Russia and the Russian people.
The Russian emigres seethed with indignation, thirsted for vengeance, and were willing to make any sacrifice, if only to release General Kutepov from the clutches of the criminals. A committee was formed to collect funds for a search for General Kutepov.
Over several months, a private investigation worked intensively in support of the official French investigation, and all this time a wide stream of contributions flowed to the Committee from all corners of the earth: rich and poor alike shouldered their due, for all knew who had been taken from them. (Contributions to the Committee for the search of General Kutepov reached four hundred and thirty thousand francs, of which three hundred and thirty thousand were spent on the search and investigation. With the agreement of the contributors, the remaining one hundred thousand was handed over to L. D. Kutepova to provide for Pavlik, the General's son. Pavlik lost his father when he was five years old.) Every one cherished the hope that Kutepov was alive, that he would be found, and that he would be returned to us. The belief has also not been extinguished that for the French government it is a question of honour to find and punish the criminals, who made an attempt upon the life of a man, who had been rendered safe haven by France. Alas, days, weeks, and months have passed... Our investigations gave many valuable clues to the French authorities, but... considerations of 'diplomatic immunity' obstructed the investigation. The investigation continue even today.
It is still not known what became of General Kutepov, but we do know what we have lost in him, and we wish all to know this - both Russians, who have been cast across the face of the earth, and foreigners, who have given the Russian emigres refuge.
Fate has cruelly punished the Russian people, who have been tempted by Bolsheviks. Great are their sufferings and tortures. Fate has also mercilessly torn from our ranks, those whom the emigres could trust and in whom the Russian people could believe. Not yet a year had passed since the untimely death of Wrangel, in the full bloom of his life and strength, when the Grand Prince Nikolai Nikolaevich also passed on, and a year later the Bolsheviks abducted Kutepov....
By studying Kutepov's life, our children and grandchildren will learn how one should serve the Fatherland. At all moments of his life, whether a young officer in peace or war, a regimental commander during the period of Revolution and anarchy, a corps commander or commander of an army during the Civil War, Kutepov always and everywhere served as a model: an officer, a leader, and a faithful servant of Russia. Despite the increasing demands which life placed before Kutepov, even in fields absolutely foreign to him - of a non-military nature - he always rose to the occasion. In order to be worthy of serving the Motherland, he constantly studied and bettered himself.
A warrior by nature, Kutepov was an outstanding military commander and an exceptional governor of troops, as became especially clear at Gallipoli, but when circumstances demanded it, he became a political leader. He managed to win the trust of broad social elements among the emigres.
He brought together the Russian emigres and those Russians, who are suffering there, "behind the thistles." He called for struggle and fought for the liberation of Russia... The Russian emigres have truly lost in him their leader, and the Russian people have lost their liberator.
In this book, we and our descendants will learn who Kutepov was and what Russia has lost with him.

General Miller

1 March 1934.

General Kutepov: A collection of essays (Introduction)

General Alexander Pavlovich Kutepov was one of the most prominent members of the White Russian movement following the Bolshevik revolution of October 1917. Born 28 September 1882, Kutepov spent most of his early military career as an officer of the famed Preobrazhenskii regiment. During World War I, Kutepov distinguished himself several times in combat with the German army and finally rose to the position of regimental commander. Following the Bolshevik revolution, Kutepov joined the ranks of the White army operating in southern Russia. His military capabilities eventually led to his assuming the command of the famed Kornilov regiment, and later the 1st infantry division. In 1919, Kutepov rose to take command of the 1st Corps of the White Army. Throughout his combat tenure with the White army, Kutepov was known for both his decisiveness in battle and his harsh measures against criminal activities. Following the final defeat of the White forces in the Crimea in the fall of 1920, Kutepov became the leader of the military forces that had been exiled to Gallipoli. Following the dispersement of the White troops, Kutepov - as many others - ended up in Paris in 1923. Despite exile, Kutepov maintained his anti-Soviet activity, organizing small terrorist cells for actions within the USSR. Upon the death of Baron Pyotr Wrangel in 1928, Kutepov became chief of the Russian General Services Union (ROVS), the main White anti-Soviet organization. On January 26, 1930, General Kutepov disappeared from the streets of Paris - he was never seen again. It has been presumed that he was kidnapped by members of the Soviet Secret Police, although his body has never been found.

In 1934, friends and associates of General Alexander Kutepov published a memorial book in honour of him, titled simply General Kutepov. The book consisted of biographical sketches, personal reminiscences and short essays as well as photographs and articles written by Kutepov himself. Published in limited edition, this book is now a rarity. This blog thread will provide a translation of this hard to find work.

The Russian Renault (KS-10, M-Tank)

The Russian Renault

Like much of Russian history, the story surrounding the first Soviet tank is draped in mystery. What is certain is that it was meant to be a Russian-built copy of the French Renault FT-17. That the first Soviet tank should have a design patterned on that of the Renault is not surprising. For its time, the FT-17 was a breakthrough design, the first tank with a completely revolving turret affording a 360 degree field of fire while possessing a tonnage vastly below that of the first operational British and German tanks (as well as other French tanks). But the main controversy surrounding the Russian Renault involves whether it was a Soviet-built replica of the FT-17 or involved simply the refurbishment of existing captured models.
The first FT-17s entered Russia under the rubric of the Civil War, which cast its shadow across the country from 1918 to 1921. On December 12, 1918, the French government sent 20 FT-17s to General Denikin's White Army, holed up in Odessa. The FT-17s sent to Odessa comprise two types: the Char a canon 37 armed with a 37mm Puteaux short-barreled gun and the Char mitrailleur which had a single 8mm Hotchkiss M1914 machine gun. In the event, the French Renaults and the various other British tanks which had been provided, were used sparingly. Designed to break the deadlock of positional warfare on the Western Front, the slow speed and limited range of the first generation of tanks were of little competence in an arena of warfare which comprised vast territory, sporadic front lines and fluid operations.
The FT-17s were first employed against Red forces near the Ukrainian town of Tiraspol on 7 February 1919. One month later, according to Zaloga, on March 22, units of the 1st Zadneprovskii division of the 2nd Ukrainian frontcaptured one of the White FT-17s near the village of Berezovka, north of Odessa, with an additional five captured in further fighting outside of Odessa shaortly afterward. Russian sources, however, claim four as the number of FT-17s captured at Berezovka and have the date as 18 March 1919. Both Western and Russian sources, however, agree that one of the FT-17s was thereupon sent to Lenin as a present from the Red commanders in the field. The remaining captured Renaults were then sent to Kharkov, capital of the Soviet Ukrainian Republic, and joined the Amrmoured Division for Special Purposes under Commander A. Selyavkin.
The Renault sent to Lenin had less of an impact than it might have had, as it was inoperable. However, the leader of the Soviet Union was still sufficiently impressed to have another one of the French tanks sent from Kharkov in order to participate in the annual May Day parade on Red Square. From this inauspicious beginning, the history of Soviet tank production would commence.

Development process
According to the Soviet version of events, Lenin directed that the Council for Military Industry (Soviet Voennoi Promyshlennosti) examine the original FT-17 that had been sent with a view to producing a Soviet-made model of the Renault. On August 10, the decision was made to entrust the Krasnoe Sormovo factory in Nizhnii Novgorod with the task of coordinating the overall effort of producing the tank, whence derived the appelation KS. The FT-17 was subsequently dismantled and shipped to various locations during September 1919, with the armour being sent to the Izhorskii factory in Leningrad, the engine sent to the Moscow Automotive Enterprise (Avtomobil'noe Moskovskoe Obshchestvo or AMO) and the chassis delivered to Krasnoe Sormovo.
Initial work consisted of the formation of a special brigade assigned with the task of dismantling the Renault and making technical drawings of its construction and various parts. The brigade was under the leadership of the Soviet engineers I. I. Khrulev and F. I. Nefedov. This activity took the better part of three months, from October to December 1919 and eventually resulted in the production of some 130 drawings and various metal reconstructions. This activity was supplemented by the formation of a special commission attached to the Council for Military Industry to resolve and oversee questions concerning the manufacturing process.

Considering the lack of Renault engines, one of the initial questions involved what engines the Soviets intended to place in their version of the FT-17. This problem was addressed by the fact that in 1916, the Fiat motor company had licensed the production of its F-15 light truck at the AMO in Moscow. In pursuit of this several of the Fiat trucks had been purchased in Italy and shipped to Moscow prior to the Russian Revolution. For the Soviet Renault, a modified version of the F-15 Fiat engine was developed under the leadership of the Soviet engineer V. Kalinin with the aid of two French specialists - Demme and Rosier, who had both worked for the Renault factory in France. The final product was a four-stroke, four-cylinder water-cooled petrol engine capable of 33.5HP at 1480 rpm. The engine was provided with two fuel tanks, both gravity fed, with a total of 90 liters of petrol. The engine ignition consisted of an internal mounted Dixie Magneto (probably a Model 44), while the main clutch consisted of a reverse cone-type.

Running gear
The most difficult problems encountered by the Soviets involved the manufacture of the running gear. This was made more problematic by the absence of the original Renault gear box and transmission, which had been pilfered either during the time the tank spent in storage or in transport.. An initial replacement gear box manufactured in the workshops of Krasnoe Sormovo resulted in persistent jamming and breaking of the gears. Eventually, the engineer Kalinin was able to design a system which was claimed to be an improvement over the original French design. For this, the assistance of the Moscow automobile establishment was required for the purveyance of the necessary parts and materials. This resulted in a four-speed gear box (four forward and one reverse) with lateral dry clutch friction discs and band brakes. Steering was accomplished by a combination of braking and/or disengaging of the lateral clutches. Suspension was similar to the French Renault, consisting of leaf springs on the ground wheels and a vertical spring underpinning the return roller mount, in order to maintain track tension. The road wheel assembly consisted of three bogies of two wheels each and one bogie consisting of three wheels, while the return roller mount had six wheels. The track consisted of 32 linked sections per side.

Armour also posed a problem due to the lack of specialized workers. As a result, when the armour arrived from the Izhorskii factory, it consisted of uncut rolled armour plate, which the Krasnoe Sormovo workers themselves had to cut and shape, after first manufacturing the required tools themselves. Armour thickness consisted of 16mm, 8mm for the top surface and sides, and 6.5mm for the underside. The armour plate was riveted into place and conformed to the overall Renault design, including an eight-sided turret which rested on a ball-bearing race. On the top of the turret was a non-revolving observation cupola with cover, as per the FT-17. Entry into the tank was by means of armoured doors on the back of the turret on the part of the gunner/commander, and a set of hinged door on the front part of the hull for the driver.

The most obvious visible difference between the French and Soviet-built FT-17, however, concerned weaponry. The French FT-17 was supplied with either a 37mm Puteaux SA18 short-barreled gun or an 8mm Hotchkiss M1914 machine gun. The obvious inability to acquire the French-built Puteaux led to their replacement by single barrel 37mm Hotchkiss naval guns. These guns had originally been purveyed for the Russian navy, but had been found wanting during the Russo-Japanese war and many were thereupon relegated to storage. Modifications were made at the famed Putilov factory in Leningrad and consisted of alterations to the breech mechanism and the addition of a combined hydraulic compressor brake and recoil spring. Barrel length differed betwen a "short" 16.5 caliber model (24 inches) and a "long" 21 caliber version (30.7 inches). A shoulder rest was provided for the gunner, who would either stand in the turret or sit on a slung canvas rest. Ammunition for the 37mm consisted exclusively of fragmentation shells with a range of 2000 meters, although effective fire did not exceed 400 meters, with a muzzle velocity of 442 m/s. The effective rate of fire was 10-12 rounds per minute.
Initially, Soviet production plans called for five combat units of tanks, with each combat unit consisting of one 37mm tank and two machine guns tanks for a total of fifteen tanks. In British fashion, these were referred to as 'male' and 'female' tanks respectively. These plans were subsequently altered during the production process in favour of a combined- weapons design consisting of both a 37mm cannon and an 8mm machine gun. A call for submissions eventually rested upon a design by the Soviet engineer Glazov, which had the 37mm installed in the front plate of the turret and the 8mm machine gun mounted to the right in the adjoining plate. The effective use of the combination required the breech of the 37mm being pushed up out of the way when using the machine gun, while use of the cannon required the complete removal of the machine gun from its embrasure. The machine gun itself was the 1914 model Hotchkiss 8mm.

Actual production of the Russian Renault commenced in May 1920, and by August of that same year the first tank rolled off the assembly line and was ready for field trials on August 31. Trials continued until October 12, whereupon the first tank was christened "Fighter for Freedom, comrade Lenin" (Boets za Svobodu, tovarishch Lenin) and was presented to Lev Trotsky, head of the Red Army. By May 1921, all fifteen tanks originally ordered by the Armour Section of the Main Administration for Military Engineering (Glavnoie voienno-inzhenernoie upravliennie) had been built, which included the complete overhaul of the original French template. However, due to deficiencies and production problems at the Putilov factory, only twelve modified 37mm Hotchkiss guns could be delivered in addition to one 37mm Puteaux SA18 salvaged from a destroyed French tank. Two of the Hotchkiss guns later turned out to be defective and as a result only eleven of the finished tanks had the required 37mm armament. Furthermore, the lack of sufficient 8mm Hotchkiss machine guns meant that only eight tanks could be manufactured with the planned combined armament, with three more delivered without any weapons (there is some confusion regarding the status of the final tank).

Post-production history and assessment
The Russian Renaults finished their production cycle too late to play any role in the Russian Civil War, which had effectively concluded with the defeat of Baron Wrangel in November 1920. Most of the Russian Renaults were delegated to armoured car detachments, while others ended up being used as auxiliary farm tractors. Although it would appear that there had been some intention to manufacture additional Russian Renaults, no further orders were forthcoming. The Russian Renaults remained on the lists of commissioned Soviet military equipment until 1929, being maintained with spare parts salvaged from captured French tanks. In 1930, the Russian-built FT-17s were decommissioned.
It should be mentioned that some Western authorities cast doubt upon the whole notion of a Soviet-built Renault, suggesting that the Krasnoe Sormovo project merely involved the repair and rebuilding of FT-17s, which had been captured from either the White forces in southern Russia or from the Polish army during the Soviet-Polish war. Zaloga, for instance, considers it implausible that the Soviets could have constructed operational replicas of the FT-17, when the Americans had faced difficulties doing the same in the construction of their 6-Ton Tank with the full assistance of Renault drawings and specialists. In the absence of any detailed drawings or photographs of the Russian Renault, this question must remain resolved, although it is clear some sort of intensive project involving Renaults had been undertaken at Krasnoe Sormovo.
Whether Soviet-made or Soviet-refurbished, the Russian Renaults differed in almost no respects from the original FT-17 to the extent that the former should be classified as merely a national variant of the latter. This is not to diminish the achievements of the fledgling Soviet state to embark upon the domestic production of advanced armoured vehicles at a time when it faced enormous social and economic challenges. Yet the dissimilarities betwen the Russian and French Renaults are primarily of an accidental nature arising from the straitened circumstances under which Soviet production took place, rather than from any deliberate manipulation of design (other than the double-weaponed turret). What the Russian Renault program did do however was to provide Soviet engineers and workers their initial experience in the design and construction of armoured vehicles. This experience would be utilized in the construction of the first true Soviet tank - the MS-1 series (T-18).

Length - with tail: 16.3 ft / 4960mm
Length - w/o tail: 13.5 ft / 4100mm
Height: 7.4 ft / 2250mm
Width: 5.7 ft / 1750mm
Armour - front: 16mm
Armour - top: 8mm
Armour - side: 8mm
Armour - underside: 6.5mm
Armament: 1 x 8mm Hotchkiss m.g. and/or 1 x 37mm Hotchkiss L/16.5 or L/21
Ammo supply: 238 x 37mm and/or 4800 x 8mm
Weight: 7 tons
Suspension: leaf spring
Road speed: 8.5km/h
Engine: 4 cylinder, water-cooled Fiat (AMO) / 33.5HP
Fuel capacity: 90L / 20G
Range: 60km
Crew: 2

Amphibious Renault
This model, proposed by Krasnoe Sormovo, was to be armed with a 47mm gun (likely the Hotchkiss 47mm naval gun) and a machine gun and to have a crew of three. Road speed was estimated at between 12-15km/h. The plan was rejected by the Main Administration for Military Engineering.

Siachintov turret-modification
Proposed by the engineer P. Siachintov as a combined weapons turret, this design would have seen the turret reduced to six sides with an 8mm Hotchkiss machine gun and 37mm Hotchkiss gun arranged in the forward adjoining turret panels.

Far-Eastern Renault
In March 1920, some 20 Renault FT-18s (FT-17s with a cylindrical Berliet turret) were sent to American interventionist forces in the Russian Far East at Vladivostok. The tanks, however, were re-routed by Bolshevik-sympathizing railroad workers to the Red partisans operating near Blagoveshensk, on the Amur river. None of the captured Renaults had been outfitted with weaponry, radiators or magnetos, which had apparently been stored in separate railway carriages. This was most likely due to the lack of heavy train cars needed to accomodate the weight of the fighting vehicles. Ten Renaults were subsequently placed in working order and separated into 5 2-tank platoons comprising the 1st Amur Heavy Tank Division. In the process, several modifications were made. In addition to the obvious introduction of Russian-supplied magnetos and radiators, these 10 tanks were also outiftted with a variety of weapons which had been captured by the Red partisans. Some were armed with the 37mm Hotchkiss, while others were armed with either a Hotchkiss 8mm machine gun or a Maxim 7.62mm machine gun. Later, due to the lack of spare parts, some of the tanks were equipped with a supposed Japanese-model quick-firing 37mm infantry gun. The crew complement was raised from two to three, presumably with the addition of a gun loader to that of the driver and commander/gunner, although it is uncertain how three men fit in the cramped quarters of the Renault. Furthermore, armour plates were attached on either side of some of the turret embrasures to provide extra protection against shrapnel and gunfire, although this modification impeded the full traverse of the turret, due to the raised rear engine hatch. Like all captured Renaults in Red army service, the tanks of the 1st Amur Heavy Tank Division were plagued by lack of spare parts, especially for the engines, and suffered extensive breakdowns. The last operational Far-Eastern Renault - named Zorkii (Vigilant) - fell victim to a White Russian armoured train on 10 February 1922, near the town of Volochayevka.

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