Nicholas II

Diary in Russia - 1916

7th January 1916.

I had a long conversation with Count Fredericks at his house this evening. He is much upset and annoyed to find that there are intrigues going on here to make difficulties between us and the Russians, and wanted to hear if I could throw any light on the matter.

I told him there was not the slightest foundation for any such stories, and that the tales of reported moves on our part towards the Germans were laughable if they were not so mischievous.

He then spoke about the question of playing our National Anthem when compliments were being paid to the Allied representatives, owing to its similarity to the German anthem. I explained that Rule, Britannia, which has hitherto been played here on these occasions, is not our National Anthem. (This matter is referred to elsewhere in a conversation with the Emperor.)

On leaving I emphasised again the falsity of any idea of differences between our respective countries, and if bad feeling existed it must be in Russia and not at home. He then asked me to be on the watch for mischief of the kind, which I assured him I would, but it most probably existed in Petrograd, to which place I was but a rare visitor.

9th January 1916.

Went off at 11 by train to Tsarskoye Selo, was met by a carriage and at once shown in to the Emperor, whom I had the honour of congratulating on his appointment as one of our Field-Marshals. He told me that I need have no fear of the anti-British mischief, that it only arose from malicious intriguers, and after a talk over the usual shipping and munition difficulties I left.

13th January 1916.

I showed the Emperor at dinner the enamel cigarette case which had been sent to me by 'Fourteen Welshmen at the Moscow Metal Works' as a souvenir of a visit I had paid specially to them while I was at Moscow.

They were working on material for use in aeroplane construction, and he was very keen that they should remain to work instead of returning to enlist, as, being specialists at the job of 'tin-plate rolling,' they would be most hard to replace.

14th January 1916.

The Russian New Year's Day.

Had a long talk to Alexeieff and Admiral Russin on munition matters, in which there appears to be some improvement, due no doubt to the energy with which the Emperor pursues this all-important question.

Alexeieff received the G.C.M.G., at which he was very pleased, and asked me to draft his letter of acknowledgment.

I sat next the Emperor at dinner, and he spoke of the enormous work a history of this war would entail, that one should be drawn up by the Allies conjointly and a simpler edition published for schools and so on with illustrations.

We talked of technical education, and I told him of a letter of Lord Rosebery's, I think, which was written years ago, pointing out the superiority of the Germans in that direction, and he agreed upon the importance of it, which, he said, 'is about the only civil thing I can say for them now.' But the difficulties in Russia were the enormous expenses involved and the old question whether they were yet fit for such an advance.

A telegram of good wishes from the British Army gave him much pleasure. Also others from India and all over the Empire. 'Times are changed,' he said. 'Fancy a Russian Emperor receiving congratulations from India.'

19th January 1916.

We all went down to the 'Blessing of the Waters.' The Emperor led the procession down to the river, following immediately after the archbishop and other church dignitaries. It was about 20 below zero and the ice was broken up for the ceremony.

At dinner H.I.M. told me how pleased he was with the speech which Sir George Buchanan was making at Petrograd, and he mentioned that one of the anti-British mischief-makers was a lady who had married an Austrian and become very pro-enemy, trying to set the Russians against us, and saying that we meant to throw Russia over at the first chance, etc.

He then got on to the Railway business, I having explained how anxious Lord Kitchener felt about the Vladivostock line, telling me that the new Minister for Railways and Communications, Trepoff, was expected next day, and that he had a good opinion of his capabilities and keenness.

Then talked of Queen Victoria, Lord Salisbury, Rhodes and others.

After dinner he carried me off to his room about the wording of a telegram he wished to send in English.

He is most anxious that all possible should be done to help the broken-up Serbian Army, and delighted with the picture New Year cards of all the regiments of the British Army, picking out the 'Blues,' the 'Greys' and the 16th Lancers, in which regiments he is especially interested. I asked if a set might be sent on to the Tsarevitch, which is being done.

The delay in ordering of more guns has, I hope, now been settled, but late in the day.

24th January 1916.

The Emperor much pleased with the visit of Major-General Callwell, who has come over to give us news of our operations in France and elsewhere, a visit which he thought most useful and hoped would be repeated. He said if it was in his power he Would insist on it, so I remarked that now his Majesty was a Field-Marshal of the British Army he had the opportunity.

Callwell is so able, tactful and sensible that he made his visit a complete success.

26th January 1916.

At dinner to-night H.I.M. talked about empires and republics; his own ideas as a young man were that he had, of course, a great responsibility, and felt that the people over whom he ruled were so numerous and so varying in blood and temperament, different altogether from our Western Europeans, that an Emperor was a vital necessity to them.

His first visit to the Caucasus had made a great impression on him and confirmed him in his views.

The United States of America, he said, was an entirely different matter, and the two cases could not be compared. In this country, many as were the problems and the difficulties, their sense of imagination, their intense religious feeling and their habits and customs generally made a crown necessary, and he believed this must be so for a very long time, that a certain amount of decentralisation of authority was, of course, necessary, but that the great and decisive power must rest with the Crown. The powers of the Duma must go slowly, because of the difficulties of pushing on education at any reasonably fast rate among all these masses of his subjects.

At the beginning Of February I was away at Odessa to see that port and the flying school, etc., returning to Headquarters to see the Emperor, which I did on 14th February, concerning the question of the dispatch of a Russian general to England and France.

The matter was in discussion with Alexeieff, of course, but the Emperor's personal knowledge of England and the English language made him frequently prefer to go into these questions personally.

I told him quite frankly that the British Army was now a much larger one, and of course a most important factor in the final decision, which had not been quite grasped by many Russians, whose minds seemed to rest on our little Expeditionary Force as still being the limit of what we could do in placing numbers in the field. To this he cordially acquiesced, saying: 'I should think so indeed; the number of divisions you have placed in France is marvellous.'

We then talked of General Belaieff as a possible man to send.

He inquired how I enjoyed my first experience of flying at Odessa.

17th February 1916.

The Emperor took me to his own room to-day and talked of the progress of matters. I pointed out that the central factor in the war was British sea power, on which depended the transport, commerce and finance by which we were able to help the Allies, but that our sea power was not unlimited and we could not transport men, munitions stores and so on continually to different points, as well as provide for requirements in Great Britain and dispatch of munitions and other necessities to Russia, France and other places; that our considerably increased armies meant great increases of staff and cadres to complete them, besides the necessity of experience for oversea expeditions -climatic conditions, clothing, etc., all affecting these, and thus pointing to the concentration of our forces in France and Belgium, where these difficulties could be got over with greater ease, apart from any strategical views in the matter.

We were only too anxious to fall in with any aims or proposals of the General Staff here, but some of these pointed to plans or projects which did not take sufficiently into account the limits of shipping and sea work generally.

19th February 1916.

The Emperor wished me to meet Kuropatkin, who came to lunch, and we had a talk afterwards.

He asked me how I stood the cold of the Russian winter, but I told him I had been in some below zero weather in Canadian winters and liked it. 'Well,' he answered, 'perhaps we shall find the climate of Berlin better next autumn.'

He seems a bit of an optimist.

The most striking bit in the future history of the war, he said, would be the 'making of the British Armies,' an unparalleled feat for which we owed much to Kitchener.

20th February 1916.

The Emperor spoke to me at dinner on his views about Finland and Poland. Somewhat arbitrary I thought as to the former, but as to Poland he said that he liked the Poles and appreciated all they had done and how much their country had suffered during the war. He said he would grant them a measure of self-government with which he thinks they will be content, but it is going to be a difficult and delicate matter to carry through, a somewhat similar one to our Irish question.

He added what a curious thing it was that people living so near one another as the Russians and Poles, or the British, Scotch and Irish and Welsh, should be so different in many of their characteristics.

There had been difficulties about the singing of our National Anthem in Russia, because the tune was so similar to that of the German, and he asked me to send him a copy of the note I had made for him about it, the history of its having been written by Dr John Bull in 1689, first published in 1742, popularly adopted in 1745 after the rebellion, translated into German by Heinrich Harries and sung to the original air in 1790 at a birthday celebration in honour of the King of Denmark, the Germans thus having taken it from us forty-eight years after it was published.

He talked a long time and the party at dinner got quite fidgety for him to start smoking.

He told me in confidence that he was going to open the Duma in person, as, though he hated speaking, he thought it was better that he should say a few words on this occasion. He is very popular among all the Allied generals here, which is well, as there are plenty of critics of him in other quarters.

22nd February 1916.

The opening of the Duma by the Emperor passed off successfully to-day, and as I happened to be up here at Petrograd for a day or two I managed to get a comer from which to view it. I felt sorry for the Emperor, who I knew disliked the idea of having to appear at this sort of function, but all went well and was fully reported in the Press.

27th February 1916.

On my return to Headquarters I told the Emperor I had seen General Sir Arthur Paget, who, with Pembroke, had brought over the Field-Marshal's baton for presentation to him. Congratulated him on the opening of the Duma and said I thought Petrograd was more cheerful. 'Do you think the Duma business has anything to do with that? he answered, 'I hope it had.'

He then told me about the Grand Duke George's visit to Japan, being very pleased with the way it all went off.

I told him the story told me by his brother's (the Grand Duke Michael's) A.D.C. of the Division Sauvage, which the G.D. commanded.

The other day the Austrians who were opposed to the Division Sauvage signalled over to them: 'We have many of your coreligionists here, Turks, come over and join us.)

'All right,' answered the D.S., and went over, did a good raid and shot a lot of the enemy, returning successfully.

I mentioned an impression I had gathered from talks to all sorts and kinds of people - that Russia looks to a decision of the war by the end of 1916, and that she will be much disappointed if it is not arrived at by then. I mentioned this to the Emperor, who, of course, agreed to the natural desirability Of such a consummation, but added: 'It is no use speculating as to dates, what we have got to do is to stick to it patiently and firmly to the bitter end.'

1st March 1916.

Paget's mission left to-day, having presented the baton to the Emperor with all due ceremony. Paget and Pembroke looked very smart, and it was good to see a red and a blue coat again after all the khaki, Paget towering over most people in the room.

The Emperor gave a lunch for the mission and drank to the health of our King. Later on he turned to me in his kind, quiet way and said: 'Sir Hanbury [as he always called me], I drink to you too.'

17th March 1916.

The Emperor after an absence of some time returned to Headquarters yesterday. He is always so bright and cheerful that one cannot but be cheerful with him. It is a wonderful temperament for a man who must have such cares and anxieties on his mind, and I am sure is a good inspiration for others.

He told me at dinner about the British cinema 'show' which has been sent over here, that it was quite excellent, lasting over two hours, and he was never the least bit bored.

I had received a chaffing message from my friend Prince Galitzin (who was with the G.D. Nicholas in the Caucasus) about matches which I was always accused of stealing when I was with the Grand Duke, from his diningcar, so the Emperor suggested I should pack a very small box of matches in a very large parcel and send it off to G., whom it reached eventually, when he repacked it and passed it on heavily sealed to the G.D.

19th March 1916.

Callwell, Wigram (his A.D.C.) and Mark Sykes are all here, and the latter has interested H.I.M. immensely with his wonderful knowledge of Arab and other matters.

H.I.M. talked to me about an article in The Nineteenth Century which I had sent him on some sermons which had been preached in Berlin and Leipzig. He said it was difficult to believe that such malice and bitterness could be displayed by a clergyman in any church.

The scheme of a landing at Alexandretta he thought very attractive, but the difficulties he feared insurmountable.

25th March 1916.

We had the British cinema show here yesterday, Emperor and Tsarevitch being present and very pleased.

Polivanoff is to be 'released ' from the duties of Minister for War, possibly because he was not persona grata. Shuvaieff succeeds him.

I raised the question of a short leave to England, as there were many matters upon which I wanted to speak in person, but the Emperor was very much against my going for the present.

In conversation with him on appointments, he said he would much prefer a level-headed man who was a good judge of men and knew how to work a good staff to a very brilliant man who centred too much in himself. He may have been 'leading up' to the appointment of his new War Minister.

29th March 1916.

The Emperor told me of reports in to say that the Germans had put Russian Jews in charge of Russian prisoners of wax, and that it has annoyed and irritated the latter, some of whom have escaped - an incident which will not lighten the anti-Jewish feeling in Russia.

1st April 1916.

Great anger expressed over the sinking of a Russian Red Cross ship in the Black Sea. I was on board her when at Odessa, and it seems a most dastardly business, some of the nursing sisters having been drowned.

A visit to Riga and Reval, going out in one of our submarines from the latter place, took me away from Headquarters for a bit.

18th April 1916.

Returned to Headquarters from the Northern Front, when H.I.M. welcomed me back, and at dinner I had to tell him all about my trip, and the warm comer in which Phillimore and I found ourselves on our visit to the front-line trenches.

He told me that on his own trip the enemy had dropped some bombs from an aeroplane very near his car, and then, referring to the Prince of Wales's visit to Egypt, said that he hoped he would keep out of danger. 'Although,' he said, 'I and my boy like to go to the front and see the troops, we have no right to expose ourselves too much'- quite forgetting the bombing incident. of which he had just spoken.

He was very pleased at the news of taking of Trebizond, and then asked me what I thought of a visitor who had sat next him at lunch. 'Very clever, no doubt,' I said, 'but rather dry and dull.' 'Oh,' he answered, 'I am so relieved to hear you thought so, because I found him so intensely difficult to talk to.' He is always so anxious to be kind and hospitable.

19th April 1916.

The question of 'overseas' work in the wax came up, and the opportunity presented itself to point out to the Emperor what a heavy task fell upon the British Admiralty.

Our country has to find transports for

1. France (from England, India, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa).

2. East Africa (from England and from the Cape).

3. West Africa.

4. South-West Africa.

5. Mesopotamia (from England and from India).

6. Egypt (from England, India, Australia, New Zealand and the Cape).

7. Salonika.

8. India (taking out new regiments and returning with drafts, etc.)

9. French troops to Salonika.

10. Serbian troops to Salonika.

Supply ships for Serbians at Corfu.

Hospital ships for all the theatres of war (except the Russian and Italian).

Admiralty colliers.

Colliers for the French fleet.

Colliers for Italy.

Colliers for Russia.

Ships to carry grain, frozen meat, etc., from Canada, Australia, Argentine, and Canadian horses for England and France.

Supply ships for all the British fleets.

Ammunition ships for above.

Ammunition ships for all the theatres of war.

Meanwhile seventy ships have been locked up in Archangel and Alexandrovsk all the winter.

Only large ships are included in the above, hundreds of small craft being employed on Admiralty service.

All the above falls upon the British Mercantile Marine.

Admiral Phillimore can speak for this, truly a 'gigantic task,' as the Emperor called it.

The Russians in general have little idea of the work which is being carried on by us in these matters.

They know more or less what our navy is doing, but do not realise what you might call the 'behind the scenes work 'of our splendid Merchant and volunteer services at sea.

The moral of all above is not to talk lightly of carrying out ' side shows.'

It is a pity that war does not permit of some cinema illustration of British sea work.

22nd April 1916.

At dinner to-night the Emperor told me he had arranged for some Russian officers to go to the French front to be attached to our army.

We had a long talk, and stories followed, one that when he was in England for King George's wedding Sir Lynedoch Gardiner came up and gave the Prince of Wales (as he was then) an invitation to his own wedding, mistaking him for the Emperor.

Very sympathetic about poor Courtney Throckmorton, who married my niece and has just been killed.

He said he intended to make the Grand Duke Nicholas a Field-Marshal, but not yet awhile. Spoke in the most friendly way of him, of which I was very glad, after all the malicious gossip that flies about. Then about his uniform as a British Field-Marshal and how he should carry the baton; said that he looked after all his various uniforms himself.

23rd April 1916.

A perfectly beautiful Easter morning. There bad been a midnight service, and then we all paraded at the Imperial house, H.I.M. presenting us each with china Easter eggs made by Fabergé.

Spring has jumped into summer, as it does in Canada.

10th May 1916.

Messrs Viviani and Thomas arrived on a visit from France, being entertained by H.I.M.

Much talk of the trial of Soukhomlinoff, the late Minister for War.

The Emperor was much amused to-day, though a little annoyed because the excessive keenness of our outpost troops here has led to one or two blunders. The Belgian general's servant was arrested by them, and when I was taking one of my rides in the country yesterday I was arrested myself. A regiment fresh from Petrograd was doing duty, and though I wore a Russian cap, as is our custom here, my British khaki uniform evidently puzzled the sentries, and notwithstanding my explanations and the presenting of my Russian visiting-card, the sergeant of the guard had me stopped, put under charge of an infantry soldier, who solemnly marched me back, loaded rifle very handy to him, and I was obliged to return with him ignominiously till, by a stroke of luck, after a mile of slow march I met a gendarme who knew me and dispatched my captor back to his post with ' a flea in his ear.'

11th May 1916.

The Emperor is a good deal worried over the question of the trial of Soukhomlinoff, the former Minister for War, and Count Fredericks is likely to be called as a witness for character, though he only knows of S. as having been formerly a military instructor, and nothing about his doings at the War Office, with which obviously F. had nothing to do.

14th May 1916.

Talked Peterhof and duck shooting with H.M., who got so keen about his description of the shooting there that he nearly knocked the wine bottle over in his illustrations.

He is much interested in the cinema which is being shown here of the taking of Erzeroum, and spoke in most cordial terms of the Grand Duke Nicholas's success, which gives great pleasure too to all of us who served 'with him over this side.

18th May 1916.

He is much annoyed by an 'unfortunate incident' which has lately occurred and by which the Russians lost guns, which can ill be spared, owing to the supporting troops being miles in rear.

The latest big batch of recruits are, he says, of an excellent type.

19th May 1916.

The Empress arrived yesterday and told me how pleased she had been with her visit to the British hospital at Petrograd, and what excellent work Lady Sybil Grey was doing there.

I found the Empress much easier to get on with than I expected, probably for the reason of her great love for my own country, and her custom of talking English constantly to the Emperor, and the many interests she had on matters upon which I was able to give her news or information.

When she told me how terribly shy she felt on coming into the room where we were all assembled-and it was a very large gathering, the chiefs of all the Allied military missions, the French, Belgian, Italian, Japanese, Serbian, and a galaxy of Russian

officers, with a sprinkling of Russian officials, both civil and diplomatic - I told her that the Emperor was always there, and then said laughingly to her: 'Your Majesty is so accustomed to visiting hospital cases and seeing operations that the best thing to do is to imagine to yourself that we are only 64 operation cases," and all will go well.'

It is probable that her own shyness, which gives the impression of aloofness, prevents people from talking to her and freezes up conversation.

The moment one began to laugh over things she brightened up and talk became easy and unaffected.

To-day being the Emperor's birthday we all attended a very beautiful service at the garrison church, after which there was a levee, I being the doyen leading in to wish the usual happy returns.

Sir Samuel Hoare arrived on a short visit.

At the birthday dinner I sat next the Empress, who told me a great deal of her hospitals, and of her gardens in the Crimea, from which the wonderful show of flowers which decorated the table came. The Emperor, who sat next the Empress, told me that she sent him flowers every day for his room. They both talk English as their own ordinary means of conversation, and the Empress seemed very well and in good spirits. She asked a great deal about the Duke of Connaught and Canada, and curiously enough on return to my quarters I found a letter from H.R.H. from Canada.

20th May 1916.

The Emperor leaves for Odessa to see two newly formed divisions, and we have asked him to bring back the little Tsarevitch, who is a great favourite with us all, and a most happy-natured, attractive little fellow.

31st May 1916.

The Emperor had talked over the proposed visit of Lord Kitchener with the greatest keenness and interest. At the end of May I went into all details with Sir George Buchanan and Knox, the Military Attache' (now Major-General Sir Alfred Knox).

I never mentioned the matter to anyone except them, and Captain MacCaw, who was attached to me at Headquarters, and the Emperor, who had first informed me of the proposal.

One was obviously anxious about the journey, and it was evident that the less said about it the better.

On my return to Headquarters I found M. Trepoff, who is Minister of Railways and Communications, there, and after he had seen the Emperor I sat with him and had a long conversation on railway matters. He is a straight and able man-very keen.

1st June 1916.

The Emperor again referred to Lord Kitchener's visit and his anxiety to see him. But he agreed that he wanted to do so much in so short a time that nothing but an aeroplane with telephone and shorthand writers attached would get him through to his satisfaction.

He added that it would be most acceptable to him to hear personally from Lord Kitchener his views on railway and transportation matters, of which he had such wide and valuable experience, and that it would be so helpful to his ministers and to Alexeieff to have a straight and full discussion on all these and relative questions for which any amount of cabling or writing never gave such satisfactory results as a personal interview.

'From what I have always heard,' he added, 'of Lord Kitchener, he is not a man who will hesitate to speak out and give us his views, even if they are not in entire accord with ours. He will also be able to go into the question of future operations with Alexeieff, who, I am sure, will be as frank as Lord Kitchener in expressing his views. We must, no doubt, have ideas which are not exactly similar in every step we take, but we have had no opportunity, as they constantly have in France, of first-hand discussion between two such representative men as Lord Kitchener and Alexeieff.'

I told the Emperor in answer that I did not think he need have any anxiety about Lord Kitchener's frank expression of views, at which he laughed, his reputation for speaking out being well known here; but I added that he would find Lord K. different from what he was very frequently represented to be, and that he was sure to get on well with all those with whom he should work in amicable relations, but that if he felt anyone was not worth working with we should no doubt hear of it, and that I should have no hesitation in telling him, if there were trouble in view, of the fact that H.M. had always asked me to speak out, even if things seemed unacceptable.

The Emperor then said that Lord Kitchener was to have a perfectly free hand to see all he wished, as what was the good of a visit such as his except to improve the 'liaison' between us as far as possible, to have an exchange of ideas, to grasp our respective difficulties, and to remedy them wherever feasible.

Altogether he laid stress upon the visit as a great opportunity which should on no account be missed.

'We mean to beat the Germans,' he added, 'and the two heads of Kitchener and Alexeieff should have a good deal to say to it.'

From LORD KITCHENER to GENERAL HANBURY-WILLIAMS

LONDON,

2nd June 1916.

Personal.

M. Bark has stated to our Ambassador that he thinks that my visit had better be postponed as he has to start for France on 14th June. I ought to arrive in Petrograd according to arrangements about 11th June, which would give me time to tell Mr Bark all the financial points which I have to communicate to him before he has to leave.

Owing to the military situation I cannot hope to have another chance of visiting Russia, so if my visit is postponed it will have to be put off altogether.

Would you ascertain whether underlying the action of Mr Bark there is any desire that I should not come, in which case, of course, I should not think of doing so.

From MYSELF to LORD KITCHENER

G.H.Q. RUSSIAN ARMIES, 3rd June 1916.

Private and Personal.

Your telegram of the 2nd was only received this morning. I thought it best to speak to the Emperor direct, while avoiding any danger of putting him in the position of being obliged to answer at once. I had a private and personal interview. Explained position in regard to dates, named by you, and though I made it clear that if you did not come now you could not come at all, I at the same time said perfectly frankly that I knew you would not come if it was

felt that your visit would be in any way embarrassing or entail extra work and make difficulties for anyone.

I begged H.M. twice not to give me his answer immediately, but to turn the matter over in his mind, consult anyone he wished, and advise me of result later. He repeated twice that he wished you to come, he thought your visit one of importance and would be of benefit to both countries. Under the circumstances I trust that my action is approved and that you will hold to your arrangements. I think it would be well to make it clear in other quarters that you will give Mr Bark plenty of time to talk to you, and that your visit is not only on purely financial matters, but on matters of interest to both Allies.

You will forgive my making suggestions, but I have given the matter most careful consideration and can but express my purely personal views.

Am keeping your communication absolutely between H.M. and me, though he may of course discuss it with others.

His answer is, however, quite decided and I see no prospect of its being altered.

HANBURY-WILLIAMS.

I remember that night of the 3rd June so well.

I lay on the uncomfortable little camp cot in the corner of my room, screened off by some fusty and hideous old curtains and tired out slept straight off.

Then at about 3 A.M. I woke up, lit the candle and thought a bit. I can see the room now, with what my friends called my picture gallery on the walls-all the funny sketches from Punch, and Bairnsfather's out of The Bystander, which I always kept to make me laugh when things were going badly. The two great white stoves at either corner, then by my writing-table pictures from the illustrated papers of the King and Queen and Kitchener, the Emperor and the little Tsarevitch, and some sporting pictures and a copy of Jorrocks.

The night was warm and I could scent the varying odours of the Jew shops just opposite my windows, and of the almost dirtier streets between, but there was silence on those awful cobblestones which would almost echo the steps of a cat upon them except in the winter, when one only heard the sleigh bells. I was more or less 'salted' to smells in those days and they didn't worry me, but I began saying to myself 'Have I done the right thing ?'

It was not fear of the responsibility that I had to take, for I should never have changed my mind about that, and I know that if Lord Kitchener could reappear now he would agree, but I suppose an uncanny premonition of trouble. And so I got up and walked round my pictures and laughed and turned in again and slept till daylight or later, and woke up satisfied that I couldn't have done otherwise.

If ever I see the Hotel Bristol at Mohileff again, what a crowd of memories that room would bring to me. It was there that I got the news of my eldest boy's death and of Kitchener's.

But there were some happy memories with it as well, till the news came to me there of the revolution and of the end which I felt certain was at hand of Russia as a fighting factor for the Allied cause.

And it was in that room that poor Prince Galitzin, as good a sportsman and gallant a soldier and friend as ever lived, came to tell me that the Grand Duke Nicholas was leaving, 6 no Romanoffs being any longer required' in the army in which he had served so long, so faithfully and so well.

I came back to it after my visit to the Emperor, no longer Emperor, and again after I had bid him the last farewell.

Yes, there are a lot of ghosts in that room for me.

3rd June 1916.

The King's birthday and the Emperor referred to it at lunch and drank H.M.'s health.

6th June 1916.

The Emperor took me for a short walk in the garden, and I told him of a conversation I had with the C.I.G.S. on the question of liaison matters between us and Russia, the importance of strengthening them, and he promised he would go into the matter with Alexeieff again.

Alexeieff is looking tired and worn out, centralises too much, I am told, and it is difficult to get at him, and no wonder, with our collection of Allied representatives all wanting to do so. The Emperor is, of course, most kind and accessible, and sees, I think, that A. is tired, but one cannot go to H.I.M. about everything. It would be incorrect and foolish, as the Chief of the Staff, especially in this case, is the right person to see and to be kept informed, and it has only been in special and almost personal matters that I have ever been to the Emperor without telling Alexeieff.

7th June 1916.

To-day like a thunderclap came the terrible news about Kitchener. One can hardly believe it, but there seems no doubt, though we do not know whether it was a mine or submarine or what actually happened.

The Emperor came up to me and said

'How I wish I hadn't felt obliged to encourage him to come, but it is the fortune of war.'

The Emperor still very deeply concerned about Kitchener, and told me that he had received such a splendid telegram from our King about it.

All the Allies and the Staff came to call on me, and offered their sympathies, and in the evening the Emperor gave me a most kind and sympathetic message from the Empress about it, speaking not only of K., but of all those who accompanied him.

It being her Majesty's birthday, one tried to put that forward as the topic instead of one's personal troubles, and the Emperor spoke so much of her telling me incidentally that she had been engaged to someone else before him and that the aspirant had given way.

The little Tsarevitch has been promoted to rank of full corporal in the army and is very proud of his stripes and more mischievous than ever.

9th June 1916.

The Emperor very keen to know who is likely to succeed Kitchener at the War Office. Possibly Derby, but I have heard nothing yet. He told me that the Empress had sent me a lot of flowers, specially chosen for me, which is very kind. On return to my room I found it full of roses, sweetpeas, orchids, etc., very refreshing in this place where one hardly ever sees a flower.

10th June 1916.

All very pleased with the successes against the Austrians, it being reported that we have taken over 64,000 prisoners since the offensive began.

At lunch the Tsarevitch pushed all the cups, bread, toast, menus, etc., which he could get hold of across to me and then called the attention of his father to count all the pieces I had.

13th June 1916.

I am afraid from all I gather that reports about food, transportation, fuel, etc., which reach the Emperor are too rosy coloured. It is not so much a question of the stuff itself, but of the transportation.

The reports of individual departments may be right, but there must be a lack of cohesion, intensified, of course, by all the demands, both civil and military. Prisoners of war, I suppose, are used, but the Jewish population, which is very great, is useless in this respect.

Resulting on these difficulties lies the danger of riots and revolution. New railway lines are not much use without rolling stock, but something will have to be done, because even with victorious armies you must have a more or less contented population behind you, and should the war drag on after next winter the danger will become very great.

Had Lord Kitchener been with us just now his wide experience of these matters would have been invaluable, as he would have come with an unbiassed mind and given a very authoritative and straight opinion.

We, who have been here some time, and are always sticking pins in about the business, grow to be looked upon almost with a sort of 'Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes' suspicion, for fear that we may have some axe of our own to grind, there being such a number of those axes in this country. I had a case in point when in order to push on some important railway work I suggested a firm of whose good work I had experience in other lands.

One of my best Russian friends came to me and said: "If you want to push that business along, don't on any account suggest a British contractor - it will be suspected that you have some "pull" in connection with it.' He laughed at the idea himself, and I laughed still more, never having had a pull in any business that I can remember in my life, and certainly not brought it off if I had.

16th June 1916.

Another lot of most welcome flowers arrived from the Empress, for which I thanked the Emperor, with whom I talked over the Salonika difficulties which I had

discussed with Alexeieff as to men, shipping, clothing and so on, in fact the whole business, which seems hardly appreciated by those who are ill acquainted with the transportation of men and horses and stores by sea, let alone the question of weakening our lines in Prance.

27th June 1916.

1 had a meeting the other day with Alexeieff and one of his staff on a strategical question regarding which we were somewhat at variance. I had been fully instructed as to the arguments which I had to use and indeed knew the whole question by heart. Just before I left for our talk a long telegram came in for me, so I left word with my staff officer that if he found that it affected my business with Alexeieff lie should bring it in to me. Just as I had finished my oration and produced my trump card, as it were, in came the message. It was a complete reversal of previous arrangements, so nothing remained for me but to climb down at once and as gracefully as I could, but sudden changes of this kind serve to enfeeble one's arguments in future.

I take comfort from the fact that no doubt many others suffer as I do. I suppose a clever diplomatist would have left a loophole of escape. I had left none.

But I think the authorities concerned, even if they had no sympathy with me, would at least have had some admiration for the fine flow of language which I used on return to my quarters.

Towards the end of June it was arranged that I should go home on a short leave, an old friend of mine, Brigadier-General Waters, taking my place in my absence. I submitted the matter to the Emperor and to Alexeieff.

H.I.M. readily acceded to the proposal, but said: 'I make one condition, so far as I am concerned, and that is, that you return as soon as possible.'

Alexeieff also sent me a most kind letter as follows:

MON' CHER GENERAL, - Je me suis entretenu avee vous bien volontiers, voyant en vous non pas 'le répresentant des difficultés, mais un bomme d'idées fermes et arretées.

J'attendrai votre retour avec l'espoir de continuer amicalement notre travail commun jusqu'a l'issu que nous soubaitons.

The expression I had used of myself in my letter to him.

Bien entendu, en votre absence, je serai heureux de m'entretenir avec le General Waters.

Les operations qui sont commence's doivent changer essentiellement la situation. De leur issue seule dependront nos projets ulterieurs. En ce moment tous nos efforts doivent tendre a l'exécution et a la réussite de nos entreprises actuelles.

Avant votre départ -j'exposerai au Général Robertson quelques considerations stir la situation générale.

Veuillez agréer l'expression de ma profonde estime et de mon sincere dévouement.

(Sd.) ALEXEIEFF.

8th July 1916.

Some more beautiful flowers sent me by the Empress.

10th July 1916.

The Tsarevitch is here and in great spirits. He dragged some of us off after lunch in the tent to a round fountain in the garden which has porpoise heads all round it, with two holes in each to represent the eyes. The game was to plug up these holes with one's fingers, then turn on the fountain full split and suddenly let go. The result was that I nearly drowned the Emperor and his son, and they returned the compliment, and we all had to go back and change, laughing till we nearly cried, a childish amusement no doubt, but which did one good all the same.

12th July 1916.

At lunch sat next to Sazonoff, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and opposite the Emperor. We talked of South Africa, as he asked me about my time out there and whether I had ever seen Kruger, and so on. I explained that I had been there with Sir Alfred Milner and was at the last conference with Kruger before the war. He talked of the astonishing co-operation in which we had worked with the Boers since the war (which war he had always thought would be a necessity) and had prophesied that we should make them good partners in the British Empire. Then he added: 'We are going to do the same with Poland.'

14th July 1916.

The Emperor spoke to me last night about Rumania and munitions which should be dispatched there the moment they give guarantees of coming in with us. He said he had sent the Grand Duke Serge to Archangel and that results, and good results, were already showing themselves inconsequence of his visit.

He then told me that he had made up his mind to do away with the German official names given to certain departments of his Court and so on.

He knew that a great many of his subjects thought that these and other things meant German influence in Russia, and hoped that such changes would tend to prove that these ideas were illusory and false.

He was quite determined that all connections of this kind with Germany should be cut off once for all.

Old Count Fredericks told me after dinner that the increasing democratic views of the Russians made it of the greatest importance that the alliance with us should not only be firm but lasting, as we, though thoroughly democratic, stood firm to the monarchical system, which he felt was of the greatest importance in a country like Russia, that to his dying day he would do his best to get his royal master to strengthen the alliance with us and so far as possible to adopt our methods. Poland, he added, would be a commencement.

Though old, he is shrewd, loyal and devoted to his Emperor, but with an appreciation of the more liberal ideas in Russia which need attention and assistance. He was always watching, he said, for what might be the situation in Russia after the war, for the care necessary in making democratic institutions, not to make them too suddenly, though he quite recognised that much must be done to avoid the risks of revolution.

[NOTE. - Thus all had spoken to me at various times of Russian good intentions towards Poland, the Emperor, Sazonoff, Fredericks, but reaction and intrigue, which had hung the business up right away from the time when I had been with the Grand Duke Nicholas (though through no fault of the latter), eventually gained the day.]

17th July 1916.

The Emperor has made a new appointment to the Black Sea Fleet - Koltchak - and I sat next him last night, a quiet, keen and attractive man, who will, one hopes, get a bit of a hustle on there, as it is badly wanted.

[N.B.: The Admiral's history afterwards is well known.]

19th July 1916.

Reported to-day from German sources that a German naval officer had told a wellknown person that he had been 'on the submarine that sunk the Hampshire.'

20th July 1916.

The rumoured retirement of Sazonoff reached me to-day. - There have apparently been intrigues against him, possibly with regard to his Polish policy, and, as an old friend put it to me 'Ils veulent tous lui faire casser la tete.'

He added that unless Russia gave proof of good-will to Poland by a measure of selfgovernment German intrigues would increase, and that S. had a lot of business on his hands at this moment which, if left alone, he would carry through successfully.

The matter was not within my province save so far as I was asked to do what I could in the business, and that such an important ' change of horses' at this moment might have a deterrent effect on the military situation.

For a moment there seemed to be a chance of a reconsideration of the decision.

Received a message from Petrograd telling me of the reported removal of Sazonoff from his post and asking me to assist in preventing such an unfortunate change as is apparently proposed.

The Emperor was away at the station to meet the Empress, so I went to see F. We had a long conversation. I told him that he and I had always had a complete understanding when difficulties arose-to which he entirely agreed - and that this seemed a difficulty which would require all the patience and care possible to save a situation which I knew soldiers - speaking for myself - and diplomatists among the Allies would look upon as very lamentable if it came about with a wrong issue - that there were questions of Rumania and Poland (the latter of which M. Sazonoff had spoken to me about only a few days ago, as had the Emperor), and that both questions affected the military situation.

He (F.) knew as well as I did that German influences had had full play too long in Russia, and that the dismissal of a man of the type of Sazonoff would give cause for talk which might have most mischievous results, and would be a moral victory for the enemy influences which worked behind the scenes.

He (F.) had frequently talked to me about the importance of consolidating the alliance, and I felt that that purpose could not better be served than by the retention of S.

F. said: 'I will speak to you quite frankly, and I am glad you came to me, because I know better than anyone what is going on. There have been, and are, intrigues going on against Sazonoff, and these among ministers and highly placed persons, who dread anything approaching selfgovernment for Poland, and the more democratic forms of government, such as exist in the dominions of your Empire.

'If we do not support Sazonoff, especially in this Polish business, we shall be playing into the hands of the enemy, who - I know personally-are doing all they can to give the Poles the impression that our promises are "but pie-crust," and that nothing will come of them.

'Apart from that, I believe all that you say about S.'s good work in establishing very friendly relations with your country a matter of the first importance. I am determined to do all that I can in aiding that and shall die happy if they are brought about.'

Later in the afternoon he telephoned me that he had delivered my message personally to the Emperor.

21st July 1916.

The influences brought to bear against Sazonoff have been too strong and he is to go.

H.I.M. spoke to me about Sazonoff 's retirement. He said: 'I know you are worrying about something, I can tell it by your face, and I suppose it is about Sazonoff.'

'No, sir, the appointment of Minister for Foreign Affairs is none of my business, but it does seem an unfortunate time to " change horses," when there is a great deal of specially important work on hand, and it might thus affect the military situation. All I have done in the question has simply been as an intermediary.'

'I can assure you,' he answered, 'that he was in bad health, and that the change will make not the slightest difference in continuity of policy.'

23rd July 1916.

I had an opportunity of thanking the Empress, next to whom I was at dinner, for her kind and continual gifts of flowers to me.

She leaves again to-morrow in her Red Cross car.

The Empress walked in to-night, looking like a beautiful picture, with her daughters. Hers is the only sad face in the family, but it lightens up when she comes by and greets one. To-night, however, she looked as if she had been suffering and was anxious about something.

As I was next to her at dinner, I asked her if she had been working very hard.

She said No, but that she had trouble from her heart and that it alarmed her. Not knowing much of illness of this kind, I merely said that I knew of one case where the person concerned had found that it was merely a muscular trouble and soon passed off.

It seems extraordinary how little it takes to cheer her up, for the conversation turned off on to the subject of pictures and Verestchagin's work, and till the end of dinner she seemed quite happy.

It is a very curious character, a devoted wife and mother, and yet acting under bad influences which react on her, on all that belong to her and her own country.

She is so proud of Russia and so anxious that the Allies should win the war, and yet, without being aware of it, carrying out bad advice in the selection of advisers and others. War to her seems almost more terrible, if such a thing is possible, than to other people. But she spoke of it to me as the 'passing out of darkness into the light of victory.' 'Victory we must have.'

25th July 1916.

1 raised the question of Archangel again, as I hear there is no improvement in matters there, notwithstanding the visit referred to above.

The Emperor told me at dinner that the Empress had sent me her best wishes in her daily telegram to him.

29th July 1916.

I received a message desiring me to speak to the Emperor on the proposal to award the G.C.B. to Sazonoff, and immediately after our lunch in the big tent in the gardens of his house his Majesty asked me to come for a walk in the. garden.

We strolled along the path overlooking the Dnieper, and as we walked I gave him my message.

He stopped at once, turned to me and said: 'I am delighted that Sazonoff's excellent work should thus be honoured by the King. No one more deserves such a high mark of appreciation for the heavy task which he has carried out so faithfully and well, and it is a high compliment to this country as well as to him. I only hope he will soon recover sufficiently to render further services to us.'

4th August 1916.

The Emperor received an official telegram from our King on the second anniversary of the war.

I went with him to his room afterwards and he showed me his answer. The message had given him great pleasure.

He is, as he says, equally determined to fight to a finish.

8th August 1916.

We were talking the other day about cavalry and the part they had played in the war. The Emperor said and maintained that they had been very useful in this country, though my friend, de Ryckel, the Belgian general, thought the days of cavalry were numbered. Next day a wire came to say that some of ours had had a 'good lookin.' So I mentioned it to H.I.M., and we chaffed our Belgian friend a good deal.

This morning H.I.M. sent me The Daily Graphic of 24th July with a front-page picture of the Deccan Horse before and after a charge, and written in blue chalk on one side of it: Something for old de Ryckel.'

(I still have this little reminiscence of those days lying before me.)

10th August 1916.

1 had a long talk to H.I.M. on the financial situation as between Russia and ourselves, one of the many matters upon which, though not properly my business, I had been asked to discuss with him.

It was a somewhat intricate question, but one which needed the straight speaking which he always permitted to me, and which served to clear the air.

15th August 1916.

I lunched with the Emperor and Empress, both most kind in urging me to come back as soon as possible. After lunch I walked up and down for a long time with him in the garden, and he gave me various letters and messages from him and the Empress to take to England.

As he said good-bye, he added: 'Tell them in England of our good feeling for them all and of the high appreciation felt here of the splendid work of the British Navy and Army. They must not believe any stories which go about trying to make mischief between the two countries.

'We mean to fight this war out to the end with our good Allies. And the only peace we shall agree to will be one that will do us all honour together when once we have achieved victory.'

The Empress spoke of the education of children, and how anxious she was that her daughters should be simple and unaffected, that in England girls had so many opportunities of healthy out-of-door amusements, and moved about more.

She told me that. we must not spoil the little boy, and I assured her that we wouldn't; indeed he was not the sort that is easily spoiled, and his tutor kept him in good discipline.

She feared that the war would sadden their lives, but at the same time saw quite clearly that an experience such as we were going through would impress them without leaving too lasting a sad memory.

'What a responsibility,' she said, 'for those who started this awful war, killing, wounding, suffering, and the dark shadows thrown over young lives, which ought to have nothing but brightness.' She at first could not believe the stories that came from Belgium of the treatment of the civil population by the enemy. 'But now we have proofs, and no punishment can be strong enough for the offenders. Your English soldiers would scorn such ideas of treating even the worst of their enemies in this way.'

This afternoon, accompanied by my faithful Russian orderly, Missi, I left for England. Dined on the train with Admiral Russin, the Naval C.G.S. at Headquarters, and seeing something of the Grand Duke Dmitri Paulovitch on the journey to Petrograd.

26th August 1916.

Reached King's Cross at 6 A.M.

26th August to 7th October 1916.

In the short six weeks' leave which I spent in England, with the exception of a ten days' trip to the French front, I was pretty fully occupied.

I left at midnight for Bergen on 7th October and reached my old room at Headquarters of the Armies at Mohileff on the 18th October.

18th October 1916.

On arrival found it was the Tsarevitch's 'name day' the Emperor receiving me most kindly at lunch and saying we must have a good talk over my trip.

19th October 1916.

My birthday and also that of General Janin, my good friend of the French military mission.

Sir George Buchanan, Lindley, Grenfell and Blair arrived with the G.C.B. for the Emperor.

They were received in due course, and after they had left the Emperor sent for me and again welcomed me back.

20th October 1916.

The Empress here, and I sat next to her at lunch, when we had a long talk about my visit to England, a country for which she has such great affection and in which she takes so much interest. She also wanted to know all about my family, and especially of the two boys (the elder whom I left, I fear, not far from the end, and the younger one who was so badly wounded). She is indeed most kind, sympathetic and thoughtful for others. She told me that she had not been at all well herself, nerves and heart trouble.

What a difference it would make to Russia if she had good health and nerves.

The Emperor sent for me after lunch and assured me that all was right in Russia, and determination to continue the war to the bitter end as firm as ever. He quite realises the importance, he says, of helping Rumania, and hopes that some forward action from Salonika will help.

He trusts that any rumours as to a premature peace on the part of Russia will be treated for what they are worth, which is nothing. Enemy intrigue is at the bottom of these rumours.

He is as fully determined as are his armies to continue the struggle until Victory is assured. Idle gossip in some centres, such as Petrograd, is not worth heeding, and he hoped that no one in England would be affected by it. German and enemy intrigue was the cause of all the malicious talk.

The Empress had been equally keen in her anxiety for the success of the Allies, and I hope this reassuring report will continue. I told the Emperor that I hoped the Empress would have a long rest, as she seemed overwrought.

I see no prospect of any further advance from here this winter. And winter in Russia is the anxious time.

24th October 1916.

The Empress sent me some more flowers, and asked if she could see my children's photographs, which I managed to produce, and the next day when I was with the Emperor at dinner he told me that she was sending me a photo of herself and the little boy. He also told me that he hoped if my son came over with a 'bag,' which there was an idea of his doing when sufficiently recovered from his wound, that he must come and see him. We talked over the Rumanian situation, which is far from happy. The railway arrangements between Russia and Rumania in a hopeless muddle.

has such great affection and in which she takes so much interest. She also wanted to know all about my family, and especially of the two boys (the elder whom I left, I fear, not far from the end, and the younger one who was so badly wounded). She is indeed most kind, sympathetic and thoughtful for others. She told me that she had not been at all well herself, nerves and heart trouble.

What a difference it would make to Russia if she had good health and nerves.

The Emperor sent for me after lunch and assured me that all was right in Russia, and determination to continue the war to the bitter end as firm as ever. He quite realises. the importance, he says, of helping Rumania, and hopes that some forward action from Salonika will help.

He trusts that any rumours as to a premature peace on the part of Russia will be treated for what they are worth, which is nothing. Enemy intrigue is at the bottom of these rumours.

He is as fully determined as are his armies to continue the struggle until Victory is assured. Idle gossip in some centres, such as Petrograd, is not worth heeding, and he hoped that no one in England would be affected by it. German and enemy intrigue was the cause of all the malicious talk.

The Empress had been equally keen in her anxiety for the success of the Allies, and I hope this reassuring report will continue. I told the Emperor that I hoped the Empress would have a long rest, as she seemed overwrought.

I see no prospect of any further advance from here this winter. And winter in Russia is the anxious time.

24th October 1916.

The Empress sent me some more flowers, and asked if she could see my children's photographs, which I managed to produce, and the next day when I was with the Emperor at dinner he told me that she was sending me a photo of herself and the little boy. He also told me that he hoped if my son came over with a 'bag,' which there was an idea of his doing when sufficiently recovered from his wound, that he must come and see him. We talked over the Rumanian situation, which is far from happy. The railway arrangements between Russia and Rumania in a hopeless muddle.

28th October 1916.

At the Emperor's dinner I sat next M. Bark, the Russian Finance Minister, whom I much like. He has a clear head, and though no doubt fights well for the interests of his own country, is very frank and friendly in his dealings with us.

29th October 1916.

The Emperor spoke to me at dinner about Constantinople, the situation regarding which seems more or less assured.

30th October 1916.

At dinner the Emperor told me that one of the Russian divisions in Rumania had been reduced to 600 men in the recent fighting. He then discussed 'tempers,' and said that he rarely lost his, but when it was bad 'it was very, very bad.' He added how much he had missed me while I was away, and spoke most kindly of Waters at the same time.

He leaves to-morrow for Tsarskoye Selo, and asked whether Locker Lampson's armoured cars could go to Rumania.

5th November 1916.

On our way to Tarnopol yesterday during a visit to that front we stopped at a large 6 canteen' run by a Princess Wolkonsky, who has been at work ever since the beginning of the war, and entertained many thousands of soldiers. She has an estate quite near, and most of the canteen supplies are her own produce. Some time ago when this neighbourhood was clearer of the enemy the Empress and the Tsarevitch had visited the canteen, the plates they had used being preserved on the wall, and every soldier who came in was shown them.

The Princess told me that her head steward had been badly wounded and sent home during the war, and when she went to welcome him and have the wound properly attended to, she inquired after his injury. 'Oh,' he answered, 'the wound-that is nothing; but think what has happened - I have seen the Emperor, and he spoke to me, think of that.' If this is a sign of the times, it is a good one.

14th November 1916.

On my return from a visit to Brussiloff and his armies I gave the Emperor an account of the trip.

He told me that Alexeieff was not at all well and he thought he ought to take a bit of leave. After dinner I was asked to his room, when I presented him with the photograph of Lord Kitchener which Sir George Arthur had sent. Then discussed a message from our Ambassador in which he had asked me to speak to H.I.M. regarding an announcement on Constantinople. (I looked back to the Quetta days again in 1885 and 'the Russians shall not have Constantinople.')

He quite appreciated the proposal, and as soon as Sturmer and the Ambassador have settled it an announcement will be made.

More chrysanthemums and other flowers from the Empress.

16th November 1916.

Some of the soldiers' wives at home have sent in some extraordinary letters about allowances for babies, and extracts were sent me which I showed to the Emperor, who was much amused, especially with that which said: 'I have just had a baby, what am I to do about it? '

He told me that he had received a telegram at 4 Pm. to say that the Murman railway is joined up, and should be in working order in six weeks, which I hope will 'pan out' all right.

Brussiloff had told me that he gave the Germans six months to hold out on the present harvest, then, two months more very badly off for food, then three months more to the final collapse roughly, about a year. All this makes our pushing on of the railway important for munitions and other supplies, if he was correct. He had also said he thought the days of cavalry were numbered and that future warfare would be conducted in the same way as at present, plus use of a number of chemical and mechanical discoveries.

20th November 1916.

The Grand Duke Nicholas arrived from the Caucasus with his brother, the Grand Duke Peter. We all met at lunch with the Emperor, who appeared very pleased to see the victor of the fighting on the Turkish front.

I went down in the afternoon and spent some time with the Grand Duke Nicholas, who was as kind and cordial as ever. He seemed happy as to the prospects in his theatre of war, though he remarked how unlucky it was that just the weather which suited his operations there was wrong for those of the British forces in Mesopotamia. He looked very well, and will, we all hope, continue to be successful.

The Emperor told me afterwards how glad he was to see him and to hear all the news of 'his excellent work.'

He spoke so cordially about him that it is hard to believe all these stories about jealousy, etc.

22nd November 1916.

A good crop of rumours about-unrest in the country, trouble in the Duma, Sturmer accused of being pro-German, and a Russian officer, a friend of mine, tells me he is very unhappy about matters generally.

One of the generals who was in command of a corps last year told me that in the retreat before the Germans his men had only five cartridges apiece.

He has now a command near here and says that the 'graft' and swindling by contractors is very bad. He is, he says, surrounded by people who come to him with gueules ouvertes to get what they can out of him.

The arrival of Valentine of our Flying Service enabled me to have a talk to H.I.M. on this important matter and the promotion of young officers as soon as possible, youth being very essential at this business.

Ivanoff, between whom and the Emperor I was sitting, was in entire agreement. Sturmer and Trepoff, the Minister for Railways, were also of the party.

23rd November 1916.

Sturmer being the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and his appointment not having given much pleasure in Russia, conversation was rather limited, as he sat on the other side of the Emperor. Trepoff, whom I knew and like, seems pleased about railway matters, and I only hope he is not too optimistic. He is very keen, and everyone I know has a good opinion of him, but his task is a very difficult one. Sturmer is near the end of his tether.

24th November 1916.

General Gourko, Admiral G. (who, report says, will take Sturmer's place), General Russki and Gilinski dined with the Emperor, who told me he had a high opinion of Gourko, a good leader of men in the field, a very experienced man of affairs. His Majesty told me that he felt sure I should like him. [N.B.: Which proved very true. - J.H.W.]

Gilinski has been attached to the French Army up till now, is very proud of the K.C.M.G. conferred on him by the King, but he has now been recalled here.

Trepoff succeeds Sturmer. 'Dieu merci!' my neighbour at dinner said.

H.I.M. tells me of a proposed visit of certain distinguished Allies to Russia. Gourko, whom we all like, is to take over from Alexeieff during the latter's leave.

We then talked over Salonika, the conference in France and other matters.

Discussing the 'Angels at Mons' story, he said that one of his daughters was talking to a wounded Russian soldier at about the same time as the Mons episode and that he told her during the debacle in the beginning of the war, after the advance in E. Prussia, they had seen the Virgin Mary.

I showed the Emperor the June number of The Times History of the War, which Wilton of The Times had kindly sent me. By a curious coincidence there are on opposite pages pictures of the Ambassador, Sir George Buchanan, sitting in his room at the Embassy close to the portrait of Sir Charles Hanbury Williams, the former Ambassador of Catherine's time, and of the Emperor talking to me. The latter is described as 'General Williams speaking to the Emperor at Petrograd.' A wrong description as far as the locality went, as it was really at Army Headquarters, but it is a coincidence that I should appear in 1916 with my ancestor of 1754.

27th November 1916.

The Empress-Mother's birthday. H.I.M. went to dine with the Empress, and I was able to send a message of thanks for more flowers.

Gourko came to my room after dinner and we had a long talk.

28th November 1916.

Sat next the Empress at lunch, when she seemed in really good spirits and as kind as ever, asked a great deal about my wounded son, and seemed hopeful about the war. The Emperor saw me before lunch about Constantinople, Rumania, etc.

29th November 1916.

After lunch to-day had a regular football scrimmage with the little Tsarevitch, who was in wild spirits.

1st December 1916.

Their Majesties both congratulated on Queen Alexandra's birthday, and drank her Majesty's health.

3rd December 1916.

The Emperor told me how sorry he was at Phillimore's departure, which to me is a vey great loss.

I told the Emperor that I had written home to the following effect:

'The enemy are straining every nerve through their usual methods to create internal trouble in Russia, to spread dissatisfaction in the army and induce bad feeling against the British Empire. They are well aware of Russian difficulties regarding railways and transport, with the resulting danger to food and fuel supplies, meaning a hard task for the government if they wish to get through the crucial winter-time without serious trouble.'

He told me that he was constantly urging attention to these matters, but I fear he is given too 'rosy' reports upon them.

Trepoff had, he said, made a strong speech in the Duma regarding the continuance of the wax, which he hoped would have a good effect.

5th December 1916.

Both Emperor and Empress were present at a cinema performance for the soldiers and were very well received.

In the evening I had a long talk to the Empress, who spoke of the necessity for people keeping cheerful and not losing their heads over the length of the war, which she was convinced would end in the victory of our Allied forces.'

After dinner she beckoned to me to come up and talk to her again. I crossed the room to the piano, where we stood alone. H.I.M. then referred to the wicked slanders that were being spread about in the large towns, but hoped that the recent utterances of Ministers on 'both sides of the water' would convince people of the firm determination of the Allies to see the war through to the bitter end.

She then said: 'You are, I hear, going up to Petrograd on a short visit soon? 'Yes, your Majesty, I hope to pay a visit and see the Ambassador and hear the news up there.'

'Well, promise me if You go that you will not believe all the wicked stories that are being gossiped about there.'

It gave me the opportunity to say some. thing which I bad in my mind, and which could not have been said had not the opportunity offered itself. It was on my lips when the Emperor came up laughing and said: 'What are you two plotting about in the corner?'

The conversation broke off, as they then bid us good-night and I left.

[N.B.: That was the last occasion upon which I saw the Empress. No doubt if I bad spoken my words would not have had much effect, but I bad been urged to do so by someone much concerned, and had never expected to have the chance.]

6th to 18th December 1916.

During this fortnight the Emperor was away. I saw much of General Gourko, a first-class, keen soldier, and we are lucky to have him to take Alexeieff's Place while the latter is away. Gourko is a 'man of the world,' apart from other good qualities.

9th December 1916.

The Emperor at Petrograd, and I hope will return looking better than when he left, as he appeared tired and worried.

At noon to-day we went off to an open-air service to celebrate St George's Day. Stood in the open at 10 deg. below zero with hats off, which was cooling to the brains, to put it mildly.

After the service the Battalion of St George marched past, all magnificent men who have got the ' Cross' and been wounded some time or other during the war, followed by a lot of discharged old soldiers. The sprinkling of holy water by the bishop must have been

chilly work. Then lunched with the officers of the Battalion, sitting down at 12.30, and the earliest departures being at 3 P.m.

How they all manage to carry on with their work under these conditions is a marvel, but one officer told me that after the 'Artillery Feast Day,' which was yesterday, he left at 4 A.M.

Afore exercise and less sitting up would do them a lot of good.

11th December 1916.

A friend told me quite innocently that two strangers who were at the 'Staff' lunch today were representatives of 'la peche et la chasse.' As a - matter of fact, he was about right, as they were Civil Servants collecting evidence against Soukhomlinoff, the late Minister for War, whose 'peches' have resulted in his 'chasse.'

19th December 1916.

I sat next the Emperor, who had returned last night, at dinner. Very interested in the change of Cabinet in England. Asked me about Kitchener's prophecy that Germany would make peace proposals in November.

To-day, being his Majesty's name day, we all went to a service in the church, and a levee was held afterwards at which I delivered congratulatory messages from the King and Imperial Forces, the Ambassador and so on.

I sent over Thompson Seton's books which I had got for the Tsarevitch.

20th December 1916.

1 heard the news of death of my eldest son, which was not unexpected. I was in the ante-room next the Emperor's before dinner, when, being alone, the little Tsarevitch came out of his father's room, ran up to me and sat next me, saying: 'Papa told me to come to sit with you as he thought you would feel lonely tonight.'

The Emperor himself most kind and sympathetic, saying, as was his nature, just the right thing.

I spoke to him of my going up to Petrograd for a few days, to which he quite agreed.

A most kind telegram from the Empress:

'Accept my heartfelt sympathy in your great sorrow. God help you to bear this heavy trial and send consolation and strength to your poor wife. ALEXANDRA.'

30th December 1916.

This evening while Charlie Burn, a very old friend whom I was glad to have with me, was sitting in my room (at the Hotel Astoria at Petrograd), I was rung up by Wilton of The Times:

'They have got him at last, General.'

I guessed to whom lie referred.

It was the end of Rasputin.

The year 1917 opened with the death of Rasputin as the talk of Russia.

So much has been written about this notorious scamp that it would only be a tiresome repetition to give a sketch of him here.

He was never allowed to come to the Headquarters of the Armies in the Field.

A brief summary, however, of what I gathered about him, touching as it does, unfortunately, on the life of the Empress, is almost necessary.

As I spent most of my time at Headquarters or in the field, I only paid occasional visits to Petrograd, and naturally did not endeavour to see him, or make inquiries on a question which, being in the mouths of everyone, was sufficiently discussed and talked about to make further probing into it unnecessary.

Since those days I have come to the following conclusions:

His influence over the Empress was undoubted. It arose over the history of the birth of her son a son being granted to her, she thought, owing to the prayers of this wicked and wandering monk.

The delicate health of the young heir was the cause of great anxiety to her, and she placed all her faith on Rasputin to keep the boy in health.

Next section: Diary in Russia - 1917

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