Telegram. Pskov. 1 October, 1915.
Hearty thanks for dear telegram - We miss you greatly. I sat with Alexey, played various games, walked about on the stations. I have just had dinner with Marie and the Generals. To-morrow I shall inspect the troops further on. Good-night. Sleep well...
NOTES: Alexey: the Tsarevitch was accompanying his father to G.H.Q. It was considered that his presence would have a favourable effect on the moral of the troops, and that he would gain an insight into military matters which would have a definite educative value in his training as the future Tsar. MARIE: the Grand Duchess Marie Pavlovna, who worked in the hospitals at Pskov.
Telegram. Rejitza. 2 October, 1915.
Thanks for news. I had the great joy to-day of seeing the wonderful 21St Corps. The weather is splendid, sunny. In thought I am with you and the children. We are now on our way to Mogilev. Alexey and I kiss you all fondly.
Telegram. Stavka. 3 October, 1915.
Hearty thanks for dear letter sent by courier. Of course the Little One was present at yesterday's magnificent review and was very pleased . We arrived during the night, left the train at 10 in the morning, and have settled down quite cosily. Clear but cold. We went for a walk in the wood. Both embrace you closely.
Telegram. Stavka. 4 October, 1915.
Sincerest thanks for dear letter; I have so far had no opportunity for writing. Thanks also for telegram. We had a little review, with a moleben (Te Deum), on the occasion of the Convoy's holiday. Baby had lunch with the others and is going to church this evening. We are toeether for the first night, it is very cosy. Both are in thought and in our hearts with you.
Telegram. Stavka. 5 October, 1915.
Thanks for good wishes. To-day in church we were in prayer with you and the girls. Yesterday evening I gave him your presents. He was delighted, especially with the big knife, which he took with him to bed. He is very cheerful, and is ready to take part in everything. It would be better if you arrived a few days later, as you wrote. Both kiss you tenderly and fondly.
Telegram. Stavka. 6 October. 1915.
My heartfelt thanks to you for your dear letter and to our Friend for his greetings. In thought I am always with you. We have both been very busy, replying to telegrams and thanking for congratulations. The weather is good, somewhat calmer. The news is good. Both kiss you fondly.
Mogilev. 6 October, 1915.
MY PRECIOUS LITTLE BIRD,
Afy warmest thanks for your loving letter; I am in despair at not having written once since we left, but really, I am occupied here every minute from 2.30 to 6. And the Little One's presence takes up part of my time too, for which, of course, I am not sorry. His company gives light and life to all of us, including the foreigners.
It is very cosy sleeping side by side. I say prayers with him every night since the time when we were on the train; he says his prayers too fast, and it is difficult to stop him. He was tremendously pleased with the review; lie followed me, and stood the whole time while the troops were marching past, which was splendid. I shall never forget this review. The weather was excellent and the general impression astounding.
Life here goes on as usual. Alexey lunched in his room with Mr. Gilliard only on the first day, and after that he begged hard to be allowed to lunch with all of us. He sits on my left hand and behaves well, but sometimes he becomes inordinately gay and noisy, especially when I am talking with the others in the drawing-room. In any case, it is pleasant for them, and makes them smile.
Before the evening, we go out in a car (in the morning he plays in the garden), either into the wood or on the bank of the river, where we light a fire and I walk about near by.
I am surprised at the amount he is able, and wishes, to walk, without complaining of being tired! He sleeps well, as I do too, in spite of the bright light of his lampadka (ikon lamp). He wakes up early in the mornings, between 7-8, sits up in bed and begins to talk quietly to me. I answer him drowsily, he settles down and lies quiet - until I am called.
Paul is very charming and modest; we have had some delightful talks. He knows about his wife's letter and is displeased with it.
God bless you, my Sunny, my beloved Wify! I kiss you and the girls tenderly. A. as well.
NOTES: Mr. GILLIARD: Pierre Gilliard, a gentle and affectionate Swiss. not lacking in shrewd observation, tutor to the Tsarevitch, and loyally devoted to the Imperial Family. In 1917 he bravely accompanied the family to Tobolsk, and wasseparated from them at Ekaterinburg by the Bolsheviks. His book is one of the best which has been written on the last days of the Romanovs, and contains photographs of extraordinary interest. His kindly nature made him a general favourite.
Mogilev. 7 October, 1913
MY DEAR, PRECIOUS WIFY,
My warmest thanks for your dear letter. You have suddenly numbered your last two letters No. 465 and 466 running ahead by a whole hundred - the last before these was No. 364. Agoosenki! Please thank all the girls their letters.
There is no sun to-day for the first time - it has bec grey and dreary; my report was finished earlier than usual and I went into the little garden where Alexey was marching about, singing loudly, and Derevenko, was walking on another path, whistling. I had not been there since the day of our arrival. His left hand hurts him a little, because yesterday he worked in the sand on the river bank, but he pays no attention to it and is very cheerful. After lunch he always rests for about half an hour, and Mr. Gilliard reads to him, while I write. At the table, he sits on my left: George is usually his neighbour. Alexey loves to tease him. It is extraordinary how he has lost his shyness! He always follows me when I greet my gentlemen, and stands still during our zakouska.
You must save up your strength now, to be able to stand the fatiguing journey here I Please.
The news which comes from all our fronts is good - with the exception of the vicinity of Riga, where our troops have abandoned their advanced positions too quickly. Three Generals will pay for this - I gave Rouzsky orders to dismiss them and to replace them by better ones; they are my first victims, but deservedly so.
The little Admiral had not answered my letter then, but now he asks for leave to go to Kislovodsk for a short cure.
Well, my little bird, it is time to finish, as the train is leaving earlier than usual. God bless you and the girls I
With warm good wishes and most ardent love always, my precious darling,
Your loving old
NOTES: DEREVENKO: a sailor orderly who was one of the attendants of the Tsarevitch. He deserted the family at the time of the Revolution.
Sir J. Hanbury-Williams gives a pleasant account of Alexey's life at the Stavka. During the time of the zakouska (hors d'oeuvres, eaten standing at a side table) "every conceivable game went on, a 'rag,' in fact, ending most likely with a game of football with anything which came handy... The devoted tutor was almost in despair, and it generally ended with the intervention Of the Emperor."
In the day following that on which this letter was written, the Inenly was ten miles to the east of Riga, and the withdrawal to which the Tsar here refers was absolutely necessary. The present editor has been unable to trace the names of the generals who were to be disgraced, nor is there any record of dismissals at this time.
Telegram. Stavka. 8 October, 1915.
Thanks for dear letter. The news is good. Our attack on Baranovitchi yesterday was successful; we have taken a great number of prisoners. I have again no time to write. It is cloudy, cold...
Telegram. Stavka. 9 October, 1915.
Hearty thanks for letter and postcards: I think them very good. I hope that you are not too tired. Admiral Phillimore appeared here to-day, dined and brought me a letter from Georgie. It is cold, dull. The hand is well. Both kiss you fondly.
NOTES: PHILLIMORE: Admiral Sir Richard Fortescue Phillimore, K.C.B. He commanded "Inflexible" at the Battle of the Falkland Islands in 1914, and also at the bombardment of the Dardanelles forts. He was a Beach Master at Gallipoli. From October 1915 to December 1916 he was attached to the Imperial Stavka.
Mogilev. 9 October, 1915
MY BELOVED SUNNY,
I do not know how to thank you for your sweet letters, which bring me daily so much joy t It seems that the trains are running better now - the courier leaves here at 2 o'clock after midday - and that is why I have no time to write. After lunch there is alwavs some one who has to be received, while Baby is resting. At 2.30 I go out, because the days after dinner have become short.
On Sunday, the day after to-morrow, we are going to Berditchev, where old Ivanov is stationed. I should like to see him, and perhaps review some troops, if there should be any in the neighbourhood, while the Ray of Sunshine is with me, and return here on Tuesday - at the latest on Wednesday - it depends on the day of your arrival here. I hope you will approve of this trip. I telegraphed on purpose. Paul is going to Tsarskoe Selo, also on Sunday. - This is the reason: -
I am sure that you remember my wish of old, to collect our Guards into one group as a personal reserve. It took a whole month to fish them out of the fighting lines. Besobrazov will be appointed chief of this group, which will consist of two Guard Corps: the 1st (already existing) and the 2nd, composed of our Rifles and those of Warsaw-of the Guard Division. Gen. Olokhov will command the latter, and I offered the first to Paul, who accepted with joy and gratitude. That is why he is returning, in order to prepare himself for a long period of absence!
I am sure that he will carry out his duties well - he will keep them in hand, and they will all help him their former commander!
When I informed Paul of this intention of mine, he wept, and nearly suffocated me - he is so keen on taking part in the war!
Well, my little bird, my precious darling, I must finish. May God blessyou and your journey! I love you tenderly and kiss you passionately.
Ever your old
Telegram. Stavka. 10 October, 1915.
Thanks for dear letter and news. Thursday will be quite convenient. It will be best not to write again. The news is still good. To-morrow, in the course of the dav, I am going away for two days; the details are in my last letter. Paul is in bed - his old illness again, - he will have to stay here...
Telegram. Jlobin. 11 October, 1915
Many thanks for telegram. We are travelling well. The weather is sunny. Alexey and I embrace you closely.
Telegram. Berditchev. 12 October, 1915.
We are going for several hours to Rovno with General Ivanov. We wish you a happy journey with all our heart.
We embrace you closely.
NOTES: This was the first visit of the Tsarevitch to the front. Ivanov joined the train at Berditchev, and General Broussilov joined the party at Rovno. After inspecting the troops, the Tsar and his son paid a surprise visit to a dressing-station after nightfall. It was a little building, faintly lit by torches. The wounded men could hardly believe that the Tsar was among them, and one of them raised his hand and touched his coat as he passed, to assure himself that it was no dream. Alexey was "profoundly moved" (Gilliard, p. 126).
Telegram. Kiev. 14 October, 1915.
Yesterday we spent an unforgettable day among the troops. The impressions are of the very best. We thank you for the last letters. We look forward to our meeting to-morrow, and embrace you.
Telegram. Reval. 28 October. 19t5.
I have arrived safely. All the morning I drove round the fortifications in a car, saw lets of troops, among them the regiment of Sherekhovsky and the artillery from Osovetz. All look splendid. Bright, cold weather. I thank you tenderly for,the news and kiss all. NICKY.
Telegram. Venden. 29 October, 1915.
Yesterday, in the early afternoon, I visited our and the English submarines. Interesting in the highest degreesplendid young men. Then two factories, docks, and the naval hospital. To-day it is much warmer. I shall telegraph in the evening...
Telegram. 29 Orsha, 1915.
Inspected three regiments of various Siberian troops and the cavalry behind Riga. It is warm, rainy, no snow. Went to a large, beautiful hospital. Heard firing in the distance. The impressions are very good...
Telegram. Orsha. 30 October, 1915.
Am very grateful for letters and telegram. In Vitebsk I inspected the wonderful fighting Division. Am extremely satisfied with its magnificent appearance. Alexey accompanied me everywhere during these days. To-day we are spending the night in the train, as we are travelling behind time. All is well. Both embrace you closely.
Mogilev. 31 October, 1915
MY PRECIOUS SUNNY,
Here we are again in our old rooms, which are well arranged and put in order. The weather is luckily dry and bright - 8 degrees of warmth. This is very pleasant after the terribly cold day in Reval.
For the rest, the time spent there has proved very successful and interesting.
All the morning Baby and I drove about the neighbourhood in a car, getting out to inspect our troops near their positions and defences, which are skilfully hidden in the Woods or placed in the open fields.
I Was amazed at the amount which has been done during the war, but much more remains to be done in order to complete all that is necessary. In spite of a closed car, and the fact that we were warmly clad, we all felt cold, and returned joyfully to have lunch in the train. At 2 o'clock We continued our tour, and visited the old "Europe," which is now the senior of our English submarines.
Fancy, they are all commanded by the little Podgoursky! I was so pleased to be on board and to speak to the English officers and sailors. I thanked them all on the deck, and rewarded some of them with decorations for their last exploits ("Prince Albert" and "Undine"). Our people praise them highly, and they have become great friends - real comrades!
Alexey climbed everywhere and crept into every possible hole-I even overheard him talking freely to a lieutenant, asking him questions about various matters! Then we drove to two new naval factories, a shipbuilding yard and one for engines - very interesting! Paid a short visit to the naval hospital - 250 sick, and only 4 wounded sailors. It was dark already when we returned to our train. From tea till dinner-time I listened to Admiral Kanin's long report -in the presence of Grigorovitch. All the naval authorities and four English officers dined with us, and at 9 o'clock we left Reval, after spending a strenuous but instructive day. We travelled all night through a snowstorm, and arrived in Venden on Thursday morning, where Gen. Gorbatovsky met us and came into the train. At 1 o'clock we passed through Riga, and stopped at a little station outside the town.
Here Gen. Radko-Dmitriev was waiting for us, beside a magnificent Guard of Honour composed of the 4th Ekaterinoslav Dragoon Regiment. The parade-ground was not far off, where an inspection of two mixed regiments of Siberian Rifles took place; among them were Mamma's and Alexey's regiments. They looked very well. The booming of the guns reached us from the distance - our successful attack was being launched at that very moment. On our way back to the train, we went into a large hospital full of seriously wounded, poor souls.
As we had started with an hour's delay, we passed Pskov at 12:15 at night, and I had to receive Rouszky for about an hour, so that I did not succeed in going to bed before 2 o'clock. Slept splendidly till 10.30 on Friday morning.
The weather was warm, but it mined in torrents.
At 2 o'clock we arrived at Vitebsk and went straight to the inspection of the 78th Infantry Division. It poured with rain, and the field was covered with pools of water, to Baby's great delight.
This Division distinguished itself in the Carpathian battles. When it arrived here a month ago it numbered only 98o men - this for a division! Now it has again reached the complement of 15,000. Above 3000 have returned to their regiments - all with Crosses of St. George. They had a magnificent appearance - like the Guards. On our way to the station we went into the cathedral, which was packed with people. We arrived at Mogilev after dinner, but spent the night in our cosy train. This morning at 10 we moved across. Alexey ran into the garden, and I went to hear the report, which naturally proved to be a long one. To-day it was quiet along the whole of the front - only perestrelka (crossfire). All our foreign friends met us with cordial faces - Alexey and his fat Belgian smiled at each other across the table. We had our usual drive in the car, walked and kindled a fire by the roadway.
Now, my beloved darling, it is time for me to finish. I am so grateful to you for your letters ! Tenderly, tenderly I kiss you and the girls. God bless you!
Ever your hubby
NOTES: PODGOURSKY: a Captain in the Submarine Section of the Baltic Fleet. GRIGOROVITCH: Admiral Grigorovitch, the Minister of Marine. GORBATOVSKY: General V. N. Gorbatovsky, commanded in succession the 3rd Grenadier Division, the 19th Army Corps, the 1st, 12th and 6th Armies. He was dismissed after the February Revolution.
The "fat Belgian" was Baron de Ricquel, the Belgian military attaché at the Stavka. He was the special friend of the Tsarevitch, and used to take part in the improvised games of football.