And honor - to anyone!
In the first months of the Great War, France was on the verge of disaster. As a result of the swift advance of the German armed forces through Belgium, the French army, which was preparing to accept the battle in Alsace, was bypassed from the north. The Anglo-French troops did not have time to unite, 7 August 1914 were forced to take the fight in three different groups, and suffered a crushing defeat. The Germans invaded France on a wide front and almost took the French army into ticks ... But then the German General Headquarters was forced to transfer part of its troops to the east: On August 17, the Russian army crossed the border of East Prussia. As it is known, as a result, the East Prussian operation turned into the defeat of the 2 Army under the command of General Samsonov and the withdrawal of the 1 Army under the command of General Rennenkampf to their original positions. But ... France was saved.
A year later, in the autumn of 1915, Senator Paul Doumer (later the French president) arrived in St. Petersburg with the assignment to arrange to send 300 thousands of Russian soldiers to the Western Front who would have to fight under the command of French officers. In return, France promised to organize the supply of weapons, which was so necessary for the Russian army. Chief of Staff of the Stavka Supreme Commander General M.V. Alekseev was categorically opposed to changing people for rifles. This project was also considered "of little use from the moral side" by the French military.
... Nikolai Aleksandrovich Lokhvitsky was born in 1867 (according to other sources, in 1868) in a noble family in St. Petersburg. His father, Alexander Vladimirovich Lokhvitsky, a well-known lawyer at the time, was a doctor of law, author of a course in criminal law and other essays and articles noted, according to contemporaries, “clarity and talent of presentation”. Mother, Varvara Alexandrovna (nee Goyer), came from a Russianized Russian family, loved literature and passed on her hobby to her daughters, one of whom later became a famous writer (Nadezhda Lokhvitskaya - Teffi), and the other - a famous poetess (Mirra / Maria / Lokhvitskaya) .
Nikolai Lokhvitsky graduated from 1887 in the Moscow Cadet Corps in 4, graduated in the first category 1889 from the Konstantin Military School in St. Petersburg in 2, and in 1900 in the Nikolaev Military Academy in 2. General Staff for the second category. The future general began his military service in the 105 infantry regiment of the Orenburg regiment, then departed the command qualification with the rank of second lieutenant in the Izmailovsky Life Guards regiment. Later he served in the Pavlovsk military school with enrollment in the Guards infantry, in the positions of librarian, quartermaster, adjutant of the school. In the rank of captain took part in the Russian-Japanese war 1904-1905. In December, 1906 was promoted to colonel, in 1907, he was transferred to the 145 Infantry Regiment of the Novocherkassk Emperor Alexander ΙΙΙ Regiment and was appointed junior head officer. 30 May 1912 became the commander of the 95 Infantry Regiment of Krasnoyarsk.
In August-September, the 1914 95 Infantry Regiment of the Krasnoyarsk Regiment under the command of Lokhvitsky as a part of General Samsonov's 2 Army took part in the East Prussian operation.
During the Lodz operation, Lokhvitsky was seriously wounded at Prasnysz and awarded with St. George weapons and the Order of St. George of the Victorious 4 degree “because in the battle of 8 December 1914, commanding the brigade, after the enemy took part of our positions in the right combat area and the stronghold, which threatened to clear positions , on his own initiative, moved one regiment forward to attack the enemy who had broken through, while the other sent him to action in the flank. With his orders, skillful action and personal control of the attacking units, being under the disastrous fire of the enemy all the time, he knocked the enemy out of the stronghold and the trenches he occupied, which not only ensured the retention of the left combat area in our hands, but also prevented the loss of the entire position. ”
In February, 1915 Lokhvitsky was promoted to major general, in April of the same year he became the commander of the brigade of the 25 th infantry division, and in May - the commander of the brigade of the 24 th infantry division. 21 January 1916 G. General Lokhvitsky was appointed commander of the 1 Special Infantry Brigade, sent to France.
Sending the brigade across the Baltic Sea was too risky due to the high activity of German submarines, so the journey to France was a long one. First, across the whole of Russia to the Far East by rail, then on three French and two Russian steamers on the route Dalian-Saigon-Colombo (Ceylon) -Aden-Suez Canal-Marseille. The daughter of Marshal of the Soviet Union Rodion Malinovsky, who served as a private soldier in the 1 Brigade, recalled the father’s stories about the transition: “You can’t be compared to moving across Siberia to the ships. Tightness, cold at first, and then tropical heat, and even bad food and illness. They sailed through the Yellow and South China Seas to the Indian Ocean, past Sumatra, stopping in Ceylon, where in Colombo there was a parade under the “Nightingale, nightingale, birdie”.
Finally 20 April 1916, the brigade arrived in the port of Marseille. According to the memoirs of Count Alexei Ignatiev, at that time a former military agent in France and at the same time a representative of the Russian army at the French main apartment, Lokhvitsky was the first to go ashore: “A rather tall blond man, elegantly dressed in a marching uniform, with military orders, he holds on to that cheeky , almost careless manner, which many Guards officers, even after leaving the regiment, seemed to be trying to show their superiority over the intimidated army team. Russian soldiers were enthusiastically greeted on French soil. According to eyewitnesses, the balconies and houses were decorated with carpets and garlands of Russian and French flags. The Russians were greeted with flowers and wine, and even when the soldiers were placed in the barracks, baskets and bags of food were thrown over the fence.
Great impression on the French made bearing and appearance of Russian soldiers. In the Special Brigade selected tall, strong, beautiful, competent fighters of the Orthodox faith. In particular, the 30 best soldiers were selected from the 56 of thousands of people in the military garrison of the city of Kuznetsk.
The command staff consisted mainly of officers of the Imperial Life Guards, who owned the French language. Lokhvitsky himself, thanks to his French mother, mastered the French perfectly.
The special brigades that were part of the Russian Expeditionary Corps were formed differently than the usual units of the Russian army. A special brigade consisted of two infantry regiments, each of which included three combat battalions, a 4-th reserve battalion of six companies and a machine-gun command from 12 machine guns.
After a short stop in Marseilles, the Russian regiments were transferred to the Maya camp in Champagne, incorporated into General Xouro's 4 Army and reorganized according to the French model: four rifle companies - a battalion, three battalions - a regiment. As a result, instead of one in each regiment, there were three machine-gun teams. After equipping them with Hotchkiss 8 machine guns, which were in service with the French army, the total number of machine guns per regiment increased to 36. “From one machine-gun team to the regiment had to deploy three teams - one for the battalion. Of course, no one could even dream of such an abundance of machine guns in the regiment on the Russian-German front, ”R. Ya. Malinovsky.
The experience of the 1 Brigade was to show how the soldiers would feel far from their homeland, so the French authorities made sure that the Russians were provided with everything they needed. Local newspapers of that time noted “a cheerful look, lack of fatigue, despondency, and discontent among Russian soldiers.” In the first ten days, soldiers and officers studied the new weapons (the technical equipment of the French troops was more modern and fully met the requirements of a positional war). The next two weeks were devoted to the study of the peculiarities of the French front and the tactics of hostilities. At the same time, the training of specialists began: telephonists, signalmen, sappers, bombers, machine gunners. Shooting, practical training at the site, where samples were built front fortifications, and intensive training of specialists continued until the appearance at the front. The Russian troops in France seemed to have a double subordination: they were part of the French army and operatively came at the disposal of the front commander, but were legally subordinate to the representative of the Supreme Commander of the Russian army.
On the night of 17 on June 1916, the brigade began combat service, taking up positions at the front in Champagne, where the 4-I French army was stationed under the command of General Gouret. The baptism of 1 — I received a special brigade soon on arrival at the front — 27 June. After a powerful artillery preparation, the Germans went on the attack, parts of the 1 regiment faltered under their onslaught and rushed to escape, but Second Lieutenant Bykovsky, with one stack in his hands, managed to stop the runners, gather them around him and fight off the enemy attack. He became the first of the entire brigade, who was noted in the order for the 4 Army, and received the Order of St. Anne 4.
Russian scout volunteers, not limited to clarifying information about the location of the enemy and the capture of prisoners, destroyed individual posts and firing points. The first Russian soldier who fell on the French front was Private Yevgraf Kandal.
During the shelling, he remained at the observation post and died. According to the memoirs of his company commander, "the French government appointed the wife of the deceased a life pension, and provided the child with education at the expense of the French government." The first dead Russian officer was Lieutenant Blofeld. His reconnaissance squad was ambushed, a battle ensued, during which Blofeld was struck down by fragments of a hand grenade. The military reconnaissance raid of the group of junior non-commissioned officer G. Kotov and corporal A. Kalmykov was more successful: they returned alive, taking two prisoners, two rifles with ammunition and two boxes of hand grenades. Members of the attacks took General Lokhvitsky. All of them received the St. George crosses, Kalmykov was given the rank of junior non-commissioned officer, and his three comrades were promoted to the corporal.
On July 16, after the artillery barrage, the Germans attacked the location of the 1 Special Regiment, but on the way to the Russian positions were met with a counterattack and rejected with bayonets and fire. The enemy then lost 100 people killed and wounded. 10 German soldiers were captured. The losses of the Russians amounted to 13 people killed and 36 wounded. The French command noted with satisfaction that "the Russians are still masters of the bayonet battle."
In July-November 1916. 1-I The Special Brigade took part in the battle on the Somme - the well-known offensive operation of the French-British forces. The fiercest battle for Russian soldiers was 5 of September: during the 12 hours they beat off five strongest enemy attacks, more than once they met with the Germans in hand-to-hand combat. On that day, the losses amounted to 35% of the total personnel of the 1 Special Brigade. The main blow took over the 9-I company of the 2-th Special Regiment, where two thirds of the fighters were out of action. For this battle, General Gouret granted the 3 Battalion of the 2 Regiment the Military Cross with palm branches - one of the most prestigious French awards.
Unlike the French divisions, military doctors were not part of the staff of Russian special brigades, and there were no hospitals. After heavy fighting many of the wounded were sent to French hospitals or hospitals.
There they were often assisted in the second or third place - after the French and the British. The Russians did not always have enough medicines, medicines, and even places in the wards: the seriously wounded lay on the floor in the corridors.
The main blow was planned to inflict in the area of the city of Reims. 1 was assigned the task of seizing the village of Kursi near Reims. On April 13, the personnel read out the order of General Baseler, commander of the VII Corps: “Brave soldiers of the first special Russian brigade! You have to start a big battle hand in hand with the VII Army Corps, who was beating the enemy in Champagne, at Verdun and on the Somme. All Russia is looking at you from afar. France is counting on you. Forward with your characteristic courage! Forward with your characteristic rush! With God's help, the Russians and the French will beat the common enemy. Victory belongs to the one who wants it more. ” Judging by the general outcome of the battle, which became the largest battle of the First World War and entered history under the name "Nivel Massacre", the Germans wished for victory at that moment more. But perhaps the only success of the Entente in this great battle was achieved precisely in sector VII of the Corps, with the active participation of the Russian Special Brigades.
However, both the French and the Russian command could not be completely sure that the Russian soldiers would take part in the attack: the consequences of the February revolution had an effect. On April 15, the first meeting of the newly convened regimental councils was held in the cellar of Saint-Thierry’s castle. On the agenda was the question of whether to go on the attack. The resolution of the brigade delegate assembly adopted after the three-hour debate said: “We, conscious fighters of free Russia, being its loyal sons in military service in the 1 special infantry brigade, are committed to unquestioningly carry out the order of the brigade’s command and take part in the upcoming attack ".
At 6 on the morning of April 16 on April 1917, the leading companies of the 1 Brigade went on the attack. On the approach to the German trenches, they were met by a dense machine-gun and enemy artillery fire. On the flanks, the movement stopped, but in the center the front was broken through. Russian soldiers broke into Kursi, overcoming the desperate resistance of the Germans. Having occupied the village, the fighters of the 1 th brigade fought off the enemy's counterattacks for some time and cleared the rear of certain groups of German soldiers who continued to shoot back, even when they were surrounded. In the meantime, German artillery conducted fierce shelling of Russian battalions. Losses grew, General Lokhvitsky himself was contused twice.
The French paid tribute to the courage of the Russian soldiers and the general talent of General Lokhvitsky. In their reports of the April operation, the French commanders called the Russian attack "brilliant."
Russian regiments were awarded the French Military crosses with a palm branch. “The 16 Selection Brigade of April 1917, under the energetic command of its commander, General N.A. Lokhvitsky brilliantly seized all the objects of attack. Having completed their efforts, despite the heavy losses, especially in the officer corps, it repelled all attempts by the enemy to take the plot they lost. /… / The 3-I Russian Special Brigade as part of the 5-th and 6-th special infantry regiments, carefully prepared by their commander, General V.V. Marushevsky, showed brilliant exposure in battle. Having received an order to seize a fortified point, she went on the attack with great valor, overcoming the deadly fire of the enemy, ”said General Mazel’s orders of April 25 and of May 1 of 1917. .
However, in other parts of the front could not break through. The Allied armies suffered huge losses in unsuccessful attempts to overcome the German defenses. At the insistence of the government, the operation was discontinued. So the reckless fervor of Nivelle, who tried to achieve victory without support in the Russian theater of operations, not only frustrated the joint offensive on all fronts, but also buried the hopes of the allies to end the war in 1917. Nivelles himself was removed from the post of commander in chief, General Petain took his place.
Russian units were withdrawn from combat positions and sent to the area of the city of Limoges in the camp of La-Curtin, to the rear. The huge loss in the personnel of the brigades after the “Slaughter of Nivel” was almost impossible to fill. For obvious reasons, reinforcements from revolutionary Russia did not arrive, and the number of marching battalions decreased every day. Nikolai Lokhvitsky and Vladimir Marushevsky asked for their brigade reinforcements in 110 officers and 5800 soldiers. The bid did not fail and even began to develop a plan for sending replenishment to the French front ... but not earlier than June. Meanwhile, due to the huge losses, the morale of the Special Brigades began to fall. The discipline, which in 1916 was not distinguished by impeccability, continued to deteriorate. The increased revolutionary and pacifist propaganda bore fruit: the soldiers insistently demanded that their participation in the war on the French front be stopped and immediately sent to Russia. 1 May 1917 The Russian soldiers came out to demonstrate under red banners (regimental banners were by that time “annulled” at the request of the committees and sent to the office of the military agent in Paris), with the singing of “Marseillaise” and “Internationale”. However, in mid-May, the project of uniting 1916's Special Brigades into 2's Special Infantry Division under the command of General Lokhvitsky, conceived back in 1, was carried out.
It should be noted that one of the consequences of the unsuccessful offensive of Nivelles was the spread of anti-war propaganda among British and French troops - the tension reached its highest point when the two corps rebelled and marched towards Paris.
The number of deserters grew. In the French and British troops, discipline was restored by fairly tough measures, which the French command had no right to use in the Russian units: internal conflicts in the Special Brigades were Russia's business.
The interim government at that time was concerned about more pressing issues than the state of the foreign contingent. Therefore, the French were in no hurry to push a special division into combat positions. A vicious circle was formed: being in the rear in an atmosphere of inaction and anarchy contributed to the further disintegration of the soldiers. Chaos began. The soldiers refused to carry out orders from commanders and demanded to return them to their homeland.
The command of the division decided to leave the active opponents of the war in La Curtin, and those who remained loyal to military duty were sent to the Cournot camp, not far from Bordeaux. Thus, the Russians in France were divided into Kurtins and Kurnovs. Not having obtained permission from the French authorities and the Provisional Government to return to Russia, the Kurtins revolted. There was a split. During these events, the bear’s favorite, brought by the bear Mishka, was in the camp and suffered from angry soldiers who deliberately scalded him with boiling water.
11 July 1917, early in the morning, loyal soldiers with all the officers leave the camp and pass, bristling with bayonets and loaded machine guns on both sides, between two walls of an angry mob. The procession closed the faithful Bear, surrounded by guards.
The rebel soldiers were surrounded by two rings of Russian and French troops. On the morning of September 3, 1917 began an artillery bombardment of the camp. Russians from French guns fired on their countrymen. More than five hundred artillery shots were fired. So on a foreign land began the Russian Civil War. 10 September the resistance of the rebels was broken. The leader of the Rio Globa and 80 leaders were convicted by a military court. Part of the rebels were thrown into prison, several thousand were sent to hard labor in North Africa, the rest - to work in the rear in France.
In November 1917, the new Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau offered the Russians three options for solving the current problem: the volunteers remain in the army; others go to the workers' battalions, others will be deported to North Africa.
From 19 031 soldier 11 522 people enrolled in the working squads, 252 people - in the Russian Legion, 4 746 soldiers were sent to North Africa and 2 099 people were in hospitals.
Of those who agreed to fight, General Lokhvitsky and Colonel Gotua formed the Russian Legion, in which all officers of the Expeditionary Force expressed their desire to serve. But the Legion did not need so many officers, and positions had to be drawn by lot. Those who were unlucky became the heads of the working teams.
The formed division of Russian volunteers entered the Moroccan division of the Foreign Legion of the French Army. The division was sent to the very inferno.
From the Memo "Russian Expeditionary Corps", compiled by the captain of the II nd Special Regiment V.A. Vasiliev: “The heroism of the Russian warrior in France reached an extraordinary height in the combat work of the Russian Legion, which was incorporated into the Moroccan Shock Division, the best Division of France. The historian writes "who are these wonderful people who shouting incomprehensible words that seem seemingly impossible - they pass through the death zone that neither the Zouaves nor the shooters could pass through. They are Russians of the Moroccan Division. GLORY TO them."
May 1918. Germans abandon their best forces and break through the front of the French army. In one leap, they jump over the Chemin de Dame plateau, crossing the En river. The road to Paris is open. Thrown to the rescue, the Moroccan division, riding on the Soissons-Paris highway, takes upon itself the full blow of the German boot. But the Germans put fresh forces into battle and thrust the Zuavas in the center. At this critical moment, when it seemed that everything was already lost, the last reserve rushed to the counterattack - the Russian Legion. The historian writes: “The Russian Legion rushes forward, with the officers ahead. Even the doctors, full of enthusiasm of this glorious phalanx, have forgotten their direct mission of mercy and, together with the soldiers, rush into the ranks of the enemy ...”. This fight cost the life of the Russian Legion, which has lost 85% of its composition and almost all the officers. Then the French press of that time for the first time adds a flattering word and calls it "The Russian Legion of Honor."
Later, the Russian Legion receives a long-awaited recruitment from volunteers of special regiments and, as part of a separate battalion, takes part in breaking through the fortified line of the Hindenburg. For the sacrifice with which the Russian Legion performed its maneuver, courage and courage with which it carried out under enemy fire, he will be presented for the award by the French commander-in-chief and will receive the "Military Cross" and "Furager" on the banner.
If the breach in the fortified line of Hindenburg was not deep enough and did not bring a final decision, then the enemy’s morality was so undermined that he began to withdraw his troops ... The Russian regiment was transferred to Lorraine, but the rumors about negotiations began to spread.
After the truce, the Russian Legion entered Germany, where he was sent to the city of Worms, assigned to him for the occupation. Great was the surprise and indignation of the Germans, when they learned that the occupying forces were Russian. Our national white-blue-red flag developed on the banks of the Rhine. The word given by the Sovereign and Russia to the allies, represented by the Russian Legion of Honor, is contained.
During 10 months of military service, 24 officer, 3 doctor, father, 7 officers and translators of the French service and 994 noncommissioned officer and legionnaire passed through the Russian Legion. During the same period, the Russian Legion lost killed and wounded 16 officers, three doctors, father, 6 officers and translators of the French service and 523 non-commissioned officer and legionnaire.
General Lokhvitsky in the order on the Russian base, announcing the names of the Russian legionaries killed in the battles, wrote: “May there be peace with the dust of these heroes of duty who brought their lives to the Altar of the Fatherland during the difficult times that our homeland is going through. The memory of them will remain unforgettable. Glory and eternal memory to the lost comrades! ”
Forty-five thousand soldiers of the Russian Expeditionary Corps stood at a farewell of five hundred people.
The words of Marshal of France Ferdinand Foch were addressed to the living and the fallen: "The fact that France was not erased from the map of Europe, we owe above all to Russia."
... And Mishka together with the Russian troops went through the whole war. He survived gas attacks, chlorine poisoning, and veterinarians prescribed him a special diet.
Together with the Russian Legion, he "participated" in the battles, and after the end of the First World War, he spent the rest of his days in the Paris Zoological Garden. The former is always free, he could not get used to the cage ...
General Lokhvitsky in 1919-m went to Russia, where he joined the troops of Admiral Kolchak. He commanded the 3-m Ural mountain corps, then the 1-th army and, after re-formation, the 2-th army. Was sent to A.V. Kolchak to Irkutsk to prepare for moving there Stakes and the government, as well as for negotiations with Ataman G.M. Semenov. In 1920, he led the Far Eastern Army. In October of the same year, with part of the troops, he came out of subordination to ataman Semyonov and recognized as the only commander-in-chief of the Russian armed forces, General P.N. Wrangel.
In December, 1920 returned to Europe. From 1923 he lived in Paris. From 1927, he headed the Society of Monarchist-Legitimists and the Council on Military and Naval Affairs under Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich. At the start of the 1930s, he was promoted to General of Infantry.
He died on November 5 1935, and was buried in the Russian cemetery in Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois near Paris. On the monument there is an inscription: “Nikolai Alexandrovich Lokhvitsky, General of Infantry, Commander of the Russian Expeditionary Corps in France”.
In France, in 3,5 km from the city of Murmelon, a temple-monument in the name of the Resurrection of Christ was erected, built in 1937 on the initiative of General Lokhvitsky and on the project of A.A. Benoit in memory of the dead Russian soldiers.
The temple stands in the military cemetery of Saint-Hilaire-le-Grand, on which the remains of an 831 warrior are buried under Orthodox crosses. Every year, on the feast of the Trinity, a large memorial service for Russian soldiers who fell for France takes place in the church.
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