Tag Archives: Mandalorian

Gurkhas Still Gurking, Despite the Coof

In the past, we’ve extensively covered the Nepalese Gurkhas and, how their continued overseas (basically mercenary) service in the British Army, Indian Army, Royal Brunei military, and Singapore Police Force, is both highly sought-after by the contracting branch and life-changing for the Gurkha.

While the recent COVID restrictions have wrought havoc around the globe, the Brits still managed to have the required 340-strong Gurkha trainee draft fully fleshed out “despite one of the most challenging selection procedures in history.”

Ayo Gorkhali

Field Marshal Viscount Slim, who had plenty of experiences in which Gurkhas saved his bacon, in his Unofficial History, said, “The Almighty created in the Gurkhas an ideal infantryman, indeed an ideal Rifleman, brave, tough, patient, adaptable, skilled in field-craft, intensely proud of his military record and unswerving loyalty.”

Official caption: “A Royal Gurkha soldier of A (Gallipoli) Company (CO), 1ST Battalion (BN), The Highlanders, United Kingdom (UK) Army, takes time from searching for illegal weapons to say hello to a little boy in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Royal Gurkhas played a key roll in searching house-to-house for illegal weapons during Operation TIMBERWOLF. The search in the Prijedor area near Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina under Operation JOINT FORGE found over 40 tons of weapons and ammunition during the three-week TIMBERWOLF operation by the Stabilization Force peacekeepers, 9/18/2003”

DOD DF-SD-05-12255 via National Archives

With a reputation of being heroic and honorable, one of the last true cultivated warrior castes, there are numerous stories of Gurkhas also being heartwarming.

Testing the Bhojpure

Matt Easton of Schola Gladiatoria has been cleaning and testing a relic Bhojpure kukri (khukuri) from the large collection of original 19th century Nepalese Government military stores that IMA and Atlanta Cutlery scored back in 2003. Of course, he is a little late to the party as I picked up one of these a few years back and found it to be just a remarkable edged weapon. Truly excellent once you got the yak grease off.

Here is Matt testing it:

Speaking of Gurkas, this year’s intake at Infantry Training Centre Catterick has gone off swimmingly.

However, with Nepal still in COVID-19 lockdown, the 2021 Intake could be delayed, which could mean some uncertainty in the manning of the Brigade of Gurkhas, the Indian Army’s seven Gorkha regiments, and the Singapore Police Force’s Gurkha Contingent.

Gorkhas, Gurkhas, Gurkha and Gorkhali

In honor of the whole “May the 4th be with you” thing, let’s talk a bit about the current deployment of the most real-life Mandalorians, the homegrown warriors of Nepal:

Britain

Ever read about the British Army’s (Cold War-era, 1947-94) Brigade of Gurkhas and wonder why the unit numbers are so wonky? For instance, the principal infantry units were four regiments, all of one battalion, each:

2nd King Edward VII’s Own Gurkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles)
6th Queen Elizabeth’s Own Gurkha Rifles
7th Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Gurkha Rifles
10th Princess Mary’s Own Gurkha Rifles

1/7th Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Gurkha Rifles Regiment boarding the Cunard liner Canberra for the Falklands to go fight the Argentinians, in 1982, note the M72 LAWS anti-tank rocket and copious L1A1 semi-auto inch pattern FALs

That’s because these hardy Nepalese fighters, which had been part of the British Army going back to an agreement with the circa 1815 East India Company, originally numbered 10 two-battalion regiments, numbered 1-10, in the British Indian Army in 1903 when that force was reformed. When India broke away from Britain and formed their own proper force in 1947, it was agreed between New Dehli and London to split these troops in a 4:6 ratio, so the Indians picked up:

1st King George V’s Own Gurkha Rifles (The Malaun Regiment)
3rd Queen Alexandra’s Own Gurkha Rifles
4th Prince of Wales’s Own Gurkha Rifles
5th Royal Gurkha Rifles (Frontier Force)
8th Gurkha Rifles
9th Gurkha Rifles

In more modern times, the names have morphed to a more British and Indian version.

In 1994, the four units still raised by the UK were all amalgamated into the Royal Gurkha Rifles, which form the bulk of today’s 3,600-man Brigade of Gurkhas. They stay up to strength through a yearly intake of 432 potential recruits– for which as many as 20,000 young Nepalese men apply. At the end of 36-weeks training, 270 are accepted.

British Gurkha recruits successfully complete their training at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick 2017 

Since 1858, no less than 26 members assigned to British Gurkha units have earned the VC. In 2010, Sgt. Dipprasad Pun, 1/RGR, was decorated with the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross (just under the VC) for single-handedly fought off a large Taliban attack on his lightly manned position. Pun is the grandson of Rifleman Tul Bahadur Pun, 3rd/6th Gurkha Rifles, who received the VC in 1944 for single-handedly charging and capturing two Japanese light machine guns in Burma.

Recently, some 120 Gurkhas from 10 Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment, usually based at Gale Barracks in Aldershot, have been busy at Wellington Barracks training to mount the Queen’s Guard in London for the next eight weeks. They will be standing guard on public order duty at Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace, Windsor Castle as well as over the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London.

Naturally, they have their kukris:

The Staff Captain, Captain Tom Mountain inspects every detail during the inspection of The Queen's Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment.

The Staff Captain, Captain Tom Mountain inspects every detail during the inspection of The Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment.

And will be using them in the Keys ceremony apparently.

A member of 10 Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment challenges on Guard during the drill practice for the Ceremony of the Keys The Queen's Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment Kukri

A member of 10 Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment challenges on Guard during the drill practice for the Ceremony of the Keys The Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment

Looks like the Queen is in good hands.

India

As for the Indians, they kept the old pre-1947 regimental numbers, dropped the royal tie-ins, and started spelling Gurka as the more correct “Gorkha.” They also expanded the force from six to seven regiments, each with a whopping 6-7 battalions, in essence, more than tripling the size. Today’s Indian Army now has the very robust:

1 Gorkha Rifles
3 Gorkha Rifles
4 Gorkha Rifles
5 Gorkha Rifles (Frontier Force)
8 Gorkha Rifles
9 Gorkha Rifles
11 Gorkha Rifles

They seem pretty hardy, too.

Singapore

Further, the Singapore Police Force has, since 1949, fielded their own 2,000-man Gurkha Contingent. They are kept whole by taking the 120 best candidates of the British Army’s yearly 423-man intake, who in turn sign a 27-year contract right out of the door.

As described by the SPF, “The GC was formed to provide a ‘strong-arm’ within the Police Force capable of quelling civil disturbance and carrying out specialist security tasks…These Gurkhas possess the qualities best suited to service in the Contingent, specifically: physical and mental robustness, resourcefulness and an uncomplaining dependability.”

An example of the “dependability” part of that, along with their notion of being “visibly invisible” in Singapore:

Brunei

Across from Singapore, the Sultanate of Brunei maintains the 2,000-strong Gurkha Reserve Unit (GRU), which was formed in 1974 as a special guard force of the Royal Brunei military, protecting the royal family, oil facilities and other vital infrastructure. Rather than recruiting directly from Nepal, members are formerly of British, Indian and Singapore units.

Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah, General of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces, inspecting local Gurka units

Since 1962 British Army Gurkhas have been based in Brunei. There is always one infantry battalion of The Royal Gurkha Rifles, supported by troops from The Queen’s Gurkha Engineers, The Queen’s Gurkha Signals, The Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment, and The Gurkha Staff and Personnel Support Company based in Tuker Lines, Seria, making later recruitment in the GRU an easy task.

Elsewhere, the Gurkha’s past service to the Commonwealth still lingers.

In Hong Kong, Chinese since 1997, there are some 40-50,000 ethnic Nepalese, descendants of Gurkhas stationed there over the years while it was a British colony and their families. They have a vibrant culture.

Back home

Plus, of course, there is the standing Nepali Army, also known as the Gorkhali Army, which numbers 95,000 men (and women) in eight divisions.

They have been fighting a low-key Maoist insurgency for years (the country shares a 900-mile Himalayan border with China), as well as sending thousands overseas on UN Peacekeeping duties, providing Geneva/New York their own smiling Gurka units on the cheap.

They have been on 58 missions since 1958.

A Gorkhali Army contingent in South Sudan, March 2019. Note the UN berets

Some 5,000 are on the UN’s dime right now.

Now that’s a blaster

For the record, this is not a factory option from Hudson– but it should be! (Photos: Chris Eger)

Making an appearance at a range day just before this year’s NRA Annual Meeting in Dallas was a Hudson blaster that looked a little far from its home world.

Elijah Henry, Hudson’s chief of product training, was on hand for the American Suppressor Association’s Fifth Annual Media Day at Elm Fork Shooting Sports with a selection of the company’s H9 and H9A handguns which were a crowd pleaser, but he also had what he described as a “shop gun” hidden away in a green kydex holster, because even intergalactic skip tracers choose kydex.

The customized Hudson 9mm is complete with Mandalorian and Clan Fett crests along with modified Metschan alphabetic script complementing the green, blue, yellow and red cerekote scheme as an homage to a certain bounty hunter from the Star Wars saga who has was inadvertently knocked into the open maw of the Sarlacc.

If only it had a disintegration switch.

Noveske Rifleworks is sure to get some hate mail, but you have to admit it’s a fly gat

This is not the Honey Badger you are looking for, it is officially “The Ghetto Blaster”

Teaming up with Kevin Brittingham and his team at Q to incorporate that company’s collapsible stock and bolt carrier group, Noveske’s “Ghetto Blaster” name is a homage to the old school boom boxes of the 1980s and 90s, which the very Honey Badger-esque series approximates in size.

And did I mention it is available in both .300BLK and 5.56mm?

Kinda reminds me of another slightly non-PC AR build out there: San Antonio-based Sons Of Liberty Gun Works custom pipe wrench fit for an intergalactic space merc and bounty hunter.

Dubbed the SOLGW EE-4 blaster, the rifle straight out of a galaxy far, far, away looks ready to “use when I’m snatching mothafuckas in outer space…”

The exiled White Russian officers, an 80 year odyssey

The classic representation of the White Russian officer in the West: the fictional notorious womanizer Count Wladyslaw Sergius Karamzin, portrayed in Universal’s B&W silent 1922 classic film Foolish Wives portrayed by Austrian-American actor Erich von Stroheim in the uniform of a Russian Captain of Hussars complete with a St. George Cross and one of the Order of St. Vladimir.

When the Tsar of Holy Russia was kicked from the throne by his own act of abdication in March 1917, he set in motion a chain of events that led to a short-lived democratic government swept away by the later Red October revolution. This, in turn, sparked an almost immediate civil war and famine that left the country fractured and largely turned to ash. You know, the last half of Dr. Zhivago.

Tsarist Imperial Navy Admiral Alexander Vasilyevich Kolchak, who led the White Russian volunteer army in Siberia against the Bolshevik Reds. Things didnt work out too well for The Admiral, who before the war was a noted polar explorer. When turned over to the Reds by his own troops, he was interrogated, led to a hole in the ice of the frozen Agara River, and told he was to be executed. The Admiral asked the commander of the firing squad,

Tsarist Imperial Navy Admiral Alexander Vasilyevich Kolchak, who led the White Russian volunteer army in Siberia against the Bolshevik Reds. Things didn’t work out too well for The Admiral, who before the war was a noted polar explorer. When turned over to the Reds by his own troops, he was interrogated, led to a hole in the ice of the frozen Agara River, and told he was to be executed. The Admiral asked the commander of the firing squad, “Would you be so good as to get a message sent to my wife in Paris to say that I bless my son?” as his last words, then was shot and stuffed through the ice as depicted in this painting by FA Moskvitin.

After the anti-communist Whites lost the Civil War (1917-22), some two million Russians fled to all points of the globe. If they didn’t leave, certain death was sure to follow.

The Evacuation of Wrangel’s White Army from Crimea, November 1920

In short, they lost their Russia privileges when they lost the war.

Nearly a quarter of these were military men who quite naturally formed veterans groups such as the Society of Gallipoli and the Russian Common Military Union (ROVS). This latter organization, founded in 1924 and led by former General Grand Duke Nicholas, then Lt-Gen Baron Wrangel, numbered some 100,000 members spread around the world within just a couple of years. These organizations were officer-heavy, as many of the rank and file of the White volunteer armies were either professional military officers under the Tsar, or were officer cadets at one of more than 100 military schools spread across the country. These officers in exile tended to band together.

Lieutenant General PN Pyotr Wrangel (bottom row, second from left), next to Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) and other Russian émigrés in Yugoslavia 1927. Although this group had left Russia more than seven years prior to this picture, they still have immaculate uniforms. Soviet agents would soon poison Wrangel within a year of this image.

Lieutenant General PN Pyotr Wrangel (bottom row, second from left), next to Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) and other Russian émigrés in Yugoslavia 1927. Although this group had left Russia more than seven years before this picture, they still have immaculate uniforms. Soviet agents would soon poison Wrangel within a year of this image.

For a generation in the 1920s and 30s, ROVS formed an exile Army in waiting and held large training camps and schools in which battalion and even regimental size units participated. The old generals had troops to salute. The young children born overseas who had never seen Russia were given an idealized account of life in the good old days under the father Tsar. Most of all, the exiles maintained some sort of legitimate military cohesion. In 1934 its rolls held some 300,000 members around the globe.

White Russian Anti-Communist Poster, around 1932. Such propaganda was both smuggled into Russia and used as fund-raisers in White communities

From the same 1932 series. Note the imagery of former Tsarist-era officers leading a new generation of cadets back to the Motherland under the 1917 flag

Indeed, in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, a nearly division-sized force of Whites patrolled the borders of that country looking for smugglers. The 1st Cavalry Regiment of the French Foreign Legion (1er REC), a unit that still survives today, was formed in Northern Africa in the 1920s from former Cossacks and guards cavalry of the Tsar. The foreign legation in Shanghai was patrolled by a White Russian regiment employed by the Shanghai police until 1942.

These veteran groups also formed underground units to send sabotage and intelligence gathering teams into the Soviet Union. Under the auspices of such names as the Brotherhood of Russian Truth and the Fighting Organization General Kutepov, (which in Cyrillic has the unenviable abbreviation BORK), they gave the Reds a series of bloody noses.  This got the attention of the Soviets and the OGPU/NKVD soon started rubbing out influential White Russian officers in the West, including Gen. Kutepov himself, bundled out of France in a trunk by three OGPU agents back to Moscow, his ultimate fate still unknown for sure.  Kutepov’s replacement, Lt-Gen. EK Miller, was likewise liquidated.

Kutepov

Kutepov

Other Russian officers became soldiers of fortune. They appeared in Mexico during the government oppression of the Cristeros and as well as in the Chaco Wars in Latin America in the 1930s where Maj-Generals NF Erna and IT Belyaev helped keep the Paraguayans in the fight against, ironically, German-led Bolivians.

Whites, in a unit some 75-members strong led by Maj. Gen. Nikolai Shinkarenko Brusilov, then showed up in the Spanish Civil War carrying the torch for Franco, with some 34 émigrés, including former Maj. Gen Anatole Fock, killed in action.

White Russian volunteers in the Spanish Civil War wearing requeté uniforms, Russian medals, and insignia

Many a Chinese warlord of the period owed their military might to the assistance of a former Tsarist commander.

Lieutenant General Urzhin Garmaev of the Manchukuo Imperial Army, formerly a junior officer of the Imperial Russian Army. One of Semenov’s Cossack commanders, Garmaev beat feet to Manchuria and was soon recruiting Buryat-Mongolian anti-Communist troops to patrol the border on behalf of the Japanese-backed government. Involved in both the Battle of Khalkhyn Temple in 1935 and the Battle of Khalkhin Gol in 1939, he commanded the 10th District of the Manchukuo Imperial Army until he took the position of the head of the puppet state’s military academy. Captured by Red Army troops in Sept. 1945, he was sent to Moscow for trial and f executed by firing squad on 13 March 1947

White Russian paramilitary formation attached to the Far Eastern Academy in the city of Tianjin late 1930s Photo via Kyoto University. Note the Japanese-supplied Arisakas

Russian soldiers of the Imperial Manchukuo Army`s Asano Detachment, organized for sabotage against Soviet forces along the Manchurian Border. In all, some 4,000 White Russians served in this Japanese-equipped unit through 1945

Early M1927 Zlatoust-marked Soviet Red Cossack sword-shashka with companion dragoon-style bayonet scabbard. The blade is dated 1929 while the hilt is dated 1931

Early M1927 type Zlatoust-marked Soviet “Red Cossack” sword-shashka with companion dragoon-style bayonet scabbard. The blade is dated 1929 while the hilt is dated 1931. This sword was recovered in China in 1945 along with other curious items by a U.S. soldier with Merrill’s Mauraders and likely came across the Soviet border in the hands of a defector or was captured in Manchu-White Russian-Japanese skirmishes along said border in the 1930s. The shashka is currently in the collection of the Mississippi Armed Forces Museum. (Photo: Chris Eger)

A smaller unit of Whites, operating under the protection of the British, passed on to Japanese control in 1939 and only vanished when the Soviets appeared at the end of the war.

The White Russian Regiment of the Shanghai Volunteer Corps, 1930s

The White Russian Regiment of the Shanghai Volunteer Corps, 1930s. Note the British kit. When the Brits withdrew from China in 1940, these Whites were left to befriend the Japanese the next year.

In 1934, one infamous Boris Skossyreff, a self-styled former White Russian officer, once an adviser to the Japanese Army and full-time con man seized power in the tiny nation of Andorra (pop 20,000), calling himself “Boris I, Prince of the Valleys of Andorra, Count of Orange and Baron of Skossyreff, sovereign of Andorra and defender of the faith.” Spain, it would seem, who is jointly in charge along with France of Andorra’s defense in times of war, two weeks later sent a group of military police into the country to politely show Boris I the fastest way over the Pyrenees. This did not stop him from serving later in the German Army in World War II.

The image of a scarred White Russian officer, wandering the globe from conflict to conflict like a Ronin of Old Japan, or a Mandalorian of a galaxy far, far, away became a familiar trope between the World Wars.

Kinda like this but more vintage:

Medals issued by the White Russian forces, most were actually awarded in the 1930s for service during the Civil War

When WWII came, many of these now elderly officers dusted off their spurs and helped to form the 30,000-strong XV Cossack Cavalry Corps in the German Army (who began the war often in the uniform of the Russian Imperial Army!). Leaders, in spirit, if not in deed, included Kuban Cossack Maj-Gen. Pytor Kransov, the swashbuckling White bandit Andrei Shkuro, Sultan Kelech Ghirey, and Timofey Domanov among others. While the corps mostly fought against Yugoslav red partisans and was able to withdraw in good order to Austria at the end of the war to surrender to the British, they were handed over to the Soviets for execution and exile in Siberia.

Cossack Maj. Gen Vyacheslav Naumenko (tall) and Lt. Gen Andrei Shkuro (short) seen insepecting Hitler's cossacks during World War II. These elderly White generals did not lead troops during the war, but helped with support, morale and recruiting among captured Soviet army personnel. Naumenko survived the war, escaping to the U.S. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=82187251 while Shkuro was turned over by the British to the Soviets and hung in 1947.

Cossack Maj.-Gen. Vyacheslav Naumenko (tall) and Lt.-Gen Andrei Shkuro (short) seen inspecting Hitler’s Cossacks during World War II. These elderly White generals did not lead troops during the war but helped with support, morale, and recruiting among captured Soviet army personnel. Naumenko survived the war, escaping to the U.S. while Shkuro was turned over by the British to the Soviets and hung in 1947. Note the decorations for the old Emperor Nicholas Military Academy on Naumenko’s lower left tunic along with the Tsarist Cross of St Ann. The medal on the upper left tunic is the Ice March award, showing a sword piercing a crown of thorns, awarded to White volunteers who survived the 1st Kuban Campaign in 1918.

This whiskered Cossack colonel is one Alexander Nikolayevich Pugovochnikov, who graduated from the Nikolaev Cavalry School in 1905. By 1917, he was a colonel who saved his regimental standard and icons from being destroyed by red-armband-wearing troopers– which ended his career even before the Bolsheviks took over. Fighting with Kornilov’s Volunteer Army by early 1918 as a private by 1920 he was again commanding a horse regiment under Wrangel as a colonel. Moving to Yugoslavia after the Whites lost, he was a jockey in Belgrade before landing a job as an instructor in the country’s cavalry school, helping to prep the country’s equestrian team for the ill-fated 1940 Olympic Games. Captured by the Germans in April 1941, within a year he was a volunteer for the German-raised 600th Cossack battalion fighting partisans. Finishing the war as a colonel (for a third time) he gave the Soviets the slip and by 1949 was living in New York City, teaching horseback riding in Central Park. He died in 1968.

Alexander Vasilievich Golubintzev, born in 1882, joined the Imperial Russian army during the Russo-Japanese War in 1904 and was colonel of the 3rd Don Cavalry Regiment by the time the Russian Revolution broke out in 1917. He went on to become a Major General of the counterrevolutionary White movement in Ukraine during the Civil War, commanding the 5th Don Cavalry Division under Mamontov/Denikin. He was then exiled to Bulgaria in 1920 and later Germany, where he served as a colonel in German-allied ROA units (Vlasov’s Russian National Liberation Army) in WWII. After the war, he fled to the United States and died in Cleveland in 1963.

Don’t get the idea that the Whites just worked for the Germans or Japanese.

They also carried water for the Allies as well.

It should be noted that most professional European armies, especially countries in the east such as Poland and Greece, before 1939 contained cadres of field-grade officers who cut their teeth in the service to the Tsar.

Imperial Guards cavalry Col. Pavel Pavlovich Rodzianko– who rode for Russia in the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm– helped teach the young Windsors how to ride immediately after making it out of Siberia after the Civil War and in 1926 formed the Irish Army Equitation School. The jumping team got good in just a few years. In fact, in the 1930s they scored 20 Nations Cups wins. The school still exists today.

One former Imperial Russian naval officer, George Ermolaevich Chaplin, fled to England to exile and became a major in the British Army, even leading a group of engineers ashore at Normandy on D-Day. He later retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel as the head of the Royal Pioneers. Moreover, of course, you cannot forget exiled Georgian Prince Dimitri Zedguinidze-Amilakhvari, who died as a colonel in the French Foreign Legion during the Second Battle of El Alamein against the Germans.

Heck, even Finland’s Field Marshal Carl Mannerheim had learned his military service in the Imperial Guards– and was such a fierce monarchist, he was forced to leave Russia at the onset of the Revolution for Finland under penalty of prison.

Immediately following the war, the CIA made careful efforts to revitalize the vehemently anti-communist White officer groups by using them as a backdoor into the old country. However, this was only marginally successful as whatever contacts they had that Stalin had missed, time soon claimed.

By the 1960s, with even the youngest of these exiled, stateless officers in their seniors, the veterans’ groups became smaller and smaller. The battalion-sized gatherings were no more.

Typically, meetings would be held with only a handful of veterans from the First World War/Russian Civil War at the head, with the bulk of attendees instead being sons and grandsons of such men.

With this, the group lost its last semblance of a military force in exile and became more of a historical and genealogical association.

Lampe

Lampe

The final Imperial Army general in exile, Alexei von Lampe– who had served in the Russo-Japanese War, was a member of the Tsar’s General Staff at Stavka during WWI, and had led ROVS for the last ten years of his life– died in Paris in 1967 at age 81.

Old von Lampe had served as an intelligence organizer during the Russian Civil War and the Nazis thought him such a threat that they threw him in prison in Germany in the 1930s. Odds are he likely remembered where a lot of bodies were buried. Indeed, the Nazis let him go and he continued to live in Berlin until 1945 when he beat feet.

Harzhevsky

Harzhevsky

The last of the White Russian generals, Vladimir G. Harzhevsky, had started World War I as a reserve ensign in the 47th Infantry Regiment. Advancing through the ranks, he was a captain by the time the Tsar fell and later rose meteorically through the officer list of the Southern White Russian army under Denikin and later Wrangel, making Maj. Gen. in Sept 1920 at the age of 28.

However, just three months later, he was exiled when the shattered remnants of Wrangel’s forces were evacuated from Crimea. Bouncing around Europe for decades, he settled finally in New Jersey. Picking up the helm of ROVS on von Lampe’s death, being the senior-most officer left, he died in 1981 at age 89.

Smyslovskiy as a cadet

Smyslovskiy as a cadet

The last of the old guard who wore the epaulets of an officer in the Tsar’s military was one Boris Smyslovskiy.

Born in 1897, Boris was a military academy cadet (junkers) in the 1st Moscow Cadet Corps (Mikhailovsky academy) when the First World War erupted. As a young Lieutenant, he was wounded in the Russian Revolution, fighting against the Reds in Moscow in October 1917. He went on to serve in the White Army under Denikin, as a captain, then a major, before the exile in Germany. Taking up with various underground groups there, he found himself working for the Abwehr (German army intelligence), helping to run agents in Poland and Ukraine.

During WWII, Smyslovskiy took a commission in the German army as a Major in the Wehrmacht and was leading a battalion of Russian troops on the Eastern Front by the end of the war.

General Smyslovskiy, in German service

General Smyslovskiy, in German service

In March 1945, he led some 500 Russian veterans of the German army into exile once again, crossing over into tiny but neutral Liechtenstein where he surrendered to the principality’s 33-man army. While the Soviets steadfastly petitioned the Liechtenstein government to hand over Smyslovskiy on war crimes, they did not. He then wandered to Argentina in 1947 and became an adviser to Peron’s army before returning to Liechtenstein in 1966. Smyslovskiy died there in 1988, just before the Berlin Wall came down.

General Smyslovskiy grave

The ROVS organization continued in the West for another decade, its commanders being chosen from men who were officers in White Russian units in WWII, as all of the Tsar’s few good men were gone.

The last commander of ROVS in the West was Cadet Vladimir Vishnevsky. Born in 1917 and leaving the country of his birth for the last time in 1922, he had served in the Yugoslav Royal Army before joining the German/White Russian Corps during World War Two, rising to the rank of an officer cadet in the organization. With no more regular meetings due to declining membership, Vishnevsky was informed of his new post via correspondence that Capt. Vladimir Butkov, who himself was only a year old when the Winter Palace fell, had died in New York, leaving the former cadet as the seniormost ranking officer.

Finally in 2000, after 76 years, ROVS dissolved (after Vishnevsk’s death of cancer) as even this pool of WWII veterans had dwindled. However, with the recent resurgence of Tsarist love in the new Russia, a Moscow-based version has taken its place.

In a final gesture of homecoming, the remains of General Anton Ivanovich Denikin and his wife, who were buried in the Orthodox Cossack St. Vladimir’s Cemetery in New Jersey, were repatriated to Russia in 2005.

deniken funeral

He was buried with military honors and is now seen as something of a patriot there, bringing the saga to a full circle.

Today in modern Russia under Tsar Vladimir IV of the House of Putin, it’s become fashionable once again to be a White Russian.

white guards