Transcript

Russian mobilisation
Catalogue reference: WO 106/1044


(handwritten) Extract made for MO3
to show C.I.G.S. 24.8.14
A[?]W.
(handwritten) R/Secret/89
(handwritten in leftmargin) Secret Despatch No. lX. British Embassy,
  Subject: Russian Preparations. St. Petersburg.
Midnight 3rd/4th August
1914.
M.O.3.
     The following notes are in explanation of the 4 telegrams despatched on the 31st July, 1st, 2nd and 3rd August respectively.
     It is extremely difficult to get reliable information and this speaks well for the working of the General Staff. General Monkevitz to whom I applied 2 hours after my arrival said he could tell me nothing till England declared herself. My French colleague is reticent and the others know nothing. Nothing is to be learnt from officers who know and civilians have only contradictory reports to offer. The consuls have sent in nothing of value.
     The Mobilisation. Preparations have been in progress since Friday the 24th. Mobilisation commenced officially in the Kiev, Odessa, Moscow and Kazan Military Districts on Thursday, the 30th, and the general mobilisation was ordered on the night of the 30th/31st. (handwritten in left margin)R 90. The notices for the latter were posted at Vilna at midnight 30th/31st and in St.Petersburg at 4 A.M. on the 31st.
     All the 15 classes of reservists have been called out in St. Petersburg. In some other districts - Moscow and Kiev have been mentioned in the Press - the 1910-1913 classes of the Opolchenie were (handwritten) have been called out as well. Thus in St. Petersburg men up to 39 years of age have been taken and elsewhere up to 43.
     The reservists assembled in masses of from 2000 to 3000 at each of the 94 police stations of St. Petersburg at 6 A.M. on the 1st August (2nd Day). Their discharge certificates were examined and they were despatched in parties under convoy of gendarmes to the previously prepared municipal mobilisation points, several of which were arranged for each arm. At these they were fed. The Press states that this first stage was completed at 2 P.M., but this is doubtful. From the mobilisation points part of the men were sent off in parties to units. On the first day only men who reported themselves as sick were medically examined. The real medical examination took place in units. The men taken for local units have been equipped, but a large number of reservists have been allowed to go to their homes and have been ordered to report themselves daily. These men include the reservists for the garrison of Finland and others for whom there is no accommodation in the barracks and collecting stations. The reservists for Finland are being sent off daily.
     The French state that the mobilisation is working well and that it is some hours ahead of the programme.
     The number of men called up is causing general astonishment. (handwritten underline) Russians speak of an army of 8 millions, but admit that it will require 6 months to equip.
     Very few men have been rejected on medical grounds.
     Judging from one or two cases, men of all ages seem to be being enrolled in the 1st line units. The surplus, after forming the reserve divisions will probably be massed in depots and trained. The shortage of officers will not be felt for some time. On the 14th July 800 short-term volunteers were promoted to the rank of ensign of reserve. On the 25th 2,749 yunkers who had finished their course in the military schools received their commissions and it is stated that a similar number who have been only half their time at the military schools will be commissioned shortly. 
     The spirit of the people is excellent. There All the wine shops have been closed and there is no drunkenness - a striking contrast to the scenes witnessed during the mobilisation of 1904. Wives and mothers with children accompany their men from point to point, deferring the hour of parting, and one sees cruel scenes, but the women cry quietly and there are no hysterics. The men are quiet and grave, but parties cheer one another as they pass in the street. The average men are of good physique but the[y] look better in their civilian dress than in the new uniforms which seem to be served out with little regard to size.
     There is no doubt that the war is a popular one. The strikers whom Russians believe to have been subsidised by German money, have returned to work. Patriotic crowds cheer nightly in front of the British and French Embassies and the Servian Legation. What appears at this distance to be the indecision of England has kept us in a terrible state of suspense. Remarks about England in the street and in the tram car today have been unpleasant to hear. The mass of people, believe that we had promised to come in. Should England declare herself neutral, the Englishman here will lose all prestige and his position will be difficult.



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