PHOTO: the Imperial Train at the specially built station at Mogilev. Artist unknown.
From the Collection of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum
In August 1915, after the German advance, the Headquarters [Stavka] of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, was re-located from Baranovichi to Mogilev. The following month, September 1915, Emperor Nicholas II assumed personal command of the Russian Imperial Army, after dismissing his cousin, Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich from the post.
In the years 1915-1917, Nicholas II spent long periods at the Stavka in Mogilev. He would arrive on the Imperial Train, which made frequent journeys back and forth between Tsarskoye Selo and Stavka.
With the outbreak of World War I, the number of carriages of the Imperial Train was reduced to three. The Imperial Train became both a travelling residence for the Emperor, as well as a military field office, equipped with telephone and telegraph communications.
PHOTO: the Imperial Train set in a pine grove near the Stavka near Mogilev. Nicholas II often went for walks in the surrounding forest, with walking stick in one hand, a cigarette in the other.
As the Imperial Train approached Mogilev, it was diverted to a separate branch line and station, specially constructed for the Imperial Train. It was from this station, that the Emperor and his retinue traveled by motorcar to General Headquarters – where Nicholas II lived, often with his son Tsesarevich Alexei – in Mogilev and back.
The location of the branch was determined by the fact that the forest masked the train from German bombers. The entire area surrounding the station was heavily guarded by police agents and gendarmes.
Trees were felled, and a wooden platform and protective roof were constructed on a privately owned pine forest just north of Mogilev. Pathways and landscaped gardens were laid out, as well as the installation of electric lighting for the tracks, water supply, sewerage, telephone and telegraph wires.
As Prince Michael of Greece notes in his pictorial album ‘Nicholas and Alexandra: The Family Albums‘: “It creates a romantic picture to see these luxurious wagons appear between the vertical tree trunks”.
The special branch line and station for Nicholas II’s Imperial Train at Stavka were both destroyed during the Great Patriotic War (1941-45).
To learn more about the Imperial Train of Nicholas II, please read my article – with photos – The fate of Nicholas II’s Imperial Train, published on 12th January 2021
© Paul Gilbert. 3 September 2022