Who's Who - Vasily Gurko

Vasily Iosiforich Gurko (1864-1937) served for a brief period as Russian Army Commander-in-Chief before being forced out of the country in exile following the October Revolution of 1917.

A prominent campaigner for army reform prior to war in 1914, Gurko was closely associated with the political moderate and Octobrist leader Alexander Guchkov.

With the outbreak of war in August 1914 Gurko was appointed to command of the 1st Cavalry Division under Paul von Rennenkampf, which he led in East Prussia and at November 1914's Battle of Lodz before receiving an appointment as Chief of Staff to Mikhail Alexeev (who also subsequently served (briefly) as Commander-in-Chief during the war).

Appointed to the head of VI Corps, attached to Second Army, Gurko led the Russian counterattack in the January 1915 Battle of Bolimov.

In the autumn of the following year, 1916, Gurko was chosen as the officer most likely to bring about the rehabilitation of the elite Guards Army, replacing Bezobrazov, and which had been severely damaged in fighting at Kovel.

While Alexeev recovered from the latest in a series of heart attacks in November 1916, Gurko was appointed stand-in Commander-in-Chief, heading operations at Stavka.  He made attempts to improve the army's fighting ability, notably in the area of artillery, but his efforts came to nought in the face of Tsar Nicholas II's opposition.

Appointed permanent Commander-in-Chief with the February Revolution of 1917, succeeding Alexei Evert, Gurko quickly found himself in conflict with the new Provisional Government.  Disagreements over the planning of the Kerenski Offensive consequently brought his dismissal in June 1917.

Having retired from the army Gurko was briefly arrested for royalist sympathies in August 1917 but was allowed to leave the country for exile in Italy in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution in October 1917.

In WW1 an "ace" was a pilot who scored five confirmed "kills".

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