Who's Who - Ivan Grigorovich

Ivan Konstantinovich Grigorovich (1853-1930) served as Russia's Naval Minister from 1911 until the onset of revolution in 1917.

Grigorovich established his reputation as a naval officer during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05, where as commander of besieged Port Arthur he earned himself widespread praise for both courage and competence (at times an unusual mixture in the Russian navy of the period).

Determined to reform and expand Russia's navy, he set about the daunting task with vigour upon his appointment as Naval Minister in 1911.  Despite being regarded as something of a liberal - he enjoyed healthy relations with naval interests in the Duma - he nevertheless remained popular with both Tsar Nicholas II and his close advisers (invariably deeply conservative in all respects).

His naval reformist plans interrupted by the arrival of war in August 1914 he still ensured that Russian naval presence in the Baltic Sea was available in strength in readiness for offensive operations.

Unhappily for Grigorovich overall command of the navy was subordinated to the army General Staff, greatly limiting his influence in determining naval strategy.  In effect his Baltic force played a largely defensive role, despite the best efforts of regional commander Alexander Kolchak to make something of his available force.

Aware of growing unease in the Russian Navy during 1916 his warnings to the Tsar were however ignored.  The February Revolution of 1917 brought naval unrest to a head, and Grigorovich found himself helpless to halt its spiralling decline.

Ousted from office in the wake of the February Revolution he chose retirement.  In 1923 he was given permission to leave the country and seek exile in France.

He died in 1930.

"Wipers" was the British nickname for the Belgian town Ypres.

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