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Kolchak, Aleksandr Vasiliyevich (1874-1920).

Russian admiral. Principal wars: Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905); World War I (1914-1918); Russian Civil War (1917-1920). Principal battles: siege of Port Arthur (Lushan) (1904-1905); Gulf of Riga campaign (1915-1916).

Born in St. Petersburg into a naval artillery officer's family (November 4, 1874); graduated second in his class from the Russian Naval Academy (1894); participated in two Russian Academy of Sciences polar expeditions to the Arctic as a hydrologist; served as a destroyer commander and later commanded a battery during the siege of Port Arthur (June 1904-January 2, 1905); held briefly as a prisoner of war in Japan; joined other officers embarrassed by the war with Japan in reforming the navy and creating the Russian Naval General Staff (1906-1909); participated in the third polar expedition to discover a northern sea route to the Far East and received the Academy of Science's Gold Medal for his work (1908-1911); served on the Naval General Staff (1911-1914); captain of the Baltic Sea Fleet flagship when World War I broke out (August 1914); chief of the Bureau of Operations of the Baltic Fleet (1915); distinguished himself by his tactical skills in constructing an effective coastal defense system from inadequate forces and materials; as commander of the Baltic destroyer forces, he distinguished himself further in a series of encounters in the Gulf of Riga (1916); youngest naval officer promoted to vice admiral of the Russian Navy (August 1916); assigned as commander in chief of the Black Sea Fleet (1916); supported the Provisional Government of Alexander Kerensky following the February (March) Revolution (1917); plagued by the threat of mutiny in his command, he submitted his resignation (June); sent by Kerensky to the United States to study the American navy and possibility of invading the Bosporus; stopping to visit Britain, he became friends with Admirals Jellicoe and Hall; discouraged by his visit to the U.S., he sailed from San Francisco to Japan; arrived in Japan shortly after the Bolsheviks' October (November) Revolution (1917); offered his services to the British navy after the Brest-Litovsk negotiations began (January 1918); his orders to report to British forces in Mesopotamia were suddenly changed to duty in Siberia; appointed as Minister of War and Navy in the anti-Bolshevik Socialist Government established in Omsk; seized control as Supreme Ruler in a military coup d'etat at Omsk (November 18, 1918); angered liberal elements in his government by his dictatorial style and the corruption within his regime; alienated the Czechoslovak Legion, which supported the anti-Bolsheviks and held the vital Trans-Siberian Railroad; suffered a series of defeats during the summer of 1919; relinquished the supreme command of the anti-Bolshevik forces to Gen. Anton I. Denikin (January 4, 1920); placed himself under Allied protection, but the Czechs turned him over to the Bolshevik authorities in Irkutsk (January 15); after a lengthy interrogation, he was executed by firing squad and his body thrown into the Angara River (February 2, 1920). <BL>
Carr, Edward H., The Bolshevik Revolution, 1917-1923. New York,
Fleming, Peter, The Fate of Admiral Kolchak. New York, 1963.
Mel'gunov, S. P., Tragediia Admirala Kolchaka. Belgrade, 1930.
Popov, K. A., Dopros Kolchaka (Interrogation of Kolchak). Leningrad,

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Author:Koerper, Philip E.
Publication:The Harper Encyclopedia of Military Biography
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1992
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