Commodore Dimitri Petrovich

Posted by on Jul 19, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Commodore Dimitri Petrovich

Written by Spartan Franco | Tags:

Born in 1818, Dmitri Petrovich, scion of a prominent Boyar family holding estates near the city of Smolensk, is one of the Russian Coalition’s most noted commanders. The descendent of a long line of soldiers, Dmitri naturally gravitated to a military education, enrolling in the officers’ training program at the Kazan Academy of Armour at the age of 17.

Available Exclusively At Gen Con Indy 2012 (model supplied unpainted)

Available Exclusively At Gen Con Indy 2012 (model supplied unpainted)

Dmitri saw his first real action during the final stage of the Russian Coalition’s war with the Chinese Federation, while still in training. The White Army’s need for junior officers was pressing enough at the time for even raw undergraduates to be pushed into service.

He commanded a squadron of light tanks and achieved considerable acclaim for his daring, if somewhat reckless style of leadership. Graduating as a Captain of Armour shortly after the end of the Sino-Russian conflict in 1837, he would spend the next sixteen years steadily climbing the White Army’s ranks. He eventually attained the rank of Battle Brigade commander, of the 27th Armoured Battle Brigade, with the Land Ship Tsaritsyn as his flagship, in 1853.

Dmitri always harboured a fascination for the more technical aspects of warfare, and was always first in line to request that his Battle Brigade be granted the honour of testing the latest weapon systems and other military devices. Petrovich’s Brigade was amongst the first to test the feasibility of combined assaults incorporating subterranean strike elements carried by early prototypes of the Vorkuta land drillers in the hidden wilds of Siberia.

Over the years of his service, Petrovich acquired many influential friends in the Tsar’s court, some of whom had the ear of the Tsar himself. With these noble benefactors on his side, Petrovich was able to become deeply involved with the Stavka’s studies of then-notional combined-arms operations.

These were intended for the Baltic, and designed to avoid repetition of the disastrous 1774 Russian invasion of Japan in the event of amphibious assaults proving necessary in future wars.

Beginning in 1858, Petrovich’s Brigade took part in a number of exercises at various points on the Baltic coastlines, some in Finland, and others in co-operation with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Dmitri became adept at the successful co-ordination of land and sea elements in coastal operations.

In the process of these lengthy exercise programmes, which lasted for some four years, Dmitri became fascinated with the tactical and strategic uses of naval power, as well as the operation of warships. In 1863, through his courtly contacts, he appealed to the Tsar to be allowed to transfer to the White Navy. Such was his good graces with Vladimir and his closest advisors, that his request was granted.

To have a senior officer cross between services in a manner such as Dmitri did is, while uncommon, not unknown in the military organisations of many powers in the modern age, especially where royal court favourites are concerned.

Such officers are provided with large and effective staff organisations consisting of technically competent individuals, to compensate for their inexperience. They are sometimes resented for their actions by those who must serve them. Fortunately for Dmitri, his long years of perfecting the arts of consensual leadership and innate affability served him well in avoiding these pitfalls.

Dmitri’s official service with the White Navy began in 1864. He retained the rank of Battle Brigade commander, although at that point, in naval terms, he held it in name only. His experienced staff initially performed much of the legwork for him. He became de facto C-in-C of the 8th Naval Battle Brigade, based at Helsingfors in Russian Finland.

However, as with his army career, Dmitri proved a quick learner. He was never afraid to defer to his advisors on the best course of action in a given situation – something that many cross-service commanders were frequently loath to do, to their ultimate failure.

By 1866, Commodore Petrovich had earned the confidence of his new comrades as a competent well-liked commander-in-chief, the administrator of a superbly-drilled Brigade command staff.

1866 was also the year that Markov Helsinki, the Tsar’s most trusted secret agent, returned in triumph to the Russian Coalition, bearing with him a wealth of secrets that the Russian industrial machine was quick to adapt to martial use.

Commodore Dimitri Petrovich

Commodore Dimitri Petrovich

Just as he had done in his army days, the technically-minded Petrovich was quick to request that the ships of his command be chosen to act as test-beds for the revolutionary new technologies produced by Markov’s Circle. His then-flagship, the battleship Retvizan, was one of the earliest vessels to be fitted with Sturginium Thermal Pressure Engines.

In 1868, on the eve of the Russian Coalition’s planned war with the Prussians, Tsar Vladimir promoted Dmitri Petrovich, and a number of other senior commanders, to the special rank of ‘Commodore Imperial’.

This new rank formalised the authority of these favoured few commanders, allowing the Stavka to place them in command of operations by forces drawn from either the White Army or the White Navy.

Some were court favourites, riding atop the efforts of less honoured but far more skilled subordinates, but a few, such as Petrovich, had truly earned their elevation to such an exalted and trusted position.

When the war with the Prussians broke out, Dmitri was still with the 8th Naval Battle Brigade in the Baltic, and it is here that he has seen the bulk of his service thus far, pitting his wits against the Prussian and Danish forces defending the gates to the North Sea.

However, his contacts at court have seen to it that the 27th Armoured Battle Brigade has been allocated the northern edge of the front line, fighting the Prussian defence forces around Konigsberg.

Thanks to their efforts, Commodore Imperial Petrovich sometimes still takes up his old command on land. He has done so frequently in the combined armoured/naval operations that are so prevalent in the fighting around Memel and the Courland Peninsula. Whichever formation he leads, the fighting troops under him can be confident of having an effective and tactically astute war commander.