Who's Who - Alexei Evert

General Alexei Evert (1857-1918), while possessing skill at conducting stoic defence, proved manifestly unsuited to attacking commands during the First World War, and consistently demonstrated excessive caution where aggression was required.

A veteran officer of artillery when war began in August 1914, General Evert was handed command of the Russian Fourth Army based in Galicia in September 1914, replacing General Salza.  He led it during the Russian Polish campaign later that autumn and again during the 300-mile fighting retreat the following Summer.

Promoted to command Western Army Group - comprising the bulk of Russian forces - once the Tsar, Nicholas II, took personal command of the army in September 1915 - Evert was coincidentally a strong supporter of the Romanovs -  he proceeded to devote the following year and a half in the accumulation of men and equipment preparatory to a planned series of breakthrough attacks aimed at the German line.

The result of his hoarding of resources was the remarkably unsuccessful attack at Lake Naroch in March 1916, which while proving highly costly in casualties, was merely the result of poor planning and execution.

Alexei Brusilov's spectacular - and initially highly successful - offensive against the Austrian Fourth and Seventh Armies in June 1916 called for supporting attacks by Evert against German forces further north.  Highly disinclined to provide such support, Evert chose instead to reconsolidate his battered forces following the earlier failure at Naroch.

Evert was next given command of the Kovel front, where once again he adopted a policy of attrition rather than outright aggression; his target of capturing the railway junction at Kovel remained unfulfilled.

Regardless of criticism of his conduct (and whisperings of enemy collaboration on account of his Germanic name), Evert remained at his post until the February Revolution in Russia.  Finally dismissed by the Provisional Government in March 1917, the circumstances of Evert's death the following year (following a virtual disappearance in the interim) remain unclear.

"Suicide Ditch" was a term used by British soldiers to refer to the front-line trench.

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