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MOBILISING IN SIBERIA.

jjv a v.'isc decree, both vodka shops and breweries bad been closed, and hence it was a sober Semipalatinsk which tackled tho grim realities of war. And these were tackled in business-like fashion. There was a surprising absence of that dilatonness supposed to be the hall-mark of Russian officialdom. With the regularity of a well-oiled machine, reservists entere-done door of tho low, white building which housed the military headquarters, and emerged from another supplied with instructions where to report for service, warrants for steamer travel, and a sufficiency of kopecks for their immediate need (26 kopecks per diem being the allowance). Outside, in tiro baking glare of an almost tropical snn, intensified by choking clouds of dust, a curious medley of people watched and waited. Tartar women with veiled faces crouched in their springless carts ; Khirghiz, the gipsies of the steppe, clad in sheepskin caps and coats, sat stolidly on their wiry ponies, apparently impervious to such minor ills as sunstroke. Cossack women stood ankle deep in dust, with eyes fixed on the fateful building; and Russians, old and young, clustered in silent groups. And thus, evenly and without incident, took place the great mobilisation at Semipalatinsk, which, with its counterparts in other portions of Siberia, was to be responsible for an addition to Russian arras of at least four million men. To return to Omsk was in the nature of a problem, and wo were fortunate in finding accommodation in a steamer conveying about 350 reservists to that centre. Our departure provided a spectacle at once so solemn, so thrilling, and withal so inspiring that one felt one was in very truth face to face with tho soul of a people. From an early' hour in the morning huge crowds gathered on every vantage point offering a view of the quay'. There tho Governor, in full uniform, harangued his people in stirring words. This was no war of aggression, he explained, for which tho sons of Russia were needed. They were fighting to crush a cruel oppressor, and hence' might feel that Almighty God would be with them. Tn simple phrases he exhorted those left to mourn to be of good cl ,r '~r. and by their courage and selfcontrol i emblazon the Russian flag with yet one more instance of the devotion of its womanhood. Then a band broke into the National Hymn, and with one accord the solemn words were taken up by a kneeling multitude. As the last strains died away a path was made through the throng, and priests, robed in green and gold, bearing ikons and a huge cross, slowly advanced towards the ship, again and again blessing its human freight. What wonder that even ordinary' spectators like ourselves were moved beyond speech. What wonder that stifled sohs from mothers, wives, and daughters could not bo restrained, and that, as the steamer warped proudly out into the stream, we felt that we had been privileged to witness that rarest of occurrences —tho lifting of tho veil which hides tho holiest emotions of a nation.—Alan Lethbridge, in the ‘Telegraph.’

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD19141130.2.17.9

Bibliographic details

MOBILISING IN SIBERIA., Issue 15663, 30 November 1914

Word Count
517

MOBILISING IN SIBERIA. Issue 15663, 30 November 1914

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