The Obovkov ordnance works, St Petersburg, where Alexander Vasilevich Kolchak was born in 1873, would seem an unlikely birthplace for one destined to become the Supreme Ruler of Russia. Yet, despite Russia’s apparent disregard of the pursuit of progressive goals, her engineers did enjoy a status at odds with the age. The history of Russia is replete with examples of successive invasion from all directions. Being bereft of natural barriers, the engineers, the heirs of Todleben, grew to be revered as the architects of the artificialities of the state’s defence. They provided that essential reassurance for a people totally absorbed in a womb to tomb siege mentality.