October 7, 1881
Kiev, Russian Empire
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On October 7, 1881, Drozdovsky was born in Kiev where his father was a highly decorated general of the Crimean War. His mother died when he was twelve, and he was largely raised by his elder sister, Julia, who was a decorated nurse during the Russo-Japanese War.
He started his military career early in life, entering the Polotsk Cadet Corps in 1892, and subsequently transferring to the Vladimir of Kiev Cadet Corps, from which he graduated in 1899. In August 1899, he enrolled in the Pavlovsk Military School inSt. Petersburg, famous for its strict discipline and considered a model in the training officers of the Imperial Russian Army. He graduated in 1901 at the top of his class.
From 1901, Drozdovsky served in the Life Guards Regiment in Warsaw and was promoted to lieutenant in 1904. With the Start of the Russo-Japanese War he was sent to the front lines with the 1st Siberian Corps of the 2nd Russian Manchurian Army. He was wounded in the thigh during the Battle of Sandepu, but remained on the front lines through the end of the conflict and was awarded with several decorations for heroism.
After the end of the war, Drozdovsky completed his studies at the General Staff Academy in 1908 and was promoted toStabskapitän, and to captain in 1910. He was stationed at the Headquarters of the Amur Military District in Harbin, Manchuria. In November 1911, he was appointed Assistant to the Senior Staff of the Warsaw Military District. With the start of the First Balkan War in October 1912, he volunteered for combat duty, but his application declined. Instead, he was assigned to the Sevastopol Aviation School, where he became a pilot and trained on aerial reconnaissance. He also trained with the Imperial Russian Navy, taking a dive in a submarine, and also diving using a diving suit. After this training, he returned to the Warsaw Military District.
At the start of World War I, Drozdovsky served as a staff officer for the Russian 27th Army Corps on the Northwestern Front. He made a number of reconnaissance missions using an airplane and a balloon. From December 1914, he was assigned to the headquarters of the 26th Army Corps. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in March 1915, and became Chief of Staff of the 64th Infantry Division in May 1915. He led his division from the front in numerous battles to the end of 1915. From October 1915, he was chief of staff of the 26th Army Corps. From the summer of 1916, he was on the General Staff as a colonel, serving on the Southwestern Front. Wounded in the hand during a battle on August 31, 1916, he was awarded the Order of St. George (4th class).