IN ADMIRAL TOGO’S FIRST SQUADRON was the Japanese armoured cruiser Nisshin, formerly the Moreno. She was launched for the Argentine Navy in 1903 and completed at Sestri Ponente, Italy, in 1904. She had a displacement tonnage of 7,700. Her length was 344 feet, her beam 59 ft. 9 in. and her draught 24 ft. 3 in. This vessel was one of twelve Japanese ships fit to lie in line-
IN the Korea Strait, just a hundred years after Trafalgar had been fought under sail, there was contested the first decisive naval battle of the steamship age in accordance with modern ideas. It is true the battle of Lissa (1866) remains notable, because until that action squadrons of ironclads had never before fought together; yet, for a variety of reasons, Lissa cannot compare with Tsushima. Nor can the battles of the Yalu (1894), in the Chino-
Lissa indicates but the half-
About 1840, British and other navies began to introduce wooden paddle frigates, though ten years later the screw sought to win a reluctantly conceded popularity. The nineteenth century was essentially an era of experiment, of adopting new principles and then going back to old ones —sometimes too, of trying to combine both. For example, as late as the period 1855-
H.M.S. Howe represented one of the last three-
Britain producing H.M.S. Warrior, that historic iron screw frigate of 9,210 tons displacement protected with 4½-
The use of the word “ironclad” accentuates the defensive attitude which our forefathers had adopted in mid-
During the war of 1914-
In spite of the use of steam-
Otherwise, millions of money and years of effort spent in national defence had been wasted. There existed a possibility that the Admiralty mind had overstressed one idea and underestimated the value of another. Only a serious fleet action could provide clear-
The battle of Tsushima afforded lessons which immensely influenced the British Navy. We shall scarcely exaggerate if we claim that Tsushima had a greater effect than was exercised by any sea-
Steady improvement of a country towards material prosperity inevitably inspires jealousy which, in turn, brings about the great clash to be settled only by rival fighting forces. At the battle of the Yalu it had already been shown, during the war of 1894-
The rival ambitions of Japan and Russia in the Pacific failed to be settled without resort to war. The trouble originated when Russia longed to see herself a naval Power in that ocean. Desiring a harbour free from ice all the year round, she had secured from China a lease of Port Arthur, which was deepened, and the Trans-
The Russian warships Variag and Korietz lying in Chemulpho were so damaged that they sank. Admiral Togo’s smaller craft made an onslaught against the Russian ships lying off Port Arthur and badly damaged the Cesarevitch, Retvizan and Pallada. On the following day the Poltava, Novik, Askold and Diana were all badly damaged. Later on the battleship Petropavlovsk sank on mines, three destroyers were interned after reaching Tsing-
AT THE ENTRANCE TO THE SEA OF JAPAN, the island of Tsushima divides the Korea Strait into two channels, the wider (eastern) channel—Tsushima Strait—being eighty miles across. The Russian Baltic Fleet, which had left the Baltic in September 1904, and Shanghai on May 25, 1905, bound for Vladivostok, had a choice of three routes—east of Japan by the outside route or west of Japan by the inside route east or west of Tsushima Island. The distance by the inside route from Shanghai to Vladivostok was over 1,000 miles. Admiral Togo, Commander-
In September 1904 Russia sent out her Baltic Fleet under Vice-
Nor had Rozhdestvenski steamed across the North Sea before a display of nervousness was made off the Dogger Bank. It was night time, and some British East Coast steam trawlers were fishing as normally, when the Russians took them to be Japanese torpedo-
The Baltic Fleet steamed down the English Channel, Bay of Biscay, and round the south of Africa, being joined towards the journey’s end by another squadron under Admiral Nebogatov, who had not left Russia until February. The difficulties and anxieties of Rozhdestvenski during these eight months’ steaming were enormous, and the essential matter of coal never ceased to be a worry. But the fleet had to do its best to reach Vladivostok, even if the decks and some officers’ cabins were piled with coal, and the ships were loaded down until their armour belts were submerged.
On May 25 this sea-
The Russian fleet consisted of three armoured squadrons, a cruiser squadron, a scout division and two cruisers to co-
Armoured Squadron, made up of the Oslyabya (Flag of Rear Admiral), Sissoy Veliky, Navarin and Admiral Nakhimoff. The port column consisted of the Third Armoured Squadron — Nicolai I, Admiral Senyavin, General Admiral Graf Apraxin and Admiral Ushakoff — and the cruisers Oleg, Aurora, Dmitri Donskoy and Vladimir Monomakh, with which were five torpedo boats that were to help in protecting the transports On either beam of the leading ships, and parallel with them, were the 23-
Vladivostok the Russian Goal
In the rear of the two columns steamed the remaining vessels. These had no fighting value and were an encumbrance. They included the transports Anadir, Irtish, Korea and Kamchatka, the repair and steam-
The armament of the four ships in the first squadron was four 12-
Of the cruisers there were four (each displacing about 6,000 tons), with a united broadside of twenty-
The Japanese numbered twelve ships fit to lie in line-
A UNIT OF THE JAPANESE FIRST SQUADRON, the battleship Asahi. She had a displacement tonnage of 15,200. Her length was 400 ft. 6 in., her beam 75 ft. 3 in. and her draught 27 ft. 6 in. She was launched in 1898 and completed in 1899 at Elswick (Northumberland). The Japanese first squadron, led by the Mikasa (15,140 tons displacement) flagship of Admiral Togo had a total armament of sixteen 12-
The Japanese had sixteen cruisers, as well as over 100 torpedo boats or destroyers, besides smaller cruisers to co-
In secondary armament the Japanese were still further superior to their enemy, and herein was a notable factor. During the important phase of the fighting these lighter guns (especially the 6-
Admiral Togo, who had received part of his education in the British training-
A Squadron of “Self-
For an admiral learns his job by long years at sea and by cruising and exercises, not by last-
On the evening of May 25 one of the third squadron, the Admiral Senyavin, broke down. This delayed the whole fleet. Next, when the Commander-
of battle, the manoeuvre was ruined by Nebogatov’s ships, which did not know their work. They had been insufficiently exercised Apart from the condition of boilers and machinery which had made martyrs of the engineering staffs, the fleet was not supplied with such modern explosive shells as had recently been issued to the Japanese.
Togo knew that the Russians had left Shanghai, but he could not be sure whether his enemy would come east or west of Tsushima Island, which divides the Korea Strait into two channels. As the eastern channel is the wider, measuring about eighty miles across, he inferred that Rozhdestvenski would prefer it to the western channel, which had half that width. Sixty miles to the south of the island Togo’s cruisers were spread as look-
It seemed improbable the Russians would make towards Vladivostok by the outside route east of Japan, and it would be impossible to pass through the strait, even in fog or bad weather, without being noticed. The long line of warships and transports could not hope to avoid detection in the most favourable conditions, and stragglers there certainly would be. By the inside route the distance from Shanghai to Vladivostok was over one thousand miles.
THE RUSSIAN BALTIC FLEET. In the centre foreground is the Kniaz Suvoroff, Vice-
On May 26, as the Russians were sweeping north-
Dawn came about 5 a.m. Darkness had hidden the Russians so well that only now did the Sinano Maru almost run into the line towards its end. She sighted the hospital ships in the rear, and forthwith she flashed news of the fleet’s discovery northwards where Togo with his fleet lay off Fusan. From the Japanese wireless signals which now were intercepted Rozhdestvenski knew what to expect, and recalled his three scouts (Svietlana, Almaz and Ural) to the rear for the purpose of protecting the unfortunate transports. At 6.45 a.m. a Japanese cruiser was sighted and recognized as the ldzumi, but she soon withdrew. She had confirmed to Admiral Togo the necessary information.
Any moment now the Russians expected to observe the foe in strength. At 8 a.m. four more strangers came out of the mist and were identified as the Japanese First Cruiser Division. They retired to the north, where they soon disappeared. Two hours later the Third Cruiser Division also appeared. The Russian admiral now formed battle-
By noon the Russians were abreast the southern end of Tsushima and steering almost north for Vladivostok. About half an hour afterwards a typical muddle occurred. Some Japanese light cruisers with torpedo boats appeared on the port bow crossing ahead of Rozhdestvenski, who suspected an intention of minelaying.
A Japanese Tactical Error
Rozhdestvenski therefore ordered the first squadron to turn away to starboard 8 points (90 degrees); this manoeuvre was to be followed by another 8-
When a squadron or fleet is ordered to turn “together” 8 points this means that simultaneously each ship will turn at right angles to her course. Thus, instead of (say) four ships steaming in single-
Togo’s ships coming south now turned “in succession” to the north-
A RUSSIAN CRUISER, the Aurora, a unit of the port column of the Russian Baltic Fleet. The Aurora had a displacement tonnage of 6,731. Her length was 413 ft. 3 in., her beam 55 ft. 9 in. and her draught 21 feet. She was launched in 1900 and completed in 1902 at St. Petersburg (now Leningrad).
The next astern of the Mikasa was the Shikishima, and by 1.49 there were still ten more to come. Even the Russians marvelled at Togo’s rashness. Rozhdestvenski now opened fire from the Kniaz Suvoroff, the range being only 6,400 yards; yet the gunnery and shells were so bad that this tactical opportunity was utterly lost. On the contrary, the Japanese quickly got the range and shells burst with no uncertain effect. The Russian stretcher parties were soon performing their sad tasks amid smoke and conflagrations. The Kniaz Suvoroff was being torn to pieces, guns were hurled from their mountings and steel plates crumpled as if they were paper. Togo’s idea was to pour forth the greatest volume of fire in the shortest time, so as to paralyse the flagship; and, having finished turning “in succession”, he went ahead but parallel with his enemy.
The next phase began at 2.5, when Togo’s fleet inclined to starboard with an intention of crossing the Russians’ T. To “cross the T” is the admiral’s modern aim in action. The horizontal part of the letter represents his own fleet, and the vertical portion the enemy’s. For, by making a right angle, the former is in a position to bring the whole of a fleet’s broadside upon a foe who can fire only directly ahead. Rozhdestvenski understood this and bore away to starboard. The fight proceeded on parallel courses, but this time the Russians had their enemy almost on the beam.
The better trained Japanese gunners, firing shells whose bursting charge was seven times more powerful than that of the Russians, were so successful that the Kniaz Suvoroff, with her wrecked rangefinders, her after-
Her place was taken by the Alexander III, second ship in the line, which had to swerve to starboard till she headed south, such was the pressure by the speedier Japanese fleet. When the Oslyabya, flagship of the Second Squadron, also quitted the line, the remaining units were thrown into confusion and the third squadron found itself ahead of the second. But the contest of wits went on and Togo was resolved not to repeat his initial mistake. To press the enemy still more, he turned his squadton “together” 8 points to port, and then to port again 8 points. At 2.50 this manoeuvre was met by the Russians turning to starboard in succession 16 points.
Baltic Fleet Annihilated
The battle of Tsushima was followed in August by the signing of the Treaty of Portsmouth in the United States, but Russia never recovered from the shock of her defeat. Nominally the engagement lasted an afternoon, a night and part of the following day. Technically it was lost and won within the first hour, though before a shot had been fired, and even before the Russian fleet left the Baltic, the issue had been decided, because victories are often settled before the outbreak of a war.
THE JAPANESE ARMOURED CRUISER IWATE, a unit of the Japanese second squadron at the battle of Tsushima. The Iwate had a displacement tonnage of 9,750. She was 400 feet long and had a beam of 68 ft. 6 in. and a draught of 24 ft. 3 in. She was launched in 1900 and completed at Elswick (Northumberland) in 1901. The Japanese second squadron was able to fire a broadside of sixty-
But Tsushima was decisive in a much wider sense. If it admitted Japan into the aristocracy of nations, it rendered Russia ripe for future revolution after discontent had slowly made itself felt. It put a stop to Russian aspirations in the Far East, lowered her prestige, and reduced one menace against the British Empire, but at the same time it freed Germany of a military ascendancy on her eastern frontier, and only nine years later Germany was ready for the European war of 1914-
For Japan this sea-
In the Russian Baltic Fleet at the battle of Tsushima there was little basis for inspiration to fall back upon when everything went wrong, and the “all-
It is not rare in naval history for an admiral to be compelled during engagement to shift his flag from one ship to another. During the battle of the Dogger Bank, for instance, on Sunday, January 24, 1915, after the battle cruiser Lion had been injured by the enemy, Admiral Beatty summoned the destroyer Attack alongside. In her he raced at full speed to rejoin the rest of his squadron, and an hour later hoisted his flag in H.M.S. Princess Royal.
An Inspired Manoeuvre
So, too, at Tsushima when Rozhdestvenski was badly wounded and his flagship damaged, the destroyer Buiny was semaphored to come and take the admiral off. To steam a light craft alongside a big man-
She should have come up to leeward, but the Kniaz Suvoroff was all flames and smoke on the lee side. So the Buiny had the difficult task of approaching the windward side, avoiding the crippled
guns projecting out of the battered gun ports, and risking being smashed by the ocean swell against the Kniaz Suvoroff's uninviting hull. The big ship’s broken torpedo-
All this time the Buiny kept leaping skywards and then dropping down, until the unconscious admiral was half dragged, half carried to the Kniaz Suvoroff’s side, thence slid down on sailors’ backs to the destroyer’s deck.
The Russian cruiser Askold survived the Russo-
IN THE RUSSIAN SECOND ARMOURED SQUADRON was the battleship Sissoi Veliky. This vessel, of 10,433 tons displacement, had a length of 341 feet, a beam of 65 ft. 6 in. and a draught of 24 feet. Her armament included four 12-