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In Action With the Japanese Navy: Two Personal Accounts of the War at Sea During the Russo-Japanese War, 1904—Before Port Arthur in a Destroyer by Hesibo Tikowara & With Togo by H. C. Seppings Wright

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In Action With the Japanese Navy: Two Personal Accounts of the War at Sea During the Russo-Japanese War, 1904—Before Port Arthur in a Destroyer by Hesibo Tikowara & With Togo by H. C. Seppings Wright
Leonaur Original
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Author(s): Hesibo Tikowara & H. C. Seppings Wright
Date Published: 2017/05
Page Count: 380
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-78282-595-1
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-78282-594-4 (hardcover)

Two riveting accounts of victory at sea during the Russo-Japanese War

When Russia and Japan came to war in the East, in the early years of the 20th century, there can be little doubt that Russia’s command was hampered by hubris. An imperial power of many centuries standing was required to summarily deal with an eastern upstart which had but recently dragged itself into the modern age. That harsh lessons would be taught was beyond question, however it was to be the Japanese who would do the teaching. The Russo-Japanese War has become a fascinating subject, particularly for students of naval warfare, for it included the Battle of Tsushima. This special Leonaur book is essential for those interested in the naval aspect of this conflict, because it contains two engaging first-hand accounts from the Japanese naval perspective. The first takes the reader into the heart of the action with an officer of a Japanese cruiser, and is an outstanding and unusual account of ‘modern’ sea conflict. The second account tells of the sea war as seen by the only civilian correspondent who was permitted to join the Japanese battle fleet in action, making it a unique perspective from a western observer, particularly since the author had personal access to Admiral Togo. This Leonaur edition contains illustrations which were not included in the original editions of these books.

Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket; our hardbacks are cloth bound and feature gold foil lettering on their spines and fabric head and tail bands.

At Sea, September 20th.<br>
This morning, before sunrise, a furious bombardment of Port Arthur from all four points of the compass awoke me. I at once went on to the bridge, and saw that the large battleships and cruiser division, at a distance of eight miles from Port Arthur, were firing their heavy guns. The forts on shore were answering, although their projectiles seldom reached the line of our vessels.<br>
At the same time General Nogi’s army, which has already taken many of the positions which dominate the line of Russian forts, was employing all its guns against the town and forts.<br>
It was the most gorgeous sight I have ever witnessed in my life.<br>
Dense clouds of smoke marked the discharge of each gun, and as I looked towards the town through my glasses, I could see masses of far thicker smoke which now and again burst into terrible conflagrations.<br>
After an hour and a half of this fiendish din, which filled one’s imagination with a vivid picture of this world during the volcanic period, we heard the deafening roar of a terrible explosion. A huge sheet of flame breaking through a dense, black bank of smoke marked the position of the catastrophe.<br>
I asked one of my comrades what had happened, and with the plan of the town before us, we made out that one of the powder magazines in the arsenal had exploded. Minutes and hours went by, yet the intensity of the fixe never flagged; most of the time more than thirty heavy projectiles a minute were falling into the besieged city.<br>
All her forts kept firing their heavy guns, which made a quite distinct sound from the detonations of the Japanese artillery.<br>
All our ships are continually under way, steaming at half speed, manoeuvring, now turning their stem and now their bows towards the harbour, so as to fire their heavy guns alternately.<br>
We destroyers cannot take part in this fiendish symphony because of the short range of our guns, but we also keep continually moving to avoid being struck by any of the enemy’s shells.<br>
We are all struck by the fact that the Russian battleships have not gone out to the outer roadstead to take part in the fray. However, it looks as though Admiral Togo had foreseen this, as we destroyers have been given no orders respecting the Russian battleships. We are all longing for them to come out, for then we can attack them in our turn, and be participators in a fight of which up to the present we have been merely spectators. As I have said before, the Russian projectiles hardly ever reach us, but a little before one o’clock in the afternoon an enormous shell, which must have been at least 28 centimetres in diameter, fell about two hundred metres from my boat and sank into the sea with an ugly hiss.<br>
A few metres more and the Osiva, my crew and myself, would have ceased to belong to the Japanese Navy.<br>
The noise is really awful. We are all half stupefied, and the air vibrates in the most extraordinary way.<br>
The atmospheric commotion produced by the artillery fire is so great that at a quarter past two an absolute hurricane arose, accompanied by a fall of rain such as one only expects to see in the tropics.<br>
At three in the afternoon punctually the fire of the ships suddenly stops, and they retire out to sea in two large divisions, one composed of battleships and the other of cruisers.<br>
But the bombardment by land goes on uninterruptedly, and with implacable determination, as though the besiegers were imbued with the desire to demolish once and for all the immovable blocks of granite cut out of the living rock which form the walls of the forts.<br>
There can be no doubt that a serious attack on the besieged town is in course of preparation, and we all entertain hopes that our army will gain a decisive victory, strong though the defences of Port Arthur may be.<br>
Night draws on, yet the firing continues. At nine o’clock, when it is completely dark, the Japanese ships once more draw near and open fire, whilst the land forts, from Liautishan to Golden Hill; answer them.<br>
It is now evident that the troops are getting ready for an assault, and Admiral Togo wants to prevent the gunners in the forts which face the sea from helping their companions who are struggling with the Japanese infantry.<br>
The sight is twice as magnificent now as it was by day. Enormous searchlights flash in the darkness, momentarily illuminating the black masses of the ships and forts, while the heavy guns belch out sheets of flame several yards in length, which die away with startling suddenness.<br>
Meanwhile the searchlights dart their beams of light in all directions, powerful and blinding; they cross and clash in space with the most marvellous effect, or fall on to the sea like flaming swords which mow down all opposition.<br>
With good field-glasses we can see the effect produced by the fire of our soldiers on land. There also the brilliant lights are flashing, and searching the uttermost parts of the hills. They climb to the summits, dive into the torrents, descend into the valleys, and from my position, which is to the extreme west of the peninsula, I can see their white radiance illuminating dense masses of men who are hurling themselves forward in the assault of the defences.<br>
Suddenly the fire of the ships and the land batteries ceases. Complete silence reigns, broken now and again by a few shots from the enemy.<br>
We go a little nearer the shore, and while I am manoeuvring to get to a convenient distance for seeing, without being in the way, we hear a deafening uproar familiar to all Japanese ears—It is the “Banzai!” of the attack. The rattle of musketry sounds fiercely and continuously, whilst other noises die down. Then come the shouts of our soldiers, “Sutsumé! sutsumé!” (“Forward!”) as they dash on to death or victory.
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