The Battle of the Sea of Japan – Part 14

I now turn to those causes which may have led to the annihilation of our fleet in the Straits of Korea, and will endeavour as far as is within my comprehension to explain which of these causes lay within the operations and control of Admiral Rozhestvensky, and with what influences he had to reckon which were not under his control. I do not of course conceal the difficulty of such an examination, on account of the meagre and obscure data collected about this battle; and I trust that every one will regard this analysis as preliminary and conditional, errors in which are not only possible but inherently inevitable. I particularly desire that no one should fancy an intention on my part to criticise the operations of Admiral Rozhestvensky. I simply wish to help the public, astounded by this terrible occurrence, to gain some idea of the causes of the event and so to dispel unjust reflections and opinions, which may readily be formed from contradictory and often fantastic news. 

These causes may be set out in the following order :

  1. The weakness of the armoured section of Admiral Rozhestvensky’s fleet in comparison with the armoured section of that of Admiral Togo, which gave the Japanese preponderance in a purely artillery combat. 
  2. The weakness and paucity of numbers of his cruiser division, which seriously affected completeness of knowledge and accuracy as to the enemy’s movements, derived by means of reconnaissances. 
  3. The overwhelming superiority of the Japanese in the number of torpedo-craft – more than that, indeed, in the probable presence among them of submarines.
  4. The necessity, if such existed, for Admiral Rozhestvensky, independently of weather and other circumstances, to pass without delay into the Korean Straits, in spite of all disadvantages for him in the event of a battle in these straits. 
  5. The formations and evolutions of the Russian squadron at the time of battle. I will proceed to explain these points in order. 

As to the weakness of Admiral Rozhestvensky’s squadron in respect of armoured vessels, cruisers, and torpedo-boats, I need scarcely dwell upon this here. I was always profoundly convinced of this weakness and have consistently striven to make this apparent on every opportunity; at first in the sphere of my former position in the service, and since that time in the Press, beginning in November, 1904, with the articles “After the departure of the Second Pacific Squadron”. Here I should make a reservation. When I refer to these articles I may always expect the reproach that I do this out of more than a little personal feeling: viz. a desire to indicate that I had already spoken of this, that I gave warning of it but was not listened to, and so on. This is not so at all. It would be an unworthy falsehood on my part. What I wrote in those articles had long previously been submitted to many officers in the fleet, and I summed up in them only what I knew from many documents, what I had heard around me, being placed in a sphere where such opinions had special value. I only carefully rejected from the materials in my possession what might have borne the character of communicating useful information to the enemy. I refer to my articles and notes simply because therein everything is brought together in one place. 

As Admiral Rozhestvensky’s fleet proceeded, the opinion began to be formed, first in the foreign Press, and afterwards among ourselves, that this fleet was not so weak after all; that it possessed the advantage in number of heavy guns; that our artillery generally was better ; and the notion began also to spread afresh – in spite of the danger pointed out by me with special insistence – that the Japanese had lost many ships; that the remainder were damaged and worn out; that they had few torpedo-boats left; and so on. When it was shown that Admiral Rozhestvensky had conducted his entire fleet to the scene of actual operations, and had been joined by the division of Admiral Niebogatov, people began to say openly that the Russian fleet was the stronger; that if Rozhestvensky could carry out his battle plans with as much talent as he had displayed in conducting his fleet, victory was beyond question, and the inactivity of the Japanese was a sign of their weakness, and so on. The Japanese, on their side, did not of course dispel these opinions. Probably they aided by propagating them, i.e. continued the same kind of operations as before our feet left Libau.

Apparently this frame of mind was reflected in our fleet as well, and even in letters from responsible and highly placed persons. To what extent confidence, not only in their equality in strength with the Japanese, but in a certain superiority, was prevalent in our fleet, I cannot of course undertake to say, but merely observe that if this confidence existed, sustained by the apparent inactivity of the Japanese, it may have possibly induced less careful attention to the theatre of action, i.e. the conditions for battle in the Straits.

When this confidence was suddenly brought into contact with the reality which overthrew all the suppositions upon which it was based, the sudden awakening may well have contributed to the confusion and uncertainty in our manoeuvres that undoubtedly aggravated the disaster sustained by the Russian fleet. I write this, of course, entirely as a hypothesis. Whether anything like it really existed or not is a matter of history – I have spoken of the extravagant estimates of our strength, and their influence upon the people in general, among whom a certain anticipation of success, instead of a trembling hope, had begun to form. When failure follows such unfounded anticipations, it is much harder to bear, and accusations become more acute and passionate, with the greater probability that in the end they will not be directed against the right persons. This very danger compelled me to repeat my attempt to persuade the public that our fleet, even after the junction with Niebogatov’s division, continued to be considerably weaker than the Japanese. This, moreover, was not my personal opinion only  it was that of many very competent naval authorities. 

Beginning with 12 May, I inserted a complete series of articles in the “Novoye Vremya”, based upon a whole array of data, in which I once more attempted to demonstrate this. Reckoning the strength in each case exactly, I came to the conclusion (“Novoye Vremya”‘ of 19 May) that even with the absence from the Japanese of the battleship “Yashima” – which actually occurred – our feet was still approximately 1.4 times weaker than Togo’s. To balance the increase of our superiority in number of large ships I endeavoured to demonstrate the excellent character of the weapons which the Japanese possessed for battle and the long range of their 8″ guns, of which we had none at all. I also adduced all the facts that refuted the opinion that the Japanese artillery was in general far worse than ours. Concerning the torpedo-craft, I expressed the conviction that in spite of losses sustained their torpedo flotilla had not decreased, but had, on the contrary, increased after the commencement of the war. Finally, in order to explain why our ships were less powerful in spite of the apparent equality in displacement and in gunnery, I had to touch on a most important and delicate question, that of the capabilities of our vessels in comparison with those of the Japanese, derived from the systems and merits of their construction. 

In order to approach this question I have reverted to my former notes. In discussing the system of construction of our vessels in these, I could only refer to sources common to all – -the naval text-books – which sufficed to enable me to point out that in the vast majority of our battleships the extremities were unprotected by armour – i.e. the bows and stern; that this has long been considered dangerous –  that this was admitted even in the case of such modern vessels as the “Oslabya”. As to the merits of the construction of our vessels, independently of the types adopted, it was still more difficult to speak. These did not appear in the text-books, and it was compulsory not to communicate anything which ought to remain unknown to the Japanese. For this reason I merely quoted from the text-books the rates of speed of our ships and those of the Japanese, from which it could be seen how far ours were behind. I also mentioned the top-hampering of our vessels and their defective seaworthiness in comparison with those of the Japanese. Now that all our ships in question have either ceased to exist or are in the hands of the Japanese, who have the opportunity of finding out all about their capabilities, I consider that I may speak out on matters that I could not refer to then, which do not appear in the text-books. There can be no question now of revealing military secrets. At the same time it must be shown what vessels Admiral Rozhestvensky possessed, and his effective force of men, in order to clear them from the responsibility for failure which it would be cruelly unjust to cast upon them. Besides, it will be necessary for us in future to construct vessels quite as good as those of possible adversaries, and one of the best means of securing this is control by the public and the representatives of the public – the Press. This will be the subject of a later section.

Before continuing this examination of the probable causes of the disaster to our fleet in the Straits of Korea, one cannot help pausing to consider some consequences of the impression it produced. So bitter was the defeat, so painful and shameful for all, so many hopes were dashed to the ground thereby, at this turning-point in the course of an unfortunate war, that the natural outburst of many was: “Find and point out the guilty person! It cannot be that no one is guilty!” To blame the bureaucratic régime, our general unpreparedness, was impersonal and too general. That, indeed, could satisfy no one.

And in these passionate, spasmodic searches for guilty parties some were said to have been discovered, i.e. those who spoke of the absolute necessity of despatching a fleet to the Far East from the Baltic; and very properly those who pointed out the absolute necessity of sending reinforcements after the departure of the second squadron. Of course, after a certain time, anger becomes somewhat assuaged, for temper soon cools, and then such opinions fall to the ground of themselves, being entirely baseless and evoked by the sorrowful aspect of the moment ; but they are yet in existence. As I myself was among those who maintained the necessity for strengthening the Second Squadron, I cannot refrain from adverting to these opinions; the more so as certain circumstances connected with the despatch of our Baltic Fleet to the Far East are well known to me.

Now that the matter is of the past, the utmost foresight is exacted from us. You ought to have known we are told that the fleet was proceeding to certain disaster; why did you not point out that only a naval victory would bring the campaign to a successful issue? This foresight, according to some, should have been shown even with respect to the circumstances of Admiral Niebogatov’s surrender. When rumours began to spread, I know not whence derived and entirely unconfirmed, that the cause of this surrender was a mutiny, then it was said to me – not in jest, but in earnest – You ought to have foreseen this; you must have known that Niebogatov’s ships left Libau in the middle of labour disorders, and you ought to have been aware that this could not but be re-echoed among the crews of these ships! You ought to have foreseen that they would refuse to fight, and would exercise an evil influence on the crews of other vessels when they joined them  and that therefore it was particularly needful not to despatch this division. Moreover, this division only hindered Admiral Rozhestvensky in the battle – which you must also have been able to foresee. Although it is vexing to have to answer such random assertions, once they are uttered it is impossible to keep silence. “Leit be as you say”, I retorted at the time. Let us suppose the cause of the surrender was really a mutiny – although I do not see who could know it, nor how it could be known  still, let us suppose this. You appear to have forgotten that I wrote about the necessity for despatching reinforcements in November, and that the strikes broke out more than a month later. According to you, once they had broken out and might influence the crews, I ought to have begun to write : “Do not despatch Admiral Niebogatov’s division, as they will surrender through a mutiny of the crews!”, Are not these previsions after the event the source of the rumours about the circumstances of the surrender of Admiral Niebogatov ? With regard to the point that his division would only be a hindrance in the battle, such a supposition has no foundation whatever. If it were conceivable that at the commencement of the battle the ships of this division would begin to sink, thus causing depression of spirits among the crews of the other vessels, and that from this cause confusion arose among them, I could have understood that one might hypothetically argue in this way. But as a fact the contrary happened. How could he hinder vessels from perishing? He could only help them by remaining above water and drawing on himself part of the enemy’s force. 

On the morning of 28 May only the one division of Admiral Niebogatov and the battleship “Orel” faced the enemy. Admiral Rozhestvensky, wounded, was already at that time outside the sphere of the battle – aboard the destroyer “Biedovy”. Admiral Enquist, with three cruisers, at that time entered Manila, far to the south. Was it necessary to foresee that, and not despatch Admiral Enquist and the cruisers accompanying him? One may travel very far with this sort of reasoning. Some folks lose their heads to such an extent as to hurl reproaches at Admiral Rozhestvensky did he not foresee that he was going to certain destruction? And foreseeing that, why did not he, and all his fleet, enter a neutral port and disarm? Those who talk thus do not understand that in Russia at that time many people would have accused Admiral Rozhestvensky of faintheartedness, cowardice, or even of treachery. And then those who talked in this way and made random accusations: would they not have been among the first to blame the Admiral for a disgraceful disarmament of the whole fleet on the eve of an encounter with the enemy? Would this have involved less disgrace and loss of prestige to Russia, with less influence on the course of military operations, than even such a terrible disaster in battle? How would it be if every military captain, recognizing his weakness, were to lay down arms beforehand? And who has any right to demand such a thing?

News received from Vladivostok from the special correspondent of the “Novoye Vremya” threw sufficient light on some of the causes of the disaster. It is apparently true that Admiral Rozhestvensky allowed himself to be encountered unexpectedly, not being in battle array at the moment of encounter. Two columns in line ahead formation are a very unsuitable array for battle. A fleet is deprived of the necessary flexibility to reply rapidly by corresponding manoeuvres to each move of the enemy. Through this, apparently, our two leading battleships – the “Suvorov” and the “Oslabya” – succumbed to the concentrated fire of the main force of the Japanese fleet, and their destruction could not of course but produce a depressing effect upon the rest. Probably, indeed, it brought about dangerous confusion among them. It is confirmed that the “Oslabya” perished from shot-holes forward, which – thanks to the method of our naval construction – was without armour, as I have already written. It is proved that our vessels were literally strewn with a hail of 6″ shells, which weapons some people, for their own reasons, made light of previously, being interested only in heavy guns. The superiority in this class of ordnance among the Japanese was enormous. It is also a fact that the weather was very stormy. Hence much is comprehensible as regards the destruction of the battleships of the “Suvorov” type; and in particular as regards the influence on the battle of the evident pre-eminence of the Japanese ships in seaworthiness, thanks again to the imperfections of our system of naval construction.

The question of the despatch of the Baltic Fleet to the Far East was inseparably bound up with the view taken by those with whom the conduct of the war rested. What bearing a success gained by such a feet would be likely to have on the issue of the struggle rested with the decision of those leaders at the various stages of the war. It was for them to say whether the offensive should be assumed at all hazards, and to what results such action might lead; or whether they should stand on the defensive, and if so, what should be the farthest point to which they ought to recede. It was for them to decide finally whether the war should be continued or dropped, and its hopelessness and their own impotence accepted; – dropped, I repeat, and peace accepted on any terms whatever, however shameful and oppressive they might be. Everybody hoped that God would grant a speedy assembly of the representatives of Russia, that they might take the responsibility attached to the deciding of these harassing questions; but meanwhile the decision rested with the Government. It really mattered little who settled these questions: the Ministry, or an assembly of the nation’s representatives. 

The part to be played by the military authorities throughout would remain the same – to supply a trustworthy estimate of the warlike forces and matériël at our command, and afterwards, when those conducting the war (whoever they might be) had adopted one or other course, to point out the best means of applying those forces and resources to attain the desired result. That the issue in this case depended entirely upon the command of the sea there is no need for me to point out. All are now fully convinced of it. Before the declaration of war, however, even when the disputes with Japan had begun to take an alarming turn, neither the Ministry nor the Admiralty were so convinced. Besides that, the latter had not fulfilled the primary duty incumbent upon them, – to make clear to the Government the weakness of our fleet in Far Eastern waters, its unpreparedness, and the defenceless state of our naval bases there. If that had been done, and if the Ministry of Marine had been in a position to show that success was out of the question without command of the sea, concessions would have been made to Japan and war thus averted. 

Once war had broken out, both these questions became of secondary importance. Then the task of the Ministry was confined to concentrating at the seat of war as large a naval force as possible, and pushing on the necessary preparations with the utmost speed. Every naval officer who was given the opportunity of expressing his opinion at the time, either within the limits of his professional capacity or through correspondence in the Press, could only call for the adoption of one course. That was, the immediate despatch to the Far East of as many battleships as possible. The question whether or not they could get there, whether they were sufficient, or in good condition, and so forth, could only affect in a minor degree the urgency of these details. Only the Government could put a stop to the war once it had commenced  and, as it did not take this course, the authorities had to operate as best they could with the means at their command, though, realising the indifferent quality of those means, they were bound to do their utmost to put them on as good a footing as possible. Here, again, reasonable limitations should have been regarded. For instance, when our squadron in the Far East no longer existed; when no more than two battleships were left in the Baltic – of which one, though re-armed and remodelled, could only be classed as obsolete, besides one armoured cruiser and a certain number of smaller vessels, which could not affect the issue of modern warfare for the Tsushima battle was decided by gun fire – when it was known for a certainty that the Japanese feet had really suffered no appreciable loss, I say that in these circumstances it would undoubtedly have been rank folly to despatch the proposed Fourth Squadron. 

But matters were by no means in that state at the outbreak of hostilities. The squadron at Port Arthur, considerably inferior to the Japanese fleet though it was, constituted a considerable force, not to be sent rashly to certain destruction as long as the possibility remained of its being reinforced with such a large body of ships as, in addition, would secure a good chance of success. Only such a victory could turn the scale in our favour. It was, however, just the knowledge of the weak points in our fleet, both as regards ships and men (and they were very well known to our Admiralty), that should have spurred them on to fresh and titanic displays of energy in fitting out and despatching such a force as, not only on paper, but in number of guns and tonnage of ships, should be equal to the Japanese Aeet, and even surpass it. Then, not content with resting on their laurels, they should have sent more – everything that could float and was capable of reaching the seat of hostilities. In this way they ought to have tried to crush our opponents by sheer weight of numbers. It would certainly have been more expedient to send all this force at once, and not in detachments; of that, at least, there can be no question.

How could it be foreseen, though, that even all this would not save the situation; that our squadron would twice put out from, and twice return to, Port Arthur; that it would be sunk in its own harbour without effecting anything  and that the fortress itself would be involved in its ruin? To sit calmly by and reserve the fleet in home waters for some future occasion, and not only to foresee all this, but to be also so firmly convinced of it as to be determined to do nothing, surpasses all human power and capacity.

If such a gift of prevision and determination were granted to humanity, then it would certainly be the greatest boon that could fall to us, since wars would cease ipso facto. Who would go to war, knowing beforehand that he would be disastrously defeated and subjected to far greater and more humiliating conditions after that war than before? What naval or military commander, in possession of such a power of foresight, could make up his mind to accept battle? In all quarrels the weaker would submit to the stronger, and accept his demands without offering resistance. But for the present this all-embracing prevision, which may well grow to be “foreknowledge absolute” (as Milton says), is only a dream! it has never been known as yet, and in all past wars the vanquished cause has been that which was palpably over-confident. There was as much reason to foresee that our armies would be defeated, or, rather, it ought to have been easier to foresee it. Land warfare had already taught us the rate at which success must be purchased. Any manual of strategy would have informed us that it would be impossible to feed and provide by a single line of railway, at a distance of some 4,700 miles, an army of more than a certain strength, however great might be the resources at the other end of that line; and that the shortness, convenience, and safety of the line of communications forms a most important factor in the problem of campaigning. 

With no less difficulty the fall of Port Arthur might have been foreseen, and the futility of defending it, as also the issue of the battle of Liao-yang, apart from that of Mukden, and the folly of sending fresh troops to certain destruction after such a warning.

A consciousness of the natural difficulties presented by the scene of operations, and a clear perception of the unpreparedness and shortcomings of our navy and army, should have impelled the Ministries of War and Marine to do all that lay in their power to convince the Government that there was no chance of this war being successfully conducted. If the Government failed to listen to them, or had unfortunately taken the false step of declaring war, it was incumbent upon them to display the utmost energy in turning to the best possible account the means at their command. More especially was it the duty of the Ministry of Marine to make clear the fact that the success of the war depended on a victory at sea, and once hostilities had commenced to insist on the employment of all our available naval forces. 

Of course this could not be expected of the Ministry of War, considering how little of naval warfare is known in Russia, even among professional sailors. On several occasions I had the good fortune to hear General Kuropatkin express the opinion that navies in general, and not only the Russian navy, were of very little utility. This opinion continued to receive support at the War Office, even after our disasters on land, which were solely ascribed to the mistakes of the late Commander-in-Chief, though really due to the much-derided “command of the sea” and the line of communication it afforded the Japanese. That was really ruinous. The Ministry of Marine could not understand it, because, if true, there was no way out except a candid and definite admission to the Government of their impotence; or to let the further events of the war demonstrate their incapability  or else to make an end of the whole matter and commence preparations for the despatch of such a force as would at least be numerically superior to that of the enemy. But they vacillated, postponed a definite decision, and all the time secretly hoped that, God willing, neither army nor fleet would be required. 

Meanwhile, they carefully hid their wounds, as also did the War Office, and still cherished the hope that our army would not fail to be victorious over such an insignificant enemy as the Japanese. This game of bluff, while saving the face of things – a course prompted by failure to understand the relative conditions of the combatants – might have been exposed in a fatal way. It is the habit of Departments to conceal the truth from the Government; not to have the manliness to open their eyes even during the most critical juncture in the life of the Empire, and to forget that they are responsible to the whole nation. I am firmly convinced that if they had only acted differently the Government would certainly have listened to them and war would most likely have been averted, or if it had once been declared it would have had a different and more successful issue. This was admitted by all, even by the Government, although, alas! too late ; but it is the bounden duty of a Government not only to adopt a decided course, but also to put the Ministries in question face to face with the country and turn their activity into the right channel whatever the issue, whether to continue the war or to conclude peace. It should have made them tell the grave truth and act on that truth.

Official news received later gave some particulars, but did not elucidate the facts about Rozhestvensky ; but nevertheless it was impossible to pass over them in silence. In particular, the matter was further complicated by the inexplicable fact of the destroyer “Grozny” parting company with the “Biedovy”, on board which the wounded Admiral was at the time. According to an account by the commander of the “Grozny” and taken down by the correspondent of the “Rus”, what happened was that the “Biedovy” hailed him and inquired what speed he could go at. As soon as he replied he was ordered to make for Vladivostok. But who could have given him such an order? From the Admiral’s report, it is clear that he was insensible all the time and did not hear of the “Biedovy’s”, surrender until the evening of 28 May. That signifies that the order can only have been given by Rozhestvensky’s flag-captain, Klanier-de-Kolon. Commander Baranov, of the “Biedovy”, was junior to Commander Andreiev of the “Grozny”. Therefore it may be inferred that the order for the “Biedovy’s” surrender must also have been given by Rozhestvensky’s flag-captain. Why did the commander of the “Grozny”, which had already sunk one of the Japanese boats by a lucky shot, not try to improve his success and rescue the captured Commander of the Fleet?

Surely for such a prize it would have been worthwhile to fight to the very last. All these questions should have received an official reply long ago, so that only those who were guilty might have been held responsible, and not those who were innocent; on them alone public reprobation should fall, the proper outcome of official demands and representations. But how could these representations be made, when no precise information was vouchsafed to us?

In precisely the same way it long remained an open question why the four battleships surrendered at the same time as Admiral Niebogatov – the most vital and burning part of this great national question. On the strength of accounts of doctors and chaplains who made their way to Shanghai, after release from capture, we were told that Niebogatov, without asking the consent of his captains, hoisted the signal, “I am surrounded, so shall surrender”. I should have taken this for one of the most elaborate fictions of war correspondents as to the conduct of Russian officers, but I could not do so in the face of these reports from Shanghai. The fact is that they distinctly say that the first report of the commander of the “Izumrud”, dated 3 June, concluded with just such an assertion respecting Niebogatov’s signal, and that this signal precisely accounted for the “Izumrud’s” flight to Vladivostok. The proof that something wrong really did happen is to be found in the fact that in the message of thanks and approval from the Throne (even to the ships that fled from the scene of action) Niebogatov was expressly excluded. But what part should his captains have played, and ought they to have obeyed the signal? 

All this needed explanation, since everybody. blamed the crews. In the reports of Admirals Enquist and Rheinstein, based on the representations of the commander of the “Bodry”, there was also some discrepancy. It is plain from the report of the former that some of the cruisers under his command, for example, the “Oleg,, “Aurora, and “Zhemtshug” turned south quite late at night, after several attempts to get through to north ward, and finding himself deserted on the morning of 28 May the Admiral waited for the rest of the squadron, hoping that it would come heading to the south. It might have needed to take that course in order to coal from the transports left in that direction. The last clause in Admiral Enquist’s report somehow or other did not ring sound. It is true that he witnessed the loss of some of our best battleships; and that when he saw that the rest were seriously damaged he undoubtedly felt that the day was already lost. What then remained for the surviving ships to do, pursued as they were by a superior force of the enemy, except steer in search of the transports, so that they might re-coal? Their only chance of safety was to break through in the direction of Vladivostok. As a fact, this is just what they should have done, judging from other accounts of the battle. And, moreover, as I have pointed out above, the report of the commander of the “Bodry” also contradicted this. According to him, all the cruisers and some of the torpedo-boats turned southward about 7.30 p.m., and he evidently saw this. It was not quite dark, for he informed us that somewhat later the “Dmitri Donskoi”,  “Vladimir Monomakh”,  “Izumrud”, “Almaz”, and “Svietlana” steered to the north, and only the three cruisers named pursued their course to the south in company with Rear-Admiral Enquist, the commander of the cruiser division. Consequently the major part of the cruisers endeavoured to follow their admiral, but thought better of it afterwards and steered to the north. They probably did so because they saw that all the undamaged battleships had taken that course.

Admiral Enquist had seen nothing on the morning of 28 May, i.e. if he had gone at full speed all night (say 15 knots), which, as he knew, battleships cannot make, especially when they are injured. The commander of the “Bodry” in his report seemed to point to the same conclusion, when he said that while he was engaged in rendering aid to the “Blestiastshy” the cruisers under Admiral Enquist made off, and that he could not overtake them. Having expended all his coal, no other course was left to him than to act as he did. Altogether the conduct of this portion of the fleet, and in particular its flight under Admiral Enquist to Manila, was far from being clear, as was also Niebogatov’s surrender and that of the destroyer “Biedovy”. I cannot help pointing out that, both in the case of the ships that made for Manila, and those that tried to get through to Vladivostok, the loss in men was trifling· This was especially the case on board the battleships “Imperator Nikolai I”, “Admiral Seniavin” and “Admiral Apraxin” while the “Biedovy” had no men either killed or wounded. Nor must it be forgotten that these further reports made no mention of mines. It is really not easy to admit that there were any in the neighbourhood, especially as the Japanese were under way and circling round our squadron, as is markedly clear from later reports. There can also be no reasonable doubt that the action was purely an artillery duel, and that even battleships of the “Suvorov” and of the “Oslabya” types deliberately went out of range of gun fire.

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