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WAR IN THE FAR EAST.

The Battle of Tsushima. Details of the Engagement. Togo's Brilliant Tactics. united Press Association—By illectrie Telegraph—Copyright Sydney, June 20 The "Daily Telegraph's" correspondent i»ives the following description of the battle of Tsushima : — The day was foggy, and he'ivy mists hung low over the water. The Ku-sian fleet was divided into Bye division?, making fen knots. As the ships neared Tsushima the se.i grow rough, and by the time Admiral Togo's comuiHud whs in a position to engage the Unmans the sea was running hi h, making shooting difficult. When the signal from the flagship Mikasa " Ba ready to leave," re iched the fleet at 5.30 in the morning, the Japanese became jubilant. They left the rendezvous immediately a wireless message announced the approach of Admiral Rozjestvenski. Owing to rough weather, the torpedo flotilla was unable to proceed with the fleet, and took shelter at the Port of Tsushima. The various divisions took up the positions as the Russian squadron, steaming in a; double line o!: tremendous length, approached. At 2 o'clock in the afternoon the fighting flags of Japan were hoisted amid cheers. Admiral Togo signalled, " The fate of the Empire hangs solely on this battle; nil must use their best endeavour." The massage was answered in various ways from ali the ships, and the fleet steamed to battle.

A Terrible Trap.

The mist now lifted, and disclosed to the Russians the terrible trap into which they had run. On their port side they saw indistinctly in the haze the first and second detachments of the Japanese fleet, whilst swinging round to starboard were the third and fourth fleets. The fleets steamed alongside one another for some time, and when off Okinashima the Russians opened | fire. The first shot from the Japanese ships was fired at thirteen minutes past two, and soon an incessant and thunderous cannonade was proceeding. The markmanship of the Russians was inaccurate, but most of the Japanese gunners found their marks, and wrought havoc on the oposing ships, smashing iron and woodwork, and converting the decks into veritable shambles. The first straight shot from the guns struck the conning tower of the battleship Oslibya, and killed Admiral Poelkersham and several of his staff. Other shots set the ship on fire. In the meantime the Japanese destroyer flotilla had taken up its position in the starboard. The main force of battleships and cruisers stood about five miles off, and used their big guns, and slowly and surely pressed the enemy towards the coast of Kyushu. Finding they were being thus driven, the Enssians quickly altered their course to the eastward, but no sooner had this move been taken than the Japanese changed their course to the north. The battleship Mikasa, which up to that time had been leading, took the rear, whilst the 1 cruiser Kasuga now headed the squadron. A Heavy Duel.

Both sides were carrying on a heavy duel, but it was apparent that the Japanese had the advantage. The sight of the Oslabya on fire no dcubt disconcerted the Russians as much as it cheered tae Japanese, for shortly afterwards the former changed their course again, this time to the west. The Japanese followed, the second division concentrating its fire upon the vessel which was in flames, and on the various fligships, the Kniaz Suvaroff being particularly selected for heavy bombardment. The first Japanese division steamed with all speed abreast of tho enemy, pouring in a severe fire, while the second division steered round to the flank, thus almost completoly surrounding the Armada. Thore was little hop 9of escape for tho Russians, who were compelled to fight, and were attacked from Jill directions. Tho Japanese torpedo boats (destroyers ?) dodged about in all quarters. It was in the middle of the afternoon that this clever, tactical move was performed, and the position of the Japanese fleet remained about the same throughout the night Deadly Japanese Gunnery. The continued concentrating of fire on various ships appeared to be a preconceived arrangement, and was terribly destructive. One battleship sank in the first five minutes, and the cruiser Oleg, the flagship of Admiral Enkvist, was badly damaged, rendering it necessary for the Admiral to transfer his flag to the cruiser Aurora, which, in turn, became the centre of a terriHe cannonade. The Russian markmanship did not improve. About 90 per cent of the shots missed, and those that did find the marks were practically harmless owing to the inferior make of the shells. The Japanese, on the other hand, were placing the majority of their shots with deadly preoision, wrecking guns, tearing gaping holes in the hulls, and killing and wounding wholesale until consternation began to appear amongst the Russians. Several Russian ships could be seen desperately looking for loopholes of escape. Though the Japanese confined them within the fighting lines during the daylight, it was obvious that several would escape as soon as darkness descended. Then followed the capture of Admiral Rozjestvenski, details of which were sent by cable. After his flagstaff had been sunk, the fight continued without the Russian Commander-in-Chief. The ships were bursting into flames, and as the running fight proceeded the Russians were slowly but surely anni- j hilated. The Approach of Darkness. Towards sunset the auxiliary cruiser Ural was seen to be running away. A chase eDsued, in which she was sunk, shells exploding in her boilers. Her crew escaped in boots, and landed in Japan. As the evening drew on the area of the battle extended considerably, and that, combined with the heavy pall of smoke, caused by the guns and the burning ships, led to Admiral Togo losing sight of various units. The Oslabya was with the approach of evening, still burning vigorously, and the order was given to the fifth destroyer flotilla to sink her. She shelled the boats as they approached, and demaged the Shiranuhi, one shell striking the fore discharge tubt), whilst another damaged the fore part of the vessel. None of the other destroyers were damaged, and they succeeded in sinking the burning vessel. The Russians were evidently at a loss as to what their manoeuvres should be, and darkness, bringing with it increased determination on the part of the Japanese to destroy the enemy, made confusion worse oonfounded. It was for a time impossible to tell in the din and smoke what was the damage done. The Japanese destroyer flotillas sent several vessels to the bottom, whilst the Japanese ships remained in good fighting trim. Many of the Russian ships were hors do combat, and the sea was | covered with debris and floating men for I miles around, and but little assistance could be rendered. Torpedo Attacks at Night.

} When tho fighting was at its highest a i signal was received by oho of the torpedo flotillas that there was a black object like a submarine amongst the Russian vessels, and the flotilla was ordered to attack it. The flotilla set out on its mission, and was surprised to find that the object was a huge vpssel floating upside down with a number of men climbing on to the keel. The firing from the big Japanese ships was suspended at sunset, but torpedo attacks were made during the night, the flotillas forming two sections. The enemy's searchlights prevented Jho success of the two initial attacks, but on the third expedition the battleship Orel was put out of the fighting line, and the battleship Navarin sunk, and others wore badly damaged. The Russians did not attempt to send out their torpedo boats under cover of darkness. The Orel, having two big holes in hor starboard quarter and her engine room wrecked, ran into Maizuru, a naval port, and was there seized by the authorities, and the crew made prisoners. In the darkness Admiral Enqvist managed to flee from the fighting line with the cruisers Oleg, Aurora, and Jemtchug. Pulling up his torped nets, and stacking his coal aft, he escaped immediately the opportunity presented itself, and ran down to Manila. The Bombardment Resumed.

When at daybreak ,the remaining Russian ships attempted to steer a course to the northwards, the Japanese vessels pressed hard ahead, being determined that; not a, single ship should escape. Fighting was resumed at nine o'clock, and firing continued on and off throughout the day. The battle was now being continued to the

< north of Okinoshima in a mist which pre- I vented any sighting further than at a distance of five miles. Ne^r the Liau coast a group of ships consisting of a battleship ( Admiral Niebogatoif's flagship, Imperator Nirolai), tho coast defence ship General ] Admiral Apraxin, aud the cruiser Izumrud worejencountered by the Japanese squadron. During the initial fighting tho Izumrud flod, a.d tl c remaiuder hauled down their fligf?, Admiral Niebogatoff surrendering • them to the main fifict. Whilst the surrender was being accepted by the Jn panose, the pursuit of theremainder of th«» Russians wa-3 temporarily suspended. The coast defence ship Admiral Musbakoff was espied in a south western direction, and the Japanese crir'sers Iwate < and Yakumo immediately sot out and sank i her, as she refused to surrender. Tho fourth < division of the Japanese second torpedo flotilla also eppied'the Dmitri Donskoi endeavouring iocs"ape towards tho north . west, and pursued her until after nightfall, being un-ible to sink.her, though torpedoes - and guns were used, The Final Stages, Recaived June 21, 9.24 a.m. Sydney, June 21 _ The fighting gradually dwindled until it resolved itself into killing lame ducks. Detachments of Japanese were cruising about looking for any Russians that they might devour. Why Japan Won. The theory put forward that submarines were engaged in tho battle is in no way borne out by the v .rious accounts or by the reports of Togo. There is no doubt that the victory must be attributed to the admirable seamanship and tactics of Togo, and the. excellence of the Japanese gunnery, and the skill and daring of the torpedo craft, which seem to have even exceeded the exploits of Port Arthur. Possibly also the results achieved are explicable to some extent by the low morale of the Russian crews, the heavy seas, the bad ammunition, and the faultiness of the two lines of formation in which Rczjestvenski advanced to the attack. A lieutenant on board the Aurora de clares that the success of the Japanese was due in no small way to the practical invisibility of their ships, whilst the Russians with their drab black topped funnels were plainly visible. He declares that the Japanese torpedo boats in an unaccountable way were darting hither and thither, thus making it necessary for the Russian ships "to steam in circles to avoid them. It was in this way that the Oleg, Aurora, and. Jemtshug worked their way out of the fighting line after dark and found themselves in the southern entrance to Tsushima Strait, whereupon they fled southwards. How the Victory Was Received* With the knowledge that a great nayal battle was imminent, the Japanese nation awaited calmly.but with suppressed excitement, the coming conflict. I hey received the news of the victory with the same re- , markable control which characterised them throughout. Passengers by eastern vessels who were inYokohama when the victory was , 1 announced, were surprised at the quietness with which the people heard the news. They had gone through a national crisiß . quietly and set about preparations for > celebrating the success; but anything i approaching the enthusiasm shown by > Britons over the relief of Mafeking was | j absent. Newspaper exchanges show that prior to the battle a remarkable ignorance existed as to the whereabouts of both fleets.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG19050621.2.10

Bibliographic details

Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXII, Issue 6601, 21 June 1905

Word Count
1,937

WAR IN THE FAR EAST. Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXII, Issue 6601, 21 June 1905

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