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Sketcher.

JAPAN AT AVAR. Sir lan Hamilton has issued the second volume of his work on the late war. From a recent review we take the following extracs ; Of the deeds of Kuroki’s army in the great battle of Liaoyang, Sir lan gives a thrilling narrative. He tells the world that the Japanese 'were greatly inferior in numbers to the Russians. They had a weaker artillery, and they were attacking formidable positions, and had General Kuropatkin been a great officer he ought to have inflicted upon them a crushing- blow. The fighting was of the most fearful nature. Hero is a picture of the night attack by Kuroki’s troops on Manjuyama Hill : The volume of musketry, increased until it surpassed in its violence anything I ever heard. The artillerymen on either side worked for their lives round their bellowing guns, and sent continuous streams of shells shrieking- through the deepening gloom. In the fadinglight every flash of gun or bursting shrapnel showed up against the dull, red background of the sunset, like those vivid sparks' which coruscate here and there on the surface of a sheet of molten metal as it cools. The attack was marked by Homeric incidents. The Russians threw magnesium balls, which lighted up the Jap a nese t rench os. The men tried to put the lights out by flinging stones on them, but to no jmrpose. Then a soldier stepped forth from the ranks in good old Samurai style, calling- out his. name and regiment, so that it was heard above even the terrible din of the musketry, and , quietly set about extinguishing the fatal lights, with the butt end of his rifle. I have not yet got his name, but they say ho was not killed. As heroic was the conduct of Colonel Ota, at the Shaho. Holding high the regimental colour, he boldly led his two companies up the face of the hill in counter attack against the position ho had just lost. Immediately he was hit by four bullets, and had just strength sufficient in him to commend the standard to the guardianship of his major, who fell almost at once, desperately wounded, but handing on the sacred emblem to the adjutant, who, in his turn, dropped in Ms tracks to a Russian bullet. Last of all the Imperial ensign passed down to the hands of a private soldier of the first class, who led the last stage of the as-

sault and planted the insignia of

his regiment firmly on the corpse, strewn summit. . . . Can war be altogether bad when it inspires ordinary men to actions so touching and so sublime ?

In the fierce and prolonged encounter on the Shaho the bayonet was used again and again in the hand-to-hand encounters. The Japanese had a trick of grappling the Russian bayonets and wrenching them from the rifles. There were many instances where in the fury of the fight Russian and Japanese “had simultaneously transfixed one another on their bayonets/'

Sir lan was still on the Shaho lines when the news of the fall of Port Arthur came in :

Suddenly up rose a strange fierce song floating through the calm air of the spacious night. In cadence and tone it recalled the dervish chants which bade us prepare for battle in the memorable inights when we bivouacked —on the banks of the Nile. This surely must be the paean of triumph over the fall of Port Arthur. All the soldiers are singing.

r A minute later Sir lan got the news. Promptly he obtained permission to visit the fallen fortress. He found that the Japanese of the siege army thought the Russian seamen, contrary to the general opinion in Europe, “better men, stronger, more intelligent, and more highlytrained than their soldiers 1 .” But of the surrender, they had only one opinion, that it was wrong. A' terrible picture is -given of that Aceldama, 203 Metre Hill, the storming of which was really the decisive combat of the war :

PI ere the corpses do not so much appear to be escaping from the ground as to be the ground itself. Everywhere -there are bodiis or portions of bodies:, flattened out and stamped into the surface of the earth as if they formed part of it, and several times in the ascent I was l on the point of placing my foot on what appeared to be dust when I recognised by the indistinct outline that it was a human form (Stretched and 'twisted and rent to -gigantic size by the force of some frightful explosion. The very walls still standing in place are built of alternate layers of frozen corpses and sandbags.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/SOCR19070420.2.25

Bibliographic details

Sketcher., Southern Cross, Volume 15, Issue 3, 20 April 1907

Word Count
779

Sketcher. Southern Cross, Volume 15, Issue 3, 20 April 1907

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