Saturday 3 April 2010

Pre-Dreadnought Photos: Part 9

Another Russo-Japanese flavoured instalment from the ever-growing SteelonSand Archive now, leading off with an absolutely cracking (albeit German) postcard view of a contemporary Torpedo Launcher in action.

Whether the central figure has been scared white by the exposed and dangerous nature of his action station I am not sure, but I think this card gives a very good sense of just how precarious an occupation was 'sailoring' in Pre-Dreadnought navies. Not for them the armoured turrets and blast screens of later eras, oh no! You stood and were counted directly in the line of fire, just like your ground-based colleagues, although whereas a scattered and ragged volley of rifle shots might just miss you, the massive amount of high-velocity explosive directed at your ship was not very likely to do the same....

The postcard itself is printed with the permission of the Illustrated News of Leipzig, so perhaps it depicts an actual event, although of course exactly what is unclear; but certainly a striking image.

Heading East, then, we have a stereo-view from a set by Underwood and Underwood Ltd, of the RJW, in this case shell fire having started secondary fires on Golden Hill behind the roadstead at Port Arthur:

I don't know what the chap in the foreground makes of the scene, apart from the fact that he is probably thinking what I am thinking; to whit: "which Russian ships are those?"

I am going to hazard a guess that the one in the centre can only be the ugly bulk of either the Peresvyet or the Pobyeda Battleships, bearing in mind their silhouette and the fact that they must be of the 1st Pacific Squadron.
battleships-cruisers has a good entry on the Class here:

As to the three-funnelled Cruiser type to the left, I'm going to go for the Pallada Class, either the Diana or the Pallada herself:

Next we move on to another stereo-view, this time of the aftermath of the Japanese victory, and the Russian Mine-Layer the Amur, sunk at her moorings:

This photo gives a nice sense of the busily industrial architecture that was Port Arthur, mixing alongside more traditional eastern buildings. Wikipedia has a view of her in happier times:

She was credited with having laid the mines that claimed the Japanese Battleships Hatsuse and Yashima, so I guess all is fair in love and war...

Moving on to a contemporary photographic postcard, now, of the only survivor of the conflict from the Russian side, namely the Cruiser Aurora, moored at St Petersburg.
She owes her current state of preservation of course, to later exploits in the Revolutionary era:

At 21:45 on the 25th of October 1917, it was her guns that signalled the attack on the Winter Palace, and after duties as a training ship, she was made a floating monument in 1948.

Switching sides now, we have a splendid postcard view of a Japanese gun crew in action from S. Hildesheimer Co. ltd, London and Manchester:

It is interesting in that the credited artist is none other than R. Caton Woodville, that graphic chronicler of all things Military and Colonial; more famous certainly for his views of the daring exploits of Victoria's Soldiery, so unusual to see his take here on some naval action.
The title reads " practice", but I think the drama inherent in the scene is more reminiscent of something less benign; the starboard 6" QFs of the Mikasa at Tsushima, perhaps?

Next we have a postcard view of the Battleship Asahi from C.W. Faulkner:

I don't know, but something about the background of the picture reminds me more of the docks of Clydebank, Scotland, where she was built, rather than somewhere more exotic; that would certainly explain her white colour scheme. Did I say white? she does seem rather begrimed and filthy to be freshly commissioned - although perhaps after a trial run where they had been thrashing the boilers?
(Perhaps the mis-spelling of her name also points to a Scottish connection; imagine an ancestor of Sean Connery telling the photographer in his inimitable tones: "Ship number 007, that's the the Ashahi .....Japanese Ashahi.....")

Finally, we return to that iconic battle which I do tend to go on and on about; yes, one more view of the ever-present Chemulpo!

Again by C.W. Faulkner, we see the Varyag and Korietz plainly titled, although to be honest their depiction is more heroic than accurate....
One good thing to note is the addition of the ships of the European navies in the background, and I do like the impression, however unhistorical, that the Russian pair gave as good as they got!

1 comment:

  1. Ahhhhh, thank you, sir, for another pre-Dreadnought "fix".

    -- Jeff