SinoJapaneseWar.com  

August 1, 1894 – April 17, 1895

 Jiawu Zhanzheng 甲午戰爭   日清戦争 Nisshin senso

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 The Battle of Weihai 威海

 ( Wei-Hai-Wei old sp.)

Jan 20 - Feb 12, 1895

 

 

 

 Battle of Weihai diorama at Museum of Sino-Japanese War

on Liugong Island, Weihai .

 

Japanese squadron bombarding Liugong island and the Beiyang fleet

 

 

 Documentary on the Battle of Weihai .  ( Chinese ) .

The Beiyang Fleet, though losing 5 ships, was still a formidable force with 2 battleships. After spending a month at Port Arthur for repairs it returned to its base at Weihai 威海. That fleet, though severely handled at the battle of the Yalu , was still a formidable collection of vessels, and the Japanese could never feel entirely secure until it was destroyed. A third army twenty-five thousand strong was mobilized at Hiroshima in December .On the afternoon of the 10th January, 1895, over fifty transports left Ujina, the port of Hiroshima, for Daliain, where they arrived at day- break on the 14th, They carried the Second or Sendai Division and the Eleventh Brigade, of the Sixth or Kumamoto Division, the other Brigade of which had cooperated under Major-General Hasegawa with the First or Tokyo Division under Lieut-General Yamaji in the capture of Port Arthur.The whole expedition was commanded by Marshal Count Oyama, who had also organised the attack on Port Arthur.

 

Map of Wei Hai

Description of Weihai and its defenses

map of Liugong island. There is a ferry from

Wei Hai to Liugong island

 

A more detailed map of WeiHai. Click to enlarge .

From: The fall of Wei-hai-wei

Inouye, Jukichi, 1862-1929; Ogawa, Kazumasa, 1860-1930

1895

 

Wei-hai-wei ( Weihai ) is about twenty-five miles west of the extreme northeastern point of the Shantung promontory, and fifty miles east of Chefoo ( Yantai ), which was the nearest treaty port. Wei-hai-wei consists of an island some two miles long, and the adjacent mainland, running in a semi-circle around the bay. Between the island and the shore is a large and safe harbor, with an entrance at either end. At both entrances, two rows of submarine torpedo, mines furnished protection against invading squadrons, and on the island stood the naval and gunnery school of China, and the houses of the foreign instructors. The island was defended by three forts, one at the east end, one at the west, and the third on a little island connected with it. On the hills which rise from the island also six small batteries with quick firing guns. In one of the forts were four heavy Krupp guns, in another three, while in the third were two Armstrong disappearing guns of twenty-five tons, on revolving planes. On the mainland was a small village while three forts commanded the eastern entrance to the harbor and three the western, armed in the same way as the forts on the island. Seven men-of-war remaining to the Chinese fleet were at anchor in the harbor, and would be useful in defense of the place, though not enough for battle at sea against a fleet. The fortifications were built under the direction of Captain Von Hannecken, and several foreigners in the Chinese service had remained there throughout the war as artillerists and in other capacities. The Chinese Admiral Ting (Ding) was also there, against whom the Chinese censors had been speaking so bitterly. There were strongly equipped forts, a beautiful harbor, a good naval school, and all was ready to be captured by the Japanese.

Japanese feint on Teng-chou ( Peng-lai)

Teng-Chou ( Penglai ) Photo by author .

The Japanese, as usual, commenced by a feigned attack. On the 18th of January a squadron of three vessels, the Yoshhio, Akitsushima, and Naniwa, left Dalian and proceeded towards Teng-chou ( Penglai ) , a city of 10,000 inhabitants, about 100 miles west of the- Shantung promontory. Owing to a snow-storm the Japanese could not commence the attack until 4 p.m.,when they fired blank cartridges at a Chinese fort, they soon employed shells, as the enemy answered vigorously with a battery of eight guns, amongst which was one of 12 centimetres. On the following morning it snowed again, but as soon as it cleared up the Japanese recommenced firing, and were briskly answered by the forts.

Japanese troops landing at Yung ching to attack

Weihai on the land side .

From: The fall of Wei-hai-wei

Inouye, Jukichi, 1862-1929; Ogawa, Kazumasa, 1860-1930

1895

 

Jan 19,1895  Japanese fleet and transports depart for Wei Hai, Japanese Landing

The real expedition started from Dalian Bay on Jan 19th It was composed of fifty transports, and reached the coast of Shantung in three squadrons on the 20th, 21st, and 23rd respectively ; it was protected by almost the whole Japanese fleet of twenty vessels, some escorting and others watching the Chinese fleet in Wei-hai-wei. The place chose for the landing was a convenient beach near the city of Yung-cheng, which is only 37 miles from Wei-hai-wei by land .

early Japanese espinoge activity in Shandong, Chinese forces in the Wei Hai area

It can get quite cold in Shandong during the winter in Shandong, photo from nearby Yantai ( Chefoo) . Photo by author .

The roads between Shantung Promontory and Wei-hai-wei had been very carefully examined by Lieut. Fumiaki Seki, of the Japanese Navy, who perished in a shipwreck in Korean waters in 1892. His reports and journals on the topography of the district were now of material use to the army. Before sending out an expedition to Shantung Province, every means was taken by the Staff Office to ascertain the strength of the Chinese forces at Wei-hai-wei and its neighbourhood ; and it was found that the garrison at Wei-hai-wei was 6,000 strong, while there were 2,000 at Chefoo ( Yantai ) . The troops at Teng- chow, Keauchow, and other strongholds, whence they could be sent to Wei-hai-wei within a fortnight, were not more than 7,000. Even if all these forces could be concentrated at Wei-hai-wei, which was very doubtful, they could not exceed 15,000. And upon that basis, it was deemed that a Division and a Brigade would be numerically stronger than any force that could oppose them at the great Chinese naval station and its immediate neighbourhood.

Chinese preparations at Yung-Ching

The Chinese had made some slight preparations for resistance, and there were about 200 or 300 soldiers with four guns, who opened fire on the Japanese boats ms as they attempted to land. To avoid confusion, the naval officers divided the beach into sections, allotting one to each regiment or battalion, and though there was a heavy fall of snow, all proceeded with order and rapidity.

view of Weihai showing city wall (now gone) and Liugong island

 From: The fall of Wei-hai-wei

Inouye, Jukichi, 1862-1929; Ogawa, Kazumasa, 1860-1930

1895

 

Jan 26, Japanese army marches on Wei hai

The landing of such a large force required 3 days ; it was not until the 26th of January that the Japanese army, divided into two columns, marched by the two roads which lead from Yung-cheng to Wei- hai-wei. The inland route was taken by the second (Sendai) division, and the sea-route by the Kumamoto brigade. The roads were found to be wretched, impassable even for field-pieces, so that the amiy had to advance only with mountain guns. The city of Yung-cheng had been occupied shortly after the landing, and though five battalions of 350 men were supposed to defend it, the Chinese offered hardly any resistance ; six Japanese soldiers scaled one of the gates and threw it open to their comrades. There were a few skirmishes on the way to Wei-hai-wei, but nothing worth recording happened until the Japanese were in the neighbourhood of that fortress.

Krupp gun defending Liugong island, at Qidingshan Fort

 Photo by author .

 

Jan 21st, Japanese fleet at Wei Ha, Letter from Admiral Ito to Admiral Ding

 

The fleet had been, all this time, very active, watching Wei-hai-wei and the Chinese fleet. On the 21st of January, a squadron of eleven vessels steamed near that port, and when it retired, a man-of-war was left to keep constant watch ; this duty was undertaken by several vessels who relieved each other by turns. On the 25th the British man-of-war Severn  carried to Wei-hai-wei a letter from Admiral Ito to Ting, the Chinese admiral, advising him to surrender, in English .This step was not a new one on the part of the Japanese ; before the attack on Port Arthur, a Japanese officer, who had resided long in China, addressed a letter to the Chinese general advising surrender, as resistance was useless. When the Japanese took Port Arthur they found the draft of a contemptuous answer which was, however, never sent. The present letter from Ito to Ting will be alluded to again when the whole correspondence on the surrender of Wei-hai-wei is mentioned ; it is contained in an appendix, and is worth reading, as it is a remarkable document, showing great breadth of views and historical knowledge.

To see the letter exchanged between Ito and Ding, click here .

 

 

 

Base and pier for the Beiyang Navy on Liugong island.

 Photo by author .

There were circling the bay, on Liugong island in and other islands in the bay. Besides all these forts there were some unfinished batteries on the western side of the harbour, between the northern and southern shores. To defend all the forts on land and on the islands, there must have been nearly 10,000 men a force fully adequate for a stubborn resistance if properly trained and well led There were a few foreigners stationed in the batteries, This probably includes the sailors of the fleet, but they had little professional training, and were destitute of any real authority.

 

Shells from the cruiser Jiyuan (Tsai Yuen) on the Beiyang museum on Liugong island

The Jiyuan was captured by the Japanese and sunk in 1904 at Port Arthur during the Russo-Japanese War .

Photo by author .

The above description of the forts, their armament and garrisons, does not exhaust the defences of Wei hai-wei : Admiral Ting had with him the remains of the Pei-yang squadron, a formidable array of twenty-five vessels. Their particulars are as follows : the Chen-yuen ,Ting-yuen Tsi-yuen, Lai-yuen Ping-yuen, Kuang-ping ,Wei-yuen, Ching-yuen an Kang-si; six small gun-boats, seven large torpedo boats and four small. All these vessels could be used for the defence of the harbour, the small gun boats from their shallow draught being able to approach the land, and sweep the shore with their guns. On board the fleet there must have been at least 4,000 sailors, and, as they were well disciplined, they constituted a really valuable force. For guard against torpedo attacks, and to prevent the Japanese fleet forcing its way into the bay, two formidable booms had been constructed across the two entrances ; they consisted of hawsers, 2 metres apart, formed of three strands of steel wire, each strand from three to four centimetres in thickness ; at intervals of nine metres, baulks of timber forty centimetres thick were attached, and the whole boom was fixed by chains and anchors, and torpedoes were placed in front of  both booms .

The Battle Begins

Krupp gun at the devastated

 Huangdu forts (黄土崖炮台)  .

 

The remains of the Huangdu fort on the

west coast of Wei Hai Bay .

 Photographs after the bombardment

can be seen here .

Warning graphic content .

 

Jan 25 to 29  The Japanese Army Marches on Wei Hai

 

Diorama of the Battle of Weihai at the

Exhibition Hall of the Sino Japanese War

The Japanese army commenced its advance on the 26th of January. On the 25th orders had been given that the right column (the Kumamoto brigade)  should advance as far as Pao-chia (Awabi-house), keeping up communications with the fleet; the left Column should advance to Chang-chia-kou-lze (Chang- house Pass), keeping touch with the right column. Both columns were to throw out scouts to reconnoitre enemy's position. On the 29th the troops had reached their destination, and it was ascertained that the Chinese were massed in large numbers around To-chih-ya-so (Place of the 100-foot Cliff), the head- land which closes the bay to the east. At Feng-lin-chi (Phoenix -grove) there is a junction of several roads, which the one that serves for the communications of the eastern defences with the town of Wei- hai-wei and the western forts : an attack, therefore on Feng-lin-chi (Phcenix-grove) threatened the re- treat of the defenders at Po-chih-ya-so (Place of the 100-foot Cliff).

Japanese troops seize on of the defending guns

to turn against Liugung island

The Japanese employed their usual tactics, attacking the front, and at the same time threatening the line of retreat. On the night of the 29th of January orders were issued that, on the following morning, the second division should advance and take the hills to the south and east of Feng-lin-chi, while the Kumamoto brigade should attack Po-chih-ya-so and the land defences of the three eastern littoral forts. The fleet was to co-operate by bombarding those forts from the sea. The second division advanced at 8 a.m. on the 30th of January, and at 7 a.m. it encountered the Chinese, and gradually drove them, without much resistance, from height to height, until it pushed them to the sea-shore.

The Chinese fleet bombards forts which have been taken over by the Japanese

 From: The fall of Wei-hai-wei

Inouye, Jukichi, 1862-1929; Ogawa, Kazumasa, 1860-1930

1895

 

Chinese ships fire on Japanese troops

The retreat of the defender of the eastern forts was thus cut ; but a new military element appeared on the scene, which destroyed the results of the Japanese tactics : the Chinese fleet approached the shore, and shelled the Japanese troops so heavily  that they had to retire to Feng-lin-chi. It was now 9.50 A.M., and the second division pushed on to Mo-tien-ling (Heaven touching Pass), and after taking it occupied Lung miao-tsui, the third of the littoral forts. The guns were found in good order, and were at once directed on the Chinese ships and island forts ; but the Ting- Yuen, which with the gunboats had shelled back the Japanese infantry, now steamed quite close to the fort, and in about half-an-hour silenced it. One of the 24-centimetre guns in the fort was struck by a shell and broken in two, the free end flying away about forty feet.

Headquarters (Yaman) for the Beiyang fleet on Liugong island, which was established in 1887 and now a museum .

Photo by author .

The Kumamoto brigade began to advance at 3.30 A.M., and at 7 a.m. it was in action. The Chinese entrenchments extended in successive lines from Mo- tien-ling to Po-chih-ya-so, and the Japanese met vigorous resistance. At 10 a.m. the Mo-tien-ling entrenchments were stormed, and at the same time the fleet began firing on the littoral forts ; by 1 p.m. the three sea batteries and the four land forts were taken ; the latter were in some instances blown up by Chinese .

The Japanese Artillery Corps turned the captured guns on the mountain forts upon the two remaining Chinese forts. That at Seayheasu caught fire, leaving only the Chaopeitsuy fort intact. The heaviest of the enemy's fire came from Jih-tao, a small island between Liukung Island and the shore, which was provided with disappearing guns. From that island booms each of strong steel hawsers ran to the shore and to Liukung Island. The pickets reported that 300 Chinese marines had landed. A Japanese battalion attacked them. In the meanwhile, the garrison at Chaopeitsuy set fire to that fort and destroying it, left it to join the marines. As these passed under the fort at Lungmeaoutsuy, they were assailed by two companies. Both these and the marines were closely pressed at the edge of a precipice, and most of them were shot or died by falling into the sea, a few saving themselves by swimming.

The Sixth Division had gained a complete possession of the forts on the headland south east of Weihai wei, though the Chinese warships and the forts on Liukung and Jih Islands fired whenever they saw a group of Japanese troops on shore. A corps of marines, however, from the Japanese men-of-war landed and entered the Lukeutsuy fort, whence they fired the captured guns upon the Chinese men-of-war, which concentrated their guns upon this fort and succeeded in destroying a 24 c.m. Krupp gun

Admiral Ting had vainly urged on Chinese generals to accept a body of volunteers from the fleet, who could have served the guns and destroyed them before leaving. The refusal of the wise suggestion materially hastened the fall of We hai-wei. The Japanese had brought up no siege guns and the state of the roads would not have allowed any to be transported for a long time, so that the only chance of injuring the Chinese -ships and island booms to protect them. But now that the Chinese navy showed foresight and bravery, there seemed to some even in their desperate conditions some hopes of a protracted resistance.

 

210 mm front guns salvaged from the Jiyuan ( Tsai Yuen)

 Photo by author .

Meanwhile the Japanese Navy had not been idle. After the army had been completely landed on the 25th January, the two days ensuing were spent in taking in coal. On the 29th, it became known that the army would be within five miles of Pochi , which was to be attacked on the following day. Preparations were at once made for aiding the forces. The Second Flying Squadron, except the Hiyei, that is, the Fuso, Kongo, and Takao weighed anchor at Yunching Bay on the same day at 5.30 p.m. and kept watch all night off Shantung Promontory. At 2 a.m. on the 30th, the Main Squadron (the Matsushima, Chiyoda, Hashidate, and Itsukushima and the First Flying Squadron (the Yoshino, Takachiho, Akitsushima, and Takackiko) left Yung-ching Bay and arrived off Wei-hai-wei Harbour at 6.30, where it was joined by the three ships of the Second Squadron. The 3 ships remained at Yunching Bay to guard the landing-place of the army.

The Japanese men-of-war, Itsukushima, Akagi, Maya, Atago, Musashi, Katsu- ragi, Yamato, and Chiyoda, approached the shore to aid the army. The Chinese warships, Ting-yuen, Tsi-yuen, Ping-yuen, and four or five gun- boats came between Liukung and Jih Islands, and fired upon the Japanese as they advanced upon the forts. On seeing the Ting-yuen approach Jih Island, the Yoshino at once signaled to the flagship that the Chinese ship was leaving by the east entrance, but she stopped at the entrance and did not venture to come out. A magazine was seen to explode on land, and shortly after, at 3, the east-coast forts began to fire upon the Chinese men-of-war. At 2.07 p.m., the Main, the First and Second Flying Squadrons, twelve vessels in all, which had been guarding the entrance of the harbour, formed into a single line headed by the flagship and manoeuvred off the Island of Liukung. The Itsukushima, followed by the Akagi, Cliokai, Maya, and Atago, left the cover of the forts and approached the harbour entrance, when she was fired upon from both Liukung and Jih Islands, and immediately after, from the Chinese warships. The Tsukushi and the four others, finding the fire too hot, went out to sea and advanced towards the west entrance. The torpedo-boats were all this time floating between the east entrance and Kerning Island, where their depot-ships, Omi-maru and Yamashiro-maru, were anchored.

The Main and the First and Second Flying Squadrons met at 5 a.m., ten miles off Wei-hai-wei. The First Squadron watched as before the west entrance, while the other two were as vigilant at the east en- trance. The three squadrons resumed at 8 a.m. their manoeuvres off the island. The Yamato, Musashi and Katsuragi, of the Third Flying Squadron, made for the east entrance, followed by the Chiyoda which had left her line. After making sure of the torpedo-boats in the harbour, the last named re- joined the Main Squadron off Kerning Island. Presently, the Akagi approached the flagship and signaled that Captain Miyoshi, of the Itsukushima, requested permission to attack Jih Island that night. The permission was readily given ; but at 11 a.m., the sky became overcast and a snow-storm arose and raged with such violence that the men-of-war were compelled to return to Yungching Bay for shelter. The First Flying Squadron was, however, left behind to watch the harbour. The temperature fell to 11 deg. Fahr., and the cold was intense. On the 1st February, the storm continued; and the ships remained at Yungching Bay.

Feb 3rd, 1895

Remains of an Royal Navy training torpedo at Weihai, the British had one of their China Stations at  Wei Hai from 1898 till the outbreak of WW2, where submarines were stationed .

Photo by author .

On the 3rd, at dawn, the First and Second Flying Squadron, except the Akitsushima, joined the Main Squadron, and made in a single line for the neighbourhood of Liukung Island. The Akitsushima, which came up at 10 a.m. after coaling, reported the fall of Wei hai-wei. The army having thus accomplished its duty, it was now the navy's turn to show its mettle. About the same time, the Second Flying Squadron advanced under the east-coast forts towards the east entrance. The forts captured by the Japanese on the mainland and the Chinese Squadron were heard firing energetically at each other. The Second Flying Squadron then also fired upon the Chinese men-of-war, which thereupon turned their attention upon the Squadron. The fight did not last long, though it was sharp. The Japanese Squadron next went round to the west entrance, and attacked the west fort of the island, which retained no longer its former courage and was now silent. The central fort only fired five or six shells. The squadron left at noon. The only damage done was the snapping of the Takaos In the afternoon, the Third Flying Squadron fired without perceptible effect upon the Chinese ships. The cannonade only lasted half an hour. The forts on the mainland, however, continued to fire into the night.

Feb 4th, torpedo boat attack

 

 

 

Ferry from Weihai to Liugong island

Photo by author .

On the 4th, the Main and First Flying Squadrons manoeuvred off Liukung Island as on the preceding day. Towards the evening, a torpedo- boat came alongside the flagship and, after receiving urgent orders from Admiral Ito, left for Yinshankow. On the 5th, at 1 a.m., the gunboats, Chokai and Atago, began firing upon the Chinese men-of-war, which replied with equal energy. This was to divert the enemy's attention from the torpedo-flotillas which were creeping along the east-coast. They were the Third and Second Flotillas, consisting of 4 and 6 torpedo-boats respectively. The Third Flotilla had, on the 3rd, cut away a small portion of the boom, and being well-acquainted with the inlet, led the way. The flotillas waited till three o'clock when the moon went down ; and then they entered the harbour, two abreast, in the following order :

As it was pitch dark, they could not see before them. Fortunately for them, however, there were a gunboat and a torpedo-boat keeping guard, and by the light from their windows, the Chinese men-of-war could be dimly seen in a line before Liukung Island. They passed between the men-of-war and the guardships, and advanced from west to east. The boat No. 22 headed the little fleet. As that boat approached cautiously, the Chinese did not notice it, and only when it had come quite close and discharged a torpedo, did the Chinese detect it. They began to fire upon it, but in the confusion, it managed to discharge a second torpedo, and then made for the shore at Lungmeaoutsuy. In its hurry to escape the enemy's fusillade, it ran aground.

The boat No. 9 had approached the Chinese closest of all. It had followed the Third Flotilla, but immediately on entering the boom, had struck to the north-west. It found itself accidentally near the Ting-yuen. Just then, a small Chinese torpedo flotilla came along, and the No. 9 joined this flotilla without the latter's know- ledge. When they were about 200 metres from the Ting-yuen, the latter hoisted a red light probably as a signal ; but seeing detection was imminent, the boat at once discharged a torpedo at that distance, and a second at 50 metres. Water was thrown up near the ironclad, and feeling sure that the torpedo had told, the boat turned back at full speed ; but it was detected. The Chinese men-of-war fired upon it, while the gun-boats and torpedo-boats also pursued it. Its engine-room was shot through, and four engineers and stokers were killed, and four wounded, two of them mortally. The boiler was destroyed and all the engine-room staff being killed or wounded, the boat could no longer speed. The officers resolved to commit suicide rather than fall into the enemy's hands ; but they were met by the No. 19 which was approaching the Chinese, and the surviving officers and men were taken into that boat, while their own was abandoned.

The No. 6 had also approached the Ting- yuen, but the torpedo-discharger was frozen and the torpedo could not be discharged. It had, therefore, to retire without effecting any damage. The No. 10 had followed No. 6, which, however, it lost sight of on the way. It came quite close to the Ting-yuen. The bow-discharger was frozen, but one amidships discharged a torpedo, which was effectual. The Nos. 8 and 14 ran aground as they were entering the inlet. The No. 22, which had stranded as it fled from the Chinese and was believed to have been destroyed, had lost one killed by the enemy and several drowned by the capsizing of the life- boat as it was carrying some of the crew ashore, leaving Lieut. Fukushima and five of the crew still imprisoned in the torpedo-boat. The Chinese fired upon it incessantly. When the day broke, the Japanese men of- war saw that it would be dangerous attempt to approach the boat, exposed as it was to the Chinese fire, but when the day closed, a torpedo-boat was sent to it and the six men were found unhurt in the hold ; Lieut. Fukushima was sound asleep, being apparently utterly indifferent ,to the danger he was in.

By noon Monday there was not a single fortress or battery on the mainland around Wei-hai-wei that the Japanese had not captured. Marshal Oyama meantime had ordered the fourth division to attack the town of Wei-hai-wei itself. The place however surrendered without a shot being fired.

the situation of the Chinese on Liugong island

The island of Liu-kung is almost perpendicular on the seaside, and landing is impossible ; there was no chance for those desperate  rushes which the Japanese hitherto had carried ill the defences they could approach. The forts on Liu-kung Island were too strong and too sheltered to be silenced by the fire of the fleet, especially as the Japanese did not wish to risk their vessels, and had no armoured ship that could approach with impunity. The captured forts on the eastern side were too far to inflict any damage to the forts on Liu-kung Island and he fleet which they sheltered, so that the Chinese, though completely surrounded, were able, owing to he length of Wei-hai-wei Bay, to lie at anchor in complete security. It was thought by many that in this strange position the Chinese could hold out indefinitely, as long as they had provisions and ammunition.

 

Second torpedo boat attack on the night of Feb 4, sinking of the Ting-Yuen

On the night of the 4th of February preparations ere made for a second attempt with the torpedo-boats, which were divided into three squadrons ; the first watching outside, and the second and the passing through the interval of the boom which widened on the preceding night. There is some discrepancy in the minor details of the operation:. According to one ac6ount, the torpedo attack was preceded by a diversion of two small gun-boats, Chokai and Otago, which, piloted by Captain Togo .

 

From the above description, it appears that only four boats discharged eight torpedoes ; one boat had her tubes frozen, and the other five were either injured by running ashore or damaged and took no part in the attack. Nos. 8 and 14 were sent to Port Arthur for repairs. Two boats were lost ; No, 9 abandoned after the explosion in the boiler, and No. 22, which ran aground near the eastern forts, and was fired upon by the Chinese forts. Some of the crew escaped but others fell into the icy water and were frozen to death ; the remainder were obliged to keep hidden for fear of being noticed by the Chinese, until they were rescued on the evening of the 5th of Feb. several torpedo-boats reported that they had struck Ting-yuen, and the Japanese were much dispirited at seeing her still afloat on the morning of 5th. She gradually sank, her decks remaining out of  the water. The Chinese had lost their most powerful vessel !

 

The Ding Yuen after being torpedoed by a torpedo boat

 

Feb 6th, another torpedo boat attack

On the 5th of February it was decided to make another night-attack with the torpedo-boats. Admiral Ito has afterwards confessed that he felt more pain in giving that order than for any other he had given during the campaign. On the preceding night some had been scalded, others frozen to death, and as it was probable that the Chinese fleet would now keep better watch, it seemed as if he was sending his men to an inevitable and horrible death ; yet the order was given, and executed with the utmost promptitude. commander Mochihara, the chief of the flotilla, told his men that there was hardly any chance of escaping, and death was almost certain ; it was better to remove all unnecessary articles, a hand- lamp being sufficient, no signals except port and starboard being required for such a desperate enterprise. " Our boats and our bodies are the enemy's. He accordingly sent away all the naval records, sign sheets, and written orders. But there was not the slightest trepidation ; all the men were overjoyed at the dangerous duty on which they were given.- At 4 A.M. of the 6th of February, while the second and third torpedo squadrons were watching outside the bay, the First Squadron entered the harbour. was composed of the following boats No. 23,13,7 and 11.

The Japanese torpedo boat that sank the Ding Yuen. The torpedo boat which sank the Ting- Yuen was destroyed by a hail of shot, eight of her crew being drowned. The success of the torpedo boats would figure prominently in Japan's next war with Russia.

Nos. 13 and 7 had their screws fouled and could not approach the enemy, but the other three boats discharged seven torpedoes and destroyed three of the enemy's vessels : the Lai-yuen, Wei-yu, and a gun-boat, the Pao-hua, None of the Japanese crews were wounded in this attack. The Chinese lost about 10 men drowned, but the moral effect of this dreadful night-attack must have been appalling. It was on this day at the subject of a surrender was first mooted : the habitants, male and female, of Liu-kung Island assembling around the jetties and begging the authorities save their lives. The two torpedo attacks in the nights preceding mornings of the 4th and 6th of February decided the fate of Liu-kung Island and of the remaining vessels of the Pei-yang Squadron : from that moment successful resistance was impossible,

Chinese fleet gathered off Huang island after the

sinking of the Ding Yuan

Ito asks for surrender

As a Chinese defeat appeared certain, Japanese Admiral Ito Sukeyuki made an appeal to Beiyang Fleet Admiral Ting Ju-ch'ang, who was a personal friend. In his letter, he expressed his regret that the old acquaintances had been obliged to meet each other in hostility, appealed to the Ting's enlightened patriotism by pointing out the retrogressive policy which Ting had been called upon to defend and which could only end in disaster, and then counseled him to prevent a certain defeat and unnecessary loss of life by capitulating. Ito further advised Ting to become Japan's honored guest till the end of the war, and then return to his native land in order to aid China in setting her policy on a sound basis. When Ting read this message he was visibly moved, and said to his attendants: "Kill me," meaning probably that he wished to die alone and let all others surrender. Ting responded: "I am thankful for the admiral's friendship, but I cannot forsake my duties to the state. The only thing now remaining for me to do is to die."

On the 8th, the Japanese men of-war kept manoeuvring off the Islands and watched the Chinese warships in harbour all day as it was feared they might escape. Towards evening, a Japanese torpedo-boat came with a Chinese torpedo-boat in tow. The latter was called the Foolung, and was about the size of the Japanese Kotaka. It was furnished with four 6-pd. quick-firing and several Nordenfeldt guns. Its commander, Lieut. Tsai Ting-kan had been taken by the Japanese army. From him the Japanese obtained a fair knowledge of the actual condition of Liukung Island.

Of the 13 Chinese torpedo boats which attempted to escape towards Yentai(Chefoo), 6 were destroyed and the remaining 7 captured by the Japanese.

Feb 12, Surrender and Suicide of Admiral Ding

On the morning of 12 February 1895, Admiral Ting, formally surrendered the remaining Beiyang Fleet ships in the harbor and the remaining Chinese-held forts and stores to the Japanese. Ding requested that the Chinese and foreign military advisors, troops, and civilians on land and sea around Weihaiwei be allowed to depart unmolested, and proposed that the commander of the British China squadron should guarantee the faithful performance of the conditions of surrender.

On receipt of this letter Admiral Ito held a council, in which many of his officers (as well as the Imperial Army officers) advised that the Chinese should not be allowed to leave, but be taken prisoners of war. The admiral, however, had so high an estimate of Ting's personality and service to his country and so deep a sympathy with his difficult position that he insisted that Ting's request be granted.

The suicide of admiral Ding

By Mizuno Toshikata 1895

Ting refused Ito's personal offer of political asylum in Japan, and committed suicide.Responsibility was transferred to Admiral McClure. The news was even more startling than that of a single suicide, for Admiral Ting's commodore, the general in command of the island forts, and Captains Liu and Chang had all taken their own lives through grief and shame at having to surrender

 

The only officer of high rank left on the Chinese war ships was Admiral McClure, the Scotchman who had been recently appointed to act as second in command to Admiral Ting. Admiral McClure sent word by the staff officer that having succeeded to the command by the death of Admiral Ting, he was prepared to carry out the surrender and to consult Admiral Ito's convenience in the matter. He suggested that Admiral Ito should give his guarantee to the British Admiral or to some other neutral naval officer, that as soon  the Chinese war ships and island forts had been handed over, the soldiers and sailors and the Chinese, and foreign officers should he set free. Admiral Ito replied that no guarantee was necessary beyond the Japanese word and he peremptorily declined to furnish one. This decision was accepted .

The soldiers who had held the island first gave up their arms, and then were put on board Chinese and Japanese boats and taken on shore. Escorted by Japanese troops, they were marched through the Japanese lines, out into the open country and there set free. They were treated with every respect and seemed surprised that their lives were spared.

 

 

Chinese soldiers and sailors were taken ashore from Liugong island, where they were set free

The Japanese flag was hoisted on the surrendered battleship Chen-yuen, cruisers Ping-yuen, Tsi-yuen, and Kwang-ping, and six gunboats. With the fall of Weihaiwei the Japanese navy completely annihilated the Beiyang fleet, and gained an absolute control of the Gulf of Pohai.

Liugong island museum tour guides

Photo by author .

At 3:15, the foreigners on the Island were called and examined. They were all released on parole, except George Howie, who had already been released on parole when he was arrested at Kobe in the preceding autumn, and was now taken prisoner for thus breaking his word of honour. The foreigners released were Vice-Admiral McClure, and Messrs. Thos. Mellows. Hastings Thomas, Charles Clarkson, W. H. Graves, Sam. Wood, Robt. Walpole, and R. Tyler, and two civilians, Dr. Kirk and Mr. Howard. They were sent with Chinese officers on board the Kwang-tsi, which left on the following day for Chefoo with Admiral Ting's remains. When the vessel passed out of the harbour, the Japanese men-of-war lowered their flags and fired their guns in honour of the late Admiral.

Thus the naval port of Wei-hai-wei, with its men-of-war and Island of Liu-kung, fell completely in to Japanese hands on the 17th February, 1895. The Chen-yuen was docked for repairs at Port Arthur. On the 27th February, Admiral Ito left Wei-hai-wei and arrived at Ujina on the 3rd March with the Tsi-yuen. Two days later, the Ping-yuen and Kwang-ping also reached Ujina. The admiral received an ovation when he landed at Ujina and proceeded at once to the Headquarters at Hiroshima. The total losses of the Japanese navy during the bombardment of Wei- hai-wei and the Island of Liu-kung were as follows :  Japanese Killed 27 Wounded 88   Chinese 4,000 (killed)

 

 Chefoo (Yantai), the nearest treaty port and the home of many foreigners, was in a tremor of fear.

A bombardment or an invasion of the city was dreaded from the victorious troops to the eastward, and not the least danger was that from the Chinese troops who had been disarmed and turned loose to make their way to Chefoo after the surrender.

The Battle of Weihaiwei is regarded as the last major battle of the First Sino-Japanese War, since China entered into peace negotiations with Japan shortly thereafter. However, the Battle of Yingkou and a number of minor battles would take place before the Treaty of Shimonoseki ending the war was signed.

 

 

 

 

 

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