By autumn 1904 the Russo-Japanese war had been raging for six months. Routed in Manchuria, the Russians decided to strike back.
In October 1904, their Baltic fleet, a haphazard armada of some fifty outdated and illequipped men-of-war, led by a burnt-out neurotic and manned by 10,000 reluctant and badly trained sailors, set sail for the East. Their plan was to unite with the Pacific squadron, then trapped in Port Arthur, on the Chinese Liaoning peninsula, and crush the 'yellow monkeys' of Admiral Togo.
This is the story of their seven-month 18,000-mile odyssey from Kronstadt to the Far East, a venture which turned into a mission of heroic futility after the fall of Port Arthur and, with it, the entire Russian pacific fleet. As Admiral Rozhestvensky's fleet lumbered through the Straits of Tsushima towards Vladivostok on 27 May 1905, the Japanese, in one of the most crushing naval victories of all time, utterly destroyed the Russian armada. The humiliating and total defeat of Russia was confirmed, giving rise to a new and dynamic superpower in the East.
Author: Richard Hough
Title: The Fleet That Had to Die
First Published by: Hamish Hamilton