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During the nineteenth century Russia had been continually trying to expand its eastern frontiers at the expense of a weakened Chinese Empire. However, Japan, which was rapidly transforming itself from a backward feudal state into a modern industrial power, also began to make demands on China. A clash between Russia and Japan became inevitable when both countries attempted to expand their influence in Manchuria and Korea. In February 1904, without warning, the Japanese navy attacked the Russian fleet at Port Arthur, a Chinese seaport which had been leased to Russia as a naval base. However, the fortress of Port Arthur proved too strong to be taken easily and a long siege began. Throughout the summer and autumn of 1904 the Japanese Third Army attacked with great desperation and sustained enormous casualties (58,000 killed as against 31,000 Russians), but the fortress held until January 2nd, 1905. Britain’ s interest in the war is not difficult to understand. She, too, shared Japan’s mistrust of Russia in north-east Asia and had, in fact, entered into an alliance with Japan in 1902. This is why the ILN, on January 7th 1905, brought out an extra double number,
‘Port Arthur: Its Siege’

(number 3429, vol. 126) (Appendix list no.46) with three special supplements. The first supplement is a complete illustrated history of the operations by Mr. Char1es Lowe, a military historian; the second supplement is a picture entitled ‘Stoessel ‘s Farewell to a Forlorn Hope’ commemorating the desperate plight of the defenders whose numbers were so reduced that even maimed men had to go into the firing line; the third supplement is another illustration of the destruction of the Russian army. The magazine itself details the final stages of the campaign and how the Commander of Japan’s Third Army, General Nogi, successfully stormed the port and accepted its capitulation from the Russian General Stoessel. However, let it not be said that Britain gloried in the downfall of the Russian Commander. Indeed, the heroic defence was viewed with sincere admiration and this is reflected in the dramatic red and blue wrapper of the special issue. General Stoessel stands defiantly on a heap of ruins with a broken sword in his hand. At his back is the triumphant Japanese ensign flying over the harbour and hills of Port Arthur itself. The magazine has 40 pages, measures 30 x 42 cm and was priced at one shilling. As a foot-note, the land battle of Mukden (February 1905) and the naval disaster at Tsushima (May 1905) brought the Ruso-Japanese war to an end when a humbled Russia made peace with Japan in September 1905.

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