Ranks Left to Right ROA.
Nicholas I (Nikolai I Pavlovich; 6 July [O.S. 25 June] 1796 – 2 March [O.S. 18 February] 1855) was the Emperor of Russia from 1825 until 1855.
He was also the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Finland. He is best known as a political conservative whose reign was marked by geographical expansion, repression of dissent, economic stagnation, poor administrative policies, a corrupt bureaucracy, and frequent wars that culminated in Russia’s disastrous defeat in the Crimean War of 1853-56. His biographer Nicholas Riasanovsky says that Nicholas displayed determination, singleness of purpose, and an iron will, along with a powerful sense of duty and a dedication to very hard work. He saw himself as a soldier – a junior officer totally consumed by spit and polish. A handsome man, he was highly nervous and aggressive. Trained as an engineer, he was a stickler for minute detail. His reign had an ideology called “Official Nationality” that was proclaimed officially in 1833. It was a reactionary policy based on orthodoxy in religion, autocracy in government, and Russian nationalism
Because of the success of revolutionary resistance, Franz Joseph had to ask for help from the “gendarme of Europe” Czar Nicholas I of Russia in March 1849. Russian armies, composed of about 8,000 soldiers, invaded Transylvania on 7 April 1848. But as they crossed the Southern Carpathian mountain passes (along the border of Transylvania and Wallachia), they were met by a large Hungarian revolutionary army led by Józef Bem, a Polish-born General.
Bem had been a participant in the Polish insurrection of 1830 – 1831, had been involved in the uprising in Vienna in 1848 and, finally, became one of the top army commanders for the Hungarian Republic from 1848 – 1849. When he encountered the Russians, Bem defeated them and forced them back out of the towns of Hermannstadt (now Sibiu, Romania) and Kronstadt (now Brașov) in Transylvania, back over the Southern Carpathian Mountains through the Roterturm Pass into Wallachia. Only 2,000 Russian soldiers made it out of Transylvania back into Wallachia, the other 6,000 troops being killed or captured by the Hungarian Army. After securing all of Transylvania, Bem moved his 30,000–40,000-man Hungarian army against Austrian forces in the northern Banat capturing the city of Temesvár (now Timişoara, Romania).
In June 1849 Russian and Austrian troops entered Hungary heavily outnumbering the Hungarian army. After all appeals to other European states failed, Kossuth abdicated on August 11, 1849 in favour of Artúr Görgey, who he thought was the only general who was capable of saving the nation. However, in May 1849, Czar Nicholas I pledged to redouble his efforts against the Hungarian Government. He and Emperor Franz Joseph started to regather and rearm an army to be commanded by Anton Vogl, the Austrian lieutenant-field-marshal who had actively participated in the suppression of the national liberation movement in Galacia in 1848. But even at this stage Vogl was occupied trying to stop another revolutionary uprising in Galacia. The Czar was also preparing to send 30,000 Russian soldiers back over the Eastern Carpathian Mountains from Poland. Austria held Galacia and moved into Hungary, independent of Vogl’s forces. On August 13, after several bitter defeats in a hopeless situation, Görgey signed a surrender at Világos (now Şiria, Romania) to the Russians, who handed the army over to the Austrians.
HMS Exeter (68) was a York-class heavy cruiser of the Royal Navy that served in World War II. She was laid down on 1 August 1928 at the Devonport Dockyard, Plymouth, Devon. She was launched on 18 July 1929 and completed on 27 July 1931. She fought against the German pocket battleship Graf Spee at the 1939 Battle of the River Plate, suffering extensive damage that caused a long refit.
Having been rebuilt, she was sent to the East Indies where she was sunk by the Japanese in 1942.
On completion, Exeter joined the 2nd Cruiser Squadron with the Atlantic Fleet, where she served between 1931 and 1935. In 1934 she was assigned to the America and West Indies Station and remained there, with a temporary deployment to the Mediterranean during the Abyssinian crisis of 1935 and 1936, until 1939.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, she formed part of the South American Division with Cumberland, under Commodore Henry Harwood. Together with the Leander-class light cruisers Ajax and Achilles she engaged the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee in the Battle of the River Plate on 13 December 1939, which culminated in the scuttling of the Admiral Graf Spee several days later. Exeter operated as a division on her own, Achilles and Ajax as the other, in order to split the fire of Graf Spee. Exeter was hit by seven 11-inch shells and several near misses caused significant splinter damage. Sixty-one of her crew were killed and another twenty-three wounded. All three 8-inch turrets were put out of action and her speed was reduced to 18 knots (33 km/h), forcing her to withdraw from battle. Exeter made for Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands for emergency repairs which took until January 1940. For a short time consideration was given to leave the ship there as a hulk and headquarters ship. Shortly later however, the decision was made for her to be made sea-worthy enough to return to Devonport, for full repairs and a modernisation refit between February 1940 and March 1941. On 10 March, 1941, during the repair and refit period, her commanding officer, Captain W.N.T. Beckett MVO DSC died at Saltash Hospital, from complications resulting from surgery related to injuries received earlier in his career. He died the day Exeter was due to be re-commissioned. His replacement was Captain Oliver Loudon Gordon. Upon completion of the repair and refit, Exeter was the most modern heavy cruiser in the Royal Navy, and kept that title for a short 1-month period until HMS London emerged from her extensive rebuild and modernization.
On returning to the fleet in 1941 she was engaged on escort duty for Atlantic convoys, including the escort of convoy WS-8B to the Middle East during the Bismarck episode. After this, she went on to the Far East.
On the entry of the Empire of Japan into the war in December 1941, Exeter formed part of the ABDACOM naval force intended to defend the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) from Japanese invasion.
On 27 February 1942, Exeter was damaged in the Battle of the Java Sea when she received an 8-inch shell hit to a boiler room and was subsequently ordered to Surabaya for repairs. The destroyer HMS Electra was sunk covering her withdrawal. Two days later, when she attempted to reach the Sunda Strait, she was intercepted by the Japanese heavy cruisers Nachi, Haguro, Myoko and Ashigara and the destroyers Akebono, Inazuma, Yamakaze and Kawakaze on the morning of 1 March 1942. The Second Battle of the Java Sea ensued, now more appropriately called The Battle of Bawean Island, and Exeter was soon badly damaged by gunfire, one hit causing the loss of all power to the ship. Scuttling charges were set and she soon began sinking, initially listing to port only to be hit to starboard by two torpedoes from the destroyer Inazuma which sat her back upright and rolled her to starboard before she finally sank about noon. Her escorting destroyers, HMS Encounter and USS Pope were also lost; Pope temporarily escaped the initial melee, only to be sunk by aerial attack a few hours later. About 800 Allied seamen, including Exeter’s commanding officer, Captain Oliver Gordon, were picked up by the Japanese and became prisoners of war, with 153 of Exeter’s crew dying while in captivity with three more dying after being liberated at war’s end due to their treatment by the Japanese.
The wreck was located and positively identified in February 2007. Exeter lies in Indonesian waters, at a depth of about 200 ft (60 m), 90 miles northwest of Bawean Island – some 60 miles from the sinking position given by her captain.
Ottoman fleet anchored at the French port of Toulon in 1543. Miniature by Matrakçı Nasuh who was travelling with the fleet.
The Ottoman Turks transport their fleet overland into the Golden Horn.
It was on this day in 1866 that the naval battle of Lissa was fought, during the Third Italian War of Independence, which was a stunning defeat for the Kingdom of Italy. In the end, the Prussian victory over Austria eventually brought Venice back into the Italian nation but no more, with other formerly Venetian territories remaining under Austrian control. The battle was a loss for a variety of reasons, paramount of which was probably the feuding Italian commanders failing to put personal squabbles aside for the sake of the country and work together but also some faulty naval ordinance. Austrian shells penetrated Italian ships while Italian shells often bounced off the Austrian vessels (many of which included Italian sailors as well). However, despite being a defeat, there were still moments of extreme heroism and sacrifice on the part of the Italian fleet; such as the sailors of the Palestro refusing to abandon ship but staying with their captain and going down fighting. It did not help that the battle was first reported as a victory which only made the eventual news of defeat all the more shocking and terrible. Worse, it was mostly hushed up by the high command whereas it should have been looked at honestly to learn from the mistakes made.
The interval of ninety years between the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 and the beginning of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904 was marked by no major naval war. There was fighting at sea, and there were prolonged blockades, but there were no campaigns between large and well-appointed navies. During this period an entire revolution took place in the means of propulsion, armament and construction of ships. Steam was applied to warships, at first as an auxiliary force, in the second quarter of the 19th century. The Crimean War gave a great stimulus to the development of the guns. It also brought about the application of iron to ships as armour-plate. Very soon metal was adopted as the material out of which ships were made. The extended use of shells, by immensely increasing the danger of fire, rendered wood so inflammable that it was too dangerous for employment in a warship. Changes so sweeping as these could not take place without affecting all the established ideas as to propulsion, armament and construction.
Revival of ramming
Steam allowed the ship herself to be used as a projectile. Many thought that the use of the ram would again become common and the sinking of the Re d’Italia by the Austrian ironclad Erzherzog Ferdinand Max at the battle of Lissa in 1866 seemed to give force to this supposition. Accidental collisions such as those between the British warships Vanguard and Iron Duke, Victoria and Camperdown showed how fatal a wound could be given by the ram of a steam warship. But even the sinking of the Re d’Italia was largely an accident, and steam-powered ramming turned out to be impractical.
Between vessels both under full control, a collision was easily avoided where there was space to move. In a mêlée, or pell-mell battle, opportunities would occur for the use of the ram, but the torpedo and the mine soon made it very dangerous for one fleet to rush at another. The torpedo may be said therefore to have excluded the pell-mell battle and the use of the ram except on rare occasions.
Ramming as a tactic also invalidated the former need to concentrate guns on the broadside, which in any case was being made obsolete by the larger guns developed as a consequence of the Industrial Revolution and made necessary by the iron or steel armour now being used. Fewer of the large guns could be carried or mounted, and a wider arc of fire was required to compensate.
During the last months of the war, Ishii was preparing for a long-distance attack on the United States. This operation, codenamed “Cherry Blossoms at Night”, called for the use of airplanes to spread plague over Southern California at night. The plan was finalized on March 26, 1945. Five of the new I-400-class long-range submarines were to be sent across the Pacific Ocean, each carrying three Aichi M6A Seiran aircraft loaded with plague-infected fleas. The submarines were to surface near San Diego and launch the aircraft towards the target, either to drop the plague via balloon bombs, or to crash in enemy territory. Either way, the plague would then infect people in the area and kill perhaps tens of thousands. The mission was extremely risky for the pilots and submariners, likely a one-way kamikaze mission. A pilot under the command of Ishii, Ishio Kobata, recalled the plan in 1998:
I was told directly by Shiro Ishii of the kamikaze mission “Cherry Blossoms at Night”, which was named by Ishii himself. I was a leader of a squad of seventeen. I understood that the mission was to spread contaminated fleas in the enemy’s base and contaminate them with plague.
The plan was scheduled to begin on September 22, 1945, but was not realized because the Imperial Japanese Navy was committed to defense of the home islands, did not see the mission as practical, and they did not want to risk any of the new I-400-class submarines, of which only three had been built. In any case, the Japanese surrender on August 15, 1945, made the operation moot.
It was the Japanese during World War II that then developed plague into a biological weapons agent. In Unit 731, the Japanese biological weapons program in Manchuria headed by army officer and physician Shiro Ishii, the flea bomb or Uji-50 was created. The simple design of the bomb was a ceramic container filled with plague-infested fleas and flour. Once the container reached the ground and broke, the flours would attract rats, the fleas would mount the rats, and the rats would spread the disease. The Japanese tested the weapon on Manchurian villages. One witness wrote:
“I was fifteen years old at the time, and I remember everything clearly. The Japanese plane spread something that looked like smoke. A few days later we found dead rats all over the village. At the same time, people came down with high fevers and aches in the lymph nodes. Every day, people died. Crying could be heard all through the village. My mother and father – in all, eight people in my family – died. I was the only one in my family left.”
Rats infested with plague-carrying fleas were also released by the Japanese. Nobuo Kamaden, a former Unit 731 member, spoke of releasing 500-gram rats with 3,000 plague-carrying fleas into local populations. Chinese prisoners called ‘logs’ were infected with the plague. Autopsies were performed on these prisoners without the benefit of anesthesia and before they had fully died to harvest fresh tissue samples and infected organs. It was reported that Ishii had devised Operation Cherry Blossoms at Night, a plan to send kamikaze bombers loaded with plague to San Diego, California. The operation was scheduled for 22 September 1945. The Atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945.
As the end of the war approached In 1945, Unit 731 embarked on its wildest scheme of all. Codenamed Cherry Blossoms at Night, the plan was to use kamikaze pilots to infest California with the plague.
Toshimi Mizobuchi, who was an instructor for new recruits in Unit 731, said the idea was to use 20 of the 500 new troops who arrived in Harbin in July 1945. A submarine was to take a few of them to the seas off Southern California, and then they were to fly in a plane carried on board the submarine and contaminate San Diego with plague-infected fleas. The target date was to be Sept. 22, 1945.
Ishio Obata, 73, who now lives in Ehime prefecture, acknowledged that he had been a chief of the Cherry Blossoms at Night attack force against San Diego, but he declined to discuss details. “It is such a terrible memory that I don’t want to recall it,” he said.
Tadao Ishimaru, also 73, said he had learned only after returning to Japan that he had been a candidate for the strike force against San Diego. “I don’t want to think about Unit 731,” he said in a brief telephone interview. “Fifty years have passed since the war. Please let me remain silent.”
It Is unclear whether Cherry Blossoms at Night ever had a chance of being carried out. Japan did indeed have at least five submarines that carried two or three planes each, their wings folded against the fuselage like a bird.
But a Japanese Navy specialist said the navy would have never allowed Its finest equipment to be used for an army plan like Cherry Blossoms at Night, partly because the highest priority in the summer of 1945 was to defend the main Japanese islands, not to launch attacks on the United States mainland.
If the Cherry Blossoms at Night plan was ever serious, it became irrelevant as Japan prepared to sur-render in early August 1945. In the last days of the war, beginning on Aug. 9, Unit 731 used dynamite to try to destroy all evidence of its germ warfare program, scholars say.
The Ancient Warship Archaeology Program (AWAP) was initiated after the discovery of numerous warship rams in the Egadi Islands, Sicily. Together with previous ram discoveries, this increase in the corpus of rams provides a signficant body of evidence for warships studies from an archaeological perspective. Having relied almost solely on literary, iconographic and indirect architectural evidence to date, it is now possible to bring archaeological evidence, direct evidence, to this study. Research objectives include warship construction, ram construction and function, warship tactics, warship deposition.
Is a bronze warship ram a weapon? The definition of weapon is really quite broad being anything used to cause harm, injury, or damage. Such a definition can include almost anything including a roof tile that killed an invading King Pyrrhus in Greece. More instructive for this discussion is to limit ‘weapons’ to those objects that were purposefully manufactured for use in warfare, and are a composite of several materials. In antiquity weapons can be broken into two main categories: ranged and melee. Ranged weapons are designed to shoot a projectile and inflict harm at a distance from the wielder of the weapon. These type weapons included javelins, bows, catapults, and slings. Melee weapons were used in a manner that the wielder maintained contact with the weapon as it inflicted harm. The most common weapons of this type were swords, spears, axes, daggers, clubs, maces, and hammers. A warship’s ram was part of a larger weapon, the warship, which falls within the broad category of melee weapons. The warship was powered and wielded by individuals who were required to stay with it and directly operate the vessel for it to function. Warships were not propelled forward to travel unmanned with intention to strike another warship, a case where they would be ranged weapons, rather the crew and officers directly propelled and steered them into their intended targets.
In addition to being a component of a weapon, the warship, a bronze ram also served in the capacity of armor. Armor is a covering of material that is designed to offset the penetration or impact force of projectile or melee weapons. Clear examples are the body armor worn by soldiers in antiquity that protected the soldiers’ skin, and in some cases helped to protect the bones. One of the key personal armor elements was the helmet that was typically constructed of bronze or iron and had an intervening padded section with the wearer’s head; this system helped to protect the skull from being easily penetrated or shattered. Not unlike the helmet, or the hilt guard on a sword, the ram had a protection role. As noted, a bronze ram on the bow of a warship helped to project the timbers that most often came into direct contact when delivering the weapon’s blow. Without a protective function as consideration, there is little need for the cowl and bottom plate/tailpiece. The important structural keel and stem timbers required protection as did the intricate scarfs at the bow; damage here could easily render the entire warship unserviceable.