However, R. Prokoptsu, despite the status of the victim, such an escapade had to go sideways - they were going to judge him exactly 27 January 1904, but, for obvious reasons, the process did not take place. The court was moved to February 9, and there N.O. von Essen, who asked for indulgence to the defendant due to the fact that the latter "stood all the time on the steering wheel and showed a lot of military prowess, and under severe fire calmly and skillfully performed his duty." As a result, the case ended with the fact that R. Prokopts was nevertheless sentenced to the year of the disciplinary battalion, but then he was pardoned: Vice-Admiral O.V. Stark, on the eve of the surrender of the post to the new squadron commander, SO Makarov approved this sentence, so R. Prokopets got off with a slight fright for his “little boatswain's bend”.
Nikolai Ottovich himself for the battle of 27 January 1904 was awarded gold weapons with the inscription "For courage."
It must be said that the combat damage did not put the cruiser down for a long time - on January 30 it was put on dry dock, and on February 8 on 1904, it came out as new, ready for new battles and achievements. Nevertheless, a lot happened in these 10 days in Port Arthur, including the death of the Boyarin cruiser, and all of this may have had a far greater impact on the squadron’s activities than is commonly believed.
The fact is that, oddly enough, the first days after the start of the war, the vicar of Ye.I. Alekseev demanded active actions - on February 4 he gathered a meeting in which, besides himself, the chief of staff of the governor V.K. Vitgeft, squadron chief O.V. Stark, junior flagships and other officers. A note by captain 1 of rank A.A. Aberhard, in which he proposed a squadron march to Chemulpo in order to demonstrate strength and interrupt the landing, if there was one, for which, including, it was necessary to inspect the skerries near the city.
Of course, A.A. Eberhard was well aware that in his current state there were five armadillos, of which Peresvet and Pobeda were an intermediate type between an armadillo and an armored cruiser, and the small armored cruiser Bayan could not count on success in an open battle against the main Japanese forces fleet consisting of 6 armadillos and 6 large armored cruisers. Nevertheless, he considered it possible to give battle to parts of the Japanese fleet if the latter, under the influence of any factors (damage in battle at Port Arthur on January 27, 1904, distracting actions of the Vladivostok cruiser detachment, etc.) is divided into those and the squad encountered will be "tough" to the weakened squadron of the Pacific Ocean.
Thus, in order to bring the squadron into the sea without the “Tsesarevich” and “Retvizan”, it was necessary to conduct long-range reconnaissance and detect Japanese forces. A.A. Ebergard proposed to make "thorough reconnaissance of both the western half of the Gulf of Pechili and parts of Liaodong Bay, and the eastern part of the sea in the direction of the cruise of the enemy squadron -" Shantung-Clifford ". If at the same time a relatively weak Japanese detachment is found, then it will be possible to “think of an offensive with the aim of a battle at a distance of 100-300 miles from our point — Port Arthur.”
Interestingly, the members of the meeting fully agreed with the governor, the need for such a raid of the main forces to Chemulpo, in order to destroy individual ships and detachments of the enemy, as well as an attack on the route of the land forces that landed in Chemulpo. Nevertheless, the decision was not executed, and the main problem was the lack of cruisers.
Indeed, apart from the “Rurik”, “Gromoboya”, “Russia” and “Bogatyr” located in Vladivostok, the squadron of the Pacific Ocean had seven cruisers before the war, including: one armored cruiser “Bayan”, four armored 1-grade - "Askold", "Varyag", "Pallas" and "Diana", as well as two armored 2-rank - "Boyar" and "Novik". But by the time the meeting was over, “Varyag” was already lying at the bottom of the Chemulpo raid, “Boyarin” - was killed by a mine, and “Pallada” and “Novik” were under repair, and everything about everything from Vice-Admiral O.V. Stark was only three cruisers - "Bayan", "Askold" and "Diana".
"Diana" before the Russo-Japanese War, 1903
At the same time, “Diana”, in its actual qualities, was completely unsuitable for the role of a long-range intelligence officer. With real speed within 17,5-18 knots, this cruiser was not able to escape from a group of Japanese armored cruisers or a large armored cruiser - they were quite able to catch up and destroy the “Diana”. This does not indicate the complete uselessness of this cruiser, oddly enough, it could well serve as a scout for the squadron. The fact is that in those years the effective range was significantly lower than the detection range. It was possible to see the enemy on 10 miles, and more, but successfully shooting at him from cruisers would be difficult at distances greater than 4 miles. Thus, even with superior speed in the 2-3 knot, enemy cruisers might need 2-3 hours to get close to the effective Diane leaving for them at full speed after detection. Accordingly, the “Diana” could easily conduct reconnaissance at a distance of 35-45 miles from the squadron and even more, always having the opportunity to retreat under cover of the “big guns”, and in principle, the 8 * 152-mm guns of the cruiser made it possible to count on success in battle with a single small cruiser Japanese (like "Tsushima", "Suma", etc.). But even this could be dangerous if the same “doggie” squad managed to interpose between the “Diana” and the main forces, and it was completely impossible to send a cruiser to distant reconnaissance.
Moreover, if there was a competition for the most untrained crew in the squadron, then Diana would have excellent chances to take first place in it. Recall how this cruiser Vl. Semenov in his famous "Payback":
“The cruiser who launched the 17 campaign in January had been in reserve for the 11 months! Even if it left Kronstadt to the Far East (in the autumn of 1902), the team was formed strictly according to the rules, then there would have to be two appeals as part of it, that is, people who did not see the sea around 1 / 3. In fact, these men dressed in sailor shirts turned out to be almost 50%, and the marine practice of a good half of the rest was exhausted by the only trip from Arthur to Vladivostok and back ... Manners and customs were established not only not sea, but even not land-barracks but just ... rustic. When doing some work, although not common, but requiring a significant number of people, instead of a specific command or command, there is such a branch there and there! - the non-commissioned officers asked the "countrymen" to help, and even the senior boatswain, instead of the chief shout, invited the "guys" to lean heavily on "the whole world" in order to "wave away - and sabbath! .." ”.
Thus, in order to scout the situation, O.V. Stark was left with only 2 cruisers, armed transports and destroyers, and this, of course, was not enough - attempts to conduct reconnaissance by these forces, although they were undertaken, did not lead to anything sensible. But if at the disposal of the Chief of the Squadron there were not only Bayan and Askold, but also Novik with Boyar, then the squadron may still have gone on its first military campaign. Of course, Novik came out of February 8 repair, and could be used in operations, but, as we know, already on February 9 a new commander was appointed to the Squadron, S.O. Makarov.
Strictly speaking, this was the case - due to the fact that the Japanese landed in Korea, the governor of E.I. Alekseev urgently needed to visit Mukden. In order to strengthen the authority of O.V. Stark, the governor asked for the highest permission to give O.V. Stark is the rights of the fleet commander, which this vice-admiral did not have. However, E.I. Alekseev received the answer that a new commander, SO, was appointed to the squadron. Makarov. The deputy, of course, took note of this, but did not abandon his plans for the expedition to Chemulpo, and in the secret order of O.V. Starku, recalling the need to take care of the armadillos, demanded to make this trip all the same. However, alas, the delay turned out to be that the Japanese again took the initiative in their hands ...
The governor left Port Arthur on February 8, simultaneously with the return of Novik into service, and O.V. Stark was preparing to carry out the order of the Steward. According to his orders, on February 11, all three existing cruisers under the command of Rear Admiral MP Molasa, accompanied by four destroyers, were to carry out a reconnaissance raid to the mouth of the Cinampo River. But in the evening of February 10, the Japanese made the first attempt to block the exit to the external raid in Port Arthur, which, however, was repelled. In the morning of February 11, two destroyers, the Watchdog and the Watchman, went on patrol to search for enemy ships and found four Japanese destroyers. By attaching the Skory, which was nearby, all three Russian destroyers attempted to attack the Japanese unit - but they did not accept a decisive battle and retreated to the east, leading a sluggish fire at a great distance. In the end, following the instructions passed from the Golden Mountain, the destroyers turned back. “Novik” in 07.08 in the morning went to sea for support, but could not catch up with the Japanese, so, sending the “Fast” to Port Arthur, took the rest of the Russian destroyers to Pigeon Bay, where “Striker” and “ Prompt. Leading, thus, a combined detachment of four destroyers, "Novik" led him to Port Arthur.
However, at the same time, an 3 battle squad commanded by Rear Admiral Deva, as part of the Kasagi, Chetose, Takasago, and Iosino high-speed armored cruisers, approached Port Arthur. reconnaissance, followed by the main forces of Kh. Togo. On the cruisers, they identified the Russian squadron as the Novik and 5 destroyers, and went on rapprochement with it.
Armored cruiser "Takasago"
The situation was saved by the prudence of the rear admiral, and maybe the squadron commander, since it is unclear who exactly gave the order according to which an external raid arrived at 08.00 in the morning, “Bayan” went out to cover the returning Novik and the destroyers, and later 25 minutes - “ Askold. Just about this time, Golden Mountain observers found, in addition to the 3-s to him, the military unit of Virgo, and 6 battleships and 6 armored cruisers X. Togo, accompanied by small ships, all counted were 25 pennants. Thus, the reconnaissance raid to the Cinampo cruisers finally lost its meaning - the main forces of the Japanese were in direct view from Port Arthur.
By 08.55, the "dogs" of Rear Admiral Deva approached the Novik and the destroyers and fired on Russian ships. The official Russian historiography indicates that the Japanese have come close to the 40 cable distance, but, reading the reports of the destroyer commanders about this fight, you inevitably experience this great doubt. So, for example, the commander of the “Watchman” reported that the Japanese volleys went to “huge shortfalls”, and the “Novik”, apparently, did not even try to answer. Obviously, all this is completely unnatural for the distance in 4 miles and it can be assumed that in fact it was much more. Apparently, the source of this error lies in the misinterpretation of the report of the commander of Bayan, who said: “In 08 hours of 55 minutes, enemy ships, approaching 40 cable distance, opened fire on Novik and the destroyers, and then on the Bayan cruiser "". However, this line has a double interpretation - it is not clear to whom it was 40 cable, before Novik or Bayan? In addition, we should take into account the not too good ability of our range-finders to determine the distance, but perhaps the appearance is also to blame: the fact that the Japanese cruisers were given short undershoots indicates that the distance to the enemy was mistakenly determined, and in fact the Russians They were farther than the artillerymen of Rear Admiral Deva.
Be that as it may, the “Bayan” and the “Askold” rushed to the Novik and the destroyers, so the Japanese were forced to disperse the fire. At Bayan, they raised a signal: “Novika” to join the wake of Askold, which was done. Now the Novik opened fire, and the Russian cruisers attacked the 3-th combat detachment of the Japanese, and the destroyers they were covering went into the harbor. However, the decisive battle did not work - already in 09.00, the "dogs" were turned off at 16 points (that is, at 180 degrees), and began to leave. This decision of Rear Admiral Deva is quite understandable: his task was to investigate the success of the passage barrier into the inner harbor of Port Arthur, and not at all the decisive battle with the Russian cruisers. He accomplished this task, and now he should return with a report: in addition, by retreating, the Japanese had little hope of captivating Russian cruisers with the guns of their heavy ships. Despite the fact that the Japanese battleships and armored cruisers were far enough away, and, in principle, it was possible to try to pursue the Japanese cruiser detachment for at least some time, they raised a signal on Golden Mount to the “Cruisers to return to the internal raid”. Naturally, this order was executed and in 09.20 the fire stopped on both sides. In this battle, no one suffered any losses - there were no hits on the Japanese ships, but their shells, according to the commander of the “Bayan”, lay down no closer than two cables from Russian ships. However, this small skirmish was only a prelude to what happened the next day.
In the evening of February 11, eight Russian destroyers launched an external raid. If their task was to attempt the night attack of the main forces of the enemy, discovered in the morning of the same day, then such a rambling affair would have been welcome. However, the tasks of these destroyers were much more modest - they should have prevented the Japanese light forces from trying to make another night sabotage, by analogy with the attempt to enter the night from 10 to 11 in February. However, this was also important - we must not forget that the newest squadron battleship Retvisan, undermined during the attack on 27 in January of 1904, was still aground and was an excellent prize for Japanese destroyers. The Japanese made a night attack, which failed, however, with success - but our destroyers did not succeed in trying to intercept the “colleagues” from the Land of the Rising Sun.
It was clear that the Japanese light forces (yes, the same "dogs") could appear at Port Arthur in the morning for reconnaissance or hoping to intercept and destroy the destroyers returning from patrol. In order to prevent this, on 06.45 in the morning of February 12, all three combat-ready Russian cruisers launched an external raid - and all this became the prologue for the most unusual sea battle of the Russian-Japanese war. The fact is that just at this time, the main forces of Heyhatiro Togo approached Port Arthur, and this time they were not going to stand aside ...
Of the 8 Russian destroyers of the 1 squadron, which went into the night patrol, only two returned at dawn. Then 07.00 of the destroyer returned to 4, who reported to Bayan that they saw two smoke. Soon cruisers noticed several smokes in the southeast, in 08.15 it became clear that the main forces of the Japanese fleet were coming. Rear Admiral MP Molas, who was holding the flag on the Bayan, reported to Port Arthur that “the enemy, including 15 ships, is coming from the sea,” and ordered the cruisers to be built in battle order: “Bayan”, “Novik”, “Askold”, which was performed on 08.30.
Oddly enough, but OV Stark was not going to sit in the inner harbor at all - at about the same time he ordered the squadron battleships to plant pairs in order to enter the outer raid at 14.00 - it was high water during the day, before the deep-seated ships could not leave the inner harbor. Then ov Stark ordered the cruisers to continue to monitor the enemy, remaining under the protection of the coastal batteries, and canceled the output of the "Diana", which, apparently, he was still going to use before. At about the same time, observers from the forts spotted 2 Russian destroyers who did not have time to return to the port: “Impressive” and “Fearless” were returning from Lyaoteshen.
Some sources indicate that Rear Admiral MP Molas asked the Chief of the Squadron for permission to return to the internal raid - this is difficult or not to say, but neither the report of the commander of "Bayan" nor the official historiography contain any mention of this, so it could not be. But in 09.00 OV Stark repeated his order, indicating at the same time having 9 turn nodes. Soon the Japanese fleet became clearly visible — the Chihaia advices went ahead, the 6 battleships of the 1 combat detachment followed them, the Tatsuta advices followed by a large interval, and the 6 armored cruisers of Kamimura followed them, and 4 behind them all Armored cruisers of Rear Admiral Deva.
High-quality photo of the battleship "Asahi"
As a matter of fact, for the Japanese the situation was extremely successful - under the batteries there were only three Russian cruisers that could be attacked by the main forces of the fleet and destroyed, while the squadron armadillos remained in the internal roadstead and obviously could not help. H. Togo seemed to be going to do this and went to a rapprochement, but, according to official Japanese historiography, he discovered a floating mine right at the rate and suggested that the cruisers were luring him into a minefield, which in fact was not. As a result, he defaulted past Port Arthur at a great distance (on the order of 10 miles), keeping heading for the summit of Lyaotechan, then turned to 09.35 in 180 degrees. and went back, with the advice notes gone, and the 3-I combat detachment ("dogs") continued to move to Lyaotechan, thereby cutting off the way home for the returning Russian destroyers.
Well, the 12 of the armored ships X. Togo returned now to where they came from, and, once again passing by Port Arthur, only in 10.40 did they turn onto Russian cruisers. Around the same time, the Japanese admiral allowed his ships to open fire at any convenient time for them. This happened according to Japanese data in 10.45, but the five-minute difference is quite explainable by the inaccuracies of logbooks, which in the Russian fleet, for example, were filled in after the battle. Most likely, Kh. Togo gave this order at the same time as he returned to the Russian cruisers - however, it is not excluded that he ordered during the turnaround, and the five-minute difference is connected with the loss of time to raise the signal.
Rear Admiral MP Molas immediately turned to the south-east - it turned out that he was at odds with the Japanese squadron countercourses, while moving away from Port Arthur. Here I would like to point out the mistake of esteemed A. Emelin - in his monograph on the Novik cruiser, he points out that the cruisers went to the harbor entrance, but this is not confirmed by either Russian or Japanese sources. The Japanese, having come close to the Russian cruisers on the 40 cable, turned again (where - alas, from the descriptions of this fight it is unclear, it only indicates that the 8 glasses, i.e. 90 degrees) and no later than 10.58 opened fire on the cruisers - the closest at that time, the “Askold” terminal was located to them. We write "no later than that", because in 10.58, as we know from Japanese historiography, opened fire on Mikas, but it is possible that other Japanese ships, guided by X. Togo’s order, started the battle earlier. In the Russian sources indicated that the battle began "the main Japanese battleship," but the fire was opened by them a little earlier, in 10.55.
What happened next? The witness of those distant events, Lieutenant A.P. Shter we can read:
“Then, seeing that, continuing the battle with such a strong opponent, you can only destroy the ship without using it at all, the commander of Novik launched full speed to the vehicles and rushed at the enemy fleet, intending to attack mines. He was not allowed to fulfill his plan, because, noticing our maneuver, in Arthur they raised a signal: “Novik” to return to the harbor. ”
But was it really? Apparently - no, everything was completely different. As we said earlier, at the moment the battle began, Rear Admiral MP’s detachment Molas was removed from Port Arthur, and hence from the batteries of his fortress. Therefore, already in 11.00 OV Stark raised the signal "Staying Closer to the Batteries", which was logical - in the current situation only their fire gave the cruisers some hope of surviving. At this time, the cruiser MP Molas led the battle, having the enemy on the port side, and in order to execute the order of the commander, he had to turn around to 16 points, that is, 180 degrees, but how? A turn to the left led to a rapprochement with the enemy, but if you turn to the right, then - on the contrary, breaking the distance. And at this moment on the cruiser “Bayan” a mistake was made: wanting to give an order to turn “through the right shoulder”, they raised a signal: “Turn everything suddenly to the left on 16 rhumbuses”.
In the end, it turned out that Novik and Askold turned left on the opposite course, while Bayan turned to the right - from the side, and on the ships themselves it seemed as if Novik and Askold went on the attack on the enemy. Probably, O.V. Stark ordered to raise the signal: "Cruisers return to the harbor."
It must be said that at this point the rear cruisers of Rear Admiral M.P. Molasa was not good at all - he was fighting with three ships against six battleships and six armored cruisers of the Japanese, and only high speed (and with the start of the battle 20 units were moved) still saved his ships from heavy damage. But the distance to the main forces of H. Togo had already been reduced to 32 cabels, and therefore the rear admiral had no choice but to go to emergency measures and enter the inner harbor of Port Arthur at 20 nodes speed, which, of course, was in peacetime unthinkable and never done before. Michman from “Askold” V.I. Medvedev described this episode as follows:
“It seemed that everyone had forgotten that there were port barges to enter the harbor. We all had one desire, as soon as possible and better to execute the signal of the admiral ... One by one we entered the passage at full speed, and behind the stern the shells continued to crumble. Our gunners fired until the stern gun hid behind the Golden Mount, which was just at that moment hit by a shell, showered all around with splinters and stones. ”
The Russian cruisers entered the harbor at about 11.15, so a shootout with the Japanese fleet at cable distances 32-40 took 20 minutes or so. "Askold" spent 257 shells, and "Novik" - 103, including 97-120-mm and 6 - 47-mm, unfortunately, the consumption of shells "Bayan" remains unknown. It is also unclear how many shells the Japanese spent in that battle, but in any case, they fired not only the cruisers, but also the coastal batteries of Port Arthur. According to the Japanese data, in this battle they did not suffer any damage, as before the Russian losses, the hit of the Japanese projectile beat off part of the barrel from the left 152-mm gun rifle cannon of the cruiser “Askold”, and a sailor was wounded by a fragment of this shell, breaking his leg. In fact, the cruiser believed that 305-mm Japanese projectile fell into them. In addition to the detachment of Rear Admiral MP Molasa took part in the battle one of the batteries of the Tiger Peninsula and the guns of the Electric Cliff: the lower rank was wounded on the battery of the last battery No. XXUMX. Apparently, there were no hits in the Japanese ships and no one was killed or wounded either. Thus, it can be stated that the greatest losses in the battle, which took place on February 15 12, suffered ... the Chinese, who after the battle 1904 people were arrested on suspicion that they gave signals to the Japanese fleet. This, however, is not the only anecdote from February 15 - according to the recollections of the above-mentioned midshipman V.I. Medvedev, in the midst of the battle, when the Russian cruisers 12 fought with inconceivable inequality of forces, and many views were riveted to the signal mount of Golden Mountain, waiting for what the Squadron commander would decide ... a signal was raised on her: "Free doctors get together at Sevastopol at three o'clock in the afternoon."
Nevertheless, the Russian fleet suffered 12 February losses - the destroyers "Impressive" and "Fearless" were returning to Port Arthur when the Japanese squadron appeared, while the "Fearless", giving full speed, broke into harbor under fire, but "Impressive" did not ventured, preferring to take refuge in Pigeon Bay. There he was found the four cruisers of Rear Admiral Deva. “Impressive” opened fire, but was quickly hit, after which the team, after opening the ship’s kingstones, evacuated to the land.
I must say that, before arriving in Port Arthur Stepan Osipovich Makarov, the cruiser under the command of M.P. Molasa left Port Arthur’s inner harbor twice more, but in both cases nothing interesting happened. So, 16 February, Bayan, Askold, Novik and Diana went out to sea, the purpose, according to the order of the head of the cruiser squadron was: “to show the Russian flag in the waters of the Kantunsky fortified area, and if possible to illuminate the adjacent waters of the Pechili Gulf , with the indispensable condition to avoid a collision with the strongest enemy. "
The campaign did not work out from the very beginning - the exit of the cruisers was assigned to 06.30, but the port boats approached only in 07.20 after two reminders. We note that this time the rear admiral took with him the "Diana", but not because he decided to use this cruiser in reconnaissance - he was only prepared for the role of a repeater of radiograms. Therefore, when the ships MP Molas came to Fr. Enkaunter, the Diana stayed there, and the rest of the cruisers, having adopted an equilateral triangle with a side length of 2 miles, and having the lead cruiser Novik, went ahead. But alas, the all-time "condition to avoid the strongest enemy" played a cruel joke with the cruisers - moving away from 25 miles from Fr. Enkaunter, on Novik, signals were seen with a combat lamp. Not understanding who was in front of them, the squad turned to Port Arthur where he arrived without incident, taking the Diana on the way and entering 15.30 on the internal raid. All intelligence was reduced to the discovery of a Japanese destroyer and two junks, so that its only result was a statement of the absence of the main enemy forces in 50 miles from Port Arthur.
The next exit took place on February 22. It was originally planned to send Novik to Inchendza Bay in order to cover the 4 Russian destroyers who had gone there for reconnaissance at night, and Bayan and Askold were to go to the Dalniy port and bring out four steamboats intended for flooding in the raid the purpose of the difficulty of the action of Japanese firewalls. But when all three cruisers were already headed for the sea, the “Diana” came out on the outer raid, with which a new order was sent over the radio and by signals: all cruisers would immediately go to Inchenda because the Japanese were landing there.
I must say that they decided to oppose the landing, seriously - General Fock stepped forward from Kinjou, leading the regiment and the guns attached to him, and their Port Arthur left Battalion with four guns to Inchentza. They were going to withdraw and the main forces of the squadron - the battleships were ordered to dissolve the pair and go to the raid with high water.
At this time, the cruiser MP Molasa came to Inchendzy, and this time the rear admiral acted bravo, and much more decisively than at the exit of February 16. The Russians discovered the smoke of unknown ships, then M.P. Molas ordered Novik to reconnoiter the bay, in which, according to the information, the Japanese landed, he himself led the Bayan and Askold towards the enemy. Alas, the battle enthusiasm was lost this time in vain - it turned out to be the very 4 of our destroyer, whom the Novik had to meet and cover up. By the way, the cruisers M.P. Molasa and first tried to retreat, but then they managed to count the number of "Askold" pipes - since he was the only one among all other Russian and Japanese ships to have five pipes, it became clear that it was his own.
As for Novik, he ordered the reconnaissance of the bay, but, alas, did not find anyone there - the information about the landing of the Japanese turned out to be false. Thus, the detachment of the cruisers of Rear Admiral MP Molasa had no choice but to return to Port Arthur together with the destroyers he had encountered, which, by the way, caused this error - the head of the telegraph station in Inchenda, who reported on the Japanese landing, actually saw the landing of people from the Russian destroyers.
Thus, we see that the thesis “to protect and not to risk” still did not fully touch the cruisers of the Pacific squadron and the “Novik” - yet before the arrival of S.O. Makarov they repeatedly went to sea and twice fought against the main forces of Japan Fleet (January 27 and February 12).
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