By the beginning of the Russo-Japanese War, Sakhalin Island was practically defenseless against an external invasion. Moreover, they did not think much about his protection. Although against the background of Kamchatka, which was not prepared to defend at all, Sakhalin looks almost like a fortress. 1500 people with six guns, the absence of coastal defense, machine guns, fortifications is still much better than nothing. Of course, there were plans in case of war. They provided for the creation of detachments from among the exiled settlers in the amount of three thousand people, the transfer of additional artillery and products from Vladivostok, the construction of fortifications. But it didn't work out with the fortifications, but with the rest ...
With more than a year in reserve, Sakhalin could be turned into a fortress: there were enough cannons (there were hundreds of obsolete naval guns in the Baltic and the Black Sea), and there were also enough people. There were no problems with delivery: in winter, the Tatar Strait freezes over and anything can be done. But only 12 machine guns and 8 guns of the 1877 model were transported. The mobilization was carried out. But, again, most of the exiled convicts were not soldiers, and 2400 people, poorly trained and with Berdan's rifles, were not drawn to force. This is not counting the fact that a good half had simply dispersed by the time of the Japanese invasion. The trenches on the coast, however, were dug. But, again, sit in an earthen hole under the fire of the United fleet - below average pleasure. With coastal artillery, capable of responding to ships, somehow it did not work out. She was represented by as many as four guns: two 120-mm Kane and two 47-mm, taken from the cruiser "Novik".
With the light hand of Pikul, the struggle for Sakhalin is shown as a kind of mixture of the heroism of the people and the treachery of the top. But, alas, there was no special heroism, no special betrayal. With such forces, it was impossible to defend the island. And everyone understood this perfectly. The calculation was on a retreat with battles and partisan actions in order to play for time and designate a defense for diplomats, and they were carried out. And the lower classes fought in different ways. There was also heroism. But no feats from a shell weighing a couple of hundred kg will help. And with the advantage of the enemy.
15th division of General Kharaguchi, consisting of 12 battalions, 1 squadron, 18 guns and 1 machine-gun squad, a total of 14 people. The transport fleet, consisting of 000 steamers, was accompanied by the 10rd Catoaca squadron of 3 naval units.
This heroism was nothing more than a way to die for the mistakes of the command.
This is not to mention the fact that when planning the actions of partisan detachments in the south of the island, no tactics were worked out for the partisans. And the partisans had to operate in detachments of hundreds of people. To summarize briefly - having a year and a half, they did nothing, although there was both time and opportunity: either for coastal defense, or for mining convenient landing sites. When you read the research on the defense of Sakhalin, you begin to think that the island of Russia was not particularly needed, and the unwillingness to show weakness prevented it from evacuating it.
At 9 o'clock on July 7, 1905, the Japanese began landing on the coast of Aniva Bay between the village of Mereya and Savina Pad'ya. The defense of Sakhalin began. The sailors of Lieutenant Maksimov entered the battle.
In his report, the lieutenant from the Novik cruiser of the Russian Imperial Fleet gave a description of not only battles, but also preparations for military operations on the island, simultaneously revealing many secondary, but very interesting points. For example:
On August 24, at 6 o'clock in the morning, two Japanese mine transports arrived, anchored five miles from Korsakovsk, and sent two steam boats to detonate the cruiser.
The first battle of the newly formed battery with the Japanese fleet. The Japanese lost three people. The cruiser was not blown up, four three-pound (48 kg) mines were removed from the engine room. The Japanese were very afraid of lifting the cruiser, otherwise they would not have fenced off the combat operation, risking both people and ships. But, alas, until the end of the war, at least we did not even plan anything like that.
The main naval headquarters ordered the cruiser to be prepared for destruction and, when the need arises, to blow it up. Having received this order, I sent a telegram to Rear Admiral Greve, asking him to send 4 mines to destroy the cruiser, 50 mines to mine the bay, 100 120 mm and 200 47 mm rounds, but I still did not receive even my secondary telegram answer. Thinking that he would have to have a fight on the shore in the depths of the island, he installed two 47 mm guns on a sleigh in a harness of two horses each, made a test, and a rollback turned out to be one step.
Moreover, everyone did not care about the cruiser itself, or Sakhalin as a whole. It was not a problem to send fifty mines, the ships went to Sakhalin. And Maksimov also points to this:
From the transport "Ussuri" received 4 machine guns without belts. I sent Rear Admiral Greve a telegram with a request to send machine-gun belts, rifle cartridges, clothing for the team, and again 4 mines to destroy the cruiser, 50 mines to mine the bay. On the Emma transport I received clothes, provisions for the team, 90 belts for machine guns and two hundred 47 mm iron cartridges with black powder. He met all the arriving transports at sea, brought them to an anchor point, supplied them with water, coal, money, provisions and a machine crew, repaired cars, somehow the Ussuri transport. On transport, Emma arranged bunks for passengers with his team and installed ovens. Transport "Lily" took off the shallows and led to the Krillon lighthouse, since the named transport had an old general card and did not dare to go on its own at night.
Moreover, they were unhurriedly unloaded by the forces of sailors and were even repaired and refitted. There was no problem, but there was no desire either. The dispatch of cast-iron shells with black powder and machine guns and belts separately - nothing else can you call a mockery. In the autumn of 1904, when there was no Japanese domination in these waters, it was possible to transfer to the island at least a division, and even though a dozen batteries with everything needed for construction and autonomous actions, but they limited themselves to the removal of some of the Novik sailors (they left 60 people). One can understand Greve, on which Vladivostok was hanging, with his squadron of cruisers and no repair facilities, in addition, the repair of the "Bogatyr", the modernization with the repair of the Rurikites and preparation for the meeting of the Second Squadron. But what Petersburg was thinking about is absolutely incomprehensible. Pumping colossal funds into Chinese Manchuria, nothing was done to defend the Russian land. The mess on the island was just enchanting:
Arriving at the Krillon lighthouse and familiarizing himself with the arrangement of the service, regretfully found complete chaos ... The lighthouse keeper is very old and insane, in fact, his 12-year-old daughter played the role of the keeper, managing the warehouses and keeping the crew happy ... The mast had no signal cables, and all the new flags were eaten by rats ... To my question - why the lighthouse did not respond to the signals of the transport "Emma", the caretaker answered - "There are many of them walking around here, and everyone raises a signal, I will not answer them, and besides, I don't have to. " The team was dressed out of shape, dirty, completely unfamiliar with discipline and dignity ... The signal cannon, when fired due to the dilapidated installation, overturned and threatened to injure the shooter ... Having examined the air siren, I saw the steam cylinder cover, broken into two parts ... Krillon came Japanese boats and when the team wanted to arrest them, the caretaker did not allow them, receiving alcohol, tobacco and some luxury goods from the Japanese.
In more adequate times, the superintendent would become a victim of repression even without a tribunal, and his subordinates would go to bathe in blood in a penal battalion. The right to sit deep in the rear and signal to rare ships during the war must still be earned. But then in adequate, and in Russia, which we lost, did not suffer from anything like that. On the contrary, flight lieutenant himself puts things in order persuades sailors to carry out their duty.
Being in captivity and meeting with the caretaker of the named lighthouse, to my question - why the lighthouse was not destroyed, the answer followed: "I'm not a fool, if I burned it, they would kill me, but to hell with him."
Looking ahead, he will not really achieve anything. This is not Joseph Vissarionovich, in which you would walk to the wall from Greve to the caretaker. This is an empire at war with Japan. Petersburg does not care about the island. Greve doesn't care about the cruiser. And nobody cares about a particular lighthouse, in general, except for Maksimov.
After the Tsushima battle, Rear Admiral Greve received an order "to blow up the cruiser, to distribute the property to the poor, taking receipts." Due to the storm, the cruiser could not blow up, but blew up four 120 mm guns, which were buried in the ground, and distributed the property, according to the order received. After 3 days, using the calm, I laid a 3-pound Japanese mine on the left side of the medium vehicles and detonated ... Having laid the second mine near this hole, closer to the stern, I made an explosion, but it turned out to be weak .. Report to Rear Admiral Greve , shrinking from myself any responsibility for the further fate of the cruiser, because to my requests for the sending of mines, I did not even receive an answer. Received orders from Rear Admiral Greve to destroy the cruiser with gunpowder. Having received from Colonel Artsishevsky 18 poods of black powder, using the tanks of self-propelled mines, he began to manufacture mines.
The cruiser Maksimov still blew up, building explosives literally from feces and sticks. True, the Japanese raised and restored the ship anyway. Touches the fate of four five-inch Kane - did Greve have no calculations and shells? In 1904, to arm the auxiliary cruisers, they bought gun trash all over the world, and here four brand new guns were buried in the ground and then blown up. By the standards of any other war, it has already been tribunal, even twice: the first time - for the order to blow up without explosives, the second time - for the cannons. But nothing, Greve after the war became vice admiral, commanded the St. Petersburg port and a separate detachment of ships of the Baltic Fleet, retired in 1907 and died in Nice in 1913. Honored man, hero, Order of St. Stanislav 1st degree at the end of the war.
An interesting point - the Sakhalin and Tsushima people with the EBR "Emperor Alexander III":
On June 14, at 3 o'clock in the morning, an ensign from the island of Urup arrived on a whaleboat for the sea part Leyman with 10 sailors. Arriving at the pier, he found the named warrant officer lying down, as he was very sick and exhausted. Ensign Leiman at sea became very ill from a large abscess formed in the caecum. For 5 days he had urinary retention and for the last 7 days he has not taken food or water. At 4 o'clock in the morning by military doctor Baronov, the named warrant officer received medical assistance. When questioned, it turned out that the named warrant officer was on the prize steamer "Oldgamia", which crashed on the island of Urup.
Novikov wrote about the fate of Oldhamia in Tsushima. I wrote it briefly. In the style of socialist realism and extremely uninformative. But Leiman is the only surviving officer from "Alexander III". And the sailors recruited from battleships could tell a lot ... But that is a question stories... Leiman himself also left a report, but only about the transfer of the prize ship and about his capture by the Japanese already on the island. But he knew a lot. Or did he tell? Maybe where is the testimony or memoirs? After the war, Leiman lived in Latvia, Germany and the USA, and died in 1951. But this is the lyrics.
Returning to Sakhalin.
Rear Admiral Greve sent a telegram asking permission to go to sea to help the victims, but received the following answer: "I do not allow, be prepared for the enemy's occupation of Sakhalin Island." Indeed, the next day, namely the 23rd at 5 o'clock. In the evenings from the Krillonsky lighthouse, the signalman Burov of the Novik cruiser team informed me by telephone about an enemy squadron that had appeared, heading for Cape Aniva.
Maybe I don’t understand something in the office books of the beginning of the last century, but what does it mean “be ready for class”? Was it not planned to fight at all? Maximov and prepared:
“At 9 o'clock. In the evenings he sent servants for the guns, the people assigned to destroy Korsakovsk, supplied them with kerosene, ordered them to get ready for the wagon train and set out for Pervaya Pad, gave the people rusks and canned food for three days. I prepared aft flags, pennants, all signal flags, as well as signal books, secret documents for destruction, folding them in my office and ordering to light everything, as well as Korsakovsk at the first cannon of my battery. In addition, 27 120 mm high-explosive shells were laid under the building of the consulate ”.
And he gave a fight:
At 2 hours 50 meters from behind Cape Endum a mine detachment, consisting of 4 3-pipe destroyers, appeared. Letting them go to 25 cables (on luzhols), personally zeroed in and, giving the batteries a sight of 22 cables, opened rapid fire ... After 5-7 minutes. on the second destroyer, on the starboard side, there was a fire (near the wardroom), and on the third there was an explosion of a 120 mm projectile in the stern, after which the destroyers began to blow short whistles and rushed in different directions ... opened rapid fire with segmental shells ... 18 minutes later, with a sight of 20 cables, two 12 mm shells were noticed simultaneously hitting the starboard side ... Then the destroyer ceased fire, turned into the sea, began to move away, having a roll of 120 to 5 degrees to the right board ... Knowing exactly where the fleet was stationed, he opened switch fire, to which he received a brutal bombardment in response. With a sight of 8 cables, the upper tooth burst at the comb of the lifting mechanism of gun No. 60 ... Turning to the second gun, he continued throwing fire until the last cartridge, after which he also blew it up, ordered to burn the cellar. Arriving at 1 mm guns, he ordered to shoot the house on the pier and the boat, which were quietly burning. The remaining about 47 cartridges were shot through the forest, beyond which the enemy could already see. Having blown up both 40 mm guns, having waited for the end of the bombardment, he ran to the lighthouse mountain, which was outside the shots and where the people who set the whole city on fire were supposed to gather. In battle with the enemy, he used 47 73 mm and 120 110 mm shells. Cruisers also took part in the bombardment, for 47 "and 6 mm shells fell. In total, they burned 120 sheds, 32 houses, 47 large and 92 small kungas in all three pads.
What if Kane's guns were six? And if there are plenty of shells, at least some fortifications and normal infantry cover? And if the shells, not soaked with wild dispersion, but full-fledged? That they shot and burned the city is all right. But it would be more correct to defend, given the forces, of course. By the way, there are doubts about hitting the Japanese:
The fire of our coastal battery lasted about 20 minutes, as for the result achieved on our side and how much damage was inflicted on the enemy, I cannot testify so as not to fall into error in view of the report of Lieutenant Maksimov, which is attached to the description itself.
According to the report of Colonel Artsyshevsky. But the fight was for sure. And they drove away the Japanese, too, for sure. In those conditions, it would have been a miracle to wait for more. Maximov continued the war further:
About 5 minutes later I saw several silhouettes of enemy soldiers at 6-7 paces, and therefore ordered to open fire. On the first shot, the entire detachment opened fire. The enemy also did not hesitate to respond with brutal rifle fire, but after 30 minutes the enemy, having been repulsed with great damage, ceased fire and quickly retreated with great noise. In the detachment, rifle fire was stopped, and the guns continued to shoot, trying to fire at the area located near the village of Dalniy, where, as we knew, reserves were concentrated.
Before being captured.
The rest took place without his participation. And there was little interesting in this.
The Japanese quickly occupied the island with minimal losses. Separate detachments, however, resisted for a long time. And the detachment of Captain Bykov did break through to the mainland. But these were exactly bright spots against the background of what was happening: from the Russian coastal defense battleships in the Japanese fleet, firing at Sakhalin, to the surrender of General Lyapunov, who was not even a military man.
The Japanese did not take the island. The island was surrendered by our authorities, having failed to organize its defense in a year and a half. And this is a fact.
A fact that, as for me, is much more shameful than Tsushima, where our ships died, but did not surrender (the morning of May 15 and Nebogatov is a completely different story, from the Rozhdestvensky squadron only "Bedovy" and "Eagle" were lowered, from not rich people only "Ushakov" surrendered, the proverb about lions and rams has not been canceled), and Mukden combined.
Another question is that after the shattered lost war, no one was particularly interested in this.
Interest arose only after the book "Hard labor" by Pikul. But a lot is wrong there. The same captain Bykov was married, fought in Manchuria, where he was awarded, and resigned only in 1906. By the way, the tendency is that career sailor Maximov and career captain Bykov, who smelled gunpowder, fought desperately and inspired people. But the local rear garrison officers fought much worse and reluctantly, which is understandable:
“... Formed back in 1904, the squads did not correspond to their combat mission; many people were old, weak, and physically handicapped; unsuitable people from the teams were allocated to the cadres of the squads; with a few, of course, exceptions. People from convicts and exiles entered the squads not out of conviction or desire to fight the enemy and defend Sakhalin, but because the benefits given for serving in squads quickly reduced the mandatory terms of their stay in exile on the cursed island. "
And only a few Manchu officers were able to organize something combat-ready. There is nothing to be surprised at - the significance of Sakhalin was not understood in St. Petersburg, which was proved by the Portsmouth Peace.