Great Sea Fights: The Battle of Tsushima, 1905 Part 2 – The Russian Perspective

May 2021

Part 2 of our 3-part special on the Battle of Tsushima explores the Russian perspective of the battle with a reading of the diary of Captain Vladimir Semenoff. Semenoff was a well known Russian naval officer who served in several positions throughout the course of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. His presence during the siege of Port Arthur and later during the Baltic Fleet’s long voyage to Tsushima gave him an unusually broad perspective on the war’s progress, and he later wrote several titles relating to these experiences. Indeed, he was one of very few Russian officers who could write as an eyewitness to both major naval battles of the war. The account is read by an A-level history pupil at Clifton College, Nikita Gukassov.

The Battle of Tsushima was the decisive naval action between Japan and Russia that effectively ended the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5 and one of the most important naval battles in history. It was the first in which radio played a major part; the action that demonstrated the power of the all-big-gun battleship, leading to HMS Dreadnought of 1906 and the Anglo-German dreadnought race; the first time a modern battleship was sunk by guns, and largely fought at previously unimaginable ranges of up to 12,000 metres (eight miles); the first, and last, decisive steel battleship action (the Russians lost eight battleships and more than 5,000 men while the Japanese lost only three torpedo boats and 116 men); the first modern defeat of a great European power by an Asian nation; and arguably the battle that made both the First World War more likely and another great fleet action less likely.

To catch up on the rest of the series, listen to Part 1, a description of the events, and Part 3, the Japanese perspective.

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