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Coordinates: 54°43′26″N 2°46′08″E / 54.724°N 2.769°E / 54.724; 2.769

Location of the Dogger Bank in the North Sea.

The Dogger Bank incident (also known as Incident of Hull or The Russian Outrage) occurred when the Russian Baltic Fleet mistook some British trawlers at Dogger Bank for an Imperial Japanese Navy force.[1] The Russians attacked on the night of October 21, 1904. Three British sailors died and a number were wounded. One sailor and a priest aboard a Russian cruiser caught in the crossfire were also killed. The incident almost led to war between Britain and Russia,[2] until it was diplomatically defused.

Contents

Incident

The Russian warships involved in the incident were on their way to the Far East, to take part in the Russo-Japanese War. Because of incorrect reports about the presence of Japanese torpedo boats, submarines and minefields in the North Sea, and a general nervousness of the Russian sailors, approximately 30 harmless fishing trawlers were attacked by the Russians, thousands of miles away from the enemy waters.

Accidents and rumors had already dogged the journey of the fleet, and there was general fear of attack amongst the sailors, which their command tried to quell by calling for increased vigilance and issuing an order that "no vessel of any sort must be allowed to get in amongst the fleet". This soon led to a first incident near the Danish coast unrelated to the Dogger Bank disaster, when fishermen bearing consular dispatches for the fleet were fired on, but escaped unharmed.[3]

The disaster of October 21 began in the evening, when the drunken captain of the supply ship Kamtchatka (Камчатка), which was last in the Russian line, took a passing Swedish ship for a Japanese torpedo boat and radioed that he was being attacked. Later in the night the officers on duty sighted the British ships, interpreted their signals incorrectly and classified them as Japanese torpedo boats, and consequently opened fire on the British fishermen. The British trawler Crane was sunk and two British fishermen lost their lives. On the other boats there were six fishermen wounded, one of whom died a few months later. In the general chaos, Russian ships shot at each other: when the protected cruiser Aurora (Aврора), which had yet to be involved, approached, she was taken for a Japanese warship, bombarded and slightly damaged. At least one Russian sailor was killed, another badly wounded. A priest aboard a Russian cruiser caught in the crossfire was also killed. More serious losses on both sides were only avoided by the extremely low quality of Russian naval artillery fire, with one battleship reported to have fired more than 500 shots without hitting anything.[3]

Aftermath

The Aurora, a Russian cruiser attacked by other Russian ships during the incident.

The incident led to a serious diplomatic conflict between Russia and Britain, which was particularly dangerous due to the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. In the aftermath some British newspapers called the Russian fleet 'pirates' and the Russian admiral Zinovi Petrovich Rozhestvenski was heavily criticised for not leaving the British sailors lifeboats. The editorial of the morning's Times was particularly scathing:

"It is almost inconceivable that any men calling themselves seamen, however frightened they might be, could spend twenty minutes bombarding a fleet of fishing boats without discovering the nature of their target."[2]

Royal Navy battleships of the Home Fleet were prepared for war, while British cruiser squadrons shadowed the Russian fleet as it made its way through the Bay of Biscay. Under diplomatic pressure, the Russian government agreed to investigate the incident, and Rozhestvensky was ordered to dock in Vigo, Spain, where he left behind those officers considered responsible (as well as at least one officer who had been critical of him).[3]

The fishermen eventually received £66,000 from Russia as compensation.[4] In 1906 the Fisherman's Memorial was unveiled in Hull in honour of the death of the three British sailors. The approx. 5.4 m high statue shows the killed fisherman George Henry Smith and carries the following inscription:

Erected by public subscription to the memory of George Henry Smith (skipper) and William Richard Legget (third hand), of the steam-trawler CRANE, who lost their lives through the action of the Russian Baltic Fleet in the North Sea, October 22, 1904, and Walter Whelpton, skipper of the trawler MINO, who died through shock, May 1905.

References

  1. ^ The Russian Outrage (Chapter XXII) - Wood Walter, North Sea Fishers And Fighters, K. Paul, Trench, Trübner & co, London, 1911
  2. ^ a b Connaughton, Richard Michael (Digitized by Google Books online). The War of the Rising Sun and Tumbling Bear. New York, USA: Routledge. pp. 247, 250, 259. ISBN 0415071437, 9780415071437. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=igwOAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA259&dq=%22dogger+bank%22+incident+battle+russia&lr=#PPA247,M1. Retrieved 2008-12-01.  
  3. ^ a b c Dogger Bank - Voyage of the Damned ('Hullwebs - History of Hull' website. Retrieved 2007-09-08.)
  4. ^ International Dispute Settlement - Merills, J. G., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University, 1999

Further reading

  • Westwood, John N., Russia against Japan 1904-05. A new look at the Russo-Japanese war, Houndmills 1986.

External links

  • Hull In Print (article on an exhibition for the centenary of the incident)

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Coordinates: 54°43′26″N 2°46′08″E / 54.724°N 2.769°E / 54.724; 2.769

in the North Sea.]]

The Dogger Bank incident (also known as Incident of Hull or The Russian Outrage) occurred when the Russian Baltic Fleet mistook some British trawlers at Dogger Bank for an Imperial Japanese Navy force.[1] The Russians attacked on the night of 21 October 1904. Three British sailors died and a number were wounded. One sailor and a priest aboard a Russian cruiser caught in the crossfire were also killed. The incident almost led to war between Britain and Russia,[2] but it was diplomatically defused.

Contents

Incident

The Russian warships involved in the incident were on their way to the Far East, to take part in the Russo-Japanese War. Because of incorrect reports about the presence of Japanese torpedo boats, submarines and minefields in the North Sea, and the general nervousness of the Russian sailors, approximately 30 harmless fishing trawlers were attacked by the Russians, thousands of miles away from enemy waters.

Accidents and rumors had already dogged the voyage of the fleet, and there was general fear of attack amongst the sailors, which their command tried to quell by calling for increased vigilance and issuing an order that "no vessel of any sort must be allowed to get in amongst the fleet". This soon led to an incident near the Danish coast unrelated to the Dogger Bank disaster, when fishermen bearing consular dispatches for the fleet were fired on, but escaped unharmed.[3]

The disaster of 21 October began in the evening, when the drunken captain of the supply ship Kamtchatka (Камчатка), which was last in the Russian line, took a passing Swedish ship for a Japanese torpedo boat and radioed that he was being attacked. Later in the night the officers on duty sighted the British ships, interpreted their signals incorrectly and classified them as Japanese torpedo boats, and consequently opened fire on the British fishermen. The British trawler Crane was sunk and two British fishermen lost their lives. On the other boats there were six fishermen wounded, one of whom died a few months later. In the general chaos, Russian ships shot at each other: when the protected cruiser Aurora (Aврора), which had yet to be involved, approached, she was taken for a Japanese warship, bombarded and slightly damaged. At least one Russian sailor was killed, another badly wounded. A priest aboard a Russian cruiser caught in the crossfire was also killed. More serious losses on both sides were only avoided by the extremely low quality of Russian naval artillery fire, with one battleship reported to have fired more than 500 shots without hitting anything.[3]

The Russian fleet continued on to the Sea of Japan where they were defeated in the Battle of Tsushima.

Aftermath

, a Russian cruiser attacked by other Russian ships during the incident.]] The incident led to a serious diplomatic conflict between Russia and Britain, which was particularly dangerous due to the Anglo-Japanese Alliance. In the aftermath some British newspapers called the Russian fleet 'pirates' and the Russian admiral Zinovi Petrovich Rozhestvenski was heavily criticised for not leaving the British sailors lifeboats. The editorial of the morning's Times was particularly scathing:

"It is almost inconceivable that any men calling themselves seamen, however frightened they might be, could spend twenty minutes bombarding a fleet of fishing boats without discovering the nature of their target."[2]

Royal Navy battleships of the Home Fleet were prepared for war, while British cruiser squadrons shadowed the Russian fleet as it made its way through the Bay of Biscay. Under diplomatic pressure, the Russian government agreed to investigate the incident, and Rozhestvenski was ordered to dock in Vigo, Spain, where he left behind those officers considered responsible (as well as at least one officer who had been critical of him).[3]

On November 25, 1904, the British and the Russian governments signed a joint agreement in which they agreed to submit the issue to the International Commission of Inquiry at the Hague.[4] The commission completed its report on February 26, 1905, in which it criticized Admiral Rozhestvenski for his decision to fire upon the British ships. However, it concluded that "as each (British) vessel swept the horizon in every direction with her own searchlights to avoid being taken by surprise, it was difficult to prevent confusion". It concluded that "the opening of fire by Admiral Rozhestvenski was not justifiable". It also concluded as follows: "the commissioners take pleasure in recognizing, unanimously, that Admiral Rozhestvenski personally did everything he could, from beginning to end of the incident, to prevent trawlers, recognized as such, from being fired upon by the squadron".[5]

The fishermen eventually received £66,000 from Russia in compensation.[6] In 1906 the Fisherman's Memorial was unveiled in Hull to commemorate the deaths of the three British sailors. The approx. 5.4 m (18 feet) high statue shows the dead fisherman George Henry Smith and carries the following inscription:

Erected by public subscription to the memory of George Henry Smith (skipper) and William Richard Legget (third hand), of the steam-trawler CRANE, who lost their lives through the action of the Russian Baltic Fleet in the North Sea, October 22, 1904, and Walter Whelpton, skipper of the trawler MINO, who died through shock, May 1905.

References

  1. ^ The Russian Outrage (Chapter XXII) - Wood Walter, North Sea Fishers And Fighters, K. Paul, Trench, Trübner & co, London, 1911
  2. ^ a b Connaughton, Richard Michael (Digitized by Google Books online). The War of the Rising Sun and Tumbling Bear. New York, USA: Routledge. pp. 247, 250, 259. ISBN 0415071437, 9780415071437. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=igwOAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA259&dq=%22dogger+bank%22+incident+battle+russia&lr=#PPA247,M1. Retrieved 2008-12-01. 
  3. ^ a b c Dogger Bank - Voyage of the Damned ('Hullwebs - History of Hull' website. Retrieved 2007-09-08.)
  4. ^ Joint British-Russian declaration
  5. ^ Dogger Bank Incident Final Report
  6. ^ International Dispute Settlement - Merills, J. G., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University, 1999

Further reading

  • Westwood, John N., Russia against Japan 1904-05. A new look at the Russo-Japanese war, Houndmills 1986.

External links

  • Hull In Print (article on an exhibition for the centenary of the incident)


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