For ten days we
waited, practically inert; just waited to be attacked. The
diary says: ` 28th January. About 11 a.m. we received the
news that the Japanese were nine miles from the easternmost of
the mainland forts.
Two enemy vessels outside now. Commodore Liu in a very feeble state. He has made himself
actually ill with funk and is now in a state of nervous prostration, and will, of course, be worse than useless in a fight. He
is talking of how he will commit suicide when the end comes;
the whole show centres on his own poor miserable self.'
30th January. This morning at about 9.15 a.m. our forts
began to open fire, but we could not see what it was about.
It was 10 a.m. before we saw the enemy fleet outside the
Eastern Entrance. I presume they are covering the advance
of their troops.
12.30. Can see but little of what is going on.
We are anchored at the West Entrance.... All the forts were
in the hands of the enemy by about 1 p.m. Ting came on
board about 1.30 — I had been on shore to fetch him — and we
weighed and proceeded over to the South side. We grounded
on the bank but just slipped over. The Japanese were making
use of one fort with two guns; several of their shell went close
to but did not hit us. We opened fire on it at about 4000
yards and kept it up for about two hours; one gun was
demolished and the fire of the other silenced, but I doubt if
the latter was destroyed.'
For fourteen days, from the 30th January to the 13th February, we banged away at one another. The enemy squadrons
bombarded our island forts; they were not very venturesome
— quite wisely so. Mostly, I think, they fired shrapnel. The
Japanese just walked into our Southern forts, our soldiers
having walked out some time before, and my diary does not
blame the soldiers but only the generals. The demolition of
the Southern forts by Howie and his party of English gunners
and Chinese was not so bad, considering all their difficulties;
but it was not complete. First one gun, then a second, and
after an interval of a week or so another two got under way,
and pestered the island and our ships with big projectiles.
One crashed through the armoured deck of the Ching Yuen
and sank her; that was in the latter days of the siege. We in
our turn attacked those forts — our own — at comparatively
short range, and generally were able to silence them for a
time; once we made a direct hit on a gun. But the Ting
Yuen drew too much water for close fighting, and the other
vessels were not venturesome.
The weather was bitter cold, 18 degrees of frost (-7.7° Celsius), and this
delayed the Japanese advance. We could see them trudging
round that snow-covered beach, little black specks against the
white; and now and then a speck stopped still, struck by our
shrapnel. They reached the walled city and just walked in;
but they found our Western forts entirely demolished.
Shortly before the Japanese occupied the Western shore a
signal was taken in from a field-gun battery on the heights above
the Western forts. It was from Captain Sah Ping-chen to the
Admiral asking, without comment, for instructions. He had
delayed that message until the very last moment that evacuation
of his post was possible. The other naval battery commanders
did not wait for orders or ask permission; but Sah always
aimed at being quite correct in all he did. Later he became
Commander-in-Chief, and I was much associated with him;
our K.C.M.G. (KCMG; Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George) was conferred on him, and for a time he was
Premier of China.
We were now shut off from the outside world. What next ?
Torpedo boat attacks seemed indicated; but we had our booms
and our gunboat patrols — my special job at night — and we
might stave them off. In the meantime there was that nine-
inch gun at Chaopeitsui fort that harassed us continually and
caused many casualties on the island. Howie and I came to
the conclusion that a landing-party could storm that fort and
destroy the gun. The very boldness of the thing would be its
best promise of success. I put the scheme in detail before the
Admiral and he agreed. But Howie and I were to have no luck;
for this venture also failed. Let my diary tell the story: —
' 4th February 1895. I am sorry to say our scheme has come
to nothing. The arrangement was for Ching Yuen, Ping
Yuen, Kwang Yuen, two torpedo boats, and a hundred volunteers to be under my command — Howie to be in Kwang Ping
and Mellows in charge of landing cutters. At dawn the rest
of the fleet was to get under way and bombard closely the
middle fort. In the meantime my three ships were to get
outside the boom, approach the Chaopeitsui fort and silence
the field-gun batteries in its neighbourhood. On a given signal
Mellows with steam launches and with the hundred men were
to close in, take me and Howie from our ships, then land and
storm the fort, our ships covering us.'
There follows details of arrangements and of their mismanagement on the Flagship — a steam launch broke down,
another boat was found to be defective, and so on. I, now
in Ching Yuen, was tearing my soul out with impatience,
especially as Howie in Kwang Ping, not knowing what was
up, would think that I was causing the delay. In the meantime day had dawned, the enemy fleet appeared in sight and,
to my disgust, I saw the men in the cutters alongside Ting
Yuen disembarking. I signalled to Flag: ' Are we going to
act according to agreement ? ' After some time signal came
back: ` Yes, delay caused by boats.' Eventually at about
7.30 the expedition started, but when we were just off the
boom, the Flagship recalled us, as it thought the enemy fleet
was going to attack. I signalled: ` I am willing and anxious
to proceed according to original plan '; but the answer was
in the negative.
Thus was a nice little enterprise completely spoiled, by
general incompetence, perhaps; but I wondered at the time if
there were not something more than accident about it. For
volunteers, not only seamen but stokers from all the ships gave
in their names; of warrant officers but very few, and those by
personal persuasion. I did not ask for lieutenants, and none
That afternoon two more heavy guns from the South forts
opened fire, and there appears this entry in the diary
` 6 p.m. It had been arranged that another attempt to
storm the fort take place at dawn to-morrow, and I was away
arranging about volunteers from the different ships. When I
got back, however, and heard about those two new guns,
which commanded the only possible landing for the storming
party, Howie and I talked it over and came to the conclusion
that it could not be done. I have proposed that Observatory
Island fort be instructed to try its hand to-morrow and, if that
does not succeed, that Howie and I be each given a ship to
bombard at close quarters.'
But these things were not to be, for that night the Flagship
I did not go on patrol that night because of the arrangements
made for the storming scheme at daybreak. The night was
bright and clear, the moon set at 3.30. At 2 a.m. the enemy
fleet were bombarding the Eastern forts; it was heard in my
dreams. I never got used to imminent danger, when being
smashed up might occur at any second, but I had got quite
used to danger some distance off; so the knowledge that a
torpedo attack was fairly sure to occur one night did not interfere at all with sleep. But now the ` Alert ' sounded, as it had
sounded many times before, and I went on deck. The diary
says: — ` Shortly after the moon had set, alarm rockets had
gone up from the patrol boats near Itau. Presently firing took
place from some of our ships. We ourselves opened fire, but
at what object, if any, I could not see. " Cease Firing " was
sounded to secure visibility, and then I saw a dark object about
half a mile away. Firing began again and I ran up the standard
compass erection to get a better view with my glasses. It was
a torpedo boat coming end on for us on our port beam. When
she was about 300 yards off, she turned hard-a-port; I was
not sure even then that she was not one of our own boats. As
she turned I saw what seemed to be a shell bursting on her,
but which actually was the cloud from her burst main steampipe. A very few seconds after she turned a dull thud and a
quivering shock took place; and within a second or two the
bugler sounded " Close watertight doors," the great majority
of which, however, were already closed.'
Follow details of the evidence of damage — leaking doors, a
bulging bulkhead, the working of the pumps, conclusions as
to the nature of the damage, reference to the absence of a
` And so the sad business went on — the water gradually
flowing from one compartment to the other . . . . As soon as
we had been struck, Ting, who had no idea of how much
damage had been done, gave orders for the ship to proceed to
guard the East Entrance, and she got under way. When I
knew the extent of the flooding, I told the Admiral that the
ship could not float for long, and that he ought to beach her
in such a way that her guns could still be used, and it should
be done at once before she listed any more; and this advice
At daybreak there were to be seen two enemy torpedo boats
drifting in the harbour. One of them had four dead on board,
all by scalding from the burst main steam-pipe; they had
done their job well and paid the price. I took steps to have
the bodies guarded, and later they were buried, and with
honours, I believe. The Admiral in the meantime had transferred his flag to Chen Yuen.
It was high water when we beached, and when the tide
went down the vessel sank some distance in the mud. In the
meantime too she gradually filled, the last fires being extinguished in the afternoon.
That next night on board was a very miserable time. The
fact that all accommodation would be flooded out was realized
too late for steps to get the men ashore, as we had no boats on
board. The temperature was many degrees below freezing
and it was blowing hard. My diary shows that I had been
wet through up to my waist, and had taken off my socks to dry
and lost them; and yet I got through that night without
being damaged. I walked the superstructure, flapping my
arms or alternately huddling up with M'Clure under a tarpaulin
in the after turret. The men, I think, were not so very badly
off; they could cuddle together like a lot of monkeys, but
some were frost-bitten.
About 4 a.m. another torpedo attack took place. Above the
din of gunfire we could hear — and feel — the explosion of
torpedoes, and when daylight broke, a tragic sight appeared.
Capsized, with her bilge showing above the water, was the poor
Lai Yuen, and alongside the jetty the Wei Yuen, a lighter and
a steam launch were sunk.
At dawn our steam pinnace came to us from the shore. I
took that boat to find out what new disaster had happened in
the night. I returned from that sad visit a little after eight,
the hour which marks the beginning of the ceremonial day for
flags and honours and that sort of thing. As we approached
the ship I noticed something strange. That long sweep of
unbulwarked upper deck which bordered the superstructure
was strangely empty. At the gangway should have been —
notwithstanding that the ship was wrecked — the boatswain,
to pipe the side with four side boys in attendance; they were
not there. But on the forepart of that deck, through the
narrow gangway left by the barbette that bulged across it, there
swarmed a crowd of men as bees from the exit of a hive. I
saw that they were armed, but irregularly. I can bring back
the picture now: the crowd moving slowly, as if to let the
swarm gather from that narrow gangway; some slipping
cartridges in their rifles; some with Japanese swords, those
razor-sharp Samurai weapons, and one of these, I saw, felt the
edge with his left-hand thumb; and I sensed the glowering
worked-up anger of that crowd. Plainly it was rank mutiny
and nothing else.
Let me do now what I could not then; let me pause and
consider what it meant. Yet there is little I can tell about it.
When it was over, things moved so fast that there was no time
nor inclination to bother about the why and wherefore; but
this much can be surmised. The Admiral had gone, and the
crew were left on board a wreck with neither explanation nor
means of leaving her, and the resulting misery of that night
formed a very real grievance; then at daylight they found that
I, too, had gone, and so they got worked up. Their swarming
aft just as I returned may have been an accident or not — I
The boat swept round to make the gangway. Already I
think my subconscious mind had taken charge of me. Three
thoughts occurred in quick succession — the imminence of the
danger, blame of myself for having left the ship at such a time,
and the fact that this was peculiarly my job. Afraid ? I must
have been, but I have no recollection of it. Perhaps I had no
time to be afraid; I was excited and, at first, in doubt of what
to do. I took a glance at the boat's crew to see, if possible,
what they were thinking. They apparently took no interest
and there was no change of expression on their enigmatic faces.
We reached the gangway and I boarded. Then a bunch of
officers came from a door in the superstructure. ` The men
have mutinied. They will kill us all, and they will kill you
first; come inside.' Then came decision, not consciously
thought out but in a flash. I walked towards that slow-moving
threatening crowd and scanned the faces of those in front, and
I found what I sought — a petty officer who spoke English.
Mr. Su, tell the men I want to speak to them.' He turned
round and translated what I said. The crowd ceased moving.
Now understand that what I then said to them — the lies I
told — were not a matter of conscious thought. My words just
came to me; and the sentences were translated one by one.
` I know that you have been very badly treated.
If English sailors had been treated the same way, they
would have done the same thing.
I have just been to see the Admiral.
' I have arranged with him that when the light guns have
been landed, you will be sent ashore.'
What further lies I might have told cannot be said, for when
that last sentence had been translated, I heard an ejaculation
hau,' meaning acquiescence, and I knew the show was saved.
In the meantime a bugler boy, from force of habit, was at
my side. I turned to him at once on hearing ` hau ' and said
Return arms '; and the bugle sounded. There was just a
moment's hesitation in the crowd, then they turned and went
I kept the bugler boy and thought carefully how long it
would take to return the rifles to their racks, and allow for
the stowing of those knives and things, but not for talking;
then the bugle sounded ` Fall in,' and I handed over to Li the
telling off of the men for the duty I had named.
Some time later the Admiral came on board and confirmed
the arrangements which I had so irregularly made. 1
1 — This is the story as I wrote it before I read my very meagre diary.
There I now find that M'Clure was in the boat with me, and that, when I
boarded, he went to fetch the Admiral.
I had bought a little house some time before, having an eye
on my future with a new Chinese fleet, and early the next
morning from my window I saw the beginning of a curious
scene. To the eastward the enemy fleet was bombarding
Itau fort. Our torpedo flotilla was under way and making
full speed for the West Entrance. Our fleet was also under
way and proceeding in the same direction. It looked as if they
all were leaving port; but that was not the case. It was only
the torpedo boats deserting and the ships trying to prevent
them. They were fired at by our ships, by the soldiers from
the shore, and by six large enemy vessels that happened to be
outside that entrance; and they were all sunk, I believe, except
the two large fast boats which got away, and one which was in
such a hurry to leave the port that it tried to jump the boom
and got stuck on it. I do not name the officers responsible
for this disgraceful act.
M'Clure followed the Admiral to the Chen Yuen, and somehow so did Howie. The island was now being heavily bombarded by four big guns from the Southern forts. It was plain
that the end was coming quickly and there was anticipation
of danger from the soldiers — from mutiny and running riot.
It would be safer on the flagship, but I had no desire to be there.
For one thing, there was Kirk and Howard on the island; for
another I foresaw that poor Ting would now become the centre
of pressure about capitulation. It was my wish that all our
ships should be destroyed — all in a bunch, so that their wrecks
would least embarrass the future of the port — and that we
should then capitulate. But it would be useless for me — with
my lack of Chinese — to compete with the crowd surrounding '
Ting. Nor did I wish to be present at his suicide — the
inevitable conclusion. That fine old man had already been
degraded by Imperial Decree — stripped of his rank and
honours. He had wished so much to be killed in action;
when we bombarded forts he stood exposed, praying for
relief — and now this miserable end.
Kirk and I arranged that I should join him at the hospital,
the whole staff of which had left when the siege began. A
certain amount of volunteer assistance was given by men who
thought they were safer there; but during the seven days I
worked with Kirk, there were only the pair of us and my
servant with occasional temporary help from stretcher-bearers.
When, towards the end of that week, the bombardment was
at its height, we were amputating all day long. We had no
anaesthetics. Kirk taught me how to pick up arteries and
place a pad; he did the cutting and the sawing and I did the
rest. The pile of limbs as I stacked them — for the ground was
frozen hard — grew in height. Ashamed of that ghastly heap
when we capitulated, I gathered all the bandages, doused them
with a tin of kerosene, and so cremated it.
I had joined Kirk the day after the desertion of the Ting
Yuen. At eight o'clock that night commenced a great muddle
of mutinous conditions, which I never disentangled. It looked
like the very end, but yet the thing blew over. The diary
` At 7 p.m. we heard that the sailors had mutinied and come
on shore; about 8 p.m. that the soldiers had mutinied and
gone on board the ships.'
' 8th February. An anxious night came to an end at last.
The mutiny of the soldiers was a serious affair. They disabled
their guns (afterwards I found this was not the case) and said
they would fight no more. They crowded down the jetty,
took charge of boats, and some boarded the Chen Yuen,
demanding that they be taken away. That the soldiers' threat
to fight no more was real, we all believed; that in those
circumstances the Japanese would storm the place to-morrow,
was considered a dead certainty . . . but they would not yield
themselves; they would resist the Japanese on landing and
another Port Arthur slaughter would take place. The idea
of Japanese giving quarter is not regarded as possible by
the Chinese; even the officers seem to have grave doubts
It was in these circumstances that Kirk, Schnell — a gunnery
expert attached to the Chinese army — and I consulted with
the two Taotais — the civil officials — on the island, and as a
result at 2 a.m. Schnell and I went off to see the Admiral to
explain the situation to him, to advise that we fight as long as
possible, but that, if the soldiers would not fight, capitulation
was the proper step. I did not like the job, and what Schnell
— fluent in Chinese — said I did not know. There was as usual
no privacy in that talk with Ting. Servants brought tea and
stayed deliberately to hear; the skylight was fringed with the
heads of sailors, but from my standpoint it did not matter; the
views I had authorized Schnell to express were such as were
desirable for all to hear.
Ting declared at first that capitulation was impossible; but
later he said he could arrange it by committing suicide, and
so save the lives of many. Schnell's part in this interview was
later strongly criticized; I might have been included — however
unfairly — but I do not think I was.
All that night the chaos on shore continued, the soldiers
roaming about firing their rifles in the air and their big guns at
random. But the next morning — quite inexplicably to me —
the turmoil ceased. Sentries were no longer at their posts;
officers were discarded from the forts and camps, but otherwise
everything went on as usual and the guns were gaily banging
away. It was during this last week that the forts fought most
vigorously, and sustained by far the greatest casualties. What
brought about this sudden and seemingly miraculous change
I never knew; but I sensed their attitude as being: ' We
fought before because we had to; we are fighting now because
we wish to.' It was a Chinese show, and we need not hope
to understand it.
So Kirk worked at the hospital, with me as his amateur
assistant. I have said we had no anaesthetics; but the
operations were effected so soon after the injury, that shock
greatly mitigated pain. But even allowing for this, the men
showed either great endurance or lack of sensitiveness — and
vast vitality. A case was being taken to the mortuary as
having died on the way. His arm was shot from the shoulder,
a curiously neat removal, and he was bled white. I had a
doubt about the case and took it to a ward; we were very busy
at the time and I made no attempt to trim the wound just a
pad and nothing more — and that man recovered.
Liu, the Commodore, had boasted mournfully that he was
bound by Chinese practice — in spite of his Western education
— to commit suicide if he lost his ship; and now his ship was
lost. His officers gave him a day or two to settle his affairs;
then waited on him and expressed the hope that he would give
them due notice, so that they could pay their last respects to
him. In this wise the poor wretch was practically forced to
take the dose of opium, but immediately afterwards sent for
Kirk. This happened several times, but on the last occasion
Kirk had begun an amputation. ` Tyler, can you finish this ? '
`I have no intention of trying to; your first duty is to this man;
go to the Commodore when you have finished, but not before.'
This time Kirk arrived too late, and Liu's troubles were over.
The diary tells of how certain naval officers came to us for
poison and how we slanged them for their cowardice. Two
of these later became Commanders-in-Chief, another the
Minister of the Navy, and with one of them in later years I
was closely associated and I grew to have a great regard
Now comes the story of how I nearly had my head cut off.
It is given as I remember it — as I wrote it before I read my
diary; and it is not the sort of thing one would forget. Yet
one detail is in disagreement with the diary. The record says
we saw the decapitated seamen two days before we had the
affair with the executioners, while I distinctly remember that
the two things happened on the same day. There may, however, have been two sets of killing. Again, my diary makes no
mention of the motives of those executioners; but there is no
significance in that; it is just the sort of thing I was always
leaving out. But in view of those dates it seems well to add
that my memory of the motives stated may be no more than a
memory of a reasonable hypothesis formed at the time.
When I first went to the hospital we were given a guard of
two seamen, but they did not like the job and deserted us.
Schnell thought it was not safe for us to pass Chang's camp on
the way to the hospital; but we had no choice and were not
molested. We went unarmed to show a confidence which I,
for one, did not quite feel. I was inclined to hurry past that
camp with its sheepskin-coated soldiers as, when a boy, I had
hurried past a gypsy's encampment in the dark. On the 12th
February we paid a visit to the settlement. By that date many
things had happened not yet told. Ting was dead; capitulation
was in train; there was a recrudescence of unrest among the
soldiers and the sailors, and recriminations between the two.
Before we reached the camp our path turned sharply, and in
that turning lay the beheaded bodies of four seamen from the
fleet. We wondered what it meant and passed on; we discussed it very little and were rather silent on that walk. At
the camp there was an unusual number of soldiers about. We
did not notice any difference from their ordinary attitude;
yet I felt a special wish to hurry, as I thought of those cut-off
heads. Let me make an explanation now of what they really
meant; it will make what happened to us later more easy to
understand. It seems that the previous night the soldiers had
found on the hill-top two naval signalmen flashing signals to
the enemy. They dragged them to the camp and there cut
off their heads. We can imagine the hubbub that resulted
and the frenzied speeches. Capitulation ! Port Arthur again
and promiscuous slaughter ! Better die fighting than be killed
like pigs ! There were no officers; it is likely that the two
executioners of the camp, fresh from the killing, stood out as
leaders; and that, encircled by their comrades, they danced
that dance which a few years later in the Boxer time we became
familiar with — a mad dance to work up rage and courage;
weird fantastic steps and posturing, and the slashing of their
bloody swords in mimic slaughter. Then their judgment:
' We'll kill the first six naval men we meet.' A pause, and
then bombastically, ` and whether they be foreigners or not.'
Now they had killed those four; we passed the camp, and
nothing happened. Again let us imagine the explanation.
With their frenzy ended, and sated with their recent killing,
they thought, when they saw us coming, of what we had done
for them, and what a pity it was that punishment should fall
on us. So they hesitated; but they had passed their word and
to go back on it would mean a loss of face — a very potent thing;
and in the absence of other leaders, there was no one to help
them out of their predicament. Thus it would have to happen
when we returned, but they did not like the job and took to
drink to fortify themselves. The others did not wish us killed,
but it was not their part to interfere, and they would look on
as at a rather tragic entertainment. Kirk and I of course
knew nothing of this at the time.
In due course we returned; and there was the camp. Kirk,
the phlegmatic, noticed nothing. I saw the unusual crowd
on the corner of the ramparts facing our approach and on the
road, as for some spectacle, but refrained from saying anything.
Then two soldiers in their sheepskin robes met us and turned
back with us, one on either side; and they jabbered to us in
their language, which neither of us understood. They hustled
us a bit, not so much threateningly as rudely. ` Keep smiling,
Kirk. I don't like the look of this.' Kirk replied, ' Oh, that's
all right, they're only drunk.' So far it was just a disagreeable
experience; I did not associate it with the crowd nor with the
bodies we had seen. A moment later my man dropped
behind, and I looked over my shoulder to see what he was
doing. His head was down, one hand held open the left side
of his robe, the other was drawing a sword from its hiding
place. It was one that could not be mistaken; it did not taper
to a point; it expanded to a wide and heavy end; it was the
sword designed for cutting heads: the men were executioners.
Then across my mind there flashed the truth. The bodies,
the expectant crowd, the drunken executioners, half-hearted
for their job and looking for some incentive from us; a resentful push would have met the case: but now the man who had
dropped behind meant business.
These seconds — not minutes, as I believed until correction
came — were full of lightning thoughts, and left on my mind a
picture of the scene that was indelible for years. In front,
the camp; behind, that executioner; on the left, the rough
steep hillside scored with small ravines; and on the right,
ravines again, and then the sea fringed with frozen slush. To
fight, impossible; to flee, impossible; and inspiration would
not come. Kirk in ignorance of what was doing worked off a
Chinese jocular remark he knew on the other man. To warn
him would but have only precipitated matters. That cold
creep up the back began when I saw that sword; it stayed and
crept up to my hair roots; I was conscious of my scalp as every
moment I expected a swipe across the neck. I prayed for the
miracle that alone could save us, and which I thought any
action on my part would make impossible.
And the miracle occurred. From a sunken path, leading up
from the sea, appeared the discarded Colonel of the Fort in
uniform. I saw Kirk's man skedaddle up the hill, then looking
round I found that my friend had also run. The Colonel's
influence on them, although he had been discarded; the
excuse, perhaps, to save their face while giving up a job which
they disliked; the sudden change from tragedy to farce — as
in the Ting Yuen's mutiny — was typically Chinese.
Now comes a curious feature in this story — as a story. Kirk
had had no idea that anything had happened except a hustling
by a drunken soldier. The Colonel accompanied us past the
camp, and it was only when he left that I told Kirk what I had
seen. For him to believe, on the evidence of my story of that
sword, that within the last few minutes he had nearly had his
head cut off, was too much for the imagination of my phlegmatic friend. He suggested that my nerves were still affected
by the Yalu battle.
Something happened later which has a bearing on the tale.
Three years passed by before I re-entered Weihaiwei en route to
another port. The scene — the island, the coast, the heights —
was full of reminiscences; and the Ting Yuen's conning-tower
was still awash; but above all the memory of that roadway
past the camp. No vague recollection here, but a sharp-cut
picture like a small-stop photograph — the silhouette of the hills
against the sky, the individual gullies on right and left, a rock
there, a shrub there, and the shape of each. Was this mental
picture of such detail a true one, or had imagination played a
part in forming it ? We were anchoring for an hour, so I
landed and once more walked that path. My mental picture
was correct in every detail; and yet there was something very
strange. What was it ? It was the scale. My memory hid
played a curious prank on me. It had not doubled distances
or trebled them; it had increased them about tenfold. So
my memory of that period of great suspense, which I had
thought of as a minute or two, could not have been more
than about ten seconds; evidence enough of the stress that I
During that week at the hospital I have little record of what
went on. On the 8th the Ching Yuen was sunk by a nine-inch
shell which struck her at the waterline and penetrated the
armoured deck. Bombardment went on more or less continually in day-time and sometimes at night. There were no
more torpedo attacks — at all events no effective ones; evidently
they had not liked the loss of their two boats expended in
sinking the Ting Yuen.
But now the end was really coming. In the early hours of
the 12th Admiral Ting committed suicide. I have no direct
evidence of what happened then — only impressions of what
I gathered from rumour and Schnell's story, which was later
It seems that when Ting died, M'Clure and Howie and
some Chinese officers came on shore to Taotai Niu's house
and there found Schnell. Howie took the lead and drafted a
capitulation in the name of Admiral Ting. It was translated
and sealed with Ting's seal. According to Schnell it read:-
' Admiral Ting to Admiral Ito. To prevent unnecessary
bloodshed I beg to surrender my fleet and harbour to Your
Excellency, and ask in return free evacuation for foreign and
Chinese officers and men.'
The Chen Tung, with white flag
flying, took the letter to the Japanese.
I accept that story of Schnell because of its seeming probability. Yet my diary contains evidence that is apparently,
but not necessarily, contradictory, for Howie may not have
wished to tell me the actual details
I had a yarn with Howie (i.e. after the letter had been sent).
He is against capitulation of any sort and wants the soldiers
and sailors to fight their way to Chefoo after destroying the
fleet. This is no doubt an excellent plan in theory, but quite
impossible in practice. Schnell says Howie has had a great
deal too much to say about what ought to be done . . . . I sent
a chit to M'Clure saying I would like to see him. He came
to Kirk's house and we had a yarn. I asked him whether I
could be of any use to him in this crisis. He said I should be
of most use where I was, with Kirk. He therefore does not
want my advice or help and, of course, there is nothing for
me to do in the matter. I asked him what terms had been
proposed. He told me that the Chinese offered to give up
ships and island intact, if the Japanese would allow our troops
and sailors to march to Chefoo. It seems to me that this is an
absurd proposition. We ought to have destroyed the fleet ... .
I am very distressed about poor old Ting. I look upon his
suicide not as a cowardly way out of his difficulties, but as a
sacrifice of his life for the purpose of saving the lives of others.
He was a really brave man and, in this respect, miles above any
other Chinese here.'