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2. The Attack

The Japanese had landed on the 20th.

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 offered themselves.

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 was torpedoed.

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 collision mat.

` 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 was followed.

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 never knew.

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 like lambs.

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 says

` 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 about it.'

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 for him.

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 had experienced.

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 published.

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.'