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Reilly, Ace of Spies 1904 EP 02 Prelude to War

Like statecraft warcraft is an age old strategm. You snooze; you lose. The Port arthur attack was one of the greatest naval battles in history. The role of intelligence well displayed as the great game. Take careful note of this series since the world still experiences numerous flashpoints as we write. It is so well done it could be a training film. Pay careful attention to the ruthlessness exhibited. The law of the jungle is the supreme law.


Reilly, Ace of Spies is a 1983 television miniseries dramatizing the life of Sidney Reilly, a Russian Jew who became one of the greatest spies ever to work for the British. Among his exploits, in the early 20th century, were the infiltration of the German General Staff in 1917 and a near-overthrow of the Bolsheviks in 1918. His reputation with women was as legendary as his genius for espionage.


The mini series was written by Troy Kennedy Martin, and based on the 1967 book Ace of Spies by Robin Bruce Lockhart, whose father R. H. Bruce Lockhart was one of Reilly's fellow spies. Sam Neill stars as the eponymous character. The theme music is the romance movement from Dmitri Shostakovich’s The Gadfly Suite, though Shostakovitch is not actually credited (Harry Rabinowitz is credited with the music).


2 "Prelude to War" Martin Campbell Troy Kennedy Martin 7 September 1983

1904: Reilly is stationed in Port Arthur and forced to help the Japanese, against his better judgement, in taking the port from the Russians. As a mass evacuation gets under way, Reilly’s plans are put at risk by a soft-spoken detective.

The Battle of Port Arthur of Monday 8 February – Tuesday 9 February 1904 marked the commencement of the Russo-Japanese War. It began with a surprise night attack by a squadron of Japanese destroyers on the neutral Russian fleet anchored at Port Arthur, Manchuria, and continued with an engagement the following morning; further skirmishing off Port Arthur would continue until May 1904. The attack ended inconclusively, though the war resulted in a decisive Japanese victory.


The opening stage of the Russo-Japanese War began with pre-emptive strikes by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the Russian Pacific Fleet based at Port Arthur and at Chemulpo. Admiral Tōgō's initial plan was to swoop down upon Port Arthur with the 1st Division of the Combined Fleet, consisting of the six pre-dreadnought battleships Hatsuse, Shikishima, Asahi, Fuji, and Yashima, led by the flagship Mikasa, and the 2nd Division, consisting of the armored cruisers Iwate, Azuma, Izumo, Yakumo, and Tokiwa. These capital ships and cruisers were accompanied by some 15 destroyers and around 20 smaller torpedo boats. In reserve were the cruisers Kasagi, Chitose, Takasago, and Yoshino. With this large, well-trained and well-armed force, and surprise on his side, Admiral Tōgō hoped to deliver a crushing blow to the Russian fleet soon after the severance of diplomatic relations between the Japanese and Russian governments.

Japanese print displaying the destruction of a Russian ship

On the Russian side, Admiral Stark had the pre-dreadnought battleships Petropavlovsk, Sevastopol, Peresvet, Pobeda, Poltava, Tsesarevich, and Retvizan, supported by the armored cruiser Bayan and the protected cruisers Pallada, Diana, Askold, Novik, and Boyarin, all based within the protection of the fortified naval base of Port Arthur. However, the defenses of Port Arthur were not as strong as they could have been, as few of the shore artillery batteries were operational, funds for improving the defenses had been diverted to nearby Dalny, and most of the officer corps was celebrating at a party being hosted by Admiral Stark on the night of 9 February 1904.

Illustration of the destruction of Russian destroyers by Japanese destroyers at Port Arthur

As Admiral Tōgō had received false information from local spies in and around Port Arthur that the garrisons of the forts guarding the port were on full alert, he was unwilling to risk his precious capital ships to the Russian shore artillery and therefore held back his main battle fleet. Instead, the destroyer force was split into two attack squadrons, one squadron with the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd flotillas to attack Port Arthur, and the other squadron, with the 4th and 5th flotillas, to attack the Russian base at Dalny.

Night attack of 8–9 February 1904

At about 22:30 on Monday 8 February 1904, the Port Arthur attack squadron of 10 destroyers encountered patrolling Russian destroyers. The Russians were under orders not to initiate combat, and turned to report the contact to headquarters. However, as a result of the encounter, two Japanese destroyers collided and fell behind and the remainder became scattered. At circa 00:28 on 9 February, the first four Japanese destroyers approached the port of Port Arthur without being observed, and launched a torpedo attack against the Pallada (which was hit amidship, caught fire, and keeled over) and the Retvizan (which was holed in her bow). The other Japanese destroyers were less successful; many of the torpedoes became caught in the extended torpedo nets[3] which effectively prevented most of the torpedoes from striking the vitals of the Russian battleships.[4] Other destroyers had arrived too late to benefit from surprise, and made their attacks individually rather than in a group. However, they were able to disable the most powerful ship of the Russian fleet, the battleship Tsesarevich. The Japanese destroyer Oboro made the last attack, around 02:00, by which time the Russians were fully awake, and their searchlights and gunfire made accurate and close range torpedo attacks impossible.

A Japanese torpedo boat approaches a Russian torpedo boat. A Japanese sailor attacks with a saber the commander of the enemy ship and then throws him to the sea in a furious impetus (Angelo Agostini, O Malho, 1904).

Despite ideal conditions for a surprise attack, the results were relatively poor. Of the sixteen torpedoes fired, all but three either missed or failed to explode. But luck was against the Russians insofar as two of the three torpedoes hit their best battleships: the Retvizan and the Tsesarevich were put out of action for weeks, as was the protected cruiser Pallada.

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Posted by George Freund on May 8, 2019 at 11:18 AM 77 Views