The shattered remains of Russian heroes who were killed near 203 Metre Hill, Port Arthur. Library of Congress /

By Mark McConville

STUNNING images have revealed the war Putin would have you forget after Russia suffered complete defeat to the military might of Japan.


Priest and soldiers praying over bodies of Russian soldiers awaiting burial on a hill, Port Arthur. Library of Congress /

The rare pictures show Russian warships being sunk during the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905 as well Russian soldiers marching past their fallen comrades.

Other shots show Japanese soldiers recovering in a hospital ward, American sailors posing on a ship before the Portsmouth Peace Conference and flag-waving crowds celebrating Japan’s victory.


Nurses and a doctor attending wounded soldiers on a hospital ward. Library of Congress /

The black and white photographs document Russia’s complete and utter loss to Japan during the war. Both sides suffered heavy casualties during the war. Around 47,000 Japanese died in the conflict while Russian losses are estimated at between 34,000-53,000. Russian lost almost all its Pacific and Baltic Fleet during the fighting. Japan’s defeat of Russia was the first major victory in the modern-era of an Asian power over a European one.


Early morning in a Russian battery during the siege of Port Arthur. Library of Congress /

The war was fought over rival imperial ambitions in Manchuria, China and Korea. Russia sought a warm-water port on the Pacific Ocean and leased Port Arthur in Liaodong Province from China.

Crowds lining the street as the procession of carriages carrying Admiral Togo, naval officers, and government officials passes through a triumphial arch during Togo’s official visit, Oct., 1905. Library of Congress /

Japan feared a Russian expansion into their sphere of influence. They offered to recognise Russian dominance in Manchuria in exchange for recognition that Korea was within the Japanese sphere of influence.

Sunken warships, Port Arthur. Library of Congress /

When Russia refused, and demanded Korea north of the 39th parallel to be a neutral buffer zone between the two countries, Japan decided to go to war. They attacked the Russian Eastern Fleet at Port Arthur, China in a surprise attack which began the hostilities.


An American cruiser firing its guns in salute as it arrives in New York, probably at the time of the Portsmouth Peace Conference. Library of Congress /

Despite suffering numerous defeats to Japan, Tsar Nicholas II chose to remain engaged in war in order to avoid a ‘humiliating peace’.


A crowd of Japanese soldiers; Chinese coolies in right foreground, Manchuria. Library of Congress /

The war was eventually concluded with the Treaty of Portsmouth, mediated by US President Theodore Roosevelt. Japan eventually annexed Korea, and had proxy-influence over Manchuria. Russia’s reputation as a Great Power was severely dented by the conflict.