Japan Declares War on Germany
Japanese Army, 22,980
Lieut. General Kamio
Major General Horiuchi
English Force, 1369
Col. N. W. Barnanlisten
German Garrison, 5,000 Marines
Another nemesis confronted Germany in the Far East, on August 15, 1914, when Japan delivered an ultimatum to Emperor William, demanding the evacuation of the fortressed city of Tsingtau, on the tip end of the Shantung peninsula in China, which Germany had taken from China in 1898 on a "lease" of 99 years.
Japan also demanded the withdrawal of all German warships from Asiatic waters and the restoration to China before September 15, 1914, of the province of Kiau-chau, on the Shantung Peninsula, which Germany had acquired by "concession" in 1897.
Causes of the War
Japan had acted in this matter upon request of Great Britain, with which nation she had signed a treaty of alliance, on August 12, 1905, having for its object the maintenance of peace in Eastern Asia and India, the preservation of the independence and integrity of the Chinese Empire, and the defence of their special interests in the Far East.
But the principal motive which influenced Japan was the desire to retaliate upon Germany for having outraged her sovereignty after the close of the China-Japanese War. Japan, during that war, had captured Port Arthur, but Germany compelled her to relinquish this prize of war to Russia, and then seized the province of Kiau-chau as her share of the spoils.
There followed a scramble among the European nations to seize desirable sections of China. England took possession of Weihau-wei, France acquired control of Kwanchow Bay, Germany held Tsingtao, and Russia regained Port Arthur, while Japan was left out in the cold. These acts of spoilation led up to the Boxer rebellion in China, in 1910, when several missionaries and other Europeans were put to death. It was then that Germany confirmed her seizure of Kiau- chau by compelling China to grant her a "lease" of the province for 99 years.
Japan, therefore, was elated when England, on August 4, 1914, proposed the German fortress city of Tsingtao be seized and all German warships expelled from Asiatic waters. But first Japan stipulated that she should be allowed to hold Tsingtao if she succeeded in expelling the Germans. To this proposal England, and subsequently France, consented by secret treaty.
Japan Declares War
A Time-limit of nine days had been fixed by Japan for Germany's acceptance of her ultimatum, but Germany scornfully ignored the mandate. Accordingly, on the day appointed, August 23, 1914, Japan formally declared war against Germany. There were many Germans living in Japan, but none of these were molested, all being permitted to pursue their regular vocations. In Germany, however, a different policy was adopted. Every Japanese subject in Germany was arrested and all the funds deposited by the Japanese Government in the Deutsche Bank of Berlin were seized. The German Ambassador remained at the Japanese capitol until August 30, 1914.
Bombardment of Tsingtao Forts
On August 25, 1914, the day before the formal Declaration of War, a squadron of twelve Japanese battleships, with a fleet of transports carrying 22,980 soldiers and 142 heavy siege guns, headed for Tsingtao. The fleet was in command of Vice-Admiral Hikonojo Kamimura, while the land forces were commanded by Lieut. General Mitsoumi Kamio, Major General B. Horiuchi and Major General Hanzo Yamanashi.
Tsingtao and its environs formed a large entrenched camp protected by 23 forts of concrete and steel, garrisoned by 5000 German marines. The first line of defence, on the seaside, consisted of five forts connected by trenches and protected by barbed wire entanglements.
The second principal defences were the heights known as Mt. Moltke, Mt. Bismarck, and Mt. Iltis, commanding the plain. The outer line of defence, eight miles long, was along the Litsum River to the sea, at a distance of some ten miles from the city.
The harbor mouth had been sewn with mines, and the shores for twenty miles were guarded by batteries. In the harbor was an Austrian warship, the Kaiserin Elizabeth, and four gunboats. Three airplanes assisted in the defence. The command of the German forces was vested in the Governor-General of Kiau-chau, Admiral Meyer-Wai deck.
Proposals were under way to remove the Austrian warship to a place of safety, but at the last moment Austria elected to assist Germany against Japan, so it was necessary for Japan to declare war against Austria. The plan of the land attack called for a landing at the northern base of the peninsula, from which the troops were to advance inland, cutting the railroad and extending their line across the base of the narrow tongue of land. After cutting off the city from the north, the force was to move toward the forts and commence the siege.
The bombardment of the Tsingtao forts opened on August 26, 1914. On the following day the Japanese marines seized several small islands in Kiau-chau Bay, sweeping the harbor of mines. At the same time a squadron of Japanese airplanes dropped bombs upon the wireless station, the electric power station, the railway terminal, and the boats in the harbor.
One hundred Japanese women divers had previously volunteered to release the mines from their moorings, but their offer was declined, as the Japanese law prohibits the employment of women in warlike operations.
Chinese Protest as Japanese Land Troops
On September 2, 1914, 10,000 Japanese troops were landed at Lungchow, thereby isolating the fortress from the mainland. The Chinese Government at once protested against this invasion of Chinese soil. To this objection the Japanese replied that military necessity justified the act, but that no permanent occupancy was intended. The advance was halted for a fortnight by heavy rains. Then, on September 12, 1914, the railway station at Kiau-chau was occupied.
Six days later the Japanese seized the railway which penetrates the peninsula, and again China protested. This time Japan insisted that the seizure was justifiable, since the railroad was owned by Germany.
The river now being in flood, land operations were still further delayed. Meanwhile, the Japanese airmen had not been idle. Bombs were dropped daily upon the city and the boats in the harbor, causing much damage. Circulars, calling upon the defenders to surrender, were also scattered over the town.
First Naval Losses
Meanwhile, the battleship Kaiserin Elizabeth had been riddled and sunk by Japanese shell fire; the Japanese cruiser Takachiho had been sunk by a torpedo; a German merchant ship in the harbor had been destroyed by aerial bombs; two Japanese destroyers had been lost in a typhoon, and havoc generally had been caused among the Japanese fleet.
The Siege Begins
An English force of 1369 men, under Lieut. Col. N. W. Barnardisten, commander of the British army in North China, landed on the peninsula September 23, 1914, and joined the Japanese. Three days later, the floods having subsided, the Japanese resumed their advance, pushing the Germans forward for two days to within five miles of the fortress, at a loss of fifteen killed and wounded. At the same time two British warships arrived in the harbor and the fleet began a general bombardment.
On September 30, 1914, the Japanese drove the Germans within their fortifications, completely surrounding Tsingtao, and digging zigzag trenches up to the very face of the German defences, with utter disregard of the storm of shells that fell about them. The German gunners, during eight days, fired 10,000 shells from the forts on the hills without causing any loss of life among the Japanese.
The actual siege was begun on October 15, 1914, but notice having been given, many women and children were permitted to leave the besieged city and pass through the Japanese lines to the rear.
The city of Tsingtao was not in serious straits. There was food on hand sufficient to feed the populace for three months, but the supply of running water ceased by October 20, 1914. When it became evident that the end was drawing near, Admiral Meyer-Waideck commanded that the warships in the harbor be blown up and the munitions in the forts destroyed.
The Final Bombardment and Surrender
Having by this time found the exact range, the Japanese and English gunners began their final bombardment on October 31, 1914, with 142 guns, sending a deluge of shells into the German defences.
Under cover of this terrific fire, the Allied troops drove their saps and zigzag trenches up to the very slopes of the fort, prepared to take the place by storm. For seven days the bombardment continued, the warships uniting with the land batteries. The German defenders replied bravely. The electric light station having been destroyed, the city was in darkness for several nights. The non-combatants during the bombardment had taken refuge in their cellars, where they cared for the wounded.
On the night of November 6, 1914, several companies of infantry and engineers, led by General Yoshimi Yamada, charged across the open ground, seizing the middle fort in the first line of defences. Before dawn, the next day, a grand assault was made, which gave the Japanese and British possession of all but the last line of defences, at a cost of 450 men. An hour later, when 20,000 Japanese were preparing for the final charge, flags of surrender were flown from all the German forts.
The formal capitulation of Tsingtao came at 7.50 p. m., November 7, 1914, the Germans surrendering unconditionally. Three days later, Governor Meyer-Waldeck formally transferred possession to General Kamio and Germany had lost her last stronghold in Asia.
The Allied forces entered the city on November 16, 1914, taking 4043 prisoners, including the governor-general and 201 German officers, together with 100 machine guns, 2500 rifles, 30 field guns, and some ammunition.
The Japanese losses in the campaign were 236 killed and 1282 wounded; the British, 12 killed and 63 wounded; the Germans, 1000 killed or wounded by the explosion of German land mines.
German Pacific Islands Siezed
Germany not only lost her Asiatic colony of Kiau-chau, but her group of island possessions in the Pacific. These included German New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, the Caroline, Pelem Marrana, Solomon and Marshall Islands, and a portion of the Samoan group.
How Japan's Navy Assisted
Japan rendered valuable aid to the Allies during the War. Her battleships patrolled the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and the China Sea. Three groups of German raiders were driven from the Pacific; marines were landed at Singapore to quell riots; a Japanese destroyer squadron was sent to the assistance of the Allies in the Mediterranean, and more important still, Japan supplied Russia with enormous quantities of guns, ammunition, military stores, and Red Cross supplies.