Four years after the Boxer Rebellion Russia remained in China setting the stage for certain conflict. Japan had its eye on an ice free port to carry out its expansions. This was Port Arthur on the west of the City of Dalian to the southern edge of Liaodong Peninsula.
On February 9th 1904 a superior Japanese Fleet inflicted damage on the Russian Far Eastern Fleet and sealed it in the Port.
In answer, the Russians after many delays sent its Baltic Fleet to round the world on a sea odyssey. The ships arrived in the North Sea but as luck would have it its supply vessel Kamtchatka developed engine problems and drifted behind the main Fleet. An alarm signal was sent complaining of an attack by torpedo boats in the dark hours. It was probably assumed as Britain and Japan were firm allies the attack had been planned. The panicky ships of the Baltic Fleet began to fire uncertain of finding a target in the crisscross of searchlights. Unfortunately a shell struck a British fishing vessel and sent it to the bottom.
The Dogger bank is approx 69 miles from the English Northern coast and an important fishing area attended by forty or so fishing boats on that October evening. The Russians were already on edge as the Kamtchatka had previously opened fire on a Swedish vessel thinking it was the enemy. It was said the Captain was under the influence and had sent the messages of being attached by torpedo boats.
As a result of the messages, what appeared to be Japanese torpedo boats loomed in the darkness of Dogger Bank in the way of the Baltic Fleet. Gun fire of heavy and low calibre was immediately directed at the fishing boats.
Within a few minutes, the Crane, a Steam driven trawler received the explosive blows. She floundered and sank to the bottom taking with her the Captain and one of her crew. The Mino, the Moulmein, the Gull, the Snipe, and the Majestic were damaged by the spay of shells inflicting six casualties. Captain Whelpton of the trawler Mino was so shocked by the event he died six months later.
The Russian armoured Cruiser Aurora approached and was fired on by its own ships killing at least one Russian sailor and seriously wounding another.
As the Russian Fleet ploughed south, the Admiral realised an error had taken place and allowed one of the ships to stay behind to render assistance. But no life boats had been left by the departing war ships and Admiral Petrovich Rozhdestvenski was heavily criticised for this lack of humanity.
The British Fleet prepared for action and chased the Russians to Virgo in Spain and blocked them in.
easily mistaken for a fishing vessel!
Internationally this was a disaster that could easily have lead to war, but common sense dictated that an International Commission should unravel the mess. The following year 1905 the verdict was promulgated.
But in the mean time the King sent a telegram to the Mayor of Hull expressing his disgust at the Russians unwarranted action.
The Czar hoped for a quick satisfactory completion of the affair as the war in the East now in full swing.
Inevitably the Russians were held responsible and agreed on reparation and compensation to be paid to those effected by the blunder. This offer was apparently agreed on only after the Mayor of Hull sent a stinging telegram to the Prime Minister.
The heat of the incident reached boiling point and then cooled just as quickly probable due to so many other critical evens around the world.