Just before midnight on 8th February 1904, at the command of the Combined Fleet commander, Vice-Admiral Heihachiro Togo, 10 Japanese destroyers attacked Russian warships stationed in Port Arthur, Manchuria. The surprise night attack lasted only a few minutes with the Russians too unprepared to return fire. Conflict continued into the next day with a follow-up attack by the Japanese. The battle itself marked the beginning of the Russo-Japanese War which ultimately concluded with a Japanese victory in September 1905.

In the below photograph of a contemporary print, a Russian battleship can be seen in the foreground exploding under bombardment from Japanese destroyers. A line of Japanese destroyers, positioned on the right, fire on a line of Russian ships on the left, in the surprise attack at the Battle of Port Arthur. 

To read more about the battle and the Russo-Japanese War more generally, why not explore Osprey's coverage of the topic? Alexei Ivanov and Philip Jowett's The Russo-Japanese War 1904-05 in our Men-at-Arms series examines the armies involved in the conflict; their uniforms and equipment, and their tactics and techniques in combat. And if you're looking for a full overview of the war, take a look at Geoffrey's Jukes The Russo-Japanese War 1904-1905 in our Essential Histories series. Jukes explains the background and outbreak of the war, then follows the course of the fighting at Yalu River, Sha-ho, and finally Mukden. Jukes' book is also available in our 'Guide to…' digital only series which strips away the illustrations to offer just that – an easy to read digital guide to the Russo-Japanese War. 

The original image can be found here