Today we're showing three pieces of artwork from our January 2024 series books! Let us know in the comments which books you'd like to see featured in our February 2024 Artwork Reveal!
By Robert Forczyk
Illustrated by Steve Noon
RUSSIAN MACHINE GUNS IN ACTION AT NANSHAN HILL, 26 MAY 1904
Polkovnik Nikolai A. Tretyakov’s 5th East Siberian Rifle Regiment had been fortifying the blocking position at Nanshan Hill since mid-February 1904. Over the course of three months, Tretyakov’s soldiers (with the enforced assistance of Chinese civilians) dug trenches, emplaced barbed-wire obstacles and laid land mines. Tretyakov’s regiment was also provided with 67 artillery pieces and ten Maxim machine guns to augment its defensive firepower. On the night of 25/26 May, General Oku Yasukata’s Second Army began pushing in Tretyakov’s combat outposts, and prepared to mount a full-scale assault with all three infantry divisions the next morning. On paper, the Japanese enjoyed a 12:1 numerical superiority over Tretyakov’s regiment. At 0520hrs on 26 May, Oku’s army began a three-hour artillery preparation from over 200 guns, which was expected to suppress the Russian defences. Around 0830hrs, Prince Fushimi Sadanaru’s 1st Infantry Division deployed to attack the Russian right flank with its 1st and 15th Infantry regiments on line.
Since the Russian artillery had already expended most of its ammunition, the Japanese infantry initially suffered few casualties as they advanced on-line towards the Russian hilltop positions. However, Japanese troops had never encountered barbed-wire obstacles before and their artillery preparation had failed to suppress the Russian defences. Lacking wire cutters or clear direction on how to get through the obstacle, the Japanese advance hesitated, about 300 yards from the Russian trenches, but fully inside the engagement area of the Russian Maxim machine-gun battery defending Tretyakov’s right flank. Here, the Russian Maxim battery, supported by riflemen from the 3rd Company in the forward trenches, is engaging Japanese infantry from the 15th Infantry Regiment. The Japanese troops are hung up on the barbed wire and taking heavy casualties. Russian land mines are detonating, further disrupting the attackers. Despite the efforts of Japanese officers, many of their infantry are seeking cover or falling back in confusion.
Over the course of the next seven hours, Prince Fushimi’s division would mount further assaults, but each was repulsed in turn. By late afternoon, the Japanese 1st Infantry Division had suffered 1,359 casualties – roughly 10 per cent of the troops engaged – without ever reaching the Russian trench line. Eventually, the Japanese 4th Infantry Division succeeded in turning Tretyakov’s left flank, which led to a withdrawal. Nevertheless, the Battle at Nanshan was the first time that the IJA encountered a well-prepared defence, based upon machine guns and barbed wire, which demonstrated that an offensive doctrine based on élan was insufficient on the modern battlefield.
Artwork requested by Paul Williams and Alex Fernández.
By Ron Field
Illustrated by Marco Capparoni
Artwork requested by Daniel Figueroa Giraldez.
By Murray Dahm
Illustrated by Giuseppe Rava
The Miracle of the Rain, ad 174
Barbarian view: Confident of victory, the overwhelming numbers of the Quadi have surrounded Marcus’ men. Deprived of drinking water, the Romans have been exhausted by thirst and, although they have held out against several earlier attacks by locking their shields together, they are now at the end of their endurance. Just as the Quadi are advancing for a final assault, a raincloud has opened above the battlefield, soaking the Romans, and they drink the rainwater. Some drink from their helmets, others from their upturned shields. Some soldiers have begun to discard equipment and arms in their desperation and exhaustion. None of this deters the Quadi, who advance confidently to the attack.