08 January, 2011

A Soldier Killed Where The Photographer Stood

Siege of Port ArthurA small coincidence I came across while perusing a few old photos I had acquired of the Siege of Port Arthur.

The photo is by James Ricalton who, it seems, was a prolific photographer in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The photo on the top right shows Japanese soldiers at the Siege of Port Arthur (China) during the Russo-Japanese War in 1905.

On the reverse of the photo it tells of how Ricalton took this photo:

"Mr. Ricalton had to creep cautiously through sections of trench where Russian shrapnel was dropping and where bullets came with deadly promptness to investigate any sign of life or movement."

The photo is of Japanese soldiers who had captured a Russian fort.

The coincidence is that exactly where Ricalton had taken this photo, only moments later, "One Japanese soldier was killed having been seen by the enemy's sharpshooters while he was peering out between those sandbags."

If James Ricalton had not taken the photo when he did, and remained where he was, he would surely have been killed instead of the soldier. The photo would then never have been seen.

Also with the photo is a description of the action which had taken place. They described the Japanese soldiers as:

"... a heroic remnant that survived the horrors and stood for hours knee deep in a muddy ditch among the bleeding corpses of their comrades until the moment came for one more desperate charge. There was an inferno of fire and steel bayonets serving when there was no time to load and fire."

It shows the awfulness of war and how brave photographers, such as James Ricalton, must have been. They risked their lives to record history. Below is another photo, in the public domain, from the Siege of Port Arthur. This time it is of Russian troops looking down on the dead bodies of the Japanese soldiers in the trenches.

Siege of Port Arthur
We must never romanticise war.

Further Reading:
The Concentration Camp Romantic Coincidence
Pearl Harbor Attack Shown In Advance In Advertisements
WWI Grandfathers Bugle Found On Market Stall

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7 comments:

  1. Powerful photos. The war machine through history is full of stories both horrible and inspiring. There are slogans in the US here about how military service can make you the best you can be. Patriotism is also enhanced by those who go into service for our country through the military.

    I truly don't see the point of methods of mass destruction when it is humans slaughtering humans. Yet I have to acknowledge that wars have shaped the planet into what it is today.

    You are correct, we should never romanticize war but it touches all our lives in invisible ways, today and through centuries past. So we can not discredit war either.

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  2. I agree, we should never romanticize war.......excellent post.

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  3. As you know from my lens on the subject I abhor violence, of any kind. To think young, mostly men, had to go through such horrfic wars makes me feel physically sick. But as terripatrick indicates above wars do touch on our lives, and perhaps even have to be fought. Very sad.

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  4. Wars are a double edged sword, Terri, sometimes they seem to have to take place. The unfortunate thing is that we don't fully learn our lessons from this.

    I agree with you Suzie violence/war is horrific. Thanks also to Neva and Trish and Rob.

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  5. yes, fascinating synchro -
    you know, it is always so difficult to see images of war and of the humans involved in the atrocities of war - but, then, there is also something which draws me to them - that keeps my eyes focused on them - on the faces of those souls standing there in what may be their last look into the camera or into anything or anyone else - that keeps my mind wondering of their life in those moments those months of isolation and pure physical deprivation and again, the atrocities of war - and wondering of their lives before - and hoping for their lives after -

    peace - jenean

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  6. Jenean: I feel similar to you in that I feel drawn to such photos. I've published several posts about WW1 and WW2 and they seem to come to me, rather than me looking for them. What the soldiers (on all sides)actually went through is almost unimaginable.

    Peace

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