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Modern History Sourcebook:
Lt. Tadayoshi Sakurai:
The Attack upon Port Arthur, 1905
As soon as we were gathered together the colonel rose and gave us a final word of exhortation,
saying: "This battle is our great chance of serving our country. Tonight we must strike at the
vitals of Port Arthur. Our brave assaulting column must be not simply a forlorn-hope, but a
"sure-death" detachment. I as your father am more grateful than I can express for your gallant
fighting. Do your best, all of you."
Yes, we were all ready for death when leaving Japan. Men going to battle of course cannot
expect to come back alive. But in this particular battle to be ready for death was not enough;
what was required of us was a determination not to fail to die. Indeed, we were "sure-death"
men, and this new appellation gave us a great stimulus. Also a telegram that had come from the
Minister of War in Tokyo, was read by the aide-de-camp, which said, "I pray for your success."
This increased the exaltation of our spirits.
Let me now recount the sublimity and horror of this general assault. I was a mere lieutenant and
everything passed through my mind as in a dream, so my story must be something like picking
out things from the dark. I can't give you any systematic account, but must limit myself to
fragmentary recollections. If this story sounds like a vainglorious account of my own
achievements, it is not because I am conscious of my merit when I have so little to boast of, but
because the things concerning me and near me are what I can tell you with authority. If this
partial account prove a clue from which the whole story of this terrible assault may be inferred,
my work will not have been in vain.
The men of the "sure-death" detachment rose to their part. Fearlessly they stepped forward to
the place of death. They went over Panlung-shan and made their way through the piled-up
bodies of the dead, groups of five or six soldiers reaching the barricaded slope one after
another. I said to the colonel, "Good-bye, then!" With this farewell I started, and my first step
was on the head of a corpse. Our objective points were the Northern Fortress and Wang-tai Hill.
There was a fight with bombs at the enemy's skirmish-trenches. The bombs sent from our side
exploded finely, and the place became at once a conflagration, boards were flung about, sand-
bags burst, heads flew around, legs were torn off. The flames mingled with the smoke, lighted