“Sir, a telegram has arrived from the east from general Kuropatkin.”, a servant said as Stalin/Nicholas was reading the newspaper.
“Well done, now be off.”, Stalin/Nicholas said with a small smile.
“Thank you, your Imperial Majesty.”, the servant said and walked away, presumably to take some time off.
Stalin/Nicholas started to read the message from Kuropatkin:
“Japanese forces routed –stop– beachhead established –stop– marching for Taedong River –stop– heavy Japanese resistance –stop– Japanese counter-offensives have failed to outflank our forces –stop– awaiting instructions –stop– awaiting go-ahead order for Operation Polar Bear and Polar Wolf –stop.”
“Excellent.”, Stalin/Nicholas said, “Excellent.” He started to laugh. “Everything is proceeding exactly as I have planned - well not everything, but most of it anyway.”
His second son and fifth child was a haemophiliac unfortunately. He been appropriately named Alexei. Stalin/Nicholas had responded by immediately killing the monk Grigori Rasputin before he could do any damage. ‘Oh well, at least I have a healthy successor.’, he thought.
General Alexei Nikolayevich Kuropatkin yawned as he drank his coffee and looked at a map, displaying troop dispositions. The Tsar had just given the go-ahead order for Operation Polar Bear and Operation Polar Wolf which would be the end of Japan’s presence in Korea. As it was, Japanese resistance was stronger than expected as their supply lines were constantly being harassed by the Russian navy. Russian forces had ploughed their way through the Korean peninsula and were closing in on the Taedong River, thereby avoiding combat in the mountain ranges, instead trying to isolate Japanese troops there by cutting them off.
The plan was now to attack the Japanese pocket around Pyongyang. In the meantime, Russian troops would land at Incheon, cutting the Korean peninsula in two and enabling Russian forces to encircle or outflank the Japanese. This would be the deathblow for the Japanese presence in Korea.
Colonel Viktor Arkov stood at the bow of one of the landing barges which was headed for Incheon as part of Operation Polar Bear. A fog covered the ocean which would enable them to surprise the Japanese defenders for as far as there were any.
“Row faster.”, Viktor whispered, “Be quiet.”
Viktor knew he could have easily gotten a desk job in a safe, cushy office but he wanted to defend his country against the treacherous, vile Japanese which, he had been told, were committing unmentionable atrocities against the Koreans and Russian prisoners of war. As expected, the navy started to fire. They had waited until the landing barges were only minutes away from their landing zones to achieve the maximum effect of surprise. 10, 11 and 12 inch shells slammed into Japanese coastal positions.
“Men, prepare for battle!”, Viktor barked, “It’s time to fight!”
Viktor jumped into the water and led the charge to the beaches. He was surprised to find only sporadic Japanese fire. They usually resisted fanatically and he would normally been greeted with a hail of bullets, grenades and shells right now. He jumped into the Japanese forward trench.
“Banzai!”, a Japanese soldier suddenly screamed. Viktor turned around and stabbed the Japanese soldier with his bayonet and the little yellow man fell to the 6 foot 2 inch Viktor.
“What is curious, sir?”, one of the men asked.
“They know they can’t win, but still they fight on.”, Viktor continued.
“I noticed sir.”, the soldier replied, “I don’t know whether to find it frightening or laughable.”
“I’m just happy that there are so many more of us than there are of them.”, Viktor replied.
Viktor marched on and barked further orders as his men occupied the trench. He looked forward and saw how thousands of Russians took care of the sporadic resistance and was proud of his country.
Corporal Mōri Kentarō watched as Japanese soldiers boarded freighters and troop transports headed for Japan and prayed the Russian navy wouldn’t show up. In the distance he heard the rumble of artillery guns as the Russians besieged the port in an attempt to disrupt the evacuation. Japanese batteries provided counter battery fire and machine guns rattled. Japanese soldiers were outnumbered as the Russians used sheer numbers to win.
Undoubtedly a massacre was going on as the units on the front honourably resisted the Russian aggressors until the last man standing to enable others to return to Japan. Mōri wished he was out there to help. He wished he could make himself useful and his mind went out to those fighting and dying as boarded the troop transport.
He stood on the railing and watched as smoke columns rose from the city. Busan was burning and Korea was lost. An alarm started blaring and Mōri watched horrified as a Russian cruiser squadron attacked the troop transports. His ship was hit several times and he jumped overboard. He would later wash up on shore and he would wish he had stayed on board the sinking ship where thousands of others had died - the quick way out. A Siberian labour camp would be all he would know from now on.
Prime Minister Katsura Tarō had not had a good day; in fact, he had not had a good day since the start of the war. He and his government had gambled that a quick defeat would bring the Russians to the negotiating table. Military intelligence however had wilfully ignored the Russian troop build-up in Manchuria. Korea was gone and Tarō had just gotten off the phone with his best diplomat and negotiator and several military officers.
The military situation was hopeless and Tarō would soon request the Russian ambassador for an armistice. Over the years intelligence reports regarding Russia’s growing strength had flooded in as the results of the Five Year Plan had been published. Coal, steel and weapons production had been increased. At the start of the war the opposition had already exclaimed that Japan could not defeat the Russian giant.
He called in a servant to have him send a telegram to St Petersburg. Japan wanted the war to end.
→ Forward to Chapter 7.