A Staff Officer’s Scrap-book During the Russo-Japanese War (1905) (1st ed)


A Staff Officer’s Scrap-book During the Russo-Japanese War (1905) (1st ed)


Title: A Staff Officer’s Scrap-book During the Russo-Japanese War

Author: Lt-General Sir Ian Hamilton

Publisher: Edward Arnold

Condition: Hardcover, cloth. In very good condition for its age: some wear and bumps along ends of spine and some foxing of the interior. With illustrations, maps and plans.

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About the author (from wikipedia):

General Sir Ian Standish Monteith Hamilton GCB, GCMG, DSO, TD (16 January 1853 – 12 October 1947) was a senior officer in the British Army.

He spoke English, German, French and Hindi, was considered charming, courtly and kind. He appeared frail, yet was full of energy. He was twice recommended for the Victoria Cross, but on the first occasion was considered too young, and on the second too senior. He was wounded in the wrist in the First Boer War (1881) at the Battle of Majuba, leaving his left hand almost useless. His left leg was shorter than the right, as a result of a serious injury falling from a horse.

Different people came to hold differing opinions of him. Prime Minister H. H. Asquith remarked that he had “too much feather in his brain”, whereas Charles Bean, war correspondent covering the Gallipoli campaign considered he had “a breadth of mind which the army in general does not possess”. He opposed conscription and was considered less ruthless than other successful generals.

In the First Boer War he was present at the battle of Majuba, where he was injured and then taken prisoner. He returned to England to recover, where he was treated as a hero and introduced to Queen Victoria. In 1882 he was made captain and took part in the Nile expedition of 1884–1885, becoming brevet major. In Burma 1886–1887 he became brevet lieutenant colonel. In Bengal from 1890–1893 he became Colonel in 1891 together with a Distinguished Service Order. 1893–1895 part of Chitral Expedition as military secretary to Sir George Stuart White, commander in chief of forces in India. 1895–1898 Deputy Quarter Master General in India. 1897–1898 commanded the third brigade in the Tirah Campaign, where his left arm was injured by a shell.

From 1904 to 1905, Hamilton was the military attaché of the British Indian Army serving with the Japanese army in Manchuria during the Russo-Japanese War. Amongst the several military attachés from Western countries, he was the first to arrive in Japan after the start of the war. He published A Staff Officer’s Scrap-Book during the Russo–Japanese War on his experiences and observations during that conflict.

This military confrontation between a well-known European army and a less-familiar Asian army was the first time that the tactics of entrenched positions for infantry were defended with machine guns and artillery. This was the first twentieth-century war in which the technology of warfare became increasingly important, factors which came to dominate the evolution of warfare during the First World War. Hamilton wrote that cavalry was obsolete in such a conflict, although many cavalry forces were deployed during the War by the British Army. He became a supporter of non-traditional tactics such as night attacks and the use of aircraft.

Hamilton went on to serve as General Officer Commanding Southern Command between 1905 and 1909 and as Adjutant-General to the Forces between 1909 and 1910.


It is difficult to convey to the peaceable citizens of Greater Britain a true picture of that glorious and impressive survival from heroic times, a nation in arms. The difficulty is enhanced by the fact that military history must be always to some extent misleading.

If facts are hurriedly issued, fresh from the mint of battle, they cannot be expected to supply an account which is either well balanced or exhaustive. On the other hand, it is equally certain that, when once the fight has been fairly lost or won, it is the tendency of all ranks to combine and recast the story of their achievement into a shape which shall satisfy the susceptibilities of national and regimental vainglory. It is then already too late for the painstaking historian to set to work. He may record the orders given and the movements which ensued, and he may build up thereon any ingenious theories which occur to him ; but to the hopes and fears which dictated those orders, and to the spirit and method in which those movements were executed, he has for ever lost the clue. On the actual day of battle naked truths may be picked up for the asking ; by the following morning they have already begun to get into their uniforms.

If the impressions here recorded possess any value, it will be because they do faithfully represent the facts as they appeared to the First Japanese Army while the wounded still lay bleeding upon the stricken field. Further than this they do not profess to go.

The time has hardly yet come for a full and critical account by an ex-attache of a war round which so many conflicting national ambitions have revolved. Meanwhile these scraps, snapnshots, by-products, or whatever they may be called, are offered to the public in the hope that they may interest, without hurting the feelings of either of the great armies concerned. if this hope should be realised, I shall be encouraged to advance with Kuroki through conflicts fiercer and bloodier far than any I have here attempted to set down.

My special thanks are due to Captain Vincent for the help he has given me, and for the maps, sketches and photographs with which the volume is illustrated. It is hardly necessary for me here to acknowledge my indebtedness to my kind hosts, or to other British attaches, for this will become patent to the reader as he reads.