Dogger Bank Incident

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On the night of the 21st of October 1904 during the Russo-Japanese War, some British trawlers of the Hull fishing fleet were fired upon by vessels of the Russian Baltic fleet under Admiral Rozhdestvensky on its voyage to the Far East, one trawler being sunk, other boats injured, two men killed and six wounded. This incident created an acute crisis in the relations between Russia and England for several days, the Russian version being that they had seen Japanese torpedo-boats, but on the 28th Mr. Balfour, the British Prime Minister, announced that the Tsar had expressed regret and that an international commission would investigate the facts with a view to the punishment of any responsible parties. The terms were settled on 25th November, the commission being composed of five officers (British, Russian, American and French, and one selected by them), to meet in Paris. On the 22nd of December the four original members, Vice-Admiral Sir Lewis Beaumont, Vice-Admiral Kaznakov (afterwards replaced by Vice-admiral Dubassov), Rear-Admiral Davis and Vice-Admiral Fournier, met and chose Admiral Baron von Spaun (Austria-Hungary) as the fifth. Their report was issued on the 25th of February, 1905. While recognizing that the information received as to a possible attack led the Admiral to mistake the trawlers for the enemy, the majority of the commissioners held Rozhdestvensky responsible for the firing and its results, and "being of opinion that there were no torpedo-boats either among the trawlers nor anywhere near" concluded that "the opening of fire was not justifiable," though they absolved him and his squadron from discredit either to their "military qualities" or their "humanity." The affair ended in compensation being paid by the Russian government.