Siege of Tsingtao

Siege of Tsingtao
Part of Asian and Pacific theatre of World War I
Battle of Tsingtao Germans.jpg
German defending forces during the siege
DateBlockade:
27 August 1914 –[1]
Naval Operations:
17 October 1914 – 7 November 1914
Siege:
31 October 1914 – 7 November 1914
LocationTsingtau, Kiautschou Bay concession, China
36°4′N 120°23′E / 36°4′N 120°23′E / 36.067; 120.383
ResultAllied victory
Territorial
changes
Japanese occupation of Tsingtao until 1922
Belligerents
Allied Powers:
 Japan
 United Kingdom
Central Powers:
 German Empire
 Austria-Hungary
Commanders and leaders
Empire of Japan Sadakichi Kato
Empire of Japan Kamio Mitsuomi
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Nathaniel Walter Barnardiston
German Empire Alfred Meyer-Waldeck
Austria-Hungary Richárd Makovicz[1]
Strength
Land:
23,000 Japanese infantry
1,500 British infantry
142 artillery pieces
Sea:
1 seaplane carrier
5 battleships
2 battlecruisers
2 destroyers
Air:
unknown aircraft
Land:
3,650 German infantry
324 Austro-Hungarian crew of the Kaiserin Elisabeth
100 Chinese police[2]
Sea:
1 protected cruiser
1 torpedo boat
4 gunboats
Air:
1 aircraft
Casualties and losses
727 killed[3]
1,335 wounded
1 destroyer sunk
1 protected cruiser sunk
1 battleship damaged
1 aircraft destroyed
199 killed
504 wounded
3,400 captured
1 protected cruiser scuttled
1 torpedo boat scuttled
4 gunboats scuttled

The Siege of Tsingtao, sometimes Siege of Tsingtau, was the attack on the German port of Qingdao, known then as Tsingtao, in China during World War I by Japan and the United Kingdom. The siege took place between 31 October and 7 November 1914 against Imperial Germany. The siege was the first encounter between Japanese and German forces and also the first Anglo-Japanese operation of the war.

Background

Imperial Japanese Army uniform as worn on the expedition to Kiaochow.

Throughout the late 19th century, Imperial Germany joined other European powers in an imperialist scramble for colonial possessions. As with the other world powers, Germany began to interfere in Chinese local affairs. After two German missionaries were killed in the Juye Incident in 1897, China was forced to agree to the Kiautschou Bay concession in Shantung (now Shandong) to Germany in 1898 on a 99-year lease. Germany then began to assert its influence across the rest of the province and built the city and port of Tsingtao, which became the base of the German East Asiatic Squadron of the Kaiserliche Marine (German Navy), which operated in support of the German colonies in the Pacific.

Britain viewed the German presence in China as a threat and leased Weihaiwei, also in Shantung, as a naval port and coaling station. Russia leased its own station at Port Arthur (now Lüshunkou) and France at Kwang-Chou-Wan. Britain also began to forge close ties with Japan, whose developments in the late 19th century mirrored that of the European imperialist powers as Japan acquired colonial footholds on the Asian mainland. Japanese and British diplomatic relations became closer and an Anglo-Japanese alliance was signed on 30 January 1902. Japan saw the alliance as a necessary deterrent to its main rival, Russia. Japan demonstrated its potential by its victory in the 1904–1905 Russo-Japanese War, and the alliance continued into World War I.

When the war in Europe began in August 1914, Britain promptly requested Japanese assistance. On 15 August, Japan issued an ultimatum, stating that Germany must withdraw her warships from Chinese and Japanese waters and transfer control of its port of Tsingtao to Japan. The next day, Major-General Mitsuomi Kamio, General Officer Commanding (GOC), 18th Infantry Division, was ordered to prepare to take Tsingtao by force. The ultimatum expired on 23 August, and Japan declared war on Germany.

At the beginning of hostilities, the ships of the East Asia Squadron under Vice Admiral Maximilian von Spee were dispersed at various Pacific colonies on routine missions. Spee's ships rendezvoused in the Northern Mariana Islands for coaling. SMS Emden then headed for the Indian Ocean, while the rest of the squadron made their way to the west coast of South America. The squadron engaged and destroyed a Royal Navy squadron at the Battle of Coronel, before being destroyed at the Battle of the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic.

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