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The Siege of Tsingtau (Paperback)

The German-Japanese War 1914

Military WWI > By Year > 1914

By Charles Stephenson
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 256
Illustrations: 40 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781399074834
Published: 27th July 2022
Last Released: 15th December 2023



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The German-Japanese War was a key, yet often neglected, episode in the opening phase of the First World War. It had profound implications for the future, particularly in respect of Japans acquisition of Germany's Micronesian islands. Japan's naval perimeter was extended and threatened the United States naval strategy of projecting force westward. The campaign to relieve Germany of Tsingtau, the port and naval base in China, and its hinterland posed a grave threat to Chinese independence. The course of the Second World War in China and the Pacific cannot be explained without reference to these events.

Charles Stephenson's account makes fascinating reading. The siege of Tsingtau by the Japanese, with token British participation, forms the core of his story. He draws on Japanese and German primary sources to describe the defences, the landings, the course of the siege, and eventual German surrender. His study will be absorbing reading for anyone interested in the campaigns of the First World War outside of Europe, in German colonial expansion and the rise to power of Japan.

This is an excellent book about largely forgotten theaters of operations; both its wider context and the account of a set-piece siege characterised by the use of weapons and tactics which would become all too familiar in the larger conflict beginning to play out in Flanders and beyond.

Western Front Association Bulletin - reviewed by Phil Curme

This is a really interesting book about an episode in WW1 that is little understood. It also had long term consequences, which the author explores in the final chapter. Consequences that were only resolved, with great bloodshed, in WW2.

Read the full review here

Balkan Wargamer

Overall the volume delivers a much needed, interesting and often highly detailed overview of operations in the Pacific and the siege of Tsingtau. The volume excels especially in its detailed narrative of naval and land operations in the Pacific and in China. The geopolitical background provides a most useful introduction to the history of the region.

International Journal of Maritime History, August 2018 - reviewed by Sandra Barkhof, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, UK

The expert or the reader unfamiliar with this topic will learn much from this work. It is recommended.

The Northern Mariner, Winter 2018 – reviewed by Robert L. Shoop Colorado Springs, Colorado

Absorbing reading for anyone interested in the campaigns of the First World War outside of Europe, in German colonial expansion and the rise to power of Japan. Although primarily a military book there is significant naval content including a most interesting collection of photographs.
A good read and recommended.

Marine News

The book was enlightening not least because this is an area of the war seldom if ever covered and for that the author is to be congratulated in focusing our attention on this theatre of war.

An absolute must-read. 10/10

The Great War magazine, November 2017 – reviewed by Mark Marsay

This is one of those WWI campaigns that has received very little coverage by historians. The horror of the Western Front has seized the attention of historians and although it was a very important element of WWI, there were many other very important elements, such as that covered by this excellent book – Highly Recommended.

Read the complete review here.


‘The Siege of Tsingtau’ is a good read which makes one think about the wider implications of a nation adopting a maritime strategy. The events of 1914 in the Asia-Pacific deserve to be better known then they are at present. It would make a good case-study for any naval or military professional wishing to develop their own strategic thinking. A little surprise that is well worth the effort!

Read the complete review here.

Australian Naval Institute, Dr Gregory P. Gilbert

provides the general reader with a worthwhile account of Germany’s dalliance in the region, followed by a little known naval and military campaign in the opening months of the Great War that was to have far reaching consequences well into the 20th Century.

Australian Army Journal, The Canberra Times and Great War Forum

The story of the several infantry attacks is told in considerable detail, culled direct from four volumes that were published by the General Staff of the Japanese Army in 1915 and 1916. A large, absorbing and engaging part of the book concerns itself with the complex and changing political alliances, manoeuvres, deceptions and agreements, all explained with great clarity and, remarkably, providing a very good read. A fair bit of this is concerned with Naval affairs in the area, which played a significant part; also playing a part were the fledgling air corps of both main combatants and we see early - very early - attempts at improvised bomb dropping, reconnaissance and even the dropping of propaganda leaflets.

The book has been very extensively researched and ends with a large section of Notes and a substantial bibliography. The cover of the book gives a clear indication of its contents. A very enjoyable read and highly recommended.

Casemate, 110, September 2017 - reviewed by Charles Blackwood

This book has been extensively researched and ends with a large section of notes and a substantial bibliography. A very enjoyable read and highly recommended.

Guild of Battlefield Guides

Overall this book opened my eyes to scale and scope of WWI and I am grateful to have read it.

Read the complete review here.

A Wargamers Needful things

This excellent book will appeal to anyone who would like to learn more about this largely forgotten theatre of operations – whether
they are interested in the wider context or simply want to read a blow-by-flow account of a set piece siege which was characterised by the use of weapons and tactics which would become all to familiar in the much larger conflict beginning to play out in Flanders and beyond.

Read the complete review here.

Walking the Battlefields, Phil Curme

As featured in.

The Daily Mail 5/5/17

About Charles Stephenson

Charles Stephenson is a native of, and still lives in, north Wales. As an established author of military, naval, and political history his previous works for Pen & Sword encompass: The Siege of Tsingtau: The German-Japanese War 1914 (2017); Stalin’s War on Japan: The Red Army’s Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation 1945 (2021); and The Eastern Fleet and the Indian Ocean, 1942–1944: The Fleet that Had to Hide (2021).

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