Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition - Images of the Fair
The Variag Story
Battle scene aboard the Variag, Chemulpo (Inchon), Korea, Feb. 9, 1904
The Russian cruiser Variag (also sometimes spelled Varyag in various languages) will always stand as a symbol of Russian bravery and heroic sacrifice. Built in Philadelphia for the Russian Navy, she achieved fame when she battled five Japanese cruisers at the opening of the Russo-Japanese war. When the hopelessness of the battle became apparent, she was scuttled rather than surrender her flag.
Variag afire in Chemulpo, the gunboat Koryets in the background.
Political card by Orens (France) commemorating Captain Roudnief of the Variag
Flyer for the 1946 Russian movie "Cruiser Varyag"
Variag's injured crewman were treated with respect and care by the Japanese, who viewed them as worthy opponents. The crew was repatriated back to Russia, where they were hailed as heroes. A special memorial cemetery was created for the dead, to be treated as a hallowed shrine until it fell into neglect as the communist government tried to distance itself from the Czar's government. A memorial church was also created; likewise neglected under communist rule, today both church and graveyard are open, undergoing maintenance and care, the object of many visitors. The Russian Navy adopted a song about the Variag's bravery that is still its official anthem.
Never forgotten, object of a movie and many published articles, the memory of the Variag remains in many ways and places around the globe. In addition to displays in Japan, Korea, and Russia, a model that her first crew presented to their host cathedral in Philadelphia is still displayed and cared for as an honored relic. A monument was erected in Lendalfoot in 2007. As Russia renewed links with its heritage, a new Russian cruiser was named Variag in honor of the original, postage stamps were issued, television documentaries produced, and today the Variag is as well known world-wide as she was when she took place in the first battle of the Russo-Japanese war.