At dawn of August 9, 1945, theUSSR,
and with it naturally the Russian Pacific Fleet, entered into a stateof war
with Japan. By outbreak of hostilities, the Fleet’s warships, aviation,
coastal units and marines were in full readiness for upcoming sea, airand
land battles. When the war began, the Pacific Fleet had 2 cruisers,1 battleship,
12 destroyers, 19 coast guards, 10 mine layers, 52 mine sweepers,49 submarine
hunters, 204 torpedo boats, 78 submarines and 1,618 aircraft(including 1,382
combat planes). At the outset of hostilities, the Amurflotilla, a component
of the Pacific Fleet, had 8 monitors, 11 gunboats,52 armored launches, 12
minesweepers and some other warships.
The Soviet Unionentered
the war with Japan in accord with the resolution of the CrimeanConference
of heads of governments of the USSR, the United States and GreatBritain,held
in February 1945. At the Potsdam Conference of heads of statesheld inJuly
1945, the U. S. and British Governments confirmed their interestin Russia’s
entrance into the war with Japan.
In the course ofcombat
operations, the Pacific Fleet (Commander: Admiral I. S. Yumashev)was to sever
Japanese sea communications between Manchuria, North Koreaand Japan, assist
Russian troops of the 1-st Far Eastern Front in theircoastal offensive and
defend in cooperation with the 2-nd Far Eastern Frontthe coastline of the
Soviet Far East. In this case, the defense of TatarStrait coastline was assigned
to the Pacific Fleet’s Northern Pacific Flotilla(Commander: Vice Admiral
V. A. Andreev) and the 16th ground army. The Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskinaval
base (Commander: Captain D.G. Ponomarev) and troops of KamchatkaDefense District
were to defend the Kamchatka coastline. The Amur Flotilla(Commander: Rear-Admiral
N. V. Antonov) was to provide protection for troopsin crossing the Amur and
Ussuri Rivers and to assist Russian troops intheir offensive in the direction
of River Sungari.
Marshal of the SovietUnion
A. M. Vasilevsky led all ground, air and naval operations,and Commander in
Chief of Russia’s Navy coordinated Pacific Fleet activitieswith those
of ground troops.
Soviet armed forces, including
ground troops, aviation and navy, were to conduct combat operations inManchuria,
Korea, Southern Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands, i.e. on a frontextending
to over 6,000 kilometers. By that time, the Japanese had built17 fortified
districts and over 4,500 permanent emplacements along theUSSR border. ByAugust
1945, the Japanese Kwantung Army numbered nearly750,000 officers andmen.
It had 1,155 tanks and self-propelled guns, 1,800warplanes, 30 battleships
and gunboats. From August 10, 1945, troops ofthe 17th (Korean) Front andthe
5th Japanese air army were placed underthe command of the Kwantung Army.The
entire group deployed by the Japanesein Manchuria, Inner Mongolia andKorea
numbered over 1 million officersand men. Soviet forces had 1.7 timesmore
manpower, 4.5 times more tanks,and 2.8 times more warplanes than theJapanese.
On the sea theater, Russiannaval forces, unlike Japan, had no aircraftcarriers
and battleships. Butchances that those vessels would appear in Russianwaters
were improbable,given that Russian air domination was complete.
It was the PacificFleet’s
aviation that opened hostilities by delivering massive blows againstthe Japanese
ports of Yuki, Rashin and Seishin, which served the Japaneseas naval bases
in North Korea. As a result of Soviet air strikes, Japan’ssea communications
were cut already during the first days of the war.
At this point, theauthor
of these lines, being a participant himself in the war with Japan,would like
to emphasize that Soviet air superiority was virtually absolute.In any case,
if individual Japanese planes did take off from their airdromes,Russian fighters
almost instantly shot them down. Superiority of Sovietaviators was ensured
by three basic factors: quantity (the USSR had manymore warplanes; quality
(Soviet fighters, attack planes and bombers possessedmuch higher tactical
and technical characteristics; and, finally, Russianpilots, who had acquired
enormous combat experience in battles with theGerman “Luftwaffe”,
proved to have much higher flying skills.
Soon after the crushingraids
of Soviet aviators on Japanese bases, Pacific Fleet Commander AdmiralI. S.
Yumashev, by agreement with Marshal A. M. Vasilevsky, decided tomake landings
in Yuki, Rashin and Seishin. On the eve of the operation,naval bombers and
attack planes continued to attack those ports. At thesame time, they were
attacked from the sea by torpedo boats led by divisioncommanders CaptainK.
V. Kazachinsky, Captain S. P. Kostritsky and Lieutenant-CaptainM. G. Malik.
The sea and air attacks seriously weakened the defenses ofYuki, Rashin and
Seishin. The Japanese lost as many as twenty transportsand other vessels.
Mikhail Yanko, pilot
of the 37th attack air regiment, distinguished himself in those battles.His
attack plane was set on fire by an enemy shell after he had successfullyattacked
a transport vessel in Rashin. Yanko directed his machine all inflames atone
of the Japanese port constructions and died in action togetherwith hiscomrade-in-arms,
gunner I. M. Babkin.
The purpose of the Seishin
landing operation, achieved during the first days of the war, was to capture
the Japanese naval base there so as to deprive the enemy of the possibility
of using it for transporting reinforcements, equipment, ammunition fromJapan,
and evacuating wounded troops and material values to Japan proper.At that
time, Seishin was fortified district with 4,000 officers and men,protected
from the sea by coastal artillery. The Pacific Fleet’s intentionwas
to make a sudden landing to capture the port’s moorage line and reconnoiter
enemy forces. It was planned to subsequently land the main forces, occupy
the city and hold it till arrival of 25th Soviet army troops advancingalong
The main landingforce
included the 355th Separate Marine Battalion under Major M. Barabolko(1st
echelon), the 13th Marine Brigade under Major-General V. Trushin (2ndechelon)
and the 335th infantry division (3rd echelon). Destroyer “Voikov”,
mine-layer “Argun”, eight coast guards, seven minesweepers, twenty-four
coast guards and torpedo boats, twelve landing vessels and seven transports.
The air protection and landing support group had 188 bombers and 73 fighters,
i.e. almost seven air regiments. Major-General V. P. Trushin was in command
of the entire operation, and Captain A. F Studenichnikov led the landingparty.
After the PacificFleet
airforce had finished bombing enemy defense structures in Seishin,at 7 A.M.
August 13 six torpedo boats led by Lieutenant-Captain Markovskywith a scout
detachment under Senior Lieutenant V. N. Leonov and a companyof submachinegunners
under Senior Lieutenant I. M. Yarotsky from InletNovik (Russky Island) sailed
to Seishin to land in the city on the sameday. As the vanguard of this landing
party advanced along the streets ofSeishin, Japanese resistance became fiercer
and fiercer. The sailors overcameobstacle after obstacle, engaging the enemy
in hand-to-hand fighting tononetheless slowly, but steadily advance. In the
morning of August 14,fighters of the first echelon landed in Seishin, and
on August 15 thoseof the second echelon. There was no need to land the third
echelon, sincethe six thousand sailors who had entered Seishin were sufficient
to capturethe city. On August 16 afternoon, the sailors in cooperation with
unitsof the 393-rd infantry division of the 25th Soviet army had captured
The success of the landing waslargely
possible thanks to the effective support provided by warships andnaval aviation.
Destroyer “Voikov”, minelayer “Argun” and other warships
opened fire against the enemy sixty-five times. The coast guard “Metel”
under Lieutenant-Captain L. N. Baliakin provided fire support to the landing
party to shoot down an enemy plane. Then “Metel’s” artillery
destroyedan enemy armored train, a train carrying combat equipment, put out
of actiona Japanese coastal battery, and destroyed eight enemy concrete fortifications
In the Battle of Seishin, theenemy
lost over 3,000 officers and men and a large quantity of materieland armaments.
The landing party could capture the city and port in justthree days owing
to their mass heroism and martial skills, due to the skilfulleadership of
their commanders at all levels, and due to their excellentcombat equipment.
L. N. Baliakin, V. N. Leonov, I. M. Yarotsky,M. P. Barabolko, V. G.
Moiseenko, M. N. Tsukanova, K. P. Biriulya, andM. I Kochetkov distinguished
themselves in action in the Battle of Seishinand were awarded the title of
Hero of the Soviet Union (V. N. Leonov asecond time). Hundreds of officers,
petty officers and sailors were awardedorders and medals.
After taking Seishin,
Pacific navymen under A. F. Studenchikov liberated two more major enemystrongholds,
the ports of Odetsin (former Etetin) and Wonsan (former Genzan),where 6,238
Japanese officers and men were taken prisoner.
Almost simultaneously with landing operations and fighting
in North Korea, Russian troops liberated Southern Sakhalin from Japaneseforces.
On August 10, 1945, the Northern Pacific Flotilla (Commander Vice-Admiral
V. A. Andreev) was ordered to capture the southern part of Sakhalin Island
in cooperation with troops of the 16th army (Commander Lieutenant-General
L. G. Cheremisov), Second Far East Front, to capture the southern partofSakhalin
Island, occupied by Japan as a result of the Russo-JapaneseWar of1904-1905.
Combat operations beganonAugust
11, 1945 in the direction of Poronaisk. Russian ground troopsadvancedalong
Poronai River. To the right and left of the river valley,there weremountain
ridges all covered with forest. Realizing theimportance ofthe Poronaisk
direction, the Japanese built to the northof Koton (now Pobedino)a powerful
fortified district (FD). It extendedtwelve kilometers along thefront and
was thirty kilometers deep. In thisarea, along the only road thatcrossed
the island from north to south,there were 17 permanent emplacements,31artillery
and 108 machinegun bunkers,28 artillery and 18 mortar positionsand 150 shelters.
The Karafuto JapaneseDivision defended the FD. Togetherwith support units
it numbered up to20,000 officers and men. The Japanesehad 10,000 reservists
ready to resistRussian forces. Severe fighting withheavy losses continued
for over aweek. Only on August 18, did Russian troopssucceed in breaking
the enemy’sdefense. In this case, landings by Pacificnavymen deep behind
enemy frontlineswere of significant help to Soviet groundforces.
On August 16, the coastguard
“Zarnitsa”, four minesweepers, two transports, six gunboats and
nineteentorpedo boats landed in Port Toro (now Shakhtersk) the 365th Separate
MarineBattalion and one battalion of the 113th infantry brigade. The meninstantlyengaged
the enemy in fierce battle and by morning of next day hadcapturedfour populated
areas and the port city of Esutoru (now Uglegorsk).
On August 20, a combinedmarine
battalion and the 113th infantry brigade landed in Port Maoka (nowKholmsk).
They were preceded by a group of scouts, landed secretively bysubmarine Ù-118,
in the Maoka area ro successfully complete their task.However, Japanese resistance
was desperate, and the landing party had tofight particularly fiercely and
valiantly. Enemy fire set one of the coastguards on fire. But Lieutenant-Captain
A. Alexandrov, its commander, despitebeing wounded in the head and arms,and
his subordinates showed examplesof valor and stamina to fulfil theirtask.
By 2 P. M. that day the landingparty had taken the city and port. TheJapanese,
having lost over 300 officersand men dead and 600 taken prisoner,retreated
On August 25, one more party of Pacific
navymen consisting of 1,600 men landed in Otomari (now Korsakov). The Japanese
garrison of 3,400 men laid down their arms with almost no resistance andsurrendered.
The Sungari offensiveoperation
developed no less successfully for the Russian Army. In thatoperation, the
Amur Flotilla assisted the troops of the 2nd Far EasternFront in routingthe
Japanese Kwantung Army. On August 9, 1945, the SovietArmy began its offensive.
Having crossed Rivers Amur and Ussuri with thehelp of the Amur Flotilla,troops
of two Soviet armies and those from aninfantry corps captured tworiver bridgeheads.
At the same time, with supportof monitors, a party waslanded in Fuyuan to
quickly take the city. TheFirst Brigade of river gunboatsfrom the
Amur Flotilla, having swept the fairways, entered theestuary
of River Sungari to support the landed army troops with artilleryfire. On
August 10, Soviet forces captured the Sungari Fortified Districtand the Tuntsiang
defense center. The crew of the monitor “Sun Yatsen”especially
distinguished itself there. When Soviet forces took the Futsingfortifieddistrict,
the monitor acted jointly with a detachment of armoredlaunchesto destroy
with precise artillery fire five permanent emplacements,a munitionsdepot
and six mortar batteries. At the same time, the “SunYatsen”transferred
across the river landing parties to support their landoperationswith its
On August 18 troops of the 15tharmy
captured the Sun’u Fortified District and Sun’u City to take20,000Japanese
officers and men prisoner. On August 19, Soviet ground troopsand Amur Flotilla
sailors captured Sansing. On August 20 in Harbin, alreadyoccupied by Soviet
paratroopers, the 1st and 2nd Amur Flotilla Brigadesacceptedthe capitulation
of Japan’s Sungari Flotilla.
Again, in August 1945,paratroopers
formed from crews of warships and coastal units of the PacificFleet werelanded
in Port Arthur (Liaoshun) and Dairen (Dalian). On August25, seventeenKatalina
seaplanes, which had flown in five hours from Sukhodolairport nearVladivostok
with landing parties of Pacific navymen on board,landed in PortArthur Inlet.
The same day, Japanese garrisons in Port Arthurand Dairen laiddown their
arms, and Russian Pacific navymen solemnly hoistedthe Soviet navalensign
over Port Arthur fortress.
The rout of Japanese forces
in Manchuria and Sakhalin created favorable conditions for liberation from
the enemy of the Kurile Islands. The key Japanese position was on Shumshu
Island, whose defense consisted of permanent emplacements protected byfield
and AA artillery. A garrison of over 8,000 men reinforced by sixtytanks defended
the islands of Shumshu and Paramushir. All the coastal sectionsconvenient
for landings were covered with permanent emplacements and bunkersinterconnected
with underground passages and trenches. All the warehouses,power stations
and hospitals were underground up to 50 m deep. On August18, two coast guards,
the mine layer “Okhotsk”, 4 minesweepers, 17 transportsand 16
special landing vessels with nearly 9,000 sailors, soldiers andofficers on
board, approached Shumshu and Paramushir to start the landingoperation. The
enemy offered fierce resistance. Sanguinary battles tookplace in Shumshuand
Paramushir with varying success till August 23. Bythe end of the day,the
Japanese garrison surrendered. In those battles,Pacific navymen NikolaiVilkov
and Piotr Iljichev performed immortal exploits.On height 171, whichbecame
the epicenter of the fighting in Shumshu,they covered with theirbodies
the gunports of enemy permanent emplacements.The minesweeper “Okhotsk”
fought heroically in those battles to take onthe main blow of enemy batteries.
Its steering gear and central lightingsystem were put out of action, andfifteen
crewmembers were killed. Inthose critical moments, the crew displayedexceptional
courage to eliminateall damages and fulfil its task with honor.
By the end of August,all the
northern Kuriles had been liberated from the enemy, including UrupIsland.
The Northern Pacific Flotilla occupied the rest of the islandsto the south
of Urup. Up to sixty thousand Japanese officers and men weretaken prisoner
in the Kuriles. The landing operation in the Kurileswas the last in
World War Two.
On September 2, 1945 Japan signed
an act of unconditional surrender on board the U.S. battleship Missouriin
Tokyo Bay. World War Two was over, and Russia’s Pacific Fleet had made
a major and unforgettable contribution to the victory in the war.