My attention was drawn to an article by the authorship of the well-known to us Alexander Timokhin, but on a different resource. And the topic that Timokhin touched on the one hand is very interesting, on the other - it is just as controversial.
Was the Soviet fleet useless in World War II.
In order not to cite Timokhin’s entire article and disassemble it completely, I just briefly go over where I agree, but where I don’t agree ... We’ll talk in detail, especially since I do not agree with all Timokhin’s thoughts. On the basis of, I’ll say right away, my work “The military way of the Soviet naval fleet in the Great Patriotic War. ” Naturally, the Soviet edition.
And I consider it necessary to begin with a historical retreat. A retreat is very necessary, and if Timokhin begins in the 20s of the last century, then I believe that we need to look a lot earlier.
What was the fleet in TOY Russia? It was the focus of education and smart people. This was true not only for officers, although the naval ones lifted their noses in front of the land, but everything was fair. For on the one hand there is an equestrian regiment, and on the other a battleship. There is a difference.
Only artillerymen could compete with the naval, because in the imperial army tanks not at all, but aviation was in its infancy. So the warship was the most complex mechanism.
That is precisely why sailors became an effective force of the revolution, and precisely because of this, the fleet so quickly sprouted the seeds of free-thinking, for there were almost no fools there. And therefore, at first, sailors-agitators were listened to and trusted, well, well, a man from the fleet was at least intelligent and trained in the business.
And although during the First World War the Russian fleet did not particularly shine, did not participate in major battles, but the same German blood was drunk. And even when the fleet of the Russian republic, thoroughly shaken by agitation, took the battle in the Strait of Moonsund, let's say bluntly: the Germans won the victory at great cost.
But it should be noted that as a result of the October Revolution it was the fleet that simply suffered huge losses. A large number of competent officers emigrated abroad, and sailors scattered along the fronts of the Civil War.
And I completely agree with Timokhin that in the twenties the Russian fleet was a sad sight. There were ships, but there were absolutely no personnel capable of making a fleet of ships.
Being familiar with the works of Boris Borisovich Gervais, I will say that Timokhin somewhat exaggerates the significance of Gervais' works in general and the role of the professor in the development of the Soviet fleet strategy in particular. Yes, the works of Gervais were largely fundamental, but there were simply no others!
And yes, Professor Gervais was not subjected to any repression, he didn’t lose his posts, in 1928-1931 he was the head of the Naval Academy, then he became the head of the department at two (Military Political and Military Engineering) academies. The decline in 1931 was caused by a state of health, and not repression, which Gervais proved in 1934, having died at the age of 56 years. Although it is worth noting that in 1930 Boris Borisovich was arrested, but in just 2 weeks it was found out that the allegations were false.
In fact, it is difficult to say how much the fleet could get an impetus in development, but at the turn of the 20s and 30s, unfortunately, the Soviet fleet was in a state of severe crisis, both in building new ships and in training personnel.
Further, our roads, perhaps, diverge. The opponent begins with many assumptions and conjectures, as a result of which they draw a not quite correct and clear picture on the subject “But if ...”
Of course, nowhere without Stalin, a bloody tyrant who began to "restore order" through repression.
Yes, list mess with the commanders of the Navy looks intimidating.
Viktorov, Mikhail Vladimirovich (August 15 - December 30, 1937).
Smirnov, Peter Alexandrovich (December 30, 1937 - June 30, 1938).
Smirnov-Svetlovsky, Peter Ivanovich (acting June 30 - September 8, 1938).
Frinovsky, Mikhail Petrovich (September 8, 1938 - March 20, 1939).
Yes, all four were shot in the years 1938-1940, but here, too, must be watched carefully, because Frinovsky and Smirnov were the organizers and the main executors of the shooting purges in the fleet. For which they deservedly and got theirs in 1940.
Yes, Kuznetsov got a very sad economy, with personnel shortages and complete devastation in shipbuilding and ship repair. But most sadly, no one really knew what to do with this fleet.
Let's look objectively. And do not poke at all the holes of Stalin. The fleet suffered the greatest losses not at the end of the 30s, but much earlier. When the revolution broke out and with a sailor's hands a very large number of naval officers were destroyed. Yes, they were royal officers, white bone and all that. But forgive me, the so-called “krasvenoormory" could only rally well, but with the understanding of how to command the ship, it was sad for them.
Those who were not withdrawn to consumption in 1917-1918, who were lucky, went abroad. Who was not lucky - there were purges in the 20s and in 1932-1933. “White bone” was cut out, I would say, with rapture.
And the main problem is not that there was no one to command the ships wisely, no one to TEACH how to command.
Weeds can only produce weeds. But we will return to this. In the meantime, a few considerations gleaned from Zhukov in "Memoirs and Reflections." Georgy Konstantinovich was a man, to put it mildly, a land man, and in fact did not mention naval affairs. But he can be read in the second volume that Stalin, as it were, was not a dock in the maritime business, but rather the opposite.
I allow myself to quote Timokhin.
“Alas, he (Stalin) tried to“ solve the problem ”by bringing down a new wave of repression on the fleet. If, until 1938, with the cessation of ideological insanity, the fleet would have been able to restore combat efficiency in a few years, then by 1939 there were not enough personnel for this. Experienced commanders, for example, simply had nowhere to take. ”
Figures from official sources (for example, a certificate by E. A. Schadenko sent to the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks in 1940, containing information on the number of people dismissed from the Red Army without the Air Force) that all modern researchers refer to stories army and navy (Ukolov, Ivkin, Meltiukhov, Souvenir, Pechenkin, Cherushev, Lazarev) say that during the years 1937-1939, 28 685 officers were dismissed from the army and navy.
The figure is large, but, unfortunately, the army and the navy are not divided in it, and it is impossible to say anything about how trained the officers were. However, this figure is everything: those dismissed for political reasons, for denunciations, for drunkenness, embezzlement, and so on. And by the way, a lot of officers returned back in 1941. I hope this does not require special confirmation.
Some researchers give the fleet a figure from 3 to 4 thousand dismissed. I do not presume to judge truthfulness, but it seems to be true.
“Until the end of 1940, the military-political leadership had doubts as to who we would still be fighting with: Britain or Germany. On land, military leaders failed to predict the nature of a future war. Even after the German invasion, hardly anyone could predict that almost all fleet bases would be either captured by the enemy during ground attacks or blocked by him. ”
Well, honestly, hands are down. What kind of war with Britain could be discussed if at the famous military headquarters game in December 1940 - January 1941, where Zhukov played for the “Western” and completely defeated the “Eastern” (“clever” Kuznetsov and Pavlov), under the “Western” Did you mean the Third Reich?
“But the loss of the naval bases that were captured by the enemy, in many ways, entailed such an unsuccessful course of the war for the fleet. The army had a reserve territory for the retreat, factories far behind, the ability to lose millions, but still recover and drive the enemy back. The fleet had to "drive back" without recovering. It is in this form that the fleet approached the war. ”
The fleet approached the war in a sad state. There were no naval commanders, no commanders, no one. There was no headquarters capable of planning a more or less decent operation. And this was shown by the war in the early days.
The main problem is that the comrades Soviet admirals were incapable of tactical planning from the word "completely." And there is no particular need to prove anything here; it’s enough to recall the most famous milestones of the initial period of the war.
But let's first think about the role of the fleet. As it is seen, well, from the couch.
1. Fighting enemy fleets.
2. Violation of enemy transport communications.
3. Support for the ground forces.
4. Support for landing operations.
There was no battle with the enemy fleets. Just because there was no one to fight in the Black Sea (three Romanian destroyers and one submarine do not count), the appearance of the Germans in the Baltic was episodic, in the Pacific (thank God) there was no war with the Japanese, and when it started, Japan no longer had a fleet as such.
Only the Northern Fleet remains, where yes, once there was a battle between Soviet and German destroyers. Plus the sinking of the German Mist and Alexander Sibiryakov by the German ships.
All, more, our surface ships did not come into contact with the enemy.
I believe that here our fleets have shown utter impotence.
By the beginning of the war, about a thousand ships of various classes were part of the USSR Navy. Among them - 3 battleships, 8 cruisers, 54 leaders and a destroyer, 287 torpedo boats, 212 submarines. 2,5 thousand aviation units and 260 coastal defense batteries.
Throughout the war, quite calmly, German and Swedish ore carriers carried ore for the Reich along the Baltic and North Seas. And the Baltic Fleet was completely unable to do anything about it. If the formidable force of the DCBF blocked the flow of ore from Sweden to Germany, the war would end in 1943.
But the Baltic Fleet was able only at the beginning of the war, having suffered huge losses, to leave the Baltic to Kronstadt and there to stand under German bombs as targets. Yes, divers tried to do something. And how many of them died at one Porkkala-Udd barrier, I don’t even want to remember now, because this is a tragedy that should be discussed separately.
The Black Sea Fleet was not very different from the Baltic. How many of our soldiers were thrown in the same abandoned Sevastopol, which is now proudly called the "city of glory", but forgive me, how many thousands of soldiers are left there ...
The abandonment of Odessa and Sevastopol cannot be called a shame for the Black Sea Fleet. And this despite the fact that two years later the war turned back, and the situation repeated itself only for the Germans. Only when the Soviet command threw soldiers fighting to the end in Sevastopol, the Germans captured 78 thousand people. And in 1944, the Germans, in turn, left about 61 thousand people to give up.
The figures are approximately equal, but we had the Black Sea Fleet, and the Germans had a Romanian naval division. The Romanian naval division at the beginning of the war had 2 auxiliary cruisers, 4 destroyers, 3 destroyers, 1 submarine, 3 gunboats, 3 torpedo boats, 13 minesweepers and several mine-layers.
The data on the BSF are simply embarrassing. Including because at the time, the so-called "raiding operations" cost the fleet several for the simply lost ships. But we had materials about this in due time.
Support for ground forces. Such, say, an occupation. In our case, shooting at squares. Without any adjustment with the help of aviation, just throwing shells into the distance, as it mostly happened.
In itself, a rather stupid occupation, just a waste of the resource of tools. I won’t say anything on this topic at all, I’ll just say that the offensive operations of the Americans in the Pacific Islands, in conditions of complete superiority in aviation and, accordingly, the possibility of adjustment, using ships, each of which was a head taller than the ancient Russian dreadnought of the tsar’s still built , did not give much results.
The earth can be plowed with shells of large caliber as much as you like, but it has been proven that there is little benefit from this.
Of course, one can say about such a gesture of despair as delivering replenishment to besieged Sevastopol on warships. You can, but I won’t say anything. Gasoline in ballast tanks of submarines, infantry on the decks of cruisers and destroyers ... The Japanese also had the Tokyo Express at the end of the war. About the same success.
Landing forces. So much has been written about them, so much is given honor to the paratrooper heroes, there is nothing special to add. The easiest operation. The ships approached, shot along the shore, landed troops and left.
How many of these landings died, history knows perfectly well.
Of course, we need to get out of the situation and show that not everything was so bad. This is exactly what they did in Soviet times, verbally speaking about some events and completely hushing up others.
Therefore, we were very thoroughly informed about the heroic affairs of submariners and katernikov, but we did not know at all what contribution our battleships, cruisers, leaders and destroyers made to the victory.
I will make a reservation, there are no questions to the destroyers of the Northern Fleet. Worked like a damn.
The remaining ships coped very well with the role of targets for German pilots and worked as floating batteries. No more. Someone was lucky, probably, as the "Red Caucasus", entrusted with the role of transport.
Yes, it can be said for a long time that even there, on land, the fleet provided such great support, diverting the enemy’s forces, threatening and so on.
“And what prevented the Germans from requisitioning dozens of steamboats and barges, and then in 1942 helping their troops in the Caucasus with a series of landings from the sea?” And the fact that they would meet with Soviet cruisers and destroyers. "
This is hard to believe in 1942. And the Germans, calmly chasing our ships with not so large masses of aircraft, without meeting much resistance, knew this very well.
What's the secret?
The secret is the incompetence of Stalin.
Yes, Joseph Vissarionovich was not an omniscient person. And in matters of the sea I didn’t really think. Therefore, he was simply forced to trust his admirals. Verified party, so to speak, comrades. Probably almost trustworthy, but thinking in maritime affairs at about the level of Comrade Stalin.
And some (on the Black Sea) were still cowards. An incompetent coward is generally an explosive mixture.
And when in 1941-1942 the comrade admirals began to destroy large and expensive ships at an accelerated pace (some raiding operations were worth something), then Comrade Stalin did the only thing he could in this situation: he ordered the battleships and cruisers to be driven to distant corners and not to touch.
“Marat” did not help much, but something remained on the Black Sea.
In fact, the losses for the fleet, which did not conduct active hostilities, are simply enormous.
Battleship - 1 irrevocably (out of 3 available).
Heavy cruiser - 1 (raised and rebuilt) out of 1 available.
Light cruisers - 2 irrevocably (out of 8 available).
Leaders of destroyers - 3 irrevocably (out of 6 available).
Destroyers - 29 irrevocably (out of 57 available).
The American and British ships (battleship, cruiser) I did not count, because they did not fight.
I repeat: for a fleet that did not fight, the losses are enormous. And all this thanks to the red admirals, who, in theory, were to repeat the path of the royal land soldiers. But if Zhukov, Rokossovsky, Malinovsky became real commanders, then such an effect did not happen with admirals.
And from here the Tallinn crossing full of tragedy, which cost many people and ships, the Baltic Fleet’s seat in Kronstadt, the complete inability to combat operations on the Black Sea ...
Alexander Timokhin is trying his best to justify the inaction of the naval command, seeking arguments in favor of the usefulness of the fleet, but ...
No, you can talk about how the fleet, with its actions, distracted somewhere some German reserves from the directions of the main attack, inflicted some kind of damage ...
“So the events began on the Black Sea that many modern historians do not see point blank - the continuous and systematic impact of the fleet on the course of hostilities on earth. The continuous delays of the Germans and their allies and their loss of pace. ”
Indeed, with regard to the Black Sea Fleet, I do not see any merit at point blank range. Ships sitting in Poti, Batumi and Sukhumi, incapable of anything. What they “influenced” there, I do not know. The fights were somewhat aloof.
“The fleet with its amphibious assault forces consistently turned out to be the straw that broke the back of the Germans. Yes, he was on auxiliary roles compared to the army, but without this help it is not known how everything would end with the army. ”
Would end the same. There really is no desire to talk about landings, yes, this is the only thing the Black Sea Fleet was capable of (for example, the Baltic Fleet was not fit for it), but how many people died in these landings, how many operations were unsuccessful ...
“The fleet also seriously damaged the communications of the Germans in the Arctic, because their troops were largely supplied with coastal vessels by sea, and not by land, almost completely devoid of roads. The fleet, although with small forces, played an important role in the fact that the blitzkrieg in the Arctic stalled. The straw broke the ridge in the north. "
This is generally some kind of an alternative story has gone. Blitzkrieg in the Arctic, German troops in the Arctic, coastal vessels supplying these troops ... I will not comment on this fantasy. In fact, the Germans very successfully harmed us in the Arctic.
That is what the whole war in the North could not do with German submarines - that was. The fact that they could not do anything with Admiral Scheer was.
The Northern Fleet was very busy in escorting convoys of caravans, this is undoubtedly a huge contribution to the victory. And my opinion is that the smallest Northern Fleet in its composition brought much more benefit than the Baltic Fleet and the Black Sea Fleet combined.
So, by and large, the landing and the escort of the northern convoys - that’s all that the naval fleet of a thousand warships turned out to be capable of.
The conclusions that Timokhin made, oddly enough, but I almost support.
“The Great Patriotic War shows two things. The first is that even in a land war, the role of the fleet is very large. ”
I agree. A fleet, if there is one, if sensible naval commanders are at the helm, is strength. The British, Americans, Japanese have shown it in all its glory. Alas, we had ships, but there were no commanders.
“The second is that for the full realization of the combat potential of even a small fleet, a sane theory of its combat use is needed, a well-built command, careful and thorough preparation for the war. Alas, this was not before the Great Patriotic War, and the fleet did not show what it could. ”
I agree again. That's just preparation was not immediately before the war, but it never was. There was no one to cook, as I said. Hence the overt inability of the naval command precisely to plan and implement plans, which ultimately resulted in complete nonsense - the submission of the fleets to the fronts.
What this led to in Crimea, I think, is not necessary to repeat.
Here is the result. The Soviet Navy during the years of World War II turned out to be a completely useless formation by 90% due to the fact that the fleet did not have normal commanders.
We managed to grow and train individual ship commanders. Managed to prepare a certain number of crews. Top-level commanders - sorry, it didn’t work out. And therefore, a full-fledged fleet did not work out. Alas.
And here is what I would like to say as a result.
Such material as Timokhin wrote, of course, has the right to life. Let him be somewhat ... fantastic. But my opinion is that it’s just not worth wasting time trying to show that not everything is as bad as it seems.
Our fleet was not bad, it was disgusting up there.
Which completely does not humiliate, but on the contrary, even magnifies the exploits of sailors. You should not write about supposedly extremely useful landings in general terms, you need to talk about people who went into battle as part of the landing groups. About the Black Sea submariners, choking on gasoline vapors in their boats, turned into tankers. About the crews of the "sevens" and "novices" looking out for German torpedo bombers in the gray northern sky. About yesterday's fishermen looking for German submarines instead of cod. About the commandors of the Aurora, who did not disgrace the flag of the ship in the last battle.
Yes, in the Great Patriotic War, unfortunately, we did not have a fleet as such. And there were no real naval commanders. But there were people of the fleet, faithful to their work, bold, decisive, proactive. Yes, at lower levels in the hierarchy, but there were! That's what we need to talk about today. To remember.
And the last one. It seems to me that for a person who claims to tell or analyze the events of that war, the use of the reduction of the Second World War is not very beautiful. I would say that it is unworthy of a Russian person.
There was a Great Patriotic War. There are still veterans of World War II. Do not turn the Great Patriotic War into the Second World War. Who wants to - check, I and the Second World War is the only way I write. With a capital letter. It is respecting those who fought at her theaters.
They say our story must be respected. It will even be included in the constitution. Laughter laughs, but let's respect our past without constitutions. Just because it is our past with you. There was a lot of everything in it, but we are simply obliged to respect. And people and events. And do it as honestly and openly as possible.