You can now get to the islands of the Moonsund archipelago through any of the Baltic republics, since there are no borders between them and a visa to any of the three states allows you to safely travel throughout the Baltic. There is a ferry service in the small village of Virtsu on the Estonian coast. From where once an hour a ferry leaves for the islands. On the island of Muhu, the port of Kaivisto receives travelers with the noise of a port under construction. Kaivisto was once the base of the Baltic destroyers fleetfrom where they went out into dashing raids on enemy convoys. For 18 years, this is the territory of sovereign Estonia, and most of the flow of tourists coming to the islands are tourists from Finland.
On the highway, you can cross the island of Muhu in half an hour, its population is small - about two thousand people. Not a soul around, only occasionally rush towards the car or the red tile roof of an Estonian farm in the greenery of the trees.
Suddenly, the road goes to a wide dam that connects the island of Muhu with the main island of the Moonsund archipelago - Saaremaa. To the capital of the island - the city of Kuressaare - on the highway about seventy kilometers. Peace and tranquility are everywhere, and it is even hard to imagine that in the last century these islands became the scene of fierce battles during the First and Second World Wars. The dramatic events that unfolded in these places are described in Valentine Pikul’s novel Moonzund.
During the First World War, fierce battles were fought between the Russian and German fleets in the Baltic. To the credit of the Russian St. Andrew’s flag over the entire three-year period of 1914-1917, the Kaiser battleships did not succeed in establishing themselves in the Baltic. This became possible thanks to the competent actions of the command of the Russian fleet and the commander of the Baltic fleet, Vice-Admiral Otto Karlovich von Essen. Under his leadership, the defense of the Gulf of Finland and Riga was organized in such a way that the enemy fleet could not enter them until the October Revolution.
A key position in the defense of the Gulf of Riga was the Svorbe peninsula with Cape Zerel, deeply prominent in the Irben Strait, connecting the Gulf of Riga with the Baltic Sea. Getting to Cape Tserel from the capital of the island of Kuressaare is possible by car in forty minutes. The Svorbe Peninsula is about seventy kilometers long, but narrows in places to one kilometer. The closer to Cape Tserel, the more clearly the approach of the sea is felt. And now the last village of Mento was left behind, and at the fork in the road we stop near a strange monument. It has an inscription in Estonian and German: "Soldiers who died at Cape Tserel". Most likely, a tribute to modern political correctness, without mentioning who these soldiers, invaders or defenders. On the cape itself, there is the smell of the sea and seaside grass grasses; there are small pines bent in the direction of the prevailing winds. Through the strait, and here it is about 28 kilometers wide, you can see the coast of Latvia through binoculars. The road goes to the left, and just to the side, among the small hills and craters, are the concrete bases of the four guns of the famous 43 battery. At the path leading to the battery, there is a small sign in Estonian. A brief description of the battery and the name of its commander is Senior Lieutenant Bartenev.
Even the remnants of the battery felt the power that once had these tools. The entire battery position is about a kilometer across the front. Extreme guns, apparently, had no protection and stood in open positions, two central guns had protection from the rear in the form of two-meter-thick belt, which has survived to the present. The building of the Soviet border post was closely attached to the position of the third gun. The building is safe and sound, windows and doors are intact. There is even a border tower. We rise on it, and to our surprise we find that relative order has been preserved on it. The remains of the documentation on the wall with the silhouettes of the ships, a searchlight and even a canvas soldier's coat hanging on a hanger. As if Soviet border guards left here yesterday, not nineteen years ago. From the tower there is a beautiful view of the sea and the lighthouse, which stands on a spit far out in the sea, onto the territory of the battery itself. Only from a height you can see how funnel the surrounding space is. A lot of blood was shed for this piece of land in both 1917 and 1944, as evidenced by the memorial signs installed near the battery and the burial of Wehrmacht soldiers kept by local residents.
So, a few facts. Battery No. 43 was the most powerful at Cape Tselle. The battery was commanded by Senior Lieutenant Bartenev, who became the prototype of the main character of the novel by Valentin Pikul "Moonzund" by Senior Lieutenant Arteniev.
Nikolai Sergeevich Bartenev was born in 1887 year and came from an old noble family. His grandfather, PI Bartenev was a famous Russian historian, Pushkinist, publisher of the magazine "Russian Archive".
N.S. Bartenev graduated from the Naval Cadet Corps, a course of artillery officer classes. From the very beginning of the officer service, the fate of Bartenev was inextricably linked with the Baltic Fleet. In 1912, he was promoted to lieutenant and appointed junior artillery officer for the Rurik armored cruiser. Since the beginning of World War I, in December 1914, he was assigned to the naval fortress of Emperor Peter the Great on the island of Worms. In March, 1915, he becomes the commander of the battery number 33 on the Werder Peninsula and participates in repelling the attacks of the Kaiser fleet on the coast of modern Latvia. Here Bartenev received his first military award - the Order of St. Stanislav III degree. Then in July 1916, he was appointed second artillery officer to the battleship Slava, a ship that made an invaluable contribution to the defense of the Baltic coast during the First World War. On this ship, Bartenev had the opportunity to participate in many operations to support the ground forces and protect the sea approaches to Petrograd, Riga and Revel. Orders of St. Anne III degree and St. Stanislav II degree with swords and bows have become a worthy appreciation of the courage and combat skills of a naval artillery officer.
Meanwhile, the situation on the fronts began to take shape not in favor of Russia. The internal political situation in the country has significantly deteriorated. The February Revolution broke out, the emperor abdicated the throne. A wave of bloody reprisals with fleet officers swept across the Baltic Fleet. Most of the victims were in the main fleet bases - in Kronstadt and Helsingfors, where the influence of various extremist political organizations was particularly strong.
At this turbulent time, Senior Lieutenant Bartenev was appointed Commander of Battery No. 43, located on Cape Tserel, the island of Saaremaa, Möonzund Archipelago. This battery was built by the outstanding Russian fortifier N.I. Ungern starting in the fall of 1916 of the year and went into operation in April 1917 of the year. N.S. Bartenev was entrusted with the command of the most modern and most powerful for that time defensive artillery complex, consisting of four open positions 305-mm guns and two armored caponiers. To supply the battery, an 4,5-kilometer narrow-gauge railway line was built between it and the Mento pier. Each coastal artillery installation was an impressive structure with a gun barrel with a length of 16 meters and a weight of more than 50 tons. The height of the installation was 6 meters, the total weight - more than 120 tons. Each installation was served by a team of more than 120 people. In this case, only the weight of the projectile was 470 kg. The projectile went up to the supply line with a hand winch, and then the 6 man pushed it into the barrel with a punch. Powder charges weighing 132 kg were also sent by hand. The high-explosive projectile of the 1911 model of the year carried an 60 kg of explosive, had an initial speed of 800 m / s and a range of 28 km. Thus, the whole Irbensky Strait, which was the only passage for ships to the Gulf of Riga, was in the sphere of the battery fire.
In addition, for the defense of the Strait of Irbensa, the Russian fleet for the three years of the war put up around 10.000 mines, and in 1917 in the connection with the capture of the Kurland coast (Baltic coast of modern Latvia) by the Germans, the Russian fleet put up an additional large minefield at Cape Domemesnes (Kolkasrags).
The German fleet repeatedly tried to mine mines in the Irbene Strait, but every attempt to trawling the fairway was reflected by the fire of the Tserel batteries. The Germans understood that without destroying the 43 battery, they could not make a major breakthrough into the Gulf of Riga.
In September 1917, German raids became more frequent on the battery aviation, September 18, as a result of one of them, a powder cellar caught fire, followed by an explosion, which killed 121 people, including several senior officers, and Senior Lieutenant Bartenev was seriously injured.
In October, 1917, taking advantage of the economic and political chaos that began in Russia, the Germans launched Operation Albion, the ultimate goal of which was to capture the Moonsund Archipelago and oust the Russian fleet from the Gulf of Riga.
It should be added that in October 1917, the disruption of discipline in the army and navy, provoked by the criminal actions of the Provisional Government, reached its peak. The fundamental principles that ensured the maintenance of discipline and order in the armed forces were abolished, the orders of officers were declared not enforceable, the commanders were elected and removed from office at meetings and rallies, each commander was assigned a representative of the committee of soldiers' deputies who, often without sufficient experience and military knowledge, intervened in the leadership of the fighting.
Senior Lieutenant Bartenev was in a very difficult position. His battery was not intended for firing at the land front, its guns were sent only towards the sea. The Germans, taking advantage of the massive desertion and lack of military discipline among the troops defending the coast of the Moonsund Islands, landed troops and approached the battery from land, cutting off their escape routes. At the same time, the main forces of the Kaiser fleet launched an offensive from the sea through the Irbensky Strait.
October 14 1917, Senior Lieutenant Bartenev, gave the command to open fire on German battleships that appeared in the reach of the Cereus battery. He was well aware that by holding back the main forces of the German fleet at the entrance to the Gulf of Riga, his battery enabled the Baltic Fleet to carry out the necessary regrouping and organize the evacuation of Russian troops and the population from the islands to the mainland. The first volleys were successful, the German battleships, having received several hits, began to depart, firing at the same time the battery. Two of the four guns were damaged, but the worst thing was that the servants of the guns began to scatter under enemy fire. This is how Nikolai Sergeevich himself describes the battle that he led while on an observation post equipped at the lighthouse: "... Two guns soon went out of order. I was told from the center that the team was running from the guns, which was visible from the lighthouse. First, the servants of the cellars and the pitch hid behind the cellar and ran into the dugouts and further into the forest, then the lower servants fled, that is, the supply finally stopped, ran first from the 2 gun, then from the 1 gun and 3 bus, and Only the 4 gun fired to the end. For me, the flight of the team was unexpected. Since the enemy’s shooting was nasty, our team was shot at by the previous frequent bombardment. The chairman of the battery miner Savkin’s committee (Travkin’s novel), who was a telephonist in my lighthouse, was furious with the team’s behavior and demanded that the fugitives be shot, others were angered and overwhelmed by this. "
But neither the flight of the crew, nor the shelling by the German battleships of the battery could break the courage of the Russian officer and the soldiers and sailors who remained loyal to their military duty. Accurate battery fire forced the German battleships to retreat. Thus, the attempt of the Kaiser fleet to break into the Gulf of Riga was thwarted. Bartenev tried to organize the continuation of the strait defense, for which, ignoring warnings about provocateurs infiltrating the soldier mass, he went to the barracks to the soldiers: "Coming together with the whole situation and the beginning of complete demoralization and systematic provocation ... I said that in any case, I remain at my post, and it is necessary that everyone stay in their places; the same scum who does not want to fight, but wants to surrender, can go where he wants, I will not delay. "
According to Bartenev, when the Germans, who had already captured almost the whole of Ezel, offered Knüpfer the honorable conditions of surrender, he said that he would order the "self-seekers" who would bring parliamentarians to him, and hang the parliamentarians themselves. Tserel batteries held to the end.
The coast of the Svorbe peninsula, according to the descriptions of eyewitnesses, was a continuous yellow-red strip of fire, from which prominences of greenish bursts burst into the sky. In the hot glow of the glow of Tserel, on the water, people could be seen escaping in boats and rafts. On the ships they decided that the 43 battery was already captured by the Germans. It is impossible in this hell, in this chaos, in these almost hopeless conditions, to still hold on and hold on. The Russian battleship "Citizen" received an order to destroy the Tserel batteries, so that they would not get to the enemy. And the guns of the ship had already fired, when the searchlight groped for a human figure that was spread on the board, barely visible in the water. Raised to the deck, he kept shouting: “What are you doing? Shoot them!” It turned out that Tserel's batteries are still alive, the sailors are still shooting, they are still resisting.
Lieutenant Bartenev, under fire from the Kaiser battleships, with the few officers and sailors who remained with him, he mined and blew up guns and ammunition. With the loss of the 43 battery, the Baltic was lost for Russia for many decades. October 17 1917, the German squadron entered the Gulf of Riga. Another two days continued naval battles, killed the battleship "Glory", the ship on which he served N.S. Bartenev. The body of the battleship lay on the bottom, blocking the fairway for the passage of ships in Moonsund Strait.
Bartenev himself, in an attempt to break through from his entourage, fell into German captivity. In captivity, he was interrogated by the commander of the German squadron, Admiral Souchon. During the interrogation, the Germans confirmed that the fire of the guns of the 43 battery caused severe damage on the battleship Kaiser and forced the German squadron to abandon the immediate breakthrough into the Gulf of Riga.
N.S. Bartenev returned from German captivity in September 1918 of the year and was accepted by the Bolsheviks to serve in the naval general staff. The government of Lenin appreciated the feat accomplished by the Baltic sailors in the defense of Moonsund. By actually delaying the German offensive on Petrograd, they enabled the Bolsheviks to seize and retain power in the country.
During the Civil War, N.S. As a military expert, Bartenev fought on the side of the Reds as part of the Severodvinsk river flotilla, received another award and contusion for bravery, which forced him to leave the service in 1922. The injuries sustained by 18 of September 1917 of the year on Tserela during the night bombardment also had their effect.
Until the end of the twenties, N.S. Bartenev worked as a teacher of geography at the Higher School of the Red Army. But the persecution of former officers of the tsarist army began, and Nikolai Sergeevich was forced to leave Moscow. He settled in Pavlovsky Posad, where he worked as an engineer at the plant.
Unlike the hero of the novel by V. Pikul "Moonund" N.S. Bartenev was a family man, he had three sons - Peter, Vladimir and Sergey. When the Great Patriotic War began, Nikolai Sergeevich asked to be sent to the front. But age and injuries did not allow Bartenev to fight. He laid the dearest thing he had on the altar of Victory, all three of his sons died a brave death, defending their homeland. After the war, Nikolai Sergeevich lived in Moscow and died in 1963, at the age of 76.
Unfortunately, in modern Estonia, war is gaining more and more power with monuments to our Russian soldiers who have laid down their heads on this land. It’s not scary to fight long dead or dead, they cannot answer and stand up for themselves. This does not require the courage and fearlessness shown by the senior lieutenant of the Russian fleet Nikolai Sergeevich Bartenev under a hail of German shells in the distant 1917 year. That was the last battle of the Russian imperial fleet ...
Feat on Tserele
- Evgeny Maximov
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