The fleet carried out the most important tasks of disrupting the enemy’s sea lanes, assisting ground forces and protecting our Arctic routes. When, in the very first year of the war, the ocean route of arms supplies under the lend-lease by the allies opened, the military-strategic importance of the Northern Fleet and the theater of military operations in the Polar Region increased even more. In the war years, fleet ships conducted 1548 convoys that included 2951 transport, according to inland naval communications. In the northern ports of Russia and in the opposite direction as part of the 76 allied convoys, more than 1400 British, American and Soviet transports proceeded. The enemy managed to sink all 16 Russian ships. Severomorsk destroyed 413 transports of the enemy with a total tonnage of more than 1 million tons, many warships and auxiliary vessels of the enemy.
Could not understand the strategic importance of the Arctic region and the Nazi command. In 1942, it developed a special operation with the aim of disrupting movement along a strategic ocean route and doing away with vital transportation for the front and the Soviet rear in the Arctic. “Wunderland” (“Wonderland”) - this code name was received by this operation. She was scheduled for August 1942. The month was not chosen by chance: at that time, ice melted by the melting waters of the mighty Siberian rivers almost came off in most of the northern seas.
The plan for Operation Wunderland envisaged that seven submarines, destroyers and aviation. However, their mission was more distracting in nature. The main, striking role in the “Wonderland” was assigned to two battleships - “Admiral Scheer” and “Lyuttsov”. Three of the seven boats were supposed to maintain direct contact with the battleships, conduct ice reconnaissance for them, and draw the forces of the Northern Fleet in the waters at the southern tip of Novaya Zemlya. Four other submarines were ordered to cover the Sheer and Lutts from the western direction.
Why from the west? The implication was a cover from Soviet warships in the event of their interception. And to intercept they would go from the Kola Peninsula, that is, from the west. The destroyers were assigned the modest role of protecting battleships when passing through the zone of vigorous activity of the ships of the Northern Fleet and the Anglo-American allies.
The Admiral Scheer, built in 1939, was part of a series of German ships known as pocket battleships. Where is this not a very serious name? According to the Versailles Treaty of 1919, which recorded the defeat of Germany in World War I, severe restrictions were imposed on the construction of new warships. In particular, it was forbidden to have ships with a displacement of more than 10 thousand tons and with guns above 280 mm as part of the Navy. But the German designers were able to circumvent the restrictions, creating ships that had artillery armament more powerful than cruisers, and speed, like the battleships. Hence the name - “pocket battleships”.
In fact, the Admiral Scheer, like the Lutzov of the same type, is a heavy cruiser. Germany planned to use them as raiders (naval term from the English raid - raid), that is, ships that can conduct independent military operations against merchant ships on long-distance communications. Scheer had a full displacement of 13 700 tons, the crew - 926 people. Speed - 26 nodes. Armor thickness - from 76 to 178 mm. Armament: six artillery shells caliber 280 mm, eight - 150 mm; six - anti-aircraft caliber 105 mm, eight anti-aircraft - 47 mm and eight torpedo tubes.
"Admiral Scheer" at that time was commanded by an experienced sailor, a former submariner, a World War I participant 45, a summer captain-zur-zee (captain of 1 rank) Wilhelm Meendsen-Bolken. He took the cruiser under its start in June 41, when Germany attacked the USSR. But earlier, with the beginning of the Second World War, Scheer was already "famous for" attacks on merchant ships. During 161 day of sea hunting from the Arctic to the Antarctic, it passed 46 thousand nautical miles, sinking 19 vessels with a total displacement of 137 thousand tons. Therefore, the Führer himself favored the predecessor of Meendsen-Bolken on the bridge of Theodore Crank. Hitler gave him an admiral rank and appointed a representative of the high command (Oberkommando der Marine - OKM) to the kriegsmarine (Kriegsmarine - the official name of the navy of fascist Germany) in his headquarters.
But the operation "Wunderland" in the Arctic began only one heavy cruiser "Scheer". "Lutz" was damaged and put in for repair. 6 August 1942, the Admiral Scheer secretly left Skomenfjord Naval Base in Northern Norway. The whole operation was prepared in deep secrecy. And only far into the sea, 16 of August, the command was read by the order of Meendsen-Bolken: “Our task is to attack the ships of the enemy in the Kara Sea; The main target of the attack are convoys, especially those coming from the east. The commander will decide on the firing of ground points on the spot. ”
Slowly moving east along the edge of the ice, the 20 August 1942, the cruiser met with the German submarine U-251. But its commander could not say anything definite about the movement of the Soviet convoys. Meendsen-Bolken made the decision to go south. An Arado seaplane Ar 196 was raised from the deck of the ship for reconnaissance. In the air, he was launched with the help of a catapult, and sat on the water.
Gloomy daylight hours were already ending, when the pilots discovered a convoy of nine ships. The battleship went to intercept the convoy and took a comfortable position for the attack. All the 28 guns and eight torpedo tubes of the Admiral Scheer were ready to open fire at the first signal. To resist such a deadly firepower could not one of our military unit in the region. This class of ships in the Northern Fleet was not. It seemed the caravan was doomed. But time passed, and ships did not appear on the horizon. But the radio intercept data indicated that they were somewhere nearby.
The next morning the seaplane departed again for reconnaissance. But the caravan has sunk into the water. The fact is that the chain of ships did not move to the west, but to the east. That is, it did not approach the German cruiser, but left it.
On August 22, the command from Norway received a message about another convoy –19 ships and four icebreakers headed west. 23 August Arado reconnaissance aircraft Ar 196 discovered 10 ships anchored.
But Meendsen-Bolken was afraid that the wind would change and the ship would be locked up with ice. In addition, there was a danger of opening fire by the Soviet courts, since each transport is at the very least, but was armed with two cannons and machine guns. Meedsen-Bolken every now and then gave the command to change course. And then the movement of ice began, and the heavy cruiser could land in an icy captivity.
As they say, there would be no happiness, but misfortune helped. 25 August 1942, the reconnaissance aircraft crashed, leaving the cruiser "without sight". The fact is that the state on board should have been two aircraft, but in the march for some reason took one. This was the reason for Meendsen-Bolken to head south into the waters free of ice.
FLAG NOT LOST
On the morning of August 24, the icebreaking ship “A. Sibiryakov ”left the port of Dikson in the northeastern part of the Yenisei Bay of the Kara Sea. The ship was built by the British firm Henderson & K ± in 1942. In the 1909 year, at the height of the First World War, Russia bought it to carry out winter transportation in the White Sea and transport military goods from the allied countries. The vessel received its Russian name in honor of the gold producer, explorer of Siberia and the Arctic, Alexander Sibiryakov. The port of his residence was Arkhangelsk.
After the Civil War "Sibiryakov" was used as a fishing, cargo and supply vessel. And the icebreaker became famous in 1932, when for the first time in stories development of the Arctic in one navigation, without wintering passed the entire Northern Sea Route. The head of the expedition on the Sibiryakov then was the famous polar explorer, academic Otto Schmidt, and the no less famous polar captain Vladimir Voronin commanded the ship.
In 1941, the icebreaking steamer was received by the sea captain Anatoly Kacharava, who was called “Circassian” for his characteristic Caucasian appearance with sympathy. Despite the relative youth - 31 year - it was an experienced sailor, the last excellent school in the Far Eastern seas.
On the second day of the voyage, the Sibiryakov was located in the region north-west of the Nordensheld archipelago, west of Cape Chelyuskin, crowning the northern tip of Taimyr. The icebreaker was carrying equipment, food, fuel, log cabins for two houses, a radio station kit, and a polar crew change to the islands. Four people were supposed to disembark at Cape Tinovny and change people at the polar station of Domashniy Island.
25 August 1942 of the year in 11.47 in the Kara Sea, near the island of Belukha from the icebreaker saw a warship. A nose light blinked from it: “Who are you? Where are you going? Come closer! ”And again the demand:“ Notify the state of the ice in the Vilkitsky Strait, where the caravan of transports and icebreakers is now. ” Then from an unknown ship they ordered to stop the work of the ship’s radio and to lower the flag.
But Sibiryakov did not obey the order. Radio operator Anatoly Sharshavin sent a clear message to Dickson about the appearance - there was no doubt about that - of an enemy warship.
At the command of captain Senior Lieutenant Anatoly Kacharava, the crew prepared for battle. The captain addressed his subordinates with a brief speech: “Comrades! The ship raised the fascist flag. Now the battle will begin. Let us show what the valor of the Soviet people means. We'll die, but we won't give up! ”The unequal battle began. The Sibiryakov had two 45-mm, two 76-mm cannons and several anti-aircraft machine guns. He was not armored.
The commander of the foreman Vasily Dunaev, from a red-hot gun, sent a projectile after a projectile to the enemy, until he lost consciousness. Shells from the icebreaker, which reached the German cruiser, could not penetrate his armor. But the sailors saw that the deck of the cruiser was instantly empty.
Stunned by Meendsen-Bolken ordered to sink the ship. The first shell from the "Admiral Scheer" cut the mast "Sibiryakova." Glavstarshina Mikhail Saraev under heavy fire connected parts of the broken antenna of the main transmitter. The second volley from the "Sheer" fell on the stern of the vessel and brought down both stern guns. Gunners partially died or were seriously wounded.
All who were on board showed courage in an unparalleled fight with the enemy. Selflessly helped the wounded doctor Valentina Chernous. When a Soviet flag was torn down by a missile projectile, the sailor Alexander Novikov raised it over the burning icebreaker again. From the dying “Sibiryakov” Sharshavin sent the last radiogram on the air: “Pompolit ordered to leave the ship. We burn, goodbye. This was August 25 in 14.05. Then the connection was interrupted. The icebreaker lost speed, and the guns of the German cruiser finished it off. Amazingly, one of the cannons of the ship was still firing. By order of the captain, cryptographer Mikhail Kuznetsov destroyed secret documents.
The senior mechanic Nikolai Bochurko executed the last order of the captain - he opened the Kingston. Anatoly Kacharava was seriously wounded. The command was taken over by the political assistant Zelik Elimelah. He ordered the crew to leave the ship. Like the legendary "Varyag", "Siberians" did not lower the flag in front of the enemy. Around 15.00, the sea swallowed the ship. A commissioner remained at the flagpole.
A significant part of the crew and passengers died from shells and burns before the icebreaker disappeared into the depths of the sea. Those who fought one by one for their lives in icy water and refused to climb a boat launched from the German cruiser were shot by the Nazis. The stoker Nikolai Matveyev, while capturing his comrades, threw an ax at a German sailor. In response, there was an automatic burst.
The boat with eighteen wounded and burned by the Soviet sailors boat towed to board the "Sheer". Long interrogations gave the Germans nothing.
In July, the philatelists 1977 were pleased with the series of postage stamps “Icebreaking fleet of the USSR (Russian icebreaking fleet)”; Brand “Icebreaking steamer“ A. Sibiryakov "was released circulation 7,5 million.
Postmark of the USSR. 1977 Of the 104 people on board the icebreaker, only 14 survived to Victory. The fate of the driver Pavel Vavilov is amazing. He managed to avoid death and captivity. In the icy water, he grabbed the side of the half-broken boat and reached the uninhabited rocky island Belukha. For more than a month, his forced wintering on the island continued. Ate Vavilov bran, a small stock of which was in the boat. The wreckage of the ship, cast ashore, went to the fire. His uneven flame was seen from the air by the famous polar pilot Hero of the Soviet Union Ivan Cherevichny. He brought Vavilov to the mainland. For courage and perseverance, the sailor from the Sibiryakov was awarded the Nakhimov Medal.
In August, 1960, as part of a large group of workers of the Ministry of the Navy, Pavel Vavilov was awarded the title Hero of Socialist Labor.
“I HATE ARCTIC”
The signal from the Sibiryakov about the appearance of an enemy warship helped to keep the caravan ships in the ice of the Vilkitsky Strait 14. They continued along the northern seas and successfully reached their destination.
After the battle with Sibiryakov, Scheer moved to the area of Dickson Island. It is located on the route of the Northern Sea Route, one and a half kilometers from the Arctic coast of the Krasnoyarsk Territory. The island had a port, a settlement, supply depots, and most importantly, a headquarters for offshore operations in the Western Arctic. The Germans, planning to land on the island landing from 180 machine gunners, hoping to get maps and other information about the ice situation.
Concerned that his cruiser had already been discovered, Meedensen-Bolken was clearly nervous. Here is how he himself describes his condition on the way to Dickson in his memoirs “Fight amid the harsh ices”: “I felt that I had missed something. This ice. Too much ice and too much cold. I hate the Arctic! ”
Having received a warning from Sibiryakov, the port workers, a small group of sailors and gunners began to urgently prepare for battle on Dixon. Supervised the defense of Dixon regimental commissar Babintsev. Measures were taken to save the secret cipher, ice maps, logs with the results of meteorological and hydrological observations. Hydrologist Mikhail Somov and weather forecaster Vyacheslav Frolov were instructed to carry documents deep into the coast and destroy in the event of a landing of the German landing force.
Somov, one of the most talented polar hydrologists, began to swim and fly in the Arctic before the war. After the war, he headed a team of the second in the history of the Soviet drifting station "North Pole". Doctor of Geographical Sciences Hero of the Soviet Union Somov led the First Soviet Antarctic Expedition, twice sailed to the shores of the icy continent. Later, when Mikhail Mikhailovich was asked about the most memorable day in his long Arctic and Antarctic biography, he called 27 August 1942 of the year, when he had to save bundles of journals with the results of daily weather and ice observations.
Having circled Dickson from the west, the German cruiser shelled a port, a radio station, set fire to a coal warehouse on Cone Island. But here he was covered with a coastal battery of 152-mm guns from Dixon. Already after the war in Germany, they wrote that as a result there were killed and wounded at Scheer. So the Germans were no longer up to the landing. The cruiser had to turn back. 29 August he left the battlefield and 30 August arrived in the Norwegian port of Narvik. After that, the fascist surface ships from Dixon did not appear.
Thus ended the operation "Wunderland". "Admiral Scheer" empty-handedly left the Soviet Arctic waters. In September, the last German submarine left 1942 of the year. The developers of Operation Wunderland failed to disrupt the Arctic navigation.
A year later, the Nazis attempted to repeat the operation "Wunderland". But in 1943, the situation in the Arctic was already different. By that time, considerable forces of Soviet troops were concentrated, the ships and aircraft of the Northern Fleet intensified their operations. And Operation Wunderland-2 was also unsuccessful. All this forced the Nazis to abandon massive air and sea strikes on our naval bases, airfields and other important objects.
And 9 on April 1945, the bombers of the British Air Force, which used the most powerful Tallboy bombs, sank the Scheer while stationed in Kiel. The huge ship overturned. Partially it was dismantled, and large fragments of the hull were “packed” in concrete during the construction of new port facilities. Walking along the quays on the Kiel harbor, could I think that the remains of Admiral Scheer were under my feet. That very heavy German cruiser who robbed in far 42 in our northern latitudes.
THE FATE OF CAPTAIN
At the end of 80's, the feature film “Operation Wunderland” (directed by Otar Koberidze, film studio Georgia-Film) was filmed about these events. Kinogruppa traveled to the shooting in Severomorsk, Arkhangelsk, Murmansk and on the island of Dickson. “I personally knew Anatoly Kacharava,” Koberidze recalled. - It was a beautiful man - stately, with huge eyes. In the film, he and his whole team die. ”
This is also stated in some post-war books and publications about the exploit of Sibiryakova. But this is not so. In the course of numerous interrogations aboard the Sheer, none of the comrades gave out their commander - with the Germans in the protocols he passed as a polar explorer from a distant station and under a different surname. He went through the hell of German concentration camps, but survived. In the early spring of 1945, the captain of the icebreaker "A. Sibiryakov "Senior Lieutenant Kacharava was released from the Stuttgart camp by fighters of the 1st Guards tank army.
After the war, Anatoly Alekseevich walked a lot in the seas and oceans, including Ledovit. In the year 1967, when the Georgian Shipping Company was established, the sea captain Anatoly Kacharava headed it.
A number of foreign military historians believe that the personal courage of Anatoly Kacharava can be compared with the feats of the British destroyer Glouorm, Gerard Rupa, and the commander of the auxiliary cruiser Jervis Bay, Edward Fidgen, which are well known in the West Officers Roop and Figen were awarded the highest British military award, the Victoria Cross (24 award for the entire Second World War).
Countryman Kacharava filmmaker Otar Koberidze believed that Anatoly Alekseevich - Hero of the Soviet Union. The authors and editors of the authoritative professional publication, the Water Transport newspaper, have not had a shadow of doubt in this. Still - such a feat! But in fact he was rated modestly. The Order of the Red Star was considered a sufficient reward for the captain of the Sibiryakov. Another order of the Red Star, as well as the Order of Lenin, the Labor Red Banner and the October Revolution, Kacharava received in peacetime. A tanker and a street in Batumi are named after him.
The most mysterious figure in this dramatic story is Commissioner Elimelah, who did not leave the dying steamship. About Zelik Abramovich is practically not mentioned in publications of the Soviet era. Because of the name, or rather, because of the nationality? All official information about Elimelah is limited to the only reference of the Central Naval Archive: “He was born in 1911 in the city of Gomel, BSSR. In 1933, he graduated from KvmvUZ them. Sverdlov in Moscow. Military education has not. In service in the Navy since November 1934. He served as the military commissar of the ship LD-6 "Sibiryakov" of the White Sea military flotilla. 25 of August 1942 of the year was killed along with the icebreaker steamer Sibiryakov, which, when meeting with the enemy cruiser, entered the battle and was sunk, despite heroic resistance. ”
It was sunk ... As if there was no feat. Meanwhile, the famous German military historian Admiral Friedrich Ruge in his fundamental work “War at Sea. 1939 – 1945 ”noted that the icebreaker“ courageously and skillfully ”resisted.
Only more than two decades later, in 1965, the coordinates of the death of the icebreaker steamer “Alexander Sibiryakov” (76 degrees N, 91 degrees 31 minute E) were declared a place of military glory. Today, all ships sailing along the Northern Sea Route, in the area of Belukha Island, in memory of the feat of the northern "Varyag" give a long beep and lowered the flag.