The place where I am located is Shumshu Island, or, as it was once called by the sons of the Land of the Rising Sun, "The edge of the sword, which is aimed at the chest of mainland Russia." If we imagine the arc of the Kuril Ridge, slightly curved toward the ocean, extending from north to south along the Sea of Okhotsk, then we can really see in it an ancient Japanese sword - katana.
Here, on an area of 388 sq. km (30 km long by 20 km wide) by the hands of Chinese and Korean excavators, who were then drowned in the ocean, the samurai created an impregnable fortress under a hill marked 171. It included a five-story underground fortified area. With 34 concrete artillery pillboxes (long-term emplacements), 24 pillboxes (long-term earthen emplacements), 310 closed machine-gun emplacements, numerous underground shelters for troops and military property over 50 m deep, branched concrete tunnels and rooms, on which even cars and electric locomotives. This structure protected the garrison from direct hits from artillery shells and aviation bombs. There were over 100 guns in it near carefully camouflaged embrasures, and all the passages were combined into a single defensive system, equipped with false exits to the surface. And in these catacombs there were workshops for the repair of military equipment, hospitals and halls for ritual prayers. The Japanese dug 40 km of anti-tank ditches along the coast. We placed several dozen behind them tanks. They installed around the island at a distance of 100-200 m from the coast anti-landing concrete hollows so that not a single ship could approach it.
They considered Shumsh to be an invulnerable and unsinkable aircraft carrier. There were even three airfields built on it, the runways of which were year-round heated by thermal springs. They were so cleverly located that the planes could take off from one of them, regardless of the strength, speed and direction of the wind that blows through the island at any time of the year.
In the underground fortress under the height of 171 in August 1945, there were more than 10 thousand soldiers and officers of Emperor Hirohito, who were part of the 73 th infantry brigade of the 91 th infantry division, as well as the 31 th regiment of air defense, artillery regiment X-rayon regiment, X-infantry division, X-NUMX infantry brigade, X-NUMX infantry brigade, 11 infantry brigade, 3 infantry brigade, 4 infantry brigade, 1945 infantry brigade tank regiment (without one company). Not far from it, also in the concrete shelters, there was a garrison of the Kataoka naval base, an airfield command, and separate support units. About the same number of soldiers and officers. The depth of the anti-landing defense engineering structures was 18 – XNUMX km. And this impregnable and invulnerable fortress at the end of the summer of XNUMX, our troops stationed in Kamchatka, had to take in one day - August XNUMX.
BATTLE AFTER CAPITULATION
14 August 1945 after the American atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the defeat by the Soviet troops of the million Kwantung Army in China, Emperor Hirohito signed an order to surrender the Japanese armed forces to the Allied armies. But the garrison on Shumshu, who received this order by radio, did not even think to surrender. And on August 18, Soviet units stationed in Kamchatka began an operation to clear the Kuril Islands from Japanese troops.
The intention of the Soviet command was to land suddenly a naval landing in the north-west of the island, just around the height of 171, and from it to deliver the main blow in the direction of the Kataoka naval base, which was located on the southern coast. Take possession of the island and use it as a springboard for the subsequent clearing of enemy forces from other islands of the Kuril Ridge. The assault force was formed from the 101 th Infantry Division of the Kamchatka Defensive Area, which was part of the 2 th Far Eastern Front. It had two rifle regiments, an artillery regiment, a fighter anti-tank division, and a battalion of marines. Total - 8 363 people who supported 95 guns, 123 mortar, 120 heavy and 372 light machine gun. As well as two patrol ships ("Dzerzhinsky" and "Kirov"), four minesweepers, two minesweepers, minelayer Okhotsk, a floating battery, eight patrol boats, two torpedo boats, a submarine, 17 transport and 16 special landing ships, obtained from the US Lend-Lease, two self-propelled barges. And 128-I mixed aviation division.
Suddenness did not work.
The amphibious assault ships, approaching the north-west of the island in the morning fog on August 18, fired a volley of all guns, which demanded unconditional surrender to Shumsh of the garrison. But the Japanese did not think to give up. They responded to this salvo with fire from all their guns and tanks. The landing began. Directly on the water, a hundred meters from the shore. It was impossible to come closer because it was hampered by concrete concrete teeth sticking out of the water. Before the operation, no one asked the soldiers whether they could swim or not, and many of them simply could not reach the shore through the cold and fast currents. Until now, no one knows exactly how many people then drowned, they call the number in 400 people. Like it or not, it is impossible to say. But there are official data on which the 123 fighter 70 has been missing for years.
FIVE DAYS AND EIGHT ATTACK
Despite the heroism, courage and steadfastness of the Soviet soldiers who fought with Japanese tanks, pillboxes and bunkers with anti-tank rifles, grenades, machine guns and machine guns, it was not possible to take the 171 height that opened the way to Kataoka naval base in one day. Aviation because of the fog paratroopers helped poorly. Artillery from the ships also did not provide proper support: they were afraid to strike on their own. And the distance from the coast to the hill dominating the island turned out to be too bloody. Not only that all the attackers were clearly in front of the Japanese, the samurai also suddenly got out of their disguised holes and shelters behind the attackers and shot them in the back, and then again hid under the mossy heads of the alder elfin. Eight attacks in five days were taken by our warriors, before they captured the height of 171. Two of them - the foreman of the 1-th article Nikolai Vilkov and the sailor Peter Ilyichev covered the embrasures of the pillboxes with their breasts, repeating Alexander Matrosov's feat. Both of them were awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union. At the height of 171 they put the monuments.
The battle for Shumsh was the only operation of the Soviet-Japanese war 1945 of the year, where our army suffered more casualties killed and wounded than the enemy. The official figures include 416 dead, 123 missing (mostly drowned when disembarking), 1028 injured - against a little more than 300 killed and 700 injured Japanese.
Only 23 in August, the commander of the Japanese forces in the northern Kuril Islands, Lieutenant General Fusaki Tsutsumi accepted the terms of surrender. He took his troops to the collection points for surrender and surrendered himself. Before that, as eyewitnesses told, before the line of his subordinates, with tears in his eyes, he gave a penitentiary speech, broke his katana in half and knelt before the winners. According to archival data, one general, 525 officers and 11 700 soldiers surrendered to Shumshu. The trophies include military property: 40 guns, 17 howitzers, 9 anti-aircraft guns, 214 light machine guns, 123 heavy machine guns, 20 anti-aircraft guns, 7 420 rifles, several surviving tanks, 7 airplanes.
Some of these tanks and aircraft are still rusting on the island.
NON-TRANSITIONAL DEBT BEFORE THE FAVORABLE
Today, almost no one lives on Shumshu. Only caretakers of two lighthouses - a husband and wife in the north-west of the island, at the Kurbatovo lighthouse (named after one of the commanders of the August assault), and two others at the Chibuyni lighthouse (also said to be named after the participants in the August 45 landing). The rangers are civilians, but are in the service of the Navy’s hydrographic department. Products, fuel, and mail are delivered several times a year. And fresh water, like fish, they have a heap. By the number of lakes and small streams in which chinooks, sockeye, salmon and salmon spawn, Shumsh can even give a head start to the peninsula. Communication, if anything, on the radio.
In Soviet times, there was a garrison on the island. Border guards, sailors, air defense units ... Now - no one. The devastating tsunami 1952 of the year in which the Kuril Islands killed, according to various sources, more than 4 thousand people, and subsequent natural disasters forced the military to leave with Shumsh. But not forever.
Since last year, the Ministry of Defense of Russia, together with the Expeditionary Center of the Russian Geographical Society and the Search Movement of Russia, in the first month of autumn have organized expeditions to the former unsinkable aircraft carrier of Japan. The objectives of these expeditions (they include up to 45 people) are simple and clear: search for the unburied remains of the soldiers who died during the Second World War. And both Soviet and Japanese. Care of military graves and monuments located on the island. Search and evacuation of military equipment and weapons left by troops at the end of hostilities. Rescuing them from extremely unfavorable climatic conditions, because of which they intensively rust and collapse, and even from vandals who visit Shumsh from time to time, break out parts they are interested in, although many samples of military equipment can still be taken out to the mainland, restore and put in museums.
Colonel Andrei Taranov, deputy head of the Department of Defense to perpetuate the memory of those who fell to defend the Fatherland, told me that last year they found the remains of 10 Soviet fighters and five Japanese. After appropriate description and logging procedures (usually, tokens and any other marks that make it possible to find out the soldier’s name cannot be found), the Soviets were handed over to the administration of Severo-Kurilsk, the administrative center of the North-Kuril urban district of the Sakhalin region for a ceremonial reburial at the memorial cemetery of Paramushir island. Japanese - Consulate of the Land of the Rising Sun in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. They are then cremated and buried in their homeland.
This year, the expedition discovered the remains of 13 Soviet and 13 Japanese soldiers. The excavation of one of them took place in front of journalists. By all indications, as Irina Viter, a researcher at the Kamchatka Regional Scientific Library, explained to us, a Soviet soldier died from a painful shock and blood loss. His left clavicle is broken. All other bones are intact. When a warrior discovered a gas mask and gas filter. Scissors, a belt, on it were forty-fifth size tarpaulin shoes (having lain 70 for years in raw island soil, they did not suffer at all).
It is difficult to search for the dead, says the executive secretary of the public movement “Search Movement of Russia”, Elena Tsunaeva. The mine detector detects only metal objects that are located no deeper than 10 – 15 cm underground. Then the slates begin, and the devices of the search engines cannot “pierce” their thickness.
Search engines live - and among them, apart from the military, are representatives of Tatarstan, Udmurtia, Khanty-Mansiysk, Leningrad Oblast, Volgograd, age from 18 to 60 with a hook of years - in absolutely Spartan conditions. In the dilapidated wooden houses that border guards left on the island, and in tents. All domestic services, as they say, on the street. Although there is a bath, the water for which is carried from the nearest lake and is heated by firewood imported from the mainland. Enthusiasts eat food, which brought with them, food is cooked in the soldiers' field kitchen. Their working day is from morning to evening. They do not receive money for their work. The Ministry of Defense pays them only the way there and back, and the cost of food. Why do they need it?
The search party of the Intelligence detachment, in the ordinary life of a high-altitude designer, Nikolay Ivanov flew to Shumshu with his chief, the head of a company engaged in festive decoration of tall buildings. He says that he has been interested in search work for a long time, he is very interested. First, there is a moral duty to the dead Soviet soldiers. “Until the last soldier is buried,” he reminds the famous maxim, “the war is not over.” And secondly, the "unsinkable Japanese aircraft carrier" - he is especially curious. He even tried to get inside the dungeon, went down six meters, but didn’t go farther: the rooms were flooded, in many places littered with soil, besides you could stumble upon unexploded mines. The risk is too great. Maybe in the next expedition it will be possible to get further if the necessary technical conditions are created for this.
The expedition leader, Colonel Andrei Taranov, says that such a task - to reveal the Japanese underground fortress - is not in front of them. On the one hand, it is very expensive and difficult, on the other - dangerous. You must have the appropriate equipment and specialists. In the future, when all the dead are found and reburied, it will be possible to attend to such a problem. Now the search engines are facing other goals: to destroy unexploded ordnance, of which there are quite a lot, and, if possible, take out the remaining military equipment for restoration. As for the technology, there are unique exhibits. For example, the Japanese medium tank "Chi-ha" manufactured by Mitsubishi weighing 17 t, with a 57 mm cannon and two machine guns. They say such a tank is not in any museum of the world, even in the Land of the Rising Sun.
BATTLES OF LOCAL AND NON-LOCAL VALUE
The tank "Chi-ha" stands on the slope of the height 171. It does not have a single caterpillar that has grown into the grass perpendicular to the machine. His track rollers to the hub entered the ground. The "Japanese" ruined starboard. Apparently, the projectile anti-tank gun, hitting here, caused the detonation of ammunition, destroyed both the machine itself and its crew. And on its left side Russian letters and Arabic numerals - INSKKM657 are painted with paint. The code is easy to decipher: "Inventory number of the North-Kuril Museum of Local Lore 657."
Colonel Taranov sighs:
- We wanted to take this tank to Moscow, restore it and place it in the Museum of armored vehicles in Kubinka, in the branch of Patriot Park. But local historians from Severo-Kurilsk are ahead of us. Now you cannot take this car from the museum.
Colonel's distress can be understood. The fact is that the restoration of old Japanese technology, 70 years rusting under the Kuril sky, is a very costly event. In addition, it requires good specialists, which local museum workers simply do not have. As there is no and those serious money that must be invested in the restoration. But there is no reception against localism.
The military consider themselves to be the heirs of those Soviet fighters who stormed the island of Shumsh and the height of 171. In their opinion, all the military equipment that remained here are military trophies, and it should belong to the Ministry of Defense. Part of it, where the North Kuril museum workers did not have time to put an inventory number, a couple of Japanese Ka-Mi amphibious tanks, remnants of the American King Cobra fighter, two small locomotives that the samurai used to build underground catacombs, they loaded onto the landing barges and took them to The big land. The rest of the rusty relics they do not give up.
The problem is not that the regional authorities are going to create a large memorial complex at Shumshu, reveal the Japanese underground fortress, restore it, make it a tourist attraction and start earning money on it. The idea is interesting in all respects. But the question is: where to get the money in the regional budget? Moscow on such "toys" will not give them. Sponsors and businessmen are interested in quick returns on their investments. And hoping that after the reconstruction of the entire complex of Japanese fortifications, which would require at least about 5 billion rubles, will pay off in a couple of years, Shumsh is too naive. To get to the island is very far, difficult, and the occupation is more for extreme people, and not for ordinary tourists. Even if you attract here nostalgic for the past residents of the Land of the Rising Sun.
Skeptics doubt whether it is necessary to open a Japanese defensive fortress at all. Why do this? - they ask. Are we going to recreate a monument to Japanese militarism? No, they object, we are going to show the feat of the Soviet soldiers, who almost with their bare hands managed to take this enemy invisible underground fortress, which was considered invulnerable and impregnable.
But, while the controversy continues, the island of Shumshu remains uninhabited and unsociable. There are still, as they say, about a half dozen Japanese tanks in varying degrees of destruction. Half a dozen artillery guns, wreckage of some aircraft ... Tourists do not drive here, but sometimes some extremals sail off-road on quad bikes and snowmobiles, hunt for bears and deer, there are about two dozen of them - they came from Kamchatka through the Kuril Strait , feed is enough for everyone. There are among the extreme and vandals. And there is no one to protect the museum exhibits.
Probably, it would be right to make a branch of Patriot Park from Shumshu Island, which is now creating an army department in the Moscow region, with all the prospects, opportunities and responsibilities arising from this. Education for citizenship, pride in their country, for the feats of their ancestors, the desire to continue their glorious traditions is a very concrete and illustrative work. It is probably not entirely correct to divide it between the center and the regions.
Colonel Andrei Taranov, Deputy Head of the Defense Ministry to perpetuate the memory of the fallen when defending the Fatherland, when we spoke with him on this topic, agreed that Shumshu represented a great scope for such work. “Only this is for the Department of Culture,” he said. “We are responsible for the search and burial of the dead heroes.”