For the 65-th ANNIVERSARY of the END
of the WORLD WAR II
2-nd September 2010 in the WESTERN HEMISPHERE,
3-rd September 2010 in the EASTERN HEMISPHERE
The UNKNOWN WORLD WAR II in the NORTH PACIFIC
Lecture on the International Scientific and Practical Conference
“Results of the World War II and Mission on Secure Peace in the XXI Century”,
St. Petersburg, House of Friendship and Peace, April 27-28, 2000
Translated by Alexey Barmin and Dmitriy Tegin
The events of the WWII in the North Pacific remain unknown so far. However some American investigations include the data from the President's Reports to Congress on the Lend-Lease Operations that testify that nearly half of the Russian Lend-Lease was sent across the Pacific Ocean to the Soviet Far East ports and through the Bering Strait on the routes of the North Marine Way. The shipments were realized in the area of the war operations, that started on the 7-th of December 1941 when the Japanese naval bombers attacked the American Naval Base Pearl-Harbor on the Hawaiian Islands and continued till the capitulation of Japan.
I didn't find a complete picture of these war operations in the American sources accessible for me. Each of them describes the details of only one war operation as "The Battle of Komandorski Island, March 1943" by John A. Lorelli (Naval Institute Press. Annapolis. Maryland. Third printing.1989) or several numbers of them as the raids of Americans bombers from the Aleutian Islands to the Japanese fortifications on the North Kuril Islands and from the airdromes in the Western China to the military and industrial targets in Japan and Manchuria ("Home from Siberia" by Otis Hays, Jr., Texas. A&M University Press. 1990).
The questions start from the President's Reports that say that there were no losses on the Pacific transport sea routes and in the Siberian part of ALSIB (the route for ferrying aircraft across Canada, Alaska and Siberia). It was completely impossible. Probably the official Soviet statistics didn't inform their allies about these losses to avoid any visits of their representatives to the Soviet Far East that was almost an entire zone of GULAG NKVD (The Chief Administration of the Camps of the People's Commissariat of the Internal Affairs). The history of the Soviet Far East and the history of the work of the USSR`s transport fleet in the Pacific Ocean during wartime should be considered repressed. The NKVD veto had been valid more than a half of the century.
The losses of cargoes in the Pacific Ocean were ten times less than in the Atlantic Ocean. According to the American sources the Atlantic losses were about half of a million tons. 18 million tons that were sent to the all sea routes by the Allies (data from "The Roads to Russia: United States Lend-Lease to the Soviet Union" by Robert H. Jones, University of Oklahoma Press. 1969, and "The Persian Corridor and Aid to Russia" by Vail T.H. Motter, Washington. 1952).
More than a half of the military sea cargoes were obtained on the routes of the Pacific Ocean because of the smaller losses there. The military aid was mainly American and was lend-lease from the 1-st of October, 1941.
The PARTICIPANTS of the NORTH PACIFIC TRANSPORTATIONS
Michael N. Suprun, head of the Pomorsky University’s (Arkhangelsk) chair of the Native History, writes in his monograph "Lend-Lease and Northern Convoys 1941-1945" (Moscow. 1997) that the Americans carried the Russian Lend-Lease to the Soviet Far East ports themselves before Pearl-Harbor (pp. 74, 79).
Richard J. Overy, professor of the New History of the London Royal College, expresses directly opposite opinion in his article "Co-operation: Trade, Aid, and Technology": " Almost all the shipments in the Pacific Ocean were carried out by the United States after December 1941" ("Allies at War 1941-1945", Moscow. 1995, p. 236).
As a matter of fact the Pacific shipping was carried out only by vessels under Soviet flag with Soviet crews. As it was said in the Report of the People's Commissariat of External Trade: "EXCLUSIVELY SOVIET STEAMERS" (External Policy Archives, fund 'Comrade V.M. Molotov's Secretariat', list 4, file 104, page 96). There were no convoys. The vessels sailed across the ocean one by one without close escort, although a lot of historians and officials tell about Pacific convoys in their articles and documents.
As it was in Atlantic Ocean, the ships had an armament, military squads aboard. Many merchant sailors had military professions.
By November 1942 the allies had refused to use old and slow-going Soviet vessels in convoys sailed to Murmansk and Arkhangelsk because USA, Britain and Canada had started by that time building of welded heavy tonnage vessels (dry-cargo ships and tankers). Since December 1942 the convoys were formed from these welded vessels. The abbreviation became 'JW' instead of 'PQ'. They used to sail only during the polar night. As a result the losses on the sea routes to Murmansk and Arkhangelsk became considerably smaller.
At the beginning of 1943 almost all the Soviet merchant vessels that hadn’t been destroyed and hadn’t been mobilized to the Soviet Navy were gathered in Far Eastern State Shipping Company (FESCO).
Since 1942 lend-lease American ships began joining FESCO. At first old American repaired ships joined FESCO according to so-called Special Program. Then since January 1943 new welded dry-cargo ships of ‘Liberty’ type and welded tankers joined FESCO.
In June 1941 there were 85 vessels in FESCO fleet. During 1941-1945 39 vessels joined FESCO fleet from other Soviet steamship companies. The Soviet Government Purchase Commission in the USA in the different American ports got: in 1942 — 27 vessels, in 1943 — 46 vessels, in 1944 — 20 vessels, in 1945 — 35 vessels ("FESCO 1880-1980", Vladivostok, 1980, pp. 194, 237). 167 vessels joined FESCO, 128 of them were lend-lease vessels, most of them were heavy tonnage vessels.
The DALSTROY NKVD (Far East Golden Company of the People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs) FLEET participated in transportation across the Pacific Ocean. There were 4 heavy tonnage high-speed vessels in that fleet. They worked on America - Vladivostok line almost during the whole wartime and transported almost 0.5 million tons of import cargoes (State Archives of Magadan Region, fund 'P-23c÷', files 4196, 4206, 4225, 4244, 4245, 4268, 4286, 4301).
According to Lend-Lease Program American and Canadian shipyards performed repair-works of the Soviet vessels. BASE SHIPS and TRANSPORT SHIPS of the PEOPLE'S COMMISSARIAT of FISHERY also sailed there for repair-works and returned with lend-lease cargoes aboard. At inter-season fish ships carried out only the transport voyages without repair-works. There were approximately 30 vessels of that kind. 2 refrigerators of VOSTOKRYBKHOLODFLOT (East Fishery Refrigerator Fleet) and a tanker of AKO (Kamchatka Joint-stock Company) worked constantly on America—Vladivostok route.
The data of the President's Reports let us find out that there was sent 124 times more cargoes aboard the vessels under Soviet flag across the Pacific Ocean than on the Soviet ships across the Atlantic Ocean. It was 99.2 percent of import transport works of all People's Commissariats fleets of the USSR in the wartime. This kind of work can be called PACIFIC TRANSPORT EPOPEE (not Epic, that is a literature term).
The ROUTES of the PACIFIC TRANSPORT EPOPEE
All large and small ports of western coast of the USA and Canada and a lot of ports of eastern coast of America across the Panama Channel sent lend-lease cargoes to the Soviet Far East ports. Vladivostok was the main port where Far East Railway starts.
The vessels sailed along the coast of Northern America, at Unalaska Island they overpassed to the Bering Sea.
During summer navigation a small part of them sailed to the Providence Bay where the caravans for ice pilotage along the North Sea Way gathered. They sailed across the Bering Strait to the Arctic Ocean. In the mouths of the large Siberian rivers they overloaded their cargoes on river vessels and barges. The cargoes were destined for ALSIB mainly. Because of that the ROUTE for FERRYING AIRCRAFT ALSIB WAS the PART of the PACIFIC TRANSPORT EPOPEE.
Most of the vessels went about the Komandorsky Islands and sailed to the south along Kamchatka coast.
They called at Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in winter for total unloading because hard ice did not let them sail to Vladivostok across the Sea of Okhotsk and La Perouse Strait. Unfrozen Tsugary Strait was closed by Japan for Soviet ships although Japan and the USSR were not at war till August 1945. The reason was that Japan was an ally of fascist Germany. The way about the Japanese Islands through the Korea (Tsushima) Strait took much time and was dangerous.
In summer military and strategic cargoes were not able to be transported across La Perouse Strait because the Japanese Navy and Coast Guard controlled the Strait. The vessels were partly unloaded in Petropavlovsk for reducing of their draught to let them transport the cargoes across shallow water of the Amur Estuary and the Tatary Strait towards Vladivostok.
Ships called at Petropavlovsk for fuelling, replenishing of ship water and because of the frequent traffic congestions that were in the port of Vladivostok.
Minefields protected the ways to Petropavlovsk as well as to Vladivostok and other Far East ports. Military sea pilot's point was situated to the south of Petropavlovsk at Akhomten Bay (now its name is Russian Bay). At Akhomten Bay caravan of 3-5 crafts gathered and military pilot led they through the passages in the minefields to the Avacha Bay. There was a point of convoy officer at the Akhomten Bay. The captains of the vessels were instructed by him on the further way to the destination.
Ships sailed about the Lopatka Cape and moved to the north along the western coast of Kamchatka. The vessels which transported cargoes for Magadan or directed to the Tatary Strait but had not unloaded in Petropavlovsk, sailed to Nagaevo port near Magadan. The rest of them changed their course at the directed point of the north water area of the Sea of Okhotsk. Those that had military and strategic cargoes aboard went to the Amur Estuary and the Tatary Strait. Those that had only general cargoes aboard, sailed to La Perouse Strait. From La Perouse, Tatary and Korea Straits they proceeded to the Bay of Valentine, from where military pilots led the caravans of 3-4 vessels, if they were small — of 5 vessels, through minefields to Vladivostok.
Cargoes left in Petropavlovsk and Magadan, were transported to Vladivostok during navigation by NIKOLAEVSK-ON-AMUR STEAMSHIP COMPANY vessels. This steamship company had only inshore navigation fleet.
At the port of Nikolaevsk-on-Amur several vessels from America unloaded their cargoes on river vessels and barges which delivered the goods up-stream the Amur River to Komsomolsk and Khabarovsk. The railway was being constructed from Komsomolsk to Sovetskaya Gavan (Soviet Harbour) during the war.
[There is a map of the Routes in the North Pacific in Russian in my book "LEND-LEASE. PACIFIC OCEAN " (Moscow. 1998, p. 18) and in the Historical and Geographical Satin " KAMCHATKA XVII—XX CENTURES" (Moscow. 1997, p. 94).]
The VOLUMES of the TRANSPORTATION
According to the aggregate data of Russian State Archives of Economics (RSAE) and other sources during the WWII the port of Vladivostok reloaded more than 10 million tons of cargoes. 7.9 million tons of them were import cargoes. The port processed 32000 transport vessels, loaded and sent to the west almost 400000 carriages and platforms.
During that time the port of Murmansk reloaded a little bit more than 2 million tons of import (RSAE, fund 8045, list 3, file 1366, page 11). The volume of works of Arkhangelsk group of ports (Arkhangelsk, Bakaritsa, Economia, Molotovsk — now Severodvinsk) was calculated according to the American data of shipping cargoes on the Northern Russia route and losses on it. It is about 1.7 million tons.
The bulk of work of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky port during the WWII years was calculated according to the data of the State Archives of Kamchatka Region. The figure is above 2 million tons. Consequently Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky port, which at the beginning of the war had the only wooden non-mechanized berth, reloaded more import cargoes than Murmansk and, all the more, Arkhangelsk group of ports.
To achieve such a result for more than two years there was built a modern merchant sea port in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky with the capacity of one million tons of freight turnover per year with 6 mechanized berths (now there are 12 berths).
There were constructed and reconstructed other Soviet Far East seaports, railways, aerodromes and many other objects.
Vladivostok and Far Eastern Railway transported import cargoes to the Soviet-Germany front and later to Manchuria 4 times as much as Murmansk and Kirovskaya Railway, and 5 times as much as Arkhangelsk group of ports and Northern Railway.
The LOSSES of the SOVIET TRANSPORT FLEET
Some historians contend that the routs in the North Pacific were stable. But it does not correspond with the facts.
During 1941-1944 crafts of the Japanese Navy and Sea Coast Guards delayed and arrested Soviet transport ships 178 times for term from several hours to several months ("FESCO 1880-1980", Vladivostok. 1980, p. 197). Great sea battles took place near the routes of Soviet vessels. Submarines of confronting states patrolled the area.
23 Soviet ships perished in the basin of the Pacific Ocean and nearby seas (Reference book "Ships of Sea Fleet Ministry of the USSR perished in the period of the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945", Moscow. 1989). 9 of them were stranded on the rocks by storms, crushed with blocks of ice or exploded in Soviet minefields etc. 14 ships were destroyed.
Dry-cargo ships 'Krechet', 'Svirstroy', 'Sergei Lazo' and 'Simferopol' were being repaired in Hong-Kong port when it was captured by the Japanese in December 1941. The vessels were destroyed by Japanese artillery.
Dry-cargo ship 'Perekop' perished in the South China Sea and tanker 'Maikop' perished near the Philippine Islands in December 1941 as well. They were exterminated by Japanese aviation.
Dry-cargo ship 'Mikoyan' was torpedoed by the Japanese submarine '1-162' on the 3-rd October, 1942 in the Bay of Bengal .
Many years later after the ending of the WWII it became clear that 6 Soviet transport ships and one fishery ship were sunk by American submarines near the Japanese shores. The American submarines' battle slogan was: 'Sink them all!' They sank a lot of their own transport ships in southern latitudes where sea battles between the USA and Japan took place. Soviet ships perished from their torpedoes, as a rule, in a very bad visibility: at night and in the dense fog. There is a list of destroyed ships:
'Angarstroy' — 1.05.42, the East China Sea, by US submarine SS-210 'Grenadir';
'Kola', 'Ilmen' — 16 and 17.02.1943, the Pacific Ocean, SS-276 'Sawfish';
Seiner N20 — 9.07.43, the Sea of Japan, SS-178 'Permit';
'Belorussia' — 3.03.44, the Sea of Okhotsk, SS-381 'Sand Lance';
'Ob' — 6.07.44, the Sea of Okhotsk, SS-281 'Sunfish';
'Transbalt' — 13.06.45, the Sea of Japan, SS-411 'Spadefish'.
According to Reference book of Sea Fleet Ministry during the WWII 240 persons perished on Soviet civil ships which were sunk in the Pacific Ocean area. 145 from them perished on boards of ships which were sunk by US submarines.
My correspondence in 1997-1999 with foreign researchers: Richard Russell and John Alden (USA), Prof. Jurgen Rohver (Germany) and Prof. Yoichi Hirama (Japan) gave the following results:
1. Liberty 'Odessa' which was in the 1990-th years in the Golden Horn Bay of Vladivostok had been torpedoed on the 4-th of October 1943 at 0.22 a .m. board time approaching the Akhomten Bay, in great probability by US submarine 'S-44'. The submarine perished near Paramushir Island soon ('Odessa' had a shot-hole at the stern and was taken to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and repaired at the ship-repairing yard, constructed before the war).
2. Soviet submarine 'L-16' which was sailing on sea surface position approaching the San-Francisco was sunk on the 11-th of October 1942 by Japanese submarine '1-25'.
3. Dry-cargo ship 'Pavlin Vinogradov' perished on the 22-nd of April 1944 at 5 p.m. board time in the Alaska Gulf. It was torpedoed in great probability by Japanese submarine '1-180', which did not come back to the base either. That's why there is no report of its commander and we cannot state the fact with absolute certainty. 'Pavlin Vinogradov', like 'Mikoian' and 'L-16' was torpedoed in day time in a good visibility.
All this information closed the list of the 'unknown submarines' from the reference book "Ships of Sea Fleet Ministry of the USSR perished in the period of the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945".
The LOSSES at the ALSIB ROUTE
The AMERICAN AIRCRAFTS at the SOVIET FAR EAST
133 aircrafts perished at the American part (data from the President's Reports to Congress) and 81 aircrafts perished at the Soviet part of the ALSIB (data of the report of the Main Department of Civil Air Fleet at the Council of People`s Commissars of USSR 8.01.1946 ).
In spite of Stalin`s prohibition to the Allies on the 18-th of April 1942 an American bomber B-25 that took part at the Raid to Tokyo landed at the Soviet airdrome near Unashi village in Primorye region. The American long distance bombers that took off from “Hornet” aircraft carrier bombed Tokyo and other industrial cities of Japan that day. Like the Soviets during their Raid to Berlin in August 1941. The American bombers had to land at the Chinese airdromes after fulfilling their task. All the aircrafts perished except the landed at Unashi. Due to the wartime laws five pilots of the crew of this aircraft were interned.
During 1942-1945 32 American bombers (B-24, B-25, B-34 types) damaged in the raids to the Japanese fortifications at the Northern Kuril Islands committed emergency landing at Kamchatka . They used to take off from the airdromes that were situated at the Western Aleutian Islands. 242 American pilots were interned.
B-29 heavy bombers “Superfortress” type based at the airdromes in the Western China. They took off from these airdromes to bomb military and industrial objects in Manchuria and Japan. The first American bomber B-29 landed at the Soviet airdrome near Vozdvizhenka village in Primorye region on the 29-th of July 1944, two other bombers landed there in November. One B-29 committed crash landing on the slope of the Sikhote-Alin mountain ridge in taiga. The crew was looked for during a month and finally saved.
The interned Americans were sent to the special camp near Tashkent and from there trough Teheran to the USA. 291 Americans came back this way.
The CASUALTIES during the TRANSPORTING of LEND-LEASE to RUSSIA by SEA
I think that some events that didn`t take place at the Pacific Ocean should be discussed at this lecture. For example, the casualties during the transporting of Lend-Lease to Russia across the Atlantic Ocean . Most of this activity was performed by the Americans.
Only Great Britain knows the exact number of casualties. Winston Churchill wrote about it in his memoirs. The casualties of the merchant marine are 829 men, the navy – 1840 officers and privates (W. Churchill “World War II”, abridged translation from English, Volume 3, M ., 1991, p. 621).
The exact number of casualties of the Soviet Transport Fleet in the North Atlantic and the Western Part of the Soviet Arctic are stated in the reference book "Ships of Sea Fleet Ministry of the USSR perished in the period of the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945": 1500 members of crews and passengers. With the number of casualties of the Soviet Transport Fleet in the Pacific Ocean it is almost 2000 people.
Neither reference books nor American specialists told me the exact number of the American casualties during the transporting of Lend-Lease to Russia across the Atlantic Ocean. Due to the fact the American vessels transported 46,8% of a whole Lend-Lease sent to the Soviet Union the number of casualties of the American civil fleet may be about 15 000 seamen. I suppose that the naval casualties are not less than that. So the approximate number of the American casualties is 30 000 people.
The ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
The Vice-Consul of the American Consulate in St. Petersburg Mr. Tom Liri attended the section of the International Conference organized for my lecture.
At the opening of the Conference the Representative of St. Petersburg city Administration promised to publish the data of the Conference at the Administration`s official website. Unfortunately it did not happen.
After the International Conference in April 2000
this INVESTIGATION has been CONTINUED
In August 2000 the American bomber PV-1 (B-34) type number 34641 and 7 members of its crew were strike off the missing list. It was a result of the search that started in 1999 from my sending videotape to the official of the USA Embassy in Moscow James Connell. There were video and supplementary information about the lost American bomber liing on the slope of Mutnovsky volcano on Kamchatka.
In 2003 it was found out that the Soviet missing in action navy transport “Chukcha” was sank by the American submarine “SS-146” (“S-41”) at nighttime of the 1-st of June 1943 to the east of Paramushir Island. The participants of this investigation were the member of the Professor’s Club of UNESCO Alexandr Gruzdev, Professor Jurgen Rohwer and I.
Liberty “Odessa” was sold for scrap metal in winter 2003-2004. It was the last ship of “Liberty” type in the world.
The LEND-LEASE DEBT
The Russian Federation burdened the debts of all previous states that ever existed on its territory before. The Soviet Lend-Lease debt to the USA was among them. In 1975 it was 674 millions dollars but thirty years later it became several billions because of the inflation.
In 1973 the Encyclopedia Americana published an article about lend-lease by professor Warren F. Kimball. It says: “Although all other lend-lease debts were cancelled by the United States, the Soviet lend-lease debt remained as a minor irritant in Russian-American relations” (“The Encyclopedia Americana”, Volume 17, N-Y. 1973, p. 200).
All the serious researchers admit in their works that the lend-lease was not an insultive form of aid. But the point of view of the author of this article is insultive. According to this article Russian lend-lease debt was not an economic but ideological. The USA had canceled the Allieis` lend-lease debts but the debt of the country that already didn`t exist remained.
In the end of October 1999 the Interfax Agency reported: “The United States of America suggest the Russian party granting them ownership of 5 buildings in Moscow including the Spasohouse mansion (the residence of the American Ambassador in Russia) as a part of paying off of the lend-lease debt”. The suggestion was not accepted.
The Russian Finance Ministry`s letter ¹ 01-02-03/26-65 signed by the Deputy Minister Kolotukhin on the 12-th of 2003 said: “…the lend-lease payments are included in the Russain-American agreements on the restructuring of foreign debt of former USSR signed with the Paris Club of Creditors on the 29 of April 1996 and on the 1 of August 1999. … all the lend-lease payments to the American party are performed according to the schedules of the abovementioned Agreements”.
In April 2006 the president of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin declared that all the debts to the Paris Club of Creditors would have been paid off ahead of the schedule by the end of the year. It meant that the lend-lease debt would have been paid too. In July at the summit in St. Petersburg it was declared that the payments would have been done in August. IT WAS DONE.
The lend-lease debt was paid off with no regarding to the fact that almost half of the losses of the Soviet transport fleet was caused by the activity of the American submarines in the North Pacific.