>> The Unknown World War II in the Northern
The Unknown World War
II in the Northern Pacific
on presentation at the International Scientific and
Practical Conference, “The World War II Results and the
Mission of Securing Peace in the XXI Century”, St.
Petersburg, House of Friendship and Peace, April 27–28,
2000, with additions, corrections, and illustrations.
events of WWII in the Northern Pacific by far remain
largely unknown. This said, the data from the
President’s Reports to Congress on the Lend-Lease
Operations (1) clearly show that nearly half of the
goods destined for the Soviet Union were shipped via the
Pacific Ocean. The goods were directed across the
Pacific Ocean to Soviet Far Eastern ports, and through
the Bering Strait via the Northern Sea Route (1*). The
shipments began as early as June 1941 (2, 3). Starting
in December 1941, until the capitulation of Japan, they
were carried out in the zone of the military operations.
regard to naval and military activity in the Northern
Pacific, a single source of comprehensive and reliable
information simply does not exist. There are multiple
accounts of the Japanese occupation of the Aleutian
Islands of Attu and Kiska and the subsequent combined
U.S. – Canadian campaign against the Japanese forces.
Another well-known episode is the Battle of the
Komandorski Islands in March 1943 (4). Other sources
describe the raids by American bombers from the Aleutian
Islands against Japanese fortifications on the Northern
Kurile Islands, and from western China against the
targets in Japan and Manchuria (5).
obscurity is evident even in the President’s Reports to
Congress (1), which declared no losses on Pacific
routes, including the Siberian leg of ALSIB (Alaska to
Siberia route for ferrying aircraft to the USSR). Such
statistics are extremely difficult to believe. The only
reasonable explanation is that the Soviet side simply
refused to inform their allies about such losses. At
that time, the GULag NKVD (The Chief Administration of
the Camps of the People’s Commissariat of Internal
Affairs) largely controlled Siberia, and any American
attempt to visit the Soviet Far East would be highly
undesirable for Soviet officials.
wartime history of the entire Soviet Far East, as well
as the history of the Soviet Pacific Transport Fleet
operations, was placed off limits by the NKVD. Any
information on the subject remained inaccessible, and
thereby repressed for over half a century.
Altogether, the Allies sent almost 18 million tons of
all sorts of aid to the Soviet Union using various sea
routes (*2). Over a half of this cargo arrived via the
Pacific Ocean. Pacific routes were generally safer than
the Atlantic ones. About 500,000 tons were lost in the
Atlantic, while the losses on the Pacific routes were
one-tenth that large (2, 3). The military and strategic
resource aid to the Soviet Union came mainly from the
United States. The Lend- Lease Program was commenced on
1 October 1941, but some goods had been moved prior to
that date under a “cash and carry” agreement.
–Lease was a form of military assistance of the United
States to its Allies in forming and fighting anti-Hitler
coalition. It was the currency-free mutual exchange of
goods and services where the payments would be postponed
until after the war, and completed in installments over
many years. Anything lost in battle or during the
delivery was to be excluded from the calculations.
map by Robert H. Jones (2) depicts the distribution of
the aid for the USSR among different routes:
is equal to 2,240 pounds or 1,016 kg
author’s remark: the route via Mediterranean and Black
Sea opened up after the end of the hostilities in Europe
in May 1945, and had been functioning until September
important men of the sea at the Soviet Far East:
Alexander Afanasiev, the head of Far Eastern State
Shipping Company at the beginning of the war (left), and
Admiral Ivan Yumashev, Commander of Soviet Pacific
Fleet. As of 1942, A. Afanasiev became a Deputy of the
People’s Comissar of the Soviet Merchant Fleet and
Authorized Representative of the State Defense Committee
which entitled him to supervise the Soviet sea
transportation in its entirety. After the war Alexander
Afanasiev became a Minister of the Soviet Merchant
Fleet, and Admiral I. Yumashev became the
Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Naval Forces. Photo
from the author’s archive.
Carriers of the Pacific Route
deal of controversy exists on the subject of who exactly
performed the task of transporting the aid across the
Michael N. Suprun, Professor of the Department of Native
History of Pomorsky University in Archangelsk, states
that the Americans carried out the delivery of the
USSR-bound cargo to Soviet Far Eastern ports prior to
the Pearl Harbor attack (6).
Richard J. Overy, professor of the New History of the
London King’s College (*3), writes that after December
1941, almost all the shipments in the Pacific Ocean were
carried out by the United States (7).
The truth of the matter is that only vessels under
Soviet flag, manned by Soviet crews, carried out the
entire USSR-bound Pacific shipping. Just as it was
stated in the Report of the People’s Commissariat of
External Trade: “Soviet steamers, exclusively” (8).
There were no convoys. The vessels sailed across the
ocean one by one without any escort, although many
historians and officials still write about “Pacific
convoys” in their publications.
Just as it was the case with the Atlantic cargo vessels,
the ships had protective armament and military squads
aboard. Many Soviet merchant sailors obtained military
professions in Armed Guard Center of San-Francisco.
of Soviet merchant sailors after completion of gunnery
course at the Armed Guard Center of San Francisco. Photo
from the author’s archive.
By November 1942, the Allies had officially refused the
old and slow-going Soviet vessels to participate in
Atlantic convoys. By then, the USA, Great Britain and
Canada had established mass production of welded, heavy
tonnage dry-cargo ships and tankers. From December 1942
onward, the Atlantic convoys were formed from those
newly built ships. The inbound convoys now
re-abbreviated “JW” from the previous “PQ”, operated
during the polar nights only. As a result, the losses on
the sea routes to Murmansk and Arkhangelsk had decreased
beginning of 1943, those Soviet merchant vessels that
had not been destroyed or mobilized to the Soviet Navy,
as well as those excluded from JW convoys, were
transferred to the Far Eastern State Shipping Company
(FESCO). In June 1941 there were total of 85 vessels in
the FESCO fleet. During 1941–45, 39 more vessels were
transferred to FESCO from other Soviet steamship
companies. Lend-leased American ships began joining
FESCO fleet beginning in 1942. At first, they were old
American vessels, repaired under the auspices of the
so-called Special Program. Beginning in January 1943,
the Soviet Government Purchasing Commission in the USA
started to receive brand-new heavy tonnage dry-cargo
ships of the Liberty class and tankers. Altogether, 128
vessels were received in different U.S. ports under
Lend-Lease Law (9).
Number of ships
“Krasnogvardeets” was the first “Liberty”- class
freighter, purchased for FESCO. Pictured in the vicinity
of Seattle by the U. S. Navy patrol plane. The wartime
livery includes Red Soviet flag and Black letters “USSR”
on White. At night these signs were lit with bright
lamps, suspended from the sides. The vessel is flying
identification signals “UOJC” in lieu of the name, which
was painted over. Bow and stern guns are clearly
visible. (via Boris Ilchenko)
Alexey Yaskevich, the first captain of
“Krasnogvardeets”, photo from the author’s archive.
“Jean Jaurès”, the second “Liberty”- class freighter,
purchased for FESCO, and its captain Anna Shchetinina,
photos from the author’s archive.
The fleet of Dalstroy NKVD (Far Eastern Gold Mining
Company of the People’s Commissariat of Internal
Affairs) also participated in cargo transportation
across the Pacific Ocean. This fleet consisted of four
heavy tonnages, high-speed vessels. They worked on the
America – Vladivostok line throughout the war, and alone
hauled close to 500,000 tons of cargo (10).
“Felix Dzerzhinsky”, photo from the author’s archive.
“Dalstroy” in wartime livery, photo from the author’s
In accordance with the Lend-Lease Agreement, American
and Canadian shipyards performed repair work on the
Soviet vessels. Some 30 Soviet fishing and factory ships
of People’s Commissariat of Fishing Industry were
repaired under this program, and always returned home
with Lend-Lease cargo aboard. Outside the fishing
season, transport ships of fishing companies continued
to function as cargo carriers. In addition, two
refrigerated vessels of Vostokrybkholodflot (East
Fishery Refrigerated Fleet) and a tanker of AKO Fleet
(Kamchatka Joint-Stock Company) worked on the America –
Vladivostok route continuously.
Ship “Pischevaya Industriya”, photo from the author’s
Freighter “Yakut” of AKO Fleet made three round trips
across the Pacific Ocean during the war, photo from the
to the data of the President’s Reports, the amount of
cargo loaded onto Soviet vessels for crossing the
Pacific Ocean during the war was 124 times the amount
sent with the Soviet ships via Atlantic routes. Without
much of exaggeration, this extraordinary effort could
rightfully be called the Pacific Transport Épopée*.
*Épopée (French, from Greek εποποιία): a series of grand
scale events, usually- military deeds, as well as
literature, describing it.
The following map “The Routes of Pacific Transport
Épopée” («Маршруты Тихоокеанской транспортной эпопеи»),
was published in my book «Lend-Lease. Pacific Ocean»
(Moscow. 1998, p. 18) and in the Historical and
Geographical Atlas «Kamchatka XVII—XX Centuries»
(Moscow. 1997, p. 94). It was updated in accordance with
new research discoveries in 2003.
Routes of Pacific Transport Épopée
Lend-Lease cargo arrived to the Soviet Far East from
numerous ports of the West Coast of the USA and Canada,
as well as from the East Coast of the USA via the Panama
Canal. The ships steamed north along the American West
Coast, and then continued on westward toward the
Aleutian chain. Near Unalaska Island, regardless of the
season, they passed into the Bering Sea.
During the summer navigational season, a portion of the
vessels sailed north from Unalaska to Providence Bay,
the harbor on the southern coast of Chukchi Peninsula.
This was the gathering point for Northern Sea Route
caravans. Only ice navigation-proficient pilots could
lead those caravans. They steamed via the Bering Strait
into the Arctic Ocean. In the mouths of large Siberian
rivers, the cargo was transferred onto river vessels and
barges. This was the principal supply route for the
Alaska-Siberian aircraft ferrying route. Therefore,
ALSIB itself was a part of the Pacific Transport Épopée.
The majority of the vessels steamed west from Unalaska,
then went around the Komandorski Islands, and continued
south along the Kamchatka coast. Vladivostok was the
principal port of destination due to the convenience of
the Trans-Siberian Railway.
In the wintertime, traffic across the Sea of Okhotsk and
La Perouse Strait to Vladivostok was halted by difficult
The Japanese closed the unfrozen Tsugaru Strait to
Soviet navigation, although Japan and the USSR were not
at war until August of 1945. The route around the
Japanese Islands through the Korea (Tsushima) Strait
took much longer and was more dangerous. In the winter
the ships were fully unloaded in the port of
Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, and returned to the U.S. ports
for another load of cargo.
The Japanese Navy and Coast Guard inspected Soviet ships
passing via La Perouse Strait. Only non-military cargo
could be transported on that route. In the summertime
the vessels with military and strategical cargo had to
be partially unloaded in Petropavlovsk to reduce draft,
and continued on across the Sea of Okhotsk, through the
shallow waters of Amur Liman (*4) into the Strait of
Tatary toward Vladivostok.
The cargo ships also entered the port of Petropavlovsk
to coal, fuel, and replenish stocks of fresh water on
board. They were often called in to await the resolution
of frequent traffic congestion in the port of
Vladivostok, especially during the first months of the
Port of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. Koryaksky and
Avachinsky volcanoes dominate the background, and
reflect in the waters of Avacha Bay (Avachinskaya Guba)
(photo by Alla Paperno).
approaches to Petropavlovsk, Vladivostok and other Far
East ports during the war were protected by minefields.
Naval pilots navigated ships into the ports. In
Kamchatka their station was located in Akhomten Bay,
south of Petropavlovsk. (It is known today as Russian
Bay). There, caravans of 3–5 vessels were assembled, and
a naval pilot led them through the passages in the
minefields to Avacha Bay. The station of the convoy
officer was also located in Akhomten Bay. His function
was to instruct the captains of the vessels on the route
to their destination.
Freighters steamed around Cape Lopatka, then turned
north along the western coast of Kamchatka. Vessels
bound for Magadan continued from there to the port of
Nagaevo. The remaining ships changed their course at the
directed point in the northern waters of the Sea of
Okhotsk. Vessels with military and strategic cargo
aboard went along the Amur Estuary into the Strait of
Tatary. General cargo freighters sailed via La Perouse
Strait. From La Perouse, Tatary and Korea Straits, they
proceeded to the Bay of Valentine. From there naval
pilots took the lead of the 3–5-vessel caravans through
the protective minefields to Vladivostok.
that was unloaded in Petropavlovsk and Magadan made its
way to Vladivostok during the summer by the ships of
Nikolaevsk-on-Amur Steamship Company, which operated
only inshore navigation vessels.
number of freighters, arriving from the USA, unloaded
their cargo onto river vessels and barges in the port of
Nikolaevsk-on-Amur. Then the goods were delivered
upstream on the Amur River to Komsomolsk and Khabarovsk.
The construction of the railway from Komsomolsk to
Sovetskaya Gavan (Soviet Harbor) was initiated during
The Volumes of Transportation
WWII, the port of Vladivostok turned over more than 10
million tons of cargo, 79 percent of it imported. The
port processed 32,000 freighters; it loaded and sent on
the Trans-Siberian Railway almost 400,000 railroad cars
(covered and flatbeds). In comparison, during the same
time period, the port of Murmansk handled just over 2
million tons of imported goods (11). The Arkhangelsk
group of ports (5*) processed another 1.7 million tons
beginning of the war, the port of
Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky had a single wooden
non-mechanized berth. Nevertheless, it processed the
bulk of over 2 million tons of imported cargo, according
to data from the State Archives of Kamchatka Region. To
achieve such a result, a modern merchant seaport was
built in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky during the war. It had
the capacity of one million tons of freight per year
with six mechanized berths. The construction took just
over two years to complete.
multitude of other Far Eastern ports, railways,
airfields and roads were built or remodeled during the
Vladivostok and the Far Eastern Railway transported four
times the amount of cargo of Murmansk and Kirovsk
Railway, and five times of the Arkhangelsk group of
ports and Northern Railway.
Losses of the Soviet Cargo Fleet
historians are contented with the notion that the North
Pacific routes were very safe. But does this correspond
with the facts?
1941–44, the Japanese Navy and Coast Guard stopped and
detained Soviet transport ships 178 times for periods
from several hours to several months (9, p. 197).
Submarines of the combatant states patrolled the area.
The great sea battle of Komandorsky Islands took place
near the routes of Soviet vessels. A total of 23 Soviet
ships were lost in the Pacific Ocean. Of those, nine
were stranded on the rocks by storms, crushed by ice
floes or blown in Soviet minefields. The remaining 14
were destroyed either by enemy action or friendly fire.
December 1941, the Soviet freighters Krechet, Svirstroy,
Sergei Lazo and Simferopol were undergoing repairs in
the port of Hong Kong, when the Japanese captured the
city. The vessels were destroyed by Japanese artillery.
same month of December 1941, the freighter Perekop and
the tanker Maikop were sunk by Japanese aviation in the
South China Sea and near the Philippine Islands,
(via Boris Ilchenko)
Japanese submarine I-162 torpedoed the freighter
Mikoyan, which sank on 3 October 1942 in the Bay of
years later, after the end of WWII, it became clear that
U.S. submarines sank six Soviet freighters and one
fishing vessel near Japanese shores. The U.S.
submariners’ battle slogan was: “Sink ‘em all!” They had
sunk a lot of their own cargo ships in the southern
Pacific zone of war operations. As a rule, Soviet
vessels underwent American torpedo attacks in bad
visibility conditions: in fog or at night.
is the list of the Soviet vessels that were lost to
Angarstroy — May 1, 1942, East China Sea, to the U.S.
submarine SS-210 Grenadier
Kola, Ilmen — February 16 and 17, 1943, Pacific Ocean,
Seiner #20 — July 9, 1943, Sea of Japan, SS-178 Permit
Belorussia — March 3, 1944, Sea of Okhotsk, SS-381 Sand
Ob— July 6, 1944, Sea of Okhotsk, SS-281 Sunfish
Transbalt— June 13, 1945, Sea of Japan, SS-411 Spadefish
“Transbalt”, photo from the author’s archive.
Memorial to the lost ships of Soviet Merchant Fleet,
Vladivostok. “Transbalt” plate (photo by Alla Paperno).
According to the reference book of the USSR Merchant
Fleet Ministry (12), a total of 240 crewmembers and
passengers were lost on the Soviet ships that were sunk
in the Pacific. 145 of them perished from the American
extensive study of the subject in 1997–99, in
collaboration with fellow researchers Richard Russell
and John Alden from the USA, Professor Jürgen Rohwer
from Germany, and Professor Yoichi Hirama from Japan,
revealed the following findings:
October 4, 1943: Liberty-class freighter Odessa was
torpedoed on approach to Akhomten Bay at 00:22 a.m.
board time. Most likely, it was attacked by the U.S.
submarine S-44. The submarine itself sank soon
thereafter near Paramushir Island. Odessa, with a large
hole at the stern, was towed to
Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. Subsequently the vessel was
fully repaired at the ship-repair yard constructed
before the war. Odessa was last seen in Golden Horn Bay
of Vladivostok as late as 2003, before being cut for
in Vladivostok, 2001 (photo by Alla Paperno).
2. In the
fall of 1942, six submarines of Soviet Pacific fleet
sailed across the Pacific Ocean, Panama Canal, and
Atlantic Ocean to Polyarny naval base near Murmansk.
L-15 and L-16 departed from Petropavlovsk- Kamchatsky;
S-51, S-54, S-55, and S-56- from Vladivostok. On October
11, 1942 L-16 was torpedoed by Japanese submarine I-25
on the approach to San Francisco while sailing in
surface position, and sank.
to L-16 in Petropavlovsk- Kamchatsky (photo by Alla
22, 1944: dry-cargo ship Pavlin Vinogradov was subject
to a torpedo attack in the Gulf of Alaska at 5 p.m.
board time. Most probably, it was torpedoed by Japanese
submarine I-180, which failed to return to its base.
Since no reports of the attack exist, its certainty is
not absolute. Just like the Mikoyan and L-16, Pavlin
Vinogradov was torpedoed in daylight in good visibility
now, these three vessels were accounted as “sunk by
unknown submarines” (15). New discoveries, made in
collaboration with my international research colleagues,
solved another mystery of WWII.
Losses on the ALSIB Route
aircraft were lost on the American section of the ALSIB,
and 81 aircraft lost on the Soviet segment of the route
American Aircraft in the Soviet Far East
beginning of the war, the U.S. Government approached
Moscow to allow the U.S. Army Air Corps to use Soviet
airfields at the Far East for refueling after bombing
missions to Japan and China. In the face of Neutrality
Pact between the USSR and Japan, permission was not
granted. In spite of Stalin’s prohibition, on 18 April
1942, an American medium range B-25 bomber landed at a
Soviet airfield in Primorye region. That day 16 B-25s
took off from the aircraft carrier Hornet and bombed
targets in Tokyo, Yokohama, Yokosuka, Nagoya, Kobe and
Osaka. The mission was secretly designed in response to
the Pearl Harbor attack, and led by Lieutenant Colonel
Jimmy Doolittle. Similarly to the Soviet bombing raid on
Berlin in August 1941, it did not do much damage to the
enemy, but had overwhelming morale-boosting effect for
U.S. military personnel and the civilian population. The
mission was nearly suicidal: the bombers neither could
land back on the aircraft carrier nor could they return
to the U.S. mainland due to the lack of fuel. After
executing the mission, crews of 15 bombers reached China
and either bailed out or crash-landed there. The only
surviving aircraft was the one that landed at Soviet
airfield in the vicinity of Vladivostok. In accordance
with the wartime laws, the Soviet authorities interned
its five crewmembers.
AAF serial number 40-2242, piloted by Capt. Edward J.
York, аt Soviet airfield near Unashi village in the
vicinity of Vladivostok (via Ilya Grinberg)
During 1943–45, U.S. Army Air Corps and U.S. Navy planes
regularly conducted bombing raids on Japanese
fortifications in the Northern Kurile Islands from
airfields in the western Aleutians. Thirty-two
battle-damaged American bombers of B-24, B-25, and PV-1
types carried out emergency landing at Kamchatka,
resulting in the internment of 242 American crewmembers.
B-29 “Superfortress” bombers operated from the airfields
of western China against military and industrial
facilities in Manchuria and Japan. On July 29, 1944, one
of them landed at the Soviet air base near Vozdvizhenka
village in Primorye region. Two other “Superfortresses”
followed suit in November. Another battle-damaged B-29
crashed on the slopes of Sikhote-Alin mountain ridge.
The crew bailed out over taiga, and wandered in the
woods in separate groups for nearly a month. Eventually
everyone was rescued by the combined efforts of
crewmembers, local indigenous people and the VVS (Soviet
Vozdvizhenka (via Ilya Grinberg)
Colonel (then-Major) Solomon Reidel of VVS, ferried the
interned B-29 to Moscow. Under the personal order of
Josef Stalin, the aircraft was fully disassembled and
reverse-engineered into the Tu-4, the first Soviet
long-range bomber with nuclear-carrying capacities. The
work was performed under supervision of famous plane
designer Andrey Tupolev (Photo from the author’s
All interned Americans were sent across Siberia to
Uzbekistan, to a remote camp near Tashkent, which was
established specifically for them. From there the NKVD
staged four “escapes” of the internees across the border
to Iran, then to the British occupation zone south of
Tehran, and eventually to the USA. 291 American airmen
returned home this way (5). Their return was a matter of
utmost secrecy in order not to compromise the
Soviet–Japanese Neutrality Pact, which was one of the
fundamental conditions for uninterrupted use of the
The Lend-Lease Debt
collapse of the Soviet Union the Russian Federation
accepted 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
million dollars, but 30 years later this amount had
inflated into a few billions (6*). In 1973 the
Encyclopedia Americana published an article about
lend-lease by Professor Warren F. Kimball with following
statement: “Although all other lend-lease debts were
canceled by the United States, the Soviet lend-lease
debt remained as a minor irritant in Russian–American
relations”(14). All the serious researchers admit that
lend-lease was not an insulting form of aid. However,
Professor Kimball’s point of view is rather insulting.
According to his article, the Soviet lend-lease debt
became not an economical, but an ideological one. The
USA had canceled all Allies’ lend-lease debts, except
for the debt of its ideological adversary of the time.
The debt was not canceled even after the USSR ceased to
exist, and the general political climate had warmed up.
At the end of October 1999, the United States Government
suggested the Russian side grant them ownership of five
buildings in Moscow, including the Spaso House mansion
(the residence of the American Ambassador to Russia) to
pay off of the lend-lease debt balance. This suggestion
was not accepted. The Russian Finance Ministry’s letter
№ 01-02-03/26-65, signed by Deputy Minister Kolotukhin
on February 12, 2003, said: “…the lend-lease payments
are included in the Russian–American agreements on the
restructuring of foreign debt of the former USSR signed
with the Paris Club of Creditors on 29 April, 1996, and
as of 1 August, 1999, … all the lend-lease payments to
the American party are being paid according to the
schedules of the above mentioned Agreements.”
In April 2006, the president of the Russian Federation
Vladimir Putin declared that all the debts to the Paris
Club of Creditors would be paid off ahead of the
schedule by the end of the year. It meant that the
lend-lease debt would be paid, too. In July, at the
summit in St. Petersburg, it was declared that the
payments would be completed in August 2006. It was done.
The lend-lease debt was paid off without acknowledgement
of the fact that almost half of the losses of the Soviet
transport fleet were caused by the activity of American
submarines in the North Pacific.
Casualties in the Atlantic during the Lend-Lease Aid
Transportation to the USSR
subject should also be mentioned here, even though it is
not related to the events in the Pacific Ocean. It is
the Allies’ casualties during the transporting of
Lend-Lease aid to the USSR across the Atlantic Ocean
(*7). The Americans performed most of Atlantic
transportation, but only the Great Britain and the USSR
calculated the exact number of their casualties.
On October 7, 1990, the Moscow News published an article
“The Truth Does Not Diminish Your Sacrifice,” written by
Australian journalist John Dale. He stated that over
30,000 British and American merchant seamen perished
while delivering Lend- Lease aid to the Soviet Union.
According to Sir Winston Churchill’s memoirs, the
British merchant marine lost 829 men, while the Royal
Navy lost 1,840 officers and enlisted men carrying out
convoy escort duties on the North Atlantic route (15),
Soviet Transport Fleet lost almost 1,500 crewmembers and
passengers in the North Atlantic and the western part of
the Soviet Arctic (12). Along with the casualties of the
Soviet Transport Fleet in the Pacific Ocean, the total
is almost 2,000 people.
number of American casualties in the Atlantic during the
transporting of Lend-Lease aid to Russia could not be
found in reference books, or estimated by the American
experts. Knowing the fact that American vessels
transported 46.8 percent of all Lend-Lease aid sent to
the Soviet Union, and the British ships constituted
about 3 percent, the proportional number of casualties
of the U.S. Merchant Marine could be estimated to be as
many as 15,000 seamen. This number constitutes only a
half of the 30,000 British and American casualties
reported by the Australian journalist.
set aside John Dale’s number for a moment. Let’s suppose
that the U.S. Navy losses were similar to those of
American Merchant Marine: the total number of American
casualties would then come up to 30,000 seamen (*9).
separate section of the International Conference in St.
Petersburg in April 2000 was organized for my
presentation of this article. The Vice-Consul of the
American Consulate in St. Petersburg, Mr. Thomas Leary,
attended it in person. At the opening ceremony, the
representative of St. Petersburg City Administration
promised to publish the materials of the Conference at
the City Administration‘s official website.
Unfortunately, it never happened.
International Conference, this investigation has been
continued. In August 2000, the U.S. Navy PV-1 type
bomber (Bureau Number 34641) and its seven-man crew were
taken off the list of missing in action. I initiated
this search in 1999 by sending videotape with a
recording from the crash site to James G Connell Jr,
Support Director for
US-Russia Joint Commission on
POW/MIAs. (Prior to that, Mr. Connell already had helped
me to establish contacts with American military
historians and researchers). The video contained images
of the lost American bomber resting on the slope of
Mutnovsky volcano in Kamchatka, with some supplemental
information. Two subsequent U.S. expeditions to the site
confirmed the identities of the perished crewmembers
it was discovered, that Soviet navy cargo vessel Chukcha
was sunk to the east of Paramushir Island by the
American submarine SS-146 (S-41) on the night of June 1,
1943. Alexander Gruzdev, a member of the Professor’s
Club of UNESCO, professor Jürgen Rohwer, Sea Captain
Anatoly Shashkun of Petropavlovsk- Kamchatsky, and
myself were the principal participants of this
Liberty-class steamer Odessa was sold for scrap metal in
the winter of 2003–04. It was the last ship of the
Liberty class in the former Soviet Union.
Reports to Congress on Lend- Lease operations. Messages
from the Presidents of the United States, U. S.
Government Printing Office. Washington, D.C. 1941–1957.
2. The Roads to Russia: United States Lend-Lease to the
Soviet Union, by Robert H. Jones, University of Oklahoma
3. The Persian Corridor and Aid to Russia, by T.H. Vail
Motter, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
4. The Battle of Komandorski Islands, March 1943, by
John A. Lorelli, Naval Institute Press. Annapolis,
Maryland. Third printing 1989.
5. Home from Siberia, by Otis Hays, Jr., Texas. A&M
University Press. 1990.
6. Ленд-Лиз и северные конвои, 1941–1945 гг. (Lend-Lease
and Northern Convoys, 1941–1945) (Мoscow, 1997, pp. 74,
7. “Сотрудничество: торговля, помощь, технология” в
сборнике Союзники в войне 1941–1945 (Cooperation: trade,
aid, technology,” in the collection Allies in War,
1941–1945) (Moscow, 1995), p. 236.
8. АВП, ф. “Секретариат тов. В.М. Молотова” (Arkhiv
Vneshney Politiki or Foreign Policy Archive), Collection
of the Secretariat of V. M. Molotov, index 4, folder
104, sheet 96.
9. «ДВМП 1880-1980» DVMP 1880-1980 (Dalnevostochnoe
Morskoye Parohodstvo or Far-Eastern Shipping Company),
Vladivostok, 1980, pp.194, 237.
Государственный Архив Магаданской Области (State Archive
of Magadan Oblast), Collection Р-23, including documents
4196, 4206, 4225, 4244, 4245, 4268, 4286, 4301.
(RGAE, Russian State Archive of Economics), Collection
8045, index 3, folder 1366, sheet 11.
12. Справочник «Суда Министерства Морского флота,
погибшие в период Великой Отечественной войны 1941-1945
гг.» Suda Ministerstva Morskogo Flota, Pogibshiye v
Period Velikoy Otechestvennoy Voyny 1941 – 1945 gg.
(Reference Book "Ships of the Ministry of Merchant Fleet
Lost During the Great Patriotic War 1941- 1945"),
Доклад Главного управления Гражданского воздушного флота
(ГВФ) при Совете народных комиссаров СССР от 8.01.1946
г. Doklad Glavnogo Upravleniya Grazhdanskogo Vozdushnogo
Flota (GVF) pri Sovete narodnykh Komissarov SSSR ot
8.01.1946 g. (Report of the Main Directorate of the
Civil Air Fleet (GVF) of the Council of Peoples’
Commissars of the USSR from August 1, 1946).
Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 17, New York, 1973, p.
15. В. Черчилль, «Вторая Мировая война», сокращенный
перевод с английского.
(W. Churchill, World War II, abridged translation from
English to Russian, Volume 3), (Moscow, 1991, p. 621).
*1. The Pacific Route is rather a general term often
used in English literature on Lend-Lease. In reality,
the delivery of aid to the Soviet Union via the Pacific
Ocean was undertaken using several routes, described in
details in this article.
*2. In original wording of President’s “Report To
Congress On Lend-Lease Operations” the lend-lease aid
was categorized as:
(Ordnance, Ammunition, Aircraft, Tanks, Motor Vehicles,
2) Industrial Items
(Machinery, Metals, Petroleum products, Other)
3) Agricultural products
4) Shipping and services
Source: Ninth report to Congress on Lend-Lease
Operations For the Period Ended April 30, 1943.
*3. Currently Professor Richard J. Overy is with Exeter
*4. Many Russian geographical names have more than one
spelling variant in English. For example, the Strait of
Tatary is often called the Strait of Tartary, while Amur
Liman is russified translation of Amur Delta (Estuary).
Similarly, the city of Arkhangelsk is often spelled as
Archangel, especially in British literature.
*5. The Arkhangelsk group of ports includes Arkhangelsk,
Bakaritsa, Economia, and Molotovsk, all located on the
Dvina River within 50 km of the White Sea. The port of
Molotovsk was renamed Severodvinsk in 1957.
*6. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics database
and Consumer Price Index inflation calculator, 674
million dollars of 1975 would inflate to 2,526,620,000
U. S. Dollars by the year 2006.
*7. Transportation of the supplies to the Soviet Union
from North America, the United Kingdom, and Iceland via
the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans and neighboring seas is
commonly described in English literature as Arctic
convoys, or the Murmansk Run.
*8. Hughes, Terry and Costello, John. The Battle of the
Atlantic, (New York: Dial Press, 1977) indicate 30,132
casualties to personnel of British merchant ships in
1939-1945 from all causes. Miller, Nathan. Also, War at
Sea - A Naval History of World War II (New York:
Scribner, 1995) reports 5,151 Allied casualties in the
Atlantic Ocean from 1939 to 1945.
*9. U.S. mariners suffered the highest rate of
casualties of any service in World War II, but
unfortunately, the U.S. Merchant Marine had no official
historians and researchers, thus casualty statistics
vary. The website dedicated to the history and
statistics of the U.S. Merchant Marine
http://www.usmm.org/, indicates a total of 171 damaged
or sunk U.S. ships in the North Atlantic (1939-45).
According to this source, the casualties in the North
Atlantic from 1941–45 included at least 4,389 men, not
counting German POWs on board the sunken ships. The data
appears to be last updated in 2004–05.
*10. The events of the crash site investigation were
described in details in Ralph Wetterhahn’s book “The
Last Flight of Bomber 31” (Caroll & Graf Publishers; 1st
MD with valuable contributions by James Gebhardt and Ilya Grinberg
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