THOSE WHO STEPPED INTO IMMORTALITY: Heroic Nikolaev Landing

NEW – June 5, 2022

One of the most important episodes of the battle for Right-Bank Ukraine was the Odessa offensive operation of 1944. During it, Soviet troops, having advanced 180 kilometres, liberated the Nikolaev and Odessa regions, as well as a significant part of Moldova, from the fascist invaders. This grandiose success of the Red Army began with the battles for the city of Nikolaev, where Soviet soldiers showed massive heroism, demonstrated examples of endurance and military skill. And the immortalised feat of the naval infantry detachment – the Olshansky landing force – became one of the symbols of the city, the liberation of which opened the way for the Red Army to Odessa.

The documents were provided by the Central Archive of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation and the Department for Perpetuating the Memory of those who Perished in the Defence of the Motherland.


THE NIKOLAEV LANDING

During the liberation of Nikolaev, the Soviet command carried out a unique operation – a detachment of paratroopers of Senior Lieutenant Konstantin Olshansky landed in the enemy’s rear and was able to cut off enemy communications and, restraining a tenfold superior enemy for several days, was able to divert fascist forces from the front.

Report on the combat operations of the 384th separate Marine Battalion to liberate the city of Nikolaev

For this operation, 55 servicemen volunteered from the 384th Separate Naval Infantry Battalion; the detachment also included 10 sappers, two signalmen and a guide from among local fishermen. All the naval infantrymen who participated in the task were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. Most of them – posthumously.

Hero paratroopers

Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR from April 20, 1945 on conferring the title of Hero of the Soviet Union to officers, seniors and enlisted personnel of the Naval Forces

All participants of the amphibious operation were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. This document contains the names of 55 of them.

Mikhail Ivanovich AVRAMENKO – Red Army naval infantryman

Yury Egorovich LISITSYN – Petty Officer of the 1st class

Konstantin Fyodorovich OLSHANSKY – Senior Lieutenant

Exceptional feat, heroism, love for the Motherland

Report on the combat operations of the 384th Separate Naval Infantry Battalion for the liberation of the city of Nikolaev

The document describes in great detail the plan and course of the amphibious operation. Attached to it are the orders of the headquarters of the 384th Separate Naval Infantry Battalion, the combat action plans of the detachment, information about its armament and the amount of ammunition taken, as well as an act of investigation of the heroic feat of the paratroopers, which says about one of the hardest moments when the sailors swore to fight to the last:

“Most of the personnel were killed and disabled. The remnants of the heroically fighting paratroopers at the most critical moments, when they were asked to surrender, signed an oath: ‘(…) We, soldiers and officer-sailors of comrade Olshansky’s detachment, swear before the Motherland that we will fight for our capital, Nikolaev, to the last drop of blood, not sparing our lives.” “On the night of March 25-26, on (…) fishing boats, which were represented by the army, the detachment of Senior Lieutenant comrade Olshansky (…) went on course to Nikolaev. (…)

The task of the detachment was as follows: to disrupt the enemy’s combat control, interrupt communications, strike at the German defence from the rear and assist the advancing Red Army units in capturing the city of Nikolaev. Upon the landing of the landing party in Nikolaev, the Red Army had to launch a decisive offensive (…) The detachment at 0:00 on March 26 landed on the shore without giving themselves away. During the liberation of Nikolaev, the Soviet command carried out a unique operation – a detachment of paratroopers of Senior Lieutenant Konstantin Olshansky landed in the enemy’s rear and was able to cut off enemy communications and, restraining a tenfold superior enemy for several days, was able to divert fascist forces from the front.

For two days, the detachment heroically fought against the Nazi invaders. The enemy pulled down infantry, artillery, mortars, flamethrowers to the regiment and began the assault, but the hero sailors continued the unequal fight. They repulsed 18 enemy attacks, destroyed up to 700 soldiers and officers, thereby facilitating the successful offensive of the Red Army and the capture of the city of Nikolaev”.

GRAVES OF LIBERATING HEROES

Liberating their native land from fascist penal servitude, the soldiers and commanders of the Red Army selflessly gave their lives and shed blood. In order to preserve their selfless feat and military valour for centuries, grateful descendants erected monuments next to their graves, and memorial complexes were arranged nearby. Thus, in Nikolaev the Square of Paratroopers, the Burial Mound of Glory and many other military burials were equipped.

The Square of Paratroopers at the intersection of Admiralskaya Street and Sobornaya (formerly Sovetskaya) Street

This memorial complex next to a communal grave is dedicated to the heroic feat of the naval infantry detachment of Senior Lieutenant Konstantin Olshansky, who before the storming of the city was thrown into the Nazi rear, where he held down huge enemy forces for two days. 55 sailor-paratroopers are buried here, as well as the guide of the detachment from local fishermen – A. I. Andreyev.

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The tombstones of the complex are made of granite and are arranged in a U-shaped row, in the middle of which there is a horizontal stele with the Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union and the inscription: “Eternal memory to the heroes who fell in the battles for our Soviet Motherland”. The eternal flame burns in front of the stele.

The registration card of the military burial on Stepovaya Street

The military burial at the city cemetery consists of four communal graves fenced with a granite border, on which plaques with the names of the fallen soldiers are installed.

A symbolic eternal flame in the form of a torch is installed on top of the graves. In total, the remains of 1,250 soldiers and commanders of the Red Army found rest here. At the entrance to the memorial complex, a granite stele is installed on a single-stage pedestal.

The military burial is completed with a triangular obelisk. The authors of the complex: sculptor A. A. Koptev, architect I. I. Peisakhis.

The Burial Mound of Glory on Stepovaya Street

The complex is dedicated to the underground workers of the city of Nikolaev. The local communal grave is fenced with a granite border. A metal wreath is installed on top of the artificial burial mound.

In front of it is a rectangular obelisk with a bas-relief of a grieving mother.

128 Soviet citizens who gave their lives in the fight against the Fascist invaders are buried here.
The authors of the complex: sculptor O. A. Zdikhovsky, architect I. I. Peisakhis.

The registration card of the military burial on Sergey Tsvetok (formerly Tukhachevsky) Street

The remains of 151 Soviet servicemen are buried here.

To the right of the communal grave on a pedestal there is a sculpture of a warrior with his head uncovered, holding a tilted banner. Authors: sculptures O. A. Zdikhovsky, architect I. I. Peisakhis.

GERMAN-FASCIST OCCUPATION

Report to the Main Political Directorate of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army from March 31 , 1944

Residents of Nikolaev met their liberators with great joy. Every home for the Soviet soldier was open as for the most welcome guest: his arrival meant the end of the atrocities and humiliations that the townspeople were subjected to from the German-fascist invaders.

“For more than two and a half years, the German-fascist occupiers were in charge of this city. During this time, and especially before leaving the city, the Germans inflicted severe wounds on it, turning entire neighbourhoods into piles of ruins, destroying large enterprises, institutions, hospitals and schools.

Tens of thousands of Soviet citizens of Nikolaev were taken into German-fascist slavery, many thousands were shot and tortured in the dungeons of the Gestapo (…). During the fascist occupation on Khersonskaya Street and Sovietskaya Street, the Gestapo hung 15-20 Soviet citizens for not wanting to recognise the new order of the Fascist occupiers and not wanting to work for them (…).

The Germans set up a concentration camp in the former naval hospital. Prisoners of the Red Army, city dwellers, as well as citizens evacuated from other cities – all those who were objectionable to the German invaders – were herded here. Few managed to get out of here alive. About 5,000 corpses of Soviet citizens were buried in the area of the naval hospital.

The Nazis also carried out the mass destruction of Soviet citizens in the area of the airfield behind the Ingul Bridge. During the two and a half years of occupation, the Germans shot about 25,000 Soviet citizens here. Eyewitnesses say that about three months before their departure, the Nazis tried to cover up the traces of their crimes. They began to open graves and pull out corpses. The fascists poured fuel oil over whole stacks of corpses and burned them. A heavy smell of burnt meat hung over the city for a whole month”.

MILITARY VALOUR AND HEROISM OF SOVIET SOLDIERS

Nikolay Ivanovich BELEVSKY – Guards Senior Sergeant

On the night of March 27-28, 1944, Soviet units were tasked with storming the city of Nikolaev. The commander of the guard platoon, Senior Sergeant Nikolay Belevsky, after conducting reconnaissance, attacked the enemy and broke through its defence line, thereby allowing the main forces to break into the city with small losses.

Clearing house after house, his platoon was the first to get to the shore of the Southern Bug and at the same time destroyed about 120 fascists. Nikolay Belevsky himself personally liquidated 23 German soldiers.

Aleksandr Vladimirovich Elantsev – Guards Senior Sergeant

In the battles for Nikolaev Guards Senior Sergeant Aleksandr Elantsev, commanding a group of sappers, made passages in minefields and wire barriers.

Even under the drumfire of the enemy, he did not stop work on mine clearance.

Nikolay Trofimovich KARASYOV – Red Army Soldier

10 kilometres northeast of the city of Nikolaev, Red Army sapper Nikolay Karasyov defused 102 anti-tank mines under enemy mortar fire, thereby clearing the way for the advancing Soviet units.

At night, in the same area, under enemy machine-gun fire, he made a passage through a wire fence and let the advancing infantry through it.

Ivan Pavlovich KLYCHENKOV – Guards Junior Sergeant

During the attack on Nikolaev, Junior Sergeant Ivan Klychenkov with a reconnaissance group approached the enemy positions. Being 10 metres away from the fascists, he threw grenades into their trenches and thereby destroyed three Nazis.

Vasily Mikhailovich KONDAUROV – Guards Private

On March 24, 1944, in the battles for the settlement of the Children’s Commune (training ground) in the Nikolaev region, Guards Private Vasily Kondaurov suddenly burst into his trenches for the enemy and destroyed five German soldiers with grenades. Being wounded, he did not leave the battlefield and began to repel the subsequent counterattacks of the enemy.

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Fyodor Ivanovich KRAKHMALNY – Guards Private

In the battle for the city of Nikolaev, Guards Private Fyodor Krakhmalny, under heavy enemy fire, eliminated 41 breaks on the communication line during a combat day. With his bold and decisive actions, he ensured uninterrupted communication and control of the battle.

Aleksey Yukhimovich LYSENKO – Guards Senior Sergeant

A Soviet reconnaissance group approached the enemy’s positions, from which it was firing drumfire. The commander of the Guard group, Senior Sergeant Aleksey Lysenko, instantly made a decision and sent two fighters to the flank to distract the attention of the fascists, and he rushed forward into the German trenches, where he personally destroyed up to 12 enemy soldiers and officers.

In a night battle on the outskirts of Nikolaev, Senior Sergeant Aleksey Lysenko took away a wounded officer from being under fire and gave him first aid.

Aleksandr Petrovich SOLOVYOV – Guards Sergeant

Gunner-radio operator of the T-34 tank and Guards Sergeant Aleksandr Solovyov showed boldness, courage and dedication in the battle for Nikolaev. He provided excellent communication in a combat vehicle. Fire from a heavy machine gun destroyed 10 Nazis. In that battle he died a heroic death.

Konstantin Petrovich TRUKHINOV – Guards Private

Advancing Soviet units were stopped by the fire of a bunker, for the destruction of which an assault group was sent.

Private Konstantin Trukhinov, a sapper of the Guard, which he was a part of, under the cover of night, led Soviet soldiers through a minefield and, sneaking up to the bunker, covered its embrasure with a bag filled with earth.

The assault group that broke into the trenches destroyed the enemy in a grenade battle, thereby ensuring the success of the offensive of the Soviet units. In the period from March 24 to March 28, 1944, the sapper of the Guards, Private Konstantin Trukhinov, made 12 passes in minefields under enemy fire, up to 15 in wire barriers.

Vasily Petrovich KHARKOV – Guards Lieutenant

At night, Guards Lieutenant Vasily Kharkov, being in the head patrol of the detachment, conducted accurate surveillance and promptly reported the situation to the battalion commander. Moving forward, he led a reconnaissance group to the outskirts of Nikolaev and did not allow the enemy to conduct flanking cover with fire. Having occupied several houses, his group firmly held positions until the approach of the main forces, after which they captured and held the Varvarov Bridge.

LIBERATION OF NIKOLAEV

In mid-March 1944, the troops of the left wing of the 3rd Ukrainian Front, following the results of the Bereznegovatoye–Snigiryovka offensive operation, reached Nikolaev and started fighting on its approaches. On March 26, the Odessa operation began, and with it a new stage of the battle for the city. The main blow was delivered from the eastern direction in the offensive zone of the 5th Shock Army.

The 28th Army was advancing from the southeast, the command of which initiated the landing operation of the Olshansky detachment. From the northern direction, a part of the forces of the 6th Army provided assistance to these associations. After two days of hard fighting , the Red Army liberated Nikolaev and forcedly crossed the Southern Bug River.

From the journal of military operations of the 3rd Ukrainian Front (for March 27-28, 1944)

On March 27, 1944, the Red Army broke the enemy’s resistance at its intermediate line of defence and came close to the German-fascist fortifications on the eastern and southeastern outskirts of Nikolaev.

During the subsequent night assault, Soviet troops liberated the city: “The 5th Shock Army and the 28th Army, with the assistance of the 6th Army troops and amphibious naval infantry detachments, after persistent fighting, stormed the large regional and industrial centre of Ukraine, the city of Nikolaev, a strong German defence stronghold at the mouth of the Southern Bug.”

5th Shock Army

From the journal of combat operations of the 5th Shock Army (for March 28, 1944)

On March 27, 1944, at 22:00, sub-units and units of the 5th Shock Army launched a decisive offensive, during which they broke through the line of the so-called Nikolaev bypass and broke into the city at 3:00.

By 13:00 on March 28, 1944, they finally cleansed Nikolaev of the enemy. In the same operational document, the defensive system of the Nazi troops is described: “Relying on favourable natural boundaries, the enemy on the approaches to the city of Nikolaev created four heavily fortified defensive lines in advance.”

Report card of combat operations of the troops of the 5th Shock Army for the period from March 13 to March 29, 1944

The map shows the advance of the army troops in the battles for the liberation of Nikolaev, the dividing lines of the formations. The main burden of the fighting for the city fell on the units and divisions of the 37th Rifle Corps.

Scheme of combat formations of the 37th Rifle Corps troops at 20:00 on March 26, 1944

The operational map shows the location of the divisions of the corps, its command posts, as well as its headquarters on the eve of the offensive on Nikolaev.

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Report card of combat operations of the 37th Rifle Corps from February 25 to March 28, 1944

It shows the combat path of the 37th Rifle Corps from the Dnieper to the Southern Bug.

Combat order of the headquarters of the 37th Rifle Corps from March 26, 1944

Preparing for the night assault of Nikolaev, the Soviet command demanded that the commanders of the formations “clearly work out the issues of urban combat interaction.

Combat report to the Commander of the 5th Shock Army on March 28, 1944

According to the operational document, on March 28, 1944, at 1:00, the main forces of the 37th Rifle Corps entered the outskirts of Nikolaev.

By 6:00 they had cleansed the central part of the city.

By 7:00 they reached the Southern Bug River.

At the same time, up to 530 enemy soldiers and officers were destroyed. The losses of the corps amounted to 20 people killed, 59 wounded.

Combat order of the headquarters of the 37th Rifle Corps from March 26, 1944

Having occupied the city of Nikolaev, sub-units and units of the 37th Rifle Corps began to restore and maintain the order that was determined by this command. Having organised a curfew and guard service, the servicemen began to cleanse the city.

They had to: “set up a cordon in the mined areas and immediately proceed to mine clearance by the forces of the sapper units. By the forces of specially allocated units, to carry out a combing of the divisional strip in order to identify and extract hidden enemy soldiers.”

From the journal of combat operations of the 248th Infantry Division (for March 28-29)

The first to break into the city were the advance detachments of the 248th Division, which already on March 27, 1944 “hoisted the red banner in the centre of the city on Sadovaya Street”. They held their positions until the main forces arrived.

From the historical logbook of the 902nd Berlin Rifle Order of the Kutuzov Regiment

The document says that local residents warmly and joyfully welcomed the Red Army that liberated the city: “Nikolaev, after three years of bloody rule of the invaders, became ours again – Soviet.

It is impossible to describe the stunning touching assessments of meetings with the residents of the city, for whom the arrival of the Red Army meant the end of the Fascist penal servitude. The doors opened wide to welcome the long-awaited welcome guests. There was no end to the questions and stories of people whose eyes shone with indescribable joy and reflected the sorrow of the grief and suffering experienced. Maternal care for the ‘sons’ knew no limit. Pots with hot water were boiling in every apartment”.

28th Army

From the journal of military operations of the 28th Army (for March 26-28)

On the night of March 26, 1944, a detachment of the 384th Separate Naval Infantry Battalion landed at the commercial port of the city in order to cut communications in the enemy’s rear and divert its forces from the front.

At 18:00, units of the 28th Army launched a decisive offensive. As a result, in two days the Soviet soldiers broke “the enemy’s resistance and, after persistent street fighting, by 6:00 on 28.3.44, they captured the city, the port and the railway station of Nikolaev”.

6th Army

Despite the fact that the 6th Army was also involved in the attack on Nikolaev, only part of its forces (units and subunits of the 34th Guards Rifle Corps) took a direct part in urban battles: “The 34th Guards Rifle Corps (243rd Rifle Division and 61st Guards Rifle Corps), having forcibly crossed the Ingul River at dawn, captured the north-eastern part of the city of Nikolaev.”

Soviet aces in the sky over Nikolaev

Pages of the historical logbook of the 11th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment

The document describes an air battle on the outskirts of the city, when fighter pilots of the regiment covered groups of Il-2 attack aircraft striking German positions at the Kulbakino airfield. In this aerial combat, Soviet aces demonstrated a high level of skill: “Having lost 3 of their planes, the Guards destroyed 11 enemy ones.”

The considerable role of the regiment’s pilots in the battles for Nikolaev is emphasised by the order of the Supreme Commander No. 088 of April 12, 1944: “The name ‘Nikolaev’ is assigned to the 11th Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment of the Black Sea Fleet Air Force, which distinguished itself in the battles against the German invaders for the liberation of the city of Nikolaev, and henceforth shall be called the 11th Guards Fighter Nikolaev Regiment of the Naval Forces.”

VICTORY

The troops of the 3rd UKRAINIAN Front today, on March 28, after persistent fighting, stormed the large regional and industrial centre of Ukraine, the city of NIKOLAEV – an important railway junction, one of the largest ports on the Black Sea and a strong German defence stronghold at the mouth of the SOUTHERN BUG.

From the operational summary of the Soviet Information Bureau of March 28, 1944

Issue of the newspaper “Soviet Warrior” from March 29, 1944

Issue of the “Soviet Warrior” newspaper from March 29, 1944


Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation

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