The Russian Geographical Society, the Ministry of Defense and RTR are preparing a joint film project dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the Victory. The project is called “Last Battle of World War II” and tells about the battles on the legendary island Shumshu. This is one of the most northern Kuril Islands, where before 1945 were powerful Japanese fortifications.
The last military operations of World War II took place on the northern Kuril Islands. There are many Japanese monuments, tombs and graves. Defensive fortifications, tanks, aircraft and other military equipment are well preserved.
On September 6 a big expedition group left Moscow to work on Shumshu. The head of the search group of the Russian Geographical Society Artem Hutorskoy says:
- At 9 am we take off from Chkalov by IL-76. We arrive in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. There our group will join the colleagues from the Sakhalin regional branch of the Russian Geographical Society, and we will leave for Shumshu. Depending on the weather we’ll go by helicopter or by sea. An advance team is already establishing a base camp on the island. It is said that the other night a bear was walking among the tents. But it’s ok, security group will ensure constant patrol and the layout of the camp itself will help: tents inside, outside – machinery.
In total over 30 people take part in the expedition, including the RTR crew. One of the main tasks is to find missing fighters who died in August ’45. The second problem is to find a couple of Japanese tanks and prepare them for removal from the Shumshu to the mainland for the restoration and exhibition in military history museums of the country, especially of the Far East region. There will also be military-archaeological work in order to detect artifacts of interest to historians and museum workers. Return to Moscow is scheduled for September 25 …
Kuril landing operation of the Armed Forces of the USSR, the purpose of which was to liberate the Kuril Islands, began on August 18, 1945. The hardest fight for the Soviet soldiers, reflecting the Japanese tank counterattack took place on the island Shumshu. This fight is unique in the history of the Sakhalin region, and its significance and examples of martial valor is comparable with the feat of 28 Panfilov Heroes.
During the battle, Soviet paratroopers were stopping Japanese technique at the cost of their life. So the sailor Peter Ilyichev and Chief Petty Officer Nikolay Vilkov closed the loopholes of the enemy bunker with their bodies.
During the operation facing desperate resistance of the Japanese, Shumshu, Paramushiro and other northern Kuril Islands were occupied.
On September 2, 1945 on board USS “Missouri” the Instrument of Surrender was signed. This day is considered the date of the end of World War II.
The task of the joint project of the Ministry of Defense, the Russian Geographical Society and RTR is to tell about everything that happened there, and to perpetuate the memory of the fallen heroes. The work is expected to be completed by August next year.
The Kuril Islands is a chain of islands between the Kamchatka Peninsula and the island of Hokkaido, separating the Sea of Okhotsk from the Pacific Ocean. The length – about 1200 km. The islands form two parallel ridges: Great Kuril ridge and Lesser Kuril ridge. It is composed of 30 relatively large and more than 20 smaller islands, as well as many uninhabited rocks protruding from the sea water.
Russian settlement were established first on the Kuril Islands, and then in Sakhalin. It happened because sea otters were discovered there, fur of which worth its weight in gold. The first settlements were established there in the first half of the XVIII century by Russian animal manufacturers.
Three are three main historical periods in the history of the North Kuriles:
- Until 1875 – discovering of the islands by Russian travelers and beginning their development;
- 1875-1945 – the North Kuriles as part of Japan;
- After 1945 – the return of the North Kuriles in Russia.
On September 2, 1945 the government and military representatives of Japan signed an unconditional surrender of Japan in World War II, after which the Sakhalin and the Kuriles became part of the Soviet Union.