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The Ladoga War Flotilla Commander`s
REPORT
to the Commander of the Baltic Navy
on the actions of the Flotilla
November 30, 1939 - March 13, 1940

I report:

The first task, which by the order of the War Council of the Red Banner Baltic Navy was worked out by the Flotilla Staff in October 1939, was the landing of the forces consisting of the strengthened regiment in the Sortanlax Bay. From November 6-23 the Flotilla transferred 75 infantry divisions by the lake from Schlisselburg to the Olonka.

November 23 the War Council of the Red Banner Baltic Navy in Order N 07/operational set the following tasks to the Ladoga Flotilla:

To destroy the Finnish ships in the Ladoga Lake. Not to allow the landing of diversionary forces on the Ladoga Lake in the mouth of the Volchov, Syas, Olonka and Vidlitsa rivers. To support the flanks of the 7th and 8th Armies with the artillery fire. To provide the line of communication to the Vidlitsa and Sviritsa. To be ready for the diversionary groups landing in the Sortavala and Kexholm front. To organize the antisubmarine defense of the Ladoga Lake.

To carry out the order a plan was worked out for four "Kronshtadt" gunboats, and the command of the Flotilla raised the question of strengthening the Flotilla with other ships and means.

Not only did not the Flotilla get any reinforcement, but also it was left with one gunboat. At the same time the approach of the winter put off the fulfillment of other tasks set in Order N 07/operational. By November 29 the first group of ships of the Ladoga War Flotilla had been formed. It consisted of the "Oranienbaum" gunboat, the "Vidlitsa", "Moskva", M-31 and M-37 minesweepers, R-413, R-414, R-416 and R-417 patrol boats. Head of the Flotilla Stuff 1st-rank Capitan Troinin was appointed Unit Commander, Flotilla War Commissar Brigade Commissar Akhimov was apointed the Commissar.

November 29 it became clear that near the eastern shore of the Lake the Flotilla could not operate because of lack of forces and absence of the base, of which the War Council of the Red Banner Baltic Navy, Commander of Leningrad Military District and the Commander of the 8th Army were informed. Thus, at that moment the command of the Flotilla thought that the task to assist the flank of the 7th army with fire and to cover it from the attacks from the lake and destroy the enemy's flotilla was left. Later the War Council of the Red Banner Baltic Navy extended this task. Enciphering N 2256, dated December 31 added the task to destroy the coastal batteries on the islands and to assist the flank of the 8th Army with fire. After this addition there were no more tasks, but their volume naturally decreased because of the freeze-up (January 14-20, 1940), when the ships lost the exit to the eastern shores. The task to assist the forces of the 13th Army with fire and to cover its right flank from the attacks from the ice was left. This task tallied with the task to defend the Flotilla base Sauna-Saari.

December 6 on the right flank of the land front the 49th rifle division was getting ready to force the Taipale-Joki river. The ship detachment commander got the attacking order for the 3rd infantry corps through the communication delegate from Captain-Lieutenant Slizkoi. Detachment Commander 1st rank Captain Trainin decided to move the forces to the Taipale Bay to support the attack, withdrawing the fire of the coastal batteries on his troops. A group of ships, including the "Razvedchik" patrol ship (Detachment Commander`s Flag), the "Dozorni" patrol ship, M-32 and M-34 minesweepers, and patrol boats 422 and MO-213, headed for the Taipale Bay at 2 p.m. on December 6. At 3.10 p.m. the ships turned to the north and 5 minutes later turned off 30 degrees in the enemy's direction. During 1 hour 10 min the ships were under fire of the enemy's batteries and fought a battle against them. None of the enemy's missiles hit the target. 5-7 December and till noon December 8 the Soviet forces were getting the feel of the harbour and the new Sauna-Saari base. On December 8, 12.10 p.m. the enemy's battery opened fire at the harbour where at that time were the "Razvedchik" patrol ship, the "Moskva", "Vidlitsa" minesweepers, M-30, M-32 and M-34 minesweepers, "Boevoi" tugboat, and 4 patrol boats. The first missiles landed to the east of the Harbour and then in the Harbour close to the ships. Detachment Commander 1st rank Captain Trainin ordered the ships to leave the harbour. The ships were casting off and entering the open lake where at that time a force-seven, force-eight gale from the northeast was storming. By sheer luck the enemy's missiles did not reach our ships, but nevertheless the detachment incurred losses. Big waves, not familiar enough entry into the harbour caused several accidents. The "Moskva" minesweeper damaged its right screw when it touched the stones. M-30 minesweeper was holed in the machine compartment, from which the water started pouring in. The fire of the harbour continued on the 9th, 10th, 13th, 15th, 17th, 20th, 29th of December, 1939 and January 12, 1940. The enemy shot 152 mm missiles, pattern of 1907, and many of the missiles did not explode. After the bombardment ships came to the harbour to get the fuel only at night or at daytime in low visibility. The rest of the ships were constantly in the lake guarding the shore and the gunboat, which had run aground on the stones.

By January 1, 1940, 99 missiles had been fired at the harbour. By January 1 the ice had become so thick that the minesweepers could not move. In spite of the firing of the harbour the minesweepers had to be left in the harbour for the winter and the staff were taken to the shore. The same day the "Razvedchik" and "Dozorni" patrol ships were brought to the harbour. During the winter the harbour was fired several more times, but the missiles did not hit the ships. The group of ships of the detachment consisting of the "Oranienbaum" gunboat, the "Vodolaz" rescue and salvage tug and the "Tulen" patrol ship stayed for the winter outside the harbour and got frozen in the ice. During the time of the military operations the enemy`s ships did not appear outside the area of the detachment's operations.

Conclusions:

  1. The enemy's fire of the harbour and the coastal battery was futile. None of our ships had suffered from it.
  2. The losses of the detachment - wreck of the patrol boat 416 and the accident of the minesweeper M-30 were due to the insufficient training for sailing in the difficult conditions. The commander of the minesweeper M-30 decided to run aground, but during the maneuver the ship rammed the patrol boat 416 which sank.
  3. The absence of its own maneuver base (e.g. the Ladoga War Flotilla) shows the difficulties of the military operations for the ships, isolated from all the supply sources. The example of the Ladoga War Flotilla ships demonstrated that a considerable amount of efforts was used to fight bad weather and not the enemy.
  4. The occupation of the detachment's base by the ships in the immediate proximity of the enemy showed him that our ships were full of determination to fulfill the task and it was proven by the different type of actions of the enemy's Flotilla in the area of the eastern shore of the Ladoga lake where our ships were not present. With the beginning of the freeze-up and setting the ships for the winter in the Sauna-Saari Harbour the Ladoga War Flotilla started organizing the defense of the base. The whole defense system was aimed not only at the protection of the objects situated on the base but also at preventing the enemy's diversionary and reconnaissance groups from getting into the rear and large formations from penetrating from the lake-side. By the beginning of February 1940 the organization of the defense of the base had been completed, the territory being divided into areas. A circular fire system was organized and the coöperation of all fire means was expected. Depending on the circumstances action readiness was defined.

At 5:40 p.m. January 28, 1940 from Ranta-Kyla direction 6 airplanes heading 130 degrees at the height of 2500-3000 metres were noticed. Having skirted the base from the south the airplanes reached the lake at the place where a group of ships were left outside the cape for the winter. Having turned to the north the airplanes in the bearing order headed for the harbour. Having reached the traverse of the Valkaniemi Cod the head plane went into a dive and at about 5:45 p.m. dropped the bombs which landed at a distance from the ships which were situated at the beginning of the dike. Immediately the "Oranienbaum" gunboat and later the "Razvedchik" and "Dozorni" patrol ships started firing the second plane of this flight, which reaching the harbour was going into a dive on the ships but caught fire and falling down broke into pieces. The third plane dropped the bombs in the area where minesweeper M-34 was standing and headed for the northwest after the first plane. After the first flight of aircraft in 2-3 minutes a second one appeared, it was going in the same direction. The second flight encountered the fire of the 45 mm antiaircraft guns and machine-guns on the gunboats. The machines-guns and antiaircraft artilleries of the ships soon joined the battle. Probably, under the influence of the fire the flight of aircraft scattered. The first airplane continued the flight, it dived on the harbour and dropped the bombs between a group of minesweepers and patrol ships in the corner formed by the dike. The second airplane reaching the traverse of Valkaniemi was, obviously, hit and the undercarriage with the skis fell down in 200 m from the dike. The airplane caught fire and quickly lost height. At the height of 15 m above the surface of the lake the airplane emitting smoke headed for the northwest and disappeared in the dark of the twilight. The third plane, having reached the harbour, and being in the fire of the antiaircraft artillery of the ships and battery, turned, first taking the reverse course as if it wanted to turn to the gunboat, but then continuing the turn made a circle, headed for the antiaircraft artillery battery, swooped on it and having shot it from the machine-gun headed for the north-west.

The following should be mentioned as the active operations of the Flotilla during the winter:

  1. The action of the 6th howitzer battery, placed on the right flank of the 13th Army (the area of the Kosilo village), it coöperated with the units of the 3rd infantry corps February 6 - March 13, 1940.
  2. The fire assistance of the Army flank by the gunboat artillery fire.
  3. The reconnaissance of the sub-units of the 148th separate local infantry company and the 3rd platoon of the coastal escort detachment on the ice.

All the listed actions turned out to be an effective means of preventing the enemy from getting into the rear of the Army. These actions provided the preparation of the Flotilla for the summer campaign. The supply of the ships and units with the arms and ammunition was regular and all the demands of the ships and units were quickly and fully satisfied. During the period of the work of the harbour (Sauna-Saari) 2469 tons of cargo were transferred including 1686 tons of coal, 96 tons of petrol, 4 tons of paraffin, 21 tons of lubricating oil, 560 cubic metres of firewood, 302 tons of product forage, 120 tons of ammunition and arms, 40 tons of freight. All the cargo was brought from Leningrad and Gruzino in winter conditions in intense colds, abundant snowfalls and blizzards, mostly at night. During this period the Sauna-Saari harbour supplied the units and the Flotilla and it also did a great amount of organizational work. The command personnel that had been sent to the harbour mostly did not possess practical skills of working in wartime. Besides, part of the command personnel did not have sufficient knowledge and experience in work that they had to do.

General conclusion:

  1. The Ladoga War Flotilla was established hastily and during the war actions had several accidents. The main reasons for the accidents were the commanders` ignorance of the theatre of operations, their poor navigation training, absence of wartime navigation means and devices. The Ladoga theatre of operations had not been prepared for the war. We did not have any covered anchor harbour, whereas Finland possessed harbours of which we did not even know.
  2. The Ladoga War Flotilla completed the task to cover the flanks and the rear of the 7th (13th) Army from the enemy's attacks in spite of the incomplete effectives and lack of training.

The Ladoga War Flotilla Commander
2nd rank Captain SMIRNOV

The Flotilla War Commissar
Batallion Commissar SVIRIDOV

Head of the Flotilla Stuff
2nd rank Captain BARANOVSKI

Russian State Naval Archive. Fund r-92. List 2. Case 556. Pages 189-218. Original.

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