How the Japanese lost the Kuril Islands in 1945

History 12/03/20 How the Japanese lost the Kuril Islands in 1945

the Kuril landing operation of the red Army in the Kuriles entered the history of operational art. It was studied in many armies of the world, but almost all the experts came to the conclusion that the preconditions for a quick victory of the Soviet troops was not. Success was ensured by the courage and heroism of Soviet soldiers. American failure in the Kuril Islands

on 1 April 1945, American troops with the support of the British Navy landed troops on the Japanese island of Okinawa. U.S. commanders hoped one lightning strike to seize a bridgehead for the landing of troops on the main Islands of the Empire. But the operation lasted almost three months and casualties among American soldiers was surprisingly high – up to 40% of the personnel. The input was not commensurate with the result and forced the US government to think about the Japanese problem. War could last years and cost the lives of millions of American and British soldiers. The Japanese were convinced that will be able long to resist and even to put forward the conditions for the conclusion of peace.

the Americans and British are expected to take the Soviet Union for another conference of allies in Yalta commitments to open hostilities against Japan.
Western allies of the USSR do not doubt that the Red Army in Japan expect the same long and bloody battle, as in the West. But the commander of the troops in the far East, Marshal of the Soviet Union Alexander Vasilevsky their opinions are not shared. 9 August 1945 the red Army took the offensive in Manchuria and in just a few days inflicted a crushing defeat.
on August 15, Emperor Hirohito of Japan was forced to declare surrender. On the same day us President Harry Truman made a detailed plan for the surrender of Japanese troops, and sent it for approval to the allies The USSR and the UK. Stalin immediately drew attention to an important detail: in the text did not mention that the Japanese garrisons in the Kuril Islands needs to capitulate before the Soviet troops, although more recently, the us government had agreed to this archipelago, passed to the Soviet Union. Given the fact that the other items were spelled out in detail, it became clear that this is not a random error – the United States tried to put the postwar status of the Kuril Islands in question.
Stalin demanded the US President to make an amendment, and drew attention to the fact that the Red Army intends to occupy not only the Kurile Islands but also part of the Japanese island of Hokkaido. To rely only on the goodwill of Truman was impossible, the troops of the Kamchatka defense district and Petropavlovsk naval base were ordered to land on the Kuril Islands landing.

Why countries fought for the Kuril Islands

From Kamchatka in good weather you could see the island of Shumshu, which is located just 12 kilometers from the Kamchatka Peninsula. This is an extreme island of the Kuril archipelago – the ridge of the 59 Islands, with a length of 1,200 kilometers. On the maps they were designated as the territory of the Empire of Japan.
development of the Kuril Islands, Russian Cossacks began in 1711. Then the belonging of this territory to Russia was never in doubt from the international community. But in 1875 Alexander II decided to consolidate peace in the far East and gave the Kuriles to Japan in exchange for relinquishing its claim to Sakhalin. These peaceful efforts of the Emperor were in vain. 30 years later the Russo-Japanese war began, and the agreement lapsed. Then Russia lost and was forced to admit that the conquest of the enemy. Japan were not only the Kuriles, but also she received and the southern part of Sakhalin.
Kuril Islands unsuitable for economic activity, so many centuries, they were virtually uninhabited. Residents were only a few thousand, mostly members of the Ainu. FishingOh, hunting, subsistence farming – and that all the sources of existence.

In the 1930-ies in the archipelago turned into an active construction, mostly military airfields and naval bases. The Empire of Japan was preparing to fight for supremacy in the Pacific. The Kuril Islands were to be the springboard for the capture of Soviet Kamchatka and the attack on the American naval base (Aleutian Islands). In November of 1941, these plans started to be implemented. It was an attack on the us naval base at pearl Harbor. 4 years later the Japanese had to equip the archipelago a powerful system of defense. All the available places for landing on the island was covered by gun emplacements, underground was infrastructure.

the Beginning of the Kuril landing operation

At the Yalta conference in 1945 the allies took the decision to take Korea under joint custody, and recognized the right of the USSR in the Kuril Islands. The US even offered to help in the mastery of the archipelago. In the framework of the secret project “Blasphemy” the Pacific fleet received the American landing craft.
12 April 1945, Roosevelt died, and the attitude of the Soviet Union changed, as the new President Harry Truman belonged to the Soviet Union with suspicion. The new American government did not deny possible military action in the far East and the Kuril Islands would have become a convenient springboard for Russian military bases. Truman sought to prevent the transfer of the USSR.
due to the tense international situation, Alexander Vasilevsky (chief of Soviet troops in the far East) has got an order: “using the enabling environment prevailing during the offensive in Manchuria and on Sakhalin island, to take the Northern group of the Kuril Islands. Vasilevsky did not know that this decision was made because of worsening relations between the USA and the USSR. Were instructed during the day to form a battalion of Marines. The battalion was headed by Timothy Pochtarev. Preparation time of the operation was only a day, the key to success – close the interactive whiteboardthe effects of the forces of the army and Navy. Marshall Vasilevsky made the decision to appoint the force commander of the operation major General Alexei Gnecco. According to the memoirs Gnecco: “I was given complete freedom of initiative. And it is quite clear: the command of the front and fleet was a thousand miles away, and it was impossible to expect immediate approval and endorsement of each of my orders and orders”.

Naval gunner Timothy Pochtarev first combat experience was in the Finnish war. With the beginning of the great Patriotic war, fought in the Baltic, defended Leningrad and participated in the battles for Narva. He wanted to return to Leningrad. But fate and the command decided otherwise. The officer was assigned to Kamchatka, to the headquarters of the coastal defense of the Peter and Paul naval base.
the Most difficult part was the first stage of the operation – the mastery of the island of Shumshu. He was considered the Northern gateway of the Kuril Islands, and Japan has paid special attention to the strengthening of Shumshu. 58 bunkers and pillboxes could cover every meter of the coast. Only on the island of Shumshu was 100 artillery pieces, 30 machine guns, 80 tanks, and 8, 5 thousand soldiers. Another 15 thousand was on the neighboring island of Paramushir, and they could be transferred to the North within a few hours.
Kamchatka defense district was composed of only a single infantry division. Units were dispersed throughout the Peninsula. All in one day, August 16, they had to be delivered to the port. Besides, to transport the whole division through the first Kuril Strait was impossible – not enough ships. The Soviet troops and sailors had to make in extremely difficult conditions. First to land on a fortified island, and then to fight with a superior number of the enemy without military equipment. All hope was on “the surprise factor”.

the First phase of the operation

Soviet troops, it was decided to land between Cape Kokutai and Katamari, and then kick to capture the heart of the defence of the island, a naval base Kataoka. To lead the enemy astray, and Rrassredotochit forces, planned a diversionary strike landing in the Bay of Kanagawa. The day before the operation began shelling the island. The fire could not cause much harm, but the General Gnecco put other goals – to force the Japanese to withdraw its troops from the coastal territory, where the planned landing of airborne troops. Some paratroopers under the leadership Pochtarev became the nucleus of the squad. By nightfall the loading on the vessels was completed. On the morning of 17 August, the ships sailed out of Avacha Bay.Commanders were instructed to observe radio silence and blackout.

Weather conditions were tough – fog, because of this, the ships have arrived here only at 4 o’clock in the morning, although planned at 11 PM. Due to fog some vessels are unable to approach the island, and the remaining meters of the Marines swam, with arms and ammunition.
the vanguard reached the island in full force, and at first met no resistance. Yesterday Japanese government took the troops into the island to protect it from the shelling. Using the element of surprise, major Pochtarev decided by its mouth to capture the batteries of the enemy at Cape Katamari. This attack he led in person.

the Second phase of the operation

the Terrain was flat, so to go unnoticed was impossible. The Japanese opened fire, the promotion stopped. Had to wait the rest of the Marines. With great difficulty and under Japanese fire, the main part of the battalion was taken at Shumshu, and the offensive began. Japanese troops by this time had recovered from the panic. Major Pochtarev ordered to stop frontal attack, and in a combat situation formed the assault team. After several hours of fighting destroyed almost all the pillboxes and bunkers of the Japanese. The outcome of the battle decided the personal courage of major Pochtareva. He stood up to his full height and studied the soldiers. Almost immediately wounded, but did not pay attention to it. The Japanese began to retreat. But almost immediately again pulled troops and began a counter-attack. General Fusaki ordered at any cost to beat the dominant height, then cut withILS landing and drop them to the sea. Under the cover of artillery, the battle went 60 tanks. Came to the aid of ship strikes, and the destruction of tanks has begun. Those machines that could break, was destroyed by the forces of the Marines. But were running out of ammunition and then help the Soviet paratroopers came horse. They were allowed to swim to the shore, loaded with ammunition. Despite heavy fire, most of the horses survived and delivered ammunition.

From the island of Paramushir, the Japanese deployed forces to 15 thousand people. The weather had improved, and Soviet planes were able to fly on a combat mission. The pilots attacked the wharves and piers, which were unloaded by the Japanese. While the vanguard repelled a counter-offensive of the Japanese, the main force went for the flank attack. By 18 August, the defence system of the island was completely disrupted. The turning point in the battle.
the fighting on the island lasted from dusk – it was important not to allow the enemy to regroup, bring up reserves. In the morning the Japanese capitulated, having hung out the white flag.

After the storming of the island of Shumshu

on the day of the landing on the island of Shumshu Harry Truman recognized the right of the USSR to the Kurils. In order not to lose face, the US demanded to abandon the attack on Hokkaido. Stalin left Japan her territory.
Tsutsumi Fusaki delayed the negotiations. He allegedly did not understand the Russian language and of the document, which had to be signed.
August 20 Pochtareva squad receives new orders – to land on the island of Paramushir. But the Postman has not taken part in the battle, he was sent to the hospital, and in Moscow has already decided to give the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.
When Soviet ships entered the second Kuril Strait, the Japanese suddenly discovered the crossfire. Then the attack went to the Japanese kamikaze. The pilot parked his car directly to the ship, driving continuous fire. But Soviet anti-aircraft gunners tore the Japanese a feat.
on Hearing this, Gnecco again ordered to attack the Japanese hung out white flags. General Fusaki said he was not gave the order to fire the ships and offered to return to the discussion of the act of disarmament. Fusaki bustled, but the General has agreed to personally sign the act of disarmament. He avoided even to utter the word “capitulation”, because for him, as samurai, it was humiliating.

the Garrisons of Urup, Shikotan, Kunashir and Paramushir surrendered without resistance. For the world was a surprise that the Soviet troops in just one month occupied the Kuril Islands. Truman addressed to Stalin with a request to place American military base, but was refused. Stalin understood that the United States will try to gain a foothold, if you will receive the territory. And he was right: the United States immediately after the war, Truman made every effort to include Japan in its sphere of influence. On 8 September 1951 in San Francisco signed a peace Treaty between Japan and the countries of anti-Hitler coalition. The Japanese refused all conquered territories, including from Korea. The text of the Treaty, the Ryukyu archipelago was passed to the UN, in fact, the Americans had established their protectorate. Japan also renounced the Kurile Islands, but in the text of the Treaty was said about the fact that the Kuril Islands are transferred to the USSR. Andrei Gromyko, Deputy foreign Minister (at the time), refused to put his signature to the document with this wording. The Americans refused to make amendments in the peace Treaty. It so happened legal casus: de jure ceased to belong to Japan, but their status was not enshrined.
In 1946, the Northern Islands of the Kuril Islands became part of the South Sakhalin region. And it was undeniable.

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