This episode of military history occurred 75 years ago, when the convoy “White Sea – Dikson 5” left Severodvinsk, laying the course for Dikson Island. It consisted of the transport vessel “Marina Raskova” and three minesweepers T-114, T-116 and T-118.
“Marina Raskova” was to deliver 354 passengers, who went to the polar station for the wintering shift, to Dikson Island. Among the passengers there were 116 women and 20 children, as many polar explorers and builders went to the Arctic with their families. The ship had six thousand tonnes of cargoes, including food, technical equipment for arctic building sites, radio equipment, etc. The crew of the ship consisted of 51 people, and in addition, the ship had a small military team of sailors, a signalman and anti-aircraft gunners. The minesweepers had submarines sonar detection systems and anti-submarine weapons the most modern for that time.
In 1944, on the 12th of August 60 miles away from Beliy Island, the ship “Marina Raskova” was torpedoed by the German U-365 submarine. And when the surviving passengers and the crew members of the ship moved to the minesweepers, the fascists sank two of three ships. Only one minesweeper managed to escape and deliver a group of rescued people on the shore of the Yugorsky Strait (Yugorsky Shar). In the Kara Sea among the cold waves there were boats and rafts with living and dying people, who spent more than a week at sea, waiting for rescue. The tragedy took away 378 lives of Soviet soldiers and home front workers from among 752 participants of the convoy. Children and majority of women died. The fate of 51 people is unknown. These events are the most tragic page of the internal arctic convoys in the history of the Great Patriotic War in the Arctic.
The all-Russian “Kara Sea expedition” was held in 2009 in the memory of the tragedy of the convoy “White Sea – Dikson 5”. Scientific and archival work on collection of information about the history of the convoy was conducted, new data were received, the list of the participants of the convoy was compiled, memories, photographs, publications, books about the convoy were collected, and the International search operation “Convoy White Sea – Dikson 5” was organized. The small memorial complex in the memory of the tragedy of August 12, 1944 was set on Beliy Island. The memorial plates in the memory of the victims were set in Salekhard and in Voronezh.
The reference: the transport ship “Marina Raskova” was named in the honor of a night attack aircraft pilot, Hero of the Soviet Union Marina Raskova, who set several records for long-haul flights in the 1930-s and died in January of 1943. The ship was a former American steamship. It used to be called “Ironclad” and was handed over to our side by lend-lease in 1943. The minesweepers AM T-114, T-116 and T-118 were built for the Soviet Union in America.