Island of Heroes

Island of Heroes

80 years ago, Soviet sailors and local residents defended the port of Dixon despite the superior forces of Hitler's fleet. Many did it at the cost of their lives.

It is hard to surprise residents of the country's northernmost port, Dixon, but last year at the end of June they witnessed a swimming race. They called it the Arctic swim. How could it be otherwise if eight athletes from Krasnogorsk, Perm, Ulyanovsk, Blagoveschensk, Moscow, Krasnoyarsk and Yakutsk fearlessly plopped into the water, the temperature of which barely reached +8C°? The ambitions of the participants only grew during the competition. If on the first day they took short distances of 90 and 100 meters, the example of Nikolai Burak, the head of the administration of the settlement Dickson who swam together with everyone inspired athletes to further records. Swimming through the Vega strait from Dickson island to the mainland was a relay race where every participant swam 500 meters. When asked if it was not frightening to freeze in such water, the chairman of the Interregional Association of Cold Swimming of Russia Alexander Brylin said then that the cold does not scare athletes.

“We swim in temperatures from zero to almost minus two degrees. By the way, there were three Guinness Book of World Records winners in the team, participants of the swimming race across the Bering Strait, Chukotka-Alaska-2013,” said Brylin.

Last year the Arctic swim was dedicated to the 90th anniversary of polar aviation of Russia, at the end of which a memorial plaque to the legendary pilot, Hero of the Soviet Union Mark Shevelev was installed at Dixon airport.

This year the scale of the event was massive. On August 26, veterans, three honorary polar explorers joined the sport Arctic landing party, which consisted of 12 sportsmen. The team included swimmers from Moscow, Blagoveschensk, Krasnoyarsk, Kemerovo, Ulyanovsk, Novomichurinsk, Krasnogorsk near Moscow, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Tomsk, Yakutsk and Novosibirsk. The distance of the relay was 14.5 km, swimmers spent 6 hours and 22 minutes to overcome it.

One of the oldest participants of the relay, who returned from Dixon, celebrated his 80th birthday. Vladimir Skoropupov, honored worker of transport of the Republic of Yakutia, honored polar explorer of Russia and member of the Association of Polar Explorers of Russia, told what patriotic goals the initiators of the races set in addition to sports ones.

“On May 8 last year, in Sevastopol, the Swim to Victory – 2021 swimming race was held,” said Skoropupov. “Several dozens of people from different cities of the country took part in the relay marathon swim along the Black Sea coast. The action was timed to the 76th anniversary of Victory in the Second World War and the 77th anniversary of the liberation of the Hero-City of Sevastopol from the Nazi invaders. All this time an exact copy of the Victory Banner changed hands of the swimmers directly in the water. We, the representatives of the Association of Russian Polar Explorers, also took an active part in the race. The fact is that the legendary Ivan Papanin, the head of the first Soviet North Pole drifting station, whose name is associated with the heroic exploration of the Arctic, was born in Sevastopol. We believe that such actions can attract the widest attention to acute issues, whether it's the preservation of historical memory in the Crimea or environmental problems in the polar region. That is why at the end of summer 2021, we had an idea to continue the race in the Kara Sea to coincide with the 90th anniversary of polar aviation.

“Having overcome 221 km in the cold water of the Black Sea the sportsmen created the mission statement, “From the southern shore of the Crimea to the southern shore of the Kara Sea,” which was brightly embodied on Dixon in August of this year.

“In current relay race, we devoted our next “Arctic landing of Memory and Glory” to the 80 anniversary of heroic defense of Dixon. Tiny village at the very edge of the Earth has the proud title “Settlement of Military Valor.” 80 years ago the Soviet seamen and the locals defended the port in spite of the superior forces of Hitler's fleet. Many did it at the cost of their lives.”

...In 1942, the German heavy cruiser Admiral Scheer penetrated into the waters of the Kara Sea, having received orders to intercept and destroy a caravan of Soviet ships with Lend-Lease cargoes. The plans of fascists were ambitious to take under the control of the Northern Sea Route, having established communication on water between Reich and Japan, and to deprive our country of one of the major arteries of delivery, including strategic cargoes, sent to the USSR by allies. The cruiser was to destroy a small Soviet polar port on the Northern Sea Route. However, neither harsh conditions, nor an unequal battle with a superior enemy did not break the participants of the defense of Dickson and the Soviet sailors of the Northern Sea Route, who managed to carry the caravan to its destination and to defend the strategically important point of the Northern Sea Route. As a result, the Wunderland operation, developed in Berlin, failed as soon as it began. The cruiser Admiral Scheer, with a couple of hundred paratroopers ready to attack Dixon, was so repulsed that it hastily turned back and never accomplished its mission.

It is no coincidence that the whole route of the August Arctic relay race was laid on the places of heroic events. By the way, this patriotic action was supported by the Association of Polar Explorers of Russia, Immortal Regiment in Moscow, Krasnoyarsk Regional Branch of Russian Geographical Society, All-Russian Fleet Support Movement, Federation of Winter Swimming of Russia, Interregional Association of Ice Swimming of Russia, and the KRIOFIL club of hardening and winter sports, based in Krasnoyarsk Krasavia and Nordstar swimming airlines.

“This is a heroic page of our history which today must be necessarily reminded to the younger generation of Russians. By the way, its main historical peculiarity is that the legendary defense of Dixon became the only sea battle with the Nazis beyond the Urals during the war. The memory of the feat of the defenders of the strategic port is transferred on the island from generation to generation. We would like our whole country to remember about it. There is no coincidence that on Dixon they consider August 27 to be the date equal to June 22, because from this day the war for the Arctic officially began. The very war, which to this day some of our Western “partners” are trying to appropriate to themselves without end,” Skoropupov said in conclusion.

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