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An eight-year search: the remains of two soldiers from the times of the Great Patriotic War were found on Sommers

The bodies of a sailor and commander of the Workers ‘and Peasants’ Red Fleet (RKKF), as the Soviet Navy was officially called from 1918 to 1946, were discovered on Sommers Island in June by a joint team of the Russian Geographical Society and the Search Movement of Russia. For professional search engines and military historians, this was a real discovery: unsuccessful attempts to find the remains of paratroopers who died here during the storming of the island in 1942 have been made since 2014. A real sensation becomes a new starting point for further exploration of the Outer Islands of the Gulf of Finland.

The search for wartime burials this year began from the very opening of the season. According to the plan, two locations were to be explored – the place of the last battle of the paratroopers in a crevice of rock, covered with chipped rock by the Finns, and a pebble spit, where a cross with a Soviet helmet was captured in a Finnish photograph. The inscription on the picture said that 128 Soviet soldiers were buried in this place.

Previous work carried out there did not yield results. A dozen and a half cubic meters of granite fragments were taken out of the crevice, and the pebble spit from the dug pits began to resemble a place of intense bombardment. However, the perseverance of the searchers was rewarded, and finally the bodies of the dead paratroopers were found among the stones.

One of the two soldiers, presumably a member of the Red Navy: a compass and a belt with a naval brass buckle depicting an anchor were found with him. The remains of the second warrior may be identified by the commander’s belt with a steel frame buckle and belt, as well as the TT pistol magazine. There is an assumption that it may be Major Ivan Vasilyevich Pasko, who went missing on July 8, 1942.

The burial was studied using the method of archaeological examination of the remains, which in pebble scree is associated with additional difficulties, photo and video recording was carried out, and all necessary documents were drawn up.

The plans are to try to identify the dead with the help of DNA analyzes of the bone remains, – commented the leader of the expedition Ilya Dyurinsky. — Images obtained by 3D scanning of the skull can be compared with photographs of the commanders of the landing force who died during the unsuccessful attempt to capture Sommers Island.

The further fate of the remains is to be decided by the local authorities. The memory of the dead Soviet soldiers is planned to be perpetuated in the city of Primorsk, Leningrad Region.

The search for the burial places of the defenders of the Fatherland on the islands of the Gulf of Finland in the Baltic Sea is the main goal of the expedition “Islands of Memory”, traditionally held as part of the complex expedition of the Russian Geographical Society “Gogland”. The dead fighters are being searched for on the islands of Sommers, Gogland and Bolshoy Tyuters. The discovered Red Navy men confirmed the importance of search expeditions to hard-to-reach areas and gave hope that this was not the last discovery of the remains of the heroes.

In addition to search activities, the expeditionaries carried out restoration work on Sommers Island. The monuments were put in order, the stars on the obelisks were tinted, the flagpole on which the flag of the USSR Navy was raised was repaired.

With the support of the Russian Geographical Society, the memorial to paratroopers who stormed the island in 1942 was restored: due to difficult climatic conditions, the monument was badly damaged and overturned by a hurricane. With the help of a beam crane on a GAZ-66 expedition vehicle, the stele was returned to its historical place, and a cast-iron mooring biteng found nearby was added to it – a pair of bollards with a common base, to which the ships moored. During the restoration process, the commemorative inscriptions and images of a sailor, a star and a St. George ribbon were updated on the memorial.

The monuments restored during the expedition will become the main points of future routes for tourists interested in studying Russian history, including its most tragic moments. One of the steps towards the development of military memorial tourism is the “History within the Frames” project. The members of the expedition set up a photo panel with historical photographs taken before and after the storming of the island, right in the places where they were taken. The rocky landscapes of the island, which have hardly changed over the past century, create the effect of falling into those distant years. The author of the idea is Ilya Dyurinsky.

The difficult history of Sommers Island, filled with defeats and victories, will be told by information stands installed by the expedition members on the wall of the border barracks. The first tourists, yachtsmen from St. Petersburg and Vyborg, have already seen the updated monuments and new exhibits.

Among the large-scale plans of the complex expedition of the Russian Geographical Society “Gogland” is to form a network of tourist trails to places of military glory on the Outer Islands of the Gulf of Finland. The project is aimed at patriotic education among young people of a sense of belonging to the history of the country and the preservation of the memory of the exploits of Russian soldiers for centuries.

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