The actions of the Red Army in the crushing defeat of Imperial Japan in August-September 1945 are rightfully considered one of the most brilliant offensive operations carried out during the Second World War. Undoubtedly, this victory, as grandiose as it was lightning-fast, was due primarily to the thoroughness and painstaking of the titanic preparatory work that preceded it. We will talk about some aspects of this process today.
Anyone who believes that the Soviet Union got involved in a military conflict with Japan, blindly following the whims of the allies, is very deeply mistaken. The USSR absolutely did not need the Kwantung Army and the puppet “state” of Manchukuo, created by its command, rattling weapons on the borders for decades, making aggressive plans and from time to time trying to implement them. Yes, and to repay Tokyo for 1905, for Tsushima, Port Arthur and the death of “Varyag” it was time long ago. Comrade Stalin was a real Russian patriot, and, having agreed at the Tehran conference to enter the war with the Japanese, he pursued primarily statist goals, and did not indulge Roosevelt and Churchill, who, without the help of the Red Army, would have to mess with the samurai at least until the end of 1946.
However, there was a very serious snag in the form of the Neutrality Pact signed in April 1941. Well, we are not Hitlerites to attack, treacherously violating such agreements. In this regard, on April 5, 1945, Moscow notified Tokyo of its unwillingness to extend the Pact, thereby making it clear its own intentions more than transparently. Following this, the Japanese made a desperate attempt to negotiate again, promising the USSR South Sakhalin, the Kuriles, the Chinese Eastern Railway and almost stars from the skies. Their “generosity” did not arouse any enthusiasm in Moscow: Stalin intended to take all this himself, at the same time once and for all discouraging the samurai from climbing our land.
Since the time agreed with the allies for our country’s entry into the war was three months after the victory over Germany, the prospects for the transfer of troops to strike were calculated by the General Staff of the Red Army on the basis of a fairly short time frame. Nevertheless, it was considered quite possible there to redeploy the forces of two fronts from Western Europe during this time, which were to conduct an offensive together with those units and formations of the Red Army, which all this time were concentrated in the Far East, which was left without reliable military cover impossible in any way.
Thus, the optimal combination of personnel was initially achieved, in which both fighters who knew local conditions and were accustomed to them, and soldiers who went through the war with Germany and its allies, defeated the Wehrmacht and had colossal combat experience, were in the same formation. In total, about half a million personnel, more than 7 thousand artillery pieces, more than 2 thousand tanks and self-propelled guns were transferred from the West to the East.
It should be noted that all these troops were unloaded a hundred kilometers from the state border of the USSR and advanced to it in the strictest secrecy, at night, along roads securely covered with camouflage fences and nets. Given the fact that the distances over which the troops moved averaged 10 thousand kilometers, and the transportation itself was largely carried out along the railway tracks, until recently destroyed by the war, this redeployment should, perhaps, be recognized as the most ambitious and most successful military transport operation throughout the Second World War.
On the eve of the outbreak of hostilities against Japan, the total number of the Soviet military group was 1.7 million people, the Red Army in this direction had more than 30 thousand “barrels” of artillery and more than a thousand multiple launch rocket launchers. More than 5,000 formidable armored vehicles were ready to pave the way for our fighters, and over 5,000 combat aircraft provided the offensive from the air.
All this power was subordinated to the High Command of the Soviet troops in the Far East, which was headed by Marshal Alexander Vasilevsky. The forces of the Red Army were defeated into three fronts: Transbaikal, under the command of Marshal Rodion Malinovsky, 1st Far Eastern, led by Marshal Kirill Meretskov, and 2nd Far Eastern, headed by General of the Army Maxim Purkaev. As you can see, the most experienced commanders of the Great Patriotic War fought in the “last and decisive” battle of the soldiers of the Red Army.
Even before the arrival of reinforcements from the West, a “great construction project” was set up in the border zone. Observing all conceivable and inconceivable precautions regarding camouflage, the Red Army was preparing a colossal foothold for the offensive. In June-July 1945, sappers worked tirelessly for 20 days a month, and ordinary infantry – “only” 12. During this time, hundreds of kilometers of closed positions and many firing points were prepared, roads for operational transfer of troops, bridges were built in the most important places. By August, the Primorsky Group of Forces had three defensive lines with a depth of 70 kilometers.
In this case, the main attention, of course, was paid to the upcoming offensive. The combat training of personnel was truly developed to unprecedented heights: training fields, bridgeheads, entire tactical townships were created in units and formations, where fighters and commanders worked out future actions to force water barriers, capture enemy fortified areas, break through its defensive lines , actions in mountainous and wooded areas. Particular attention was paid to such specific moments as training soldiers in sapper and mine explosives, working out the tactics of dealing with reconnaissance and sabotage groups of the enemy.
The lessons of the Great Patriotic War (both the terrible 1941 and the victorious 1945) were well learned and reliably learned. The Red Army was determined to wage a new war not by numbers, but by skill, using all its invaluable combat experience, which it got at such a dear price. That is why, during the 23 days of fighting, the Red Army lost 12 thousand people killed against 84 thousand from the Japanese. That is, 0.7% of the personnel involved in the operation. And this is perhaps the best confirmation that the preparations for the defeat of Japan were carried out not only at a high, but at the highest level.