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    Shumshu Island (Shimushu Island) Kurile Islands (Chishima-Rettō) Russia
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Page c1990

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Ministry of Defence 2015

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Ministry of Defence 2015
Location
Shumshu Island is located at the northeastern end of the Kurile Islands (Kuril). To the southeast is Paramushir Strait and Paramushir Island. To the northeast is the Kuril Strait and Kamchatka. Part of the shipping route to Russia via Kamchatka and the Kurilsky Strait. Also known as Ostrov Shumshu or Shimushu-To. Prewar and during the Pacific War part of Japan. Between August 15, 1945 until December 26, 1991 part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Today located in Sakhalin Oblast in Russia.

Wartime History
During World War II, Shumshu Island was defended by roughly 8,000 Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) and Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) personnel. The garrison included the  11th Tank Regiment under the command of Col Zueo Ikeda with a force of sixty-four tanks including twenty Type 97 Chi-Ha Shinimoto, nineteen Type 97 Chi-Ha and twenty-five Type 95 Ha-Go. Starting in the middle of June 1944 attacked by American bombers based in the Aleutian Islands in Alaska until early August 1945.

Allied missions against Shumshu (Shimushu)
June 19, 1944–August 12, 1945

On August 15, 1945 at noon, Japan accepted the Potsdam Declaration and unconditional surrendered to the Allies. In accordance with the surrender, Japanese garrisons began the disarmament process but maintained their right of self-defense to defend Japanese territory. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union planned to occupy the Kuries Islands to extend their borders before American occupation forces arrived in Japan.

Battle of Shumshu
On August 18, 1945 Soviet amphibious landing by 8,360 troops from the Army and Navy supported by warships and aircraft assaulted on Shumshu Island This operation was conducted despite the fact Japan had surrendered and the Pacific War had officially ended. The Russian forces did not expect opposition.

Although the Japanese were in the process of disarmament they responded in accordance with their right to defend Japanese territory. Aided by a layer of fog over the landing area, forty Japanese Type 97 Chi Ha medium tanks from the 11th Tank Regiment attacked the Soviet beachhead. For more than two hours a vicious close quarters tank battle ensued with the Japanese tanks claiming to have killed 100 Soviets. Caught by surprise, the Soviet troops rushed to deploy anti-tank guns to engage that . During the battle, the Japanese lost twenty-one tanks in the last armor action of World War II.

After defeating the counterattack, the Soviet forces continued to advance across Shumshu. On August 20, 1945 a cease fire was signed ending combat. On August 23, 1945 the remaining Japanese garrison officially surrendered ending the last battle of World War II.

Postwar
After the war, the Soviets removed the Japanese garrison who were now prisoners of war to labor camps, along with able bodied civilian men from the islands. Other civilians were deported back to Japan. In 1946, the island was officially annexed by the Soviet Union. Japan formally gave up sovereignty under the terms of the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951.

Today
Since the war, the island was considered part of the Soviet Union (Russia). The wrecks of several transport ships still remain. There are many bomb craters in the area. Several dozen tanks wrecks remain from the August 18, 1945 battle including a Type 97 Chi-Ha Medium Tank.

Bettobi
Located near the north coast includes Bettobi Airfield and Bettobi Seaplane Base and Bettobi swamp

Kataoka (Bajkovo, Байково)
Kataoka Harbor and Kataoka Fortress
includes Kataoka Airfield (No. 1 Shumshu).

Miyoshino Airfield
Japanese airfield, seaplane base and Headquarters 5th Fleet
.

Cape Minami
Located on the southern coast of the island, site of a Japanese Army radar and prewar fish cannery.


B-25J Mitchell 43-36140
Pilot Lewis force landed May 19, 1945 entire crew POW.

B-25J Mitchell 43-36149
Pilot Larsen crashed May 10, 1945 in sea off Shumshu.

B-25 Mitchell
Recovered in 2003, possibly B-25J 43-36140.

Tank Battle Memorial
A memorial shaped like a quadrant and plaque is located on a hill near the August 18, 1945 battlefield where roughly forty Japanese tanks attacked the Soviet forces for two hours resulting in the loss of twenty-one tanks.

References
The History of Battles of Imperial Japanese Tanks - Part II - Shimush
Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation "Joint expedition of the Russian Ministry of Defence, Russian Geographical Society and Russian search movement for detection and reburial of dead Soviet soldiers at the Shumshu Island" (photos 2015)

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Last Updated
August 20, 2020

 

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