Under this name, in the Archive of the Administration of the city of Novorossiysk, the archival files of the R-257 fund, which tells about the organization “Gossudopodiem”, are hidden. This organization, now called the predecessor of “EPRON”, is the object of the author’s interest. It will be about one of the works of the organization – the cleaning of artillery and ammunition from the Ochakovo fortress in 1924.
Below is a brief outline of the history of the Ochakovo fortress until 1924.
The fortress of Achi-Kule received this name in 1502 from the new owner – the Ottoman Empire. Its previous history is not covered clearly enough, since it is difficult to separate the fortresses of the Genoese that previously existed in this region – Lerich, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania – Dashev, the Crimean Khanate – Kara-Kermen from each other.
A strategically important place required protection by powerful fortifications. By the beginning of the 18th century, the Ochakovo fortress had become a powerful support for the Ottoman Empire in this region.
By the beginning of the Russian-Turkish war of 1735-1739, the fortress had a castle and three lines of fortifications. On July 10, 1737, the Russian army of Minikh went to the walls of Ochakov and took it on July 13 (according to the new style), 1737.
In Ochakovo, the Russian garrison was left, which after a short time successfully withstood a two-week siege by the Turks.
According to the Belgrade Peace Treaty, Ochakov remained a Turkish possession.
Under the terms of the Kuchuk-Kaynardzha peace treaty, a Russian antipode appeared near the Ochakov fortress – the Kinburn fortress, previously built by the Turks, and now ceded to Russia. Prior to this, Kinburn strengthened Ochakov, but now he has become his opponent. The confrontation between Ochakov and Kinburn lasted for a long time, and even when they both became the possession of Russia.
By this time, Ochakov was a powerful fortress, the possession of which made it possible to prevent the exit of the Russian fleet from the Dnieper-Bug estuary. Kinburn much more prevented the enemy fleet from breaking through into the estuary, but was very weak as a fortress.
The next test for the fortress was the Russian-Turkish war of 1787-1791.
The siege of Ochakov began in June 1788 and dragged on for a long time. The assault took place on the morning of December 6, 1788. Most of the garrison perished in the captured fortress.
After that, a long break came in the history of the fortress. By order of Prince Potemkin, most of the fortifications were destroyed. Although the fortress itself, under the Treaty of Jassy, went to Russia, it was not renewed. The entrance to the estuary was protected by the Kinburn fortress. The city also fell into disrepair due to the rapid growth of nearby Odessa.
In 1806, an attempt was made to renew the Ochakov fortress, but the matter ended with the construction of the so-called Nikolaevsky retrenchment, for which they used the preserved bastion of the Turkish fortress on the very shore. The new fortification was of secondary importance.
During the Crimean (Eastern) War of 1853-1856, the entrance to the estuary was protected by the Kinburn fortress. Then it was supplemented by fortifications near the city of Nikolaev itself. The fortress of Kinburn was attacked by the Allied fleet using armored ships and was surrendered. After its fall, the Nikolaev fortification was blown up.
The revival of the Ochakov fortress took place already by the time of the next Russian-Turkish war of 1877-78. Work on the construction of batteries began in 1874.
Under the new conditions, the passage of the fairway was taken into account closer to Kinburn than to Ochakov, so there were also batteries near the city of Ochakov, and instead of the abolished Kinburn, its “replacement” was built – the Sea or Nikolaev battery on an artificial island off the southern coast of the estuary. Its construction lasted the longest and was finally completed by 1891. After the end of the Russian-Turkish war, it was decided to leave the fortress of Ochakov henceforth, strengthening its defensive structures to the character of long-term ones, where this had not been done before the war.
But the years passed, and the artillery armament of the fortress became obsolete. By 1914, the Ochakov fortress had only one battery of 4 modern Canet guns (No. 4).
During the First World War, the fortress was not attacked by the enemy, and was somewhat reinforced, but again with old guns. During the civil war, the territory of the fortress changed hands many times. Particularly serious consequences were the undermining of most of the old guns of the fortress by a detachment of the Volunteer Army, which took place in 1919. In February 1920, the fortress, already incapable of combat, was occupied by units of the 41st division of the Red Army. Therefore, the command of the Reds took vigorous measures to restore the artillery defense of the fortress.
It was found that the old guns were completely unusable after the explosions of 1919, so battery No. 4 was restored and new ones were delivered.
In the summer and autumn of 1920, the fortress repelled numerous attempts by the AFSR fleet to break into the estuary. The fire of her batteries, reinforced by the fire of three floating batteries and gunboats, in cooperation with powerful minefields, with the support of aviation, turned out to be insurmountable for the white fleet.
By 1924, the krepos artillery
sti had not yet been transferred to the Navy, but was part of the Red Army and reported to the chief of artillery of the 6th rifle corps of the Ukrainian Military District.
Thus, by 1924 the fortress had significant stocks of obsolete artillery, moreover, unusable. The abundance of casemates in it created the possibility of using the fortress as a depot of ammunition and artillery equipment. But the presence of huge stocks of unnecessary property weighed heavily on the military, and since they were not able to independently remove the property from the fortress and hand it over to the Stock Property Department for disposal, they had to look for a contractor who could do this operation.
At the same time, Gossudopodem, the then main ship lifting organization, experienced financial difficulties and was not against a financially profitable operation.
The beginning of the 20s in economic life concealed for many organizations such a pitfall as cost accounting and self-sufficiency. State subsidies did not apply to everyone. This competitor of EPRON could, at the expense of a wealthy boss (OGPU), afford a lot of things that the state sudoopodemovtsy could only dream of. And they had to solve the “damned” questions of self-financing and self-sufficiency. Most often, the inflow of funds into the organization had to come from the rise of sunken ships. Well, and smaller works, since not only ships and vessels, but their cargoes, tools, parts, etc. ended up on the seabed. This is where the second reef lurked. It was necessary to find an object that would definitely bring a good profit (that is, at the same time, production costs should be as low as possible so that the collapse did not overtake before the completion of work). In this sense, the most acceptable were the rise of ships and profitable underwater objects lying in closed harbors and not requiring particularly significant expenses due to complexity. By 1924, the “reserve” of such objects had pretty much dried up. The institution was increasingly faced with an unpleasant situation when the work turned out to be unprofitable. For example, ship-lifting work to raise the “Memory of Azov” and “Narovolets” brought only losses, although they were successful and ended with the lifting of sunken ships. In search of financial gain, the leadership of Gossudopodemya focused on the task of cleaning up artillery pieces, ammunition and unusable property from the Ochakovo fortress.
This property was supposed to be taken out of the fortress, handed over for recycling, and the proceeds were to come to the account of the “Gossudopodem”. It should be added that the financial situation of the organization at that time was very difficult, because the financially profitable work of the branch in the North ceased, and the work of the Baltic and Black Sea-Azov branches were rather unprofitable.
Thus, the customer and the contractor found each other. Next, it was necessary to agree on the positions: what is subject to export and disposal, and what is not, and how to carry out work with ammunition without danger to the city and operating batteries.
Therefore, Gossudopodem was given freedom of action and important information, namely instructions for discharging various old artillery ammunition, lists of property in which the military department was not interested.
In addition, the Ochakov Party was allocated a supply of explosives for undermining old guns (150 pounds of pyroxylin from Sevastopol) [1.C 52] and a place for their storage, specialists to manage the discharge of shells (2 pyrotechnicians and one laboratory technician) [1.C. 54] and much more.
According to the statements, the following guns, ammunition and fortress devices were subject to disposal (the statement is dated 01/17/1924 and is based on the order of the GAU No. 95731).
The text is divided into sections, named after the material that was obtained during the disposal of property. It includes 41 guns and 89 carriages completely, as well as other attachments to the guns.
Further in the statement is other artillery property, described at best as fit, but unused.
Artillery shells: 10026 pieces and fuses of the 1884 model – 31383 pieces (the wording is “discontinued”).
The list of property was subsequently corrected, became more numerous and varied. For example, according to statement No. 1 of case No. 104, other guns in the amount of 40 pieces and 46 carriages for them pass.
The list of ammunition was also different: 16495 shells in a different assortment and 4481 fuses of a different type.
Sheet number 2 differs only in minor changes from number 1.
Looking ahead, it should be said that statement No. 1 lies closer to the final figures for the disposal of artillery pieces.
The shells to be discharged had to be carefully transported by horse-drawn transport to the place of discharge, cleared of explosives, and parts made of non-ferrous metals removed. The shells prepared in this way were loaded onto vehicles and delivered by sea to ports for reloading onto the railroad.
The guns and carriages to be disposed of were planned to be torn into convenient pieces with pyroxylin, transported by horse-drawn transport to the place of loading, loaded onto the Fotinia barge owned by the organization, or onto hired oaks and
to Odessa, where the mined metal should be transported by rail and transferred to the OFI for disposal.
Those were the plans.
The leadership of the operation was received by engineer Alexander Mikhailovich Orlov, who lived with his family in Odessa. [4.C.1]
An agreement was concluded with him to carry out these works and he was given a mandate for the right to carry out work on the cleaning of the Ochakov fortress, including the Pervomaisky and Berezan islands. Berezan Island is mentioned only in Orlov’s mandate, but the items to be removed from there were not included in the specified property sheets. In addition, Orlov’s assistant, technician G.F., also participated in the disposal. Siegelman, who bore the brunt of the work of hiring workers, paying them off, carrying out the work itself in conditions where the original plans almost went to hell, the war with pyrotechnics, problems with social security, and so on.
The operation was considered financially profitable and feasible, but its implementation required significant efforts, previously not presented by the authors of the plans. The first surprise came from the military. It turned out that plans to blow up heavy guns were unrealistic. For in the casemates near the removed guns, modern ammunition was piled up, which no one was going to remove from there, and therefore demolition work near them was excluded. The guns had to be cut with an autogenous, which turned out to be longer and at a financial cost to the organization. Pyroxylin, brought from Sevastopol for demolition work, was constantly demanded to be removed, moved, moistened, etc. [2.C.45]
At the same time, there was a problem with seconded pyrotechnicians. The clearing and unloading of vast amounts of ammunition by inexperienced men required professional guidance to avoid disaster. But there were constant problems with pyrotechnics.
Page 138 “work was delayed for 15 days due to the trial of the pyrotechnician comrade Sellin.”
Page 146. The pyrotechnicians Solovyov and Alexandrovich did not find a common language with the technician Zigelman and therefore announced that they were resigning from August 1, because he did not follow their instructions at all regarding work with ammunition. The Odessa office of the State Sudopodjem invited the rebellious pyrotechnicians to their place, trying to understand what was hindering their work. The pyrotechnics’ visit to Odessa gave the authorities the impression that Siegelman was not to blame, but that the pyrotechnics were quarrelsome, which is why they were calculated, and they were no longer entitled to a salary of 120 rubles. Initially, the authorities thought that Siegelman was to blame. We began to look for other pyrotechnicians, and the summer days were leaving …
Then there were technical problems: what to do with 42-line shrapnel, in which lead bullets were filled with sulfur. The lead had to be removed, but without the danger of fire, and there were no pyrotechnics ….
Then there was a conflict with social security due to non-compliance with labor laws, a strike of drivers due to delayed wages, problems with autogenous cutting of guns …
All this fell for the most part on the shoulders of Siegelman, who, like Atlas, endured the entire burden of rough work in the operation on his shoulders. What it cost him can be read in his letter to his superiors: he was completely worn out, his family was starving, due to lack of money for ink he was forced to write reports in pencil (indeed, the texts were written in pencil on not very good paper, and next to them were typewritten copies).
But things were moving slowly and news went to Odessa:
… prepared 158 pounds of lead, 695 pounds of 75 pounds of copper, 1358 brass shells for 3-inch guns, 133 shells of 114-mm howitzers [2.C. 63]…
… sent 4 bodies of bronze tools for mining [2.C.76]…
… sent with the barge “Fotinia” to Odessa bombs 11 dm of ordinary iron 547, hardened iron 43, steel 219, 9 dm bombs of ordinary iron 62, steel – 3 … [5.C.2]
And, finally, a message from Siegelman: “all the casemates of the fortress have been cleared of shells, but the act has not yet been drawn up.” Date September 6, 1924. [5.C.52]
He also reported that “development is completed” on 09/15/1924. [5.C. 70]
But this was not the end. The acceptance of scrap metal dragged on for a long time, and in November 1924, work began on cleaning the ditch near the Potemkin battery from old shells. [2.C.83]
According to some reports, about 400 heavy shells were used for this purpose, on November 19, unemployed local residents hired for this dug up 27 pieces, which is reflected in the summary on page 83 of the case, and further work in the ditch is mentioned on pages 102,146, 157, but in general the total of the shells retrieved from the galleries is not given.
Together with the artillery property, 449 cast-iron mine anchors, lying around in the fortress, also found their way into scrap metal. [5.C.85]
There was also a misunderstanding with Rudmetalltorg, a conflict with the Odessa port over the fact that the stockpiled goods were stored for too long, Orlov was reprimanded for late reporting, he was even accused of not being true in his statements about the cleanup of the Ochakovsky district. [1.C.185] But these were already the final scenes of the action.
Here are more or less final figures for the disposal of the property of the Ochakov Fortress:
shells_ 18967 pieces,
guns – 51 pieces (56619
gun carriages weighing 6973 pounds,
gunpowder – 1600 pounds;
According to materials:
steel – 108500 pounds,
cast iron – 118500 pounds,
red copper – 2395 pounds;
lead – 3035 pounds,
sulfur – 500 pounds;
zinc – 500 pounds (the latter was, as it were, a side effect of disassembly, it was absent from the disposal plans and did not give up). [5.C.21]
Although there is an intermediate document, which indicates a smaller amount of cast iron, steel, red copper and gunpowder (which is logical), it indicates a larger amount of lead – 5000 pounds and mined yellow copper – 1412 pounds.
The financial result of the operation resulted in 5506 rubles 35 kopecks of profit.
Although at one of the meetings the idea was expressed that there was no profit at all.
The island of Berezan was not “developed” by engineer Orlov, because 1925 was the last year for the Gossudopodyem organization. The organization was merged into EPRON and ended its independent existence. Three conclusions can be drawn from the described events:
The main armament of the Ochakovo fortress by the time of the First World War and the Civil War was outdated morally and physically.
The conversion of military equipment and weapons is a complex process that requires significant efforts and costs to carry it out.
When it is carried out, it is also necessary to take into account the need for museumification of equipment removed from service.
The author thanks the staff of the Novorossiysk City Administration Archive for their help in working on the materials.
Author: Sezin Sergey Yurievich
Kremenchuk National University named after Mikhail Ostrohradsky
Materials of the I All-Ukrainian scientific and practical conference November 19-20, 2015 Kremenchug
Archive of the Administration of the city of Novorossiysk, fund R-257, file 104
Archive of the Administration of the city of Novorossiysk, fund R-257, file 143
Archive of the Administration of the city of Novorossiysk, fund R-257, file 145
Archive of the Administration of the city of Novorossiysk, fund R-257, file 29
Archive of the Administration of the city of Novorossiysk, fund R-257, case 26a