Saturday 24th of August 2019, 18:13 CET
Heroism in Feodosia
May 5, 2003
Moscow Times

Written by Vladislav Schnitzer
Posted by HW on August 23, 2019

Shortly after the end of World War II, I was posted to Sakhalin Island under the command of Lev Kudish, a tall, good-natured captain who was in charge of a small unit of technical specialists. He was older than the rest of us and was immediately recognizable by the bright mass of combat medals and ribbons on his chest. We had fewer medals as a rule, an indication not only of our relative youth but of the fact that we had seen much less action during the war.

Kudish and I were on friendly terms, so when we were off duty I had the habit of addressing him informally, and he never objected.

"Lyova," I asked once, "what did you get the Order of the Red Star for?" Kudish was a modest man and didn't like to talk about the war years.

Although he promised to tell me, I didn't learn of Kudish's exploits at the front for some time, and never from him. He took his memories to the grave with him. I found out about my late friend from his widow and from his former commander, Rear Admiral Alexei Gushchin, then commander of a battle cruiser in the Black Sea Fleet, the Red Caucasus.

Kudish had served under Gushchin as a senior lieutenant and took part in the famous marine landing in the German-occupied port of Feodosia. In December 1941, the cruiser boldly entered Feodosia harbor early one morning with several other ships and deposited a landing force of 4,500 soldiers right under the Germans' noses. The fleet commander told everyone involved in storming the port from the sea not to retreat under any circumstances. There was no turning back.

This was the beginning of the Soviet counterattack on the German-held Kerch Peninsula and the city of Feodosia, which staved off a German invasion of the Caucasus.

To moor the heavy cruiser at the pier in a ferocious gale required, as sailors say, dropping the hawsers on the shore. Gushchin, then a captain second rank, assigned this task to Senior Lieutenant Kudish.

The success of this operation was ensured by Lyova and the six-strong crew of the landing craft, which was lowered from the cruiser in full view of the enemy. The Germans' searchlight blazed through the predawn haze. It first picked out the battle cruiser, then lit up the landing craft, which immediately came under heavy machine-gun fire. Kudish and Seaman Chava were the first ones onto the pier. They silenced the nearest machine-gun nest with a few grenades, then dragged the hawsers on to the pier. The cruiser pulled closer to the shore, and the landing force poured onto the pier. Kudish was wounded and spent three months in hospital.

None of the sailors who landed at Feodosia that day are with us, but the memory of their heroism lives on.
 
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