Sergei Lisin, the memory of a Soviet submarine driver from the Spanish war

The war in Spain in 1936 is known to attract combatants, whether professional military or not, from many countries, among which those from the Soviet Union held a prominent position.

Born eighty years ago in the city of Sarator, in the interior of the Volga, in 1931 he went from the tractor factory where he worked to the Frunce Naval School, which was the first of its kind to open the doors in the USSR. Five years later he graduated as a diver and served as a seafarer in various units of this type of the Baltic and Black Sea fleets. In 1938 he was appointed to an advanced course. He was sent from Le Havre, Paris and Port Bou to Spain, where by that time the war was already turning worryingly for republican arms. After an initial contact, he traveled by plane to Cartagena in Barcelona, ​​where he had to fly over the strip of the Mediterranean coast under the power of General Franco’s army and from where they were exposed to a heavy anti-aircraft artillery fire.

Arrived in Cartagena, I was assigned as the second in command of the submarine C-2, the commander of which was the Soviet-German Gusmin, who was supposed to perish in the Black Sea during the 8GM. The ship caught my attention because of its very modern features, including excellent underwater maneuverability. The assigned tasks are to attack the adversary’s communications with the express order not to disrupt the traffic of ships sailing to or from enemy ports under the British or French flag. This limitation was enormous as most of the time it was not possible to find out what flag they were sailing under without exposing us and, on the other hand, it was forbidden to hold them for inspection. Both on the way to Palma de Mallorca and in front of the Vinaroz corridor we found boats that we were sure were Italian, even though they wore the colors of the UK or France, but we had to sit by them idly. The possibility of torpedoing an enemy naval unit only occurred once when we spotted the cruiser Canarias not far from Ceuta. Everything was ready to go when the political commissioner on board, an anarchist, informed us that the majority of the crew had decided to call off the attack. As a result, we closed the periscope and left there.

SOME remarkable people

When the C-2 was sent for repair, Lisin was reassigned to another Republican unit, the C-4, which was also commanded by a Soviet seaman, in this case Vladimir Yegorov, who would die in the waters of the Baltic Sea during World War II.

Again, the missions at sea ended with no practical result, which was due on the one hand to the commands of the command and later on the low morale of the crews. Lisin adds: Some of our most brilliant divers have toured Spain. In addition to those already mentioned, it is worth remembering Nikolai P. Yaguipko, who was in the Mediterranean and the Cantabrian Sea and was chief of a submarine brigade at the outbreak of World War II, to be a naval attaché in the fall of 1941 sent to London. In 1944 he returned to the USSR and joined the Navy General Staff. Most recently he was director of a naval school and died six years ago when he had resigned from the vice admiral. By the way, Jeguipkazy received our highest award, Hero of the Soviet Union, for crossing the Spanish War, Ivan Burmistrov, who also survived World War II. Strait of Gibraltar with complete success, under the conditions at the time and with the strong enemy presence there it was certainly not an easy task.

Photo: Commander C-7, Lisin’s memoir.

The list of commanders would not be complete if Ivan Cratchov were absent. He arrived in Spain at the very end when the submarines were very worn out and constantly being repaired. Gratchov is one of the twenty million Soviets who died in World War II and saved themselves from this fate, including Commander Eugenio Osipov, who was supposed to die as the director of a naval school. Other sailors acted like Lisin himself for seconds, including Piterski, who was Rear Admiral and head of one of the sections of the General Staff of the Navy, before retiring.

Because of the language, we had very few direct relationships with the Spanish. We were also not very aware of developments in the military situation and our information materialized in what was communicated to us through official means. And as for the dangers, he hasn’t been through many. Perhaps the worst situation was in Barcelona when we found that our ship was moored not far from the CAMPSA camps and we had suffered an air raid which caused them to catch fire. With most of the crew in town on vacation, we had to maneuver desperately and move away to avoid the sea, which was already burning around us, from destroying the ship.

In November 1938, Lisin returned to the USSR, where he was given command of the most modern submarine of the time, the CJ. He picked it up at the shipyards in Sormovo and immediately afterwards drove it up the Volga to the open sea in the Baltic Sea, to whose fleet he had been assigned. He was still there when the war broke out and from then on began with a war inauguration that would culminate in October 1942 when he managed to cross the protective barrier of a convoy of 16 ships in the course of a forty-day mission at sea, which drove in double order and sank the largest of them. They had to pay for the calamity by enduring the explosion of twenty-three deep charges stuck to the ground. The C-7 will sink four more ships, but her luck ran out when she returned home when the Finns spotted her at the entrance to the Leningrad Gulf and managed to sink her.

I was trapped in Finland for two years and when that country surrendered it came to me along with freedom. the news that my races in the Atlantic had given me the command of a Hero of the Soviet Union. It was a double pleasure.

He still had time to move to the newly activated Far Eastern front against Japan, where he took command of a submarine division in Port Arthur.


Sergei Lisin is the author of a book Commander C-7 —- published in 1986, which, along with a valuable piece, gives me his emblem of the submarine commander. And in the Navy of the USSR there is no diving badge, but only a commander, as well as another, worn on the right side of the warrior and received after a certain number of services. . Consequently, in order to get the emblem of a submarine commander, one must know and obtain at least one of them, which is not easy to get rid of.

In the above book, on the back of which is a photo of the International Brigades cemetery in Fuencarral, Madrid, which has now finally been saved for history, Sergai Lisin obviously speaks of his Spanish stage, although I like to suggest something I would have said to go into that, at least as far as the chapter on the Soviets who acted aboard the submarines is concerned. Note that this is one of the darkest chapters of Soviet involvement in the 1936-1939 Civil War, as there are few reliable reports and all of these combatants also used false affiliations that hide their real first and last names to this day. If, as shown, one button is enough, I’ll say that in the very documentary book Republican Submarines in the Spanish Civil War by Gonzalo Rodrguez Martn-Granizo and Jos Ignacio Gonzlez Aller, the aforementioned Nikolai P. Yaguipko and is called Nikolai Eguipco Greek communist adviser identified.

Of course, the error did not come from the authors mentioned above, but based on the incomplete and distorted documentation that exists today.

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