The 11th season of the RGS Gogland search expedition to the outer islands of the Gulf of Finland has begun. It will be held from August 3 to 17 at Sommers. The history of the uninhabited rocky island – just a kilometer long and half a kilometer wide – is full of many dramatic events.
The first expedition of the Russian Geographical Society to Sommers took place in 2014. Then the expedition members installed a memorial stand on the island dedicated to the bloody battles of 1942. Then, every year, researchers tried to find the burial places of Soviet soldiers who died in the battles of 1939–1944. The efforts were crowned with success in 2022, when the remains of two Red Navy soldiers who died during the landing operation were discovered. Researchers were able to establish the names of the soldiers who died and went missing during the 1942 landing operation. Their names will be carved on a granite monument; expedition members will prepare a site for its installation this year. Search engines will also study the coastal part of the island to clarify landing sites from torpedo boats and small hunters and will continue to search for the graves of RKKF soldiers who fell during the Great Patriotic War.
— Every visit to Sommers is very exciting for me, — shares the expedition leader Ilya Durinsky. — It’s like coming home, this uninhabited island has become so familiar over the years. Our goal is not only to try to find all the buried soldiers and the places where the landing boats died, but also to collect all the information about the events that took place on Sommers, and to draw attention to the environmental situation – the man-made waste that has accumulated during the post-war years.
The expedition members will also install memorial signs and information stands with archival photographs and stories about the history of the island, continue collecting artifacts for the exhibitions of the Russian Geographical Society and the “Islands of Memory” exposition in Vyborg, and carry out cleanup work.
Based on the results of the expeditions, a map will be created with a detailed description of the history of the island, photo, film and video materials, and copies of archival documents. Thanks to this, everyone will be able to visit Somers and experience its history, at least virtually.
For 10 years, the Russian Geographical Society has been conducting scientific and exploratory activities in the Baltic region. Since 2013, participants in the northwestern complex expedition of the Russian Geographical Society “Gogland” have been forming and popularizing the chronicle of the outer islands of the Gulf of Finland.
The main goal of the RGS Gogland expedition is to conduct scientific, environmental and exploratory activities on the islands of the Baltic Sea.
More than 75 large objects of military-technical history and about 700 fragments of artifacts were found on the “memory islands,” which were transferred to Russian specialized museums; the site of the death of the Pe-2 aircraft crew on Bolshoi Tyuters Island was discovered. RGS specialists reconstructed the course of military operations on the islands during the war and perpetuated the memory of their participants – soldiers and commanders of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet.
In 2017, the initiative of the Gogland expedition participants was supported by the Russian government: the state nature reserve “East of the Gulf of Finland” was established, the creation of which had been discussed since the early 1990s. Now volunteers from all over Russia are conducting scientific, environmental and search activities on the islands.
In 2023, expedition members will continue search and memorial work on the outer islands of the Gulf of Finland and examine the burial sites of Soviet soldiers discovered in previous expeditions.