Olga Lizunova

From Taimyr to Krasin, from Arkhangelsk to Kamchatka

The victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 was the result of daily struggle over years, but not only on the front line. Ordinary people who worked selflessly during the war years also contributed to the victory. One of them is Olga Lizunova, who served on the Taimyr and Krasin icebreakers at that time.

War and romanticism are concepts that are worlds apart. In films about the Great Patriotic War, brave and courageous characters valiantly fight for their motherland and are not afraid of dying. However, the reality is not so nice. War involves constant fear and despair, hunger and privation, as well as the arduous, dedicated work of ordinary people, whether a robust man or a fragile young woman.

When the war began, Olga was 15. Even then her life was far from easy. The Lizunovs lived in a barracks with over 20 other families. Olga's parents worked hard and she kept pace with them. When the war broke out she went to work on the Taimyr icebreaker.

Olga served in the cook galley, helping the cook and carrying water from the shore. It was a difficult job for a young woman, but she coped. Olga worked abroad the Taimyr until the spring of 1942 and was then transferred to the Krasin icebreaker. Olga spent almost all her time in the hold, cleaning cabins and cooking food for the entire crew. She had to get up at five in the morning. There was a lot of work so she took almost no interest in what was going on above. "We went to Dikson, Tiksi, Kamchatka, and many bays. In one bay — I don't remember its name — wood boards were loaded aboard the icebreaker," the veteran said.

Olga recalls how enemy fire whizzed past their ship. One time she saw a mine pass near the hull and explode some distance away from the convoy. According to her, that happened when the convoy, including the Krasin, was attacked by torpedo bombers. Three cargo ships sank as a result. In 1943, the icebreaker sustained a big hole when it hit an underwater iceberg. The ship was sent to Vladivostok for repairs and a large part of the team was discharged. That was the end of Olga's service at sea. She returned to Arkhangelsk and got a job at a sawmill.

Despite the fact that Olga Lizunova contributed to the victory over Nazism on par with men, she was left in limbo for years. "For several years in a row nobody invited her to the May 9 celebrations, even though she's in her right mind and can take care of herself. But then we went to Deputy Borovikova, as a result of which she was invited to the May 9 event at the Eternal Flame on Mira [Peace] Square. Even though it was very cold and windy, she observed the parade and festivities with great pleasure," her cousin, Vyacheslav Kremlyov, said.

In the summer of 2016, Olga Lizunova turned 90. She is in great shape for her age — largely due to her active lifestyle. She meets with young people and attends important events. Ahead of the anniversary of the first allied convoy, Dervish, her spirits were even higher, Kremlyov said. Memorial events and concerts dedicated to the anniversary will take place in Archangelsk. Veterans have been invited.