Mass grave of BD-5 Convoy survivors found on Bely Island
© RIA Novosti. Vladimir Vyatkin

Mass grave of BD-5 Convoy survivors found on Bely Island

Researchers exploring Bely Island as part of a memorial and scientific expedition held under the 2015 Kara Expeditions project have found a mass grave, possibly with the remains of Soviet sailors and civilians from the BD-5 Arctic Convoy that sank in the Great Patriotic War, the Arctic Info news agency reports.

The burial site, which is believed to contain the remains of 12-25 individuals, was found on Cape Rogozin. Additional excavations have been postponed pending the arrival of a forensic expert to identify the remains.

A grave marker will be installed at the site.

In the meantime, the researchers have started unearthing a kungas boat from one of the BD-5's ships. After the boat is retrieved, it will be photographed with a 3D camera.  

The BD (White Sea-Dikson) No 5 (BD-5) Convoy left Severodvinsk on July 8, 1944. Sailing aboard the Marina Raskova large transport ship — in addition to its crew — were explorers travelling to their shift, the families of specialists working on Dikson, White Sea Flotilla servicemen, and civil employees of the Northern Sea Route's Main Department. The ship was carrying over 6,000 tons of food and technical cargo for the Kara Naval Base and the Nordvikstroy and Arctic stations.

In all, there were 752 people in the convoy.

On Aug. 12, 1944, the convoy was attacked by a German U-365 submarine. As a result, 378 Soviet servicemen and civilians were killed. Several dozen people managed to escape in a wooden kungas boat. The fragments were found last year by volunteers cleaning Bely Island. After reaching the shore, the boat's passengers struggled for their lives for a few more days, but were unable to survive the harsh Arctic conditions.

Researchers claim that there is a mass grave and several other burial sites on Bely.