Battle of Lake Baikal

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Battle of Lake Baikal
Part of the Russian Civil War
Date August 16, 1918
Location Lake Baikal, Siberia
Result Czechoslovak Victory
Belligerents
BohemiaCzechoslovak Legion Soviet Union Red Army
Commanders and leaders
Bohemia Radola Gajda
Strength
Two steamships armed with four howitzers The ships Bajkal and Angara, defense of Mysova and an armored train
Casualties and losses
Bajkal sunk, harbor and train station destroyed

The Battle of lake Baikal was probably the only naval battle to be undertaken by Czechoslovak forces.

Background

In August of the year 1918 the Czechoslovak legion, under the leadership of Gajda, fought the Red Army for control of the mountain passes around lake Baikal which were well defended. Gajda was troubled by the fact that Baikal was completely under the control of the Red Army's ships, which threatened the Czechoslovak units with landing units to the legion's rear.

While occupying various ports on the shores of the Baikal, the Czechoslovak legionaries managed to capture two enemy steamships, the "Sibirjak" and the "Fedosia". These were later refitted with a pair of Howitzers each.

Battle

On the August 15, the Czechoslovak "fleet" sailed out of Listvyanka. By noon on the August 16, the ships were about 8 km from the port in Mysova in heavy fog. After a few minutes, the fog started dissipating and the ships spotted Mysova. The Red Army forces defending the town were under the impression that the approaching ships were friendly vessels bringing in supplies. This allowed the ships to approach the harbor to a distance of approximately 4 km. By the time the defenders of Mysova realized their error, it was too late. The icebreaker Bajkal tried to initiate fire upon the Czechoslovak ships but they were faster. They began to fire, both at the Bajkal and at the harbor. The Bajkal was sunk and general confusion erupted in Mysova. The train station was in flames. An armored train arrived after half an hour of Czechoslovak bombardment. Guns were offloaded from it and began to return fire upon the Czechoslovak ships. Since the main mission of destroying the harbor and train station were completed, the legionaries left the battle. On the return journey they met the enemy ship Angara which decided to evade battle. The rest of the journey was uneventful and they returned to Listvyanka without any further incidents.

References

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