Sevastopol is a sea fortress, Crimea’s largest port city, the main basing site for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Sevastopol was founded on the site of the ancient Greek city of Chersonese on the instruction of Russian Empress Catherine II in 1784 after the end of the Russo-Turkish War as a result of which Crimea was annexed by Russia.
Sevastopol played a key role in the Crimean War of 1853-1856. The city was besieged by the united forces of Britain, France and Turkey. The city defenders resisted for a year and withstood several storms.
The events of those days called the First Defense of Sevastopol were actually repeated during the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. The Second Defense of Sevastopol started after the German armed forces invaded Crimea in September-October 1941. On September 30, German troops tried to seize the city at once, but were stopped. From November 2, they started attacking the external defensive line of the fortress. No ground units were left in the city, and defense was ensured by the Black Sea Fleet’s marines, coastguard batteries, separate training, artillery and antiaircraft units with fire support from vessels. At the same time, units of dispersed Soviet troops headed to the city.
The Soviet grouping was at first some 20,000 people. In late October, the Primorskaya Army was transferred by sea from Odessa; the reinforcement was up to 36,000 strong. The Siege of Sevastopol lasted 250 days. In June-July 1942, the Sevastopol garrison withstood for four weeks a continuous storm by the enemy’s superior forces. On July 9, 1942, when defense capabilities were exhausted, the city surrendered but up to its liberation in May 1944, underground partisan detachments were active in the city and throughout Crimea. They inflicted huge losses upon the invaders.