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a lake in the southeastern part of Primor’e Krai, RSFSR, near Pos’et Bay, on the border with the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea. The waters of Lake Khasan, which has an area of 2.23 sq km, flow into the Tanbogatyi River.
From July 29 to Aug. 11, 1938, the lake was the scene of an armed conflict between the Soviet Union and Japan, unleashed by the Japanese militarists. In July 1938 the Japanese command concentrated near the Soviet border at Lake Khasan three infantry divisions, a mechanized brigade, a cavalry regiment, three machine-gun battalions, and about 70 airplanes. On July 29, the Japanese troops suddenly invaded the USSR at Bezymiannaia Height but were quickly repulsed. However, on July 31, the numerically superior Japanese forces captured the tactically important Zaozernaia and Bezymiannaia heights. In order to rout the Japanese troops that had invaded the USSR, the Soviet command called in the reinforced 39th Corps, comprising the 32nd and 40th infantry divisions, and the 2nd Mechanized Brigade. Combat actions were directed by Corps Commander G. M. Shtern, chief of staff of the Far East Front; the front was under the overall command of Marshal of the Soviet Union V. K. Bliukher.
On August 2 and 3, attempts to drive the enemy from the heights using only the forces of the 40th Division proved unsuccessful. In the course of these two days, more than 15,000 men, 1,014 machine guns, 237 guns, and 285 tanks were concentrated in the combat area. On August 6, units of the 32nd and 40th divisions, supported by tanks and 250 aircraft, passed to the offensive. On August 9, Soviet territory was completely cleared of the Japanese aggressors. Several Japanese attacks were repulsed on August 10, and on August 11, combat operations ceased at the request of the Japanese government.
The battle at Lake Khasan was the first time since the Civil War that the Soviet Army had engaged in combat with an experienced imperialist regular army. The Soviet troops gained experience in the use of air and tank support and in the organization of artillery support for an offensive.
For their heroism and courage, the 40th Infantry Division was awarded the Order of Lenin and the 32nd Infantry Division and the Pos’et Frontier Unit were awarded orders of the Red Banner. Twenty-six men received the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, and 6,500 were awarded various orders and medals.
REFERENCESIstoriia Vtoroi mirovoi voiny, 1939–1945, vol. 2. Moscow, 1974.
Ezhakov, V. I. Geroi Khasana. Moscow, 1969.