The Embassy of the Soviet Union to the Department of State 2
On May 9, 1945, on the day of victory it was decided to put up in the city of Murmansk aerial defense balloons with flags of the Allied [Page 861] powers. At the time when a number of the balloons were already raised a heavy snowfall started due to which the other balloons were not raised and the ones that had already been put up were lowered. At that time the descending balloons were shelled by anti-aircraft artillery and machine-gunned from foreign vessels. According to declarations of the appointed commission of experts and through interrogations of a series of witnesses questioned it was ascertained that the balloons were fired at from American transports Stevenson Taylor, Albert C. Ritchie and Benjamin Hill and from the English crane vessel Lapland. The fire continued until the balloons were lowered and, while the balloons were touching the ground, shells and bullets were falling to the ground.
As a result of the bombardment of the said balloons several persons were wounded and one of them—Sergeant Shkolny—died as a result of a serious wound. The artillery fire burned down three balloons, three balloons were badly damaged and one burning balloon fell on the building of the club belonging to the repair shops of the Northern Fleet and caused fire in the club.
The Soviet Government in bringing this occurrence which has caused such serious consequences to the attention of the Government of the United States is expressing firm belief that the American authorities will take urgent measures and investigate the circumstances of this matter, hold the guilty responsible and reimburse the damage caused by these unlawful actions of the commands of the American transports; the size and nature of the damage is being ascertained and will be submitted additionally.
- Handed by the Chargé of the Soviet Union, Nikolay Vasilyevich Novikov, on June 5 to the Acting Secretary of State, Joseph C. Grew.↩