Alaska News

New memorial honors WW II reindeer batallion

According to the Barents Observer, a new war memorial in the Arctic Russian town of Naryan-Mar recognizes the contribution and sacrifice during World War II of the world's only reindeer-based military transport battalion.

Some 1,000 indigenous reindeer herders, from across Russia's Arctic, and about 6,000 of their reindeer, were pressed into service at the Karelian Front between 1941 and 1944, where the Soviet Union fought against Nazi Germany and Finland.

In modern history, the Karelian Front was the setting of the only major military operations ever conducted above the Arctic circle.

The Nenets, Komi and Saami reindeer units and their herders served as couriers, kept supply lines going, towed disabled equipment for repair, and even conducted covert missions behind enemy lines.

Read more and see the memorial at the Barents Observer, here, and learn much more about indigenous Russia's sometimes reluctant contribution to the Soviet war effort, here.

Craig Medred

Craig Medred is a former writer for the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Dispatch and Alaska Dispatch News. He left the ADN in 2015.