De­scen­dants of WWII Soviet pilots visit Mar­tyrs’ Shrine

The China Post - - LOCAL -

De­scen­dants of two Soviet pilots who died fight­ing for the Re­pub­lic of China dur­ing the War of Re­sis­tance against Ja­pan that be­gan in 1937 vis­ited the Mar­tyrs’ Shrine in Taipei Fri­day, say­ing that they were im­pressed and touched by the site.

Evgeny Opasov, son of pi­lot Con­stantin Opasov, said through an in­ter­preter that he was “touched” to visit the shrine, which hon­ors R.O.C. mil­i­tary per­son­nel and for­eign sol­diers and of­fi­cers who helped the R.O.C. in the war against Ja­pan, among many oth­ers.

He told lo­cal re­porters af­ter tour­ing the shrine that he re­ally ap­pre­ci­ated the visit and was pleased to meet with Tai­wanese se­nior mil­i­tary of­fi­cers.

An­drey Matveev, grand­son of late Soviet pi­lot Niko­lai Matveev, said that it is very im­por­tant that Tai­wan has such a site to re­mem­ber those who sac­ri­ficed their lives in the eight-year war.

The war was part of WWII, in which Ja­pan and the other Axis Pow­ers were de­feated by the Al­lied Pow­ers.

Not­ing that they both re­ceived com­mem­o­ra­tive medals a day ear­lier from Pres­i­dent Ma Ying-jeou, Matveev said it is very im­por­tant that Tai­wan is mark­ing the an­niver­sary of the end of the war with sig­nif­i­cant events.

Col. Wang Huei-ming, who re­ceived the two visi­tors on be­half of the De­fense Min­istry, ex­pressed grat­i­tude for their visit to the shrine.

The shrine not only hon­ors ROC mil­i­tary who died dur­ing the war against Ja­pan, but also re­mem­bers for­eign sol­diers who died in help­ing the R.O.C. in the fight, Wang noted.

Dur­ing a five-day visit to Tai­wan, the visi­tors will also at­tend an ex­hi­bi­tion or­ga­nized by Academia His­tor­ica fea­tur­ing the R.O.C.’s vic­tory over Ja­pan in the war and the retro­ces­sion of Tai­wan fol­low­ing Ja­panese col­o­niza­tion which will open Satur­day.

The ex­hi­bi­tion is part of a se­ries of events be­ing held to mark the an­niver­sary of the end of the war.

The ac­tiv­i­ties are be­ing held in Tai­wan be­cause it is known for­mally as the Re­pub­lic of China.

That was the name used for all of China from 1912 to 1949, but the R.O.C.’s seat of gov­ern­ment moved to Taipei af­ter the Na­tion­al­ist gov­ern­ment was de­feated by the Com­mu­nists in the Chi­nese civil war and re­treated to Tai­wan.

The two Soviet pilots were part of an avi­a­tion vol­un­teer group from the Soviet Union that went to China upon the sign­ing of a mil­i­tary tech­ni­cal as­sistaw nce agree­ment be­tween the two coun­tries in Au­gust 1937. Be­tween 1937 and 1941, the Sovi­ets pro­vided thou­sands of mil­i­tary ex­perts, air crew and ground staff to sup­port the R.O.C. Air Force in train­ing and in bat­tle, the De­fense Min­istry said.

Dur­ing the four years, the group par­tic­i­pated in 10 ma­jor bat­tles against Ja­pan, shoot­ing down 459 Ja­panese planes and sink­ing more than 100 Ja­panese ships, the min­istry said.

How­ever, more than 200 Soviet vol­un­teer pilots died dur­ing that


Evgeny Opasov, left, son of Con­stantin Opasov, a Soviet pi­lot who died fight­ing for the Re­pub­lic of China dur­ing the War of Re­sis­tance against Ja­pan, of­fers a wreath at the Mar­tyrs’ Shrine in Taipei, yesterday.

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