Yes, thanks, kgvm, I know this. The problem was that several Russian sources about "Krasny partizan" I found mention both possible reasons - enemy bombers [26.01.1943] or U-255, so I got the impression that there are no exact confirmations about U-255 attack against "Krasny partizan". For example, all sources mention without any doubts that "Ufa" [cargo steamer, 1892 brt, North State Sea Steamship Company, captain L.I. Patrikeev] was torpedoed by U-255 in the Barents Sea to the south of Is. Medvezhy (Bear Is.) 74°N 18°E [area AB-6380], 29.01.1943. "Ufa" left Murmansk 23.01.1943 and made run to Iceland alone, 39 crewmembers were lost [including captain].
Here is what I've written in my manuscript on the loss of KRASNYI PARTIZAN:
"A more fundamental decision was made in January 1943 that virtually all of the major ships operating from Arkhangel’sk, Murmansk and Belush'ya should move to the Pacific via the Kola-to-Iceland route. In all 40 ships, representing perhaps 80% of the total Soviet fleet operating in the Northern Theater, made a dash for the Pacific via this route. Included in this order, in addition to the ships returning from the aborted Northern Sea Route convoy, were Aldan, Belomorkanal, Belorussiya, Bureya, Ilmen, Kara, Krasnoe Znamya, Krasnyi Partizan, Kuzbass, Leonid Krasin, Msta, Ob, Okhta, Osmussar, Sakko, Sheksna, Shilka, Soroka, Ufa, Uritskii, Vanzetti, Vetluga and Volga.
"Three of the ships were lost during these voyages, which is not a particularly high rate of loss. Two of the ships, Ufa and Krasnyi Partizan, were both sunk on the same day by U.255. Krasnyi Partizan had been attacked first by German aircraft near Bear Island on 26 January 1943 and reported by radio that the ship was on fire. It was not heard from again and postwar records verify that it was subsequently torpedoed by U.255 on 29 January. After breaking in two the ship sank rapidly, without survivors. That same day, and in the same area, Ufa was sighted by U.255 and sent to the bottom without survivors among the crew of 29 or 39 depending on the sources referenced."
Thanks, Marty, for the detailed info. You mention that ~80% of Soviet merchant ships operating in the Northern Theatre [ports Murmansk, Arkhangelsk, Belysh'ya Guba
], participated in Pacific(?!) via Kola-to-Iceland route since the beginning of 1943. Pacific or Northern Atlantic
, no mistake? Also you forgot to mention port Severodvinsk
which was built very quickly in the beginning of 1942. Do you know the exact amount of Soviet merchant ships operated in North Atlantic/North Sea/Greenland Sea/Norwegian Sea/Barents Sea in 1943? Some amount of Soviet merchant ships continued runs alone and in local convoys along Kara Sea and were not used in North Atlantic operations that time - to say more, as no convoys came to Murmansk and Arkhangelsk during the first 8 months of 1943, chief of North Sea Route I.D. Papanin got the order in July 1943 to manage the arctic navigation in East Arctic because the amount of ships from USA to Far-Eastern ports [Vladivostok, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski, Providence bay] increased, near 45 ships with necessary cargos on board gathered in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski in autumn 1943.
Arctic navigation of 1943 was very hard because of weather conditions and German submarines in Kara Sea. 3 transports [convoy VA-8] with 2 icebreakers and 5 escorted warships reached Dikson 09.1943 but couldn't go father because of submarine activity. Convoy VA-18 [Vilkitski Strait-Dikson] consisted of 4 transports and 5 escort ships was attacked by submarines which sank 2 transports and also 2 separate transports were sank. So it was decided to leave 15 transports from another convoy in Dikson for wintering, that convoy [DB-1] performed run Dikson-Arkhangelsk in July 1944.
As for amount of transport ships operated in the Northern theatre, I found the following info: port Arkhangelsk received 53 transports in 1941, for example [during WWII Arkhangelsk and Severodvinsk received 342 transports]. Port Murmansk - received 9 convoys [114 transports] 01.-05.1942, 5 convoys [53 transports] - during winter 1942/43, 4 convoys [54 transports] - during winter 1943/44, 9 convoys [158 ships] - during winter/spring 1945: 379 ships total. The most activelly used Soviet icebreaker ("Lenin") participated in guiding of 778 transports [including 343 foreign] during WWII.
As for some small differences in sources [same area/date or not] - http://wunderwaffe.narod.ru/Magazine/MK/2003_N2/16.htm
[table of Soviet merchant ships and warships, sunk by German submarines in the Northern theatre during WWII] mentions that loss of "Krasny partizan" from U-255 took place 26.01.1943 to the west from Is. Medvezhy (Bear) whereas the loss of "Ufa" from U-255 happened 29.01.1943 to the south of the same island. Probably, the source confuses attack of bombers [26.01.1943 indeed] against "Krasny partizan" with the attack of U-255 [29.01.1943] against the same ship.