With the German occupation of Sevastopol and Novorossiysk in 1942, the Soviet Black Sea Fleet had lost its primary naval bases. Its operations were shifted farther down the southeast coast to the city of Poti, whose port facilities were small and poorly equipped to serve as a naval base. An even smaller port, Gelendzhik, closer to Novorossiysk, picked up part of the workload. The recapture of Novorossiysk would provide the Soviet Black Sea Fleet with a base large enough to accommodate its naval forces. A diversionary force of 250 men landed on schedule in the vicinity of the small fishing village of Stanichka. Their purpose was to draw attention to themselves and away from the main landing at South Ozereika. Unofficially called smertniki (destined for death), they knew that there was little chance of their survival. Armed only with light infantry weapons, the men, led by Major Cesar L. Kunikov, were all volunteers from the 255th Naval Infantry Brigade. Cesar Kunikov was an experienced and capable officer, distinguished in prior actions on the Azov and Black Seas during 1941 and 1942. His men held him in the highest esteem. Legend has it that when Kunikov called for volunteers for his task force, he announced: “Who wants to go die with me?” More men than were needed stepped forward.
Attacker: German (Infanterie Regiment 186, Infanterie Division 73)
Defender: Russian (Special Commando Detachment, Black Sea Fleet)