Personal Finnish War Stories

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Lotvonen
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Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 29 Mar 2023 05:11

Bombing sortie

Onni Kuuluvainen

Magazine “Kansa Taisteli”, 9. 1963

NCO Onni Kuuluvainen was trained as an aerial gunner in the late 30's. When mobilized in 1939 the Sarge seeing his papers sent him into an infantry MG Company where Pvt. Kuuluvainen fought up to January 1940. He applied for pilot training, and was accepted.

During the Continuation War NCO Kuuluvainen was assigned to T Le Lv 16 where he flew Gloster Gladiators, Westland Lysanders and Fokker C. X aircraft in Eastern Carelia.

In 1943 he applied for twin engine training and was assigned to P Le Lv 46 as a pilot.

Inexorably but painfully slowly the watch in the yoke top is measuring time. The crews are waiting in the bomber cockpits – the entire Squadron is ready to take off. The aircraft have been pulled out of their splinter shelters and the bomb bays are loaded with death.

Finally on the right there is the rising sound of an electric starter – soon an engine is running . DN-57 observer Lt. Ottonen smiles and our gazes meet. He nods – it is the hour to join the chorus.

I am applying at the electric starter button while the radio operator is priming the engine. The left engine is turned on, it is shaking. While adjusting the revs I am also starting the right one

A giant rumbling is enveloping the base as the bombers are warming up their engines. The radio operator is tuning hie gear but there is an absolute radio silence on in order not to allow enemy listening posts any cues. Only the intercom is on and the transceivers are on “receiving” only. The transmitter is not to be used but in emergency.

The engine noise on the right is rising – I know it is the squadron leader testing his engines. Quickly I do the same – then beckon the mechanics to remove chocks. The same moment the leader is rolling off from the trees to the runway – a huge dusts cloud is rising. I am following the leader in order not to lose him in the dust.

The DB flight is already assembled on the runway – we are parking after them – very close. Other aircraft are grouping behind us – A/b Mensuvaara is alive, shrouded in dust. It is the 5th July 1944, 19.20hrs . FAF Bomber Squadron P Le Lv 46 is about to take off.

The dust cloud swirling about us is getting thicker. It is signalling that the first aircraft are taking off, although unseen due to the dust. The aircraft on my left is almost totally shrouded in dust, yet I can see that the pilot is already applying more power. Slowly the heavily laden bomber starts rolling and vanishes in an ever thickening dust cloud.

I am taking time with the help of the watch on the yoke, accelerating the engines while applying brakes to the limit. 10...20...25...30 – Now. I release the brakes and the aircraft dashes into the dust cloud. I am hoping that the runway is free and no one has been compelled to abort the start – this thought flashes through my mind as I am concentrating in my own take-off.

I am gently applying the controls while watching how the speed is going up – the surface of the runway is racing past while visibility is next to zero. 130 – 140 – 150 – 160 – 170 are the readings of the speedometer, the big undercarriage wheels are bumping at the runway ever more gently until I carerfully coax the aircraft off the ground. Flying by instruments I let the a/c climb evenly – suddenly the dust cloud vanishes and is left behind.

The clear evening sky is gleaming in front of us. Ahead there are other a/c flying. The leading a/c are slowing down and soon the entire Squadron, flight-wise, is heading for the target in tight formation.

There are Four Dorniers in our flight. I am flying on the left wing of the leader, watching the slender silhouettes of the other a/c against the evening sky. Our machine, a German Dornier Do 17 Z-2 alias “Flying pencil” is proceeding nicely in the formation and she is nice to pilot. Despite her reputation she is getting slow and outdated. Our casualty list has increased rapidly recently, our numbers have gone considerably down during the three weeks of this intense warfare, the turning point of the war.

The entire Finnish armed force are under heavy pressure and our tiny Air Force are doing their best to support the Infantry, mostly unnoticed by them. The daily dwindling FAF bomber force is carrying bombs constantly at the flood of enemy material rolling on the roads of the Carelian Isthmus to create even some stop at this endless stream.

As to me it was my second bombing sortie today. In the very early morning I had been raiding at Tali with another a/c and a partly different crew. Then the observer had been Lt. Vohlonen, now in the leading a/c as I was told. The morning raid had been an excellent success and we had scored good hits with our heavy bombs at the tanks parked at the “Four roads crossing” but the enemy AA had been heavy – now the bomber I had flown was being repaired.

Now we were heading for Pölläkkälä – it seemed that the entire LeR4 (Flying Regiment 4, the FAF bomber outfit) had been deployed including BL:s (Blenheims)- JK:s (JU-88) from Onttola -DB:s and DN:s from Mensuvaara.

The timetable is planned and tight, no delay is allowed. In case any of the Squadrons would not make it at the designated marching threshold within a time frame of 30 seconds or at the rallying point where the fighter escort is waiting ´-they have to return to their vase because covering a bomber stream this large is already a huge task for our few fighters.

At the marching threshold our bomber formation has become one comprising squadrons with a definite position and altitude. Taking into account the various speeds of each aircraft type it has not been an easy task, since the aircraft arrived from several separate air bases.

We have not yet made it to the front line before the enemy heavy AA batteries are greeting us with a huge barrage. It does not make any sense to count the “fur hats”, there are so many of them that “one cannot decide which of them to take and put on” as we are in the habit of saying. The AA shell explosions have soon created a full cloud cover around our aircraft.

Only those who were flying over the Carelian Isthmus theatre during that period know what kind of an AA there was. Even the supporting Luftwaffe Stuka airmen claim that they never saw such an AA as here on the Isthmus – and they had seen several European theatres of war, even over London. They may know what they are talking about. But now is not the time to think and ponder, our bombers cannot start evasive manoeuvring. One has just to press on and trust on one's luck. Every time a burning aircraft is seen diving down every airman is hoping that the lads would be able to bail out. Some did, some did not. Some managed to get through the front line, others returned as POWs were exchanged and some were left missing.

Now no one is thinking of that. Our Squadron is manoeuvring into a bombing line, our place is 50 m behind the leader, a little below to steer clear of prop wash. It is of vital importance that at the moment of bomb release the aircraft is flying steadily with the exact speed and altitude data set in the bombsight.

The leading bomber has opened her bomb doors, we are also ready to bomb. The observer has activated the release mechanism and is calling out direction adjustment while watching the target through the bombsight:
-A bit left – some more – right so - right so – doing fine – right so, good direction, keep her straight -

I can hear my observer's calm voice in the headphones while my eyes keep scanning the instruments, yet I cannot help seeing darker and whiter puffs of explosions appearing in front of and around the aircraft while the pressure blasts of AA shells are thrusting the aircraft here and there however hard I am struggling to keep the course steady. Pieces of fire, as large as one meter long pieces of firewood, are criss-crossing about us -when incoming heads-on they appear to be hitting right in one's face yet in the last possible moment they vanish under the aircraft or miss her. If anything should happen, maybe one would not be able to register it ? Somehow all of this appears to be just the name of the game and not frightening any more. It is just before start that a minor feeling of uncertainty might plague the airmen, some more, some less.

Bombs are dropping out of the leading aircraft, at a rate timed by the release mechanism, Twenty 50 kilogram SC bombs are about to hit sowing death and destruction among the enemy. The ones in the target do not have an easy time, either. The leading aircraft is turning aside and goes into dive to get out of the range of the AA guns as soon as possible.

Evening sun is shining at the horizon somewhere. In the passing I spot four or five fighters passing in front of us. Their silhouettes are oddly red when seen against the sun.
“What an odd colour for our Mersus now” is a thought flashing in my mind but now is the very moment bomb release, there is no time to watch or think anything else.

Our target is 3500m below us but up here we still are able to see how the roads and roadsides are full of vehicles and material. The tanks parked in the forest by the road are our objective.
They are now in our bomb sight, our bombs depart for their journey – the aircraft appears to climb, being lighter now -.
-Fighters behind, the radio operator Cpl. Tervo yells and opens up with one of his dorsal MG s, but the very moment I am pushing the yoke to make the aircraft dive while turning hard. In the same moment a heavy AA shell explodes right behind our tail, tipping the aircraft in an almost vertical dive.

“-They weren't Mersus after all “flashes in my mind. The crew is fumbling for their seat belts as pressure waves keep buffeting the aircraft.
-Are we hit? Are we bailing out? -urgent questions are sounding in my earphones while we keep diving.
-No problems, we are going to hit the deck, I am consoling the lads. The radio operator and the “belly gunner” are both firing their MG s as if competing. The cockpit is full of smoke. Cpl. Tervo calls out to Cpl Paakkinen, the belly gunner:
-Look out ! One of them is getting below us !
-Can't see anyone, he responds but immediately opens up and confirms he has seen him.

The bomber is still dropping down in vertical dive. The speed is increasing: 550 – 570 – 600 – 620 [kmh]. The entire aircraft is shaking – airstream is howling around us and I am fully occupied in keeping her in dive. I order the observer to turn the horizontal rudder trim wheel behind my seat into nose heavy position – our aircraft stabilizes her dive although I keep turning her with ailerons to prevent the fighters from getting a good aim.

Judging by the talk of the gunners two La-5 fighters are pursuing us but the enemy AA keeps firing disregarding them – and hitting closer to their own than us since the hits are staying behind us.

-Now our speed is already 640 to 650 kmh and our Dornier is under heavy stress. The ground keeps getting closer albeit at a snail's pace. The engines are howling in the verge of over-revving and I am in a hurry to adjust the prop pitch with the electric switches in the roof of the cockpit – to increase the prop pitch and save the engines from seizing .

Now the earth is approaching at a wild rate and I am pulling out of the dive but the yoke appears to have stuck and I am unable to provide enough pull with my arms. Again I have to resort to the trim wheel. Slowly the vibrating heavy aircraft is levelling – now I have pulled her out of dive, with much effort just as a crash appeared to be certain. Urgency gives one a boost and finally I have taken the aircraft in level flight.

I am continuing the sortie “at deck”, evading all higher ground obstacles and the AA fire that I manage to spot. The fighters have disappeared somewhere. Maybe they considered that we were done for or their own AA foiled their intent. But the AA has not abandoned us. Light AA fire is incoming from every directions and “glowing coals” are cruising around us – at times there is a snap in our aircraft. There are 40mm shells at times, but I keep pushing ever lower, seeking the cover of the terrain, and we are not taking serious hits.

Suddenly the speed starts decreasing menacingly . 280 – 270 -260 – what is the matter ? I am applying full power but the speed is still decreasing although the engines appear to be running evenly. The tail of our Dornier is sinking ever lower although the normal attitude is hanging low. The speedometer reading keeps changing: 250 -240 -230 and the higher spots of the terrain are becoming troublesome. Then I get it: the props are in such a high pitch that the engines are not able to provide enough torque. The prop pitch switches must be adjusted at once. Does the adjusting mechanism react in time ? The aircraft is “hanging” badly - airspeed below 200 kmh – she is on the verge of stalling as I have to pull the yoke to clear a hill in front of us.

Finally the prop pitch is readjusted and our speed starts to increase. It is now easier to fly at the deck and I am better able to dodge AA fire. From a hilltop a 20mm gun opens up at us and I have to push down right to the level of the field as tracers are sweeping overhead.

What a long time this sortie is taking, I am wondering to myself because in my opinion I have been heading for the front line although during low level flying there has been no time to check the compass. Suddenly large town houses appear in front of us to my considerable surprise. The place, the houses appear familiar to me – and they are. I would recognize one of the buildings any time – it is the Viipuri castle. We are passing the Monrepos park, I am turning almost over my home at Suomenvedenpohja via Kivisilta and Hietalanharju to a/b Mensuvaara.

That was the last time I saw the castle in my home town for the last time, it was already occupied by the enemy. The other crews were already waiting for us in the base, this time it was no-one's turn to fail to return. The war continued, many of us failed to return before the armistice. Lt. Ottonen was among them.

SPK20186 P Le Lv 46 war diary extract:
5.7.1944
00.28hrs a/c DN-51, -57,-59 and DF-23 and DB-17 took off for a bombing sortie.
[Target: Enemy artillery grouped N of Tali, tr.rem]
01.50hrs All a/c returned to base with mission accomplished
02.30hrs Mission report no. 87/44 (467/III)
10.45hrs Rgt issued preparatory order for a raid.
11.02hrs Rgt issued an order to raid enemy landing vessels E of Teikarsaari island.
11.15hrs Squadron order on a bombing sortie. (468/III)
11.55hrs a/c DN-51, -57,-59 and DF-23 and DB-17 took off for a bombing sortie.
13.25hrs All a/c returned to base with mission accomplished .
14.20hrs Mission report no. 88/44 (469/III)
14.30hrs Rgt issued preparatory order for a raid at Pölläkkälä.
14.35hrs Capt. Lehto took off in VI-15 for Rissala.
18.00hrs Rgt issued preparatory order for a raid W of Pölläkkälä.
18.50hrs Rgt issued an order to raid.
19.00hrs Squadron order on a bombing sortie. (470/III)
19.35hrs a/c DN-51, -57,-59 and DF-23 took off for a bombing sortie.
20.05hrs Capt. Lehto landed VI-15 upon return from Rissala.
20.45hrs All a/c returned to base with mission accomplished .
21.30hrs Mission report no. 89/44 (471/III)
(end of day)

Mission reports are not available.

War dead database extract:

Ottonen, Jorma . Rank : Luutnantti
B. 18.08.1920 Johannes D. 26.07.1944 age 23
Unit: Lentolaivue 46
MIA, pronounced dead. Memorial at Rauma, old cemetry.
Civilian job: Clerk, no children

Lotvonen
Member
Posts: 821
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 02 Apr 2023 05:31

Incidents at Kitee in July 1941

By Anonymous

Unpublished manuscript no.0016 from the archive of “Kansa Taisteli”

Memoir of a Platoon Leader , 43. Rajakomppania (Border Guard Company)

43.RajaK together with Kev.Os. 18 had attacked on the 9th July 1941 at Konnunmäki in Kitee and failed. After 43.RajaK had withdrawn they were set up to defend at the line Haapavaara -Konnunmäki.

After a few calmer days mutual patrolling was soon quite lively. Getting tired of this sleepy “phony war” I decided to check the farmhouse of my neighbour, farmer Unne Hämäläinen together with my Runner, volunteer Pvt. Toivo Happonen. The farm, situated next to the national border, had been hastily evacuated with the result that some of the loose property had been left behind, including a couple of pigs and a flock of hens. Border guards used to feed the animals occasionally, military duties allowing, and took fresh eggs as their reward.

The farm was situated about 1 ½ km from the RajaK C.P and no more than some 500m from the front line. After the outbreak of war the front line had lost its significance. The farmhouse was situated next to a small boggy pond.

At first we tried our luck at angling at the nearby pond, but it was a wind-still summer day and 1100hrs, there was no catch. We gave up fishing and decided to seek some hen's nests in the loft of the cowshed. We were quite lucky and found a couple of nests, soon we had a field cap full of fresh eggs. We were about to leave the cowshed loft through tall pair doors and the overpass bridge as my Border Guardsman instinct made me peek out at the door post before stepping out. I saw a chilling sight: A one hundred man Russian patrol or strike force, whatever, was approaching the pond in a single file.

I signalled my Runner to be absolutely still and had another peek under the door, not having believed my eyes yet. No – there was a group of enemies approaching the building. We slipped soundlessly to the rear of the loft and tried to open the rear window but in vain. It was nailed shut and anyway the drop to the ground would have been too high. We hid ourselves under the pile of straw there, hoping dearly that the dust we had breathed would not make us cough and also that the enemy would not check the cowshed too diligently or set it in fire.

Having listened for a while we dared to emerge from hiding and observing carefully the surroundings we headed for the C.P to alert the Company. Our CO Lt. Silvennoinen refused to believe our report and did not alert Lin.P 12 led by Capt. Koskenmies. At my suggestion a strong patrol was sent to verify our report. The patrol returned one hour later, with pale faces and confirmation of our report. However countermeasures were too late to intercept the enemy patrol that could return unscathed. The securing of Lin.P 12 obviously could have been better !

I wish to add that I and my Runner were armed with pistols only, that is why we did not engage the well armed superior enemy patrol. If we had had SMGs and a chance to disengage it would have been another matter. We could have alerted our troops by opening fire. But now we had to stay put and seek support as soon as possible. The lesson learned by us was that never more a man or a small outfit was sent in the terrain without being well armed.

At mid July 1941 we again were attacking with two Companies of Kev.Os.18 to take the terrain at Uuksila. My Platoon was deployed on the right wing of the attack to secure and also take care of orientation. We managed to group undisturbed by the enemy but on no-man's-land a barrage surprised us. Every man sought cover yet our Company was not significantly scattered.

After the mortar strafe we continued our advance. When we found ourselves in front of the Vehnivaara stronghold, well manned by the enemy, I was passing a dense fir tree and found myself staring down the barrel of an autoloading rifle in the hands of an enemy soldier. The man was well camouflaged in a kind of grass like hood totally blending in the shadow of the fir. Also he had been standing behind the tree trunk, I was totally unable to spot him before passing him.

My Platoon was following me in a double file at a distance of 4 to 5 m. I stopped short, quickly considering my chances in this situation. I had been totally surprised but the enemy was not better off. Certainly he could shoot me but it would also be the end of his journey on earth. The distance to his trench was hundreds of meters of totally open ground. The recent mortar barrage had proven that we had been spotted.

I was feverishly thinking what to do, hoping the Neighbour being able to keep his nerve. He had his finger on the trigger but my hand was hopelessly far from my SMG trigger, even though the Tikkakoski product was hanging on my hip. Slowly I raised my hand and said the enemy with my bad Russian: Nyet streljat !

The man nodded his head, understanding the situation, lowered his weapon and started running for his line. I yelled an order to my Platoon forbidding everyone from shooting. Fortunately the lads understood the situation and refrained from shooting. Tit for tat, another two KIA would not have made any difference to any side. I do not know what happened to my adversary later. I do hope he managed to stay alive.

We had to return from this mission empty-handed after being kind of surrounded for a while. The failure of the attack was this time decisively effected by 1.K/Kev.Os18 alias Capt. Kautola's Company getting stuck in front of an enemy forward stronghold in no-man's-land, unable to defeat it. As the enemy kept pushing their securing quite far from their strongholds to no-man's-land where they tried to ambush our recce patrols, Kev.Os18 CO Maj. K Backman ordered our securing to be extended on no-man's-land. Yet it was easier said than done because behind our securing there was open field and wire hindrance line built by the enemy. Also our forward twin sentry posts were under constant threat of being taken POW. Consequently our sentries were quick to retreat having heard the smallest noise.

I cannot recall the date but I was once again returning another “tenderfoot sentry pair” back to no-man's-land, they had retreated head over heels having hear some sounds there. We reached without problems the spot in terrain which had been ordered as their sentry post. I was just briefing the sentries as from the bushes in front of us emerged noises of enemies running away. Our men bolted off again ! However I managed to trip down one and grabbed another, by chance at his throat. I asked them where the hell they were going with such hurry, abandoning their sentry post and leaving me behind among enemies? The men were ashamed and admitted they had been scared by the noise in the bushes. I tried to calm them down and explained that both sides do not have to run if one of them bolts. Anyway, it was nothing serious as not a single shot had been fired.

To further calm my men down I ordered them to take their positions and secure while I would take a look at the surroundings. There was a rectangular shaped piece of field in the forest some 15 to 20 m to the left and ahead, I sneaked to the perimeter armed with a (captured) scoped rifle to observe. I took a look between the stakes of the fence. Being careful paid off: after a while on the far side of the field appeared at least three enemies. One of them, probably an officer, rose a little to view over the fence with his binocular. I pushed the rifle barrel between the fence stakes and watched him through the sighting scope. In my opinion the Russian officer was either inexperienced or too eager. He would not live long in that manner. Since sniping is not for me I refrained from shooting. I was there, immobile, waiting for the Neighbour to stop observing, then I could withdraw undetected. That man never knew how close to death he had been. As to me I was thinking that a small dose of humanity in war does not do any damage. In ongoing battle it would be another matter, it is not a place for feelings or consideration.

At the second half of July 43.RajaK was assigned a wider piece of front line. Kev.Os.18 had been transferred into Divisional reserve in the Nastalampi terrain. My Platoon was ordered to man stronghold “Ilvesvaara”. Despite the fine name (“Lynx hill”) there were neither lynxes nor a hill, just a minor ridge. A Fortification Platoon was assigned to me as reinforcement. In that stronghold the greatest risk was the constant harassment shelling with mortars directed at the bivouac area in the rear of the stronghold, making casualties.

The only rational countermeasure was against common reason and principles of tactics. We moved our tents in front of the stronghold in no-man's-land in the cover of dense patch of fir forest between our trench and a field. After that we had no more casualties, instead we had to suffer being constantly chewed up by our CO. The Fortification Platoon that had dug up behind the ridge was constantly suffering casualties. “God protects madmen and drunken people” as a Finnish saying goes. We were none of that kind but we had solved our bivouac problem in a manner that the enemy could not expect. That is why they left us alone.

My Platoon included six young volunteers hailing from Kitee, with only a two to three week military training. Most of my men were over aged or poorly trained reservist rejected by the other platoons. This meant that the battle-worthiness of my outfit was quite questionable specially in demanding offensive action. Moreover, our weaponry was deficient and we were not allowed to keep our war booty, which resulted in my Platoon having next to none firepower. I do not think my men could be blamed for these facts, they did try to do their best in these demanding circumstances. It is also clear that such a low quality outfit would bungle more than usual. Sometimes there were annoying, at times amusing incidents, specially involving the young volunteers.

One of these chappies- whose name I unfortunately forgot- was in sentry duty in the middle of day in the Ilvesvaara stronghold armed with a LMG. It was a hot and sweaty July day. The sentry post was separated from no-man's-land by a 10 to 15m wide clear cut swath with a wire in the middle. Our CO Lt. Silvennoinen suddenly arrived to inspect our stronghold. Without advance warning we went to the said sentry post. We saw that the sentry had placed the LMG leaning against the sandy wall of the trench. Sand had seeped into the muzzle cone rendering the weapon useless. The chap was sitting one the parapet, his back to the enemy, sunning himself and immersed in reading a copy of the “Apu” magazine.
What's the news ? The Company CO asked.
Lieutenant, Sir, I am not quite sure, this is an instalment of a story and the final part shall be published in the coming number of the magazine, but it sure is a great story!

I was expecting our CO to “blow up” being known as a brisant man but admirably he held his cool. After this incident these volunteers were no more ordered to do sentry duty alone.

One day several consecutive shots were heard in the rear of the stronghold. Immediately I took two SMG men and set out to check what was going on. We met the same volunteer with a broomhandle Mauser in one hand, still smoking, and a dead hooded crow in the other hand. Proudly he explained that “I did get that damn bird when I really bombarded him!” We returned our tents and there I explained him that crow hunting without advance warning was not quite desirable since it always would result in an alert, maybe more dire results.

Later these volunteer lads were transferred according to the GHQ order to training camps to receive further training.

Due to the hasty evacuation of civilians the farmers near the border had abandoned numerous domestic animals, mostly hens, pigs and calves that our men tried to look after as they best could. A couple of pigs and one calf had found their way in our supply platoon. The pigs were quick to learn war skills, if you can say so, because in case of incoming artillery or mortar shelling they immediately took cover under our field kitchen or other vehicles. The calf, on the other hand, was fond of patrolling since getting a chance it would escape through the patrol gap in the wire to the enemy side. We had to retrieve it, risking our lives. These brave war companions of ours managed to stay alive, in spite of the dire circumstances, until their owners returned from evacuation.

I wish to recount one more bungle although it did not happen to my platoon, it illustrates the circumstances during the offensive stage of the Continuation War.

JR 9 was in action at the Latvasyrjä plateau, a difficult terrain, squeezing the enemy from three sides on the 7th to 9th August 1941. 2nd Lt. Mustonen's Company of 43.RajaK had been relieved to R&R. They were ordered to bivouac on a hillside near the enemy stronghold in Latvasyrjä where the reserve of the Regiment was. Both Mustonen and his Company were exhausted to the extreme, they immediately fell asleep once in their tents.

Then one scattered enemy outfit, escaping from Latvasyrjä, happened to find their way to Mustonen's bivouac The enemy pushed the tents over and ran on. Sleep-drunk Lt. Mustonen extricated himself from the collapsed tent, pulled his broomhandle Mauser and ran hard down the slope with the men he saw there. Having proceeded about one hundred meters he began to recover his senses. Finding himself running in the middle of enemies he slowed down by the by and once alone, made a hasty about turn and ran again. In the melee the enemy had not spotted him !

Afterwards these bungles may be reminisced with a smile although at the moment back then one was not amused.

(43.RajaK suffered 27 KIA during their existence as an outfit, 20 of which during June to August 1941)


SPK21331 43. RajaK war diary, actually an observation log book:

7th July to 7 Aug 1941: no entries.

43.RajaK was subordinated to Kev.Os.18 .

SPK 16984 Kev.Os. 18 war diary: (Neatly typed document)

9th July
ATTACK PLAN AGAINST HAAPAVAARA
On the right : 2.K, on the left: Border Guards 1.K and the rest of KKK as reserve.
02.20hrs Attack launched.
02.35hrs 2.K platoons arrived at the perimeter of Haapavaara village. Artillery barrages.
Platoons reached the barbed wire fence (sic) but some of the troops had stayed back.
02.45hrs Very intense Russki barrage (mortars, artillery and one 6” gun), MG and LMG fire.
05.30hrs (about) Troops withdrew but most of 2.K and the subordinated MG platoon had fled in confusion, some as far as Kärsäkkälä. Personally I headed for the C.P on the borderline clear-cut without meeting him [2.K CO maybe? tr.rem]. (He may have found himself in the cellar of the house). Next I withdrew using the road to SW from the C.P up to the houses, harassed by mortar fire. Pvt. Takala, Paavo who was with me was sllightly wounded.
07.00hrs (about) I tried to liaise with 19.D HQ to learn about Majuri and for eventual instructions. I was told that Capt. Kuistio is coming to the front line.
08.00hrs (about) Capt. Kuistio arrived and I joined him to liaise with the CO. He was not in the houses at Haapavaara neither in his previous C.P.
Next we entered the forest on the left where the Border Guard Coy was still fighting, and learned that the CO had passed them on his way to Kouru village. We met him there.
BG Coy was tasked to secure Kouru village and to salvage abandoned equipment.
Fortification Battalion set up securing.
11.00hrs Meal.
In the evening the CO [Divisional? Tr.rem.] ordered 2.K/Kev.Os.18 to be dispersed for cowardice and desertion.
10th July
08.00hrs CO headed for Divisional HQ.
10.50hrs He returned.
2nd Lt. Yrjänä was assigned to set up a new Company comprising the replacements received in the evening.
11.00hrs CO to the 2.K/KevOs18 dispersal occasion in Närsäkkälä where the Div. CO was expected to be present.
(casualty list of the Haapavaara battle comprises 1+0+3 KIA and 51 WIA)
16.30hrs Briefing by CO for launching another attack.
1K. shall attack on the left to the direction of Pt. 112 to Uuksila.
Border Guard Coy shall attack on the right to the direction of Välivaara.
2.K in reserve and partly in securing. KKK: one platoon subordinated to 1.K and another to Border Guard Coy. Lt.P.11 and Lt.P.12 securing.
17.00hrs (Organizational re-postings announced)
19.15hrs Artillery preparation started.
20.00hrs Attack launched.
23.10hrs Coys reporting: Advancing successful so far.
11th July
1.K report: They are forced to retreat to the jump-off positions. They had taken heavy MG fire and finally found themselves under fire from three directions. Fairly large casualties as WIA.
RajaK also failed to advance since they met at Välivaara strong concrete weapons nests. Also Russki sent flanking fire from Haapavaara on the right and due to the withdrawal of 1.K their left flank was exposed.
19.00hrs CP at Konnunmäki surprised by a Russki patrol. The patrol was fairly strong, a captured Russki told that it comprised one Coy. After a heavy and tenacious counterstrike that took one hour Russki was beaten back.
Our casualties: KIA Cavalry Lt. Maunual, WIA 5 other ranks.
One MG barrel overheated and was rendered useless.
Enemy casualties: KIA 3, WIA 1, taken POW. Judging by traces several more Russkies were WIA but they managed to evacuate them.
War booty: 1 LMG, Russki type; 15 mags, 2 spare barrels, 2 metal MG ammo belts, 1 MG cleaning rod, 1 sniper rifle, 1 autoloading rifle, 1 infantry rifle, 24 hand grenades, 4 gas masks.
During the skirmish CO Maj. Eckman took a nick under his left eye and on the right shoulder.
21.00hrs Border Guard Coy, 2.K and KKK were ordered to pull back, 2.K and RajaK were assigned to securing.
(List of casualties in the battle on the 10th and 11th July
KIA: 2+1+0
WIA: 57)

Mid July 1941

July 18
00.30hrs Patrol Yrjänä returned reporting that the W and S parts of Jaakkima village are free from enemies. They have seen several abandoned accommodation dugouts, splinter shelters and artillery positions. Some houses have not been burned down.
13.15hrs CO issued orders: Kev.Os.18 shall depart for the Turkinlampi terrain . The lorries are to drive via Kitee then take the future supply road route.
15.30hrs Lorries, AT vehicle, Signals vehicle and C.C.S set out.
16.30hrs Companies set out.
20.20hrs Kev.Os.18 arrived at Kantsilta where stayed overnight.
Div. HQ and I and II/JR16 liaised. Div. HQ ordered the outfit to stay there waiting further orders.
July 19
05.30hrs Divisional order: The outfit is to move to Härkinmäki terrain.
06.00hrs Outfit set out.
08.05hrs Strong enemy patrol engaged in Suontaus terrain. Acting according to their orders 1.K fanned out to sweep the terrain but due to the numerous enemy auto weapons the attempt stalled. It being a secondary task CO ordered them to disengage.
10.20hrs Outfit reached the Härkinmäki terrain where they bivouacked and had a meal. III/JR16 liaised.
July 20
12.30hrs Getting ready to depart.
13.30hrs Outfit moved to a spot 1 km S of Härkinmäki. Still in liaison with III/JR16.
A mortar barrage hit the column. Three WIA .
15.30hrs Border Guards Coy shall send a patrol comprising two squads + two Sappers tasked to reconnoitre the terrain and the road from Ala-Lameri (lake) across both rivers -Pt.91 -the road at Valkalammi. Is the road passable for bicycles and lorries ? The Sappers are to reconnoitre for eventual minefields. If enemy is encountered report it. Return the same route. Depart immediately.
19.45hrs CO order: Outfit is to advance from Ala-Lameri along the road reconnoitred by the patrol for the terrain at Valkealampi. Order: 2.K., KKK, Border Guards Coy.
Lorries and horse vehicles to follow as far as the road allows. The needed equipment is to be carried on .
Telephone line to be built during advance. Departure at 2015hrs
20.15hrs Departure.
July 21
02.00hrs Border Guard patrol returned. Telephoned report: The patrol reached the objective, no enemy encountered.
04.00hrs Oufit at Pt. 91, bicycles left there, advanced group to the Valkealampi terrain where in jump-off positions by 0600hrs
06.00hrs CO attack order:
Enemy likely to man the N side of the road. Kev.Os.18 is to attack from Valkealampi bog, on the left 2.K across the road then for the Valkealampi crossroads, cut off the road and secure the isthmus between the ponds to E.
1.K is to attack across the road to secure the terrain between the roads to W and destroy the bridge at Höksälä.
Border Guard Coy is to attack on the right wing for the brook line in NE and destroy the bridge at the brook.
One MG Platoon shall be subordinated to each Coy .
One 1.K platoon and the AT platoon shall constitute the reserve near the C.P.
C.S.S situated at Pt.91
C.P at the small lake. H-hour 0645hrs.
09.15hrs 2.K CO report:
Coy at target.
10.00hrs Border Guards Coy report: Coy at target.
10.50hrs Situation report sent to Div.HQ.
13.15hrs 1.K CO report:
Coy advanced to the target engaging minor enemy securing outfits which were wiped out and some buildings with Russkies in them were destroyed.
After the enemy had launched a counterstrike and started a forest fire the Coy pulled back together with 2.K N of the road at crossroads to a hill that commands the crossroads. Btn Vasama liaised with patrols N of the road,
July 22
The outfit held the previously mentioned positions.
05.15hrs Phone connection established to the C.P and the CO phoned the situation report to Div.HQ.
05.00hrs Border Guard Coy sent a patrol comprising three men to advance in the direction of the road to liaise with III/JR16.
11.00hrs Patrol reporting: They advanced in the direction of the road, cheeked open ground and houses, all empty, and was advancing up the slope of Ihalavaara hill when fired upon by enemy. The patrol retaliated and withdrew down the slope. E of Ihalavaara liaison with III/JR16.
-During the day enemy artillery and mortars were harassment shelling.
Enemy launched a tentative counterstrike against 1.K and 2.K but was repulsed.
All along the line the enemy ignited forest fires.
Some Enemy material has been destroyed.
(…)

August 7, 1941

The night 6th to 7th August 1941 the outfit was bivouacked in the Lammenma terrain.
06.08hrs Lt Helenius departed to Lin.P to try to liaise the Div. From there.
09.15hrs Phoned order issued by Division:
Kev.Os.18 shall without delay move to the Lantti terrain and gets ready to advance, via the gap created by Battle Group Kuistio, from Latvasyrjä W of Vieremälammet lakes in the directions of Kuokkaniemi village. The baggage train is to shifted to Rajamäki.
Kuistio to be liaised at once.
10.20hrs Outfit departed.'
12.15hrs Outfit at Lantti, meal and bivouacking.
15.00hrs Light column arrived.
19.00hrs Securing left behind by 2.K arrived.
22.25hrs Outfit ready to depart, order: Border Guard Coy, 2.K, 1.K, KKK (2 platoons + AT squad).
22.45hrs Liaising with Aarnio, who briefed the CO.
Outfit is subordinated to Battle Group Kuistio to be deployed only in case Kuistio is not able to advance.
August 8
05.30hrs C.P moved to Pt. 95
04.30hrs Helenius liaising with Border Guard Coy and 2.K. One Sapper Squad was subordinated to the BG Coy and a telephone squad to each (Coy).
06.00hrs Telephone connection established with both Coys.
09.30hrs One POW taken by BG Coy. F.O.O team departed.
13.30hrs BG Coy reporting: Coy advanced via Pt. 105 to Pt. 108. At Pt. 105 errant Russkies. Coy has been issued orders by Btn Hakulinen to attack to Kantosyrjä . Coy has taken 2 POW s
13.40hrs Coy liaised with Aarnio who recalled the attack order issued to BG Coy.
BG Coy shall stay at the S perimeter of Kantosyrjä, securing there.
13.45hrs This order forwarded to BG Coy and 2.K is ordered to stay behind BG Coy.
14.45hrs To every Coy: disengage, return to bivouac BG Coy still subordinated to Aarnio.
17.41hrs CO visiting Kuistio.
23.00hrs Artillery strike at the C.P which was moved to the outfit bivouac

For information:

SPK 16988 2.K/Kev.Os. 18 (school notebook)
8.7.1941:
Securing and reconnoitring.
9.7.1941
02.00hrs Attack to Haapavaara village. The attack included Border Guards Coy in the direction of Lamminmäki, 2./Kev.OS.18 in the direction of Haapavaara and elements of KKK. 15 WIA, of which (illegible)
05.00hrs Coy retreated in panic.
Orders issued to disperse the Coy. March to the rear
10.7.1941.
New men arrived. Coy re-established.
19.30hrs Attack at PR. 1112,5.

Winterwarlego
Member
Posts: 14
Joined: 31 Aug 2021 03:03
Location: USA

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Winterwarlego » 03 Apr 2023 04:23

I really appreciate you posting these. As a non Finnish reader they are amazing. Kiitos!

Lotvonen
Member
Posts: 821
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 08 Apr 2023 05:35

Pentti O. Kelavirta

The incident at the Olhava river bridge

Magazine “Kansa Taisteli” 10. 1963

How the Lapland War started September 29th 1944 .-Er.Os.Sau was an anti-partisan outfit .

We [=Er.Os. Savukoski alias Sau, tr.rem] had marched from Savukoski to Kemijärvi, there we had boarded a train and arrived at Liminka. We were waiting for return to civilian life, but instead our march was redirected to North. We were about to use our weapons against our previous brothers in arms. Our Platoon had last winter been subordinated to an Austrian mountain Jaeger Company, we had carried out patrol sorties with them and warmed ourselves up at the same campfires. Would we now turn our weapons against our personal friends?

In our minds we had several nice memories of shared entertainment evening shows, and now we could not guess in our mixed up feelings what the big brass and world politics had in store for us.

At Liminka our Platoons had been combined into Companies and we had marched to Olhava in closed formations. We were not in exactly high spirits because we were thinking that there had been enough war for us already. We were billeted in houses, some abandoned, some with young folks at home. We could see on the far side of the river half a dozen tanks with their cannon barrels pointing our way. We did not allow them hamper us from making crepes and boiling potato soup.

So far the Germans had been retreating without making trouble, but now we were facing each other across the Olhava river. We had been told that the German CO in Lapland, Gen. Dietl had been replaced with Gen. Rendulic and we began to suspect the worst. The mood on both sides of the river was unsure and tense. We were hankering for civilian life. They, too, maybe? Here was our home but the Germans had foreign soil under their boots.

Why are they not leaving already ? We were nervous and tired from marching. It was apparent by our willingness to grumble increasing. We were not after any individual but it was general unwillingness and the confused general situation had affected our mood like that.

Our Platoon Leader Lt. Pauli Niemi had been taken ill and our Coy was under the command of Lt. G. R. F. Mandelin. We felt ourselves orphans under our new CO because we had accepted “Paulus” as our CO who had led many a tough sorties, but we did not want even to get acquainted with this new man although later he well proved himself. Due to him I became a kind of soothsayer, later.

That day I left our Platoon which was on the standby for the local shop to buy something that I needed, and the Lieut came to chase me out, angrily. I was doing my shopping and ignored his orders. I got out, the Lieut was waiting for me and ordered: “On the double, run!” I retorted quite unpolitely that I shall make it with less haste. The Lieut threatened me with Court-martial , I told him that you never know, tomorrow anyone might cop it.

At our billets I was ordered to make surrogate coffee for the Lieut, which I felt was rather uncomfortable after our discussion earlier in the day. Having made the surrogate I informed the Lieut that he should come to get some brew as long as there is some. Everyone was amused by my witty remark. This little incident describes well our mood.

Having drunk the surrogate sentry duty was set up and I learned my stint would be from 1000 to 1100hrs. It was still a long time off and I thought it was a good idea to go to see Marjatta with whom we had been frying crepes. I told her I would soon be court-martialled but we forgot soon that little trouble together with everything else, we were but two young ones...

Time flies ! Upon returning to our billets the lads told me that our officers were negotiating with Germans about the fate of the Olhava bridge. We wanted to keep it intact but the Germans had been issued orders to blow it up next morning. We also had learned that Mandelin had been promised in advance the Mannerheim cross if the bridge would survive. He was going to cut the wires of the demolition charge under the cover of darkness. It did start to appear that there was a good lot of warrior in that man after all.

I took my nickel spraying device from the corner and started striding to the sentry post next to the railway line. Our and German sentry posts were situated on the same side of the river (our side), and my ex-brother in arms was striding back and forth some 10 m from me. Behind his back was the Olhavanjoki river and the bridge now being negotiated upon. The bridge deck was heavily laden with aerial bombs, and there was who knows how much more under it out of sight ! My ex-brother in arms was striding back and forth, smoking, apparently not considering his task as an important one. His SMG was dangling on his chest. I had left mine leaning against a rock.

I searched my pockets for tobacco but found I was out of the said stimulant. Therefore I decided to make acquaintance with the brother-in-arms and thereby borrow a smoke. I
carelessly slung on my SMG and started coughing so that the fellow would notice me coming. I started ambling slowly along the rail line and saw that the brother-in-arms was coming my way.

We met as friends between our sentry posts. I asked for cigs and was given a box of “Astra”. I offered to pay for it, but he refused the money, he just patted my shoulder, saying: "Prima kamrat". As we kept chatting we found out that we would be doing sentry duty at the same time next morning. We decided to meet then and he promised to bring me a bottle of brandy. We were not serious about it and our ways parted with a wish of
"Auf Wiedersehen !"

Having been relieved from my stint I was told that we are going to attack the bridge at 0930hrs next morning. I lit up and knew that I would not get that drink.

After a night with bad sleep we started preparing for the attack to the bridge. In the night Lt. Mandelin, we were told, had cut the wires to the bridge explosive charges. Next we shifted to the jump-off positions, nursing the crazy hope that the Germans would not have detected that the wires had been cut. In front of us there was the open railway line and the heavily bomb-mined bridge with tanks on the far side of the river, the cannon muzzles pointing at us. Civilian life was almost within reach and there was fear in our hearts. Then we heard an order: “Charge! ”

Tired and listless men in gray dashed towards the bridge in a slow trot. The Company CO urged us to step up, we keep approaching the bridge. I find myself in the avant-garde and slow down. Lt. Mandelin and his Runner dash past me followed by some other men. I am following the spearheading group at a distance of ten to fifteen meters. Everything is dead silent. There is only an occasional clank as SMG magazines are hitting each other marking our dragging stride. The boots of our CO and his Runner are hitting the deck of the bridge. They are sprinting.

The next moment the earth trembles, air vanishes around us, it is as if our lungs were bursting in our chest. In the air there are huge pieces of steel beams, bomb splinters, timber and dirt. Tanks are shelling the walls of houses. Windows have been broken and doors flung open by pressure in a radius of kilometres.

I am scrambling up from the dirt covering me and find myself about ten meters from the bridle that has fallen down. I am seeking cover. All kinds of stuff is falling from the sky. The very moment as I am about to reach the cover of an eave a minor lump hits me in the head and I am knocked out for a moment. When recovered I take a look in the direction of the bridge, seeing a huge crater with all kinds of debris in it.

The bodies of our Company CO and his runner are found hundreds of meters away. Mandelin never received his Mannerheim cross although he well deserved it. Their journey to eternity was accompanied by the tank cannons of our ex-brothers-in-arms as the shells kept ripping the walls of innocent civilian houses.

Germans started retreating but the brotherhood in arms ended at the Olhava bridge.

These men died at the bridge that day: (Sotasampo )

Mandelin, Georg Rainer Fredrik ;Luutnantti ;
B.14.06.1914 ;D.29.09.1944 Olhava, Ii ; age 30 ;
Erillinen osasto Savukoski ;KIA; Buried at Joroinen
Civilian occupation: Student

Mäkipaaso, Arvo Aleksanteri ;Sotamies ;
B. 24.12.1924 Ii ; D. 06.04.1944 Ii ;age 19 ;
9.Tyk.K/Pst.Koul.K ; Cause of death non-military;
Civilian occupation: labourer

Peltovuoma, Ludvig Adolf ;Sotamies ;
B .07.05.1924 Enontekiö ;D. 29.09.1944 Olhava, Ii ;age 20 ;
Erillinen osasto Savukoski ;KIA; Buried at Enontekiö, Hetta

Takkunen, Aarno ;Sotamies ;
B. 25.09.1917 Tervola ;29.09.1944 Olhavanjoki, Ii; age ;27 ;
Erillinen osasto Savukoski ;KIA; Buried at Tervola

SPK 6660 s. 10
Erillinen Osasto Savukoski war diary extract:

28.9.1944:
00.05hrs Jaeger Platoon was issued orders: depart at once tasked to take the Olhavanjoki river bridges intact.
00.05hrs Lt. Alakulppi set out following the Jaeger Platoon to secure their attack and support it. The Jaeger Platoon is to cross the Iijoki river at 00,30hrs, Lt. Ervasti at 0400hrs and the HQ Coy at 0600hrs followed by all outfits subordinated to Er.Os.Sau.
11.00hrs A runner sent by 2nd Lt. Timonen arrived with a report:
Jaeger Platoon at Olhava at 07.00hrs
Reconnoitring results:
Bridge not exploded, extra mining being added.
The bridge is well secured, the enemy has a constant occupation W of the bridge up to the sea shore and 6 km East (data provided by civilians).
N of the bridge seen by observation 4 AA guns, 4 AT guns, some 50 lorries and several motor cycles.
The Jaeger Platoon CO reported that he is waiting for an opportunity to prevent the exploding of the bridge.
11.00hrs Lt. Alakulppi reporting: Shall arrive at Olhava latest at 1400hrs.
11.10hrs This information forwarded to Maj. Hautala.
11.20hrs Orders to Alakulppi and Timonen:
Alakulppi is to hurry up his march to Olhava. If impeded by demolished bridges, the baggage train is to be left behind.
Jaeger Platoon is subordinated to Alakulppi.
The task: in co-operation in an opportune moment to prevent the exploding of the bridge.
To attack to attempt to take over the bridgehead position and man the S bank of the river well.'
11.30hrs Coy Ervasti departed to reinforce Lt. Alakulppi.
11.30hrs Lt. Neulamaa, B., Coy securing in the direction of Yli-Ii until Capt. M:s Coy has crossed the Ii river and passed the securing in the direction of the railway line.
Supplying the Btn is very cumbersome due to destroyed bridges and distances of depots but the men have been sufficiently fed.
11.45hrs Lt. Ervasti ordered to march to Olhava and there liaise with Lt. Alakulppi.
24.00hrs By this hour every subordinated outfit crossed the Ii river save MG Platoon 2nd Lt. Korpela.

29.9.1944:
04.00hrs Lt. Neulamaa's Coy departed for Olhava (in the margin: 3./Er.Os.Sau)
04.30hrs Coys of Lt. Liede (2./Er.P5) and Lt. Saarinen (3./Er.P.5) departed for Olhava under orders to liaise with Lt. Alakulppi when in objective.
06.00hrs L. Veltheim's Mortar Platoon departed for Olhava. At the same time Btn CO, Btn Adj., Messages Officer and Signals Officer departed for Olhava.
07.50hrs Lt. Alakulppi sent the Jaeger Platoon and two SMG platoons to outflank the bridge by North since a frontal attack was not feasible due to the enemy heavy armament and superior force of men.
Simultaneously as the outflanking troops would have made it near the bridge Lt. Ervasti's Coy was to dash over the bridge.
It is to be noted that during the night Lt. Mandelin had cut the wires to the explosive charges but the enemy had spotted that and reconnected the wires, also deploying more troops to secure the bridge. The situation developed quickly
Lt. Alakulppi had crossed the (Olhava) river about 1 km N of the bridge and having advanced to 200m from the bridge the enemy started withdrawing quickly all their vehicles. Lt. Alakulppi hurried forward, as soon as the (German) sentries spotted him they started running away from the bridge.
Simultaneously Lt. Ervasti spotted this and ordered Lt. Mandelin and one Platoon to dash across the bridge. Lt. Mandelin, with a knife in his hand, and his Runner led the charge to cut the wires at the last possible moment.
As they had made it to the far end of the bridge it was blown up in the air, taking the lives of three brave men who had knowingly tried to prevent the explosion.
At the S end of the bridge two men who had made it to the bridge were both slightly wounded.
Immediately after this the enemy opened up with all their weapons, intensely, and our troops retaliated. During the firefight the enemy disengaged finally after 20mins.
During the battle Lt. Alakulppi had the entire Coy cross the river.

After the enemy had withdrawn the securing was pushed 4 km forward and the S bank of the river was being decently field fortified.

Our casualties include three fallen and three wounded.
Enemy casualties include five fallen (two of which were blown up with the bridge).
09.30hrs The bridge was blown up.
11.30hrs Lt. Alakulppi reporting: The terrain checked at Nyby is free from enemies, all bridges have been blown up.
15.10hrs Report from Ii: Battle Group Hautala CO Maj. Hautala shall arrive at Olhava.
16.30hrs Maj. Hautala arrived.
17.20hrs Order to Lt. Alakulppi:
According to the information just forwarded to me a constant stream of Germans are on the march from Pudasjärvi via the Tamila crossroads.
Probably they are heading for Kuivaniemi but as the road (civilian information) at which you find yourselves extends via Kaihua up to Oijärvi you have to extend your securing (e.g. a NCO sentry posts) up to the Simula terrain.
Neulamaa is to send a patrol to Niemilä correspondingly.
Alertness is to be increased generally.
22.00hrs 2nd Lt, Penttilä's patrol set out to the Halttu terrain to find out what the enemy was up to.
22.15hrs Lt. Saarinen reporting: I have taken 2 POWs.
23.00hrs 2nd Lt. Penttilä reporting: Nothing special in Nyby.
(end of the day)
Silta_olhava (2).jpg
Wikipedia account of the skirmish:

Finnish troops on the Oulu to Kemi road were spearheaded by the 15th Brigade troops under Col. August Kuisto's command comprising Er.P 5 and Er.Os. Savukoski. The avant-garde comprised Detachment Hautala. The Finns were on the south side of the Olhavajoki bridge, while the Germans had fortified their positions on the north side. The Finnish plan was to out-flank and cross the river further away from the bridge, followed by a second smaller group would take the bridge by a quick assault.
The German force consisted of the SS-Aufklärungs-Bataillon 6, led by SS Obersturmführer Zimmermann. His well armed and mobile troops consisted of two motorized Jaeger battalions, which were supported by assault guns, anti-aircraft, and tanks. The Germans were aware of the possible intentions of a Finnish attack. The Finnish attack was planned to start in the morning of 29 September. The rallying of Finnish forces was detected by the Germans who began a rapid withdrawal of their posts.
Since it was obvious that the Germans would destroy the bridge, the Finns tried to cut off the ignition of explosives on the bridge. Immediately the Germans blew up the bridge and in the ensuing exchange of gunfire, both sides fired at each other. After the bridge exploded, a total of 5 Finns and 2 Germans were killed. The killed were victims of the first of the Lapland War. Exchange of fire ended in less than half an hour as the Germans retreated towards North.
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Lotvonen
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Posts: 821
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Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 16 Apr 2023 04:55

Toivo Vuorela

Magazine “Kansa Taisteli”, 10, 1963

They Are Coming Now!

One of the GHQ Long Range Patrols was based at Tiiksjärvi, situated between Repola and Rukajärvi. Operations were started there and they ended there. It was close to the end of the year, 19th October 1943. The weather had been cloudy, and there was enough light in daytime to justify the name. Yet the war was going on nevertheless. We were issued orders for another mission for the cause of common good.

Our patrol had been split in three parts. Honkanen, Räsänen and Möttönen were the CO s of each sub-patrol. We decided to proceed together up to Kontiojärvi. Before crossing the front lines we dropped it at Col. Lt. Majewski's C.P (I/JR 10). He gave us an update of the actual situation in the front line. Then we were ready to start our journey.

Backpacks were heavy on our shoulders but wishes of good luck were easing our minds as we crossed a minefield with our guide. Then we found ourselves on no-man's-land and making good progress for Kontiojärvi. Early in the night the sky started showing signs of winter: it started snowing. This worried every one of us: our tracks would be seen. One of us found a bright side:
-Enemy tracks are as visible as ours, he opined.

After three days of constant trekking we reached Kontiojärvi where we would split up. It was the 22nd October. The earth was covered with melting wet snow and it seemed that soon no tracks would be seen. The patrol split up as planned. Honkanen's and Räsänen's patrols headed for the Murmansk railroad. Möttönen and his eighteen men departed for the Tunkua – Lehto road. Their task was to capture a prisoner and take him to the patrol base. It was a brief and clear order, Border Guard Staff Sergeant Pauli Möttönen did not need many instructions, being an old and experienced patrol-man. He set out to carry out his mission which developed a quite threatening-looking twist.

In his own words:

-To get to the road we had to cross the wide and flooded Tunkuanjoki river. In the darkness of the night we made rafts of dead standing pine trees to cross the river. During our crossing Cpl. Tolvanen accidentally fell in the river. We managed to pull him out. But the weather was getting coder fast and we had to make a campfire to dry Tolvanen's clothes. Due to the proximity of enemy the place was quite risky but we had no choice. The weather kept getting colder.

-In the small hours on the 23.10. at 0300hrs we reached the road. We set up an ambush and kept waiting until the next night but in vain. There was no traffic on the road. Had the enemy found out about us ? There was no other explanation to this silence on an else lively road.

Next night we moved closer to Tunkua at the same road. We were stalking all day – without result. On the night 24th to 25th October we moved W of Tunkua, at the W road. Here we got lucky. Just after the break of dawn we spotted a man strolling along the road and behind him at a distance of about 50m a horse and cart with a man sitting on the load.

Now we had two prisoners and a horse. The horse and the grain load were destroyed but we departed with our prisoners for Kellovaara where there was a friendly forward base. The distance was about 40 km.

WE proceeded some 15 km from the spot we took our prisoners then we bivouacked. We had intended to get farther but the men were exhausted due to lack of sleep. The stop was dictated by necessity. The night was uneventful. In the morning we went on with the intent of reaching our lines during that day. However exhaustion overcame us again and we had to bivouac another time .

We found ourselves at the S tip of lake Hiisjärvi. We made campfires in foggy darkness and set up securing on three sides. We dried our clothing soaked by drizzling rain, had a mean and took some rest. At about 2100hrs one of our sentries Sgt. Sulo Ohonen came to me and said in an anxious tone: “Now they are coming..)

They indeed did in the same moment. We could hear the clicks of hand grenade fuzes from every direction. Hand grenades started popping in the rainy weather and auto weapons opened up immediately.

We dashed in the dark, every man to himself. We had to get out of the light of the campfires. What happened then did not merit many stories, but later at home we talked about it a lot. In the cover of darkness each of us crept away somewhere. We could have fired, but at whom – we had no idea. It was a completely lop-sided firefight, it was only the enemy who was firing.

I was creeping for a spot with the least incoming fire. I tried to get out of the encirclement. In the darkness I grabbed a man's leg. I asked him something, I did not understand what he said. Probably it was our prisoner's leg, actually they were no more POW s but in the same sinking ship.

Having crept some time on the slushy terrain I managed to get far enough from the sphere of light that I felt safe in the darkness of the forest. The scene of fighting was now behind a knoll and shooting had pretty much died down. Only single shots rang out occasionally.

I started calling in a low voice my comrades to join me. At first I was desperate. My calls did not have any effect. Did nobody hear me or did nobody dare to obey ? Anyway, no one was coming. But I kept calling and then listening, after a while I heard hesitant footsteps and a whisper:
-”Hello, is that Möttönen?”

Soon five men had assembled. Together we attempted to rally our outfit. In about half an hour we had assembled eleven men. We decided unanimously: the place must be swept. The wounded have to be rescued if only possible. We were sneaking outside the sphere of light. The enemy had completely stopped firing. The wilderness was quiet. Only occasional whispered moaning could be heard – there was a wounded man nearby.

We found Jaeger Pekuri in the darkness. He told that Kasurinen and Hyyryläinen had been wounded in the legs fairly badly. Then I sent Pekuri to Kellovaara to summon help from our men there. The rest of us tried to evacuate the wounded in a cover, then we built two stretchers.

This succeeded. We started our toilsome journey. Eleven men had now two laden stretchers to drag. It was slow going and there was a constant enemy threat.
We had proceeded just one kilometric as a lone ragged man was seen stalking our track. Soon we recognized him: Ville Jäntti, one of the missing men. He told us he had spent his night in a crack between rocks among enemies. He said the enemy had left without spotting him. By that time it had started dawning. He had spent the time struggling with fear of death. Soon thereafter another man joined us: “Roikka-Roope” Malin. He had lost his weapon in the melee last night.

We had taken the path to Kellovaara hoping for quick arrival of help. It was to be in vain. The relief force had hit a minefield, four men had been wounded, so they were fully occupied in evacuating their own. Finally we made it to Kellovaara. It was a great help that the wounded walked the rest of the journey with great suffering, being badly wounded in their legs.

Another surprise waited us as we arrived at Kellovaara. There we met our missing patrol-men whom we already had written off. Now there were only two missing men: the prisoners, but no one was sorry for them. In the evening of October 27th 1943 we arrived at our base in Tiiksjärvi. One mission had been completed but the war was not over, it was going on at full rate. New, ever heavier tasks were waiting for us. But this one was often reminisced.

(1390 words)

Failed to find verification to this one.

Now, gardening season has started. More translations next November.

Elisa K
Member
Posts: 6
Joined: 07 Jun 2011 11:21
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Elisa K » 01 May 2023 07:26

My grandfather apparently had a "war" story he told my dad and his other siblings... for starters, here's a little background information: my grandfather didn't do any conscript service due to an old eye injury (when he was 12, a friend of his had accidentally poked him in the eye with a carrot; for the rest of his life, that eye was cross-eyed).

So when the Winter War and Continuation War happened, he was never called into service due to not being in the reserves. And this is where his story comes in: toward the end of the Continuation War (likely 1944; he was 30), soldiers DID actually show up and tell him to come with them. He and a few other locals from Pielavesi were put on cars (or trains) headed for the eastern border, and actually crossed it near Rukajärvi. Then they received a notice the war had ended and the trucks immediately turned back. I'm not sure if this actually happened or if he fabricated it... if anyone knows similar stories, I'd love to know!

Note: they were given guns, so if it happened, there should probably be a mention of it somewhere in the war diaries.

Lotvonen
Member
Posts: 821
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 15 Nov 2023 07:55

Eino A.Turppo

Outflanking operation in 1941

Magazine “Kansa Taisteli”. 10/1963

In September 1941 the Finnish Carelian Army was advancing toward Petroskoi /Petrozavodsk. 4.D was fighting at the Säämäjärvi – Petroskoi road on the 15th September 1941. The troops were engaging tenaciously defending enemy in difficult terrain. Specially heavy fighting broke out at Villavaara starting the 17th September where the enemy was well entrenched. Major fighting ended on the 21st September with Finnish victory after the enemy had lost more than 1000 KIA and about 500 POW. Sporadic fighting went on until 26th September.

It was one of the late days [25th] of September 1941 as our outfit, sent to outflank enemy positions, was continuing the successful operation. Our line formed a half-arc and the centre had reached a road and our Sapper platoon in which I served took positions at the road. Simultaneously on the far side of the road enemy artillery, stationed on a low hill, opened fire apparently ignorant of the presence of our troops. The right wing of our line had not yet made it up to the road as enemies in front of them started sneaking to the direction of the enemy batteries. Our Platoon directed rifle fire at them but the range was long and the field of fire narrow, so the enemies unhurriedly bounced across the road, apparently without taking casualties.

Soon our entire outfit was in positions. It consisted of JR25 elements: two infantry companies, one Sapper platoon and at least one MG half platoon. Our CO was a Lieut whose name I forgot decided to take out the enemy artillery firing on the far side of the road with an artillery strike. Everyone who heard his request for fire was tense while waiting for the noise of our artillery fire because it was evident that even a minimal error by our artillery could mean our doom. Our fear proved to be justified as the shells, sent with a menacing rumble, were soon crashing among us. Pressure waves were buffeting us Sappers badly and some men suffered blocked ears as one shell burst right in the middle of the road, but the ditch protected us from the splinters. Our Lieut was shocked and with a pale face he corrected the artillery fire. Another volley rang out and a new set of shells was whining overhead, now hitting where they should. For a moment we kept watching how dirt was flying and flames flashing at the enemy battery.

Our work was not done yet, and our Lieut hurriedly started setting up his troops for attack. Only a thin screen was left at the road and our front was turned to West to take the enemy positions between the road and the railroad from the rear. Our grouping was the same as upon our arrival. On the left there was Lt. Laalo's Company, in the centre 2nd Lt. Laurila's Sapper platoon and on the right Lt. H's Company. As to the MG s I think they were distributed to both Infantry Coys, initially.

At about 10.15hrs was the H hour. Alternately dashing and firing the men rushed up the hill, yelling wildly, for the enemy positions on the top of the hill. We had advanced fast some 500m but nothing had happened. The top of the hill had been reached and the Sapper Platoon was ahead of the others. Their line was partly mixed up and 2nd Lt. Laurila found himself at least 15m in front of his men. He was lying prone in a small depression, then signalled with his arm an order for another dash and got up to proceed but then the enemy opened up. Our yells were silenced and for some turned into last breaths. Lt. Laurila's cap was thrown off and blood started flowing on his temple. Another bullet hit him while he was falling down, damp blood was soiling the back of his summer tunic. The exemplary officer was in his slow death throes which ended not until about 0300hrs next morning, all the time bloody foam from his pierced lungs rising on his lips.

I saw how the bush next to me was flattened as if forced by a storm but it took a while for me to realise it was the bullets of an enemy LMG... My wits were not working but instincts was guiding me. I found myself on open ground as a target for the enemy. It was a tough spot but without understanding why I started creeping ahead and to the left for a tree stump. The stump was rotten but long, providing some visual cover. I saw no one on my right but to the left, less than 10m off there were two of my pals, Koste and Pakkanen. They had taken cover in a foxhole dug by the enemy, and behind them a few meters away was a poor enemy dugout. They were too far for me because the air was full of metal. I stayed there since I was feeling safe for now.

Now messages were being passed up and down the line, from man to man. The din was terrible, one had to scream until one was hoarse to make the message pass.
-Left wing unable to advance! Pass the order!
-Heavy MG fire on the right wing! Unable to advance! Pass the order !
-Paramedics to the left wing !

Koste and Pakkanen had thrown their hand grenades on the roof of the dugout, but it withstood the blast although it did not look that well built, and they asked me to give them mine. Having recovered from my scare my ability to reason had returned enough to make me able to function. I had four hand grenades and I took one of them from my belt. Before my hand obeyed me to pass the grenade, a thought flashed in my mind: what is the enemy LMG going to do ? But the lads had to get the grenade they needed. I got up leaning on my left elbow, my right arm swung and the secured grenade was flying. The lads caught it in their hole and were happy. The same moment the tip of the tree stump was shaking and rotten wood was raining on my face. My movement had been spotted by the enemy and soon the stump was ten centimetres lower. Would the stump hold before I had used my grenades ? I threw another one, immediately more bullets were incoming but the tree stump did not get any shorter. A huge load was relieved from my shoulders as I realised this. The enemy was not able to shoot lower, and with relief, almost smiling, I threw my last grenade.

But it started the very moment !
Uraaaa...!
This howling as if by packs of wolves was mixed up with the devilish din. Brown masses were swelling up from their foxholes and like waves they started rolling at us, rising and falling.
-It's an attack, someone shouted in anguish.

Rifle grenades were flying in the air with terrible scream and explosive bullets were popping against tree trunks. Suddenly shrapnel shells started bursting at treetops and the balls were raining on us, pattering on the ground. Our artillery had not after all been able to suppress the enemy batteries and now they had aimed their barrels at us for our destruction.

Our shouts were ever more intense:
-MG s to the right wing !
-Paramedics!
-LMG to the right!

I kept shooting like a robot. Load, fire, load, fire ! The enemy kept rolling at us. Our men were for a moment on the threshold of panic. A little push and everything would be lost. Someone was wailing:
-For G-ds sake, someone shoot that Politruk in while coat, else they are going to trample us down!

Sapper Kajas was struggling in his mind. He knew he was a good shot, but he would have to rise up to be able to fire. Certainly the air was full of metal, but there might be a slot for him, too. He made up his mind. Calmly but rapidly he rose on his knees. Next he had the chest of the man in white coat in the sights of his rifle. A squeeze of the trigger and it was all over. The man in white keeled over like a hare in winter and the shooter dropped back to his cover.

The situation was changed as if by magic. The attack stalled and the brown shapes started to pull back to escape in the rising evening dusk. Finnish fire was now intense. MG s were beating the retreating mass and SMG s were buzzing, too.

An old reservist had certainly been prepared to meet his death but as the situation unexpectedly was cleared he, surprised at being saved, turned to get back to his pals because he was ahead of the line. The same moment someone in the Finnish line aimed his rifle, swearing :
-P*le, another devil is crawling there !
-Don't -
Bang !

Too late. The man dropped his rifle as the man next to him said ominously:
-You shot one of ours !
The shooter covered his face with his hands and started weeping with shoulders shaking. His nervous tension disappeared and he tried to excuse himself.
-He was wearing one of them “sympathy greatcoats * ” and like that. One is not able to make a distinction in this twilight..

Night fell on the battlefield but weapons kept chattering. The men dug in and it was not until next morning that the situation was fully cleared. Tired but happy Finnish troops were the victors of the battle. Intense and bitter fighting was over. A long row of silent man were lying under large fir trees. The price of our victory had been their lives.

(1675 words)
* Western aid during the Winter War, tr.rem.


War dead database extracts :

Laurila, Veikko Jaakko Henrik
Rank Vänrikki
B.23.07.1908 Lapua ;
Died of his wounds 26.09.1941 25.KS aged 33
Unit Jalkaväkirykmentti 25, II pataljoona ;
Buried at Tammela
Civilian occupation: MSc (agronomy)
2 children

JR 25 fallen on the 25th September 1941 (war dead database extract)
The victim of the friendly fire may be among them.

Laine, Tauno ;Alikersantti ;
B.17.02.1905 Iitti ; D. 25.09.1941 25.KS ;Age 36 ;
Jalkaväkirykmentti 25, 1. K ;
Died of his wounds, buried in Kouvola,
Labourer, one child.
Aarnio, Huugo Artturi ;Sotamies ;
28.10.1903 Sippola ;25.09.1941 Villavaara ;37 ;
Jalkaväkirykmentti 25, 10. K ;
Buried in Kouvola ;
Labourer
Lamponen, Taito Olavi ;Alikersantti ;
18.03.1918 Valkeala ;25.09.1941 Villavaara ;23 ;
Jalkaväkirykmentti 25, 10. K
Buried in Kouvola
Farmer
Niemi, Esko ;Korpraali ;
23.05.1917 Valkeala ;25.09.1941 Villavaara ;24 ;
Jalkaväkirykmentti 25, 10. K
buried ;Kouvola ;
Labourer
Nieminen, Veikko Iivari ;Korpraali
;25.03.1914 Sippola ;25.09.1941 Sapeljärvi ;27 ;
Jalkaväkirykmentti 25, 10. K
buried ;Kouvola ;
Welder, 1 child
Taavila, Eino ;Sotamies ;01.05.1918 Iitti ;25.09.1941 22.KS ;23 ;
Jalkaväkirykmentti 25, 2. konekiväärikomppania ;
Died of his wounds, buried in Iitti;
Farmer
Mujunen, Tahvo ;Sotamies ;29.10.1901 ;25.09.1941 Sapeljärvi ;39
;Jalkaväkirykmentti 25, 5. K ;
buried ;Kitee
Mankki, Martti ;Korpraali ;
14.06.1918 Sippola ;25.09.1941 25.KS ;23 ;
Jalkaväkirykmentti 25, 7. komppania
Died of his wounds, buried ;Kouvola, Sippolan kirkko
Farmer
Vierula, Vilho ;Sotamies ;
22.01.1908 Vehkalahti ;25.09.1941 Villavaara ;33 ;
Jalkaväkirykmentti 25, 9. komppania ;
buried ;Kouvola, Sippolan kirkko ;
Farmer
Ihola, Eino Harald ;Sotamies ;
17.12.1904 Särkisalo ;25.09.1941 Villavaara ;36 ;
Jalkaväkirykmentti 25, III pataljoona ;
buried ;Salo, Särkisalon hautausmaa ;
House painter

II/JR25 war diary (10990) extracts: (Written on a school notebook, grid paper, with dates followed by text)
23.9.1941:
In the morning Coy Kalila fought their way to West since the outfit made up of Regimental Jaeger and Sapper Platoons had been unable to accomplish that. The Coy returned to the Battalion bivouac area for rest.
In the “motti” remained considerable war booty and hundreds of fallen Russkies.
24.9.1941:
Battalion in R&R. In the evening preparations for the attack to be launched the next day were carried out.
25.9.1941:
At 0530hrs the operation started.
The attack was directed to advance S of Tsapeljärvi lake. Spearheading was Coy Elokas and one MG platoon. The objective was the road. On the right wing of Coy Elokas attacked Coy Kahila reinforced with one MG platoon. Coy Kahila was tasked to liaise with JR 5 situated E of Tsenkajärvi lake. The objective of the Coy was the road. Det. Hormi including the Rgt Sapper Platoon and part of the Jaala Coy was securing abut 100m N of Tsapeljärvi lake.
Coy Elokas reached the road at 1200hrs and was ordered to start squeezing the “motti” to W. Coy Rantanen, in reserve, was tasked to force the enemy to E. Coy Rautanen liaised at 1700hrs Coy Kahila with whom they co-operated in squeezing the enemy at the “Pear hill”.
In the evening Coy Kaisla arrived and was tasked to secure to N.
26.9.1941:
The battle that had started yesterday went on all night, intensely at times until the morning when the enemy surrendered. The battle was definitely over by 0730hrs.
50 POW s and 20 horses were taken. Fallen enemies numbered s0me 40 and horses 21. As to the war booty it included among other material 12 cannons, most with actions, 2 MG , 3 LMG, 30 rifles, 3 field gun sights, 450 artillery shells, 8 coils of telephone cable, 2 telephones, 8 vehicles, 2 lorries, spades, picks, ammunition, gas masks etc.
After the battle was over the Btn bivouacked at the Tsapeljärvi terrain for R&R.(end of day)

For comparison some available war diary extracts since there are no Platoon level diaries:

6.K (Coy) war diary extract: (school notebook but with a column for time)
22.9.1941:
At about 1600 hrs Coy set out to surround the enemy at the terrain between Markkila village and Tseusajoki river. At the onset of darkness we reached the “motti” and remained guarding it all night.
23.9.1941:
At dawn the Coy set out to fan out along the edges of the “motti” .
10.20hrs
Coy launched an attack.
It was a heavy battle which went on until evening.
About 100 enemies fell.
Our casualties were
4 KIA: 2nd Lt. Mättälä E, Sgt, Kauppila U, PFC Kosonen E, Pvt. Laakso K.
6 WIA: Cpls. Laakso P, Priha P, Suppi O, Pvts Aaltonen, Henttu, Häkkänen
24.9.1941:
Coy in R&R.
25.9.1941:
0400hrs Reveille
05.30hrs Set out to surround the enemy at the Sapelijärvi [Tsapeljärvi ?] terrain. At the motti a mine explosion killed three men, wounding two more badly and knocking out one more.
The wounded men were Pvts Anttila P, Katainen E, Kälviä A.
10.00hrs Coy formed a line and started advancing.
13.00hrs 1st Platoon reached the road.
15.15hrs The edges of the motti were manned and we started squeezing the motti
Darkness prevented clearing the motti. We were guarding the motti all night.
Pvt. Mujunen fell.
26.6.1941:
07.00hrs Coy started sweeping the motti
09.00hrs Motti was cleared without enemy resistance.
27.9.1941:
Coy in the terrain NE of Sapelijärvi, R&R.

8.K/JR25 war diary extract ( a regular war diary template):

23.9.1941:
08.00hrs Det. Savolahti arrived at the point where the road had been cut off. At dawn Russki has attacked with strong force to open the road, yet not succeeding.
09.30hrs III MG platoon subordinated to Det. Savolahti. Soon Russki attacks withered due to great loss of men.
Fighting went on all day, dying down in the evening.
24.9.1941:
At night the first frost .
The Coy in positions without any shelter whatsoever. The Sissi rations distributed earlier have been eaten and hunger is looming.
At night Russki has quietly disengaged.
08.00hrs Sweeping the motti has begun.
09.20hrs Motti cleared, the road is free for traffic.
11.30hrs March to the old bivouac where the tents were still standing.
12.00hrs At the bivouac.
13.00hrs Meal.
18.30hrs Order: Coy to be ready to march on the 25.9.1941 at 05.30hrs
25.9.1941
04.00hrs Reveille and meal.
Subordinated: I Platoon to reserve,
II Platoon to 7.K.
III Platoon and the AT Platoon separated.
05.45hrs Set out marching for Tsapeljärvi.
06.55hrs Arrived at the spot where outflanking to S started
15.00hrs Cut off the road E of Tsapeljärvi behind the Russki back.
16.55hrs III Platoon subordinated to 6.K.
17.30hrs Attack stalled and we remained in our positions for the night.
26.9.1941:
07.00hrs Attack launched to destroy the motti. No resistance met.
08.30hrs Motti cleared. Bivouacked at the shore of Tsapeljärvi where also the Admin Platoon arrived.
09.30hrs Meal.
During the afternoon we built a sauna which we used the same night.
16.45hrs Meal,
(End of the day)

Lotvonen
Member
Posts: 821
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 23 Nov 2023 06:14

Lauri Teikkonen

How many is “pyat” ?

Magazine “Kansa Taisteli”, 11, 1963

Incident at the Kiestinki front in 1941 as told by a Company Commander (4.K/JR14).

It was the small hours in November 1941. For a man hailing from the South of Finland the onset of winter in the White Sea Carelia forest has been surprisingly early and severe. The battle for Kiestinki that had started on the first of the month and now 4.K/JR14, under my command, found ourselves trudging through snowy forest in cold weather direction N as the spearhead of the II Battalion, Our objective was a few kilometres in front of us beyond hard to pass forest, the kiestinki – Louhi road.

Sounds of fighting, dulled by the snow covered forest, were emerging from East. Our men have reached the road that we, too, are heading for. For now our advancing was hampered only by difficult terrain because we did not see a single trace of the enemy.

In the middle of the forest we find a line of dug trenches. Maybe we are being waited for. Our ears are ready to catch any moment the sound of a shot in front of us. Our eyes are scanning the moonlit terrain for the smallest warning sign of an impending burst of fire but the surface of the snow, fallen last night, is untouched.

Our scouts have summoned courage to cross the open ground cleared by the enemy hand. Nothing happens. Maybe the fighting that is going on farther away has cleared the entire area of enemies threatened by surrounding.

Our queue keeps advancing but keeping the direction is hard in the difficult terrain. I check my compass and the map: mother nature seems to be providing us with a brilliant guide. I send an order to the scouts: bearing Moon! It is visible among the treetops every now and then, as if blinking his eye to us. Our rate of advance improves. We proceed one kilometre. Another order: bearing moon, one hand to the left. Our reference point unfortunately is proceeding on his orbit.

Soon we should be in our objective. From a distance of several kilometres from the right our troops' war cry reaches our ears, stopping us for a moment to listen. Then there is a sharp Russian cannon shot, most likely fired at the attackers at a point-blank range since the yell dies down, rising again only a little later then another bang... There are the men of our I Battalion under fire and such an attempt certainly cannot be carried out without casualties. We too, may find ourselves in a similar situation soon. There is a quiet hope in the bottom of my mind: maybe we would get away with it without a single drop of blood and no one would have to be loaded in a sled . Even in the past we miraculously made it without casualties, a few weeks age on the “bog sector” death oddly left alone our outfit . Our file keeps advancing quietly, each man thinking his own thoughts probably.

There is a small snow covered pond in front of us. In a depression the light beam of a flash-light spots a corresponding round symbol on the map. We are in the right place thanks to our guide, the moon.

An order to halt arrives from the rear. Our Btn CO Capt. Heino comes up to me:
-We shall stay here until we have liaised with the ones advancing on the right. We may be ahead of them. Would you reconnoitre defensive positions for your Company in the terrain West of the pond ? We may find ourselves in a tight spot when we shall be detected.

I am taking with me the I Platoon leader, Lt. Mikkola and my Runner Cpl. Salonen and one more man. There is open bog next to the pond, and the terrain seems to rise beyond it. I trust we shall find the enemy positions there. At the crack of dawn we start crossing the bog. We agree that the others shall follow me not until I have made it across the one hundred meters of open ground. For a while I keep observing the sleeping terrain. It seems to be safe. Not a single branch as lost its white burden to indicate the presence of the enemy. Neither are there hare tracks nor bird footprints.

Carrying a loaded rifle I start striding across the bog. The frozen moss holds my weight, the snow is just up to the middle of my calf and I am about to reach the target. The edge of the covering forest is just a few meters away. Then I stumble at a freshly trodden footpath ending at the edge of the bog in front of me. There are plenty of felt boot prints in front of me. The same moment I hear the sound of footsteps, several men are approaching me. The cover provided by the nearest bush is too far off and returning to the open ground is not feasible. So I bend down on my knee and lift up my rifle...

I briefly think about my me. During the campaign the Company has been near the Arctic Ocean and they have managed to amass SMG s far more than the listed number, even models of three different countries. Now it is too late to repent that I did not swap my rifle for a SMG when setting out. If I had one I would be using it now as a file of Russians appear beyond a bend of the footpath in front of me.

There is a flash in my brain: no shooting now, you have to try something else. My aggressive shout "ruki verh !" freezes the men who spot me in my white camo just now. All of them are carrying their rifles by the strap on shoulder. I can see clearly the scared boyish face of the closest one. Not one hand is making movement and their rifles are left alone, posing no danger just now. The end of the column is masked from my view by a small fir tree. An urgent question flashes in my mind: how many men did I order to “put them up” ?

With a louder voice I repeat my cry but the file of men in wadded jackets and fur coats is standing there frozen in place. A shot might ring out from behind the fir any moment. Is it my turn now ? Delayed contact with the enemy may have masked this secret. Yet I do not pull the trigger yet. I have been forced to shoot at an even shorter range, almost at the length of a bayonet but then there was no time to consider. Now there is facing me a man's scared countenance holding me back and another man's youthful face looking over his shoulder. Once more I yell “"ruki verh !" . I am sensing anguish, even fear in my voice but hoping that the enemies do not spot that. If I do not see rising hands I have to shoot. I might take out two or three at the head of the file. I am holding back my finger because I hear the sound of rifle bolt clicking behind my back, and as if triggered by the sound the men have put up their hands. I am no more alone but I cannot afford to look back because I have to keep my rifle ready. One of my men has been thankfully disobedient and started following me while I was still striding on the bog.

I am seeing how the Russians are following with their eyes the approaching man and their frightened countenance reveal that he is one of ours. Now Lt. Mikkola is rushing past me. I have observed him in action several times before, and without formalities he grabs the rifles of three men on his arm. The fourth one, an older man, hands over his autoloading rifle.
-This one in the rear had evil intentions, Mikkola tells me. He was slowly moving his gun into position but as I tried to fire my frozen rifle he, too, was scared and put up his hands.
My eyes were totally fixed on aiming at the first man and I did not notice what was going on in the rear end of the file.

Yet I thought that there initially were more than four men.
Skolko soldat? I am asking the first man in the file.
-In the gymnasium in Turku headmaster Vanaja was a competent teacher of the Russian language which I could have studied but anything else was more important to me back then. Yet my ear had caught that phrase during some lesson . I am understood. The boy pulls a sooty hand out of a thin cotton glove for the frost to bite, lifts it in front of my face and utters:
-Pyat !

The back of his hand is towards me and his crooked thumb is hidden in the palm. “Pyat” must be four then. His open look at me convinces me and so I think that the entire Soviet patrol is our prisoner. With this kind of company one cannot do reconnoitering, we decide to return at once with our prisoners.

We are following our incoming path with light mind and have made it almost to the far side of the bog as a shot rings out in the rear. A bullet whizzes past, missing. Then I understand: “Pyat”must be more than four, maybe five, and it is the fifth man who is aiming at us now. Maybe it is on purpose he is not aiming at us, his pals being in the same file with us. We reach the cover of the forest before the next shot. Our prisoners have also realised the risk and are hurrying up their stride.

We encounter the II Btn CO, Capt. E. Heino, for whom the situation has been like a game of hide and seek. He is delighted to get prisoners to interrogate. They prove to be talkative as Pvt. Raatikainen, a Russian speaker from Raivola who has stumbled into a Company hailing from Turku, has been summoned to be an interpreter.

Soon we learn among several other details that the fifth man who had gone into hiding from us was a NCO. Maybe it was our luck that “pyat” was initially four and the fifth enemy, apparently more alert than the others, was overseen by us. We also are told that the patrol path we encountered upon was skirting a minefield – which we were to reconnoitre Thinking what might have happened if I had arrived at the path a few seconds later I am deeply grateful to the Providence for the exact timetable He set up for me.

4./JR14 War diary extract:
(probably written by the Coy CO, tr.rem.)
November 1st to 12th:


Breakthrough and motti battles.
The tasks of our Company during the battle were the following:
1st and 2nd Nov. Rolling up and sweeping the trench left of the breakthrough point.
4th to 8th Nov. Rolling and sweeping the terrain between the road and the breakthrough point.
9th Nov. Sweeping the road and the terrain N of it between kilometres 14,8 to 17,5.
10th Nov. Pursuing and eliminating the enemy that had broken out.
11th Nov. Coy marched to the JP12 supply road
12th Nov. Participated in sweeping the supply road and repelling an attack.

During the battles the Company suffered the following casualties:
KIA:
1.11.1941:
Pvt. Närvänen, PFC Tammelin.
9.11.1941
Cpl. Kalliomäki, Pvt. Oksa, Pvt. Vainio, PFC Reijo and Pvt. Ojanen.
WIA:
11.1.1941 2nd Lt. Parkkinen, PFC Puhakka, Pvt. Salminen
09.11.1941 2nd Lt. Mikkola, S Sgt. Valo, Sgt.Saari and Pvt. Malmsten

12.11.1941:
Company set out and set up bivack at the JP 12 supply road, N of the railway point 14.5 km. Tents were set up and gear maintenance carried out.

War dead database extract:

Närvänen, Tauno Anselm ;Sotamies ;
15.04.1910 Muolaa ;01.11.1941 Louhi ; age 31 ;
Jalkaväkirykmentti 14, 4. K ;
KIA; (Buried in ceded Carelia)
Civilian occupation: carpenter ; 4 children

Tammelin, Aksel Albinus ;Korpraali ;
14.11.1913 ;03.11.1941 12.KS ;age 27 ;
Jalkaväkirykmentti 14, 5. K ;
WIA, died ;Buried in Turku, Maaria ;
Civilian occupation: printer

Kalliomäki, Martti Aleksi ;Alikersantti
04.06.1910 Kankaanpää ;09.11.1941 Louhi ;age 31 ;
Jalkaväkirykmentti 14, 4. K ;
KIA;Buried in Kankaanpää ;
Civilian occupation: Policeman

Oksa, Onni Olavi ;Sotamies ;
25.02.1912 Paimio ;09.11.1941 Louhi ;age 29 ;
Jalkaväkirykmentti 14, 4. K ;
KIA;Buried in Turku, Katariina ; 3 children

Vainio, Kaarlo Jalmari ;Sotamies ;
16.06.1911 Helsinki ;09.11.1941 Louhi ;age 30 ;
Jalkaväkirykmentti 14, 4. K ;
KIA, (Buried in unknown location)

Reijo, Eino Ilmari ;Korpraali ;
01.11.1910 Viipurin mlk ;09.11.1941 Louhi ;age 31 ;
Jalkaväkirykmentti 14, 4. K ;
KIA;(Buried in ceded Carelia)
Civilian occupation: worker ;3 children

Ojanen, Lauri Nikodemus ;Sotamies ;
01.06.1909 Turku ;09.11.1941 12.KS ; age 32 ;
Jalkaväkirykmentti 14, 4. K ;
Buried in Naantali ;
Civilian occupation: Carpenter ;1 child

Lotvonen
Member
Posts: 821
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 03 Dec 2023 06:56

Pentti Hiunu

Patrol skirmish in wilderness

Magazine “Kansa Taisteli”, 11, 1963

Patrol action on the Rukajärvi front in the winter 1941/1942

Allegedly I/JR 10 but no confirmation found in the unit war diary...The missing Company ID and exact date are revealing details. Fiction ?

(…)

It was the autumn of 1941. Trees shed their leaves and the ground started freezing Also the front line at Rukajärvi was solidified at the Pieninkä wilderness. I/JR10 was preparing for trench war. Dugouts were built and trenches dug. As soon as there was snow cover a new period of activity started. The Battalion was shifted to the flank of the front, tasked to patrol in the enemy rear. [ 29.10.1941] After one long patrol by a force of two Platoons these Platoons were ordered to set up a field strongpoint at the spot where they had started their mission. [10.11.1941 ]Cpl. Hurme (who had been a Private at the outset of the war) was promoted to Sergeant and assigned as the deputy Platoon leader.

The life in the field strongpoint was quiet, and there was time for hunting, too. Several times moose were shot and capercaillies, too. Despite the peaceful existence the men had to stay alert to spot any enemy patrols or other action.

The, one night there was commotion. Sentries launched an alert, reporting rustling and sounds of skis in no-man's-land. The Platoons manned their positions hurriedly. Yet noting more happened all night, and the strongpoint CO Lt. Koski saw no reason for further action. The men spent the rest of the night in their dugouts, only the sentries stayed in their posts.

At the crack of the dawn Lt. Koski ordered 2nd Lt. Vanhatalo to take his men and find out about the rustling last night. He set out with his men and returned one hour later.

Lt. Vanhatalo reported that an enemy outfit had passed our field strongpoint at the foot of the ridge and continued to the point where our trenches ended. There they had climbed up the ridge and continued across the open bog behind us to the pine forest beyond it. Thin smoke was rising up there, the Vanyas must have set up a bivouac there.

Sgt. Hurme was ordered to take a half-platoon and secure the findings. “Take whatever men you want with you” said Lt. Koski. Sgt. Hurme was sitting on his bunk bed in the dugout, listening to the orders. Then he took the map and after a glance at it posed some questions to get a clearer idea about the officer's report. His face was more flushed than usually. Having considered for a while he stood up and looked around. Some of the men were already checking their weapons. Being veterans they knew already who would be joining the sergeant in case something would be about to happen. Sgt. Hurme borrowed a couple of more SMG s from another dugout and had some more men with him.


Guns were quickly degreased and the moving parts checked for free play. Magazines were checked for functioning.
-Take enough grenades in your pockets, Sgt. Hurme advised .
-You heard the officer and know what is our mission.
-We did hear all right but are we going head-on ? Pvt. Savolainen asked.
-We shall in case the situation should be favourable. Food is not needed, just mags and grenades, the Sergeant answered.

Soon about twenty men were skiing into the terrain led by the Sergeant.

As the task fore had gone there were left only Pvts Pulkkinen, Tolppa and Säkkinen who hailed from Ilomantsi .
The men were happy. Pulkkinen sat down on his bunk and started telling his pals:
-Timidity and poor performance are sometimes useful to a man. I bet I would be included in that mission if I had not been lingering so often !
-That's right, Tolppa agreed.
-I am quite sure that some are going to be bleeding when they return and even the Sarge himself could be struck out of the roll, they are going to engage anyway. Such a babbling last night, there must be a huge number of them. We were not allowed to live in peace here although I hoped so. We can expect some extra tasks since we did not have to join the patrol.
-Per*, Säkkinen said.
-This life is getting just painful, my application for furlough was turned down.

The Sergeant and his detachment had reached the spot where Vanhatalo had turned back. He stopped to consult with his men, then chose the most tree covered part of the bog and ordered:
-We shall go that way for those smokes!
He ordered Cpl. Poutanen to place himself in the middle of the file, saying:
-The men behind you are yours !

SMG s were dangling over the men's chests as they kept scanning sharply the terrain in front of them. The patrol was advancing in a long sparse file on the open frozen bog. The only sound was the soft hiss of snow under the skis. Also by experience the men were carrying the spare magazines so that they could not clink against each other. The Sergeant was leading, and was now advancing into the pine forest where thin wisp of smoke was seen to rise up in the dusky sky.

Straining his eyes to the extreme and with tense muscles he was watching the terrain. On the rising gentle slope he though he had spotted a thin grey flash. Agile as a cat Sgt. Hurme ducked down for cover behind a bush, all the time keeping his gaze aimed at the spot he had seen the flash. The same moment there was a muzzle flame and a burst from a Russian SMG ripped the morning air. Having fired the shooter vanished in the glen behind the ridge.

-Forward, quick ! The Sergeant ordered his outfit, leading them with as fast a pace as possible. He had quickly estimated the situation: the enemy outfit was having a rest at a campfire, only their sentry had launched an alert. Now the issue was which side would be the first in the commanding spot of the terrain. It was Sgt. Hurme who was there first, sweating and out of breath. A couple of more men came to his side. SMG s in their hands started chattering, solo and unison.

The enemy retaliated as they best could. Their campfire was just fifty meters away, but dense wood hid it from view. Now the entire Finnish outfit was in position to fire at the enemy.

The Sergeant had guessed what the strength of the enemy was judging by the ski tracks they had left, and his estimate appeared to be valid. Runner Putkonen, who always was next to the Sergeant, was issued an order:
-Tell Cpl. Poutanen that I shall disengage with half of the men and outflank the enemy. Poutanen is to stay put and keep firing at the enemy.

Sgt. Hurme and his men pulled back a little, then took their skis and quickly advanced in the rear side of the enemy. In the final advance they almost crept while dragging their skis after them. The terrain was favourable, they made it unexpectedly close to the enemy before opening heavy fire. The enemy was panicking, some seeking cover while others kept creeping at the Finns. A rain of bullets was beating the pine trunks.

-Aim well! The Sergeant advised his men, also warning Pvt. Rissanen for carelessness. The same moment a jet of bullets hit a pine trunk next to them, and the men had to wipe debris from their faces. Heavy fighting went on , now hand grenades were popping on each side. Finally the enemy fire was slackening.
-Hey Sarge! Enemies are blowing themselves up! I saw clearly how rags were puffing up! Rissanen shouted.
-Now boys, yell and get them! Sgt. Hurme roared and was the first one to charge, his hot SMG kept buzzing.

The same moment the last enemies were eliminated and their outfit ceased to exist. The echo of the last shots died in the morning mist that was vanishing. A deep silence fell over the place. Only the campfire kept smouldering and smoking as if nothing had happened.

When the enemy weapons were collected and the dead enemies checked, Pvt. Turunen was wondering:
-Where could that trail lead to and where is the man who did it? Look, a pair of heels under that fir tree! Pull him out of his hiding place! I do not think he is really dead !
Pvt. Eskelinen tapped the heels of the enemy soldier, and behold, he did open his eyes.
-Rastui, rastui, tavaris, [bad Russian : Hello, hello, comrade] Pvt Eskelinen greeted the man with a chuckle.

Upon closer inspection of the man it was found that he was wounded in one leg. Lying on his back on skis he was hauled to the supply road, and then by horse to the HQ.

Sgt. Hurme's outfit skied back to their field strongpoint with doubled armament.
-you have done well, I see no one is missing,Lt. Koski observed.

In the evening Sgt. Hurme was ordered to the battlefield with the Battalion CO [Maj. Majewski] and report him on the course of events. Then he and his men were invited in a front show in the HQ, they were given nice thanks and a fortnight of extra furlough. While the Sergeant and his men left for their furlough, Pvts Pulkkinen, Tolppa and Säkkinen were assigned to bury the dead enemies [the ground was frozen almost one meter deep, tr.rem]

-My soul is hurting as some are going to furlough all dressed up while we have to dig graves for those corpses. What a long time ago it was as I last time saw the blue eyes of a Finnish maiden. And those men are granted furlough time and again. They should have buried the corpses they created. That Mum Ryynänen's son, did he even know how to shoot. I am sure, though, that when on furlough he knows how to shoot bullseyes, Tolppa bantered.
I agree that this Mum Ryynänen's son does know what is to be done when in war, Ryynänen defended himself.
I shall let you know, when back from furlough, the smell of girls back home. But do you even know which psalm to sing in the burial ? Also, the fact is that different kind of men make corpses and another kind of men bury them.


(SPK 10137, 10138 )

Lotvonen
Member
Posts: 821
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 10 Dec 2023 06:07

Arvo Häkkinen

Cellar turned into a grave

Magazine "Kansa Taisteli", 11. 1963

An infantryman describing the battle in which he was wounded in 1944. The location must be Vakkila instead of Juustila, Carelian Isthmus. This must have happened in July 1944


JR 30 was transferred in late June 1944 from the Svir to the Carelian isthmus. The transport took place in quite confused circumstances but the order was maintained and the Savonian humour was appearing at times. The Regiment consisted mostly of Savonian men. All that was some 20 years ago. That is enough to blur memories and on top of that my wounding, with sedations and operations and medications all have contributed in blanking out important details such as dates, names, places. All those would be needed in a reliable historical war memoir-

2.K/I/JR30, actually the remains of that Company, were in defence against huge enemy superiority at Juustila. We had been separated from the main force of our Regiment, they were fifing on the right flank. On our left flank there was another unfamiliar outfit. Enemy artillery was pounding our rear, making it quite impossible to pull back. Our front line was under fire by half a dozen enemy tanks. Juustila village had burned down, just some shacks remained. Telephone poles had either burned down or fallen on roads, creating unpleasant blocks. There were constantly enemy aircraft rumbling overhead and the ground shook every now and then as bombers were dropping their loads.

I was lying prone in a ditch. The patch of field between me and the enemy was covered with ripe but trampled oats. I was shooting over that field. Next to me there was a fallen enemy who had died that morning. He was lying face down between me and Pvt. Tiitinen. Tiitinen was armed with a LMG that he was using to get the enemies hiding on the far side of the field. Our Company had spread in the terrain quite sparsely. There were no actual positions with trenches and weapons nest at this sector, everyone had to do with foxholes one had dug himself, or natural covers.

Enemies were throwing hand grenades, but since they were flung from prone position they fell short in the middle of the field. If a foolhardy man got up to be able to throw better he would fell down dead, still clutching his grenade. During the day we managed to repel four or five breakthrough attempts. We were resupplied with ammo but I would have swapped some with food because hunger was making it hard to bear lack of sleep. Raw potatoes dug from field did not agree with my stomach which was protesting loudly.

There was a moment of lull. An enemy loudspeaker was blaring about German losses, berating Ryti and Mannerheim – their entire clique was getting an earful.
“F* off”, I was thinking. German loss does not mean loss for Savonian men. Then the programme was continued with a piece of music by Malmsten, or something like that. The sentimentality made my eyelids heavy after a long period of staying awake. I forced myself to stay awake because by experience I could tell that after a mental softening like that our Neighbour would soften us in a more concrete manner.


That is exactly what happened. Shells started bursting in front of us, in our rear, in our sides, some even near misses. Splinters were ripping up the air, they were dropping on the ground with a hiss and hitting trees. Our vicinity was shrouded in dust kicked up by explosives. Once again ground attack aircraft appeared, strafing us Savonians with their machine guns, probably making casualties.

.Let's creep there! It was Pvt. Tiitinen whispering next to me.
-Where ?
-Over there, see, there is a potato cellar.
I took a look at the direction Tiitinen was pointing at. Indeed, near us there was, a little to the right and behind us, a potato cellar with a roof nearly totally ripped up by shelling. I had mentally registered its existence but did not think about the cover it might provide, since our ditch was somehow usable as a trench.

-Let's creep there and as the shelling ends, we shall get back here.
I nodded to Tiitinen for agreement and started creeping for the cellar. Tiitinen was following me, encumbered by his LMG. The distance was short and soon covered. I was so tense that while creeping I totally forgot about the rain of shells beating the ground.

The hatch of the cellar appeared to be open. The same moment I observed something else, too. Thin smoke was emerging through the hatch. There must be others in there, too, I thought, but I think they would make space for us in such a predicament. I stopped and turned to see Pvt. Tiitinen. He, too, had stopped behind me.

I sniffed the air.
-Mahorka, [Russian tobacco] I whispered. My pal did not understand at once.
I tried to gesticulate and drew with a finger the outline of a star over the cockade of my cap. Then he understood: I suspected that there were enemies in the cellar. On the other hand it was not impossible that there were friends, smoking cigarettes rolled of captured mahorka . In war, even impossible may be possible. But I did not start pondering why there should be enemies in that cellar – I took two hand grenades from my belt and went on creeping.

Now I was at the cellar hatch. Pvt. Tiitinen crept to my side and took a position behind a big rock. Shells were bursting in tight bunches in the surrounding terrain and aircraft were buzzing on the flank...

Finally the cellar hatch was in front of me. I peeked down. Faint sound of talking could be heard – in foreign language ! My first idea was to slam down the cellar hatch and thus eliminate the men in cellar . But since the hatch had been flung away I would not be able to put it in its position before being spotted.

Yet I wanted to make sure that the ones in the cellar should not be friends. Carefully I peeked down the hatch. The light that was falling down revealed the faces of the men sitting there: dirty faces and boat caps adorned by red stars. The men were sitting on potato boxes, facing each other and smoking self rolled mahorka fags and bantering in a low voice.

I was now sure. I pointed my rifle down and yelled:
-Ruki ver !

The warriors jumped up. A SMG burst whined past my ear. I pulled back as fast as I could and pushed Pvt. Tiitinen farther back, he had crept closer to see. The barrel of a SMG emerged from the cellar, the muzzle looking for a target. I ducked down, snapped the hand grenade fuze and threw it in the cellar hatch. The ground shook a little and the rotten wooden roof was blown upwards and fell down the next second. The sounds from the cellar had died down. We knew that the soldiers in the cellar had found the end of their war and they were also buried at the same time.

I and Pvt. Tiitinen crept back into our positions at the oat-field. Shelling increased. Aircraft kept cruising overhead and the August (sic) sun shone on the battlefield. The enemy launched another frontal assault, the “uraa” yells, frightening, penetrated into my consciousness. It was implying something animal, savage disregard of death. Our rifles, SMGs, LMGs and MG s were firing at full rate. The wave of attackers collapsed on the trampled oat straws. Another wave assaulted, the piles of bodies kept growing. Wounded men tried to creep back but the disregarding attackers trampled on them. It was all yelling and firing...

Our paramedics and ammo carries were dragging their loads. New men appeared to take the place of the fallen ones. Tiitinen's weapon fell silent, the man was out of the game but there was a pile of LMG mags next to him. I crept to the fallen man and started operating the weapon he had left behind. The next moment I was hit in right shoulder, my right arm was useless. I rose on my knees and immediately felt another hit which ripped into my gut.

Slowly I lost my consciousness. The noise of fighting appeared to get more distant until it ceased altogether. As I woke up at the C.C.S. Shooting in the front line was still going on. Then I knew that the Savonian men had not yet retreated. I sighed and fell into a calm feeling induced by an injection. Everything felt insignificant to me...

No Pvt. Tiitinen of JR30 is listed in the war dead database.

War diary SPK 11199 extract:

27.6.1944:
02.30hrs Order to march and departure (from Hovinmaa terrain) in the old order. Our air force covered the march that was a little disturbed by the Russki with his a/c and artillery.
28.6.1944:
Marching for Ylivesi. There was a two hour break and then we completed the march. We bivouacked at large rocks in the Turkonsuo terrain, being in reserve. The weather got clearer after daybreak and the Russki bombed our bivouac area with about 60 bomber a/c. Of the Company Lt. Rosenlöf fell and some twenty men were wounded in the same air raid.
16.60hrs Nine Russki ground attack a/c raided our bivouac area.
19.00hrs Company in alert readiness.
The Company was tasked to secure the so called four roads' road crossing.
29.6.1944
Company securing the Portinhoikka terrain. The Russki was attacking our positions intensely, and they were repelled only by a tough counterstrike. An intense air raid scattered the Company. Coy CO Capt. Kyyhkynen was seriously wounded and died of his wounds immediately having been admitted in a field hospital.

30.6.1944:
Company was assembled in the terrain of Hiekkamäki where we rested for the day.
1.7.1944:
Marching orders to proceed to the terrain of Ylivedenkylä -Portinhoikka where the Company is to take positions.
Instead the Company was ordered to secure the terrain at the Särkijärvi lock gate [Saimaa Canal].
2.7.1944:
At this location Lt. Temisevä was posted as the Coy CO.
13.00hrs Marching orders and immediate departure for the Vakkila terrain. [Next to Ihantala, Tr.rem.]
23.00hrs We received the positions and took them over. Three Russki tanks managed to pass through our line but they were destroyed in the rear.
3.7.1944:
Russki bombarded our line and bivouac with a/c and artillery Our air force and artillery retaliated with fierce strikes. 2nd Lt. Mantua and S Sgt Pitkänen fell. Russki kept attacking against our line all day but was beaten back every time.
4.7.1944:
Sparse artillery fire, which at times turned extremely intense, all day long. Early in the morning our air force launched heavy strikes at the enemy rear.
22.45hrs Russki launched a strong attack but was repelled by artillery and inf.arms fire. The Russki made another two attempts which were beaten back. Our air force again bombarded Russki positions and rear.
5.7.1944:
Some harassment shelling that intensified a little in the afternoon. No casualties.
6.7.1944:
04.00hrs Our air force bombarded after a calm night the Russki supply traffic and artillery positions.
In the afternoon mutual artillery fire was intensified into a constant barrage for about three hours. The expected attack never happened. Our casualties: three wounded of which one died in the field hospital.
7.7.1944:
Mutual shelling started at midnight, died down by dawn.
21.00hrs Russki launched intense attack against the positions of our Company supported by heavy artillery and mortar fire but was beaten back every time. Casualties comprise three wounded.
8.7.1944:
00.00-03.15hrs Russki attacked again but was beaten back . Mutual shelling continuing.
22.05hrs JR 35 relieved our Company and the relief was carried out unnoticed by the Russki. We had a meal some 3 km N of the front line.
9.7.1944:
00.15hrs We set out at
04.20hrs Having marched for 16 km we arrived at the location for R&R where we joined our Regiment.
09.07.1944:
R&R for the Company. Lt. Martoma posted as Coy CO.
Replacements received: 56 NCO s and men.
10.7.1944:
Company had sauna bath. In the evening the Company was reorganized.
Lively aerial activities.
(End of the day)

Sotasampo information

7.7.-28.7.1944
The Regiment was pulled back to the 11.DE secondary defence line Jyrkilä-Valkjärvi-Kotijärvi-Pienlampi at the bend of the Hanhijoki river.

29.7.- 7.9.1944
Front line duty between Juustilankangas – Oravasaari, no battles.

I/JR30 war diary extract (SPK 11275):
28.6.1944:
00.30hrs March break . Btn CO summoned to Rgt CO.'
03.50hrs Briefing for unit COs . Btn is to continue marching for Ylivesi and bivouac there.
04.10hrs March restared. Btn Co was issued during the march order by the Rgt HQ on the site of the CCS and the Ammunition replenishment point.
05.00hrs The first unit of the Btn arrived at the objective. Bivouacking.
06.40hrs The last unit of the Btn arrived. During the march wounded by a splinter Pvt. Väinö Hakkarainen of the Jaeger Platoon, also horse casualties.
09.00hrs Bivouac area hit by intense aerial bombardment and artillery strafing, the area was partly abandoned. Strong enemy patrols encountered on a wide area in the rear. Casualties: KIA the following officers: Lt. Markkanen. Lt. Rosenlöff, Lt. Hellens, Lt. Haaja.
WIA Lt. Kaalikoski and Lt. Kalten.
A number of NCOs and men were also KIA and WIA.
Fire strikes hit also the Btn supply area. PFC Miettinen WIA.
Also horse casualties in the course of the day.
*
The 0900 air raid by 130 ground attack aircraft was even worse than shelling. JR 30 lost their supply train as the enemy a/c destroyed two one-hundred horse baggage trains South of Vakkila.
(Savonhistoria.fi)

*
29.6.1944:
07.30hrs Dispersed men were being rounded up. Btn CO was issued orders to send Lt. Kyyhkynen with the remainder of his Coy to report to Maj. Manninen in the direction of the cut forest line S.
08.30hrs Btn CO was issued orders to keep all remaining men to be at the disposal of Gen. Lagus .
11.30hrs Orders received to secure the hill.
12.30hrs Information: Rgt HQ relocates .
Defence line Ylähovi – Portinhoikka, ordered by Col. Aho. Col. Aho's C.P. In Tähtelä.
15.15hrs Mustonen forwarded order cancelling withdrawal orders.
15.30hrs Col. Aho inquired about the situation via a Lieutenant.
Salmen fell, Kyyhkynen WIA [Coy COs ]
17.05hrs Maj. Kaila forwarded orders: JR30 has been set to f.f. Work
21.16hrs The last unit of the Btn disengaged. JR30 Reassembly in Tähtelä.
23.40hrs Arrival at Pyöräkallio.
*
JR 30 intel officer Leo Tukiainen estimated later that during June 28th and 29th JR 30 had lost 49 officers and 1342 other ranks KIA and WIA, most of them at Murokallio due to shelling and air raids.
(savonhistoria.fi)

*
30.6.1944:
03.00hrs Departure from Pyöräkallio.
05.45hrs Arrival at Honkakangas and Hietakangas.
17.15hrs Lt. Temisevä and two men reported at Btn HQ. 2nd L Järvi hospitalized due to being WIA.
19.00hrs Lt. Niinikoski from Btn HQ forwarded orders to secure the hills on the bivouac area to E and S. Reason: JR 6 deserted the four roads crossroads. The securing unit is to stop deserters and escort them in the bivouac of Tyk.K/JR30.
21.30hrs. Orders issued by Col. Lt Polon:
I/JR30 is to get ready to march to Harjula (distance about 3 km as crow flies) and take defensive positions. Liaison with JR48 CO Col. Forsberg at Harjula.
Battalion strength: 8+28+116 (sic!)
22.30hrs Briefing by Btn CO as to the said orders. Btn was reorganized in three Coys.
22.35hrs Regimental order to proceed immediately.
24.00hrs Departure.
1.7.1944:
01.00hrs Maj. Toiviainen being briefed by Col.Lt. Forsberg.
2.10hrs Btn shall bivouac in the terrain of Valkiakallio.
10.40hrs Maj. T. Was issued orders to proceed to briefing by Col. Forsberg which he did.
11.15hrs Maj. T briefed unit COs . Btn is to move unit-wise in the terrain E of Parvelanjärvi. Btn HQ + 1.K at 1400hts, 2.K at 14.00hrs, 3.K at 15.00hrs.
The task is to repel enemy infantry in case enemy tanks should break through our positions.
14.00hrs Btn set out.
15.00hrs The head of the column arrived at the terrain of Parvelanjärvi where they bivouacked at 1600hrs. Bivouacking was reported to Col. Laakso and Lt. Laiste set out to liaise the CO of the Battalion Lampinen in front of us.
Col. Laaksonen (sic) issued orders to move to the terrain at Piispala. Later this order was annulled.
1 Platoon of 3.K was posted in the front line at the Marjamäki terrain in a defence task. Platoon CO 2nd Lt. Hakkarainen.
2.7.1944:
Some Russki tanks broke through our line, and some twenty infantrymen. Tanks were spotted N of Harjula farmhouse on open ground. I P shifted into the terrain N and NE of Rajakallio.
1.K, 2.K and 3.K had to move to the terrain at Rajakallionmäki hill to proceed to the front line.
3.7.1944:
02.35hrs Lt Suvioja informed by phone that 2nd Lt. Mantu had fallen due to a shell and WIA include 1 NCO+ 5 men.
18.50hrs Cpl. Ahvonen informed that Capt. Komulainen had fallen in the morning due to shell splinters during an artillery strafe as they were on their way to the front line positions.
Btn took over the sector of I/JR48, the right limit being pt.18 (map “Juustila 1:20000”) and left limit Kilpeenjoki river.
1./JR30 was subordinated to II/JR35.
3.K manned the sector from Pt. 18 to N via Pesälä farmhouses some 200m to NW.
2.K sector limit on the right the left limit of 3.K, the left limit Kilpeenjoki.
Btn C.P. About 300m straight E of map word “Vesala” V.
In the sector there is a JR35 close range AT Platoon stationed by the road some 40 m SE of the C.P.
Ambulance positioned at the Harjula terrain where the resupply point also is.
Enemy launched a lively fire preparation including bomber and ground attack a/c. Simultaneously it was spotted that enemy tanks were moving SE of Vesala.
Enemy infantry was spotted moving in the terrain E of Kilpeenjoki.
Enemy fired about 3000 shells at the Btn. Sector.
Fallen in the morning:
1.K CO Capt. A: Komulainen by a shell splinter at the Marjamäki terrain and
2nd Lt. Mantua by a shell splinter at the Rajakallionmäki terrain
20.00hrs Lt. Laakso took over the command of 1./JR30.
4.7.1944:
Heavy enemy artillery and infantry fire was directed at the Btn sector. Simultaneously enemy inf. was moving at the Kilpeenjoki terrain. Our artillery shelled the terrain E of Tähtelä and the houses some 300m SE of Vesala.
Simultaneously enemy tanks were heard moving in the terrain E of Kilpeenjoki.
Later during the day enemy artillery and mortar fire hit our positions.
5.7.1944:
00.00-04.00hrs Enemy artillery and mortar fire extremely lively. At the same time enemy tanks were spotted moving in front of our line.
2nd Lt. Parvento was wounded by a shell splinter.
Capt. Rautaharju took over the Battalion CO task since Maj. Toiviainen had fallen ill.
15.40hrs Lt. Laakso was wounded at the II/JR35 C.P. And 2nd Lt. Laakso took over the command of 1./JR30.
In the evening enemy artillery and mortar fire hit our positions.
6.7.1944:
03.00hrs Our bombers raided the enemy positions in front of us.
AM: enemy artillery and mortar fire hit our positions.
11.30hrs Enemy inf. was seen to move at the Hakala terrain . Our artillery strafed them with one Btn.
11.40hrs Enemy mortar fire at the C.P. Terrain
12.20hrs Col. Lt Polón and Col. Lt Pakarinen visited the C.P.
17.30hrs Enemy movement spotted at the Hakala terrain. Enemy was sneaking around in groups of 4 to 5 men carrying backpacks. Our artillery fired a barrage.
20.55hrs Enemy movement was spotted among the houses some 150 m SE of the Vesala houses. Our mortars and artillery fired a barrage.
22.30hrs Enemy movement at the river terrain simultaneously our line was heavily shelled. Our artillery, light and heavy mortars shelled that point of terrain.
7.7.1944:
02.30hrs AM mutual light harassment shelling. Enemy observation balloon spotted behind Kotkanniemi.
Of 3.K five men WIA.
15.10hrs Enemy heavy mortar scored a bullseye at the 2.K C.P. Lt. Meller was badly wounded (died when being taken to the C.C.S) Sgt. Reino Huuskonen WIA.
Lt. V. Kotiranta posted as the 3.K CO.
PM: enemy mortar shelling, lively at times, at our positions and rear.
22.30hrs Sappers mined the S side of the glen.
23.30hrs Enemy movement spotted at the terrain from Hakala to the river.
Simultaneously movement was spotted at the Pt.18 terrain.
8.7.1944:
02.30hrs Enemy tanks spotted in the direction of Sotkaniemi. Our artillery shelled the area.
02.55hrs About one Platoon of enemy was spotted about 300 m S of the second “a” of the map word “Tarkkila”. Our light mortars shelled the barn.
Simultaneously babbling was heard at the Hakala terrain. Our artillery shelled the “Illi3” target.
AM lively enemy mortar fire at our sector. Also the enemy aerial activities were very lively.
2nd Lt. Hakkarainen was hospitalized.
Enemy mortar shelling went on.
15.15hrs Enemy was spotted digging in at the Vakkila-Peltola houses, some 250m NE. Our light mortars fired a barrage at the spot.
17.00hrs III/JR35 CÖ Capt. Mäkelä arrived to familiarize with the sector for our relief. Continuous mortar shelling at our positions.
19.30hrs Relief started
24.00hrs The sector was handed over to III/JR35 and the Btn proceeded to the Moisio terrain where we had a meal.
Btn then marched via Särkijärvi to the terrain at Joutsenlampi-Ruokojärvi.
Btn arrived at the bivouac area.
AM Btn was being reorganized.

[The rest of the war diary quote is unrelated to the story, but it is here for the interested]

9.7.1944:
04.00hrs The fighting element of the Btn arrived at the Ruokojäri terrain to their bivouac area.
In the course of the day replacement men were distributed in the units . M Gunners were returned from their subordination to the rifle Coys and were reassembled. Simultaneously the men with MG training were screened out and posted in the MG Coy.

12.30hrs Rgt CO Col. Lt Pakarinen inspected the Btn bivouac area, remarking e.g. about deficient camouflaging at places. The deficiencies were remedied.
An on duty officer, NCO and in each Coy a NCO were set to maintain order.
Replacements and reorganization of the Btn went on.
20.30hrs Pastor P. Pyy conducted a field serve for the some 300 replacement men
12.00hrs (sic) Briefing by Btn CO on the instructions received concerning the sneaks [deserters]. (Lt. Niinikoski spoke)
The CO expressed the following concerns:
-Squad leaders were to establish a squad leader notebook with entries for each man of the squad, his weaponry, his gear and any other Government property he was entrusted with.
-Order to return gas masks to the Regiment that very day.
-Order to collect extra copies of standing instructions and other documents
-Order to return AT rifles [20mm Lahti]
-Order for training in the use of new AT weapons, the Panzerschreck and the Panzerfaust.
-Making of open fire on the bivouac area was forbidden. For campfires custom cooking sites 200m off from the border of the bivouac area are available.
-Moving around without permission was forbidden.
16.00hrs Arrived 2nd Lt. Erkki Nivamaa as replacement and was posted as a Platoon leader in 2.K.
19.30hrs Evening service in 1.K
20.30hrs Evening service in HQ
In the course of the day the Btn CO Capt. Rautaharju carried out a reconnaissance for the siting of the firing line with Lts. Martoma, Juslin and Anttinen. Right limit Ruutilampi, left limit the pt N 48-75 E 25-90 Map Hovinmaa 1:20000. The line was to plan in the terrains of Ruutilampi, Mustajärvi and Mustajärvensuo.
20.00-22.00hrs Btn CO in the Rgt HQ for briefing, after which briefing for unit COs and orders issued for 3.K and 4.K on work duty.
13.7.1944:
Arrived Pvt Taskinen, Kalle of 3.K and Pitkänen, Tauno of 4.K as sneaks. It was found that they had taken off to a second sneaking trip wherefore at the order of the CO they were charged with desertion, arrested and sent under guard to the 16. S Pol J to be court-martial.
07.30hrs 30 men form 3.K and 4.K set out to the field fortification site at the Kotijärvenliete terrain. The rest of the Battalion was in training.
Evenlng service for 2.K and 4.K.
15.7.1944:
07.00hrs 3.K set out for the f.f. Work. 1.K and 2.K carried out LMG firing for the replacement men, the other men were maintaining their weapons and gear. Training officer was Capt. Väistö.
Each Coy had carried out for each Platoon a lesson : General conduct of defensive battle, specially the instructions for double sentry duty.
-Training schedule daily: 0830 to 1030, meal, 1300 to 1600, meal.
CO set out to inspect the worksite and returned at 1600hrs . The site had also been inspected by Gen. Heiskanen at 1230 to 1430 hrs.
The Btn worksite comprises the line at Kotijärvenliete and Suosaarensuo. Right limit Suosaarensuo, left limit 200m W of map word “Niemelä” “l”
16.00hrs As replacement officer to the Btn arrived Capt Sarha, Olavi Hugo. He was posted as the CO for 4.K. Lt. Hormelman, Antero as the CO for the Jaeger Platoon, Lt. Koski, Pertti Olavi in 1.K, Lt. Lindholm, Kaj Ragnar in 3.K.
21.00hrs Briefing for the entire Btn by Rgt CO Col.Lt. Pakarinen. Col.Lt. Pakarinen emphasized the fulfilment of one's duty during war, and paid attention to the law passed by the Eduskunta [Parliament] on the 4th July 1944 on military desertion [Punishable by death]
Chaplain P.Pyy conducted an evening service.
List of promotions for the rank and file
(12 names)
The following NCO s were demoted to Privates due to sneaking:
(9 names)
The following men were allowed to retain their NCO rank for now:
(3 names)
16.7.1944 on
Field fortification work, training continuing.

Conclusion:
Afterwards the Rgt CO Col. Polón admitted that his Regiment, used to three years of low intensity trench war, was totally unused to the type of intense fighting they had to face at Ihantala. He openly admitted that during the battle there was panic among the men. Also drastic action was taken by the officers to stem the panic.
“It has to be admitted that single men started retreating at their own initiative which resulted in action by the Regiment. In the circumstances the attempts to pull back without order was in a way understandable but it could not be tolerated, they had to be suppressed”.
“Regimental action” was limited to arresting the deserters by M.P.'s and sending the men to be court-martialled. Despite the widespread cases of panic JR30 officers never excercised their right to use weapons against their men. In this respect the Regiment was no different from most other Finnish Army regiments.
(savonhistoria.fi)

Lotvonen
Member
Posts: 821
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 16 Dec 2023 05:52

Kalle Jokela

Sappers fighting tanks at the Svir hydro-power station

Magazine “Kansa Taisteli”, 11,1963

Russian attacks in spring 1942 were quite intense in several sectors of the front. At the end of April 1942 at the Svir hydro-power plant they attacked supported by plenty of artillery and tanks. The focal point of the attack appears to be just at the power plant. Our Company, 1./Pion.P11, was bivouacked some 1 km N of the Svir power plant and 100m E of the Svir river. We were tasked with building minefields and being the reserve of the local infantry.

Russian attack was launched on the 19th April at 0400hrs supported by an artillery strike and two tanks. Our infantry was able to thwart the enemy infantry attempts to break through but our AT men were helpless with their weak weapons against the heavy enemy tanks. They broke through our line and initially were causing disorder among our troops. At 0550 hrs our Company was alerted for AT duty.

Immediately our Coy CO Lt. Kaila issued orders to me to proceed with my Squad to eliminate the tanks that had broken through using satchel charges. I woke up my squad and the rapidity with which the men got dressed matched that in any training camp. Two minutes after the alert was raised we were fully equipped and on our way to the front lines. Fortunately we had prepared satchel charges the previous night since there had been signs of impending enemy attack.

Each of us was carrying three or four six-kilo satchel charges. My Squad comprised five men just then, consequently the quantity of explosives we had was fairly small, around 30 kilos.

We headed for the defence line NE of the power plant where the sounds of firing were loudest. Having arrived at the road marked on the map sketch we found that two tanks were driving back and forth on the road W of the bridge, and firing every now and then having spotted a target. At the same time I liaised with the JR2 Coy CO whose outfit was defending this spot, via his Runner. I reported that I had been tasked to destroy those tanks.

Several times we tried to find a spot enabling us to get close enough to the tanks but in vain. I also kept thinking if our 6 kg charges would have any effect on them, because the tanks seemed to be huge. I found also, as many times before, that the men of my Squad were willing to engage in the most difficult tasks and they had the real sapper attitude.

The tanks were fired at by an AT gun at the road but the its appeared to have no effect at all on the tank brutes. One of the tanks took out the AT gun quite soon. After a while the two tanks stopped at the spot marked (1) at the crossing of the main road which commanded the location and due to the open ground could not be approached. Since the enemy attack finally appeared to be stalling, I deduced that the tanks would soon be returning to the enemy side. They had two routes to retreat, the narrow roads of which the Western one had been used by them for approach. How could they be destroyed upon their return journey since we had only the satchel charges we had brought with us?

By chance I stumbled on field telephone cables cut up by shelling, and had an idea to use them as pulling strings, that is to make two controlled charges at two suitable spots. PFC. Rouska and two Sappers were ordered to guard the Eastern line road and the undersigned took the Western line road. The Infantry Coy CO was co-operative and liaised us with his Runner. This Runner brought us more satchel charges sent by his CO. Now there was more than 20 kg of explosives in each of our charges.

Having been waiting at spot no.2 the tanks started moving and to my joy they took the road that I had mined. Our charges had been placed under snow camouflaged with branches. A thrilling wait commenced, even Sapper Pusa may have blown his nose more often than he used to. It really seemed that we had a chance to succeed. The tanks were approaching still, I estimated their speed and then signalled to pull the charge on the road. I think Sapper Pusa was the man doing it. Then we just waited.

It appeared to be a long wait. I even blamed myself for badly misestimating the time needed but the same moment there was a considerable bang. The stern of the leading tank was swung to the side, its engine stopped and the tank was immobilized.
The very same moment the undersigned took a gash in his head, either due to a Russian shrapnel ball or a fragment thrown by the explosion. The hit felt like a hammer blow and though small it was bleeding profusely. My pals believed I had been badly wounded and were about to carry me to the rear but I told them I am well able to walk.

In the cover of the smoke cloud we quickly pulled back some 20m . It was well done since the surviving tank started getting angry and drove at our observation post, knowing where the danger was lurking. In our cover my pals bandaged me with our first aid kits and I was all right again.

Now I summoned PFC Rouska since he had the explosives needed to destroy the surviving tank. We set up another controlled charge in spot (3). After a while Cpl. Tanonen of 2nd Lt. Ruuusunen's squad reported to me. I ordered his squad to set up another controlled charge at spot (4).

The crew got out of the damaged tank , trying to repair the damage. Although they were well visible at a short range we could not fire at them because the surviving tan would have wiped us out at once.

The day passed in waiting and nothing happened. We received pea soup sent by our Coy Sgt. Sarkas at 1600hrs and it tasted good, since we had been wading all day in thick wet snow.

Suddenly at 1800hrs there was a loud tank noise emerging from the Russian lies and soon we saw that tanks were coming on the Western line road to assist their comrades. The tanks , numbering five, appeared to be aware of the hidden danger since they systematically fired at both sides of the line road with cannons and MG s . Firing was heavy and ear-deafening, the tank gun shells cut a lot of forest. Our salvation was being just 10m off the road hidden in thick snow while the firing was aimed farther off. The deck of the leading tank was covered with timber against satchel charges.

I had agreed with Cpl. Tarvonen that he would not knock out the first tank but the next one behind it. For some reason his men blew up the first tank. I took a quick look at them and saw Sapper Hokkanen, a tall man, withdraw after completing his task. The rest of the squad followed his example. Retreating while the enemy was still confused after the explosion was well done since had the enemy spotted them they would soon have been dead sappers.

Even more metal was now raining on us but we could but wait because the other tanks tried to pass the knocked out one. We were again lucky as another tank came up to us and we hit just at the right moment. Now our bigger 30 kg charge had a better effect since big chunks of armour were blown up.

The tanks stopped , maybe surprised, and again started firing at the surrounding terrain. We managed to withdraw successfully. Later we headed for the Infantry Coy C.P. Situated some 700m on our flank. There we met our Coy CO Lt. Kala who was there to lead the mining of estimated tank advance routes. Mining had been going on all day by the platoons of 2nd Lt O. Puupponen, 2nd Lt. h. Ruusunen and 2nd Lt. E. Säilä. Lt. Kala also forwarded us the the AG CO thanks. We also learned that Cpl. R. Laurila had been wounded by a dud shell.

At the C.P. Lt. Kala issued orders to S Sgt. S. Lonka and Cpl. T. Heino to destroy the incapacitated tanks as soon as the darkness would fall. We who had spent the day creping in wet snow were sent back to our bivouac and I was ordered to the C.C.S. To be bandaged properly.

The NCO s took some Sappers with them and they managed to creep to one KV-1 and place 40 kg explosives next to its turret, then they touched off the charge – it was an overkill. S Sgt. Lonka later told me that he had heard the crew of this tank talk among themselves.

Next night the intact enemy tanks returned to their own lines, rescuing some of their surviving tankers. Only one of them was taken prisoner as far as I know. The two least damaged abandoned tanks were later rescued by our men, to be taken to the Lagus' repair depot and after repair taken into Finnish use.

Next autumn there was an AT training course for Sapper officers and NCOs. The location was Aninniemi in Aunus/Olonez where Pion.P 11 was based just then. The course CO was Maj. Tuori, well known armour expert. The undersigned was also posted in that course.

The course ended with a tour of the Lagus' Armoured Brigade (sic) in Äänislinna, where we could familiarize with different types of tanks. An Armour Captain presented us a T34 and a KV-1 mentioning that they had been captured at the Svir hydro-power plant. The undersigned had a chance to recount how they were knocked out there.

Knocking out these tanks at the Svir power plant was the result of good Sapper co-operation.
kuva_syväri42.jpg

1./PionP 11 war diary (19417) extract (pencilled on school notebook)

17.4.1942:

16.45hrs Dinner. The day has passed calmly.
18.4.1942:
04.15hrs Russki artillery went in action. They were shelling lively the sector of I/JR2.
06.00hrs I/JR2 CO Maj. Väänänen reported that some enemy tanks had broken through the front line on his battalion's sector.
Coy CO Lt. Kala issued orders:
Alert in Coy, Cpl. Jokela of III Platoon with his squad and Cpl. Kaurila of II Platoon with his squad are to equip themselves with satchel charges and proceed to the front line, tasked to eliminate the tanks that broke through our lines.
06.00hrs Sgt. Ahtiainen with a part of II Platoon shall take satchel charges and proceed to the “Dugout Hill” (next to the Coy bivouac)
The rest of the company to be in standby.
06.05hrs Sgt. Ahtiainen and Cpl Jokela set out with their outfits. The rest of the Coy was getting ready, making satchel charges and hand grenades were distributed.
06.30hrs Enemy fire started slackening and our artillery, firing from the direction of the power plant, increased.
06.50hrs I Platoon led by 2nd Lt. Ruusunen set out for the trenches while the rest of the III Platoon remained at the bivouac in standby.
07.08hrs Telephone message: Broken in tanks have moved to the left, to another sector.
07.30hrs Message: two broken in tanks remained to wreak havoc on the neighbouring sector while the rest returned to the Russki lines.
08.10hrs I Platoon Runner PFC Tuominen arrived reporting that the Platoon cannot proceed since on an open spot an enemy tank is moving about, commanding the wide open place.
I Platoon was supplied with more satchel charges and issued orders to proceed anyway.
Coy CO has been invited to the I/JR2 C.P.
09.25hrs Firing has decreased some. It is reported that Russki tanks are moving back and forth on the line road from the Svir hydro-power plant to NE.'
10.30hrs Food was sent to 2nd Lt. Ruuusunen's Platoon, Sgt. Ahtiainen's and Cpl. Laurila's Squads who are still in the trenches. Also more satchel charges were supplied since two of the broken in tanks are still in our lines. One of them has taken a square hit at the turret and the other one has a damaged track.
2nd Lt. Ruusunen reported that they have tried to destroy these tanks and 16 satchel charges have been spent, but the satchel charges did not have any effect.
Six kilo satchel charges were sent with food transport on horse sleds to 2nd Lt. Ruusunen who has been ordered to destroy these tanks.
11.00hrs Meal. One horse sent at the Inf.request to evacuate wounded.
12.50hrs Coy CO arrived at the Btn CO C.P.
13.55hrs Coy CO and 2nd Lt. Puupponen set out to the front line.
14.40hrs 2nd Lt. Vaskela reported by phone that by the order of the Btn CO the Coy has to cut off the return route of the enemy tanks in our area. Maj. Väänänen had posted Lt. Kala as the Btn AT officer.
17.00hrs Food was taken to the front line.
18.00hrs S Sgt. Lonka and II Platoon set out for the front line.
19.10hrs 45kg explosives taken to the front line.
20.45hrs Coy CO telephoned: Viljanen and his Squad are to report immediately at the C.P. To the Coy CO , also of the III Platoon Cpl. Valkonen, Sappers Kiiliäinen, Utela and Koivistoinen. Also two horses are to be sent to evacuate the wounded: Cpl. Laurila and Sapper Laurila. The horses are to proceed as far as the line road.
21.15hrs The wounded arrived. Cpl. Laurila, R, lightly wounded by a shell splinter in his buttocks and Sapper Laurila, taken a blow at his leg by a shell splinter.
21.30hrs Cpl. Jokela, K. arrived lightly wounded in his head. Destroying a tank a small fragment had hit his head.
22.50hrs Coy CO telephoned: Cpl. Jokela, K. had incapacitated at least two tanks and another two had burned out.
21.15hrs 2nd Lt. Ruusunen returned from the front line.
22.30hrs 2nd Lt. Ruusunen was summoned to the Btn C.P.
23.20hrs 2nd Lt. Ruusunen returned from the C.P.
19.4.1942:
03.45hrs 2nd Lt. Ruusunen set out for the front line, simultaneously explosives were taken there. Cpl. Honkajärvi with his Squad were ordered to proceed to the front line as soon as possible.
04.40hrs Coy CO Lt. Kala returned from the front line. Cpl. O. Salo is wounded. A rifle bullet pierced his arm.
05.20hrs Morning tea was sent to the II Platoon in the front line, also more explosives were delivered.
The Coy rallied during AM at the bivouac except the II Platoon who returned not until 1200hrs.
It was calm at the front line.
11.00hrs Lunch.
14.15hrs Telephoned order to the Coy to relocate. The distance along a line road to NE about 20 km
18.00hrs Coy started the march.
18.30hrs Vehicles started using the iced over Svir.
23.50hrs Vehicles arrived at the line road.

(The Company was billeted in dugouts the next morning).
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Lotvonen
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Posts: 821
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Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 23 Dec 2023 06:56

Einari Ahola

Magazine “Kansa Taisteli”, 11, 1963

From Osta to Nuosjärvi

7.K/JR9. Memoir by a Private from June 1944 in East Carelia.

At the start of the Russian offensive in June 1944 our regiment JR 9 was pulled back from Osta to the N bank of river Svir. WE abandoned our trenches unnoticed by Russians on the evening of 17th June at 2200hrs and none too early since at 0400hrs the next morning the enemy launched an attack supported by shelling at our abandoned lines. At that moment our Coy was crossing the Svir at Voznesenja, some 10 km from our old positions.

Yet it did not take long until Vanyas started appearing on this side of the Svir, where they were stopped. Soon the Svir defence line was abandoned and our troops retreated. We were waiting for an enemy attack but before that happened, the rearguard led by Capt. A.K. Vuorensola relieved us. Let it be mentioned that Capt. Vuorensola was badly wounded at Soutjärvi where his outfit was surrounded and broke out of it.

We retreated along the Vosnesenja-Äänislinna road up to Derevjannoje where we stopped near Orseka railway station . As Russians attacked along the railway line from Latva towards Äänislinna, we were issued orders to secure the Orseka river line.

In the morning my Platoon sent a patrol to a nearby village to find out if Russians were already there. The patrol comprised four men, led by Sgt. Iivonen and the others included PFC Tarkka, Pvt. Toroskainen and me. We headed straight for the village without spotting anything. At the edge of the village it was agreed that I shall set out to reconnoitre and the others stay behind in the alder bushes observing me.

I selected my first objective: the house nearest to the edge of the village. It was a typical Eastern Carelian farmhouse, the accommodation rooms upstairs and the cow-house downstairs. I climbed up the stairs on the outside of the house, and with my SMG under my arm I entered.

There was an old man in the porch with an axe in his hand. He must have respected my SMG enough to let me alone. He was an angry man, he boasted that he had been living in his house for decades in this village where Finns had no business. I gave the old man credit for his courage and honesty, since when Finns left local villages, the locals often were wiping tears of sorrow from their eyes but as soon as Russian soldiers had arrived laughter and music could be heard.

Having explained the old man that all I wanted was to learn if there were any Russian soldiers in the village, he grumpily assured that there were none, but soon would be. I got out and beckoned my pals to join me.

We scattered and went down the village road, looking around. On the right there was a small lake where a young woman was washing potatoes. She, too, assured that she had not seen Soviet soldiers, and invited us to her home. We went there for a chat. She told us that she wanted to join us to get out of there since she had been dating a Finnish soldier she was afraid of the villagers' revenge... We could not take her with us, however.

We now headed for Orsa river. Toroskainen promised to guide us – his orientation was a total failure. We found ourselves on a wide soft bog which we should have passed by the left side. We waded in the soft moss with our boots under our arms, cursing our guide but we did not turn back, instead headed for the forest nearest in front of us.
.
The perimeter of the forest comprised of virgin wilderness. There were giant fir trees everywhere. Pools of black water were situated between needle covered huge roots over the ground. There were no tree stumps visible. Axe and saw had never been seen here.

The terrain started rising as we went on. We reached a low ridge with some pines growing on it. I climbed in one to observe. Lake Onega was shimmering at the Eastern horizon and far behind us there were some smoke columns. We went on forward and to the right. Having trekked for one hour PFC Tanka exclaimed []in his Osthrobothnian dialk3ect ][:
-We really are arriving somewhere! There is a phone line !
We got closer and arrived at a railway line. Ilvonen jumped on the railway embankment but turned around at once. He ordered:
-Boys ! Take cover, be ready to shoot! Men are heading our way along the railway line !

We set up an ambush, holding a finger to the trigger. Soon we heard talking, in plain Finnish. The arriving men were lightly wounded but for one who was lying on a draisine that the others were pushing. The men told us the enemy was about 5 km off.

We joined the men, having proceeded a few kilometre we arrived at a railway bridge across the Orsha river, but it had been blown up. We manhandled the wounded man and the draisine across the shallow river and soon we found ourselves in our bivouac reporting on our mission, tired and hungry.

We were allowed to get some sleep although the other lads of our Platoon had to stay awake in the foxholes they had dug because it was not known when the enemy spearhead would appear. Of course our rearguard would come but another nation's men would be there next.

During the AM sounds of infantry arms fire was approaching and soon the first stray bullets were flying overhead. It was not a case of a major attack at the railway line. Our infantry delayed the enemy while sappers were breaking down the rail line and bridges to render the railway unusable for military transportation at least for the next days.

About at noon our delaying troops pulled back and Russian advance stalled in front of our positions. There was a lull of a few hours as the Vanyas settled in the nearby forest having found that they were against a firmer defence.

We were waiting for an enemy attack but none was coming. Instead, we were issued orders to withdraw quickly, soundlessly and unnoticed by the enemy from our positions. We carried out the order in a masterly manner since not a single bullet was fired at us, maybe the Vanyas did not bother to pursue us.

We kept running for another kilometre up the railway line – and found a train waiting for us. A dilapidated old steam engine and some wagons. Quickly we climbed on board and were taken to Äänislinna station. The distance from Orsa river had been some 7 to 8 km. At the same time the last train for Finland was leaving the station. It included some passenger wagons and I saw some Lottas boarding. I wonder if they knew how close the Russians already were?

Äänislinna appeared now to be abandoned to the natives. Stariks and Babusks were carrying large bundles of stuff. They may have evacuating material that Finns had left behind.

The day was finally over and dusk descended. Our Coy had been assembled S of Äänislinna to wait for transport. Soon lorries arrived and they took us as far as Nuosjärvi – allegedly for R&R. But our rest was not to be long in duration, because the next morning [30.6.1944, Tr.rem] orders were issued: I and III Platoons are to be in battle readiness under Lt. Tiilikainen's command. We boarded two lorries and headed back to East. I do not know where we were going to. We may have found ourselves somewhere in the terrain between Pyhäjärvi and Prääsä as we disembarked and went on at double quick rate. The situation was said to be this: “An enemy outfit comprising about one Coy has penetrated in our rear and surrounded the supply of one of our Battalions. The enemy is to be eliminated, dead or alive.”.

About a 0800hrs we liaised with the surrounded supply outfit and took positions on a hillock at a road waiting for further orders. The supply men we had rescued stayed on the other side of the road. The situation looked like this:
The front line was about one km off in front of us. On the right wing there was a wide bog, continuing in our rear but a narrow strip of forest extended to the bog in our rear. An enemy Coy had withdrawn to this strip of forest.
On the left wing there was open dry ground about 100m behind us.

So there we were on the hillock waiting for orders to regroup. Lt. Tiilikainen was on the far side of the road questioning the supply men. They had hidden their surviving horses and carts in the alder bushes next to the road. I was chatting with my ex-squad leader 2nd Lt Kärkkäinen. He had recently completed his Reserve Officer course and received his promotion and insignia. He was in the course of mounting the rosettes on his lapels and he had ripped off his old insignia.

Just then a nasty noise was heard in the air. Suddenly we found ourselves under accurate enemy mortar shelling. Some panic broke out. Most of us dashed to the bog, including me, but some twenty of us were wounded. Our Platoon leader 2nd Lt. Susi lost one arm and also 2nd Lt, Kärkkäinen was wounded. I was lying prone on the bog with the others. There was a nasty itch in my back fearing a hit. I was pressing my hands over my ears because the whine of mortar bombs landing a few meters off was nasty.

AS the strafe ended, mud-covered men started emerging from the bog. Lt. Tiilikainen assembled the fit men. Almost one third of us were out of the game. The supply men evacuated the worst wounded men on horse carts. Some wounded were wailing in a loud voice because lying on shaking hard wheeled carts increased their pain.

We fanned out into a line and started advancing to the enemy Company. AS soon as the first shots were fired at us we ducked. There were only some fifty of us against a well armed enemy Company, moreover we were the attacking party. The enemy mortar barrage had wreaked havoc among us. Russians must have spotted us from their positions beyond the bog and directed the strike at us.

-in dashes, forward ! Lt. Tiilikainen shouted a command.
-Continue !
We were advancing in forest covered hillside, we knew there was bog behind the hill as well as on our left. On the right there was a patch of glade with only small leaf trees growing there.
Having advanced some two hundred meters we heard Lt. Tiilikainen order:
-Left wing, halt ! Right wing, advance on the level of the left wing ! Repeat !
Lt. Tiilikainen found himself in the middle of our line, I was on the left wing. Our right wing was straggling because they were advancing over the glade where the enemy firing was more accurate, slowing down the advance.

During our attack I had spent my LMG magazines. Toroskainen crept to me and started filling magazines. I took a look at my sides. On my left Pvt. Tummila was turning over a fallen Russian. On my right Cpl, Laukkanen was looking at his field cap pierced by a bullet next to the cockade. On the right wing the lads were dashing forward under heavy fire. I started giving them fire support with my LMG. PFC Tarkka started creeping to the rear, wounded.

As soon as the line had been restored, mags reloaded and our breath caught, Lt. Tiilikainen's command was heard:
-Platoon Tiilikainen, charge ! Repeat !

I dashed into a new position and started firing. Suddenly my LMG fell silent, the mag spring had failed. The same second a Vanya stood up behind a rock five meters off aiming his SMG at us. I lied low behind my LMG and was fumbling for another mag. Pvt. Toroskainen did not have time to reload his rifle. He struck the fuze of a hand grenade at the stock of his rifle and threw it accurately behind the rock but took a bullet through his wrist doing so- Pvt. Tenhunen was hit by the same burst. A bullet pierced his neck. The hand grenade popped behind the rock.

It had served its purpose. We found two fallen Russians. Both of them were wearing brand new Finnish Army issue boots. There was Finnish food in their backpacks, and one mortar bomb in each. So the Russians had mortars with them-

Since it looked like we would not be able to get any farther without reinforcements Lt. Tiilikainen ordered us to take defensive positions on the spot. He estimate that the Russians will not retreat to the open bog, that is to the left and also to the rear. Most likely they would try to break out of the motti via the glade on the right wing, where we did not have many men. So he ordered me to lend my LMG to the squad on the end of the right wing. Cursing I handed over my weapon and was given a rifle. I was feeling I had been demoted to a labourer.

The situation calmed down after we had taken our positions. A Runner had been sent to get reinforcements, it was rumoured. None appeared, however. We started shouting exhortations to surrender to the Russians. A horse was sent from the forest covered hillside to us. We thought it was a promising sign, and continued shouting. After a while three Vanyas approached our line, holding their hands up. The Russians may have thought that their situation was more dire than it actually was. Also they may have feared that we might get reinforcements which would seal their fate. Therefore they played their trump card as we soon found out

We had been lying in our positions for hours waiting for reinforcements. Suddenly the enemy opened fire from the forest and firing as fast as they could they assaulted our line. They were running , standing up, yelling uraa, shooting. We had a choice: run or get killed. None of us was so poetically brave as to let himself get killed voluntarily. As if by agreement we turned and ran.

Now I was grateful that I did not have the LMG and the mag bags. I saw them no more, they had become enemy war booty. We run some two hundred meters. Bullets were whining all over the place, ricocheting from tree trunks and rocks.

Lt. Tiilikainen ordered us to take positions but there were not many men to obey him. The fastest ones may have been already one kilometre away. It was not due to cowardice but ignorance of how far to retreat. The enemy made use of this occasion having expelled us from our positions. They slipped across the glade and into the cover of the forest, without pursuing us.

Lt. Tiilikainen swore:
-P*le, they did not send reinforcements in time. Now we had to leave like old women and the Vanyas escaped. What can you do with only a handful of men...
He rallied his outfit and sent a Runner to liaise with our troops fighting at the road to tell them that there is an enemy Company in our rear, trying to get back to their lines at some point.

As we were marching away there were 37 of us. Almost half of us who had marched here were out of game. We reached a main road. There were columns heading for Nuosjärvi. It was a retreat, but not without fighting. We, too, were to have several battles later:
Nuosjärvi, Vieljärvi, Palalahti, Kolatselkä, and other tough spots.

(2651 words)

On the 30th June to 1st July 1944 7./JR 9 had no one KIA.
aanislinna.jpg
7./JR9 SPK 9970 war diary :

The battle described above must be the one on the 30th June to 1st July 1944 , see below.

17.6.1944:
01.00hrs Lt. A. Soininen returned from the briefing [by Btn CO].
Next the Platoon leaders were immediately summoned to briefing by the Coy CO.
02.30hrs Platoon [horse] vehicles arrived so all extra gear was loaded and sent going for an unknown destination. The men were ordered to stay at the dugouts because we did not know when we would be leaving the place.
09.00hrs Coy CO and one man of each Platoon set out to familiarize with the T line.
13.00hrs Again briefing by Btn CO for the CO.
13.05hrs Pvt. Heikki Raatikainen of MG Platoon fell on his sentry post, rifle bullet hit his head.
17.00hrs Platoon leaders again briefed by CO, the details of disengaging were ordered for the Coy.
21.00hrs I Platoon manned the second line.
22.00hrs II Platoon and one MG Squad bid their goodbye to Stronghold Haaksi and left in open file for the second line, III Platoon, Admin Squad and Paramedic Squad followed them. IV Platoon was securing, holding the positions.
23.30hrs We arrived at the Paju C.P. Where we manned the second line.
24.00hrs IV Platoon disengaged quietly and followed the others.
18.6.1944:
03.30hrs We abandoned the second line and started marching to the Svir.
Russki was not aware of our departure because he was taking pot shots with AT gun at Haaksi and Hivakka.
Marching after a long break was fatiguing since we had to pass through forest the first leg of our journey.
10.00hrs Historically significant: [this was over-struck] Our outfit crossed the Svir, then continued up the riverside to a place called Vepsänlukko.
13.00hrs Joyous tidings as we learned that the soup horse had arrived, we were hungry indeed . Then we were billeted in houses and we had some rest.
19.00hrs Coy CO and Platoon leaders familiarized with the Coy sector and Platoons were assigned their own sectors.
IV Platoon took Vepsänlukko and one kilometre down from it On their right wing was placed II Platoon, then III Platoon and on the extreme right wing I Platoon.
23.00hrs Platoons took their places and bivouacked in tents.
19.6.1944:
04.30hrs Russki launched lively aerial activities and we had for twenty minutes a/c overhead which bombed and strafed. At the same time on the far side of the Svir all houses were set on fire and stone houses blown up by our troops, also the bridge was destroyed.
12.00hrs Our patrols were sent out to meet the Russki as he failed to appear. Soon one patrol made contact with the Vanya and soon they were heading for the Svir in succession.
17.00hrs The artillery observation post at Vepsänlukko it was seen that Russki was marching on the road for the Svir, in small detachments, it was estimated that in the course of the evening their number added to one Battalion.
20.00hrs Coy CO started a tour of the line and also checked the bivouac of the Admin Platoon. The second-in-command was Lt. Kivi, CO of MG Platoon. Also during the evening Russki was flying overhead and strafing here and there. Our artillery was harassing the Vanya side.
So this day, too, passed to night also on this side of the Svir.
19.6.1944
07.30hrs Having returned from his journey that started last night the CO was quite tired. Yet he, having had some ersatz coffee, headed for the Arty Obs. Post.
In the course of the day Russki kept up lively recon activities from the air, also trying to land at the bridge with five rowing boats but the attack was repelled and every boat with their crews vanished in depths.
21.00hrs Lt. A. Soininen inspected the entire Coy sector.
21.6.1944:
The day passed very calmly. Our patrol crossed the river and reconnoitred, basing on their observations our artillery shelled enemy formations!
22.6.1944:
03.00hrs Btn CO briefed Coy CO s.
13.30hrs CO briefed Platoon Leaders and the Coy Sarge, on disengaging.
17.20hrs Order to disengage was received, so we had to abandon the well entrenched Vepsänlukko position.
Lt. Kivi and his securing detachment stayed behind watching Russki so that they would not immediately rush at our heels. So we started our march for Äänislinna.
23.6.1944:
Marching went on all night.
05.30hrs Arrival at Kalliokylä where there was a marching break.
07.30hrs Lorries took us on board and we were transported to Tervasjoki where the Coy bivouacked in tents. But we had not been resting for long before orders were issued to proceed and our march went on to Hiilisuo where we stayed for the night. [Hiilisuo is the location of the well known Finnish-American kolkhoz, liquidated by NKVD in 1937. Tr. Rem.]
24.6.1944: The terrain being favourable our Coy was given a 3 km wide sector where we set up a defensive line.
25.6.1944:
12.00hrs CO in briefing by the Btn CO.
16.00hrs Btn CO visited and checked the Coy defensive line.
26.6.1944:
18.00hrs Lts Soininen and Laitinen inspected the positions.
20.00hrs CO in briefing by the Btn CO. Immediately after that briefing for Platoon leaders by CO.
27.6.1944:
13.30hrs Again CO in briefing by the Btn CO.
21.00hrs Coy was issued disengaging orders and so we abandoned the Hiilisuo terrain and marched for Äänislinna, the march was completed without incidents.
Our Coy was the last one, abandoning Äänislinna to Russians. There were only Sappers after us, tasked to blow up bridges but they were not allowed to do any other sabotage.
28.6.1944:
Äänislinna was abandoned.
Not far from Äänislinna we embarked on lorries and were driven 80 km to Minna village where we had a brief break.
We re-embarked again and were transported to Kinnasvaara . And the Company set up a defence line at Silojoki river.
29.6.1944:
The day was calm in the said location.

30.6.1944:
0430hrs We handed over our positions to Ään. R Pr, immediately boarding lorries and we were transported to Sakkila, where we immediately were involved in dealing with a motti.
1.7.1944:
05.30hrs The Motti was dealt with. Then we started marching which lasted all day.


2.7.1944:
The march continued until 0730hrs when we set up defences at the terrain of Vieljärvi.
3.7.1944:
21.30hrs We abandoned the positions and the Company was to march on the road. But the enemy had cut off the road. And therefore we had to march through wilderness along a marked path.
4.7.1944:
13.30hrs We arrived at Palolahti and bivouacked there.
5.7.1944:
02.00hrs Our CO briefed by the CO and immediately Lt. Soininen briefed the Platoon leaders.
05.20hrs Started marching.
6.7.1944:
04.30hrs Arrived at Käsnäselkä and here the enemy aerial activities were lively.
16.00hrs We were given a securing task during which Pvt. V. Salmela was wounded in his leg by a shell splinter and Pvts Valkonen and Balmstäen (?) went missing in an unknown manner.
7.7.1944:
08.30hrs Orders issued to start marching in the direction of Loimola. But we did not get far as the enemy had cut off the road. We had to turn around and take another road. The march continued until
21.00hrs as we had a break and a meal.
After this the march continued up to the Hiisjärvi terrain where we set up tents and turned in.
8.7.1944:
05.00hrs Our CO briefed by CO.
06.00hrs Coy set out to help Major Harjula , initially a securing task but
10.00hrs we attacked but were not able to advance. Pvt. Vatanen was wounded during the attack.
17.00hrs We received orders to disengage and then the march on a forest path started, heading for SW of Saarijärvi.
21.00hrs Pvt. M. Lamberg fell, hit by a shell splinter.
9.7.1944:
00.30hrs arrived at bivouac where we had a meal and a bit of sleep
00.70hrs Marching restarted
13.30hrs arrived at Parikanvaara and went on to Palokangas where we set up our defences
15.30hrs Enemy attacked with one Regiment, the attack was repelled and the enemy suffered large losses.
Of us, Pvt. H. Ranko fell and wounded S Sgt L.Lilja and Pvt. P. Myllynen.
19.00hrs Our Coy manned the entire Btn sector. Since 5.K and 6.K attacked
Coy was returned to our own sector and carried out f.f.work
16.30hrs Enemy patrol spotted in front of our line
Lt. Mäkinen of our Coy was taken from us and posted as the 5.K CO.
3 men came as replacements.
Calm day as to military action.
10.7.1944:
05.30hrs Enemy launched an attack with a force of one regiment, the attack was repelled and the enemy suffered great losses.
Of us, Pvt. H. Ranko fell, and wounded S Sgt L.Lilja and Pvt. P. Myllynen.
19.00hrs Coy manned the entire line of the Battalion. Because 5.K and 6.K were sent to attack.
11.7.1944:
The Company was returned to their sector and carried out f.f. Work.
16.30hrs Enemy patrol spotted in front of I Platoon.
Lt. H.Mäkinen was taken away from us and had to become the 5.K CO.
12.7.1944:
Three men as replacements.
As to action, a calm day.
(end of the day)

The attack on the 10th July 1944 was ordered by Gen. Talvela at the road between Käsnäselkä and Loimola did not bring results but the situation at this front section was stabilised (Pkpkilta.fi)
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Lotvonen
Member
Posts: 821
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 30 Dec 2023 06:10

Kalle Leinonen

Magazine “Kansa Taisteli”
Unpublished manuscript no. 0022

Kämärä 1940:

Battalion Hallbäck alias XI/Kt-Pr., subordinated to JR13 fought their first battles in the Winter war in Summa on the Munasuo sector. In January 1940 [2nd Jan.] they were relieved and transferred to R&R E of Leipäsuo in the terrain of Kuikkalammi. Having dug and built dugouts for themselves the Battalion started f.f. Work at the edge of Leipäsuo bog, also tasked to reconnoitre for eventual counter-strikes in the direction of Munasuo.

As the enemy was breaking through at Summa [on the 10th February 1940] the Battalion received orders to proceed to Muolaa village where the enemy pressure was heavy also. As we arrived, the enemy attacks had been repelled and they ceased altogether, we were not immediately needed-. The next day the Battalion was issued orders to return to Munasuo to stem an enemy breakthrough .

The baggage train was directed to the Kuikkalammi terrain via the previous rouse and the Companies were to be sent on lorries via Heinjoki. But, the lorries were delayed nearly 24 hours and the men had to suffer in very cold weather without food in the Kuusaa village houses and barns.

As the lorries arrived next night it was found that there were too few of them. The platforms were crowded, some men could sit but others had to stand. We had been supplied with bread, butter and cheese but no cooked food since our baggage train had left too early via a different route. It was full moon and enemy night aircraft strafed our column a few times, without making casualties. We arrived at the Kämärä village the same night and found that several men had frozen their feet. Enemy tanks had already advanced as far as Kämärä railway station, therefore the Battalion took defensive positions on both sides of the Heinjoki – Kämärä station road. The C.P. Was situated at the Viipuri road crossing in Kämärä.

I was serving as a Sergeant at the Battalion C.P. Due to the confused situation three Colonels had arrived at the C.P. I can only recall the name of the Brigade CO, Kääriäinen.
It was then found that the supply road had been cut by the enemy and the Battalion could not be resupplied. Neither had the Battalion access to tents or dugouts. It was midnight, moonlight and very cold temperature. The CO sent me to deliver tent stoves to the Company on the left wing of the Battalion. I took a Runner with me.

The Company positions were situated at the perimeter of a ridge growing thick fir forest. There was an open meadow in front of their line and some 300 m off on the far side of the meadow there was a row of tanks, with their lights on. There was a lull in fighting, one could hear musical instruments, accordions being played and drunken men brawling.

Having arrived at the weapons nest in the extreme left wing where there was a M.G. I learned that on their left there were no Finnish troops but they had not seen any enemies there, either. When I was surveying the moonlit landscape I spotted a familiar feature. In January when skiing around at the Battalion encampment I had seen a two-meter wide ditch dug at the Eastern perimeter of Leipäsuo bog. The bottom of the ditch was frozen hard. I had been hiding in the ditch when hunting capercaillies . This ditch was about 1 km long, starting from the point where the baggage train found themselves and extending to North. It occurred to me to go and check if I would find our baggage train at the far end of the ditch.

I informed the MG gunners about my intention and started skiing with the Runner down the ditch which was half-filled with snow. Scraping off some snow I found that the bottom was frozen hard. I got an idea: if the baggage train is still out there, I shall try to get them out via this route. Approaching the target smell of smoke revealed that someone is there, but I could not see anyone, just the familiar vehicles told me that our baggage train had survived.

Our baggage train was hidden a few hundred meters off the actual supply road in dense fir forest at the edge of Leipäsuo bog, unnoticed by the enemy. The sounds of battle nearby had kept the lads in suspension but they had stayed put, having liaised with the Battalion last time at Muolaa. I explained my plan to the men and let them know that the last half kilometre is the riskiest leg of the journey because there is open ground with enemy tanks visible on the far side.

The baggage train was quickly ready to leave since the stuff was already loaded. I placed the lightest vehicles [all were horse drawn sleds of various kinds, tr.rem] in the front . As far as I remember the driver of the first sled was Uuno Nurmi from Iitti. Field kitchens were the last units of the column, and they were full of cooked food. Fires were extinguished from the field kitchens so that smoke should not reveal the column, which comprised 125 men, 70 to 80 horses and five field kitchens.

I sent a three man patrol to warn about our arrival so that nobody would shoot at us. The journey was unexpectedly easy: the ditch bottom held the horses' hooves and there were neither rocks nor tree stumps. We were heading North, the Moon was in the East and the edge of the forest cast a shadow as we were driving toward the road to Kämärä. The headlights of enemy tanks were visible on our left, in the direction of the Kämärä station.

As the first vehicle, in which I was, arrived at the road turning East in the direction of Kämärä village there was a surprise. A Sergeant stood up, grabbing the harness of the horse and informing that the road had just been mined against tanks. I was dumbstruck,at the worst possible moment a several hundred meters column had been stopped on no-man's-land !

I explained our situation to the Sappers and demanded them to remove the mines fast to get the baggage train in cover. After some squabbling the Sappers started moving the mines aside. It was a quick task as the mines had just been planted in the snow on the road and the snow had not yet frozen solid. We had been lucky, the Sappers had just completed their job and were having a break under the roadside trees before leaving. The lads in their vehicles were quite nervous but calmed down again as soon as the column started moving again. Sweat was pouring down my back as I jumped on the runners of the last field kitchen.

There was a dugout next to the C.P. Where the Company Runners found themselves, they guided the field kitchens to the Companies and now the lads had a decent meal at last. I was in my opinion justified in feeling proud as I reported to the Battalion CO: “Captain, Sir, the Battalion field kitchens have started distributing food and dry rations”. The CO blurted out that I must be hallucinating, where had I been while I would have been needed at the C.P.

Having reported on my journey in detail there was joy at the C.P. The three Colonels were still there, one of them said: “Here three Colonels have been thinking all night how to get the battalion supply organized, but now one Sergeant has alone taken care of the matter. This is something not to be forgotten”.

I spent the rest of the war as the Battalion baggage train leader. I shall forever remember the names Munasuo, Muolaa, Leipäsuo, Kämärä, Pienpero, Näätälä and Tali. After the war had ended I was decorated and promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant.


SPK3278 JR13 “Report on action” extracts.
(a typed document of 71 pages)

Battalion Hallbäck alias III/JR13 war diary has not survived – if it existed at all.

summa 001.jpg
29.1.-10.2.1940.
F.F. Work as before. At times we were interrupted because a few days the temperature fell to minus 40 C.
On clear days the enemy aerial activities were very intense.
Even our bivouac areas and work sites were bombarded, without causing damage.
During the last days a constant thunder of artillery was heard and we learned that the Enemy is trying to break the Mannerheim line, in earnest. Therefore the Regiment was issued orders to be on standby.

11.2.1940.

Fighting on the Mannerheim Line went on ever more intensely. Rgt was issued orders to be on one-hour battle readiness. The men were to have their complete armament and battle package. These measures proved to be necessary because Russki had managed to execute a breakthrough at Lähde sector. Rgt was issued orders to carry out a counter-attack.
Breakthrough at the Mannerheim Line was the beginning of an important, heavy but also very honourable phase in the history of our Regiment. Lacking any pre-built positions our Regiment was forced to cede Finnish territory to Russki. The Arch-Enemy had to pay a hefty price for their victories and Finnish men dug into the soil of their Fatherland, retreating only when out of options. The Regiment whose men hailed from the SW Finland proved that they never wanted to flinch their responsibility but when necessary, stood their ground to the last man. In a word, the period 12th to 13th February 1940 is one that we all shall be proud of for ever.

I Battalion:
AM: F.F. Work as usual.
10.00hrs Coys assembled from work to the bivouac area and ordered to be in one-hour standby. Orders were to be forthcoming any moment.
15.20hrs Russki bomber dropped a bomb barely missing the house of 1.KKK office. The splinters killed immediately PFC Nenonen. The Rgt Chaplain Res. Lt. Y. Lähteenmäki was mortally wounded. WIA were also Res. Cpl. Laine, G. Res. PFC Saari, A and Pvt. Forsman, P.
21.00hrs Btn was ordered to be ready to march.
22.00hrs Departure to Kultakumpu terrain. One Mortar Platoon and one AT platoon were subordinated to the Btn.

II Battalion:
AM: F.F. Work as usual.
During the course of the day orders issued by the Rgt to be in one-hour standby.
19.00hrs Coys assembled as ordered at the Forest Guard House terrain to march on.
21.00hrs Btn started off as per Rgtl order direction N
I AT Platoon and 1 Mortar Platoon were subordinated to the Btn.
Btn marched on the Postilampi – Kämärä – Kaukjärvi road to the Lehtola crossroads, then 450 m N. Btn CO liaised with Rgt CO at Lähde. Btn was issued orders to return to Kultakumpu and bivouacked there.

III Battalion:
AM: F.F. Work as usual.
During the course of the day orders issued by the Rgt to be in standby.
19.00hrs Coys were issued orders to be ready to march at 2100hrs.
21.00hrs Coy marched off, then stayed overnight in the dugouts at Kultakumpu.
One Mortar Platoon subordinated to Btn.

12.02.1940.

I Battalion:
Btn arrived at the Kultakumpu terrain about 0030hrs. A couple of hours later the Btn was issued orders to proceed to the Support Line .
07.00hrs The Btn arrived at the Support line manning it from Valosuo terrain on the left to the Kämärä – Kaukjärvi road on the right.
After the main defence line had broken Russki had penetrated in front of the Support line. Here it was specially the Russki tanks that were a “nuisance” and the enemy tried to break our resistance with heavy artillery strikes.
Under these circumstances also the food supply met insurmountable problems and the Companies had to do with dry rations only.
Heavy enemy shelling made casualties, Res. Lt. Salo, S. and Raimoranta, S fell. Wounded included Res. Lt. Olli Tervo and Res. 2nd Lt. Lastunen [Other ranks not mentioned, tr.rem.]
II Battalion:
04.30hrs Btn bivouacked at Kultakumpu terrain in tents. At daybreak heavy Russki shelling hit the area. Btn casualties: 4 KIA, 1 WIA (Mortar).
13.00hrs Btn was issued orders to ski (without the baggage train and Paramedic squad, who had received their orders too late) to map square 449 – 6714.
AT and Mortar Platoons and 2.KKK stayed in the dugouts at Kultakumpu.
16.28hrs Btn received orders to advance and sweep the terrain along the Kämärä – Kaukjärvi road up to the Support line, then withdraw in reserve.
17.30hrs Btn was grouped for advance the Rgt Intel officer relayed a new order: one Coy only (6.K) was to advance along the road – the other (Coys) were to head for the Rgt C.P. For new orders.
The way to the C.P. Was heavily shelled. The rest of the Battalion was ordered to ski right N from Summajärvi lake and man the support line at the Majajoki – Suursuo bend.
Cavalry Capt. Penttilä's outfit was relieved. Bivouacking conditions very deficient due to overcrowding. The Btn also had to do without cooked food.

III Battalion:
The day was calm.
18.00hrs Battalion set out to march, arriving at the terrain N of Munasuo.
The attack plan: on the left 8.K, on the right 7.K, 9.K behind them.
The task: In co-operation with II Btn to take and reoccupy the front line at the “Valaanpyrstö” [Whale fluke] pt. 62,4. - Fort Poppius and our positions.
A recce patrol led by Res. 2nd Lt. Vallinkoski discovered however that the “fluke” was already occupied by the enemy.
No attack order was received, the Btn CO ordered tents to be set up for bivouacking.

13.2.1940:

I Battalion:
Btn was in battle positions all night. In the small hours some cooked food and dry rations were obtained but due to the extremely critical situation only a part of the men had a chance to get a meal.
At dawn the fallen were evacuated to the C.C.S. Shelling that had been going on all night increased at daybreak and a/c were cruising overhead totally unimpeded.
As soon as there was daylight also Russki tanks started advancing, even crossing our trenches. Under heavy fire the Btn was taking heavy casualties, and was forced to retreat. During retreat the units of the Btn were separated from each other, 2.K ended up at Kultakumpu while some of the Coy continued up to Honkaniemi. Some elements of the Btn, including 1.K and 1.KKK and 3.K (most of them) stayed in their positions while patrolling widely. During the day res. Lt. Tuomisto was KIA and Res. 2nd Lt. Enkola WIA.
II Battalion:
In the small hours the support line was relieved by the Btn, including the strongholds “Liisa” and “Leena” N of Summajärvi lake. The patrols liaised and also secured to the E which side was open to the enemy.
14.40hrs Capt. Karmo issued orders to Coy Ketonen which had pulled back from the E side of Majajoki to try to retake the positions Yet Coy K. kept retreating and II Btn manned the Majajoki line.
During the day 2.KKK reported.

III Battalion:
Btn moved in the small hours behind the Summa support line in jump-off positions. The Btn waited in vain for the attack order.
At daybreak Russki a/c started lively reconnoitring above the Btn grouping terrain.
0800hrs Russki launched a heavy shelling which forced the outfits to pull back 500m to the rear and left, to get even some cover.
The shelling caused a lot of confusion and it took a long time to get the Btn reassembled.
Capt. Laakso with a part of his Battalion advanced up to “Valaanpyrstö” fighting very bravely a superior enemy.
The rest of the Btn led by Res. Lt. Ahtimo moved to the support line Munasuo – Valo-oja spending some of the night in dugouts abandoned by artillerymen.
Res. 2nd Lt. Arvidsson KIA (Krh.E.).

14.2.1940:

I Battalion:
02.00hrs Orders received, issued by Rgt CO:
1- the troops are to abandon their positions at the perimeter of Munasuo bog and move to the W side of Majajoki river.
2- The troops at the E perimeter are to abandon their positions and move to Honkaniemi.
Res. Lt Hurmerinta together with Res. Lt Ahtimo's outfit are to cover the retreat.
11.00hrs It was reported that all troops had retreated from the front line, whereafter Detachment Hurmerinta withdrew from the front line and marched via Kultakumpu to Honkaniemi where they arrived at 22.00hrs.
In the evening the Btn (save 3.K) was assembled in Honkaniemi at the old bivouac area.
3.K remained manning the blocking line and in the evening of the 15th February marched straight to Autio in Huumola.
The men had a chance to eat decently and have a good night's sleep.
Capt. Läikkö was posted as the Btn CO.

II Battalion:
07.45hrs It was reported that Det. Könönen, on the left wing of the Btn had withdrawn on the W side of Majajoki river. Therefore Det. Trolli (4.K) was forced to pull back from stronghold “Liisa” .
08.10hrs Btn was issued the following orders:
“14th February 1940 0730hrs.
1. Vaala is to gradually take defensive positions on the Majajoki line, front E from Majakylä up to the old support line, that is up to the level of the roads.
2. Det. Karhu (to whom you still are subordinated ) keeps their old task.
3. Your task is the old one, that is, to hold the support line and liaise with Det. Vaala. It is intended to relieve you next night. Also one AT gun Platoon (Res. 2nd Lt. Aalto) has been subordinated to you in addition to the previous ones.
4. My C.P. Is moving first to “Laura” and a telephone connection is to be established to your C.P.
Co.Lt. Karhu.”
14.20hrs The following report was received:
“I/JR7 14th February1940 1340hrs
Capt. Karmo:
I shall carry out relief with my outfit this night. The outfit comprises three Companies, 70 men each [sic].
I am requesting your suggestion of the hour and manner of the relief.
I am requesting an overlay drawing of your manned positions, the position of the C.P.
Are there petrol bottles and satchel charges ?
I/JR7 CO stand-in
Cavalry Capt. K. Alfthan.”

The enemy kept approaching along Majajoki river and fighting was going on all day.
The relief was carried out from 2200 to 2400 hrs by Det. Alfthan, but continued until small hours for the Light Squad.
The Battalion had still to survive without cooked food.

III Battalion:
Some elements of the Btn ( 7.K, 9.K, Platoon Silvennoinen of 3.KKK) led by Capt. Laakso remained in the positions at the perimeter of Munasuo.
The rest of the Btn marched led by Res. Lt. Ahtimo via Kämärä to the Heponotko bivouac
The troops led by Capt. Laakso

Btn evacuated from the Btn lines 5 MG s, 1 LMG and 2 SMG s that had been left there, and reported to the Division that there are two 5” guns nearby. I Btn left the right flank open, on the left flank Maj. Linden's Btn was still there.
Btn sent out several patrols, specially Res. Sgt. Mäkimattila distinguished himself.
21.30hrs Maj. Linden's Btn started retreating secured by Capt. Laakso's Detachment
22.00hrs Capt. Laakso's Detachment withdrew to the direction of Kiltee, staying overnight in Kiltee village.

15.2.1940:
I Battalion:
Btn save 3.K was resting in Honkaniemi all day. Russki did not leave them alone because specially 1.K was subjected to intense aerial bombardment. Bombs would occasionally be dropped on others. Too.
20.00hrs Btn marched to Huumola where they took defensive positions and bivouacked in tents for the night.
II Battalion:
Btn marched to the terrain S of Eastern Rajamäki where they bivouacked in huts dug in ground.
05.00hrs Btn CO reported to Col. Lt Wahren.
Due to loss of some strongholds in Summa the Btn was issued orders to march via Huumola and man the tongue of forest W of Majajoki “M”.
15.00hrs Btn departed.

III Battalion:
During the day the Btn was assembled in totality to Huumola, bivouacked in tents dug in the ground. Det. Laakso arrived, having marched the route Kiltee – Kämärä – Huumola already during the day, Det. Ahtimo from Honkaniemi at dusk.

(end of day)
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OldBill
Member
Posts: 358
Joined: 04 Mar 2012 09:19

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by OldBill » 31 Dec 2023 00:41

The initiative and value of a good NCO, something not to be forgotten. Good story, I am enjoying the reading of these. Thanks for posting them.

Lotvonen
Member
Posts: 821
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 07 Jan 2024 07:07

Gunnar Moberg

Magazine “Kansa Taisteli”, 12, 1963

Raid on a bunker in the Carelian Isthmus front section in 1943

The outfit involved was 1.K, JR 6

Former part.


*
I shall recount the story of an enemy stronghold elimination and capturing a POW in the swamp of Aleksandrovka at Valkeasaari front section by a JR6 patrol on the night 24th and 25th August 1943. (3+56)

+
The day before I had returned from my normal furlough. Early in the morning, having drunk my ersatz coffee, to make a tour of my stronghold, checking the trenches and sentry posts. Autumn was on its way. I was familiar with the terrain, while serving in 2.K I had spent 4 months in this very stronghold and now, in 1.K, the third month was on. In my opinion I knew no-man's-land in front of our sector quite well.

Everything was in order, I headed for the C.P. To hear the news. I got out of the trench right behind our dugout because the inquisitive looks of the Neighbour were thwarted by the birch and willow bushes between our lines. This short-cut was commonly used. It was somehow liberating to see ahead, behind and to the sides, a joy that an infantryman not always had.

Having entered the C.P dugout and with my eyes accommodated to the dim light I saw Capt. Kilpi had just put down the telephone . His specs flashed ominously as he turned his gaze at me. I saluted and sat down. An odd silence was reigning in the dugout. PFC Pääkkö was fussing at the stove with his field kettle. As Capt. Kilpi just kept striking his hair I considered it appropriate to ask a question:

-What is the matter with you all?
No answer. Everyone appeared to be occupied with something important even though most of the Admin squad were present in the dugout. I caught Cpl. Koski's eye, but was none wiser although I saw he was signalling with his hand something resembling the movement of a snake, or waves.

I picked up courage to ask again:
-What is the problem – was it that phone call ? Who was it ?
Capt. Kilpi turned to me and said:
-The regiment.
- What do they want?
-Volunteers.

My light bulb was switched on and I realised what Cpl. Koski had meant, it was not his version of a Bali temple dance.
-A patrol, eh ? How many men ?
-One officer and 15 men, the Captain answered.
-Did you promise ?
-I told them I would let them know, he said absent-mindedly.

My thought process, too was set to motion. I was just back from furlough, Lt. Heikkinen had left for his and the next in turn was Lt. Starckjohann. The III Platoon leader 2ndLt. Leinonen was a replacement, and being unfamiliar with the terrain and his men he was unusable. So it had to be me.

- Where would the jig be carried out ? I asked just to say something.
-Strongholds 1 and 4.
This revealed me the size of the endeavour, so I was curious_
-Anybody else to join me ?
-Regimental Jaegers.
-Who is to be the CO?
My question was maybe too eager since Capt. Kilpi took a look at me saying:
-Lieutenant Honkaniemi.

Upon hearing his name I knew it was a clear-cut case as to me since I always had wanted to join him for an operation. Honkaniemi's reputation as a patrol leader in our Regiment and probably in Pajari's entire division (18.D) was outright legendary.

-Count me in !
My answer broke the silence in the dugout. Maybe I had been too cocky since I noticed that several gazes were pointed at me. I was even able to read their thought because once, by chance, I had heard PFC Pääkkö say: “ He is quite an odd fellow, that Lieut, with his four kids and a wife, yet he voluntarily is risking his life everywhere”. Capt. Kilpi may have shared this idea as he asked again :
-Are you serious ?
-Definitely, I answered, now with a fake calmness.

A quick call to the Rgt HQ sealed my promise and simultaneously I was told that I shall be contacted by Lt. Toivo Honkaniemi as soon as possible. Capt. Kilpi said he would set up a briefing for the Platoon leaders in the afternoon at the C.P.

In the afternoon Capt. Kilpi explained the task and next I was given the word. I told that I wanted the Platoon leaders to provide me the names of the volunteers for the mission as soon as possible. Also I requested all available information about the enemy, their positions, changes in the terrain, that is : everything that could affect our mission. I could trust the information because most of it was provided by men who had been in the said (enemy) strongholds, or the terrain in front of them, even beyond them

By the evening I was provided with the names of the volunteers. I was very delighted as Ssgt Seppä said, when handing over his list of names:
-Our entire Platoon would join you, but we must spare men for sentry duty.
I had a great liking for Ssgt Seppä, just as everybody did. He indeed was an exemplary person and soldier. He was a non-smoker and a teetotaller, he did not drink even ersatz coffee. He also avoided bad language. Yet he was always one of us, during bad and good days. More than once he had refused officer training, but he found the end of his journey on the 22nd June 1944 at Mustamäki in Tali. That day is one of the darkest in the annals of I/JR6.

After receiving every list of volunteers I had more than twice the number of men I needed. Almost every of them was a NCO. It was among them that I had to strike out because Capt. Kilpi would not allow me to take too many NCO s. I wanted to keep Sgt. Hämäläinen, Cpls M.Lehtonen, E. Veistola and O. Porema. I was well acquainted with them and trusted them as fighters more than myself. I knew these men were something much more that what their official achievements showed.

A period of work and activity commenced. The very next day I met Lt. Honkaniemi. Before daybreak he had selected a first class observation post up in a big birch tree next to the paved road pasts the Aleksandrovka barracks. Many other trees at the same road were occupied by observers, who in dreary dribbling rain made notes about our future theatre of action. They hauled up to their posts field kettles with the hot meal of the day ,and ate there. Unnecessary moving around was strictly forbidden because our adversary, too, had an advanced network of observation. Increase in our activity might have revealed them that we were up to something. So I sat down at the tree and wrote up the important details concerning me and my Platoon as soon as the “Zaccheus”, sitting up in the tree, had discovered them and told me while observing.

The analysis of the observation results justified the deduction that the Russian stronghold no.3 in front of us was not constantly manned. At daytime we were taking very accurate rifle fire and at night-time often long LMG bursts, mostly aimed at our stronghold “Kuusi”. However no movement at daytime could be detected despite intense observation

The enemy forward stronghold no.2, opposite to my stronghold, comprised a two storey concrete bunker, combined weapons and accommodation bunker. On the roof there was an ideal spare position for a MG. The stronghold was most likely manned by two platoons reinforced with MG s and mortars.

Well in advance of the H hour we learned that a F.O.O with telephone connection would follow us at least some of the journey. Also we would get subordinated Sappers of Pion.P 23 from Haapala and also from Lin.P 2 two stretcher teams with spare bearers, led by a NCO.

The essence of our mission was to destroy stronghold no.3 and take a POW.
Now we had to determine our point of departure. As the map sketch [see below] indicates, the shortest route would have been from our stronghold “Kuusi”, but our clever CO, Lt. Honkaniemi said:
-No way boys, hell, the shortest route is not always the best one when in war.
I am sure all 6.K men do remember how proficient Lt. Honkaniemi was then in using profanities.

His decision was a sound one and our jump-off point was to be at the right limit of our sector. The journey would be longer but at the same time our chances of surprise and our security were considerable increased. At this stage we were not able to imagine what kind of trouble and pain would be caused by the mines set by the enemy.

By now it was late August until the awaited order to proceed was issued:
“On the 24th August 1943 at 1930hrs Detachment Honkaniemi is to rally at the Barracks Laundry building.”

Now it was the time to get busy. Once more I toured the Platoons to meet the volunteers and repeating the points to be taken into account during the mission. I agreed with Sgt. Hämäläinen that he, too, would take care of orienteering although Lt. Honkaniemi had set up the responsible orienteering team of his Jaegers. Being careful is said to be virtuous and I knew Hämäläinen was a very good orienteer.

It was the morning of the 24th as at 1000hrs I decided to have some sleep. I agreed with my Runner, PFC Jussi Peltonen, that I should not be woken up in any case before 1600hrs. But things do not happen as planned, specially in war.

Jussi had left the dugout for some matter and the other men in the dugout did not know about my order. Then in came Pvt. Uuno Välinen, one of the men with our patrol. He used to be not so military in posture but he was a good and calm soldier. What was special about him was that he used to have presage dreams, and now he started, as PFC Keinola later told me, shake my arm and telling me that he had seen a dream of “both of us shall be wounded once more but that shall not happen during this task”. Failing to get a response from me he went his way, muttering to himself: “ I, too, better lie down. Gotta be alert next night.”

At 1600hrs Jussi woke me up as agreed. We went through our checklist once more to make sure we had not forgotten any material we needed with us. Drinking my farewell brew I added a few lines to the letter that I always had prepared in case I should cop it.
The men of my Company rallied at our C.P. well ahead of the schedule. Finally we checked each other for the fastening of our gear, but then we were eager to go already and headed for the laundry building in a queue. We heard Capt. Kilpi shout after us:
-Remember boys, it is the 1st Company !
It was a duty and privilege, too, to serve in the 1.K.

Approaching the laundry building I was surprised to see our Rgt CO Col. T. E. Ekman there. At Lt. Honkaniemi's order the men were directed into the building while I hurried to report to Col. Ekman. The Colonel was by his countenance a respectable soldier. His attitude to the men under his command during the heavy battles of 1941 had earned him the respect of everyone. Ekman was transferred at the end of 1943 to a Brigade CO in Eastern Carelia. [21.Pr]

While we were entering the Laundry building the Artillery Lieutenant who was to join us was reporting his outfit to the Colonel. The Lieut appeared to be a professional. The men of Lin.P 3 had already arrived. So we were all present and our outfit comprised three officers and fourteen other ranks. In the course of the mission our outfit was to be forced to split.

A couple of Petromax oil lamps were in the laundry, illuminating the cavernous domed room . On the table there was a large scale map sketch on the terrain of our action, and our Patrol CO Lt. Honkaniemi turned to it. Once more he repeated the detailed instructions on our mission next night, without hiding any risks or dangers. Col. Ekman spoke then a few words, wishing us luck in our mission. I remember clearly his words as we were leaving:
“Men, remember, never abandon your buddies in any situation !”

The last cigarettes were smoked and we were heading for the limit of our sector that was our jump-off point where Sappers were just opening a gap in our wire and minefield. Col. Ekman headed for the F.O.O post “Lyhty” where he stayed the entire night-

Lt. Honkaniemi halted us after we had crossed the paved road and were about to enter a communication trench. He wanted to tell us “with his own words” how absolutely important it would be to maintain total silence. After he had finished someone asked with a subdued voice:
-I wonder if it is allowed to fart ?
Lt . Honkaniemi heard it and blurted out :
-Oh man , there is half a barrel of tar in my dugout and anyone who does that shall get his “private parts” tarred and I shall do it with my own hands !

Our outfit was in the best of moods and in a single file we started marching down the narrow communications trench for our jump-off point.

Immediately after going over the top and beyond our wire and minefield we set up a loose double file with a distance of about 10m. The sappers and our orienteering team were leading. Between the files was advancing our Co , the F.O.O and the stretcher bearers. The right file was led by S Sgt. Lumento and the left file by me. Lumento was hailing from Rymättylä, he was an outgoing and next to foolhardy man. During a mission in 1944 his fate was to hit a mine and lose a leg.

The next man behind me was Sgt. Hämäläinen who was watching our direction and behind him the men counting our steps. Before going over the top at 21.50hrs one flare had been fired from my stronghold, it was to be the last one. After that the entire front section of our Regiment was under orders not to launch any flares the entire night.

The terrain we were traversing was ditch-drained bog, most likely used as cattle pasture but during the war years it had been abandoned to sorrel, the stalks were half a meter tall while the ditch sides were growing low willow bushes.

After we had advanced about 100m we heard something suspicious in our rear and took cover at once. We were listening. Nothing, not a crackle was heard. Lt. Honkaniemi gave a signal to proceed. The weather was ideal for us. There was a light wind blowing our way, enabling us to observe smells, such as mahorka smoke. The sky was overcast with heavy dark rain clouds. The previous day had been stormy as well as this day but by evening the wind had mostly died down. The wind had dried the terrain, only the ditches were full of water .

We had not proceeded much farther as there again were sounds emerging from our rear. Again we took cover, quickly and quietly. No definite answer was sent from the rear to our enquiry. Lt. Honkaniemi set out to find out. I, too, headed for the tail end of our file. In mid-way I heard a whisper:
-Dutch courage, I think.

I realised what the man meant and I flew into a rage. Knowing that Lt. Honkaniemi would be even more furious, I hurried down our file to settle the problem. Thinking about it, if I had made it to the culprit first, I would have messed up everything with my anger.

As I was advancing someone caught my leg, stopping me. The same moment I heard Lt. Honkaniemi's calm voice:
-Have you had a drink you rascal ?
A stammering voice responded:
Er...some..cam...camphor...
Don't tell me any of your lies you b*, why did you not drink Lysol ?
Lt. Honkaniemi's voice was constrainedly calm, he went on.
-Now, start heading for Finland, oh man, if I should hear as much as a sound I bet you shall remember for ever what would happen next.

The man was a volunteer stretcher bearer of Lin.P 3 who had resorted to seeking courage in the wrong manner. The man was amazingly lucky because he made it to our lines unscathed, but of course was later court-martialled.

Now there was one less of us but it was our luck that this issue had been detected in this early phase. Of course this was a waste of time, although time was not money for us, but something much more – life. Our advance progressed without stops and soon we reached a ditch which we identified as the brook marked on our maps. The flow and depth of the water in the ditch deceived us badly even though we were not aware of it just then.

Lt. Honkaniemi sent scouts and the sappers to find the “blown-up bunker” that was our point of reference and first objective. Time passed and one by one the scouts returned reporting no contact. By that hour we had advanced about 300m spending more than one hour for it. The Lieut and I ducked in a ditch and under a cover he risked it and studied his map illuminated by his subdued torch. Everything appeared to be as it should. We had to be in the immediate vicinity of the bunker. Our direction had been correct, absolutely. Also the counted steps indicated that we should be finding ourselves in our objective, The scouts were sent out once more.

We had to find our point of reference, else we would be bumbling around like decapitated hens. Then Lt. Honkaniemi had an idea: we had a telephone connection to “Lyhty”. He called them. After discussing the situation the solution was this:
“Lyhty” shall liaise with our jump-off point and “Kuusi”, each of which shall fire a flare. Then we shall take the compass readings of each and transmit them to “Lyhty”, enabling them to calculate our position accurately.

Lt. Honkaniemi ordered five men with compasses to take the bearings, everyone was ordered to observe sharply as long as the flares were burning. Time passed and then “Lyhty” reported:
-Three minutes, a flare from your jump-off point, five minutes after it has been extinguished a flare from “Kuusi” - over.

Anxious waiting, dozens of pairs of eyes were ready to observe their surroundings. There was a faint plop and a flare went off near the top of its trajectory, illuminating the terrain into a maze of shifting shadows. We were desperately peering among the willows to see anything. The light decreased, hit the ground and died down. Nothing spotted, report from every direction. We had the compass bearing which we relayed to “Lyhty”. Another five minutes of torture – now !

The flare was flying in our direction, but nothing was spotted, absolutely nothing. The darkness was again impenetrable. The bearing was relayed to “Lyhty”, and Lt. Honkaniemi kept the call active. Soon I heard his disappointed voice:
“Thanks...we keep trying...I shall report. Over and off”.
I asked :
-What did they tell ?
-You find yourselves in the immediate vicinity of the bunker, actually inside.
I wanted to yell “stop lying” but Lt. Honkaniemi's quip returned my balance:
-Maybe those b*ds have stolen it ?

Again the scouts were sent out, on both flanks and some to the rear. Time passed but we got lucky in the pitch black night. Scouts returning from the front reported:
-the bunker is right ahead, behind the brook line, some 50 m.
We crossed the brook, it was a real brook and there we stood next to the bunker without seeing it but convinced it had not been stolen.

By now it was far past midnight. At this stage we were totally sure that Stronghold no.3 was not occupied. Lt. Honkaniemi reported it to “Lyhty” and received orders from Col. Ekman:
-Find out if it is possible to destroy Stronghold no,4.
This order gave us the freedom to do what the Lieut had expressed with his own words:
-Let's get in the Four by the rear door. It is the way for Gate-crashers.

But taking the rear door was not as simple as one could expect

To be continued in Latter part.
Muuperikuva.jpg

1.K/JR6 war diary SPK 9395 extract

24.8.1943:
13.00hrs Russki observation balloon spotted, direction 26.00-26.30 24.30 – 25.00
20.30hrs Battle patrol, strength 3+56, assembled. The composition of the patrol is the following; men from the Rgt Jaeger Platoon, 1.K, Fortification Btl plus Artillery F.O.O. Team and stretcher bearers. Five sappers are following some of the journey. Col. Ekman spoke and gave some advice.
22.06hrs Patrol set out, direction 16.00-17.00. The purpose is to arrive in the terrain of the blown up bunker. During the journey the Patrol got a little lost as to direction since visibility was about 150m wherefore the direction and the location of the patrol were verified .
By phone the heavy mortar was requested to fire two rounds and the jump-off point a flare. The compass bearings thus taken were relayed to the F.O.O post who informed that the patrol found themselves 30m from the blown up bunker. The patrol continued in the old direction for some 60m, reaching a brook which was crossed. Then a mine field was encountered and Sappers de-mined it.
01.15hrs Patrol reported that they found themselves at the blown up bunker, on the right glacis they altered the direction by 90 deg but next they met a wire hindrance. They continued for 50m and encountered a Russki sentry post with a tripwire on both sides. The Patrol advanced on a footpath for some 150m and arrived at “Mäki2”which was not manned. There the Patrol ran out of phone cable.
Now Lt. Honkaniemi and the Jaeger Platoon set out on the road from ? To the rear of Munakukkula hill. The remainder of the patrol was securing and was tasked to take a prisoner but none was taken. The dugouts on the sides of the roads were found to be abandoned. Then Lt. Honkaniemi liaised over the phone line with Col. Ekman who gave a new task, to destory “Mäki 4” .

(to be continued)
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