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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:
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
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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)
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.
In the evening the CO [Divisional? Tr.rem.] ordered 2.K/Kev.Os.18 to be dispersed for cowardice and desertion.
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.
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
Mid July 1941
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.
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.
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
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,
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.
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
SPK 16988 2.K/Kev.Os. 18 (school notebook)
Securing and reconnoitring.
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
New men arrived. Coy re-established.
19.30hrs Attack at PR. 1112,5.
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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:
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
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.
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) 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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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.
Failed to find verification to this one.
Now, gardening season has started. More translations next November.
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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.
- Posts: 785
- Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
- Location: Finland
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 !
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 !
-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 !
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.
* Western aid during the Winter War, tr.rem.
War dead database extracts :
Laurila, Veikko Jaakko Henrik
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)
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 ;
Lamponen, Taito Olavi ;Alikersantti ;
18.03.1918 Valkeala ;25.09.1941 Villavaara ;23 ;
Jalkaväkirykmentti 25, 10. K
Buried in Kouvola
Niemi, Esko ;Korpraali ;
23.05.1917 Valkeala ;25.09.1941 Villavaara ;24 ;
Jalkaväkirykmentti 25, 10. K
buried ;Kouvola ;
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;
Mujunen, Tahvo ;Sotamies ;29.10.1901 ;25.09.1941 Sapeljärvi ;39
;Jalkaväkirykmentti 25, 5. K ;
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
Vierula, Vilho ;Sotamies ;
22.01.1908 Vehkalahti ;25.09.1941 Villavaara ;33 ;
Jalkaväkirykmentti 25, 9. komppania ;
buried ;Kouvola, Sippolan kirkko ;
Ihola, Eino Harald ;Sotamies ;
17.12.1904 Särkisalo ;25.09.1941 Villavaara ;36 ;
Jalkaväkirykmentti 25, III pataljoona ;
buried ;Salo, Särkisalon hautausmaa ;
II/JR25 war diary (10990) extracts: (Written on a school notebook, grid paper, with dates followed by text)
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.
Battalion in R&R. In the evening preparations for the attack to be launched the next day were carried out.
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.
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)
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.
At dawn the Coy set out to fan out along the edges of the “motti” .
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
Coy in R&R.
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.
07.00hrs Coy started sweeping the motti
09.00hrs Motti was cleared without enemy resistance.
Coy in the terrain NE of Sapelijärvi, R&R.
8.K/JR25 war diary extract ( a regular war diary template):
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.
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.
18.30hrs Order: Coy to be ready to march on the 25.9.1941 at 05.30hrs
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.
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.
During the afternoon we built a sauna which we used the same night.
(End of the day)
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- Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
- Location: Finland
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:
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:
Pvt. Närvänen, PFC Tammelin.
Cpl. Kalliomäki, Pvt. Oksa, Pvt. Vainio, PFC Reijo and Pvt. Ojanen.
11.1.1941 2nd Lt. Parkkinen, PFC Puhakka, Pvt. Salminen
09.11.1941 2nd Lt. Mikkola, S Sgt. Valo, Sgt.Saari and Pvt. Malmsten
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
- Posts: 785
- Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
- Location: Finland
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 )