1944 Battle of Ilomantsi

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MikeF
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1944 Battle of Ilomantsi

Post by MikeF » 22 Jul 2006 20:45

Hello all,

Looking for some detailed info on the Battle of Ilomantsi that occurred in the summer of 1944 (July-August). I know little other than the Cavalry Brigade assisted in defeating the Soviet 176th & 289th Rifle Divisions in what I believe was the last major battle fought between Finland and Soviet Russia. While the struggles on the Karelian Isthmus could be called defensive victories, the Battle of Ilomantsi, I believe with what little I know about it, was a clear cut victory over the Red Army. Any data would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Mike

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Alex Yeliseenko
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Re: 1944 Battle of Ilomantsi

Post by Alex Yeliseenko » 23 Jul 2006 07:33

MikeF wrote:Hello all,

Looking for some detailed info on the Battle of Ilomantsi that occurred in the summer of 1944 (July-August). I know little other than the Cavalry Brigade assisted in defeating the Soviet 176th & 289th Rifle Divisions in what I believe was the last major battle fought between Finland and Soviet Russia. While the struggles on the Karelian Isthmus could be called defensive victories, the Battle of Ilomantsi, I believe with what little I know about it, was a clear cut victory over the Red Army. Any data would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Mike
Hi

The Russian sources inform, that problems of 176 and 289 rifle divisions (from structure of 32 armies) have been connected with reduction of their number in the last fights. Due to the operative superiority in forces, Finns managed to block these divisions. On this site 32 tank brigade of Red army on August, 4th has been thrown. The tank brigade was possible manage divisions a rifle and to provide their output from an environment. Fights went five days. Against Finns old tanks - even Т-26 were used. In conditions of absence at Finns powerful ATG, it has been quite justified. According to the Russian point of view, local failure in this area has not played any role in war. Finland by then has already actually sufferred military defeat. A rifle division and tank brigades command of Red army from Kareliya has started to throw divisions on other fronts - against Germany.

Best regards from Siberia!

Alex.

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Juha Tompuri
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Re: 1944 Battle of Ilomantsi

Post by Juha Tompuri » 23 Jul 2006 08:37

Alex Yeliseenko wrote: Finland by then has already actually sufferred military defeat.
In my opinion, defeat is a quite strong word here.
According to the Russian point of view, local failure in this area has not played any role in war.
According to the Finnish point of view, local failures also occured at Bay of Viborg, Tali-Ihantala, Äyräpää, and Nietjärvi.
The Soviet offered terms of peace changed drastically after these battles.

Regards, Juha

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Re: 1944 Battle of Ilomantsi

Post by Alex Yeliseenko » 23 Jul 2006 08:53

Juha Tompuri wrote:
Alex Yeliseenko wrote: Finland by then has already actually sufferred military defeat.
In my opinion, defeat is a quite strong word here.
According to the Russian point of view, local failure in this area has not played any role in war.
According to the Finnish point of view, local failures also occured at Bay of Viborg, Tali-Ihantala, Äyräpää, and Nietjärvi.
The Soviet offered terms of peace changed drastically after these battles.

Regards, Juha

1. The Soviet command considered the Karelian front - as minor, not the basic. The overall objective was - Berlin, the Central Europe. Persistent resistance of the Finnish army has played the role, but war could proceed before full rout of the Finnish army if Stalin and the Western allies would not reach the compromise about preservation of independent Finnish Republic. Pay attention to insignificant quantity of armies of Red army on the Karelian front.

2. Local failures have been connected with lack of forces of the Soviet party. The same was and during the Finnish approaches in 1941-1942. Then the Finnish army also could not execute the initial plan of capture of territories in Kareliya.

Regards.

Alex.

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Re: 1944 Battle of Ilomantsi

Post by Juha Tompuri » 23 Jul 2006 23:22

Mike,

Here is a partially english language page about the Ilomantsi area battles http://www.joensuu.fi/mekri/sotahistoria/index.htm


Alex,
Alex Yeliseenko wrote:1. The Soviet command considered the Karelian front - as minor, not the basic. The overall objective was - Berlin, the Central Europe. Persistent resistance of the Finnish army has played the role, but war could proceed before full rout of the Finnish army if Stalin and the Western allies would not reach the compromise about preservation of independent Finnish Republic.
I totally agree about the Soviet main objective, and how it was reached: by the offensives called "ten Stalins blows".
Finnish front wasn't a matter of life and death to the Soviet Union. To us it was.

Pay attention to insignificant quantity of armies of Red army on the Karelian front.

2. Local failures have been connected with lack of forces of the Soviet party.
Yes, he Soviet side should have had even more troops and equipment to have been able to reach the initial military goals.

Regards, Juha

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Harri
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Re: 1944 Battle of Ilomantsi

Post by Harri » 24 Jul 2006 08:18

Juha Tompuri wrote:
Alex Yeliseenko wrote:Finland by then has already actually sufferred military defeat.
In my opinion, defeat is a quite strong word here.
I agree with Juha. Actually already before that Soviet troops had been stopped everywhere by the Finnish troops with the help of Germans (Gefechtsverband Kuhlmey, 122.I.D., 303.StuG.Brg. on Karelian Isthmus and Bay of Viborg) after a delaying period. The battle-weakened Soviet troops were not able to bet Finnish defences anymore anywhere. This can hardly be called as a defeat. For the Soviets all thes battles were a clear failure where they could not achieve their planned goals.

Finns started a limited offensive mostly with light troops at Ilomantsi region against two Soviet divisions during which Soviets lost most of their heavy equipment and suffered very heavy losses. Finns were led by Maj.Gen. E. Raappana who was considered one of the best experts of guerrilla and forest warfare in Finland. Because Finnish forces were not bigger they could not capture or destroy Soviet divisions quite entirely, for example lots of soldiers could escape. Anyway it indicated clearly that Finnish armed forces were far from defeated and the following battles (which didn't take place) would have been even harder than during June and July 1944.

Like mentioned earlier the battles of Ilomantsi have generally been called as "the motti-master's last lesson" ("motti" means an area where enemy troops have been encircled, sometimes by even considerable weaker forces).

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Re: 1944 Battle of Ilomantsi

Post by Janne » 24 Jul 2006 13:28

Alex Yeliseenko wrote:
The Russian sources inform, that problems of 176 and 289 rifle divisions (from structure of 32 armies) have been connected with reduction of their number in the last fights. Due to the operative superiority in forces, Finns managed to block these divisions. On this site 32 tank brigade of Red army on August, 4th has been thrown. The tank brigade was possible manage divisions a rifle and to provide their output from an environment. Fights went five days. Against Finns old tanks - even Т-26 were used. In conditions of absence at Finns powerful ATG, it has been quite justified. According to the Russian point of view, local failure in this area has not played any role in war. Finland by then has already actually sufferred military defeat. A rifle division and tank brigades command of Red army from Kareliya has started to throw divisions on other fronts - against Germany.

Alex.
The two Soviet divisions had naturally suffered during the month of fighting and advance since June 20th and lost about 25% of their original strength. However, the Soviet side was reinforced by three "marine dbrigades" (3rd, 69th and 70th) - and the Finnish side (21.Pr, RjP3) weren't exactly at full combat strength either, not even the units (RvPr, I/JR52, ErP24) that were deployed from other fronts. According to Yuri Kilin, the Soviet troops were just under 20.000 men strong at the time. (BTW there was another tank brigade as well, the 90th Separate.) The Finns were just above 15.000 men strong at most.

It's trivial to point out that the outcome of the battle did not really play any role in the war, but it wasn't just a local action. The Soviet attavk had the purpose of outflanking the final Finnish defense line (the so calle U-position) on the Karelian front after the Soviet main attack had been stopped there. (Just like the Soviets had earlier launched similar "local" attacks on the Viborg Bay and in Vuosalmi after the main attack had been stopped in Ihantala.) Of course, the result of the war was already given - and it could well be that the point of the attack, i.e. creating conditions for the continuation of the main attack, was simply to test the Finnish resolve and to pressure the Finns, not to contest the given result (which BTW the Finns had de facto accepted before June).

The battle itself took place in quite different conditions in vast, hilly and roadless forests, where both sides had great logistic problems. The Finns were slightly less heavy and roadbound, showed somewhat greater initiave and risked greater concentration of forces. The two Soviet divisions were essentially outflanked on both sides, cut off from their supplies, then a wedge was hit to separate them from each other and the thus created "motti" encirclements were softened by mortar and artillery. Both divisions lost practically their entire heavy weapons, artillery, trucks etx, but the men managed to fight thrie way out and return. The Soviet losses (according to Kilin) were 5000 men (1500 KIA and MIA) and the Finnish losses 2500 (400 KIA and MIA).


(Naturally enough, such a victory - parts of which were also fought within the current borders, which is quite unusual - has, to a certain extent, been "overblown" in popular history. OTOH, it still comes, in my view, as a distant second to the loss of Viipuri/Vyborg on June 20th in the number of books written during the 1990´s or media attention received since then...)

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Re: 1944 Battle of Ilomantsi

Post by Janne » 24 Jul 2006 14:08

Alex Yeliseenko wrote:
1. The Soviet command considered the Karelian front - as minor, not the basic. The overall objective was - Berlin, the Central Europe. Persistent resistance of the Finnish army has played the role, but war could proceed before full rout of the Finnish army if Stalin and the Western allies would not reach the compromise about preservation of independent Finnish Republic. Pay attention to insignificant quantity of armies of Red army on the Karelian front.
(end f quote)

It is quite trivial, again, to point out that Berlin was far more important than Helsinki or that the overwhelmingly vast majority of Soviet armies was *not* fighting against Finns on either the Leningrad or the Karelian front. The point that Finns generally want to raise in discussion is that the strength and the quantity of the armies that *were* deployed to fight the Finns was quite sufficient to the tasks they *were* given by Stalin - it is just that they didn't manage to fulfill them on either front. (This is not to say that the Finns won the decisive battles in 1944 - I dislike the term "defensive victory" which was coined in early 1980's - let alone that the the Soviets suffered a military defeat, but let's just say that IMHO it is possible to oversimplify a bit too much also when looking at a Russian point of view.)


(beginning of quote)
2. Local failures have been connected with lack of forces of the Soviet party. The same was and during the Finnish approaches in 1941-1942. Then the Finnish army also could not execute the initial plan of capture of territories in Kareliya.

Alex.
It is true there is a certain "grey area" when we talk about the "initial plan of capture of territories": Recapture of the Karelian Isthmus (without a continuation of the advance to Leningrad) and capture of the Aunus isthmus (between lakes Laatokka/Ladoga and Ääninen/Onega, i.e. approx. to the Syväri/Svir river) are simple and well defines. The third of the "three isthmuses" was believed by some to mean that between Ääninen and White Sea, but neither Mannerheim nor Ryti ever stated it as such and I'd say it was rather left open and contingent on military developments elsewhere (and dependend on political reactions elsewhere). In practise the third isthmus was the one known as "Maaselän kannas" between Onega and Siisjärvi(Rus.?).

This is to say the Finnish army did "execute" the plan on two fronts. On the third it is difficult to say whether it did or did not and if it did not, was it whether was due to lack of forces, mounting losses, unsurmountable defense or those other, outside factors. Further all of this took place in 1941; in 1942 the Finns only attacked with a limited objective on Kriv and to recaputre the Suursaari/Hogland island. (The rest was raiding activity and "violent/forced patrollin".)


You are of course right in that the advances of the Finnish troops in the north were stopped by the Soviet defenders, but there were militaily and politically German operations and goals.

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Post by Rodan Lewarx » 25 Jul 2006 08:46

Janne
BTW there was another tank brigade as well, the 90th Separate
It's mistake. 90th separate tank regiment, not brigade. It was the only tank unit of soviet 32nd army on 01 july 1944 (see soviet OOB at http://www.victory.mil.ru/war/oob/bs_1944.1.07.html ).

Alex
To support 176th and 289th divisions 29th tank brigade was used (transferred from 7th army).

Regards

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1944 Battle of Ilomansti

Post by MikeF » 25 Jul 2006 13:09

Thanks to all who have responded. I had no idea my question would spark such a debate. I am still interested in a more of a "blow by blow" description of the battle if anyone has such data. Units involved, commanders, losses and the actual progress of field operations.

Thank you,
Mike

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Re: 1944 Battle of Ilomansti

Post by arctic fox » 25 Jul 2006 15:06

MikeF wrote:Thanks to all who have responded. I had no idea my question would spark such a debate. I am still interested in a more of a "blow by blow" description of the battle if anyone has such data. Units involved, commanders, losses and the actual progress of field operations.

Thank you,
Mike
You can get a rough "blow by blow" idea about the battle at this page: http://www.joensuu.fi/mekri/sotahistoria/1_307.htm . Click "Seuraava" for next map.

Perhaps someone could translate the notes related to the maps...

-AF

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Post by Juha Tompuri » 26 Jul 2006 00:31

Rodan,

thanks for the clarificaton.
Wasn't there at the Soviet side an engineer (construction) brigade too (1st separate, or something) ?
Mike wrote:Thanks to all who have responded. I had no idea my question would spark such a debate.
:)
Mike wrote:I am still interested in a more of a "blow by blow" description of the battle if anyone has such data. Units involved, commanders, losses and the actual progress of field operations.
About the units, here is something in finnish: http://www.joensuu.fi/mekri/sotahistoria/index.htm
Click Jatkosota (Continuation War) then scroll down to Ilomantsin mottitaisteluihin osallistuneet joukot (units that took part to Ilomantsi encirclement battles)
There you have the Finnish units and commanders in blue and Soviet in red.
With the help of these pages: http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=101995 you should be able to solve out the units.
If not so, feel free to ask.
Also it's quite important here to define at what date the battle of Ilomantsi started: 21th July? (when the Soviet 32th Army gave the orders to take Ilomantsi, and when the Soviet troops crossed the 1940 border) and ended (13th August ?)


Regards, Juha

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Ilomansti

Post by MikeF » 26 Jul 2006 12:51

Hello Juha,

Thanks for the directions and the translations on the forum thread should help me greatly. As for the dates of the battle, what my limited resources tell me, and correct me if I'm wrong, the 1944 Battle of Ilomansti lasted from 29 July through 10 August. That would be the time period I'm interested in.

Thanks,
Mike

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Ilomansti

Post by MikeF » 28 Jul 2006 13:56

Hello again,

Try as I might, I am not able to find detailed info on this battle from my limited resources. In fact, I know hardly anything about the 1944 battles in Karelia. The most famous, at least as far as I know, were the Soviet amphibious landings at Tuulos and, of course, Ilomansti. I also believe there was a defensive victory along the U-Line. Obviously, the major battles were fought on the Isthmus. Anyway, can some translate the notes listed below the maps found at: http://www.joensuu.fi/mekri/sotahistoria/1_307.htm ?

Thanks :)
Mike

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Alex Yeliseenko
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Post by Alex Yeliseenko » 28 Jul 2006 14:27

Info soviet losses in Ilomantsi.

http://www.joensuu.fi/mekri/sotahistoria/

Best regards from Siberia.

Alex.

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