Soviet Spring Offensive over the Svir River 1942

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MikeF
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Soviet Spring Offensive over the Svir River 1942

Post by MikeF » 04 Nov 2008 03:08

Hello to all!

As most should know by now, I am working on gaining information on certain Finnish generals. LtGen Oesch is one of the generals that I am working on. I am interested in learning about the conduct of the battle that occurred when the Soviets launched a strong attack across the Svir River on 11 April 1942. What little I know is that the attack fell on the juncture between the 11th and 17th Divisions and advanced up to 10 k before it was halted. I think the battle lasted 10 days and supposedly cost the Red Army 10,000 troops to the loss of 440 Finns. Oesch was the overall Finnish cmdr hence my interest. Could anyone elaborate any further on the conduct of this battle?

BR,
Mike

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Re: Soviet Spring Offensive over the Svir River 1942

Post by Lotvonen » 12 Nov 2008 07:36

This extract from popular history book "Jatkosodan kronikka"
Red Army surprise attack at the Svir

11 to 14 April 1942. Soviet troops launched an offensive in the Svir front suffering from "rasputitsa", thawing of frozen ground which made the roads impassable. The blow struck the weak spot of the Finnish defences, a nearly unoccupied stretch of wilderness.

The offensive surprised the commanders of Group Aunus, defending the Olonez isthmus (between lakes Ladoga and Onega, tr.rem.) although there had been signs of the Soviet 7th Army being strengthened and moving troops. The Finns could not believe any major operations would be launched as early as April since there would not be a single passable road in Olonez. That is why the demobilization of the oldest men had continued.

In the beginning it seemed that the Russians would attack on the entire width of the Olonez isthmus, without any clear focal point. Aerial recce found on the 12th April that the main force of the Soviet troops were concentrated on the "seam" between Finnish 7th and 11th divisions (and also that of VI and V Army Corps), a nearly impassable stretch of wilderness between Shemenski and Pertjärvi.

The aims of the enemy having been discovered the commander of the Group Aunus began to move more troops for the disposal of the two Army Corps. Meanwhile the enemy had concentrated an entire Division (114th) and two ski battalions. Yet the force of the offensive began to ebb due to the wet boggy terrain where the snow had almost melted away.

On the 14th April the initiative was in the hands of Finns. SW of Pertjärvi 11th Division, reinforced by one battalion, managed to encircle the spearhead of the Soviet troops. In Shemenski the 17th Division managed to defeat the enemy west of Aukijärvi.

15 to 20 April 1942. The Soviet offensive in Olonez has been stopped. The situation in the focal points at Shemenski and Pertjärvi is still unresolved although the Finns hold the initiative. Battles are fought in mud and water filled trenches.

At Pertjärvi the encircled Soviet regiment is being destroyed. After unrelenting battle the Russians finally surrender on the 18th, whereby the threat to the 11th Division is eliminated.

At Shemenski the problems are bigger. The enemy troops holding tight NW of Aukijärvi still threaten the supply roads of the 17th Division. Group Aunus concentrates 9 battalions to the area by the 19th and an attack to break the enemy resistance is launched. The Finns advance in four battle groups and manage to encircle the enemy, who surrender two days later.

The "rasputitsa" battles at the Svir ended with the victory of Finnish troops. The Soviet troops suffered heavy losses: about 10000 enemy dead are counted on the battlefield. Finnish troops have 440 men killed in action.

Source: Jatkosodan kronikka , pp. 93-93

Translator's remark: I chose the Russian word "rasputitsa" , in Finnish "kelirikko", in Swedish "menföre" meaning "spring thaw that breaks the roads". It is caused by the fact that ground,frozen during the winter, melts faster from the top than below ground, and the melting water accumulates on top of the frozen ground. If disturbed e.g. by car wheels it turns into mud up to one meter deep. When all the ice has disappeared from the ground it drains itself.

I also use the Russian "Olonez" for Carelian/Finnish "Aunus" about the isthmus between lakes Ladoga and Onega.

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Re: Soviet Spring Offensive over the Svir River 1942

Post by MikeF » 16 Nov 2008 03:03

Thanks for the data Lotvonen. From my sources state the 114th Rifle Division consisted of the 363rd, 536th & 763rd Rifle Regiments. Artillery support was provided by the 405th Artillery Regiment. I don't have any information on the ski battalions.

BR,
MikeF

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Re: Soviet Spring Offensive over the Svir River 1942

Post by Denis1973 » 16 Mar 2009 19:14

Here is brief translation of war diary of 368 RD (TsAMO, fund of 368 RD, inventory list 1, file 12):
"April 1942
10/04 The ordrer received – to start attacks on enemy defences. 368RD (1224,1226,1228 RR, 939 AR (8*122mm, 16*76mm), 767 Mortar Div) with 111 Sep. Ski Bn must attack to Levino-Voznesenie, destroying enemy stongpoint in Osopovo, hill 134, capture Levino then assault in Ljabush – Vjazostrov direction.
Inthe beginning of operation division consist of 7 Bn's + 1 ski Bn (111th). One Bn – on march to frontline in Perkhinskaja, one (3/1226) secure coastline of Onega Lake.
The only heavy infantry weapons is 12 HMG's
11/04 Assault started at 0700 with artillery preparation. Infantry started at 0745. During the first 2 hours gains measured 500-600 m, on some areas up to 2 km. Strong enemy artillery, mortar and MG's fire. Unexpected minefields.
Div commander ussue an order – prepare flame platoons, teach soldiers how to use ampulomets (ampule throwers) and thermite bombs.
Losses – 83 KIA, 269 wounded
12/04 No furter gains achived. Not enough ammo.
Losses KIA 56, 289 WIA, 2 LMGs, 3 mortars
13/04 Enemy desperately defend Kirpzavod (brick factory), hill 113,8, Levino. Our forces trying to pass round the Levino strongpoint from left via hill 103,3.
Losses KIA 31, WIA 54
14/04 Nothing changed
Losses 33 KIA, 188 WIA
15/04 Our forces conducted recon-at-force in some areas.
Losses 32 KIA, 97 WIA
16/04 Heavy fighting around Repino strongpoint
Losses 20 KIA, 56 WIA
17/04 Fightin continued
Losses 18 KIA, 230 WIA
18/04 Losses 18 KIA, 230 WIA
19/04 Aggressive recon-at-force on whole front line. Our advance delayed by numerous mined wooden blockages
Losses 60 KIA, 214 WIA
20/04 18 KIA, 55 WIA
21/04 Advance stopped by division's commander order. All units started to build defences on achived line:
1228 RR Zabenetc – Korzina
1224 RR Habarovo – Simakovo – hill 134
1226 RR hill 134 – square [with given coordinates]
Losses 8 KIA, 29 WIA

During fighting enemy forces encountered – 9th IR, 15th sep Inf Bn, 51st IR. Main finnish defence line: Vozeroka river – south of Nikitinskaja. Supplementary position on Rodionovskii stream."

Unfortunately, i havn't maps of this area of 1930, so i don't know where are exatly all that willages, hill and sreams. I know only this is west shore of Onega lake. On modern maps there are no most of this villages and hills and the other coordinate net.

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Re: Soviet Spring Offensive over the Svir River 1942

Post by Mangrove » 16 Mar 2009 20:08

Denis1973 wrote:Here is brief translation of war diary of 368 RD (TsAMO, fund of 368 RD, inventory list 1, file 12):
So KIA 359 and WIA 1711 between 11.-21.4.1942.

Martti

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Re: Soviet Spring Offensive over the Svir River 1942

Post by Denis1973 » 16 Mar 2009 21:41

Martti Kujansuu wrote: So KIA 359 and WIA 1711 between 11.-21.4.1942.
Martti
Slightly less then 10000 KIA, isn't it? :wink:

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Re: Soviet Spring Offensive over the Svir River 1942

Post by Juha Tompuri » 16 Mar 2009 22:26

Denis1973 wrote:Slightly less then 10000 KIA, isn't it? :wink:
AFAIK the ~10 000 are the estimated total (KIA+WIA) losses.

Here a map of the area. 368 D is out of it, to the right from 272 D, at Osta - Kurvoila region.
Image
http://www.kolumbus.fi/annsan/eero/index.html
The focal point of the battles were fought at the Bulajeva - Pertjärvi area by mainly Soviet 114 D.

Regards, Juha

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Re: Soviet Spring Offensive over the Svir River 1942

Post by peeved » 16 Mar 2009 22:46

Here's the map from "Jatkosodan Historia, Vol. 4" including the 368 RD sector.

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Denis1973
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Re: Soviet Spring Offensive over the Svir River 1942

Post by Denis1973 » 17 Mar 2009 02:10

2 Juha Tompuri
Not exactly. It mentioned only KIA:
Lotvonen wrote: The Soviet troops suffered heavy losses: about 10000 enemy dead are counted on the battlefield.
Source: Jatkosodan kronikka , pp. 93-93
Thanks for the maps. Very interesting. About the first one - 368RD replaced 272RD at frontline at the night of 3-4 april 1942, while map shows situation on 18.2.1942. At that time 368 secured Onega's shoreline. Unfortunatelly, i have no information about 272RD positions at time of offensive started.

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Re: Soviet Spring Offensive over the Svir River 1942

Post by ML » 17 Mar 2009 08:43

See 1930's map of the area below. This shows only the western part of the area, Osta and easternmost part of Finnish defense line is east of the map edge. Unfortunately I don't have the sheet east of this one...

However, some places mentioned are visible: Ljabushki, Levina (Levino?), hill 113,8, Vozeroksa river, Nikitinskaja.
Slightly less then 10000 KIA, isn't it?
Yes, but this attack of 368.RD was only a side show of the assault of 7th Army. Main assault was done in the middle by 21.RD, 114.RD and 69th Marine Brigade to capture Podporozhe. Finnish estimate of 10000 Soviet casualties is for the whole 7th Army. Worst casualties were suffered by 114.RD (5938, of which 1888 KIA, 3584 WIA, 381 MIA, 84 by severe cold and 1 as POW). Casualties of the whole 7th Army spring offensive were 12774 men, of which 3439 KIA, 8468 WIA and 837 MIA (figures by Juri Kilin, based on Soviet sources). So, the Finnish estimate should be total casualties, not KIA.
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Re: Soviet Spring Offensive over the Svir River 1942

Post by Denis1973 » 17 Mar 2009 14:09

ML wrote: Casualties of the whole 7th Army spring offensive were 12774 men, of which 3439 KIA, 8468 WIA and 837 MIA (figures by Juri Kilin, based on Soviet sources). So, the Finnish estimate should be total casualties, not KIA.
But at second message in this topic declared that casualties was 10000 KIA only. So this isn't true, are you agreed?
Thanks for the map - it great! What is the scale - 1 km?

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Re: Soviet Spring Offensive over the Svir River 1942

Post by ML » 17 Mar 2009 14:31

But at second message in this topic declared that casualties was 10000 KIA only. So this isn't true, are you agreed?
Thanks for the map - it great! What is the scale - 1 km?
Yes, you are right. Actually the Finnish original estimate probably was "total casualties" as I have another Finnish book that says so and adds that the figure was increased to 14000 in "tilannekatsaus" report of General HQ. Total casualties were later erroneously written as KIA in the book Lotvonen quotes.

I just wanted to point out that about 2000 casualties of 368 RD is not the whole story.

The map is 1:100 000 (1 cm = 1 km). One square is 2 kms.

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Re: Soviet Spring Offensive over the Svir River 1942

Post by Juha Tompuri » 17 Mar 2009 18:47

14 000 casualties as an estimate is pretty well done.
I wonder what were the Soviet estimates of the Finnish casualties at that battle?
Jatkosodan Historia, Vol. 4 mentions the Finnish losses 11-20th April there being 2165 men, of which 440 KIA.

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Re: Soviet Spring Offensive over the Svir River 1942

Post by Janne » 18 Mar 2009 07:49

FWIW Anssi Vuorenmaa also managed to make the same error of turning Soviet "casualties" into "KIA" in his "Ratkaisun hetkiä", a more recent book than "Kronikka". A bit surprising - especially since IIRC he was on the board of editors of the "new improved" "official" history - but both are "popular histories" and it isn't at all unusual that once an erroneous interpretation is made in one such book, it will sooner or later pop up in another.

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Re: Soviet Spring Offensive over the Svir River 1942

Post by Mangrove » 28 Sep 2010 16:03

ML wrote: Yes, you are right. Actually the Finnish original estimate probably was "total casualties" as I have another Finnish book that says so and adds that the figure was increased to 14000 in "tilannekatsaus" report of General HQ. Total casualties were later erroneously written as KIA in the book Lotvonen quotes.
http://digi.narc.fi/digi/fullpic.ka?kuid=4466249
Soviet casualties were estimated as 14.625 KIA and 425 POW during April 1st - 28th 1942. As you said the KIA reading must also include WIA.

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