Personal Finnish War Stories

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Lotvonen
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Posts: 778
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 03 Feb 2021 05:36

Olavi Tuomisto

Modest warrior

Journal “Kansa Taisteli”. 6. 1962

Being wounded in the early phases of the Carelian Isthmus battles I was out of the ranks, being under treatment for a long time in the hospitals of Central Finland. During my journey from hospital to hospital I was acquainted with a Sergeant hailing from Northern Ostrobothnia and became a good friend with him. He, too, had been knocked out in the bloody battle of Kuuterselkä [15 to 16 June 1944]. I wish to describe his appearance briefly, in case someone would know him. The Sergeant was a young Reservist, of medium height, with a sporty body and curly light brown hair.

We arrived in the same hospital as stretcher patients with the same transport. Soon I got interested in this quiet sullen soldier because I found out that in the end he had a warm heart under his skin. He also was a total patriot, Fatherland was such a sacred idea for him that it was not something to be blabbered about daily. The Sergeant was a modest man who never said anything about himself or his accomplishments. By the by I found out that he was a farmer, in his youth he had been in secondary school for a few years. In his military career his latest duty had been the leader of a Jaeger Company. To my inquiry why a man like him had not been sent to the Reserve Officer School he responded that in the beginning of the war he had been offered the possibility but he had just forgotten about it.

When lying and resting in the summer sunshine we would tell a story after another. Often our thoughts were at home, with our next-of-kin, then again we were worried about the fate of our nation and the desperate ongoing battle for our independence. In our opinion only a miracle and the great G-d would be able to save us as the beast of War was raging loose.

Finally the summer of great battles turned into autumn. One day, walking alone in the park of a military hospital I happened to meet a man who told me that he had been a man in the Sergeant's platoon and the Sarge, he said, had been a hell of a man, fearless and resourceful. In the battle the Sarge had been wounded in he had single-handedly destroyed four enemy tanks with recently distributed Panzerfausts, stopping the enemy advance in a moment when every officer of the Company was out of game. He never told me about this incident, either.

Having learned this I started respecting and admiring my new friend even more. Our chats became ever more warm and informal. It was as if a piece of ice would have started melting in his soul. At times he was even boisterous but as soon as the talk turned to his wounding he shut up.

Our wounds were severe enough to require further hospital treatment. Grey and monotonous days were following one another, as anyone who has been in a military hospital can remember. I had not seen the Sergeant for a few days. I was delighted as he one day arrived and sit on the edge of my bed, brisk, energetic and with a mysterious mien. We had not yet got started in talking as my friend pulled out of his pocket a badly crumpled scrap of a newspaper. He had found it in an outhouse, he said and continued:
-Have a look!

I took the piece of paper in my hand, it was an extract of a GHQ Bulletin published in “Helsingin Sanomat”, listing officer promotions. The piece of paper was tattered and yellowish, published in June. In the lower corner I read the name; Osmo Juhani Talvitie.
-What the heck? You have been promoted to Second Lieutenant, indeed! Congratulations! This promotion was given to a man who deserved it, I can tell you!
- Don't take it too seriously, maybe it is not even true, my pal opined.

2nd Lt. Osmo Juhani Talvitie, having been promoted more than 4 months earlier, did not want to pay attention to his case, unlike me. I headed directly to the hospital office asking to see the GHQ Bulletin for last June. There I found the confirmation that my friend indeed had been promoted from Sergeant into 2nd Lieutenant and on top of that he had been decorated with VR3 for resourcefulness and bravery.

The same evening a brief ceremony was conducted in the honour of our new Lieut since our Head Surgeon wanted to shake the hand of the hero in the presence of everyone. The Surgeon Major also made a brief speech telling how proud he was that men like him are constantly found in our Army. New officers are needed, and he would see to it that this man would recover. A huge bundle of roses appeared on 2nd Lt. Talvitie's night table and many a nurse would pay more attention to the recovering officer.

Due to his promotion our fresh Lieut could have been transferred to the better ward of the hospital. 2nd Lt Talvitie refused politely from the honour, saying that he preferred to be in the company of the men with whom he had earned his rank.

-No relevant war diaries covering the battle of Kuuterselkä have survived.

Lotvonen
Member
Posts: 778
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 07 Feb 2021 06:24

Reino Penttinen

Case of Tank scare in Winter War

Journal “Kansa Taisteli”, 06, 1962

The following story describes a major case of panic in the early days of the Winter War NE of lake Ladoga. The author was the CO of a field gun battery but he left the guns in the charge of his Battery officer and he himself assumed the task of the F.O.O.
Map sketch as appendix.


The Winter War had started on the last day of November 1939 and our troops had started withdrawing at a good rate while fighting delaying action.

On the 3rd December 1939 at evening dusk JR 36 of 12.D. Had according to their orders set up a defence line at Piitsoja, some 20km W of Suojärvi. Some field fortification work had been carried out there by our troops before the war broke out.

The positions were manned under quite difficult circumstances. The terrain and the positions were unfamiliar to the commanders and the troops, and it was next to totally dark. The outfits of the Regiment had been mixed up during the day due to a failed counterstrike, and even some sort of panicky feeling was detectable.

Yet we were lucky. We could use the entire night to prepare for our defence and as the day broke we could see that all preparations were about complete. The focal point of the defence had been set at the E-W road and the parallel railway line some half a kilometre S of it, because only there there was some visibility. By now it had been seen that the enemy would attack only sticking to a road.

The next morning, December 4th at 0800hrs sharp as the dusk was clearing the enemy launched an attack. Dozens of guns, mortars and MG s started simultaneously an ear shattering noise. Fire was directed mainly at the front line at the road and railway line.

We had established a F.O.O. Post for two batteries in a nest built in advance in a road ditch. It was fairly well protected. There were two AT guns each on one side of the road and also two MG s next to the road. A special feature of the theatre was that the road was perfectly straight and even, reaching as such kilometres on both directions of the front line.

After the enemy fire preparation had fiercely continued less than one hour movement appeared on the road. In closed formations the enemy platoons and companies marched, filling the road, bravely up to our fire zone. Between the closed formations the enemy had placed here and there heavy weapons, even field guns pulled by horses. Consequently it is no wonder that the concentrated fire of our weapons created a veritable massacre. Great piles of bodies and equipment were created on the long stretch of road in front of our positions

Then, suddenly the tanks appeared in our view. From a distance of several kilometres we were able to observe the approach of a swaying column with our periscope binocular. One, two, three and so on. They came in various sizes and appearances. We counted 28 of them before the first ones reached the good firing distance.

Waiting period was a thrilling one. My heart was wrenched by the untested effectiveness of our AT weapons. Would our AT outfit, in action for the first time, keep their head and sang-froid?

Disregarding the noise of shooting our positions were ominously quiet. We were waiting very seriously. The men were turning their eyes to their leaders. The responsibility was weighing on them and fear – actually shaking. But we understood that now was not the moment to show fear. With apparent calm we described the scene we saw through the periscope binocular. Minutes, even seconds, were long and nerve racking.

Finally as the nearest tanks were some 300m off the order to open fire was given. With the very first shots of our AT guns succeeded in making hits and soon yells of joy were echoing in our positions The leading tank had caught fire. Our elan just increased and it was just two or three hours before there were four smoking great fires on the road. By that time the other tanks had admitted that their attack had failed, they interrupted it and sought cover in the impassable forest in their rear.

As if by magic the feeling in our positions had transformed. Fear had turned into wild frenzy of battle and victory. Enemy infantry kept launching attacks ferociously and blindly, supported by strong fire but our weapons kept cutting down attackers mercilessly. The piles of corpses in front of our line kept growing. Horses and all kind of war material kept pushing between the fallen and wounded men. Shocking lamentation of the wounded could be heard among the din of weapons. The darkening battlefield was still illuminated by tanks burning in high flames. The din went on hour after hour and by afternoon our victory could be taken as a fact.

The vehemence of the battle of Piitsoja is also illustrated by the fact that our weak artillery, two KL batteries [short barrel 3” field guns] fired during the day about 1300 HE and shrapnel shells. The quantity is mind-boggling taken into account the reserves and circumstances of the Winter War.

Of course we too had suffered casualties in the course of the day. Paramedics had had plenty of work all day and also a number of KIA had to be assembled in the rear. One of our AT guns that had fought bravely was hit at noon and knocked out. Several men were badly wounded.

Although the initiative had been completely shifted to us during the day, the shocks experienced during the past two days were too much for our inexperienced men. As soon as the dusk was falling I was able to spot an intent to pull back, one by one or even in groups. It was evident that the darkness and the risk of getting surprised began to unnerve and scare the men. In several occasions the leaders had to force men back in their positions that they had abandoned at will. The hours of the afternoon were reigned by this feeling of insecurity despite the fact that the enemy enthusiasm for attack had evidently dried up and only the shelling was still sweeping our line like a swell after a storm.

Then it was evening and darkness had fallen. In our observation position we had been so occupied with our task that we did not have the time to find out what was going on around us. Suddenly it was oddly quiet. I sent my Runner NCO Sgt. Laurila to find out about the situation on the S and N sides of the road. It was evident at once that except us three in our hole there was not a single man in the entire line. It was indeed a nasty observation, in the evening of the first day of battle.

Immediately I sent Sgt. Laurila to liaise with the Battalion C.P. Situated a few hundred meters in the rear, in the Piitsoja Sawmill manager's house. After a while the Battalion CO arrived, quite nervous. At firs he was unwilling to believe my message but having made a tour in the line he himself could see how serious the situation was. When leaving he assured that in half an hour the Battalion shall again be manning the line and told us to stay put. I could see that his promise was empty but order is order, and we stayed in our position

Now we had the time to consider. We were not much bothered by the enemy. The connection with the Battery was working. In the darkness I defined ten targets on my fire control map and forwarded them to the Battery officer, requesting a strike at them with five minute intervals. In case we would lose the connection I also ordered that having carried out the fire order the Battery should retreat to the prepared positions at the Kollaanjoki line and send one horse to pick up us and our multitude of gear.

As bad luck would have it our telephone call was cut off by a shell hitting the cable and the Battery officer, as it was later found out, had interpreted the incident in his personal manner. The battlefield was relatively completely peaceful. Only now and then an enemy MG let go a long burst in the direction of the road, accompanied by AT guns. Also light batteries were at times strafing our empty trenches. Tanks however were hiding in the forest, not one was seen any more. Enemy infantry had also started licking their wounds inflicted in course of the day.

My Battery carried out their ordered firing task. The strikes were directed in the depth on both sides of the road with the purpose of harassing resting enemies. A couple of hours went by , maybe even three. As nothing new was heard I again sent Sgt. Laurila to the Battalion C.P. To get some news. Soon he was back and told me:
“The doors and the windows of the C.P. Are wide open. Lamps are alight and there are burning fires in the ovens, but there is not one in there. It seems that the gentlemen of the C.P. Had evacuated themselves through windows in the bog behind the house.”

A piece of news indeed in those circumstances. So there were the three of us repelling the attack of an enemy Division reinforced with tanks in the pitch dark forest. Every connection in the rear was cut off and our outfit was too small for phone line patrol and communication by runner. Of course we did not have any radio transceiver for our disposal. After several sleepless days we were quite exhausted and on top of all it had been the first day of heavy fighting of our lives.

This situation was not hard to judge. We, too, had to try to get away. Just pack up your stuff and get going. Being total first-timers we tried to take everything left behind: the periscope binocular, phone and cable coils, our weapons and those abandoned by others, even ammo dumped in the ditch. We were overloaded from the very beginning because we could not use the road that was under fire. Pushing our way through forest and over bog we passed the Sawmill manager's house situated on a hillside, with its lit windows.

Having proceeded a couple of kilometres we moved over to the road because the bend at Näätäoja provided cover against fire from there on. When having a break in the road ditch we noticed that there was a commotion on the friendly side. A horse approached in full gallop, sparks were issued by horseshoes and sledge runners. We stopped the vehicle and found that it was the LMG squad of our Battery, on their way with a maximal speed to Piitsoja. The Squad leader, Cpl. Laukkanen reported that he had been ordered by the Battery Officer to get the body of the CO at any means to be shipped home. -This error was due to the explosion that had cut off our phone cable and it had sounded in the ears of the Battery officer like a direct shell hit in our foxhole. While the men were scratching their heads we loaded our stuff in the sleigh and we “the corpses” climbed on top of everything. At a slow pace we continued our withdrawal to Kollaanjoki river.

During our journey we were able to witness what had happened. The troops had abandoned their positions in a panicky manner. The feeling had been so powerful that the leaders, even higher up commanders had seen and heard hallucinated matters and followed their troops devoid of willpower. “Tanks are coming” had been passed from man to man and the yell had incited a mindless panic. The drivers had cut off the harness of their horses, abandoning valuable loads of tents and other material to join the fleeing stream of men. The chaos had been joined by the entire baggage train of the Regiment, and also an artillery battery whose CO had totally lost his nerve by the afternoon. Here and there the commanders had tried to stop their panicked men but the fear of tanks and death had defeated the voice of reason.

It was not until about ten kilometres on, in their positions at Kollaanjoki river, that JR34 managed to stop the madness with decisive action. At midnight we also managed to join our outfit on the far side of Kollaanjoki river. It proved to be problematic to convince some of our superiors on our experiences and observations the previous night, specially hard to believe was the fact that by the hour we left not a single enemy, let alone a tank, had even tried to cross Piitsoja brook. Having written in the night a detailed report on the events of the day for the Division CO I finally in the small hours managed to get some decent rest after several days without sleep.

After the Piitsoja battle JR 36 was assembled in the rear for reorganization and replacements. The Regiment was then transferred to fight at Uomaa in encirclement battles, where the outfit polished off the unfortunate damage to their shield.

The Rgt CO, Jaeger Col. Aarne Rafael Sainio was posted to a desk job in the Civil Guard .Tr.rem .
(2205 words)

JR 36 War diary extract, edited by Col. A. Pajari, dated 27.3.1940

30.11.1939
Orders by 12.D. received on shifting III Btn from Loimola to Piitsoinoja defensive positions, relieving I Btn. Forwarded to III Btn CO.
1.12.1939
RgtHQ still in Loimola. III Btn received the Piitsoinoja positions by 1150hrs, 2 platoons sent to Kotajärvi to prepare for the annihilation of Kotajärvi village.
18.45hrs
Kotajärvi field stronghold received orders to send Border Guards immediately to the III Btn HQ where they received the special task of torching Kivijärvi village.
22.00hrs
Rgt Admin Coy leaders and II Btn started moving to Näätäoja where Esik.K arrived on 2.12. at 0200hrs and II Btn 0530hrs.
23.00hrs
Rgt CO received orders by 12.D HQ reconnoitring order to reconnoitre the Suvilahti -Hautavaara road SE of Iso-Pyhäjärvi and from Kotajärvi to Niskusvaara.
2.12.1939
01.00hrs
Rgt CO arrived at the III Btn C.P. And forwarded the said recon order to III Btn CO.
05.30hrs
II Btn arrived (less two Platoons) who were assigned as defence sector the terrain N of the road (ref. Appendix, a transparent). I/KTR12 was subordinated to the Rgt. The day was spent in preparation for defence
03.12.1939
00.00hrs
Rgt CO received the 12.D order on launching an attack at Liete and Suvilahti and with some force (9.K) from Kotajärvi village to Niskusvaara and take it.
04.45-06.00hrs Rgt CO issued spoken orders on preparing for an attack according to the 12.D order to II and III Btn CO s.
08.00hrs
Rgt marching order.
09.00hrs
As ordered JR36 set out on the Piitsoinoja -Suvilahti road. Immediately a III Btn patrol drew fire some 200 to 300m E of the Papero rwy stop .
09.20hrs
9.K at Kotajärvi was ordered to attack Niskusvaara village, take it and then torch the village.
11.00hrs
By this hour III Btn had reached the hill W of the Iso-Naistenjärvi brook line where I P had withdrawn the day before from Suvilahti and was resting. Secured by one Platoon of 5.K on the Multina hill and 7.K on the said brook line.
12.20hrs
Rgt CO issued the attack order, which included the following:
“III Btn shall attack on the right wing, right limit Loimola -Suojärvi railway, left limit Loimola -Liete road up to the bend to North -from there on to Saha, the objective being the crossroads Suvilahti -Hautavaara and Suvilahti -Kaipaa.
II Btn shall attack on the left wing, right limit III Btn left limit, left limit the river, objective Liettee crossroads.
I Btn as the Rgt reserve, following at 600m in the direction of the Loimola -Liete road.
3./KTR12 and 7./KTR12 shall support the attack as the support batteries of the front line batteries.
H Hour at 1300hrs.
My C.P. Shall follow the reserve.”
The attack was delayed from the ordered hour because II Btn had to get skis from I Btn on the hill W of Iso-Naistenjärvi isthmus.
13.15hrs
Rgt attack was launched by III Btn. II Btn attack was still delayed due to distribution of skis and finally did not happen at all, except 6.K later because at 1335hrs there was a tank alert. Enemy tanks were spotted on the road E of the Iso-Naistenjärvi brook line. At the same hour the Iso-Naistenjärvi brook bridge was blown up to deny the enemy tank attack.
13.40hrs
I Btn took defensive positions by manning the hill up to the railway because the Btn CO was not informed on the situation (III Btn attack)
13.45hrs
7.K attack bumped at enemy tanks.
14.10hrs
III Btn found that there were at least 20 tanks and more. Simultaneously III Btn was fighting to take the Maltina terrain. 9.K still at Kotajärvi.
14.15hrs
I Btn defence set up. At the same time AT platoon Karlsson arrived at the positions on a hill at the road and opened up at the tanks on the far side of the brook. At that moment II Btn (less 6.K) was some 300m to the rear immediately N of the road.
6.K managed to launch their attack at the same time and continued it up to Iso-Naistenjärvi brook where they had to stop due to tank and mortar fire. The attack took place N of the Piitsoinoja -Maltina road. 6.K managed, after regrouping, to continue their attack managing to get as far as the terrain W of Liete and patrolling up to the Annantehdas road.
The rest of the II Btn never managed to go over the top because of the tank alert from the road.'
14.30hrs
Rgt CO issued order to 5.K to advance according to the Div.CO plan to Kotajärvi to helo 9.K to withdraw. At the same time 7.K and 8.K had managed to advance next to the houses at the road, situated some 1km ENE of the Maltina hill in the direction of the road. They were stopped there by tanks firing. The Companies found themselves between the road and railway, 8.K on the right.
17.00hrs
Rgt CO issued spoken orders to Btn CO s to disengage and pull back to the defensive positions at Piitsoinoja. The withdrawal was ordered by the Rgt CO to be started by II and III Btns while I P remained in their actual positions to receive the withdrawal and after that pull back fighting delaying action behind the Piitsoinoja defence line.
18.00hrs
III Btn CO had relayed the counter-order to the attention of the concerned outfits which immediately pulled back from their positions in the directions of the railway and then on to the rear.
18.30hrs
Baggage trains withdrawing on the road raised an unwarranted tank alert which launched a panic.
22.00hrs
II Btn found themselves in the Piitsoinoja defence positions except 6.K who had not received the disengaging order in time. Also a part of 5.K sent to the direction of Kotajärvi still on their way to Piitsoinoja.
24.00hrs
III Btn had arrived at the Piitsoinoja defence positions except 9.K who was still engaged in heavy fighting with the enemy at Kotajärvi, their attack to Minkusvaara village had been stalled due to the pressure of the superior enemy.
4.12.1939
01.00hrs
Rgt HQ at Näätäoja in the previous location.
06.45hrs
I Btn returned from the Liete -Suvilahti terrain to Piitsoinoja and was ordered to man the second line of the Piitsoinoja defence line.
07.30-08.00hrs
Enemy harassment shelling, without effect.
08.00hrs
I Btn started positions reconnoitring.
09.30hrs
I Btn positions recon completed.
09.40hrs
Artillery subordinated to Rgt opened fire against spotted enemy artillery positions.
09.45hrs
7.K report arrived: Enemy column had arrived at the Papero rwy stop crossroads.
10.15hrs
Our armoured train set out from Piitsoinoja rwy stop for Papero. The train opened fire at 1020hrs.
10.35hrs
5.K reported: Three enemy platoons seen at Papero rwy stop, to the right of the road.
10.45hrs
The armoured train was ordered to proceed and shell Papero. Departure at 10.45 and shooting started 10.55hrs
10.59hrs
The armoured train returned and reported having fired 10 shells at Papero. They hit firm ground.
11.00hrs
I Btn has manned their positions.
11.26hrs
Our artillery opened up. Shelling went on during the day causing destruction among the enemy (report from the front line).
11.30hrs
Undirected enemy shelling.
11.54hrs
Likewise.
13.03hrs
Intense enemy MG , LMG, rifle fire on the III Btn sector.
13.30hrs
Report received: two enemy tanks about 500m to Suojärvi at the Kivijärvi crossroads. Relayed to the F.O.O.
13.45hrs
Report: 9.K had arrived at Näätäoja from Kotajärvi. The Coy was subordinated to I Btn.
14.03hrs
F.O.O. Spotted considerable movement between the Suojärvi -Loimola road and railway line into the direction of the railway.
14.13hrs
III Btn requested support by the armoured train, forwarded to 12.D. HQ.
14.30hrs
III Btn CO report: Enemy is about to break in between the railway and the road, requesting one Company for support.
I Btn was ordered to send two MG s to reinforce the front line.
14.50hrs
F.O.O. Reported that four enemy tanks had been destroyed.
15.05hrs
Report: 8.K is retreating in panic and has been joined by some staff Coys stationed at the road, they are blocking the road. 8.K was stopped and ordered to return to their positions Also I Btn was ordered to prevent the withdrawal of our troops because no enemy breakthrough was expected.
15.10hrs
Battery Penttinen left their positions due to the withdrawal of 8.K. Rgt CO does not know who issued the order. The Battery was ordered to retake their positions Also Battery Salojärvi started retreating but having reassessed the situation returned to their positions
The panic has been reported to 12.D HQ.
15.30hrs
Battery Penttinen again in their positions (report received). At the same hour the supply columns had been moved to the rear of their locations.
15.40hrs
I Btn was ordered to send 3.K to support III Btn (the Coy consisted of 2 Platoons only)
16.15hrs
Enemy had penetrated up to the hindrances between the road and the railway. Exchange of fire that had ceased in the meanwhile restarted for a few minutes.
At this time 6.K arrived at the II Btn defence sector, tired, having attacked in the direction of Liete. The outfit was ordered in the Btn reserve.
16.38hrs
Exchange of fire restarted.
16.40hrs
Deputy of AT platoon Rokkila reported that the Platoon CO had been wounded and at least two AT guns had been lost to the enemy. The fate of AT platoon Karlsson unclear.
16.45hrs
Lt. Virkkunen reported having arrived with his Coy. At first they were ordered to R&R but later subordinated to I Btn and ordered to reconnoitre and prepare to man the rear delay line.
17.00hrs
8.K CO Lt. Tuhkanen reported: he had attacked to Piitsoinoja village to regain his old positions but he had encountered such fire that he had been forced to retreat again.
17.30hrs
Firing ceased altogether. Connection to the Batteries cut off. When inquired about the chances for a counterstrike II Btn CO reported that Piitsoinoja village was not a feasible objective since it was dark, the terrain mostly unfamiliar and he only had one understrength Company at his disposal.
7.K still in positions, as well as III Btn HQ. At the same hour among the supply train the men started yelling “tanks are coming” and the road was soon a jam of vehicles. Since the jam could not be cleared up, the baggage trains were sent beyond Kollaanjoki river using the Piitsoinoja -Loimola road. 12.D HQ was informed about the panic and the development of the situation.
18.15hrs
Rgt CO ordered I Btn CO to make up a plan of delaying action for his Btn (including 9.K) and help II and III Btns to pull back behind the Kollaanjoki line. Permission to delay granted by 12.D CO.
18.30hrs
II and III Btns were ordered to retreat through the I Btn delay line to the W side of Kollaanjoki. III Btn was to see to it that II Btn shall be able to disengage. Yet II Btn was not able to disengage fully since the enemy had already cut off the road from the Btn sector to the road, consequently the Btn had to disperse and retreat through forest in small groups .
19.00hrs
Rgt CO issued orders to the Rgt admin and supply outfits to move W of Kollaanjoki.
19.10hrs
Rgt telephone connection severed.
19.20hrs
Rgt HQ started moving to the new C.P. W of Kollaanjoki. On the road Piitsoinoja -Loimola there was an uninterrupted file of vehicles which were ordered to continue to the new Rgt bivouac on the Suovanjärvi -Loimolanjärvi isthmus. On the road were also encountered separate groups of men from various Companies, who had lost their way and exhausted. For example several men were found lying on the road, some asleep, some fainted.
21.30hrs
Rgt CO received written order by 12.D HQ to shift the Regiment on the Suovanjärvi -Loimolanjärvi isthmus, to group for defence in the positions built on the isthmus .
22.30hrs
III Btn HQ moved to the C.P. And in the last possible moment boarded the Armoured train that took them to West. The Btn moved to Loimola where also their stragglers encountered on the road were ordered to go.
5.12.1939
01.00hrs
AT Platoon CO Karlsson had arrived in the temporary Rgt C.P. In the Forest Warden's house 1 km N of the Suovanjärvi crossroads. He reported that the shelling of the enemy had caused great destruction among the enemy attacking in the direction of the Papero road. The enemy had had tanks and their infantry was advancing in closed formations on the road Papero -Piitsoinoja.'
02.30hrs
I Btn abandoned the first delaying position and immediately thereafter the second one. The brook bridge at Piitsoinoja and the railway bridge at Näätäoja were blown up. The houses in Näätäoja were burnt down.
09.00hrs
I Btn arrived at the new bivouac on the Suovanjärvi -Loimolanjärvi isthmus. Part of 3.K were missing.
10.00hrs
II Btn arrived almost completely at the new bivouac W of Suovanjärvi. Some outfits had arrived in the previous night.
14.00hrs
Rgt HQ moved to the new C.P. in the Forest Warden's house 1 km N of the Suovanjärvi crossroads (snip) securing with one Squad the path to N which direction was reconnoitred up to 5km.
17.00hrs
Rgt HQ and the Rgt Admin Coy had completely moved in the new location.
(End of day)
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Lotvonen
Member
Posts: 778
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 10 Feb 2021 06:08

Kaarlo Erho

Shell hit in a MG nest in Summa

Journal “Kansa Taisteli”, 06, 1962

Motto of front line Finnish soldiers was “We shall not abandon our pal” . It was even written in a Soviet training manual that “Finns try fanatically to save their wounded and dead.” (ref.?)
The incident described below must have happened during the Soviet offensive in February 1940. The author has chosen not to identify his outfit but it can be deduced
.

As a result of several days of shelling in Summa during the Winter War a shocking incident took place on the sector of our Company, called “Lukko”. A largish projectile hit our MG nest just at the moment of sentry relief. The entire timber framed structure was blown to pieces and four men inside fell and several were badly wounded. The worst was that the MG Squad leader Cpl. Reino Kanerva was stuck under collapsed roof logs and was unable to extricate himself. The survivors were very shocked because they were not able to help their Corporal.

Stunned by the accident they recounted the incident having saved themselves to the other men and everyone of them was convinced that Kanerva was still alive even though badly wounded. Consequently 2nd Lt. Vasenius with two men set out for the weapons nest to save the man in trouble.

The enemy, however, appeared to have guessed this because the entire collapsed weapons nest area was under such a heavy fire that trying to get in it would have equalled to a suicide. After a couple of failed attempts the Lieut gave up.

A little later one of the men who had been in the rescue attempt arrived in our dugout to tell about the case. He mentioned that Kanerva had shouted after them : “Tell Kalle to come and save me!” Since Kanerva was one of the family of one of my good friends I felt it was my duty to go and try to save the boy from his predicament if it only would somehow possible

Pvt. Salonen agreed to join me in my attempt, he was better known in the Company as “ Jussi Sinkki”. He was an original man, shapen by several patrol missions, you could have said he was foolhardy, he hardly knew what “fear” meant. I could not have found a better companion anywhere, so I started this seemingly impossible attempt with confidence.

We left behind all extra gear that could slow us down, and we would not need any weapons. The enemy was still firing at the ruin area with mortars and AT guns. The fire appeared to be sparse but it was concentrated at the collapsed weapons nest.

We started our approach each from our quarter, dashing from one shell hole to the next, immediately crouching in the bottom of the hole to wait for a chance for the next dash. Salonen had already made it next to the ruin as the enemy MG s also opened up and the mortar and AT gun fire was intensified to a maximum. Yet we kept going on even though our dashes were shorter each time because MG jets were incessantly sweeping the ground that had been ploughed black.

I saw Salonen roll himself over the first pell-mell logs but the same moment the MG fire was hitting the same spot, so that I imagined it was the end for my pal there and then. Having observed from my hole at the haphazard group of logs where I had seen Salonen vanish I saw him move among the timbers so I knew he was alive.

I tried to shout Salonen not to move before I would dash again, because I believed that the enemy would shift their attention to me and he would get a chance to move closer to our objective. There was a good hole just a couple of meters off where I could find cover. Salonen however did not hear my shout because he bounced just the same moment over a log closer to our man to be saved, now we both found ourselves just a few steps from the ruin of the weapons nest.

The enemy had once and for all decided to prevent any attempts to save Kanerva because in front of us, or actually between the ruin and us several auto weapons bullet jets were being sent, creating a continuous bursting of muddy earth around the place of the accident. Now we had to admit ourselves that not even a cat could pass the barrage of bullets, let alone a man.

We called Kanerva's name but there was no response from the ruin. So we deduced that he had found the end of his journey in his shot up weapons nest.

Return to our trench also appeared to be impossible because all about us there was crackling, banging and flying earth, it made no difference in any direction. But we could not stay there for any longer time. Moreover my pal was in a worse position than I was because enemy MG s were able to cover completely the side where he found himself. I managed to get away by rolling myself from one shell-hole to another but I had to withdraw quite far back before finding a spot where to start creeping decently. I have no idea how Salonen managed to extricate himself from his risky position but he arrived at the dugout almost at the same time as I, just as wet and muddy as I was.

Those who had watched our attempt from a distance told us that our survival and return was nothing short of a miracle.

Our attempt was the last one because our Company CO denied any further rescue attempt because it was not likely that there was anyone alive in the collapsed weapons nest.

KIA database:
Kanerva, Reino Maurits Sakari, Cpl.
Born 19.11.1916 in Turku
KIA 14.02.1940 3.KS age 23yrs
Outfit 2.KKK/II/JR8
Buried in Rauma, old cemetry

This implies that Cpl. Kanerva was rescued after the onset of darkness and he died in a field hospital of his wounds.

JR8, II Battalion war diary has survived , entry for 14th February 1940:

14.2.1940
06.00hrs
Fighting for “Lyly” positions has been going on all night. By morning they remained in our hands.
09.15hrs
Heavy enemy shelling against our positions started.
09.30hrs
Sapper Coy assembled at “Maito”
09.30hrs
A surrendered Russki Lieut sent to the Division.
09.45hrs
Enemy attack against “Lyly” started
09.55hrs
“Lukko” reporting that the enemy is attacking against our positions.
10.40hrs
“Lukko” reporting that the enemy attack has been beaten back.
11.15hrs
Our positions have been bombarded from air.
15.45hrs
“Lyly” reporting that the Russkies have again broken through. Russki is attacking with considerable forces.
16.30hrs
(5.K) Lehtonen's (?) Company has arrived at “Lyly”
16.40hrs
“Lyly” reporting that the Russkies are in our positions.
17.30hrs
“Lukko” reporting that a 30 man outfit is approaching the wire.
17.35hrs
The last reserve Company of II/JR15 has been sent to “Lyly”.
21.30hrs
“Lyly” reporting that they have retaken their positions.

All telephone connections have been down the entire day.
-Great number of casualties today.
Pesakesumma.jpg
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Lotvonen
Member
Posts: 778
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 14 Feb 2021 06:56

Tuovi Pasuri

Border Guards Battalion 2 fighting in Tali

Journal “Kansa Taisteli”, 06, 1962


Fighting delaying action RajaJP2 had withdrawn in the middle of June 1944 from Lempaala via Rautu -Kirjasalo -Valkjärvi to Äyräpää. We crossed Vuoksi river in landing boats on the 19th June. When landing we limped in the alder bushes of the river beach as we best could because several days of marching had resulted in blistered feet. It was specially the double quick march from Pasurinkangas to Salmenkaita that had made us suffer since that six km distance had to be covered in running pace along the road ditches under enemy shelling. This had been our reward for delaying the enemy four hours South of Vuoksi on the Korpioja-Marjaniemi line, warding off several hard attacks, some of them supported by tanks.

It was with pleasure that we learned our First Border Company was billeted in Taljala village in Vuoksenranta. Having arrived in the village our CO Capt. Bruno F. Tiainen issued orders to warm up the village saunas. For security we set up our tents in the forest and slept there.

Now we had time to rest and maintain our gear. We were living among pots of meat. There were abandoned calves and sheep running about in the pastures, we butchered some for snacks while our supply men saw to it that the pigs of the village were processed through the field kitchen for the benefit of the entire Company. Even the handsome Taljala Cattle Co-Op bull had to make the supreme sacrifice for the Fatherland.

We stayed in rest until the 25th June, but then the leaf was turned. The Battalion was issued with bicycles and our march for Ihantala started. The next day, 26th, we found ourselves in Ihantala taking cover in the terrain next to the road. We were waiting for orders to move to the jump-off positions.

Constant noise of battle was emerging from the front line. Aircraft were milling around overhead. There were burning planes diving down and airmen dangling from their parachutes. Stukas would dive down from the sky in a file, drop their bombs and at treetops pull up with engines howling. It did not improve our morale what there could be seen on the road: wounded men, dirty, bearded, bandaged men on lorries, horse carts and walking. Staring at the road made me think of matters of eternity seriously.

The day was spent in preparing and organising for the attack from the terrain at the Ihantala -Talinmylly road in the direction of Leitimojärvi.. Due to the circumstances our battalion did not launch the attack on the 26th.

On the 27th June at 1400hrs we had moved to the jump-off positions at Nurmilampi. The Company CO issued his orders:
“H Hour at 1430hrs. Our task is to take the forested hill on the far side of the open ground ahead of us , that is Pt.33. The 2nd Coy shall attack on the right wing. Artillery and heavy mortars shall fire a strike, then it will be our turn.”

The brief fire preparation was followed by our attack at 1430hrs. We dashed on the field. I managed to glance at my sides. All I saw was Finnish men in field grey. What a grand sight it was ! We managed to run undisturbed up to the middle of the 300m wide open ground. But there the enemy opened up and our advance stalled. We started digging in. I happened to find myself in a rye field. I thought that at least I was out of the enemy sight. The very same moment a jet of bullets cut overhead. Rye ears were falling on me. My field spade was a treasure now in my opinion. How greedily did I shovel the soft earth into a mound between me and the enemy. At the same time I placed a box of ammunition on top of the embrasure. As soon as I had managed to dig some kind of foxhole there was an order to proceed.

Lt. Väänänen and his platoon had managed to advance in a tongue of forest sticking in the field up to assault range and charged into the enemy positions We bounced up and dashed on screaming madly “Hakkaa päälle” and as if by miracle our platoon made it across without casualties. One of the reasons of our success was the fact that the enemy, in position on a high hill, had to fire at us as single targets. What kind of casualties would we have suffered if the six MG s that our Company took could have fired a level barrage. In the rush of victory we continued the pursuit until somewhere in our flank the attack stalled due to enemy resistance, and it was not advisable for us in the centre to advance. Again we grabbed our spades and started digging holes.

Enemy was beating the terrain with their artillery. Moss was flying and tree branches falling due to jets of bullets, and we were not able to avoid casualties. Every now and then a piece of bad news would travel down the line from one foxhole to another, recounting of a brother in arms falling, while the battle went on until evening. Each casualty was felt as a stab in chest, since in the days of the trench warfare we had learned to know each other enough to feel deeply for every one of us. We knew much about each others' family and home and now men were carried in the rear in the cover of fir trees.

June 28th became a show indeed. Artillery was beating the terrain constantly. Ground attack planes were strafing our positions, we would attack or repel attacks. At one point we handed over our positions to an infantry Regiment Company. We changed our direction and kept attacking until the stretcher bearers carrying the wounded found that the road to the rear was cut off. The front of the Company that had taken over after us had been broken and they had withdrawn four kilometre. No retreat order had reached us, we found that we were surrounded. Then our Officer Tiainen gave us a compass bearing and defined the H Hour. At that moment we had 106 men in the ranks, our Company had paid dearly by this hour already.

After a weak fire preparation with infantry weapons we charged against the enemy positions. When in assault range some men in the positions in front of us started yelling_
-Do not shoot, we are friends over here!

Finally we understood what they were saying and stopped shooting. The same moment the “friends” opened up and this cost the life of many a border guard. Our Officer Tiainen started yelling terribly:
-Forward! Get them!
We bounced up and charged like creatures from Hell. Nothing could hold us down. The enemy line broke in front of us. They started fleeing like a flock of sheep.

Then we found ourselves on a field and many of us fell on the edge of it. In the melee our Company was scattered. Some of us ran across the field while the rest took cover in a patch of forest in the field. I was in the latter group, there were 19 of us including two badly and two slightly wounded men. Lt. Järvinen was the only officer in our outfit.

We secured the patch of forest, bandaged the wounded and sent two men creeping across the open ground toward the forest. Having found that the forest was free from enemies, they signalled us and so our outfit vanished in the forest. Next we decided to find a gap in the enemy line. Our march proceeded through low leaf forest used as cattle pasture. I was the scout and the Lieut followed me a few meters behind. We had to stoop constantly to dodge hanging branches. When I looked up having dodged a branch there was a three man enemy patrol standing in front of me, all three SMG s pointing at me. The meeting was a mutual surprise. We kept staring at each other for a fleeting second. Still today I cannot explain how my rifle went off. In a blink of an eye the patrol bounced in the forest. I worked the bolt -the magazine was empty. It was only then that I remembered having taken a fallen enemy's rifle as I had run out of SMG ammo. It can only be speculated what would have happened if the enemies had taken the initiative !
-What are you doing there ? Someone behind us asked.
-Accidental discharge, the Lieut responded.

So we continued our journey as if nothing had happened and soon we almost barged into an enemy bivouac. As the dense leaf forest ended there was a slope growing pine trees with tents erected among them and men milling about like ants. Fortunate they did not spot us.

We changed course tight to the right. Having erred some time we arrived at another small field. There we watched and spotted manning on the far side. We decided to bypass the field in the forest and then storm through. But Sr.Sgt. Tani using his binoculars spotted a Finnish Corporal's lapel through a fence. We had a good look and finally decided to enquire who was on the far side of the field.

Lt. Järvinen shouted:
-Who is there?
-Friends! Was the answer.
-Show yourselves!.
-We don't, you do!
-We won't! Järvinen shouted.
-If you are friends, just come here!
-We are friends, several men in the firing line shouted.
We were convinced now. We cheered and run on the field and to our side.

The wounded men were evacuated, we were fed and were allowed to sleep some 30m off behind a big boulder.

Having slept three hours I woke up when being shaken. It was reveille for our entire outfit, now down to 15 men.
-Look boys, there is an order for a Border Jaeger patrol, Lt. Järvinen explained.
-The task is to check that hill and observe the traffic on that road.
He pointed them out on a map.
-What – we just came from there, someone commented.
-True enough, but I tried to explain that we had been fighting for two days and nights without sleep and food but the order was given by a gent with a big button on his lapel. I won't order anyone but I need five men, and I am number one, Järvinen said.
-Count me as number two, I said, half asleep.

Enough volunteers were found, we were given SMG s, we filled magazines and headed for no-man's land. Our mission was a success and we returned without mishap having fulfilled our task.

June 29th evening we had to retreat. We joined our Company, the strength of which was then 29 men. Again Capt. Tiainen was leading his Jaegers. Fighting was raging heavy. Enemy was sending out more of their tanks. The few German StuG s were overwhelmed although the AT men of our Company were working hard, destroying more than ten T34s. One of our AT men, PFC Ville Väisänen, scored eight enemy tanks that day. For his accomplishment he was decorated with the Mannerheim Cross but he was a MIA the same evening.

Finally we were ordered to pull back for R&R and we found ourselves some 300m behind our lines as the men in the line were afflicted by tank panic since some ten enemy tanks were cruising about in the positions. Running madly they caught up our small outfit. We continued all together in the rear.

By this stage every Officer of our company were wounded except Lt. Järvinen. I had bandaged Capt. Tiainen's head just before we pulled out. Then on the road, in front of the fleeing crowd, jumped a Major yelling at full volume:
-Where the hell do you think you are going? Get back in the firing line, all of you! There are but a few tanks and some odd men among them. Get going now!
-Are you an officer ? The Major asked Järvinen, who had stripped off his officer's insignia when we were surrounded but had retained his officer belt.
-I am a Lieut. Major, sir.
-Where do you think you were going?
-Major. Sir, we were ordered to get some rest. We have been fighting for three days and nights in one go.
-Which outfit?
-Border Guards, Major, Sir.
-What is the strength of your Company ?
-Six men, Major, sir, said Järvinen, pointing at us.
-And who was it that allowed you to leave?
- He was a Colonel who was in the firing line.
-I daresay he did but now orders are not given by a Colonel but by a General [Lagus] who is over there, said the Major and vifted his pistol at the edge of the forest.
-Just get in the firing line now everyone of you! I shall let you know when you are allowed to get some rest.

During the discussion between the Major and Lt. Järvinen a big group of men had assembled there and everyone turned back, the Border Jaegers included. They manned the foxholes that they had abandoned for a while ago. Also the enemy stopped attacking for a while.

Four hours later the Major's runner came along the rear of the firing line and kept calling out:
-where are the Border Jaeger company men? You are allowed to get some rest!
Six tired men climbed out of their foxholes and started slogging down the road to Kilpeenjoki. Rested troops were coming in the opposite direction. There was a warm sunshine. Enemy artillery was in action. It was an iron fist beating at the gates of our Fatherland at Ihantala.

No relevant war diaries have survived, which is understandable.

On the 29.June 1.K casualties comprised 10 KIA , 10 WIA, 2.K 4 KIA, 6 WIA, 3.K 2 KIA and 14 WIA. RajaJP2 lost that day 5 officers and 36 other ranks.

At Ihantala the Battalion C.C.S evacuated 15 officers and 145 other ranks. More WIA had been evacuated by other C.C.S.
Pasuri.jpg
RajaJP2 9.6.–19.09.1944
At Lempaala and Raasuli as the III AC reserve 9.–15. 6.
Delaying action from Kirjasalo to Valkjärvi subordinated to 18.D 16.–17. 6.
16.6. 30 minute AT training session for new German recoilless AT weapons
Fighting in defence at Pasurinkangas on the flank of 2.D 17.–18.6.
III AC reserve at Vuoksi 19.–25. 6.
Bike march to Ihantala on the night of 25.–26.6.
Fighting at Ihantala subordinated to Ps.D. 26.–29. 6.
At Seitsola in IV AC reserve 30.6.–9.7.
III AC reserve at Vuosalmi 9.7.–10.8.
Trench war subordinated to 15.D at Kiviniemi12.8.–19.9.
Source: Website “Sotatie””
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Lotvonen
Member
Posts: 778
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 21 Feb 2021 07:04

V. Karvinen

Last battle of Saarenpää superheavy battery

Journal “Kansa Taisteli” 06, 1962

The author refers to Fort Saarenpää which name was used during the Winter War. In 1944 the battery was called 25.Jär.Ptri.

The author was involved in the action of the coastal artillery in Koivisto during the enemy offensive in June 1944.

Among the military serving in our coastal artillery during WW2 there was an argument concerning the new 360º (6000') reinforced concrete gun positions as to their efficiency against aerial attacks. There were differing views and specially the 254/45-D circular gun pit was considered too easy a target for dive bombing due to its size.

When visiting on the 19th June 1944 PM the fort command centre in Saarenpää village I unwillingly had to witness the action of Soviet ground attack a/c (IL-2) against the Saarenpää superheavy battery. The said battery had during the day constantly shelled the enemy landing craft assembling in Humaljoenlahti bay and also in general targets spotted in the terrains of Koivisto town and Penttilä village. The fort fire must have been effective since it provoked the quite heavy aerial activity by the enemy, aiming most likely to wipe out the battery once and for all.

The ground attack a/c attacked always in three ship patrols, flying along the arc of the superheavy
gun pits, then manoeuvred into a file and diving to 300 to 400m dropped their bombs at the battery. The dives were repeated with 5 to 10 minute intervals and the raid lasted some three hours. Since Finnish a/c were not available and the superheavy battery did not have any dedicated AA guns the enemy action appeared to be like a peace time bombing training. The battery terrain was just a chaos -bomb holes, broken trees, fallen telephone wires etc.

As the air raid finally ended it was found that one 254/45-D gun pit out of six had taken a bullseye hit, the propellant charges in the gun pit had exploded and destroyed the gun and its crew. The other guns were not put out of action and the loss mentioned was in my opinion mostly due to the fact that in lack of A/A defence the enemy was able to continue their raid for hours.

The superheavy battery of Saarenpää that had so honourably withstood the Winter war and had fought historical duels with Soviet battleships fought to the very end in a manner worth of the fame of these ancient guns. As the enemy attack on the mainland had advanced N of Koivisto town the Russians carried out a crossing of Koivistonsalmi strait in the small hours of the 21st June from Härkälä to Piisaari, at the Northern half at the dock. Our troops were pushed to the lake isthmus in the middle of Piisaari and an outfit of some 20 men had to retreat to N to Alvatinniemi. The telephone cable connection from the Regiment C.P. At Eistilä village to Säkkijärvi was led through Alvatti which meant that we could communicate with the outfit manning it.

During the 21st June AM the Russians attempted to send more troops from Härkälä to Piisaari and more and more landing vessels were arriving from South to the beachhead of Härkälä. The superheavy battery of Saarenpää was ordered to shell the Härkälä beachhead. Fire control was taken over by a specialist, Major Timo Pesonen who with the pretext of a dispatch officer had managed to slip from the Naval Force HQ to Koivisto islands where he had fought during the Winter War.

This was the final battle of Fort Saarenpää. The shelling was directed in the Regiment C.P. In Eistilä village in one shot through shack of a house in quite an extraordinary manner. Maj. Pesonen had a telephone contact with a sentry in Alvatti who described the scene at the Härkälä beachhead in a rustic manner.

On his other hand Pesonen had another phone handset with a weak field cable connection to the superheavy battery. That was all he had, no map or anything, just a pencil and a discarded cig carton he had found on the dirty floor.
Superheavy battery fired and the sentry in Alvatti reports:
“That went in the sea and a heck of a lot to the left.”
Pesonen orders:
“Right 20, decrease 100, two volleys, shoot!”
Alvatti:
“Explosions in the forest, a bit to the right.”
Pesonen:
“Left 10, increase 200, two volleys, shoot!”
Alvatti:
“Hell, that went home!”
Pesonen:
“ Four volleys, fire!”

In this manner the shelling went on with effective results for a longer time. Blocking the Russian troop increase in Piisaari which made it possible to check the enemy attack at the lake isthmus.
Finally the battery reported that they were running out of ammunition. Maj. Pesonen then sent his last fire order and a final order:
“With the last shells throw sand in the barrels and make the trigger rope long enough.”

In such a honourable manner ended the career of the Saarenpää superheavy battery, which had played a remarkable part in the history of Finnish coastal artillery.

Koivisto islands were evacuated in the Midsummer evening of 1944. The entire “Yellow Regiment” had to embark on vessels at Lupinlahti on the W shore of Tiurinsaari island. German landing craft (Marinefährprahm] took on most of the troops and equipment, there was just one narrow jetty with room for one landing craft at a time. The entire jetty area was full of troops, material and other stuff that the retreating troops had dragged along. There were also loose horses and two sheep. As another German landing craft arrived at the jetty, two seamen with SMGs jumped on the jetty and vanished in the bushes. Soon two brief SMG bursts rang out and after that the Germans returned, each carrying a sheep in its death throes. Despite the urgency of the embarkation and loading the Germans could not let pass a chance to “besorgen” that was so characteristic to them.

Midsummer day dawn broke and the fairly wind-still Baltic was covered with some haze and bitter smelling smoke of forest fires. It was our good fortune that the Russians had employed their air force in the direction of lake Ladoga and our flotilla was allowed to proceed from the islands to new tasks on the mainland.

The evacuation flotilla arrived at Hamina.
Koivisto-1.jpg
I/RTR2 battle report 16 to 22 June 1944 tells a bit different story:

27.6.44
2/FR/FR
I/RTR2 battle report 16 to 22 June 1944

Enemy:
Enemy broke through the defence at the Muurila isthmus on 17th June 2300hrs due to deploying tremendous artillery and tanks. Enemy was delayed at the Humaljoki line from where they managed to break through on 18 June in small hours to the direction of Koivisto. On the 17th June starting at 1500hrs enemy artillery (5”) started shelling Saarenpää from the mainland at Muurila while Pe-2 and Il-2 a/c started raiding the same targets and Saarenpää village, more intensely day after day.
Enemy naval forces, including Moskva class gunboats, motor torpedo boats, guard motor boats and mine-seekers fired from up to 47 vessels at Saarenpää.
Our troops:
RTR 2 , except I Art.Btn. On the mainland on the Rgt coastal sector in defence.
Main task:
To support with the heavy and superheavy battery the fighting infantry and repel any landing attempts on the Koivisto islands. Also to prevent enemy naval units to proceed up the Koivistonsalmi strait to the town, in co-operation with the land front weapons.

Sub-units' tasks:

I_13.TK in co-operation with 27.Rask.Ptri to repel any enemy landings at Tiuri and together with the I/207.Kev.Ptri stationed at Ruonti to block the enemy entrance to Viipurinlahti bay and also close the Partiala strait together with II/207.Kev.Ptri stationed at Ruonanniemi.
II_Supported by the fire of II/207.Kev.Ptri at Ruonanniemi, 209.Kev.Ptri at Putronhiekka, 12. TK and Verkaniemi stronghold, 25. Jär.Ptri, the Mortar Platoon and 25.Rask.Ptri to prevent and repel any landings on Koivusaari.
III_Verkaniemi stronghold, Kyrönniemi, Tammikko and Hirviniemi shall co-operate supported by the fire of 25.Jär.Ptri and 25.Rask.Ptri to block the entrance to Koivistonsalmi strait.

16.6.1944
21.00_to 24.00hrs
25.Rask.Ptri supported the land front battles with good success.
17.6.1944
Naval battle in the small hours at sea between Ruonti and Ristiniemi between our and enemy light surface vessels. Ruonti 75mm section fired 3 shots and by observations the enemy lost one torpedo boat (?).
06.00hrs
_25.Jär.Ptri and 25.Rask.Ptri fired at the land front, also twice that day the prevented an enemy flotilla of 47 vessels to move from Humaljoenlahti bay up the Koivistonsalmi strait to the direction of Koivisto.
15.00hrs
The first enemy shells (5”) from the mainland landed in the fortress area, without causing damage.
17.00hrs
The C.P. Was relocated to the Kuuppo farmhouse in the N side of Saarenpäänkylä village.
20.30hrs
The 2nd gun of 25.Rask.Ptri was damaged and became useless because the ordered spare parts did not fit.
17.6.1944
15.00hrs
Enemy launched aerial bombardment at the Saarenpää fort.
In the small hours the units of the Regiment had moved to the Koivisto islands.
The Regiment was split in four Battalions, the first of which was located in Koivusaari, area Kaukiaisenlahti-Suursuo-Kärpäsenlahti
Rgt HQ was set up in Eistilä.
17.00hrs
C.P. Was located to the Saarenpää village in Santamäki houses.
209.Kev.Ptri moved to field positions p=668695, i=42345
19.6.1944
00.45hrs
A 12 man enemy patrol (2+2+8) landed at Kärpäsenlahti with 3 inflatable boats. The patrol was taken out by 209.Kev.Ptri personnel aided by //207.Kev.Ptri and 25.Jär.Ptri patrols. The skirmishing on both sides of the wire obstacle on the waterfront took 3 ½ hrs , during which the enemies were destroyed except one Russki that managed to escape and hide in the attic of a house in Patala, where he was found on the 22th June during the haste of retreat. Our losses were limited to Lt. Kaasinen of 25.Jär.Ptri, KIA. War booty included three inflatable boats, a radio, 8 SMGs etc.
The deploying of our patrols was delayed by the fact that the Rgt Intel officer had trained the naval force air control post personnel to reporting to the message assembly centre where-after it was a case closed as to them. -As by pure chance the Battalion officer had been informed about this and the patrols were alerted, so late that the enemy had managed to land and bite into the rocky beach even though the Haukka air control post had detected the launching of the inflatables at 4km from the shoreline.
Due to the incident it was ordered that in case of observations calling for quick response the nearest outfit should be informed and after that the message centre
This backward reporting system and the problems due to it were reported to the Rgt CO.
16.00
Russki managed by aerial bombardment hit the gun pit of 25. Jär.Ptri no.1 gun whereby six men were KIA and 18 WIA with burns as the propellant charges were ignited.
22.30hrs
Our A/C bombed enemy vessels at the mouth of Humaljoenlahti bay. Our batteries joined in.
20.6.1944
18.00hrs
Maj. Miekkavaara was posted in the Battalion as the Btn Artillery CO, his C.P. In the fire control centre of 25.Ras.Ptri. Also the 27.Rask.Ptri at Tiuri was subordinated to him.
23.25hrs
A couple of our bombers raided the Humaljoenlahti bay and our batteries joined in.
21.6.1944
Just after midnight a six man Russki patrol rowed to the Putronhiekka beach. A patrol of 209.Kev.Ptri was present to receive them, our men sunk the boat 50m from the shore and saved from water a wounded Lieut and a Seaman who were sent with the first available lorry to Eistilä in the Rgt HQ.
08.00hrs
12men from 25.Rask.Ptri were posted to 209.Kev.Ptri.
08.00hrs
Unit CO s were briefed on the upcoming retreat: when (21.6.) how and where.
The entire Koivusaari was subordinated to I Battalions.
12.00hrs
12.TK disengaged and took positions on Huosiosmäki with one Platoon on the line Suurjärvi – Ruonanniemi. The rest of the Coy was subordinated to 25. Jär.Ptri.
12.00hrs
_25.Jär.Ptri having destroyed guns no. 2 and 3 disengaged to be the Rgt reserve in Eistilä, having arrived there they were immediately ordered to continue to Alvatti.
At the same time the 25.Jär.Ptri mortar platoon moved in the terrain 300m E of Pt.17.
19.00hrs
RE cancelled the disengaging and withdrawing order which cancellation was received so late that the 25.Jär.Ptri guns were disabled since 1200hrs and the 25.Rask.Ptri no.2 gun had been destroyed 1920hrs. One gun of the Hietaniemi AA section had been removed and the other one blown up, the quad MG at the Co-Op jetty had been destroyed as well as the 45mm AT guns, MG s and the Haukka observation position with all equipment.
Defence was now reorganised. 25.Rask.Ptri manned the “citadel”, one repaired AT gun was set up in Hietaniemi, the repaired 75mm section was set up in the Verkaniemi stronghold, one 45mm gun and one MG were placed at the Lehtiniemi jetty and one MG at Kuusikkoniemi. Haukka observation position was jury-rigged.
19.30hrs
25.Rask.Ptri gun no.1 was finally demolished, gun no.2 had been demolished already at 1920hrs.
22.6.1944
04.30hrs
One gun of 209.Kev.Ptri was placed at the Patala jetty in direct fire position.
11.00hrs
C.P. Moved to Eistilä.
16.30hrs
I/208.Kev.Ptri personnel started withdrawing from Verkaniemi.
18.15hrs
Entire 25.Rask.Ptri personnel started withdrawing from the battery area
18.30hrs
Entire fort had been evacuated.
19.15hrs
II/208.Kev.Ptri withdrew from Ruonanniemi.
20.00hrs
The outfit of 12.TK securing Huosiosmäki and Haukka observation post disengaged.

The evacuation of the equipment and the material was greatly hampered by the fact that all four available lorries on Koivusaari were out of order and the seven horses available had to be used, in accordance with the received orders, to evacuate petrol and paraffin containers and AA equipment which meant that most of the heavy inf. equipment had to be left behind.

During our entire battle 16.-22.6. the enemy shelled continuously from the mainland Verkaniemi, Revonmäki and the fort, the enemy ships at times the same objectives.

The enemy carried out aerial bombardment continuously from day to day from morning to evening with Pe-2 and Il-2 a/c, the last mentioned fired with their auto weapons. The intensity of the aerial bombardment can be illustrated by the fact that 25.Jär.Ptri area took more than 1000 bombs, 50 to 60 superheavy ones, and of the rest heavy and light 50/50. 25.Rask.Ptri area took a similar punishment with 600 to 700 heavy bombs and the rest light ones.

(snip)

Although the personnel morale was affected by the interruption of field mail, lack of tobacco for sale and the fact that the bodies of fallen comrades were not evacuated , the morale was maintained on a reasonable good level, thanks to the unit CO s whose demeanour was affirmative and exemplary and due to the supplies which were adequate.

Fortress area commander Maj. G. Strand (signed)
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Lotvonen
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Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 28 Feb 2021 06:13

Y. F. Kämäräinen

Crossing Sohjana river

“Kansa Taisteli” 06, 1962

The author does not for some reason identify his unit but it must have been 35. Rajakomppania. He appears to have been a Squad leader.

Our Guerilla outfit was assembled in Oulu. In the school for the deaf we were introduced to each other in June of 1941. Our band hailed mostly from Northern Finland. There were farmers from Liminka, Tyrnävä, Lumijoki, Siikajärvi and Revonlahti. There were forest workers, farm workers, sons of farmers, smallholders, shopkeepers and so on. I was posted as the deputy for the Platoon leader. I was a commander of some sort, I had been promoted from Private to Corporal. I was acquainted with the men who fought the war to the end with me unless they fell before that. Everyone, whether officer, NCO or Private was a Sissi. We could not guess that our war would be such a long and tough one as it was to be. Farmers were talking about making it to haymaking and us “Loggers” expected to be demobbed by the time the winter logging season would start, or thereabouts as hares start shedding their summer fur.

As the organizing and distribution of gear had been completed and we had had a few idle hours, a convoy of lorries drove up to the school yard. We were scheduled to move, for sure. We were opining this and that, some were sure. A lad from Lumijoki thought he knew.
-To the South, boys...we are going to be sent all the way to Helsinki. We shall be the Guards Battalion, boys. There are girls over there and the restaurants are open 24 hours. We shall do sentry duty there.

He was laughed at. Would sissis be sentries in the capital? What a folly. Any fool understood that. Troops armed with the best available weapons are not to be deployed as restaurant doormen. What nonsense, even offensive. Men of the North were needed in their home areas.

Some other place but not South, we soon enough were informed. When we embarked on the vehicles waiting for us we knew what our objective was. It was East. Soon we found ourselves on the Kuusamo road going full speed. Sun was as if pouring molten lead on us, the road dust tinged with horse manure scorched our throats, penetrated our eyes and skin. WE were sitting silent on the lorry beds and hoping for an early end to our ride because it was not a tourist journey. The distance from Oulu to Kuusamo is about 200 km and as to me I would have preferred to march the distance, so much I disliked the ride. In my forest worker days I had been used to walk even longer distances.

The Oulu-Kuusamo road was very military. There were dust-covered dispatch riders, all-terrain vehicles, transport columns and horse carts all of which ground the road surface into dust and made it rise in the blue sky. War-like atmosphere was increased by aircraft buzzing over the forests, this time they were friendly. They kept the enemy recon planes away.

My thoughts were lingering among my next of kin at home, from past to future. How is this going to end? I was young and my war experience next to none, actually. During the recent Winter War I had been a conscript...a recruit during the most critical period, that was the extent of my experience. So I was considering my chances in the future struggles, and I remembered the words of our CO that he once had uttered:
-A Sissi must be a good runner, good in shooting and good in finding cover. He does not have to be fearless as long as he is a good Sissi in other respects.

-Fine, I have undergone training, I am a NCO, I thought having dealt with my recollection.

The Sissis were on their way to war. Kuusamo, a familiar place, was getting closer. In the evening we were there, set up our tents and slept after the strains of our “tourist trip”. In Kuusamo we learned what was our objective: the border. Everyone's countenance turned serious and we were quiet. The Lumijoki lad sniffed the air in the direction of the border and grumbled to himself:
-There is definitely a smell...something is smouldering...mahorka tobacco.

He did not say another word about garrison duty in Helsinki. He sucked it up and tried to find out something else to entertain the men of his outfit. Our Platoon CO was very happy to have that wind beaten man in his outfit. Me, too, even though a SMG looked like a toy in the man's big hands. [July 1st 0230hrs. Tr.rem.] Our outfit, equipped with light weapons and being very mobile, trudged from Kuusamo to the national border. Death was lurking there: we understood that and experienced, too, when approaching the line. We were fired at, although not very much, thinking about it afterwards. It was our christening by fire, and I thought it was quite terrible but in the course of time one got used to it. The first casualties were also felt bitterly. Most of them were due to the minefields that the enemy had planted. There were plenty of mines and many kinds of them, from pipe bombs to bouncing mines (sic). The minefields were left behind to be dealt with by others. We did not have time for that. We bypassed the worst spots and continued our journey to Sohjananjoki river.

It was a slow process. We were engaging the enemy rear guard and every now and then had some rest in the cover of forests fighting the most bloodthirsty gnats. The terrain was very much like at home. The same pines, firs and bushes with the same birds as in our home trees. Everything felt strangely familiar, rocky hills, bogs, open grounds. The stumps of cut trees had been left quite high which I frowned upon as a professional. That proved us that we were abroad.
[Arrival at Sohnajanjoki 20th/21st July. tr.rem.]
The distance from the border to Sohjananjoki river is about 50 km. The river originates from lake Tuoppajärvi and flows into the White Sea. It is a typical Northern river, not very wide but quite fast flowing with rapids every now and then. Strong enemy positions including bunkers were on the far side. Arriving at it we received a fiery welcome in the form of an artillery strike but we were aware of the situation and dug emergency trenches, then started firing at invisible targets. More infantry came to support us. Also direct fire cannons were sent, to take out the bunkers. Several of them took direct hits in their narrow embrasures, the roof would puff up and the logs were left pointing up, without providing any more cover. Aircraft were also buzzing overhead. We could not always tell whether they were friends or foes. Now we were waiting quite eagerly for the order to cross the river.

Together with the Lumijoki lad I was watching the river flowing in front of us and the opposite side.
There was all kinds of rubbish floating on the river, wood splinters, branches, cones. The shells that had burst in the forest had thrown them in the water. I even spotted a couple of Russian field caps rising over the surface. The river was somewhat dirty.

The Lumijoki lad said:
-If we only had landing craft. We could get across in a jiffy. And smoke shells, too.
-That's right, I answered. Being the deputy Platoon leader I had to know a lot of military matters.
I kept watching the goings-on of the opposite shore, but there was next to nothing to see. There was a brief lull, maybe preceding a storm.

Suddenly my pal said:
-Heck, just look at that grass at the waterfront. There is something over there.
I took a look at the indicated direction. Indeed, there was something extraordinary. It was as if the tall grass would have swayed. There were also a couple of ends of logs sticking up.
-There is something. Let's give them some fire.
We fired some bursts. The grass was swayed by the jets of our bullets but we did not spot anything else.

Our bursts had broken the general silence. Shooting broke out, there was firing at every quarter. Even our AT gun started banging away at the opposite shore. The enemy retaliated.

Then we spotted something confirming that something out of ordinary existed in the grass. The grass rising from the river was vibrating oddly, as if under a constant strong current of air.
-There is a MG over there. They are firing at the bridge.

On our left, downstream, was a half demolished poor old bridge. The enemy obviously feared that we would make use of it when attempting to cross and in the cover of darkness they had dragged one of their MG s there. From their position they had a good field of fire over the water to the bridge structure. Now we understood what was going on. The enemy gunners were standing in water and fired their gun, mounted on logs, in the cover of the tall grass.
-I shall go and point out the target to the direct fire, wait here!
My pal crept away. I stayed there, waiting to see what he could accomplish.

After a while I heard a cannon shot, a shell whined and burst with a crack on the river bank above the target. The next one had the correct elevation but it was too much to the left. Another adjustment, and two shots in a sequence. Bullseye! The logs with the weapon and the men were flung about. Only mud remained, and the current started sweeping it away. The MG had been silenced.

Yet the enemy had other weapons, they had weapons nest, they had aircraft, they could launch shelling. It was almost three days until we managed to establish a bridgehead on the opposite bank. A lit of ammunition and German preserved food rations were consumed. We lost men, too, it was as if we would have been stuck there forever and it seemed hopeless to gain a bridgehead. There were no more dreams about haymaking at home in the minds of farmers and us forest workers believed that the war is not over in a good while.

(snip)
[Crossing of Sohnajanjoki on 31st July, tr.rem.]
It was a stalemate. We suffered casualties and had some successes,too. Several weapons nests on the opposite shore had been destroyed. But a lot of water had flowed in the Sohjananjoki river until we attacked the opposite shore, finally. After an artillery preparation we received orders_ across and forward! Some of us made us of the broken bridge. Upstream of it the river had brought all kind of debris including logs and pieces of them. The enemy side of the bridge was smashed because the enemy had tried to blow it up. But the jam of debris could be used for crossing, as loggers had learned when floating timber.

The rest crossed the river at the ford downstream from the bridge. They jumped from stone to stone and made it across. Some swum across. So we gained a sliver of terrain on the far side as our bridgehead that we started expanding violently. The trenches were taken by hand to hand fighting, bunkers were blown up with satchel charges. We had gained the upper hand, the crossing had been accomplished in about half an hour and we started pursuing the enemy immediately. The enemies who had surrendered were sent in the rear.

Then we had a break, smoking and sweating, discussing the crossing.
-If we have to do this kind of operation another time we must have smokescreen...
That made sense. Our casualties had been far from minimal. Some more river crossings and we would be out of men for the next one.

We headed deeper in the unfamiliar wilderness direction Kiestinki. The summer was in its peak and hottest. I halted my squad at a pond with the intent of having a refreshing dip. It came to nothing, however. Hardly had the first man dipped his toes as SMG fire, opened from the opposite shore, drove us away. We had been denied a swim, we were already in a bad mood for the extra marching. We headed hurriedly in the direction we had been fired at. We gave the pond a wide berth and and sneaked then to it, surprising four enemies behind some boulders. The men were obviously used to open ground. They had pointed their attention and weapons at the opposite side of the pond, unaware that there could be a threat in the rear. We took them POW and sent them in the rear.

We found our outfit and and the advance went on, with a whispering distance from man to man. We passed several abandoned bivouac areas. In one spot we found an abandoned field kitchen where some kind of soup was still simmering. Our lads checked with expertise the pot but did not fill their stomachs.
-Who knows if they have added some fox poison in it. It is better to be safe than sorry.
-I wish we had a dog, we could see if he would survive
-Or a cat, damn it. They would not eat that, I am telling you. Let us leave the soup alone. Unless you, Oulu, volunteer to be our test animal.

Oulu, that was my nickname. I declined the honour and ordered the soup to be dumped. I preferred to be cautious. Later we would eat several captured soups without testing first with animals, because experience or trust had convinced us that the enemy do not poison their soups. We did not do any such thing either. Later, during long range patrols, we would find food and ate it, but it was a different case with an abandoned field kitchen which might have been poisoned.

The steaming “Soup cannon” was tipped over and left there, with a delicious smell spreading about.

Suddenly a lively sound of light weapons emerged ahead. Our scouts had engaged. We ran there as fast as we could. Our Platoon CO was rallying his men. He said:
-Corporal Kämäräinen, take half of the platoon and envelope them from the right. I don't think there is more than a couple of squads. We shall surround them in an instruction book manner. We shall get some experience.

Bypassing and surrounding were quite unfamiliar operations for us. I willingly accepted the task while thinking about my chances. I and seventeen SMG gunners headed out to get in the rear of the outfit firing at us. They had not spread very far, maybe in a line of some 200m. We bypassed them and then turned in their rear. There we stopped to listen. Good. Now forwards!

We had not proceeded more than ten meters as weapons opened up behind us. There were enemies who were firing as if to scare us. We tried to creep into safety, fortunately the forest was quite dense. We kept creeping to the right and I was delighted to find all my men present.

My attempted encircling manoeuvrer was a dismal failure for me, but not for the others. The Platoon CO had heard our firing and immediately ordered an attack, and half a platoon stormed almost over the enemies to be surrounded to help us. A mad dash like that was in Sissi spirit, and the enemy panicked, opening the road for us.

I was fairly quiet, admitting myself that I was still a novice. I did not admit it to others, being a NCO after all. Later in the war I was given another stripe next to my Corporal stripes.

35. RajaK was subordinated to JR53.
The surviving war diary starts on the 19th August 1941, after the incidents described by the author.
Sohna (2).jpg
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Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 03 Mar 2021 06:10

R. K. Kostiainen

Stronghold no.10

Journal “Kansa Taisteli”, 06, 1962

JR 7 was competently led by Col. Lt Adolf Ehrnrooth, one of the more famous officers of the war. The date was around 29th March 1944.

It was the last days of March in 1944 as our Company, 3./JR 7 had been transferred from reserve to the front line . 2nd Lt. Koskinen's Platoon of which I was the deputy CO manned Stronghold no. 10 which was situated in the Southern Sector in the southernmost tip of Hirvisuo bog. Here the distance between the opposing trenches was the smallest of the sector, so brief that in wind-still weather even quiet coughing could be heard on the opposite side.

While the outfit preceding us holding the stronghold the enemy had shelled our positions so much that the surroundings of the dugouts were bare earth, even though it was a snow rich winter. Trees had been fallen down and smashed so that it was in daytime impossible to move anywhere else but in the communication trench. Observation by sentries had to be carried out using periscopes. We were in an existence of some tension because the higher-ups had warned us about an eventual attack.

It was a beautiful frosty spring morning as I climbed on an observation post that I had built myself to snipe at any enemy early risers. Seeking a target on the enemy side I heard a shout in understandable Finnish:
-Finnish soldiers! Evict German soldiers from your country and go home from here!

No one said anything. I was expected to respond and I did. I requested the Battalion mortar F.O.O. To spend five bombs to scare the man and then shouted:
-We shall make you shut up soon!
Presently the bombs swished overhead past us and burst at the approximate location of the shouter, which of course was well protected.

A moment of silence ensued, then my discussion partner shouted, adding a curse:
-Beat up that F.O.O.!

The discussion went on for several mornings. So called “Dugout language” was used but then our officers strongly forbade it. Another piece of fun was out of our life.

I had spent the early night keeping the sentries awake and just managed to fall into good sleep in the nice warmth of our dugout. A condensed milk tin with some rifle bullets inside started rattling nastily. Our Runner, PFC Antti Sipinen who was on duty from the midnight on, yelled:
-Alert!
The entire dugout woke up. Everyone was aware what the matter was. I pulled on my boots. The SMG with a mag on was always available on the wall above my sleeping platform. I grabbed it at once and without my cap and tunic I rushed out of the door, wearing just a sweater. The enemy was just assaulting our shot-up trench. We jumped over collapsed revetment timbers for our nearest double sentry post. The men were standing their ground and shooting at the oncoming enemy. I started running down the communications trench for the sentry post on the right, I knew two young lads were there, waiting help from our dugout. On the bottom of the foxhole I spotted an enemy glove. I was sure that the enemy had penetrated in our positions and may have taken the boys as POWs with them.

I jumped in the nearest battle nest that was not a sentry post, so pretty much filled by snow. I spotted on the snow covered parapet a deep furrow created by the incoming enemy. When I put up my head to see no-man's-land I spotted an approaching Vanya, briskly following the track of the men preceding him. The range was 6 to 7 meters. I took a good aim and fired. The man dropped in the soft snow and would never get up unless pulled up.

While I fired I also yelled so loud that it was heard in the neighbouring stronghold, the “Sebastobol” where Sgt. Heikki Koski with his men had taken positions just in case. I took a glance to the right and there, between our wire and our trench, three neighbours were in lively discussion. I sent a good burst at the babblers and two of them sunk in the snow at once but the third one left in a fast speed accompanied by my SMG burst to his own lines.

I did not dare to proceed alone but returned and came back with PFC Niilo Pohjalainen to finish my journey. Some distance from my recent battleground near the sentry post of the said two young men three enemies in white camo were lying on the bottom of the trench, in one heap, bloodied. The top one was still showing some signs of life. The sentry post was empty but two unexploded hand grenades, thrown there by the enemy. When later studying the grenades we found that the detonator fuses were missing, so they had been thrown as diversion only.

The enemy had had enough of this game. The surviving ones withdrew to their own lines but not everyone returned from this foiled prisoner taking mission. As to the two boys in sentry duty, we thought they were taken POW but no! One of them, Pvt. Saarikallio,
told us later.
-As the attack started we were in the weapons nest, waiting help from the dugout while firing at the enemy. Soon two hand grenades fell at our feet. Since we thought they would explode, we jumped soonest on the parados. The same moment I saw men in snowsuits approaching our weapons nest. Identifying them as enemies I gave a long burst from my SMG at them. Then we started running for the Company C.P. I lost one of my felt boots in the snow but it was not the time to think of that since we were in such a hurry.

In the C.P. they had told the CO, Capt. Jouko Kiiskinen, that the entire stronghold no.10 was taken by the enemy and there were no one of us left. The CO and his command squad set out to find out but arriving at the stronghold they found it in our hands.

The situation had calmed down. We had a smoke when counting the dead enemies, a total of 18 of them. Three were in the trench, 3 or 4 between the trench and the wire and the rest beyond the hindrance line. Our casualties were quite small. Four WIA, three light cases and the fourth, Cpl. Asumaniemi (sic) a more serious one but he too recovered in due time. Fortunately we had no KIA.

In the afternoon the Regimental CO Col. Lt A. Ehrnrooth accompanied by Lt. Matti Kuusi [in civilian life a distinguished ethnographer, tr.rem.] visited our stronghold to hear a detailed description of the skirmish and to thank his men for distinguishing themselves. After 2nd Lt. Koskinen had reported on the course of events the CO turned to me and asked:
-Well, what has our veteran to say ?
I told everything as I had seen and experienced. There was nothing more to boast about the incident, the results were there to be seen by everyone.

At that date the Finnish Opera was visiting the Regiment (JR 7) with a production of “Gräfin Maritza (by Kálmán) in the brand new “Tyrjänlinna” hall built by the men of the Regiment in Termola. The CO asked me and Pvt. Saarikallio if we had seen that show. Having learned that we had not, the CO said:
-Lieutenant Kuusi! See to it that Sgt. Kostiainen and Pvt. Saarikallio shall join today to watch the performance of “Gräfin Maritza” as my guests!

In the evening the CO's car arrived to pick us up from the front line and we found soon ourselves in Termola. The CO was there to meet us and he introduced us to some of the Opera personnel, e.g. to Mr. Martti Similä, the conductor. The house was packed except the first row reserved for the CO and his retinue. As we, following Col. Lt Ehrnrooth arrived, right from the foxholes into this luxurious happening there was a murmur in the audience. Everyone was staring at us, obviously thinking why those fools were following the CO. I helped the CO to take off his fur coat.

The CO turned to the audience and said:
-These boys have done such a good job this morning that we can celebrate a little now.
Another murmur in the audience, I think mostly of relief as they learned that we did not barge into the first row at our own initiative.

The show started and it was something very beautiful to see, indeed.

During the intermission the curtain was opened. Actor Thure Bahne stepped on the scene and called out:
-This morning the enemy attacked stronghold no.10 with intent to take Countess Maritza, that is Mrs. Elli Pihlaja as POW but the plucky boys of the front line prevented this. Two of these heroes are here today as guests of Col. Lt Ehrnrooth. Since the plans of the enemy were foiled and the “countess” is alive here among us, so as thanks for this our ballerinas shall dance for these heroes the “ White waltz”.

The curtain opened and a group of beautiful ballerinas appeared on the scene. The conductor started the music and an unforgettable performance started.

After the show our CO said us goodbyes and warned about eventual another attack. The car took us back to our “death smelling” stronghold, quite different from Termola. The enemy did not make another attempt, they did not even recover their dead from no-man's-land. Stronghold no. 10 was attacked the next time as a part of a larger enemy operation: on the 9th June 1944 the enemy offensive to take at first the Carelian Isthmus started.

The war diaries relevant to this incident were lost in June 1944.

Lotvonen
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Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 07 Mar 2021 06:15

Jukka Tyrkkö

Enemy offensive at Rajajoki June 9/10th 1944

Journal “Kansa Taisteli”, 07, 1962

JR 27. The author had served in the Finnish Volunteer Waffen-SS Battalion as war correspondent 1941-1943. He had a career as an author after the war.

-The fact is, boys, that ithe big one is going to start very soon...
That was the essence of the estimations of the situation on the Rajajoki sector on the Carelian Isthmus during the sunny last days of May and first days of June. Minor hostilities had been going on longer than anyone could have guessed, we had done sentry duty and sometimes patrols, we had carried out field fortification work and trench handicrafts, grumbled and stayed on the familiar positions situated along the Rajajoki river up to the North to the sector of another outfit. We had seen moves in the rear and at regular intervals we had visited our homes “to count the children”. We had been visited by civilians from our home districts and also seen shows by all sorts of performers, which had provided some highlights in the grey existence of the trench war. We had been stuck in this damn war business that seemed not to have an end as war professionals who would walk from the dugout to the trench as we would in the old days from our home to our job. Three long winters had passed...

There was a change on the way for sure. Supported by the West the Ivan was pushing the stricken German army back South of Gulf of Finland – the Eastern Front was not stopping any more. The speculations about the chances of Germany were the material for rumours, radio and newspapers; the number of pessimists was on the increase.
-Kalle, don't be such a dolt, you, anyone can see that the b*d is going to come at us and soon. Maybe it is better so...We shall get to go home in case we shall survive...

The small fields at Terijoki were being sown, and it was not hard to see that for many a man it was physical and mental therapy, natural and useful work in an unnatural work. Also dozens of small single family houses had been built by volunteers on the Isthmus for people who had had the worst fortune. Also municipal halls had been built, they would be usable also in peacetime. We did not build for our own interest only. Future inhabitants would also benefit.

In “Penaty”, the remarkable artist-Tusculum of the world famous painter Ilya Repin where he is buried, an artist brother in arms was painting a fresco (Sic!) of our Regimental war journey

(snip)

The enemy activity had considerably increased during the last few days. Fortress Kronstadt, our important reference point on the open white or blue sea was still as quiet as usually. Our men had watched the vain German air force attacks at it, the lump of concrete and granite was shut in its shell. Only now and then it would revive and fire a few shells at our lines before turning silent again.

The enemy was the more active on the land front. Incessant clatter of tank tracks and other traffic that could be spotted from the trenches told anyone that the enemy definitely was concentrating large forces against our sector, also our aerial reconnoitring may have provided data. Air activities, too, were on the increase. The same had been observed on the other sectors of our front, it was told, so it seemed to be certain that the enemy was about to launch an offensive any day.

On our side all this did not appear to have given rise to any countermeasures, actually. Alert readiness was improved, true enough, and a small reinforcement from Eastern Carelia arrived in our rear. It was a Jaeger Company and my twice wounded brother had volunteered to be posted as a Platoon leader in it, and they were soon moved in the fore-post called “Fingertip”. But, for example, our stores in Kuokkala or deeper in the rear were not evacuated neither was our placement altered.

The Command Post of our Regiment, JR 27, led by Col. Lauri Haanterä, was still situated in a white two storey house in Kuokkala. Our Education Office was a little deeper in the rear next to the burned down hall by a nice road.

It was early on the 9th June 1944 as it started. We were shaken awake, in the C.P.s as well as in the dugouts by an exceptionally heavy fire preparation that appeared to be increasing steadily. The morning was warm and clear, there were great numbers of a/c buzzing in the sky. Single shots could not be separated from the noise. It was obvious that the “big one” had been launched.

Now also Kronstadt showed his true self. The fortress was firing broadsides at our entire sector and scored at once bullseyes at the easiest targets. The unprecedented rain of shells also from the mainland proved how much artillery the enemy had placed against us. Bomber squadrons were coming from the direction of Leningrad in an endless stream and then returned, it was as if they were running a carousel overhead, dumping their loads at the targets and immediately returning for reloading. Also the infantry attack was going on, the noise was about enough to burst one's ears. Only the angriest howl of an aircraft engine overhead or a shell landing next to one could be made out from the common great din. The earth was shaking and boiling – hardly one square meter survived without being upturned by the steel storm. In the evening the artillery barrage was repeated and the Russians bit into some forward strongholds

Early in the morning of the 10th July the Russians continued their ferocious attack with ever stronger infantry and tank forces. Finns had to yield from the great superior force and withdraw West while fighting delaying action. The enemy offensive had been launched with a terrible force that had never been encountered. Shell shocked men started running to the rear in road ditches. We in the Regimental HQ were ordered by our CO to try to get the traffic to the rear on the Terijoki road into some kind of order.

I found myself as one on the road – as if stunned by all what was going on, armed with a pistol that somehow felt useless...A panic was about to break out, it was inevitably true. Incapacitated wounded men were being transported by a horse driver on his cart on the open road under shelling and ground strafing. I grabbed the reins of the horse at the bit and just managed to get the cart in some kind of shelter as the road was billowing with enemy bullets. The same minute´, it was told, a brave lorry driver had taken his load of wounded through an enemy outfit that had appeared on the road.

The men sneaking along the ditches were stricken by fear – a look at their eyes was enough to convince that it would be useless to try to get them back to the line. But following my orders I did stop one of them:
-Hullo, soldier! Where do you think you, too, are going? Which outfit?
-Eh, well.. Sgt. Tyrkkö's platoon.
Since he was obviously referring to my brother I asked him:
-Well then, where is your sarge ?
-There – over there he is!
Still mad with terror the man beckoned to the maelstrom at the stronghold “Fingertip”

It was at that very moment, I think, that the last men including my brother were retreating from it. I already had in my mind almost resigned to have lost him but a couple days later I met him, all stunned with sheer exhaustion.

The radiant beautiful summer morning was taken over by the greatest battle that could be imagined by us. Now the enemy tanks were attacking and I was not able to think of a force that would have been able to stop the gigantic machine army that day. By the evening we had retreated to the Terijoki church area.

Starting from there I and Lt. Jorma Kyyhkynen, with the permission of our CO, did one last visit to Kuokkala. Our Education office papers had been left behind and some of them had to be saved if only possible. We ran through a forest some kilometre and arrived at the perimeter of the village fields. The first enemy tanks were rumbling in the forest near a storehouse but the enemy infantry was still about 100m farther off. We managed to get next to the building, “Vanyas” were firing behind it, apparently random. While the Lieut stayed there securing with his SMG I dashed to the building and jumped in having smashed a window.

This house was familiar to me but I had to make haste. Soon I found what I was looking for and left. Thus was saved the first and maybe last printed score of our Regimental march by Heikki Asunta and Ahti Sonninen.

Before leaving in the cover of forest we spotted a column of smoke there where Col. Lt. Inkinen's house had been. It was our last view of the beautiful Kuokkala village.

The war diaries relevant to this incident were lost in June 1944.

Lotvonen
Member
Posts: 778
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 10 Mar 2021 08:13

Jorma “Joppe” Karhunen

Winged death

Journal “Kansa Taisteli” 07, 1962

The writer was a fighter pilot, MRH cross holder and after retiring authored several books.

The first week of the Winter War had gone. The pressure of the numerically superior enemy on all fronts created a gloomy feeling for everyone. The worry about the future of our fatherland, however, did not have any adverse effect on the fighting spirit, instead everyone was trying to do ever better and fulfil one's duty in the best possible manner. News of even small victories gave rise to joy and we, the fighter pilots, tried to get as many enemy a/c shot down in aerial battles because news of downed enemies served to improve the mood since it could not be denied that our forces were on the retreat on every front.

In Ladogan Carelia the situation was extremely serious as the enemy had thrown seven divisions against our troops instead of the expected three, and energetic counter-measures had to be taken. This is why Capt. Abe Carlsson´s Flight of L Lv 24 in which I was serving as a Pair leader was transferred to Mensuvaara on the 9th December 1939. Our theatre was to be the NE of lake Ladoga and our task was to reconnoitre the enemy ground forces' directions of advance and their groupings and harass with MG fire targets of opportunity.

We said our goodbyes at Immola to our colleagues who stayed there to cover the Carelian Isthmus and headed East with high hopes. In Mensuvaara we relieved the pilots of Sortavala air base who had bravely flown their old Junkers a/c (W/K34) in areas where enemy fighters were active. Their obsolete planes would have been easy prey for I-16s. Due to the general shortage of equipment even these old-timers were needed in action and they were transferred to the North front for recon duties. In Mensuvaara I shook for the last time hand with many an airman, because in the North, too, enemy fighters were hunting these old “tin cans”.

Our Flight leader was an energetic and temperamental gentleman so we cut right into the core of the matter.
-The recon results must be accurate. Spot the right location, mark it on your map at once and – of course, seeing a good target, give them something they shall remember!
Abe Carlsson was roaring to the pilots of his flight, waving his hand.
It was indeed an inspiring pep talk and it certainly had an effect on us who anyway were of out-going type.

During our recon missions we found how huge the enemy columns were. Their black lines appeared to extend to horizon and beyond. Two southernmost columns merged at Koirinoja, and the view of the situation for an airborne pilot was almost hopeless, because on our side we could see only weak Finnish forces in snow-suits. It was encouraging, however, that our troops were setting up resistance. Machine guns were being hauled in the snow in positions. Frozen earth was being dug and firing field was cleared by chopping down bushes.

A fighter pilot flying low saw this like a film . Counter-measures were being taken, we could see that, which encouraged us even though burning houses, transports of evacuated civilians and the huge mass of enemy troops were pressing our spirits.

We tried to fulfil the tasks given by our CO with all of our eagerness. Even though we would have loved to engage in dogfighting we admitted that recon observations would at this critical moment be much more useful as the advance of the enemy here in Ladogan Carelia had to be checked. The C-in-C had deployed fresh troops to counter-attack at Tolvajärvi while IV AC was preparing to out-flank the columns advancing in the Koirinoja and Kitilä areas.

The counter-attack at Tolvajärvi was launched December the 12th. All day we did missions with two ship patrols trying to detect the enemy movements as well as we were able to. We also kept observing attentively the air space because it would have been a nice surprise to meet enemy aircraft. Yet the fog drifting from Ladoga diminished the visibility very much in our area of action. Low hanging clouds of fog were hanging down almost to the tops of hills. Mostly the forward visibility was no more than 3 to 4 km and at the Ladoga shore down to one, even less. The sombre weather agreed with the situation.

My turn to fly that day was at 1210 to 1425 hrs and my task to recon the situation at Kitilä where enemy columns appeared to be flowing in with endless force. My wingman was a young Reserve 2nd Lt. E. Savonen who was eager to fulfil his task. However he was not fully trained because lack of funds had prevented providing the reservists with complete flying skills. During the Extra Repetition we had been able to address the worst weak spots and we had become an useful pair. Eventual missing skill was replaced by enterprising energy.

We were flying our Fokkers (D.XXI) over the terrain NE of Lake Ladoga attempting to clear some unclear details in the enemy column strength and placement. We also had been tasked to harass the enemy by ground strafing. We did our task as well as we were able to, flying low over the area. Having made an observations I marked it on the map that I was holding in my hand at the power setting lever.

The major problem was the accurate definition of location from low altitude. There were troops and transport columns in tremendous numbers but marking them on the map in a low flying fast aircraft was another matter. I tried to hold the stick between my legs while drawing dots and lines and scribbling the most important figures. On top of everything I was an equally popular target for foes as well as friends. Every man would lift his rifle, point it at my plane and fire, I could spot the muzzle flash.

To count the enemy column strengths I at firs flew quite far to the East, staying over wilderness area. It was not until on the return leg of our mission I intended to get closer to the columns, hoping that the enemy would believe aircraft coming from East were theirs. The plan was a perfect success and we gained good data on the troops filling the roads. It was a bitter sight to see the foe wandering in the direction of Finland. I remembered the protests of the League of Nations and other expressions of humanitarian sympathy.

At an open spot we passed the railway line up from Pitkäranta at a short distance. The rail embankment was teeming with a sombre looking procession wearing long greatcoats, odd caps and rifles with mounted bayonets. My flying altitude was about 40m so I was well able to see even the faces of the men. As they spotted the nationality insignias of our Fokkers they kneeled and opened up. At the same moment my attention was caught by a burning house on the side right on my course, the altitude was just right to make accurate observations. Against the fire I saw about a Platoon of enemies in their long greatcoats warming up, with their backs to me. The men apparently trusted the cover provided by the hill and completely forgot about aerial observation. They were to pay a high price.

I turned on the pressure air for the Fokker's four MG s, put my finger on the trigger, adjusted the sighting scope illumination, adjusted my aim with ailerons and opened up. My Brownings filled the cockpit with blueish thin gunpowder smoke. The tracers hit the clueless men. Some collapsed with their rifles between their knees where they had held them to warm up their hands. They left this world without knowing what happened. Some of them turned just to face my burst. This time death came on wings.

I turned South and having arrived at the Ladoga shoreline turned again East. Our aircraft vanished from enemy vision against the darkness of the open lake. I took a glance at Fort Mantsi where the coastal artillery men kept bravely fighting on despite their threatened position. Having passed Pitkäranta I again curved North, preparing for another strafing pass. This time I targeted the enemies advancing on the railway line, the very ones that had fired at us. A stretch of straight rail embankment on open ground was excellently suited for my purpose.

At treetop altitude we approached our target. Just before arriving over the open ground I pulled up a little to be able to strafe at an optimum angle. My recent attack had been a quick one at an opportune target but now I was going to do accurate work. My Fokker dashed over the open ground. A dark column of intruders was there in front of me. I set the scope post optimally at the enemy, preparing to start mowing them down. The words of my C.O. Were echoing in my ears: Let them have it! I did just that.

After the firing pass I flew over the above mentioned burning house and saw a number of fallen enemy soldiers next to the burning ruin. The Finnish campaign was over for them.

I passed the front line on my way to West. I spotted among the hills Finnish soldiers in snow-suits, greeting me by waving their arm. I wiggled my wings in response and understood that it was up to the effort of those Finnish men to stop the invaders.

It was a surprise to find that LeLv24 winter war diaries are not available online.

9.12.1939
...
LLv. 24 dispersed one Fokker flight from Immola and one from Suur-Merijoki to Lappeenranta to constitute Detachment Vuorela comprising 13 a/c. One Fokker Flight was sent to Mensuvaara where also a Bulldog outfit comprising 7 a/c led by Capt. E. Heinilä was transferred. Their task was to cover the railway transports and co-operating with Group Talvela and IV AC NE of Ladoga.
Due to bad weather the Bulldog detachment remained in Immola.

14.12.1939

At Koirinoja one L Lv.24 fighter pair strafed an infantry outfit and lorries carrying fuel.

Source:
Ilmavoimat Talvisodassa by Kalevi Keskinen and Kari Stenman
(1989)

Lotvonen
Member
Posts: 778
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 14 Mar 2021 10:00

Pekka Suhonen

Tank adventure in Kolatselkä

Journal “Kansa Taisteli” 07, 1962

3.K/I/JR60, a Platoon leader. Fog of war descends on a bright day.

I was sitting stark naked on the sunny beach of a small bog pond, drying drops of water off my skin cooled down by the swim . I was feeling quite well. My outfit was the 3K./I/JR60, and I had been made a Platoon Leader. Our Battalion had marched from Kaltimo station first to Kovero and then after hostilities had been started, marched following the attacking force via Korpiselkä and Loimola to Käsnäselkä where we had arrived, next to the old national border, one hour ago PM on the 18th July 1941. The advance of our troops had been rapid, we had had to make our best not to be left behind. During the last two days we had completed in hot weather and in the dust kicked up by columns exactly 90 kilometres. When thinking about it afterwards I consider it quite a feat, taking into account that the Battalion was made up of reservist with quite high average age and lack of experience with such marches, in this stage of the war.

Indeed, I did feel quite well. I knew that the tents had been set up on the even pine forest nearby and during the march the pea soup had been cooked in the field kitchen. I considered it to be self evident that now after two days of almost consecutive trudging we would get a chance to get good sleep. Warmed by the sun this kind of thoughts made my lids droop, and I might have fallen asleep if the Coy CO runner had not arrived to disturb my well-being.

His message shook me awake. He told me that the Coy CO had been summoned to the Battalion CO tent – and I was to join them !

Why on earth was I ordered there ? We might soon find us advancing again and soon. The reason we had marched on with only few breaks was to catch up with the enemy and our troops pursuing them. Now they were quite close, it could be deduced but the noise of fighting that had increased. We could attack over the old national border even. But why was I summoned to the briefing ? It would likely to be a special task.

Battalion CO Capt. Sulo Ropponen indeed gave me a special task. But it was quite unlike what I had expected. Most of the Battalion would be shifted by lorry at midnight to join the battle. Only the baggage train was left behind – and my Platoon was to cover it, somehow.

In due time at 0400hrs also the baggage train set out with their escort as the CO had ordered. He had shown me on the map the road to be taken to follow the troops. He also left in my charge his riding horse, consequently my long column did not look bad at all as we crossed the old border that beautiful July morning. I was alert after a good night's sleep and new and unknown terrain would be in front of us.

Then we arrived at the Kolatselkä village that was taken the day before (18th July) situated at the N tip of lake Tulemajärvi. It was 1000hrs sharp. I remember well how interesting I found the beautiful gray East Carelian houses. In the middle of the village at the crossroads I met an old man with a long beard and his equally old wife. They had just come out of hiding. I had a chat with them and I could have continued it but there was no time. The tip of the column was just about to arrive on the Kollaanjoki bridge. I was about to reach the lead of the column as I saw something to make me startle. On the opposite bank of Kollaanjoki river appeared two tanks, rumbling one after the other for the bridge my column was heading for. As the barrels of the tank guns were swaying at a bump of the terrain my eyes spotted big red stars on the front plate of the tanks. [BT-5, tr.rem.]

Where did those tank appear from, who was inside? Oh yes, Col. Lagus' tankers must have advanced somewhere here and are now taking captured enemy tanks in the rear. And there is a lorry following the tanks, surely it shall carry the SA registration plate on the front bumper.

I am turning backwards in the saddle, sign with my arm and shout:
“Column, to the right!”
At the same moment the tanks are already next to me, driving slowly on with open hatches. In the saddle I am reaching forward to see through a hatch but it is dark inside. Yet I yell:
“Well done, boys ! “ and salute.

That did it!
The hatches were slammed shut, the engines revved up and the tanks picked up speed. I was lucky to avoid being run over. Now they were heading for the same Kolatselkä crossroads from where my column was coming down the road. The road was full of horses and vehicles, the drivers were holding the reins tight to keep their horses from panicking.

It was a wonder that both the horses and the tanks had room on the same narrow village road. At the crossroads the tanks turned right, a narrow lane to North which later turned NE and crossed the same Kollaanjoki river. Sitting on the horse I was able to follow their process.

As marked in the sketch below the tanks crossed the river, then drove across fields to the road from Hyrsylä and then headed for South. At the spot where the road from Hyrsylä connects to the Kolatselkä -Palalahti road there is a low ridge along the foot of which the last mentioned road runs. The Hyrsylä road cuts through the ridge, the cutting making a kind of gate. To the East there is a cemetery.

As the tanks were approaching the cemetery crossroads the leading part of the column had managed to pass the spot. I signalled them to continue but the vehicles beyond the gate I ordered to take cover on the slope covered by dense bushes.

The tanks had stopped in the meanwhile so that the first one was almost at the “gate”. While I was busy getting the horses of the column in cover I failed to dismount before there was a bang, a swish and a crack somewhere. My horse, that so far had been ambling along like a ploughing horse, was now galloping to East with neck curved and hooves clacking. As to me, I had found a refuge in the ditch of the road.

Which tanks were these, where did they appear from? As I saluted the first tank crew I had neglected asking them and no one told me later. Most likely the tanks came from the direction of Hyrsylä. When turning the first time to Kolatselkä the crews most likely were ignorant about the fact that Finns had already taken Kolatselkä. It was not until I had peeked in the first one and shouted my greetings the enemies got wiser and they were so thoroughly scared that they did not even think about opening fire. Having turned at the crossroads they had found that there were just men with horses and they returned to have another look, this time at a closer range.

Now the tanks were standing still on the “gate” of the ridge but no more peaceful and calm. Their long gun barrels spat out at regular intervals a long flash followed by a bang, a swish and a slapping crack. The lighter tank weapons were sending out sharp bursts which made the alder bushes crackle. What if the bloody things would get tired of standing still and approach us ? What should we do then?

No, these gatecrashing foreigners had to be forced to stay put. Our carts were loaded also with ammo of every sort, including satchel charges, we had to get them in our hands, and fast. After some frantic searching we found them. I distributed them at first to the men who had taken cover on the slope West of the “gate” and instructed them what to do if the tanks would try to get through the gate or across the ridge. Then I handed over the command of the detachment to the West of the gate to my Platoon deputy leader Sr. Sgt. Niemi. I took some men with me and we crept down a ditch of the Palalahti road to the E side of the “gate”. Once in cover of sight we slipped in the above-mentioned cemetery I and my men had satchel charges which I had decided to use to prevent any attempt of the tanks to proceed through the “gate”.

My original idea had been to stay on the defensive, that is, use satchel charges only if the tanks would try a run at us. Making use of grave mounds and dense vegetation we managed to get so close to them that we were able to have a go at the foremost of the tanks. However, the throw fell short, with the effect of scaring them only. After the burst the tanks backed down, stopping at 50m from the “gate”. There they stood and fired, at first fast, then only now and then. They were aiming at the “gate” and the ridge, too. Soon one of the tanks got going, turned around and vanished down the Hyrsylä road.

-Now he left to inform the comrades what is going on here, one of my men opined.

Soon an increasing thunder of engines started emerging from the North and in a not time at all
a total of five tanks adorned with red stars were standing on a nice line. Now I wrote a brief report on the lid of a cig box, summoned my Runner PFC Oja and ordered him to ride soonest in the direction of Palalahti and there find Capt. Ropponen and hand over my report to him. In it I also requested for an AT gun to be sent to Kolatselkä.

Now that the tanks had had the road virtually blocked from the very beginning of this incident the terrain at Kolatselkä was getting crowded by the troops ordered to advance via the road N of lake Tulemajärvi . In the course of the day arrived also troops of our division that were to head for the Hyrsylä bend. These troops, too, were prevented from continuing their journey since the tanks were commanding the wide open fields N of the village.

I explained the situation to a Lieut of the said outfit and told him I was waiting for an AT gun from Palalahti. The Lieut also promised to get one and I do not doubt that he was doing his best. But hours passed by while I was impatiently waiting, no guns arriving neither from East nor West. Waiting is tedious, specially when plagued with five menacing enemy tanks.

Then – Finally! An AT gun was seen coming from Kolatselkä. When admiring the sight someone poked my side and pointed East, another gun was being brought in. They were shoved in the cover of bushes on each side of the “gate” in rear slope positions. I instructed the gunners; one was to engage the first tank, the other the last tank. No fire without my order. I chose to be near our AT gun while observing the other one, and as they signalled “ready” I put my right arm up solemnly, held it up a while then hit down. Two shots ran out perfectly timed as one single bang. I saw that the first tank burst into flames, then the three next got going and vanished in the bushes on both sides of the road to escape. The last tank did not budge, it just remained there with its engine stopped and totally quiet.

Of the three escaped tanks two got away while the third met its fate. Taking a glance at my watch I found it was 1700hrs sharp. Our nearly seven hour tank adventure was over.

(2044 words)
JR60, I Btn war diary extract

18 July 1940
Battalion on march for Käsnäselkä (started previous night at 2145hrs from Loimola railway station)
10.30hrs
The leading Company arrived at the bivouac area, the beach of the pond E of Suur-Retskujärvi lake.
22.00hrs
Btn was ordered to be on standby to be transferred by lorries to Tulemajärvi.
23.00hrs
The last transport, included the Jaeger Platoon and part of 1.K + MG platoon.
24.00hrs
The second transport set out.
19.7.1941
04.08hrs
The second transport crossed the old national border.
Jaeger Platoon led by Lt. Sarso was subordinated to the Regiment.
05.10hrs
The second Battalion transport arrived at Kolatselkä village situated at Tulemajärvi. The stretch of road from Käsnäselkä to Tulemajärvi is extremely poor. The journey was delayed also because Det. Riitasuo (pp./patl.) was preceding the column on their way to the Hyrsylä Bend. Btn HQ led by the Supply Officer is still on the march.

Btn is tasked to advance via the N and E of lake Tulemajärvi up to the “Petrozavodsk crossing” and secure to the direction of Petrozavodsk.

As the Battalion arrived at Tulemajärvi fighting was going on at the S tip of the lake with a Russki 200 lorry enemy column that had been taken there a couple of days ago (airman observation). On the W side of the lake at the S tip is Det. Järvinen (JP2, Kev.Os.4 + artillery) and on the E side of the lake Det. Tiirikkala (Btn.).

Liaison with Det. Järvinen. I/JR60 was tasked to advance following Det. Tiirikkala (as reserve) and having arrived at the Petrozavodsk crossing secure in the direction of Petrozavodsk.

11.00hrs
After the attack of Det. Tiirikkala had been launched the Btn moved into the second wave some 500 to 700 m to the rear. An AT Platoon of the Div. AT Coy was subordinated to the Btn.

14.00hrs
From the rear arrived a report from Artillery Btn. Tiittanen that already had moved to the N tip of lake Tulemajärvi and that was to support the advance of the battalion. 2 or 3 enemy tanks had appeared at the tip of lake Tulemajärvi where they were harassing the Art. Btn and also the I/JR60 column that was just arriving there. Also the Btn column report arrived, confirming the previous one and stating that due to this the Btn column had been split in two.

14.30hrs
Det. Tiirikkala's attack having been successful the first outfit of the Btn arrived at the Petrozavodsk crossing. 1.K was set to secure to the E of the Petrozavodsk Crossing on a brook line some 2km farther off. The rest of the Btn bivouacked at the S edge of Palolahti village (the terrain of Petrozavodsk Crossroads) to rest. Btn subsisted all day on dry rations.

18.00hrs
Jaeger Platoon report: At the N tip of the lake 6 tanks had shown up and 2 of them had been knocked out.

22.30hrs
or thereabouts the Btn Column arrived at the Petrozavodsk Crossroads. Btn had a meal.

23.30-00.30hrs
Btn resting.
During the evening Btn was disturbed by the patrols, and even single men, of the dispersed enemy.

Casualties: 1 NCO and 1 man WIA.

19 POW taken during the evening.

(20.7.1941 01.00hrs Order to march, start 0230hrs)
tankkireitti.jpg
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Lotvonen
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Posts: 778
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Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 21 Mar 2021 05:48

Arvo Karppinen

AT gun destroyed without orders

Journal "Kansa Taisteli", 07, 1962

Probably 2.K/I/JR10

It had taken four days, from the 21st to the 24th July ´1941 to clear the Omelia “motti” North of Omelia the pursuit of the enemy would have to go on. I/JR10 led by Maj. A. Majewski was ordered to continue the attack to East and the Battalion marched on the 25th July at a leisure pace some 10km to Luusinkajärvi to the front line to wait for the launching of another attack. 2nd Lt. Muilu's Platoon in which I was serving as a deputy Squad Leader was placed on the extreme left wing of our line. My Squad comprised seven men although our Company had suffered casualties in the battles by then.

I saw to it that my Squad found covered waiting positions and then I chose a nice hole for myself. I lit up while waiting for the H hour. What else was there to be done?
2nd Lt. Muilu came to check the line of his Platoon and asked me:
-Is your squad all right?
-We are all right and the rest will be all right as soon as we shall get going, I answered, lying on back and watching clouds.
-The lads cannot hope for anything better.
-Then keep a sharp eye at the left flank, the Lieut said.
-We shall take care of the flank, I said. -That is, if our strength is enough.
The Lieut left and the attack was launched a moment later.

Mortars by the road opened up, my squad, too, was under fire although we found ourselves quite far from the road.
-Get moving now, short dashes, I shouted and made myself an example because there was a menacing whizzing and whining in the air.

Suddenly I spotted on my left the entrance of a communications trench and I started making longer dashes. After a short while I dropped in the trench and found it was empty. More men came until my Squad was assembled in the trench. It was leading in the direction of the enemy lines. We restarted our advance and proceeded some three hundred meters down the unmanned trench where it ended in a river. We found ourselves a good distance ahead of the rest of the Company, reason enough to light up again.

Next we waded across the river and went on attacking while the enemy securing was yielding to the right in front of us. By midnight the situation had turned so favourable that our entire Company found themselves in positions on the left side of the main road. My Squad was still on the extreme left wing. The enemy defence had solidified and the Company was not able to advance for now. Instead we were now on the 26th July engaged in close range firefight.

Since Lieut Muilu had mentioned about securing the left wing, I decide on my own initiative to check the patch of forest in front of us, the main road was beyond that. The environment was covered in light twilight and smoke, making the visibility bad. I took with me Pvt. Kärkkäinen and SMG gunner Lankinen who was a fearless lad. The three of us started creeping for the main road but since no enemies were seen we stood up and walked soon. At a distance of about forty meters an AT gun fired. The muzzle flash was clearly seen and it made us drop down.
-What shall we do, Lankinen asked. -There is a “whip gun” (45mm AT)
-There is a choice, I said. -We shall take on that gun or return. Since we are this far I think our duty is actually to have a go at it.
-Let's take out the gun crew at least, Lankinen said. -Kärkkäinen, what do you say?
Kärkkäinen calculated in his mind the risks and said:
-Let's leave it alone. We have no orders to get it, either.
-Orders are available, I whispered. -I am the Squad leader and I order to get that gun. Get that, Kärkkäinen? I and Lankinen are going anyway. You are to take care of our rear because you are no good for taking out that gun. You must at first learn what the war is all about. Let's go!

I and Lankinen started heading for the gun, creeping to be safe. We approached meter by meter. It would send out a shell every now and then. At a distance of 20m we stopped.
-I think this is a good range for a SMG, what do you think? I asked Lankinen.
-Do you want to get any closer?
-I am going to take out that gun with a bunch of hand grenades, Lankinen said and started making a bundle of hand grenades. He tied four of them together.

We crawled on until the gun was there some ten meters in front of us. I saw three helmets behind the gun shield but I cannot tell how many were in the ditch of the road.
Lankinen nudged my shoulder and whispered:
-You are going to drop those three men at the gun. Then I shall go there. Keep firing at the road as long as I am at the gun!
-All right! I answered. I raised my SMG and took aim at the three men. I fired a brief burst and the blokes collapsed at their weapon. Lankinen jumped up and having reached the gun he emptied the drum of his SMG in the direction of the road ditch. Then he vanished behind the gun shield. There was fire coming from the other side of the road but only rifle fire. Some in my opinion long seconds passed. Lankinen appeared again. He fired another drum empty and dashed next to me. There was a loud explosion at the AT gun which was shrouded in a dust cloud. At the same moment I was firing a drum in the direction of the road because shooting and yells were emerging from too close. The enemy must have been approaching.

I placed those four hand grenades over the breech block of the gun and then pulled a lanyard, Lankinen told me, panting. -Then I fired. There were some ten enemies in the ditch and many of them fell. Maybe everyone? Do you hear that? More of them are on their way here. Shall we disengage?
-Of course, I said. -First empty the drum and dash to the rear and so on until we are safe in our line.

I spent another drum at the road where a great number of men were seen running. Then we dashed to the rear. Enemy fire increased and now auto weapons were joining in. Fortunately the bullets were aimed too high, they did not sweep the ground but punished trees.

Alternately shooting and running we managed to away from the vicinity of the road. A tremendous rain of bullets was following us but the enemy stayed at a respectable distance from us. They followed us but not at our heels. Maybe our SMG s had taught them to be more careful. Having reached our line we stopped to wait and selected good positions.

Soon the enemy appeared in front of us. With our two SMGs we opened up against the shapes running in the smoke. Enemy stopped, took cover and stayed there. They did not continue to get deeper in our flank because our fire had again thinned their ranks by some men.

When the peace had returned we had another smoke to calm our nerves. Enemy was firing lazily at a distance of a few tens of meters but that did not worry us. It was evident that they would not attempt anything in our neighbourhood.

I sent Kärkkäinen to take a report to Muilu on our whereabouts. Kärkkäinen was pleased to leave because he had not yet got used to the war, actually being but a recruit. A four month training was sufficient for many a man but Kärkkäinen was by character one of those whom that period had not been enough. Yet he had to be in the fray and in due course he might get used to the war as much as it was possible for anyone.

Finally the dusk began to vanish and the day broke. There had not been any darkness at all, just twilight, it being the last week of July. Enemy was hanging on to their positions and did not disengage until in the morning. Other troops were to continue the pursuit to the East from Luusinkajoki river. We were promised one day of rest.
Screenshot_2021-03-19 14 D Rukajärven suunnassa2 pdf-3.jpg
1.K and 2.K war diaries have not survived.
I/JR10 war diary extract :


25.7.1941
01.00hrs A Runner was sent to direct the column to Omelia village
06.30hrs
Arrived Esik.K and Coy baggage trains and directed to the bivouac area. At the PT.193.0 terrain are the entire I/JR10 excl. 3.K which means; HQ, Esik.K., 1.K. 2.K. 4.K, KrhK/JR10, and Tyk.K /JR10 that again was subordinated to I/JR10 and Pion.J/JR10. 3.K was still subordinated to Det. Kumllin.

14.D_ outfits JR52, JR31, JR10 and other subordinated outfits had surrounded the enemy in the terrain of Omelia village and mostly destroyed them by 24.7.1941 1400hrs. Some of the enemy had however managed to escape using boats and rafts across the lake situated NE of Omelia to the cape at pt. 183.3 with the intent of passing through forest and reach the Omelia-Rukajärvi road at pt. 291.2
3.K who had been subordinated to Det. Kumlin had been fighting in the terrain N of pt. 198.2 was sent sent to the cape at 183.3 to sweep the terrain.
On the 24.7. at 2230hrs IV Platoon of 3.K (Virkkunen) arrived at the Det. Kumlin C.P. With 40 POWs and they reported that they had destroyed almost as many at the said cape. The rest of 3.K was patrolling and sweeping the terrain at the cape.
On the 25.7. 3.K was ordered by Det. Kumlin to return back to the road (pt. 237.6, 1km W) and sent a patrol to destroy one reported enemy officer outfit. At the same time 3.K is returned back under I/JR10. 3.K arrived on the 25.7.at 1700hrs.
(snip)
09.30hrs
(Snip: Order to Jaeger platoons to carry out a long distance patrol mission)
11.00hrs
Btn CO issued a marching order. The Btn is to move to East when ordered.
(Marching order) Departure 13.00hrs
13.00hrs
2.K started the march and the other outfits followed as ordered.
15.10hrs
Report: Jaeger Platoons reached pt.273.6
15.40hrs
Btn HQ arrived at pt. 273.6. Jaeger platoons started advancing through the terrain.
16.00hrs
Btn HQ was forced to pull back by enemy mortar and MG fire. Btn C.P. Situated 2km W of Pt. 273.6.
16.00hrs
2.K arrived at the C.P. Terrain. The rest of the outfits followed in the marching order
16.25hrs
Btn CO issued the attack order:
Enemy is in f.f. Positions reinforced with auto weapons and (50mm) mortars on the E side of Luusinkajoki river.
Our troops include I/JR52 in the front on the W bank of Luusinkajoki (2 coys, one in reserve). I/JR10 is to attack so that 1.K shall attack on the S side of the road and 2.K on the N side of the road, past I/JR52.
I/JR52 shall stay in their positions during the entire attack, securing.
The attack shall be supported by 5.K (6 light mortars), Krh.K/JR10 (3 light mortars), 1 platoon of Krh.K/JR52, 2 heavy mortars of Krh.K/JR31, 1 battery /KTR10 (Cannons) and Erill.Tyk.K.(Möttönen).
1.K and 2.K CO are to liaise with the supporting outfit CO s .
C.C.S. Is situated 0.5km behind the C.P. (in action readiness at 1700hrs)
H Hour to be informed later.
16.25hrs
I Gun Platoon of Tyk.K relieved the JR52 Gun platoon from the front line (ready).
16.45hrs
I/JR52 in the front was liaised. I/JR52 led by Capt. Heinämäki after Maj. Hyvärinen was WIA.
17.00hrs
IV/3.K (Rantala) was ordered to cut off the Omelia-Muujärvi road at the bridge, 1,5 km W of pt. 297.2. The platoon is to advance to the objective via the isthmus between pts 297.3-221.7 N of the road.
17.50hrs
1.K and 2.K moved to jump-off positions.
1.K and 2.K CO s agreed with the mortar platoon CO s that the mortars shall fire at request. The supporting Battery is in positions but will not be in readiness by the H Hour.
Tel. connection shall be built from the C.P. To the front line along the road.
19.25hrs
H Hour. On the right wing heavy fire, on the left quiet.
19.30hrs
Reported from Hokki that Coy Junkkari of III/JR10 is in reserve in the rear (0,5 km behind the C.P.) and shall be subordinated to Maj. Majewski if necessary.
20.25hrs
1.K (Puustinen) reported that 1.K has crossed the river.
20.45hrs
2.K (Laisto) reported by phone: Two platoons of 2.K have crossed the river on the left. Requesting more force to the left (to secure). Strong resistance in the direction of the road.
21.00hrs
Adjutant set out to the front line to liaise.
21.05hrs
2.K (Laisto) reported : “2.K reached the river at 2015hrs. In the front at the road strong resistance. Trying to cross on the left. It is more quiet there.”
21.10hrs
Order issued to Laisto: 2.K is to advance according to the plan. If the resistance is too stiff you are to dig in. The positions shall not be given up. 2 Platoons of Coy Junkkari shall be subordinated to 2.K. Laisto reported that at the bridge on the E side of the road there is a very harmful MG nest.
21.25hrs
2 platoons of Coy Junkkari were ordered to move to the N side of the road and be subordinated to Capt. Laisto. Simultaneously Coy Junkkari shall set two squads to secure: one N of the road and one on the S side at the level of the C.P.
21.30hrs
Light mortar Platoon III/JR10 (Karttunen ) reported to Maj. Majewski. The rest of Coy Junkkari (1 rifle platoon + AT rifle squad) were ordered to head for the road and report to Capt. Puustinen.
21.47hrs
2 AT gun platoons of Tyk.K./JR52 reported and were ordered to proceed to the road tasked to destroy the previously mentioned harmful MG nest.
22.08hrs
One AA gun of Tyk.K/Er.Rask.Psto reported. They were ordered to proceed to the road tasked to destroy the previously mentioned harmful MG nest.
22.10hrs
Hokki2 reported that the rest of the two Coys of III/JR10 (Laine, Koponen) found themselves 0,5 km to the rear in reserve.
22.10hrs
Capt. Laisto requested securing on the isthmus to the N (between pts 221.7 to 237.6) Coy Merenheimo of I/JR52 sent one platoon to secure.
22.30hrs
Lt. Vaarnamo of 2.K reported that the I/2.K (Ahtola) had during their advance reached the range of the previously mentioned harmful MG nest and was totally stopped. Vaarnamo was issued an order: tell Platoon Ahtola that they are to attempt to dig in and Vaarnamo is to liaise at once with Capt. Laisto.
23.43hrs
Report: AT guns had destroyed two enemy MG nests. Capt. Puustinen reported that 1.K shall again try on the right. The mortar platoon of III/JR10 (Karttunen) was subordinated to Capt. Laisto.
23.55hrs
Capt. Puustinen arrived at the Btn C.P.
26.7.1941
01.15hrs
Reported to Capt. Puustinen that 1.K has managed to bite into the hill S of the road. Laisto was informed about the situation 2.K was to try again on the left. If needed 2.K shall be supported by Coy Larmo of III/JR10.
01.50hrs
Capt. Laisto reported : Enemy most likely has managed to disengage.
02.28hrs
Capt. Puustinen reported:
“On my sector the Russki disengaged. Several small patrols in the terrain. Terrain being swept. Liaising by patrols. On the N side of the road there is a small “motti” which is just being eliminated. The terrain about 500m to the E of the bridge has been swept.”
02.30hrs
POW s arrived, a total of 16 .
03.20hrs
Coys Larmo and Koponen of III/JR10 were ordered to move to the front line, to relieve 1.K and 2.K.
03.30hrs
1.K and 2.K were ordered to advance to the next river line and carry out sweeping in the direction of the road.
03.40hrs
Lt. Junkkari reported that he had carried out the task given to him. He was ordered to sweep the cape S of the road to the E of the river. Having completed his task the Coy is to bivouac E of the river.
04.40hrs
Capt. Korhonen ordered:
Coys Larmo and Koponen are subordinated to Lt. Larmo. They shall relieve 1.K and 2.K and take over their tasks. Krh.K/JR10 and 5.K are subordinated to Larmo. 1.K and 2.K shall bivouac W of the river. Platoon Karttunen and Coy Junkkari shall bivouac E of the road.
05.00hrs
Capt. Puustinen reported;
“Enemy carrying out f.f. Work on the brook line 1750m W of pt 291.2 on both sides of the road. Their strength not yet found out.”
06.40hrs
Larmo reported that the brook line has been crossed.
(end of extract)
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Lotvonen
Member
Posts: 778
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 28 Mar 2021 06:11

T. Kuparinen

Swimming from Ravansaari

Journal “KansaTaisteli” 07.1962

Cavalrymen fighting on an island in July 1944.

It was the morning of the 4th July 1944, the summer was at its peak. Yet over the Bay of Viipuri there was floating fog and smoke that the sun tried to penetrate with her rays.

Platoon Hanström of the 4th Squadron of Uusimaa Dragoon Regiment had arrived in Ravansaari island a couple of days ago. I was a SMG gunner in that outfit. We had started digging foxholes at once. It had been calm until that morning as I was in sentry duty in a listening post on the beach opposite to the Uuraansalmi strait.

The previous evening an enemy loudspeaker had been in action, blaring out:
“Surrender today, it may be too late to-morrow! We shall plough the island over into a vegetable patch. Kill your superiors and come over here! Here we have women and booze! “
The show was ended by a Finnish waltz “Saariston Sirkka” and we were chuckling. What a fun loving neighbour we had. We answered their message:
“Why don't you come over here or at least send us what you promised!”

This time the enemy was really serious as to their threats. I had been in my sentry post only about for one hour as the war restarted in earnest. The enemy unleashed the devil. Tons of iron was poured on our island. Hundreds (sic) of ground attack planes swept over the island. The air was full of rocks, splinters and clay. Cries of wounded men were mixed with the noise.

I was crouching in my foxhole, peeking over the rim every now and then. I was expecting an attack to start any moment. It was my task to report to my officer if the enemy decided to attack at this point. Also every pal of my outfit was relying on the listening post sentry. Due to the smoke brought about by the enemy the night was darker than usually. My stint was over by now but due to the heavy shelling I was not able to leave my foxhole.

Then sound of light arms broke out at the SW corner of the island. The view was obscured by smoke but I guessed that the enemy landing had started. Tremendous noise of battle was also emerging from the direction of Suonionsaari island. After a while a Runner slithered to me with orders: “The enemy has landed. The beach securing is pulling back to the canal line across the island. Join your squad! You shall find them at the Uuraa end of the canal!” He vanished in the smoke and I started creeping to the ordered direction.

There was cracking and rattling around me. Single shots could not be made out. Finally I made it to the canal and liaised with my squad. The same moment the enemy was seen moving about in the bushes beyond the canal. The distance was about one stone throw. I rose on my knees to see better and tried to point my gun at the enemy. Then the sky fell on me. A blinding flash on a tree in front of me – and the noise of battle disappeared.

I cannot tell even to-day how long I had been unconscious before coming to. Heavy fire had stepped in the rear. I felt my head and limbs. My right leg was numb, I did not see any other damage. Only a thing red line was dribbling from my right trouser sleeve. My gun was next to me, all in order. But where were my pals? Why are light weapons and hand grenades not being used? I rose up leaning on my arms. There was a tremendous quantity of enemies beyond the canal, it was just teeming with men in brown uniforms, some with up-rolled sleeves. There was in front of me a tall dark haired man. Bare-headed, with a Nagan pistol in his hand at a distance of 30 to 40 m.

I dropped prone in the grass. I took a hand grenade from my breast pocket and removed the safety – it was for myself, because I was not going to surrender. Suddenly a fit of rage surged in me. I pointed the SMG at the enemy and fired long angry bursts. Then the bolt just clicked, I re-cocked and pulled the trigger – the mag was empty. I had used up the last bullet of my last mag. Also I found myself standing up. While shooting I had inadvertently stood up – my legs were holding me up. I grabbed my hand grenade and stretched my arm to the rear for a throw before I remembered that it was my last weapon.

With the grenade in my hand I started walking away from the enemy all the time expecting to get shot between my shoulder-bones. I was entertaining a hope: let them hit good so that I would not have to use the grenade. There was not a single shot at me.

I had proceeded 150m and now a small ember of hope was ignited – maybe, after all..!
I crept under the steel hull of a ship on the dockyard. Fear of death that I had defeated a while ago now returned. Yet I tried to save myself even though a LMG burst was rattling against the ship side.

I continued my journey under the ship and reached the (Northern) tip of the island. Broken wooden boats were lying on the beach and floating in the sea. The last of our men were stripping their garments – actually the last ones were left there as fallen or wounded. I, too, freed myself quickly from my clothing. I even cut open the sleeves of my riding breeches with my knife. I put my wallet between my teeth and hurried into the sea where the enemy barrage was creating high columns of water.

Having swum less than 100m the enemies dashed up to the beach. I could hear loud babbling and at the same moment bullets started whining over the men who were swimming for their lives. A group of men swimming in front of me attracted most of the fire. Yet one enemy rifleman had picked me as his target and at regular intervals water would splash near my head. I was waiting for a hit, in fear, and tried to swim as deep in the water as possible. A couple of times there was a splash at my back and there was a nasty whine next to my ear.

However the lively waves aided us, it made it difficult for the shooters to hit. Yet a couple of heads disappeared from the group ahead of me. It was the Runners who had gone to take their last message. As the man shooting at me had spent fifteen rounds he gave up. Also the artillery barrage ended. There were dead fish floating on water.

Having reached Karppilanniemi cape German gunners were laughing at the practitioners of the culture of nakedness (“ Freie Körperkultur”). We, too, could smile a little having hard ground under our feet again.

(Wehrmacht 122.D had been sent to reinforce the coastal defence on the W side of Bay of Viipuri.
No war diaries of 4./URR covering the Continuation War have survived .)
Ravansaari. pdf.png
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Lotvonen
Member
Posts: 778
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 03 Apr 2021 11:44

Viljo Kuusonen

Fighting in the Carelian Isthmus June 1944

Journal "Kansa Taisteli", 08, 1962

JR25. Story of a wounded Supplies company man

Our train left Eastern Carelia where three years had gone by. Behind were left Seesjärvi, Petkellahti and Karhumäki, also Lake Onega. Now we are heading for an unknown destination but we know enough to be aware that the front in the Carelian Isthmus has broken and we are on our way there.
-Boys, our Fatherland is endangered. Our force and bravery is needed to save what can be saved. These were the words of an officer in our wagon, looking at each of us in turn.
The men are sitting on the sleeping platforms with a serious mien and their gazes are sweeping the passing landscapes.
-Yes, our Fatherland is in danger, we all agree on that, and we all share the idea of defending our country, even though we sometimes grumble. We all agree that we are going to the spot where the flames of the war are the hottest.

Our train includes about 1000 men of JR25 of the 4.Division. There are men from several outfits and some Lottas, too,

It is the 15th June 1944 00.20 hrs as we are approaching Viipuri, actually the Maaskola marshalling yard. Another train full of soldiers has arrived just before us. From a distance we are seeing the AA tracers in the air and explosions surrounding enemy aircraft. Our train stops and the men are getting out. We are scanning the sky where ever new aircraft formations are moving around. In this small area there is some 2000 men. AA weapons are constantly firing at the enemy planes. Enemy aircraft release their bombs, explosions are shaking the ground time and again and houses around the marshalling yard are catching fire.

We are walking about around our train and watching the situation. I see that there are men under the wagons seeking cover from splinters. The same moment a clever man asks a question in passing:
-Did you lads check the label on that wagon?
Since no response is given one of the soldiers creeps up from under the wagon to see what is the matter with the label.
-Oh hell – ammunition wagons and actually two of them!

Let us get far from them. In case they should be hit they would not find even our dog-tags. The ground under the wagons is abandoned but the aerial bombardment is getting more intense.

I am walking to the tail end of the train and among the din I can hear loud calm words; “Lord bless and protect us”. I am getting closer and see a small group of soldiers kneeling and playing. There is then a smaller about a twenty person group, I can hear voices of women and weeping – Lottas. I am feeling an odd sting. I am thinking: why should they get in this conundrum ? I admit also that where there is a soldier there is a Lotta, too, although I would not have wished this to happen to them.

I am hurrying back to my wagon. Heavy bombs are falling every now and then in the direction of the rail line, and each time closer. Just now five bombs were released, they are coming just at me – I drop prone down on the earth. Tremendous explosions follow each other, dirt and splinters are raining on us. One puffs up just in from of me and my left arm is smarting. I am slightly wounded. I pull up the bomb fragment from the ground, it is a couple of inches long and one corner just nicked me.

The recently heard words “Bless and protect us” are still sounding in my ears. I am heading under the train, fearing very much, seeking the cover of the rails and the wagon wheels. I am trying to dig in between sleepers – why is the Fatherland so hard ? The wounded are shouting for help.

The bombardment dies down after 45 minutes. Orders are received. “The men are to march 4 to 5 km to the rear. This train cannot be shifted because other trains are coming down the line”. I do not want to march, instead I have my arm bandaged and climb in our wagon with a pal. We are guessing that the “supukow” men are not going to fly overhead again before the next sunrise. We place our field kettles on the stove to make surrogate coffee and then lie down on the platforms – then we fall asleep.

I do not know when the train was sent to pick up the marching men but we are woken by the men rushing in the wagon We give them a lecture on revelling at night and the risks involved. The reaction is not fit to be published. Our train proceeds the journey for Heinjoki. It is afternoon as we arrive at Heinjoki where the baggage train is unloaded. We have a meal in a patch of forest in Heinjoki and we get our pay.

Then the march for Perkjärvi starts. A procession of evacuees is coming our way up the road. Horse carts are carrying just white haired oldsters, women and children plus their meagre possessions. Columns of soldiers, serious and silent men, are marching toward the front line. Rain is pouring down and the night is falling. We set up our tents which are leaking. We are trying to sleep but to no avail since water is dropping on us at every spot

On the 16th June 1944 we are approaching the Perkjärvi -Kaukjärvi line and are harassed on the road by mortars. The next day we are next to the enemy somewhere East of Kaukjärvi. There are constantly enemy aircraft overhead harassing our movement.

I am ordered to evacuate the stores at Leipäsuo. We have to dash out of lorries several times and once a burst of bullets pierces the lorry cabin but we keep driving on. The firewood stacks at Leipäsuo railway station are burning. We make it to the stores and load up. Firing increases as we start the return journey. On a hill we have to run around a big boulder several times to dodge the ground attack planes curving around overhead.

Then we see Lagus' men (Armoured Division) . Hope surges in my mind and I feel safe. The aircraft abandon us and we return to our lorry. It is still functional and we manage to get the load home. Soon the melee restarts as four enemy tanks have broken through our line. Panzerfausts are distributed to us and training provided how to use them.

On the 18th June we pull back some 10km to the rear to the Summa terrain. It is a beautiful calm morning, just a single rifle shot is heard somewhere in the distance. We are admiring the nature, dewdrops of the night are gleaming on tree branches and birds are twittering. One turns sentimental seeing this.
-Boys, this silence is does not forebode anything good. This is too beautiful to be real.
While we were talking about this a Russian observation balloon rose above the Summa Bunker hill and then …
Thirty ground attack aircraft attack, strafing along our trenches. They are also dropping small bombs and artillery opens up, too. It is as I the ground would be torn under our feet and no single explosions can be distinguished, it is all one solid rumble. Men are falling next to me. Stretcher bearers are crouching while running. We are waiting for orders to withdraw but it is not coming. There are sounds of firing in our rear, we are about to get surrounded.

On the 19th June we are withdrawing past the burning Kämärä station and in one crossroads we start reassembling our troops. Also Lagus' tanks are retreating to new positions. We are surprised by ten ground attack aircraft attacking from the rear. They are strafing us intensely with MG s and cannons. We take cover in the road ditch. Shells are exploding in the trees in front of us and everywhere around. Earth is billowing around us, I feel a thud and at the very moment Pvt. Karppinen yells:
-I am hit!
He dashes up but falls down having run some 20m, his chest had been pierced by a splinter. He hailed from North somewhere. My consciousness is getting dimmer, I am badly wounded, I try to get up but fall down, my legs won't bear me. One of the attacking aircraft is going down, leaving a trail of smoke.

I am lying prone and feel warm blood flowing from my head blinding my eyes. Feeling myself to find out how I am I note that the left side of my body is wounded and blood-soaked. Feeling my chest and stomach I detect no bleeding. So not too bad if only I could be bandaged soon, and the wound of my head may not be severe after all since I have not lost consciousness. My mouth is dry, the battle is going on, I am trying to drag myself in the cover of a boulder. I am calling for a paramedic but around me I can see but fallen and wounded men. My pals are groaning and I can see how the men of my outfit are retreating.

Despair takes me over as sounds of infantry arms start emerging. Shall I be abandoned to the enemy? Not alive, that is my firm decision. Remembering the praying outfit : “Bless and protect us”. Indeed, am I so sinful that I am in this manner given a reminder of being a mortal? I am thinking of my home, my wife and daughter there. I am feeling my forces ebbing as I finally spot that Lagus' men are emerging from the edge of the forest. I gain new hope and shout them that there are wounded over here. The men carry us right on lorries and take us to the Lagus' Division supply point. Their stores are on wheels and we are unloaded next to a 6” field gun.

General Autti comes to us to check the situation. He spots me, comes to me and seeing on my sleeve the “25” insignia he asks:
-Well, what happened, how are you in this outfit?
I make him a brief report and Autti comments:
-Right, but when you shall be recovered you will be tougher than ever.
-Yes, General, Sir, I respond.. Actually I was thinking that what is broken is broken even though reinforced with iron.

The stretchers are loaded in a lorry and we head for Viipuri. We try to get there via the coastal road but the route has been cut off by the enemy. We are driving through open fields and get engaged by three ground attack planes. Our lorry is driving fast, the road is bending, we are fired at with MG s but they are missing us. We arrive at Viipuri but the town has been evacuated. The next stop is at the schoolhouse in Tienhaara where we find the first C.C.S. There we are bandaged again and well taken care of.

Thank you, Lottas and nurses! Again we are loaded in ambulances that take us from hospital to hospital. A couple of months later I found myself again in front line duty -at Ihantala.

War dead database extract

Karppinen, Reino Paavali ; Rank Private ; B. 22.11.1915 Sotkamo ;KIA 19.06.1944 Summa, Kuolemajärvi ;Age 28 ;JR 25 ;KIA, his body was left on the field or disappeared ; Grave in Sotkamo ; Profession: labourer.

I/JR25 war diary extract, to describe the official view of the fighting
(Exceptionally good handwriting)

First page: The Battalion war diary covering 1.-15.June 1944 was lost in Summankylä.

16.June 1944
06.00hrs
Btn disembarkation from the train at Kämärä station started. Despite travel weariness the unloading was carried out quickly and after a brief pause the Btn CO Maj. R: Groundstroem gave a briefing to his Coy CO s the Btn (-2.K) started their march to new tasks.
12.15hrs
Btn passed the marching threshold at Kämärä.
Route: Kämärä -Munasuo -Kaukjärvi.
Marching order: Jaeger Platoon, 1.K with subordinated MG platoon, HQ, 3.K with subordinated rest of the MG platoon and finally the Mortar platoon. Baggage train followed led by Capt. L Brunner.
The march took place without problems and having arrived at Kaukjärvi the Btn set up defences on the sector: right limit Kaukjärvi, left limit Mustakorpi -Majakorpi M. (snip)
1.K with on the right at the road and 3.K on the left, their neighbour is II Btn.
Mortar platoon fire positions at the Kaukjärvi bivouac area, main firing direction at the Kaukjärvi -Uusikirkko road.
Urgent field fortification work was started at once because the entire line was totally lacking any kind of positions.
Btn C.P. By the Kaukjärvi -Mustakorpi road.
Battalion strength on the 16.6.1944:
Nominal 28+150+791= 969
Present 25+128+670 =823
Fighting 25+97+525 =647
17.6.1944
In the small hours arrived 2.K that had been ordered to embark on another train. The Coy was taken as the Btn reserve and bivouacked E of the C.P. ½ km off.
Starting from the morning the enemy aerial activities was active, partly ground attack planes at our first line.
The effect of ground attack planes as a new weapon is morally considerable, creating fear in the men. Also the groups of men retreating in a scattered manner from Uusikirkko direction have a depressing effect.
Field fortification work was feverishly continued as the noise of battle kept approaching our sector.
In the evening on the sector of our right hand neighbour on the W shore of lake Kaukjärvi in the direction of the Kuolemajärvi -Iivanala road enemy tanks managed to break through.
To eliminate this flank threat Maj. Groundstroem sent the Jaeger Platoon led by 2nd Lt. Saarinen to the N tip of lake Kaukjärvi tasked to destroy the bridge of the Iivanala -Perkjärvi road and secure the direction of this road.
Due to heavy enemy fire the task could not be accomplished since the enemy tanks were already at the bridge.
To secure more effectively against the emerged flank threat Maj. G. sent the 2nd Coy led by Capt. Metsola to secure the shore of Lake Kaukjärvi. Also 2nd Lt. Heiniö was tasked to despite all try to destroy the bridge. As the Coy was approaching their target enemy tanks were already rolling over the bridge. Then the enemy tanks, using the Kaukjärvi -Leppäniemi road drove up to Kaukjärvi village while some of them headed for the road to Perkjärvi.
The tanks that had penetrated in our rear, 5 of them, generated by their sudden appearance a tank panic in our line, consequently we had to leave our positions at about 1900hrs.
A detachment was assembled from 5.K and some scattered outfits that had disengaged from their positions, supported by 2 AT guns of 17.Tyk.K. Capt. Hyttinen launched a counterstrike, destroying with the AT guns and mines 2 T-34, 2 possibly T-26 and damaged one KV, in addition destroying some 40 Russkies.
Nominal strength 28+150+791= 969
Present 25+128+670 =823
Fighting 25+97+525 =647
Casualties: 2 WIA.
18.6.1944
03.20hrs
Fighting had to be ended and in accordance with Regimental orders the Btn disengaged. The marching went W of Munasuo to Summa where positions were received at 1800hrs from 3.Pr. Maj. Groundstroem ordered Capt. Hyytinen to command the Battalion.
Battalion settled in defence in Summankylä so that on the right there was 3.K and on the left 2.K. 1.K was in the rear as reserve, Mortar platoon in positions by the Summa -Huumola road, the main firing direction the road. On our right JR 48, on our left II Btn.
Enemy pressure with tanks and artillery at the road was strong but was suppressed by our artillery fire-
Nominal 28+150+791= 969
Present 25+128+668 =821
Fighting 25+97+523 =645
Casualties: KIA 1, WIA 7, MIA 1.
19.6.1944
11.00hrs
Enemy fire preparation started, in vehemence next to none, participated by a huge quantity of artillery, mortars, tanks and air force. It was directed at the positions of the Winter war period, now retaken in use by us. The old already exploded bunkers were shaking and quaking, it was densely raining earth, rocks, peat and sand but the line held although one could have expected that nothing living could function in such a storm.
Capt. Hyytinen distributed before the enemy had launched their preparation to the Coy CO s the delay plan as in the Regimental order, it was to be implemented after a dedicated order.
In the appendix the order with transparent drawing.
12.00hrs
With the enemy strafe at its height the Btn C.P. Bunker received a radioed enquiry from the Regiment concerning the situation whereby the Rgt CO informed that he is going to issue the withdrawal order soon. After the contact was cut off the Btn received the disengaging order at
12.36hrs.
Disengaging was utmost difficult due to heavy enemy pressure. Enemy tanks charged in our positions firing intensely and withdrawal under the enemy shelling directed at our rear was troublesome. Btn CO Maj. G and two of the Btn runners who had stayed in the Btn C.P. Bunker that was almost in the front line by the road, managed to extricate themselves almost by wonder despite the fact that their withdrawal route was under heavy infantry arms fire.
As ordered the Btn took delaying positions in Huumola village, continuing to delay the enemy in constant firefight up to Säiniö village South of Näykkijärvi. I and III Btns were liaised S of Näykkijärvi. Delaying continued up to 2200hrs when the Btn disengaged from the enemy and marched to Säiniö where delaying action was continued supported by four tanks.
Nominal 28+150+787= 967
Present 24+130+679 =833
Fighting 21+95+517 =633
Casualties: KIA 8, WIA 16, MIA 1.

(end of day)

Lotvonen
Member
Posts: 778
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 07 Apr 2021 05:11

Urpo Arhosuo

Journal “Kansa Taisteli”, 08, 1962

Assisting Wehrmacht in 1942 in Salla area. Another story by U.Arhosuo alias pen-name “Esa Anttala”.

-In this field fortification the only thing to fear is an earthquake, Lt. Määttänen exclaimed as we had arrived in the German stronghold N of Salla in early October 1942. In the middle of a large open bog there was a patch of forest , surrounded by multiple wire hindrances. A complete trench had been dug around the hillock, communications trench and covered weapons nest were included. With deep dug dugouts and an observation pylon in the middle of the hillock this field stronghold appeared to be indefatigable. Moreover, the entire wide bog had been mined throughout in the German manner and it had taken a long time before we managed to reach the stronghold led by several guides. In our lines we never had seen such meticulousness. It was not likely that any living creature would be able to get in unnoticed during the day, much less during the night.

Germans had requested for our help and we were tasked to reconnoitre the enemy in their sector of the front – Salla. Skill to move around in the wilderness was not their strong side and that is why our presence obviously pleased them. Staying overnight at their C.P. Near Salla we had experienced overflowing hospitality from their side. Next morning when leaving for the field stronghold I would like to have cried out like our brothers in arms:
-Oh, mein armer Kopf !

We had left Syväri with 12 men and we had been reinforced at Rovaniemi by the "Paatsalo outfit". Now our number was 38 men , and Lt. Määttänen was the leader of our patrol. In these tremendously wide wilderness areas even strong patrols found space enough and in case of a battle the wounded could be evacuated to our lines. Even though the open sparse forest felt safe there were several lurking dangers. The enemy might be observing diligently from some hilltop and strike at an unsuspecting patrol. War in the wilderness was pitiless, it was a man to man fight to the finish followed by a quick disengaging in the cover of rocky terrain. Men inexperienced in wilderness fighting were mercilessly defeated. Germans were aware of this fact and that is why they had equipped this field stronghold with every means possible.

We were used to getting from our field strongholds accurate information about the enemy, their strongholds, troop strength, patrolling patterns and many other facts which were often vital for the success of the initial leg of the mission. To our disappointment we found out that the Germans did not have even the minimal information about the enemy facing them. The stronghold CO told that they had carried out patrolling missions but without encountering anyone. He also ordered his escort patrol to guide us in the outset of our mission.

We promised to visit the field stronghold when returning to share with him our observations about the enemy. Again several guides were needed to cross the mined bog to the forest. The German escort patrol was marching in front of us but after two kilometre the Germans started nervously glancing at each other and slowing down. We estimated that they had spotted some signs of the enemy and asked what was the reason for their odd behaviour

-We never patrolled this far and the entire terrain is unknown to us, one of them said.
Our Patrol Leader advised them to return to the field stronghold as soon as possible and we no more wondered why they were lacking information about the enemy. The Germans accepted with pleasure our advise and soon turned back.

The short autumn day of the North made us, too, haste for our distant objective: Kantalahti [Kandalaksha]. The men from the South who were for the first time in the North found the landscapes admirable. When looking around from the tops of high hills it seemed that all the forest of the world had been assembled here. At nightfall during clear weather the scenery turned even better. Countless standing dead resinous pines provided excellent material for log fire and staying overnight in a lean-to resembled being in a bedroom due to the even heat.

Sentries were able to enjoy the sight of aurorae, flaming in most wonderful combinations of colour and turning the landscape into something out of a fairytale.

When reaching Salla there was snow on the ground in several spots and the farther to the east we marched the deeper the snow cover was. A freezing wind was blowing from the hills and there was no telling if the snow would melt. Since the valleys and low lying ground were covered with calf deep snow we used the higher ground which was partly bare, hiding our tracks.

On the fourth day of our mission in the evening it started snowing hard. Again we set up lean-tos and liaised the base over wireless. We were told to return immediately because aerial recon had found out that our target was covered by a thick unified snow layer. We most likely would not be able to accomplish our mission because our tracks would be spotted by the enemy. To avoid casualties the Germans hoped that we would return soonest and the meteorologists were predicting constant snowfall.

We were disappointed because we had not yet met one single enemy to have a chance to take a prisoner to provide even some data about the enemy. Would this be the extent of our helping the brothers in arms, we were fretting in our minds during the heavy snowstorm in our lean-to

But our disappointment was too early and maybe the snowstorm was our luck and saved us from a major trouble. You see, there was an enemy two hundred man border guard elite outfit bivouacking in the neighbourhood as we were to find out soon.

This night no one was eager to be a sentry because snow was beating his face. Stints were shortened but in the small hours snowing began to die down. Then, suddenly a shot rang out at the edge of our bivouacking area. It was agreed that the sentry would alert by a shot and in a blink of the eye every man was out of the area illuminated by the fire, hoping to get to fight at least once in this vain mission. We were just waiting for the enemy to get in our view. After a while the sentry came and told that his weapon had gone off by accident. Disappointed we returned to our lean-tos to continue our interrupted sleep, cursing at the sentry. But, the enemy, too, had heard the shot.

As we woke up in the morning it had ceased snowing. A white cover enveloped the terrain all over. We started our journey home. After a while we arrived at a piece of open ground with an abandoned enemy shed village on it, we had checked it the previous evening. There had been trenches between the sheds and several weapons nests by the sides. However, now there were enemies in the sheds. Men wearing wadded jackets were coming and going as if checking them. It was not possible to count the number of the men who were rapidly going to and fro. But we saw our chance. We would be able to reward the Germans for their hospitality and would get something in return for our vain trouble.

We left our backpacks in the cover of the forest and two unwilling sentries at them. No one would have wanted to be left out of the show that was about to start. We were ordered to surround the entire area and launch a simultaneous attack at the sheds.
-Do not shoot all of them, Määttänen warned us, we shall take some prisoners.

But if we had imagined to take a prisoner so soon we were to find out that the Vanyas here were not the usual ones who would put their hands up before one had managed to order them to do so. These were elite troops who would fight like men to the very end.

Scarcely had our outfit fanned out to the perimeter of the open ground and launched our attack as the enemies found themselves surrounded. Quick as weasels they dropped in their trench and opened fire with their American 11mm SMGs. Heavy bullets were smacking against trees at the edge of the forest.
-Wow, one of those would carve an ugly hole if it hit you, Määttänen opined.
The show had taken a nasty turn.

Our men were in jump-off positions at the perimeter as the patrol leader yelled:
-Go get them!

The same moment we dashed to the open ground. Ear-splitting yelling and shooting was heard in every quarter as our lads were dashing at the village. The enemies were slipping with phenomenal speed from one weapons nest to the other and returned our fire with ever increasing rate. Our orders to surrender were met with angry bursts.

In their prepared positions they were almost completely in cover from our fire which was far from accurate as we were running. Also we were not able to shoot carelessly as to not hurt each other when we were closing in from every direction. The turn of the situation was not in our favour because we had not expected the enemy to continue resistance having realised their hopeless situation. But we could not stop, however, instead we would have to try to break through into the trench soonest and fight it out there.

I was running next to our CO and saw that one of us, Cpl. Ruuth, famous for his antics and his courage, had run faster than the rest of his squad and was now speedily heading for the end of the trench while shooting furiously. But the enemies, too, had spotted this and in a flash one of them dashed to the end of the trench and opened up furiously to deny us entry in the trench. Ruuth was looking like a clear case and defying every danger I stopped for a moment on the open ground, providing a target, and fired a burst at the head of the enemy poking over the parapet. I had hoped to take out the man but I was miserably disappointed. Another burst rang out and at the same moment Ruuth fell face first on the ground. I was in my mind cursing my bad aim and in blind anger dashed at this relentless shooter.

Terrible banging and noise was going on all over the place and I had no time to look around because I had decided to get that man. Firing wildly I approached the man and I found myself next to the trench as his SMG was jammed or his mag empty. The very same moment Ruuth jumped up and bounced like a tiger at the man, kicking the enemy gun out of his hand while yelling:
-You tried to kill me, what?
The next second he was grabbing the man in the trench. Immediately I joined him, delighted in seeing that Ruuth had simply stumbled while running instead of being hit as I had feared. My help was not needed, however: the man died of his wounds in our hands. My bursts had hit him, after all, although this gutsy man had kept firing even though death was clouding his vision. That is why he had not hit Ruuth as he was running. We took a look at his weapon: a live cartridge was poking out of the ejecting cutout.

Now we started rolling the trench because some of us had managed to get in there. Although the situation was now so hopeless for the enemy none of them gave up fighting. Wadded jackets just flashed at the bends of the trench and SMGs were being used with an admirable skill. It is really a miracle that we got away with it since our weapons were being used actively and we may well have hurt each other. After our lads had broken into the trench it did not take long before the battle was over and the enemies, fighting to the very last, were defeated. Only one of the enemies was found to be conscious enough to be interrogated. A couple of us, too had been wounded and the paramedics escorted them to our rear to be administered first aid. There was a silence after the battle had subsided. It had been more ferocious than any of which we had experienced.

The wounded enemy informed us that their bivouac, some 600 to 700 m off, comprised now some 200 men and a little more off even more. This ten man patrol had been tasked to find out who had fired the shot last night. They had thought we would be in the shacks and were just checking them. We found out many facts before the prisoner's death but it is understandable that then we were in a hurry to get underway. We estimated that the main force of the enemy was already approaching and if they all were fighters of the same calibre - which we did not doubt - we had to get out of there and soon.

Fortunately the wounds of our WIA were mild cases and did not hamper our mobility. At a distance of less than two kilometre there was a minor river cutting across our route and we were making haste to get across before the enemy would close in. They had an easy task in following our tracks in the snow and we were fearing for the worst. Our CO sent some lads to run to the river to prepare our crossing. They cut down a couple of dead pines to make a kind of floating bridge across the water. We even had time to dismantle it before the enemy was there. However it was not yet the moment to engage the enemy because at a distance of 4 kilometres there was another, wider river. It could not be crossed but by using inflatable crafts but we only had two of them with us.

Again Määttänen sent some men to prepare for our crossing the river while we secured the rear, waiting for the enemy. These fast flowing northern rivers were quite a nuisance because they might create bad problems for us. We reached the river again before the enemy did and after a while everyone was across. Then we were able to breathe out with relief since we knew that in the wilderness we would be able to deal even with the fiercest enemies. During the entire return journey we did not spot anyone pursuing us. It was as if the rivers had held them back.

We were quite surprised when we had made it back to the German field stronghold, they already knew about our skirmish and even the enemy casualties. We were also told that the CO of the enemy outfit, a Russian Captain, was strictly admonished by his superiors for letting us slip “unpunished”. The entire enemy outfit had been made to train river crossings for a fortnight. The results of our mission were minimal, but the Germans appeared to be fine with it.

Detachment Paatsalo was subordinated to GHQ Intelligence Division tasked to carry out long range patrolling and reconnoitring in the North of Finland front.
Most likely Soviet radio communications had been intercepted.

Lotvonen
Member
Posts: 778
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 10 Apr 2021 06:14

R.E. Laakkonen

Machine gunners in Teikari, summer 1944

Journal "Kansa Taisteli", 08, 1962

80.TK/RTR22. Teikari and Teikarinsaari or Teikarsaari are synonyms. The outfit was hastily set up and armed mostly with non-standard weapons which were available.

The battles on the Carelian Isthmus in early summer 1944 had escalated into a violent landslide that in mid-June started approaching Viipurinlahti bay. More troops were needed there and soon, for this purpose on the 16th June 1944 80.TK (detached Company) was set up consisting of the 56 students of the 24th NCO course and replacements taken from the Naval bases in Helsinki and Turku. They were immediately transferred to Katajanokka barracks in Helsinki where 30 lorries were waiting to take the Coy to the East. The Navy CO, Gen. V. Valve with his retinue was there to escort us.

As soon as our Coy, led by Lt. V. Veijalainen, had arrived at Säkkijärvi, we bivouacked at the edge of the village for air cover. The Coy was organized into platoons and squads. Our platoon was led by 2nd Lt. Salmi who had complete an officer course in the Naval Warfare School. I was given a German 7,9mm MG (MG_08) and my pal Behm from my course was posted as the gun-layer. The rest of the men were from the Turku naval base. Machine gun training was started at once.

After our meal we were taken on lorries in the evening dusk to Vilaniemi where the Coy took positions along the East coast. In the evening of the Midsummer day we received orders to move to Sarsaparilla on motor-boats. There was a thin cloud layer which combined with the midnight dusk protected us from the enemy observation. Since we did not know for sure how far the enemy had advanced on the islands we were experiencing a bit of thrill during the voyage. Yet we landed successfully. We were accommodated in civilian houses in several of which were untouched, including the private property inside

The next day we settled into positions and started improving them. I split my squad so that some of them were always occupied in building the fortifications and the rest in machine gun manipulation and shooting training. The days following the Midsummer were sunny and hot, making it hard to work. My men kept commenting on it to me but I very well remembered the lessons of the Winter War. I advised them to remember the old truth: Sweat saves blood.

To begin with we dug our weapons nests, so deep that we were able to shoot standing up. After that we started working on log reinforcement. We had ample good material on the island because a storm had pushed down sturdy fir trees. On the roofs we did not put anything below ten inches in diameter. On that we piled big rocks and on them gravel and dirt, again another layer of logs, fir boughs, earth and rocks. Finally we camouflaged everything with bushes and moss. We covered the embrasures with camo netting and a thin layer of moss on it. -Since our trench was on a slope facing the enemy we also needed a covered communications trench. Finally everyone had to dig a personal foxhole off the trench.

IT was the last day of June and the summer was its peak of beauty. We had ended our work for the day and were sitting at the beach of the calm sea, chatting. It was a little before 2300hrs as a Runner arrived, out of breath, he was relaying an order to man the positions. He also informed that some 24 vessels were coming from the direction of Makslahti, and a landing on Teikari was expected.

Soon the first shells whistled overhead and direct fire weapons started firing at the waterfront where our positions were. Shells were bursting on trees and billowing the ground around us. I ordered my men to take cover and left just one to observe from his foxhole. Shelling went on without respite until 0300hrs (1.7.44) when the sentry reported that two fast motor-boats were approaching the island. I hurried there to look and saw that the boats were laying a smokescreen.

The enemy was successful in launching the smokescreen because the weak wind was carrying the smoke toward our island. Our tension turned to peak because we knew that the enemy would be arriving in the cover of the smoke. I told my gunner to keep his thumbs on the trigger. I was out of the weapons nest, observing the firing area.

Soon a motor noise was heard and as the smokescreen reached our beach the bow of a large motor-boat appeared in the middle of our firing area. The water was shallow there so the fully laden motor-boat hit the bottom about 10m from the waterline. I ordered: “Set sights at 200, fire!” but the MG stayed quiet. Quickly I bounced in the weapons nest and found my gun-layer Behm on the ground, weeping. Now there was no time to lose. I lifted Behm aside, aimed the gun and pushed the trigger. By now some of the enemies had managed to jump in the water which was waist-deep. The fire hit the target and not a single enemy on our sector made it ashore. Then I turned the weapon at the boat and fired long bursts so that water was spraying next to the boat. I raised and lowered my aim so that also the boat deck was swept.

Finally no one was seen in the firing sector nor in the boat which was now fully shrouded in smoke, but seen as a dark lump. I was much surprised as the engine was started suddenly and the boat vanished in the smoke. Intense sound of fighting was emerging from the S tip of the island so I guessed that the focal point of the enemy attack was there.
By the by the smokescreen dissipated and we saw some 20 various types of ships on the strait between Pullinniemi and Teikari.

In the meanwhile a supporting detachment had been sent from the mainland and they carried out a quick counterstrike supported by artillery, pushing the enemy in the sea. The strike of the detachment was exemplary. They advanced courageously up to the danger area of our shelling and as soon as the shelling was shifted on the first men were engaging the enemy line while the rest were providing support fire. Also our artillery strike hit spot on and without it the counterstrike would not have been feasible.

By the morning of the 1st July Teikari island was free from enemies. We held our old positions. Replenished our ammunition, gathered the fallen men and had our morning tea, albeit a little late from schedule. We had suffered considerable casualties, some of our best course mates had fallen and more wounded.

The enemy again started shelling from their ships and Pullinniemi in the evening of the 1st July. Their vessels were placed out of the range of our artillery. We tried to make maximal use of the respite because we guessed that the worst was still to come.

Before getting some sleep in the evening of the 2nd July we were ordered to sweep the entire island because it was suspected that there was an enemy F.O.O there. However we had not yet moved on before the enemy F.O.O. Was brought to the Btn C.P. In the evening we were summoned on a piece of open ground . Col. Lyytinen arrived to distribute decorations to the distinguished ones. The ceremony was interrupted by a battle alert by a siren. Squad leaders were summoned to a briefing by their Coy CO s and we were told that some 80 vessels, in three formations, were on their way from Koivisto to Makslahti. Only the first formation was to be mentioned to the men. Having heard the news the men opined that it was not a big deal, the previous enemy attempt had comprised two vessels more. Unfortunately we were not allowed to keep our previous MG position.

Enemy shelling increased since the midnight of 3rd/4th July. The Company took cover in cellars and house fundaments. We were assigned a cellar with a door-less entrance in the direction of the enemy, every shot was heard as if through a loudspeaker. At dusk ground attack planes came, flying low, shooting every building in flames one by one and limiting our movement to a minimum. In the early hours started an aerial bombardment that made the ground sway. We estimated that soon every man would have to do his best.

In the morning of 4th July enemy batteries and ships started firing with every weapon. So the landing was near. We hurried in our positions. Due to shelling we had to take cover
while running. When we reached our positions a Runner of our neighbouring outfit told that the enemy had landed in the S tip and was advancing toward the middle part of the island. At the same time another enemy outfit was landing on our sector. I rallied every man at hand and set up a line in the cover of a stone fence. We managed to halt the enemy there whereby they continued advancing on our left.

To the right there were the standing walls of an old stone cow shed providing an excellent position for us. We moved in without delay. The Half-Platoon leader Trainee Lehtonen and Trainee Koivunen also joined our “fortress”. Every man was direly needed because landing craft were cruising about, trying to land men every now an then. There was one heading right for us. Lehtonen, being the best shot, drew a bead at the helmsman and it was a bullseye. Our outfit also had one LMG and we set up a position for it at the wall with the help of long planks.

Enemy snipers were a nuisance. One bullet slapped at a stone next to the LMG gunner's head. We estimated that the enemy sniper was hiding in the attic of a sauna situated in front of us to the left. I advised the LMG man to fire short bursts there and it worked.

Another time I heard our LMG gunner fire a burst and then report a feeding error. I removed the mag and found that the mag loader had in his haste used different calibres of ammunition. No wonder because we had rifles of 6,5 mm (Swedish M96) and 7,62mm (Mosin), LMGs of 7,9mm (FN mod. D?) and 9.00mm SMGs.

It was evening. Fatigue and hunger started plaguing us. We had not slept for two nights. In the evening of the 3rd we had been given tea and now it was the evening of the 4th. Some of us had crispbread which we shared and ate as we now had the time.

The enemy had landed heavy mortars which they now were deploying with good effect. One strafe hit just next to us. Since the trajectory of mortar shells is very steep we could see them coming in. Quickly we took cover because judging by the whine the hits would be again next to us. Earth was shaking and flying around us. The enemy may have fired 20 to 30 rounds. As the shelling ended, we estimated the centre point of the hits had been some 50 m off from us.

All the day on the 4yh July there was an uninterrupted noise of shooting in the S tip of the island. Wounded were being carried to the rear constantly. In the evening Maj. Myntti's Runner came to tell us that in the cover of the dusk a counterstrike would be launched. After a while Maj. Myntti came in person and said that let's throw the enemy in the sea so that we can get some sleep.

While some of our men stayed there to support our advance with their fire we launched the counterstrike. There were about ten men who crossed a small open ground spot and reached the edge of the forest. There a 2nd Lieut rallied his men and we started advancing together. I agreed with Lehtonen and Koivunen to stay in visual contact. The forest soil was covered by thick undergrowth that had burned but still smoking, the acrid smoke disturbed observation. We soon lost sight of the others. Every auto weapon appeared to be active. Bullets were whining and bullets were snapped off all around us.

I had in addition to my rifle a SMG which was given to me by a wounded 2nd Lieut with three full mags in my bread pouch. It was hampering my advance by dashes and admitting that I would not be able to carry on much longer so, I stood up and used the SMG.

Then we reached the edge of a piece of open ground, with a summer house in the middle of it. I just managed to warn Lehtonen and Koivunen about the house facing us as I spotted an enemy aiming at me from the front to the right, from the cover of a cellar at a distance of some 40m. I whipped around and holding the SMG under my arm pulled the trigger. My burst hit the stones of the cellar but at the same time there was a blow at my left knee knocking me down. Both of us had fired at the same moment, the neighbour with better success.

I had passed out, maybe partly due to defusing of nervous tension. As I came to Lehtonen and Koivunen were bandaging my left knee pierced by a bullet. In the meanwhile Lehtonen had eliminated the mentioned enemy. The lads carried me to the C.C.S. Using a makeshift stretcher constructed of belts. The journey was most difficult over fallen trees and shell holes.

That was the end of that counterstrike because the enemy had been reinforced and was advancing to the N part of the island still in Finnish hands through which the wounded were evacuated and the mainland liaised. I had to wait about four hours on the island, wounded.

Initially I was placed in a makeshift dugout but asked to be carried out of there. A moment later the dugout took a square hit. Then I believed G-d had decided to order me still something to do in this life. I was unconscious as the lads lifted me on the foredeck of an overloaded motor-boat where I came to near Vilaniemi as waves were washing over me.

That was the end of my fighting in Teikarsaari in July 1944. I am saluting the other students of mu course who made the supreme sacrifice. Their names can be found on the black marble plate on the wall of the hall of the Naval Warfare School.


For comparison and due to lack of relevant enough war diary here is a contemporary comment by an expert:

Col. Lt. Juha Mälkki
Teikarsaari 1944

“Rannikon Puolustaja” 3, 2019

Coastal Artillery Regiment Rannikkotykistörykmentti 22 (RTR 22) was set up at the mouth of Viipurinlahti on the 16th June1944. It was subordinated to the Eastern Finland Coastal Brigade (ISuom.RPr). The Regiment included four fortification battalions of which the 4th was stationed on the forward strongholds of Teikarsaari (Teikari/nsaari) and Melansaari. The fighting outfits comprised the 80. and 42. Torjuntakomppania (TK) and III/7. RP (Coastal Battalion).The heavy batteries of each Battalion were fused into one, the 1st Motorised Coastal Artillery Battalion.

59th Soviet Army launched during 1st to 5th July 1944 three attacks at Teikarinsaari. Simultaneously fighting was going on in Uuraa area nearby. Teikarinsaari was invaded on the 1st July after fire preparation by about one battalion which was wiped out the same day. The enemy left behind 326 men KIA and POW. The defenders lost 117 men in casualties. The defence of the island had been increased with three Companies during the enemy landing. By now it was expected that the Soviet troops would direct their attack to the mainland via Uuras. To face this threat the defenders of the mainland had been reinforced with the German 122.D “Greif” .

Another attack at Teikarinsaari was launched the next morning 2nd July after a fire preparation. Hundreds of Soviet ground attack aircraft raided the islands heavily suppressign the Finnish heavy weapons. One Marine regiment was deployed by the enemy for the landing. At Melansaari about one Marine battalion landed, they were successfully eliminated after heavy fighting.

Teikarinsaari defence was again reinforced with an outfit of an understrength Battalion. With intense counter-attacks Finns managed to defeat the enemy by the 5th July morning. Some 1000 Soviet soldiers had fallen. Finnish casualties were heavy, too: about 350 men. Some 600 men remained in the ranks.

In this critical phase another yet more intense fire preparation was launched at Teikarinsaari. Two enemy regiments landed, a superior force against the fatigued Finnish troops. The defence of the Southern and middle parts of the island was abandoned immediately. Disorganised and leaderless tired defenders of the island were scattered and retreated to the North part of the island. At this moment the CO of the island Maj. V. Myntti requested permission to disengage. He managed to start the disengagement at 1100hrs before falling at 1130hrs and only three hours before the CO of the Navy granted the official permission to give up the island (1400hrs). Having faced great difficulties most of the troops managed to get across to the mainland.

During this critical period the Light Navy Detachment was advancing to Viipurinlahti to support the defence but was incapacitated by the enemy. Almost every navy vessel participating in the battle was damaged so much that they were rendered unable to fight. Three gunboats and two auxiliary gunboats were the main casualties. Also the participating German gun launches were damaged. After the Light Navy Detachment had been suppressed our surface fleet was reduced to Detachment Väinämöinen. The Finnish naval front was totally dependent on the support of Kriegsmarine surface vessels.

Nine Companies had been deployed in the defence of Teikarinsaari which was all that RTR 22 had at their disposal. The troops lost all of their heavy equipment and had a casualty rate of some 50 per cent. 300 men were KIA, and more than 500 WIA.


War dead database extract:

Myntti, Viljo Uljas ; Rank: Major ; b.01.09.1907 in Vaasa ; KIA 05.07.1944 Teikarsaari, Säkkijärvi ; Age 36 ; Outfit: Erillinen rannikkotykistölinnakkeisto, Esikunta ; KIA, evacuated, buried ; Grave in Hämeenlinna, Ahvenisto ; Profession: Officer.

Battle of Melansaari: See topic Re: Bay of Viipuri (Vyborg) 1944
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