Personal Finnish War Stories

Discussions on the Winter War and Continuation War, the wars between Finland and the USSR.
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Re: Personal Finnish War Stories, another instalment

Post by Lotvonen » 11 Dec 2022 06:33

Lauri Leikkonen

Crispbread “kettle”

Magazine “Kansa Taisteli”, 04, 1963

Fighting in Kiestinki in late 1941, JR 14, II Battalion, 4.K
[“kettle” (adapted from German term : Kessel) = “motti”]

It is the morning of the 1st November 1941. Now is about to be launched the attack that has been whispered about here at Kiestinki. Artillery and mortars have started before dawn to dump metal at the designated breakthrough point. II/JR14 is for now just waiting. It is others who shall break through and our task is to advance to the left from that breach, into the rear of the enemy.

Sounds of infantry arms fire start emerging from the front. Every now and then there is a hollow bang. Satchel charges or mines ? Soon a sad procession to the rear emerges. Men, with their snow-suit trousers in shreds and black due to bog mud and mine explosions, the luckier ones are limping supported by others, the more serious cases are being hauled on ahkio sleds. A young officer is hauled past us. He is wearing a new white sheepskin fur coat. His face is reflecting pain and pale, he is keeping one hand pressed at his breast. The men of 4.K are watching quietly the journey of the men whose battle has been ended early this morning.

Suddenly we no more are just spectators. Enemy understands that there are troops behind the breakthrough point, waiting for their turn. There is a rumble somewhere far away, whining sound is increasing and frozen ground is shaken by explosions near to us. Soon the same is repeated. We really should be allowed to get going. Now there are explosions somewhere at the head of the Battalion and soon the MG Coy CO Capt. Ollitervo emerges with bloodied face to seek help.

To spare my Coy from taking unnecessary casualties I pull them two hundred meters to the rear at my own initiative. I leave some men behind to receive and forward the expected order to proceed by Maj. Heino. Behind us I meet a I Battalion officer waiting their turn, my school mate Lt. “Lati” Lehtinen. We sit down on a fallen tree trunk to chat and listen. “Long time no see”: years ago I was sitting in the Helsinki football field grandstand as Lehtinen was playing in the national team against Sweden, scoring several times. Now I am thanking him for his prowess and at the same time I am able, for a moment, to forget the present business we are involved in.

There comes the order to start off. In a sparse row we are striding through terrain plown by shells. “Look out, mines!” someone is heard to shout. It is wisest to step on the footsteps once trodden. There is a crash under some MG men ahead of us, it seems that the journey of that MG team ended there this time. There is a POW escorted past us, his mien is still shocked. There is the first of our fallen men. A white horse and the driver, presumably killed by the same mine, are lying in sooty snow.

My mind is relieved as my Coy has passed the mined bog depression without casualties. We are passing some bunkers. They appear not to have been damaged by shelling. There are some men observing the terrain on the right.
-Our Corporal was killed, I hear a hasty shout.
We go on past the squad that lost their Cpl. Sounds of fighting are emerging ahead of us, quite distant already.

Now it is the moment to start our task. We leave the path trodden by our troops heading NE and head for North and then slowly for West. The target is to cut off one or one and a half kilometre of enemy front line by attacking from the rear. Our 6.K led by Capt. Sauli leaves us and soon sounds of fighting start emerging from that direction.

By chance we hit a path trodden by the enemy and that should lead us to our objective. Now some shots aimed at us ring out, the Coy fans out to attack. We are advancing by carefully creeping and dashing. The enemy is not seen but we are being fired at at a close range from the cover of the snowy forest. From the left, overpowering the sounds of shots, can be heard Lt. Parkkinen's voice. The lieut himself has chosen to be a LMG gunner. With a stern mien he is yanking the loading lever of his gun – apparently a stoppage. Next the LMG starts chattering. I can see the burst sweeping the enemy trench. The very same moment Parkkinen is stopped in his tracks as he takes a bullet in his thigh. There is a ahkio nearby and the lieut can be evacuated. He is shaking my hand for goodbye and as if excusing says:
-This action was interrupted too soon.

Our LMG is still sweeping the Russian trench. A couple of Russians are able to slip up the trench avoiding Lt. Mikkola's advancing platoon on our left. The other enemies yield to the right and so we have taken a small stretch of the trench. The other enemies evaded us to the right, now a small stretch of the trench is in our hands.

I do not have visual contact with Niemelä's men attacking on our right. I send my dapper Runner NCO Gustavsson to inform that I am starting to roll up the trench. There is a risk that we could get under each others' fire. The man dashes off. Bullets are shaking branches all around him but he is successful.

Having made it into the trench I am perplexed for a moment: in which direction to advance because the trench is forking in more than two directions. Just then Pvt. Tammelin runs to me:
-What shall we do ? There is a dugout, full of Russians.
I am jumping over our men crouching in the trench. Tammelin, shortish in stature, is so excited that he is not content to follow me but jumps up on the parados to pass me. The same moment a shot rings out very close, Tammelin sacks down in the trench having taken a bullet in his stomach. A Russian, hiding behind a bush a few meters away, fired the fatal shot and managed to jump in the entrance of a nearby dugout before we managed to return his fire.

Since shouted exhortations to surrender are ignored, the men in the dugout are liquidated by an AT rifle fired by Lt. Mikkola, bursts of SMG fire and hand grenades. Only one of them survives, protected by a corner of the dugout and shielded by the dead bodies of his comrades. After groaning a while the man creeps out.

My mind is troubled due to our wounded. A shot fired from the dugout before the Russians were destroyed hit Pvt. Närvänen in the head.
-It would have been his turn to get furlough just before our attack, but a scoundrel managed to cheat himself a furlough to attend a burial presenting false information. IT was found out not until he had left, and Närvänen, a family father, had to keep waiting. Now Närvänen appears to be a goner. His countenance is that of a dying man. As the ahkio sled is yanked into motion, the unconscious man's arm falls down, leaving a sweeping mark in snow for goodbye.

Tammelin is conscious and in great pain. He had hurried past me as if to receive the bullet from the bush, now I am helpless to aid him. I am thinking that he shall not survive his wound, true enough a message of his death arrives to us a couple of days later.

We have been only partly successful in fulfilling our mission having by error rolled to North where the trench ends at the perimeter of an open bog. The enemy trench system is so deep that we have taken just their rearmost trench and they have now recovered from their shock. Soon the early dusk is setting an end to further hostilities.

The tent is set up and we are turning in. We manage to liaise with 6.K attacking on our side. Capt. Sauli and his men have had it far tougher than we did. They have taken casualties under heavy fire and after initial success their task has been left unaccomplished. Maybe tomorrow shall bring us success, we are hoping-

It did not happen, however. Enemy is tenaciously sticking to their positions Accurate fire prevents us from advancing and the Russians are bothering us with their artillery. They must have a radio at their front line to direct shelling on us. There is an explosion up a tree above our tent and one man, wounded by a splinter, is sent to the C.C.S. Some mortar men arrive at our tent and the same moment a couple of shrapnels spit their bullets among us. One of our visitor falls down. Paramedics are not able to bandage the wound in his buttocks and the man haemorrhages to death before he can be delivered to better care.

Capt. Kallio, just back from recovering furlough, drops in to brief me. He is brief in his words and with pale face he is telling me when leaving:
-I shall be back tomorrow. I am going to visit the C.C.S.
Kallio rises his arm. His snow-suit is torn by bullets at the armpit and the sleeve is bloodied.

The second day in the rear of the enemy positions is in evening as I decide to check the securing organized for the night once again. I am setting off alone. There is a rumble far in the NE. Hissing sound appears to be coming just at me. I throw myself down and have enough time to feel helpless as the shell howls over me. Sounds are emerging from the impact point. There is the new MG Coy CO, 2nd Lt Porkola who has been in many a tough spot already. Carelessly he has stayed on the parapet while the others ducked in the trench, and the brave men lost his life on the spot.

My night becomes restless. I am sensing that tomorrow the situation must be settled. The objective of our attack is quite far off and we have not finished what was to be accomplished in the first day. IT is still dark as I am setting out with Aspirant Helle, the Jaeger Platoon CO for a small recon tour. I am interested in the open bog on our right wing. Taking a turn via it we might in the cover of darkness find a new unexpected route to attack the enemy.

Helle spots a willow bush at the edge of the bog with his forester's eye. He cuts off a flexible twig. Pushing it in front of him along the earth surface, and lifting it at times through fluffy snow he is seeking mine trigger wires. We step over it but as the twig makes another contact we are turning back. This is not the route to be taken.

At the same moment our attention is caught by a campfire burning on our side of the bog, half covered in the forest a few hundred meters away. Yesterday our patrol did not find there neither friend nor foe. We are sneaking closer. German language is spoken there, and we go to them. There I meet an old acquaintance, Capt. Wolff whom we relieved in September at Suolohko. Wolf tells me that he is ordered to attack with is Coy today across the bog and finish off the “kettle” that we are keeping in check. It is not until now that I realise that the enemy in front of us is deprived of retreat to North, too.

I inform Wolff on the trigger wires we detected and tell him that in my opinion crossing the bog would be quite a destructive attempt for the attacker. It would be advisable not to try at daytime in any case, but preferably at once, now. The German Captain is puffing a thick cigar. He is rather old for this kind of business. I can see he is wearing an Iron Cross dated 1914 on his chest. The men around him on the other hand are young ones. I can see curious boys' faces. Without being shy of their CO these SS youngsters want to snap up every word of our discussion.

Dawn is breaking now. There is a tumult around us. The reason is obvious at once. No one in the patch of forest we found ourselves in remembered to watch the enemy direction and a file of five men is calmly striding right at our campfire. As the surprised Russians spot their error they stick their bayonets in the snow and put up their arms.

I am very curious to learn the news from the “kettle”, and Wolff gives me a chance to interrogate . He has a Russian speaker in his Coy.
My first question:
-Why did you get out of fhere?
-We are hungry. It is the third day without bread.
The men are looking around, in fear, but by the by their tense countenance is relaxed.

I have an idea that I present to Wolff at once: let us send a couple of men back in the “kettle” with some bread. That might induce the entire enemy outfit to give up fighting.
My suggestion does not please the Captain.
-Verboten! - Right from the field instructions book, he considers my suggestion a total folly.
Sticking to my suggestion I persuade him to phone his superior, Col. Lt. Ausberger. The phone set is right there. It appears the phone discussion rejects my idea. Wolff keeps looking me in the eye and while listening to his CO he is shaking his head. Then there is a lull in the call, he is waiting, quiet. Later I am told what the break meant. Col. Lt Ausberger asked the Finnish liaison officer in his battalion, Lt. Löders, what his opinion was. “That is something we do always” Löders had answered at once, and the matter was settled.

Wolff receives permission. A couple of crispbread packets are hastily found somewhere. Three of the prisoners look like tough ones but two have a softer countenance. They may cause less trouble in case they remain on the enemy side. So these two men are sent back in the “kessel” with the crispbread packets and friendly greetings. Stepping exactly on the existing bootprints the men make it across the bog. That moment I am sending a hasty ceasefire order with the Aspirant to our men.

Loud noise starts to be heard on the far side of the bog. Do they need that much voice to distribute the bread or is there a Politruk providing enlightenment we never find out. Suddenly Wolff makes a quite surprising decision. He is leading his Company in a single file out on the bog along the Russian path but then is scared by the possibility that the bread campaign might have no effect and his entire Company could be destroyed by a few well aimed bursts. Wolff orders his men to spread out but immediately five of them trigger off mines. Four men get a crushed leg and the fifth loses his life.

One of the Germans starts firing, scared, but finally the Captain manages to calm his troops and wait what is going to happen. The Germans are tasked to clear the “kettle” because we have been issued new orders. Before we leave I want to talk with the German Captain to learn what kind of stuff they have captured from the “Kettle”. On the old meeting point I find no one, but there is an opened and almost full box of cigars. Since there are no Germans in that patch of forest I take the cigar box . I consider it a fair commission for the “kettle” comprising at least one Company: now my Runners Saksi and Salonen have smokes for a long time.

War dead database:

Tammelin, Aksel Albinus : PFC.
Born 14.11.1913 Died 03.11.1941 at 12.KS, Age 27
Unit Jalkaväkirykmentti 14, 5.K Died of his wounds, buried in Turku, Maaria church cemetry
Civilian job: bookbinder, no children
[His grave is there, checked it. The headstone was impossible to photograph it being lichen infested black stone with polished black characters on a matte black background and low December light. Tr.rem.]

Närvänen, Tauno Anselm: Pvt.
Born 15.04.1910 Muolaa , died 01.11.1941 Louhi Age 31
Unit Jalkaväkirykmentti 14, 4. K KIA, evacuated and buried
Civilian job: Carpenter , 4 children.
[Närvänen must have been buried in Muolaa or some other locality ceded to the S.U., tr.rem.]

4./JR14 war diary extract (regular war diary template)
05.20hrs Coy started marching for the crossing of the new supply road and the railway line where tents were set up. High spirits in the Coy.
04.00hrs Coy set out heading for the JR 12 supply road.
Breakthrough and Motti battles of 1st to 12th November:
The tasks of our Coy during the battle were the following:
1st and 2nd November: At the breakthrough point rolling and mopping up the trench to the left.
4th to 8th November: Rolling and mopping up the area between the road and the breakthrough point.
9th November: Mopping up the road between kilometre 14,8 to 17,5 .
10th November: Pursuing and destroying the enemy who had broken of of the surroundment .
11th November: Coy marched to the JR12 supply road
12th November: Coy participated in mopping up the supply road and beating back an enemy attack.
During the battles the Coy lost KIA:
1.11._Pvt. Närvänen, PFC Tammelin.
9.11._ Cpl. Kontiomäki, Pvt. Aksa, Pvt. Vainio, PFC Reijo and Pvt. Ojanen
WIA include:
1.11._2nd Lt. Parkkinen, PFC Puhakka, Pvt. Salminen
9.11._ 2nd Lt. Mikkola, Sr.Sgt. Valo, Sgt. Saari and Pvt. Malmsten.
Coy set off and was bivouacked at the JR 12 supply road 1 km N of the railway line point 14.5km. Tents were set up in the evening and gear maintained.
13.11. to 15.11.1941
Field fortification work.
09.30hrs Battalion CO briefing for the entire Battalion.
10.25hrs Battalion set up again at the previous location.
10.30hrs Speech by Rgt CO and distribution of awards for those who had distinguished themselves during the recent battles.

About the author:

Lauri Olavi Leikkonen (18. nov. 1908 Sippola – 5.Dec. 2001 Virolahti), clergyman and author.
He served in the Winter War and in the Continuation War until Jan. 1944 as an officer, final rank Captain.

Posts: 800
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 17 Dec 2022 06:44

Rainer Gustavson

Sappers distinguish themselves

Magazine “Kansa Taisteli”, 04, 1963

Sappers capture enemy explosives on no-man's-land

Sormenkärki, “Fingertip”, the famous Western Carelian Isthmus Shore sector stronghold where mutual action was going on constantly is the scene of the following incident.

Daily statistics published even in the bulletins reveal that an exceptionally active mortar shelling was happening at Sormenkärki. Eternal enmity was practiced here as my humourist men hailing from Hankasalmi used to say.

On the night 2nd/3rd January 1944 the always resourceful enemy at Sormenkärki had attempted something, probably to catch a prisoner with a force of about twenty men. Since the distance berween the opposing lines was just about one hundred meters, our alert infantry detected the enemy attept early on. The enemy was approaching in such a large crowd that they were unable to do it soundlessly, providing our infantry ample time to prepare to receive the visitors. I think the men just then were those of Capt. Pössi of JR 27, who were able to control their nerves and most important of all their trigger fingers, allowing the enemy approach just in front of the Spanish riders before opening fire will every infantry weapon. The firing had bee so intense that MG coolant had started boiling.

Anyway, the enemy attempt was suppressed by heavy defensive fire because a surprise is always a surprise. There was an indescribable confusion, it was not until at the dusk of the dawn that enemy managed to recover the last of their casualties.

The second act followed, it was our turn to enter the scene. We were the Sappers of Pajari's Division (Pion.P.23/18.D) who without boastsing could claim to be familiar with no-man's-land fron the mouth of Rajajoki river up to Valkeasaari. The next morning a phone call informed us that after the day had broken it was found that the enemy had left behind his “visiting card” consisting of two big packets some 30m from our hindance line, with a cable to the enemy side. The alleged packets of explosives appeared to be usable despite the melee of the night. Sapper help was needed again.

Our Company CO Capt. Jorma Pesonen assigned me to demine the charges and if possible capture them. For this operation I selected four eager Sappers. I had always been proud of my capable and brave lads, most of them hailing from Hankasalmi. There always was an oversupply of volunteers, this time too.

We found ourselves in the location in time and we were eagerly waitng for nightfall. All preparations needed for our attempt had been completed, we had agreed with the infantry on securing and eventual covering fire. It would be needed in case we would be detected too early, the tall Spanish rider line would be difficult to cross without casualties. This time I did not neglect one single detail, because no-man's-land at Sormenkärki was too familiar for us.

I made specially sure that even our infantry weapons nests farter off were aware of our operation and would refrain from launcing flares until we had returned to our trench. How often had we cursed the hotheads who had started using their flarew while we were creeping in tight spots on no-man's-land. Their eagerness used to catch on on both wings who started suspecting that something was going on.

When everything was “all right" there was nothing else to do but wait for the fall of darkness. I was in advance troubled by the cables leading to enemy positions; experience had taught us to respect the enemy imaginativeness as to mine placement and other such detaíls.

One of the most important prerequisites for this kind of operations to be successful was an early start, since the one first on no-man's-land had already gained a partial victory. In my opinion we had to hurry up, because it was not likely that we would be alone operating on no-man's-land if we would wait for total darkness. The situation had changed from the morning a little because some snow had fallen at noon, covering the cables, only the chaarges were visibble. This would cause a delay in our schedule, that is why we kept furtively peeking at the black enemy weapons nest embrasures opposite us to decide if it would already be enough dark to enable us to go over the top.

Soon enough our H hour was at hand, as it was so dusky that it was likely that the movement of my men in their white camo could not be detected. I signalled my lads and accompanied by the good luck wishes of infantrymen we jumped out of the subjective safety of the trench and started heading for the enemy positions.

We crossed our Spanish rider line some 20m to the right from the enemy charges. Since there was a line of light alert traps some 5m in front of the hindrance line, we stepped over it with the greatest care. If one of them should have gone off, our operation would have been failkure at the outset, because in the glare of the trap we would have been as if on a platter. Sapper Oksanen placed himself at the nearest trap with his helmet in his hands, ready to cover the trap should it after all go off. Some time ago on the Bunker sector one Sapper had saved the day by unhesitatingly setting his helmet on an activated light alert trap.

We were proceeding successfully. Our white camo blended nicely with the dusk around us . It was onlu our SMGs on every man's chest stood out suspiciously black as we kept creeping quietly, stopping to listen every now and then, at the enemy weapons nests. Our “necklaces” comprised considerable firepower but we were sincerely hoping that we would not need ammo replenishment after our return. On the other hand we knew by experience that the lines bein so close to each other, each side would be careful in opening fire and revealing themselves unless we would not creep in their arms. There was also the risk that in case of a skirmish patrols would be caught in crossfire.

We had advanced directly off from our line at a distance of some 20m from the cables the Neighbour had abandoned in the snow. Since nothing suspicious was neither heard nor seen, we changed finally direction to the incoming track the enemy had left last night. We had to get to the cables fast, since as long as they were untouched the charges could blow up any moment.

Having reached the path in the snow created by the enemy patrol draggging their heavy load we started fumbling carefully, sioon finding the parallel cables, the snow layer was actually fairly thin. A snip with cutters and the cables were cut. I had a slight shock noticin that the cables were actually quick fuses instead of telephone cable. One's fingers would have been blown off in case the enemy had been wise enough to act at the right moment.

This implied that our early start had been a correct game-opener. We had won the first round.

Following the cables we now were heading for the charges in the same direction as the enemy last night. Two of us were securing our rear, another two headed for the charges being careful to detect any traps connected to them.

Cpl. Lappi and Sapper Korhonen expertly removed the primers and match from the charges, also making sure by carefully feeling under the packets that there were no suspicious wires from them. Fortunately the charges had not been “anchored” , so lads could shoulder them and start hauling them to our trench. Apparently the enemy patrol had recievd such a surprising and hot welcome that they had neither time nor inclination to mischief, they had not even camouflaged their charges.

AS Cpl. Lappi started off for our line I ordered him to inform the infantrymen that they should stay alert for some more time because enticed by our good luck I had decided to play a trick on the Neighbour. I also asked Lappi and Korhonen to return as soon as they had unloaded their load at our trench.

WE started sneaking carefully along the matchs wanting to see where the other end was. The lads stayed on my flanks to secure. I kept creeping, carefully until I found myself some twenty meters from the enemy wire. The matchs appeared to be leading to the enemy positions. The embrasures of enemy weapons sests were already uncomfortably close, and it was not wise to keep going, our mission was by now actually accomplished.

The lads were beckoning to me: Enough already! Then I wrapped both match wires around my SMG barrel shroud and yanked hard, feeling how the wires came loose at the other end. Holding my breath I was waiting for the worst but the ghostly silence of no-man's-land remained unbroken at our sector. We kept listening for a while but since nothing of consequence happened, I started hauling in the match and it kept coming in like fishing line. Soon the match wires were coiled up and our retreat started in good order.

When we finally found ouselves in our trench we sighed with reliefs. Examining our war booty we found it comprised some 20 kg TNT and some 120m valuable quick match. Thanks by the infantrymen accompanied us as we returned to our lodgings.

E/PionP.23 war diary extraxct :
I Platoon: 3 men subordinated to Cpl Herrala for the field hospital bridge work
One NCO as instructor NCO for a mining course.
II Platoon:
Lt. Gustavsson + 4 men dismantled at the Sahara terrain some 20 m from our hindrance line explosive charges brought there by Russki (two 8 kg bags) connected to the Russki positions on the far side of the Rust Canal with quick match . The match string was pulled into our side and was brought to the Company together with the charges. The charges consisted of ground TNT.
Ordered by Capt. Axelsson the same oufit installed flash alert traps on the seashore line on a stsretch of 300 some distance upl the river mouth.
1.K/Pion.P.23 war diary extract:
I Platoon: Cpl Herrala at the field hospital bridge work
1 + 0 as instructor NCO for a mining course.
II Platoon:
15.00hrs to 18.00hrs
Lt. Gustavsson + 4 men dismantled at the Sahara terrain some 20 m from our hindrance line explosive charges brought there by Russki (two 8 kg bags) connected to the Russki positions on the far side of the Rust Canal. with quick match. The match string was pulled into our side and was brought to the Company togerther with the charges. The charges consisted of ground TNT.
20.30hrs to 24.30hrs
Ordered by Capt. Axelsson the same oufit installed flash alert traps on the seashore line on a stretch of 300 some distance up the river mouth.
1+5 stripping bricks off the Kellomäki barracks
1+4 Field hospital bridge work
2+0 Instructor NCOs at a mining course
0+1 making firewood ( to last for a month, a contract piece of work)
III Platoon:
Sgt. Hannula +1+10 repairing the Ahkeinen bridge
0+2 repairing the office house
1+4 repairing the free time work hut for an entertainment troupe show
0+1 making firewood
Lt. Kemppi as instructor for a mining course.
07.30hrs Mining courses for Inf. Regimental Sapper Platoons started. The courses of which there were four are to be led by Lt. Pesonen by the order of the Sapper CO. Instructor Officers are the Coy Officers and Lieutenants K.V. and M. Seppälä from the HQ.

19.30hrs At the free time work hut there was an entertainment show set up by Lottas , attended by the Company and 30 men of the HQ and 20 of the Transport column. The occasion was entertaining and refreshing.

Weather: snowing

(end of day)

JR 27 war diaries are missing starting January 1944.
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Posts: 800
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 25 Dec 2022 06:25

Yrjö Helkiö

AA fighting at Utti a/b in summer 1941

Magazine “Kansa Taisteli” 4, 1963

The unit involved was 84.KvItJaos (#16223) equipped with 2x40 mm (Bofors) + 1x quad 7,62 ItKk/09-31 MG

Like everyone also the 84. Kv.It.Jaos [84th Light Anti-aircraft Section] went to the “summer war” on the 18th June 1941. From my home district were called up half a dozen young men, about ten men in the prime of their lives, one third over-aged and a couple of us, invalids of the Winter War. The very next day we were already digging gun pits in clean sand at the perimeter of the Utti air base – in good mood and joking.

The circumstances were fine, sun shining and the summer at its best. We were getting tanned, both working and also when off duty. I compared the start of this new war with the beginning of my Winter War which was fresh in my memory. The differences were enormous in every respect. Back then the weather had been cold and gloomy, the war itself had also been cold and gloomy. Now it was warm and light, and it was by no means certain that it would be war now, maybe a big training exercise or maybe some kind of “securing the north” in case the great ones would start quarrelling far in South. There was a multitude of rumours, and they were confirmed by a broadcast “big speech” . The big ones had started and Finns were grouping at their borders in readiness, rifle at side.

A patient angler usually gets a fish. After a few days waiting “birds” started coming our way. Defensive battles at Utti as home front defence in several other places had to be started while the Army was still, and long afterwards, staying in their positions. It was hard for us to comprehend at we, too, in the middle of the clear 25th June load our Boforses with live ammunition and shooting it up in the sky.

In the first case three slow bug-bears arrived in our view. They were flying low as they had used to do in the Winter War and with evil intent. They were heading for our hangars with bombs under their bellies. Sitting at our guns we were asking in quite unmilitary manner if we should take a shoot at them – maybe they were just about to land on the runway ? Anyway we fed the data in the gun computers and took aim at the oncoming aircraft but this time we did not have to open fire. Behind us arrived three Brewsters from Selänpää a/b, a fighter type not yet seen by us, that swept over the base like a storm. We saw that the pilots flying them did not harbour any doubts about the visitors. The would-be visitors understood it as well and were already doing a turnaround. The next moment we heard the rumbling of the first aerial bombing of this place as the escaping aircraft dumped their loads in the forest and Haukkasuo bog below.

Then we witnessed in detail the first kill. A Brewster approached the victim from rear and on the left, firing the briefest of bursts that knocked out the bomber rear gunner. Then the fighter approached from the right side and behind, letting go two well aimed bursts. No more ammunition was wasted because the job was finished. There was a flash in the bomber cockpit followed by a cloud of smoke and the aircraft dived heavily into Haukkasuo bog. Immediately a black cloud of smoke puffed up. The remaining two bombers shared the same fate, only a little later. The Brewsters vanished behind us in the direction of Selänpää, having scored a clean 3 – 0 when opening the battle of Utti.

The nest day we witnessed another two low altitude bomber raids in our area. One of them was brought down by the Kouvola heavy AA and the other one took so many hits at Koria that it was returning apparently damaged and wobbling E of Kymijoki river to South. It passed us just at the limit of our range, so sitting on the third position I stepped on the trigger and sent a salute after it. At Kotka the AA finally took it down.

After this incident there were beautiful summer days and wondserful nights but the situation started getting denser and more serious, too. Kymenlaakso valley sky was often a battle scene, day and night. Visiting bombers were flying higher now but bombs were no less mean. One night in the dusk of dark blue sky a hit bomber fell like a glowing globe at Koria. It was an admirable sight but a couple of days later we were in for serious business.

At noon, in clear weather, a six a/c bomber formation managed to appear overhead, without alert and wonderfully quietly. I happened to spot some odd glare in high altitude. I yelled alarm and when running for the gun pit was shouting as loud as I could, warning that if they are going to bomb they already have done that. My warning was called at the last possible moment because immediately there was whining and screaming in the air. The next second a salvo of bombs with immediate fuses started hitting the ground and noise started. I barely managed to dash in my gun pit and was there listening the fearsome thunder. Earth, rocks, pieces of wood were flung far up to the runway while the point of impact, the edge of the forest, appeared to be turning into a mess.

The melee was soon over. Having recovered from our fright we saw that the a/c, undisturbed by a single shot, were turning for home. They did come silently but now they were revving up their engines. On the ground however it was quite silent. A thick cloud of dust was as if frozen at the perimeter of the base. Men started coming out of it by the by. They were all O.K. One man had been sitting in a lorry, shaving himself, a couple of us had been sitting in the field latrine and the entire 1st gun crew had been having a poker game.

-What a ruckus it was, the ground was shaking, debris flying, terrible pressure waves – these comments were being uttered everywhere. Our CO, Lt. Kiuttu surveyed the hit ground and said seriously:
-Most of them missed us by a narrow margin. If that load had hit, say thirty to forty meters closer, not many lads would be here now telling tales.

A few moments later a frightened shout was heard from the direction of the road:
-Here is a dead man! He is Tauno Sormunen !
We used to talk about “major training manoeuvrer” and the service had been carried out as in peacetime. Now we started realising that this is war we are in, after all. Men are dying at home front, too...

I remember the incidents during the first days of the “summer war” like a colour movie on the silver screen. Compared with the tough and iron heavy front line war guarding an airbase was am often quite relaxed task. Action and tension lasted only moments and minutes, the rest was just waiting. A/b Utti was soon deep in the rear of the front line seldom raided by bombers. They may have more important targets. It was fighter-bomber visits and when the nights got darker, airdropped desants that for months kept us in war mode here, too.

It was the last days of July 1941 as we experienced “black Friday” at our base. The reason is that we lost in our base four fighter a/c. That morning, between 0300 and 0400hrs I received a phone message being on duty then.

A sleepy voice was telling me:
-A report has been received from the coast that a couple of a/c are sneaking this way almost at ground level. There are a couple of ours patrolling, too...I think they are about to return. But send a few lads to your MG...There is no need for anything major...All righty, that was it, over and off..

If instead of this unclear message I had heard the word “alert” our weapons would have been manned in half a minute. The same could have been achieved by a general siren alert. Why was the message in this format now? A full alert had been called many times for even quite unimportant matters. Maybe the great number of vain alerts gave rise to this negligent report

I think the best decision for me would have been to obey my first whim and man our quad MG . I was familiar with it due to training, and the principles of shooting at aerial targets were just imprinted in my mind, I believe. I would have had the chance of a lifetime at a short range. Instead I ran, as advised by the sender of the message, to wake up the MG gunners. They reacted to a spoken alert much more slowly than at the clanking of the triangle. They had to stretch themselves at first, maybe pass their water, too.

I was far out on the airfield before the lads were getting out of their tent. The same moment the “sneakers” appeared. Like dark green ghosts they appeared at treetops and just in front of me turned to the left as if to check for spectators. There would have been the chance of a lifetime: two enemy a/c at walking speed, range 50m !

The enemy pilots drew their conclusions due to the calm morning in the base, launching their circus with howling engines. They dashed with their red stars gleaming at some 20m altitude at the hangars and opened up. There was but one slender flying machine in front of the hangars, and it was given an disproportionate share of sparks around it. There was no apparent effect, a disappointment to the visitors. They took altitude with howling engines, then turned here and there, weaving up and down, while shooting every now and then. Maybe they were angry for not finding the ten fighters flown here yesterday+

Those fighters (Fokker D.21 Wasp, tr.rem.) had been parked in a long row on the N perimeter of the airfield. They were in the shadow created by the morning sun at treetops. That was their cover. The aerial circus spotted them too late, apparently. The a/b defence was being activated and the air was soon full of bullets. The visitors must have spent their ammo firing at random and from a too high an altitude.

The action of our Section was mostly wasted. The Quad was the first to open fire and my gun was deficiently manned, I believe we created a moral effect with our bigger calibre weapon. It was hopeless to try to trace these tremendously agile aircraft spinning around with a 40mm weapon, so we kept firing barrages here and there.

Our second gun did not budge at all. After the melee was over it was found that the sudden and loud reveille had led our sleep drunk men to believe that the air raid at our base was much more serious than it actually was. Their reaction was to get in cover at any price, at any place, even in the latrine pit, although most of them headed for the forest.

Our admirably reckless guests managed with the last of their ammunition to burn two a/c at the end of the row. The black smoke rising to the sky was a sad sign for us but for the enemy of course a joy and also a signal to head for home. Without any more action the MiGs took altitude and headed SE. At home they must have been decorated and the next day we hear an enemy propaganda radio transmission in the familiar “Tiltu” style telling that “ Our heroic pilots have destroyed in frantic aerial battles at a/b Utti eleven enemy aircraft of the newest type”. Probably their pilots had reported “One certain case, another unconfirmed”. Then Tiltu arithmetic was applied.

It was the start of this “black Friday”. More followed at noon as one of our Curtisses (A-75) took off from the hangars but failed to gain enough speed before the perimeter of the forest. Trying to pull up he stalled at some 20 m, crashing tail first.

There was another incident some hours later. Two fighters were scrambled. They took off from the N side of the airfield at once and one of them, hardly airborne, flopped to the ground and caught fire. There was another smoke column almost at the same spot as in the morning. “That must be sabotage !” someone opined but soon we learned that it was an almost comical collision between an a/c and a roller on the runway.

Fortunately no lives were lost in these incidents. The most thrilling and active day of the battle of Utti was soon after the “black Friday”.

In the morning at about 1000hrs from the sun approached a nice formation of fighter a/c and soon it was found bombers were included. We were alerted in time and in a clear manner:
-15 or 16 Chaikas and MiGs are heading from the sun to the direction of a/b Utti.

The a/b defence had recently been improved with another 40 mm section that was placed opposite to us on the N perimeter. This new Section initiated the welcome ceremony as the neighbour's mission arrived unabashed and with full revs. We joined the choir soon and as the range was diminished also the 20mm guns and soon also the MG_s placed around the base, the enemy formation scattered and the a/c started seeking objects to work on.

The leading MiG spotted two Curtisses just taking off from our base, and immediately dived at one of them. The Curtiss had reached an altitude of 100m and was just turning back to the direction of the base as the two a/c met heads-on. Both fired a brief burst and immediately our a/c went into a dive, nose down. It was an easy one for the MiG that went ahead to find another target. “What a poor start” one of us said but immediately we had reason to yell with joy. The Curtiss managed to pull up just at the deck, almost sweeping the heather, then turning to Haukkajärvi lake with full revs. WE later learned that our a/c had gained altitude then engaged the intruders with good results. But the Curtiss had been badly damaged and when preparing a forced landing had been rammed by a MiG. The Finnish pilot – said to have been Cpl. Kuivalainen – bailed out and successfully descended ton the sandy beach of the lake while the enemy crashed both planes in the lake with a splash.

I don't remember what our second fighter accomplished but the others had no chance to take off with such a number of enemies about. Some ten enemy a/c had the chance to carry out their mission whatever it was. It seemed to me at least that their goal was just to take out our Section which the enemy was familiar with already. Some of our experts in strategy had a strictly opposing idea. Go figure, I do not know.
Maybe the enemy a/c kept firing at us at full rate just for fun and when flying over released small roundish bombs and some firewood sized ones at us. In my opinion the old rear hangar with no roof was not a desirable target, if it was that, and hitting accuracy was weak anyway. Anyway there was a merry-go-around overhead. I had no time to see where each enemy did his turn but constantly there they were constantly diving at our gun pit, alone, in pairs, in groups. In this melee it was difficult to follow them with the gun so I ordered my gun-layers just to “keep the gate shut” by traversing back and forth while I kept stepping on the pedal (trigger) . Our gun kept barking at a steady rate save a few pauses. Our ammunition carriers , having a chance to think about their personal security, ducked in a hole for a particularly threatening-looking enemy dive, resulting in our gun having nothing to feed in the chamber.

Finally the visitors had managed to drop all their presents to us and their ammunition while taking some hits the tin roof on us started thinning and the noise dying down. Soon we were able to sigh like Mekelin after the death of his wife: everything went silent. We drew a deep breath, wiped off sweat and started glancing around to really find out what just happened.

While our own gun was barking we the gun crew were taken over by a tremendous enthusiasm and zeal to score hits. Everything else had been insignificant. The fire of the enemy aircraft had not mattered and the little bombs released by the a/c were almost amusing when flying past us. It was not until the show was over that we realised it had been a rather serious matter. The dust cloud kicked up by bombs, tens of meters tall, was teetering to the left of us at some distance at the rear hangar. The surroundings of the gun were gray of dust and gun smoke. The most curious of us were soon examining the traces drawn by bursts of MG fire, they were everywhere around us. It appeared that it had been our Section that had been the focus of the raid. We were happy to find out that we all had survived the mean looking melee. The defenders of Utti had scored at least five confirmed kills.

After a moment a car arrived from the direction of the hangars, Col. Nuotio, a tall man, stepped out with a sombre mien and strode to our gun pit. I attempted to report but the Colonel did not listen to me, instead he was as if talking to himself:
-It seems some are still alive here !
We witnessed, several of us at once, that everyone was alive and well.
We then heard how the Colonel sighed “thank G-d”and hen aloud:
-Everyone alive and well, you are saying. What a miracle actually... a big miracle. We were watching from the control tower with horror. It seemed that nothing would be left of your section save bodies of heroes.

War dead database extract:
Sormunen, Tauno Rafael, PFC
B. 13.05.1909 Lappeenranta d. 08.07.1941 Utti, airfield, age 32
Unit 84. kevyt ilmatorjuntajaos
KIA, evacuated and buried at Kouvola, Kuusankoski, new cemetry.
Paper mill worker, no children.

84.KvItJaos War diary extract: (written on school notebook)
02.00hrs Several German twin engine a/c flew over the base from W to E
03.15hrs the same a/c returned from E and landed at the base for refuelling
04.30hrs the same a/c took off to W
03.00hrs At the base landed 14 friendly (German) bombers, of which one keeled over at landing. One of the crew died.
0800hrs – 1700hrs Training
07.30hrs Battle alert
07.34hrs Spotted at bearing 10-00 about 15 twin engined a/c flying in direction 40-00. Range 10000m (=10 km)
07.37hrs Two twin engined a/c flew at the same bearing to a distance of 8000m then turning to direction 50-00 to S and further to E whereby the Section opened fire at bearing 30-00 range 5000m and flying side in our direction.
Observations: 1 too long 4 short whereby firing was ended.
Ammunition consumption 5 pcs 16 sec.
08.52hrs Alert over.
10.16hrs Battle alert.
Enemy a/c flying at the vicinity of the a/b but our fighters being airborne they could not be fired at. Fighters shot down one of the enemies.
10.44hrs Alert over.
01.50hrs Battle alert
02.13hrs Battle alert over. No a/c seen.
0800hrs – 1700hrs Training
0800hrs – 1700hrs Training
19.42hrs Battle alert
19.55hrs Battle alert over. No a/c seen.
0800hrs – 1700hrs Training
12.52hrs Battle alert
12.54hrs Spotted two twin engine a/c bearing 45-50 heading for Utti while under fire by heavy AA.
At a distance of 5000m both a/c changed direction and the Section opened fire at the range of 4800m. During firing it was found that our fighter was pursuing them whereby we had to stop firing.
Observations: ahead, behind, ahead.
Ammunition consumption: 14 pcs 11 sec.
13.04hrs Battle alert over.
13.36hrs Section alerted by the observers of the Section.
Three single engine a/c flew over the a/b direction 30-00 while firing with MG s at the men working on the runway. Fire was not opened since the a/c vanished at once behind the forest.
13.37hrs Battle alert
13.50hrs Battle alert over.
10.45hrs Report by the a/b: two twin engine a/c spotted N of Kotka
10.46hrs Section on the standby to fire
10.47hrs Approached two twin engine a/c bearing 50-00 turning S when near Utti.
Section opened fire at 5000m and followed them with their fire, bearing 40-00 the range being at the switch point 3600m. No hits observed. The last shots almost swept the nose of the target a/c. Firing was ended at range 4800m.
Ammunition consumption 29 pcs 11 sec.
No battle alert received during the incident.
Cpl. E. Rislakki ordered to report to LeR2, Maj. Erho. Struck off from the roll of the outfit on the 1st July 1941.
Outfit postal code kpk18 altered to kpk2.
2164 document dd 3.7.41 KD no.30.
22.15hrs Without preceding report it was observed that three twin engine a/c flying overhead to N and dropping bombs which hit the Kuivala village at Utti. No report of damages.
22.57hrs During the overflight the a/c were fired at without result.
Ammunition consumption 42 pcs 11 sec.
01.17hrs Five twin engine a/c passed W of the a/b to NW. The Section opened fire, bearing 40-00 range 3800 m following them with fire up to 4800m then ordered to end fire.
No hits observed.
Ammunition consumption 16 pcs 11 sec.
4.7.1941_ Training.
14.05hrs 16 men from 2161 reported. The men are from the disbanded 83. ItKKJ (AA MG Platoon)
15.00hrs Gunner Pulkkinen with lorry SA3605 reported subordinated to the Section.
07.45hrs Several men of the Section observed buzzing in S. Friendly a/c were also airborne. Alert was effected and it was found that three twin engine a/c right above the Section. The same moment bombs started hitting the tent area and NW of it. In the meanwhile the guns had been manned and as the a/c returned the Section was battle ready but the flying altitude being 6000m fire was not opened.
In the bombardment was killed PFC Tauno Sormunen who was hit in the side by a splinter.
During the entire period the Section did not receive battle alert.

_ Training.
Gunner Nyyssönen transferred to P.Kyml.Sk.piiri (PTK order of the day 9.7.41)
_ Training.
03.49hrs The man on phone duty received a call from the FR base:
“Man MG s, enemy fighters may be around.”
The Section was at once in the standby.
3.53hrs Two single engine a/c overflew from S the tent area while attacking the hangars on the W side of the base. As the attack had been verified the Section MG opened fire. At the same time another AA MG near the Section was manned since it appeared to remain unmanned.
The a/c then dived time and again at the a/c parked at the N edge of the base firing at them with MG s. Two of them caught fire. The section fired at the enemy as they started and ended their dives. No hits were observed.
Ammunition consumption: 10 pcs 11 sec and 248 pcs MG ammo.
13.50hrs From NW to S flew three single engine a/c firing at the hangars. We had no time to man our weapons since no preceding alert whatsoever was given.
Nothing worth mentioning.
00.13hrs Battle alert
00.19hrs Battle alert called off
00.41hrs Battle alert
01.10hrs Battle alert called off
01.16hrs Battle alert
01.30hrs Battle alert called off
02.45hrs Battle alert
03.00hrs Battle alert called off
14.55hrs Battle alert
15.05hrs Battle alert called off
16.07hrs Battle alert
16.35hrs Battle alert called off
23.35hrs Battle alert
00.15hrs Battle alert called off
Nothing worth mentioning.
Pvt. Väinö Ahtola was transferred to P.Kym.Sk.Piiri. Also motorbike SA26191.
00.48hrs Battle alert
01.02hrs Battle alert called off
04.08hrs Section on duty man alerted the men to the guns because of loud buzzing. It was found that several single engine a/c were diving at the a/b, bearing 55-00 and bombing.
Fire was opened at the a/c but since they were making tight turns no hits were scored.
Ammunition consumption: 8 pcs 11 sec and 44 MG cartridges
From 0700 to 1700hrs Several alerts during the day.
From 0500 to 1800hrs Alerts.
IV AC document 348/st/25/a-sal: Section number 84 shall be changed to 118 and the cover code 2152 to 8562 and the outfit shall again be an FAF AA outfit.
From 0100 to 1800hrs Alerts.
2+11 transferred to 117. Section by the order of LeR3.
05.25hrs Battle alert
05.32hrs 9 single engine a/c, bearing 20-00, flying direction 55-00, in three separate formations in succession. As the range was 5000m fire was opened. The a/c carried out quick dives and turns above the base and bombed, the target apparently the Section.
All the bombs were aimed long and hit the forest. Also the a/c MG fire during divers was without result the bullets hitting between and around the guns.
One of the a/c was hit. A/c type I-153.
05.59hrs Alert over.
According to the information received a total of three a/c had been downed, the Section scoring two!
07.35hrs to 17.00 hrs Alerts.
03.20hrs Battle alert.
03.27hrs Two single engine a/c, bearing 20-00, flying direction 55-00, to the base. Being fired at by the Section they soon left having strafed among others a CU fighter just taking off.
03.29hrs It was spotted on the same route 5 + 3 I-153 which carried out a bombing attack at the Rear hangar and continuing by strafing, among others the Section. At least one of these a/c was hit.
04.17hrs Alert over.
Ammunition consumption: 80 pcs 11 sec and 300 pcs MG cartridges.
From 00.30hrs to 04.16 hrs Alerts
(end of the day)

Lentolaivue 32 war diary:
18.00hrs 3rd Flight issued orders by Capt. Heinilä to relocate to Utti.
One FR was damaged at landing
06.45hrs 3rd Flight arrived at Utti.
17.00hrs Orders issued by Capt. Heinilä on flying (...)

03.50hrs Two enemy “Mick” (sic!) type fighters strafed a/b Utti, two FR-Wasps destroyed, four slightly damaged.
16.04hrs AB class radio station set up at Kymi Ivak and a mutual contact Raste-Ralle was established.
18.35hrs One FR a/c collided with a roller at take-off, caught fire and was destroyed.
Patrol and interception missions in grid squares 52 and 53.
13.57hrs three “Mick” type enemy fighters strafed a/b Utti. No damages.
22.30hrs Capt. Heinilä handed over Squadron Leader duties to Maj. Ehrnrooth.
Patrolling and interception missions in grid squares 52 and 53.
14.00hrs Telephone message from Iv.E, orders to hand over 12 FR-Mercurys to L Lv 14 and receive the Curtisses of that Squadron.
24.00hrs Order issued by Iv.E: The a/c excchange must be carried out on the 24th July by 1000hrs.
Patrolling and interception missions in grid squares 52 and 53.
10.30hrs A/c exchange with L Lv 14 completed.
13.00hrs Flying and ground personnel familiarizing with Curtiss a/c.
12.00hrs Orders issued by Maj. Ehrnrooth:
3rd Flight on duty 1200 – 2200hrs and
on the 15.7. 0700 – 14.00. On duty 1400 – 2200 1st and 2nd Flight personnel with 3rd Flight a/c, the ones not engaged in Curtiss studies.
On duty 6 FR-Wasps with constantly 2 in scramble readiness.
17.00hrs By the request of the AC interception and patrol missions in grid squares 74 and 75a. Single bombers, a balloon at Kotijärvi and artilley spotting a/c E and SW of Nuijamaanjärvi lake.
2 patrol missions in grid squares 52, 53, 73.
07.30hrs Patrol mission in grid squares 74 and 94.
19.30hrs D:o
12.00hrs Curtiss training started for 1st Flight.
2nd Lt. Ruotsila and Sgt. Aikala shot down 2 I-153. Our a/c took hits.
06.00–12.00hrs Training flying using Curtiss a/c.
14.15–15.30hrs Patrol, recon and interception mission with three CU to lake Nuijamaanjärvi. Tasked to recon manning and interception of enemy fighters. Encountered 4 I-153 which were engaged by two of our a/c in face-to-face attacks. No results observed. Enemy turned back.
21.06hrs Contact established with Ralle in Ravanttila village AB radio station.
12.05hrs One 2 CU a/c patrol encountered in grid square 74 three I-153. One of our a/c took hits and had to land at Lappeenranta (Capt. Berg).
13.30hrs two 2 a/c FR patrols in grid square 74.
19.00hrs Two 2 a/c FR-Wasp patrols at Kotka – Nuijamaa area.
AC constantly reporting enemy fighters strafing at Square 74. Constant patrolling impossible to set up, only now and then (a/c situation)
03.40hrs two 2 a/c CU patrols at grid squares 74, 94, 75
04.30hrs Twp 2 a/c FR-Wasp patrols at grid squares 52, 73
04.10hrs 2 I-18 a/c (Mick) bombed and strafed Utti a/b. No damages
08.30hrs Regimental order: L Lv 32 shall cover railway transports on 17.-20.7.1941 on the area Kausala(excl.)-Kouvola-Mikkeli.
23.55hrs RE reported: Several desants (about 10) airdropped between Aittomäki and Utti.
Several patrol and interception missions at grid squares 52, 72, 73, 74.
00.30hrs A patrol comprising 2+4+16 set out to search for desants .
03.00hrs Patrol retuned, no result
12.00hrs RE order: 8531 is to set up an anti-desant platoon strength 1+4+28 comprising
from 8531 1+2+8
From 8422 0+2+10
From 8425 0+1+10
The Platoon is to be on constant standby.
Some patrol missions to grid square 53 and 73
Maj. Ehrnrooth issued the following orders:
Platoon leader: Lt. Kivioja
Second in command 2nd Lt. Siirilä
During the day the IS sentries destroyed one desant, our anti-desant platoon 2000 to 2200hrs three desants (Hämäläinen and Lindfors)
05.25hrs Nine I-153 bombed and strafed a/b Utti. A small forest fire ensued some 200m from the airfield, it was put out immediately.
09.45hrs Maj. Ehrnrooth and 2nd Lt. Karhila encountered when patrolling with CU s two I-153. After a face-to-face attack the enemies disengaged by diving to the deck, one of them with a smoking engine. One CU damaged in wing and aileron in the battle that took place above Kärkijärvi lake.
21.00hrs Order issued by Maj. Ehrnrooth:
1st and 2nd Flight are to have 6 CU in constant standby.
Several CI and FR-Wasp patrol and interception missions at grid squares 52, 53, 74 and 75.
During one day three patrols assisted by dogs sought desants, no result.
Maj. Ehrnrooth has spotted at Nurmi and Houni several three gun 40mm AA batteries.
03.30hrs 13 enemy fighters, of which 20 I-153 and 3 I-18 (Mick) bombed and strafed a/b Utti. No damages. 4 CU s took off. Cpl. Kirjonen shot down two I-153 and bailed out after his a/c had been rendered uncontrollable by hits taken in the battle.
10.36hrs Cpl. Ahokas made a forced landing at Kaitjärvi. The a/c shall be repaired at VL.
AA shot down 2 I-153 (not found, unconfirmed).
Patrol missions in grid squares 52, 53, 73.
14.00hrs FR training for all without Pilot's Badge. To continue until the required number of flying hours has been achieved.
LeLv 32 transferred to Lappeenranta

Posts: 800
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 01 Jan 2023 06:36

Johan K. Harju

Sinking of the s/s Kastelholm told by one of the crew

Magazine "Kansa Taisteli" 4/1964

S/S Kastelholm was about to set out for a long journey at Liinahamari harbour [Petsamo] on May 29th 1941. It was a sunny day and good sailing weather was to be expected. Our target harbour was Buenos Aires in S. America. The Kastelholm had crossed the Pond as many times as there were rivets in its iron hull. The ship was no more new but reliable she was. Equally reliable was her 64 years old skipper, Isidor Ericsson from Åland islands. This old salt had sailed through innumerable storms, starting in the days when ships were wood and the sailors iron.

The owner of the Kastelholm was Rederiet Nordström in Lovisa. Her displacement was 8100 tons and she was of a quite strong construction. The crew comprised 37 men plus the Captain. The crew was multinational, including also three Uruguayans, one Argentinian and one Norwegian. The rest were us Finns.

Our cargo consisted of about 5000 tons paper and pulp. There was also Swedish made machines, washing and typing machines if I remember correctly. Our cargo was valuable, we all were aware of it. Before our ship could put out to sea the consuls of the belligerent nations Britain and Germany visited us. They may have carried out some kind of official inspection. The crew was quite ignorant of the proceedings that was taken care of mostly by our Captain. We were allowed to sail which meant we did not carry any prohibited goods. The countries of the inspector-consuls were in war against each other and they were looking after the interest of their nations even here in distant Liinahamari.

We received warnings about minefields. The German gave us instructions concerning our route which we should not leave, else we would take a torpedo in our side. Despite the threat we were confident: our nation was neutral and our ship headed for a non belligerent country.

Everything appeared to be in order. Yet our Chief Engineer kept cursing the Germans. Minefields, even single mines, were the terror of sailors and most of all the engine room crews. They found themselves in their iron cupboards like herrings in a tin. Climbing out of there was slow in case of a mine or torpedo hit-

-The Jerry is one big madman for planting naval mines like longline on shipping lines , our Chief Engineer Nyberg used to curse in broken Finnish while sucking his pipe; its gurgling indicated how angry our “Chief” was at the moment.

I was in his engine room command being a Stoker. It was a hot job when Sun had heated the ship hull from outside and coal was glowing under the kettles. The engine room sailors deep under the waterline often thought themselves as being in a steel coffin in case the ship should be hit.

On the 29th April 1941 s/s Kastelholm cast off from Liinahamari harbour. After the pilot had left the vessel the land soon disappeared from our view. The engines were running smoothly, the day was sunny and the wind moderately strong. All of that created a feeling of safety. Our voyage seemed to have commenced under lucky stars. There was no sign of a storm that may be very severe on the Arctic Ocean even in summertime. There were no signs of mines or potential torpedo launchers. Of course our observation was intensified due to drifting mines. In those days they used to be a nuisance on all shipping lanes. Every warring nation was launching them as if in concurrence with each other.

It was Tuesday June 3rd 1941 as out position was near the Faroe islands with Norway on our other side. By nightfall the wind rose considerably. Our heavily laden ship was swimming deep, the propeller kept turning and the old engine thumping. The boiler room was glowing with oil soaked heat. Shirtless I kept shovelling coal in the firebox while my assistant kept carting the fuel on the steel deck of the boiler room. The Chief glanced at the manometer, the rattle of his pipe indicated that he was happy. He knocked it empty against the railing tube and climbed up the stairs. Everything was OK in the ship. The Kastelholm kept cutting the waves.

I had just shut the firebox door and wiping sweat with my dirty scarf as a tremendous explosion shook the ship. The hull was trembling. The explosion had swept me on a pile of coal, I got quickly up, heard noise of rushing water and the Kastelholm started listing nastily. Quickly I turned off the valves and rushed to the deck following my assistant.

Disorder reigned there. Lifeboats were being readied. Others were running back and forth like headless chickens. The Captain shouted orders and in the end managed to create order. Our ship kept listing more and more. The First Mate was leading the saving operation...there was nothing else to save but our poor lives...if even that. Everything looked grim. I was running on the tilting deck and get to the fore-ship to save some of my private property. I grabbed my Mörner suit and my kapok [life vest]

What happened actually I shouted one who was putting on a life vest among shattered crates. Then there was a shout:
-Get in the lifeboats, everyone! The ship is sinking! Everyone in the lifeboats!
There were wounded, too. One of the Uruguayans, Santos, I think, was wailing pitiably. Captain and First Mate counted the men embarking on lifeboats.
-Seaman apprentice Alf Öster...where is Öster?
Our Seaman apprentice , age 20 years, hailing from Närpiö was missing. He was not found and the sea is his grave. Maybe he had been killed in the explosion, but we could not tell. The ship was about to die, the engines were still running but the lights were out.
-Cast off !
Lifeboats were swimming in the waves. It was not dark even it was past 2200hrs. We could see how the Kastelholm sunk. The stern rose over the waves. I think I saw the propeller rotate still. Then the ship rolled over and started sinking.
-Row away, quick !
A column of water rose in the air and the last we saw of the ship was the funnel and radio mast. The ship was no more, oil and debris rose to surface. They pointed out the grave of the Kastelholm.

This all may not have taken more than some five minutes, from the explosion to the moment the ship sunk. Time is a difficult thing to define, in moments like that minutes are long...or then short. Time loses significance.

Floating in open lifeboats on ocean each of us tried to return in their mind to the moments we had experienced. We discussed and speculated what destroyed the Kastelholm. Was it a torpedo? Was it a mine? Whichever it was it did not affect our situation. When a seaman loses his ship it is like losing his home, even more, because the ship was everything for him. It can be understood only by one who has suffered that loss.

There were men among us who were not the first time in an average . As experts they considered that the Kastelholm had taken a torpedo hit. I did not care what had destroyed our ship, what I cared about that now we were without it. Maybe our Captain sorrowed the most for the loss of his ship.

A storm was rising. We lost contact with our second boat. We did not see it anymore next morning. It was commanded by Captain whereas the first boat was commanded by First Mate

Our water reserve was minuscule, just like our proviant: some water and a few biscuits. Fortunately our gear was warm. Everyone had a kapok and a Mörner suit which rather resembles a diving suit without the helmet.

We were heading for Faroe islands which were closer than the Norwegian coast. During the day aircraft were buzzing overhead – they were estimated to be German. Yet they did not alert any help for us although they must have spotted us. Chief Nyberg was cursing:
-There is one madman flying and thinking to make us his target !

First Mate tried to crack jokes to lift the ambiance. It was difficult. The very best sailor joke, however randy, did not improve our mood. We were wet, tired, hungry and waiting for a miracle to save us. When water and food had been finished, Mate started doling out good advise. We were listening listlessly. Like dumb we watched a drifting mine floating near our boat. It was rolling like a sea monster showing its horns...was it one of these that sunk our ship ?

We took turns in rowing. Our nerves were in an ardent need of soothing tobacco smoke . We were unable to fulfil the urge since our tobacco was either smoked up or soggy, unusable.

The third day dawned since the sinking of our ship. It was the worst day. There was another storm and foggy sea discouraged any hope of being saved. Constantly a couple of men were bailing water. Sleeping was impossible, although fatigue was weighing on us like lead. We all were experienced sailors but too much is too much. One does not become immune to hunger, no way, I can believe it now.

Hunger, fatigue and thirst were peaking. My mouth was like a year old piece of hard tack and my guts had shrunk to my spine. However the storm ceased and Sun saw our drifting boat with miserable men in it, trying to warm us. We felt the warmth which gave us a spark of hope.

Then on June 5th Thursday evening at 1800hrs we were saved. The British patrol vessel "Northern Reward" picked us up on her deck. It was sweet to feel a deck under one's feet once again, but it was even sweeter to get water and food.
-It is one great fortune, my boss Chief Nyberg said.

Then our other boat was found. Their situation was miserable. The wounded Uruguayan was unconscious, the other wounded were hallucinating. The patrol vessel had a doctor on board and good care saved all wounded.

The "Northern Reward" headed for Faroe islands where we were disembarked at Thorshavn and stayed there for a week. The Finnish ship "Astrid Thorden" took some of the s/s Kastelholm crew home. Some headed for Britain, including me. I took a hire there and soon found myself in the familiar atmosphere of an engine room.

It was an Englishman's ship but suddenly I was changed into an enemy of my employer and I was quarantined [interned] in the Isle of Man.
-One crazy time, Chief Nyberg would have said.

The vessel was built in 1907, with 5332 grt 134 meter of length, a large ship for the period . It was owned by Rederi Mattsson in Helsinki 1927-1941 then sold to Loviisa.
Most of the crew hailed from Åland islands. The long time captain was Isidor Eriksson from Jomala.
He was the Captain as the ship was sunk on the Atlantic ocean the 6th of June 1941.
There has been disagreement if it was a mine or a torpedo that sunk her but latest research is implying at the German sub U 559.

HMS Northern Reward
RN ASW trawler
Completed in November 1936.
Taken over by the Admiralty on 31 August 1939.
Displacement: 655 tons.
Armament: 1x 4" gun.
Returned to her owner in January 1946.
Captain : Lt. Charles Napier Stewart, RNR (1 Oct 1940 to 6 Mar 1942)


Launched 8 Jan 1941
Commissioned 27 Feb 1941
27 Feb 1941 - 30 Oct 1942 Kptlt. Hans Heidtmann (Knights Cross)
1 Jun 1941 - 31 Oct 1941 1. Flottille (active service)

4 ships sunk, total tonnage 11,811 GRT
1 warship sunk, total tonnage 1,060 tons
2 ships a total loss, total tonnage 6,117 GRT

S/s Kastelholm not listed :

Fate Sunk on 30 October 1942 in the Mediterranean Sea north-east of Port Said, in position 32.30N, 33.00E, by depth charges from the British destroyers HMS Pakenham, HMS Petard and HMS Hero and the British escort destroyers HMS Dulverton and HMS Hurworth, after being located by a British Vickers Wellesley aircraft (47 Sqn RAF/F). 7 dead and 38 survivors.

Posts: 800
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 07 Jan 2023 06:44


March 7th 1940 at Tammisuo

A JR67 Runner reminiscing his Winter War at its hardest-

Submitted to Magazine “Kansa Taisteli", but was not published. Having read the story one could think maybe the editors Col. (ret.) Nihtilä and Gen. (ret.) Oesch found the story unflattering to the Officer Corps ...

II/JR 67 (Capt. Pirhonen) was defending the Tammisuo sector. In the middle of the sector in bushes on flat ground was our forward stronghold and behind us the Tähkäpää suburb of Viipuri. About ten of the small houses had been burnt down on the last of February As we were withdrawing on March 1st from Ylä-Sommee to Tammisuo the ruins had been still smouldering.

Our light squad took lodgings in a two room house that had survived among the ruins. For the reasons of health we already the next day moved into two larger houses situated at the road to the Kärstilä manor. A forested ridge on the East created a “dead angle” . The C.P. Of the Battalion moved into the potato cellar of our small house on the opposite side of the road under fir trees growing on the ridge.

Yet the dead angle was but an illusion. Our Battalion CO found it out the very first night as three shells of a 6” salvo hit within 3 to 5 m from the cellar, straddling it. One of those shells smashed the windows of our house from the field side and another demolished the porch of our second house also snipping off a part of the chimney. Fortunately the rooms on the dead angle side were spared. The same night our CO returned to his old location. He had several good reasons: limited space, humidity, lack of working peace among others.

Having manned our sector we had been given a day's respite. In the morning of March 2nd Russians had already found out about our positions, artillery was aimed and the crashes, rumble and earth shaking din we remembered with dread from Ylä-Sommee restarted furiously.

Our light Squad had to keep going constantly since telephone connections were constantly being cut. As soon as the Signals Platoon, Lt. Mäntyvaara, had re-established one line another barrage cut it again, and again.
-Where are the light squad men? Message to no. Five...Message to the stronghold... Message...

We made our way in the shelling, in pairs for safety, whether the “weather” was good or bad. There was no choice and we knew it.
-A f*ing job ! No sleep whatsoever!
This grumble was one of mildest ones yet we always delivered the messages although every mission was a close shave. Roll call finally showed that the 13 days at Tammisuo cost our Squad half the men.
-Those bloody Signals squirrels! They just linger in the Kärstilä manor stone cellar, licking jam off their fingers drinking coffee while we have to run all over the place at the peril of our life!
The latter statement was true of course but not the former.

IT was March 7th at the C.P.
-Lieut Ritvanen ! To the stronghold ! A message ! Send two spare men!
PFC Aleksanteri “Santtu” Kalinen who had been promoted to the same rank I had the same day and I got up. The Admin Coy CO, also our CO at the moment, shoved the message in his pocket, nodded to Santtu and me who were a team. We set out.

We avoided the open space of house ruins and descended a slope growing fir trees heading for the stronghold. Actually the fir forest was no more. In five days the beautiful forest had been smashed and the ground ploughed, what remained was ugly tree stumps, pieces of tree trunks, wood splinters, pieces of branches, shell holes, clean snow was nowhere.

Then it started once again: an artillery battalion salvo, howling of shells... a constant thunder of dozens of artillery pieces...Incoming shells with some shrapnels among them. At moments it was not possible to discern single explosions. It was just a dazing crashing, the frozen ground was shaking, dark columns of dirt kept appearing in the air, the stinking smell of explosive and smashed rock, splinters were swishing past and steaming in snow.

Pvt. Mähönen appeared from somewhere, we knew that he was a Coy CO Runner. He was a beefy fair haired man with a grin on his broad face, and he spoke in broad Savonian dialect. He g´lanced at us, grinned and started following Lieut Rissanen and we followed at his heels, Santtu and I.

Fear is a funny old thing. Sometimes it overwhelms a man for a trifling reason. At times one can defeat it. Actually, the fear remains but the body obeys orders and a man keeps his face straight.

Equally strange was Mähönen's behaviour as well as ours. Mähönen kept going as if there was no heavy shelling going on. He beckoned with his right hand, covered by a dog fur mitt, at every column of dirt collapsing nearby as if to say:
-There was one hit, lads!
I was expecting our destruction at every step yet I kept following. Was it some sort of indifference; dying or surviving, no matter!

We kept pushing on without taking cover one single time. But as the explosion columns ceased we progressed about one hundred meters in a kind of vacuum with terrible din in front of us, on our sides, behind us.

At some point Santtu yelled his familiar war cry:
-Helisee se ! ( Tingling, tingling!)
The Lieut glanced over his shoulder and smiled. Santtu grinned. I responded to them, actually just for show.

There was a couple of meters tall boulder behind which there were two crouching soldiers. I recognized one as Veeti Karppinen, but I did not know the name of the other one. Mähönen yelled:
-Get out of there boys! Else the devil is going to take you!
The lads just pushed their heads lower still. They must have considered us as madmen and no wonder.

At a glen just at the start of the path to the stronghold Mähönen went his way while Ritvanen lit another fag and the shelling stepped in the rear turning into harassment fire.

One hour later we returned the stronghold was being hammered by heavy shelling. Santtu and I returned to our lodgings, the Lieut went on to the CO. After a while I got out to listen. It appeared that shelling was going on at the Tammisuo cemetery. One Signals Platoon man was running down the road, stopping to tell that two of his pals were missing. I guessed where they would be. Indeed they were found there. A shell had hit a tree behind them, exploded and mauled both men. What would Pvt. Mähönen say now, I wondered.

The night before the Battalion had received a complete replacement Company, the CO Lieut had a Swedish name. They were brisk looking fellows, young men no more. Everyone was wearing clean white camo suits, they were washed, shaven, well rested men. We met several of them at the C.P. Everyone appeared to think: the locals are shabby indeed. It was the usual mindset: Our company is number one. But we were too tired, sleepy and indifferent to respond to their banter.

IT was during the darkest hours of the night as we guided them to the stronghold as relief. The previous manning comprised twenty men, was quietly pulled back for R&R - two hundred meters to the rear, at the end of the path to the stronghold and lodged in the cellar of a burned house.

The newbies were given a bloody baptism of fire the very next morning. They told us they had been somewhere at a coast guarding against eventual enemy landing without taking any casualties. That March day was fateful to most of them. Our stronghold was a thorn in the enemy side. The enemy also detected that the defenders had been relieved. Inexperience, rashness, even fear took a heavy toll in blood. All through the day wounded kept coming, some walking, others hauled in ahkio sleds, their snow-suits were no different from ours any more. It was the high casualty rate that worried our CO which is why we had to keep liaising with the stronghold.

At the evening dusk we three were there once again. The stronghold CO's C.P. Was situated in the bushes in the drystone wall cellar of an abandoned house. It was protected from shelling by a ten centimeter thick roof and the door consisted of a ragged sack. The Company CO was sitting in the rear of the cellar, covering his face with his hands, with a sagging bearing. We sat down and were quiet. What could we have said anyway. We kept waiting. There was crashing and thundering outside, the earth was shaking. Then a howl, a stunning explosion. Our small hole in the ground was about to fly in the air. Dirt and pieces of concrete fell on us. A silent moment ensued. Someone came in from the trench:
-Had it fallen two meters longer you would have been done for.
-No one can stand this here, the stronghold CO muttered.

We took a glance at each other. What would happen if the newbies were not able to withstand, we were asking each other without words. Was the Lieut about to lose his nerve...? That was not bothering us but what would happen if that happened at the worst possible moment ?
-Today I lost almost sixty men, he added in a low voice.
Lieut Ritvanen stood up, said something and we left.

We headed right for the Battalion C.P. Where Ritvanen briefed about the situation in the stronghold. Our Captain's voice turned into falsetto:
-You are getting back there at once! Immediately! Take my written order there: “The stronghold is to be held at any cost !” Is that clear ?
-Right, the Lieut said.
When we were leaving someone muttered at the door:
-The Cap'n blew a fuse.
With good reason, we agreed as we went on.

It was the same obstacle course over smashed tree trunks, the same bounces over shell holes. Then down the old street, at the moment there was no barrage, harassment shelling only.

On the path to the stronghold a line of men was coming our way, led by the stronghold CO. We stopped, nonplussed.
-Where are you going now? Lieut Ritvanen's tone of voice was unusually sharp.
-No one can be there, the CO muttered. -I had to get out.
-You abandoned your positions!
-An understrength Platoon is there to cover us, they shall be pulling back soon.
Ritvanen handed over the message he was carrying.
-Here is the written order of the Battalion CO. Read it now! I am informed of the contents already.
A flash-light shone for a moment, then the Lieut turned to his men. With a flat voice he said:
-Lads, we must return to the positions. There is nothing else we can do, nothing else...

By the by the dark line of men vanished in the winter night. We stood there for a long time looking, quiet, without moving. Artillery was thundering at random, a MG opened up in the stronghold. It was a normal moment of early night.

There was an almost intact foundation of a house at the line of house ruins. We knew whom Lieut Ritvanen was looking for there. Some twenty soldiers were frying pancakes and eating them or just lying down. Someone was cleaning his weapon. The man in charge, Cpl. Nikula was standing with a bloodied gauze turban on his head.
-In the day a three incher hit the roof, a concrete shard scratched my noggin, he said in an even voice.
Lieut Ritvanen briefed him on the situation in the stronghold. The Corporal's state of mind was not disturbed. He said without rising the volume of his voice:
-You, Eka, take your MG and place it at the end of the path. Ville, you are going along with your SMG to cover him. Keep listening when there.

Whether the men who left were indeed Eka and Ville, did not matter. We had fulfilled our task, we could as well leave. The din had died down, but far to North there was a red glare of war. Despite that I had a strong intuition that the threatening and frightening series of events had been halted for now. I had heard wild stories about fighting, about brave deeds, sacrifices for pals. Our brave men did not hesitate to praise the enemy men for their valour. The men in the basement, the survivors of Lt. Hämäläinen's Company maybe, the two men who were now in sentry duty, the decimated Company returned to their positions, the Neighbours in the night...Were they after all heroes everyone ?

Santtu and I headed for our hut, the unshakably calm Lieut headed for the C.P. We drunk strong coffee made by Little Erkki. Then we settled on our sofas that we had “evacuated” from the neighbourhood. We had a resting home, a self service hotel for four men. Sleep would have been very desirable but for some reason I was not able to catch it immediately.
-Two men to the C.P. Immediately! Someone was yelling at the door. A shell went howling overhead before striking quite near. Our house was shaking. Santtu was already putting on his heavy frieze greatcoat.

JR 67 suffered 7 KIA on March 3rd 1940 according to the War dead database.

Häkkänen, Reino Fabian
Rank Tykkimies
B. 16.07.1914 Mäntyharju D.07.03.1940 43.SotaS age 25
Unit Jalkaväkirykmentti 67
WIA, died later, buried at Hirvensalmi, Hirvensalmen uusi hautausmaa
Civilian job: labourer, no children

Karjalainen, Vilho
Rank Sotamies
B. 10.03.1912 Juva D. 07.03.1940 Tammisuo, Viipuri age 27
Unit Jalkaväkirykmentti 67
KIA, evacuated, buried at Juva
Civilian job: chauffeur 2 children

Kauppinen, Eemil
Rank Sotamies
B. 31.03.1899 Viitasaari D. 07.03.1940 KS,age 40
Unit Jalkaväkirykmentti 67
WIA, died later, buried at Pihtipudas, Pihtiputaan sankarihautausmaa
Civilian job: Farmer, 3 children

Laasonen, Toivo Ilmari
Rank Sotamies
B. 26.05.1916 Mikkelin mlk d. 07.03.1940 Tammisuo, Viipuri age 23
Unit Jalkaväkirykmentti 67
KIA, body went missing Gravesite at Mikkeli, Harjun hautausmaa
Civilian job: Labourer no children

Paju, Rikhard
Rank Tykkimies
B. 11.08.1918 Uusikirkko Vl D. 07.03.1940 5.KS age 21
Unit Jalkaväkirykmentti 67
WIA, died later, buried at Salo, Kiikalan hautausmaa
Civilian job: Farmer's son no children

Poutiainen, Eevald
Rank: Alikersantti
B. 02.12.1911 Tuusniemi d. 07.03.1940 Tammisuo, Viipuri age 28
Unit Jalkaväkirykmentti 67
KIA buried at Tuusniemi, Tuusniemen hautausmaa
Civilian job: farmer, 2 children

Karppinen, Veerti/Ferdi
Rank Sotamies
B. 29.03.1909 Heinävesi D. 07.03.1940 Tammisuo, Viipuri age 30
Unit Jalkaväkirykmentti 67, II pataljoona
KIA, buried at Heinävesi, Kirkonmäen sankarihautausmaa
Civilian job: Son of a farmer 1 child

II/JR67 war diary extract (school notebook):

Weather: Clear, some frost.
00.10hrs Reported Res.Lt. Huttunen of 28.Pion.K with his Coy on our sector to carry out sapper work.
09.20hrs Arrived 2nd Lt. Savolainen's report with layover diagram of the forward stronghold. He reports that the enemy is digging in on the sand pit ridge south of the map word “kaasutehdas” and also at Pt. 28.00. Enemy tanks are grouping on the road at the map word “kaasutehdas” s. The front is facing N and NW. Appx. no.96
09.30hrs The layover diagram and report were forwarded to the Regiment.
090.00-10.30hrs Heavy barrages at Kuivala village and Kärstilä manor areas, at the Kuivala Worker's hall the mine and explosives transport of 28.Pion.K. was blown up by a Russki shell. 2 men of the Coy were killed, 3 wounded and two horses KIA.
10.30hrs Our artillery gave a barrage at the sand pits of the Concrete foundry and the Gas Factory. They hit well as reported over phone by Lt. Viita since the enemy activity ceased.
11.25hrs Rgt reporting: 4 enemy tanks approaching the four roads crossing
11.35hrs Report forwarded to Res. Lt. Viita.
12.30hrs Observation post at the S tip of Mustamäki hill reporting:
300m S of the Kärstilä rwy stop, at the group of houses five to ten enemy tanks and about 2 Coys of Russkies.
12.45hrs Report forwarded to Regiment.
12.45hrs 2nd Lt. Savolainen reporting by telephone:
Russki is trying to break through in the middle of the seam between the I and II Battalions S of map word “Muurainkorpi” “M” bypassing the sand pits by N. Cornet Järvinen with his Platoon shall strike from the flank and Lt. Viita with his Platoon shall seal the end of the seam with two Squads led by Cpl. Nikula.
13.50hrs Order issued by Rgt: Btn is to deliver each Saturday a layover diagram of the FF work carried out on the sector (Appx no.37)
13.30hrs 4.K and 6.K CO s were ordered to send every Thursday by 1800hrs a layover diagram describing the FF work carried out (Appx no.40)
14.45hrs 2nd Lt Dahlblom of Krh.K reporting: The firing positions are set up, targets defined on the 6.K sector. F.O.O posted at the S tip of Mustamäki hill. Also, there are Russkies at Koirassaareke and at Ranopää Russki tanks.
15.00-15.30hrs Intense barrage at the C.P. Area , the rear wall of the C.P. Dugout collapsed and the windows were smashed and all shelves fell down in the admin office house.
15.45hrs Lt Viita and 2nd Lt Ahlfors reports received.
2nd Lt Ahlfors reporting that the enemy breakthrough outfit at the seam has been annihilated and 9.K has manned the gap and one LMG squad of 4.K is securing the seam.
Lt Viita reporting that as I Btn finally liaised with him he had advised I Btn to secure the seam from the side of their sector and to shoot at Russkies but I Btn had responded saying that they cannot reveal the auto weapons of their main defence positions.
16.45hrs Lt Viita reporting by phone:
Part of 8.K men had fled up to their cantonment area while he had ordered the rest to return to their positions (appx. no.38, 39)
16.35hrs 2nd Lt Järvinen reporting:
About one platoon of Russkies had broken through to Muurainkorpi, N of the Concrete Foundry – Sand pit ridge at the seam on the I Btn sector.
16.45hrs Order to 4.K: Beat back those Russkies. 2nd Lt Ahfors's Platoon beat back the Russkies and secured the seam.
17.00hrs Regimental order:
9.K is to take over the forward stronghold but all MG s are to remain where they are. The relief is to be carried out by the by during the night and in case of a Russki attack it must be beaten back. Capt. Tapaninen is ordered to lead the relief.
17.30hrs Rgt. Requested taking one POW to gain information.
18.00hrs 2nd Lt Mykkänen and 2nd Lt Savolainen were issued orders to take one POW and Lt Savolainen was informed about the relief next night.
18.30hrs Btn HQ moved in the Kärstilä manor ice cellar.
The evening was calm with minor barrages.
KIA 2 men
Severely WIA 8 men, lightly WIA 2 men
(end of the day)

(On March 9th at 1000hrs at Kärstila manor one building was hit by shelling whereby the Battalion Light Squad lost one KIA, five badly WIA and one light WIA.)

Posts: 800
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 14 Jan 2023 06:43

Veikko “Veko” Savolainen

Patrol in enemy rear

Magazine “Kansa Taisteli” 6/1963

July 1941 .

It was the end of June 1941 at Tohmajärvi near Värtsilä. The Jaeger Platoons of I and II/JR 50 were waiting at the Division proviant depot to fill their backpacks. We had been issued orders to proceed deep into enemy rear. We had arrived from Onnevirta on lorries and with our backpacks filled continue to the front line and pass it.

Our CO was Lt. Nousiainen, a shortish young blond man. Lt. Reinikainen was leading the II Platoon and Staff Sgt. Keskinen the I Platoon.

The storekeeper Sergeant was looking a bit envious as we started stuffing our backpacks with tinned meat and condensed milk at will.
-Their officers were allowed to order what to take, the Sergeant had been told. But did they do that? No way, they allowed every man to take whatever he wished. There was one shoving the tenth tin in his huge backpack. They appear to be emptying the entire depot !

Cpl. Liimatainen had a smile on his thin face looking at his bulging backpack.
-Then cigarettes, surely you are giving us some ?
-No cigarettes, the storekeeper Sergeant said.
-I have received orders on foodstuffs only.
Liimatainen could hardly believe his ears.
-What the heck? Without smokes in the wilderness for weeks – No way !
-Keskinen has bungled. Said PFC Autio, a tall, strong looking lad.
-He told us to empty our backpacks when leaving Onnevirta. Every man left behind a quantity of Työmies smokes in Matikainen's baggage train. I could not care less, I am not a smoker.

Sarge Keskinen was annoyed. It was the first time he was being berated.
-I just forwarded the order issued to me, nothing else.
-It is the same for me, Lt. Reinikainen said with an angry men on his narrow face.
-Couldn't you find just a few packs ?
-That is impossible, I can tell you, the storekeeper said drily.
-What can you do then. One of the root causes of dissatisfaction is lack of smokes. We shall eliminate that by taking mahorka from the Neighbour. How much do you have of it now, lads?
-I have two packs.
-I have three.

It was found that everyone had some tobacco for the moment.
-We shall barter with this our stuff here, Keskinen hinted.
Soldiers grabbed extra cans to carry away.
-Stop, hold it ! The storekeeper yelled in anguish.
-You did get your share already !
-According to the orders issued to you, you are expected to hand over to us what we want, Lt. Nousiainen said drily. He was happy as the incident he was partly guilty of was over.

The platoons were laughing when boarding the lorries. Pvt. Yrjö Hetemäki was carrying two five litre molasses cans.

We were grouped next to the border line. Military activities in that sector had been limited to mutual patrolling. Could we manage to break through without casualties as such a large outfit ? JR 8 was holding the line there and they were to make a fake attack on both sides of our crossing point to distract the enemy.

The dusk of the summer night fell. Fog rose from a bog nearby and shrouded the enemy hindrances. We welcomed it. It might enable us to pass through unnoticed. Platoon Keskinen which included me was to lead. Our Sarge gave his orders:
-Veko, you take the lead with Hotari and Autio. Liimatainen, Hetemäki and Iso-Ahola, you are the liaison men with sighting distance. Break a wide enough gap in the hindrance line. Then we shall get straight across and head for the forest. Talking is not allowed.

Firing started on our both flanks and kept increasing fast.
-Vanguard, forward ! ordered the Lieut.

I entered the open ground with my pals. We approached silently and tense the enemy positions...We heard the snipping of wire cutters expecting to meet a “reception committee “ alerted by the sounds...They did not spot us. We hurried on...Loud chatter of MG s could be heard on both sides...We passed a dugout village. The holes were empty. The occupants were probably fighting on the knoll some 30 to the right...There is a road...We dashed across and headed in the forest...The sounds of battle were left behind us and dying off already. We had reached our intent: we found ourselves in the enemy rear without having suffered a scratch.

After one hour of marching we had a break. Our packs were heavy, and some newbies were fatigued out by marching on soft moss.
-How lucky we were, said PFC Hotari with a grin as he dropped his backpack on a turf.
-But for that fog, there would be Russians swarming at our heels like bumble-bees. Veko, want a smoke ?
-Thanks, I said.
-We are not yet there. Pvt. Bogdanoff grumbled, being well known as pessimist.
-Many lads are going to bite the dust before we see the end of this operation.
-We are not going to end this operation, Hotari laughed with his white teeth showing. He was a tall fortyish man.
-We shall go on. The others shall follow us. We shall walk with Russians up to the old border. We may stop at my homestead.- We shall warm my sauna in Salmi in case it has not been burnt down. What do you say, Veko, my boss ?
-I shall do the sauna whisks.

By evening we had proceeded more than twenty kilometres . We bivouacked in a dense fir forest by a river with brown water. Next morning we would go on to the Korpiselkä-Riekkola road and cut it off for enemy troops withdrawing from Korpiselkä.

Once there we were chatting, fighting hungry swarms of gnats and resting. It was an ideal ambush spot for us: the road traversed a more than hundred meter wide open bog that extended kilometres to both sides. On our side there was dry ground with tallish pine forest and on the opposite side low young pines.

-Down the slope at the perimeter of the bog, a few SMG gunners, to watch the road, Reinikainen ordered prudently-
I Platoon was positioned on the right side of the road and II Platoon on the left side.
-Sentry pair in forward position on the lake isthmus, about one kilometre in the direction of the front line. Volunteers ? Lt. Nousiainen was looking at us enquiringly.
-A man with a full pack of smokes can join me, said Hotari
-I have got it and I do not smoke, Autio quipped.
-That is settled then, the Lieut nodded.
-I shall have you relieved in two hours. The rest of us shall carry out some field fortification work at our ridge here.

After Hotari and Autio had vanished on the far side of the bog we mined the road on both sides of the bog. To warn our troops we stretched a wire adorned with a cigarette pack lid across the road to warn our troops. Sounds of artillery fire started emerging far from the direction of Korpiselkä.

It was a wind-still cloudless day. There was a strong smell of wild rosemary, resin and rotting plants. The air on the bog was rippling. We dug foxholes. Sweat was flowing all over us, creating streaks on our faces and our tunic backs turned dark. We were terribly thirsty. Some of us bent down at water pools on the bog and drunk slimy water there.
-No way, Sarge Keskinen said strictly.
-There are enough men with dysentery already. Two men to fetch water ! There is a house and a well behind the ridge. We shall not use it, it may be polluted. Find a spring. Karhu and Säämänen , get going!

They found an excellent spring on the far side of the hill. Lads filled their field kettles with water.
-This is the wine of the wedding in Canaan, Keskinen said and poured another dose down his parched throat. Being a stocky fellow he suffered from the thirst most of all.
-Kalle, why don't you pour some on my back...Not in my trousers , you fool !
-Why did you ask me then ? Karhu was laughing.

We had completed our temporary line before nightfall. We took our backpacks on the far side of the hill at the house to find them in case we would need them. Each Platoon was to secure their sector for the night. We were not expecting enemies that night because the din at the front was just occasional.

We formed small groups to chat, and poker players set up their game. Hotari went to a sturdy straight birch and sliced the bark cutting off a two meter tall piece of bark. Then he found another birch and did likewise. He put one sliced bark cylinder on the ground with the convex side up, lied down in it with his backpack as a pillow and finally pulled the other “tube” over him a cover. We were watching, slightly surprised.
-Hunter's bed model Salmi, the happy man in the tube was heard to say .
-waterproof top and bottom. Why don't you pipe down, lads, I am going to dream about my family in evacuation.
-That is more like a coffin, someone opined ominously.
-Stop talking trash, said the voice from the bark tube.

At 0100hrs we were woken up by the sound of two shots. I ran along the ridge to the very end of our line where I had escorted our sentry, couple of more men followed me. There was Hotari lying on the bog with his chest pierced by the bullets of his pal . We were looking at him in silence. The incident had deeply shocked us. One of the best men of my squad had died. Hotari had crossed the open ground in darkness without informing anyone – at midnight there was a thunderstorm and heavy cloud darkened the sky. The sentry had taken him for an approaching enemy. A casualty due to carelessness, nothing very rare but the more deplorable.
-That bark tube he made, it was an omen.
-He made his own coffin.
We carried the dead man in the threshing barn of the house behind the ridge and covered him up with straw.

Sunrise. Drops of the rain during the previous night were shining on branches and horse flies appeared starting their bloodthirsty attacks. It was a beautiful Sunday morning. Artillery fire had ceased, the silence was total.

Fore-post was again sent to the lake isthmus. They had orders to allow single enemies pass and not retreat until a major enemy force would arrive.

There was a tall boulder in front of us on the bog. Keskinen ordered me to send one of my men behind it. Autio volunteered, two hours later he beckoned asking for relief. Iso-Ahola volunteered but I told him:
-Stay put! I shall go there myself.

I settled in the shadow of the tall boulder, reminiscing about my friend Hotari and watching the colourful butterflies flying over the bog.

A Russian soldier came striding down the road, he was a tall and lean fellow, with relaxed stride and an autoloader rifle across his back. -
-Stoi! Ruki verh!
The Russian froze on the spot, his stretched leg stopped bent in mid-air. Slowly he lifted his arms over his head and the stretched leg made carefully contact with ground. We were looking at each other...The Russian shrugged, and smiled carefully, as if feeling the situation. He was a brave lad, although a bit shocked.

Get going! My SMG barrel was actually eloquent. We crossed the bog where the others had set up a reception committee. They even relieved the guest of the trouble of carrying his weapon. I was curious, I wanted to have a better look at the man. I beckoned to the ridge and someone relieve me.

I found him behind the top of the hill surrounded by a ring of our men, with a sandwich and a mug of tea, answering questions in clear Finnish. The POW spotted me as I arrived and politely stood up.
-It was you that took me prisoner. I knew at once that there is a Finski soldat shouting. Next time try to say softer the phrase 'stoi, ruki verh'.
He imitated my bad pronounciation with an open smile.

He did not appear to be sorry being caught. Someone offered him more crispbread and crackers. The Russian accepted the crackers but rejected the crispbread.
-Our bread is better. You have a lot of SMG s but few hand grenades. You are going to get in trouble with our troops.

The POW was an intelligent lad and a manly one, no doubt. S
Sarge Keskinen said strictly:
-Tell me the truth about your lines. What is your strength, are your men well armed?
Did you come alone?
-I came alone. I was in a tight spot. Arms and legs were flying in the air and my pals were screaming when dying when you were shelling our positions. I took my rifle and hit the road.
-A deserter also, Keskinen stated, almost despisingly.

The POW was embarrassed. Did the Finns not approve that he, an enemy, had abandoned his position? Strange men !

-I was left alone in a foxhole and ran as your men were assaulting our line. It is going to take one or two hours before our main body of troops shall be here. Our Battalion CO is a Major who is a wild and brave man. You shall find yourselves in trouble with him. There shall be six or seven hundred of us coming this way. No field guns instead enough mortars and MG s.

The POW took a questioning look at the Sarge, had he understood.
Keskinen nodded:
-Take the lad to Lt. Nousiainen.

The double sentry post men came running, ahead of them another Finnish speaking enemy who was sent to join his countryman, then three riders. They spotted the mine warning sign and wheeled around, one of the riders was dropped by the careless fire of the returning sentries.
-Take your positions, they are coming ! The road is full of them !

Silence took over the environment. Only the bloodthirsty horse files kept buzzing. A faint sound emerged: quiet talking, clanking and grinding sound of horse cart wheels. The main body of the enemy troops was approaching.

Three enemies in brown uniforms appeared on the bog striding in a file. Everyone had an autoloader on the standby while they were suspiciously looking at our hillside.
-Scouts, whispered PFC Kallio agitatedly in my ear.
-Shut up, I can see them myself !

The trio approached us without slacking their pace. The main troop was not seen yet, although their noise was quite close by now. They are like wolves, I thought, just as suspicious and alert. They have sent three of their best in the avant-garde. It is useless to try to scare them. I switched off the safety of my SMG. We shall take them POW in case they do not resist.

The middle enemy uttered a sharp order and the three fanned out on the bog.
-Stoi, stoi, stoi ! Brrr, brrr brrrr bang, bang, brrrr brrrrt . . .
The men collapsed on the bog .
-Tavaritsi, tavaritsi: Pomogiitje, pomogiitje . . .Pomo.. .[Comrades, help!]

Comrades were still too far and unable to help in time. Sounds of weapons ceased was just Kallio next to me who was waging his private war with his rifle. He kept shooting.
I struck the rifle from his hands.
-You crazy one! Save your ammo !. Those are done for already..
-One of them is moving, Kallio yelled in rage.
-Shoot, he is about to escape !
The lad was too agitated to return to reality. This was his first enemy contact.
-What a baby you are! Control yourself! Soon enough you shall have a chance to shoot for your life .

We recovered the wounded man from the bog. Autio nabbed mahorka boxes from the two dead ones.

Noise on the far side of the bog was growing gradually. One could hear how the early arrives were agitatedly describing the situation to the ones coming later: There are Finns, maybe a large outfit, on the far side of that open bog, and pursuing enemy is at their heels.

Then there was a sound of a loud commanding voice and the noise ceased totally.
-The CO must be there now, Autio opined in the foxhole next to me.
-On the standby now! They are about to attack !
A tremendous “uraa” yell emerged from the forest, emitted by hundreds of agitated mouths. It spread and approached the edge of the bog... Soon a greenish-brown mass was undulating at the edge of the open ground. Enemies were firing with their personal weapons, supported from the flanks by MG and LMG bullet rain. Bullets were hitting our gravel ridge with a soft thud or ricocheting off rocks with buzz.

We retaliated with thirty SMG s, ten rifles and one AT rifle. Pvt. Hämäläinen kept banging with his 12 mm gun as one of us. -
-For moral effect, he said chuckling, then fired again.

The attacking mass collapsed like grain stalks under storm. It was difficult to observe any hits since the colour of the vegetation merged with the enemy uniforms. Being over-agitated I left the cover of the rock and climbed on it to see better. A LMG gunner opposite to me spotted me and fired a long burst, fortunately too low. Splinters of rock just hit painfully my jaw as the burst hit the vertical face of the rock about a hand too low. Sensing my stupidity I rolled down before the enemy managed to check his aim.

Enemies withdrew in the forest. We could hear furious orders being given. Certainly there was a commander who knew how to issue orders. Our POW must have told the truth about his CO.

Burst of fire decreased and ended-
-It is a break now, Yrjö Hetemäki opined standing behind me. He was one of my Squad and a moment before I had sent him to liaise with Keskinen. For this lad as well as for several other youngsters of our Platoon this had been the baptism of fire. His face was gleaming with sweat and ardour:
-They are evacuating their wounded and soon they shall restart the old music. Eino told me to find about any casualties we may have.
-Keep low and do not stand as if working a field ! I berated him.
-No casualties on my turf.
The lad grinned and left, walking erect.

Again the commanding voice was heard on the far side of the bog and it was again Uraa, uraa, uraa. Again billowed the brown grain that our weapons reaped. Those Russians headed for their certain death bravely and fearlessly. Auto weapons were buzzing, rifles cracking and the AT rifle kept banging away with a low note. Bullets were whining, thudding and buzzing. Any breaks in the din of shooting were filled by wailing of the wounded and furious screaming.

Enemies had to stop at the edge of the forest. There was the limit between life and death defined by nickel jacketed lead bullets. Anyone crossing it would die. Again silence reigned. The same terrible show and din was repeated three times. A long break ensued.

Sound of timber chopping started emerging from the Russian side, trees were swaying and falling.
-They are creating sectors for their mortars, I explained to Kallio who did not have experience.
-Keep your head down from here on. There are observant men on the far side. If their F.O.O should see our heads, he would take us out one by one. It is not likely that we shall be in major trouble, many of them have been taken down, but with the ammo we have left we are not able to take on many attacks such as the recent ones.

Sarge Keskinen was nonchalantly walking along the ridge
-Lads ! We shall go on with our battle training for a while. We are low in ammo and soon we shall have to evade the enemy. When I send a word, disengage at one time all of you.

He was standing behind us radiating confidence.
-Kallio ! How much of your cartridges did you waste ?
-At least one hundred, Kallio admitted awkwardly.
-Too much by half, Keskinen berated him.
-Remember to be thrifty !
He turned around and left.

On the far side of the bog a shell was dropped down a barrel. It buzzed over the open ground and exploded beyond the hill.
-It was a miss, boys! Yrjö was laughing .
-They are going to hit sooner or later, I grumbled, we have enough experience of that.
-Kallio, look out !
A shell was buzzing overhead. I pulled my head between my shoulders.
-That one is coming this way, it is for us !

The explosion blocked our ears and rock splinters and dirt flew over us as the shell disintegrated three meters from us on the slope. Säämänen had been lying about there behind a rock. What had happened to him ?
-Säämänen, Säämänen !
Pvt. Säämänen was already on the top of the hill crawling lively on all fours. The mortar shell had exploded on the other side of his rock.
-Let the lad go ! Autio grinned.
-Soon we shall be getting out of here everyone.
-Let him go then.

Shells were crashing among rocks. A man was coming from the let wing ... Iso-Ahola.
-Retreat order ! One man was wounded. Hämäläinen took a bullet through his throat and he is coughing sitting on the stairs of the house at our backpacks. Fortunately his wound is not life threatening. Keskinen told me to remind you that in case we should be dispersed, find your way to our bivouac site two days ago !

We climbed on the ridge. Enemies spotted at once our withdrawal and they started advancing on the bog, yelling savagely.
-Tenacious fellows indeed !
-Keep your boots moving, Sarge Keskinen kept hurrying up his men. We grabbed our backpacks by the road and hurried beyond the turn of the road as the first enemies were swinging their rifles and shouting on the ridge.

Soon we found out that carrying our backpacks we would never be able to outrun the enemy, moreover we had the wounded Hämäläinen who determined our speed One kilometre more and there was Lt. Nousiainen waiting for us.

Lt. Reinikainen, hardly out of breath although having run up to there, quickly briefed him on our situation. I, Liimatainen, Autio and Hetemäki were the last to arrive. I told the others:
-Make yourselves scarce, I shall stay here with Ossi and Yrjö to slow them down.
-All right. Those aspens are charged with TNT, light the matches.
-Where...Oh there...This one is burning already !
-This one too !. And now run for the hills!

A crowd in brown appeared, yelling and swinging weapons from the bend of the road. The mines, attached to the aspens with wire at the height of a man's head, went off. The tall trees fell like matches, the leafy tops slowly descending across the road. The running enemies were confused for a moment, but soon kept approaching, skirting the abatis and still yelling when coming.

In a blink of an eye the road was empty again save some brown lumps on the yellowish gravel. Bullets started thudding around us. Our work was done. Now enemies would believe that we would be making our stand on this hill, so it was time for us to get out. Having jogged for one kilometre we stopped at the edge of an open bog. In the direction of our old positions there was a sound of intense firing.
-Listen how the Neighbour keeps plastering our old hill, Autio chuckled.
-Dammit ! They are even using their light mortars. They think we are still there.

From afar, at the level of our first defence line we now heard a loud detonation.
-What was that for a bomb ?
-Three AT mines together, Yrjö grinned.
-Someone must have hit it. Elias' fiery chariot, he chuckled.
-The driver's legs and balls were at risk at the start of the journey.
We laughed. That was in our opinion a very apt description.

We had been wading on the bog about for two kilometre before the firing behind us ceased. Without hurrying we arrived at dry ground, then descended in the fir forest of the riverside. Our abandoned one night bivouac seemed to be as we had left it. Black cinders at the spots of our small campfires, trampled moss, slow river and withered boughs on which we had slept.

I had decent time to smoke a pipe before we heard boots stomping ground. Keskinen was heard to complain :
-Why did we ever leave those three crazies fighting there. I thought Veko would have been more considerate. Why the h* does he not disengage already ? A while ago there was still a lively firefight going on. Dammit, those recruits !

A sweating line of soldiers appeared from the forest led by Keskinen. He stopped short and was looking at us, amazed.
-What the - ! You are here. Who is fighting the Vanyas over there ?
-It is the Neighbours in mutual action. They must have made a mistake.
-We had a brief show then slipped away right here.

One week later, at Lehtovaara in Soanlahti we joined II/JR 50. Our Battalion CO, Maj. V. Lieska addressed us:
-You did a good job when cutting the road. Another Company passed the place later, counting the killed enemies. They said the number is 150, although it is an unconfirmed figure. Moreover, the enemy CO hit the mines, which was verified by a patrol of your Platoon the same night. IT was the favourable terrain that turned the situation in our favour although it was your contribution that was the main factor. Thank you, lads !

(4396 words)
Reference map: "Sorry, the board attachment quota has been reached"
The only Hotari in the ranks of JR 50 KIA was this man:
Hotari, Johannes Pvt
B. 23.07.1922 Salmi D. 23.04.1942 Shemenski Age 19
Jalkaväkirykmentti 50, 3. konekiväärikomppania
KIA, evacuated, buried.

As to “Huotari”, no KIA with that name in JR50.

The temporary Sissi outfit did not keep a war diary, and any eventual battle report has not been found.

JR 50 launched on the 12.7. 1941 an attack from Kaatiovaara terrain heading for the line Laaja- Prolanvaara . The objective was reached after three days of heavy battles. The terrain was characterized by high hills with steep slopes which the enemy had utilized in setting up their defence. Indirect fire support was hampered by communications problems between infantry and artillery.

JR50 war diary (12451) extract:
Weather: Sunny
12.30hrs: Maj. Marteinen issued a spoken order by IV AC CO on a Sissi mission.
For the mission a Jaeger Company was assembled comprising the Regimental and Battalion Jaeger Platoons as follows:
3 Jaeger Platoons comprising each 4 Squads
One Sapper Squad 2+10
One Paramedic NCO and 2 Paramedics
1+10 Border Guards as guides
Two AT rifles, 1+3 each.
Company CO: Lt. Nousiainen.

The task of the Sissi Company is:
On the evening of 8.7.1941 to slip through the first lines at Saarivaara terrain and advance to the terrain of Korpiselkä-Riekkola road where to hide without being revealed. After the general attack has been launched the Company is to take over a point of terrain N of Riekkola crossroads where the road can be cut off. The point is to be held until Battle Group Riekko opens the road and joins the detachment.
The detachment is to prepare themselves to stay in the terrain about 5 days and have food and ammunition for seven days.
Situation reports and data to be transmitted by the Company over the radio at even hours . Listening five minutes after full hour for thirty minutes at a time.
21.45hrs Sissi Coy Nousiainen set out.
04.05hrs: Nousiainen reported from Pahkakangas. Successful transition of the lines.
18.30hrs Rgt. Adjutant liaised with Maj. Sivula's Artillery Battalion. The Art. Btn was not able to provide a F.O.O, instead advised to contact the Div. Artillery CO.
12.10hrs Lt Pursianen with his Coy set out to Tsiipakka to reinforce Maj. Saastamoinen.
16.08hrs Det. Nousiainen reporting:
Coy at Pahkakangas, 2 km S of map word letter “g”. Enemy calm on the road.
VI AC attack order to 5.D, appx. 11
02.45hrs I Btn reporting: Btn Adj. Lt. Kauppi has fallen.
09.42hrs IV AC tel.message on transfer, Appx. 12
13.00hrs Messenger officer arrived from AC with attack orders.
H Hour 1500hrs
According to the orders Detachment Riekki was dispersed as follows:
Kev. Os.4 remains as AC reserve.
III/JR50 stays at Tsiipakka to reinforce Maj. Saarelainen.
Coy Manninen was assigned the old task of Det. Riekko, they shall join Det Nousiainen at the Riekkola Terrain where Det. Nousiainen is to be subordinated to Det. Manninen.
Det. Manninen shall include their Company and one Mortar Platoon, one AT platoon and one MG platoon.
Det. Manninen (Det. Riekko) shall advance as fast as possible to the Saarilahti terrain where they shall cut off the roads.
19.45hrs Rgt HQ set out to their new location at Havuvaara terrain.
21.30hrs Rgt HQ arrived at Havuvaara terrain
22.35hrs Rgt CO arrived at Havuvaara.
02.30hrs I Btn arrived at Havuvaara terrain.
II Btn arrived, partly before, partly after I Btn.
08.15hrs III Btn arrived at Havuvaara terrain
11.D HQ attack order (
Rgt started heading for the new grouping area.
19.30hrs HQ arrived at Kastuvaara.
IV AC orders (, 15, 16, 17)
19.45hrs Air raid at Kastuvaara.
20.15 C.P. In readiness at the Kontiovaara brook line.
21.30hrs II Btn issued spoken order to move to jump-off positions N of Kiekua village.
Their task: to take Kiekua and be ready to advance to Laaja and to secure to the direction of Lehtomäki. A support battery shall be subordinated to II Btn.
H hour to be informed later.
22.15hrs Reinforced I Btn was issued orders to advance E of Kiekuanjärvi
The attack could not be started since the Artillery Battalion was not detached from JR8.
05.30 III Btn was ordered to move to Kontiovaara and get ready to attack in the direction of Kiekua.
06.50hrs Btn Sammalkorpi launched their attack to Laaja.
07.35hrs Report: II Btn reached Kiekua.
07.40hrs I Btn was ordered to attack S of Kiekuanjärvi to the direction of Kypärälammet, the target being the road Laaja – Lehtimäki.
(mostly blank page follows)
23.00hrs I11.D attack order received.
12.40hrs C.P. Moved to the S tip of Kiekuanjärvi .
Attack went on supported by one light and one medium Art. Btn.
II Btn (..?)
I Btn Attacking E of Kypärälammet, the target being the road at Lehtomäki.
III Btn SE of Kypärälammet “t” , the target being the Lehtomäki crossroads.
16.00hrs I Btn tel.message (
17.20hrs II Btn reported on their new grouping:
On the right 5.K to Juttulampi terrain, but unable to advance.
4.K has advanced on the height of the houses situated 300m N of the map word Laajo “j”.
6.K in Btn reserve (Appx. no. 20)
19.10hrs III Btn arrived, grouped for attack at Kypärälammet terrain to attack after artillery preparation .
III Btn report Appx. no. 21, 22.
19.30hrs Liaison officer sent by Det. Nousiainen (Kev.Os.10) who reported that Kev.Os.10 is grouping for attack.

14.7.-21.7.1941: Appx. 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31
Appx.23: (12455 / 111) Regimental order for march 16.7.1941
Appx.24: (12455 / 113) Div. Attack Order to JR 50 CO 16.7.1941 14.19hrs
Appx.25: (12455 / 115) Div. Attack Order to JR 50 CO 16.7.1941, a detailed one
Appx.26: (12455 /117) Div. Order to JR 50 17.7.1941 01.20hrs, received 02.45hrs
etc. orders issued to JR 50.

New war diary starting on 21.7.1941

I/JR50 war diary extract:

Battle Group Riekko was issued attack orders (appx no.2)
AM: Patrol led by Staff Sgt. Keskinen, strength 1+4, set out.
21.00hrs Battalion started moving to the terrain E of Onnenvirta.
01.00hrs Patrol led by Sr.Sgt. Savonen set off for a recon mission. They were to find out, about the enemy meal times for instance. Patrol returned with the data requested.
Jaeger Platoon was attached to the Sissi detachment set up by the Regiment, they were to proceed beyond the border line on the 8th July evening.
Companies were ordered to strengthen securing at the front line.
01.30hrs Battalion adjutant Lt. Kauppi was KIA SW of the Korpiselkä village.
14.30hrs Battalion set out to march in the direction of Värtsilä.
04.30hrs Battalion arrived at the terrain N of Havuvaara.
PM Battalion continued marching to Kontiovaara.
Battalion was engaged by the enemy N of Lehtomäki at the road to Lehtomäki. (Map: Suistamo 1: 100000) .
The task was to take the crossroads and harass in the enemy rear. Battalion had to struggle greatly due to terrain difficulties as ammunition and proviant had to be carried by men. There was no artillery support. According to the data by the C.S.S. WIA 4+4+12.
06.00hrs Battalion set up securing at the Kypärälammet terrain.
09.45hrs Battalion was transferred to a brook line W of map word Kiekua.
14.00hrs Order to advance received. During advance Battalion was several times subjected to artillery strafing resulting in casualties. 2.K advanced from Kypärälammet to SW up to the N perimeter of the Y shaped open ground; 3.K and 1.KKK followed.
24.00hrs Artillery F.O.O arrived
A detailed shelling plan was drawn up for the Art.Btn. To enable it a phone line was built in the terrain at Kypärälammet while 3.K was securing south of Kypärälammet.
05.00hrs Artillery preparation started but artillery was not able to support the attack continuously because their fire was needed elsewhere. Battalion advanced to the N perimeter of the Y shaped open ground. Again under artillery strafe on the way there. Battalion grouped for attack at the S perimeter of the open ground as follows:
On the right side of the path 2.K and on the left side 3.K. MG s had been subordinated to both Companies.
As the Battalion reached the vicinity of the road some movement was detected at the perimeter of the open ground, some twenty horses tied to trees. Minor enemy outfits were eliminated and Battalion fanned out on both sides of the path at the side of the road.
Battalion CO issued orders to start rolling in the direction of the road for the Lehtomäki crossroads.
2.K advanced on the N side of the road.
3.K attacked across the open ground and the road, then starting to roll to E on the S side of the road.
I/2.K had been left to secure the open ground NW of Kypärälammet.
One squad was sent to flank patrol to secure the left flank and reconnoitre the enemy manning in that direction.
2.K started rolling the low ground N of the road, aiming for the schoolhouse terrain.
Some of II Platoon and I Platoon could not cross the road since an enemy armoured car arrived from the direction of Laaja and kept firing intensely.
By the order of Battalion CO this outfit led by Lt. Kotkaniemi started securing on the N side of the road to W.
The rest of 3.K started advancing on a 300m wide front for E and taking one AT gun among other material.
2.K reached their target making it to a low hill N of the schoolhouse. There 2.K was able to support the advance of 3 .K with their fire.
3.K reached the schoolhouse level but was unable to liaise with 2.K across the road due to the enemies there. To liaise, 3.K CO detoured W of the schoolhouse to the hill N of it.
The Coy attacked in two waves. The first wave comprised 30 men and they made it to the hill N of the schoolhouse. As the second wave failed to turn up the outfit advanced to the N end of the Y shaped open ground and on via Kypärälammet to the Battalion CP 1 km S of Kiekua .
The second wave did also cross the road liaising with 2.K and setting up securing with one of 2.K Platoons on the S slope of the hill N of the schoolhouse. The rest of 2 .K started sweeping the hill for enemy weapons nests.
Enemy started firing the hill held by 2.K and parts of 3.K heavily with direct fire guns and mortars . By the by their situation became intolerable as the enemy tried to surround our troops on the hill, via the schoolhouse terrain.
Coy CO tried to contact the Btn CO but failed. Coy CO ordered to withdraw W along the N side of the road.
By the order of Btn CO 2.K set up positions on the N perimeter of the open ground at the road and secure the hill on the right side,.
Enemy kept firing at our positions constantly and tried to surround the Battalion from N. Thereby Btn CO ordered the Btn to pull back a little for new positions
A Sapper Coy arrived and they were ordered to take positions at the right side of the path to the road . Two Sapper Squads were tasked to sweep the hills on the Right side of the positions
In the evening the Jaeger Platoon still skirmished with enemy patrols, taking prisoners and war booty.
In the morning it was found that the enemy had withdrawn their troops.
10.00hrs Battalion commenced march via Lehtomäki crossroads for Jalovaara and on to Suistamo.
(End of day)

II/JR50 war diary extract: (remarkably good handwriting on standard template) 12583

03.30hrs Lumme reported: they have manned the Talikkalampi terrain and spotted a Russki observation balloon behind the mill E of Talikkajärvi.
07.30hrs Lt. Huuskonen and 8 men set out to reconnoitre the terrain at Hamiivaara.
11.00hrs Rgt. CO visited the bivouac area and ordered the Btn to relocate in the terrain E of Onnenvirta.
12.40hrs Btn CO sent an officer from each units to bivouac recon. Btn CO inspected 5.K which is in sentry duty.
18.00hrs Btn started moving to the terrain E of Onnenvirta.
23.00hrs Bivouacking completed.
23.00hrs Patrol Huuskonen returned from mission, they did not complete it because they were ambushed at the mill 1 km S of map word “Korpiselkä” “l” where the patrol reported a double sentry post. The patrol crossed the border about 1 km NE of map word “Talikkajärvi” and advanced to E. Near the border line was observed a wire fence and on the isthmus between Korpiselkäkangas S perimeter and the brook an abatis. At the bridge Korpiselkä Hemiinvaara a horse dugout and 5 horses. The brook is about 10m wide at that spot.
04,00-07.00hrs Thick smoke at Hemiinvaara implying the village is being burnt down.
11.40hrs 5.K reported from the front line that their patrol was observing today 0500-1000hrs at the W perimeter of the open ground at Korpiselkä to find out the hours Russkies had their meals. The patrol spotted a MG position at the edge of the open ground and another at the crossing of the open ground and the Talikkajärvi – Korpiselkä road. This position had been blown up by our men last night and now 5 men had been repairing it since 0700hrs.
15.00hrs At Korpiselkä village Russki church was seen how some 25 men were moving then vanished underground which implies trenches at the church area. 4 horses and one lorry seen on the road.
On the road S of map word “Korpijärvi” our observers a gun in position and as it fired it was assumed to be an AT gun.
15.00hrs 2 enemy bombers overflew our bivouac area dropping 3 bombs of which one dud.
Bombs hit N of our bivouac area.
01,30hrs Enemy artillery fired several shells at our bivouac area without causing casualties or damage. The shells hit N of our area, some landed next to the tents.
An enemy observation balloon was seen.
08.30hrs Rgt.CO inspected the securing of the front line.
An enemy a/c flew overhead from S to N.
Enemy artillery shelling at a slow rate all PM. Several shells landed at out bivouac but no damages.
18.00hrs Jaeger Platoon + 1 LMG + AT rifle and 1+3 AT men set out to join the Rgt. Jaeger Platoon.
Battle detachment Riekko attack order (Appx. no. 0001.)
20.00hrs JR44 men relieved 5.K from sentry duty . 5.K stayed in the same spot in terrain for R&R.
05.40hrs Two enemy bombers overflew the bivouac area, bombing the Onnenvirta bridge.
Btn was inoculated for a second time against dysentery.
14.00-16.00hrs Our a/c flying over Ahvenvaara.
PM: our artillery shelled Korpiselkä village.
23.50hrs Our artillery launched a heavy strafe at Korpiselkä.
10.05hrs Btn was issued a spoken marching order by Rgt CO .
Battalion order:
Battalion shall be transferred to Havuvaara and bivouac there.
We shall march the route Kenraalinkylä-Saarivaara-Havuvaara.
Order: Admin, 4.K, 5.K, 6.K, 2.KKK, Mortar Platoon, two AT gun Platoons, HQ, baggage train.
Grouping at bivouac areas.
Start at my order, unit by unit, 30 min intervals.
AA during the march : one MG platoon
15.00hrs Btn started marching as ordered
06.00hrs Battalion arrived at the Havuvaara village area, N side, bivouacked there in tents.
14.05hrs Btn was delivered Rgt order by a messenger officer:
Battalion is transferred via Havuvaara-Kontiovaara to Kontiovaara terrain.
15.20hrs Btn CO issued spoken marching order:
Rgt shall march on the road Havuvaara-Kontiovaara-Kiekuajärvi in order: I, II, III/JR50.
II/JR50 shall march in the following order:
Admin, 4.K, 5.K, 6.K +MG Platoon+AT Squad, KKK less two MG Platoons, both AT gun Platoons, Mortar Platoon+Mortar squad of the Rgt Mortar Coy. Baggage train led by the Quartermaster Officer shall follow the Battalion.
Meal at Pahkavaara.
Grouping on the road at the bivouac area at 16.40hrs
Start at 16.45hrs.
19.45hrs Btn arrived at the objective, Kontiovaara and bivouacked.
21.20hrs Regimental order:
Battalion shall at first take Kiekua, then the terrain N of Laaja village, and set a defensive line in the direction of Juttulampi and secure in the direction of Lehtomäki.
H-hour to be announced later.
Btn CO issued the following order:
Coy CO s and the leaders of the subordinated two AT squads and one Mortar squad.
4.K+two AT Platoons+one MG Platoon shall advance on the rod to the Kiekua E. terrain relieving 8./JR50 and setting up defence line in the said terrain.
5.K and 6.K shall group in the terrain W of Kiekuanjärvi W of the road.
5.K+1 MG Platoon+Mortar Platoon are tasked to advance W of the Kiekua open ground to the level of the S perimeter of the open ground.
6.K less one Platoon + AT Squad are tasked to advance on the right flank of 5.K for a point room N of map word “Juttulampi” “a”, having reached the objective to secure to the direction of Koirinvaara.
Ammunition: Triple ration for men.
Tst.KM I and II shall remain in the terrain N of Kaatiovaara led by the Quartermaster Officer and move in the direction of the road upon my order.
Ammunition replenishment point and C.S.S at the level of the S tip of Kiekuanjärvi lake W of the road.
Phone connection to be created with 4.K and 5.K.
Grouping to be completed at 03.40hrs
Btn reserve and C.P. With 5.K
Start : at my order.
03.30hrs 4.K relieved 8./JR50 from the front line.
03.40hrs Btn started advancing.
When Btn was grouping the enemy harassed the grouping area with artillery and mortar fire.
06.10hrs Btn CO issued by telephone order to 5.K CO to advance in the direction of the road, objective the N edge of the open ground at Laaja, intermediate objective the hut at Juttulampi.
08.15hrs 4.K CO reported having engaged entrenched enemy and advanced to the Juttulampi hut terrain. Was ordered to keep advancing.
09.20hrs 5.K and 6.K CO s reported that they had reached their objectives. Btn CO issued orders to 5.K CO to continue advancing in the direction of “Laaja “,the objective being the Laaja crossroads, interim objectives being the road Koirinvaara-Laaja.
6.K CO was ordered to advance in the direction of “Juttulampi” to the Koirinvaara road, take the road and liaise with 8/JR9 advancing on the right wing.
10.10hrs 4.K CO reported : he had fought and advanced to the N perimeter of the Laaja open ground. He was ordered to set up defences.
11.40hrs 5.K CO reported : he had taken a hill N of Laaja after a hard battle, the hill commands the road Koirinvaara-Laaja.
Enemy artillery and mortar harassment fire going on at the 5.K terrain the Coy was ordered to stop.
Our Mortar Platoon and the subordinated Mortar Squad supported 5.K.
12.40hrs 6.K runner came with a report that the Coy is fighting at Juttulampi terrain having engaged the enemy at 1120hrs and having liaised with 9./JR8 and launching the attack for the objective.
13.55hrs 6.K CO written report: “I have reached the target at 1140hrs and I am commanding the road Koirinvaara-Laaja, enemy pressure on the right wing increasing.”
To secure the right flank Btn CO issued orders to the rifle Platoon in reserve to eliminate the scattered enemy groups at Juttulampi terrain.
14.00hrs Btn CO reported to Regiment: Battalion has reached the objective W of Laaja crossroads.
18.45hrs 5.K deputy CO reported: due to intense enemy artillery and mortar barrages he has withdrawn from the said hill about 200m N and set up defences there.
Later Enemy launched several counter-strikes at 5.K but they were beaten back with heavy casualties to the enemy. Likewise at 4.K in defence, attacks beaten back.
01.15hrs Regimental order
Received by telephone and ordering Battalion to attack via Laaja crossroads up to the shore of Jänisjärvi lake and then continue via Kintainniemi to Soanlahti where Battalion shall have R&R.
00.45hrs Btn CO sent a patrol of 5.K , one Platoon in strength , to find out about the enemy strength and grouping on the isthmus between Laaja and Jänisjärvi
4.K CO was ordered to reconnoitre with a 1+5 patrol enemy manning in the terrain N of Laaja.
03.30hrs 6.K arrived at the Btn C.P having handed over their securing task to 9./JR29 and was left there as Btn reserve,
06.30hrs Btn CO issued orders to 5.K to attack supported by their Mortar fire via Laaja to the Koirinvaara road, objective Jänisjärvi, having reached it to advance in the direction of Lehtomäki, objective being the E perimeter of the open ground at Laaja, right limit Jänisjärvi, left limit the road (included)
4.K was ordered to attack on the W side of the road to the Laaja crossroads while liaising with 5.K.
08.30hrs 5.K CO reporting: The patrol had returned. The patrol had met strong enemy in the direction of the road and had failed to reach the objective
4.K and 5.K were engaged in heavy fighting.
12.00hrs 5.K CO reporting: He is facing a strong enemy and despite several attempts has not been able to advance. Also he has managed to liaise with III/JR29 on his right wing and contact with 4.K has been maintained.
4.K CO reporting: he is unable to advance.
As soon as the attack was launched enemy launched very heavy mortar and direct fire cannon fire at the attack terrain which later was joined by the fire of MG s and LMG s. It seemed impossible to continue attack supported by our heavy weapons. (sic) The attack stalled.
15.00hrs Btn C.P and reserve were shifted some 500m N of the Laaja open ground (layover diagram,
01.45hrs Btn CO received orders to launch an attack after artillery preparation at 0600 and take over the terrain at Laaja and advance up to Lehtomäki crossroads including the road.
Having received the orders Btn CO liaised with the supporting battery CO agreeing on targets and firing plan.
05.00hrs Battalion order
Basing on the Regimental Order Btn CO issued the following orders to Coy CO s:
6.K shall attack across the Kiekua-Laaja road and takes over the terrain at “Laaja” and keep advancing for the hill about 1 km N of the road at Veljakkajoki .
Our artillery shall open fire at H-3 at the first hill, shifting aim for the next hill at H+2 and on at H+15, also the Rgt. Heavy mortars shall support the attack.
5.K shall attack via the crossroads terrain and continue advancing S of the road for Veljakkajoki.
4.K shall be in support positions at the start of the attack, then stays behind as my reserve. Mortar and AT Platoons shall support 5.K
AJ p and JS p (ammunition replenishment, C.S.S.) are situated at Juttulampi in the terrain of the hut. Baggage train shall move to the level of Kiekuajärvi S tip.
My C.P shall keep moving near the road in its direction.
Telephone connection to 5.K and 6.K.

For some unknown reason the agreed artillery support failed to materialize although H hour was shifted to 0645hrs when the attack was launched without artillery preparation. The attack was successful, the well entrenched enemy was forced to retreat.

10.35hrs 5.K CO report: he has reached his objective but due to difficult terrain and enemy direct fire cannons he was in defensive positions in the terrain S of Laaja.
6.K advance was checked by strong enemy resistance on the hill NE of Laaja.
10.40hrs 4.K CO was issued orders to move in the terrain N of Laaja.
11.20hrs Btn CO requested artillery fire at the Lehtomäki road on both sides in the direction of advance.
11.30hrs Capt. Sammalkorpi was ordered to arrive at the Rgt HQ and the duty of Btn CO was taken over by Capt. Huhtala.
13.00hrs Btn C.P was shifted on a hill E of the Laaja open ground with 6.K.
Capt. Huhtala was issued during the day and the next night several orders, each differing from the previous one which could not be carried out in time before the next order countered the previous one.
During PM and the night the enemy harassed with mortar fire.

05.05hrs: Btn CO was issued by telephone an order to hand over front to JR29 and march to the Rgt. C.P at a spot 1 km NW of Kypärälampi using the road Laaja-Kiekua-Kypärälampi.
06.30hrs Btn set out to march.

Casualties during the battles at Kiekua-Laaja:
Our: KIA 0+5+22
WIA 3+8+46
Total 3+13+68
Enemy: KIA about 100 to 150.
POW: 1+18
Total about 169.
War booty:
4 lorries, 2 cars, 4 heavy mortars etc.,
08.00hrs Capt. Huhtala was ordered to return to the Rgt HQ and Capt. E. Väänänen was ordered to take the command.
09.00hrs Battalion arrived at the edge of open ground at 1100 m S of “Kiekua” where they had a meal.
09.40hrs Spoken order by Rgt:
Battalion shall advance Lehtomäki.
Battalion shall attack through the lines of I/JR50 (Btn Lieska)
19,45hrs The four recon patrols returned reporting that they had met only scattered withdrawing enemy groups.
21.15hrs Battalion started advancing.
The terrain was extremely difficult to pass and the troops still inexperienced in moving in battle formation which caused several stops to control the formation and re-establishing it.
00.30hrs Battalion arrived at the objective without casualties [Lehtomäki].'
01.00hrs Btn sent an officer patrol to report to Rgt CO that the battalion is at the objective and Soanlahti village is burning.

JR 50 was repositioned on the 17.7.1941 to defend the sector Jänisjärvi-Harlu at Jänisjoki river. The task was to repel any attacks of the enemy surrounded NW of Lake Ladoga to East. The troops
participated on the 20.7.1941, supported by artillery, in clearing the mottis W of Jänisjoki river.

Posts: 800
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 21 Jan 2023 10:30

Onni Lavi

Counter-strike at “Kill Hill”

Unpublished manuscript no.192/72 in the archive of “Kansa Taisteli”

Winter War, Kollaa, JP 1

It was about Jan 20th 1940 as JP1 disembarked from train at Loimola station. Skiing away from the Loimola station succeeded unnoticed by the enemy, aerial activities were not very lively just then. We bivouacked near Loimola town in our tents. The next day was devoted for gear maintenance, we were equipped with leather skiing boots, the season for rubber boots was over. They were bad as skiing boots, your feet were likely to freeze as you stepped on skis. We were all given clean white snow suits. This all implied that we would soon be taken to the front line, as reserve at Kollaanjoki or anywhere else we would be needed. The very next day 2./JP1 was skiing on the road to Kollaa. I can well remember it was a cloudy cold day with some snowfall as we were heading for the front line.

Judging by the sounds of infantry weapons we were quite close to the front line now. The Company turned South following a supply road, then we bivouacked in the terrain between the road and the rail line near the supply road. We dug our tents in the ground and camouflaged them.

We were very interested in the goings-on at the front line, we knew that Capt. Aarne Juutilainen alias the Terror of Morocco with his outfit was holding the front line at the road. Newspapers had repeated often that another enemy attack had been repulsed and Juutilainen's name had been mentioned.

Our idleness did not last but a moment. It was the 25th January 1940, one of the most significant days in the history of JP.1. In the afternoon a rumour was spread: our Company CO Lt. Reino Honkanen had been summoned to the Battalion C.P. Mostly that kind of thing means action for the outfit in reserve, this is what happened now. Soon a Runner entered our tent and informed that they Company is to rally at the supply roads after 15 minutes in full battle gear without backpacks. Each platoon was to leave one man to guard the tents and see to it that the tents would be warm when the Company would return.

Lt. Honkanen briefed us on the situation, saying that the enemy has taken one of the front line strong-points and our task was to retake it from the enemy. He went on saying that since his Company has experience in counter-strike fighting he took this task to be carried out by the Company. ( He must have referred to the counter-strike carried out by our Company at the very beginning of the war as we repelled the enemy beyond Vammeljoki river while manning the positions at the riverside.)

The Company took on skis and march to the jump-off point for the counter-strike started as the dusk was falling. We arrived at a C.P, it could have been that of JR 35 or one of their battalions and had a break. The rank and file do not know so much, and I am describing what I saw and experienced. Then we skied up a supply road under enemy harassment shelling. Most shells hit a bog, lumps of mud were falling on the supply road, hampering the sliding of our skis.

Bands of tracer bullets were seen far on the bog informing us that we would soon be at our destination. We arrived at a dugout and stopped there. Preparations for the counter-strike were started at once. Lt. Honkanen said that 2nd Lt. Linko shall take over the command of the Company to lead the counter-strike. Reorganization started. II Platoon in which I was was disassembled, because the 1st and 2nd LMG Squad were positioned on a hillock from where Matilainen's LMG would fire barrage across the bog that the enemy had crossed and from the other wing a MG would fire at the same spot to prevent the enemy from getting out and sending reinforcements. Two Squads of the II Platoon were positioned on the left wing. Kähönen's LMG of which I was the assistant was positioned on the extreme left wing. I Platoon was to attack in the middle of the sector and III Platoon led by 2nd Lt. Karppi was to attack on the right wing, and so the Company was set up for action.

First our mortars would fire a barrage and the counter-strike would start as a red flare was fired. The Platoons moved in their places in the front line under extreme silence . When we were going up a trodden path we met a defender of the hill coming our way. Whispering we asked: “where are they”, the whispered answer was “they are right there on that hillock”. He beckoned at a hill seen rising from the forest at a distance of less than 100m , whispering also that “there is a lot of them”.

Waiting for the H hour and digging positions in snow I and Kähönen made a plan which trees and higher spots of the terrain we would utilize when attacking, there was thick snow which meant that our advance would be slow. There was also time for a brief prayer to G-d that he would spare me and also my brothers in arms from enemy bullets. This kind of painful waiting confuses one's thoughts, one gets all kinds of ideas, would this be the last attack, is the end at hand ?

The sounds of mortar shots informed that now it starts. Hissing of mortar bombs grew louder, they fell on the designated targets, and to our amazement they all exploded. In our opinion far too little was fired but the same moment a red flare appeared on the sky, turning the snow into red colour as if foreboding evil.

The air was filled with the yells of Jaegers “hakkaa päälle, hakkaa päälle” as they were dashing towards the hill but they were met by a hell of a firing, there was just a constant noise of infantry weapons through which we could barely hear shouts “hakkaa päälle, hakkaa päälle”, “eteenpäin” [forward ], “Lääkintämies” [paramedic] which indicated that there were casualties.

The attack continued. Kähonen and I managed to advance some tens of meters dashing in thick snow but it was very slow going. There was enemy MG fire aimed at us. As we had placed some well aimed bursts at the muzzle flames we were taking a terrible shower of bullets but to our fortune they were flying overhead, judging by the tracers. As we sought cover behind trees, bark was flying at our faces.

The attack was progressing, the sounds of our weapons could be heard near the outermost enemy weapons nests, also the explosions of hand grenades could be heard among the terrible din of firing. There was an enemy radio station on the hill, at moments of relative silence the radio operator was requesting reinforcements. That is what was told afterwards, there were in our Company lads hailing from Uusikirkko, Kivennapa, Terijoki and other places at the border so some of them knew Russian.

At the spot where we found ourselves the hillside was very steep, it was impossible to climb it. We also found ourselves in a dead angle as to the enemy fire. This saved our Squad from losses even though we were thinking that no one is going to survive this unscathed.

Sounds of battle died down by the by, the wounded were wailing and asking for help. The counter-strike had somehow stalled and we were unable to advance. An order was passed : The Company is to pull back to jump-off positions and shall attack again later.

In positions that had been dug in snow we were on sentry duty all night while observing what was going on on the enemy hill. The enemy radio had turned silent, at times in moonlight we saw some grey shadows at which we opened fire but the enemy retaliation was not such a massive burst of bullets as earlier that night.

Finally at dawn we were allowed to get in a local infantry dugout for a meal and to warm up in turns. At last it was my turn to go. At the infantry dugout there were placed lying in a row many of my good friends who no more were neither hungry nor cold, it was all over for them. It had been just one sting (the Jaegers would say so when going over the top). There were a lot of them, almost thirty, among them well liked 2nd Lt. Linko who had led the counter-strike, also lads of my age class whose names I remember were in that silent row. There was Onni Hämäläinen, who had been in the lower bunk when we were recruits, from the same parish as I, also Unto Salminen from Sysmä, he had had the next bunk in the barracks, lads from Uusikirkko: Lauri Kakko and Unto Hietanen, also Esko Salminen and many others whose names I forget.

This was a hard blow to the Company as so many men had fallen and wounded, the morale was low among us. 2nd Lt. Karppi was assembling a strike force tasked to attack at the hill as soon as the mortars had sent a barrage there. Their task appeared to be hopeless, it was as if going to certain death, did that hill not create enough victims yet ?

I retuned to our LMG, everything appeared to be quiet on the hill. After a while we heard the shots of our mortars, a new preparation had been launched. Every bomb exploded and they hit the target accurately, but there were just a few of them. The strike force led by Karppi was on the move, there were cries “Hakkaa päälle” and SMGs were buzzing. Soon we saw them on the top of the hiill, they had met next to no resistance. The enemy had been decimated by our accurate fire and furious hand to hand fighting last night, also the very cold January night had had its effect. The hill was again held by our troops.

It was hard to believe how many enemies were there on the hill, they were all about the place in piles, probably two companies had been crowding the hill. These tenacious defenders had been crack troops which had been apparent by their furious fighting. Also upon closer examination we found that many of them were carrying Communist Party membership books with photograph, they had also been trained as parachutists.

The enemy had also brought – as far as I remember – eight MG s on the hill. They had been mounted on aluminium ahkio sleds which also functioned as mountings. All of their weapons had been painted white, there were great quantities of LMG s and other weapons, no one bothered to count them. There was also a radio transmitter they had used to call for help. Checking all of this we took two completely undamaged POWs found under dead bodies. One of the infantrymen took a bullet in his leg, fired from a ridge on the far side of the bog. He was the sole casualty of the day-time counter-strike.

It was a clearest cold day as the Company was skiing back to the tents. The march was not a triumphant one, everyone was depressed after this mental Waterloo.
But Kollaa had withstood another enemy attack.

War dead database extracts:

Karppi, Heikki Veli Vänrikki
B. 21.11.1919 Valkeala D. 10.02.1940 Nietjärvi, Impilahti age 20
Jääkäripataljoona 1, 2. komppania
KIA, evacuated and buried in Helsinki, Hietaniemi
No children

Linko, Aarni Vänrikki
B. 11.03.1917 Pori d. 27.02.1940 30.SotaS age 22
Jääkäripataljoona 1
WIA, died of his wounds. Buried in Turku
Profession: Officer, no children.

Hämäläinen, Onni Jääkäri
B. 07.10.1917 Luumäki D.25.01.1940 Kollaanjoki Age 22
Jääkäripataljoona 1
KIA, evacuated and buried in Luumäki, military cemetry
Farmer, no children

Salminen, Unto Olavi Sotamies
B 15.02.1918 Sysmä d. 25.01.1940 Kollaanjärvi, Suojärvi age 21
Jääkäripataljoona 1
KIA, evacuated and buried in Sysmä, St. Olav church cemetry
Worker, no children

Kakko, Lauri Jääkäri
B. 22.05.1918 Uusikirkko Vl D.25.01.1940 Kollaanjärvi, Suojärvi age 21
Jääkäripataljoona 1, 2. komppania
KIA, evacuated and buried in Sastamala, Kiikka cemetry.
Worker, no children

Hietanen, Eino Edvard Korpraali
B. 15.06.1918 Uusikirkko Vl D. 11.02.1940 Kollaanjoki age 21
Jääkäripataljoona 1, 2. komppania
KIA, evacuated and buried
Son of a farmer, no children

Salminen, Esko Gunnar Jääkäri
B. 08.01.1918 Padasjoki D. 25.01.1940 Kollaa age 22
Jääkäripataljoona 1, 2. komppania
KIA, evacuated and buried in Padasjoki cemetry
Worker, no children

2./JP1 suffered eight KIA on 25th Jan 1940, twenty-four during the entire Winter War.

Karppi, Heikki Veli Vänrikki
B. 21.11.1919 Valkeala D. 10.02.1940 Nietjärvi, Impilahti age 20
Jääkäripataljoona 1, 2. komppania
KIA, evacuated and buried in Helsinki, Hietaniemi
No children

Linko, Aarni Vänrikki
B. 11.03.1917 Pori d. 27.02.1940 30.SotaS age 22
Jääkäripataljoona 1
WIA, died of his wounds. Buried in Turku
Profession: Officer, no children.

Hämäläinen, Onni Jääkäri
B. 07.10.1917 Luumäki D.25.01.1940 Kollaanjoki Age 22
Jääkäripataljoona 1
KIA, evacuated and buried in Luumäki, military cemetry
Farmer, no children

Salminen, Unto Olavi Sotamies
B 15.02.1918 Sysmä d. 25.01.1940 Kollaanjärvi, Suojärvi age 21
Jääkäripataljoona 1
KIA, evacuated and buried in Sysmä, St. Olav church cemetry
Worker, no children

Kakko, Lauri Jääkäri
B. 22.05.1918 Uusikirkko Vl D.25.01.1940 Kollaanjärvi, Suojärvi age 21
Jääkäripataljoona 1, 2. komppania
KIA, evacuated and buried in Sastamala, Kiikka cemetry.
Worker, no children

Hietanen, Eino Edvard Korpraali
B. 15.06.1918 Uusikirkko Vl D. 11.02.1940 Kollaanjoki age 21
Jääkäripataljoona 1, 2. komppania
KIA, evacuated and buried
Son of a farmer, no children

Salminen, Esko Gunnar Jääkäri
B. 08.01.1918 Padasjoki D. 25.01.1940 Kollaa age 22
Jääkäripataljoona 1, 2. komppania
KIA, evacuated and buried in Padasjoki cemetry
Worker, no children

2./JP1 suffered eight KIA on 25th Jan 1940, twenty-four during the entire Winter War.
JR I War diary extract (SPK 1741)

Btn CO order to 2.K CO:
2.K is to start skiing reinforced with one MG platoon via “Hai”. Coy CO shall head for the “Hai” C.P in advance. To report to Col. Lt Kinnunen.
19.02hrs Sgt. Lintulahti received orders to proceed with a Runner to provide liaison with the above mentioned Coy and the Btn.
19.25hrs Btn CO in tel. Contact with “Hai”. He was told that “abscesses” [code word for enemy tanks, tr.rem.] have not been encountered.
19.25hrs Btn CO in tel. Contact with Linko. He reported that “abscesses” have not been encountered. However he is going to take along some “light medicine”
19.39hrs Btn CO briefed Lt. Väre on the situation.
19.55hrs Sarmatti in Tel. Contact with Konga (?)
Temperature: -9 deg C, cloudy
02.45hrs Lt. Honkanen of “Hai” reported considerable losses. He wants sleighs and paramedics.
02.50hrs Btn CO requested more information about this from “´Hai” and was told that Hanninen's (?) outfit shall take care of sick transports to the C.C.S. He also found out that the situation had been returned to what it was previously.
03.05 Btn CO issued orders via an liaison officer to the C.C.S personnel to move forward to the level of the Btn.
03.25hrs C.P. Communicated with “Karhu 2”. It was found out that Honkanen is still subordinated to “Hai”. He also enquired if the Company needs tents until “Hai” has taken care of the matter. Some of the men are to be accommodated at “Pörri” and for the rest accommodation gear shall be provided.
The entire Battalion is to be on the standby to act in the S direction starting at 0730hrs.
03.30hrs Liaison officer reported to Mikkola about standby readiness.
04.00hrs Btn CO in phone contact with “Hai 1”.
04.25hrs Btn CO in phone contact with “Pörri1” who promised to take care of the wounded.
04.45hrs Btn CO in phone contact with the right wing. He said he is going to send a liaison officer to find out about the situation.
05.05hrs Btn CO in phone contact with “Hai 1”.
05.15hrs Adjutant set out to visit each Coy CO to inform them about the situation.
05.50hrs Honkanen reported that the counter-strike had been carried out but some weapons nests were still held by the enemy. Enemy auto weapons fire intense and our casualties considerable.
06.30hrs Briefing for Coy CO s. Btn CO presented his plan for an eventual counter-strike to S.
06.50hrs Btn CO again in phone contact with Honkanen who reported that his attack had stalled. The enemy is still holding one strong weapons nest. Honkanen requested support, about two Platoons but “Karhu” had forbidden the Btn to decrease their strike potential. Hassinen was also unable to provide any more support. The men are fatigued. Btn CO promised to get support via “Hai 1” CO.
07.00hrs CO issued orders to Lt. Vuorinen to send one mortar to support Honkanen. Vuorinen reported that Staff Sgt. Matsi would be going immediately.
07.05hrs Liaison officer informed Honkanen by phone about this piece of action.
07.15hrs Btn CO ordered by phone the C.C.S to move during this day to the same level wit the C.P and assist Honkanen's paramedics.

SPK1759 2.K/JP1 war diary extract.
24.Jan. 1940 The day with a decisive impact in the history of the Company.
00.40hrs Res.2nd Lt.Toiviainen:
Toivianen's patrols returned.
03.10hrs Res.2nd Lt. Karppi:
The next patrol made up of III Platoon set out.
05.00hrs Res.2nd Lt. Karppi:
Karppi's patrol returned by the order of Coy CO.
05.00hrs Coy CO:
Coy CO returned to his C.P and reported:
Battalion has been alerted, Coy shall set out to march from Loimola rwy station to the direction of the Suojärvi road. The men are to carry their personal equipment. Mustering on skis at the road to the bivouac area.
07.15hrs Coy set out led by 2nd LT. Toivianen, Coy CO ahead in horse transport.
09.20hrs Coy arrived at the objective 10 km away from the rwy station. Coy shifted on the E side of the road and started digging splinter shelters.
14.40hrs Coy sent out a recce patrol comprising 1+7 led by Sgt. Harju, including PFC Paju, PFC Sippo, PFC Nummila, Jaeger Pyykkö, Cpl. Myllymaa, PFC Turkkila.
18.50hrs E/JP1
Coy CO summoned to the C.P
19.20hrs E/JP1
Report by phone:
Coy to get ready to launch a counter-strike, leaving on skis immediately. MG Platoon shall join in.
20.10hrs 2nd Lt. Linko:
Coy set out heading for the JR35 C.P, led by Admin Coy CO and 2nd Lt. Linko. JR35 had provided four men as guides, two of which were left behind to guide the baggage train and the MG platoon, the others joined us.
21.15hrs En route on a bog an enemy artillery barrage hit over us, 100m long.
Lightly wounded were:
Jaeger Purho, K. LMG gunner. Took a splinter in his head, after bandaging was able to return to Coy.
Cpl. Lammi. K. II Platoon NCO.
Jaeger Savolainen. SMG gunner.
23.10hrs Coy arrived at the C.P of 7./JR 34 where we dispersed due to enemy artillery harassment.
23.50hrs Coy arrived at a patch of forest N of Kollaanjärvi lake where we split up.
The jump-off point for the counter-strike was situated some 250m N.
The enemy had this morning managed, due to weak manning and a jammed MG, to take an area of about 1 ½ hectares and had dug in despite being harassed by artillery. It was assumed that the enemy force comprised about one Company.

Continued in SPK 1760
00.40hrs Coy moved running in one file to the said patch of forest, in the E side of it that was still held by our men. Actually the first foxholes and one of our MG nests taken by Russkies was 46 m off from our F.O.O post where we fanned out waiting for our artillery preparation.
01.35hrs Artillery preparation started and Coy took cover. Two Batteries fired 10 volleys that is 80 shells.
01.40hrs Attack was launched. 2nd Lt, Jalkanen moved to flank securing to block enemy support force from arriving. He had one half-platoon at his disposal. The place was to the left of the axis of attack (SW). NE from here about 200m off at the tip of the patch of forest there.
It was a frontal attack, from the left to the right: I Platoon, II ½ platoon, Admin squad, and III Platoon.
I Platoon was led by 2nd Lt. Toivianen, E.
II ½ Platoon led by Cpl. Liuhola, M.
Admin Squad led by Sgt. Janhunen, O.
III Platoon led by 2nd Lt. Karppi.
We went over the top led by 2nd Lt. Linko.
Other troops had the following roles:
½ MG Platoon led by 2nd Lt. Kauhanen was tasked to block any enemy outfits from arriving from the right wing with flanking fire.
The other ½ MG Platoon led by Cpl. Heinonen supported the attack from the front line.
I/3.K/JR35 was situated to the left of our I Platoon.
The battle was extremely intense. The enemy who had dug in opened a tough MG, auto rifle and LMG fire. Our attack went on nevertheless. We advanced right in front of the enemy where the battle turned into mutual throwing of hand grenades.
At this stage were wounded : (missing list) (sic!)
02.15hrs The attack stalled at the edge of the top of the hill. Groups of our men had penetrated among the enemy and on their E side.
Hand grenade fighting continues and casualties are increasing.
One MG has been taken and one MG nest has been cleared with hand grenades.
03.00hrs Action is interrupted to secure the strong-point. Any enemy attempts to intervene from E are to be repelled and the enemy on the hill is to be kept under constant fire, to prevent them from doing any F.F. Work .
Our troops are unable to disengage nor could they be shifted due to the advantageous line we had gained. Loss of commanders, getting wet and cold plus one week with no sleep began to hamper our performance. Auto weapons were constantly jamming and they were unjammed in a tent. Getting the wounded and fallen evacuated from the fighting line tied up men constantly.
_06.00 to 08.00hrs By request of 1.K/JR35 the securing of the N flank was relieved (one MG Platoon). First they amend a little the first line placement and then are able to carry out the relief.
Constant requests for reinforcements and JP1 mortar outfit.
11.00hrs Reinforcement Platoon of JR 35 arrived led by res. 2nd Lt. Sarvilinna. Attack was being prepared.
12.45hrs ½ Mortar Platoon of JP1 arrived and a Mortar F.O.O squad of JR 35.
13.45hrs Final attack supported by mortar fire. Artillery harassment at the E edge of the bog.
14.45hrs The hill was totally taken.
:15.00 to 17.00hrs Collecting war booty.
18.00hrs 2.K/JP1 started return march to the bivouac
The battle had turned exceptionally difficult. We constantly stuck to the positions we had taken and to support us the Battalion Mortar outfit was on their way.
The excellence that our lads had so far shown shall never be forgotten neither by us who were in it and the entire Finnish nation. Their deed shall be written on the pages of history as one of the most beautiful pieces of action of our fight for freedom.
11.20hrs Staff Sergeant Matsi with the Mortar outfit arrived at the scene of action.
11.45hrs Mortar outfit opened an accurate and effective fire at the dug in enemy, to disable it. Be it mentioned that the F.O.O squad observers pushed so close to the enemy that the nearest Russkies had to be fired at with rifles at every turn. This may be the reason why already the third mortar bomb broke the helmets of five enemy men.
12.45hrs Lt. Honkanen:
Coy CO rallied again the squads and the troops were given some food and rest, too and soon they were eager to engage the enemy again. Two dedicated assault squads were set up and equipped with a lot of hand grenades. One of them was led by 2nd Lt. Karppi and the other one by Sgt. Janhunen, O. Now the case was soon closed. We made it right to the top ridge of the hill and we cleared the entire battlefield. We were able to evacuate our fallen and started sweeping the terrain totally.
14.15hrs One fake dead Russki shot Sgt. Janhunen in his right thigh. After this we did not get any more POW s of which three had been taken by then.
Sweeping the terrain and collecting war booty continued. Our booty included 6 MG s and one of our MG s taken by enemy, 12 LMGs model Degtarjeff, 23 autoloading rifles, more than one hundred infantry rifles, one sniper rifle, automatic telephone connected to a radio transmitter /receiver, one periscope binocular and plenty of other stuff.
15.30hrs Coy CO:
We had carried out our task and were allowed to leave. Coy skied away in a single file led by 2nd Lt. Linko to our old bivouac
18.20hrs Arrived at bivouac Coy preparing for a meal.
19.10hrs Staff Sgt. Rusks arrived together with the Coy baggage train. Dry rations were distributed and Coy turned in.
(Situation report no.28 by 12.D HQ on 28.1.1940 OMITTED , tr.rem)
06.00hrs Staff Sergeant
Meal ready, Coy at R&R for AM after heavy work yesterday.
09.00hrs Sgt. Harju took some men and three horses to retrieve rifles, ammunition and Coy wounded from the battlefield.
12.15hrs E./JP1
Runner brought an order on Btn CO briefing at 1300hrs today.
12.25hrs Staff Sergeant
Meal and distribution of dry rations.
13.00hrs Briefing by Btn CO for Coy. CO uttered a few beautiful words for Coy.
14.30hrs Coy set in standby to leave in 20 min. At the railway enemy attack supported by tanks is going on.

(End of extract...)

SPK1753 2.K/JP 1 war diary extract
Battle at Vammelsuu (sic) :
14.30hrs Btn CO phoned and ordered 2.K + Cad. Karinen's ½ MG Platoon to launch a counter-strike at the Vammelsuu Russian chapel.
14.45hrs Coy set out. Coy CO and some of the HQ Squad on bikes as avant-garde, the rest led by 2nd Lt. Linko, II Platoon leading.
At the Vanhasaha river bridge 2nd Lt. Linko's Platoon took the lead heading for the chapel. Coy reached the chapel without meeting anyone.
(Details of the battle are missing) (sic!)
Casualties and wounded:
Cad. Serola was wounded in head and died on the chapel hill having been taken there, Aspirant Pelin was shot through his liver (died later at the C.C.S.)
Jaeger Lehto was wounded in one knee and Jaeger Lepistö in his back.
21.30hrs Maj. Mäntylä announced that Coy is to disengage at 2230 hrs as our artillery shall strafe no-man's-land. Coy is to be at 0030hrs at the Mustanmäki crossroads.
21.35hrs Coy CO contacted Btn CO and made sure that his orders were all right.
22.30hrs Coy disengaged. At the same time our artillery barrage was launched.
(end of day)

War dead database extract:
Serola (ex. Sparqvist), Alpo Olavi Vänrikki
B. 04.02.1915 Viipuri D.02.12.1939 Vammelsuu, Uusikirkko age 24
Er.Pst.Tyk.J (Detached AT gun Platoon)
KIA, evacuated and buried.
Cadre officer, no children.

Pelin, Oiva Ilmari Vänrikki
B. 30.05.1912 Helsinki D. 09.12.1939 age 27
Jääkäripataljoona 1, 2. komppania
WIA, died, evacuated and buried in Helsinki, Hietaniemi
Civilian title B.Econ., no children

Posts: 800
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 28 Jan 2023 14:31

Jouni Kortelainen
The day Viipuri was lost

Magazine “Kansa Taisteli” 04, 1963

The illustration of the article in the magazine implies that the unit of the author was (82nd Heavy AA Battery). Names, dates, times and some other details do not match with war diaries.
It seems that while the 82nd moved one three men and a 20mm VKT twin AA gun were forgotten . The 101st Section did not care about them either, not being their me.

The long barrels of our AA battery were pointing at the sky covered in reddish smoke clouds. The gun crews were waiting at their guns. Recently they had been informed that the combined AA gun and projector battery would be moved from the Patterinmäki hill in Viipuri to Imatra where a part of the AA Battalion already had been in position. Noise of fighting was approaching during the night 19 to 20 June 1944 the suburbs. From the direction of Säiniö on the Isthmus road the enemy was pushing on with great numbers. Artillery shelling and aerial bombardment was hitting the city center slowly turning it into ruins. Fires were running wild, collapsed buildings were blocking the streets and electricity and water networks stopped working. The city would not be able to withstand the terrible pressure exerted by the enemy.

Our battery had been for a fortnight been suffering from a shortage of ammunition. At the very moment as the change of positions was at hand our Battery had but a crate in reserve. IT would not matter much, everyone knew that, and they were appreciated as their weight in gold. We would fire only when enemy aircraft were bold enough to fly low over our gun pits on the Patterinmäki hill. Often an aircraft would descend in a fiery spiral or would wobble home like a crow struck by birdshot to his dump.

Ammunition and food had to be economised, men, too, if possible. But Viipuri would be let to collapse. It could be rebuilt later. I was sitting on the carriage of my gun watching the burning city suffering under war. Noises of fighting came in rising and falling waves of sound. Crackling, crashing and bangs, near and far. Here and there a fire was burning or a column of smoke was rising from a fire created by fire bombs.

Battery CO 2nd Lt. Ropo came to our gun. His face was sporting a two week stubble and a tired countenance. Having started at our gun for a while without talking he finally said_
-We shall be out of here as soon as we get some lorries. Our Sarge is looking for them in the city because ours have been taken away to evacuate civilians. Get the gun ready for transport. We shall no more be firing from here.

Having set up the gun for transport we headed for our shelter to wait. It was to be a long wait, we made some tea and had a nap before we were told tat the lorries were there and it was time to get out. Loading was done quickly, everyone was apparently willing to leave the doomed city. The very moment we were hit by heavy shelling. Enemy observation had spotted our plans. Their artillery was firing from the direction of Säiniö and the barrage covered the entire Patterinmäki hill.

One shell had landed in front of one of the lorries. The gun was slightly damaged but the lorry was knocked out. The engine did not start and the front tires were shredded. We just stood there not knowing what to do. Our Sarge swore in his home dialect:
-I just stole that lorry from the Co-Op yard !
-We have to leave the gun here and retrieve it as soon as the rest of our equipment has been taken to Imatra, our CO ordered, adding:
-Gunners Kortelainen, Pelttari and Haavisto are staying here to guard the gun.
-What sense is there in guarding a damaged gun? We grumbled among ourselves.

As soon as the column had vanished in the smoke covering the city we slipped in our shelter, laying down on the hard board platforms to wait for a lorry. We waited for a long time but as there was no lorry coming we became impatient. Why is the lorry not coming already? The noise of war could be heard dampened in our shelter, just shells landing nearby made a bigger noise. Earth would shake and dry earth would fall on us between the cracks of the roof logs. We did not care, it was familiar to us already.

All what we cared about was a lorry – just a lorry to get the remaining equipment and us out of here. We were getting worried about our fate, and not without reason. Finally Gunner Pelttari said:
-Boys, let us get out of here and find a lorry to haul this gun to Imatra.
We thought about the proposition for a while. It made sense, the fact that the promised lorry was missing meant something not good. Maybe there had been an accident, we thought and later it was found we had been right.

We crept out of the shelter. The surroundings were not being shelled now, instead the railway station area was under fire. Shells were exploding there and several columns of fire were rising to the sky. We had to wander around the city for a long time, the greatest disorder reigned there. Windows of homes and businesses were smashed. Splinters of glass were crunching under our boots. All kinds of material, foodstuffs, tools and shot up vehicles were lying about. Soldiers were patrolling on the streets, seeing to it that the evacuation was going on as ordered. A big barrel of butter had been rolled in front of a food store. A passing patrol advised us:
-Take all the butter you need, lads! It is going to be left here.
-We do not need butter, instead we need a lorry to haul our AT gun.
The Corporal leading the patrol said that on a market square a little way off there were some broken lorries, we might be able to fix one of them. We decided to try because I had a driving licence and understood some about motor vehicle engines.

Indeed there were three lorries at the side of the market square. One Ford, judging by its tires, was usable although the windscreen was shattered. I found out that the engine was OK, it was the battery that was drained out. No problem ! We took a battery from one lorry and drained the fuel of the third one. I started the lorry and we were driving to the Patterinmäki hill.

We had to take detours and when almost at our destination our lorry was stopped by a Captain enquiring about our journey. He was accompanied by two civilian men with yellow civil defence armbands. Having explained the purpose of our journey the official said tersely:
-Hand the lorry over to us, we need it.
I was stunned, since we had fixed the lorry and it was important to haul the gun to Imatra. I resisted. The officer took offence, pulled his pistol and yelled:
-Give me the lorry or else !
My stunning turned into rage. I stepped on the accelerator and the lorry took off. There was a shot and a bullet swept past my ear. I heard several more shots behind us. All three were firing at us as fast as they could with their pistols. The lorry slid sideways, the rear tires were punctured. I glanced in the rear, all the gunmen were running away as fast as their legs could carry them. Now I knew I had encountered enemies. I pulled a hand grenade out of my pocket, removed the pin and threw the grenade at the fleeing men. It went off short, but sped up the enemies.

The incident had taken but a short while. Gunner Pelttari who had been on the platform alone had taken a nick on his shoulder, else we were all right. But the lorry could not be driven any more. We discussed the incident and were now convinced that the man in the Finnish uniform and the civil defence men were enemy desants. A dose of good luck had saved us...also the fact that in anger I had not obeyed the “superior” .
-What b*rds one gets to meet, grumbled Gunner Haavisto who had been sitting in the cabin with me.

I told about our incident to the men of the next street patrol that we met. They were not surprised, there had been similar cases .
-The city is quite teeming with desants. You better find your way to your outfit unless you want to be shot as desants, or shot by them.

We believed the patrol leader and headed for the Imatra road. We decided to leave the damaged AA gun behind.

The date was the 20th June 1944. There were enemy bombers flying on the sky. Artillery was straddling the road. On both sides of the road there were broken vehicles, motor vehicles and four wheel wagons with dead draught horses and all kinds of material that the civilians and soldiers fleeing from the city had been forced to abandon due to air raids. It was a depressing sight.

We stopped a lorry transporting wounded men and our journey continued on it. We had to endure several unforgettable incidents. Enemy air force was harassing our transports. At one point we had to fill a big bomb crater in the middle of the road with any material we were able to lay our hands on. The wounded were moaning on the platform of the hurtling lorry. We put alder boughs under them and tried to help them every possible manner.

Our fate had been favourable, gratefulness made us helpful. Viipuri, a burning city, was left behind, even the ancient castle had been damaged. For two years we had been defending the local airspace from enemy aircraft – only memories remain.

82.Rask.It.Ptri war diary 22001 extract:
10.00hrs Four Latils [ French artillery tractor] arrived at the Batt.
Batt under constant alert, Enemy Il-2s and fighters all the time in bearing 37-00 where they are bombarding and strafing. Distance about 20 km.
13.00hrs Gun pit walls demolished.
15.00hrs Guns no. 1, 2, 3 hitched.
16.00hrs Guns no. 4, 5, 6 hitched.
Capt. Kivisalo visited the Batt issuing the orders for march to Lappeenranta.
18.00hrs Batt set out for Lappeenranta and the positions were taken over by 101.Kv.It.Jaos.
The Batt left behind to support the 101st our 20mm VKT and one PFC plus two men.
Some 400 shells were still there which were evacuated at 2100hrs.
00.30hrs Transport column arrived at Lappeenranta vicarage. Lt. Forsman set out to reconnoitre for gun positions since the vicarage fields did not support the weight of our equipment.
03.20hrs Batt set out to take positions on the Nikurila farm fields which enabled setting up good positions.
06.00hrs Batt in battle readiness.
AM: Positions were being improved. Batt is tasked to cover the air base, the railway station and the cement factory in addition to the town.

101.Kv.It.Jaos war diary 16280 extract:
05.50hrs Alert to S, over 0613hrs
07.43hrs Alert to SE, over 0756hrs
08.00hrs Weather: +13º cloud cover 4/10, strong SW wind
08.59hrs Alert to 40-00 bombardment over by 0910hrs
09.50hrs Alert, over 0956hrs
10.45hrs Two lorries arrived at our outfit subordinated to us. They are II Btn lorries but ours to use for now.
11.57hrs Alert to S, there were 3 Il-2 + AC strafing the Koivisto road and the traffic on it, distance 7 to 8 km. Alert over 1200hrs as the a/c left S.
12.43hrs Alert. One Pe-2 flying from NE to S, E of us. Our outfit was in fire readiness not until the a/c was heading off, not fired at.
14.00hrs Btn CO Capt. Kivisalo arrived at our outfit and ordered us to move to Patterinmäki and take positions there this afternoon.
16.30hrs Section left Pappilanniemi and was in readiness at Patterinmäki at 1730hrs.
Patterinmäki was then occupied by 82.Rask.It.Ptri. They borrowed us one 20mm VKT and its crew, PFC Liukko and Gunners Kallio and Mäkipää.

00.30hrs Btn CO issued by phone orders to reconnoitre and set up AT positions at the Kärenmäki road at Kärenmäki or Kangasranta.
01.00hrs Lt. M.Vuorela and Cpl, Kankainen set out to reconnoitre AT positions and returned at 0400hrs. AT positions were found on a slope at Kangasranta on the shore of Käremäenlahti just at the infantry line but the spot could be covered by enemy direct fire guns on the opposite shore.
04.05hrs Col. Lt Salonen, Rgt.CO, arrived at our outfit and informed that the AT positions are to be set up here at Patterinmäki instead of Kangasranta. AA duty is to be the main task and in case of need AT duty. He ordered us to set up the positions at once during AM.
05.00hrs Work to set up AT positions was started and completed by 0930hrs.
13.01hrs 6 Il-2 + AC a/c in S. Also friendly fighters (FW) in the same direction, air battle, 1315hrs one Il-2 fell down shot by fighters. Then our a/c vanished to N and enemy to S.
13.50hrs 15 Il-2 + 5 AC flying E distance 10km, strafing a road.
14.45hrs 6 Il-2 flying high SE, in the same direction an observation balloon rose up distance 20km. Our fighters above the front line.
15.08hrs 5 Il-2 + 2 AC flying far SE.
16.55hrs Several Il-2 and friendly FW in SE, distance 10 to 15 km.
17.10hrs Air battle started
17.11hrs 2 Il2 crashed shot by friendly fighters.
17.12hrs 1 Il-2 crashed shot by friendly fighters.
17.25hrs Friendly fighters shot down an observation balloon.
17.45hrs Friendly fighters, FW and MT, shot down 2/2 in SE [two twin engined a/c]
18.00hrs Friendly fighters patrolling over Viipuri.
20.26hrs Air battle in SE, friendly fighters shot down 1 Il-2 and 1 AC.
20.32hrs 20 DB-3F + 5 La-5 flew in from S and bombarded Viipuri, not engaged, shortest range was 5000m .
21.00hrs Col. Lt Salonen and Rgt Signals Officer Lt. Aarnio arrived at our Section and ordered us to fight as long as possible but the equipment had to be saved. When leaving they took Lotta Lyytikäinen with them.
01.00hrs Acting upon orders of Col. Lt Salonen Lt. Vuorela liaised with the inf. Battalion CO of this front section, Maj. Kivimaa to discuss the AT duty.
01.30hrs Enemy started shelling the city.
01.40hrs 2nd Lt. Murtola who was I/305.Kv.It.Ptri CO arrived and left at 0200hrs,
02.00hrs Capt. Kivisalo issued spoken order by phone for the outfit to move from AT positions to AA positions.
04.00-05.00hrs Said relocation carried out.
04.30hrs Enemy started attacking in the direction of the railway at Viipuri with two Companies supported by 8 to 10 tanks. The attack was beaten back by field artillery fire.
05.30hrs Col. Lt Salonen phoned and reported that our main task was both AT and AA. I reported him that one of our guns is difficult to move and suggested that one gun would be in AT position and the other one in AA position. The suggestion was approved.
06.11hrs 4 DB-3 + 3 DB-3F + 2 Il-2 + 1 AC circling in S.
06.48hrs 22 Ju-87 + 6 FW flying S and bombarding there. Upon return enemy AA shot down one Ju-87 at 0659hrs bearing SE. Two airmen bailed out, one landed on our side the other on Russki side.
08.17hrs 9 Pe-2 flew in from S passing the Section by E and bombarded the Viipuri rail yard and Papula suburb.
08.44hrs 8 Pe-2 flew in from S, W of Patterinmäki, bombarding Viipuri. Section fired 26 pcs shells at 0855hrs, range 4000-3600-4000 [m].
Simultaneously heavy artillery barrage at the S parts of the city and at Patterinmäki.
08.51hrs Col. Lt Salonen phoned and ordered us to move to Juustila.
09.40hrs Section hitched,
09.55hrs Shelling died down, Section started out.
En route at Sorvali we met 2nd Lt. Pukkila with 50 pcs AT shells which he had been ordered to deliver to the Section.
Having arrived at Juustila we were waiting for Col. Lt Salonen or his messenger officer to report us our task. Since neither of them arrived the Section took positions at the fields of Juustila.
13.00hrs in action readiness to cover the road traffic at the crossroads and open ground.
14.45hrs 5 Il-2 + 2 AC flew in from S harassing the traffic on the road. Section fired 7 pcs with gun no.2, shortest range 1500m. Immediately after we opened fire the a/c left.

Posts: 800
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories -Winter War, 3.D

Post by Lotvonen » 04 Feb 2023 06:32

Kaleva Suoja

Fighting at Lähde and Merkki in 1940

Text no.270 from the archive of ”Kansa Taisteli” magazine, submitted in the year 1977

A story from the Winter War, Carelian Isthmus, Summa front section.

7./JR 13, in the III Platoon of which I was a Squad leader, was relieved at the Merkki front section early January 1940, was transferred as part of 5.D into Army reserve in Heponotko terrain near Honkaniemi. Our time in reserve was mostly spent by digging AT hindrances at Mustalampi, neither gear maintenance nor training was neglected. We also received replacements but not nearly enough to cover our casualties so far. For example my Squad consisted of only half of the number of men there should have been and I did not get one single man more.

We were aware that our time at Heponotko would be decided by enemy action. We were hoping that the enemy should stay calm and our return to the front line would be delayed as much as possible. One month later the rumble of artillery, increasing day by day, emanating from South made us expect that our time in R&R was about to end. The same was signalled by increasing enemy air activities. Regardless the weather we had maintained the so called counter strike ski tracks. At times the entire Company had been doing that. Maybe it was therefore, as the expected order arrived, that some of us expected us to return to the tents soon and despite unambiguous orders took only part of their gear. Properly clad they might have been spared from frostbite.

At dusk of the 11th February 1940 we set out, we were not informed about our objective neither about the whereabouts of the rest of our Battalion. Late at night we arrived at Kultakumpu and bivouacked in tents that were there. I do not know who had set them up.

7.K stayed in these tents until the evening of the next day, and was cold. After daybreak it was strictly forbidden to make fire in tent stoves, also moving about outdoors was to be minimised. The order was: ”Anyone getting out shall sweep his footprints”.

After bivouacking we were given cooked food which happened the next time on the 15th February in the evening as the place had been left behind and we found ourselves in Huumolan-Autio.

As the dusk fell we continued our journey. We left the tents behind and took along our own which had been brought from Honkaniemi. It was not a long journey but I do not know where we were. Tents were set up on a bog growing low forest. Making fire and any louder noise was strictly forbidden. It was a dark night but judging by the sounds of battle we could deduce that the front line was nearby.

Early next morning at briefing we learned that we were going to join a counter-attack at Lähde and all available troops shared the objective Tents were taken down but left there, we continued our journey to jump-off positions. My Squad was on the extreme right wing of our Battalion and my task was to report to our officers when JR14, attacking there, shall reach our level whereby III/JR13 would join in.

It was very cold and as quiet as it was possible at Summa battle field. When waiting, rising sun turned red the entire sky in the direction of our attack. I had a vision of the Heavenly Gates and an idea that I might be among many other of my brothers in arms queuing for entrance that day.
As the attack on the right wing reached our level it stalled and after a while we were informed that the attack has been stopped and we shall stay in our positions for now. After a while we were pulled back a little and we learned that the entire III Battalion shall be transferred to Merkki section as reinforcement.

When setting out the Battalion was scattered. Later I was told that it was due to a misunderstood order but also due to very heavy casualty inducing artillery fire under which the Battalion had been all forenoon. Anyway, Capt. Laakso could only state when we arrived at the isthmus of Valosuo-Munasuo that instead of a Battalion he had under his command less than one hundred men. About twenty of them were 7.K men. I do not know how these less than one hundred men were set up in platoons and squads but I had all my men in my squad plus some other 7.K men

We had to proceed in fairly open and level terrain, that is why enemy was able to direct shelling at us from their aircraft, actually by their aircraft, observing us constantly. As soon as the airmen spotted something moving on the ground they created a ring of smoke around the place and soon shells were incoming, surprisingly well aimed at that. At some point of time we were subjected to intense MG fire. As it was evident that there should not be any enemies thereabouts we deduced it was indirect MG fire directed from aircraft or observation balloons, several of which the enemy had up in the air.

At times the situation was most uncomfortable. Yet there is one incident that I remember best from that journey: one of my men stopped and dropped his trousers. Having completed an inspection he stated: ”There is no damage, nothing at all!” A burst of bullets had gone between his legs, ripping his trousers only.

I never learned how the communications were working in those confused days. I just know that at least at times they were completely cut off. Be it an order or be it a decision made on the spot but we were left on an elevation on the isthmus between bogs Munasuo and Valosuo. A hole for a dugout had been dug there. Our C.P was placed there and a small campfire, too, where we tried to warm up in turns. We were ordered to take positions in the snow and shell holes on both sides of the dug hole, facing Munasuo.

My Squad was posted some 50m left from the road leading to the enemy side. As we arrived there a patrol was sent to check the support line positions in front of us, they were abandoned. Upon return the patrol brought with them rifle cartridges and one MG with ammo belt cans, but also a considerable quantity of dry food which was very much needed just then.

As we were preparing to advance basing on the information gained by the patrol, sounds of light weapons and loud explosions started emanating from that direction. We estimated that enemy had arrived at the abandoned line and is now blowing up the fortifications. Almost immediately thereafter their infantry supported by tanks started attacking our line on both sides of the road leading in our rear.

We were ready in our holes but lacking any efficient firepower. The MG that the patrol had found was hastily set up in the middle of the road. The MG Company CO 2nd Lt Silvennoinen took the duty of the gunner, his assistant was the Battalion CO Capt. Laakso. They did a good job but some men next to them considered the MG was in too a dangerous spot and they managed to get the gun repositioned. Changing positions proved to be justified as immediately afterwards a shell fired by a tank hit the very spot.

Pvt. Risti next to me was wounded during the enemy attack. I was just dragging him to another shell hole behind us as he was hit again. It must have been a tracer bullet as it ignited his snow suit and bread-bag. Since there was but ammunition in the bag I was in a hurry to cut it off and throw away. I managed to put out the fire and just then paramedics came to evacuate the wounded. When enquiring them I was told that they are going to take him to an Artillery C.S.S nearby. I did not find out any medical arrangements during our stay there. Our first aid providers comprised one NCO and a few men; what a luck it was that we did not suffer badly wounded after this first attack. I cannot tell whether the fallen could be evacuated.

As I mentioned already there was an acute shortage of food. On the night of 14th February we were expecting a delivery of supplies at 2300hrs at the crossroads near the Merkki hut and they would be guided on from there. I was leading one of the search patrols there, visiting several crossroads in the area but did not find anyone. The other search patrols fared likewise.

There was also a general lack of water. Snow was melted but it was generally so polluted by debris of explosions that it was not usable. In no-man's-land there were some huge aerial bomb craters. I asked for as many field kettles as I could carry, agreed with my men on fire support, then went over the top to get water. I expected there would be water at the bottom of those big holes. I managed to fill my vessels and headed back. Since the distance to the nearest enemy weapons nest was less than 50 m I would never have made it back home without intense fire support from our line. When I was back the men told me that they had been sure I would dump my water haul. I remember I retorted: ”You are not allowed to lose government property !”

Even this water so fouled by explosion waste that using it without boiling first would have been actually harmful to your life.

The next day we still held these positions. Shelling was quite heavy at times but the enemy attack attempts were somehow half-hearted. By the evening our mood was sinking while the mood on the opposite side appeared to be on the rise.

Then something happened that totally changed the life of our small troop. An outfit of more than twenty men arrived at our stronghold, it was said to be led by Col. Lt Kääriäinen. I do not know which outfit they were part of, where they came from, and where they were going to, but Col. Lt Kääriäinen effected that we left the positions and went away. I happened to be on the spot as Capt. Laakso and Col. Lt Kääriäinen discussed the situation .

Capt. Laakso insisted that he is going to stay put since he has not received orders to disengage. Col.Lt Kääriäinen cut the discussion short saying:
”Here I am the man with the highest rank and I am issuing this order: You shall get out of here, and that soonest possible !”

In practice this was carried out so that some of our men were left for a while to hold the positions at the road while the rest set out. I have described the incidents above as a man of rank and file had to see and experience them. The fact that our Battalion was scattered was just a temporary setback, one week later at Näykkijärvi III/JR13 saved the day suffering great casualties in a very critical situation.

(1881 words)

7./JR13 Winter War diary no.1015 extracts

Artillery and mortar fire. One defector taken POW. 4 men ordered to get ready for bivouac platoon.
07.00hrs Bivouac platoon left. Orders for the Coy to move to Honkaniemi terrain.
Artillery fire. Health situation in our Coy getting worse by the by. Despite that we keep the sentry posts occupied.
Lively aerial activities. Artillery and mortar fire. Enemy patrol sought in the rear of the front line but proved to be a false alarm.
Coy set out on a skiing march via Kilpee to Honkaniemi terrain (Pellonpää).
Very low temperature.
07.45hrs At destination. Accommodation in tents. Some a/c.
Skiing training. Field service. Weapons maintenance and inspection. R&R
Field fortification work. Temp below -30º interrupted it. Gear maintenance.
Temp -37,5º in the morning. Weapons maintenance and bivouac area cleaning.
Temp -48º.

Res. Lt Huttunen posted as Coy CO.
Rest and f.f work went on until 11.2.1940.

21.30hrs Coy in standby for march. Our order: II Pl., I, III. IV and Admin Pl.
Route Bivouac area -Selänmäki train stop -Minna -Vernanen -Marjamäki. Then the road to E then to SW about 800m. Then the Kultakumpu road.
03.00hrs Bivouacked some 300m SE of the Kämärä-Kuumola crossroads.
The rest of the Battalion [III, Tr.rem.] followed at our heels.
14.00hrs Btn set out to march led by 7.K on the road S, at Kämärä we turned to the road leading S, then turned E past Pt. 74 up to a line in the forest, then following it to S to Pt. 54 (all according to the 1:20000 map)
20.00hrs Tents set up at Pt.54
2nd Lt Vallinkoski was tasked by Btn to liaise with Capt. Lindman on Leipäsuo bog at Merkki terrain and ask if the stronghold ”Valaanpyrstö” at Munasuo is occupied by enemy. If that fact is not known the battle patrol had to reconnoitre it. Before this at Kultakumpu terrain an attack order across Munasuo to ”Valaanpyrstö” had been issued.
The attack plan:
7.K on the left wing, 8.K, behind 7.K 9.K. The limit between the two was to be the path to the stronghold, first objective the N-S road at Pt. 62,4. 7.K was tasked to take among others the ”Poppius” bunker.
The patrol found out at Leipäsuo that ”Valaanpyrstö” was occupied by enemy and returned at 0400hrs.
By 0400hrs Btn had already left Pt. 54. Having headed SSE some 400m then proceeded in bearing 40-00 to the Kaukjärvi road and on to Pt. 63 which is a hill.
06.00hrs There Btn took positions: 7.K W of the main road, 8.K and 9.K to the right in that order.
09.00hrs A most heavy shelling started lasting 2 ½ hours after enemy fighter a/c had spotted our troops.
11.30hrs Btn pulled back at first to the level of Pt.63. During retreat the rallying point was altered to Pt. 67 height. 7.K on the E, 8.K on the W. Before rallying Lt. Kunnas' was ordered to lead some 30 men of the Coy , 2nd Lt. Vallinkoski was to lead 10 men plus the rest of the men of the Coy scattered by shelling.
12.00hrs The main part of Coy set out in the direction of Pts 54 to 56 (a line cut in forest) to sweep the terrain up to the Valosuo-Munasuo isthmus.
The entire time fighter a/c were harassing and tanks firing heavily, as well as enemy MG s.
Pvt. Kankare was wounded by a tank gun shell, Pvt. Rantala had been wounded earlier at the Kaukjärvi road.
16.30hrs Our Btn was now subordinated to 3.Pr.
We took positions at the perimeter of Munasuo bog so that on our right was I/JR13, 8.K was there until they were relocated, on the right 7.K, 9.K on the right. (sic)
On the left Maj. Linden's Battalion of 3.Pr.
Since we did not have our tents with us we started covering a large pit dug for a dugout with logs, semptaline and conifer branches that were available.
As enemy tanks fired their guns occasionally we could not make fire on open ground. Instead we made two fires in the dugout pit at which both Capt. Laakso and the 7.K and 9.K men spent their night while temperature decreased to about -30 deg C. Our meal comprised dry rations and some coffee that some of us happened to have with him.
Listening posts were set up. The nigh was fairly calm.
In the morning and during forenoon we started digging some kind of foxholes. To the right wing there was a tank hindrance line, length ½ km.
For some reason the Battalion led by Capt. Rantanen to the right of us had started retreating from the Support line apparently in panic because in their positions were abandoned among other material 5 MG s, 1 LMG, 2 SMG, gas masks, cartridges, MG belts and food. Artillerymen had abandoned three 5” field guns.
As this was found out at noon Capt. Laakso ordered the material to be evacuated. Auto weapons were all retrieved. The field guns were reported to Division and they managed to get two of them.
Enemy had not yet started advancing but soon set out and made it up to our open right flank.
Now we turned our front parallel to the tank hindrance so that 9.K was on the right and7.K on the left also securing the bog direction. Lt. Louhenta was securing on the right with his patrol yet he was forced to retreat.
Lt. Silvennoinen of KKK set one MG on the tank hindrance wall on a quite open spot, acting as the gunner while Capt. Laakso directed the belt disregarding the heavy rain of bullets. From the left wing enemy was firing with his tank cannons whereby they scored a bullseye on their own MG on the left wing.
Enemy failed to advance into our positions initially.
Our Coy was ordered by Btn CO to send a patrol 1+1+2 to liaise with Col.Lt Kääriäinen who was at that hour some 2 to 3 km NE from us. Col. Lt K. Ordered Maj. Linden to come to support us with his Company but Capt. Laakso asserted he would cope on his own.
Enemy managed to take the left part of the AT hindrance .
As we were getting short of hand grenades, SMG ammo and LMG magazines we fetched them from Lt. Sisto's Coy. Now Sgt. Mäkimattila and two other NCO s carried out a nice courageous feat: They advanced bravely along the AT hindrance up to the bend, first throwing hand grenades and then firing his SMG along the hindrance. He repeated this five times, three times with SMG and two times with LMG. He was firing so intensely that one SMG blew off the extractor and another's bolt was split. Capt. Laakso estimated that fallen enemies numbered about one Company.
During the day wounded were Pvt. Risti whose arm was hit by an explosive bullet, Pvt. Rantanen. Vieno E took a bullet through his palm and Pvt. Haapanen, Väinö who was badly wounded by shell splinters in his stomach. They as well as Cpl. Haapala (dementia, Sic!) were evacuated to Linden's Battalion C.C.S.
Dusk started falling, in cover of which the enemy could be heard to dig in behind the AT hindrance. Again we set listening posts and warmed us up in the dugout pit.
21.30hrs On our left Linden's Btn started pulling back , their disengagement was secured by our Battalion.
22.00hrs Having received orders our Coy started pulling back in order: II Pl.,IV, I and III, the last ones were the Btn CO and Coy CO. 9.K had left earlier already. Coy headed for the direction of Kiltee but liaison was lost early on so the II and IV stuck together, as well as the I and II.
Both outfits stayed overnight in Kiltee village at Leipäsuo.
The II and IV set out as Lt. Louhento had phoned the Rgt Adjutant to Honkaniemi bivouac area along the main road via Kämärä Station and arrived at about 1330hrs
18.30hrs This part of the Coy was ordered to head for Huumolan-Autio.
10.00hrs I and II Platoons set out on two lorries to Kämärä Station and from there to W on up to the Kämärä- Huumola crossroads. Then they skied on to S to as spot 1 km N of Huumolan-Autio where they bivouacked in tents at 1600hrs.

7.K/JR13 at Näykkijärvi

Company reorganized, IV Platoon merged with other Platoons.
19.00hrs Coy set out from the bivouac area (Honkaniemi) on the road to the railway overpass to the terrain at Selänmäki- Manna terrain where the enemy had managed to break into our positions at places about 400m SE of Manna. They had taken a patch of forest S of the Manna- Vornanen road.
I Platoon manned the patch of forest about 200m of the Manna farm,
II Platoon manned the patch of forest at Koivisto.
9.K was tasked to launch a counter-attack and evict the enemy from the positions they had taken.
III Platoon was to support them by attacking in the second wave.
Due to width of the front line the Platoon had to attack in the first wave on the right wing in the direction of Honkaniemi -Kiviranta road just E of the road.
00.30hrs The attack stalled however due to the cannon and MG fire of at least three enemy tanks moving on the road Manna- Vornanen.
The attack was repeated at least three times, the last time after artillery preparation which consisted of a few dud shells.
Due to strong enemy fire casualties were high.
II Platoon was shifted also to support the attack on the left wing of 9.K. The attacks did not succeed however because the tanks moving about on the road could not be taken out by rifles and other infantry weapons.
Between the attacks an enemy tank emitted loudspeaker propaganda.
The result of all of this was that our positions in the morning were at the height of the Manna -Vornanen road.
Forenoon was quite calm.
13.00hrs Enemy artillery launched intense shelling and as soon as it ceased tanks rolled into our positions. Some of them were driving on the Kiviranta -Honkaniemi road and some via the houses at Manna to the I Platoon stronghold, some via the area held by III Platoon. The terrain consisted of even forested land, providing no cover. Coy was forced to yield to the tanks on the road.
III Platoon withdrew in the direction of the Selänmäki overpass.
I Platoon's road to Selänmäki was blocked by tanks so the men passed them via the Pienmäki overpass to the bivouac area and from there on to Selänmäki.
The Kiviranta- Honkaniemi road had been mined at the spot 200m NE of Manna but enemy artillery preparation destroyed the minefield.
The Selänmäki terrain could not be held any more but Battalion withdrew N of the railway line.
-February 20th was heavy for our Company. Among the fallen was Lt. Louhento and wounded Lt. Huttunen. All in all the casualties included 2 fallen, 17 wounded and 2 missing. At least two of the wounded died later.
16.00hrs Coy was ordered to take new defensive positions S of the railway line at the Pienmäki house group. The places in the front line were switched a couple of times finally the right limit of the Coy line was at the Manna- Honkaniemi road. To the left was 8.K.
The night was calm.
In the morning three enemy 30 ton tanks tried to advance on the road to Honkaniemi but our AT gun opened fire, making hits on the tanks, whereby one tank drove to the side of the road and was stuck. The remaining two withdrew.
The day passed fairly calmly, enemy artillery shelled a few times.
War dead database:
III/JR13 KIA from 1st January to 28th February 1940:
III Battalion: 13
KKK: 8
7.K: 5
8.K: 5
9.K: 20
Total 51

Louhento, Unto Albert Luutnantti
B.24.04.1909 Hausjärvi D.20.02.1940 Honkaniemi, Viipurin mlk Age 30 Jalkaväkirykmentti 13, III pataljoona, 7. komppania
KIA, evaciated and buried at Riihimäki, Riihimäki military cemetry
Occupation Elementary school student (sic!) No children

Vainio, Mauno Johannes Sotamies
B. 16.08.1915 Alastaro D20.02.1940 Honkaniemi, Viipurin mlk Age 24
Jalkaväkirykmentti 13, III pataljoona, 7. komppania
MIA - Gravestone in Loimaa, Alastaro cemetry
Occupation: Farmers son

Posts: 800
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 11 Feb 2023 05:43

Hannes Lae

Magazine “Kansa Taisteli “ 07,1963

Coastal defence ships receive their baptism by fire

Winter War, coastal defence ships operating in the archipelago between Turku and Mariehamn.

Freezing cold high Baltic waves kept increasing the already slippery and heavy crust of ice on the hulls of the two coastal defence ships making them look like mysterious icebergs. The deck crews of each ship could see how the “tightrope walkers” of the sister ship were chipping away the ice. It was the pride of Finnish Navy, coastal defence ships Väinämöinen and Ilmarinen, on their journey for the Aaland Archipelago.

It was the Christmas eve 1939. The mood of the sailors was sombre and the sea was restless. Every now and then a wave would rise higher than the bow, like a hillock, which however collapsed on the bow deck with a mass of hundreds of tons, forcing the bow down. It was exciting to see how the ships were able to shake off the mass of water and put their bows up like a broaching walrus.

The purpose of the mission was to carry out food and fuel replenishment and have a traditional Christmas festivity, circumstances allowing. Our departure had been successfully concealed from the enemy and we arrived after minor mishaps to the anchorage at Sottunga where the training ship “Suomen Joutsen”, [a windjammer frigate, tr.rem] stripped of her rig and converted into a supply ship already found herself waiting for guests.

The main actors of the repair and resupply operation included the 1st Officer, Lt. Cmdr. Sulho Sipilä and Deck Master Julius Parkki, whose non-standard lifestyle and sense of humour were widely known all over the Finnish navy. Lt. Cdr. Sipilä would observe the evening sky of the archipelago more as an artist as an soldier while NCO Parkki was bothered by secrecy and the stripping of the Suomen Joutsen. He had been accustomed to use of voice and power. Passing me he would whisper in my ear in his home dialect: “Any Russians visible ?” I understood his subtle cue but I was at a loss to provide an answer, being in a maze of islands and ignorant of the overall situation.

Refuelling led by Sr. Chief Engineer Niilo Lavasto, was also memorable. The fuel barge had been towed there in a channel in ice. The barge was completely covered by ice and surrounded by slushy ice and all the work had to be done manually and without using light. One had to be very careful, the slightest mistake could make a sailor to fall into sea. To prevent accidents “lifelines” were used when moving on icy decks. Refuelling was completed in a routine manner because every man knew that first work, then party if only possible

It seemed that luck was favouring us because enemy night because the night fliers were unable to spot our ships despite clear moonshine and active flying among the countless Aaland isles. So we on the Väinämöinen started our Christmas festivities, lacking but peace and nearest and dearest. The crew had been assembled in the largest crew's quarters where the CO Cmdr Axel Raninen gave a memorable, military and patriotic speech. He elevated very much the Christmas spirit and boosted our self-confidence in fulfilling our duty in future. Half of the crew was on constant standby. Only a part of them was on outlook duty or engine room duty while the others were waiting fully equipped at their positions. For the occasion also the supply vessel crews who were off duty had been invited. This created a fairly unified Christmas spirit.

Weather in Christmas morning was wind-still and clear, visibility was good. It was an ideal airman weather and they would not neglect making use of it. Therefore it was found obligatory to make sail before sunrise. Anchors were raised and the ships started breaking the ice that had frozen at the anchorage during the night, leaving the place. At the same time the gun crews started testing their weapons and working the gun-laying mechanisms, stiffened by cold temperature. The bridge was occupied by the Skipper and other crew members occupied in navigation and signalling, among them the author.

The silence of the winter morning at sea was disturbed only by clicking of gun breech blocks and the sound of crushing ice at the bow. Suddenly there was a tremendous blast and a pressure wave blocked everyone's eyes and keeled them down. A deep silence followed the explosion. Men were getting up and looking at each others, waiting with sharpened senses for something. Was it a mine, a bomb ?
The nerve racking tense silence was broken by a report by Sota-Salminen:
-Commander, Sir, Section no.2 had an accidental discharge, no damages !
The Commander did not have anything else to say but all right, we shall see into this case.

By the way the mentioned Sota-Salminen [War Salminen] alias Aarno Salminen was an slightly eccentric gunner Sergeant who got killed promoted to Chief Petty officer in a barrel explosion accident in 1957 (sic!)

Hardly had one half an hour passed since the salute shot by Section no.2 as on the Eastern sky, in the direction of Paldiski enemy a/c were spotted flying at us in an altitude of 2000m. We were hoping that they would not have spotted our ships, so the initial order was: Hold your fire! At the same time we made a turn toward the Kihti [Sw: Skiftet, the traditional border between Aaland and Finland, tr.rem] fjard where there was more space for manoeuvring and which was still free from ice. Was it a chance or was it the morning discharge that enabled the bear to spot us ? Anyway the a/c bombed which we had prepared ourselves for, so we were able to evade the intended surprise raid. The same result had the first AA shells which had to be fired at a slightly disadvantageous angle. The first bombers were leaving for N but on another direction there were already 6 to 8 bombers seen incoming, and to our surprise practically unescorted.

This was the opening of the day and it went on up to sundown. A/c came and went, at times we were not able to count how many were raiding just that moment. Our AA artillery comprised sixteen 105 mm guns plus eight 40 mm guns and twelve 20mm guns. The combination of these instruments created such a concert that I never experienced its like. Aerial bombardment was at times so intense that the entire Kihti fjard resembled a boiling cauldron of water. Apparently the enemy intended to wipe out the coastal defence ships from the list and the crews from the rolls, whatever the cost !

At the most critical moments the Väinämöinen Artillery officer Capt.-Lt. Salovaara orderd the men manning unarmoured guns to take cover but after the bombs had exploded get back to their positions and keep fighting on. At noon the Ilmarinen reported that a near bomb miss had resulted in some wounded, else everything was “OK”. Bombs kept falling and our concert went on since the distance from Paldiski town to the Aaland islands was fairly short.

A pleasant accompaniment to the music was the choir of cheers as an airman did his final landing. About twenty of them were counted. Now it was past noon but the bombardment went on as strong as ever. Instead the reassuring rumble of our AA weapons began to falter by the hour. It was a worrying phenomenon because we were getting short of ammunition which increased the possibilities for the enemy to create havoc. The enemy had detected that our AA fire had slackened since they started attacking from different directions simultaneously to disperse the defensive fire which already had become less effective. Also some a/c were ordered to set a smokescreen on the sky which hampered our observation and even resulted in a partial gas alert.

Our ship had carried out wonderful evasive turns all day, as planned and ordered by the Skipper and the Navigation Officer Capt.-Lt V. Lappalainen. The success of the manoeuvrers depended on the proper functioning of the ship machinery. This was the duty of Engineer Cmdr Capt. I. Töyry who was co-operating with the Chief Engineer and Electrics Chief O. Vahtera to run the tremendous quantity of work invisible under the deck.

It is said that at the hour of the greatest trouble the relief is at hand. For us the relief would be just fog and darkness which were actually creeping to our aid. A heavy and stressful defensive battle was about to end. It had literally been a matter of life and death, that was our opinion. Some more a/c attacked until at 1530hrs flying ceased.

The crew sighed with relief and started enjoying the well-deserved Christmas dinner. The engine room personnel was still working at full rate since the ship had to leave the battleground. We could not go far because the ammunition storage was empty and there was some damage to repair. We had to act fast and cleverly if the ships were to be battle-worthy next morning. I found that during the evening the ships had proceeded ten kilometres from the battle scene and hiding in the Kumlinge islands

An ammunition barge had left Turku for Aaland but due to the air raids on Christmas day to seek cover in Korppoo islands. Chief Petty Officer V. Kuuluvainen who was in charge of this towing operation was ordered by wireless to take his barge to the defined place. But before the barge was there it would be the Boxing day, which could be even more difficult than the Christmas day. Then we could sweep the flies from our face but now, lacking ammunition, what would happen if we were spotted in our badly camouflaged hideaway?

At dawn flying activities started in a very lively manner and were concentrated at yesterday's scene and also all over the archipelago. To our amazement the very first a/c started bombardment and the following ones kept raiding the same target. We were worried: who was taking this punishment ? The matter was examined, measured and calculated. Finally it was deduced that the target was the lighthouse island of Kihti that somehow resembled a coastal defence ship due to its shape and structures. This alleged coastal defence ship kept staying afloat while the enemy was convinced that one of the two ships had been sunk the day before. As the enemy was concentrating their efforts to destroy the remaining vessel they believed they had spotted they neglected reconnoitring. That may have saved us.

(1757 words)

That was a tall yarn when compared with the following document extract.

PSL “Väinämöinen” war diary (log book?) extract

00.00hrs At anchor S of Sälsö (island.).
00.01hrs II Quarter to AA stations
01.00hrs Snowing, bad visibility.
04.00hrs Navy Lt. (x ?) signed
05.00hrs Weather : 60/5B, [Wind direction, strength in Beaufort ? ]742 [Barometer reading ?], -5º [Air temp] Sl/2 [?].
08.00hrs Left [Board] watch in battle positions.
Navy Lt. A Hänninen signed
08.00hrs Combat strength Officers 16/1, NCOs 77/10, Crew 167/113
08.25hrs Report: Friendly 2-engine a/c reconnoitring route Mariehamn -Jomala -8880 -8180 .8698 -9210-20160 -Geta N. -Mariehamn. 0900 -1130hrs.
08.45hrs Two icebreakers arrived at the anchorage (Jääkarhu and Sampo)
08.47hrs Anchor raised, set out.
09.05hrs Icebreakers set out heading W.
10.30hrs Started cruising on the Kihti fjard due to risk of aerial attacks-
12.00hrs Navy Lt. Vilkkumaa on duty.
12.45hrs A minor 400t passenger vessel passed.
12.50hrs Report: Enemy a/c at Kilpisaari. Flying NW.
13.40hrs Passed tug Atlas and a naphtha barge.
13.25hrs Submarine Iku-Turso passed our vessel, heading 1E.
14.01hrs Friendly aircraft to take off from Stockholm at 1530hrs
Route -Orskär -Lokalahti -Turku. To arrive at Turku 1715hrs.
15.10hrs Tugboat Aura towing barge Pargas 47 passed.
15.30hrs Steamers Frej and Kaleva passed our vessel.
15.45hrs Anchoring E of Hälsö Island.
16.00hrs II Quarter to AA stations.
Navy Lt. A. Hänninen signed.
17.20hrs Friendly a/c Turku -Lokalahti -Stockholm 1745 -1930hrs
18.00hrs Navy Lt. (x?) signed
I Quarter to AA stations.
Weather; 15/5B 750 -10 PP.
20.20hrs Navy Lt. A Hänninen signed.
20.20hrs IV Quarter to AA stations.
21.15hrs Two merchantmen passed the anchorage. Heading W.
22.50hrs A merchantman arrived at the anchorage.
23,20hrs The merchantman and a passenger vessel left the anchorage. Heading E.
24.00hrs Jr. Lt (?x) signed.

00.00hrs III Quarter to AA stations.
00.10hrs Tugboat Katajaluoto left the vessel and took the water barge.
03.05hrs A tug passed the vessel towing a barge, heading S.
04.00hrs Sub Lt. (*?) signed.
04.00hrs II Quarter to AA stations.
08.00hrs Navy Lt. (*?) signed.
08.20hrs Three mast schooner left the anchorage for E.
08.26hrs Friendly a/c taking off from Mariehamn at 0900hrs. Route Mariehamn -Jomala -Gisslan -Storbratten -open sea -Kolanen -Mariehamn. Return 1130hrs.
08.39hrs Anchor raised and started cruising on Kihti fjard due to risk of aerial attacks.
09.26hrs S of Bengtskär 2 or 3 a/c, heading NW.
09.40hrs 2 to 3 a/c S of ? Heading NW.
09.26hrs Immediate air raid alert launched in Turku.
09.45hrs 4 to 9 a/c heading W, location ?
09.54hrs Battle alert.
Light AA artillery opened up. Range 7000m.
10.05hrs Fire ceased.
10.10hrs L 22810 = 540 = 61 = 305
10.14hrs 7 enemy a/c bearing 145º
10.11hrs 2 to 3 a/c, heading S, location ?
10.05hrs One enemy bomber fell down at SE Kihti.
10.30hrs Spotted 5 a/c 10º to the right [starboard].
10.33hrs A/c vanished out of sight.
10.37hrs E of Borstö 4 to 9 a/c, heading SE.
10.39hrs NW of Örö 4 to 9 a/c, heading SE.
11.07hrs At Russarö spotted 2 to 3 a/c, heading NW.
11.24hrs Tugboat “Pietari I” with a barge in tow passed the vessel heading W.
11.56hrs Jurmo reporting: Hearing a/c buzz, heading unknown, bearing 240º
11.45hrs Jussarö reporting: 2 to 3 a/c, two-engined, heading W
11.51hrs Löyskär reporting: 1 unknown a/c heading NW, 10miles N of Bogskär.
11.51hrs 1 unknown a/c heading NE, at Svenska Björn. (Reported by ?)
12.00hrs 1 to 2 unknown a/c heading NW, bearing 235º.(Jurmo, Lypertö)
12.00hrs Navy Lt. A. Hänninen signed.
12.00hrs Left (Board) watch in stations.
Continued in
SPK 2505

12.04hrs M/v Frei report : 4 to 9 a/c heading N, engine count unknown
12.15hrs M/v Isokari report: merchantman being towed at Medelklubb heading S at 1205hrs.
12.15hrs Hs [Observation point] 429 = 2 to 3 a/c, engine count unknown
12.21hrs Hs Isokari = 1 a/c twin engine heading E bearing 270º
12.25hrs Hs Utö = 2 to 3 a/c twin engine heading E bearing 360º
12.29hrs Hs Fagerholm = 2 to 3 a/c twin engine heading NE bearing 330º
12.33hrs Hs 811 = 2 to 3 a/c , engine count unknown heading N, E of Kökar.
12.30hrs Hs Utö = 2 to 3 a/c twin engine heading E to Jurmo, bombarding.
12.33hrs Hs Borstö = 2 to 3 a/c twin engine heading E
12.37hrs Hs Örskär = 2 to 3 a/c, twin engine, heading E, bearing 180º
12.41hrs Flying boats (Sic!) vanished from sight.
12.44hrs Hs Lågskär = 1 a/c seen N, curving, disappeared from sight, W of Bogskär, bearing 220º at 1205hrs
12.45hrs Hs Turku sector signals officer = 4 to 9 a/c, engine count unknown, at 1233hrs
12.46hrs Hs Örö = 1 a/c, twin engine, heading W, bearing 180º
12.50hrs Hs Trumö = Unknown number, buzzing heard, unknown heading
12.52hrs Hs Borstö = 1 a/c twin engine heading S at 1246hrs
12.58hrs Parachute spotted bearing 170º distance 50 000 (50 km)
12.58hrs Lone a/c vanished from sight.
13.05hrs Correction to 12.58 entry: or a balloon.
13.08hrs HS Örö = bombardment bearing 225º 1305 hrs
13.25hrs Balloon disappeared from sight. Balloon reappeared
12.46hrs ---more than 10 a/c twin engine heading NW at 1336hrs
13.48hrs Air alert. 3 a/c bearing 140º range 34000 m.
13.51hrs Fire opened. A/c dropped bombs
(in the margin:Flying altitude about 4500m. Nearest bomb hit about 1200m from the ship. ! a/c was seen falling down.
1345hrs One parachute from the falling a/c was spotted.)
13.52hrs hs 1352 L 22750 I 230 8k5.
13.57hrs hs 8 k1 1355 iv =l 93955
14.00hrs Fire ceased.
14.05hrs Fire opened. A/c dropped bombs
(In the margin: this second raid directed at I (“llmarinen”)
hs l 22500 H 7570 305
14.01hrs hs §1401 ib = l 22306 t32 9ko (Utö)
14.09hrs Fire ceased.
14.17hrs hs 1417 iv= l 49217 I 260 8k6
14.30hrs hs 1430 l 2933 I 17 7v6
14.29hrs hs 1420 = iv 29330 I 27 7v6
14.35hrs l 12419 4o7
14.35hrs Fire opened. Enemy a/c range 4500m.
14.45hrs Fire ceased.
14.46hrs hs 1446 iv l 19346 I 180 8k6
14.49hrs ha 1449 iv l 19749 I 190 8k6
15.00hrs Left (board) watch to battle stations.
15.18hrs Ks Mariehamn = Friendly a/c taking off from M-hamn at 1400hrs route -Gislan -open sea -Gislan -M-hamn. Arriving at 1630hrs.
15.25hrs hs 30o lt 7
Correction to entry 12.58: Balloon was found to be planet Venus !
16.00hrs Navy Lt. (*?) signed.
During the day was fired 224 light artillery shells and 101 auto cannon rounds.
17.10hrs Anchored E of Sälsö.
17.15hrs III Quarter to AA stations.
Navy Lt. A Hämäläinen signed.
18.00hrs IV Quarter to AA stations.
20.00hrs Navy Lt. (*?)signed
20.00hrs a MVM cast off from left side.
20.10hrs 1 MVM arrived from E and fastened at stern. Ship motor launch arrived from “Ilmarinen”.
21.15hrs Tugboat “Primus” with barge fastened at the right side.
21.25hrs “Primus” and barge cast off. Motor launch set off for “Ilmarinen”.
21.56hrs Motor launch arrived from “Ilmarinen”.
22.35hrs Sub Vetehinen is to set out in an hour (message from 7)
Tug Primus passed the ship on her way to the Ilmarinen.
23.20hrs Sub Vetehinen set out bearing 260º
24.00hrs Navy Lt. (no signature)

00.00hrs IV Quarter manned AA stations.
00.55hrs 2 merchantmen passed the anchorage.
04.00hrs Sub-Lt (*?) signed-
04.45hrs Icebreakers Jääkarhu and Sampo arrived at the anchorage.
05.03hrs Finnish liner a/c took off, Turku -Lokalahti -Örskär -Stockholm 0845 to 1025hrs reported by Turku.
05.05hrs Finnish liner a/c took off, Stockholm -Örskär -Lokalahti -Turku 0645 to 0825hrs reported by Turku.
05.30hrs Icebreakers left anchorage heading 30º
07.00hrs Two merchantmen passed anchorage heading N
07.20hrs A third ship passed the anchorage, the same heading as the previous ones. All ships stopped for a while at the pilot station.
07.40hrs A tugboat towing a barge approached the anchorage. Stopped at the Suomen Joutsen.
08.00hrs Sub Lt. Wäänänen signed.
08.01hrs Left watch to battle stations.
08.25hrs Turku reporting: Friendly twin engined a/c shall take off from M-hamn 0900hrs
Route: Jomala -Eckerö -Open sea -Jomala -Mariehamn at 1030hrs.
0840hrs Kolo = Buzzing heard heading NW.
Turku = lt 7 = 532 = 612 .
0945hrs Turku ? 2 to 3 twin engined unidentified a/c heading N at 0945hrs
11.33hrs Report, source unidentified = buzzing from unidentified direction-
12.00hrs Navy Lt. (*?) signed.
12.45hrs enemy or unidentified a/c, unidentified direction, reported by Hanko sector chief of staff,
12.49hrs Buzzing heard at Örö. Heading W.
12.56hrs E of Bengtskär: 2 to 3 a/c. Heading W at 1254hrs.
12.56hrs At Örö 2 to 3 a/c heading N.
12.57hrs At Borstö 2 to 3 a/c heading NW.
13.00hrs 10 km E of Jurmo-Bokulla 2 to 3 a/c heading NW.
13.02hrs E of Jurmo-Lypertö buzzing, heading N.
13.11hrs At Jungfruskär: 1 a/c heading W.
Battle alert.
13.12hrs 3a/c spotted bearing 110º range 4200m
13.14hrs Light artillery opened fire.
13.16hrs Fire ceased. 8 shells used.
13.18hrs Hs l 93325 h 7275 M-hamn.
13.37hrs Hs l 100 I 125 8gl
13.32hrs S of Isakholm 1 a/C heading N
13.47hrs S of Jungfruskär 2 to 3 a/c heading E.
14.00hrs Air raid alert from S
15.10hrs Battle alert called off. Right watch to battle stations.
(?) hrs Left watch to battle stations.
Navy Lt. Hänninen signed .
17.30hrs VI Quarter to AA stations.
Navy Lt. (*?) signed .
17.30hrs Arrived at night anchorage S of Sälsö.
17.35hrs The “Ilmarinen” anchored NE of Sälsö.
17.45hrs A tug towing a barge passed heading for the “Suomen Joutsen”.
18.00hrs Sub-Lt. Knaapi signed.
18.00hrs III Quarter manned AA stations.
18.15hrs VMV8 laid alongside at stern.
19.03hrs Ship navigation lights spotted at the Sottunga E fairway. Continued N and E of Rodgrund. Very clumsy Morse signals were emitted from the ship. The same route was taken by 3 ships by 2000hrs,
20.00hrs Sub-Lt. (*?) signed.
20.02hrs II Quarter to AA stations.
20.10hrs Vanished merchantmen reappeared 2 heading E one W.
20.45hrs Submarine Vetehinen arrived at the anchorage.
20.55hrs Merchantman heading from E to W
24.00hrs Navy Lt. (*?) signed
24.00hrs I Quarter to AA stations.
(end of day)

Posts: 800
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 19 Feb 2023 06:53

Olavi Tuomisto

24 hours at Vuosalmi

Magazine Kansa Taisteli 07, 1963

JP3 fighting at Vuosalmi 11.July 1944
The author does not identify his Coy, but it can be deduced it was 1./JP 3

Some background:
JR7 CO Col. (His rank in 1944) A. Ehrnrooth tells in his biography:

(10th July 1944) In the evening an order issued by 2.D was received (by JR7)
“JR 7 is to be relieved from the front line the 11.7. AM and transferred to Oravakytö terrain for R&R. The front line is to be taken over by Battle Group Vasama (I/JT57, II/JR57, IV/19.Br.)”
The troops were to disengage by 0400hrs next morning. IIIAC HQ had subordinated the BR Vasama troops to 2.D in the afternoon and in the evening the JR 57 HQ. These troops led by Col. Yrjö Valkama were to take responsibility of the front line at Vuosalmi.

The same evening Col. Ehrnrooth met unknown troops about his C.P. When enquired who they were the a little cocky response was:
-We are Lagus's men. We are here to lend a hand to the “grunts”. We shall launch a counter-attack next morning.

Ehrnrooth was stunned. No one had even hinted him that something like this would be going on. Neither had anyone liaised with him to enquire for example about the front line positions or about the enemy. It appears that a spoken order to attack had been issued to the Ps.D. CO and 2.D HQ had been informed likewise. The order in writing arrived at the 2.D HQ at 2245hrs the same night (´that is, some four hours before the attack was to be launched). Maybe Ps.D was accustomed to believing that there would not be anyone at the axis of attack to liaise . According to the written order Ps.D had been tasked to “ by the morning of 11.7.1944 to defeat the enemy on the NE shore of the Vuoksi and mop the beach-line of enemies”.

Ehrnrooth felt partly anger, partly desperation, and the cocky paroles of the new troops did not make him feel better. He understood that there was to be a frontal assault at the enemy line. This did not bide well ! The Colonel returned to the cellar that was his C.P and phoned Gen. Maj A. Blick. He was now the 2.D CO after Gen. Martola had been transferred as the CO of IV AC.
Ehrnrooth explained his opinion:
-A frontal attack right in the direction of the Vuoksi cannot be successful. What is needed are assault detachments supported by heavy fire, no larger than a battalion or a Company, maybe even smaller outfits. Moreover, it does not make sense to go and push the enemy out of the positions they are holding now. They are sitting there, as if on a platter, to be mauled by our artillery. Why should we put ourselves in their position again?

Gen. Blick could not either grasp the tactical sense. But at this stage it was too late to attempt to change anything since the artillery preparation was about to start. It was 01.30hrs.

AS the enemy did not take any decisive action during the crucial moment our troops got some respite. To relieve pressure the defender decided to attack. Enemy was to be pushed back over the Vuoksi and the enemy bridgehead to be taken up to the shoreline, was the content of the order. The H hour was to be 0200hrs on the 10th July 1944.

Our Battalion [JP 3] had been reinforced. On the 10th our Battalion received officers and men as replacements. Some men came right from civilian life – the oldest men had been demobilized at some time before.

Our troops were seriously preparing for the future task. The main body of our attack force consisted of quiet religious men. Our Battalion JP 3 was made up of men hailing from Central and Northern Bothnia with some original Lagus' men among them. One could guess what was the mood and thoughts of the recruits as they were trying to adapt themselves in their new environment among the commotion and din of the day preceding the attack. The day for them appeared to be as long as the eternity. To pass off time several men, maybe urged by instinct, were writing letters to their next of kin, and for many of them it was to be their last greeting home.

Also our Battalion CO visited his Battalion. This simple but very pleasant event appeared to improve and encourage the mood. Unfortunately this cannot be said of the Divine Service set up in the evening, resulting in a mass weepy ecstasy among the recruits.

So we had been blessed for battle. We had taken the communion with wind whistling in the fir trees and shells exploding nearby around us.

The hours before midnight were slow in passing. Some Lagus' veterans were playing cards. Yet their game was missing the ardour of the days gone by. A white cross, made of birch stems, was set up a little a side with born-again men creeping on their knees about it. At the leafy birches nearby some men were joining a psalm. Two different word views could be seen side by side, made possible only by the maelstrom of war.

Soon the cool July night had hidden the Vuoksi surroundings in dusk. We were awake. No one felt like sleeping. We set out but without fuss or disorder. The path was entered on man by man, squad by squad, platoon by platoon, company by company in succession. Although the advance was orderly an unlucky one would stumble and fall.
-Who the hell is bungling there ? It was the terrible voice of a Squad leader Corporal,
Although I always sympathized with the hapless bungler I could not help admiring my conscript NCO_s who were young and brave.

We were proceeding in open single file. We passed the front line sentries who gave me some valuable information. This morning was the last time enemies had been spotted on no-man's-land.
-Scout in the van!
We fanned out. We entered on a wet abandoned field surrounded by forest. Some of my Platoon went round it on the right. I dashed right across. I was about to reach the willow bushes on the far side as I spotted the handle of a Russian field spade sticking up from the moss. I told my men to pick it up. Since no one wanted it, they did not even slow down, I returned, yanked the spade from the turf and hung it on m belt.

Advancing went on. My Platoon soon rallied at the spot that I had marked on my map
“HL” - jump-off position. Everything had gone well so far. Also the recon information had been verified – the terrain had been free from enemies.

Soon my Runner came with orders: Advancing is to continue, stand by to fight !
I moved to the van as the lead man, having given orders on grouping and opening fire. I noticed that my second-in-command, a recently arrived Sergeant, was hesitant. I calmed him down and promised to be in charge at the toughest spots. Artillery battle had been mutually going on since early morning. At times mortars opened up.
-Here at Vuosalmi the Neighbour is employing mortars with dozens of barrels, someone knew.
-It would be far from fun to be targeted by one of them Katyushas, another one added.
-Quit bantering, we have seen more menacing weapons by now. Most people have died in their beds at home, my Runner told them.

Having proceeded less than one kilometre in front of us there was a forested ridge limited by open field. We guessed that that the enemy might be observing there. The fore-posts of the enemy would be here. We assaulted right away. The din of battle increased on both sides. Our artillery shelled the ridge a little, most of the fiery greetings were too long. Yet, with one leap we were the masters of the ridge. The Osthrobothnian lads attacked with determination and tenacity, yelling our war cry: “ Hakkaa päälle, pohjan poika! “ [translated something like : Beat'em down, lads - but with a rhytm].

The first objective was thus easily achieved, only my second-in-command Sgt. Kontturi fell in murderous MG fire. Due to our accurate fire a number of enemy soldiers were found dead in their low foxholes. It was apparent that the enemy was here just to delay, because they retreated quickly as soon as we had engaged them.

Our attacking force was about to reach all the line where we could observe the Vuoksi river and the ridges behind it. Scarcely had we decently manned this our intermediate objective as our attack suddenly turned into defensive action, ending our advance. Enemy started shelling us and soon the forest covered ridge was just desolate. The forest was almost totally wiped out, even the largest trees were cut down like matches.

Amazingly the artillery strafe had mostly a moral effect on our troops, casualties were minimal. The men were nervous and rushing back and forth in panic. I ordered the manning of the line to be thinned and sent the rest of the men in cover behind the ridge. I personally visited every squad of mine, calming and encouraging the men. We were not yet in our objective, we would have to try to press on.

The July morning at the Vuoksi was beautiful. Our Company CO, Lt. Joakim
Kurtén [note the accent aigu!] and I had made up our plan to take the hill held by the enemy in front of our line, placed the MG_s and our Platoons in their jump-off positions as the sky fell on us. Now the enemy was using their light and heavy guns. The first strike hit our rear but the following one was a bullseye. After that I felt as if I was sinking into a great emptiness before losing consciousness for a long time. I just felt good but did not know what was happening.

Probably my unconsciousness lasted but a brief moment, because when I was able to open my eyes, everything was quiet. I put up my head trying to peek around. Oh what a mess. There were all about me cut off and mauled human limbs, a conundrum of bent weapons, dispersed equipment and ammunition. I got up and started dragging myself in the direction where I expected to meet living creatures. It was a vain hope, because as far as I was able to see the Grim Reaper had done a thorough job. With trouble I managed to creep to the nearest least damaged looking man but his heart was not beating any more. It was not until now that I found that I was wounded myself. I was feeling dizzy and thirsty. My right shin was spilling blood at two points. I tried to get up but the leg would not support me, so it must have been broken.

I tried to bandage my wounds with rags of my torn tunic and managed to do a good job. I cannot tell how long I had been wandering alone in this sad battle theatre as I spotted a man approaching from the rear. At the same moment my attention was caught by the handle of a Russian field spade at a smashed tree. I recognised the spade being the one I had slung on my belt during our advance. I also remembered clearly how I had been digging a foxhole as the artillery strafe surprised us.

Soon the men were by my side. One of them was indeed my Runner, but the Sr. Sgt was unknown to me. The lads were completely surprised by this odd meeting. Most of all my Runner who just had left a complete Platoon and now found only one “half crazy” man.
-Lieutenant, Sir, the fact is that you must be taken to the rear at once for aid. Perhaps you are badly wounded having bled that much ?
-No major trouble, but there are things to do instead of complaining. To begin with we must find out what happened to Lt. Kurtén. As the shelling just started he was lying in that foxhole there and if I remember right Lt. Kangas of the MG Platoon jumped in the same hole.

I was lying prone at the foxhole watching as the lads poked into the black empty hole with a long piece of wood. First there was nothing found but having poked about for a while they caught some strips of fabric, pieces of an officer belt and finally probably parts of the men we were looking for.
I said:
-Enough already! They both have fallen.

Although my comrades and my entire Platoon had found their fate we three had to set up a defence. So I enquired the lads if they could see any auto weapons in case the enemy should engage us. Having sought for a while they found a MG with a broken tripod. We placed this weapon on a fallen pine, inserted the belt and pointed the menacing gun at the Vuoksi.

We kept observing intently at the at times busy enemy activity at the river shore. Another Battalion should relieve us as we had been so badly mauled, the lads told me. Casualties included the Battalion CO as WIA, and almost every Coy CO and Platoon leader was knocked out. Although I was feeling ill I did not want to leave the front line unoccupied. I would have to be relieved here before heading for the rear. The three of us kept watching toward the Vuoksi. As nothing special seemed to happen, I fell asleep and woke up as the Sr. Sgt who had been observing no-man's-land yelled:
-Vanyas are attacking, dammit !

We were at once alert and saw infantry supported by tanks approaching, heading past our position to the direction of Oravankytö. We decided to exact a high price for our lives. Next a Finnish AT gun appeared to the left of us. The gunner shot two of the tanks in flames and the rest fled. Then I spotted brisk movement behind us and on our flanks. Reinforcements were coming to our line.

-Line of enemy right ahead, range 50 meters. Get your hand grenades at hand! Fire !
An outfit comprising well trained young men was there to support us. Their fire was effective. Now the tables were turned and the attacker found themselves under merciless fire.

We were surprised by the support provided to us and we were inspired to join the battle.
-I want to shoot too. Who is going to direct the belt? Help me get up, lads and prop me up.

They did what I wanted. I was standing on my sound leg behind the MG. I aimed and pushed the trigger. The MG chattered and enemies were mowed down.
-That's the way, rocket gun, rocket gun, casualties are being made, this is our rocket gun, my Runner was jubilant.

What happened next at the defensive line of Vuosalmi is unknown to me, because I woke up not until next day in a field hospital in Kirvu. The fact is that the young men who came to save us at Vuosalmi held the line until armistice. Here, too, as well as in the other front sections a miracle had happened and Finland retained her status as an independent nation.

JP 3 KIA on the 11th July 1944
War dead database extract:

Kurtén, Stig Joakim/Joachim, Luutnantti
B.09.03.1917 Vaasa D.11.07.1944 Vuosalmi, Äyräpää Age 27
Jääkäripataljoona 3, Konekiväärikomppania
KIA, evacuated and buried at Vaasa, old cemetry
Civilian title M.Eng., no children

Salo, Reino Rudolf Ylikersantti
B. 27.01.1920 D.11.07.1944 17.SotaS Age 24
Jääkäripataljoona 3
WIA, died. Buried at Lahti, Lahti military cemetry
Salesman, no children

Helavirta, Johannes Alikersantti
B. 09.04.1906 Nivala D.11.07.1944 Vuosalmi, Äyräpää age 38
Jääkäripataljoona 3, Konekiväärikomppania
KIA, evacuated and buried at Nivala
Farmer, 3 children

Vacklin, Tauno Emil Korpraali
B.27.06.1920 D.11.07.1944 Vuosalmi, Äyräpää age 24
Jääkäripataljoona 3, Konekiväärikomppania
KIA, evacuated, buried at Äänekoski
Horseman, no children

No 2nd Lt. Kangas of JP3 listed.

Col. Ehrnrooth:
It was 0130hrs July 11th 1944. Just some StuGs and some outfits already there, nothing else of the Ps.D was neither seen nor heard. Russian counter-shelling had hit one battalion, the CO had fallen and their battle plan was overthrown. Also the time-table appeared to be made for the “real Lagus' men” most of whom had fallen in June. The replacements were green recruits, needing considerably more time to be set up than veteran soldiers. Our artillery spent more than 5000 shells in vain preparing for the attack. The attack did not get actually started at all. The troops were stuck and one Battalion abandoned their positions. (…)

JP 3 HQ, SPK 13933 war diary extract: (the only surviving JP 3 war diary of the period)
17.00hrs Battalion received as replacements 9 officers who were posted as follows:
Admin Coy: Lt. Kupiainen Osmo
2nd Lt. Kolehmainen Erkki
1.Coy: 2nd Lt. Lehtonen Tauno
Lt. Katinmäki Niilo
2nd Coy: Lt. Hankala Tauno
3rd Coy: Lt. Kurtén Stig
4th Coy: 2nd Lt. Palomäki Henrik

2nd Lt. Isoniemi, Kai was immediately posted to the JPr HQ.
23.00hrs Lt. Novamies Kai reported in the Battalion and was posted as the Mortar detachment CO.
Lt. Hankala was removed from the Battalion.
07.30hrs Btn CO carried out inspection of the bivouack area.
09.10hrs J Pr HQ order: Stop training, on the extreme standby.
Relayed to the Companies.
10.30hrs Btn ready to march.
01.35hrs Maj. Tuomi informed that Coy Ahvenainen has been subordinated to JP 3 and we are about to leave.
01.50hrs “Kypärä” issued orders: starting off at 0415 hrs
03.00hrs Commander briefing:
Route: Arovaha -Kuukauppi -Antrea -Vuoksenranta.
Marching order:
2.K, Admin, Signals, 1.K (with ambulance), 3.K, MG Coy, C.C.S., AT Coy.
2.K shall start at 0415hrs, C.C.S at 0500hrs
Motor vehicles:
1.K ammo lorry, Signals lorry, HQ lorry, MG ammo lorry, the other lorries to join the baggage train led by Staff Sgt. Väänänen, to join the column led by Maj. Asemantaus.
-Vehicles in AA formation, group distances 50 m.
50min driving, 10 min break
07.15hrs 30 min break, meal when at the destination.
Men are to take the spades with them.
At destination the messenger officer shall guide
3.K car to be used by Capt. Mäkinen.
08.40hrs Bivouac recon carried out by Lt. O. Kupiainen. AT Coy taken into account.
09.50hrs Leading elements arrived at the bivouack area.
10.55hrs Btn arrived at the bivouack area.
Lt. Ahvenainen arrived.
11.30hrs Btn CO being briefed by “Kypärä”.
Bivouac area: Second crossing road E of Visalanlahti below Pt. 27. Area on both sides of the road up to the open ground with houses.
13.25hrs Recon mission for 2nd Lts Gröhn and Tiitinen.
2md Lt Gröhn shall reconnoitre the route from Koskiselkä “ä”, then the path along the edge of the bog, then between Rajakangas “g” and “a” where another path starts. Can the route be ridden on bikes and are there suitable C.P spots at the route,
and also the general situation.
2nd Lt. Tiitinen shall reconnoitre the road N of the sports field at pt.22, from there 1km W to pt.29
Is the route passable and what is the general situation
13.30hrs Briefing for unit leaders.
16.00hrs 2nd Lts Gröhn and Tiitinen returned from their successful reconnoitring missions.
16.30hrs CO in briefing by “Kypärä”.
18.25hrs Briefing for unit leaders.
Moving to a new grouping area in the following order:
2.K with subordinated MG Platoon and Mortar F.O.O
3.K with AT Platoon and Mortar F.O.O., distance from 2.K 300 to 400 m
Signals Platoon shall follow 3.K.
Admin Squad with 2.K
4.K shall follow 3.K within sighting distance, next
Mortar Platoon, 1.K and finally the vehicles.
19.05hrs Messenger Officer set out to reconnoitre for a new bivouack are.
20.10hrs Messenger Officer returned from recon mission
22.00hrs Btn set out for the new grouping area.
24.00hrs Btn grouped at the new location, digging in.
02.00hrs J Pr launched their attack against the Russki beachhead, after artillery preparation, in the cover of a smokescreen.
Simultaneously JP3 started moving S in the direction of the path in the order
2.K, 3.K, 4.K, Mortar Detachment, Signals, and 1.K
02.00hrs Btn grouped at the Koivikko terrain.
04.00hrs Attack stalled due to heavy Russki artillery and “organ gun” barrages.
04.50hrs Maj. Hynninen issued orders to 1.K CO to send one Platoon to Haapasaarenmäki and there to report to Coy CO Talvitie and co-operate with him in the direction of the main road.
Lt. Honka-aho's Platoon was sent.
07.00hrs Artillery barrage. [not specified by whom, tr.rem.]
07.30hrs Col. Lt Puroma ordered Maj. Hynninen to leave JP2. [?]
08.35hrs One Panzerschreck Squad was subordinated to JP2.
09.30hrs Maj. Hynninen issued orders to 1.K CO to liaise with Col. Lt Heranen, tasked to find out about the situation, order by J. Pr CO
09.35hrs Patrol Lehtonen arrived reporting that at Pt.28 there had been Russkies but the JR men had pushed them out. JP4 had started mopping up the area and S of it.
12.30hrs 3.K headed to the right to secure the terrain in N
13.20hrs One POW was taken to the 3.K C.P.
14.55hrs Order to mop up the terrain at Pt. 26
15.12hrs Briefing:
Battalion is to attack to direction 28-00 led by 2.K, then CO, then 1.K and 4.K.
15.30hrs JP 2 report received: Coys pulling back to defence at the level of the C.P.
15.55 hrs Order to JP 2: The positions are to be held absolutely firmly, especially the “bottom of the bag” .
17.05hrs New attack orders. Battalion is to attack in direction E to W, turning S. Order:
1.K, CO and 4.K, 2.K, Mortar detachment and AT Platoon.
Objective: Lehtola-Koivula.
After completing mission immediate disengagement.
Grouping: immediately.
17.30hrs Set out.
17.55hrs 1.K advanced about 1 km and having crossed an open meadow to its forested edge took intense enemy fire. The entire 1.K attacked across the meadow.
18.30hrs 2.K was ordered to turn to the right and attack across the meadow in the direction of the path.

9.40hrs Order by Col. Puroma to JP 4 and JP 2 to take defence.
Order on meal and digging in.
09.45hrs JP2 reporting: Holding their positions. The Runner was tasked to relay the J.Pr CO order to JP 2.
10.00hrs Patrol Hentunen set out to relay Col. Puroma's order to Col. Lt Hervanen in JP 4.
10.30hrs Arrived 2nd Lt. Kosola who had been liaising with Col. Lt Hervanen.
11.05hrs 2nd Lt. Isomäki stet out to find out about sounds of shooting at the Pt.31 terrain.
11.07hrs Arrived Sr. Sgt Väätti's patrol who had managed to liaise with Maj. Kiviperä.
12.00hrs Arrived 2nd Lt. Isomäki reporting that at the terrain where Psto 31 [Art. Btn] found themselves there was an understrength Platoon of 1./JR49 in positions but they were worried about their fate since they did not have any liaison.
12.15hrs Arrived 2nd Lt. Lehtonen's patrol with a situation report on the JP4 sector and no-man's-land.
12.20hrs Arrived the leader of a JR 57 battle patrol who described the situation, the places of various regimental C.P.s, then proceeded to sweep the terrain in the direction of Pt.31
12.25hrs 3.K CO was issued orders to subordinate one Platoon to JP 2, tasked to block the gap Karvala – open ground. The rest of the Coy is to attack, objective being the N limit of the said open ground. Their task is to sweep the terrain.
13.05hrs 2.K patrol was sent out to liaise with JP 5 and JP 2 due to the noises of fighting in that quarter.
14.30 -16.05hrs J Pr HQ sent two alternatives to clear the situation:
I_Attack, on the line Talvitie, along it S of Lampela on the hills there and Mäkelä.
II_Defence on the line Talvitie, line Suoransuo S tip -then to SE joining with the previous suggested line.
16.52 Order to Maj. Hynninen;
From the present positions launch a counter-strike, turning vie Pt. 21 into the direction of Hentala where the Battalion shall stay in defensive positions.
17.04hrs Maj. Hynninen issued an “attack order” . An attack in the direction of the open field, Pt. 31 there and Lentala.
Order: 1.K, C.P., AT Platoon, 3.K, Mortar Det., Close Range AT Squad.
18.00hrs At the W edge of the open ground they met Russkies. The attack went on at once in a brisk manner and 1.K managed to traverse the open ground but Russki held on and the attack stalled there.
Our artillery and mortars were firing a barrage to the left.
Russki force was greater than expected and our troops had to withdraw to the E edge of the open ground at 2000hrs.
20.40hrs CO issued orders to set up defences. Placement:
2.K on the right wing, 1.K on the left (liaising with 3.K). The limit between the Companies the S edge of the open ground.
It is more quiet now which is very much needed since the troops are very tired.

- End of the day-
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Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 25 Feb 2023 07:15

Osmo Vuorialho

Total destruction

Magazine “Kansa Taisteli” archive id 115/1975

Lieksa front section, Er.P 13. Winter War.

Our outfit, Er.P. 13 had had a really intense baptism by fire on the very first day of the Winter War at Lieksa as we tried to beat back the enemy that had invaded the same morning. We did not succeed and we had to pull back up to the defence line at Vornasenvaara. There our Battalion held the line successfully for one week against heavy enemy attacks.

The positions at Vornasenvaara were abandoned for tactical reasons. Enemy was allowed to advance as far as Nurmijärvi where Er.P 12 engaged them. That was as far as the enemy was able to advance in that quarter.

After a stretch of heavy fighting our Battalion was allowed a few days of R&R. Then we would be used to harass the enemy rear and flanks.

3.K/Er.P.13 where I was a Platoon Leader was issued orders to eliminate an enemy Company nested in a bend of the Jongunjoki river. The terrain is situated a couple of km N of the Nurmijärvi -Kivivaara road. The river flowed there in a horseshoe shaped bend, the terrain was forested-

The Company set out in the small hours of 12th December 1939. We skied up to our front line but then we abandoned our skis because there was but a little snow. We would be able to fight better without skis.

We traversed our front line in darkness. The Company was advancing in the correct manner, in a square. My Platoon was in the front on the right, on our left Sgt. Forsell's Platoon. In the second stage were the Platoons of 2nd Lt. Anttonen and Sr. Sgt. Rantanen, and a light mortar F.O.O squad. Our Company CO Matti Ryynänen and the Battalion Adjutant Lt. Osmo Karhunen were advancing ahead of the second stage.

We had started our advance, thrilled. I had set up my Platoon in a square and I was leading the men with a LMG team. It was totally quiet, nothing was heard. Visibility in the dusky forest was bad. I knew we found ourselves just a few hundred meters from the river, at the gap of the “horseshoe”.

Suddenly I spotted a group of enemies standing about no more than 50 to 60m in front of us.
Hardly had I yelled my command as enemy opened up with machine guns quite lively. There was a heavy firefight going on now. One of my men was immediately badly wounded as a burst of MG fire cut into his thigh.

After a while shooting decreased a little – maybe weapons were being loaded. I made use of this chance to pull the platoons in the rear of the square to the level of the first Platoons to engage the enemy. The manoeuvrer was successfully carried out.

My firepower had doubled and we were ready to continue our attack. We managed to advance by brief dashes some 20 m but then our movement stalled under furious enemy fire. We retaliated as we best could. I sent a request to the Mortar F.O.O to suppress the MG nest in front of us that was checking our advance and creating casualties.
We had to wait for the mortar fire about half an hour (sic!). When the bombs fell the first ones hit smack on. As soon as the last bomb had exploded we assaulted the enemy, yelling wildly. The surviving enemies were not able to stay their ground but abandoned their positions and started running for the tip of the horseshoe shaped river bend cape.

We kept pressing on and arrived at the edge of a piece of open ground. The fleeing enemy was just crossing the spot as I ordered my men to take positions and open up at full rate. Enemies wearing wadded uniforms and felt boots were easy targets as they kept running. I had managed to empty the magazine of my P/08 so I grabbed the rifle of a man next to me. There were only three cartridges in the magazine and I was too much in a hurry to reload.

My first shot missed, but the second one was a hit. The third one dropped an enemy who had stopped at the perimeter of the open ground . He may have been an officer trying to hold back his panicked men. Anyway, he fell limply on his side and failed to get up.

It was not until now that the enemy opened a ragged fire. We could not continue advancing to the open ground, so we had to stay put in the positions abandoned by the enemy at the edge of the forest, foxholes lined with dry hay. Weapons abandoned by the enemy were lying about, among them LMG s and MG_s which were now turned against their previous owners . Dead enemies were lying pell-mell on the area, some mauled by bombs. There were also some wounded in the foxholes. Three was an abominable stink.

The men got used to the situation amazingly fast – we started eating the crispbread in our bags even though the environment did not whet one's appetite.

We had to lie in the positions for a couple of hours. At first it was difficult to direct the mortar fire at the right target. Finally the fire was adjusted correctly and bombs started exploding at the peak of the cape where the enemy had been pushed. They would certainly have crossed the river to get away but their retreat had been cut off. Platoon Rantanen had advanced on the left wing up to the river beach and covered the river with their fire, preventing crossing. Not a single enemy managed to cross the river.

After the mortar fire had been adjusted at target enemy fire decreased and finally died down. We dashed forward, turning the open ground from the right. We were not fired at any more.

Getting closer we saw a terrible scene. The panicked enemy had crowded on a far too small area. There were Red Army men actually in heaps at the trees – as if they had been seeking refuge in each other. There were some who still weakly tried to resist but they were fairly easily dealt with.

There were more than one hundred enemies, the main part of a Company, lying dead on an area of a few dozens of square meters. Many of them were appallingly mauled. There were more corpses on the river ice: Platoon Rantanen had mown down about thirty men who had attempted to escape. There were about ten feigning dead but they were revived to be POWs.

Now Platoon Anttonen took the lead and continued the attack across the river. This incident was already dealt with because there was no one on the far side of the river – enemies had all fled from there, too. We were issued orders to collect war booty and return to the bivouac area.

Stuff was found: five MG_s, a dozen LMG_s, all the rifles of a Company, two big radio sets, radio phones, field telephones, supply material. Each of us had a heavy burden of war booty as we returned to the rear. There was material left behind to be evacuated by others.

Our Company casualties comprised but four WIA, four of them of my Platoon. The enemy had been wiped out to the last man. Next it was time for a meal and some rest. Our evening coffee [still available at that time, tr.rem.] we had with cream ! A Runner from the Battalion HQ brought us a bottle of cream as a personal present of the CO. It was a fine gesture that we knew to appreciate.

(1299 words)
kuhmon 001 (2).jpg

Er.P 13 War diary extract (SPK 482 )
The Battalion appears to have been subordinated to Detachment B (Os.B.)

20.00hrs Os. (Det.) B (4./Os.B, 2./Os.B.,5./Os.B, 6./Os.B, 7./Os.B) headed out to march for Ahmavaara where they bivouacked at about 0100hrs
01.00hrs Rest
Maintenance work.
AM : maintenance and preparation work; Skis tarred over fire.
Lt. Kahila reported in Os. B.
12.15hrs 2./Os.B led by Lt. Kahila set out for a special mission at Mämmivaara (?) to relieve Korppi, order issued by “Holvi”.
13.00hrs Telephone line established to “Holvi” at Kiekinkangas.
15.00hrs Construction command with tools set out subordinated to “Holvi”.
01.15hrs Order issued by “Holvi”: Härmä's fighting outfits shall move by 0500hrs to the Nurmijärvi terrain.
02.00hrs Pre-order to 4., 5., 6.,/Os.B on getting ready to start march at 0515hrs
05.15hrs Os. B + Baggage train I and Tent Squad leaving for Nurmijärvi.
07.00hrs At Nurmijärvi. Bivouacked in tents. Liaising with Os. A.
12.20hrs Os. A relayed order by “Holvi”: Os.B to move back to the previous bivouac.
13.30hrs Set out.
20.00hrs Pre-order on moving to Kivivaara at Nurmijärvi by “Holvi”.
12.12.1939hrs Leaving for Nurmijärvi, order: 4./Os.B, Admin Platoon, 5. and 6. /Os.B, Medic Squad, Baggage train I , the rest led by OS.B.
08.00hrs Arrival at Nurmijärvi.
12.00hrs Arrival at Mäntylä.
14.20hrs Os.B to attack in front of the Puurinjoki defence line.
4./Os.B + 2 MG on the left, the objective is the ridges at the road some 1 km off.
Mortar fire preparation .
3./Os.B in the direction of the road.
Enemy manning 100 m on both sides of the road, in depth, MG s and LMG s, two mortars, two tanks.
4./Os.B reached the ridges up to the road. III Platoon did not make it quite as far. 2nd Lt Vuorialho's platoon took one MG .
16.45hrs As no progress was made in the direction of the road 4./Os.B was ordered to return.
19.30hrs Our troops had pulled back behind the defence line.
Bivouacking : 3./Os.B in the Farmer's Hall, Rantala
2./Os.B + MG in the houses of Vihma
The rest in tents at the area from the Hölä road to the Akanvaara road.
Det. B at their bivouac 3./Os.B moved to the Ahmavaara road.
19.40hrs 2./Os.B was shifted to Lieksa for transport on led by Lt. Kahila. Removed from the rolls of Os.B on the 14th Dec.
Os.B in alert readiness.
Artillery battles at the front line.
Supply and replacements, sauna baths and other preparation.
11.30hrs -1700hrs Terrain reconnoitring in the terrain W and NW of Nurmijärvi for future action. Present the CO and Platoon leaders of 3., 4., 5., 6./Os.B.
Counter-attack planned with Os. A at the Kärmijoki terrain on the 17th December.
23.00hrs I Reconnoitring patrol Makkonen tasked to advance W of Jongunjoki to the mouth of Helmijoki river and find out about the enemy.
Returned 1030hrs (next day)
Now about 1 km from Jongunjoki at the road,
No information about the enemy.
II Reconnoitring patrol Sillanpää sent to the bend of the Jongunjoki river.
They did not reach the objective due to procrastination. No enemies at Viitakoski.
Report received at 0600hrs patrol returned at 0900hrs.
03.00hrs Attack to take place on wings due to unclear situation.
07.30hrs “Risto” reporting that an enemy outfit comprising 40 to 60 men has started advancing in the direction of the column road on the left side of the Koivujoki river bridge, attempting to envelope. ( Reported to “Holvi 2”)
Os. Mäenpää has retreated about 1 km from the K bridge.
Russkies are without skis, some wearing snow-suits.
Russkies must be annihilated.
09.00hrs 3./Os.B has manned the terrain NW of Nurmijärvi securing to N.
12.00hrs Situation report by “Risto”:
About 2 platoons+MG+LMG (Russkies) at Kotajavaara road.
12.00hrs 4./Os.B to send one platoon to Rantaset under orders to reconnoitre and familiarize with the terrain on the left flank of Coy Saimo at Viitakoski.
14.15hrs Situation report by “Risto”:
Os. Kalajoki has retreated at 1405hrs about 400m S of Valama road. Russki strength comprises three platoons + two tanks.
21.00hrs Contact with enemy at Kuluma (?) road lost. Order to renew it has been issued.
21.45hrs Patrol Mustonen was sent out to Savijärvi to liaise and carry out ammunition resupply. (One box of rifle ammo, 560 SMG rounds, 20 hand grenades)
23.45hrs Os. Nisula situation report: nothing new.
04.00hrs Setting out for Viitakoski.
08.00hrs Attack at Viitakoski, from the group of houses into the direction of the Jongunjoki river bend. 4./Os.B + 2 MG less one Platoon which, led by Sgt. Rantanen advanced on the left side of the Jongunjoki. Mortars supported the attack.
13.00hrs Jongunjoki was reached. About two platoons of Russkies were wiped out. POWs taken, all privates.
Telephone communication with the Adjutant was maintained. Mortar fire was directed mostly via the C.P.
14.30hrs Attack was stopped on the ridges S of Kärmijoki.
War booty:
50 rifles
Field telephones
3 radio phones
1 radio
Miscellaneous gear
18.00hrs Os.B back in bivouac
3./Os.B preparing positions at Kuhmo road.
19.00hrs 2./Os.B sent to the direction of the Kuhmo road to seek enemy contact. No contact achieved.
(End of day)
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Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 04 Mar 2023 06:19

Aukusti Lehmikangas

Fighting tooth and nail

Magazine “Kansa Taisteli” 07, 1963

Continuation war, Uhtua August 1941. Most likely JR32, part of Finnish 6.D subordinated to German units SS Division Nord and 169th Infantry Division fighting in the same area.

It was the evening of 7th August 1941 The left wing of our troops kept tenaciously advancing for Kiestinki. In the morning our infantry had pushed the enemy out of their positions S of the road but the road itself was still held by the enemy. There was a path in the forest a few hundreds of meters from the road which was used to supply our troops.

I was walking down that path the same night carrying a message from our Coy CO. The forest path was deserted and empty. No one was seen although some three hours earlier the surroundings had been teeming of our men. Our Battalion had received 200 replacements that had just arrived. By now they had been taken to the front line .

This desolation felt a little gloomy, yet I considered that the path was safe since it was in the vicinity of our front line. I was totally relaxed as I met three Signals men by the path in phone tapping patrol. Two of them were sleeping side by side covered with Russian tent fabric and the third one was just joining them. We exchanged a few words, then I went on in the gloomy dark forest because it was in shadow for moonlight.

I had marched on for half a kilometre without meeting anyone until I suddenly spotted just in front of me a man squatting at a young fir tree, intently watching me. Immediately I slowed down and was unsure what to do. My instinct was telling me that something was not right. The bloke had something of a Vanya about him, but on the other hand it could not be possible that any enemies should be still be haunting here. I sharpened my eyesight to the max but I could not make up my mind. I did not dare to use my weapon since the man could be one of ours in spite of his odd behaviour.

I kept walking on slowly until I suddenly stopped just next to the man and turned to him. The man was holding a rifle, the tip of the bayonet about one half a meter from me but he neither budged nor said anything. Still I was not quite sure about him.

-What is your outfit ? I asked sternly.
The man jumped up and tried to bayonet me. I managed to grab the gun with my right hand so tightly that he failed to push the bayonet in my flesh. Yet I was in a quite helpless position since my own rifle was slung on my left shoulder held by my left hand and I had to use my right hand to keep the enemy weapon tied. So I decided to engage him unarmed. I dropped my rifle and twisted the enemy bayonet to the side, pushing past his rifle muzzle. Next I suddenly grabbed with my left hand the man's throat and threw him in the nearby juniper bushes, then jumped on him on all fours.

The man was of small stature and I thought that it would not be a big deal to subdue him. Should he surrender without resistance I would take him as a companion on the abandoned forest path. Should he resist, I would keep squeezing him until he would give up. Lone Russian stragglers were quite common in the terrain, so I did not suspect that the bloke should have any comrades with him.

But I was very wrong. Suddenly four men tiger-jumped on me from the bush. I was scared, jumped up and instinctively started hitting these men with my fists as much as I was able to. Initially I managed to keep them at a distance but then I started getting tired and the men managed to get hold of my arms. I started yelling as loud as I was able to, then one of them pulled a first aid bandage from his pocket and shoved it into my mouth. Being about to suffocate, I yanked the lump out of my mouth and threw it far into the dark forest. I gave the man stuffing my mouth a blow at the jaw and let out a true Indian war cry.

It was to no avail. They again managed to get hold of my arms, one embraced me face on to immobilize me while they were tying me up. They tied my arms with tent ropes so tight behind my back that I absolutely could not move them. Finally they wrapped a long strap around me.

Standing there bundled up I by the by began to get an idea about the men who had taken me their prisoner. They were led by an officer who was speaking clear Finnish, also one of his men was a Finnish speaker. The privates would have loved to “finish off” me but the officer forbade this strictly. He spoke Finnish, beckoned to his side of the front with a nasty grin and said that I shall be taken over there and there I shall be dealt with.

Hearing this made me so furious that I launched a desperate attempt to get free. I sunk my teeth in the nose of the fellow in front of me, biting off a good chunk. Such a howl ensued that I had never heard the like. He released his arms off me but however furiously hard I tried I was not able to get my hands free from the ropes. I wanted to get at the stack of rifles with my and their weapons. But it was to be just a hope. My tormentors had tied such knots at my wrists that they did not yield. When I started bucking they yanked at the rope behind my back so that I fell down on my back, and the entire band of Vanyas hurriedly lunged on me.

Again I resorted to using my teeth and started biting the nearest man in his cheek, a deep gash ensued and the man squirmed and howled, unable to get out from under the other men. The officer was cursing and hissing, fearing that the noise would alert aid to the spot.

I did not care at all, instead I was yelling as loud as I could, even though the men were beating my face with their fists. Next they turned me over on my belly and there were four man pushing down my head and my body. I was about to choke as my face was pushed so deep in turf that it was difficult to breathe. Finally the officer started stuffing my mouth with moss using his finger, but I do not think he would have started feeding me with moss had he thought in how a dangerous spot he was sticking his finger. I waited a little: just dig your finger a little deeper, old man! Then I bit. I managed to get a finger well between my cheek teeth and started chewing like a dog at a bone, crunching.

The poor officer found himself in a tough spot indeed, not daring to yell neither swear aloud. He was beating at my head with his free arm while howling with a low voice:
-Pe*le, - I shall get even with you yet !

I was next to sure that he would kill me there, but he did not, even though he definitely wanted to. I had made up my mind, I would not have cared. I would have preferred it to being a POW, since they had threatened to torture men. They must have orders to take a prisoner, else they would not have spared my life.

This went on about something that I felt to be half an hour until they had bundled me up so well that they dared to start leading me out of there. My uniform was in tatters, not a single button or pocket of my tunic was left, the legs of my trousers were hanging at my ankles. During the melee the men had failed to frisk me: there were still three German hand grenades in my trouser pockets.

-Let's go, the officer said, ordering two men to herd me. He himself set out some 20 m ahead to secure the route, two men he set to secure flanks and the Finnish speaking one he placed behind me, tickling my spine with his bayonet and ordering him to stick in as soon there would be a surprise and the officer would issue an order. They thought that it was all clear but it was not.

I was thinking: you shall not get me alive, you shall have to kill me before you shall be on your side. The officer lead the procession by the front flank apparently with an open passage to the enemy side. Yet I resisted at every inch and the devilish situation in the hands of a superior force boosted my power incredibly. I was led on one side by the small fellow with whom I took the first round, the other man was a stocky chap. Soon I invented a nice “mill”: I yanked with force the small man off his feet and immediately turned around the bigger man so that we fell back almost all the distance we had laboriously made.

Finally we had proceeded some hundreds of meters as there was a new turn of events. We found ourselves about 100m off a path where sounds of movement and another odd noise started emanating. It was a wind-still cool White Sea Carelia night and sounds could be heard a long way off since noises of battle had ceased. An odd clunking noise was approaching us; neither I nor my frightened captors could not understand what was the cause of it. The officer ordered one of the men to secure between the path and the place where we found ourselves, another moved behind me, grabbing my wrists that had been tied crossed to each other. The tallest man stepped in front of me to hold his rifle against my chest.

I was listening tensely and tried to guess who were making the noise until it dawned to me: It was Germans carrying LMG magazines (sic!) to the front line. Our outfit was posted just at the seam between Germans and our troops. My hope was revived, I started waiting if the man behind me would slip his fingers while watching the bayonet man in front of me, who was waiting for order to stab me. Everyone was quiet and without budging for a few minutes – it was an eerie situation in my opinion.

-Bandits they are, the officer suddenly said.
-Let's run -but we are not able to drag that b*d along. Do not shoot! Bayonet him!
It was a chilling order. If the bloke had said it in Russian it would have been easier for me, not knowing the language. But now he said it in my language to be sadistic, even the man with the bayonet was a Finn – at least by language.

The bayonet man was a little slow as I was staring at him with burning eyes. I was also watching the tip of the bayonet trying to figure out where the thrust would hit, and as the bloke aimed right at my chest I suddenly wheeled and ducked. The thrust hit the right side of my throat and did not go deep. Now I was presenting my side to the man and he made another attempt at my side but I again wheeled and bent my body so that the bayonet cut through my clothes at waist level, piercing my shirt and tunic, even the ammo pouch, just scraping my skin.

Now my killer got angry, he was swearing chillingly and now being behind my back he thrust again. I again wheeled sensing the right moment. I was lucky. The steel slid past my side and my quick movement made the man holding my wrists slip his grip. Now I found myself face to face with him, our noses touching each other. I yelled with all my force right into his mouth:
-Hey-Hey !
The Vanya was scared, I might bite off his nose, too, he pulled his head to the rear and stepped back.

The very moment I broke into run heading for darkness without any goodbyes. The frightened man tried to grab my neck but failed to get hold. Also the dumbfounded bayonet man found his legs and darted after me. I was running for my life but it was troublesome to run with your arms tied in darkness and on ground strewn with tree stumps and turfs.

The bayonet man caught me after a race of a few tens of meters and tried to stab me in the back. Again I correctly guessed the right moment and bounced to the side, the bayonet slid under my armpit. I kept running followed by the Vanya with bayonet. There was a higher turf ahead, I dodged it abruptly but the foe, trying to sink his bayonet in my back, had no time to watch his step. So he stumbled on the turf and fell flat on his face. I gained thus some headway and started running for the noise that was by now emanating quite close. The bayonet man was tenaciously following me for a moment but finally gave up chase, apparently for fear of being caught by our men.

Having run across a small clearing I stopped to catch my breath and took a glance behind me. On the far side of the clearing there was my pursuer, looking rather helpless. Furiously I started yanking to get my arms free and to throw the hand grenades in my pockets at the bloke. I did not make it, and the Vanya, too, quickly left.

I started sneaking for the direction where the noises had emanated. Now it was oddly quiet there, and after all I was not totally sure that the noise makers would have been friends, taking into account that my furious yelling had had no effect. Soon I saw that my first estimate had been correct. By the side of the path I discovered a Platoon of Jerries bivouacked, all of them asleep. I proceeded right in the middle of their bivouac, then yelled:
-Get up, double quick! Here you are lying like pigs in a sty and Vanyas are about to get you!

A commotion ensued. The boys were up and about in a blink of an eye, intending to run the same moment. There was among them one who knew some Finnish and made the others calm down. Even the Jerries had a hard work extricating me out of my bundling.

I hurried back for my Company to report to the CO what had happened. Passing the scene of the first round I picked up my helmet left there. Now the damage suffered in the incident began to be felt. Most bothersome was the bayonet strike at my back even though it was not very deep. I felt at my neck and felt that my ID disk string was stuck in the wound. By a wonderful chance the bayonet tip had hit it squarely and pushed a loop of it in my flesh. As I pulled it out the wound started bleeding. My arms were aching and my neck was so stiff that I was not able to turn my head. As I met some wounded men on their way from the front line to the C.C.S I joined them to be patched up.

I reported to my Company CO about my adventure and was told that the would-be captors had finally been trapped when trying to cross the river to their side. As acknowledgement to my tenacious action I was granted home furlough which I had to spend while in considerable pain. The ropes and the strap I took home to Pudasjärvi as a memento of the death sentence given to me, but failed to be executed due to “reasons known”

It is not possible to verify the story by war diaries, most of the Regiment's Company level diaries are missing for the period .
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

Posts: 800
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 11 Mar 2023 05:29

Olavi Lumiala

Reconnoitring and torpedo action over the Arctic Ocean

Magazine “Kansa Taisteli” 07, 1963

Olavi Lumiala, Major, FAF, 1907 -1993

Being posted as the FAF Liaison Officer in the Luftwaffe Luftflotte 5 HQ in Northern Norway, I was granted a chance in July 1941 to participate in a reconnoitring sortie over the Arctic Ocean.

We took off from an air base next to Kirkkoniemi [Kirkenes; Northernmost Norway used to be populated by Finnish immigrants and their descendants, the towns and fjords have also Finnish names. Te. Rem.]. Our a/c was a twin engine He 111 with a marching speed of 320kmh. The crew comprised pilot, observer, radio operator, and two gunners. The pilot was this time an engineer-officer of the HQ.

Our task comprised three parts:
1._Reconnoitre coastal shipping or traffic on the area Petsamo-Kildin island (NE of Murmansk)
2._Convoy reconnoitring on the Arctic Ocean
3._Weather reconnoitring

After take-off we climbed to some 1500m and headed past Petsamo to the open sea. We skirted Rybatchi cape at a respectful distance – the AA batteries there were keen to open fire but the puffs of explosion were at a safe distance from our a/c.

Our flight continued parallel with the Murmansk shore to E. On our right there was a barren and naked coastline. There was here and there a sandy riverbed among bare cliffs. To the South at the Litsa river where the front had stalled a thin smoke screen was floating at a low altitude. It was created either by shelling or Stuka raids.

No kind of traffic was visible on sea or on land. We were approaching the turning point of the first leg of our sortie, the Kildin island. I was sitting behind the pilot at a window observing the scenery below us. Suddenly I spotted a spec moving below – obviously it was an enemy fighter pursuing us. The speck kept increasing in size every moment, it was gaining altitude flying in a helix pattern. I stretched into the cockpit and beckoning to the direction of the approaching a/c yelled:
-Jäger !
Immediately the crew sprang into action. The engines were rumbling at maximal revs, the belly gunner rushed to his position and the others started looking for the enemy with their fingers on trigger. The pilot pulled the Heinkel in a steep climb heading for the solid cloud layer above. From the tail side even chattering began to emanate - the belly gunner had apparently caught the fighter in his gunsight. Thin fog started to appear around us, in a moment it condensed into a gray mass – we were in a cloud.

Firing ceased at once – at the last possible moment we had reached the cover of the cloud layer. Having flown for ten minutes in the cloud, constantly altering the course, our pilot headed for North. We started a slow descent as the cloud mass kept getting lighter. Soon we were flying below the cloud cover. Six pairs of eyes were intently scanning the airspace below and around : no enemy in sight any more – we also had managed to shake him off flying in the cloud.

Arctic Ocean was waving below and we continued our flight to the North. The Murmansk coast disappeared behind us . The cloud cover overhead began to develop cracks and at times sunshine was reflected off the waves, creating patterns of light and shadow. Imagination was playing its tricks – at times I thought I had spotted the silhouette of a surfaced sub but a second later it was proved to be just a shadow on the surface of the sea.

The Arctic Ocean was totally void. We had flown for about two hours having turned away from the coastline and I reckoned we found ourselves about 500 km N of Petsamo. The observer beckoned to me to come in the cockpit, then pointed ahead:
-The edge of fast ice !

Far ahead the horizon was shrouded in thin fog, in front of which one could discern a narrow band of pale grey – the edge of the fast ice. Our a/c started descending, at an altitude of a few tens of meters the pilot started turning while still descending. We found ourselves at the turning point of our sortie. Now we were to carry out the meteorological measurements for which the a/c was equipped with custom instruments and equipment. The measurement was to be carried out by flying as low as possible for ten minutes to provide valid and accurate data.

I peeked out of a window. We did fly low – I estimated at four to five meters. It seemed that the wave crests were almost touching the tips of Ur wings. I almost wanted to ask : “some more altitude if you don't mind” but managed suppressed my intent.

After the instrument flying we again took altitude, heading for the coastline where we arrived after a total of about five hours of flying time. Waves were breaking on the grey rocks of the coastline, and there was Nordkapp – the northernmost tip of Europe proudly rising from sea. Our mission was accomplished and after 5h20min flying we landed at our base.

The next day the same crew minus the undersigned took off for another similar sortie over the Arctic Ocean. I stayed “grounded” for the good reason that the same day there would be a great German air raid against Murmansk. It would obviously be more interesting to observe it than participate in a rather boring reconnaissance mission over the Arctic Ocean. But it was to be even more interesting !

The first attack wave – dive bombers – was already airborne on their way to Murmansk. Fighters were in readiness at their bases to take off to escort the returning dive bombers.

Suddenly a radio message from the Arctic Ocean was received:
A British naval detachment comprising a dozen men-of-war has been spotted about 150 km N of Kirkenes. Included are two carriers that are constantly sending aircraft. At least forty a/c airborne. We were fired at by AA. Returning to base.
(Operation EF (1941), also the Raid on Kirkenes and Petsamo took place on 30 July 1941,)
The message was sent by the sea reconnaissance a/c.

The German commander reacted rapidly. The raid at Murmansk was aborted, the fighters were scrambled to intercept the anticipated air raid and the bomber formations were re-directed against the enemy vessels spotted on the Arctic Sea.

Hardly had these orders been issued and the fighters taken off as continuous rumbling started emanating from the direction of the Kirkenes fjords. It was so strong that the ground one was standing on appeared to be vibrating .
-Torpede ! Opined the German Chief of Staff.

The raid had apparently been aimed at the freighters anchored at the three fjords near Kirkenes. Rumbling at the fjords went on continuously. It was accompanied by the dull barks of 88 mm batteries, unceasing banging of smaller calibre AA guns, chatter of MG s and the howling of diving aircraft. A real confusion was going on over the fjords, aircraft circling every where.

Soon our HQ was receiving first reports about the raid. It was told that some 50 British a/c had carried out a torpedo attack at the twelve or thirteen freighters anchored at the Kirkenes fjords. Several of the attackers had been shot down and the battle was still going on. Petsamo reported that they, too, had been raided albeit with a smaller force.

The leader of the Stuka formation on their way home from Murmansk, approaching Kirkenes, saw that the devil was loose. He made a quick decision and ordered his formation to join the ongoing aerial battle. Later it was confirmed that the relatively slow Stukas had shot down seven British a/c without losing any of their own. It was also found that the British a/c were even slower which made it possible to intercept them.

By the by the sounds of battle died down and the German a/c returned to their bases one by one. Reports kept arriving in the HQ and soon the first British POW s were brought to the yard of the HQ building, wet and with depressed mien. German rescue motor boats had picked up the surviving British airmen.

The final report on the raid and aerial battles recounted that the British had not made a single torpedo hit in any of the freighters, the “fishes” had exploded at the rocks of the fjord coastline. What specially hampered the British raid was that the targeted vessels had been anchored just at the steep waterfront rocks in parallel with the fjord. Brits had to carry out their raid flying at low altitude over the fjord parallel with it. Due to the relatively high hills at the fjord a torpedo attack was feasible only flying along the fjord. The targets presented their narrowest angle thus decreasing the chances of hits.

On the other hand low flying saved the lives of many a British airman because when shot down they managed to land on the fjord. German rescue motor bats picked them up and forwarded them to POW camps. According to the official announcement the British suffered a loss of 30 a/c and 40 POWs . Germans lost neither men nor aircraft.

The bomber formations ordered to attack the British ships had to return before reaching their target . Suddenly risen fog forced them to return to base. It can also be presumed that the fog also prevented the British a/c from finding their carries. Some a/c were seen flying in the direction of Murmansk.

When interrogated the Brits tried to pull wool over the eyes of their interrogators. They told they had taken off from bases at Murmansk – certainly they did not reveal the existence of their carriers. But their attempt to cheat failed. Germans were aware of the carries due to the report of their sea reconnaissance a/c. To the astonishment of the POWs Germans were even better informed about their operation. The Germans were able to present fairly accurate data about the RN detachment and its ships, the tasks in detail and finally the names of commanders, from Admiral to Squadron Leaders. Finally the POWs were told that several RN ships had been sunk by bombs, among them the “Victorious” that had indeed been a part of the detachment.

That was a load of sad news for the British POWs. Actually the alleged sinking of RN ships was just German interrogation tactics, but how could the POW s have guessed the truth as the Germans appeared to be as well informed as they themselves were. Where had the Germans gained their data? The reason proved to be simple enough. As the uniform of one captured British officer was being hung out to dry, a copy of the written attack order was found in a pocket of the tunic.

Posts: 800
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
Location: Finland

Re: Personal Finnish War Stories

Post by Lotvonen » 18 Mar 2023 05:57

J. Kivistö

Baptism by fire

Magazine “Kansa Taisteli”, 09, 1963

JR 37, II Btn and I Btn, Kitee in July 1941

JR 37 CO Jaeger Col. Into Salmio issued orders as requested by the AC to his II Battalion (CO Capt. Viljo Ratia) to secure at the border line in the direction of the road Kitee – Matkaselkä. The main elements of the Battalion were shifted on the 4th July 1941 first to Ruunaanmäki, later to Korkeakangas with one Coy at a time deployed in securing. The Battalion was subordinated on the 11.7.1941 to 19.D and tasked to advance in parallel with the road to support the 19.D troops attacking to take the village of Jaakkima in the enemy territory. II/JR 37 took jump-off positions in the evening of the day in the terrain of Matkalampi.
(Quoted from Sotasampo, II/JR37)

The author states that his Company (3.K) was in the II Battalion. But logically Companies 1 to 3 must have belonged to I Battalion .
kuivanlainen (2).jpg
The attack of JR 37 II Battalion against the enemy positions at Havukkamäki [alias Kuivasmäki or Kuivalainen] in Kitee on the 13th of July in 1941 was to be my unforgettable war experience.

Sun was shining on cloudless sky, it was the first days of July 1941. The men were resting, in small groups at the beach of a small lake. Some of them had taken off even their shirts and washed them , then spread them out drying on tree branches. For the past few days we had been marching sweating on dusty roads. Now we were tending our chafed heels and cool our feet in the lake. We had no idea about where we would be heading and what would be waiting for us. Someone rumoured that we would be in reserve. We also loved to hear estimates tat the war operation would not take long, maybe in a fortnight the matter would be over. Farmer soldiers hoped to get home before the haymaking season would be over. Our hopes were boosted by the observations of our first patrols on the enemy: the enemy appeared to be lethargic, even their sentries were asleep in the sun. The beautiful days of Carelian summer went by under favourable mood. It started to appear that noting out of normal would happen any more.

The 12th July 1941 abruptly changed our mood. We were informed that the same day at 1800hrs the Battalion shall launch an attack. By now we found ourselves some 800m from the national border. Clouds had appeared on the sky of our hopes. Officers were mingling with their men more than usually. Even our Battalion CO, a young Captain, was seen among us in a pensive mood. Even many of the “Taipale alumni” [Winter War veterans] had some pink on their cheeks. We were egged on by the great common goal, the return of the just borders. That is why we, men haling from Southern Osthrobothnia, found ourselves in Carelia now.

At the determined H hour 1.K and 2.K launched their attack. Our 3.K was behind them as reserve. The idea was to surprise Russians. That is why artillery was not deployed. It was a fierce attack. Young Lieutenants were storming in front of their Companies, yelling “hooray” and “Get them”. There was no time to take cover. Men would only occasionally put one knee to the ground (to shoot) and then continue. But in front of the rocky enemy positions neither elan nor courage mattered. MG fire cut down the Osthrobothnian troops. Only a minor part of the Companies returned. War had started.

New orders were received. Our Company was tasked to attack the next morning [July 13th] at0400hrs. Artillery was to strike the enemy positions before the H Hour. Our Company CO, Lt. Helske, fresh from the Cadet School, took the mission to heart. The night was spent in getting ready. The Company set out at 0330hrs. Three of our Platoons were advancing in a loose file for the border. 4th Platoon stayed in reserve. Sun was just rising on cloudless sky behind the hill we were to take. We were proceeding in silence, only faint clanks of weapons disturbed the silence of the forest. Even the most talkative of the men appeared to have nothing to say. They, too, were probably just thinking. It was likely that it was home, next of kin and the past that they had in their thoughts.

The files of men left paths in the dewy forest, soon sunshine made them fade away. Then there was a bog with pines, as tall as men, growing on it. We had to be even more careful when proceeding. We crossed the road to Sortavala on the far side of the bog. Terrain beyond the road started rising and the forest denser. We arrived at a wide swath cut in the forest, it was the border after the Winter War. Crossing it meant that we found ourselves “abroad”. The troops stopped in the cover of the forest. We were waiting for the barrage of our artillery.

The H hour was approaching. We heard the booming behind us. Shells passed howling overhead, hitting the hillside ahead of us. It was as if the entire hillside was being ripped apart. We knew that when the artillery finished it was the time for us to start.

We were ordered to get going. To begin with we had to cross the minefield in front of the hill. Our Platoon Leader 2nd Lt. Ilmari Talso was proceeding in front of us. To warn the men against stepping on mines he took a couple of steps back. The very moment there was an explosion. For a while I was not aware of what had happened. I saw the Lieut's torso fly up several meters. I found myself in a hole where rocks and earth was falling down. Men farther off said that a mine had exploded.

Enemy opened up with all their weapons. Jets of MG were were angrily sweeping the bare slope. Also mortar bombs were falling at us. The first to go up the slope was our brave Company CO, heading for the enemy positions. A jet of bullets put an end to the advance of the young cadre officer. Thorough training and theoretical knowledge did not matter. His young life was cut short at dawn.

Our Company kept trying to break into the enemy trench on top of the hill. Intense fire on the open hillside scattered our troops, however. Enemy had set up a complete interlocking kill zone in front of their line. This summer morning the beautiful Carelian hill had become a place of destruction reigned by death and suffering.

When advancing with our Company I had finally made it just in front of the enemy positions. Just a few meters more and I would be at a fire spitting embrasure. Yelling and wailing was heard all over the place. Shot up soldiers were appealing for help but no human help was available. There was only death to relieve a man of his pain.

Jets of bullets kept swishing overhead. There seemed to be only one direction where to go to survive: right downwards, under the ground. Suddenly I felt a tearing sharp pain at my thigh. Then it was as if my leg was soaking in a wet spot. I realised I was bleeding. I could not bandage my wound because putting up one's head would result at least in more wounds. Everything appeared to be lost. Slowly I managed to turn my heels at the enemy. Laborious return to our lines started.

Many hours had passed since I had taken a bullet hole in my thigh. Staying as flat as an earthworm I had slowly crawled down the hill and even through the minefield. Enemy had been firing intensely all the time, shells, too, had been bursting. The calls for help of the wounded on the battlefield were behind me. I found myself on the bog at the road ditch. The ditch in front of me was full of black muddy water. The road was under enemy auto weapons fire, bullets were kicking up dust on the road surface. I had to cross the road. The bullet hole in my thigh made it impossible to jump over the ditch, even a sportsman could not have made it.

There was nothing else to do but to creep along the bottom of the ditch. Dirty water reached my armpits. I had to exert the last of my energy to make it across the road as fast as possible. The other ditch was there, I had to creep along that, too.

By the by the enemy was left ever farther behind me. I heard booms of artillery far behind, they were using heavy ones. Shells were landing somewhere at our supply point, and I thought of our field kitchen. Finally I crept from the bog to the edge of the forest. Our Battalion CO Capt. V.O. Ratia was watching across the bog at the direction of the enemy. He had a serious and worried countenance. Heavy losses had been suffered in one day. Casualties included Coy COs Helske and Simojoki.

At the edge of the forest I also found the platoon of our Company that had been in reserve. Many of them did not recognise me. I was as wet as a dog thrown in water. I had also crawled through a mud hole and crept on ground for a long stretch. My face and clothing was crusted with mud. One of the men took me to the C.C.S. A burning hurry was gong on there. Many a man was lying cold, wrapped in tarp, on the ground outside the medical tent. There were plenty of men with white bandages over various parts of their body. Finally one was wrapped over my leg.

Sun was setting in West, the very direction where we were evacuated from the C.C.S. We were just losers, but we had been on the border between life and death.

"II/JR37 attacked on the morning of 12.7. and in the evening of 13.7. to the Kuivalainen hill behind the border line, taking heavy casualties in both failed attempts. The planned third attack was called off and the task of the battalion was now to tie the enemy. On the evening of 17.7.1941 the Battalion was transferred to Niinisyrjä."

It is interesting that the war diaries of 1., 2., 3. and 4. Companies of JR37 are totally missing.

SPK11798 I Btn war diary (on school notebook) pp.14-

Weather: Semi cloudy, strong thunderstorm in the evening, temp 20 to 25 deg C
07.30hrs Training in terrain.
11.00hrs Orienteering competition for 1.K
11.20hrs The 5 drivers sent by the Btn reported at the Rgt HQ to be transferred to Helsinki CG
Of them 2 from Admin Coy, 1 from 1.K, 1 from 2.K, 1 from KKK.
12.00hrs Btn CO in briefing by Rgt CO.
13.30hrs Btn CO briefing unit CO s:
from now on, Btn in 1 hour standby, everything must be set right, hay must be cut and loaded.
Else normal daily service.
15.00hrs Friendly a/c in lively action.
19.45hrs 5+5 replacements from Ylihärmä reported at the Btn, they were given a meal and the Btn CO addressed them, then they were sent on. 1.K 2+1, 2.K 1+3, 3.K 2+1
21.25hrs Btn CO briefing Unit CO s:
Our attack to be launched at 2000hrs, artillery preparation at 1800hrs
[Apparently called off, although not mentioned. Tr.rem.]
Our AF in very lively action, heavy bombardments (sic!)
21.30hrs Big fires seen N, NE, ESE. Strong thunderstorm.
21.40hrs 5 NCOs from the Sapper Coy reported and 4 of them were posted in 1.K and 1 in 2.K.
23.05hrs 5 NCOs with sapper training transferred from Btn (4 of 1.K, 1 of 2.K) to Rgt HQ then posted in Pion.K.
(3 blank rows)
Weather: Clear, temp 25 to 27 deg C.
7.30hrs Units in training in terrain
10.30hrs 2.K in orienteering competition. Map reading, compass using.
08.15hrs-10.00hrs CO left to visit Rgt.
Mortar Platoon CO liaised by the Armourer Officer, he was issued new mortars of one type for his Platoon. Old English mortars were handed over.
11.00-12.00hrs Lively aerial activities by friendly a/c
14.00hrs The fighting elements of Btn were assembled at the forest next to 1.K and 2.K bivouac area. Btn CO addressed the Btn and read the C.-in-C. Daily order n:o 3. The occasion was militarily brief and solemn, an occasion that strongly boosted the spirit of the Battalion and was a highlight in the daily mundane service.
Immediately hereafter the entire Btn had an exercise in moving in terrain, grouped.
16.15hrs Training ended.
During PM friendly aerial activities were lively and some enemy fighters overflew the Btn bivouac area at 400 to 500m to E.
18.00hrs onwards mutual occasional artillery activities.
19.00hrs Aerial activities perked up again. Friendly bombers escorted by fighters seen on their way beyond the border.
21.30hrs Btn CO briefing unit CO s.
Readiness to be improved, instructions on service, the hottest part of a day to be used for weapons and gear maintenance, washing and swimming. Hay is to be loaded on carts. A guide book of the Russian language and other mail from the Rgt was distributed. Men are to be instructed how to demolish the simplest hindrances.
19.00_ to 22.00hrs A second inoculation against typhus and smallpox carried out in 1.K, 2.K. EK, and Mortar Platoon.
22.00hrs Again more lively aerial activities, artillery in action in the front and to the right. Smoke spotted in Värtsilä direction.

Weather clear, temp 22 to 25 deg C.
08.00hrs CO set out to observe Coys in service.
09.00hrs to 10.30hrs Mortar Platoon carried out test firing, target the cape on the S shore of Heinäjärvi lake, 2.K bivouacs under the trajectory.
Pay paid until 10.7.1941
(In the margin: inspected on 13.7.41)
13.00hrs Btn CO summoned to Rgt CO for briefing.
15.00hrs Men suggested for Officer training reported to Btn CO.
They are: Passi, V., Sr. Sgt of EK, Erkinheimo, E, Cpl of 2.K, and Kujala, L, Sgt of Mortar Platoon.
16.00hrs Btn CO addressing the 3.K men hailing from Carelia, uttering some words on obligation.
18.15hrs Btn CO addressing all officers of the Btn. The subject was the discipline and every Commander's duty and willingness to serve, while it was stressed what lax discipline had caused during the attack yesterday .
[No mention of which in this diary, tr.rem]
The absolute duty of an officer is to demand much of his subordinated leaders while supporting them with his authority.
19.00hrs -22.00hrs At times lively aerial activities and artillery fire.
22.25hrs Red flare in bearing 59-00 which split in air into three balls of light.

Weather: clear, temp 30 deg C
10.00hrs Field divine service in the bivouac terrain of 3.K for the entire Btn. Led by Lt. Paul Sarena. Pastor: Lt. Lampola. Imposing and beautiful mood.
14.00hrs CO left for Rgt HQ.
16.15hrs Btn CO briefing for all Officers of the Btn. Description of the situation, specially emphasized was the importance and great significance in battlefield of a Platoon leader, also correspondingly the status of a Squad Leader.
17.10hrs Artillery pre at the Regimental Sector started and later attack activities. Friendly airmen are active. Quiet Sunday activities: Swimming, washing, sauna bath and good news over the wireless.

Weather: clear, wind from S, temp 27 to 30 deg C.
01.45hrs Enemy launched reveille for Btn: 3 minor field gun shells some 700 to 800m S of the EK bivouac
08.30-09.30hrs AT Platoon test fired their weapons at a Heinäjärvi cape. The result was good and the Platoon was satisfied and elated. CO observing the firing.
09.45-10.15hrs CO checking in terrain the marks of the shells landing last night.
10.20hrs Rgt order to post two officers to II Btn.
10.45hrs Briefing to Coy CO s by Btn CO: it was considered what action the above-mentioned Rgt order demanded.
13.00hrs CO left for Rgt HQ.
14.30hrs Lt. G. Paul E/I/JR37 and 2nd Lt. Vilho Patti 1./I/JR37 were transferred to II/JR27. They are to report to Capt. Ratia.
23.05hrs CO summoned to Rgt CO .
23.35hrs Btn CO briefing unit CO s. Orders have been issued to assign Btn a new task in a new place.

SPK11799 II Btn War diary (school notebook) pp. 4-

08.00hrs 5.K relieved the front line to secure it.
Later that day it was informed that Our Division 19.D H hour is 2000hrs and artillery preparation is to start after 1900hrs.

Waiting for attack orders
16.30hrs Orders received, Btn is to get ready.
21.00hrs Preparatory attack orders issued.

03.45hrs H hour informed by telephone.
05.15hrs Btn crossed the border. Btn was to attack the hills of Kuivalainen and Juvonen, the former by 5.K and the latter by 6.K , 4.K constituting a reserve between them.
5.K started their attack for reasons unknown a little too early. 6.K was unable to advance.
5.K reached partly the first objective but heavy shelling and MG fire forced them to retreat having taken heavy casualties.
Coy CO Lt. Simojoki fell.
07.50hrs Battalion arrived at their bivouac area at Välivaara terrain.
23.30hrs Preparatory orders on a new attack issued.
Btn started preparations.

01.30hrs: Information: Attack to be launched in 2 to 3 hours.
14.20hrs: Information: Btn to be in attack readiness in 1,5 to 2 hours.
15.35hrs Departure for jump-off positions.
The same objective as last time.
17.20hrs H Hour.
4.K attacked at the Kuivalainen hill but was beaten back for the same reason as last time.
6.K made an orienteering error and was unable to start their mission in due time.
5.K: The elements that could be assembled were in reserve .
4.K CO Lt. Helske and Platoon Leader 2nd Lt. Talas fell and the other Platoon Leaders were wounded.
20.00hrs The last of the wounded were being evacuated past the C.P.
22.00hrs Btn was transferred to Matkalampi terrain, Välivaara hill was secured by the Rgt Jaeger Platoon in co-operation with Btn.
23.00hrs Replacements for the battalion, 1+14 were posted in 5.K.

[The Kuivalainen operation was over but let us read some more of the war diary, revealing the state of the Battalion. Tr.rem.]

02.30hrs Enemy direct fire cannon fired at the Btn bivouac area. Btn panicked, except 6.K on securing duty.
12.00hrs Btn was being assembled at a new bivouac area some 1 km SW of Hattuvaara.
( during the day officers and other ranks received as replacements, 5+7+38)
24.00hrs Btn subordinated [directly] to 19.D.

02.00hrs 19.D issued orders: Btn to be ready to attack at 2000hrs
15.00hrs CO set out to report on the situation to 19.D HQ. The result was that the above-mentioned attack order was cancelled and Btn was issued a task to secure and patrol .

5./JR 37 war diary extract, SPK 11775
Tr.rem: Written in a grid paper school notebook with an non-standard format:
A preamble a summary of incidents from June 1941 up to the 12th July 1941.
Then each page is formatted in four columns with the following headers:
Date -Hour -Incident -Estimate of incident .
In translation the format is altered.

4./JR37. (sic! Actually 5./JR37)SPK11778
The Company was assembled at the beginning of the mobilization at Isokyrö, Ikola schoolhouse on the 18th June 1941. Coy CO was Lt. Helske, Osmo who later fell at Kitee on the 13th July. Coy Sarge was Pinkola, Arvid. Quartermaster NCO was Sgt. Mylläri, E. Scribe was the man writing this, Alanen K.
As Platoon leaders were posted 2nd Lts Pelander, A.J., Talsa J., Eerola E.O., and Laaksonen J.R.
Coy headed for battles, to create a Greater Finland on the 25th June 1941. We embarked at Tervojoki station and the journey was totally calm, the end station was Putikko, then started a long and arduous march Kesälahti -Puhos -Kitee .
The march was carried out mainly at night but we had to continue at daytime, too.
Weather was very hot and beautiful.
Company settled at their battle sector on the 10th July near the border.
The attack against Russki positions was started on the 11th July in the morning as the Vähäkyrö Company was spearheading, us securing flanks.
The objective on the Russki side were the Kuivasmäki hills. The attack was successful but the terrible fire delivered by Russki from an adjacent hill had such an ill effect that the hill had to be abandoned with heavy casualties.
The next day it was the turn of our Coy to attack

On the top margin of page no.2:
After the diary scribe was wounded in the battle at Kitee, the notes were continued starting on the 13/7.41

13.7.1941: [sic! Maybe actually the 12th? Tr.rem.]
0600_-0700hrs The entire Company in jump-off positions.
17.00hrs Attack operation launched.
Coy crossed the border, their objective being the Kuivasmäki hill (alias Välivaara), well fortified by Russki.
18.00hrs Attack launched.
No-man's-land in front of the said hill was mined by the enemy in such a manner that only the paths led to the hill (were unmined), off the path the terrain was mined every ten centimeters (sic!).
During the attack our men fell in mine explosions. Also Russki was firing heavily at us.
The hill was taken but simultaneously enemy launched a terrible artillery and auto weapons barrage with destructive results.

Attack is continued
From the top of the hill we had to retreat away by the by, casualties were very heavy , more than twenty fallen and some 50 wounded.
Incident: (Coy CO Helske was the first man on the hilltop. He shouted: “This hill is ours.” Yet he was killed the very moment.)
The fallen were left on the battlefield except five of them, the wounded could all be evacuated.
In the battle fought Platoons 1., 3., 4. 3.Platoon was securing flanks, thus surviving without casualties, only one WIA.
08.00hrs on
Company ordered to return to the jump-off positions
After a bloody battle Coy was staying in defensive positions.
2nd Platoon was serving as fore-posts.

Coy in R&R, roll call.
1.,2., 4. Platoons and Admin Squad were in R&R, the remains of Coy were inspected and listed. Battle strength had fallen to half. The spirit was depressed.

Company received replacements, including a new CO: Lt. Pauli, G., (from Helsinki).
Company was given replacements: more than 37 men and 6 NCOs, a new Coy CO and also two officers as Platoon leaders.

(end of the day)

6.K/JR37 SPK 11776 war diary extract:

07.00hrs Reveille, morning tea.
08.30hrs Coy CO set out to visit the platoons .
Nothing special during AM., some a/c flying around, else quiet.
10.30hrs Coy CO returned.
14.00_-18.00hrs Lively aerial activities, on both sides.
19.00hrs Electricity is accumulating in the atmosphere [=something seems to be going on]
19.05hrs Our artillery started lively shelling which went on all night with some brief breaks.
Else nothing special, sentry duty.

Continuous artillery fire, Russki retaliating with a few shells occasionally.
AM : Quiet.
12.05hrs Coy CO set out to liaise with the MG Coy CO in Jaakkima village.
14.00hrs Our artillery fired some intense barrages.
15.20hrs Coy CO returned from reconnoitring.
18.50hrs Briefing by Btn CO. After that Coy was issued orders to get ready to move to jump-off positions.
I, III and IV Platoons moved to the same level as II Platoon where Coy was assembled and grouped for action on a hill called Välivaara where we had to wait until small hours.

04.45hrs (Saturday morning) Coy CO signalled the order to advance. Our Coy was followed by a subordinated MG Platoon, a Sapper Squad and a Mortar Platoon. Our task was to take the forested hill in front of Jaakkima village by surprise, without artillery preparation.
05.07hrs National border was crossed, then silently on across the road at the foot of the hill into jump-off positions.
05.30hrs Attack was launched. The hill in front of us was very steep. However we were able to climb it without problems until we had reached the crest of the hill, then Russki opened intense fire which we retaliated with equal measure.
Slowly but certainly Coy was able to advance until :
05.45hrs A bullet struck our Coy CO, also two Platoon leaders were wounded. Several men fell and were wounded. Due to difficult terrain MG_s did not make it in time to support the attack of the Coy and securing on the left was poor. We had to sort of pull back to the foot of the hill, some more men were lost during retreat. So our casualties were heavy.
The remains of the Coy returned under a rain of shells dragging the wounded to be evacuated to the C.C.S.
After Coy CO had been wounded 2nd Lt. Halttunen took the command.
The surviving men were assembled by the by at the foot of Välivaara hill where we stayed for now to rest.

02.20hrs Btn issued orders to be on the standby.
03.00hrs Coy was shifted on the other side of Välivaara hill in a patch of forest to be in reserve for 4.K whose turn was to try to attack now.
04.00hrs Up to this hour the remains of our Company were lying in that patch of forest, having a meal and making some coffee. Our strength comprised 50 men , some had quietly slunk up to the supply line or near it, where they were being ordered to get back.
04.30hrs After artillery preparation another attack was launched with equally bad success as 5.K suffered heavy casualties .
Of our Company several men were wounded in shelling.
06.30hrs As the battle had gradually ceased Coy rallied in the previous bivouac place where we set up two tents, but at midnight we had to run for shelters as Russki was inspired to throw mortar bombs at us.
(In the margin: 14 replacements arrived).

The rest of the night was calm as well as AM.
11.30hrs Order received from Btn: 6.K is transferred 2 km in the rear for R&R.
Having arrived at the bivouac area at first weapons were inspected and replenished platoon-wise. Also there was a kind of roll call to find out who is fallen or missing.
17.00hrs After a meal there was a sauna bath. Else nothing special to mention.
(end of the day)

7./JR37 war diary extract:
Our Company received replacements, 4 new men.
Our outfit was deployed in avant-garde positions.
The first battle for our outfit. We lost one man fallen, Sgt. Ristilä A.
and one wounded Cpl. Kumara A.
Another baptism by fire in the same terrain. Again we lost two men wounded.
Enemy appears to have quite good defensive positions in this sector.
Coy still in avant-garde positions. Nothing special. Several of our men are resting due to fatigue, at the supply line.
Or outfit in avant-garde positions. The border is calm. Mutual artillery activities. Nothing to mention.
Very quiet and calm AM, not a single shot was heard. That makes us wonder: what is going on? Calm before storm. The rest of the day was not as calm indeed.
(End of the day)
Coy at rest. PM we marched via a detour road to the supply road and then to a new location. Now we crossed the national border, so we find ourselves in a new territory.
The baggage train halted to wait for a new bivouac area. It was a fateful stop. Russki sent some shells which hit the column squarely in the middle. Some men died and many were wounded, some gravely. Of our Coy was wounded Cpl. Marttila, however not badly.
AM: we continued our journey forward. Enemy defensive positions were passed, we saw them during our journey on hills, hillocks and patches of forest. There were field fortifications in all shapes but no enemies were to be seen. Our lads would not have abandoned such positions just so. We saw how our artillery had made accurate hits on the enemy positions. We could witness how literally the order of “peace loving Stalin” had been executed buy Russki soldiers. Houses had been torn down and torched, railroad rails stolen and the remaining ones bent, road and railway bridges blown up, telephone lines cut up and destroyed and everything that could be removed had been carried away. Cursed Russki !
-Carelian nature is beautiful for one used to the plains of Osthrobothnia. There are high hills with good view far into the surroundings. For example at the Kiteenvaara hill in Jaakkima there is a grand view.
(end of the day)

8./JR37 war diary extract: [These battles went on at Välivaara, actually unconnected with Kuivasmäki, but included here for general information. Tr.rem.]

SPK 11779
Coy still securing at Kitee, II MG Platoon is deployed in a field stronghold. Nothing special has happened.
10.7._at 1900hrs started heavy artillery fire that went on all through the night.
Coy rank and file have been inoculated . Field mail coming every day.
Coy still at old bivouac Nothing special has happened.
Coy was supplied with more ammunition and we started preparing an attack against strong enemy positions. Despite the fact that the fortifications had been bombarded by artillery for several days the attack did not go as planned. The Battalion launched the attack at half past five in the morning they had to retreat having suffered losses. MG Platoons had been subordinated to inf. Coys. AT Platoon was in the positions ordered for them ready to take on any enemy counter-attacks .
During AM reports on casualties were coming in.
Of the Coy men the wounded included Cpl. Kuntola , Pvt. Porvari, Tanttari and Yliposti.
Coy remained just at the vicinity of the border to wait for further development of the situation.
Another attack attempt made against the hills at Välivaara at 1700hrs.
I MG_Platoon and the AT Platoon were supporting 4.K.
It was a heavy battle. After one hour of struggle we had to retreat.
In the battle were wounded Coy CO Lt. A. Suila and I Platoon leader Lt. Nikander and 4 NCO s and 23 men. In the battle fell Cpl. Luomarinta, Pvt Rintapukka, Kuivila and Primetta. As to weapons 4 MG s and one AT rifle were lost.
Lt. Juhani Latosuo was posted as the Coy CO. I MG Platoon leader Sgt. Niemistö.
Due to heavy shelling horses and vehicles had to be moved farther to the rear. During the operation one horse fell [=KIA].
-In the evening replacements were coming in. 1 NCO and 9 men.
Coy except ½ MG Platoon retreated some 3 km from the firing line to grant R&R for me men.
(end of the day)

19.D comprised Infantry regiments JR 16, JR 37 and JR 58, all made up of reservists only, hailing from Osthrobothnia.

Suomi sodassa (toim. Jorma Järventaus, Sampo Ahto ym, 1983) tells us, apparently granting the 19.D HQ the benefit of doubt :

Rumours began spreading in the 19.D that the commanders had an intention to bleed the Osthrobothnians white ; it must have had an effect on the fighting spirit of the men. Mutiny did not progress farther than making a petition. After initial difficulties the Division got over their mental problems. The rumours, however, survive in Osthrobothnia to this very day.
19.D attack started after one hour of artillery preparation on the 10th July 1941 at 2000 hrs. Since in advance there had been wishful thinking that the Russians were about to disengage, a bitter disappointment was waiting. During the next 24 hrs, by the evening of 11th July, JR58 led by Col. Lt. Juva had advanced just one and a half kilometres from the national border . Heavy resistance proved that even if there should have been a weaker spot in the enemy line here they were able to remedy that effectively.
Russians did not limit themselves to just defend. During the night 11.-12. July they counter-attacked the Eastern flank of the breakthrough point, resulting in some panic among Finnish troops
In the evening 12th July 19.D [JR37] relaunched their attack. Weak artillery had been reinforced with one Artillery Battalion and one superheavy battery.
Initially everything went well, until something unexpected happened. Russians had found out that Finns had broken into their line, and they launched on the 13.July countermeasures. The strongholds, well armed, on both sides of the breakthrough point opened fire at the gap and closed it with a counterstrike. A rare occurrence for Finnish troops : the four Battalions that had broken through lost their liaison, that is they found themselves in a Motti.
It took 19.D almost five days to break out of the Motti, that is to secure the breakthrough.
The root reason for poor performance were insufficient artillery and the fact that the enemy was attacked at their strongest point, despite having attempted just the opposite. The total casualties, 1221 men in such a short time were quite heavy and fed the rumours that Osthrobothnians were being allowed to get killed.

Finally the Red Army troops , 168.D, a well trained outfit with Winter War experience, abandoned their positions at Kuivalainen, as their supply road was threatened by Finnish 7.D.

19.D was led from 20.June 1941 up to 1.Feb 1942 by Col H. Hannuksela (another Jaeger Officer), promoted (Sic!) to General on the 31st December 1941 He died the 12th May 1942 of a heart condition.

D.N:o 63/Ia/41
(Manuscript on grid paper apparently with pencil)

Battle report on the attack to Kuivalainen on the 13.7.1941

(19.) Division had issued orders or II/JR37 on the 13.7.1941 to prepare launch an attack at the Kuivalainen hill.

According to the attack plan 4.K, deploying three Platoons and reinforced with a MG platoon, an AT rifle squad and a Sapper squad, was to attack in a tight formation at the Kuivalainen hill. 6.K was to to attack at Jurppe in a similar fashion. 5.K was in reserve a little to the rear and closer to us 4.K.

In accordance with the order issued by the Div.CO the latest possible time for the H hour was to be 1715hrs. Battalion set out, crossing the border at about 1600 with the leading elements. I was following 4.K up to their jump-off positions. 4.K converged, I sent a messenger officer to liaise with 6.K advancing ahead, and the reserves. I liaised with Capt. Tigerstedt at about 1655hrs. Due to the safety margin requested by the Artillery I fixed the H hour at 1720hrs. I had not yet been able to liaise with 6.K but I expected that they had taken their positions since they had set out before 4.K and the terrain had been reconnoitred the day before.

At 1720hrs sharp after a successful artillery preparation Coy Helske stormed up the Kuivalainen hill. During the last 24 hrs Russki had complemented his minefields and camouflaged the mines well. This is why there were quite several mine explosions which caused the first casualties. Despite the minefield the Company stormed bravely on, Sappers blew gaps in the hindrances and the leading Platoon managed to bite in the first enemy fortification structures without taking major casualties. The Platoon continued on and the following Platoon used the same gap to advance to the enemy fortifications. Now heavy MG fire was opened up from the left flank which however caused next to none casualties, it may have been intended to create a barrage behind the Company to block their return route. At about the same time a relatively intense barrage hit us. Even though the troops sought cover in the ditches of the hill the shelling and the MG fire from the frontal direction so accurate and effective that very heavy casualties were taken. Wounded men started creeping down the hill and 2nd Lt. Palander who had taken command could but issue orders to withdraw. The remains of the Company withdrew, bringing their wounded, to the NE side of the new road.

In advance I had been advised by the MG Coy CO Lt. Siira, returning wounded from the hill, that the situation was such that pushing the reserve to the hill would not make any good, only new casualties. However I sent for the reserve to deploy at my C.P to support the withdrawal of 4.K. 5.K, demoralised by their casualties the day before, had been gripped by panic and scattered in the forest despite the fact that it was led by one of the best officers of the Battalion, 2nd Lt. Halttunen. It was only Halttunen with a handful of men who arrived. Also the Battalion C.P was under intense enemy mortar shelling, resulting in heavy casualties. Among other wounded were all HQ officers excluding the Battalion CO. One bullseye hit annihilated the Company wounded evacuation shelter that was situated farther to the rear.

4.K managed however to return on their own. 6.K had got lost due to the difficult terrain and did not make it to the battle at all. The battle spirit of the Coy was yet so weak that in my understanding 6.K would not have made any decisive difference to the outcome of the battle. On the contrary, in my opinion their joining the attack would have resulted in doubling the casualties suffered by the Battalion.

In my opinion about the Kuivalainen stronghold is that it is there only as a bait for the attacker. This is supported by the fact that at the spot there was next no none manning until at the top of the hill. The enemy intended to allow the attacker enter the hillside and destroy them there by shelling. In my opinion it is impossible to take the stronghold frontally and from flanks unless the enemy artillery has been completely silenced. Data provided by local civilians also mentions fortifications cut in rock.

Capt. V. Ratia (Signed).

List of JR37 fallen in this battle:
(War dead database)

Aho, Ahti Aukusti Sotamies
B.19.06.1916 Isokyrö D.13.07.1941 Kuivasmäen kukkula, Kitee age 25
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 4. komppania
KIA , buried in Isokyrö
Worker, no children

Akkola, Olavi Einari Sotamies
B. 29.12.1917 D.12.07.1941 Välivaara, Kitee Age 23
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 5. komppania
KIA buried in Vaasa, Vähäkyrö
Farmer , 1 child

Ala-Kytölä, Eino Johannes Sotamies
B. 19.07.1916 Isokyrö D. 13.07.1941 Kuivasmäen kukkula, Kitee age 24
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 5. komppania
KIA buried in Isokyrö
Mechanic No children

Alanen, Eero Fredrik Kersantti
B. 20.04.1916 Alahärmä D. 13.07.1941 Kitee Age 25
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, Tykkikomppania
KIA , buried in Kauhava, Alahärmä
Farmer 2 children

Annala, Vilho Jaakko Sotamies
B.14.01.1909 Ylistaro D.13.07.1941 Kuivasmäen kukkula, Kitee Age 32
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 4. komppania
KIA , buried in Isokyrö
Farmer No children

Auvinen, Matti Sotamies
B. 31.03.1912 Suistamo D. 13.07.1941 Välivaara, Kitee Age 29
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 5. komppania
Farmer's son 1 child

Bogdanoff, Nikolai Sotamies
B. 09.10.1909 Suojärvi D.13.07.1941 Kuivasmäen kukkula, Kitee Age 31
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 4. komppania
Labourer No children

Hakala, Eino Matias Sotamies
B. 23.06.1908 Isokyrö D. 13.07.1941 Kuivasmäen kukkula, Kitee Age 33
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 5. komppania
KIA , buried in Isokyrö
Farmer, No children

Hakala, Viljo Johannes Sotamies
B. 30.10.1903 Isokyrö D. 13.07.1941 Kuivasmäen kukkula, Kitee Age 37
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 4. komppania
MIA. Gravestone in Isokyrö.
Worker, 1 child.

Hakola, Martti Edvard Sotamies
B. 26.01.1914 Vähäkyrö D.12.07.1941 Välivaara, Kitee Age 27
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, II pataljoona
KIA , buried in Vaasa, Vähäkyrö
Farmer No children

Helske, Osmo Johannes Luutnantti
B. 16.05.1917 Hollola D.13.07.1941 Kuivasmäen kukkula, Kitee Age 24
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 5. komppania
KIA , buried in Lahti
No children

Isomaa, Lauri Jaakko Sotamies
B. 28.06.1904 Peräseinäjoki D. 13.07.1941 Niinisyrjä, Kitee Age 37
Jalkaväkirykmentti 16, 6. komppania
KIA , buried in Seinäjoki, Peräseinäjoki cemetry
Labourer No children

Kallinen, Toivo Johannes Sotamies
B. 04.09.1906 Isokyrö D. 13.07.1941 Kuivasmäen kukkula, Kitee Age 34
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 4. komppania
KIA , buried in Isokyrö
Labourer 1 child

Kesti, Urpo Alikersantti
B 19.06.1914 Vähäkyrö D. 12.07.1941 Välivaara, Kitee Age 27
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, II pataljoona
KIA , buried in Vaasa, Vähäkyrö
Farmer, no children

Knööppi, Jaakko Korpraali
B. 31.03.1898 Vähäkyrö D. 12.07.1941 Kitee Age 43
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 5. komppania
KIA , buried in Vaasa, Vähäkyrö
Farmer No children

Komsi, Martti Aleksanteri Sotamies
B. 13.09.1908 Teuva B. 12.07.1941 Kitee Age 32
Jalkaväkirykmentti 58, 4. komppania KIA
Farmer No children

Kuivila, Olavi Sotamies
27.07.1907 Laihia 13.07.1941 Välivaara, Kitee 33
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 2. konekiväärikomppania
KIA , buried in Laihia
Farmer 4 children

Laaksonen, Lauri Johannes Alikersantti
B. 08.08.1906 Vähäkyrö D. 12.07.1941 Välivaara, Kitee Age 34
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 5. komppania
KIA , buried in Vaasa, Vähäkyrö
Farmer 1 child

Laaksonen, Tuomas Vilhelm Sotamies
B. 28.09.1905 Vähäkyrö D.12.07.1941 Välivaara, Kitee Age 35
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 5. komppania
KIA , buried in Vaasa, Vähäkyrö
Farmhand 1 child

Lehtola, Eino Iisakki Sotamies
21.08.1914 Vähäkyrö 12.07.1941 Välivaara, Kitee Age 26
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 5. komppania
KIA , buried in Vaasa, Vähänkyrön sankarihautausmaa
Farmer No children

Luomarinta, Pekka Olavi Alikersantti
02.02.1915 Laihia 13.07.1941 Välivaara, Kitee Age 26
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 2. konekiväärikomppania
KIA , buried in Laihia
Farmer 1 child

Nekkonen, Andrei Sotamies 10.10.1904 Suojärvi 13.07.1941 Välivaara, Kitee Age 36
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 4. komppania KIA
Farmer No children

Niemi, Matti Valter Sotamies 22.06.1915 Alahärmä 13.07.1941 Kitee Age 26
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, Tykkikomppania
KIA , buried in Kauhava, Alahärmä
Farmer No children

Nuuja, Juho Evald Sotamies
25.07.1900 Isokyrö 13.07.1941 Kuivasmäen kukkula, Kitee Age 40
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 5. komppania
KIA , buried in Isokyrö, Isonkyrön kirkkohautausmaa, sankarihauta-alue
Farmer No children

Ollila, Tauno Kalevi Sotamies
08.03.1917 Isokyrö 13.07.1941 Kuivasmäen kukkula, Kitee Age 24
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 4. komppania
KIA , buried in Isokyrö
Farmer No children

Patrikainen, Niilo Alikersantti
09.12.1913 Suistamo 13.07.1941 Kuivasmäen kukkula, Kitee Age 27
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 4. komppania KIA ,
Farmer No children

Primietta, Johannes Sotamies
29.08.1918 Suistamo 13.07.1941 Välivaara, Kitee Age 22
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 2. konekiväärikomppania KIA ,
Carpenter, No children

Rantala, Olavi Aukusti Korpraali
03.02.1914 Isokyrö 13.07.1941 Kuivasmäen kukkula, Kitee Age 27
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 4. komppania
KIA , buried in Isokyrö
Farmer No children

Rinta, Eino Vilhelmi Sotamies
24.01.1906 Vähäkyrö 12.07.1941 Kitee Age 35
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 5. komppania
KIA , buried in Vähäkyrö
Farmer 3 children

Rintapukka, Uuno Mikael Sotamies
14.12.1903 Laihia 13.07.1941 Välivaara, Kitee Age 37
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 2. konekiväärikomppania
KIA , buried in Laihia
Farmer 5 children

Ristilä, Armas Sakari Kersantti
10.05.1914 Laihia 12.07.1941 Kitee Age 27
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 6. komppania
KIA , buried in Laihia
Civil Guard NCO No children

Saarela, Martti Oskari Sotamies
04.09.1908 Vähäkyrö 12.07.1941 Välivaara, Kitee Age 32
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 5. komppania
KIA , buried in Vaasa, Vähäkyrö
Shopkeeper 3 children

Saari, Jaakko Vihtori Sotamies
10.02.1917 Laihia 13.07.1941 Kuivasmäen kukkula, Kitee Age 24
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 4. komppania
KIA , buried in Isokyrö
Worker No children

Salmi, Vilho Johannes Sotamies
28.09.1905 Isokyrö 13.07.1941 Kuivasmäen kukkula, Kitee Age 35
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 4. komppania
KIA , buried in Isokyrö
Worker No children

Sidoroff, Petter Sotamies
26.06.1904 Suojärvi 13.07.1941 Kuivasmäen kukkula, Kitee Age 37
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 4. komppania KIA
Worker 5 children

Simojoki (ent. Simelius), Kaarlo Juho Mikael Luutnantti
05.03.1913 Muhos 12.07.1941 Välivaara, Kitee Age 28
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 5. komppania
KIA , buried in Isokyrö
Theology student No children

Syrjä, Juho Antti/Anders Sotamies
24.03.1909 Isokyrö 13.07.1941 Kuivasmäen kukkula, Kitee Age 32
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 4. komppania
KIA , buried in Isokyrö
Stonemason 2 children

Talso, Viljo Ilmari Vänrikki
09.09.1914 Isokyrö 13.07.1941 Kuivasmäen kukkula, Kitee Age 26
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 4. komppania
KIA , buried in Isokyrö
Farmer No children

Tekoniemi, Toivo Ilmari Sotamies
25.04.1912 Jalasjärvi 12.07.1941 Välivaara, Kitee Age 29
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 5. komppania
KIA , buried in Vaasa, Vähäkyrö
Farmer 2

Titola, Pauli Sotamies 23.12.1902 13.07.1941 Kitee Age 38
Jalkaväkirykmentti Age 37
KIA , buried in Kauhava, Alahärmän sankarihautausmaa
Shopkeeper No children

Viita, Helge Matias/Matti Sotamies
12.03.1917 Isokyrö 13.07.1941 Kuivasmäen kukkula, Kitee Age 24
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 2. konekiväärikomppania
KIA , buried in Isokyrö
Worker No children

Vikla, Konsta Sotamies
27.05.1911 Suistamo 13.07.1941 Kuivasmäen kukkula, Kitee Age 30
Jalkaväkirykmentti 37, 4. komppania , KIA
Farmer 3 children
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