Information about Kiestinki

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Torsharg
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Information about Kiestinki

Post by Torsharg » 31 Dec 2017 12:32

Hi! Im going to do a school assignment in April about the battle of Kiestinki. And I would need some good sources about the course of battle,which units that fought there. And the military commanders. Thanks in advance! :)

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Re: Information about Kiestinki

Post by Lotvonen » 07 Jan 2018 12:27

Since you have not received any comments here is my 02cts worth .
Finnish Wikipedia :

The battle of Kiestinki was one of the largest in the Northern front during the Continuation War . Largest single battles were fought 1941-1942 and positional warfare continued until autumn 1944.

Kiestinki Front was in charge of Gen.Maj Hj. Siilasvuo and his III AC. The AC had been subjected to the German Norway Army – AOK Norwegen. In Jan. 1942 the German Lapland Army, AOK Lappland was set up. The commander was Generaloberst Eduard Dietl and the CP in Kursunkijärvi, Rovaniemi.

1941 battles
AOK Norwegen CO Generaloberst Nikolaus von Falkenhorst and Gen. Siilasvuo organized an attack, camouflaged as getting better positions, to cut off the Murmansk railway. The offensive started in early Nov . By end Oct 41 USA had sent a note to Finland requesting to cease the attack. Mannerheim sent a request to AOK Norwegen to stop the offensive, referring to the reorganization of the Finnish Army.
OKW had already ordered AOK Norwegen to set up defensive positions in all fronts. When OKW had received a copy of Mannerheim's request they demanded a report of the AOK Norwegen on their plans.
The offensive (in Kiestinki) was marked by the different opinions of the generals on the operation, and Von Falkenhorst ordered the attack to be stopped on 17. Nov. The idea to cut the important Allied supply route, the Murmansk railway, was abandoned and 3.AC set up defensive positions.

On 1. July 1941 Detachment J, led by Col.Lt. Jussi Turtola, comprising mainly JR53, started their attack that reached the Sohnaja river line on 11 July. Starting 17 July, German outfits were subjected to Detachment J. Kiestinki was taken by 8. Aug. The offensive continued. German troops were trying to advance for Louhi (situated at the Murmansk rwy) along the road. They met tough resistance and the offensive did not proceed.
Detachment J however, situated a little to the South, advanced along a railway line without meeting resistance and managed to get closer to Louhi than the Germans. Counter-attacking Soviet 88.D. Surrounded on 20 Aug thousands of Finnish and German soldiers at Kapustnaja river. This was the Kiestinki motti ( “Kessel”) that was abandoned early September by retreating through swamps. Jussi Turtola , The CO of JR53, found his fate there.
Spring 1942
During spring 1942 there had been indications of the coming offensive of the Soviet 26. AC that is called in the Finnish literature as “Rasputitsa battles”. At the end of March the field stronghold at Jelettijärvi was heavily attacked. The surrounding attack was launched by the enemy on early 24 April on a 15 km wide front. In the southern flank Finnish Division J and SS Division Nord repelled the attack.
North of the front held by Germans the isthmus between lakes Ylä-Mustajärvi and Jelettijärvi was held by field strongholds only. Soviet sapper battalions had constructed during the spring a supply road to that direction. Using that the Soviet 23. Guards Division attacked through the lake isthmus and struck in the German rear.
The counter-attack was started by IV/11.Br (Finnish) to cut off the enemy supply. During the attack every officer of the IV Btn became casualties when a shell hit their group during briefing. The counter-attack petered out due to overwhelming enemy.
The enemy attack was strengthened by 186. Division and two detached brigades that tried to cut the road connection to West of Kiestinki and surround the entire front section. Both Finnish and German reinforcements arrived early May. The fighting was culminated on 5 to 6 May NW of the crossroads at Kiestinki. Enemy IR 238 and 8. Ski Brigade, the spearhead of the attack, were surrounded and mostly wiped out.
For counter-attack another 6 battalions were available, among them I/JR12 and I/JR53 and Btn Salzer/Gebirgsjaeger-R 139. Finnish task forces were led by Alb. Puroma and Alb. Ravila. The German task forces were Kräutler and Boysen. SS-Div. Nord supported the attack on their flank.
The strong enemy delaying positions were hit by artillery, tanks and Stukas that attacked supply columns. The retreating Soviet troops could not be surrounded fully. Pursuit was stopped finally on 23 May at the same lake isthmus where the battles had started, in strong defensive positions.

After the battle the IIIAC reported having warded off a total of 175 enemy attacks comprising one battalion or more troops. 15000 Red army soldiers were counted as KIA on the battlefield. Finnish KIA numbered 170 and Germans 248.


You can see that there are two different battles in Kiestinki.
You also get some names of the units and commanders.

As to sources - well, you should be able to read Finnish. Something could be found in German, too.
Ler me know if I can help you in any specific way. Good luck !

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Tom Houlihan
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Re: Information about Kiestinki

Post by Tom Houlihan » 07 Jan 2018 16:53

There's actually a lot about Kiestinki in here:
https://forum.axishistory.com/search.ph ... =kiestinki

Or, the Finnish spelling:
https://forum.axishistory.com/search.ph ... s=kestenga

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Torsharg
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Re: Information about Kiestinki

Post by Torsharg » 01 Feb 2018 10:44

Thank you!

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tramonte
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Re: Information about Kiestinki

Post by tramonte » 29 Feb 2020 16:03

Lotvonen wrote:
07 Jan 2018 12:27
Since you have not received any comments here is my 02cts worth .
Finnish Wikipedia :

The battle of Kiestinki was one of the largest in the Northern front during the Continuation War . Largest single battles were fought 1941-1942 and positional warfare continued until autumn 1944.


After the battle the IIIAC reported having warded off a total of 175 enemy attacks comprising one battalion or more troops. 15000 Red army soldiers were counted as KIA on the battlefield. Finnish KIA numbered 170 and Germans 248.


You can see that there are two different battles in Kiestinki.
You also get some names of the units and commanders.

As to sources - well, you should be able to read Finnish. Something could be found in German, too.
Ler me know if I can help you in any specific way. Good luck !
According Soviet sources losses were during April and May 1942:

Soviet 26th Army of Karelian Front: 7,077 KIA and DOWs during evacuation, 2,981 MIA and 11,801 WIA. I guess last number suggesting those wounded evacuated and not deceased during evacuation. Total: 21,859

Documents of Finnish III AK (Army Corps): 293 KIA and 1,393 WIA, total 1,686 ( those unites taking part of battle of Kiestinki)

SS Nord Division: 390 KIA, 1,945 WIA, total 2,335

On the other hand no idea of losses of other German units.

There are also details of losses of some units of 23th Army during April-May 1942:

- 67th Brigade: 314 KIA or MIA
- 80 th Brigade: 662 KIA or MIA
- 8th Sk Brigade: 343 KIA or MIA
"Military history is nothing but a tissue of fictions and legends, only a form of literary invention; reality counts for very little in such affair."

- Gaston de Pawlowski, Dans les rides du front

Art
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Re: Information about Kiestinki

Post by Art » 04 Mar 2020 20:07

tramonte wrote:
29 Feb 2020 16:03
According Soviet sources losses were during April and May 1942:
Soviet 26th Army of Karelian Front: 7,077 KIA and DOWs during evacuation, 2,981 MIA and 11,801 WIA. I guess last number suggesting those wounded evacuated and not deceased during evacuation. Total: 21,859
What are those sources exactly?
Karelian Front's records list:
1034 killed, 14 missing and captured, and 3806 wounded in April
2670 killed, 341 missing and captured, and 5902 wounded in May
also 896 killed, 1058 missing and 2102 wounded in 186 Rifle Division in May (reported directly to Karelian Front). Except wounded that doesn't seem to agree well.

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tramonte
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Re: Information about Kiestinki

Post by tramonte » 05 Mar 2020 20:20

Art wrote:
04 Mar 2020 20:07
tramonte wrote:
29 Feb 2020 16:03

What are those sources exactly?
Sorry Art. I missed to put the source: Vjatseslav Nikitin and he had used e.g TsAMO f.214 o.1437. These figures found in his book translated to Finnish: "Suomen Armeijan Venäläinen Perintö" ( " The Russian Legacy Of Finnish Army"). Translated by Mirko Harjula. According to book Nikitin has used also Red Army sources from study of 1943 made about battle in Kiestinki year before. I haven't red the book so i guess i have to get it.

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"Military history is nothing but a tissue of fictions and legends, only a form of literary invention; reality counts for very little in such affair."

- Gaston de Pawlowski, Dans les rides du front

Art
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Re: Information about Kiestinki

Post by Art » 07 Mar 2020 13:05

Thanks
tramonte wrote:
29 Feb 2020 16:03
- 67th Brigade: 314 KIA or MIA
- 80 th Brigade: 662 KIA or MIA
- 8th Sk Brigade: 343 KIA or MIA
There are almost exactly the numbers from the Karelian Front's losses tables. Namely:
67 Naval Rifle Brigade - 314 KIA in April-May
80 Naval Rifle Brigade - 367 killed, 296 missing
8 Ski Brigade - 323 killed, 24 missing and captured
Also
23 Guards Rifle Division - 1410 killed, 22 missing
263 Rifle Division - 1084 killed, 6 missing
186 Rifle Division - 907 killed, 1060 missing
They don't, however, add up to the sum quoted above (casualties of other units were small). Probably, that's overlap of information from different sources.

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tramonte
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Re: Information about Kiestinki

Post by tramonte » 08 Mar 2020 11:57

Art wrote:
07 Mar 2020 13:05

Also
23 Guards Rifle Division - 1410 killed, 22 missing
263 Rifle Division - 1084 killed, 6 missing
186 Rifle Division - 907 killed, 1060 missing
They don't, however, add up to the sum quoted above (casualties of other units were small). Probably, that's overlap of information from different sources.

I'll quote Nikitin:

"Karjalan tasavallan alueella vuosina 1941-1944 menehtyneiden isänmaan puolustajien tietokannassa on tietoja 4154 sotilaasta, jotka ovat kaatuneet 23., 186. ja 263.divisioonan riveissä 24.4-23.5.1942."

""The database of the homeland defenders who died in the territory of the Republic of Karelia between 1941 and 1944 contains information about 4154 soldiers who have died in the ranks of the 23rd, 186th and 263rd divisions from 24 April to 23 May 1942." "

This number 4154 is pretty near with official losses of 23 Guards Rifle, 263 Rifle and 186 rifle Divisions (3401 killed, 1088 MIA). Forces of III Corps captured total 676 soldiers, most of them likely from these three units. It's vital also to focus that those losses happened during period of 24.04-23.05.42.

Perhaps the only surprise here is that 23 Guards Rifle Division have taken heavier casualties than those two other when war diaries of III Corps are were estimating 263 Rifle and 186 Rifle Divisions to have taken heavier casualties than 23 Guards D. On the other hand i found it somehow questionable that especially 263 Rifle Division has only 6 MIA. What is pretty clear now is that III Corps highly exaggerated losses of 26th Army especially claims of KIA even when following numbers of Nikitin.

What Nikitin claimed surely wrong were losses of Finnish-German forces. With all studies total number of KIA Finnish soldiers have been 170 or maximum 190. I'm not sure of German losses but according Ari Rautio total losses of Germans in Kiestinki have been: 248 KIA and 1,239 WIA while those of Finns: 170 KIA and 903 WIA. These numbers found in report of commander of III Corps General Siilasvuo to Finnish HQ. I have personally checked database of Finnish soldiers deceased in Kiestinki and found names of 187-189 KIA related on area of Kiestinki or near it. So the claims of Nikitin of 293 KIA Finnish soldiers is not true. Total losses of III Corps 24 April - 23 May 1942 ~2,500 with error margin +/- not more than 50.

BTW the description of "killed" is somehow harmful, confusing and perhaps misleading. I prefer focusing numbers of KIA, WIA and MIA. After all it was not business of units to know what happened to their WIA soldiers when evacuated for medical treatment in field and military hospitals.
"Military history is nothing but a tissue of fictions and legends, only a form of literary invention; reality counts for very little in such affair."

- Gaston de Pawlowski, Dans les rides du front

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