Hosted by Juha Tompuri
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- Location: Finland
Author, war veteran Reino Lehväslaiho has deceased. His publisher has confirmed the sad news.
-We received the news in Tuesday morning from Seinäjoki from reliable sources, the spokesperson of WSOY Company confirms.
Reino Lehväslaiho was born on 13.April 1922 in what is Akaa-Toijala today. His military rank was “vääpeli” (W/O or Staff Sergeant) and he was decorated as “anti-tank ace”. The decoration was granted to soldiers who have five confirmed enemy tank kills. Lehväslaiho had scored seven.
He joined the Winter war as a 17 year old volunteer with his pals. He also fought in the Continuation War and the Lapland war. He was wounded three times. He participated in the battles at Tali-Ihantala. He was decorated several times.
After the war Lehväslaiho was working as clerk and sailor, but mostly he was a war author. He has written a total of 45 novels, being one of the most productive authors of Finland. His last published works is from the year 2012.
Reino Lehväslaiho died in his hometown Seinäjoki at an age of 96 years.
An earlier interview shall be published in this website later.
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- Joined: 25 Jun 2007 11:17
- Location: Finland
Armour counter-attacks at Tali 1944
Journal “Kansa Taisteli “ 08, 1967
IT was June on the Carelian Isthmus in 1944. It was a beautiful Finnish summer, about midsummer but the Red Army was invading with unprecedented force, rolling their troops that had been accustomed to victory over the land.
At Tali the front line was situated on the isthmus between Suomenvedenpohja and Lake Leitimojärvi. South of Konkkalanvuoret hills were placed the 3./Ps.Pr “heavy ” tanks, comprising T-28s and T-34s . They were transferred in the Midsummer day evening to the W side of the Saimaa canal at Juustila, to the terrain of Rautakorpi .
The next morning we were having breakfast. Some of us were sitting on top of the tanks while the others were next to the tents, all spooning porridge,”assault broth” out of field kettles. We could hear the rumble of the enemy artillery, resembling thunder. Bomber squadrons were dumping their loads and the earth trembled. Ground attack planes were strafing at treetop height and fast fighter planes were spitting fire and steel. Black thick smoke was drifting in the wind. The Isthmus was in flames.
The infantry is coping on their own, I guess?
We have been given a longer break, methinks.
Never mind, listen to the rumble, they shall be soon coming again.
I can hear it all right.
Then shut up about the break.
The men stopped eating as they heard the noise of an approaching motor cycle, spoons were stopped in mid-way between field kettles and mouths, the men just listened. They breathed deeper as the noise of the motor cycle approached. Someone by accident clinked his spoon against his field kettle and the men were released.
-Finish your porridge soonest possible, this means we shall be out of here ! It was an old Corporal speaking. The dispatch rider swung his arm at a distance, that meant that there was going to be action. The men tapped their field kettles on tree trunks and soon rallied into a kind of formation.
Maj. Mikkola , the Battalion CO, gave a briefing and issued an order:
- The front line has broken and heavy enemy tanks have broken through. The Company shall destroy these tanks!
The Company was made up of three war booty T-34, one T-50 and one slow KV-1. There were no questions about the number of adversaries, that had never been asked. The men ran to the tanks, dropped their bread pouches down the hatch and dumped their overcoats in, too. The crews sat down on their positions and had a look around: Everything OK. 3” ammunition were gleaming in the racks and the SMG mags were clean and in their storage places.
The tanks were started and immediately they headed for Juustila at the Saimaa Canal. The Battalion CO was present in his T-50, he took the Company under his command.
Sgt. Matti Virtanen accelerated his tank and took the lead. At full speed the Canal was reached. They passed oncoming sweaty men who were running to the rear with their last strength, with faces marked by horror.
Someone must have scared them.
It is not someone, it is Private Russian, just stay alert there in your turret.
The leading tank crossed the floating bridge, then the hatches were shut and the tanks started advancing down the road to Portinhoikka. The tank loader seat was occupied by 2nd Lt Erkki Teppo, and the gunner was the undersigned, a Reserve Sergeant.
We had driven one kilometre as we saw a wrecked lorry by the roadside. We ran there to take a look. We found that it had not been destroyed by a shell but it had been crushed by a tank. The lorry was flat and there were marks of wide tracks on the road. For a while we stood cursing and pondering how could the enemy have been that deep in the rear. The distance to the front line was eight kilometre at that spot. We had a serious look down the road. We jumped back in the tank and started off again.
At three hundred meters there was a bend in the road. The gunner leaned his brow on the sighting scope pad so that his eyes were smarting.
- Slow down a bit in the bend, you never know who may be there.
Virtanen grumbled and shifted down a notch.
The distance to the bend was one hundred meters as a long barreled T-34 emerged at its best speed.
It is one of ours, the driver yelled.
The Gunner swore, disagreeing. Although the tank was still moving the Sergeant stepped on the foot trigger. Simultaneously Virtanen pulled the side clutches back. The tank stopped so fast that the two men in the turret almost fell down from their seats. The shell cut off the track of the enemy tank. It was swung around by inertia, there was a big white number and a red star on the turret. The Sergeant sent quickly three shells in succession, every one was a hit.
The men in the turret stopped breathing because the last cartouche case was stuck in the gun chamber and the bows of two enemy tanks were seen at the bend of the road. In one second the Gunner burst in sweat. There was no thinking as the hands were working. He tried to apply the case extractor but it fell down on the tank bottom. IT was followed by a hammer and a screwdriver. The numb hands were bleeding having hit sharp protruding nuts. The case did not budge. The Sergeant flung the last screwdriver on the turret bottom with such force that he could be seen on the edge. Then he jumped out of the turret next to the tank, removed the gun cleaning rod fastened to the mudguard with pieces of wire and rammed it down the gun barrel. The case was released with a clink as it fell down. The rod was pulled out in one swoop and left behind on the road. The Sergeant jumped back on his seat, perspiration was smarting his eyes.
G*d damn to hell why did that have to happen just now.
The Sergeant fired fast as if to release his anxiety by shooting. Now more shells fired from the rear were hitting the bend of the road. Finally the other tanks were coming. One enemy T-34 was abandoned on the road, there was no other movement. The two others managed to get in cover behind the road bend.
The Sergeant leaned on the brow pad, panting. The Major rode in his tank next to the leading tank. He saluted as a sign of approval. The Sergeant also touched the side of his head although he had lost his headgear a couple of weeks ago at Kivennapa.
Order was issued:
- Forward !
We were quiet because we knew that in this kind of situation the leading tank shall almost in every case be knocked out if there are tanks to meet the attacker. For a while one thought about the year -42 as we were rushing ahead with hot engines and mark the bends of the muddy Eastern Carelian roads with burning tanks. It was a conflict of machines, fire and steel and warriors who were decisive to the very end.
Now we found ourselves here and the war went on
The Lieut piled shells on his lap and the Sergeant blew his nose. Off we go. Deep breathing was the medicine against fear. Virtanen steered the tank off from the road to the right where there was a cart road. We continue some 50 m as there was a hiss at the driver's seat and a yell:
The gunner, failing to see the tank, just trees and bushes. He became nervous and for a while rude and powerful words were being employed in the tank:
Where the hell?
Right ahead. FIRE!
Finally the gunner spotted a dark shape on the left behind bushes. Quickly he placed the reticle on the spot, a shell was fired followed by another. Something was flying around behind the bushes and it seems it had been a hit. The smoke of explosions dissipated slowly, we saw that we had shot up a stack of firewood. At first we were laughing incredulously then rolling over. We patted each other in the back until we regained our breath.
If we tell about this it would be the joke of a lifetime.
Let us keep mum, they shall laugh anyway.
We returned to the road and received a stop signal.
What was it over there?
We aligned the gunsight, Sir.
A couple of men came with information: behind the bend there is a stretch of open ground and there are also six T-34s all aiming their cannons at the bend. We stopped to wait for our KV-1 that was slow in crossing the canal. The frontal armour of the KV-1 was enhanced. The tank was now to be the leader.
We were confused for a moment as men appeared from the forest to the road, with their hands up. Finnish infantrymen were surrendering to their own tankers. Those men had run their legs out and were shocked, barely able to stand. Initially they did not understand even though we told them that we are serving in the same army. Finally they realised that these T-34s were Finnish, although the enemy tanks were similar looking. The Battalion CO mustered the men in a line, but they were panicky and kept looking at the bend of the road.
Calm down already, they are not coming any more, you shall be alright. Just get your wind back and you shall be the escort to the tanks.
The panic started rising again, two of the men dropped their rifles. The sound of the KV-1 could be heard behind us and the escort men were briefed.
The cheeks of the KV-1 commander were glowing as he received orders to set out. For a moment he was looking at the destroyed T-34, then he closed the turret hatch and got going. Infantry spread on both sides of the road, some ran to the rear. The big tank advanced slowly on the left side of the road, turned on the bend. The very moment there were two huge phosphorous eye-blinding flashes on the bow of the tank. The KV was under enemy fire. The thick armour withstood but the impact was something that no one had experienced and survived. The periscopes and the sighting scope were so shaken that only sky was visible through them. The tankers were stunned. The driver backed the tank in the cover of the bend. Turret hatches were opened and the men dropped on the road. As soon as they had oriented themselves they started to stagger and run for the rear. Blood was oozing out of their ears and noses, there was panic in their eyes. It was not a moment for laughter but one could not watch them running without getting amused, they were going like drunken men.
The escorting infantrymen heard and saw the hits. Heather bushes were swinging as the men headed for the canal.
There was a moment of delay on the road. Virtanen drove to the leading position, the others followed us.
One hundred meters is a short distance on a map and why not on the road too. But when that one hundred meter stretch is defended but an enemy expert in weapons usage one hundred meters is a long distance. The tank advanced and the gunner was squeezing the aiming wheels with a dry mouth. Another merciless day of war for a soldier. The mental pressure was so great that a prayer was squeezed out between a pair of dry lips:
Food G*d, lend me a hand. If you are going to sweep, let it be a fast one!
The tank emerged from the turn and there was a stretch of open ground ahead. One T-34 found itself on the field, listing. The other one was on the road looking menacing. It was fired at and the shell pierced the hull below the turret. They did not retaliate. Later it was found that the enemy had abandoned both tanks
The advance continued and in the leading tank the men regained their confidence: we may survive!
They traversed the wide open ground, a dust cloud was showing where the T-43 was going. As they approached another bend the tank slowed down. On the right side of the road there was some alder bush and a rock, a Jaeger was kneeling behind the rock, gesticulating wildly. We drove in the bushes and the Jaeger explained:
Do not drive up the bend ! There is a father of all tanks in ambush. I never saw one such. It is like a barn and the gun is something terrible. One of the tracks is broken.
We set out equipped with SMG s and smoke grenades. We stumbled on for one hundred meters among rocks and then spotted the father of all tanks (IS-152) on the road. The six inch cannon was aimed at the bend of the road. We sneaked closer, lashed two smoke grenades together with a piece of phone cable. The throw was a success, the smoke grenades were now dangling at the base of the gun barrel. We ducked our faces in the turf because hand grenades were thrown out of the tank and SMG fire rattled. The smoke did not appear to have any influence of the men in the tank. We kept waiting and looking at the Portinhoikka crossroads. There were three enemy T-34s on the road. Intense firing could be heard from the direction of the Ihantala-Imatra road.
The Sergeants were on the ditch next to the tank, the Lieut and a couple of HQ officers in another. The officers threw more smoke grenades under the tank. There was coughing in the tank, the smoke was getting denser. The Sergeant threw a fist size stone at the tank side, it was retaliated with SMG fire. For a while the ditch was a nasty place to be in. The very same moment the tank top hatch was flung open. The enemies jumped on the road, firing wildly all around. The exhortations to surrender they acknowledged with fire. For a moment SMG fire bursts were fired at opposite directions at a range of a few meters. The enemy soldiers fell where they were standing. There was no rejoicing although a tank had been captured. Quietly we carried the dead next to the road. Soon well informed men arrived, explaining us what we should have done. The Sergeants turned their backs. There was incoming fire from several directions. The driver climbed in the enemy T-34 for a moment, then he got out in the ditch and the same moment the tank burst into flames. A T-34 had been observing the situation and now knocked out the abandoned tank.
The Sergeants returned to the captured assault gun and there was a chorus explaining that this one was just captured, the problem was the broken track. The Sergeants were annoyed by the banter. After half an hour's work they ´had fixed the track. General Lagus had already sent an order to bring the assault gun to his command post. We managed to evacuate a big sack full of American meat tins from the tank before that.
Jaegers came marching in double file for Portinhoikka, and three StuGs started on for the Tali bridge.
Hours passed, and we were listening the sounds of battle. We set out to follow the StuGs. Konkkalanvuoret hills were fired at with our guns for a while and some POWs came on the road. The StuGs and Jaegers were seen far out on the open ground
The T-34 was ordered to take the lead. Virtanen accelerated the tank downhill. On the road there were a lot of tanks knocked out by the StuGs. It was a real and bloody war road. The T-34 stopped. Two of our StuGs were in the front and one behind them. We would have loved to park the tank by the road but we didn't because the StuGs stayed on the road. There was nothing to be seen in the terrain ahead of us although we were watching with hurting eyes.
The T-34 advanced by the side of the other StuG. At the same moment a loud explosion was heard on the right and there was a ten meter flash of phosphorus on the bow of the StuG. We saw that the roof armour had collapsed: it had been hit by a six inch shell. Now we were afraid because we found ourselves on open ground. We advanced to the level of the leading StuG and took a glance to the rear.
Two men dropped out of the knocked out StuG, remaining there. A Sr. Sergeant bounced up in the leading StuG and beckoned with his arm. At the same moment we spotted a darker shape in the forest. The StuG fired and the T-34 accompanied. There was a flash in the forest: an enemy T-34 was in flames. The StuG fired again and the T-34 fired at the same target. There was a heavy assault gun in the cross-hairs. It was easily visible in the light of the flames of the burning T-34. It managed to get near the ditch until its tracks were broken. We kept firing fir a while but the tank did not catch fire. With taut nerves we observed the forest but since we saw nothing we returned to our knocked out StuG. There was a paramedic bandaging the wounded, both of them unconscious. The inside of the StuG was a mess and a dead Artillery F.O.O. Lieutenant was lying on the bottom.
Having received orders to pull back we had a break at Kyöpelinvuori and argued with the ammo men about the spent cases. During the battle a meter high layer of them had accumulated on the bottom of the tank and we had dumped them at the Tali road. (They should have been recycled, tr.rem.). We serviced the tank and carried out some minor counter-strikes. We were dirty and tired, the continuous rumbling was dazing us.
Every tank company was engaged in hard fighting. Every day tanks and men were lost from the ranks. Counterstrike after counterstrike, time an again. The survivors summoned their energy to fulfil the orders, in their thoughts sure that even veteran tankers would meet their end in these battles. The tankers fought their war hard and merciless to themselves. There were no deserters in these companies. Young men stepped in to replace the lost ones and the war went on. We would manage to advance one kilometre and then retreat two. More ammunition and fuel, and we were again ready to attack. Everything was unimportant. The men would talk ever less. When action orders were given they sat on their seats, drove to the front and fired until the barrels were hot, that was the tankers' job. We would fall asleep next to our tanks but soon there was someone shouting: “Counterstrike, get up!”
Fatigue was oppressive but there was no time to sleep. Someone would poke the half-sleeping men: “Sotkas (=T-34 nickname) to counterstrike!” The despatch rider did not laugh any more when he saw the tired men. The Portinhoikka crossroads was under constant shelling: We knew that we were going there once again.
Our stiff limbs were soon stretched as we jumped in the tanks. Overstimulated nerves made our blood circulate. We set off. On the Viipuri road there were two StuGs firing at the Konkkalanvuoret hills. Virtanen steered our tank in the cover of a small sand pit and we joined the firing. Shells were not spared. With earnest mien we kept looking to the direction of the Ihantala road. The small patches of forest near the road disappeared, flashes of blasts rose high and and the terrain was covered by smoke. There were trees flung in the air among the flashes. The nearest patch of forest was some 50m off and it was also shelled, the trees were dug up and thrown down. As the smoke of an explosion front was rolling at us we started advancing quickly. We were driving in a cloud of smoke and gravel. Glancing back we saw that the sand pit was boiling with shell hits. There was a constant flashing on the open ground.
We fired once and then dashed at full speed to the rock cut of the Konkkalanvuoret hills. We fired to the right and to the left, at the hillside. The enemy withdrew for a while. The Sergeant shot up an AT gun abandoned by its crew, a lorry and a gun tractor.
The cool-headed enemies appeared again on both sides of the road. They were trying to advance by the strength of their number and energy to the direction of Murokallio. Firing mesmerized the tank crew. The gunner dimly sensed that the gun breech block clunked and the same moment the gun went off. The Lieut kept shoving shells in the gun breech quickly and without talking. No words, no orders were needed. The Lieut piled the shells on his lap to be able to load them faster. In the meanwhile the Sergeant emptied the LMG magazine.
Hot spent cases were clinking at their feet, there was blue smoke swirling in the turret, the men's eyes were smarting and their mouths were dry. If any of the enemies made it past the shelling his dash was ended by a burst of LMG fire. There was a continuous rattle going on. The enemy was being taken on by the merciless fire of the tanks.
The shells were used up and the Lieut left to get resupply. Some enemies ran across the road and more were coming down the ridge side. The Sergeant felt tired, he inserted a mag in the SMG and opened the turret hatch.
Come and get it you -!
At the same time he threw a two kilo satchel charge over the ditch. The explosion tore the bushes. The Sergeant rose up from the hatch. He fired the first magazine in short salvoes but the other one he fired in one go. The radio operator swapped the weapons. The gunner saw how enemies collapsed in the SMG fire on the hill. The weapon turned hot but the Sergeant kept firing. He found himself in a sort of fog. He was not thinking of the Fatherland, neither his home nor G*d. Clenching his teeth, with a pale face he just kept firing, oblivious of time and place. There was only a soldier and a rattling weapon. The Sergeant was standing and the SMG kept going.
Then the gunner's head jerked violently, he lost grip of the weapon and he fell down the turret.
Oh migod! It was the driver, he saw that the Gunner's face was bloodied. An explosive rifle bullet had hit him. The Sergeant was conscious but unable to speak. He ripped open his first aid bandage but the radio operator's hands were shaking and it fell down to the dirt on the tank floor. He found another and wrapped it around his head but it was no good, a one meter strip. Blood was dripping on his chest. The Sergeant grabbed the SMG from the floor of the turret and squeezed hard the hand of the driver for a moment. Then he climbed slowly up the turret, like a drunken man, pushed the SMG out of the hatch and looked out. He then rolled over on the rear deck of the tank, then dived in the ditch for cover.
For a moment the Gunner Sergeant stayed as he had fallen in the ditch. The SMG was next to him on the edge of the ditch. Slowly the Sergeant rose on his knees, his left hand turned red with blood and his head nodded on his chest. He grabbed the SMG and put the sling over his neck and stood up. His legs did not hold, he stumbled on the edge of the ditch and rolled down in it. His face was embedded in the blue clay on the bottom of the ditch. An enemy LMG was firing angrily from the ridge and the burst kicked up dirt that landed on the gunner's leather jacket. Then merciful loss of consciousness hit the soldier.
At long last the radio operator managed to contact the rear and the Battalion CO set out with his tank to the front line. The Lieut was the first one to reach the wounded man and tried to bandage him but he did not have enough bandages. The Major arrived, the Sergeant was again conscious enough.
-Well done, Sergeant!
The Major's broad hand slapped the Sergeant's shoulder. A stretcher had been found, and the wounded man was hoisted on the bow of the T-50 and the return journey started. The roar of battle dominated the surroundings, dirt and pebbles were raining on the Sergeant. He did not feel any of it.
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07.00hrs Reveille. Tanks and weapons maintenance
18.00hrs Company addressed by the CO. A Close-range AT platoon was set up. The Panzerschreck was introduced, and the lesson was provided by a couple of Infantry Battalion officers.
22.00hrs Briefing by Capt. Mikkola. We shall move from the Rapatti crossroads some 500 to 600 m North.
23.00hrs Set out. At midnight we were at the objective. We were accommodated in tents. Complete alert readiness. Our artillery was firing quite a lot. The enemy is quiet.
00.40hrs Coy CO, Platoon CO s and tank commanders were in terrain recon, in the N part of Viipuri opposite to Sorvali. The front is calm. Russki is probably preparing to attack to cross the strait.
07.00hrs Reveille and morning tea.
07.00hrs Coy CO and Platoon CO s were in terrain recon in the same place. Capt. Mikkola (=Coy CO) has personally liaised with the Btn. CO Maj. Kiviperä who has planned to use the armour as follows.
The tanks shall be placed in the focal point that most likely will be the left side of the main road from here (Rapatti). Tanks to the direction of the coastal road – the Jaegers to support (riding on tanks) unless shelling makes that impossible.
Our artillery is shooting somewhat. Enemy is remarkably quiet.
11.30hrs Alert. Report from the front line. The Russki has managed to cross the strait. We drove the tanks to the road but then there was the news that the Russki has been beaten back. The tanks were driven back in the forest. Standby continues.
20.20hrs Alert. We shall move via Juustila to the SW side of lake Leitimonjärvi. Marching order: T-34s, T-28s,KV-1
21.00hrs We arrived at Juustila. The leading tank, 2nd Lt. Teppo, broke the bridge at Juustila and sunk. The crew survived.
Gen. Lagus and Col. Björkman arrived to the scene. A pontoon bridge construction was started by the Sappers.
00.30hrs Briefing by Capt. Mikkola. The entire Battalion shall move to the terrain of lake Leitimojärvi.
01.40hrs We left Juustila and drove 3 to 4 km before stopping.
07.20hrs We started off to the terrain of Leitimojärvi. KV-1, T-34 and one T-28 were placed in defensive position at the edge of the forest N of Leitimojärvi, on both sides of the road. Two T-28 about 800 to 1000m behind them.
Mutual artillery action.
Enemy aviation active, as many as 70 bombers have comprised one formation supported by fighters. Ground attack planes are patrolling the roads.
Tanker Nieminen J. fell.
Tankers Myllylmäki and Heikkilä wounded.
All night lively mutual artillery action. 6” shells hit our positions. Aviation activities less due to rain.
In the morning wounded were W/O Penttilä and Sr.Sgt. Pirttiniemi.
09.30hrs 2nd Lt Hirvonen was assigned to take the duties of Sr.Sgr. Pirttiniemi.
20.00hrs The 1st Coy of the StuG Battalion took over our positions and we drove some 7 km from the Rapatti crossroads to the direction of Juustila where the I Battalion supply is situated. We were accommodated in tents once there.
Rainy weather. Enemy shells landing in our camp area every now and then.
Tuomoja's T-28 “101” was broken down, the gear shift peg broken.
07.00hrs Reveille. Morning tea.
Tank maintenance. Tuomioja´s T-28 sent to the repair depot at Mäkelä.
10.00hrs Capt. Horta assigned as the Coy CO, Maj. Mikkola was transferred to the StuGs.
13.40hrs Alert. Russian tanks are in the terrain of the road crossing of Leitimojärvi and Portinhoikka roads.
13.50hrs The KV-1, T-34s, T-28s and the T-50 set out.
14.20hrs 2nd Lt. Teppo's tank engaged an enemy T-34 (with long barreled gun). 9 hits in the engine department and the tank remained on the road (Pt. 41 on the Juustila map ).
21.00hrs In the evening by 2100hrs we received reinforcements from the JR (Jaeger Regiment) and StuGs and launched an attack to the direction of Tali. Jaeger Battalions attacked on both sides of the road. Positions on the S side of Leitimojärvi. We did not continue the advance.
Heavy exchange of fire all night. A total of 14 Russki tanks were knocked out (By StuGs and T-34s). Some of them were in running order and in usable condition after some repairs. A couple of them are equipped with a 6” gun.
Enemy artillery action lively, air action minimal.
11.00hrs We returned from the Leitimojärvi terrain some 4 to 5 km to the direction of Juustila, we drove the tanks in the forest.
16.15hrs Order to move on to Portinhoikka terrain received. There is Russki infantry in the terrain of the four roads crossroads.
17.00hrs Maj. Hynninen's troops attacked supported by tanks in the terrain SW of Leitimojärvi. The Tanks remained there in defence and the Jaeger Battalion on both sides of the road. Tu0omoja's T-28 took hits from an AT rifle. The KV hit one of our mines, one track broken off.
Sr.Sgt. Sipilä was wounded.
20.15hrs Russki observation balloon above Viipuri.
22.40hrs The tanks moved to the terrain of the four roads crossroads.
23.00hrs Ojasivu's T-28 set out for repairs to the Mäkelä workshop. The steering wheel axle is bent. Ojansivu with the tank. Cpl. Vestegren was assigned as the gunner of Teppo's T-34. Tanker Kaski was assigned as the Runner for Capt. Hosta (?), Tanker Silanterä as the LMG gunner of T-34 and Tanker Virtanen in the crew of T-28 and 2nd Lt. Hirvonen to replace Sr.Sgt. Sipilä as the commander of the KV-1.
Russki observation balloon & planes airborne. Shells are landing in our camp.
One T-34 shifted to the Leitimojärvi terrain.
06.15hrs Alert. T-34s were shifted 5 km to the direction of Juustila. Accommodation in tents.
One war booty T-34 has been repaired.
14.50hrs The KV-1 and Lt. Hietanen's T-28 were sent to the same location.
In the evening weapons maintenance and sauna bath.
Sgt. Matson's T34 gun barrel damaged by enemy fire.
Enemy air activities are intense. Clear weather. Our camp bombarded AM.
Cpl. Maskula fell
Sr.Sgt. Sinkola wounded
Tanker Syrjäläinen wounded
A T-34 was returned from Varkaus (=Central Tank depot), the Coy CO assigned it as his command tank.
14.00hrs Capt. Toivonen was assigned as the driver of the war booty tank.
06.30hrs The 6” assault gun moved to the terrain of Koikkala on the lake isthmus. The tank commander was Lt. Hietanen. The tank took 5 hits as soon as it had arrived and caught fire. The crew was saved, Tanker Virtanen was hit by a splinter in his upper lip.
08.30hrs Alert. The KV-1 and a T-28 (Sgt. Juurila) were shifted, some distance to Juustila from the four roads crossroads. We are waiting for further orders there.
There are two StuGs on the lake isthmus at Konkkala. Advance has been stopped. There is a lot of enemy infantry. There are few of our men and the enemy AT weapons are dangerous.
12.30hrs The enemy gave a barrage at the four roads crossroads. Immediately after that a couple of T-34s appeared from Konkkala. The StuGs fired, one T-28 and the KV-1 drove into positions whereby the KV-1 took a hit in a track wheel that came loose. The KV-1 moved into another position where they could command well the road from Konkkala. A StuG immobilized one Russki T-34 and the KV-1 shot it in flames.
16.00hrs The StuG pulled back from the Leitimojärvi terrain and the ones at the four roads crossroads withdrew to replenish their ammunition. Since the T-28 was damaged the KV-1 remained alone. It fired at the enemy that was moving about on the Konkkala road and roadsides.
15.00hrs The StuGs returned and the KV-1 and the T-28 returned to have a rest at the Rapattila road terrain.
22.00hrs The KV-1 and the T-28 drove to the repair depot at Mäkelä .
Aerial activities are lively. More than 200 enemy planes flew over our camp area in a short time.
Transferred to the 1st Coy: Tanker Hulkko and to the 2nd Coy Tanker Tukiainen.
Reveille. Morning tea.
All day tank maintenance and weapons cleaning & maintenance. Petrol replenished.
Lively air activities. Clear weather.
Posted to the 1st Coy Cpl. Seppälä, Tanker Koskela, Tanker Halla P, to the 6th Coy Cpl Lehtinen B, Pfc. Ekström L and tanker Remes U.
(In the margin: Checked 30.6.44 Maj. H.Mikkola)