Soviet-Finnish Winter War 1939-1940 (first three days)

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Octavianus
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Soviet-Finnish Winter War 1939-1940 (first three days)

Post by Octavianus » 26 Jun 2002 11:23

Ave populus,

Does anyone know any details about the crossing of the Soviet Red Army troops at Rajakoki, Joutselka, Lipola on November 30th respectively December 1st 1939. I am especially looking for any details about the small skirmishes at Palkeala, Terijoki and Usukirkko. Any help is appreciated. As always:-)

Thanks,

Octavianus

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Juha Hujanen
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Post by Juha Hujanen » 26 Jun 2002 16:31

I'll try to find something for tomorrow,after i check my bookshelf.Now i must repare myself for first episode of Band of Brothers in Finnish tv :D

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Juha Hujanen
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Post by Juha Hujanen » 27 Jun 2002 16:10

First three days of Winter War.

Guarding the border in Finnish side were 21600 men of protection/frontier guard units,with 71 guns/mortars and 29 anti tank guns.They were faced 120ooo men of the first wave of Russian 7th army with 900 guns/mortars and 1400 tanks.Main Russian attack was aimed to Terijoki(whitch offered best and shortest roads to Viipuri) and against Lipola.Finnish troops at frontier were not expected to stop the enemy but only delay it's advance and destroy houses(to deny from enemy a warm shelter),bridges etc.Troops fought well,althought sometimes they withrew too easily(because ill cordinated communication with other units and of course men were inexperienced to war) but Russian advance was slow and they were inexperienced too.2.12.39 two falce rumours (that Russians were beached to puumala and they had advanced to Sormula in main line)caused needless rethread from Vammelsuu.First skirmished had caused Russians some casualties but Mannerheim was less than satisfied,he had wanted more active defence at border but that would propably caused Finnish troops to be cut-off and simpy drown under Russian masses.

And now some details.

In Rajajoki was 2st and 1st frontier guard company and behind that jager battalion 1 in Terijoki.Finnish frontier guards shot couple of Russians and detonated railroad bridge in Rajajoki(about 10 Russians were defusing 300kg of tnt when it was detonated).1st company was under captain Erkki Paloheimo command.1st jaeger battalion stopped Russian advance in Matinmaki.That was first day of war in Rajajoki/Terijoki.

In lipola were 2th jaeger battalion.Russian marched in closed formation to Levonmaki base in Midle of Lipolan village.Finnish defenders thought that they were withrawing Finnish border unit and Russian stormed base with heavy fire and handgrenades.Crew of 2 Finnish mg were killed,little over 10 men.They were propably among first Finnish kia in Winter War.Heavy fire pinned Russians to base and they were unable to continue even 2 tanks came to reinforce.1.12 Russians gave harrashing artillery fire but in afternoon loud talk and movement indicated oncoming attack.With infantry fire support Russians attacked but Finnish artillery and mortar barrage stopped it to dead on tracks.Clearly barrage was surprise to them.2.12 Finns withrew from Lipola.

That's all i could scrape together.

Chears Juha.

Robert M Hammond
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Re: Soviet-Finnish Winter War 1939-1940 (first three days)

Post by Robert M Hammond » 27 Aug 2023 23:48

Dear Juha,

Hello from Southern California! Thank you for posting this information on the opening battle at Lipola. I have a few questions for you in regard to this battle at Lipola on 30 November 1939.

QUESTION #1: It appears it was the Soviet 90th Rifle Division which attacked here. Do you know if it was the 286th Rifle Regiment which led the attack?

QUESTION #2: Was it the 1st Co of the JP2 that defended Lipola?

QUESTION #3: Did the Jaegers have any anti-tank guns at Lipola? If yes, was it a 37mm or a 12.7mm?

QUESTION #4: It appears Russian aircraft attacked Lipola. Do you know what type of aircraft?

QUESTION #5: Were there any Finnish aircraft flying over Lipola on 30 November 1939?

QUESTION #6: How many and what type of Russian armored vehicles attacked Lipola on 30 November 1939?

FYI - There is a story of one of the American paratroopers in Band of Brothers. I do not remember the name of the soldier. During the flight, he started to laugh. Others in the plane questioned him as to why he was laughing. He stated that he knew his parachute was going to work perfectly. After he was asked how he knew this, he stated, "My mother's initials are on my parachute." His mother worked at the parachute factory and had sown and packed the parachute!

All the best,
Robert Hammond

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Re: Soviet-Finnish Winter War 1939-1940 (first three days)

Post by Mangrove » 28 Aug 2023 10:55

From Jääkäripataljoona 2's (JP 2) after-action report of the battles at and around Lipola between 30 November and 4 December 1939:
Robert M Hammond wrote:
27 Aug 2023 23:48
QUESTION #2: Was it the 1st Co of the JP2 that defended Lipola?
Units that participated in the battle:
[HQ of] JP 2, Lt. Col. J. Walldén
1./JP 2 [1st CO], Lt. E. Venho
2./JP 2 [2nd CO], Lt. O. Lindholm
3./JP 2 [3rd CO], Lt. T. Häkkinen
KKK/JP 2 [Machine gun CO], 2nd Lt. O. Liukkonen
Tyk.K/JP 2 [Mortar and anti-tank CO], H. Pokkinen

I platoon of Tyk.K/JP 2 was under the third company, II platoon under the second company and III platoon under the first company. Tyk.K / JP 2 and Tyk.K/Er.P 5 ["Separate Battalion 5"] formed Krh.K Pokkinen ["Mortar Company Pokkinen"] with two mortar and two anti-tank platoons.
Robert M Hammond wrote:
27 Aug 2023 23:48
QUESTION #5: Were there any Finnish aircraft flying over Lipola on 30 November 1939?
According to the war diaries of various Finnish squadrons, there were no Finnish Air Force missions to Lipola on 30 November 1939.
Robert M Hammond wrote:
27 Aug 2023 23:48
QUESTION #6: How many and what type of Russian armored vehicles attacked Lipola on 30 November 1939?
From the after-action report: "The first tanks, together with the infantry, appeared on 30 November at 8:30 a.m. in front of the defense lines of the Tullivartio [Customs] field guard, without immediately getting through the tanks obstacles there. According to the information received later, 6 of them were destroyed by anti-tank mines. Between 13:00 and 14:00, the first tanks appeared in the main fire zone (6 tanks). On the night of 30.11 / 1.12, the tanks tried to break through the stone barriers of Lipola with the help of chains, without success (our own artillery and mortars interfered).

On 1.12, there were tanks around Lipola since the morning. No significant cooperation between the infantry and the tanks was observed. The tanks drove up to the obstacle, stopped at it, or passed back and forth, firing cannons and machine guns at our positions. 2./JP 2, for example, had to withdraw precisely because of this. There also appeared to be some kind of cooperation between the enemy artillery and the tanks, in that the tanks directed the artillery's fire with light signals. As a means of transportation, the tanks almost exclusively used roads, they ventured into the forest only on roads."
Ensimmäiset hyökkäysvaunut, yhdessä jalkaväen kanssa ilmestyivät 30.11. klo 8.30 Tullivartion kenttävartion puolustuslinjojen eteen, pääsemättä heti siellä olevien hyökkäysvaunuesteiden lävitse. Myöhemmin saatujen tietojen mukaan tuhoutui tällöin niistä 6 hyökkäysvaunumiinoihin. Klo 13.00 - 14.00 vaiheilla ilmestyivät ensimmäiset hyökkäysvaunut päätulivyöhykkeelle (6 kpl). Yöllä 30.11 / 1.12 yrittivät hyökkäysvaunut ketjujen avulla vetäen särkeä Lipolan kiviesteitä, onnistumatta (oma tykistö- ja kranaatinheitin häiritsi).

1.12 esiintyi hyökkäysvaunuja aamusta lähtien Lipolan maastossa. Huomattavampaa yhteistoimintaa jalkaväen ja hyökkäysvaunujen välillä ei havaittu. Hyökkäysvaunut ajoivat esteen vierelle, pysähtyivät siihen tai kulkivat edestakaisin, tulittaen samalla tykeillä ja konekivääreillä asemiamme. Muun muassa 2./JP 2 joutui juuri tämän takia vetäytymään. Vihollisen tykistön ja hyökkäysvaunujen välillä näkyi myös olevan jonkinlaista yhteistoimintaa, sikäli että hyökkäysvaunut valomerkeillä ohjasivat tykistön tulta. Kulkuteinään hyökkäysvaunut käyttivät miltei yksinomaan teitä, metsään ne uskaltautuivat vain teille.

Robert M Hammond
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Re: Soviet-Finnish Winter War 1939-1940 (first three days)

Post by Robert M Hammond » 29 Aug 2023 02:50

Dear Mangrove,

Hi! Thank you so very much for this information. I greatly appreciate this! I have a few follow up questions.

1. How may I find out which Soviet Regiment led this attack? Is there something I may read on this?

2. Is there anyway to find out or figure out what type(s) of anti-tank guns JP 2 would of had?

3. Would all of the mortars that Tyk.K/JP 2 had have been 81mm mortars? Would any of the Jaeger infantry platoons or companies have had the 47mm mortar?

4. Were any of the 76mm guns of 4th Separate Artillery Bn. (Er.Psto 4) have been at Lipola?

5. How much snow was on the ground? When did JP 2 receive their white outer clothing?

6. Looking at a map, it appears there is a valley with a stream / river directly to the south of Lipola. Would the stream / river have been frozen on 30 November? If the water was not frozen, did the Russian infantry have some sort of protective clothes from the water and cold?

7. The anti-tank boulders and the anti-tank mines, when would these obstacles have been placed? Would the Jaegers or engineers have placed the anti-tank mines? Would there have been any Finnish engineers at Lipola?

8. How did the Russian tanks finally cross the anti-tank boulders?

All the best,
Robert

Mangrove
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Re: Soviet-Finnish Winter War 1939-1940 (first three days)

Post by Mangrove » 31 Aug 2023 11:48

Robert M Hammond wrote:
29 Aug 2023 02:50
1. How may I find out which Soviet Regiment led this attack? Is there something I may read on this?
"Talvisodan taisteluja" (ISBN 978-9515934154) by Ari Raunio and Juri Kilin contain Soviet perspective of many of the battles of the Winter War. However, it is only in Finnish and somewhat hard to get abroad.
Robert M Hammond wrote:
29 Aug 2023 02:50
2. Is there anyway to find out or figure out what type(s) of anti-tank guns JP 2 would of had?
Being a pre-war conscript unit, JP 2 would probably have used 37 mm Bofors anti-tank guns. There is an unpublished memoir by one of the soldiers of the Tyk.K/JP 2. He describes the anti-tank guns as 37 mm and "brand new". The same person published another memoir from the same events in 1970.

One of the anti-tank guns was located at Levonmäki farm west side of Lipola. It was lost few hours into the war along with 10 men due to Soviet infantry assault. The other gun located near Lipola elementary school was later lost as well. According to Jääkäripataljoona 2's after-action report, an anti-tank gun was lost around Levonmäki at 12.00 am. on 1 December 1939.
Robert M Hammond wrote:
29 Aug 2023 02:50
3. Would all of the mortars that Tyk.K/JP 2 had have been 81mm mortars? Would any of the Jaeger infantry platoons or companies have had the 47mm mortar?
Finland did not have any 47 mm mortars before the Winter War, safe for a few prototypes by Tampella.
Robert M Hammond wrote:
29 Aug 2023 02:50
4. Were any of the 76mm guns of 4th Separate Artillery Bn. (Er.Psto 4) have been at Lipola?
1./Er.Psto/4.Pr was at Nirkkola, some 8 kilometres north west of Lipola on 29 November 1939. It left for Lipola at 3.40 a.m. on 30 November 1939 but turned back to Nirkkola at around 10 a.m and arrived there before 4 p.m. Two of the guns were put into anti-tank positions at Nirkkola for the night.
Robert M Hammond wrote:
29 Aug 2023 02:50
5. How much snow was on the ground? When did JP 2 receive their white outer clothing?
Robert M Hammond wrote:
29 Aug 2023 02:50
6. Looking at a map, it appears there is a valley with a stream / river directly to the south of Lipola. Would the stream / river have been frozen on 30 November? If the water was not frozen, did the Russian infantry have some sort of protective clothes from the water and cold?
Being a pre-war conscript unit, JP 2 should have used snow camouflage as it was available in the warehouses. However, another unpublished Finnish memoir (1./JP 2) from 1982 records that "the first night of the war was cold. It must not have been too cold, but we lacked warm equipment. There was no overcoat, and no snow camouflage."

Third memoir from 1960 claims JP 2 received the first snow camouflage was received in the evening on 30 November 1939. I/3. Pr at Rautu had recorded minus temperatures for a week before December but the 1960 memoir tells that the boots were wet from water at Lipola on 30 November 1939.
Robert M Hammond wrote:
29 Aug 2023 02:50
7. The anti-tank boulders and the anti-tank mines, when would these obstacles have been placed? Would the Jaegers or engineers have placed the anti-tank mines? Would there have been any Finnish engineers at Lipola?
There would have been boulders probably only near the roads, as indicated by the various memoirs. Most of the boulder obstacles were probably built in the 1920s or 1930s by the Finnish Defence Forces or by volunteers during the summer of 1939. Some of them might have been built by the troops in October and November 1939.

According to Jääkäripataljoona 2's after-action report, the first company mined the roads leading west from Levonmäki and Lipola with 16 anti-tank mines and the roads leading from Lemmetty to Valkjärvi with 4 anti-tank mines at 11 p.m on 30 November 1939.
Robert M Hammond wrote:
29 Aug 2023 02:50
8. How did the Russian tanks finally cross the anti-tank boulders?
The 1960 memoir referred above claims no Soviet tanks got through the boulders on their sector until the Finnish troops withdrew, although the Soviet artillery tried to break the boulders with their fire. However, according to Jääkäripataljoona 2's after-action report, four Soviet tanks were destroyed by anti-tank guns at Levonmäki at 11 a.m. on 1 December 1939.

Robert M Hammond
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Re: Soviet-Finnish Winter War 1939-1940 (first three days)

Post by Robert M Hammond » 04 Sep 2023 05:32

Dear Mangrove,

Thank you so very much! There are about 10 books I wish to purchase. The shipping costs to have the books sent separately is horrible. I am waiting to hear back from Carl Geust in about 60 days. Carl is helping some people. I am hopeful he will help me to gather all of the books and send them all in just one package. The book you mentioned, Talvisodan taisteluja, is one of the books I am trying to purchase!

I do wish I could visit Finland. If I was able to visit, I would enjoy treating you to lunch!

One more question for now. There were a few 12.7mm anti-tank machine guns. I only know of this weapon in passing as the "L 35/36". QUESTION: Is there any listing showing if this was used at Lipola?

All the best,
Robert

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