Finnish unit Er.P 17 during the Winterwar

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Nicolas von Schmidt-L
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Finnish unit Er.P 17 during the Winterwar

Post by Nicolas von Schmidt-L » 16 Jul 2002 12:28

I'm interessted in any and all information about the finnish unit Er.P 17, the "Salla-batallion", that fought in the area along the road CCCP-Alakurtti-Joutsijärvi 1939/40.

Is there a major work by this batallion that has been translated into swedish or english? I've found minor finnish texts about the batallion in different books about the Winterway, but my finnish is really bad.

ALL information about this unit, that within its ranks had a World Champion skiier, is of value to me.

Thanks,
Nicolas von Schmidt-Laussitz

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Juha Hujanen
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Er.P.17

Post by Juha Hujanen » 08 Aug 2002 21:41

As far i know there's no books about this unit in English or Swedish.

Here's some info.

Er.P.17 was raised men from Salla,Savukoski,Pelkosenniemi and Kemijärvi.Their equipment were poor,apart from old rifles some men were issued only with belt and cocrade.Battalion was commanted by Major Vilho Roininen,after him Captain Akseli Väänänen.1 company-Captain Akseli Väänänen,2 company-Leutenant Aulis Nyyssölä,3 company-Leutenant Veikko Kiiveri and Mg company-Leutenant Karl Reini.Battalion fought from start of war 17 days,14 battles and 145 km bitter rearguard and delaying action.When other Finnish forces arrived,Battalion send to rest at Mäntyvaara 20.12.39.Mg's and mortars were left to behind.When tired men were making camp,enemy troops were spotted at top of the hill of Mäntyvaara.Battalion proply attacked from 3 sides and heavy firefight started.When darkness fell Finnish commander forbited use of firearms,because Russians were sqeezed less than hectare area.Battle continued with knives(it was later referred as biggest knifefight in Lapland).When it was over 600 Russians lay dead in the hill.Only one wounted was captured.Enemy battalion was destroyed to a man.Booty was :5 mortars,30 light mg,15 mg,hundredds of rifles.Finnish casualties were:12 kia,29 wia.That battle denied Russians accsess to Kemijärvi and Rovaniemi.
18.1.40 Battalion attacked against enemy supply centre in Märkäjärvi but enemy in fixed positions and with plenty of automatic weapons was too strong.To end of war Battalion send ski patrols who attacked against enemy supply colums,bridges and communications even with company strenght.Russians started to loose so much supply that they were unable to mount large scale attack on that region.
That's brief history of that Battalion,whitch men were used to move in difficult terrain and with that mobility and attitude"they will not come thru this"stopped enemy much numerous than them

Hope this helps
Juha

Nicolas von Schmidt-L
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thanks!

Post by Nicolas von Schmidt-L » 09 Aug 2002 11:11

Thank you for your reply Juha.

What is the source of this information? A finnish book?

The battle at Mäntyvaara is a very famous one, at least in Lapland. The russian batallion was II/IR 596 commanded by Major Kazakov. According to a finnish book about war monuments in Lapland (don't have the book herer with me), the finnish soldiers from the Sallabatallion all carried backpacks, while the russians didn't. Hence, when the two forces got mixed up in the pitch black winter night, the finnish soldiers searched for backpacks on the black shadows they encountered - if they didn't, they quickly used their pukko.

A swedish winterwar veteran has told me that as the two forces got mixed up, the finnish commander commanded his people to sing a famous song (don't know the name) as loud as they could, and anyone not singing got to feel a pukko. I don't know how true this story is though.

Anyway, thanks for the information. It added a few pieces to the puzzle.

Image

Mäntyvaara memorial with finnish text saying "God helped here".

Image

Same memorial during the Commemorative Skimarsch 2000, with an american (!) laying down flowers at the monument.

Image

At Mäntyvaara, there is also a memorial for two fallen swedish volunteers, that got surprised by a russian fighter who strafed their truck.

If you're interessted in the Winter- and Continuation war, I can really recommend a trip to the areas around Salla. The areas around roads are litteray littered with memorials and old battlefields. Also, Suomussalmi and other places are not far away.

Octavianus
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Swedish volunteers in the Winter War 1939-1945

Post by Octavianus » 09 Aug 2002 23:15

Ave Nicolas,

Just wanted to say that I am a great fan of your website about Swedish volunteers in the Winter War 1939-1940! I would appreciate if you could also put online any short personal testimonials of Swedish Winter War veterans, if that would be possible for you to do, as I would very much like to read any.

Allso I have heard your father and you're writing a book about this obscure topic. Happen to know when it will be finished?

Thanks both for wonderful info you have posted here and for the photos.

Gratia,

Octavianus

Nicolas von Schmidt-L
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swedish volunteers

Post by Nicolas von Schmidt-L » 10 Aug 2002 09:35

Hello Octavianus.

Glad to hear that you like my (and all the people that have helped me) website. Actually, I have a couple of testimonials

Yes, my father and I are working on a book about the Swedish volunteers around Märkäjärvi 1940. We have quite alot of material for the book and we are currently occupied with the job of writing it all together to something (hopefully) readable. I can't tell you how long it will take. 6 months, 1 year, 2 years. No idea. Our goal is to have it complete before the Commemorative ski marsch 2005.

I have a few testimonials online, but unfortunately only in swedish :/

http://www.tendens.se/nicolas/frivilliga4.html
Swedish volunteer serving at the artillery in Vasa during the Winterwar.

http://www.tendens.se/nicolas/soa.html
A longer story by a volunteer at a riflecompany on the Salla-front. He didn't have a camera in Finland, so he decided to draw his photographs instead.

http://www.tendens.se/nicolas/jonas.html
Story told by a swedish volunteer at the "Swedish Voluntary Company" (best translation I could find), serving at Svir and the Karelian Isthmus 1942-44. The text is about the horrendous fights during midsummer 1944.

Also, the same man has written a long text about his company:
http://www.tendens.se/nicolas/sfkomp.html

http://www.tendens.se/nicolas/lennart.html
More a collection of photographs with text to them, by a veteran from both the Winter- and Continuation war.

I have more accounts, but I haven't had the time and/or energy to publish it since I have my share due of work from university, a job, a book and more or less a life :) But, together with a number of dedicated and helpfull people, I'm remaking the site with the aim to translate the lot to english.

Ok, I hope this will be of any use. If nothing else, photos speak the same language to people.

/Nicolas

Octavianus
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Swedish volunteers in Winter War 1939-1940

Post by Octavianus » 10 Aug 2002 17:04

Ave Nicolas ab Scandia,
Glad to hear that you like my (and all the people that have helped me) website. Actually, I have a couple of testimonials
Yes, sorry for that. I realized that only yesterday after seeing your website once again. I think I have been one of the first visitors of your website, shortly after you launched it online. :D I think, that at that time it was still in Swedish language only, what, by the way, doesn't bothers me at all, and now you have posted some articles in English language as well, what is also OK with me.
Yes, my father and I are working on a book about the Swedish volunteers around Märkäjärvi 1940. We have quite alot of material for the book and we are currently occupied with the job of writing it all together to something (hopefully) readable. I can't tell you how long it will take. 6 months, 1 year, 2 years. No idea. Our goal is to have it complete before the Commemorative ski marsch 2005.
:D Great to hear that. I wish your father and you a lot of luck and stamina in this endeavour of yours, and be sure to let me know, when you finished the book, as I would very much like to purchase it and, naturally, read it.

Also if you are interesting in writing an article about Swedish volunteers in the Winter War 1939-1940 for a magazineas a kinda self-promotion for your forthcoming book, let me know. I have a friend (an author of several books and articles in other magazines) who has recently established a new Militaria Magazine, and is always looking for any interesting contributors, and the topic you are researching is certainly one of the most interesting, that deserves a bit more attention from us.
I have a few testimonials online, but unfortunately only in swedish :/
Kein Problem, Nicolas. As a great fan of the Swedish TV detective serie about "Inspector Martin Beck", I have catched some Swedish words in my memory, which I am now skillfully using them in my vocabulary.... hehe....:D
I have more accounts, but I haven't had the time and/or energy to publish it since I have my share due of work from university, a job, a book and more or less a life But, together with a number of dedicated and helpfull people, I'm remaking the site with the aim to translate the lot to english.
Well, despite all, it is great to hear that. Maybe if you got any extra time, it would be also nice if you could also put a small section, a summary, about other foreign volunteers such as Norwegians, Danes, Hungarians, Americans, or about ca. 6,000 Italians that volunteered to come to help Finland but never arrived because Mussolini's government refused to give them a visa; and if the Swedish volunteers had any contacts with these volunteers.

Be sure to use your personal testimonials in your book; and believe me I know how you feel, being right now jammed by various duties. I am rowing in the same boat, hehe... :D :D

A, a question for the end: Do you happen to know if Sture Ronnö was also a Swedish volunteer in the Russo-Finnish War, before joining the French Foreign Legion? I cannot find any data about his pre-Legion life, id est when did he join the Legion, but most likely this had to be before the war broke up or shortly after the end of Russo-Finnish War, as he was present with the 13. Demi-Brigade at Narvik.

Gratia,

Octavianus[/i]

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Juha Hujanen
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Post by Juha Hujanen » 10 Aug 2002 17:58

Hello Nicolas.My sources are:Kansa Taisteli magazine 2/82,2/67,12/80.Major Kazakov killed himself with handgrenade to avoid capture.I don't belive that men carried packbacks(or "reppu" in Finnish),because some men were bathing in sauna when russians were seen.So men had to jump naked from sauna to -20C outside and put their clothes on.And men didn't usually carry their packbacks on combat unless they were operating behind enemy lines where they would have to carry all their equipments.Don't know about "singing attack" but i doubt it.Russians commonly used distinctive pointed hat(officially knows as "shelm"but nicnamed"dubionovka".That was easily rocognisable even in night at close range.
And yes,when Swedish did take their positions 26.2.40,Er.P.17 fight with them.
Good luck with your book(hope it will be translated to Finnish or English because "min svenska år inte so bra")If you need any info,i'll be glad to help(if i can :oops: )

Regards Juha

Nicolas von Schmidt-L
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Mäntyvaara

Post by Nicolas von Schmidt-L » 11 Aug 2002 11:46

Octavianus and Juha,

Thanks for your replies.

Octavianus, how did you find my site that quick and how come you're this interessted in the swedish volunteers during the Winterwar? One interessting observation about the vistors of my website is that 20-25% is non-swedish. Especially the americans seems to have a major interesst in the are, and many americans re-enact swedish volunteers.

Anyway, the entire site except the database (way to much work to have it in both swedish and english) will be translated in the months to come.

Thank you for your words on our book. I will send you a PM about the article.

I'm sure teh swedish vocabulary of Beck's assistand Gunvald is of great aid. At least if you're picking a fight with swedes :)

A new book (major work) recently got published about the Norwegian volunteers. If you want to know more about the you can post on my forum (which will get replaced by a new one soon) and direct it to Magne Haugseng. I posseses a great knowledge in the norwegian effort. I don't know too much about the danes, hungarians etc, mainly because the war was over before the vast majority of them saw action. Nevertheless, volunteers from many countries were de facto in Finland as volunteers and should be remembered for that.

The idea is to build the book primarly on personal testimonials, since a number of works already has been published about the Voluntary Corps.

I don't have any information about Sture Ronnö. There might be some accounts in a text by another volunteer, Assar (?) Tano/Tanno, who also fought in Narvik with La Legion. I'll have to look it up.

Juha,

Thanks for the source.

I found one of the books about Mäntyvaara:
Mäntyvaara battle.

When the Red Army's advance was halted along the Joutsijärvi waterline between 16th December and December 18th 1939, the Russians tried to encircle the Finnish defence position. This movement from both north and south failed and the Soviets were repulsed.

The fortified (II/JR 596), led by Major Kazakov, nevertheless succeeded in bypassing the Finn's left redoubt on 19.12. The Soviet battalion occupied Mäntyvaara, which was seven kilometers from the Joutsijärvi front on the road to Kemijärvi.

Men from the Salla battalion (ErP 17), recently arrived on rest leave from the front, were living in houses and tents by the road at the foot of the hill. While the quartering was still in progress, the commander, Major Roininen, gave the order to send out a checking patrol east from Mäntyvaara to the north to find out wheter there had been any Russian troop movements in the area. The patrol had not gone far before they found signs of the Reds in the woods, and immediately informed Roininen. Another, clearer track, indicated by a phone line, led to the Mäntyvaara summit.

The Russians' aim was to cut the Kemijärvi road and encircle the Finns. However, as they were exposed before the H-hour (?), they lost the initiative. An alarm was transmitted from the Finnish command control centre to the companies and the men of ErP 17 attacked the Soviets. Depsite the ascnet and heavy artillery, the 1. And 2. Company advanced rapidly towards the Soviet posts on the south side of the hill. The third company attacked from the west and one of its platoons circled round to the Russians’ rear. The Finns tried to hem them in, but did not entirely succed and part of the opposing battalion escaped.

The battle cost the lives of 17 Finnish soldiers and 29 were injured. 417 Russians were killed – among them Commander Kazakov. The Russians had an even bigger platoon awaiting the order to attack the Finns' rear, but when they failed to cut the road in Mäntyvaara, the detachement was pulled back to Korsu.

Source: Haataja, Vesa (1998). Sotamuistomerkit Itä-Lapin ja Kantalahden alueella. Salla: Sallan kunta. (The title translates to something like War monuments in Lapland to Kantalaschka (sp?).)
There is another account from Mäntyvaara and the battles along the Kemijärvi-Salla road in Kemijärven Veteraanimatrikkeli (1998). Isänmaan vapauden puolesta. Muistoja ja kuiva sotien 1939-1945 ajoilta. Kemijärvi.

Since I don't know much finnish, I can't make much out of i though. If someone who knows finnish is willing to translate it, I'd be happy to send photocopies.

But still, the pukko/singing/backap-myth remains. I'm in the middle of the process of moving back to my appartment at university and because of this by books are not available to me. The pukko-story is what has been told to me by swedish veterans teh two times I've vistied the site with them. But, stories are stories. The hunt continues though.)

At the time the Corps took responsibilty of the front at Märkäjärvi, the Salla-battalion held positions along the Märkäjärvi-Hautajärvi road.

I have some photos of remains of what could have been the batallions positions. What puzzles me is that a regiment from SS-Nord (SS-IR 6) occupied roughly the same positions in 1941, before the assault on old Salla.

The book will be written in swedish. I canät say anything about a translation yet. First we have to finnish the swedish version. Also, thaks for your words and offer of assistance. I will send you a PM as well.

Take care

/Nicolas

Octavianus
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Swedish volunteers in Winter War 1939-1940

Post by Octavianus » 12 Aug 2002 14:27

Ave Nicolas ab Scandia,
Thanks for your replies.
You are welcome.:-)
Octavianus, how did you find my site that quick and how come you're this interessted in the Swedish volunteers during the Winterwar?
Well, I don't remember anymore, how I stumbed with your website, but I think it was during one of my regular year one day surfing when I take a once per year a whole day to look for any new websites, and I also typed in search box "Svenska Frivilliga" and got your website, still "hot" and "fresh".

How did I get interested in the Winter War and Sweidsh volunteers? That's a long story my friend, and I don't wish to bored with you right now. Maybe next time. I just wanted to tell you to carry on with a good work.
One interessting observation about the vistors of my
website is that 20-25% is non-swedish. Especially the americans seems to have a major interesst in the are, and many americans re-enact swedish volunteers.
HeHe, well, Americans chronically lack of history, so they are grateful for each piece of interesting history they can't get.:-) No, I think the reason why so many Americans visit your site should be look by the fact that America has today some 300 million people and almost all (young and old, even WWII Veterans) have more or less free internet connections and can master web surfing, while in Europe many older people, among them I am sure also some Swedish Winter War veterans, don't know or have never learn how to handle web surfing, and in addition the web connection in some states is still very poor.

I am sure many other non-Americans are interested in the history of Swedish volunteers as well, me being for an example. :wink: heheh
Anyway, the entire site except the database (way to much work to have it in both swedish and english) will be translated in the months to come.
I am sure all non-Swedish speaking members of this forum are now taking a deep bow to you, hehe.... It would be nice to read some new translated material though. Just be sure to let us know here on the forum when the translations will be on air....
Thank you for your words on our book.
Thank you. Looking forward!
I will send you a PM about the article.
OK.
I'm sure teh swedish vocabulary of Beck's assistand Gunvald is of great aid. At least if you're picking a fight with swedes.
He,He,He... I knew you are going to mention him here... Yes, I have learned some basics from his rich vocabulary of Swedish language: stolle-bocke-fjong, bryna på, göka, brön, ditt jävla såll, kronjon, bög etc .... All that has been recorded in my memory... :D :D :D :D :D

How does already go that comment of his to Linne about why the girls in the high-school were afraid of him? :-))))))))))

Would like to see some parts of the serie again one day. I think I still have typed two two of the serie on my video cassette, somewhere...
A new book (major work) recently got published about the Norwegian volunteers. If you want to know more about the you can post on my forum (which will get replaced by a new one soon) and direct it to Magne Haugseng. I posseses a great knowledge in the norwegian effort. I don't know too much about the danes, hungarians etc, mainly because the war was over before the vast majority of them
Right now I am kinda busy, but will drop by once in the forthcoming weeks and posted the message about Norwegian volunteers. I promise. :lol:
saw action. Nevertheless, volunteers from many countries were de facto in Finland as volunteers and should be remembered for that.
Indeed. They came to Finland and were willing to offer their lifes on the altar of a foreign country. You can't ask more from them, that's for sure.
The idea is to build the book primarly on personal testimonials, since a number of works already has been published about the Voluntary Corps.
Sounds great. Be sure to let us know when the book is ready.
I don't have any information about Sture Ronnö. There might be some accounts in a text by another volunteer, Assar (?) Tano/Tanno, who also fought in Narvik with La Legion. I'll have to look it up.
Please, if you have time and pleasure in the next days, I would very much appreciate if you could look that. The other Swedish legionnaire was Assar Tanno, and I have somwhere a photo of him, with another Swedish foreign legionnaire Nilsson at Narvik in 1940. Together with them is an unknown legionnaire, Sergeant-Chef Tobias (???), apparently coming from Yugoslavia. I have heard that Mr. Tanno is still alive, but seriously ill.

Gratia,

Octavianus

Nicolas von Schmidt-L
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Légionnaires and more

Post by Nicolas von Schmidt-L » 13 Aug 2002 09:52

Octavianus,

If you give me some time, I will get you information about your Légionnaires.

I don't know if Tanno is alive, but he might be. He published a text about his time in Narvik in a book called "Det brinner hos grannen" ("The neighbour's place is on fire", where neighbour is Finland and the fire is the war).

Do you have many photos of former swedish volunteers? I ask because a number of people and I are working on a database, collecting information about all the swedish volunteers 1939-44. This far we have information of about 1 600 volunteers published online. So if you - or anyone else - would let us use the photos, we would be very greatful.

I also sent you a PM.

Take care,
Nicolas

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Topspeed
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Post by Topspeed » 01 Sep 2004 10:36

This is interesting too ! Folks might find it in a different section.

JT

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