The official AHF Winter & Continuation War quiz thread

Discussions on the Winter War and Continuation War, the wars between Finland and the USSR.
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Janne
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Post by Janne » 19 Jun 2006 09:25

Well, a *certain variety* of Finnnish military issue bread , anyway. But I don't think "näkkileipä/knäckebröd" much resembles "hardtack", which is more of a kind of biscuit, smaller but thicker in size and finer in consistency when crumbled. Näkkileipä is very different type of a dried hard bread: much flatter, made of coarse rye flour and baked at a high temperature. Usually the resulting bread is quite easy to chew (and tasty, too), but sometimes it could be exceptionally hard, quite imporssible to bite into - hence the name - and to eat it one first had to soak it in hot tea, ersatz coffee or soup.

During the war it was supplied to the army by a multitude of big and small bakeries; the process was far from the strictly standardize one used by the few very large bakeries today and the product could vary quite a lot. The unusual hardness could've been caused by changes in quality of flour, in composition of the dough, in baking temperature, drying time or whatever. OTOH there were other distinct varieties that were favourewd by the troops, such as "upseerivanikka" ("officer grade bread" which was flattter and crumblier.

I imagine that the second part of my warmup question was more difficult: the shape of the bread was a flat square (30x30cm) with a large hole (for hanging up on a beam during drying) in the center.

I repeat that the main quesion should be answerable by almost anyone willing to make an educated quess, but if there are no takers, I'll give the correct answer on Thursday.

Janne
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Post by Janne » 22 Jun 2006 10:37

I'll spoil the fun, then: in the beginning of the Coninuation War the Finnish III Army Corps was subordinated to the German AOK Norwegen and sometimes Finnish troops could find themselves at the receiving end of the German logistic chain of command.

The provisions that the German supply system saw fit to deliver to the frontline soldiers were sometimes a bit odd - colonel Halsti (who may be a bit of a raconteur) tells in his memoirs of a column of lorries carrying nothing but bottled mineral water and of a platoon led by a Feldwebel delivering hot coffee in backpack containers - but also more normal foodstuffs often seemed starange or even unpalatable to ordinary Finnish soldiers (who naturally enough hadn't enjoyed the kind of variety of international cuisine we do). The men who mostly came from northern Finland had for instance never seen salami-type sausages, processed cheese packed in tubes, canned apricots - and they quite certainly hadn't seen anything like blue cheese, which they firmly believed had gone bad and threw away, cursing the Germans.

Most of the junior officers were from Oulu where the restaurant in the best hotel in town might have had blue cheese on its menu, but it was usually a city boy transplanted from southern Finland who happened to be culinarily better informed and either got his comrades to eat the cheese or he got to feast on it himself. (FWIW my father was at the time a company commander's orderly and he had the task of running around and collectiing every single piece of uneaten cheese.)

BTW since a German soldier's ratios included red wine, it was delivered also to the Finnish soldiers, who at first took it for some kind of berry soup (which their own field kitchens served with a kind of porridge/gruel). However, this delivery was rapidly discontinued on Finnish orders.



Since I'll be away from any kind of net connection for several weeks, someone should perhaps come up with a new active question. But since I don't want to sneak away without respecting the rules of the quiz, I'll give you a a "bubbling under" kind of question with (i believe) a high degree of difficulty:

My grandfather was a Russian general, my father was a Russian general, I was born in Russia, my native tongue was Russian, I got my looks from my mother who was the daughter of Byzantian-Grecian Prince and an Italian beauty. In the Winter War I fought in Kollaa and in the Continuation War on the Karelian Isthmus where I was killed on the Ohta sector in 1943. Who am I?

(BTW the data base has got my unit wrong.)

Janne
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Post by Janne » 06 Jul 2006 10:41

I couldn't resist peeking in to see whether there's been any action in this thread. To save it from another two weeks or more of zip nada zilch happening, I feel I must give a tip or two on how a curious-minded person could proceed: the Ohta sector shouldn't be unfamiliar to anyone who has read about the most famous period post-war general ot the most famous ditto regiment in the Finnish army and the the question would be very easy to answer by anyone who has read "Vuoksen voittajat" by Veli Virkkunen. There's also a handy biographical database of Finnish generals and admirals who served in the Russian Imperial military, and a short half an hour should be suffcient to dig out the correct answer even if there are maybe a dozen pairs of father-and-son generals.

But if you're all too lazy to read or browse, I'll push the question aside and present another one:

There have been father-and-son generals in the Finnish army, too; I believe the Hägglunds are the latest pair, but there is at least one such pair where both father and son served during the Winter and/or Continuation War. Name both father and son.

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Robb
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Post by Robb » 15 Jul 2006 15:09

Hi Janne,

You may want to provide us with a couple of hints to get us started again :)

Regards Robb

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Tero T
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Post by Tero T » 15 Jul 2006 16:24

Sons of Sillasvuo or maybe Heinrichs. I have met both but don't remember if they were in the war. ???? Tero T Toronto

ML
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Post by ML » 17 Jul 2006 08:25

My grandfather was a Russian general, my father was a Russian general, I was born in Russia, my native tongue was Russian, I got my looks from my mother who was the daughter of Byzantian-Grecian Prince and an Italian beauty. In the Winter War I fought in Kollaa and in the Continuation War on the Karelian Isthmus where I was killed on the Ohta sector in 1943. Who am I?
Lieutenant Georg Alfthan? He was the first person who was KIA in Ohta sector in 1943 whose surname I found in the list of Finnish generals in Imperial Russian army. His grandfather was Lt.gen. Alexis Alfthan and father Lt.Gen. Carl Johan Woldemar Alfthan.
But if you're all too lazy to read or browse, I'll push the question aside and present another one:

There have been father-and-son generals in the Finnish army, too; I believe the Hägglunds are the latest pair, but there is at least one such pair where both father and son served during the Winter and/or Continuation War. Name both father and son.
This is the current question still waiting to be answered.

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Post by Janne » 17 Jul 2006 11:58

Bingo! Georg (or "Jori") Alfthan was born in Proskurov (in what is present-day Ukraine) in 1913 and left semi-orphaned by the Russian revolution - his mother died in Odessa in 1917 and his father was stranded in Russia until 1923 - and was raised by his relatives in Helsinki. He fought in JR69 during the Winter War, attended military academy between the wars and fought in JR7 and later, when a battalion was spun off, in JR48. (At the time of his death ErP12 hadn't yet been formed or named.).

His mother was princess Sophia Mavrocordato, daughter of Prince Dimitrios and Marie Baltazzi (a Venetian family from Constantinople) and Veli Virkkunen tells how (Italian sprinter) Pietro Mennea resembled Georg Alfthan. Virkkunen also tells (and possibly embellishes a bit) a story about how Alfthan, during the advance in 1941, picled up a captured field telephone and used his fluent Russian to a Soviet colonel who was at the other end of the line: "Colonel, this is ensign Alfthan of the Finnish Army and I will accept your immediate surrender!" Alas, the colonel refused.

Georg Alfthan is also mentioned in the "official" Continuation War history: he is the acting company commander who with five other men alone was left to take the enemy positions on so called "Munakukkula" hill.


As for the other question: no, the farher and son are not Heinrichs - there have been two generals with that name, but they weren't that close related.

There have been no fewer than nine such pairs during the history of independent Finland. OTOH considering that sons in general often have a certain tendency to follow in the footsteps or, as the Finnish saying has it, to fill the boots of their fathers and that the number is now running at about 350, this isn't at all exceptional IMHO. The families in question are, in alphabetical order, Helminen, Hägglund, Ilmola, Klenberg, Kopra, Laatikainen, Sihvo, Sihvo -. that's two different father-and-son duos! - and well, the only ones who did serve during the wars.

I was going to give "They aren't the Strömbergs" as a hint, but since Tero in Toronto already guessed right I'll just explain that's what the family name was until 1936:-)

Hjalmar Siilasvuo commanded 9.D in the Winter War (in the famous Suomussalmi and Raate battles) and the III AG in the Continuation War. His son Ensio Siilasvuo fought first in KevOs5 and later in JR11 - both in 3.D which was under his father's command - but he is probably better known from his UN commands in the Middle East in the 1970's.


Over to either ML or Tero!

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Post by Janne » 26 Jul 2006 11:49

Well, well, the lads are shirking - so here's a light question to pass the time while we wait for them to snape up:-)

Why did Finnish soldiers sometimes place two rifles stock down, barrels touching and pull the triggers simultaneously?

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Post by Janne » 28 Jul 2006 07:48

Hint: it was done I'd say exclusively during the stationary, "trench warfare" period of the war between 1941/42-1944.

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Post by Janne » 31 Jul 2006 08:00

Is everyone away on their hols or are people extremely reluctant to answer the quiz because they simply don't fancy the task of thinking up the next question?

Anyway, in the way of an additional hint: long periods of "trench war" could connsist of "all quiet" on both sides of the frontline. The troops on both side were dug in, separated by mines and obstacles in the hundred or hundreds of meters wide no man's land. Although it remained a war - there could be enemy sniper, mortar or infantry cannon fire or patrol attacks - what was characteristic of life in the trenches was inactivity.

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JTV
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Post by JTV » 01 Aug 2006 06:46

Janne wrote:Is everyone away on their hols or are people extremely reluctant to answer the quiz because they simply don't fancy the task of thinking up the next question?

Anyway, in the way of an additional hint: long periods of "trench war" could connsist of "all quiet" on both sides of the frontline. The troops on both side were dug in, separated by mines and obstacles in the hundred or hundreds of meters wide no man's land. Although it remained a war - there could be enemy sniper, mortar or infantry cannon fire or patrol attacks - what was characteristic of life in the trenches was inactivity.
Heck I give it a try - was the idea to create a larger muzzle flash or sound to confuse the enemy? (used at night to give enemy the false idea that the certain part of the trench has antitank-gun, mortar or similar larger weapon?). I have earlier heard that combination or flashlight and rifle were sometimes used for purpose of giving false impression of antitank gun in direct fire duty during night (first short flash with with flashlight to give impression of large muzzle flash and fire rifle few seconds later to create the proper sound).

Jarkko

Janne
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Post by Janne » 01 Aug 2006 10:53

Close enough to declare that we have a winner!

As I've been told (by two informants from separate regiments) the sound that was created by this method of firing rifles was (from a certain distance) uncannily similar to that of the propellant charge detonating and the shell exiting the mortar tube.

I.e. the purpose was sheer cheap boyish fun: since the soldiers knew how uncomfortable it could feel when a quasi-peaceful day was interrupted by the sound of an enemy mortar firing and you had to prick up your ears and wait to hear whether the shell would hit in yout proximity, they could easily imagine enemy soldiers stopping whatever they were doing and waiting and waiting and waiting...

FWIW the stories didn't tell who or how discovered this "trick", but in both cases the practise had to be discontinued when a higer officer got too curious. The reason given was that the barrels could be damaged, but it may just have been that this sort of thing wasn't looked upon favourably by those in charge of concepts such as military discipline.

JTV, the ball is in your court now...

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JTV
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Post by JTV » 01 Aug 2006 13:41

Thanks, placing these questions reminds a bit "Kymppitonni" (Finnish gameshow) - you don't want to ask question whose reply everybody knows, but you really don't want to ask question to whom nobody knows the reply either. :lol:

Anyway, I try putting my summer holiday photos in good use for this time. Here is the question:
Photo below shows site of a weapon placement in Finnish World War 2 era bunker, but what kind of a weapon was it for? (minumum requirement: calibre and type of weapon this was for, bonus points for those who can tell official abbreviation and manufacturer of the weapon).

Jarkko
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JTV
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Post by JTV » 03 Aug 2006 06:12

What, still no replies? :wink: This was supposed to be easy one. :roll: Hint: The particular bunker belongs to Salpa-line. There were not terribly many kind of weapons installed in its bunkers.

Jarkko

Janne
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Post by Janne » 03 Aug 2006 09:25

It's rather obvious that the picture depicts a bunker in the Salpalinja:-) The whitewash paint is simply too white to be vintage, so it must be a bunker restored for museum purposes.

It's also rather basic knowledge that there were three types of weapon employed in these bunkers, 7.62mm machineguns, 45mm antitank guns and 9mm machinepistols - but that's where the easy part ends!

The hole looks largish, it could be big for a machinegun cooler, but it could be that a steel plate is missing, so that's not a cert. The platform could support a special design machinegun carriage(?), but it doesn't rule out an antitank gun, either.

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