Leningrad's defence on the side of Karelian nest

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Seppo Jyrkinen
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Leningrad's defence on the side of Karelian nest

Post by Seppo Jyrkinen » 30 Jul 2014 16:49

In the end of August 1941 General Keitel send a letter to Mannerheim and asked Finns to carry on warfare towards Leningrad. Ryti and Mannerheim formulated to him a polite but negative answer. They argued their negative answer by claiming that Leningrad's defence was very strong and Finns didn't have dive bomber and extra heavy artillery.

Was this a reason or an excuse?

Is there any facts which could have been base of Mannerheim's answer? I mean some kind of analyze according to Leningrad's defence (concrete bunkers xx pcs / kilometer etc). Or has anybody seen reliable claim about such one?
A word irony is baked into the word history.

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Re: Leningrad's defence on the side of Karelian nest

Post by Juha Tompuri » 30 Jul 2014 18:46

Seppo Jyrkinen wrote:In the end of August 1941 General Keitel send a letter to Mannerheim and asked Finns to carry on warfare towards Leningrad. Ryti and Mannerheim formulated to him a polite but negative answer. They argued their negative answer by claiming that Leningrad's defence was very strong and Finns didn't have dive bomber and extra heavy artillery.

Was this a reason or an excuse?

Is there any facts which could have been base of Mannerheim's answer? I mean some kind of analyze according to Leningrad's defence (concrete bunkers xx pcs / kilometer etc). Or has anybody seen reliable claim about such one?
There were bunkers but AFAIK the Soviet forces were relatively weak, and Finns could have pushed their offensive even further towards Leningrad, but with suffering losses.
That would have denied the later(?) Soviet transfer of troops from Carelian Isthmus to South of Leningrad. IIRC.

Regards, Juha

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Re: Leningrad's defence on the side of Karelian nest

Post by Swing » 31 Jul 2014 05:41

Seppo Jyrkinen wrote:I mean some kind of analyze according to Leningrad's defence (concrete bunkers xx pcs / kilometer etc). Or has anybody seen reliable claim about such one?
Karelian fortified area (KAUR) had two defense lines: main and rear. It’s construction began in 1928 and completed in 1939. Fortified area had 15 battalion defended sectors from Finnish gulf to Ladoga lake . Each sector included 1-3 artillery (1x76-mm or 1-3x45-mm) and 10-15 machine gun (3x7,62 mm) concrete pillboxes. Front size of each sector was 3-5 km, depth size – 2-3 km. Intervals between sectors were exposed to artillery and machine gun fire and reached up to 5 km. Fortified area had also a number of obsolete T-18 tanks (modified Renault FT-17) at fixed positions. In the beginning of 1943 KAUR had 11000+ soldiers, 264 guns, 120 mortars, 120 AT-rifles and about 1000 machine guns.

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Re: Leningrad's defence on the side of Karelian nest

Post by Art » 31 Jul 2014 05:58

See the scheme of the main fortified position as of 11.09.41 here:
http://www.aroundspb.ru/karty/132/lo_p3 ... 00000.html
Many photos :
http://www.nortfort.ru/kaur/index_e.html
http://www.kaur.ru/index.php

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Re: Leningrad's defence on the side of Karelian nest

Post by Art » 31 Jul 2014 11:10

Juha Tompuri wrote: There were bunkers but AFAIK the Soviet forces were relatively weak
They had two full-strength divisions (142 and 291) of them one in the most threatened sector (Leningrad-Vyborg) road plus 4 weak and a garrison of the Karelian fortified region in more or less good shape.
That would have denied the later(?) Soviet transfer of troops from Carelian Isthmus to South of Leningrad. IIRC.
There were transfers in both direction in the period of interest. In particular from Finnish to the German front: 168 division after evacuation from the Northern Ladoga in August 1941 and 115 division after evacuation from Koivisto in early September. From the German front - 291 Rifle Division in early September to Belostrov area. There were later transfers but already after the critical period.

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Re: Leningrad's defence on the side of Karelian nest

Post by Seppo Jyrkinen » 03 Aug 2014 08:41

Thanks for answering

Obviously Leningrad's defence at August/September 1941 has been quite weak when thinking permanent constructions. Far away from Maginot and possible penetrate through. On the other hand it's clear that if Finns had continued active warfare, Russia had moved troops from Germany's side to Karelian nest.

Because fortification line in reality has been quite weak, it is very likely, that Finnish intelligence has not claimed it to be strong. Has anybody seen a "Leningrad's defence report", made by Finnish intelligence? Or to give a better hint than "main page of digi.narc" :)
A word irony is baked into the word history.

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Re: Leningrad's defence on the side of Karelian nest

Post by Mangrove » 03 Aug 2014 17:04

Seppo Jyrkinen wrote:Has anybody seen a "Leningrad's defence report", made by Finnish intelligence? Or to give a better hint than "main page of digi.narc" :)

Soviet forces in the Karelian Isthmus, according to the Finnish intelligence on 17 September 1941.
Combat report made by the HQ of the Finnish 10th Division, probably during early 1942:

A strong defence line was built by the Red Army to this ridge. The line ran as follows: Siestarjoki-Valkeasaari-Ohta-Rivalinmäki-Voikala-Korosaari-Katuma-Salokylä-Sokilova-Alanikulasi. The depth of the main line is unknown, but it has been reinforced during the whole war. Installations have been detected for certain at least in Vaskisavotat, Ohatlatva, around Grusina station and Vuoli.

The terrain favours defence towards south and thus it is possible that there are more lines there that are unknown. If the support line would be in the south-east edge of the "platteau", then possibly the line would run e.g. through Lahti - 2. Parkala - Korpiselkä - Kuismala station - Kärpänselkä - Jaama - Uusikylä - Vuolijärvi - Miikkulainen. This would make the depth of the line as c. 25 - 30 km. However, there are no proof of the existence of this line.

Without knowing for certain the construction of the rear lines, we can be certain that the main line is formed of concrete bunkers, with addition of smaller installions equipped with artillery and machine guns. Dense anti-tank and barbed wire obstacles combined with numerous trenches would make it a serious obstacle for any army. Penetrating this line would have required wide and thorough preparations and perhaps even then there would have been great losses.

Apart from the strong defence line, there was other reasons why we did not penetrate the enemy defences. Among the elder age classes in some infantry units, there was an idea that the objectives of the war were reached when the enemy was thrown behind the old borders. Fortunately, this non-sense of an idea was share only a few among the units in the Karelian Isthmus. Most of the 10th Division's, two regiments out of the three, younger men shared the will to continue the attack down to St. Petersburg and beyond.

Partly these two reasons combined with strategical and political reasons had an effect to the decision why the breaching strong defence line in the front was not undertaken.
[...]
Tälle harjanteelle rakennettiin puna-armeijan toimesta vahva puolustuslinja, jonka pääpuolustuslinjan yleinen kulku on seuraava: Siestarjoki-Valkeasaari-Ohta-Rivalinmäki-Voikala-Korosaari-Katuma-Salokylä-Sokilova-Alanikulasi. Pääaseman syvyyttä ei tarkalleen tiedetä, sitä kun luonnollisesti on varustettu voimaperäisesti koko sodan ajankin, mutta varmuudella on voitu todeta kenttälinnoituksilla vahvistettuja vakinaisia puolustuslaitteita Vaskisavotassa, Ohalatvassa, Grusinan aseman seuduilla ja Vuolen tienoilla. Maaston edullisuus suosii puolustusta paljon etelämpänäkin ja sen vuoksi puolustusvyöhykkeelle on varmaankin rakennettu useita eri linjoja, joitten tarkempaa kulkua ei tunneta. Jos tukilinjaksi olisi varustettu ylängon kaakkoisreuna, voitaisiin linjan ajatella kulkevan esim. Lahden - 2.Parkalan - Korpiselän - Kuismalan aseman - Kärpänmäen - Jaaman - Uusikylän - Vuolijärven - Miikkulaisen kautta. Tällöin olisi vyöhykkeen syvyys n. 25 - 30 km., mutta mitään varmuutta tämän linjan mahdollisesta olemassaolosta ei ole olemassa.

Tuntematta tarkempia taaempien puolustuslinjojen rakennelmia voidaan kuitenkin varmuudella sanoa, että pääpuolustuslinjan muodostavan monet betoniset runkolinnakkeet, joitten täydennyksenä oli vähäisempiä erilaisia vakinaisia sekä kevytrakenteisia kenttälaitteita, joissa oli aseistuksena tykistöä ja etenkin konekiväärejä. Tiheät ps.vaunu- ja pkl.esteet yhdessä runsaan taisteluhautaverkoston kanssa vakinaisiin linnakkeisiin liittyvänä muodostivat vakavan esteen mille armeijalle tahansa. Tämän puolustusvyöhykkeen läpäiseminen olisi luonnollisesti vaatinut laajoja ja perusteellisia valmisteluja ja kenties vielä niitten jälkeenkin suuria menetyksiä.

Paitsi vahvaa vihollisen puolustuslinjaa oli olemassa muitakin syitä, jotka lienevät osaltaan vaikuttaneet siihen, ettei vihollisen asemien lävitse murtauduttu. Eräissä jk.osastoissa vanhempien ikäluokkien keskuudessa virisi sellainen ajatus, että sodan päämäärä on jo saavutettu sillä, että vihollinen on tullut heitetyksi takaisin vanhan rajan taakse. Onneksi tämä älyttömyyttä todistava ajatustapa lienee joissakin Kannaksen sotatoimiin osallistuneissa joukoissa ollut vain muutamien harvojen väsyneitten yksilöjen aivojen tuote, sillä ainakin 10.D:n suurimmalta osalta (kaksi rykmenttiä kolmesta) nuorekkaalla miehistöllä oli hyvä halu jatkaa hyökkäystä aina Pietariin asti ja vielä pitemmällekin.

Ainakin osaksi edellämainitut tekijät yhdessä strategisten ja poliittisten syitten kanssa vaikuttivat siihen, että edessä oleva vahvan puolustusvyöhykkeen murtamiseen ei ryhdytty.
[...]

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Re: Leningrad's defence on the side of Karelian nest

Post by Jagala » 04 Aug 2014 07:04

"Fortunately this kind of reasoning which demonstrates great foolishness was only a fabrication in the minds of a few exhausted individuals among the troops of the units participating in the operations on the Isthmus..." Priceless!

Art
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Re: Leningrad's defence on the side of Karelian nest

Post by Art » 04 Aug 2014 07:46

Seppo Jyrkinen wrote: Obviously Leningrad's defence at August/September 1941 has been quite weak when thinking permanent constructions. Far away from Maginot and possible penetrate through.
Fortifications were on the same level as other Soviet border fortified lines of 1930s. The problems were the lack of machineguns for arming all pillboxes, engineer obstacles (wire barrier was built in front of the line but not in all sectors), lack of field fortifications and cooperation with field forces. All were fixed with time though.

hms2011
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Re: Leningrad's defence on the side of Karelian nest

Post by hms2011 » 04 Aug 2014 14:02

Art wrote:They had two full-strength divisions (142 and 291) of them one in the most threatened sector (Leningrad-Vyborg) road plus 4 weak and a garrison of the Karelian fortified region in more or less good shape.
You wouldn't by any chance have any strength data on these divisions (and if possible - data on the other soviet divisions figthing in the Karelia) at that time?

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Re: Leningrad's defence on the side of Karelian nest

Post by Art » 04 Aug 2014 17:22

Sure. That is a report on combat strength of the 23 Army as of 5 September 1941:
Image
Image
There were 52591 men in combat units with 41420 rifles, 1383 light machineguns, 481 medium machineguns, 101 45-mm AT guns, 141 76-mm guns, 64 122-mm howitzers, 176 various mortars. Including:
43 Rifle Division - 5128 men
123 Rifle Division - 3743
265 Rifle Division - 5677
142 Rifle Division - 10864
291 Rifle Division - 10892
198 Motorized Rifle Division - 3464
22 Fortified Region - 6602
other smaller units - militia regiment, 4 border guard detachment (each approximately battalion strength) etc

Similar report as of 9 September 1941:
Image
In all 53305 men in combat units, 44914 rifles, 437 medium machineguns, 1064 light machineguns, 433 machine pistols, 205 various mortars, 96 45-mm AT guns, 119 76-mm guns, 42 122-mm guns and howitzers, 22 152-mm howitzers, 54 tanks (of them 36 used as pillboxes on a fortified line).
Including:
123 Division - 5331 men
43 Division - 5554
142 Division - 10354
198 Division - 3522
265 Division - 3681
291 Division - 9767
708 Rifle Regiment (attached to the 198 D) - 696
22 Fortified Region - 6502 + 3486 in attached units. Also border guard, artillery and tank units.

Some comments:
43 Rifle Division - pre-war unit, was encircled south of Vyborg in late August, broke out and was evacuated via Koivisto losing many men and almost all weapons and equipment heavier than personal weapons. One regiment (181 Rifle) was detached from division and operated elsewhere. In early August occupied a section of the fortified line east of the Lembolovo Lake.
123 Division - another pre-war division, was encircled in several pockets on the Karelian Isthmus in late August and retreated in disarray to the border. Most heavy weapons and equipment were lost as well. In early September occupied a section of the fortified positions near Lembolovo west of the Lembolovo Lake.
142 Division - the strongest of all, was evacuated with in good shape via Ladoga Lake in mid-August 1941 and deployed on the right wing of the 23 Army near Ladoga. Retreated in good order and occupied the easternmost section of the fortified line near Ladoga.
198 Division - practically a wandering HQ controlling various stray units rather than a normal division. In early September was pushed by Finns along the Leningrad-Vyborg road from Mainila to Beloostrov, then occupied a portion of the main defense line between 291 and 123 Divisions.
265 Division - a unit hastily formed after the war start. In August was committed in the central part of the Karelian Isthmus, performed vary badly and by early September lost most weapons and at least a half of original personnel. In early September in the forward zone between the old border and the main fortified line in the eastern part of the Karelian Isthmus. Retreated under Finnish pressure and withdrawn to reserve then.
291 Division - a freshly formed unit, practically without combat experience. Occupied the western part of the fortified line near Beloostrov-Mertut. Also one militia regiment (rebuilt after heavy losses on the German front) which was on the position between the Baltic and the Setroretsk lake was attached to the division. Originally in early September 1/3 of infantry (3 battalions) were detached from division and joined it somewhere later.
22 Fortified Region - a permanent garrison of the fortified line on the Karelian Isthmus. The unit status as of 6 September can be seen from the following report:
Image
It consisted of 5 machinegun battalions having 4593 men, 253 medium, 248 light, 128 tank machineguns, 2354 rifles, 33 45-mm and 47 76-mm guns. They occupied all 195 existing fortification buildings, although the number of machineguns available was smaller than required.
It must be said that replacement of personnel and weapons was received throughout September which improved situation in many units.
All scans are courtesy of podvignaroda.ru
and if possible - data on the other soviet divisions figthing in the Karelia
When and where exactly? There is info up to late August 1941.

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Re: Leningrad's defence on the side of Karelian nest

Post by hms2011 » 04 Aug 2014 21:00

Thanks for a great reply.
Art wrote: When and where exactly? There is info up to late August 1941.
I was primarily thinking about 7th and 14th Army in late August or early September.

Art wrote: All scans are courtesy of podvignaroda.ru
This sounds like an interesting site.
But as a non-russian speaker, I found it difficult to navigate :-)

Do you have a link to a section showing similar strength reports like the ones you provided, or do you have to use the search field using russian search terms in order to find the individual strength reports?

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Re: Leningrad's defence on the side of Karelian nest

Post by Art » 06 Aug 2014 15:53

Also reports on divisional strength as of 20-21 September 1941:

43 Rifle Division (without 181 Rifle Regiment): 6105 men, 80 horses, 5008 rifles, 8 medium and 49 light machineguns, 68 submachine guns, 75 mortars, 26 76-mm guns, 15 45-mm guns, 1 radio

123 Rifle Division: 7791 men, 958 horses, 327 automobiles, 6261 rifles, 20 medium and 117 light MGs, 68 SMGs, 149 mortars, 44 76-mm guns, 4 76-mm AA guns, 18 45-mm guns, 9 122-mm howitzers, 3 armored cars, 1 tank, 54 radios
Attached 181 Rifle Regiment (43 Division): 1362 men, 618 horses, 9 autos, 1229 rifles, 5 medium and 21 light MGs, 17 SMGs, 4 antiaircraft MGs, 11 mortars, 5 76-mm guns
Attached 577 Howitzer Artillery Regiment: 825 men, 40 autos, 682 rifles, 9 light MGs, 4 SMGs, 14 122-mm howitzers

142 Rifle Division (without most 701 Rifle Regiment): 8349 men, 1932 horses, 315 automobiles, 7104 rifles, 25 medium and 123 light MGs, 8 SMGs, 11 AA MGs, 35 mortars, 21 76-mm guns, 4 76-mm AA guns, 8 45-mm guns, 26 122-mm howitzers, 7 armored cars, 1 tank, 37 radios.

198 Motorized Rifle Division (one rifle regiment, 1 artillery battalion plus support units): 3896 men, 5 horses, 299 autos, 3200 rifles, 5 medium and 65 light MGs, 63 SMGs, 1 AA MGs, 4 mortars, 6 76-mm guns, 15 45-mm guns, 6 122-mm howitzers, 4 armored cars, 10 tanks, 22 radios
Attached 708 Rifle Regiment (115 Rifle Division): 1519 men, 381 horses, 7 autos, 1009 rifles, 1 medium and 3 light MGs, 5 SMGs, 6 mortars, 2 45-mm guns

265 Rifle Division: 4324 men, 1118 horses, 188 autos, 4114 rifles, 3 medium and 39 light MGs, 21 SMGs, 26 mortars, 6 76-mm guns, 12 45-mm guns, 1 tank, 13 radios. Elements of division attached to border guard.

291 Rifle Division: 9228 men, 2441 horses, 193 autos, 7316 rifles, 71 medium and 89 light MGs, 115 SMGs, 1 AA MG, 84 mortars, 36 76-mm guns, 11 45-mm guns, 8 122-mm howitzers, 23 radios
Attached: 3 Militia Rifle Regiment: 1641 men, 140 horses, 32 automobiles, 1428 rifles, 6 medium and 41 light MGs, 9 SMGs, 36 mortars, 12 76-mm guns, 2 45-mm guns, 4 122-mm guns, 2 radios
Also attached two armored trains (47 and 95 men)

According to another report artillery strength of the army as of 19 September was as follows (without antiaircraft guns):
110 45-mm guns, 104 76-mm regimental guns mod.27, 17 76-mm guns mod.36, 43 76-mm guns mod.02/30, 8 76-mm mountain guns, 41 122-mm howitzers mod.10/30, 4 122-mm howitzers mod.38, 4 130-mm naval guns B-13, 1 152-mm howitzers mod.09/30, 24 152-mm howitzers mod.38, 52 45-mm tank guns, 14 76-mm tank guns, 16 45-mm caponier guns, 20 76-mm caponier guns, 9 37-mm tank guns, 237 50-mm 181 82-mm and 62 120-mm mortars.

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Re: Leningrad's defence on the side of Karelian nest

Post by Art » 06 Aug 2014 16:25

hms2011 wrote: I was primarily thinking about 7th and 14th Army in late August or early September.
The last report I can find is from 10 August 1941. Accordingly:
7 Army in combat units: 52345 men, 7791 horses, 99 cars and 1044 trucks, 35762 rifles, 7594 automatic rifles, 1388 light and 407 medium MGs, 322 mortars, 8 37-mm, 90 45-mm, 93 76-mm guns, 4 76-mm AA guns, 63 122-mm and 16 152-mm howitzers, 86 tanks and 54 armored cars.
Including: Army HQ 1320 men
54 Rifle Division - 10502 men
71 Rifle Division - 12 228
272 Rifle Division - 11980
24 Motorized Rifle Regiment - 1514
9 Motorized Rifle Regiment - 1607
2 Tank Regiment - 1230
3 Militia Rifle Division - 6450
7 Rifle Regiment - 1442
452 Motorized Rifle Regiment - 1213
3 Marine Brigade - 2066
also smaller elements

14 Army: 60696 men, 10066 horses, 87 cars and 1666 trucks, 42897 rifles, 6413 automatic rifles, 2921 light and 587 medium MGs, 294 mortars, 4 37-mm, 177 45-mm, 106 76-mm guns, 16 76-mm AA guns, 8 107-mm guns, 141 122-mm and 52 152-mm howitzers, 59 tanks and 75 armored cars
Including: Army HQ - 380 men
42 Rifle Corps HQ and HQ units - 3833
104 Rifle Division - 10655
122 Rifle Division - 12159
14 Rifle Division - 7746
52 Rifle Division - 11892
1 Motorized Rifle Regiment (1 Tank Division) - 2578
104 Cannon Artillery Regiment - 2429
23 Fortified Region: 9024

23 Army: 103439 men, 20091 horses, 164 cars, 5243 trucks, 65426 rifles, 15726 automatic rifles, 3359 light and 904 medium MGs, 703 mortars, 28 37-mm, 377 45-mm, 220 76-mm guns, 40 76-mm AA guns, 208 122-mm and 137 152-mm howitzers, 232 tanks, 35 armored cars
Including: Army HQ - 3708
19 Rifle Corps HQ - 3331
115 Rifle Division - 13080
142 Rifle Division - 13270
168 Rifle Division - 11560
elements of 71 Rifle Division - 2621
198 Motorized Rifle Division - 5762
43 Rifle Division - 10946
123 Rifle Division - 12979
265 Rifle Division - 8927
Army tank group - 859
28 Corps Artillery Regiment - 2037
24 Corps Artillery Regiment - 1588
101 Howitzer Artillery Regiment - 2178
577 Howitzer Artillery Regiment - 2254
20 Mortar Battalion - 640
plus smaller units

Also subordinated to the North Front HQ: 22 Fortified Region (Karelian Isthmus) - 8228 men, 88 Rifle Division (in transit) from Archangelsk to Kestenga - 13456. Several battalions from the 22 Fortified Region were transferred to the German front hence smaller strength in September.
Do you have a link to a section showing similar strength reports like the ones you provided, or do you have to use the search field using russian search terms in order to find the individual strength reports?
It would be difficult to navigate without the guide to archival records which is not provided by the site. I've got the file from which images were posted in the pdf format, may be it can solve the problem.

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Re: Leningrad's defence on the side of Karelian nest

Post by hms2011 » 08 Aug 2014 14:45

Thanks again for the reply.
Art wrote: It would be difficult to navigate without the guide to archival records which is not provided by the site. I've got the file from which images were posted in the pdf format, may be it can solve the problem.
I would be very interested in that file.

If possible, could you send it to perpaal70@gmail.com

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