Sgt. Väinö Orpana's diary from Winter War

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Kunzit
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Joined: 18 Mar 2015 13:58
Location: Finland

Sgt. Väinö Orpana's diary from Winter War

Post by Kunzit » 19 Mar 2015 01:19

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Sgt. Väinö Orpana wrote daily in his diary. He grew up to be a trusted and fearless combat fellow hardened by the war. This is a genuine and uncensored voice from a Finnish soldier.

Väinö Orpana grew up in a farm house in Kannas. He was 20 years old when going from military service to war. During the winter war he wrote his observations and thoughts in a diary and he was fatally wounded just before the war was over.

Here is the beginning, will be continued:

30.11.39

"At 4-5 a.m. Embam came to tell that diplomatic relations with Soviet Union are broken. We continued our sleep...!

At 6-7 a.m. he returned and ordered us to immediately collect our gear! The war has started, immediate departure.

We joked about it and didn't believe him. But soon we heard weird thundering and artillery fire on the nearby fields. Now everyone understood what it was about. Our departure was calm but fast. Destination was Nirkkola-Peki's house. The sky was red behind us and grenades exploded all around.

Fortunately we made it. The Russkies fired these nearby villages for two hours.

In the afternoon the same bombing started, but this time our artilleries participated. The day went by like in a dream.

I had a guard shift in the evening. The southern and southeastern sky was all red. Lipola's and Kauksamo's villages were burning. It was a very shocking sight, although I knew that they were lit by our boys.

We started to get information about tough battles from the front. We could clearly hear rifles and machine guns.

Ltn. Sipari has already given his life to Finland. They say that Russkies drop like hay, our losses have been very small. I was on guard for an hour in the night."

1.12.39

We woke up to a heavy artillery fire, it came from our own battery. It was lovely music.

There were fierce battles all night long in Lipola and at the whole frontline. Our guys use a stalling battle according to the plan.

We have lost about 10 men during these first days. But there are hundreds of dead Ivans.

Sgt Lipenkoski shot a Russian captain and 5 men with a pistol. Another Sgt. burned down a house filled with sleeping russkies.

Villages are burning and both sides are firing. It was dead silent in our division."

2.12.39

"We didn't leave this night after all. The columns left at dusk. We are going to smack the russkies a little before we retreat from these good positions.

In the morning the sky was blackened by russkie planes. Their artillery fired non-stop without any results.

Battles have taken place all day on both sides, our guys have to retreat. We start to be in a bag. Because russkies haven't attacked here.

I was on guard again. The same sad sight, villages are turning into ashes.

Atm we hear singular fires from ahead. A grenade just flew over us, it comes from our side.

An enemy troop got through during the night. I was on guard. It disappeared in the night.

A tank has also crossed the border, we sent a truck equipped with a cannon."

3.12.39

"The headquarter started to move during the night and we followed. The destination was Suokkaa's house in Sarkola village. This 10 km journey was pretty difficult. Due to bad bicycle weather we got there at 9.30 a.m.

Just as we settled down in Jutikkala school we had to leave again. Here I saw for the first time a field burial. They buried a cavalry soldier who died a heroic death.

We moved about 3 km to Jutikkala village. The house where we now live in was recently left empty. We prepare dinner. Pork meat on the pan and a wide variety of conserves, raspberry-, strawberry- and other jam that we got from the cellar.

A deed like this would a week ago been heavily reprimanded, but now it's normal because when we leave we burn down everything.

I was a while ago on the yard. Although it's late in the night it is as bright as during the day. It's because of the fires, they burn houses nearby and the village across the lake is totally on fire."

4.12.39

"At the moment we listen to the music that russkies play to us. A loud speaker is drumming international propaganda. But it only makes us laugh.

We just got news. Major Vänttinen told that our previous planned blockade gave the enemy huge losses. 20 tanks are destroyed and over 100 Ivans were killed. It's enough for one battallion.

These few days have given a good picture of the current war. We have seen countless Karelian homes in ruins, first comrades killed and russkies' huge losses. All this proves what war is about. It is not what you have imagined, it is brutal and merciless destruction of mankind. These days have been like like a film we are watching, awakening a bitter hatred in us against the russkies!

At 9.30 p.m. we went marching, I don't know where, but backwards in any case."

5.12.39

"At 6 a.m. we came to our destination Äyräpää station. We are now in a pretty cool house, the owners left this morning. The owner just stopped by.

Tomorrow it's Finland's Independence Day. Apparently russkies will make a huge attack then. But we will strike them back with bleeding heads.

Now we go to sleep, it's sweet to take off the boots and rest completely, because we are very tired after marches and battles from the previous days.

At 11 p.m. we were suddenly woken up, we will go back to the frontline in one hour."

6.12.39

"Wake-up at 4.30 a.m. Artillery thunder and a dog is barking. We assumed that a fierce battle was going on and they needed help.

We were quickly packed in trucks and drove full speed a the same road we got back from yesterday. The closer we got the louder the shooting got. We stopped at Korpioja station and ran head over heals to the line.

We heard the sound of a fierce battle ahead. We were afraid that the enemy gets through and we had to make a counter-attack. I was ordered to lead the signal- and communication troops.

Russkies were beaten back with bleeding heads, their attempt failed totally.

We were bunked in Korpioja school's sauna. We just had lunch, it's 1 p.m.

Three russkie planes just swooped shooting at the eating troops. We have a panzer train on a rail nearby, they also have antiaircraft guns. They downed two planes the other day. Our artillery is firing at the moment.

At dark I witnessed a unique experience when three of our artilleries fired at the exact same time. The sky was like a sea of fire like giant blizzards and the earth was shaking under my feet. The grenades went screaming towards the neigbour from where we heard explosions making destructions".

7.12.39

"I woke up at 7.45 a.m. A boy just arrived to our headquarters, russkies took him as prisoner and he managed to escape. They ordered him to dig a hole while one man quarded him with a machine gun.

He killed the guard with the shovel, took his machine gun and escaped.

He was pretty satisfied with the result".

8.12.39

"I went out for a walk immediately in the morning. I visited Reino Joronen's house which was deserted.

When I got back at 11 a.m. others were fully dressed up, the battallilon was heading towards the Russkies for a violent inquiry. They head to Lamminpää mill, 10 km away.

We took off, all columns followed. We got in a battle with small enemy divisions when our front troops crossed the border. As usual the communication division was last. I and Lounamaa sort of escaped so we could be there first. Moberg and Hytönen also sneaked there so they would also get to fight.

The first fight consisted of 30 russkies, they suddenly fired their machine guns and we responded. Soon they retreated leaving 10 fallen soldiers behind. But we also had 2 fallen and 2 injured. When we inspected the catch, for example 2 trucks, we saw movement in a hole, loaded our rifles and went closer.

A russkie holding hands up and shouting "I surrender" surfaced, that's all he had time to say because at the same time 6 rifles fired and dropped the dude. When we looked closer at the hole we saw another russkie there who pretended to be dead, but he woke up when we poked him with bayonets.

Moberg and Hytönen took him as prison together with another one who had a wounded leg and transported them back in a car. We continued forward. Some small enemy division opened fire a couple of times but they retreated immediately. One of our side-patrol of 20 men found russkies in a barn.

Patrol leader Seppälä went to investigate the barn. He was shot in the chest and fatally wounded. After that our men attacked the barn and finished off all the russkies, there was about 30 of them.

We went forward on the road, the battallion was spread out on both sides of the road, Lounamaa and I walked on the road. Near the mill our battalion commander sent an inquiry troop to find out which road leads to the vicarage.

Soon a truck headed their way. They opened fire at the truck and the driver jumped out and escaped in the dark.

We got the car which was russkies' movable field kitchen containing tobacco, cookies, perfume etc. etc.. All stuff was totally second-rate.

We got another car also, but it had broken down due to shots. We couldn't proceed, because the division gave an order that our battallion had to immediately return to our accommodation. So we turned around. I drove back with Lounamaa in the russkie field kitchen -car. We took a few things with us as memories.

At 2 a.m. we were back in the school. It was an interesting trip. Russkies gave a very disgusting impression. They were dirty and shaggy like beggars. At least those who we took as prisoners and those who were killed on the field. Our catch was truck loads of all kind of stuff, it looked like they got a sudden urge to escape".

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Kunzit
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Location: Finland

Re: Sgt. Väinö Orpana's diary from Winter War

Post by Kunzit » 20 Mar 2015 01:36

8.12.39
"I went out for a walk immediately in the morning. I visited Reino Joronen's house which was deserted.

When I got back at 11 a.m. others were fully dressed up, the battalion was heading towards the russkies to make a violent enquiry. They headed to Lamminpää mill, 10 km away.

We took off and all columns followed. We got into a battle with small enemy divisions when our front troops crossed the border. As usual the communication troop was last. I and Lounamaa sort of escaped to be there first. Moberg and Hytönen also sneaked there so they could also take part in battles.

The first battle consisted of 30 russkies, they suddenly fired their machine guns and we responded. Soon they retreated leaving 10 fallen soldiers behind. But we also had 2 fallen and 2 injured. When we inspected the catch, 2 trucks for example, we saw movement in a hole, loaded our rifles and went closer.

A russkie holding hands up and shouting "me is surrender" surfaced, that's all he had time to say because at the same time 6 rifles fired and dropped the dude. When we looked closer at the hole we saw another russkie there who pretended to be dead, but he woke up when we poked at him with bayonets.

Moberg and Hytönen took him as a prisoner together with another one who had an injured leg and transported them back in a car. We continued forward. Some small enemy division opened fire a couple of times, but they retreated immediately. One of our side-patrol of 20 men found russkies in a barn.

Patrol leader Seppälä went to investigate the barn. He was fatally shot in the chest. After that our men attacked the barn and finished off all the russkies, there was about 30 of them.

We continued forward on the road, the battalion was spread out on both sides of the road, Lounamaa and I walked on the road. When we got near the mill our battalion commander sent an inquiry troop to find out which road leads to the vicarage.

Soon a truck headed their way. They opened fire at the truck and the driver jumped out and escaped in the dark.

We got the car which was a movable field kitchen for russkies and contained tobacco, cookies, perfume etc. etc.. All the stuff was totally second-rate.

We also got another car, but the shots destroyed it. We couldn't continue forward because the division sent an order that our battalion had to return to our accommodation immediately. So we turned around. I drove back with Lounamaa in the russkie field kitchen -car. We took a few things with us as memories.

At 2 a.m. we were back at the school. It was an interesting trip. Russkies gave a very disgusting impression. They were dirty and shaggy like beggars. At least those who we took as prisoners and those who were killed on the field. Our catch was truck loads of all kind of stuff, it looked like they had a sudden urge to escape".

9.12.39
"We rested the whole morning and moved out from the sauna in the afternoon, because it would soon be used for bathing.

We got a room from the school's upper floor. 3 heavy bombs dropped on the school yard in the evening.

We just got the information that one of our platoons surprised the enemy artillery. 2 were taken prisoners and 3 got away. The artillery immediately stopped firing."

10.12.39
"A perfect Sunday peace although it doesn't much differ from the everyday.

Foreign reporters are here at the moment. There's at least one American and once French."

11.12.1939
"We woke up when the building shattered due to an exploding grenade.

55 minutes of continuous thunder. After that our right side was attacked. Battles continued all day in Muolaanjärvi. I bathed and got a really good heat.

6.05 a.m. we informed the headquarter that the enemy battalion broke through our right side and that they were trapped.

Our troops have fired non-stop for 3,5 hours but the enemy hasn't surrendered.

We dug shrapnel shields in the forest at evening. After that we had sauna again. Firing had already ceased, maybe the enemy has surrendered or been killed to the last man. At 5 p.m. we got an order to prepare for departure. We don't know when or where we are going.

We left at 7.50 p.m., still not knowing the destination. They rumoured that we were heading to Kyyrölä, 20 km away. "

12.12.39
"Our first assignment was to put up a tent. It was pretty difficult since we were all tired and most of the guys saw for the first time how a tent is put up.

We slept for a while after we got the tents up. They were pretty cold though with only a few twigs on the floor. Now the tent is super fine. Guys sleep with bare feet and without a coat. Many first-timers wonder how it can be this warm in a tent. 20 men in the same tent.

Our regiment is on the frontline, the headquarter and our communication division is fortunately 3 km behind them. No battles today, at least no artillery activity.

Yesterday the enemy attacked a lot, but it was fought back. 7 tanks destroyed and many fallen men. We lost only 5 men. Now it's 7.45 p.m. and the others are already asleep being extremely tired, I'm also going to bed.."

13.12.39
"Vaaramaa, Lahdenkylä and I took a walk on the frontlines. There were signs of earlier battles. Grenade holes everywhere and trees in pieces, biggest holes are 4,5 m wide. Our men live there in trenches where they are fully protected from grenades.

In the afternoon the boys went to take a look at their own artillery. Kusti even fired two cannons at the russkie battalion and the artillery leader told him it was a bull's eye. We sleep side by side with Moberk, he is a postman from Vyborg and a really jolly chap."

14.12.39
"Cannons started thundering again from the morning. We were camouflaging our camp. I saw boys from Jaeger Brigade 2 and 1. They are the same cheerful gang as always.

I saw Karjaa, Joronen, Sippula, Jaeger Kuokkanen etc. I chatted with Jaeger Puumalainen.

12 men have fallen in the 1st brigade. They have been in tough spots in Lipola. His rifle had marks of bullets, one boy's bayonet was destroyed and another one had a bullet that went through his pocket.

In the afternoon we worked in the forest making Spanish horses. There has been shooting all day long.

I forgot to tell that we have an actual radio in our tent. We listen to news and music. We don't hear Lahti since Moscow is hindering, but we hear Vyborg and foreign stations really well."

15.12.39
"Miraculously we have been in peace for many days, although the artilleries are thundering all over night and day.

It feels pretty bad when others have to fight for their lives and we have to be here as a target for the artillery.

Reinikainen just asked for volunteers to an inquiry troop and 4 men immediately volunteered, Maberg, Hytönen, Karvonen, Itkonen and I.

The spirit in this tent is cheerful, we tell jokes and stories and laugh together".

16.12.39
"I heard that we get to stay here until Tuesday. This day went slowly. Cannons and smaller guns work like before.

I'm writing Christmas cards and listening to music from the radio, but there is no Saturday-night atmosphere.

Our allowances were paid and we got clean underwear".

17.12.39
"Our troops got into an adventure with the enemy division last night. They smashed the russkies with rifles and hand grenades.

One of our men got lost and he came back today after wandering around for two days on the russkie side. During his trip he shot 10 russkies and told about a russkie battalion after he arrived.

He was awarded with Corpral stripes."

18.12.1939
"At 5 a.m. all of us had to retreat because of fearing a focused artillery fire. I stayed here with two others as a telephone dispatcher.

A fierce artillery fire started at 7 a.m., but it didn't hit here.

Soon after that the communication division returned back. They were in the artillery fire but nobody was even wounded although shrapnels flew all around.

At 10 a.m. I got a mighty great assignment. I got to the nearby tower as a spotter. There is a nice small cottage at the ground of the tower and it has a camine. You have a good sight to the enemy side from the tower. With me are Maberg, Hytönen and Launonen. We will stay here at least for this night. Russkies are bombing Kyyrölä village and church but they don't seem to get any hits.

We inform our observations to the commander by phone.

It's quite nice to be here. At 9.30 p.m. Kusti and I were spotting and we made lots of important observations.

A funny incident happened at night. This isn't a safe place and we can be surprised any time because we have no guards. We sleep with loaded rifles and have a specific plan on how to act if the enemy takes us by suprise.

We heard footsteps outside. Someone was walking around the cottage for a long time. All of us had our fingers on the trigger. Suddenly the movement stopped. We roared "password"!

Nobody answered. So Hytönen shot through the ceiling and all of us dashed outside. We heard rattling from the bushes, screamed again "password" and then someone replied "footwrap" which was the password at the moment.

We got an explanation. They were our own men who thought the cottage was empty and they didn't hear us asking for the password.

Oh well, these things happen."

19.12.1939
"We climbed in the tower right in the morning and soon the sky was blackened with planes, at least 200. We saw how a heavy bomb plane caught fire, fell down and exploded.

At the moment our own fighter is bravely fighting 3 enemy planes. He had to land on our side. At 12.50 p.m we saw again how a squadron of 21 planes flew towards Vyborg. Our antiaircraft cannon opened fire and downed yet another one. After ten minutes 10 fighters and 3 bomb planes appeared. When they got near our gun stock the same scenario was repeated and they had one less bomb plane. It was awfully exciting to witness with binoculars when those air monsters battled. The russkies had bombed Kyyrölä all day long but without any result, some house caught fire but that's all.

Our guys would probably had smashed the whole church with 10 shots, but the russkies have fired at it for 3 days without any result. Now new men are arriving and we will leave, it's 3 p.m. Russkies have probably figured out this tower since they have focused their artillery fire here now, but it missed by 200 meters.

We saw a lot of air planes on Kannas sky today. It was the first possible flying weather and the Soviets didn't skip the opportunity.

Headquarters estimate that over 200 Russian planes flew to Finland, for example to Turku which was bombed for the first time."

20.12.39
"Vahrman, Launonen and I visited the frontlines and it was a very interesting trip. First we went to an artillery station. Everything nearby was tumbled and trees in pieces, when we walked peacefully we suddenly heard a grenade right ahead of us and dashed to the ground. It missed us by only few meters.

21.12.39
"10 p.m. This was the hottest day this far. It's Stalin's birthday. We went to the tower immediately in the morning. Russkie bomb planes dropped bombs in nearby villages. One bomb plane fell on Yskjärvi's ice. Kusti and I went to look.

The plane was 700 m from the shore. The russkies came at the same time from the opposite shore towards the plane, about 10 men. The two of us could not go against them on the open ice, so instead we went to deliver the message to our guys. But then we met soldiers on our way and I took 10 of them with me and went back to try and fight against the russkies. They opened fire immediately and the bullets circled around our feet. We had to leave the plane in peace. It was useless to attack on an open ice.

We went back to the tower where we got a shower of shrapnels in our neck. I have never been in a fire where the air is filled with small devils exploding all around.

It was a miracle that we stayed alive and weren't wounded. They are firing at Kyyrölä at the moment and we were ordered to go to a safer location."

22.12.39
"I'm in the camp again. We start to dig trenches because the russkies disturb us too much. I cleaned my rifle in the afternoon".

23.12.39
"I'm in the tower again. We are going to spend Christmas here, tomorrow it's Christmas Eve.

We put our cottage in super condition. Before noon we got a master example from the russkie artillery, they were on par with our artillery. Kusti and I barely got down from the tower when our neigbour fired a bull's eye on the tower. Thick logs broke like matches. We were 7 meters away.

After the fire stopped we started to dig a bomb shelter beside the cottage. It's ready now and it can hold a 6-inch.

1.40 a.m. I am warming up the camine, the others are sleeping. It wouldn't surprise if we got a drumming fire in the morning to honor Christmas.."

24.12.39
"We woke up peacefully. I went to get a Christmas tree, we intended to spend a real Christmas.

We got a nasty surprise at 2.30 p.m., 5 grenades.

We stayed alive thanks to the dugout, the cottage window went in pieces.

At 3 p.m. we heard again a horrid explosion and ran outside to the trench.

Then a horrible drumming of fire started, it lasted 20 minutes. It was the worst time that can be. I thought every second that the thrench won't hold, because the earth was shaking and one time even the fire came inside through the door.

We decided to try and get out from here at any cost, because if this would continue then it would be a done deal for us all.

We looked at the watch, because the shots came with one minute intervals, and then we dashed out towards the camp area.

We got only a few meters when a grenade exploded in front of us, we clinged to the snow bank with bare hands wearing only a sweater.

This continued all the way to the camp, but we made it half-dead and without the smallest scratch. All our gear were left behind.

In the evening we went back to get the gear. It was a grim sight. Everything around the tower was in ruins and the tower was about to fall down.

A shrapnel shower came through the cottage roof, my coat was torn up and the rifle handle was in pieces. This made a sad impression on us on Christmas Eve. We couldn't even think about spending Christmas at the tower.

Oh well, now we are here in the tent. It's 7 p.m., a small Christmas Tree with candles shines in the middle and the white straws on the floor are glowing. We sang "God is our Fortress" and other Christmas songs. We have received a lot of good things, we have steaming hot juice that we enjoy together with cookies.

We have a genuine Christmas spirit here although cannons and machine guns thunder outside. I also got a package in the evening post, then we wished Peaceful Christmas to each others and went to bed."

25.12.39
"It's minus 21 degrees. We had Christmas porridge, ham, etc. but the atmosphere is more mundane now.

The day went peacefully. It's 7 p.m. now, outside there is a beautiful moonlight, I was on guard for one hour.

I can't help but to think about Christmas and my people at home somewhere far. I felt homesick for the first time on the frontier."

26.12.39
"It doesn't feel like any special day. It's minus 30 degrees. Enemy planes fly continuously so we can't keep fire in the camine.

Another division's colums have started to arrive here, we should transfer behind to rest. Now we got the order to get ready, because we will march in the night."

27.12.39
"0.30 a.m. we took off and arrived at 6.00 a.m. to Pasurinkangas, 15 km. Tent accommodation. We slept the whole day."

28.12.39
"I stepped on a nail when guarding the fire at night. The foot could get sore.

During the day we camouflaged the camp area and set up fire wood. I went to the medicine cottage with Kusti, he had a sore eye and I had a sore foot.

Now we make coffee because the boys got milk and buns from somewhere. I am writing a letter. The foot is hurting really bad, hopefully it gets well soon."

29.12.39
"The day was sweatier than normal, in other words we went to sauna. It was a real war sauna. Pioneers had built it undergound, but it was excellent in all ways. The foot feels better and I'm sure I will sleep well."

30.12.39
"Resting in every meaning of the word. Ruk-boys are leaving this evening. The signal group is completely broken up. I have to go to Sutela's building group with Kainulainen, Kumpulainen, Jäspi, Lyytinen and Nykänen.

The boys left at 5 p.m., it could be that I will never see them again. It feels sad when good buddies go away. Lahdenkylä was the only one left in the signal group."

31.12.39
"Today it's New Year's Eve. Our battalion is still resting. Hepo-oja, Lamppu and Liukkonen went to get a really big load of buns, chocolate and candy from some Salomälkälä.

We managed to get a small party to celebrate New Year. Now to bed and wait for the new year."
Last edited by Kunzit on 20 Mar 2015 12:20, edited 1 time in total.

Kunzit
Member
Posts: 11
Joined: 18 Mar 2015 13:58
Location: Finland

Re: Sgt. Väinö Orpana's diary from Winter War

Post by Kunzit » 20 Mar 2015 01:54

1.1.40
"12 a.m. We sang the Mamme-song and all our artilleries fired honorary shots on a specified target.

Russkies responded with an hour lasting fire and attack, so the year started very violently.

The day went by very peacefully without any celebrations.".

2.1.40
"Nothing new on Kannas frontier, everyone spends their time as they want, I write letters".

3.1.40
"The enemy's artillery is bombing our stations infrequently. In the afternoon a grenade dropped here also, 2 men from some regiment were wounded."

4.1.39
"This morning we got an order to start digging trenches. Our tent department starts to dig tomorrow. I took a walk with Lahdenkylä, new snow rained last night and the weather was very beautiful. The forest was glittering wrapped in a snow mantle."

5.1.40
"Today we started to dig a trench right from the morning, one group at a time. I was with Jäspi and Kainulainen felling timber for the dugout's roof. It was a very fun job in a long time. We got skiis in the afternoon."

6.1.40
"We spent Epiphany in the timber forest. Now Nykänen is 4th. We felled timber all day."

7.1.40
"Usually there is no difference between holiday and everyday here. Same now, I work like before.

At 9.45 a.m. russkie's artillery started to sing in the neighborhood. It even hit here in the end, grenades started falling on the camp area. We waited in the tent for the bull's eye that would finish us.

Sand rustled inside the tent and shrapnels flew over the tent. Neighboring tents were hit by shrapnels and 3 men got injured. They were the first ones from the communication division.

At the same time in one stable a horse got a direct hit and blew up leaving only a bloody mark, 3 other horses died at once.

At 7.45 p.m. our own artilleries started to fire and we are worried that the russkies may disturb our night's sleep".

8.1.40
"We continued to build the trench. In the afternoon Topi and I skiied to the Lotta-restaurant. It's located behind the defence line where they have strong nests made of iron and cement. There we met boys from the guerilla unit, for example Kuokkanen who earlier served in Jaeger Battalion 2. We asked him to talk me and Topi in there if possible. They are a very straightforward and fair gang. Lipankoski leads their battalion. We had coffee and returned back."

9.1.40
"We went to see the new lines ahead of us. You see I'm in the communication unit. We went to the furthest trench. They had an excellent weather for skiing, a bit dangerous though. Next night our battalion will transfer there, we leave at 5 a.m.."

10.1.40
"We are now in the frontline. They have really good trenches here.

We were immediately greeted with firing, which killed the the lines. We were immediately put in the defect troop, the line was broken from 5 places. As soon as we left another line broke down.

It's peaceful now. We went to sauna, we even have a sauna here although the russkies are 1 km away.

Eero and I are paired and all boys from Jaeger Battalion 3 are in the same trench. Including Ltn. Haimila and 2nd Ltn. Halttunen. Just after we fell asleep in the night a line was broken again. We went to fix it, Topi, Eero and I are in the same patrol.".

11.1.40
"Topi and I went to ski tracks beside the lines, that way it's easier to move.

We are making coffee, we don't get tea anymore, only coffee, and it tastes good since we happen to have milk".

12.1.40
"I prepared skiing gear in the morning. And read novels to make time pass.

Kannas-frontier's biggest Gentlemen paid us a visit, Generals Österman and Öhquist.

We didn't bother to ski, the weather is terrible.

Boys went to get buns and candy from the canteen. Now we are going to enjoy coffee and buns".

13.1.40
"Nothing special, which means artillery activity and unit battles, but it's everyday business. One defect troop got in machine gun fire in the afternoon."

14.1.40
"These days are starting to get a bit too long. This is more like hatred than war. We are almost like in civilian life, although it rains grenades day and night. Here in the trench you don't even really hear the explosions either. The lines are broken all the time."

15.1.40
"I didn't put my shoes on at all today. We told jokes and chatted to make time pass.

Now it's 10.30 p.m. Topi and I just arrived with the defect troop. It's minus 30 degrees. We were in grenade fire and it was lousy business, because you have to make connections and lay down on the ground in freezing temperatures.

Even when leaving we had to dash to the snow banks again and again.

My nose was frozen, but not badly. Now we are so tired that we can't even stand up."

16.1.40
"Freezing temperature all day long. Heavy firing started in the night, russkies probably intend to attack soon, but their beards will freeze in minus 31 degrees".

18.1.40
"Now we have a real continental weather, minus 45 degrees. We will be okay, but how will the neighbors cope? We have had small frostbites though."

19.1.40
"They give even 5 days vacations here, Kainulainen and Kumpulainen left today. My turn is the the very last, because I went on vacation just before the war started".

20.1.40
"We bathed in sauna like in civil life, although it wasn't a really successful sauna since we didn't get enough heat.

Our batteries are shooting at the moment. They have fired several nights now trying to get the russkies to respond. We have a patrol there spying to find out where the battery is firing from. Now they made the mistake and responded, I'm sure that the russkie battery will be in ashes next morning like often before.".
Last edited by Kunzit on 20 Mar 2015 12:18, edited 1 time in total.

Kunzit
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Joined: 18 Mar 2015 13:58
Location: Finland

Re: Sgt. Väinö Orpana's diary from Winter War

Post by Kunzit » 20 Mar 2015 02:14

21.1.40
"Snowy Sunday, there's only minus 13 degrees. I feel a bit down because there is no adventure."

22.1.40
"Now russkie ironbirds have even found military targets. They bombed Salmenkaitaa line, the railway and our positions. With no result of course".

23.1.40
"We held an educational show for the russkies tonight. With two loudspeakers. I participated. We put the speakers right in front of the Ivans noses and they probably understood because they greeted us with their cannons. We told them some cold facts.

The speakers from Stadium fit this purpose especially well. We will give them a new broadcast in the morning".

24.1.40
We continued broadcasting our show, russkies immediately opened a fierce fire, but we had already accomplished the mission and the car was on it's way to another frontline. Topi and Dad came from vacation, as did Eero and Lassi. The boys told that people don't know much about the war and that people were really friendly.

25.1.40
"Today Topi and I went skiing in the forests and skiied downhill from fierce hills. The day was excellent. Last night our troop visited the neighbor. A funny notice was that Ivans have a ski jump on Parkkola's icy lake where they train skiing and ski jumping every morning. Other Ivans try to get fish from the lake. It's splendid that Finns already know how to ski and don't have to learn it on the frontline and also that we have enough food and don't need to go fishing."

26.1.40
"I wrote letters all morning like usually. Topi and I went to our regiment's sauna in the afternoon, it was an excellent weather for skiing. Here everybody comes up with all kind of fun activities to pass time; magic tricks, contests etc. etc.".

27.1.40
"Nowadays the russkies have started to patrol very often, they have done small sabotage but usually been caught.

Our boys have also been active. However the russkies have a quite sharp guarding, nowadays they use German Shepherd dogs as guards".

28.1.40
"Kuni, Jukka, Kusti, Topi and I went skiing. We skiied to Vuoksi shore. From there we could clearly see the russkie side, but there wasn't anything special to see. Fighters flew around firing at our positions".

29.1.40
"We camouflaged in the morning and were in the defect troop during the day, we also went to sauna".

30.1.40
"Tonight we inted to have a show for the russkies. I'm also in. We took the speaker right in front of their noses and I'm sure the neigbour heard it. Two speeches were broadcasted with one hour intervals. They heard a few cruel truths. They seemed to understand since they immediately greeted us with cannons. These days we give the russkies a lot of this kind of program, because we have noticed that it affects the Ivans very well."

31.1.40
"Artillery has been very active after a long time. Our heavy artillery is also active.

Today something bad happened to one of our patrols. They set forth during the day. Russkies had spotters in trees and first they let our boys get through and after that a bigger division attacked the patrol.

2 were left behind, one killed and the other one severely wounded. The boys gave him a machine gun and enough bullets, another one was also wounded but he managed to get out.

1.2.40
"Today the weather is excellent for flying and the russkies dropped bombs here on the frontlines. We went to look at the holes, the biggest holes were 4x10 m.

Russkies have also dropped so called Desant troops behind the front. We saw how two men jumped from an airplane with parachutes. They usually come at night. Our order is to immediately shoot these people, because they wear Finnish uniforms and they are very dangerous men."

2.2.40
"Russkies have started to move in front of our positions. They managed to shoot one of us.

Our field guards shot 11 Ivans and took two prisoners. According to the prisoners a new division has come and ahead of them is some guerilla battalion that was earlier on Poland's frontier."

3.2.40
"We are going to patrol this evening. 5 men from the communication unit get to go plus those who volunteered; Vahrunen, Hytönen, Hepo-oja, Kainulainen and me. Kuni Maberg will lead the patrol of 30 men.

We are putting our gear in order now, we don't yet know what the mission is.

At 5 p.m. I was informed of the patrol's mission: To bring back the two bodies who were left on the russkie's side on Wednesday and to do as much sabotage as we possibly can.

At 11.30 p.m. we headed to the 2nd military unit where everyone gathered. We crossed our own stations at 1.05 a.m.

We faced the enemy about 1,5 km away and a fierce battle took place. We couldn't go forward because there were machine guns.We lost one man, but the mission was not completed. Russkies seem to be so much on guard that they can't be surprised."

4.2.40
"We returned at 5.40 a.m. and were so tired that we slept the next day.

Now it's 8 p.m. and we wait for mail. Nothing special happened, a few bombs were dropped nearby and the artillery fire has been pretty hard."

5.2.40
"It really looks like the russkies are going to attack. They made a small attack this morning, we lost one man. It was probably somekind of a trial attack to see what kind of troops they are up against. We heard the thunder of tanks and fierce shooting the whole day, an attack is to be expected".

6.2.40
"It's snowing at the moment. Nothing special happened last night. We hear minor movement from ahead, but looks like the Poland-heroes aren't too eager to attack afterall.

We have as a matter of fact verified that these troops have been on Poland's frontier".


7.2.40
"A French General came by today. We are going to give russkies a program again. The speaker-car is already here. I had to go with them as a guide since the others didn't know those places.

We put the speaker on the same trenche's roof as before. Now russkies were 200 meters away in a chain. They had occupied our guarding line the evening before.

Our guys intended to chase them away after this program. The speech lasted over 30 minutes and the russkies listened quietly all the time. We even thought that they already deserted the stations.

We will give a new broadcasting at 6 a.m."

8.2.40
"Last night it clashed. Our boys tried to drive the Ivans back, but couldn't because they had so many machine guns. The boys attacked fiercly twice, but the russkies didn't retreat.

Then our cannons fired at their position, but nothing helped.

The program started at 6 a.m., first we broadcasted music but didn't hear anything. The lines were cut by a grenade.

We fixed the lines after which the speech was pretty well heard. I'm sure the Ivans also heard it well, because they were still 200 meters away from us and fired the cannon 20 times, otherwise it was silent.

We didn't have time to reel in all the wires before russkies started to fire, it lasted 1,5 hours, which was followed by an attack from a whole regiment's division.

Now all guns are singing non-stop. We get bullets non-stop and cannons from both sides are firing. It's useless for the russkies to try, I'm sure that our positions will hold."

9.2.40
"Today we had quite a concert again. All guns are in action, russkies are seriously attacking.

They destroyed 4 tanks in our division; 3 caught fire and 1 was totally destroyed.

We who are in communication have loads of work. Lines break constantly and it isn't fun to fix them in a grenade- and bullet -rain. A bullet went through Mononen's hood, it was really close.

The thundering went on all day without stopping. It calmed down a bit in the evening. Our losses are trivial, only one is wounded, but we killed hundreds of russkies, on top of that their tanks and batteries were destroyed. "

10.2.40
"The battles continue a little lamer today.

The artillery and mortars have been very active.

We destroyed 3 tanks and naturally it caused our neighbor all kinds of small losses."

11.2.40
"This morning the fierce artillery firing started again, it was lamer at night. Several lines were broken.

Mononen's defect troop got caught in the middle of the artillery's firing. Mononen went totally crazy and they are escorting him to the medical unit.

Hytönen and Taimiaho, who were with him, escaped to the nearest trench.

Kuni, Topi and I went looking for them since we believed they were stuck in the forest. But they were okay. We found them from the trench.

When returning we got to experience what it feels like to be in a cannon fire. The bullets are pretty devilish, they come as fast as bullets from rifles. You can't escape them because you don't even have time to go down on the ground.

We fired at russkie planes with rifles, of course without any result, but it felt good to at least reach them".
Explanation: What Mononen experienced was called "horror of grenade" by the soldiers. Those who were caught in artillery fire and couldn't always control themself anymore, they could for example go into an uncontrollable panic when hearing shots.

Laying in the middle of artillery firing was one of the most horrid experiences according to those who experienced the war.

Those who lost their minds were usually understood. Keeping a soldier who lost his mind in grenade firing on the frontline was nobody's advantage. They were usually assigned to jobs that took place behind the frontline.

After the war horses also panicked when hearing a loud noise, they worked on the frontline during the war and one can only imagine their traumatic experiences :(

Kunzit
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Posts: 11
Joined: 18 Mar 2015 13:58
Location: Finland

Re: Sgt. Väinö Orpana's diary from Winter War

Post by Kunzit » 20 Mar 2015 02:34

12.2.40
"Today it snowed so we didn't see many planes. We skiied since the grenade fire wasn't especially hard today.

The 3rd company division had a strange experience. When two of our men went to the russkie side to get information they made it all the way to the russkie front guard without being fired at all.

After that they returned and the whole troop went there. They also made it to the russkies' positions without one shot.

There were Russian wounded men who didn't shoot at us, instead they gave us their guns and made as gesture on their chest asking us to shoot them.

The troop returned with guns and other stuff they found. Now they are going back with an even bigger group, because the Ivans don't resist".

13.2.40
"The weather is excellent. The sun has shined all day. I went skiing with Topi and Kuni. A lot of planes in the air, we fired at them everytime they were above us. It was exciting to follow when the bomb planes dropped their cargo.

One time the situation looked bad. 9 bomb planes flew relatively close to the ground. We loaded our rifles and decided to shoot only at the last planes so that they don't drop bombs on us.

When the first 3 planes were almost at our location they dropped their bombs toward us, but they missed us narrowly. At the same time the latter planes dropped their cargos and the bombs started to fall towards us. We went down, but looked all the time at the dropping bombs.

I followed them until the loud noise came, it felt as if the air pressure would squeeze out our lungs. We followed the explosions and after that it was silent.

We got up, the closest bomb was 100 meters away and the others were nearby forming a circle on a wide area.

The holes were pretty massive, 7 meters in diameter and 2-3 meters deep. We left satisfied.

Once again we experienced something new in this war. Although it was close that it became our last skiing trip.

Russkies attacked today in Muolaa and Pällilä but it was relatively peaceful in our section.

In Summa the fierce attack continued, about 22.000-25.000 russkies participated but they were beaten back bleeding".

14.2.40
"Russkies bombed our stations with cannons and airbombs that continuously dropped down. But they didn't matter. We went once out with the defect troop and in the evening we skiied for our own fun.

11 Russians have surrendered, they walked to our side holding up their rifles and said that they don't want to attack since nearly all of their comrades are dead. One of them was shot in the back from their own side, but he made it to our positions wounded. We have also noticed that russkies have started to re-locate their troops away from these places because they are not attacking.

Battles in Summa continue, also in the section in Sarkola where we destroyed 4 out of 6 tanks.

Russkie fighter planes tried to shoot at our guards, but it was useless, the forests are blackened with holes from airbombs, however there is still room for more of them."

15.2.40
"Russkies dropped a huge amount of airbombs on our section. It thundered non-stop all day long.

Horrid battles in Summa continue, likewise in Muolaa and Punnusjoki. Russkies apparently try to get a solution here in Kannas in the close future.

Grenades rained down in the evening breaking lines. There hasn't been any bigger attack here".

16.2.40
"The russkies focused a hard artillery fire on us last night, including fire bombs. All lines broke down, Topi and I patrolled while grenades poured down like rain.

It's 12 p.m. now. Ltn. Hämäläinen just informed us to be prepared for the absolutely worst. A hard clash is coming our way. We have to once again use a stalling battle which will surely be tough. We might be forced to leave our positions already today or next night. He didn't say what is coming. Maybe russkies will attack or maybe our positions in Summa or somewhere else have failed so that we are forced to retreat. In any case something is wrong, but we will see later. I hope that everything will change for good. Everyone is silent and serious. Everyone is packing their things so that they are ready to leave. We don't know when we are leaving."

17.2.40
"Nothing special has happened. We retreated from our current positions yesterday evening. It happened without firing a shot.

Our positions in Muolaa are ruined due to a heavy artillery fire for many days and defending was very difficult when the tough attack lasted many days in a row.

Our guys had to make several counter-attacks and both sides lost a lot of men. That's why our people saw it best to retreat from the main defense line. Our positions in front of the Mannerheim Line are 3-4 km from Muolaa here to Pasuri.

We didn't have to fight a stalling battle, we detached without anyone noticing.

The guerilla units stayed there to stall. All trenches were burned down and bridges etc. were destroyed by exploding them. Likewise all villages were burned down, the same sad sight like in the beginning of the war when the sky turned red.

Will the same scenario be repeated many times during this war?

Now we are behind the Mannerheim-Line, our 2nd company is positioned here in Mälkölä village.

I didn't get much sleep during the night and nor will I get any sleep now either because airbombs are pouring down on these villages.

We have several anti-craft -batteries here and at least 4 planes are shot down. I guess we will stay in the same house next night also since we don't have any trenches."

18.2.40
"Last night russkie airplanes dropped few of their bomb cargos on this village. During the day we put up tents in the forest, it's a safer there. We also built a few lines. Other than that the russkie planes didn't celebrate much here anymore because our cannons seem to work, many pilots ended their flights forever.

It is pretty peaceful here, a few grenades explode every now and then. Our guerillas are keeping the neighbours further away so that they don't get closer to our current positions yet.

These positions will surely endure a big clash. We have casemates made of beton here, they can take a 200 kg airbomb. And if something is strong it's our Mannerheim-line.

We did afterall endure the horrible furnace in Summa, the attacks with immense forces that lasted for several weeks.

In the evening we got an order that we won't move to the tents, that we stay in houses and start digging trenches during the night. Sutela's entire company was building a line in the evening and night."

19.2.40
"In the morning I was again putting up lines. Now it's again a bright day like it has been for a longer time. Russkie fighter planes make sure that we don't want to be outside, otherwise we quickly get a shower of grenades.

Bomb planes haven't much dared to celebrate in these areas.

We are moving into another house. This is in the outskirt of the forest and a little smaller than the earlier one. It's still unclear where we start digging trenches so we have only rested.

It feels a bit unsafe to live on the ground after being used to live underground for months already.

In the evening our group had to build a 3 km long LED-line. I didn't have to go with them but I was put in the defect troop at the same time.

It just feels fun to start sleeping in a warm cottage."

Kunzit
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Location: Finland

Re: Sgt. Väinö Orpana's diary from Winter War

Post by Kunzit » 20 Mar 2015 15:25

20.2.40
"We fixed lines all morning and organized all the equipment so that they would be in order when needed (reels etc.) Ltn. Hämäläinen and some other men decided the locations of trenches so we will start digging in the morning.

Topi and I skiied and went to say hello to the boys from JaegerBattalion 2, they are near us, but they were just heading back to rest. I saw Lallukka, Mässelin and some other pals. We saw Joronen, Teräväinen and Tahvanainen yesterday.

I almost didn't recognize the boys, they were so black and bearded, yet they were cheerful.

They had also been in very tough battles in Oinaala and forced to several counter-attacks. And many from other companies had fallen.

Now it's 9 p.m., we have a roasted lamb in the oven and wait for the mail, which we haven't received here at all during this hassle.

I just came from the yard and at the moment there are 3 of our own bomb planes in the air. It is very nice during evening and night to hear that your own planes are in action. It's a sign that we get more than just moral support."

21.2.40
"We started to dig a trench right in the morning. Although the day is bright it doesn't matter, since the trench is located in the forest where it is well protected from air.

The earth shook again this morning when one cargo of bombs after another dropped down, there were hundreds of planes in the air.

Grenades have also started to drop in this village, but our own batteries have also been very active and there are several of them here at the moment.

In the afternoon we got informed that our own fighters are coming here, however we haven't seen them in this area. After noon it started to snow heavily, something we have been waiting for a long time.

We hear noise of a tough battle from the front, russkies try to attack again.

We hear a loud artillery fire and our batteries are firing non-stop.

In the evening we demolished a barn to make walls in the trench. It was a very sooty job and the sauna is heating up as we speak.

The boys just came from digging the trench and said that it is filled with water so they can't dig deep enough. We probably have to make more above the ground.

Now the arrangements are so far that 3 of the trenches are getting warmer."

23.2.40
"We continued building the trench. I carried timber logs, others worked with the roof. We already got the timber logs on the roof and the boys already went there for the night to get warm.

Immense artillery fire all day long, not 10 seconds went by without a grenade exploding. Our own batteries on the hill had a big part in it. We have learned that masses of infantry doesn't matter, even attacking tanks don't matter. The only factor that have an impact on our boys is the flight department and the artillery. But we have improved even in those departments. We got a lot more cannons, also fighters. They silence the enemy's huge superiority.

We just got information about today's battles on this front. Russkies attacked in Salmenkaitaa and between Muolaa and Äyräpääjärvi. Our boys destroyed two battalions in Salmenkaitaa and lots of prisoners surrendered, most of them are 17-year old boys. We also stroke back in Äyräpää and Muolaa destroying about 30 tanks.

Our boys used antitank-rifles today for the first time, they are new to russkies and have proved out to be very efficient, we shot two tanks to pieces with them. They lessen the efficiency of the tanks.

It really is a miracle how our positions can endure a drumming firing that has continued several days non-stop. But this war is also an equally huge miracle. When a 3,5 million population is fighting against a 180 million giant population. Yet we trust that justice will win."

24.2.40
"The artillery fire is remarkably lamer today. The other day russkies occupied 2 beton nests in Salmenkaitaa. On the other hand they didn't matter much. Today they have again a break in battles, russkies have fallen and 4 of their artillery cannons were destroyed, maybe that's why the artillery fire was lamer. They just informed that apparently 45 russkie fighters were forced to land when the heavy snowing started, 35 of them were shot down. If it's true it's a good thing.

Our trench is now ready and some of the boys already moved in there. We are going to live here until the grenades come too close. It is more homey here than underground. It's snowing so there is no air danger.".

25.2.40
The morning weather was bright and russkie fighters immediately appeared with their cargos of bombs and they bombed harshly for example this village in Mälkölä without any significant results.

Fierce battles still continue here. Our boys from Summa-area have retreated. They are already in Kämärä. Meaning 18 km from Vyborg.

It's no wonder if they had to retreat, because no armament can endure artillery fire and airbombs for weeks.

But the game is not over yet, russkie ammunition and soldiers won't last forever, that's why there is still a chance for a happy solution. "It's better to be hanged than to live a slave's life."

26.2.40
Almost the entire communication division has moved to the trench, only Kainulainen, Kumpulainen and I live in this house.

A bright day again. Russkies bombed the village again. We looked from the window when cargos of bombs detached from the planes and dropped down lifting huge statues of soil and smoke in the air. Several bombs dropped 200 meters from us and our trench got bombs 15 meters away.

Ghastly thundering all day long. They managed to put the elementary school on fire, nothing else as far as I know. Topi and I will stay here for one more night because there is no room in the trench and the other trench is not ready yet. Boys will build the other trench next night.
Note: The work building trenches was in vain, because the situation on the front got quickly worse. Not in Mälkölä where Väinö was but on the right side on Vuoksi shore. JR 6 fought there and asked for extra manpower from the division because all the reserves had been used. The division informed harshly that all attacks had to be repelled.

The division asked for help from their superiors but the Army gave the same reply. There is no help available, however the lines have to be defended.
27.2.40
We worked with the trench. Huge bomb holes on the road and near the trench. We couldn't continue working during the day due to the air danger.

Topi and I dug a corridor in the trench all morning. They rumour that we have to leave. Building the trench will not continue.

Apparently russkies are already near Vyborg and that may be the reason why we have to retreat again.

It's not sure yet, but the rumour is that we retreat to Antrea, near Kuparsaari. We would then have a lake line which is a pretty good defense line.

But will even that endure the horrid superior power, it's an enigma and Finland's destiny may even depend on that.

Still it's good that we have tried our best when fighting against that giant. If we lose then we can only blame that Finland is too small to endure the attack of that 180 million giant.

It's better to fight to the last man than to surrender and become a servant for an uncivilized barbarian population.

"We don't fear the threat, nor do we fear the rising sword, this land will rather be in ashes than invaded by a stranger".
Note from editor: Confusing how Väinö thought just like FM Väinö Tanner did. Tanner said in his radio speech on 13.3.1940: "Our only flaw is that we are a too small population". Exactly two weeks before the speech Väinö Orpana expressed the same thought, using other words. Quite flattering for a 21-years old youngster.
29.2.40
We were sent to the defect troop at night, we have to fix a LED-line. I went there with Reino Nykänen.

Komulainen went with Ltn. Anttila to take care of some matter and it was close that their trip didn't turn fatal. They drove on a mine that was on the road. Anttila was riding and Topi came after him on skiis, a 3 kg TNT-charge exploded and threw the horse and the rider in the air. The horse died, but Anttila injured only his other leg. Thank God Topi wasn't wounded. It was a miracle because it could well had killed both men.

Russkies have started to move during day and night. The 2nd company proceeded on Pasuri road supported by 20 tanks. Our boys retreated to the next positions here in the outskirts of Mälkölä village.

The intention is to stall until evening and after that detach and retreat to Kuparsaari. The headquarters took off already at 7 p.m. as did the communication division also. Only Komulainen, Nykänen and I stayed so that we could dismantle the short connection after all companies had detatched.

We could leave at 9 p.m. when the companies arrived. The commander of the battalion left at the same time. Skiing weather was good so the 20 km journey wasn't that exhausting.

Kunzit
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Location: Finland

Re: Sgt. Väinö Orpana's diary from Winter War

Post by Kunzit » 20 Mar 2015 17:26

1.3.40
"We arrived here in Kuparsaari at 12.30 a.m. This Vuoksi island is connected to the mainland with a narrow isthmus.

It's relatively easy to defend, it has several blocking lines in a row. The terrain is rocky and full of hills, very beautiful landscapes. We settled in a school building. It's a new modern building.

Civilians have just recently departed, some haven't departed yet. The houses have all kinds of stuff. Even the store wasn't emptied. The boys have "evacuated" sugar and other things from the store.

We haven't got mail in a long time, we are like in a bag. We have no idea about what the situations on other fronts are. We know that fierce battles have taken place on the coast and our boys have retreated.

We slept all day because hard work starts soon. In the evening we moved out from the school across a narrow bay, the headquarters are in a chalk factory on the other side of the shore".

2.3.40
"The house we are living in is a roomy and clean house. We are living the life of gentlemen here. We have all kinds of food at our disposal. We cook different meals. We slaughter pigs, calves etc. giving us good and nourishing food.

We went to put up a line for the 3rd company's command center. A 3,5 km long line. It will certainly be a hot line once the battles start.

And then a power dinner with: ham, potatoes, sauce, lingonberry jam, pancakes and soft bread. That is really something during war-time.

We even have coffee milk for morning. Lehtonen fetched a cow from some house and he just came in with a liter of real milk after milking the cow.

And sleeping then. The bed has a cotton quilt on the mattress. I wouldn't be surprised if I saw some civilian dreams".

3.3.40
Ruskkies already fire their cannons at this village. It's a miracle that they haven't dropped airbombs.

Then again the other night when we arrived russkies greeted us with a few bombs.

They have harshly bombed Anterea station and the sugar factory, both of them are pretty much in ashes.

The thunder of machine guns and rifles is close to us. A fierce thunder comes from the right side, russkies are seriously pressuring. We went again to put up a line for the 2nd company, the distance is as far as it was yesterday also, looks like we have to work overtime if grenades come more often.

Russkies have occupied a small hill on the right side and our 2nd company is going there next night to make a counter-attack. The order we got is not to give them an inch.

We heated up the sauna and got a good heat when bathing. Now life is normal again and sleep comes easily. We hear the buzz of airplanes outside, even russkies have learned how to fly at night and they buzzed all night at least at this frontline.

4.3.40
We started to dig a trench and the ground is hard as a diamond. But we have no choice, grenades poured all afternoon to this village. Russkies are already attacking our positions flatout. They didn't give us much time to rest.

In the dusk another company's line broke down. Kumpulainen and Lyytinen went to fix it and called for help.

The firing was so harsh that they couldn't move at all, they had been soaking wet in a snowbank for two hours already. Apparently russkies fired with tracers so that they could see what the bullet penetrates. Jäspi and Nykänen went to help the boys because the line had to be fixed no matter what.

The weather was rainy today so planes didn't celebrate. We heard the buzz of tanks all the way here. Those damned they try hard.

We even got mail this morning. A huge amount of packages and letters were burned in Ristiseppälä because they didn't have time to grab them when retreating.
Note: Väinö's battalion was now fighting on winter war's 3rd and last defensive line. The line was Viipurinlahti, Viipurin-Tali-Kuparsaari- line.

Väinö didn't know that the Red Army would attack on this 60 km long line with the 18th division and 730.000 soldiers. The amount was two times bigger than Finland's entire army.
5.3.40
"I was put in the defect troop right in the morning. A grenade had cut the line. I stayed in the house all day long in case lines would break, the others were digging a trench.

Russkies are putting a hard pressure on us in our section. Especially on the 2nd company. It's not easy to defend without trenches. The losses are quite huge.

Today two were killed and 10 wounded, they were all from the 2nd company. We are not fighting against the russkies, we are fighting against their artillery. The artillery fire is so harsh on our fronts because we don't have trenches or dugouts and the ground is rocky, hence the impact of shrapnels is very big.

If there wouldn't be so much artillery then the soldiers couldn't invade and would instead be swept clean by our rifles and gunmachines. 3 russkies threw their rifles and surrendered, two of them were shot and one has been brought to our headquarters. He is a very cheerful and strong Ukrainian.

He told that he saw flyers about how prisoners aren't shot and how they are well taken care of in Finland. They decided to try.

He said that there would be a lot more coming, but they don't dare to leave because their own men will shoot them. He also told that they are losing a lot of men, if there are 50 men in the morning there are only 20 men left in the evening.

He said that he came to give his rifle since Finland has promised to pay 300 rubles for each rifle. Major Vänttinen gave immediately 50 rubles to him and promised to pay more later on.

The prisoner was very happy".

Kunzit
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Location: Finland

Re: Sgt. Väinö Orpana's diary from Winter War

Post by Kunzit » 20 Mar 2015 22:16

6.3.40
"It's snowing again so we can continue working in peace. Russkies are still attacking, many men were wounded today and I think someone even died.

Our boys are mainly injured in grenade fire. Yesterday our fighters dropped a russkie fighter somewhere on the ice. The boys went there to take a look, the plane was partly burned and the pilot was also burned inside the plane.

It had four machine guns and they all fired forward. Today we saw three of our own fighters circulating above our heads. We could clearly see the swastikas. I wanted to scream "yahoo".

Shortly before that some russkie gadget was in the air spotting and giving targets to the artillery. It got a very warm departure. Our fighters are fast and our pilots are dare-devil boys who don' hesitate to attack even an entire squadron if needed.

Russkies shoot their grenades pretty close already. They whistle when flying over the trench and one of them landed 200 meters away".

8.3.40
"Today was a sad day for us. Our good buddy Lauri Lyytinen gave his life for our homeland. Kumpulainen was injured from the same grenade. They were both in the defect troop and got caught in the middle of cannon fire with such a sad consequence.

Although it's completely natural that someone always dies in the war, it still hurts very much when a good buddy dies.

Lassi (Lauri Lyytinen) and I were together for 1,5 years. Starting from our military service to this day. He was a young, cheerful and careless 18-year old boy. He was the youngest of our gang and the first one who died. Who's turn is next?

This is war, brutal and merciless war. Lassi wasn't the only one in our batallion who died, about 30 men from our battalion died and injured. What will the price for our freedom be? We have given heavy sacrifices but the war still hasn't ended, we don't know what it still demands from us.

We cannot bend in this matter, only go ahead with courageous minds. No matter what our fate is. We cannot give up, hence we will fight to the very last man if necessary."

9.3.40
We finished the trench by noon and moved there immediately. Grenades fly everywhere all the time.

The horrid drumming goes on from morning to night. Many houses and lodges got bull's eyes. The amount of dead and wounded grows bigger every day. Until this morning 75 are dead or wounded and today we got at least ten more.

Our line was constantly broken. Lokkiluoto and Taimiaho, who has replaced Lyytinen, were first in the defect troop. They stayed there for many hours and immediately after they returned a line was broken again. Now it's my and Kainulainen's turn and there is work more than enough. We made 20 connections but they always broke again.

Grenades whistled in the air like in a whistling concert. It's a miracle if none of us get in a tough spot on this line. It has already taken two men, who's turn is next and how soon?

Russkies have changed their strategy a lot during this war. First they tried with huge masses and tanks with a very bad result. After that they attacked in the shelter of armored sledges and tried to destroy our positions with airbombs, but that didn't work either.

Now they are banging their artillery and use less infantry. They have more cannons in the frontline than we have machine guns and they also don't spare bullets. Even this doesn't affect the Finns, although we have big losses. Wonder what their next strategy will be?
Editor's note: Who's turn is next time and how soon, Väinö asks without knowing that he only had two days to live. During these days the losses for Finns grew horribly throughout the whole frontline. At this day (9.3.) 619 Finns died.
10.3.40
We are back to living in trenches. It feels so safe here under the ground.
Editor's note: The handwriting changed after Väinö's last comment. His buddies on the front have written the rest.
The russkies reminded us again this afternoon with 20 Howizer bullets that landed 100 meters away. That's how they always bang, but yeah, there is room enough on these hills.

This Sunday turned slowly into evening. I made coffee for Väinö and me at 9 p.m. We should still stay up and wait for the mail, which is the most interesting thing in this whole warfare.

Väinö explained to us very fatherly how they use these long-range cannons in this war, as if I hadn't been present in the huge artillery firing that continues non-stop every day. So far my life has been spared, wonders of wonders.

Today's scribble was written by Corporal Klaus Jäspi alias Klasu".
Editor's note: Why did Klaus Jäspi all of a sudden start to write in Väinö's diary in the eve of Väinö's last day alive?

Did Väinö ask someone else to write? Did Väinö give a subtle hint to his buddies in the trench to end the diary if something bad would happen to him in the war?

We will never know the truth. But something strongly ominous happened in the trench on Väinö's last day. Väinö's last words were: "It feels so safe here under the ground".
11.3.40
Väinö Orpana's black diary ends when he dies. His buddies filled in the last pages.
"We left at 9 a.m. to the house to get meat and each one of us wrote about half a dozen letters on the same trip. The defect troop was alerted at 2 p.m. and we took off briskly like always despite russkie grenades.

We skiied with an enormous speed, Väinö was first and I came after him. About 1 km from our destination we got caught in a fierce artillery fire. We lied as close to the ground as we possibly could. But when the ammo from the cannon dropped 3 meters away from us, Väinö said "I got hurt".

I ran as fast as I could to a trench 50 meters away to get a medical man to give all possible help.

But when I got back to Väinö he didn't answer my questions anymore. He had left this wormy world's business.

When writing this I am very sad, because I lost my best buddy.

We are all going to have a silent moment in memory of our best and most decent buddy during the evening service here in the trench.

I will collect Wäinö's all civilian things and put them in in one package, which I will give to this battalion's Pastor. He will forward them to the closest family.

In the trench 11.3.40
Res. alikers. Toivo Komulainen
kpk N:o 27 M8701
Siviiliosoite Kuhmo kk."
This is how it ended, 21-year old Väinö Orpana's winter war that lasted 103 days. This is the most accurate description of Väinö's last moments. Toivo (Topi) Komulainen witnessed his death from close.

Väinö's name is mentioned for the first time in the Communication Unit's war diary. "The artillery keeps on pressuring, Sergeant Orpana died while helping to fix a line with Corpral Komulainen, the line got fixed".

In the trench they mourned the loss of a very much loved friend. Apparently Väinö had encouraged others to also write letters. His good friend Toivo Komulainen respected his wish, grabbed a pen and wrote the last page in Väinö's diary.

The end. In memory of Sergeant Väinö Orpana, may he rest in peace :cry:

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Juha Tompuri
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Re: Sgt. Väinö Orpana's diary from Winter War

Post by Juha Tompuri » 21 Mar 2015 20:53

Thank you for sharing that and for your translation work.

Regards, Juha

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