Map of Suomussalmi area
| This is a general map of Suomussalmi
and the surrounding area.
As you can see, Suomussalmi was an important junction
point, from where you could advance to virtually every direction.
Note that there is a railroad depot in Hyrynsalmi.
The dark gray line is the border, the cross indicates
a parish and the gray dots pinpoints the adjacent name with the
(NOTE; the dot marks the places, regardless of
the size of the place, it's merely showing roughly the position
of the place, so that it's easier to read the map.)
Back to Top !
The situation when
the war breaks out
During the YH (the mobilization) , a total of 1 621 men gathered
to the training center in Suomussalmi. From this personnel, the 15th
Separate Battalion, Er.P 15, was formed under the command of Lt.Col.
L.Kyander . The battalion had an order (only the commander was
aware of this order) to attack across the border and advance to Vuokkiniemi
(some 30 km from the border) in case the war breaks out. The Er.P
15 was attached to the P-SR (North Finland Group) , commanded by Major
General W.E.Tuompo .
On 30 November, when the war started, the Er.P. 15 had one company
in Likoharju ( some 10 km west of Raatevaara) . This company had manned
all border stations from Puras to Lake Kuivajärvi. All other elements
and units of the battalion were in or around Suomussalmi and Ämmänsaari.
In the Suomussalmi church-area, was also one separate company led
by Capt. E.Kontula (hence the name, Er.K. Kontula) under the
direct command of the Commander of the North Finland Group (from now
on P-SR in the text) . The only Finnish unit in the Juntusranta area
was a border guard detachment (from now on RO II, Rajavartio-osasto
II, in Finnish) , which had manned the border stations on a 50 km
front. The total strength of RO II was 58 men, and in the border station
in Hossa (some 20 km north of Juntusranta) were 10 men (with one Bergmann-smg)
and in the border station in Toravaara 10 men (with one Bergmann-smg)
, so in Juntusranta, the detachment had 38 men (the detachment in
Juntusranta had only one Lahti-Saloranta lmg and 2 smg's, one Bergmann
and one Suomi-smg) . The detachment had no radio, so all communications
to the HQ were made by phone.
Back to Top !
The Soviet side
The opposing force was the 47th Corps, commanded by Corps
Commander Dashitsev , which was a part of the 9th Army,
commanded by Army Commander Chuikov . The first objective of
the 163rd (from now on the 163.D) division, commanded by Division
Commander Selendsov , was to destroy the Finnish forces at the
border and advance to the Suomussalmi village. As the second objective,
the division was to advance to Puolanka via Hyrynsalmi and Ylinäljänkä.
After reaching Puolanka, the 44th motorized division (hereafter 44.D)
was to advance rapidly from Puolanka towards Oulu, the coast of the
Gulf of Bothnia and the Swedish border ( the division had received
before the war strict orders not to cross the Finnish-Swedish border)
The HQ of the 163.D decided to execute the attack by advancing along
the Raate-road ( the road from Raatevaara towards Suomussalmi) with
a single regiment strengthened by one recon battalion and one Engineer
company, while the main elements of the division would advance through
Juntusranta to the Palovaara-crossroad (and advance partly through
nearly roadless terrain) from where some elements of the division
would continue to the Suomussalmi village and some to Peranka.
163rd division and it's attached elements
| 759th Rifle Regiment
662nd Rifle Regiment
81st Rifle Regiment
1st Bn/82nd Rifle Regiment
163rd Recon Battalion
| 230th Pioneer Battalion
246th Pioneer Battalion
13th Road Construction Battalion
| 222nd Tank Battalion
203rd Antitank Battalion
304th Antitank Company
148th Truck Battalion
14th Transportation Regiment
| 86th Artillery Regiment
365th Artillery Regiment
298th Medical Battalion
(some sources say that it's the 163rd Medical Bn)
| 225th Field Hospital
248th Signal Battalion
147th Chemical Company
204th Chemical Battalion
274th Field Bakery
Back to Top !
The actions before
- Palovaara direction
The first report of Soviet troops crossing the border came from
Karttimo (NE of Toravaara) in the morning of 30 November. In the
afternoon, the platoon-sized border guard detachment RO II, led by
2nd Lieutenant M.Elo , withdrew to the west side of the Lake
Kokkojärvi (next to Juntusranta) and in the following night further
west to Ketterä (some 5 km east of Linna) . The reports by Elo were
not believed by his superiors, and his pleads for reinforcements
were answered by messages like; "...stop being so nervous and
In the early hours of 2 December, the detachment withdrew to the
Linnasalmi strait, which was easily defensible, after a short but
heavy fight with the company sized forward element of the 163.D .
Due to the surprise, only some of the inhabitants of Juntusranta managed
to escape, while most of the people stayed in their homes.
On 3 Dec, the leading battalion of the 81st regiment (hereafter
JR 81) launched an attack to break the defenders at the Linnasalmi
strait with the support of mortars. After the attack was repulsed,
the JR 81 sent one company to flank the defenders from the north.
After fighting an enemy regiment for 4 consecutive days, the enemy
now flanking his small group, which had by now lost over 50 % of its
original strength either as killed or wounded, the embittered 2nd
Lt. Elo shot himself. The RO II, now led by Lt. M.Airanne
, was forced to withdraw to Palovaara. Now, as the Soviet forces reached
a road, the events started to evolve quickly.
The RO II, strengthened by two platoons from the Er.K Kontula (Separate
company Kontula) had to withdraw from Palovaara after a few short
battles, in the morning of 4 Dec. During the 5th, it withdrew from
two other standing points (first from Käpylä in the morning and later
in the afternoon from Kuurtola, some 10 km south of Palovaara) .
The Soviet superior numbers and the flanking maneuvers broke the
line of the defenders and the tired men withdrew to yet another chosen
delay line, while some men scattered in the woods. After the JR 662,
moving behind the JR 81, started the advance north from the Palovaara
junction towards Peranka, it finally dawned to the HQ of P-SR that
the Soviet focus was on the road from Peranka to Suomussalmi. The
Suomussalmi village and the rear area of the battalions fighting on
the Raate-road was severely threatened. The P-SR had transported the
3. / Er.P 16 (3rd company of the Er.P 16) from Kuusamo to Lake Piispajärvi
on 4 Dec. On 5 Dec, it moved through the wilderness near Linnasalmi,
but after monitoring the Soviet traffic along the road, it returned
to Peranka. As the situation was now obviously critical, the Er.P
16 (commanded by Major I.Pallari ) was ordered to move with
it's main elements from Kuusamo to Lake Piispajärvi.
The P-SR HQ's reserves, the Er.K Kontula, 2./IV/KT-Pr. (the 2nd
company of the 4th battalion of the Field Replacement Brigade) and
the Er.K Simola (formed in Kajaani) were assigned with the mission
to stop the Soviet advance towards the Suomussalmi village. During
the evening of 5 Dec, the 2./IV/KT-Pr. deployed on defense
along the Myllyjoki river, while Er.K Simola and Er.K Kontula (in
which the remains of RO II were merged) deployed on the isthmus between
the lakes Kovajärvi and Kotajärvi.
| As the situation had changed, all units
in the Suomussalmi area were gathered as Group Kyander. The name was
only short living, as in the evening of December 6th, Major K.Kari
took command of the Group, and name changed into Group Kari.
6 Dec, the 2./IV/KT-Pr. repulsed an artillery supported attack
around noon, but when a Soviet detachment outflanked the defenders,
going around the Lake Ala-Kuurtonen, the defenders had to withdraw
in the afternoon and the unit was partly scattered. The isthmus between
Lake Kovajärvi and Lake Kuivajärvi was now defended only by a mixed
detachment from Er.K Kontula and Er.K Simola (actual combined fighting
strength being around two platoons) , could hold their line for only
a mere moments when it too had to withdraw towards Suomussalmi.
| On 6 Dec, Major Kari requested the
HQ of P-SR that the Suomussalmi village would be abandoned, the evacuation
had started the same morning. During the night between 6 Dec and
7th, orders were issued to the units to withdraw into defensive positions
behind the Niskanselkä. The 1./Er.P 15 was transported by trucks to
the Kylänmäki to act as a delaying group in the Palovaara direction.
Parts of the Er.K Kontula and Er.K Simola were deployed behind the
Suomussalmi ferry with the 2./IV/KT-Pr..
The 1./Er.P 15 arrived to Kylänmäki in the early hours of 7 Dec,
almost at the same time as the Soviet forces, but it could hold it's
positions long into the afternoon before it had to retreat when the
Soviet forces, superior in numbers, now used tanks for the first time.
At 1830 hrs, the Suomussalmi village was set on fire, burning all
night. During the early hours of 8 Dec, the Finnish units had withdrawn
to the southern side of the lake, and during the same morning both
JR 81 and JR 759 arrived to Suomussalmi village.
| During these days, two companies
from the Er.P 16, commanded by Maj. L.I.Pallari , had now arrived
from Peranka to Lake Piispajärvi, and had established contact with
the JR 662 on 6 Dec. A strong attack, supported by artillery and
tanks was repulsed that same day. During the following day, a Soviet
company which had outflanked the defenders by a swing from the east,
attacked the defenders from the rear, but it too was repulsed and
the attacking company scattered.
Any offensive actions of the Er.P 16 were for now
impossible, but at least the Soviet advance towards Peranka had
Back to Top !
The Soviet JR 759 crossed the border at 0830 hrs. A short fire fight
between the small guard detachment and the Soviet troops bought enough
time for the majority of the local inhabitants to get away, and as
the guard detachment withdrew it was soon strengthened by a platoon
from the rear. Later in the afternoon, the 3./Er.P 15 had to withdraw
from it's positions as the Soviet forces sent a unit to outflank the
defenders. The guard detachments along the border (running down south
to Lake Kuivajärvi) were given orders to delay the Soviet forces in
order to buy time for the evacuation of the civilians.
The main elements of the Er.P 15 started it's advance to the border
(following the prewar orders mentioned before) . The 2./Er.P 15 deployed
along the small Purasjoki river (south of the Puras locality and some
10 km west from the border) . The Er.P 15 received an order from the
HQ of P-SR, to beat the opposing Soviet forces in an attack on Dec
1st. As the preparations were delayed, the attack was launched later
that afternoon. During that morning, the defending company repulsed
a probing attack after a two hour fight. Short fire fights between
patrols from both sides were fought even as far as Puras.
The attack was eventually canceled due to darkness
and bad weather before contact with the enemy. Right after midnight,
on Dec 2nd, the battalion received a new defensive order while the
P-SR HQ begun immediate actions to gather more troops in the area.
During the Dec 2nd, all attacks of a battalion sized force was repulsed
on the Purasjoki line. As the threat of a flanking attack via Puras
forced the transport of 3./Er.P 15 into the area, the Er.P 15 reserve
was now only a under strengthened company.
During this time, the IV/KT-Pr., commanded by Capt. V.Vehanen,
was transported to Suomussalmi on 3 Dec, and while the original plan
was that the whole battalion was to be used in the attack on the Raate
road, the situation in the Palovaara area, resulted in the change
of plans and the 2nd company was left behind as the reserve of the
On 3 Dec, the JR 759 continued it's attacks in the morning supported
by artillery. One Soviet company managed to maneuver into the Finnish
rear area by a northern flanking movement, but it was completely destroyed
in a two hour fight. In Puras, a false report of an overwhelming Soviet
force in the area was received, and the assumed threat of encirclement
forced the battalion to withdraw behind the isthmi area, east of Lake
Kuivasjärvi, where the IV/KT-Pr had deployed. The 3./Er.P 15 was left
along the trail 4 km SW of Puras.
The JR 759 didn't pursue the Finns while they withdrew from the
Purasjoki line, instead it shelled most of the day, 4 Dec the empty
Finnish positions while sending patrols to the north. The Er.P 15
had received an order to renew it's attack along the Raate road on
4 Dec, but after marching the previous night, and the still unclear
situation near Puras postponed the attack by a day.
On the morning of 5 Dec, the attack of the Er.P 15 and IV/KT-Pr.
was delayed for hours by alarming reports of strong Soviet forces
near Puras. The attack was again canceled before any significant contact,
partly because the final deployment for the attack 5 km west of Purasjoki
River was delayed by darkness and partly because of the threat from
the Palovaara direction. The 2./Er.P 15 was left behind as forward
guard (in Likoharju, only 3-4 km west of Purasjoki River) as the battalions
once again marched back into the isthmi area. The same company had
fought during the day small battles with Soviet forces supported by
artillery, but it managed to beat them back.
The situation evolved slowly along the Raate road. Before noon,
the 2./Er.P 15 withdrew from it's positions as many strong Soviet
patrols were detected on both flanks. The company withdrew first some
6 km west to Saukko and in the evening to the isthmi area. The 3./Er.P
15 was now deployed as forward guard, guarding both the Raate road
and the road to Puras. Again, the Soviet forces didn't pursue the
After a fight during the afternoon of 7 Dec, the Er.P 15 and IV/KT-Pr.
withdrew from their isthmi positions and moved to Ämmänsaari. The
last Finnish unit in the vicinity was the 2./Er.P 15 which held a
delaying position on the isthmus between Lake Kuomasjärvi and Lake
Kuivasjärvi and left late in the evening.
Back to Top !
advance towards Suomussalmi between 6 and 8 December (left map)
The general situation in the afternoon of 8 December (right map)
Back to Top !
into the area
The Commander of the P-SR had made a proposal to Mannerheim, of
assigning more troops to the P-SR. As a response to the request, in
the night between 6 Dec and 7th, a brigade was attached to the P-SR.
The brigade was formed around the JR 27, led by Col. Hjalmar Siilasvuo
who was ordered to take command of the troops in the Suomussalmi area
at 2000 hrs on 8 Dec and to destroy the Soviet troops in the area.
All the troops in the area (except the Er.P 16, fighting in Lake Piispajärvi,
which was still left under the direct command of the P-SR) , were
attached to the new Group Siilasvuo, and it received even more additional
forces. The recon detachments 5 and 6 (TO 5 and TO 6) , light company
Hannila (Kv.K Hannila) , the 17th Pioneer company (17.Pion.K) , 10th
separate Signals detachment and some supply formations.
During the Finnish build up, between 7 Dec and 8th, the Soviet
JR 81 and JR 759 didn't continue their attacks. On 9 Dec, a Soviet
regiment sized attack, supported by artillery was repulsed at the
Haukiperä-ferry (along the road south from the Suomussalmi village)
. The role of tanks in the battle was almost nonexistent, as the ice
on the lakes didn't yet support the weight of the light Soviet tanks.
In the evening of 9 Dec, the detachment Mäkinen (hereafter Os.Mäkinen
or Os.M in the text) , led by Captain S.Mäkinen (consisting
of 1st and 2nd MG companies of the JR 27, the 1.KK/JR 27 and 2.KK/JR
27) , relieved Os. Kari from front-line duty.
Back to Top !
The Finns take
After inspecting the situation, Col.Siilasvuo decided to launch
an attack from the east towards the Suomussalmi village (at the same
time avoiding a costly attack across the lake, severing the Soviet
supply lines from the border) .
Os. Mäkinen was to act as the support group, consisting of
the 1.KK/JR 27 and 2.KK/JR 27, a mortar company (Krh.K/JR 27) and
some sections from the MG companies of the Er.P 15 and IV/KT-Pr. The
mission of the Os.M was to engage the enemy across the lake and support
the attacking group.
The attacking group consisted of the JR 27, led by Lt.Col J.Mäkiniemi
, was to attack across Kuivassalmi strait and take the Suomussalmi
village. To prevent any Soviet units to attack the JR 27 from the
rear, a Os.Kontula (Detachment Kontula) was formed from the Er.K Kontula
and Er.K Simola, assigned with the mission to close the isthmus between
the lakes Kuivasjärvi and Kuomasjärvi. The TO 5 and TO 6 were to guard
the right flank of the attack, while the Kv.K Hannula (hereafter Kv.K
or Kv.K H in the text and map) was ordered to attack Kylänmäki and
cut JR 81's supply lines from the north (the attack failed, as the
Kylänmäki area was defended by an entire battalion ) . After the attack,
the Kv.K Hannila restricted its actions to patrols, which guarded
the left flank of the troops operating in cape Hulkonniemi and harassed
Soviet traffic and communications along the Suomussalmi-Peranka road.
The Os. Kari, still consisting of the Er.P 15 and IV/KT-Pr., was
left to act as the reserve of the Group Siilasvuo.
The attack was ordered to begin at 0800 hrs on 11 Dec, and the
troops began to move into the jump off positions, SW of Kuivassalmi
strait , in the early hours of 11 Dec.
Back to Top !
The attack from 11
to 13 December
While the original plan was, that the JR 27 would move NE and after
reaching the road, continue west towards Suomussalmi. The II/JR 27,
led by Capt. J.Sihvonen , was to advance on the left, the III/JR
27, led by Capt. A.Airimo , was to advance on the right. The
I/JR 27, led by Capt. E.Lassila , was to move along the road,
behind the two other battalions as the regimental reserve.
As so many times before, the planned attack was delayed due to errors
in orienteering, and so the I/JR 27 was the first to reach the road
at noon, and it met no opposition. The battalion continued west, moving
on both sides of the road. It met a small column of 6 trucks, heading
east, which was completely destroyed. In the dusk of the late afternoon,
the battalion met the first Soviet defense positions at Pihlajalampi
(the small pond on the southern side of the road, on the map below)
. The II/JR 27, which had crossed the lake some 2 km too west from
the planned point, joined the fight. The defending Soviet forces launched
a determined counterattack, which was beaten back at midnight by a
flanking attack from the north executed by 2./JR 27 and 9./JR 27.
The Os.Kontula, strengthened by a pioneer platoon reached the Kuivasjärvi-Kuomasjärvi
isthmus without opposition, and a platoon sized forward guard was
sent to Haukila, some 2-3 km from the rest of the Os.Kontula. In the
first few days, no contact was made with the enemy.
Back to Top !
The JR 27 had no supply lines open and it had spend the night without
shelter, but it continued it's attack in the morning strengthened
with the IV/KT-Pr.
The II/JR 27 attacked on the southern side of the road, while the
III/JR 27 was on the northern side, and they broke the Soviet defenses
supported by two tanks with a flanking attack from the north. Two
companies from the IV/KT-Pr., which had been attached to the III/JR
27 managed to advance near the Suomussalmi village, before a Soviet
counterattack forced them to retreat. During the afternoon, the Finnish
battalions fought their way near the road junction, where the Suomussalmi
parsonage was located (Pappila in Finnish) . After a few hour fight,
the defenders disengaged and contact was established with a detachment,
formed from military polices, which had successfully attacked across
the lake on the Haukiperä-ferry location in the evening (the previous
try, made at noon, was executed by a mixed detachment of pioneers
and supply personnel and was a failure even while it was supported
with mortars) . The JR 27 had now a usable road for supply purposes.
|| The Haukiperä ferry seen from
the south. The rubble on the foreground are the remains of the ferry
Picture source: "Talvisodan Historia 3",
The I/JR 27 continued to advance for a kilometer more, where it deployed
for defense along a streamlet in order to defend the main forces now
preparing to continue the attack in the following morning.
Back to Top !
In the morning, the JR 759 launched a counterattack from the village
along the road to SE. The attack was supported by artillery, air units
and 5 tanks. The II/JR 27, III/JR 27 and the Krh.K/JR 27 (which was
detached from Os. Mäkinen) formed a battlegroup which repulsed the
Soviet counterattack after hours of fighting.
The enemy infantry was easily separated from the tanks, which held
back the Finnish attack with their firepower. It was already afternoon,
when the II/JR 27 broke the Soviet lines on the west side of the road,
advanced to the outskirts of the village and gained a foothold from
the village itself by launching a charge. But a strong counterattack
threw the battalion back, and it withdrew back into the woods. In
the meantime, the III/JR 27 was unable to overcome it's opposition
along the streamlet. The contact between the two Finnish battalions
On the road to Pyyvaara, two companies from the I/JR 27 advanced
to the two ponds named as Kannuslammet along the road, where the companies
deployed for defense, closing the road as ordered, and they didn't
participate in the attack towards the village. The recon detachments
TO 5 and TO 6 advanced to the Vuoriniemi-cape.
Back to Top !
The actions between
11 and 13 December
|| Map legends
1. dirt road and trail
2. patrols (direction)
3. Finnish positions and attacks, 11 Dec
4. Soviet positions
5. The Suomussalmi church
6. Finnish attacks, 12 Dec
7. Finnish positions and attacks, 13 Dec
1. Detachment Headquarters
2. Detachment Mäkinen
3. 15th Separate Battalion
4. 4th Battalion , Replacement brigade
5. 2nd Battalion , 27th Infantry Regiment
6. 2nd mg-company, 27th regiment
7. Light company/Light company Hannila
8. 5th Recon detachment
9. Soviet 163rd Division
10. Soviet 759th Infantry Regiment
Back to Top !
The battles between
14 and 20 December
On December 14th, came a report from a reconnaissance plane, that
new Soviet forces were closing along the Raate-road. The HQ of the
Group Siilasvuo was still believing that it was possible to take the
village even without artillery support and proper antitank weapons.
The Finnish General HQ had attached the PPP 6 (6th Bicycle Battalion
) to Group Siilasvuo on December 13th, and it arrived in the area
on December 16th.
The Group Siilasvuo had received 3 separate companies, which were
distributed as follows; one 1./ I T/P-KR (the 1st company of the replacement
battalion , North Karelia Group) was attached to the JR 27 and the
other two, Er.K Siitonen and Er.K Huhanantti were attached to the
Back to Top !
In and around
the Suomussalmi village
The II/JR 27 attacking on the west side of the road and strengthened
with two companies from the IV/KT-Pr. couldn't break the Soviet defenders,
who made strong resistance from positions built in the ruins, potato
storage's, cellars and who had tanks to support them.
The III/JR 27, on the other hand, managed to push
itself next to the village clearing, where it too had to stop as the
defenders had a strong network of interlocking fields of fire.
Also, when the I/JR 27 reached the clearing in
the afternoon, it too had to stop.
That same evening, after the 1./I T/P-KR came, the commander of
the II/JR 27 formed a detachment of shock troops consisting solely
of smg's and lmg's. The detachment attacked the same evening, and
surprisingly made it to the village center. But a fire punch and counterattack
forced the detachment to withdraw, returning at midnight.
The III/JR 27 and I/JR 27 who had, at the same
time, made some progress, had to cancel their attack, when the
Soviet offered ferocious resistance, and because both battalions ran
out of hand grenades momentarily.
During the attack that evening-night, when things were looking good,
an untrue report that the village had been recaptured was sent to
the Finnish General HQ, which announced it to Finnish troops in the
next day. The Soviet regiment, which defended itself very skillfully
had been pushed to an area of 2 km² with the cost of 52 dead and 164
wounded for the JR 27, and the regiment was quite tired after days
of constant attack.
At the fifth consecutive attack day, the II/JR 27 managed to push
itself forward a little, while the other battalions didn't make any
gains. The 2./JR 27 succeeded in taking the Church Cape, overrunning
the defenders thereby freeing the TO 5 and TO 6 from Cape Vuokkiniemi
to other duties.
The Finnish forces were redeployed and the I/JR 27 was disengaged
and moved in reserve behind the III/JR 27.
The front was transformed into a static line, as more attention
was given to resupply the tired troops. It was decided to wait for
the Er.P 16 in the north and the PPP 6 on the road to Ylinäljänkä
to join the battle and the results from their sissi (guerrilla) actions
against the supply lines of the 163.D.
17 - 20 December
The 2nd battery of the 9th Field Artillery Regiment (from now on
2./KTR 9) , with 4 x 75 mm K 02 guns, arrived into the area,
while the rest of the I/KTR 9, commanded by Maj. G.Ahlholm
, arrived on December 19th (without the 3rd battery which had been
transported into Kuhmo) .
During the next few days, the Finnish battalions managed to gain
a bit more ground, and made two failed attacks to capture the rest
of the village.
On 19 Dec, the JR 27 received an order from Siilasvuo to take the
rest of the village with an attack on 20 Dec. After an artillery bombardment,
which was mostly inaccurate, the four attacking companies of the II/JR
27 reached the Soviet trenches. A swift Soviet counterattack prevented
any advance towards the village center, and after taking casualties,
the companies disengaged.
The III/JR 27 was stopped only 50 meters from the
Soviet trenches and had to withdraw sustaining heavy casualties. It
had become quite clear, that the JR 27 couldn't without the support
of many artillery battalions, break the clever Soviet defenses surrounded
by open terrain.
Siilasvuo accepted the proposal of the commander of the JR 27 to
cancel the attacks, especially when he heard from the P-SR HQ that
a substantial number of troops were on their way to the area.
Back to Top !
The Lake Kuivasjärvi
- Lake Kuomasjärvi isthmus
On December 14th, the Finnish forward guard was attacked by recon
detachment of 40 - 50 men. The Finnish forward guard withdrew to the
defense line of the Os.Kontula.
On 15 Dec, a Soviet company made a probing attack, which was easily
repulsed. Patrols reported that more troops were arriving and the
traffic on the Raate-road was growing.
On 16 Dec, Siilasvuo was rearranging the chain of command in the
area, and Capt. S.Mäkinen was ordered to take charge of the
Os.Kontula (thus the name changed to Os.Mäkinen) .
The detachment received one gun from the 2. / KTR 9, a 75
mm K/02, and it took part in a battle on 17 Dec, in which the
attackers were supported by 10 tanks. After losing 3 tanks, the attackers
withdrew. According to instructions from the HQ of P-SR, Siilasvuo
sent the TO 6 to the south side of the Raate road (some 10 km east
from Os.Mäkinen) , where it was to recon and hinder the traffic along
the road. Os.Mäkinen received a similar order to recon and harass
the Soviet troops along the road.
On 19 Dec, the Os.Mäkinen received additional reinforcements as
the machine gun company of the Er.P 15 (from now on KKK/Er.P 15 in
the text) . The first strikes against Soviet encampments along the
Raate road were made in the nights between 19th and 20th, and between
20th and 21st. The actions to restrict the mobility of the arriving
44th division had started, even though the HQ of P-SR hadn't yet a
clear picture of the growing threat.
Back to Top !
in and north of Hulkonniemi
On 14 Dec, Er.P 15, which had been strengthened with the Er.K Siitonen
and Er.K Huhanantti, received a new attack order. The battalion was
to cut off the road from Hulkonniemi to Peranka 2 km north of the
On 15 Dec, the battalion attacked, but it couldn't break the Soviet
positions, supported by tanks. The Er.P 15 managed to get the road
under fire, but it was unable to cut off the JR 81. On the following
night, the battalion received instructions to attack towards the ferry.
In the morning of 16 Dec, one company was left to guard the road
north, and three companies started the attack. The companies were
engaged one by one, and neither side could get the upper hand. The
attack was paused for the night.
The attack continued on the following day and one company managed
to cut the road for a moment, losing it when the Soviet defenders
launched a counterattack. The battalion was further strengthened by
the 1./IV/KT-Pr., which succeeded in taking the westernmost Soviet
strongpoint in Hulkonniemi, but was halted after that.
It became clear to Siilasvuo, that the Er.P 15, even with additional
companies, was unable to overcome the opposition in Hulkonniemi and
couldn't reach the ferry. Also, as the road running NW (between the
lakes Alajärvi and Kovajärvi) from the road Suomussalmi-Peranka had
been defended from 9 Dec onwards by a detachment 3 platoons strong,
the forward elements of the PPP 6 arrived on 17 Dec. The forward
group consisted of only 2 platoons fought a meeting engagement with
a Soviet company, and the group was scattered. Luckily for the Finns,
the Soviet company didn't pursue, instead it returned back.
On 18 Dec, the units in Hulkonniemi were ordered to take defensive
positions in the cape west of Hulkonniemi. The bulk of the PPP 6 arrived
in the area, and a detachment from the battalion advance to the Lake
Alajärvi - Lake Kovajärvi isthmus without opposition. In the following
day, the rest of the battalion (PPP 6) was ordered to take defensive
positions along the shore of Lake Kovajärvi and start to harass the
Soviet traffic running along the road on the opposite of the lake.
Back to Top !
between 14 and 20 December in and around Suomussalmi
1. dirt road, trail
2. patrols & direction
3. Finnish positions and attacks
4. Suomussalmi church
5. Soviet battalion deployed
6. the ice road
7. Soviet positions, advances & attacks
Back to Top !
As the Finnish Sissi-actions started to affect the Soviet 163.D,
the division started to utilize the traditional winter road from Suomussalmi
to Juntusranta. From mid-December onwards, a constantly growing portion
of the Soviet traffic was coming and going through it. The ice was
strong enough to carry the weight of trucks, and the 20 cm snow cover
didn't seem to bother it.
The Finns started their counteractions from mid-December onwards
to harass the traffic along Lake Kiantajärvi.
The first small detachments were sent on 15 Dec,
after the first reports came in. On 17 Dec, the 2./IV/KT-Pr. was
sent north along the east side of the lake. It moved over 20 km north
from Suomussalmi (where Lake Kiantajärvi diverges) , with the mission
to cut off the ice road and recon the area towards Linna and Juntusranta.
The five-day trip was a failure due to numerous cases of frostbite
and physical exhaustion. The company monitored the traffic and tried
to engage a truck column once, being unsuccessful in the attempt due
to long range. The company returned on 22 Dec, and the trip showed
the Finns that the 163.D wasn't dependent on it's land connections
Back to Top !
The actions of the
Er.P 16 in the north
On 8 Dec, the Er.P 16 was unable to make any significant gains towards
south at Lake Piispajärvi. After Maj. Pallari was wounded, Lt.
B.Breitholz succeeded as the commander until Lt.Col. Paavo
Susitaival assumed command on 13 Dec.
On 10 Dec, the JR 662, launched a battalion sized attack supported
by 3 tanks and artillery. The battle raged on for hours, and was finally
repulsed by a counterattack of the Finnish reserves. After the battle
began a quiet period of four days. The Finns weren't inactive. Two
recon detachments arrived from Kuusamo, TO 7 and TO Pessi (commanded
by Lt. K.Pessi ) , and immediately launched patrols to harass
the Soviet connections and traffic along the roads. The TO 7 operated
on the eastern flank and TO Pessi on the western flank.
On 11 Dec, the last elements of the battalion arrived to Lake
On the night between 14 and 15 Dec, a strong attack of 2 battalions
was launched after a preliminary bombardment of 2 100 shells (the
bombardment was inaccurate, and didn't cause notable casualties) .
One battalion attacked along the road, supported by three tanks, while
the other battalion was sent to attack the Finnish left flank and
advance to the Finnish rear area. The defenses of the two Finnish
companies were holding, while losing some ground, while the reserve
company managed, quite easily, to rout the sole Soviet company (of
the flanking battalion ) which had advanced to the Finnish rear. The
battle ended finally in the afternoon, when the Soviet forces withdrew
to their encampment areas leaving over 150 dead comrades behind. No
more Soviet attacks were made in this direction after this battle.
On 15 Dec, Er.P 16 received an order from P-SR HQ, to advance along
the road Ylinäljänkä-Linna, and cut off the Soviet units, both north
and south, from the road east. The battalion was still ordered to
hold it's positions at Lake Piispajärvi. To fulfill the order, the
2./Er.P 16 and TO 7 were transported by trucks to Ylinäljänkä on that
same day. The bulk of the battalion stayed at Lake Piispajärvi under
the command of Lt. M.Avela (1./Er.P 16) .
While some Soviet patrols had been sighted near Ylinäljänkä before
15 Dec, the area was clear when the 2./Er.P 16 arrived and checked
any signs of Soviet patrols. Under the direct command of the battalion
commander, Lt.Col Susitaival, the 2./Er.P 16 advanced to the vicinity
of the Palovaara crossroad during 16 Dec and 17th, while the weather
was terrible for skiing. Without communications to the rest of the
battalion on the left and PPP 6 on the right, Susitaival decided to
rest his weary troops and attack on 19 Dec.
Meanwhile, on 17 Dec, the 3./Er.P 16 was sent to interdict Soviet
traffic on the road from Juntusranta to Linna at Lake Saarijärvi.
In the morning, the crossroad at Palovaara was taken without a fight.
Shortly after, a small column coming from the east was ambushed and
destroyed. After that, the Soviet units started their countermeasures
on all directions.
In the morning of 20 Dec, after fighting all night and spending
the cold night without tents, the 2./Er.P 16 withdrew 3 km west from
the crossroad. The TO 7 guarding the northern flank of the company
and the TO Pessi, which was operating near Linnasalmi (the strait
near Linna) were maintaining contact with the enemy by patrols. TO
Pessi encountered a big HQ in the area (HQ of 47th Corps) , but couldn't
attack it because of the heavy guard. 3./Er.P 16 returned from Lake
Saarijärvi without fulfilling it's mission completely.
While all these actions against the Soviet communications were made
without central planning, they proved out to be effective in disrupting
the Soviet rear areas.