Map of Suomussalmi area
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 place.
(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.)
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The Finnish build
As early as Dec 13th, the HQ of P-SR had requested more troops when
the 163.D proved out to be too strong for the Finnish troops in the
area to break. The Finnish General HQ had denied the requests to move
additional troops in the Suomussalmi area. After the P-SR renewed
their request, Mannerheim decided, on 19 Dec, to attach the new
9th division (from now on 9.D in the text) to the P-SR. The division
was to be used "...to break the surrounded enemy in Suomussalmi."
| The Finnish 9.D was far from a normal strength division.
It was originally the 2nd Home Replacement Division (2.Koti-T-divisioona,
in Finnish) , renamed to be the 22nd division. On 20 Dec, the order
to attach the division to the Field Army as the 9th division arrived
to the HQ of P-SR and to the HQ of the 9.D.
The division had only 2 infantry regiments, the JR 64 and 65.
The division had also the 22nd light detachment (from now on Kev.Os.22
in the text) , 22nd Pioneer battalion (from now on 22.Pion.P in
the text) with 2 pioneer companies, 22nd Signals battalion (22.ViestiP)
and 22nd transport company (22.Liik.K) . The artillery regiment
of the division (KTR 9) had only one battalion, the 1st, equipped
with artillery (12 75 mm cannons model 1902, 75 K/02) .
The plans of using the division in the Suomussalmi area were completed
on 21 Dec, in cooperation with the General HQ and the HQ of P-SR.
The P-SR HQ formed the Task Force Susi (Ryhmä Susi) , commanded
by Lt.Col. P.Susitaival, in the Ylinäljänkä - Lake Piispajärvi
direction. The TF Susi was to be consisted of JR 65, Er.P 16, TO 7
and TO Pessi, 22nd motorized Pioneer company, 8th Pioneer platoon
and some supply formations.
The JR 64 and other sub-units of the 9.D were to be concentrated
in the Suomussalmi village region, and the units already in the area
were to be attached to the 9.D.
The final instructions for the 9.D arrived on 24 Dec, where the
Soviet forces surrounded in Suomussalmi, namely in Hulkonniemi, were
to be destroyed by an attack from the west. The attack was originally
planned to commence in the morning of Dec 26, but due to delays in
transporting the troops, the attack was postponed by 24 hours.
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and the battles between 21 and 26 December
and Hulkonniemi-Palovaara road
The fighting in the Suomussalmi village had transformed into a trench
warlike shooting after the JR 27 received the defensive order on 20
On 24 Dec, the Soviet forces launched an attack against the JR
27, concentrating on the west side of the road leading south. The
attack was preceded by a 3 hour preliminary bombardment (which was
unusually accurate) with all artillery pieces of the 163.D and furthermore
helped by 12 Soviet fighters. The following attack lasted the whole
afternoon and on occasion it looked like the JR 27 couldn't hold,
and the 9.D HQ made plans for withdrawing back to the Niskanselkä-Haukiperä
waterline. But with hard efforts, the Soviet gains were restricted
to some forward strongpoints.
In the evening, the I/JR 27, TO 5 and 1.Krh.K/JR
64, were moved near the Haukiperä ferry to act as the regimental reserves.
On 25 Dec, the preliminary bombardment was even more harder than
the day before, but the infantry fighting strength of the 163.D had
diminished and the Finns had no problems in repulsing the attack.
The 163.D failed in gaining contact with the 44.D on the Raate-road,
and actions in the Suomussalmi village ceased.
As the attack was decided to launch from the west, the Os.Mäkiniemi
(detachment Mäkiniemi, consisting mainly of the JR 27 and other small
units on the eastern side of Lake Kiantajärvi) was given an order
to engage the enemy, preventing it to sent reinforcements across to
Hulkonniemi. The Os.Mäkiniemi was ordered also to keep one battalion
on reserve near the Haukiperä ferry. In fear of new Soviet counterattacks,
the Os.Mäkiniemi was strengthened by the III/JR 64, commanded by Capt.
P.Simelius , on 25 Dec, and on 26th, it was positioned on the
SE side of the village.
The II/JR 27 was positioned as the regimental reserve
near the crossroad just north of the Haukiperä-ferry, while the I/JR
27 was just south of it, as the divisional reserve. The two battalions
on contact with the enemy were given orders to launch strike team-like
attacks (i.e. attacks with small heavily armed units) on 27 Dec.
After the Finnish withdrew on 18 Dec from Cape Hulkonniemi, the
Soviet defenders improved their defenses by deploying troops along
the whole southern end of the cape (the I/JR 305) .
The Finnish activities before the attack on 27 Dec in Hulkonniemi were restricted to nightly patrols between Hulkonniemi
and Kylänmäki, blowing up and mining the road and severing cables.
On 24 Dec, the II/JR 64 took the front-line duty from the Er.P 15
and IV/KT-Pr. which were moved behind friendly lines to replenish
their stores and get some rest.
In the evening of 26 Dec, the I/JR 64 arrived
The PPP 6, which had it's 3rd company on defense along the Kovajärvi-Alajärvi
isthmus, was attached to 9.D on 22 Dec. Patrols from the battalion
made nightly attacks against Soviet columns on the Hulkonniemi-Palovaara
road and blew up bridges. A Soviet battalion, defending Kylänmäki
was identified, and the road was found to be strongly defended. A
Soviet forward base was located in the SW corner of Lake Alajärvi,
and it was completely destroyed by a strike team from 1./PPP 6.
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North of the village
As the ice road was now the main supply line for the Soviet regiments,
the 9.D HQ ordered the Kev.K Hannila (light company Hannila) to move
from the Hulkonniemi-direction to the E side of Lake Kiantajärvi.
The company arrived in Ruottula on 25 Dec. But as the supply columns
were heavily guarded, the company couldn't stop the flow of supplies.
On 26 Dec, a Soviet detachment arrived in the cape Kannikkoniemi,
and the Kv.K H was unsuccessful in it's attempts to retake the cape.
The Kev.Os. 22, led by Capt. A.Paavola , moved to the N of
the village according to the attack plan. The mission was to attack
across Lake Kiantajärvi and to reach the road running N from Hulkonniemi.
From there, it should take offensive actions in cooperation with friendly
troops in the area.
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The actions on this direction continued to be small sudden strikes
against the flanks and the encampments of the enemy.
On 22 Dec, while it looked like the Os.Mäkinen was facing only
a single battalion, the 9.D HQ attached I/JR 27, TO 5 and the 53rd
AT-platoon (from now on 53.PST.J. in the text) to strengthen the Os.Mäkinen
(consisting of Er.K Kontula, Er.K Simola, KKK/Er.P 15, TO 6 and a
pioneer platoon) .
Os.Mäkinen received also new orders. It was to
attack the Soviet battalion, and advance to the isthmi positions (the
isthmi between lakes Pyöreäinen and Kokkojärvi, the positions that
the Finns had on 7 Dec in the map "The Soviet advance towards
Suomussalmi between 6 and 8 December" in Part
I ) .
The I/JR 27 launched an attack around noon on 23 Dec. The battalion
failed in taking the isthmus, where the road was, as the Soviet defenders
had already erected some field fortifications and were supported by
tanks. The defenders also received a steady flow of reinforcements
by trucks from the east. The battalion managed to knock out one tank,
some trucks, a field kitchen (field kitchens were regarded as prime
targets by the Finns, as warm food was one of the few ways to fight
the cold) and inflicting some 100+ casualties. The attack achieved
the element of surprise, so the Finnish losses were only 2 men killed.
Right after midnight, the battalion was permitted to return.
On the meantime, the Er.K Kontula was attacking a few km on the
west of I/JR 27 and reached the road without a fight. While the company
continued west, it surprised an AT-battalion with 20 guns, which was
more or less destroyed. As the Soviets launched a counterattack from
the west, the company disengaged before nightfall.
The two Finnish attacking groups didn't have communications with
each other or with the TO 5 operating farther east.
The attack of Os.Mäkinen had hit the supply columns, encampments
and rear area of the JR 25, which was still moving towards Suomussalmi,
and the attack had inflicted serious casualties. The attack also disrupted
the attack of the 44.D, planned to coincide with the attack of the
163.D on 24 Dec. As a surprise for the Finns (and definitely for
the 163.D) , the Soviet "elite" 44th division dug in, just
under 10 km from the 163.D, fighting for it's survival with diminishing
ammo and food.
While the 9.D was preparing for the attack, the Os.Mäkinen received
a defensive order and was strengthened by an extra company, the 1./IV/KT-Pr.
The I/JR 27, which was on 24 Dec returned to Haukiperä ferry as
the divisional reserve was left out from the attack and reserved only
to the Raate-road direction, as the Soviet threat was now identified.
The Er.K Kontula and TO 6 continued their nightly sneak attacks against
the Soviet troops along the Raate-road, now fortifying themselves
along the road in platoon to company sized pockets. The Soviet activity
against the Finnish defenses in the Kuomasjärvi-Kuivasjärvi isthmus
were restricted into small scale probing attacks and harassment shelling.
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The situation on
1) the Headquarters of the Finnish 9th division
2) Detachment M (Mäkinen)
3) 16th Separate Battalion
4) 6th Bicycle battalion
5) 4th battalion of the Field Replacement Brigade
6) 3rd battalion of the 65th regiment (JR 65)
7) 22nd Light detachment (Kev.Os.22)
8) Light company Hannila
9) Recon detachment 7
10) Recon detachment Pessi
11) the Headquarters of the Soviet 47th Corps
12) Soviet 81st infantry regiment
13) 14th Transport Regiment
14) 3rd battalion of the 662nd regiment (JR 662)
15) 246th Pioneer battalion
16) 298th Medical battalion
17) 13th Road construction battalion
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of the Finnish 9th division
27 - 30 December
After Siilasvuo had issued his attacking order for the 9.D, the
9.D HQ formed the Group Kari, under the command of Maj. K.Kari,
from the concentrated troops attacking Hulkonniemi from the west.
The group was to be divided into two attacking detachments. The Os.Fagernäs
(hereafter Os.F in the text) under the command of Lt.Col. Fagernäs
, commander of the JR 64, consisted of I/JR 64 (led by Capt. Mankonen)
and the IV/KT-Pr. (led by Capt. Schönberg, and attacking without the
1st company) . The Os. Harola (hereafter Os.H in the text) led by
Capt. M.Harola , commander of the Er.P 15, consisted of the Er.P 15
( now under the command of Lt. V.Karhunen) and the II/JR 64
(led by Capt. L.Räsänen) . Both the Er.P 15 and the II/JR 64
had some elements of the battalions attached to other units, so they
hadn't the normal number of companies. The two attacking detachments
received both one 37 mm Bofors AT-guns (the only two that the 9.D
The plan was that Os.F would advance along the southern edge of
Hulkonniemi with the ferry as the objective, destroying the Soviet
infantry and artillery positions in the progress.
The Os.H, on the left, was to advance to the Hulkonniemi-Palovaara
road. After securing the road to the north, the main elements would
continue their advance towards the ferry.
The Group Kari was to receive support from the
1./KTR 9 (first battery/9th artillery regiment armed with 4
x 75 mm guns) and the 2.Krh.K/JR 64.
When the battalions moved to their jump off points, in the early
hours of 27 Dec, the attacking battalions, which had the crucial
part to play in the attack, hadn't had sleep for 48 hours. While they
had "visited" the rear area, there just hadn't been time
for rest. The temperature had fallen near - 30º Celsius on 26 Dec.
The PPP 6 received an order to attack around the northern end of
Lake Pirttijärvi (without the 3rd company which was defending the
Lake Alajärvi - Lake Kovajärvi isthmus) and after reaching the road,
continue south. During the evening of 26 Dec, the battalion moved
near the northern end of Lake Pirttijärvi. At 0000 hrs, a new order
arrived, where the battalion was ordered to attack around the southern
end of Lake Alajärvi. The lack of radios (runners were virtually the
only method of communicating) was again felt. As a result of the long
lines of communications, the battalion was at the ordered time too
far in the north, as the most recent plans required.
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Before dawn, the 9.D was ready to attack. The "Schwerpunkt"
of the attack was in Hulkonniemi, where 4 battalions (none of them
had all their companies) were to attack. Alongside them, were the
PPP 6 in the north and the Kev.Os. 22 (3 companies strong) attacking
across Lake Kiantajärvi, a total of 6 battalions formed the attacking
group of the 9.D and the 3 battalions near the Suomussalmi village
formed the engaging group, while the Raate road was defended by a
battalion. The divisional reserve consisted of one battalion.
Only one company, the Kv.K Hannila, was to block the Soviet ice
road along Lake Kiantajärvi.
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The battalions in Vuokkiniemi (the cape just west of Hulkonniemi)
started their advance at 0730 hrs under the cover of foredawn and
a 8 minute preliminary bombardment from the field gun battery and
the mortar company.
The IV/KT-Pr. spearheading the attack of the Os.F took the westernmost
Soviet strongpoint after an one hour fight. During the morning, the
battalion advanced, destroying Soviet shelters, machine gun nests
and artillery positions in vicious fights, and arrived to the west
side of the clearing with several houses, near the SE tip of the cape.
There the attack came to a halt under heavy fire from the Soviet field
fortified positions. Fagernäs ordered the I/JR 64 to attack the Soviet
strongpoint in a little rise with a group of buildings, which blocked
the IV/KT-Pr. While it was getting dark, the I/JR 64 arrived and the
combined attack started. The attack failed and the rise was left under
Soviet control for the following night.
The Os.H had Er.P 15 leading the way, arrived during the morning
at the road, but was unable to secure it as a Soviet counterattack,
supported by tanks threw the battalion back. In the evening, the II/JR
64 attacked south of Er.P 15 and after a three hour fight, it succeeded
in securing the road. Further attacks were canceled for the night,
and roadblocks were erected to shield the Finns from north and south.
The lone 3./Er.P 15, advancing on the left flank of Os.H, arrived
to the road and deployed for defense. The company repulsed all Soviet
counterattacks launched during the afternoon and evening of 27 Dec.
The company successfully defended the northern flank of Os.H until
nightfall 28 Dec. As the company hadn't achieved contact with the
main elements of Os.H (the commander had no information whether the
attack had succeeded or failed) because of a Soviet strongpoint SE
of the company's position, and as also the supply situation was deteriorating,
the company disengaged.
In the evening of 27 Dec, the 9.D HQ moved it's reserve, the I/JR
27, from it's position from the Haukiperä ferry to Kurimo, behind
the Group Kari.
In Suomussalmi village, the JR 27 was periodically bombarded by
artillery. The Finnish strike teams achieved only marginal success,
and the 163.D was at first able to move additional reinforcements
across Lake Kiantajärvi to Hulkonniemi.
The Kev.Os.22, which was avoiding contact with Soviet columns, managed
to cross the Lake Kiantajärvi in the evening, north of Suomussalmi
village. It advanced via Sopala and arrived to Juurikka. As the detachment
continued it's advance, it met some Soviet patrols. In the darkness,
the unit lost it's cohesion, and scattered, abandoning it's machine
guns. The detachment was rallied during the morning of 28 Dec.
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- Palovaara road, north of Kylänmäki
The PPP 6 launched it's attack around the northern end of Lake Pirttijärvi
at the same time with Group Kari in the morning, arriving to the road
an hour later. The 2nd company (hereafter 2.K in the text) turned
north, and after reaching the Lake Ala-Kuurtonen, it erected a roadblock
and deployed for defense. It had no problems in repulsing Soviet company
sized counterattacks from the north.
The 1.K continued south. It met a Soviet company
at Lake Kivijärvi and was engaged in an intense fire fight. Only after
the Soviet company disengaged, could the 1.K resume it's drive south
reaching the hilly terrain at a small lake (Syväjärvi, not visible
on the map) in the morning of 28 Dec. As the terrain favored defense,
the company halted and repulsed the repeated Soviet attempts, supported
my mortar and artillery fire, to open the road north.
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In Hulkonniemi, during the night between 27th and 28th, a few sporadic
small skirmishes were fought, and some stray cases where movement
was detected towards Lake Kiantajärvi.
Before dawn, the Finns were attacked by a few Soviet
aircraft, and it seemed to the Finns that yet another Soviet counterattack
was coming, so the troops deployed for defense.
But the counterattack never came. Finnish sentries in Kirkkoniemi
and Vuoriniemi saw that the Soviet units had started to pull out from
Hulkonniemi. The retreating formations were protected with tanks and
air cover. The Finnish small arms fire, from the two previously mentioned
capes, couldn't reach them.
After the reports of the major Soviet withdrawal was confirmed,
the battalions received hurried attack orders. The Er.P 15 was the
quickest to attack, reached the shore of Lake Kiantajärvi after an
one and a half hour fight. After that, during the afternoon, the battalion
attacked a strong Soviet strongpoint on it's northern flank and took
Around noon, a Soviet column some 4 - 5 km, consisted of around
2 000 men, 20 guns, 6 tanks and 48 trucks passed Cape Kannikkoniemi
and continued north. The Kev.Os. 22, was unable to stop or even harass
effectively the column, as it had no machine guns. (As the detachment
was out of supply and the men very uneager to fight, the detachment
crossed Lake Kiantajärvi during the afternoon. Later, on 29 Dec, the
detachment was sent near Ämmänsaari for refit.)
The JR 27, advanced and took the Suomussalmi village,
destroying some lonely resistance pockets, that were left behind.
The regiment received a defensive order from 9.D HQ, and no immediate
pursuit was launched.
Around noon, the II/JR 64 broke the resistance of the Soviet delaying
force, covering the retreat, after a short fight. The II/JR 64 advanced
with the battalions of Os.F, meeting only light resistance, and reached
the ferry during the afternoon. Contact across the lake with the JR
27 was established at 1600 hrs. The whole southern end of Hulkonniemi
was abandoned by the Soviet defenders, leaving only 3 tanks, a horse
drawn baggage train and scores of different small arms behind.
While the Hulkonniemi cape was clear of the enemy, in the north,
near Kylänmäki, were still a substantial number of Soviet troops.
Group Kari redirected some of it's troops towards north. The I/JR
27, the divisional reserve in Kurimo, was attached to Group Kari around
noon, and it was ordered to advance via Juurikka (now empty after
the Kev.Os. 22 had left) to Sopala. There it's mission was to prevent
any Soviet retreat attempt from Kylänmäki. The battalion crossed the
Hulkonniemi-Palovaara road, at the same spot that the 3./Er.P 15 had
held some hours ago, arriving to Sopala late that evening without
The Er.P 15, now fighting for the fifth day without a rest, was
ordered to attack along the road north, and destroy a Soviet blocking
the road. Just before midnight, after a preliminary bombardment by
the mortar platoon, the battalion attacked and overran the position,
annihilating all the defenders who fought fiercely in the desperate
situation. After the objectives were met, the exhausted battalion
deployed for defense. Other tired units of Group Kari, were resting
around Hulkonniemi and Kurimo.
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North of Suomussalmi
The 163.D had prepared their retreat quite well. The Kv.K Hannila
was the only Finnish unit, north of Suomussalmi village and on the
eastern side of Lake Kiantajärvi. Since 26 Dec, the company was engaged
with the Soviet troops holding Kannikkoniemi and with the detachments
protecting the Soviet traffic along the ice road. As the long retreating
column passed it's positions on 28 Dec, in the absence of heavy weapons,
it couldn't do anything else, but to report any sightings. (During
the following days, the company's area of operations was enlarged
to include the cape just north of Kannikkoniemi, and patrols were
sent to near the area where Kiantajärvi forks, locating a large Soviet
encampment in the area. After harassing the traffic along Lake Kiantajärvi
by patrols and shooting, the company was ordered to return to Suomussalmi.)
Later in the evening of 28 Dec, the Soviet troops in Kannikkoniemi
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- Palovaara road north of Kylänmäki
The 3./PPP 6, deployed along the Kivijärvi-Alajärvi isthmus, joined
the attack around noon after a exchanging fire periodically with the
opposing Soviet forces. After the Soviet forces disengaged, the 3.K
advanced, coming within 500 meters from the Kylänmäki crossroad in
the evening. There it had to stop, as the Soviet resistance stiffened
A Finnish detachment, formed of supply and maintenance personnel,
2 platoons strong, attacked around the southern end of Lake Alajärvi.
The detachment gained some ground, but it too wasn't able to reach
the road itself.
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on 27 and 28 December, in and near
The actions of the PPP 6 during the same time
are shown on the map below.
3) ice road
4) individual houses, church
5) Soviet lines and actions on 27 Dec
6) Finnish lines and actions on 27 Dec
7) Soviet retreat and lines on 28 Dec
8) Finnish actions on 28 Dec
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In the morning of 29 Dec, Group Kari was on defense, where the
Er.P 15 had advanced in the previous day. The Group had also the I/JR
27 near Sopala preventing Soviet retreat.
After the 9.D HQ had made new plans, around noon
new orders were issued. The JR 27 (the 1st and 3rd battalions) was
to attack from the east towards Kylänmäki, and the IV/KT-Pr. was to
attack along the Hulkonniemi-Palovaara road north.
The 3./PPP 6, resumed it's attack in the morning, but even while
most of the Soviet forces there had already left, a small but heavily
armed rear guard prevented the company from reaching the crossroad.
During the afternoon, the IV/KT-Pr. advanced without a fight to
the Kylänmäki crossroad where it met the Soviet rear guard. In the
evening, it established contact with the III/JR 27 which had arrived
to the scene via Juurikka. The two battalions resumed their attack
north together, and by morning of 30 Dec, they had broken the defense
of a mixed force of supply, artillery, transport personnel still in
the area. At the same time, they established contact with the PPP
In the early hours of 29 Dec, the I/JR 27 attacked NW from Sopala.
During the morning and the day, it advanced most of the way, fighting
wandering groups of Soviet stragglers in the confusing dark forest.
A Soviet group some 50 men strong, surprised the baggage train of
the battalion, but as the starved Soviet soldiers stopped to scavenge,
a counterattack by Finnish supply personnel killed the group to the
last man. One large organized retreating formation was met at around
1000 hrs, leaving some 300 Soviet corpses, 8 guns, around 50 trucks
and over 100 horses. Delayed partly by the bad terrain and the darkness,
the battalion arrived near Lake Syväjärvi (not in the map, located
in the NE corner of the Soviet perimeter in Kylänmäki) in the morning
of 30 Dec, establishing contact with PPP 6 and III/JR 27.
|| The fight around Kylänmäki had
ended. With light casualties, the 9.D had destroyed the bulk of the
III/JR 662, 14th Transport regiment and the 246th Separate Pioneer
(On the left: an abandoned Soviet column near Hulkonniemi
Picture source: "Talvisodan Historia 3",
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on 29 and 30 December, in and near Kylänmäki
This map shows the Finnish
positions on the Raate-road, and the Soviet escape routes.
The SissiP 1 (Ranger battalion
is probably the closest English equivalent) arrived to Suomussalmi
on 28 Dec, and was immediately sent to strengthen the Os.Mäkinen.
The battalion was to defend the western shore of Lake Kuivasjärvi
and to start extensive strikes against the immobile 7 km long
column, which held the bulk of the 44th division.
It also shows how far north
the Os.Kuistio went, while chasing the retreating Soviet columns.
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The first orders to begin chasing the Soviet forces on Lake Kiantajärvi
were given during the night between 29 Dec and 30th. From the III/JR
64, the reserve of JR 27, a detachment was formed. The detachment
consisted of a machine gun platoon, moving with 5 trucks and having
as additional support weapons one AT-gun and an AA-machine gun.
The detachment was led by Capt. H.Kuistio, and it was to
drive to the northern end of Lake Kiantajärvi. The detachment set
out before dawn, and moved along the eastern shore. The detachment
had problems right from the start as the lake was covered with thick
snow (they weren't moving along the ploughed ice road). Capt. Kuistio
was forced to return 3 trucks, and continued it's mission with 2 trucks
(one truck armed with 2 mg's and 2 smg's and another truck with a
twin AA-mg and 2 smg's) . They encountered a kilometer long column,
near the Lake Kiantajärvi fork. The Finns surprised the column (that
was probably the first time, when they saw a truck used by the Finns)
by moving close to it and opening a murderous fire from close range.
The column was consisted of 500 men armed with rifles, moving in a
sparse double file. The massacre lasted 20 minutes, with only some
100 Soviet soldiers escaping. The detachment lost one man badly wounded.
A grim end to the last large group of Soviet soldiers who had left
On the way back to the Suomussalmi church, the detachment met some
small groups of Soviet soldiers, which were more or less destroyed.
During the 30 Dec, the only Finnish air support sortie was flown,
as two Bristol Blenheims bombed and strafed a Soviet column on the
ice of Kiantajärvi.
After the fighting in Kylänmäki had ceased, the PPP 6 was attached
to TF Susi, and the battalion received an order to clear the road
and the nearby areas up until Palovaara. The battalion advanced, while
hunting down small groups of stragglers, and made contact with a JR
65 company on 1 Jan.
The road was quite badly damaged in the fighting, and the repairing
took a few days. On Jan 4th, the road was in good enough condition
to be used by trucks, and a direct road connection between the 9.D
and TF Susi was open. On Dec 3rd, the search for Soviet stragglers
was called off, the PPP 6 was sent east towards Juntusranta and the
JR 65 to take part in the battle along the Raate road.
| The 9.D received on 30 Dec, an order
to destroy the Soviet 44th division on the Raate road. The Finnish
battalions that took part in the attacks in Hulkonniemi and Kylänmäki
were given a few days to rest.
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The attack of the
Task Force Susi
between 25 and 30 December
The HQ of P-SR planned, on 19 Dec, to destroy the Soviet opposition
by an attack from the north and NW. As the JR 64 was attached to the
9.D, the TF Susi, led by Lt.Col. Paavo Susitaival, received only the
JR 65, led by Lt.Col. K.Mandelin .
The TF Susi was consisted of JR 65, Er.P 16, 22nd Motorized Pioneer
battalion, 8th Pioneer platoon, TO 7, TO Pessi and some supply formations.
The actions in Alassalmi was during the preparations restricted
to patrols. A Soviet battalion was still deployed in Haapavaara, but
Mökinvaara (the Soviet position on the southern shore of Alassalmi)
was abandoned on 21 Dec, 6 days after the failed attacks against
the Finnish positions.
The 3./Er.P 16, which was sent on 17 Dec to interdict the traffic
from Juntusranta to Linna, attacked the road on 23 Dec, and held
it's position for a day, but disengaged in the evening because of
the Soviet countermeasures.
The fighting around Palovaara crossroad was heavy. The Finnish attack
on 22 Dec, was repulsed by the fierce resistance, but as the 2./Er.P
16, led by Lt. A.Eronen , renewed the attempt in the evening of 23
Dec, the crossroad was again in Finnish hands. The company received
some additional reinforcements from the 6./JR 65, but as the Soviet
units launched a strong counterattack from the north, supported by
artillery, the Finns had to withdraw, between the night of 24 Dec
and 25th, a kilometer to the west.
But, the Finns had managed to build roadblocks,
and thanks to them, the Finnish attack on 25 Dec, succeeded in taking
the crossroad back to the Finns, this time for good.
During the evening of 25 Dec, the elements of the Er.P 16, released
from Alassalmi arrived to Palovaara, and it was possible to increase
the patrol activity. The TO 7 and TO Pessi made numerous patrols stretching
to Lake Kiantajärvi, harassing the traffic, and ambushing columns
(at least two 30-40 horse columns were destroyed) . Again, the attempts
to penetrate the defensive ring around the HQ of the 47th Corps failed.
(Later was found out, that the Soviet units had tried to build a road
in the woods, passing the Palovaara crossroad.)
Back to Top !
The main attack
Two days before the 9.D attack begun, the JR 65 launched it's attack
from Alassalmi strait towards south. The advance was slow and cautious,
as a Soviet detachment had deployed in Mökinvaara, on the day before.
The Soviet detachment withdrew, and the I/JR 65, led by Maj. Y.Hakanen
, crossed the Alassalmi strait early in the morning. When it reached
Haapavaara, the attack stopped in the fire from fortified positions
The 9./JR 65 was sent to advance past the Soviet resistance and
to cut the road, south of Haapavaara. During the afternoon of 26 Dec, the 5./JR 65 was sent to reinforce the company.
The II/JR 65, under the command of Capt. Hyppölä , was left
to Peranka as the reserve of TF Susi.
The I/JR 65 and the III/JR 65, led by Capt. M.Flink , used the light
of the day on 26 Dec, to prepare for a night attack. Supported by
the 1.Krh.K/JR 65, the two battalions were ready to attack at midnight.
Surprisingly light resistance was met, as the majority of the Soviet
defenders had pulled out, when they found out that two Finnish companies
had cut the road south.
During the morning, III/JR 65 advanced to the hill,
took some lone prisoners and found a few abandoned vehicles.
The battalion continued it's advance south, harassed by Soviet fighter
planes, arriving to Mustajoki River in the afternoon, where it was
engaged by a Soviet company delaying the Finnish advance.
After the Soviet rear guard disengaged again, the
4./JR 65 (from the reserve battalion) moved through the positions
of the III/JR 65 and started the drive south. After advancing for
a mere kilometer, the company received an order to halt from Lt.Col.
The advance from Mustajoki River continued at dawn on 28 Dec, when
the I/JR 65 passed through the defense line of the 4./JR 65. A few
hours later, the leading elements of the battalion met a Soviet column
of artillery and supply personnel, gathering on the road.
Back to Top !
description of the battle at Hyövynvaara
The I/JR 65, led by Major Y.Hakanen,
started its advance a couple of hours after midnight from
Haapavaara. The idea behind a night attack was to surprise the
enemy, deployed along the road, and to prevent the enemy to use
his air support.
The leading platoon was led by a reservist-2nd
Lt. U.Oksanen. A half of the mg-platoon was following directly
behind his platoon.
At around 0500 hrs, the leading squad met the
enemy, and a hectic fire fight began. The mgs were brought
into action immediately. 2nd Lt. Oksanen took position
only some 20 - 30 meters from the enemy, and sent his messenger
back with a message; "We have met a large enemy force, and
we cannot continue."
Oksanen and a few other men continued their
fight near the enemy. As a Finn got wounded, and began to cry
for help, the Soviet quadruple AA-mgs, mounted on trucks,
opened fire. The AA-mgs lighted the battlefield with tracers,
the bullets striking the frozen trees, bouncing and whizzing.
The effect was psychologically devastating to the Finns, which
hadnt seen combat yet. The whole 2nd company
routed, with their company leader in front of them. As they met
Major Hakanen, the battalion commander, the panicked company leader
reported that his entire company had been destroyed. As only one
man had actually been wounded, Major Hakanen was about to shoot
the company leader as a deserter (the Major was known as a short-tempered
man) when one of his officers managed to calm his commander.
The situation was chaotic. The runner, that
Oksanen had sent, came to the battalion HQ nearly in panic, reporting
that "...Oksanen is dead and everything is lost...".
While the Soviet tracers flew over the Bn HQ, even the Bn commander
got nervous. He believed that the Soviet forced were about to
launch a counterattack, and ordered the mgs to form a defensive
square around the HQ. The battalion wouldve been nearly
helpless against a determined Soviet counterattack, but luckily
for the Finns, the Finnish leading squad had met the enemy HQ,
so the situation on the Soviet side was at least as chaotic as
on the Finnish side, probably even worse, as the same enemy regiment
was attacked from south by the Er.P 16.
While the situation was unclear and it was
still dark, Major Hakanen didnt want to visit the front-line
personally, especially since he had a company to rally. Therefore,
the command of the situation was passed on to junior officers
near the action. The few Finnish mgs, under the command
of reservist 2nd Lt. N.Valonen, still fighting
the enemy prevented the Finnish resistance from collapsing. His
men were greatly helped by some remarkably brave individuals,
who continued to fight alone, without connections to friendly
troops. The point Finnish forces were also helped by a mortar
section, led by reservist 2nd Lt. P.Helin, which
moved right behind a Finnish mg, and began to fire the nearby
enemy blindly. The target was indeed fat. Along a two kilometer
long section of the road, there were big groups of Soviet soldiers
between groups of horses and piles of other material. "...you
simply cant miss...", said the mg gunners, while also
the mortar began to lob shells against the tight enemy groups.
Meanwhile, Capt. T.Kaunisto, managed
to gather more men to the front, and the Finnish fire power was
increased. As the dawn came, a light snowfall began. The fire
fight continued throughout the hours of light, diminishing while
it was getting darker. Now, 2nd Lt. Oksanen was able
to return from his position, near the enemy, where he had spent
the entire day alone (he couldnt have left earlier, as the
Finns wouldve probably shot him by mistake). As the evening
came, it was noticed that the Soviet forces had retreated east
leaving all his heavy equipment on the road.
The Finnish losses in this engagement was only
a few dead and some wounded, while hundreds of Soviet bodies littered
the battlefield and an unknown number of Soviet soldiers died
in the forest freezing to death while lost from friendly troops.
Source: "Suomen Sotilas"
As the Soviet column opened fire with their quadruple AA-mg's,
the leading elements, and eventually the whole Finnish battalion
Picture source: "Talvisodan Historia
Thanks to the effective corporals and sergeants, enough
men were rallied to slowly bring the column under mortar and small
arms fire. The fire fight lasted the whole day. At the end, almost
the entire Finnish battalion was involved with both of the mortar
companies of JR 65. As the reserves of JR 65 was far behind, the
Soviet troops managed to slip east, towards Juntusranta, leaving
only the heavy equipment behind. After the Finns secured the road,
11 field guns, 6 AT-guns, 2 AA-guns, 2 AA-mg's, 150 trucks, 11 tanks,
250 horses and 12 field kitchens were found. Hundreds of different
small arms were gathered (and again, the Finnish troops took the
best equipment into use immediately) . The Soviet casualties were
not so big compared to the amount of captured material.
After the fight, the III/JR 65 continued south,
establishing contact with the Finnish troops defending the Palovaara
road junction before midnight.
The Er.P 16, led at the time by Capt. T.Salske
, had repulsed the attempts made by JR 662, to open the road. The
battalion had also succeeded in closing a large part of the 163.D's
supply formations between the Palovaara road junction and Kylänmäki,
preventing the evacuation of these units.
The roads around the blocked junction, were eventually
congested with different Soviet material. A surprise attack was
launched in the afternoon of 27 Dec, involving three companies,
targeting the Soviet area north of the crossroad. The attack failed
in gaining control in the area, but a Soviet column moving south
was surprised. The column sustained substantial casualties, and
hindered the already hard job of the commander of JR 662.
The last Soviet attack against the Palovaara
junction, was repulsed on 28 Dec, at the same time when the I/JR
65 was fighting only a few kilometers to the north.