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Finnish  Vs  Soviet

 

The Motti's

The birth of the term,
some information about them,
concentrating on the motti's in the southern area of the Finnish IV Corps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The birth of the term "Motti" in military language

 

The term "Motti" is today a part of the Finnish military slang, and its also sometimes used in everyday language. It means today a surrounded/encircled military unit or a place, where that unit is surrounded/encircled. The term "Motti" has some older meanings in Finnish language, the most widely known is "one cubic meter of firewood".

 

There are several theories of how the term was adopted to mean what it means today. One of these (the one that I think is the most credible) is based on an article titled "Motti", written by A.Suvantola in 1952, and published in the "Suomen Sotilasaikakausilehti"-magazine.

During the Winter War, A.Suvantola served as a captain in the HQ of the 13th division as the chief of the operative department ("operatiivinen toimisto" in Finnish) .

When writing the article, he was relying partly on his memory, so even his version isn't flawless, and he admitted directly; "...at the time when the term was born, no-one had the time to think about it as we were kind of busy already and the few moments of rest were spent sleeping..."

On Jan 4th, the order to launch the counterattack, was given by the HQ of the IV Corps. It contained orders about the order of battle and preparations. The order included, in the part concerning communications, an order to establish a communications center named "Motti" in the area west of Lemetti. The center was to be established and running in one hour of the seizure of the area. It's unknown who was the officer that came up with that name or why it was even called that, but as the area, in where it was presumed to be established, was one of the largest pockets of Soviet resistance ("Lemetti läntinen", "Western Lemetti" in English) , it's quite understandable that the name was adopted to mean that pocket. The next step was adopting the term to all pockets in the area, first by the IV Corps and later on by the whole Army.

The term was quick to spread among the troops, and the Soviet soldiers in the motti's were often referred as "mottiryssä" (a rough translation in English would be "Motti-Russki") . But regardless of the exact person or time when the term was "invented", it's proven beyond doubt that the term was "born" in the IV Corps during the January 1940 and quickly spread to every corner of the country.

 

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The creation of the Motti's

Note:

This and the following sections are about the motti's and the fighting in the so-called "Motti Area" North of Lake Ladoga.

The rough location of the "Motti Area"

 

The major counteroffensive of the Finnish IV Corps, started on Jan 6th, was projected against the flank of the enemy, already deployed along the Uomaa-road. The Finns had the element of surprise on their side, since the tactical decision to conduct the attack was undoubtedly somewhat unique and the goals unlike anything the Soviet commanders had expected.

This time, the attacking Finnish units bypassed the first Soviet strong points, and continued their advance without any clear geographical secondary objectives. During the counteroffensive, and in the battles following it, many pockets ("Motti's") of Soviet troops were formed. The actual term "Motti" was born during these battles (see the following section ) .

 

Note that the Finns used encirclement as the basis of their tactics, which is understandable as the Soviet troops were deployed along the roads, in long "columns" while stretching only a few hundred meters from the road to the woods. But it's wrong to assume that the intention was to create these motti's, instead the intention was to quickly destroy the enemy.

 

 

As Major General Hägglund (later Lt.Gen) wrote after the war: "...It's important to remember, that the only "Motti" that was intentionally created was the "Great Motti of Kitilä", where the bulk of the Soviet 168th division was surrounded. The rest were more like "byproducts" of the attack, born when the Soviet commanders decided to stay put, instead of withdrawing. The creation of these numerous motti's was an unpleasant surprise for us, since we of course had hoped to achieve quick results...".

The Lemetti crossroad (facing east), picture taken in 1944
Picture source:
"Talvisodan Pikkujättiläinen", p.518

The individual motti's received many names, used during the battles (different names were used mostly to deceive Soviet intelligence) , but in time, they all received an "official" name, usually according to the nearest place-name.

On the left is a picture of the famous "Lemetti crossroad" (the photographer is facing east, towards Uomaa).

The"grave of the three Generals"lies in the woods on the other side of the crossroad, past the signs.

 

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A rough map showing the motti's between Kitilä and Uomaa, end of January

A rough map of the motti's at the end of January

The Soviet troops along the road up to the crossroad west of Lemetti wasn't yet sliced into two smaller motti's ("Lemetti crossroad" and "Regimental") .

(Note also that the motti's of "Uomaa" and "Siira" held out until the end of the war.)

In the text, the following places are names come up; Pitkäranta (which lies some 6-8 km south along the road on Ladoga's coast) and Käsnäselkä (which lies not far east from Uomaa).

 

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The defense of a Motti

(The text in this section doesn't reflect the situation in the "Great Motti of Kitilä", since almost the entire 168th division was trapped in there, making it powerful enough to even improve it's own situation towards the war's end)

 

When the motti's were "created", neither side could influence to what was actually trapped inside. It was more or less random of what was trapped and where exactly, so all motti's were unique, some had only infantry while some had mostly support elements.

In the battles more north, unlike in the Ladoga Karelia, long lasting motti's weren't created. Tolvajärvi (where the center of the enemy line was breached, followed by a fast pursuit of the fleeing Soviet forces) , Suomussalmi and Raate-road (where the enemy, along the roads, were relatively quickly surrounded and destroyed) , the actions weren't of the same nature as in the southern area of the IV Corps.
    The Finns had hoped, that a successful attack would create havoc and panic among the isolated Soviet troops. This hope proved to be wrong, and as the Finns lacked sufficient number of troops to destroy these pockets right away (nearly all troops were committed in the thrust forward) , the trapped Soviet troops had time to dig in, creating powerful pockets with all-round defense, furthermore helped by the thick snow.

 

It became quickly evident, that the individual Soviet soldier was remarkable in his ability to dig in. Regardless of the lack of proper equipment and bad conditions, the surrounded units managed to erect relatively adequate field fortified defenses (against small arms fire and light artillery/mortar fire) .

The defenders were deployed in a perimeter with very powerful all-round defense. But what they usually lacked was depth, or proper reserves. (The only exception was the "Motti of East Lemetti", which had so many tanks, that it could form a mobile reserve and create several defensive inner circles, capable of supporting the outer defensive perimeter) .

Some Motti's were even able to erect some wire obstacles, to strengthen the defenses even further. The tanks were a valuable asset to the defenders. As the Finnish IV Corps Artillery Commander Col. Snellman described in his letter to the Finnish General HQ; "...our frontal attacks meet a line of field fortified strongpoint, furthermore supported by many tanks. The tanks move along plowed roads within the perimeter, making it nearly impossible to cross these points. Sometimes (e.g. when they run out of petrol) they are dug into the ground in key terrain points, forming the backbone of the defense by their superior firepower..."

The artillery pieces in a motti were usually used only in direct fire -role. During the "Motti battles", none of the motti's gave any notable support to another motti in the area (one of the major reasons for this was of course, the shortage of shells) . Also no long range artillery support was given, although the motti's were in the range of Soviet heavy artillery stationed in Pitkäranta and Käsnäselkä (all motti's were within 15 km of these two places) . The motti's were however supported by bombing and strafing attacks by the Red Air Force.

As the Soviet troops packed themselves into a tight area (the western part of the Motti of W-Lemetti, which consisted of 25 tanks, 2 field guns, 1 AT-gun and one 4-barreled AA-mg, was on an area some 100 m long and 250 m wide) , making it easy to defend, increasing the "feeling of security" but making it extremely hard to take any actions against the besieging Finns. The almost total passiveness of the Soviet troops in the motti's was a striking feature. The motti's neglected patrolling, and when some patrols left the "security" of the motti, they were usually gathering firewood or retrieving supply torpedoes dropped in no-man's land. Sometimes a motti with hundreds of soldiers and dozens of tanks were guarded by a few platoons, the Finnish patrols skiing regularly along the ski tracks around the motti (any escape left marks on the track) .

The resilience of the Soviet soldier in the motti's earned them the respect of the Finns. What made it possible that they held on for weeks while suffering cold, hunger and despair, fighting often to the last man? This was surely affected by the basic character of the Soviet soldier as well as the discipline implanted into the Soviet citizens during the previous years. The Soviet doctrine ordered that all gained ground should be defended to the last man, so it narrowed the options of the officers... either violate the doctrine/orders (and save some of your men, but taking a risk of court martial) or obey and stay put.

Also the strong measures of the officers and the propaganda about Finnish atrocities against surrendering Soviet soldiers played a role. It was of course easier to control the troops, as they were huddled so tightly, but according to interrogations, the basic fear of the deep wilderness and the Finnish soldier waiting was one of the main reasons. Only one motti (the "Motti of Saarijärvi") surrendered after heavy fighting on Feb 22nd. It was the only motti where the number of prisoners (391 POW's) exceeded the number of bodies found (some 250) .

 

Especially the bigger motti's, which had troops from many different branches tended to survive longer. They had enough firepower to keep the Finns at bay, while struggling along by eating the horses and food dropped by planes. The Soviet troops had usually quite generous amounts of ammo to start with. As the Finns had virtually no AA (Anti Aircraft) in the area, the Soviet Air Forces could operate quite freely. This makes a difference, since if the Finns would've had even some AA, the drops would've been made from higher altitudes increasing the chance of missing the drop zone. The food rations in the motti's were immediately regulated, and as the number mouths to feed fell daily, some motti's managed to survive, just barely, to the end of the war.

On some occasions, a motti, after using up all their supplies, decided to make a try to friendly lines. These attempts ended often quite miserably, and even when small group of stragglers found another motti, they only increased the food consumption in the motti they arrived in.

The Soviet High Command, tried to help the motti's by airdrops, increasing pressure against the Finnish lines, and by sending special Ski battalions via the wilderness towards the motti's. The Finnish intelligence recognized these attempts quickly and dispatched units to meet them. Only some small lone groups of these "relief forces" ever made it. But they did serve a purpose. Many Finnish battalions were tied up in the wilderness chasing Soviet Ski-units, and luckily for the Finns, the Soviet relief attempts were made separately and not at the same time, enabling the Finns to defeat them one at a time.

 

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Destroying the Motti's

The task of destroying the motti's was quite challenging. The defenders enjoyed the benefits of defense and usually superior firepower as well. But it's also evident, that some over-estimations were made, resulting in too limited actions. Some have criticized that the motti's should've been attacked and destroyed immediately (like was done in Raate-road, for instance) , but as the Finns expected the Soviet troops to retreat, after the situation turns into a hopeless one, no unit was prepared to the birth of the motti's. And, as e.g. the two Lemetti motti's, which housed well over 100 tanks, a quick victory with the equipment that the Finns had, was quite impossible.

As the Finns didn't have the equipment to quickly overcome the opposition, the following basic general tactic against the motti's was soon adopted. Concentrate on the weak ones, leaving the softening of the bigger ones to the cold weather and lack of food.   The first motti to fall, in the area, was the "Motti of Koposenselkä" on Jan 20th.

On Jan 27th, a meeting was held in the HQ of the Finnish 13.D, which has also been referred as the "Motti meeting" ("Mottikokous" in Finnish) . At that point, the Finnish officers and commanders were still hopeful about the quick destruction of the motti's. These expectations were influenced by their attitudes, and they underestimated badly the firepower of the motti's and the resilience of the Soviet soldier. As the conclusion of the motti meeting, Major General Hägglund decided that the motti's of "Pieni-Kelivaara" and "Lemetti west" would be targeted next and the experience gained would be used to plan the destruction of the remaining motti's.

 

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Tactics used

During the first motti battles, it became evident, that a totally new tactic had to be "invented". The first experiences also proved that propaganda had little value in affecting the Soviet soldier in the motti's (the small area of the motti's made it easier for the political personnel to control the common soldier) . Also, during the first motti battles the need of (and especially the lack of) heavy weaponry, namely artillery and AT-weaponry was noted. The biggest problem was perhaps the lack of maneuverable AT-weaponry (not meaning grenade bundles, satchel charges or Molotov Cocktails) .

One of the dug in tanks at "East Lemetti" Picture source: "Talvisodan Historia 3", p.105

In some cases, like in "East Lemetti", many tanks had been dug in leaving only the turret above ground. As these turrets could support each other, the infantry man's task of crawling to throwing distance became next to impossible. So the only practical method to clear a way to a breakthrough was to use 76 mm field guns or 37 mm AT-guns to destroy these armored pillboxes. But the task of moving them close enough, through roadless terrain, and getting them into firing position, took both time and patience, and good camouflaging.

 

 

After the fire support was in order, there were two different options. 1) to quickly break into the motti and destroying it in one decisive attack, or 2) to slowly chip away the defending positions (usually at night) , foxhole by foxhole, tightening the perimeter, until the defenders broke or the remaining motti would be open for a final attack.

The young conscripts of the "HRR" ("Hämeen Ratsurykmentti" or "Häme cavalry regiment" in English) , made several bold attempts to break into the motti of "East-Lemetti", but this led only to big, even pointless, casualties. (See the map of E-Lemetti)

It was proven, that in the destruction of powerful motti's, the steady but slow reduction of the opposition based on adequate preparations was far more important than the actual number of attacking men. Not all officers liked this slow method, but it was the best way to save manpower, a thing that all Finnish officers had to keep in mind.

Before the attack was to be made, it was necessary to keep contact with the motti 24 hours a day. This was necessary to deprive the defenders from rest, time to improve positions and to make them spend ammunition. During the dark hours, small heavily armed patrols would perform feint attacks and destroy outer positions until the motti was considered to be "soft enough".

Then, powerful teams were used, armed with smg's, Mauser pistols (very popular as they were easy to handle) , hand grenades, smoke grenades and 3 - 5 kg satchel charges. These teams infiltrated the Soviet positions under the cover of darkness, and when among them, a surprise attack was launched. The Soviet positions were destroyed one by one without any pause and giving the confused defenders no time to regroup. This method proved out to be amazingly economical in terms of losses.

For comparison, when the "Mylly" strongpoint in West-Lemetti was destroyed in the final attack, the Finnish assault teams lost a total of only 3 men, while the defenders lost several hundred. The total body count inside "Mylly" was 367 Soviet dead. In this case, it's quite obvious that the morale and cohesion of the defenders broke entirely, since otherwise kill rations like that aren't possible.

If some doubt these figures, it's good to remember, that the bulk of the defenders fought from dug in positions and shelters, that were wiped out by satchel charges.

Usually, the Finns attacked without preliminary bombardment, but of course, in some cases short preliminary bombardments were made in order to avoid routine. The biggest problem that the Finns had in this field, was the lack of heavy artillery. As the snow was 50 cm thick by the time the motti battles begun (compare to Soviet sources claiming several meters of snow) , the 76 mm artillery was ineffective, unless used in direct fire. But in late January, the IV Corps had only one battery 3. / Rask.Psto 4 (3rd battery of the 4th Separate Heavy Artillery Battalion) of 152 mm H/10 howitzers. Near the Ladoga coast, some fire missions could be called from the coastal forts (although the lack of shrapnel shells restricted it) , and few of the obsolete 152 K/04-200p guns, a part of the Ladoga coast defense, were used to bombard the motti of Kitilä.

The importance of reconnaissance was emphasized. Enough time was to be reserved to scout thoroughly the enemy positions. The more powerful the motti was, the more time this took. In order to get the enemy to reveal it's heavy weaponry, several phony positions and guns were constructed (and this required again, a lot of time and cunning) .

The defensive strength of the motti's often led to a somewhat strange tactic on the Finnish side. Sometimes, when a group tried to break out of a motti, the surrounding Finns often let them go, preferring to destroy the stragglers in the forest . Of course this wasn't always allowed, but e.g. The Motti of East Lemetti proved out to be so strong, that on Feb 14th, the HQ of 13.D issued an order to prevent any movement into the motti, but allow any group to leave (of course hunting them down in the woods, afterwards) .

 

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The final moments of East Lemetti

At the end of February, some 3800 Soviet soldiers left in the Motti of East Lemetti.  On Feb 28th at 0045 hrs, the Soviet High Command gave the permission to break out of the Motti, after which the troops were divided into two groups.

The final and decisive Finnish attack began in the evening of Feb 28th. During the battles that night, the still healthy defenders broke out, to east and south.

The breakout was a partial success. The Southern group, which consisted of 1 237 men (mostly wounded and sick) when the breakout began, made it to friendly lines, losing 249 men. The Northern Group, consisting of some 1 500 men, was searched by planes until March 6th. The it became clear, that the whole Northern Group was annihilated.

The break out was very bloody. In many places, the retreat routes were lined with bodies. One party, part of the northern group, was virtually annihilated near one of Finnish the camping areas. Among the dead was, the HQ staff of the 34th Tank Brigade and the HQ of the 18th division. 412 bodies were counted, from which 310 were officers. The tired Soviet stragglers moving on foot, were easy prey to the pursuing Finnish units equipped with skis.  The bulk of the "Motti of East Lemetti" was finally overrun at 0400 hrs on Feb 29th, while some suicidal individuals, left behind, fought on, until neutralized after fierce fighting. Some 3 100 Soviet dead were counted inside and around the motti, while a few dozen prisoners were captured. The Soviet High Command was unaware of the situation, and as late as afternoon on March 3rd, a Soviet plane, flying over the motti, asked by signals if "...General Kondratjev and his staff are wholly or partly present..." the Finns of the HRR replied;"wholly" and the plane started to drop supplies.

The Finns mistakenly identified a Soviet high ranking officer as the Commander of the 34th Tank Brigade, Brigade Commander Stepan Ivanovits Kondratjev, burying him besides the Brigade Commander P.Borisov (died on Feb 5th, on the road to Pitkäranta) , commander of the 11th Division, and Brigade Commander G.Kondrasov (died on Feb 29th) , commander of the 18th Division. Borisov and Kondrasov were placed to rest near the Lemetti crossroad, and the presumed body of Kondratjev was also buried next the previous two, giving the place it's name "kolmen kenraalin hauta", ("the grave of three Generals",in English). But according to Soviet sources, Kondratjev made it back to friendly lines to Pitkäranta, having lost both his troops and his reputation.

According to an article in "Soviet-Finnish War 1939-1940" (Minsk, Harvest Publishers, 1999, ISBN 985-433-692-1):

"The commander of the 34th Tank Brigade Brigade Commander S.I. Kondratyev, his Chief of the Staff and the Commissar of the 34th Tank Brigade have committed suicide when attempting to break out of the motti. So did the Commissar of the 18th Rifle Division. The commander of the 18th Rifle Division Brigade Commander G.F. Kondrashov has been wounded in the motti but has successfully reached the friendly lines. He has been arrested in the hospital and his further fate is unknown. Probably he was court-martialed and executed, as it happened, for instance, to the commanding officers of the surrounded 44th Rifle Division at Raate Road. "

Data was provided Andrey Sysa, St. Petersburg, Russia

 

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A map of the Motti of East Lemetti

A rough map showing the "Motti of East Lemetti", in late January
Map legends 1) Finnish 1st company
2) Finnish patrol lines
3) Motti perimeter
4) building
5) rise or hill
6) field
The rough location and form of the "Motti of East Lemetti"

1) The "Lemetti" house (the field was marked for Soviet aerial supply drops)
2) The "Pauni" house (probably the last name of the residents)
3) a cottage
4) the hill / Soviet strongpoint "Flatfoot" ("Lättäjalka" in Finnish)
5) the hill / Soviet strongpoint "Egg" ("Muna" in Finnish)
6) the hill / Soviet strongpoint "Sausage" ("Makkara" in Finnish)

The probable Soviet deployment inside the Motti, according to Finnish intelligence

1) Elements of the howitzer regiment
2) Political officers, and troops
3) HQ of 18th division
4) positions in where the attack of the Finnish "HRR"
Cavalry Regiment was repulsed in late February
5) artillery pieces and positions
6) troops of the Signals Bn
7) Flame-thrower tanks
8) HQ of the 34th Tank Bgd
9) HQ of the AT-Bn
10) shelters, tanks protected by infantry


The arrow points to the north, E is South and P is North
(some of the Soviet trenches and positions are barely visible SW of the road)

Picture source:"Talvisodan Pikkujättiläinen", p.518

 

During the motti battles, it was noticed, that the best results were achieved if one commander (usually a battalion commander) was in charge of the destruction of "his" motti from start to finish (the Finnish IV Corps fought nearly through the whole war using Task Forces, which made this arrangement easy) . This arrangement had good results, as these commanders turned out to be masters of "motti warfare", and the tactics and ideas they invented spread out throughout the IV Corps.

To improve communications, cable lines were drawn around the motti's, making it easier to coordinate operations. It was also discovered, that it was fruitful to draw cable lines also along the assault teams, giving the local HQ, and other levels,   immediate reports of the situation.

 

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War booty from the motti's in the southern area of the Finnish IV Corps

Motti
(date of fall)
field
guns
AT
guns
mortar
82 mm
tanks arm.
cars
AA
mg
lmg mg rifles horse
carriages
trucks
"Koposenselkä"
(Jan 20th)
- - 3 - - - - 6 175 - -
"Pieni-Kelivaara"
(Jan 28th)
2 2 9 - - - - 9 100 - -
"Lemetti West"
western part
(Feb 2nd)
2 1 - 25 - 1 - - - - 12
"Lemetti West"
"Mylly"strongp.
(Feb 4th)
2 1 1 7 - - 5 1 210 10 26
"Lemetti crossroad"
(Feb 8th)
- 2 - 3 - - - 5 - 2 -
"Lavajärvi"
(Feb 15th-16th)
5 3 - 2 - - - 3 - - 8
"Regimental" motti
(Feb 18th)
32 app.
30
- 20 - 6 - 9 - app.
200
25
"Konnunkylä"
(Feb 21st)
1 1 - few - - 6 3 30 - -
"Saarijärvi"
(Feb 22nd)
6 6 4 4 - - 37 20 400 80 8
"Lemetti East"
(Feb 29th)
5 1 - 71* 12 6 60 10 - 206 206
Total 55 47 17 132 12 13 108 66 915 498 285
The center of the "Motti of East Lemetti" after the fighting had ceasedTable source: "Talvisodan Historia 3", p.92

The "Total" figure above, is the number reported back to General HQ. The figures don't reflect the whole truth. Especially the numbers of small arms captured lack hundreds, probably thousands, of rifles, lmg's and mg's taken into use immediately by the Finnish troops and thus never included into the lists of war booty.
(E.g. eyewitnesses told that huge piles of weapons were gathered in the motti of East Lemetti.) Also according to some Finnish sources, some 2000 rifles were captured from the motti of East Lemetti.

* = from these 71 tanks, only 22 were damaged. The total number of tanks inside the motti was 105.

From the Motti's, listed above, the Finns captured also a total of 2 radio stations, 82 field kitchens, 35 cars and 36 tractors. Other material included a field bakery, a truckload of musical instruments, flags, artillery shells, rifle caliber ammunition.

Picture source: "Talvisodan Historia 3", p.108

 

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Life in a Motti

 

In order to give some idea how the life in the Motti's (on the Soviet side) was, I decided to include some sections of a diary, found after the battles around East Lemetti. The unknown writer was a company leader's assistant in the 83rd Separate Tank Battalion, which was a part of the 34th Tank Brigade. I have shortened the text considerably from the text I found in a Finnish source "Suomi Taisteli osa 2, p.146-151". Note also that this text is my "own" translation, which is most likely quite different, if compared to any possible more "official" translation. The diary was written on a notebook, so the actions after Feb 8th are unknown.

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To start of this text

February 1st, 1940

I spent the whole night from 2200 - 0800 hrs, on duty in the communications trench. Only little action by the Finns. It was very cold, and the shelter is so cramped, that you can rest only while sitting or standing, but that's nothing new especially after the some 40 days we've been here.
    I got the following for breakfast, some tea and the regulated piece of meat, that weighed 30 grams. I made also some meat soup and drank it. To tell the truth, it was water, having only the scent of canned meat.
    We were given biscuits yesterday, 50 grams each and I ate nearly all of them, leaving only some for dinner. We have dinner only after 1800 hrs, and for a reason. The Finns disturb even our meals during daylight, so we have to do almost everything after dark.

During the evening, I heard some frantic artillery, rifle and mg fire from the HQ's direction. I went to bed at 2400 hrs.

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To start of this text

February 2nd

7.00 am, southern sector. It's particularly cold this morning, nearly -35 °C. It will be a clear sky today. I woke and got up at 0500 hrs, being unable to sleep due to the cold.
    Our artillery has fired through the night. After I woke up, I went shit, but at that moment the Finns opened fire, one bullet striking the ground between my legs.
    Burjak got me some soup of horse meat this morning, probably the last portion, as we're out of horses. Lots of planes this day. We got a lot of supply packs, some 70, also the Finns got bombed quite heavily. No special Finnish actions on our sector today, only some sporadic automatic fire.
    There's no knowledge of the whereabouts of the relief forces sent to help us, but it's assumed their doing fine. I ate dinner at 1830 hrs, and I traded a cigarette with the chef's assistant, who filled my mess kit with the soup, giving me some extra making my dinner quite satisfactory.
    At the evening I sent the arrested and death sentenced Moltskov to ...(the word was too smeared to be read).
I haven't shit since Jan 25th. I'm going to bed and it's 2300 hrs. No troubles from the Finns.

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To start of this text

February 3rd

The night was cold. I was on duty between 2400 - 0300 hrs and checked Orlov's and politruk Anufrijev's positions. At Orlov's, I warmed up the can of soup I had and drank it. After I woke up in the morning, I was assigned to distribute the rations of horse meat, 15-20 grams per man.
    I attended the reading of the sentence number 8, given by the 55th Court Martial, sentencing Timoshenko to be executed by a firing squad.
    Our artillery opened up and fired the enemy, the temperature is nearly - 35°C. The weather is excellent for planes, and our Air Forces should operate successfully.
    We had thin buckwheat soup for dinner, I got three portions. We got an extra ration of 60 grams of biscuit and 60 grams of sugar rations, that should last for three days.
    In the evening, I had duty in a trench near the front-line. I was there for 5 hours. The night was relatively peaceful. The whole night, I heard mg-fire from the HQ sector. This night, soldiers from the 1st battalion arrived. They had crept through the Finnish lines.

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To start of this text

February 4th

I arrived from the sentry position at 0800 hrs. I'm going to try and get some sleep. An announcement has been given, that the relief forces are about to launch their attacks.
    I have to admit, that I was sorry to hear that the 1st battalion was destroyed, and only some lucky fellows, who heroically managed to get to us.
    My family is occupies a lot of my thoughts today. It's so painful to be apart from them.
I ate some thin soup, which had a scent of beans. I drank it mixed with tea. It's the food like this, what is responsible to the fact that I haven't been able to shit for days.
    After dinner I had duty until 0400 hrs the next morning. I had to receive ammo resupply for the tanks. I discovered Kuptsov's rude nature. He simple hasn't any comradeship in him.
    I'm about to leave for Orlov's and Anufrijev's posts. The enemy shelled us with few stray shots during the day.

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To start of this text

February 5th

I woke up at 0800 hrs. I had tea and 10 grams of horse meat for breakfast. I distributed the same rations to all the others. At 1100 hrs, I made a mixed soup from all the leftovers that I had. Beans, onions, buckwheat porridge, biscuit crumbs and some macaroni. After that all has boiled, the result is a soup, in which I mix some tea and drink the stuff.
    After the breakfast, I rested. I can hear artillery and mg fire from the back, which raises hopes of relief forces reaching us. The sky is cloudy and gray, not a weather for planes. It is sleeting.
    After dinner came an order to start up Shapokov's tank by 2100 hrs, but that requires strength which we lack, so we got it started only at midnight. This was, because at 1800 hrs came a message reporting that friendly troops are closing. That's true, recon patrols are less than a kilometer away, even some signal rockets were fired.
    I had duty from midnight until 0400 hrs, I went directly to sleep. The knowledge that help is on it's way gives us some joy, but I'm afraid that I won't see it as I have barely the energy to move around.

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To start of this text

February 6th

1200 hrs, it's a good weather for planes, our Air Forces can operate. Maybe they'll drop us some supplies.
    I had for breakfast some soup with sugar! I filled myself with tea, and had to run out to "relieve" myself. At 1100 hrs, Shapolov's tank was sent to perform a combat mission. I hear artillery and mg-fire, from a long distance though.
    We were told that our relief forces have left Uomaa and are closing our positions, and that they're some 3 - 4 km away. We've heard that kind of reports before so there's no reason to trust them.
    I've decided to wash myself today, for the first time in ten days. Everyone seems to be busy gathering anything that could be used to help in this hunger. We are all getting weak. It's 1600 hrs and I'm sitting in the shelter having nothing to do. My stomach is completely empty. Some soldiers around me are frying some horse meat. Some have gone out to gather horse bones, that they're going to dry up and eat. Some are washing themselves ignoring the hunger. My health is deteriorating.
    Dinner is still 2 hours away, so I'm going to get some sleep. I managed to shit today
It's very late, when I get to bed, as I was on duty. 3 green signal rockets were fired during dinner. The Finns aren't currently shooting at us. 
    At midnight, mortar fire began in our sector. I will continue on duty until 0200 hrs, and only after that I'll get some rest.

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February 7th

0130 hrs, southern sector. Some sparse mortar fire. We counted nine explosions in the vicinity of our shelter. Some lone rifle shots towards out kitchen, they're aiming at the lights. I can hear artillery fire from the direction of Pitkäranta, from a long distance though.
    The driver Zvjazintsev is boiling intestinals and offal's and is eating the soup. It's sickens me, but I'm nearly willing to try it, and perhaps I'll be forced to it as I'm steadily running out of food, no matter how good I regulate my personal stocks. I can maybe manage to make them last to the 10th day, but after that I'll be on water only. I think that we can maybe make it to Feb 15th - 20th, but after that unless you get shot, you will be facing death by starvation. I get to bed at 0200 hrs, I'm having troubles sleeping, as it is so cold.
    I got up at 0700 hrs. The breakfast is even lousier than yesterday. Some "horse soup", which didn't even have the scent of meat, and even that was given too little. I also drank some tea with some sugar. We got a 20 gram biscuit instead of the ordered 35 gram for lunch. After eating it, it felt like I hadn't eaten anything. I'm feeling dizzy in the mornings.
    I'm even running out of cigarettes. What have I to do if I run out of cigarettes?

The Finns aren't disturbing us. Feels like a calm before the storm. We haven't got any info of our main forces moving towards us, but they'll probably getting some progress, fighting of course strong Finnish forces on the way.

I'm scared to think of my family, as each time I get this huge pain in my heart while thinking of their, and my, fate.
    I tried to sleep, but I couldn't. I'm just too hungry. After three hours, we were busy again with the tank. We got very thin bean soup and 40 grams of biscuit for dinner. I'll try to save the biscuits to the evening.
    Our artillery has been busy today, during the night some firefights were fought with the Finns. I had tea for supper with little sugar, 0.5 grams for the entire mess kit. The Finns sent patrols which threw satchel charges at us, but no casualties were reported.

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February 8th

I got up at 0600 hrs and it's now 10 am. I slept lousy for two reasons, cold and hunger. I plan to sleep around noon if I get the chance. I had just tea for breakfast, not even soup. All horses have been eaten. I got also 35 grams of biscuit. I'm slowly losing my will to live, as there seems to be no hope.
    Again, three persons were rewarded today - Petrov, Makov and xxxx (the name was too smeared to be readable). I'm passed again, even while I work very hard. That's why I'm losing my motivation to work.
    Some planes have dropped some supplies, but the weather isn't so good. The Finns fire at us by rifles and mg's.

We're expecting a Finnish attack in our sector tonight. I have to go for the 3rd time to go guard duty in the trenches today. It's terrible, I barely have the energy to move my feet. After relieved, I was ordered to duty at the tank, which is definitely worse as I have to be 2 days in here. But what can you do, that's our fate.

It's 2000 hrs and we're changing the shift once every hour as it's - 30°C. The night went good. I had a full mess kit of tea with sugar for supper, but afterwards I had to run every now and then to urinate. At 2400 hrs, I went to duty and was relieved at 0100 hrs. I'm stopping this here and continue this diary in the next notebook. End.

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Finnish tactics

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