Pages of the Soviet-Finnish war of 1939-1940. generally not well known to the average inhabitant of, but there is a true "white spots" of the Winter War. Among them combat actions in the Arctic (the Battle of Petsamo), which will be discussed in this article.
Background to war
Relations between the USSR and Finland by the end of 1930 continued to be strained. Finnish political elite belonged to Moscow and even how foreign policy initiatives of the Union with great suspicion. Finnish authorities were deeply convinced that the ultimate goal of the Russian government's policy in relation to their state is to restore its dependent status, and the substitution of the bourgeois-democratic system of Finland to the socialist. In addition, nationalist circles and nurtured the organization plans to create a "Greater Finland" through Russian territory. Finnish territories captured by the Russian, the number of Karelia and the Kola Peninsula. More constructive leaders wanted on the Finnish-Russian border in the North Urals or the Yenisei. The Finnish press took the last Russo-phobic, anti-Soviet position. Only because of the sharp rise in Russian military and economic power in the 1930s, the threat of the Finnish attack on the Soviet Union was absent (the Finns were the pioneers of 2-Russian wars against the Russian Federation — in 1918-1920 and 1921-1922.). Helsinki but were willing to take part in the war against the Soviet Union in the coalition (along with Britain, France or Germany), because Finland is dangerous for Moscow. It was an aggressive Soviet government.
Taken into account in Moscow and the factor of military-strategic vulnerability of Leningrad. In the town could be applied to air strikes, and from the Finnish border firing of the guns. Strong enemy fleet could carry out the operation to capture the second capital of the Soviet Union, Kronstadt was not a serious obstacle to the massive battleship guns. So Makar, emerging threats of loss of principal political and industrial center, the creation of a springboard for attack in the central regions of Russia. In case of war, Kronstadt and the ships of the Baltic Fleet would be subjected to not only the bombardment by the Air Force and the long-range coastal artillery, and the body of the Finnish artillery. This situation is not strictly satisfy the Russian military and political control. In particular, the risk has increased in anticipation of the beginning of a major war. The issue of security of Leningrad had to be solved before the entry of the USSR into the European fight.
Moscow quite a long time tried to solve the problem by peaceful, diplomatic manner. In the spring of 1938, the Russian government has made a proposal to give a guarantee of Helsinki resistance to German troops in the event of invasion of Finland. USSR offered military assistance in the event of such an attack — not just a tool, and the troops, navy. The Finnish government has refused. Later, Moscow has made a number of similar proposals Finnish side. The talks were held right before the start of the Winter War. Specifically, the proposed agreement under which the Baltic fleet could defend the Finnish coast, Moscow requested to lease four small islands in the Gulf, then offered to switch them to the Soviet countryside or to purchase them. There were other proposals, Moscow has found a viable option that will satisfy both sides. But the Finns took a tough stance and constantly denied Russian government.
In March 1939, Moscow has determined the final proposals: to hand over the Soviet Union to lease the Hanko Peninsula (Gangut) for 30 years and changed the Finnish terrain on the Karelian Isthmus (up defensive zone Mannerheim) on substantially the size of the huge Soviet countryside. The importance of the question says that negotiations with the Finns led Stalin personally. Moscow offered not only a large area, and the different economic compensation benefits. But the Finnish administration either did not understand the significance of the issue for the Soviet Union, or deliberately provoked Moscow to start a war, hoping to get a pan-European support against the aggressor. In addition, according to the views of the researcher Yuri Mukhin, Finnish, apparently overestimated his strength, was confident of victory. In the eyes of the Finnish elite dominated by the Soviet Union as a backward, third-rate government since 1920, when the Russian Our homeland has suffered a defeat in the war with Poland and was in ruins after the war, civilian clothes and intervention. Finnish (and German) considered the Soviet Union a giant with feet of clay, in which most of the population and ethnic minorities can not stand the Bolshevik-Communist, Stalinist regime were to come across the invaders as liberators with flowers. Finnish General Staff, the analysis of the current Russian army in the Russo-Japanese conflict in Hassan, reported on the low combat capability of the Red Army, which can not only attack, and defend. Finnish planned after a victorious war to install the latest border with the Russian Union on the band Neva — Preserving the south of Lake Ladoga — Svir — Lake Onega — A snow-white sea. All the Kola Peninsula was due to be part of a "Greater Finland".
Overall, the evaluation of the Finnish management regarding the willingness of the West to start a war with the Soviet Union was justified — the British and the French were ready to support Finland. But Britain and France did not have time to go to war with the Soviet Union, Reddish Army broke through the Mannerheim Line, and the Finns had to capitulate. The dullness of the Finnish Management had to "cure" the war — only defeat in the 2-wars (1939-1940, 1941-1944.) Has led to the "enlightened minds."
Just before the start of the war Moscow has made yet another attempt to resolve the case through diplomatic. October 13, 1939 Russian side proposed the Finns pact of mutual assistance between Finland and the Russian Union. Finnish diplomats categorically refused. 14 October, Moscow offered to change the terrain of Finland on the Karelian Isthmus area of 2,761 square meters. km on a significant part of Russian Karelia area of 5529 square meters. km. Helsinki refused. Until November 9 Russian diplomats made a few proposals for the sale, exchange or lease of the disputed territories. The Finnish side to all offers refused. Finnish Minister of War Yu Niukkanen frankly stated that war Finland profitable than the satisfaction of the requirements of.
The reason for the war, according to Russian version was shelling areas of the USSR Finnish artillery. November 26, 1939 in Maynily Finns shelled positions of the 68th Infantry Regiment, killed four soldiers. Moscow presented a note of protest and claimed the withdrawal of troops from the Finnish border in the 20-25 km. Finns denied that the shooting Russian countryside, and suggested that the USSR's withdrawal of 25 km. Formally, this requirement was logical, but in fact, it was izymatelstvom — Red Army asked to quit Leningrad. November 29, 1939 the Finnish ambassador in the Russian capital was handed a note about breaking relations diplomatically. November 30 troops of the Leningrad Front were ordered to go to the Finnish border and start coming, and President K. Kallio of Finland declared war on the Union.
1939. Map of the USSR proposal to change the state border with Finland.
Battle of Petsamo
Power of the parties. By the beginning of military operations in the Murmansk area has focused the 14th Army under the command of Valerian Alexandrovich Frolov. The army was formed in October 1939 in the Leningrad military surrounded and had to cover the puzzle Soviet border with Finland's northernmost her site. It was composed of 104th Mountain Infantry, 14th and 52th Infantry Divisions. Divisions were assigned to two and two howitzer artillery regiment (of 216 guns), two separate tank battalion (38 tanks). The guide was also the army anti-aircraft artillery battalion and a cannon artillery regiment.
Most of the forces of the army Frolov puzzle had to be ready to repel a possible Anglo-French landing, because in the fight against the Finns participated unimportant part of the army. Virtually the entire 14th army the war stood on the beach in anticipation of enemy troops.
Finland has in this direction were minor power: two companies of border guards, detachments of Civil Guards (Defense Corps Finland) and one artillery battery. Strong point of Finnish units had a good knowledge of the terrain, their mobility, most of the fighters were recruited from the local inhabitants. Russian commanders overrated forces opposing them: according to the NKVD border troops, the Finns formed the border of the mouth 12 battalions and called up all of military age, from birth in 1920. The officer corps was called up to the age of 50.
Advent and combat actions. By the evening of November 30, 1939 Frolov connection Army occupied the western part of the peninsula and the Middle Fishermen and started coming to Petsamo and Linnahamari. Advent were part of the 104th Mountain Division, its commander, Vladimir Shcherbakov received a puzzle from the turn of the river Titovka take Luostari area. Gornostrelki had to act in collaboration with the 95 th Infantry Regiment of the 14th Division and the 58th Rifle Regiment of the 52nd Division, who moved from the Peninsula Fishermen. Then the Russian troops were to move to the south to assist the attack of the 9th Army.
First time mountain rifle connection with the border guards were moving westward, meeting no resistance. Major Finnish forces at this time in Petsamo to December 2, held off the pressure of the 58th and 95th regiments of the isthmus that separated the peninsula from the mainland average. By the evening of December 2 Russian infantry regiments occupied Petsamo. In the settlement began to flip from Murmansk part of the 52nd Division.
December 3 Reddish Army occupied Luostari. The Finnish often to avoid encirclement moved. 58th Infantry Regiment, heavy weapons which have not yet taken to the Petsamo took up defensive positions, and the 95th Regiment returned to the Peninsula Fishermen. Command Mountain Division has decided to force a company to make a raid on enemy positions on the night of December 5, although the guards could not take part in the operation (they are better prepared for a night raid). The attack began successfully, the Finns were not expecting an attack, and the Red Army seized five vehicles and three guns. But hours before the death of the enemy had time to raise the alarm. In the night's showdown company commander lost control, and the Red Army retreated in shambles. Finnish soldiers fought off their guns and seized several Russian machine guns. Russian company suffered heavy losses: 33 killed and 32 of the wounded. Company Commander was given a court martial.
December 12th of 52 th Infantry Division resumed the offensive. Finnish forces retreated along the road to Rovaniemi. On the road to obstruct the movement of the enemy, the Finns arranged piles and mine traps. December 15 without a fight was busy village Salmiyarvi. In the evening on December 16, the 58th Infantry Regiment at the 95th km of the highway facing fierce resistance from the enemy. The Finnish side held the position until the evening of 17 December, and then moved away, because against all of them focused regiment, supported by a tank company and divisional artillery. 18 December 58th Regiment occupied the village Ptikayarvi.
On 13 December the Finnish Defence Forces General Staff decided to form located in the polar region of the compounds of the troops' Northern Finland "separate group" Lapland ". The Finnish forces in the Arctic have been reinforced with 2 infantry battalions. In addition, one battalion formed of local residents. Finnish troops retreating, evacuated the entire population of the countryside and surpassed Sweden, about 200 thousand deer.
December 19 104th Mountain Infantry division Staff of the Army was ordered to stop coming and going on the defensive. At this time, the vanguard of the division — the 58th Regiment, was placed on the 110th kilometer of road, a few south-west of the village Ptikiyarvi. From November 30 to December 30, 1939 all of the 14 th Army lost 196 people (dead and 85 missing, 111 injured).
From now on the northernmost part of the Soviet-Finnish front came a lull. Several minor clashes came only at the end of the war. February 26-27 of 52 th Division N. Nikishin helped out a reconnaissance of the environment of the army staff. March 7, with the support of the division tank battalion entered the village Nautsi, eventually headed for the division of the 150 th km Rovaniemskogo highway, all seeped deeper into the Finnish countryside.
For the period from 30 November 1939 on March 13, 1940 the 14th Army lost 585 people: 183 people killed and missing in action, 402 wounded frostbite.