During December, the commander of the Finnish II Corps,
Lt. General Öhquist, had made several propositions to the Finnish
High Command about a general counterattack. Mannerheim hadn't approved
them, and on 19 December, it became clear that the Finnish defenders
had repelled the first Soviet attempts to break the Finnish main defense
line. It was well known, that the Red Army was concentrating more
forces between Summa and Lake Muolaanjärvi , so the possible benefits
of a successful counterattack were better than before.
On 19 December, Mannerheim attached the 6th division
to the II Corps. It was to be used either to counterattack possible
Soviet breakthroughs or in an attack against the Soviet forces. The
HQ of the Isthmus Army decided to use the division for the latter.
The motivations for an attack were as follows; only
an attack could reduce the combat effectiveness of the Soviet divisions.
Also the offensive mindedness of the Finnish officers was a major
The letters and diaries, captured from dead Soviet
soldiers, described the Soviet situation very grim. Losses from the
attacks in the previous weeks were extremely high, supply situation
was bad, clothing and especially quartering equipment were inadequate.
Letters like these had an influence on the decision to attack.
The ultimate objective of the attack, was to give the
opposing forces a crippling blow rendering them incapable to continue
attacks, than to destroy.
Back to Top !
The attack plan
The plan was to make two attacks on the sides (the
6th division on the right, near Summa, and the 1st division on the
left, near Lake Muolaa) . The 11th division would give support on
the far left and the 4th division on the right. The 5th division would
engage the enemy in the center.
As air support, the 1st Flight Regiment was strengthened
by the 10th bomber wing, and their targets were 1) enemy infantry
formations and 2) enemy artillery positions (in that order) .
The attack was to begin on 23 December at 0630 hours.
(The map below shows the planned attacks)
The 6.D executed in the night
between 21st & 22nd an exhausting 6 hour march and established
contact with the JR 10 manning the front-line.
The 1st division received the order to attack on
21st. The 1st brigade and the JR 14 were in front-line duty
and the rest of the division 15 - 20 km behind the line. The
deployment of these forces to the attack positions were delayed
due to inadequate preparations and miscalculated schedule. So
the 1st division was not ready to attack, on the ordered time.
The 4th division made preparations while engaged
by the Soviet 70th division.
The 4th brigade was attached to the 11th division
on 21st and deployed behind the JP 4 which was defending between
lake Muolaa and Lake Yskjärvi
The purple arrows show the 1st phase attacks and
the 1st objectives.
The blue arrows show the consequent 2nd phase thrusts.
|| 1) the Finnish 5th Division
2) the 4th Brigade
3) the light Brigade (on reserve)
4) the Soviet 90th Division
Back to Top !
The attacking troops were, excluding the Group S which was 2 hours
late, in their starting positions by 0500 hrs.
In order to achieve surprise, no preliminary bombardment were made,
instead the artillery observation teams were to follow the leading
elements and call in artillery support if needed.
In short, the attacking troops advanced 1 - 5 km, in some places
without fighting and in some places only after vicious battles. But
by noon the attack had been stopped, and the accuracy of Soviet artillery
was greatly improved by the captive balloons, which could monitor
all movement in the area.
At 1500 hrs, the II Corps commander issued the
order to abort.
|| In this map, the attacking units are shown. I haven't
included the units deployed on defense along the Mannerheim-line,
as it would only make the map harder to read.
The blue arrows show the advances of the Finnish forces,
and the red arrows Soviet counterattacks.
I also haven't included on the map the following attack.
The JR 15 on the Summa-area, had been ordered to attack make a small
attack the by III / JR 15 and cut the Summa- road 2 km south of the
front-line. It was to be executed only by a direct order from the
divisional HQ, and by 1430, it was canceled. But an hour earlier two
companies had started the attack on their own initiative and almost
reached the objective. At 1500 hrs the companies were ordered to withdraw.
Back to Top !
The 6th division
The 6th division performed a hard 6 hour march between the nights
of 21 and 22 December.
The division launched patrols to gather information
on the opposing Soviet forces right after reaching the point of attack
in the early hours of 22nd. The gathered info was inadequate and proved,
later on, to cause unpleasant surprises.
The 18th Regiment got lost while moving to the
starting points and only the I/JR 18 was ready for action when the
The JR 17, commanded by Col. K.Heiskanen, was to spearhead
the attack SE from its starting point. The JR 18, commanded by Lt.Col.
A.Pirilä, was to follow as the second echelon. The JR 22, commanded
by Lt.Col. E.Hagelberg, was on the right. The 6th light detachment
(Kev.Os. 6) was the divisional reserve.
Back to Top !
The mission of the 6th division was the following:" the 6th
division is to attack SE from it's positions along the area between
the rivers Summa and Työppölänjoki until, with the
help of the 4th division, the road between Summa and Uusikirkko (located
in the Isthmus between Lakes Kuolemajärvi and Hatjalahdenjärvi,
south of the 4th division) has been reached. The left flank is to
be secured strongly. After the 1st objectives are reached, the main
elements of the division are ready to continue either to the E (north
of Lake Kaukjärvi) or to the S - SE (west of Lake Kaukjärvi)
Back to Top !
The attack began on 0630 hrs, when the JR 17 (Col. K.Heiskanen)
started to advance through gaps in the barbed wire, cut in the previous
The 1st and 2nd battalions were leading the way
and the 3rd was following as the regiments reserve. After the crossing
of the Summa-river, SW of Murronkallio (a small hill in a bend of
Summa-river) the 9th company of the 3rd Bn was sent left to get contact
with units from the 5th division. The company met strong enemy resistance
some 400 m SW from Murronkallio and suffered casualties (the company
commander was among the first dead) . The company fell back on 0830
hrs and was soon joined with the rest of the 3rd Bn and the ensuing
attack was repelled on 1000 hrs. The Murronkallio-hill was heavily
fortified by the Soviet forces, a piece of information, which the
Finnish recon patrols and intelligence failed to find out.
The regiment commander saw the situation from his
command post and ordered artillery support. The communication was
provided with field telephones and messengers, both which were unreliable
under enemy artillery fire. (Now a terrible mistake was noted. The
81 mm mortars could not give support because the shells were attached
with tail fins of 82 mm shells. A small mistake, which was not noticed
due to the hurried preparations.) The connections failed constantly
under the Soviet fire and the first Finnish artillery shells landed
on the Murronkallio at 1205 hrs.
By now also the 1st and 2nd battalions had encountered
enemy resistance, strengthened by tanks, and the attack came to a
Col. Heiskanen decided to try and break the enemy
resistance in Murronkallio, which was threatening JR 17's left flank.
The I/JR 18 was attached to his regiment and he directed it to attack
Murronkallio with the III/JR 17. The attack of the two battalions
failed under the heavy fire of multiple artillery pieces used in direct
fire and scores of machine guns. By 1400 hrs it became evident that
the defenses in Murronkallio couldn't be broken with the forces now
committed and no further attempts were made.
By 1530 hrs the regiment had withdrawn back to it's starting positions
while under heavy fire of enemy artillery. The artillery fire was
observed from two balloons and also the Soviet fighters harassed constantly
the retreating units.
|| This map shows the positions
of the strengthened JR 17 when the attack came to a halt.
|| 1) Soviet defenses
2) Finnish positions
3) Soviet tanks
4) artillery in direct fire positions
5) Finnish company (in reserve)
(Note: The Summa-river makes a bend just north of Murronkallio,
which doesn't show on this map.)
The 3rd Bn of JR 18 arrived to the front-line. 2 km east from the
intended point and started advancing SE towards Murronkallio at 0800
hrs. The battalion advanced 500 m under constant fire and halted.
The battalion held it's position until the JR 17 had withdrawn and
the enemy pressure grew. At 1545 hrs the battalion was ordered to
withdraw. The II/JR 18 acting as the second echelon behind the III/JR
18 took no part in the combat.
The attack of the JR 22 got underway at 0630 hrs and was immediately
fired upon by mortars and mg's. The II/JR 22, on the right, advanced
2 km crossing the River Työppölänjoki and reached the battalions first
objective, 3 km west of the northern tip of Lake Kaukjärvi. From
there the battalion was unable to continue because artillery support
was not available due to poor communications (the cable lines were
constantly severed by Soviet artillery fire) .
The I/JR 22 was advancing on the left and the III/JR
22 in the middle. They both advanced to SE, the 1st being slightly
behind the 3rd. The 3rd crossed the River Työppölänjoki
at 0930 hrs, losing cohesion while doing it. Only one company (from
the 3rd) continued to the original direction and the two others
started to advance NE. Elements from the 1st, following the 3rd, were
also drawn to the wrong direction by the preceding units. The troops
moving NE ran into units from the JR 17 moving SE and a firefight
between friendly forces began. It didn't take long to clear out the
error and casualties were light, but it shook the confidence of men
fighting their first battle.
The forces from the 1st and 3rd, who were moving
in the right direction met 1 km north of the II/JR 22, strong enemy
resistance and tanks.
At 1010 hrs, Lt.Col. Hagelberg ordered the 3rd
and the 1st to withdraw behind the River Työppölänjoki to regroup.
The units withdrew in disorder and the slow gathering of the scattered
forces prevented a quick new attempt. The II/JR 22, which was still
defending it's gains was therefore ordered to withdraw also, which
it did by 1200 hrs.
Back to Top !
The 1st division
(Major General T.Laatikainen)
The 6th division had it's JR 14 and the 1st brigade (1.Pr) deployed
on defense, when the attack order arrived on 21 December. The group
S (consisted of the 2.Pr and 3.Pr) and group Vuori (consisted of 10th
and 6th Replacement/Training brigades) were deployed 15 - 20 km behind
the front. The III/JR13 was also attached to the 1st division for
During the night before the attack, the groups
were supposed to march into their starting points. But poor preparations,
traffic control and miscalculated timetables delayed the start of
Major General Laatikainen had divided his forces into three
battlegroups. On the left (by Lake Muolaanjärvi) was the JR 14,
commanded by Col. V.Polttila, strengthened by the 5th light
detachment (Kev.Os. 5) . On the middle was the group S, commanded
by Col. A.Svensson. And on the right was the group Vuori, commanded
by Lt. Col. M.Berg, strengthened by the 3rd battalion of JR 13 (III/JR
The 1st brigade and I/3.Pr were selected to be
the divisional reserve behind the main forces.
Back to Top !
The mission of the 1st division was the following:"The 1st
division attacks with it's main force along the railway until the
1st objective has been reached (the railroad-road crossing and the
Lake Muolaanjärvi - Lake Perkjärvi isthmus) . After that,
the division must prepare a further advance to SW and secure the positions
against enemy forces from S and SE."
Back to Top !
On the right, where the group Vuori was to attack, only the III/JR
13 started the attack on time. It advanced S and immediately met Soviet
units supported by tanks. The battalion left a company to defend the
right flank (due to lack of AT-weapons, it couldn't attack the tanks)
, and continued the advance past the Soviet strong point, until after
1 km it met another strong point and the attack halted. The III/JR
13 held it's positions until an order to withdraw was given at 1330
The other units of the group Vuori (the X and VI
replacement/Training brigades) started the attack an hour late. While
they were nearing the railroad (after advancing SE) , they met heavy
resistance. The Soviet forces launched a counterattack around noon
and several companies fell back. The attack was aborted and all battalions
had retreated behind the main defense line at 1500 hrs.
The group S, which was attacking on the most important direction,
was most delayed.
It started the advance at 0830 hrs. The hurry lead
to inadequate reconnaissance, so it took the battalions over an hour
to find their way through Finnish defense works (mines, wire obstacles
The 3rd brigade (3.Pr) , commanded by Lt.Col. A.Kääriäinen,
had the 3rd Bn leading the way, the 2nd following behind. The leading
companies met only small squad and platoon sized forward positions,
some of which were quickly neutralized while some retreated. A short
while later, the Finns heard noise from the left, which turned out
to be a Soviet detachment, in dug-in positions, whose sleep was interrupted.
The battalions reserve-company was sent to the left and it virtually
trampled the defenders down, from whom only a handful escaped.
After advancing some 4 km, the III/3.Pr came, at
1220 hrs, to the River Perojoki (running from Lake Perkjärvi
towards Viipuri) , and found the southern bank of the river defended
by a line of 10 tanks and infantry in prepared positions. The battalion
commander, Major V.Linden, called for artillery support but
failed. The hurried preparations had caused a unforgivable mistake,
the codes for the designated supporting battery, had been switched
by mistake with a battalion from group Vuori! The artillery observers
tried to solve the problem, but as the cable lines failed constantly,
so nothing could be done in time. Also the request to get some AT-guns
for support was denied.
The II/3.Pr followed behind the 3rd Bn but was
not committed, as an unsupported attack would've been foolish.
The 2nd brigade (2.Pr) , commanded by Col. A.Svensson,
directed the 1st Bn to the W (towards the railroad) and the 3rd Bn
to S. Both battalions reached the River Perojoki around 1300 hrs,
and were stopped by strong Soviet resistance on the opposite banks.
As the Soviet launched counterattacks near the
railroad against the 1st Bn, the reserve, the 2nd Bn was ordered to
join the attack at 1500 hrs. It was directed against the flank of
the enemy resistance facing the 1st Bn, but it didn't participate
in the fighting as the whole group S got an abort order from Major
General Laatikainen at 1510 hrs.
The JR 14, commanded by Col. V.Polttila, was ready
at the ordered attack time, but didn't start the advance because the
3rd Brigade was late. At 0830 hrs the regiment received a direct order
to launch the attack. The attack begun without preliminary artillery
The 2nd Bn (II/JR 14) , advancing on the left encountered
immediately Soviet troops, but managed to push them back. But at 1100
hrs, the Soviet resistance stiffened and the attackers were stopped.
The 3rd Bn advanced several kilometers without
opposition, until it encountered an artillery battalion protected
in every direction by direct firing field guns, 11 tanks and numerous
mg's, at 1200 hrs.
The leading company of the 3rd Bn, 7th company,
launched a swift probe, supported by mg's but was repulsed by the
concentrated fire of the "linnaleiri" ("castle camp",
a nickname for the Soviet positions, made defensible in every direction,
and protected by a ring of tanks) . Parts of the 8th company was sent
to flank the enemy, but encountered a Soviet motorized detachment
supported by 4 armored cars W of the position. The elements of the
8th company were forced to retreat. The 9th company had been sent
to flank the enemy E of the position, but was also pinned down.
The 3rd company from 1st Bn (3./I P) was attached
to the 3rd Bn and sent to attack the positions from the W at 1230
hrs. The attack of the 3rd company started well, but was eventually
stopped on the edge of a small swamp by enemy field artillery pieces
firing canister shots.
At 1430 hrs the commander of the 3rd Bn, Capt.
M.Kuiri, received an order to withdraw and regroup for a new
attack. The new attack was canceled at 1550 hrs by Col. Polttila because
all communications to the divisional HQ were cut. About an hour later,
when the JR 14 was already withdrawing, came a messenger from the
1.D HQ bringing an abort order.
|| This map shows the gains
made by the Finns, when the attack was stopped.
(Note: there are some contradictions between different sources
about the exact positions and gains of the 8th and 9th company,
III/JR 14, when the attack was aborted.)
|| 1) the Finnish main defense
2) Soviet forward positions
3) Finnish advances
4) Soviet retreat routes
5) Soviet defenses
6) Soviet armor
7) " artillery in direct fire positions
8) Soviet artillery battalion
9) Finnish battalion
10) Finnish battlegroup boundary