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[LAPPOHJA 01.07.1941] [STORKROKAN
01.07.1941] [DRAGSVIK 06.07.1941]
RECONNAISSANCE ATTACK TO ELMHOLM 16.08.1941
- After the Russians occupied our advanced positions in the islands of Gunnarsholm, Furuön and Elmholm, our weak main defensive line was under constant pressure. Continuous fortification construction effort was going on in the back side of the Russian held islands. The light mortars which were stationed in the islands, fired effectively especially from Elmholm with a short range. From our advance positions we were able to observe the Russian activities and movements in Horsö and Medörn. After the loss of these positions, the Russians could move to their positions so, that our observation could not see them.
Commander of the Bredvik Sub-Section Captain Karas
- Commander of the Bredvik Sub-Section Captain Karas arrived to my command post on 12.08.1941. He informed me, that Elmholm was starting to be a real nuisance, because Russians always fired to Storholm with mortars. Additionally it was most likely, that a Russian fire control team from Elmholm was also directing the artillery fire. It was also noted Karas informed, that the Russians were seen of emptying the island few times, after a good artillery bombardment.
- Captain Karas asked permission to perform a reconnaissance attack with three squads to Elmholm and if the attack went well, remove the Russians from the island and occupy it permanently with our own sentries. As it was important for the section to receive information from prisoners and as the Hanko Groups especially had encouraged to capture prisoners, I granted my permission to Captain Karas.
- I ordered him to contact the artillery commander in order to arrange artillery support and to arrange himself the use of mortars and infantry weapons. At that time I also emphasized the importance of capturing prisoners.
- On August 14th Captain Karas arrived again to my command post. He presented his plan:
1. Artillery bombardment to Elmholm must precede the reconnaissance attack.
2. After the artillery bombardment, the fire from artillery and mortars must move to islands of Furuön, to west part of Horsön, Kuggholm and to the nameless island.
3. At the same time, four machine guns must fire indirect fire to Gunnarsholm.
4. Additionally part of the machine guns in Storholm must be moved away from their positions, so that they can fire to the sea between Elmholm and Furuön.
5. After the artillery bombardment to Elmholm stops, the three squads must start to move towards Elmholm, from behind of the small islands in the south-west part of Storholm. The squads will use motorboats. Armament includes light machine guns, sub-machine guns, hand grenades and piled-up charges. Additionally the squads must have a field telephone and the phone line will be pulled to Elmholm using a cable reel.
- Everything had been already arranged with the artillery, so I gave my permission to the plan. The planned time for the reconnaissance attack was the night of 14.08. - 15.08.1941. I also ordered the commander of the Vestervik Sub-Section to send a patrol from Porsö to investigate the island of Dufvaholm at the same time.
- The night of 14.08. - 15.08.1941 was dark and it was raining constantly. Around the time when action should have started, Captain Karas informed me, that engine on one of the motorboats had malfunctioned and because of that, the reconnaissance attack must be postponed, so that the boat can be switched to a working one. The patrol of Vestervik Sub-Section from Porsö however had already moved out and carried out the patrol to Dufvaholm. The island was free from the Russian troops.
- On August 15th Captain Karas informed me, that he plans to carry out the reconnaissance attack during the night of 15.08. - 16.08.1941.
Commander of the Bromarv Section Captain Hassinen
Weather at the beginning of the battle: Strong wind is blowing from the south and there is a overcast.
- At the beginning of the battle, Russians have a platoon in Elmholm, which is led by a Sub-Lieutenant Shvetsov. The platoon has three machine-guns.
- From the Finnish forces, three squads will go to the attack. The squads are led by a 2nd Lieutenant Källström and will move with three motorboats.
00:20 o'clock: The artillery bombardment to Elmholm and to other targets begins.
00:30 - 01:20 o'clock: Several explosions and firing from machine guns is heard from the island.
00:45 o'clock: Artillery bombardment stops. The Finnish motorboats move out. The boats of Sergeant Heinonen and Juustin are first in line and the boat of Sergeant Aronen follows within 50 meters.
01:00 o'clock: The men of Sergeant Aronen and Heinonen land in the north shore of Elmholm. 2nd Lieutenant Källström is with the men. The men of Sergeant Juustin land in the west shore of the island.
01:03 o'clock: 2nd Lieutenant Lauren manages to get the phone line from Storholm to Elmholm in order. Captain Hassinen calls to Captain Karas to ask the result of the attack. Karas informs, that his three squads have landed to Elmholm after the artillery bombardment. The squads have managed to land into the island without them being fired at. At the same time Karas mentions, that the attack is progressing favorably and that he is in constant telephone connection with 2nd Lieutenant Källström, who is in Elmholm.
01:25 o'clock: The men of Heionen have destroyed the Russians in the north-east part of the island as planned. After this, the men advance with the squad of Sergeant Aronen, to the west part of the island, where they meet Sergeant Juustin and his squad. Sergeant Juustin and his men have destroyed several Russian dugouts with piled-up charges. The darkness of the night is slowing down the battle. The moon however has already risen.
01:31 o'clock: Loud noise from several explosions and from automatic weapons is heard from Elmholm.
02:00 o'clock: 2nd Lieutenant Källström informs, that he needs more men and ammunition. Especially piled-up charges are needed, as some of the dugouts are still held by Russian troops. Two platoons of Russian marines from Horsön head towards Elmholm. Their task is to help the troops in Elmholm. The platoons are led by Lieutenant Fetisov.
03:00 o'clock: Captain Karas informs, that the attack is over in Elmholm. The island has been captured, excluding the southern part. Some of the Russians are still trapped in their dugouts, but the dugouts are being guarded and the island will be cleared by dawn.
03:15 o'clock: The squad led by a Private 1st Class Erickson arrives as a reinforcement to Elmholm. The squad brings ammunitions and engineer equipment to the island. 2nd Lieutenant Källström orders tasks for the men and the last Russian dugouts are destroyed.
03:30 o'clock: Squad led by a Sergeant Heinonen reaches the northern end of a large rock, from where a visibility to the southern part of the island is excellent.
05:00 - 06:00 o'clock: Captain Karas sends several messages via the phone line, that more Russians have landed to the southern part of Elmholm. The troops number about 30 men. Karas asks the use of section reserve and more hand grenades and piled-up charges. Captain Hassinen denies the use of reserve, as this is only a reconnaissance attack. Additionally Karas has two squads in his own reserve and the section reserve is only a platoon. The section reserve Detachment Lapinsky is also currently located in Riilahti. More hand grenades and piled-up charges are promised to sent to Elmholm.
06:00 o'clock: Squad led by a Frontier Jaeger Private 1st Class Juustin arrives to Elmholm. 2nd Lieutenant Källström informs, that the Russians are becoming overwhelmingly strong. More troops are needed in Elmholm.
06:30 o'clock: 2nd Lieutenant Hyvärinen arrives to Elmholm. With him are the men of a machine-gun squad led by Corporal Hörkä. The men reach the island, despite of the machine-gun fire from a Russian fighter planes. The squad led by a Frontier Jaeger Aarnio has to remain in Trykärr, because of the Russian fighter planes.
07:00 o'clock: Major Karvinen and Captain Hassinen arrive to the command post of Captain Karas. Karas informs, that he has sent one additional squad and a machine-gun to Elmholm and has ordered one more squad to be prepared to move to Elmholm.
08:30 o'clock: The squad led by a Frontier Jaeger Aarnio manages to reach Elmholm, despite of a troublesome boat engine.
09:00 o'clock: Major Karvinen and Captain Hassinen moves to watch the battle to a peninsula, which is located about 400 meters from Trykärr.
10:00 - 11:00 o'clock: Furious trench warfare is being fought in the island. Russian and Finnish troops have occupied positions on both sides of the bulrushes. Russian fighter planes are flying in the area of Elmholm - Porsö. Destroying the Russian troops in the southern part of the island is judged as a vital task. Mortars have been firing constantly the Russian troops and there is now enough Finnish forces in the island to attack. H-hour is set to 11:45 o'clock. More Russian forces arrive as a reinforcement to the southern part of the island with rowing boats.
11:45 o'clock: Just before the attack, 2nd Lieutenant Källström informs, that the men are exhausted and that the attack must be cancelled. The men are put to rest. One more squad is sent as a reinforcement to Elmholm.
12:00 - 14:00 o'clock: Captain Karas receives an order, that Elmholm will not be part of the main defensive line, but that the troops must be pulled back after dusk. Only a squad will be left as a garrison to the island. Their task is to alert the main defensive line. Captain Karas asks permission to continue the attack to the southern part of the island in order to remove the Russian troops from there. Permission for the attack is granted, but with only those forces, that are already in Elmholm. Trench warfare is being fought in the island. Russians who are landing to the island are being destroyed. Support battery fires to the northern shore of Kuggholm, where Russian boats are seen. The west part of Horsön and Tallkarlgrund are also constantly under artillery fire. Mortar platoon is firing to the southern part of Elmholm.
12:35 o'clock: The squad led by a Private 1st Class Silvo lands in the northern shore of Elmholm, from where the men move into positions.
14:30 o'clock: 2nd Lieutenant Karlsson receives an order to prepare his engineer squad to mine the island of Elmholm.
15:40 o'clock: Anti-aircraft weapons are being moved to Trykärr to harass the Russian fighter planes. At the same time commander of the Porsö base is encouraged to open fire with anti-aircraft weapons.
18:40 o'clock: Attack order is given to the 2nd Lieutenant Källström, as it is thought, that the men have rested enough. After the southern part of the island has been captured, the men must move into a defensive positions in the shoreline.
19:00 o'clock: 2nd Lieutenant Källström and Hyvärinen prepare to attack with their men.
19:15 o'clock: Suddenly the Russians fire a very strong artillery bombardment to the level of Elmholm - Storholm - Prästö. The bombardment reaches all the way to the Bredvik area. The artillery bombardment is the most strongest, that has been experiences so far in the section. Additionally 2 - 3 Russian gunboats approach Porsö and one gunboat approaches Björnholm.
20:10 o'clock: Five or six Russian patrol boats attacks Elmholm from Kuggsholm and Horsön. The Russians land into the south shore of Elmholm and attack towards the northern part of the island. 2nd Lieutenant Källström reports the situation and is forced to retreat. At the same time first signs of panic from the heavy artillery fire are noticed in Storholm. The signs of panic are partly affected by the fact, that the leaders of different positions are in the command dugout of the base receiving orders, when the artillery fire begins. That's why they cannot return to their positions. The first signs of panic are overcome with the help of officers who hurry to the area.
20:25 o'clock: Finnish forces start to retreat from the island. The retreat turns into a very difficult one, as the Russian heavy batteries from Gunnarsören and Tulliniemi fire to the northern part of Elmholm and to the sound between Storholm and Elmholm. Additionally the Russians manages to put a machine-gun in position to the rock in the island and fire retreating Finnish troops. Some men loose their nerves so much, that the phenomenon which happened in the battle of Gunnarsholm, happens here again, meaning that some men jump into the water and retreat by swimming from the island. The last ones to leave the island are 2nd Lieutenant Källström and Hyvärinen. As soon as the men reach Storholm, they are moved to a defensive positions, as it is most likely, that the Russians will attempt an attack against the main defensive line. During the retreat, four Finnish soldiers are killed, while swimming. Most likely these are men from the machine-gun squad led by Corporal Hörkä.
21:00 o'clock: All of the Finnish forces have retreated from Elmholm.
21:45 o'clock: The Russian artillery fire which was concentrated to the whole Bredvik Sub-Section area and all the way to the command post area, slows down.
22:00 o'clock: 2nd Lieutenant Källström and Hyvärinen are ordered to move to their positions and to put the men, who participated to the battle, to a complete rest.
FRONTIER JAEGER AARNIO TELLS ABOUT THE BATTLE:
- On the morning of 16.08.1941 I received an order to report with five men to the command post of Lieutenant Lertola. Armament included a sub-machine gun and a light machine gun. Others had rifles. In the command post we received an order to continue our march and to report to 2nd Lieutenant Hyvärinen in the pier on the mainland side of the ford. After arriving there, 2nd Lieutenant Hyvärinen ordered us to move to a side and wait as long as we would receive order to move to Elmholm. A bit after that, the machine-gun men who were ordered to Elmholm arrived. They were ordered to move to Elmholm before us. 2nd Lieutenant Hyvärinen went also in the same boat. After about 30 minutes from this, we heard someone yelling a rifle squad and so we went to the pier.
- There one Corporal directed us and from his order we carried all of our equipment to the motorboat. At the same time, Russian fighter planes started to fly above us. The Corporal went away and said, that as soon as the fighter planes are not in sight, we must move out. Soon after that we noticed a motorboat arriving from Elmholm and also two Russian fighter planes arrived to the area. The planes noticed the boat and started to fire at it. At that time the boat was so close to the shore, that the men were able to jump from the boat and run behind of a shed near the pier, where we were also.
- They were all wounded men and had a one prisoners with them. We helped them, while the fighter planes were still flying above us and firing inside the barbed wire obstacles. Soon after this, Lieutenant Lertola arrived and said that we must move out immediately. After getting halfway the Russian fighter planes appeared again. We moved our boat to the shore of an island right from us. The motor was running extremely bad. We could move only with a slow speed. As the planes flied away, we manned the boat and at that time a Russian light machine gun fired us from our left side. The gun however didn't score a hit to us and we could move out again.
- The motor of the boat was still running bad but we managed to reach Elmholm happily, where we unloaded our equipment to the shore and received an order to move to positions. Our ordered positions were located in the middle part of the island. On our right was the squad led by a Frontier Jaeger Sergeant Aronen and on our left was the men of Källström. I had a sub-machine gun and I was directed by a 2nd Lieutenant to take cover behind a stone, where a light machine gun from the squad of Aronen was already located. There we fired now and then Russians who appeared in sight. Most of them fell immediately after exposing themselves.
- After we had remained for a while in positions, we noticed a Russian motorboat driving with a fast speed towards the southern part of the island, where the Russian troops were located. I fired one sub-machine gun clip towards the boat and the light machine gun fired three clips, but despite of this the boat drove to the sound between Tallkarlgrund and Elmholm and thus disappearing from our sights. After this 2nd Lieutenant Hyvärinen ordered the men to prepare for an attack. Time for the start of the attack was seven minutes. I started to organize my men and at that time I noticed, that the men on our left were all grouped together. I went to see what was the matter and asked why they were grouped together and is there men of their left. I also asked if the men were aware that we were going to attack.
- They answered to me that there were no men on their left and that they are not going to attack, adding that the Russians are going to capture this island in anyway and that the attack is useless and so on. I went to inform this to 2nd Lieutenant Hyvärinen who was with Aronen and he said that he will go to see the situation. Some time from this we received an order, which cancelled the attack. Then we noticed that there were Russian transport ships in the sea. At least one of them was bigger one and there was a huge number of men in the deck. Smaller boats were around the bigger one. The men were getting a bit unease about this and 2nd Lieutenant Hyvärinen said that now if ever the men must stay in their positions and no one cannot get nervous. He promised to go and make a call and to inform the situation.
- It was starting to be an evening already and one squad and food arrived. Frontier Jaeger Silvo came with his men where my men were positioned and said, that we could get something to eat and to rest. They manned the positions. I ordered three men to eat. I staid in positions with the rest of the men. After the first ones had eaten, we moved to eat. While eating, 2nd Lieutenant Hyvärinen informed again, that we would attack. Squad led by Silvo would be one of the squads to go on attack and the second squad would be gathered from volunteers. He asked from men eating, that if they would be willing to be volunteers. Men didn't answer anything to him. I was also asked if I would be willing to attack. I said that I will go if everyone else goes also.
- Soon after that a heavy artillery fire started and men started to run down from the rock towards the boats, trying to unfasten the ropes. No one really controlled the situation and everyone just tried to get into the boats as soon as possible. I waded to one of the boats, which had already moved away from the shore. Then we landed to Storholm, where Sergeant Aronen yelled, that everyone needs to go to positions, in case that the Russians tries to attack to Storholm.
- There was many men there and I said, that those men that have weapons, needs to go to positions. One of them whom I didn't recognize, told to follow him, as he knew the place. I followed him with Frontier Jaeger Kurvinen, even when I didn't have a weapon and Kurvinen only had a pistol. There in the shore someone had given me a Russian rifle, to which there was no bullets. Then things were starting to get quiet and some anti-tank gun men came from their position and said that there is nothing to worry about. I was soaking wet and I was starting to get cold and that's why I started to walk to the command post, where all of my men were already.
Communiqué: 16.08.1941 - 17.08.1941:
- In the Bromarv Section the Russians on the morning of 16.08 held on to the southern end of Elmholm and the battle continued all through the day. Our troops which had landed to the island during the early morning hours was reinforced and also the Russians moved more troops to the area. At 20:00 o'clock the Russians from several directions started an artillery bombardment to the area of Bredvik, Prästö, Storholm and Porsö, which continued in enormous strength till 21:45 o'clock. At 20:15 o'clock the Russians attacked with strong forces from Gunnarsholm, Horsön and Kuggholm to Elmholm. At 20:25 o'clock our forces started to retreat from Elmholm and after that our artillery fired to the island.
- During the morning of 16.08. our artillery fired direct hits to two motorboats, which were carrying Russian reinforcements. One of the boats started to sink and disappeared behind of Horsön. The second boat managed to reach shore of Medörn. At the same time anti-aircraft guns fired one Russian fighter plane down, which crashed to Horsön.
- During the battle Russian dugouts were destroyed with piled-up charges, two prisoners were captured and two small mortars and four light machine guns were captured. The Russians are estimated of loosing three platoons in the battle. Our own losses which are not checked, were 8 men killed, 15 wounded and 7 missing.
- Our own losses were one officer killed, who fell in Storholm. Additionally three non-commissioned officers and five men died in Elmholm. Total of 25 men were wounded. Six men went missing during the battle.
- According to a cautious estimates the Russians lost 99 men. Two men were captured. Additionally the Russians lost one gun, two AV-boats and one fighter plane.
- During the battle the Russian artillery fired some 7 000 shots. The heaviest ones came from a 12 inch guns.
- Medical and supply support functioned decently, when thinking about the situation. The boats had to drive nearly ten times between Elmholm and Trykärr in daylight, with Russian fighter planes harassing the boats.
- To build this presentation, I have mostly used the combat report and partly war diaries and communiqués. Information from these sources I have cross-checked with the book Hanko Cape in the Second World War by Niilo Lappalainen. The information regarding losses and time differ a bit from the book by Lappalainen. However despite of the differences, I have decided to trust to the original sources.
- The maps on this presentation are based to the events, which are described in the text. The combat report holds only one map, which shows the movement of Russian vessels during the battle.
- The account of Frontier Jaeger Aarnio is attached to the combat report. The combat report also holds several other accounts of the battle from the men, who participated to the battle.
- The sunken AV-boat most likely was sunk to the north-west side of Knysskär, where it probably still lies at the bottom of the sea.
Copyright © 2006, 2007 Kimmo Nummela