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[LAPPOHJA 01.07.1941] [STORKROKAN
01.07.1941] [DRAGSVIK 06.07.1941]
BATTLE OF GRÖNSKÄR AND FURUSKÄR 06.10. - 07.10.1941
ACTION PROPOSAL 06.10.1941:
- During the night of 04.10. - 05.10.1941 Russian boat movement could be observed in Grönskär. After Russian mines were found from Björnholm and it was suspected that there could be mines also in the islands of Grönskär and Furuskär, even when these islands had been noticed of being empty from Russian troops, engineer patrol was sent during the night of 05.10. - 06.10.1941 to confirm, if any Russian troops are located in these islands. When the patrol was advancing in the middle part of Grönskär at 03:45 o'clock, a fire was opened against it with two sub-machine guns from the west part of the island. The patrol retreated from the island to Björnholm after this with a rowing boat.
- Due to this, I propose that the island of Grönskär will be cleared from Russian troops during the night of 06.10. - 07.10.1941.
Commander of the Bromarv Section: Major Karvinen
1. The mission is performed by a patrol gathered from the Sub-Section of Riilahti (1 officer, 2 non-commissioned officers, 8 men and 2 motorboat drivers). The patrol is supported by artillery, mortars and direct firing guns.
2. The action is led by Captain Kauuttila.
3. The armament of the patrol will include two light machine guns, two sub-machine guns, rifles, hand grenades, smoke grenades and smoke boxes.
4. The patrol will land at 19:45 in the island. If it's a full moon, the men in the boats must be prepared to use smoke immediately.
5. The patrol will advance rowing with two boats equipped with outboard motors, to the locations indicated in the map, where they will land into the island and advance into the west shore. Their mission is to capture the Russian observation team. If that is not possible, the Russian observation team must be destroyed or their escape with boats must be done impossible.
6. After cleaning out the island, sentries must be left to the island (1 non-commissioned officer and 2 men) equipped with a rowing boat. Rest of the patrol will return to the starting point.
7. Combat patrol (1 officer, 2 non-commissioned officers and 16 men) must be ready in Prästö, in case of any surprises. This patrol must be equipped with a motorboat.
8. At 19:40 artillery commander will order an artillery bombardment to Länsman, after which harassing fire will be fired to the island as long as it is needed to complete the mission in Grönskär. At the same time 11.LK Battery will fire a barrage between Grönskär and Länsman.
9. The mortar company will take part to the action according to the orders given by artillery commander. The mortar company will be part of the artillery bombardment of Länsman and part of firing the barrage to the previously mentioned location.
10. The direct firing guns from Björnholm, Prästö and Sommarö must be ready to fire a barrage to the south, south-east and to the west shore of Grönskär.
11. The floodlights in Prästö must be ready if needed, to illuminate the sea between Länsman and Grönskär.
12. All preparations for the mission described above, must be done at 19:00 o'clock 06.10.1941.
13. Order to carry out mission will be given separately.
- The commander of the Hanko Group approved the plan, but made few changes:
- The strength of the reconnaissance patrol was increased with one non-commissioned officer, four men and with one motorboat driver. With the increased strength of the patrol, there would be three boats equipped with outboard motors, instead of two boats, as was originally planned. Additionally the Hanko Group commander denied the use of artillery fire in preparation of the reconnaissance patrol, as it was vital to try to surprise the Russians.
APPROVED BATTLE PLAN:
- The combat patrol will leave from the north shore of Björnholm at 19:30 o'clock. The boats will at first move in a single line, but later before Grönskär the boats will move into a broad front. The landing places in Grönskär are the east, north-east and north shore of the island. From here the men will advance uniformly along the island, keeping in touch with each others. The motorboat drivers and the engineers will stay with the boats. The task for the engineers is to set up the smoke boxes, to make it easier to retreat if needed. When the men have landed to the island, they will use hand grenades at first, to make it easier to capture prisoners.
- To blind the Russians, the men must use smoke grenades at the shoreline. In case of any surprises, combat patrol has been assembled to the east side of the southern tip of Prästö.
- The command post will be located in the western tip of Björnholm.
- The patrol will include volunteer men and it will be led by 2nd Lieutenant Karlsson, who was with the patrol, that visited the island last night.
Commander: The commander of the Sub-Section of Riilahti, Captain Kauuttila.
Troops of the Björnholm base: Shock platoon from the 73.Coastal Shock Company, engineer squad, machine gun half-platoon and two 20 mm anti-tank guns. Commander of the base is Lieutenant Rosenqvist.
Troops of the Prästö base: Shock platoon from the 73.Coastal Shock Company, reinforced machine gun platoon and a 47/40 gun. Commander of the base is Lieutenant Järvinen.
- For the mission, patrol led by 2nd Lieutenant Karlsson had been detached from the Björnholm base and patrol led by 2nd Lieutenant Rannala had been detached from Prästö. All together there was 8 motorboats, from which 3 were equipped with outboard motors.
Weather: Calm, cloudless sky, except in the east sky there is some clouds. Moon is fully visible at 18:35. Visibility is good. During the early morning hours 04:00 o'clock - 05:30 o'clock there was some fog at the sea level.
- As the artillery preparation had been left out from the plan and as such, the timetable of the patrol was not tied to the original landing time of 19:45 o'clock anymore and as additionally at 19:30 o'clock it wasn't still very dark due to the moon, the departure time of the patrol was delayed for a 40 minutes. Commander of the Riilahti Sub-Section informed this change to the commander of the Section Bromarv. Additionally it was noted that is was not possible to use smoke when approaching Grönskär, as it was too calm. Of course trying to achieve a surprise didn't really demand the use of smoke.
20:05 o'clock: The patrols move out from the north shore of Björnholm. The boats are at first moving silently by rowing. At first the boats are in a single line, but move into a boarder front when approaching Grönskär.
20:25 o'clock: The boats are just outside of Grönskär. Not a sound is heard from the island. The visibility is so good, that the boats are visible from Björnholm even without binoculars. When the first boat is right in the shoreline and the other a bit further away, heavy firing is opened right in front of the boats from the island. Judging from the noise, the firing is coming from several light machine guns, sub-machine guns and rifles.
- At the same time, few satchel charges and a large number of hand grenades is thrown from the island towards the boats. None of these however hits the boats. When the first boats touched the bottom, 2nd Lieutenant Karlsson jumped into the water and he was followed by Sergeant Palletvuori. The boat apparently had been stuck to a rock, because both men sunk into the sea right into their armpits. The motorboat driver and two other men were wounded immediately when the firing began. One man was killed instantly.
- When 2nd Lieutenant Karlsson noticed, that it was not possible with the remaining forces to get the boat quickly closer to the shore, he climbed back into the boat in order to help to get the boat moving again. At that time he was wounded. Simultaneously Corporal Hagström was killed. When the boat had been gotten off from the rock, 2nd Lieutenant Karlsson understood that it was not possible anymore with the remaining forces to land in Grönskär. He ordered to start the engine. Private Lindström moved into the drivers seat as a third man driving the boat, since Private Usohanoff, who had replaced the first driver, had already been wounded to chest and arm.
20:30 o'clock: Noises from a motorboat is heard in Björnholm. The motorboat is approaching Furuskär.
20:35 o'clock: Private Usohanoff manages to move the boat away from the shore of Grönskär, so that the fire from the island is not hitting the boat anymore. Sergeant Palletvuori who had remained in the water, had helped to move the boat away from the rock, by rowing with one hand and holding on to the boat with another. After getting away from the shoreline, he was lifted back to the boat.
- All the while the Russians in the shoreline bushes were fired at. Sergeant Palletvuori for example fired four sub-machine gun clips to the bushes. During the retreat none of the men used the smoke grenades, but took fire arms.
- The second boat from the patrol was within 20 meters from the shore, when its commander saw that the boat led by 2nd Lieutenant Karlsson was trying to pull back. Firing at the bushes in the shore of Grönskär, this boat also turned back. After getting the engine started, the boat moved further away, without suffering any casualties.
- The third boat from the patrol was within 15 meters from the shoreline, when it spotted firing coming against the boat right in front of the boat and additionally from the southern tip of Grönskär. When the commander of the boat spotted 2nd Lieutenant Karlsson pulling back and after three men had been wounded already, they also turned back and were able to start their engine.
- After returning to Björnholm, Private Marjunen died, after being driver of the boat, when the first driver had been wounded to both arms.
- After noticing that the mission failed, Captain Kauuttila informed the result to Major Karvinen, who ordered Lieutenant Rosenqvist to go and meet the boats, which were returning to Björnholm and to investigate the losses and why the second and third boat had turned around so quickly.
- Looking the situation from Björnholm, one got the idea, that the second and third boat turned back too early and without any reason at all. When Kauuttila requested instructions, Major Karvinen ordered the artillery and mortars to start firing Grönskär, Furuskär and Länsman.
20:40 o'clock: Second motorboat is heard of approaching Furuskär. After few minutes, voices were heard from the southern tip of the island. Few men were spotted of moving in the northern tip. Most likely the men manned positions in the island. Few dark figures are also spotted in the southern tip of Furuskär. No boats are seen.
20:40 - 20:45 o'clock: Shouting and fighting noises is heard from the south-west area of Grönskär. The boats of the patrol return to Björnholm. The medics from Björnholm and Prästö under the command of Lieutenant Rosenqvist give first aid to the wounded (1 officer and 6 men) after which they are transported to the pier of Grundsund with a motorboat. Medical Captain Framokenhausen inspects the patients, after which they are being transport to the field hospital at around 22:15 o'clock.
20:45 o'clock: Artillery and mortars start to fire Grönskär and Furuskär. All together about 62 - 69 grenades are fired. Part of the grenades land into the sea.
21:05 o'clock: Björnholm hears of motorboat leaving from Furuskär.
21:35 - 22:15 o'clock: Bertta (8 inch gun) fires six shots to Furuskär and two shots to Grönskär. All of the shots land into the islands. Two of the shots fail to explode (these have not been found later).
22:00 o'clock: The 40/40 Vickers and 25 mm Marianne direct firing guns fire from Sommarö to Grönskär. All together some 25 + 15 shots are fired. The decision of opening fire was made by the commander of the Sommarö base, who thought that the artillery and mortar fire was inaccurate.
22:20 o'clock: Björnholm hears a motorboat driving from Grönskär to Länsman. The boat is spotted by the bases of Prästö and Sommarö. The motorboat appeared to be an open one and it was very fast. The Sommarö base opened fire against the boat and fired two shots from the 47/40 gun. After this the boat disappeared. No hits were observed to the boat. Additionally Vickers fired ten shots and Marianne three shots. Machine gun fired also two belts empty. Russians responded to the firing, by firing with a machine gun from Länsman, mortars from Horsön and with anti-aircraft guns from the direction of Hanko.
23:02 o'clock: 7.Battery joins to the bombardment, by firing to Grönskär and Furuskär 35 + 33 grenades.
23:10 o'clock: Major Karvinen gives an order to Captain Kauuttila to send three to four men patrols to Grönskär and to Furuskär to see whether or not the islands are still held by the Russians. If the islands are noticed of being empty from the Russian troops, permanent garrison must be left to the islands.
23:15 o'clock: Captain Kauuttila orders the commander of the combat patrol 2nd Lieutenant Rannala to choose two patrols, each of them with four men and one officer or a non-commissioned officer. Second patrol would be led by 2nd Lieutenant Rannala himself. Björnholm gives two outboard motors for the patrols. The patrols do not need to engage into a combat, but just to check if the islands are still occupied by the Russians or not.
23:40 o'clock: 2nd Lieutenant Rannala informs that everything is ready. However no volunteer driver for the second motorboat has come forward. Captain Kauuttila orders that someone should be taken as a driver. The driver must be brought to the boat forcibly if needed. At the same time, Russians fire time-fused grenades to the sound between Prästö and Björnholm. 8.Battery start to fire Länsman with artillery strikes. All together 132 grenades is shot to the island.
00:06 o'clock: Captain Kauuttila notices, that the patrols which are moving in the north side of Björnholm cannot reach their objectives before the artillery preparation will stop. Because of this, Kauuttila asks to continue the artillery preparation at least to 00:15 o'clock. At that time at least the patrol going to Grönskär should be close enough of the island.
00:15 o'clock: The artillery fire stops. The Grönskär patrol still has some 50 meters to go before the shoreline and the Furuskär patrol has some 300 meters to go before the shoreline. The patrols land into the islands without seeing anyone. Especially the landing into Grönskär was quick in the south-east shore, because the men rowing the boat turned the side of the boat towards the shore, after which everyone jumped to the shore. When the patrol in Grönskär was approaching the middle part of the island, the men heard faint scratching. When no one came out from the forest, despite of the "ruki verh" being shouted, two men fired a short bursts into the forest. Most likely the scratching noise was caused by a mouse or a mole.
00:20 o'clock: Captain Kauuttila orders the commanders of the bases, to send a one squad from Prästö to Grönskär and one squad from Björnholm to Furuskär.
00:25 o'clock: Captain Kauuttila informs Major Karvinen about his observations and about actions taken regarding the occupation of the islands. Additionally Kauuttinen asks for a constant artillery fire to Länsman, so that the Russians cannot disturb the movement of boats, which are bringing reinforcements to the islands. Additionally the harbour areas in Horsön should be harassed, in case of boats are being gathered for a counter-attack.
- Little later Captain Kauuttila asks for instructions regarding the size of the garrison to the island. Kauuttila suggests that two squads and two machine guns would be stationed in Grönskär and one and a half squads and two machine guns would be stationed in Furuskär. The machine guns would be moved from the mainland bases of Grundsund and Pöraiagia. The proposal is accepted.
00:30 o'clock: Men in Grönskär hear noises from the direction of Länsman. Coughing and now and then a sound from a motorboat is heard. Judging from the noises the motorboat is moving back and forth behind of Länsman. 8.Battery and mortars start to fire Länsman with a constant harassing fire. Firing continues all the way to the dawn. All together some 200 - 205 grenades is fired to Länsman. Additionally 14.Battery and mortars start to fire harassing fire to the harbour areas of Horsön, firing some 176 grenades.
01:30 o'clock: The Grönskär and Furuskär are garrisoned as planned.
01:50 o'clock: Captain Kauuttila orders to move the machine guns to the islands. Communication officer is given a task to acquire some 2 kilometers of field phone cable and two phones and to send a three man team to connect the phone cable. Weapon officer is additionally given a task to acquire ammunitions for the garrisons. The commanders of the bases, should additionally give engineer equipment for the men in Grönskär and Furuskär. Also motorboats to transport the equipments should be reserved.
02:30 o'clock: The engine noise behind of Länsman ends.
04:30 o'clock: The phone line is connected and the two machine guns are in Grönskär. No killed or wounded Russians were found from the island.
05:00 o'clock: Faint noise from a motorboat is heard from Länsman.
05:30 o'clock: The boat connection between Furuskär, Grönskär and Björnholm is ended. A boat equipped with an outboard motor is left to Grönskär and to Furuskär. There is no time to move the machine guns to Furuskär, so the island is left without these weapons. Only loot which is found from Furuskär are three clips from a Suomi sub-machine gun and a clip to automatic rifle.
- Judging from the noises, a big motorboat was moving on the side of the mainland through out the night. The boat however was not spotted.
- The following locations for weapons were found from Grönskär, judging from the bullets: A Russian and Swedish light machine gun has been positioned in the northern tip of the island as well as a sub-machine gun. Swedish light machine gun has been positioned in the southern tip as well as a automatic rifle and a rifle with telescopic sight, which was found from the south side of the island.
- Canned food and vodka has been the main food for the Russians.
- Our own losses were three killed and six wounded men. Only one of the men was seriously wounded. Rest of them had just flesh wounds.
- During the battle artillery, mortars and direct firing guns fired some 1258 grenades.
- Judging from the bullets and from firing which came from Grönskär, the Russians had two squads in the island, which had been sent from Horsön. The same amount of Russian troops have visited Furuskär. The fire discipline of the Russians was good. At least some of the Russians were wounded, judging from the gauzes, pieces of underwear, boots and uniforms in Grönskär. The wounded were transported away from the island.
- The islands of Grönskär and Furuskär were held till the Battle of Sommaröar 23.10.1941.
Communiqué: 06.10.1941 - 07.10.1941:
- Our own artillery fired to Grönskär, Furuskär, Länsman and Horsön. At 19:50 o'clock our patrols moved with three boats towards Grönskär and Furuskär. When the first boat reached the shoreline, a heavy fire was opened by the Russian troops, after which all of the three boats had to pull back eventually. During this time three of our men fell and six was wounded.
- After our own artillery had fired constantly for three and a half hours, another landing was made to the islands. The islands were occupied.
- To build this presentation, I have mostly used the combat report and partly war diaries and communiqués. Additionally I have used the dissertation of Major Aarva about the island battles of Bromarv during the Hanko Front 1941. The dissertation is from 1946 and it has been evaluated by persons, who were well aware of the events in Hanko Front: Major Karas, Major Moring and Colonel Kesämaa. Information from these sources I have cross-checked with the book Hanko Cape in the Second World War by Niilo Lappalainen. The maps which are part of this presentation, are drawn by using the maps attached to the combat report. Also the actual text has been used to draw the maps.
- From the eight shots, which were fired by the eight inch gun, two failed to explode according to the combat report. It is very likely that the duds ended to Furuskär where they still remain, because if the troops which moved to the island during the night failed to find them, it is rather unlikely that the ammunitions have been found later.
Copyright © 2006, 2007 Kimmo Nummela