("Summer resident")

- One of my two aunts worked as a supply Lotta (Finnish Women Auxiliary Organization) near the structure 425 and the second one worked in the canteen near the "command post". She met her future husband there, who came for a break from the fiery hell of the island of Porsön.

- From them I've hear something about the history of the area during the existence of the Hanko Front, but more I've heard from a person, whose father was a part time charger and participated to the fortification construction in the area of Bredvik. When the war started, he worked as a supply private according to my understanding. In any case, he told that he had been delivering soup to the crew of the gun position 40 a & b, but that one of the two gun positions had received a direct hit and the crew had died. I've also heard the date, but unfortunately I've forgotten that. Time didn't destroy the parapet, but a Soviet grenade. The plaque attached to the position, is most likely connected to this event.

- The pictures in the structure 601 show also Soviet grenades. The place of the structure on the map is a bit off. The dugout row is on the northern side of the rock and not on its west side. The copper rings in the grenades are in grooves, indicating that the grenades have been shot. The grooves have come from the gun barrel. These kind of items are still quite numerous and someone has collected them to that area and either forgotten them or thought, that the unexploded grenades could still explode. The boys of one family got themselves bicycles after the war, by collecting iron from the battle areas and selling it to the scrap dealer in Hanko. According to a rumor, the most common bathhouse stove stone in the area, is fragments from grenades...

- Personally I am convinced, that the cellar that you have marked as a "command post", is just a cellar. It is exactly like the cellars were during the 18th and 19th century. I think, that the structure which has been constructed to the slope of the sand pit, must have been in a bad condition already during the war and just one grenade landing near of the structure, might have collapsed the roof. The last proof is the wooden door, where the construction clearly shows, that it is a civilian structure. Of course there is another civilian structure, which was taken into a military use. It was a  granary, which functioned as a fire and observation position. The beautiful structure received a direct hit. According to my understanding, a wooden structure in the area was a command post. In that same structure was the canteen. The stone foundation of the structure is barely visible in the area.

- The structure 40 was destroyed by the Russians, but the structure 409 was destroyed by a modern time firm, Teollisuuden Voima Oyj. The road which leads to that peninsula, went more on the western side of the peninsula, as it goes today. The company owned the peninsula, island of Marholmen, island of Bredvik Möön and half of the island of Storholmen as well as mainland on the west side of Storholmen. The land in the island of Marholmen were sold to the company personnel and for the boat connection, the road was moved to lead to the eastern shore of the Marudden peninsula. Additionally a place to put the boats into the water was constructed. The structure 409 is located on this spot.

- I haven't really noticed the anti-tank obstacles, which are shown in the south-west corner of the Bredvik area map. I'm not completely sure about the middle section of the map. The anti-tank obstacles, which are shown in the Vestervik area map, most likely are real ones. The fire and observation nest which are marked to the map, are mostly located in completely wrong places, in a sense, that they could have not directed fire or observe anything from those locations.

- Additionally along with these structures in the mainland, there is also traces from lighter structures in the island Stroholmen. The place was not as far from the frontline, as the map shows. Of course the borderline went on the northern side of the island of Horsön, but the Russians captured quite quickly the islands between Horsön and Storholmen, after the war had started. After that several bloody fights were fought for these islands, as the Finns tried to capture them back. The Finns however came second in the these battles.

- Thinking about the fortification history, the island of Horsön is an very interesting place. Especially the north-west area of the island, which is known with the name Utterklint. There was about 500 Russian soldiers in the island. There is even bathhouse stove stones left from the tent saunas. The Hanko Front wasn't just a lock, it  was an active frontline and relatively bloody fighting occurred in the islands and not just on the island of Bengtskär, which everyone knows.

One of the last Finnish post deliveries from Hanko - 19.03.1940

- Local legend tells, that when the Russians were evacuating Hanko and the transport ship "Josef Stalin", was ready to go, a 10 inch grenade landed to the rear deck. The grenade was fired with an howitzer from the area of Bredvik. Despite of this, the transport ship with an damaged steering system left to the sea. According to the fire controllers, the rear deck was on fire. Later the ship most likely hit an mine and as it was drifting, it became a  target practice in the coast of Estonia, for the German pilots. There was about 7 000 Russian soldiers leaving with the ship, but only 1 700 survived from the ship.

- About five years ago, there was explosions in the area, from where the Finnish howitzer fired. After a long hot period a thunder came and went. Three days from that, there was explosions in the forest. Few days after that a local resident smelled smoke and walked to the forest. Few arias of swamp was burning. The fire brigade got everything under control quite quickly. A lightning had struck to a small fir on top a rocky hill. Its roots had led the fire to the moss in the swamp. The peat which was smoldering had ignited about a half-dozen Finnish AA-grenades. Additionally half-dozen unexploded grenades were also found from the same spot.

- When you write in the Grundsund area, that the Hangö Granit was operational till the year 1940, that might not be true. Of course the operations in Hanko ended to the occupation of the area and was in halt for the duration of the war, but after the war, the same or some other company continued to mine the light gray granite from Grundsund and from Brakholm in Bredvik area. This granite ended to the facades of Tehtaankatu 1. (A street address in Helsinki, where the Soviet and present day Russian embassy is located.)

- Most likely the structure 422, was nothing more than an ammunition storage.

- The structure 405, is actually a four T-letter shaped structure mined to the rock. The cross direction is about 2,5 meters and vertical direction about 5 meters. Depth is about 2,5 meters. As a former coastal artillery man, I have thought this as a typical place for a coast artillery battery. Although I have wondered, what kind of weapons they have thought to use in this place. Most likely a heavy mortars or perhaps 90mm guns, which were referred as a "Hyppy-Heikki" (Jumping Heikki). In any case, these have not been machine gun positions.

- I also do not think, that the structure 404 was a machine gun position. The structure has also "sisters" nearby.

- The structure 407 isn't on the place, where the map indicates it to be. This structure is also located on a summer cottage yard. The structure is about 7 meter wide mined pit to the rock, which is about 5 meter deep. Part of the back wall is missing. I have thought these to be partly constructed places, to where coast artillery turrets would have been located.

- Structure 409 is very similar to the structure 407 and a third similar structure can be found from the south-west area of 405. It is very hard to think these, as a accommodation bunkers.

- Along with observing the terrain and listening the local stories, I have read the Hanko Cape in Second World War by Niilo Lappalainen. Locally the most touching story is on the pages 103 to 105, which tells about the battle in the islands of Gunnarsholm (Gunnholmen) and Stackörn. These islands were located on the Finnish side of the border, but Russians had captured them already in July 1941. After that, few bloody fights took place there, until the major attempt to retake the islands were launched from the Finnish side on 2nd of September 1941. The attempt was led by Captain Karas. In the pitch black night, the attack however stopped in the middle of the island to a heavy Russian resistance. Karas started to pull back. Russians however had transported troops behind the Finnish troops to the north-east corner of the island. Was there one or two transport boats is unclear. One of the boats the Finnish troops managed to sink to the shoreline, with a piled-up charge. That boat is still there, cut in two like a shellfish. There was a huge confusion and Karas hastened to retreat.

- Lappalainen tells: "The enemy managed to reach northern shoreline, just as the Finns were loading themselves to the boats. Uraa shouts could be heard everywhere. The situation turned into a confusion, as the Russians fired boats and the men, who tried to get into them. There were too few boats, so pulling back was very slow. In the end, the retreat turned into a flight."

- Unlike you can understand from the military history, the people living in the archipelago, didn't have too many motor boats in the 1930's. Attack made by a motorized fishing boat, meant one motor boat, which was towing three to four rowing boats. About two hundred Finnish soldiers attacked to Gunnarsholm and they were moved to the island in at least two waves. When the troops started to retreat, the boats were waiting in the northern shore, but of course there was not a room for everyone. Captain Karas however did find a place in the motor boat. The Russians were firing from the tall rocky hill down towards the boats, which were moving very slowly, as those were being towed by the motor boat. Captain Karas took his knife and cut the towing rope. He didn't intend to be one of those 78 men, who lost their lives. The men in the rowing boats were easy targets for the Russians, who were firing from the tall hill. Few days after this, southern wind carried one boat to the shore of Möön. The boat was full of fallen Finnish soldiers, laid down there by the Russians.

- Most of the men in Bromarv section were from the local area. Few years after the war, Captain Karas had been recognized in the Church of Bromarv. "The Finnish Swede happiness and tolerance" had disappeared instantly and the man had been beaten quite badly. However he didn't make any crime report.

Field postcard 13.03.1942

- I have been snorkeling with my offspring in the waters of Gunnholmen (Gunnarsholm), when the water was still clear. At the bottom of the sea, on the northern side of the island, there is everything that a desperate soldier throws away, when he tries to swim over the sound, which is half a kilometer wide. Unlike the common comprehension, islanders are usually poor swimmers.

- You mention that the fortification map is from the spring of 1940. Perhaps somewhere is also the plan, which was used to carry out the mining job, because the differences with the map on your site and what can be found, are noticeable. According to my understanding, the reason for these changes were strategic. In 1940 Finland was fearing an invasion, but in 1941 we were getting ready to expel the Russians.

- What I've heard, is that there were German military personnel visiting in Bredvik area, along with a Finnish military personnel and planning the fortification construction work. I think that the story is reliable and as such, it is possible, that they would have planned coast turret guns to the area. The area is not that poor place, to construct coast turret guns, if you think that the goal was to close the Gulf of Finland and prevent Russians from supplying Hanko. Russarö was occupied by the Russians and Jussarö island was hopelessly unprotected and had to by supplied by sea. The Fort of Örö and Fort of Bolax cover the western side of Hanko, but now we are talking about the eastern side of Hanko.

- In the end, no coast turret guns were constructed, but for example armoured ship Väinämöinen was brought to the western shore of Bromarv, to bombard Hanko. Perhaps the reason why there were no coast turret guns, was not because of lack of resources, but because Operation Barbarossa started "too early".

- The strategic meaning of Hanko for the Germans was a bit different, than for the Finnish military personnel in 1940. Hanko would be left behind of the German troops, as they would be going through the Baltic states. That's why, the Germans started to bomb Hanko immediately after they had started Operation Barbarossa, even when Finland was neutral still for few days.

- The reason why the Finnish Defence Forces in 1955 clearly has underestimated the quality and number of the fortified positions in the area, might be because of the political reasons. Perhaps they didn't want to tell, that the fortification constructions would have served more to an offensive plan, than for a defensive one.

- And for the end, one personal memory; In 1958 there was a nation wide Scout Camp in Silversand of Hanko. There was for example orienteering competitions, meaning that we run a lot in the forests, following the trenches. The barbed wires were a real nuisance. Back then, the collection of scrap iron was still on going operation and for example the helmets were a really valued souvenirs, but of course there was not enough of those for everyone. So many had to be satisfied to a unused AA-gun ammunitions and to a smaller items. Those were carried around Finland in a fully loaded bags...


Copyright © 2006, 2007 Kimmo Nummela