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[LAPPOHJA 01.07.1941] [STORKROKAN
01.07.1941] [DRAGSVIK 06.07.1941]
BATTLES IN THE ISLAND GROUP OF HÄSTÖ 18.07.1941
Communiqué: 05.07.1941 - 06.07.1941:
- During the early morning hours of 06.07.41 the Russians in the east archipelago occupied Stora Valterholm from Hästö-Busö. Our own observers had pulled back before the occupation. The Russian planes attacked against the islands of Heimusholm and Hästö before the attack. The air attack started around 03:05 o'clock and lasted for about forty minutes. Additionally two Russian bombers and six fighter planes attacked against the islands of Lilla Långholm and Långholm with bombs and machine guns. The most fiercest attack was aimed against the islands of Hästö and Lilla Långholm. During this air attack, the Russian artillery from the island of Koö started to fire. The heaviest barrage hit the island of Stora Valterholm. After this, the Russians landed into the island.
- Two men were slightly wounded in the island of Heimusholm. There is no knowledge of other damages. Countermeasures have began in order to force the Russians away from Stora Valterholm.
Communiqué: 06.07.1941 - 07.07.1941:
- Heavy artillery fire was aimed to the Russian held islands in the east archipelago. Especially our artillery fired to Hermansö, Ekö, Koö, Storkrokan and to Stora Valterholm, which the Russians had occupied.
- At around 15:00 o'clock the Russian troops from Stora Valterholm tried to land in Lilla Långholm, with two rowing boats. The boats carried only few men. All of them were shot to the water.
- At around 19:25 our troops noticed, that the Russians are reducing their troops in Stora Valterholm, as two boats from Hästö-Busö visited the island and there were more men in the boats on their way back to Hästö-Busö, than there was on the way to Stora Valterholm.
Communiqué: 09.07.1941 - 10.07.1941:
- On 09.07.41 at 13:30 o'clock to 15:30 o'clock the Russians fired Lilla Långholm with direct firing guns from the island of Koö. At the same time Russian opened machine gun and rifle fire from Stora Valterholm and from Hästö-Busö. This firing started a fire in Lilla Långholm and at that time, one house burned to the ground. No casualties was inflicted to our troops.
Hästö battle station:
Strength: 1 officer, 3 non-commissioned officers and 15 men from the 31.Frontier Jaeger Company and a mortar platoon from the Coastal Battalion 1.
Armament: Machine gun, two light machine guns and other infantry weapons.
Situation: There is a one light machine gun at the tip of Furuholmen, which is manned around the clock. The observation position is located at this same spot. Machine gun and light machine gun are located on the west side of Hästö. The weapons are manned whenever Furuholmen informs that they have observed movement from the Russian side. The weapons are located right next to the accommodation dugout. During the dark hours, either Sergeant Pohjola and Jaeger Kataja are in Furuholmen or when the island is covered in smoke. There is a one phone in the observation position of Furuholmen, which is connected to the same line with the phone in the accommodation dugout. The island of Grislom has also a phone, which is connected to Hästö and Furuholmen. One motorboat has been reserved for Hästö. However the boat broke down on 16.07.41 and it had to be left to Långholm. Three rowing boats has been also reserved, but one was shot to pieces by the Russian fighters and two had been loaned to the RT 1 during the night of 17.07.41 - 18.07.41.
Grislom battle station:
Strength: 1 non-commissioned officer and 8 men from the 31.Frontier Jaeger Company.
Armament: Light machine gun, 14mm anti-tank rifle and other infantry weapons.
Situation: The anti-tank rifle and light machine gun are constantly in position. Observation is taken care of from the light machine gun position and during the night from the sub-machine gun position. All men sleep in shelters near of the firing positions. Guard duty has been taken care of during the nights. Two rowing boats has been reserved for Grislom, but only one boat is in the shore during the night of 17.07.41 - 18.07.41.
Lilla Långholm battle station:
Strength: 13 men from the 31.Frontier Jaeger Company.
Armament: Two light machine guns and other infantry weapons.
Situation: One light machine gun is in position on the west shore of the island. The second light machine gun is located on the south shore.
Vrakholm battle station:
Strength: 1 non-commissioned officer and 8 men from the 31.Frontier Jaeger Company and a fire control team led by an officer.
Armament: Light machine gun, 14mm anti-tank rifle and other infantry weapons.
Situation: Light machine gun and anti-tank rifle are in position on the west shore of the island.
Archipelago of Hästö at 01:10 o'clock:
- The war diary of 1.Company from Coastal Battalion 1 tells:
- On 18.07.41 at 01:10 we started to hear firing from automatic weapons from the direction of Hästö. All men are in positions, from where we have observed the events and the forest fires in the direction of Hästö, which are started by our own artillery.
Archipelago of Hästö at 01:30 o'clock:
- At 01:30 o'clock noise from a plane was heard and soon two MBR-2 flying boats appeared from the direction of Tvärminne. These flew above Grislom, from where they turned towards Hästö. The planes were flying at an altitude of about 300 meters, with a slow speed. Both planes dropped simultaneously their bomb loads in the middle of the island. Due to this bombing, the phone lines were cut off. After the planes had flew over Hästö, they turned back and opened fire with machine guns. This attack was joined by the Russian artillery and mortars, which started to fire from Hästö-Busö, Koö, Långskär and from Brännskär. Additionally five Russian fighter planes appeared above the island and started to circle around, while now and then diving towards the island with machine guns firing.
Grislom at 01:45 o'clock:
- Three boats appeared behind Stora Valterholm and drove to the shore of Grislom. The artillery fire was still going on at that time. The length of the boats was about 20 to 25 meters. Armament included two guns, from which one was located in stern and one in bow. Additionally the boats were armed at least with one machine gun. The speed of the boats was enormous. Only a bow wave could be observed and additionally the boats were nearly silent. The shore of Grislom is deep and the Russian boats managed to reach the south-west shore. After this the Russian troops started to pour out from the boats, trying to spread out to the shoreline. The Finnish defenders however opened fire from a distance of 35 meters with a light machine gun and with other infantry weapons. The Russian attack stopped to the shoreline and about hundred Russians fell to the shore. The anti-tank rifle and the light machine gun were ineffective to the Russian boats. At the same time as battle was being fought in the south-west shore of Grislom, one boat from Koö managed to land troops at the north-west shore of Grislom.
Hästö at 01:45 o'clock:
- As the artillery fire was still chewing the island of Hästö, five Russian boat from Koö appeared close to the shore. Two of these drove to the direction of Furuholmen, where they landed troops on the north shore of the island, south from Potskär. Additionally two boats drove to the north-east shore of Hästö, from where the Russians stormed the shore shouting uraa. One boat landed troops behind the defenders on the north shore and cut off the communication lines and a retreat path. The Russian troops didn't try to push deeper into the island immediately, but instead spread out along the shoreline into positions, trying to surround the Finnish defenders. Additionally the Russians started a forest fires from the direction of wind. The mortar platoon which was in the island, hadn't had the time to put their mortars into firing positions, as the platoon had been transferred to the island on the same night in three different waves. Because of this, rifles were given to the men and they fought with 2nd Lieutenant Seetrivuo, who was in charge of the Hästö area. The mortar platoon had arrived to the Hanko Front only a few days ago and hadn't had the time to get familiar with the area of operations. Russians managed to break our forces into small two to three men patrols, which fought without a coherent leadership, sometimes even shooting each others.
Lilla Långholm at 01:45 o'clock:
- At 01:45 o'clock Russians started to cross with two rowing boats the narrow sound between Stora Valterholm and Lilla Långholm. This attempt which consisted about twenty Russian soldiers, was beaten back.
Archipelago of Elgö at 02:00 o'clock:
- Captain Louhivuori tells about the actions of 18., 19. and 21.Separate Field Batteries during the battle:
- Around two o’clock in the night, I was asked to come to the phone and Lieutenant Rapeli informed, that the Russians have most likely attacked to Hästö, but that the situation is unclear and we cannot fire yet. The phone went mute suddenly and the reason for it was probably the furious Russian artillery fire, which was hitting the area around the command post. I immediately dispatched a patrol to locate the problem in the communication lines. After that I ordered the batteries into a full combat readiness and to aim their guns towards the pre-planned targets in Hästö and in Furuholmen. I then informed Captain Henriksson about the situation. I also tried to contact Lieutenant Rapeli using the Muka-centre, but this centre said that all the lines are out of action to Hästö and to Långholmen.
- I ordered the centre to send a patrol to locate the problem in communication lines, but they answered that they didn’t have any available men for that task. I also tried to contact the command post of the infantry, but it didn’t answer, so I rushed myself to there. Captain Mäkinen didn’t know anything about this whole incident and I reported to him what I knew. I returned to my command post and soon Captain Mäkinen called and said, that the Russians are in Skedö and asked us to fire the area. However I didn’t believe this information, so I called to the section commander.
Archipelago of Elgö at 02:30 o'clock:
- Captain Louhivuori tells:
- While talking with the section commander, I heard the voice of Lieutenant Rapeli in the line, who said that the Russians have taken Hästö and that the motorboats from Hästö-Busö are at the moment driving towards Lilla Långholmen. I immediately told the Lieutenant to pull back and move to the fire control position located in the southern tip of Elgö. I also said to him that according to some information, the Russians are also in Skedö and advised him to go around the area. I also informed that we are starting to fire Hästö, but then the line went mute again.
- I continued my conversation with the section
commander and informed that we are about to start to fire Hästö,
using map firing, because all the lines for fire control are out of
order. I immediately gave an order to all of the batteries to start
firing. I ordered the 19.Battery to fire Furuholmen and the 21. and 18.Batteries to fire Hästö with constant strikes. Moving the fire to
other islands was too risky in my assessment, because there could have
been own troops in them, like it was noticed later. The information from
the infantry commented that most of the shots were right in target. To
get back into a situation where the fire was observed, adjusted and
controller, I ordered 2nd Lieutenant Isopuro to move into the southern
tip of Elgö.
Lilla Långholm at 02:30 o'clock:
- The Russians renewed their attempt to land in Lilla Långholm. One motorboat came from Hästö-Busö and passed Stora Valterholm, from its east side. After this the boat drove with a full speed to the south shore of Lilla Långholm. About half of the boat ended to a dry land. The 40 to 50 Russian soldiers leaped out from the boat and started to spread out along the shoreline. No detailed information about the Russian armament is available. At the same time, the Russians tried again to cross the narrow sound between Stora Valterholm and Lilla Långholm. This time they were successful, as the rowing boats reached the shore.
Lilla Långholm, Grislom, Furuholmen and Hästö at 02:30 - 04:00 o'clock:
- The troops in Grislom pulled back to Koholm, in order to avoid being surrounded, after the Russians had managed to land in the north-west shore of the island.
- Our troops in Hästö and in Furuholmen started to pull back at around 02:45 o'clock and the battle in the island of Hästö was over around 03:00 o'clock. The last defenders of the island didn't pull back until twelve hours after the beginning of the battle. These were two men from the mortar platoon.
- The battle in Lilla Långholm lasted till 04:00 o'clock and at that time, all of the thirteen defenders of the island, had fallen. Not a single man came out from the island.
Vrakholm at 04:00 o'clock:
- After Lilla Långholm was in Russian hands, they opened fire from the island towards Vrakholm. Vrakholm had been under fire for about an hour, from several different weapons. At last one motorboat from Hästö-Busö drove to the south shore of Vrakholm, from where the Russian troops stormed the shore. The defenders started to pull back about 20 minutes later. The fire control team led by a Lieutenant Rapeli, had been pulled back already earlier. The troops managed to bring every weapon with them from Vrakholm. Only a anti-tank rifle and a sub-machine gun was lost to the sea, as a boat, which had left from Vrakholm, was shot to pieces and it sunk taking the weapons to the bottom of the sea.
Skedö at 04:00 o'clock:
- At 04:00 o'clock the first evacuees arrived to Skedö from the south-west islands partly swimming, partly with rowing boats. One Reserve Sergeant and a man from the mortar platoon told that the Russians had attacked to the island and had captured it.
Archipelago of Elgö at 06:20 o'clock:
- Captain Tulikoura gave an order to Captain Mäkinen, to move troops away from Heimusholm along with the reserve troops. These troops were to be deployed to Bökskär, Skedö, Långskär and Fladalandet, which are absolutely needed to be kept in the hands of our own troops. Additionally Captain Tulikoura ordered that reconnaissance need to be carried out to south-east to the direction of Korsholm and to south-west to the direction of Långholm. The Russian troop movement must be observed and to be sure, that the Russians cannot suddenly move to the rear area of our troops.
Archipelago of Elgö at 07:00 o'clock:
- Captain Louhivuori tells:
- When the morning came and the fighting was over,
we ceased firing with the permission from the infantry commander. At
that time our own troops had pulled back to Långholm. Hästö
was lost and Stoskär and the nearby islands was no-man's-land. Strong
action against Hästö, from the section artillery, to which also the
46.RT-fort participated, stopped the Russian attack into the western
area of Hästö.
Skedö at 08:00 o'clock:
- At 08:00 o'clock additional nine men from the mortar platoon arrived to Skedö. All of these men were sent to Elgö. There was a one Sergeant, who had been wounded to the shoulder.
Skedö at 20:50 o'clock:
- At 20:50 it was announced, that Russians are in Långholm and that our own troops have moved to Fladalandet.
- The following weapons were left from the 31.Frontier Jaeger Company to the islands of Hästö, Grislom and Lilla Långholm: One machine gun, five light machine guns, six sub-machine guns, one anti-tank rifle, twenty four rifles and eleven pistols. Additionally one anti-tank rifle and a sub-machine gun were sunk to the bottom of the sea, as a boat which left from Vrakholm, was shot to pieces. Also ammunitions and weapon equipments, which were in the islands, were left to the Russians.
- The mortar platoon left thirty four rifles, two mortars and 335 grenades to the mortars into the island. Additionally, equipment of nearly every man was left to the island.
- The Russians are estimated of loosing 250 men in the battles fought in the island group of Hästö.
- The war diary of the staff of Coastal Battalion 1 tells the result of the battle in a following way:
- It was announced, that Hästö, Grislom, Lilla Långholm, Vrakholm, Björkholm and Pattskär are in Russian hands.
Communiqué: 17.07.1941 - 20.07.1941:
- In the east archipelago the Russians from Koö attacked to the island of Hästö on 18.07.41. A heavy artillery and aerial bombardment to the west side of the island preceded the attack. The attack was carried out with a special fast boats. The Russian troops were excellently armed and they had at least one gun with them and plenty of automatic weapons. After bitter battles the Russians captured the island and has now spread to the islands near of Hästö, on the south side of the channel which leads to east. On the morning of 20.07.41 the Russians control the islands on the west side of the line Hästö - Långholm - Hästö-Busö. Our losses in these battles were one officer, 11 non-commissioned officers and 51 men.
- The Russian boat movement is very active in the east archipelago, especially from Hästö-Busö and Koö the boat movements are very active to the occupied islands. The Russian artillery fire is quite weak in the east archipelago.
Communiqué: 20.07.1941 - 21.07.1941:
- Russians have advanced to the islands on the east side of Hästö. Russians from Hasselholmen has been firing several shots with mortars to Svärdholm, Lassaholm and to the peninsula in Elgö on the north-east side of Bökskär. Our own mortars fired Hasselholmen with a good results. A fire was started in the island and the Russian mortars were silenced.
- The war diary of 2.Company from Coastal Battalion 1 tells 20.07.41:
- The forenoon is again peaceful. At around 16:00 o'clock Lieutenant Ahjopalo noticed movement in Hasselholmen. The observers thought, that the Russians had placed a gun or a mortar to position in the shore cliff. This observation was done at around 17:30 o'clock. No other movement was observed before 22:00 o'clock, when the Russians suddenly opened gun fire from Furutratt with two direct firing guns towards the base of Lieutenant Ahjopalo. Furutratt is the next island from Hasselholmen. Lieutenant Ahjopalo informed about this incident to the higher command level and asked artillery fire to be fired to the area, from where the Russians were firing.
- After about 2 to 3 minutes, grenades started to rain to the Russian positions, with extremely devastating effects. The Russian gun fire ceased immediately and the island was set on fire. The Russian troops started shouting and running away from their positions towards the back of the island. The possible Russian attempt to attack had been suppressed. From the Russian side, a noise from a big boat engine could heard now and then. Rest of the night was peaceful. No own casualties was suffered.
- The war diary of 31.Frontier Jaeger Company, which could enlighten the events best, cannot be found from the Military Archives of Finland. Either the war diary was left to the island of Hästö, or it was lost to the sea with 2nd Lieutenant Seetrivuo, who drowned while trying to swim from Hästö to Skedö.
- It is mentioned, that in Vrakholm there was thirteen men. It is however quite presumable that there was one or two non-commissioned officers in the island, even when they are not mentioned.
- The sub-machine gun and anti-tank rifle, which sunk with the boat, which left from Vrakholm, are most likely still at the bottom of the sea inside a triangle of Vrakholm - Björkholm - Elgen.
- The location of the Finnish weapons in the map is based to the map, which is attached along with the battle report. This map in the battle report, shows the location of the weapons before the battle.
- Even when in practice the front line as a result of the attack, moved all the way to the east side of Långholm, the islands of Långholm, Stoskär, Gloskär and the islands south of Stoskär were no-man's-land for a while. The Finnish troops occupied Långholm again a bit later and patrols often visited Pattskär to observe Hästö-Busö. Russians occupied and fortified permanently the line Vrakholm - Björkholm - Hasselholmen.
- 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. If you read carefully this presentation and the book by Lappalainen, you might notice that on some parts, this presentation differs from the book by Lappalainen.
- If the information presented in the book by Lappalainen have been in conflict with the combat report and with the war diaries, I have trusted to the original sources. On the other hand, if some details have been mentioned in the book by Lappalainen, but not in the original sources, I have tried to merge this information to the presentation. The main idea has been, that Lappalainen has gone through some sources, which I have not gone through for this presentation.
- The casualty figures of the Russian troops announced by the Finns are most likely quite correct. Although the number of fallen Russians in the shore of Grislom are exaggerated. Lappalainen has estimated that the Russian troops numbered about 160 to 250 men. This detachment must have received reinforcements during the battle.
Copyright © 2006, 2007 Kimmo Nummela