By Bair Irincheev

Within the wake of the bloody civil struggle that Finland's independence from Russia in 1917, the border among the 2 international locations used to be tested around the Karelian Isthmus, a space lengthy fought over via Russia, Finland and Sweden of their makes an attempt to dominate the northern tip of Europe. Neither the Soviets nor the Finnish have been ok with any such divide, which supplied an open path for a possible invader to Helsinki at the Finnish facet, and was once in basic terms 32km from the $64000 army and commercial urban of Petrograd in Russia. As such, each side all started a thorough interval of fortification and protecting making plans. because the iciness conflict broke out in November 1939, the complicated and seriously defended Mannerheim Line suffered extreme bombardment and armored attacks. The armistice of could 1940 observed Finland cede keep watch over of the total Karelian Isthmus to the USSR although, and a propaganda warfare ensued; the Russians emphasizing the energy of the road, and the Finnish downplaying its significance, accentuating in its place the heroism and bravado of the typical Finnish soldier.

Through a close research of the historical past, layout and operational historical past of the Mannerheim Line, Bair Irincheev makes an attempt to dispel such myths and supply a correct evaluate of its enormous ancient value.

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Extra info for The Mannerheim Line 1920-39: Finnish Fortifications of the Winter War (Fortress, Volume 88)

Sample text

The next morning I was already lying in a snow trench on the rise opposite the bunker. Shikov and his engineers cut the path through the forest during the night. Artillery men rolled the gun into position and aimed it at the fortification. Finnish bullets started hitting the armoured shield of the gun like peas from a peashooter, and hissed above our heads. The snow started moving and hissing from long machine-gun bursts from the bunker. The gun fired its first shot. The shell exploded about 100 meters from us.

The 255th Rifles could not advance any further. Their officer losses were too high; the regiment had lost all three battalion commanders and two battalion chiefs of staff killed and wounded by 22 December. The Finns finally managed to liquidate the breakthrough on the night of 2 2 - 2 3 December 1939. Only the third of three Finnish attacks succeeded after a series of fierce hand-to-hand fighting in the trenches around 'Poppius'. The rest of December 1939 and January 1940 was filled with small skirmishes and scout party raids from both sides.

When Captain Auno Kuiri heard about the breakthrough at the frontline, he left the command bunker in order to inspect the situation in person. After walking 50m towards the 'Poppius' bunker, he was pinned down by machine-gun fire from five advancing Soviet tanks. Kuiri had to hide in a shell crater all day long, and a rumour spread around the battalion that he had been killed. Several Soviet tanks surrounded the command bunker of the battalion. The battalion staff officers burnt all the papers and prepared for the worse.

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