FORMATIONS (TO&E), PART 9

World War II: Engineer Corps / Sappers

 

During Winter War (1939 - 1940) the basic unit of Finnish Engineer Corps was Engineer Company, 33 of which were established for the Winter War. However, the sizes and organisations of Finnish Winter War era Engineer Companies varied considerably. Below are three versions, which should give some idea about the basic structure. At that time Engineers had been intended to be used as experts, which made demolitions, build minefields, build entrenchment and bridges etc, but rarely took part in combat in frontline. However, during the war also Engineer units had to often take part in battles as replacement of infantry.

Basic unit of Finnish Engineer Corps during Continuation War (1941 - 1944) was Engineer Battalion, 24 of which were established for Continuation War. Below are also TO&E of Bridge Company (9 established), Engineer Platoon of Infantry Regiment (one per regiment) and some more special Engineer units belonging to Regiment/Brigade/Division military units introduced in other TO&E pages of this website. On its own Finnish Engineer Battalion TO&E did not officially include any flame-thrower unit before September of 1943. However unofficially Flame-thrower Platoons equipped with Italian M/40 and (soon also with) captured Soviet M/41-R flame-throwers fought in Finnish troops starting from beginning of Continuation War.

During Interim Peace (1940 - 1941) Finnish Engineer Corps sent their representative to study methods, which German sturmpioniere were using. These studies and Finnish experiences from Winter War lead to introduction of new training doctrine: Taistelupioneerikoulutus (Combat engineer training), which was spread to Finnish Engineer units during Continuation War. The combat engineer training introduced more aggressive frontline combatant role for Engineers / Sappers, making its best to transform them as specialists in attacking fortifications and armoured vehicles with equipment such as satchel charges, bangalore torpedos and pole charges. September of 1943 TO&E of Engineer Battalion went through a change: Search Light Platoon was officially replaced with Jaeger Engineer Platoon (Jääkäripioneerijoukkue) equipped with portable flame-throwers. At the same time the newly introduced Jaeger Engineer Platoons meant that the "unofficial and outside-TO&E" Flame-thrower Platoons disappeared.

PICTURE: Finnish Army sappers photographed in middle of building punt boat bridge (ruuhisilta). Building and destroying bridges plus helping infantry to cross rivers was bread and butter of engineer corps already before World War 2, although their inventory of equipment got notably more versatile during the war. The insignia in upper left corner is World War 2 era uniform insignia of Finnish engineer corps / sappers - combination of axe, pickaxe, shovel head and sword. Photographed by Hedenström. (SA-kuva.fi photo archive, photograph number 96228).

 

Engineer Company, 1939 (by the book according official TO&E):

Company Commander (pistol)

Company HQ Squad

Telephone Squad

3 Engineer Platoons

Supplies Platoon

Total strength of Engineer Company: 5 officers + 31 NCO + 211 men = 247

Company had 28 towing-horses with carts or sledges. Skis were reserved for everyone for winter use. The company did mot yet have any automatic weapons or flame-throwers.

Notice: This by the book TO&E was not used when Finnish Army was mobilised for Winter War! Especially the 7 Squads strong Platoon had proved impractical already before the war.

 

Engineer Company, 1939 - 1940 (Planned, but not exactly implemented in mobilisation):

Company Commander (pistol)

Company HQ Squad

Telephone Squad

3 Engineer Platoons

Supplies Platoon

Notice: This one TO&E was planned, but it was not implemented (at least in large scale) either. However, it gives detailed picture of what the different parts of Engineer Company contained.

 

17th Engineer Company, 1939 - 1940 (actual real unit as an example):

Company Commander (pistol)

Company HQ

4 Engineer Platoons

Supplies Platoon

Total strength of Engineer Company: 6 officers + 27 NCO + 227 men = 260

Company had 30 towing-horses with carts or sledges. Skis were reserved for everyone for winter use. The company did not have any automatic weapons or flame-throwers.

 

PICTURE: Finnish engineers with antitank-mine M/36. Both soldiers appear to be wearing standard issue military uniform m/36 with summer tunic m/36 and Swedish steel helmet m/26. Soldier on the right has puukko knife and short boots m/34. Photographed by Aukusti Tuhka in July of 1941 in Hanko / Hango / Gangut Peninsula. Lower right corner of the photograph has uniform insignia of Finnish Engineer Corps. (SA-kuva.fi photo archive, photograph number 25925).

 

Engineer Battalion, 1941 - 9/1943:

Battalion commander

Battalion HQ

Search light Platoon

3 Engineer Companies

Strength of Engineer Battalion (1941 - 9/1943):

Strength of Engineer Company (1941 - 9/1943):

 

Flame-thrower Platoon, 1941 - 9/1943:

Platoon leader (pistol, SMG)

Platoon leaders assistant (Sergeant, SMG)

3 Flame-thrower Squads

Mechanics

Truck drivers

Note: Total number of portable flame-throwers reserved for the platoon was 12, but only half of them (6) were in use simultaniously. The flamethrowers used were M/40 (Italian model 35) and captured M/41-R (Soviet ROKS-2) and each flame-thrower needed to crew of two men to operate it.

 

Engineer Battalion, 9/1943 - 9/1945:

Battalion commander (pistol)

Battalion HQ (pistols + rifles)

3 Engineer Companies

Jaeger Engineer Platoon

Note: Total number of portable flame-throwers reserved for the platoon was 12, but only half of them (6) were in use simultaniously. The flamethrowers used were M/40 (Italian model 35) and captured M/41-R (Soviet ROKS-2) and each flame-thrower needed to crew of two men to operate it.

Strength of Engineer Battalion (9/1943 - 1944):

Horses (with carts/sledges): 36

 

Bridge Company, 1941 - 1942:

(Engineer unit type specialised to river crossings)

Company Commander

Company Commanders assistant (Sergeant major)

Company HQ Squad

3 Pontoon Platoons (pontoons also usable as ferries, 36 pontoon transport trucks)

Flatboat platoon (with 36 flatboats)

Supplies Platoon

 

Bridge Company, 1942 - 1945:

(Engineer unit type specialised to river crossings)

Company Commander

Company Commanders assistant (Sergeant major)

Company HQ Squad

3 Pontoon Platoons (pontoons also usable as ferries, 36 pontoon transport trucks)

Rapid-boat platoon (with 18 rapid-boats)

Supplies Platoon

Strength of Bridge Company (1942 - 1945):

Pontoon equipment (weighting 135 tons) of Bridge Company could be used to built:

 

PICTURE: Combat engineer unit of Finnish Army in training. Soldiers are equipped with sections of bangalore torpedo, satchel charges and stick hand grenades. First soldier from the left has Suomi M/31 submachine gun with 50-round box magazine. Photographed by Öhrnberg in Hanko / Hango / Gangut Peninsula in October of 1942. Lower right corner of the photograph has uniform insignia of Finnish Engineer Corps. (SA-kuva.fi photo archive, photograph number 114608).

 

Engineer Platoon of Infantry Regiment, 1941 - 1945:

Platoon Leader

Platoon leaders assistant (Sergeant)

4 Engineer Squads

 

Engineer Company of Cavalry Brigade, 1941 - 1945:

Company Commander

Company HQ Squad

Telephone Squad

3 Engineer Platoons

 

Engineer Platoon of Cavalry Regiment, 1941 - 1945:

Platoon Leader

Platoon leaders assistant (Sergeant)

4 Engineer Squads

 

Motorised Engineer Battalion of Armour Division, 1942:

Battalion Commander

Battalion HQ

3 Engineer Companies

 


Last updated 15th of May 2021
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Copyrights (text and graphics): Jaeger Platoon Website. Copyrights of photographs vary on case to case basis and are marked along each picture.