Finnish offensive that had started in June of 1941 captured both areas, which Finland lost in peace treaty after Winter War and parts of Carelia, which had belonged to Soviet Union before Winter War. The Soviet territory was captured both to provide Finnish troops more favorable defensive line, the so-called line of three isthmuses, and also to acquire suitable bargaining chip for the future peace negations. These three isthmuses were:

  1. Carelian Isthmus between Finnish Gulf of Baltic Sea and Lake Laatokka (Ladoga).
  2. Syväri / Svir Isthmus between Lake Laatokka (Ladoga) and Lake Ääninen (Onega).
  3. Maaselkä Isthmus between Lake Ääninen (Onega) and Lake Seesjärvi (Segozero).

From these three isthmuses Maaselkä was the last one and Finnish troops reached it in November - December of 1941. Carelian Isthmus has already been captured and Finnish troops has stopped their advance there 9th of September. Also Syväri Isthmus has been captured in October. Capturing Maaselkä Isthmus would mark the stopping point for Finnish offensive and started trench-war period of Continuation War, which would last until ended by Soviet offensives in summer of 1944.

6th of November 1941 Commander of Finnish Army, Field Marshal Mannerheim, issued new orders for Carelian Army for capturing Maaselkä Isthmus. According these orders: "once the operations in between Lake Ääninen and Lake Seesjärvi have reached railway stations of Karhumäki and Maaselkä, I order the attack to be stopped. After that the troops must at once take defensive stand in positions suitable for defensive purposes.."

PICTURE: Map showing the line of three isthmusses and frontlines before starting of this operation. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (182 KB).



Finnish troops were became ready to start their attack in Maaselkä Ishtmus in late November 1941. Town of Karhumäki in northern tip of Lake Ääninen (Onega) was an obvious target of this attack. Finnish 8th Division launched its attacks for capturing northern parts of Maaselkä Isthmus 21st of November and by 28th of that month it had captured its goals and took defensive positions in line Krivi railway station - Maaselkä - Suurlahti - Liisteenpohja. Finnish troops in the area included troops from two Army Corps - II Army Corps commanded by Major General Taavetti "Pappa" Laatikainen and VII Army Corps commanded by Major General Woldemar Hägglund. From II Army Corps in this operation took part 8th Division commanded by Colonel Winell and VII Army Corps took part in with 4th Division commanded by Colonel Viljanen.

PICTURE: View over the city of Karhumäki from Sanitorium Ridge. The city itself was on low ground and surrounded by hills. Photographed by Military official Eero Troberg in Christmas of 1941. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 68146). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (98 KB).

PICTURE: Map showing frontlines and location of troops in Karhumäki area before starting of the attack. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (223 KB).

Finnish troops of Karhumäki Operation:

4th Division:

- Infantry Regiment 25

- Infantry Regiment 26

- Infantry Regiment 35

8th Division:

- Infantry Regiment 45

- Infantry Regiment 56

- Infantry Regiment 60

1st Jaeger Brigade

2nd Jaeger Brigade

The Soviets had Operative Group of Karhumäki defending the town of Karhumäki and the area around it. This operative group commanded by Major General Mihail S. Knjazev contained three less then full strength Divisions - 37th, 71st and 313th Divisions. 1st of November 1941 these troops had about 46,700 men. In addition the Soviets had south of Seesjärvi Lake 289th Division commanded by Colonel Nikolai A. Tsernuha. They were also bringing in reinforcements - 8 Ski Battalions and 263rd Division from Archangel, but 263rd Division was destined to northern parts of Maaselkä Isthmus.

Troops of Soviet Karhumäki Operative Group:

313th Division:

- Infantry Regiment 1068

- Infantry Regiment 1070

- Infantry Regiment 1072

71st Division:

- Infantry Regiment 126

- Infantry Regiment 131

- Infantry Regiment 132

37th Division:

- Infantry Regiment 15

- Infantry Regiment 24

- Infantry Regiment 52

- Infantry Regiment 367

Considering the situation Finnish literature later wondered why the Soviets did not retreat from Karhumäki. The reason seems to have been fairly simple - the Soviet command was scared that the Finns might capture Murmansk railway and advance possibly as far as Sorokka - cutting off all Soviet troops in Kola Peninsula and northern parts of Soviet Carelia. 30th of October STAVKA ordered that Karhumäki had to be held "categorically" - retreat was not an option because at the time this part of front lacked any other troops capable stopping the Finnish advance if the Finns would capture Karhumäki.

There were obvious differences between Finnish and Soviet troops in Karhumäki area during this operation in quality of troops and strength of artillery. Finnish troops were better trained, more experienced and had much more artillery supporting them. All three Soviet Divisions seem to have been very much under the official table of organization strengths while Finnish units were typically much closer to full strength. While many of the Soviet units were likely rather poor quality (either fresh or created from other earlier destroyed units) especially Finnish Jaeger Brigades were on their way on of becoming elite troops of Finnish Army.



According Finnish plans VII Army Corps was first to capture important map point 94.7 after which II Army Corps was to attack town of Karhumäki (Medvezhyegorsk) and beyond mainly with its 4th Division. But the attack did not start as planned. Morning 5th of December 1941 Major General Lagus (commanding 1st Jaeger Brigade at the time) launched attack of his own. Reinforced 1st Jaeger Brigade commanded by Major General Lagus was near the frontline about 10 km east from town of Karhumäki and its mission was to attack towards Karhumäki along the road once attack of VI Army Corps would have first succeeded destroying bunkers covering the road.

Spearhead for the attack to Karhumäki was 1st Jaeger Brigade, which contained following troops:

The Brigade received orders for the attack 27th of November and started its march towards the frontline the next day. Before leaving from Äänislinna the tanks were painted with white winter camo and loaded full of ammunition. The marching distance to frontline was from Äänislinna was about 200 km, which was made in daily marches of about 60 - 67 kilometers. During this march temperature was around zero and slippery - which caused some accidents with bicycles. The Jaeger Battalions were first to reach their destination - by 13:30 in 1st of January. Four of the T-26 tanks break down during the march and had to be left behind, but fortunately there were few extra T-26 to replace them.

Because the Tank Battalion did not have enough tanks in operational condition for all its tanks just 1st Tank Company and Heavy Tank Company took part to this march. 3rd Company had been sent to this area of frontline already 9th of November and now joined to rest of the Battalion that arrived. 2nd Company had been left to Äänislinna, since there were not enough tanks for it. So the tanks of Tank Battalion that took part in this offensive included:

PICTURE: Two of the four T-28 tanks of Finnish Army, which took part in Karhumäki - Poventsa / Medvedjegorsk - Povenents offensive operation in freezing weather in December of 1941. The tank in the foreground is T-28 R-102. Notice all-white camo on the tanks. Photographer Tauno Norjavirta. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 66100). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (93 KB).

Troops camped and started making preparations. The artillery units got ready to support the attack around 3rd - 4th of December. Signal connections were organized for the operation. Three Combat Detachments were created for this operation:

Combat Detachments of 1st Reinforced Jaeger Brigade:

Detachment Hynninen (Major Hynninen):

- Jaeger Battalion 3

- Heavy Tank Company of Tank Battalion

- One Tank Platoon from 1st Tank Company of Tank Battalion

- Platoon from at-gun company 1st Jaeger Brigade

- Engineer Platoon of 1st Jaeger Brigade

Detachment Komonen (Captain Komonen):

- Jaeger Battalion 4

- 1st Tank Company of Tank Battalion (minus one platoon)

- 18th Antitank-gun Company

Detachment Häkkinen (Major Häkkinen):

- Jaeger Battalion 2

- 15th Antitank-gun Company (minus one platoon)

Already original attack plans were for the attack to continue to Poventsa (by the Stalin's Channel) and end there. No plans existed for continuing the attack further.



PICTURE: Map showing 1st parts of Finnish attacks (mainly 5th of December). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (229 KB).


First part of the attack - to Karhumäki and Pintuinen

5th of December all troops allocated for the attack were ready to go, but yet the attack did not start as planned earlier. Major General Lagus (commander of Reinforced 1st Jaeger Brigade) had received intelligence information, which convinced him to decide starting the attack immediately with the troops in his disposal instead of waiting attack of VII Army Corps to open route for his troops. Besides being highly unorthodox in the sense that it alternated from plans previously made in higher level this attack was also uncommon in the sense that it started without the usual preceding artillery preparation. This was quite unusual also because by Finnish standards rather large artillery assets had been prepared for this particular attack - 8 light artillery battalions, 5 heavy artillery battalions, mortar battalion and two light artillery batteries.

Infantry Regiments 25 and 26 (both belonging to 4th Division) began their attack from northwest of Karhumäki with the normal artillery preparation, which started 04:00 in 5th of December. The artillery support used for this preparation included three artillery battalions (1st Battalion/Field Artillery Regiment 1, 3rd Battalion/Field Artillery Regiment 11 and Heavy Artillery Battalion 15) and mortar battalion. Infantry Regiment 26 captured its goal (crossroads area northwest of Karhumäki) already by 09:15, but Infantry Regiment 25 run into Soviet minefield and its advance stopped next to Salmijärvi Lake for rest of the day. Also Infantry Regiment 35 attacked in north side of Karhumäki towards railway stop of Pintuisjärvi. Infantry Regiments 45 and 56 (both belonging to 1st Division) fought against Soviet troops south of Karhumäki pushing them back towards the town. Also Infantry Regiment 60 attacked towards Karhumäki from southwest and had important part in battles fought in the town starting the next day.

PICTURE: Some soldiers on Infantry Regiment 26 pose for camera on a large hill in 5th of December 1941 with city of Karhumäki on the background. Photographer Military official A. Viitasalo. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 66103). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (98 KB).

But back to the 1st Reinforced Jaeger Brigade. As during the transfer of troops from Äänislinna the weather proved to be a first obstacle for Reinforced 1st Jaeger Brigade, where work of Tank Battalion's tank crews was even more complicated than usual. Temperature was around -30 degrees Celsius, so starting of the tanks proved difficult and so did also aiming of their weapons. Keeping their aiming systems functional demanded constantly aiming the weapons from one direction to another to avoid them freezing to one setting. Only two of the four available T-28 tanks succeeded to start and it took a good while to get T-26 tanks moving (last of them needed a large fire under the tank for some time before its engine was finally successfully started).

First attack troops of Reinforced 1st Jaeger Brigade (Detachment Hynninen) crossed the frontline 07:00. Detachment Komonen followed it crossed frontline 07:30. Landmines and incoming mortar fire proved common. Soviet troops fought back hard but Jaeger Battalion 3 supported by tanks succeeded breaking into their positions in the frontline. Also the two bridges ahead had been equipped with demolition charges, so at this point success of the attack was far from certain. Around 09:30 Soviet resistance in the frontline started withering and small groups of Soviet soldiers leaving their positions were spotted. By 10:05 Finnish troops had captured Soviet positions in the frontline and started their pursuit. Jaeger Battalion 4 passed Detachment Hynninen and took the mission of spearheading the pursuit. Bridge crossing the river already equipped demolition charges and minefield delayed Finnish advance a moment while Finnish sappers removed demolition charges and prepared route through the minefield. After this the attack continued.

Simultaneously with attack of Detachment Hynninen also Infantry Regiments 25 and 26 (both belonging to 4th Division) had started their attack covering northern flank of 1st Reinforced Jaeger Brigade. Infantry Regiment 26 had also important mission capturing certain parts of road leading to Karhumäki by attacking them from the north/north-west. It succeeded capturing first the hills north of the road, but ended up paying about this successful advance in surprising way. Vanguard of Reinforced 1st Jaeger Brigade accidentally opened fire towards men of this infantry regiment when they met first time along the road to Karhumäki because unlike ordered some men of the 2nd Battalion/Infantry Regiment 26 did not wear snow camo clothing. Luckily the losses created by this friendly fire incident were all just wounded. Detachment Hynninen reached western side of Karhumäki town 10:25. The Detachment had orders to capture south side of the town first, but this proved to demand a fierce battle. The railway going through the town was reached around 11:00. The sole Finnish T-34 tank captured two field guns with towing tractors trying to escape. Two 76 RK/27 infantry guns of Light Artillery Battalion 11 were used to destroy points of resistance in southern side of the city. Jaeger Battalion 3 flanked the city from the north while the main battle in the city was fought in its southern parts. T-34 and one T-28 tank were sent east side of the city to secure the road for Detachment Komonen, which was ordered to continue to its attack towards Lumpuinen. T-28 tank of Lieutenant Mikkonen was sent to support infantry in western part of the city, but met there two Soviet BT-7 tanks one of which succeeded hitting T-28 to one of its two small machinegun-turrets killing a crew member. The Finnish tank was not seriously damaged and could continue, but the Soviet tanks succeeded escaping for now.

Finnish T-34 guarding road leading east from Karhumäki found itself facing two BT-7 tanks (likely the same two which had bit earlier hit Mikkonen's T-28). The first shot that hit T-34 hit driver's hatch forcing it open and damaged its locking mechanism. The second hit bounced from gun shield. BT-7's took off their motors roaring. Driver of T-34 succeeded pinning the hatch closed with a hammer and T-34 started chasing the two escaping Soviet tanks. Soon it found them waiting in ambush and after few shots both BT-7 were left burning on sides of the road while T-34 returned to its task of securing the road.

PICTURE: Two BT-7 tanks knocked out by T-34 R-105. The tank on the left has apparently been hit in the turret, while the one in the right has gaping hole in its rear hull. It seems that both of these tanks had their rear towards T-34 during the exchange of fire, not exactly ideal, but on the other hand armour protection of BT-7 was pretty useless against 76-mm F-34 tank gun from any direction. Photographer Olavi Korkia-Aho. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 67321). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (107 KB).

Detachment Hynninen was ordered to capture the city while Detachment Komonen pulled out and prepared continuing the advance to village of Lumpuinen (5 km east of Karhumäki). Detachment Häkkinen was ordered to follow Detachment Komonen to Lumpuinen. But the battle for city of Karhumäki continued. Reinforced 1st Company of Jaeger Battalion 3 captured dominating hill south of the city around 13:00, but the Soviet resistance continued in nearby garrison where they targeted the hill with constant automatic-weapons, direct fire guns and anti-aircraft gun fire. What followed was a small-scale sample of urban warfare in middle of Carelian forests - street fighting continued from one house to another with Red Army soldiers using basements of buildings like bunkers. Neither side had training for this kind of combat so it came with inevitable high losses - among Finnish soldiers died in these battles was Captain Erkki Komonen, commander of Jaeger Battalion 4, who had lead his unit in the immediate frontline. Lieutenant V. Luonila took command of Jaeger Battalion 4 and Detachment Komonen pulling out to continue the advance along it. Main part of the remaining Red Army soldiers pulled out from northern parts of the city around 17:00

PICTURE: Some Finnish soldiers photographed in middle of battle fought on streets of Karhumäki. One of the soldiers is shooting around the corner with Suomi M/31 submachine gun, while another soldier is using Maxim M/09-09 medium machine gun. Photographer Tauno Norjavirta. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 66114). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (81 KB).

2nd Company of Jaeger Battalion 3 captured isthmus south of the city around 16:00. Also Company of Tank Battalion had been ordered to attack southern part of the city, but was halted by heavy incoming fire while northeast part of the city. Especially heavily defended by the Soviets was garrison area of Karhumäki, which the Finns finally surrounded creating a motti, which remained in the Soviet hands for duration of this offensive. Finally during late evening of 7th December remaining Soviet troops broke out from this motti to Lake Ääninen. The Finnish troops fired after them with everything on their disposal, but still many lucky Soviet soldiers succeeded escaping on open vastness of frozen lake to live another day. The same day also Soviet troops from another motti south of it partially succeeded escaping on frozen Lake Ääninen, but not without considerable losses. The Finns directed fire of seven artillery battalions against these escaping Soviet troops so only small groups succeeded avoiding the concentrated blocking fire. Soviet troops surrounded in motti southwest of Karhumäki tried breaking out several times starting early hours of 7th of December, but without success. Later that day troops of Infantry Regiments 45, 56 and 60 destroyed this motti and only some small groups of the Soviets succeeded escaping from there. The last pockets of resistance in city of Karhumäki capitulated 8th of December.

PICTURE: Snow-covered buildings of the garrison in southern side of city of Karhumäki soon after the battle. Battle damage is visible in the buildings. Photographer Lieuteant Tauno I. Vartia. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 67264). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (75 KB).

Detachment Komonen of Reinforced 1st Jaeger Brigade had pulled out from city of Karhumäki and headed to road leading east. Around 21:00 5th of December this Detachment reached western side of village of Lumpuinen. Jaeger Battalion 2 was leading the attack. Around midnight the Soviets tried counter-attacking in there, but were repulsed. After hard battle villages of Lumpuinen was captured - it fell into Finnish hands around 05:00 6th of December. While Lumpuinen was the first center of population which troops of Reinforced 1st Jaeger Brigade captured in that Finnish Independence Day, it would not be the last.

PICTURE: Map showing 2nd part of attacks of Finnish troops (mainly 6th - 7th of December). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (231 KB).


Second part of attack - From Lumpuinen to Pintuinen and Poventsa

After brief rest the attack continued again 08:30 the same day (6th of December) with troops of Reinforced 1st Jaeger Brigade heading east from Lumpuinen. Light Artillery Battalion 11 fired short artillery preparation just before starting of this attack. Jaeger Battalion 2 took the lead and all still working tanks were supporting it. Neither of the two T-28 tanks that had taken part to attack this far succeeded to start anymore - their fuel systems had frozen. The tanks that continued attack from Pintuinen were:

The attack continued swiftly towards village of Pintuinen and town of Poventsa with tanks and Jaeger Battalion 4 spearheading the attack. Jaegers still rode their bikes even if the ground had quite a bit of snow and temperature remained extremely cold. Since tanks had no heating systems their crews were freezing. Touching metal of their guns with bare hands was not a good idea - depending situation they could be either hot enough to burn hands or cold enough to cause frostbite. The heat emanating from the guns after firing turned produced humidity, which soon turned to ice. While constantly turning weapons from one side to another still succeeded keeping their aiming system functional the grease used between ball-bearing of turret started freezing and tank turrets could not be rotated anymore. One of the tank crewmembers got frostbite to both of his feet. Both Light Field Artillery Battalions 10 and 11 supported Finnish troops in battle of Pintuinen. The railway line leading from Pintuinen to shore of Lake Ääninen was reached around 11:00 that day. Village of Pintuinen was captured by early afternoon. During battle in Pintuinen the Soviets succeeded shooting through two of the Finnish T-26 tanks, but luckily none of their crews were hurt. Jaeger Battalion 4 had to be left to Pintuinen for securing this village and the road. The battalion was not relieved from this duty until the next day (7th of December) when Separate Battalion 21 arrived to Pintuinen and took over the responsibility of guarding it.

Before the attack of Reinforced 1st Jaeger Brigade continued from Pintuinen two Soviet armored cars suddenly appeared and exchanged fire with Finnish tanks, but both sides missed. Temperature continued being around -30 degrees Celsius. The sole Finnish T-34 was first tank of the attack and the advance was fast as the tanks were chasing the Soviet armored cars, which had succeeded escaping from them. T-34 run into eleven trucks full of Soviet troops, the Red Army infantry fled on foot leaving the trucks and the Finnish T-34 run over their abandoned vehicles. Next thing that the T-34 run into was armored towing tractor, which it dispatched quickly before continuing the fast chase with engine roaring. After this it found itself facing horse-towed artillery battery, which had some of its guns ready to fire. Soviet 76-mm field guns fired towards T-34, but their shells bounced off harmlessly from its thick armor. The T-34 rammed the guns and their crews decided to flee, but before this happened the field guns had also hit two of the Finnish T-26 tanks seriously damaging them.

PICTURE: One of the Soviet 76 K/02 field gun run over by T-34 R-105. Photographed by Lieuteant Tauno I. Vartia 7th of December 1941. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 66305). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (88 KB).

Then T-34 arrived to bridge and noticed truck, which the Soviets were trying to place as a barricade and also 85-mm anti-aircraft gun, which they were setting up ready further back. The truck proved poor obstacle to T-34, which simply run it over and once the tank roared towards anti-aircraft gun the Soviet crew decided to flee. After this the attack kept going as fiercely as ever - T-34 run over vehicles and field kitchens of Soviet infantry units that it surprised. Now Finnish troops had either run over or captured dozens of trucks since Karhumäki and surprised Soviet troops were surrendering in large groups to jaegers following the tanks. About 1 km before Poventsa 37-mm anti-aircraft gun opened fire hitting two of the Finnish T-26 tanks killing and wounding several of their men. Near graveyard 45-mm anti-tank gun opened fire towards Finnish tanks, but missed and was swiftly captured. When Finnish troops arrived to Poventsa they captured another 45-mm anti-tank gun.

23:00 6th of December 1941 Jaegers and Finnish tanks steamrolled to town of Poventsa. Tanks secured the town and on early hours of the next morning their crews finally got to rest. The Soviet welcome for them was rather hot and noisy - according Lehväslaiho the Soviets torched number of houses and demolished bridge leading over Stalin's Channel. When Finnish troops were settling down the driver of sole Finnish T-34 that had lead the attack in poor lighting and temporarily blinded by exhaust gases did a small error in steering - this error resulted T-34 falling over side of small bridge and ending upside down in a gully. One of the T-34 crewmembers died in this accident - he was the last casualty of Finnish tank crews suffered in this attack implemented in freezing weather.

PICTURE: Captured Komsomolets A20 armoured towing tractors in town of Poventsa / Povenents. Photographed by 2nd Lieutenant H. Harrivirta two days after Finnish Army captured the city in December 1941. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 66533). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (63 KB).

7th of December one company of Jaeger Battalion 3 supported by platoon of T-26 tanks and battery from Light Anti-aircraft Battalion 11 had crossed Stalin's channel and continued chasing retreating Soviet troops. The next day 07:15 it reported having captured village of Haapaselkä. After facing powerful enemy later that day this unit returned to Poventsa.


The Flood

8th of December the Soviets demolished last of the floodgates of Stalin's Channel (7th floodgate) and flooded town of Poventsa. Around 08:00 the water suddenly rose everywhere. The flood-wave was so powerful that it took trucks and tanks with it. Tanks sunk into mud, which soon froze. The temperature in Poventsa was -37 degrees Celsius that day. Even if the flood-wave was terribly strong and weather freezing thanks to good luck and heroic efforts of individual soldiers the Finnish losses of personnel were rather minimal - only five men. However the situation was not quite as easy when it came to Finnish tanks that had reached Poventsa. While tank crews were soon sent back to Äänislinna their tanks, which had sunk to now frozen combination of mud and water, would take long time to salvage and would not return to service for quite some time.

PICTURE: Finnish Army T-34 R-105 after the flood in town of Poventsa / Povenents. Unlike the original photo caption claims the tank had accidentally fallen from a small bridge already before the flood. However the flood that covered the tank into freezing water made its salvage more difficult and time-consuming. Photographed by 2nd Lieutenant H. Harrivirta two days after Finnish Army captured the city in December 1941. (SA-kuva photo archive, photo number 66533). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (63 KB).

7th of December Commander of Carelian Army issued orders for setting defensive positions. The next day Infantry Regiments 25 and 35 were ordered to advance northeast from Karhumäki to new defensive line. The defensive line was built in line town of Poventsa - Lake Voljärvi - Lake Hiisjärvi. Finnish troops would remain in defensive posture in these positions until summer of 1944. Ultimately the Soviet troops would recapture town of Poventsa 21st of June 1944 and city of Karhumäki 23rd - 24th of June 1944.



The losses of main Finnish units taking part in this offensive operation (1st Division, 4th Division, Reinforced 1st Jaeger Brigade and Group Oinonen) were about 300 KIA (killed in action) and 1,200 WIA (wounded in action), POW (prisoners of war) or otherwise lost in action. Before flooding of Poventsa Finnish troops had lost only six tanks during this operation, but the flood basically (temporarily) removed Tank Battalion from among the units capable of fighting. After the operation the Finns estimated the Soviet losses as killed in action (KIA) about 8,000 men. This was likely serious overestimation as the Soviet Karhumäki Operative Group reported its losses as about 4,400 men. Considering that in addition Finnish troops captured also about 2,800 prisoners of war this was still considerably more than the Finnish losses. The likely main factor for this notable difference was the much stronger artillery resources of Finnish troops. Also the war booty captured by Finnish troops was considerable:

Infantry Regiment 26 known (also as "Ässä Rykmentti" aka "Ace Regiment") was Finnish infantry regiment assembled from eastern parts of Helsinki. The friendly fire incident in which soldiers of its 2nd Battalion were fired upon by jaegers and tanks of 1st Reinforced Jaeger Brigade almost certainly benefiting factor to what happened few days after it. The soldiers of this infantry regiment refused en mass the order of their unit to be transferred another part of frontline. According Finnish military legislation this mass-refusal of obeying orders was basically a mutiny. Both large scale of this mutiny and the way Finnish Army handled it was unique in Finnish military history - the whole regiment was disbanded and its soldiers transferred to variety of military units.

Great Britain declared war against Finland, Hungary and Romania 6th of December 1941. If the intent of this declaration of war was (as earlier Churchill's letter to Mannerheim suggests) effect the Finns in hope of getting to stop their offensive it did very little too late. The offensive had just stopped for other reasons and when it comes to attitudes of the Finns they are maybe best portrayed by one Finnish soldier who after hearing this declaration of war asked his superior: "What kind of cockades do they (the British) have?" (Finnish soldiers often collected cockades from captured and dead Soviet soldiers because these were popular decorative details for trench art).

Also elsewhere the days of Karhumäki - Poventsa operation were in many ways turning points of World War 2. 5th of December 1941 Soviet troops launched their offensive in front of Moscow and started pushing Germans back. The Germans would never again get so close to Moscow. Two days later 7th of December 1941 Japanese aircraft from aircraft carriers attacked US naval base in Pearl Harbor - adding United States among countries taking part in World War 2.

Place names:

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in Russian

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Äänislinna / Petroskoi




Itä-Karjalan valtaus 1941 by Ari Rautala

Laguksen miehet, Marskin nyrkki by Erkki Käkelä

Suomalaiset panssarivaunujoukot by P. Kantakoski

Jatkosodan historia part 2

Itsenäisyyden puolustajat, sodan taisteluja 2, Jatkosota

Jatkosodan Hyökkäystaisteluja by Ari Raunio and Juri Kilin

Panssarisotaa 1941 - 1944 by Reino Lehväslaiho

Sotkalla sodassa by Reino Lehväslaiho

Last updated 28th of November 2020
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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.