By William Trotter
At 10:30 A.M. on November 30, 1939, a formation of Russian bombers dropped from a cloud financial institution to dump a salvo of bombs on Helsinki, the capital urban of Finland. The wintry weather struggle was once underway. Overwhelming superiority in manpower and guns finally prevailed, yet now not ahead of Finland had written a saga of heroic resistance. it's this too-seldom-remembered tale that William R. Trotter recounts in hearth and Ice. sixteen pages of images
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Additional info for A frozen hell : the Russo-Finnish winter war of 1939-1940
Even to reach the outskirts of that town, the enemy would have to drag two ponderous mechanized divisions through a metaphorical needle’s eye: a pair of narrow, ice-glazed tracks that were utterly unsuited for tanks and other heavy vehicles. His intelligence concerning those two divisions was timely and detailed. Since crossing the frontier, they had been moving at the rate of two or three miles a day, no more. Even unopposed, it would take them about a week to reach Suomussalmi. For the moment, Mannerheim could afford just to keep a close eye on that front – if and when it became necessary to send 45 substantial forces up there, he could do so fairly rapidly, utilizing the very same road system he must deny to the enemy.
Eventually, of course, attrition would take a toll – but by that time, the Allies would have dispatched a relief force. Wouldn’t they? When the “balloon went up”, however, the Russians deployed twelve divisions north of Ladoga, not five; and thirteen on the Isthmus, not seven. From the first day of battle, therefore, Mannerheim was stretched dangerously thin. ). When hostilities began on November 31, Manneheim’s army was deployed thusly: THE ARMY OF THE KARELIAN ISTHMUS: Six divisions, under the overall command of General Hugo Viktor Ostermann, The right wing comprised Second Corps (the Fourth, Fifth, and Eleventh Divisions, commanded by General Harold Ohquist); the left wing, Third Corps, consisted of the Ninth and Tenth Divisions, commanded by General Erik Heinrichs.
But Harold Ohquist, in his memoirs, lists 75 “strong points”, about one-third of which were elderly bunkers of 1918 vintage which had never been completely modernized. In Stalin’s documentary, however, the cameras dwell on a few really stupendouslooking multi-chambered blockhouses that really do resemble the great dinosaurs on the Franco-German border. The Finns had built a handful of such monoliths, and certainly planned to build many more if time and money permitted. Exactly how many such “Maginot Class” works were finished and manned by December 1939, I was never able to ascertain, but my impression was that most, if not all, were constructed not in the middle of the Karelian Isthmus, but on the Baltic Sea approaches to Helsinki and to the ports of Viipuri and especially Turku, the only Finnish port capable of handling a large number of foreign vessels, be they naval or mercantile..
A frozen hell : the Russo-Finnish winter war of 1939-1940 by William Trotter