The 169. ID at Salla 1941.

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The 169. ID at Salla 1941.

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Hello to all :D; a point of view on Salla (169. ID)................

The Battle of Salla, July 1 to 8, 1941.

The German army, which in the spring of 1941 marched to attack the Soviet Union between the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea and, far away, in northern Finland, certainly did not look at the future events that were gradually emerging with a half-fearful or half-curious expectation, as is typical of newcomers to war. Even when these were new formations, each of the units that gathered here was so populated by veterans of the four previous campaigns of this war that they could be considered experienced and accustomed to it.

The victorious outcome of all previous battles justified strong self-confidence as soldiers. However, this time the feeling of uncertainty and melancholy was even more pronounced than usual on the eve of important events. The disdain for the eastern enemy that was prevalent at the upper level caused many people to shake their heads in skepticism at the lower level. Many of the older officers remembered the remarkable combat performance of the Russians in the First World War; Some people knew the reports of officers who had commanded in the USSR about the rigor of discipline and the harshness of training in the Red Army.

The enormous industrial development experienced by the Soviet Union in recent years was also known. Many serious questions arose for the thinking soldier, as long as the immediate tasks of the day and the need to prepare for the immediate situation gave time for them. To a large extent it was a feeling of resignation in the face of an inevitable fate, which was combined with the will to do the best and especially here.

In addition to the general uncertainty about their future enemy, the German forces, which since the beginning of June were advancing towards Lapland between the Arctic Circle and the Arctic Ocean under the orders of the Army High Command Norwegen, experienced another moment of uncertainty:

The unusual features of the theater of war. The study of the limited literature and maps had only been able to provide a very imperfect image of the landscape. The Finnish economic map, compiled from aerial photographs, not territorial surveys, showed an almost uninterrupted forest area, accessible only by a few roads and trails, and sparsely populated; Where forest signs were missing, moors and swamps were marked, often stretching for kilometers. But what was the landscape like in the vertical direction? Elevation figures were missing and only the Finnish names for "mountain" or "ridge" showed that the terrain must be very mountainous and certainly difficult in sudden transitions between heights and swampy lowlands.

In these circumstances, scans during deployment and consultations with Finnish officers were of particular importance. The latter's skepticism was not encouraging: when asked about the prospects of a campaign in this region, he sometimes responded: "No one has ever waged war here in the summer." It soon became apparent that the landscape had changed too much for the map to be anything more than a guide. Moorland footprints, for example, could indicate either an area of grassland or an impassable swamp.

The forest was sometimes a sparse heather forest, which sometimes would have posed no obstacle even to vehicles, sometimes a tangle of bushes and rocks, often overlapping for miles. It was clear that in such terrain it was necessary to thoroughly review all the usual rules for marching movements and the use of weapons. It was also obvious that the few roads in this country were of crucial importance, and that any reindeer trail leading in a suitable direction could be of the greatest tactical importance.

Source: Die Schlacht um Salla, 1. - 8. July 1941. Generalleutnant a. D. Kurt Dittmar, Kommandeur der 169. Inf.Div. Allgemeine schweizerische Militärzeitschrift: ASMZ, Vol.120 (1954).

Cheers. Raúl M 8).
Serás lo que debas ser o no serás nada. General José de San Martín.
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Re: The 169. ID at Salla 1941.

Post by tigre »

Hello to all :D; more................

The Battle of Salla, July 1 to 8, 1941.

The question was quite open as to what this relationship would be like beyond the Finnish-Soviet border, which had become an iron curtain since the war. There was talk that in the year since then the Soviets had rebuilt numerous roads and railways, no doubt as part of their strategy, as had the fortifications they were supposed to have built, especially around Salla.

The sector of the German 169th Infantry Division, which was part of the XXXVI. Army Corps, together with the SS Division Nord (as of June 17, 1941, formerly Kampfgruppe SS-Nord), which was deployed east of Kelloselkä, was to take Salla from the northwest, from Saija, numerous binoculars were pointed towards the area around the Soviet border fortress, but the landscape, immersed in the suffocating subarctic summer heat, revealed none of its secrets. Only the numerous columns of smoke from the locomotives indicated that there was a lot of traffic.

From the beginning there was no doubt that the Soviets would not hand over Salla without a fight. What forces would be expected remained uncertain until the end. It was considered certain that at least the Soviet 122nd Rifle Division, deployed around Salla, would counter the attack. Indications suggesting the presence of Soviet armored forces remained uncertain.

The combat order given to the 169th Infantry Division by the Corps to take Salla from the northwest gave the division complete freedom to extend the attack in a general eastward direction. From the beginning the idea was to conquer the fortress more from the north than from the northwest. Furthermore, following the procedures tested in previous campaigns, a broader encirclement of the presumed second objective, the position east of the Kairala chain of lakes, was foreseen.

Similarly, the Finnish 6th Division, which was subordinate to the XXXVI. Army Corps as the third major unit, was deployed from the area east of Hautajärvi to further encompass the chain of lakes from the south. The fact that the missing road connections had to be largely replaced by water transport in traditional ferries and boats significantly limited the division's supply possibilities and thus its combat effectiveness (See sketch).

Source: Die Schlacht um Salla, 1. - 8. July 1941. Generalleutnant a. D. Kurt Dittmar, Kommandeur der 169. Inf.Div. Allgemeine schweizerische Militärzeitschrift: ASMZ, Vol.120 (1954).

Cheers. Raúl M 8).
Attachments
Sector of the German XXXVI. Army Corps.................................
Sector of the German XXXVI. Army Corps.................................
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Re: The 169. ID at Salla 1941.

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Hello to all :D; more................

The Battle of Salla, July 1 to 8, 1941.

The order and terrain resulted in the deployment of the 169th Inf. Div. into three combat groups:

Kampfgruppe Rubel (Inf.Rgt. 378 Reinforced), with the bulk of the artillery behind it, was to attack on both sides of the Saija - Salla route; The attack was completely "channelled" by the terrain - a lido-like chain of forested dunes in the swampland that ran in the direction of the road.

Kampfgruppe Schack (Inf.Rgt. 392 Reinforced) was to attack east of the Saija - Salla route from the Kuukkumavaara staging area in the direction of Keinuvaara and later turn the attack south across the Kuolajoki River. A column path was built up to the Kuukkumavaara, largely as a log dam, which was usable for all vehicles. Behind the Schack combat group, which was intended to be the focal point, two light groups of the Div. Artillery were brought into firing position.

Kampfgruppe Bleyer (III./379, Bat I Ludowig, the latter formed from levies from divisions stationed in Norway) was the one that, separated from the actual attack, was supposed to encompass the Kairala defense position from the north. Both battalions relied on light equipment without horses and vehicles.

The supplies for them were to some extent ensured by the fact that supplies of ammunition and food and carrying capacity were brought as a precaution along the Tenniöjoki waterway right up to the border. Two battalions of the Inf Rgt 379, the Panzerabt Wolf and the engineer battalion, were provided as divisional reserves, unless they were in the combat groups, so that their deployment to Kampfgruppe Rubel or Schack was possible via the shortest possible route.

In the early afternoon of July 1, 1941, the combat groups launched the attack. With Kampfgruppe Rubel it failed in the heavy grenade launcher and machine gun fire from obviously well-developed positions. Attacks repeated several times after renewed artillery fire preparation had no better fate. In the evening the attack had to be considered completely repelled.

With Kampfgruppe Schack, after breaking light resistance immediately across the border, it quickly moved east towards the Keinuvaara ground. A natural dam running through the swamp with good waterway gave rise to premature thoughts of persecution. But all attempts to take the overlooking Keinuvaara from this dam failed. Under the pressure of strong Soviet counterattacks from the south and east, which lasted the entire second and third day of fighting and were partly carried out with tank support, there were even backward movements of advanced units here, so seemed necessary to deploy a battalion from the Div Reserve here. Nevertheless, the combat group fought purely on defense throughout the third day.

In order to master the situation now, it took a whole decision. The fact that this meant the end of an illusion was painful, but it could not be changed: the northern battle group Bleyer, which had been assigned to a wider encirclement, was instructed by radio message to go, contrary to its original order, along the road leading from Korja to Salla, which they had taken against weak resistance forces on the second day of the battle had to advance against the northern flank of the Keinuvaara. This happened on the morning of the 4th day, the Keinuvaara fell under the pressure of attacks from the north and west coordinated by the division. The north bank of the Kuolajoki was cleared of the enemy and an initial success was achieved.

Source: Die Schlacht um Salla, 1. - 8. July 1941. Generalleutnant a. D. Kurt Dittmar, Kommandeur der 169. Inf.Div. Allgemeine schweizerische Militärzeitschrift: ASMZ, Vol.120 (1954).

Cheers. Raúl M 8).
Attachments
Attack of the German XXXVI. Army Corps............................
Attack of the German XXXVI. Army Corps............................
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Re: The 169. ID at Salla 1941.

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Hello to all :D; more................

The Battle of Salla, July 1 to 8, 1941.

In order to carry out the next step, the attack through the Kuolajoki, it was necessary to reorganize the formations. Two attack groups were formed: on the right the Inf. Rgt. 392, which would be followed by II./Inf.Rgt. 378, which had not yet been in combat, from the Saija - Salla road; On the left was the Inf.Rgt, 379 which was once again formed as a regimental unit, a company of sappers with light crossing equipment was attached to each of the two attack groups.

The division's reserve, a battalion, was deployed behind the east wing. A light group of the division's artillery advanced from Kuukumavaara over the causeway to the southern slope of Keinuvaara. As at this time of year there was no trace of night darkness in these latitudes, all movements required extensive concealment measures, the most effective of which turned out to be the constant presence of our own planes over the battlefield, because then all enemy artillery fire would be stopped.

On the morning of the sixth day of fighting, the Kuolajoki, the "river of death" as it is called in German, was crossed by shock troops after a short artillery preparation and immediately following an attack by German dive bombers. After fighting down some bunkers, first the right and then the left attack group managed to establish themselves firmly on the south bank of the river. The Inf. Rgt. 392 now advanced towards Salla, while the Inf. Rgt. 379, as ordered, attempted to deploy from the crossing points in such a way that it could cover the attack on Salla to the east.

At this critical moment, a strong Soviet tank attack from the dense forested terrain to the east advanced against the deployment of Inf.Rgt 379. Once again everything was on a knife's edge, especially since only a few anti-tank weapons were available on the south bank. It was fortunate that just at that moment the division's armored unit, with its combat vehicles in the lead, had reached the southern bank through a ford.

A tank battle followed in which the slow but very stable Somua - Hotchkiss (*) combat vehicles had an easy time with the Soviet Christie-type tanks. Some forty enemy tanks were disabled and advancing enemy infantry were scattered by combined infantry and artillery fire. At the same time, a counterattack carried out north of Kuolajoki against our artillery positions located there was repulsed by the division reserve.

Thus the decision was reached, although during the seventh day of fighting there was still intense combat, especially for possession of the town of Salla. Another attempt by the Inf.Rgt. 378, to open access to Salla from Saija was not successful. It was not until the eighth day of the battle that the entire area of ​​the border fortifications was free of the enemy and the battle for Salla ended.

(*) Panzer Abteilung 211 was equipped with the Somua S-35 (PzKw 35-S) and Hotchkiss H-39 (PzKw 38-H) tanks. https://www.geocities.ws/finnmilpge/fmpg_pz211.html

Source: Die Schlacht um Salla, 1. - 8. July 1941. Generalleutnant a. D. Kurt Dittmar, Kommandeur der 169. Inf.Div. Allgemeine schweizerische Militärzeitschrift: ASMZ, Vol.120 (1954).

Cheers. Raúl M 8).
Serás lo que debas ser o no serás nada. General José de San Martín.
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