My Maternal Grandparents

Charles and Minnie Wayrynen
Charlie’s birthplace.

Suomussalmi is a municipality in Finland and is located in the Kainuu region. The municipality has a population of 7,881 (31 January 2019)[2] and covers an area of 5,857.60 square kilometres (2,261.63 sq mi) of which 587.03 km2 (226.65 sq mi) is water.[1] The population density is 1.5 inhabitants per square kilometre (3.9/sq mi). The municipality is unilingually Finnish. Ämmänsaari is the biggest built-up area in the municipality.

Suomussalmi is the second southernmost part of the reindeer-herding area in Finland. Kalevala Russia is next door, grandpa always said, Can’t trust those Russians.”

During the Winter War of 1939–40, several battles were fought in the area around Suomussalmi, the most important ones being the Battle of Suomussalmi and the Battle of Raate. In these battles Finnish forces defeated numerically superior Soviet forces.

The Battle of Suomussalmi was a battle fought between Finnish and Soviet forces in the Winter War. The action took place from around December 7, 1939, to January 8, 1940. The outcome was a Finnish victory against superior forces. Suomussalmi is considered the clearest, most important, and most significant Finnish victory in the northern half of Finland.[3] In Finland, the battle is still seen today as a symbol of the entirety of Winter War itself.

On November 30, 1939, the Soviet 163rd Rifle Division crossed the border between Finland and the Soviet Union and advanced from the north-east towards the village of Suomussalmi. The Soviet objective was to advance to the city of Oulu, effectively cutting Finland in half. This sector had only one Finnish battalion (Er.P 15), which was placed near Raate, outside Suomussalmi.

Suomussalmi was taken with little resistance on December 7 (only two incomplete companies of covering forces led a holding action between the border and Suomussalmi), but the Finns destroyed the village before this, to deny the Soviets shelter, and withdrew to the opposite shore of lakes Niskanselkä and Haukiperä.

The first extensive fight started on December 8, when Soviet forces began to attack across the frozen lakes to the west. Their attempt failed completely. The second part of Soviet forces led the attack to the northwest on Puolanka, that was defended by the Er.P 16 (lit. 16th detached battalion), that had just arrived. This attempt also failed. On December 9, the defenders were reinforced with a newly founded regiment (JR 27). Colonel Hjalmar Siilasvuo was given the command of the Finnish forces and he began immediate counter-measures to regain Suomussalmi. The main forces advanced on Suomussalmi, but failed to take the village, suffering serious losses. On December 24, Soviet units counterattacked, but failed to break through the surrounding Finnish forces.

Reinforced with two new regiments (JR 64 and JR 65), the Finns again attacked on December 27. This time, they took the village, and the Soviets retreated in panic over the surrounding frozen lakes. A large part of them managed to reach the Russian border along the Kiantajärvi lake. During this time, the Soviet 44th Rifle Division had advanced from the east towards Suomussalmi. It was entrenched on the road between Suomussalmi and Raate and got caught up in the retreat of the other Soviet forces.

Between January 4 an The battle resulted in a major victory for the Finns. If the Soviet Union had captured the city of Oulu, the Finns would have had to defend the country on two fronts and an important rail link to Sweden would have been severed. The battle also gave a decisive boost to the morale of the Finnish army.

In addition, Finnish forces on the Raate-Suomussalmi road captured a large amount of military supplies, including tanks (43), field guns (71), trucks (260), horses (1,170), anti-tank guns (29) and other weapons, which were greatly needed by the Finnish army.

Alvar Aalto sculpted a memorial for the Finnish soldiers who died.[5]d January 8, 1940, the 44th Rifle Division was divided into isolated groups and destroyed by the Finnish troops (in a tactic known as motti), leaving much heavy equipment for the Finnish troops.

The Battle of Suomussalmi is often cited as an example of how a small force, properly led and fighting in familiar terrain, can defeat a vastly numerically superior enemy. Factors which contributed to the Finnish victory included:

Finnish troops possessed higher mobility due to skis and sleds; by contrast, Soviet heavy equipment confined them to roads.

The Soviet objective to cut Finland in half across the Oulu region, while appearing reasonable on a map, was inherently unrealistic, as the region was mostly forested marshland, with its road network consisting mainly of logging trails. Mechanized divisions had to rely on these, becoming easy targets for the mobile Finnish ski troops.

Finnish strategy was flexible and often unorthodox, for example, Finnish troops targeted Soviet field kitchens, which demoralised Soviet soldiers fighting in a sub-Arctic winter.

The Soviet army was poorly equipped, especially with regard to winter camouflage clothing; by contrast, Finnish troops’ equipment were well-suited for warfare in deep snow and freezing temperatures.

The Finnish army had very high morale, resulting from the fact that they were defending their nation. Soviet troops, however, possessed exclusively political reasons for their attack, consequently losing their will to fight soon despite continual efforts by Soviet propagandists.

An additional factor remained Soviet counter-intelligence failures: Finnish troops often intercepted the Soviet communications, which relied heavily on standard phone lines.

The Finnish tactics involved simplicity where needed, as the final assault was a simple head-on charge, decreasing the chances of tactical errors. Rough weather also favored comparatively simple plans.

Formula One racing driver Heikki Kovalainen is from Suomussalmi, as well as the author Ilmari Kianto and the composer Osmo Tapio Räihälä, in addition to the ice hockey player, Janne Pesonen.

Suomussalmi hosted the 2016 World Berry Picking Championship

Moving the Swedish Covenant Church 1908

Charlie made his living farming and doing custom work with his big steam engine. He moved buildings, did custom sod plowing and grain threshing. He and his wife Minnie had nine children, five sons served in the military. The church was moved into Lake Norden, South Dakota on huge wooden rollers from two miles out in the country, notice the railroad ties were new,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suomussalmi

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Suomussalmi

https://lelandolson.com/

3 thoughts on “My Maternal Grandparents

  1. Hell Hello.

    Oh, how nice. We visited there recently when we made a road trip. I have mentioned it in my newest post. Welcome to check it and enjoy seeing reindeer!

    Have a good day!

    Like

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