Battle Begins at Suomussalmi

The Commander of the Finnish forces at Suomussalmi had made a proposal to Mannerheim, asking for more troops to be assigned to the area. As a response to the request, in the night between 6 Dec and 7th, a brigade was sent to the area from the south. The brigade wasled by Col. Hjalmar Siilasvuo who was ordered to take command of the troops in the Suomussalmi area at 2000 hrs on 8 Dec and to destroy the Soviet troops in the area. All the troops in the area were attached to the new Group Siilasvuo, and it received even more additional forces, two recon detachments, light company Hannila, the 17th Pioneer company, 10th separate Signals detachment and some supply formations.

During the Finnish build up, between 7 Dec and 8th, the Soviets chose not to continue their attacks. On 9 Dec, a Soviet regiment sized attack supported by artillery was repulsed at the Haukipera-ferry (along the road south from the Suomussalmi village). The Russian tanks made little difference here, as they were unable to get over the lake, the ice not yet frozen thick enough to support their weight.

After inspecting the situation, Col.Siilasvuo decided to launch an attack from the east towards the Suomussalmi village (at the same time avoiding a costly attack across the lake, severing the Soviet supply lines from the border). The plan called for the Finns to bypass the Soviets and attack Suomussalmi from their rear, from the east. The planned attack soon fell into confusion however due to errors in navigation, and Finnish progress was slow. The Soviet defence was tenacious, and getting into the town itself proved impossible, with a strong Soviet counterattack only narrowly beaten off on the 11th.

While this action was going on in Suomussalmi itself Finnish long range patrols struck along the Raate road, destroying Soviet supply trucks carrying food and ammunition to the defenders in the town.

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