Battle Of Summa

Timoshenko paused the assaults in central and northern Finland, correctly surmising that the terrain was simply too inhospitable for mechanised troops to operate, and that the Finnish infantry vastly outmatched his own in such an environment. Instead, he turned to the south, and focused all Soviet efforts on the Karelian isthmus and the area north of Lake Ladoga. By now the entire Red Army had been mobilised to deal with Finland rather than merely the Leningrad military district, one million men. Timoshenko knew that the Finns couldn't possibly win an attritional battle, and so that is what he aimed to create.

Large probing actions were launched against the Mannerheim Line for the first two weeks of February, exhausting the numerically inferior Finns and probing for weaknesses. Then on the 11th February, 1940, with his plentiful fresh reserves, Timoshenko went all out. On the 12th a small breach in the Finnish lines in the Lahde sector was not treated with the seriousness it deserved - such breaches had occurred so often in the past as to be almost routine. A Finnish counterattack was prepared, but Timoshenko, unlike his ponderous predecessor, had reacted quickly, pouring troops into the gap in the Finnish lines. When the two Finnish battalions counterattacked they found two entire Soviet regiments, well supported with tanks and artillery, and were thrown back with heavy casualties.

The break in the line exposed the flank of the strongpoint at Summa, and from there, the flank of the entire Mannerheim Line. On the afternoon of the 15th, Mannerheim ordered a general retreat - the Soviets had finally broken through.

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