Battles Rage In The South

In the Ladoga Karelia area, around Kollaa, one Finnish division holds up four Soviet divisions and a Soviet tank brigade, as the Soviets are unable to make progress over the snows and have to stick to the roads, all of which are blocked by Finnish troops. The Battle of Kollaa drags on for the entire length of the Winter War, with repeated Soviet attacks being repulsed, though by March the Finnish defence was on the verge of collapse.

The Finns are surprised to find that the Soviets have attacked across a wide front, with as many divisions between Lake Ladoga and the Arctic Circle as deployed in the Karelian isthmus, and this with ninety percent of the Finnish army concentrated in the south. In the central area the Soviet attack at Suomussalmi has by now stalled with a large chunk of their forces trapped in the town of Suomussalmi, but in the extreme north the single battalion of Finnish troops at Salla are unable to hold the Red divisions, and pull back, whereupon the Soviets find themselves unable to make good progress due to the extremely unforgiving nature of the terrain, with no real roads. Russian attempts to push on through the snows and forests are decimated by Finnish ski patrols.

The League of Nations calls upon both parties to cease hostilities and open peace negotiations, and the Soviet Union is expelled from the League on the 14th of December when the League's request is ignored. The United States, which has been roused to aid the Finns by a number of American journalists now reporting from Helsinki, agrees to sell 43 Brewster Buffalo fighters to the Finnish air force, though the US refuses to grant Finland credit - indeed, Finland is still paying its World War 1 debts to the United States, even while the war is going on, a fact which gains it the respect of many American commentators.

In Sweden there are wide protests in support of Finland aimed at getting the Swedish government to contribute more in Finlands hour of need, but the Swedish government remains hesitant. A number of voluntary organisations form nevertheless, including the Finnish Centre for Nordic Aid, which supervises the evacuation of Finnish children to Sweden. The first shipment of children arrives in Stockholm in the second week of December.

The massive disparity in size between the warring nations is already becoming apparent at the front, with Finland already being forced to draft 17 year old schoolboys and sending them into the great southern battles, but so far every Finnish death is paid for with 10 Soviet, and the Soviets are making little real progress, with the Soviets able to make only temporary breakthroughs in the Finnish defences.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 License.