Battle For Suussalmi

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(U) The battle for Suomussalmi in the Russo-Finnish War of 1939 to 1940 was one of the most significant battles illustrating the practical use of Motti tactics. On December 7th, 1939 the battle began and lasted till the 8th of January, 1940 concluding in a decisive Finnish victory. Taking place towards the beginning of the Second World War, the battle placed two vastly different powers against each other, Finland and the Soviet Union. One being that of a fledgling nation barely independent from the recently disposed Imperial Russia, the other a mighty superpower capable of engulfing entire nations. The latter nation, known for its aggression, and use of any methods at its disposal to fulfil the goal of the grand leader. Illustrated its now…show more content…
Thus, in mid 1939, Stalin and the USSR demanded that for the security of Leningrad, a annexation of Karelia and certain islands was necessary. The Finns, noting that this would be a violation of neutrality between the Scandinavian nations, and would potentially lead to more claims by the Soviets for territory, adamantly refused. On November 30th, 1939 the Soviets declared war on Finland and subsequently massed over the border along roads through the frozen forests and marshes of the Karelian Isthmus. Which in turn leads to the Battle of Suomussalmi on the 7th of December 1939, where the 163rd Soviet Rifle Division followed Raate road towards the village. This established the Soviet goal of attempting to divide Finland in half, by driving past Suomussalmi towards Oulu, and forcing the capitulation of Finnish forces. The Finns countered by using maneuver tactics and then committing counter attacks against the immobilized Soviet positions (Motti tactics), thus attriting Soviet forces, leading to the 163rd Division’s retreat and the 44th Divison’s termination. What was pivotal to the use of Motti tactics was the favorability of weather and terrain to Finnish forces. Not only were the Finns familiar with the terrain and weather, they demonstrated extreme skill in using…show more content…
This would permit the exploitive force of the 44th Infantry Division to advance to Oulu and cut Finland into two. The Finns, using their initial disposition and attached forces of the 9th Infantry Division would hold the Soviets at Suomussalmi, then conduct counter-attacks against the (literally) frozen forces. Thus, delay and destroy the enemy advance long enough to attrite Soviet forces into a retrograde. Prior to the battle the Soviets had established a two prong pincer attack to meet at Suomussalmi, which was successful but sustained casualties from isolated guerrilla attacks. The subsequent 163rd effectively captured Suomussalmi by the 8th of December, but halted at the razed town due to the defenses about the frozen lakes surrounding the town. Numerous counter-attacks by the Soviets proved folly with the continued defenses by the newly formed Siilasvuo group holding fast. The group, being made of the three elements under the 9th Infantry Division effectively barred the Soviets progress to the south, west and northwest and formed a bulge. Over the course of weeks the Soviets attempted numerous counterattacks but at each time, the Finns regain ground and forced the 163rd Rifle Division into a pocket. By the 27th of December the 163rd Infantry Divisions failed to breakout of
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