|CONTINUATION WAR 1941 - 1944|
|Heavy "inverted" 152 mm Canet gun (152/45 C) in action probably somewhere at the Lake Ladoga during the Continuation War. These excellent weapons were the backbone of the Finnish coastal artillery. (Photo: Armas Valdemar Oras Collection)|
Coastal Artillery Units
Changes in Coastal Artillery Units after the Winter War (1940 - 1941)
In the summer 1940 all Coastal Sectors
were re-named as Coastal Artillery Regiment (Rannikkotykistörykmentti,
RT). New sub units called Coastal Artillery Battalion
(Linnakkeisto, Lsto) equivalent to a former Subsector
were also formed. Coastal artillery battalion consisted
of guard regions, coastal forts with coastal artillery
batteries and subordinated (coastal) infantry units. Old
naming system existed together with the new one until
Changes in Coastal Artillery Units during the Continuation War
In June 1941 every peace-time coastal artillery regiment was expanded to Coastal Brigade (Rannikkoprikaati, RPr.). Around since turn of 1941/42 the old and new naming systems caused odd situations in certain areas when a new style large brigade had one or two smaller brigades under its command. Since 10.3.1942 old unit names not changed already earlier were enhanced. All initially formed over-sized coastal artillery battalions and attached brigades were re-named as Coastal Artillery Regiment (Rannikkotykistörykmentti, RTR) which had two to five new smaller Coastal Artillery Battalions (Linnakkeisto, Lsto).
All coastal brigades were standardized and re-organized since 13.5.1942 having basically similar organic units and two coastal artillery regiments. Usually three or four coastal artillery battalions were under the command of each regiment. At that stage the last remaining coastal sectors became finally regional coastal artillery battalions or were suspended. Their basic sub unit was a fixed Coastal [Artillery] Battery (Rannikko[tykistö]patteri, Rt.Ptri later RPtri) which were located mainly into fortified bases called Fort (Linnake, Ln. or Lke).
Guard Regions (Vartioalue) remained
in areas not secured by other stronger coastal formations.
They could also have light coastal batteries or guns for
protecting harbours and passages. Since 1942 [Coastal]
Sector was not a unit anymore and was thereafter
only a named defence zone. Commander of the sector and
also Fort Chief was usually the highest officer from the
units in defence but
there could be also independent Commander or Chief.
Field Batteries and Field Artillery Battalions
Lots of movable Field Batteries (Kenttäpatteri, Kt.Ptri later KPtri) and Field Artillery Battalions (Kenttäpatteristo, KPsto) were formed in the summer 1941. They were similar to Fortress Artillery Batteries and Battalions, usually without organic vehicles for moving guns, but were equipped with lighter obsolescent or worn out gun models like 75 K/97 (until late 1942) and 75 K/17. Later during the war some of the batteries were re-named as coastal [artillery] batteries. Battery consisted of 1 to 6 guns (typically 2 - 4) usually of the same calibre and model although sections sometimes had different kinds of guns. Field artillery battalion had 1 to 5 (typically 2 to 4) batteries which could be both fixed or movable.
There were also Coastal Artillery
Battalions (Rannikkotykistöpatteristo, Rt.Psto
later RPsto) which were formed from the independent
movable batteries. They didn't necessarily have the
mobility of the motorized field artillery and they were
thus comparable to fortress artillery. Equipment
consisted either of obsolescent guns without recoil
system or sometimes of modern captured long-range field
guns like 122 K/31 and 152 H/37
which were heavy, difficult to move and handle and had
limited ammunition supply as well. During the later
phases of the Continuation War Finnish artillery pieces
were already rather good in quality.
Coastal Defence Units during the Continuation War
All coastal defence units were under the command of Naval Forces Staff (Meriv.E) until otherwise mentioned.
Coastal Artillery Regiment (RTR 2)
lost most of its heavy weapons in June 1944 when it was
evacuated from Koivisto area and became Coastal
Regiment 2 (RR 2) with one coastal battalion, three
motorized coastal artillery batteries, three coastal anti-aircraft
batteries and a boat company.
They were formed using fortress troops, naval troops and coastal troops transferred from southern and western Finland and from the fortified "Salpa" [Bolt] defence line built to protect the new border of 1940. Infantry units were also subordinated. The first mentioned brigade was under the command of the Finnish Supreme HQ (PM) and the latter one was operationally subordinated to the Olonets Group (Aun.R).
Lake Onega Coastal Brigade was
suspended in the summer 1944 and a special battle group
called Detachment Järvinen (Osasto Järvinen,
Os.J) was formed from its infantry and movable artillery
elements. Its coastal artillery and naval troops were
either moved to the Lake Ladoga or the southern coast of
Finland mainly to the Bay of Viborg to form at first a
new Coastal Artillery Regiment 22 (RTR 22) and
later 1st Coastal Division (1.RD). Some static
units were also moved back to the Salpa line from where
they had started the war.
Åland Islands 1941 - 1944
Demilitarized Åland Islands were occupied
again on 22.6.1941.
The area was defended by 7th Coastal Brigade (7.RPr.)
until on 1.3.1942 when it was re-named as Turku
Archipelago Sea Coastal Brigade ( Saar.RPr.).
Defence arrangements and troops on Åland Islands are
handled on page Coastal Defence of Åland Islands
1939 - 1944.
Islands on the Gulf of Finland 1941 - 1944
In 1941 Suursaari, Tytärsaari, Lavansaari, Someri and Seiskari islands on the Gulf of Finland were manned by Soviet troops. When Soviets left Hanko naval base in South Finland during the early days of December 1941 they also moved their troops away from Suursaari island. Finns noticed that but only a small scouting and clearing unit was sent to secure the island on 22.12.1941. Difficult ice conditions prevented sending reinforcements fast enough and as a result Soviet combat detachment surprisingly re-occupied island on 2.1.1942.
troops conquered Someri island in the summer 1941 but
Seiskari and Lavansaari which was a strong naval and air
base for the Soviets remained in their hands.
Combat Detachment P 1942
On 12.3.1942 Finnish Supreme HQ (PM) ordered to be formed a special Combat Detachment P (Taisteluosasto P, Tst.Os.P) commanded by Maj.Gen. A. Pajari. Finnish attack against Suursaari started in whirling snow in the early morning on 27.3. Next day Finnish troops had conquered the island and the remaining Soviet defenders had either surrendered or escaped.
Between 29.3. - 1.4.1942 Finnish scouting patrols had confirmed the received intelligence information that Soviets had only weak forces at Tytärsaari and their occupation forces were eventually preparing a retreat which took place on 1.4. Finns formed a reinforced company sized combat detachment called Detachment Laaksonen (Os.Laaksonen) which entered skiing to Tytärsaari on 2.4. and manned the island. At the same time also parts of Soviet Separate Ski Regiment 1 led by Col. Raykov had sent patrols to both Suursaari and Tytärsaari islands. One patrol defending the lighthouse at Tytärsaari was encircled by the Finns.
Soviet attempts to re-take the island failed on 4.4.1942 after the reinforcements which contained both infantry and anti-aircraft guns (strength about 1.000 men) sent by the Germans managed to repel two Soviet attacks with the Finns. Island was also cleared from the remaining Soviet soldiers. Finnish troops left Tytärsaari on 10.4. and island was thereafter manned by Germans led by Oberstleutnant Behle.
Detachment P was suspended on 12.4. and East
Gulf of Finland Coastal Brigade (ISuom.RPr.) took
the command at Suursaari island. The battles and Finnish
troops at Suursaari island are handled on page Suursaari Island 1941 - 1942.
Coastal Artillery Regiment 12 1942 - 1944
Coastal defence of Suursaari island was at first arranged on 30.3.1942 by forming Suursaari Coastal Artillery Battalion under the command of East Gulf of Finland Coastal Brigade (ISuom.RPr.). Only about a week later artillery battalion was attached to a new Coastal Artillery Battalion 12 (RTR 12) (Maj./Lt.Col.(4.7.42) M. Miettinen) formed already on 1.4.1942 for the defence of Suursaari, Haapasaari and Someri islands on the Gulf of Finland. Defence arrangements and troops of the Coastal Artillery Regiment 12 are described on page Coastal Defence of Suursaari Island 1942 - 1944.
signed a truce agreement with USSR one of its terms
ordered that all German troops must leave Finnish soil by
15.9.1944 voluntarily or by force. Suursaari island had
became strategically important for the Germans and on 15.9.1944
they started an invasion operation called "Tanne Ost"
to conquer the island. The attempt failed because Finns
didn't accept Germans' demands and Finnish troops
eventually fought against Germans repelling the invasion.
Suursaari incident became although one of the starting
points of the so called Lapland War against German troops
in Northern Finland.
Someri Island 1942
Early on 8.7.1942
about 330 Soviet marines supported by aircraft, motor
torpedo boats and guard motor boats tried to capture a
small rocky Someri island 18 km away from the closest
Finnish coastal battery at Ulko-Tammio. Finnish garrison
led by Capt. S. Rauhaniemi consisted of 92 men,
two 75 mm field guns, three 45 mm AT guns, five 20 mm AA
guns, two mortars and seven MGs. Finnish counter-measures
against a small bridgehead were effective and battles
ended by noon next day. Soviets lost 17 boats and 13 were
damaged while Finns didn't lose any vessels or boats.
Soviet air and naval activity around the island continued
Hanko Group 1941 - 1942
In June 1941 Hanko Peninsula [Hankoniemi] ceded to Soviet Union as a naval base after the Winter War was secured by the troops of the Hanko Group (Hangon Ryhmä, HR). It was directly under the command of the Naval Forces Staff (Meriv.E). Hanko Group was formed around the 4th Coastal Brigade (4.RPr.) and 17th Division (17.D) subordinated to Naval Forces Staff.
When most of the 17th Division was transferred to East Karelia on 18.7.1941 group consisted almost solely of the coastal troops strengthened by separate infantry, field artillery and Frontier Guard units. The situation south from the Gulf of Finland forced Soviets to withdraw from Hanko by early December 1941 after which Finnish troops together with volunteer Swedish occupied the heavily mined area. The next months were used for clearing minings and collecting of war booty.
Hanko Group was suspended at the
beginning of April 1942 and re-named as Hanko
Coastal Artillery Battalion (Hangon
Linnakkeisto) and was furthermore attached to Uusimaa
Coastal Brigade (Uud.RPr.) in May 1942 as Coastal
Artillery Regiment 11 (RTR 11).
Infantry and Field Artillery Units of Naval Forces 1941 - 1944
Infantry Regiment 61 and Light Artillery Battalion 15 in June 1941
In June 1941 Infantry Regiment 61 (JR 61) (Col. M. Berg) reinforced with Light Artillery Battalion 15 (Kev.Psto 15) (Maj. V. Vähätupa) was at Porvoo - Tuusula region (east, north-east and north from Helsinki) subordinated to the Commander of Naval Forces. They were in reserve and ready for repelling possible landing attempts at wide area between Kotka and Kirkkonummi on both sides of the capital city Helsinki.
On 17.7.1941 regiment was attached to 17th
Division (17.D) replacing its Infantry Regiment
55 (JR 55) which stayed at Hanko Peninsula and was
later disbanded. Light Artillery Battalion 15 (Kev.Psto
15) was moved to Hanko Peninsula where it was attached to
Hanko Group (HR).
Since summer 1941 coastal troops contained also two new type specialized coastal infantry units: (Coastal) Defence Company (Torjuntakomppania, TK) and Coastal Strike Company (Rannikkoiskukomppania, RK). Personnel of coastal infantry units was now younger and weapons better than they had been during the Winter War but armament consisted furthermore of the mixed non-standard models, for example Swedish, German and Russian weapons.
In July 1941 a number of separate companies were gathered into five Coastal Battalions (Rannikkopataljoona, RP). Lots of changes took place later during the war. Many battalions were suspended already in December 1941 but new ones were also formed in 1942 and in the summer 1944. The remaining independent defence companies were active until the end of the war.
Naval Forces had also a few own or subordinated Separate Battalions (Erillinen pataljoona, Er.P) which had similar organization, equipment and armament to normal separate infantry battalions. Naval infantry battalions and companies were usually subordinated to coastal artillery battalions or forts or in some cases defended their own separate sectors.
Naval infantry units during the Continuation
War are described on page Coastal Infantry Units 1941 - 1944.
1st Coastal Division 1944
1st Coastal Division
(1. Rannikkodivisioona, 1.RD also 1.Ran.D) was formed on 13.7.1944
for the defense of Bay of Viborg. Its troops came from
the suspended Lake Onega Coastal Brigade,
East Gulf of Finland Coastal Brigade and Coastal
Regiment 2. Former HQ / Lake Onega Coastal
Brigade became HQ / 1st Coastal Division (1.RDE).
© 2001 - 31.1.2006 Harri Anttonen