|Separate Battalion 6|
Erillinen pataljoona 6 1943 - 1944
The history of the later Finnish Separate Battalion 6 started already in February 1942 when German Armee-Gruppe Nord formed a detachment called Finnische Sicherungsgruppe 187 which consisted of 27., 28., 29. and 30. Hundertschaft (strength about 170 men each). Its tasks were to secure railways and bridges and fight against Soviet Partisans which had become a growing problem for the Germans. Unit had German equipment but used captured Soviet weapons. Training lasted three months after which unit operated on rear areas near Leningrad and Novgorod.
Detachment was solely composed of more or less (soldiers received larger food portions) volunteer Ingrian Finns living in Soviet Union around Leningrad. Most Ingrian men fought already in the Red Army and the remaining "work conscripts" were either young boys (15 to 17 years old) or over-aged older men. All officers and the majority of NCO's were Germans but the number of Ingrian Lance Corporals and NCOs became bigger during the war. Later in 1942 detachment was officially re-named as Ost-Bataillon 664 (finnische) with four companies.
was reliable and became very important to Germans in
securing and anti-Partisan duties. Eventually 107 men
were awarded with a German decoration "Tapferkeits-
und Verdienst-Auszeichnung für die Ostvölker" and
17 men received the German badge for wounded ones. Late
in 1942 Finns and Germans agreed that all Ingrian Finns
who lived in USSR could move to Finland. Officially
volunteer operation started after that and thousands of
Ingrians moved to Finland during 1943 and June 1944. Also
OB 664 (finn.) was to be moved and joined
Finnish armed forces although Armee-Gruppe Nord
opposed the plan. They wouldn't like to leave their
trusted battalion to go.
Separate Battalion B
On 23.11.1943 Finnish Lt.Col. K. Breitholtz was ordered to take the command of an Ingrian Separate Battalion B (Erillinen pataljoona B, Er.P B) which was officially founded on 25.11. At the beginning of December OB 664 relieved its weapons away and was moved to Tallinn, Estonia by trains. From Tallinn a total of 617 Ingrians were shipped to Hanko, Finland by 13.12. and accommodated into German "Waldlager" which acted as a quarantine camp. There all soldiers were inspected, supplied and re-equipped with Finnish gear.
Average age was 23 years but more than half of men were still less than 20 years old. Educational level was low and almost all men had only four years basic school education mostly in Russian speaking classes. About 25% of men didn't speak Finnish well. All Lance Corporals and NCOs received their earlier ranks also in Finland. Since 18.12.1943 battalion was officially under Finnish command and the four months conversion training period was started. Between 7. - 9.1.1944 battalion was moved to Kiviniemi garrison on Karelian Isthmus by trains and subordinated to 10th Division.
Kiviniemi Separate Battalion B was organized
between 10. - 17.1.1944 and by 27.1. it was fully formed
and equipped although it received more men all the time.
On 31.1. battalion strength was 25 officers, 54 NCOs and
601 privates (= 680 men) in addition to three riding and
72 towing horses. All officers and about half of the NCOs
were Finns but many of them had Ingrian background.
Battalion had eight Maxim MGs, 24 LMGs, 97 "Suomi"
SMGs, six 20 mm L-39 anti-tank rifles and three medium
Separate Battalion 6
On 1.2.1944 battalion was re-named as Separate Battalion 6 (Erillinen pataljoona 6, Er.P 6). Battalion's NCO School [Aliupseerikoulu] led by Ingrian Finn Capt. E. Sokka started on 6.2. The first course consisted of 105 NCO trainees. On 23.2. battalion was subordinated to 15th Division and moved to Leinikylä two days later.
On 31.3.1944 battalion was organized as follows:
four months training period ended battalion took the
military oath for Finland on 26.4.1944. Battalion was now
ready for combat. The last 72 Ingrians took the oath on 4.6.1944
just prior to Soviet attack on Karelian Isthmus on 9.6.
Separate Battalion 6 in Combat
Reinforced 1st Company was subordinated to 19th Brigade for getting front experience already on 2.5.1944 and on the whole battalion on 25.5. After the Soviet attack had started battalion was moved to secure the right flank of 15th Division at Korpikylä in Kivennapa on 12.6. Next day battalion repulsed Soviet attack for the first time after 15 minutes fighting with the help of its supporting artillery.
Early in the morning on 14.6. Soviets started bombing battalion's positions heavily and overwhelming Soviet infantry attacked simultaneously from three places. Battalion was ordered to withdraw fighting to VT line (Vammelsuu - Taipale line) where battalion started immediately strengthening its new positions. Patrols were also sent to keep the contact to Soviets. Battalion was subordinated to 18th Division.
On 17.6.1944 VT line was abandoned because Soviets had broken through the line at Kuuterselkä. Battalion was subordinated to 2nd Division and it withdrew delaying to Vuosalmi direction. On 18.6. Soviets supported by five tanks attacked through the securing line of the battalion. 1st Company repulsed Soviet infantry and withdrew through the lines of the 2nd Company. Next day battalion was moved to Äyräpää from where battalion crossed the River Vuoksi without losses and was subordinated to Combat Detachment Oljemark.
Battalion hold the new defensive line at River Vuoksi but since 22.6. The trust on Er.P 6 had weakened because of the noticed unreliability of Tribal Battalion 3 (HeimoP 3) although both battalions had fought well. Battalion Commander was changed on 25.6. On 27.6.1944 Er.P 6 was subordinated to 3rd Division for defending Kuparsaari sector. During June battalion losses had been 13 men KIA, 54 WIA and 24 MIA.
The beginning of July was rather quiet on battalions sector despite of occasional artillery fire and minor patrol strikes. On 19.7.1944 Er.P 6 was again subordinated to 18th Division. On 21.7. Soviet tried to cross the River Vuoksi with bigger forces. This attempt was although repulsed with the co-operation of mortars and field artillery. After that Soviets didn't make any such attempts anymore.
Er.P 6 was replaced by Separate Battalion 28
and it was moved to construct rear defensive line. In
this task battalion stayed for the rest of the
Continuation War until 5.9.1944. After that battalion was
moved behind the new border and was in training but
helped also local farmers south-east from Lappeenranta. Er.P
6 was disbanded on 1.10. and was officially
suspended on 10.10.1944.
Aftermath - The Sad Destiny of Ingrian Finns
According to Moscow peace terms all former Soviet citizens (both soldiers and civilians) who had moved to Finland during the war should be relieved back to USSR. It didn't matter if many people had changed their citizenship. For some reason Soviets "forgot" Er.P 6 and most men could live in Finland free until late spring 1945 when the request for relieving soldiers of Er.P 6 was given. Because most Ingrian civilians were returned to USSR many soldiers also returned voluntarily with their families but about 200 men escaped to Sweden and other countries. The last former soldier of Er.P 6 was caught and relieved to USSR as late as in January 1955.
Ingrians were given a promise that they can move back to their homes. That promise was not kept and tens of thousands Ingrians were spread east from Moscow far away from their homes. Several men were separated from the others already at Viipuri railway station and probably executed soon because no-one heard of them later. For some reason many Ingrians were released but imprisoned a couple of years later. Almost all survived men got 10 to 25 years long sentences in forced labour camps. Even all the under-aged ones who should have had 50% shorter sentences suffered much longer than 5 years. The result was that only the strongest ones survived. After Stalin's death most men still alive were released by 1955 but remained without civil rights for decades.
At the beginning of 1990's Finland accepted all Ingrians as "return movers". After since thousands of Ingrian Finns have moved to Finland. Many who were in Finland during the war or served in Finnish armed forces have returned. Also those non-Finnish citizens who live abroads receive now a small pension (called "front pension") because of their war-time services for Finland.
© 23.6.2004 Harri Anttonen