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The old Grim Reaper was fooled...

We got few days ago an interesting and poignant e-mail from a long-standing member of our club, Pekka. The message told about the Winter War, the last day from the Eastern Front, Vuoksela Area:

"Missed shot! Grim Reaper missed mother's father at Vuoksela 13/03/1940. Ten minutes before the peace came. Grandpa had been in a trench when the Russians began 10 minutes before the peace an intense artillery centralization, which killed and wounded many Finnish soldiers. The attached picture of shrapnel had hit the trench wall next to the grandfather, but he survived without a scratch. This is the story about this shrapnel in it's short. You can put this story in the history forum if you want. PS. Oh, the Grim Reaper, he had to wait 67 years and 4.5 months. "

Pekan vaarin sotamuisto
Picture: War relic of Pekka's grandfather from the year 1940, shrapnel of an ammunition
(Photo Pekka Leinonen, you can enlarge the picture by clicking it)

In fact, 13/3/1940 around at 9 am a troop of Pekka's grandfather had been informed about the conclusion of peace as well as the command to switch positions to protect their troops from the demarcation lines. 8. division was assigned a task to keep the main station (which was later called as the Mannerheim line) in about 30 km wide area between Vuokselanniemi and Sakkola station.

Picture: Soviet T-26 light tanks and GAZ-A trucks of the Soviet 7th Army during its advance on the Karelian Isthmus, December 2, 1939.

The responsibility was divided into two strands. The defense for the right Vuoksela block was responded to Infantry Regiment 26 (although one of the battalion was on the Karelian Isthmus as an Army reserve). Left-hand block Kiviniemi was defended by the Infantry Regiment. The third regiment (JR 23) of the 24. division was assigned as a reserve and it was situated 10 to 20 kilometers behind the main station. The light weaponed unit of a division (KevOs 8) acted also as the Isthmus Army reserve in Oravakytö about 20 miles from the front line.

Picture: The location map of former Vuoksela municipality in the Finnish Karelia ceded to the Soviet Union in 1944.

Finnish-Soviet Winter War should have had to come to a pause, according to the Moscow Armistice, at 13. of March at 11.00. In fact, the peace treaty was signed in Moscow in the Kremlin in the same morning at 01.00 Finnish time. For example, in Saija-Kolsanharju area the Finns put an end to the firing according the peace agreement at 11.00, as well as in all areas of the front. Shooting was allowed only in the event of enemy attacks or opens fire first.

Our enemy's enthusiasm to attack lasts for few extra hours. For example, in case of Pekka's grandfather, a massive artillery concentration was started at 10.50 and there was hot iron in the air so frequently, that almost no one didn't fit between those. Russian gunfire continued in some places for a long time after 11.00. In Saija-Kolsanharju-segment the Russians ceased firing at 14.00.

Life In Trenches
(1939, Originally traditional folk tune, lyrics by Usko Kemppi)
You can hear and see the song from

As our way headed for battles,
where only the song of the bullets played,
we never knew as we departed,
who may sometimes return.
This life in trenches is
to us only a command of the Fate
and maybe the destination of our journey
is to disappear in the noise of war.

As the day already changed to night,
a brief moment arrived for resting,
they have all fallen asleep,
where the campfire gives warmth.
I keep remembering You again,
I still see a tear on your cheek,
Though I might be left on the battlefield,
Your picture is the last one.

The whole Vuoksela was handed over to the Soviet Union according to Moscow Peace. During the war, the population of Vuoksela was evacuated to Vilppula. According to those Quick-built-up investment plans target towns were Perniö, Kisko, Muurla and Suomusjärvi. In real life, however, people were transferred mainly to Ruovesi, Mänttä, Juupajoki and Kuorevesi.

The reason for thinking was given by the founding member of our club, UJ


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