by Juha Hujanen

Infantry Regiment 30 (Jalkaväkirykmentti 30) was one of 50 infantry regiments that Finland raised during mobilization of its armed forces in summer 1941.It was formed from reservists of Northern Savo Home Guard district 17.6.41.Most of its men came from Kuopio-Suonenjoki-Leppävirta-Karttula-Maaninka municipals,only some of officers came from other parts of country.

JR 30 was one of three infantry regiments of 7.Division,others were JR 9 and JR 51.With this division JR 30 spend most of its war years.Commander of Northern Savo Home Guard district Lt.Col.Erkki Ruotsalo became regiment first commander.

I and III/JR 30 were tranfered to Romppala for forming 19-23.6.41 and from there they started to march towards Tohmajärvi arriving there till 28.6.II/JR 30 was first held in corps reserve but it too soon started march to Tohmajärvi,where it was united with rest of regiment.

25.6.41 hostilitys between Finland and Soviet Union started and JR 30 was near border busy with last minute training.The regiment as part of 7.Division belonged to VII Corps in Karelian Army.Between 1-10.7.41 regiment send 16 patrols to scout enemy positions and found that it faced the Soviet IR 402/168.Rifle Division.The Soviet division was a battle hardened unit well known from Winter War and it again proved to be a formitable foe.

10.7.41 JR 30 started the attack over the border in Pälkjärvi during thunderstorm and without artillery barrage in hope to gain surprise.First attack went smoothly but then it bogged down in front of strong enemy bunker-line.Now artillery support was used and enemy bunker-line was pierced.15-16.7.41 JR 30 arrived to Pirttipohja and cut the enemy rairoad line there.Enemy train arrived loaded with soldiers and supplies and it was fired by 20mm at-rifles.One round hitted to ammunition cart and most of train exploted with 200m high fireball.

The enemy forces in Pirttipohja were encircled and they lost c.300 KIA and c.100 POW.There was no time to count captured material,it was a task to following troops.JR 30 casualties were 52 KIA,189 WIA and 7 MIA.Much trouble was caused by enemy artillery spotters who camouflaged themselves and let Finnish troops bypass them and then directed very heavy and accurate artillery fire with radios.One brave artillery spotter pinned down whole II/JR 30 to field for 2 hours.Luckily soft ground prevented casualties.

24.7.41 JR 30 reached Lake Ladoga shore in Kirjavanlahti 10 km NE from Sortavala.Here enemy suffered c.400 KIA and 35 POW casualties and men of JR 30 had two day rest period.The regiment then continued its advance towards Sortavala and 28.7.41 a stroke of good luck occured when  I/JR 30 destroyed 2 armoured cars.On one of them body of chief of staff of 198.Rifle Division Lt.Col.Sinyk was found.With his was copy of Soviet counter attack plan and JR 30 was ordered to defence.Soviet 168.and fresh 198.Rifle Division started their attack against Finnish VII Corps.Heavy fights raged for 4 days and positions changed hands many times and 8 Soviet tanks were destroyed by JR 30 but lines held.Till 2.8.41 Soviet attack had lost its steam and after scattered Soviet units were mopped up,attack towards Sortavala continued.9.8.41 JR 30 reached Karmalansalmi c.4km West of Sortavala town.After 12 days of continious fights in hot summer weather,the goal of attack was within their reach.

On the morning of 10.8.41 JR 30 started to cross the strait in Karmalansalmi with footbridges and sheltered by artillery barrage and smoke screen.Finnish troops advanced cautiously and by avoiding excess casualties  towards town from multiple directions and the enemy was forced to withdraw to town.Also artillery fire to town was minimized to prevent damages.Soviets resisted stubbornly and some fought till death even after they were forced to retreat to their arms depth in water to lake aistle.By 15.8.41,after 6 days of battles, town of Sortavala was captured even after stragglers were found after few days.Soviets lost 540 POW's and  first town of ceded terrotories was re-captured.

The commander of 7.Division Colonel Antero Svensson was awarded with Knight of Mannerheim Cross for these battles and men of JR 30 were granted a week rest.Meanwile I Corps continued its attack against reinforced Soviet 168.Rifle Division but it skilfully managed to withdrew with parts of its equipment to Valamo by 20.8.41.

23.8.41 JR 30 left Sortavala and regiment relieved JR 13 from front in Varloi 2.9.41.While rest of regiment send patrols to scout enemy positions,reinforced III/JR 30 took village of Kontuselkä 3.9.41.battalion continued village of Villala but then dogged enemy resistance stopped its advange.10.9.41 Finnish aerial reconnaissance detected 9 km long Soviet column South of Pyhäjärvi.They were remains of 272.Rifle Division that were trying to escape to their own lines but they were making slow progress because advancing Finns had cut road between Prääsä and Kaskana.

Finnish troops of VI Corps were send to destroy it and between 13-16.9.41 elements of 7.Division encircled the enemy.16.9.41 III/JR 30 reported that it had captured 10 km long enemy column.With this battle remains of Soviet 272.Rifle division were annihilated.Enemy lost c.500 KIA and 200 POW.Also it left most of its equipment behind.13 armoured vehicles,33 guns,over 220 motor vehicles,290 horses,61 heavy&light machine-guns and 1000 rifles were found among other booty.Finnish troops,tired of battles and poor roads,were delighted of war booty and without doubt rations and vodka they found.


18.9.41 the regiment started its march from Kaskana to Tarsepoli in genuine wilderness.Men advanced thru almost untouched dense forest for 4 days.35km road was constructed by regiment,including 12km corduroy road for softer parts and over 1000 mines were removed.

21.9.41 elements of 7.Division cut the Murmansk railroad line.Soviet 3.Rifle Division tried with furious counterattacks re-open the line but till 22.5.9.41 line was held fast by Finnish troops in Latva station area.Next 4 days and nights JR 30 advanced towards Petroskoi.Despite the fact that supply had to be transfered thru poor road from Kaskana,regiment moved 50km.

1.10.41 strenght of I/JR 30 was 28+771=799.II/JR 30 30+793=823.

1-13.10.41 JR 30 pursued the remains of 3.Rifle Division as it retreated towards River Syväri (Svir).Despite Finnish efforts some 1500+ men escaped over the river.For bravery with these actions and early deeds, CO of 1./JR 30 1st.Lt.Reino Korpi was awarded with Knight of Mannerheim Cross.JR 30 crossed the river Syväri peacefully and assembled to region of Homorovits

Soviets realised that advanced Finnish troops posed a threat to important road junction and supply center near lake Gongenitsa.To remove that threat and perhaps to throw Finnish troops back to North side of river Syväri,Soviet started an attack against Finnish JR 51 14.10.41 with 114.Rifle Division.The division was commanded by Colonel Devjatov and it was fresh from Siberian and had armour support.

To relieve the pressure against JR 51and JR 30(-I battalion) started an attack against flank of 114.Rifle Division in 18.10.41.Heavy fights ensued and 21.10.41 JR 30 found that it was surrounded in isthmus between two lakes.The long advance and heavy fights had made men exhausted and some companies had only 28-35 men left.The situation was grave indeed.A prompt counterattack reopened the supply line and drove away 300 strong enemy unit from the rear.The regiment was saved from encirclement but it was exhausted and settled for defence.The I/JR 30 and elements from JR 51 tried once again to encircle 114.Rifle Division but attempt was unsuccessful.

The battle against fresh division was too much for men who had fought  2 1/2 months without respite.The river Syväri was generally considered to be ultimate objective and when battles continued on the other side of river,men had motivation problems.Men tired of 6 days continuance battles had tendency to "sneak off" from lines.Had the enemy unit been more aggressive in rear,the JR 30 would had been in great trouble to drove it away.In all likehood the regiment would have had suffered severe casualties in breakthrough.However the attack of JR 30 was not in vain.It helped to break off 114.Rifle Division attack.According the captured documents 114 Rifle Division suffered 179 officer,419 nco and 2585 enlisted casualties as KIA/MIA till 29.10.41 in fights against JR 30 and JR 51.The division suffered some 3000 more casualties in fights in same time against JR 9.The front line freezed to these positions.

15.12.41 Soviets suddenly started an offensive in Gora sector and very heavy fights for almost a month started.After they captured village of Gora,the enemy tried to cuttoff the supply lines of 7.Division.Several counterattacks by Finnish forces halted the Soviets advance and eventually attacking Soviet forces were surrounted to village of Gora,where most of them were destroyed.Only remains remains escaped.Soviets lost 2700 KIA and 23 POW.Also 11 tanks were destroyed and 64 mg's destroyed/captured.The battle was fought in severe cold,the temperature being often below -30 C,against very determinated foe.Finnish troops,mainly the 7.Division,suffered 1007 casualties.The strenght of JR 30 was before battle 1618 men.Casualties of JR 30 between 15.12.41-10.1.42 were 39 KIA and 332 WIA/Sick.II/JR 30 didn't take part to this battle,it was securing flank of 7.Division.

After this battle JR 30 settled for defense positions to 17km long Barani sector.The terrain was wilderness and JR 30 started fevered work to fortify its positions,as did the Soviet 114. and 272.Rifle Divisions on the opposite direction.During first months of 1942 older men born between 1897-1905 were disbanded and younger men fresh from training camps joined the ranks.

11.4.42 Soviets started a spring offensive along whole Syväri river.The sector occupied by JR 30 wasn't the focal point of attack but here too Soviets tried Finnish defences firstly with platoon and company level attacks.The attacks intensified and lasted for 10 days.The Finnish lines remained intact and Soviets suffered some 1400 KIA from 4 or mayby 6 battalions strong attacking forces.JR 30 suffered 20 KIA and 45 WIA casualties.Enemy attacked bravely against newly build Finnish field fortifications but with help from efficient artillery support attacks were stopped to their tracks.This successful action boosted the morale of young recruits and older well experienced men of JR 30.

From here started the long trench war period that lasted to June 1944.However both sides were active with sending patrols to probe enemy positions.In August/September 42 JR 30 send 211 patrols.Soviets were at lest alike busy or more usually more active.Fortification works also continued on both sides.

JR 30 had some visitors too.German Hauptman von Sichert came to learn about forest fightning in July and Field Marshall Mannerheim inspected the JR 30 positions 17.8.42.On 25.7.1942 Colonel Erkki Ruotsalo(nicknamed "Sota Erkki" by men) fell severy ill and left the regiment.The new CO was Lt.Col.Eino Pólon.For his earlier deeds he was awarded with Knight of Mannerheim Cross 23.8.1942


The positions of JR 30 were in wilderness in deep forest.Usually in no man's land some 200 meters area was cut down to make better field of fire.By 1943 at least 3-line barbed wire obstacle was ready and most importants dugouts were shielded extra obstacles and mines.One company of each battalion that was manning the line was kept in reserve.So regiment's CO had in any given time 3 companys+at-company+jäger platoon ready for counterattack.Effectively a force strenght of battalion.

1943 went on relatively quiet.With usual patrols and occasionally raids to destroy harmful enemy positions.JR 30 suffered during 1943 29 KIA,165 WIA,1 POW and 1 very rare deserter casualties.Soviets casualties were 305 KIA and 36 POW.

Year 1944 started calmly too.Between 1.1.44-1.4.44 JR 30 suffered 7 KIA,33 WIA and 1 MIA.Soviets lost 75 KIA and 2 POW.JR 30 launched 157 patrols and 92 enemy patrols were noticed.But the calm period for men of JR 30 was about to stop.

8.6.44 it was announced that JR 30 would finally be send to rear for rest.The regiment had manned the front line without respite for whole war.On next day Soviet Union started its 4th strategic attack on Karelian Isthmus.The transfer to rear was cancelled for JR 30 and regiment was put to readiness.17.6.44 regiment was ordered to withdrew silently and get ready for transfer to Karelian Isthmus.

JR 30 arrived to Ihantala 27.6.44 to middle of battle that would to be biggest in Scandinavian history.The Soviet XXX Guards Corps with strong armour support was trying to advance towards village of Ihantala.The Soviet troops were cramped to 6km deep and 1 1/2km wide wedge and Finnish forces had tried twice to encircle that force.JR 30 got very much involved to third try.

In the morning of 28.6.44 I/JR 30 was left to reserve for 11.Division and rest of regiment was attached to battle weary Armoured Division for attack towards Talin Mylly and  cutt off Soviet XXX Guards Corps.That started the 2 day ordeal that proved to be one of the toughest period for the regiment.

In the early hours of 28.6.44 the command tent of 14./JR 30 received an direct artillery shell hit.All the officers of at-company were killed or wounded.While the regiment was assembled to attack formation in 0900 it was attacked by 130 enemy aircrafts and received an horrendous artillery barrage.The effect for men open in rocky terrain was horrific.The I/JR 30 lost all of its company commanders and battalion was  dispersed.The casulties for other battalions were severe too and regimental horse-drawn supply column was destroyed.The attack was broken even before it had started.Situation was very confusing and communication lines worked poorly.The front line was unfixed and Lt.Col.Pólon was almost killed by enemy patrol.Only fast shooting of Adjutant Captain Soininen saved the commander.

In the evening of 28.6.44 JR 30 tried again to attack but before they had started,Soviets started their attack in Kuusela area.II and III/JR 30 mounted a counter attack that throw enemy away.Men of JR 30 stayed in re-captured positions without warm food and and their supplies of dry food and ammunition was exhausting fast.Many men were needed to carry wounded men long way to first aid posts in rear.


29.6.44 started and continued under heavy enemy artillery fire.Finnish HQ had realised that its forces were too weak to encircle Soviet XXX Guards Corps and halted the attack.The battalions in jaeger brigade were down to 100-200 men and infantry units were not in much better state. The plan was to withdrew jaeger brigade from North of Leitimojärvi,while JR 30 holds its lines in Murokallio and shields the withrew untill it disengages too.However due the malfunctioned radios and cutt off telephone lines JR 30 never received this order.On acting with old orders JR 30 started an attack to relieve pressure against jaeger brigade and save 5th and 6th companys of II/JR 30 that were encircled and hadn't been contacted.But the missing companys had already been pulled back with remains of jaeger brigade and regiment carried on for 4 hour long attack that was futile.Now JR 30 was under enemy threat from all sides.Luckily most men of JR 30 managed to slip back to own lines via Murokallio.

These 2 days were a grueling campaign for JR 30 indeed.The regiment lost staggering 49 officers and 1342 nco's and men in just 2 days between 28-29.6.1944.This figure includes also men dispersed and disoriented during very confusing battle and ranks were filled when these men joined their units again.The total casulties were still over 700 men in KIA/WIA/MIA in 2-3 days.Also regiment lost its supply column and most of its heavy weapons and equipment.

Men of JR 30 were battle hardened veterans but the ferocity of great battle was an overwhelming experience.The enemy's mass use of artillery and airpower was in a scale unheard before and their effect was increased with rocky terrain and lack of fixed positions.In  hindsight Finnish attempt to encircle Soviet XXX Guards Corps was a bit too ambitious to success.Finnish forces were exhausted and had suffered too much casulties to cutt off Soviet wedge.And had they been successful,its highly doubtful that they would have been able to hold on against assured Soviet counterattack.But these attacks were not in vain.They consumed Soviet attacking forces and forced them to divide their units to deal with this threat.It bought much needed time that allowed  Finnish 6.Division to arrive bolster the defence and eventually halt the Soviet advance.The 28-29.6.1944 in Tali-Ihantala were the most critical time of summer 1944 battles.No less than whole independence of Finnish nation was on stake.

II and III/JR 30 withdrew to village of Korpi for rest and regroup.130 men strong I battalion stayed attached to JR 35 and fought in Tähtelä area and hold on its line.It was returned to regiment in night of 8./9.7.44.The regiment was first moved to Ruokojärvi and then to Mustajärvi 12.7.44 and it started a training of new replacements and fortification works.The Panzerschreks and Fausts were introduced to men.Also in 6.7.44 regiment CO Eino Pólon was promoted to Colonel but he left on same day.Lt.Col.Kalle Pakarinen became the new CO and he stayed on that post till disband of regiment.18.7.44 Sergeant Erkki Oinonen was awarded with Knight of Mannerheim Cross.


28.7.44 JR 30 was send againt to front line and it relieved 20.Brigade from Juustila sector.The Soviet attack had been stopped and both sides had dug in.But the fights still went on.500-600 artillery rounds were fired on regiment positions daily and patrols & snipers were active too.JR 30 suffered 11 KIA and 100 WIA casualties between 28.7-4.9.44.Soviet casulties were 23 KIA/POW and regiment snipers claimed 30 confirmed kills.To strenght at-capability,13.Gun Company was added to regiment and on 29.7.44 19.Gun Company too.32.Gun Company was also in regments area until it was chanced to 10.Gun Company 4.8.44.The at-defence was sufficient but luckily it was never needed.


The Finnish soldiers had bought time for politicians and peace talks between Finland-Soviet Union started.4.9.1944 clock time 0410  regiment received following phone message from division CO:

"Amistice has been made with Russians.Cease all hostilities from 0700 today.Announce to all subordinates and units in area.Discipline must be absolute maintained.Fraternization with enemy after 0700 is out of question.Before 0700 enemy might fire heavily.-Heiskanen"

However Soviets continued fire after deadline and in some sectors even mounted small attacks.After Finnish delegate under protection of white flag made contact with Soviets,they told that they hadn't been informed of cease-fire but had heard of it in radio broadcasts.5.9.44 Soviets announced that they had been ordered cease hostilities 0800.Two days later Finnish peace delegation crossed the front lines on JR 30 sector when they travelled to Moscow for peace talks.

20.9.44 according the peace treaty JR 30 pulled out was marched back to 1940 border.20.9.44 regiment also suffered its last casualty when Lance-sergeant Kokko was badly wounded when he dismandled own minefield.Disbandment started 1.10.44 from oldest and youngest men and by 14.11.1944 regiment was dissolved.The war had ended for men of JR 30.

Commanders

Everstiluutnantti Erkki Ruotsalo (17 June 1941 - 25 July 1942)
Everstiluutnantti Eino Pólon (25 July 1942 - 6 July 1944)
Everstiluutnantti Kalle Pakarinen (6 July 1944 - 14 Nov 1944)

I/JR 30

Maj Väinö Väinölä (17 June 1941 - 27 June 1941) (temp)
Maj Yrjö Väänänen (27 June 1941 - 18 July 1941)
Capt Niilo Pietiläinen (18 July 1941 - 6 Aug 1941) (wia)
Maj Väinö Väinölä (6 Aug 1941 - 20 Sep 1941)
Maj Niilo Pietiläinen (21 Sep 1941 - 25 July 1942)
Maj Olavi Korhonen (25 July 1942 - 27 Dec 1942)
Maj Kustaa Puhakka (27 Dec 1942 - 23 Mar 1943) (temp)
Maj Olavi Korhonen (23 Mar 1943 - ?)
Maj Viljam Toiviainen (? - 5 July 1944)
Capt Matti Rautaharju (5 July 1944 - 23 Aug 1944)
Capt Reino Korpi (23 Aug 1944 - 14 Nov 1944) (temp)

II/JR 30

Capt Juho Hänninen (17 June 1941 - 9 Oct 1941) (sick)
Capt Matti Rautaharju (9 Oct 1941 - ?) (temp)
Maj Juho Hänninen (? Dec 1941 - 25 Jan 1943) (sick)
Maj Mauno Oksanen (25 Jan 1943 - 26 Mar 1943) (temp)
Maj Juho Hänninen (26 Mar 1943 - 14 Nov 1944)

III/JR 30

Maj Kaarlo Castrén (17 June 1941 - 16 Nov 1942)
Capt Mauno Oksanen (31 Dec - 24 July 1944)
Maj Jaakko Jaakonkari (24 July 1941 - 14 Nov 1941)

Area of operations

North of Lake Ladoka (28 June 1941 - 23 Aug 1941)
Olonets (2 Sep 1941 - 1 Oct 1941)
South of River Svir (14 Oct 1941 - 15 June 1944)
Karelian Isthmus (27 June 1944 - 19 Sep 1944)

Subordinated

7.Division (17 June 1941 - 31 Aug 1941)
17.Division (1 Sep 1941 - 6 Sep 1941)
7.Division (6 Sep 1941 - 29 Sep 1941)
Detachment Lagus (30 Sep 1941 - 4 Oct 1941)
7.Division (4 Oct 1941 - 16 June 1944)
11.Division (16 June 1944 - 28 July 1944)
17.Division (28 July 1944 - 6 Aug 1944)
11.Division (6 Aug 1944 - 27 Sep 1944)
7.Division (27 Sep 1944 - 14 Nov 1944)

Sources used

Mauno Kuosa:Täss'Savon Joukko Tappeli.Jalkaväkirykmentti 30 1941-1944
Suvasrannoilta Syvärille.6./JR 30 (”Villen”) Jatkosota
Riistavedeltä Rintamalle
Einar Palmunen:Shemenskin-Pertjärven Taistelut
Pentti Tikkanen:Kalpa ja Teräs
Kalvan Taipaleelta I-II
Paavo Kasurinen:Kotikontujen Tienoita Tervehtien
Matti Lappalainen&Antti Henttonen:Tuolla Puolen
Syvärin.Rajajääkäripataljoona 4 Jatkosodassa
Matti Koskimaa:Veitsen Terällä

Reference material on this unit

Mauno Kuosa-Täss'Savon Joukko Tappeli.Jalkaväkirykmentti 30 1941-1944
Suvasrannoilta Syvärille.6./JR 30 (”Villen”) Jatkosota
Riistavedeltä Rintamalle

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