Dark Day at Taipale - Winter War
Dark Day at TaipaleBy Ozgur Budak
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|First Side:||Red Army|
18 FEBRUARY 1940, KIRVESMAKI, TAIPALE FRONT The heavy fighting at Taipale entered a calm period in January and both sides tried to recover from the losses of December. In February, bolstered by reinforcements, Russian command launched several heavy offensives in Koukkuniemi Peninsula, Terenttila and Taipale. Those offensives were undertaken by two fresh units; the 150th and 142nd rifle divisions. Finnish III Corps had no reserves and their strength had been wearing down by the repeating Russian attacks. The 10th Division, which was renamed as the 7th Division, had to fight on its own against an enemy who was getting stronger every month. The breaking point came on February 18. Soviet bombers had been bombing the Finnish positions in Kirvesmaki since February 08. The bombardment was aimed especially at the command centers of the 7th Division and the concrete bunkers in and around the Kirvesmaki strong point. On 18 February 1940, after two calm days, Red Army launched a powerful offensive on Kirvesmaki and Terenttila villages. By the first lights of the day, dozens of Russian planes bombed Finnish positions. At 09:00, the Russian infantry started its advance. The majority of the Finnish trench system was destroyed by aerial and artillery bombardment. Officer casualties were very high severely hindering the rallying attempts. Russian 150th Rifle division, supported by armor, achieved several breakthroughs between Kirvesmaki and Terenttila. The Russian advance was threatening the staff point and the bunkers at Kirvesmaki, a vital center for the Finnish defenses near Suvanto River. The crack battalion of the 21st Regiment commanded by Captain Sorri was forwarded to stop the Russians and save the day.