Purpose of this blog

Dmitry Yudo aka Overlord, jack of all trades
David Lister aka Listy, Freelancer and Volunteer

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The only Tank in the Village

Here’s the first of the Competition articles. This was originally written by NAKKE_FIN from the EU server. With his permission I’ve gone through and tweaked some of the English for a better flow, and added some bits I found on the subject.

During the Continuation War approximately 500 000 Finnish soldiers and 200 000 Axis soldiers fought against 1 500 000 Soviet soldiers. The Finnish side had only one armoured division (Finnish Armoured Division) at the beginning of the Continuation War, consisting of obsolete T-26 and Vickers 6 ton tanks. Meanwhile the Soviet Union had approximately 4900 tanks on the Finnish front. The Finns also lacked the modern anti-tank weapons needed to deal with the Soviet tanks. Instead the Finns had to rely on the bravery of their troops armed with improvised weapons such as packs of explosive and smoke grenades to obscure the vision of the tanks. To encourage the soldiers even further, rewards such as extra leave, were offered for destroying enemy tanks.

 The Finnish military began an offensive in July 1941 at Ladoga Karelia.  Later in July the offensive at East Karelia was started.  On the northern front at the village of Salla (often called Alakurtti, which appears to be the region, not the village) the Finnish JR 33 1st battalion meet with a lonely KV-2. The KV-2 had been born out of the trouble the Soviets had encountered when facing the Finnish defences during the Winter war.
The first sign of the battle was when the lone KV-2 appeared to the front of the Finnish trenches. The monstrous heavy tank rolled out of the woods and down the road towards the Finnish lines.

 The first shot of the 152mm cannon started to spread fear amongst the Finnish soldiers. The KV-2 found a gap in the Finnish mine fields and started to push through the lines, defensive fire ricocheting off the tanks armour. Even the few dedicated anti-tank weapons the Finns possessed had no effect. As the behemoth loomed over them with the ground trembling under the roar of its engines and the monstrous turret blocking out the light, the Finns threw grenades at the tank but they seemed to do no harm. The Finnish line bent under the pressure.

For some reason after few hours the KV-2 stopped the assault and fell back. Finns started to place mines in the gap in their minefield which the KV-2 had found. Just as they were finishing the task in the distance they heard the squeak of the tanks tracks as it roamed out of its forest lair once more.
 The KV-2 reappeared and drove directly towards the Finnish lines again. The sound of mines exploding filled the air, but the mighty fortress of a tank was impervious to the anti-personnel mines the Finns had placed. The horror filled the minds of the Finnish soldiers. Finally when the KV-2 drove over eight mines it lost its tracks and had to stop. Still the tank was capable of firing towards the Finnish lines. No gun the Finns had could penetrate the hide of the KV-2, so the Finns had to wait for the night to close with and destroy this beast.
 When the darkness came the Finns formed a group to destroy the immobilized tank. The Finns were armed with iron bars, Molotov cocktails, smoke caskets and explosives. The assault party sneaked through the still night, if the KV-2 saw them it would open fire with that devastating cannon. Finally they were close to the tank, and leapt onto it. First the machine gun barrels of the KV-2 were smashed with iron bars to prevent the crew from shooting at the close targets. They then tried to set it on fire with Molotov cocktails but the tank was not lit regardless of several attempts. The smoke caskets were triggered to drive the crew out of the tank but the persistent crew remained inside the tank. Finally the explosives were set on the ground next to the tank and the tank tilted towards the ground by the impact but still the crew remained alive inside the tank.
The Finns were afraid that KV-2 would soon receive help; therefore the attempts to wreck the tank were hastened. The tilted tank was unable to defend itself against Finnish combat engineers who placed 30kg of explosives on the turret. The tank was lit up by the explosion and moments later blew up. 
The actual remains of the KV-2 after the explosion.
The battle against the steel monster was over. Several Finns were wounded in the battle but only one combat engineer was killed when placing the mines.This was the only time the KV-2 saw action in Finland.

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