Saturday, May 7, 2016

December 29, 1939: Finns Tighten the Noose

Friday 29 December 1939

29 December 1939 Finnish ghost skiiers
Finnish "ghost skiers."

Winter War: On 29 December 1939, about 250 Finnish ski troops act like partisans and ski across the border to the Leningrad-Murmansk railway line. There is no alternative route for the line, which is the Soviet Union's main warm-water port. The Finns blow it up at three separate points and penetrate as far as Kandalasksha, much like a Civil War cavalry raid.

Winter War Army Operations: The Finns overpower the remaining Soviets at Suomussalmi. They capture 11 tanks, 25 guns and 150 trucks. The Soviets manage to take with them 48 trucks, 20 field guns and 6 tanks. The Finns kill the stragglers in the town and send some men to pursue the ones who left on the ice. Now, it is time for the majority of the troops to turn complete attention to the doomed 44th Rifle Division on the Ratte road leading into the town.

The 44th Rifle Division could probably get away; at least large portions of it. However, its orders are to stay put. This is despite the fact that it no longer has a mission, as the troops it was sent to relieve have now left by another route. Stalin is exercising his command style, which is to condemn unsuccessful formations to their doom regardless of less-destructive alternatives. There are many more where they came from in the vast Soviet Union.

Soviet troops at Salla, which have been under relentless Soviet pressure for weeks, are refusing to follow orders to perform what they consider to be suicide missions. This is not the first time this has happened during the Winter War.

Soviet Military: Chief of Staff Shaposhnikov plans a mass attack on the Karelian Isthmus toward Viipuri. If successful, it would decide the war - which, according to all estimates, should have been decided already. Commander of the Kiev Military District Semyon Timoshenko "volunteers" to lead the new operation, while Kirill Meretskov, whose original plan has failed, is demoted to command of 7th Army.

Battle of the Atlantic: It is one of the quietest days of the war in the endless battle of the high seas. Convoy HG 13F departs from Gibraltar, and HX 14 departs from Halifax.

Finnish Government: The Finns lodge a diplomatic protest with the Estonian government about the presence there of Soviet destroyers. They are there pursuant to the recent Soviet/Estonian basing agreement.

German Government: Responding to Fritz Thyssen's critical comments about Hitler in Switzerland, the Reich police issue a warrant for Thyssen's arrest. Of course, it cannot be executed, as Thyssen is in Switzerland - for now.

Turkey: Earthquake tremors continue, and the death toll has risen to estimates of 20,000.

29 December 1939 Soviet prisoners
Captured Soviet soldiers, December 1939.

December 14, 1939: Quisling Meets Hitler
December 15, 1939: Chinese Winter Offensive in High Gear
December 16, 1939: Battle of Summa
December 17, 1939: End of Admiral Graf Spee
December 18, 1939: Battle of Heligoland Bight
December 19, 1939: British Disarm Magnetic Mines
December 20, 1939: Finnish Counterattacks Continue
December 21, 1939: Finns Plan More Counterattacks
December 22, 1939: Enter Chuikov
December 23, 1939: Failed Finnish Counterattack
December 24, 1939: Soviets on the Run
December 25, 1939: Fresh Soviet Attacks
December 26, 1939: Vicious Battles at Kelja
December 27, 1939: Grinding Finnish Victories
December 28, 1939: Liberators
December 29, 1939: Finns Tighten the Noose
December 30, 1939: Finnish Booty
December 31, 1939: Planning More Soviet Destruction


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